Marinette knew that this was probably her fault. She hadn't planned for Nathaniel to get akumatized, quite the opposite actually, but it had happened anyway. Why had she invited Chloe to the escape room again?
"I'm so sorry, Nathaniel. I thought Chloe was getting better!" Adrien called to Nathaniel, who was now calling himself Escape Artist.
Ah, that's right.
Adrien had practically pleaded with her to invite Chloe along. After Miracle Queen, she had become isolated with everyone. Only Sabrina hadn't left her in the dust. Adrien thought that if Chloe had some reliable people to count on, maybe she'll go back to doing better.
So of course, Marinette had arranged a class-wide escape room outing that could be used as bonding time. And of course Chloe just had to blow up at Nathaniel and blame him when they didn't figure out the room in time.
The only good thing about this was that Lila was busy today, so she couldn't make things worse.
"Well, obviously, you thought wrong. And now you will pay! All of you will pay!" Escape Artist was dressed in a rust colored suit with keys hanging from the ends of his coat and sleeves and seemed to be floating, raised up in the room. Different number combinations were on his black tie in white and changed periodically.
Marinette looked around, trying to find a way to escape. She needed to get out of here so she could transform! Weren't there supposed to be security guards checking the cameras, so they would see Nath getting akumatized?
"Nathaniel, I know that you're upset. That's perfectly understandable, but don't give in to Hawkmoth!" Marinette went to stand next to Adrien, the rest of the class behind them.
"It's Escape Artist! This is all your guys' fault!" Out of the corner of her eye, Marinette saw Chloe run for the door, but before she could a wall fell in front of her. "You want freedom?" Escape Artist grinned. "You'll have to escape from me first." He snapped his fingers and with that darkness surrounded them.
The first thing Marinette registered was that it was dark.
It was too dark in her opinion. She waved a hand in front of her face only to see absolutely nothing.
"Ow." A voice said from beside her.
"Hello? Who's there?"
"Where are we?" A third voice piped up.
"How many of us are there?" A familiar fourth voice asked.
Suddenly, light invaded the space as a screen flickered on.
Taking advantage of the faint light, Marinette scanned the area to see the illuminated faces of her classmates and several objects scattered around the room.
"Hello and welcome to my little game." The voice of Escape Artist filled the room as he appeared on the screen. "Don't try and get out, the only way you can is if you win." He grinned. "I have trapped you all in a maze. The only way to get out of this maze is if you can get all the keys and unlock the final door." He smirked. "If not... well, I'm afraid you will come to an unfortunate fate."
"So you've locked us in an escape room?" Adrien asked. Escape Artist grinned.
"Correct and since you're the one to blame, you have the honor of going first."
"I'm sorry." Adrien said again.
"Sorry doesn't cut it! Why would you trust Chloe? She'll never change." Escape Artist sneered. Adrien just frowned.
"Hey! Don't fault him for seeing the best in people." Marinette glared at the akuma. "He never gives up on giving people second chances."
"Thanks Marinette." He told her softly, placing a hand on her shoulder.
"N-no welcome. I mean! Y-you're worries. I mean! No problem that's what I mean. Because we're friends and friends stick up for each other, because we're buddies!"
'Can someone please shut me up?' Marinette thought.
"Yeah, we're friends." Adrien gave her a smile that did not help her beating heart.
The news that he had dated Kagami for about a month and then broken it off with her after returning from New York didn't help either.
She was supposed to be moving on from him!
"Oh come on! Seeing the best in people will lead to nothing but toxicity!" Escape Artist groaned. "Now, chop chop everyone. You only have two hours after all." The screen flicked off and a lone light bulb turned on.
It was just enough to see Marinette's class and the set-up of the room. It looked like there was a bed, a bookcase, a mirror, sink, toilet, posters, and several storage compartments around the room.
Marinette also spotted a table that looked like it was set for a meal.
"Alright everyone! Listen up! I know that we're scared, but don't worry! I'm sure Ladybug and Chat Noir will be here soon!" Alya told everyone.
"And how would they know where to find us?" Kim asked her.
'Oh she could find you just fine, it's just sneaking away to transform that's the hard part.' Marinette bit her lip, casting a worried glance down at her purse.
"Even if they can't find us, I'm sure it won't take them two hours to defeat the akuma." Alya said.
'Well if I can't get out of here then I'm afraid that it will!' Marinette thought, worried.
"We shouldn't sit around waiting for them, though." Adrien said, fidgeting with his ring that Marinette had never seen him take off. "Look there are thirteen of us, I'm sure that we can solve this escape room in two hours! But we have to work together and play to our strengths."
"Adrien's right." Marinette spoke up. She needed to find a way to get out of here so she could transform into Ladybug. That took priority. "We have more people than the average escape room max, this" she gesticulated around the room, "looks like the average escape room. We can do this guys!"
"We should start looking for keys and different sets of numbers that can be used for unlocking codes." Nino called.
"Everyone spread out and start searching!" Marinette directed. She was glad to see that everyone sans Chloe and Sabrina got straight to work, searching for different keys and clue cards.
"I found something!" Rose called only a few minutes later. Marinette looked away from the poster she was investigating.
"What is it?" Juleka asked.
"It's a key! Great job Rose. Try and find the lock it goes with, okay?" Marinette told her. "Don't worry if it doesn't go with any." She nodded and then went around the room.
"I've got something too!" Nino held up a card that had a picture of Horrificator with an equal sign beside it and then a photo of Lady WiFi.
"Hold on to that Nino, it'll probably be important later." Marinette told him.
"We've got a lock off!" Alix exclaimed. She was sitting in front of a dresser, the lowest compartment opened. "The code was the calendar date." She pointed to the calendar which had a circle around a certain box.
"What's in it?" Mylene asked.
"It's some sort of document." Alix said, taking multiple papers out of the drawer. "Our names are all on here." She furrowed her brows.
"What do you mean?" Alya asked.
"I mean we're all on here. Ivan's the first name, then it's Nino, then it's Aurore, then it's some guy named Theo. Hey wasn't he the one who created that statue of Ladybug and Chat Noir?" Alix asked.
"Yeah." Marinette still remembered him. It was one of the earliest akumas and the first one that she realized that people really liked Ladybug. Sometimes in ways that they shouldn't. Especially not someone who was several years older than her. She was only fourteen and he looked like he was in his later teens, maybe he was even an adult!
At first she had been annoyed with Chat Noir telling Theo false rumors about their relationship. Then she realized that Theo was nearly an adult if he wasn't one already, and that Chat Noir had probably told him that to get him off her back. Her partner always had good intentions, even if his execution was poor.
"Wait a minute, let me see that." Alix handed Alya the papers. She scanned through it. "This is a list of all of the akumatized victims." She said. "In order it looks like. I'm surprised Hawkmoth can even remember some of these."
"Really?" Marinette walked over to her and scanned the list. Sure enough, they were all the names of people who had been akumatized. Marinette could remember each and every one.
"Of course! Do you doubt my skills as the Ladyblogger?" Alya teased.
"I just wanted to be sure."
"What do you think it's for?" Adrien asked.
"I don't know."
"This combined with the card Nino found earlier it seems like this is going to be a Ladybug and Chat Noir themed mystery. Although it doesn't quite match the room." Max looked around. "We will probably need that later."
"Do any of the names look different from others?" Nino asked. "Like are any of them highlighted?"
"It looks like people from this class are." Alya said.
"Is he trying to single us out?" Kim asked.
"It's highly possible. All of us have been akumatized once or twice, right?" Max asked.
"Adrien and Marinette haven't, but I think that's it." Alya mused.
"How were you guys unable to become akumatized?" Rose asked.
"Strong will." Marinette answered quickly. "I've come close a few times, but I always think about the good in my life and it helps to ground me." She couldn't say that part of that strong will was Tikki helping to cheer her up after all.
"Hawkmoth has just never gone after me." Adrien shrugged. "He never really had reason too I guess."
"Not even your father canceling your birthday party?" Nino asked.
"I was expecting that to be honest. I was disappointed, sure, but not enough to be akumatized. I'm kinda used to him doing things like that by now." Marinette sent Adrien a sympathetic look.
Yes, technically, Gabriel Agreste used to be her idol. The key phrase? Used to be. Ever since becoming even closer with Adrien than she had ever hoped, she realized that Gabriel Agreste might be an amazing designer, but wasn't that good of a person. Marinette hoped that this was a more recent development because of his mother's disappearance, but it seemed like it wasn't. It really did worry her sometimes.
"You know, my offer to punch your dad still stands." Nino commented.
"Nino! We don't support violence in this household!" Alya playfully scolded him.
"Aw come on babe, make an exception!" Nino pouted and Alya rolled her eyes.
"If you want to ever even get the chance of punching Monsieur Agreste in the face then you're going to help me find some more clues, okay?" Alya gave him a smile that Marinette could've sworn yelled murder. Nino groaned.
"Fine." The two walked away to start searching the room.
Luckily, everyone else had been searching for a while. Marinette certainly hoped that they would make it out in time, even if Chloe and Sabrina weren't helping.
"Have you checked the mirror yet?" Marinette nearly jumped out of her skin.
"Adrien! Don't scare me like that!" She scolded him.
"Sorry Marinette." He said, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly. "We haven't really talked a whole lot since the trip and I miss hanging out with you." Marinette gave him a half-smile.
"I've been busy." Between school, commissions, Ladybug duties, and helping her parents with the bakery, she's barely had time to breathe. Today was really her first day of freedom since the trip. Plus, there was the fact that she was trying her hardest to get over him and her heart couldn't quite handle one-on-one yet.
"Oh I can definitely relate to that." He told her as he moved to the 'bathroom' and started to search.
"There's a lock here." Marinette pointed to the mirror. "Try and look around the area for a clue of what it could be." Adrien nodded.
"I found something!" Mylene called. "It's another card! This one says two, a photo of Timebreaker and one of Antibug."
"Is there an equal sign?" Ivan asked. She nodded.
"Alright, that's great, but maybe we shouldn't call out every single time we've found something. We're already ten minutes in. When we unravel something big, then we'll regroup and see how much progress we've made."
"Marinette is right." Adrien said. "So far we've got the cards, the documents about akumatized victims, and whatever else is locked up. If we call for everyone's attention when we uncover something, we could waste possible time."
"A few of us can move around in different groups and collect information." Alya suggested. Marinette nodded.
"Yeah, let's use a divide and conquer strategy. A few of us involve the cards and finding them, a few more can work on unlocking different keys, a few of us can work on whatever that akumatized list means, a few of us can be divided again as we move on and collect more details." She suggested.
"Sounds great!" Kim gave them a thumbs up. Marinette looked around to see everyone except Chloe and Sabrina nodding their heads.
"Right now, unlocking different things are priority, most of us should work on that. Two people should work on everything else until we have more details." Adrien instructed.
"Probably three note takers running around and collecting everything?" Marinette suggested.
"Yeah. Alright who wants to work on the cards?" Rose and Juleka raised their hands. "Sounds great you two."
"Kim and I can work on the akumatized victims list." Alix told them. Marinette nodded.
"How about you, Adrien, and I work on getting notes?" Alya suggested, smirking just a tad. Marinette shot her best friend a subtle glare.
She knew they meant well, but them trying to push her with Adrien was exhausting.
"Sounds great!" Adrien smiled. Marinette nodded.
"Yep! But luckily, we can still search for keys and whatnot for a few more minutes before checking in with others." She told him.
"Purrfect plan." He winked. Marinette shot him an odd look.
"Did you just cat pun?"
It was almost alarming how quickly his face shifted. It went from something sly and cocky to something much more reserved and embarrassed.
"Maybe?" He asked.
"I'm sure Chat Noir would be furlatered if he knew you cat-punned like him." She winked. She would never, ever, let him know that she had punned. Marinette grinned as she saw Adrien laugh.
'Totally worth it.' She thought to herself.
"Good one Marinette!" He told her.
"Hey you two! Take out your phone and get to writing notes." Adrien and Marinette exchanged sheepish looks.
"Let's get to work shall we?" Adrien asked. Marinette nodded.
They went around different groups, noting the fact that three more cards had been found, making five in total. Plus another list was found, pages after pages of one. It seemed like most names were feminine, so Marinette guessed they were all the girls.
All the girls of what, she was unsure about.
Oh well, it was most likely nothing to worry about.
There was also the fact they had figured out what to do with the table and it had dropped a key that had unlocked the mirror, which held a magnet for whatever reason.
"An hour and a half to go, everyone." Escape Artist appeared on the screen. "I hope you all are doing just great." He grinned evilly. "Just kidding! No I'm not!"
"Let us out of here! My daddy will hear about this!" Chloe shouted. Escape Artist just glared at her.
"I'm not appreciating your tone Mlle. Bourgeois. Not at all." He shook his head before turning to look at the camera yet again. "Did I happen to mention that at the end of the two hours, not only do you have to escape, but also give me two names? No?" He cackled, something that was odd coming out of the normally soft-spoken boy's mouth. "Well you do. Those lists contain your fate and since I'm not totally cruel I suppose I will give you one hint." He looked around the room. Whether or not he could actually see them, Marinette wasn't sure she wanted to know. "Use the process of elimination. Chop, chop everyone." The screen turned off.
"Alright listen up!" She called before anyone could panic. "I know this may seem incredibly scary, but trust me, now we know what those lists are for! We need to figure out what two names don't match up with anything else and give them to Escape Artist at the end."
"Marinette, there are literally page after page after page of names on this list!" Alix complained. "We might not have time to complete all of it!"
"Create a line." Adrien suggested. "We should wait until we have all the lists at hand then everyone should take a paper from the huge list and one from the smaller ones, assuming we find more. Then using the process of elimination, we can figure it out!" Marinette nodded.
"It'll be very efficient. Creating a chain where we hand down the papers, right?"
"Exactly." They grinned at each other.
"So what should Alix and I work on?" Kim asked.
"Get to work on crossing out names. I'm guessing the packet is the one we'll find our name in and the others will be what we need to use to get rid of all the others."
"If the names match, get rid of them." Alix and Kim nodded.
"But, what if this isn't the biggest list?" Marinette shrugged.
"Well then, we'll still get to eliminate some. The ones we cross out we know that they can't be our name. Then if we get rid of the smaller lists we will use less when it comes down to the biggest one."
"I can help start searching for more instead of worrying about keys!" Mylene suggested.
"Sounds great! Alright everyone, get to work!" Marinette encouraged.
"You really are an everyday Ladybug, aren't you?" Adrien asked, grinning. Marinette looked at him and flushed.
"I can't believe you actually think that highly of me." She mumbled.
"Why wouldn't I? You're both amazing and you never give up! You both create genius plans that no one else would've put together." A smirk dawned his face. "If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were her." Marinette flushed.
"W-what? That's crazy!" Adrien laughed.
"I supposed it is. You'd still make a brilliant super-hero though." There was a sparkle in his eye, one that Marinette wasn't sure that she wanted to understand.
"Thank you Adrien." She said.
"Tis only the truth, My- Marinette!" He grinned.
"Stop flirting and get to work, you guys." Alya teased them.
On cue the two of them flushed, gave each other awkward smiles and then went separate ways.
Marinette ran around documenting the fact that they now had a compass and mirror in addition to the magnet they had found earlier. Another list had been found as well, this time all of the guys' names were found on the list.
Chains were unlocked, series of numbers were found, but they still didn't have all of the lists nor did they know what was going on with the cards.
"So, you found this chalk?" Marinette asked. Max nodded.
"I'm suspecting this will be help-" A large crash and screams amplified around the room.
Marinette jumped into a pose that she often used as Ladybug, the only thing missing was her yo-yo.
"What's going on?" She asked.
"We've unlocked the hallway!" Alya cheered.
Sure enough, where the bookcase used to be there was now a doorway.
"And look! There's a wheel with the akumatized victims! They match the cards." Mylene pointed out.
On the side of the hallway, there were two large wheels with akumatized victims. An arrow pointed to two of them and an equal sign was between the two wheels.
"Oh! I know what it's for!" Rose skipped forward and lined up the pictures. "Horrificator equals to Lady WiFi-"
"Wait! Let's write down the akumas that line up with the arrows before we use the other cards." Alya said. Quickly, they went through four out of the five cards.
"Last one! Be prepared for a jump scare, everyone." Marinette warned them.
Nervously, Rose turned the wheel.
"I can't do it!" She cried as she stopped turning the second wheel.
"I will." Juleka moved forward and lined up the final akuma.
The group let out a collective shriek as a large panel dropped to reveal a chained up Ladybug and Chat Noir and a Hawkmoth standing above them.
Marinette glared at the scene.
"Guys look! It's a door!" Alix pointed out.
"I bet that's the final room!" Sabrina cheered before Chloe shot her a glare.
"Maybe, Sabrina." Marinette gave her an encouraging smile.
"Ugh whatever. We would never be in here if it wasn't for you, Dupain-Cheng. You're the one who organized this whole mess." Chloe stuck up her nose.
"Actually Chloe, Marinette was trying to be nice by inviting you here. Even after you have done nothing to deserve it time after time again." Adrien shook his head. "You've caused so many akumatizations and I can't believe I actually thought you were getting better." He frowned and crossed his arms. "I'm disappointed in you Chloe."
"B-but Adrikins!" Chloe protested.
"But nothing Chloe. Now, Marinette, what do you think our action plan should be?" He turned to the class, all of them looking shell-shocked.
"What?" He asked.
"Dude! I never knew you had it in-."
"Tick tock everyone! We are now halfway through with this little game!" Escape Artist came on the screen, grinning like a maniac. "I see you've made it into the hallway. Good, I was starting to get worried that you weren't as smart as I had given you credit for."
"Ladybug and Chat Noir haven't shown up yet?" Alya whispered, obviously worried. Marinette casted a glance down at her purse.
She hadn't gotten the opportunity to talk to Tikki yet because there was no way she could sneak away in that tiny room. She hoped that Escape Artist wasn't causing too much damage, but the last time that he had been akumatized he had been actually kinda chill. As long as Marinette showed up at his birthday party he didn't cause too much trouble.
"No, of course they haven't." Escape Artist said, still with that psychotic grin on his face. "They know what an admirable foe I am and are staying out of my way, but don't worry, they won't be hidden for long."
'What does that mean?' Marinette thought, gulping.
"Now for your clue, seeing as I'm not totally evil. Besides if you don't succeed, then I won't get certain information that is needed. And I'm quite fond of a few of you, I'd hate for something terrible to happen." Although, that ever-present grin on his face said otherwise. "Your clue is that nothing is non-essential. Good luck everyone!" The grin turned into something more happy, but Marinette couldn't help but think that it was even more creepy than the other one. The screen then turned black as he disappeared to who knows where once more.
"Ladybug and Chat Noir aren't on the scene yet?" Alya asked, worried.
"We can't think about that right now." Marinette said quickly, her stress levels starting to rise.
The rest of her classmates probably thought that it was no big deal if they didn't make it out because Ladybug would fix everything anyway. Well, if she didn't get out then there would be no Ladybug to fix things!
Oh where in the world was Chat Noir? Couldn't he come and cataclysm the doorway or something?
"Marinette is right. What are the random objects that we've found? The people who were working on cards should focus with the people who found the random objects to figure out what's happening." Adrien directed.
"I found chalk." Max said.
"I found a compass." Nino told them.
"I got a small hand mirror." Alya said.
"And I found a magnet!" Ivan told everyone.
"Okay, you four work on figuring what to do with those things. I think that Rose and Juleka should work on finding keys and other codes. Marinette and I can handle note taking. Right?" Adrien gave her a smile. She took a deep breath. She couldn't freak out now. People were counting on her. Adrien thought she could succeed.
"Right, after all we still have things in the other room to unlock as well. Alix, Kim, Mylene, you two keep working on the lists." They nodded.
"Alright everyone knows what they're doing?" Adrien asked. The group rang out affirmatives.
"Okay, let's do this guys." Marinette clapped her hands together and then started to inspect the walls of the room.
"How many more lists do you think we need to find?" Adrien muttered from besides her.
"I'm not sure. What do you think the names are for?" Adrien shrugged.
"I don't know, a way to make us fail?" Marinette gulped. "Don't worry about it though. Ladybug will show up soon."
'That's what I'm worried about.' Marinette thought.
"Or Chat Noir." She reminded him. Adrien gave her a smile that she recognized as his fake one.
"Yeah or him." That was... odd, but she didn't have time to worry about it right now.
"Guys! We've figured out what to do with the magnet!" Marinette looked over to see Nino holding up the magnet to Ladybug's head. "There's a key in there." Alya explained her earlier statement.
"And look! Here's a box!" Rose pointed to something on the floor that Marinette recognized as Miracle Box's design before Master Fu passed on.
"Maybe it contains more papers?" Adrien asked, his voice seemed odd.
"Got the key!" Nino called.
"It's a good thing there's not much in this hallway. We can prioritize the third room." Max said.
"There's a third room?" Juleka asked.
"Most escape rooms have the first room, the hallway, and then the second and final room." Marinette explained.
"Hey Rose, hand me that box." Rose passed Nino the box and he unlocked it.
"More papers! Now we've got the akumatized list, the girl list and the guy list, plus this one." He scanned the papers. "It's all girls, but I don't recognize half of these names." He looked up. "Most of you guys are on here." He said. "Marinette isn't though."
"Let me see that, thank you." Alix grabbed the list from Nino.
"Good work guys, Nino, you should work on finding keys and codes now that your object is used." He nodded.
"Got it dude!"
Marinette turned back to where she was investigating and pulled out a piece of paper.
"Hey guys I just found a five digit code." She told them. "Was there anything in the first room we hadn't unlocked yet?" Nino nodded.
"Yeah it was underneath the bed. I'll show you." They walked into the other room and crawled under the best.
Luckily it was electronic, so she didn't have to worry whether the number was one digit or two.
"Got it!" She cried and pulled out yet another list. This one was luckily rather small.
"Another list?" Nino asked. She shrugged.
"I guess so."
"We found something!" Adrien called them.
"What is it?" She asked as her and Nino entered the hallway.
"It's string, I'm not sure what for." Juleka told them.
"Probably something in the third room." Marinette mused.
"I just hope we can get to the third room soon, we're already over halfway."
"We're doing fine on time, we're a little more than halfway through our time and the rooms." Adrien smiled. "Is there anything else in that first room we hadn't uncovered?"
"Let me do a sweep." Nino told them. "We're good dudes! That room is officially done." Nino gave them a thumbs up.
"Well that's a relief."
"What did you two find?" Kim asked.
"It's another list, here. Get to crossing out names." Marinette handed Kim the list and he nodded.
"Guys! I think I've figured out what to do with the compass." Mylene said.
"What's up?" Alya asked.
"Watch! When I move, the needle does, but when I move the compass it doesn't. I think that this isn't pointing North. It's pointing to something that has a strong enough magnetic pulse to disrupt it." Mylene explained.
"Good work." Marinette nodded to her. "Let's keep it up! We've finished the first room, now let's clear this one!"
"You seem motivated." Adrien mused.
"We're doing really good on time, we need to be sure to keep it up. After all, I'm sure sorting out names is going to be incredibly difficult." Marinette told him as she continued to search around the hallway.
"Don't worry Mari, Alix and Kim are already working on it. We can do a roll call at the very end where we just call out names on the lists and see if anyone has it."
"Yeah, you're right. It's just a bit anxiety inducing because I don't know how many names we have left. What if we don't have enough time to figure it out? What's going to happen?" She could feel panic rise in her chest.
She needed to get out of there. She needed to go and fight the akuma.
"Marinette." Adrien mumbled. "You can do this, I know you can. You've done so many more amazing things without anyone's help and now we have almost the entire class on our side!" Marinette took a deep breath.
Screams erupted around them.
"We got the third room!"Alya said.
"Come on, let's go. We can figure this out together, Marinette." Adrien gave her a smile that made her heart start to flutter.
It was almost a good thing that she was stuck in this escape room. Her mind was focused on getting them out of there so she didn't need to fret about Adrien and how sweet he'd been acting.
Then again, he had been acting like that ever since New York. Sure, they were both busy, but ever since returning it seemed as if she was getting extra attention. It did not help her move on whatsoever. It had been over a week ago now, but Marinette still felt guilty about rejecting Luka. For good this time.
"Is that what the compass was used for?" Marinette asked, breaking herself out of her thoughts.
No time for dreading about her love life, she needed to focus.
"Yeah." Mylene confirmed.
"Okay good, so now we have the chalk and mirror to figure out, right?"
"And the string Juleka found!" Marinette nodded.
"Right, plus that string. How's the names coming along?" She asked.
"We've made it through the shorter list you've found, a good chunk of the first list found, and haven't started on Nino's yet." Marinette took in a deep breath.
"Right, okay. Here's what we're going to do. People with objects, figure out what to do with them. Alix, Kim, Ivan, and Nino, you four work on the lists. That leaves Adrien, Rose, and I to search for other keys and codes. We're in the final stretch everyone!" Marinette cheered and they entered the room.
It had a work desk, a chalkboard, another monitor, and several cases around the room. There were also several posters. A bulletin board with photos of Ladybug and Chat Noir, along with several characteristics that they had, was in front of the work desk.
"Well the chalk definitely has something to do with this." Max muttered, pointing to the chalkboard. "Marinette, after I figure this out shall I work on names or finding keys?"
"Hmm, Adrien how many locks are there?" She asked.
"I only see five." He told her.
"Lists." Marinette decided. "Definitely lists." Max nodded.
"How many lists do we have guys?" Marinette asked.
"Five." The group answered.
"We've barely made any work on the guys though." Alix frowned.
"Alright, let's hope these have more lists for the guys." Marinette sighed and started to look around the room for some sort of code.
"Got it!" Max called victoriously. "The code is 80238." He told them.
"Here's a five digit lock!" Adrien smiled and leaned down.
"There's one here too." Marinette started to enter the code into a compartment on the desk.
"Did it work for yours Mari?" Adrien asked her.
"One sec." She entered in one last number and the chain unlocked. "Yeah that did it!" She said. "It's another list. Looks like guy names."
"I will start to work on this." Marinette nodded.
"Sounds great, Max."
"Nino! I need you to pick me up!" Alya said from the doorway of the room.
"Okay what for?" He asked.
"There's a faint line of light. I think I need to match it up with that mirror." She said, pointing to a mirror at the top of the room that Marinette hadn't noticed.
"Got it." Marinette looked over and into the hallway to see Chloe and Sabrina. Chloe was just sitting there, her arms crossed. Marinette didn't think she had stopped frowning since Adrien told her off.
Something dropped to the ground and Adrien grabbed it.
"It's another five-digit code!" He called, then went over to the box that he was at earlier. "We've got another list guys!" He told them.
"Give it here." Alya said.
"How are we doing on time?" Marinette asked. She glanced around to see people shrugging.
"I guess we'll know when we have thirty minutes left." Adrien said. "Assuming our good friend Escape Artist checks in with us again."
"Yeah okay. We have three locks left. You, me, and Rose are all working on them. Juleka is working on her string. The three of us should focus on one lock each." She told them.
"I hope we have enough time!" Rose fretted. Marinette gave her a smile that she hoped was comforting.
"I'm sure we will Rose." The girl nodded.
"Well, I can do this lock." She pointed to a lock that was also on the work space.
"Alright, I guess I'll do the one that's on the drawer." Marinette started to look around the work space to see if there were any clues to see what the code to the work space's drawer was.
"I guess that leaves me with the door lock then." Adrien said.
"I don't think you'll be able to figure it out before we get these lists done, Agreste." Alya told him.
"Alright, I'll help you then." Adrien walked and sat down on the ground where the rest of the group was and started to look through the lists.
"I found scissors guys!" Rose told them. "The code was the ID on the box."
"Why would we need scissors?" Nino asked. Rose shrugged.
"Maybe we're doing scrap booking?" She suggested.
"Why would Escape Artist make us do scrap booking?" Alix asked. Rose's cheeks heated up.
"Well, it was just a suggestion."
"Well, well, well. I have to say that I'm proud of you. You have gotten much farther than I would've suspected. Then again, I didn't make this room particularly hard for you. Just hard enough to make you do my dirty work." Escape Artist appeared on screen.
"What do you mean dirty work?" Marinette asked.
"You'll find out soon enough. After all, in order to figure out what the final code is you must first eliminate all names, but two. A boy and a girl." Marinette made a wistful glance at the door.
They were so close yet so far.
"But, you still haven't figured out what to do with the string nor have you unlocked the last key. Plus those lists should take you an incredibly long time." Escape Artist grinned. "It's fun watching you guys ultimately cause your own defeat while you think you're helping." He let out a laugh that sent chills straight down Marinette's spine.
"You only have thirty minutes left!" He sing-songed. "And since I want you to win, I will give you your final clue. The bulletin board is where you will find your final code, but you must find the names first." Her eyes, along with everyone's in the room, snapped to the bulletin board. "Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor! I'll be watching!" He grinned a dark grin, but sure enough the screen didn't turn black.
Marinette gained a sinking feeling in her stomach as she continued to stare at the bulletin board.
The bulletin board that had photos of her and Chat Noir along with characteristics of them.
Only one list contained her name, the biggest list.
Escape Artist said that they were going to give him valuable information to make him win.
The conclusion that she came to was so startling she hoped for her life that she was wrong. However, she was afraid that her Ladybug Luck had finally run out.
"Marinette? You good girl?" Alya asked her. Marinette turned back to her friends, trying hard to keep her panic down.
"Fine. Juleka, I'm guessing your string must be used for this bulletin board." Juleka nodded.
"There's an empty spot here." She pointed as she walked over to Marinette. "And here. The names will go there and then I'll connect them with string." She nodded.
"Work on the lists." She told Juleka.
"You all have come to the same conclusion about what these names will mean, right?" Max asked, voicing the question nobody wanted to know.
"I think so Max." Adrien said in a low voice.
"We can't betray Ladybug and Chat Noir!" Nino said.
"We don't have a choice! Hopefully the Miraculous Cure will take care of everything." Alix gulped.
Just liked that, the panic left Marinette. Her cure! It would wipe the memory of everyone! Tikki had told her so!
"It will." Marinette said, her voice determined.
'Sorry Tikki.' She thought before taking a deep breath.
She had never been more surprised to talk in unison with Adrien. Especially because what she had said were her transformation words.
Time seemed to slow down from there.
Ladybug turned around to see the shell-shocked faces of her classmates and Chat Noir in the same spot Adrien was just in.
Her mouth fell open and she was just about to call to him when:
"What happened?" The voice of Nathaniel, not Escape Artist, filled her ears and she turned to see a white butterfly flying away from him on screen.
Reality crashed down on her heavily and all at once.
Her and Chat Noir had just revealed their identities to each other, nearly their entire class, and Hawkmoth, and it was too late to summon her Miracle Cure.
There was no undoing this.