Part 38: Saturn
Junpei's heart was pounding in his chest, and his whole body felt weak. He inhaled gulps of clear air, and with each one, he could feel his body begin to calm down.
All right, let's go.
They nodded to each other, and started off down the hallway.
Junpei grabbed the door handle, and was about to pull it open, when--
A voice cried out behind him. It was neither Clover, nor Lotus, but he recognized it...
There was no doubt, the voice belonged to--
He spun around.
There, at the other end of the hall, Junpei saw human figures running toward him.
They stopped short in front of Junpei and his companions, gasping for air.
What...? But...we didn't...
Before he could finish, Clover spoke.
Um, guys, could you come over here?
She was standing near the end of a small hallway that branched off to the right. The rest of them ran over to her, curious as to what she'd found.
There was something on the wall at the end of the hallway...
It said [C Deck] in the upper left corner. Most likely, they assumed, it was a map for the floor they were on.
As you might've guessed, 7 is the blue arrow whereas 8 is the red one.
Yeah, isn't that what I said? 'Till we find that  door, Zero ain't gonna split us up.
Otherwise, we can't open door . That's how the Nonary Game works.
Junpei looked at the map of the ship's interior again. As he looked more closely, his surprise and excitement gave way to weariness.
One by one, the others saw what he'd seen.
As one, they all moved back toward the door Junpei had only a moment ago been ready to open.
He pulled the [map of the ship's interior] off of the wall, put it in his pocket, and followed the others.
The 6 of them stood in front of the door, arrayed in a semi-circle.
Santa stepped forward.
He took hold of the door and spoke, without looking back at the other 5.
They nodded their silent assent.
With a deep breath, Santa threw open the door.
They poured through the doorway, and into the room. Even without looking around, each one of them knew where they were.
[Music: Extreme Extrication]
The 6 of you split into 2 teams, and went through doors  and .
one another in the hallway after opening your respective locked doors.
He looked like anyone might, after only just waking up, but it seemed that his brain was working as well as ever. He had managed to grasp, summarize, and understand each team's report.
At any rate... I feel a bit silly for my little show of altruism. "I'm sure you'll be back for me." I did hope you would come back, but I confess I didn't think you'd be back so soon.
Ace shook his head with a rueful smile.
Well, we saw each other again, and we ain't dead, so I say that's good enough.
Anyway, I say we get outta this creepy old place.
We found the key we need.
We found it in the operating room. Here.
Seven tossed something small and metallic toward Junpei.
He caught it, and found that the object was a key.
I'm gonna let you hold onto that, all right?
Yeah, got it.
Junpei tucked the new key into his pocket.
As a group, they now had 3 keys that had not been used:
Junpei tucked the new keys into his pocket.
June spoke up.
The [Jupiter key] is supposed to be for the door at the end of that long, straight hallway, right?
If the map's right, then it connects to the central staircase. Then next to the stairs--
They were the first words anyone had heard out of Clover in quite some time.
Her face suggested they weren't going to be very happy words.
Look... You saw the map, right? It's the same as  and . It'd just lead us back to the big hospital room. There's no point to seeing what's on the other side of that door.
There wasn't a man alive who could have resisted those eyes.
Seven looked everywhere in the room except at Clover, and muttered and coughed apologies under his breath.
Yeah, you're right, I'm sorry...
Clover nodded once.
The next person to speak was Ace.
Very well. I'll be coming with you, then. I've had a nice, long rest. I think it's time I was up and about again. So, Seven... You'll help me, won't you?
Junpei did the calculations, quickly, in his head.
4 + 1 + 7 = 12 → 1 + 2 = 3
It looked like Seven was doing them too. At last, he gave up.
Damn. Well, I guess that's how it's gotta be... So I'm goin' with you, huh?
Yes, you are.
All right, let's get moving...
And so it was decided that Clover, Ace, and Seven would discover what lay beyond door .
Okay, we're headin' out.
Whoa. Didn't think I'd be hearin' that from you, Lotus.
Don't let it go to your head. I'd be in trouble if the 3 of you bought it.
Aaaah. The truth comes out.
Seven nodded, as if this answer made much more sense, and pulled the lever on the RED.
Okay! Let's go!
The door opened, and Ace, Clover, and Seven jumped through it.
6... 7... 8...
After exactly 9 seconds, the door closed noisily.
Where are we going?
Everyone except Lotus seemed rather confused.
Well, it would be a waste of time to just sit around, wouldn't it? Let me explain...
Yes. If we're lucky, we might find Snake.
They were at the end of the hallway lined by individual hospital rooms.
All right, Junpei. Open it, if you please.
Yeah, on it.
Junpei pulled the [Jupiter key] out of his pocket and slid it into the keyhole.
With a nice, sharp click, he felt the door unlock.
All right. Ready, guys?
Junpei's companions nodded.
He nodded back, then slowly and quietly opened the door.
They were in a tremendous hall, almost like a ballroom, with a massive central staircase.
Great, back to the beginning. You sure this is a good idea?
What do you mean...?
Well, we already searched every inch of this room, didn't we? I'm asking you if there's any reason we came back here.
Well, this is obvious enough. We've been paying attention, unlike Santa apparently, so we can answer this without hesitation!
Of course there's a reason.
Man, sometimes I can't tell if you're smart or just lucky...
Junpei pulled 2 things out of his pockets.
Santa cocked his head to one side, like an inquisitive bird, and looked at them.
After several long moments, during which it became apparent that Santa had no idea what the cards meant, June took pity on him.
Don't you remember, Santa? On C Deck, where we are now, there was a big elevator behind the stairs, remember?
And on A Deck, on the door to the left...
So, the 2 keys that Jumpy has--
Should let us use the elevator and the door on A Deck... Huh.
Yes. That's right.
June smiled, pleased with herself. So did Santa.
All right, I got it. Let's get started, then. Wadda you say we split into 2 teams?
Junpei handed the [Earth key] to Santa.
They decided that their initial search should be brief--only 10 minutes. They'd meet back near the staircase once they were done.
[Music: Quinary Game]
He lined up the [Saturn key card] and swiped it through the reader. A light on the upper left corner blinked to life.
All right, now how do I call the elevator...
There was a single button to the right of the elevator door. On the button was the upside-down triangle--the universal symbol for "down".
There didn't appear to be an "up" button.
Junpei pushed it. He didn't have much of a choice.
It...It opened! Look, Jumpy!
June's voice was excited, but Junpei could hear a tinge of anxiety.
Sweet, it opened. Let's get going.
He grinned at June, and stepped toward the open door.
As he was about to set foot in it, he felt a hand on his arm.
I-I-I-I'm not really...uh... I just... Oh gosh...
Junpei was at something of a loss. What could she possibly be so frightened of?
This choice... this choice lets you get the same scene either way but with a catch: one of these options just skips half the scene immediately.
...We definitely want to see that half, because its quite well known. And for good reason!
[Video: The Elevator]
Still, even though it wasn't exactly roomy in the elevator, they weren't going to be pressed up against one another. At least, they didn't have to be--
Still, it was making her nervous. Junpei couldn't help but think how innocent she was.
C'mon, let's go.
Again, he stepped toward the elevator--
And again, he felt himself restrained.
I said wait a minute!
Aren't you afraid, Jumpy?
Afraid of what?!
Well, I've never...you know...
She'd never been in an elevator with a man alone before? Even so, she still seemed awfully alarmed...
Down there... I'd get soaking wet...
W-Well, I mean, of course you would, that's the way it works.
I mean, I've never heard of anyone getting soaking wet...somewhere...else...
W-Well, I dunno, I think I'd probably... You know...like it.
Gosh, Jumpy! You're so brave!
...Really? I mean, I kinda think any guy would do the same thing, you know?
That's what a man's supposed to do, I guess.
Y-You're so cool, Jumpy! I really admire you!
Uh, that...doesn't really seem like the sort of thing you oughta admire someone for...
I'm...I'm really scared...
Y-Yeah... I mean, like you said, you've never...done it...before...
It feels kind of like you're floating in space, and your mind gets all fuzzy, like when you pass out... At least, that's what I've heard from people who have experienced it...
A-Ah, yes, I've heard that too.
Although I don't think the same thing happens to guys.
But, it would happen to men too, wouldn't it? It would happen to anyone.
Yes, it does. Well, eventually it will. It's not like you
Wh-What are you trying to do to me...?
Nothing... I'm not going to do anything to you. I'm just saying that that's what happens.
June seemed to be entirely oblivious to Junpei's mounting confusion and terror.
I know most men probably have larger lungs, but even then, I don't think you could hold your breath for 20, or even 10, minutes.
Once that happens, your body won't be able to get oxygen anymore, and you'll start to feel that floaty feeling as you pass out...
Yeah, you're right, you wouldn't last very long.
She was afraid that the only elevator button pointed down.
That meant, of course, that the elevator couldn't go any higher than the floor they were on.
As he thought about it, Junpei realized he hadn't seen elevators on the A or B decks near the central staircase.
All of which meant that the elevator could only convey them to the lower decks.
Hey, wait a minute.
Um, well... Yes, I guess it did. It didn't open right away, after you pressed the button. There was a motor noise, like it was moving, and then it opened.
So take a look inside.
Junpei jerked his head toward the interior of the elevator.
Oh... You're right, they are...
She looked around the elevator, slightly embarrassed.
Well, let's test it.
Yeah. Watch this.
Junpei put one foot in the elevator and bent around the corner of the door until he could see the floor buttons.
There were only 2: E and C.
He pushed the E button and jumped out of the elevator.
The door slid shut, and they heard the grinding of the motor as the elevator car moved down.
A few moments later, they heard the sound of the elevator door grinding open several floors below.
Junpei nodded to June, and pressed the elevator button again. A few moments later, the elevator returned.
Junpei couldn't resist puffing out his chest, just a little bit.
June, however, still looked confused.
What does that mean? How can the E Deck be safe if the D Deck is full of water?
Well, here's what I think...
The elevator shaft and E Deck must be water-tight, and separated from wherever the ship's been punctured. Here, let me show you...
He pulled out his notebook and pen, and sketched out a rough illustration.
I see... So is that why the ship hasn't sunk? The shape of the inside keeps it from all filling with water?
Yeah, I think that's what's going on.
Junpei continued talking as he closed the notebook and slipped it back into his pocket.
C'mon, just do it, all right?
He gave June's shoulder a reassuring squeeze, then hopped onto the elevator.
He pushed the E button, and the door began to close...
June looked worried, her eyes darting back and forth as if she was trying to make a decision, when suddenly--
At the last possible moment, June dashed forward, turning sideways just in time to slip through the gap between the closing doors.
Junpei jammed his finger against the "Open" button--
But it was too late. The door had shut, he and June were in the elevator, and it was headed down, to E Deck.
He was so surprised by June that he didn't even have time to think about what awaited him on the E Deck.
The elevator stopped, and the door slid open.
Oh, knock it off. It's just like I thought... This part hasn't flooded.
Come on, just look around! There's no water here!
June looked around nervously, then...
You're right... It's not flooded at all.
But there's a whole lot of water...
Yeah, right on top of us.
This is kind of a reasonable question, but I think if it could happen it probably would've done by now.
Junpei thought about that for a moment.
Well... We'd probably get really wet...up there.
At any rate, we should probably go back as soon as we can, once we're done looking around down here. Lotus and Santa might already be back.
Okay. Good idea.
Junpei glanced around the room they'd found themselves in.
The first thing he noticed was a set of thick iron bars.
They ran the length of the room, separating the left elevator from the right one.
Well, we can't go over there.
In the corner of the room that housed the elevators, Junpei found an opening. He walked up to it and stuck his head around the corner.
A long, straight hallway stretched out in front of him.
That door at the end of the hallway... There's something written on it.
Yeah. Let's go have a look.
Junpei and June set off down the hallway at a brisk clip, somewhere between a run and a jog.
I knew it...
This is a numbered door!
And indeed, there was a RED bolted to the wall right next to the door.
Darn it, Clover. Why'd you have to go through Door 3?
All right, let's head back.
Junpei and June turned, and headed back to C Deck.
[Music: Extreme Extrication]
They'd met back up with Santa and Lotus, who had explained what they'd found.
Apparently, there was another numbered door on A Deck, just like the one on E Deck, beyond the door that the Earth key opened.
According to Santa and Lotus, there was a  on the door.
All told, they had discovered 2 new doors: The  door and the  door.
It is interesting that E Deck wasn't flooded...
Lotus was quiet for a moment, lost in thought.
Well, we don't really know if all of E Deck is safe.
Even so. It's still very interesting...
You said the  door was there, right?
That would have meant some pretty serious remodeling of the ship's interior.
It's pretty mindblowing, when you think about it.
Yeah. I wonder how long it took... I can't even imagine how much it must've cost...
It would've been a ton, that's for sure.
Well, that does go along with what Ace was saying. The most reasonable explanation would be
Yes, it does make sense...
That thought made them all go quiet for a moment.
June bit her lip while Lotus sighed softly to herself and Santa cracked a stiff neck and stared off into the distance at nothing.
Um... I don't think it's a very good idea to stay here.
June looked up at Junpei with large, pleading eyes.
Yeah, you're right. Ace and his team might be back already.
Huh? You guys leaving me behind?
8 + 6 + 5 = 19 → 1 + 9 = 10 → 1 + 0 = 1
Just kidding. All right. Let's go.
Lotus's words were all the impetus they needed. Back to the large hospital room they went.
The moment they stepped inside, a tremendous voice echoed across the room.
It was Seven. Ace was right behind him, and Clover was behind Ace, although she seemed to be hanging back. It looked as though there was something...strange about them.
Seven had the look of a man who'd seen a ghost. Ace was just as pale, and Clover looked as though she was only moments from passing out entirely.
For a long moment, they simply stood there, looking at one another.
Junpei looked around nervously, waiting for someone else to speak. No one did. He looked at Seven.
Seven was trying very hard to be angry, but something had shaken him, hard. His shoulders were trembling, and his voice was strained.
Seven couldn't finish. He just looked away, his face twisted by... Junpei wasn't sure what.
Instead, Ace spoke.
He took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and spoke.
He died...just as the 9th Man did.
It was as if all the air had suddenly been sucked out of the room. Junpei felt his heartbeat quicken, and he realized he was having trouble breathing.
Oh my God... That's not true, is it...?
We should make sure!
Y-Yeah, right, we should...
They nodded to one another, and headed for the number  door--
I stuck a screwdriver in there, to keep the door from closing all the way.
It's not locked, so you can go in that way.
Where is...where is he?
I put a broom in there too, to keep the door open.
We can get in without going through the numbered door, right?
Yeah, that's right.
Their new destination clear, Junpei and his companions headed for the [door with no number].
Once in the hallway, it was easy to spot the metal door on the left wall. It hadn't been open when they'd been through before...
But now, just as Seven had said, there was a broom stuck between the door and the frame, keeping it open.
They looked at it for a moment, then stepped inside.
Even Santa pinched his nose shut...
Yeah, this is pretty awful... I feel like I'm gonna puke.
He put his hands over his mouth, and struggled to keep what little was in his stomach where it belonged.
June, you should stay here.
Please, just do me a favor, okay? All right?
He didn't give her a chance to say no. He put his hand on her shoulder, as if to shove her into the ground like a tentpole, turned, and walked toward the end of the divider.
It felt like it took an eternity for him to get there. Santa and Lotus followed, timid and nervous as a pair of children.
Eventually, they reached the divider. They looked at one another and nodded, slowly.
Junpei put his hands on the divider and peered around the corner.
He knew in that instant that he would take the image before him to the grave.
Smaller chunks of meat had splattered against the wall, and become stuck there as they dried. Globules of yellowish fat had left trails like tiny slugs as gravity pulled them down the wall, even as they dried to it.
Just like Ace said...
Santa's voice was strained. Junpei suspected he was holding down some vomit of his own.
Just like the 9th Man. The detonator in his bracelet set off the bomb in his gut.
His bracelet lay next to him. It seemed to have hit the wall hard enough to have shattered the display, which lay on the ground in pieces.
His clothes, too, were covered in blood. The burgundy tie, the white shirt, the jacket with the yellow piping, and the gray slacks...
They were all familiar to Junpei.
June concept art #2.