Part 18: Hallway 4
[Sound Bite: "Metal"]
They turned around. Seven was doing something to the door of the shower room.
What're you doing, Seven?
Well, I figure maybe we might wanna come back here sometime.
With that, he stood up and began walking down the hallway. He brushed past Junpei and kept going.
After a moment, the rest of them followed him.
Before long, they found themselves at the large iron door. They had only been there for a moment when June spoke up.
He turned. There, on the right side of the hallway, was a piece of paper attached to the wall.
Junpei ran over and peeled it off.
There would be time to look at it later. Junpei folded the map and stuffed it into his pocket.
Back at the door, the 4 of them lined up in front of it.
Santa stepped forward. He grabbed hold of the door, and then turned to look back at the rest of them.
Ready...? I'm gonna open it.
They nodded. Santa nodded back, and threw the door open.
All 4 of them leapt through.
It took only a moment for them to realize where they were. They had been there only a short time ago...
Lotus and Clover looked up as they entered.
Ace was there as well, although he looked as though he had only just woken up.
[Sound Bite: Karma]
And slapped him, open-palmed, across the face.
It was Seven who stopped them.
Knock it off! We've got bigger shit to worry about right now!
His deep voice echoed across the massive room. Lotus glared at Seven, but let Junpei go after one last, vicious shake.
Go have a look.
I stuck the screwdriver in the door. That door over there. The one without a number. So long as the screwdriver's there, it can't shut, so you can get in there.
Seven also explained how they might find the shower room and how he'd used the broom to ensure that door remained open as well.
Then you're saying we can go in there without passing through the numbered door?
Yeah, that's about the size of it.
What the hell is in there?
Lotus and Clover looked at one another for a moment, then nodded and stepped through the door.
By then, Ace had made his way to them, moving with the stiff, shuffling steps of someone who has only just awoken from a lengthy slumber.
I know I said I was sure you'd come back for me... I didn't think it would happen so soon, though.
Ace shook his head weakly.
Should I go as well?
Ace followed Lotus and Clover, with his stiff, tired gait.
The squeal of tortured metal made Junpei's teeth curl. It sounded like the noise a ghost would make.
No matter how many times he heard it, he never got used to it. Every time, it put him on edge.
Aside from the rise and fall of her chest, she didn't move. Junpei felt as if even a nudge might cause her to shatter into a thousand pieces.
Snake was probably murdered. Chances are he was killed the same way the 9th Man was.
Seven lowered his voice, likely in an effort to keep Clover from hearing what he had to say.
There were 4 other people in the room with Junpei and Seven.
Ace, Santa, June, and Lotus.
Seven looked at each one of them in turn, and continued.
It's pretty straightforward. Not that hard to figure out how they did it.
[Music: Digital Root]
Then they shoved him into it, alone...
...And waited 9 seconds for the door to shut.
He probably knew it wouldn't do him any good, but he probably ran into the shower room looking for the DEAD.
It was a small chance, but it wasn't like he had anything to lose.
The detonator's only deactivated if everybody who authenticated when they went in uses the DEAD.
And then 81 seconds after he was shoved in...
I see. So that's what you meant by killers, huh. You need at least 3 people to open one of the numbered doors, including Snake. It wouldn't open for Snake and a single killer.
Junpei crossed his arms and grunted.
Well, just in case, I wanna make sure. Let's say you're right... When do you think Snake was killed?
Right after that was when we noticed he was gone.
Then that means none of us have alibis. We were all off searching the rooms we'd been assigned, looking for those parts.
W-Wait a minute! What are you talking about?!
June seemed shocked.
How can you say one of us is a killer so casually?!
Why don't you calm down a bit, Seven. What are you going to gain by being so suspicious? That's what Zero wants, you know.
Exactly. This game was set up by Zero, wasn't it? Any game has a winner and loser.
Zero is trying to make us fight against one another for that victory.
Then you're saying that Zero is trying to split us up by making us fight each other?
Yes. That is why we can't let ourselves fall prey to suspicion.
Otherwise, we'll end up ensnared by Zero's manipulations.
Then, does that mean that the person who killed Snake...
If there's anyone we should doubt, it should be Zero. He masterminded this game, and kidnapped all of us. Doesn't it seem reasonable that he would have killed Snake as well?
Junpei hadn't really considered that.
If Zero had killed Snake, then Zero was on the ship with them.
Everything is automated, so I think it's more likely than not that Zero is - in fact - quite a large distance away from the whole thing. There's no need for him to be here to worry about the actual running of the thing, after all. Plus, this helps keeps Zero separate from it all, and gives whoever he really is some degree of plausible deniability too.
He wasn't sure.
Hey, I'm just wondering about one thing...
And what's that?
How can you be so sure that Zero's on this ship?
Ace's eyebrows shot up.
Isn't it obvious?
Obvious? How so?
Zero said "this ship" several times when he addressed us.
If he weren't here, he wouldn't say "this ship", would he? He'd be saying something like "that ship" or "the ship".
Oh... Yeah, I guess that makes sense.
Ace's explanation made perfect sense. Junpei felt a little foolish that he hadn't seen it himself.
Still, he was left with a question, and it was one of no small importance.
If Zero's on the ship...where is he?
Suddenly, everyone went very quiet. The silence was cold and clammy, and Junpei could feel it crawling across his back and around his throat.
Again, he heard the ghosting moaning noise. And moments later, a person who looked more ghost than human appeared.
It was Clover.
She looked at the floor as she spoke, and her voice was a cold monotone.
I think... I think Zero is...
Clover's official artwork.