Part 70: Study 2
[Music: Nonary Game]
Hahahahahahaha... Oh man, there's nobody in there...
What do you mean "nobody"...? Were you expecting someone to be in there?
Eh, it's a long story. Ask Junpei about it sometime.
(Well, just like Seven said, there's nobody in there.)
(Well, 2 somethings, actually.)
What is that...?
Yes! We finally found it! Now we can get through the hallway!
That's correct, Clover, but we do need to get out of this room first, you know?
Yeah, yeah... I know...
I don't have any objections to that.
(I don't think we'll use the [Neptune key] in this room. It's really important, though, so I'll keep it in my pocket for now. As far as this other thing goes...)
The waffle pattern looks just like the lid of the coffin...
Well, we've now been everywhere in this room so there's just one thing left to do. Use these emblems of course.
To do that, we need to head on over to here and check out the computers on the desk.
Though, we're here and there's certainly a bit more to this screen than needing to place a couple of emblems.
It's so small... I wonder what it is.
I got no idea.
(Some kind of little machine.)
Actually, let's just get this over with. Let's place these emblems and get outta here.
Huh? Nothing's happening.
(...Wait, what's Snake doing...?)
I feel symbols engraved just above each indentation...
On the upper right, the cross symbol. On the bottom left, the mysterious circle symbol. And lastly, the waffle pattern is engraved near the bottom right indentation. Additionally, each symbol seems to have been given a number.
Perhaps we need to insert the emblems in this order?
That order, huh...
(Whoa! Well, now we've got something on the monitors, at least.)
Looks like...some kinda puzzle...
I wonder if these are the rules. Here, I'll read them to you! "When you touch a numbered area, that area will be selected, and it will turn blue to indicate this. Touching a numbered ball after selecting an area will cause that ball to be moved to that area. However, you cannot move the red balls."
"Press the "Check" button once you have moved all of the balls (except for the red ones, which you cannot move)."
Uh... I still don't really get it.
Let's give it a shot!
Don't you mean "practice makes perfect"?
Well, I think I'll pass on this for now. There's still something else left to do while I remember. This isn't gonna go anywhere either.
It's this mouse. Might as well use it, huh.
I knew that was coming...
This seems to be the sort of room where someone conducted experiments and
I think that's the worst joke I've ever heard!
I think Junpei is just a bit annoyed he didn't come up with it first.
Oh, and I almost forgot something about this little monitor to the side. Almost.
I messed around with it a bit, but I couldn't get it to do anything.
Maybe you'd have better luck if you got to know it first, Junpei....
Okay, but seriously let's just solve that puzzle already.
A lot of people have a dumb theory about this puzzle and how it's meant to represent who went through what doors and with who.That's clearly impossible for a few obvious reasons that will get more and more apparent over time.
It sort of works if you assume the unusable numbers are from when people dropped out (the 9th Man was gone before we entered any room, for example) but that falls apart pretty quickly too.
But... Nothing's happening...
There are still 3 more indentations left empty. I imagine something will happen when they are all filled. Doesn't that seem likely?
Hey, Junpei, somethin' just showed up on the screen.
This puzzle sure looks a lot like the last one.
The numbers for each area are different too.
It looks like it's got the same rules as the last one, though. You sure you don't wanna double-check that?
No, I'll be fine. If I get confused, I can just look at the screen over there, right?
Let's give it a shot!
Isn't that..."A picture is worth 1000 words"?
Yeah, so now we can't use
There's only 2 left now! You can do it!
Damn, this puzzle looks a lot like the last one. Looks like the rules are the same, though.
Don't you think you should double-check it?
C'mon, this is the 3rd time I've done this. It'll be fine.
If you can't think of anything clever,
Arg! Shut up! Just gimme a break, all right?! I'll think of something!
And just in case the terrible and unfounded theory hadn't shot itself in the foot enough, now we have to split 6 balls into two sets of 7. Making a total of three 7 areas that needed to be filled.
This is also where the "unavailable balls are when people dropped out" stops being potentially accurate too, since Santa was available during the 3rd door choice. And so was Ace for that matter, but red balls stay red here so that makes sense I guess.
You've only got one left... I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!
This is the 4th one. This puzzle looks a lot like that last couple...
I think this is probably the last one.
Once we solve this puzzle, I'm sure something will happen.
All right! I'll solve it in no time!
Hey, uh, I think this one might be kinda impossible. Each section needs at least 3 balls in it and we only have 5 left. Maybe there's a thing we're missing that lets us make one of the red ones available again?
Hey, Junpei, I just thought of something. You know the rules on the screen?
So, if you think about it...
Yeah... yeah! I get it!
The solution here does make sense when you realise that 0 and 9 are identical when it comes to a digital root. It's also kinda shady since it implies that just putting 1 or 2 balls in an area should also work (the rules say you can "move 3 to 5 balls into a single area" not that it has to contain 3 to 5 balls, which is Clover's logic for this one).
...Naturally, they don't. One solution, and one solution only. You got one that's functionally the same but not what we had in mind? Sorry, doesn't count!
(Underneath the keyboard...?)
Way to go, Junpei! You answered all the questions!
Damn, Junpei! Good job!
Hey, did you hear something just now?
Yes, I heard that as well.
Awesome. Let's give it a look, shall we?
The drawer's definitely open now. I don't see how this is gonna help us get out, though.
In the drawer was a single picture.
He picked it up.
It was a photograph of 4 men.
On the right was a man with a moustache.
The same man they'd found, murdered, in the captain's quarters.
He'd been wearing the (0) bracelet when they found him.
He had gone into door  alone and met an unpleasant end.
[Music: Digital Root]
Yeah, I guess it is...
No doubt about it.
Seven and Clover had come to peer over Junpei's shoulders.
But why? How?
What was the relationship between these 4 men...
Snake's voice broke into Junpei's thoughts.
Yeah. It doesn't look like it was taken recently, though.
Ah, so the 9th Man and the man you found murdered in the captain's quarter are also on the picture?
Is there anyone else? Or are there only 3 people in the picture? I'm afraid I can't see it.
No, there's 1 more guy.
He's the only one I don't recognize...
Snake knit his eyebrows.
What's the date of the photograph?
Did you look on the back?
Yes. The reverse. The other side.
Junpei flipped the picture over.
There it was.
To be precise, it wasn't a date, but it was certainly significant.
He read it out loud, so that Snake would not be left in the dark.
"with Nijisaki, Kubota, and Musashidou..."
Nonary Project... Nijisaki... Kubota... Musashidou...
Junpei immediately flipped the picture back over.
Why, then? Why wasn't he surprised?
Junpei had just discovered that Ace had run the Nonary Project, but... He felt no spark of excitement, or surprise. Nothing.
It was almost as if he'd already known...
Ah... Of course. I understand now.
Junpei looked over at Snake. In his own confusion, he had missed the dark look on the other man's face.
Ace was the CEO of Cradle Pharmaceutical...
Even as he asked, Junpei felt as though he'd already known.
It was as if someone had whispered into his head that, yes, of course Ace was Hongou.
I had my suspicions from the beginning. Their voices were familiar... Too familiar to be a coincidence.
I couldn't be sure, though. After all, I had no way to check. I certainly couldn't ask him.
Zero made it quite clear what would have happened if I did.
Oh my gosh, I had no idea!
Oh, yes, I suppose you wouldn't have.
But Hongou was in the Gigantic with us.
I know. That's why I didn't know what Hongou looked like.
I mean, I'm your sister, right? You coulda told me...
I'm sorry. I apologize for keeping this from you.
And if you did, then I would have been forced to tell them about what happened 9 years ago.
He was trying to organize his thoughts when he heard Seven's voice.
He had no reason to say no, so Junpei handed the picture over.
Seven stared at the picture, and began to mutter the 4 names of the project's leaders over and over to himself.
His brow was furrowed and his face was flushed.
Hongou... Kubota... Nijisaki... Musashidou...
He chanted their names to himself, pacing back and forth across the floor.
Hongou... Kubota... Nijisaki... Musashidou...
Maybe he heard them when Junpei read the off the back of the photo. I mean, the room's pretty tiny and there's not many places anyone could stand in here...
Hey, Seven... Do you--
His eyes were red, and Junpei could see sweat beginning to bead on his forehead.
He was sweating heavily now, but his lips were dry.
Hongou... Kubota... Nijisaki... Musashidou... Cradle Pharmaceutical... Nonary Project...
Then he stopped.
Seven set down the picture and looked at the red light near his feet. His eyes narrowed.
Then suddenly his eyes went wide, and he shot up straight.
Um... What's nuts?
My memory's back!
Seven's voice was filled with excitement.
Shock and excitement had frozen Junpei in place, along with Snake and Clover.
Lemme tell you what happened.
Seven hastily drew a shaking hand across his mouth, and began to speak.
Like Snake said, Ace is Hongou.
Musashidou was the man with the cash. Nijisaki was Hongou's right hand man, and Kubota developed the actual technical details of the experiments.
Realization began to dawn on Junpei, along with a pressing question.
How do you know all this?
C'mon man, I told you. I finally got my memory back!
No, that's not what I mean.
I'm trying to ask you why you knew all this stuff in the first place, before you forgot it.
Seven rubbed the scar on his chin.
You really wanna know?
Snake was the only one who didn't voice any sort of agreement.
It looked to Junpei as if he was simply waiting, to see where Seven's sudden recovery might take them.
This's gonna take a while. Hell, it'll probably
Well, we don't have 3 days.
Just give us the short version, all right?
Short version, huh...
The big man pulled off his hat and scratched his head.
He made a face and put his hat back on.
Teruaki Kubota official art.