Part 35: Large hospital room 4
[Music: Riddle and Puzzle]
Okay.  it is.
Santa grimaced, and muttered angrily to himself, but finally began to explain.
If the 6 of us are gonna keep going without leaving anyone behind there're only 3 ways we can do it.
...And that's it. Those are our only options. In other words, 3 & 4 and 7 & 8 can never go through the same doors. You get it now?
As Santa finished, June looked over at Junpei, tears welling up at the corners of her eyes.
Junpei felt just as June did. He wanted to be at her side through whatever trials they were preparing to face. But he knew if they were to survive, he had to swallow his feelings.
In order for the 6 of them to move forward, he and June had to be separated.
He looked at June. He was scared to lose her, but... He swallowed, steeled his resolve, and did his best to smile.
Hey, c'mon, you're making it sound like we're never gonna see each other again.
We gotta split up, but only for a while. This is just like when we went into the  and  doors, remember?
I'll bet  and  are just like that.
You mean they're connected somewhere?
She didn't sound very hopeful.
It was Seven that interjected.
I'm sure they're gonna connect somewhere.
Why...? What makes you think so?
If they don't connect...
In other words, the game would end right here. Zero's been on top of his shit so far. I don't think he'd blow it now. I'm damn sure that son of a bitch wants to have his fun as long as possible.
June said nothing. The tears were gone, but her eyes were still sad as they looked at Junpei.
He met them, and with what reassurance he could manage, laid his hand gently on her shoulder.
June bit her lip and gave him an almost imperceptable nod.
Her voice was barely above a whisper.
Santa's voice shattered the moment.
He stretched and continued.
Anyway, that's pretty much it. Clover and I will both go into separate groups. I figure I'll take , and Clover can take . Any problems with that, Clover?
Clover looked away, and was silent for a moment.
It was more of a dismissal than an agreement, but Santa didn't seem to care.
All right, we're ready to go then. Let's move!
At Santa's command, the group split, and headed for their respective doors.
Santa, Seven, and June walked toward door ...
While Clover, Lotus, and Junpei headed for door .
Are you ready?
Then shall we go?
The door had opened. A narrow hallway stretched out before them.
Lotus and Clover leapt through the door. The moment they did, their bracelets beeped. The detonators in the bracelets had been activated.
Junpei stepped forward to follow them...
But as he was about to step over the threshold, he stopped.
Their eyes met. They nodded.
Their farewell took almost 1.5 seconds.
Then someone took hold of Junpei's arms, and hauled him bodily through the door.
He heard the sound of the numbered door slam shut behind him.
81 seconds left! Hurry!
Lotus snapped at him, and ran to the DEAD.
Junpei and Clover followed her, as fast as they could.
With a shaking hand, she wiped a few beads of sweat from her forehead.
Clover, however, was calm. Aloof, perhaps.
Lotus watched the girl's receeding back with a mix of frustration and curiosity.
What an unpleasant girl.
Her sarcasm seemed a little more biting than was, perhaps, necessary, but she sighed, and started after the younger girl.
After taking a moment to catch his breath, Junpei followed.
For a few minutes, they stood in front of the door, examining it.
A [laboratory], huh...
That doesn't sound very pleasant. I don't like the look of this place.
Me either, but there aren't any other doors. It's not like we have a lot of choices.
Please, you first.
Junpei suspected her politeness was motivated by something other than respect.
Junpei muttered to himself and pushed open the iron door.
His first steps inside were tentative, and careful, but as he examined the room, it became clear that there was no imminent danger.
Lotus followed him in, and Clover brought up the rear.
[Music: Who is Zero?]
A thick glass window built into that wall made it possible to see into the other side of the division.
Junpei walked to the window and looked through...
What the hell...?
He wasn't sure what else to say.
That looks so creepy...
Junpei jumped a little. He hadn't noticed Lotus come up next to him.
You...don't think that thing is going to suddenly...sit up or something, do you?
Well, I don't know.
I mean, look at all those cables sticking out of it. If we press the wrong button, I dunno--
She was gripping her arms, the knuckles on her hands white.
It was then that Junpei noticed Clover...
She was still standing near the entrance of the room. Her face had the appearance of calm, but it was drawn, and somehow sad. There was something almost pitiful about her.
Junpei walked over to her and, as kindly as he could, spoke.
Are you okay?
Clover looked away.
What... I'm just worried about you. You've been real quiet.
What, I can't be quiet if I want to?
Well, I mean, of course you can, I just--
Okay then, if I can be quiet if I want, just leave me alone, okay?
C'mon, you know I can't do that. We gotta work together...
Clover bit her lip, and was silent for a moment, then suddenly--
Her cry took Junpei by surprise, and he stumbled backward a few steps, alarmed.
Something happened to him. Something...something bad...
Junpei had nothing to say. Lotus, jolted from her mannequin nightmares by Clover's voice, turned toward them.
Clover's eyes slid to Lotus, then back to Junpei.
Look, just don't bother me, okay? Leave me alone...
Finished, she turned around.
Before Junpei or Lotus could say anything, Clover had begun to walk quickly away.
Hey! Wait, Clover! Hold on!
He might as well have been talking to a wall, for all the notice she took of his cries.
Not even slowing down, she made for a doorway cut in the wall in front of her.
Wh-What the heck?! What's going on here?!
Clover grabbed hold of the iron bars and shook them as hard as she could.
Hang on! I'll get it open.
Junpei grabbed the bars and pulled. In a moment, Lotus joined him. The 3 of them pulled as hard as they could, but...
Damnit. It's not moving...
Wa-Wait! Are you just gonna give up, just like that!?
If it is, then there's got to be a way to open it.
Just what I was thinking. Now all we gotta do is find it. Lotus and I can look around out here. Clover, you're gonna have to see if you can find anything in there.