Part 39: Tsugumi Good End - Part 1TrackDas Absuchen
I looked at everyone. You, the Kid, Tsugumi, Sora and Pipi...all nodded.The Kid and You held the unconscious Coco between them. Tsugumi and I picked up the researcher, and Pipi took up the rear. Everyone lined up at the transparent sliding door on the far side of the room. Sora used the control panel on a terminal to open it up. All of us entered the room together. A single panel of reinforced glass lay in between the control room and the compression chamber. More precisely, a chamber was set in the middle of the room...had been constructed there.
Both of their breathing was ragged, and they looked in pain. Their faces were extremely pale and sickly. We needed to hurry... I hated to waste an hour here. You, the Kid, Tsugumi and Pipi all stood in the open space available. With everyone in there it was fairly crowded.
"Once the compression is completed, the door on the far side should open, and you can enter the elevator."
For some reason Sora didn't enter the room, but spoke to us from in front of the entrance.
"I will expedite the compression process. It may be a little uncomfortable, but please bear with it."
And saying this, Sora went to close the door.
"Sora, what's wrong? You aren't coming with us?"
"Uh, no, I..."
"Come on, let's get started. What are you waiting for?"
I casually reached out toward Sora. I knew I couldn't grab her, but I did it anyway. However...
As soon as I tried to touch her, sparks flew into the air. It felt as though a shock had gone through me. A transparent wall suddenly appeared in front of the door. There was a red wall of flame...
Alarmed, I drew back my hand, and the door closed.
"Sora! Sora! What was...?"
"From this point on, this is the jurisdiction of a different computer system."
I heard Sora's voice talking to us calmly over the speaker of the compression chamber's intercom.
"I am but a single part of the LeMMIH system, therefore...I am unable to go to IBF. I do not have the authority to access the area. I am sorry, but I will have to see you off."
The wall of fire had vanished.
We were in the compression chamber shut off from the rest of the world. The sound of pumping gas, which was slowly raising the air pressure, could be heard throughout the chamber.
"Hey...everyone take out your voice converters. They get in the way when you're adjusting to the pressure."
Everyone did as I said, and removed their voice alternators. I took out Coco's, myself. I checked the researcher, but it didn't seem he was wearing any.
After that... Hardly anyone said a word. We were all waiting for the time to pass. Sora could be seen outside of the chamber's window. She didn't move, only stood and watched us.
The lock from the door on the far side of the chamber clicked, and released. I felt a subtle change in pressure and the lift down to IBF opened. We all filed into it one by one.
We could hear her voice from the speaker on the other side of the room. But we couldn't see her. I wondered if I would ever see her up close again...? Cocking my head to one side, I thrust the voice alternators back in my ears.
And as soon as the doors closed, the elevator started sliding down.
TrackTraum In Der Dunkelheit
"Depth 210 feet... Depth 240 feet... Depth 270 feet..."
What could be below Heaven? More heaven, or...
"Depth 357 feet"
The passage extended in two directions from the elevator room. I went in one of these.
Fearfully I took a step forward.
"Is someone there?"
"Umm, I think they just turned on by themselves..."
"The sensors reacted, and the computer activated the lights?"
"I'm not sure, but...it's possible."
It seemed that there was a pool where a small submarine could dock. The pool was a two-layer structure, but there was no sign that seawater would flow in. It felt a little hot in there, but it seemed as if the air-conditioning was still working properly. Perhaps the place was even more comfortable than the flooded Dritte stock. But...there was no sign of anyone.
"Anyway, let's get to where we have to go."
We opened a watertight door at the other side of the room and continued deeper into the installation.
For some reason the whole place seemed colder, less alive than the structure above. As we continued down the corridor, lights would go on automatically, a few feet in front of us.
(Well...it certainly seems computer controlled).
As we continued moving, the lights followed us, lighting up the only the areas around us. The corridor branched off in a few directions, but all of them ended at watertight doors that were closed. I wondered if IBF had flooded except for one part? Anyway, the number of areas that we could enter was limited. Luckily we found the examination room, right away. I quickly turned the handle and opened the door.
Tsugumi and I put the researcher down in a chair, slowly. There were a few ordinary beds in the examination room, and the same kind of 'L-MRI' that we had found in LeMU's infirmary. There were numerous medical instruments that looked like things that you might only see in a science fiction movie. I wondered what in the world they were for? I had no idea.
"Hey, You? Where is that 'high-pressure oxygen' thing that Sora was talking about?"
"H-how should I know...?"
"Tsugumi, what should we do?"
"Well, we'll have to look for it. None of us knows a thing about this place."
The researcher coughed as he spoke.
"H-hey, don't move! Are you okay!?"
"I've been better...but at least I'm alive..."
With his eyes closed, he raised his hands weakly in response.
"This smell...this is IBF? So I'm back where I started... *cough*"
"So, you WERE working here.... Well then, there's something I want to ask you. We're looking for something called a 'high-pressure oxygen treatment device.' We've come as far as the examination room, but we don't have a clue what to look for. Can you help us? Please!"
"Oxygen treatment...yeah, you're looking for the pods. There should be some alloy capsules, with a mat set inside of them. They look like a bunch of cylinders stuck to a pillar.... You see them?"
"That's them... *cough*"
"Hang in there! ...We found them. So, don't waste your energy talking anymore, okay?"
New blood appeared on the researcher's closed hand, as he wiped his mouth.
"Just take a look at the manual...they should be...easy to operate."
"Okay, I gotcha..."
The strength left the researcher's hand... Just before he collapsed, I grabbed onto his shoulder to support his body.
"Let's put him in a pod. And Coco too..."
Tsugumi and I got on either side of the researcher and supported him. We brought him over to where the three pods were. When I pressed the button on the side of one, its hatch opened. I put him down gently inside. When I pressed the button again, the capsule pod closed again silently.
The hatch to the pod closed soon after.
"Yeah. This is the control panel..."
You started operating a terminal a short distance away.
"High-pressure oxygen treatment...set..."
The screens on the monitors attached to the tubes flickered, and both of the pods seemed to be functioning normally.
"That should do it."
The condition of the people inside the pods was monitored and appeared on the control panel. Blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate... The expressions on their faces were even visible. I watched them for a few minutes.Coco and the researcher whose name we didn't know. It was a slow process, but they both seemed to be gradually returning to normal.
"Yeah...tell me about it."
"Looks like we made it in time."
We let out a collective sigh of relief. It seemed as if we had escaped the worst, for the moment.
"Well...... We don't have time to hang around, you know?"
We didn't know if the situation here at IBF was any different than LeMU. There might be other survivors, or a way out, even communications... We could possibly even find information about TB. It was best to search as much as time would allow. Everyone agreed, so Tsugumi, the Kid and I went looking around IBF. You had the most medical knowledge, so she stayed in the examination room with Pipi, to look after Coco and the researcher.
We walked all around IBF. But... Since there were only a few places, there wasn't much to see. Almost all of the corridors had been blocked off. And there were many doors that didn't open. When I tried forcing open one of the doors... A terrible smell started pouring out, so I hurriedly closed it again. From what I had seen during the brief moment the door was open... A few researchers covered in blood had died clawing at their throats. I didn't really want to think of what had happened there. It wasn't hard to imagine that the situation had been the same or worse than what happened at LeMU.
Name : Tief Blau.
Symptoms: Fever, chills, headache, aching muscles, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, etc. As it progresses, the patient begins to hemorrhage from the mouth, gums, conjunctiva, nasal cavity, the skin, as well as the alimentary canal, and has a high probability of dying.
Death rate after contracting the disease: over 85%.
Symptoms first appear similar that of a common cold, and while they may temporarily improve, the patient's condition will again rapidly deteriorate, resulting in hemorrhaging.
Incubation Period: normally 2-7 days.
After that point all the data was corrupted and it was not clear what else was written.
Other than that, we came across some interesting information by accident. In the corner of a business log...
"IBF Visitor Registry: Coco Yagami"
Coco's name had been listed. Looking further into the file was what seemed like a personal memo written by somebody.
'I get to see my daughter for the first time in a while. Her school is on vacation, so she has a
10-day break. I've been trapped for so long in this tin can doing virus research that I'm jealous....'
'That aside, when I told her that special permission had been granted for her to come down and see IBF, she sent me a happy reply saying she would. We've exchanged mail every once in a while, but I wonder how long it's been since we've actually seen each other? I'll just be happy if she hasn't forgotten what I look like.'
T.Y.... I thought they were probably the initials of Mr. Yagami, Coco's dad. Which meant that Coco had been to IBF once before May 1. To meet her father...
The Kid, Tsugumi and I all went back to the examination room.
"You, how're they doing?"
"Ah...yeah. It looks like they're doing okay for now."
You looked tired as she sat down and faced the pod's control panel. I looked at the monitor showing vital signs. Blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate...they all seemed to have stabilized for the moment...
"Oh yeah, Takeshi. I checked the medical database on this terminal earlier, but..."
I hesitantly asked You...
"Yeah, did you find something?"
"It looks as if they still haven't found any definite way...to treat the Tief Blau virus. Although the symptoms can be temporarily treated by injecting that orange serum... Otherwise, the only option is to hope for the small chance that it will clear up by itself."
"Oh... That sucks..."
"Huh? What do you mean?"
You had trouble finding the words, so Tsugumi took over for her.
"Well, basically... If Coco is going to heal, her immune system is going to have to work a little harder. We've brought her to the treatment pod, all we can do now is hope."
"Yeah, that's all we can do."
"No... Coco isn't going to get better?"
The Kid looked like he was about to cry.
"Nobody said that. Whether she gets better or not...is up to Coco's will to live."
The Kid walked up next to the capsule pod.
He latched firmly onto the pod, as though he would embrace it and started to cry.
"We still don't know how much this pod is going to help Coco."
You murmured softly as she read the life signs on the monitor.
"It seems that this pod can also do laser disinfecting as well as simple surgery, in addition to the oxygen treatment. And depending on how you use it, even cryogenic suspension..."
"I'm not sure. It was just in the manual..."
"We don't really know is going to happen to us. All we can do is have faith and wait."
A sharp alarm sounded from control panel monitor. Not knowing what it was, we all looked at the monitor at once. The Kid ran over to where we were.
TrackDrittes Auge Nehmen
An agonized expression came over the face of the researcher. He thrashed and contorted inside of the cramped capsule.
The researcher coughed violently and clawed at his throat. His hand and the area around his mouth were stained red.
The color quickly drained from his skin. His breathing became shallow, and he groaned in a low voice.
"No! I can't believe his condition would change like this!"
"Hey mister! Stop grabbing at your throat like that! You'll crush it!"
He slowly lowered the hands, which he been thrashing at his throat with.
"Hey mister, are you alright!?"
"No... This...is as far...as I make it."
The researcher was barely breathing. He was trying to breathe. He let out a gasp.... But wasn't able to bring in air.
You poured over the manual, and desperately searched the control panel. But... There was nothing she could do. There was no way for her to keep him alive. She pounded on the manual. Then placed both elbows on the panel and covered her face with her hands.
She burst into tears.
Tsugumi and the Kid gazed at the monitor with strained expressions. The researcher's vital signs were getting weaker.
"...My daughter... Daughter...take care...of her..."
He looked as though he were smiling. And... His eyes closed... He would never move again.
The life readings from the capsule pod went blank, and an electronic alarm sounded what seemed like forever.
We couldn't save him. We didn't have the power to save that man, whose name we didn't even know.
I reached out my hand and turned off the alarm on the panel.
You replied in a voice filled with tears.
"There doesn't seem to be anything wrong, for the moment..."
"Okay...thanks. We'll have to make sure...he gets a proper burial..."
Proof of how serious the situation was lay right before our eyes... But time rolled ever forward. We didn't have any more room to play around. Dragging my legs, which seemed suddenly very heavy, I went to check all the areas in IBF once again. We had to find a way out as soon as possible. After searching again... The only thing we realized was... That all of the escape pods were gone. The researchers had probably used them to get out. There was no deepwater diving gear, no oxygen tanks.
MeaningAll routes of escape had been cut off. We were quickly approaching the earliest estimated time for LeMU's implosion....it was almost May 6, 4:30 p.m.
The Kid had gone back earlier with You and Coco into the examination room. Tsugumi and I were in the corridor talking.
"No other options, huh...?"
"So, what are we going to do?"
"What do you mean...er, I'm thinking about that right now."
Tsugumi smiled slightly.
"You really like to waste your time, don't you Takeshi."
"T-this isn't wasting time."
"Ha, ha, sorry...but..."
"But it seems just like something you'd do."
"Thinking about things that are impossible?"
When I said that Tsugumi puffed up her cheeks.
"No! ...I don't mean that. Why do you have to tease me..."
"I never thought I'd hear YOU say that."
"I have no idea what to do, but... We'll find a way out of this somehow. We've made it this far."
Tsugumi laughed at my efforts to sound positive.
"Yeah...I'm sure we'll be 'fine'."
"Yeah that's right...we're going to be okay."
From a distance a roaring sound reverberated throughout the installation. It seemed that it was transmitted through the water to IBF. I wondered if that was the sound of the thermal vents. Or was it coming from LeMU... The situation surrounding us was exceedingly grim, and we were only left with the option of postponing the inevitable.
"Hey, Tsugumi...about that old guy..."
"The researcher? Too bad, huh..."
"Yeah. But I was thinking, why was he the only one left here? Everyone else got out earlier, right? Well, besides those guys that didn't make it..."
"I'm sure some kind of circumstances kept him from escaping. And circumstances that kept him alive..."
"Do you remember the entry logs we found on the terminals?"
"Yeah, there were a few of them...nn? Wait, are you saying...!?"
"You remember? That journal entry we found."
"Oh, it was him..."
His last words had been 'Take care of my daughter.'
"I think that was Coco's dad."
"T.Y....Mr. Yagami, huh? He probably knew that Coco was here when the accident hit LeMU."
"Yeah, I'm sure...he did. Maybe he survived because he was thinking about his daughter."
"What do you think about Coco's condition? Why did Coco get TB anyway...?"
"Well...Coco had been to IBF at least once before May 1st. Maybe there was already an outbreak of the TB Virus at that time."
"TB's incubation period is two to seven days.... That's consistent with the timing of Coco's symptoms, isn't it?"
"Y-yeah...I guess you're right. When Coco came to IBF she was probably exposed to TB somehow..."
Nodding to myself, I figured that had to be the most probable possibility.
"However, everyone at IBF probably didn't realize the terrible truth that TB was spreading inside the installation. When they found that a few people had become infected, they must have panicked...and the situation got out of hand."
"As people started dying, the staff here tried to escape and when the escape pods ran out..."
"W-wait! That means...! That alarm meant... The alarm that we heard on May 1, in Lemu was...!?"
I couldn't stop myself from asking. Tsugumi frowned and continued.
"Probably one of the terrified staff members, forced their way up from IBF to LeMU... Without following the standard decompression procedure, they opened the emergency corridors and fled up to Insel null."
"Those corridors remained open for a while."
"And the built-up gas inside the complex quickly escaped, bringing down the pressure, a section of LeMU started flooding, and the watertight doors closed. And that's how we ended up getting stuck here...?"
"Yup, that's right. Meaning, the alarm that went off in LeMU... Was for the abnormal installation pressure readings and the virus outbreak - You could say it served a couple of functions."
"I can't believe it...!"
All I could do was sigh in frustration.
"That's the reason that no rescue team is coming here...?"
"I'm sure that's it."
With a solemn face, Tsugumi nodded.
"If the TB Virus got out to the world outside, it would be devastating. So even if there were survivors in here, it would be necessary to lock them up at the bottom of the ocean."
"Leiblich Pharmaceuticals may be even trying to hide the fact that there was an accident at all. All the while knowing that we're trapped in here..."
I kicked at a rusted bolt that had fallen at my feet. It bounced into the pool with a splash, and slowly sank.
The sounds of our feet echoed loudly off the walls of the narrow corridor.
"Well, if that's the case then..."
"Well, you know? That means we've got to get ourselves back up to the surface no matter what!"
"Hmmm, why's that?"
"So that we can tell the media all about what's happened here, that's why! We're going to put it to Leiblich! No matter what, okay?"
"Heh, heh.... That's more like the Takeshi I know."
Puffing out her cheeks slightly, Tsugumi looked at me.
"Yeah, me too..."
"I want to go with you, Takeshi...together..."
"Huh? Did you say something?"
For some reason Tsugumi's face was red.
I felt strange and stopped suddenly. I looked up.
Tsugumi followed my gaze to the ceiling. There was nothing there. She returned her gaze to me.
"Uh... I'm not really sure, but... For some reason it's hard to breathe all of a sudden..."
"Takeshi......? Your...nose is bleeding..."
"You've got a nose bleed."
I hurriedly wiped my nose with my hand. My upper lip was wet with something.
"He-hey? Are you okay?"
Tsugumi looked worriedly at my face.
"F-fine, I'm fine..."
Looking up, and wiping under my nose, I replied.
"I wasn't thinking anything sexual! Absolutely! Positively!"
"I-it's not like I...I don't care about that!"
"Well, alright then..."
The blood wouldn't stop flowing.
"Aaah, I look like such a dork."
"Who cares what you look like."
"I care. Looking like this in front of, you, I...huuuh....huuuh..."
"Huuuh? Huuuuh, what? Come on, what...?"
Tsugumi started shaking my shoulder.
I let out a huge sneeze.
Red flecks splattered on the floor and walls.
I was suddenly assaulted by dizziness. The world felt like it was spinning.
"For some reason, I can't keep steady..."
Although I didn't feel so great, it seemed funny for some reason and I laughed.
A, ha, ha, ha...what's with this?"
Takeshi! Takeshi, hang in there!"
"Huh...quit shaking me, it's making me feel ill."
"Hey, I'm fine. Don't worry, Tsugumi."
"You're not fine at all! You're bleeding all over, Takeshi!!"
"We should go to the examination room, and take a look at you at once."
"Uh, yeah. *cough*"
(This isn't good... I gotta get a hold of myself...)
I tried to calm myself down. With Tsugumi supporting me, I walked down the corridor. Just then a door flew open in front of us. It was the examination room. Out of it flew You.
"Tsugumi, Takeshi! The Kid! The Kid's in bad shape!"
Her face changed color as she shouted.
"The Kid? What's wrong?"
"He's in trouble! It'll be faster if you come in and look...ah!"
"No...Takeshi, you too!?"
You noticed the shape I was in and her face turned pale.
"What are you talking about...?"