“Alright, we’re back at school!” Makoto announced as he parked the car in the school parking lot. As Kyoko and Kiki stepped out of the car, he asked “How’d you like your first weekend at home, pumpkin?”
Kiki rolled her eyes at the childhood nickname as she replied “It was fine, Dad. It was nice to have a weekend to visit back home.”
Kiki smiled as she recalled how her beloved dog Hogo and the twins tackled her at the door. Mokubo on the other hand smiled softly as he politely greeted his sister, only to be enveloped in a hug as she told him that she missed him while at school.
As Kiki continued to smile at the memories of spending time with her siblings, Kyoko coughed lightly into her fist, the sound causing both of them to turn their heads.
“As much as I hate to interrupt this moment, we should probably escort Kiki back to her dorm.”
“Mom!” Kiki sighed “I’m sixteen years old; I think I can manage to find my way back to my dorm.”
“Okay, if you say so.” Kyoko giggled.
“Oh, but before we go, one more thing.” Kiki looked at her father curiously as he pulled out a small, brown book from his pocket and asked “Do you remember the stories we told you about how your mother and I met, and the footage you saw of the Killing School Life?”
Kiki nodded seriously. Those bedtime stories were some of her most treasured memories, even if the exact words had started to get a little hazy with time. Conversely, the aftermath of the Killing School Life curriculum during her second year of middle school was one of her most painful memories, filled with words that she wished she could take back.
“Well…there’s one more part of our past that you haven’t learned yet, and your mother and I have been wrestling for a while with how to tell you. In the end, we decided to write down a condensed version of those events into this diary here.” As he handed the diary to Kiki, he continued “This contains our perspectives of one of the most consequential trials of our lives. We warn you, it’s not a pretty read, but it’s one you deserve to know.”
Kyoko nodded as she insisted “We don’t want to keep secrets from you, Kiki, you know that, right?”
Kiki nodded and replied “Yeah, I know, Mom.”
Kyoko nodded and replied “Good. You may read that at your own pace, and if you ever need to talk to us about it, feel free to come to either of our offices.”
“Okay, Mom.” Kiki nodded as her parents took turns hugging her.
“Alright, we’ll be back tomorrow for work, but you head straight to your dorm, alright?”
“Okay, Mom.” Kiki giggled. “Good night Mom, good night Dad.”
“Good night, pumpkin.” Makoto told his daughter.
“Sweet dreams.” Kyoko told her before the two administrators went back to their car and got in.
Kiki watched the car’s engine rev up before her parents drove away. She sighed before turning around and walking back to her dorm, occasionally glancing curiously at her new gift with each step.
Kiki stared at the diary in her hands as she sat on her bed, now dressed in her nightgown. She was undeniably curious about the contents within it, but at the same time she was nervous about her worldviews being shattered once she did begin to read.
Last time, my preconceptions about Mom and Dad being a loving couple who would never turn on each other were tested, and I said things I shouldn’t have. What will be tested once I actually start reading about this?
“Hm?” Kiki looked up from the diary in her lap and asked “Who is it?”
“It’s me, Tsumugi.”
“Oh, coming!” Kiki stood up and walked over to the door, unlocking it before she turned the doorknob and pulled back.
“Welcome back! How was your weekend with your family?” Tsumugi asked as she closed the door behind her and followed Kiki over to the bed.
“It was fine, I got to spend some time with my brothers and sister…you’d be surprised how much they missed me after one week away.”
Tsumugi giggled “I’m not surprised; they’re really lucky to have you as their big sister.”
“Thanks!” Kiki giggled before she showed Tsumugi the diary and continued “Anyway, Mom and Dad gave me this diary, said it contained their perspectives on one of the most important parts of their lives. I’ve been trying to start reading it, but…I’ve just been really nervous.”
“Ah, I see…” Tsumugi nodded as they sat down on the mattress before she suggested “Why don’t we read it together? Maybe it’ll be easier to tackle this quest with a party, even if it only has two adventurers.”
“Really, you’d do that?!” Kiki’s eyes sparkled as she hugged the surprised cosplayer, thanking “Thanks so much, Tsumugi!”
Tsumugi blushed as she patted Kiki’s back, giggling “Oh, happy to help. Well, shall we start reading?”
Kiki nodded as she let go of her friend, narrowing her eyes as her hand shakingly gripped the cover of the diary. Kiki felt Tsumugi’s palm rest over her knuckles, causing the heterochromatic girl to smile and relax. She took a deep breath and opened the cover to the first page before she began to read.
The events we’re about to discuss in this diary are extremely confidential, only to be shared with those you trust. It began after the conclusion of the Killing School Trip, when your Uncle Hajime emerged from the Neo World Program. We were on our way back to Future Foundation Headquarters when we got an urgent call from your Aunt Hina. It was a call that would precede one of the most traumatic events of our lives…”
“Hm?” Kyoko wondered as the trio’s attention turned to the laptop in her cabin. “It’s Hina…”
“Why is she calling us? She’s not even in our division.” Byakuya pointed out as Makoto hummed in contemplation.
“Yeah, but there must be a reason she’s calling us.” Makoto pointed out “Look, the screen even has an urgent tag on it.”
“You’re right, besides, it’s not like we have more important business to attend to while we sail back to Future Foundation Headquarters.” Kyoko agreed. “We have nothing to lose by answering her call; let’s see what she wants.”
Her two subordinates nodded before Kyoko tapped the Answer icon and Hina’s frantic face came up on the display.
“Hina, what’s the matter?” Kyoko asked. “You look absolutely frazzled.”
“Oh, good, you’re all in the room.” Hina sighed “At least I don’t have to worry about anybody not being in the know.”
“Know about what, Hina?” Makoto asked curiously.
“Just spit it out, Asahina.” Byakuya commanded impatiently.
“It’s the higher-ups! They found out that you guys took the Remnants!”
All three of their eyes widened before Kyoko closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose, muttering “I should have known Kizakura couldn’t keep things quiet…” She opened her eyes and asked “Tell me, how bad is the fallout?”
“It’s terrible! Here, take a look at this notice we all got!”
Hina shared her screen and a formal document appeared, causing the trio’s eyes to squint as Kyoko read the text.
“To Makoto Naegi of Division 14,
Your unauthorized actions in protecting the Remnants of Despair constitute a severe breach of Future Foundation policy and cannot be tolerated. Henceforth, the Future Foundation is indicting you with treason. Your presence is mandated at a Future Foundation trial where the Division Directors will evaluate your guilt and deal out an appropriate punishment. Your Division Director, Kyoko Kirigiri, may act as your legal defense for the purposes of your trial. Do not try to evade trial; any effort to do so will be considered an admission of guilt and Future Foundation will use any and all necessary action to hunt you down.
Kazuo Tengan, Chairman of Future Foundation
Kyosuke Munakata, Vice-Chairman of Future Foundation”
Makoto felt his knees wobble as he breathed “T…treason?!”
Kyoko sighed “This is bad…you’re sure this is an accurate memo, Hina?”
Hina grimaced and confirmed “Yeah, my director confirmed it when they told me. But, I asked them if I could take their place during the trial instead, and they agreed. Figured you could use all the friends you could get in your corner right now.”
Makoto gave a relieved smile and nodded, replying “Thanks, Hina, I really appreciate that.”
“We’d…better get going…” Kyoko decided. “We need to prepare Makoto’s defense. We’ll meet you at HQ, okay Hina?”
“Yeah, don’t worry, we’ll exonerate Makoto together, I promise.”
Kyoko smiled wryly as she finished “Goodbye, Hina” before she cut the communication.
“Well, this is quite the mess we’re in.” Byakuya commented.
“Indeed. I’ll call for two choppers to meet us at sea so you can continue Division 14 business while Makoto and I are occupied with his defense.”
“That sounds like the optimal course of action. Well, if that’s all, I’ll head back to my cabin.”
Without another word, Byakuya walked away, and closed the door, leaving Makoto and Kyoko alone.
“Let’s…get started preparing your defense.” Kyoko suggested as she sat down in one of the chairs.
Makoto nodded as he took the other chair, nervously starting to sweat as Kyoko took out a small notebook and pen from her jacket.
“T…Treason?!” Kiki exclaimed, horrified by the Future Foundation’s severe response to her father’s actions.
“I guess they didn’t take disobedience very well…” Tsumugi commented. “He did apparently go against his superiors’ wishes, at least from the context of that letter.”
“But still…to indict him for treason…without even hearing his account…that’s just…too cruel.” Kiki argued. “Mom and Dad always listened to our accounts when one of us got in trouble…well, there was that one time when I was accused of cheating in elementary school, but that was the only time Mom lost her temper with me!”
“Maybe their policy grew specifically from their memories of the Future Foundation’s overreaction to your father’s actions.” Tsumugi suggested.
“Yeah, I guess that makes sense.” Kiki nodded. “Hopefully the actual trial went better than this letter did.”
“Well, it had to have ended on some kind of a happy note.” Tsumugi pointed out “Otherwise, you wouldn’t have been born.”
“Yeah, you’re right, Tsumugi.” Kiki smiled before she suggested “Well, let’s find out for ourselves, shall we?”
As Tsumugi nodded, they looked back down at the page and Kiki picked up where she left off.
“After some preliminary preparation of your father’s legal defense, I ordered two Future Foundation helicopters to rendezvous with us at sea. Byakuya boarded one to assume temporary leadership of the Fourteenth Division while your father and I boarded the other one with Hiro on board. As we approached the location where the trial would take place…”
“Hm?” Makoto replied as he looked up at his boss who stared at him with concern.
“Are you alright? You’ve been quiet ever since we boarded the helicopter.”
“Oh, yeah, just nervous. It’s only my second time on trial, after all…”
Both of them went quiet as they recalled their first-class trial together during the Killing School Life, when Makoto had become the prime suspect in Sayaka’s death.
“You did well during that trial, circumstances considered.” Kyoko gently commented. “You investigated before you had a chance to grieve, and you proved your innocence on your own.”
Makoto smiled wryly and retorted “Kiri, we both know you’re the one who saved my butt that day. If you weren’t in my corner, I’d be dead right now.”
Kyoko rolled her eyes and told him “Our friendship hadn’t even truly reignited at that point. I simply investigated objectively and concluded that the probability of you being the blackened was astronomically slim. No more, no less.”
Makoto nodded before he sighed “This is different though. Last time I was trying to prove I didn’t do something. Now I have to prove that I was justified to do the things that I did, against a power structure that objected to my ideas in the first place.”
“Perhaps…” Kyoko conceded before she continued “But there’s something you didn’t have last time.” As Makoto looked at her curiously, Kyoko explained “You have friends in your corner, people who are going to support you no matter what. Hina’s already taking the place of her director, so we know for a fact that she’ll vote to acquit you.”
“Yeah…we can count on Hina…”
“Plus there’s me as well.” Makoto looked curiously into her lavender eyes as she assured him “You can trust me to speak on your behalf. As your boss, I will of course vouch for your integrity as an employee. In addition, I am your legal counsel, and as such I will vigorously defend you during your trial. And finally…as your friend, I promise I will not abandon you during this trial. Even if everyone else believes you to be a traitor, I will never vote to convict you, and I will fight as hard as I can to convince the others that you are innocent of treason.”
“Kyoko…” Makoto smiled gratefully at his boss and replied “Okay, I’ll try to be more optimistic about this.”
Kyoko smiled and replied playfully “That’s the Makoto Naegi I know.”
“Director Kirigiri, we’re about to land.”
“Thank you.” Kyoko told the pilot before she sighed. “Well, it looks like we’re about to arrive. Hina should be there to greet us when we land.”
Makoto nodded as a silence permeated the helicopter. The two employees waited for the craft to land as they felt a nervous tension envelop them.
Hina smiled grimly as Makoto, Kyoko, and Hiro got off the helicopter. The four of them took turns shaking hands as Kyoko greeted their friend.
“Hina, it’s good to see you again. I only wish it was under more pleasant circumstances.”
Hina nodded and agreed “Yeah, I can’t believe Makoto of all people is being tried for treason.”
“Well, this whole thing was my idea, so it does kinda make sense that I’d be the one on trial for it.”
Everyone’s eyes lowered, unable to argue that point but not wanting to agree with it either.
“Where are the other division leaders, Hina?” Kyoko asked, breaking the somber silence.
“Oh, they’re in the main conference room. I just volunteered to escort you two there.”
“Very well. Makoto, stay close and follow my lead. Hiro, you stay here with the helicopter.”
“Don’t worry, I’m sure it’ll go just fine! I’ll even predict it right now!” Hiro exclaimed as he pulled out his new crystal ball.
“For once, I hope your prediction comes true.” Kyoko smiled grimly before she urged “Let’s go.”
The three of them walked off into the building, leaving Hiro alone on the platform.
“I…guess word travels fast…” Makoto muttered as they boarded the escalator, his hand gripping the railing tightly with a nervous grip. “All the guards who used to smile at me are now glaring at me, like I did some unspeakable evil…”
“Ignore them, Makoto.” Kyoko gently advised. “Once this is over, they’ll realize how silly these accusations were and we can focus on continuing to bring the world back to normal.”
“Yeah, so chin up, Makoto!” Hina cheered, making Makoto smile.
Their smiles faded into neutral expressions as they approached the meeting room doors. Fait whisperings echoed in their ears as they steeled themselves for the impending trial.
“We won’t accomplish anything by standing here.” Kyoko sighed. “The longer we wait, the worse it’ll look for you. Best to just rip off the bandage now.”
Makoto nodded and took a deep breath before opening the doors. All twelve remaining directors silenced as they turned their heads to stare at the new arrivals to their meeting.
“Didn’t mean to be late.” As the doors ominously closed, Makoto stepped forward and continued respectfully “Forgive me. Foundation Branch Fourteen, Makoto Naegi.”
Makoto took note of the fact that the twelve directors had all turned their gazes on him, causing him to sweat nervously.
I can already tell they don’t think very highly of me right now…this can’t be good… Makoto deadpanned before Kyosuke Munakata greeted him with nary a hint of compassion or levity in his voice.
“Welcome. Good of you to join us.” Makoto gasped as the vice-chairman wasted no time making the Future Foundation’s presumptions clear, ordering “Sakakura, place him under arrest.”
Ever the loyal friend, Hina was the first to jump to Makoto’s defense as he stared sadly at the other directors.
“Wait a minute! You can’t do that! You haven’t even heard him out!”
“Asahina, don’t.” Makoto whispered warningly to his friend. As much as I appreciate the effort, I don’t think it’ll help my case if I object this early in the trial.
Hina’s objection was cut off as Juzo walked up to Makoto with a pair of handcuffs. Kyoko resisted the urge to grit her teeth as she watched the boy she promised to protect willingly present his hands in front for Juzo to cuff.
Makoto stared down at his cuffed hands, doing his best to keep his composure as Kyosuke formally stated “Makoto Naegi of Future Foundation Office Branch Fourteen, dear boy, we hereby arrest you, for treason.”
“This isn’t personal.” Juzo commented. “It pains me to put a hero in handcuffs, but…I’m afraid I don’t have much of a choice.”
Makoto looked up, straight into Juzo’s eyes, and replied calmly “Actually, it wo…”
Makoto gasped in pain, his reply cut off as Juzo delivered a painful jab to his stomach.
“Naegi!” Hina cried, shocked by the suddenness and ferocity of Juzo’s attack on Makoto.
What the… Kyoko thought with concealed shock. How is assaulting the defendant proper trial procedure?! Doing her best to stay calm, Kyoko finally spoke up, criticizing “Ah, hitting someone who can’t defend himself. Is that Future Foundation policy these days?” No, it is not. I’ve memorized every Future Foundation regulation the moment I was sworn in as Director of the Fourteenth Division. Don’t you dare try and say it is!
“…Shut your mouth.” Juzo growled. “How many of our comrades have you condemned? He’s a traitor!” Juzo raised his fist and decked Makoto with a right hook, bellowing “HE’S GOT NO RIGHT TO DEFEND HIMSELF!”
Makoto stumbled backwards, stunned by the blow before he groaned in pain and fell to his knees.
“Naegi, no!” Hina cried as he doubled over, resting her hands on his upper back in comfort. She raised her head to glare at the directors as she exclaimed “This is outrageous, you should be asha…!”
Hina shrieked and moved her head out of the way, feeling the wind blow past her face as dagger lodged itself in the door behind her.
After Hina gasped in fear, Ruruka Ando stated with malice “That was a warning. Shriek again and the next one goes between your eyes.”
Her boyfriend Sonosuke Izayoi skillfully withdrew three daggers in the blink of an eye, holding each one between his curled fingers.
As Hina stared in fear, Juzo’s voice caught her attention.
“Suck it up.” He spat as she turned her head to stare fearfully at him. “On your feet, you son of a bitch.”
This is not proper trial procedure! I have to speak up, or Sakakura will continue to make this a blatantly unfair trial!
At least one other director shared Kyoko’s sentiment; before she could open her mouth to defend her employee, someone rested their hand on Juzo’s shoulder warningly.
“That’ll be enough.” He warned as Juzo turned his head to acknowledge his colleague, a bulky man wearing a bull’s mask.
“Get your grubby mitt off of me.”
Undeterred, the director argued “Passing sentence without trial is lynching. If you insist on pursuing this course…” He tossed his jacket aside and roared “YOU WILL ANSWER TO THE GREAT GOZU!”
“Everyone settle down.” Kyosuke’s voice cut through the tension in the air as everyone turned their attention to him.
Why didn’t you say that earlier?! Kyoko deadpanned as she glanced at her wounded employee.
Juzo gave an unsatisfied grunt as he relented while Hina tried to help Makoto off the ground.
“Naegi, are you alright?” She asked as she noted the blood trickling from his lip.
I’m putting a stop to this right now, we need to regroup now that we have no assurances that proper court decorum will be followed by the judge and jury. Kyoko narrowed her eyes as she stated forcefully “The defendant is badly wounded and not in a position to stand trial. He needs time to recover.”
“Screw that!” Juzo rejected. “I barely touched him.”
“Sakakura.” Munakata interjected, causing everyone to turn their attention to the vice-chairman. “We want his testimony to be reliable. Let him recoup for now. Trial suspended. This counsel will reconvene at a date to be specified. Take him away.”
Juzo walked over and yanked Makoto by the collar of his jacket, making him yelp as he was forced to stand up. No sooner did Makoto find his feet than Juzo forced him out of the conference room. Kyoko and Hina watched as the other directors left the room, leaving the two friends alone.
“So…what do we do now, Kyoko?” Hina asked. “This can’t be a fair trial; colleagues don’t throw knives at each other just for standing up for someone!”
Kyoko sighed as she lamented “…First Makoto needs time to recover. Then I can try and speak with him to reassess our defense strategy. We’ll have to tread carefully if we’re to have any hope of making a persuasive case.” She began to walk away as she explained “I’m going to go get some air and think. Meet me in the girls’ bathroom later; I’ll text you when I’m ready.”
With that, Kyoko disappeared, leaving Hina alone with her depressed thoughts.
“Dad…” Kiki breathed as she reflected on her father’s mistreatment. “How…how could they do that to Dad?”
“Everything he did in the name of hope, how could they beat him to a bloody pulp, threaten my Aunt Hina, and call him a traitor?”
“I…I don’t know, Kiki.” Tsumugi admitted. “I’ve seen plenty of fictional authority figures abuse their power like that, and of course there are real life examples too, but still…”
Kiki sighed and apologized “I’m sorry, Tsumugi. I’m just really upset and…”
“Hey, it’s okay, I get it.” Tsumugi assured her friend. “It must be really hard to read about your dad getting hurt like that, even if things are all better now.” As Kiki nodded, Tsumugi asked “Do you wanna take a break, Kiki?”
Kiki nodded yawning “…Yeah…I need to sleep on all this…maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to accept all of this…or at least be distracted by class.”
“Yeah!” Kiki giggled before the two friends briefly hugged.
As Tsumugi stood up, she smiled and bid her friend “Good night, Kiki. Sweet dreams.”
“You too, Tsumugi.” Kiki replied with a smile as Tsumugi closed the door behind her.
With a sigh, Kiki opened her drawer and pulled out a loose strip of paper before she placed it inside the diary as a makeshift bookmark. With her place now saved, she closed it and placed it on the table next to her bedside. She then proceeded to crawl under the covers, yawning as she curled up and closed her eyes. Everything went black as she faded into slumber, hoping for pleasant dreams that night.