“To cultivate the world’s talent and pave the way for the future... This is why we need someone like you.”
“...someone like me, huh?”
Yeah. I already know what to expect.
I’m just here to get used.
To say that Hope’s Peak Academy was a significant place would almost be a dire understatement. Hope’s Peak Academy has been a big name for as long as anyone could remember.
Their stated goal is to supposedly gather and nurture the world’s talent to become a breeding ground of sorts for what they call ‘hope’. A ‘hope’ that will lead the future for not only the nation, but for humanity at large. It’s that kind of place.
To be scouted meant you were the best of the best in your field, an Ultimate of whatever field that may be, and such was pretty much every kid’s dream. Even if you weren’t looking to better civilization or what the hell ever, to graduate from Hope’s Peak basically guaranteed you’d be set for life. If you could make it to Hope’s Peak, you could make it anywhere.
That’s where he stands on the matter.
It’s a snobby elitist school run by pompous hacks who just want to flaunt their superiority—but it’s a snobby elitist school with resources and connections that anyone would murder to get their hands on.
So, he supposes he’s lucky, then, to be scouted for a talent that was definitely going to be closely scrutinized and paraded about. Well. It’s nothing he’s unused to.
But here’s probably the best place for it.
It’s not like it matters anyway.
Neurological technologies have come far, but there are still aspects where they fall short. The last place he resided was nothing to sneeze at on its own, but compared to Hope’s Peak Academy’s supposed technological branch... There was practically a gulf in between that could’ve encapsulated an ocean.
If I want to get as far as I can, I’d have to come here. That’s all there is to it. That’s just the way this world works.
He doesn’t like it, but it’s not like that matters. It simply was what it was. He thinks that as he takes his first step through the gate, holding his breath as he does.
He thinks that. He thinks that. He thinks that, he thinks he thinks he thinks he thinks that, but—
B̶̛͖̝̅͜ ̸̹̜̍ŭ̷͙͎̘̽͗ ̵͓̮̱͂̕̚t̴̘͒͐—̷̺͍̟̝̇̇͠
It hurts. It really, really hurts.
When he finally comes to, he’s in a place that’s awfully strange. It’s a hallway—or isn’t it a hallway? But there’s a door up ahead. There’s a muffled chatter of people. A lot of it. It’s coming from the door.
His classmates, then? It must be his class. He should go, then.
It’s not like he really has a choice.
Ỹ̵̆̽ͅơ̷̥̞u̵̩͛̌’̵̞͉̅̆̓v̴̹̼͓͘̚e̵̴̢̬̯̟͒̄͢͠ ̶̷̱̭̱̞̏͗̈͛͢n̶͓̈́̎ẻ̶̷̛͎̠͔̑͢v̷̟̮̏͛̆e̷͚̺̤̐̏͘ř̷̸̫̬͔̳̈́̔͢͝͠ ̸͚͒̈́͒h̷̟̬̃ḁ̸̩̈́̀d̵̳̠̑ ̸̟̰̒á̸̺͍̈́̃ ̵̧̹̔̋͜c̴͉̤̀̿ḩ̴̝̃̅̏o̸̗͍̺͗̓i̸̦͎͋̄̕c̷̭͋̉ḙ̷̙̱̆̄.̶̺̘̹́
Matsuda Yasuke shoves the door open, and stumbling in blindly, face twisted up from a sudden bursting pain in his head. He didn’t even notice where he had ended up until he ran smack into someone’s back.
“What is this?”
“Hey, that’s another person, isn’t it?! Then, doesn’t that make the number seventeen?!”
“But there’s...not enough desks...”
“What does it mean, then?”
“I was wrong, then...?”
“So who’s going to help the new guy out?”
“He doesn’t look like he’s in the best mood...”
“H-Hey, why weren’t you watching where you were going...? Who are you...?”
It hurts. It really, really hurts.
“Urgh.” Matsuda rubs his head, grumbling as he does. “Noisy... Too fucking noisy... Shut the hell up... All of you...”
Slowly but surely, he opens his eyes, blinking a few times as his vision strained to focus properly. A class. A class full of colorful characters, all looking at him with wide eyes. In particular, some chestnut-haired weirdo was looking particularly unnerved and stood directly in front of him.
This is who I ran into, then.
“You’re Matsuda-kun, right?” He perks up and the living embodiment of a messed up cotton swab is the one speaking. “You don’t remember how you got here either, do you?”
“What the fuck?”
“That doesn’t sound super promising,” someone remarked.
And then, the chatter reignited with a vengeance.
“Considering how disoriented he looks, he doesn’t seem to recall anything, either. This really is strange.”
“B-But... He really is looking rather worryingly pale... Um...”
“Are you okay, Matsuda-kun?”
“Hey, wasn’t the door like, sealed shut not two seconds ago before he came barreling in? What the actual hell?”
“To be sealed again... What kind of devil’s work is this...?”
“This just keeps getting weirder and weirder...!”
“So someone’s really trying to trap us?!”
“But who would do such a thing?”
“I can’t think of anyone...”
“Waaaaaaah! Are we going to be stuck here until we starve?! Where are the teachers?! Where’s anybody?! What the hell is going on?!”
His head really was hurting from all this, so he couldn’t help but snap.
“Everyone, just shut the hell up!”
Silence. Abrupt silence. His head was still throbbing but it was starting to subside. Wincing, he finally takes the opportunity to get a proper look around. A plain, ordinary classroom. With 16 colorful characters. All looking at him fucking weirdly.
Even without the literal pain, this is a migraine and a half. This kind of situation...
“There’s really no need to be alarmed.”
A new voice, entirely different from what he’s heard before. Sugary, disgustingly sweet, and before Matsuda could turn on his heel, something sprung from the teacher’s podium.
Said something was definitely—a thing. A round, pink, sparkling thing, flourishing a magical wand with fluttering little angel wings.
It was a rabbit. A bouncing, beaming stuffed rabbit that was waving around its fucking magical wand.
“Magical Miracle Girl ☆ Usami! At your service!” Another flourish. “Round, kyuute, made of felt, and full of wuv, wuv—I’m also your new loving teacher! Usami-sensei!”
She curtsied, as if that made anything better.
“It’s wonderful to meet you all. Sensei will definitely do her bestest to lead you. It’ll be okay from now on. You never have to worry about anything again, including about Hope’s Peak.”
Never have to worry...?
“W-Wait, hold up,” Chestnut was scrambling to speak. “Just what...what are you saying? What do you mean don’t worry about Hope’s Peak?”
“Not to mention all the other stuff—like gathering us here and the fact that you’re a stuffed animal that’s moving and talking—!”
“It’s fine! It’s okay!” The stuffed animal exclaims with nothing short of pure, unadulterated cheer and eagerness. “Sensei will do her best! For the sake of wuv, wuv, I’ll make sure everyone’s bonds of love and friendship blossom beautifully! Now, it’s time to depart!”
With a wave of her wand, just like that—
The walls fell down. Each of the four walls, as if the classroom had been nothing more than a contained diorama. And now, all of them were on a beach. A tropical beach with vibrantly blue skies and gently rolling waves. There were seagulls overhead and palm trees in the vicinity.
And with another wave of her wand, the remains of the classroom were gone. Poof. Now, everyone was just standing there, dumbfounded and standing in the sand. A crab buried itself nearby.
“Welcome to Jabberwock, the location that will be a wonderful, exciting, lovey-dovey heart-throbbing island adventure! Your field trip of comradery and communal living!” Usami exclaimed joyfully. As if this were a joyous occasion. “Please enjoy your stay and please, please get along wonderfully with one another!”
Thud. There went Chestnut.
And, great, some of them were screaming. More ranting, more whining, more desperate chattering and ceaseless worthless questions that only increased on Usami disappeared.
Because of course she just disappeared. Just dumped seventeen high school kids on an island and fucked off to Wonderland. Wait. What was this island’s name again?
The headaches only got worse from there.
“Everyone, everyone, be quiet.”
Silence. Stalled and awkward. Matsuda felt his head spin as he tried to make sense out of all of it. And then, he just couldn’t.
Even for a mass hallucination, that’s not how shit works. And if it were a dream, I would’ve woken up by now. I wouldn’t be so exhausted. Exhausted...
He yawns. The prattling continues.
“What we should do for now is investigate and gather clues,” drones on. “Be on your best guard. It is very possible that stuffed animal is being operated by someone. Anyone could be involved—but it would be best to split up for now.”
“Oh. Shouldn’t we introduce ourselves, or...?”
I’m really not in the goddamn mood. I’m really, really not in the mood.
Hell, Chestnut seemed to have the right idea, just passing out. With a sigh, Matsuda knelt down.
He lied down, resting his head on his folded arms.
Rather miraculously, just like the miracle of being teleported from a classroom to an island, Matsuda Yasuke was out like a light.
He has a weird dream that’s more flashes than images. Flashes of white, flashes of sickly, subtle green, flashes of red, vibrant red, black—something, something—
Sharp. Acrid. Beyond fucking unpleasant. In his mouth.
“Urgh...!” He flinched awake, gagging a little and registering that the tide had advanced, washing past his hands and reaching his knees, his fingers digging into clumped sand as a result. Both of his coat sleeves were pretty soaked, and grains of sand and salt clung to the underside of his nails. Shit. Shit. “Fucking hell...!”
“Oh, you’re awake!” An exclamation rung out, soft and surprised. Matsuda recognized it as the cotton swab creep who called him by name earlier. And sure enough, there he was in all his cottony glory, smiling in relief with still a conked out Chestnut lying on the sidelines. Asshole was probably only going to get his socks wet from this debacle.
That made Matsuda bitter to think as he braced himself against a merciless sun. What made him more bitter was the pale, offered hand, courtesy of the cotton creep. He took it anyway to help himself up, and it was like grasping the cold, clammy hand of death.
If only he could be so lucky.
Hey, why am I awake again? I can just go back to sleep. I can just fucking do that.
And yet, he just looked around again.
Wow. It sure still is an island. Oh look, there’s a security camera. And a monitor attached to that palm tree. Yeah. Okay.
“Um, are you alright, Matsuda-kun?” he’s asked it suddenly, and somehow, he didn’t immediately snap, even as he was being given a disgusting look of wide-eyed concern. “You still look rather pale and... Oh, those shadows...”
Such was how his face normally looked so Matsuda deigned to focus on more worthwhile things, like scraping sand off his skin, wringing water from his sleeves as he did. He almost scratched hard enough to draw blood.
So, think, Yasuke. How we ended up here—the situation leading to this point... Blackouts, teleportation, things that wouldn’t be out of place in a fucking anime but typically don’t apply to main life. What the rabbit said earlier. Is this a social experiment? Was this set up by Hope’s Peak? But what would the reasoning be?
“...the location that will be a wonderful, exciting, lovey-dovey heart-throbbing island adventure!”
The rabbit said that.
“Oh. Matsuda-kun, you... That’s an interesting color...”
After throwing up, Matsuda decided he would need to do further research before making any proper diagnoses of the situation. Just. For his own sake.
Cotton Joe was still hovering around him worriedly and rambling about at least getting someone, at least until Matsuda flicked him. Like a dog with its tail tucked between its legs, he retreated back to watching over Chestnut. Matsuda glared longer than probably necessary before checking his electronic student handbook.
As expected of Hope’s Peak, this is state of the art stuff... But...
Well, that wasn’t exactly a clue so he swiped through the screens. There was a memo of rules. All pretty standard stuff. No violence. Get along. Don’t be a shithead and litter. The teacher will only intervene in student affairs if any of the rules are broken. Standard stuff, as expected for a typical school trip.
Although there’s not anything typical about this... I assume. I haven’t actually had a proper vacation that wasn’t just sleeping in, like, ever. Maybe stuffed animal robots are a new trend and I just didn’t notice. Would I notice that in-between the working and the dissociating?
His head hurt. That wasn’t an answer. So he kept searching through the handbook.
There’s profiles of everyone. Listing measurements, blood types, birthdays, even likes and dislikes... Okay that’s just fucking creepy. Is that why this kid knows my name?
No. He had been referred to by name before they received these things, right?
“Tch.” He glances back, scowling once more. The other perks up and smiles without a care. Gross. It’s like one of those fake-ass retail smiles, only without the incessant and pushy rambling about products and services. Still not much better. “Oi. Are you a stalker?”
Those wide eyes blink at him rapidly, and the owner tilts his head.
“Ah... Is that the impression I give off? I assure you that’s—not the case. Um. I’m just...a regular fan...of your work. I swear.”
Matsuda gave him an unimpressed look.
“Right... Because nothing says celebrity figure like some fucking doctor.” Seriously, unless you’re in the field, you wouldn’t know shit like that. Then again... “Ah. Knowing Hope’s Peak, they probably have my information posted on some public forum.”
“That’s correct!” the other exclaimed. “Every year, Hope’s Peak releases its roster for the upcoming batch. When I saw your name, Matsuda-kun, I really was delighted! The Ultimate Neurologist—in the same class as myself—just who would have thought?!” And then, a soft little giggle. “Although, aha, you really are as cool and cold as they say... But I understand this situation is...a bit much.”
“It’d be a fucking field day if you’re into shit like being abducted by aliens, I guess,” Matsuda retorted. “But unless they have neurological technological advancements here that I can make use of, count me very uninterested in the fuckoff island.”
“So serious and so diligent...!” the other gasps, awestruck. “To be within your presence...! Oh, I’m not even worthy!”
“Even if you’re not a stalker, you’re definitely a creepy fanatic, huh.”
“T-That really isn’t my intention! But, oh, I really should introduce myself. Ahaha, silly me, um...” He gave a wave. “Komaeda Nagito. Ultimate Luck. Well, um, that’s my title, anyway.”
Matsuda only stared.
“Aha, um. You see, Hope’s Peak ran this lottery, right? Um, basically it’s the only other way to attend aside from being scouted...” Komaeda played with his hair, clearly a little anxious. “Whoever wins is given the title Ultimate Luck. And I won, so here I am. Of course, luck isn’t really a talent. But when I tried to tell them that, they wouldn’t take no for an answer. Something about needing to research it more thoroughly? Hope’s Peak really is an incredible place. Wonderful fit for someone like Matsuda-kun, but...not so much me.”
Komaeda laughs with the most pitiful smile, and Matsuda’s gaze sharply narrows.
The more I look at this guy, the more pitiful he looks. And it’s pretty clear that he’s unwell, with that pallid complexion and spindly hair. I’ve seen livelier corpses. Christ, he could probably disintegrate from a mild breeze. Even if luck were a talent, this guy looks more battered by life than anything. That’s some distasteful fucking irony, huh.
“Every deck needs a wild card, I suppose,” Matsuda mutters, shrugging it off. “Maybe this really is a weird-ass social experiment, then.”
“Yeah. Something like that... Set up by a real fucking eccentric.”
With an appearance like that, he’s got to be sterile so I might’ve been wrong about my earlier assumption. Thank fucking god.
“Maybe they just want to see what happens, be it harmony or chaos,” Matsuda mused. “Likelier to be chaos, from what I can tell thus far. My bet is that at least four people are going to be dead before the week is over.”
“G-Goodness, so pessimistic!” Komaeda balked. “You really should have more hope than that, Matsuda-kun!”
Just as he was about to get sick again, there was a low groan from the body Matsuda honestly forgot about.
Ah, right. Him.
Chestnut stirred awake, and Komaeda was quick to check on him.
“Hey... Hey, can you hear me...? Are you okay? It’s understandable if you’re still out of it—considering all that’s happened...”
All that’s happened. There’s still a lot about this that doesn’t make much sense. I’m not taking back what I said earlier—but there are supposedly stipulations in place to prevent any of that from happening. So what is the goal here? Are we really just expected to get along?
That was just plain ridiculous on numerous levels. He’s not the type of guy who gets along with others.
His head throbbed again as he grimaced.
Right... There’s no way in hell.
As he blankly watched Komaeda help up Chestnut, he couldn’t help but be sure of that.
I’m not the kind of person who makes friends.
Chestnut notices his staring and flinches, and he relaxes only a little as Komaeda cheerfully reassures him.
“Matsuda-kun is a little rough, but he’s a wonderful person! He’s the Ultimate Neurologist, you know...”
“Ultimate... Neurologist...? W-Wait seriously? Isn’t he, like, our age?”
Chestnut really does look so uncertain that Matsuda can’t help but scowl. Predictably, Chestnut freezes up at that, and this time, unsurprisingly, Komaeda’s reassurances do jack and shit.
If that’s really the intent, then this whole thing is all just a huge fucking waste of time.