Work Header

The Ultimate Detective and The Ultimate Hope Gaiden: The Naegis’ Secret Diary!

Chapter Text

“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?

*Knock Knock*

“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.

“Dear Kiki,

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.

“Thanks, guys.” 

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.

Chapter Text

*Knock Knock*

Kiki opened the door, revealing Tsumugi on the other side.

“Konbanwa, Kiki.  You ready to continue where we left off?”

“Sure, come in.”

Kiki closed the door once Tsumugi had walked in.  They then sat on her bed together before Kiki picked up the diary and opened it to where she had bookmarked it.

Kiki briefly coughed before she began to read “I was roughly hauled by Juzo Sakakura to a Future Foundation meeting room.  We had just entered the doors when…”

“Whoa!”  Makoto yelped as he was unceremoniously thrown on the floor like a ragdoll.

“Get up, you traitorous son of a bitch!”  The former Ultimate Boxer growled as Makoto groaned in pain.  “I know you’re just fakin’ it.  I should just finish you right here and…”



The two familiar voices echoed in Juzo’s ear, causing him to turn to see the glare of Chisa Yukizome, as well as the neutral stare of Kyosuke Munakata.

“Don’t you think you’ve roughed him up enough?!”  Chisa exclaimed.  “For Kami’s sake, he’s bleeding!”

“Sakakura, I’m not defending Naegi by any stretch of the imagination, and I know your intentions are for the sake of eradicating despair.  But…”  Kyosuke warned his friend and colleague “…If his condition worsens to an unacceptable level, then any verdict we pass will lose any and all legitimacy, and the ability of the Future Foundation to spread hope will be left in shambles.  Do I make myself clear?”  He asked with an intimidating glare.

After a tense moment of silence that had Makoto seriously fearing for his life, Juzo sighed and relented “Yeah, I get it.  I’ll go easy on him.”

Kyosuke nodded and ordered “Then you are dismissed.  Please report back to your division until further notice.”

Juzo grumbled and walked out of the room, leaving the two division directors alone with the defendant.

“Yukizome, I’ll leave his recovery in your hands.  See to it that his physical condition doesn’t worsen.”

“Roger that!”  Chisa saluted before Kyosuke nodded and walked out of the room.  She then turned to Makoto and clapped before she exclaimed “Okay, let’s at least clan that blood off your chin and give you some pain medication.”

Makoto slowly stood up and nodded before he walked over to a nearby chair and sat down in it.  Meanwhile, Chisa grabbed a nearby cloth and walked to the sink before she ran it under some hot water.  Once she squeezed the water out, she walked over to the injured Makoto and wiped the blood off his chin, causing him to wince in slight pain as he felt the pressure against his jaw.

“There, it doesn’t look like you’re bleeding.”  Chisa smiled as she stood up and muttered “Now let me just get some advil and a glass of water for you.”

Makoto watched as Chisa walked over to the sink and opened the nearby cupboard.  She grabbed a disposable cup and a medicine bottle before she turned the faucet and held the cup under it.  Once it was half full, she placed it on the counter and turned the faucet back.  She then took the cap off the medicine bottle and placed two red pills next to the cup before she replaced the cap and put the bottle back in the cupboard.

Once she closed the cupboard, she picked up the cup and medicine and exclaimed “Okay, time for your medicine!”

Makoto nodded as she walked over to him before her eyes flashed in realization.  She knelt down and placed the cup and pills on the floor before she reached up to his wrists and released his handcuffs.

As Makoto looked up at her in surprise, Chisa smiled and told him “It’d be kind of awkward to have you take that medicine while you’re handcuffed.  So as long as you promise not to misbehave like a really rotten orange, I think it’ll be okay if you’re not handcuffed.”

Makoto nodded as she picked up the advil and water and handed it to him.  Makoto gingerly tossed the pills into his mouth and gulped down the water.

“There, that should help.”  Chisa stood up and told him “I’ll be back later to treat your minor injuries.  You just rest in that chair for now, okay?  Promise me you won’t leave this room!”

“Ah, yeah, I promise!”

“Excellent, glad we understand each other!”  Chisa giggled before she waved and told him “Well, see you later, Makoto!”

Makoto watched as she left the room, catching the uniform of Future Foundation guards as the door opened.

Makoto sighed and lamented Guess I can’t leave even if I want to… before he leaned back and closed his eyes, hoping that a nap would help his recovery.

“I can’t believe how rough that Sakakura guy was so rough with the headmaster!”  Tsumugi exclaimed.

“Yeah, I can’t believe Mom and Dad named a building here after him…”

“Well, maybe he atoned for it somehow…”

“Maybe…”  Kiki smiled wryly as she mused “Or maybe Dad’s just so nice that he’d forgive someone who roughed him up.”

“Yeah, maybe…”  Tsumugi giggled before she concluded “I guess we’ll only find out by continuing to read your parents’ accounts.”

Kiki nodded and turned the page before she continued “While your father recovered, I tried to fill up my time by completing paperwork that normally would have been you’re his responsibility.  I’d like to say I was being productive, but more than anything it was just to keep my mind off the sham of a trial the other division leaders were running.  Eventually though…”

Kyoko sighed and put down her pen before she stared up at the clock.

“I suppose it’s about time for me to regroup with Makoto.  Assuming Sakakura didn’t rough him up even more, he should have recovered from the worst of his injuries.”

Kyoko stood up and lamented “We have to adapt our legal strategy these strong-arm tactics.  If we’re not careful, we could all end up paying the price…”

With that, she walked out of the office and strode through the halls of the Future Foundation Headquarters.  Kyoko’s eyes narrowed as she heard the quiet whispers and gossip of other employees.  She resisted the urge to sigh in exasperation as rumors of Makoto’s trial seemed to spread through the halls.

I suppose this is rather exciting for them, though I just want this to be over so we can all move on with returning hope to the world.

At last, she came to the door to the room where, according to her information, Makoto was now recuperating.  It was a simple set of double doors, guarded by two Future Foundation employees armed with rifles.

…Isn’t this just a little overkill?  She wondered with dread.  Makoto’s not dangerous, and he’s not gonna try to escape.  So what’s with the armed guards?

Pushing the thought from her mind, she strode forward, only for the two guards to immediately cross their rifles over the door, blocking her passage.

Kyoko glared as she nearly growled “Out of my way.”

“…Apologies, Director Kirigiri, but our orders strictly state not to let anyone from Division Fourteen in contact with the prisoner.”

Kyoko glared angrily as she realized So that’s what the guards are for…they’re not here to keep Makoto in, they’re here to keep me out!  “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.  Now stand aside, or…”

“I’m sorry, but he’s right.”  Kyoko turned around to see Chisa walking up to her before the former teacher informed her “That order was given by Vice-Chairman Munakata and signed by Chairman Tengan.”

…Figures it would be Munakata’s doing…  Kyoko turned her glare on Chisa as she seethed “Need I remind you, Director Yukizome, that Makoto Naegi is my employee, and as his supervisor, I am his legal defense attorney.  I have every right to speak to him, now tell these guards to let me speak to my client.”

Chisa looked at her apologetically as she replied gently “Believe me, Director Kirigiri, I sympathize with you, but I have no authority to disobey Munakata’s orders.  You’ll have to take it up with him or Chairman Tengan.”

And if Tengan signed onto this, then there’s no chance in hell I’ll get my way…

“I promise, Naegi’s in good hands.  And I know you; you’re more than ready for his trial.”

That was before he was beaten up in front of the other directors…  Realizing that Chisa wasn’t going to budge, Kyoko sighed and told her colleague curtly “Inform Vice-Chairman Munakata that I will be lodging a formal complaint once this trial is concluded.  Goodbye.”

Chisa sighed in exasperation as Kyoko walked away and pulled out her phone, tapping furiously with her thumb as she relayed a message to the only confidant that was still on her side.

The door to the girls’ room slammed open as Hina rushed inside, exclaiming “I got here as soon as I could.  So, how’d it go?  What did Makoto say?”

Kyoko looked down as she admitted “…I didn’t get to speak to him.”  Seeing Hina’s widened eyes, she explained “Apparently Tengan approved a request from Munakata to forbid me or anyone in my division from having contact with him before they reconvene his trial.  I’m guessing you’d receive an equivalent response if you tried to talk to him.”

Outraged, Hina exclaimed “We can’t even see him?!  That’s ridiculous!”

Kyoko sighed and lamented “It’s a sign of how little they trust us.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m suspected of working in collusion with Makoto to hide the Remnants.”  Which honestly isn’t that far from the truth…

“Sure, but still…”

Kyoko looked apologetically at her friend and informed her “I’m sorry.  You’ll be treated as a co-conspirator too at this rate.”

Hina smiled wryly as she mused “As long as we’re in this boat together, I guess.”

Kyoko turned her head to the side as she mused “It’s natural for me to come under scrutiny.  I’m his boss.  It’s just part of the bargain.”  She tuned her head to look at the former swimmer and warned “But I see no point for you to stick your neck out.”

“Don’t even start with that!”  Hina exclaimed forcefully as she clenched her fists.  “We’re in different branches, sure, but I can still help!”

After a moment of silent staring, Kyoko shrugged “Some things never change, huh?”

“C’mon, Kyoko!  This is what friends do!  And besides, we’ve been through worse, right?!”

Kyoko couldn’t help but smile at her enthusiasm, grateful to have Aoi Asahina by her side.

“Wow, they really had it out for your dad, huh Kiki?”  Tsumugi commented as they finished reading that section of the diary.

“Yeah, they wouldn’t even let Mom see him!”  Kiki sighed as she muttered “There’s no way that’s fair…she said it herself, she was Dad’s lawyer!  How to you deny a defendant his lawyer?!”

“It certainly seems like they wanted to stack things as much against him as possible without making it a technically unfair trial…at least that Yukizome woman was gentler.”

“Yeah, I just wish she had stood up to Munakata and let Mom talk to Dad.”  Kiki lamented.

“Yeah, me too, but it’s all in the past, right?”  Tsumugi pointed out “Your dad’s okay, so obviously this trial must have ended favorably for your parents.”

“…Yeah, I guess…let’s keep reading.  Maybe we’ll find out more about how Mom and Dad got out of this mess.”

Tsumugi nodded as Kiki turned the page and continued reading.

“I had just opened my eyes and saw Chisa Yukizome come back into the meeting room with a bucket of medical supplies in hand.  She sat down across from me and…”

Chisa reached into the bucket and pulled out a pair of tweezers, a cotton pall, and a bottle of antiseptic.

“We should probably disinfect where you were bleeding earlier, just to be safe.”  Chisa suggested as she placed them on the table next to them.  Makoto eyed the cotton ball hesitantly as Chisa uncapped the antiseptic and picked up the fluffy item with the tweezers.  After she poured a few drops of antiseptic on it, she held it towards Makoto’s face.

The young man leaned away reflexively as she told him “This’ll sting a teensy bit.”

Makoto grunted, causing Chisa to roll her eyes in amusement as he put on a fake smile and lied “No big.  Hardly felt a thing.”

“You’re such a boy.”  Chisa giggled as she removed the cotton ball from his skin and placed the tweezers back on the table.

“So…are you some kinda doctor, or what?  Makoto asked in a bid to make small talk.”

“I used to be a teacher, once upon a time.”

Oh, that’s right; there was a teacher named Chisa Yukizome at Hope’s Peak before the Tragedy!  Makoto realized as one of his memory fragments pieced themselves together.  I guess I never put two-and-two together before; I haven’t really seen her much except in passing…

“Heh, seems like another life.”  She muttered wistfully as she recalled her days teaching Class 77th.  “I taught the people you protected.”  As Makoto gasped in shock, she asked “So did you know who you were putting yourself out there for, or was their reputation a mystery to you?”  She turned to look at him as she told him “You had to have known what they’d done.”

Makoto clenched his knees with his hands as he admitted “I’m not entirely sure.  But…I mean…”  Makoto’s eyes hardened as he argued “They didn’t come into the world the way they are.  They had hopes, dreams they must’ve talked about with their friends.”

Chisa smiled at Makoto’s passion as she mused “Hopes, huh?  I’m beginning to see where your nickname comes from.”

Makoto’s cheeks flushed pink as he held his hands up and stammered “I, uh…didn’t pick it out for myself, believe me!”  There are times I wish Kyoko hadn’t given me that title during that last class trial…

Chisa averted her eyes and mused “You and Munakata.  He’s the Future Foundation’s hope.”

“I know.”  The now composed Makoto replied seriously.

“I don’t think the way you look at things is necessarily wrong, but some crimes are just too serious.”

“And which ones would those be, I wonder.”  Makoto softly replied as he pondered And are they really responsible when they’ve been brainwashed to do them?

He looked up at Chisa, who now stood up with her back turned as she admonished gently “Don’t be naïve.  You can’t kill the Remnants of Despair with kindness.  The Foundation needs men like Munakata.  Men who can do what has to be done.”

“You may be right.”  Makoto reluctantly admitted as he wondered But is killing Class 77 really what needs to be done?

“Hey.”  Chisa spoke as she turned around, causing Makoto to stare up curiously at her. 

She smiled as she leaned down until their noses were only a couple inches apart.

“What if two hopes could set aside their differences and meet in the middle?  Think seeing ‘em work together would inspire an even better hope?”

“Well…”  Believe me, I’d love it if we could cooperate, but Munakata and the others seem more insistent on punishing me than even hearing me out…

“Look, I realize he comes off a little cold.”  Chisa defended her friend.  “But give him a chance.  He’s a good person.  It’d mean a lot to me if you could see his side.”

Makoto looked down, thinking It’s not that I don’t see his side, but will he see mine…?

“Well, just some food for thought.”  Chisa pulled some ice packs out of the bucket and handed them to him, instructing “Here, put those against your bruises.  That should help with the pain in case the advil isn’t a hundred percent effective.”

Makoto smiled and nodded as he took them and slid one under his shirt, sighing in relief as the cool sensation eased his aching abdomen.

“I think this Yukizome had a major crush on Munakata.”  Tsumugi commented as Kiki nodded in agreement.

“Yeah, you could tell by how insistent she was about his good character.  She was painting him in the best light possible.”

“Plus she was calling your dad naïve and asking him to compromise when they should have been compromising.  That’s totally do as I say, not do as I do!”

“Well, I suppose any bureaucracy is going to be laced with hypocrisy at some point.”  Kiki sighed.  “Still, I don’t doubt her sincerity, and maybe I’m biased towards my father, but I honestly think she’s the naïve one in this case.”

“If only he’d had you as his lawyer!”  Tsumugi teased “I’m sure that would have been quite the turnabout trial!”

“Yeah right!”  Kiki giggled.  “There’s no way I could do better than Mom!”  She sighed and lamented “We should…continue reading…”

As Tsumugi nodded in agreement, Kiki turned the page and continued narrating from the diary.

“I stepped out of the bathroom into the hallway and saw a nervous young man who…”

“What’s the matter?”  Kyoko asked as she approached the blond-haired boy, who turned around nervously with a look of surprise and anxiety on his face.

“Um…nothing.”  He stammered as he fidgeted with his hands.  “I’m here for the big meeting with Chairman Tengan.  Don’t wanna just barge in.”

This guy could give Toko’s nervousness a run for its money…  Kyoko thought before her eyes flashed in realization.  “Excuse me, aren’t you…?”

Still nervous, he smiled softly and confirmed “Yes, Ryota Mitarai, and you’re…?”  A sizable rumbling cut off Kyoko’s answer as Ryota gasped in fear, exclaiming “What’s happening?”

“I don’t know, but I’m going to find out.”

Kyoko’s eyes narrowed as she ran off, Ryota exclaiming as she ran after her “Hey, don’t leave me alone!”

Kyoko ignored him, dashing as fast as her feet could carry her.

That rumbling could only mean one thing…we’re under attack…that means all of us are in danger, including Makoto!

“Even when they’re all under attack, your mom’s first thought is still your dad’s safety.”  Tsumugi observed as Kiki smiled knowingly.

“Yeah, even though they were dancing around each other for the second time, Mom still loved Dad above all else.”  She sighed wistfully as she flashed back to her younger years, muttering “And they’re damn good parents.”

“Yeah, they really are.”  Tsumugi agreed.  “Though I am wondering what your dad was doing when this went down.”

“I think he’s about to tell us…”  Kiki stated as she turned the page.  “I was still in the meeting room with Yukizome when the building rattled from the attack.  She stood up and…”

“Come on!”  Chisa exclaimed as the surprised Makoto stood up.  “We’ve gotta rendezvous with the other directors!  They should be on their way back to the central conference room!”

“Right, coming!”  Makoto nervously agreed as he ran behind Chisa, struggling to keep up with the more athletic director.

What’s going on?

“What’s going on?!”  Chisa exclaimed as she and Makoto walked into the conference room.

“We’re under attack.”  Kyosuke stated calmly, as if this were just business.  “Reports are just coming in now.”   He then turned to Daisaku, who was frantically tapping on his tablet, and demanded “Specifics, Bandai.  What’s the damage like?”

“Just a sec. Uh…”  He stammered in a nervous, squeaky voice.

“Oh Kami!”  Chisa exclaimed as several video feeds appeared on the giant conference monitor, showing debris and rubble blocking several exits.

“The front entrance is buried under rubble.”  The Great Gozu observed.

“Not just the front entrance, guys.”  Daisaku exclaimed.  “The rear entrance, the emergency exits, elevators on all floors, every possible way out of this building has been obliterated!”

“I told you something like this would happen!  You all swore no one knew about this place!”  Ruruka exclaimed angrily.

“Clearly the enemy has the inside track.”  Seiko Kimura retorted dryly.

As Ruruka glared at Seiko and growled, Juzo turned his anger on Makoto and accused “You led them here, didn’t you?”

Chisa and Makoto turned to Juzo in shock at the accusation while Kyosuke impressively kept his cool and stated “That’s not confirmed.”  Makoto’s relief was short-lived however as the vice-chairman decided “Even so, it’s best if we hold him down.”

“Done.”  Juzo growled in satisfaction as he forced Makoto onto his knees with his bare hands, causing Makoto to grunt in pain as considerable pressure was exerted on his still fresh bruises.

“Easy, Sakakura!”  Chisa admonished.  “Don’t be so rough!”


Juzo glared at his colleague before Kyosuke broke the tension, placing his hand on Chisa’s shoulder as he stated “Stay calm.  Listen to me, contact HQ for help.”  He then turned to address the others as he ordered “No one leaves this room.  We’ll wait for security.”

As Chisa ran to the side, the doors burst open, revealing a panicked Hina who cried out “They’re all dead!  The guards!  They’ve all been killed!  They’re in the…bathroom!”

Kyosuke glanced at Hina, acknowledging her outburst by furrowing his brow in surprise.

“Comms are down too!”  Chisa interjected “I can’t reach the outside!”

“That is…not a good sign.”  Kazuo deadpanned.

“Um, Chairman?  Sir?” 

Kazuo turned his head towards the new voice and saw Ryota enter the room with Kyoko close behind.

“Sorry.  I’m rather late.”

“Wait, Mitarai?  You’re here?”  Kazuo asked in surprise, causing the former animator’s eyes to widen in shock.

Ignoring her urge to order Juzo off Makoto, Kyoko knelt down next to her employee and asked “What’s the situation?”

“It’s the exits.”  Makoto answered.  “Apparently they’ve all been blown up.”

“So we’re basically trapped…”  Kyoko mused as she held her hand to her chin in contemplation.

“Kyoko, what do we do?!”  Hina begged, hoping that the former detective would have some master plan for getting them out of there.

“Nobody panic.”  The Great Gozu assured them.  “This room is full of Future Foundation leadership, the best of the best!”

Then why couldn’t we see this coming?!  Makoto and Kyoko deadpanned as the division leader continued to assure them.

“Whoever’s behind this, we can hand…”

A gentle clattering interrupted his pep talk as he glanced down.  His eyes widened behind his mask as a small metal ball settled at his feet, half white, half black with a jagged red eye and evil grin.

Hina gasped in fear as Juzo breathed “What the…”

At that moment, the ball emitted a heavy cloud of white gas, causing everyone to cough as they inhaled it.

“S…Sleeping gas?”  Seiko exclaimed.  “Dear Kami, it’s so potent.”

One by one, the Future Foundation leaders dropped like flies, helpless against the sleeping grenade.

No…not again…  Makoto and Kyoko thought, briefly flashing back to when they had been knocked out by Mukuro after witnessing Headmaster Kirigiri’s death. 

Their shared memory lasted only a second however, as their consciousness quickly faded, knocking them out and leaving them to awaken in yet another nightmare.

Makoto groaned as his eyes fluttered open, his hazy vision adjusting as the dark floor made itself known.  The former luckster forced himself to his knees as his drowsiness dissipated, finally vanishing when his eyes widened in shock at a black bracelet wrapped around his left wrist.

He gasped and muttered “What is this?”

Makoto weakly stood up, looking around at the other victims who were just getting on their feet.

“Ugh.”  Daisaku groaned.  “Divorce papers from an imp.”

Makoto’s eyes settled on Kyoko, who was just starting to get up, causing him to think in relief Good, she’s okay! 

Suddenly, a light beeping similar to a digital notification echoed from his bracelet, causing him to look down at hit and tap his thumb against it.  The moment his skin made contact, the numbers 01 59 25 appeared in bright red font.

“A timer?  For what?”  Makoto wondered in morbid curiosity.

“Nyohohohohoho!”  Makoto gasped as the cackle of nightmares echoed in the room, followed by a taunting “Long time no see, kiddos!  Nyohohohohoho!”

“…That laugh!”  Hina gasped as she too knew who it belonged to.

Kyoko’s eyes narrowed in a hateful glare as everyone stared at the screen, the disembodied voice taunting “As long as despair keeps the home fires lit…wassup?!”

At that moment, the screen turned on, displaying the familiar sight of the Hope’s Peak Gymnasium’s podium.  The familiar sight of black and white bear leapt onto the podium, confirming the survivors’ suspicions.

Monokuma had returned, exclaiming “Your buddy Monokuma will always come waving back!”

Makoto trembled in shock, exclaiming in his confused mind How?!  Junko Enoshima is dead!

“…Who are you supposed to be?”  Juzo spat after a minute of shocked silence from the others.

“Let’s get to it.”  Monokuma coughed, ignoring Juzo’s demand before he continued “People of the Future Foundation, I’m a big fan of how you’re trying to save the world.  No, really.  Bang up job, I mean it.”

I doubt that!  Makoto and Kyoko deadpanned as Monokuma continued his virtual speech.

“Thanks to you guys, the Remnants of Despair have been on a losing streak of colossal proportions.  We’re practically on the verge of total annihilation!”  Makoto grit his teeth, watching Monokuma taunt them as he continued “But hey, I’m not one to bear a grudge.  In fact, I’m here to thank you.”

I don’t think we want his kind of thanks…  Makoto thought, positive that Kyoko and Hina had the exact same thoughts that he did.

Whatever he’s planning, it can’t be good.  Kyoko deduced before being proven right by Monokuma’s next sentence.

“By having you all kill each other!  Nyohohohoho!”

The whole room gasped, everyone feeling chills travel down their spines as they took in Monokuma’s mortal sentence.

“Nyohohohohoho!  No worries!  We’ll treat it like a game!  You millennials are super into that kinda stuff, aren’tcha?”

“Killing each other?!”  Ruruka exclaimed as she hid behind Sonosuke.

“Hey, what can I say?  History repeats itself.”  Monokuma shrugged in amusement before taunting “But Mister Monokuma, sir!  We don’t wanna play the killing people game.  Tough titty!  That’s how it works!”


Makoto dredged up all his courage as he openly defied the former headmaster, glaring at the murderous mascot as he clenched his left fist with hatred.

“We’re not gonna play and there’s not a damn thing you can do to make us!  We’re allies!  We’re not gonna kill each other off!”  Makoto grit his teeth as he denied “No.  Never again.”

“Where’s Yukizome?”  Kyosuke’s confused and slightly frantic question startled Makoto out of his anger as he turned around to face the others and demanded “Did anyone see her?!”

*Drip Drop*

The dripping sound caused even the usually calm Kyosuke Munakata to gasp in surprise as his eyes wandered to a dingle spot on the cracked table.  Everyone stared in shock as blood dripped down from the ceiling.

No…Please no…  Makoto pleaded in his mind, gasping as he looked up with dread at the chandelier.

“Oh shoot, that’s right.”  Monokuma gasped in faux surprise as everyone’s eyes focused on the familiar ponytail that hung just above the chandelier.  “I shoulda said earlier.  But, um, yeah…”  Everyone’s eyes stared in horror at the sight of Chisa Yukizome’s corpse draped limply over the chandelier as Monokuma exclaimed “THE GAME’S ALREADY STARTED!”

Yukizome-san…she’s…dead…  Makoto exclaimed in his mind, unable to look away from the blood staining her entire body, tears staining her permanently horrified face.

As if on cue, the chain holding up the chandelier snapped, causing it and Chisa’s corpse to fall to the table.  The glass of the chandelier shattered into shards as Kyosuke watched in horror and barely contained grief.  In the most expressive show of emotion he had shown since Makoto had arrived, Kyosuke bowed his head and grit his teeth in anguish as Monokuma laughed at his grief.

“Nyohohohoho!  Look alive, Makoto!” 

Makoto’s eyes narrowed in anger and hatred as he turned to face the screen.

“’Cause ready or not, son, we’re about to start a killin’ game that’ll determine the fate of all humanity!”  Makoto grit his teeth as Monokuma announced “The big daddy, high-noon showdown ‘tween hope and despair!  Think I’m exaggerating?  Shows what you know, buckaroo!  Gird your loins!  The final battle is nigh!”

Makoto shook with anger, determined more than ever to make sure that Monokuma, and the mastermind that was controlling him, would go down without losing anyone else.

“Every story has an end.  This’ll be ours!”

Damn right, Monokuma!  I swear, I won’t let things turn out like you want!  We’re all gonna get out of here alive, I promise you that!

“…So that’s what they meant…”  Kiki muttered as she replaced the bookmark and closed the diary.  “The most consequential trial of their lives wasn’t an actual trial…it wasn’t my dad being tried for treason…it was having to survive a Final Killing Game!”

“Oh wow!”  Tsumugi breathed.  “I never realized that your parents had to survive another nightmare like that!”

“Yeah, no joke.  And to think, Yukizome’s death was just the beginning…”  Kiki sighed and told her friend “Anyway, I think I’ve had enough reading for now.  Besides, it’s late, and I need to get up for class tomorrow.”

“Yeah, probably a…good idea…”  Tsumugi yawned before she stood up.  “Well, I’ll see you in class tomorrow.  Good night, Kiki.”

“Good night, Tsumugi.”  Kiki returned, hugging her friend once before she walked out the door.

With a fatigued yawn, Kiki curled under the covers and closed her eyes, falling into a somewhat restless sleep.

Chapter Text

“So Kiki…”  Tsumugi asked as they sat on Kiki’s bed.  “Did you ever ask your dad about why he honored Sakakura after he beat him up so much?”

“I did, and…”

*Knock Knock*

“Come in!”  Makoto looked up and smiled as his daughter walked into his office before he greeted “Ah, Kiki, it’s good to see you.”  As she closed the door, he guessed “I’m assuming you have questions about the diary we gave you?”

Kiki nodded as she sat down at the chair across from his desk and confirmed “I just finished up to Yukizome’s death last night.”

Makoto nodded grimly, recalling the horror he felt when he and the others saw Chisa’s corpse.

He shook the thought away and asked “So, what did you want to ask me about what you read so far?”

“Well…it’s about Sakakura…”  Makoto raised an eyebrow in surprise as his daughter asked “Why did you name one of the facilities after him?  He was among the first to accuse you of treason, of betraying the Future Foundation.  He beat you to a pulp, Dad, before you could even testify about what happened.  So why…why would you honor someone like that?”

To her surprise, Makoto merely chuckled, shaking his head as he mused “And here I thought it would involve something much more traumatic.”  He sighed and explained to her with a smile “Kiki, you’ll understand why I honored his memory once you get further in the book.  For now, just know that he did redeem himself for his…roughness.”

“…Okay Dad…Headmaster…”

Makoto chuckled “It’s okay, you can still call me Dad in these walls.  Headmaster or no, I am still your father.”


“Alright, that’s the bell.  You should go get to class, young lady.”

“Right.”  Kiki nodded as she stood up and told him “See you later, Dad.”

Makoto smiled as she took off and closed the door, leaving him alone with his paperwork.

“Ah, so if we read more, we’ll get to see what Sakakura did to make him worthy of being remembered in your father’s eyes?”  Kiki nodded, causing Tsumugi to exclaim “Well, let’s keep reading then.”

“Alright, alright…”  Kiki giggled as she opened the book and began to read.  “We were all still reeling from the revelation of Chisa Yukizome’s death when…”

“Alright, guess I’d better explain the rules of this killing game, so listen up!” Monokuma’s voice echoed in their ears as the screen turned black before the words “MONOKUMA HUNTER INSERT COIN” appeared in big white text. 

It then turned to a white screen showing pixelated avatars of the game’s unwilling participants.

“Rule Number One: The all-important time limit.”  An image of their metal bracelets appeared on the screen as Monokuma explained “When the clock runs out on those nifty li’l arm bangles, boys and girls, each one of you will be injected with a powerful dose of Good Night Irene.”

I see…so we only have limited time windows to act during each phase…  Kyoko realized.

“Rule Number Two: The Attacker.  While everyone else is catchin’ dem z’s, he or she will be wide-awake and ready to stir things up.  Once on the prowl, the Attacker will be given an interval good for killing exactly one person.”

So, Monokuma just told us that there’s a traitor in our midst…just like Mukuro Ikusaba was…  Kyoko thought as she watched the animation of a blackened killing Chisa’s avatar.

“Yep.  ‘Cause if you haven’t figured it out yet, there’s a traitor.”  Monokuma confirmed Kyoko’s suspicion.  “And if you want the Future Foundation to have a future, you’re gonna have ta do somethin’ about it!  Heck, why not gang up on someone you don’t like and pray they’re the Attacker?”

Kyoko narrowed her eyes as she saw the other avatars gang up on Makoto’s avatar, realizing Monokuma just cashed in on the prior circumstances by giving everyone else a reason to pin the blame on Makoto…

“If nap time comes and goes and by some miracle no one’s been killed, you win the game!”

Kyoko narrowed her eyes as she watched the other avatars cheer in victory before the screen changed to darkness and Monokuma appeared once more.

“Rule Number Three: Forbidden Actions.  Take another look at those bangles.  Trust me on this, you’ll be glad ya did.  Note that each of you has a specific thing you’re not allowed to do at any time.  Performing said thing will trigger a lethal injection of poison faster than you can say I can’t even.  For example, let’s pretend I’m forbidden to laugh.  Nyohohohohooo! Ai-chi-wawa!”

The others watched ass a jingle echoed from Monokuma’s bangle, causing him to howl in pain as his body turned purple and he exploded.  Only his head remained functional as it landed with a resounding clash.

I see…this limits what we can do during the time limits…  Kyoko realized, musing I should probably look at mine so I don’t walk into any traps early in the game…

“So we all clear on the rules?  Good.  Oh, and uh, don’t get cute and try to rip those bangles off.  That’s another surefire way of getting’ yourself poisoned.  Have fun!  Mind those forbidden Actions and suss out the Attacker before you all die one by one!”

In other words, the bangles are required if we want to have any hope to survive.  An instrument of death masquerading as a key to life…  She mused.

“Wh…what is he even talking about?”  Hina stammered in nervous fear.

Now would be a good time to check my forbidden action…  Kyoko thought as she raised her wrist to her eyes and tapped her thumb against the bangle.  Wha…this…this is…  Kyoko couldn’t prevent her eyes from widening in shock at the red text on the bangle as she gasped My forbidden action…it’s…

“Silly me.”

Monokuma’s voice diverted her attention as she and the others stared at the screen, now showing a rebuilt Monokuma.

“Something else I forgot to mention.  The festivities are being recorded for broadcast to an adoring public the world over.  That’s right.  You meat-bags are a hot-ticket item.  Oh.  Beg your pardon, did I say meat-bags?”  The screen turned black, showing Monokuma’s jagged red eye as his voice echoed “I meant survivors.”  The screen faded to a close-up of his face as he continued “Brilliant and talented survivors.”

“So it’s exactly like last time.”  Makoto growled before a slight beeping diverted their attention.

Miaya Gekkogahara rolled towards the screen, which had now changed to a full view of Monokuma again, as she typed furiously on her keyboard.

An avatar of an angry white rabbit appeared on her own monitor as it growled “I demand to know who’s pulling your strings, puppet!”

This can’t end well…  Kyoko thought Considering how well Usami’s confrontation with Monokuma went in the Neo World Program, I can only see a repeat of history.

“Who the heck is that?”  A confused Hina asked, causing Kyoko to turn to her friend in surprise.  “You don’t know?  She’s one of the top developers for the Neo World Program.”

“Wait…you mean that’s Miss Gekkogahara?”  Hina exclaimed “The girl so painfully shy she only ever talks to people through her avatar?” causing Kyoko to nod.

“Uh, ma’am?”  Makoto softly interjected “I really wouldn’t…”

“I will not sit back and allow the Future Foundation to be hacked by the likes of you!”  Usami announced as she twirled in place.

As the others stared with befuddlement at Usami, Monokuma finally roused and wondered “Hm?  Somebody talkin’?  don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure.  Oh, honey.  We gotta do somethin’ about that getup.  Ta-dah!”

Usami yelped as Monokuma disappeared from his screen and snuck up behind her. 

“What’s going on?”  Usami shrieked as the two began to tussle.  “My protocols are being overridden!   How is this possible?!”

“Can it, cutie pie!  Stop whining and do as big brother says!”

“Are you trying to suggest we’re related?”

Yep…this is just gonna be a rehash of Jabberwock Island… Makoto and Kyoko thought as they watched the brawl play out.

As they predicted, Usami was defeated, changed into a half pink, half white rabbit in a diaper.

He turned her into Monomi again…  They deadpanned as Monokuma wiped the sweat off his forehead

“There we are!”  He exclaimed as he got on one knee and gestured to Monomi.  “Now you’ve got style!”

“I…I look awful!”

“Right…”  Monokuma replied as he left Miaya’s screen and climbed back up into his own.  “So try not to embarrass the Future Foundation, and best o’ luck!”  Everyone turned to face Monokuma as he said “I’ll be keepin’ an eye on ya the whole time.  Nyohohohoho!  Buh-bye now!”

With that, the screen finally faded to Monokuma’s red eye before Juzo kicked it in frustration.

“Screw you!  Damn son of a…”

A quiet beeping sound interrupted Juzo’s cussing as Monomi begged “C…can s…s…someone turn me back to how I was, please?”

The others ignored her cries as the Great Gozu wondered “Who’s behind this?”

“’S like a banquet for a small fry.”  Daisaku mused

Ryota and Kazuo hummed in disappointment before Seiko glared and growled “The Remnants of Despair will pay for this.  Mark my words.”

Koichi Kizakura tipped his fedora and remarked “Dear of dear.  Well this is a fine mess we’re in.”

Thanks for stating the obvious, Kizakura.  Kyoko deadpanned as Ruruka turned to feed Sonosuke a candy.

“Stop.  Maybe later.”  He rebuffed before Makoto interjected.

“Hey, look.  This is Monokuma’s MO.  He wants to tear us apart.”  Kyosuke stared suspiciously at the former luckster as he pleaded “We have to work together.”

To Makoto and Kyoko’s surprise, Kyosuke replied “I couldn’t agree more.”  While Juzo glared at Makoto over his shoulder and Kyoko glared suspiciously at Kyosuke, the vice-chairman continued “The Future Foundation will persevere.  We will face the enemy as one.  Undivided.”

Why do I have the feeling that you and Makoto’s ideas of cooperation are completely different?  Kyoko thought suspiciously as a tense silence covered the room.

“So it wasn’t the kind of class trial killing games like we learned about in middle school, but something else entirely…”

Kiki nodded and agreed “Yeah, though no less deadly, unfortunately…timers, bangles that inject sedatives and poison, forbidden actions…”

“Ah, that reminds me…”  Tsumugi wondered “What was your mother’s forbidden action anyway?  It had to be something really bad to make someone as composed as her react with shock and horror.”

“I don’t know, Tsumugi, but I have a feeling we’ll find out further in the book.”  Though knowing my mom, it probably had something to do with my dad…

“Well, I guess we’ll find out if we keep reading.  Hopefully they were able to keep that fragile peace of cooperation.”

I doubt it, but let’s hope so…  Kiki nodded as she turned the page and read “After your father and Munakata agreed to work together, everyone spread out, unsure exactly of what to do.  As Gekkogahara typed furiously on her keyboard…”

“Oh nooo…”  Monomi depressingly groaned as Juzo and the Great Gozu inspected Chisa’s corpse, which had been moved from the chandelier.

“Why her?”  Juzo spat and stood up, questioning “Out of everyone here, why did she have to die?”

Juzo’s question went unanswered as the Great Gozu took off his jacket and reverently placed it over Chisa.  Seiko seemed ready to break down while Kyoko knelt in front of the door and rubbed the wood curiously.

This door…it…

“I can’t connect to the internet now!”  Monomi groaned, diverting Kyoko’s attention from her discovery.  “And my cell phone’s completely useless!  I might be able to get us back online, but it’s gonna take a while!”

“Wow, you think we’d have a better firewall here.”  Hina commented as she walked over to Miaya.  “No offense, I’m just sayin’.”

Steam erupted from Monomi’s ears as she exclaimed “For your information, we are more than prepared for an attack from outside!  I never dreamed we’d need to be on guard against an inside job!”

“An inside job?”  Hina wondered.  “So it’s true.”  She reluctantly voiced as she turned around to see all the participants staring suspiciously at each other.  “One of us standing in this room right now really is a traitor.”

“There’s no other viable explanation.”  Monomi reluctantly confirmed.

“Best I can tell, nobody’s stalking the hallways.”  Daisaku’s voice echoed from outside before the doors opened.  “All the elevators and windows have been sealed.”  He announced as he walked in and closed the doors.

“Just as I thought.  There’s no escaping.”  Kazuo concluded.

“That settles it.”  Juzo stood up and declared “We have to find out who the Attacker is and kill them.”

“Wait!”  Makoto stood up and objected “There’s no need to kill anyone.  Once we’ve learned their identity, we can just restrain them, right?”

“Gamblin’ with your Ultimate Luck there, big shot?”  Juzo spat “You’d just slip outta the ropes while we were all sleepin’.  Yeah, I don’t think so.”

I knew this would happen…  Kyoko thought as she narrowed her eyes at Juzo.

“Yes, well, apart from Naegi, the idea of confining any of us to this room would seem meaningless.”  Kazuo stated.

“C’mon, ‘fess up already!”  Juzo demanded as he stomped over to Makoto and grabbed him roughly by the shoulder.  His fist clenched around the lapel of Makoto’s jacket as the former boxer accused “You’re with the Remnants of Despair.  This has your stink all over it.”

Makoto forced himself to stay calm as he tried to reason “Calm down for a sec!  Please, you’ve gotta listen to me!”

“And why would I do that?”  Juzo denied.

Because we can’t have a fair deduction, or a fair trial, without hearing everyone out.  Kyoko deadpanned.

“Sorry, you’re not gonna weasel your way outta this one.  I’m not as easy to manipulate as Junko Enoshima.”

Enoshima was the manipulator, not Makoto.  Kyoko corrected in her mind, though Hina was unable to keep her thoughts to herself.

Gasping in horror, her eyes narrowed in anger as she clenched her fists and exclaimed “If you’re implying what I think you are, you’re an idiot!”

“What?!”  Juzo nearly bellowed as he walked towards Hina, causing her to flinch in fear before her eyes softened and she averted her gaze.

“The strawberry seed only shows its face three times.”  Daisaku warned “Whatever you’re about to do, please don’t.”

“I second that.”  Ryota reluctantly steeled his courage and approached Juzo, diverting his attention as the former animator pleaded “Violence is never the answer.  Plus, she’s a girl.”

I know you meant nothing misogynistic by that remark, Mitarai, but I’d try to find a different way to get your point across if I were you…  Kyoko mentally cautioned, relieved as Juzo grit his teeth and released Makoto.

Their relief was short-lived however as Juzo walked up to Ryota and grabbed him by the shoulder, grinning as he taunted “Hate to break it to you, Gandhi.  But when you’re knee-deep in a war zone, it’s anything goes.”

Ryota gasped in pain as Juzo kneed him in the stomach, though whatever shock the other participants felt was quickly eclipsed by the familiar, horrifying tone that echoed in the room.  Daisaku immediately clenched his heart and groaned as Juzo shoved Ryota, who was thankfully caught by Hina’s grip.

“Man the hell up.  This ain’t the place for diplomacy.”  Juzo lectured “If we could get by on feel-good platitudes, we’d be outta here by now!”

If Juzo had anything more to say, it was cut off by a shaking grip on his shoulder.  He turned his head, cvausing his eyes to widen as he saw Daisaku gritting his teeth.  The division leader’s left eye was bleeding as the left side of his face turned a sickly purple.  With one final yelp, he fell backwards and collapsed on his side.

“MOVE!”  Seiko yelled as she ran up to him, pushing Juzo aside as she took out a medicine bottle and ppured a green concoction down Daisaku’s open mouth.  But even after a few seconds, Daisaku didn’t move at all, causing Seiko to gasp in horror “It’s too late.  I couldn’t save him.”

As Seiko bowed her head and the Great Gozu rested his hand over his heart, everyone e3lse stared down in horror at Daisaku’s corpse.

“Ew.  What just happened?”  Ruruka wretched, wondering “Was he attacked?”

“Not attacked.”  Kyoko knelt down and grabbed Daisaku’s wrist, holding up his bangle for everyone to see as she informed them “It was this.  Witnessing violence by participants.”  So this is what happens to those who violate their forbidden actions…a poison so deadly even modern medicine can’t do as much as stall for time…

Juzo’s eyes widened in shock as the others lowered their gazes, absorbing what just happened.

“Juzo, what have you done?”  The Great Gozu scolded.

A moment of silence passed before the former boxer mused “Oh, I get it.  That’s gonna be how they pick us off.”

“E…Everyone, keep your heads!”  Monomi pleaded “We have the means to prevent this from happening again.  First, we need to consult the bangles and confirm our specific forbidden actions!”

There is no way I can possibly reveal my forbidden action…least of all with Makoto present…  Kyoko thought as she stole a glance at her employee.

Thankfully, she didn’t even need to object, as Ruruka did the job for her, exclaiming “If you think I’ll share my Achilles Heel with you people, you’re sorely mistaken!  Some of us clearly can’t be trusted!”

Seiko glanced away in regret as Kyoko stood up and remarked “Fair point.  That of course, and for all we know, revealing our forbidden action may just be someone’s forbidden action.”

Kyoko…is that your forbidden action?  Or…is it something else entirely…?  Makoto couldn’t help but wonder.

“Yes.  But even so…”  The Great Gozu trailed off as silence once again ruled the room, nobody sure how to proceed.

“We need to decide on a course of action.”  Munakata decided, breaking the silence and getting everyone’s attention.  “Evidently there’s no means of putting a stop to the game itself.  So we’ll find the attacker.  No doubt each of us has already picked out a favorite.  And since time is short, I say we put it to a vote.  Everyone, point to the person you believe to be responsible.”

In other words, you’re going to pin the blame on Makoto without a single second of investigation…  Kyoko deduced as she narrowed her eyes at her superior.

A few seconds passed where nobody raised their hands, too stunned to think, until Koichi pointed at Miaya, shocking Monomi.

“What?  W…W…Why would you suspect me?!”

Koichi shrugged “Meh.  Call it a hunch.”

Hina gasped as Juzo, Ruruka, and Sonosuke all pointed their fingers at Makoto, who impressively stood unflinching at the result.

I knew this would happen…  Kyoko mentally sighed.

Thankfully, unlike Sayaka’s trial, Hina instantly jumped to his defense , exclaiming “Whoa!  Now hold on a second!”

Everyone else ignored her cries as Kyosuke announced “It’s decided.  Makoto Naegi.”  Makoto narrowed his eyes as the vice-chairman demanded “What lines are you willing to cross to stand on the side of hope?  How badly do you want to see despair vanquished?  Show us.  Do the honorable thing and commit suicide.”

Makoto gasped, his eyes widening in fear as he absorbed Kyosuke’s demand.

Suicide…have you lost your mind, Munakata?  Kyoko thought as she narrowed her eyes at him.  Without even a pretense of investigation or trial…you want Makoto to kill himself?!

“Su…su…SUICIDE?!”  Kiki nearly shrieked as her hands began to shake with shock.

“It does seem pretty unfair.”  Tsumugi commented “At least in Chrono Trigger, your main character had the pretense of a trial.  Here they just condemned him without even trying to search for the truth.”

“Why…why did they hate my dad so much…?”  Kiki continued as her hands continued to shake.  “He’s done nothing but good since he woke up in the first killing game, and they have the gall to accuse him of starting something he already survived? It doesn’t make sense…!”

“Kiki, calm down.”  Tsumugi soothed as she held onto Kiki’s hands, urging “Take a depe breath, alright?”

Kiki nodded and took a deep breath, focusing on her best friend’s hands resting over her own.

“Sorry, Tsumugi, I’m okay now.”

“I understand why you were so upset…”  She nodded as she removed her hands “…but obviously he didn’t accept Munakata’s demand, or you wouldn’t be here.”

Kiki nodded and took a deep breath as she reluctantly decided “Let’s…let’s find out…”  She gently turned the page and continued “Everyone stared at your father with mixtures of surprise and expectation.  It was your Aunt Hina who broke the silence by exclaiming…”

“You expect Naegi to kill himself?  Just like that?  This is insane!  There's not enough evidence to point the finger at anyone!”

“I assume you have an alternative.”  Munakata argued “Or should we be content to wait for the Attacker’s next move?”

“Well, no, but…”

“Be fair!”  Ryota argued “What if he’s not the one responsible?”

“Then we keep voting.  Sooner or later we’ll get it right.  A desperate measure, perhaps, but effective nonetheless.  Good for weeding out traitors.”

You would condemn multiple innocent lives to essentially a lottery of life and death?!  Kyoko thought incredulously as she heard Kyosuke’s solution.

Thankfully, Kazuo finally agreed with her, objecting “Munakata, you can’t be serious!”

“Oh, I’m quite serious, sir.”  Kyosuke argued “The Remnants of Despair must be eliminated at any cost.”  He turned to Makoto, who narrowed his eyes as the vice-chairman continued “Naegi understands that.  Better than most, I’d wager.  When our backs are against the wall, cooperation is essential.”

It appears my reservations about your intentions to cooperate were well-founded…  Kyoko thought in disappointment.

“You agree, don’t you?”  Makoto gasped as Kyosuke narrowed his eyes and accused “Or maybe you’re torn.”

This is bad, I need to get him out of danger…  Kyoko thought as she glanced at Makoto’s shocked face, then to a fire extinguisher encased in glass  on the wall adjacent to her.  Wait…  She realized as the gears in her head began to turn.

“Y…you’re asking me to…?”  Makoto stammered before Juzo declared “If you won’t, then I will!”

Everyone’s eyes widened in shock as Juzo pulled out a Swiss Army Knife and charged at Makoto.

I have to act now, or Makoto will…what?

Kyoko suppressed her sigh of relief as Juzo’s charge was stopped by The Great Gozu’s hand wrapped around the blade. 

Juzo glared at his colleague as he declared “That’s enough!”

His eyes glowed red as he effortlessly bent the blade, causing it to break and shatter Juzo’s composure.

“Hope won’t come in the form of a comrade’s death!”

“A noble sentiment.”  Kyosuke stated with a slight taunt as he pulled out his own katana.  “But you seem to have conveniently forgotten countless comrades have already fallen at the hands of the enemy.  Unless we want their sacrifice to be meaningless, we have to fight fire with fire.”

NOW!  Kyoko thought as she pulled the glass door open and removed the fire extinguisher. 

She then aimed at the floor and squeezed the nozzle, causing a mist to cover the room, causing everyone to cough in surprise.  In his panic, Makoto glanced at Kyoko, causing his eyes to widen as he spotted the fire extinguisher in her hand.

No time, RUN, MAKOTO!  Kyoko thought as she shook her head.

Thankfully her escape plan was aided by Hina, who walked up to Makoto and urged “Let’s go.”

Juzo grit his teeth as he just barely spotted the two of them running away from the room.

No!  She thought as she saw Juzo try to run after them.  I’m a skilled martial artist, but I can’t stand up against…huh?

Juzo yelped as she saw Juzo being forced back, falling on his ass as Munakata walked in front of his stunned friend.

“Do not get in our way.”  He threatened as the Great Gozu revealed himself, getting into a battle stance and growling as his eyes glowed red.

Gozu…thank you…  Kyoko thought gratefully as Juzo growled and sat up.

“Guess someone’s itchin’ for a fight!”

Juzo didn’t even get the chance to get up however, as Miaya tased him from behind, causing him to collapse once more.

Makoto…be safe…  Kyoko prayed as she took cover, watching as the battle played out before her very eyes.

“Well…that certainly escalated.”  Tsumugi stated.

“Thanks for stating the obvious, Tsumugi.”  Kiki rolled her eyes as she sighed “I’m just glad Mom bought Dad the diversion he needed to escape.  I just hope she was able to escape too without too much trouble.”

“Well, it seems like it was mainly Sakakura and Munakata who instigated violence.”  Tsumugi pointed out.  “As long as they had their hands occupied by the other division leaders, I don’t think your mom would have had too much trouble slipping away.”  Kiki nodded, accepting that answer as Tsumugi asked “So, should we continue reading?”

Kiki shook her head and replaced the bookmark, deciding “No, I think I’ve had quite enough excitement for one night.  I need to head to bed and get some sleep.”

“Okay, guess we’ll pick up again tomorrow.”  Tsumugi agreed as she swung her legs over the bed and stood up.  “Well, I’ll see you tomorrow.  Sweet dreams, Kiki.”

“Yeah, sweet dreams, Tsumugi.”  Kiki returned as she smiled at her friend before Tsumugi turned around and walked out the door.

Kiki sighed and placed the diary on her bedside table before she crawled under the blankets.  With a heavy yawn, she closed her eyes and fell into a much more peaceful sleep.

Chapter Text

“Alright, let’s pick up where we left off.”  Tsumugi suggested once they settled on Kiki’s bed.  “Your dad was escaping with Coach Hina, correct?”  As Kiki nodded, the cosplayer suggested “Maybe the next page will show how he escaped.”

Kiki nodded and turned to the bookmark she had left the previous night before she turned to the next page.

“I had just left the conference room with your Aunt Hina and she was running down the hallway at top speed while I was walking slowly behind her.  She noticed I was far behind her and turned around, yelling…”

“C’mon!  We gotta get out of here!”  Hina cried as she jogged in place.

“Wait.”  Makoto requested with surprising calm as he walked towards her.  “They’ll rip each other apart.”

“If that’s what they wanna do, more power to ‘em!  They’re not gonna listen to reason!  Right now, we run!”

“Uh, it’s not that simple.”  Makoto held up his wrist and tapped the bangle, causing his forbidden action, Running in the Hallway, to appear in red font.  “Believe me, I would if I could.  But under the circumstances…”

“What…?!”  Hina groaned before she pumped her fists and exclaimed “Alright, if you can’t run, I’ll just have to run for us both!”

“Run for us both, what do you…HEY!”  Makoto yelped as Hina grabbed him under his knees and flipped him so he was now riding on her back.

“NO TIME!”  She argued as she dashed off, Makoto shaking back and forth from the half-secure grip around his legs.  “Normally this would be the other way around, but whatever!”


“Quit yelling, you’ll alert the others to our location!  I know you’d prefer Kyoko doing this instead of me, but…”

“Huh?”  Makoto blushed furiously as he denied “I don’t want Kyoko to…”

“You can deny your crush on her later, right now you have to stay quiet while we get some distance between Sakakura and Munakata!”

Makoto nodded as he wrapped his arms around Hina’s neck, letting them hang loosely as she continued to carry him far away from the chaos behind them.

“…No running in the hallway?”  Tsumugi sweatdropped as she noted “That’s such an elementary school kind of forbidden action.”

Kiki smiled as she agreed “Yeah, Dad’s always had a reputation as an innocent little boy.  Remember his embarrassing secret we learned about in middle school?  It was wetting the bed until 5th grade.”

“Ah, right, I forgot about that!”  Tsumugi exclaimed with a giggle.  “I’m surprised anyone could accuse someone as blatantly innocent and childlike as your dad of treason.”

“Yeah…I just wish the others could have seen that.”

Tsumugi nodded before changing the subject “I wonder how your mom fared in that chaos.”

“Well, it looks like the next section is from her perspective, so let’s find out.”  Kiki turned the page and read “Eventually the skirmish in the conference room moved into the hallway.  I had ducked behind a chair and stayed clear of the immediate danger until the other foundation leaders split up, leaving me alone with the carnage.  Once I was sure it was safe, I…”

Makoto.  Be safe.  Kyoko prayed before she heard a pair of soft footsteps approach from behind.

Narrowing her eyes, she felt to her left and wrapped her fingers around a nearby chunk of debris, only for a familiar, gentle hand to lay itself atop her own.  Kyoko gasped and turned her head to see Kazuo staring at her with a stern expression.

“Violence is not the answer.  The only thing it creates is despair.”

“Uh, excuse me, Chairman, what are you doing?”  Ryota interrogated as he crawled over to them.  “Isn’t this harassment?”

Kazuo smiled in amusement as he chuckled “Not remotely.”  He turned to Kyoko and assured her “My intentions are pure.  Please.  You’re safe.”

Kyoko stared into his eyes, then reluctantly nodded as she stood up. 

“I suppose there’s safety in numbers.”  She admitted as Kazuo smiled at her willingness to cooperate.

“So, ano…what do we do now, Mr. Chairman?  Director Kirigiri?”  Ryota asked.

“Hm…good question, Mitarai-kun.”  Kazuo replied as he and Ryota stood up.  “We can’t just stay here; we’ll be sitting ducks should we become targets.”

Kyoko nodded and told them “We should search for another room in the hallways, one we can barricade.  Perhaps along the way, we’ll find some new evidence that will allow us to end this game without further casualties.”  And prove Makoto’s innocence in the process…

“As expected of the Ultimate Detective.”  Tengan smiled and suggested “So, shall we get out of this place?”

Kyoko nodded and led their group, Kazuo and Ryota bringing up the rear as they left the conference room.

“Well, at least she’s with a group.”  Tsumugi commented in an attempt to be optimistic.

“Yes, but with an elderly man and an animator.  If only Mom had one of the more battle-ready directors on her side…”  Kiki sighed and admitted “I know she can take care of herself, I just wish there was someone there she could rely on.”  As Tsumugi nodded in understanding, Kiki noted “The next section is Dad’s; let’s see what happened to him.”

Tsumugi nodded as Kiki turned the page and continued to read.

“Your Aunt Hina continued to carry me on her back, circumventing my forbidden action.  We continued to flee until we came to a fork in the road, so to speak, and…”

“Ugh.  Look at it.”  Hina sighed as she came to a halt, observing the decrepit hallway.

“They used explosives to block off the entrances.”  Makoto observed as he hopped off Hina’s back.  “Step carefully.  Floor’s bound to be weak in spots.”  A sudden boom cut off their conversation, causing the two friends to turn frightfully as Makoto wondered “What was that?”


With a loud crash, the wall suddenly burst open, causing the Great Gozu to land in front of them, a large hammer in hand.  Makoto and Hina stared in shock at the division leader slumped against the opposite wall before a familiar, chilling voice echoed in their ears.

“There you are.”

Kyosuke walked through the opening, glaring at the former luckster.  Before either him or Hina could react, the Great Gozu stirred, tightening his grip around his hammer as he stood up.  Winding up his hammer in a stance similar to Makoto’s memories of watching Leon Kuwata play his baseball games, the Great Gozu swung at Kyosuke, who skillfully parried with his hammer.  Kyosuke soon went on the offensive, successfully pushing the Great Gozu back several feet and causing him to growl in rage.

“That does it!  You’ve gone too far, asshole!”  He nearly roared as he stood protectively in front of Makoto and Hina.  “I will not stoop to killing allies!  Period.  End of story.  I’d sooner lay down my life.  The Great Gozu knows the cost of doing right, and he’s willing to pay for it!”

Great Gozu…  Makoto thought in awe, touched by the division leader’s determination to defy Kyosuke.

“That’s how you combat despair?  Pathetic.”

“What did you say to m…?”

The Great Gozu’s retort was cut off as he parried another attack from Kyosuke’s katana, the vice-chairman lecturing “Why can’t you understand?  If just one of their number is left alive, the despairs crawl back like roaches!  Every single member must be eradicated once and for all.  Collateral damage in inevitable of course.  But such is my duty.  I swore an oath!  That, my friend, is the true cost of hope.”

Their philosophical battle was interrupted by a screeching sound that reminded Makoto of a skidding car.  He and Hina turned to their left as saw Miaya grinding her wheelchair to a halt.

“Th…there they are!”  Monomi cried.  “Our twelve o’clock!”

“Miss Gekkogahara?”  Hina wondered in surprise before she turned her head and saw a fire extinguisher lying on the floor.

Oh, she’s gonna try to obscure their vision like Kyoko did…  Makoto realized as he watched her walk over to it and pick it up.

Her eyes narrowed in determination, Hina walked next to Makoto and held up the extinguisher.  She squeezed the nozzle, but to her surprise and disappointment, nothing came out.

“Huh?!”  She panicked “You’re kidding me!  It does this now?”

Roaring in frustration, she raised it over her head and threw it right at Kyosuke’s head.  Forced to dodge out of the way, the vice-chairman left himself open to an attack from the Great Gozu’s hammer.  He parried, but the strength of the hammer drove Kyosuke back until his back was against the wall.

“Not a bad throw.”  The Great Gozu complimented as Kyosuke glared at him and tightened his grip on his katana.

With a roar that would put lions to shame, the Great Goku tossed his hammer aside before he leapt backwards.  He bodyslammed the floor, causing it to crumble beneath him, Miaya, Makoto, and Hina, who cried out in surprise.  By the time the dust cleared, Munakata was clinging to the other side of the still intact floor with one arm.

“Quickly, we have to run!”  The Great Gozu ordered.

“Naegi can’t!”  Hina explained “His forbidden action…”

“In that case…”  The Great Gozu hauled Makoto over his shoulder, causing him to yelp once more as the division leader urged “There, let’s go!”

As the two of them ran and Miaya rolled along with them, Kyosuke glared and leapt down before giving chase.  Hina hurriedly opened the door, before she and Miaya hurried through.  With a hardened battle cry, Kyosuke threw his Katana, though not before Makoto closed the door behind him and the Great Gozu.  They heard the sound of the katana lodge itself in the door, causing them to internally tense with panic.

“No time to relax.”  The Great Gozu instructed “We need to find a room and barricade ourselves before the time limit.”

The others nodded and they continued to run, or roll in Miaya’s case, searching for a room to hide.

“Wow…that was intense!”  Tsumugi sighed “Your dad almost became a shish kebob.”

“Yeah, though at least with the Great Gozu, he had someone who could actually stand up to Munakata and Sakakura.”

“Yeah, at least now one of your parents had someone they can lean on…speaking of which, does it say what your mom was up to with Tengan and Mitarai?”

“Let’s see…”  Kiki shook her head and denied “No, the next page is still from dad’s point of view, just a momentary time skip.”  She turned the page and continued “We continued running through the halls for Kami knows how long.  Strangely though, Munakata hadn’t been following us like he feared.  The Great Gozu stopped and realized…”

“He’s not following us.”

“Guess not.”  Hina agreed as Makoto turned his head to look at the two of them in surprise.

Wait…Munakata stopped following us the moment the door closed…could opening a door be his forbidden action…?

The Great Gozu interrupted Makoto’s thoughts, replying “Not now.  But you can be sure he’s got a plan.  For the moment, I suggest we get as far away as possible.”

Makoto tapped on his bangle and noted “Uh, guys, we’re almost at the time limit.”

“Right, then.”  The Great Gozu noted as they continued moving, searching for a room to hide in before the time ran out.

“Wow, you’re dad’s really smart!”  Tsumugi praised.  “He figured out Munakata’s forbidden action just from that!”

“Well, maybe; we don’t know for certain if that was his forbidden action.”  Kiki smiled with pride as she agreed “But yeah, Dad’s really intuitive.  Mom can outshine him if she really tries, since she had detective training, but Dad’s perfectly capable of thinking on her level.”  She turned the page and realized “Oh, looks like the next section is from Mom’s point of view.”

“Well what are you waiting for?  Start reading!”

“Alright, alright!”  Kiki giggled as she began “We had been searching for a room to stay in with little success.  Eventually I checked my bangle and…”

“…We’re running out of time.”  Kyoko sighed as she advised “We need to pick a room and barricade ourselves.”

“I agree.”  Kazuo nodded.  “Even if the sedative wasn’t a factor, I’m getting up there in years, so I get more easily tired these days.”

“Ano…what about that room?” 

Ryota pointed to a single door, causing Kyoko to nod and agree “We don’t have many options.  Let’s investigate the inside.”

As Kazuo nodded, she walked up to it and opened the door, revealing a largely empty room with only a round table, a chair, and a standing coatrack.

“I see…good work, Mitarai-kun.”  Kazuo complimented as he walked in and observed the room.  “We can use the table to barricade the door and lean the chair and coatrack as well.”

“…It’ll have to do.”  Kyoko sighed as she and Ryota walked in.  “Tengan, close the door and lean the coatrack.  Ryota, help me move the table.”

“Coming!”  Ryota replied as he hurried after the former detective.

After they circled the table ad gabbed the rim, Kyoko directed “On three…one, two, three.”

With some struggle, the two of them managed to lift it a few inches off the ground.  The two of them walked awkwardly towards the door as Kazuo walked out of their way.

“Alright, not tilt your grip so it’s on its side, okay?”

Ryota nodded as the duo tilted their grip on the table until it was leaning just against the door, barricading them from any potential attackers.

“I’ll go get the chair!”  Ryota volunteered as he ran over towards the strewn chair.  Once he picked it up by the back, he carried it over and leaned it up against the table, exclaiming “There!”

“Well, might as well make ourselves comfortable…”  Kyoko decided as she sat down in the alcove adjacent to the table, leaning next to the door.

Kazuo sat down in the alcove on the other side while Ryota sat against the far wall and closed his eyes.

Kyoko glanced at her bangle and tapped it once, allowing the time to appear as she thought Five minutes left…

“…You’re worried about Naegi-kun, aren’t you?”

Startled, Kyoko turned to see Kazuo smiling knowingly at her as he informed her “I can tell you care about him.”

“…He’s my employee; I’m responsible for his safety.”  She defended, though Kazuo’s smile informed her that he could see right through her lie.

Mercifully, he allowed her to keep her secrets, merely assuring “He’ll be fine.  He has Asahina-chan with him, so it’s not like he’s alone in this.  Besides, I’m sure we’ll reunite with him soon.  You could stand to hope a little more, Director Kirigiri.”

Hope…  Kyoko mused before the timer hit zero.

Kyoko felt a small spark of pain as she felt something prick her wrist.  Before long, she felt herself overcome with a sensation of drowsiness.  It wasn’t long before she felt her heavy eyelids shut as the room turned black around her.

…One down…

“One down…?”  Kiki furrowed her brow as she wondered “I wonder what Mom’s referring to…”

“I dunno, but it seems like even back then, your mom was obvious about her feelings for your dad!”  Tsumugi teased.

“Yeah, she always called Dad an open book, but she wasn’t exactly skilled at concealing her emotions either.  Everyone who saw them interact knew how much they loved each other, even if they didn’t know it themselves!”

Tsumugi and Kiki giggled before Tsumugi asked “What about your dad?  Did anything happen in the few minutes before he was sedated?”

“Let’s see…oh, here’s a section that he wrote!”  Kiki turned the page and continued “The Great Gozu found a room and opened the door.  Once we were all inside, he set me on my feet and closed the door.  While the rest of us got comfortable…”

While Miaya rested in her wheelchair, the Great Gozu leaned a cabinet against the door.  Hina stared at her bangle as she sat against the wall, watching the timer count down.  Eventually she let her arm fall as she looked down at her knees, depressed.

“You okay?”

Hina barely acknowledged Makoto’s worried voice as she glanced at him before she wondered “Why’s this happening to us, Naegi?  It’s just like last time.”  Memories of the Killing School Life flashed through Makoto’s mind as Hina muttered “They’re just…they’re gonna make us do it all again.  Murder each other till we trust no one.”

“It’s not like last time.”

“What are you talking about?  Of course it is.”

“I’m here.”  Hina gasped and looked up at Makoto’s reassuring, confident smile as he continued “And not just me.  Don’t forget Kirigiri.  We’re friends now.  Last time, we didn’t even know each other.  This time, different ballgame.  We have an idea of what to expect.  And we know that we’re not alone.”

“We do.  Absolutely!”  Hina agreed with a smile, her spirits instantly lifted.  “We’re a team right off the bat now.  That’s a big plus.”

Makoto chuckled “What’d I tell ya?  Not so bad when you put it into perspective.”

A hearty laugh caused them both to turn, seeing the Great Gozu standing in front of them as he commented “Oh, Naegi.  You’re exactly the man portrayed in the Hope’s Peak broadcast.”  He turned his head and mused “Incredible.  During the Killing School Life, you never gave in to despair.  Countless lives were changed because of that.  We need you.  Hope is the engine that drives our future.”

Hina smiled at her blushing friend as he denied “Uh, that’s kind of you to say, but a little overdone.”

“The Chairman was thrilled to have you.”  The Great Gozu continued as he walked up to Makoto.  He knelt down and revealed “Said with you on board, a new era was dawning.  The Future Foundation would be revolutionized!”

He clapped Makoto on the shoulder, causing him to slightly double over in pain from the force of the gesture.

“So spare me your slump-shouldered modesty.  People are rooting for you, jackass!”

“Yes, sir.”  Makoto groaned, deadpanning But does calling me a jackass really help with a pep talk?

A quiet beeping attracted their attention as Miaya rolled up to them and Monomi warned “Get ready, time’s almost up.”

“Good luck, comrades.  Nothing left but to pray.”  The Great Gozu told them sincerely as he held his hand over his heart.

Hina glanced at Makoto nervously and asked “Makoto, what are we gonna do?  I’m scared.  Something tells me this will only get worse.”

Makoto clenched his right fist before he turned to Hina with a reassuring smile and told her “We’re gonna be okay.”  E pointe dot himself with his thumb and reminded her “Ultimate Luck here!  Nothin’ to worry about!”  …I hope…  “’S long as we stick close, it’ll rub off on ya!”

Hina’s eyes started to water as she giggled “It isn’t fair.  Look at you.  I mean, how do you always stay so positive?”

A deeper jingle than the one from earlier played before Makoto felt a pricking sensation at his wrist.

“I appreciate it, Naegi.”  Hina muttered as her eyelids closed and she surrendered to slumber.

“Like I even did anything.”  Makoto replied sleepily as a wave of exhaustion overwhelmed him.  “Give yourself some credit, Asa…”

His encouragement went unfinished as his heavy eyelids closed and the room around him faded into darkness.

“Your dad really does have a way of lifting other people’s spirits.”  Tsumugi observed.

“Yeah, I know.”  Kiki giggled “Remember when he comforted Gonta after his bugs got out of control?”

“Oh yeah…that used to be one of the most traumatic times of my life!”

“Boy how perspectives change!”  Kiki giggled along with Tsumugi.

“Still, with how much he can make people smile, I’m surprised at how humble your dad is!”

“Well, dad grew up in a middle-class house with parents who made enough to live comfortably, but not much else.”  Kiki explained.  “It makes sense that he’d be humble if he grew up like that.”

“It seems like you’ve inherited that attitude, seeing as you seem to detest fame, even when you’ve earned it.”

Kiki playfully glared at Tsumugi and warned “I swear Shirogane, if you call me Princess even once…”

“I won’t, I won’t!”  Tsumugi assured her, sighing in relief when Kiki smiled teasingly at her.

“More seriously, I just don’t wanna get a swelled head.  If I let it go to my head, then I won’t be me anymore.”

Tsumugi nodded in understanding before she asked “So, who woke up first?  Your mom or your dad?”

“Let’s see…”  Kiki trailed off as she turned the page.  “Ah, I’m guessing it was Dad.  The next section is still from his perspective.”  She stared at the page and began to read “The interval between the time limits came and went.  I don’t remember how much time had passed, but before long…”

Makoto groaned as his eyes fluttered open.  Once the haze in his mind cleared, he raised his left hand to rub the remains of his drowsiness from his mind.  When he did so however, his eyes widened at the sight of some kind of red liquid staining his palm, fingers, and knuckles.

What?!  BLOOD?!

Now panicked Makoto stood up, looking around frantically before his eyes settled on a horrifying sight.  A knife had been lodged between Hina’s breasts, causing a pool of blood to flow from under her.

No, please, NO!  Hina…Hina…HINA’S DEAD?!  THIS CAN’T BE!  Makoto exclaimed to himself as he trembled with shock and horror.

“What…the…”  Kiki gasped as she shakily replaced the bookmark and closed the diary.  “Aunt Hina…”

“But how could that be?”  Tsumugi wondered.  “She obviously didn’t die, or else she wouldn’t be teaching.  Could she have received a 1-Up Mushroom?”  Seeing Kiki glare at her, Tsumugi apologized “Sorry, just trying to lighten the mood.”

Kiki sighed and apologized “No, I’m sory.  I know you just wanted to help.  I’m just…upset.  Aunt Hina was one of my constant babysitters before Maki…even if she and Aunt Komaru could get competitive…”

“Still…maybe the diary explains how she survived such an injury.”  Tsumugi suggested.

Kiki nodded and decided “Yes, but let’s save that for tomorrow.  I think I’ve had my fill for tonight.”

“Okay, I understand.”  Tsumugi accepted as she hugged her friend.

Kiki wrapped her arms around the cosplayer in return, squeezing her tightly before they released each other.

“Good night, Kiki.”  Tsumugi told her before she turned around.

“Good night, Tsumugi.”  Kiki returned as Tsumugi walked out the door and closed it behind her.

Once she placed the diary on her bedside, she crawled under the blankets, curling up as she closed her eyes and let slumber carry her into an uneasy sleep.

Chapter Text

The screech of a whistle roared in the students’ ears, causing them to turn to the source.

“Alright everyone, time to call it a day.”  Hina ordered.  “Go and change so you won’t be late for your next class.”

As the other students filed into the locker rooms, Hina noticed only Kiki had stayed behind, and asked “Hm?  Kiki, what is it?”

“…Auntie Hina…”

Smiling in surprise, Hina mused “I don’t think you’ve called me Auntie in years, not since your little brother was born.  What’s with the trip down memory…whoa!”

Hina’s eyes widened in surprise as she found herself wrapped in a hug by her honorary niece.

“Kiki, what is it?  Not that I don’t appreciate the hug, but…”

“…I’m just glad…you’re still here.  And…I want you to know…how much I appreciate having you in my life.”

“Kiki…”  Hina smiled and caressed her hair before she told the emotional girl “Alright, go and change for your next class.  Don’t want you to be late.”

Kiki released Hina and nodded with a smile before she turned around and jogged over to the locker rooms.  Once she had disappeared inside, Hina frowned in curiosity.

I wonder what made that girl act like that…

“Alright, Kiki, ready to continue?”

Kiki nodded as they both sat on the bed and she opened the book to the bookmark.  After she placed it on the bedside table, she cleared her throat and began to read.

“We had just woken up to the terrifying sight of your Aunt Hina’s body, apparently covered in blood with a knife stuck in her chest.  As soon as I found my voice…”

“Oh, Kami!  Hina!”  Makoto cried in anguish as he and Miaya stood around Hina’s corpse.

“No, no, no!  Tell me I’m still asleep and this is just a nightmare!”

No…this…this is real!  Makoto closed his eyes and bowed his head, holding back tears as he thought Hina is…huh?

Makoto opened his eyes in shock as Hina’s groans pierced his ears.  The seemingly deceased girl gradually sat up, yawning as the knife fell from her chest.  Makoto gasped in surprise as he saw the blade pop out.

A…retractable knife?

Makoto’s ponderings were interrupted by Hina’s cry of shock as she finally noticed the red substance on her chest, the pool of red behind her, and the knife that now lay on the floor to her right.

“Ah!  What’s going on?  Blood?”

“Oh, thank goodness!” Monomi cried.  “You’re not dead!  But you must be hurt!  Do you feel faint of light-headed?  Is there discomfort?  Quick, find something to stop the bleeding!”

During Monomi’s fretting, Makoto walked over to the still stunned Hina and knelt down.  He picked up the knife and brought it to his nose before he sniffed it.

“What the…?  Tomato sauce?”  He pushed the blade in and out easily with his finger, his eyes widening as his finger wasn’t even pricked.  “And a toy knife?”

At that moment, Hina looked up and gasped, her eyes widening in horrified shock.  Monomi looked in the direction of Hina’s eyes before screaming in horror.


The dripping sound caught Makoto’s attention, causing him to turn around before he too gasped in horror at the gruesome sight in front of them.  Suspended in the ceiling by large wires was the Great Gozu, covered in his own blood with a single cut on the right eye of his mask.

Great Gozu…he’s…dead…it wasn’t Hina that we lost…but the Great Gozu instead…NO!

“So…that explains it…”  Kiki stated sadly.  “Aunt Hina’s death was faked…and the attacker killed the Great Gozu instead.”

“And suspended him with those wires after doing who knows what to him!”  Tsumugi lamented.  “What a horrible way to go.”

“Yeah, and he fought so hard to protect Dad from Munakata and Sakakura…he deserved to live.”

Tsumugi nodded in agreement before Kiki sighed “We should…find out what happened next…”  She turned the page and continued “Once we recovered from the shock of the Great Gozu’s death, your Aunt Hina and I worked to untangle his corpse from the ceiling wires.  Once he was flat on his back…”

“That’s not tomato sauce, is it?”  Monomi asked dreadfully as they took note of the knife sticking out of the Great Gozu’s chest.

“The Attacker was able to get in here?”  Hina concluded sadly “So that could’ve been any of us.”

“It’s happening…again…how many times do we have to go through this?”

Makoto grit his teeth as he recalled the Great Gozu’s encouragement.

“Incredible.  During the Killing School Life, you never gave into despair.  Countless lives were changed because of that.  So spare me your slump shouldered modesty.  People are rooting for you, jackass!”

“I’m sorry.”  Makoto held back his tears as he closed his eyes and nearly cried.

Everyone stared sadly at the Great Gozu’s corpse, all thinking the same thing.

Great Gozu…you didn’t deserve to die.

“Wow, your dad was really put through the ringer during the Tragedy, huh?”  Tsumugi commented.  “Surviving one killing game and saving Junko Enoshima’s brainwashed victims, only to be tried for treason and thrust into another.”

Kiki nodded seriously and agreed “Yeah…Dad went through more as a teenager than most people do their entire lives.  I’m starting to understand why he and Mom held off on telling me this story for so long…”

“Ah, speaking of your mom, I wonder what she woke up to?”

“Well, if we’re to take Monokuma at his word, probably better than what Dad woke up to.”

“Oh, that’s right, Monokuma said the attacker could only kill one person between time limits.  So that means your mother and her group should be safe.”

Kiki nodded hesitantly before she suggested “Well, let’s find out…the next section is from her point of view.”  Taking a deep breath, she turned the page and read “While your father was grieving the Great Gozu’s death, I had just woken up with Kazuo Tengan and Ryota Mitarai.  I opened my eyes and…”

Kyoko yawned, taking a quick glance around the room once her vision had cleared.

“Seems we made it through the second time limit.”

She breathed a sigh in relief as Ryota and Kazuo roused, the chairman getting to his feet and grabbing onto the propped table for support.

“Well, well.  I guess we managed to survive.”  He mused with a smile on his face.  “Quite a relief, eh?”

Kyoko narrowed her eyes, halfway between a stare and a glare at the chairman, wondering Why do I get the feeling he wasn’t too worried about it?

“Um…ohayou…”  Ryota yawned as he walked over to them, interrupting Kyoko’s thoughts.

“Ah, good morning, Mitarai-kun!”  Kazuo greeted cheerfully.  “Then again…I suppose we have no way of knowing whether it’s morning or night.”  He then turned to Kyoko and suggested “Well, why don’t we unprop the door now and investigate a little more?  Surely it’s better than just sitting in here, waiting for the time limit to expire.”

Kyoko glanced down at her bangle, taking note of the clock as she realized That’s right, we’re still under a time limit…that means someone else got attacked…and the killing game is still in effect…  She stood up and agreed “Yes, you’re right.  Mitarai-kun, help me remove this furniture.”

Ryota nodded and tossed the chair aside before they each grabbed a leg of the table.  With some effort, they quickly dragged the table to the side as Kazuo moved the coatrack.

“Well, shall we go?”  Kyoko asked as she opened the door and walked out of the room.

As Ryota and Kazuo followed closely behind her, Kyoko couldn’t help but hum in contemplation.

Why…?  Why wasn’t he worried about our survival?  We had no guarantee that we’d survive…so why was he so calm about it?

Kiki’s brow furrowed as she realized “Mom’s right…Tengan was way too lax about their survival.  Not even Dad would be that chill, and he’s the biggest optimist I know.”

“But…what does that mean…?”  Tsumugi wondered “Are you suspicious of Tengan?”

“I’m…not sure…”  Kiki admitted.  “I’d like to believe he’s just a chill guy, but I’m still feeling a couple red flags…”

Tsumugi nodded in understanding before Kiki sighed “At this point, I just don’t know.  Hopefully things will get clearer once we read some more.”  With that, Kiki turned the page and continued “We continued to grieve the Great Gozu’s death, but eventually we had to had to get moving.  Before we left though…”

“Hina…”  Makoto asked “Do you think you could cover the Great Gozu’s body with your jacket?”

“’Kay.”  Hina agreed, nodding before she shed her jacket and draped it over the Great Gozu’s corpse.  “There we go.”  She adjusted her shorts before she clenched her fists, a serious expression on her face as she declared “All right, people.  The name of the game is Survive and find the Attacker.

“Sure, yeah.”  Makoto muttered.

“So Naegi, you holding up okay?”

Startled out of his dreary mood, Makoto answered “Uh, you bet!  The main thing; we have to prevent any more deaths.”

“And we do that by exposing the one responsible!”  Monomi cheered.

“I’m sure Naegi has a plan.”  Hina insisted faithfully before she looked at him expectantly.

Why do I have to be the one with a plan?!  Kyoko’s the one who comes up with master plans, not me!  “Ano…well, ano, we should start by talking to everybody.  Question is, how?”

“Oo!  Oo!  I know!”  Monomi raised her paw and explained “We’ll hack into the intercom system so the whole building can hear you!”

“Huh?”  Hina wondered, cocking her head in confusion.

“You can do that?”  Makoto asked in amazement.

“You bet your sweet tuchus we can!”  Monomi exclaimed as she brought up a map of the building on Miaya’s screen.  “Monokuma deleted a ton of data off the server, but I’ve been able to restore bits and pieces.”

“Let’s see…”  Hina mused as she and Makoto knelt in front of Miaya.  “Huh.  Right, okay.  So remind me what kind of building this is again?”

“No problem.”  Monomi exclaimed “It was intended to function more or less as an overseas branch of Hope’s Peak, at least in the beginning.”

This place was going to be another Hope’s Peak Academy?!  Makoto thought, amazed at the thought that his alma mater was planning to expand to locations outside of Japan.

“However after the Biggest, Most Atrocious, Despair-Inducing Incident in Human History, construction was interrupted, and for obvious reasons, the original plan had to be scrapped.”

“Exactly.”  Makoto realized.  “Munakata repurposed it as a base.  And unless I’m wrong…”  Makoto pointed to a spot on the screen and exclaimed “Jackpot.  There’s the intercom.”

“The monitoring room.  Naturally.”  Monomi confirmed as Makoto stood up and clenched his fists.  “Let’s do it.  I can talk to everyone from there.”  Makoto briefly closed his eyes before reopening them, his expression dead serious as he vowed “No one else dies on my watch.”

“Wow, your dad was really determined!”  Tsumugi commented her eyes sparkling in admiration.

“Yeah.”  Kiki agreed.  “He might act like a goofball at home, but when he needs to, he can be dead serious.  He’s totally earned the right to lead Hope’s Peak Academy.”

“I wonder how many people he managed to save…did his words get through to anyone?”

“Well, I guess we’ll just have to keep reading to find out.  The next passage is from his point of view.”  Kiki turned the page and read “After Hina and I moved the barricade from the door, we walked towards the room with the intercom…”

Makoto caught Miaya turning in a circle out of the corner of his eye, piquing his curiosity.

“Uh, mind if I ask you something?”  As Miaya came to a halt, Makoto bent his knees and asked “Are you not able to make a right turn, or…?”


“Um…whoa, it’s okay.”  Makoto tried to reassure her.  “I was wondering why you did that whenever we went right.”

“Oh, this is awful!”  Monomi fretted.  “My secret’s out in the open!  I…I’m done for!  Finished!  Exterminated!  Tripping…”

“I’d never do that.  There’s nothing to worry about, honest!”

“R…R…Really?”  Monomi stammered, latching on to Makoto’s words hopefully.  “You’re not just saying that to trick me?  You could be saying that to trick me!”

Well, I was gonna do this on the intercom anyway, so…  Makoto smiled with amusement as he tapped his bangle and held it in front of Miaya, offering “Take a look.”

“Forbidden Action: Running in the hallway.”

Makoto chuckled “Now we know each other’s big weakness.  That puts us in the same boat.”

“Y…Yes, it does!  Thank you!”  Monomi replied gratefully before Hina ran up to them.

“I’ll show you mine too!”

“Be hit with a punch or kick.”  Makoto read as Hina tapped her own bangle, revealing her forbidden action.

“Oh wow!  You’ve come so close!”  Monomi exclaimed.

Hina closed her eyes, slightly bowing her head as she apologized “Naegi, I’m sorry about earlier.”  She turned to look the surprised Makoto in the eyes before she explained “When we were voting, I was so scared.  I couldn’t even move.  I should’ve protected you, but…”

“No, listen, I get it.”  Makoto assured her.  “We’ve seen what can happen.”  If Mitarai-kun hadn’t stopped Sakakura-san when he did…we would have lost Director Bandai and Hina at the same time!  “You gotta be careful.  Don’t blame yourself.”

Hina cheerfully winked, flexing her arms as she assured him “I’m fine now!  I’m totally ready for it!”

“Well now, let’s not do anything crazy.”  Makoto gently warned her before Monomi interjected.

“Hooray!  We all know each other’s Forbidden Action!  I feel so much better!  In a way, it’s kinda like we’re soul mates now!”

As Hina nodded and hummed in agreement, Makoto concurred “I don’t see why not.”  Even if I had a totally different idea of soulmates…  A flash of lavender illuminated his mind before he shook the thought away and admitted “It’s kind of a relief having our secrets out in the open.  Now we know how to watch each other’s…”

Makoto trailed off as Hina held her hand in front of his face and shushed him.  An unintelligible sound echoed in their ears, getting louder and louder with each second.

“Get to the monitoring room.  I’ll draw them away.  Go while there’s still time.”  Hina ordered.

“That’s too dangerous.”  Makoto objected., laying his hand just below his neck.  “No, I’ll lead them off.”

“Doing what?”  Hina questioned, resting her knuckles against her hips.  “Power walking?  Come on!”

“Ano…But I…”  Makoto stammered, unable to come up with a valid counterargument.

“Go!”  Hina ordered one last time before she jogged off.

“Asahina, wait!”  Makoto exclaimed before Miaya zoomed past him.

“I’ll be her backup!”  Monomi hollered.  “Don’t worry.  We’ve got this!  Soul mates forever!”

Makoto sighed, muttering “Shikata wa nai…Good luck, you two.”  He then turned around and decided “Well, I’d better get moving; don’t want their efforts to go to waste.”

Makoto took the first steps forward, his eyes narrowed in determination as he began the walk to the monitoring room.

Sure would be faster if I could run though…damn forbidden action…

“Wow, your dad really is intuitive!”  Tsumugi complimented.  “He figured out Gekkogahara’s forbidden action.”

“Yeah, he is, but more importantly, he built trust with Aunt Hina and Gekkogahara through his transparency.”  Kiki smiled as she mused “Maybe Dad’s plan wasn’t so naïve after all.”

Tsumugi raised an eyebrow as she questioned “You thought your dad’s plan was naïve?”

“Hey, at least two of those guys wanted to kill him, and his big plan for ending the killing game was by talking to them.  That’s not exactly the smartest move, Tsumugi.”

“Yeah, I see what you mean…”  Tsumugi sighed.  “But hey, everything worked out, didn’t it!”

“I suppose, though I’m sure Mom would have given him a scolding if she were with him.”

“That reminds me…I wonder what your mother was doing while your father was trying to get to the monitoring room.”

“Well, it looks like the next section is from her perspective, so let’s find out!”  Kiki turned the page and narrated “While your father was putting his plan into action, I was investigating the facility with Tengan and Mitarai.  We had just come to an open doorway and…”

“It doesn’t make sense…”  Kyoko muttered as she took out a compact mirror and opened it.

“Ano…what do you mean, Director Kirigiri?”  Ryota inquired as Kyoko used the reflection to look behind them.

“The fewer of us left, the easier to find the killer.”  Kyoko explained.  “The rules put them at a disadvantage.  It’s like they have no intention of winning.”  At least nobody’s following us…  She thought as she closed her mirror, putting it in her pocket.

“Where are you going?”  Ryota demanded as she pushed the door, widening the entrance.

“Where I can properly do my job.”  She stated simply.  “I’m a detective, and you can bet while we were unconscious someone was being killed.”

“Yes, but it’s not advisable to go alone.”  Kazuo cautioned, then offered “We should accompany you.”

Kyoko closed her eyes and exhaled through her nose, contemplating Kazuo’s points.

Strength in numbers is true, but I can’t quite bring myself to trust the chairman yet.  His inaction during Makoto’s physical abuse aside, he was way too calm about the fact that we survived the first time limit.  Makoto would balk at me for even considering this, but could it be possible that he…

“One killer’s bad enough.  Now Munakata’s out for blood.”  Ryota’s interjection interrupted his thoughts as he wondered “Why does he want Naegi dead?”

“Munakata’s a man of singularly strong will, which breeds hope.”  Kazuo explained, catching Kyoko’s attention.

Perhaps, but there’s a difference between being strong-willed, and being obstinate, dangerously at that.

“That said, what he fails to realize is strength can just as easily breed despair.”

Just like how Hajime Hinata was meant to be the Ultimate Hope, but ended up helping Junko bring the world to its knees…  Kyoko mused as Ryota grunted in anger, gripping his cell phone in his fist.  “What’s the matter?”  She asked, intrigued and concerned by Ryota’s sudden signs of anger.

“The things we do here, they’re being broadcast for the entire world to see?”

“Yes.”  Kyoko answered the former animator.

“Then, we…we shouldn’t be putting each other through this!  I need…I mean, we need to pull together!”

…You remind me of him…  Kyoko thought as Makoto’s gentle smile flashed in her mind.  But unlike you…Makoto would have been much more sure of himself…and the actions he needed to take.  “Okay.  Then do me a favor.  Please, if you don’t mind, show me your Forbidden Action.”

Ryota gasped in shock, disappointing Kyoko as he stepped backwards, staring at her incredulously.

“I can’t!”

Makoto wouldn’t have hesitated…he’d have revealed his in a heartbeat as an olive branch.  But even for him…  “Then I’m in the same position as you.”  Kyoko replied.  “So there it is.  That’s our reality.  It’s hard for people to pull together without the luxury of trust.  That’s probably what the Forbidden Actions are all about in the first place.  They’re a built in method for turning us against the group.”

Ryota exhaled shakily, bowing his head as the despair of Kyoko’s words flowed through his mind.

“The objective’s to make us feel isolated.”

At that moment, Kyoko’s words were cut off by a hum of the microphone, catching all their attentions as a familiar, nervous voice echoed through the rooms.

“Ano, ano, can you hear me?  This is Makoto Naegi.”

Makoto!  Kyoko gasped as she wondered What are you doing on the intercoms?  What are you planning?

“Bad news.  The Great Gozu is dead.  The Attacker got to him while we were asleep.”

Ryota gasped, horrified while Kazuo sighed, hanging his head in solemn grief for his comrade.

“Clearly, whoever it is has to be stopped.”  Makoto continued over the microphone.  “Thing is, while trying to unmask them, we can’t doubt each other.  That’s what Monokuma wants.  So let’s talk about this.  I know some of you are utterly convinced I’m on the side of the Remnants, and I don’t blame you.  Not at all.  My actions have led you to that conclusion.”

Makoto…you’re planning to make your legal argument NOW?!  Kyoko thought incredulously.  Not much point now that there’s no longer a trial…

Makoto proved her right as he explained “A while back, as part of Division Fourteen, I ran rescue missions.  During this period, I stumbled across fellow alumni, ex-students of Hope’s Peak.”

Izuru Kamukura and the other Remnants…  Kyoko recalled as she remembered that very mission report Makoto had sent to her.

“Instantly I could tell that they belonged to the Remnants of Despair. That they’d killed people.  Driven the world into darkness and chaos.  But also that they were human.  Maybe even, deep down, as normal as you and me.  They’d fought and laughed and horsed around.  They had a chance.  If they hadn’t met Enoshima…they’d have had a chance.”

Kyoko’s eyes softened at the anger in Makoto’s voice, her heart going out to her employee for the anguish he felt for his former upperclassmen.

“There was a way to save them though.  The Neo World Program.  Virtual rehabilitation.  A cutting edge treatment for lost souls.  Using it, I could restore their memories to a time before despair.  A time before Junko.  There were complications.  Needless to say, things didn’t go as smoothly as I’d hoped.”

Indeed, they did not…  Kyoko thought as the memory of AI Junko flashed in her memory.  If Hajime Hinata hadn’t overcome Junko’s grip on him, none of us would have made it out intact.

“But despite everything that happened, I believed it worked.  So there.  That’s it.  That’s my story.  We all have our point of view.  We’re all in our own circumstances.  Even so, if we can just talk it out, I’m convinced we can set aside our fear.”

But will everyone else be convinced?  I’m not sure…  Kyoko admitted to herself, wondering just how deeply Makoto’s words affected those most opposed to him.

“If we expect to get through this in one piece, our best hope is each other!  To prove my point…I’m done.  I’m turning my back on the game.”

Makoto…are you seriously…

“And just so you know, my Forbidden Action is running in the hallway.”

…Knew it…I knew he’d reveal it in a heartbeat…  Kyoko thought with an amused smile as she closed her eyes.  That’s just who Makoto Naegi is…

“You wanna kill me?  That’s how.  Think about it.  If I were the Attacker, would I give you this information?  Call it collateral.  Please, just trust me.”

With that, the facility went silent, leaving Kyoko, Ryota, and Kazuo alone with their thoughts.

“Well, it appears the mystery of who was killed has been solved.”  Kyoko stated.  “Regardless, it’s still worth trying to find the Great Gozu’s body so I can investigate the circumstances of his death.”

“Ah, you think that his body might lead us to the culprit’s identity?”  As Kyoko nodded, Kazuo insisted “In that case, please permit us to accompany you.  At the very least, you can rest assured that neither of us are the culprits.”

“…Very well, shall we go?”

As Kazuo and Ryota nodded, Kyoko walked through the doorway at a brisk pace, her two colleagues tailing close behind her.

“Wow…that was bold of your father…”  Tsumugi stated as they came to the end of the page.

“Yeah, that’s Dad alright…he’s bold, and not everyone’s on his side at first, but eventually they realize that Dad’s approach is the right one…”  Well, almost always…  Kiki admitted, recalling the aftermath of Korekiyo Shinguji’s attack on her life.

“Still, he just made himself a target…why do that in a killing game?”

“Well, someone had to be the one to extend an olive branch, and even if he didn’t change any minds yet, he planted the seeds that would allow trust and hope to blossom.”

“Ah, I get it!”  Tsumugi exclaimed.  “Though I am curious about what happened next…”

Kiki nodded and continued “We had continued walking through the halls in our search for the Great Gozu’s body when…”

“So…ano…why’d he tell us his Forbidden Action?”  Ryota asked curiously.

“As a testament to his faith in us.  Presumably.”  Kazuo explained.

“All of us?”  Ryota asked incredulously.  “Even Munakata, who told Naegi to kill himself?”

“Makoto’s a dyed in the wool optimist.”  Kazuo explained simply, causing Kyoko to nod in agreement.  “He knows who his enemies are, of course, but he believes in the power of civilized discourse.”

“So he thinks they can talk it out?!” Ryota asked excitedly.

“Oh, I’m certain it all sounds just as insane to him…”  Kazuo replied with a hint of amusement in his voice.  “…and yet, sometimes believing in your fellow man calls for exactly that.  Optimism is nothing if not a leap of faith.”

“I guess.”  Ryota replied, not entirely convinced as Kyoko approached one of the Monokuma Monitors.  “Not sure I’ll ever know.”

Kazuo hummed in contemplation before he looked at the focused detective and asked “Something troubling you?”

Kyoko turned to her colleagues, a moment of silence passing before she assured them “I’ll be fine.”

A sudden whoosh forced her into action, causing her to leap towards them as she landed on her hands and knees.  The three of them turned to see Juzo Sakakura standing a few feet away, wielding a desk chair like a club in his left hand.

“Damn.  I was so close.”

Kyoko glared at the former boxer, staring him down from her position on the floor.

“Oh crap!  Mom!”  Kiki cried as the page ended.

“That sure was a close one!”  Tsumugi exclaimed.  “It’s good that she dodged in time, but why did Sakakura go after her in the first place?  I thought he would have tried to finish off your father.”

“I’m guessing Munakata decided to go after Dad, leaving Sakakura to his own devices…”  Kiki deduced, causing Tsumugi to nod.

“Yeah, that makes sense, I guess.”

“Honestly, I’m wondering how they ever reconciled.  I wouldn’t have believed they were such bitter enemies after having Munakata over for dinner after the Akki incident.”

“It is strange, but something must have happened to bridge the divide, or at least make Munakata not thirst for your father’s blood anymore.”

Kiki nodded before she noted while turning the page “Speaking of which, his entry’s next.  I had finished my plea to the others and took a minute to breathe when…”

A resounding crash echoed in Makoto’s ears, startling him and causing him to turn his head.

“Munakata.”  He gasped as the vice-chairman stood on the other side of a glass window, his katana piercing the crystal barrier.  As he withdrew his weapon, the glass shattered, creating an entryway for him to use.  Again, he didn’t use the door…that makes it more likely that his forbidden action is using a door…

“Surprised you would face me without a weapon.”  Kyosuke stated as he approached the former luckster.

“I would only need one to fight.”  Makoto insisted, swallowing down his nervousness as he steeled his determined eyes.  “Things don’t have to be this way, Munakata.  Let’s talk.  We’re comrades.  There’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to hear each other out.  That’s what the Future Foundation is!  We’re all supposed to be on the same side here!”

“You think your words have weight?”  Kyosuke questioned, startling Makoto.  “The day isn’t won on platitudes.”  He paused, allowing his words to sink in before he complimented “You’re impressive.  I saw you on the broadcast, of course.  And I’ll be the first to admit, watching you hold your own was inspirational.  Deeply.”

If you feel that way, then there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to talk!  Makoto thought, though Kyosuke continued before he could voice his plea.

“Yet for all that heroism, you only won because it was no more than a game.”

Did he just…call the hell we endured, the friends we lost, a game?!  Angered, Makoto demanded “What are you saying?  Our lives were on the line in there!”

“And the rules were clear.”  Kyosuke countered calmly before admitting “Oh, I’ll grant you the stakes were definitely high.  But I defy anyone to argue the guidelines for survival were vague.  Out here, things aren’t so cut and dry.” 

Kyosuke walked even closer as he continued to lecture Makoto.

“In the real world, there are no rules.  Platitudes and a positive outlook aren’t worth a damn.”

Struck speechless, Makoto could only stare into Kyosuke’s eyes, the vice-chairman looking down on him as though he were a mere child.

“You don’t know true despair.  You don’t know the hell we’ve put ourselves through to keep people alive.  The real world is a very violent place.  Enough to crush a man’s spirit.  Enough to drive him mad.  You and your friends were hand-picked.  Kept alive.  Memories wiped.  You had no clue.”

That doesn’t mean we didn’t know what true despair felt like!  Makoto wanted to argue, though Kyosuke’s continuous lecture didn’t give him any openings.

“So you can talk, sure.  But that is about the only thing you can do.”

“That’s not fair!”  Makoto finally talked back.  “You talk about platitudes, but so what?  Hope has gotta start somewhere, right?  When the real world gets ugly, you power through!  You believe and put it in words!  It’s how hope spreads!  How you give it to others!”

“You believe hollow words are really enough to make people act?”

“Absolutely I do!”  Makoto cried, closing his eyes and clenching his fists.  “And people will!”  I proved it in the Killing School Life, Hajime proved that in the Killing School Trip, and Komaru proved it in Towa City! 

Makoto opened his eyes to shoot a determined glare at his superior.

“Words are hollow sometimes, yeah, but they can always be filled in!”

Kyosuke closed his eyes, slightly bowing his head in deference as he admitted “A rare gift indeed, and if anyone’s capable, it’s you.”

Makoto’s eyes widened in surprise, the young man gasping as he wondered Did I…did I actually break through to him?

“In fact, I’m sure of it.”  Munakata stepped backwards as he narrowed his eyes and told him “Precisely the reason I can’t allow you to escape.”

Makoto gasped as Kyosuke finally pointed his katana at him, causing the former luckster to demand “What’re you doing?”

“I’m afraid you’re simply too dangerous.  Your hollow words might spur people forward.  And heaven only knows to do what.”

“Hope!  What else?”  Makoto retorted despite the deadly weapon pointed at his throat.

“I don’t think so.  You’re too naïve.”  Kyosuke rejected.  “But people might listen.  They’ll take your side.  They’ll believe the world can actually be saved without bloodshed.  But the world they’re walking into will be hell itself.  You’ll lead them to despair!”

“Believe what you want.“  Makoto clenched his left fist in front of his heart in defiance as he proclaimed “For me, I believe what I say!”

Kyosuke turned his head as he commented “Truth can stay a man’s hand. Even now you make me doubt my resolve.”  Makoto gasped in surprise before Kyosuke glared at him.  “But doubt alone won’t stop me.”  The vice-chairman gripped his sword with both hands, raising it in a battle stance as he demanded “If there is any truth in what you believe, let words do the fighting.  Let’s see your rhetoric stop my blade.”

No way!  Makoto thought as his eyes widened in shock at Kyosuke’s apparent insistence on ending the man’s life.

“I’m a different sort of man than you.  I have faith in the virtue of power.  Hope doesn’t belong to those willing to die.”  Kyosuke raised his katana above his head as he declared “It belongs to those willing to kill!  And I will kill thousands if it means I vanquish despair.  That is the strength of my conviction!  That is the future I envision.”

Munakata…your outlook…it’s…it’s no better than Junko’s!

“Yes!”  Kyosuke exclaimed.  “A world without despair is a world worth fighting for!  Keep your platitudes.  I embrace the ugliness of what must be done.  I am the true face of hope!”

With that, Kyosuke swung his blade.  Makoto felt his world turn to black, Munakata’s condescending voice the last thing he heard before his consciousness faded.

“How unfortunate.  Too bad this wasn’t a classroom trial.”

“Dad…”  Kiki breathed, feeling her heart rate rise as her chest pounded.

“I don’t believe it!  Munakata…did he…actually kill your father?”

Kiki took a couple of deep breaths before she was able to shake her head.

“No, otherwise he wouldn’t be alive to run Hope’s Peak Academy.  Munakata…probably just knocked him out…and for what, being charismatic?!  That doesn’t make him dangerous, it makes him talented!”

Kiki grit her teeth, feeling her anger for the man rise as she wondered why her father would have ever invited him over, no matter how many years had passed.

“Kiki, calm down.  Take deep breaths, okay?”

Kiki closed her eyes and inhaled, feeling the oxygen bring a sense of calm with its breeze against her lungs. As she exhaled, she felt a little bit of her anger and borderline hatred for Kyosuke Munakata fade.  She repeated several times, aided by Tsumugi’s gentle encouragements.

“…Sorry, Tsumugi…I just get so angry, hearing what he did to my dad…”

“It’s okay, you have every right to be angry, Kiki!”  Tsumugi assured her friend.  “Why don’t we take a break for now?”

“Yeah, I…kinda need it…”  Kiki admitted as she replaced the bookmark and closed the book.

“Well, I’ll leave you to your peace.”  Tsumugi told her as Kiki put the diary back on the table.  “Pick up tomorrow?”

“Sorry Tsumugi, but tomorrow I’m heading back home after class.  I promised my parents I’d stay home during the weekends.  Besides…I could use a break, and I miss my siblings and my dog.  But I’ll be back Sunday, so we can pick up again on Sunday night.”

“Sure, that sounds good.”  Tsumugi hugged her friend, feeling Kiki return the embrace before the cosplayer told her “I’ll see you tomorrow in class, then.  Good night, Kiki.”

“Good night, Tsumugi.”  Kiki returned as the cosplayer separated before walking towards the door.

Once Tsumugi opened and shut it behind her, Kiki sighed and muttered “Better get some sleep…”

She crawled under the covers and curled up before she yawned and closed her eyes.  Just like her father, her room faded to black, but unlike Makoto all those years ago, she planned to fade into blissful dreams.

Chapter Text

“Kiki, are you okay?”

“Hm?”  Kiki raised her head from her plate at her mother’s question, seeing concerned looks from her parents and siblings.

“You’ve been pretty quiet this weekend.”  Makoto explained.  “And you’ve barely touched your dinner.  Is something troubling you?”

“Oh, I just…have a lot on my mind, that’s all.”  I can’t explain it here, not in front of Moku, Koto, and Kiri.  They’re way too young to hear this kind of stuff.

Makoto and Kyoko nodded in understanding and the family went back to awkwardly eating their dinner.

“Alright, we’re back on campus.”  Makoto announced as he parked in the parking lot. 

As Kiki opened the passenger door to get out, he placed his hand on her shoulder.  She turned her head to see him smiling encouragingly at her.

“I’m guessing you’ve been thinking a lot about the diary we gave you…you know you can talk to me about anything you’re thinking, right?  It’s just us, no kids to worry about.”

Kiki smiled and nodded, replying “I know, Dad.  I just…wanna try to get through the whole thing so I can talk about it all at once.”

Makoto nodded and replied “I understand, Kiki.  Just know that our offices are always open if you feel the need to talk.”

“I know…thanks, Dad.”

“That’s what I’m here for.  Alright, you have a good evening, and I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”

“Okay Dad.  See you soon.”  She told him as she got out of the car and closed the door. 

Makoto waved at her, causing her to wave back as she watched him drive away.  She then turned around and gazed towards the main campus.

“Well, better start heading back…”

“Welcome back, Kiki!”

Kiki giggled as she hugged her friend, telling the cosplayer “Good to see you too.  How were things while I was away?”

“Well…”  Tsumugi began as she walked in Kiki’s room and closed the door.  “Gonta tried doing another Insect Meet and Greet from when we were kids, Tojo-chan tried to bring everyone breakfast in bed, and Saihara-kun spent his free time either helping his uncle out with cases or reading mystery novels in the library.”

“I see…it certainly seems like everyone kept themselves busy.”

“Yeah, we all missed you, but we all kept ourselves busy.  I spent my weekend reading more of Hifumi Yamada’s dojinshis.”

“I bet you were right at home!”  Kiki giggled.

“It was certainly a fun read…speaking of which, shall we pick up where we left off on Thursday?”

Kiki nodded before she turned and walked towards the bed.  Tsumugi followed her as they crawled on the bed, settling next to each other.  The heterochromatic girl picked up the diary from her bedside table and turned to the bookmark before she began to read.

“Though I was still on my hands and knees, I glared up at Juzo Sakakura, who had just tried to kill me.  Our staring contest was broken when…”

“Bit soon to rely on violence, don’t you think?”

Kyoko watched as Kazuo walked in front of her, wondering What are you planning, Chairman Tengan?

“If Naegi’s with the Remnants, his pals must be too.”  Juzo justified.  “This isn’t the sort of thing you can pull off by your lonesome.  I suggest you step aside.”

“And I suggest you try listening to reason.”  Kazuo shot back, undeterred by Juzo’s threat.

The former boxer merely turned his head, closing his eyes as he retorted dismissively “Quit acting like your damn title means a thing.”  He opened his eyes, glaring at the chairman as he declared “I take my orders from Munakata, not some decrepit, washed-up old fart, Mr. Chairman!

In a flash of anger, Juzo threw his chair at the three of them.  Kyoko ducked as Kazuo and Ryota dodged to the side, causing it to hit an exposed water pipe.  The plumbing cracked, causing the hallway to be filled with steam.  Juzo grunted in frustration before he charged into the fog, tossing his jacket to the side and kicking Kazuo.

“What is he doing?”  Ryota exclaimed as Kyoko got to her feet.

With Kazuo down, Juzo picked up the chair and approached the former detective, smirking as Kyoko merely glared at him through the mist.  Kyoko ducked as Juzo swung the chair at her like a baseball bat.

“No!  Stop it!”  Ryota cried as he charged at Juzo, grabbing onto the chair.

“Move it!”  Juzo roared as he swung the chair, shaking Ryota off and causing him to fall backwards against Kyoko.

They both toppled to the ground, falling on their rears.  Kyoko groaned in pain as Ryota landed squarely on her ankle.

Great, it’s probably sprained now!  I’m a sitting duck like this! 

She looked up as Juzo stood towering over them, chair raised above his head as he prepared to deal her the final blow.

“Not good, Mom’s defenseless!  Her protection just became a liability!”

“Yeah, Mitarai’s attack backfired and inflicted her with the paralysis status!”  Tsumugi exclaimed.  “How do you think she got out of that?”

“I don’t know, let’s keep reading and find out.”  Kiki took a deep breath and continued “Sakakura raised his chair as he prepared to deal me a killing blow.  Unable to move, I wondered if it was truly the end for me when…”

Juzo turned around, surprised as he just barely dodged out of the way of a silver dart.

“What the hell?”  He exclaimed as it breezed past his face.

“Heh.”  Everyone’s eyes widened in shock as Tengan walked through the fog and complimented “Excellent dodge.”  Juzo grunted as Kazuo narrowed his eyes and challenged “Not such a decrepit, washed-up old fart after all, am I?”

Juzo gasped, then steeled his gaze as he pulled back the chair and launched it forward.

What the…?  Kyoko thought as she saw the chairman catch it in midair and throw it back with resounding force, causing Juzo to dodge.

I…didn’t know the chairman was so physically capable…  Kyoko thought in awe as Kazuo leapt towards Juzo with surprising agility.

Juzo wound back his fist and threw a punch, only to stop at the last second as it hovered a mere inch from the smirking Kazuo’s face.

“What’s the holdup?”  He taunted.  “You’re gonna punch me, aren’tcha?  Oughta be short work for a former Ultimate Boxer.”

He was the Ultimate Boxer, he could easily punch all of us…unless…  Kyoko realized His Forbidden Action is punching someone!  That’s why he attacked us with that chair!

Juzo grunted in frustration as his fist just hovered, mere inches from its target.  Seizing the opportunity, Kazuo brushed Juzo’s extended arm aside while elbowing him in the chest.  Juzo gasped in surprise pain as he was sent flying backwards, skidding along the floor as he laid on his back.  Kyoko gasped as she stared incredulously at the victorious chairman and the now stunned former boxer.

Did that…just happen…?

Her thoughts were interrupted as Kazuo groaned pressing his hands against his back before he turned to her with a smile.

“Gracious.  Young people today.”  He turned back to the unconscious Juzo and suggested “We should probably restrain him so he can’t come after us again anytime soon.  Mitarai-kun, come give me a hand, won’t you?  I’m sure Director Kirigiri would appreciate it if you got off her foot.”

“Huh?  Oh!”  Mitarai scrambled off her before he turned around.  “I’m so sorry!  I only meant to help, I promise!”  He apologized profusely as he bowed his head.

“Don’t worry, I’m sure she understands you meant no harm.”  Kazuo reassured him before looking towards the ceiling.  “Mitarai, yank that wire from the ceiling, won’t you?  I’ll prop up Sakakura.”

Kyoko watched as the two men got to work before she opted to focus on managing the pain in her ankle.

“Okay…I was wrong…”  Kiki admitted as she came to the end of the page.  “Chairman Tengan ended up being very capable of defending Mom.”

“Yeah, who knew he multi-classed as both an archer and a monk?!”

Kiki giggled “Yeah, he was certainly full of surprises…”  Her smile faded as she lamented “Too bad he couldn’t do it in time to prevent Mom from getting hurt though.”

“Yeah, hopefully her paralysis status wasn’t long-lasting.”

“Well, the next page is from her perspective, so let’s find out.”  Kiki glanced to the top of the page and continued “Tengan and Mitarai worked to restrain Sakakura while my injured ankle recovered.  Eventually…”

Juzo sat on the floor, unconscious as his arms were suspended above him by a cable tied around his wrists.  His jacket hung on a coatrack next to him as Ryota and a now recovered Kyoko stood a few feet away.

“So, ano, he won’t be able to follow us?”  Ryota asked hesitantly.

“Hopefully not.”  Kyoko confirmed.

“Kyoko!”  An ecstatic cry reverberated through the halls as she saw Hina and Miaya running straight at them.

“Thank goodness you’re all right!”  Hina cried as she wrapped her arms around the former detective in a bear hug, causing her to wince slightly in dulled pain.

“Thanks.  Glad you’re still in one piece, too.”

Noticing the veiled pain in Kyoko’s voice, Hina immediately released her and exclaimed “Hold on, are you hurt?”

“Oh, it’s nothing, really.”  Kyoko assured her friend as Ryota bowed his head in shame.

“I’m sorry.  It’s all my fault.”  Both women turned to Ryota in surprise as he explained “This…This happens every time.  Whenever I try to help someone…”  The former animator clenched his fists in anguish and frustration as he muttered in frustration “…I just cause them more pain.  I can’t save anything.”  His eyes began to water as he asked “Why is it so hard for me to be like Naegi?”

Ah, an inferiority complex…like Makoto had when we were in school together…  Kyoko mused before she returned “Why bother to be like him?  I was under the impression that you’re you.”

Ryota gasped in surprise before Hina smiled and tried to cheer him up.

“Come on.  Hey!  You stepped up for me when push came to shove, remember?  That pretty much saved my bacon!”

“That seems like a bit of a stretch.”  Ryota replied, unconvinced.  “Thank you, though.”

“It’s true.  It’s because you intervened that we’re even standing here right now.”

Ryota gasped, then smiled softly at Kyoko’s words before he reluctantly accepted “If you say so.”

The hum of a microphone interrupted their conversation, getting everyone’s attention as Kyosuke’s voice echoed throughout the facility.

“Attention, Foundation members.  Attention, Foundation members.”

“Is that?”

“That’s Munakata.”  Kazuo confirmed the former swimmer’s suspicions.

“I have an important announcement.  Makoto Naegi has been captured.”

Everyone except Kyoko gasped as Hina wondered “Is he for real?”

Damn, I knew this would happen…  Kyoko thought.  Makoto’s words didn’t reach those most determined to kill him, and now he’s completely at their mercy.

“As I speak, I am on the verge of executing him.”

“What?!”  Monomi shrieked as Hina grabbed her head with her hands.

“No!  This isn’t happening!  What do we do?”

“It’s a trap.”  Kyoko deduced calmly.

“A trap?”

“It’s obvious, really.  He’s using Naegi to draw us all in.”

“Yeah, I get that, but what do we do about it?  He’s going to execute Naegi!”

…An unacceptable situation.  I promised Makoto I would protect him, and I will, even if it means walking into Munakata’s trap!  “I’ll go and talk to him.”  Kyoko decided as she closed her eyes. 

Hina gasped before Kyoko opened her eyes and turned to address her friend.

“Look, if he hasn’t killed him yet, there’s a reason.  We still have room to negotiate.  Perhaps I’ll be able to get through to him.”  Now who’s being naïve, Kirigiri?  Makoto must have rubbed off on you more than you thought.

“It’s not your place.”  Kazuo objected, causing the others to turn to him in surprise.  “If he’s willing to negotiate, let me do the talking.  It’s for the best.”


Before Kyoko could continue her argument, Kazuo interjected “Been meaning to have a little chat with him for some time now, honestly.  He and I go back aways.”

“But, sir.”

Kazuo held up his hand, silencing Kyoko as he interrupted “Defusing this situation is my job.  And unless I’m mistaken, there’s another job to which you’re suited.”

I…I may not trust him completely, but the fact remains that if negotiations fail, I stand little chance of survival against Munakata’s katana.  At least Tengan has a weapon and knows how to use it.  He’s our best fighter right now, so even if I want to rescue Makoto personally, Tengan is obviously more capable than I am of fending off Munakata right now.  And he’s right, we need a detective to get us out of this killing game, and as the former Ultimate Detective, I’m best suited to investigate this.

Kyoko sighed, making her surrender in the debate clear.

“I understand.  Do what you can for Naegi.  Just be careful.”

Hina raised her hand and exclaimed “Ano!  I volunteer to go with you, sir!”

As Kazuo nodded in agreement, Monomi volunteered “Me too!  I’ve already calculated the safest route!”

Kazuo hummed before turning to Ryota and asking “Ah, Mr. Mitarai?”

“Ano, yes?”

“If you would, I believe Kirigiri would appreciate an escort.  She’s in no condition to be alone.”

I have a slightly sprained ankle; I’m not bedridden!  She thought in frustration before Ryota clenched his fists.

“Ano, absolutely!”

“Very well, then.  Let’s see what we can’t do.”  Kazuo chuckled.

…Shikata wa nai…  Kyoko thought before she reluctantly nodded.

“Good luck Kyoko!”  Hina cheered before the former detective gave a small smile.

“You as well, Asahina.”

Without another word, the group split up, Kazuo, Hina, and Miaya going in one direction while Kyoko and Ryota went in the other.

“So, they’re splitting up again…”  Kiki muttered as they came to the end of the page.

“Yeah, it’s too bad your mom couldn’t go and rescue your dad.”  Tsumugi’s eyes sparkled as she gushed “It would have been just like in a manga!  The heroine rushing to rescue her love interest, beating up the evil lord, and when the danger passed, they confess their love and share a loving kiss!”

Kiki rolled her eyes and teased “You’ve been reading too many romance mangas.  Mom’s not some magical girl like Sailor Moon, and this unfortunately can’t be solved by yelling the name of your attack at the top of your lungs.”

“Yeah, still, it’s nice to dream, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, it is…speaking of which, it looks like Dad’s perspective is next…guess he woke up after Munakata knocked him out.”

“Yeah, though I doubt he had any pleasant dreams…”

Kiki nodded in agreement with Tsumugi as she turned the page and continued “I was just starting to regain consciousness after Munakata’s announcement.  I felt my hands, restrained behind my back with some kind of binding when…”

The clang of steel piercing the concrete floor startled Makoto, wiping the drowsy haze from his mind as he looked up at Munakata.

“Good, you’re awake.”  Munakata told him, his pals resting on the hilt of his katana as he glared down at the restrained young man.

Makoto managed to get onto his knees before he demanded “What are you planning on doing to me?”

“I plan to use you as bait.  Anyone willing to attempt a rescue is obviously not to be trusted.”

“But you…you don’t have to keep me alive for that.”  Makoto pointed out, confused.

“Well you’re certainly no less of a threat for not being the Attacker.”

Wait, does he believe I’m not the Attacker?  “I don’t get it.”  Makoto admitted.

“Think about the game’s outcome.  Of all the ways this could end, what’s the most terrifying possibility?”

“Everyone getting killed.  All of us being slaughtered like cattle till the Foundation is forfeit.”

“Wrong.”  Kyosuke countered, shocking Makoto.

Wrong?!  What could possibly be worse than being dead?!

“Indulge me.”  Kyosuke continued “Let’s assume for the sake of argument the attacks stop with my death.  What might you deduce?”

Where is he going with this?  Makoto wondered.  “Well, I mean…that would sorta point the finger at you being the Attacker.”

“That would be the sensible conclusion.  Then again, there’s no way to be absolutely certain.”

The gears started turning in Makoto’s head as he started connecting the dots of Kyosuke’s argument.

“You’ve got a point!”  He gasped reluctantly.  “There’s no rule saying the Attacker can’t just stop whenever they feel like it!”

“And if the Attacker sets up a patsy to take the fall, it would bring the game to an end.”  Kyosuke concluded.  “Ingratiating him or herself to the surviving Foundation members would then be child’s play.”

“The real Attacker would be held up as a hero.”  Makoto reluctantly realized.

“Yes.  Held up as a hero and given control of the Foundation itself.  If a beacon of hope like you happened to be among the survivors, the enemy’s control will be all but absolute.  People will rally around you.  The Remnants of Despair know this.  They’ll use you to entrench themselves. Despair will march across the Earth, all the while flying the banner of hope.  That would be the most terrifying outcome.”

“I…I get it.”  Makoto concluded reluctantly “The Attacker would save me because they need me alive.  I’m the cornerstone of their whole plan.”

“So you do think logically.  Encouraging.”

I couldn’t survive six Class Trials if I couldn’t use logic.  Makoto thought as Kyosuke picked up his katana.

“Indeed.  You and those who might try to use you must be killed to thwart the enemy.”

“That can’t be the only solution!”  Makoto objected.  No matter how much Munakata’s making sense, I can’t condone being part of a plan for more bloodshed!  “You’d just end up having to kill everybody!”

Kyosuke merely glared at him and warned “Do not underestimate the Future Foundation.  This institution is ironclad.  All men die.  But what I have created here will endure.”

I used to think the same about Hope’s Peak Academy…but even that fell thanks to Junko.  The Future Foundation is no less vulnerable to corruption and destruction.  Makoto thought with pity.  “You’re insane.  The game’s driven you mad!”

“Tell me.”  Kyosuke pointed out “Was Enoshima defeated without sacrifice?”

Makoto fell silent, recalling Sayaka, Mukuro, Leon, Chihiro, Mondo, Taka, Hifumi, Celeste, and Sakura as memories of the Killing School Life flashed through his mind.

“The hope you represent spurs people to act.”  Kyosuke rested his Katana directly over Makoto’s shoulder, continuing “And for that, here you are, like a powder keg waiting to be ignited by the enemy.”

Makoto stared with wide eyes in a tense mental standoff with Kyosuke before a silver dart hit the katana, sending it flying before it lodged itself in a nearby table.

What the…  Makoto thought as he and Kyosuke turned their gazes towards the entryway

He gasped as he saw Kazuo, his right hand raised as a wrist-based firearm shone from a bracelet on his right wrist.  Behind him stood Hina and Miaya, all glaring intensely at the vice-chairman.

Chairman Tengan!  Hina!  Director Gekkogahara!

“Finally, the cavalry arrived!”  Kiki sighed in relief as she reached the end of the page.

“Yeah, that whole philosophical battle was totally intense!  I can’t even imagine how your dad felt during that time.”

“Yeah, and he had that katana hovering inches from his throat!”  Kiki pointed out.  “Munakata seemed to me like the win at all costs type.”

Tsumugi agreed “Yeah, I can’t say his logic was wrong, but it’s definitely not right, either.  He definitely strikes me as a chaotic neutral character.”

Kiki nodded in agreement before she wondered “I wonder how Mom’s investigation was going…” 

She turned the page and glanced at Tsumugi.  The cosplayer nodded before Kiki took a deep breath and continued reading.

“While your father was arguing with Munakata, Mitarai and I wandered the hallways.  I tapped my bangle and…”

Damn…  Kyoko cursed as the timer flashed on her bangle.  We’re running out of time, it’s almost the end of the second time limit.

“Ano…aren’t these the doors to the conference room?”

Kyoko nodded, confirming Ryota’s question.

“The place where the first two victims were found.  It’s the perfect place to properly begin my investigation.”

Without another word, Kyoko opened the left door, pushing it aside as she and Ryota stepped inside.

“It’s you.”  Kyoko gasped as her eyes focused on the sight of her father’s old friend and the talent scout who recruited her into Hope’s Peak Academy.  Koichi Kizakura.

Koichi turned to her in surprise, grinning as he waved at her.

“Ah-ha!  Kirigiri.  Good to see you.  Come to detect?”

“What are you doing here?”  She asked curiously as she and Ryota approached the former talent scout.

“Meh.”  Koichi shrugged.  “Times like these, I figure the safest place to be is with a world-class sleuth!”

Flattery will get you nowhere, Kizakura.  She thought as she brushed his outstretched hand away.

“Oh, hey, come on now.”  He complained as Kyoko walked past him and knelt before Chisa’s corpse, still obscured by The Great Gozu’s jacket.

“Both of you, stand back and keep conversation to a minimum.  I need to do my job.”

Both men blinked, then nodded as Kyoko took a deep breath and held her hands together in prayer.  She then reached for the jacket and steeled herself before gently pulling it down, revealing Chisa’s bloodied corpse.

Investigation Start!

“I…take it your mom wasn’t too fond of your grandfather’s former talent scout.”  Tsumugi guessed, causing Kiki to nod.

“Mom said that he used to be Grandpa Jin’s drinking buddy.  To Mom though, he was just that weird, embarrassing uncle she preferred not to be around.”  Kiki smiled softly as she admitted “She still likes to crack jokes at his expense, but they don’t really have any bite to them.  He was still more or less family, so in her own way, she loved him.”

Tsumugi nodded before she wondered “Speaking of love, I wonder what happened during your father’s rescue.”

“Well, the next page is from Dad’s point of view, so let’s find out.”  Kiki turned the page and continued “Tengan, your Aunt Hina, and Gekkogahara had just arrived, all glaring at Munakata.  Tengan was the first to break the silence…”

“There’s nothing like love to drive a man crazy.  You’ve been running yourself ragged from the moment we found Yukizome’s body.”

Tengan fired several more darts at Kyosuke, causing him to duck and dodge out of the way.  He backflipped behind the table as several more darts launched towards him, lodging themselves in the table.

“Chuusen, is it?  He’s going old-school.”

“Asahina, you’re up.”

“Oh, right!”  Hina exclaimed as she leapt down the stairs towards the still bound Makoto while Kazuo kept Munakata pinned with several more chuusen darts.  “Naegi!”  She cried out in relief as she hauled him over her shoulder.

Once they reached Kazuo and Miaya, Hina set him down and worked furiously to untie the rope around his hands.  Meanwhile Kyosuke managed to dislodge his katana from the able, using it to parry the incoming chuusen darts.

“Ano, Mr. Chairman?”  Monomi asked fretfully.

“Don’t worry about me.  I can hold my own.”  Kazuo assured them.  “Get the boy somewhere safe.”

“You got it, sir!”  Hina vowed as Makoto climbed on the back of Miaya’s wheelchair.


“Yes, Chairman?”  Makoto asked with worry in his voice.

Kazuo smiled as he told the concerned former luckster “For what it’s worth, there’s no doubt in my mind you are the Ultimate Hope.”

Kyosuke growled and attempted to charge, only to be forced back when he parried another round of Kazuo’s chuusen darts.

“Go on.  I’m leaving the others in your capable hands.”

“Sir, you…”

Kazuo smirked and assured him “I’ll be fine.  Munakata and I are just having a friendly discussion.”

And this is a friendly discussion…how?!  Makoto pushed down his deadpanned thought as he quietly replied “Thank you, Tengan.”

“Let’s go!”  Hina ordered as she ran ahead.

Makoto yelped as Miaya’s wheelchair zoomed after the former athlete, taking them far away from the skirmish between the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Future Foundation.

“At least Dad got out of there more or less unharmed…”  Kiki sighed in relief.

“Yeah, though I wonder who won that duel!”  Tsumugi pondered.  “Did Munakata’s mastery of the blade win out?  Or did Tengan’s agility and sharpshooting break through the master swordsman’s defenses?”

“I’m not sure we’ll know the answer to that, at least not firsthand.”  Kiki reminded “Remember, this diary is only from Mom and Dad’s perspectives, and it’s likely they didn’t see the outcome themselves.  They might have heard the outcome second-hand, but we probably won’t read about the specifics of the fight.”

“Yeah, shame though.  It would have been amazing to read about the specifics of their battle!”

Kiki sweatdropped, thinking You’re getting way too into this…though I can’t say I’m surprised, seeing how much of an anime and manga otaku you are!  Kiki sighed and muttered as she turned the page “Let’s just continue to the next page.  Looks like Mom’s narrating it this time.”

“Oh, I was wondering how her investigation was going.”  Tsumugi admitted before Kiki began to read.

“I was in the process of investigating Yukizome’s body.  Kizakura had stepped back, sitting on the nearby table as he watched.  Mitarai meanwhile, had ignored my request after a few minutes.  His curiosity led him to kneel next to me as he observed me work.  He stayed quiet though, so I allowed him to stay where he was as I continued investigating.  Eventually though, he broke the silence by asking…”

“Excuse me.  May I ask you something?”  Kyoko neither consented nor objected, allowing Ryota to inquire “I’m curious.  What would you say about the kind of person who comes up with a game like this?”

Trying to guess who would be the mastermind by figuring out their thoughts?  It’s not a bad idea, but…  “There’s not enough information to go on yet.  Preconceptions get in the way of clear thinking.”

“Oh.”  Ryota muttered as he hung his head in disappointment.

You didn’t think it would be that easy, did you?  She thought before she inquired “What’s your opinion?”

“Mine?”  Ryota asked, surprised.

“Fair question.”  She stated as she turned to look at the former animator.  “You must have a few ideas of your own.  I assume that’s why you’re fielding someone else’s take on the matter.”

“I guess so…”  Ryota reluctantly admitted, then fell silent.

You didn’t answer my question…  Kyoko noted, but let it slide as she focused on Chisa’s corpse.  I can’t waste time waiting for you to find the resolve to be transparent with me.

“It is an interesting question.”  Tsumugi mused.  “What kind of person would mastermind a killing game like this, especially since Junko Enoshima was already vanquished and her AI was deleted?  The answer to that could help to end it more quickly.”

Kiki nodded and reminded “True enough, but keep in mind that Mom knows better than to have preconceptions in her mind.  After all, a mistake could be deadly in this kind of scenario.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”  Tsumugi admitted.

“Besides, Mitarai wasn’t willing to answer Mom’s question, so until he does, there’s not much incentive for Mom to share her own hypotheses.”

Tsumugi nodded before she smiled and teased “You seem like you’d be well-suited to this line of work.  Any chance you’d follow in her footsteps and take up the family trade?”

Kiki giggled “I’ll worry about my future career later, okay?  Right now we have to get through this diary.”

“Ah, okay.  Who’s perspective is next?”

“I think it’s Dad’s.”  Kiki replied as she turned the page.  “Miaya zoomed through the halls on her wheelchair, keeping pace with your Aunt Hina and carrying me on the back.  Eventually though…”

As Miaya came to a halt, a sweaty, exhausted Hina panted, resting her hands on her knees as she struggled to catch her breath.

A bit rusty, Hina?  Makoto mentally teased as he got off the wheelchair.

“I think we’re…far enough that we’re safe.”

“I’m sorry.”  Makoto apologized.

“Why are you apologizing?”  Hina tiredly giggled as Miaya typed away on her keyboard.  “Something wrong?”  She asked the former therapist.

“I’m afraid someone’s following us.”  Monomi explained as Makoto and Hina gasped in surprise.

We must have gone however many meters thorough who knows how many hallways, and someone still managed to follow us?!

“Fear not!  I’ll put a stop to them!”

“Don’t try to be a hero!”  Hina discouraged.  “What’ll you do?  And where is this even coming from?”

“I think Naegi’s positive outlook might be catching.  I’m infected with hope!”

Great…more people rushing into danger because I inspired them…  Makoto lamented as his eyes drooped in sadness.  “Ano, wait!  Hold on a second.”

“One of us has to fight, and since we can’t risk tripping either of your Forbidden Actions, it’ll have to be me.”  Monomi reasoned.  “Have a little faith in your soul mate.  My body is ready!”

Hina beamed in awe before she told the former therapist “When this is all over, we are gonna go eat so many donuts!  And that’s a promise.”  She vowed with a wink.

“I’ll be back!”  Monomi exclaimed, pumped up as Miaya rolled away, leaving the two former classmates alone in the room.

“Well, no sense in standing here like sitting ducks.”  Makoto advised.  “Let’s get some more distance while we still have time.”

Hina nodded as they walked out the room, walking in the opposite direction from Miaya’s impending skirmish.

“Wow, that Sakakura was really determined to kill your Dad.”  Tsumugi observed.  “It’s like he was one of those rare bounties that maxes out the largest wallet!”

Please don’t call my dad a bounty, Shirogane.  Kiki thought before she sighed “Yeah, thankfully Gekkogahara had all sorts of offensive gadgets in her wheelchair, so she should’ve been able to handle whatever Sakakura could throw at her.” 

She replaced the bookmark and closed the diary before she yawned.  “Anyway, I’m feeling tired, so how about we stop here for tonight?”

Tsumugi nodded, agreeing “Yeah, good idea.”  She got up and told the fatigued high schooler “I’ll see you in class, Kiki.”

“Yeah, sweet dreams, Tsumugi.”

Kiki watched as Tsumugi smiled at her before turning around and walking out the door.  Once the door was shut, Kiki placed the diary on the bedside table and crawled under the covers.  Curled up and snug as a bug in a rug, she yawned one last time before closing her eyes, fading into her dreams.

Chapter Text

“Alright, ready to pick up where we left off, Kiki?”  Tsumugi asked as they both sat on her bed.

Kiki nodded and began to read from the open diary in her hands.

“After Miaya left to buy us time, your Aunt Hina walked for a bit through the halls before I stopped and…”

“Miss Gekkogahara…I hope she’s okay.”  Makoto lamented worriedly.

“Hey, she’s in better shape than you or me, that’s for sure.”  Hina reminded him before a sudden crash caught both of their attention.

“Yo.”  Juzo emerged from the wall, holding a long, metal pipe.

“Make a break for it, Asahina.”  Makoto told her as he stood protectively in front of his former classmate.  I stand a chance of survival against Juzo, she doesn’t!

Hina frowned, closing her eyes as she scolded “You should know what kinda girl I am by now.”

She opened her eyes and knelt down, picking up a metal bar from the floor in her hands.

“Hey, hold on.  What’re you doing?”  Makoto questioned worriedly as she walked in front of him with a smile.

“So, Mr. Man, you used to be an Ultimate Boxer, yeah?  What’s a brick house like you need with weapons?  Lame.”

Juzo smirked, clenching his left fist as he retorted “I save my fists for opponents who’re worth a damn.  For you though?  Nah.”

Is that really the truth?  Makoto wondered.  Could his Forbidden Action be throwing a punch?  Is that why he came after us with a weapon?  If that’s true, then that means…Hina’s safe from her Forbidden Action!

Makoto’s thoughts were interrupted as he charged at Hina, pipe in hand as he swung.  Hina dodged and attempted to counterswing, only for Juzo to parry, forcing her back with his strength.

“Why are you even doing all this?”  Makoto demanded, causing Juzo to narrow his eyes as he addressed the former luckster.

“Dumb enough to stand in the boss’ way, ya get taken off the board.  Munakata’s the future!”

He’s blindly loyal…  Makoto thought as Juzo bellowed and swung his pipe.

Hina dodged and swung her own weapon, catching it between the two prongs.  Juzo growled in frustration just before Ruruka jogged past them in a panic.

Director Ando?  What’s she doing…is that Director Kimura?!

Sure enough, a mutated Seiko Kimura barreled after Ruruka, inadvertently disarming both Hina and Juzo before knocking the former boxer to the ground.  Hina and Makoto stared in shock at the scene that just played before Seiko approached Hina.  As Hina stepped back cautiously, the sound of tires screeching echoed in their ears, causing them to turn and see Miaya rolling towards them.

“We’re back, ladies and germs!”  Monomi declared. 

Miaya’s monitor folded down as several cannons and other devices appeared from her wheelchair.

Whoa, where’d she get all that?!  Makoto thought incredulously.

“Fair warning, folks, this is gonna be big!  You probably oughta duck!”

“What?”  Hina exclaimed.

“We gotta get down!”  Makoto warned.

“Fire in the hole!”  Monomi bellowed before several missiles fired at Seiko, rattling the entire facility with an explosion.

“Boom!”  Monomi cheered.  “Now you probably oughta run!”

“Naegi, hop on!”  Hina ordered as she crouched down.

“Ano, yeah.  Good call.”  Makoto agreed as he climbed on Hina’s back.

“Wait, son of a…You gotta be kiddin’ me with this.  I’m startin’ to severely hate this guy’s lucky streak.  Can’t last forever.”  Makoto faintly heard Juzo’s frustrations as Hina raced through the halls, carrying him away from the carnage.

“Man, your dad just can’t seem to catch a break.”  Tsumugi commented.

“Yeah, though now I’m starting to see why his original talent was Ultimate Lucky Student.”

“Yeah.”  Tsumugi agreed.  “No matter how bad of a mess he’s in, he seems to find a way out of it at just the right time!  I just hope your mother didn’t have any close calls like that one.”

“Speaking of which, I wonder how her investigation went.”  Kiki wondered as she turned the page and began to read.  “I completed investigating Yukizome’s body and re-covered it with the jacket.  As I finished…”

“Have you learned anything useful?”  Koichi questioned.

Kyoko closed her eyes and stood up, answering “Yes.  Quite a bit.”

“Ahh.  Well, good for you.”  The former talent scout complimented.  “So do we have a plan yet?”

“I need to locate and examine Gozu’s body.”  Kyoko decided.  “It’ll tell me what I need to know about the Attacker’s MO.”  He was the one to die after the first time limit, after all.

“Okay.”  Koichi smiled, tipping his hat as Kyoko and Ryota walked towards the double doors before he commented “They said you were cold, but holy crap.”

He wordlessly followed the two out of the room, joining their party.  Kyoko acknowledged him with a glance but stayed silent as they walked through the halls.

“Well, here we are.”  Kyoko announced as she entered the room, her eyes focusing on the Great Gozu’s body.  This must be where Makoto fell asleep after the First Time Limit…  She realized as she recalled his admission that the Great Gozu was murdered.

As Ryota closed the door behind him and Koichi, Kyoko walked up to the Great Gozu’s corpse, only to be stopped as she felt a gentle hand on her shoulder.

“Whoa, there, not so fast.”  Koichi smiled at her as she turned to look incredulously at him before he advised “I know it’s important to investigate Gozu’s body, but we’re almost at the time limit.”  He held up his bangle as proof, explaining “I know you were the Ultimate Detective, but we don’t really have time to investigate.”

After a moment of contemplation, Kyoko sighed in resignation.

“I…suppose you’re right…in that case, we should all get comfortable before the sedative enters our bloodstream.”

The three each walked to a spot and sat down, leaning against the wall.  Kyoko tried to relax before Koichi grinned and held up his sake container.

“Anyone up for a drink before we go to sleep?”  Kyoko glared at him, causing Koichi to shrug.  “Suit yourselves.”

She watched as he awkwardly unscrewed the cover with his thumb before taking a gulp of alcohol.

Wouldn’t it be easier to hold it in one hand while opening it with the other…?  Kyoko wondered before she realized Wait…I don’t think I’ve seen him open his left hand since the game started…could that be his forbidden action?

Her thoughts were interrupted by a familiar jingle, followed by a pinching sensation against her wrist.

“Well…sweet dreams…Kiri…giri…”  Koichi yawned as he and Ryota closed their eyes and fell asleep.

It wasn’t long before Kyoko succumbed to the same wave of drowsiness, forced into slumber by the sedative as she closed her eyes.


“Two down…”  Kiki furrowed her brow as she pondered “That’s the second time she’s referenced how many time limits have passed.”

“You think there’s some kind of significance to it?”  Tsumugi wondered.

“There’d have to be, or else she wouldn’t think about it at all.  But I don’t know what it means…”

“Well, nothing we can do about it now…guess we just have to keep reading and find out.”

“Yeah, but not right away.  First up is Dad’s point of view.”  Kiki explained, pointing to the next paragraph before she continued reading.  “Eventually, Miaya, your Aunt Hina, and I found a room to stay in.  As we opened the door…”

“It…looks like someone’s office…”  Makoto observed as Hina closed the door behind her.  He glanced down at his bangle and stated “It’s almost time.  I’ll take the chair at that desk.”

Hina nodded and walked over to the nearby wall while Makoto took his spot at the desk.  As Hina sat down and slouched against the wall, Makoto rested his arms on the metal surface before placing his head against them.  Miaya meanwhile leaned back in her wheelchair, preparing for slumber.  Before any conversation could ensue, a familiar jingle rang from their bangles, followed by a pinching sensation against Makoto’s wrist.

Hina and Makoto yawned, their eyes feeling heavy as they closed.  The room faded to black as Makoto’ mind traveled to the world of dreams.

“I think this is a good stopping point, Tsumugi.”  Kiki decided as she replaced the bookmark and closed the diary.

“Oh…”  Tsumugi uttered in disappointment.  “I was kind of hoping it would be longer…”

Kiki smiled apologetically and replied “Sorry, I just have a feeling that the next section is gonna be really long, so I thought this was a good point to cut it off before we both fell asleep.”

“Yeah, you’re right.”  Tsumugi giggled.  “Well, I suppose I should…”

*Knock Knock*

“Huh?”  Kiki wondered as she put the diary in the beside drawer before she got off the bed.  “I wonder who that could be…” 

She walked over to the door, yawning as she opened it, rubbing her eye with her fist.

“Oh, Tojo-chan.”  Kiki yawned in surprise.

“Good evening, Naegi-chan.”  Kirumi greeted politely.

“What are you…all…doing here?”  Kiki asked as she noted several female classmates behind the devoted maid.  “It’s late.”

“Apologies for coming by unannounced, but I recalled that you contemplated the idea of getting to know the rest of your classmates with a slumber party…”

…Oh no…she didn’t…  Kiki groaned to herself as she realized where this was headed.

“So I took the liberty of organizing one tonight.  I also selected several popular party games that are universally enjoyable, yet pose little risk of disrupting the neighbors’ sleep.  In addition, I prepared several dishes of snacks for us to enjoy before we sleep.  Moreover, I provided the other girls with their own sleeping bags so you won’t have to worry about sleeping accommodations.”

…She did…  “Tojo-chan, you didn’t have to…”

“Though you may not have officially ordered it, you did request a slumber party, and I will make every reasonable effort to accommodate your request.”

“I…I don’t know…what if the headmaster finds out…”

“There are no school regulations against it, at least not to my knowledge.  And Headmaster Naegi does not seem like a strict man, therefore I see no reason why we would end up in trouble for a slumber party.”

“I think it’s a great idea, Kiki!”

“Tsumugi!”  Kiki uttered in surprise as she turned her head to the smiling cosplayer.

“She’s already brought everything; it would be a real shame to make them all leave now.”

“Well…”  Kiki sighed “Alright, as long as we keep it down, I suppose it’s alright.”

“I hope you will be satisfied with the completion of your request.”  Kirumi replied gratefully as she and the other girls filed in.

I’ll be satisfied if we don’t end up in Mom’s Office for this…  Kiki deadpanned before she closed the door behind them.  Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Putting all her worries behind her, Kiki began to converse with her new classmates, eagerly chatting and munching on snacks as Kirumi smiled in satisfaction.

Chapter Text

“Hopefully, your father had good dreams after that time limit…”  Tsumugi commented hopefully as Kiki opened the diary.

Kiki frowned as she admitted “As much as he deserved that, I don’t think he had the luxury.  I’m skimming the next page and it looks pretty dark.”


Kiki nodded and read “I had hoped that I could find some reprieve from the Final Killing Game in my dreams, but my luck didn’t kick in this time.  Instead, what I saw…”

Makoto groaned as his eyes opened and he sat up in his chair.  What he saw when he turned his head shocked him awake and horrified him to is very core.  Sitting in a chair next to him was Kyoko’s corpse, blood streaming down her bruised body as a knife lodged itself in her heart.

“Oh, Kami.”  Makoto gasped in anguish as he leapt out of his chair and kneeled before her.  “Oh, Kami!  Kyoko!  Kyoko, wake up!”

Makoto tried to shake her awake, as if she were merely sleeping, but to no avail.  His despairing cries were silenced as he turned his head to the sound of feet walking through her puddle of blood.  Standing in said puddle was Kyosuke Munakata, who merely looked down at the anguished young man.

“There is no one to blame but you.  Makoto Naegi.  What lines are you willing to cross to stand on the side of hope?  How badly do you want to see despair vanquished?  Coward.  Why did you turn?”

“That’s not what happened!”  Makoto cried as he closed his eyes, pleading Please, don’t let this be real!  “I only…I only wanted to help!”

“Hope cannot be built on platitudes.”  Kyosuke retorted as he pointed his katana at the grief-stricken man.

“They’re not just platitudes!”

“So terribly naïve.  Did you think this could be resolved without bloodshed?  Without lives being lost?”

“Yes, I did!”  Makoto insisted.  “There’s no reason she had to…!”

“This is not a game.”  Kyosuke interrupted.  “There are no rules for you to set a course by.  Hollow words are only good for rallying the rabble to a lost cause!”

At that moment, Kayoko’s corpse leaned to the side, startling Makoto as it glared at him with one glowing lavender eye still open.

“That’s the nature of reality.”

Kyoko, you…what are you…no, this isn’t real…NOOOOOOO!

“AH!”  Makoto yelled as his eyes opened, his face dripping in a terrified sweat.

“Naegi!”  Makoto heard Hina exclaim from behind as he gasped for breath.  She walked up to him, concern all over her face as she asked “You okay?  What is it?”

“It was just a dream.” Makoto muttered.  Just a dream…Kyoko’s still alive…for now, anyway…

“Well, that’s a relief!” Hina sighed with a relieved smile.  “Oh, man!  Must’ve been one heck of a dream, though!  Scared me there for a sec.”

“Me too!”  Monomi exclaimed.  “The way you were thrashing around.”

Makoto finally stood up from his chair and turned around to face his new friends before he asked “Is, ano…is everybody safe?”

“You bet’cha!”  Hina assured him excitedly.  “We got Ultimate Good Luck on our side!”  Makoto gave a sigh that echoed a mix of relief and despair, causing Hina to frown as she asked “Ano.  Something wrong?”

“I’m glad the three of us are okay.  But while we were all asleep, the Attacker must’ve gotten someone.”  Makoto pointed out.  Who…who could’ve died?  Was it really Kyoko like in my dream?  Or was it someone else…?

“Uh?”  Hina and Monomi gasped before sighing in disappointment, realizing that Makoto was right.

“Well…”  Monomi began hesitantly.  “If you really want to know, you can connect me via the USB cable in
my chair to the monitor, and I can access the surveillance camera network.”

“You can do that?!”  Hina exclaimed as she and Makoto gasped in surprise.

“That’s right!”  Monomi exclaimed proudly.  “You probably won’t like what you see, but if it’ll help stop this killing game, I’ll be happy to!”

Makoto and Hina looked at each other before they reluctantly nodded.

“Okay, what do we do?”  Makoto asked.  I need to know…if Kyoko’s still alive…and if she is…then who was murdered instead.

“Wow, you weren’t kidding when you said your father’s dream was dark!”  Tsumugi exclaimed.  “It could give any modern survival horror game a run for its money!”

Kiki nodded, commenting “Yeah, Dad’s always been susceptible to nightmares, especially ones resulting from traumas like that.  I still sometimes get woken up by the screams of his occasional night terror.”

“It’s too bad your mom wasn’t there to help him, but at least your Aunt Hina was there to make him feel better.”

“Yeah, though in a killing game, there’s not much you can say to cheer someone up.  That’s usually Dad’s thing, and if he’s distraught, it’s not so easy to brighten his mood.”

“Yeah, I can see that.”  Tsumugi admitted.  “Hopefully your mom didn’t have any bad dreams.”

“It’s not in the next section from her point of view, so it doesn’t look like it.”  Kiki informed her before she began to read.  “I was just waking up from the sedative when my eyes tiredly focused on the Great Gozu’s corpse in front of me.  As I laid my hand over my right eye to support my head…”

“Third time.”  Kyoko muttered.  “Looks like we’re all still intact.”

As Koichi yawned and Ryota opened his eyes, Kyoko knelt in front of the Great Gozu’s body and removed his mask.  Once she set it reverently aside, she took out a sheet of parchment from her jacket and draped it over his face, obscuring it out of respect.  Koichi frowned, kneeling with Ryota as he removed his fedora in mourning for his deceased colleague.

“Is…Is that, ano…?”

“Gozu, yes.”  Kyoko answered Ryota’s question as she got to work.  “The Attacker’s second victim, poor devil.”

“What a way to go.”  Ryota muttered before he closed his eyes and Koichi replaced his fedora.

“Well, what do we do now?”  Koichi asked, smiling as he held up his sake container.  “Drink to our continued survival?”  “Huh?”  Koichi asked with a mixture of confusion and disappointment as Kyoko grunted.

Once she stood up, she explained “There’s likely a third victim waiting to be found.  I suggest we go look.”

“Oh, yeah.  Sounds great.”  Koichi chuckled unenthusiastically.

Kyoko sighed and walked away as she told him curtly “Just stay out of my way, Kizakura.”

“Alright, alright, I’m coming!”  Koichi called as he got to his feet and jogged after her.

“Hey, wait for me!”  Ryota cried as he too stood up and ran after them.

“So why’re we doin’ this?”  Koichi asked as they wandered the halls.  “To out the Attacker?”  He smiled at the serious detective as he assured her “Mind you, I’m not questioning your methods.”  He raised the rim of his fedora with his finger as he inquired “How many bodies you need to figure it out, though?”

Kyoko exhaled through her nose, but otherwise not even acknowledging Koichi’s question.

He let his fedora fall back on his head as he continued “You know what’s funny?  I read once detectives are why murderers exist.  Makes sense in a warped kind of way.  Barring crimes of passion, you gotta figure most are in it to one-up some know-it-all.”

Are you going to spend the rest of this game gossiping about my profession, Kizakura?  Kyoko thought, exasperated as she came to a stop.

“Oo.  Ha, ha.  Eh…”

“What are you trying to say?”

“Don’t listen to me.  I’m kiddin’.”  He circled around her as he explained “Look, a buddy of mine hates detectives, like seriously hates ‘em.  Probably rubbed off on me.”

“You have a buddy?”  Your last buddy was my father, and even if you’re referring to the bad blood between him and Grandfather, my father is long dead, Kizakura.

“Nobody special.  Not exactly germane to the story, ‘kay?”

I can tell you’re avoiding the question, Kizakura.

“Humble advice from a former teacher?”  Koichi offered.  “It’d do you some good to break outta that logical mindset now and again.  I realize the world of human emotion can get murky, but still.”

Kyoko sighed in exasperation, thinking dryly Is he commenting on my and Makoto’s working relationship?  This is neither the time, nor the place to deal with my rekindled love for him.

“There you go.  Didn’t that feel good?”  Koichi questioned in good humor.

“Sure.”  Kyoko replied sarcastically.  “Are you following me?”

“Uh, do what?  So now I’m following you if I happen to be walkin’ in the same direction?”

She turned to her right and told him exasperatedly “Fine.  Then I’ll go this way, thank you.”

With a roll of his eyes, Koichi followed after his friend’s daughter, leaving Ryota to catch up to them.

As they rounded the corner, Kyoko’s eyes slightly widened, causing her to jog ahead.  Once Ryota caught up to her, he screamed in horror as they saw the sight of the now deceased Sonosuke Izayoi, sitting in front of some rubble with a knife in his chest.

“A single knife wound to the chest.”  Kyoko observed as she knelt in front of Sonosuke’s corpse.

“I’m assuming the Attacker did this.”  Ryota uttered in fear as Kyoko took out a notebook and started jotting down in it.

“Hey!”  Koichi called as he jobbed up to them, only to stop in his tracks at the sight of the corpse in front of them.  “Well, that doesn’t look healthy.”  He deadpanned as he took of his fedora and held it to his chest.

“W…We found the latest victim.”  Ryota stated.

“Huh.  I wouldn’t be so sure.”  Kyoko gasped in surprise as Koichi hesitantly asked “Could you maybe…come with me for just a sec, please?”

“Whatever it is, we don’t have time.”  Ryota insisted, causing Koichi to sigh.

“Ano, yeah.  The clock’s not really on anyone’s side here.”

…Kizakura’s rarely this serious…  Kyoko considered.  If he’s insisting that his is urgent, it must be important.  Besides, as strange as it sounds, it could be just the clue we need for our investigation.  “This better not be a waste of time, Kizakura.”

“Wait, so we’re actually…?”

Kyoko turned to the protesting Ryota and stated “As a detective, I need to consider all the evidence.  If Kizakura has a vital piece of evidence to show, then we need to see it.”

Koichi smiled grateful and offered “Well then, follow me.”

Without another word, Kyoko and Ryota followed Kizakura, curious as to what discovery he made.

“…Your mother’s relationship with Kizakura seems incredibly complex.”  Tsumugi concluded.

“Yeah, that’s my mom’s side of the family in a nutshell.”  Kiki agreed.  “The Naegis were a normal, united family.  The Kirigiris on the other hand, were incredibly split, and their relationships were filled with strife.”

“I see…that must have been really hard for your mom.”

“It was.”  Kiki informed her.  “Meeting my dad was the first time in years that Mom got to be a normal teenager and feel loved by people she could consider family.  I think…she made sure we were close, because she didn’t want me to grow up like she had, bitter and alone…”

Tsumugi nodded in understanding before she commented “Well, at least she trusted Kizakura enough to see what he had found, even if he got on her nerves half the time.”

Kiki giggled “yeah, let’s find out what he found, shall we?”  As Tsumugi nodded, Kiki turned the page and continued to read “We walked a short distance away from Izayoi’s body.  What he found was…”

Ryota gasped in horror as Kyoko stared seriously at Seiko Kimura’s corpse.

“This young lady also has a single knife wound to the chest.”  Koichi explained as he held his fedora against his chest.  “Seems to be the Attacker’s preferred MO.”

“A…Ano…”  Ryota stammered in confusion.  “I thought only one person was supposed to be killed at a time.  This doesn’t make any sense!  We’re all members of the Future Foundation.”

Mitarai has a point.  Kyoko realized.  Monokuma stated the Attacker would only have enough time to kill one person, yet we have two victims in the same timeframe with extremely similar causes of death.  Either Monokuma broke his own rules, which wouldn’t be the first time…  Kyoko shook away the memory of Makoto’s brush with death before she refocused …Or there’s a copycat.

As Ryota struggled not to vomit Koichi sighed “Damn shame.  Well, blame the traitor.”  As Kyoko took notes and Ryota ran away to vomit away from the scene, Koichi commented “Somebody clearly identifies more with the Remnants.  So, spill the beans.  You got yourself a favorite suspect yet?”

Suddenly a nearby door opened, cutting off their conversation as a terrified Ruruka peeked out.

“Please, you gotta help me!  I’m begging you!”

Kyoko glared suspiciously at Ruruka before Ryota asked “What happened?  Director Ando, what’s wrong?”

“It…it’s Yoi!”  She cried.  “We were together before the time limit, but when he woke up, he was gone!  I can’t find him anywhere!”

“Oh, ano…about Director Izayoi…”  Ryota stammered, struggling to come up with the words to tell Ruruka the truth.

“…Izayoi is already dead.”

“Dead?!”  Ruruka gasped, tears threatening to escape her eyes.  “My Yoi is…dead…?”

Koichi frowned, nodding sympathetically as he confirmed “It’s true.  Kirigiri and Mitarai found his body just a little bit ago.”

“Please…”  Ruruka pleaded “…Can you…can you bring him in here?  I’d like to…pay my last respects.”

“…Very well, I suppose that would be acceptable.”  Kyoko agreed, surprising her two colleagues.  “It’ll give me more room to investigate his body for clues.  Kizakura, Mitarai, would you two please retrieve Director Izayoi’s corpse?  I’ll finish investigating Director Kimura’s body in the meanwhile.”

“Ano…sure…”  Koichi agreed hesitantly before he and Ryota walked away.

“I’ll…stay in here until you get back.”  Ruruka whimpered before she hid back in the room she peeked out of.

As Kyoko continued her investigation, her brow furrowed in suspicion.

Something’s off about this…two lovers fall asleep together after the time limit, one of them leaves before the other, and we just happen to stumble upon their corpse?  There’s something more going on here…could Ando be…huh?

Kyoko’s thoughts trailed off as her eyes focused on a cylinder in Seiko’s clawed hand.  With some effort, she managed to pry it from the deceased pharmacists grasp before she inspected it.

Cure W…obviously it’s some kind of medicine, but for what?  I never heard of her division creating something like this.  So…what did she…?

“Hey, Kirigiri, we got Izayoi!”  Koichi called as he and Ryota carried the deceased blacksmith’s body.

“You coming?”  Ryota asked as Kyoko hurriedly stuffed the container in her jacket.

“Yes, I’ll be right there.”  She told them before she stood up and walked after them, closing the door behind her as they rested the body on the floor of the room.

A library…  Kyoko observed before she approached Sonosuke’s body.  Alright…  She thought as she stretched her gloves.  Time to get to work!

“Was…your mother suspicious of Ando?”

“Well, she is right.”  Kiki admitted.  “For all those events to happen in such close proximity to each other…I don’t think it’s so simple as Ando was leading on.  And something else is bothering me.”  Tsumugi stared curiously as Kiki explained “What was that container Mom picked up?  It must be significant, or she wouldn’t have written about it in the diary.  What did Kimura create before she was killed?”

“Wow, Kiki, you’re really thinking like a true detective!”  Tsumugi’s eyes sparkled as she gushed “You could even give Saihara-kun a run for his money!”

“I wouldn’t go that far.”  Kiki giggled.  “Saihara-kun is much more of a professional than I am.  He’s training to do this stuff, like Mom did when she was a little girl.  I’m just making observations.”

“Still, you could totally have a knack for this!”  Tsumugi insisted.

“I’ll think about it…” Kiki giggled before she suggested “Why don’t we keep reading?”  She turned the page and noted “It looks like the next scene is from Dad’s point of view.”  She took a deep breath before reading “After I pulled the USB cord out of the port from Gekkogahara’s wheelchair, I walked up to the monitor and…”

“There.”  Makoto grunted as he stood on his toes, connecting the cord into the monitor.

“This how we’re s’posed to do it?”  Hina asked as she knelt next to Miaya.

“Perfect!”  Monomi confirmed.  “Well done!  One moment while I peruse the surveillance camera network.  Yoo-hoo, latest victim, where are you?”

I…don’t think they’re gonna answer…  Makoto deadpanned Miaya’s monitor changed to a surveillance feed.   Makoto and Hina stared intently as the video feeds cycled before he gasped “Stop!”

Miaya zoomed in, revealing the slumped corpse of Chairman Kazuo Tengan.

“Chairman Tengan…”  Makoto breathed in sorrowful shock.  “It…it can’t be.”  You said you’d be fine!

Makoto stumbled backwards before his knees buckled, causing him to fall on his rear.

“This wasn’t the Attacker.”  Monomi pointed out.  “Tengan’s wounds indicate the use of a katana.”  Her ears drooped as she concluded “Munakata must’ve finally killed him.  I’m so terribly sorry.”

“Naegi?”  Hina asked worriedly as Makoto shook with anger and sorrow.

“I thought if we just talked it out, we could…we could come to an understanding, without people dying.”  Makoto wept, hanging his head.  It’s my fault…Chairman Tengan is dead, because of my stupid idea!  “I really did.  Everything I did…there was no point to any of it.”

“Hey, c’mon…”

“That’s not true and you know it!”  Monomi interjected, cutting Hina off.  “It’s in your nickname for cryin’ out loud!  You of all people know how infectious hope can be!  Watching you try your very best, my whole outlook on the situation has changed!  And as someone who’s benefitted from your unflappable attitude, now it’s my turn to give back a smidge of that same hope!”

Makoto sat up, now paying close attention to Monomi’s pep talk.

“I’ll be the first to admit things aren’t going so well right now.  But so what?  It’ll get better before the end.  I’ve never been so sure of anything in my entire life!”

“Me, neither.”  Hina agreed, turning to Makoto with pumped fists and an encouraging smile.  “Everything’s gonna turn out for the best.”

Are…are you sure about that…?  Makoto wondered skeptically as he bowed his head.

“Wait.”  Monomi exclaimed, catching their attention.  “Take a closer look at the body.”

Makoto and Hina watched as Monomi zoomed the camera feed, causing them to notice several kanji written in blood next to Kazuo’s leg.

A dying message!  Makoto exclaimed in his mind as Hina read aloud the message.

“I entrust the hope of the world to you.  Whoa.  He had to mean Naegi, right?”

“That couldn’t have been addressed to me.”  Makoto gasped in denial.  It can’t be…right?

“Why not?”  Hina countered.  “It’s a heavy burden, sure, but you don’t have to carry it alone.”

I don’t have to…carry it…alone…?

“I can help, too, you know!”  Monomi interjected.  “That’s what being soul mates is all about!”

Makoto closed his eyes before he smiled and stood up.

“You’re absolutely right.”  He replied once he stood up.  After Hina stood up, he continued “I just have to stop thinking like a lone wolf.” 

He rested his hand against his heart as he closed his eyes, recalling various moments from the Killing School Life.

“When I fought Junko Enoshima, it certainly wasn’t a one-man show.”  He chuckled “I…I have to remember I’m not in this alone.”

“Of course not.”  Hina agreed, smiling at her friend.

“We’ll pull through together.  As a team.”  Makoto vowed as they turned to look at Miaya.

“All right, thinking caps on.”  Hina pondered “How do we beat whoever it is at their own game?”

“Ideally, we’d find and put a stop to the Attacker before he or she strikes again.”  Monomi interjected.  “Precisely how, I’m not sure.”

“That’s an easy one!”  Hina proclaimed.  “Punch their friggin’ lights out!  Yeah!”  She then paused, her brain catching up to her as she tapped her bangle.  “Oh, right, our Forbidden Actions.  I hate this game so much.”

No argument there.  Makoto thought before a light bulb turned on in his head.  “Wait.  What did you just say?”

Confused, Hina repeated “Oh, ano.  I said I hate this game.  I mean, the rules make it impossible to win.  It’s totally rigged.”

“The rules…of the game.”  Makoto mused.

“Yet for all that heroism, you only won because it was no more than a game.  Out here, things aren’t so cut and dry.  In the real world, there are no rules.”

“Guys, that’s it!”  I never thought I’d be getting an idea from Munakata’s cynicism!  Makoto questioned excitedly “Why are we playing Monokuma’s game in the first place?  It’s so simple!  We just need to shut it down!”

“What’re you talking about?”  Hina asked, confused by Makoto’s idea.

“Any of us are free to leave whenever we feel like it!”  Makoto pointed out.

“Uh, yeah, but correct me if I’m wrong; I thought we confirmed all the exits were sealed.”  Hina reminded him as she pointed to her head.

“Who cares when we can just make our own exit?!”  Makoto pointed out.  “We can do it.  This isn’t like the last time.  The rules don’t say anything about busting our way out.”

“A-ha!”  Hina exclaimed as she finally understood what Makoto was getting at.

“There’s got to be something we can use lying around.  All we have to do is get through the walls!”

“Or perhaps we could have someone else break them down from outside.”  Monomi exclaimed, using Makoto’s idea as a springboard.

“From outside?”  Makoto wondered.

“Heave-ho!”  Monomi exclaimed as she pulled up the map of the facility.  “We’ll use the Monitoring Room!  I’ll hack into the comm network and get us in touch with our Future Foundation comrades on the mainland!  They’ll have the resources to help!”

Comrades…like Byakuya!  “That’s genius!”  Makoto complimented.  “See what happens when you think outside the box?”

“Yeah, we were so caught up trying to abide by the rules, it didn’t occur to us to look for loopholes.”  Hina mused.  “Nice work, Miss Gekkogahara!  You’re a Warrior of Hope!”

Maybe don’t use that exact phrase…  Makoto sweatdropped, recalling the footage he had seen of Komaru’s battle against Monaca and her former comrades.

“Oh, yeah!  Darn tootin’ I am!”  Monomi agreed.

“What are we waitin’ for?  Let’s call for help!”  Hina exclaimed.

“One moment, please, while I calculate the most efficient route!”

Makoto nodded, replying “Right.  Let’s go!”  We’re not gonna play the mastermind’s game anymore!  We’re bustin’ outta here!

“Wow, I never thought the answer to their problems would be to just leave!”  Tsumugi exclaimed.  “It’s so simple, but so genius!”

“Well, sometimes the most complicated problems have the simplest solutions.”  Kiki frowned as she pondered Still…I wonder if the answer really was as simple as just leaving…

“Hm?  Kiki, is something wrong?”

“Oh, it’s nothing, Tsumugi, just lost in thought.”

“Ah, okay.  Well, I bet they found a way out once they regrouped with your mom!”

“…Speaking of which, I wonder how her investigation was going…”  Kiki pondered before she turned the page and continued reading.  Kizakura, Mitarai, and I had just entered the library.  Mitarai was consoling Ando while I was beginning to properly investigate Izayoi’s body…

“I can’t believe Yoi’s dead.”  Ruruka wailed as she shook Ryota by the shoulders.  “You don’t understand.  What’ll I do on my own?  I’m helpless!”

Kyoko did her best to tune out Ruruka’s wailing as she inspected some powder that rubbed off on her gloves.

Meanwhile, Ryota awkwardly apologized “I’m…sorry…” before Ruruka stepped back in fear, holding her arms protectively over her chest.

“Please, oh please, tell me you’re not the ones behind this!”

This seems incredibly emotional…  Kyoko mused.  This could very well be an act…

Kyoko flashed back to Sayaka’s intense cries during the Killing School Life as Ruruka questioned “Are you the Attacker?  Am I gonna die?”

“No!  Of course not.”  Ryota assured her, causing Ruruka to sigh in relief.

She folded her hands and stared intensely into Ryota’s eyes, startling him as she exclaimed “I believe you.  Look, can I be a part of your group?  I really can’t do anything on my own.  So, you know…”

“I, ano…”  Ryota stammered hesitantly, turning his head pleadingly towards Kyoko for guidance.

“You heard the girl.”  Koichi answered as he sat comfortably on the couch across from Kyoko, who was recording notes in her notebook.

“It’s not as though we can just leave her here.”  Ryota reasoned.

I have a bad feeling about this, but I don’t have any evidence to deny her company.  “Then we don’t have a choice.”  Kyoko sighed, causing Ryota to sigh in relief.

“Thank you.”

Ruruka turned to Ryota tearfully as he told her “Of course.”

“Can we maybe go to a different room now?”  She asked.  “I’m sorry.  I can’t bear to see him like this anymore.”

“Don’t apologize.  I…I wasn’t thinking.”  Ryota replied before Kyoko dashed Ruruka’s hopes.

“We’re staying.”  Why the rush to leave?  “There are several things I still need to ascertain before moving on.” As tears welled in Ruruka’s eyes, Kyoko turned to face her and stated resolutely “I intend to avenge Izayoi’s murder.  Will you help me?”  If you cooperate, I’ll know whether or not I can trust you, like Makoto trusted Sayaka.

Ruruka hesitantly nodded, satisfying Kyoko for the time being.

“Wow, your mom really didn’t trust Ando, huh?”

“Well, Mom was still learning how to trust, and given the circumstances, I can’t really blame her for keeping her trust close to her chest.”  Kiki justified.  “Anyway, what I’m curious about is why Ando was so eager to leave.  I get it must be hard to see your lover’s dead body, but like Mom said, this was a chance to avenge his death.  I’d think Ando would have been on board with that.”

“Hm, good point.”  Tsumugi admitted.  “Personally, I’m curious to find out how your dad’s plan went.”

Kiki nodded and turned the page, exclaiming “Oh, looks like the next page starts with his perspective.”  She continued to read “Once we got to the monitoring room, we started connecting Miaya’s wheelchair to the main computer, following Monomi’s instructions.  Once we connected all the wires…”

“Cool.  Are we good?”  Hina asked.

“If I can hook up the network cable, we’re golden.  Now cross your fingers and let’s make some magic happen!”  Monomi exclaimed “Come on, baby!  Make momma proud!  Oh!  Yeah!  We have connectivity!”

“Well that was easy.”  Makoto uttered.

“Hailing frequencies are open, Captain.”  Monomi announced before the screen turned to static and a dial-up tone echoed from the speakers.

Wow, old-school…  Makoto deadpanned before he and Hina knelt in front of Miaya’s screen.  “Um, hello?  Can anyone hear me?  This is…”

“Read you loud and clear.”

“Byakuya?”  Makoto asked in slight surprise as the former Ultimate Affluent Progeny’s face appeared on the now clear screen.

“Pleasure to hear from you.”  He pushed his glasses up his nose as he observed “Even if you do appear a bit harried.  What’s wrong?”  Byakuya’s eyes narrowed in recollection as he asked “Ah.  Aren’t you on trial or some nonsense?”

“Things are complicated.”  Makoto replied, causing Byakuya to hum.

“I’ll need a bit more detail than that, please.”

“So, a Mutual Killing game?”  Byakuya asked as he picked up his tea.

“Wait, you…you didn’t know?”  Makoto asked, surprised.  “But Monokuma told us it was being televised, just like last time.”

“I assure you, there has been no such program.”  Byakuya replied before he took a sip of his tea.  “It would be very intensive.  I don’t believe the Remnants have the wherewithal these days.”  Byakuya suddenly gasped, his eyes narrowing as he realized “No.  Scratch that.  One of my little birds reported back.  A Future Foundation peacekeeping squad is en route to a certain island as we speak.  But, for some reason, none of the other branches have been informed.”

Jabberwock?!  Makoto exclaimed mentally.  “Are they headed where I think they are?”

“Indeed.  Jabberwock Island.”

“But…who would possibly send them there?”  Makoto pondered in a panic.

“The peacekeeping squad answers directly to the Vice Chairman.  Ergo, we may reasonably deduce whatever the meeting’s outcome, Kyosuke Munakata means to treat the inhabitants of said island as Remnants of Despair.”

No!  Hajime and the others!  But we worked to hard to cure them, and they’ve come so far!  “So everyone here’s in danger.”

“I think we may further postulate a connection between this operation and what’s happening to you.  As you might imagine, I don’t like this one bit.  I thought it best to deploy my own forces.  They shall reach you momentarily.”

Finally, a light at the end of the tunnel!  Makoto held in his sigh of relief as he replied gratefully “Thank you.  Just…be careful.”  Hopefully Hajime and the others will be alright…

“I’ll let Fukawa into the loop.  Kirigiri is there with you, correct?”

“Yep!”  Hina exclaimed cheerfully “It’s time for the 78th graduating class to reunite!”

“Well, mostly.”  Makoto pointed out.  Hiro’s still out on the landing pad.  “There’s someone we’re forgetting.”

“I would not call this a good time.”  Byakuya reminded them dryly.

“Honestly, we’re just glad you’re coming.”  Makoto told him as he scratched his cheek.  “We can hold out.”

“I meant for Monokuma and his excellency, Vice Chairman Munakata.”  Byakuya clarified, causing Makoto and Hina to gasp in surprise.  “You’re quick on your feet, tenacious, and singularly fortunate.  I’d sooner cavort with sharks than risk making an enemy of you.”

Did…did Byakuya just make a straightforward compliment?  Makoto wondered, not used to praise from the former heir that wasn’t qualified with phrases like for a commoner.

“Good luck.”  Byakuya finished before disconnecting the call.

“Your party has been disconnected.”  Monomi announced as she popped back up on the screen.

Hina gave an impressed hum as they stood up before she said with surprise “He was so reassuring.  That was nice of him, huh?”

“Yeah, must be turning over a new leaf.”  Makoto chuckled.

“The guy still has a way with words, though!”  Hina giggled, causing Makoto to join her in laughter.

Once they stopped, their smiles turned to serious expressions as Makoto vowed We’re all in this together.  And that’s how we can survive.  With my friends at my side, however bad things get, we’ll move forward one step at a time.  I may not know what’s waiting for us, but…we’ll keep going.  Come what may.  That’s what hope does.  It charges ahead.

“I always wondered what your Uncle Byakuya was like.”  Tsumugi admitted.  “I’ve heard his name a handful of times in your house, but I’ve never once met him.”

“Yeah, Byakuya’s not exactly the type to visit often.  We normally only see him at extended family gatherings, like Christmas.”

“Ah, I get it.  Is he always so serous, though?”

“Yeah, he’s not exactly the good-humored type, though apparently he mellowed out a bit after meeting my dad.  He’s still not someone who came to babysit a lot as kids, but he’s family.”

Tsumugi nodded as she mused “Well, in any case, it looks like help was finally on the way for them!”

“Yeah, hopefully they got there before anyone else died.”  Kiki sighed as she replaced the bookmark and closed the diary.  “Anyway, it’s late and I’m tired.  I need to catch some sleep.”

“Yeah…me too…”  Tsumugi yawned as she swung her legs over the bed and stood up.  “See you tomorrow, Kiki.”

“Yeah…good night, Tsumugi.”  Kiki yawned, placing the diary on her bedside table as Tsumugi drowsily lumbered out of the room, closing the door behind her.

Feeling slumber fast approaching, Kiki crawled under the covers and curled under the blankets.  Her heavy eyelids closed with one last yawn as Kiki slipped into her dreams.

Chapter Text

“Okay, so what happened next?”  Tsumugi wondered “Are we picking up with your mother’s investigation?  Or did your dad get another video call from your Uncle Byakuya?”

“Let me see…”  Kiki hummed as she flipped through the pages until she reached her bookmark.  “Ah, looks like it’s still Dad’s point of view.”  Her eyes focused on the top of the page as she began to read “With news that your Uncle Byakuya was coming to our rescue, your Aunt Hina, Gekkogahara, and I decided to wait in the monitoring room.  A while passed and…”

“Kinda strange for Togami to be late, isn’t it?”  Hina mused as she munched on a mini-donut.

Makoto turned at the sound of Miaya’s wheelchair as she moved rather erratically.

“Miss Gekkogahara?”  Makoto asked in concern.

“Are you feeling okay?”  Hina inquired.

“Big brother!”

Wait…is that…?  Makoto gasped as the familiar voice continued to speak.

“Makoto?  Come in!  Are you there?”  The screen shifted from static to reveal Monomi, who warned “Listen to me very carefully.  The person in front of you right now isn’t real.  Quite a twist, huh?”

“What is going on?”  Makoto asked, baffled.  You mean…that’s not Gekkogahara?

“Hold on a minute, you never said Gekkogahara was your little sister!”  Hina exclaimed with shock.

“What?  No!”  Makoto denied.  “She’s not I…I don’t…”

“I think we’re patched in.  Okay.  I’ll get in touch with Master Byakuya.”

Wait, why’s Monomi talking like Toko now?  Makoto wondered.

“You talk to your brother.  Tell him what she said.”

Makoto’s eyes widened in relieved shock as the screen slowly changed, revealing Komaru’s face.

Komaru!  So that’s who was speaking through Monomi!


Komaru smiled as she exclaimed “Nice, we got video.”  She waved as she greeted “Hey, big brother!  Can you see me?”

“Hey, Komaru!”  Makoto greeted joyfully as he knelt in front of Miaya and gripped the screen, wanting to hug his long-lost sister after the years long separation.  “Lookin’ good there, sis!  Ha!”  He suddenly frowned as he started to question “Wait a second.  Why are you inside…?  What’s going on?”

“So, yeah, ano…”  Komaru began hesitantly.  “We just got some kind of bad news actually.”

Bad news…?

“Listen to me.  Monaca’s not behind this, but she did tell us someone’s gonna die ‘cause of you!”

Someone’s…gonna die…because of me…?  Makoto thought in horror.

“Brace yourself.  She said it’ll be somebody from the first game.  One of the survivors from Hope’s Peak Academy won’t make it out of there alive.”

“But how could she know that?”  Makoto questioned in disbelief.  “It just doesn’t make any sense at all!”

“I wish I knew more, I really do.  All I can say is Monaca told us like it was something she knew for a fact.  I…I’m sorry.  It might be a trick, but still!”

As Makoto shakily got to his feet, Hina hesitantly noted “Hagakure, Togami, and Fukawa are all outside, so it’s a safe bet she wasn’t talking about one of them.”

“Somebody’s gonna die…because of me…”  Makoto breathed.  It’s unlikely it’s me…which narrows it down to two people.  Hina…  He glanced at the former swimmer, someone who had been one of his best friends through thick and thin.  Or…Kyo…Kyou…Kyoko…

Kyoko’s wavy, lavender hair, hard, yet gentle eyes, and her soft smile that seemed almost reserved solely for him flashed in his mind.

No!  I…I can’t lose her!  She’s my…she’s my world!  I can’t let her die!

“Oh, wow, now that’s intense!”  Tsumugi exclaimed.  “You really think Monaca was telling the truth?”

“I…I don’t know…”  Kiki admitted.  How could she know?  More importantly, how could one of them have died because of Dad?  He…he wouldn’t ever hurt either of them!  Could…could it have to do with Mom’s forbidden action…?  Does it have to do with Dad, like I thought…?  I…I just don’t know!

“Personally, I think she was lying to get under their skins.”


Kiki turned curiously to Tsumugi, who smiled and told her friend “Think about it, all six survivors of the Killing School Life are still here today, so Monaca was either wrong, or she lied to them.”

I…I hope you’re right, Tsumugi…I really do…  Hiding her skepticism, Kiki smiled and nodded, replying “Thanks, Tsumugi.  Let’s…”

*Knock Knock*

“Huh?”  Kiki wondered, confused as the knocking at her door echoed in her ears.  “Who could that be?”

Kiki glanced at Tsumugi, who denied “Don’t look at me, I didn’t invite anyone!”

“But then who…?”  Kiki sighed in exasperation as she replaced the bookmark and closed the diary.

Once she put it back in the bedside drawer, she swung her legs over the bedside and stood up.

As she lumbered towards the door, she muttered “I swear, if Tojo-chan started another slumber party without asking me…”

“You know she was just trying to help you out…”  Tsumugi pointed out before Kiki glared at her momentarily.

“In the middle of the night without asking me first!  And you encouraged her!”

“Hey, you had fun, didn’t you?”

“That’s not the point!”  Kiki sighed in exasperation, pinching the bridge of her nose as she opened her door.  “Tojo-chan, if you’ve organized another impromptu slumber party, the answer is no.  We got lucky last time; I don’t wanna get in trouble with the Vice-Headmistress…oh, Saihara-kun…”

Kiki blushed in embarrassment as Shuichi stood in front of her door dressed in black pajamas, his expression hesitant as he shakily held a couple of books in his arms.

“Naegi-chan…is…is this a bad time?  I know it’s late, but…”

“Oh…no, it’s not that late.  What’s the matter, Saihara-kun?”

“Well, ano…you remember when we were studying for our literature test in the library?”  Kiki nodded before Shuichi held up one of the books and explained “After I got back to my room…I looked inside the cover, and I think we grabbed each other’s books by mistake.”

“Really?  Mind if I see that?”

Shuichi shook his head, allowing Kiki to take the book and inspect the front cover.  Sure enough, when Kiki opened the front cover, her name stood out in a slightly messy, handwritten scrawl.

“I think you’re right.  Sorry, I must have been scatterbrained when I was scrambling to get all my stuff ready for the next class.”  Kiki giggled.  “Hang on, let me check my bag.”

As Shuichi nodded, Kiki ran back into her room and ran to her closet.  Once she opened the doors, she sifted through her closet until she pulled out her backpack.  Tsumugi stared curiously as Kiki unzipped her backpack, searching its depths with her hand until she pulled out a book.

“Let’s see…”  She muttered as she flipped to the front cover.  “Saihara…Shuichi…” 

She instantly stood up before she turned and walked back to the waiting Shuichi.

She smiled as she held the book in front of him, offering “Here you go, Saihara-kun.  Trade.”

“Yeah…trade.  Thanks again, Naegi-chan.  Sorry about the mix-up.”

“Ah, it’s all good.”  Kiki assured him.  “Was there something else you wanted?”  Kiki asked, noting how Shuichi was nervously biting his lip.

“Well…ano…there’s this little chemistry concept I’m having trouble grasping.  I know it’s late, but would you mind having a late-night study session?  I could really use the help.”

“Oh…sure, I don’t see why not.”  She turned to Tsumugi as she apologized “Sorry, we’ll have to cut it short tonight, unless you want to study chemistry with us.”

“Oh.”  Shuichi held up his hands apologetically as he interjected “If you had other plans, then…”

“It’s okay.”  Kiki giggled.  “Tsumugi and I were just having some girl time, but it’s nothing urgent.”  There’s no way I can tell him about Mom and Dad’s diary…at least not right now.

Tsumugi nodded, assuring him “Yeah, we’ll just pick up tomorrow.”  She turned to Kiki and winked before teasing “Have fun on your study date with Saihara-kun!”

“…It’s not a date…”  Kiki grumbled as Tsumugi sauntered out.  She pinched the bridge of her nose in exasperation before she looked at the blushing Shuichi and apologized with a smile “Sorry about her, Saihara-kun.  Come in, come in.”

Kiki stepped aside as Shuichi walked in, noting “I like your room.  It’s very feminine with a dash of otaku culture.”

Kiki giggled “Thanks, I’m glad you like it.  I brought some of my favorite mangas from home, and one of my video game systems with a few of my favorite games.  If you want, maybe another time we can play a video game or I can introduce you to one of my favorite mangas sometimes.”

“Ano…thanks, I’ll consider it…”  Shuichi replied appreciatively before he sat down on the floor.

As he crossed his legs and put his books in front of him, Kiki followed suit, opening her chemistry book.

“Now, what chapter is this concept you needed help with?  Maybe if we put our heads together, we can solve this case!”

Shuichi chuckled in nervous amusement before he began “Well, you see…”

Chapter Text

“Okay, ready to continue where we left off, Kiki?”  Tsumugi asked once they got settled on the bed.

Kiki nodded and opened the book to the bookmark, noting “It looks like Dad’s scene from last night still isn’t done.”  She continued from the middle of the page “I stood there in silence, absorbing what your Aunt Komaru just told me when…”

“Somebody’s gonna die…because of me.”  Makoto repeated, still struck silent by disbelief.

“Makoto.”  Komaru’s voice shook Makoto out of his despair as she continued “Whatever’s going on there, it seems pretty awful.  But you did make a promise.  You’re coming for me when all this is over.”  She smiled wryly and remarked “Sure, I mean, nobody’d ever call you tough or anything, but you’re definitely not the kind of guy to go back on his word, right?”

Her eyes narrowed in determination as she raised her clenched fist.

“Try not to worry.  One way or another, you’re gonna get through this.  I can wait.  I believe in you.”

Makoto gave a surprised smile as he mused “Wow, Komaru.  You’ve changed.”  You’ve grown up.  “You’re so grown up now.  Almost like a whole new person.”  Is this how a parent feels when they see their child mature?

“Ano, it took you this long to notice?”

“I’m a little slow sometimes.”  Makoto chuckled as he held his hand behind his head.

“Ugh.  What a tender sibling moment.”  Toko groaned in the background, causing Komaru to turn her attention to the exasperated former writer.  “It’s enough to gimme a migrane.”

“Anyway, hang in there a little longer, ‘kay?”  Komaru asked as she turned her attention back to her brother.  As the screen began to fade, Komaru finished “Meantime, I’ll do whatever I can from here.”

“Don’t worry.”  Makoto vowed “I’ll keep that promise!”

At last, the screen turned black, the connection cut.

“I will come for you.”  Makoto vowed resolutely as he closed his eyes.

Hina smiled and complimented “You’re an awesome big brother.  Just sayin’.”

“Oh, Kami.”  Makoto realized.  “Hina, I didn’t…”

A blaring beeping noise interrupted his apology as Monomi’s voice rang out.

“Alert!  Alert!  Switching to auto-remote functionality.”

“What’s wrong with her?”  Hina wondered as Miaya began twitching in her wheelchair.

Everything clicked in Makoto’s head as he exclaimed “She’s a robot?  What the heck?”

“That doesn’t look good.”  Hina stated anxiously.  “And since this isn’t a hallway, I say we run like hell!”

“Right!”  Makoto exclaimed as Hina dragged him by the wrist and pulled him away from the robotic Miaya.

“Well…that was unexpected.”  Tsumugi concluded as they reached the end of the page.

Kiki nodded before a light bulb turned on in her head and she deduced “I think that robot Gekkogahara was being controlled by Monaca.”

“Really?  What made you think that?”  Tsumugi wondered curiously.

“Well, let’s say that for the sake of argument, Monaca did know that one of Dad’s friends was gonna die in the Final Killing Game.  That would mean she saw something on the inside, which means she had eyes and ears inside the facility.”

“Oh, I get it!”  Tsumugi exclaimed as her eyes sparkled.  “Since Gekkogahara was a robot, it makes sense that Monaca planted her there!  Great thinking, Kiki!”

Kiki giggled before she decided “Alright, let’s see where Dad and Aunt Hina ran off to…”  She turned the page and continued reading “As we reached an opening in the wall that led to one of the hallways, we slowed down to a brisk walk.  Your Aunt Hina let go of my hand and…”

Hina came to a halt, gasping in shock as Makoto bumped into her.  He soon matched Hina’s shock, yelping as they laid their eyes on a ragged Kyosuke Munakata.  Gone was his pristine white jacket, revealing a dress shirt with tears in it.  Hanging from his neck was a disheveled tie.  Medical bandages wrapped around his head, covering his right eye.  His exposed left eye seemed to glow in the dark, giving him the appearance of a vengeful zombie.

“Ano…Naegi?”  Hina asked in a panic.

“Munakata.”  What happened to you?  Is this the result of your duel with Chairman Tengan?

“There you are.”  Kyosuke slurred as he stabbed his heath into the concrete floor.  “Filthy traitor.”  He almost growled as he withdrew his katana.

Hina gasped as she and Makoto saw their reflection in it, the side of the blade coated in blood as he pointed it at his new targets.  A resounding crash startled the trio as the robotic Miaya rolled in through a hole in the wall.

“Whoa!  Heads up!”  Hina exclaimed as Miaya turned to face Kyosuke.

“Standby for Future Foundation Member analysis.”  Monomi’s voice echoed.  “Matching to current database.”

Before it could finish, Kyosuke growled and charged, decapitating the Miaya robot and causing Hina and Makoto to gasp.  Before anyone could move, however, Miaya’s scarf grabbed its severed head and reattached it to its body.

“Kyosuke Munakata.  Threat Level: S.”  Kyosuke leapt back as Monomi continued “Switching to…Berserker Mode.”

Berserker Mode?!  What’s that?!  Makoto wondered before Miaya’s eyes glowed red. 

Heavy armor covered its arms like armguards before it rocketed to Kyosuke.  The wounded vice-chairman was forced to parry the armored assaults with his katana as it continued to assault him with punches.

“So, ano, now what?”  Hina asked.

“Well, while they’re busy, let’s make a break for it.”  Makoto suggested.

‘Kay.  Hina agreed while she knelt down, allowing Makoto to climb on her back.

Meanwhile, Kyosuke was forced back by one of Miaya’s blows.

“Resistance is futile.”  He told it as he skid to a stop.  “The Future Foundation is destined to triumph.  I swear it.”

“Okay, let’s get out of here!”  Hina decided, causing Makoto to nod as she ran away from the dueling duo, just before Kyosuke morphed his sword.

“Okay, talk to me.”  Hina demanded.  “Where we goin’?”

“I’m not sure, but Byakuya will be here soon.”  Makoto decided “We have to find Kyoko.”  If I can just make sure she’s by my side, I can make sure she doesn’t die because of me!

“You got it!”

Makoto turned his head to glance back at the two combatants.


They caught a gleam of orange out of the corner of their eyes as they got out of the vicinity.

“Okay…that’s new.”  Kiki uttered.

“Yeah, talk about a Power Sword!”  Tsumugi exclaimed.  “Too bad it’s being used for evil instead of good!”

“Yeah, he’s lost his grip on reality so much, he’s actually reflecting the darkness in his heart.”  Kiki agreed.  “At least that Gekkogahara robot seems to still be on their side.”

“Yeah.  It should have at least keep Munakata occupied while Aunt Hina and Dad escaped.”  Kiki agreed before she suggested “It looks like this page continues from Mom’s point of view.  Let’s see how her investigation went.”  As Tsumugi nodded in agreement, Kiki continued reading “As I continued my investigation into Izayoi’s murder…”

“Well?”  Ryota asked hesitantly.  “Any clue who the Attacker might be?”

“It’s a work in progress.”  Kyoko admitted.  “I need more information.”  Like I told Makoto during the Killing School Life, I can’t just wave a magic wand and arrive at the truth.  I’m a detective, not a miracle worker.

“Man, oh man.”  Koichi commented, as he sifted through a pile of objects.  “Someone’s been a busy little bee.”

“What is all that stuff?”  Ryota wondered.

“Traps set by our late friend Izayoi.”  Koichi explained as he turned to face Ryota with a look of caution.  “Watch where you sit.  Seriously.  If these bad boys are anything to go on, the couch is probably rigged, too.”

“Rigged?  For what?”

“To blow your ass into next Thursday.”

As Ryota yelped in shock, Kyoko turned towards her late father’s friend and commented with an impressed tone “You surprise me.”


“Your better at this sort of thing than I expected.”  At least if anything happens to me, I can know that Makoto will be in the hands of someone who can crack this case…assuming he can stop drinking and cracking jokes long enough to put his mind to it.

“Well, thanks I guess.”  Koichi replied before he briefly hummed.  “The Foundation don’t pick us at random.”  He commented before he dug a chocolate bar out of his pocket and began to munch on it.

“’Scuse me.  Shouldn’t we leave?  The Attacker’s bound to come back.”  Ryota pointed out.

“He’s got a point.”  Ruruka agreed.  “We hang around looking for clues, we’ll all end up just like Yoi.”

And without clues, we have no chance of escaping this place alive.  Kyoko deadpanned.  “Stop.”  She turned to glare at Ruruka and decided with finality “We’ll leave when I’m done investigating.  Period.”

Koichi chuckled as Ruruka grunted in frustration, glaring at the former Ultimate Detective.  Kyoko ignored her, kneeling down as she investigated the bookshelf.

“Did you find something?”  Ryota asked curiously.

“Maybe.  See this scuff on the floor?”

“Interesting.”  Ryota commented, though not quite getting Kyoko’s deduction.

Kyoko gasped in realization as she felt the side of the bookcase, only to turn as a loud clatter interrupted her focus.

“Ow…”  Ruruka groaned as she lay topple dover on a pile of Sonosuke’s traps that Koichi had collected.

“Oh!”  Ryota exclaimed worriedly.  “Are you okay?”

“Yeah.  Sure.”  Ruruka assured him with a pained smile.

“Really?”  Koichi asked suspiciously.  “You gotta be careful there, doll face.”

Ruruka giggled bashfully “I’m a bit of a klutz sometimes.”

Koichi tipped his fedora, humming before he smiled and approached Ruruka, startling her as he got up in her space.

“Well that’s a relief.  I thought you were tryin’ to monkey-wrench the investigation for a second.”

“Ha!”  Ruruka pouted, glaring at the former talent scout as she shot back “Says the geezer who smells like he’s had a few.  I don’t have to listen to this garbage.”

As Ruruka turned her head to the side, Kyoko’s eyes narrowed.

Kizakura may be a drunk, but he might be on to something.  Mitarai’s been suggesting we leave out of genuine concern, but Ando’s been playing up her emotions and causing disruptions.  It’s almost as if she doesn’t want us to see something…but what…?

“No, I don’t suppose you do.”  Koichi replied cheekily.  “Just like I don’t have to listen to the unsavory stuff the grapevine says about you.”

Ruruka opened her eyes as both she and Kyoko stared at Koichi, their interests piqued.

“For example.”

“Ano…yes?”  Ruruka asked hesitantly before Koichi continued.

“Rumor has it you and some of the younger members have formed your very own splinter group within the Foundation.  Sounds like you’re in a real bad spot with the higher ups over the whole mess.  Which of course makes all the talk about you wantin’ to start a new organization much more believable.”

Kyoko had heard gossip about a splinter group within the Future Foundation.  One didn’t become a Kirigiri Detective without keeping tabs on the gossip going around about her colleagues, both in and out of the Fourteenth Division.  But she chose to ignore it, deciding to put her focus on keeping her own employees, especially the ones she survived the Killing School Life with, alive and well.  Now however, she was very interested about the rumored splinter faction’s possible role in their current predicament.

“Hey.”  Kyoko’s eyes widened as Koichi turned around towards the entrance and asked “You’re with the Vice Chairman’s faction.  What’ve you heard?”

The Vice Chairman’s faction?  Who is he…oh no…!

At that moment, the doors slammed open, revealing the irate Juzo Sakakura and causing Ryota and Ruruka to gasp in shock.

“So Izayoi got himself murdered, huh?”  Juzo mused, glancing at Sonosuke’s corpse.


Ignoring Kyoko’s hard-edged voice, Juzo commented “Welp, too bad, so sad.  ‘Least now there’s one less of you in Munakata’s way.  Killin’ four people’s easier ‘n killin’ five.”

Ryota whimpered in fear as Kyoko narrowed her eyes, vowing I won’t die…not by your hands, at least.

“…Not good.”  Kiki uttered dreadfully as she reached the end of the page.

“Yeah, Ando being so suspicious was bad enough, but now Sakakura arrived in the middle of your mother’s investigation?!”

“Yeah, it’s the worst-case scenario!”

“Well…” Tsumugi stammered optimistically.  “Even so…your mom should’ve been able to handle him, right?  I mean…didn’t you say she was a martial arts expert?  You told me in middle school that she could spar with Mukuro Ikusaba to a draw, so fighting a boxer should be…”

Kiki shook her head sadly and explained “Those were just spars, so neither of them went all-out.  Plus, she and Mukuro were of roughly similar builds, but Sakakura sounds like he’s a wall of muscle.  If he’s serious about killing them, there’s not much stopping him, and he’s clearly found ways around his forbidden action before.”

Tsumugi nodded as Kiki turned the page and frowned grimly.

“It’s just like I thought…”  Kiki uttered before she continued to read.  “Sakakura wasted no time in using whatever he could to mop the floor with us.  Regrettably, even my martial arts skills were little match for a seasoned fighter of his build.  Without a powerhouse like Chairman Tengan or the Great Gozu…”

Ryota cried out in pain as he was sent flying into the nearby wall.  Kyoko gasped for breath, on her knees as her bruised abdomen cried out in pain from Juzo’s recent kick.  Koichi grit his teeth as he watched the unfazed Juzo glare at the girl he considered his responsibility to protect.

“Kyoko Kirigiri.”  He flashed a knife as he told her “I screwed up lettin’ you get away earlier.  Not again.”

No…this can’t be it!  Kyoko thought, panicked as he approached her with murderous intent.  I can’t die…not here, not now…

Suddenly, Juzo’s advance was stopped as he dodged a book that flew at his head.

“Really?”  Juzo asked incredulously as he glared at the now standing Koichi.

Kizakura!  Kyoko thought gratefully as Koichi smirked, staring at the physically superior Juzo.

“Do yourself a favor.  Have the sense to stay down.”

“Take my word for it.”  He replied as he gripped the edge of his fedora.  “I’d love nothin’ better than to play possum.  But hell, I’m the oldest one here by a mile.  Etiquette dictates I’m responsible for how we slug this out.  Speaking of which, I can’t help but notice you feel obliged to use a knife, Mr. Former Boxer.”

So…Kizakura realized it too…?  Kyoko wondered as Koichi narrowed his eyes and pointed at Juzo.

“I think your Forbidden Action prohibits you from throwing a punch!  Hit one of us and it’s curtains for ya!  Maybe.”

Juzo froze, all but confirming Koichi and Kyoko’s suspicions.

“Doesn’t mean I can’t eviscerate you.”  Juzo growled before Koichi taunted him.

“Wait, are you saying I got it right, or…?”  Shaking the thought, Koichi asked “How ‘bout I tell you my Forbidden Action?  Why not?  We’ll treat it like a trust-building exercise.”  He tapped his bangle and asked “You can see it, right?  Hold on, she’s coming around again.  I’m not allowed to open my left hand.”

So I was right!  Kyoko realized as Juzo grit his teeth.

“Why bother tellin’ me this?  You pullin’ a fast one or somethin’?”

“Face the facts, big stuff.”  Kizakura taunted.  “Punching is what you do best.  As far as I know, it’s the one thing you’re good at.  And I’m all about whatever levels the playing field.  Must suck for Munakata.  Without Chisa, all he has to rely on is a gorilla with roid-rage.  I’m startin’ to think no one actually likes the guy.  Sorry.  I’m talkin’ about the Vice Chairman.”

Juzo shook with anger, glaring daggers at Koichi as he growled “You are not even worthy of speaking that man’s name.”

“You can stand there or do something about it.”  Koichi returned.  “Oh, that’s right, your track record’s been a joke where that’s concerned.”

I get it…Kizakura’s goading him!  Kyoko realized.  He’s better at tactics than I thought!

“Don’t you dare go there!”  Juzo bellowed.  “Yeah, I dropped the ball, but I’ll be damned if I make the same mistake twice!”  Koichi smirked as Juzo charged forward, crying out “I gave Munakata my vow!”

At that moment, Koichi smirked and stepped to the side.  Juzo’s stab missed just as a long, metal spear launched from the wall.  Juzo cried out in pain as it lodged itself in his shoulder, sending him flying and pinning him against the wall.

As the knife clattered, Koichi apologized jokingly “Aah, that one’s on me.  I forgot it was there.  Sorry.  Stupid traps.”

As Koichi pointed to a black marker on the ground, Kyoko realized He left that one on purpose in case someone like Sakakura came coming!  I have to admit, he surprised me…

As Juzo grit his teeth in pain, Kizakura commented “Feels like today woulda been a good time to buy a lottery ticket.”

“Wait, so, you were trying to lead him to that exact spot the whole time?”  Ryota exclaimed in disbelief.

“Let’s say, sure.”  Koichi shrugged.  “I suggest we take this opportunity to tie him up.  I assume you wanna keep investigating.”

Kyoko grunted as she finally got to her feet, muttering “Right.  Back to it, then.”

Still somewhat dazed by the pain as she walked across the floor, Kyoko missed Ruruka’s devious smirk as she pulled out a remote trigger and pressed the red button.  Her eyes widened as she gasped when the floor under her suddenly collapsed.

No!  I knew Ando was up to something!  She was acting far too suspicious!  Damn, why didn’t I see it coming?!  She panicked as she fell into the chasm.  I can’t fall here!  I won’t be able to stop the killing game!  And…I won’t be able to see Makoto again…I won’t be able to tell him how much I…huh?!

Kyoko stared in shock as her deadly descent was suddenly stopped.  She looked down and saw a familiar fedora fall into the eternal darkness.  She looked up and her eyes widened at the sight of Koichi Kizakura clinging to the ledge with his right hand while his left closed protectively around her wrist.

He…he caught me…he opened his left hand…that means…

A familiar, horrific jingle echoed in the chasm, confirming Kyoko’s horrified suspicions as Koichi’s left eye turned red, his entire left side turning a sickly purple.

Kizakura…  She thought as Koichi mustered the last of his strength to pull her back up to the ledge.  You’re sacrificing yourself…for me…? 

With a determined yell, he hoisted them both up, leaving only their legs dangling over the chasm.  As Ruruka grunted in frustration, both of her would-be victims gasped for breath.  Kyoko’s eyes widened as she turned her head to see Koichi weakly smiling at her, blood flowing from his eye.

“Kizakura, why?”  She demanded, grief bleeding into her voice.  Why did you sacrifice yourself for me?

Koichi merely smiled, causing a memory deep in the recesses of their minds to come forward.

The last time I saw him give that kind of a smile…the day of that picture…

“Sweetie, stop being such a wiggle worm.  Up you go.”

“Hey, look at me!  I’m a birdie!”

“I know!”

“Come on, guys.  You want the picture or not?  Stay still.  Perfect.”

“Huh.  What do you know…?”  Koichi was able to mumble as he let go of Kyoko’s hand.

Kyoko gasped in horrified shock as he slipped down the chasm, unable to keep his grip on the ledge and his life.  Koichi’s final words burned themselves in her mind as he disappeared.

“I was a man of my word.  Jin.”

Kizakura…UNCLE KOICHI!!!  Kyoko grieved mentally as she tried and failed to save the last link to her father.

Still wallowing in grief, she managed to pull herself up before she turned around.  Now on her knees, she stared down the chasm as she held back her tears, not wanting to give her honorary uncle’s murderer the satisfaction.

“Oh, Kami…”  Kiki shook with shock, grief, and anger as she muttered “My mom…was almost murdered…Kizakura protected her…he sacrificed himself…to save her…”


Tsumugi’s heart went out to her friend as the teenage girl growled “That bitch Ando…what did my mom ever do to her?!  She only wanted to stop the killing game and avenge the deaths of those who already died.  She asked her for help, and how did she repay her?  By trying to kill her and taking her only family still present away from her!”

“Kiki calm down!”

Realizing where she was, Kiki took a deep breath, feeling her maelstrom of emotions recede as she apologized “…I’m sorry.”

“No, it’s okay.”  Tsumugi assured her.  “You have every right to be furious after what happened.  Just remember that it was all in the past, years before any of us were even born.  Don’t waste your energy hating someone for what happened when your parents were just barely adults.”

“You’re right…thanks, Tsumugi.”

Tsumugi returned Kiki’s smile as she replied “No problem.  Do you…do you wanna take a break for now?”

“No, I think I can keep going…”  Kiki took a deep breath, making sure to keep her emotions in check as she turned the page and continued to read “I was still stunned, grieving Kizakura…Uncle Koichi’s sacrifice when Mitarai…”

“This was all you, wasn’t it?!”  Ryota cried angrily, feeling betrayed by the girl he sought only to comfort.  Emerging from her state of grief and finally regaining her composure, Kyoko glanced up at Ruruka, glaring angrily at her colleague as Ryota accused “You’ve got something planned!”

“Ano, yeah.”  Ruruka admitted nonchalantly as she approached the still pinned Juzo.  “The idea is to kill all of you.  Now there’s only two people left to worry about.”  She turned to face Juzo, his teeth grit in anger as she elaborated “This one I need.  Aw, poor baby.  Let’s fix you up.”

She forced his jaw open and slipped a red gumball-type candy into his mouth, forcing him to swallow it.

“Yeah, you love a taste of the sweet stuff, don’t ya, big boy?”  Ruruka taunted at the helpless Juzo as he creepily smiled.  “Of course you do.  Well?  Would you like another?”  Juzo nodded, as though he was under hypnoses, causing Ruruka to remark “I thought so.”  She then turned to Kyoko and Ryota, pointing at them as she ordered “Take care of our friends, won’t you?  Kill them both, and you can have all the chocolate your widdle heart desires.”

This isn’t good.  Kyoko thought nervously as she stood up.  Both her and Ryota backed away in fear as she thought Sakakura was already a threat to our lives when he was in control of his own mind.  Who knows how dangerous he’ll be now that he’s Ando’s puppet?!

“Enough to last you the rest of your life.”  Ruruka promised, causing Juzo to pull on the spear’s shaft, freeing him from the wall, though the spear still remained lodged in his body.

“No!  You stay away from us!”  Ryota demanded as he stood protectively in front of Kyoko.

“He’s not listening.”  Ruruka informed them while Juzo lumbered towards them like a zombie.  “His head’s too filled with thoughts of sweet, sweet candy to give a damn what anybody says.  Except of course the person who’ll give him his next hit.”

In other words, you’ve made him addicted to a dangerous drug and you’re the drug dealer.  Kyoko concluded before Juzo pulled the spear out of his shoulder.

The former boxer groaned in pain as Ruruka gasped, startled by the turn of developments.

“Ow…”  Juzo groaned.  “Damn you all to hell!”  He cursed as he kicked the couch down the chasm.  “You miserable, conniving pieces of crap!  I’m no one’s puppet!  Get ready to join Izayoi and Kizakura!  Every last one of you bastards!”

“Just a moment.”  Kyoko interjected, startling Juzo.


“I understand why you’ve been acting so bizarrely.”


I’m not referring to you, Sakakura.  Kyoko ignored Juzo and deduced “It wasn’t the Attacker who killed Sonosuke Izayoi.”  She glared at Ruruka and accused “It was you.”

Ruruka yelped guiltily as Juzo interrupted “Yeah?  I don’t care who did what to who, you’re all gonna die.  Right here, right now, by my hands!”

Not if I have anything to say about it!  “You could do that. You could also use your head.  Why resort to wholesale violence when solving this particular murder might actually present us with a means of escape?”  As Juzo grunted, Kyoko questioned “Don’t you agree, Ando?”

“What’re you talking about?  The Attacker’s the one who killed Yoi.”  Ruruka rebutted defensively.

“Wrong.”  Ruruka shut up, stunned as Kyoko elaborated “The crime scene was carefully staged to give us that impression.  In reality, he was killed by his Forbidden Action.  Most traces of the poison’s effects were concealed, but not all.  To a keen observer, his corpse left no room for doubt.”

“Don’t be ridiculous!”  Ruruka objected.  “There’s a knife in his chest!”

“Put there after he died.”  Kyoko refuted, silencing Ruruka.  “Originally, the knife came from Kimura’s body.”

Juzo glared at Ruruka as he interjected “Wait, you tellin’ me Kimura’s dead?”

“Yes.”  Kyoko confirmed as Ryota stared at her in awe.  “Dispatched by a solitary stab wound to the heart.  We found her body not far from here.  At this point, the Attacker has claimed multiple victims, each killed in the exact same manner.  However, in Izayoi’s case, the MO deviated.  The stab wound wasn’t in the typical place, and the body showed no signs of blood loss.  In other words, our friend here was stabbed after he died.  The killer used the knife from Kimura’s body to throw us off.”

“So the Attacker got Kimura, but not Izayoi.”  Juzo concluded.  “You’re sure of that?”

“Indeed.  Absolutely positive.”

“Okay.  Then explain.”

“Izayoi’s Forbidden Action was eating.  If the knife wasn’t responsible, well then, by deception or against his will, he was fed something and poisoned by his bangle.  And since…”  Kyoko licked her glove before she continued “…his saliva tasted sweet, we can deduce from this he ate one of Ando’s confections.”

“You licked…saliva?”  Ryota exclaimed in shock.  “From a body?”

“Yes, I did.”  Kyoko confirmed as Ryota covered his mouth with his hand in disgust.  “A detective does what’s necessary.  He was shrewd.  Not a man to trifle with.  Getting him to eat must’ve been difficult.  But you…” Ruruka stepped back, her face reading GUILTY as Kyoko deduced “…a specialist who deals in sweets, with whom he as exceptionally close…”

“How can you blame me?”  Ruruka interrupted in frustration.  “Yoi was on my side!  Why would I have killed him?”

“The motive is clear.”  Kyoko explained as she walked up to the bookcase she was investigating earlier.

Ruruka’s eyes widened as Kyoko pushed down the bookcase, causing the books and pots sitting on its shelves to fall on the floor and down the chasm.  Ryota and Juzo gasped as Ruruka grit her teeth and Kyoko closed her eyes.  Staring at them was a door with Monokuma’s face on it.

“Just as I thought.”  Kyoko concluded as she opened her eyes and glanced at the exit out of the corner of her eye, the words Congratulations.  You found the Secret Entrance! written on the jagged red eye in black handwriting.

“Wha…?  What the…?”  Juzo uttered in shock.

“A secret entrance?”  Ryota exclaimed in excited awe.  “But how did you know?”

“The scuff marks on the floor.”  Kyoko explained.  “And one shelf wasn’t flush with the rest.  Put those observations together, and there’s only a handful of possibilities.”

“So does this mean we got a way outta here?”  Juzo asked, excitement bleeding into his voice.

“Given where it’s situated, I’d say yes.  This ought to lead to the building’s exterior.”  She circled around the nervous Ruruka, continuing “’Course, that’s assuming the architectural plan makes sense.”

“Great!”  Ruruka interjected.  “So you found a way out!  None of this gives me a reason to kill him!”

Kyoko glared at Ruruka as she replied “Under normal circumstances, I’d agree.  But the rules of this game compel us to do certain things for which there’d be no rationale under normal circumstances.  Ruruka Ando.  Tell us the truth.”  Ruruka tensed as Kyoko deduced “Your Forbidden Action is letting someone leave the playing field, isn’t it?”

Ruruka gasped, all but confirming Kyoko’s suspicions in spite of her subsequent objections.

“That’s absolutely absurd.”

One or both of you found the door in this room, you killed Izayoi in this room, you led us into this room, you tried to kill us in this room, you murdered my Uncle Koichi in this room.  “Ah.  So when Izayoi stumbled upon what appeared to be an exit in this room, his attempting to leave didn’t put you in fear of your life?”

“No!”  Ruruka shrieked.  “You don’t know anything!  He’d never betray me!”

“But you’d betray him.”  Juzo concluded as he threw the spear aside and walked towards the Monokuma Door.  “That’s it, I’m out.  This stupid game can kiss my ass.”

“No, stop!”  Ruruka cried in terror as Juzo tried to pry the door open.  She ran up and latched onto him in a vain attempt to stop him.  “If you leave, I’m a dead woman!”

“Yeah?  I should give a damn because?”

“Please!  I’m begging you!  Look…”

“That did the trick.  Let’s go.”  Kyoko ordered as she turned around.  At least that’ll get Sakakura off our backs.

“But wait.  The exit.”  Ryota pointed out as Ruruka pleaded with Juzo for her life.

“Wait!  Wait!”

“Let go of me!  Now!”

“No!  I don’t deserve this!”

Kyoko turned to Ryota and shook her head as Ryota stared at her, confused before his eyes widened in realization.  He wordlessly nodded before Kyoko dashed out of the room and down the hallway.

“Hey, wait up!”  Ryota called out as he ran after her.  Eventually he caught up with her, keeping pace as he asked “Ano…”

“Go on.”

“I don’t understand why Kizakura saved you.  I mean…he sacrificed himself.  For what?”

Because he’s my family.  Not wanting to say that to an acquaintance, she answered “I have my suspicions, but at this point, it’s all conjecture.”

“Wow, you really are cold.”  Ryota commented.

…I was.  Kyoko thought.  …Until a certain optimistic luckster made me feel warm again…  She shook Makoto’s face from her mind as she replied “I know.”

“Buddy of mine hates detectives.”

Koichi’s remark echoed in her ears as she tossed her jacket aside, letting it fall over the platform as she explained “I have to be.  I’m a detective.”

“Wow…I never knew Mom had to be cold as a detective…”

“Really?”  Tsumugi asked curiously.  “She never told you about what she was like as a detective?”

“Well…she told me a few stories, but only when I asked her to.  Her past as a detective wasn’t something she talked about much.  I guess what happened with her and Dad in the fifth trial during the Killing School Life made her feel embarrassed to be one.”

“Ah, I see.  Guess it would make sense; seeing your skills almost get someone you love killed must make you see your profession in a whole new light.”

“Yeah, she didn’t say as much outright, but her outlook left a pretty bad taste in her mouth.  I think she prefers to be someone warmer, though she can still be serious at times.”

Seeing Kiki’s frown, Tsumugi changed the subject, commenting “Anyway, I’m curious about what was on the other side of that door.”

“Yeah, it seems like that door was a red herring.  Which means Uncle Koichi and Izayoi died for nothing.”

Tsumugi frowned at the bitterness in Kiki’s voice before she suggested “Why don’t we take a break and resume after you come back from your weekend at home?”

Kiki nodded, agreeing “Yeah, that’s probably a good idea…I’m emotionally exhausted.”

Tsumugi swung her legs over the bed and stood up while Kiki replaced the bookmark and closed the diary.

“Well, sweet dreams, Kiki.”

Kiki smiled as she placed the diary on her bedside table and returned “You too, Tsumugi.”

With that, Kiki watched as Tsumugi walked out the door, closing it behind her.  She sighed as she curled up under the covers and yawned.

Cold, eh?  I don’t think so…Mom’s always been warm, deep down.  And Shuichi seems pretty warm, and he’s a detective.  I think…I think Mom just meant a detective needs to be serious…yeah, that’s it…

With that last thought, Kiki closed her eyes and fell into slumber, pondering her mother’s last words from the diary entry in her dreams.

Chapter Text

“…Hey, Mom?”

“Hm?”  Kyoko asked as they sat on the swings in the backyard.  “What is it, Kiki?”

“…Do you ever miss Uncle Koichi?”

“Ah, so you got to that part in the diary, then, am I wrong?”  Kyoko smiled wistfully as she openly admitted “Yes, I do.  He drank too much and he got on my nerves as a teenager more times than I care to admit, so I’m not sure I would have considered him a good role model for you and your siblings.  That being said…”

Kyoko closed her eyes, reliving the memories of the deceased talent scout before she finally continued speaking with a hint of sorrow bleeding into her voice.

“He made sure to keep all of his promises, and as your Grandpa Jin’s best friend, he was family to me, something that I was in short supply of, especially after the Tragedy.  It was…very painful when he sacrificed himself for me.  At that point, the only remaining family left alive was your great-grandfather Fuhito.”

“…What…happened to him, anyway?”  Kiki asked curiously.

“…He died of old age when I was pregnant with you.”  Kyoko smiled grimly as she admitted “Your father and I had our…issues with him, so we weren’t on speaking terms with him after we got married, but…in the end, he loved us both.  He willed this house to us before he died.”

“So it’s thanks to Great-Grandfather that we’re living here?”

Kyoko nodded, confirming “Yes, and I’m grateful he did…though if I could trade this house to have my deceased family back, I would.  No house is worth the cost of your family.”


“Well, enough about that!”  Kyoko came to a halt and leapt off the swing before she suggested “Why don’t you and I go have breakfast?  I’m sure your father and the others must be hungry by now.”

“Yum!”  Kiki exclaimed as she leapt off her swing and followed Kyoko in the house.  “Think Maki and Haruki will join us?”

“Maybe.”  Kyoko giggled as they entered the mansion.

“Welcome back, Kiki!”  Tsumugi greeted as Kiki opened the door to her room.

“Tsumugi!”  Kiki exclaimed as they hugged.  “It’s good to see you again!  How were things?”

“Good.  Gonta wanted to show you some new bug he found, but I had to tell him you went home for the weekend.”  Tsumugi explained as they crawled on the bed.

“Ah, well, I’ll catch up with him tomorrow between classes.”  Kiki decided as she grabbed the diary and opened it to the bookmark.  “Alright, let’s see…looks like there’s a little blurb from Dad…”  Tsumugi stared curiously as Kiki began to read “Your Aunt Hina was carrying me on her back as she dashed through the hallways when…”

Never again.  Makoto vowed.  I’m not letting them kill anyone else!

At that moment, the whole foundation seemed to rumble, causing Hina to stop in her tracks, startled by the shaking.

“What the…?”  Makoto exclaimed.

“That felt pretty big!”  Hina commented in a panic as the rumbling continued.

Eventually it came to a stop, allowing them to both breathe a sigh of relief.

“What…was that…?”  Makoto pondered.

“I don’t know, but I think it stopped.  Come on, let’s cover more ground while we can.”

Makoto nodded as Hina dashed forth once more.

“Wow, what was that, an earthquake?”

“Hmm…something must have happened to the building from outside…”  Kiki mused.  “At least neither of them were hurt.”

“Yeah, hopefully your Mom was okay too.”

“Well, the next section is from her perspective, so let’s find out.”  Kiki decided as she continued reading.  “As Mitarai and I felt the facility rumbling, we picked up our pace, hoping to outrun whatever had caused the structure to shake.  Once it stopped, we…”

Kyoko and Mitarai came to a halt, gasping for breath until Ryota finally had enough oxygen to comment “I think we’re far enough from the danger now.  So remind me again why we didn’t go through the exit?  I mean it had to have been a trap, right?”

“It certainly wasn’t a way out.”  Kyoko answered as she turned to face him.

“I had a feeling.”  Ryota admitted with an air of disappointment.  “But how can you be so sure?”

“Well, to be fair, that passage would’ve led us to the building’s exterior.  Technically.  But we couldn’t have escaped.”  She looked ahead as she stated with finality.  “Not with our lives.  We’re under the ocean.”

Ryota’s eyes widened incredulously as he exclaimed “W…We’re what?!”

“Trust me.  This is not the building we started in.  It’s a carbon copy.  Identical in every way.  But directly beneath the original.”

Kyoko closed her eyes and recalled to the moment when the sleep grenade went off, knocking them all out.

“If you recall, we were gassed in the conference room when this began.  In all likelihood we were moved while unconscious, and deposited in the room’s underwater duplicate so no one would suspect a thing.”

“But that’s a ridiculous amount of effort, and for what?”  Ryota pointed out.

She glanced towards the disbelieving former animator as she explained “It becomes worthwhile if the aim is to confuse.  Your disbelief is proof the tactic works.” 

Ryota gasped, the gears turning in his head as he finally realized the truth of Kyoko’s words.  Kyoko recalled the weapon Sonosuke threw at Hina, as well as the missing cut from the door after the killing game began.

“At first, I had my doubts it was even possible.  But once we got our bearings after waking up, I noticed the mark on the door from earlier had vanished.”

“Okay, but then why put us in the ocean?”

“To keep outsiders from intervening, I should think.”  Kyoko mused.  “Yes of course.  This all points to the Vice Chairman.  He’s been closely involved with the building’s construction from the ground up.  He couldn’t have failed to notice.”  Ryota gasped in horror as Kyoko concluded “It’s only logical.  Everything about this situation favors him.”


“It’s like they’re in some perverted version of Atlantis!”  Tsumugi exclaimed, causing Kiki to sweatdrop.

“I…don’t think they’re comparable.”  Kiki replied.  “Still, I guess it makes sense from a tactical perspective.  If you’re the mastermind and want to have an edge over your captives, the best way to do that is to mess with their perceptions.”

“Wow Kiki, you’re thinking like a real detective!”

“Well, it makes sense when a real detective points it out.”  Kiki commented.  “It does complicate Dad’s whole escape plan idea.”  She concluded with a frown.

“Yeah, it does throw a bit of a monkey wrench in that idea.  If they just busted out, they’d all drown.  But why would Munakata participate if he’s the mastermind?”

“Well, we don’t know for sure if he is the mastermind, but assuming he is, participating would be the perfect way to ensure he destroys all of his enemies.”

“Good point.  I wonder how your parents escaped under those circumstances…and how Munakata ended up having a change of heart…or at least enough of one to save us from Akki.”

“Well, let’s find out.”  Kiki suggested as she continued to read.  “Mitarai pondered my hypothesis before he finally replied…”

“I don’t know what to say.  Can he really be the mastermind?”

It’s a possibility, but I don’t have enough evidence to say conclusively yet…  Kyoko briefly glanced at Ryota before she decided “For now, let’s just find Naegi and the others.”  We’ve been separated for too long.  I need to see him again!

“Ano.  Seriously?”  Ryota asked, surprised.  “I, ano, can’t see how he’d help much.”

“I can understand why you might think that.”  Kyoko replied as she turned to face him.  I used to think the same way, then he surprised me.  He still continues to surprise me.  “Granted, Naegi might not seem like much at first glance, but when push comes to shove, he’s the strongest human being I’ve ever known.  Bar none.”

Kyoko averted her gaze as memories of Makoto’s surprising adversity from the Class Trials flashed before her eyes.

“He’s optimistic.  He always puts his friends first.  And he couldn’t give up if his life depended on it.  I believe in the man with all my heart.  See, there was a time when…when if he hadn’t been around, I…”

Kyoko’s emotional reflection trailed off when Ryota gestured behind her.  Curious, she turned her head.  To her extreme embarrassment, she saw Hina grinning at her as Makoto stood by her side, his gaze averted as he blushed, smiling bashfully.

He…he heard me…?!

Somehow managing to avoid blushing, Kyoko turned her head and coughed into her fist.  Once she was sure she could control her emotions, she turned around to face her friends, expression as neutral as ever.

“Asahina, Naegi, it’s been too long.”

“You bet it is!”  Hina exclaimed as she jogged over and embraced her friend.

“Hey, Kiri…”  Makoto awkwardly waved as Hina released the detective, causing her lips to tug into a soft, relieved smile.

“I’m glad to see you’re still in one piece.”  She told him with a hint of fondness in her voice.  “I take it Chairman Tengan’s negotiations were successful.”

“Well…”  Makoto’s eyes briefly drooped before he told her “I’ll…tell you later.  Let’s…find a room to properly catch up in.  We’re kind of sitting ducks in the hallway.”

“Boy do we have a lot to tell you!”  Hina exclaimed.  “We’ve got a whole new escape plan!”

“Wha…an escape plan?!”  Ryota exclaimed incredulously.

“Is that so?”  Kyoko chuckled.  “Well, once we get situated, you’ll have to tell me all about it.  Now then, shall we go…?”

“You bet!  Come on, Mitarai-kun!”

“Uh, coming!”  Ryota called as he jogged after Hina.

Makoto moved to follow them before she felt Kyoko’s gentle, pleading hand on his shoulder.

“Makoto.  Wait one moment, please.”

“Uh, sure, Kyoko.  What’s up?”  Makoto asked, turning around curiously before his eyes widened at the tears trickling down Kyoko’s cheeks.  “Kyoko, what’s wr…wha…?”

Makoto gasped as Kyoko walked up to him, embracing him tightly as she laid her head on his shoulder.


“Makoto…Kizakura…Uncle Koichi’s dead…”

“Kyoko…”  Makoto’s eyes drooped as his heart went out to the grieving detective.  “I’m sorry…”  He muttered in her ear as he returned the embrace, rubbing her back lovingly in an effort to comfort her.

The two of them stayed like that for a minute, Kyoko relaxing in the warmth of Makoto’s arms as she finally allowed herself to cry in grief.

“Better now?”  Makoto asked worriedly as Kyoko stepped out of the embrace and wiped her tears away with the back of her glove.

“Yeah, I’m okay now…”  Kyoko assured him with a soft smile.  “We should…catch up with the others…”

“Hey guys!”  Both turned to the sound of Hina’s voice as she called from around the corner.  “What’s the hold-up?”

“Sorry, we’ll be right there!”  Makoto called back before he agreed “Yeah, we should go…”

“Here.”  She offered as she crouched down, gesturing to her back.  Makoto nodded gratefully as he climbed on Kyoko’s slender spine, letting his arms drape around her neck.

“There, I’m not too heavy, am I?”  He asked worriedly as Kyoko gripped behind his knees.

Kyoko briefly turned to smile at him before she assured him “You’re fine.  Now then, shall we go?”

As Makoto nodded, Kyoko dashed down the hallway until they finally reached Hina.  The former swimmer grinned knowingly at them before Kyoko averted her gaze, hiding her blush before she squeezed Makoto’s legs protectively.

“Aww!”  Tsumugi gushed “Your mom can be really adorable when she talks about your dad like that!”

Kiki smiled as she nodded “Yeah, the two of them can be really lovey-dovey when they’re at home.  Honestly, sometimes it can get sickeningly sweet, but in this case, I think they both needed it.”

“Yeah, and the fact that she allowed herself to cry when it was just the two of them shows just how much she trusts him!”

“Yeah, that was never a point of contention.  At least now they’re together again.  Hopefully with Mom and Dad reunited, they were able to find a way out quickly.”

“Yeah, though I do wonder how they got around the whole underwater problem.”  Tsumugi mused.

“Well, let’s find out…”  Kiki turned the page before she continued reading “We continued jogging down the hallway until we found an open room.  As we opened the door…”

“It…looks like a pantry.”  Kyoko mused as she allowed Makoto to slide off her back.

“Yeah, the cupboards probably have some kind of instant food stocked away.  Look.”  Makoto pointed out “There’s a sink and an instant water heater.”

“SCORE!”  Hina exclaimed.  “I’m starving!”

“Didn’t you just have some mini-donuts earlier?”  Makoto pointed out.

“Hey, those were a nice snack, but it’s been forever since I had an actual meal!  I’m dying for some ramen!”

Kyoko and Ryota sweatdropped before she coughed into her fist, disrupting their conversation.

“Why don’t we take inventory?  Then we can decide what to eat before the time limit expires.”  Kyoko suggested, causing everyone to nod.

“Sure, that sounds like a good idea.”  Makoto agreed as the other two nodded.

“Very well then.  Naegi, you and I will search the cupboards.  Asahina, Mitarai, I see some other boxes lying around.  See if they contain any supplies.”

“Roger, roger!”  Hina saluted as she and Ryota walked over to a nearby box.

“Alright, let’s investigate the cupboards.”

Makoto nodded and followed Kyoko to a nearby cupboard.  The two glanced at each other, smiling before they each opened a door, revealing a substantial stock of instant, pre-packaged foods.

“Ah, finally, a proper inn to restore their HP and Mana!”  Tsumugi exclaimed as Kiki sweatdropped.

“I…wouldn’t exactly call it an inn…but at least they can actually have some food and rest for a bit before the end of the time limit.”  Kiki concluded optimistically.

“I wonder what they did until the Phantom Hourglass ran out of sand.”  Tsumugi mused.

“Well, only one way to find out.”  Kiki replied before she continued reading.  “After searching the cupboards, we found some boxes of snacks, including more mini donuts for your Aunt Hina, as well as some water bottles, tea, and instant ramen.  After we cooked some of the food and tea with the instant water heater we all started to eat.  Once we all relaxed, I told your father and Aunt Hina about my deduction, and…”

“Wow.  Under the sea, huh?”  Makoto breathed in awe as Kyoko sipped her tea.  “Somebody went to a lotta trouble.”

“Evidently.  You said Togami was en route with reinforcements?”

Makoto nodded as he confirmed “It’s been long enough now that he should be at the real HQ as we speak.”

That’s comforting.  At least now we know there’s help coming for us.  Makoto and the others will make it out of here.

“What if there’s traps?”  Makoto wondered worriedly.  “What if Togami’s hurt?  Oh, Kami.  It’d be all my fault.”

“What do you mean?”  Kyoko asked curiously with a hint of worry.

Makoto smiled sadly as he confessed “I was told…someone would die, all because of me.”

“Don’t start down that path.”  Kyoko gently admonished.  “Why would you think that?  Did Munakata say something?”  Did he…?

Makoto ignored Kyoko’s question, musing “You know, up until now, I was confident I could be useful in any situation.  Here though, I’m sunk.  There’s nothing I can do.”

That’s not true, and you know it.  Kyoko retorted in her mind.  He needs a pep talk…but with Hina and Mitarai here…no, this is an emergency.  I’ll just have to pretend they’re not in the room for now…

As Kyoko tugged on her left glove, Makoto continued.  “Munakata was right.  My words don’t carry any real weight I’m just…”

“Letting him get to you.”  Kyoko interrupted as she threaded her fingers with Makoto’s.

Makoto gasped as he felt the warm, comforting embrace on his hand.  He glanced down, his eyes widening at the sight of Kyoko’s bare, scarred hand.  He looked incredulously at Kyoko, touched as she stared intently, yet warmly into his own hazel eyes.

“Your words lift people up.  Give them something to pin their hopes on.  That’s certainly what they’ve done for me.  Have faith in yourself, Makoto.  We need your words.  We need your optimism.  Your hope is infectious.  If you ever lose sight of yourself, just look to us.  We’ll remind you who you are.  It’s the least we can do.”


Makoto smiled and nodded, reassured as Hina giggled at the scene.  The amused sound echoed in Kyoko’s ears, reminding her that they did indeed have an audience.

“Well, then…”  She began as she let go of his hand and replaced her glove.  “Just remember that, Naegi.”

“Yeah, I will.”  Makoto vowed.  “Thanks, Kiri, I needed to hear that.”

With that, Makoto dug into his ramen, causing the others to sweatdrop at his voracious appetite now that he wasn’t down in the dumps.

Makoto…  Kyoko smiled as she ate her own ramen much more politely, thinking Glad to have you back.

Tsumugi sniffled, wiping a tear from her eye as she breathed “That was…so touching…”

Kiki smiled, nodding as she agreed “Yeah…back then Mom always wore gloves to cover the scars on her hands, and she only took them off for those she considered family.  To show that now…when Aunt Hina and Mitarai were in the room too…it just shows how much she loved him, even before she proposed.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a loving couple before!”  Tsumugi gushed.  “They should really make a romance anime about them!”

I…think it would have more tragedy than romance, considering what happened to them…  Kiki sweatdropped.  Besides, Mom and Dad are kinda private.  Dad may like anime, but I don’t think he’d appreciate a TV show about his and Mom’s life.

“Oh, sorry.”  Tsumugi apologized bashfully as she saw Kiki’s skeptical expression.  “I got a little carried away, didn’t I?”

“Just a little bit.”  Kiki giggled.  “It’s okay though, I know you tend to get excited about this stuff.  Let’s just see what happened next.”  Kiki turned the page and continued “After we finished eating, we exchanged information about what we saw and who we knew to have died.  Once Mitarai drew up sketches on a piece of paper…”

“Even the poor Chairman.”  Ryota muttered as the four of them stared sadly at the sketch of the deceased.

“Yeah, I know.  I saw him on the monitor.”  Makoto explained.  “Before he died, he left a kind of message.  I entrust the hope of the world to you.

“The hope of the world.”  Ryota parroted, causing Kyoko to stare curiously at him.  “What do you think he meant?”

An uneasy silence permeated the room, the other participants of how to answer before Makoto suggested “We should…probably barricade the door, in case the attacker comes while we’re sleeping.”

The others nodded and stood up before glancing around the room.

“That piece of furniture over there seems like it would make a suitable barricade.”  Kyoko suggested as she pointed to something resembling a desk.

“Good idea.”  Makoto complimented.  “Mitarai-kun, mind giving me a hand?”

Ryota nodded as he followed Makoto over to the furniture and they each gripped one side of the thinner edge.

“Alright, let’s tip this over on three.  One, two, three!”

Makoto and Ryota grunted as they pushed as hard as they could, finally toppling the furniture onto its side.

“There.”  Makoto sighed as he wiped the sweat off his brow.  “Now we have a way to grip it so we’ll have an easier time pushing it against the wall.”

“Good…idea…Naegi-kun…”  Ryota panted as they wearily grabbed the nearest edge.

“Alright, one, two, three!”

Makoto and Ryota grunted in pain as they pushed with all their might.  Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, their makeshift barricade wouldn’t move an inch.  Hina sighed in exasperation as she walked over and single handedly pushed the furniture against the doo, causing the boys to fall over as they caught their breath.

“Okay.”  She stated proudly as Kyoko glanced at her bangle.  “That oughta do it, I think.”

“Wow.”  Ryota wheezed in amazement while Makoto smiled apologetically.

“Sorry.  It’s mostly my fault she has so much upper body strength.”  Makoto commented, causing the three of them to laugh.

“We’re almost at the time limit.”  Kyoko informed them.

Hina grinned as Makoto and Ryota stood up before she exclaimed confidently “Let’s see the attacker try ‘n bust their way in here now.”

“Nice work, but we may not be as safe as you think.”  Kyoko grimly chuckled.

The three of them looked at her in confusion before Makoto and Ryota reluctantly nodded, the former animator commenting “I see what you mean.  Whoever it is has complete control over this whole place.  What’s a simple barricade gonna do?”

“I suppose there’s no real way to be absolutely sure.”  Hina reluctantly admitted.

Kyoko took a silent breath before she stared straight into Makoto’s hazel eyes and told him seriously “Makoto.  Listen.”  Makoto gasped in surprise before Kyoko finished “Whatever happens next, promise not to turn your back on hope.  I’m on your side.  Don’t ever forget that.”

A confused Makoto narrowed his eyes in determination and nodded, assuring her “Yeah, I know you’re always with me.  I believe with all my heart we’re gonna win this thing.  Look at us!  How can we lose?”

Hina smiled, humming in agreement before a familiar jingle played on their bangles.  Each of them felt a pinching sensation before a wave of drowsiness swept over them.  Each of them fell to their knees as sleep overtook them.  Kyoko smiled at Makoto’s cute yawn before he too fell asleep.  At last, Kyoko’s eyes closed as she too surrendered to the darkness of slumber.

Three down…

“Kiki?  What’s wrong?”  Tsumugi asked as Kiki bit her lip.

“Three down…”  She commented.  “That’s the third time she referenced the time limits.  And that’s not all…the way she spoke to my father…she spoke with such finality.  It was like…” 

Kiki’s eyes widened in realization as she gasped in horror.

“Oh, Kami!”  She breathed as she covered her mouth with her palm.  “Did she…did she really…?”

“Did she what, Kiki?  What did you realize?”

“I…I have to make sure!  I have to keep reading…!”  With a shaky voice, Kiki turned the page and continued “With the third time limit passed, we waited for the fourth to begin.  Once I opened my eyes, I…”

Makoto gasped as he sat up and glanced around the room, taking note of the still unconscious Kyoko, Hina, and Ryota.

“We’re still alive.”  He breathed before he stood up excitedly.  “I think we did it!  No one’s been killed!”

At that moment, Hina and Ryota finally roused from slumber, groaning as they stood up

“Looks like we made it through, huh?”  Hina commented.

“Yeah.  Your barricade worked like a charm.”  Makoto complimented.  Now the game’s over, and we can all go home…what…?

Makoto stared at Kyoko’s still prone body, noticing the faint red color from underneath her purple locks.

“Kami, please no.”  He breathed before he finally spotted the trail of blood dried against her left cheek.  “Her Forbidden Action!”  He gasped before he cried “Kyoko!  Kyoko!”  What was it?!  What was her forbidden action?!  He panicked as he picked up her prone wrist.

He shook in horror as Kyoko’s forbidden action came up in taunting, red text.


Hina’s eyes welled with tears as she gasped, holding her hand to her mouth in horrified shock.

“This…This isn’t happening.”  Makoto tried to deny as tears welled in his own eyes.

“But she knew it was the fourth time limit!”  Hina cried as Makoto hung his head in grief.

“Why?”  Makoto closed his eyes as he cried “You could have…Why didn’t you say something?!”  I would have allowed myself to die in a heartbeat if I knew living meant sacrificing you!  “Kyoko…”

“Kyoko, no!”  Hina sobbed, tears finally streaming down her face in anguish.

“Not her.”  Ryota muttered in sorrow.

As the three continued to grieve their fallen comrade, a microphone hummed, catching their attention.

“Makoto Naegi.”

Munakata!  Makoto realized angrily, gasping as the vice-chairman’s voice echoed throughout the facility. 

“If you’re awake, I assume you’ve discovered what Kirigiri’s Forbidden Action was.  Do you understand now?  Do you see the truth?  Your platitudes are useless.  It’s time to cast them aside.  Time to settle once and for all whose hope is real.  Yours or mine.”

Makoto found himself taking a trip down memory lane as memories of the detective who stole his heart flooded his mind.

“Whatever happens next, promise not to turn your back on hope.  I’m on your side.  Don’t ever forget that.”

Kyoko’s final words echoed in his ears as Makoto clenched his fists and opened his tearful eyes.

Useless?  Kyoko DIED believing in those platitudes.  My hope is real, and even though Kyoko Kirigiri is gone, she’s still with me.  Together…I’ll settle this once and for all!

Kiki’s hands shook as tears welled in her eyes.  Tsumugi watched with worry and concern as the girl sniffled, tears dripping from her cheeks and staining the parchment in her hands.

“Kiki…are you…”

“WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!”  Kiki cried, the echoes of her grief threatening to shatter Tsumugi’s eardrums.

“Kiki!”  Tsumugi exclaimed in a panic as the girl continued to sob in anguish.

“Mommy…she sacrificed herself…so Daddy could live on…she loved him so much she was willing to die for him!  I…I’m so stupid!”

“Kiki, where’s this coming from?  You’re not stupid, how could you even think that?”

“When…when we were learning about the Killing School Life in middle school…when we saw Daddy cover for Mommy in the fifth trial…I…I lashed out!  I told her I hated her…I accused her of not loving Daddy!  I’M SUCH A HORRIBLE DAUGHTER!  WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!”

“Kiki, calm down!”  Tsumugi tried to console the wailing girl as she wrapped her arms around her in a calming embrace.  “You are not an awful daughter, okay?”  She told her as she stroked Kiki’s brown locks.  “You’re a wonderful daughter to your parents!  You’re their pride and joy!  You got angry and lashed out, but that doesn’t make you a terrible daughter!”

Tsumugi continued to gently shush the crying, guilt-ridden girl, rubbing her back soothingly.  Kiki’s grip slackened as the diary fell softly on the floor before she latched onto Tsumugi.  She laid her head on Tsumugi’s shoulder, sobbing into the cosplayer’s nightgown.

“Kiki, it’s okay.  Your mother is still here, she’s alive.  That poison didn’t kill her, she’s safe, and she loves you, Kiki.”

Kiki continued to sob as Tsumugi continued to console her.  Eventually, her sobs quieted, her consciousness fading as her grip slackened.  Tsumugi sighed in relief as Kiki’s whimpers turned to snores, the girl too emotionally exhausted to stay awake.

“Thank Kami…I can’t imagine how hard it was to read about your mother’s death, even if she’s still alive.” 

Tsumugi frowned as she stared down at the slumbering girl, anguish still on her face.

“…Can’t leave you alone, I should stay with you in case you have nightmares.”  Tsumugi decided before she awkwardly grabbed the blankets and draped them over the two of them.

“Good night, Kiki.  Try to have some sweet dreams.”

Kiki groaned sleepily as she squeezed Tsumugi tighter, desperate for the comfort from her best friend.

Tsumugi smiled and squeezed back before she yawned.  She felt slumber begin to take her as her heavy eyelids closed, Kiki’s room melting into black.

Chapter Text

Kiki groaned as her eyes fluttered open, the girl finally rousing from her slumber.  She stretched her arms up as she yawned before she rubbed her eye with her fist.

“Ah, good, you’re awake.”

Kiki gasped, her drowsiness now gone as she turned to Tsumugi, who was smiling with relief as she stood by Kiki’s bedside.

“Tsumugi, what are you doing here?”

“You mean you totally forgot?”  Tsumugi asked as she cocked her head.  “We were reading your parents’ diary together when you started bawling.  You were so distraught, you cried yourself to sleep and passed out.”

“Passed out…?  What are you…?”

At that moment, the memories of the previous night came rushing back to her, causing Kiki to blush in embarrassment.

“Ano…thanks, Tsumugi.  S…Sorry for how I acted…”

Tsumugi shook her head and assured her “No, it’s okay.  You had every right to be distraught after what we read.”

Kiki nodded, unable to disagree with the cosplayer no matter how much she wished she had her mother’s emotional restraint.

“Well…”  She began as she swung her legs over the bedside.  “I just hope nobody heard me last night…”

*Knock Knock*

Kiki groaned as she hung her head and muttered “Why me…?”

She got to her feet and reluctantly lumbered to the door, opening it to reveal Kirumi and Shuichi on the other side.

“Oh, Tojo-chan, Saihara-kun.”

“Good morning, Naegi-chan.”  Kirumi greeted politely.  “Saihara-kun and I heard a loud crying sound coming from your dorm room.”

Great…they did hear me…why couldn’t Dad have kept the soundproof rooms when he rebuilt Hope’s Peak Academy?

“I could not hear the exact words, but Saihara-kun deduced that you must have been distraught.”  She then held out a large plate with toast, eggs, and apple slices as she offered “So I took the liberty of bringing you breakfast in bed.”

Kiki blinked before she looked down at the plate, then smiled at Kirumi appreciatively.

“Thank you, Tojo-chan.”

“You are welcome, Naegi-chan.  If there’s anything else you require to cope with your distraught emotional state, please let me know so I may fulfill your requests.”

“Oh, no, don’t worry about it.  Honestly this is more than I would have ever asked for.”

“Ah, I see.  Then I shall see you in class, Naegi-chan.”

With that, Kirumi walked away, leaving a bashful Shuichi behind.  He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a CD case, offering it to her.

“Ano…I don’t know if you need it now, but Kaede gave this to me one time before she moved overseas.  It’s one of her favorite piano songs, Clair De Lune.  She said it was a soothing song that calms your heart.  I figured you might have more use for it than I do.”

Kiki’s cheeks flushed pink before she smiled gratefully and replied “Thanks, Saihara-kun.  I’m okay now, but I really do appreciate the gesture.”

“Oh, no worries.  Alright, I’ll see you in class then, Naegi-chan.”

As Shuichi walked away, Kiki closed the door.  She turned to Tsumugi, who was smiling cheekily at her before Kiki sighed in exasperation.

“I know what you’re going to say, so just drop it.  I do not have a crush on Saihara-kun.”

“I wasn’t going to say that!”

“You were thinking it.”  Kiki shook the thought before she asked “Anyway, what happened to my parents’ diary last night?”

“Oh, after I woke up, I picked it up off the floor and put the bookmark in.  I then put it in your drawer for you.”

“Oh, thanks, Tsumugi.”  Kiki smiled gratefully before she told the cosplayer “Alright, I don’t mean to kick you out, but I do need to eat my breakfast and get ready for class, so…”

Tsumugi nodded understandingly and agreed “Right, I understand.  I’ll go get dressed then.  See you later, Kiki.”

“Yeah, goodbye, Tsumugi.”  Kiki replied as she watched Tsumugi close the door behind her.

With that, Kiki walked back to her bed and sat down.  She picked up her chopsticks and began to eat her tamagoyaki.

“Oh, this is so good!”  Kiki gushed, her eyes sparkling with glee as her taste buds sang in joy.

She continued to eat much more voraciously, seemingly addicted to Kirumi’s amazing cooking.

“Are you sure you want to continue reading?”  Tsumugi asked worriedly as they settled on Kiki’s bed.  “I wouldn’t blame you if you needed to use an Escape Rope for tonight.”

Kiki smiled and assured her “Thanks, but I’m feeling okay.  Alright, let’s get started.”  She opened to the bookmark and began to read “After Munakata’ vice vanished from our ears, we were left alone to grieve over what we believed to be your mother’s death.  However…”

As Hina cried over Kyoko’s body, Makoto moved his right palm and wiped away Kyoko’s blood.  He looked at the blood smeared on the edge before he wiped his eyes with the opposite hand.

“Wait, what’re you…?”  Ryota asked as Makoto stood up and turned around.

“I’m going to confront Munakata.  Once and for all.  This bloodshed has to end.”

“The man’s insane!”  Ryota pointed out.

Makoto ignored Ryota’s warning, requesting “Do me a favor.  I’d like you to stay with Asahina.”

“So that’ sit?  You’re walking away?”  Ryota demanded angrily.  “You’re just gonna leave Kirigiri’s body here?  I thought the two of you were supposed to be friends!  She’s dead!  How can you brush something like this off so easily?”

How can you possibly think I’d brush this off?!  Makoto thought as he grit his teeth in anger and frustration.

He took a moment to calm his nerves before he turned to Ryota with a sad smile.

“I’m not just brushing it off.”  He turned to Kyoko’s body and admitted “I adored her.”  I loved her…more than anyone else in this world.  I dreamed of marrying her, starting a family with her…and now that’ll never happen.  “She saved my life more than once.  She kept her Forbidden Action secret so I wouldn’t do…something rash.”  She knew that I’d sacrifice myself for her if I knew, because I already did the last time…

Makoto flashed back to the fifth Class Trial of the Killing School Life, when he allowed himself to be voted as the blackened so Junko’s plan would backfire.

“She died protecting me from myself.  Kirigiri entrusted me with her last hope.  So I’ll fight.  I’ll push forward to honor her.”

He then felt a gentle hand on his shoulder, causing him to turn in surprise to see Hina smiling at him despite the tears in her eyes.

“Go for it.”  She encouraged.  “I believe in you.  Give it all you’ve got.”

Makoto nodded before his face turned serious and he instructed “Wait here.”

“Sure, let me just move the barricade out of the way first.”  Hina offered before she walked up to the piece of furniture and pushed it aside with barely any effort.

“Thanks.  Alright, wish me luck.” Makoto muttered before he opened the door and walked out, leaving Hina and Ryota alone.

Makoto wandered the halls, stopping in place as he finally allowed the tears to stream down his cheeks.  Once he finished crying, he wiped the tears from his face before he resumed walking.  He stopped in his tracks as he saw something resembling a human body, sliced cleanly in half.

Director Gekkogahara…no, the robot posing as her.  Munakata must have destroyed it.  Makoto realized as he circled around the pieces of its body.

“Whatever happens next, promise not to turn your back on hope.”

“Don’t you worry.  It’s what I do.”  Makoto muttered as he resumed his walk down the hallway.  “Blind optimism.  Perk up.”  He reminded himself as he felt his nerves tense up.  “You’re far from alone.  The hope you carry was given to you by everyone.”

He stared at the blood smear on his hand, reminding himself of why Kyoko was no longer among the world of the living.

“That’s how it works, how hope gets passed on.”  He clenched his fist as he vowed “Munakata, one way or another…I will stop you.”

“Dad…he honored Mom’s sacrifice…”  Kiki muttered.  “He was determined to carry on and put an end to it, even though he was still grieving!”

“I gotta say, I have to admire his determination, especially when his grief was so raw!”  Tsumugi commented.  “It’s like when Edge’s anger against Rubicante allowed him to unlock his secret abilities!”

Kiki nodded, agreeing “Yeah, Dad always had a talent for standing strong even when things were the worst.”

“Yeah, but what did he hope to do against Munakata?”  Tsumugi wondered.  “You dad’s a total pacifist, and Munakata has his super-katana!  He’d cut your father down like soft butter!”

“Well, Dad must’ve had a plan, or else he wouldn’t be here today.”  Kiki pointed out as she turned the page.  “Let’s keep reading and find out.”  She cleared her throat and continued “At last, I arrived in the monitoring room.  I stepped on some broken glass and…”

“So you’ve come.”  Kyosuke stated with a widened eye.

“That’s right.”  Makoto narrowed his eyes as he replied seriously “No second guessing.  No stalling.”

“I’ve never had the luxury of uncertainty.”  Kyosuke shot back, his head still turned away from Makoto.

“There’s no point in us killing each other.”  Makoto stated as he walked forward.  “I’ve come to ask for your help.  We can end this game together.”

“Your words carry no weight.”  Kyosuke shot back as he finally stood up and turned around.  “I’ve told you this.  We’re dancing in circles here.”

Once Kyosuke drew his blade, an unflinching Makoto rejected “You couldn’t be more wrong.”

Kyosuke grit his teeth and activated his blade before he charged.  Makoto dodged out of the way, ducking under Kyosuke’s swings before he ran for the nearby door.

Makoto closed it behind him, leaving Kyosuke alone as he walked through the hallway.

Think, Naegi, think!  That door won’t hold Munakata for long, where…there!

Makoto powerwalked to the nearby door, opening it before he entered the room.

“Well…that didn’t go well.”  Tsumugi deadpanned.

“I still think Dad has a plan.”  Kiki replied optimistically.  “I think we can infer that Dad left that last door open.  That means that he wanted Munakata to follow him.”

“Huh?”  Tsumugi cocked her head in confusion as she wondered “But why would he want that?”

“Let’s find out.”  Kiki’s eyes focused on the next paragraph as she continued reading “I want into the next room and waited until…”

“Is this where you’d prefer to end it?”  Kyosuke questioned as he walked into a steam filled room, spotting Makoto’s silhouette in the fog.

At that moment, the water sprinklers turned on, dousing them both in water.  Kyosuke looked down to see a puddle of water flowing towards his feet.

Now!  Makoto thought as he dropped two live electrical wires into the puddle, causing it to sparkle with electricity.  That should…huh?  Where’d he go?  His katana!

At that moment, Kyosuke stabbed his katana into the puddle.  Makoto grunted in frustration as the puddle turned to steam before he cried out in pain.

What the…the chuusen?  Makoto realized as a single dart pierced his left leg.

He hissed as he gripped the wound to ease the pain.  He looked up to see the sparkle coming from Kyosuke’s wrist, confirming Makoto’s hypothesis.

Gotta…get away…  Makoto thought as he turned around and hobbled out of the room, using the remaining steam for cover.

Once the steam evaporated, Kyosuke dropped down from the ceiling and picked up his katana.  He glanced around the room until his eye focused on the trail of blood Makoto left behind.

Can’t run now even if I didn’t have this stupid bangle on my wrist.  Makoto thought as he trudged through the hallway, his leg crying out in pain as he dragged it.  “So close.”  Makoto muttered as he noticed a fire extinguisher lying on the ground.  Wait…that’s the one Hina threw at Munakata when he was fighting the Great Gozu!  He glanced around the room, the cogs turning in his brain as he realized I have an idea!

Makoto watched, crouching from his hiding spot as he gripped the extinguisher nervously.  Kyosuke’s footsteps echoed in his ear as the vice-chairman walked closer and closer to the hidden former luckster.


Makoto leapt out, bellowing and raising the extinguisher above his head.  Before he could attack Kyosuke with it, the swordsman merely kicked Makoto in the stomach, pushing him back and forcing Makoto on his knees.

“If you intend to take your quarry by surprise, don’t leave a trail of blood.”

Well, it was worth a try…!  Makoto thought as he got to his feet with a pained groan.  “I’m not done.”  He insisted as he aimed the extinguisher at Kyosuke, only for nothing to come out of the nozzle.  “What?  Come on!”  He groaned, frustrated.  That’s right, it didn’t work for Hina either!

“Doesn’t seem to work.”  Kyosuke taunted.  “I’d say your notorious lucky streak has run its course.”

Refusing to give up, Makoto threw the extinguisher at Kyosuke, only for him to bat it aside with his blade.  At that moment though, steam finally emitted from the extinguisher before the pressure caused it to fly right at Kyosuke.  All he could do was turn his head before it hit him in the back, stunning him as steam covered the corridor.

“Damn!  Where’s he gone now?”  Kyosuke coughed before Makoto bellowed and dove at him, startling the vice-chairman as the two tumbled down the chasm.

Makoto landed flat on his back, on top of some debris while Kyosuke landed a few feet away.  As Makoto groaned in pain, Kyosuke walked up to him, katana in hand.  He raised it above his head and bellowed as he brought it down towards Makoto, intending to end the former luckster’s life.  At the last moment though, he stopped, gritting his teeth as the edge hovered a mere inch from his nose.

“Damn you, Makoto Naegi.”  Kyosuke cursed.

“Why’d you stop?”  Makoto asked rhetorically as he opened his eyes.  “You can’t kill me, can you?  I knew you would be drawn to this place.  After all, we’ve been here before.”

Makoto flashed back to his prior encounters with Kyosuke when he escaped with Hina and the Great Gozu, as well as when the vice-chairman cornered him in the monitoring room.

“The first time, you let me get away.  And when you cornered me in the Monitoring Room, you broke the glass to get in.  I found out your Forbidden Action.  You can’t open doors.  That’s the reason you can’t kill me right now.  If you did, you’d be trapped in here.”

Kyosuke’s silence was all the admission Makoto needed as he removed his blade, allowing Makoto to finally sit up.

“Now then, can we please talk?”

“There’s no point.”  Kyosuke denied after a tense silence.

He stabbed his katana into the ground as he approached Makoto.

“Listen, I’ll make you a deal, all right?”  Makoto tried to bargain.  “Hear me out and I’ll open the door.  I promise.”  Makoto wheezed as Kyosuke grabbed him by the throat and lifted him into the air.

“Enough!”  Kyosuke growled.  “You’re the enemy!”

“No, I’m not!  Believe me!”

Kyosuke roared and tossed Makoto aside, causing him to groan in pain as he landed roughly on the concrete floor.

“When did despair first get its hooks into you?”  Kyosuke interrogated as Makoto groaned in pain.  He walked forward and questioned “Was it the Mutual Killing Game at Hope’s Peak that seduced you into darkness?”

“No.”  Makoto denied as he got on his knees.  “Listen, I’m not on the side of despair!”

“Don’t lie to me.”  Kyosuke growled as he lifted Makoto by the front of his shirt.

“We shouldn’t have been at odds.”  Makoto grunted.  “We can beat this…Together…As a team.”

“You keep saying that.  Need I remind you while you paid lip service to vacuous platitudes, your friend Kirigiri died!”

Makoto gasped for breath as Kyosuke released him, causing the former luckster to fall flat on his face.

“You still don’t get it?  Someone you loved gave her life upholding your naïve ideals!  Despair must die.  Doesn’t matter who the mastermind is.  I will do whatever must be done to thwart them.  No sacrifice is too dear.  No cost too great.  That is true hope!”

“That’s not true.”  Makoto denied, narrowing his eyes as he struggled to get up, groaning in pain.  Kyoko’s life was already too great a cost, along with everyone else who died in this game!  “That isn’t hope!”  He looked up at Kyosuke’s condescending expression as he continued “Listen to yourself!  All you’re talking about is ending despair, that’s it!  Even if that’s possible, it’s not the same!  You’ve got tunnel vision.  Despair’s all you can see.  Where’s hope?  It’s not even part of the equation!”

“Don’t turn this around.”  Kyosuke revealed “Chairman Tengan told me everything.  In my heart, I know what Tengan said was true.  All of us are tainted.  In the end, even Yukizome gave in.  When the children died, she asked me, Who could do such a thing?  And I was a fool.  She answered her own question in a photograph.  She was the one responsible.”

No…Director Yukizome…killed children…?!  Makoto wondered, his eyes widening as Kyosuke looked towards the ceiling, as if he was begging the heavens for answers.

“When did it happen?  When did she first succumb?”  He looked down as he admitted “I once believed her immune.”  He raised his head to glare at Makoto as he resolved “It doesn’t matter.  Every trace of despair shall burn.  Even the memory of it will turn to ash.”

“Stop talking like that!”  Makoto cried as he got to his knees.  “She was a person!”  Even if you’re right and she did do those things, that doesn’t mean she wasn’t a person with hopes and dreams!  She shouldn’t be unremembered!  “She meant something to you.”

Makoto groaned as he struggled onto his feet, glaring with determination and conviction at Kyosuke.

“I don’t care what she did!  She’s worth more!”

“You know nothing!  Nothing!”  Kyosuke growled in grief as he hoisted Makoto by the collar and shoved him against the nearest wall.  “Nothing!  Nothing!  Nothing!  Nothing!”  He cried as he repeatedly punched Makoto in the face, blood pouring from his forehead onto Kyosuke’s knuckles.

“Yes I do!”  Makoto weakly averted his gaze as he emotionally admitted “I know…If Kyoko had turned to despair…betrayed every last one of us…”  Tears welled in his eyes as he continued “…I know, even if I had to resort to killing her, I would always be grateful for the person she was.  I’d always think of her as someone I couldn’t possibly have lived without!”  I loved her…I loved her with all my heart!

At that moment, Kyosuke’s face changed, his vengeful, malicious expression shifting to one of surprise and shock as Makoto’s Truth Bullet shattered the contradiction he had been living under.

“Chisa.”  Kyosuke breathed in grief as he finally released Makoto.  “When?  How did it happen?”

He grit his teeth before screaming in anguish, mourning the love he had lost, just as Makoto silently mourned the detective he loved and lost.  As he finally let his tears flow, the vice-chairman felt his knees wobble.  He backed away and sat down on the rubble that Makoto had previously laid on.

“I’m sorry, Kyosuke.”

“Where did we go wrong?  How could I have known it would all end up like this?”

A somber silence passed, the two mourning their respective loves before the door opened and Hina’s voice echoed in their ears.


Makoto finally collapsed, his knees giving out as he slid down the wall and landed on his rear.

“Oh Kami, are you okay?”  Hina cried as she and Ryota ran up to him.

She fell to her knees and rested her hands on his shoulders before he smiled and chuckled “You’re not really that good at waiting.”

Hina grunted and glared at the despondent Kyosuke before she demanded “The killing is over!  Do you hear me?”  She held up Kyoko’s notebook and revealed “I know who the Attacker is.  It’s all here.”

Makoto and Kyosuke’s eyes widened in shock as they took in what Hina just said.

Kyoko…did she…did she really solve the mystery…before she died…?

“At last…”  Kiki sighed in relief as she replaced the bookmark and closed the diary.  “The killing’s over, but it came at too high of a price and cost too many lives.”  And nearly took away my mom!

“Yeah, but at least now everyone’s working together.”  Tsumugi commented.  “That’s gotta be something, right?  Now it’s only a matter of time until they escape!”

“Yeah, now I see how Munakata had a change of heart.”  Kiki agreed, reconciling the Kyosuke Munakata she had just spent over two weeks reading about with the one who had saved her life last year.

“So, you wanna keep reading?”  Asked excitedly.  “I’m kind of excited to see what information your mother left behind.”

“…Not tonight, I don’t think.  I wanna get to bed a little early tonight.”

“…Stupid cliffhanger…”  Tsumugi grumbled, crossing her arms in a pout.

Kiki giggled as she decided “Tomorrow, okay Tsumugi?”

“Okay…”  Tsumugi sighed as she swung her legs over the bed and stood up.  “Sweet dreams, Kiki.”

“Good night, Tsumugi.”  Kiki smiled as Tsumugi walked out of the room and closed the door behind her.  “Alright, time for bed.”  Kiki yawned as she put the diary on her bedside table.

Once she crawled under the covers, she curled up and allowed her eyes to close.  Her room faded into darkness as she slipped into slumber.

Chapter Text

“Alright Kiki, you ready to see what your mother deduced about the killing game?”

Kiki nodded solemnly as she opened the diary and read from the top of the page.  “After your Aunt Hina revealed that she knew who the attacker was, we all sat down.  The shock of the news needed time to sink in.  Finally, as we all caught our breath…”

“So you, of all people, figured out who the Attacker is.”  Kyosuke spat in disbelief.

“Munakata, please.”  Makoto gently scolded as Kyosuke merely stared quietly at them.  “We owe it to her to listen.  Where’s the harm in that?”  Besides, if I’m right, what Hina’s about to say is Kyoko’s last testament.

After a tense moment of silence, Kyosuke closed his eye and exhaled in concession.  “Start talking.”  He demanded as he opened his eye, though his voice lacked any of the bite it once had.

“Go on.”  Makoto urged the former swimmer.

“Right, yes.”   She held up the notebook in her hand and explained “Well, these are all the notes Kyoko had made up to this point, and…”  She flipped through the notebook until she settled on a page.  “Yeah.  There.  Have a look.”

Makoto focused intently as he read Kyoko’s notes, the last reminder of his beloved detective.  “The only latent prints found at any of the crime scenes have been from the victims themselves.  Stab wounds are situated in easily accessible areas of the body.  In other words…”  Makoto’s eyes widened in shock as he breathed “Suicide?”  Makoto regained a minor degree of composure before he finished “…is the only logical conclusion that fits the facts.”

“She can’t have been serious.”  Ryota exclaimed in disbelief.

“You see?”  Hina pointed out.  “Nobody was actually murdered.”

“That’s insanity!”  Ryota denied.  “Why would they’ve killed themselves?  What could possibly have pushed them over the edge?”

“Let me see that for a minute.”

Makoto gently took Kyoko’s notebook from Hina before he began to intensely comb its contents, analyzing every single punctuation point for information.  Eventually he stopped on a page with a diagram drawn on it.

“She made a map of the rooms showing where the victims were found, where the survivors stayed, and the monitors.”

Ryota grit his teeth in anguish as Hina asked “So you think there’s some kind of connection?”

“Ano…”  Makoto felt the gears turning in his head as he concluded “Now that you mention it, there has to be.”  Kyoko, what was going through your head when you wrote these notes?  He closed his eyes and sifted through his memories.  “One was there.  One was there.  In fact, I think that’s true of every crime scene.”

Makoto opened his eyes, staring intently at the diagram Kyoko had drawn before her death.

“Yeah, whenever we found a victim, there was always a monitor.”  Makoto mimicked Kyoko’s thinking gesture, resting his finger against his chin as he admitted “Of course, that doesn’t explain the role they played.”  We need to figure out conclusively what happened when the victims looked into the monitors…

Makoto hummed in contemplation before he gingerly stood up.  Hina rushed to support him as he got to his feet and turned to the vice-chairman.  There’s only one thing to do…  “All right, Munakata.  I have a proposition.”

“Su…Suicide?!”  Kiki exclaimed in shock.

“It is unbelievable, though it does create a valid interpretation of Munakata’s hypothesis that everyone was the attacker.”  Tsumugi pointed out.  “If they all committed suicide, then it technically counts as killing one person.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right…”  Kiki admitted.  “All those people died…for nothing…they suspected each other…for nothing…”

“How cruel…”  Tsumugi muttered.  “Still, at least your mother seemed to figure it out before she was incapacitated.”

“Yeah…that’s Mom, all right.”  Kiki gave a sad, yet proud smile.  “I just wish it hadn’t cost her so dearly.”

Tsumugi nodded sympathetically before she pondered “What I’m wondering is how the monitors caused the victims to commit suicide…and how your father found out the truth.”

Kiki nodded before she turned the page and continued reading “After I made my proposition to Munakata, we went to an empty hallway with monitors attached to the walls.  After we went inside…”

“I’d like to go on record saying this is a terrible idea.”  Everyone stared at Makoto, now bound by a metal cable as he knelt on the floor.  “I get what you’re doing, but if you’re right, you’re dead.”

Makoto merely smiled at Hina and told her “It’ll all be fine, Asahina.  Why else do you think I’d have Munakata tie me up like this?”

“Still not the most foolproof plan.”

“Hey, guys, we’re almost at the, ano, time limit.”  Ryota pointed out.

With a worried frown on her face, Hina clenched her fist against her heart as she stared down at Makoto.  “Listen, whatever you expect to get out of this, just swear to me Kyoko’s death hasn’t pushed you past some kind of breaking point, okay?”

Makoto chuckled and shook his head.  “She’d be pissed at me if it had.”  Besides, I promised as far back as Hope’s Peak Academy that I’d carry the memories of my friends who couldn’t make it out alive.  I’m not breaking that vow now, especially not to Kyoko!  “I would never dishonor her memory like that.”

Makoto stared up at the monitor on the ceiling as he remembered his beloved detective fondly.

“She looked for the truth.  Nothing kept her from searching.  She held out hope ‘till the bitter end.  After all, if she could do it, then I’d darn-well better, right?  And plus…” 

Komaru’s face flashed in his mind as Hina asked “What?”

“I made a promise to my little sister.  I told her I’d come and get her once this was all over.”  Makoto clenched his fists in determination.  “So, yeah.  I intend to be a survivor.”

“Wow…that’s intense.”  Tsumugi breathed in awe.  “Your father was totally dedicated to honoring your mother’s memory.”

“Yeah, though I have to agree with Aunt Hina, his plan was kinda stupid.”  Kiki grimaced, feeling guilty about insulting her own father.  “He put himself in harm’s way just to test out Mom’s hypothesis.  If even one thing went wrong, Mom could have woken up to a world without him!”

“Yeah, but the fact that your parents are both here proves his plan worked, right?”  Tsumugi pointed out, causing Kiki to sigh in concession.

“I guess so…guess there’s only one way to find out.”  Kiki glanced at the next page and continued reading.  “The others went into another room before the time limit expired.  Once the sedative wore off, I awoke to a loud beeping sound followed by…”

“Top o’ the morning to ya!”  Makoto gasped at the sound of Monokuma’s voice as he stared up at the monitor, now activated with Monokuma’s hellish image on full display.  “Wakey-wakey, eggs and bakey!  Attacker!  Come out, come out wherever you are!  Yep, it’s time to work your bloody magic.  Who shall be the target for today?”

Monnokuma stopped, staring in surprise at the defiant Makoto.

“Ah, well bust my buttons, it’s you!  What?  There must…”

“That’s how it’s done.”  Makoto realized as Monokuma droned on.  The monitors must do something to persuade the victim into committing suicide…and that’s not all that are involved.  “The bangles.  They wake you up when you’re near a monitor.”  Makoto glared angrily at the monitor and demanded “What’s going on?  What are you planning?”

“…what everyone in your position says.”  Monokuma continued as if Makoto had said nothing at all.  “C’mon.  Being the Attacker ain’t that bad.  Get-Get-Get this!  Believe it or not…”

“This isn’t live.”  Makoto realized.  “It’s a recording.”

“Hm?  Eager to find out what it is?  Sure you are.  That’s what I like about you.  Now, pay close attention.”

Makoto watched as the monitor feed changed to a black screen with Monokuma’s rotating, red eye.  It began to count down from three, Makoto’s heart beating with each change of the numbers before it changed to a low-quality theatre production.

Monokuma’s Gloomy Sunday…?  And what’s with the awful music?!  Makoto wondered as he stared at the screen.  All of a sudden, the screen began to flash with different colored lights.  What…what’s happening…?  Makoto thought as he felt the hallway bleed out of existence, turning everything around him to black.

“Huh?”  Kiki frowned as she noted “The page stops there.”

“Hey, no fair!”  Tsumugi whined.  “It can’t just end on a cliffhanger!”

This isn’t an anime, Tsumugi…  Kiki deadpanned as she turned the page.  “Hey, it looks like there’s a note here from Dad.”

“What does it say?”  Tsumugi asked curiously before Kiki began to read.


I know your mother and I promised that we wouldn’t keep secrets from you anymore, and believe me, I went back and forth so many times over whether to tell you what that monitor made me see.  But…I’ve finally decided…that what I saw is something that I can’t possibly subject you to, even as a written summary.

What I saw back there…it was the most horrific thing I had ever experienced.  It was so terrible, that to this day, it still gives me chronic nightmares.  It was so awful, it threatened my engagement and my marriage to your mother in our first year.  That is something nobody should ever have to know about, the horror, the trauma, the despair, I can’t in good conscience subject you to that.

I know I sound like a hypocrite right now, but your mother and I swore we’d protect you and your siblings from what we suffered.  Please, let us protect you from this at least.  Some things are better left unsaid, and what I saw back there is one of them.  Please forgive me for keeping this one secret of my past from you.  I love you, Kiki Naegi.

-Your father,

Makoto Naegi.”

“Dad…”  Kiki sniffled, tears welling in her eyes as she felt touched by how much her father loved and wanted to protect her.

“Kiki…are you okay…?”  Tsumugi asked, a concerned frown on her face.

Kiki smiled at her as she wiped her eyes with her wrist.  “I’m fine, Tsumugi…let’s just continue.”  She turned the page and continued to read.

“By the time the monitor had turned off, I no longer had any sense or semblance of where I was.  All I could feel was despair; I had lost all hope.  I thrashed on the floor in anguish, screaming when…”

A metallic clatter echoed in Makoto’s ears as he gasped for breath.  He weakly lifted his head, spotting a curved, metallic knife.  He gingerly crawled over to it in desperation until he gripped the hilt with his right hand.  With his restraints loosened and pooled at his feet, Makoto held the tip of the knife against his heart.

“Sure.  On my way.”  Makoto muttered, an unnerving grin stretching from ear to ear as his eyes seemed to turn into glowing red swirls.

He drew the knife back in preparation to end his own life, only to gasp in shock as it was knocked away from him.

“Uh…?”  He yelped in pain as he was lifted by his wrist and pinned to the nearby wall by a crushing elbow.

Makoto made a choking sound as a familiar pair of angry, pink eyes glared into his soul.  “You’re the man who defeated Junko Enoshima.”


“If you think I’m gonna let you kill yourself, you’re dumber than you look!”

Makoto’s eyes turned back to normal, now shaken out of his despair.  His hazy vision cleared, revealing the bruised, pissed off Sakakura, whose teeth clenched together in angry determination.

“Hear me, ya little punk?  Not now.  Not ever!”

“He…he tried to kill himself?!”  Tsumugi shrieked, eyes widened in shock as Kiki struggled to keep her hands from trembling.

“…Now I understand.”  Tsumugi turned to the frowning Kiki with confusion.  “…Why Dad honored Sakakura…he saved his life back there…it…it still doesn’t excuse what he did to Mom and Dad…but…I can’t ignore that he’s the reason Dad’s still alive today…”

Tsumugi could only nod, lost for words for once as Kiki glanced at the next page.  “Sakakura threw me against the wall, wracking my body in pain.  As I looked up at him in shock…”

“How are you even…?”  Makoto coughed as Juzo picked up the dagger.

“You wanna die so bad, allow me.”

Holy…is he still planning on killing me?!  Then why did he save me from myself?!

Makoto closed his eyes and held his arms in front of him in a panic, awaiting the end.  I…I’m sorry, Kyoko…I couldn’t survive until the end…huh?

Another, quieter metallic clang caused Makoto to open his eyes.

“Damn it.”  Juzo grunted.

What the…what happened to you?!  “How…How are you still awake?” 

Makoto’s eyes widened as Makoto took another look at the former boxer.  Blood pooled around his abdomen from a single incision against his upper stomach.  His left hand had been cleanly severed, leaving him with only his right.  The blood from his left hand had been stemmed with a bandage that had long since been stained red.

“You cut off your arm?  That’s one way, I guess.”  That’s how he removed his bangle without violating the rules…

“Figured I could make the scene before it happened.”  Juzo gasped.  “I could meet whoever’s behind this Kami-forsaken game face-to-face.  Take the Attacker and be done with it.”

Makoto gasped before his eyes narrowed at the exhausted Juzo.  He needs to know the truth.  “There is no Attacker.  There never was.”


Makoto looked up at the monitor as he revealed “It was suicide.  The victims, they were all brainwashed into killing themselves by what they saw on the monitors.  When the time limit was up, we were all knocked unconscious.  But whoever was closest to a monitor got woken up by a special signal from their bangles.  Awake and alone, they were subjected to a video.  After that…”

Makoto felt the bile threaten to travel up his throat as he imagined the pain and suffering all the other victims must have felt while they died.

To think…if it wasn’t for Sakakura…I would have joined them…

“What sicko piece of shit thinks this is entertaining?”

“That I don’t know.  At least not yet.  But they wouldn’t even have to be here for it to work.”

“What are you tellin’ me?”  Juzo questioned weakly.  “They could’ve set this up?  Controlled it remotely?”

“Probably.”  Makoto smiled as he pointed out “On the bright side, at least we don’t have to suspect each other anymore.”

Makoto frowned as Juzo burst out into a mixture of chuckles and coughs, startling the former luckster.  “What are we supposed to do now?  It’s all a shell game.  We’ve been manipulated from some unknown other place.  Killing each other like a bunch of animals.  Yukizome.  Gozu.  Kimura.  Some video brainwashed ‘em into taking their own lives?  All the horrible things we’ve done to smoke out the killer and it’s been us.”

The hand gripping the dagger shook as Juzo realized just how ridiculous his efforts to snuff out Makoto and his friends were.

“Son of a bitch!”  He grunted as he stabbed the dagger into the ground, causing the blade to break.

Juzo bowed his head in shame before he gingerly got to his feet, groaning in pain.  “What are you doing?”  Makoto asked as Juzo gripped his severed arm.

Juzo stayed so silent, one would have thought he had suddenly died.  It was at that moment that Makoto got to his feet, a determined fire in his eyes.

“Let’s end this game.”  For all the people who died!  “If we destroy all the monitors, that should do it.”  And unlike the Killing School Life, there’s no rule saying we can’t destroy the monitors.

“Heh.”  Juzo turned to Makoto with a skeptic smirk on his face.  “You got any idea how many of those things there are?”


“Don’t let me stop you.  Just don’t expect me to help either.”

But why?!  I know it’s a lot of work, but it’s the best plan we got! 

Juzo barely took two steps before he stopped in his tracks.  “True story.  I wanted you to die.  Heh.  I’d have gladly done it myself.  See, I’m not a man who can forgive and forget.  I hated you.  No, from the moment you walked out of Hope’s Peak academy alive, I loathed you.  Despised you.”

Makoto’s eyes widened in sad shock as he took in Juzo’s admission.  Juzo Sakakura…hated me…the moment I joined the Future Foundation?  That explains why we never got along in the office…but why…?  What did I do to earn his hatred?!

“So I’m not gonna lie, when Munakata told you to kill yourself, I thought, It’s about damn time.

“But why?  I don’t…”

“Because…you defeated Junko Enoshima.”  Juzo stated simply as he looked over his shoulder to glare at the former luckster.  Makoto gasped as Juzo lamented “That, that’s right.  Bitch played me like a fiddle.  I knew she was up to something and I kept my mouth shut.  I had one job and I botched it.  This is the result.  It’s all on me.  I couldn’t stop everyone dying.  I couldn’t kill you for Munakata.  And in the end, he threw me away.  Like an old pair of boots.”

So…that’s how he got that wound!  Munakata…stabbed him!  But I can’t just let this go!  Sakakura needs to know his self-worth, regardless of what mistakes he made before the Tragedy!  “He was wrong.  It’s the game.  The man was fooled into believing you’d gone over to the enemy!”

“No kidding.”  Juzo mumbled as he continued to walk away.

Makoto could only watch sadly as Juzo continued to walk away, out of sight, but not out of mind.

“Sakakura…hated my dad…because how he defeated Enoshima?”  Kiki muttered in shock.  “But…why?  Dad never wanted to defeat some evil mastermind!  He just wanted to survive and get out!  He even gave Junko a choice to live!”

“Yeah, that’s no reason to want to kill someone!”  Tsumugi concurred with her best friend.  “And where did he go?  Why didn’t he go and help your dad destroy all the monitors?”

“Only one way to find out…”  Kiki grimaced as she turned the page.  “After Sakakura walked away, I rushed back into the room where your Aunt Hina, Munakata, and Mitarai were sleeping.  As soon as I opened the door…”

“Asahina!  Munakata!  Mitarai!”  Makoto bellowed as all three participants groaned, their eyes focusing on the relieved young man.

“Na…Naegi…?”  Hina mumbled.

“Hmph, so it seems you’ve survived your little experiment.”  Kyosuke muttered as he got to his feet.

“Does…does that mean Director Kirigiri’s theory was wrong?”

“No, Mitarai-kun, it was right!”  Everyone stared in shock before Makoto told them “We need to take down all the monitors!  They contain a knife in each of them that the victims used to kill themselves.  Just trust me on this!”

“Oh…okay…”  Hina yawned one last time before her eyes narrowed, fully alert and determined as she placed her faith in Makoto’s gut.  “Alright, let’s go trash one of these monitors.”

Hina marched over to one of the monitors before she gripped it by its sides with her bare hands.  With a bellow that threatened to pierce their ears, Hina ripped it off the wall and tossed it against the ground.  They watched as the screen shattered, allowing a familiar dagger to fall on the floor.

“Oh snap!”   Hina exclaimed in shock.  “Kyoko’s theory was bang-on!  I don’t believe it.”  Makoto’s eyes lowered as Hina picked up the dagger.  “Everyone really was forced to kill themselves.  Okay, but by who?”

Makoto glanced at Ryota, who seemed to be absorbed in his own thoughts, as he stared down at his shoes.  As the former animator seemed to gasp in realization, Kyosuke finally spoke, attracting the others’ attention.

“There’s only one possibility.  Apart from me, there’s only one human being capable of altering this facility’s machinery, who knows it like the back of his hand.  He warned me.  Told me that in a manner of speaking the Attacker was all of us.  I refused to believe him.  He built the Foundation from the ground up.  In fact, he was the former Headmaster of Hope’s Peak.  Kazuo Tengan.”

Everyone gasped in shock, Makoto thinking Chairman Munakata…was the…mastermind…?!

“Oh, that can’t be right!”  Hina denied.

I wish that were the truth, Hina…  Makoto thought sadly.  I wish that were the truth…

“We’ve established that those closest to a monitor when the time limit ran out were compelled to commit suicide.”  Kyosuke pointed out.  “Tengan’s Forbidden Action was answering a question with a lie.  And since any of us could potentially become the Attacker, he told me the truth.”

“But…Oh Kami…”  Hina breathed, finally accepting the horrible truth of the matter.  “Why would Chairman Tengan want us all to kill each other?”

“Is it not perfectly obvious?  Kazuo Tengan…was the true Remnant of Despair.”

“No way!”

“That can’t be the answer!”  Ryota exclaimed in agreement with Hina.  “He was the Foundation’s leader for Kami’s sake!  How could…?  How could he do such a thing?”

“Who knows?”  Kyosuke shrugged.  “But he’s the only solution.”  As everyone fell silent, Kyosuke finally turned to Makoto and asked “Naegi.  Have I told you?  Chisa Yukizome was with the Remnants as well.”

“No.”  Hina denied.

“But she was my teacher.”  Ryota defended the deceased former teacher.

“I know.”  Kyosuke admitted.  “She was part of an undercover investigation into Hope’s Peak while you were there.  Everything we could find, every shred of evidence, every possible lead pointed directly at Junko Enoshima.”

In other words, you had the chance to stop Junko before she could put the worst of her plan into action…  Makoto realized.

“And yet, Yukizome and Sakakura both insisted on her innocence.  Foolishly, I took them at their word.”

That’s what Sakakura meant when he said that Junko played him.  She must have said something to keep him quiet…and allow her plan to go unimpeded!  Makoto realized.

“Worst mistake of my life.”  Kyosuke clenched his fist as he barely refrained from growling.  “They were my friends, and Tengan took advantage of that.”

Ryota fell to his knees, eyes widened in shock as his emotional composure finally shattered.  “I didn’t know.”

Makoto stared at Ryota sympathetically before the lights dimmed, causing everyone to gasp in shock.

“Okay, what’s happening?”  Hina exclaimed as the now orange lights glowed, illuminating the hallway.

“Those are the emergency lights.”  Makoto realized.

“Naegi, take a look.”  Hina looked up at the monitors.  “I think the monitors are offline.  The power’s been shut off!”

“But by who?”  Makoto wondered.  And why?

“Sakakura!”  Kyosuke gasped as the gears turned in his head.  “He must be in the breaker room!  From there, he can cut off power to the entire building!”

“You think he’d do that?”  Is that the plan Sakakura had in mind when we split up?

“I don’t like this, guys.”  Hina admitted dreadfully.  “Something tells me we should’ve found the breaker room first.”

“Munakata, please.”  Makoto pleaded as he turned to the vice-chairman.  “He’s out there trying to save you.  Got to him.  He’s not the enemy!”

Kyosuke looked down in shame, recalling how he had betrayed his best friend.  “Even if you’re right…I ran him through and left him to die.  He was my…my friend.”

Is your friend!  If he didn’t believe in you, he wouldn’t be doing this!  Please!  You have to let him know!  Look around you.  The power’s been cut off.  He’s shutting down the game.  All for you!”

With a single sigh, Kyosuke turned around and quietly walked away.  His slow pace gradually turned into a mad, desperate dash as he rushed to save his best friend.

Good luck, Kyosuke.  Makoto hoped for the best as Kyosuke Munakata disappeared from sight, but certainly not from mind.

Barely a minute had passed when a loud beep echoed from his, Hina, and Ryota’s wrists.  What the…what’s going on?!  Why are our bangles…huh?!

Everyone stared in awe as the bangles opened, falling loosely off their wrists.  “The arm bangles!”  Sakakura…he did it…he stopped the game!

“So that’s what his plan was…”  Kiki realized.  “That’s why he didn’t just try to destroy the monitors one-by-one…he shut them all down and deactivated the bangles all at once!”

“He completed two major quests at once!”  Tsumugi looked down sadly.  “It’s too bad he wasn’t able to enjoy the experience boost!”

Kiki nodded, concurring “Yeah…with how much he had bene bleeding, there’s no way he’d be able to survive that for long…”

Shaking the melancholy thoughts out of her head, Tsumugi wondered “So…what was your father doing once his bangle had been deactivated?  Did he go back and try to retrieve your mother’s body?”

“Let’s see…”  Kiki muttered as she turned the page.  “Once it sunk in that we no longer had to abide by the rules of the game, I turned to Mitarai and told him what was on my mind.”

“So, Mitarai.”  Makoto began gently.  “The video I saw, it was able to brainwash a person into actually killing themselves.  Think it’s fair to assume that’s not something a normal person could make?”

“Wait…”  Ryota weakly objected.

“I mean, seriously, I wouldn’t even know where to begin.  You’re the former Ultimate Animator.  Do you know anything about it?”  I hate even considering that you might have bene involved in all this…but I’ve been deceived by my friends before, so I need to at least consider the possibility…that’s what Kyoko would have done…

“I…I’m sorry.  But it wasn’t me.”  Ryota muttered, causing Makoto to feel a small rush of relief.

“No, I wasn’t accusing you…”

“Blame Junko Enoshima!”  Ryota bellowed, turning to glare angrily at Makoto.  “She used my technology!”

“Junko Enoshima?”  Ryota averted his gaze, kicking himself for his slip-up.  “What are you talking about?”

Before the interrogation could continue, a ringing sound echoed from Ryota’s pocket.  Surprised, he took it out of his pocket and looked at the screen, reading “You have a message from Tengan.”

“It’s Tengan.”  Shock laced into his voice as he stared incredulously at the phone.

Makoto and Hina’s eyes widened in shock as Makoto thought But how?  Tengan’s…dead…?  So how…could he have sent a message to Mitarai?!

“Tengan’s ghost sent a message from the grave!”  Tsumugi nearly shrieked.  “He set out to curse Mitarai when he died!”

Kiki sweatdropped, telling her skeptically “I…don’t think that’s what happened, Tsumugi.”  With a heavy sigh, she admitted “What I’m more worried about is Mitarai himself.  Like Dad said, only someone skilled in animation could make something effective enough to make people commit suicide.”

“He did seem rather defensive…”  Tsumugi admitted before her eyes widened in shock.  “Wait, are you saying that he really did have a hand in the killing games?”

“…I don’t know if he was a willing participant…he was always a little too rattled to make me believe that.  It is more believable however that he was forced to provide the contributions to the respective killing games.”

“But how could he have been forced to provide those things?  What did Junko Enoshima use to persuade him?”

“Maybe it’ll be explained in tomorrow’s chapter.”  Kiki suggested as she placed the bookmark on the current page and closed the diary.  As Tsumugi opened her mouth to protest, Kiki cut her off.  “As tempting as it is to keep reading, it’s late, and I need to get some sleep for tomorrow’s test.”

“Yeah, good point.”  Tsumugi sighed before she reluctantly slid off the bed.  “Well, good night, Kiki.”

“Sweet dreams, Tsumugi.”  Kiki smiled at her friend as she walked out the door, closing it behind her.

Yawning, she put the diary on her bedside and crawled under the covers.  Once she curled up and yawned one last time, she closed her heavy eyelids and succumbed to slumber.

Chapter Text

“Alright Kiki, shall we see how Chairman Tengan sent Mitarai a message from beyond the grave?”

Kiki rolled her eyes, but nonetheless nodded before she opened the diary to the bookmarked page.  “Mitarai had just revealed that he got a message from the deceased Chairman of the Future foundation, Kazuo Tengan.  As our eyes widened in shock, your Aunt Hina was the first to speak…”

“But I thought he was dead.”

“A video file?”  Makoto asked curiously as they stared at Ryota’s phone, which was displaying a download meter.

“Hello, Mitarai.”  All three of them gasped in shock as Kazuo’s voice echoed from the phone.

It’s a recording!  Makoto realized as the deceased chairman’s image appeared.

“Apologies, but if you’re watching this, it must already be past the point of no return for me.  I don’t expect a young man like you to understand, but there it is.  My time’s run out.  Old geezers put more stock in youth than I’m sure most people realize.  Hope means entrusting the future to those who remain after we’re gone.  To that end, Hope’s Peak Academy was the sum of my life’s work.”

Headmaster Kirigiri felt that way too…  Makoto thought as a memory of the man who was like a second father to him flashed in his mind.

“The students were my children, the comfort of my twilight years.  Watching them grow into positions of leadership, seeing the brightest among them take the reins of the Foundation with confidence…what an unparalleled privilege.  If however, humanity’s vanguard were to lose its way, submit to the worst in themselves, turn on and massacre one another, the pain would be more than what’s left of the world could bear.”

That’s exactly what happened here!  Makoto realized.  But why is he telling us this?

“Part of me dies at the very thought.  To imagine the blood spilt, your faces twisted in agony.  Kami, can’t you picture it?  Can’t you feel the abject despair?”  Kazuo’s serious expression shifted into an unnerving smile as his recording asked “Better yet, isn’t it wonderful to see it all come true?”

All three of them gasped in shock as the screen faded.  Munakata…he was right…?  Chairman Tengan…really did fall to despair…?

As Makoto narrowed his eyes in contemplation, the shocked Mitarai felt his knees buckle.  He collapsed on the floor, supported only by his knees and forearms.

“I don’t believe it.  Tengan really was with the Remnants of Despair.”

As Ryota gripped his head and wailed in agony, Hina pointed out nervously “Ano, who cares?  Focus on the important stuff.  Our bangles are finally shut off.  We’re free!  We don’t have to kill each other anymore!”

I don’t think that’s helping, Hina.  Makoto thought as he stared sympathetically at Ryota’s wallowing form.  “Come on, let’s get outta here.”

“I’m a coward.”  Makoto and Hina gasped as Ryota muttered “I let despair win.  I ran.  I should’ve stood my ground.  I should’ve fought.”

“Mitarai, you…”  Did something happen to him during the Tragedy?  Makoto pondered.  He said earlier that Junko used his technology.  Does that mean she blackmailed him, just like Sakakura…?

“No more.  I’ve had enough.”  Ryota slowly got to his feet, a new resolve burning in his eyes.  “I’m through running.  This time, I do what’s right.”  Makoto and Hina stared at Ryota in surprise, wondering what he was talking about.  “You need to know the truth.  I’ve loved anime as long as I can remember.  All I ever wanted was to make one…one that would fill people’s hearts with hope.  Instead, I had the misfortune of meeting Junko Enoshima.”

So I was right…she did manipulate him!  Makoto realized.

“She used my talents for evil.  To control people, drive them to slaughter each other.”

“A video of despair?”  Hina asked before Ryota reluctantly nodded.

“If I showed it to you, your mind would warp exactly like hers.  You’d crave despair like a drug.  My friends, who Naegi tried to save, it happened to them.”

And the only way to cure them was the Neo World Program…  Makoto realized.

“This was my fault from beginning to end.  I was just…too scared to say anything!  The monitors have been showing something similar.  I’m positive my tech was behind it.  Junko just added a new twist.  For whatever reason, Tengan acquired the video and decided to use it.  All he had to do was program it into the monitors and watch the Foundation topple.”

“Okay, but what would possess him to do that in the first place?”  Hina questioned.

“At some point he must’ve seen the original video.”  Ryota deduced.  “There’s no point blaming him.  He’s a casualty too.  Just another of Junko’s victims.”


“I’m putting a stop to this.  Once and for all.  Time I did the right thing.”

What do you mean?  Makoto wondered.  How do you plan to end this once and for all?

“I have a new video.”  Ryota elaborated as he held up his phone.  “This one spreads hope like a virus.”

“I’m not so sure about that.”  Makoto objected as he and Hina stared at the former animator in shock.  You can’t fight fire with fire!

“Don’t you get it, Naegi?  I mean, my anime is what caused all this.”  Ryota averted his gaze, guilt clenching around his heart for the unwilling part he played in all the killing games.  “I was terrified, paralyzed.  But I…I still couldn’t deny my passion.”  He stared intensely at them as he insisted resolutely “I have to bring hope back.  This video needs to be seen by everyone.  All the damage she made my former classmates cause, I can reverse!”

“But can you really call that hope?”  Hina retorted.

“I get what you’re saying, but at the end of the day, it’s still just brainwashing.”  Makoto pointed out.

“I know.”  Ryota admitted.  “I’ve weighed the pros and cons.  Trust me.  Human beings are weak.  We’re infinitely susceptible to despair.  Little by little, it starts to define us.  Eventually, it’s all we know.  We can’t get on top of it.”

“Yes we can!”  Makoto argued.  Kyoko didn’t die just so the world could be brainwashed!  “If we’d all just work together, despair wouldn’t have the final say anymore!”

Ryota grit his teeth before he bellowed “Don’t be so stupid!”


“Why the hell else do you think the world’s like this, Naegi?  Look, not all of us are as strong as you, okay?!”

“What’re you talking about?”  Just because I’m optimistic, it doesn’t mean I’m strong or invincible against despair!  Makoto flashed back to the horrible vision that nearly caused him to take his own life.  I’m just as fallible as anyone else!

“You’re the exception to the rule and you damn well know it.”

“Mitarai, wait!”  Hina called as the former animator walked away.  She jogged after him and, once she caught up, circled around in front of him.  “Hold on a sec!  Let’s just slow down and talk about this, ‘kay?”

“Asahina.  I’m so sorry.”  Ryota apologized as he held up his phone in front of her.

Mitarai!  What are you doing?!  Makoto thought in horror as a kaleidoscope of colors assaulted her mind.  What did you do to her?!  He demanded in his mind as Hina’s eyes went completely blank.

“Don’t let Naegi interfere.”

“Hey, wait!”  Makoto called as he tried to run after Ryota.  “What did you do to her?  Uh?”  Makoto’s eyes widened in shock as Hina wrapped her arms underneath his shoulders, restraining him.  “Asahina, what are you doing?”

“I’m sorry.  This’ll all be for the best.”  Ryota apologized as he walked off.  He held up his detached bangle, which dimly displayed his forbidden action.

Using his talent?!  So…having the bangle was the only thing keeping him from enacting this insane plan?!

“It’s like you said, I’m free.”

“Wait, Mitarai!”  Makoto yelled as the former animator walked off.  “You don’t know what you’re doing!”

“Oh…Kami…!”  Kiki muttered.

“Mitarai totally snapped!”  Tsumugi exclaimed.  “He actually thought it would be a good idea to brainwash the world into hope!”

“Yeah…I can understand why he came to that conclusion…living through the Tragedy made him lose faith in humanity…but Dad and Aunt Hina were right.  Forcing people to hope isn’t true hope.  It has to be voluntary.”

Tsumugi nodded in agreement before her brow furrowed.  “So how did your father get out of that?  I doubt he overpowered Coach Hina; she was way stronger than him!”

Kiki nodded and turned the page, reading “As much as I struggled against your Aunt Hina’s grip, I was no match for her upper body strength.  As she pulled us both against the floor, she wrapped her legs around me to further restrain me.  As I struggled to break free…”

“Come on!  Snap out of it!”  Makoto cried as he struggled against the hypnotized Hina’s grasp.  “Hina, please let go of me!  He’s getting away!”  At that moment, a pair of Future Foundation soldiers stormed in, causing Makoto to gasp in surprise and relief.  Finally, Byakuya’s forces broke through!  “Hey look!  We’re saved!”

Makoto’s eyes widened at the battalion pointed their rifles at the two of them.  No…something’s wrong!  Did Mitarai hypnotize them too?!  “Asahina, let go!”

At that moment, the pair of soldiers groaned in pain, toppling over as they lost consciousness.

Huh, who saved us…Munakata?!

“What on earth is going on?”  Kyosuke demanded as he approached the duo.

“Later, just knock Asahina out too!  She’s not herself!”  Please forgive me, Hina.

Kyosuke raised an eyebrow skeptically, but nevertheless raised the hilt of his katana and hit Hina over the head with it, careful to only use enough force to knock her out.

“There, she should only be dazed.  She’ll be awake before too long.”  Kyosuke informed him as her grip loosened.

True to his word, Hina groaned, her eyes fluttering open as she raised a hand to her temple.  “Itai…what happened…Naegi…”

Seeing their compromising position, Hina blushed furiously, making her face resemble a cherry.  “EEEK!  Naegi!  Why are we…itai…”

“I’ll…get off you…”  Makoto muttered with a similarly embarrassed blush as he got to his knees.

Hina soon followed suit, cradling her forehead in her palm as Makoto rested his hands on her shoulder and back in worry.

“I’ll tie them up.”  Munakata decided as he walked over to the two prone soldiers.  “Naegi, explain to me what happened.  And where the hell is Mitarai?”

Makoto nodded, explaining “Well, it happened like this…”

“It was about time that Munakata did something to save Dad, for once.”  Kiki muttered.

“Yeah, though he couldn’t have come at a better time.”  Tsumugi pointed out.  “Who knows what those brainwashed soldiers might have done to them if he hadn’t come?”

“Yeah, I suppose I should be grateful…I just can’t help but think of how much trouble he caused Dad and the others.  One good deed doesn’t atone for all that suffering.”

“Yeah, I see what you mean.”  Tsumugi replied sympathetically.  “Hopefully they agreed on a course of action once your father explained Mitarai’s plan.”

“Yeah, hopefully one that didn’t end in bloodshed.”  Kiki commented.  “Mitarai was misguided; he didn’t deserve to die.”

“Well, let’s keep reading and find out.”

Kiki nodded and read from the top of the next page.  “As your Aunt Hina recovered, I explained Mitarai’s plan to Munakata.  When I finished…”

“A video able to subliminally recondition the whole human race?”  Kyosuke asked incredulously, his back turned to the kneeling Makoto and Hina.

“Munakata.  Help us please.”  Makoto begged.  “We have to stop him before this goes too far.”

“How ironic.”  Makoto stared at Kyosuke in surprise.  “Tengan aligned himself to the Remnants of Despair.  Yet ultimately he’s the reason despair will be vanquished for good.”

Don’t tell me…you’re actually agreeing with Mitarai’s plan!  And what does he mean about Chairman Tengan?!  “Wait a second.  This can’t be.  Maybe he wasn’t with the enemy after all.”

“Huh?”  Hina wondered in surprise, only half following the conversation due to her pounding headache.

“Maybe that’s what Tengan had planned.”  Makoto realized.  “Don’t you see?  He knew this was the only way Mitarai would use his video!”

“If that is indeed the case, why would he broadcast this Killing Game?”  Kyosuke questioned skeptically.  “It would seem his goal was spreading despair across the world.”

“Yeah, but that’s just what I’m getting at.  The killings weren’t broadcast.”  Kyosuke gasped in shock, startled by Makoto’s revelation.  “He knew what he was doing.  ‘Course he did.  Tengan set this whole thing up just to push Mitarai over the edge.  That’s what threw him off.  It all makes perfect sense.”

“Ano, Chairman, sir?”


“Sorry.  I’m rather late.”

“Wait, Mitarai?  You’re here?”

“He wasn’t invited.”  Makoto realized.  “He just showed up.  Mitarai didn’t need to be here.  That’s the point.  He only needed to know about the Killing Game.  Tengan never intended for him to be smack dab in the middle of it!”

“Hold on.”  Kyosuke interjected.  “Wouldn’t the path of least resistance have been to steal the video?”

“Not necessarily.  It’s not about that.  It’s about hope, about Mitarai’s potential.”  Makoto flashed back to Kazuo’s dying message, exclaiming “That’s it!  That’s who the message was for!  Right or wrong, Tengan was trying to ensure that hope would prevail.”

“By altering what it means to be human.”  Kyosuke realized.  “Reducing us to mindless sheep.  Is there no other way to remove despair from the equation?  Must we be robbed of our capacity for sadness and pain?  What does life become?”

“Munakata.”  Makoto finally stood up before he questioned “Where would he have access to a large-scale broadcasting device?”

“In the annex.  He can boost the signal across the entire spectrum.”  The pounding of boots against concrete echoed in their ears.  “They’re coming.  We need to move.”

Makoto nodded and asked “Can you walk, Hina?”

Hina stood up, giving him a pained smile as she replied “Yeah, I’m not gonna let some headache put me into an early grave!  Just try and keep up!”

“Hina, wait!”  Makoto called as she jogged ahead of them.  He and Kyosuke sweatdropped before he suggested “Well, no use standing around here.  Let’s get moving.”

“Wait, so Tengan was a Remnant of Despair, but he wanted Mitarai to brainwash the world with hope?”  Tsumugi frowned, baffled by the contradiction.  “That makes absolutely no sense!”

“Hmm…”  Kiki bit her lip in concentration as she tried to make sense of it.  “Well…it’s like Aunt Hina said, forcing people to hope isn’t true hope, and the Future Foundation’s leadership was still more or less massacred, so I guess for the forces of despair, it still counts as a win.”  Kiki sighed.  “That’s my guess, anyway.”

“Yeah, at least Munakata and your dad were on the same page.  I wonder how they stopped Mitarai, especially since he brainwashed the rescue soldiers.”

“Let’s find out…”  Kiki decided as she turned the page.  “Once we caught up with your Aunt Hina, we convinced her to walk at a more cautious pace.  Eventually we came to a corner in the hallway, and Munakata stopped us.  As he peered around the corner…”

Kyosuke grimaced as he spotted a group of soldiers standing guard in the adjacent hallway.  Retreating back into the shadows, he kept his eye narrowed on the threat before them.

“Assume they’ve all been brainwashed and act accordingly.”

“All of them?”  Hina gasped.

“Okay.  How do we get past them?”  Makoto asked.  I know Kyoko gave me some self-defense lessons before she died, but we already established I can’t brute force my way out.  How do I get past armed soldiers?!

Kyosuke merely stared into Makoto’s eyes, causing them to widen in realization.  At that moment, Kyosuke charged down the hall, using his katana to knock the soldiers unconscious.  Makoto and Hina stared in awe for a split second before Makoto whispered urgently.

“Let’s go.”

“Huh?  Ah!”  Hina gasped before she ran after the former luckster.

“Hina!”  Makoto cried as they dodged a hail of bullets.

Hina collapsed as one managed to clip her in the leg.  “Makoto…go on without me…you have to…”

“No way!  I’m not leaving you!”  Makoto bellowed as he kneeled in front of her.

“But if you stay, you’ll…hey!”  Hina yelped as Makoto slid his arms underneath her knees and back.  “Whoa, who knew you’d be so strong?!”  She exclaimed as Makoto stood up, cradling her in his arms protectively.

“I’m not letting one of my friends die, you know that by now, Aoi Asahina!”

“Makoto…”  Hina blushed, touched by his devotion, before she smiled.  “Heh, then get moving before we both get turned into swiss cheese.”

“You got it!”  Makoto turned around and ran, protecting Hina with his life as they searched for a hiding spot.

“Oh no…they shot Aunt Hina!”  Kiki nearly shrieked in a panic.

“Yeah, thankfully they didn’t hit a weak point.”  Tsumugi pointed out.  “So her HP shouldn’t have taken too bad of a hit.”

“Yeah, but now she’s a sitting duck.  And like Dad indicated in the diary, he wasn’t a fighter, so all he could do was run.  Honestly, I’m surprised he managed to carry her at all.”

“I guess the adrenaline increased his Strength stat just enough to pass the ability check.”  Tsumugi mused.  “Did they manage to find a hiding spot?”

“Let’s see…it looks like they did!”  Kiki turned the page and continued reading “Eventually we found an unoccupied room.  I rushed inside and slammed the door shut before any soldiers could spot us.  Once I set your Aunt Hina down, I searched the room until I found a first aid kit.  Once I brought it over to her…”

“Here, let’s bandage your leg.”  Makoto suggested as he knelt down and opened the first aid kit.

He removed a roll of bandage and tore off a strip before he tied it around her wound, causing her to wince in pain.  “Makoto…”

“Don’t try to talk.  Save your energy.”  He cut her off.

“No, leave me.”  Makoto gasped in horror at Hina’s request.  “Stop him, please.  Before it’s too late.”  She gave him a pained smile as she assured him “I’m okay.  Go on.  I’ll be here when you get back.”  Seeing Makoto’s look of hesitation, she assured him “Oh, and for once…I’ll actually wait.”

Makoto paused, mulling over Hina’s argument before he reluctantly nodded and removed his hands from her leg.  “All right.”  As he stood up, he vowed “When I’m finished with Mitarai, we’ll go and find you some proper help.”

Hina gave a pained smile before Makoto reluctantly walked out of the room, closing the door behind him to ensure her safety.

I’m never giving up!  He vowed as he raced through the halls.  No matter what happens, I’ll see it through to the end!

*Bang Bang*

Makoto gasped, freezing in place as a stray bullet just barely missed his cheek.  In a panic, his eyes darted about and saw a battalion of soldiers surrounding him, the barrels of their rifles pointed straight at him.

No…I’m trapped, and there’s no way out!  Kyoko…I’m sorry, I oculdn’t stop Mitarai in time…please forgive me, Kyoko…

“What’re you doing?”

Huh?  HIRO?!

True to his deduction, Makoto caught Hiro charging forward, a rare, brave fire burning in his eyes.  “Leave Naegster alone!”

“Hagakure?”  Makoto exclaimed as Hiro barreled one of the soldiers over with his shoulder.  I think that’s the bravest thing I’ve ever seen you do in my life!

“Huh?”  Hiro turned around and, realizing just what they were facing, panickedly waved his arms around in front of him.  “Whoa, whoa!  Hey, wait!  Don’t shoot!  We surrender!”

Guess his bravery just ran out…  Makoto deadpanned before some quiet footsteps echoed in his hears.  Huh?

“I believe an explanation is in order.”

Byakuya?!  Makoto thought incredulously before the soldiers turned around, pointing their firearms at the former Ultimate Affluent Progeny.

“Beg your pardon?”  Byakuya question, insulted by the threat of friendly fire.  “At whom are you pointing those firearms?”

Before anyone could blink, a battalion of men in suits dashed from behind Byakuya towards the brainwashed soldiers.  In a heartbeat, they were effortlessly restrained, guns clattering on the concrete floor.  Makoto and Hiro stared at Byakuya, shocked and relieved by the sudden rescue.


“How disappointing.”  Byakuya stated as he adjusted his glasses.  Once he lowered his hand, Byakuya smirked and commented “For someone so famously lucky, you look like hell.”

“What a relief!”  Kiki sighed.  “At least Uncle Hiro and Uncle Byakuya got Dad out of that jam.”

“Yeah, my heart was racing with every word!”  Tsumugi admitted as she rested her hand against her breasts.  “This was certainly an action-packed entry!”

“Yeah, to be honest, I could have tolerated a little less action.”  Kiki admitted.  “I just hope that Hina got rescued too.”

“Well, obviously she was, or she wouldn’t be here.”  Tsumugi pointed out.

“Yeah, you’re right…”  The teenage heterochromatic yawned as she replaced the bookmark and closed the diary.  “I’ve had more than enough excitement for one night, but I think there’s just enough left to finish it tomorrow.”

Tsumugi nodded before she stood up.  “Well, I wish we didn’t have to end on a cliffhanger, but I’ll wait until tomorrow.  Sweet dreams, Kiki.”

“Yeah, good night, Tsumugi.”

Once Tsumugi had closed the door behind her, Kiki sighed and placed the diary on her bedside table.  As she curled under the covers and closed her eyes, one last thought passed through Kiki’s mind before she passed into slumber.

One more day…one more day of reading the nightmare Mom and Dad endured…one more day until I find out how Mom survived and reunited with Dad.  And then…then I can apologize to Mom…for the awful things I said to her that day…

Chapter Text

“Alright…we’re almost at the end.”  Tsumugi muttered as they sat on Kiki’s bed.

Kiki nodded and decided “Alright, time to see how this ends…”  With a deep breath, she opened the diary, removed the bookmark, and began to read.  “Once your Uncle Byakuya arrived with reinforcements and I finally got a chance to breathe…”

“Byakuya!”  Makoto exclaimed with relief.  “You totally saved my life!”

“Hmph…so what’s the situation?  And where are Asahina and Kirigiri?”  Seeing Makoto’s lowered eyes, Byakuya prodded “What is it?  Am I missing something?”

“Kyoko…Kyoko’s dead…”  Byakuya’s eyes momentarily widened in shock as Makoto explained “She…she sacrificed herself so I could stay alive…”

Byakuya clenched his fist, muttering “I see…we don’t have time to waste mourning the dead, unfortunately.  What about Asahina?  And are there any other survivors among the Future Foundation?”

“Hina’s alive, but she was wounded by one of the brainwashed soldiers.”


“Yeah, one of the other survivors, Ryota Mitarai, is planning to brainwash the world with a video to spread artificial hope like a virus.  He hypnotized the soldiers you sent to make sure nobody gets in his way.”

“I see…that explains why they were aiming at you and me when I arrived.”  Byakuya realized.

“I…I have to stop Mitarai!”  Makoto exclaimed.  “Otherwise…”

“Say no more.  You!”

“Yes, Sir!”  One of the men in suits stood at attention.

“Go with Naegi, ensure that he makes it to Mitarai’s location.”

“Sir, Yes, Sir!”

“Thanks, Byakuya.”  Makoto smiled before he turned and ran down the hallway, flanked by Byakuya’s guards.

“Well, at least Dad had an escort to protect him.”  Kiki sighed.

“Yeah, and thankfully, they haven’t been hypnotized yet.  Hopefully it stayed that way long enough for him to reach Mitarai.”

Kiki nodded and continued to read.  “I dashed as fast as I could, determined to stop Mitarai from enacting his insane plan.  As we ran outside, however, we ran into some interference…”

Makoto and his security detail ducked behind cover, narrowly avoiding a hail of bullets from a battalion of brainwashed soldiers.

Crap, this isn’t good, we’re losing precious time!  Makoto cursed.  We have to do something about those soldiers, otherwise…huh?

Makoto saw the remains of a dust cloud as the echoes of screaming soldiers reached his ears.  He stood up and gasped at the giant boulder that was now where the soldiers stood.

What the…where did that come from…no way…Nagito?!

Sure enough, Nagito Komaeda stood on a faraway cliff, waving to the former luckster.  “Good to be back.”

Nagito…you…you’re alive…and you…you saved us…

“Makoto Naegi, sir!”  Makoto turned to one of the guards who urged him “The enemy has been neutralized.  We have to get you to Mitarai.”

Makoto nodded and wordlessly began running, glancing back at Nagito’s smile before he refocused his attention on the path ahead.

Hajime…you did it…you woke up your classmates, didn’t you?  And now you’ve come to aid us…I won’t forget what you’ve done for us!

“So Uncle Hajime and the others from Class 77 came to Dad’s aid!”  Kiki breathed.

“Now that’s what I call cavalry!”  Tsumugi exclaimed.  “With them there, surely your father must have gotten to Mitarai in time, right?”

“Let’s find out…”  Kiki glanced at the next paragraph and read “In the end, I wasn’t the one to convince Mitarai to turn away from his insane plan.  Your Uncle Hajime and the former Remnants of Despair reached him first.  As I reached the entrance…”

“I sow death!”

Huh?  Mitarai?  Makoto wondered as he peeked in the entrance.  It’s Hajime and the others!  They made it here first!

“If not for me, you’d have known peace.  The years you spent in school would have been the happiest of your life!  But no.  I was a coward and ran away.  So all of this is on my head!”

Mitarai…you don’t need to blame yourself for what happened all those years ago!  MAkoto stayed silent, opting to allow Hajime to handle this.

“If that’s what you wanna believe, go right ahead.  At least now we know why you’re doing this.  You’d rather the past be forgotten.  Wipe the slate clean.  I get it.  Stand your ground.”

“That’s the idea.”  Ryota admitted.  “That’s what all of this is about.  If it hadn’t been for me, Junko Enoshima…would never have turned you!”

If not through you, then she would have found another way…trust me, she was a conniving, manipulative snake who deceived even the Ultimate Detective.  Makoto closed his eyes, the loss of Kyoko weighing heavily on him before he shook the thought away.

“I’d erase the past if I could, but it’s not in my power.”  Hajime admitted.  “Some things…Some things have to be remembered.  Nanami was real. I can’t pretend like she never existed.  We have her to thank for still being alive.”

That’s right.  Makoto recalled.  If her spirit hadn’t spoken to Hajime back in the Neo World Program…Junko’s AI would have won, and we’d all be trapped in cyberspace!

“Every day we survive’s a gift.”  Nekomaru commented.  “One we can use to undo all this shit.”

“Do you not see?”  Gundham pointed out.  “Atonement is our destiny.”

“Not mine, not by a long shot.  Look at me!  Look at what I’ve done!  I’m beyond forgiveness!”  Ryota denied.

It’s never too late to atone, Mitarai.  Makoto thought.

“As are each of us, but forgiveness is not what we’re seeking.”  Sonia pointed out.

“Ya got that right.”  Kazuichi agreed.

“I don’t understand.”  Ryota admitted.  “What…?  What am I supposed to do now?”

“Yes.  You were wrong.”  The Ultimate Imposter spoke up, now resembling the former animator himself.  “But then, so were we.  You made mistakes.  We made mistakes.”

“No.  don’t do that.”  Ryota pleaded, stepping backwards.  “Don’t try to lump us together.  I’m alone.  The blame belongs squarely on me!”

A moment of silence passed, leaving Makoto wondering in suspense just how the standoff would end.  Eventually, Hajime spoke up once more.

“Fine then.  All the more reason to join us.”

Ryota gasped, slowly looking into Hajime’s heterochromatic eyes.  “Are you serious?”  He asked hopefully.

“There’s no need for you to be alone.  Not now.”

“He’s right.”  The Ultimate Imposter agreed.

“We’d be happy to have you!”  Sonia smiled warmly at the torn former animator.

“The more the merrier, don’t you think?”  Kazuichi agreed with the former princess.

“Yeah, come join our team!”  Akane offered.

“No pressure.  Do what you want.”  Hiyoko advised.

“Those who join the path find the Lord of War quite loyal.”  Gundham told the indecisive Ryota.

“Oh, man!  I like that one!”  Nekomaru laughed.

“Definitely among his better non-sequiturs.”  Mahiru agreed.

“Quit sulking and get onboard.”  Fuyuhiko ordered.

“I agree.  Come with us.”  Peko urged.

“My weiner thinks you’d make a fine addition!”  Teruteru exclaimed, causing the others to sweatdrop.

That’s probably a reason for him not to join, Teruteru…  Makoto deadpanned from his hiding spot.

“Ugh!  Don’t be gross!”  Ibuki wretched in disgust.

“Ano, is it wrong if what he said makes me happy?”  Mikan asked hesitantly.

“Li’l bit, yeah.”  Mahiru confirmed while Nagito smiled, waving his prosthetic arm at Ryota.

“I’ve always admired that shining talent of yours.  Our team could use a guy like you.”

Touched, The still indecisive former animator looked down at his phone with tears in his eyes.  “Thank you, but I don’t have the right to be part of a team.”

“Being our classmate’s got nothing to do with your rights.”  Hajime assured him.

“No kidding, dude.”  Kazuichi added as he placed his hand on Hajime’s shoulder.  “He’s in the Reserve Course.”

“Hey.”  Hajime shot back before Ryota looked up at them.

“You want me to be…?  You’re sure?”

“Well, come on.  Classmate.”

Makoto frowned as he saw tears finally trickle down Ryota’s face.  The former luckster let out a sigh of relief as he saw Ryota cancel the broadcast.  Makoto turned away, allowing the crying Ryota and his classmates some privacy.  He opted to walk towards the rising sun, finally allowing himself to truly smile.

At last…it’s all over…

Makoto’s thoughts were interrupted by the sound of footsteps behind him.  He turned to see the reunited Class 77 walking out.  Hajime turned his head as he walked by, smiling at Makoto who nodded back gratefully at him.

Thank you…Hajime…

“Ano, excuse me, Naegi?”  Makoto turned to see Mikan standing in front of him, a nervous expression on her face.  “Ano…I, ano…Ah!”

Mikan shrieked as she fell down, brushed aside by the enthusiastic Nagito, who shook the stunned Makoto’s hands.

“Wow!  It’s a real honor!  Forgive me, sir.”  Nagito apologized as Ibuki, Sonia, Kazuichi, and Gundham ran to help up the fallen former nurse.  “We…We share the same good luck.  No wait, that’s not right.  Yours far outstrips mine.  Though I’m quite lucky to have you as a colleague.  Sorry!  Upperclassman, sir.”

“Alright, time to go.”  Akane interrupted as she and Nekomaru carried Nagito away.

“Okay, Nagito, hold it together!”  Nekomaru told his classmate.

“Is it just me or is he getting creepier with age?”  Hiyoko commented.

“Hope we meet again.”  Nagito called as he waved at Makoto.

Once they had left, Makoto let out a chuckle as he wondered I wonder what Mikan wanted to tell me…?  Makoto shook the thought from his head as stared up at the sunrise.  Well, the danger’s passed, and daybreak has broken…I should get back to the others…

With that, Makoto turned away from the beautiful horizon, determined to find his friends.

“So in the end, it wasn’t your father that stopped Mitarai, it was Hajime Hinata and his classmates!  What a plot twist!”

Kiki rolled her eyes before she commented “In the end, all Mitarai needed was a place to belong…and that was something the rigid structure of the Future Foundation could never give him.”

“Yeah, and they were able to convince Mitarai to stop his video before it could play.  Still, I do wonder what Mikan wanted to tell your father…”

“Well…”  Kiki’s eyes widened in realization as she connected the dots.  “Maybe…she wanted to tell him that Mom was still alive.  She was the Ultimate Nurse, so maybe…maybe she revived Mom somehow!”

“You think so?”

“Let’s keep reading and find out.”  Kiki decided as she turned the page.  “I made my way back to the landing platform where this all started.  Everything had come full circle as I reached a tent that your Uncle Byakuya, Uncle Hiro, and Aunt Hina had set up.  When I got there…”

“Makoto!”  Hina called cheerfully.

“Makoto, hey!”  Hiro greeted cheerfully.

As he approached the sitting former swimmer, Makoto asked “How’re your injuries?  Better?”

“Typically what I would ask, but okay.”  Byakuya muttered.

Makoto chuckled before he spotted a tablet in Byakuya’s hands.  “What’s that?”  He asked curiously as he approached the Acting Director of Division Fourteen.

“The 77th class is broadcasting a video to the Future Foundation.”  Byakuya explained as they all huddled around the tablet, curious as to what their former upperclassmen had to say.

“Hope you got a little kick out of our little game.”  Hajime spoke as he and the others were shrouded in a background of crimson.  “You understand now, we assume.  The Future Foundation is boring.  You want your happy endings, your perfect, ideal world.  Your heroes saved at the last minute by some deus ex machina.  Where’s the fun in that?  Good thing we’re here.  If we had a mission statement, it’d be to make life more interesting.  Let’s face it.  This world may need a little despair.”

“Ugh.”  Hina wretched.  “Sounds like Junko.”

“They were the bad guys all along?!”  Hiro panicked.  “So, why’d they save us?!  Man, my brain hurts!”

“I don’t know what’s more offensive, your voice or your breath.”  Byakuya muttered.  “Well, people now believe the Remnants of Despair were behind the Future Foundation’s Mutual Killing Game.  No one ever need be troubled with the knowledge that our late Chairman was responsible. By and large a positive thing.”

Hajime and the others…they…they took the fall so the Future Foundation could survive.  Makoto realized as he lowered his eyes in sorrow.  They deserved better than that…

“They did this for us?”  Hina questioned.  “Wow.  That was nice of them.”

“Yes.  Well done, Makoto.”  Byakuya congratulated before Makoto shook his head.

“Thank you, but I didn’t do anything.  In the end, those guys were the heroes.”

Byakuya smirked, commenting “You sound as though heroes are made in a vacuum.  I don’t expect our friends would’ve gotten far without hope.  And hope is contagious.  Is it not?  Even when the cost is dear.”

Kyoko…I wish you could have been here to see this…  Makoto thought as everyone frowned in sorrow, mourning the loss of their classmate, friend, colleague, and comrade.  No…she wouldn’t want us to be sad…  Makoto shook his head, clearing the melancholy thoughts as he suggested “Come on, guys.  Let’s see Class 77 off, shall we?”

“Wow…they could have been lauded as heroes against a corrupt organization, and yet, they willfully chose to cover it up and take the fall!”  Tsumugi breathed in amazement.

“Yeah, they really deserved better…I guess that’s why Dad worked so hard to pardon them after he reopened Hope’s Peak Academy.”  Kiki realized.  “Still, we never found out what Mikan wanted to tell your father.  Do you think it was that your mother was alive?”

“Well, there’s only a single page or two left, so let’s find out.”  Kiki turned the page and continued “We had spread out amongst the landing platform to see off Class 77 before they returned to Jabberwock Island.  As the boat blew its horn…”

“Bye!  Thank you again, guys!”  Hiro called.

“Bon voyage!”  Hina cheered as the two of them waved.

Makoto stood silently, watching the boat leave before a familiar voice echoed in his ears.  “This is your time, Makoto Naegi.”

“Munakata.”  Makoto gasped as he turned and looked down at Kyosuke, now dressed in an overcoat.

“The burden of being the hero now belongs to you.  You’ll forever be the man who fought the Remnants and won.  That is the hope the world needs.”

Makoto closed his eyes and bowed his head, vowing “I’ll be that hope.”  Even if it’s not the exact truth…someday though, once the world is righted, I’ll tell everyone the truth, and make sure Class 77th can live normal lives in the outside world.

“Can you bear the weight?”  Kyosuke questioned.

“Yeah.  I think carrying that is the least I can do.  Heh.  The Remnants have their bag of rocks, I have mine.”

“That’s all well and good, but what will you do with it?”

“I’m not sure.”  Makoto admitted.  “Guess we’ll see.”

“Best of luck.”  Kyosuke finished as he turned away and left the former luckster.

“Where are you going?”

“I have my own cross to bear.”

As Munakata walked away, Makoto turned back to stare at the rising sun, watching the boat disappear into the horizon. 

Hard as we try, none of us can see the future.  The horizon we walk toward is always obscured.  The future’s always hazy.  Hope and despair mingle.  We can’t always tell which is which.  It’s strange.  Sometimes terrifying.  Still though, if all you do is sit and wait, nothing happens.  The trick is to take it one step at a time.  See, you don’t have to know the future to move forward.  Just walk with your memories.  Look up at the sky and say to yourself, There’s always hope for tomorrow.

Makoto frowned, melancholy emotions seeping into his heart as he looked at the blood still smeared on his palm.



Makoto gasped at the weakened, yet familiar voice echoing in his ears.  No…it can’t be… 

Barely resisting the urge to tremble, he turned around, eyes widened at the sight of Kyoko Kirigiri.  Half of her skin was still covered in purple, and she looked absolutely exhausted, but nevertheless, she was undeniably alive, and conscious.

“Kyoko…”  Tears welled in his eyes as he saw her radiant smile in the distance.


“Kyoko!”  Makoto cried as he ran over to her, tears of joyful disbelief streaming down his cheeks as he wrapped his arms around her in a desperate hug.  “Kyoko, how?  How are you still…You’re…you’re…?”

“Alive…yes…Kimura…made…an antidote…for the…poison…It…put me in a coma…Makoto…I’m sorry…I didn’t tell you…”

“Don’t talk, Kyoko!”  Makoto cried as he felt her knees wobble.  “Save your strength, you can tell us all about it when you’re better.  Right now we need to get you medical attention.”

“Makoto…I’m…what?!”  Kyoko gasped as he lifted her into her arms, carrying her bridal style.

“Shh…”  Makoto soothed.  “You gave your life to protect me…let me take care of you, please…

“Makoto…”  Kyoko sighed in defeat and snuggled up against his chest, smiling at the sound of his heartbeat.  “Alright…I won’t complain this time.”

Makoto nodded just before Hina and Hiro came rushing over.  “Makoto, what were you crying about?  Is something…KYOKO?!”  Hina shrieked in disbelief.

“IT’S HER GHOST!  OHHH NOOOOOOOOOOO!”  Hiro screamed, causing Kyoko to wince.

“I’m not a ghost, I’m real, and you’re both hurting my ears…”  Kyoko muttered, causing tears of joy to stream down Hina’s cheeks.

“Kyoko!”  Hina wailed, though she tried to keep her voice down a few decibels.  “How…how did you…?”

“We’ll explain later.”  Makoto interjected.  “We need to get Byakuya to order a medical chopper and fly us to HQ so we can get her proper medical care.”

“Right, let’s go!”  Hina agreed enthusiastically.  “Hey, Byakuya!”  Hina called as she ran to the green tent.

“Hey, wait for me!”  Hiro ran after her, causing Makoto to shake his head in amusement.

“What do you mean we need to fly out immediately?”  A disgruntled Byakuya questioned as Hina and Hiro dragged him by the wrists.

“Just come and see!”  Hina insisted.

“Yeah, Makoto’s got her in his arms as we speak!”

“Her?  Who are you babbling abou…WHAT THE HELL?!”  Byakuya’s eyes widened as he took in the sight of the conscious Kyoko in Makoto’s arms.

“Good to see you too, Byakuya.”  Kyoko weakly smiled as Byakuya regained his composure. 

“Hmph, I see you managed to cheat your untimely demise, Kirigiri.”  Byakuya commented, the slight curve of his lips betraying his joy at seeing her still alive.

“Byakuya, we’ll explain how she survived later.  Right now we need to fly to Future Foundation HQ so she can get looked at by a doctor.”  Makoto insisted urgently.

“Hmph, very well, fortunately the helicopter I arrived here with is still operational.  You there, get ready to take off for headquarters!”

“Sir, yes, sir!”  The nearby soldier saluted before they made a dash for the helicopter.

Once they were all settled, the pilot activated the rotors and lifted the vehicle into the sky.  Makoto looked down at his lap to see Kyoko had fallen asleep, a peaceful smile stretched from ear to ear.  Her arms were wrapped around his torso as her ear was pressed against his heart.  The former luckster smiled lovingly at the love of his life miraculously returned to him.

We’ll have plenty of time to talk…plenty of time to laugh and cry…we’ll have the rest of our lives to spend together…for now though…she needs to rest and recuperate…we all do, but especially her.  As long as I know she’ll be there tomorrow, I can wait…to tell her these words someday…I love you, Kyoko Kirigiri!

“…That was…so beautiful…”  Tsumugi sniffled, tears trickling down her cheeks as Kiki closed the diary one last time.

“So that’s how she survived…Seiko Kimura created a way to stave off death…and Mikan brought her back to life…”  Kiki felt a sudden wave of gratitude for the nurse that had delivered her and her siblings into the world.

“So…now we know the story of the Final Killing Game…”  Tsumugi mused before she turned to her best friend.  “So…what will you do now that you know the truth?”

“…First, I have to apologize to my mom for what I said back in middle school.  I know I was overwhelmed and I lashed out at the time, but I still went too far back then, and now that I know that she was willing to die for Dad…I can’t just pretend that whole episode didn’t happen.”

“…I understand.”  Tsumugi nodded in comprehension.  “Still, I don’t see why she wouldn’t forgive you.”

“…Other than that, I don’t know.  My parents fought to give me a life better than they had, so I guess…I just need to live out my life as a high school girl.”

“Ah, goodbye adventure, hello tests, homework, and boys!”

The two girls giggled before Kiki yawned.  “Alright, I think it’s time I hit the hay.”  Kiki admitted.  “I’ll apologize tomorrow when my parents pick me up and take me home for the weekend.”

“Okay, guess that’s my cue to leave, then.”  Tsumugi stood up and smiled at her fatigued friend.  “Sweet dreams, Kiki.”

“Yeah, you too, Tsumugi.  See you at breakfast.”

Tsumugi smiled before she turned and walked out the door.  Once it closed behind the cosplayer, Kiki opened her bedside drawer and deposited the diary within it.  Once she shut the drawer, the tired teenager yawned and crawled underneath the covers.  She curled up and closed her eyes, smiling as she drifted off into happy dreams.

“Alright, Kiki, ready to go home?”  Makoto asked as the trio approached the car.

“One moment, Dad…Mom, can we talk for a moment?”

Kyoko furrowed her brow in confusion before she nodded.  “Okay, is there something that can’t wait until we get back to the house?”

“This won’t take long, I promise.”  Kiki bowed her head and bit her lip, unnerving her parents.  “I…”

“Kiki!”  Makoto and Kyoko exclaimed in shock as the girl ran up and embraced her mother.

“Kiki, what’s wrong?”  Kyoko asked in concern, which only amplified as she saw a tear trickle down her shirt.

“I…I’m sorry…for what I said back in middle school.  I…I never should have said I hated you!  Me being upset and angry was no excuse, especially when I know now that you loved Dad so much that you were willing to die for him!  Can you…can you ever forgive me for doubting your love for us?!”

“Kiki…”  Kyoko smiled lovingly at her daughter as she returned the embrace, stroking her long auburn hair soothingly.  “I never blamed you for reacting like you did…you know that, right?”

“Yeah, but…”

“Kiki…” Makoto interjected with a smile, causing her to look up from her mother’s breasts.  “Ryota Mitarai lost his senses because he put too much of the blame of the past on himself.  Don’t make his mistake.  We forgave you a long time ago, and we’ve moved on from it.  Learn what lessons your mistakes teach you, but let them go.”

“Dad…but I…”

“We love you, Kiki.  That will never change, no matter what.”  Kyoko assured her eldest daughter, pressing her lips gently against the girl’s temple.  “Don’t despair; you’ll worry your brothers and sister if you keep frowning like that when we get home.”

“…Okay…”  Kiki smiled as she separated from her mother and wiped the tears from her eyes.  “I’ll…keep moving forward.”

“That’s my girl.”  Kyoko smiled.  “Alright, let’s go home, shall we?”

Kiki giggled as they all got into the car.  Makoto turned the key in the ignition, making the engine roar to life before he drove them out of the parking lot.  The two parents smiled at their daughter’s reflection in the rear-view mirror.  Kiki for her part smiled as she stared down at the diary in her hands.

Mom and Dad lived through hell…twice…and both nearly died on multiple occasions to bring hope back to the world.  But now…they’ve given me a future…a hopeful future.  I won’t squander it by falling into despair because of the trauma they endured in the past.  I’ll keep on moving forward with a smile of optimism…just like Dad did…and just like Mom wanted for both of us…