Chapter 20:

Reminiscing and Takedown


“This is very weird…” Groaned the confused idol as she kept on tapping the computer that was once used by NorCo’s president.

“I don’t think anything you found there would be enough to surprise me by now, Amy.”

Pointed out Lily as she covered the bodies with some blankets from the medical cabinets.

She had, of course, saved a simulation of the whole room before moving anything, or forced Amy to do so at least.

“I shall try either way!” Amy declared with her usual energy for some reason. “This computer should have a lot of blocked data that would take me a good while to crack, you see? That was the situation earlier, but most of it was unlocked while we were outside. There is also a good deal of erased data that I cannot even try to recover...”

“Only this? This is no mystery at all. It should’ve been some of gramps’ failsafe for if he died or something of the kind.”

“No, no, I know this much, you see? The problem is that cleaning data this thoroughly would take longer than just an hour or so. Even more, considering that I have control over... Wait, I have control over the mainframe, so why there was still locked data? This is weird too now that I think about it…”

As she said, Amy started to double and triple-check her connection with the tower’s computer, but she couldn't find any reason for it to be failing.

“Isn’t this one just outside of the network? Saving sensitive data on something that only he could access would make sense.”

“Impossible! I could connect during the party, you see? My job would be impossible if I could not.”

“You were really stealing something then…”

“Not stealing, replacing for a fairer one.”

The pink girl was very proud of her “good” deeds for reasons that went beyond Lily’s comprehension, but the detective expected this much.

The sudden request to visit the closed party her grandfather was holding and her mysterious side job gave enough to go with.

For now, there were more important matters and she had a good idea of what was done either way, so it didn’t matter though.

“Can’t say I didn’t expect this much, so whatever. Having another mainframe would work with my current theory, so can’t we say it is the reason? A backup computer wouldn’t be that far-fetched.”

“Still no. I am sure the will was in the mainframe I can access too. They have to be connected somehow, but I would be able to notice it.”

“Are you sure you would? Changing data and pretending things don't exist is NorCo's number one policy.”

“Well… Yes? The machine needed would take a lot of space and draw a lot of energy. It would work if this tower had a different building to house some massive reactor and a computer, but the blueprints... Oh... I get it.”

“If there's only one explanation, then it's most likely the truth already."

"Fair enough."

They would need massive amounts of money and some technology that didn't exist a good while ago, but this one place had easy access to both.

NorCo was the origin of said technology even.

“In the end, our mastermind is a hidden genius with a massive clearance level. Few people fit with the first, but pretending to not be a genius isn't that hard...”

“Do you actually have a suspect, Lily?”

The detective was sounding as if she had cracked the case already instead of her claims of needing a last piece for a while now.

She wasn’t ready to show her theory yet though.

“I just need a little bit more and then I can say for sure.”

“Is that so? I do have access to this computer, so if you would tell me what you need…”

Lily finished her work and took a look at the corridor just in case.

She then nodded to herself and closed the broken-down door as she approached Amy on the damaged desk.

“First, look at the will, please. Find when those documents were unlocked to be sure if they match with the time Herman and Dr. Shia were outside of the cameras.”

“Why would… Oh! I understand what you are wanting. The time does match indeed. Are you telling me they simply unlocked it before the attack? Was it not needed for your old man to be dead for such a thing?”

“You’re bright when you want to, aren’t you? I needed to confirm this much to be sure of his cause of death…”

"Are you saying...?”

“Pretty much so, but that's for later.” Lilianna cut the question briskly. ”Next, get me gramps data from his connection before and during the time we were at the party.”

“Okay… This is… Hmmm… He joined the moment the server was opened and stood online until the room was closed. I can track his accesses before this much, but it would take some time…”

The medical chamber in which Otto resided had a lot of network movement as its occupant was unable to move since his body started to deteriorate.

Even so, it was hard to track every single piece of information when Amy had such a limited capacity at the moment.

This much was enough information to the detective though, so it was fine.

“No need to go this deep. What I need now is the data of when my brother joined the server and, more than that, how many times he entered that server lately…”

“I do not follow, but... His can logged into the party half an hour before us and he only left when the server was shut. It is expected since he fainted after drinking too much though.”

“Of course he was… Zhelya was at the party?”

“The cat lady?”


“Ok… She only joined after the battle at the party, but she only left when the server went down too.”

“Good, good…”

None of these pieces of information were hard to collect or answered anything in the idol's mind.

All Amy was getting was more confusion at each request, but her friend seemed to be on a roll for some reason.

“Next! Verify the Herman and Shia.”

“Herman came halfway through my show and fled the moment the logout was unlocked…

“When you broke the limitations on logout, right?”

“When it became a possibility.”

Lily was getting her face uncomfortably close to the idol as she tried to catch any signs that could break Amy’s lie.

As usual, she failed though and left the side of the now completely pink girl before continuing.

“Either way, the deceased doctor was inside the ballroom from the moment the invites were received, but I believe she was killed by the attackers. She took a while to disconnect for some reason even after that and I see no signs of respawn...”

“I think that’s all I need about the ballroom, so answer me this..." Lily concluded with a darkening expression before going for her next question. "You record everything you hear, right?”

“I do, indeed, but why you ask?

“Just to be sure…" Lily said as she scanned the room in search of something. "Now, let me give you the first part of my theory.” As she said so, the black-haired girl started to tap around one of the walls while still talking, leaving Amy to watch the scene in clear confusion.

“First, we were wrong about that attack being an entrance ceremony. It was probably a way to buy time while the real plan was happening. Gramps should’ve been dead by that point even...”

“Buy time for what?”

“At first, I thought it was about taking over the tower, but that was wrong... The answer was actually something you had to tell me later on.”

“Something I told you? What do… Oh! The VR machines?!”

“Exactly! It was all to buy enough time for 'idea implantation', as I’ll call it from now on. Not sure if everyone was a target of if some a few ones though…”

“Something about the will beneficiary, I guess.”

“You guessed right. That whole party had to do with the dammed will, so everyone there should have some kind of claim or reason to be relevant. I’m not sure of how each one of them had anything to do with my grandfather because I was pretty much banished until a while ago, but that's minor…”

It wouldn’t take too much effort to link the lines, but it would take much more time than they had at the moment.

Assumptions were good enough for now, so there was no reason for it too.

“So, the point was changing the will result without changing the actual will? I am unsure if it would work, you see? It would take a lot of time, more than a party could last.”

“My two suspects have the time, so that's that." Lily explained while gluing her head on the wall and nodding at something. "These machines are running for a while now and these parties aren’t something new too. I’m probably the only one who would need some extra work, but it wouldn’t matter too much since I’m barely a contender, or actually, I wasn’t much of a contender before...”

Lily started to tap the wall while giving a meaningful glance to her helper. “So it was all my…” Amy slowly said while her expression twisted in a barely visible way.

As she noticed that Amy got the idea, the detective broke eye contact right away and pushed open a piece of the wall, showing the hidden vault behind it.

“That’s my current theory, but I’m weirdly sure that I’m wrong on this one point. I don’t have another theory to go with though, and this much fits well enough. Let’s say it was the fault of this mystery person that changed the will for now and forget it.”

"I see... Since they could not change it back, all left was changing the whole plan."

"The other option would be changing it again, but I can't even understand how someone would modify something that secure in the first place..."

To undo Amy's changes, one would need to break through both her main defenses and the ones already in place, which was almost impossible.

Without it going back though, the whole plan became a gamble and had to be changed.

“More than that, the modified testament forced the plan to change and some of the actors had to be brought to the site, even if it was only me in this case. That call, the explosion, and the whole chaos caused by that, all to keep me inside and buy time. It also lowers the number of suspects a lot..."

"But your brother would not...

"I'm guessing that my brother was simply used since he was an easy target inside a VR chamber for this long. Good to draw the heat too later... You can see who fits the bill now, can’t you?”

“I can see…? Hmmm… Ah! Wait… You did say two suspects, did you not? I can only see one person who fits your description for now, and even then, are you sure? He seemed like such a good person.”

“It’s either him or a ghost, so there’s nothing much to say. Anyone who spent too long on the ballroom is out, anyone without access to the mainframe is out and anyone without authority to order guards around is out too, so...”

This one part wasn’t that hard to understand.

The explosion, the cameras, the chaos with the guards, and finally, the convenient moment for Lily’s brother's rescue.

All these couldn’t be done by a person without subordinates and authority.

“That is… That is very troublesome. What will you do, Lily?”

Amy was as troubled with the situation as Lilianna was determined

“Open this vault, show the corpse, knock him down and then, find a way to leave the building.”

“It makes…" Agreed Amy before she realized what she had just heard. "Wait! Corpse?!”

“Aw, right… My brother is inside the safe and I’m pretty sure you can’t breathe inside one of these. It’s the only place where he could hide and we both could easily guess gramps’ code if we were told to...”

“You can?”


It was an analogic safe with an outdated lock, but it didn't take much for the black-haired detective to insert the eight numbers she was sure to open it.

And as expected, the safe clicked as it got unlocked and a small stream of red liquid started to leave the gaps in its opening.

"Lily..." Called the idol as she noticed how displeased her friend was with being right.

She didn't answer though and instead turned around without opening the safe as she wasn't willing to see what was inside.

“Now, we call everyone here, open the safe in front of them and record everything just in case. We can question our friendly security officer later…”

Lily had a neutral expression as she turned her eyes to her pink friend, but her voice was tinted with sadness.

Slightly losing focus due to the situation, Amy started to walk toward the detective while trying to think of something to say.

“Should I leave you alone for a while? I can call Richard and Zhelya while you… Lily!”

Before she could finish her phrase, the idol noticed a movement on the unlocked safe as the wall, rushing to warn the detective of whatever was moving behind her.

“Wha…!” That was all Lily could say before a thin and bloodied hand had stabbed a taser on her turning body.

The person inside the safe continued to open its door in front of the approaching idol and the falling down detective, but focusing on it was a mistake.

Amy's focus on helping Lilianna made her unable to notice the movements in the corridor and when she finally came to be…

There was already a hail of self-propelled bullets butting through her body.

Steward McOy
Dalion Alteri