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Even in Death

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When Junpei opened his eyes, he was alone in the lounge. Carlos and Aoi were nowhere to be seen- what was going on? He could remember the vote, and he remembered Carlos picking D-team, but after that? Nothing.

A knot of worry formed in his stomach as he searched the lounge- where were they? Why weren’t they here? He was dreading what he was going to see, but forced himself to check the X pass board. On it there were only three names- Diana, Sigma, and Phi.

“So… they really were executed, huh…”

It looked like they’d been betrayed, then. Junpei figured it was either Mira or Eric, but he wasn’t entirely sure which one it would be. Eric didn’t seem like the type to try to kill anyone, but he was also pretty weak in terms of confidence- Junpei had little doubt he’d have gladly betrayed the group if Mira told him to. There was one other option, though… Q. It seemed unlikely, given he was deaf, blind, and mute, yet Junpei didn’t trust him. Perhaps it was a detective’s intuition, but even when they’d first met, something about Q had felt… wrong. Was it possible that he’d somehow managed to make the choice?

Well, it wasn’t impossible, all things considered. If all the messages were pre-recorded, what if Zero had provided Q with a braille tablet? Aoi’d done the same for Light last year, so it wasn’t completely impossible… and if he kept that in mind, then it was fully possible for Q to have made the decision. He was supposed to be the leader of Q-team, after all…

“Well, I can’t stick around here.”

He was letting himself get carried away with theories and distracting himself from his real goal; finding Aoi and Carlos. Even if it had been Q who’d killed D-team, that didn’t mean anything if he was stuck here alone for the rest of his life. No, it was best to head off and look for them now, they could be waiting for him.

With that thought in his mind, Junpei set off to search the ward- but in the end, he found absolutely nothing. It was as if Aoi and Carlos had completely disappeared, leaving him with only his memories and that announcement board telling him that they were probably still alive- and neither of those could be completely trusted.

The last room he’d been searching in was the pantry, and although he wasn’t sure why, it gave him chills. Vague recollections from a timeline he’d never lived through told him that once, things had gotten dangerous for him in a freezer, but the memories were too far off for him to ever access of his own will. No, just leave it to the morphogenetic fields to pick the worst possible time, then he’d be allowed to remember what was bothering him.

He sighed and turned to leave the freezer, intending to get as far from the cold as possible, when…

Click, click, click, click…’

“Huh?”

Junpei noticed the sound of footsteps too late, turning around in time for the knife to catch him in between his ribs, a clean stab that was undoubtedly going to kill him.

“Wh-what?”

He looked up, but the person he saw wasn’t Aoi or Carlos- it was Mira. That was impossible, he was in Ward C; there was no way to move between the wards… right? Mira was staring at him with a bored expression, not saying a word. Her face was familiar- it was the look of someone who’d killed before and felt nothing while doing it.

It was the same face that Hongou had worn a year ago.

She didn’t even wait for him to collapse to his knees, turning and walking away with a completely neutral expression, as if she’d done nothing more than swat a fly. Junpei didn’t see where Mira had walked off too, but he had to hurry. Even if he was going to die, he had to tell Carlos and Aoi who’d done it… he had to warn them about her.

Breathe… breathe, Junpei, keep breathing…’

He could feel the water surrounding him, filling his lungs when he tried to draw in air. It was cold, a stark contrast with the heat of the blood continuing to spill out of his chest.

“Shit…”

‘Air, Junpei. You’re in air, you’re not in Building Q. You need to warn Carlos and Aoi, don’t slip yet…’

His movements were heavy and it hurt to breathe- he was drowning but he wasn’t, bleeding out from a stab wound to the back (no, it was the chest). However, he forced himself up into a seated position, pushing his back against one of the metal shelves.

In, out… In, out… now think. How am I going to warn them without Mira seeing it…’

Any place that he tried to write a dying message would be painfully obvious, with one exception. It wouldn’t be pleasant, but he didn’t have a choice… he pulled up his shirt a bit, and started clawing at his skin. He’d bit his lip to prevent himself from screaming in pain, and he thought he was going to bite clear through the skin- he could tell why people usually just left writing in blood, this fucking hurt. But even with the pain, he didn’t stop- he was already dead, but if he was lucky this could save Aoi and Carlos.

The message was crude but effective- ‘M I R A’, carved onto his abdomen, below the wound that he was bleeding out from. His last message done, he slumped down against the floor- he’d done all he could, but there was still something important bothering him. That being the problem of how Mira had made it to this ward in the first place.

Is this… why there was a time limit?’

He’d thought it odd when Zero had first brought it up, but he couldn’t imagine why a time limit would be able to change the Wards themselves. That didn’t make sense, it was impossible, and yet somehow it had happened regardless.

Shit… it’s no use…’

Junpei didn’t have enough time, and he could feel the water again. He’d managed to force himself to concentrate long enough to leave the message for Carlos and Aoi, but now that he was done there was nothing left holding his mind to this point in time. He was drowning in the frigid water on board the Gigantic, everyone else aboard was dead, and he had no idea who’d killed them all.

“A-Akane… Aoi… Carlos… I’m sorry…”

Everything was muffled and his vision had already left, with his hearing coming soon after. He could still make out echoes of footsteps in the background- they weren’t Mira’s, but there was no voice. He didn’t even have the energy left to try turning his head in a meaningless effort to see who it was, simply laying in place as the last of his consciousness left him. If it was Carlos or Aoi, they’d have to forgive him for falling…

The last thing he could hear was a distant noise- something like a motor, revving up. He didn’t have time to ponder it before the last of what he was faded into nothing, and he was left floating alone in death.