By the hands of the Gods, you have been plucked from your time and from your world, dropped into the box.
Only the box is a world of its own.
We are a mass crossover based on the concept of Pandora's Box. Characters from nearly any fandom can be played here. Because of the endless character possibilities, we are canon only here at Pandora. Take a peek at our rules and plot information before starting your new life in Pandora.
It was a new day and there was a part of Diluc that had hoped he might wake up in his own bed in Heavenfell. That wasn’t the case. He was still in this hotel, still on this godforsaken island, and while he had spent the earliest parts of the morning trying to tell himself that everything was fine as he showered and quite literally scrubbed the ill feeling of having sleeping in that bed and in this room from his skin, Diluc knew the truth.
How long until somebody died?
At the very least, he looked presentable. He didn’t feel like he was stepping out into something that could have been considered life or death. He wasn’t grubby, he wasn’t in survival mode, and yet, he was. He was concerned, he was suspicious of his surroundings. He hadn’t even touched the clothing in the dresser, clothing that was perfectly tailored to him and exactly the style he would have worn.
Instead, he put on his clothes from the day before, for the sake of his own comfort and security.
Having already checked out the majority of the island, Diluc’s focus today was the hotel as he moved about from room to room, having poked his head into the gym, glanced into the restaurant and heard his stomach rumble at the prospect of a good meal, and now, here he was at the outdoor pool, not dressed at all for sunbathing or swimming, but still giving the empty space a bit of a walk-through.
That was when he spotted her, realizing that the space wasn’t quite so empty at all. Diluc was silent at first as he sifted through the information that had been shared at that first encounter yesterday morning. Tsumugi. That was her name. Tsumugi Shirogane.
”What exactly is a cosplayer?” Diluc suddenly called from the other side of the pool..
Tsumugi had decided to do something a little different with her choice of dress today. Specifically, with her hair. Normally, she kept it totally down, but she felt it wasn't quite up to the standards of a protagonist. It was a simple change- she just put it up in a ponytail- but somehow, after she had done it and looked in the mirror, she noticed a piece of hair sticking out upwards. It was a protagonist's ahoge! She smiled to herself, despite everything going on around her. It was nice to see that even this sort of situation had a silver lining.
She had spent most of her day so far inspecting different areas of the island, especially around the hotel. She was now looking around every nook and cranny of the pool, save for the pool itself. She had forgotten to put on a swimsuit, unfortunately. The water did look nice, though she wondered how long it would be until that water was mixed with blood--
No, she couldn't think that. That would mean that she had given up, and she didn't want to do that.
As she lightly smacked her face, she heard a voice call out to her from the other side of the pool. It was the red-haired guy... he wanted to know about cosplay! Tsumugi rushed over to him (without running, of course), and excitedly began to ramble about her passion.
"Cosplaying is when you dress up as fictional characters! It can be from a book, or a game, or an anime... I usually make them, but I like wearing them, too! Though I haven't really been able to make any in Pandora yet... I hope I can do it soon! Maybe I can make one for you, if you want? You look like the cool, capable type... maybe Sakuya from Eastern Stories? Oh, but you'd need to wear a maid dress... would you be okay with that? I can totally find someone else for you too, if you want!"
Whatever he had expected, it hadn’t been for Tsumugi to quite literally run at him, rounding the pool so that she could speak with him face to face. Diluc’s crimson eyes went wide and he started to step backward the closer she got, his steps taking him toward the edge of the pool where he found himself abruptly stopping and teetering dangerously, although for the briefest of moments as she rambled away, he quite seriously considered just flinging himself into the water, swimming to the other side, and climbing back out for an easy retreat.
The soaking wet that would follow hardly seemed worth it, though.
As chatty as she was and as much as he wanted to turn his ears off, he thought there must have been some use to listening to her words, although the more he listened, the less he, well … listened, having decided after she had finished her second sentence that what a cosplayer was was, in fact, utterly harmless.
And perhaps just a little bit annoying.
”Or you could find somebody else to put in a maid dress. I’m sure somebody on this island would enjoy the … escape from reality,” Diluc murmured half-heartedly, his eyes drifting away from her as though he wished he could have been anywhere else.
Tsumugi didn't seem to notice how supremely disinterested Diluc was in her rambling. Instead, she was totally focused on finding the perfect cosplay for him. If a maid dress was out, then what was in? "It's totally okay if you don't want to wear one! Actually, I should probably ask you if you have any characters you'd like to cosplay. I'll absolutely make something for you! Cosplay is all about love, so you should be able to wear something you love!" She continued to dump information onto the red-haired man, despite him backing away from her.
She only paused for a second before beginning to spew words at him again. "Or if you don't want a full outfit, I can make you an accessory to wear. Or I could style your hair! There's a lot that I can do when it comes to cosplay." She smiled excitedly. "What do you think? Do you want something now, or would you rather think about it for a bit?"
Was this what she should have been focusing on? Was she not even a little bit concerned that he might be the type of person who would want to take her life? Was she not even a little bit concerned that he was not good?
Good was all relevant, really.
”What if I love dressing up as myself?” Diluc asked her a bit blandly. Were his eyes glazing over?
He loved dressing up as himself? There were a lot of things that he could mean by that. Like if he just wanted to dress up a little, or if he didn't know what he wanted to cosplay, or--
"Ah, um..." She fumbled awkwardly, the realization of what he had meant hitting her like a truck. "Sorry, sorry. Sometimes I get carried away. Cosplaying is something that I'm really passionate about, so..." She laughed awkwardly, trying to smooth over the mood. "Well, the offer's still out there if you want to consider it. But if you don't, it's totally fine. Just... let me know if you change your mind, okay?"
She was ... odd. A bit overbearing, perhaps, and not somebody Diluc thought he would willingly go out of his way to spend time with, but a part of him wondered whether or not this behavior was all to distract her from the situation at hand. After all, she was bubbly and excitable, and yet nothing about where they were and why they were there was bubbly or exciting. Only the subject matter, and yet she didn't set it aside for the good of situation's severity. A distraction, perhaps. Something to keep her mind in a lighter place.
And so, the question was, how was she feeling about it all beneath that mask of hers? What did she think of all of this?
"Oh, you'll be the first to know," Diluc assured her, and under any normal circumstance, he would have turned away in that moment. He would have gone in the other direction and kept to himself, but instead, he remained where he was, arching a brow as he watched her. "... Are you taking all of this very well, or did you just momentarily forget our purpose here?" The only reason they knew one another was because the game was designed to make them want to kill each other. There was nothing light-hearted about that, only chilling.
Tsumugi was relieved that he didn't instantly turn away, at least. Maybe he just wanted to get some information out of her, but he was still able to tolerate her, so she probably hadn't offended him too much. She was brought back down to reality at his next question, though. "Well... I'd be lying if I said this was my first killing game." She said pensively. "I wasn't expecting to be thrown into another one here, honestly... It makes me just plain sad that this is happening again." Her words were a bit underwhelming, to say the least. "I wasn't able to stop it last time... but this time, I'm going to do my best to be more than just a plain background extra."
It wasn't her first killing game. Diluc's brows perked up with surprise at that, lips parting just slightly. She was one of two, then, who had been through this before. It seemed cruel, really, to force somebody to suffer this not once, but twice. "So you, like Ryoma, don't see this as some ... elaborate hoax, then. A part of me expects and ... hopes that we'll wake up tomorrow and everything will be fine ..." Unspoken was the rest as he watched her, gaze carefully studying hers for how she might take that.
But then, he was sure he already new. Clearly her game truly had played out in some capacity.
Tsumugi shook her head, frowning with worry. "I really don't think this is a hoax. There's too much here that's similar to past killing games for it to be some kind of prank..." She sighed. "That doesn't mean that there's no hope of us all getting out alive, but I doubt that we'll all wake up tomorrow back at our homes like nothing happened. If we're going to get out of here, we'll all need to work together." She said as seriously as she could.
Deep down, she knew that things likely wouldn't play out like that. It was such a perfect recreation of what a killing game was supposed to be like that she was all but certain that an expert had organized it. But if so... who, and why?
There was a touch of optimism that he could sense within her even before she had been so certain to tell him that there was hope. There had to be, he could picture her saying, but it was just as easy in these situations to consider the worse case of scenarios. They swam out to sea, they died. They tried to band together and murder their host, they died. They stayed, they died. And while none of those outcomes were absolute certainties, the bear already had it in their heads. After all, what punishments meant it this context was not particularly settle. Their host was violent and their host was sadistic.
"... And what about you? Your last killing game. Clearly you made it out alive," he remarked, though there was a gentleness there because he knew how difficult a subject this must have been for her.
Tsumugi looked down a little, almost hesitant to reveal her own circumstances. She had made it out alive, but it was before her killing game had reached its conclusion. That, and the fact that only 5 of the other participants remained by the time she had been pulled away... well, it didn't exactly inspire confidence about their current situation.
"...I was lucky enough to make it out alive, that's true." She said, intentionally leaving her response vague. "It did give me some experience that's good in this specific situation, but I was really hoping that I'd never have to use it..." She shook her head. "Monokuma's threat is really going to make things difficult, though. Everyone's panicking. Even I'm worried about what's going to happen... And that's exactly what he wants. We just have to be careful to not play into his hands... er, paws."
Given the traumatic nature of her past experiences, Diluc wasn't shocked at all by her reluctance to speak with him. If she refused to, he wasn't sure what he would have done. Pushed her to done so, perhaps, although not through the use of threats or force. More than anything else, he was a man of words and there wasn't a single doubt in his mind that he could have talked his way into more information. Thankfully, though, she was willing to speak.
Truth be told, Tsumugi seemed ... innocent. Genuine. She just wanted everybody to make it out of here alive. Diluc appreciated that and, by extension, he appreciated her.
"Are there loopholes? Does he mean all that he says?" he asked, folding his arms over his chest. The rules could change at any moment, according to him, and were they to grow bold and break those rules. "... The punishments he speaks of ..." Diluc trailed off, watching her as his question hung in the air between them.
Tsumugi looked unsure of what to say to Diluc's first question. "...There's really no way to know if there are any loopholes unless we look ourselves. It depends on how thorough Monokuma's made this whole setup too, I'm pretty sure." Given everything that she had seen so far, she was beginning to doubt that there were going to be any obvious loopholes, but she didn't mention that. "Monokuma is absolutely serious about this whole thing, too. We can't underestimate him."
The next thing he asked about made Tsumugi go quiet again. "...Executions." She plainly responded, looking somber and serious. "This is a killing game. If you get found out after killing someone, then you get executed, and the game continues." It was certainly a dark topic, but an important one to address, as well.