Part 113: Coco's Route - True End - Part 18
Takeshi and Tsugumi loaded into the elevator and headed back to the research facility.
"Yeah, you're right..."
The flooding should have been fairly advanced in the area above them. It was hard to know if any of the sections had collapsed yet. But for the moment, everything was normal at IBF. On the surface of the pool, there was not even a ripple.
"The time...we're past the scheduled time."
"Actually, there's a rescue team on their way."
"Yeah, they called themselves the Maritime Defense Force, I think. You was able to open up the communications line, so we got a hold of Insel null."
And talking this way, they made their way to the examination room. They opened the door and went inside.
"They aren't here...nobody's here!?"
Tsugumi raised her voice. But there was nobody in the room to respond. Takeshi checked each of the capsule pods. But they were all empty.
"Yeah...You, the Kid, Coco, that old guy...they're all gone."
"Where did they go?"
"Hey, hold on. I'm sure the rescue team found them."
Just then...A recognizable voice came over the speaker.
"This is Insel null Control. Please respond."
Takeshi jumped over to the terminal and hit the 'Talk' button.
"This is the Examination Room in IBF 3, over!"
"Thank goodness...that's where you were. A little while ago we got a message from the dispatch team that they couldn't find you. You had us worried there."
"I'm sorry, I was out for a bit."
"We were able to rescue the other three people in the examination room, and they are being cared for in the salvage vessel."
"Is everyone okay!?"
"We can't say for sure...their conditions are serious. We're fighting against time. The submersible is going to surface soon, and we'll transfer them to a floating medical center."
"Okay. You take care of them."
"How many people are there with you?"
"Two, including me."
"The other person didn't make it......"
"Roger. We'll send the team back there as soon as we can. But there is the possibility that the team won't be able to approach IBF if it starts to break up."
"I've got the exploration vessel standing by. I can call it here by remote control, right?"
"Ah, yeah...I'm sorry to have to ask you to use it, but there's nothing else we can do. We'll do the best we can. Whatever happens, you hang in there."
And after that the communications cut out.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You weren't listening? All this would be for nothing, if everyone died while they were waiting for us. The rescue team decided to put a higher priority on getting You, the Kid, and Coco, to the hospital, than waiting for us."
The color in Tsugumi's face slowly returned to normal, as her sense of panic faded.
"Well...I might just take a nap until the next bus comes..."
"If you think the bus is going to be late, call a cab for me, will you?"
"T-taxi? What are you talking about...Takeshi?"
"If you push that button, a small submarine will come over here by remote controlOur very own private taxi should come here from another area of IBF."
"Anyway...I'm just glad that everyone's alright...Yes..."
A look of relief flooded softly over his face.
Like a marionette that had its strings cut, Takeshi's body collapsed.
Tsugumi ran over to Takeshi and struggled to hold him up. She shook him by the shoulders, but Takeshi would not wake up.
He was breathing. And his heartbeat seemed normal. Although he felt slightly hot, it didn't seem like his life was in danger. Tsugumi carried Takeshi over to a bed. And placing her head on his chest, she closed her eyes. The light sound of their breathing gradually took on the same timing, and softly filled the room.
LeMU's infirmary...I had been sprawled out, sleeping on the bed. Getting up, I looked around. Nobody was there.
I felt a pain in my left hand. And looked at my palm. There was a large bandage on the edge of it. That's right...I injured my hand in the Whale Room...and then...and then...I lost my memory again, and was probably brought to this room.
(Where is everyone...?)
I slowly got off the bed and slipped on my shoes.
Creak, Creeeaak, Creeeeaaaaaaaaaaak.....
Groan, groan, groooooooaaaaaaaaaaaannn....
The sound of metal screeching and rubbing together came from somewhere in the immediate vicinity. Another sound came to my ears, and I could tell it was an alarm ringing somewhere far off. But strangely, I didn't feel any fear. I must not have been completely awake. Inside my head was still dim, and it was hard to grasp the situation completely.
The door to the infirmary opened.
You jumped into the room, as though she were possessed by a demon.
"I found an exit we can escape through!"
You was screaming.
'I found an exit'...I said these words to myself over and over. It took me a few seconds to grasp the enormity of those words.
"Where did you find it?"
My mind was still not fully up and running.
"I'll explain later, just hurry!"
Saying that, You ran out of the infirmary. Still, it took a few more seconds for my legs to get moving.
TrackTraum In Der Dunkelheit
My body was half-paralyzed, and wouldn't move in the direction I wanted it. I shook my head, trying to get rid of the grogginess. No matter how much I ran, I couldn't return to normal.
"Where is everyone else...?"
I was barely able to hold onto my consciousness as I somehow got this question off to You.
"Takeshi's going to get Mayo, and Tsugumi's already in the emergency corridor."
"Takeshi's going to get Mayo...Tsugumi's in the emergency corridor..."
For no reason in particular I repeated You's words. Maybe she finally noticed my odd state. You looked at me suspiciously.
Kaburaki, Tsugumi and Sara were already there waiting.
"Hurry, we don't have much time."
"Not much time...?"
Kaburaki grabbed my shoulder hard and, turning around, started running. Sara and Tsugumi followed Kaburaki's lead.
"Listen up - LeMU has started to implode. We were finally able to make contact with the surface and access the emergency stairs. But if we don't hurry, they're going to flood. So hurry."
You grabbed my arm tightly. And tugging on it violently, You started pounding forward at full speed. It felt like I was about to fall forward and I braced myself as best I could, trying to keep pace with her as she pulled me forward. We flew liked the wind down the painfully cramped passage...
I could hear Kaburaki, Sara and Tsugumi...their footsteps right above me.
"Hurry up! This way!"
I couldn't see from where Kaburaki was calling. But his booming voice thundered off the sides of the metal bulkhead. You's eyes met mine and nodding to one another we pumped our legs harder, climbing as fast as we could. The surface of the stairs was wet. The metal tube surrounding us on the emergency staircase was shaking violently left and right. I slipped and whacked my shin hard against a corner. But I felt nothing.
Both of my legs kept moving as if they were separate from me. My thoughts and feelings were indistinct, vague. An irresistible, primal 'FORCE' was propelling me forward. And I handed over the reins to that 'force'. It was a state almost free of thought. All I could do was to climb and climb and keep climbing...
A sharp, metallic sound echoed painfully in my ears. The angry cacophony shook my body to its core. It was the screaming of a terrible monster...or the groan of death itself. The terrible voice was slowly and certainly closing in on us from behind.
"Just a little more! We're almost there!"
Kaburaki screamed at us from up above. I briefly saw the backs of Sara and Tsugumi who were running up ahead. The meaning of Kaburaki's words, 'Just a little more,' hit me.
(Just a little more...and we can escape from here...From the bottom of the deep ocean...from out of that cage we were trapped in...We're finally getting out. We're going to be free...)
But along with that hope...An indistinct fear was still inside of me. A heavy, dark, sensation wriggled at the center of my body. It was rotten, filthy...It had stuck to the walls of my heart, stagnant and putrid.
(It doesn't matter...Even if you get out of here, nothing will have been solved...)
And as the doubts went through my mind, my legs faltered. Two steps, three steps, four steps, I carried forward and the doubt swelled up replacing my elation at rescue.
(You think...you're really going to be let out of here...?)
And as this thought filled my mind, I had already arrived at the last step in front of the door.
Nobody said a word. We wiped our sweat and struggled for breath as we glared at the huge door, which rose before us.
"Alright, let's go."
I put my hand on the door's lever.
The door unlocked. And bracing my chest and shoulder against the door, I threw all my weight into opening it.
The sight that greeted us was a sky filled with stars. Covering the dark blue sky above was an infinite number of shimmering stars. Beyond time and beyond space, the light poured down gently on our heads from above. All of us, me, You, Sara, Tsugumi and Kaburaki... had lost all words. We could only stare at the sky above.
If I raised my hand it seemed I could touch the sky...But not there...because it was a real night sky.
...Or at least so it seemed. But, I realized nothing had been solved. The slimy sense of unease still gnawed inside of me. And that indistinct notion had changed to a simmering sense of impatience - one that was ready to boil.
(That's right, it isn't finished. I'm not going to let it end here. Because I...don't know...the reasons behind any of this.)
The time was 11:43 p.m.
A new day was just waiting to begin...