This article, Danganronpa R1, is property of Mirai Moon.
|Writer||Mirai Moon (talk)|
Danganronpa R1 is a reimagining of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc written by Mirai Moon (talk). The story is set within Hope's Peak Academy, a high school for students who are exceptionally talented within a single field. Fifteen of these students, known as "Ultimates", are forced into a game where they are forced to either kill or be killed without getting caught by their classmates. The original Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc was written by Danganronpa series scenario writer Kazutaka Kodaka.
Contrary to what may seem obvious, the "R" in the story's title does not stand for "Rewrite", "Reimagining", "Reboot", etc. Instead the "R" stands for "Resignation". Additionally, while the story's title does contain the number one, it may not explicitly be the beginning of a series.
Prologue: Welcome, Students of Despair!
Darkness. An empty, murky darkness. My consciousness floats in this hollow darkness. In my mind I feel myself floating, yet I see nothing below, above, or around me. Only a murky black.
And then, I hear it. A bell.
BING BONG! DING DONG!
My eyes shoot open at the unexpected sound and I quickly whip my head upwards to look at my surroundings. I'm sitting down in a small, dimly-lit room at a desk. In front of me sit three more rows of desks all aligned in neat rows in front of a black chalkboard. I'm in a classroom. I think, my drooped eyelids blocking the top part of my vision as I fight back dreariness.
I slowly push away from the desk and stand up, noticing a sharp pain in my head as I move my body for the first time. I wince, placing my hand on my forehead as I lean against the desk. It's not just my head that aches, my entire body feels stiff, as if I was a rusty robot trying to move. It's not uncommon for me to doze off in class, but that's not the issue. I think back, trying to remember anything.
I remember my name: Makoto Naegi. I remember a letter. A small sticker placed on the envelope was one not unfamiliar to me, or to anyone in this world. I try and think back but pain shoots through my head and I stagger. I glance around, looking for something to try and help me figure out what's going on, and I notice them.
The windows, or where windows would be in any other school building, were plastered over with large metallic slabs, bolts protruding from its edges at all sorts of angles, as if whoever put them in was in a hurry. I reach towards the window and try to pull the slab off, but it doesn't budge but an inch. After a few moments of using all of my strength to rip it off the wall, I back away, my shoulders and hands in even more pain then before.
Then I stop and think. If I'm in school, and heard a school bell ring.... then where is everybody?
That should have been my first concern. I push away from the window and slowly walk towards the door, placing my hand atop each desk I pass to keep my balance. The door opens easily - it wasn't even closed all the way - and I peek out into the hallway. It's tinted purple, and I look up to see purple glass covering the lights above. This hallway wouldn't seem out of place in a haunted house, I think, all it's missing is a spiderweb.
I peer both ways. To my right, a gated-off door, to my left a hallway. With no other choice, I head that way, leaning my hand against the wall as I walk. After only a few steps, I hear something. A quiet something. Multiple somethings: voices. At that, I pick up my pace.
I follow the voices to a doorway, that I slowly open and enter.
"What?" I can't help but be shocked at what I see.
Fourteen teenagers, all about my age I'd assume, all stand gathered. But that's not what I'm surprised about- it's the giant door behind them that looks like something you would see in a high-security bank vault. "So that makes fifteen then." One voice reverberates from in front of me, and my focus returns to the other teenagers.
"Huh?" I say. "Oh. Yeah. My name is Makoto Naegi."
A taller male with wild brown hair steps forwards. "Yo Makoto! My name's Yasuhiro Hagakure." He is not one to care for appearances, I can tell; he wears an un-buttoned dress shirt over top an orange polo shirt that clearly has seen better days.
"Um..." a small girl steps forwards next. Her green and white top really bring out her hazel eyes and hair. "Did you... happen to wake up in a classroom?"
"Huh? You too?" I reply quickly.
The first guy - Yasuhiro - speaks next. "It's not just you, we all just woke up here."
A girl with long purple hair tied into two long braids, wearing a purple school uniform and large circular glasses chuckles from the back of the crowd. "Not together, mind you." she quickly yells as she points at Yasuhiro Hagakure. I feel like I recognize that girl from somewhere, but I can't figure out why.
"It's rather impolite of us all to have a conversation like this without knowing each other's names!" shouts a black-haired fellow wearing a pure-white ensemble with a red band clipped to his left arm. "My name is Kiyotaka Ishimaru! Nice to meet you!" he says enthusiastically while bowing.
"Yeah, okay. It's better if we refer to everyone by name instead of just as 'guy with black hair' or whatever." says a girl with strawberry-blonde hair tied into two large pigtails. She smiles. "My name is Junko Enoshima."
"Wha--?" says a larger man with a face that could be compared to a gopher's. "You're not THE Ms. Enoshima, are you!?"
"Yeah yeah. Fashionista extraordinaire and part-time model." she rolls her eyes, as if disgusted with herself. "That's me!"
I recognize the name as a teenage model who has become famous throughout Japan. Well, I just assume she's famous; I've never actually paid much attention to her. My sister though, she's really into those fashion magazines, and would probably be super excited if she were in my shoes right now.
After Junko explained that she is "THE Junko Enoshima!" and answered a few questions, our introductions continued. The larger gopher man was named Hifumi Yamada. There is also Aoi Asahina, Sakura Ogami, Mondo Owada, Leon Kuwata, and Celestia Ludenberg. The name small of the small girl who spoke to me earlier is Chihiro Fujisaki.
"I'm.... Toko Fukawa." said the girl with long hair and large glasses.
"Oh! That's where I know you from!" I say without thinking, startling her. "You wrote a book didn't you?"
"Yeah... that's right." she replies, looking away from me. "You read it?" I could hear a bit of shock in her voice, and while I couldn't see her eyes clearly as she turned her head, I did detect a bit of anger.
I put my hands up defensively. "I'm sorry, I didn't read it. But my sister, and a lot of my classmates did." At that, Toko shifts away slowly without saying a thing.
Introductions continued, though the next two - Kyoko Kirigiri, Byakuya Togami - only stated their names and had a look of distrust in their eyes. Finally came...
"I'm Sayaka Maizono." she says with a smile. "You said--" but before she could finish her sentence, she was cut off by another school bell.
"Ahem. Uh, hello? Hello?! Is this thing on? Hmm... Well then! The entrance ceremony is about to begin, so if everyone could please make their way to the gymnasium, that would be wonderful!" the voice was cutesy, high-pitched.... but extremely unnerving. Something about this voice, which would fit right in in a children's television show, was terrifying to me, and looking around, I could see the same skepticism that is on my face painted on the faces of some of the others.
"Entrance ceremony?" I say with a tilt of my head. I guess that would make sense... this IS a school.
"Something's weird about this." Kyoko Kirigiri mutters, with a hand cupped around her chin. She remains at a stand-still while most of the others grumble and head off towards the gymnasium. Their conversations cross over each other, but Kyoko remains collected and in place, even when Hifumi nudges her by accident as he passes by.
After a few moments only six of us remain: me, Sayaka Maizono, Kyoko Kirigiri, Mondo Owada, Junko Enoshima, and Byakuya Togami. The voices of the others echo through the open door, but within this room it's relatively silent. Mondo is the one to break that silence: "What kind of messed up shit is this?" He yells, throwing a punch at the vault door.
"Calm down, pompadour." Junko says as she crosses her arms. "Punching this... vault isn't going to do anything!"
He grumbles an agreement, and looks at Kyoko. "So what's wrong with us? Why did we all stay behind?"
"That voice..." I mutter. "It was..."
"Odd?" Sayaka prompts me, and I nod. Kyoko throws a glance at me.
"Judging from the decor, we are most likely in Hope's Peak Academy." she spouts quickly.
"And how do you figure?" Byakuya, calm and with a superior aura emitting from him, asks while he avoids meeting anyone's eyes.
"A rather simple answer: I've been here once before." Kyoko responds. "This situation is abnormal however. And there's that gap in my memory..."
Now that she mentions it, yes- there is a gap in my memory. I remember getting a letter in the mail, but I can't remember anything after opening the letter. "You too?" I ask her.
"I remember... getting a letter..." Sayaka muses.
"Seems like we're all in this same boat." Mondo says, before once again punching the door. The sound of his hand pounding the metal door reverberates through the room, and we all remain silent so we can hear it do so.
"I doubt we'll be able to figure this out just by standing around here." I point out, and I start to stroll towards the door. Before I exit around the corner, I hear several pairs of footsteps behind me, but I don't bother looking back until I get to the gym.
Opening the gym door leads to a small gathering area. I take a quick glance around: shelves line the walls, all filled with medals and trophies. "Is this a sword?" I hear from beside me, and look up to see Sayaka Maizono admiring just that- a sword. It is coated in golden flakes, and just looking at it I can tell that it must be fairly old.
"There you all are!" another voice booms. This time I turn around and see Kiyotaka standing in the doorway to the actual gymnasium. "To be late on your first day of school! What foolishness!"
Junko leans in close to him, and he hops back. "What's the big deal if we're late? Haven't you noticed that nobody else is in this place?"
"That is very suspicious." Kyoko remarks.
"Nonsense! I'm sure they're all hiding and will come out once the Entrance Ceremony begins."
"What-ever!" Junko puts her hand on Kiyotaka's shoulder and nudges him aside so she - and the rest of us - can pass. We all stand around in the gym for a few moments, wondering what to do and chattering among ourselves. After a few moments, the high-pitched voice rings out again and we all fall silent. "Are you all here yet? This is everyone, yeah? Alright!"
We all turn towards the stage...... but there's nothing there.
"Turn around!" the voice rings out and, almost as if choreographed, we all spin around 180° to see....
"A teddy bear?" the small Chihiro Fujisaki is the first of us to speak.
"I'm not a teddy bear." the thing that is clearly a teddy bear replies. "I am Monokuma!"
"Well," Celestia begins. "At least you recognize that you're a bear." It takes me a second to understand what she means, but I quickly get it: Monokuma comes from the English word "monochrome", as in "black and white", and the Japanese word "kuma", meaning "bear". That about sums up Monokuma's appearance nicely: a bear whose left half is black and right half white. A slightly rotund creature, his most interesting trait is his strange red eye.
"I'm not the one who came up with my name!" Monokuma replies harshly, waving his hands. "Mamakuma named me after my great-great-great..."
"Can someone explain what's going on here?" Yasuhiro asks, cutting him off mid-sentence, to which Monokuma yells and begins hopping up and down. "Is this some kind of joke?"
We all decide to tune out Monokuma - he's clearly not helping. "Whose teddy bear is this?" Hifumi asks the group, but he gets no response. Off behind us, I hear Monokuma yell "I'm not a teddy bear!" but I don't care enough to acknowledge him.
"Maybe he knows where we are?" Aoi suggests. She turns to him and straight-up asks him just that: "Hey! Mr. Bear Guy! Where are we? what's going on?"
"You fifteen are the newest students chosen to attend my school."
"Well that was no help." Yasuhiro interrupts again.
"What do you mean by your school?" Sakura Ogami inquires.
"Do you mean to tell us that you built this school?" Byakuya questions next.
"Well... no. I didn't build this school. But I am its headmaster!"
"Oh! Where are my manners, Headmaster Monokuma!" Kiyotaka rushes up to the bear - our apparent headmaster - and swiftly bows. "It is an honour to be in your presence."
"Well at least one of you knows how to be polite." Monokuma remarks, looking at the rest of us. Though his face doesn't change, I sense a bit of anger in his glance. "Now then, shall we get this Entrance Ceremony under way?"
"Wait, you were serious about that?" Leon asks him. "Can you at least tell us what's going on?"
Monokuma answers as he meanders towards the stage. "I hope my little speech will answer all of your questions." He eventually reaches the podium and ducks behind it, and a few moments later we see him climbing up the back of it to sit atop it. "Now then: welcome everyone to Hope's Peak Academy!"
So she was right! I think quickly.
"You mean THE Hope's Peak Academy?" Hifumi asks him, in shock. "The one that scouts 'Ultimate' students?"
"Wait was that a surprise?" Monokuma puts a paw up to his mouth as he cocks his head. "Didn't you all get your entrance letters?"
"I do remember getting a letter, but I can't remember what it said." I point out. "If I'm right, none of us do."
Monokuma sits in silence for a few moments, before he holds one of his paws up in front of his face, clearly angry despite not changing facial expression. "What!? Well, I guess it doesn't matter." he clears his throat (Does he have a throat?) before continuing. "You fifteen students represent the hope of Japan, the hope of the world. Together, I want to see you all grow closer together, form bonds.
Then, I want you to kill each other."
What!? I think. No, I don't think it, I say it. No, I yell it. We all do.
"Kill each other!?" Celestia asks him, her voice calm but her face showing surprise.
"See normally, here at Hope's Peak Academy, we promote growing to create a beautiful, ever-lasting hope that will bring peace to the world. Or something. This year we thought it would be best to trap the fifteen of you within the confines of the school indefinitely and have you kill each other.
"The big guys up top decided this would be a good idea. You guys kill each other - you can stab, skewer, suffocate, poison, mutilate, whatever - and you can leave. That's how this school works."
"So, we can either kill someone and leave, or remain here together indefinitely?" Byakuya Togami says, his voice and mannerisms exuding confidence and an aura that says "I really don't care."
Monokuma mutters beneath his breath, inaudible to us, before continuing his spiel: "Exactly! Of course, I wouldn't want you guys to kill each other all willy-nilly; where's the fun in that?" he holds a box up above his head. "I have, in this box, fifteen e-Handbooks. These devices show your name when you boot up and you even get a map of the first-floor of the school. Cool, huh?
"Not only that, these bad boys also have all of the school regulations built in to 'em, so you can check them whenever you want and get familiar with them. It's basically an all-in-one tool!"
He throws the box out into the crowd, and I catch it. Just like he said, there are fifteen small tablet-like devices within it.
"W-w-wait... I don't want to know about t-this e-Handbook thing. What was that about k-k-killing each other?" Toko stutters, chewing on the tip of her right thumb.
"Huh? Are you guys still hung up on that? Basically, if you guys want to leave this place then you've gotta kill each other. Either that or you all can live here in Hope's Peak for the rest of your lives."
"But I don't want to do either of those." Chihiro sobs. Most of us shout similar things to the bear, but I stand silently just trying to process what I've heard. It's like something out of a movie. I think. This can't be real.
"Just, get yourselves acquainted with each other and the rules or plan your murder or whatever!" Monokuma yells before he jumps behind his podium and disappears.
After a few moments, Celestia wanders up to me and fishes around through the box of e-Handbooks, searching for her's. She eventually does find it, and several others decide to repeat her, myself included. After I find mine, I scan the menu and see a "Rules and Regulations" button, and tap it cautiously.
- Rule #1: Students may reside only within the school. Leaving campus is an unacceptable use of time.
- Rule #2: "Nighttime" is from 10 pm to 7 am. Some areas are off-limits at night, so please exercise caution.
- Rule #3: Sleeping anywhere other than the dormitory will be seen as sleeping in class and punished accordingly.
- Rule #4: With minimal restrictions, you are free to explore Hope's Peak Academy at your discretion.
- Rule #5: Violence against headmaster Monokuma is strictly prohibited, as is destruction of surveillance cameras.
- Rule #6: Anyone who kills a fellow student and becomes "blackened" will graduate, unless they are discovered.
- Rule #7: Additional school regulations may be added if necessary.
"This isn't real... This isn't real..." I hear from my right. I look, and see Sayaka Maizono huddled up in a ball on the ground. She's not the only one like this- as I look around, most of us look like zombies. Devoid of life, our skin pale. That can't be true....... can it? I wonder in my mind.
"Well, if we're done here, I'll be taking my leave." Byakuya Togami announces proudly. I want to yell "we don't even know if it's safe" but, even though I just met him, I know I'd be ignored. "I'd advise you all to do the same."
I shake my head. "What do you mean?"
"What do I mean? What do you think I mean. Any one of us may be plotting to murder. It's just a matter of time."
"No one here would do such a thing!" I yell, furious.
"And how could you be so sure?" he lifts an eyebrow. "We just met each other. How can you be so sure that no one in this room has the ability to murder another human being?"
I want to shout, to prove him wrong, but he turns away and exits before I can say anything. "No one would do that." I say, first quietly to myself, then aloud. "None of us would ever murder another person!"
Chapter 1: Our School Life
It's been four days since we learned we were trapped within the walls of Hope's Peak Academy. Four days since we met Monokuma, since we learned we would need to kill to escape. For four whole days, we wandered around the first floor of the school, hoping to find an exit, or a clue as to why we're trapped here. Every day we all met up at noon - well, most of us met up - to discuss our findings, and every day we reported the same results.
"It seems our efforts to escape have been futile." Sakura says, casting her eyes downwards as she sits cross-armed in her chair. To her right, Aoi, her face reflecting the despair many of us feel.
"There's still the second floor." I say. "If only we could find some way to get the grate up." There were staircases on this floor of the school, staircases that went up, but each one was blocked by a grate. One day, when we were musing about how we could open them, Monokuma appeared and told us that they'd open up in time. Now, after having spent days in this school, I wonder if he had lied.
"Your efforts to escape, as always, have been useless." Byakuya mutters, looking away from us as he sipped a cup of tea. Across from him, Celestia Ludenberg (who plopped into that seat as Byakuya Togami shot her a disgraced look) does the same. "If you truly wish to escape," he starts again, putting the tea down, "then simply commit murder."
Every day we reported that we had found no way to escape, but today was the first day since that Byakuya Togami (and Toko Fukawa, who just seemed to follow him around everywhere) had joined us. The idea of murder was always present on our minds; though I truly believed no one here would do such a thing, I couldn't deny the possibility that Monokuma would force someone to.
"Either that," Celestia sighs, "or simply adapt to this new life. The ability to adapt to new situations is an exceptional quality one must have for survival." She picks up her tea again and sips it. "Simply accept that we're trapped here."
"Yeah but that's booooooooring!" a new voice rings out. This was one we seldom heard, but sent shivers down each of our spines. We all turn towards the source of the voice- the head of the table.
"I just don't get it." Monokuma says, struggling to climb up onto the large rectangular table at which we sat. "Why won't someone just kill already!?"
I slam my hands against the table and prop myself up. "No one here would ever play along with you Monokuma!" I yell, and for a second my voice reverberates through the silent room.
"I got it!" is my only reply. "I know why you won't kill. Why you won't murder." Monokuma taps his paw against his cheek. "You need a motive!"
"A motive?" Kiyotaka asks. "Excuse me, headmaster Monokuma, but what do you mean by 'motive'?"
"A motive!" Monokuma answers cheerfully.
"Very descriptive." Byakuya replies, rolling his eyes. "So tell me, bear, what is this motive that you speak of?"
"Let's see... I'm sure some of you may be able to guess your Ultimate talents by what memories you do have... but you don't actually remember reading the Hope's Peak Academy acceptance letter, correct?" Monokuma ponders for a moment.
"Do you intend to use our so-called 'Ultimate' talents as your motive?" Kyoko asks the bear bluntly. "I do not see how that would be an acceptable motive."
"Yeah, yeah... You're right..." Monokuma answers.
"Can you tell us anyway?" Yasuhiro asks Monokuma. "I dunno about you, but I'm actually curious about how I ended up here. If I am an 'Ultimate', that is."
"Hold on one moment!" Monokuma yells at us all. "I'm thinking here!" he holds his pawns up in the air as if to say "stop right there", but, aside from Hiro's question, none of us were really doing anything to begin with.
Suddenly: "Oh! I know. I've got just the thing. I was planning to keep this for later, but oh well." Monokuma shrugs. "Your motive will be in the A/V Room." he quickly explains before disappearing.
"A video?" Chihiro squeaks.
"Interesting..." Kyoko wonders aloud. "He's not forcing us to see what his motive is; meaning that getting us to all kill each other must not be his true goal." Though she muttered that last part, I managed to hear it as I sit right next to her. Sayaka, who sits across from me, shoots me a glance. She must have heard it too.
"I think we should check it out." Sakura announces after a few quiet moments. "It's possible this motive may have a time limit to it."
Kyoko understands and nods. "'Commit murder within two days or else x will happen.'" she muses. "While it is dangerous, perhaps we should check it out just to be sure."
"If anything, we could just send one person to check what the motive is; that way, if something does happen, we'll know right away who the culprit is." Hifumi says as he adjusts his glasses. He then points, and in a deeper voice says: "A brilliant idea!"
"Then I shall be the one to go!" Kiyotaka says as he pushes away from the table. "It is my duty to see to it that none of my classmates are harmed."
"No." I say. "I'll go." I stand up. "I truly believe none of us will commit murder, even with this motive."
"An excellent idea." Byakuya chuckles. "It's not like you'll be able to kill anyone anyways."
I feel like I should take offence to that, but at the same time it sounds somewhat like a compliment.
"I-I'll go with you." Sayaka says, standing up across from me. Over the last few days, she's decided to act as my sidekick. The two of us once attended the same school - Black Root High School - but were in different classes; I remembered, Sayaka's always been a very popular girl, but it surprises me to know that she even remembered me. I've never stood out, and we were never in any classes together; I don't think we ever interacted. Perhaps she's just really good with faces?
"I don't mind you coming with me." I thank her with a genuine smile, and she reflects it back at me. "Alright, let's go."
It doesn't take us long to get to the A/V Room, but the two of us stand outside of it in silence. "Well..." Sayaka whispers. "I... wonder what Monokuma's got planned for us."
I nod, and then push open the door... and stand in shock.
It takes me a few moments to comprehend what I see in front of me, and even more moments to register that Sayaka is screaming beside me.
The room is mostly empty; all of the DVD players that once lined the floor had been moved out of the way. The only thing remaining was the large television in the far wall, which played short clips that repeated over and over. Short clips of people being brutally murdered.
But not just any people- familiar people. In one clip, I clearly recognize my mother and father, huddled together and bleeding in a corner as Monokuma stands over them, slashing at anything in his reach. After a moment they slump over, and I see the light empty out of their eyes. The scene repeats over and over with others, presumably relatives or friends of my 'classmates', getting murdered instead, and the tape loops over and over.
Scene after scene. Sometimes it's Monokuma, sometimes a shadowy figure or group. Every time, those who were being attacked fall, unmoving into a pool of blood. Each time they look at the camera, the light in their eyes gone.
"This.... can't be real." I say, vaguely feeling tears dribble down my cheeks.
I turn around quickly and shut the door. I lean my back against it, and look at Sayaka. She had collapsed onto the ground and is wailing away; no doubt the others would hear her and come running... but I can't let them see this tape! Pressing up against the door, I search the doorknob for a lock, but there isn't one, and I am forced to remain on my feet, knowing full well I'll be unable to stop them from seeing this.
Sure enough, it doesn't take long for me to hear the sound of footsteps. "Are you okay?" I hear Aoi cry out.
"Don't come in!" I yell. I feel the door bounce as someone - likely either Mondo or Sakura - punch the door.
And then, I feel the ground fall away from my feet... and I feel my body crash into the ground with incredible force.
As my consciousness slips out of my grasp, I hear shocked voices ring out from behind me. I vaguely hear someone over me trying to say something, the words indistinguishable. And I see blood.
And then.... I'm awake.
My head hurts. I can't remember what happened to me.
I try and stand up, but my leg refuses to hold my weight and I smash into the ground. I put my hand up to my head and feel bandages, then I try and prop myself up using my sore arms.
"Makoto..." I hear from somewhere around me. Though the room is dark, I recognize this as my dormitory, my bedroom. I feel someone grab me from under my armpits and lift me back into my bed. I turn my head and see someone, their face indistinguishable in the darkness of the room, and with my blurred vision.
I see something shine in front of me. And then I feel pain. "You weren't going to recover." I hear. "We couldn't stop the bleeding..." my vision and hearing blurs for a moment - "...killed you. I'm just trying..." - again, the world fades away - "...sorry."
Darkness surrounds me, dragging me into the depths of despair.
I feel something wet drip onto my cheek.
And then I lose all feeling.
A few days earlier...
I sit at my desk. Monokuma's words from the day before keet bouncing through my skull, ringing a cursed song of despair. "You fifteen students represent the hope of Japan, the hope of the world. Together, I want to see you all grow closer together, form bonds. Then, I want you to kill each other."
That's what the monochromatic bear had said, and those words had kept me up all night. I sigh, looking at the drawer by my thigh. When we investigated the school we found a dorm room designated for each of us, and in each one we found a note from Monokuma. "I've left you all housewarming gifts!" it read. "For the girls, you get a sewing kit, with a map of the human body with all of its pressure points marked. For the guys, I've given you all toolkits, with a variety of items that may help you escape." He wasn't lying - we all found these items in each of our rooms.
I glance up at the ceiling, trying to ignore the large yellow security camera that hangs overhead, watching my every move. "It must be almost seven..." I mutter, and I feel my stomach rumble. I can't remember anything past when I obtained my acceptance letter to Hope's Peak, but I know for sure I haven't eaten anything since I woke up in this... prison. "I could use some breakfast." I continue. I'm a little groggy from my lack of sleep, but it's not the first time I've stayed up all night. I push my fatigue aside and slowly lumber to the door. I place my hand on the golden knob and inhale deeply. I'm worried, for what reason I'm not sure. I try and think something happy as I exhale and slowly turn the doorknob and pull open the door.
....and then I fall backwards onto the ground.
"Oh my god! Are you okay?" I hear a worried voice cry out to me, and I place my hand on my head as I open my eyes slowly. The voice is one not unfamiliar to me; though we may have only spoken to each other for the first time yesterday, I had heard this voice several times in the past. "I'm so sorry, Sayaka."
Makoto Naegi leans over me. He looks just as I remember him - spiky brown hair with a strand that sticks up in a little antenna, and that dark green hoodie he always wears. I smile as I reach for the hand he offers me. "No, it's my fault." I say, trying to force on a smile. Between our situation, lack of sleep, and now a pain in my head from when the two of us collided, I'm not exactly in the best mood but I put on my mask and smile brightly like I usually do.
"I guess we both should have paid more attention then." Makoto says with a laugh, and I can't help but chuckle. Even in this situation, Makoto has a carefree, yet positive, attitude - I can tell it just by looking at his olive green eyes. Once he calms down, I ask him what he's doing awake at this hour. "Believe it or not, I couldn't sleep. Or, rather, I couldn't really get to bed."
I tilt my head. What does he mean? I want to ask but he continues before I have a chance to. "Apparently my bathroom door was put in wrong, or at least that's what Monokuma told me. I went to the washroom, and then I couldn't figure out how to open my door until Monokuma decided to open it." He crosses his arms, and a look of annoyance crosses his face for the briefest of moments. "That stupid bear wouldn't stop laughing at the fact I got stuck in the washroom." At that, I can't help but laugh. I bring my hand up to try and hide it, but Makoto notices anyway and chuckles along with me. "I guess... I guess it is kinda funny, huh?"
After a little while we calm down, and I explain why I'm up: "Monokuma... I can't stop worrying about what it said. What's going to happen." I look at him and shake my head. From his expression I knew what he was going to say before he had a chance to - "Nothing's going to happen. We're all friends here!" - but I shoot him down as I shake my head and respond with something that is so unlike me. "The world is a cruel place, Makoto. Those who are closest to you may betray you at any moment." I had first-hand experience with that. "People are willing to do evil things, dangerous things, in order to get to the top."
Makoto frowns and shakes his head. "While it may be true that some people are selfish and will do bad things to get what they want, that doesn't mean everyone will!" He smiles. "I believe in everyone here. Nobody will kill each other if we just have hope and work together!"
"I knew that's how you'd feel." I mutter. He asks me how and I just reply with a shrug and a serene smile: "I'm psychic." He is taken aback for a moment by what I said, but I just think back on what he replied to me. "But I think you're right. If we work together and believe in one another, I'm sure we can get out of here safely."
I'm not sure why, but a single solitary thought crosses my mind as I say those words. But... do I want to escape?
"Oh yeah, I've been meaning to ask you." I say, after a few moments of silence. "You went to Black Root High School too, yeah?"
I stand over the bed. Yesterday, in the A/V Room, Makoto had been knocked unconscious when Sakura Ogami and Mondo Owada broke the door down, sending him head-first into the ground and into a concussion. Me, Sakura, Mondo, and Aoi Asahina had all been taking turns tending to the small, yet heavily-bleeding, wound on his head; though most of the others had helped look for supplies to bandage him up.
Right after I woke up, I had come to Makoto's room to see if he had gotten any better, and to change the bandages around his head. I hadn't been in Makoto's room since Monokuma made the nighttime announcement yesterday at 10pm, but the entire room looks unrecognizable. The bed is a pool of blood. Most of it had dried - it must had been here a while - and the smell had been absorbed into the walls, bed, and floor. In the centre of this pool of blood lay Makoto Naegi, his eyes closed and his mouth smiling peacefully. Without the blood, nothing would look wrong. Nothing, except the large knife sticking out of Makoto's chest.
The world began to spin around me. Over these past few days, it was Makoto's optimism that had helped me see each day through. And now...
Everything started to melt away in front of me as my throat ached; yet I couldn't hear nor see anything. As I began to collapse over in shock, I could vaguely make out the pounding of footsteps and a shriek.
I awake with a start, and slam my head - hard - into Aoi Asahina's. "What?" I ask, unaware of the sharp pain in my forehead.
"At last, you're awake." another voice rings out. I sit up, and look around: all of the others have gathered here, in the gymnasium. Byakuya Togami stands with his arms crossed glaring at me. "It's about time this game began." he scoffs as he turns away from me. "Now then, where's that bear?"
"What's going on?" I ask, my throat burning as I speak. Before I get an answer, an image flashes through my mind, and I remember. "Makoto...?" I squeak.
"My apologies." Sakura says. Like Byakuya, her arms are crossed, though she casts a melancholic glance downwards instead of the rich boy's more annoyed one. "Makoto Naegi is dead."
I feel my heart stop for a moment, and the colour of the world washes away for a single second. Makoto Naegi... is dead. My heart pains, thinking those words. Why him? I want to scream, but I instead sit in silence. I feel my cheeks dampen, and can only assume tears have begun to leak from my eyes.
My mask has been broken.
"Alright! The princess is up! Let's get this under way!" a new, yet familiar, voice calls out. With a snap we all turn towards the stage, just in time to see the small bear bounce upwards from behind the podium. "I'm sure, by now, you've all read the rules, correct?" he chuckles as he says those words.
"Finally, a proper explanation as to the true meaning behind the sixth rule in our eHandbook." Celestia says calmly, interrupting the one who trapped us here. "Or, am I incorrect for assuming that to be the reason behind your question?"
"Nope, Elvira, you've got that right on the nose." Monokuma comically taps his nose with his paw before continuing. "Rule number six:" - he feigns having to clear his throat - "'Anyone who kills a fellow student and becomes "blackened" will graduate, unless they are discovered.' Basically, after a murder occurs, we're going to hold a trial to see if you guys can figure out who the killer is."
After a moment of silence, it is Kyoko Kirigiri, who has barely said a word to anyone these last few days, who fills it. "What's the catch?"
"Oh? Why do you assume everything I do is dangerous? Isn't that how it usually works in the outside world? If you commit a crime, you get tried and have to pay your sentence." Monokuma laughs again, which echoes through the gymnasium and reverberates through all of our minds. "So here's the deal: after a murder is committed, I will allow you all to investigate to see if you can determine who killed one of your 'friends'. After enough time has passed, the Class Trial will-"
Kyoko repeats her question sharply, and without hesitation. "What's the catch?"
"You're a clever girl, Little Miss Lavender. I'm sure you've figured it out already." he chuckles as he answers her. An intense aura surrounds the two of them as they square off, and yet, even with Monokuma - or whoever's controlling him - being the one who trapped us here, I sense a stronger strength emanating from Kyoko. "Fine, let me spell it out for you dolts. I swear... kids these days."
"If you can figure out who committed murder, they alone will be punished... but if you determine the culprit incorrectly, everyone besides the murderer will be punished."
"And by punishment," Kyoko begins again, "I can only assume you mean..."
"DEATH! EXECUTION!" Monokuma yells. "If you commit the most dastardly sin - killing another human being - you're going to have to pay dearly for it; and how else to pay but with your life!?"
"Screw that!" a different voice rings out -- Junko Enoshima. "I don't get why we have to play detective for you."
"I guess, if you want you don't have to participate..." Monokuma begins, but is interrupted as Junko yells out "GREAT!" and begins to walk away. In the swiftest of movements, Monokuma bounces up, over all of us, and lands directly in front of her. "Ho-ho-HOLD IT!" he yells. "I didn't get to finish!"
Junko says nothing for a moment, an intense hatred burning from her eyes as she glares at the small bear in front of her. Kyoko calls out "I wouldn't!" but is ignored by all as Junko, in a move faster than any of us can keep track of, stomps down on Monokuma, flattening him to the ground. "So now, Mr. Monobear, what are you going to do about this!"
Monokuma flails about for a moment, grumbling and yelling obscenities. "You filthy... ugh! I was hoping I wouldn't have to do this..." he grunts, before laying still and silent. Then, "I call upon thee, Spears of Gungnir!"
"Spears of Gungnir?" Junko's eyes open wide for a moment as she comprehends what she heard. In one swift motion she kicks Monokuma's body away and performs a backflip out of the way, and just in time. Where Junko stood half a second ago, spears now protrude from the ground. Every spear - there must be at least ten of them! - is about as thick as a 100 yen coin, but they appear to be made of some sort of metal that wouldn't break easily. If Junko hadn't have moved, those spears would surely have punctured some important artery, and there'd be no way she'd be alive now. Monokuma is proof of that - he had barely been in range of the spears, and yet he had been stabbed cleanly through - his lifeless body now hanging limply on one of the silver poles.
I turn to Junko, and gasp. Her hair - no, her wig - is turned sideways on her head, and she grabs it and scrunches it up in a ball.
"I can't believe you!" Junko(?) yells, throwing her wig at the spears. "This wasn't part of the plan, Junko!"
"Junko? Junko, Junko, Junko, Junko?" Monokuma's voice rings over the loudspeaker once more. Though his husk remains stuck to one of the spears, another one appears back on the stage. He repeats the name "Junko" multiple times before letting loose a loud laugh. "Junko Enoshima is dead!"
"We can talk later. For now, we need to investigate the circumstances of Makoto Naegi's death." Kyoko Kirigiri levels her gaze at the girl who had been pretending to be Junko Enoshima.
"Agreed." Celestia says. "After all, our lives are on the line if we can't determine the culprit." She smiles, a somewhat serene one despite the current events unfolding around her. "I, for one, would rather not die here."
After the Spears of Gungnir came out of the ground and almost skewered our fifteenth, currently-unknown, classmate, we split up in two. This girl knew things about the current situation - that much was obvious - and Kyoko had decided that it'd be best if some people interrogated her while others investigated Makoto's death.
Me, Kyoko, Celestia, Hifumi, and Leon now all stand in Makoto's dorm room. The others - Byakuya, Aoi, Toko, Kiyotaka, and Sakura - were in the room belonging to "Junko", interrogating her. Chihiro was too afraid to really help the investigation, and felt like she would be incapable of assisting in an interrogation, so she and Yasuhiro went off to do... something. "I don't think Mister Hagakure is smart enough to commit murder, especially on a girl so sweet as Miss Fujisaki." Hifumi had remarked after we split up.
"I don't really get why you of all people would want to investigate Makoto's.... y'know..."
I realize I had been in a daze until Leon's voice - directed right at me - snapped me back to reality. "I need to uncover the truth of this case." I say, without hesitation, barely even cognizant myself of my own answer. He just shrugs. Kyoko told Hifumi and Leon to watch over the crime scene so that the killer couldn't come back and destroy evidence. Like there's any here to begin with.
Before we began our investigation, Monokuma had appeared and gave us something he called the "Monokuma File". This electronic pad contained a number of different "facts" relating to the murder. I look at it now for the first time.
"The victim is Makoto Naegi. The body was found splayed out on his bed; his assailant had attacked him with a sharp object that remains in his stomach. Prior to his death, Makoto had suffered a head injury that left him with a concussion and a deep wound to his forehead." I read aloud, then think for a moment. "Nothing about when he was killed, though."
Kyoko, kneeling over Makoto, begins to speak without even looking up. "When was the last time any of you had seen Makoto?"
Celestia, Leon, and Hifumi all answer that they hadn't seen him since they found him, knocked out, in the A/V Room the day before. After taking this in, Kyoko stares at me - the first time she moves her eyes away from Makoto. "I was last here a little before 10pm, making sure he was still healthy." I think back, he had been... well, not healthy. Alive at least. He had been in and out of consciousness all day, so we (Asahina, Sakura, Mondo, and I) had taken turns checking on him; trying to get him to drink water when he was somewhat conscious or changing his bandages if they got dirtied. "I left before Monokuma's announcement to get some water for myself from the kitchen, and then went to bed."
Kyoko nods slowly, before closing her eyes for a moment. Though I don't want to look at Makoto's forever-frozen face, I do so anyways. I need to uncover the truth of this case. I think. He was the most optimistic, hopeful individual I know; no one deserved to be murdered, but none more so than Makoto.
I look down at Makoto's face, and try and calm down. My heart beats at an incredible speed, but I don't look away. I force myself to investigate.
"Huh?" I hear myself ask. I had been the one to find Makoto's... corpse, but in my shock I hadn't taken in all the details. The bandages on his forehead were bloodied. I had changed his bandages when I had last seen him alive, and from what we've determined, his wound really only bleeds when he moves around too much. "He must have woken up when he was attacked." I think aloud.
Continuing my investigation, I remain focused on Makoto's face. Blood had flowed from his forehead wound down his face. "The way the blood flowed from his wound is odd." Kyoko mutters, before re-positioning herself on the other side of the bed. I look back at his face to try and figure out what she means, but I don't get it.
"The knife he was attacked with," Kyoko begins, muttering mainly to herself. "It likely came from the kitchen."
"No, it definitely did." Leon confirms quickly. "The knives in the kitchen come in a few different sizes, but I did notice a gap in-between two when I was in there."
"What's this?" I point to Makoto's sweater. The cloth on one of his armpits had been torn. "Do you think he was attacked here?" I ask Kyoko. She doesn't answer.
"My my, this place is certainly a mess." Celestia complains, and I glance her way. She's overlooking the small desk in the room, on which some supplies are sat. I sidle up to her and glance at the "mess" she's complaining about: bandages, bottles of water, pins, an apple that I had planned to give Makoto if he was awake, rubbing alcohol.
"What are those supplies doing here?" I ask, expecting no one to answer. I clearly remember, last night before I left, I had moved them. "Yesterday they were on the small round table" - I point at it - "when I had left." I picked up the supplies I was referring to - specifically, the bandages and pins.
"Ah, so it seems our killer had wanted to bandage up Makoto's wounds." Celestia remarks, a serious look on her face.
"Sayaka Maizono, if what you said was true..." Kyoko glares at me. "That drastically reduces the number of suspects." Without explaining herself, Kyoko then just struts silently to the doorway, and Hifumi, who was blocking it, just looking around silently, quickly steps aside.
"Where might you be going?" Celestia asks, puzzled. I too wish to know.
"To confirm my suspicions."
With that, she takes a right down the hallway.
"And now I shall take my leave." Celestia, like Kyoko, just silently struts to the door and exits, leaving me, Leon, and Hifumi alone in the room.
I exhale deeply, and collapse to my knees. With those two gone, I only now realize how stressed and sad I was. Makoto had been the one reminder of the outside world I had within the walls of this school; with him gone, what will I do now? I wanted to cry, I wanted to scream. All my life I had been able to wear a calm, serene mask; always pretending to be interested in every conversation, to always be cheerful and positive. When I saw Makoto, that mask shattered, and for the first time I realize how painful it was for me to wear it each day.
"So big guy, who do you think did it?" I hear Leon call to Hifumi. I appreciate that he doesn't ask if I'm okay - he, no, everyone, knows the answer: no, of course not. I don't pay attention to Hifumi's answer, but I do hear Leon react, quite comically, by responding with an elongated "Oh yeah."
Four electronic beeps ring out throughout the school, and it is quickly followed by the ever-irritating voice of Monokuma. Lost in my own thoughts, I don't pay attention to what he says, but after a few moments I feel a tap on my shoulder. I look up and see Hifumi looking down at me, sadness in his eyes. "I'm sorry, Miss Maizono. Monokuma has summoned us for the Class Trial."
I climb to my feet and lose my balance, but Hifumi grabs my shoulder to steady me. He puts on a deeper voice, trying to sound heroic, saying "I've got you, fair lady."
"Thanks, Hifumi." I say back to him, smile plastered on my face.
I'm once again putting on a mask, but this time just to keep me from collapsing again. I slowly walk out of the room, trailing Hifumi, who holds the door open for me. "Monokuma mentioned something about a red door in the school area." Hifumi begins as we walk in the direction of the cafeteria. I know what he's talking about, so I nod.
We continue there in silence, but I hear Hifumi mumbling to himself. "You can do this. You're the great ace attorney. A rising phoenix. You can do it."
I can't help but to chuckle as he psyches himself up. I take hold of that one, final glimmer of hope and happiness as we cross through the red door into a gloomy waiting room caked with despair.
The fourteen of us all wait in silence as the doors open in front of us to reveal an elevator. We all subconsciously stay away from "Junko", all except Celestia Ludenberg, who remains as straight-faced as always, standing straight beside the quiet stranger. The dreary lack of sound is broken as the elevator begins to move, clunking as we descend.
Five minutes later, the elevator suddenly stops. It takes a short moment before the doors open.
As they do, I mutter to myself: "And so it begins."
This showdown between hope and despair - the battle to distinguish the truth from the lies - begins now!
After the elevator stopped and the gates opened, Monokuma greeted us with his usual smile. As we stepped out, we found ourselves in a large circular room, with sixteen podiums standing in a circle. Each of us had our own, designated with our names burned into the fronts.
- Author's Note: Due to the rapid-fire nature of Class Trials, all dialogue will be written in script format for this section, as opposed to the normal novel format, with Sayaka Maizono's internal monologue in italics.
Monokuma: Ahem! Now then, let's begin with a basic explanation of the Class Trial! During the trial you'll present your arguments for who the culprit is, and vote for "whodunnit." Vote correctly, and only the blackened will be punished. But if you pick the wrong person... I'll punish everyone besides the blackened, and that person will graduate from this academy! Also, refusing to vote will result in your death, so you better vote for someone! Now, let's get this crazy, awesome, crazy-awesome trial underway!
Kyoko: Hold on, before we begin...
Kyoko gestures towards one of the podiums. In the place of a person, a picture frame sits atop a high pole. This picture shows the recently departed Makoto Naegi, his face monochromatic and a large red 'X' plastered over top.
Kyoko: What exactly is the meaning of this?
Monokuma: Hmmm? Wouldn't it be a terrible shame if your friends didn't allow you to participate in their game? This way, even the deceased can join the debate! Well... figuratively, of course.
Kyoko: However... twisted that way of thinking may be, may I also inquire about...
Kyoko shifts her gaze from Makoto's podium to an empty one, a few spaces across.
Kyoko: That empty one.
Monokuma: That's my spot, should I ever decide to join in on the debate.
Kyoko: I see.
Byakuya: Enough of these trifles. Our lives are on the line here, I'd rather not live my last moments among you peasants.
Sakura: Aye. We need to discuss the circumstances around Makoto's death.
Chihiro: So... i-is it true that one of... u-us killed Makoto?
Byakuya: Besides one of us, who could have killed him?
Mondo: Well, it's not entirely outside the realm of possibility that the bear killed him.
Monokuma: Why would I kill such an innocent young boy like... er, what was his name again?
Celestia: While it pains me to say so, I would have to agree with Monokuma. If he wanted to kill us himself, he wouldn't have set up this game. Rather, we'd all be dead.
Celestia makes a good point. No, Monokuma's motives for trapping us here must not be entirely because he wants us to be killed. But that's not the point of this trial. We need to figure out Makoto's--
Kyoko: Enough of this nonsense. Let's begin by confirming everyone's whereabouts for last night.
Hifumi: For... last night?
Sayaka: I last went to see Makoto last night, a little before the nighttime announcement played. If I would have to guess, I'd say it was... around 9pm?
Kyoko: While Sayaka has no one to confirm her testimony, that does give us a time frame for the murder.
Leon: Hold on just one moment. Shouldn't we already know who the killer is?
We already know?
Before I can ask what he means, Leon points at the girl who acted as Junko Enoshima. Short black hair, and her face covered in freckles. Without the wig, she looks absolutely nothing like the fashionista whose face is all over magazines; with it, well, the resemblance is certainly there.
Leon: You! We still don't even know who you are!
Yasuhiro: Oh yeah... wait, we don't!? Isn't she Junko?
Kiyotaka: She is definitely not Junko Enoshima, nor is she someone who is particularly considerate of her classmates.
Mondo: Yeah. When we were interrogating her, she said nothing.
Celestia: I find that hard to believe.
Sakura: Aye, it's true. She said nary a thing.
Kyoko: While that alone does make her a prime suspect, we must explore every possibility.
I look at the black-haired girl. She looks down at the podium in front of her, her hands clenched, yet she shows no emotion on her face. Her eyebrows are crooked, though she doesn't appear angry, nor even upset.
And yet, I don't think she could have killed him.
Hifumi: So, back to what Miss Kirigiri was saying before, we just need to confirm our whereabouts for last night, yes?
Mondo: The only problem is that most of us were in our own rooms. Alone.
Aoi: Not necessarily.
Mondo: You sayin' you killed him?
Aoi: No! Of course not! Do I look like someone who could--!
Sakura: Allow me to explain: me and Aoi were in the cafeteria until the nighttime announcement played, drinking tea.
Leon: So basically, you two are the only ones who can confirm each other's alibis.
Kyoko: If we hear everyone's alibis, we may be able to connect some together, assuming they were outside of their rooms at the time. Not only that, but Aoi and Sakura may have seen other enter the kitchen at some point.
Sayaka: Ah, I get it. The knife that was sticking into... his... body must have come from the kitchen. Someone needed to retrieve it from the kitchen, and they would have seen them!
Byakuya: If that's the case - did anyone enter the kitchen while you two were in the dining hall?
Aoi: Umm... there were three people, right Sakura?
Sakura: Aye: Celestia, Chihiro, and... Sayaka.
Right, I did enter the kitchen right before nighttime.
Leon: Sayaka, huh? If she entered the kitchen, she could have killed Makoto.
Hifumi: It certainly is suspicious, especially since Miss Maizono was also the one to find the body.
Byakuya: Before we go pointing fingers - Celestia and Chihiro, what were the two of you doing in the kitchen?
Celestia: Oh my, now I am a suspect? Alright, let me indulge you in what I was doing in the kitchen: I was making a pot of tea. Or at least I had planned to, except they didn't have the royal milk tea that I fancy.
Sakura: I had gone in after Celestia left to get some fruit for us to indulge on, and all of the knives were on the wall at the time.
Celestia: That should prove my innocence.
Byakuya: Before we can determine your innocence, let me ask the bear one question: if two people work together, are they both considered the "blackened?"
Monokuma: No, only the one who actually committed the crime is the "blackened." Two people can work together, but the mastermind behind the plan won't get to graduate unless they killed their accomplice and got away with it.
Byakuya: But since we didn't know that, we can't rule out the possibility that Sakura is-
Kyoko: No, I believe Sakura is telling the truth here.
Byakuya: Your belief alone isn't enough to verify that...
Kyoko: There was no need for two people to work together to commit this crime. Makoto was heavily injured and bedridden; after nighttime began, anyone could have gone in there and killed him with little issue
Toko: Can I...
Leon: Well that may be all well and good, but what about Chihiro?
Chihiro: Y-you think... I-I... I k-killed him?
Mondo: Chihiro couldn't have committed any crime. She and I were checking the school for exits again last night. We were in the school area until way past the nighttime announcement, right?
Chihiro: Y-yeah, that's right.
Kiyotaka: You two still went exploring even though I told you not to? How infuriating! Do you two seriously not care to rest for a full 8 hours?
Mondo: Hey man, you may have the rule book memorized, but if you haven't figured it out by now, we're not exactly the most normal 'class'.
Kiyotaka: I... ehh....
Leon: So, Sakura can vouch that Celestia didn't take a knife, and Chihiro and Mondo were together until after the nighttime announcement, so they have alibis for the time we believe the murder took place. That doesn't mean Chihiro couldn't have taken the knife and then killed him after she and Mondo parted ways, yeah?
Mondo: I can't see Chihiro harming a fly, let alone a living person.
Byakuya: So that just leaves...
Toko: ...Can... Can I just say something?
Byakuya: You? What could you possibly add to this conversation?
Toko: ...Well, you see M-M-Master Byakuya... I wanted to bring this up when we were accusing... h-her... But she did tell us something.
Byakuya: Her? You mean our Junko impersonator?
Sakura: But, we were all together and heard her say nothing.
Toko: T-that's because she didn't say anything.
Kyoko: She used some sort of sign language to communicate with you?
Toko: I-I... I've studied up on a number of different ways the navy communicates: M-M-Morse Code, for instance...
All thirteen pairs of eyes darted to the black-haired girl, who muttered her first words since she was escorted out of the gym after her disguise was ruined.
???: I shouldn't be surprised that you, of all people, would know how to read Morse Code.
Mondo: Finally, she speaks.
Byakuya: While we have you in the land of the living, would you finally introduce yourself?
???: Fine. My name is Mukuro Ikusaba.
Kyoko: Hold on one moment. What did you mean by 'you of all people?'
Monokuma: That's not the pressing issue here, what's important is that you all-
Mukuro: If it's true and... Junko really is dead, then I have no need to keep secrets from you any more.
Monokuma: Hey! You can't just cut me off-
Byakuya: I'd also like to know what it was you were tapping in Morse Code.
I turn my gaze away from these three, and glance over at some of the others. Though our lives are supposedly on the line, most of the others seem fairly bored.
Leon: Do you really think we need to be here?
Aoi: It's not like we're of any help anyway.
Hifumi: Truly, it seems the only ones who need to debate over this matter are Mr. Byakuya Togami and Miss Kyoko Kirigiri.
Kiyotaka: You three! It is impolite to ignore a conversation that pertains to you!
Kiyotaka's yell silences everyone, including Kyoko, Mukuro, and Byakuya. We all glance at him.
Kiyotaka: Ahem. Alright, please, continue.
Byakuya: As I was saying, why don't we start with what this girl was tapping in Morse Code.
Toko: I-it's been a while since I studied it, but I'm certain she said "I know."
Mukuro: Yes, that's right, though I didn't expect anyone to pick up on it.
Toko: I'll have you know that I'm very perceptive!
Kyoko: Moving on...
Sayaka: Wait, just one moment? Mukuro, yes? You know who... who killed Makoto?
Mukuro: While I didn't...
Sakura: Hold on. You are forgetting that this Mukuro Ikusaba has been lying to us for the past few days. She has yet to clear her name on this matter.
Hifumi: Miss Ogami makes an excellent point. Why should we believe anything that Miss Ikusaba is saying?
Mondo: Fess up, girl. I'll beat the answer out of you if I have to.
I see Mukuro glance around at all of us in fear. She's different than she was a moment ago.
Tears begin welling in her eyes.
Perhaps the stress of this situation has finally gotten to her? Though, if she was working with this 'Junko Enoshima', the supposed mastermind behind this game, then why did something seem wrong?
Kyoko: If she wanted to kill someone, she wouldn't have killed Makoto Naegi. At least, that is what I believe.
Byakuya: How could you be so sure about that?
Kyoko: It's simple. Do you recall what she said when the A/V Room door was broken in?
What she said back then?
I try and think back.....
In less than a second, Makoto, who had been pushing up against the door to the A/V Room, now lays down across the room. I see blood begin to fall from his forehead, though in my vision - blurred by tears - I can't fully understand the situation. "What the hell?" Mondo Owada yells out from behind me, seeing the video playing out in front of us all. By his side stands Sakura Ogami, and the rest huddle behind the two. He notices Makoto on the ground, and mutters "shit" under his breath, just loud enough so I can hear it, and runs to his side.
"Shit. Shit!" he says first, then yells. "This isn't good." He turns back to the others. He picks Makoto up gently, and throws a glance my way. "You! Sayaka, find us some bandages!" he orders, but I don't move. I feel everything fall away from me.
In that video, people I know were shown being killed by Monokuma. Two of my best friends stood side-by-side as Monokuma backed them into the corner and began to rip at their bodies with his claws. The video had no sound, but I can still hear them scream as his claws rip through their flesh. That scene, I can't take it.
"I... I'll go..!" I hear Aoi say from somewhere off in the distance.
"I'll help look for some bandages, too." someone else says, the voice both familiar yet not at the same time. "Why did it have to be him?"
Sayaka: If I remember right, she said "why did it have to be him?"
Celestia: Such a simple reaction means so much to you?
Kyoko: I thought it a bit weird back then that our 'Junko' never actually reacted to the video being played out in the A/V Room...
Monokuma: It's still playing in there, by the way!
Yasuhiro: I don't think anyone's going to want to watch it anymore.
Kyoko: ...Instead, she just lamented how it was Makoto who was hurt. Additionally, the fact that she wanted to look for bandages to aid a bleeding stranger, despite never really wanting to assist with anything before. Moreover, unless she had seen the video footage before we had, she would have at least hesitated before saying that she'd like to help. After all, a famous fashion model would probably be more shocked at the video playing out; even Aoi and Mondo hesitated before they acted in Makoto's favour.
Leon: You got all that from just her wanting to help Makoto? What are you?
Sayaka: So basically, because she cared to help Makoto, she couldn't have killed him?
Kyoko: Do you remember how eager she was to find supplies for Makoto after he was bandaged up? She took more of an initiative than anyone here.
That is true. Now that I think about it, it was Ju--Mukuro who had been the one to gather most of the materials. I was still in a daze while I looked for ways to help him, but she seemed to know what to get and where to get it.
Byakuya: So by that logic, we can also rule out anyone who helped Makoto while he was bedridden?
Kyoko: Not necessarily. Sakura and Mondo were the ones to kick the door down, if Makoto had died right then and there, one, or both, of them would have been found as the 'blackened' and Monokuma would have executed at least one of them.
Mondo: Hold on. You make it sound like I helped him purely for selfish reasons.
Sakura: Aye. While the thought did cross my mind, I felt like I needed to aid Makoto since I was partly to blame for his injury.
Mukuro: She would have the right to be suspicious of at least one of them.
Hifumi: For a trial to determine the killer of Mr. Makoto Naegi, we haven't really debated much on that subject, have we?
Toko: Y-you said you knew who killed him? S-s-so? Who did it?
Celestia: If what you said is correct, we simply just need to vote for both of them.
Mukuro: I can be even more specific as to who killed him. After all, I want his killer to face justice just as much as the rest of you.
Byakuya: Yeah, and why is that?
Sayaka: She wants to find out because it's the right thing to do. We don't know who killed one of our friends in cold blood!
Byakuya: Friends? Since when are we friends?
Celestia: We're all just players in this game, yes?
Mondo: You two are some crazy sons of bitches, you know that?
Chihiro: ...C-can you just tell us who killed Makoto, already!!?
Chihiro: I-I'm so tired of this. Why do we have to keep debating about who killed Makoto? Why did he have to die in the first place? Why...
Mukuro: Sakura Ogami. You killed Makoto.
Aoi: Sakura? Y-you're kidding right? Sakura would never...
Mukuro: Every night I would report to Junko - to Monokuma - about the events of the day. She.. he(?) knew what went on, but it was challenging to keep track of every camera all the time, so it'd be up to me to report what I saw in person to him. Last night, after I went to do this, I went to see Makoto.
Sayaka: Oh! The bandages!
The supplies had been moved from where I put them last.
Mukuro: The bandages on his head had soaked right through, he was losing a lot of blood. I changed his bandages and tried to do what I could, but I don't think he was going to make it.
Aoi: Even so... how could you accuse Sakura!? If he died because of blood loss, then Mondo could be the blackened too!
Kyoko and Mukuro: Impossible.
Kyoko: You may not have noticed it, but the way Mondo kicked the door wouldn't have caused it to fly open as violently as it did. He was specifically aiming for the doorknob, correct?
Mondo: Yeah, that's right. I thought the bear had probably messed with the door somehow, so I thought breaking the lock while Sakura kicked it in would open it for sure.
Aoi: ...You mean...?
Mukuro: Sakura was the one who sent Makoto flying, and the one who injured him.
Hifumi: That may settle that matter, but how does that explain the knife that had been used to kill Mr. Naegi?
Mukuro: Makoto.... he woke up for a brief moment while I was in the room, and he stumbled to the ground. I lifted him back into bed, but just him standing up caused him to begin bleeding again.
Byakuya: Do you mean to tell us that... Makoto died of blood loss and you tampered with the crime scene to make it appear as if a murder had occurred?
Mukuro: It... It wasn't me! Makoto died while I was in the room, and Monokuma told me to make it appear like a murder had happened. He gave me the knife.... and...
Kyoko: Well that answers all of my questions.
Celestia: Likewise. It seems the culprit of this case is Sakura Ogami.
Sakura: I had considered this outcome, though I had hoped it wouldn't be what truly happened.
Aoi: Wait! But.. the Monokuma File! Didn't it say...
I recalled what the Monokuma File had said instantly.
Sayaka: "The body was found splayed out on his bed; his assailant had attacked him with a sharp object that remains in his stomach. Prior to his death, Makoto had suffered a head injury that left him with a concussion and a deep wound to his forehead."
Leon: Yeah, it didn't say the knife itself killed him.
Yasuhiro: Didn't she just say "his assailant?" Doesn't that mean he was attacked?
Kyoko: It wouldn't surprise me if Monokuma had given some flair to the Monokuma File to hide the fact that he had planned to fake a murder scene.
Celestia: AHe may have been attacked... but that doesn't mean he was alive when he was.
Aoi: But Sakura...!
Sakura: Aoi Asahina. For this short time we have known each other, you and I have become great friends. Even if I...
Monokuma: Yadda yadda yadda. Okay everyone! Let's move along to the nerve-wracking voting time! Who will be chosen as the blackened? Will you make the right choice or the dreadfully wrong one!? Puhuhu!
Hifumi: Doesn't it seem like that was over a little too quickly?
Monokuma: I got bored, hearing you talk about a bunch of random stuff. This wasn't much of a trial, y'know? Not a lot of debating.
Monokuma: Let's begin voting time! Click the image of the person you believe to be the blackened on the small screen in front of you. And make sure you vote! If you don't, we'll get to watch a double feature!
I hesitate for a moment after the small screen flickers on. Mugshots of all of us sit in organized lines, and I regretfully tap the one of Sakura Ogami. The screen goes black for a moment, before "Tallying votes!" curls up onto the screen.
Monokuma: An almost-unanimous vote for Sakura Ogami! And guess what? You're absolutely correct. Makoto Naegi's killer was the one and only ogre of Hope's Peak Academy, Sakura Ogami!
Monokuma pulls out a small gavel, and uses it to crush down a large red button protruding from the small step in front of his throne. After he does, the walls around us begin to flatten into the ground; the classy red and blue interior being replaced by a stone cold one barred with a chainlink fence. A large television screen rolls down from the ceiling, reading: Ultimate Execution for Sakura Ogami.
The air is heavy as Sakura's podium falls away and she walks into the centre of the circle. Five chain cuffs quickly snaps from the ceiling once she reaches the centre, and snap themselves around her legs, arms, and neck, before brutally pulling her up to into the ceiling; only Aoi tries to pull her back down, but she only manages to tear a small fragment of her skirt off as she rises away.
Sakura disappears from our view, only to reappear on the television screen. She stands in what appears to be a traditional Japanese dojo, tatami mats lining the floor. The words "Summer Seige of Osakura Castle" subtitle her as she stands still, eyes closed. The camera moves around to her back, showing that one wall is missing and that an army of Monokuma dressed in feudal samurai helmets marching towards her. She tries to move one of her arms, though the chains keep her from doing so successfully.
She opens her eyes, and the army of Monokuma freeze in their tracks. Sakura yells, a beastly roar, but the Monokumas don't appear fazed. Instead, one just marches closer towards her, stopping only a few steps from the blackened, before bowing. He then raises one arm, and behind that Monokuma, the others all draw bows. He lowers it, and quickly a barrage of flaming arrows fly both around and through him, though none manage to pierce Sakura.
After a moment, the crowd steps aside, and a lone Monokuma, this one taller than the rest and clad in full samurai armour, rushes forwards atop a horse, a large spear in his grasp. As he nears Sakura, he starts to lose the ability to hold the spear straight, and he accidentally pieces the ground with it. The horse and the Monokuma are launched vertically as if they had just pole vaulted, and they collide head-on with Sakura Ogami. Though that alone may not have been able to kill her, the force of their collision cause Sakura to slam to the ground, the one chain holding her neck snapping and causing the dojo to fall apart, burying the horse, the Monokuma, and the large Sakura Ogami from sight.
We could only watch in horror as this scene played out, and as one of our friends was killed by Monokuma. We stood there for what seemed like an eternity, and it was only when hunger gnarled our stomachs that we solemnly turned to leave. All of us, except Kyoko Kirigiri and Aoi Asahina, the latter of whom had her eyes glued to the screen, hoping that Sakura had somehow been able to survive that ordeal.
I wouldn't see either of them again until the next day.
[ CHAPTER 1 : END] || STUDENTS REMAINING: 13
Chapter 2: What We Want
After the trial - if what we went through could be described as a "trial" - we weren't in the mood to continue our discussions. It was 7:00pm by the time we made our way back to the school, but I went to my dorm room immediately.
"Good morning, everyone! It is now 7:00am and nighttime is now officially over! Time to rise and shine!"
I crack my eyes open, finding myself laying horizontally across my bed, still dressed in my usual clothes. I look up at the ceiling of my room. Despite everything that happened yesterday - the death of Makoto and the execution of Sakura - my ceiling still looks the same; if I were to focus on a single point, it would be easy to forget our situation.
For a single moment, I picture Makoto Naegi's face in my mind, and a shock flies through my body. Then another thought crosses my mind: He's dead. The young Makoto who went to the same school as I, the one I always wanted to speak to, yet never did, would never again breathe another word. And all because of a mistake.
I close my eyes again and begin to remember Makoto, and the kindness he showed that cemented him within his mind...
Black Root High School - a normal high school for normal teenage students. I was the exception, for the most part. Even back then I was working towards my dream, and a lot of students were just naturally attracted to me. I was always surrounded by flocks of people who wanted to be my friend, but very few of them actually saw me as a person. Still, I put on my mask and pretended to be invested in each and every one of them. It was only when I was alone at my house that I could finally drop my facade.
At home, my parents were never around. My father was always out at work, and my mother had divorced him and moved across the country, taking my younger sister with her. I've been alone at home ever since, and the distance I feel around those who surround me is just as despairing. At times I wish I could speak with my sister Aika, but I had only known her for only a few months before my mother took off; she likely wouldn't even know she had a sister.
Sometimes I tried to find reasons to stay back at school, so I wouldn't have to stay at home, all alone. Often times I would help teachers with various tasks, staying long after the school day had ended before leaving. One day, while I was assisting a teacher of mine, I came across Makoto Naegi.
I don't know, and will never know, why he was there after school, and I never spoke to him about it. What he was doing was taking care of an injured crane in the schoolyard. The crane's leg was bent at an odd angle, but Makoto was wrapping it in bandages, as if an expert doctor. The crane had been yelling, which is why I came across him, but as I drew nearer I heard Makoto trying to soothe him, whispering inaudible nothings that seemed to calm the bird down.
That small act of kindness resonated with me to an extent I'd be forever unable to forget. It was a small act of kindness, one so selfless, yet it carried more weight than any act I had ever seen before. Everyone around me - my parents, my "friends" - just put on fake faces when they were around me. They didn't care about anything but themselves. For my classmates, they were just trying to become popular by hanging around me - even if I don't want them around; for my father, I was just a reminder of my mother, but it's not like he was ever around to look at me with distance eyes.
BING BONG! DING DONG!
My eyes shoot open; Monokuma's voice is what wakes me from my slumber. "Ahem, this is a school announcement. It is now 10:00pm! As such, it is officially nighttime. Soon the doors to the dining hall will be locked, and entry at that point is strictly prohibited. Okay then... sweet dreams everyone! Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite."
I stand up, flopping off the bed like a fish out of water. My limbs are heavy, and I place my hands on my knees. After a moment I stagger towards my door, and place my hand on the doorknob. I turn it slowly and open it to a dark, empty hallway. Looking both ways, I see no one around. I want to head towards the dining hall, but I know full well it will be locked down by now; after doing nothing all day, I'm still not hungry, so it doesn't really matter. Still, with no idea what to do, I head towards it. Then into the school area.
I don't pay attention to where I wandered, but I eventually found myself in an unfamiliar area. A staircase that was once gated off had now opened, and while in a daze I just wandered up it. Now I stand in front of a tall wooden door, with no idea how I got there.
I push it open slowly.
"Hm?" A darker room illuminated by dim lights overhead. It is a very musty, yet sophisticated, room - a library of sorts. In its centre, Byakuya Togami sits, his legs crossed and a book in his hand lit above by a small white desk light. He glances up at me as I enter. "My my, the ghost appears." A simple phrase, and he's back to his book.
"Byakuya?" I ask, focusing on him. "What are you doing here?"
"Cooking a roast." he days completely deadpan, his eyes locked on his book.
"Did you... learn anything today?" I ask him another question. Yesterday we had agreed to talk to the Junko Enoshima imposter - Mukuro Ikusaba - and learn what she knows.
"Well it'd make sense you wouldn't know."
"Go down to the gym and see for yourself."
Ever since we've been locked up in here, the gym has been one of the areas "off-limits" once Monokuma declares it nighttime. Each day, the door would be locked, which annoyed us as we were unable to see what Monokuma was up to in there at night. Today, I place my hand on the door, and open it with ease.
"I was expecting you to show up."
Before the door opens all the way, I am greeted by a chilling voice. "I understand that everyone needs their beauty sleep, but come on. You slept the entire day away!" Monokuma bounces around the otherwise empty gymnasium. Most of the lights are off, with those that aren't leaving the room in a sinister glow. "Come on in, come on in. Don't worry, you won't be punished if you do... this time."
"What's going on here?" I ask, slowly creeping into the room that glows somber. I look left and right, but nothing seems particularly out of the ordinary. "Why was I told to come here?"
"Why?" Monokuma presses his paw up to his chin, tilting his head in curiosity. "Shouldn't that be obvious? I'm going to let you in on the next motive."
"Well, I say 'next' motive, but really the last one had little bearing on the... 'murder'." Monokuma kicks the ground. "What a foul trial that was. Nobody even argued! What was the point of it! There wasn't even an attempt to murder someone; it just happened. What good is a killing game if no one kills!?"
I've come to find that I've grown increasingly compliant as I remain trapped in this school. If this scene had played out back at Black Root, chances are I would have left already. Granted, a talking bear isn't something "normal", by any sense, and seeing Monokuma there would have been a shock at all.
"Hey!" Monokuma snaps his... paws(?) as he calls out to me. "D'you want the motive? Or what?"
"Well whatever. I'm giving it to you anyway."
Monokuma disappears behind the large red curtain that cuts off the stage, and it slowly moves out of the way, revealing...
"Tadaaa!" he calls out. The large red curtain hid a large glass box, where Mukuro Ikusaba was trapped with her hands and legs bound. "You see, since Mukuro here would ruin this whole killing game if she told you guys what's what, I decided to lock her up." Mukuro glares at Monokuma and yells something, but no sound makes it to my ears. "Basically, here's the deal: if you want her information, you've got to all decide - unanimously - who to put in this cage instead."
I'm confused. "Isn't your goal to make us kill each other? How would this...?"
"You know, this cell's got no air holes. She'd be able to survive for... well, quite a while, if it weren't for the fact that I'm not giving her any food or water. That gives you a good... three, maybe four, days to decide who'll kick the bucket in her stead. Assuming, of course, that they're willing to sacrifice themselves at all."
Though I am terrified of Monokuma, I'm so tired I can't bring myself to shout back at him. After finding out that Makoto died, I found myself falling deeper into a dark hole of despair, and this negativity has sapped all of my energy. I look down at Monokuma, and he chuckles, clearly sensing the despair I feel.
"I suppose there are no rules against you directly interfering with this 'game', but something about this is definitely odd."
Another voice echoes through my mind, and I turn around. Standing, leaning against the doorframe with her arms crossed and a glare that could pierce through steel, stands Kyoko.
"Puhuhuhu, Kyoko Kirigiri you are breaking the first rule of this academy!" Monokuma laughs deeply as he retorts heartily. 'Some areas are off-limits at night, so please exercise caution', the first rule listed in the e-Handbook.
She sighs, and turns her back. "I do not believe that you'd 'punish' me here, especially with only two onlookers. More so," she pauses and taps her heel on the ground. "I've yet to actually enter the gymnasium."
Monokuma jumps back in shock. "You're quite an intelligent one, aren't you. Always seeing through me and my ploys." Monokuma jumps up and down in front of me as he flails his arms. "Now then, I should probably be closing up the gym now. It's almost morning, so if you really wish to speak here, you both can wait a little longer."
I turn back to the door and see Kyoko stride away elegantly. "Oh yes, one more thing." Monokuma slyly adds as he shuffles towards me. "You must all agree as a group who will replace Mukuro in this cage... but, I will also release her if someone dies before she does. Keep that in mind."
The next morning, a large majority of us have gathered around a table in the dining hall. There are a few absences - Aoi, who apparently has not left her room since the trial, Byakuya, Leon, and obvious Mukuro - but otherwise everyone now sits in small grey plastic chairs around an equally as drab table. Even Kyoko, to the surprise of everyone. In fact, she now stands at the head of the table, her hands spread across the table as she leans over it. "We need to discuss what we are going to do next."
"Well, this is certainly a surprise!" Celestia feigns shock, in a slightly exaggerated fashion, in quick response to Kyoko. "Considering you've said about as many words as there are people here, it is interesting that now you wish to converse."
Kyoko shoots her a glare. "Mukuro Ikusaba seems to have some answers about our current situation. Monokuma made it very clear yesterday that she will only be freed should we all unanimously agree to... 'sacrifice' someone else."
"You can not be possibly suggesting..." Kiyotaka shouts, but is interrupted by Mondo, who sticks his arm out in front of him. While the man with the pompadoured hair leans back in his chair with his eyes closed and an appearance that shouts 'ruffian', the way he seems to compose himself suggests otherwise. In response to being interrupted, Kiyotaka turns to Mondo, and is about to complain when-
"I'll do it." Mondo says. "'If given a choice between my life and the lives of our family, only a fool could convince me to be selfish.' That's somethin' my bro told me once. We have no clue what's going on and, frankly, that pisses me off."
"No! I will not allow that!" Kiyotaka shouts... again. Getting up in Mondo's face, Kiyotaka narrows his eyes. "No one should have to sacrifice! There must be another way for us to overcome this!"
"You sound like the first person to die in a horror game." Hifuumi points out.
"Well good on him for getting past the first hurdle." I hear Toko mutter, unintelligible to anyone who wouldn't be sitting right beside her.
"So then, what. Have you got any better ideas?" Mondo slams his hand against the table, turning to Kiyotaka. "How the fuck are we supposed to get out of here!? We've checked everywhere!"
"That's enough." The calm and collected Kyoko silences everyone with a hiss. She glances around the table, eyeing everyone with a glare that could freeze water. "If we are to learn about why we've been trapped in here and how we could escape, we're going to need Mukuro's knowledge. If I were to suggest that we go along with Monokuma and we trap someone in there, I'd volunteer myself."
"So then, why..." Kiyotaka tries shouting again, only to be interrupted.
"Rather, I'd like to ask a question to everyone: does Mukuro actually have the information we are looking for?"
"Oh! I get it." Chihiro, who had been silent ever since she walked in to the cafeteria, now squeaks. "You think this is part of Monokuma's plan, right?"
"I dunno." Yasuhiro Hagakure sighs as he scratches at the bush that splays off the top of his head. "Something about that girl's been bugging me. It's like... she was way too eager to help us during the Trial."
"I-I-I think being almost killed by your 'partner' would make anyone want to switch sides pretty quickly." Toko mutters, louder than before so that everyone could, to some extent, hear her words. "Sp-peaking of which... I think we should keep an eye on Boob Girl." Though her tone has changed, she was muttering as if shy before, but now has a dark undertone.
"Boob Girl? ...Ah, you mean Miss Asahina." Hifumi replies. Toko just nods in response.
"Actually, I think we should be watching everyone who's not here." Mondo says curtly. "Who knows what they could be doing right this instant."
"You mustn't forget that, considering our situation, anyone at this table may also be planning their own escape, as well." Celestia, says.
The table goes silent for a moment. We're all thinking the same thing: she's right. Makoto. He died because of an accident, but...
No. I think suddenly.
"There's a killer among us already." I whisper, quietly. My body shakes involuntarily as I think back to when we found him in the bed. My eyes meet Kyoko's for a moments, and she only gives me a slight nod. "That girl, Mukuro, said that the knife..." I shutter, the image of Makoto's stone-cold corpse laying face-up and covered in blood coming into my mind. Kyoko seems to notice this and continues from me.
"Mukuro claimed that the knife that had been impaled in his body was put there in order to make it look like an intentional murder." the purple-haired girl says sternly. "And considering our attention was placed more towards Mukuro's identity and who initially knocked Makoto over with the door, we overlooked this fact."
"Yes, but considering what Monokuma said before," Hifumi taps the bridge of his glasses. "Wouldn't we all be dead if Miss Ogami wasn't the killer?"
"Not necessarily." Kyoko stands up. "If Mukuro had been the one to kill her, Monokuma wouldn't have been able to use her knowledge against us."
"But," I say, not realizing I am doing so. "What if she also didn't?"
"Okay!" Yasuhiro says, propping himself up with his arm on the table. "This conversation is really depressing me. I'm gonna go for a walk." He stands up and kicks his chair back under the table. "Anyone want to come with?"
Chihiro wordlessly nods and stands up, and the two make their way towards the door. Celestia calls out to them as they make their exit. "Those that wish to avoid their circumstances are usually the ones that suffer from them most." Glancing over his shoulder at her, Yasuhiro just gives a rather simple answer: "I don't even know what that means."
Once the door closes behind them, Kyoko sighs and steps away from the table. "Meeting adjourned?" Hifumi asks her, but she just ignores him. She makes her way to the exit of the cafeteria, but a sound rings out around us that makes her stop. A ringing of bells. The ones that play whenever Monokuma plans to make an announcement.
But it's not 10pm yet.
The hair on all of our bodies stand on end as Monokuma's frighteningly-cheerful voice rings out around us.
"A body has been discovered!"
Before the words are even out of the bear's mouth, Kyoko is out of the cafeteria, and chairs are knocked over as the rest of us jump up in shock. I feel the same way as I did before, when I learned of Makoto's death.
I feel the world drain of its colour and begin to fall out from around me. I stood up from shock, but now I'm leaning against the table, ready to throw up. I picture the faces of everyone who isn't in the cafeteria with us.
Leon Kuwata, with that smug look on his face and clearly-dyed red hair and goatee.
Byakuya Togami, his pompous aura emanating not just from him, but even the objects he touches.
Aoi Asahina, the girl who at first appeared fairly bubbly with that whipped cream-like hair that curls around itself.
Yasuhiro Hagakure, the guy who takes select things seriously.
Chihiro Fujisaki, the only one of us willing to show just how scared we all are on the inside.
And Mukuro Ikusaba, the girl we know nothing about.
One of them has joined Makoto Naegi and Sakura Ogami, as the victims of Monokuma's cruel "game" that we've been forced to play. I barely know any of these people, yet it feels as though a part of myself has been eaten away just knowing harm has come to another one of them.
I don't know how much more death I'd be able to take.
"W-What is this?" my voice squeaks out of my throat. My stomach rumbles in an unpleasant way - I want to throw up but nothing comes. My throat is dry, and I can barely speak.
Most of us are gathered in the gymnasium once again, but the scene is nothing familiar. The transparent wall that held the mysterious Mukuro Ikusaba captive has been shattered, but that is not what everyone is shocked at. The large hole in the transparent wall is bordered with blood, and there are two bodies laying on either side, half of their bodies obscured by the blood-covered wall. It doesn't take a detective to see that they have left the land of the living, as one of them has lost one of their hands and neither are moving.
In our shock, we don't notice Monokuma's sudden appearance. With a chuckle he waddles up next to me. "Well, this is certainly a mess." he says happily, but my eyes don't stray from the sight in front of us. "Of course I know who made this mess, but you guys are going to have to clean it up!" He touches my hand and slides something into my palm, and I slowly move my hand up into my field of view: another Monokuma File.
Kyoko Kirigiri strolls past me and into the bloody scene, her chilling composure causing me to shiver as she passes by. My beating heartbeat rumbles in my ears, but slowly I follow her, turning on the small Monokuma File tablet as I do.
I step over the shards of glass, and the scent of death hits me harder than it did before. I watch Kyoko bend over and examine one of the bodies, and its identity shocks me.
"The victims are Byakuya Togami and Mukuro Ikusaba. The two were not killed simultaneously: Byakuya Togami perished first in an explosion that destroyed part of a wall, and three minutes later Mukuro was killed when her throat was slit with a pocketknife." Kyoko reads the Monokuma File aloud, her stern voice echoing in the chamber of death. She tilts the head of Byakuya's corpse, staring into his forever-closed eyes, before her head darts towards the stump where his left hand once was. "Byakuya's left hand had been cut off postmortem."
"Oh my, this is certainly a shock." Celestia Ludenberg says from behind me. Her voice changes direction, and from her words I assume she is speaking to Monokuma: "If the one who planted the bomb and the one who killed Mukuro are two different people, who would be classified as the 'Blackened?'"
My intuition is correct, as Monokuma answers a split-second later: "If that is the case, the first person to commit murder would be the Blackened."
Celestia questions him once more: "What if Byakuya had been the first to commit murder?"
"Well you can't Punish someone who is already dead. What would be the fun in that?"
"Thank you for that incite." Kyoko says in response.
I try and compose myself as I look at Mukuro Ikusaba's corpse. Her hand is draped across her body, her hand resting against her left thigh. I move her hand and see a large bloodstain through her clothing, still wet and sticking to the cloth. Something about the stain looks off to me - my first thought is that this wound was caused by the explosion, but as I lift up her skirt I see multiple stab wounds in the same area.
"I think a single person did this." Kyoko mutters from behind me. I look up to her her, but her eyes are on the stab wound. "Interesting that the Monokuma File neglected to mention this wound."
"If Monokuma included every wound, the glass shrapnel would have also been detailed." Celestia points out, leaning over me as well.
"Not necessarily." I say, thinking aloud. "It mentioned that Byakuya's hand had been cut off after his death, which has nothing to do with the murder itself."
Kyoko wanders back into the opening of the wall's hole and addresses the crowd outside. Besides everyone who had been in the cafeteria as the announcement played, Yasuhiro and Chihiro have been the only ones to reappear since. "Our lives are on the line. We need to work together to discern who killed these two." she speaks loudly and sternly, her hands on her hips. "If you are not planning on helping us here, spread out and begin looking for Leon and Aoi."
I hear no footsteps, so I assume they dismiss her for a moment. Then, after a moment, I hear Yasuhiro say something in response, though what I am not sure, and two sets of footsteps echo as they leave the gym. It isn't long until I hear more tap-tapping of feet against the cold floor a the others clear out.
All but one of my so-called classmates remain when I peer around the large splattering of blood. Toko Fukawa stands alone, sucking on her thumb as she looks off into the distance absently. Slowly, I see her feet slide towards the wall, before she collapses to her knees and begins sobbing. I understand how she feels, but considering our lives will once again be on the line once Monokuma forces us into a Class Trial, now's not the time to let our emotions get the better of us. Instead of breaking down, like I very much want to, I push aside my worries and focus on the task at hand.
I look back towards the multiple stab wounds in Mukuro's side. The blood looks as fresh as that which covers the glass wall separating us from Toko. "I wonder who managed to attack Mukuro like this."
Celeste casually knocks on the glass wall, and it reverberates and sounds like she's knocking on a concrete wall. "This wall is quite thick. It would have been difficult to cut through it with a knife."
"So, it would seem that the only way through the wall would be," Kyoko begins, her chin motioning towards the large gap in the otherwise-flat window, "via explosion."
Something clicks in my brain at that. "What if..." I mumble, mostly just thinking aloud once more, "there was another way around it?" I look up at the towering glass structure that looms over us. It reaches all the way to the ceiling and back towards the wall behind us; it would have been impossible to climb around it, if you were even able to scale it. I sigh at that, turning my gaze back towards the ground.
Then I realize: "We're on a stage!"
"How insightful" is the immediate response I get from Celestia, whose glare bores into me.
I hold up my hands in defence, but I need not explain myself. Kyoko does for me: "professional performance arenas often have trapdoors on the stages." She immediately gets down on all-fours, and begins combing the ground for a panel. I join her in the search (while Celeste just watches us), and it only takes us a couple of minutes before I see an indent in a pool of blood; not just a single line, but four, in the shape of a small square.
"Oh? So you found one, did you?" Celeste comments, striding towards us.
I dig my nails into the indent and try pulling it up, and it very easily opens up. "Bingo!" I whisper, pulling the trapdoor open all the way. I peer down into the hole, which is far deeper than I expected it to be. "This looks more like a sewer drain than a tunnel you'd find on a stage." I say. The tunnel leads deep down into the ground, and rings that make up a ladder are attached to the concrete wall on one side of the spherical tube. The tunnel goes down a great distance though it being pitch-black makes it difficult to discern how deep it truly is.
"Does anyone have a flashlight?" I ask. Kyoko silently shakes her head, and Celeste completely ignores me. Knowing full well I will have to do this on my own, I stand up and dust off my skirt - though it's covered in blood so the act does very little. As I spin around towards the gap, knowing that there was a flashlight, at least at one point, in the shop near the school's lobby, I target that as my destination... or was going to.
Instead, I find Toko Fukawa standing in the hole in the glass wall. Her eyes red and puffy from crying, and a flashlight in her grasp. "I want to go." she mutters. I'm not entirely sure what to say, so instead of a verbal reply I just nod, a sad smile crossing my face on instinct.
Kyoko watches us. "Good. You two can go and see where this tunnel leads. I don't think we'll be able to find out any more here, though I would like to try and locate the knife used to stab Mukuro. I suspect it may be the same one used to saw off Byakuya's hand." She then turns to Celeste. "I don't really think it matters what exactly you plan to do."
I turn to Toko. "Shall we go, then?" I reach my hand out to her, and, after a pregnant pause, her shaky palm enters mine. She'd closed herself off ever since we were trapped in here - this is the first time she actually seems... human. I smile to her. "We can do it."
After what seems like an eternity of climbing down freezing-cold rings, my foot touches solid ground. Before I jump down I tap my foot around the area, just to be safe - after a second, my intuition tells me that, wherever we are, we are safe. I spit out the flashlight that I held clenched between my teeth, but the bitter taste of metal still remains on my tongue.
I look over at Toko, who had gotten off the ladder before me. "W-w-what now?" she stutters, looking around nervously. I don't blame her for being scared - just by shining the flashlight around the room, anyone could sense the spine-tingling aura that floods the stony room. We stand in a circular area, cobwebs stretched across the ceiling, and cracks making their way through the walls. As I shine the flashlight across the ground around us, Toko stops me: "Hold on."
She slowly takes the flashlight from my hand and I follow her as she scans the ground with the thin stream of artificial sunlight. Toko then stops, and focuses on one area, and I see what she wanted to investigate. "Footprints?" I ask myself. Yes, though faint, there are definitely some footprints in the otherwise-dusty floor. "But what made them?"
The footprints appear to be made from a sticky substance. Toko hands me the flashlight and bends down. She pokes the footprint with her finger, but the footprint remains undisturbed. "I guess they're... old." she mutters. Toko looks around the lit area, before starting again. "Odd that there are only one set."
That's true. There are only one set of footprints, meaning whoever made these didn't come back this way. I flash the light up from the direction they came from, but there's only a wall in that direction. "Where did they come from?" I wonder aloud, and slowly begin to walk towards the wall. I push my hand against it, and I feel it rumble a little bit. A secret tunnel? I ram my shoulder into the stone wall, and within a moment I am thrown off my feet, the flashlight flying from my hand, and my senses are wrecked. Literally half a second later, I reorient myself and find that I have landed... on a couch?
The complete darkness surrounds me for a moment, before it is broken up by a stream of light flying through the air towards me. I hear a thud to my left as the couch heaves. "Ow..." a voice moans from beside me, which I assume belongs to Toko Fukawa. My head and my eyes, though, are focused towards the flashlight, which is still lit and has landed in a pile of what looks to be... junk? I get up and make my way towards the tool, and slowly pick it up.
"Where are we?" I ask the soulless room. I flail the beam of light around, but the only thing I see, wall-to-wall of this large warehouse-looking space, are piles, no mountains, of junk. Against the wall to my left is a second ladder, this one leading up towards the high ceiling. Besides the path to the ladder from the couch and the stone wall, it is almost-impossible to move elsewhere. Mountains of trash are held back by black polypropylene ropes that look ready to snap from the pressure placed upon them. Whoever came this way would have had a great difficulty moving around anywhere but here. My attention turns back to the ladder. "I guess we've got another ladder to check." I sigh.
On our climb up the second never-ending ladder, the flashlight's batteries died out, leaving us blanketed in complete darkness. This made it incredibly painful when I hit my head on the ceiling.
With one hand on the ladder, I use the other to feel around the ceiling above me. "Are you okay?" Toko calls up from below me, and I reply with a "yeah" very quickly, pre-occupied with my search. I decide to just push the ceiling, and I feel it move slightly. I slowly put my head up to the ceiling, and push my head against it as I push with my hand. This time, the ceiling moves after a slight hesitation, making a loud scraping noise that deafens me.
As the ceiling moves up and away, I'm blinded by a brilliant light. The white tiles that make up the room above us not helping my eyes adjust. With little effort I pull myself up and over the ledge, and flop onto my back. "We've made it!" I yell down to Toko, gasping for air as I do. I hear her voice echo "thank goodness" from the hole in the ground, and a second later I see Toko weakly pull her body up and right beside mine.
"Where... are we?" Toko manages to say between gasps of air. My eyes hurt from the drastic lighting change, but I can definitely see to some extent now.
"The trash room?" The room is mostly-white, and behind a grated metallic wall lies a sleeping incinerator. I have been here before a few times, and it looks just as it always does. The first time I was here I tried opening the hatch on the ground, but it seemed to only open from the underside. Now we know where it leads. I think.
Suddenly, my thoughts are cut short by the crackle of the school's announcement system starting up. "Upupupuu~" I hear Monokuma laugh, sending a chill down my spine. "Alright everyone! I think you've all had enough time to investigate. You know the drill: meet me at the red door on the first floor for the Class Trial!"
As Toko and I step into the room behind the red door, awaiting the opening of the elevator doors, we notice that Leon and Aoi are still MIA. Kyoko, too, has not yet arrived, though steps in only a second after I make my way towards an empty space in the room.
I take a deep breath - now that I have a moment to think, everything around me crashes in. Byakuya Togami and Mukuro Ikusaba have died. Someone in this room - possibly even two people - is the culprit. That makes four people. Four people have died since we found ourselves here, with no explanation as to why or how.
A stifling silence slams down on all of us gathered here, abruptly sliced open by the loud screeching of metal bending as the grated doors to the elevator slowly open up. Without any words, we all crowd into the small box, and wait as we slowly descend into the courtroom of despair. After what feels like an eternity, the ground stops moving and we embark, once more, to scale the monstrous wall of despair that stands in front of us.
- Author's Note: Due to the rapid-fire nature of Class Trials, all dialogue will be written in script format for this section, as opposed to the normal novel format, with Sayaka Maizono's internal monologue in italics.
Monokuma: Ahem! Now then, let's begin with a basic explanation of the Class Trial! During the trial you'll present your arguments for who the culprit is, and vote for "whodunnit." Vote correctly, and only the blackened will be punished. But--
Mondo: Yeah, yeah. You explained it to us last time.
Kiyotaka: Mondo Owada, it is disrespectful to interrupt the headmaster of this prestigious academy!
Mondo: Listen... no. Now's not the time for this. Right now, we've got to work together, isn't that right?
He looks over to Kyoko, whose gaze is locked firmly on the little bear sitting over us.
Kyoko: Monokuma, what have you done with Leon Kuwata and Aoi Asahina?
Monokuma laughs, and his cheerful giggle reverberates around the circular room to mock us as it coils around our ears.
Monokuma: Let's just say that they could give away this whole case. And I want to have an actual Class Trial this time!
Chihiro: At least they're safe. That's a relief.
Monokuma: Yeah, sure. They're "safe."
Hifumi: Anyway, what should we talk about first?
Toko: M-m-me and Sayaka... we found a trapdoor and investigated it.
Kiyotaka: As per your instructions, Kyoko, most of us split up in search of Leon and Aoi.
Kyoko: Though important, the results of are investigations are not what we should focus on right now. First we must establish alibis for the time of the murder.
Mondo: That's gonna be difficult. Don't think the Monokuma File mentioned anything about the time.
Celestia: As far as we are concerned, the murders could have occurred last night.
Yasuhiro: Nah, that's not possible. Isn't it against the rules to go into the gym at night?
Hifumi: I'm sure Monokuma would make an exception for someone with the intent to kill.
Monokuma: No no no!! No one is exempt from the rules of this fine academy! I may be cruel, but I at least uphold the rules!
Chihiro: So, does that mean Byakuya wanted to kill Mukuro with an explosion but got caught in the blast?
Kyoko: No. The Monokuma File states that Byakuya perished first and, three minutes later, Mukuro died from her throat being slit.
Celestia: In other words, someone other than Byakuya actually committed the murder.
Mondo: Great. We ruled out the dead guy.
Sayaka: If we can trust the Monokuma File, then the two of them must have been killed when most of us were in the Dining Hall this morning.
Toko: Mukuro d-died three minutes before...
Celestia: I do not see how that explains when they were killed.
Sayaka: When I was investigating their corpses, I noticed Mukuro had been stabbed multiple times, and the wound was still wet with blood.
Kyoko: Both her body and Byakuya's were also still warm. They couldn't have been dead for more than an hour.
Mondo: Unless they were wrapped up in a blanket, they probably would have been pretty cold if they had been sitting on the gym floor for more than an hour, yeah.
Sayaka: Wait a second. Monokuma, how does the body discovery announcement work?
Monokuma: Huh? Yeah, I play that little video when three people come across a corpse.
Celestia: And you played it twice because there were two corpses, correct?
He played it twice?
Kiyotaka: The first time you played the message, we were all gathered in the Dining Hall. The second time...?
Kyoko: Was when we arrived in the gym.
Chihiro: I don't even remember that one...
Monokuma: It most definitely played a second time! Purple eyes and the vampire chick must be the only ones that pays attention!
Kyoko: The important part of what Monokuma said was that he plays it when three people find a corpse. Does the killer count towards that?
Monokuma: Only if they leave the room and come back alone! Once they leave, they temporarily return to their normal school life - no longer the Blackened. Or, at least not until the Class Trial.
Sayaka: Since we were all in the Dining Hall when the announcement played, that means the killer had to have left at some point.
Kyoko: If what I believe happened did, in fact, occur, then the first announcement likely played in response to Byakuya being killed.
Mondo: What do you mean "what [you] believe happened?"
Kyoko: Either Leon or Aoi witnessed at least one murder.
Most of us gasp, including myself. Celestia is the only one to not seem shocked by this idea.
Celestia: You propose that the first announcement played because Mukuro, the killer, and one of Leon or Aoi saw Byakuya's corpse, correct?
Mondo: Don't forget that Leon or Aoi could have killed 'em. Heck, they could be workin' together.
Yasuhiro: Great! We narrowed it down to two people. If we split the vote evenly between 'em, then there's no way we can get it wrong!
Chihiro: ...There are ten of us...
Sayaka: I don't think it's a good idea to just vote for who we think committed the murder!
I slam the podium in front of me, and the smash reverberates through the small, round room.
Celestia: Besides, it's also possible that neither of them are responsible for the deaths of Mukuro Ikusaba and Byakuya Togami.
Toko: Did you forget that our lives are on the line here?
Kiyotaka: In any case, it is not polite to simply "decide" that an innocent bystander--
Celestia: Considering neither of them are here to defend themselves, I wouldn't necessarily call them "innocent bystanders."
Sayaka: In any case...!
I just force myself to yell, trying to shift the focus away from what will inevitably become an argument where we all end up running rampantly in circles.
Sayaka: Let's focus on something else for now.
Chihiro: Like what?
Hifumi: I propose we try to deduce what the murder weapon was!
Mondo: That's not a bad idea. We've got the gist of what went down, but all of the weapons are MIA.
Sayaka: What we do know is that a bomb was set off in the gym. Mukuro was also killed with what we assume to be a knife, which was also used to chop off...
Toko: Byakuya's hand!
Kyoko: Let's focus on one subject for now. We all split up, yes? Let us present our findings - they may help us determine what was used to kill.
Mondo: Alright, sure. I'll start, then. After you yelled at us, I decided to check out the second floor for clues. Goody two-shoes over there followed me, barking something about how "we should stay together in pairs" or whatever.
Kiyotaka: We should stay together during investigations! What if something were to happen and--
Mondo: The "blackened" already killed two people. Besides, I'm sure I could have taken 'em.
Celestia: This is going nowhere.
Sayaka: Mondo! What did you find?
Mondo: A couple days ago I saw Byakuya reading in the library up there, so I thought I may as well see if he left any clues. And--
In a swift motion, Mondo pulls aside a part of his coat and reveals a folded-up piece of tan paper. Its edges flayed and torn - it looks to be about a hundred years old. Mondo flashes a smile.
Mondo: I found this. Looks to be a map of part of the school, but I don't know what.
Kiyotaka: How come I was not made aware of such a great discovery!?
Mondo: Anyway, it was folded up in a book on one of the tables. I think Byakuya was using it as a bookmark.
Hifumi: What book was it.
Mondo: Some novel. Sense and something or other.
Toko: Sense and Sensibility? That is a wonderful tale about three sisters who...
Sayaka: Toko, I'm sorry, but now's not really the time for a detailed breakdown on the book he may have been reading.
Celestia: It's certainly odd that a teenage boy would want to read a romance novel that follows the perspective of the opposite sex.
Toko: That's the esteemed Byakuya Togami for you!
Kyoko scans the map that she has taken into her custody. Her eyes dart around the tan form, but her head remains still. I watch her as she peers over every crease and marking on the page like a robot, before suddenly she closes her eyes.
Kyoko: This map definitely is not of any part of the school that I recognize.
I look over to Toko, who chews on the tip of her thumb in-between her quiet words.
Toko: Do you think that map could be of the underground rooms we were in?
Now, I take the map into my custody. Sure enough, what Toko says could very well be the case.
Sayaka: Yeah I think it may be.
As I say this, I notice that things don't match up quite correctly.
Sayaka: Wait. There's something weird here. The circular room we entered in -
I point it out to the others.
Sayaka: -there was no door in it like there shows on this map. You had to push a section of the wall to get into this larger room.
Hifumi: Like in a video game! How did you figure that out, Miss Maizono?
Toko: There were... footprints.
Kyoko: What about the larger room? What was in there.
Toko and Sayaka: Junk.
Toko: The room was piled high with junk.
Sayaka: There was a small pathway cleared out, but you'd have difficulty going anywhere else.
My eyes dart to the part of the map that doesn't make sense to me. Another room is connected to the larger one - likely the one filled top-to-bottom in trash. A small room, another one that's drawn as a circle on the map.
Sayaka: There's no way you'd be able to get to this room, here. If not for this map, I'd never even known it was there.
Monokuma: Oh that? That's the Monokuma Factory. I keep my spare bodies in there.
Yasuhiro: You've got spare bodies? That's pretty cool.
Monokuma: Right!? I can go around exploding as much as I like, but I'll always be able to come back unharmed. Unlike any of you poor saps.
Yasuhiro: That's... definitely not as cool.
Kyoko: Either way, we will need to look into that room later.
Monokuma: No, you absolutely can not! I won't barge into your dorms unannounced.
I definitely remember Monokuma barging into my room on our first day here. I was in awe that we were given actual, fairly nice, places to sleep despite our situations. I had left the door open, and Monokuma just strolled in not long after, saying something about how sleep is important for school and whatnot. Pretending like he's the real headmaster pf this insane school and not some psychopathic bear. A cruel chuckle coughs up my throat.
Monokuma: In fact, I shall make it a rule! No one is allowed to enter the Monokuma Factory without permission!
Toko scans the map for a moment.
Toko: The ladders here aren't labelled. Whoever went into these tunnels had some other way of knowing where they'd lead.
Yasuhiro: Trial and error?
Mondo: In a school where we're supposed to kill each other and hold trials to figure out whodunnit? You could dispose of a body down there and no one would ever find it. I think it was meant to be hidden.
Celestia: Monokuma certainly did a poor job of that, considering Byakuya was using this as a bookmark.
Monokuma: What can I say? That guy was crafty.
Kyoko: Anyway - was there anything else you found, Mondo?
Mondo: Oh, uhh... no. I checked the pool, too, but you can't get in the opposite gender's dressing room, so there's a possibility that chick's in there.
Kiyotaka: I had suggested that we ask Chihiro check the women's locker room, but we couldn't find her.
Yasuhiro: Speaking of - me and Chihiro went to the dorms.
Toko: So while the rest of us were investigating, you two were lazing around? Of course.
Chihiro: I thought Aoi and Leon would be in their rooms.
Yasuhiro: Clearly they weren't.
Chihiro: There was something odd though. We also thought to check out the rooms that Mukuro and Byakuya had been using and...
Yasuhiro: Byakuya's one weird dude.
Hifumi: Oh ho ho! A man of exquisite tastes in the sexual sense, perhaps?
Yasuhiro: Nah. He was really into military stuff, for some reason. His name's Togami, right? I thought he would have been related to that big corporation. Guess it's just a coincidence.
Kyoko: The Togami Corporation. I suspected he was, which would have explained his attitude, yet... hmm...
Yasuhiro: There was also a weird black box on his bed. It was locked and I couldn't get it open no matter what I tried. Dunno where the key is.
Celestia: Oh, I happen to know something about that. After parting ways with Toko, Sayaka, and Kyoko, I thought it best to relax with a nice cup of tea. While they don't have the brands that I prefer, I did find an opened tin with this thrown in.
From her sleeve, Celeste produces a small black key with a golden T marked on it. The fancy font makes it clear that this isn't just some ordinary key.
Celestia: I did find it odd, but decided to pay it no mind.
Mondo: Not to be rude, here, but aren't we supposed to be finding the killer? Who cares what kind of stuff Byakuya was into.
Kyoko: It would be wise to investigate everything.
Sayaka: Plus, without Aoi or Leon here to give us their testimonies, we're kind of just going in circles.
I mutter that under my breath, a thought that wasn't supposed to escape the confines of my own mind, but Kyoko glares at me after the wind escapes my lips.
Kyoko: Yasuhiro, did you bring the box with you?
Yasuhiro: Huh? Oh, yeah.
From a pocket in the coat he wears draped over his shoulders, Hiro produces a black box. He hands it to Kyoko who, after also receiving the key from Celestia, opens it with no effort.
Hifumi: Well, Miss Kirigiri? What secrets has Byakuya been hiding from us?
Kyoko doesn't say anything, instead she just produces Byakuya Togami's missing hand. Gasps ring out through the courtroom, and Chihiro almost faints at the sight of the blood caking the stump where the arm should be. What looks interesting though is...
Sayaka: That tattoo on the back of his hand? A wolf?
Kyoko: An emblem of some sort. It says... Fenrir.
Toko: That's a wolf from Norse mythology. If my memory is correct, Fenrir was destined to kill Odin during Ragnarok, but he was killed before he could.
Mondo: That's an... odd choice for a tat.
My memory is still spotty - gaps exist in regards to anything that happened before we arrived at Hope's Peak, and even a time before then - but for some reason, the name "Fenrir" jumps out to me, and I say the first thing that pops into my mind.
Sayaka: Fenrir is... a mercenary group.
Monokuma: Ding ding ding! Right on the money! Believe it or not, the "esteemed" Byakuya Togami was a member of the Fenrir Mercenaries! How's THAT for a plot-twist!
Kyoko: If I may ask, then, what was his relation to the Togami Corporation?
Monokuma: He was supposed to be the heir to its fortune, but his father rewed and he was bumped off the top of the list. I don't know the extent of why he became a mercenary.
Celestia: There is something else in that box though, correct Kyoko?
Kyoko: Indeed, though even I am not fully sure how they could play into the case.
Kyoko now produces a series of photographs - stained with the blood from Byakuya's arm - which have been mutilated by scissors and pens. All of the images are of Byakuya, but whoever is nearby has been either blacked out or cut off.
Hifumi: Seems like he had girlfriend troubles.
Sayaka: Wait, he's not hiding his Fenrir mark in that image.
Kyoko: It's possible that, like Hifumi said, Byakuya had been in a relationship with another mercenary.
Toko: Look at the hair in that one image. Do you think it could have been...
Toko points at one of the photos Kyoko holds in her hand. Though most is cut off, it's possible to make out that whoever is standing beside him has black hair. Black hair, short and very familiar looking.
Sayaka: Toko, do you have an idea?
Mondo: Again, I'm not really sure how this could have any bearing on the case at hand.
Kyoko: No. It gives us a potential motive, here.
Mondo: It does?
Toko: I think... Byakuya is posing with Mukuro Ikusaba in those images.
Celestia: The only issue with that would be that Mukuro lacked the Fenrir tattoo that Byakuya had. Are you suggesting she wasn't a mercenary like he was?
I think back to Mukuro's body.
Sayaka: Mukuro had a number of stab wounds in her side. It's possible that the killer stabbed her there to hide her tattoo.
Mondo: So, if I'm understandin' you guys right. You're saying that Byakuya Togami was datin' Mukuro Ikusaba before coming here, and so their connection gives him a motive to kill her?
Kyoko: Judging by the current state of these photographs, I think they may have broken up. And not on friendly terms.
Mondo: So, what? He blew them both up?
Sayaka: Byakuya likely tried to kill both him and Mukuro with an explosion, right Kyoko?
Kyoko: I believe so, yes. However, as evident by the fact that the Monokuma File says that Mukuro was killed second, he did not succeed.
Yasuhiro: Hey Monokuma, if we know that Byakuya committed suicide, do we have to vote for Byakuya or whoever killed Mukuro?
Monokuma: Upupupu~ I'm not going to answer that, yet!
Kyoko: However, it's possible that Byakuya had brought the bomb, but was not the one to set it off.
Kiyotaka: Speaking of which, how did Byakuya acquire such an explosive?
Hifumi: I'm sure a mercenary such as himself would have the knowledge to build a bomb. The chemicals however?
Yasuhiro: There's a lot of stuff in that storeroom. I'm sure you could find... bomb materials if you look hard enough.
Sayaka: In any case, there's still the matter of who killed Mukuro. Not to mention, the mystery of why Leon and Aoi are being kept away from us.
Kyoko: Let's start with Mukuro, then.
Mondo: This trial has been going on forever. Can't we just vote for Byakuya and be done with it?
Toko: Did you forget that our lives are on the line, here?
Sayaka: Back to Mukuro. We know that she was killed after Byakuya, and that her throat was slit. I guess it could be possible that some of the glass had managed to cut her in such a way.
Celestia: The Monokuma File declares that she died three minutes after Byakuya. I don't think, if her throat was slit by the glass thrown by the explosion, that she would have survived for that long.
Kyoko: Which means there was a third party involved.
Yasuhiro: So basically, we're back to square one. At this point it's a 50/50 chance we get it right if we split our vote evenly between Aoi and Leon.
Toko: There... are only nine of us here.
Yasuhiro: Then I'll abstain from voting!
Monokuma: Abstaining from voting results in an automatic punishment!
Celestia: We need to piece together the whereabouts of Aoi and Leon. When was the last time anyone had seen them?
Chihiro: Ah! I think... I overheard Leon say something about learning how to cook a few days ago.
Hifumi: Come to think of it, I don't think I've seen Mister Kuwata since the day of the... last trial. Though I do think Miss Asahina had locked herself in her dorm room and never left.
I think back. I hadn't really left my room after the first "trial", and I don't think I saw Leon any time after I saw Mukuro in the gym.
Kyoko: Chihiro, do you remember specifically what Leon said when he mentioned learning to cook?
Chihiro: I-I'm sorry! I don't really remember, and I just heard him mutter it under his breath when I saw him outside the cafeteria one night. I know he said "learn to cook", but I'm not sure what else he said.
Yasuhiro: So we just gotta figure out why he wanted to learn to cook, right?
Sayaka: I don't think that's the issue here.
Hifumi: Oh, wait a moment! I just remembered! I think I heard an explosion in the trash disposal room a few nights ago. Leon was the one who was supposed to be in charge of that, so I wonder if he was the source?
Toko: ...Great job... hiding such an important clue from us...
Hifumi: It was late, and I thought I had imagined it. If he was learning to cook, that explosion could have been him getting rid of his food in the incinerator, right?
Celestia: Perhaps we should look at this from a different angle. What can you cook that explodes?
Sayaka: He was trying to make grenades!
Mondo: Well there you have it. He primed a grenade and threw it at Byakuya's bomb. When he saw that Mukuro didn't die, he finished the job so that there wouldn't be anyone around to reveal what he'd done.
Kyoko: While that does sound plausible, two things are wrong with that scenario. Leon lacks a motive, and it doesn't explain the whereabouts of Aoi Asahina.
Hifumi: Perhaps Miss Asahina wandered in after Leon killed Mukuro and he tried to kill her, too?
Monokuma: Oh my god~ This is so boring! Can't you people speed this thing up? I want to punish someone, already!
Monokuma scans us all, before pointing straight at... me.
Monokuma: You, just give us an elevator pitch of what went down. Explain it as you think it happened.
Sayaka: Umm... we really should continue our debate since we don't have all the details.
Monokuma: You know how boring you guys are? I get that you aren't detectives, but it shouldn't be too hard figuring this case out. You've basically been going in circles for the past hour. Come on! Throw out your best idea of the situation. Do it!! If you don't, I'll punish the whole lot of ya! It'd be more exciting than listening to this shit for another hour!
Sayaka: Fine. Okay. I'll do it.
Sayaka: We still don't know the time when these events occurred, though if I had to guess I'd say it'd have to have been not long before Monokuma's first announcement, when we were in the cafeteria.
Hifumi: Why do you think that?
Monokuma: Shush! Let the girl explain!
- Author's Note: While it's difficult to implement Non-Stop Debates and the like into this style of writing, the Closing Argument segments will end the trials from here on out. In these segments, Sayaka will explain the order of events, written in bullet-point format.
I clear my throat. Okay, I think. What really happened here?
- The blood on the glass wall that trapped Mukuro had been fairly fresh, as had the blood on both Byakuya's and Mukuro's corpses. They couldn't have been dead for longer than a couple of hours.
- There was a secret passage that led into Mukuro's prison. If I had to guess, Byakuya had used this tunnel because he wanted to speak with Mukuro - something he wouldn't have been able to do on the other side of the glass.
- Somehow, the killer had been aware of Byakuya's plans, so he must have been in the gymnasium at the same time. There are curtains on the stage, and considering we couldn't hear Mukuro on the other side of that glass wall, it must have been soundproof - she wouldn't have known he was there if he entered when she was, say, asleep. Though she also had not been given food, so she may have been delirious and mistaken him for something else or ignored him altogether.
- Either way, while the glass wall was thick, it clearly wasn't thick enough to withstand an explosion, let alone two. If I had to guess, the killer had somehow managed to acquire grenades - Byakuya had made a bomb so it's possible he made his too, or perhaps he stole one from Byakuya or even Mukuro, we'll not be able to know - and had used them, in conjunction with the bomb Byakuya had wanted to use to commit a double-suicide or murder, to kill them both.
- I'm not entirely sure how the killer's grenades managed to detonate Byakuya's bomb. Both of their corpses had been laying against the wall with a large gap in-between, so it's possible Byakuya had placed it against the wall.
- Unfortunately the explosion from both Byakuya's bomb and the killer's grenade managed to kill Byakuya. Unfortunately for the killer though, Mukuro, despite being weakened from a lack of food or water, had managed to survive the initial blast, and probably saw them. Knowing that Mukuro would likely been fed and healed before the trial, allowing her to reveal that they killed Byakuya, the killer decided to slit her throat.
- At some point, I imagine one of our missing students - Aoi Asahina or Leon Kuwata - had wandered into the gym, or perhaps was close enough to the gym to hear the explosion. I don't know why the killer decided not to spare them - assuming they're alive at all - but it's possible they tried to and were, A) either stopped by Monokuma, or B) simply knocked them out because maybe they hadn't yet pieced together that the killer was behind the death of two people.
- Why Mukuro had been stabbed so many times in the side and Byakuya's hand cut off is something I can't answer... perhaps the killer knew of them being mercenaries, somehow, and wanted to get revenge for something or kill them before they decided to team up and kill the rest of us and removed their tattoos specifically so we wouldn't know. But because Byakuya's hand was stashed....
"Leon was the one who was supposed to be in charge of that, so I wonder if he was the source?"
My head spins. Hifumi had said those very words. Which doesn't make sense. If he had access to the incinerator, why would he go out of his way to hide Byakuya's chopped-off hand instead of burning it up and erasing it from the equation completely. If he was the killer, did he want us to find it? That doesn't make sense. But if he wasn't the killer, then, what about what Chihiro said? He wanted to learn how to make grenades?
I vaguely hear someone calling out my name in the distance, but I ignore them. Leon said he wanted to make grenades, yet if he was supposed to be in charge of the incinerator, why didn't he just destroy the limb he cut off? The Fenrir tattoo was "removed" from both Mukuro's side and Byakuya's hand, so clearly the killer wanted to hide the fact that they were mercenaries. If the killer was protecting us, wouldn't they want us to know that they killed mercenaries though?
Nothing makes sense. I grasp at my head as a sharp pain juts through it. I can't focus. Nothing makes sense! Byakuya's hand wasn't destroyed, so Leon couldn't have been the killer, but then, what was the explosion Hifumi had heard? Did Aoi steal Leon's grenades? Was it Leon in the trash disposal room at all? Was the explosion that Hifumi heard a grenade at all?
My mind races through questions, and I lose my balance, stumbling backwards an inch before I feel hands grasping at my shoulders. I ignore them, my thoughts in a mess - I can't keep track of what's happening around me, but I keep coming back to the same thought, which I finally say aloud:
"If Leon Kuwata was in charge of the incinerator, why didn't he destroy Byakuya's hand instead of hide it?"
The first thing I hear clearly is Monokuma's chuckle.
"Alright, boys and girls, I'd say it's about time to vote! Cast your vote on the little screen on your podium, and make sure you do, otherwise you will be punished!"
"Wait!" Yasuhiro shrieks. "You can't just leave the argument at that question! What does that mean!?"
"It means Leon couldn't have been the killer." Kyoko says solemnly, looking down at her podium. My eyes focus and I see that her screen is blank - she has already voted. I look down at mine, my finger hovering above the face of a cheerful girl I thought I knew fairly well. Though, do I really know any of these people? I think, closing my eyes as I press down on the screen in front of me.
It isn't long before I hear the sound of beeps echo through the room, followed once more by Monokuma's laughter. "Haha! Congratulations everybody! The Blackened... was Aoi Asahina!"
I look up at him, and see something I neglected to notice before: beside the throne Monokuma sits on is a string. He pulls this now, and the curtains behind him move away, showing Aoi and Leon in small cages made of the same glass that kept Mukuro prisoner. Both Leon and Aoi are handcuffed as they sit in these boxes, but Leon is significantly worse-off. Dried blood has caked his forehead, which has been crudely wrapped up in a bandage. The floor falls out from under Leon after I take him in, and he flops down onto a mattress. I rush over to him, and he only mutters a single "ow" in response to my presence.
"Allow me to give you a little bit of insight on the Behind The Scenes of this case." Monokuma says with a chuckle. "Like I said before, I'm not entirely sure why Byakuya joined the Fenrir Mercenary Group, but I can be sure of this: he and Mukuro were, despite being some of the youngest soldiers in their ranks, incredibly talented. Mukuro Ikusaba, trained in firearms from a young age after being orphaned and found by a Fenrir operative.
"Byakuya Togami, too, grew up in a tough environment. Though he was the successor to the Togami Corporation, his father had pressured him into becoming perfect in every way. His family had a number of ties to the Japanese Underworld, and Byakuya's father often warned his son that he wouldn't hesitate to sell Byakuya off should he fail to live up to his expectations. I'm guessing this is why Byakuya eventually ran away and did end up joining the same mercenary group his father threatened to sell him off to. Regardless of how he joined Fenrir, Byakuya showed incredible talent in melee combat. Because of his and Mukuro's exceptional talents, the other operatives came to refer to them as the Ultimates of Fenrir.
"As you might have guessed, Hope's Peak took notice of this. They scouted out Mukuro and Byakuya, and approached them with the offer: 'You can rejoin society and no longer be used as tools by Fenrir'. They initially declined, so they rephrased it: 'We'll train you to become the best killers imaginable.' Though they were skeptical, the two lovebirds accepted the offer after a bit of consulting with the rest of Fenrir, and were invited to study at Hope's Peak Academy as the Ultimate Markswoman and Ultimate Knife Fighter."
Monokuma points up to Aoi Asahina, who glares at the small bear despite being unable to move.
"Believe it or not, Aoi Asahina's the daughter of an Interpol agent investigating Fenrir. She's got remarkable deduction skills, and is incredibly athletic - in fact, Aoi was accepted to Hope's Peak as the Ultimate Track Star. Aoi always loved her father and wanted to work alongside him, even though she was only recognized for her physical achievements and never her mental ones, so to prove herself she decided to investigate on her own.
"Turns out, there's a reason why she wasn't accepted to Hope's Peak as the 'Ultimate Detective' or 'Analyst' or whatever: she kinda sucks at the job. Ever since you guys woke up here, she's been playing the part of an airhead while trying to figure out whether or not Fenrir was to blame for your situation. They're considered a private militia-for-hire, though Interpol treats them as some of the world's dangerous terrorists. I think the Wannabe Detective took the idea and concocted the scheme to kill Mukuro and Byakuya and pin the blame on Leon after she learned that they were members of Fenrir. I bet she thought she was going to be the Heroine, that she was going to kill the two Ultimate Terrorists and free everyone else from the Killing School Life."
Monokuma does nothing but laugh after that, and I don't know what to say in response. I look up at Aoi, but the fire that burned behind her eyes mere minutes ago has died out. She weakly looks down at Monokuma, who jumps up in his chair. A very familiar scene then begins to play out in front of us.
Monokuma pulls out a small gavel, and uses it to crush down a large red button protruding from the small step in front of his throne. After he does, the walls around us begin to flatten into the ground; the classy red and blue interior drops away revealing stadium seating, filled with cut-outs of Monokuma that bounce up and down. The on-looking crowd shocks me, but not as much as the jolt I feel in my heart as a large television screen rolls down from the ceiling, a still image reading: Ultimate Execution for Aoi Asahina.
Two spotlights turn on, blinding me and the others as they circle around us before settling down on the glass box in which Aoi sits. She doesn't even look up from her position - she's accepted her fate. The only thing that she registers is her prison slowly filling with water.
Monokuma's shrill voice rings out around us, as if he's the announcer for a sporting event. "And now, lady-kumas and Gentle-kumas, it's the moment you've all been waiting for! The execution of the Ultimate Track Star, Aoi Asahina!"
At that, the fake crowd goes wild, hopping up and down at an even faster rate as the sound of cheering plays out around us. I can only watch as Aoi's cube is flooded, and while the water now reaches halfway up the box, Aoi remains sitting. After the box has been completely filled - I can see Aoi struggling to hold her breath any longer - I watch as the box is lifted up slightly by the pole hanging it from the ceiling, before it spins around wildly. After a moment, I hear a strange mechanical sound, and then see the pole get struck by lightning, the golden electricity running through the black metal.
I want to close my eyes, but I can't. The electricity runs through the pole and into the spinning cube. I have no idea whether Aoi is still alive or if she has already drowned, but I need not worry much longer after the electricity touches the cage, causing it to explode in a flurry of sparks. I want to cry, Aoi's cage erupts in a firework-like display (earning "oohs" and "ahs" from the pre-recorded crowd), but I see Aoi's lifeless body sitting in a now-empty tank, her body slumped backwards against the wall of the tank. Aoi's hands rest on her lap, and despite all that happened, I can see beneath her now-loose, chocolate-brown hair that she has a smile on her face.
The crowd goes wild as the television screen zooms in on Aoi's body, but I feel bile rising up my throat.
This can't keep happening!
I look around me. Everyone else is just as shocked as I am, their eyes locked on the body of the second "Blackened" - even Leon's eyes are locked onto Aoi's. Tears stream down Chihiro's face, I see Yasuhiro trying to hold back vomit.
I collapse to my knees, and lose all control once again.
[ CHAPTER 2 : END] || STUDENTS REMAINING: 10
Chapter 3: Hallowed Hopelessness
Black Root High School had little in the way of hope. The walls and the floors - everything was grey. While I attended that school, it was impossible to feel anything but weariness. The monochromatic halls sucked the colour from the rest of the world, always casting a looming shadow over me. And yet, I did manage to find a shiny ray of hope in Makoto Naegi. We never spoke while we studied there - not once. And yet, I always had my eyes on him. He was always so cheerful, so optimistic, and friendly.
The time I saw him nursing a crane back to health wasn't the only time I saw him working hard to bring others' spirits up; Makoto went out of his way for human or animal alike. This one time before school, I had seen him cradling a wounded cat - I assume it had been hit by a car or something, as it was beat up pretty bad. Its grey fur was matted with blood, soiling its otherwise heavenly coat in a crimson smear of despair. He apparently had spoken to a teacher about it, and didn't actually attend class for the rest of the day. I learned a few days later that it had died, and that's why Makoto hadn't actually set foot within the school on that day.
Whether I was at home or at school, everything around me felt fake. I was always striving to working towards making my dream a reality. When my father was neglecting me, I would always watch idols perform on television. They brought me hope, much like Makoto Naegi did. The dancing, the singing, the smiles - I had wanted to be someone to bring the same hope to others. I'd mimicked the dance moves I saw during performances, and memorized the idol groups' songs. Makoto's shining ray of hope gave me the power to fight through the challenges that stood in my way...
I could become an idol.
BING BONG! DING DONG!
With a yawn, I make my way towards the cafeteria. It has been a week since the last Class Trial was held, but nothing was the same as it was before then. In the past week, I had only seen glimpses of everyone else besides Leon. Leon had been attacked by Aoi pretty hard - he definitely had a concussion, and I'd been going by his room to check on him and bring him food since I doubt anyone else would. He had also been slashed pretty hard by a knife, I don't think he'll ever fully recover as it grazed his eye and may have even partially (or fully) blinded him - I wasn't sure, he barely spoke anything to me.
Besides that, yet another floor of the academy had been made available to us, but I wanted no part in anything going on up there. Even if there was an exit that high up, we'd need parachutes or a ladder to climb down, and I doubt Monokuma would just leave enough of those just laying around. I had seen Kyoko coming down the second-floor staircase once, but we didn't exchange any words, just a cursory glance. Knowing her, I'm sure she had investigated the third floor fully.
I push open the doors to the cafeteria with a grunt, and my ears perk up. Something I didn't expect pricks at me. Sounds, voices. I look up in shock: for the first time in a week, everyone has gathered here, just like we used to. Everyone sits in the same seats as always, and it gets ever-more apparent just how much smaller our group shrinks with each trial. Even Leon sits in the group, his eye hidden beneath a white medical eye patch. He is the first to notice me, and waves.
"Ah, Miss Maizono. Nice to see you." Hifumi greets me as I make my way towards my seat.
"It's certainly a surprise to see all of you here." I say. "I've been coming here every day - I was starting to think you all did find an exit on the new floor."
Each morning I would get up and come to the cafeteria. I'd have some orange juice and a banana, wait around for a bit, before making up a tray of fruits and crackers for Leon. I also found him some new bandages and an eye patch, though when I offered to help change the ones on his head already, he declined - seems he had a change of heart.
"Yeah, sorry 'bout that." Mondo says, scratching the back of his head. "There's a rec room on the third floor. Me an' Celeste have been challenging each other to cards each day."
"Well, one of us was certainly being challenged each day." Celeste replies with a light chuckle. With Mondo's sole reply being a grunt, I can only assume that he was the consistent challenger... and loser.
"There has been quite a lot to investigate on the third floor." Kyoko mutters, her eyes running across all of us. Her eyes stop on me. "As Leon had been bedridden and Sayaka taking care of him, I think it would be best if we all shared what we found there."
Hifumi chuckles, pushing up his glasses. "That is quite alright with me. Unfortunately, I don't think I found much of importance. I was mainly curious about that large machine in the Physics Lab." He looks to Chihiro, who shrinks down in her chair a slight bit.
"I think," she emphasizes that word, 'think', clearly not entirely sure of her assessment. "That it's an air purifier. I can't be entirely sure, but a computer nearby had some files on it pertaining to research in that field. That's all I managed to dig up though, most of it was so-heavily encrypted that I wasn't able to break them open."
An air purifier? Why would a school need one of those?
"So, Mondo and Celestia had been gambling each day away, and Hifumi and Chihiro were investigating the Physics Lab." Kyoko mutters, noting everyone's contributions under her breath. She pokes her chin towards Yasuhiro before asking him about his accomplishments.
"I was keeping Chi company, y'know? I wasn't much help with the tech stuff, but I tried my best to help them out. Even went and searched around the storage room there. Didn't come up with much in the way of an escape route, though."
Kiyotaka Ishimaru and Toko Fukawa are next. According to Mondo, he had originally been dragged around by Kiyotaka and the two of them searched both of the classrooms on the third floor, but after they finished their work there, he started his daily gambling sessions against Celestia. As for Kiyotaka's own testimony: he had searched the two classrooms every day afterwards, just in case something new would be found or placed by Monokuma.
As for Toko...
"I-I looked around the Art Room." That was all she stammered as she peered at us from behind her large glasses, nibbling on her thumb. She was nervous - I could see bags under her eyes, so she wasn't getting any sleep. "There were a lot of tools for woodworking in there, stuff that... could be used to... y'know..." she trailed off her sentence, but she didn't need to finish it. As a solemn silence draped over us, we were all thinking the same thing.
Stuff that could be used to commit murder.
"I did..." Toko starts again after a moment. "Try my best to lock everything away, though. There were... hammers and chisels and knives... I locked them in a chest and hid the key."
"Not a bad idea." Mondo says, gruffly. "Hopefully you chose a sturdy-enough chest that wouldn't break with one kick. Otherwise, we could be in danger."
"And Monokuma let you get away with that?" I ask, not really paying attention to what I said until it was out of my mouth.
"Come to think of it," Yasuhiro says. "Has anyone actually seen Monokuma since the trial?"
No. I think. "I've only seen him on the morning and nighttime announcements."
"Come to think of it," Kiyotaka says. "This whole week has been fairly..."
"Uneventful?" Chihiro squeaks.
"Yeah, very..." Mondo muses, tilting his head.
The one who suggested the word, was none other than the illusive bear himself. Standing on one of the now-empty chairs, Monokuma stands bent over the plastic table, propping his head up with one of his paws. His same creepy smile plastered on his face, and his cheerful voice ringing through all of our minds once more. We can't help but stand in silence while we take him in. "What? Was it something I said?" he asks after a sharp moment, before bursting out into a mad cackle.
Hopping up onto the cold, grey table, the equally-as monochromatic bear gains his footing and marches up and down in front of us. Those of us who had been sitting close to the table, leaning over its plastic surface, flinch as our "headmaster" reaches us, but he doesn't lose pace. Once he reaches the end of the table, he slams down, landing with a hard thump straight on his derriere. "I agree." he says calmly, though the way he holds the last syllable makes it sound more like an intimidating hiss.
"I really don't get any of you." Monokuma begins again. "Five of your classmates have died now, and yet you're still all so focused on trying to escape. You're not even paying attention to the despair that's in front of you!" he shouts that last part, raising his hands in frustration, before adding a quiet "what crappy writing" under his breath... if he even breathes, that is.
"I've given you motives. Your loved ones, a way to get the answers you've been seeking." The first motive we got replays itself in my mind - we never confirmed it as a group, but Monokuma did now. Back then, we each saw a video of someone close to us getting killed by Monokuma. Or, at least, that's how it was framed. "What do you guys want!?" he screams, askingh us this loaded question. "How can I get you all to kill each other with passion!"
Well, way to be straight-forward.
"Well, way to be straight-forward." Kyoko sternly echoes my thoughts after a pregnant pause. I can't help but flinch as the words leave her lips - did she read my mind?
"W-why are you even doing this to us!? Forcing us to kill each other!" Chihiro screams at the robot bear. It's a question we've all had on our minds, ever since Monokuma first began this game of mutual killing. Never in a million years did I expect the mousy Chihiro Fujisaki to ask it aloud.
"Upupupu~" Monokuma chuckles. "That's the million-dollar question, isn't it. Why am I making you all do this?" The bear's laugh screeches our ears once more, bouncing off the walls of the large cafeteria and through our bodies. "I'll make you a deal - if you can answer that question and figure out who I am, I'll let you out of here." he holds up one of his paws as his eye flashes red. "But, until then... you've got to play MY game, alright?"
He leaves that hanging in the air for a moment. "Figure out why you're doing this and we can leave, huh?" Mondo scratches his head. He hums a dull note, thinking.
"Is it because you really don't like high schoolers?" Kiyotaka interjects.
"Wrong!" Monokuma screams, holding his hands up. "Don't forget, you've gotta figure out who the mastermind behind all this is, too." He chuckles once more before jumping off the table, performing a front flip and landing with his arms out-stretched. "Now, come with me to the gym!" he announces, strutting towards the doorway in a militaristic march. Unsurprisingly, it is only Kiyotaka who immediately follows our so-called 'headmaster', though we all trudge along after them a moment later, with me and Kyoko trailing behind the rest.
As expected, Monokuma leads us to none other than the cafeteria. The hub of all of our troubles. It seems as though every bit of our troubles leads back to this large, empty room.
Once we pass through the small hallway filled with awards, we enter the extremely large, and now completely empty, gymnasium. The large cage where Mukuro had been kept, not to mention the glass shards from the explosion caused by Byakuya and the two... of them, everything has been cleaned completely up. Just like before, it's almost as though it had never happened in the first place. Everything is back to whatever state of abnormality we've become somewhat-accustomed to.
"Alright boys and girls!" Monokuma cheerfully struts up to the front of the gymnasium, the curtains drawn across the stage where the wooden podium stands alert and on watch. I expect the bear to hop up onto the podium like he usually does, but instead he wanders past it towards the golden drawstring that hangs from high up on the stage. "Here we go, your newest motive! What could it be? I'm sure we're all on the edges of our seats!"
With a light tug of the drawstring, the curtains swing back revealing:
"Hey, Monokuma, how did you get a car in here?"
Yasuhiro is the first to detail what we see on the stage. Just as he says, a very ugly car sits atop the stage behind her. I don't know much about cars, but it looks like any such automobile you'd see on the street. The only difference is that it is painted to look just like Monokuma. One half black, one half white, with a large red mark on its front. Strangely, all of its windows are tinted - its impossible to see inside, even through the windshield.
"What a tacky car." I hear, very quietly, from one of the several people in the shrinking crowd.
"Your new motive is... a car?" I ask Monokuma.
"Yeah, okay, this bear is seriously stupid." Mondo mumbles. "Does he really think we're gonna kill each other over a dumb car?"
"Actually, the car isn't the motive." Monokuma finally interjects.
"It's what is inside, correct?" Kyoko finishes. "That would explain the tinted windows."
"Sha-bingo!" Monokuma yells. "Listen up, I told you this a little earlier right? If you guys can solve every single one of this school's mysteries, I'll let you all out with no strings attached." The stout little robot waddles around behind the car, before popping up onto its roof. "This baby isn't exactly made to be driven, it's made to be a safe. I made it myself."
"So why should we care what's inside?" Leon asks. "For all we know, you've just left your car keys laying around and want us to go find 'em."
"Here's the stinger," Monokuma chuckles. "Something very important belonging to my students has been locked in here. What it is and whose it is, I won't say." Monokuma hops off the car, stumbling forwards as he lands, before continuing. "What I will say, is that it will definitely help you - or, at least, one of you - move closer to solving these mysteries."
Seeing our disinterest - after all, there's the possibility that we will solve all the mysteries without this clue he promises. But-
"Something you said intrigues me." Kyoko steps forwards, glaring icy daggers at Monokuma. The way you phrased your description of what may be inside of this... safe. It implies it is special to all of 'your students'."
"Uh huh. That's right."
"It sounds as though it may only be a single object that these 'students' hold dear. After all, I don't recall you ever addressing us as your students."
Monokuma stares blankly (or, with as much emotion as he normally displays, albeit silent) for a moment before he bursts into a laugh. "I won't give any more away to you guys. Clearly there's a reason you all have managed to survive for so long!"
He laughs once more before hopping behind the podium and his echoes fade away. We stand still for a short moment as the echoes of his chilling chuckles bounce around us, and it is only when they silence do we realize he has disappeared once more. Kyoko begins to move towards the car, but as she takes a step forwards the chime that signals one of Monokuma's school announcement blares through the gymnasium. There're no windows, no way to see outside our prison, but there's no way it's "nighttime" yet.
"Oh right, I forgot one thing." Monokuma's voice blares out. "I've given you all a choice: do you want to escape, or not? With what's inside that safe, you all should be able to put 2-and-2 together. Hopefully.
"So! To make things more interesting, so someone doesn't commit suicide to be a martyr for the rest of you shmucks, I've decided to temporarily change the school's rules. Please act accordingly to the changes!"
As he mentions the school rules, I pull out my e-Handbook. With a couple of taps I reach the list of rules that Monokuma had us all follow since the beginning of our time here. Before diving in to the changes, I remind myself of what they were previously:
- Rule #1: Students may reside only within the school. Leaving campus is an unacceptable use of time.
- Rule #2: "Nighttime" is from 10 pm to 7 am. Some areas are off-limits at night, so please exercise caution.
- Rule #3: Sleeping anywhere other than the dormitory will be seen as sleeping in class and punished accordingly.
- Rule #4: With minimal restrictions, you are free to explore Hope's Peak Academy at your discretion.
- Rule #5: Violence against headmaster Monokuma is strictly prohibited, as is destruction of surveillance cameras.
- Rule #6: Anyone who kills a fellow student and becomes "blackened" will graduate, unless they are discovered.
- Rule #7: Additional school regulations may be added if necessary.
I am incredibly shocked once even the first rule loads up on my small tablet. Instead of being marked as the "School Rules", Monokuma's replaced the whole screen with "Monokuma's Limited-Time Offer!"
- (UPDATE!) Rule #1: Students may reside only within the school. They are only allowed to leave should they manage to solve all mysteries relating to their new School Life.
- (UPDATE!) Rule #2: "Nighttime" is from 11 pm to 5 am. During this time, the entirety of the dormitory area, including each student's own personal rooms, the baths, and the cafeteria, is off-limits. Some additional recreational areas on upper floors of the school may also be off-limits following use the previous day.
- Rule #3: Sleeping anywhere other than the dormitory will be seen as sleeping in class and punished accordingly.
- Rule #4: With minimal restrictions, you are free to explore Hope's Peak Academy at your discretion.
- Rule #5: Violence against headmaster Monokuma is strictly prohibited, as is destruction of surveillance cameras.
- Rule #6: Anyone who kills a fellow student and becomes "blackened" will graduate, unless they are discovered.
- (UPDATE!) Rule #7: If a "blackened" kills more than one student they shall immediately be executed. Additionally, a suicide will be treated as a punishment by Headmaster Monokuma, and thus a Class Trial will not be held.
- (UPDATE!) Rule #8: The current motive relating to the secret clue shall only be available for three days' time starting from the nighttime announcement. Should no one come forth to claim such a reward, it shall be destroyed and the contents of Rule #9 become invalid indefinitely.
- (UPDATE!) Rule #9: A Class Trial may now be called should all students consent to one with the intent of solving every mystery. This may only be done once, and failure to complete such a task during the Trial will result in instant execution for all present students.
- Rule #10: Additional school regulations may be added if necessary.
"So, Monokuma's only giving us a three-day time limit on this?" I mutter under my breath. That's the first reaction I have, though my brain will not let go of what the ninth rule states.
"Well, this certainly is an issue." Leon says, looking up from his e-Handbook. "You're not allowed to sleep anywhere but your dorm, but the dorms are also forbidden during nighttime."
Toko nods her head slowly. "I-I guess... we should just sleep during the day, then."
"It seems as though Monokuma has altered the rules to make it easier for us to commit murder." Kyoko says, making her way towards the car as she speaks. "We can no longer simply wait out the nighttime periods in our locked rooms. And yet..." she trails off her train of thought, but I think I know what she was getting at.
I re-read the updates set of rules. "Yet Monokuma has also made it harder for someone to actually get away with murder." I finish for her. Nighttime is shorter and since we can no longer sleep during that time, it's during the day that we need to sleep. But at the same time, attempting murder during the daytime could still draw the attention of those who are awake. Not to mention that only one person can be killed or else the blackened themselves would be executed.
"Well, as we now must adjust our sleep schedules to accommodate Monokuma's new rules, I bid you all a good night." Celeste says, in an eerily calm voice. "After all, once night comes we are all essentially sitting ducks."
"Ahem, this is a school announcement. It is now 11:00pm! As such, it is officially nighttime. The doors to the dormitory area have been locked up tight. Plan well, for next morning the sun shall rise on a glorious Class Trial! And let's not forget, you've only got three days to claim your prize! Puhuhuh~"
As Monokuma's cheerful voice rings through the halls of the school, I can't help but let out a loud yawn. After Monokuma revealed the changes in the school's regulations, we all, for the most part, split up. Some people went back to sleep - since we can't sleep during the night, they took it upon themselves to get a good day's rest instead; Mondo decided to act as look-out, just in case anyone decided to strike. Kyoko, as usual, disappeared in her investigations. Toko and I ended up in the library together to do some reading, but it didn't take long for me to lose focus and begin to wander around the school.
I yawn again.
"I should have gone back to bed." I think. My body is exhausted. Once again Monokuma has presented us with a motive, and my mind has been on-edge because of it. This motive is especially interesting - it doesn't benefit the one who commits murder at all. That is, assuming they get caught.
I wander around the third floor, currently the highest we have access to, but if the stairway beyond the grated wall is any indication it's far from the titular Hope's Peak. Just as the others described, this floor appears to have a lot of different recreational facilities. Earlier I hung out in the rec room and read some magazines, and now I prod around the art room. There are many shelves lined with an impressive amount of tools. Masonite and canvases, easels and palettes, acrylics and varnishes, mahlsticks...
One of the many drawers are chosen at random, and I try and open it. It rattles as I try to pull it open, but it doesn't move that much. "That's weird." I mutter, and try opening the ones on either side of it - they are unlocked, and, I now notice, labelled. The first one I tried lacks such a name, which sparks my curiosity even more. I pull the drawer marked as paintbrushes all the way out of its designated spot and set it aside. Now that there's a large hole in the shelf, I decide to dig around the shelf to try and see what is keeping it from budging. "Wait a second..." I mutter, feeling something leathery on my fingers. A book?
Because of the angle the book is jammed in-between the shelves, I can't reach it from my current position. So I repeat what I did with the paintbrushes drawer for the two others around it. It's when I remove the drawer below that I can easily dig the leather-bound book from its perch against the shelf above. Golden packing tape dangles off the sides of the book - it wasn't a mistake that it was in-between these shelves, clearly. The brown book lacks any at-a-glance identifiers, no title or author, but when I open to the first page I am immediately greeted with the insignia of Hope's Peak Academy.
My curiosity flaring into overdrive, I turn to the next page and... It's torn out. Many pages in the book are missing, in fact, but enough remain to discern part of its identity: a yearbook. With how much dust kicks up as I turn the pages, and the wear that these pages have experienced, quite an old one in fact. The first page in the book, beyond the Hope's Peak emblem, is rife with information, though not all of it useful as someone has taken to vandalize it with a permanent marker.
The header reads "79th Class of Hope's Peak Academy", and a banner of sixteen smiling students stand together behind a group of desks. They look like a friendly sort, a family even. The largest, a man with wild brown hair with large circular glasses (and strangely carrying a container for insects) has two of his classmates under his arms, the three of them smiling happily. Oddly though, one student's face is completely obscured by permanent marker.
Beneath the banner is an array of headshots, detailing the student's names and titles beneath them. All of the student's names have been blacked out, and, once again, the same mysterious student from the banner up-top is also hidden away. Does the owner of this book just really hate this person? I wonder. In the banner, the obscured person stands away from most of the others, with only a man in what appears to be soldier's garb from a western country and a mask over his (her?) face being the only one willing to associate with them.
I flip to the next page. The following spread has a bunch of pictures of the 79th Class, all happy and doing various things, and each with the mysterious person obscured by man-made voids. The next pages are what really surprise me.
"78th Class of Hope's Peak Academy" reads the title. And beneath it are figures I know extremely well. Celestia Ludenberg, Mondo Owada, Yasuhiro Hagakure, Sakura Ogami, Chihiro Fujisaki, Kiyotaka Ishimaru, Mukuro Ikusaba, Byakuya Togami, Toko Fukawa, Leon Kuwata, Hifumi Yamada, Kyoko Kirigiri, Aoi Asahina... even Makoto Naegi and myself.
My head spins. The ground falls out from under me. I have no memory of this! I shout within my brain, and suddenly my head is pierced by a million shards of glass. All of us, the apparent 78th Class of Hope's Peak Academy... This has to be an edited image, right? Something Monokuma threw together to mess with us, yeah.
Thinking back to the first day, I'd not met any of my so-called "classmates" before, besides Makoto of course. Granted there was a gap in our memories, but there's no way you could just erase not just one year, but two from a person, no from fifteen peoples' memories? This is nuts! I think.
I flip the page, and what I see there shocks me even more. While the 79th Class had pictures of them becoming friends and growing as a unit, two blank pages separate Class 78 from the rest of the book. Completely empty, a solemn canvas of white... except for the scribbling of red letters across even the fold through the book's binding:
TRUST. DESPAIR IS HERE.
The next thing I know, Monokuma's morning announcement is ringing through the building.
After Monokuma's morning announcement, I wandered down to my dorm to sleep. Between my lack of sleep and the new clues I discovered, my mind can not handle anything more until I get rest. Though it didn't feel like I got even a minute of sleep, I feel somewhat refreshed.
But, more than refreshed, I feel stressed. The moment my eyes shoot open, my gaze turns to the yearbook that I clutch to my chest. "Do I tell them what I found?" I think. The writing on that last page I looked at haunts my memories. The way it was written, it looked like it was scribbled quickly with whatever was around, and the rusty colour makes it all the more possible...
I lean forwards and clutch my mouth as I feel bile rise up my throat. It was written in blood. That is all I can think. The way it was scribbled looked not as though it was by pen or marker, but by paintbrush or finger. Whoever wrote that... what was going on when they did?
As my thoughts continue to swirl about in the sea of stress that is my mind, I almost miss the faint knocking sound far off in the distance. Or, rather, it only sounds far off in the distance, but the rampant punching of the wooden door. And then a thumping, echoing louder through my dorm. "I'm coming!" I yell, though the thumping continues. With a single swift motion I unlock the door and turn the handle to open it up...
...and get trampled as Leon Kuwata tackles me into the ground.
"Oh thank god, she's okay." I hear from above me, though my vision spins and I can't tell what exactly is going on. I look around, completely dazed, and the only thing I can muster as a response is a long, and somewhat moronic, "whuh?"
"Get off her, you asshole!" I hear a deep voice shout like a smack to the face, and suddenly a weight is lifted off me. As I get my bearings, I look up to see five figures standing over me, with Chihiro the closest, her hand out-stretched, with tears in her eyes.
I take Chihiro's hand and she helps me to my feet as I take in everyone around me. Mondo Owada, Leon Kuwata, Hifumi Yamada, and Kyoko Kirigiri join the frail girl. I needn't even ask what's going on, rather Kyoko explains curtly. "There's been another murder."
"We think, anyway." Hifumi adds.
Leon, rubbing his head, clearly as dazed as I am after our rather strange meeting, speaks up next. "We don't know for sure, but we haven't seen the others all day, and it's gonna be nighttime in..."
"Fifteen minutes." Hifumi states.
"Right." Leon continues. "Me and Mondo thought to check all the rooms to make sure no one was asleep. So no one would get... 'punished'."
Oh, I get it now.
"That said, there has been something very odd about us going through these rooms." Kyoko states. "However, that must wait until morning."
"Yeah." Chihiro agrees, and together we all make our wait out of the dormitory area. As we walk, the others explain what has been going on.
Apparently, Leon and Mondo hadn't seen anyone since this morning and they started to get worried after they found each other in the cafeteria. Under our circumstances, being cautious is a plus - that's not the main issue. What Mondo and Leon thought especially odd was that some of the doors were unlocked: specifically the doors to the dorms of Yasuhiro, Kiyotaka, and Toko. Chihiro's was also unlocked, but that was because she was inside doing some cleaning. They found Hifumi in his room as well, and Kyoko apparently just showed up after a while and was coerced into joining their manhunt.
"Miss Maizono, we were very worried when we got no answer that something may have happened!" Hifumi says as we exit the living area and re-enter the strangely-lit school building. "We had tried entering Miss Ludenberg's room as well, but we had no luck in that department. We were just about to give up on your's, as well, when you entered."
"I was asleep." I say. My head now has a dull pain throbbing throughout, no doubt because of a combination of my collision with Leon and the fact that I'm still dead tired. "Sorry to worry you all."
"By the way," Kyoko, from the back of our group, speaks up for the first time. "What is that book you are carrying?"
In my haste, I had forgotten to put down the yearbook. Should I lie? I ask myself. No, if this isn't doctored, then it may be a clue... somehow. I should at least let Kyoko know... though...
"I found this in the art room." I say, not realizing I am. "It was stuck in-between some of the supply drawers."
I skip ahead of the group and lead them into the A/V Room, where Makoto Naegi was struck and left in a defenceless state. I wince a little bit, recalling him, but try and push him out of my mind right now - I need to survive. For Makoto, and the others who have succumbed to despair.
Closing the door behind the group, I plop the book down onto one of the video players and open it up. "Look at this." I say, flipping open to the page of the most interest.
"What in the fucking world?" Mondo says first, and the rest mutter just as confused statements. We all gaze upon the group photo of all of us fifteen students that had been locked up in here. "Is that... us?"
"Yes, but I have no memory of it." I say in response.
"I don't either." Chihiro says.
"Neither do I." Hifumi confirms. Leon and Mondo grunt and nod as well, though Kyoko's cold gaze remains locked on this image.
"What else is in this book?" she simply asks in response.
I flip back a few pages and show the others the 79th Class' page with the blacked-out person. "Interesting." Kyoko says.
And then, I flip to the main attraction. "Do not speak. Do not trust. Despair is here?" Hifumi reads aloud.
"Sounds like bullshit if you ask me." Leon says, scratching his head. "Doesn't even make any sense."
"Hold on." Kyoko says, pulling the book up to her face. I know what she must be doing - Kyoko probably came to the same conclusion as I did. "It's written in blood."
The ding-dong sound that echoes through the building to signal an announcement rings through our brains. It must have been roughly fifteen minutes since these five woke me up, so the nighttime announcement should be playing right about now. We all tune out Monokuma's sweet voice as he goes on about how certain areas will be closed off at night, but then my ears perk up at the last thing he says. "Oh right, remember that you guys have a limited time to obtain my clue. I'm sure you haven't forgotten, since I know at least one of you are planning a murder. Puhuhuh~"
Barring Kyoko, the others seemed to be too engrossed in their conversation about the book to hear, though as the monitors shut off my gaze meets Kyoko's. She heard that too.
And less than two minutes later, he's back.
"A body has been discovered!
Danganronpa R1 follows a cast of sixteen characters, with fifteen of them being the "Ultimate" students of Hope's Peak Academy and the participants of the Killing School Life. Monokuma, the self-proclaimed headmaster of the school acts as the killing game's host and enforces the rules when they are broken.
|Danganronpa R1 • Danganronpa GL∅BAL|
|Locations||Hope's Peak Academy|
|Events||School Life of Mutual Killing|
|R1||Aoi Asahina · Byakuya Togami · Celestia Ludenberg · Chihiro Fujisaki · Hifumi Yamada · Junko Enoshima · Kiyotaka Ishimaru · Kyoko Kirigiri · Leon Kuwata · Makoto Naegi · Mondo Owada · Mukuro Ikusaba · Sakura Ogami · Sayaka Maizono · Toko Fukawa · Yasuhiro Hagakure|