Part 19: Takeshi - Second Day - Part 7TrackZweitestock
"Tsugumi, why do you know so much about LeMU? I mean, you seem to know all about the details of stuff, like this Generator Room or the pipe room or whatever."
I couldn't check her expression, but it seemed like she was deep in thought about something.
"How's that for a meaningful question?"
"...devoid of meaning."
Tsugumi muttered that.
"How is my answer to that going to help you? It doesn't really matter whether you know about me or not. It's something you don't need to know..."
"Oh, I see. If you don't wanna tell me, that's fine."
Still, I really did want to know.
Tsugumi's evasion of the question had made me interested in finding out what there really was to her. But I didn't think that she would answer if I badgered her about it anymore. I was feeling irritated, but decided to play it cool and pretend like I didn't care.
I didn't know what she was thinking, but Tsugumi suddenly put her face in front of mine.
"Now it's my turn."
"Can I ask you a question?"
"Uh, sure...go ahead..."
"Will you close...your eyes?"
"...Is...that the question?"
"It's more of a favor."
There in the darkness.... In that narrow corridor.... Just a few inches from my nose... The two of us....
My mind turned to steam and evaporated.
"Are they closed?"
Almost as if I were hypnotized my eyes began to sink.
- Shake, shake, shake!
- Splish, splash!
- Slosh, slosh!
I didn't know what to make of these noises. I opened my eyes without thinking....
Tsugumi was grinning mischievously right in front of me.
Tsugumi covered my eyes with one hand.
"Hey, hey, what're you doing?"
"You jerk! You dumb jerk!"
"W-what are you doing?"
A liquid spray like something showered my face.
"You...you...that went in my mouth..."
"Take that! You loser!"
"Stop! Stop it! What's the matter with you...?"
I desperately tried to resist, but my body wouldn't do what I told it. Tsugumi had me by the neck.
"How's that you slug?! You scum on the pond of life!"
With those words, the eruption in my face stopped.
"My mwouth...iz nwumb..whaddya spway won me..."
"Hee, hee, hee..."
I thought she was laughing, but the next thing I knew Tsugumi had started rubbing my face with a cloth. It was rough and her technique wasn't any better....
I stopped my futile resistance.
I was almost choking.
"That's...just about right..."
Tsugumi took her hand off of my neck.
Unable to open my eyes I scooped up seawater from the floor and put it in my mouth. It was salty, but I didn't have any other choice.
"Swish, swish, swish... Blah!"
"H-hey! That's dirty so don't go spitting it over here!"
"You! You! Yoooooou!"
I wanted to say something to her, but washing my face took priority. I scooped more water splashed it on my face and gargled again.
I opened my eyes.
"What did you put on my face?"
"Oh GREAT! I'm so HAPPY it wasn't some pesticide. You think I'm serious? You idiot! I'm kidding! Whaddya doing spraying that on me all of the sudden?"
Thankfully, acetone isnt highly dangerous in low concentrations. He wont die from having it sprayed directly onto his skin, but its still a bitch move for Tsugumi to do without warning
"It was hard to look at."
"Huh? What was?"
And then I realized something. I remembered... The black ink that had been on the palms of my hands....
"I see... It was the graffiti... It was still there...? You erased all of the writing..."
How incredibly thoughtful of her.
I had completely forgotten about it until just then. When I was making sandwiches, looking for Sora and coming here, the writing had been on my face since that morning.
"And the acetone... Acetone...that's supposed to be like nail remover, right?"
"I found it...in the toolbox..."
There was a strong stench from it in the air. It stung my nose like overripe fruit... It smelled like a hangover.
I thanked her...
"So what did the writing say?"
I asked her about the graffiti.
"You can wait if you want, but I'm not answering. Because it's a meaningless question."
The heat inside just about defied imagination. The air in the steam-filled room was heavy and stuck to the skin. Inhaling felt like swallowing globs of sticky hot steam. I was opening and closing his mouth like a fish out of water.
"Isn't it hard to breathe?"
Tsugumi seemed to have ruled this question of mine meaningless as well. She completely ignored me as she started working to get the generator up and running again.
Tsugumi gave commands. I followed them. I did the grunt work...tightening bolts, loosening valves and working on pipes.
And when I finished tightening the last bolt....
I wiped my sweat away with my collar. It was just like Tsugumi had said. The blackout was caused when the safety valve had opened due to the drop in air pressure.
'When pressure from the steam becomes excessive, the valve automatically opens to release the gas and prevent damage. Normally after release of surplus gas, the valve is designed to shut automatically...but we're at 1 atmosphere, so... Because the safety valve never closed, the steam continued leaking.'
...Anyway, that was the gist of the explanation.
Tsugumi and I went to the Generator Room and went to the pipe room... There we opened the valve we had closed before the repairs... And returned to the Generator Room.
"So should we try to fire it up?"
"I'm turning it on."
"Let's start the countdown..."
Take care of the Morse Creeper first.
Tsugumi pushed the button.
"Hey! What are you doing? We still had 17 seconds to go!"
"You can't wait a little more than a mere 10 seconds?"
"This...this is kind of like a ritual...anyway, it's very important..."
The lights lit up all at once.
The light poured down, illuminating even the corners of the room. It was like our field of vision had expanded in an instant.
"See...it took exactly 17 seconds for the lights to come on..."
Tsugumi flashed me a condescending glance and strolled out of the room.
I shouldered the weighty toolbox and followed after Tsugumi.
Tsugumi was waiting with her arms crossed.
"Whaddya expect? I'm the one carrying this leaden toolbox!"
(Oh, yeah... I forgot it was Tsugumi that took the toolbox out of the warehouse...)
As I recalled that, I turned my eyes to the egg-like elevator. On the other side of that door the egg that we came in should have been waiting. It was an egg with a hole in it. It was useless to us. To the left... The floor display was lit up with a number three.
"Did you know there was another egg elevator stopped down here...?"
"Wouldn't have come if I didn't."
"I suppose not...
Inside the egg elevator, I put the toolbox on the floor.
"You sound like an old man..."
"Shut up. I AM an old man compared to you."
As I said that, I pushed the up button next to the elevator door. The internal and external watertight doors had already sealed automatically. We could hear air being sent into the ballast tank under the floor.
Finally, the egg-shaped elevator...didn't start to float up.
"Huh? Are you serious?"
The sound beneath the floor had stopped and silence had returned.
"Not again... Why do we keep running into problem after problem..."
Knowing it was useless, I pushed the up button repeatedly. Tsugumi was as matter-of-fact as always.... She was playing with and coiling her long, still damp hair with her finger.
"Alright, so what do we do...?"
Just as I said that...
A monitor just to the right of the round window flickered to life.
"Sora! Where have you been? We looked everywhere for you!"
"I'm terribly sorry. Please accept my apologies."
The image of Sora in the monitor bowed deeply.
"That's not important right now. Tsugumi and I fixed the generator."
"It would appear so. Thank you so much. Thank you..."
"I think you know this, but we are in this egg...uh, this EI..."
"Yes, I know. The EI is not moving, correct?"
"What should we do?"
"First, in regard to the cause... It is likely the result of a decrease in internal air pressure that has made the device incapable of sufficiently expelling the seawater in the ballast tank. In other words..."
"You mean it isn't buoyant enough?"
"Correct. There are a number of feasible methods for making it rise, but..."
It was then that Tsugumi acted. She suddenly opened the watertight door.
"H-hey! Wait! Whaddya think you're doing?"
Without answering, Tsugumi also opened the LeMU side door.
Tsugumi tried to get out of the elevator.... I grabbed her arm, trying to stop her.
"Don't touch me!"
It was a solid smack....
"I told you...don't touch me..."
My cheek didn't hurt. I absently watched Tsugumi return to the floor.
The egg quietly started to ascend. I could no longer see her on the other side of the door.
"Depth 150 feet. Depth 135 feet. Depth 120 feet."
The recorded announcement echoed with a tinny sound.
When I met everyone on the Zweite stock they greeted me with friendly shouts.
"What happened...to Tsugumi?"
"That idiot decided to stay alone on the floor below..."
"It sure looks like it."
"No it doesn't 'look like it' -- she did! She's all alone down there! Aren't you worried about her?"
"I'm going back down! I'm going down and I'm bringing Tsugumi back!"
"We can't leave Tsugumi alone down there! Look...she's...really not as tough as she acts... Somebody...has to be with her..."
"Hey, what are you doing? Get your act together! Tsugumi can be a bit of an ass, but that doesn't mean you have to be so cold to her! Enough! Anyway, I'm going back for her!"
Aww, he cares!
With that, I went back to the entrance to the egg and waited in front of the doors.
When the doors opened...
"Uh... Will you move?"
"You're in my way."
I simply stood there....
Tsugumi pushed me out of the way and walked by.
So I did the next closest thing I could think of.
"Depth 105 feet. Depth 120 feet. Depth 135 feet."
I went back down to Dritte stock in the egg for no reason.
(It didn't have enough buoyancy so we had to come up one-by-one... Gosh, I'm dense...)
If I could have, right then I would have liked to sink down to the bottom of the ocean.
We gathered in the Conference Room on the third floor.
Tsugumi, Sora, You, Coco and I were sitting in chairs just letting time pass. The rescue team still hadn't come. Our situation didn't show any sign of changing.
You, Coco, and Tsugumi all repeat the yawn just to prove that theyre contagious.
My yawn spread from one person to the next. Only Sora had her head down and looked as if she were thinking about something....
"Oh, that's right!"
Coco suddenly started talking.
"When I was in the changing room a little bit ago I found this..."
As she spoke, Coco plucked something out of her pocket. It was a set of cards.
"Hey, dontcha wanna play cards? I mean we've got nothing to do..."
"Cards, hmmm... So? What do you wanna play?"
"Oh! How about Super Memory?"
"What? You don't know Super Memory?"
You and Tsugumi looked at each other.
"You're kidding, right? You HAVE to know this game!"
"Right? Takepyon, you know it right?"