Part 32: stASis
This time, we're going to do the specific sequence of events to get a different outcome- unlike the theater, you must do it in this order to get this different branch- it's not as simple as just clicking on the exit door a few times. To start with, you have to look at the space inside the reactor.
BGM: Active Search
Maybe I could stop her from killing herself this way. I had to think about it, but I didn't have much time left. I was missing something vital to use for this.
This gives us the option to pick up something at the desks over on the left.
I glanced over to the mess on the side. Maybe one of these objects would come in handy. I stealthily picked one up, carrying it with me. Now, what could I have used this for? I didn't really have a plan, but this was the beginning of one.
...which lets us interact with the inner reactor again.
But then again, there was another way... I aimed the random object I took from the mess nearby directly at the button, then threw it in. However, as soon as it was inside, the reactor lit up and the object was instantly incinerated before it hit the mark.
What are you doing?
I tried throwing something inside to hit the button. Go figure, Smiley doesn't want us to bypass the choice we have to make.
She looked demoralized, but she vacated this spot. Damn! If I went for it again, I'd have to...
I only had one option, now. I went over to the open door as stealthily as I could. Unfortunately, Hannah noticed what I was doing.
Trying to slip into the reactor while I wouldn't see? That won't work!
Since I wasn't searching anything else, her attention had gone back to it. Crap, I fucked up! Now, she was on the move to cut me off from it!
No! You can't do this!
I still tried to stop her. But in the end, I failed. My arm reached for her, but she dodged it rather easily. Even if her steps were heavy, she could make quick calculations. She knew how much to move, how much to balance her weight. I was just a human... Wait, did she know that?
Maybe I could do something with it... Maybe I could lie to her. What if I told her I was a robot? Even if it was a lie, maybe I could catch her off-guard. That was my train of thought.
I can't stay idly by when someone comes to harm! It's part of my programming! Sorry!
And with that, she stepped forward, leaving me out of her decision. It was like the choice had been made for me.
BGM: Accelerated Scuffle
As if I had no free will of my own. All of those thoughts were secondary to the events unfolding before me, though. She had already slammed her hand onto the button in the reactor.
The door closed behind her, shutting herself off from me. She remained eerily silent past that. I could tell the girl was breaking down, watching her through the door. I slammed my fists against the window in the thick gate, but nothing I did changed anything. Her own hands lifted up to her head. Realizing the horror of what was to come, she held her own head in despair.
This was it. She dropped her arms down and turned around as the reactor slowly launched the stabilizing process. Even as the heat grew inside, she smiled at me. She reminded me of myself. No doubt, if I had been inside, I would've done similarly. Likewise, if she had been the one outside, she most likely would've panicked and tried to get me out, too. In that sense, we were not so different. It was in our nature to try to help in any way we could.
Her face haunted me the entire time she remained within.
I pulled away from the door due to the growing heat. My own behavior was reversely proportional to Hannah's stabilization. The more she abandoned herself to fate, the harder I fought against it. I still had to try something, even if I understood that I could do nothing but watch.
Horrific moments followed up on each other. Her fake hair fell down. Her flesh melted off the metallic components of her body. Even the metal turned into something akin to a bunch of molten parts. She was a robot. The fake person from the note- that was her. Yet, despite that, I didn't really think she was a killer, or a bad person, or anything like that. She was just as much someone as anyone else here.
Not anymore, of course. Now she was melted. Now she was dead. There was a high probability that she wasn't conscious anymore- if such a thing could be called consciousness. What was left of her was engulfed in a tornado of flames.
I was contemplating what to do. The quiet room grew on my nerves. I couldn't shed tears, I couldn't scream. All I could do was... live. All I could do was live for the remains of Hannah's melted body at the bottom of the little maintenance hatch. Encased into the metal was her collar. It looked... fine.
BGM: Abyssal Snarl
The blaring red alarm in front of the reactor had ceased its blinking and turned off. Just as it did, I released a breath I'd been holding for around a minute. Finally, everything caught up to me. Yet, despite my inherent and deep sadness, I couldn't bring myself to cry.
Instead, I was thinking about the perpetrator. Smiley. That was his fault. All of this was his fault. A rage was building up inside of me. To finally learn about Hannah and then have her die like this?! What would I tell G when I came out? Would she hate me? I'd be coming back without her sister. The next time I met her, I'd have to bring up the subject. It wasn't my fault.
Not only was I a coward deep inside, but I also didn't know what to say in this kind of situation. I felt like I wanted to run away more than ever before. I stood back up. When had I fallen to my knees? It must have been during my own growing despair. Everything that transpired had just been a blur.
The screen had turned on again. I only realized it at that moment. I must've missed some of what Smiley was talking about. It took me a second to calm down, as the rage against him was still strong in my head.
As he was talking, the plain wall separated between its two halves. The reactor stabilizing was causing it to open. I focused on Smiley, however. I wanted to make sure I'd burn his image into my head so I knew... No- so that no matter what, I would remember the person who destroyed our lives.
You are, yourself, free to go. The door with the nine will let you leave, provided you have what is required, of course. Otherwise, you will undergo termination in only a few minutes. If you have what is needed, you may proceed... But despite your success, mine will have been a horrendous failure. The MTS will get you.
Why would they get me? It's just a company set up to run the trains. There was also my other worry: I didn't have what was required to leave. If we needed to bring the ninth person here, Hannah wasn't it. Was I going to be terminated for that?!
BGM: Alarming Silence
That question echoed without an answer. Looking to find some, I finally paid attention to the back of the room. Something had opened there. I didn't feel quite ready to have a look at it. Instead, I looked around the room.
Alright, well, I'll save the back wall for last I guess. I'll start with the screen again, on the left side.
You're going to pay... one way or another.
Reactor itself is next.
This took away Hannah. It almost took all of us away.
Inside the reactor.
I couldn't go yet. I really wanted to, but... I just couldn't go.
And finally, the back wall.
I prepared myself. I couldn't bear to look at what was behind this for too long. The fact this wall had opened- was that meant to be some kind of reward? Was it my reward for standing idly by while Hannah melted away? I balled up my fists and clenched my teeth. Hannah...
I approached what seemed to be a set of some type of vats, in which... In which were eight people.
BGM: Anaphora Solution
Aligned were eight vats containing eight people. The bodies of each of them were floating in the greenish liquid. I recognized them, of course. They were us, in order of one to eight. We were held by cables, and each of us was wearing a mask like Smiley's. What did this mean...?
G was there. I was there. Marco, A, Hannah, Ray, E, and Jasmine... all of us were there. All of us were Smiley? What was this?! What the fuck?!
What the fuck?! What in the hell is this?!
I couldn't understand what I was seeing before me. I flattened my hands against the glass container that had me inside. Sure, I couldn't see our faces, but... these were definitely our bodies.
No, were those... the real ones?
BGM: Accelerated Scuffle
I screamed loudly, I screamed for a long time. I didn't want to know. Why was this so fucked?! I probably went into insanity at this moment. I couldn't see what I was doing, I couldn't hear what I was screaming, I couldn't pay attention to what I was hitting. I was punching walls. I was jumping up and down.
I needed to find a fucking way out of here. The number nine door was open. Quick. Get the fuck out. The fuck out. The fuck out. The fuck out. Out. Get out.