Part 37: pASsage
Last update was what you are locked into by default if you don't have the lock opened. This update, we see what lies behind the second locked route! When Simon begins to pick up on the fact that Jasmine's acting weird, he's unsure what to ask her about- this time, we're going to ask her about the chair instead.
BGM: Alarming Silence
I could tell she still wasn't all there. All the non-committal answers were pushing me towards one conclusion: whatever happened with the chair had been much more important than I thought. The atmosphere grew tense. The train was still not there. I needed to solve this issue before we went inside, because I wanted to save my friend. Whatever demon inhabited her head had to be purged somehow.
All I could do was speak to her, but about which topic? Two came to mind: directly confronting her about the chair, or obliquely bringing it up by talking about the key. Did she know something I didn't? Did I have courage to mention the chair directly? Was it just a better idea to talk about the key for other reasons?
BGM: Alarming Silence
I can't stay silent about this. Jasmine, you're worrying me.
I grabbed her wrist, pulling her away from the side of the station. The train arrived momentarily, but I didn't let her move forward when the doors opened.
Let go of me...
No. We need to talk. What happened to you earlier wasn't normal. We can wait for the train again after it goes. For now, we talk.
Talk about what? There's no time to talk. If we don't hurry, everyone will leave, and...
Let them, then! I don't want to keep shoving each other into horrible situations that could leave us worse than dead, Jasmine!
As I accused her, the train drove away, sensing no one nearby to take it as I'd pulled her back from her waiting spot. She weakly fought back against my hold, but I could tell her heart wasn't in it.
Let go... It didn't do anything...
I know what your favorite color is. It's blue, not green. I also know you're a great artist, so what happened with your eyes? You always seem to avoid situations with colors, don't you?
At the pool, there was a simple puzzle: put the colors of the rainbow in order, starting from green. You had me do it because you didn't want to. No, it's because you couldn't, right? In the infirmary, you were having issues with a simple color-based puzzle, too. Huh... in the infirmary? Wait...
I frowned, shaking my head. I'd never gone there. What was that about?
Forget that. Anyway, the point is, you're bad with colors, Jasmine! What's up with that? You suggested you weren't Jasmine, right? Then who... who the fuck are you?
She remained silent for a while. Her free hand reached into her clothing. I saw a glint of metal cutting through the air, and I let go of her to avoid it in extremis.
The movement she'd made with the knife destabilized her to such a degree she dropped it to the ground. I watched as she reached up to hold her head again, much like she'd done in the pool.
BGM: Ascertaining Speech
I'm a bad girl. I've done such terrible things. I've manipulated people, I've killed people, I've sent teenagers... teenagers, Simon! I've sent teenagers to their deaths! You wanna know who I am? I'm not Jasmine. I know that now. I have her memories, and those may be why I feel this remorse about my actions now.
But I don't want to be Jasmine, no matter how much better her memories were! Still, I understand your feelings on the matter, so if you call me Jasmine, I'll respond to it anyway... for now. And about the real Jasmine? I don't know where she is. She's not here. She might not be anywhere. I don't know.
She shook her head, shrugging at me afterwards. Then, she walked to a plated wall, leaning against it while I grabbed the knife. I looked at it for a moment, as if contemplating why it was here. I didn't know how to take all of this. This explained all the inconsistencies with Jasmine so far, but I wasn't satisfied. I wanted to know who she really was, not who she wasn't.
Jasmine! Not-Jasmine! I want to know who you are.
I lifted my head to stare at her.
So tell me.
My real name... the one that means more to me...
Jasmine bit on her lip, as if admitting it was like slashing her final remaining link to me. It was as if she was giving up on the remnants of the memories surrounding me.
When I sat in the machine, it unblocked my head. It removed the clouds, and now a sunny spring is in my mind. Or the imagined equivalent, anyway.
Some... scientists, or others, who wore lab coats and strange black suits underneath. Their suits glowed green. I don't know why they wore that, but it's what they had.
She sighed, closing her hands into fists. She released her hold, clearly feeling utterly powerless in the wake of those memories.
That's silly, right? I was replaced by an impostor and not a single person noticed. I replaced Jasmine, and no one noticed. I guess... all the memories of me working on something were fakes. Anyway... I have a sister to take care of, now.
She lifted her head to look at me. She looked so tired. I just wanted to grab her and hug her, but I refrained. I didn't know if I had the right anymore. Maybe if she had been Jasmine. But she wasn't. Where was Jasmine? Was she captured by those men, too? Was she being tortured as I spoke to this lookalike?
Do you know anything about where she is, then?
An individual is shaped by the things they know, remember, and live through. They're made of their surroundings. If someone lives surrounding by a nice, happy family, then they'll grow accordingly. If someone lives through struggle after struggle, they will adapt and grow experienced with those, but they will never gain the innocent, happy life from that family.
It was easier to accept than I anticipated when I brought up the subject of my doubts, even if I was still shaken by all this. This meant that Jasmine was, at least, still somewhere outside.
And you should move on, too. For that, we'll need this.
She reached back into her outfit. I grew cautious, knowing the last time she did so was to grab a weapon to try attacking me- a weapon which I now held, unsure of what to do with it. I put it in my pocket for now. All she took out was a key.
BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
I know what it's used for. It's for the gates.
She pointed at the gates in the darkness on the side of the station. With me, she walked over to it. I remained cautious, of course, and stayed outside until I heard the telltale click of a lock coming undone. A short moment later, Jasmine had opened the gate.
Are you coming in? Let's go.
I reluctantly entered the dark hallway. I didn't know what we'd find past this. After a brief walk, we found a brightly lit room. It was tiny.
BGM: Ambient Strain
Is this... does this go outside?
I think so. However...
She pressed one of the buttons. Nothing happened.
Maybe it doesn't work to leave. I think... this connects with the passage beyond the scanner gate above. If that's the case, then we can't stop at any level beyond the scanner gate, or the outside.
My sister is waiting.
The elevator moved. It didn't take very long, and we arrived at the level below. Two floors below our previous one. Most of this was out of my understanding- her sister was at a station altogether. What did this mean?
She led me out of there, giving me no choice. I entered the darkness, only to emerge from it moments later...
How is this possible? Jasmine, what do you know...?
I'll let you think about it while you wait here. If I'm right, then you'll see the twins coming out soon.
The twins?! But...
I'm going further in with the elevator. I'll come back momentarily.
And she vanished into the darkness again. What did this mean? Maybe the elevator wasn't moving up and down as I thought it was. Maybe it was moving sideways? If that was the case, it could move even faster than the train. Was it a teleportation device? No, that seemed even sillier. Aliens would've needed to invent that so we could use it. And there was none of that in this story. I contemplated what it really meant for a while.
BGM: Anaphora Solution
Jasmine emerged from the darkness again, this time running at me hurriedly.
Simon, the last station is weird. You really should go have a look.
There's no one there. I thought I'd see Marco and Ray, but there's nobody. Just go check floor -28. We're on floor -26 right now, for reference. The floor marked -27 would be the reactor, then, and -28 would be the station below it.
Wait, wait, wait. What do you mean? That doesn't work. That's not how an elevator works. It moves sideways, and...
No, you're wrong. You're the one who doesn't understand how elevators work, Simon. They don't move sideways. They move up and down.
But what about the train? We take the train every time... oh! That map...
Oval tree! That strange map... the map that doesn't fit in with the rest! It's an anagram! Oval tree stands for elevator! Wait... do you mean that... The elevator map was actually situated on both ends of the station...
...and rotating it to fit the maps? Each station has either an exit in the upper left or lower right corners... .which means that if you rotate all of them, they all end up with the same goddamn elevator.
Yes, that's correct. That's an elevator we're taking, because each station is like a sandwich. In fact, this entire thing is an enormous, gigantic sandwich. Each deck station on which we wait for the train is a slice of bread, and each station with some kind of active search area is one of the many meats between the slices of bread.
A little, yeah...
It's pressure. The ambient pressure is squeezing us. That's why you're having that headache.
But wait... this means the elevators would need to lift or lower the train and also make it rotate. That's monstrous!
I think we're against something bigger than we could've ever imagined.
We remained quiet for a few moments in the light of these discoveries.
Anyway, since you're not going down there, I'll just let you know what's there...
BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
A long, awkward moment passed by, until I cleared my throat.
Jasmine finally moved forward towards the twins. She took several long-winded moments to explain everything to them. I didn't feel like I had the right to intrude on it, so I waited aside for it to be over. Once all was said and done, Jasmine came by me again.
BGM: Android Sorrow
It was difficult for me to imagine how the conversation had gone down. I hadn't paid attention to it, to give them the privacy they deserved- or at least, as much as they'd get in here. From what I could see, Hannah had accepted not-Jasmine's words as truth. Perhaps she'd felt similarly, in the end.
If you're leaving, what does that do for us? Couldn't we just use the elevator to do so?
No. The button that goes to the ground floor- floor 0- doesn't work. I assume we have to take the elevator from one of the scanner gates instead. Otherwise, we don't have access to it. That must be to ensure we solve this game the proper way. Stupid fucking game...
And about the station below... What were you going to say earlier?
That ninth person business- it's a farce.
I looked over at Hannah. For a split second, I thought it might have been the twin, but she shook her head.
She's right. There's no ninth person as far as we've found. Maybe there isn't one at all. There may have not been one... so it comes down to this.
I know how to leave, anyway.
Wait, what is it?
Before I answer that, I want to know... what's your collar number again?
I wondered what that had to do with it.
It's... two. Yours is eight, right?
Wait, you're going to leave even if you know it might lock us out?
What do you want me to do, Simon? I can't leave with you. None of us here can. If you leave, maybe we'll be locked out.
Maybe all of us three would be.
Isn't that unfair, too?
I had to admit she did make a point. Maybe... if the doors only opened for two of us, as Smiley had emphasized, maybe the two who should escape needed to be Jasmine and G. No, the real Hannah and her sister.
Okay. I'll stay out, then. I know if I enter after you both, everyone will be penalized.
The pink-haired girl I once thought was my childhood friend smiled at me, one last time. Was this the last I'd ever see of Jasmine?
Thanks for your help, but now... I have a sister to take care of, as I told you. You take care too, okay? I'll try to help from the outside in any way I can. Feel free to use the knife to defend yourself if you need to do so. Or give it to Hannah, if she needs it more than you do. Whatever you do with it is up to you, now.
In some fashion, I felt as though I'd been betrayed when she left the area with G. Did I have any chances of escaping now? As she disappeared with her sister, I wondered about this fate. Perhaps it was better this way. It was like Jasmine herself gave me the task to find her. A mission, given by her. What else would I have to sacrifice to make it happen, though?
BGM: Ambient Strain
I turned around to face Hannah again.
It's the only name I ever had. But now... I don't really know what to do. There's no place for me here. I'll stick around and help you, if you'll have me.
There's got to be another way to escape from here.
Well... we could always investigate the lower station, and if it doesn't bring us anywhere new, we can try to climb up the elevator shaft from the highest possible station. That way, we could emerge from the doors at the top, and escape while avoiding Smiley's game.
Seems sensible. Speaking of, has Jasmine... or the real Hannah, told you what I was?
No. Is it relevant?
She flexed a little. I couldn't help but break some kind of sad smile at the sight.
Alright. Then you'll protect me. It's dangerous to go alone, so take this.
I gave her my sword- the knife I'd had before. She held it for a moment, before stuffing it in her pants, keeping it ready when needed.
Oh, right. We might need that key Jasmine had. Damn!
The girl took it out, showing it to me as if to prove her words. I nodded, and set off towards the darkness in the hallway. She followed me, and we both entered the elevator. Once inside, I pressed on the button to go down. It began moving.
It's strange to think that all this time, we've been moving up and down instead of sideways like we thought. Where do you think we are for real? This isn't the metro.
Maybe we're under it. Where? I don't know. Does it matter? I'm not sure. As long as we can leave, somehow...
The elevator stopped. I left it, and emerged back into the station- this time on floor -28, as I acted on what not-Jasmine had suggested.
Marco and Ray were both taking their sweet-ass time solving this room.
BGM: Abyssal Snarl
I turned around and looked at this side. What not-Jasmine-but-really-Hannah said was true: the door was open, and beyond was a lobby with a flight of stairs.
What's in here?
I was apprehensive about entering this place, because if it would detect me as a third party and kill Marco, Ray, and me, I wouldn't forgive myself. I told Hannah, and she took out the maps to check what it looked like on the reactor floor. Only one flight of stairs connected to it. Unlike all the other stations, there was no second set of stairs. Wait... The theater station also didn't have two flights of stairs. Could it be...?
I have a hunch, but I need to go inside to make sure. Want to come with?
We entered the lobby. The door did not close behind us. I realized there was no way we could've gotten to this side of the station without using the elevator, or moving across the rails, too. I thought about it as we ascended.
It couldn't get here, because it was the station the train started at in our metro system. The same was for the upper area- the one with the theater. It was the station the train would be at when it came from the other side. As I thought about all of this, the stairs continued. There were more stairs than I ever thought was possible. Despite that, I hardly felt tired. Maybe it was my adrenaline at work.
Finally, we reached... a lobby. We quickly stepped outside.
BGM: Anaphora Solution
The one from the reactor connects to this one? Which one is this?
We're at the theater- the absolute top. I think it's floor -2. After that is the theater itself, or floor -1, and finally, right above it is floor 0... or the metro itself.
That makes sense. But these staircases only connect both ends of the metro tower. We can't use them to escape.
Then we might as well take the elevator and unlock all the gates, so we can freely move without using the train. We should meet with the others in the lounge, too.
Good plan. Let's do this.
As we moved forward again, I froze in sudden shock. I realized something horrible. Hannah disregarded me, and continued on. I couldn't move, though.
BGM: Alarming Silence
All this time, there had been one single exit. This confirmed what I'd feared earlier: Smiley said two of us could leave. He didn't say two of us (and then everyone else when the ninth person came to get them again) could leave.
For some reason... I didn't think about this before too much. We really are stuck here, huh?
I laughed sadly for a little bit. When I stopped, I realized Hannah had gone on ahead without me. I thought she would've waited, but she didn't.
Well. I guess I'll go search for her.
I shook my head, having no goal anymore as I called for the elevator. Since Hannah was using it a lot, it took a while to get to me.
Hannah? Let's continue going down and unlocking all of them.
BGM: Alarming Silence
As I emerged from the darkness, I hit my foot on something. It was Hannah's head.
BGM: Alarming Situation
It wasn't attached to Hannah's body anymore. It was sliced right off. Her collar had activated for reasons beyond my understanding. It was also gone.
Oh no... What happened there? Did someone do this?
The figure that ran away came to mind. Someone had, then. I looked around her body, but the key to unlock the elevator was missing, and so was the knife.
Turning her body over, I noticed there was a stab in her chest, too. Why was this stab there, if the collar had been triggered?
This doesn't add up... The knife's missing, the key's missing, and the collar's missing. Why?
I stood back up and walked back into the darkness. I thought maybe I was frighteningly emotionless when faced with the fact someone died. Truth be told... I guess I just couldn't bring myself to care about anything now that I knew I was most likely stuck here forever.
I didn't really know where I was going, but I was going somewhere. I didn't have the key, so I couldn't go down, only up. Certainly, the person who had the key, the knife, and Hannah's collar knew this. When I came upon the station above the previous one, I readied myself for the possible attacker. I could already eliminate two suspects, at least.
The other suspect I could eliminate was E, which left only Marco and Ray. Why could I have done so? Because she was holding her bloodied body while sitting against the bottom of a wall. I rushed to her.
BGM: Android Sorrow
Who... who's there?
She coughed. I couldn't do anything for her, as I watched her. I took her hand in mine, but as soon as I pulled it away from her, I realized how bad the damage was. There was so much blood. I could hardly stand the sight. Everything was blood.
I don't... I don't think I'm gonna live... I'm just going to die... like that...
She coughed again. I'd never felt more powerless than this, but it was my duty to listen to her final words at the very least. I didn't know where it was bleeding, and I didn't know how to stop the bleeding. I wanted to help, but I couldn't. The worst of all...
I see... so it's coming back for me now... ironic... but listen, listen carefully... I don't know why I'm telling you this, but I have a feeling I must... I must, because it's the only... the only time I can do so... so listen... listen...
She was growing weaker. I tried to urge her not to say anything else, but I didn't know how to. Whatever I said, she wouldn't hear. Whatever I did, she wouldn't see. All I could do was listen.
BGM: Abyssal Snarl
She stopped moving right after saying this. What did she mean by the first letter? The first letter of her name? The first letter of what? After she was terminated, I could check her body for the wound better. She'd grown so stiff so quickly, though. It made the job a little harder than I thought.
Judging by the trail of blood coming down from the wall, I could deduce whoever did this had a gun. The trails coming down were similar to what it would look like if someone shot through a body. I'd seen enough of this in movies and games to know what it looked like.
What the hell...
If someone was still armed, they'd be a problem. But why would they have grabbed the knife from Hannah, then? A gun was way better.
I couldn't turn around to see them. All I could do was fall down to the ground in silence. Ah, that's why. The knife was silent. The gun, not so much. That must've been why they grabbed it from the twin, then. I was only another victim to them. Whoever it was, they had to pay. Even if I couldn't make them pay, I hoped someone else would.
BGM: Agnostic Shutdown