(PLEASE REFER TO INTRODUCTION FOR NEW DEADLINE! Make sure to check out the Discord in Prologue - 2 as well!)

I followed Addie into the orange-doored room, a loud creak echoing as the door swung inward.

Stepping inside, I noticed the room's strange layout.

Unlike the previous rooms we've been in, the floor was covered in a gray carpet, with clumps of fabric and hair rising up from the sewn surface. The walls were layered with a similar drywall that the back room of the Nurse's Office had, with small chunks breaking off in the corners. I could also see faint stains of who-knows-what on the ground and walls, a faded dark-red liquid smeared across half of the right wall.

The luminescent lights that had blinded me before felt soft on my eyes, sections flickering on and off throughout the room in irregular patterns.

Looking outward, an elaborate assortment of exercise equipment was scattered throughout the space. Treadmills, ellipticals, rowing machines, and even a stair mill were functional, their synchronized beeps signaling that the last person hadn't signed off of the equipment. A doorway on our right looked into a small room with rainbow colors, piles of magazines and books visible on a circular coffee table.

My time carelessly gazing around the room was cut short as Addie pulled on my dress shirt and pointed to a pair of figures near the treadmills.

"Let's go ask them for help," Addie whispered.

The decrepit scenery must have made her uneasy as, instead of being friendly and loud like when we encountered Kotaro, Addie silently moved towards the back of the room. I followed, trying my best to keep up the rouge-like quietness we've established as my foot collided with the bottom of a clunky elliptical set, a small cry of pain escaping my lips.

As we neared the two figures, I could see another reason as to why Addie seemed so skittish.

A boy and a girl were running on the treadmills side-by-side, their feet making the only sound as they continued to glare at one another in silence. An audible beep sound echoed from the right treadmill, the girl's legs moving slightly faster than the boy's as she increased her pace. Quickly, the boy followed suit, increasing his pacing to be even faster.

The girl scoffed and pressed another button that raised the elevation, her head moving slightly backwards as the front of the treadmill pushed upward.

The boy let out a noise, almost a mixture between a laugh and a snarl, and dramatically pressed the elevation button several times, the flat treadmill quickly turning into a steep incline.

"Beep. Beep. Beep." went the treadmills as the pair continued to go faster.

Addie and I watched this silent display of athleticism unfold in front of us as the pair's pacing and elevation increased, almost creating the illusion that two people were sprinting up a wall instead of simply running on treadmills. Their breathing came in short huffs as they continued to push themselves faster and steeper.

Finally, after several minutes of staring, the boy gave out, almost tripping on the fast-paced track before reaching towards the front of the treadmill. He pulled his red emergency rope that hung on the right side, stopping the machine and quickly decreasing his pace and elevation back to normal. The girl followed suit rather calmly, a smug smirk crossing her lips. They leaped off the treadmills and sat down beside them, their breathing now elongated from their workout.

The agitated demeanor that they both had while running quickly faded as they began to chat.

"I can't believe I just got schooled by a girl," the boy said between breaths, a smile appearing on his face.

"I'm surprised you even lasted that long!" the girl laughed. "From the minute we started, I could tell that your footwork was off."

"Oh come on!" the boy retorted, jokingly. "Playing on ice all my life has made my body rely more on skates than fancy footwork. That's the only reason that you won."

The girl rolled her eyes. She seemed to spot us from behind the boy, weakly pointing at us with an outstretched finger. The boy's head turned in our direction as she pointed.

"Were you two watching our competition? We were trying to see how fast each of us could run," she asked, relying on her hands as she propelled herself upright to a standing position.

"And apparently how high we could go too," the boy smirked.

"Yeah!" Addie said, her tone light and peppy, revealing that she must've felt safer than before. Whether her calm attitude originated from the pair's interaction or just that they were too tired to beat us up remained unclear.

"You're both really good! I've never seen anything like it!" Addie remarked.

"But I'm better!" the girl said jokingly. "What you both witnessed proved just that."

"Alright, alright. You don't have to rub it in," the boy groaned as he stood up.

As the pair stood facing us, I could finally see how these supposed athletes were built.

The girl was toned and had fair skin. She seemed to be about average height, with the top of Addie's head only coming up to her shoulders. Her eyes were silver and a crescent-shaped scar showed on her upper lip. She had long wavy, brown hair that formed two bangs, framing her face, and continued down to her chest.

For clothing, she wore a white halter neck tank top, coupled with pale purple harem pants with a pink strip running down the middle of each pant leg. I spied another black wristwatch on her left arm, a cougar tattoo creeping up her arm, looking ready to pounce at an unseen prey.

Short, white gladiator sandals, now slightly worn from the competition, bounced slightly as she started to stretch out her leg muscles by standing on her tiptoes.

The girl seemed to continue stretching, bobbing her body up and down.

"It's to relax the muscles again," she started to explain. "Wayne and I are planning on having a rematch, but only if he wants to," she continued, smirking.

"Of course I do!" the boy replied.

Turning my attention to the boy at his response, I was genuinely surprised that he lost the treadmill race.

The guy seemed about as tall as Matsudo, but unlike the infamous Unlucky Student, he seemed very muscular, his beefy arms and legs giving off an even more intimidating look.

He had white skin, his head completely shaved in a badass-biker kind of way. His face was dotted with small freckles and his eyes were a weird ice-colored white.

If his physical appearance wasn't alarming enough, he wore what seemed to be a light-blue and white hockey jersey, a large, gray wolf pasted onto the front of the shirt with its teeth bared outward at the viewer. His lower half consisted of black, athletic shorts and white sport shoes with black laces.

I spotted a similar wristwatch to everyone else on his left arm, but his long-sleeved jersey hid his animal tattoo. However, considering the large imprint on his jersey, it wasn't too hard to guess what it might've been.

The pair turned their backs after greeting us, resetting their respective treadmills in preparation for the rematch. I stopped them halfway through their reassembly.

"Can we get your names? Are you also Ultimates? Can you help us?" I said rather quickly, my impatience growing as they didn't seem to be giving us much information.

"Oh right! I'm sorry! Guess the blood flowed to my legs and my brain can't keep up," the girl joked, a wide smile stretching across her face.

"I'm Pyrrha Cyrene, the Ultimate Archer. My apologies for not saying it earlier," she said more formally.

Name: Pyrrha Cyrene

Ultimate: Archer

"And I'm Wayne Kitsch, the Ultimate Hockey Pro. Apologies all around. Seems like the both of us got wrapped up into our competition a little too much."

Name: Wayne Kitsch

Ultimate: Hockey Pro

No wonder they were both able to run for that long. Having athletic Ultimate talents meant that they were strong-as-steel muscle machines. Right? Perfect!

"Can you help us, then?" I asked again. "In the hallway outside, there's a gate that might lead us to an exit. We're trying to gather people so we can topple it," my arm trying to point towards the direction of the storage room even though it was obviously blocked by the room's walls.

"Exit?" Wayne asked. "We tried opening the door probably thirty minutes ago but it wouldn't budge. We thought we were stuck in here."

Wayne seemed to gesture to the room at large, cringing slightly as his gaze passed over the red stain on the right wall.

So your first decision after knowing there's no escape is to have a race-off...

"Thirty minutes," I repeated, turning to Addie. "Did that whole fiasco outside really take half an hour?"

Addie simply shrugged. "I guess our introductions took longer than we thought."

"Introductions?" Pyrrha started. "'Can we get your names? Are you also Ultimates?'" Pyrrha asked jokingly, obviously mocking my previous questions.

Right! I was acting like a total hypocrite for not introducing us!

"Oh yeah! I'm Daisuke Serizawa, Ultimate Serial Novelist."

"And I'm Addie Tomizuka, Ultimate Glaciologist. Nice to meet you both."

Pyrrha nodded with appreciation and started to speak.

"Now that we're all on even ground, let's head out and see if we can tackle your 'gate problem'!" Pyrrha said excitedly, already starting to walk away the group towards the door.

Everyone began to follow Pyrrha back towards the front of the room. This time I successfully avoided hitting my already damaged foot against the ellipticals, but my eyes glanced over at the colorful room that I saw before.

"Shouldn't we check this out too?" I cried. "There could be someone in there as well."

"Oh yeah! There's a girl in there," Pyrrha started. "She said she wanted to be left alone so we just left to her own device."

"Don't you mean devices?" Addie questioned.

"Oh right! My bad. My first language is actually Greek so some things always slip," Pyrrha explained cheerfully as she neared the door handle.

Greek? Did our kidnapper really take teens from across the globe?

My subconscious, initial hope that we were all just in Japan by chance dwindled after Pyrrha's remark.

"I'm going to check it out anyways," I said, starting away from the group gathered at the door. "Addie, could you lead them over to the gate, then?"

"No. I'm coming with you," Addie exclaimed from behind me. "Gotta stick together, right?"

Opening the creaky door and pointing towards the Nurse's Office, Addie held the door open for Wayne and Pyrrha, closing it behind them as they raced towards the direction of the gate.

Guess that settled that.

"I'm sure that they can handle getting there, but I don't know how much use they'll be considering they were so tired after their run," Addie sighed, walking towards my position.

"Well, why aren't you helping them back at the gate? I mean, I don't mind your company but-" I tried to butt in.

"Because you said that we should walk as a group so no one encounters anyone threatening alone," Addie retorted, referencing my statement from before and crossing her arms.

It was a weird way of saying that she was concerned for me, but my past words did speak some truth. No one should have to go through this place alone.

Pushing the open door to the magazine room slightly with my hand, I found that it didn't have the same creak sound that the main door had.

Glancing inside, a large, red elaborate rug covered the majority of the floor. Only small glimpses of stained white tile peeked out from where the rug didn't cover. The walls were designed in layers of wallpaper, their colors contrasting to form a collage that hurt your eyes.

The aforementioned coffee table that I spotted before was the centerpiece of the small room, magazines and books with faded print sprawled haphazardly across its wooden top.

Large library-like shelves lined the back of the room, their dark-oak wood splitting at the bottom and top, revealing a tan-colored underside. Instead of being filled with books, the majority of the shelves were empty, only leaving small stacks of books at either side.

About five leather upholstery chairs, light brown in color, circled the coffee table like vultures, their seats facing inward towards the piles of books and magazines.

It seemed like Pyrrha's small error didn't retract from what we saw in front of us. In one of the chairs, facing away from us, was a small girl fiddling with her own black watch, the device wrapped around her left wrist.

She was a petite young girl with pale skin, her light-blonde hair styled in a small bun. She wore what seemed to be a steampunk outfit, fit with a safari pith helmet and large goggles on her head. A small satchel of tools were laid out in a corner of the coffee table, small screwdrivers and other handy tools spilling out onto the floor in short, muffled clang sounds.

In her right hand, she held one of her screwdrivers, twisting it into one of the knobs on the watch. Her small grunts of frustration seemed to reveal that she wasn't making any progress.

"I heard your conversation with the other two so you don't have to introduce yourselves. You didn't have to look for me either. I wouldn't be much use to opening a large gate anyways," the girl said, keeping her back towards us.

"Can one of you grab one of those Pozidriv screwdrivers and assist me? I might also need a Schrader if you're down there. This thing is really giving me trouble," she continued, gesturing slightly downward to the array of screwdrivers scattered on the floor.

I didn't know what a Pozidriv screwdriver looked like, yet alone a Schrader. I definitely wasn't a handyman growing up in a writer's workspace my whole life.

Before I could ask what either of them looked like, or even the girl's name, Addie seemed ready to the task and began scavenging for the right screwdriver.

"Is this it?" Addie asked, picking up a random screwdriver and holding it up towards the girl.

"That's it! You're fast!" the girl noted, "Have you ever worked with gears and tools before?"

"Um, yeah! Totally!" Addie exclaimed, her sideway glance towards me revealing that she definitely didn't work with hand tools often and that her success was just sheer luck.

"I'm Clara Lila Wilkins, by the way. I'm the Ultimate Clockworker!" the girl said, looking up towards Addie and side-glancing towards me.

"Now if I could just figure out this watch…"

Name: Clara Lila Wilkins

Ultimate: Clockworker

"Twist 180 degrees counterclockwise and push downward into the lower-left pusher for me please. There should be a slight pushback from the mechanism underneath. That means you're good and if we push inward in synchronization, the case should open up," Clara instructed, doing the same thing with her current screwdriver at another corner of the watch.

"The… what?" Addie asked, obviously confused by Clara's statement.

"Lower-left pusher. This-" Clara pointed at a button on the side of the watch with her left hand before she lost her grip on her own screwdriver, the metal end falling to the ground with a muffled clang.

Clara just sighed and picked up her screwdriver. "I guess we have to start over."

"I-I'm sorry!" Addie apologized. "I'm not that knowledgeable of clocks in actuality."

"That's okay," Clara said calmly. "The real struggle with this watch is that it doesn't seem to follow the same mechanics of regular, everyday watches. There seems to be a particular difference in the structure of the right and left lugs and the crown."

I didn't know what the British Crown had to do with a wristwatch, but I didn't try to correct her. It was probably some technical thing I didn't get.

Entering the room, I sat down at the chair opposite of Clara, looking at her handiwork.

Her hazel eyes peered down at her black wristwatch, the same as everyone else's. Similar to Matthew, Kotaro, Wayne and even Addie, her possible animal tattoo was hidden by her clothing.

As the pair started to sort through the remaining screwdrivers on the floor to start the process all over again, I started to flip through some of the magazines on the table.

Many seemed to be scientific journals or fashion magazines, their covers decorated with natural disasters and eye-catching dresses respectively, but a magazine covered in quotes and famous figures seemed to grab my attention.

It seemed like a normal Peoples magazine titled "Kingu: Revamped" in big red letters, depicting several famous figures on the cover.

The main article showcased a teenage boy, resting against a brick wall with his arms crossed, looking away from the camera in a dramatic fashion. His wavy dark brown hair was styled in a messy cut, and his red eyes were similar to Matsudo's, contrasting with his tan skin. I could see a scar on the bridge of his nose and his mouth was curled into a sly smirk like he knew something the viewer didn't. His black button-up and black pants made him and Matsudo look even more like twins, the only difference being the boy's white sneakers.

His whole appearance seemed to look smug and pompous, seemingly fit for what was said underneath the photo.

"Actor Seizo Morine stars as the villain in the live-action adaptation of 'Sun Witch Esper Ito', coming this fall to a cinema near you. Will Mr. Morine succeed in his malicious endeavors or be stopped by the heroes? Turn to page 20 for more details on the upcoming release!" the subtitle stated in black font.

The scenery around the boy was foreign to me, the cloudy sky only adding to the villainous aesthetic the photo was trying to portray, but it certainly looked more pleasant than the prison we seemed to be trapped in.

The boy's knowing smirk only seemed to infuriate me more at our current predicament, like he knew the way to escape and was staying inside the contents of the photo only to taunt us.

I could only hope that the gate would be our ticket out of here.

"We should go." I spoke up, setting the magazine down and covering the smug boy's expression with a scientific journal on space flight.

"That would be wise," Clara said softly. "No offense to you, but I need more dedicated focus if I'm ever gonna crack this thing. Maybe if I can solve this, we'll be one step closer to getting out of here."

"Sounds like a plan. Good luck to you!" Addie agreed excitedly, starting to rise from the floor where she was hovering over the watch alongside Clara.

"No, no! I need a second pair of hands and your ability to find these screwdrivers should help since I can't really bend over while I'm working on myself. Please stay, Addie! Please!" Clara pleaded, giving Addie obvious puppy-dog eyes.

"Please!" she pleaded once more.

"Well, uh, why not?" Addie stuttered, glancing towards me with a sympathetic look. "If it's a step in the right direction to ensure that we make it out of here, I'm fine with working with you and learning about some watch mechanisms. Go on ahead, Daisuke, and see if you can find anyone else that could help out at the gate."

Clara gave a small cry of glee before wrapping one arm around Addie in a partial hug.

Addie twirled around and gave me another longing expression, but I knew that Clara would have her way one way or another. Her idea of hopefully getting these black watches off could be just as useful as getting the gate down. We certainly didn't know what the watches were for anyway, besides screeching at you when you wake up like what happened to me.

I got up from the chair and reached the open doorway, waving goodbye to the pair before leaving the room. Gazing out at the exercise room once again, and shuddering at the crimson mark across the wall, I opened the door and stepped into the vacant hallway.

As soon as I walked out the door, I could hear sounds coming from down near the Nurse's Office, a mixture of shouts, grunts, and cries forming a cacophony of noise.

I hoped that Matsudo and Teti were holding down the fort. I felt like a character in a video game, building an army of mindless NPCs to do my bidding for me. We didn't even know if the gate was an actual exit or not. We could only hope that it was.

The feeling almost made me race back to the gate, but a loud shout from across the hallway made me turn towards the sound's origin.

A door, left of the laundry room where Teti and Kotaro woke up, was painted a sky-blue color, the paint faded near the handle. The handle itself was rustling back and forth, a shout echoing from inside the room beyond.

"Ay, Dios me! Déjame salir ahora, hijo de puta!" a female voice said within the room ahead, the handle greatly rattling as the person behind the door kept trying to turn it.

The language seemed like Spanish, but I was at a loss on how to communicate with the woman.

I darted over to the blue door and tried to talk with her from the other side.

"Uh- cómo estás? Me llamo Daisuke Serizawa. Uh- Me gustan… las manzanas?" I stuttered, my vocabulary lacking due to my bad memory of Spanish nouns and verbs from middle school.

"Excelente! Quizás podrías agarrar una manzana y tirarmela a mi cabeza! Ciertamente terminaría con mi sufrimiento!" the voice said, a sarcastic tone revealing that my response was definitely not what she wanted.

I couldn't understand what she was saying, so I dropped the Spanish and hoped that she would respond in a language I understood.

"Like I tried to say, I'm Daisuke Serizawa, the Ultimate Serial Novelist. If you stop rattling the door handle, then maybe I could find a key on the ground outside and insert it! I'm not gonna hurt you."

To my surprise, the door handle stopped its rattling and the voice said something in English.

"Serial Novelist? So a writer then?" the girl asked excitedly.

"Yeah," I started. "Are you a writer too?"

"Sort of. I'm Ashanti Cruz, but please, call me Sarita. I'm the Ultimate Narratologist!" the girl shouted through the door, seemingly more relaxed than before. Maybe it was because she knew I was a fellow Ultimate.

Name: Ashanti (Sarita) Cruz

Ultimate: Narratologist

"Now, I would love to talk about being a narratologist with you, but there's kinda a door in my way!" Sarita said angrily.

"Working on it." I mumbled.

Scouring the ground, I didn't see any leads on how to open the door. The only thing on the rocky ground was well... rocks. This entrance seemed to be a spot where the cavernous walls were slightly collapsing from above, sending small particles of dust and hand-sized rocks to the ground below.


Grasping a large, round rock in my right hand, I attempted to bash the handle of the door.

After a few loud bangs from the swings at the handle, Sarita piped up from the other side of the door.

"It's a locking mechanism, you bobo! Try to slide something into where the lock fits."

Shit. I'm an idiot.

"Yes, you are. Bobo," Sarita agreed, chuckling to herself as she tried to pull the door inward. I must've said that comment out loud.

Rolling my eyes, I slid another rock into where the lock would've connected with the doorframe, its thin, gray surface forming a white line along where I pushed it into the crack. I grunted as I leaned my body against the door to support the tiny movements of the rock.

Suddenly, the locking mechanism detached and the door swung open inward, sending me tumbling to the ground.

"Man, you really are a bobo, aren't you?" Sarita said as she stood over me, my head pounding as I glanced up at her.

"Can you quit it with the 'bobo' comments?" I pleaded. "It's really not necessary."

"Repetition is a writer's worst enemy," Sarita agreed. "Sure thing, tonto."

I could tell from the smirk she made that 'tonto' must've been not far off from 'bobo'.

Standing upright, my body stumbling to get back up after the fall, I was finally able to talk face-to-face with Sarita and take in my surroundings.

The girl I met behind the door was about the size of Pyrrha, with thin arms and shoulders which rounded out near her hips and continued down to her legs and thighs. Her light-brown, upturned eyes were fit in a serious gaze even as she smirked at me, slightly obscured by her black eyeliner and a pair of large, circular glasses with their lens popped out. Her arched eyebrows and crossed light-brown arms were fixed in a 'I'm better than you' sort of pose, her smug expression complete with red lipstick.

Her charcoal-black hair was done in a variety of Bantu Knots that stuck out into the air, small fragments coming undone as she shook her head at me.

Her clothing consisted of a large red and gold poncho, decorated with engraved patterns of polyester roses, that descended down to her knees. From there, she wore white, skin-tight pants and red and yellow flip-flops on her feet.

An array of golden rings shone on her fingers and went along with a golden necklace, decorated in flower patterns, that hung around her neck. I spotted a black wristwatch on her left wrist, but her baggy poncho hid her tattoo.

"Enough staring. I already know I'm certainly someone everyone should gaze upon," Sarita said.

Great. She seemed just as high-and-mighty as Tomoko, even if her attitude was slightly calmer.

"Why don't you catch up on some reading and listen to my teachings, Mr. Novelist? Whoever kidnapped the two of us certainly gifted me a good space to instruct from."

I could see what she meant.

The room, albeit smaller than a normal classroom, was designed exactly like a lecture room, with rows of desks and seats lined up around the space with a teacher's desk at the front-left. A massive chalkboard hung on the far wall, bits of white chalk positioned near the teacher's side. An assortment of small bookshelves lined the rest of the far-left wall, their wood similar to the much grander shelves lined in the magazine room.

"I'm quite alright," I started, trying to match her more formal tone. "I actually need you to assist me with something. See, we're not the only ones stuck here."

"Qué lástima! There's more of us?" Sarita questioned.

"Yeah. We're actually trying to pull an iron gate down that might be our ticket out of here. It's down that way," I said, gesturing to my right, the thin strip of hallway looking empty as ever.

I noticed her lack of supposed arm strength and tried a different approach.

"But we've had a few turndowns, actually. So, if you don't think you're capable that's-" I started.

"Not capable! How dare you?" Sarita fiercely snarled at me, her eyebrows raising in shock. "Don't doubt my physical power even if my talent doesn't rely on it, tonto!"

Sarita started to storm out of the room, her poncho getting caught on the door handle, slightly ruining her dramatic exit as she raced down the hallway towards the Nurse's Office.

Before I could even react, a loud bang echoed in the direction of the gate, which only increased Sarita's pace as she rushed around the corner.

Shit. Were we able to get the gate down?

Or did something else happen that hindered our attempt altogether?

A.N: Thanks everyone for your continued support of this story! Looks like we have another four characters added to the mix!

Congratulations to everyone who got accepted, and to everyone who still wants to submit/has submitted, remember that I moved the deadline to May 1st. There are still plenty of spots and plenty of time before the deadline, but be sure to get those submissions started if you haven't already.

Like I said in the first chapter, please feel free to give me any feedback about my writing in the reviews or PMs. The advice that some people have given me over the past two chapter really boosts my writing quality and ability, and I'm grateful for your input. Like I said in the last chapter, my writing could always be a step forward or backward, so we'll have to wait and see.

This chapter is also a little more lengthy compared to last time, so if you have any suggestions or comments on my pacing, etc, that would also help me moving forward as I plan out the story more.

Did you spot the cameo of a character from Out of This World, a SYOC by Other Senpai? 0.0 Since I'm in the cast, I thought it would be an interesting Easter Egg, but it doesn't get any deeper than that. If you wanna check out another SYOC that I could potentially Easter Egg in this series, check out Rayy12's SYOC, "The World Beneath Us".

I now have a Discord server for this story if you didn't already know! The link has been posted at the top of Prologue - 2, so accepted people and readers can start interacting and theorizing before the next chapter release. Hopefully the link is now permanent, but please PM me if there's an issue again.

I hope all of you are feeling well and I can't wait to see where this story takes us!