Chapter 7:

The S.S. Noah

Welcome to Hell

April 15, 2036

Despite the mechanic's promise that she would've been done with the Jet Streamer the day before, some unforeseen circumstances — mostly the Gilded Gang causing all kinds of trouble to her suppliers and clients — had delayed it by a day. Not a big deal, because we received the car in good condition; with a new paint job, license plate, and digital ownership information. The new look was basically yet another stereotypical "black with red hot flames bursting from the front" kind of style — I was never a fan of it, but admittedly whoever owned it before would never recognize it. They were better off just buying a new Jet Streamer or suing SecuRa or whatever you have to do in Hell. I didn't care.

The mechanic also made sure the car actually did what it was built to do, which was to miraculously swim under the lava. She showed us a video of it being submerged in a large (metal?) tub full of molten rock, and coming out five minutes later with the lava merely dripping off the sides and ceiling.

Henry and Andy were a little busy with other stuff on that day, leaving me with Eugene. That was nice, he was the easiest one to get him onboard with my plans, and also a good way to convince the other two to join me.

Both of us entered the Jet. "This ride's yours, Ms. April," he said with a smile. I couldn't help but quickly flash a grin at the sound of "Ms.", since we threatened each other with guns not long ago. "Where are you going?"

I started the engine. "What's that area where new people come into Hell again?"

"The Start Port. What about it?" He shook his head in confusion.

Raising the level and setting the speed to about 50%, the car slowly moved out the messy garage, no longer being surrounded by tools and spare parts all over, and towards the crowded streets of Deck 2. "You remember the big sea over there, right?" This Market deck had higher buildings that dictated the flow of the traffic, and due to the shape of these buildings and other constructions, it felt more like Earth road planning. Combined with having only three flight levels and being home to all the mechanics, car dealerships and whatnot, the traffic was pretty bad. This was seriously the only place I knew in Hell with actual traffic lights.

"Yeah. You think there's some place down there?"

Coming to a stop at one of those traffic lights, we waited for about two or three minutes for the countdown to hit zero and turn green. I recalled what I read from a book the other day, as well as what Mozgorn told me. "There's an entire city and a submarine dock down there. Historically, this was the construction grounds for the S.S. Noah, Hell's largest submarine. Its sheer size and scale make it almost a district in of itself, with administration working under Lord Gremory."

Eugene had no idea what I was trying to get at. "Yeah, but what are we going to do with that knowledge?"

I smirked gleefully. "Word has it the Noah holds reserves of gold bars in its bank."

He finally seemed to understand my intentions, judging by his dumbfounded look. "Are you suggesting... we rob a bank in a submarine?"

"Of course I am!" I pounded my chest.

"That's..." He bit his lips. "Yeah, I think we call that kind of idea suicidal, April."

I just shrugged. "Maybe. Probably. But if we can somehow get the money out, we might as well stop working for Malstororo and just start our lives anew. Maybe I'm just stupid, but I want to live a honest life, just for once. Let's just see how things are like down there first."

A few seconds later, the lights turned green, and we were able to advance through a couple more lights which were also green. Before we knew it, we left the industrial sector and were back in the commercial slash residential area. While on the way down to the sea, I had absolutely no idea there were this many levels. I had lost count, but I probably went down by more than fifty levels before I could see the lava from the windshield, and about ten more before the down button went dark, with the air car getting a lot hotter. On the other hand, going to the Start Port wasn't a hard ordeal. Before I knew it, I was already above the sea. This time it looked a little bit more crowded than it was last time.

Lowering the speed to 0%, I inspected the dashboard. "How do we go down, anyway?" The controls didn't seem any different. Eugene helpfully pointed his finger at some place behind the driving wheel. "Ah, thanks, I forgot." I felt behind that spot, and found a button. Pressing it made a weird loud noise and vibration, as if something inside the car had changed. The up button also darkened. That button would enable the Jet Streamer's "free flight mode", I recalled.

Thankfully, I didn't forget that I would have to push the wheel forwards in this mode to descend.

Of course I had to take a deep breath, but this time out of anticipation and stupidly childish excitement. Hell was already surprisingly crazy and amazing. The next moment, I made the car fly lower. Before it could even touch the sea, it automatically activated "submarine mode," covering the exterior in a lava-resistant coating. The air coming from the AC was also much cooler, as the unit pushed itself harder. The image on the windshield turned into a mix of orange, red and yellow, albeit blurry.

"Calibrating exterior camera, please wait."

A few seconds later, the blur decreased and it was easier to see through the thick magma, as if we were granted lava-vision making it look more like orange juice, greatly improving visibility. It felt as if we were going underwater, not through fucking lava.

A couple more seconds passed as the camera calibrated further. The sight being unraveled before us was unbelievable.

We could only see the very top of several buildings from where we were. They were so high, it was impossible to see their bases due to the "fog" underneath! They looked only a little bit less advanced than the ceiling-bound buildings above yet still packed with flashing lights, signs, and even billboards — however it was very hard to see their contents. Although in less density than above, there were still plenty of cars going around, even motorcycles — which looked more like small pods than cars. There were plenty of creatures just swimming through, as well.

That wasn't just enough. In the distance, we could make out the shape of a giant structure, far larger than all the surrounding buildings.

"Eugene?" I noticed he didn't say a single word. He was wide-eyed, unable to process the sight before him, and that made me giggle. "Just wait till we find out what's over there."

The Jet Streamer was severely slow in the lava, so taking the opportunity to increase the speed, we started to take our merry way approaching the hulking mass. It took a few minutes, but we eventually could get a clearer look on what it was.

A gigantic submarine. I had to keep my excitement in check though. It wasn't clear if it was the S.S Noah. Another few minutes of travel made it absolutely clear.

Written on the side of the sub was indeed S.S. NOAH in a font far larger than our car. Above and below it was what I assumed to be its name, but in other languages.

"Fuck yeah!!" Both of us high-fived. It's like my team won a baseball match.

"We should go in and see what's up!" He suggested.

Setting the speed to 150%, my course of action was clear. "Of course I will!"


Nearly an hour passed while swimming towards the Noah. I didn't think it possible that the AC could work that aggressively and yet be unable to stop me from sweating heavily.

From where I was at, it was clear that the Noah had "canals", or square tunnels in the sub itself. Cars could either enter or exit through one of these tunnels — although the number of vehicles using them was probably not bigger than twenty at any given time. These canals were all clearly marked as either "ENTRANCE" or "EXIT", so I steered the Streamer toward one of the entrances.

A pre-recorded announcement played through the car speakers when going in. "Welcome aboard the S.S. Noah, lovingly and proudly built by the District of Gremory. Please stop your vehicle in the green area. Thank you."

That green area turned out to be a part of the tunnel in which the walls had green lights shining even through the dense lava, and a dead end. Setting the speed to 0% made the car stop in a jolt.

"The next lava drain begins in two minutes. Please wait. Thank you." Another car stopped right next to us.

We waited for a minute before Eugene broke the silence. "Man, I'm itching to know what it's all like inside."

"I just want to know if we could stand a chance against that bank and get some more information."

"The next lava drain is in 10, 9, 8..."

The "side mirror" on my windshield display showed me something interesting. The green area had already turned yellow, and a van approached; on its side was a name. "BANK NOAH".

"6, 5, 4..."

If that van held anything valuable, then it would be all too easy — in theory anyway. I didn't have to rob the bank itself.

"2, 1..." A wall emerged from the ground behind us, going up until it hit the ceiling so hard that a loud thud reverberated, trapping us in a small, confined area, which I assumed to be the canal lock. "Lava drain is in progress, please wait. Thank you."

I could hear a sound, which I guessed was some mechanism sucking the lava out of the lock.

If I figured it out correctly, then all I had to do was take one of these vans and hope I wouldn't get caught by SecuRa, or whatever fresh horror that posed as security. The biggest problem was how to do it. Whether by design or coincidence, it was absolutely impossible to carjack anything as long as it was in the air or the lava. I had to take it while inside the sub and close to the ground.

The top of the screen wasn't covered in lava anymore; we were emerging out of the draining magma at a rapid pace. In another minute, there wasn't any of it left.

In about twenty more seconds, the wall in front of us slowly retreated to the ground without much of a noise. "Lava drain complete, and welcome aboard the S.S Noah. Thank you." By then, the Jet automatically switched off submarine mode, turning back again to a regular but well armored car. The yellow lights, which took up a square area of the next section, also turned green.

Just beyond the newly opened way forward were rows of parked cars, including a row right in front of the entrance, with plenty of empty spots. Indeed, it was a multi-storey parking garage, with each floor having enough room for only one flight level shared with parked vehicles — the up and down buttons were disabled.

Eugene looked at the screens, and apparently he was a little drowsy. "Where are you going next?"

I slightly raised the speed. "Nowhere. I'm gonna park for a bit."

When I was only a few feet away from an empty spot, the dashboard lit up with an interesting prompt. "Do you want to auto-park?" Tapping the "yes" prompt changed the entire dashboard to a single "Auto Parking..." message as the Jet backed out, turned around, and then parked with its back to the wall. Technology.

I smiled at Eugene. "Okay, we're gonna wait."

"Wait?" He seemed confused. "What for?"

"There's a van I gotta tail."

His face lit up, as if he had an "aha!" moment. "The Bank Noah one, right?"

"Yes." With no cars in the green light zone, it turned yellow and the wall went up, sealing that side of the tunnel again. I did bring some of my new books, so it was easy for me to not get bored even if it took an eternity for the van to appear. It would take another five minutes for the lock to open another time, revealing the much coveted van. When it turned left, I put down the book and started moving, making sure to keep my distance so that my imaginary Spookometer wouldn't fail the mission.

The garage was a little bit of a maze, but signs and road markings were pretty clear about the path to the exit, so neither was the driver unpredictable, nor did I appear suspicious.

Leaving the garage, I was treated to yet another sight. A narrow but tall vastness of space separated giant balconies of iron on either side of the sub. There were several levels of the balconies, to the point that the people on the lowest level looked more like small moving spots! A large number of cars flew within the gap, sometimes going through holographic billboards that were wide enough to reach both sides of the balconies.

One of the ads we passed through had an animated background of smoke going up, with "SMOKE - The Innovative Game Store" written with a white font in the middle and "Download now." at the bottom. Another animated advertisement showed a guy with a paintbrush drawing the logo for Asmodeus Colors, with a window showing up and displaying a new color being selected before the next character was drawn. "Our subscriptions just got cheaper" was written in the bottom-right corner.

If I could somehow travel back to the past and tell my younger self about what Hell really looked like, she literally wouldn't believe herself. For a place of eternal punishment, it just never ceased to amaze.

Regardless, the bank van was driving through that gap a little slowly — which wasn't good, but thankfully lots of other vehicles were already moving in its direction at various speeds. It wasn't hard to blend in. The van went north and upwards to the very top balcony, extremely close to the iron ceiling of the sub, and made it to the east side. Several big companies were set up on the top balcony, including Nest Foods, Last Storm Games, and Cassandra's Clandestine, all of which had extremely fancy entrances — glass windows so you could see the entire reception room, and a view of the upper two floors. You could tell the culture of each of these workplaces simply by the decor and employee behavior (or lack thereof). Among these companies was Bank Noah. The same setup as the others, but packed to the brim with people, most of them trapped in a large reception area with obnoxious brown walls and sitting on overused black leather couches. The area inside and in front of the bank was packed with clients, all of them wearing suits and a few wore casual but neat clothing. Realizing that everyone here parked at the edge of the balcony, I took an empty spot.

Right next to the bank's entrance was a private garage, which was where the van stopped by two gun-wielding demon guards. One of these guards obtained documentation from the driver, while the other inspected the vehicle from inside for a minute, all before they finally let it into the garage.

The moment I realized Eugene was snoring was also the moment it got on my nerves, so I elbowed the sleeping Eugene, jolting him awake. "What the fuck? You really slept through all that?" Waving with my hand towards the screens, Eugene blinked rapidly as if he found it difficult to keep them open. It was obvious he was too sleepy to be at least mildly excited by the bank, if not the submarine interior itself.

"Wha-wha-what are you talking about?" Heh, he was flustered.

I turned my head towards the bank as shown on the display. "We made it already."

His head followed mine. "Ah, that's nice. That's what you wanted to do, right?"

"Yeah, I'm outta here. We'll figure this all out later."

Turning the car around, I began thinking about how I'd even approach this thing. While Eugene was now awake enough to be astonished by the size and overall impressiveness of the Noah, I wasn't sure it'd be even possible to carjack the van. The only time we could pull it off is right in front of the bank, and right in front of the security?

Meh, I forgot. Maybe while exiting the sub? I was going to get out anyway, so checking if I had an opportunity was on the table. All I had to do was go back to one of the parking garages all around the sub.

I followed the road markings again, this time heading towards the exit until I hit a tunnel that was abruptly cut off by a wall which was behind another green light floor. I stopped there.

The announcer came on the radio. "Thank you for being aboard the S.S. Noah. Please wait in the green area." In about two minutes, the wall went down, and the area I was on turned yellow, so I moved it into the green area inside the canal lock.

"The next lava filing begins in two minutes. Please wait. Thank you."

And so the two minutes passed. "Lava filling is in progress. Please wait. Thank you."

The wall went up behind us with the same loud thud. In five seconds, the Jet Streamer automatically turned on submarine mode, and in another five seconds, the floor was already partially covered in lava. A few minutes later, the announcer said the lava filling was complete. We were back into the sea of magma, and eventually, going home.