The First Nonary Game, also known to Cradle Pharmaceutical as the Nonary Project, was a game that was played in November 2018. It was constructed by four executives from Cradle Pharmaceutical: Gentarou Hongou, the CEO; Nagisa Nijisaki, Hongou's right-hand man; Teruaki Kubota, creator of the RED and DEAD among other technology; and Kagechika Musashidou, the company's majority stockholder and financier of the project. Ultimately, Free the Soul was responsible for and helped fund the project.
- "Hmph. You could never understand. You don't know what it's like to spend every day surrounded by monkeys."
- — Gentarou Hongou to Akane Kurashiki
Cradle Pharmaceutical created the game to test for telepathy between the morphogenetic field. To achieve this, one of Cradle's hospitals secretly tested siblings as part of the Ganzfeld Experiment. This was essentially a screening process -- those who showed promise and had potential were selected and later kidnapped.
However, Hongou also created the game for his own personal reasons. His goal was to find a cure for his prosopagnosia via the morphogenetic field and allow him to perceive faces.
It is also possible that one of the secret agendas of the Nonary Game was for Akane Kurashiki to be put in a situation where her life was on the line, and allow her esper abilities to strengthen. The First Nonary Game was a catalyst for this. As revealed in Zero Time Dilemma, Delta, a leader of Free the Soul, knew much about Akane and in her involvement in the Nonary Game. Without Akane having esper powers, Delta would never have been born, and subsequently, he would be unable to stop the religious fanatic.
Hongou put nine in a building in the Nevada Desert known as Building Q and another group of nine on a sinking ship known as the Gigantic, which he had received from the successors of Dashiell Gordain. Both locations were mirror images of the other, so the siblings could transfer solutions to each puzzle through morphic resonance. The transmitters were put in Building Q and the receivers were put on the Gigantic.
However, during the placing of the children, two got swapped and each location had one pair of siblings together. The siblings together on the Gigantic ship were Aoi Kurashiki and Akane Kurashiki, with Akane being the transmitter and Aoi being the receiver. Also in their group were Light Field and Nona Kashiwabara.
During the experiment, it had gone awry when Seven, a police detective, attempted to locate and rescue the kidnapped children. He had heard about the location of the experiment from a man from Cradle Pharmaceutical. Although he was abducted and placed in a cell, he had found a way out through the ventilation system. There, he managed to open up the vent cover for the incinerator and lower a rope made of bedsheets to the four remaining children: Light, Nona, Akane and Aoi, and pull them into the vent while the other five children had went through Door 9. However, Seven was spotted by Hongou, whom Seven recognized during his investigation, when Hongou saw him pulling Aoi into the vent.
As they went through the duct, they went through another direction, since there was no point on returning to Seven's cell. When another duct had met theirs, heading down, all of them slid down the duct to find themselves in a narrow hallway. The left side of the hallway had a regular double-door while the other side had the entrance to the incinerator. With no other way to go, all five of them went to the double-door only to find a large spiral staircase. They quickly ran up the stairs, but during their escape, Aoi noticed that Akane was nowhere to be found. Aoi told Seven that he needed to go back for her. Seven reluctantly agreed and Light insisted on coming too.
While they were running the stairs beforehand, Akane had noticed she had dropped Junpei's present, a voodoo doll he had called June. She quickly ran towards the opposite direction when they were out of sight and went back to retrieve her doll. As she picked up her doll, she was caught by Hongou and he dragged her back into the incinerator. Although she resisted, it was futile and he had ultimately placed her into the incinerator, despite the others coming back for her. Hongou soon placed two numbered bracelets created by Teruaki Kubota by the RED and exited the incinerator through the double-doors. Akane was saved by Junpei in the future, and the children escaped the ship. The Gigantic sank and Seven rowed the children back to safety.
Seven pursued a personal case against Cradle Pharmaceutical -- not as part of his organization, but due to pressure from higher-ups, he was told, "don't get involved in this case." This shows the influence Free the Soul and Cradle had over society and the police force. Unfortunately, a lot of the evidence of the Nonary Game was covered up. Hazuki Kashiwabara attempted an investigation but found nothing.