It would take longer if they took breaks between the floors.
And if they wanted to remain hidden, they would have to be as high as possible or in the basement––Koori guessed.
That must be right. No, it could be said that it was wrong.
As she thought obsessively about it, they ascended the ventilation duct and arrived at the ninth floor.
She almost gave up several times, but the fact that Shirley went with her to investigate despire being partnerless and was humming while she climbed kept Koori from being discouraged.
“Haa…haa…is this the ninth floor…?”
She fiddled around with the Ring Gear on her left arm and tried to get their location. Red letters appeared.
She found it strange, but this wasn’t a floor where the guests were seated, and they were in a metal duct in the building. They hadn’t been expecting a problem since they hadn’t had any on the other floors, but it wasn’t too strange for the signal to be bad.
She became anxious since she always relied on the Ring Gear in her daily life. However, the simple recording function could still be used, so they shouldn’t have any problems continuing their investigation.
“…Anyway, let’s investigate this floor.”
“I heard a voice coming from over there.”
This was the first time they had heard voices since leaving behind the floors with guest seating for the fourth floor. Koori silently nodded at Shirley and went towards the voice.
The ventilation fan was rotating, giving off the sound of a running air-conditioner. She heard a faint voice from inside the room.
“How is it?”
It was a male voice.
“The absorption quantity has reached the designated amount…now it will be removed from the flask.”
“And the consumption percentage?”
“It’s 32%. Would you like to see the detailed data?”
She was able to see the room through the duct’s ventilation fan. The duct seemed to be in the corner of the ceiling of the room. Thanks to that, she was able to see most of the middle of the room.
There was a young man in a white cook’s outfit. He had blue hair.
They had come across a photograph of him as the manager when preparing for the infiltration. He was definitely Jean Daniel Belmondo.
There was another person.
No, the other person was a robot. Its face was like a mannequin. Comparatively, it had a completely natural voice. Such a thing wasn’t prohibited, but it was unusual. There were a lot of people who thought that a mouthless robot talking like a flesh-and-blood human was eerie.
Shirley tilted her head to the side.
Did she find something strange? Koori shifted her eyes to the depths of the room. There was a huge machine.
There was a transparent sphere in its centre, with a diameter of about 2 metres. The thing that the robot was talking about was a cylindrical shape that curved out like a flask.
It might be large scale machine that made cakes. For a flourishing shop like this, it was possible such equipment was used, but Koori wasn’t sure as she didn’t make cakes and hadn’t been on a factory field trip.
The robot talked.
“I will open the flask.”
The side of the huge sphere opened a little. Other robots came from outside her field of vision took out something from inside it. A robot?
It had slim arms and feet. Its limb joints looked powerless. It was wet and water was dripping onto the floor. A red liquid was dripping from its hair.
An antiseptic solution like odour drifted into their noses.
It was laid down on the solid looking table.
Were the robots washing something? But the other robots didn’t have hair. And it was smaller too. Was it a dwarf….?
Hair was hanging over its face and its expression couldn’t be read. If it was a legal robot then it shouldn’t have a face that was like a human’s.
It had skin. Its chest rose and fell, it seemed like a woman. It had eyes. Its eyelids opened. Its dark eyes moved but were unfocused.
A faint sound emerged from its small lips. Its moan mixed with the sound of the ventilation fan. It was a female voice.
That was strange… That…couldn’t…be…a robot……
Koori’s heart started to beat faster. Her fingers trembled. Cold sweat started to break out.
The female figure that was lying on the table suddenly vomited a red liquid. It was redder than blood, as red as wine and transparent.
But as if she wasn’t self-aware, she didn’t wipe the liquid she vomited. She didn’t move the hair stuck to her face.
Belmondo raised a dissatisfied voice.
“What is this? Didn’t you reduce it too much? This is 32%?”
“Tch…is it because it’s low? Should we examine the situation a little more…?”
“I gave a warning that it would affect daily life if it was more than 20%.”
“Shut up. Shouldn’t she have gotten her act together by now? ––Hey, don’t be half-asleep!”
Belmondo approached and extended his hand. He grabbed her bangs and pulled to reveal her eyes.
“Wake up now! What is your name!?”
Koori knew the person who was laid down on the table, though she was in a much worse state than when she had met her earlier during lunch––it was Ooi.
A shiver went down Koori’s spine. She reflexively backed away. She wasn’t able to stop the scream that came from the depths of her throat.