The Twisted Crypt Testing Space

When Slay and, ah, 'BoltMan' arrived at the link provided, they would find themselves in a location that looked something like a waiting room, crossed with a relaxation centre. There was soft carpet on the floor, though it was a tight weave for ease of cleaning, and the walls were decorated in soft colours that blended well; beginning with a deep blue at the skirting level, separated by a pale white dividing rail, and becoming a lighter blue for the upper majority of the walls. Rather than traditional omnipresent net-lighting, the space had a small array of dedicated light sources set into upward-facing holders near the top, which illuminated a sky-style ceiling, completely with slowly moving white clouds on a pale blue backing.

The room was quite spacious, and arrayed with a variety of different seating in small clusters around one side of the room. Most of it was designed to accommodate human-form navigators, but there were a good number of other options too, for navis with unusual shapes or sizes. Each corner of the room housed a decorative plant of some description, and though they each appeared to be real, rather than synthetic, it was still the net, so that assurance only really went so far.

Along the northern wall of the room, a series of four doors were laid out, with three of them closed and sealed. Each had a small series of green lights above the doors, save for the last remaining open door, whose lights were red.

As they might have each expected, the room also contained an assortment of other navigators, milling about or socialising while they waited for... something. That something revealed itself shortly after the two newest additions arrived, in the form of a voice speaking to them from some unknown source.

"Those are our last two by the look of it. Welcome BoltMan, and welcome Slay. You've got a little while before it'll be your group's turn to get started, so relax, meet you fellow testers and get to know each other. We'll begin your briefing in a few minutes." Most of the others looked towards the two new arrivals if they hadn't already been doing so; they had each probably all heard the greeting voice before and weren't surprised by it.

Around the room there were six other navis present: lounging in one of the chairs not far from the doors was a woman dressed in a full office secretary outfit that looked just a little bit too fetishised to be honest work attire. She had brown hair that was loose out, and fell in broad waves to just below her shoulders, creamy pale skin and traditionally pouty, full lips coated in a bright red. Her eyes were a cool blue, hidden behind formal black-rimmed glasses as she scanned over a magazine. The outfit itself consisted of overly tall black heels, tan stockings and short black mini-skirt that would probably show off a good portion of her rump no matter what she did. She was wearing a white blouse that dipped almost to her navel before joining up, and exposed a very broad expanse of generous cleavage, hemmed by the edges of lacy black lingerie. The black blazer jacket would probably have covered some of that up, if it were not also cut and tailored in asimilar fashion, and thus hid nothing.

More towards one corner of the room, another pair of navis stood close together, looking on at the group a little uncertainly. The first was a tall, strong-looking male, with tan skin and thick brown hair. It was cut shot and styled neatly, and matched the short, well-kept beard on his chin. He was wearing a pale pink muscle top that looked like it was a size or two too small for him, and served only to illustrate the striking amount of muscle definition his chest and abs had to show off. His jeans seemed to be a better fit, but they were still tight enough to showcase fantastic thigh muscles and an arse you could probably break walnuts on.

Tall enough on his own, and standing well over an equivalent of six and a half feet, the male was made to seem even more imposing by the relative slightness of the navi standing next to him. She was probably only just barely reaching a relative five feet, and was built like a straight-rule; she had enough of a bust to make it clear she was, in fact, female, but only just, and along with straight shoulders and distinctly non-curvy hips, she was kind of boyish. Her outfit didn't help much; plain running shoes, and black suit-pants, a long-sleeve button up shirt, grey, and a sensibly tailored black vest done up over the top of it completed the most obvious portion of her look, along with short-cropped hair done in something of a pixie cut. The hair itself was a bright, natural-looking yellow-blond, and her eyes were in that hazy territory somewhere between green and blue, and could probably be called either, depending on the light.

A little further away, was a navi that looked much less custom than the others, sporting mostly green colouration on his armour and undersuit, and a visible emblem on his chest that looked like three leaves with bites taken out of them. He was mostly keeping to himself, examining one of the plants in the corner curiously, though like the others he looked up towards Slay and LightningMan when the voice introduced them.

In the middle of the room, doing what looked like a great deal of nothing at all, another navi stood with his arms folded. Well, not quite nothing. He was talking to himself, quietly, or so it seemed, lips moving without making any sound as he stared at the carpet. He looked mostly humanoid, save for the fact that various parts of his visible body seemed to contain transparent bubbles of a volatile, green fluid. He was wearing only a pair of loose beach shorts, and thus was showing about as much skin as one could while still remaining respectably decent, and it was clear to see that the transparent bubbles worked their way through the majority of his body; wherever they cross through parts what would have solid bone structure, the internal bones could be seen passing through the liquid exactly where you'd expect them to, though the same could not be said for other essential organs, which were conspicuously absent from sight in bubbles that should have exposed them.

Lastly, a young-looking woman wandered back and forth near the right wall, casting occasional glances towards the other sealed doors. She stood at about average height, though a small part of that aided by the fact that she was wearing a set of simple red roller skates, and drifted rather than walked. Aside from those, she was wearing a strawberry coloured pleated skirt that came to her knees, and a matching fitted t-shirt with a high neck. The red contrasted nicely with the tone of her skin; a deep brown, just a touch richer than chocolate which followed with naturally expected trends of dark eyes and black hair. the latter was grown out to about her shoulders, but tied to either side by red hair bands, creating short, unplaited pigtails. As she moved back and forth along the length of the wall slowly, one cold guess that her average proportions also extended to he chest, which was neither lacking, nor remarkable, although if one were to look closer, you could make out the impression of a sports bra underneath the thin fabric of her top.

Slay and 'BoltMan' apparently had some time to get their bearings and introduce themselves or socialise, if they wanted to, before the testing began properly, and although the voice had briefly introduced both of them by way of welcome, none of the others were immediately coming over to say hi. they were a pair of fairly intimidating looking navis, though.
Slay's entrance seemed more than a little out of place in such a brightly lit, cozy room, but none the less, she appeared, emerging as a dark shadow from nothingness, then slowly adopting more of her traits, until her bloody apron was visible. She was dressed in her usual ensemble, although without the mask placed atop her head, so her gloomy, pale face was visible. Her sullen eyes glanced back and forth around the room, taking in the sights. Her first understanding was that the room was much more ordinary and sterile than she'd imagined it being considering the experiment she'd heard about. The second was that the navis inhabiting it weren't so normal at all, but more importantly, were great in number. Each of the strangers was foreign to her... but, then again, BoltMan himself was relatively unknown.

Regardless of being outside of battle, she carried her thick carving knife at her side, holding it underhanded with the rusty blade towards the floor. The other navis did have one thing in common: none was quite so intimidating looking as she herself was. Then again, her boots added only so much height, and she'd never be one to cast a shadow over anyone even with the boost. She raised her eyebrows and looked upward as a voice kindly instructed others to greet her and her partner, but noted that nobody was eager to do that. She'd just have to be the professional and take the initiative herself. "Hello, all. My name is Slay. I hope we work well together," she droned, giving a curt bow, before allowing her arms to hang lazily back at her sides.

Although it was unwise to judge anyone by their appearances, Slay allowed herself a few initial impressions of those she saw around the room. Her first was that she'd rather not interact with the lawyer-lady (or whatever she was) any more than she had to: anyone who flaunted their breasts like that was bound to be a pain to deal with.

The next two over looked normal enough. Well-dressed, really, if one was to take the standard of an actor-on-set as their ideal... though, she thought to herself, it was more unusual in her experience to see navis dressing as civilians than it was to see ones in costume.

The green fellow she couldn't quite decide on. No reason to be wary of him. If anything, the bite marks on his emblem indicated someone she might have something in common with; a fellow horror enthusiast, perhaps? His behavior of examining plants was a little odd, though. That was sort of a bizarre thing to see someone doing in a waiting room.

The guy in the center looked like he had her tastes in mind, with a good visual style for a horror monster. She thought about going over to talk to him about it and if he knew anything about work in the genre, but then, that wasn't a very professional way to start a conversation. He could be pretty self-conscious about that, after all. Personally, Slay would consider it a great compliment.

The last girl looked normal enough. Slay couldn't really form an opinion. "Although I wish she wouldn't dress that way... I can't help but be uncomfortable about anyone who dresses like a schoolgirl. That's a death flag, some times..." she thought to herself. For whatever reason, high school girls and guys made up a strangely large portion of the targets in slasher flicks.

She wanted to find someone to talk to, but she also didn't want to get separated from BoltMan or leave him awkwardly alone before the events started, so she decided she'd wait unoccupied and be ready to greet him when he showed up. Her shoulders slumped as she stared blankly towards the floor, zombie-ish, waiting for her ally to show (although she suspected he wouldn't be long).
Indeed, it wasn't long at all, as only a few seconds after Slay's slump, a thunderbolt landed only a few feet away from her, leaving LightningMan in its remains. He gave the room a quick lookover, but found nothing about it especially noteworthy. Perhaps not unexpectedly, he frowned at seeing the 'sky', and the lack of electrical emissions coming from it. He kinda wanted to fling some sparks at it and see if that did anything, but he should probably act more like a regular Navi, rather than one destined for greatness like him.

Speaking of acting, what was that 'emergent personal identity' nonsense the mission request was talking about? He'd probably find out before long, but they made it sound like it was more than technological babbling, at least to them. He wasn't going to strain his brain thinking about it, but it was worth keeping a backup generator hooked up to.

And those doors...locked meant green and open meant red? What kind of backwards logic were these people running on? Unfortunately, he couldn't see what was beyond the open door from there for any clues. Meh.

He glanced over each of the other Navis, but none of them really stood out to him. Well, actually, that guy with the green bubbles mildly piqued his interest, mainly out of curiosity of what they actually were. But he didn't care quite enough to go ask, so he was dismissed with the others. As he expected, none of them seemed especially strong, and/or were into cyberterrorism. Double meh. Though, where was Slay?

...Oh, there she was. Right next to him. Truthfully, if she whipped out a chainsaw and started wrecking the place up, he'd just sit back and watch, and laugh at the chaos. Sadly, that wasn't going to happen, based on how she acted before. Though, being level-headed wasn't the worst thing you could say about someone, especially when her operator was...THAT. He made Roderick look normal by comparison.

'BoltMan' proceeded to approach the nearest wall, and leaned his back against it, and glared straight ahead. "Hurry it up, already. I DON'T like having my time wasted."
With their entrance made and their names introduced, slay and LightningMan each had their own stance on how best to handle a room full of other navis. They were between them easily the most intimidating of those present, but after taking stock Slay opted to give herself a more polite introduction.

Of those who had cast the pair an eye or two, the sexy-secretary navi returned to her magazine in short order, without paying either more than a glance, despite Slay's attempt at cordiality, and the one examining the plants only looked up briefly and nodded in a distracted way before going back to... whatever he was doing. The oddly disproportionate couple of navis looked long enough for Slay to give her own greeting, and the male nodded to her with a small wave, before the pair began a quickly hushed conversation. It was possible hey were discussing whether to go over and say hi, or trying to work out which of them would do so, but the whispers went of for several seconds without either of them taking a step forwards.

The navi in the centre of the room, however, looked up when Slay spoke, his eyes going wide for a moment, as though her voice had somehow startled him greatly. When his face was turned towards her, it became clear to see that one of his eyes was also comprised of the odd pockets of fluid, though unlike his other apparently absent internal organs, a proper eyeball was suspended in the gently roiling liquid, fully connected at the back, but otherwise free floating in the green.

He glanced sharply to the side, muttering a last word to himself, then tried on a grin for her. It looked a little unpracticed. A moment later he unfolded his arms and took another step towards the actress, holding out one hand to shake with her if she would take it. One of the peculiar bubbles was set into a portion of his hand, and exposed the fine bone structure of it, surrounded by the green fluid, and another took over his entire middle finger. Is she shook the hand, Slay might notice that the bubble itself felt like it was made of something like plexiglass, or a plastic resin; it was solid and hard, and about the same warmth to the touch as his actual skin. If she was particularly sensitive, she might also feel the fluid underneath rushing about.

"Slay, 'allo. I am VerteFée. It is good to meet you." His eyes darted to the side again and he muttered something in a sharp snap, clearly not intended for Slay. "I will not!" It was a peculiar action, and one might assume he was simply communicating to an operator under normal circumstances... but there was something just a little bit off about it, too. Overall, the navi had the hint of an accent, but not enough to made understanding him difficult. He looked back at her, replacing the grin haphazardly. "Sorry. I hope you do not mind the saying, but, ah, you and your partner there look a bit frightening." Which again, was a little odd coming from the navi showing off patches of his bone structure.

Meanwhile, the navi with the roller-skates had looked across to LightningMan when he made his proclamation. She spun about on her skate, flaring her feet wide briefly to arrest the turn, then kicked off again to glide over to him, whether he wanted the company or not.

"You sound impatient." She drifted in and arc around him, looking him over. "You work in a power plant or something?" Done with the inspection, she came to a halt in front of him and folded her arms. They rested over her chest, rather than under it, even if it was 'BoltMan''s penchant to look, but he wouldn't have been missing out on much anyway. "They'll group us up and send us in soon. There were a lot of others, but they've all gone to begin testing in the other rooms, or something. We're the last group. I'm Cocoa." She pronounced it more like a challenge than a name, almost like she was daring him to make some kind of racially indelicate comment or joke.

A few moments later, the door on the end gave a tone, and the green lights blinked over to red one at a time. After that, the door swung open, revealing a white room with a long table and a Viewscreen on one wall. No navis came out of the room, though there did look to be another door in the far end, so perhaps the other testers finished the tests elsewhere. Two slim bolts of lights dropped down to give form to a pair of normal-looking navis dressed in industrial cover-alls and bearing cleaning supplies, who promptly filed into the recently opened testing chamber and closed the door behind them. The lights stayed red, however; testing was apparently no longer in progress behind door number one. Likely as not, it also meant that Slay, LightningMan and the other volunteers still in the room would be called into the other open doorway that awaited them shortly.

The secretary navi put her magazine down and stood up, tugging her skirt down in a way that only drew attention to how short it was, and then shifted and adjusted her blouse and jacket, once more in a way clearly designed to make people look at her assets. That done, she walked over to wait by the door that they would presumably being going into; anyone following suit and peeking inside early would see that their prospective room looked identical to the one the cleaners had just entered. Chances were all four doorways held identical spaces.

Slay thought to herself that BoltMan could use a few lessons in professional courtesy, but, on the other hand, the last person she'd worked closely with wore a bra on his head and had tricked her into believing a fake tragic backstory as soon as she'd met him just for the sake of setting up a joke about how much he loved boobs. She didn't really think he could do worse than that, unless he was some kind of evil net terrorist or something in secret.

The secretary's reaction to Slay's introduction hadn't done much to assuage Slay's initial bias against her. "You look wealthy. Invest in a skirt that fits," the actress thought to herself, although her face conveyed none of that emotion, nor the snark. She turned her head towards VerteFee, who had just introduced himself, and her goth-y face allowed her the rare, small smile. He didn't seem like a professional at communicating (really, it had taken a lot of practice for her to get the behavior down, even if she was still a bit awkward at it by nature), but he was trying. "No offense taken. I mean, I take it as a compliment, really. I'm an actress in slasher and horror movies, you know? So that's like saying... 'keep up the good work'... when you say it to me," she responded, still droning a bit despite her mirth. "Though, I don't know how he takes it."

Turning her head to look over one shoulder, Slay watched Cocoa approach BoltMan and engage in conversation. The girl didn't seem to have the best professional behavior either, but honestly, her brashness and terse talk reminded her a bit of BoltMan himself. She turned her attention back to VerteFee, then produced a small, square data pack in one hand and presented it to her new acquaintance. "That's my business card... although most people don't need an actress on call. Never hurts to network though... right?" she asked, tilting her head. "What do you do? I'm guessing it's pretty rare that someone picks up on your profession immediately... huh? Although a lot of navis are assistants for their operators as a full time job," she reminded herself out loud.

There wasn't a whole lot more time for chat, it seemed, but the two could at least continue to talk as they lined up behind the overly sexy secretary, who appeared to be leading them.
The lack of any greetings suited LightningMan just fine. He wasn't here to make friends, he was here to get stronger. The bubbled Navi eventually came up, though, and his sudden side remark made him raise an eyebrow. That didn't seem like talking to an operator. Split personality, perhaps? He wouldn't mind that sort of thing in the BIOS ranks, provided he didn't go around destroying allies. He was mildly amused at the 'frightening' comment, but neither showed it nor responded to it.

Less expectedly, one of the Navis showed up and started to take a look at him. He ignored her for a moment, but as she started talking, it became obvious she was going to go on regardless of whether he responded. And he probably SHOULD be a little nicer, seeing as how he was supposed to be a regular Navi here, and not the fearsome tyrant he usually tried to come across as. "I'm a busy Navi. Every second wasted waiting is a second I could be doing something more important. ...And no, I don't work in a power plant." He divulged nothing about his actual job, since, well, it was too soon to end up on Electopia's most wanted list. ...Was this Electopia? He couldn't quite tell which part of the Net this area was in. "Well, I guess if it's not too long a wait, I'll manage." He didn't react to hearing the name of the Navi bold enough to approach him; it wasn't interesting enough to talk about, or goofy enough to make fun of. Though, meh, he might as well return the favor. "...Name's BoltMan."

As he scanned the room once more, his gaze turned to the secretary as she moved. While some might've been turned on by the display, the electrical Navis just rolled his eyes. It was a transparent attempt to get attention, since if she truly cared about people not seeing thhe goods, she'd be wearing something else. What a total attention...well, honestly, he wouldn't be surprised if she wasn't just the attention variety. At least the girl that approached him had enough dignity to not try and draw eyes onto her. He ought to reward that by continuing to acknowledge her existence. "So, are you just here for the compensation, too? Or are you actually into this sort of thing?" He started to hover over towards the door they were probably going to go in, but he did so slow enough as to not discourage the conversation he was having.
In the middle of the room, VerteFée accepted Slay's calling card with a small nod, and tucked it away on his person. Given that all he was wearing was a pair of beach shorts, that was a pretty skilful action. In answer to her question, though, he held out one palm facing upwards, then put his other fingers over the clear bubble that made up the centre of it. When he lifted the fingers, they left behind a small shot glass, full with one measure of the same, gently bubbling green liquid.

"No, no! Strangers do not guess it often, you are right. You see, it is my job to bring the joys of the green pixie to everyone!" He seemed enthusiastic about this, and offered Slay the glass with a wink before calming down. Hopefully she'd recognise the term as one of the many pet names for absinthe, and not end up thinking he was peddling bodily fluids. Although... It might not be the worst thing Slay had encountered in her career even if he was. Still grinning, he shrugged. "But more generally, I and bar-tender and a mixologist. I enjoy inventing fancy new drink combinations suitable for navigators, and naming them fitting things! Ah, but, an actress, you say? Anything I might have seen?" His query was interrupted by another sudden sidewards glance and a snapped "It's not the time for that!" in a sharp, hushed whisper, before looking back to slay with an apologetic grin and a duck of the shoulders, but still no explanation.

Over by the wall, Cocoa hesitated a moment longer, making sure that he wasn't going to comment on the combination of her name and appearance, then relaxed a bit, beginning to skate slowly back and forth nearby. She still had her arms folded, and it was easy to get the impression that, despite her fairly cute appearance, she was more prepared to be brash towards others than pleasant.

"Hmph... BoltMan.... the electric or the metal kind?" Really, that should have been blindingly obvious, but for some reason she felt like asking. But not necessarily in really waiting for an answer too long; she only gave him a couple of seconds to respond before continuing right on regardless. "My operator says the pay for participating in the survey is going to be juicy, so he signed me up. Don't know how long it'll take though, since the other testers must come out somewhere else..."

There wasn't much time for any further chatter, though, as they each variously made their way towards the door; the causal over-voice began to speak again, and the remaining three followed over as well.

"So, looks like we're all ready! Welcome boys and girls, lads and ladies, dudes and dudettes, and miscellaneous oddly-shaped individuals of all types. Thank you all very much for agreeing to be test subjects in today's experiments and surveys. Now, listen up, I've got a few important points to cover before I send you all in." As before, the voice didn't really seem to come from any particular source, so much as being comfortably audible to everyone in the room. The navi with the leaf emblem was looking about the others casually now that he'd joined the group, though he appeared to be subtly chewing something. If anyone joined the dots and looked back, they might notice a large chunk gone from one of the plant leaves he'd been examining. The odd couple were mostly keeping to themselves, and the secretary looked... bored.

"First of all, it's important that you all follow any instructions given to you by myself during the tests. We don't want to contaminate any of the results, so please do as you're instructed, and refrain from any activities that you're cautioned against. Second, throughout all of these tests, you are all welcomed and encouraged to talk amongst yourselves or otherwise communicate; you can attempt to prevail upon one another or influence the decisions of your testing colleagues as much as you want; in a way this is part of the test, however, it is important that none of you seek to contact anyone outside of the testing environment for the duration. Consider this my first instruction. Lastly, regardless of what you think you see or hear, no-one is going to be in any danger, and no-one will be harmed over the course of these tests. Now, please enter the open doorway and take a seat in the first room. I'll be walking you through each test as we go, so you'll get more instructions once you're settled."

With a mumbled "Whatever", the secretary walked in, moving all the way to the back and taking a seat at the end of the table that was set up in the white room. Others were slower to progress, however. Of the couple, the strong-looking male bent his head towards the woman, listening while she muttered the fairly obvious question of why their tester had felt the need to make that last reassurance. Without an answer forthcoming from any quarter, though, they followed suit and made their way inside too.

Eventually, all eight of them would hopefully be inside the white room, though strictly speaking neither Slay nor LightningMan actually needed to sit down at the table; the leaf-eating navi had decided to buck the trend and sit in one of the corners with his legs crossed. Once they were inside, the pink-shirted male took a moment to catch both Slay and 'BoltMan's eyes, extending one hand in greeting to whomever seemed the most receptive.

"Hi, didn't say before, but it's nice to meet you. I'm CriesLikeAGirl, and this lovely lady is my partner, TakesItLikeAMan." If he was embarrassed by the names in any way, he didn't seem to show it, though chances were he'd been dealing with the natural level of confusion and ridicule that came with the name for some time now already. His partner didn't offer a shake, but did nod politely to each of them, though she looked cautious and concerned more than anything now. "Most people end up calling us Cry and Take, for short. It's easier, and less confusing." Nearby, the secretary failed utterly to suppress an amused and derisive snort at the names, though she'd probably heard them once already at least.

A small frown came to Slay (camouflaged amongst other similarly small frowns) as she heard BoltMan ask his new acquaintance whether she was into mysterious personality tests. She wasn't sure how anyone would respond to that question. The frown vanished and was replaced with... a pretty impassive horizontal line, somewhere between a smile and a frown, when VerteFee produced his shot glass. "Green pixie? Oh... I get it," she murmured, nodding slowly. "Hm, a navi mixologist. That's rare, but in this screwy net of ours, also useful," she admitted, allowing another very brief smile. "I don't drink much... outside of occassions." Her business-focused personality didn't allow her a lot of leisure time, and therefore, she hadn't had a lot of opportunities to consume an alcoholic drink. "But hey... I can probably still use a mixologist before you can use a horror actress, if you have a card," the girl joked in monotone, making it hard to tell whether she was joking or not.

"As for what I've been in... uh... Society of Skeletons... Society of Skeletons 2, 3, and 4... Bones in NetVegas... Um..." Slay murmured, getting off on a bad foot with several skeleton related movies she'd starred in. She was blowing her new friendship before it started. "Think, think, a movie with no skeletons..." she thought to herself, her eyes darting back and forth nervously. "... Murder Sisterhood?" she suggested, recalling to mind the terrible but fairly popular movie she'd made her breakthrough in, which had involved zombie nuns and a scene where a priest had his head smashed inside of an over-sized bible. "And the sequels," she reiterated. "You know, when I'm not actually the lead villain, I get cast in other roles, so... it'd just take a while to run through them all," she assured him. "If you name one, I'll tell you if I was in it," Slay suggested, giving a slightly more pleasant, laughing smile.

With BoltMan occupied speaking to Cocoa, she ignored him for now. For that matter, it seemed like their experiment was about to start; a greeting was being issued over something like a PA system. The rules that were given were actually a bit ominous, dealing with necessary care, privacy, and even how to handle perceived danger. These were actually exactly the sorts of things that would fit well in a sci-fi horror story, the kind where crazed doctors experimented on hapless subjects who then found themselves trapped within the experiment rooms. "It's really not healthy, is it? That that's the first place my mind goes?" Slay thought to herself, not for the first time that day. Still, Slay wasn't the type to actually worry about something like that, so she simply took a seat, hoping to be next to VerteFee and BoltMan if possible, since she was most familiar with those two.

Once inside, Slay would undoubtedly be the first to take the pink-shirted man's hand and receive the shake, as BoltMan was hardly the type to spring on such an opportunity. Her eyebrows turned into a sympathetic tilt as she heard the names of the two of them. Ordinarily, when someone chose to name their navi something terrible or jokey, it meant they were going to get bored of the navi and, ideally, give the navi to another owner... or, less than ideally, abandon them. If the operator did keep their navi, they'd probably change the name eventually. The fact that these navis were named such things and had apparently had a long time to get used to those names made her think they must have some truly sadistic operator or otherwise one who was just obnoxiously fond of pranks. "Nice to meet you, Cry, Take. I'm Slay. Here's my card," she announced, offering them the same square packet she'd given VerteFee earlier. "I'm an actress... mostly slasher and horror movies." Slay would only offer one card, as the two seemed the type to share and the other girl hadn't extended her hand to begin with.
Cocoa's question, surprisingly, didn't bother LightningMan in the least. In her defense, he did have a few large metal points coming out of him. But instead of speaking up about it, he extended his hand forward, and created a small ball of electricity inside of it. Unless she was incredibly dense, that'd answer that, even in the short window he had.

Before he could chime in with a 'sounds about right' to the girl's reasons for coming, instructions came down...or up...or the group. The electrical Navi listened; nothing too annoying. Really, he didn't care all that much whether someone got hurt, so long as it wasn't him. And maybe Slay, since anyone with an operator like hers had already had enough heaped on them by life. Other than that, whatever. Roderick could function on his own, and so could he.

Once he floated on into the room, 'BoltMan' immediately took the chair at the opposite end of the secretary, crossing his arms and, if possible, moving it back a bit so he could put his feet up on the table. If he was going to have to wait even longer, he was going to do it in comfort, no matter what the voice from nowhere was saying. ...Hmm, now that he thought about this whole arrangement for a sec..."Yo, Slay. Doesn't this remind you of that one horror movie, where a sadistic doctor trapped a bunch of student volunteers in testing rooms and performed horrific experiments on them? Although I forget the name of it." Unlike the horror actress, he had absolutely no issues with his train of thought. Odds were he'd had worse, anyway.

Upon hearing the latest introductions, he almost immediately fell out of his seat. Fortunately, he stopped himself. Unfortunately for others, he immediately burst out laughing. "Bwahahahaha!!! Wow, your operators must really hate you! That's just...ahahaha!!" Naturally, Slay accepted the handshake, and not him. Aside from the quick laugh, they weren't even worth his time.
Sharing casual small talk while they made their way into the room, VerteFée nodded to her, accepting the card and closing his hand over the shot glass again when it became clear that Slay wasn't about to take a full shot of absinthe before heading into a formal test. Quite sensible of her, really. Despite her misgivings about naming her movies, and indeed the quality of them, one or two of them brought another slight nod from the drink-navi.

"Ah, yes, yes... I have seen a couple of... oh! Oh, of course, yes!" The small chain reaction as the navi recalled movies and then connected the link between Slay herself and the characters within seemed to reach a proper moment of enlightenment when she mentioned her breakthrough film. Despite her own misgivings for its quality, the other navi seemed genuinely pleased to have identified her in a way he could link up. As an aside, he also didn't seem too embarrassed by being familiar with a goodly number of terribly bad horror flicks.

Not far away, Cocoa skated alongside Lightning Man as he made for the first testing room and took his place. She had been satisfied with his wordless answer, nodding to herself more than him, and not directly eager to strike up further conversation right away, now that she had determined he wasn't someone she was going to have to get angry at. All told, that might have been an unusual position for the mastermind, at least until the girl murmured softly as she skated through the doorway just ahead of him.
"Hah, you're not so scary..."

Inside, seats were taken and further introductions given. Some individuals reacted more tactfully than others, of course, but even 'BotlMan's unrestrained mirth at their situation didn't do too much: Take's eyebrows drew down into an unimpressed look, and the smallest curl of irritation tweaked at one corner of her mouth. Beside her, Cry winced, looking vaguely hurt by the reaction, and under the table his partner took a moment to grip his hand. Still staying quite close to Lightning, Cocoa had opted to jump up on the table itself, rather than taking a chair, her roller-skates kicking back and forth in a childish manner. This left her mostly facing away form everyone else, until she twisted, pulling one knee up and resting her ankle on the other, so she could sit side-on. The pose also let her lean back a touch so she could murmur something to 'BoltMan'.
"I know they're stupid names, but that was kinda mean..."

The politer navi handed out another business card in a convenient distraction, which Cry took with a grateful grin to her. A moment late,r though, LightningMan's other comment came out, publicly mirroring the thoughts that Slay herself had had.

The plant-oriented navi in the corner looked up at him, tilting his head to the side, but said nothing while the others looked at him and each other on a rough spectrum between unamused, nervous and even a little worried. In particular, Take's displeasure at the electric navi was quite clearly not decreased by his joking. At the opposite end of the table, the secretary laughed.

"You trying to make strange results, Sparky? Spook everyone and make the answer come out weird?" She laughed again, putting a hand to her chest in an action that was probably meant to be a traditional breath-catch moment, but was obviously unnecessary and more intended to draw eyes to her plunging cleavage again.

There was very little time to answer, however, as a the viewscreen lit up and the over-voice returned. Initially the screen showed a circuitry-style screen saver while the voice spoke.

"Before we begin our round of testing, I'd like you all to watch this short information recording, to give you each some back-ground on our study. It's not really necessary that you pay full attention to it, but some of you may be interested." The show began a moment later as the room lights dimmed, showing a still-frame montage that seemed vaguely related to the understood history of net navigators in general terms while a soothing documentary voice began talking. It would prove very difficult for Slay or LightningMan to actually pay attention to the show, however: within moments, each of them would hear the original voice much more directly talking to them, though there was no indication that anyone else could hear it. For Slay, the voice was calm and laid back, similar to what she'd heard before.

"Hello Horror-lady. Don't worry about the little film, that's a distraction for the others. I need you to listen to me now, instead. So here's the deal: I said before that everyone was encouraged to share and discuss and even influence each other as much as they wanted... but this little chat you and I re having now, this is secret. You cannot tell anyone, at all, about this, or what I'm telling you. That's important. Consider it a formal instruction, Slay. For this test, you cannot tell anyone else that I spoke to you now, or what I said. I have a little task for you. You have until the end of all the tests to complete it. What I want you to do, is this: Find out if any of the other testers have intimate orientations, and what they are if so. I'm not asking you to do anything more than that, just find out the information. Remember, you can't tell anyone that it's an instruction from me, and you have until the end of all the tests to get it done. Have fun!"

Not far away from her, 'BoltMan' was hearing a direct communication of his own. for him, the voice sounded more serious and less playful, but was nevertheless the same laid-back tone that the original greeting had held.

"So then, mister Fake-ID... don't sweat, I'm not tracing any further than that. Data manipulation is kind of my thing, though, so if you were expecting me not to notice, you're out of luck. Doesn't matter. 'BoltMan', then... you can ignore the docco, if you want, it's just a distraction for the others. Listen in and listen good. I don't like people lying to me, but it's all fair game after a fashion, so I have a little task for you. I told everyone that they can share things with one another, chat, debate, influence decisions, all that good stuff, but this? This is secret. Formal instruction: you cannot tell anyone else in the testing environment that I spoke to you now, or what I said. I don't much fancy your chances of getting paid if you do. Here's what I want you to do: Find out if any of the other testers are attached or romantically involved, and who with, if so. Remember, you cannot let them know it is an instruction from me. You have until the end of the last test to find out for each participant. Good luck..."

A brief glance around would show most of the other testers watching the film with varying levels of attentiveness, though the secretary navi looked less bored than she had a minute ago, and Cocoa had her head turned to the side slightly, looking more towards the wall. The film ended less than a minute later, and the lights came up again. Across from Slay, Cry and Take glanced side-on to each other, raising an eyebrow each. Neither said anything, but if anyone was watching for it, there was an almost imperceptible nod between them. Cry raised one hand between them, palm up and open, and Take seemed to think for a moment, then shrugged. They shared another small nod.

The voice returned, coming clearly tot he whole room again now.

"Thanks for bearing with that folks, now, if you'll move through, we can start the actual tests." A wall panel slid up at the far end of the room, revealing another space beyond. As they stood, some of the other navis looked a little more on edge than they had previously been, but they all began to make their way through. It turned out to be a short hallway that turned to the right, then right again after a short walk. When it opened into a new space, they found the floor to be coated in a plush carpet that was white, and an assortment of low, flat stools and benches covered in purple. Really, they were minimalist cubes and rectangles, only lightly cushioned, and when she entered the room, Cocoa clearly decided that the carpet itself was a better choice. She clomped into the middle of the room, her skates no longer rolling well on the long carpet, then promptly sat down and lay out flat, hands behind her head.

The others entered as well, variously sitting or standing, but the quiet navi sighed as he looked around.
"No plants here..." It was the first thing either Slay or LightningMan would have heard him say, and his voice was very soft.

VerteFee's recollection of Slay's old movies brought a bit of color to her very pale face; she wasn't used to the recognition and also wasn't sure whether to be happy or embarrassed to be associated with most of the films she'd named. Still, he seemed to be a fan, so she didn't want to bad-mouth her roles here. "You remember Murder Sisterhood, huh? That one takes me back. I was in a full sister's habit and zombie make-up, with some scenes also featuring a prosthetic suit, in that one... so most people wouldn't recognize me from sight. Well, that's the case with most of my roles, really... But yeah... Now you know the person behind the mask," she murmured, casting her glance aside bashfully. LightningMan provided a distraction from her career, but was still on topic; she nodded along with what he was saying. "It does remind me a lot of that. Satan's Ward, right? Unless you're talking one of the sequels," she responded, leaning her head on her fist casually. Slay wanted to continue talking about horror movies, as they were her passion, but there were Cry and Take's introductions to pay attention to now.

Her countenance darkened at LightningMan's reaction, which was unprofessional and moreover just mean. On one hand, she wasn't exactly his keeper and it looked as though plenty of people were already chastising him for his bad behavior... but on the other hand, she felt a little sense of obligation out of decency to lay into him. They'd also arrived together, so she couldn't pretend to be wholly ignorant of his behavior. "Come on... don't be a little brat," she dissuaded him, lowering her eyebrows and giving him a disappointed frown. "Only children would get such a kick out of name-calling..." The secretary had let out a hearty guffaw as well, furthering Slay's ire towards her. That said, she had no idea what the secretary was actually talking about... it sort of sounded like she had previous experience with the current test that gave her extra insight into the situation.

Finally, it seemed as though the actual test was going to begin. Intending to be a good tester, Slay turned her attention to the presentation and kept quiet, although her posture still left something to be desired. Just a short way in, however, her attention was diverted by the return of the strange voice which seemed to play only inside of her head, rather than coming from an external source. She couldn't tell if others were hearing anything, but the voice that was giving her strange instructions likely had commands for the others as well. Whether or not they were the same commands remained to be seen. Unfortunately, she couldn't just ask them, as the speaker demanded their request be kept secret. Slay was pretty good at keeping a poker face, so she continued to frown passively, but most of the others were doing about as good of a job; for all she knew, she might actually be the only one hearing anything. "Intimate orientations?" she thought to herself, half expecting the voice to speak again in response. "Huh... What a weird experiment," she thought to herself. "What could anyone do with that information? Well, I guess that's why they're the ones designing the sociological experiments and I'm the one acting in them." Slay wasn't entirely comfortable with the idea of digging up dirt on people, but, then again, it wasn't like she was going to injure anybody or use some sort of complex scheme to trick people into telling her what they didn't want to. She'd just make some observations and maybe ask some simple questions.

The next room that everyone was instructed to enter was definitely the sort one would expect to find in an experiment like this: mostly stark and sterile, so as not to form any bias on the part of particular results. That was fine with her; she took a seat on one of the chairs and hunched her back in her usual bad posture, looking at the others. She was now trying to devise the best way to gather information from the others, but it wouldn't be easy... everyone in the room was still pretty unfamiliar with one another, and she didn't exactly expect them to open up about their sexual preferences unbidden. That said, she still thought it would be the better option to wait until others began talking and then lead the conversation her way, if possible. Everything was going to be awkward, though, if no further instructions were given. She decided to make it a little less so by continuing her earlier chat. "You know a lot about the genre, VerteFee," she murmured, turning her head towards him and leaning her elbows onto the table. "You're a fan of the genre? Do you watch movies while you're at your work? Or maybe you're a collector...?" she inquired.
As Cocoa went on in ahead of him, her remark made him smirk. Oh, if she only knew who he really was...she'd be singing a completely different tune. Granted, such reactions were partly why he was using an assumed name. After sitting down and commenting on the scenario, Slay seemed quite in agreement. "Satan's Ward...yeah, that sounds about right." The secretary's remarks on it made him turn his gaze to her, though not caring enough to turn his head. "Well, Little Miss Personality, what if I was? Anyone that got unnerved by that deserves it."

His laughter at the utterly ridiculous names, however, was a bit more universally questioned, with the only two Navis in the room he'd consider sparing in case of a BIOS attack both being the most outspoken about it. "Hmph, I call it like I see it. Though, I did nothing of the name calling sort. If anything, their operators are the ones that did that." The electrical Navi chuckled for a moment, but his extra mirth was short lived as the voice spoke up once more. Recording? Yawn. He was just here for the reward, he had no interest in actually learning about the study. He looked blankly over at the screen, but he clearly wasn't focusing on the presentation. It was really the look one gave when one wanted to look like they were paying attention to something, but it was painfully obvious they weren't.

The voice then returned, though he could tell it was only being transmitted to him, based on how it sounded. Four words in, and LightningMan nearly fell out of his chair. He knew?! He said he wasn't tracing things beyond knowing his false identity...for the voice's own sake, he'd better be right, or else he might find an assassin or two in his future. He knew one in particular that could really make him regret it...

But that could be dealt with later. He couldn't exactly do much about it now. He now had a task. One he really could care less about, but whatever. As the voice told them to proceed, he got up out of his chair, and looked around. It seemed hard to believe that he was the only one to get any instruction...odds were at least one other Navi had gotten similar treatment, if not everyone. A couple of the others seemed a, compared to how they'd acted earlier. His combination of apathy and natural poker face made sure he wasn't one of them, though.

'BoltMan' let himself hover once again, and floated on into the next room. Nothing looked even remotely comfortable, and him sitting on the floor? Ha. He was content to just stay in mid-air, though he did place his hands on his hips in a display of mild impatience. He had plenty of time to worry about his task, and no one else was speaking up. He didn't need to act like he was doing a 180 in his personality. For now, he'd just wait for the first test. ...But was it really the experiment? Or was it just a front, and his (and probably others) assignment the true test? ...Just thinking was going to get him nowhere. He just needed to wait and see for now.
Carrying on their conversations in their own various ways, the group made their way to the new testing space and settled themselves; to her own questions, VerteFée was happy to relate to Slay a casual interest in horror in his spare time, though he didn't consider himself a buff at all. If either Slay or LightningMan were expecting that the others had received similar messages to them, it was clear that most of the other participants had suddenly found themselves with things on their minds, and were not actively starting up any fresh lines of chatter.

They were only in the room for a short while before the wall at one end lit up in another view screen. It was white to begin with, but small diagrams and simplistic icons began to form and illustrate the words of the voice as it returned.

"Right boys and girls, so first main test is a simple one. Remember you can talk amongst yourselves, influence other people's decisions, anything you like. No props or tools necessary for this one, it's all cerebral." Cry and Take had taken seats on some of the cushioned cubes by this point, and the plant-seeking navi was wandering a slow circle around the edges of the room. the secretary was standing by one wall with her arms folded, and, like LightningMan had not opted to sit down. VerteFée had grown increasingly distracted since Slay and LightningMan had had their own private instructions in the previous room. He was standing near the middle of the room with his arms folded and his head down, similar to the way Slay had first seen him. The voice continued.

"So, imagine, if you will, a situation that sees the eight of you trapped in a situation where you cannot get out." The screen drew a wire-frame cube and placed eight stick figures inside it. "The only way for some of you to escape and survive, is by sacrificing one, and only one, of yourselves. If you don't, then none of you will ever escape." On the screen, one of the stick figures had a red 'x' scratched through it, and fell sideways, followed by a door opening in the cube and the remaining seven figures filing out of it. The image faded away.

"Your challenge, for this test, is to simulate this decision-making process amongst yourselves. Remember that the resolution relies on the death of a single individual; more than one and it won't count." The image came up illustrating the locked cube again, and this time one stick figure pointed to another, causing it to fall over with an 'x', then another figure pointed to the first, knocking it over as well. the door remained shut, and a caricature of small lightning bolts filled the space until all eight stick figures were 'dead'. "Take too long..." The image refreshed showing all eight stick figures sitting down in a circle now, before the simplistic lightning diagrams returned and knocked them all down once more. "So, the question then is, what do you do, and how do you decide. You may begin." The screen went black, and an old fashioned digital clock display with red numbers came up in its place, beginning to count down from ten minutes.

Cry and Take both looked at each other, clearly uneasy at the test already, but from where she was leaning on the wall, the secretary snorted derisively.

"Hah, nice try for theatrics, I'll give him that much." She shook her head, stretching ina way that emphasised her bust again. "Hey, BoltMan, was it? Looks like you don't need to worry about spooking the testers after all. Seems our mystery voice wants to do that himself. Hah! Well, I'd vote we kill spacey over there. He's off in his own little world enough already, don't you think?" she nodded her head toward the navi with the leaf emblem, who turned to look up at her as though only now just realising he was being referred to. Cocoa sat up, crossing her legs and scowling at the over-sexed woman.

"Hey, don't say that. He just said we have to talk about how we'd make handle the situation, not that we had to actually pick someone! If it were real, we could just jack out."
"Jack out of you want little girl. You scared? I'll take your cut of the pay then..."
"That's not fair, I'm just saying, I mean, the whole point is how we decide, not what we decide, right?"

"I... do not like this." Cry was holding Take's hand where they were sitting on the cushions, and both seemed more than a little unnerved by the situation. "I think, if it's about how we'd make the decision, I would probably not be able to do it." Beside him, Take was stoic in her expression, and didn't seem willing to speak up directly right away.

VerteFée lifted his head again, looking towards Slay as though for guidance. His head whipped down to the side again a moment later as he hissed something sharply at the air; it sounded like he was telling someone 'No', but he didn't say anything more before looking to her again.

"Slay, what is it that you are thinking on this? I do not know what to make of it. He said we are all safe, of course, and it is just a test, but, should we not also be treating it like it were real, for the, the... for the authenticity of it?" He looked at her, hoping for something to guide his own thoughts on the matter. The clock was ticking, though; about thirty seconds had passed by the time these various exchanges had gone back and forth.

It seemed everyone in the room had more important things to do than set LightningMan straight about laughing at those with unfortunate names, so Slay dropped the subject and paid attention to the atmosphere of the room. It seemed as though all of the participants had gone a bit quiet... that seemed to indicate that they'd all probably gotten instructions of some kind. Whether they were the same instructions she couldn't tell... but if they were, things were about to get pretty strange, with each participant trying to probe each other on their respective sexuality.

In a double twist, it turned out that, while the secret instructions were fairly interesting themselves, the major test was taking the forefront again as the most pressing issue, given that it was ostensibly asking them to pick someone they wouldn't mind being murdered. "You were right, BoltMan... this is just exactly like something out of a horror movie," she murmured, not saying what she was really thinking, since it would likely upset the others: that it would be quite feasible for someone on the net to imitate the kinds of dastardly evil perpetrated by killers in those movies. Most of those things were too ridiculous to imagine happening in real life, but on the net, the sky was the limit, thanks to endless space to work and near endless resources. For all she knew, they may have been lured into a real life murder game... "Wait, slow down... I'm being way paranoid," she thought to herself, glancing around the room once again.

It seemed Slay's wealth of horror-genre knowledge might come in handy here; as a matter of fact, it seemed like VerteFee had picked up on that coincidence and was seeking her expertise on the situation right away. Slay's black eyes scanned the audience again; she'd allow the secretary and Cocoa to exchange barbs for a bit. "Well, you know... I'm sure the one who designed this experiment, whether it's really a psychological test or... some kind of game... accounted for the different ways we would react. Therefore, there's no point in acting. We may as well all behave the way we normally would. If he was worried about us jacking out right now, he would have told us all we shouldn't or couldn't. So, if your instinct is telling you to jack out, I say go for it. Cause he had to account for that," she reiterated, flipping her knife around easily around one hand in a simple trick as she spoke. "In fact, it's pretty shady that he hasn't said anything yet. So either this is not legit and you should get out while you can, or it is legit, and he's going to apologize for not warning you and pay you once you jack out. Nothing to lose, the way I see it. I'm a sucker for this sort of thing... curiosity, you get it... So I'm going to have to stick it out and see what happens," she finished, turning her frown back towards VerteFee. "So yeah, just act like you normally do. If that means jacking out, just do it. It won't mean you're a scaredy-cat... It'll mean you're defying horror genre stereotypes, which, like... as an expert of horror genre, I gotta say, that's an entirely logical thing to do."

Her eyes moved to the secretary again, fixing her blank stare onto the antagonistic character. Slay had a thought of who would most likely be voted dead, if it had to be put to a vote, but she didn't hate the secretary quite enough to want her dead. "So basically, just follow your gut. I'm not saying I want this murder thing to be real, but I am saying it's hard to value it how we really should, given that we're all currently thinking it's not real," she offered. "Me personally, I'd vote for myself. Cause there's two possibilities: one, we're already caught, and someone does have to die for us to move forward, in which case, I've got no family, I've lived a full life, and all that nonsense. The other possibility: that it's just a game. And if it is... like... nobody should say they really want to kill somebody just for a game or a test, right? Even if you really would. So sheesh," she finished, turning her eyes to a blank wall and slumping her shoulders. "Let's just try not to take this too seriously right now... The genre would say the decision has to be made either by a vote or somebody jumping the gun and killing somebody themselves, so with those two options, I'd say logically a vote. But just don't get worked up about it," she reiterated.

Whether her speech had resonated or not, she'd gotten it all out, and was aware that a lot of eyes would be on her. She continued to stare at the wall and knit her brow in a moody expression. "So... um..." she continued, feeling awkward. "When I was talking about family earlier... How many of you are in relationships? Cause, you know, it'd suck to vote for somebody who's got somebody waiting on them outside, so... we ought to know up front," she explained. Talking about relationships openly was not her strong suit.
The voice from nowhere arose, this time with their first test. LightningMan noticed that he specifically said 'main test'...that pretty much confirmed in his mind that others had also gotten instruction, and that they were probably more 'side tests'. The resulting scenario made him roll his sounded exactly like something out of a horror movie, after what he'd already said. It came across as more a really bad joke than anything to him. Anyway, he should chime in. "He said it was a situation where we couldn't get out. If that's true, that would mean jacking out's not an option. ...Because that's a way out." It was a bit of a 'duh' to him, but then again, the others weren't gifted with the thought processes of a leader. He'd have to spell things out, probably.

He let the others have their say before continuing. "The way I see it, there are three reasonable ways to handle it. First, see if there's any volunteers. Provided the answer's 'no', or if a bunch of people are secretly suicidal and there's more than one, we can vote. Or, we can just pick a name out of a hat or something. Hard to be fairer than giving everyone a 1 in 8 shot." If only because he felt his odds were worse if it WAS put up to a vote. "So, anyone willing to kill themselves with a red X? Because I'm not." If anyone honestly said 'yes', he'd honestly be surprised. Really, Slay voting for herself was in itself a surprise...if they did a vote, he'd probably give the display of guts some respect and specifically not pick her.

"Oh, and if you don't have the guts to make a vote, do everyone a favor, shut up, go to the corner, and let the grownups talk. Because if it doesn't get resolved before that clock hits 0, you basically just killed 7 Navis with your indecision. Way to go." Even though he didn't care if someone had killed 7 Navis, he DID care when one of them was him, and he DID care that they did it by being an idiot, so he let it drip with sarcasm for a moment. "...That's how I'd handle it."
As might be understandable, the questionable circumstances of their situation were leading several individuals to question how serious or genuine the 'test' was, while others were increasingly derisive of the scenario. Most held their peace quietly while Slay gave her own answer to Verte; she spoke well enough to be addressing the group, and since most of their minds seemed to be firmly mired in the idea of a horror film set-up, each seemed inclined to at least listen to her.

BoltMan was having none of the chickening out aspect, of course; Cocoa frowned at him softly, opening her mouth for a moment to defend what she was saying, before he continued on anyway. when he finished she folded her arms.

"I was just saying... If we were actually in some horror movie thing, and this was all a set up, well, we can still jack out. I know I can, I'm sure all of you can too. If it was really some secret horror test, he'd stop that, and he hasn't." Once again, though, the secretary quipped right back at her with one eyebrow raised.
"Exactly, little girl. So no point getting scared, because if you leave now I bet he won't be interested in paying you."

True to word, Slay and LightningMan still had all their normal PET functions, and nothing about the space they were in had tampered with anything. Technically, they could still even talk to their operators, even though they'd been specifically told not to, or receive battle chips, which they hadn't been told not to.

At 'BoltMan's only thinly veiled insult, Cry flinched softly, frowning, but beside him Take took, looking angry.

"No, you insufferable man. Abstaining like that does not mean that he is responsible for killing anyone. The only person responsible for killing anyone in that situation is the man killing his test subjects, or do you think that actions taken under coercion and life-threatening force are still responsible actions? Do you also call rape 'just rough sex'? We will not kill anyone. We will not agree to kill anyone. We will not be any part of anyone agreeing to killing anyone! We will not—!" Cry squeezed her hand a little tighter, still holding onto it while she stood and he sat, but she cut herself off and looked down at him.
"Calm, my love. It's just a game."
"It's a cruel one!" To that he only nodded, but she let her rant subside and resumed her seat beside him anyway. Cry looked about the others with a small shake of his head.

"Even when they tell us it's all a test, it feels hard to treat it as anything but a serious question. I would not be able to participate in a serious discussion that entertained doing something like this, even if it cost all our lives. Since that is what the test is asking us, that is what I must say." Take nodded as well, though she was still fuming.

"Not that it matters, eh? Creepy volunteered already, so that pretty much solves the matter doesn't it?" the haughty woman was at it again, belittling and demeaning everyone around her. Apparently, this was something of an irritation point for cocoa. In a trice, the girl had flicked herself to her feet again and crossed two steps to be standing near the other woman. this close, it became clear that the secretary was much taller than the smaller girl, but the other thing that was hopefully clear to everyone was that Cocoa had adopted a fighting stance, even on her mired roller skates, and her right first had gone a rather worrying shiny silver as she clenched it.

"No! I think some of us might rather the test went on without you instead, miss Tramp, or whatever your name is. You never bothered to introduce yourself to us lesser peons, did you, huh?" He teeth were barred and her tree fingers twitched as though she wanted to grab hold of the secretary with it... presumably while pummelling her with her other fist. The navi with the leaf emblem looked at the disagreeing pair, still seeming somewhat detached from everything, and tilted his head.

"Will things break now?" His voice, as before, was soft and unobtrusive, and about as detached-sounded as his gaze looked.

"No-one is going to break anything... Just cool it, everyone, please." Cry was talking again, and he'd freed his hand from Take so that he could raise them both in a calming gesture. "It's like miss Slay said; it's just an experiment, and they said no-one is in any danger, so, no-one should be thinking about actually hurting anyone at all here. Calm down." He looked about, then tried to deflect the conversation by jumping back to some of the other things Slay had said, glancing to her as he did. It was perhaps ironic that Slay had fielded the idea that someone might jump the gun and get violent; one might wonder whether her words had planted the idea, or whether Cocoa had just not taken her caution to heart and let her irritation get the better of her. Either way, the girl was still tense. The secretary was sneering down at her, with a look that dared her to actually lash out; it seemed clear that she didn't believe that the smaller girl would actually do so, and was attempting to call her bluff.

"Miss Slay? If the rest of you are determined to go through with making a decision, rather than just agreeing on how you would do it, then I'd be happy to answer your other question... Take and I have been together happily for many years. You might have guessed that we were created at the same time." No surprises there really. Rolling her eyes, the secretary looked towards Slay over the top of Cocoa's head, going so far as to disregard the violent girl for a moment.

"Sweetie, do I look like the kind of navi that's in any kind of long term or committed relationship? I've had a lot of boyfriend... girlfriends... other... but it comes with the career territory." Not really many surprises there either. Cocoa, as one might guess, wasn't of a mind to answer Slay's question currently, and the leaf navi didn't seem to be paying attention, but Verte tore his eyes away from the conflicted scene enough to look back to her.

"You are right, we must not panic, or do anything that is rash. It is just a test, no? He means to unsettle us, and see how we react? I do not have any significant, ah, romance in my life, at the moment, Slay, but I have my operator, and, ah, there is always Fée, of course, too." Unfortunately he didn't exactly explain who 'Fée' was, before his unusual tic made the drink-mixer snap his gaze down and to the side briefly with a hissed "I will not!" that didn't appear to be directed at anyone at all. He looked up and tried to laugh, nervously.

"Ah, what of yourself, Slay?" Unsurprisingly, no-one was taking an interest in asking 'BoltMan' if he had a devoted lover waiting for him at home.

"Well... huh. That's not a bad point, BoltMan," Slay murmured, when her companion for the mission added that the instructor had basically covered his bases by saying escape was impossible in the example situation. His suggestion for random picking actually wasn't an awful idea either, from a coldly logical standpoint, although she'd rather he try to calm them down after she'd managed to put the idea of preemptive strike murder into the heads of those who weren't already considering it. "Like I told you, we shouldn't be asking who wants to kill who, even who wants to offer to be killed. Like, in a real case, I'm not sure if I could just say 'sure, I'd like to die.' Some of that was just because I don't think the situation is real and don't want anyone actually saying who they want to kill, like I explained. But here, it's the only reasonable thing to say, without being a jackass," she offered. "Though, I hope I could do it in a real situation... More than that, I hope nobody would have to do it."

Cocoa turned out to more or less agree with the Slay's earlier advice. LightningMan's words, however, contradicted her message, and again encouraged everyone who didn't think they had the ability to make a specific vote to cower aside and await their fate. "Don't you get it? It's barely worth winning all of the lives if everyone there has to vote to kill somebody to do it. And even then... what if everyone becomes further enraged by hearing the votes of the others? We're not objective voters; we'll be influenced by we just heard. That'll just lead to more and more killing," she murmured. "Or at least... That's how the trope always works."

Take had become more offended than she had at the suggestion that everyone kill one lest they kill all, and voiced her complaints. "It is a game in bad taste, you're right. Now, I don't agree with BoltMan, but you can't really fault him all the way for that viewpoint, can you? I think it's kinda natural... he's just trying to be practical, even if he is kinda a jackass... Nobody wants to think about killing and death, but we all are now. But if we considered this a 'real' situation, then it doesn't matter who's responsible for the killing, at least not nearly as much as it matters that as few people be killed as possible. From that perspective, he's offered a fairly rational proposition: that, y'know, it's good for as few people to die as possible. So he's saying that if we absolutely had to take the experimenter at his word and that he was going to kill everyone if nobody died, then somebody would indeed have to take action. Or we'd all die. I mean, it sucks hard, but... y'know? I can't fault him for thinking that, beyond what I just said about how we'd all end up killing each other if we play into the experiment's hands like that. I do think you have to consider that possibility, BoltMan."

"You're right though, Cry... It means placing yourself, mentally, in a situation of real peril. I think it's actually a little hard for any of us to say what we'd do in that situation," she murmured. Hopefully the floor had been open to her long enough to get through all of that without rushing, because tensions were boiling over elsewhere. When Cocoa began to challenge the secretary (something Slay could hardly blame her for), the actress tapped her knife on the side of her stool to get their attention. "Hey! What'd I say about fighting, huh? I mean, if we're still valuing my expert opinion here, as long as I'm not dead or whatever, then listen: infighting is the number one thing that's dangerous in this kind of situation," she warned the two of them. Presumably, trope savvy wouldn't be enough to break that up, so she'd offer more wisdom. "A lot of us would prefer the experiment didn't go on at all, honestly, and some would prefer it without others around. But the truth is, horror memes aside, if we start fighting, it'll keep spiraling, and we'll all be dividing up into cliques and whatever before you know it. So, if you feel like you've gotta yell anything, or agitate anybody, or especially threaten anybody, just talk it out peacefully... or, y'know, just keep it to yourself, if you have to."

It was probably odd to hear a woman in a bloody apron, carrying a gnarled carving knife and specializing in murder films, talking like a pacifist, but so she was. Although she had a certain enthusiasm of the genre, she also had a certain ennui for it, finding it both tiresome and repulsive in some aspects. As such, she was more than qualified to denounce its trappings and try to keep them from popping up around her in real life, as well as she could. Slay was beginning to doubt her ability to do so. "... It'd probably help if I had worn something different," she mused, looking down at her clothes again.

She nodded along with Cry's call for order, then allowed herself a small smile while resting her cheek on her fist, which looked either contented or possibly bored, depending on what one assumed to know of her personality. "Yeah, I think I got that, from you two..." she muttered, her eyes lazily drifting between the two of them. The secretary, perhaps just to belittle Cocoa, diverted her attention and answered as well. "Figures," she thought to herself bitterly, annoyed that it always seemed like funbags (and ability to not look or talk like a zombie) won out when it came to forging relationships with people, no matter how annoying one's personality. Still, it was good that she'd collected another answer, although she could hardly be concerned with that secret objective right now. "Well, sure... I don't judge people on appearances," she responded to the suggestively dressed lady, while smirking, because unfortunately, that was at least a bit of a lie. She'd had a pretty good idea she didn't like the secretary the moment she'd seen her.

VerteFee answered as well, causing her to turn in her seat and face him. "Oh... Huh," Slay remarked off-handedly, just a bit awkwardly. "I'm puzzled. Are you two navis? Or a navi and an SP, maybe? Sorry, not trying to pry. You just mentioned another person, I thought," she continued, but he had another question of his own. The question made her raise her eyebrows in a look of surprise, as though the thought she might have to answer hadn't occurred to her. "Uh... Nobody," she answered, resting her head on her fist again and this time looking decidedly dejected. Her other hand raised her knife to her face as she idly began to inspect its blade. Seeing her look over that rusty knife, it was hard to imagine that she'd had a lot of luck in her love life up to this point, although it was equally hard to suspect that she cared, unless one was able to read her face better than the average observer. Slay offered no further explanation.
As soon as Cocoa defended herself, LightningMan brought up a screen in front of him, checking something. "...Well, my connection with my PET's optimal. So either this is actually just a test, or some crazed loon is really bad at this sort of thing. Or they're just trying to get footage for some reality show. None of those would surprise me." He closed the screen, to re-focus on the matter. "But the scenario said escape is impossible, so for these purposes, we should act like we can't."

Take proceeded to have a word with him, but he was less than impressed. He was ALMOST amused...but not quite. "Disregarding the fact that comparing murder to rape is quite possibly the stupidest thing I've heard in a long time-" But before he could continue, Slay spoke his defense? Well, defense-ish. At least someone got his logic. "Exactly. Ideally, no one dies. But if that's impossible, you try to minimize casualties. That's Survival 101." As someone that engaged in activities that potentially resulted in the death of his allies, that was something he knew quite well.

Meanwhile, the secretary managed to come off as caring even less about the group than him, though he gritted his teeth at just how lightly she was taking Slay's sacrifice. Yes, he was a cyberterrorist responsible for the deletion of dozens of Navis. But he wasn't completely heartless. Even entertaining the notion of taking a bullet for the team...he actually thought that was quite noble of her. If put to a vote, he'd probably have her killed. At least the others brought something to the table that wasn't a complete waste of time, even if he didn't care for the something. Still, he wasn't going to let a fight break out. He raised his hand, and an electrical current came out it and between the two girls. It wouldn't harm either if they tried to go through it...but it would prevent them from moving for a bit. "Cool it. Slay's just brings about demise. Maybe even your own."

Things seemed to settle down a bit, so 'BoltMan' dissipated the current, though he kept an eye on things to make sure it stayed that way. That said, he was amused that people were more interested in Slay's love life than his own. It didn't bother him, AND that she was asking it at all actually happened to fulfill his secret objective without him saying a word. "Yeah, I've got no one, thanks for asking. I dunno why, with my bright, cheery personality." Oh yes. He made a joke to the peons. If nothing else, he could find solace that he probably wouldn't be voted to die ahead of the...'secretary'. Any profession other than porn actress would legitimately surprise him at this point. And speaking of the vote..."Oh, to make it all official, I'd suggest we draw names from a hat, and whoever gets picked from that loses. Is it a happy touchy-feely ending? No. But it's unbiased, and it keeps deaths to a minimum for the time being, and that's enough for me."
As tensions rose, others did their parts to step in and try to calm them down again. Between LightingMan's more direct intercession and Slay's call for attention, Cocoa relented and slumped back, taking a grudging step away from the secretary and letting her silver fist revert to its normal dark-skinned tone. She glanced at the clock; it still showed about six minutes on it.

"Hmph. We can draw names then, fine. Whatever gets this test with and lets us get onto something different." She sounded very put out still, and it seemed likely she still wanted to sock the overly sexualised secretary a decent one, but instead she sighed and sat down on one of the cushioned cubes, unconsciously brushing one hand beneath her to keep her skirt decent before folding her arms and glaring at the carpet.

While she sulked, the mostly silent navi with the bitten leaf emblem drifted over to sit beside her. He tilted his head, curious.

"Things are not breaking now. Do dreams float in the mind of the cocoa-skinned girl as she sleeps? What pictures do they show?" It was a change that made, in all reasonable understandings, very little sense, and more than anything cocoa looked up at him with a furious glare; any comment that linked between her name and her skin tone seemed a prickly thing to mention around the girl. On the other hand, the question was so out of the situation that one could easily guess it was his 'secret' goal to find out. After another few moments of glaring, she seemed to realise this as well and sighed.

"I don't need to sleep. So I don't." This was said more quietly and though she still sounded peeved, it was a calmer tone of discontent. Elsewhere Cry and take had shared quiet words with one another, then looked out to the others.

"If drawing names will let us move past this horrible question, then we agree." Cry spoke for them both, it seemed, since Take only nodded along. 'BoltMan' had already spoken in favour of a random name draw, and Slay seemed to be ok with the idea too, as opposed to voting, and it looked like they were getting close to reaching agreement in general. VerteFée was still standing alongside Slay, and blushed softly at her question.

"Ah well, I am sure if you wish to find someone, miss Slay, that you will, no? You are famous, after all. For myself, aie... No. no, it is just me, but I have a nervous problem. I think it must be a base code error, but, I say things, when I am nervous, you understand? Fée, she is... I should not say. She is not here, though." It still wasn't an answer, but if it was an answer that he probably wasn't supposed to give aloud in this situation, then it might be fair to guess that she was the drink-navi's support program. Since the other conversation seemed to be arriving at an agreement though, Verte looked over the others, then pulled out what looked like a drinks tab and a stylus from somewhere on his person; the type a wait staff might use to record orders.

"If we are agreed, I will write names?" He looked to the others, waiting to see if there was an objection, then began to scribble in the pad, provided there were none. If she was looking over his shoulder as he wrote, Slay would see him record both the names she knew already, and one that she hadn't heard yet, each name going on a new line: 'VerteFée; Slay; BoltMan; CrysLikeAGirl; TakesItLikeAMan; WoodBug; Cocoa' After the seventh name, he stopped writing, then looked up towards the secretary. "Ah... What name should I write for you, miss?" The secretary looked at him, then at the notepad, then finally away off to the side of the room. She seemed uncomfortable for a moment, then sighed.

"DollyHeart." It was hard to catch, muttered side on as it was, but the drink-mixer heard it well enough to jot down. With the names written, he tore them off them pad and divided them up, then produced another of his shot glasses, empty this time, and tipped the small scraps inside, shaking them. He held the glass out in one hand.

"Who will draw?" A couple of the other testers began to move as though to do so, but at that moment the clock clicked to a stop. The over-voice returned a moment later.

"There you go, that wasn't so hard now, was it? Now mare sure you mind the rules, everyone, and make your way to the next test." A previously seamless door opened in the wall just beside the stopped clock, leading to a set of stairs that spiralled downwards. Apparently simply agreeing on how they would pick someone, as the test had said, was enough, and he wasn't actually asking them to make a choice... but it was hard to forget that, despite that, it had still nearly come to violence between the testers. Cry and Take shook their heads, both quite eager to be done with the room, and made for the door, with the others following behind.

Provided Slay and LightningMan did indeed choose to follow, they'd find the stairs winding down remained wide enough for them to move in a small cluster with the other testers, if they felt like it. the spiral went on for quite a way, and the light dimmed to only barely clear enough to see. Underfoot, for those deigning to actually walk along the ground, the stairs were metallic, and the air felt cool. Cocoa was moving more slowly than the others, stepping carefully on the front bakes of her skates and taking the stairs one at a time. If 'BoltMan' was indeed eschewing contact with the ground, as was often his wont, the girl would cast him a withering look before dropping back to chat with Slay. Verte was still following with her, but he didn't appear to mind the irate girl's company. She actually seemed more embarrassed than anything else, though as she approached them.

"Hey... It was a bit silly of me to get mad like that. I got a bit carried away. Um, you were asking questions. For, um, 'no reason', right?" She peeked at Slay questioningly. "I don't date boys. I'm not supposed to really think about stuff like that. I'm not made for that kind of thing." Which, in a way, made sense if one accounted for her childish clothes and her skates. She looked across to Verte. "Is there something I should tell you, too? I already know what I need to for both of you." If anything, her question seemed to make VerteFée momentarily uncomfortable, and he raised a hand to wave it away.

"No, no! I do not need to ask you to know, miss Cocoa." He still seemed eager to move away from the question, and was blushing slightly as Cocoa let paused long enough to let them pass.

Nearby on the stairs, Cry and Take were matching their descent to bring them into line with 'BoltMan'. Take looked more displeased by the prospect of speaking to him than Cry did, but overall there was a certain amount of tension relief going through most of the testers it seemed. The stairs were going down quite a long way.

"Take, dear... I find myself with a baseless want to know... have you ever used a .GMO to change your sex?" He asked it softly, but audible, still looking mostly ahead as he descended. His partner responded in similar fashion.
"No, never. Incidentally, Cry, I must ask, because I suddenly find it interesting; do you think you'd ever be intimate with someone that was to your tastes, if you knew that it was a .GMO, and underneath they were someone very much opposed to your likes?"
"I would not, but only because you are all I want." He paused and they both cast a quick glance towards LightningMan. "I wonder how some of our other testers feel about matters like those?" Plainly they were asking LightningMan their questions, in as textbook a 'not saying what they weren't meant to' way that they could. Take nodded.
"Me too. I think I'd be happy to answer any random question in turn, if they wanted to share." they looked towards 'BoltMan' again, to see if he'd bite.

Subtle side conversations aside, the group would eventually reach the bottom of the stairs, and come out into a room that seemed overly bright, compared to the dim staircase they had just been in. It was coloured a soft blue, shot through with bands of bright red, a few inches thick and all leading in towards the centre of the floor. There was no furniture in the room, and the floor was hard and wooden-feeling, though it displayed no visible texture. The main features in this room were a large, circular screen set into the centre of the floor, with a low guard rail to stop people walking on it; it took up about half the floor space in total. Set at even intervals around the screen were ten small podiums, which rose to comfortable standing height, and contained a single panel with a series of ten identical buttons.

There were raised guards on the podiums, such that no-one standing at one would be able to see any button pressed by anyone else. The fronts of each stand had a badge, as through for a name plate, however each of them simply read a very anonymous 'Tester # 1', 'Tester #2', etc. As fitting for there only being eight of them, the podiums labelled for testers number nine and ten didn't appear to have power to them at the moment. For the time being, also, the central floor screen was dark. Dolly, the secretary, made her way over to stand behind the first numbered podium, looking as bored as she ever did, and slowly the others began to do the same.

"That's a fair point... Just getting through this grim part makes something quick like drawing names pretty attractive," Slay admitted, acknowledging the wisdom of BoltMan's presented option. As others agreed, things took a turn from gruesome back to socially awkward. "Famous is a pretty strong word for it," the actress murmured modestly, staring at the floor again. She could only really be considered 'famous' among the company of movie-geeks, she figured. Whatever the case, it hadn't ever really been a boon to her search for companionship. "Or maybe I'm just too focused on work... and with taking care of Gordon and all now... and maybe I'm just not the most approachable person," she rapidly internalized excuses, looking more and more gloomy as she absent-mindedly rubbed her rusty knife with her apron, as though cleaning it. Whatever the case, she was determined to dodge the question of whether she was looking or not, which would be personally embarrassing for her. "Oh, okay... so the one you're talking to is not Fee," Slay understood, tilting her head thoughtfully. "Well, I can sympathize with you. When it comes to a verbal tic, I mean. People tell me that I'm too... what's the word... apathetic a talker. Which is fine, I guess... I'm one of the few types of performers who never needs to say much when she goes on stage."

VerteFee occupied himself with the task of writing down names, gathering the last few she hadn't know... She wasn't sure if it was stranger that the secretary had such a cute name or that the wood bug's name was such an exact approximation of his visual appearance. It felt like both DollyHeart and WoodBug must hold a personal secret or two. People were rarely as they seemed, in Slay's experience...

Everyone would undoubtedly be relieved when the experiment ended so they could move on, but Slay couldn't help but think the new relationship discussion was so awkward that she almost missed the murder discussion. Still, Cocoa was confiding in her, so she did her best to be attentive. "Right... Small talk," Slay murmured, knowing that no answer to the question would really be discrete, given that Cocoa already seemed 100% aware of why she'd asked the question. Cocoa had said she didn't date boys, but Slay figured that must also extend to girls, based on the rest of her answer. Really, though, the answer was as complete a response to her question as she could have hoped. "The net's an interesting place because nobody can really account for everything their navi will do. So, even if you're designed not to want to date, wanting to is cool... it just shows you're above and beyond your programming, you know? A sum greater than its parts," she shrugged, smiling supportively. "After all... if we were all made only for our mechanical function, I'd probably have decided to change myself into a 7'0" tall guy instead of a... short lady," she coughed, not quite able to make herself divulge her real height.

VerteFee's small reaction to Cocoa's question made Slay curious as to what his given inquiry topic was, but she couldn't just ask him. She frowned vacantly, as she often did, and continued walking down the stairs slowly to keep pace with Cocoa. She couldn't hear Take and Cry's discussion from where she was, but she was becoming keenly aware that none of them were doing a terribly good job of hiding their questions, herself included... she wondered if they were starting to get on the test-giver's nerves, acting like they were. Then again, he may have accounted for this socially awkward information exchange being transparent as well. The endgame was still impossible to discern.

The actress sighed as they reached the bottom of the stairs, looking at the room they'd ended up in. "You know what this reminds me of?" she asked no one in particular, looking especially glum. "A game show set... Game shows are where actresses go to die. If I appear on one, I feel like it's proof that I've given up," she spoke quietly, looking serious, although her words sounded like a joke. There wasn't much else to say at the moment, so she set up at podium six and leaned against the podium... this was necessary, because to stand at the podium and try to rest her arms atop it would only draw more attention to her shortness.