ahaha I accidentally sent this too early the first time
Sorry for taking so long in getting this installment out. I've been sick for the last week or so, and I really didn't have the energy to keep playing. Anyway, let's get the ball rolling, then, hm?
A challenger appears *
and tips the scale in favor of 7 + 2! Looks like Seven and Snake are gonna be our door-opening buddies.
Junpei: Snake, Seven... You think you could give me a hand here?
The pun was a little too on-the-nose, but the mood was still grim.
I get the feeling all of Junpei's puns fall under the 'on-the-nose' category.
Both Snake◊ and Seven◊ lifted their left hands silently. Slowly, each of them placed their hand on the scanner panel.
5 + 2 + 7 = 14 ? 1 + 4 = 
Again with the simple math. I figure they wouldn't give you a combination choice that didn't result in a digital root of 5, so is this really called for?
They'd fulfilled the conditions. If they were to pull the lever on the side...
Junpei: Are you guys ready? I'm gonna open it.
Junpei grabbed the lever and looked back over his shoulder. They stiffened and nodded. Junpei nodded back, and set his mouth in a grim line.
Then he slowly...
Do you really...
split it up...
There was a metallic groan, and the door slid open.◊ A breath of air drifted out of it, carrying a stench that nearly made them gag.
...I have a bad feeling about this.
Junpei grimaced and put a hand over his mouth.
Lotus: Oh my God...
Ace: Good God...
Lotus and Ace shuddered. Seven grunted.
Seven: Whoa... That's...pretty bad...
What? What's pretty bad? Oh man do I even want to know...?
Even Santa's voice shook.
Santa: He... blew up...
It appeared that Santa was right.
Wait, seriously. He blew up?
As in, exploded? Literally exploded?
The hallway on the other side of the door was splattered◊ with chunks of torn flesh and dark, red blood.
oh what in fuck
The shriek echoed across the room. It had come from June.
Then her strength left her and she dropped—
As Junpei turned to catch her, the door groaned shut. She crumpled to the floor.
A reasonable reaction, considering someone just fucking blew up.
I'd probably pass out, too.
Junpei: June! You okay?!
Junpei dropped to his knees and put his arm around her shoulders.
That was when he noticed◊... Her whole body was feverish. She was radiating intense heat...
Junpei: What the hell?! Where'd this fever come from?
Junpei, seriously. She just saw the corpse of a guy who blew up. *
. Let her get sick if she wants to.
June didn't answer.
Her face looked like wax, and her whole body began to shake.
Junpei: All right, let's just rest for a minute, okay? You think you can walk?
She nodded weakly.
Junpei lifted June to her feet, and guided her to a nearby chair.
Junpei: Here we go...
As gently as he could, he set her down in it.
Junpei: How are you feeling? Are you all right?
She nodded, and as she did, a single, huge tear rolled down the side of her face.
June: Why... Why did this happen...
Good question. Why DID this happen?
Her voice cracked, broken by misery and grief and choked by sobs.
June: Why did this happen...◊
Junpei spun around.
Junpei: Do any of you know what the fuck is going on here?! Who's Zero?! What's this "Nonary Game"!? C'mon! Anybody? Anything?! What the hell is going on?! What are we doing here?!
No one spoke.
Ace, Snake, Santa, Clover, Seven, and Lotus...
They simply stood there, 7 pairs of downcast eyes and 7 grim lines for mouths.
Junpei, quit harassing people. You're making this even more uncomfortable than it has to be.
June's body shook with silent sobs.
They slowed, as the minutes ticked by, and eventually they stopped. Then suddenly, in the cold, heavy silence that had enveloped them like a thick fog, a bell began to ring. The clock◊ in the central hall.
And then, on the 10th ring, it stopped. The sound of the bell faded away into silence.
Ace: It's 10 o'clock, then.
Ace said what each one of them had been thinking.
Seven: That means it's been an hour since Zero's little announcement.
Woah, already? I guess we did kill a lot of time exploring the other decks.
Seven's deep voice echoed across the room.
Santa: Fuck!◊ I've had enough of this crap!
Santa leapt to his feet, his fists clenched.
Santa: How long are we gonna pussyfoot around like this?!
Proving how immature I am, I giggled at this line. A lot.
Santa: We've only got 8 hours until this time limit Zero was going on about is up! Let's get goin' already! Go! Go!
Santa's outburst fell on deaf ears. No one seemed to agree with him. They stared back at him, their eyes blank and their faces tired.
A rousing speech! Too bad nobody cares.
Finally, Lotus spoke.
Lotus: No.◊ I refuse. I'm not going to end up like him.
Santa: ...Him? You mean the 9th Man?
Lotus: Of course. Who else?
In his mind's eye, Junpei saw the corpse again.
The dark, reddish-black pool of blood... The scattered pieces of flesh...
...He's not seriously gonna describe it, is he?
Organs strewn across the floor like the blossoming of a grotesque flower...
sweet sassy molassy he is damnit Junpei
The explosion that had torn through his body had been powerful. The 9th Man's neck had been twisted at an odd angle. Junpei suspected the detonation had thrown him against the wall.
Half of his face was crushed, and the other half was covered in blood. Most of his abdomen had been emptied, either by the explosion, or by gravity.
WHY DO YOU DO THIS WHYYYYYY
He had landed on his back, and stark white ribs jutted up out of his chest, like the legs of some sort of macabre crab.
Something hit it's weak spot for massive damage.
Junpei felt something flip in his stomach.
Yeah, recounting the horrific injuries of an exploded man will make you a little queasy.
Santa: I think he just... screwed up.◊
I'd say, considering he's dead now, that yeah, he messed up somewhere along the time. Santa's face during that line is so cute, though.
Eyebrows went up, and Santa continued.
Santa: He probably set off some sorta trap, and that killed him. I'm not gonna screw up like that! I'm gettin' outta here alive!
Snake: Hehe...hehe... Ahahahahahahaha!
Whatever Snake was laughing at, Santa did not find particularly humorous.
Santa: What's so goddamn funny!?◊
Snake: Oh, my apologies... You were just... So very confident! I couldn't help myself.
I don't care what he might be supposedly scheming, Snake is shaping up to be my favorite.
Santa: What the fuck!?
Snake: I think you've mistaken the situation.
Snake: The 9th Man's death. It had nothing to do with a trap. Or at least not the sort of trap you imagine it did.
Yes, do explain yourself! Answer my questions, magic man.
Snake: He broke one of Zero's rules.◊ That was why he died. Quite simple if you think about it.
Snake: You still don't...? All right. How about you take a moment, and think back to what Zero said. Specifically, what did he say about the number of people?
Santa: He said◊ "Only [3-5] people can pass through one numbered door." ...Right?
Look at Snake's face. He's displeased with Santa's shenanigans already.
Snake: And after that...? You've forgotten the relevant part. What did Zero say?
It's like he's coaching a child.
Santa furrowed his brow in thought.
THINK, BRAIN. WORK HARD. MAKE ME PROUD.
Junpei thought back...
<...that only 2 people could go through.>
<...that everyone who verified had to go.>
<...more than 6 people can go through.>
The answer is obvious, but should we answer it correctly, or say something stupid?