Part 97: Coco's Route - True End - Part 2
Hey, guess what were back to!
Why did I feel at such unease with 'me'? If you stare at something for a long time, it can seem to warp and change...The unnaturalness I felt right then seemed a lot like that phenomenon. As though I was taking something for granted that I shouldn't. It was probably just my mind playing tricks on me.
And not thinking any more about it...I shook Coco's shoulder. She was next to me, asleep head down on the table.
"Hey, get up. It's morning."
Rubbing her eyes, Coco got up slowly.
"Oh, good morning...Brother..."
"...Huh? Oh, yeah. Coco, you have a brother? But, hey, you got the two of us mixed up..."
"No...brother...We need to get ready or we'll be late for school..."
Coco was still half in dreamland.
"Late for school? What are you talking about?"
"Well, that's just the setting it is..."
"Uh, listen...Stop messing around, we're going to eat."
"Ah... ... Okay, Takepyon."
Tsugumi, Sora, You, and the Kid... all of them. I made my way into the submarine, and opened the door of the refrigerator in the sandwich shop.
I spotted sausages hidden in the back. So, I decided to make everyone hotdogs. Soon after I'd made breakfast for everyone I leaned out over the counter and said...
"Alright, whoever wants to eat, get in line!"
"Oh!? Well, here ya go."
"Help yourself to ketchup and mustard."
"Uh, I'd like one too..."
"Hey, wait in line! The next person is M-E-!"
This was probably the way things usually were at this shop. There still wasn't any schedule as to when we might get out of LeMU. But in the meantime, we'd stopped thinking about the difficult and negative things.
"I'm not sure why, but you look like you're having fun."
"Who, me? You think so? Fun...I guess maybe..."
I wiped the sweat caused by the heat of cooking from my face.
"Yeah, you look like you might even be enjoying your life here."
"I wonder how that'd feel...I guess it'd be kind of fun, owning a stand like this!"
The Kid stifled a laugh.
"Takepyon, you really do look like you work here."
"Hotdogs, get your hotdogs! They're on the house!"
"You don't think, that maybe you could have sold hotdogs in a past life?"
"Aw shucks, ma'am you're just sayin' that..."
"No, Coco, I don't think he was a hotdog man, I think he was..."
"...a sandwich man?"
"Ah, come on, You!"
"A ha, ha, ha, ha..."
The three of them took their hotdogs and laughing walked a short distance from the stand. And as if they had traded places, Tsugumi came up.
"What just happened?"
"Ah, everyone was eating hotdogs. Hey, I've got one for you too."
Tsugumi took it without so much as a thank you, and went to the corner of the room. Sora was talking with the Kid. I was a bit sad that I couldn't make anything for her. Still leaning over I stuffed my hotdog greedily into my mouth, and watched everyone from where I was.
It was May 3rd
It had been three days since we'd been trapped. But everyone was bright, and showed no feeling of fatigue or sadness. Especially CocoIt was hard to believe that she had suffered so much that first night.
For no reason, Coco was playing with Pipi's tail. Looking at her smiling face, I suddenly remembered how we had bumped into each other again. After I got her out of the elevator, I seemed to remember...
"You're that guy from before!"
"You're that girl from before!"
The girl and I pointed at each other and froze.
I spotted the scruffy face of a dog circling around her feet.
"His name's not 'Popo'...This little guy's name is Pipi, and my name's Coco....Try not to mix them up, okay?"
"But...what are you doing here?"
"Well, what do you expect me to say to that...? I was trying to go to one of the lower levels, and all of a sudden this escalator stopped, and..."
"It isn't an escalator, it's an elevator, alright?"
"Ha, ha, oops.... I mean e-ve-lator, okay?"
"No, NOT e-ve-lator, E-LE-VA-TOR. If you're on a moving staircase, that's called an escalator, and if you're in a box that goes up and DOWN, now that's an elevator. Try not to mix them up."
"Does it really matter? Anyways, I don't know why, but all of a sudden I was trapped in this box."
"I'd kind of like to get out of here...soon..."
"Oh, aah, I'm sorry."
I said that and got down on my stomach from atop the elevator. I leaned down from the small hole, and stuck my hand out to Coco.
"Please, help Pipi first."
Coco held up Pipi to me, stretching as far as she could to make him reach. I grabbed onto Pipi's front legs, and pulled him out from the hole in the ceiling.
"Okay, next it's your turn, Coco."
I stuck out my hand again.
"Aia! Wah! Ayah!"
Coco jumped over and over, reaching out for my hand. But... Either she was too short, or just had a terrible jump, because she didn't even reach my fingertips.
"Toriiyaa! Uuuriya! Eeeiii! Yaah! Waachooo!"
She was standing next to 'The Kid,' and talking with Tsugumi about something. I couldn't hear what they were talking about from where I was, behind the counter.
Sora Akanegasaki. It was hard to believe she was only an illusion generated by RSD...I stared at her again, from a distance. I thought about what we'd talked about the day before......
"Takeshi...have you ever seen the moon?"
"Ha, ha, ha! Yeah, are you kidding?"
"Well, now let's say that you have seen a full moon. And let's say that you closed your eyes. Do you think that moon would still be there?"
Why are you asking such obvious questions? Of course it would."
"And how about if everyone in the world closed their eyes all at the same time?"
"I don't know what your point is, but...even if everyone in the world closed their eyes, the moon wouldn't disappear."
"How can you be sure?"
"Just open your eyes and check, right?"
"That goes against the purpose of this exercise. My question was whether there is any way of measuring whether or not the moon exists, if someone closes their eyes. When you close your eyes, do you think this world still exists? What if I told you that not only myself, but all of LeMU was nothing but an RSD-generated illusion.....what would you do then? Can you prove that the walls, the ceiling and all of the scenery that you are witnessing actually exist?"
"Ha, ha, I'm sorry, I was only joking."
"That's a joke?"
"Yes, LeMU really does exist. You sounded so full of confidence when you answered...I thought I would tease you just a bit."
"However, I can say this. For humans to know the world around them they must use one of their five senses. If they lose all of these, they lose the ability to tell whether this world exists, or not."
"Another way of putting it might be to say that the perspective is in the eye of the beholder. In this instance, I don't mean just sight, but hearing, smell, taste, touch - all of the senses. The point at which we perceive the world - that is perspective. And I...I....I am the same as the moon."
But I felt that Sora had just as much as, no, maybe even more human warmth, and caring than the rest of us.
Then again, there was Tsugumi's coldness...
"What do you mean by that?"
"I mean exactly what I said. You don't look that smart."
"This is a trap. And you probably aren't going to get out. No, not just you, but everyone else as well, all four of them. You're all the same."
"Well, what about you then, Tsugumi?"
"Yeah. I suppose I could die in a place like this. It wouldn't be bad at all, I guess."
I was thinking this and looking at her. I wasn't sure if she could feel my gaze, but she turned to look over at me. For some reason I felt like she could see what I was thinking and I avoided her eyes.
The next person to jump into my field of view was You. You had finished eating her hotdog and dancing, hand in hand, with Coco. I wondered if it were some kind of folk dance. She smiled so wide it seemed her face might split, and laughed boisterously.
Her eyes shone so brightly...But I knew...Behind those eyes was hidden a past filled with sadness......Her father had disappeared 17 years earlier.
I thought about the talk I'd had with You the day before. Maybe the reason she carried that album around with her was she wanted something to connect her with the memories of her father.
In the palm of You's hand was... some kind of journal or notebook. She had it opened and was staring at a page. Coco was standing next to her, busily peering over her shoulder.
"What'cha looking at?"
"Um, uh, we were um, looking at these pictures."
"You want to see them?"
"Okay, I'll show you."
What You handed over to me was neither journal, nor notebook - it was a single file. One small enough to fit in the palm of my hand. It was already open, and had several pictures taken from an instant camera stuffed between the pages. They were baby pictures.
"It can't be...Your baby!?"
"I'm 18, okay? And I'm single. Single!"
"Yeah, right...Which means that this baby is...?"
"It's Nakkyu, dummy. These are from when Nakkyu was a little bitty baby!"
"So this is what you were laughing about?"
"Something wrong with that?"
"I mean they're adorable, right? My baby pictures. Uh, and of course, the fact that I'm cute hasn't changed a bit, you know."
"Oh and...um...can you hand those back?"
And saying that You snatched the file out of my hands...
"This picture is from when I was dressed up in a kimono as a kid...And in this, I was head cheerleader for an all school athletic event. And.... Oh, this one's from my first day of middle school."
You continued to flip through the pages.
"And here's one that I took at the talent show my freshman year in high school. Here's Keiko, Min-min, Betty, Chi-chan, Beef Yamamoto.... Oh, and couldn't forget my teacher, right? And the firework competition....here's my trip to the hot springs... Oh! And one from that time I stayed at Ami-chan's!"
"And here we have... Huh? What is this?"
"Oooh, that's riiight. This is when we sneaked into school that one night...And of course the graduation ceremony...There was one more... uuummm..."
So much of You's history was there...Smiling faces, sad faces, silly faces, surprised faces, even shy faces...There were girlfriends, boyfriends, teachers, people, afternoons, nights, good times and hard times...It goes without saying, but shown in those photos were people I didn't know, places I didn't know, and a You that I didn't know.
"Oh, and, and..."
You looked like she had no intention of stopping, so I rushed to get a word in.
"Um, You? So what is this like your life's history album or something?"
"A history album.... Well, I've never called it that before...But if you had to label it, I guess you could call it that."
"Uh, so why are you carrying that with you?"
"Huh? Why do you even need to ask?"
"Takepyon, you don't know? All girls carry around things like this. It's normal."
"You don't say?"
"Well, all the girls I know carry them around."
"I wonder what everyone is doing right about now...?"
You murmured softly to herself as she flipped through the pages.
"Do any of these people ever worry about me?"
"Oh, yeah...Do you live with your mom and dad, Takepyon? Or do you live by yourself?"
Coco threw the question at me abruptly. Before answering I tossed the question back.
"How about you, Coco? You're probably still living with your parents, aren't you?"
"Well, I'm 14 aren't I? Of course I am."
"Ah, well, right now my dad isn't at home, but..."
"Hmm? Why not?"
"Because he's on a 'business trip,' that's why."
"Oh, I see. And what about you, You? Are you living with your parents or..."
(Oh! Duh! Why did I ask that!?) - I realized it'd been a mistake to ask that. You's dad was missing. But it didn't seem as if she cared one way or another.
"I'm living with my mom. But I doubt she's really worried about me. That's just the kind of person she is, my mom..."
"What do you mean?"
"I guess you could call her a positive thinker... She isn't the type to really let herself get caught up in things. She doesn't care if I stay out all night...I've been living with her for 18 years... but she's never raised her voice at me once. I grew up pretty much doing whatever I wanted. I suppose that's why I turned out the way I did."
You showed me a page from her album that she'd turned to. There was You with putting the hurt on some wrestler. And the guy looked like a bulky jock of sorts.
You and the kid had taken off somewhere. Maybe they'd gone to the rest area next door.
"It's only been two days and so much has happened...Just being trapped here is an unusual state of affairs..."
I said these words to myself without thinking.
Suddenly, a low metallic sound reverberated throughout the installation. It was a dull, muffled sound.
"Wh-what was that!?"
"This whole place just shook...a little."
Coco ran over to Sora. Clutched to her chest was Pipi...Coco was hugging him so hard he seemed about to rupture.
"Hey, did something just happen? There was an awful sound just now."
"One of the shafts that supports this floor has started to bend out of alignment. It appears as if the ocean currents may have caused it."
"How dangerous are we talking about here?"
"Well, it should be within the margin of error but...no, wait a second."
"There is an anomaly in one the of pressure-regulating pipelines, at Zweite stock's warehouse."
"What are pressure-regulating pipes?"
"These pipelines are responsible for adjusting the pressure inside the multi-layered bulkheads comprising LeMU. The anomaly is only slight, so you shouldn't have to hurry, but...I think it is best if someone goes to check on it. Would you please go for me? If any of them should rupture, for whatever reason, I am incapable of repairing them. Would you please go for me?"
"Sure, leave it to me."
"I'll go too."
"Tsugumi? You sure?"
"Well, if we're going to fix something, we'll need tools, right? I know my way around a workshop."
"Alright.... Let's go."
"I'll help too!"
"Okay, you can come too Coco...By the way, does anyone know where You and the kid went?"
"You and the kid are in the Security Office."
"What the heck are they doing there...?"
"They are trying to make contact with LeMMIH."
"With LeMMIH...? What am I thinking? I've got other things to worry about. Alright, the three of us are going to the warehouse...Sora? Give You and the kid an update of the situation, will you?"
The water level came up to the tops of my shoes. From the back of the room, we could hear a hissing sound coming from somewhere. The sound drew our attention. There was a faint crack in the pressure-regulating pipe, and water was dancing out of it in a fine mist. If that's all it was, it didn't seem like we had anything to worry about. It seemed like we'd be able to fix it in no time. Tsugumi had opened up the toolbox that was in the corner of the room and started spreading a few tools out in front of her.
"What do we need to do?"
"The pipe is bent a little bit...I'm going to clamp a metal sleeve on it, would you support the pipe for me?"
"What should I do?"
"On the other side of this...there should be a valve attached to this pipe. You see it? I want you to loosen that a bit."
We all started working in unison. We opened and closed the valves on a number of pipes, re-attached pipes and welded shut cracks...
"Huh? Oh, okay."
"First take that blue valve and...After that I want you to turn the red valve..."
We'd fixed a number of pipes, but the sound of escaping steam still hadn't stopped.
"Alright Coco, wait just a bit."
"Okay, I'm ready."
"Takeshi, move the valves in the order I told you. Now."
"Hey, you listening Takeshi?"
"Huh? Yeah, alright, alright. I'm sorry. Blue then red, right?"
"Yeah. Loosen them and then shut them again."
I set to work upon the blue valve in front of me. I was supposed to loosen this...I'm supposed to turn this counter-clockwise, yeah...I turned the blue valve with all of my strength. The sound of rushing steam grew softer. Alright, next close the red valve...The steam dancing from the pipe grew weaker.
(Alright, that does it.)
"Coco, hold on just a little longer."
Holding up her left hand to shield her face, Tsugumi operated the welding torch with her right hand. The crack in the pipe closed visibly.
"Takeshi, after I weld this on, I want you to return the valves to their original positions right away."
Tsugumi finished welding.
"Now turn it back! Fast!"
I quickly turned the valves back in the other direction. I could feel the steam flowing through the valve.
"Coco, this pipe's done. Go on to the next one."
"Okay, where is it?"
"Hmmm...hold on just a second."
The water underfoot still hadn't gone down at all and was swirling around. The air conditioner on the wall was sucking in water and gurgling it out. It appeared it had also shorted out. I could see blue-white sparks jumping around inside.
(I hope it doesn't shock me...)
As soon as I thought this...
It sounded like the air conditioner was about to break apart. Smoke started pouring out from the exhaust vent. And from the intake port, murky water started gurgling out. The area around my legs was quickly getting grimy.
"Water...The water that was in the suction pipe is starting to backflow. Be careful."
My leg got caught up in the jet of muddy water and I lost my balance. I reached out to grab something...I caught on to a stack of crates and old containers lying nearby.
It made an ominous sound. My body draped awkwardly over the containers. I lifted my gaze. The top of the stack was wobbling precariously.
I looked to Tsugumi. Our eyes met. She was frozen in place, holding her breath. I shot a glance over at Coco. She had her back turned to me, and was grabbing on to a pipe. I looked up at the ceiling again.
The containers, having lost their balance, started to rain down. Chunks of metal...rusted pipes...thick iron cylinders...There was no sound. I perceived everything in vivid slow motion. Countless pieces of metal, all pouring down quietly. Although my mind was spinning, my body couldn't catch up. I couldn't talk. I couldn't move. Crashing metal. A raging monster...With its sight fixed on that small frame...Pouncing, devouring.
All of it headed
Was a mountain of metal. The old pipes broke apart into thousands of pieces. The containers splintered apart, their sharp corners flashing.
I landed in the water - I'd thrown myself out of the way, arms and legs flailing. The pipes on the wall were cracked. They had been damaged from the shock...And out of the cracks, water was gushing out. And fallen nearby was. Fallen was...
I ran over to where she was. Coco looked around at the spectacle and hugged Pipi to her tightly, her hands trembling. Yes...I had seen it all...Just before the metallic objects had crashed down on Coco's back, Tsugumi had thrust her out of the way. She'd protected her... while risking her own life...
A metal shard had dug deeply into Tsugumi's right thigh. It didn't look like she could move.
"I guess I messed up."
Tsugumi grimaced and pushed down on the wound. She was losing a lot of blood. The murky water was getting redder by the moment...
"Hey, you okay!?"
"Heh, heh, does this LOOK okay to you? Always asking stupid questions."
"S-stop laughing! I'm going to get that stuff off you, just wait!!"
I tried to lift the metal off of her. But, no matter how hard I tried, the heavy chunk wouldn't budge.
"Looks like it's no use..."
In the meantime, the water level had risen from ankle to knee height.
Coco started to rush over to Tsugumi.
"Get away from me!"
Stung by Tsugumi's cold words, Coco stiffened and stopped.
"Get out of here, Coco! You too Takeshi, get out while you can...At this rate, this room's partitions won't last. You'll all die if you stay. So, hurry...Get out of here."
"....But- Stupid idiot!! You think I can just leave you!?"
"There's nothing you can do, right? I'm stuck here. And with this injury, you can't help me anyway"
I roared out.
"I won't let you give up on me now, dammit! Hey Coco! What are you standing there for!?"
"Get on that intercom and contact the others!"
With all her might Coco moved her trembling legs to get closer to the intercom.
"It's no use.... It's broken! I pushed the button, but nothing happens!!"
"So run up and tell the others to get over here!"
"O-okay, I'm going!!"
Although she looked flustered, Coco nodded and ran off. The door to the warehouse closed. Soon, water came up to the bottom of the door.
The water continued to rise. From her waist down, Tsugumi was almost completely underwater. The water level was almost over my knees.
"What are you trying to prove...It doesn't mean anything... just leave. I don't want you here."
"I wouldn't be here if there wasn't a reason. I can't just leave you here."
"I've taken nothing but abuse from you, and you still haven't thanked me properly yet."
"Oh, really...heh, heh. Well, that's reason enough I suppose. "
Tsugumi laughed weakly. Her lips were trembling. The murky water was spreading.
"It's gotten cold in here..."
"Alright Tsugumi...I need you to stay with me, now."
I chose my words as carefully as possible.
"I'm perfectly sane."
"You'll be okay. The wound isn't that deep, so don't worry."
I was lying. Even I could tell that her wound was life-threatening. Tsugumi's white femur had broken through and protruded from her flesh.
"'You'll be okay', what makes you think that? You're the one who's crazy..."
"I'm sorry, it's all my fault. I wasn't paying attention, and you got hurt..."
A section of the partitioning had broken and seawater was rushing in. The water was ice cold. The water volume increased mercilessly.
Her face contorted with pain. In agony, she labored for breath. There wasn't any time. Making up my mind, I dove into the water.I couldn't open my eyes. All I could do was search the bottom using my intuition.
(aaaaaAAAAGGGH! DAMN IT!!!)
Using all of my strength, I heaved up the large mass of metal sticking into Tsugumi's leg. Aided slightly by the buoyancy of the water, the metal hunk moved slightly. Tsugumi pulled her leg out at once.
The flooding wouldn't stop. The water level was already above my shoulders.
"You are...Such a stubborn idiot..."
"Shut up and just keep quiet."
With her leg injured, there was no way Tsugumi could swim. Holding onto her, I headed for the exit. But the door was already under water.
"Look, there's no way you can save me..."
"I told you to keep quiet!"
"......There's got to be another exit. I'll look for that."
"It'll be okay. We'll find a way out of this."
"There you go again, saying 'It'll be okay'...you're so irresponsible..."
"Would you keep quiet!?"
I probably could have forced open the door if I had tried, but it would have put the second floor in danger of flooding. I searched desperately for an emergency exit. My legs wouldn't touch the floor. I could hardly breathe. I was at my limit.
"Ah! There's a ladder! In the corner of the room, there's a ladder. We can use it to get to the emergency passage. We're going to make it, Tsugumi!!"
I set the injured Tsugumi down on the bed. She was no longer conscious. She'd lost so much blood. We had to take emergency measures immediately.
"Hey, what are we going to do!?"
"Get out of the way!!"
You, who'd been waiting in the room, pushed me out of the way. A tourniquet was taken out from a rack of medical instruments on the wall, and fastened around Tsugumi's thigh.
"This is bad..."
"What's the status? How bad is it? Can't we use that scanner to check it out?"
I pointed to the 'L-MRI.'
"It doesn't work. Sora already told us, it's broken!"
"Oh... yeah...Well, what can we do... what are we..."
"I'll have a look."
Sora put her hand on Tsugumi. A holographic window appeared in the air. A small sensor, or camera started moving on the ceiling.
"Well, this is just a bio scan, so I can't tell for certain, but...Her femur is fractured. And it looks like it might be compound. That and the artery is severed. She'll need sutures."
"I've stitched up my finger before. It was with a survival kit, but..."
"Well, You, do you think you can assist me?"
"I'll do my best! Do we have anesthetic?"
"I'll get it ready. The laser scalpel, forceps, and sutures ... everything we need is already in the room."
Sora moved the electric wagon, and used its robotic arm to gather the necessary surgical tools. You flipped up Tsugumi's skirt, and fearlessly plunged her hand into the wound.
"Takeshi!! You're in the way!"
You pointed angrily at the exit.
"Uh, yeah, sorry...take care of her, okay!"
"Leave it to me!"
You looked determined to show us all what she was capable of.
I set myself down on a nearby chair.
"Is Tsugumi going to be..."
Coco was holding onto Pipi, but looked as if she was having a hard time relaxing.
"You let them know right away so... she should be fine."
Coco's eyes were moist. It was hard to tell, but she had probably been crying moments earlier. Even still, she tried to smile.
"Hey, you think Tsugumi's...Tsugumi's...gonna be okay, right?"
Still looking worried, she tilted her head as she asked me.
"Yeah. She'll be fine. Absolutely okay...?"
Coco put her head on my shoulder. I held Coco close, and patted her head softly.
"She's going to be okay right? Right?"
Her body trembling, she asked me this over and over. I thought maybe she had been trying not to cry until that moment. Coco, head pressed against my chest started crying.
"Aaaagh, waaaaaah, waaaaah! Aaaagh, waaaaaah, waaaaah!"
Something interesting to note about Coco's route here: Even though we've seen some of these scenes before on our initial run-through of Takeshi's routes, the game doesn't allow us to use the skip function here. Seems silly but there are actually a lot differences, both big and small, between this update and the previously covered material in Day 2, Part 12 and Day 3, Part 1/2.