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Dead or Lie

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While they hadn't been trapped inside this building for very long, two days had already felt like a million. The morning routine had been relatively the same as yesterday, an obnoxious morning announcement from Monokuma in the morning at 7:00 AM—shortly followed by Yukizome waking everone up, sometimes even imperatively breaking into dorms with a bolt cutter, if necessary—eating breakfast—and subsequently going their separate ways for the remainder of the day.

Their main priority above all things was to escape the building safely and without any fatalities, and stop the perpetrator...but things weren't looking too well.

Even with two days passing, there still weren't any indicating signs that someone would come rescue them. It didn't make too much sense, with the division leaders stuck inside a building for days and forced to murder each other, this could be the most dire situation in the Future Foundation.

Then of course, there was the final rule that Monokuma provided everyone with, "The Final Killing Game will continue until there are only a remainder of three survivors", if that were true then reinforcements would need to come to their aid immediately or else the Future Foundation will fall to shambles.

It was after finishing breakfast when Makoto said, "There has to be a way we can prevent the killings from happening and escape. Chairman Tengan, sir, do you have any ideas?"

The elderly man stopped, taking a sip of the tea Yukizome made, "Yes, I wholeheartedly agree with you Naegi-kun. But there's also another concerning matter on our hands, it looks like most of the foundation has already started to divide themselves. That can be seen in individuals such as Ando-kun and Izayoi-kun, Sakakura-kun as well, and the same applies to Munakata-kun as well...this isn't looking so good."

"Chairman Tengan," Mitarai said, with anxiety, "Do you have any idea who the mastermind could be?"

"Well, I suppose I have no choice but to answer." Tengan said. "We don't have enough information to go upon, furthermore we shouldn't be making false accusations to anyone. In this situation, the culprit could so just be anyone in this building—it may well even be me."

"What about what Ando-chan said?" Ashina reminded everyone. "She said Munakata might be the mastermind."

He replied with a small smile, drinking more of his tea. "Yes, Ando-kun's observations were quite perceptive. Around the time Naegi-kun harbored the Remnants of Despair, Munakata-kun started to become more relentless in combating despair—possibly even more so now. He's been trying to get that secret door behind the bookshelf all morning, have you noticed he isn't here?"

"I'm worried about Munakata-san," Makoto said with concern.

"As am I, lad." Tengan replied, taking the final sip of tea. "I believe Munakata-kun is going about combating despair in the wrong way. While very accomplished in his roles and has achieved many feets in the foundation, Munakata-kun is a man with still much to learn. He believes that despair should be vanquished by taking action, collateral damage if needed, but those could ironically breed despair itself. I admit, some of this may be my fault, I taught Munakata-kun everything he knew."

Makoto raised his eyebrows. "You knew Munakata-san in the past?"

"Yes, back in the good old days." Tengan joked. "A little after Munakata-kun graduated, we crossed paths with one day. He made his goal apparent since the day we met, he wanted to build an overseas version of Hope's Peak Academy that would foster hope to people across the world. Upon graduating, he had just received an enormous grant of ¥10 billion for his substantial services throughout his student life. He wanted to use that money to begin his funding in the development of his overseas school, and we traveled the world together researching a variety of different cultures that could ultimately be implemented into the academy."

"If that's true, then we shouldn't be doubting each other." Makoto declared. "Even if they're divided by their ideals, we all share the common goal of wanting to spread hope. And that should be more than enough for us to unite each other."

"Then your first priority should be finding the traitor Monokuma mentioned." Kirigiri responded.

"Your? What're you talking about, Kyoko-chan, are you not coming?" Asahina asked, looking puzzled.

The Ultimate Detective shook her head, though she retained a calm smile with her eyes closed. "I don't think I'll be able to join you for now. I have my share of work to do as well. I'm going to continue investigating this floor and gather together what I can learn about R06LLS. I'm sure you and Naegi-kun can compensate without my assistance."

Asahina looked like she wanted to convince Kirigiri otherwise, but the lavender haired woman already made up her mind, so she ultimately decided to accept it, and eagerly smiled. "Guess it's just you and me, Naegi. Let's get to it! The sooner we find the traitor, the sooner we can get outta here!"

Makoto smiled at his friend in agreement, and looked to the Chairman. "I need your advice on something, I don't know all the division leaders that well yet, do you know how I can bring everyone together if they have clashing ideals?"

Tengan thought for a moment, like he was trying to gather his words. "I'll answer things like this: with all the division leaders having clashing ideals, it would be difficult to convince them all. There's no doubt in my mind that you—being the Ultimate Hope—would be capable of bringing them all together. That being said, if I were you I'd pay a visit to the 7th Division Leader, Gekkogahara Miaya-kun. I'm sure if you ask, she'll be of serviceable help."

He responded with a respectful salute to the old man. "Thank you, Chairman Tengan. Would you like to come with us?"

Tengan replied with a small chuckle. "I'm afraid I will have to decline your offer, Naegi-kun. I've been feeling rather sore lately and I don't think I'd be much help to you young people, I'm not what I used to be."

The Ultimate Animator stiffened when he saw the old man looked at him. "Mitarai-kun, would you mind accompanying Naegi-kun and his friends and escorting them to see Gekkogahara-kun?"

Mitarai stood from his chair and nodded, followed with a salute as well, "Yes, Chairman Tengan, I won't fail you sir."

With breakfast now finished, Kirigiri parted ways with her friends and returned to the lounge room to investigation the bookshelf. That left Makoto to go his own way with Asahina and Mitarai to visit Gekkogahara, the fact that the halls were empty and more importantly free of Monokuma was a comforting prospect, which made traveling through the halls seem much easier than before.

A brief moment of awkward silence infested the air. Asahina was quick to take notice and decided to break the ice, "Hey Mitarai," the aforementioned dirty blonde stopped in his tracks upon hearing his name called. "Gekkogahara-chan was one of the lead programmers for the Neo World Program. Do you know anything about her?"

He answered with a shake to his head. "Not a whole lot. To be honest, I haven't really interacted with most of my co-workers. I mean, I met Munakata-san when I first entered the Future Foundation, and of course I already knew Yukizome-sensei, but that's about it. It was because of your trial that I was able to meet them all."

"I guess that makes sense," the Ultimate Hope nodded, gathering all the information they were given. "I've heard about most of the division leaders to some extent, mostly on websites, but you're the only one I hadn't heard of before."

"I'm the leader of the 10th Division," Mitarai clarified. "My branch regularly requires me to travel around different parts of the world and bring culture back to places in need, so I'm not in this building very much. Even now, there are still places on this floor that look entirely new to me."

After some time they arrived at the destination, fortunate to them their first choice—Gekkogahara's dorm—turned about to be the exact location she was. Makoto rang the doorbell and received an answer after just a few seconds. Gekkogahara stretched the door opened and stared at him for a moment, with the scarf wrapped around a majority of her face it was difficult to determine what kind of expression she felt.

Her sapphire eyes gave a few blinks, then she was ready to type on her keyboard. "Hello Naegi-kun, is there something I can help you with?" she asked, then jerked over to the two that followed him. "And hello to you too, Mitarai-kun and Asahina-san."

It looked like she was typing in a rush; even Monomi seemed in a rush. Makoto had took note of that and said, "Sorry to bother you...is this a bad time?"

Gekkogahara shook her head. "No, you're not bothering me at all. It's just, there's something I was in the middle of doing something—" she said but stopped herself, her head jerked over to the nearest camera and back in a split second. "Would you like to come in?"

Her wheelchair moved aside, allowing for them to enter her room. Makoto hadn't seen anyone elses dorm before, but Gekkogahara's looked fairly the same as his with the few glimpses he gave it; the major differences being the laptop that rested on her bed and the closet that filled itself with outfits that matched the ones she was already wearing, from her black clothing to her brown coat, though oddly enough, there didn't seem to be any red scarves inside, so apparently the one she wore was the only of its kind.

Makoto look rather confused, "Gekkogahara-san. Is there something you wanted to show us?"

"Did you learn something about R06LLS?" Asahina suggested.

"Sorry, but I still don't know anything about that," Gekkogahara apologized with regret, even Monomi started growing mushrooms on her head. "I've been so busy trying to connect to one of the secondary branches in the foundation that I haven't gotten around to it, but it seems like those functions were taken from me when Monokuma hacked into my computer."

The Ultimate Therapist started typing on her keyboard again. "Aside from talking through Monomi—I mean, Usami, there's not really a whole lot I can do with my computer. I can't directly contact anyone at the moment, but perhaps if I were to reconnect to the buildings satellite then maybe I could contact us."

"You're pretty good with computers!" Ashina gasped.

She pulled up her scarf to hide her flushing cheeks. "Well, I won't exactly say that..." she answered embarrassingly, and somehow managing to type with just her index finger. "In the Future Foundation my job is to research methods on combating Ultimate Despair, I oversee the development of weapons and things like that. But...I'm not that good at computers and programming, at least not compared to an old friend of mine from Hope's Peak."

It was at that moment that Gekkogahara realized she lost track of time, and began to compose herself. "I'm sorry, I almost forgot that you guys came to me. Is there something you guys need?"

Even Makoto had forgotten about why he came here for a moment, "Right! I almost forgot. Gekkogahara-san, we were recommended to come visit you by Chairman Tengan. He said that you would be of help to us in bringing everyone together and preventing any killings from happening. Will you help us, please?"

She replied with an urgent nod. "I'll do anything to prevent the killing game from happening. If that's your first priority, then I would recommend using the intercom system in the AV room in order to communicate with everyone at the same time."

"Thank you, I really appreciate your help." Makoto smiled.

Gekkogahara nodded, and it almost looked like she was smiling under the scarf. "If you want to speak with everyone on the intercom then I think I should probably come with you."

With their conversation finished it was time to focus on the most important matter and head to the AV room. It was fortunate for Makoto that the room hadn't been locked like some of the other doors on the top floor—one of them being Tengan's office, which was locked up even tighter with more cameras and a machine gun attached to the ceiling. He didn't want to find out what would happen if he tried to enter those doors, but it made him curious on why the security in his office was tighter than any other room.

Surely, it must mean they have something to hide.

But if they could unite everyone together, perhaps that wouldn't matter. Makoto waited patiently for Gekkogahara to set up the intercom system, and after some time the latter's wheelchair moved over to him. "Okay, everything is ready to go Naegi-kun. You can start whenever your ready. Let's just hope that Munakata-san, or Monokuma don't come and find out about this."

Ashina squatted into a fighting stance and started to deliver air punches. "Don't worry Naegi. If anybody comes in here, I'll get them before they have the chance!"

"But Asahina-san, isn't your forbidden action being hit with a punch or kick?" Makoto remembered.

"I'm not sure I'd be of much help either," Gekkogahara joined in. 

"I-I'll do it!" said Mitarai hesitantly. That was something to everyone's least expectancy, he remained quiet as a mouse for the entirety of the outing, despite the fact that he was sent to escort them in the first place. "I'll stand guard...and prevent anyone from entering the room. I mean...If that's okay."

Asahina-san smiled and gave him a thumbs up, "Thanks, you'd be a big help if you could!"

Makoto nodded in agreement, and followed Gekkogahara to the intercom, with his finger pressed on the button he began to speak. "Ummm, hello, can everyone hear me?" he asked awkwardly.

A brief silence infested the air as he started thinking about exactly what he was meant to say. Having been so busy trying to unite everyone together and escape this building, Makoto hadn't even thought about planning ahead.

"This is Naegi Makoto. I know there's only a day left until the first motive ends and we still haven't found the traitor. I know some of you are convinced that I'm the traitor, and I can't really blame you either. It's because of my actions that you've been lead to that conclusion. I never had a chance to truly explain myself—after I joined the 14th Division, I participated in a series of rescue missions and found fifteen alumni from Hope's Peak Academy that managed to survive The Tragedy. But those survivors were actually the Remnants of Despair. But I knew they weren't always despair, they were once regular high school students until they were manipulated by Enoshima Junko."

His description about the Remnants could've been an assumption, even with the memories of his school life restored by the Future Foundation he still couldn't recall a single instance where he ever interacted with the 77th Class. If what Yukizome said about them was true, then they were a "colorful bunch", and could possibly have been as close as Makoto and his classmates.

"After doing some research with my friends of the 14th Division, we learned there was a potential way to save them—the Neo World Program—the fifteen Remnants of Despair were put inside the program to undo the despair inflicted on them and revert them back to their original state before meeting Enoshima. But one of the Remnants secretly uploaded an AI version of Enoshima into the program."

That part felt difficult to swallow, since that was one of the felonies listed on the day of his arrested. Makoto had been fully aware of the forbiddance of the Future Foundation members using the Neo World Program unless given permission by the higher ups, and if the division leaders were prohibited from using the program then there's no doubt that a lower rank member would have even less permission. In spite of that, he knew that would've been the only way to help the Remnants. 

"Things escalated in a way that I never imagined, and ten of the fifteen Remnants were put in a comatose state until they could be woken up. I haven't heard from them ever since, but I believe they're all working together to create their own futures full of hope, and we need to do the same. If we just talk to each other and get rid of all misunderstandings and fears, we can all work together! We can defeat Monokuma and whoever's masterminding this game and leave the building before any killings happen."

"And just to prove to you that I'm being honest. I'm dropping out of the killing game—my forbidden action is Running through the Halls—that means that anyone is free to come and attack me if they want to."

Makoto retracted his finger off the button, feeling rather relieved to finally give everything off his chest. If successful then everyone would agree with him and join together to overthrow the mastermind of this game.

"Naegi-san, you're really are brave," Mitarai walked over, with his jaw dropped in complete amazement. "You just revealed your forbidden action to everyone like it was nothing. It probably takes a lot of courage to do that."

The Ultimate Hope scratched the back of his head, rather modestly, "Well, actually I kinda just played that whole thing by ear. I just started saying the first things that came to mind and how we could—"

"AHA! I've caught you red handed!"

The four of them frozen upon hearing that voice, Makoto personally didn't want to turn around at fear of what might happen. Unfortunately, the owner of said voice—Monokuma walked over to them meeting their gaze. The two-toned bear wore a police officer hat and was carrying a baton in his hands. "Well now, well now, well now. What do you bastards think you're doing?"

"Uhh...well...we were..." Makoto stammered, there wasn't nearly enough time to find some believable excuse.

"Using the intercom system?" Monokuma finished the sentence. "Okie dokie! Use the intercom till your hearts content! Use the intercom till the cows come home!"

"You mean, you're not mad?" Asahina was the first to ask, clearly speaking for everyone elses confusion.

Monokuma placed a hand behind his back and blushed. "While it may be hard to believe with my charm and undeniable adorableness, I'm an old bear, and this is already my third killing game. If I stressed about every nook and cranny of a detail that you bastards did all the time, then I'd probably lose all my fur. I wouldn't be a Monokuma anymore, I'd be a Pinkakuma...or something."

The two-toned bear smiled and tilted his head, "Unless...you guys want me to add a new rule in?"

"We don't need any more rules!" Makoto growled. "We're gonna beat you and get out of this killing game!"

"Yes! That's correct! You bastards are gonna get outta this building, Naegi-kun," Monokuma wholeheartedly nodded, a reaction that had Makoto dumbstruck. "You'll escape when you're all finally finished committing ridiculously complicated murders and getting executed one-by-one, then three of you guys will leave this building with flying colors."

Mitarai gulped. "You mean...you were serious about the three survivor rule?"

The Ultimate Animator looked worried, and for good reason, the teddy bear nodded in excitement.

"Of course, I'm a bear silly, and bears never forget things! Or am I thinking of elephants?" Monokuma responded. "Three survivors on the nose! No more, no less! Unless twelve of you bastards start kicking the bucket, then I won't be opening up those doors."

Makoto took a deep breath to compose himself. If he let what Monokuma said get to him, then he'd be giving into the despair. It was more important to remember what Kirigiri told him—Monokuma wouldn't specifically say "three survivors" unless there was some ulterior motive behind it, and with the "no more, no less" confirmation, it was definitely safe to say that the bear was planning something, and he didn't wanna know.

"We're not gonna let that happen. We'll all escape this building together! No one will be left behind."


Throughout the halls, the other participants caught a glimpse of the words of inspiration that were delivered to them by the Ultimate Hope. Kirigiri had the first reaction to this, a smile developed on her face the moment she heard his voice on the intercom. Great Gozu and Kimura seemed to feel comparatively the same, with the latter feeling conflicted on which side to chose. Without very much care, Ando continued boredly feeding treats to her boyfriend, and then there was Tengan remained in the cafeteria where he smiled softly before drinking another cup of tea.

Inside the Ultimate Student Council President office—Munakata listened thoroughly to the announcement on the intercom and taking in all the information that he'd been given, with Sakakura and Yukizome following the same train of thought.

"What a derivative and half-assed speech," Sakakura rolled his eyes. "If he thinks I'm gonna falter to something like that then he's got another thing coming."

"I'll have to disagree, I believe the speech was quite impressive." Munakata said, with hardly any emotion coming out of his voice. "But, with all that said. It has given me a bit more insight on the type of person Naegi Makoto is."

Yukizome turned to him confused, "What do you mean?"

"There is much to discuss on the matter," the Ultimate Student Council President replied. "When it comes to Naegi, there's truly no denying that he's a boy capable of spreading hope and inspiring others with those words. But it's come to my attention that his ideas of hope are misconstrued; the perception that hope can be spread through speeches as opposed to taking actions is flawed. Words don't hold any meaning, they only deceive the mind into processing a certain way."

"Alright, so what's the plan, chief?" Sakakura asked his friend.

"Yeah, what're we gonna do?" Yukizome followed. "I don't doubt Naegi-kun's hope, but I think we shouldn't ignore yours either."

Munakata looked to his two friends, smiling slightly, "It's clear that our plan's been the same since day one. It's imperative that we vanquish the despair inflicted on the world, and restore things back to the way they were before Enoshima Junko's influence."

"Ride or die, big guy! I'm with you all the way!" Sakakura smirked, slamming a fist into his hand. "The sooner we get out of this building, the sooner we can beat the shit out of Monokuma!"

"Yeah, you can count on me too, Kyosuke!" Yukizome gleefully smiled with both hands pressed against her hips. "I'll work hard and support you and everyone else in whatever way that I can!"

The silver haired man took note of the loyalty of his two friends, and smiled slightly. "Thank you both. I wouldn't have made it this far without your assistance, and for that I'm grateful to you all. We've come such a long way since Hope's Peak Academy, and we're finally going to get closer to achieving what we've longed for. I would exactly call it a dream—because this is a guaranteed victory. It's more like a plan...our plan. Together we can combate and destroy all despair in the world and spread hope throughout the world again."