Part 63: The Nonary Game
[Music: Who is Zero?]
and the game started.
Junpei grabbed the sides of his head.
Look, I'm sorry, but I don't get it...
What do the Nonary Game and some telepathy experiment have to do with each other?
Clover bit her lip.
She blinked back sudden tears. What had happened to her in Nevada...?
The ability to access a morphogenetic field is affected by a couple of things...
You know how sometimes when you're up against a really tough problem... And then the answer just kind of pops into your head? That's an "epiphany". And what you learn from the epiphany can be transmitted with telepathy. When you add danger to that equation,
So you're saying the Nonary Game was supposed to introduce that element of danger.
Yeah, but... It couldn't be just any old danger... It had to be life and death. And... And...
She was on the boat, with my brother...
I did hear her name...
Her name was... Um...
The sound of the door opening was like a gunshot.
Junpei spun around.
You 2 must have strong stomachs. I can't imagine how you could stay in this room for so long...
Ace glanced down at the floor...
At the corpse, covered in blood...
I'm having a little trouble, and I could really use your assistance.
Come on, it'll only take a moment.
With that, he turned and walked back toward the communications office.
Clover waited until he was out of sight, then spoke in a small, quiet voice.
Huh? Hey, wait!
Clover ignored him.
From outside, Junpei could hear Ace calling.
Junpei! What are you doing in there? Hurry up!
Grumbling to himself, Junpei stomped off toward the communications office.
And with that, we're kicked out of the captain's quarters and get to hang out with Ace. If we really want to. We can just leave and go back in the other room, but I picked up the music box first so there's nothing else to do in there until we get the key.
Speaking of the key, we'll grab the screwdrivers, ink and paper, make our morse code message and transmit that "35=Z" to the drawer. Now, we can grab the ALL-ICE book again.
[Music: Senary Game]
Junpei reached down and picked it up.
The cover read...
Junpei couldn't hold back. He had to know what was in that file...
What the hell is this...
He didn't realize he'd spoken out loud until Ace looked over at him.
They are hieroglyphs. A form of writing used in ancient Egypt.
Can you read them?
What the hell...
Junpei flipped through a few more pages. It wasn't just 1 or 2 pages that were covered in the strange symbols...
Every single page was covered in them.
Trying to read them was pointless.
Junpei wasn't going to waste any more time with them. He made to close the file--
And something fell out.
He bent down and picked it up.
There was a symbol on it that reminded Junpei of the symbols for the Saturn and Mercury key cards.
This one, however, had a dot in the center of the male symbol...
Junpei looked over to see Ace examining the card.
In addition to the Uranus symbol, there were 3 words engraved on the card as well.
On the lower right, it said "BOTTOM DECK LIBRARY".
So it would seem.
The bottom deck... The library...
Junpei remembered something he'd heard from Seven when they'd been in the chemical closet...
"beneath the navel of the Gigantic."
There was no reason for Junpei to hide his thoughts. He began to explain his theory to Ace.
Then he stopped. It wouldn't make any sense if Ace didn't know who Alice was supposed to be. So he told Ace everything June had told him.
[Music: Digital Root]
He told him about how she had been called "All-ice", which had eventually turned to "Alice"... And how she had been purchased by an English millionaire who called himself "Lord Gordain"...
And you think that he hid her in a small room beyond the library on the bottom deck?
Yeah. Well, I mean, I guess so.
Ace stared off into the distance, his hand slowly and absent-mindedly stroking his beard.
After a few moments, his hand stopped.
He turned slowly to look at Junpei, and his brows drew together.
As you might expect by now, this thing does indeed exist.
It is an advanced technology for freezing and preserving organic matter. Put simply, it is a technique that allows one to freeze things without the formation of ice crystals. Normally, if you freeze something fresh, water within its cells expands as it crystallizes, damaging the cell membrane. CAS, however, works differently.
and then frozen instantly and uniformly, giving ice crystals no time to form. It was originally developed for the preservation of food, as an alternative to the normal freezing process.
Ace's explanation is more-or-less accurate, to the best of my knowledge, with a few alterations for the game's world. The real equivalent is that CAS is just the name for a fancy commercial freezer made by a company called ABI from Chiba (the city). It does use magnetic fields to supercool and better preserve food, but it's definitely not something you'd see in most kitchens.
...And not just because the thing is kinda huge and wouldn't fit.
Now, however, there are rumors that it can be used for...other things.
What do you mean, "other things"?
Space travel? Are you serious?
Surely you've heard of suspended animation? Cryogenic freezing? It's a fairly common idea in science-fiction books and films. People are sometimes "frozen" for especially lengthy journeys through space.
That was when Junpei understood what Ace was suggesting.
Whoa whoa whoa... Wait a minute there!
Ace looked at him and raised an eyebrow.
Well, I'm sure the possibility is quite low, but it is a possibility. If this special ice you call "ice-9" does indeed exist and if CAS were used to freeze her into that sort of ice instantaneously...
Well, I can't say for sure, of course. I'm only talking about possibilities. The melting point for ice-9 is 96 degrees, right? If she were put somewhere where she could reach that temperature...
Are you really saying she could have defrosted and started walking about?!
You're quite right, it does sound unbelievable. But if she had, then we would have an
You mean the guy dressed like a captain?
But if he was murdered, then by who?
In order to enter the captain's quarters, one must first open door . That door that requires the Earth key prevented us from accessing door .
Who was it that opened that door?
Right. Clearly, the 2 of them could not have opened door , or any other door for that matter. Who else, then, could have done so?
Junpei thought for a second.
When Junpei and his team had gone into the shower room, Ace, Seven, and Clover had been left in the large hospital room, but they would have been unable to open door .
Perhaps when Junpei and June had taken the elevator to door , then?
No, that would have been impossible. They had been gone only 5 minutes--no human being could have run to the captain's quarters, killed the man in there, and run back in 5 minutes.
That being the case, who could have killed him? Wouldn't it make sense if his killer was someone who had been in the ship for some time?
A person like that would know the ship well.
The numbered doors would mean nothing to someone like that. It would be a simple thing for them to enter the captain's quarters.
It was Junpei's turn to raise an eyebrow.
Ace drew his thumb across his lips thoughtfully.
Was Alice indeed somewhere on the ship with them?
Whatever might be there, however, would have to wait. At the moment, there was nothing Junpei could do.
He gripped the key card tighter, and shoved it deep into his pocket.
With that though, the scene ends and we can leave the room...
Ace concept art #2. Hey, uh, Ace? You, uh, you're looking a bit evil there. Might wanna get that checked.