"I know this is difficult Tobio, but that's why we're here to help, ok?"
"I want you to try to remember what happened nine years ago, in Metro City."
"Metro City…that's where I live."
"Good, can you tell me what happened? In March 20XX?(*)
"I think something did happen Tobio."
"Tobio, how did you get those scars on your shoulder?"
"I already told you, I fell off my bike when I was a kid."
"Do you remember when that happened?"
"Tell me what you do remember."
"I was on my bike, and the pavement was slippery because it had just rained. I hit the brakes hard and I tipped over. I got scraped up pretty bad."
"Why did you hit the brakes?"
"I...I don't know."
"How fast were you going?"
"I don't know, fast enough to get hurt when I fell off."
"And then what happened?"
There was a short pause.
"I've told you before. I don't know what happened after that!"
"Tobio, look at me."
"Why do you keep asking me to do something that I can't do?"
"Tobio, calm down."
"I can't remember Mr. Kuro, I'm trying but..."
That's where the recording had ended; Shunsaku had listened to it three times now, through headphones so he wouldn't wake Uran up. He glanced over to the bed where she was sleeping, or "powered down" and robots were known to do.
This specific recording he had found in the box he had accidentally sent crashing to the floor, but that wasn't a problem, he was sure he had gathered everything up, right?
Looking over what they had found, the results still hadn't added up...
Tobio pulled his head back from where it had been resting on the glass, watching as the forehead print slowly faded away. He didn't know why Akio was always so irritated that he came down here. 'The Fish Bowl', that funny little name that Yuna had come up with, was his favorite place.
To him it felt like it had always been his favorite place. Hadn't it been? He couldn't really remember. Most days he could see entire schools of fish swim by. That giant fish tank in the lobby had nothing on that! But now as he thought of the lobby…the memories were fuzzy but a few stood out to him.
"Oh my god, what happened?" He knelt down in front of her. "Can you hear me?"
"If I were, I wouldn't be here." He saw her eyes slowly slip shut. "Come on, try to stay awake."
He smiled sadly. An angel? Is that what that little girl thought he was? He certainly didn't didn't feel like one, an angel would have gotten to her before she had gotten hurt. Besides weren't angels supposed to have wings? He looked down at his arm. He took the sharp edge of his thumb nail over the back of it, leaving a faint pink line on his skin. Nope, certainly not an angel.
Tobio hadn't seen her since he had been able to sneak her back into the lobby, he hoped that she was alright. Whoever she was.
Just then he heard a small noise, one that sounded like footsteps. Akio had found him again.
Tobio sighed. "I know, you don't like coming down here after me."
"It's just me."
The paleness of Yuna's skin was enhanced by the weak light. They had all often joked that they "haunted" rather than frequently visited these underwater tunnels and rooms. But if anyone truly fit the part of looking like a ghost, it was her.
"You're going to get a sore neck if you sleep out here."
"I wasn't sleeping." he rubbed his eye.
"It's getting late."
"What time is it?"
It was getting pretty late after all, he had really lost track of time. But now he wouldn't have to make it back up to the surface alone. Yuna was here with him, it wouldn't be so lonely to navigate those dark halls and...wait... Yuna never liked it here. In fact, she avoided the place as much as she could.
They finally made eye contact and his heart raced. Her usual deep brown eyes were now an unnatural shade of gold.
"You'd better get to sleep."
The sudden chill in the air seemed to drip down his chest and shoulders. He froze, his foot planted in a first step backward.
It was back.
"Let go of her!"
The familiar but eerie shadow was upon him, reaching around him like long fingers, like spider's legs, into his peripheral vision. He closed his eyes in vain, hoping that by doing so he could black the whole thing out, an uncertain promise of escape.
There was a time when he thought it was all an illusion. A manifestation of his fears his mind had created as a way to cope, to keep him safe. But he knew better.
A haze took over his senses as his usual brown eyes faded to an unnatural shade of gold.
The faint line on Tobio's arm had all but disappeared. Later they would find that arm covered in deep scratches.
Shunsaku switched on another recording, this one from the files Hibine Kuro, the man that had been found alongside Dr. Chaman, just outside the door.
"According to Dr. Chaman he's made some adjustments to that machine of his. He tried to explain the science to me but I'm having a hard time believing him. He keeps saying plasma reconstruction this and quantum entanglement that, and then "like magic", a portal that connects to whatever lies beyond will open."
"The diagnoses is getting more difficult. He's certainly delusional, I haven't ruled out the possibility of Hypomania just yet."
There was a pause in the recording.
"He still thinks I'm his assistant from the University. I'm actually the psychiatrist they called in from the Trylon City Hospital. Some of his colleagues were getting worried about him and asked that I keep an eye on him. Most of them are gone now, they've all left."
"A big part of me is truly starting to worry for the doctor as well. What will he do if this portal of his doesn't give him the answers he's looking for? Or worse, what if it does?"
(*) Kuro doesn't actually say "20XX", that was just to prevent this from becoming too dated.