Part 41: Tsugumi Good End - Part 3TrackDrittes Auge Nehmen
A stale cold feeling... I realized I had been sleeping sprawled on the floor. I slowly raised my body. I tried opening and closing my fists
Strange. The movement left me with an uncomfortable sensation, like it wasn't my own. I shook my head. I tried slapping my cheek. I breathed in the cold air and breathed out. Strange... The inside of my head stayed dull and murky. I dragged myself to consciousness, forcefully reeling myself back to clarity. Putting my hands on the floor, I pulled up my heavy, aching body. My feet faltered. But somehow I managed to stand. I looked around the infirmary. I saw several used syringes scattered on the floor.
The Kid was still slumped against Coco's pod. He looked disturbingly bad, just completely out of it. Tsugumi was nowhere to be seen. I wonder where she had gone to...? You was half slumped over the terminal console, snoring away. She looked like she was in some pain and was perspiring in her sleep. Her hand was pushed against the panel as if she had been in the middle of typing. On the monitor, auto-repeated strands of letters were lined up without meaning.
What the...? I heard a strange sound. I re-inserted the voice converter into my ear...it wasn't a problem with the converter.
"Come in... IBF 3, please respond. This is the emergency rescue team from the Maritime Defense Force. We are being directed by Insel null."
I could hear a voice coming from the speaker!? I hurried over to the terminal, and removed You's hands from it, taking over the control panel.
"H-hello! This is the IBF infirmary...over!"
"IBF 3!? I repeat, this is the Maritime Defense Force emergency rescue team calling from the control center at Insel null. Can you hear me?"
"Yeah! Okay...loud and clear!"
I was somehow able to force out an answer. Voices spilled out from the other end of the line.
'Hey, there are survivors down there!'
'I can't believe it!'
That's what I wanted to say. It seemed like You had been able to restore the communication lines...
"We're sending a rescue team immediately. Can you access the pool in IBF 3?"
"Uh, yeah, it should be fine."
"Do you know how many survivors there are and where they are located?"
"In the examination room there are five... no six."
"Six. I copy. A rescue team is headed there in a private sector salvage vessel. When it arrives, I want you to follow its directions and get out of there."
"How long 'till they get here?"
"They're going as fast as they can, but it'll take about an hour."
(Coco should be able to get out of the pod by then. I just hope we have that long...)
"But, if something goes wrong... There should be a small deep-exploration submarine left in the research facility. I hate to make you do this, but I want you to escape to that area."
"S-something goes wrong...? W-what do you mean...?"
"LeMU's partition strength threshold is already being exceeding. If one section implodes, there's the risk that another area could collapse and sinking could ensue. If that happens, we think there's a high possibility that heavy pieces could crash down on the research facility."
"You don't say...?"
Of course, we're doing everything we can to get to you before that happens. We're heading there, no matter what! So, please hang on a little longer!"
The communications cut out suddenly.
"Ah, hey! W-wait a sec!"
I hit the 'Call' button repeatedly, but there was no answer.
"Damn it, we can't open up communications from this side..."
I didn't have any other choice. I began pouring through the manual on the side of communication terminal. A mini-submersible for deep-sea exploration... We hadn't found it when we'd searched the place...
"Ah, here it is!"
Following the instructions, I used the control panel to call up information on the monitor.
"It's a small electric submersible..."
The submarine was in a separate sealed sector attached to IBF. The specifications said it was a 'neutral buoyancy' miniature-submarine, for saturation diving. The important thing was, it could be brought over to the pool by remote control.
"If things get dangerous, I guess they want us to board this."
I quickly went about setting up the remote control program, so that we could move the submarine at a moment's notice, if we had to.
"Alright... All we have to do now is... Get Tsugumi and Sora over here..."
(Sora... How are we going to get Sora here...)
I was overcome by unease.
Suddenly a low metallic crash reverberated throughout the installation. The sound...seemed to come from above.... An alarm sounded from the terminal and the screen changed.
'Warning: LeMU hull breach : Flooding'
"LeMU....!? This is bad... That means...Tsugumi and Sora...!"
It was only slight, but the floor was trembling.
I suddenly became dizzy again. Losing my balance, I crashed into a wall. It seemed I wasn't completely recovered yet. I didn't have any idea if the antibodies were working or not... Not a clue.
"I...still gotta go... I have to GO!!"
The elevator headed up.
"Depth 270 feet... Depth 240 feet... Depth 210 feet..."
Forcing open the door, I slipped into the pressurization chamber.
I pressed on the intercom button repeatedly.
"Ta-Takeshi!? What are you...?"
"Hey! It's been a while!"
I realized how much I had missed that voice. I waved to Sora as she appeared outside the window.
"Wh-what are you doing here?"
"Well, it's obvious isn't it? I came back. What's the damage?"
"There's flooding in Zweite stock. The warehouse area has been breached, and cracks are beginning to form in the elevator shaft. The situation is serious. There is over six inches of flooding in almost all of the corridors."
"She's...trapped in the infirmary..."
"What about the door?"
"The electronic lock has been released. But..."
"It won't open 'cause of the water pressure?"
"Yes... Takeshi, I'm going to start decompressing the chamber."
"How long will it take?"
"I will complete it as soon as possible."
"I need to know how much time!"
"If I hurry...12 hours."
"Tw-twelve hours!? We don't have that long!"
"If we don't dissolve the nitrogen in your blood, you will get decompression sickness."
"I don't care! Open that door now!"
"I can't do that...!"
"If we don't act fast, Tsugumi is dead!"
"If we open that door now, due to the rapid decompression, the nitrogen in your bloodstream will form bubbles, causing blood clots, and in the worst case..."
"I don't care, you get that door OPEN NOW!!!"
"I can't...it's too..."
I found an emergency escape lever inside the chamber and I pulled on it. I kicked the door.
There was a horrible noise, as though all the air inside had exploded. My body was thrown from the room, along with the high-pressure gas that had been built up inside.
My body crashed heavily against the wall.
"Gaagh! ...eeeaaAAAAGGHH WAAAAaaaah......"
Pain wracked my body. And it wasn't because I had smacked into a wall. Although I kept spewing out my breath, it felt like air kept bubbling up in my lungs. A terrible exhaustion. My whole body felt strung out. My eyes felt swollen and painful. The muscles in my limbs began to spasm. Numbness. Pain. Headache. I felt like I had no room to move.
According to astronomers, humans can live for a short period of time even if they are thrown out of a spaceship into space. But fish brought quickly up from the sea depths to earth die instantly, because the pressure difference causes their organs to burst. So was I an astronaut, or...
"Takeshi, your voice converter!!"
I felt a splitting pain deep in both ears. Repelled by my eardrums, the voice converters flew out of my ears. I hurriedly, held both ears with the palms of my hands and knocked them, as though trying to drain water from them.
I couldn't hear what Sora was screaming. All I could do was lie on the floor, trying to suck in air. Like a fish that had been pulled out of the water... A few minutes passed...
The earphones that I had been wearing had broken in half. I got up weakly.
I crammed them forcefully into my ears.
"Takeshi...are you okay?"
Tears welling up in her eyes, Sora looked at me with a pained expression.
"Okay, okay. I'm still alive."
At least my eardrums hadn't burst...
I checked the screen on my PDA. It showed a map of LeMU, and a blinking dot showed me where Tsugumi was... From the console at HIMMEL I had installed a program to link data from LeMU's sensors to my PDA. Sora had prepared it for me.
Neither bends nor A.I. will keep this motherfucker down!
But seriously, he should have died the moment he threw that door open. Going straight from 12.5 atmospheres to 1 is suicide.
"Alright, Takeshi. It seems that you've made up your mind... I'll stay here in HIMMEL, to keep track of the situation at LeMU, and send updates to your PDA. I'll do what I can to stop the partitions from falling...to see that this place stays together, even a little while longer. SoPromise me...that you'll come back here with Tsugumi..."
"Yeah, it's a promise."
The map showed that the surrounding corridors were flooded and that there was no way to access the area. But... I knew what I had to do.
But because the watertight doors had shut on all sides of the floor, the water had stopped flowing. In that case...I thought I could make it.
Turning out the light, I propelled myself forward through the darkness. I wouldn't let the darkness overtake me anymore. It wasn't something that I would run away from afraid of... I would take the darkness inside of me, and make it my own... That's why I wasn't afraid. There was nothing to be afraid of.
Entering the room from the hole of the elevator shaft, I quickly climbed into the infirmary.
She was in a corner of the room, hugging her knees to herself. At her feet was the slightly wet, furry figure of Chami.
Tsugumi looked at me with wide-open eyes.
"What are you so worked up about, Tsugumi? I came back, right now! I came back for you! Well, I guess I'm a bit late, but..."
I scratched my nose.
"Y-you idiot! What are you doing here!!? Do you...want do die!?"
One after the other, large tears started falling from her eyes.
I was laughing as I spoke.
"I came back for something I forget, um, yeah that's it."
Picking up Chami in both hands, she stood up slowly.
"Yeah. Left it here, silly me... My irreplaceable... More important to me than anything else...friend..."
"...how... How...did you get here?"
She looked at me as though she still couldn't believe I was actually there.
"Well, I'm a good swimmer. Actually, I swam down and back in a 25 yard pool...once... I kicked off wall coming back, but still..."
I pretended to swim as I spoke.
"Wait, I think I just beat my record... Hey? Do you remember the furthest I've ever swam underwater?"
"...One... 103 feet...?"
She answered, her expression beginning to break down.
"Yeah... You think I'd die in a place like this? I mean... I still haven't gotten enough abuse from you yet. I want to hear what you've got to say, from here on out..."
"So... I came for you, Tsugumi."
We ran to one another. Reaching out our hands... We came together. I gently wiped away the teardrops around her mouth with my lips. And in the center of the infirmary we held each other close, embracing firmly. Riding on both of our hands Chami snorted and looked at us.
"Alright, let's go back...together."
Tsugumi softly held Chami and hid him inside the chest of her clothing.
It was only a matter of time before this place collapsed in on itself. We had to hurry. I knew that... But I wasn't in a rush. We would make it. I'd never say quit. I'd never say it was too late. I knew it was going to be okay.
"I've prepared the chamber for you get inside quickly!"
I opened up the sliding door and rushed to the other side of the glass.
Slouching back in a chair, Tsugumi struggled to catch her breath.
I didn't think that I would be able to move for a while.
"Sora.... You're coming too..."
"What's wrong...? You can't come no matter what?"
The door to the room shut automatically. The compression started...
Sora stood silently outside of the chamber.
I started to open up the door. Once again I reached out to the emergency lever on the side of the door.
But why would she just stand there without moving. She wouldn't make it... Water... Water was flooding into HIMMEL's control room. Her image broke up and disappeared... A fog enveloped Sora, covering her over. She disappeared without a word.
The room on the other side of the compression chamber had already filled with water. The compression finished... Tsugumi and I transferred to the lift, and went down to IBF
"Yeah, you're right..."
By then the flooding was probably fairly advanced in the area above us. Perhaps some of the sections had started to collapse. But the surface of the pool, hardly even rippled. As if there were nothing going on. I wondered how much longer the place would hold...
"The time...we're past the scheduled time."
"Actually, there's a rescue team on its 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."
I turned the handle on the door of the examination room.
"Ah... They aren't here... nobody's here!?"
Tsugumi searched around the examination room. Then she checked each of the capsule pods. I also did a quick search of the room. Coco's pod was open. The manual for the control panel was opened to the same page. The used bottles of serum lay strewn on the floor.
"Yeah... You, the Kid, Coco, that researcher...they're all gone."
"Where did they go?"
Tsugumi was starting to panic.
"Hey, hold on. I'm sure the rescue team found them."
Just then a voice that I recognized came over the speaker. I hit the 'Talk' button. Tsugumi was next to me staring at the monitor.
"This is Insel null Control. Please respond."
"This is the examination room in IBF 3, over!"
"Thank God...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."
The communications cut out.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You weren't listening? It means... 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, rather 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..."
The adrenaline that had kept me going earlier, suddenly ran out.
My legs suddenly gave out... My head struck the hard surface of the floor... But before I could feel anything... I slipped into a deep sleep, as Tsugumi held me in her tight embrace.
One more update to go for this path and it'll be up within the day or so.