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Roommates - Ch. 47 (Nightmare Raid)

May 10th, 2017
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  1. Roommates has moved! You can now read it at Archive of Our Own: http://archiveofourown.org/works/11250126/navigate
  2.  
  3. Roommates - Ch. 47 (Nightmare Raid): http://i.imgur.com/QIJa1Su.png
  4. Inspired by Weaver's Five Nights at Freddy's Apartment AU: http://i.imgur.com/LnDJVNL.png
  5. Part of an ongoing series written for the /5N@F/ General Discussion Thread at /vg/.
  6. Sincerest thanks to Weaver (http://tgweaver.tumblr.com/) for all of the invaluable assistance in writing, proofreading, and editing this story as well as for illustrating the chapter title cards.
  7. Questions or comments? Drop me an ask at http://roommatesau.tumblr.com/
  8.  
  9. ---
  10.  
  11. The technical term for what you're doing is "casing the joint". The bus managed to get you downtown a whole twenty minutes early and you plan on making the most of it. Over the course of your talk with him, Peanut let slip all kinds of details about Nisha, including her favorite tea, what her perfume smells like, and how very nice she is. Far more noteworthy to your interest was that Ms. Marigold would be coming here tonight, after usual operating hours, for a special visit. If ever there was a time to confront her, it's here and now.
  12.  
  13. Circling the perimeter of the arcade, you take the time to really drink in your surroundings, studying every square inch of the so-called "family fun" establishment as if you were cramming for a final exam. In a way, you suppose you are; while this is far from the first time you've been to Jeremy Human's, you sure as hell hope it'll be the last. You watch the blinking purple-and-yellow marquee cycle through its limited palette one flash at a time. You peer in through the tinted glass, scrutinizing what little you can make out inside the lobby. You even pause to inspect the grate covering the air vent you used the morning you rescued Beanie. No facet of this hellhole is going to go unchecked. Measure twice, cut once.
  14.  
  15. When it comes to your point of entry, there's only one real option available to you, and that's going in through the front door. Potential for further injury aside, the vent is out because you weren't able to even reach it without a boost last time. You know from experience there are no skylights, which wouldn't matter anyway, since you'd have to figure out a way onto the roof. As for any other doors, a cursory investigation revealed there's only one around back, and it has the exact same electronic lock that the front door does. Since you don't know where that door leads to, you might as well go in the way you know rather than risk accidentally stumbling into Bot Bay (or worse). Better the devil you know.
  16.  
  17. Satisfied you've seen everything there is to see from the outside, you return to the front of the building. This would be your chance, if you had a way inside. Too bad the locks are all high-tech electronic ones. Nisha no doubt had the employee access code changed, so you're not even going to bother trying to use the previous one. With no way inside, your raid ends before it begins. Game over.
  18.  
  19. Fortunately, with all the corners the restaurant cuts, it wasn't that hard finding software online to circumvent their dated locking mechanisms. Walking up to the main door, you unzip the heavy toolkit slung over your shoulder. Hefting your borrowed tablet computer, you carefully wire it to the door's electronic lock and launch the codebreaker protocol.
  20.  
  21. The algorithm finishes cracking the code after just a few minutes, disabling the restaurant's security locks in the process. The front door swings open under your push; so much for keeping "unwanteds" out. This certainly would have been a useful gizmo the first time you had to break into this place. Stashing your tablet with the rest of your toolkit, you throw your bag back over your shoulder and charge inside the lobby, all the while keeping a careful eye out for roving robots. And sure enough, no sooner have you set foot into the dining room than the ringing sound of stamped metal feet reverberates through the empty building.
  22.  
  23. Seems the nightmares are already busy tonight. No big deal -- you came prepared.
  24.  
  25. With stealthy steps you press further into the darkened pizzeria. As big as it is during the day, the dining room beyond looks positively gargantuan at night. Rows and rows of gleaming tables are covered with pristine decorations, no doubt in preparation for a birthday party tomorrow.
  26.  
  27. Too bad they're going to have to cancel.
  28.  
  29. "Dad-blam it, Schmidt," Fritzine frustratedly crackles as she tromps out of the show stage, headed straight for your location. "Where'd that boy get off to THIS time?"
  30.  
  31. You're done for. You couldn't stand up to Fritzine in the best case scenario before. You definitely can't now. So either you run to the door, or Fritzine's going to cash in on that invasive "maintenance" procedure she promised last time. Either way, your valiant attempt ends here. Game over.
  32.  
  33. Or, it would.
  34.  
  35. Instead, you're getting a chance to test your new toy earlier than you'd anticipated. Reaching into your bag of tricks, you pull out your newest defense measure, something far better than a flimsy plastic mask: a "headlamp" flashlight with ultra-bright, power-efficient LED bulbs, just like the kind campers and miners use. From the night you stayed here with Beanie, you recall that the robots malfunction whenever they're flashed in the face with a bright light; you gave this baby a quick test earlier and it felt like looking directly into the sun. To the animatronics here, you might as well be wearing an invisibility cloak.
  36.  
  37. Hiding behind a chair, you reach a hand up to your light, finger hovering over the button as you wait for the heavy-built orange humanoid to make her appearance. The moment the mechanical menace bumbles obliviously around the corner, you step out from cover and click the light on, angling it right into her robotic face.
  38.  
  39. "What in taaaaarrrrrrnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn--"
  40.  
  41. Her system crashes, causing her to lock up on the spot.
  42.  
  43. "Hah!" You stand up, grinning to yourself. "Well, that worked out pretty well."
  44.  
  45. Unfortunately, it worked a little TOO well. Powering down completely, Fritzine loses her grip on the toolbox she was carrying, which ALSO crashes -- directly into the ground, sending metal tools clattering rather loudly across the floor. You hear another pair of footsteps originating from where she came from, indicating that one of the others is probably coming to check on her.
  46.  
  47. "Fritz! You okay?" you hear another digitized voice shout from somewhere deeper in the building. "The heck was that noise?"
  48.  
  49. "Sorry. I'd stay and help you clean up the mess, but three's a crowd," you quip at the lifeless robot as you sprint past her, taking care not to trip on any of the scattered implements.
  50.  
  51. Giving the corridor leading to Bot Bay a wide berth, you make haste down the main hall, headed in the direction of the security room. Going by Bonworth's story of being crushed by an office safe falling down a flight of stairs, it stands to reason that Nisha's office should be "somewhere upstairs". And you know there's no second story in the building, since every room you've been in so far has had remarkably high ceilings. Every room except one, that is. If your hunch is correct, the "upstairs office" has to be right above the security room itself -- but you've been in the security room and there didn't appear to be any stairs.
  52.  
  53. Instead of continuing all the way through the tunnel to Beanie's old guard post, however, you detour at the last minute, ducking off to the side. In a nondescript nook is a pair of saloon-style double doors with a small plaque mounted directly above them. Lightly etched words in a classical cursive script mark the area: "Jeremy's Speakeasy (for kids-at-heart only!)".
  54.  
  55. Here at last is the "auxiliary arcade" that you noticed on previous trips. Now that you think about it, you suppose it is a LITTLE odd that there would be an entirely separate arcade so far off the beaten path -- after all, wouldn't it be better for business to have all the video games at the front of the building where customers could easily get to them?
  56.  
  57. As you start to head inside, however, a sudden thumping noise causes you to flinch. Clicking your light off to avoid drawing attention, you drop to your knees and scurry backwards. You crouch behind a corner just in time as the doors swing open and the hook-wielding bot, Darky, lumbers out of the room, looking around in a panic. Makes sense he'd be here -- you remember seeing him on the security tablet's camera feed.
  58.  
  59. This complicates things. You know from experience the light won't shut him down. Best case scenario, your lamp buys you enough time to escape. Worst case scenario, that hook's going to spill your guts across the floor like pizza sauce. He's drawing closer now, the golden chains around his neck rattling in the stillness of the night. There's no way out of this one. Game over, again.
  60.  
  61. Or at least it would be, if you hadn't come prepared. A quick tap on your trusty tablet and the PA system a few rooms back spits tinny, pre-recorded audio of a child's laughter, causing the wayward robot to lose interest in your hiding spot.
  62.  
  63. "Fritzine!" he calls out again as he slowly wanders down the long tunnel in search of his colleague, just barely missing you on his way past.
  64.  
  65. Not wanting to squander your opportunity, you duck out from your corner as soon as he's comfortably out of earshot. The auxiliary arcade (or "Speakeasy", you suppose) seems starkly out of place compared to the rest of the colorful pizzeria. Inside the room are several considerably more violent-looking games than what would be typical kiddie arcade fare, along with a pool table and a small but well-stocked bar. You're surprised to see a children's restaurant serving alcohol, but you suppose even adults want a place to "celebrate" too.
  66.  
  67. Still -- booze, billiards, and bloody beat-'em-ups aren't what you're here for.
  68.  
  69. Brushing yourself off, you make your way past one of the tables in the center of the room, heading for the cordoned-off staircase tucked away in the far corner. At this point, you almost feel insulted at the mediocre hindrance. Nudging one of the stanchions aside, you cautiously make your way up the rickety staircase. Maybe what happened to Bonworth WAS legitimately an accident -- you can see how a heavy safe could've easily caused these cut-rate boards to collapse.
  70.  
  71. At the top of the stairs is a landing, and at that landing a single door reading "Employees Only". You can see faint light filtering in through the threshold. Seems someone's inside. Unlike most of the doors in this building, this one's got an old-fashioned lock that requires a key. Your tablet won't help you this time, and you sure don't have a key. One last barrier between you and Nisha, and no visible way through. Did you come all this way just for another game over?
  72.  
  73. No. Fortunately, you came pre-equipped with one of the best lockpicking tools available.
  74.  
  75. Gripping the handrails for leverage, you step back, lining up your good leg -- and then you kick the hell out of the door with your steel-reinforced boots, watching in satisfaction as it splinters open. At this point there's no way you haven't drawn attention to yourself, but you've always wanted to make a dramatic entrance and you'll be damned if this isn't the best possible time to do so.
  76.  
  77. Looking up in surprise, Nisha freezes halfway through loading bundles of money into a large sack with a dollar sign printed on the side.
  78.  
  79. "...Mike Schmidt?! What the HELL are you doing here?!" she shrieks. "...and why are you dressed like a spy?"
  80.  
  81. As you'd expect from a crooked CEO's domain, the entire room is decadent in its opulence. Every piece of furniture in here is luxurious and expensive, from the antique mahogany desk to the silk cushions and real gold trim on the chairs. The floor is covered in thick, plush purple carpeting, and punctuated in redundancy by exotic imported rugs. Fine art lines the walls, along with glass trophy cases chock full of restaurant memorabilia like toys and print advertisements. And of course, an antique iron safe straight out of any old-timey movie rests behind the desk, polished to a mirror shine. Its door is swung wide open, and based on the sack she was loading when you walked in, it appears to be in the process of being depleted of its contents: piles of hard cash and several clandestine documents sealed with string.
  82.  
  83. "Nisha Marigold," you announce, swaggering into her palatial office with a smug grin. As impressive as everything in here is, you can't help savoring her expression of utter and complete shock -- it's a good look for her. "Show's over, lady. I know all about your schemes."
  84.  
  85. "Schemes?" Squirming, she sets aside the cash she's holding and begins inching toward her desk. "Gosh, Mr. Schmidt, I don't know anything about that! I was just here to see if I had a nail file somewhere! My cuticles are getting totally out of control! Tee-hee!"
  86.  
  87. "Can it, Nisha. I know the 'dumb bimbo' routine is just an act." You shift your bag around, walking towards her. "Well, mostly, anyway."
  88.  
  89. "I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about," she lies obviously.
  90.  
  91. Before your feet can make it to the rug in the middle of the room, something rough clamps down on your shoulder.
  92.  
  93. "Not another step," an oily voice behind you thrums. Turning around, you see Jeremy Human standing directly behind you, gripping your flesh hard enough to bruise it.
  94.  
  95. "Ah, Jeremy," Nisha titters, "I was so hoping you'd join us. Please take care of our guest for me."
  96.  
  97. Raising your free hand to your headlamp, you move to flick it on, but Jeremy counters quickly, tearing the band from your scalp (and some of your hair with it) and smashing the light on the ground. His metal mouth pulls itself to a tight, toothy grin, and he wags his finger.
  98.  
  99. "Uh-uh, Schmidt," he warns in a slick, static-filled tone. "No unauthorized equipment."
  100.  
  101. "He's got you dead to rights," Nisha smugly observes. "Guess this time it really is the end for you."
  102.  
  103. The sinister metal bandstander reaches his clutching hand towards your face. "Like you always say: safety first."
  104.  
  105. "Exactly right," you return, suddenly jabbing Jeremy in the chest with the taser you wisely brought along. A crackling noise fills your ears and a bloom of bluish light arcs across the humanimatronic's uncanny features, jolting him back.
  106.  
  107. Stunned, he lets out a digital wail of pain as his systems begin to lock up. While he's reeling, you place your 'lockpick' boot against his chest and with a solid kick, send him tumbling straight down the stairs where his frail robot body shatters on impact against the tile floor.
  108.  
  109. "Watch that step. It's a doozy," you grin, giving him a one-fingered salute before slamming the door. Turning around to face Nisha, you nod. "Now, where were we?"
  110.  
  111. "Stalling for time," the black bear replies, aiming a pistol directly at you. "Didn't see this coming, did you."
  112.  
  113. "...nope. Can't say I did," you reply blankly.
  114.  
  115. "Game over," she quips, plugging you straight in the chest.
  116.  
  117.  
  118.  
  119. "SHIT!!"
  120.  
  121. A heavy, bandage-wrapped paw slaps you upside the back of your head. With a stern huff, April looks down at you disapprovingly.
  122.  
  123. "Mike. Language," she chides.
  124.  
  125. "Oh, uh -- sorry," you mumble, rubbing the back of your head sheepishly. "Look, I'm just really frustrated right now. I've been at this for hours and I'm no closer now than when I started out."
  126.  
  127. You cast a despondent look across the table that's served as the mock battlefield in your impromptu war room. Scattered photos, fragments of blueprints, hand-scrawled notes and hallways drawn from memory litter the surface, offering every mode of ingress to the black keep known as Jeremy Human's -- and yet, none of it yields a solution. Every option leads to the same outcome. Every path leads to her victory. All ways are the Queen's ways.
  128.  
  129. "I can't do it," you grumble, wadding up your latest failed plan-in-progress and chucking it into the nearby wastebin. "There's not enough for the police to get involved. I can't fight off a team of killer robots without resorting to blind luck. Even when I DO make it to her, what then?"
  130.  
  131. April picks up one of the scraps off the table, studying it quietly.
  132.  
  133. "I mean, she's already proven she's not afraid to kill to get what she wants. I'm walking right into the lion's den just to announce I'm a danger to her."
  134.  
  135. "Bear," April corrects, from over your shoulder.
  136.  
  137. That one's getting old. "...right, into the bear's den." You slump onto the table, scattering a pile of your own carefully-arranged battle plans, but you just can't find the wherewithal to care.
  138.  
  139. "Can't just... let her win."
  140.  
  141. "I hear you, I really do." You sit up, peeling a sticky note off of your forehead. "But come on, April -- what the hell am I supposed to do? Hope really, REALLY hard that she gives up out of the goodness of her heart instead of just shooting the shit out of me?"
  142.  
  143. You're brought back to reality with another smarting strike on your increasingly reddened cheek.
  144.  
  145. "Ow! What is it with you and Freddy slapping me?!" you whimper.
  146.  
  147. "Language!" April warns again.
  148.  
  149. "Okay, fine, I get it," you insist, hands raised defensively. "Look, I'm just saying -- we have so much, but it's still not enough!"
  150.  
  151. "...no, Mike." Even beneath her gauze-wrapped facade, you can read the despair and desperation on what's visible of the bunny's face. "Everything... we've worked for? Must be SOMETHING. Look harder!"
  152.  
  153. Even with your sprawl of notes, all the evidence you and April have is still circumstantial -- not enough to convict Nisha, even in your own daydreams. Even April 'willingly' signing over her shares is simply April's word versus Nisha's at best -- it's a given Nisha's had the signature forged or falsely notarized.
  154.  
  155. "I want to take her down as badly as you do, April, but I can't. I can't do it--"
  156.  
  157. Silently, April grips your shoulders firmly with her paws, cutting you off. The look in her eye says it all: she clearly has no intention of letting this go.
  158.  
  159. That makes two of you.
  160.  
  161. "--alone," you finish.
  162.  
  163. You spin in your chair, focused on the 'mystery board' you've been working on -- all the familiar faces, all the people you've grown to know since you arrived here. Neighbors, friends, family. All of these people so inextricably linked to this place, touched by it. Scarred by it, even. These are all the people Nisha hurt.
  164.  
  165. Even though it's been just a handful of weeks since you moved in, you feel like you've known these folks for a lot longer. And thinking about what you've come from, maybe you have. Maybe that's why you've taken so well to them. Either way, you've finally got a genuine chance at making the person responsible pay, and you're not going to to let it pass you by.
  166.  
  167. Frederick leans over from his stool by the corner, waving his enormous paw in front of your face. "Ne rêvez pas."
  168.  
  169. "I'm here, Freddy. Just thinking about some things," you chuckle, waving him off. "We've all got a stake in this, some of us more than others, right?"
  170.  
  171. "Right," April replies, her brow knitting.
  172.  
  173. "And there's strength and safety in numbers. Charging in by myself, I'm going to get slaughtered." You lean over your desk, hastily rearranging your gathered documents. "You said it yourself, April: this isn't a movie."
  174.  
  175. She tilts her head and her good ear flops to the side. "Which movie was that last plan... supposed to be?"
  176.  
  177. "Look, that's not my point," you cough, standing up. "This isn't just about me. Nisha has a lot to answer for, and a lot of people to answer to. I bet they'd want to be there for it when it happens."
  178.  
  179. "Can't all just... walk in the front door."
  180.  
  181. "Maybe we could, if we all went in together during the day, instead of me trying to sneak in at night by myself."
  182.  
  183. "Not what I meant," she sighs, running her paw over her head, flicking back a yellow tuft of fur poking out between strips of gauze. "Not everyone... wants to go back."
  184.  
  185. You stop, half-leaning over the table, straightening up the papers representing separate rooms. "Oh. Right. Good point. I doubt any amount of revenge would get Beanie to set foot in Jeremy's again."
  186.  
  187. "Fred Fazbear," April sniffs.
  188.  
  189. "...would or wouldn't?" you ask.
  190.  
  191. "He should come. About time... we talked to him."
  192.  
  193. "Fred's a pretty proud guy," you scoff. "I don't think he'll listen to me on this."
  194.  
  195. April rises to her full height, straightening the high, broad collar on her new coat. "Then he can listen to me."
  196.  
  197. "You're going to ask him to come with me?"
  198.  
  199. "No. I'm making him go with us."
  200.  
  201. Wait, 'us'? Putting two and two together in your head, you realize you don't like where this one's going.
  202.  
  203. "Whoa, hold up. I don't know if you coming along is such a hot idea, April." Folding your arms, you look up at her. "I REALLY think you should stay home."
  204.  
  205. "Don't try stopping me," she argues, buttoning her coat up. "I'm going."
  206.  
  207. "No, you're NOT. You're the closest legal tie we've got, and you know more than anyone else. Without you, we've GOT no case and Nisha ends up holding all the cards. If something were to happen to you--"
  208.  
  209. Your words catch in your throat as she stares down at you with her one good eye, a frighteningly calm intensity punctuating her obscured expression.
  210.  
  211. Well, she makes a good argument.
  212.  
  213. "Fine," you sigh, acquiescing. "Fine, April -- we'll all go in together, then."
  214.  
  215. "Who else?"
  216.  
  217. Options run through your head as you finish tidying the table. If you were to think of this as a siege, then what sort of soldiers would you want to bring? Experienced combatants? Intelligence specialists? Charismatic negotiators? Make no mistake -- you're declaring war. This is a strategy meeting, after all.
  218.  
  219. "Faz seems to know the layout better than anyone," you finally offer. "Especially including maintenance routes. Maybe we could bring him along? Or at least get him on the phone for support?"
  220.  
  221. April picks up her scarf (which you recognize as one of Mangle's designs) from the end table next to the bunk bed, gingerly wrapping it around her neck. "A good start. You talk with him. I'll see Fred."
  222.  
  223. "Right."
  224.  
  225. As she leaves, you grab your own jacket off the bed and move to follow her out -- but before you can make it to the door, you're stopped in your tracks by a gentle tug at your arm. Glancing over your shoulder, you find Frederick clutching your wrist.
  226.  
  227. "Prenez-moi."
  228.  
  229. "Freddy, I'm sorry, I have to go," you reply with an exaggerated, apologetic expression. "It's for something really important. I'll be back. Don't worry, buddy."
  230.  
  231. You try to pull away, but he won't release his grip, nor break eye contact. "Je dois venir."
  232.  
  233. "Look, I'm sorry, Freddy -- I don't know what you want."
  234.  
  235. His brow furrows, and for the first time ever, you hear him growl. It's a low, guttural, nearly feral noise. The hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and you find yourself riveted to the floor staring at him. He maintains his grip on your wrist -- tightening it, even -- as he begins flipping through a sheaf of drawing papers on his bed with his free paw. After several seconds of searching, he finds what he's looking for.
  236.  
  237. The big brown bear holds up a moody charcoal sketch of a building's facade in disrepair. A bright marquee casts hard shadows over ominous doorways below, and through the darkened windows, furious scribbles hash out baleful humanoid figures.
  238.  
  239.  
  240. You'd recognize the place anywhere.
  241.  
  242.  
  243. Frederick taps himself on the chest, then thrusts his finger insistently at the drawing. "Ici. Prenez-moi ici."
  244.  
  245. "Freddy, you--" You can hardly believe what you're seeing. "YOU want to go HERE?"
  246.  
  247. He nods, tapping the sketch. "Oui. Prenez-moi."
  248.  
  249. "No, Freddy, look -- you can't. You've never even worked there." The hypocrisy of what you're saying isn't lost on you, but there's nuance at work here he can't possibly hope to understand. "Why would you even--"
  250.  
  251. As you try to find a rational excuse, Frederick returns to the piled-up papers, pulling one right off the top and shoving it into your hands.
  252.  
  253. It's a beautiful charcoal portrait of a hen you immediately recognize as Chiclet. She's sitting hunched over on a couch -- looks like the one out in the common room -- with her wings over her face. She's covered in weeping, dripping shadows. Even the lines themselves seem despairing.
  254.  
  255. You look to him, trying to find the words, but he shoves another page at you before you can respond.
  256.  
  257. Bonnibel. Lying on the hard floor, clutching her knees, eyes wide in pure, primal panic. Her face is half obscured. The charcoal strokes of the drawing are fierce and broad -- a current of anger driving the whole composition.
  258.  
  259. You don't even look up at him when he adds the next illustration to the growing stack in your hands. There's Foxglove, standing in an empty doorway. Cowering. A dark shape conceals most of the fox's form, heavy and foreboding, cast from an unseen but looming source. Only the faintest sliver of light comes from the room beyond; all the rest of the drawing is varying intensities of black, crushing and oppressive.
  260.  
  261. As Frederick lets go of your wrist, the world struggles to come into focus. Shakily, you return his artwork to him with a nod. He accepts them without taking his eyes off of you, setting the drawings aside with the rest of his work. You're not even sure he's blinked this entire time.
  262.  
  263. You eventually find your voice, though it's little more than a whisper.
  264.  
  265. "I know," you barely manage.
  266.  
  267. "Prenez-moi."
  268.  
  269. You nod softly to him; your fists are balled up so tight your nails have started to draw blood.
  270.  
  271. "Then we'll go together."
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