Let’s Play 999 feat. NekoJonez – Part 3 – The Doors (not the band… like, some actual doors. Y’know.)

Welcome back. We’re playing 999, and we have a decision to make.

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First, though, let’s remind ourselves of two things:

Firstly, normal-looking text is me and bold text is Jonez!

Secondly, coloured text is our lovely cast of characters, so let’s quickly recap who all the characters are, in the form of a rap. Lay me down a sick beat, Jonez!

*terrible beatboxing*

Well, instead of failing at beatboxing… here is a music cue for this article. 

One! That’s Ace! He’s kind of old!
Two is Snake! He’s blind, not bald!
Three is Santa! His swearing’s never over!
Four’s got pink hair and her name is Clover!
Five is Junpei, and he’s our man!
Six is June, who Junpei wants to bang!
Seven is Seven, whose code name is the best!
Eight is Lotus, with massive… jewels.
And Nine was the Ninth Man, who’s super dead!
That’s our cast, so get them in your head!
*mic drop*

Right, we’re up to speed. Now, then. Decision time.

Now, I could ask Jonez. I could do a poll. I could… I dunno. Anything to maintain some semblance that I’m not just picking arbitrarily.

But, y’know, if there’s one thing I do remember about this game it’s that I’ll have to play every possible route at some point to get all the endings, so it doesn’t really matter who I pick first. Jonez, who would you suggest picking?

Well, honestly… very minor spoiler here. While some events DO matter, as in which ending you will get, this decision isn’t one of them. In my playthrough, I picked Snake and Seven. Since, at that point I didn’t trust Seven. 

I think I was leaning towards going with Snake and Seven anyway, because they’re the least interesting pair to me. Junpei already knows June, so there’s probably some interesting backstory, plus Santa’s pretty sweary and fun; Ace and Lotus are kind of mysterious and badass-seeming; I don’t really know anything about Snake and Seven. So, since I’ll have to do them all at some point, I’m saving the interesting-seeming ones until later and doing this pair of weirdos first.

Oh, yeah, and I did in fact change the spoken language to Japanese, and I like it a lot better. It may well just be because I’m a giant weeb.

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.
Both Snake and Seven lifted their left hands silently.
Slowly, each of them placed their hand on the scanner panel.
5 + 2 + 7 = 14
The digital root of 14… 1 + 4 = [5]
They’d fulfilled the conditions.
If they were to pull the lever on the side…)

(Lotus and Ace shuddered.
Seven grunted.)

Seven: Whoa… That’s…pretty bad…

(Even Santa’s voice shook.)

Santa: He…he blew up…

Santa is, of course, completely correct. We don’t get to see the details, but the 9th Man’s body is… pretty rekt.

So, the game will continue with 8 players. So, just a fair warning now. If you are easily scared or have a bad stomach, this might not be the first moment that something like this happens. 

June: Aaaaaiiiii!

(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.)

Junpei: June! You okay?!

I’m surprised and impressed that Junpei remembered in the heat of the moment to use her code name, but then he had apparently completely forgotten who she was until a few minutes ago.

Also notice that the door closed, suggesting that we have a time limit on how long we’ve got to get everyone through it after pulling the lever. I don’t suppose it’s a problem if nobody goes through, but if just one of the three to five people required goes through, then the door closes… well, the 9th Man did just that.

Honestly, why did Clover survive? Didn’t all bracelets which have been scanned, needed to be deactivated after 81 seconds to avoid the bomb? Or did I miss something? I don’t remember if this got explained or not. 

Jonez, you’re jumping ahead! We haven’t got to that part of the rules yet ,you spoilery neko. We’ll be getting to how that all works just a little bit further along in this post, fear not.

(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?
June: …

June’s not doing so good, so Junpei sticks her in a chair. She is, perhaps understandably, a little bit disturbed by a dude exploding.

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?!

All extremely reasonable questions under the circumstances, I think. Nobody says anything until the sound of the clock bonging ten times breaks through the silence.

Seven: That means it’s been an hour since Zero’s little announcement.

(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?! 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.
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…
Organs strewn across the floor like the blossoming of a grotesque flower…
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.
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.
Junpei felt something flip in his stomach.)

G-ross.

Santa: I think he just…screwed up.

(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.

Santa: What the fuck!?
Snake: I think you’ve mistaken the situation.
Santa: Huh?
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.

Snake reminds us all of Zero’s rules, specifically the parts about three to five people being needed to open the doors.

(Santa furrowed his brow in thought.
Junpei thought back…)

We know the answer to this one, since we’re keeping on top of the rules like good citizens.

Snake: That is correct. A gold star for you, Junpei.

Yussssss.

Snake: The 9th Man, however, broke that rule. He tried to pass through a numbered door by himself. That was why he was executed.
Seven: Then Zero’s watchin’ us from somewhere… Makin’ sure we don’t break any rules…
Snake: Oh, I’m not so sure of that.
Seven: Why not?
Snake: Because this execution system is entirely automatic. You didn’t notice? There’s no need for him to monitor us.
Seven: Wadda you mean?

(Snake looked at Seven with what could only be described as pity and sighed.)

Snake: Very well. I see it must be me who tells you. I’ve waited long enough, I suppose. I had hoped Zero might spare me the trouble, but… That seems increasingly unlikely.

Snake reveals that he has a card in his pocket: it gets passed around, and everyone takes a look and expresses their confusion in that way that characters do when everyone in a room’s reacting to the same thing in short order.

The card went from Seven to Lotus, from Lotus to June, and finally to Junpei.
He looked at it, and understood.

Junpei: This is braille.

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(Braille. The written language of the blind.
The card was covered with small, embossed bumps.
Junpei could recognize it, but he certainly couldn’t read it.)

Like the rest of us, Snake got a letter. His, however, has slightly different contents.

Snake: “Bracelet number (2)… Since you are not blessed with sight, I shall bless you–and only you–with information. I shall tell you of the function of the RED, of the DEAD, and of the bracelet.”

Zero’s words follow. They’re a bit lengthy, but important for the rules of the game, so we’ll recap them in a minute.

Zero: The [RED] is the Recognition Device.
It will verify your number.
Beside every numbered door, you will find a RED.
The [DEAD] is the Deactivation Device.
It does exactly what it says.
Once you have passed through the numbered door, you must use the DEAD to stop the [detonator] in your bracelet.
But perhaps you are wondering… What does this detonator detonate? I am afraid this may be something of a surprise.
I have placed a [small bomb] inside of you, and the people whom you are about to meet.

More people? Interesting…

Zero: You swallowed it while you were unconscious. I have no doubt that by the time you read this note, the bomb will have passed your stomach and found its way to your small intestine. In other words, you will be unable to regurgitate it. I suggest you do not try.
As I mentioned before, the bracelet on your left hand contains a detonator. Think of it as a remote fuse, or [timer], for the bomb in your body. There is only 1 condition which will cause it to detonate.
That condition is that you enter a numbered door.
Once you have done so, the timer will activate, no matter who you may be. You will have [81 seconds]. If, after that time, the detonator has not been deactivated, it will send a signal to the bomb in your body, instructing it to explode. In order to deactivate the detonator, [every person who verified their number at the RED] must also verify their numbers at the DEAD. Once all numbers have been verified by the DEAD, you need only pull the lever
at its side, and the countdown will cease.
Anyone who does not verify their number at the RED will find themselves unable to verify their number at the DEAD.

Zero: That is to say, if you should pass through a numbered door without first verifying your number at the RED, in 81 seconds you will be dead. You must also keep in mind that the numbered doors will close automatically after [9 seconds] have passed.
So long as the door is open, the DEAD will not function. You would do well to remember this.
Lastly, let us discuss [how to remove the bracelets].
There are only 2 ways to do so.
One: You escape from this ship.
Two: Your heart rate reaches zero.
In other words, once the bracelet is taken outside the confines of the ship, or detects that its wearer’s heartbeat has fallen to zero, it will shut down automatically.
There is no other way to remove your bracelet.
If you attempt to force it off, or disable the detonator, the bomb within you will immediately explode.

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Snake: “This is all the information which I can impart to you. How you choose to use it is for you to decide. If used wisely, you can eliminate those who might be a danger to you. For a time, you would be able to control your fate. I wish you the best of luck.”

Eliminate? Well, that suggests we’re going to have to do a bit of… tactical murdering.

(Snake finished reading, and carefully returned the card to his pocket.
The message had been lengthy, but its meaning was clear.
[Only those who verified their numbers at the RED could pass through the
numbered doors].
Teams could not increase or decrease their numbers.
The [REDs], [DEADs], and [bracelets] enforced the rules. They were judge, jury,
and executioner.)

(In defiance of Zero’s suggestions, both Santa and Seven put fingers down their
throats and began to gag.
The rest stiffened. Some touched their stomachs–some simply stared at their
bracelets.
Junpei gingerly touched his stomach.
There was a bomb inside his body. The thought of it made him queasy.
His stomach felt oddly hollow, and his legs were weak.
Why had Zero designed such a ludicrous game?
Junpei looked over at the others.)

Okay, so hopefully that’s clear enough, but one more time for fun!

To go through a numbered door, we need between three and five people whose bracelets have a digital root equal to the number on the door. Each person has to register their bracelet on the RED outside the door before it opens. They’ve then got nine seconds to go through the door before it closes, and eighty-one seconds after that to register their bracelets again on the DEAD inside the door. Everyone who registers on the RED has to register on the DEAD, otherwise anyone who’s passed through the door will blow up. (Plus, anyone who didn’t register on the RED won’t be able to use the DEAD and will also therefore blow up.)

Again, why did Clover survive after being scanned with the 9th Man? I seriously think there is a plot hole here! … Wait… Oh dear. This is what happens if you don’t read every rule carefully. “There is only 1 condition which will cause it to detonate.
That condition is that you enter a numbered door.  Once you have done so, the timer will activate, no matter who you may be. You will have [81 seconds].” Oh dear. I did overlook something. Well, this Let’s Play answered a question of mine I had. Neat. 

Aaaaand there we go. Clover didn’t blow up because she didn’t go through the door. Problem solved! I wonder whether we might later use this to our advantage by scanning along with someone else, but then pushing them through the door and just waiting for them to explode…

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If we want to get these bracelets off, we have to escape or die. Good stuff.

Junpei: All right, I’m gonna ask one more time. Do any of you know anything about Zero?

They were all silent, each person waiting to hear what the others would say.
Finally, Santa spoke.

Santa: Actually, I…I saw him. I saw Zero when I got grabbed. I didn’t see his face, though… Son of a bitch was wearing some kinda gas mask.

Santa: …What the hell? C’mon guys, gimme something… You know, like…surprise or something…

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(Instead, it was Santa who looked surprised. There was a moment of silence, and then everyone spoke at once.
“Yeah, I saw him too!” “Me too!” “He was wearing a gas mask…”
As stories were sorted out, the truth became clear:
All of their stories were the same. They had been abducted at home, at midnight. The person claiming to be Zero had worn a mask. There had been white smoke, and then each person had passed out.
When they awoke, they had found themselves on D Deck, in a room with a 3-level bunk bed.
Only Seven’s story seemed to lack the detail of the others.)

Seven: Oh… Me…? Yeah, well, mine was just like the rest’a yours…

(That was all he had said.
It had occurred to Junpei at the time that it sounded somewhat strange, but he didn’t press the issue. He hadn’t done so, because there was something that struck him as even
stranger. That was the mystery of the relationship between Snake and Clover.
For some reason, they had been abducted from the same room, and woken up in the
same room.
Junpei looked at them, thoughtfully.)

So everybody has the same story, except for Seven. Well, sort of. It’s weird that Seven didn’t just make up the details, since he had them all from everyone else’s stories! Definitely fishy, so we’ll have to remember that Seven might not have got here in the same way as everyone else. Onto Clover and Snake…

Junpei: So what’s the deal with the 2 of you, anyway?

(It was Clover that answered.
Clearly, she felt she had nothing to hide.)

Clover: We’re siblings.
Junpei: Siblings!?
Clover: Uh…yes? Snake is my older brother, obviously. That means I’m his little sister. That really so hard to understand?

Interesting. That makes two pairs of Nonary Game participants who already know each other: Snake and Clover are siblings, while June and Junpei knew each other as kids. Wonder if there are any other pre-existing relationships that might become apparent? It doesn’t seem as if the Ninth Man knew any of them, since nobody was noticeably more distressed than anyone else at his exploding-ness.

(Junpei was taken aback.
The others seemed just as surprised.)

Snake: She is correct, of course.

(He laid his hand on Clover’s shoulder.)

Snake: Are you…surprised?
Seven: Well, yeah, but…
Snake: Why? There are other people here with connections to one another. Those 2, for instance…

(Snake pointed at Junpei and June.)

Ah, I’m not the only one who’s spotted this! Perhaps some juicy backstory might start coming out now…

Honestly, I don’t consider “Junpy” as a sort of nickname. Since it’s almost spelled and said the same way as the real full name. Nitpicky Jonez is active again. Anyways, backstory time! 

Yeah, it sounds even more similar in the Japanese.

June: Oh, you mean between Jumpy and me…?
Ace: Ah, yes. You did say you were childhood friends, didn’t you.
Lotus: You went to school together?
June: Y-Yeah…

(June glanced at Junpei, uncomfortable with the sudden attention.
Junpei felt somewhat nervous as well, and tried to scratch his head as casually as possible.)

Santa: Hey… You think maybe we could figure out who Zero is this way?
Seven: Yeah, you’re right. You connect the dots between the victims, and that leads you to the perp. Textbook stuff.

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I said before that Seven’s very quick suggestion of using code names suggested that he might be ex-military or something. I’m thinking from this stuff about victims and perps that he probably is – or perhaps was, since he’s wearing what looks like fishing gear – a police officer. Maybe this is like Saw II and everyone else there knows someone who got arrested by Seven at some point.

Lotus: Junpei, June, does any of this ring a bell?
Junpei: Ring a bell…
June: Ring a bell…?

(They looked at one another.
And like it was staged, they both tilted their neck at the same time.)

I suspect that it would actually be possible to work out who Zero was if we knew exactly what the deal was with every person present, what they were doing there and who their enemies were. Unfortunately, we don’t know that stuff, which is sort of the point of a mystery story. I don’t know yet whether I think it’s likely that one of the people in the Game actually is Zero, which seems plausible, but we’ll have to keep going and see. Much as I love hypothesising and trying to work out the mysteries, we don’t have enough information yet to be able to get close to the truth.

For me, this Let’s Play is just a great trip through memory lane. A trip through an amazing story with a friend. I already finished the trilogy, but Chris (OverThinker) here has not. But during my first playthrough, I also tried to figure out who Zero was. And let me tell you, I was wrong, twice. The story is that well written.

Lotus: Well, perhaps you went to school with the son of a multi-millionaire…
June: A millionaire…?
Junpei: Son…?
Lotus: Well, someone bought this boat, and set up all of…this. Whoever Zero is, they must be incredibly rich.
Ace: Well, we can’t be sure of that. To me, this seems as though it’s the work of an organization, not an individual. Zero is most likely simply the representative of a larger group.
Seven: What sort of organization?
Ace: It could be a number of things. An army, perhaps, or a research group. Perhaps this is all some sort of psychological experiment.
Santa: If it is, then it’s a pretty fucked up experiment! I mean, c’mon! A guy’s dead!

(The word “dead” hung in the air, heavy and ominous.
The room went quiet again.)

The gang keep bickering until a whole hour and a half of their time has passed, which seems kind of dumb, but I guess it’s a crazy situation.

They got their confirmation that Zero isn’t joking around. They saw the 9th Man just do … well, stuff. 

Santa: Man… Look we only got 7.5 hours left, okay? You really sure you want to just sit around?

(No one was willing to argue this time.)

Much as nobody’s really happy about it, the group decide that the best thing to do is going to be following the rules and playing the game. There’s no real alternative, so we all just need to try to not break any rules and subsequently explode.

So who’s going through which door?

(June looked toward the numbered doors.)

Junpei: Oh yeah… That’s right. We can’t have any more than 5 people in one
door. All 8 of us can’t go in the same door…
Ace: Then it would seem we will have to split up.
Lotus: W-Wait!

(Lotus looked terrified.)

Lotus: I’m telling you now, there is no way in hell that I’m going into door
[5]!
Ace: Come now, don’t be selfish–
Lotus: Call me whatever the hell you want, I’m not going in there! If I’m going to have to walk through all that blood, then I’d rather stay here!
Ace: *Sigh* And we were doing so well…

Wow, Ace, don’t be a dick. I’ve got to admit, though, I am a little bit surprised that Lotus is so freaked out. She seemed pretty badass. (I mean, in real life I definitely wouldn’t be surprised at anyone being disturbed by an exploded body, but this is Game World, where people escape death by a hair and don’t even flinch.)

(Ace shook his head sadly.)

Santa: Sorry, but I ain’t goin’ in there either. Someone else can go into door [5].
Ace: Oh, Santa, not you too…
Santa: Hey man, I just bought these shoes. If you think I’m getting some creepy dude’s blood all over ’em, you got another think comin’.

(That was the last straw.)

Junpei: What the hell, man?! Weren’t you the one who kept saying we should get going!?
Santa: Yeah? So? Doesn’t mean I wanted to go into door [5].

(There was an awkward silence.
Finally Seven spoke.)

Seven: Fine. I’ll go into door [5]. I can’t go in there alone, though. Anyone else willing to come with me?

Huh. I guess my decision earlier to take Snake and Seven was actually totally meaningless, since everyone else is now deciding among themselves. Snake puts himself forward; Clover won’t let him go without her, which presents an issue as to how they’re going to get the digital root thing to work. Fortunately, Good Guy Ace is on hand!

(Ace stepped forward.)

Ace: If I join you, the problem is solved, correct? Seven is (7) and Snake is (2). And if you add Clover’s (4) and my (1), the digital root will be [5].

7 + 2 + 4 + 1 = 14
1 + 4 = [5]

Clover: Oh! It works perfectly! The 4 of us can go into door [5]–
Seven: Wait. What about the other 4? What’s their digital root gonna be?

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(Junpei did a quick mental calculation. Lotus, Santa, June, and Junpei remained. Their bracelet numbers were (8), (3), (6), and (5).)

Er… hang on, I wanna work this out. 8 + 3 + 6 + 5 is… er… 11… 17… 22. Plus, subtract… carry the one… long division… 4. Pretty sure it’s 4. Hey, that’s convenient – the other door’s numbered 4, right? So we’ve got two groups of four who can each go through a door quite tidily.

Oh, wait, there’s a calculator with a digital root function that I could have used to make this much easier. Oh, well.

Junpei: It’s [4]. Add up our 4 bracelet numbers, and the digital root is [4].
June: Then we can go into door [4].
Santa: Yeah. Huh, that worked out well.

That is convenient. Thinking about it, though, the Ninth Man wouldn’t have affected the teams, because adding 9 to anything doesn’t alter the digital root. Like, 32 has a digital root of 5 and so does 41. Adding 9 raises the first digit by 1 and lowers the second by 1, so it evens out. (It probably stops working after 100, but we’d never get that high.) If the Ninth Man were still here, he’d just add himself to one of these teams no problem.

(Junpei ran over the team assignments in his head one more time.
4 people would go into door [5]:
Seven, Snake, Clover, and Ace.
4 people would go into door [4]:
Lotus, Santa, June, and Junpei.)

(Junpei had to ask himself if the teams were what he really wanted.
Beyond door [5] was what remained of the 9th Man.
He never wanted to see that…thing again, but… Something in him said it would be unwise not to examine the corpse even a little closer.
Of course, if he went through door [5], he wouldn’t be going with Lotus and Santa. True, it would be possible for him to bring June with him through door [5], but that would mean she would have to see the horrific carnage that waited there. Junpei didn’t want that.
Junpei was torn.)

(Should he stay silent, and go through door [4]?
Or should he stop them all, and insist on door [5]?
As he turned his options over and over in his mind, Ace spoke up.)

Ace: All right then… It seems we’ve reached a conclusion. Shall we go?

(He began to walk toward door [5]…
Clover and Snake followed, with Seven a short distance behind.
Junpei…)

I don’t understand what Junpei’s having a hard time with. Door 5 is the shit option no matter how you look at it, because there’s a boom-boomed corpse in there which June would have to walk past, whereas if we go through Door 4 we neither have to see what’s left of the Ninth Man nor force June to see it. The only reason he’s thinking 5 might be a good choice is some vague instinct that maybe he should check the corpse, and frankly I think Seven’s a better choice to be searching bodies.

Also, if I speak up now and be like ‘hey, bitches, let’s totally not do what we all just agreed on and shake things up a bit’, they’re all going to be pissed off with Junpei, and I can’t be arsed with having people hate me this early.

I’m going through Door 4.

(Junpei…)

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(… decided that door [4] would be fine.
He would go through door [4] with Lotus, Santa, and June.
Why had Junpei even considered doing otherwise?
He would be there for June… For Akane Kurashiki. That seemed good. He felt it was the right choice to make. He made no shows of affection, but Junpei saw her as something more than just a friend from his childhood.)

(He watched the other 4 walk toward their door…
Ace, Snake, Clover, and Seven…
Junpei said nothing as they left. Before long, they had reached door [5]. They talked to one another for a few seconds, saying things Junpei couldn’t hear, and then laid their hands, one by one, on the scanner panel of the RED.
Ace grabbed the lever.
His face tight with determination, he turned over his shoulder to look at Junpei and his companions.)

Ace: Goodbye.
Lotus: …Be careful.

(As Ace pulled the lever, the door swung open; the mouth of a great, hungry beast.
Beyond the door, Junpei knew, lay the sad remains of the [9th Man]… It did not surprise him that Ace, Clover, and Seven hesitated. The body was not a pleasant thing.
Snake had no such problems, as his blindness made him immune to the horror. He stepped through the door, his feet making a wet “splack” in the pool of blood.)

I would have thought it must still smell pretty bad, surely?

Snake: Do you intend to kill me? I assume you haven’t forgotten the door only remains open for 9 seconds, have you?

(Snake had not even bothered to turn around, but the other 3 steeled themselves, and stepped through the door.
Door [5] swung shut, closing with the heavy finality of metal upon metal.
Junpei and his companions scrambled to the door.
They pressed their ears to it, in an attempt to hear what might be taking place on the other side.)

Snake’s pretty badass, man. Maybe we should have gone with him after all. We listen in on the guys who went through the door, hearing a beeping sound, but luckily they manage to find the DEAD pretty quickly and thus prevent themselves from becoming… well, dead.

(The sighs of relief were audible even through the heavy door.)

Seven: Phew… Looks like it stopped.

Clover lets us know that the DEAD is just like the RED, except it’s blue instead of red. Get it in yo head. Don’t get dead. No need for dread, don’t go to bed, ride your sled. And so on.

(Junpei and the others left door [5] and headed toward door [4].
They stood in front of the RED and placed each of their hands upon it.
4 asterisks appeared on the screen.
Junpei grabbed the lever and turned around.)

With great aplomb and a hefty degree of apprehension, our group opens the door and piles through. Our bracelets start beeping, as we knew they would.

(In the center of each bracelet, a red skull appeared, and began to flash.
The detonator’s countdown had begun!
In the long moment that each of them spent staring at their wrists…
…The numbered door behind them closed, the sound of metal on metal reverberating down the hallway. There was no way back now. They were committed. If they could not find the device to deactivate their detonators…)

Santa: Hey! Where the hell is the DEAD!?
Lotus: How would I know!?
Santa: Don’t gimme that crap! Start looking!
Lotus: I already am!

We start sprinting down the hallway, which according to the narration clocks in at the stupid length of at least three hundred feet. On each side are a series of wooden doors, which are probably cabin doors, but nobody stops to think about that.

Junpei: Don’t tell me the DEAD is in one of those rooms…
June: Oh no! How many rooms do you think there are?!

(Junpei was too frightened to count properly, but at his best guess there were 7 or 8 of them.)

Junpei: Ahhhh fuck!

(There wasn’t time to count them to be sure. Junpei ran to the nearest door. He grabbed the knob and shook it, hard.)

The door doesn’t open; Junpei thinks it feels less like it’s locked and more as if it’s totally sealed from the inside. Nobody else has any luck either, but then…

(As Junpei looked in June’s direction, his eye caught something he hadn’t noticed before… A small, red light. It flashed at him, dimly, from the end of the hallway.)

Junpei: That’s it! Over there!

We do some serious hot-footing to the DEAD, and everyone registers. BUT WERE WE IN TIME?!

20170802184432_1

Santa: *Pant* *Pant* *Pant*
Lotus: *Pant*… *Pant*… *Pant*…
June: *Pant*… *Pant*… *Pant*…
Junpei: Phew… Looks like it’s stopped.

At this point, I just wished that there was a sort of quick gameplay session where you had to make the mad dash to the DEAD itself. But, there isn’t a gameplay section like that.

Oh, wow, a QWOP minigame to make it to the DEAD would really… be something.

(His hands beginning to steady, Junpei wiped away some of the sweat that had beaded on his forehead. As they caught their breath, the 4 companions began to look around.
At the end of the hallway lay a heavy-looking set of double doors.
Set into the walls of the hallway on either side of the larger door were 2 smaller ones.
They all needed inspecting, but Junpei began with the largest of the 3–the double-doors.
How many times had he come across similar doors, with similar results, he wondered. Or perhaps, he corrected himself, more a lack of results…
Whatever the reason, the door remained firm and unyielding, and refused to allow Junpei, or anyone else, passage.
Near the handle was a small keyhole.
Above the keyhole was a small symbol, engraved in the brass.)

Junpei: Male…?

June: No, that’s not the symbol for “male”. That’s probably the symbol of
[Mars]. Well, technically, they are the same symbol… But I saw a number of similar symbols near the main stairway. The symbols of the solar system…

We did indeed come across a few astrological symbols on various other doors back on the deck, not that we know whether that’s significant yet.

June: At least, that’s what I’m assuming.
Junpei: So this isn’t the man symbol, it’s a symbol for [Mars]?
June: I think so, yes.

While Junpei and June make small talk, Santa’s off checking all the other wooden doors down the hallway. In case it needed confirming, none of them will open. Lotus and Junpei check the two smaller doors to either side of the large double one.

(Each one had a metal plate attached to it.
Junpei figured they were probably room numbers.
The door on the left read [B92].
And the door on the right proclaimed that it lead to [B93].)

Junpei: All right. Let’s open ’em.
Santa: Yeah.

(Junpei put his hand on the door knob for the door that said [Room 92]. Santa moved to the door to [Room 93]. They’d made it through the numbered door alive.
There was nothing more to be afraid of.
Junpei and Santa looked at each other and nodded.)

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Junpei: 1…2…3!

(In unison, they pushed against their respective doors.
…And promptly found themselves in a new room.
June followed Junpei as he threw open his door. They turned around, and saw that the door on the other side was open as well. Through the door was another person, his mouth agape.
It was Santa.)

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Santa: Hey…uh… It opened.
Junpei: Yeah… It did…

Well, that was unexpected. I guess at least some doors in this place have to open without needing some crazy puzzle to be solved first, otherwise how are we ever going to get around?!

(Junpei and Santa looked at each other. They had not expected the doors to yield so easily.
Lotus’s calm voice broke into their thoughts.)

Lotus: Maybe this is all part of Zero’s plan? I can’t say I enjoy being treated like someone’s puppet.

(As she headed for Room 93, Lotus continued.)

Lotus: Well, now we have these 2 rooms. I’m sure there’s something in there
that will help us get out of here. Let’s find it. Santa and I will search this room. Junpei and June, search the other one.
Junpei: All right.
June: Okay!

–SEEK A WAY OUT–

And with that, we begin our first numbered room puzzle. I’m expecting it to be a bit harder than Junpei’s solo one back in the room we woke up in, but we’ll find out…

… next time.

So, thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this. Now, we need to prepare to escape this room. I hope you are ready too. So, don’t forget your thinking caps for the next episode. 

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