You eventually find Roxy in the recreation room, fiddling with a gaming console. You stand there for quite a while before she notices you.

"Oh, hi Janey!" she says. "I was just trying to hook this up. It's broken, but I'm piecing it together with all these other broken ones. When we get it done, wanna join me?"

"I don't really play games," you say. "I was going to go explore and try to figure this place out."

You'd feel weird asking her, but Roxy is already proving to be a fantastic friend, because she stands up, dusts off her skirt, and sends you one of those endearing grins. "I'll come with, if you want."

"Thanks, yeah," you say, blushing a little, and she pulls you along by the waist, out of the recreation room and into the hallway.

"We should start at the pool. See if anyone decided to use it yet," Roxy says, and you blush again. You don't quite feel comfortable in a swimsuit. She apparently notices your discomfort, because she continues. "But we don't have to."

"Let's start with the library," you say, and she nods. The two of you make your way to the library, nearly getting run down by Latula once. Thankfully, Cronus Ampora is nowhere to be found.

The library is mostly empty, apart from Dirk Strider and Rufioh Nitram combing the shelves. "A shitload of shitty contemporary," Dirk mutters as you pass him. "And we can't find a single damn manga."

"Let's split up," Roxy says, and she's eyeing Dirk so intensely that you get a little uncomfortable. "I'll take D-Stri's side, you poke around over there. Unless you want some of th-"

"No thank you," you say. You're much more interested in Jake than either of those two, and you figure that if Dirk is here, then maybe Jake's nearby, too. And, from his title as Super High School Adventurer, he'd probably be in the dark, dusty corners of the library.

So, you head back there, coughing a little when you accidentally knock over a pile of books and send a cloud of dust into the air. After a coughing fit and a few sneezes, someone presents a handkerchief to you. You take it, eyes watering too much to see who it is. Once you can see who it is, however, you blush.

"I-I'll wash it and-"

"Nonsense!" Jake English says. "It wouldn't be gentlemanly of me to demand it back. I insist you keep it."

"Thanks," you say, blushing. He grins an absolutely wonderful and clueless and adorable grin at you. "Are you here with Dirk?"

"That outstanding chap? Why, yes, although he appears to have found a new buddy," Jake said. "Similar interests, and all that. Are you here with my girl Roxy?"

"Yeah," you say. You can't stop staring at his shorts. They're really. Short. And they look quite nice on him.

"Fantastic lass, she is," Jake said. You wonder how he can have all of these opinions on all of these people so quickly, then wonder if he's that naïve to think that everyone's wonderful. You certainly don't think that everyone's wonderful.

"We're looking around," you say, trying to save yourself. "Trying to figure out what's going on – oh, darn it!"

You tried to lean casually against a table but it collapsed. He makes a sound of surprise and catches you, one hand on your back, the other under your elbow.

You're fairly certain that your head is on fire.

"You should be more careful!" he said. "Wouldn't want to crack your pretty little skull open, would you?"

Your eyes go to the skull on his shirt.

"Skulls are such a fu- Dirk! Dirk! Oh for frigs flipping sake, he's not listening to me. Stay here, will you?"

With that, he hurries off. You would stay there, but you'd rather explore a little more. Find out the real mysteries of this school.

Unfortunately, the only thing you find is Roxy, crawling around, looking for her earring. You help her, and then she dusts herself off and pulls you toward the changing rooms. "I'm sick of all these boys, Janey, let's go swimming!"

You don't really even have time to decline. The two of you find swimsuits – you're a bit embarrassed, looking for a swimming suit with Roxy, who is so tiny you look like a whale beside her, but they are school issued swimming suits, so it's not like you're in bikinis. They're one-pieces, and stretchy, and there are lots of sizes. They accommodate for everyone, it seems.

Roxy talks even when she's naked, it seems. You're facing the wall and trying to not freak out while she just throws off her clothes and chatters on and on about how cute Jake is and how cute Dirk is and how much she's looking forward to getting that Xbox fixed and how she might invite Latula to try it out with her?

"I wonder if Meenah's here," you say. "Didn't she say she wanted to find a pool?"

"Gawd, I hope not," Roxy says. You agree. She tried to take the leadership position so harshly. Dirk tried to lead, too, but he's a lot… different from her, somehow.

It's almost worse than you expected. Aranea Serket is reclining at the side of the pool. Meenah was crouched on the deep end of the pool, clad in a bikini that was definitely not school-issued.

And, of course, Cronus Ampora is leaning against the wall outside the changing rooms, grinning even though he has a bruise forming on his collarbone. "Hello ladies," he says. Roxy ignores him. She pulls you into the pool, and you shriek a little. She laughs.

You catch Cronus out of the corner of your eye walking the perimeter of the pool, gaze flicking from Meenah to Aranea to you and Roxy. He pauses at a collection of pool noodles and other floating devices and runs his hand down one. He looks to be thinking pretty hard, actually. Then he sidles up to Meenah and puts a hand on her shoulder.

She flips him into the pool. He comes up sputtering about his hair and his cigarette and she laughs at him. You giggle a little too. Roxy's lips are curled into a sort of grimace.

"Doesn't it suck that all total assholes are hot?" she asks. You study Cronus. He's no Jake. Or even Dirk, who you have to admit has muscle. But Cronus is… he's fairly attractive, you'd say. Not right now, with his hair falling out of its pompadour and face spotty red, and he's unimpressively scrawny, but you guess…

"Don't tell me you like him."

"Oh God no," Roxy says. "I'm very committed to the idea of me and Dirky in a relationship. Even though he's totally setting off my gaydar. Which sucks. Hot guys are always assholes or gay."

You laugh a little when the Caliborn puppet pops out of nowhere. "You guys," it enunciates clearly. "Need to get out of the pool so you can see your first motive."

Roxy helps you out of the pool and he hands the both of you an envelope. Then he disappears. You open the envelope and peer inside.

It's just… a picture. On the back is a note from Calliope, written in a swirly script.

Hello dearie!

I wouldn't let him do a horrible thing for your first motive! Hopefully this won't drive any of you to murder, even if they are released to the public!

Callie~

It's an embarrassing picture, sure, but it's just twelve-year-old you pulling a face, with zits and braces and an unflattering outfit. Nothing you'd kill anyone over, even if you were embarrassed that they were released.

Beside you, Roxy snorts. "Wow," she said. "This is even kind of cute. Look."

She pushes her picture into your hands. It's a twelve-year-old Roxy, all skin and bones looking all snobby in a Ravenclaw scarf. "Harry Potter?" you say. She grins and nods.

"I think it's twelve-year-old picture day," she said.

"Hey, where'd Toolscar go?"

"Toolscar?" Roxy says.

"Ampora. I heard him call himself Dualscar, because of those weird things on his head," Meenah said. You glance around. Yeah, no sign of Cronus anywhere.

Huh.


With Calliope there, motives probably won't get bad for a while. Because she still has some control.