A/N: well, here's my first multi-chaptered 999 fic. I needed a NaNoWriMo project, and this idea woudn't leave me alone, and here it is.

A couple of things about it: the fic is set about 36 years before the game, and 27 years before the first Nonary Game. If you've read the 999 Q&A section on Aksys' site (if you haven't, do it: there's a lot of interesting info there that wasn't in the game!), you should know that before the Nonary Game there was Gordain's Game - and that Hongou himself was kidnapped to take part to it by Gordain's successor, which ended up giving him the idea for the Nonary Game itself.
Long story short, this fic is my take on that one game. There's going to be violence and several deaths in it, but considering the kind of game that was I guess it's no surprise. I imagine those games would be more violent than the Nonary Game would be, since there was no scientific purpose behind them - only the "fun" of betting on who would live or die, since there was no chance for
all the players to make it out. So yeah, watch out for violence, blood and death.

Okay, it is all. On to the fic.

Tokyo, December 2009

"Where on Earth is he?"

Gentarou Hongou's voice came out as a thundering growl, one that heralded no good news for Kubota. He had never been an especially patient man, but that day he was even more inclined than usual to lash out. It was understandable, of course – the outcome of that meeting was of vital importance to them, and most of all to Hongou himself – but Nagisa Nijisaki was rather sure that was not the right place for Hongou's anger to explode.

"Still on the stairs, most likely," Nijisaki said, his voice calm. He inwardly cursed the fact Musashidou's office had to be right on the skyscraper's last floor. Just their luck, he thought, holding back a snort. "I'm sure he'll be here any moment now. Calm yourself."

Hongou draw in a deep breath and released it in what sounded much like another growl before he began pacing back and forth in the hallway. "Why couldn't he simply come in the elevator with us?" he muttered, exasperation plain in his voice.

"You know the reason why as well as I do. Claustrophobia."

"Is there one phobia that he doesn't have?"

Nijisaki reached out to put a hand on Hongou's arm to stop his pacing. "Stop that, you're managing to make me seasick on top of a damn skyscraper. And calm down, alright? There is no need to get this worked up. Musashidou's office is right over there, and it's not like he's expecting us," he added with a chuckle. "So he certainly won't think we're late."

Hongou sighed. "Fine," he muttered, then, "I should hope this is the only setback Kubota will cause us today. We cannot allow this meeting to go wrong. If he dares to have a panic attack in that office you're most certainly going to have to hire a new technician for the company and a good lawyer for me, because I swear to God I-" he started, only to trail off when Nijisaki waved his hand.

"You don't have to worry: there will be no need for either. Kubota knows well he needs to be able to control himself today. He's been taking barbiturates like candy since morning," Nijisaki said. "To be honest, the one thing that surprises me is that he's even awake. The amount he took should have already put a lightweight like him to sleep."

Hongou scowled. "I should hope he did not lose consciousness on the stairs."

"Now you're being paranoid," Nijisaki said flatly, then glanced past Hongou's right shoulder and shrugged. "See, I told you. There he is."

Hongou turned to see a shorter, scrawny man climbing – or perhaps 'crawling' would have been a more appropriate term – up the last few steps of the stairs. Once on top he paused and bent forward a little, hands on his knees, breathing heavily.

"It was about time," Hongou said coldly. "Are we good to go now?"

"I'm s-s-sorry," the man managed to breathe, reaching up to wipe the sweat from his brow with a sleeve. "T-the stairs…" he paused and drew in another shaky breath before straightening himself and clearing his throat. He reached up to pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose. "Y-yes," was all he finally said.

"Good," Hongou said, and turned without saying another word to walk straight to the door at the end of the hallway. He heard the other two following him, heard Nijisaki telling Kubota to take deep breaths, but he paid no attention to either of them: all he could see, all he could think of, was the door he was stepping closer and closer to.

He only paused a few moments when he put his hand on the handle and turned to Nijisaki and Kubota. He could only tell them apart because of their different size and because of Kubota's thick glasses, and that – seeing no real difference between their faces, as always – did nothing but strengthen his resolve.

He clenched his jaw and opened the door.

On the other side wasn't Musashidou's office, but he already knew that: it was his secretary's. It was a large room, with a desk on one side and leather couches on the other, along with a small table. The secretary herself was typing something, but raised her gaze from the monitor immediately. "May I help you?" she asked.

Hongou nodded and stepped in, followed by the other two. "Yes. We need to see Mr. Musashidou."

She looked down on the desk, at what Hongou supposed was an appointment books. "He doesn't seem to have appointments scheduled until-"

"We don't have one," Hongou cut her off, stepping closer to the desk and leaning on it. He stared straight at her face – one that was no different from any other in the world to him – and smirked. "But I'm certain that won't be a problem."

She reared back a little on her seat. Hongou couldn't differentiate faces, but expressions were not lost to him – though subtle ones might be harder to read for him than they were for most – and her scowl was nowhere near subtle. "If you wish to be received, I'll let him know so that you can take a proper appointment and-"

"Call him now," Hongou cut her off once more. "Tell him that the winners from 1991 are here. Number three, five and six. He'll know what you mean, and I'm certain he'll receive us right away," he said.

She blinked. "I'm sorry?"

"Do that. He'll know."

A few moments passed, then the secretary finally reached for the phone. Hongou didn't stay to listen to her passing the message; instead, he turned and walked back to Nijisaki and Kubota, a smirk playing on his lips. "I'm certain he'll receive us," he said quietly, turning to glance at the door at the other end of the room, the door to Musashidou's own office.

Despite his determination – convincing him to finance the experiment was his best shot at knowing more of the Morphogenetic Fields – there was a part of him that still did not want to face the man. He had been only fourteen last time they had met – just a boy who had just been through so much more than most could stand. All of them had been, and none of them was looking forward to meet one of the responsibles again… but they had to. Without him and his money, there would be no experiment.

"Are you sure you're alright?" he heard Nijisaki asking quietly, and he turned to see that Kubota seemed to be shaking, hands balled into fists.

"I'm g-going to be fine," the scrawny man said, his voice sounding forced and somewhat distant.

Hongou's eyes narrowed. "Keep yourself together, and do not speak unless you're directly addressed to – and only about the technical parts. Let me and Nijisaki speak. Understood?"

Kubota nodded. "O-of course," he said, sounding very much relieved. Nijisaki opened his mouth to say something, but he didn't get a chance to speak: the secretary's voice reached them.

"Mr. Musashidou will receive you immediately," she said, surprise rather plain in her voice. Hongou felt his hear giving a small jolt in his chest, and smiled – a wide, predatory smile. "As I told you he would," was all he told her before walking up to the door, gesturing for Nijisaki and Kubota to follow. He paused in front of the door just for a moment before clenching his jaw and finally reaching out to knock.

"Do come in!"

God, his voice hadn't changed – so jovial and friendly that it manage to border into unpleasant – and Hongou heard Kubota drawing in a sharp breath. He found himself gritting his teeth before opening the door.

Musashidou's office was huge, with a glass wall that allowed a spectacular view on the city, expensive-looking carpets, leather couches and a large mahogany desk right in front of the glass wall. That was where Musashidou sat. His face was just the same as any other in Hongou's eyes, of course, but the moustache – the one thing he remembered clearly – had stayed the same, and so was the grin; all in all, the only difference he could see was that his hair had turned from inky black to gray in those years.

For a moment no one said anything, then Musashidou stood and gave a booming laugh.

"Well then, what a pleasant surprise! I certainly wasn't expecting you to visit – and after so much time," he laughed again and leant walked around the seat and up to them. "You'll forgive me for stating the obvious but my, haven't you grown," he added, sounding unsettlingly like a proud father.

Hongou's jaw clenched for a moment before he forced himself to smile politely. "Eighteen years tend to do that to people, wouldn't you agree?" he said with a smirk.

"Why, eighteen years already? How time flies!" Musashidou chortled before gesturing for them to sit on a couch. They sat, and Musashidou seated himself on the armchair across them. "If feel like yesterday that- oh, but I get ahead of myself. I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask for your names. I forgot."

"My name is Gentarou Hongou, sir," Hongou said calmly before turning to the other two. Nijisaki was giving Musashidou a polite smile, while Kubota just sat there rigidly and said nothing, gaze locked dead ahead of him. His fists were clenched so tight that his knuckles were turning white, but if anything he was holding himself together… for now. "They are Nagisa Nijisaki and Teruaki Kubota respectively."

Musashidou nodded. "Oh, yes, now I remember. You'll have to forgive me, I have a very bad memory with names. I remember your numbers, though – five, three, six. The winning team. It was quite the game, I have to confess – and the outcome was nearly unpredictable. That the youngest participants would be the ones to make it out alive… it was something that surprised everyone. Everyone but me, of course – I bet on all three of you by the time you were halfway through. You gained me quite a lot of money, but I forget how much. I must say, though, that the most surprising turn of events was when our number six here," he looked at Kubota and smiled, "pulled off that stunt right at the end. Quite surprising – it turned everything around. It was the woman who died first to give you that, wasn't it? Your teacher. Number eight, was it no-"

"Murakami," Kubota spoke up for the first time, his voice something akin to a growl – something that caused Hongou and Nijisaki to exchange a quick glance. "Her name was Kumiko Murakami."

Musashidou seemed unfazed by the anger in Kubota's voice, or perhaps even oblivious to it. "I told you I have such a bad memories for names, boy," he said lightly. "Besides, it's been quite some time. You truly have plenty of things to tell me, starting out with how you found out my identity and why you decided to… oh, my, I'm getting ahead of myself once more. Would you like something to drink as we talk? Some brandy? Coffee? How about a cigar?"

"Coffee sounds good," Hongou said pleasantly. Nijisaki politely declined, while Kubota said nothing at all.

There were several moments of silence, only broken by Musashidou's voice as he spoke by phone and asked for a coffee, some brandy and a few cigars, just in case his guests changed their mind.

Hongou did his best to block out the feeling of hatred and helplessness he had always associated to the sound of his voice, and simply focused on what was important – that man's money, that of whatever organization he was linked to, and the Gigantic. He needed Musashidou to obtain both, and needed them for the experiment. It was all that mattered now: the role that man had had in the hell he, Nijisaki and Kubota had been put through eighteen years before did not. The past no longer mattered – only the future did.

And for his future to be bright, Hongou needed to have Musashidou on his side, so that the Gigantic could be his, and a game could be held in it. One more game, the last of a long series – it was all that he needed to see truly see the Morphogenetic Fields at work, once he found the right subjects and could put them in the right amount of danger to make all of their potential come out.

It was a risky gamble, but it would work, he was certain it would. And why shouldn't it? It had worked for him, if for one brief moment, and it had been enough to save him – to save them – eighteen years before.

Gigantic, June 1st 1991

It was a low, steady whistle to stir Gentarou Hongou's mind from deep within a black hole on unconsciousness. He did not awaken immediately, but rather turned on his side and reached down to pull the sheets up on himself, still somewhere between awareness and sleep. His hand, though, met no sheets – only the fabric of his own trousers.

… his trousers? Had he fallen asleep with his clothes on?

And what the hell was that noise? Had his mother forgotten the coffee pot on the stove again?

The boy turned onto his back again and opened his eyes with a groan, but immediately shut them against the light. What now, had he forgotten to undress and turn off the light before going to sleep?

"What…?" Gentarou grunted, hands reaching up to rub his eyes. He tried to recall the moment he had gone to sleep, but for some reason he couldn't; odd. Last thing he could recall was being on his way back home from school, completely focused on the science project due the next day. Then… then someone had called out for him to ask for directions, someone driving a van. He was asking of a street that was just nearby, so Gentarou had turned to point them to the right direction, and afterwards… what the hell had happened afterwards?

"Are you up yet, sleepyhead?"

The crackling of static and then the sudden, distorted voice snapped Gentarou into full awareness. His eyes snapped open once more and he hastily sat up on the bed – only to hit his head against something that was not supposed to be right over his head.

The ceiling.

"Ow! Ow! What the fuck?"

"Language, young man. Language."

Gentarou rubbed his forehead and looked around for the source of that voice. He was startled enough to see no one, but what truly took him aback was realizing where he was. Not only it was not his bedroom – well, that much had been clear the moment he had hit his head on the ceiling – but it also was absolutely not a place he could recognize. It was a small, narrow room with two bunk beds; he was on the upper bunk of one of them. There was a sink on his left, and a small, round window that reminded him of a porthole, the kind he had seen on ships.

Ships? Am I on a ship?

Gentarou brushed back the hair that had fallen over his eyes and looked around again. "Who's there? Where am I? What-" he began, only to trail off when his gaze fell on three things coming out of the ceiling: a small camera, a speaker, and… and something that looked a lot like a showerhead, and it was where the whistling sound was coming from. And there was something else coming out of it, he noticed, some kind of… was that…?

"That's a special gas, my boy. Pretty deadly if you're exposed to it for too long. And since gas tends to go up, my first advice to you is coming down of that bunk Possibly now."

Gentarou didn't even waste time to listen to those last words: he already knew how gas worked, thank you so very much, and he wasn't up to wait and see if it really was deadly as the voice claimed. He had climbed down the bunk bed in instants, and the next moment his frantic eyes had found the door. There was something written on it in red, but he didn't mind it, didn't even truly look – all that mattered was that the door was there and the whistling seemed to be growing louder and all his sense were telling him get the hell away from there before gas had filled the room. He grabbed the handle and pulled with all his might.

The door didn't budge.

"Nnnngh- fuck!" Gentarou growled, trying one last time to push the door open before taking a step back. There was a card reader mounted next to the door, but no key card in sight. "Hey! Is someone out there? Anyone? Help! Help!" he cried out, hitting the door a few times. He strained his ears to listen, but no answer – there didn't seem to be anyone on the other side.

He kicked the door in frustration. "What's going on? Where am I? Let me out of here!" he cried out, heart beating wildly and throat tightening with the beginnings of panic as he realized that the gas was coming in more and more quickly and now most of the area near the ceiling was filled with a thick fog.

"Why, you're not expecting to be handed the way out like this, are you?" the voice coming from the speaker asked with a chortle. "You need to work for it. This is how the game works."

"The… game?" Gentarou repeated, mind fumbling to think of a reasonable explanation and coming up blank. "What are you-?"

"This is not the moment for long conversations, boy – the more you wait, the more quickly gas comes in. Look at the door."

Gentarou turned to look at it. The thing written in red across it, the thing he hadn't stopped to read in his urgency to get out, was a number – [5]. Gentarou's gaze fell once again on the card reader mounted next to the door.

"Your key to open it is somewhere in the room. Find it – and then hold onto it, or this game will be over for you before it can even start. Goodbye, and good luck."

"What? Wait, wha-!"

There was another burst of static, and then the speaker went silent. Gentarou found himself unable to speak or think for a few moments, confusion thick as the mist of gas above him – then he heard the whistling noise growing louder, and gas began coming in quickly. Now the ceiling was hard to see, and Gentarou knew that once the air above was saturated then the gas pouring in the room would start to get lower and lower, until it filled the whole room… and his lungs, if he stayed in it.

And he didn't want to be there to find out if it would truly kill him. He didn't want to be there one more minute.

Muttering a curse, Gentarou pushed aside any questions he had – what was happening, why was it happening, where he was and who was responsible – and went to search the lower bunks first. He checked under the pillows, in the pillowcases, under the mattresses… nothing. Inwardly cursing himself for trying such obvious places – why would… whoever was responsible for that madness hide anything where he could find it so easily? – he tried to look elsewhere.

But he could find nothing – nothing in the sink, nothing in the closet, nothing on or under the table, nothing into the stove, nothing on the damn tea pot on top of it – and gas was slowly filling the room. Before long Gentarou's eyes were burning and so were his lungs. He coughed as he stumbled to the sink and turned the tap; water came out, thankfully, and he could at least splash some water on his eyes to soothe the burning feeling… but that was a minor relief, and the situation was looking bleaker and bleaker.

Gentarou reached to tug up his turtleneck shirt so that the fabric would cover his mouth and nose and glanced up to the top bunks. They were the only part of the cabin he had not yet searched since they had been almost completely covered by the gas when he had started his search, but now it was clear the key card was there – it had to be there, because it truly was nowhere else.

He really didn't want to consider the idea that he had been lied to, that there was no key card to be found and that he'd die there like a trapped rat.

He gave another yank to his shirt to make sure his nose and mouth stayed covered, drew in a deep breath and then held it as he began climbing up the ladder to the upper bunk. The gas was so thick there that not only he couldn't breathe, he couldn't even try to open his eyes: he could only feel around for the key card, more and more frantic with each passing moment.

He found nothing.

Gentarou almost stumbled down to the floor, and by the time he was there gas was almost everywhere – there were only a few inches near the ground that were not yet saturated, and he lay down for a few moments to be able to draw in a few deep breaths. He looked up to the other bunk bed, and felt a pang of something that was horribly close to despair in his chest when he realized that he could barely even see it. The gas was to thick and he was having such a hard time breathing already – how could he hope to be able to climb up and find the key card, if it was even there, without passing out or worse?

He swallowed, hard, and squeezed his eyes shut for a few moments before opening them again and drawing in a deep breath, forcing himself back on his feet while shaking his head to get rid of the feeling of light-headiness. He couldn't just lie down and die, he refused to! He would get back to the sink, he decided, soak his shirt and put it around his nose and mouth and then he could… then…

That line of thought abruptly stopped when he turned the tap.

No water came out, not a drop.

No! Why? It worked until a minute ago!

Gentarou let out a frustrated cry, despair finally starting to leak in around the imposed self-control. His knees almost gave in, and he didn't fall solely because he was gripping the sides of the sink. He tried to steady himself and looked ahead – and his gaze met the mirror. A face stared back, his own face – and still one he did not know, one that looked no different from that of anyone else in the world; he could only tell it was his own because of the sandy brown hair, and because he knew it had to be him… but aside from that, the person staring back at him in the mirror was a stranger to him.

As everyone else was.

And he was going to die. He was only fourteen and he was going to die without even knowing why, without ever getting a chance to see his own face.

The thought caused the despair that had been building in his mind to explode in a cry of rage, a cry that filled the room along with another sound – that of a mirror shattering as his fists hit it. One of the shards cut into his skin, drawing blood, and Gentarou didn't take notice: his gaze was fixed on what was left of the mirror. Now that the mirror itself was gone, he could see that there had been an empty space behind it, and the back of it looked a lot like a bulletin board. There was something pinned on it, a folded piece of paper. Gentarou coughed and reached to take it, his heart beating faster. Maybe it was a hint – oh please please let it be a hint – but before he could unfold it his gaze fell onto the sink and there, among the shards of mirror…

The key card!

Gentarou's free hand, the injured one, shot down to grab the white card. There was a number on it – [5] – but he barely even stopped to read: he immediately darted to the door, keeping the collar of his shirt pressed against his nose and mouth, and quickly ran the key card in the slot, fully aware of the fact that was his last chance.

There was a beeping sound that sounded like music to his ears. Gentarou immediately stuffed both the key card and the piece of paper into his vest's pocket, grabbed a hold of the door with both hands, and pulled.

The door opened.

"And number 5 is out!" Kagechika Musashidou announced with a laugh, lifting his glass in the air in a mock toast. He looked to one of the men at his left. "And you were so sure he was done for," he said with a smirk.

His words were greeted by a few laughs and a sigh. "Fine, fine, you got that right – but that doesn't mean he won already, so don't get too bold. Tables can still be turned."

Musashidou chortled. "If your bet doesn't make it out of his room soon, I'm afraid the way tables may be turned won't be of your concern," he said, turning to the screen showing them room number 3. The camera had some trouble showing them much aside from the thick fog of gas, but they could make out the outline of someone moving frantically across the room, still searching for the key card that could get him out.

"Oh, knock it off. He was simply hindered by the drug's after effects. I'm certain he'll be out as well in a minute," the other man, a tall one with a pale complexion, muttered. He turned his gaze to yet another screen. "Hey, Ikeda, how's your so-called child genius doing?"

"He seems to have stopped panicking and is searching as well," a woman replied before taking another swig of her drink. "I think he's close to finding the key card. He'll make it."

"Good. It would be a pity if he never made it out – I'm quite curious to see how a child with such a high IQ can fare against adults and teens."

"Don't you think he'll be at too much of a disadvantage? He may be smart, but he's a child. He'll be completely defenseless once things get serious."

"Not completely, no. We took care of that already – speaking of which, number 8 is out as well. Not that I didn't expect her to make it."

There was a brief moment of cheering in the lounge, as always when one of their bets made it out, then another man turned back to Musashidou.

"Kagechika, doesn't this leave your bet as the most disadvantaged one? You know he has a disability, don't you?"

Musashidou chortled, leaning back on his seat. "Oh, I know. That's the reason why he was picked, I think. Kaiji must have thought throwing in someone with a disability would make things more interesting, and I do agree. He certainly chose an unusual one. I must admit it was hard resisting the temptation to make everyone dress the same way before the game started to throw him off, but that would have hardly been fair. The boy has as much right to a chance as the others. I don't think his disability will hinder him too much," he added, then turned back to the monitor and smiled. "Now, let's see how this turns out…"

Gentarou didn't run as much as he stumbled outside. He heard the door closing again behind him, but he paid no attention to it, nor he bothered to even look around to see where he was – all he was aware of as he collapsed on a cold floor was how damn good being able to breathe again felt. And he did just that for several moments, just breathing deeply and thinking of nothing else.

Breathe. Breathe.

He probably wouldn't have gotten up for several minutes hadn't the sound of footsteps first and then a voice reached his ears. "Hey! Are you alright?"

Gentarou's head shot up, and he saw there was indeed someone running up to him – a woman with a long gray gown, a white shirt with what looked like a cheap strass brooch on it and long black hair. Guessing her age was hard, as always for him, but with her voice she couldn't be younger than maybe thirty, at the very least, though more likely closer to her forties. He stood, if a little shakily, and nodded. "I… am alright," he muttered. "Where are we? What's going on?"

She sighed. "I was hoping you'd be able to tell me," she said, turning back a little. Now Gentarou could see they were in a hallway, but they couldn't see really far – the light was too dim.

"So you don't know what's going on?"

She shook her head. "No. I woke up into a cabin only minutes ago, and had to find a way out before the room was filled with some kind of gas. Did you…?"

Well, it looked like he wasn't alone in that madness, then. "Yes, it does sound familiar," he muttered. "Did you hear someone speaking? Through a speaker, I mean."

The woman nodded again. "Yes. It was a woman's voice – it woke me up and told me I should find-"

"…a key card to get out," Gentarou finished, already seeing where that was going. The only thing that didn't add up was the voice: the one he had heard, while distorted, was most definitely a man's. Perhaps there was more than just one person behind… whatever the hell was going on. "Is that right?"

"Yes. I take it you went through the same. You look terrible," she added, and now there was a worried note in her voice. She seemed about to add something else, but then there was a distant noise, like… like…

"Tell me that doesn't sound like rushing water to you," Gentarou said flatly. Last thing he needed now was a damn flood.

The woman took a step back. "It does. Let's get away from here," she said with a urgency that Gentarou didn't understand at first. Then he was reminded of the small window beyond which was only darkness in the room he had awakened into, of how he had thought it looked everything like those one would see on a ship, and he could feel blood draining from his face.

A ship? Are we really on a ship?

That made the sound of rushing water even worse news than he had thought it was.

"We have to go," the woman's voice reached him, causing him to recoil. "This way, quick!"

They turned, and ran. It wasn't a long run: they could see where they were heading to. There were a few steep stairs on their left, and just above those… a door. A metal door with no number. Gentarou was faster, but she followed him closely enough. The sound of rushing water was still there, but it grew faint as they kept running, only skidding to a halt in front of the stairs and the door. And there was no card reader, so maybe…

"I hope this opens," Gentarou growled, reaching to grab the handles and pulling. The door opened. "Yes!"

They both ran through it, closed it behind them… and then stopped short when they saw what was in front of their eyes, on the other side.

Gentarou closed his eyes, shook his head and then opened them again, but nothing had changed – the majestic-looking staircase was still there, as was the huge grandfather clock and everything else that seemed to be coming straight from a century earlier.

"What. The. Hell," he said, his voice sounding distant to his own ears.

The woman beside him sounded just as stunned. "I… I have no words," she said, looking around the large room, then, "I think we should move. If there is an opening somewhere on the ship – yes, I still think this is a ship – then we'd be safer the higher we go, wouldn't you think?" she added, meaningfully nodding towards the staircase.

Gentarou had to admit she had a very valid point. "Alright. Let's go," he said. They didn't run this time – with the door closed and the sound of rushing water no longer to be heard they felt slightly safer – but they did walk quickly to the staircase and then up the stairs. "Do you have any idea how you winded up here?" Gentarou asked as they climbed the stairs. "Last thing I remember is giving directions to someone with a van," he added. He was actually starting to think he had guessed exactly what had happened the moment he had turned his back to them to give them the directions they had asked for, but now he wanted to know if she's confirm his hunch.

"I have vague memories, I'm afraid," the woman replied, her breathing a little quicker form their run earlier and from climbing the stairs now. "I remember I was unlocking my house's front door, and someone seized me. I smelled something before passing out, and the more I think of it the more I'm sure it was chloroform," she added. "Perhaps they did the same to you."

Yes, Gentarou thought, that had to be it. But still… "Why? Why would someone kidnap us? Why are where here? Where is here? What's going on? Who-" he trailed off, eyes widening a little when something reached his ears from above him, something he hadn't expected to hear.

A girl's voice.