Until the next call:
"So, I'm given time to think things through? Very well."
"This Megane-kun sure surprised me. How could he be unable to make such a simple choice? Aren't this choice basically the same one we already did here? What is there to hesitate? Now I'm sure - he isn't a winner. "
Alex efficiently used the short time he was given by making though somehow hasty, still entirely rational conclusions based on the limited information he had.
"In the first place, if he really was the winner, he wouldn't need to talk with anyone at all. As it was rather evident that Crybaby and I completely ignored the button. It would be a breeze for him to guess our choices and preserve his memories alongside with the highest amount of points possible. So yeah, he just couldn't be the one who pressed the button first. "
As his thoughts reached this far, he thought about the details of the conversation they had just now.
"Someone said something interesting, hm? Me, Megane-kun, Crybaby and Bull were the ones who talked the most. It is unlikely to be one of us, considering the context. Two others were... that Nameless boy and Shrill woman..."
After thinking about everything they said, he achieved a conclusion.
"Nameless boy said some useless nonsense. Even if Crybaby is really this Ellie person, it doesn't change much and not related to our situation. But that Shrill woman... Maybe I actually misunderstood the true meaning behind her words and everyone's reaction? It could be the case... very likely. And it would explain why Megane-kun wanted to contact her so much. "
Though this conclusion was still incomplete, Alexey felt that he is close to solving the puzzle.
"Hello? Mister Alex? Can you hear me? Um, I'm right here and talking to you! "
It seems his one minute already passed as one impatient girl pouted at him through the holographic image.
" I wanted to talk to you! And waited for the whole six minutes as well! And now you are ignoring me... I thought that you are a really nice person, but it seems I was wrong... "
She was almost on the verge of tears when Alex reacted...
"Oh, sorry, I was really deep in thoughts and never tried to ignore you, honestly! Anyway, don't cry, miss Crybaby. Everything is alright. "
She watched at him, a little bit shocked.
"Who is this "miss Crybaby"? Is it another case of mistaken identity? "
"Believe me, you would be much more convincing without tearing eyes. If you don't want me to call you Crybaby, then maybe you should tell me your name? I already introduced myself before. "
"Oh! S-sorry! I was just too embarrassed back then, so I forgot to introduce myself! My name is Beth Petit. Nice to meet you! "
Alex thought that her second name sure was fitting. Somehow, she reminded him about Jane. Even though this girl and his "little sister" looked nothing alike (rather, the opposite), but the way they talked was almost the same.
"Nice to meet you, Beth. Did you calm down more or less? At first, when I have seen you crying in the corner of the hall, you seemed to be really stressed by that whole situation. "
He asked, a little bit concerned.
"Yes, I'm fine now! When asked whom I choose to call, I picked you so I could say my thanks for being the only one who actually helped me to gain some confidence. I really like you a lot. You remind me about my older brother, hehe. "
"Do you have an older brother, Beth? "
"Yeah, he is a really fantastic person! If he was here, he would be able to calm everyone down in no time at all! He is strong, reliable, kind, and also smart! "
"Haha, it seems you really like that brother of yours. "
"Of course! But be at ease, I'm sure that one day you would be no less amazing than he is! "
"Actually, you remind me about my younger sister as well. Though she isn't really a sister, just a cousin. She also seemed to be a little bit older than you. "
"Oh, we have so much in common, Alex! What you think about your sister? "
"She is cute, like a small animal. She is rather talkative and lively. She is also somehow annoying..."
"Eh? Aren't it means that you consider me annoying as well? "
"Well... maybe just a little bit... "
"Eh? Eh? Alex, you meany! How can you say it to a girl? "
Her fakely "hurt" expression made her even more adorable. It seems that instead of being ready to cry like usual, she actually tried to tease him a bit.
"Haha, sorry, sorry. You aren't annoying at all. And even if you are - doesn't it make you even more lovable? "
Her face turned somehow red, it seems she was easy to get shy when people complimented her.
"C-could it be that you are hitting on me, mister? "
She asked bashfully.
"Hah? No way, no way. I have a rather peculiar taste in women, and you aren't my type. I just adore you like I adore my little sister, so be rest assured as I would never hold any interest in you as a member of the opposite sex. "
It seems the level of his denseness was rather shocking...
"Y-you! Everything between us over! You aren't anything like my big bro! Hm, don't talk to me anymore. "
Alexey was genuinely dumbfounded.
"Eh? Have I said something wrong? "
The fact that he sincerely can't understand what he did wrong make it all the more pitiable. Perhaps, he is one of those people who are destined to die virgins. Well, of course, unless Truck-kun actually does his work properly and makes him the lustful Hero of the Elven Kingdom.
"Em... Beth? I don't know what is wrong, but I'm really sorry. I just expressed my feelings honestly without any thought of offending you. Can you forgive me? Let's be friends, alright? "
She disappeared from the hologram and, instead, only her small white room was seen inside. It seems you can avoid the "invisible camera" by crawling on the floor... What a useless piece of knowledge. And so, she ignored him, hidden from the sight, right until the call time ended.
It seems that no one has had three or more conversations, so immediately after that, the voting time started.
Time to vote.
"What the actual hell? What is wrong with that girl? Could it be she fell in love with me from the first sight and so was disappointed that she wasn't my type? It is the only explanation, but it doesn't make much sense. Though I'm a handsome (not really) and dashing young man, so it really can be the case... Still, isn't it is way too fast and sudden? It seems I underestimated my own charm... "
Does he really have the time thinking of this nonsense when he should vote instead? Each second should be used to think of the right choice! Well, actually, - it doesn't really matter to him, as he was able to think things through a bit while being ignored by Beth.
"When I mentioned the Red Button of Betrayal, everyone other than Megane-kun and Beth reacted. It means that for them, that button did hold a different meaning and name. After that, Shrill woman said that her button was that of Salvation. I assumed that it was the case for everyone who pressed it, but it can't be right. "
"Obviously, for the person who actually won by pressing first, the button should hold a different meaning than for others. So, it indicates that we have three different names for the red button. "
"It is possible that I interpreted everyone's cold gazes at that woman wrongly. Maybe they looked at her like this not because the name of their button was the same, but because it was diametrically opposite? For example, the Red Button of Damnation. It would make perfect sense to hate her then. It is also consistent with the meaning behind the names and what they imply. "
"And so, every mystery is explained, and everything made clear... "
"As another Asian guy in glasses once said - I can see it... I can see the Ending! I don't know how tasty those 8000 of Tutorial Points are, but they are already mine. "
And so, he voted. Rationally.
And so, he failed. Miserably.