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Danganronpa 4: Next Generation Killing!

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Nothing.  No light.  No sound.  No form.  No voice.  No knowledge of who I am.  ...Who I am?  Who am I?  I extend a hand.  A hand that belongs to no one.  To take hold of my existence...

A locker door rattled before it swung open, revealing a purple-eyed, blonde-haired girl, dazed as she looked around.  A dark pink vest partially obscured her white button up shirt and orange tie.  A dark purple skirt hung just below her vest, the black musical notes patters circling it as well as the silver music note pin in her hair symbolizing her obvious love for music.  She gasped, feeling a rush in her brain as memories came flooding back.

"This is me."  She breathed.  "My name is Kaede Akamatsu.  I just remembered who I am.  Nice to meet me."  The confused young girl stumbled out of the locker in a daze, only to trip and fall, the weight of her white backpack adding more weight to her descent. "Ahh!?"  She shrieked as a blinding pain suddenly rushed through her head.  "Gghhh...Owww..." she groaned as she gripped her aching head in her palm, standing up in her loafers.

The pain erased whatever daze was left, leaving her annoyed as she narrowed her eyes in frustration.  Her annoyance however quickly gave way to curiosity and confusion as she looked around the room.  Her surroundings looked to be a normal classroom one might see in any traditional university, barring the locker she stumbled out of.

"...Huh?  Wait, where am I?  What is this place?"  She wondered as she rubbed her throbbing forehead.  Yep, this is definitely going to leave a bump...  As she became more aware of the room's setup, she wondered "...A classroom?"  Yeah, this is a classroom alright.  But...I don't recognize it.  "Where am I...?  What am I doing here...?"

Kaede's eyes suddenly widened in realization.  She snapped her fingers, gasping before she spoke aloud.

"Oh!  Is this a dream!?  I just have to pinch myself, right?"  Kaede reached up to pinch her cheek, only to feel a minor spark of pain before she let go.  "Ummm...Okay, hold on a sec.  Let's just stay calm and think this through."  She said to nobody in particular before she closed her eyes and sifted through her existing memories.

In the middle of her concentration, she was startled by a loud banging sound.  She opened her eyes in a flash and jumped in shock.

"Whoa!!!"  She shrieked as she turned around and saw two closed lockers next to the one she had stumbled out of.

Loud bangs echoed in her ears as she saw them slightly sway from the violent forces inside them.  She swallowed her panic and gathered her courage before taking her first steps towards the storage units.

"What the...are there...actual people inside there?  Hang on, I'll get you out!"  She called as she walked over to the lockers and yanked the doors open.

As soon as she opened the doors, two human forms fell out of the lockers.  Two undignified yelps echoed in Kaede’s ears as their owners faceplanted into the hard floor.

Kaede sweatdropped before she knelt in front of them.  "Are you two okay?"

They groaned as they lifted their heads to look at their savior, allowing Kaede to get a closer look at them.  On her left lay a boy with short blue hair hidden beneath a black cap.  His dark orangish-grey eyes looked up at her, though she could tell they wished to hide underneath the cap’s protection along with his hair. 

Guess he’s the shy type…  Kaede noted his black uniform and shoes as she turned her gaze to the other confused prisoner.  A girl…?

Kaede took note of her flowing brown hair that extended to the small of her back.  As she looked up hesitantly at Kaede, the blonde girl saw a few locks of brown hair tied into a simple braid that hung loosely over her right ear, tied together with a simple black ribbon. 

Adorning the top of her head was an ahoge that, in sharp contrast with the rest of her hair, was a beautiful shade of lavender.  Glancing down from her uniquely colored hair, Kaede stared into the girl’s equally strange eyes, the left a greenish-hazel color, and the right the same brilliant lavender as her ahoge.

Never seen hair and eyes like that before except in anime...  Kaede noted as she looked further down, observing the heterochromatic girl’s clothes with curious eyes.

Hugging her torso was a simple pink, short-sleeved T-shirt.  Covering her waist meanwhile was a fairly short, purple skirt, ending an inch or two above her knees.  Kaede’s eyes traveled down the girl’s slender legs and stopped at her pink shoes and white socks, covering her feminine feet.

She looks…like an average girl.  A cute, average girl.  Kaede thought whimsically.

At that moment, the confused heterochromatic turned to look at the blue-haired boy.  He returned her cautious gaze, a temporary silence permeating the room and leaving Kaede on the edge of her seat.

"...Ah!  Aaugh!!!"  They shrieked as they fell on their butts and scooted away from each other and Kaede.

"Wh…Who are you?!"  They both exclaimed, pointing fingers at each other and Kaede.

"Are you with those other guys!?"  The boy demanded.

"...What other guys?"  Both girls inquired curiously as they realized that none of them were threats to the others.

"The people who kidnapped me!"  The boy exclaimed.


"Wh…Where am I...?  What are you gonna do to me!?"

"Hey!  Hold on!"  Kaede interrupted, getting both their attention.

She walked over to each of them, lifting them to their feet by tugging at their wrists before dragging them over to the desks.

"Alright...what are your names?"

"...Huh?"  The boy asked, bewildered by the question.  He bit his lip hesitantly before introducing "Ah, I'm...Shuichi Saihara."

Kaede nodded and replied politely "I'm Kaede Akamatsu."  She then turned to the currently unidentified girl and asked "And your name?"

"Oh, I'm Kiki...Kiki...Kiki..."  Kiki's eyes widened, gasping as her eyes glowed with horror.

Kaede and Shuichi frowned, starting to worry as the blonde started to wonder Is…something wrong with her…? 

As if on cue, Kiki clutched her head in her hands and exclaimed "No!  No !  No!  No!  NO!  THIS CAN'T BE!"  Kiki quaked in her sneakers, a suppressed sob in her voice as she moaned “WHY?!  WHY IS IT-”

"What, what is it?!"  Kaede asked in concern as Kiki looked at her with panicked eyes.

"I…I can't remember my last name!  I can't remember who I am?!  What am I gonna do if I can't remember who I am, who my family is, whether they're safe..."

Shuichi and Kaede looked at Kiki with concern.  Poor least I remembered my full name, but she doesn't even have that!  Well...someone's gotta get her to calm down, so I guess it's up to me!

Kaede walked up to Kiki and grasped her shoulders, smiling reassuringly at the girl before she spoke with complete calm.

"Hey, Kiki, it's alright!  I had trouble remembering who I was too for a bit, so I know how you feel.  But I promise, you'll remember soon, okay?  So just take a deep breath and relax."

Kiki closed her eyes and took a deep breath, feeling the weight of her anxieties reduce as she exhaled.

"Okay...I think I'm okay now..."

"Good."  Kaede's expression turned serious as she turned her head and told Shuichi "Now listen to me, Shuichi...Shut up!  You're not the only one who's confused right now!  Just look at poor Kiki!"

Kiki shuffled awkwardly as Shuichi apologized "Ah, sorry..."

Kaede sighed and nodded as she closed her eyes and tried to sift through her memories once more.

...That's right.  She realized as she thought I was kidnapped, too!  I was walking my usual route to school when all of a sudden, someone shoved me into a car.  I shouted for help, but no one came to rescue me...Everyone pretended like nothing happened...It made me think how rotten the world is...And then, I lost consciousness...And when I woke up, I was inside that locker...

Kaede opened her eyes and exclaimed "Shuichi, Kiki, I think I remember what happened to me!"

She quickly relayed the necessary information to the two other captives.  They nodded curiously as Shuichi commented "Same with me...Were we kidnapped by the same people?"

"It seems like it..."  She bit her lip, pondering "But...why me?  My family's not rich and I'm no one special.  I'm just a normal university girl who can play piano.  There's no reason to kidnap me..."

"Me either...I'm just a regular guy...I'm an amateur detective, but that's not exactly special."

Kaede hummed before she turned to Kiki and asked "What about you, Kiki?  Were you kidnapped by those same kind of guys?"

Kiki sighed and apologized "Sorry, but I don't remember anything about how I was brought here."  Her shoulders sagged as she lamented "I wish I could be more helpful."

"Hey, don't worry about it, I'm sure you'll remember soon, just be patient."  Kaede smiled as she assured the girl "I promise, you're gonna be really helpful, I just know it!"

"...Thanks, Kaede."  Kiki replied with a smile as she nodded.

"Back to the point..."  Kaede glanced around the room as she pondered "...This is a school, right?  Why did they take us to a school?  I wonder why..."

"Well..."  Shuichi hesitantly suggested "There might be clues in this classroom.  Why don't we try searching it?"

"Great idea, Shuichi!"  Kaede exclaimed before she turned to Kiki and asked "Kiki, you wanna help too?"

Kiki nodded and replied "Sure, what do you want me to do?"

Kaede turned to Shuichi.  "Shuichi, you're the detective here, so it's your call.  What do you want us to investigate?"

"Well, um...Kiki, why don't you examine the desks?  You can see if anything's hidden inside."

"Got it!"  Kiki nodded hesitantly, her eyes betraying her uncertainty.

"Kaede, why don't you check out the lockers we stumbled out of?  Maybe there's something secured on the inside or on the backs."

"Okay, leave it to me, Shuichi!"  Kaede saluted.

Shuichi smiled in amusement before he decided "I'll check everything else."

"Okay, we all have our assignments, so let's go!  Investigation Start!"

Kiki and Shuichi sweatdropped at Kaede's enthusiasm before the three of them separated to begin their searches.

"Find anything you two?"  Kaede asked as she frowned.  "'Cause none of those lockers had anything I could find."

"Well, no clues, but I did find these coins." 

Kiki uncurled her fist to show a pile of bronze-colored coins with the imprint of an anime bear's head on the surface.

"They're really creepy..."  Kaede concluded, causing the others to nod.

"Yeah, though even if they're not informative, they could still be valuable."  Shuichi advised "Let's hold on to whatever ones we can find, just in case."

"You can put them in my backpack!"  Kaede volunteered as she gestured to the white backpack on her back.  "Just put them in the front pouch."

Kiki nodded and circled around Kaede.  With a shaky hand, and encouraged by a smiling nod from the blonde, she unzipped the pianist's backpack and deposited the coins inside before zipping it back up.

Once Kiki had circled back around, Kaede asked "What about you, Shuichi?  I bet you must have discovered some super-secret clue to help us get out of here!"

Shuichi chuckled at her enthusiasm as he denied "Oh, nothing like that, but I did find one thing of note.  Follow me."

The two girls followed Shuichi to the window before he grabbed the bottom handle and lifted it, allowing a chilly breeze to enter the room.

As the girls shivered, Shuichi suggested "Look outside, but don't fall through."

The girls nodded before they peeked through the window.  Their eyes widened as they peered down into a seemingly endless abyss.

"What the..."  Kaede gasped.

"I can't even see the ground!"  Kiki exclaimed.

"Yeah."  Shuichi explained after the girls brought their heads back in and closed the window.  "I think it's safe to say that whoever abducted us brought us to some kind of skyscraper like structure, though I don't know exactly how high up we are."

" somehow the three of us were abducted and brought to some really tall building, one of us has a severe case of amnesia, and the only thing that could possibly identify the culprits are some weird coins in my backpack."  Kaede summarized.  "Am I missing anything, Shuichi?"

"Um, no, that pretty much sums it up."  Shuichi agreed.

"So…what do we do?"  Kiki asked.  "I doubt we'll find anything by staying here."

Kaede and Shuichi nodded before she turned towards the door and suggested "Well, there's only one door, so why don't we go see what's on the other side?"

Kiki and Shuichi both nodded before Kaede exclaimed "Alright, let's go!"

"This...looks like a normal university..."  Kaede concluded as they walked by another classroom door.  She tried opening it, only to scowl in frustration, cursing "Damn, this one's locked too!"

"It sounds like whoever abducted us wants to ensure that we don't go anywhere they don't want us to."  Shuichi noted.

"Well, we've tried every door we've come across, and they've all been locked.  Even the room we came out of is now locked."  Kiki agreed, her lips drooping into a discouraged frown.

"Well, all we can do is keep moving until we can actually get somewhere."  Kaede told her new comrades as she turned her head and smiled at them.  "Besides, if what Shuichi said is true, then it must mean they want us to go somewhere."

"Yeah, but who knows where that is..."  Kiki’s voice echoed with doubt, causing Shuichi to frown.

"Seriously, you guys need to keep your chins up!"  Kaede told them with slight force in her voice.  "We've just gotta keep on charging ahead and hope for the best!"

Though still apprehensive, the two new comrades smiled softly and nodded.  Kaede sighed in relief, ahppy that her two new friends were at least somewhat encouraged by her words.  The three of them continued to walk through the seemingly normal hallways until they at last came to a pair of double doors.  Kaede tested the handle, pulling it slightly before her eyes widened as it gave way.

"Hey, it opens!  We might have found a way out!"

I…don't know if it's that easy...  Shuichi thought, though he and Kiki nodded, playing along with Kaede's idea since they didn't have any better ones at the moment.

Kaede took a deep breath and narrowed her eyes in determination.  ""

Chapter Text

"It's...a gymnasium..."  Kaede noted as she, Shuichi, and Kiki all walked through the door before Kiki closed it behind them.  "Oh, and there's more people in here!"

Numerous other people turned around at the sight of Kaede's voice before they stared at the three new arrivals and began to talk.

"Ohhh...More people have arrived."

"Huh?"  Kaede questioned.

"Did you all wake up in a classroom and stumble into this gym too?"

"O...Oh, yeah..."

"What...are they?  What do they want with us?"

"W...Wait!"  Kaede shouted, causing Shuichi and Kiki to momentarily cover their ears.  "Who are you guys...?"  And why am I here...

"And that makes sixteen."

"What?"  Kaede asked as Kiki and Shuichi cocked their heads, baffled by the remark.

"I'm talking about us."  A boy with green eyes and hair that reminded Kaede of green tea clarified.  "There are sixteen of us...all university students.  What do you think that means?" students...?  Kaede wondered, just as baffled as everyone else in the room.

"Oh, right.  Didn't answer your question."  The strange boy commented before he decided "I can give you my name.  It's Rantaro Amami.  Let's leave it at that for now."

Shuichi's brow furrowed in suspicion as Kaede replied "Huh?  Um...okay."

"Anyway, why does it matter if there are sixteen of us?"  Kiki wondered.  "There might be more coming."

Rantaro shook his head and denied "Nah, I think this is all of us.  If this is what I think it is, anyway."

"If this is what you think it is?"  A man with gray-streaked brown hair questioned.

"Hey, you some kind of know-it-all?"  A woman with long, jet black hair exclaimed impatiently. 

Kaede’s eyes wandered to her gold-embroidered turquoise crop top that just barely covered her breasts.  Shuichi blushed at her state of near undress, though he was smart enough to keep his mouth shut about it. 

"If you know somethin', spit it out!"

If Rantaro had anything to say, it was interrupted by a high-pitched voice that reverberated through the gymnasium.  Everyone turned their heads from side to side, frantically looking around the room in an attempt to discern the source of the voice.

"Attention all students!  Kibou University's Orientation will now begin!  Please direct your attention to the podium at the center stage where your headmaster will greet you!"

...I've got a bad feeling about this...  Kaede shivered with dread as she and the others turned towards the podium in question.

They all felt their hearts pounding with nervous dread as several lights shined on the podium.  A black and white teddy bear with one black eye and one jagged red eye leapt onto the podium, seeming to grin with malice at them.

"I am the god of this new world...and the headmaster of Kibou University!  The one, the only...Monokuma!  Nice to meetcha!"


Kyoko sighed as she hung up her cell phone, telling her husband "Makoto, she's not picking up.  I'm getting really worried about Kiki."

Makoto frowned in worry, but not wanting to overreact, he soothed "Calm down, okay, honey?  I'll call the university and ask about her, okay?"

Kyoko nodded, allowing Makoto to dial a number on his phone before holding it to his ear as it rang.

"Hi, this is Makoto Naegi.  I'm calling to inquire about the status of my daughter Kiki.  She hasn't called me of her mother since she left to start her new term and we just wanted to know if she made it alright...what? is that possible?  Okay...thanks, bye."  Makoto sighed and hung up before he told the horrified Kyoko "Apparently they never received Kiki's acceptance letter, and when Kiki left to move into her new dorm, the school was apparently undergoing extensive renovations."

"So…she's not even at university?!"  Kyoko exclaimed, feeling her heart drop in fear as he nodded.  "Makoto, we need to..."

"We've got a problem."

Makoto and Kyoko turned to see Maki standing in the doorway to Kyoko's study, flanked on either side by Koto and Kiri.

"Maki..."  Makoto told her "This isn't really a good time.  We've got a big problem on our hands as it is.  What could be more important than...?"

"Someone's hijacked the airwaves."

Hijacked?!  Makoto and Kyoko exclaimed in their thoughts as their youngest twin children nodded.

"Yeah, we were all watching an anime on TV with Miss Maki when it got all fuzzy!"  Koto explained.

Kiri nodded and elaborated "Then when it cleared up, it showed this weird show with some creepy black and white teddy bear mascot."

"Black and white..."  Makoto began, dread creeping into his voice.

"Teddy bear...?"  Kyoko breathed in shock.

Maki nodded and confirmed "It's true, it's still on the TV.  Mokubo's watching it right now."

Their faces paled before Makoto and Kyoko looked at each other and the patriarch reluctantly said "Kyoko, I know that Kiki's unresponsiveness is a big issue, but..."

"Agreed...shikata wa nai."  Kyoko sighed before she looked at Maki.  "Well, shall we go?"


Kyoko couldn't contain her gasp of horror as Makoto's eyes widened at the sight of their worst nightmare realized.

"It's Monokuma..."  Makoto breathed as they sat on the couch, their legs shaking from the horrible sight.

"Yes...but how did he come back?"  Kyoko breathed.  "Junko's dead...and Akki's still in juvenile detention!  So how could Monokuma be back?!"

"I'm not sure..."  Makoto admitted.  "But it can't be good."

Kyoko nodded and agreed "If Monokuma's returned, it can only mean one thing..."

"A Killing Game..."  They muttered under their breath as they stared at the TV, observing Monokuma address the unwilling participants.

"...It's Kiki..."  Mokubo muttered, causing all of their eyes to widen in shock as they saw the missing young woman standing in the crowd, nervous and confused like everyone else.

"Kiki!"  Koto and Kiri exclaimed!

"Kiki!  Our baby!  What's she doing there?!"  Kyoko cried, horrified that her daughter was being subjected to the same horror that she and her husband were forced to endure.

"It makes sense now..."  Makoto realized "That move-in must have been a trap.  When Kiki arrived on campus, she must have been abducted and brought to wherever she and the others are."

"...It's not just Kiki..."  Everyone looked at the observant Mokubo who explained "...Saihara, Shirogane, Gokuhara...there here too..."

As the two parents observed the TV again, Kyoko exclaimed "He's right, they are there!  And so are Kirumi, and that Ryoma Hoshi we were considering, and that Akamatsu girl!"

"You're right, how'd they end up in this?!"  Makoto wondered sadly as he couldn't help feeling like he personally failed them.  I never wanted you to have to go out into the world only to be trapped in a nightmare like this!

Kyoko dug out her cell phone and started dialing frantically as she muttered "I've seen enough, I'm calling in the police."  She held up the phone to her ear and spoke as the line picked up "Hello, Chief Ishimaru?  This is Kyoko Naegi.  I'm calling to report multiple kidnappings, including my daughter Kiki Naegi."

"We're watching the footage as we speak, Mrs. Naegi."  Kiyoki answered calmly.  "Don't worry, every department in Japan is already collaborating on this, and we're just about to assign our best detective to crack the case and rescue those kids."

"Don't waste any time, okay?  Goodbye."  Kyoko hung up and sighed "There, help's officially on the way.  All we can do now is wait."

Makoto nodded as they refocused their gaze to the TV, watching with dread as Monokuma continued with his announcements.


"Wh…What is this?  What's going on?"  Kaede exclaimed, sweating in fear.

"A teddy bear appeared..."  A girl with long blue hair and glasses replied.

"Yes, but that is no ordinary teddy bear."  A pale boy with silver hair stated.  "I can sense it...the despair and madness swirling around that cursed thing..."

"Whoa..."  Monokuma interjected.  "First of all, I'm no teddy bear.  I'm Monokuma."  He growled "And show some respect!  I'm the headmaster of Kibou University!"

"...Headmaster?"  A lean, yet muscular boy with jet black hair that slightly obscured his eyes asked.

"It appears to be some sort of autonomous robot with a built-in A.I., like me..."  A robot with the appearance of a white-haired boy observed.

"An autonomous robot teddy bear being a headmaster?  This is certainly turning into quite the story."  A short boy wearing a black hat with two spikes, a black jacket, and black and blue striped pants muttered.

"Well that may be, but what I'm worried about is what all of us are doing here."  Rantaro addressed Monokuma, narrowing his eyes cautiously.  "What exactly do you want with us?"

Everyone stared at Monokuma with nervous anticipation, feeling dread as the bear licked his lips before giggling.


"What is so amusing?"  A girl with sage colored hair wearing a black apron covering a white dress and some of a purple tie.

“What do I want with you…?”  He crowed “Puhuhu…I figured that’d be obvious!”

“Obvious…?”  Rantaro raised an eyebrow in confusion, caught off guard by Monokuma’s simplistic reply.

“W…Well it’s not!”  Kiki exclaimed.  “We all just woke up in this place, not knowing how we got here.  We don’t even know each other’s names, let alone what we’re doing here or what you want from us.”

Monokuma sighed dramatically.  “Boy you’re slow, just like a certain someone from long ago…fine, fine.  I’m getting bored with fielding questions like some reporter, so I’ll just come out and say it.”

Monokuma's answer shook everyone to their core as the bear grinned, his eyes lighting up like the lights on a Christmas tree. "I want you college students to participate in a killing game."

"K...Killing game?  Us?"  Kaede nearly shrieked in shock.

"Please stop joking!"  The robot boy demanded.  "Why would we agree to participate in a killing game!?"

"Huh?"  Monokuma cocked his head, seemingly baffled by his resistance before asking "You guys don't wanna do it?"

"'C...Course not!  Gentlemen don’t hurt people!"  A muscular man with brown hair tinted with olive green scowled, his protest radiating pure disgust, shock, and horror.

"But if you've looked around the university, then you already know, don't you?"  Monokuma explained "The university is in a skyscraper taller than the Tokyo Tower!  You can't escape to the outside world...And as your headmaster, you can't defy me.  In other words...I hold the power of life and death over each and every one of you."

"So do what you say if we don't want to die."  Rantaro summed up.

"Y…You gotta be kidding me!"  Kiki exclaimed, glancing at Kaede and Shuichi for a brief moment before turning back towards Monokuma. "Why would friends kill each other!?"

"...Who said you guys were friends?"  Monokuma asked.  "You guys aren't friends at all...You're enemies out to kill each other."

"E…Enemies...?"  Shuichi exclaimed as he and Kiki nervously glanced at each other.

We...We're enemies?  Kaede wondered as she glanced at the crowd of strangers, then her two new comrades nearby.

A tense silence permeated the gymnasium for several seconds as they considered Monokuma's words.

"I want to ask something."  Everyone turned to the boy in black, his brow furrowed in confusion.  "How are we supposed to kill each other?  Are you going to give us weapons?"

Don't give him any ideas! 

Kaede paled in horror at the short boy's question.  The others’ shared looks of shock and disgust made the pianist take solace in the fact that she wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

"What the hell, man!?  What are you asking?"  A large man wearing orange overalls and a blue beanie scowled, clenching his fist in anger.

The short boy shrugged, explaining "We need to get info from them first.  We can't do anything if we don't know anything."

Yeah, but did you have to phrase it like that?!  Kaede thought in exasperation before Monokuma answered.

"Weapons?  Huh?  What kinda barbaric display are you envisioning?  You couldn't be more wrong.  Why, at Kibou University...the killing game is quite the refined, sophisticated experience!"

"Sophisticated experience?"  The black-haired boy crossed his arms over his chest, staring skeptically at the bear.

"Yes...Here, the killing game is punctuated by class trials."

"Class...trials...?"  Kaede asked hesitantly.

"Excellent question, my little pupil!"  Monokuma replied cheerfully.  "Let me explain.  So if one of you manages to murder another, you all have to take part in a class trial.  The class trial is where the blackened killer faces off against their spotless classmates and argue over who the blackened is!  After that, it's Voting Time!  And if the majority of you vote correctly...then only the blackened killer will receive punishment...After the blackened is punished, the rest of you can just keep on living your communal lives together."

There has to be more to it than that...  Kaede pondered.  Otherwise, there'd be no incentive for any of us to kill each other.

Monokuma answered Kaede's unanswered question as he continued "But if you vote for the wrong person during the class trial...the blackened gets off scot-free, and all the spotless students get punished instead!  And those are the rules of the class trial!"

Ah, there's the incentive.  It's a high-risk, high-reward system...  Kaede realized.

"Kill without being caught, and then survive the trial...Sounds eerily similar to the real world."  Rantaro noted.

"You think so?"  Monokuma gushed "Then the outside world must be masterfully designed...even at its cruelest."

"One can likely imagine...but I shall ask, just in case..."  The silver-haired boy inquired "What is the punishment you mentioned earlier?"

"Simply put, it's an execution!"

Everyone's blood turned cold as the muscular boy exclaimed "E…Execution!?"

Monokuma's eye seemed to glow as he nodded and replied "If you do a crime, you get punished for it.  That's, like, the most basic rule of society.  But this is a killing game, so the punishment for murder is a bit more...permanent."  Monokuma sighed "Alright, I'm over all this boring exposition...Let's get this heart-pounding killing school semester started already!"

Monokuma giggled as fear and dread seemed to overcome the students.

"You have free rein to murder however you like, too.  Like bludgeoning!  Or stabbing!  Feelin' cheap?  Try strangulation!  Feelin' lazy? Try poisoning!  Whether you shoot, burn, drown, blow up, crush, electrocute, or laugh your victim to death...You can use any method you like to kill anybody you like, any way you like!” 

Monokuma jumped behind the podium, temporarily disappearing from view.  When he leapt back up, he placed a stack of black tablets on top of it.

“All these rules and more can be found in your e-Handbooks, which I will pass out to you momentarily.  They have profiles on each of you, all the school rules, a map of the available facilities, even a messaging system!  I know how much you Generation Z kids love to text and send each other emojis and crap to your friends and parents.  Literally, you like to send each other crap!  Whose idea was it to create a crap emoji anyway?!”

Seeing the lack of reaction to his joke, Monokuma sighed in disappointment.  He cleared his throat, his disappointed frown turning back into an excited smile as he shifted back to his previous explanation.

“At Kibou University, you will realize your murderous potential!  Sixteen young adults of different backgrounds, all competing for first place in a killing game...There's no better setting for an event like this than Kibou University!"

Kaede felt the vomit in her throat rise with each word that came out of Monokuma's mouth.  Daring to glance around her, she noticed some of them had turned pale as a sheet, while others were struggling to keep their composure.

The nauseous and horrified silence was broken by Rantaro's strange chuckles.  "Killing school semester...It's like a game."

"Ridiculous."  The silver-haired boy spat.  "...risking our lives for some silly game is absurd."

"Well, this is quite the mess we’re in…”  The brown and grey-haired man noted, drawing the shock of the thirteen other students.

"Hey!  How can you all be so calm!?"  The scantily dressed woman exclaimed.

"Th…This has to be a lie...right?  It's...a lie, right?"  The blue-haired girl stammered as Kaede felt woozy.

A lie...More like fiction...  Kaede told herself.  Like a story on TV...A scenario so removed from reality, we can hardly believe it's happening.

"I...I don't be in a killing game...It's wrong.  I...I'd never do that."  Shuichi stammered nervously.

"Puhuhu..."  Monokuma giggled.  "Well, if you don't wanna participate in the killing game, that's gonna be a problem...Cuz the killing game is the only reason you're here."

"...What?"  Shuichi breathed in shock.

"Now then, unleash your talents and have a happy, homicidal, horrific, hilarious killing game!"

"W...Wait just a minute!"  Kaede exclaimed.

"...Hm?"  Monokuma asked curiously.

"No matter what you say...We won't do it!"  Kaede bellowed.  "We'll never participate in a killing game!  Whatever you have planned, I'm not gonna let you get away with it!"

Kiki took a deep breath and walked forward, standing by Kaede as she clenched her fists and bellowed "Kaede's right!  I'll never take part in a killing game!"

Monokuma seemed to grin maliciously at the girl as he giggled "Puhuhu...well, aren't we the stubborn and defiant one...must run in the family..."

Kiki paled as her eyes widened in shock before she breathed "...My family..."  She glared at Monokuma as she cried "What do you know about my family?!  What have you done to them?!"

"Ahahaha!"  Monokuma laughed.  "Interested, are you?  Well, there's one way you'll find out, little girl.  All you have to win the killing game!  As for you..."  Monokuma shifted his gaze to Kaede as he complimented "I welcome your resistance!  That kinda defiant spirit is important to the killing game.  It's fun to watch the defiant ones eventually snap, and get their hands dirty..."

"Wh…What do you mean by that...?"  Kaede stammered.

"Everyone loves that kinda brutality in a death game!  Especially me!  It never gets old!  It's so fun and entertaining that I just get un-BEAR-ably pumped up!"  Everyone sweatdropped at the pun before Monokuma continued "Plus, as the headmaster, it's my job to force you to do it.  Ahahahahahahahaha!"

Kaede glared at the laughing bear, putting up a brave face for the others who were scared and nervous, now staring suspiciously at each other, wondering who the first to betray the others would be.



The detective in question looked up from their desk and saw Kiyoki walk up to them.

"You've seen the recent livestream, correct?"  They nodded and turned around their laptop to show the feed of Monokuma laughing at his captives.  "I'm putting you in charge of this kidnapping case.  You are to deduce where Monokuma is keeping the hostages and lead a rescue force to bring them home before any casualties, if possible."

The detective nodded, allowing Kiyoki to clear his throat.  His eyes solemn with seriousness, he spoke with a grave tone that betrayed his worry for the captives.

"One of the hostages happens to be the daughter of Kyoko Kirigiri Naegi."  The detective's eyes flashed as Kiyoki nodded.  "I'm sure I don't need to explain how vital it is that we successfully rescue them from this killing game."

"...You can count on me, Chief."  The detective nodded seriously.

"...See to it that you do...I'm sure neither of us want to visit the Naegis with a body bag."  He turned around and finished "The live stream is being archived to our servers.  Be sure to communicate with the other prefectures' law enforcement divisions.  They may have some valuable information that will help us to track down their location sooner.  Don't let me down, Detective."

As they nodded, Kiyoki walked back to his office, leaving the detective alone with their new assignment.

...I won't fail...I promise, I'll crack this case and get them home!

Chapter Text

“…Danganronpa Four?”  Mokubo read aloud.

“…Next Generation Killing?”  Koto and Kiri read, confused expressions on their faces while their parents frowned grimly.

Makoto hummed as he muttered to his wife “It must be a reference to the past Killing Games that we were involved in.  The Killing School Life would be Danganronpa One under this system.”

“Indeed.”  Kyoko agreed.  “And the one in the Neo World Program would be Danganronpa Two.”

Makoto nodded as he mused “The massacre in Towa City might not count, since it wasn’t a true Killing Game.”

Kyoko nodded and deduced “Then that means the Final Killing Game at the Future Foundation must be Danganronpa Three.”

“But who’d want to resurrect something as twisted as these Killing Games?”  Maki wondered.  “Or make a TV show out of it?”

“I don’t know, but one thing’s for certain.  Mokubo, Koto, Kiri…”  The three Naegi children turned to their mother who told them sternly “You three are to stay completely clear of the television until further notice.”

“Hey!  That’s not fair, Mom!”  Koto whined.

“Yeah, we wanna cheer on Kiki!”  Kiri agreed.

Kyoko merely hardened her glare, rejecting “This isn’t a game you two, and it’s not some anime your sister likes to watch either.  This is real, and I don’t want any of you seeing the grizzly sights that will likely be on display.  So please…”

“…Let us watch our sister.”

“…Moku…”  Kyoko uttered, stunned at her son’s silent defiance.

The boy watched the screen intently as he watched Monokuma give them their e-Handbooks.  “…We want to help Nee-chan.  We want to support our sister when she needs us, even if it’s just cheering her on in spirit.”


Makoto sighed and told his eldest son “Mokubo Naegi…this is likely going to be very scary.  The things you’ll see on that TV are the kinds of things that give people nightmares.  Are you sure you want to watch that?”

“…Hai.  Onee-chan ga watashi tachi wa irun da yo.”

After a tense silence, Makoto sighed and relented “…One condition.  If your mother and I decide that a particular scene is too much for you kids, you’re to take Koto and Kiri into the kitchen until we say it’s okay to come back.”

“Makoto?!”  Kyoko exclaimed in shock.

“…They want to support their sister in her time of need.  I could never take that away from them, especially when Kiki needs it the most.  This is a compromise that will spare them from the worst of it, Kyoko.”  He turned back to his children and asked “Do we have a deal?”

“Hai!”  The three of them nodded.

Makoto smiled sadly before he suggested “Let’s…keep watching.  It looks like they’re reading the rules on their handbooks.”

Kyoko sighed in defeat and leaned against the cushion.  She let her husband’s comforting arm wrap around her waist in a comforting embrace as they watched everyone read the rules on the tablets.

“Students must live at Kibou University for the remainder of their foreseeable future.  Once a murder takes place, all surviving students must participate in a class trial.  If the blackened is exposed during the class trial, they alone will be executed.  If the blackened is not exposed, all remaining students will be executed.  If the blackened survives the class trial, they will graduate and re-enter the outside world.  The killing game and class trials will continue until only two surviving students remain.” 

Kaede’s face turned pale, the thought of all but two of them getting killed horrifying her.  Swallowing the lump in her throat, she focused on the remaining rules.

“Nighttime is from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.  The dining hall is off-limits at night.  Violence toward Monokuma, the headmaster of Kibou University, is strictly prohibited.  Monokuma will never directly commit a murder.  Your e-Handbooks are very important items.  Please do not damage them.” 

Kaede’s brow furrowed, wondering why Monokuma was so particular about the tablets.  She shook her head, pushing the thought aside as she continued reading.

“The body discovery announcement will play when three or more students discover a body.  With minimal restrictions, you are free to explore the campus at your discretion.  Students who violate these rules will be immediately executed by Monokuma.  The headmaster may add new regulations to this list at any time.”

Once she came to the end of the rules, Kaede stared at her tablet.  Her jaw slackened in disbelief and horror as she digested the new rules she and the others would have to abide by.

“You…gotta be kidding me…I will never…I will never participate in a killing game…”

“Kibou University…So these are the rules…”  The short young man mused curiously.

“I do not understand why someone…would force us to do this?”  The sage-haired woman admitted, her voice radiating an anxious inquisitiveness.

“But the rules are pretty cut and dry.”  The silver-haired man commented.  “I don’t think we have to worry about anyone accidentally breaking them.”

“That’s not the problem!”  The scantily clad woman’s fiery objection put her spitfire personality on full display.

“Please lower your voice, no need to shout.”  The man calmly retorted.

“Hey, hey!  What does this sixth regulation mean?”  The girl with pink pigtails wondered before she repeated “The killing game and class trials will continue until only two surviving students remain.  Only two surviving students?  What would be the reason for that?”

Shuichi spoke up, pondering “Perhaps it’s because you couldn’t do a trial with just two people…?”

“Oh, I see!”  The girl exclaimed.

Kaede smiled at Shuichi and agreed, “You’re so smart, Shuichi.”

“Q…Quit screwing around…Killing game…School Regulations…”  The scantily clad woman narrowed her eyes as her anger took center stage.  “To hell with all that crap!  Who’d go along with something like that!?”

As she clenched her hands tightly around the frame of the tablet, Rantaro exclaimed “Whoa, hey now, relax.  If you don’t reign in your temper, you might break it, and school rules say you can’t break it.”

The dark-haired man nodded and agreed, “If you violate the rules, then Monokuma will dispose of you…”

“I don’t care about the rules!”  She retorted furiously.  “No way I’m gonna play this messed up game!”

Rantaro smiled grimly as he explained, “This isn’t about playing the game.  It’s too dangerous to disobey him now.”

“F-Forget about him!”  A man with black frizzy hair and glasses nervously stammered as he stared suspiciously at the angered woman.  “Just means one less d-dumbass for the world to d-deal with!”

“Hey!  Who you callin’ a dumbass!?”  The scantily clad woman retorted as a vein in her forehead pulsed in anger.

“This isn’t good…”  Koto muttered as they watched the arguments unfold.

“Yeah, they’re all just fighting each other.”  Kiri agreed with her brother.  “They need to stick together, or they’re all doomed.”

“…Everyone’s scared…”  Mokubo observed, his youthful eyes subtly glowing with worry.  “Onee-chan’s terrified…”

Everyone looked towards the screen as Mokubo pointed towards his older sister.  They all felt a collective sadness envelop them as they saw tears trickle down Kiki’s cheeks onto her e-Handbook.

“I’m gonna die…I’m gonna die…I’m never gonna see my family again…”

“Kiki…our baby…”  Kyoko breathed fretfully, her heart breaking at the sight of her terrified, tearful daughter.

“Kiki…”  Makoto muttered as he hugged his wife in comfort.  “I swear, I never wanted you to have to face what I faced.  But right now, you have to stay strong and work together with everyone else.  I believe in you, Kiki, but you need to take charge…”

“I think the pianist already has that covered.  Look…”  Maki pointed out, causing everyone to stare at the TV as Kaede walked over to the distressed Kiki, a determined and defiant fire in her eyes.

“HEY!!! KIKI, GET A GRIP!!!”  Kaede yelled as she grabbed onto Kiki’s shoulders and shook the distressed girl.

“Whoa!”  A startled Kiki exclaimed, despair’s grip weakening. “Wh…what the…?”

“I know how you feel, Kiki!  I’m scared too, but we shouldn’t be panicking right now!  Do you understand?”  As Kiki nodded, Kaede let go and turned to glare at the others before she exclaimed, “And the rest of you!  We shouldn’t be fighting amongst ourselves.  Right now, we need to work together.”

“Kaede…”  Kiki muttered in awe as Kaede sighed and closed her eyes.

“Honestly…I’d probably be more inspiring if I played a song than gave a speech…”  Kaede opened her eyes and grinned.  “Chopin’s Military Polonaise would definitely help unite us!”

“I agree with her!”  The scantily clad woman finally calmed down, nodding in Kaede’s direction. “We must remember who the real enemy is!”

“Y…yeah…you’re all p…panicking too…much…Just…stay calm…like me…”  The frizzy-haired man stammered unconvincingly.

“You call that calm?  You’re shaking so much.”  The dark-haired man pointed out.

“I can feel your intense spirit emanating from your aura.”  The silver-haired man complimented.  “I’ve never felt such willpower before.  And trust me…I have a bit of a gift for sensing what most cannot perceive.”

“Anyway…”  Kaede suggested “Why don’t we all start by introducing ourselves?”  She gestured to Kiki and Shuichi, explaining “We’ve already met, and Rantaro already introduced himself, but it might help with relations if we at least knew each other’s names…”

“You really think that’s a good idea?”  Everyone turned to the large man in overalls as he explained, “I’m not opposed to the idea of getting to know each other a little better, but that Monokuma could be listening in on all our conversations.  If we say too much about ourselves, he could target our families and friends…”

“I’m not so sure what we say in these walls would make much of a difference on that front.”

“Huh?”  The man in overalls turned to the silver-haired man, his brow furrowing in confusion.  “What do you mean?”

“I mean that Monokuma may in fact already know everything he needs to about our familial relations.  The girl over there indicated as much.”

“Huh?”  Kiki wondered as he pointed at her.  “Me?”

“That’s right, don’t you remember?  He taunted you with the promise of information about your family if you participated in this killing game.”

The brown and grey-haired man’s eyes widened as he realized, “I see…that would imply that Monokuma already knows everything about us, correct?”

“Well, everything might be a stretch, but certainly enough to hang the ones we treasure over our heads to get us to comply without gleaning additional information from the rest of us.”

“I see…”  The man in overalls asked “So you think there’s no danger in telling each other about ourselves?”

“Correct.”  The silver-haired man answered with a smiling nod.

“Alright, I guess that makes sense.  Fine, I won’t object to some introductions then.”

“Okay then, why don’t the three of us go first?”  Kaede suggested.  The others nodded, allowing the pianist to begin.  “My name’s Kaede Akamatsu.  I’m a pianist, and once we’re out of here, I’ll play a victory concert for us!”

Shuichi went next, introducing “I’m…Shuichi Saihara.  I’m a detective-in-training, and it’s nice to meet you.”

Kiki shyly spoke up, her voice radiating hesitance and shyness.  “Ano…hi.  I’m Kiki…I’m having trouble remembering who I am at the moment.  I’ve got a really bad case of amnesia, but I hope I can still help to get us out of here!”

The others smiled sympathetically at her before a blue-haired girl with glasses smiled politely.  “I’m Tsumugi Shirogane.  I’m a proud otaku and cosplayer, so if there’s anything you wanna know about anime or manga or video games, I’m your girl!”

The others sweatdropped at Tsumugi before the man with tinted olive-green hair beamed warmly, raising a gentle hand in greeting.  “Gonta’s name is Gonta Gokuhara.  Do any of you like bugs?  If you do, then Gonta will feel safe with you.  Bug lovers cannot possibly be evil!”

Everyone sweatdropped at the grinning Gonta before the sage-haired girl curtsied.  “Ohayou.  My name is Kirumi Tojo.  I am a maid, so if there is anything you require of me, let me know and I will do everything in my power to fulfill your request.”

I’m guessing it would be out of your power to request that you get us out of here…  Kaede deadpanned in her head before the short boy went next.  “The name’s Ryoma Hoshi…but you probably already knew that from the news…”

“Oh, that’s right!”  Shuichi exclaimed in recognition.  “He was a famous tennis player who played in underground tennis matches.  But he lost his girlfriend to the mafia, and then murdered them in response.”  Everyone’s eyes widened in shock as Shuichi finished, “The last I heard he was serving a prison sentence for his crimes.”

“Hmph, broken out of one prison and thrown right into another…”  Ryoma muttered as he averted his gaze.  “Trust me, you’re all better off avoiding me in this place whenever you can.”

An awkward silence permeated the room before it was broken by the robot’s introduction.  “I am K1-B0, but you may call me Keebo.  I shall warn you in advance, I shall not tolerate any robophobic remarks!”


Everyone nodded before the brown and grey-haired man smiled softly.  “Very well, I shall introduce myself next.  My name is Gentarou Hongou, but you may call me Ace.”

The silver-haired man nodded and proceeded, “My name is Light Field, but you may call me Snake, like Snake Eyes.  A fitting name, considering I am blind.”

As everyone’s eyes widened in surprise, the redhead explained “It’s true, my brother’s blind, but he can still get around as good as anybody, so you all better not underestimate him!”

I’m not sure what’s more surprising: the passion you defended your brother with, or the fact that you two look nothing alike…  Kaede thought as Snake sighed.

“Everyone, this is my sister Clover.  I do hope that she can manage to stay out of trouble…”

“Hey!”  She exclaimed as she slapped Snake’s arm, making him chuckle in return.

Everyone smiled at the levity between the siblings, forgetting about the killing game for just a moment.  Eventually, the man in overalls cleared his throat in preparation for his introduction.

“I uh…don’t actually remember my name.  I have a bad case of amnesia too.”  Kiki frowned in empathy before he continued, “I do remember a nickname though.  It’s Seven.”

Seven, huh?  Weird nickname…  Kaede thought before the scantily clad woman rudely interjected.

“Hey, the name’s Hazuki Kashiwabara, but I know that’s a mouthful, so just call me Lotus.”

The others nodded before turning to the nervous, frizzy-haired man.  “So, what’s your name?”  Clover asked as she placed her hands on her hips.

“M…me?”  He stammered, practically shaking in his shoes.  “I’m…T…Teruaki Ku…Kubota…and even though I’ll play a…along to escape…I don’t trust a…any of you…”

The others sweatdropped before all their gazes turned to the final participant: the black-haired man.  “…The name’s Sokyu, and that’s all you need to know.  I’ll help, but don’t expect us to be friends.”

Kaede sighed before she suggested “Alright…now that we’re all acquainted, why don’t we work together and search for an exit?”

“But…”  Tsumugi pointed out “We’re at the top of a skyscraper!  How are we supposed to escape from there?”

“Now wait just a second.”  Keebo interjected.  “We never really investigated this place, did we?”

“That’s right.”  Seven confirmed with a nod.  “When I woke up, I didn’t really take the time to explore the rest of the area.  I just headed straight here.”

“All the doors were locked when I woke up with Kiki and Shuichi…”  Kaede admitted before her eyes lit up with hope.  “But maybe now that this game has officially started, they might be open!”

“Yes, besides, if there’s no exit, then how did we get inside this skyscraper in the first place?”  Keebo pointed out.

“…Oh, good points.”  Tsumugi admitted.

“That means there must be a way out somewhere!  We just have to find it!” 

Kaede’s lips tugged into an excited smile.  She closed her eyes and hummed in contemplation.

“Whoever trapped us here wants us to fight each other…”  She opened her eyes and pumped her fists as she encouraged, “…So let’s show ‘em that we’re not gonna let that happen!  We’re not gonna fight each other!  We’re gonna work together!  Okay!?”

Everyone stared at Kaede, causing her to feel overwhelmed with nervousness.  Her enthusiasm drained out of her, as if someone pulled out the drain from a filled bathtub.

“Why are you quiet…?  Did I say something wrong?”  Crap, I knew I shouldn’t have given a speech!  I should have tried to sing instead…

“On the contrary.”  Kirumi answered, surprising Kaede with a spirited smile.  “You made your case with such succinct aplomb that we’ve been rendered speechless.”

“Heh…I was gonna say the same thing, but you beat me to it…”  Lotus commented, smirking.  “You’re exactly right!  We can’t give up so easily!”

“Let’s split up and try to find the exit!”  Kiki bursted out, her sense of hope rejuvenated.

“I must admit, I admire your spirit.”  Rantaro complimented, causing Kaede to blush in embarrassment at the praise.

“Let us consult our new e-Handbooks.”  Kirumi counseled.  “Perhaps there is a map we can use for exploration.”

The others nodded and reactivated their e-Handbooks.  Kaede scanned the apps on her screen before she tapped on a Map icon.

“Hey, it’s a map of this floor!”  The pianist exclaimed.

“It looks like there’s a handful of rooms on this floor, other than the classrooms.”  Shuichi observed.

Kiki nodded and pointed out, “There’s the gymnasium we’re in now, but there’s also a warehouse, a library, some kind of school store, and a dorm area.”

“It makes sense…”  Shuichi admitted “If whoever created Monokuma trapped us here, they’d need some kind of housing arrangement to sustain sixteen people for an extended period of time.”

As the others nodded, Kaede suggested “It might be a good idea to split into teams during our search.”

“I’m going with my brother!”  Clover decided as she held onto Snake’s arm.

“Alright, alright, just settle down, Clover.”  Snake told his sister.

“Alright, so Snake and Clover are in one group.”  Kaede noted before she offered, “Kiki, Shuichi, how about we investigate together?”

“Ah, sure, Kaede.”

“Sounds good to me!”  Kiki happily agreed, glad that she’d at least be with someone she knew.

“Alright, so that’s five down.  Anyone else wanna be in a group?”  Kaede asked.

“I…I’m not going anywhere with a…anyone…!”  Teruaki rejected.  “I’m g…gonna search a…alone…!”

“Me too.”  Ryoma decided.  “It’ll be better for everyone if you don’t have to be around a killer like me.”

“Yeah, I think I’ll go solo too.”  Rantaro smiled apologetically.  “Nothing personal, I just don’t trust easily.”

“I’m going alone too.”  Kaede looked at Sokyu, who averted his gaze.  “I said I’d cooperate and help out, but that doesn’t mean I gotta adhere to some kind of buddy system.”

“Okay…I guess nobody has to be in a group if they don’t want to.”  Kaede sighed and turned to the others.  “Does anyone else wantto be in a group?”

Lotus volunteered “I’ll go with Kirumi and Tsumugi, if they’re willing.”

“I don’t mind who my partner is.”  Tsumugi answered as she smiled politely.

“If this is your request, I shall be happy to honor it, Lotus.”  Kirumi answered courteously, causing Lotus to sweatdrop.

“Okay, so Tsumugi, Kirumi, and Lotus are in another group.”  Kaede noted.

“Gonta can partner with Snake and Clover if they don’t mind Gonta tagging along!  Gonta promises to be a true gentleman!”

“Of course, welcome to our group, Gonta.”  Snake agreed with a welcoming smile.

“If my brother says so, I guess it’s okay.”  Clover muttered.

“In that case, I can group with Ace and Keebo.”  Seven volunteered.  “That takes care of everyone, right?”

Seeing the two nod their consent, Kaede declared “Okay, now that we’re all grouped up, let’s decide what rooms each party, or solo player, will investigate.”

“I’ll inspect the gym a little more.”  Rantaro volunteered.  “We didn’t get to investigate it before Monokuma showed up, so maybe there’s some kind of secret in here.”

“I’ll check out the classrooms.”  Ryoma stepped forward.  “Maybe there’s something we missed that I can find.”

“I’ll check out the li…library…so I can get some peace and qu…quiet away from you all…”  Teruaki decided.

The others sighed before Sokyu put forward, “I’ll see if there’s anything in the men’s bathroom.  Maybe there’s some kind of secret switch or something.”

“Okay, though we should check the girls’ room too, just to be safe.”  Kaede determined.  “Kiki and I can check it out together.  Shuichi, can you check out the School Store while we look?”

“Ah, sure, I’ll do my best.”  Shuichi agreed, making the two girls smile.

“Thanks, Shuichi.  The other groups can check out the dorm area and tell us what you all found.  Let’s report back in the gym in an hour, okay?”  As everyone nodded, Kaede proclaimed “Alright, everyone split up!”

Soon, everyone separated, leaving only Rantaro, Kaede, Kiki, and Shuichi.  “…Kaede, that was pretty cool back there.”

“Huh?  What was?”  The surprised Kaede asked Rantaro, who gave a cross between a smirk and a grin.

“The way you changed the mood completely.  Even Kiki over here felt her spirits lifted after your pep talk.  Seems like everyone looks up to you.”

“L…Looks up to me?”  Kaede stammered, unsure of herself.  “C’mon, that’s ridiculous.  I…just spoke from the heart, is all.”

“So it just comes naturally to you, then.  That’s even more cool.”  Kaede blushed before being startled by Rantaro’s darkened expression.  “You have what it takes to win…”

“What…?”  Win?!  I don’t wanna win this game!

His expression returned to a more serious one.  “I was just thinking, what you said back there would have pissed off whoever’s running this.  They definitely don’t want us holding hands, workin’ together…They’re going to come for you, Kaede.  With everything they’ve got.”  Rantaro smiled as he admitted, “I’m a little worried about you.  You’re just so…straightforward.”

Rantaro suddenly turned around and walked away, off to investigate the gym as he left the trio alone.

“…And away he goes.”  Kaede muttered “That guy could really stand to be less cryptic.”

“Ah, perhaps it’s a warning?”  Shuichi suggested.  “That’s what I think, anyway…Being strong-willed could get you into a lot of trouble around here…”

Kaede and Kiki bit their lips as they considered Shuichi’s words.  Jumping to conclusions, the detective began to sweat in a panic.

“Ah, s…sorry…I didn’t mean to sound so negative at a time like this.”

Kaede smiled and shook her head as she assured him, “…It’s fine.  You only said that because you’re worried, aren’t you?”

“Yeah…Rantaro is a mystery.  He keeps himself at arms’ length.  Honestly, considering how many people here have it too, I wouldn’t be surprised if he has some form of amnesia too.”

Seeing Kiki frown, Kaede immediately changed the subject.  “Well, there’s no use thinking about it right now.  We should go explore our targets.”

“Ah, you’re right…”  Shuichi replied.  “I’ll go check out the school store.”

“Great, meet us in front of the girls’ bathroom when you’re done, okay?”

“Yeah, I’ll see you later.”  Shuichi nodded with a smile before he walked out, leaving Kaede alone with the still distant Kiki.

“Huh?”  She uttered as she felt Kaede nudge her side with the tip of the elbow.

Kaede smiled and reassured the amnesiac girl, “I promise, you’re gonna remember who you are, and you’re gonna be a great help in getting us out of here.  So, chin up and let’s start investigating!”

Kiki gradually smiled as she agreed, “You’re right, sorry I got a little down.  Let’s go check out that bathroom!”

“That’s the spirit!”  Kaede cheered as they walked side-by-side, laser-focused on their investigation.

“Kiki…”  Koto muttered, too shocked to complete his sentence.

“…Doesn’t remember us…?”  Kiri gasped in horror.

“…Amnesia has been a significant part of both the Killing School Life and the Killing School Trip.”  Makoto sighed.  “It makes sense it would be a factor here, too.”

“Indeed, though this is the most severe case yet.”  Kyoko observed.  “At least I remembered my full name, and the rest of us had everything but our school lives intact.”

“Whoever the mastermind is, they’re not playing around.”  Maki muttered before she turned to the two parents.  “Any ideas as to who the mastermind might be yet?”

“Well…”  Kyoko reluctantly admitted “I can’t say for certain, but Snake and Clover were suspicious to me.”

“Because of the fact that they’re siblings?”  Her husband guessed before the ex-detective nodded.  “I understand why your suspicions would be drawn to them…”  Makoto paused as their memories of Junko and Mukuro flashed in their brains.  “Still, there’s a lot of people I’d call suspicious.  Like Seven, or that Teruaki guy, or that Sokyu…”

Makoto closed his eyes and hummed in contemplation, causing his family to turn curiously at him.  “Father?”  Mokubo asked.

“Dad…?”  Koto and Kiri parroted.

“Are you okay, Makoto?”  His wife asked out of concern.

Makoto sighed, opening his eyes and commenting, “There’s…something about him, that I can’t quite put my finger on…we’ll just have to keep watching until we get some new information…or until help arrives.”

Everyone nodded and turned back to the screen, praying that a rescue would arrive soon as they watched the participants begin to explore Kibou University.

Chapter Text

“It…it’s just a normal bathroom…”  Kaede observed as Kiki nodded.

Red brick walls surrounded the two girls, causing their brows to furrow at the sheer normality.  They looked down and saw white and pink floor tiles under their feet, leading to a row of sinks built into the rightmost wall.  Looking to their left, they took note of several white stalls just across from the basins.

“Let’s…get to work.  You wanna check the stalls while I check out the sinks?”

Kiki nodded before they separated.  As the amnesiac girl walked into a stall, Kaede approached the mirrors above the sink.

“Hmm…they’re just regular mirrors…”  Kaede mused as she tried pushing against the mirrors with light pressure.

Approaching the sinks, she tried to turn the knobs.  She watched as they easily turned from the force of her strong hands and water gushed out of all the faucets.

“I guess these are just normal sinks…”  She sighed in disappointment, turning the faucets to stop the waterflow.  She turned to the stalls and called, “Any luck with stalls?” 

Kiki walked out of one, shaking her head.  “Other than the fact that they work, no.  Looks like this is just a normal bathroom.”  She looked at Kaede apologetically, her pupils drooping as her lips tugged into a glum frown.  “Sorry, I know I’m not being useful right now…”

“Hey, don’t fret about that, really!”  Kaede exclaimed cheerfully as she held Kiki’s hands.  “So the bathroom was a dud, that doesn’t mean you’re useless!  We just gotta keep trying.  I know you’re gonna have your chance to shine, so just keep your chin up until then, okay?”  Kiki blinked, stunned by Kaede’s faith before she smiled and nodded.  “That’s better!  Alright, let’s go outside and wait for Shuichi.”

Kiki followed the charismatic musician out of the bathroom, slightly cheered despite the disappointment.

“So, Shuichi, any luck?”

The detective shook his head as he told the pianist, “Nothing of consequence, unfortunately.  There were some toys lining the shelves, and a few prize machines that I think might use those coins Kiki found, but other than that, nothing.”

“I see…it might be worth checking out later, but it’s certainly not a priority.”

Shuichi nodded at Kaede and asked, “So…any luck with the girls’ bathroom?”

Kiki shook her head and replied, “No, it was just a normal bathroom.  Guess we all picked out duds, huh?”

The three of them closed their eyes and hummed for a minute, deep in contemplation.  At that moment, Kaede opened her eyes and clapped.

“Hey, I got it!”  As the other two looked curiously at her, she explained “We’ve got some time before we have to meet up at the gym, so why don’t we explore the halls, so we don’t get lost later on?”

“You think we’ll be here that long?”  Kiki asked, slightly dismayed.

“Well, it’s just a possibility, Kiki…”  Kaede tried to reassure the amnesiac girl.

“Regardless, it can’t hurt to explore.”  Shuichi intervened, justifying “We might find something that we missed the first time.”

“Well…I guess it’s better than standing here…”

“Alright, then let’s go!”

Kaede smiled as she tugged Kiki by the wrist.  The heterochromatic girl yelped in surprise as she was tugged along by the enthusiastic pianist.

“Uh, Kaede, wait up!”  Shuichi called as he hurried after the two girls.

“I…think I’m getting more of a feel of this place…”  Kiki admitted as they wandered the halls at a more relaxed pace.

“Yeah, it really does look like a university building…at least on the inside…”  Shuichi observed, causing Kaede to nod in agreement.

“Yeah, though I’m surprised we haven’t seen any stairs yet…you think there’d be…what…?”

“Kaede…?  What is it…?”  Kiki asked in concern.

“I…I think I see stairs…straight ahead!”

“Wha…really?”  Shuichi asked excitedly.  “You see some stairs?”

“Yeah, they’re right over…what?”

Kaede trailed off as she walked straight ahead.  Kiki and Shuichi followed her with looks of concern on their faces.  She soon came to a halt however, nearly causing Kiki and Shuichi to bump into her.  Once they regained their bearings, they looked in the direction of her pointer finger.

“It’s stairs…”  Kiki uttered.

“Yeah, but…they’re blocked off…”  Shuichi uttered as they saw a large iron gate blocking off the stairs to the next floor.

Kaede groaned in frustration as she grabbed the gate with her hands.  She shook the barrier with all her might, only for the structure to slightly rattle from her force.

“Geez, so close to getting out of here!”

“Ano…I don’t think it would be that easy…”  Shuichi pointed out.

“Yeah, if Monokuma was determined to bring us here and make us kill each other, I doubt he’d leave the front door open.”  Kiki agreed with the detective.

Kaede sighed and admitted, “You’re right…sorry.  I got excited over nothing.”

Kiki shook her head and assured her, “Don’t worry about it.  Believe me, I’m anxious to get out of here too.  I probably would have reacted the same way in your shoes.”

Kaede smiled.  “Thanks, Kiki.”  She let go of the gate, turning back to face her new friends.  “I’m guessing it would be futile to try the other set of stairs on this floor; they probably have a gate too.”

“Oh, that’s right, the map on our e-Handbooks did have a map app.”

Kaede nodded at Kiki and suggested, “Why don’t we head back to the gym for now and wait for the others?”

Kiki and Shuichi wordlessly nodded in agreement and followed the pianist back to the gymnasium.

The trio was the first ones to enter the gymnasium, occupied only by Rantaro, who glanced at them in recognition before he continued to search the nooks and crannies of the gymnasium.  With nothing to do, the trio simply waited until the others slowly filed in. Eventually all the others re-entered the gym. The group formed a messy, impatient circle before Kaede coughed into her fist.

“Okay, let’s go over how our searches went.  Rantaro, why don’t we start with you?”

He nodded and sighed, explaining “I tried searching the gym for any kind of secret passage or hidden lever or anything like that…but I came up empty-handed.  Sorry, guys.”

“Oh, I’m sure you tried your best, Rantaro.”  Tsumugi offered, causing him to smile.

“Thanks…Tsumugi, was it?”

“Oh my!”  Tsumugi gasped in surprise.  “You actually remembered my name?  But I’m so plain!  I’m flattered.”

“D…don’t mention it…”  Rantaro stammered as they both blushed.

“…Okay…”  Kaede interjected as the others sweatdropped at the exchange.  “Why don’t we have your group go next, Tsumugi?”

Kirumi spoke up, interjecting “In the dormitories, we found a Dining Hall and Kitchen.”

“Yeah, there’s enough food here to feed an army of Fat Chocobos!”

“I guess that means we won’t be starving anytime soon.”  Kaede commented.  “Makes sense if whoever’s controlling Monokuma wants to keep us here for a while…”

“There were also a number of dorm rooms, one for each of us.”  Lotus took out a silver key with a pink cylinder attached to it that had the word Lotus etched into it.  “Each door has a nameplate with our name and some kind of digital avatar etched into it.  Each of our keys is currently lodged in the keyhole, waiting to be taken out.  I haven’t set foot in my room yet, so I can’t say what the insides look like.”

Kaede nodded in recognition before Ace spoke up.  “There was a bath house and a sauna in the dorm area, so it seems that we will at least be able to soak our frustrations away if we cannot get out of here quickly.  That should at least stave off any potential crimes of passion.”

Everyone frowned before Seven revealed, “There were also a set of bathrooms in the dorm area.  I checked the boys’ room, but nothing was in it.  Keebo checked the girls’ room, but…”

“I still cannot believe you had me do that!”  Keebo interjected furiously, causing Ace to raise an eyebrow.

“But what is the problem, Keebo?  You are a robot, so you can go into whatever bathroom you want, correct?”

“That is extremely robophobic!”  Keebo grit his teeth as he corrected, “I was programmed with a male personality!  I cannot simply ignore my programmed gender, or else my shame protocols will activate!”

As Ace and Keebo continued to bicker, Kaede yelled “ENOUGH!  They turned to face the pianist, who glared at them and told them “Bicker about this on your own time!  We have more important things to worry about!  Keebo, you inspected the girls’ bathroom in the dorms, right?”

“…Shamefully, yes…”  Keebo sighed.  “There was nothing of note in there, however.”

Kaede nodded before she asked “Alright, who wants to go next?”

Gonta spoke up next, volunteering “There was also a trash room and a laundry room, so we can do our laundry and throw away our trash without littering!”

“Hey!  Doesn’t that mean anyone who decided to try and kill one of us could destroy any evidence?”

Shuichi nodded, agreeing with Lotus “That is a possibility; it could grant them an advantage in a Class Trial…”


“Hey, calm down, Gonta!”  Kaede assured him.  “Nobody’s saying you’d kill anyone!  We’re just keeping track of all the possibilities, okay?”

Gonta took a deep breath and calmed down.  “Sorry…Gonta took it personally…”

As Gonta continued to take deep breaths, Snake interjected “After we split up, it occurred to me that we never assigned anyone to inspect the warehouse, so Clover and I took the liberty of doing so while Gonta investigated his part of the dormitories.”

“Ah, sorry about that.”  Kaede apologized.  “I should have thought about that…”

“It’s okay, we were all a little on edge.  I can’t blame anyone for forgetting one little room.  In any case, it’s been investigated.  Clover?”

“That warehouse is filled with stuff!  Extra clothes, toys, cameras, sports equipment, snacks, you name it, they’ve got it!”

“So basically, we won’t have to worry about not having things to do during our stay.”  Kaede summarized before Clover nodded in confirmation.  “Okay, who’s next?”

Teruaki fidgeted with his hands before he nervously revealed, “The library’s filled with b-books…they’ve got more books than s-shelves to put them on, so some are just in p-piles.  After I took a glance a-around, I…took a few books and read them at a t-table to calm my nerves.”

“…You’ve got to be kidding.”  Sokyu glared at the man, his murky purple eyes hardening behind the black locks that partially obscured them from view.  “The rest of us worked our asses off trying to find a way out, and you just got lazy and read a novel?!”

“Hey, I l-looked!”  Teruaki growled.  “Besides, what could I have found in a li-library…?!”

“Okay, let’s chill for a moment.”  Kaede interjected before the two antisocial men could bicker further.  “I can’t blame him for wanting to calm his nerves, but he should have put in more effort.  Regardless, what’s done is done.  Ryoma, why don’t you go next?”

The former tennis player nodded and explained, “I looked as hard as I could.  There were some vent grates in each of the classrooms, but they’re too small for any of us to fit into.  Even if we could, I don’t think they’d lead outside.  Other than that, there wasn’t anything of note, other than some weird coins with Monokuma’s mug on them.”

Kaede nodded before Sokyu volunteered, “I looked at the men’s bathroom on this floor, but I couldn’t find anything of value.”

“Yeah, Kaede and I didn’t find anything noteworthy in the girls’ room either.”  Kiki admitted her face drooping in disappointment again.

As Kaede sighed, Shuichi interjected “The School Store had some toys and vending machines.  I think those coins Ryoma found activate those machines, but other than that, there wasn’t anything useful.”

“There is one last thing of note.”  Kaede explained “Kiki, Shuichi, and I found some stairs to the floor below us, but they were blocked by metal gates that looked impossible to get open by force.”

“So, to recap…”  Ace summarized “This floor contains rooms for us to sleep in, enough food to sustain us for the foreseeable future, and a couple of amenities to keep us from getting bored.  We also have two sets of stairs that would allow us to explore more of the facility, but we’re restricted by the gates that prevent access.  Do I understand everything correctly?”

Kaede nodded before Clover exclaimed, “Well this turned out to be a waste of time!  We’re still trapped with no sign of an exit!”

“Clover, calm yourself.”  Snake gently scolded.

“I have to agree with her.”  Lotus reluctantly conceded.  “Exploring this floor hasn’t seemed to aid in our escape one bit.”

Everyone looked down, unable to refute Lotus’s point, even if the optimistic Kaede wanted to give them some kind of hope.  Damn, we’re all falling into despair…  The pianist realized, her own face drooping as much as Kiki’s.

“If only someone else found something…anything…”  Kiki muttered before Gonta’s eyes flashed in remembrance.

“Oh wait!”

“Huh?  What is it, big guy?”  Lotus questioned curiously.

“Um…maybe it doesn’t matter much, but…Gonta found windows along the walls in the hallway.  And one in the laundry room and trash room too!”

Oh yeah, Kiki and Shuichi and I found one in the classroom too!  Kaede realized before she asked, “But Gonta, why are you bringing this up now?”

“Well, while Gonta looked in the Trash Room, Gonta looked out the window and saw a small fire escape ladder.”  He pulled out a small metal ladder from his jacket, his lips tugging into a proud smile.  “Gonta was able to detach it, so Gonta took it with him to show everyone.”

“But…even so, we’re up way too high to use the fire escape to get out of here…”  Kiki pointed out, causing everyone to nod.

“Wait!”  Everyone turned to Keebo, the robot’s eyes seeming to glow in realization.  “There may be more to Gonta’s discovery than we thought!”

“What do you mean, Keebo?”

Keebo turned to look at the pianist and elaborated “You said it yourself, we’re going to work together, Kaede.  But what if that applies not just to our skills, but the tools we find as well?”

“Are you saying that we should try to remove all the fire escapes on this floor, and combine them into a single ladder for us all to use?”

Keebo nodded at Ace, who’s eyes widened as he understood Keebo’s point.  “Precisely!  I have welding tools in my hand, so I can easily connect them together.  Out of many, one!”

“Keebo, that’s brilliant!”  Kaede praised excitedly, resisting the urge to jump up and down.

“Quickly, we must put Keebo’s idea into action at once!”  Kirumi urged.

“Alright, then let’s go, everyone!”  Kaede directed.  “Let’s get all the fire escapes on this floor and gather them in the gym!”

“Yay!  We’re going home!”  Kiki cried as she and the others raced out of the gym, leaving Kaede and Shuichi alone.

As Kaede sweatdropped, Shuichi chuckled.  “She seems to have cheered up.”

“You can say that again!”  Kaede giggled in amusement.  “I can’t exactly blame her, though.  We finally found a way out; I’d be ecstatic too!”  She turned to face Shuichi, grinning as she exclaimed, “Well, let’s not just sit here and let them do all the hard work.  Let’s go grab a fire escape!”

Shuichi smiled and nodded, following the jubilant pianist out of the gymnasium.

“Alright!”  Koto and Kiri cheered.  “Kiki’s coming home!”

As the twins high-fived each other, Makoto and Kyoko, being veteran survivors of killing games, couldn’t help but frown.  “…It’s not going to be that easy…”  Kyoko admitted.

Makoto nodded in reluctant agreement with his wife.  “No, and it’s just like Monokuma to give us a piece of hope, only to tear it away the moment we reach for it.”

Maki nodded and gestured to the three children in front of the TV screen before she muttered under her breath, “So…should we tell them this plan is likely to fail?”

Makoto sighed and shook his head.  “No…I don’t have it in me to break their hearts.”

Kyoko nodded, her eyes softening from their excited smiles.  “They look so happy right now at the thought of their big sister coming home…Kami forbid I take that away from them.”

Maki nodded as they turned their attention back to the screen, praying that the new plan really did work out.

“Kaede, I grabbed this one from the classroom we woke up in!”

Kaede turned around and smiled at the hopeful, jubilant grin on Kiki’s face.  “Good job!  Glad to see you’re so excited about this.”

“Well, how could I not be?  I mean…we’re finally gonna get to go home!  No killing, no suspecting each other, just the sweet freedom of the outside world!  Then I can find my family and recover my missing memories!”

Kaede’s eyes softened as Kiki rattled on about her plans for after they escaped.  Of course I miss my family too, but she has so much more riding on this…her memories, her identity…alright, I promise, I’m gonna make sure you make it out of this, Kiki!  Kaede vowed with a determined light shining in her eyes.

“So…what do I do with this ladder thing?” 

Kiki’s question shook Kaede out of her thoughts.  “Oh, just bring it over to Keebo.” She pointed at the robot who was currently welding two pieces of ladder together with his finger.

Kiki nodded and ran over to Keebo excitedly.  Kaede smiled as she glanced around the gymnasium, watching the others chat excitedly in little cliques.

“Looks like you’ve started up quite the operation here, huh?”

“Oh, hey Shuichi.”  Kaede smiled at the young detective as she confirmed, “Yeah, all we needed was a little motivation and a plan. We’re gonna get out of here without falling into Monokuma’s trap!”

“I hope so.”  Shuichi nodded before he apologized “Ah, sorry, didn’t mean to sound negative or anything.  I’m just…cautious by nature, that’s all.”

Kaede hummed before she asked quietly, “Hey, Shuichi?”


Suddenly bashful, the pianist clasped her hands behind her.  “Do you think…we might have met before?”

Just as bashful, Shuichi averted his gaze.  “Ano…what’s bringing this on?”

“Well, a couple of the others have admitted to memory loss, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Monokuma made us forget meeting each other.  Plus…”  Kaede blushed as she admitted “When I saw you fall out of that locker…I thought you looked familiar, but I couldn’t place my finger on it.”

“Ah, I think I get what you mean.”  Shuichi smiled bashfully.  “I…think I felt like you were familiar too…I just didn’t think about it because I was panicking…”

“So what do you think we were?  Classmates, friends?  Maybe I was a Watson to your Holmes.”

“Now that would be a sight!”  Shuichi laughed.  “No, I don’t think the last one is true.  I’m still in training, so I wouldn’t be able to teach anyone.  Plus, why would a pianist suddenly decide to start investigating cases?”

“Yeah, I guess you have a point.  Sorry, guess I got carried away.”  Kaede shook the thought away.  “Anyway, we can figure out how we knew each other once we get out of here.  Right now, we have to focus on the plan.”

“Ah, well, why don’t we go talk to Keebo?  This was his idea after all.”

“Good idea, Shuichi.”  The two of them walked over to the robot before the pianist greeted “Hey, Keebo.”

Keebo looked up from his conversation with Kiki, greeting “Ah, Kaede.  We’re making great progress on the ladder plan.  The idea is that I’m welding each group of ladders together, so that they’re just long enough to be carried by one person.  Then, once we decide where we’re going to descend from, we can bring them all to that location and I’ll continue welding them there.”

“Ah, great idea, but where should our point of exit be?”  Kaede pondered.  “It would have to be somewhere big enough to fit all of us, as well as the ladders.”

“Hm, let’s see…”  Shuichi hummed as he loaded up the map on his e-Handbook.  “It looks like our best bet is in the Dining Hall in the dormitories.”

“We’d have to push the tables aside to make room, but yes, that is a sound plan for the moment.”  The others turned to see Kirumi, carrying a plate of sandwiches as she approached.  “My apologies, but I was bringing sandwiches to everyone, and I couldn’t help but overhear.”  Kirumi apologized.  “In any case, permit me to move the furniture to maximize our available space.”

“Oh, okay, if that’s what you wanna do, then sure.”

“Thank you.  Here, take these sandwiches I made.  Now, if you’ll excuse me.” 

After handing the tray to Kaede, Kirumi curtsied and walked out of the gymnasium.

“She’s certainly…helpful.”  Kaede mused.

“Yeah, but in these circumstances, she might be exactly what we need.”  Shuichi admitted “Besides, I am feeling hungry, and these sandwiches do look well made.  What do you say, Kiki?  Should we…Kiki?”

To their surprise, the amnesiac girl was already scarfing down a sandwich, gushing “Mm!  This is so good!”

Kaede and Shuichi sweatdropped before smiling in amusement at Kiki’s enthusiastic appetite, crumbs already sticking to her shirt.

“Looks like someone was hungry.”  Kaede teased.

“Can you blame me?!”  Kiki replied between bites.  “I haven’t had anything to eat since I woke up in that locker!”

Yeah, I can’t blame you…I’m hungry too.  “Alright, let’s enjoy this little lunch Kirumi made.”  She decided as she and Shuichi each took a sandwich.


“…I guess…Nee-chan’s feeling better…”  Mokubo commented as he smiled at his sister’s familiar appetite.

“Yeah, it’s good to see her eating so energetically again.”  Makoto agreed with his eldest son before Kyoko nodded.

“Indeed, it’s good to see she’s found some amount of happiness in that terrible situation.”

“It looks like they’re just about to start carrying those ladders to the dining hall.”  Maki pointed out, causing the conversation to cease as they turned their attention to the screen.

Chapter Text

Kaede threw the doors open, allowing Kiki, Seven, Gonta, Kirumi, and Rantaro to each carry in a ladder.

“Alright, place them side-by-side so Keebo can begin welding them.”  Kaede directed before all five of them placed their ladders on the floor and returned to the group.  “Alright Keebo, you’re up.”

“Just leave it to me!”

As Keebo walked to the row of ladders and got to work, Shuichi suggested “We should probably pick someone to test out the ladder once we suspend it from the window, to make sure it works.”

“I’ll go!”  Everyone turned to Kiki as she admitted, “I…I want to help!  So…if I can ensure our escape by helping to test the ladder plan…I’ll do it!”

Kaede nodded and agreed, “Thanks, Kiki.  Alright, we should probably find something to anchor the ladder to the window, so it doesn’t fall when one of us climbs down.”

“Might I suggest we use some rope from the warehouse to tie it to a nearby table?”  Ace suggested.  “The table should be heavy enough to not buckle under the weight of a young girl like Kiki.”

“Ah, I see.  I’ll go and grab some, then.”  Lotus volunteered.  “I’ll be right back.”

With that, Lotus walked out of the room, leaving the others waiting as Keebo continued welding the ladder pieces together.  Kaede glanced at Kiki, who was genuinely smiling, though the pianist couldn’t help but frown at the nervousness in her heterochromatic eyes.

“Kiki…are you nervous?  It’s okay to let someone else go if you’re scared.”

“Oh, no, it’s okay.  Of course I’m a little anxious, but I have to do this.”

“In that case, have no fear.”  Kiki jumped in surprise as Snake laid a comforting hand on her shoulder and smiled warmly at her. “None of us will let you fall, and if everything goes according to plan, we’ll all be out of here and safe at home before we know it.”

“Yeah, listen to my brother!”  Clover insisted.  “He knows what he’s talking about!”

Kiki smiled and nodded, mumbling “Thanks, you guys.”

“Alright, I’ve got the rope!”  Lotus exclaimed as she ran in with two separate pieces of rope.

“And I just finished welding the last piece of the ladder!”  Keebo announced with pride.

“Perfect!”  Kaede exclaimed.  “Alright, Keebo, hang that ladder out the window!  Seven, Gonta, move that table nearby so we can use it as an anchor!  Tsumugi, Kirumi, grab the ropes from Lotus.  Tie them to the table legs and the first rung of the ladder!”

Kaede and the others watched as the six of them instantly got to work.  The pianist smiled as she watched their progress, starting to really feel hope that their impromptu plan was going to succeed.

This is really happening…we’re gonna go home!

Before long the table was a few feet away from the wall.  Two ropes were tied around its legs as they secured the top of the ladder to the outside wall.

“Alright Kiki, you ready?”  Kaede asked as the amnesiac girl approached the ladder.

“Yeah, I’m still a little scared, but I can do this!”  Kiki insisted as she climbed on the windowsill and turned around.

She sighed in relief once her sneaker found the first rung.  Kaede and Shuichi peered smiled down at her, giving her the burst of courage that she needed.

“Don’t worry!”  Kaede assured her.  “Shuichi and I are gonna be watching the ladder in case anything goes wrong.”

“Yeah, we won’t let anything happen to you, Kiki.  Promise.”

Kiki nodded and called back “Thanks, guys.  Alright, here we go.”

Kiki took a deep breath and began to descend, cautiously putting one foot below the other as she climbed down the rung.

“Kiki, how’s it going down there?”

“I’m just fine, Kaede!”  Kiki called back, descending with more confidence the further down she climbed.

Kaede’s heart pounded in her chest with each step Kiki took.  Her initial enthusiasm gradually waned, her lips drooping into an anxious frown.

Was this…really the right thing to do…?  Kiki’s putting her life on the line for us.  What if our idea is wrong?  She could fall to her death, and it’d be all my fault!  Maybe we should…


Shuichi concerned voice brought her out of her worried thoughts.  She turned to stare into Shuichi’s troubled eyes, his lips tugging to match her frown.

“What’s wrong?  Did I…say something I shouldn’t have?”

Kaede smiled and shook her head in reassurance.  “It’s nothing, Shuichi.”  I shouldn’t get worried about this so soon.  If I get pessimistic, then Shuichi will get really pessimistic.  “I was just…lost in thought.”

“Ah, don’t worry.”  Kaede raised an eyebrow in surprise as Shuichi softly smiled at her.  “You’re worried about Kiki, right.  I’m sure she’ll be fine.  Once she gets to the bottom-”


Kiki’s terrified shriek cut off their conversation.  Their eyes widened as they instantly stared down, barely able to make out her distressed face in the distance.

“KIKI?!”  Kaede called back.

“What’s wrong?”  Shuichi asked.

“The ladder, it’s not long enough!  I have to climb back…AAAAAAAAAHHH!”

“Oh no, Kaede, the ropes!”  Shuichi warned as the ropes around the table legs began to unravel.  “The knots must not be strong enough to support her weight from that length.”

“Gonta, Seven, grab onto the ropes and pull!”  Kaede ordered as the ropes unraveled, causing the ladder to slip.

“EEEK!  HELP MEEE!”  Kiki screamed as the ladder swayed in the wind, now without any anchor to support it.

“Move!  Gonta will save Kiki!”

“Out of the way!”

Gonta and Seven barreled past the others and pulled on the ropes, raising the ladder until Kaede and Shuichi could grip the top rung.

“Kiki, it’s okay, just climb back up!”  Kaede called as the panicking Kiki scrambled up the ladder in a panic. 

Eventually, she reached the top, allowing Kaede and Shuichi to grab her hands and pull her back through the windowsill.  As Kiki hyperventilated on her hands and knees, Gonta yanked the ladder through the windowsill.  The structure practically flew across the room, only stopping when it clanged against the top of the nearby table.

“Kiki, are you okay?”  Kaede asked, worried about the shaking girl as her eyes began to water.


Kiki enveloped the pianist in a fearful hug.  She rested her head Kaede’s shoulder as she let the tears flow. 

“I was so scared!  I thought I was gonna die, flat as a pancake!”

Kaede glanced around, seeing discouraged expressions on everyone’s faces as they watched the sobbing girl.  Letting out an equally discouraged sigh, she reached up and rubbed Kiki’s back.

“Kiki, it’s okay, you’re not in any danger now, you’re safe.”


Kiki lifted her head as she and the others turned to see Monokuma standing among them.  The sadistic bear grinned in malicious satisfaction at the despair permeating the atmosphere.

“Geez, this is quite the pity party you sadsacks are throwing for yourselves!”

“M…Monokuma!?”  Kaede stammered.

“Tch…so you finally crawled out of your hole.” Lotus deduced “I guess you noticed what we were up to.”

“…Noticed?”  Monokuma cocked his head in curiosity before he revealed, “I’ve known for a while that you guys would botch whatever escape plan you had.”

“What?”  Kaede gasped in horror.  You mean he knew what we were planning…and let us try it anyway?!

“If you knew all along, then this was just a trap.”  Sokyu concluded as he tossed his ring in the air.

“Then there was no exit!  You tricked us!”  Clover screeched.

“Puhuhu.”  Monokuma giggled.  “Well, who can say?  If at first you don’t succeed…try, try again.  Try as many times as you want until you accept reality!  Ah-hahahaha!”

They watched as Monokuma smugly walked out of the room.  His red eye taunted them over his shoulder until he finally disappeared from view.

“So…is there an escape at all…?”  Kiki whimpered against Kaede’s vest.

“Of course there is-isn’t, you little moron!”  Teruaki spat.  “He’d be fr-freakin’ out if we could actually re-reach it!”

“That’s probably why he let us try.”  Ryoma explained.  “He wanted us to try scaling the building so we’d learn that escape is impossible.”

Rantaro nodded, deducing “Instead of blocking off every exit completely, he leaves that little bit of hope…He wants us to be desperate to go home.  Corner us mentally.”


Everyone turned towards Kiki, whose fists clenched against Kaede’s closed.  Her teeth pressed against her lip, threatening to draw blood.  Her petite frame shook in Kaede’s arms until at last, Kiki burst into agonized wails.  


“That’s just rotten…”  Tsumugi summarized as they watched Kaede try to console the distraught amnesiac.

“Kiki, listen, so what if this plan was a flop?  Right, you guys?”  She turned her head, staring pleadingly at the others.  “I mean, we’ve only failed once, y’know?  We can’t give up this early, right?  I’m sure if we come up with another idea…”

“…Knock it off already.”

“Huh?”  Kaede gasped at Sokyu’s retort.

“If you have a plan, feel free to try it yourself, but forcing us to come up with a plan for you is basically torture.”


“You know what really hurts?  Being denied the right to give up in an impossible situation…”  Sokyu narrowed his eyes and lectured, “You won’t let us give up and no matter what we say, you have the moral high ground…That…doesn’t sound like torture to you?  When you say we can’t give up, you’re not inspiring us; you’re strong-arming us!”

“I…I didn’t mean it like that…”  Kaede tried to explain, tears of pain trickling down her cheek.

“Whether you meant it or not is irrelevant.  The others feel the same way, too…”

“What?”  Kaede gasped as she looked around at the others.

Sure enough, everyone was hanging their heads in despair, muttering refusals to Kaede’s plea for them to keep trying to escape.


“My spirit…is nearly broken.”  Snake admitted.  “Even if I had my sight, I couldn’t see the point of trying a futile escape plan.”

“If my brother says no, then I won’t try to escape either!”  Clover agreed.

“Given the circumstance…the most logical course of action would be to give up…”  Keebo reluctantly admitted.

“Yeah…I feel like Hisashi Mitsui in the second half of a basketball game.”  Tsumugi confessed.

“I knew this was im-impossible from the start.”  Teruaki stammered.

“I must admit, this was a waste of our precious time and energy.”  Ace concurred.

“P…Please, wait!”  Gonta objected in a panic.  “We…can’t give up!”

“Guys!  Are you really okay with not getting out of this place!?”  Kaede challenged in one last bid to convince them.

“Geez.”  Ryoma sighed.  “We fell apart pretty quick for a group that decided to be friends and work together.”

“…I…can’t take it…”

“Kiki…”  Kaede quietly gasped as she looked down at the girl in her arms.

“I can’t…take another failed plan…especially not one that gets me killed…”

“Kiki…”  No more…  Kaede sighed, tightening her grip on the distraught girl as she apologized “I’m sorry…this is my fault.  I’m so sorry…”

“No, Kaede…”  Shuichi tried to assure the pianist.

*Ding Dong Bing Bong*

A sound not unlike a school bell echoed, causing everyone to turn their attention to a monitor hanging from the ceiling.  Once the static cleared, Monokuma appeared on the screen, his high-pitched voice seeming to taunt everyone.

“This is an official announcement from Kibou University.  It is now 10 p.m.  Soon the doors to the Dining Hall will be locked, and entry at that point is strictly prohibited.  Okay then, sweet dreams, everyone.  Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite!”

The monitor completely shut off along with the lights in the Dining Hall.

“We should…head to our rooms before we’re locked in here for the night.”  Kirumi suggested.

“Yeah, let’s…regroup here when we come for breakfast.  Since the dining hall opens at 8 a.m., how about we meet there at that time?”  Kaede suggested.

“Sure, I think that’ll work.  I’m okay with that.”  Rantaro agreed.

“Can we go to our rooms now?”  Sokyu asked impatiently, slipping on his ring.

Kirumi concurred with a nod.  “Yes, we should get as much rest as we can and regain our strength.”

“Hey, guys?  Just…as a warning…”  Rantaro began hesitantly.  “We shouldn’t let our guards down.  We’ll be easy targets at night.”

“C…Cuz of killing game, you mean?”  Gonta fretted, causing Kiki to whimper.

“I see no need to worry about something as illogical as murder taking place here.”  Keebo assured them.

“I know, I know.  Just a warning.” 

Rantaro sighed, causing the others to mumble and nod in agreement.  Kaede, Kiki, and Shuichi watched as the others left through the Dining Hall’s exit, somber looks on their faces as they wallowed in despair.

“Ano, Kaede?”  Shuichi began hesitantly.  “I don’t think you need to worry about what Sokyu said.  You weren’t pressuring us.  At least, I don’t think so.”

“Yeah…thanks, Shuichi.”  Kaede replied gratefully, though she still couldn’t bring herself to smile.  “But I’m exhausted.  Let’s just go back to our rooms and rest.”

“…Right.  Well…see you tomorrow.”  Shuichi told her before he walked out of the Dining Hall.

Without another word, Kaede helped Kiki to her feet.  The two girls awkwardly followed Shuichi to their rooms.

“Kiki…our baby…”  Kyoko muttered as she held her hand over her heart.

“I’m just glad she’s alive.”  Makoto breathed in relief.

“Yes, but she’s wallowing in despair, Makoto!”  Kyoko countered.  “She was crying about how she just wanted to go home.  She deserved better than what happened to us, Makoto.”

Her husband nodded in agreement.  “Yeah, no argument there.  I’m just glad she’s still alive to fight another day.”  He then glanced down at his disappointed children and told them, “Moku, Koto, Kiri?”  As they all turned to glance at him, Makoto smiled and assured his children, “This is just a roadblock, okay?  Your sister’s gonna be fine.  She just needs to believe in herself and her new friends.  But most importantly, she needs your love and support.”

“Yeah!”  Koto exclaimed before his sister nodded in agreement.

“Don’t worry, Kiki can count on us!”  The reinvigorated girl declared.

“Let’s just hope she doesn’t give up.”  Mokubo commented before his father looked at the clock.

“Alright, it’s past your bedtimes.  Maki, can you make sure they each go to sleep?”

As the three of them groaned, Maki stood up.  “Alright you three, follow me.”

The three children reluctantly followed their informal babysitter before the two parents sighed.  They focused on the screen as they watched Kaede lead Kiki to their rooms.

Thank Kami our rooms are right next to each other…  She thought with relief before she asked, “Alright Kiki, here’s your room.  Are you alright to head in by yourself?”

Kiki nodded glumly, slithering out of Kaede’s grasp.  Once she turned the key in the lock and pulled the door open, she lumbered inside.  Without another word, she closed the door behind her, leaving Kaede alone in the dark hallway.

Kaede sighed as she decided, “Well, I’d better check out my room, too.”

She turned the key and pulled open the door.  She pulled it out of the lock and walked inside, closing the door behind her.

So this is my room…  Kaede mused as she took in the grey walls surrounding her.  Well, it’s not too shabby…  She admitted as she took note of the red bed, grey desk, red chairs and table, and the grey entertainment center.  Is this a closet?  She wondered as she observed a similarly grey set of double doors.  I guess I’ll take a look inside, just to be safe.

Kaede gasped as multiple exact duplicates of her shirts, vests, and nightgowns hung from the bar that extended from one side to the other.  Sitting below them on the floor were several pairs of her brown sneakers.  She looked up at the shelf above her and saw multiple stacks of her skirts, ties, socks, bras, and panties folded on the surface.

“Huh?  What is this?”  She exclaimed. Did he…prepare all these?  He prepared everything just to keep us trapped here…but why?

Closing the closet door, she turned around.  Her eyes widened, sparkling with a momentary burst of glee at the familiar instrument.

“Oh, a piano!”  She exclaimed as she ran up to it, beaming in joy.  “It’s a pretty basic model, but at least I can play the piano when I’m alone in here!  Oh, and there’s even several sheets of music to practice!”

Kaede closed her eyes and calmed down.  She forced away her enthusiasm for the piano, reminding herself how strange it was that Monokuma’s operator had gone so far as to prepare a piano for her.

“…I need a shower…”  She decided as she went back to her closet. 

She took a nightgown from it before she shut the door and glanced at another grey door right next to the red entrance.

“Yep, it’s a shower room…”  She observed as she peeked into the white tiled room.   It contained a toilet, sink, and shower stall with a bottle of shampoo, pouf, and a body wash bottle ready.

Without another word, she slipped inside, closing the door behind her.  Now in complete privacy, she began to disrobe as she turned the water on.

As soon as Kaede’s nightgown-garbed body settled under the covers, she seemed to freeze.  Now that she was on the verge of sleep, the weight of the day’s traumatic events collapsed on her at once.

After everything that had happened…I forgot just how physically and mentally exhausted I was…I thought we would achieve our goal as long as we didn’t give up.  That had always been my mentality whenever I practiced the piano…But…maybe playing piano is easier…because I’m blessed…with that talent.

Kiki’s distraught sobs echoed in her mind as her wails threatened to pierce the pianist’s ears.  Kaede’s lip quivered, the young girl clenching her fist in self-loathing.

“Kiki…my recklessness almost got you killed.  I…I won’t put you through something like that again, I promise.”

With that last vow, Kaede closed her eyes and finally allowed slumber to take her.  With Chopin’s Prelude playing in her head, she fell into a deep sleep.

“Well…I don’t think we’ll gain anything more by watching the television tonight…”  Makoto told his wife.  “Why don’t we head to bed for now and pick this up in the morning?”

Kyoko nodded and was about to get up before the TV signal changed.

“Look.”  She told him as she pointed at the screen.

Makoto nodded, gazing at the image of Monokuma on a theatre stage.


“It’s similar to those intermissions we had to watch between days in the Killing School Trip…”  Kyoko recalled.

Makoto nodded as the memories of his derailed plan came flooding back.  He shook them away as Monokuma began to do his routine.

“Congratulations to the new students of Kibou University!  The weeds here have grown thick with joy, as if celebrating your entrance into this school.  Seeing your anxious eyes shine with murderous intent makes me oh-so-happy.  If you ever feel lost, don’t be shy!  Talk to your friends or a teacher.  Let’s all get along.  And…let’s do lots of killing, too!  I pray for the physical and mental well-being of this new killing school semester…I mean…I pray for the well-being of you students.  Yes, that will do…”

“…I’ll never get used to hearing that bear talk…”  Makoto admitted, causing his wife to nod in agreement. 

As they stood up, he took his wife’s hand.  Though it took considerable effort on his part, he mustered the strength to give her a strong smile. 

“Let’s try to get a good night’s rest.  I know you’re worried about Kiki.  I’m worried too, but we won’t be able to do anything by depriving ourselves of sleep.”

Kyoko reluctantly nodded, allowing her husband to lead her to their room.  They would both need the comfort of each other’s love tonight as they tried to cope with the most heart-wrenching trial of their lives: watching helplessly as their daughter lived out their worst nightmare.

Chapter Text

*Ding Dong, Bing Bong*

Kaede roused from her slumber to the sight of Monokuma, his still image grinning at her as it sat behind a desk.  “Good morning everyone!  It is now eight a.m., and nighttime is officially over!  Time to rise and shine!  Get ready to great another beeeautiful day!”

Kaede groaned as she rubbed the sleep out of her eye, mumbling “Great, that obnoxious bear’s my alarm clock too!”  She sighed before she clapped, dispelling her remaining drowsiness.  “Well, no use moping about it.  I need to get dressed and meet up with the others.”

With that, Kaede swung her legs over the side of the bed and stood up.  She stretched her arms up towards the ceiling and yawned.  Now alert, she began something akin to a normal routine.

Now dressed in a duplicate outfit from yesterday, Kaede walked out of her room.  She closed the door behind her before someone bumped into her.

“Oof, watch where you’re go…oh, Kiki…”  She trailed off as Kiki stood there nervously.  Kaede smiled bashfully, apologizing “Sorry, I didn’t see you there.”  Bakamatsu!  Our rooms are right next to each other; we’re the most likely to bump into each other.

“G…Gomen, Kaede.”  Kiri replied nervously, looking down at her sneakers.

Kaede frowned as she noted Kiki’s slightly unkempt hair and missing braid.  “Kiki, are you alright?  You don’t look like you slept well.”

Kiki sighed and admitted, “Yeah…I kept tossing and turning.  I couldn’t get Rantaro’s warning out of my head…and even when I could sleep, I…had nightmares…”

Kaede grimaced at Kiki’s explanation, feeling sorry for the girl. She felt her own guilt begin to bubble, lamenting It’s partially my fault she’s so jittery…I need to apologize.  “Hey, Kiki?”  As the girl hummed in recognition, Kaede apologized, “About the other day…I’m sorry about what happened…what I did anyway.  I shouldn’t have put you at risk like that.”

“Oh…it’s not your fault, Kaede.”  Kiki tried to reassure the pianist.  “I mean…I volunteered, so…”

Kaede shook her head as she interrupted, “But I could have said I’d do it myself instead of asking for volunteers.  You didn’t have to be the guinea pig, Kiki.  That’s on me, so…I’m sorry.”

A tense silence passed between them, making Kaede wonder if Kiki would forgive her.  At last she felt a timid hand grasp her own.  Surprised, she looked at Kiki’s smiling face, the girl seeming to have regained her color from the other day.

“Apology accepted, Kaede.  I really appreciate it, even if I think you’re being too hard on yourself.”

Kaede beamed, nodding as she told the amnesiac girl, “Glad to see a smile on your face again.”  I promise, I won’t put you in danger like that again!  From now on, if anyone has to take risks to get us out of here, it’ll be me!

Kaede’s thoughts were interrupted by Kiki’s growling stomach.  Embarrassed, her cheeks flushed pink before both girls giggled.

“C’mon, let’s go meet up with the others for breakfast.”

“Okay!”  Kiki agreed as the two friends began to walk together.

“I wonder if Kirumi will cook anything for breakfast.”  Kiki pondered.  “Her sandwiches were delicious!”

“Maybe if you ask nicely!”  Kaede giggled.

“Man, Kaede felt really guilty about Kiki’s brush with death, huh?  Ow!  Dad, Kiri hit me!”

Tattletail…  Kiri thought with a scowl.  Meanwhile, Koto groaned, nursing the lump on his head as Kiri chided, “Of course she did, dimwit!  Her dumb plan almost got Kiki killed!”

“Kiri, don’t call your brother names, and don’t hit him either.”  Makoto scolded gently, causing his youngest daughter to pout.  Once the two twins reluctantly settled down, the frustrated father lamented “I’m just glad Kiki’s not in total despair anymore.”

Kyoko nodded in agreement with her husband, concurring “Indeed, seeing her with such an uncharacteristically depressed look in her eyes was difficult to watch.”

“They’re about to enter the Dining Hall.”  Mokubo pointed out.

“Oh, everyone’s here already.”  Kaede observed as they arrived in the Dining Hall.

Everyone glanced at them as they approached the table, taking their seats next to Shuichi.

“Now…all of us have arrived.”  Ace observed with a hint of relief in his aged voice.  “It looks as though there were no victims.”

“But of course!”  Keebo exclaimed.

“…Listen, everyone.”  Everyone turned their heads towards Kaede as she apologized, “About yesterday…I should’ve been more considerate of everyone’s feelings.  I was too focused on the escape plan…So, I’m sorry.”

Sokyu nodded in apparent acceptance before he spoke quietly.  “As long as you’ve learned your lesson…”

Shuichi bit his lip, holding his tongue as his eyes crossed in hesitation.

Kaede frowned but let the matter drop.  “Let’s just forget about it and discuss something else.  Okay?  Let’s all think about ways to get out of here.”

“One problem with that, though.”  Ryoma pointed out “We searched the entire floor already, and that open window was the only means of escape revealed to us.”

“I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly fancy testing my luck as a skydiver.”  Lotus commented, crossing her arms over her breasts.

“So…what does that leave us with?”  Tsumugi asked.  “We have a map, but no compass, and no dungeon keys.”

“The answer is simply to wait, of course.”

Everyone turned towards Snake with incredulous expressions as Seven questioned, “Whoa, what do you mean, just wait?”

“Yeah!”  Teruaki stammered “Are you suggesting we just get used to li…living here fo…forever…?”

“That’s not it!”  Clover fiercely interjected.  “My brother has a plan!”  She looked to him hopefully and asked, “You do have a plan…right…?”

“Well…”  Snake sighed “Not a plan, per se, merely an idea for how we should play Monokuma’s game.”

“Gonta doesn’t want to play Monokuma’s game!”  Gonta fiercely objected, clenching his fists.  “Gonta won’t kill people!  That’s not gentlemanly at all!”

“I’m not referring to his killing game, Gonta.”  Snake sighed.  “Let me explain.  Our search the other day proved fruitless, barring the open windows, which are too high off the ground for us to escape from.  But as we said before, there must be an exit somewhere, or we couldn’t have been trapped in here.”

“Yeah, but the other floors are blocked off.”  Kiki pointed out.

“Precisely why I said we should wait.”  Snake explained “We just need to bide our time.  Eventually, Monokuma, or whoever is controlling him will slip up.  When that happens, if we play our cards right, we can capitalize on their misfortune and escape.”

“I see…so you’re saying this is like one big game of chicken?”  Shuichi asked.

“Precisely.  As long as we keep our heads and resist whatever temptations Monokuma lays out for us, we can outlast him.  And as long as we still have our rooms to sleep in and a supply of food to eat, we should be able to avoid becoming desperate enough to kill.”

“That should not be a problem.”  Everyone turned to Kirumi who explained, “When I arrived first at the Dining Hall, I went into the kitchen.  All the food I used yesterday to make everyone’s sandwiches had been restocked.  I think it occurred when we were all asleep.”

“Oh, so you think that’s why the Dining Hall is closed during nighttime?”

Kirumi nodded at Kaede and answered, “Precisely.”

“Well…as long as we won’t starve to death, I guess this is probably our best strategy for now.”  Kaede admitted.

“Excellent.”  Snake smiled before he suggested “Now, with that subject out of the way, perhaps now would be a good time to actually eat?”

“Allow me.”  Kirumi offered as she stood up.  “Just tell me what you’d like, and I shall make it for you.  The Kitchen has enough varieties of food that I can accommodate almost any of your requests.”

“Chocolate chip pancakes for me!”  Kiki requested excitedly.  “With syrup and bacon!”

You didn’t waste any time, did you?  Kaede thought, sweatdropping before the Dining Hall erupted into a chorus of meal requests.


“Miso Soup!”


“Pickled vegetables!”

Kaede smiled in amusement as she joined in.  “I’ll have some natto and green tea, please!”

“Very well, just give me some time to fulfill your requests.”  Kirumi replied politely.  With a courteous bow, she walked into the kitchen, leaving the other fifteen participants waiting for their food.

“…Biding their time…”

“At this point, that’s unfortunately all they can do, Moku.”  Makoto told his eldest son.  “They don’t have a realistic way out yet, at least not one that they’d survive, so all they can do is wait for help to arrive.”

“Indeed, though I don’t know how long they’ll be able to stay united.”  Kyoko admitted with a reluctant frown.  “Monokuma’s always been able to break up the group before.  The question is when, not if.”

Makoto nodded, recalling the video motive from the Killing School Life.  “We just have to hope whatever detective is on the case finds them before that happens.”

The others nodded as they refocused their attention on the TV.  They watched as their daughter dug in voraciously into her pancakes, taking solace in the rare moment of normalcy.



They looked up from their desk, numerous papers spread messily over their desk as an officer stood before them.

“We caught some landmarks from last night’s footage.  It’s difficult to discern them since there’s not much light, but we’re working to clarify the screenshots.”

“Good, get them on my desk as soon as they’re ready.”

“Hai!”  The officer saluted before they left, leaving the detective alone to finish their work.

Kaede sighed as she played the last note on her piano.  Once they had finished eating breakfast, everyone went their separate ways.  the pianist opted to play the piano in her room so she could think.

“Biding our time…Snake’s right.  We have no choice but to hold out until an opportunity presents itself.  But…what should I do until then…?”

She smiled softly as she stood up and clapped her hands.

“Well, I won’t be any use just sitting in my room and playing piano all day.  Maybe I should spend some time bonding with the others.  But who…?”  Kiki’s unkempt appearance from earlier flashed in her mind.  “Alright, I’ll spend some time with Kiki!  And I know just what to do!”

*Ding Dong*

Kaede waited after ringing the doorbell, tapping her foot impatiently.  At last, Kiki’s door opened, revealing the confused girl.

“Kaede?  What are you doing here?”

“Oh, I just thought it would be good to have some girl time together.  We gotta do something while we wait, right?”

Kiki blinked, then nodded as she admitted, “Yeah…I guess so…so what did you have in mind?”

“Well, I noticed your hair’s still a little messy, and you haven’t tied it in your usual braid.”

“Oh, yeah…I just was too stressed out to get my hair ready.”  Kiki admitted, causing Kaede to nod in understanding.

The grinning Kaede offered “Well, why don’t we take care of that?  I could brush your hair in my room, and you can teach me how to tie that braid of yours!”

Kiki sweatdropped before she hesitantly nodded.  “Well…I guess…that would be alright…”

“Okay!  Follow me!”  Kaede exclaimed as she turned and walked towards her room, leaving a stunned Kiki to follow after her.

Free Time Event # 1: Kaede & Kiki!

“Ah, that feels nice…”  Kiki sighed as she relaxed on Kaede’s bed, feeling the teeth of Kaede’s hairbrush tickle her scalp.

Kaede smiled as she continued to brush Kiki’s brown locks.  Her previously unkempt hair grew smoother and silkier with each brush.

“See, doesn’t this feel better, having your hair taken care of?”

“Yeah, it does…thanks for doing this, Kaede.”

“No worries, I’m happy to help you with this.”  With one last brush, she set the hairbrush down and asked, “Now, how do I tie that braid?”

Kiki held out a simple, black ribbon and told her, “Just take two small locks of hair on the right side of my head and twist them together, like a helix.”

“Got it, like a helix!”  Kaede replied excitedly as she gently took two strands of hair in her fingers.  “Let me know if I’m pulling too hard, okay?”

“Yeah, you’re doing fine, though.”  Kiki assured Kaede as she twisted the two strands together.  “Alright, now just pinch it near the top and tie the bottom into a knot.”

Kaede nodded as she followed Kiki’s commands.  She awkwardly tied the bottom of the strands while her other hand the top of the braid.

“Good, now take this ribbon and tie it in a bow where your fingers are pinching.”

“Okay!”  Kaede agreed as she took the bow and tied it around the tip of the braid.  “And…done!”  She exclaimed giddily as she stood up, admiring Kiki.  “Wow, you look really pretty, Kiki!”

“Thanks…you do too…”  Kiki replied bashfully, her cheeks flushed rose from embarrassment.

Kaede giggled in amusement before she sat back down next to Kiki.  A comfortable silence passed as the two girls smiled at each other.

“Hey, I was wondering something.”  Kiki turned to her with a curious expression.  “You were talking a little bit about your family the other day…do you remember anything more?  About your family, I mean?”

Kiki sighed, taking a deep breath before she admitted, “If you’re asking about names or faces, no, I don’t.  But…”  Kiki’s eyes narrowed in determination.  “I know they’re important to me.  I might not be able to remember who they are, but I know I love them more than anything.” 

“I’m sure your family’s really lucky to have you.”  Kaede smiled at Kiki’s obvious love for her family.  “If there’s anything I can do to help you remember, I’ll gladly do so.”

“You…”  Kiki’s eyes glowed with awe at the pianist’s kindness.  “You’d do that for me…?”

“Of course I would, no questions asked!”  Kaede nodded solemnly, in contrast with her energetic voice.  “Even if I can’t think of anything right now, I promise I’ll do what I can to help you remember.”

“Thanks, Kaede…you have no idea how much that means to me…”  Kiki sighed, fiddling with her newly tied braid.  “I feel like…I can imagine them, but my imagination isn’t enough.  I need to see them again.  My parents, my siblings, my dog…”

“You don’t remember who they are, but you remember that you have siblings and a dog?”  Kaede giggled as Kiki smiled wryly.

“Well, it’s just a feeling, really.  Like…an instinct.  I can’t prove that I do, but I feel like I do…and right now, I have to trust my gut.  Maybe it’s just how I’m imagining them, but without my memories, imagination is all I have.”

Kaede smiled as she patted Kiki on the back and assured her, “Well, I have a feeling you’ll remember them soon!  Just give them time, and eventually, you’ll get to see them again and tell them how much you love them!”

“…Thanks, Kaede.  You’re a great friend.”

Kaede grinned, pleased by the compliment as she thought, I really feel like Kiki and I have gotten closer…

Two beeps emitted from the bed, startling them out of the moment.  “Our e-Handbooks!”  They exclaimed as they grabbed their new tablets.  

They searched through the interface, scanning the screens for anything new.  Their fingers danced across the screens as they quickly tapped on one of the apps. 

“Character Report…Friendship Fragments?!”  They exclaimed in surprise as they each noted a glowing shard icon next to the other’s pictures.

“…Maybe it’s glowing like that because it could tell we bonded…?”  Kaede hesitantly offered.

“…This is weird.”  Kiki concluded.

“This whole thing is weird!”  Kaede told her, causing both of them to giggle.

*Ding Dong*

The sound of Kaede’s doorbell interrupted their giggles, causing them to stare curiously at the door.

“You invite anyone over?”  Kiki asked before Kaede shook her head.

“No, just you.”  Her brow furrowed in confusion as she pondered, “I wonder who’s looking for me…well, only one way to find out.”

She got up and walked over to the door.  After a moment of hesition, she opened it, revealing Shuichi standing outside.

“Oh, Shuichi!”  Kaede greeted in surprise.

“Kaede…and Kiki!”  Shuichi greeted as Kiki awkwardly waved at him.  “You look better than you did this morning…I’m glad.”

Kiki got up from the bed and walked over to them as Kaede asked, “Is there something we can help you with, Shuichi?”

“There’s something I have to tell you both.”  Shuichi explained.  “Will you come to the library with me?”

The library?  Kaede wondered curiously.  What’s gotten Shuichi all of a sudden?  She turned to Kiki and asked, “What do you think, Kiki?”

“Well…I don’t really see the harm in it.  It’s just the library, right?”

Kaede nodded before she agreed, “Alright, lead the way, Shuichi!”

Shuichi nodded gratefully as he turned around and walked away.  The pianist closed the door before she and Kiki followed the detective to the library.

“The library?”  Kiri wondered.

“Why would Shuichi want to take Kiki and Kaede there?”  Her brother asked, confused.

“Teruaki didn’t investigate it properly.”  Koto and Kiri turned to look at their big brother as he explained, “Shuichi’s a detective, so he probably found something that Teruaki didn’t.”

“Excellent deduction, Mokubo.”  Kyoko complimented with a small smile, causing the twins to nod in comprehension.

“Hopefully whatever he found will present them with the opportunity to escape.”  Makoto commented hopefully, though deep down he had a feeling it wouldn’t be that easy.

“Let’s keep watching and find out.”  Maki suggested as they returned their gazes to the television screen.

This place is filled with musty old books!  Kaede realized as she and Kiki glanced around at the piles of books covering the floor.  This library definitely feels cluttered.  How did Shuichi find anything in here?!

“Okay…”  Shuichi began, causing the girls to shift their attention towards him.  “Before I say anything else, I want you to promise me you’ll keep this secret.”

Kaede and Kiki turned to each other, their brows furrowed in confused curiosity.  Why would Shuichi want to keep something secret from everyone except us?  Whatever it is, it must be important…  The two girls nodded, turning to smile at Shuichi.  “Okay, got it…”

Shuichi’s lips tugged into a relieved smile before he explained, “I remembered that Teruaki said he didn’t put much effort into investigating the library.  So, after breakfast, I decided to conduct my own investigation.”

“Ah, great idea, Shuichi!”  Kiki exclaimed before pouting.  “Man, he should have done more to help instead of whining and complaining!”

Kaede giggled and Shuichi smiled in amusement at Kiki’s cute expression.  “This library has books scattered everywhere.  Even books lying on top of the bookcases.” 

He then turned and walked to a bookcase on the wall on the opposite end of the room.  Kiki and Kaede followed him until he came to a stop.

“But, take a look at this bookcase.  It’s the only one in the library with no books on top.”

Kiki and Kaede looked up curiously before their eyes widened in surprise.  “Oh, that one?  Huh, you’re right…”

“Also, you can see that the floor in front of the bookcase has noticeable markings.”

“You’re right…What is this?”

“This morning, when I came here to investigate, I found this…”

Kaede and Kiki watched as Shuichi gripped the side of the bookcase and grit his teeth.  He groaned as he pulled it aside, revealing a black and white door with an input device to the left.

“Kami…”  Kiki uttered as her and Kaede’s eyes widened.

“Whoa, it moved!?”  Kaede exclaimed.

Shuichi nodded.  “It swings open…Look, there’s a door behind it…”

“So this is what you wanted to show us.”  Kaede and Kiki realized.

“That’s why I wanted you two to come here with me.  There’s something unique about this door.  Take a closer look.”

Kiki and Kaede nodded before they walked up to the door.  They squinted their eyes as they analyzed it for clues.

“The pattern on the hidden door is black and white…just like Monokuma!”  Kiki realized.

“Hey, do you think this door is connected to Monokuma somehow?”  Kaede wondered.

“I think it might.”  Shuichi speculated as he cradled his jaw in his hand.  “But I don’t know anything for sure.”  He gestured to the input device and explained, “This door has a card reader lock, so I can’t open it.”

“You can’t?”  A confused Kaede and Kiki asked.

Shuichi shook his head, his brow furrowed in contemplation.  “But the very fact this door is here makes me consider…a certain possibility.”  Shuichi frowned grimly before he admitted, “There is a chance that one of us here…is cooperating with Monokuma.”

“Huh?”  The two girls asked incredulously.  “Cooperating with Monokuma?”

“W…Wait a minute!”  Kaede demanded “What do you mean by that!?”

“It’s only a hypothesis right now, but…consider this.”  Shuichi elaborated “Why would there be a hidden door here?  If it were solely for Monokuma’s use, he wouldn’t need to hide it.  He could just have it locked and keep it in plain sight.  However…I can think of one reason that the door would be hidden.  For one of us to sneak in and use it, without anyone else noticing.”

“Maybe, but…I can’t believe someone in our group could be working with Monokuma…”  Kaede hesitantly argued as Kiki anxiously bit her lip.

“I can’t believe it either.”  Shuichi admitted, causing the two girls to stare at him.  “That’s why…to confirm my suspicions…I decided to set a little trap on this card reader.”

Shuichi pointed at the card reader, gesturing for the girls to look closer.  They leaned closer to the device, their furrowed brows showing their confusion about Shuichi’s point.

“I sprinkled some dust inside the card reader, so that I could tell if it was used.  Of course, I was careful to make sure the dust wouldn’t come off accidentally.  And I don’t think the person swiping their card would notice or care about a little dust.”

“Wow, that’s really smart, Shuichi!”  Kiki exclaimed in awe.

Kaede smiled and nodded in agreement.  “So if we see dust on the floor, it means one of us used this door, right?”

“Well…as I mentioned before, this is just a hypothesis.  I have no evidence yet…”  Shuichi admitted.  “But…if it is true…Then even if by some miracle, Monokuma gets taken out of the picture, this isn’t going to end.”

The two girls frowned, digesting Shuichi’s hypothesis.  Kaede glanced at Shuichi, whose lips tugged into a grim frown.

“…Anyway, that’s what I had to tell you.  Of course, I don’t expect you to believe me.”  Shuichi admitted with a shaky laugh.  “I just…wanted to tell you two.  No matter what.”

“Y…Yeah…”  Kaede and Kiki replied with grateful smiles.

“Well, let’s head back.”  Shuichi suggested.  “We shouldn’t stay here too long.”

“Yeah, good idea.”  Kiki agreed.

With a double nod of agreement, Shuichi released the bookcase.  It fell back into place before the trio turned and left the library.

“Kaede…Kiki…”  Shuichi asked as he closed the door behind them.  “Please don’t tell anyone what I showed you.  I don’t want to cause a panic.”

“Y…Yeah, we understand…”  Kaede and Kiki agreed, causing Shuichi to smile gratefully.

“Alright, let’s go back to our rooms.”  Kaede suggested.  Kiki and Shuichi nodded before they followed Kaede back to the dorms.

“What Shuichi told us earlier is really disturbing.”  Kaede muttered as she laid under the covers, the nighttime announcement having echoed in her ears mere moments ago.  “One of us is cooperating with Monokuma…it’s just so hard to believe.  But Shuichi trusts us…That’s why he told us, right?  Then…”  Kaede bit her lip as she admitted “Maybe I should believe it…”

Kaede shuddered at the thought before she took a deep breath and closed her eyes, falling into a fitful sleep.

“One of them…”

“Is working with Monokuma…?”  Koto finished Kiri’s sentence incredulously.

Their parents merely nodded before Kyoko commented, “Unfortunately, the possibility of a traitor in the group is far from uncommon in these things.”

Makoto nodded as memories of Mukuro Ikusaba flashed in their minds.  They shook the thought away before their minds could travel to even darker places.

“For now, we just have to wait and see if Shuichi’s trap works.”  Mokubo commented.

Maki stood up and offered “I’ll take them to bed.”

Makoto and Kyoko nodded gratefully as the three children wordlessly obeyed.  They stood up and followed Maki to their bedrooms.  The moment they were gone, the screen shifted to Monokuma on a stage for the second time.

“Wow, we’re already out of material.  Like closing time at a sushi restaurant.  When a series lasts for several seasons, eventually it’ll run out of material.  My memory has been awful lately.  I wonder if it’s cuz of how long the series has been going.  Wait…what season are we on again?  What material have we shown so far?  Geez, I don’t remember.  Maybe it’s cuz they’ve released so many at this point.  Oh well!”

“Anyway, we need new material for the Monokuma Theater!  Please sent your manuscripts, along with a 100,000-yen application fee!  If your entry is selected, you will receive a 10,000-yen gift card!  What a generous prize!  Don’t miss this opportunity!  Send your applications today!”

“That’s a terrible deal.”  Makoto deadpanned.  Not that I’d contribute to a killing game for any amount of money.

“Indeed, and with the last killing game being older than our marriage, you’d think whoever’s controlling Monokuma would have no problem coming up with new material.”  Kyoko agreed with her husband before she stood up.  “Well, shall we head to bed ourselves?”

“Yeah, good idea.”  Makoto agreed as he quickly grabbed the remote and turned off the TV. 

Once he put it back on the couch and turned off the lights, the two walked out of the living room.  As they settled into slumber in the comfort of their own bed, they hoped that the next day would present their daughter with the opportunity she and the others needed to escape.

Chapter Text

Kaede groaned as the morning announcement shut off.  She yawned, rubbing one eye with her fist as she blinked the haziness away.

I think I liked it better when Monokuma wasn’t around all day…  Kaede muttered.  “Come to think of it…we didn’t see him around at all yesterday.  Given how he went to the trouble of trapping us here, I’d have thought he’d be lurking around somewhere.”

Kaede sighed as she swung her legs over the bed and stood up.

“Well, the less we see of him, the better.  I’d better get dressed and meet the others for breakfast.”

With that, Kaede walked to her closet and picked out her outfit.  She then walked to the bathroom, closing the door behind her.

By the time Kaede walked into the Dining Hall, everyone was chatting cheerfully as they ate the breakfast that Kirumi had prepared for everyone.

Everyone seems in a good mood…  Kaede thought with a relieved smile before Kiki turned her head and smiled.

“Hey, Kaede!”  Kiki waved her over and invited “Shuichi and I saved you a spot!”

Kaede giggled as she walked over to the table and sat between them.  She glanced at the others’ expressions once she took her seat.  To her relief, Kiki’s mood had taken a turn for the better.

“Good morning, Shuichi.  Kiki, did you sleep well?”

“Yeah, I slept well last night.”  Kiki confirmed with a smile.

Kaede nodded in approval at Kiki’s positive response.  I’m glad she’s smiling again.  Her happiness is really refreshing and infectious.  Kaede turned her gaze and frowned at the pensive Rantaro, his furrowed brow providing a deep contrast with Kiki’s relatively peppy mood.  Though I guess it’s not infectious for everyone…

“Why the long face?”  Ryoma asked, causing everyone to look towards Rantaro’s uneasy frown.

“It’s nothing…”  Rantaro assured them uneasily, his eyes barely flickering away from his food.

“What do you mean?”  Kirumi asked suspiciously.

“Really, it’s nothing.”  Rantaro insisted with a nervous chuckle.

Kaede closed her eyes and hummed, pondering What’s Rantaro so nervous about?  Everyone else seems happy, so why’s he the only one who’s outwardly nervous?  Could he be worried about the fact that Monokuma hasn’t shown his face in over 24 hours?

“I wonder what happened to Monokuma…”  Kaede pondered, not realizing that she spoke her thoughts out loud.  She suddenly saw everyone staring at her, causing her eyes to widen as she thought, Oh crap!

“Do you want him to appear?”  Sokyu asked, narrowing his eyes as he glared at her.

“N…No, not at all…”  Kaede backtracked, waving her hands in front of her.

“Then don’t ruin our happy breakfast!”  Clover exclaimed, causing Snake to rest a hand on her shoulder.

“Now, now, no need to get in arms about it.  I’m sure she’s just curious.”

“Indeed.”  Ace agreed.  “No reason to get at each other’s throats over mere curiosity.”

“Well, if you ask me, the less we see of Monokuma, the better.”  Lotus commented.  “If we’re lucky, maybe he got run over by a car on his way here.”

Everyone burst into laughter at the thought of Monokuma becoming roadkill.

“And that’s my cue to appear, kuma!”

What the…  Kaede thought, befuddled as he suddenly appeared on the table, spoiling their good mood. 

Everyone stared incredulously as one of his now triangle-shaped ears had a piece missing.  Around his necklace was a half blue, half white jewel that hung from a blue necklace.  A yellow belt was wrapped around his abdomen as two blue flames seemed to hover behind and to either side of him.

“…What?”  Teruaki exclaimed in shock as Kiki screamed.

“M…Monokuma!”  Kirumi growled.

“No, no, are you guys blind or something, kuma?”  Monokuma questioned.  “I ain’t Monokuma, kuma.  After dying in a tragic car accident, I’ve been reborn as a Yo-Kai!  Call me Jibakuma, kuma!”

“Jibakuma…?”  Keebo uttered, confused by Monokuma’s cosplay act.

“From now on, I’m the headmaster of Kibou University, kuma!  You might feel uncomfortable at first, but eventually you’ll get used to it.”

Everyone stared at Monokuma, causing a tense silence to permeate the Dining Hall until Monokuma finally broke it.  “…Huh?  Did I slip up?”

“No duh!”  Clover exclaimed angrily, pointing at Monokuma.  “Go find another car to run you over!  And this time, stay dead!”

Gathering her courage, Kiki agreed “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I wish you had been run over!”

“Ah geez…”  Tsumugi groaned.  “It’s such a low-level cosplay, I can’t bear to look.”

Monokuma let out a depressed sigh as he removed the fake ears, belt, necklace, and tails.  Hanging his head, he tossed the accessories into the nearby trash can.

“Man, you guys are buzzkills!  I was all set for adventure before you started yelling at me!  This is why I hate teenagers and adults!  I’d have cash for days if I was dealing with the under 10 crowd!”  The psychotic bear shook his depressed mood away, suddenly happy as a clam as he exclaimed “Anyway, I have an announcement!”

“An announcement?”  Rantaro questioned, his voice tense with dread.

“It’s not terribly important, but…It’s easier to stay alive by being an obvious goody two-shoes, right?  Being thrust into a killing game doesn’t mean you’ll be able to kill someone easily…So I figured I’d ease you guys into the killing game by giving you motivation to kill.

“…Motivation to kill?”  Sokyu asked curiously.

“In short, a motive!  That oughta add some mystery to the proceedings!  Even if a killer is exposed, they could whip up a sob story to deceive everyone!”

“Wh…What are you saying?”  Keebo demanded angrily.  “Your logic is impossible to understand…!”

Ignoring Keebo, Monokuma proclaimed “I will now announce the first motive!  Make sure you record this moment for posterity!”

Everyone steeled themselves as they listened to Monokuma’s motive.  The psychotic bear cleared his throat, grinning as he stretched his paws outward.

“Now then, the special motive I’ve prepared is called the First Blood Perk!  Wow!  For the first murder that occurs, no class trial will be held!  Can you believe it?  That means the first one to kill someone will get to graduate, no strings attached!”

“No class trial will be held?”  Sokyu questioned.

“I’m sorry that I made the class trial seem more important than it really is…So for the first murder, I’ve decided not to hold a class trial at all.  Please just relax, calm down, and kill!  After all, the first one’s free!”

“Huh?  That’s all!?”  Teruaki questioned.  “We just gotta kill someone to get outta here!?”

“That’s all!?”  Keebo exclaimed furiously.  “What’s that supposed to mean!?” 

“I’m just a-asking for in-information!”

“Please just calm down!”

“First Blood Perk!?  Don’t make it sound like some kind of game show bonus!”  Clover questioned.

“Puhuhu…”  Monokuma giggled.  “You say that, but I bet you’re really happy, huh?”

“There’s no way I’m happy!”  Clover exclaimed angrily.

This isn’t good…  Kaede shuddered as she saw the others glancing at each other anxiously, wondering who the first one to cave would be.  I’ve gotta say something, or someone actually might…  “S…Stop messing around…Do you think this is fun for us?”  Kaede questioned as she gritted her teeth furiously.

“…Hm?”  Monokuma hummed, cocking his head in confusion.

“Do you really think I’d kill someone to get out?  That’s wrong!  In your dreams!”  Kaede vowed as she pointed furiously at Monokuma.  “We’re not gonna lose to you!  We promised each other we’d escape from this place!”

“Puhuhu…”  Monokuma giggled in amusement.  “Spare me your false bravado.  You should be focusing on how you plan to survive.  You just gotta kill someone, right?”

“Why you…bastard!”  Seven growled.

“I see…The prisoner’s dilemma.”  Rantaro deduced, causing the others to turn and look at him.  “How very clever of you, Monokuma.”

“Huh?  What’s that?”  Kiki wondered.

“We all know it’s better to cooperate rather than betray each other, right?  But if you don’t cooperate, you receive some benefit that no one else gets.  It’s an incentive to betray the group to give yourself an advantage.  With that in the back of all of our minds, we’re less likely to cooperate.  That’s Monokuma’s plan.  To make a non-cooperative game that tanks Kaede’s plan to get us to cooperate.”

“What?”  Kaede exclaimed.  The color seemed to fade from her skin as the gears turned in her head, her face a spectral shade of white.

“And if a murder were to occur…it’d be even more unlikely that we’d cooperate.”  Shuichi nervously concluded.

“It’s likely he created this perk for that sole purpose.”  Ace grimly commented.

“Right?”  Monokuma agreed.  “I bet you can’t stand all this tension in the air, right?  So it’s better to just kill!”

“Wh…What?  You…”  Kiki stammered before Kirumi interrupted her, glaring at Monokuma.

“It seems you are quite serious about forcing us to participate in this killing game.  What exactly is your objective?”

“That’s for me to know!”  Monokuma taunted.  “Your job is to kill!  So go, go on a kill, kill, killing spree!  Don’t keep me waiting too long!  Who knows what else I might come up with to motivate you otherwise!  Ahahahahahaaa!”

With that, Monokuma hopped off the table and waddled out the door, leaving the sixteen participants alone.

“…Do not panic.”  Ace counseled, though everyone could tell he was just as anxious as the rest of them.  “As long as we stay united, we have no reason to fear his First Blood Perk.”

“Yeah, that’s right, Ace.”  Kaede agreed with an uneasy smile.  “Why don’t we finish our group breakfast?”

With tepid nods, everyone went back to their foods, though the cheer and unity had disappeared, replaced by anxiety and despair.  Everyone stole glances at each other every few seconds, trying to gauge their neighbor’s intentions.  Kaede sighed and picked at her food, depressed by Monokuma’s motive.

This…isn’t good…

“This isn’t good.”  Makoto muttered.

“Indeed.”  Kyoko agreed.  “He’s essentially provided the first blackened with a Get Out of Jail Free Card.  Their unity was already fragile after the failed escape plan.  With an incentive that powerful, he’s basically essentially ensuring a murder happens at some point.”

“…And if they decide to go after Nee-chan, she’ll be basically defenseless.”

Everyone shuddered at Mokubo’s conclusion before Maki commented, “Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”

“Hey, where’s Kiki going?”  Koto asked as they watched her get up and follow Shuichi and Kaede.

“Looks like she’s following Kaede and Shuichi.  At least we can trust them…”  Kiri sighed.

Makoto and Kyoko shared reluctant frowns.  As much as they hated to admit it, their experiences in past killing games had taught them that even their most trusted of comrades weren’t completely safe to blindly confide in. 

Maki’s brow furrowed, though the former assassin nodded to keep the children from panicking. The family focused their attention on the screen, watching curiously as the captive girl and pianist followed the young detective.

“Hey, Shuichi…”  Kaede asked hesitantly as the three of them walked through the halls.  “What should we do right now?”

“…We need to move.”  Shuichi muttered.

“Huh?  Move?”

“Move where?”  Kiki asked before Shuichi glanced around their surroundings.

“This morning,” he told them in a hushed voice, “before I came to the dining hall, I noticed dust from the card reader on the floor.”

“You mean, in the library?”  Kaede quietly exclaimed.


So when he said we needed to move, he was probably hinting at something…  Kaede realized.  If that’s the case, then…

“Shuichi, can I help you in any way?”  Kaede inquired.

“Me too.”  Kiki volunteered nervously.  “I want to help too.”

“Of course, Kaede, Kiki…”  Shuichi replied appreciatively.  “But we should go.  We shouldn’t be talking in the open like this.”

The two girls nodded as they continued to follow Shuichi.

“Are we heading to the library?”  Kaede inquired as they left the dorms.

“Yes…I’ll tell you everything there.”

“Thank goodness it’s empty.”  Shuichi muttered as Kiki closed the door behind her.  “Alright, I’ll explain everything.  First, take a look at the card reader.”

As Shuichi went to the bookcase and pulled it aside, Kaede and Kiki walked up to the hidden door.  Their eyes widened in realization at the completely pristine, glass surface.

“The dust is gone!”

“Yeah, it’s as clean as a whistle!”  Kiki agreed with Kaede’s observation.

“That’s right.”  Shuichi confirmed.  “I checked it right after nighttime started yesterday, and the dust was there.  But this morning, it was gone.”

“So that means…someone entered this door during nighttime?”  Kaede deduced.

Shuichi nodded and commented, “That got me thinking.  This may sound far-fetched, but…my deduction is that one of us volunteered to participate and wasn’t forced.”

“And that person is the one in our group who’s cooperating with Monokuma?”  Kaede realized.

Shuichi nodded.  “Monokuma’s whole cosplay gag earlier may have just been a way to mess with us and get on our nerves…but it got me thinking.  Say that by some miracle, Monokuma was destroyed.  Perhaps this door…leads to somewhere that could create more Monokumas.”

“MORE MONOKUMAS?!”  Kiki exclaimed in shock and horror.

“Ah, you might not wanna shout.”  Shuichi gently scolded.  “We don’t want to alert the mastermind if they happen to be nearby.”

Kaede nodded.  “Yeah, I’m shocked too, but we need to keep our voice down, okay Kiki?”

“S…Sorry…”  Kiki sheepishly apologized, fiddling with her braid and averting her gaze.

“It would explain why this door needed to be hidden.”  Shuichi continued with a reassuring smile.  “I believe that if one of us can create spare Monokumas…They are the mastermind of this killing game.”

“So, the person who’s responsible for all our suffering…is one of us?”  Kaede shuddered.

“Of course, this is just what I’ve deduced, but it is entirely possible.”  Shuichi answered honestly.  “That’s why I didn’t want to talk about this in front of everyone.  If we told them now, they might all try to find the mastermind, and be led to murder.  That’s why…I could only tell you two, Kaede, Kiki.”

The mastermind…The one controlling Monokuma…I can’t believe the person responsible for our suffering could be among us…It’s hard to accept, but if it’s true…  Kaede’s eyes narrowed as she resolved, I can’t forgive them…  “So…what do you plan to do now, Shuichi?”  Kaede asked.  “We’re gonna find this mastermind, right?”

“I’m…thinking of taking the risk…”  Shuichi admitted.  “I believe the mastermind will come here at some point, to create a spare Monokuma, and I can expose them.”

“Wait, how do you know they’ll come here?”  Kaede asked curiously.

“I’m extrapolating from my own deductions.” 

Shuichi fiddled with his hat.   His nervous frown betrayed his uneasiness with his own plan.

“To produce new Monokumas, in case the first one got destroyed, the mastermind would have to come here.  They would have to get into the hidden room to activate the machine.  Of course, none of this is certain.  There’s a chance the mastermind won’t show.  There’s a chance that I could be completely wrong about what’s on the other side of this door.  Like I said…it’s a risk.  But I’m willing to take it.  It’s better than just sitting around, doing nothing.”

“Yeah…I’ll take that risk with you!”  Kaede volunteered.

“Me too!”  Kiki agreed.  “We don’t know if help will come, and I don’t wanna spend my days wondering who’s gonna come and try to kill me!  Your plan sounds like our best option for getting out of here in one piece, so if there’s anything I can do to help, I’ll do it!”

“Ah, but…Kaede, Kiki, this is just my deduction, it’s possible that I’m wrong…”  Shuichi reminded them.

“Yeah, I know.  But I’ve made up my mind.  Kiki has too!”  Kiki nodded in agreement as Kaede continued, “You told us about this, so that must mean you trust us, right, Shuichi?  Then…we’ll trust you, too.”  Shuichi frowned nervously, causing Kaede to comment “…I mean, I don’t have a good idea of my own so obviously I’ll help you with yours.”

“Me neither.”  Kiki agreed.  “You’re the only one who was smart enough to come up with an idea.  All I did was whine about our situation; I wanna do something to help!”

“Thanks, Kiki.”  Kaede smiled gratefully before she exclaimed, “Okay, then!  Let’s expose the mastermind together, Shuichi!”

“Thank you, Kaede, Kiki.”  Shuichi replied with a grateful smile.  “You two…have a way of encouraging me.”

“I never expected this to happen, though…”  Kaede admitted.  “I can’t believe our enemy is within our group, hiding in plain sight.”

“…Yeah…”  Shuichi admitted as Kiki stared down at her sneakers.

“Now that we know this, I should stop saying everyone needs to work together…”  Kaede lamented, feeling foolish for her earlier pep talks.  “But whoever the mastermind is, we’ll expose them and help everyone else escape!  And when this is all behind us, we’re gonna stay good friends!  That’s a promise, okay?”

“…R…Right.”  Shuichi agreed bashfully, averting his gaze as his cheeks flushed pink.  “I’m gonna…reapply the dust to the card reader.”

Kaede and Kiki giggled as Shuichi propped the bookcase open with one hand while reaching into his jacket with the other.  He pulled out some dust and tossed it on the card reader before he backed away and released the bookcase.

As it fell back into place, Shuichi walked back over to them and suggested, “Alright, let’s head back so we don’t look too suspicious.  I have a couple of ideas on how to expose the mastermind, but I haven’t fleshed any of them out yet.  Give me a day to investigate what’s available to us and I’ll have a working framework after breakfast.”

Kaede and Kiki nodded as they left the library, the two girls parting with Shuichi as they walked back to the dorm area.

“Well, it’s a plan, at least.”  Makoto commented optimistically.

“Indeed, far from the worst of gambits.”  Kyoko agreed with a smile.  “This is the first time anyone’s tried to go after the mastermind directly from the start.”

Maki hummed and stated, “Perhaps they might just pull it off.”

“Yeah, Shuichi’s gonna expose the mastermind!”  Koto cheered.

“Then Kiki will come home and remember us!”  Kiri agreed gleefully.

“…Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”  The others turned with surprise towards Mokubo with surprise in their eyes.  “Shuichi said it himself, he’s not totally sure about his hypothesis himself.  For all we know, this could backfire.”

Koto and Kiri’s eyes drooped as their elder brother dragged them back to reality.  Kyoko frowned, not wanting to dampen her children’s enthusiasm, but also not wanting to give them false hope.

“Well, we should still stay cautiously optimistic.”  Makoto advised with a smile.  “We don’t know it will succeed, but we also don’t know that it will fail either.  So let’s have hope for now.”

Mokubo’s lips tugged into a nearly indiscernible smile as he subtly nodded.  They then turned their gazes back to the TV and watched as Kiki and Kaede roamed the halls.

Chapter Text

“So, what should we do until Shuichi comes up with his plan, Kaede?”  Kiki asked.

“Hm…I’m not sure.”  Kaede admitted before they saw a familiar blue-haired cosplayer standing in the hallway.  “Oh, it’s Tsumugi.”

“Let’s see what she’s up to…hey, Tsumugi!”  Kiki called as she ran up to the cosplayer.

“Hey, wait for me!”  Kaede called as she ran after the girl.  “What’s wrong?”  She asked as Tsumugi let out a heavy sigh, her eyes drooping with her frown.

“Look at this.  My nails are all messed up…”

Kaede and Kiki looked at Tsumugi’s fingernails, observing the smudged, messy nail polish.

“It probably happened when we came here.”  Tsumugi explained.  “And now I can’t take good care of them.”  As Kaede and Kiki looked at her with surprise, the cosplayer lamented “I understand…You’re surprised that plain old me cares about my nails, right?”

“Well, not really…”  Kaede admitted.

“Yeah, any girl wants to look good, even if it’s just her nails!”  Kiki agreed in an attempt to cheer her up.

“But when you say nails, you mean nail art, right?  I’ve never done that before.”  Kaede confessed.

“Oh, I see.”  Tsumugi mused “Nails would just plain get in the way when playing piano, huh?”

“Yeah.”  Kaede confirmed, glancing down at her own fingertips. 

Her nails were finely trimmed, barely extending past her fingertips.  Far from being sharp and rigid though, they were finely curved so they wouldn’t get caught on the piano keys.  She bit her lip as she tried to imagine how they would look with paint on them.  Dazzling decorations of color flashed in her mind as she wished she could indulge for once in her life and go to town on her nails.  Her eyes suddenly widened as the gears turned in her head, inspiration striking her like a cartoonish anvil.

“I know!” 

Her eyes lit up as she took off her backpack and unzipped the front pouch.  She pulled out a nail brush with a long, pink handle before she offered it to the somber cosplayer.  “I can give you this nail brush if you want.”

Tsumugi’s eyes sparkled with hope.  “Huh?  Are you sure?  But, I can’t just take it for free.”

“Don’t worry about it!”  Kaede assured her, only for Tsumugi to shake her head in refusal.

“No, no.  For things like this, we need an equivalent exchange.”

“Equivalent exchange?”

“Oh, I got it!  How about I do your nails, right now?”

“Really!?”  Kaede exclaimed, her eyes sparkling as she nodded excitedly.  “Yay, please do!”

“What about you, Kiki?”  Tsumugi offered “I might as well do your nails too.”

“Oh…okay…that sounds fun.”  Kiki agreed with a smile.

“Then let’s do it…Oh!  We can use the Laundry Room.”

“Got it!  Thanks a bunch!”  Kaede beamed as she suggested, “Come on, Kiki.  Let’s go grab our laundry; might as well wash it while our nails are getting done.”

“Okay.”  Kiki agreed.

“Yeah, see you later.”  Tsumugi waved as the two girls headed back to the dorms, excited to get their nails painted.

Kiki and Kaede walked into the laundry room, carrying their hampers as Tsumugi waved at them from her seat at a table in the middle of the room.  They smiled at her before they approached one of the laundry washing machines and opened the lid.  They combined their loads and poured them into the machine before Kiki put the detergent pod in the slot.  Once Kaede closed the lid and fiddled with the settings, she pressed the start button.

“Let’s go, Tsumugi!”  Kaede exclaimed excitedly as they sat down across from her, startling the cosplayer.

“Huh?  Huuuh?  Why are you so excited?”  She asked, confused.

“Hahaha, sorry!  I’m just so excited!”  Kaede explained with a flush of embarrassment that painted her cheeks a light shade of pink.  “I’ve never had my nails done before!”

“Yeah, me neither.”  Kiki admitted, though she managed to keep her excitement in better check than the pianist.

“I…It makes me feel just plain pressured when you look forward to it so much…”  Tsumugi stammered nervously.  “I’m not that good at doing nails, so don’t get your hopes up too much, okay?”

“Okay!”  Kaede giggled, causing the other two girls to sweatdrop.

“Why are your eyes sparkling so much!?”  Tsumugi questioned suspiciously.  Seeing that Kaede wasn’t going to rein in her excitement anytime soon, she sighed and requested, “Alright, Kaede, just give me your hand and I’ll start.”

“Sure, oh, why don’t you start with Kiki first?”

“Huh?  But why me?”  Kiki asked incredulously.  “You’re the one who was excited for this!  I’m just along for the ride.”

“Come on, Kiki, you said yourself that any girl wants her nails to look pretty.  Besides, I can wait, and it’ll be worth it so I can tell you just how pretty your nails look!”

Kiki sweatdropped before she sighed, “Fine…” 

She extended a hand to Tsumugi as the cosplayer took out a container of nail polish and opened it.  She then took Kiki’s palm in her hand and dipped the brush in the nail polish.

“Alright, hold still…”  Tsumugi instructed as she began to paint.

Kaede watched with sparkling eyes as Tsumugi meticulously coated Kiki’s nails with polish  The pink pigmentation obscured the nail beneath with each careful caress of the brush.

“Okay…how’s that?”  Tsumugi asked hopefully as Kiki observed her newly painted nails.

“Oh Kami!”  Kaede gushed as her eyes sparkled.  “So cute!  How did you get it like that!?”

“I just painted a pink gradient on them.”  Tsumugi explained simply.

“That’s all!?  Kami, I bet Kiki doesn’t even recognize her own fingernails anymore!  They’re so cute!”

“Y…you’re exaggerating a bit…”  Kiki muttered, blushing before she looked down at her painted nails and smiled.  “They do look cute though…thanks, Tsumugi.”

Tsumugi smiled and explained to Kaede, “With a gradient like this, you can make even plain nails…No, yours are short, but they’re shaped nicely.  This shouldn’t get in the way of playing piano.”

“Yeah, this should be fine!  I never knew you could get your nails done when they’re short.”

“Ano…”  Tsumugi’s brow suddenly furrowed as she mused “Come to think of it…Even if you are a pianist, you could just put on fake nails when you’re not on the piano.”

“You know…she’s right…”  Kiki commented before the door opened.

The three girls glanced at the entrance and saw Rantaro walk in.  He was carrying his own laundry hamper in his arms as he approached one of the washing machines.

“Hey…what are you three up to?”  Rantaro asked curiously as he loaded his laundry in the washer.

“Hey, Rantaro!  Look!”  Kiki yelped as Kaede held up her wrist and put her painted nails on display, gushing “Tsumugi did Kiki’s nails for her!”

“Whaaa!?  Don’t show them off like they’re something flashy!”  Tsumugi shrieked, embarrassed that Kaede was showing off her artwork.

“Yeah, especially since they’re not your nails!”  Kiki complained before Kaede released her wrist and smiled apologetically.

“Sorry, girls.  But they’re super cute!”

“They’re not…that amazing.”  Tsumugi denied.  “Something like this is just plain basic.”

“Ooh, painting your nails, huh?”  Rantaro asked curiously as he closed the lid and pressed the Start button.  “You know, I can do that too.”

“Huh?”  Kaede asked, cocking her head as the other two girls looked at him in surprise.  “You can?  But…you’re a boy?”

Tsumugi hummed nervously before she teased, “Could it be you’ve done it for a girlfriend?  Or girlfriends?  You normie, you!”

“Haha, no, no girlfriend or anything.”  Rantaro laughed as he rested his left hand at the back of his head.  “What gave you that impression?”

“Yeah, I guess you wouldn’t have one.”  Tsumugi seemed to reply in relief.  “You seem like you’re one of those types.”

“One of those types?”  Kaede asked curiously.

“What does that mean, Tsumugi?”  Kiki asked.

Thankfully, Rantaro ignored the conversation and saved Tsumugi from further questioning.  “A gradient is nice…But with short nails like yours, Kaede, I recommend a French slant.”

“French Slant?”  Kaede asked curiously as she cocked her head.  “Is that some kinda cooking technique?”

“Haha, no, it’s a kind of design.”  Rantaro explained before he walked over to the table and sat next to Kaede.  “It’ll be faster to just show you.  May I?”

“You’ll do it for me?”  Kaede’s eyes sparkled as she exclaimed excitedly, “Then, yes please!”

“Alright then.”

“Wait!”  Tsumugi exclaimed in protest as Rantaro took the nail brush and nail polish.  “I though you wanted me to do your nails!”

“I don’t think there’s any point in trying to dissuade her now, Tsumugi.”  Kiki sighed as Rantaro took Kaede’s palm in one hand and dipped the brush in the nail polish with the other.  “She’s too enamored with this new technique Rantaro just offered to show her.”

Tsumugi sighed dejectedly as they watched Rantaro expertly brush Kaede’s fingernails.  Kiki smiled in amusement while Tsumugi puffed her cheeks in a pout.

“Oh…!”  Kaede gasped as her cheeks flushed pink at the sensation of Rantaro holding her hand.

“Whoa, easy there…”  Rantaro chuckled in amusement.  “You gotta stay still, alright?”

“O…Okay…”  Kaede stammered as Kiki and Tsumugi smiled teasingly at the pianist’s flustered state.

Wh…Why am I getting so flustered!?  As the bristles gently brushed against the skin of Kaede’s finger, Kaede began to giggle.  “Hey…Rantaro…Th…That tickles…”

“It’s okay, I’m almost done…”  Rantaro assured her, causing her to hold her breath as she held back the giggles in her throat.

“A…haha…p…please hurry!”  She pleaded as some of her giggles escaped her lips.

“Done!”  Rantaro announced, allowing Kaede to breathe a sigh of relief as he removed the brush from her fingers.  “The idea is, you paint your nails in two colors diagonally, like this.”

“Ooohh!  This is super cute, too!”  Kaede gushed as she looked at her newly painted fingertips.  “My nails look really fancy with this two-toned design!”

Rantaro nodded, explaining “Painting them diagonally makes them look long and pretty!  Now, I don’t have any with me right now, but some rhinestones would look perfect…”

“Rhinestones?”  Kaede asked curiously.

“Yeah, they’re fake gemstones for your nails.”

“Hm…You’re really good at this, Rantaro.”

“Haha, nah, this is nothin’ special.”  Rantaro laughed bashfully.  “…I used to do this all the time.”

“For…a girlfriend, maybe?”  Kaede asked with a teasing smirk.

“Didn’t I tell you?  It’s not that.  Just for family.  Nothing romantic.  But anyway…”  They turned to Tsumugi and Kiki as Rantaro noted curiously, “Tsumugi’s staring daggers at us.  Did I do something…?”

Tsumugi hummed before muttering, “What a showoff…Damn normies!  Go backflip onto a land mine and explode!”

“Tsumugi!”  Kiki exclaimed disapprovingly, causing Kaede and Rantaro to chuckle.

“I’d…better go. Kiki, you mind putting our laundry in the dryer once it’s ready?  I’ll fold it and bring it to our rooms later.” 

“Oh, sure, that’s fine.”  Kiki agreed.

“Great!  Thanks for the nail art, Rantaro!”  Kaede waved with a smile as she left the laundry room, leaving Rantaro, Tsumugi, and Kiki alone.

“…I don’t get it…What’s the point of painting your nails…Ow!”

Koto nursed his aching head as Kiri scolded, “That’s because you’re a boy!  You can’t really appreciate how beautiful Kiki’s nails look!”

“Kiri, don’t insult your brother like that, and I already warned you about hitting him.”  Makoto scolded.  “It hurts him, and more importantly, it’s sexist.  I’m a boy, but I think your sister’s nails are really pretty.”

“Indeed.”  Kyoko nodded, turning her Kirigiri glare towards her twin children.  “If you two can’t behave yourselves, we’ll arrange for your grandparents to watch you, and ask them not to let you watch any TV.”

“…Sorry…”  Kiri reluctantly grumbled.

“…Sorry…”  Koto sighed, placating his parents.

Makoto smiled before he suggested, “Maki, why don’t you take the kids and Haruki and go grab some lunch in the kitchen?”

“Good idea.”  Kyoko agreed before Koto and Kiri groaned.  “I don’t think anything exciting is gonna happen anytime soon.  If it does, we’ll holler.”

“Okay…”  Koto and Kiri grumbled as Mokubo stood up.

The three of them followed Maki up the stairs to retrieve their honorary cousin as Makoto and Kyoko relaxed.  They leaned back on the couch, casually watching the screen for any sign of a new development.

Kaede hummed as she walked back to her and Kiki’s rooms, one stack of laundry in each hand.

Should have used one of our hampers to bring our laundry back…Oh well, too late now.  Kaede shrugged as she turned the corner, thinking I’ll just ring the doorbell with my elbow, and…  “Oh, Shuichi!”

“Ka…Kaede!”  Shuichi stammered.  “Sorry, didn’t mean to almost bump into you.  I was…lost in thought.”

“No, it’s okay, I should have been watching where I was going.”  Kaede assured him, embarrassed.  “I was just bringing Kiki’s laundry to her.”

“Oh, I see.”  Shuichi replied.

“So, any luck with your plan?”

“Well, sort of.  I have a better idea, but not a complete framework yet.  I’ve just got ideas buzzing around in my head and I can’t really concentrate, ya know?”

“Yeah, I totally get you…hey, I got an idea!”  Kaede exclaimed.  “Why don’t we grab some tea in the Dining Hall after I drop off our laundry? Maybe that’ll help calm you down and help you think.”

“Hmm…sure, that sounds like a good idea.”  Shuichi admitted.  “I’ll wait for you in the Dining Hall…oh, but let me ring Kiki’s doorbell first.”

“Sure, thanks, Shuichi.”

Kaede smiled gratefully as Shuichi pressed his finger to the doorbell.

*Ding Dong*

Kaede nodded thankfully as Shuichi silently walked off to the Dining Hall.  The detective disappeared from view as Kiki opened her door and peeked her head out.


“Hey, Kiki!  I brought your laundry!”

“Oh, thanks!” 

Kiki smiled gratefully as she took the pile of clothes.

“See you later, Kaede.”  Kiki told her as she closed the door.

“Her nails really do look cuter now that they’re painted.”  Kaede giggled with a blush.  “Alright, time to put my laundry away and go meet up with Shuichi!”

With that, Kaede took out her key and unlocked her door before she slipped inside.

Free Time Event #2: Kaede & Shuichi!

“Hey, Shuichi!”  Kaede greeted cheerfully as the detective waved her over with a smile.  “Oh, you already made tea?”

“Not exactly…”  Shuichi admitted “Kirumi was here and when I mentioned I was meeting you for tea, she immediately started making some.”

Kaede rolled her eyes as she giggled, “That woman is a workaholic, but I gotta admit, she has great culinary skills!”

Shuichi chuckled before they both began to drink their tea.  They hummed contently as they sipped the expertly brewed beverage.


“Hm?  What is it, Kaede?”

“Well…”  Kaede began hesitantly.  “Remember a couple days ago, when I wondered if it was possible we might have met before?”  Shuichi nodded curiously before Kaede suggested, “Why don’t we talk a little bit about ourselves, see if what we have to say rings any bells?”

“Sure, that sounds alright.  You wanna go first?”

“Sure, now let’s see…”  Kaede hummed before she began “Most kids my age just called me Piano Freak.  Ever since I was a child, I would play the piano whenever I got bored…There were even times I played the piano so much, that I would forget to eat and sleep.  Eventually, I won trophies from concerts.  And people started praising me…”  Kaede blushed in embarrassment as she asked, “So, any of that ring a bell?”

Shuichi hummed in contemplation before he mused “Now that you mention it…that backstory does sound familiar…I just can’t put my finger on it.”

“Well, what’s your backstory?”  Kaede asked curiously.  “Maybe it’ll sound familiar to me.”

“I don’t really know about that…”  Shuichi chuckled.  “Truthfully, I don’t have the credentials to call myself a detective yet.  I just…happened to solve a case that I came across and…”

“Wait…”  Kaede interrupted as she furrowed her brow.  “That…actually sounds familiar…I think I’ve heard it before.”

Kaede and Shuichi closed their eyes and hummed, searching through their memories.  Eventually, Kaede opened her eyes and gasped as several memories flashed before her eyes.


“Kaede…”  The detective gasped as he opened his eyes and stared intently at hers.

“…WE DATED?!”  They exclaimed simultaneously in shock.

“Y…yeah…we used to be best friends…”  Shuichi muttered.

“Yeah…but it was more than that…we…we dated each other in middle school…”  Kaede breathed, trying to process the revelation.  “Kami, how could I forget that I had a boyfriend?!”

“Well, several of the others had memory loss.  Seven, Kiki…”

“Kiki!”  Kaede exclaimed excitedly.  “Do you think we were best friends with her too and we forgot about it?  Do you think that’s how we got so close after we woke up in the classroom?  Do you think that’s why we trust each other so much?”

“M…Maybe…it’s certainly possible.”  Shuichi admitted.  “Anyway…they all experienced some kind of memory loss.  It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for all of us to have experienced varying degrees of amnesia after we were captured.”

“Yeah, you’ve got a point.”  Kaede admitted.

“So…”  Shuichi blushed as he nervously asked “What do we do?  About the whole…?”

“About us dating?”  Kaede giggled bashfully.  “I think we’ve got more important things to worry about than whether or not we should rekindle an unremembered relationship.  Let’s focus on getting out of here with everyone, then we can talk about us.”

Shuichi nodded as they continued to drink their tea in a comfortable silence.  The former couple smiled bashfully at each other, feeling their hearts beat just a little bit faster in their chests.

Even if it’s just rekindling our past connection…I feel like Shuichi and I have gotten closer.  Kaede thought, smiling fondly as her e-Handbook beeped from her backpack.

As the evening announcement faded, Kaede sighed and curled under the sheets.  She closed her eyes as the room around her faded into darkness.

We got a motive, and one of our own is likely the one who put us in this situation.  But even so…we still have a plan to catch them in the act, thanks to my ex-boyfriend, Shuichi.  Boyfriend, I’m still wrapping my head around that.  And I got my nails done with Kiki!  We had some downers, but all in all, I think today was a net positive.

“So Kaede and Shuichi remember some of their past?!”  Koto and Kiri exclaimed.

“It…would appear so.”  Mokubo confirmed.  “Though there’s still a lot of memories they haven’t recovered.”

“Still, that means…”

“Kiki will recover her memories too!”  Kiri finished her twin brother’s sentence as they both high-fived each other.

“It is certainly promising.”  Kyoko admitted, sharing a knowing look with her husband.  “If this keeps up, then perhaps they’ll be able to stay united despite Monokuma’s best efforts.”

“Yeah.”  Makoto agreed, praying that his daughter’s memories would return organically just like Kyoko’s detective memories did when they were teenagers.  “Alright kids, time for bed.”

The three children wordlessly got up and left the living room, leaving Makoto and Kyoko alone as the Monokuma Theatre segment came on.

“I’ll teach you guys how to win over a lady.  First, you gotta give her a present.  Ladies can’t resist presents.  But you can’t give her any present.  It’s gotta be a present suited to her tastes.  And it’s gotta be a handmade present, too.  So it looks like you put thought into it.  For example, the kinda lady who’s into strong men would love a handmade…pro wrestling group.” 

“She’ll love bein’ surrounded by macho dudes, and you’ll make money off the wrestlers, too!  If enough wrestlers get popular, then it might be good to host a big event.  And after they’re done beating up each other, they can fight other pro wrestling groups!  Just give it a shot, and I’m positive you’ll win her heart!”

“…Only half of that was good advice.”  Makoto commented.  “How does one even make a handmade pro wrestling group?”

“Indeed, and not all presents need to be handmade.”  Kyoko smiled appreciatively at her husband and complimented, “Plenty of your presents were store-bought, and I still loved them.”

“Th…thanks, Kyoko.”  Makoto replied, smiling bashfully as she scratched his blushing cheek.  “Alright, shall we turn off the TV and turn in for the night?”

Kyoko nodded and turned off the TV before she followed her husband to their room, feeling somewhat optimistic about their daughter’s chances.

Chapter Text

“Really?”  Kiki asked curiously as she and Kaede walked down the halls.  “You and Shuichi used to date?”

“Yeah…we just remembered it the other day.”  Kaede admitted with a blush.  “And…this is just my conjecture, but…I think it’s possible we might have known each other too.  It might explain why we stuck together after this killing game began.”

“Well, I don’t know if we were or we weren’t…but I think I would have liked having you as my friend, Kaede.”  Kiki admitted with a smile.  She then frowned, lamenting “I just…wish I could remember…”

“I know you will, Kiki.”  Kaede assured her with a smile as she rested her hand on the amnesiac’s shoulder.  “And even if I’m wrong, and we weren’t friends back then…we’re friends now.”

“Yeah, I…”


“Huh?  Ace?”  Kaede asked curiously.

The middle-aged man came to a halt, bending over.  He panted, desperately trying to catch his breath as he rested his hands on his kneecaps.

“Kaede, Kiki, thank goodness, we’ve got trouble in the Dining Hall.”

“Trouble?!”  Kiki exclaimed in shock, causing Ace to nod grimly.

“It’s Ryoma.  We were starting to sit down for breakfast when he came in and started talking crazy.  Rantaro and Shuichi are trying to dissuade him, but I don’t know how successful they’re going to be.”

Talking crazy…could he…?  Kaede shook her head and glanced at Kiki.  “Kiki, I think we should check this out.”

“Yeah…we gotta take this seriously.”  Kiki agreed.

“Alright, Ace, lead the way.”

“Good, we need to move.”  Ace replied before he turned around and walked towards the Dining Hall, the two teenage girls in anxious pursuit.

“Talking crazy?”  Koto questioned.

“What could Ryoma possibly be talking about?”  Kiri wondered.

“…Presumably, it has something to do with the First Blood Perk.”  Mokubo concluded, causing his siblings to turn to their parents.

“Well…it doesn’t sound like anyone’s dead yet, so that’s a good sign.”  Makoto nervously assured them.

“Still…”  Kyoko mused “If Ryoma is openly discussing it, it’s not a good sign.”

“…We’ll just have to watch and see what happens.”  Maki concluded as the others reluctantly nodded in agreement.

“What’s going on here?!”  Kaede demanded as she, Ace, and Kiki raced into the Dining Hall.

Everyone turned to face the trio before Rantaro sighed in relief, “Oh, Kaede, Kiki.  Perfect timing.  I…really don’t know what to do, you two.  Ryoma started talking crazy…”

“All I was doing was making a suggestion.”  Ryoma defended, causing everyone except Kaede and Kiki to glare at him.  “So that more people can survive…Even if it’s just one more.”

“Ryoma, what do you mean by that?”  Kaede asked nervously.

“Don’t you get it?”  Ryoma shot back.  “If we don’t do something about Monokuma’s motive, we’ll all get annihilated eventually, y’know?  The only way is to use the opportunities available to us to our advantage.”

“What!?  What opportunities?  We haven’t found any other ways out!”  Kaede pointed out.

“We do, actually.  The First Blood Perk allows the first person who murders another to escape, no strings attached.  I think the best path forward is obvious if we want to minimize casualties.”

Minimize casualties?  Kaede’s eyes widened in horror.  Wait…is he actually suggesting…?

“Kill me.”

“Ryoma!  What are you saying!?”  Kaede nearly shrieked in shock.

“You don’t get that either?  I’m saying that I’ll give you guys my life.”  He closed his eyes, lamenting “I…don’t have a reason to live anymore. So if the rest of you want to live, I’ll hand my life over to you.”

“N…No way!”  Kaede objected.  “We promised we’d all get out of here together!”

“Hmph, I hoped it’d end that way.  That’s why I didn’t bring this up immediately after Monokuma announced the motive.  But we’ve just been waiting around without any new plans to escape.  And the longer we wait, the more time Monokuma has to add another incentive.”

“Another…incentive…?”  Kiki asked hesitantly.

Ryoma nodded, his lips tugging into a grim frown.  “Let’s say a couple days pass, and nobody takes advantage of the First Blood Perk.  If he gets bored, he could add in another motive, like a time limit before we all die, for example.”

“A…time limit…?”  Kiki gasped in horror.

Ryoma shrugged.  “Well, it’s just a hypothesis, but I think it proves my point.  There’s no more time left for idealism, don’t you think?”

“N…No…it’s not idealism…”  Kaede stammered, wavering under the logic of Ryoma’s argument.

“This is the best choice for this situation.”  Ryoma concluded.  “Whoever murders me gets to leave without a trial.  After that, the person who gets to escape can go for help and rescue everyone else.  How about it?  If you’ve got a better idea, I’d love to hear it.”

“A…Ano…well…”  Kaede stammered, sweating as she bit her lip anxiously.  What should I do?  Maybe if I share Shuichi’s plan with him, Ryoma will change his mind…

“What about you, Kiki?”

“Huh?”  Kiki asked, startled as Ryoma stared at her intensely.

“You have any better ideas?  If not, then perhaps you should be the one to kill me.  You want to see your family again, don’t you?”

“My…my family…?”

“I remember how you were sobbing about wanting to see your family after the ladder plan failed.  I bet you want nothing more than to see them again.  In that case, the First Blood Perk may be your perfect opportunity.  Don’t tell me you haven’t even considered it over the past day.”

Kiki was struck silent, unable to respond to Ryoma’s comment.  A tense silence permeated the Dining Hall before Ryoma sighed and shook his head.

“Your silence speaks volumes.  It’s obviously been weighing heavily on your mind.”  Ryoma told her before he offered, “Well?  What are you waiting for?  I’ll give my life to you so you can see your family again.  All you need to do is kill me…”

“Ryoma.”  Rantaro interjected.  “There’s no need for that.”


“There’s no need for that, because I’m going to end this game.  I’ve already decided.”

“You’re…going to end this game?”  Kaede exclaimed in surprise.

Rantaro nodded.  “It’s not about outfoxing everyone in this killing game, it’s about ending the game itself.  That’s the real goal.”

“Can you…even accomplish such a feat?”  Ace asked skeptically.

Rantaro smirked confidently as he replied, “I wouldn’t be saying this if I didn’t think I could.”

“And how will you end it?”  Kirumi asked curiously.

“Haha, sorry, can’t tell you.”  Rantaro chuckled in apology.  “Actually, if I could, I wouldn’t be having so much trouble.”

“What do you mean?”  Ryoma asked suspiciously.

“Just what I said.”  Rantaro’s eyes narrowed in determination as he vowed, “I’m going to end this game…So don’t any of you go and do anything unnecessary, alright?  That means you, Ryoma, don’t go offering your own life.  And you, Kiki, pay the First Blood Perk no mind.  Are we understood?”

“Unnecessary…?”  Ryoma asked as Kiki fearfully nodded.  “Hmph, when you put it like that, it seems like I still have a ways to go.”  He sighed and relented, “Alright, I got it.  I take back my suggestion.  Do what you want.”

“Good.”  Rantaro nodded approvingly before Ryoma walked out of the Dining Hall without another word.  

“Geez, that Ryoma…”  Rantaro muttered in exasperation.  “I hope I helped calm him down a bit.”

Kaede nodded in agreement before she asked, “Anyway, Rantaro…Were you serious when you said you knew a way to end this game?”

“…Not sure.”  Rantaro admitted.

“What?”  Kaede nearly shrieked in response before he shrugged.

“Well, even if I did have an idea, I couldn’t tell you.  Can’t risk anyone interfering.  I guess…I have to do my best. Now, I just have one thing to ask all of you.”  Everyone turned curiously towards Rantaro.  “This might sound a little weird, but…Does the term the Tragedy ring a bell for anyone?”

“The Tragedy?”  Kaede repeated, confused as she glanced at the others.  “What is that…?  I’ve never heard of it.”

“What about it?”  Keebo asked, just as confused as the others.

“…Nothing, forget it.”  Rantaro sighed.

“Huh?”  Why would he suddenly drop something that sounds so ominous?

“What do you mean, Rantaro?”  Kirumi pressed.

Rantaro chuckled and assured her “It’s nothing, really.  I’m just a bit confused is all.  Everyone’s a little anxious about not being able to remember how they got here, right?  Well, in my case, not only am I dealing with that, I also can’t remember a lot about my own past.”

Kiki and Seven grimaced, empathizing with the mysterious amnesiac.  They bit their lips, unable to speak a word as Rantaro smiled apologetically.

“So I guess I’m asking you to…bear with me if I say things that don’t make sense sometimes.”  Rantaro mused before he turned around and left the Dining Hall, leaving the others startled and confused.

“Ending this game…Is that even possible?”  Kirumi pondered.

“I suspect he only said that to defuse the situation and stop Ryoma.”  Snake concluded.  “I mean, ending this game…?”

“It’s impossible!”  Clover agreed.

As the others began to debate the chance of success for Rantaro’s secret plan, Shuichi approached Kiki and Kaede on the shoulders, startling them.  “We need to move.  Now.”

The two girls nodded and turned away from the commotion.  Before they could leave, however, Clover’s suspicious voice stopped them in their tracks.

“Hey!”  She narrowed her eyes and rested her hands on her hips.  “Where are you three going?!”

“Oh, ah…”  Shuichi paused, racking his brain to come up with an excuse to satisfy Clover’s demands.

“We’re just going for a walk.”  Kaede interjected, saving the detective the trouble of coming up with one.  “Kiki’s kind of rattled from the pressure Ryoma put on her, so we thought a walk would help to clear her head.”

Clover’s brow furrowed, the pigtailed girl not buying their cover story.  “Huh?  A walk?  Nice try, what are you really up to-”

“Now Clover, no need to be so distrustful.”  Snake chided.


“Ryoma’s stunt put us all on edge.  I can’t blame Kiki for wanting to get some air, so to speak.”  Snake smiled and nodded at the trio.  “Please accept my apologies on my sister’s behalf.  Go and enjoy your walk.”

“Thanks.”  Kaede smiled gratefully before she and Kiki quietly followed the detective out of the Dining Hall.

“…I think they dodged a bullet there…”  Makoto sighed in relief, though Kyoko’s brow furrowed in skepticism.

“I don’t know if they dodged it, but at least Rantaro bought them more time.”

Mokubo nodded, though his optimism, or lack thereof, made itself clear as he spoke.  “I’m worried about how Ryoma taunted Nee-chan.  She might…”

“Mokubo, that’s crazy!”  Koto interrupted before his sister nodded in agreement.

“Yeah, Kiki would never kill anyone!”

Mokubo sighed, reminding them “I want to believe in Onee-chan too.  But we have to consider that she might actually be tempted now that Ryoma’s offered himself as a sacrifice.  It doesn’t matter that Rantaro stopped him; Ryoma can’t take back those words.”

Everyone looked down, wincing as they realized the truth of Mokubo’s reluctant argument.  Putting his faith in his daughter, the optimistic patriarch spoke up.

“We just have to hope that Shuichi’s plan can be put into effect before anyone does anything reckless.” 

Makoto’s encouragement earned nods of agreement from his family.  With a heavy, combined sigh, they returned their gaze to the TV.

“I swear, I wasn’t even thinking about what Ryoma said!”  Kiki exclaimed as they walked into Shuichi’s room.  “I just…froze, that’s all…”

“Kiki, it’s okay.”  Kaede soothed as she held the girl’s hands.  “I believe you, and so does Shuichi.”

“Yeah, we know you’d never kill someone.”  Shuichi assured her with a smile.

Kiki sighed before she smiled gratefully at her friends.  “Thanks, guys.”

“Okay.”  Kaede released Kiki’s hands before she clapped and turned to the resident detective.  “Shuichi…I was wondering if we needed anything for the plan.”

“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”  Shuichi explained “I might know how to keep watch on the library.”

Kaede’s brow furrowed.  “Weren’t we planning on hiding inside the library and keeping watch from there?”

Shuichi shook his head.  “If we did that, we risk the mastermind running into us.  It’s safer to watch from further away.  We also need hard evidence to convince everyone of the mastermind’s identity…So that’s why…I thought it might be a good idea to set up cameras.”

“Cameras?”  I didn’t even think of that…

“I found some cameras and security sensors in the warehouse.  With some modification, we could combine the two…and have cameras that will detect movement and take pictures.  If we set up a few in the library, we can capture proof of the mastermind.  And we don’t have to be in the library for this to work, so we are less likely to get caught.”

Shuichi, that’s brilliant!  “Th…That’s a really good idea…”  Kaede’s cocked her head, a thought materializing in her mind.  “But do either of you know how to modify a camera?”

Kiki shook her head before Shuichi clarified, “Ah, well…I don’t know how…That’s why…I wanted to ask Keebo.  He’s the most likely among us to have any knowledge of robotics and mechanical engineering.”

“Oh, yeah.  That’s true.” 

“But…I’m not great at approaching people for favors, so I’m having trouble talking to him by myself.”  Shuichi sighed.

“Oh!  In that case, we should ask him together!”  Kaede suggested with a smile.  “What do you think, Kiki?”

“Yeah, he seems nice enough.  I don’t have a problem with asking him for help.”

Shuichi hummed in contemplation before he mused, “Maybe Keebo went back to his room after the whole incident with Ryoma.  We should check there, first.  Ah, but, we should be careful about what we tell him…He might be…it.”

He might be it…?  As in…Keebo might be the mastermind?  Kaede pondered curiously.  I doubt it, but…  “Well, if that’s what you think…”

Shuichi nodded before he opened the door.  “Alright, let’s go.”

“Hm, not a bad idea.”  Kyoko mused.  “The mastermind might not suspect surveillance devices in the library, especially not homemade ones.”

“Yeah, if this works, they can end the game without anyone dying.”  Makoto agreed optimistically.

Their three children nodded in agreement.  Maki soon followed suit, though if one looked into her eyes, they could tell that she was skeptical about that possibility.

“Let’s see if Keebo agrees to help.”  The former assassin suggested before they turned their gaze back to the monitor.

*Ding Dong*

A few seconds passed before Keebo opened the door to his room and stared curiously at the trio.

“Kaede?  Shuichi?  Kiki?”

“Hey, Keebo!”  Kaede greeted cheerfully.

“Ano…”  Shuichi began nervously.  “Can we talk with you privately for a moment?”

“We won’t be long, promise, Keebo.”

Keebo bit his lip in contemplation before he smiled and nodded.  “Sure, come right on in.”

The trio smiled gratefully as Keebo stepped aside to grant them passage.  Once they were in, the robot closed the door behind him.

“So, what did you want to talk to me about?”

“Ano…”  Kaede explained “We have a small favor to ask of you, Keebo.  Right, Shuichi?”

“Y…Yeah.  Actually, there’s something that we want you to make…We found cameras and security sensors in the warehouse, and ah…Do you think you could make cameras that detect movement and take pictures?  As in, it would automatically take a picture if the motion sensor detects something?”

Keebo frowned before he admitted, “Well, strictly on a technical level, yes, it would be a fairly simple process.  But I am curious, what are you gonna use that for?”

“Ah, to…keep Monokuma under surveillance.  We might learn important information.”

Good answer, Shuichi!  It’s not a lie, but it doesn’t give away too much information, either.  “Y…Yeah, exactly that.”  Kaede agreed as Kiki nodded.  “Please, Keebo…We need your help to get everyone out of here.”

Keebo closed his eyes and hummed, contemplating their request.  Without thinking, Kaede got on her knees in desperation.

“Please, Keebo!” Startled, Keebo opened his eyes and stared incredulously at Kaede.  “I really want to get out of here with everyone!  And to do that, I need your help!”  Desperation laced through Kaede’s voice as she pleaded “So…please!  I’m begging you too!”

“K…Kaede…”  Shuichi and Kiki breathed in awe.

They then glanced at each other and smiled.  Sharing a quick nod, they sunk to their knees and pleaded with Keebo.

“Shuichi…?  Kiki…?”  Kaede asked in confusion.

“I’m begging you, too.  We could really use your help, Keebo.”  Shuichi insisted.

“I’m begging you, three.”  Kiki joined in.  “Please…”

“You three…”  Keebo closed his eyes and smiled.  “Getting everyone out of here…if there’s a way I can use my robotic talents to help everyone escape with their lives, I want to contribute.”  He opened his eyes and agreed, “Okay, I’ll do it.”

“What?  Really!?”  The trio beamed, letting out relieved smiles as they stood up.  They then shook Keebo’s hand enthusiastically, stunning the robot.

“Thank you, I owe you!”  Kaede exclaimed excitedly.  “Even after we escape, I’ll owe you forever and ever and ever!”

“I…appreciate the sentiment.”  Keebo replied, flustered by the group’s glee.  “S…So…can I have my hand back now?”

“Oh!”  The trio let go of Keebo’s hand before Kaede bowed.  “Sorry, we were just so happy.”

Keebo nodded understandingly as Kaede stood up straight.  “Now then, do you have the cameras and security sensors?  The sooner I get them, the sooner I can complete them.”

“Not yet, but we can run over to the Warehouse and bring them over in a jiff.”  Kaede replied.  “Shuichi, Kiki, let’s go.”

The trio smiled gratefully one last time at the robot and trio left his room.  Though they were still uncertain whether their harebrained scheme would work, the nonetheless felt rejuvenated by his assistance.

Chapter Text

“Thank Kami…I’m glad we managed to convince him.” 

Kaede sighed as they entered the warehouse.  Her and Kiki’s eyes suddenly widened as they caught their first glance of the room that Snake and Clover had explored. 

“This place is huge!  I hope we can find all the things we’re looking for.”

As Kiki nodded, Shuichi assured them, “Ah, don’t worry, I know where the cameras and sensors are…I’ll go get them.  Kiki, you wanna help me carry some of them?”

“Sure, I’d love to help!”  Kiki agreed ecstatically before Shuichi turned back to Kaede.

“You can wait here.”

“Oh, are you sure?”  Kaede asked. 

As she finished speaking, however, she saw that they were already walking down one of the aisles.   Kaede sweatdropped and sighed in disappointment.

I guess I’ll wait for Shuichi and Kiki then…

She sighed as she started glancing around at the inventory in her immediate vicinity.  She found herself out of her element as she was surrounded by a wide variety of sports equipment, from high jump bars to track and field hurdles to gym mats to remote-controlled helicopters.  Eventually her eyes wandered to a simple wooden box a few steps away.  Curious, the pianist walked over to it and bent over to peer inside.

“Are these…iron balls?  They look like they’re for shot put…”  Her interest piqued, she picked one up and found herself struggling to hold its weight.  The athletes who have to hurl these things are pretty impressive…

“…Kaede?  What are you doing?”

“Oh, Shuichi.”  Kaede exclaimed as she quickly hid the shot put ball behind her.  “You two done already?”

“Yeah, I got the cameras.”  Shuichi confirmed.  “I think three should be enough.”

Kiki held up a multicolored container with a disposable camera visible through the clear plastic, causing Kaede to furrow her brow in skepticism.  “Disposable cameras?  Will these work?”  Kaede asked.

“That’s all they had.”  Shuichi explained.  “But they work, it should be fine.  There’s also photo developing solution here, so we don’t have to worry about that.”

“Well, if you’re fine with them…”

“Yeah…Three cameras should be okay.”  Shuichi then held up a silver and black device attached to a stand.  “Also, here’s a security sensor…When this sensor picks up movement…”  Shuichi then pulled out a small, black remote with a speaker, a red button, and a blue button from his pocket.  “…It triggers this receiver to make a sound.  We should get three of these as well…”

“As huge as this warehouse is, I didn’t expect it to have security sensors in stock.”  At that moment, her eyes sparkled and she raised her right pointer finger towards her back.  “Oh, Kiki, do you want me to carry the cameras?  I can put them in my backpack.  I only have my music sheets and a spare vest, plus those coins we found earlier, so there’s still lots of room inside.”

As Kiki nodded in agreement, Shuichi suggested “Alright…Let’s go talk to Keebo.”

Once Kiki handed the cameras to Kaede, the pianist turned around and knelt.  She then slid her backpack from her shoulders and put the cameras next to it.  As she unzipped the backpack, Kaede’s eyes drooped in skepticism, her lips tugging into a worried frown.

Will these cameras really work?  Even if we take pictures of the mastermind and persuade everyone…What will we do after that?  The mastermind could just smirk and let the game continue.  Can we really protect everyone with this plan?  Will we really be able to escape this place?

“…Kaede?  Is something wrong?” 

Shuichi’s voice shook her out of her thoughts.  Kaede’s eyes drifted upward, finally noticing Shuichi and Kiki already waiting expectantly at the door.  

“We need to go and get these back to Keebo.”

“…Oh, sorry!”

Without another word, Kaede hurriedly shoved the things at her feet into her backpack and zipped it up.  Once she stood up and secured her backpack onto her shoulders, she walked over to them with a smile.

“Alright, let’s go and see Keebo.” She suggested before Shuichi opened the door.

The two girls quietly followed after him as they made their way back to the dormitories.

Mokubo’s brow furrowed as he watched Kaede walk side-by-side with Kiki.  His observant mother caught the way he nibbled the edge of his lip out of the corner of her eye.  She recognized the contemplative look in his eyes as the same one she had when she made an important deduction during her detective days.

“Mokubo, what is it?”  Kyoko asked curiously.  “You seem to be staring rather intensely at Kaede.”

Mokubo bit his lip before he shook his head and assured them, “Sorry, just…lost in thought.”

Kyoko’s brow furrowed, unconvinced by her son’s excuse, but let the matter drop.

“Well, they have the things they need for their plan.”  Makoto commented.  “Let’s see what happens.”

The others nodded as they watched Keebo open the door for the trio.

“Okay…”  Keebo began as Kiki closed the door behind him.  “Please give me the materials so I can commence work on your request.”

“O…Okay…”  Kaede unzipped her backpack and pulled out the three disposable cameras before she handed them to Keebo.  “It’s just these, but…”

“Disposable cameras?!”  Keebo asked in surprise as Kaede zipped her backpack and secured it against her back.

“Are disposable cameras too difficult to modify for you?”

“Not to worry!”  Keebo assured them with a confident smile.  “It’s a little more low-tech than what I’m used to, but I assure you, it will not hamper my ability to make the modifications!”

“Ah, here are the security sensors…”  Shuichi handed the sensors to Keebo, whose eyes seemed to glow in realization.

“So you want me to use these sensors to make the cameras take pictures automatically, right?”

Shuichi nodded.  “I was thinking…the camera could be triggered by the security sensor.  As in, if the sensor detects movement, the receiver goes off and the shutter activates.  That’s how I’d like it to work, if possible.”

“What are you gonna use that for?”  Kaede whispered into Shuichi’s ear as Kiki leaned in to hear their conversation.

“I’m going to set it up on the moving bookcase.”  Shuichi whispered back.  “That way, we can keep watch from anywhere as long as we have the receiver with us.  If someone moves the bookcase, the receiver will let us know, right?  And the camera connected to the sensor will take a picture of whoever moved the bookcase.”

“Oh, I see.”  Kaede whispered back as Kiki nodded.

“Excuse me, what are you two whispering about?”  Keebo questioned, his eyes narrowing in suspicion.   “Are you three making secret robophobic remarks?”

The three of them shook their heads as Kaede assured him “Nothing.”

“I wrote down the details here…”  Shuichi explained as he handed a piece of paper with some handwriting on it to Keebo.

“Two cameras with built-in security sensors that will take photos automatically…And a third camera that will trigger the sensor receiver as it automatically takes a photo.  How soon do you need these?”

“Could you make them by…tomorrow morning?”  Shuichi asked.

“Tomorrow morning, it is!”  Keebo exclaimed excitedly.

“Thanks, Keebo.”  Kaede told him gratefully.  “Alright, Shuichi, Kiki, let’s leave Keebo to his work.”

The trio waved goodbye before they walked out of Keebo’s room, leaving the robot to his work.

“Anyway…I think this will do it.”  Shuichi commented as they regrouped back in his room.  “We just have to wait for Keebo to finish.”  Kaede closed her eyes as she hummed in concentration, causing Shuichi and Kiki to frown in concern.  “…Kaede, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing.”  Kaede assured them as she opened her eyes and smiled.  “I was just thinking about how amazing you are for coming up with this plan, Shuichi.”


Shuichi blushed, causing Kiki to giggle before Kaede told him, “Honestly…when we reunited, I didn’t think you would be that reliable…But look at me now, relying on you like you’re Sherlock Holmes or something.”

“Ah…yeah.”  Shuichi muttered as he averted his gaze, hiding his eyes beneath the end of his cap.

Kiki giggled as she tugged on Kaede’s arm.  “Come on, Kaede, I think he’s flustered enough.  Let’s head back to our rooms, okay?”

“Yeah, sure.”  Kaede smiled and waved at the blushing detective.  “See you later, Shuichi!”

“Yeah…see you later…”  Shuichi muttered, smiling bashfully as Kiki tugged Kaede down the hall and out of view.

Koto and Kiri pouted, causing Makoto to smile in amusement.  “Why so grumpy, you two?  Shuichi’s plan is one step closer to being put into action.  You should be happy.”

“Yeah, if only that pianist Kaede wasn’t flirting with him half the time.”  Koto grumbled as Kiri nodded in a rare agreement with her brother.

“If he should get together with anyone, it’s Kiki!”

“Now Koto, Kiri, you know that Kiki and Shuichi never dated in high school.  With their memories suppressed, it’s only natural that his and Kaede’s old relationship blossomed again.”  It happened with me and Sayaka, too…  Makoto smiled wistfully as memories of the Ultimate Pop Sensation flashed before his eyes.

“Indeed, plus a killing game isn’t exactly the best place to be competing for romantic affections.”  Kyoko pointed out.

“…Yours and Father’s did.”

Mokubo’s flat tone didn’t diminish the embarrassment his remark caused his parents.  Koto and Kiri giggled at Makoto and Kyoko’s rose-colored cheeks.  After a minute, they fell silent and returned their attention to watching the TV.

“Let’s see…”  Kaede mumbled as she wandered the halls.  “What to do…what to do…oh, Rantaro!”

Rantaro’s hand hovered over the door to the gymnasium.  He turned around and waved at Kaede with a smile.

“Yo, Kaede!”

“Hey, Rantaro.  How’s your plan going?”

“Sorry, you know I can’t talk about it.”  Rantaro greeted with an apologetic chuckle.

“Sorry, can’t blame me for trying.”

Rantaro nodded before he sighed.  “Anyway, I decided I needed to clear my head, and I found a soccer ball and some gym clothes in the warehouse.”

Kaede noted the soccer ball in his hand, as well as the blue tank top and brown shorts.  Rantaro looks…good in that gym uniform…ah, what am I thinking?!  Kaede blushed as she admonished herself Get it together, Akamatsu.  “S…So…Are you gonna p…play soccer?”

“Figured it would be a nice way to get my brain pumping again.  Plus I have the feeling that I played soccer before.”

“Oh, c…can I play?”  Kaede asked nervously.

“Ah, sure, why not?”  Rantaro smiled and nodded.  “It’d be more fun than just kicking the ball in the goal repeatedly.”

“Okay!  Let me just get one of the uniforms from the warehouse and change real quick!”

Rantaro smiled in amusement as Kaede ran to the warehouse, excited to play soccer with the mysterious green-haired man.

“Well, Kaede, you fit that gym uniform rather nicely.”  Rantaro complimented.

“Thanks.”  Kaede giggled, her cheeks flushed pink.  “So…how do we play soccer with two people?”

“Well…obviously we can’t really play soccer with only two people…but we can simplify it.”  Rantaro pointed to the nearby goal set up near the wall.  “You see that net over there?  One of us can guard it as the goalie while the other tries to kick it into the net.  Then when one of us scores, we can alternate.  Sound good?”

“Sure, I’ll guard first.”

“Alright then…”  Rantaro set the ball down while Kaede walked over to the goal.  “You ready, Kaede?”

“Yep, go ahead!”  She challenged confidently.  “Give me everything you’ve got, Rantaro!”

“Haha, okay!  Here I go!”

Whoa!  Kaede’s eyes widened as Rantaro swiftly ran closer to her.  He keet the ball just ahead of him, his foot lightly tapping just underneath the center of the ball. 

He’s faster than I thought.  I gotta keep my eye on the ball!  Once he stops, I can…HUH?!

Kaede blinked as the ball flew behind her against the net.  “Sorry, guess I had more skill at this than I thought…”  Rantaro laughed as Kaede stood there, dumbfounded.  “Alright, your turn?”

…I’m in trouble…  Nevertheless, Kaede smirked and caught the ball as Rantaro threw it to her.  “You’re on, Rantaro!  I’m totally gonna pay you back for that point!”

“Then I’d better keep my eye on the ball.”  Rantaro laughed, taking his position at the goal.

As he crouched his knees, Kaede walked a few feet away from him.  Once she turned around, she placed the ball on the ground.

“Alright, Kaede, give me your best shot.”

Hmm…what to do…maybe if I just kick it from here, it’ll be fast enough that he won’t see it coming…Yeah!  I’ll kick it hard and fast just underneath the center, just like he did with me!

Kaede narrowed her eyes and drew back her foot before she kicked as hard as she could.  She smirked as her foot connected with the center of the ball.  It was sent flying towards the net, only for her eyes to widen as Rantaro caught it with his foot.

He grunted before he smiled at her.  “Not a bad kick, Kaede.”

“Oh…thanks…”  Kaede shook away her blush as she slapped her cheeks.  Get it together, Akamatsu!

Rantaro’s laugh broke her thoughts as he kicked the ball back to her.  “Why don’t you try again?”

…I’m in trouble…

Free Time Event #3: Kaede & Rantaro

Kaede pouted, depressed over her loss to Rantaro.  I can’t believe I couldn’t get the ball past him one time!

Rantaro’s laughter shattered her internal grumblings as he sat down next to her and offered her a bottle of water.  “Here, you worked up a sweat.”

Thanks for reminding me… 

She sighed and snatched the water bottle before she opened it.  Once she lifted it to her mouth, she allowed the cool liquid to soothe her throat.  She felt the cool water refresh her before she removed it from her lips.

“…Thanks…”  She muttered as she closed the water bottle.

“No problem…sorry about earlier.  I didn’t think it would be that one-sided.  I appreciate that you played with me, though, so thanks for helping me to blow off a little steam.”

Kaede turned her head and softly smiled at him, feeling her competitive spirit fade in the face of his gratitude.  “Happy to help.”

Rantaro nodded before they both sat in a comfortable silence.  Nary a word passed between them, the two teenagers enjoying the peace and quiet.

“Kaede…”  The pianist turned to face him, a curious expression on her face.  “I remember you saying that we should all be friends after we get out.  You’re serious about that, right?”

“Yeah, of course!”  Kaede confirmed.  “Despite these circumstances, I’m happy to have met everyone…I’ll always treasure that.”

“…I see.”

Kaede frowned at the sight of Rantaro’s hesitance, confusing her.  “H…Huh?  You don’t seem too enthusiastic about the idea, Rantaro.”

“No, it’s not that…”  Rantaro assured her.  “I would be really happy if I could become friends with you and everyone else.  But…” Rantaro sighed.  “I don’t know what my own past is.  What if it’s…not something to be proud of?  Or some kind of useless past…Or even worse, a past that would make everyone hate me.”

“Useless?  Make everyone hate you?  How would a past like that even work?”  Rantaro…are you afraid of being accepted by everyone?

“I dunno.”  Rantaro shrugged.  “I could be an infamous serial killer for all you know.”

“S…Serial killer?  I doubt it.  That would mess up this whole killing game.”  Kaede pointed out.  I refuse to believe someone as sweet as Rantaro could be a serial killer, even if he’s a little secretive at times.

“It could be the reason why my memory was wiped, y’know?”

“Oh!  But the opposite could be possible too!”

“The…opposite?”  Rantaro repeated, stunned by Kaede’s counterargument.

“Maybe you’re a mystery writer and if your memory wasn’t wiped, you’d solve all this!”

“…But Shuichi’s a detective, and he didn’t get his memory wiped.”

Well, that’s not exactly true, but I can’t exactly tell him that…  Kaede blushed, recalling their mutual realization that they had once shared a romantic attraction when they were kids.  “I…I’m sure there’s a reason for that…Maybe you’re better at deducing than Shuichi is?”

“Haha, oh come on!”  Rantaro laughed.  “Don’t be mean to Shuichi!”

“Y…You’re the one who made me say it!”  Kaede shot back as her cheeks puffed in a pout.

“Okay, you got me.  Sorry, I know I’m teasing you.”

Kaede sighed in exasperation as her blush faded.  “Anyway, I don’t know what you’re so worried about…No matter what your past is, I still want to be friends with you.  The reason I’m spending time with you has nothing to do with your past, Rantaro.”

“…Thank you.”  Rantaro replied with a grateful smile.  “I also want to get out of here soon, to become friends with you all, y’know?”

“Yeah!”  Kaede beamed as she exclaimed “I’m looking forward to it!  Once we escape this place, I wanna know more about everyone, not just their pasts…But also what food they like, what kind of books they read, how the spend their weekends…Oh!  And I definitely wanna know what kind of music everyone likes!”

“Yeah…Honestly, I can’t even imagine what sort of stuff everyone’s into.”

“That’s why we all should talk more.”  Kaede insisted.  “We may live far apart, but these days, there are lots of options for keeping in touch.”

“But it would be nice to meet up in person every now and then.”  Rantaro mused.

“I know, I’ll invite you to my next concert!”  Kaede exclaimed.  “You and everyone else!”

“…I’m looking forward to it, Kaede.”  Rantaro accepted.  “I want us all to meet again…and I’ll work hard to make that happen.”

“It’s not just you, though.”  Kaede pointed out.  “We all need to work hard together to make that happen.”

“…Yeah.  You’re right.  Thanks for inspiring me, Kaede.”

Kaede blushed, stammering in embarrassment at Rantaro’s compliment.  “Oh, w…we should…get this stuff back to the Warehouse.”

“Sure, I’ll bring the ball back, you just change out of your uniform in your room.  If you give it to me, I’ll wash both of ours before I bring them back.”

Kaede nodded and walked out of the room, her blush fading as she smiled.  That’s right.  One person’s strength may not be enough, but there are 16 of us here!  And I feel like…Rantaro and I have gotten closer…

Kaede’s blush returned as she returned to her room to change.

As the evening announcement played, Kaede curled up under the blankets.  She closed her eyes as she faded into slumber.

Ryoma gave us a scare and terrified poor Kiki, but thanks to Shuichi and Keebo, we’re going to expose the mastermind!  It’s just a matter of time…I just hope that their capture really does lead to a way out…I believe in you, Shuichi, and I believe in your plan.  I just hope that’ll be enough.

“Well, it appears all we can do now is wait until tomorrow.”  Kyoko commented.  “We’ll see if Shuichi’s plan succeeds once he gets the cameras from Keebo.”

Makoto nodded before turning to his three children.  “Alright, you three, you know the drill.”

The three children got up and followed Maki to their bedrooms.  Right as they left, Monokuma appeared on his stage for his standard comedy routine.

“I hear kids these days don’t even say thank you anymore.  I blame the parents!  They haven’t properly taught them the true meaning of thank you!  It’s very important to express gratitude to someone who has done something for you.  It will make that person feel happy, and they might do something special for you later.” 

“In other words, thank you isn’t just about conveying gratitude…it also conveys the expectation of a favor in the future.  So the more you say thank you, the more you can use the people around you.  So always say thank you to people, and make them do lots of stuff for your benefit!”

“…That’s not remotely how thank you works.”  Makoto commented.  “It’s just an expression of gratitude, not a way to curry favors!”

“Indeed, I certainly wouldn’t take advice from him.”  Kyoko agreed before she turned off the TV.  “Alright, I’ve had enough of the bear.  Let’s head to bed, shall we?”

“Sure.”  Makoto agreed.

He and Kyoko walked to their bedroom, feeling cautiously optimistic about Shuichi’s plan to catch the mastermind in the act.

Chapter Text

Kaede groaned in annoyance from Monokuma’s morning announcement.  As the taunting greeting faded from her ears, Kaede yawned and rubbed her eye with her fists.

“Another day in this stupid killing game…I just hope Shuichi’s plan works…Shuichi’s plan…”  Her eyes widened, the girl now fully awake as she swung her legs excitedly over the bed.  “That’s right, Shuichi should be getting the cameras from Keebo today!”

She hopped off the bed and walked to her closet with a spring in her step.  She threw the doors open and pulled out a familiar shirt, vest, and skirt.

“Alright, we’re getting out of here today, I can feel it!”

“Hey, Kaede!”  Kiki greeted, waving the pianist over once she had walked into the Dining Hall.

“Good morning, Kiki.” 

Kaede walked over and sat two chairs apart from Kiki, leaving room for a certain detective.  She glanced around, seeing some of the students already populating the table.  Her brow furrowed as she failed to see the young detective.

“Hey, where’s Shuichi?”

“I haven’t seen him yet.”  Kiki shrugged.  “I just came here straight from my room.”

“Sorry I’m late, guys.”  The two girls turned their heads to see Shuichi sitting down next to them as Keebo took a seat at an empty chair.  “I was just getting the supplies from Keebo.”

As he spoke in a hushed tone, he gestured to the small, metallic box underneath his chair.  The two girls nodded in acceptance.  The trio didn’t talk about it for the rest of breakfast, not wanting to alert the mastermind to their plan.

“How did it go?”  Kaede asked as they walked though the halls, making sure to keep her voice down.  “Did Keebo finish the cameras?”

“He was working all night…Anyway, here’s the result.”  Shuichi opened the lid and took out a modified disposable camera.  “Two cameras that will take a picture when the sensor detects movement…and this one will take a picture and trigger this receiver.”  Shuichi smiled as he put the camera back in the box and held out the security sensor.  “Of course, they’re turned off right now, so they aren’t taking any pictures…”

Kiki and Kaede nodded in comprehension before Kaede realized, “Since they’re disposable cameras, we’ll have to manually wind the film, right?”

“Yes, Keebo thought of that.  He told me that the cameras will wind up automatically.”

“So once they’re set up, they’ll take pictures every time the sensor is triggered?”

Shuichi nodded in confirmation.  “He also modified them so that they’ll be completely silent, to not attract attention.”

“They’re completely silent…this is perfect.”  Kaede exclaimed.

“It needs to be…these are absolutely essential to our plan.”

“And do these cameras have flashes?”

“Yeah, they still have flashes on them, but I switched them off.  They shouldn’t be a problem.  But, we need to make sure they don’t get turned on by accident and alert the mastermind.”

“Yeah, I’ll be careful.”  Kaede promised.

“Me too.”  Kiki agreed.

“I’m impressed, though.”  Kaede commented with a satisfied grin.  “Keebo modified them to our specifications.”

“Alright, I’ll tell you a little bit about this classroom before we set up in the library.”  Shuichi decided as they stopped in front of one of the classrooms.

“Huh?”  Kaede and Kiki wondered.  “Tell us about this classroom?”

“Yes, I think this is the perfect place to keep watch after we set up the cameras.”

“That’s fine, but why this classroom?”  Kaede asked as he opened the door and began to walk inside.

“Because it’s right around the corner.”  Shuichi explained before he turned to the young amnesiac.  “Kiki, turn that corner over there.  You can see the side door to the library, right?”

Kiki’s brow furrowed, but nevertheless, she turned around and walked to the nearby corner.  As she peered towards the adjacent hallway, her eyes lit up at the sight of a simple brown door.

“Hey, you’re right!”  She called back as she jogged back to the classroom.

“We can keep a lookout for anyone who goes to the library from this direction!”  Kaede realized.

Shuichi nodded before he added, “There’s one more reason I chose this specific classroom.”

One more reason?  Kaede pondered before her eyes glanced up at a silver, square vent cover above the doorway.  “Is this…a vent?”

Shuichi nodded in confirmation.  “It’s connected to the library in the basement.  You’ll recognize the smell immediately.”

“The smell?”  Kaede wondered as Kiki curiously took a chair from the desk and moved it in front of the air vent.

She climbed up and sniffed the vent before retching in disgust.  “Ugh, you’re right!  It smells like musty old books!”

Kaede sweatdropped as Kiki stumbled off the chair.  “Does this lead to the library?”

“It’s probably a vent to control the humidity in the library.”  Shuichi deduced.  “Did you ever notice a duct in the hallway?  It leads here.”

“But a vent in a classroom?  That’s an odd design choice for a school…”  Then again, everything about this school is odd…

“This vent is the other reason I chose this specific classroom to keep watch.”  Shuichi explained.  “This vent is just big enough for someone to be able to fit, so we should watch this carefully too.”

“I don’t think I could fit through there…”  Kaede commented skeptically.  “Well, maybe I could but it’d be tough.”  Kiki nodded in agreement.  “Well, I guess this is the perfect spot to keep a lookout.”

 “Anyway, it’s time.  We should set up the cameras now…”

It’s finally time to set our plan in motion…  Kaede thought excitedly as she and Kiki nodded.  I’m getting nervous…Ngh, my heart is racing.

With that, they followed Shuichi out of the classroom and to the library.

“Not a bad plan.”  Kyoko commented, smiling with pride at the ingenuity of her informal protégé.

“Yeah, hopefully with them keeping a lookout combined with the cameras, they’ll be able to catch the mastermind red-handed.”  Her husband agreed.

“I hope so…”  Koto muttered.

“Yeah, I want Kiki to come home.”  Kiri agreed with her brother, causing Makoto to smile at his youngest children.

“We all want Kiki to come back home.  Hopefully with this plan they’ve concocted, she’ll be able to do so and we can help her remember us.”  Makoto assured them. Koto and Kiki smiled and nodded, while Mokubo stared suspiciously at the screen.

“Mokubo?”  Kyoko asked curiously.  “What’s the matter?”

“…Nothing, Kaa-san.”  Mokubo answered.

Kyoko’s brow furrowed, but she let the matter drop as the family watched Kiki follow Kaede and Shuichi into the library.

“So where did you want to place the cameras?”  Kaede asked once Kiki shut the door behind them.

Shuichi glanced around, the gears turning in his head as he analyzed the best placement spots for their components.  “Let’s aim the one linked to the receiver at the moving bookcase.  If we place the security sensor on the bookcase itself, then when it opens…the receiver will let us know.”

“And if we place the camera to face the moving bookcase…”  Kaede trailed off, the gears turning in her head.

“Yes, the camera should capture the exact moment the mastermind moves the bookcase.”

“Then where are we putting the other two sensors?”

“Well, there are two entrances to the library.  The front entrance to the long hallway, and the side entrance to the short hallway…Let’s aim one at each entrance.  That way, we’ll have pictures of everyone who enters the library.”

“But how about over there?”  Kaede pointed to a vent above one of the bookcases.  “Didn’t you say a person could fit through the vent that connects to the classroom?  Wait, shouldn’t we make sure a person could actually fit through it?”

“I think it’ll be fine, since we’ll be keeping watch in the classroom…”  Shuichi responded.  “But we should investigate it a little more, just in case.”

But we can’t reach that high.  Kaede realized before she hummed in contemplation.  We need something to stand on.  She glanced around until she spotted a movable silver ladder resting against one of the bookcases.  Oh, I can probably use this ladder.

As she walked over to the ladder, Kiki turned to Shuichi.  “I’ll keep an eye on her and make sure she doesn’t fall.  If you try to, well…”

Shuichi blushed as he stammered “Oh, r…right…I’ll…just be over there…”

Shuichi walked away while Kiki approached the ladder, ready to catch the climbing Kaede in case she lost her balance.

“Whoa…”  Kaede felt slightly dizzy as she reached the top of the ladder.  “Now that I’m up here, this is pretty high.  It’s kinda scary…”

“Do you wanna switch?”  Shuichi called from his spot away from the two girls.

“Nah…I’m fine…”  Kaede nervously assured him before she turned her attention back to the vent.  Anyway…this is the vent.  There’s a grate covering the vent, so I don’t think anyone can go through…Can I take the grate off?  “Urgh, there we go!”  Kaede grunted as she removed the grate.  “Oh, the grate came off pretty easily.”

“Did you break something, Kaede?”  Kiki asked.

“Ano, no…I didn’t break it…”

Kiki stared skeptically at the pianist, causing her to sigh in exasperation.  Kaede pushed the grate into the vent and latched onto the bottom edge with her hands before she pulled herself up.  Her feet hovered just above the top of the ladder as she peered inside the vent.

“So how’s it look?”  Kiki asked.  “Could a person fit in there?”

Kaede hummed, concluding “It would be pretty difficult, but you might be able to crawl through.  I can’t really get to the vent with all these books in the way, though…”

“Well, we’ll be able to see the entrance to the vent in the classroom…”  Kiki pointed out.  “So that should be okay, right?”

“Just in case, I’ll stack more books around the vent so no one can get through.”

Kiki sighed as Kaede began to stack the books within her reach, stacking one on top of another.  The columns of books slowly got taller and taller as they got closer to the vent.  Once she was satisfied, Kaede descended down the ladder while Kiki held her hands up to catch the pianist in case she missed a step.  Once she descended the ladder and Kiki stepped away, Kaede closed her eyes, deep in concentration.

“…Kaede?”  A concerned Shuichi asked as he walked over to the two girls.  “What’s wrong?”

He and Kiki continued to stare in concern at the pianist before she opened her eyes once more.  Kaede’s purple eyes narrowed in determination as she spoke with conviction. 

“This will work…This will definitely work!”

“…Huh?”  Shuichi asked, startled.

Kaede beamed, exclaiming “I think this plan might actually protect everyone!  Yeah, it definitely will!  This plan is perfectly composed like Chopin’s ballades!  I actually really like complicated contraptions, like Rube Goldberg machines and stuff.  So I’m positive this will work!  This setup is perfect!”

“Y…You really think so…?” Shuichi stammered nervously, though still touched by her faith in him.

“Of course!  We’ll definitely catch the mastermind, and then we’ll all escape!  So let’s hurry and set up the cameras!”

“Alright!”  Kiki exclaimed, pumped up and excited as her eyes sparkled.  “Let’s get started!”

Kaede and Shuichi smiled at her enthusiasm before the detective suggested “Yes, so, I think it would be a good idea to set up the cameras between books, so that…”

“Oh, hold on.”  Kaede interjected.  “I had an idea while I was on top of the bookcase…What if we place a camera up there?  I’m sure the mastermind wouldn’t notice it.”

“Kaede, that’s brilliant!”  Kiki cheered, only for Shuichi to burst their bubble.

“Ah, but with all the books stacked on top…I don’t know if there’s room for the camera.”

“Then I’ll test it out while you prepare the sensor on the bookcase.  I’ll organize the books on top of the bookcase and see if I can make room for a camera.  That way, we won’t waste any time, right?”

“…Just let her, Shuichi.”  Kiki sighed as she held up her painted nails.  “Once she gets an idea into her head, there’s no talking her out of it.”

Kaede pouted before Shuichi stammered, “Y…Yeah…that sounds like a good idea.”

“Alright!”  Kaede cheered, pumping her fists in the air.  “Then let’s do it!”

As Kaede moved the ladder and started climbing, Shuichi walked over to the bookcase with the sensor in hand.  Kiki meanwhile followed Kaede in case she fell.

There are way more books here than I expected…  Kaede mused as she looked up at the intimidating piles of books that towered over her.  The top of the bookcase is covered end to end with cluttered stacks of books.  Nevertheless, Kaede refused to let the daunting task intimidate her.  “This is nothing!”

Kiki watched as Kaede diligently moved from one bookshelf to the next, lining up the books in organized columns as best she could.  Eventually though, even the determined pianist felt overwhelmed by the monumental task she had volunteered for.

“Geez…there are too many books…It might be too hard to set up a camera here…”

“I thought so…”  Kiki sighed, only for Kaede to redouble her efforts.

“Wait!  I just gotta try a little harder!”

“…Kaede, I know you don’t like to admit defeat, but really, it’s alright…”

Kiki sweatdropped as Kaede simply ignored her and continued to organize the books on the shelves.  The heterochromatic girl shook her head and left the pianist to her self-imposed task.

“Geez…these books are so heavy!”  Kaede complained as she picked up a rather heavy, thick book.  “What is this, an encyclopedia?”

“Ano, Kaede?”  Kiki hollered as Kaede began to flip through the book in her hand, her purple eyes scanning it curiously.  “Is this really the time to be reading a book…?”

The startled Kaede looked at Kiki over her shoulder and smiled bashfully.  “Sorry…I get distracted easily when I’m organizing things.”

As Kaede placed the encyclopedia on top of one of the stacks, Kiki stared skeptically at now tidied-up shelves.  “Looks like there are too many books after all.  You can’t really make space, can you?”

Kaede sighed, muttering “It’d be easier if I could move them to the ground, but that would look suspicious.”

“Yeah…We have to minimize any risk of the mastermind noticing the cameras.”

“Then I guess it’d be better to put the camera between the books, like Shuichi suggested.”

“…Yeah.”  Kiki agreed, frowning sympathetically at the defeated pianist.

“Besides…”  The two girls turned their heads to see Shuichi walking over to them.  “If we put them on top of the bookcase, the angle wouldn’t quite reach…”

“And here I thought it’d be a good idea!”  Kaede groaned in frustration.

“Shuichi, why didn’t you tell us this before?”  Kiki demanded.

“Ah, I just forgot, sorry.”  Shuichi frowned sheepishly, averting his gaze.  After a nod of acceptance from the heterochromatic girl, Shuichi continued.  “So, about the places to put the cameras…We decided to place the security sensor on top of the moving bookcase…and the camera linked to it will be set up right here.  That way, it will capture the moment the mastermind moves the bookcase.”

“We’re gonna place the other two cameras near the exit and entrance, right?”  Kaede inquired, their frustration with the detective’s forgetfulness forgotten.

“I think here…and this bookcase is good.”  Shuichi decided as he gestured to two different bookcases.  “They would have to pass by here no matter which door they used.”

“Yeah, sounds good.”  Kaede agreed.  “Then I’ll set up the camera that’s connected to the security sensor.  I’ll set it carefully so the camera has a clear shot when the mastermind moves the bookcase.”

“I already set up the security sensor on top of the bookcase.”  Shuichi informed them.  “And Kiki and I will set the cameras near each door.”

“Oh, I almost forgot…”  Shuichi pulled two rolls of duct tape out of his jacket and tossed them to the surprised girls.  “I brought duct tape from the warehouse.  You can use this.”

“Thanks.”  Kiki and Kaede replied gratefully.

With that, the two girls went to work, taking a camera from the box Shuichi had placed on the table when they came in.

“Alright, that should to it.”  Kaede sighed as she finished taping the camera to the bookcase.

“I’m finished too.”  Kiki announced as the trio regrouped.

“Good, now, no matter which entrance they use, the mastermind will be caught on camera.”  Shuichi announced.  “And if they move the bookcase in front of the hidden door, our sensor will detect that…”  Shuichi held the receiver in his palm as he finished “…and signal this receiver.”

“And at that moment, the camera attached to the sensor will snap the critical picture.”  Kaede closed her eyes.  Yeah, this should do it.  No doubt about it.  This plan will probably work.  No…not just probably.  It’ll definitely work!

“Alright then, the final step…Turn the sensors on.”

“Oh, right.”  Kaede realized after Shuichi’s comment.  “We should turn them on before we leave.”

Shuichi nodded and warned “There’s a ten second delay as it starts up, so we have to leave quick.”

“Got it.  It’d be a waste of film if it took our pictures.”

Kiki and Kaede each went to their own cameras and turned them on while Shuichi activated the sensor on top of the bookcase.  Without another word, they all raced to the closest door, Kiki shutting the door behind her just in time.

“Now we wait for the mastermind to show themselves…”  Kaede muttered as the trio regrouped in the hallway.

“The mastermind probably won’t come down here until around nighttime, when everyone’s less likely to be up and about.”  Shuichi deduced before he turned to the two girls.  “I’ll stake out the classroom.  Why don’t you two relax for now and we can meet up after dinner?”

“Sure, I’m down for that.”  Kiki agreed.  “What about you, Kaede?”

“Okay, I guess that sounds good.  Besides, we don’t know when the mastermind will use the hidden door.  It’d be a waste for us to wait around for hours.”

“Okay, I’ll see you guys later, then.  I’ll message you on our e-Handbooks if the receiver goes off earlier than expected.”

“Okay, thanks for the heads-up, Shuichi.  See you later Kiki!”

“Bye Kaede, bye Shuichi!”


With that, they all went their separate ways.  Their nerves tensed with excitement as their plan buzzed in the back of their minds.

We’re almost there…once Shuichi’s trap goes off, we’ll be home free!

“Well, all they can do is wait.”  Kyoko sighed as she watched her daughter separate from her partners.

“Yeah.”  Makoto nodded in agreement.  “Hopefully Kiki will be able to relax before she meets back with Kaede and Shuichi.  It won’t be any good if she’s all tense when her mind needs to be the sharpest.”

“Well, we’ll just have to wait until dinner time.”  Maki stood up and told them, “I’m going to drive over to my babysitter’s and pick up Haruki.”

Makoto and Kyoko nodded understandingly as Maki got up and walked out of the living room.  At that moment, his stomach growled, causing his wife and children to smile knowingly.

“Alright, what do you say we get some lunch, you three?”  Makoto suggested.


Kyoko swiftly, yet softly interrupted Koto and Kiri.  “I’ll keep an eye on how things are here while your father makes lunch for the three of you.”

Without another word, the three siblings reluctantly nodded and stood up.  Once they followed their father into the dining area, Kyoko leaned back into the sofa.  She forced herself to relax as she watched Kaede wander back to her room.

Chapter Text

We’ve already had lunch, but it’s still gonna be a while before I meet up with Kiki and Shuichi…  Kaede lamented as she wandered the dorms.  I’ve gotta find some way to occupy myself until then…

Kaede hummed in contemplation until her eyes sparkled in realization.  She turned towards the entrance to the sauna, a brief burst of excitement temporarily distracting her boredom.

I’ve got it!  Kaede decided.  I’ll go take a hot tub in the sauna!  I don’t think I’ve tried that yet!  Hopefully the hot water works…

“Oh, Tsumugi!”

The blue-haired cosplayer turned around and waved with a nervous smile.  “Oh, hey, Kaede.  What are you doing here?  Are you here to rejuvenate your HP in the sauna too?”

“You got me!”  Kaede giggled.  “I needed to calm my nerves, and I was feeling a little bored, so I figured I’d take a soak in the sauna for a bit to pass the time.”

“Oh, I see…I just came here cause I thought soaking in a sauna for the first time would be fun…”  Tsumugi frowned and offered, “But if you really need it, I can wait until you’re done…”

“Nonsense, hey, I’ve got an idea!  Why don’t we take one together?”  Kaede smiled at the nervous cosplayer.  “There must be more than enough room in the bath, and it’s not like Shuichi or any of the boys are joining us.  So what do you say?”

“Are…are you sure?”  Tsumugi stammered, her cheeks flushing pink.  “But my body is so plain!  Surely a beautiful, buxom heroine like you would be embarrassed to have such a plain-looking girl in the bath with you!”

“Tsumugi, I don’t care what you look like under your clothes!”  Kaede smiled reassuringly as she placed her hands on Tsumugi’s shoulders.  “All I care about is two girls being able to unwind together while we soak in hot water!”

“Well…okay…I suppose it’s okay then.”

“Don’t worry, it’ll be fun.”  Kaede opened the door to the bathhouse and gestured for Tsumugi to enter before her.  “Alright, let’s go have fun in the tub!”

Makoto and Kyoko sighed in relief as the screen faded to black.  They let their hands fall from their squirming children’s eyes, which caused them to groan in disappointment.

“Hey, what happened to the TV feed?”  Koto whined.

“Yeah, I want to see Kiki!”  Kiri pouted cutely.

“But…Nee-chan wasn’t even in the last scene…”  Mokubo pointed out, earning glares from his younger siblings.

The two parents sweatdropped before Kyoko cleared her throat.  “The mastermind probably didn’t want to show Kaede and Tsumugi changing.”

“Yeah, he did say when I was distracting him that he didn’t want to show any X-rated exploits.”  Makoto recalled.

“Well, the mastermind does seem like they want to make this as authentic to the originals as possible.  We should keep this in mind for later though.”

Makoto nodded before the feed came back on.  “Oh look, Kaede and Tsumugi are already in the bath.  It should be safe to watch.”

Kyoko nodded cautiously as both parents kept their hands ready in case any inappropriate content appeared.  Fortunately, the two girls merely sighed in relaxation as all but their heads and necks were submerged in the sauna.

Free Time Event #4: Kaede & Tsumugi

“Ah, this is relaxing…”  Tsumugi sighed as the warm water soothed her muscles.

“See, I told you!”  Kaede giggled as she playfully splashed Tsumugi.  “And for the record, you looked kinda sexy when we were changing.”

Tsumugi blushed, stammering as she felt embarrassed by the compliment.  “Oh, me, but I’m so plain!  Y…You’re just trying to make me feel better!”

“Hey, I wouldn’t lie!”  Kaede rebutted, though it did little to aid Tsumugi’s self-confidence.  I should probably change the subject; this is just making Tsumugi even more embarrassed…but what to talk about…oh, I know!  “Hey, Tsumugi.”  Tsumugi turned to Kaede, her curiosity causing her blush to recede.  “I don’t know much about cosplay…but it’s basically like bringing a fictional character to life, right?”

Tsumugi nodded hesitantly.  “Yeah, well…that’s correct.”  Kaede hummed, causing Tsumugi to panic.  Kaede frowned at the cosplayer’s uneasy frown, noting the nervous bulge in Tsumugi’s throat that the blue-haired girl forced herself to swallow.  “Wh…What?  Why do you look so bothered?”

Kaede opened her eyes and smiled reassuringly at Tsumugi, shaking her head.  “I don’t really get why you’d go through all that just to bring a character to life.  Well, I guess I always wanted to be a cool hero or princess.  I can see why you’d wanna wear their clothes.  As a kid, I wanted to dress like a princess.”

“Yeah, that’s right!”  Tsumugi exclaimed gleefully.  “That’s why people want to try cosplaying!”

“Sorry, I don’t.”

“You don’t!?”  Tsumugi shrieked in shock.  “H…How mean…You betrayed my feelings!?”


It was now Kaede’s turn to panic.  Her purple eyes widened as her lips parted to form a perfect circle.

Tsumugi shakily pointed at Kaede as she accused, “You don’t…understand cosplay after all.  Geez, I thought it was just plain obvious.”

“What do you mean, I don’t understand?”

“Oh, don’t worry about it.  I’m not mad or anything.”  Kaede sighed in relief, her shoulders sagging from their tense formation.  “Ano…why do I want to become fictional characters?  If I had to give a reason…ano…because they’re there?”

“Why are you treating it as if it’s like climbing a mountain…?”

Kaede stared incredulously at Tsumugi, raising an incredulous eyebrow.  “It’s the same feeling.  It’s not a rational reason.  You’d feel the same way if someone asked you why you like piano, right? Kaede”

“No, I’d be able to explain.”

“You’d be able to explain!?”

Tsumugi stared at Kaede with shock as the pianist nodded.  “Of course, it’s fun to play the piano.  But the real reason I play is to see people smile.”

“Wh…What a pure answer!”  Awestruck tears welled in Tsumugi’s eyes.  “Those are, without a doubt, the words of a main character…!  A plain background character like me can’t endure your heroine aura, Kaede.”

“Heroine aura!?”

“Wait, that’s it!  I’ve got it!”

“What…?”  Kaede asked, baffled.

“The reason why you aren’t interested in becoming fictional characters…It’s…because being a pianist of your caliber is already pretty fiction-like to begin with!”

“But I’m real!”  Kaede retorted, causing Tsumugi to look down in disappointment.

“…I wanted you to say, Wh…What did you say!? right there.  Like you promised.”

“What promise!?”

“Aaah!  You really are pure!”  Tsumugi held her hands in front of her eyes dramatically.  “You’re too bright and pure for a corrupted denizen of the night like me!  Aaaah, bright!”

Kaede sweatdropped.  “Shouldn’t cosplayers be way flashier than that!?”

“Kaede, we’re pretty in tune.”  A now calm Tsumugi lowered her hands and smiled softly at the pianist.  “I didn’t think we’d hang out for so long.”

“You’re pretty in tune yourself, Tsumugi…”  Kaede complimented, causing Tsumugi to nod in agreement.

“Yeah, I think communication like this is necessary for cosplayers…”

Kaede hummed, tepidly agreeing “I guess that is true for cosplayers…”

The two fell silent, closing their eyes.  They sighed in relaxation as the water flowed around them, washing away all their worries for the time being.

I’m glad I was able to get Tsumugi to open up…I think we got a little bit closer…  The two of them soaked silently in the water for a little bit longer before Kaede suggested, “Hey, Tsumugi, maybe we should get out now.”

“Yeah, I don’t want to become a prune.”  Tsumugi agreed.  “Besides, I think it’ll be dinner time soon.”

That’s right, I’m meeting up with Shuichi and Kiki in the classroom after dinner!  Kaede thought, reminded of her mission as she and Tsumugi prepared to get out of the sauna.

A now dry Kaede walked into the dining hall.  She absentmindedly combed her fingers through her slightly damp hair as she took her seat next to Shuichi.

“Any sign from the library?”  She whispered into his ear once Kirumi had served her dinner.

Shuichi shook his head.  “No, the library’s been really quiet.”  Shuichi informed her.  “I’ve been circling it since we set up the cameras, and nobody’s so much as come near it.”

Kaede nodded and went back to her dinner.  She engaged in mindless chatter with him and Kiki before Clover spoke up.

“Hey, what are you three muttering about over there?”

“Oh, it’s nothing, really…”

“Clover, leave them alone.”  Snake chided gently.  “Whatever they’re talking about, it’s none of our business.  For all we know, they’re just talking about what book to read in the library.  Besides, you’ve already bothered Kiki enough for one day.  Don’t go bothering her or her friends, okay?”

The trio momentarily froze, anxious about Snake’s remark.

“…Fine…”  Clover muttered.

The trio let out internal sighs of relief, grateful for Snake’s unknowing interference.  Their previously tense muscles visibly relaxed with the knowledge that they were in the clear.

“Oh, yeah.”  Shuichi answered.  “Kaede was flipping through a book while we were in the library today.  I had to tell her to put it down.”

Great excuse, Shuichi!  It’s not a lie, but not the full truth, either!  Kaede thought as Snake nodded in acceptance.

“Alright, it looks like they’re about to start their stakeout.”  Makoto observed as Shuichi, Kaede, and Kiki got up and walked out of the Dining Hall.

“Alright, let’s hope they can pull this off.”  Kyoko prayed as Maki, Mokubo, Koto, and Kiri closed their eyes in a rare moment of silent prayer.

Without another word, they opened their eyes and watched as the trio entered the classroom.  They felt their hearts beat faster in their ribcages as they prayed for the teenagers’ success.

Kaede felt a wave of anxiety overwhelm her as she left the door slightly ajar.  My heart feels like it’ll beat out of my chest at any moment…

“Let’s keep the door open a little.”  Shuichi’s advice shook her out of her nervousness.  “So we can see anyone going to the basement.”


“Ah…Kaede?  Kiki?”  Both girls turned to him as he spoke nervously “About the…security sensor receiver…”  He held the remote out to them in the palm of his hand.  “Could one of you hold on to it, please?  I just feel like…you’d be better suited for that than me.  Ah, there’s a power switch on it.  Make sure you don’t turn it off by accident.”

Both girls shook their heads, Kaede speaking for both of them.  “No…you hold on to it, Shuichi.  You’re the one who came up with this plan…and…I trust you.”

“Yeah, I trust you too, Shuichi!”  Kiki smiled, nodding at the nervous detective.

“Also, Shuichi…You just said we’re better than you at something.  Why do you say things like that, anyway?”

“Yeah, Shuichi, why?”  Kiki, now curious, inquired.  “I’d be a nervous wreck without your strategy and Kaede keeping us together!”

You could stand to gain a little more self-confidence yourself, Kiki…  Kaede sweatdropped.

“…What?”  Shuichi asked, shocked by the dual compliments.

Kaede sighed and told him with a serious smile, “I guess it’s good that we decided to do this stakeout together, because I wanted to talk to you about that.”

“Talk to me…?”

Kaede nodded and told him, “It’s probably none of my business, or Kiki’s for that matter, but…I think you should be more confident.”

“No, really…”  Shuichi humbly denied.  “I’m not…even a real detective.”

“What do you mean?”  Kaede and Kiki asked, shocked.

Shuichi sighed as his shoulders slumped in resignation.  “…I didn’t even really want to be a detective.  My uncle runs a detective business…I would sometimes help out, as an apprentice.  It was usually just…cheating couples…background checks…but one day, I came across a murder case, completely by chance…I solved it before the police did.  They called me the boy detective.”

“Wow…!”  Kiki breathed, awestruck by Shuichi’s lucky case.

“Even so, it’s still amazing that you solved a murder case.”  Kaede complimented.  “Most people can’t do that.”  You should be proud of that!

“…I wonder.”  Shuichi muttered, causing the two girls to frown in concern.  “I wonder if, ah…it was really a good thing I solved that case.”

Shuichi averted his gaze, a forlorn expression in his eyes as he recalled that fateful day.  His voice wavered, pain bleeding into it as he relived the trauma of his most famous, or infamous, case.

“The look on his face when we caught him…I can still see it, even now.  He stared at me…like he hated me more than anything else in the world.  Later, I heard that…he murdered the victim to get revenge for his family.  The victim was abusive…they drove the culprit’s relative to suicide.  People told me…the culprit was right to do what he did.  The victim deserved it.  But I led the police right to him…of course he hated me…”

So that’s why he doesn’t take any pride in being a detective…  Kaede realized with a frown.  “It’s not like you took sides…you uncovered the truth…that’s what detectives do, right?”

“Yeah…I uncovered the truth.  Which makes it my fault.  And I’m still suffering the consequences.”  Shuichi hid his eyes beneath his hat as he muttered, “Ever since that one…stupid case…I’ve been so afraid of uncovering the truth…I’ll never forget those eyes.  The hatred…the way they…stared into me…ah, anyway…that’s why I have trouble looking people in the eyes sometimes…”

So that’s why he wears that hat…  Kaede realized in sympathy.

“So that’s why you never looked me or Kaede directly in the eye?”  Kiki pondered before Shuichi nodded in confirmation.

“…Kaede, Kiki, I’m not a real detective.  What kind of stupid detective is afraid of finding the truth?”

Kaede and Kiki looked down at Shuichi’s trembling hands, causing them to frown in concern.  They turned to each other and, with a smile and a nod, each held one of Shuichi’s hands.

“Kaede…?  Kiki…?”  He beathed in confusion as he looked up at their smiling faces.

“I wish there was a piano here.  I would play you a song to help you cheer up!”  Kaede replied with a contemplative hum.  “A pretty song to play for you…Oh, like Clair de Lune by Debussy!  It’s a soothing song that calms your heart, like the moon’s reflection on water…”

Shuichi looked down at Kaede and Kiki’s trembling hands that held his own.

“You noticed, huh?”  Kaede commented.

“Yeah…We’re shaking, too.”  Kiki told him.  “But…we’d be a mess if you weren’t here.  We wouldn’t have been able to do anything…we would’ve been so lost…”

Kaede nodded, turning her smile to the detective.  “We’re glad you’re here with us, Shuichi.  With you by our side, we feel like we can stand up to anything.  You give us the courage we need to take on the mastermind.”

“So, please…”  Kiki pleaded.  “Be more confident.  We believe in you, so you should definitely believe in yourself.”

Shuichi bit his lip, looking down at his feet for just a moment.  Lifting up his head, he nervously looked into their eyes as best he could.  “…Okay.  I’ll try.  I don’t know if I can, but I’ll try…”

“Yup, that’s a promise.”  Kaede vowed before they released his hands.  An awkward silence permeated the room before Kaede changed the subject.  “Also, I think you would look way cooler if you didn’t wear that hat.”

Shuichi blushed, averting his gaze and causing Kiki to giggle.  “Wh…what are you talking about?”

“What?  I’m serious here.”  Kaede giggled along with Kiki, increasing Shuichi’s embarrassment.  “Once we’re out of here, I want you to show me what you look like without the hat, okay?”  Shuichi merely averted his gaze, causing Kaede to sigh. 

“Geez…I just wanna see everyone smile.  I love seeing the expressions people make when they’re enjoying themselves.  That’s why I play piano…to see the smiles on everyone’s faces.  And that’s why we need to expose the mastermind and end this dumb killing game!”  Kaede pumped her fists excitedly as she exclaimed, “So we can smile with everyone else!”

“Why don’t we keep a lookout?”  Kiki suggested, helping to give Shuichi a break.

“Good idea, Kiki.  I’ll grab one of the chairs and stand near the vent, just in case.”  Kaede agreed before she began moving one of the chairs.

“Okay, I’ll peek out the door.”  Kiki volunteered.  “Shuichi can keep his eyes and ears on the receiver.”

Shuichi nodded, unfurling his palm.  He stared intensely at the remote in his palm as they waited for the mastermind to spring their trap.

“I remember that story…”  Kyoko recalled as her husband nodded.

“Yeah, I remember when his uncle told us that tale after he was accepted into Hope’s Peak Academy.”

Makoto and Kyoko both hummed, recalling the promise they made to his uncle to help him grow as a detective.  They never imagined that the boy’s enrollment would lead to him being the one person who could put a stop to a killing game before it could begin in earnest.

“Well…if this plan works…perhaps he’ll find that confidence…”  Mokubo mused, earning smiles from his parents.

“Well, only one way to find out.”

“Agreed.  Let’s keep watching.”  Kyoko concurred with her husband as the Naegi family watched the TV screen.

“See anything, Kiki?”  Kaede asked.

“Nope, the hallway’s clear.  Will the mastermind even…”

At that moment, a loud blaring sound pierced their ears.  The two girls stared at Shuichi while they covered their ears.

“Ah!”  Shuichi gasped as he pulled the receiver out of his pocket.

“Sh…Shuichi, the receiver!”  Kaede exclaimed.

“Someone moved the bookcase!  Hurry, Kaede!  Kiki!”

“Coming, Shuichi!”  Kiki cried as they both sprinted out of the classroom, leaving Kaede in the dust.

“W…Wait for me!”  Kaede shouted before she leapt off the chair and chased after Shuichi and Kiki.

Her head felt like it was pounding with every heartbeat as she raced to catch after them.

This is it…we can’t fail…not now!

“Alright, the mastermind sprung their trap!”  Koto exclaimed excitedly.

“Yeah, now Kiki will capture them, and she can come home!”  Kiri agreed enthusiastically.

Makoto and Kyoko bit their lips anxiously.  They knew from past experience that it was too soon to celebrate just yet.

“Mother…Father…?”  Mokubo turned his head to look at them with concern.  “What’s wrong?  Onee-chan’s gonna escape now…right…?”

Kyoko noted the slight skepticism in his voice despite her son’s attempts to be hopeful.  “Let’s just…keep watching.”

The three siblings furrowed their brows in confusion.  Nevertheless, they kept watching as the trio approached the library’s main entrance.

“…Kaede, Kiki, let’s go inside.”  Shuichi suggested as they came to a halt in front of the double doors.

“Yeah!”  Despite her exclamation, Kaede’s hands shook as she balled her hands into fists, bracing herself for their confrontation with the mastermind.  “Are you ready, Kiki?”

Kaede turned her head to see Kiki’s nervous nod.  “Yeah…let’s get out of this place!”

Kaede nodded and took a deep breath before she grabbed the two doors.  It’ll be fine.  Everything will work out.

Shuichi placed his hand on Kaede’s left hand, while Kiki placed hers on the pianist’s right.  Their shared comfort steadied Kaede’s hands, giving her the resolve to pull the doors open with her friends.  Their anxiety gone, they strolled into the library, just in time for the secret bookcase to close.

“Where is…the mastermind…?”  Shuichi wondered as they walked towards the bookcase with gusto.

Kiki turned her head at that moment, causing her eyes to widen in horror.  She threw her palms against her mouth, silencing her gasp as best she could.

“Kiki?”  Kaede asked worriedly.  “What’s the…”

Kaede gasped as Shuichi turned his head, his eyes also widening in shock and horror. 

Lying at their feet was a shot-put ball, stained with blood.  And merely a meter away was the collapsed form of Rantaro Amami, lying on his side as blood pooled beneath his head.

No…it can’t be…someone’s dead…Rantaro’s dead!

Chapter Text

A dark silence permeated the living room as everyone stared with horror at Rantaro’s corpse on the screen.  All of them were struck hard by the sight of the deceased Amami.

“…Mom…”  Koto breathed.  “He’s not…really dead…is he…?”

“…Dad…” Kiri bit her lip before she denied “He can’t be dead…can he…?” their elder brother finally voiced what was running through their minds.

“…Rantaro’s dead.”  Mokubo muttered, causing his younger siblings’ eyes to widen as their faces paled in horror.

“…I knew this would happen…”  Kyoko reluctantly admitted.  “Once Monokuma introduced a motive, someone was bound to crack.”

Makoto nodded, flashing back to how Sayaka’s resolve had shattered after the motive DVDs were shown.

“I hate to admit it, but there is one upside.”  Everyone turned to stare at Maki incredulously before she elaborated.  “I’m not suggesting we should be happy that Rantaro died, but it does mean whoever killed him can claim the First Blood Perk, and they can escape and get help.”

The Naegis looked down at their feet, the thought leaving a sour taste in their mouths. 

“So…”  Koto began with a reluctant hope in his voice.

“…Kiki gets to come home…?”

Makoto and Kyoko frowned, skeptical that their escape would be that easy.  In the end, they quietly looked back at the TV screen and watched Kaede, Shuichi, and Kiki’s reactions to the dead body in front of them.

“Oh, Rantaro…?”  Kaede gasped in shock.

“What in the world!?”  Shuichi pondered.  “What the hell is going on!?”

“Ah…aah…aaahh…”  Kiki couldn’t hold in her screams of terror as she let out a wail of horrified grief, bursting into tears.  “GYAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!”

Right at that moment, Ace, Gonta, and Seven burst into the library.

“Wh…What happen?”  Gonta demanded as he ran up to them.  “Gonta hear scream…Huh!?”  Gonta trailed off, his eyes widening in horrified shock as he spotted Rantaro’s bloody corpse.  “Waaaaaaaahhhh!!!  B…Blood…!  So much blood!”

“Huhhhh?  Isn’t that Rantaro?”  Ace asked as he approached the body.  “What’s wrong with him?”

“…He’s dead.”  Seven deadpanned as he tugged at his beanie.

“Whaaaat?  He’s dead?  Well, that’s unfortunate.”

“How can you be so calm!?”  Gonta shrieked at Ace.

While the two bickered and Kaede tried to calm Kiki down, Shuichi knelt down in front of Rantaro and placed his hand close to his mouth.  “…We’re too late.”  Shuichi sighed as he stood up, shaking his head.

“T…Too late…?  You mean…dead?”  Gonta breathed in horror.

Even as Kaede tried to keep Kiki from having a breakdown, the pianist herself felt her vision begin to swirl.  It took all her self-restraint to keep her wobbly knees from buckling.

Why was Rantaro here?  She pondered.  And…

Her gaze wandered to one of the monitors hanging from the walls of the library.  Her brow furrowed in confusion as it was completely silent, emitting neither video nor audio.

Does that mean…the mastermind is dead?  Yeah, that has to be it.  This means, Rantaro was…

“This means the killing game has started, huh?”  Seven commented once things had calmed down.

“What?”  Kaede exclaimed in confusion.

“K…Killing Game!?”  Kiki shrieked.  “Then someone killed Rantaro and…”

“Wait, maybe not.”  Kaede interjected.

“What do you mean, maybe not!?”  A still panicked Kiki asked.

“Maybe the killing game hasn’t started…Maybe…this just ended it.”

“Ended it?”  Seven asked skeptically.  “What do you mean?”

“…The mastermind.  Rantaro was the mastermind.”

“What!?  The mastermind!?

Shuichi nodded, explaining “…I don’t know how he died, but…”

*Ding Dong Bing Bong*

“What?”  Shuichi gasped as they all turned to the nearby monitor. 

A still image of Monokuma, sipping a glass of wine at a desk, appeared.  His voice echoed in their ears, his childlike glee causing them to shiver in disgust. 

“A body has been discovered!  Everyone, please gather in the library!”  Immediately after the image disappeared from the monitor, the real Monokuma appeared among them, as if by magic.  “What a relief.  A murder took place just before I got bored!”

“M…Monokuma!”  Kaede gasped.  “But how!?”

“I gotta admit, I was a little nervous there cuz the killing game hadn’t started yet.  Geez…you guys really know how to keep me in suspense.”

“H…How?”  Kaede stammered.  “The mastermind controlling you is…”

“Hm?”  Monokuma cocked his head in confusion.  “By mastermind, do you mean the real mastermind who’s controlling me?  And you think it was Rantaro?”  Monokuma cackled in amusement.  “Ahhh, what an imagination!  Of course that’s wrong!”  Kaede felt all the color drain from her face as Monokuma explained, “If the mastermind had died, this killing game would be over.”


“The victim was Rantaro Amami, a total who cares?!  Nothing more, nothing less.”

“Wh…What are you talking about?”  She turned to Shuichi and pleaded in desperation, “Shuichi, what does he mean?  What’s going to happen…?”

Shuichi bit his lip nervously, mulling over all the information before he finally spoke.  “He…Monokuma is wrong, isn’t he…?  Isn’t Rantaro the mastermind?”

“Yeah!  We came here as soon as the sensor went off, right?  No one else was in the library…Rantaro was the only one who could’ve moved the bookcase…Wouldn’t that mean he was trying to use that hidden door, and that he was the mastermind?”

“But if he was the mastermind…why is the killing game not over…?  Why…?  Why is he dead…?”  Shuichi sighed in defeat, failing to come up with a good hypothesis.  “It’s no good, I don’t know, I don’t know…”


At that moment, Shuichi’s eyes widened as he gasped in realization.  “Ah!  The pictures!  We can check the pictures!  I’m sure that the cameras we set up in the library will give us a clue…”

At that moment, the other survivors barreled into the library.  Their eyes widened in horror at the grotesque sight in front of them.

“Kyaaaaaaaah!”  Tsumugi shrieked.

“Rantaro!?”  Keebo exclaimed.  “But…why!?”

“I see…So this ended up happening after all…”  Snake muttered as Clover whimpered in fear, clinging to his sleeve.

“Hmph…How ironic.”  Ryoma commented, shaking his head.  “The guy who wanted to live ended up dead…and the guy who wanted to die survived.”

“So…can someone explain the meaning of all this?”  Kirumi requested.

“Nah.  An explanation isn’t necessary.”  Everyone turned to face the gleeful Monokuma.  “Thanks to the First Blood Perk, there won’t be a class trial, so that’d just be a waste of time.  With that said…if you’re the blackened who killed Rantaro, raise your hand!”

“The one who…killed Rantaro?”  Tsumugi squeaked.

“Tch…That dumbass!”  Sokyu muttered.  “How dare he go and get himself killed!”

“Who the hell did it!?”  Lotus demanded, only for Monokuma to giggle.

“Puhuhu…Don’t get so angry.  Send of your graduating classmate with warm farewells.”

Everyone stared suspiciously at the others, wondering who the blackened who killed Rantaro was.  To their surprise though, nobody raised their hand.

“Puhuhu…I see how it is.”  Monokuma giggled.  “The blackened has no need for the First Blood Perk.  They would rather do a class trial.”

“Excuse me?”  A confused Kirumi asked, only to be ignored by Monokuma.

“Very well, then.  I will give the blackened what they want and hold a class trial!”

“W…Wait…”  Kiki stammered.  “What the heck’s going on?”

“Like I said before, I’m gonna hold a class trial so you can find Rantaro’s killer.  Get it right and only the blackened will be punished.  But if you get it wrong…Everyone besides the blackened will be punished.”

Everyone felt their faces go green as Kaede muttered, “Everyone besides the blackened…Everyone…”

“This outcome is much worse.”  Seven muttered.  “The culprit should have just stepped forward.”

“But before we can hold the class trial, you gotta investigate first.”  Monokuma revealed.  “If you don’t investigate the murder, you won’t be able to argue over who did it.”

“So you’re saying we need to do the investigation ourselves, too?”  Ryoma questioned.

“Of course!  The investigation is what makes the killing game so good!  You guys are gonna investigate this crime and uncover the truth!  Puhuhu…The blackened’s handiwork has made this much more entertaining than I expected…All right!  The trial will begin soon, so please give the investigation your all!”

With that, Monokuma waddled out of the library, leaving the shocked participants alone with their monumental task.

“Well…that backfired…”  Makoto deadpanned as Mokubo’s brow furrowed in confusion.

“Why…?  Why didn’t the culprit take the First Blood Perk?  It was a Get out of Jail Free Card, no strings attached.”

“Indeed, it defies all logic.”  Kyoko agreed with her son. 

She closed her eyes, humming in contemplation.  The others stared curiously at her as the gears turned in her head, her somewhat rusty detective mind at work. 

“Still, they must have had a reason, or else they would have stepped forward.”

Makoto nodded in agreement before he said grimly, “Now Kiki and the others have to survive the Class Trial.  Let’s hope that Shuichi’s detective skills are up to snuff.”  Though even if they survive…it’s no doubt going to traumatize them all…

Makoto and Kyoko shuddered, recalling the aftermath of their own trauma that came with being survivors of two killing games.

All of them prayed for Kiki’s survival as they watched the ensuing discussion between the surviving participants.

“Let’s get going then!”  Clover exclaimed.

“W…Wait…”  Gonta objected.  “Where do we start?”

“We’re looking for the truth of Rantaro’s death, right?”  Ryoma pointed out.  “If we can’t figure out who the culprit is, then we’ll be annihilated for sure.”

“I…I don’t wanna be annihilated!”  Kiki whimpered.

“Do not fret.”  Kirumi assured the panicking amnesiac.  “Just imagine this as something out of a police drama or detective manga.  Right, Shuichi?”


“I’m in trouble…I’ve never watched police dramas or read detective manga!”  Keebo panicked.

“But…is it true?”  Tsumugi wondered.  “Is one of us really the culprit?”

“…The odds are one in fifteen.”  Sokyu pointed out.  “That shouldn’t be hard to figure out.”

“That’s not the problem here!”  Seven argued.

“Wh…Who’s the fuckin’ culprit, huh!?”  Teruaki demanded, pointing at random people.  “Is it you!?  Or maybe it’s you!” 

“You cannot choose that way!”  Gonta objected before Teruaki’s finger settled on the scared heterochromatic girl.


“Huh?!  Me…?!”

“Yeah, that’s right!  You’re the culprit, aren’t you?!”

“No, I’m not!  I’m just a normal girl!  I didn’t do anything wrong, so why is this happening to me?!”

“Wait…Wait, stop!”  Shuichi shouted.  “We can’t do this!  We can’t go back and forth accusing each other!”

“Yeah!”  Kaede fiercely defended as Kiki clung to her for support.  “What proof do you have that Kiki’s the culprit?!”

“I’ll tell you why…she had motive!”

“Huh?  A motive…?”

“Yeah, remember how she bawled that first day about wanting to go home?  I bet she finally cracked and killed Rantaro, then when Monokuma asked for her to raise her hand, she chickened out.”

“No…”  Kiki cried.  “I’d never…”

“Quit lying and tell us the truth!  You killed Rantaro, didn’t you…?”

“Calm down.”  Snake interjected.  “You have no proof at the moment that she did it.”

“You…”  Teruaki growled at the blind man.  “You’re actually…?”

“I’m not defending her if that’s what you’re wondering.”  Snake explained “I have no proof that she’s innocent, but I also have no proof that she’s guilty either.  It wouldn’t do to condemn someone without definitive evidence.  Keep your suspicions if you wish, but until I have proof to the contrary, I will give her the benefit of the doubt.”

Teruaki grunted, but didn’t contest the matter any further.

“For now…”  Shuichi continued, getting everyone’s attention.  “We need to trust each other and start a serious investigation.  If we all lose our trust in one another because of this…it’s all over!  We have to believe in each other and investigate this case.”

“Investigating is the same thing as not trusting each other.”

Shuichi shook his head at Teruaki and rebutted, “No, it’s completely different from what Monokuma wants us to do.  He wants us to throw accusations at one another, and lose all trust in each other…And we…can’t let him get what he wants.  We need to investigate this murder.  Not because we don’t trust each other, but because we do.”

Everyone turned to Shuichi, stunned by his unusually passionate speech.  Kiki sniffled, finding the courage to let go of Kaede as she wiped the tears from her eyes.  Both girls blushed as they felt awestruck by the detective’s unified speech.  Feeling everyone’s stares, Shuichi began to sweat nervously.

“Ah…did I…say something wrong?”

Kaede and Kiki giggled before the pianist explained, “You were just so…direct and assertive.”

“Ah, no, I just…said what was on my mind…”

“You really are a detective!”  Kaede exclaimed, her spirits lifted by the power of Shuichi’s words.  “Now that we need to investigate, you’re becoming super reliable!”

“I agree with you too, Shuichi.”  Kiki smiled at the detective.

“Gonta isn’t smart.  Not sure Gonta can be of much help.  But Gonta will do his best for everyone!”

“I will work hard with my brother’s guidance.”  Clover vowed.  “I’m much happier alive than dead anyway.”

“As novice investigators, logic dictates that we work together rather than give in to paranoia.”  Keebo commented.

“If this is what everyone desires…then I shall give this task my all.”  Kirumi agreed.

Kaede sighed in relief.  I’m glad.  No one’s given up yet.  Yeah…of course they haven’t.  I can’t change what has already happened.  All I can do is what must be done.  Otherwise…Rantaro died for nothing.  I have to do it.  I won’t give up.  We’ll all escape from here!  I’ll make sure of it!

“So, let’s get started.”  Keebo suggested, causing Tsumugi to reluctantly nod.

“We need to do this.  So poor Rantaro won’t have any regrets…and so we can survive.”

“Yes…”  Shuichi agreed.  “Let’s find the culprit who killed Rantaro.”

“You’re right!”  Kaede and Kiki agreed enthusiastically.  “Let’s do it!”

Thank you, Shuichi…  Kaede thought gratefully.  So much has happened in such a short time, and I haven’t been able to keep up with everything…But I know that I need to fight back against this class trial to protect everyone!

“Hmm…This isn’t quite the mood I was expecting, but…”  Kaede and Kiki shrieked before Monokuma continued, “It’s okay!  At least now you guys seem like you’re getting into it!”

“You again!?”  Lotus shrieked.  “What are you doin’ here!?”

“Puhuhu…Don’t be so crude.  I’ve come to bring you all a wonderful present.”

“This is giving me the heebie-jeebies.”

“Dun dun dunnnn!”  Monokuma ignored Lotus and threw fifteen tablets to the other students.  “A notebook that will kill anyone whose name is written in it!”

“Could it be!?  The Death N…”

“Whoops, my bad.”  Monokuma cut off Tsumugi.  “It’s a Monokuma File.”

“You…did that on purpose, didn’t you?”

“The Monokuma File is a detailed report that summarizes all the info about the dead body!  But there’s no info that would point to the blackened, cuz that would ruin the trials.  I dunno, maybe you guys’ll find it useful since you’re not experienced investigators, y’know?”

“Pfft, Monokuma File?”  Lotus spat.  “Like hell am I gonna believe something he made.”

“Whether you believe it or not, it would still be prudent to examine its contents, no?”  Kirumi pointed out.

Yeah…I think we should read it.  Kaede agreed in her mind as she stared down at the tablet in her hands.  This file has all the info about the victim?  I wonder what it says.

She tapped on the screen, causing two pictures of Rantaro to appear along with a black and purple table filled with biological information.  Kaede took a deep breath before she began to read its contents.

The victim is Rantaro Amami…  She tapped the screen once more, showing a screenshot of his corpse, a closeup of his head wound, and a small paragraph to the side.  The victim’s body was discovered in the library.  The estimated time of death is 9:10 p.m.  The victim was subjected to blunt force trauma to the back of the skull…resulting in cranial fractures and immediate death.  No other injuries were detected.

Kaede sighed as she and the others looked up from their tablets, having absorbed the meager information presented to them.  She frowned, unable to help the feeling of dissatisfaction at the lack of available information.

It doesn’t say whether or not he’s the mastermind…Well, that’s obvious…But the killing game is still going on…so I’m gonna assume he wasn’t, right?  But if Rantaro wasn’t the mastermind…then who is?

“I know it’s a little late, but…seeing this makes it real…Rantaro…is really dead.”  Tsumugi shuddered.

“This is the mastermind’s fault…”  Kaede muttered, narrowing her eyes as she scowled in anger.  “The mastermind killed Rantaro…”

“…Mastermind?”  Keebo asked, confused.  “I’m sorry, what are we talking about?”

“Kaede…Please explain what is going on, and spare us no detail.”  Kirumi politely requested, causing the pianist to nod.

“Yeah, I will…”  Kaede took a deep breath and began their story.  “You see, after the escape plan failed, Shuichi told me and Kiki that he found a hidden door behind a bookcase in the library.”

Sokyu glared at Teruaki and scolded “I told you that you should have investigated the library.”

“Hey!  How was I supposed to know there’d be a hidden bookcase?”

“Clearly you would have found it, if you had bothered to actually check…”

“Enough.”  Kirumi spoke with authority, causing the two men to silence their bickering.  With a heavy sigh, she urged “Kaede, continue, please?”

Kaede nodded and picked up where she left off.  “Shuichi suspected that one of us could be the mastermind.”  Kaede’s eyes drooped as everyone started staring suspiciously at each other with even greater intensity than before.  Great, Shuichi warned me what could happen if I blabbed, but we couldn’t avoid it anymore…

At that moment, Shuichi approached her and placed a hand on her shoulder.  He smiled reassuringly before he explained, “I sprinkled some dust on the door’s card reader, and after I saw it had been wiped off, I set a trap to catch them in the act.”

“So we got some cameras and a security sensor from the warehouse and asked Keebo to modify them.”  Kiki interjected.

“I see…so that’s what you wanted to use them for.”  Keebo mused before Kaede recovered.

“After dinner, we staked out in one of the classrooms until the sensor went off.  We rushed down here to catch the mastermind, and we found Rantaro’s body.”

“I see…”  Kirumi mused.  “So that is what happened.  I was not aware you two had planned such a thing.”

“But…why would you keep something so important a secret form us?”  Ace asked, somewhat hurt that the trio had acted with such secrecy.

Ryoma shook his head at the man before he explained, “Once we knew one of us was the mastermind, we’d start fighting over who it was…”  He turned to the trio and deduced, “That’s what you three were afraid of, wasn’t it?”

“Y…Yeah…That’s right…”  Kaede admitted, unable to stomach the guilt festering in her stomach.

“But if there are cameras, won’t this case be solved really easily?”  Clover pointed out.

“We need to check the cameras right now!”  Snake suggested urgently.  “The culprit should be in the pictures.  It’ll be case closed.”

“Alright, let me go get the cameras…”  Shuichi walked away towards one of the bookshelves, causing the others to watch as he began to take down the camera attached.

“How dare Kubota accuse Kiki of killing someone!”  Koto ranted angrily.

“Yeah!”  Kiri agreed with her brother.  “She’d never kill anyone!”

Mokubo nodded in fervent agreement with his younger siblings while Makoto and Kyoko frowned.  As much as it disgusted them to admit it, they knew from firsthand experience that even the nicest of people could be pushed into killing under the right circumstances.  They prayed that their own daughter hadn’t yet reached that breaking point.

“Let’s see what the cameras show.”  Maki suggested.  “Shuichi’s just retrieved the last of them.  Hopefully the contents will exonerate Kiki from suspicion.”

The others nodded and turned back to the screen.  They stared nervously as Shuichi returned to the group, cameras and duct tape in hand.

“Okay, I’ve got them.”  Shuichi smiled with pride as he commented, “It was hard removing the camera that Kaede set up, she really taped it down well…”

“Well, I really didn’t want that camera to fall, since it was aimed at the moving bookcase.”

Shuichi smiled before he set the cameras down on the nearby table.  “Here.  It’s these three cameras.  Now, we just have to develop the film…”

“Allow me to perform that task.”  Kirumi volunteered before she took the cameras.  “Consider it my part to play in this investigation.  If you need me, I shall be in my room developing these.”

Before anyone could say anything, Kirumi walked out of the library.  Kaede bit her lip, staring down at her shoes.

“Kaede…”  Shuichi uttered nervously.  “I know you’re worried, but you can trust me.  We just have to be patient.”

“That’s not all I’m worried about…”  Grateful as she was for Shuichi’s attempts to cheer her up, Kaede’s frown didn’t change.  “I thought this whole thing would be over once we exposed the mastermind…But now…we’re just in a bigger mess.  A mess…we have to see through to the end.”

“Ah…Kaede?  Kiki?”  Both girls turned to face Shuichi as he nervously asked, “I…have a proposal for you.”  Their brows furrowed in curious confusion as Shuichi’s cheeks flushed pink.  “If it’s alright with you…could we keep working together during the trial?  Like we’re doing now?”

“Shuichi?”  They asked, surprised by his request.

“I know I’m just an apprentice, but…I think I can help you, as a detective.  No, I…I want to help you.”

Kaede beamed, exclaiming “Of course!  With you at my side, it’ll be like having 100 people helping me!”

“Me too!” 

Kiki smiled gratefully, glancing back at Teruaki with a frown.  The man merely glared back at her, causing her to let out a heavy sigh before she turned back to her friends.

“Teruaki’s already convinced I did it, and he’s probably not the only one suspicious of me.  So…it’ll be nice, knowing I have you in my corner.”

“…Thank you, Kaede, Kiki.”

At that moment, Kaede took Kiki’s hands and smiled reassuringly at the nervous girl.  “Don’t worry, Kiki.  Wish Shuichi in our corner, we’ll prove your innocence before you know it.”

Kiki giggled gratefully at the pianist and detective, nodding with an air of faith in her friends.  An exasperated sigh drew their attention, ruining the mood.

“I don’t care about this mushy stuff, so let’s just get started already.”  Sokyu interrupted.  “And try to take this seriously, okay?  Our lives are on the line.”

“Before we start, I’d like to suggest that we not investigate by ourselves.”  Seven advised.

“Huh?  Why?”  Gonta asked, confused before Ryoma clarified.

“If we let the culprit work by themselves, they might try and destroy evidence, right?”

“Oh, you’re right…Since the culprit is one of us…”  Tsumugi lamented.

“Indeed, if each of us watches the other, no one will be able to hide any evidence.”  Snake concluded.

“I don’t intend to suggest anything that would further arouse suspicion, but…”

“No, that’s logical!”  Keebo interrupted.  “Please speak your mind, Seven!”

“It’s not something you should be proud to say…but I guess we don’t have a choice.”  Lotus sighed.  “After all, if we don’t find out who the culprit is, we’ll all be killed.”

Yeah…We have to do it.  Kaede looked at the others around her, smiling as she saw a spark of resolve ignite in their eyes.  Once we expose the mastermind, we’ll be able to escape…We can definitely do it!

Investigation Start!

“Okay, with Kaede and Shuichi helping her, hopefully they’ll be able to clear Kiki’s name.  After all…”  Makoto glanced at his wife with a nostalgic smile.  “You did when I needed you, and you’re the one who trained him.”

Kyoko blushed before she shook her head modestly.  “You cleared your own name, Makoto.  Hopefully, this trial will reignite Kiki’s detective instincts.”  She smiled proudly as she recalled “Like you said, I trained both of them.”

“I know she will.”  Makoto assured her before they turned their gaze back to the screen.

They watched intently as Kaede led the investigation, hoping that the pianist would lead everyone to the truth and save their daughter.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t long until the survivors split into groups and left the library, leaving only Kaede, Shuichi, and Kiki to investigate the crime scene.

“Let’s check the library for clues, and remember, leave no stone unturned.”

Kaede and Kiki nodded at Shuichi’s direction.  The detective turned to look at the amnesiac girl, frowning at the furrowed brow above her heterochromatic eyes.

“What is it, Kiki?”

“Oh, it’s just…something’s bothering me…”

“Bothering you?”  Kaede frowned worriedly as she asked, “Are you still upset about what Teruaki said earlier?  He doesn’t know what he’s-”

Kiki shook her head in an attempt to dispel Kaede’s worries.  “No, it’s nothing like that, though I am worried about how many people will believe me…”  Kiki sighed.  “More importantly though, I’ve been thinking…Why did the culprit not step forward and take advantage of the First Blood Perk?”

“What?”  Kaede asked, startled that she hadn’t thought to ask herself that question sooner.

“I mean…the culprit probably killed because they wanted to ensure they survived, so it is odd that they would not step forward.”

“True…I wonder what that means…”

“I can think of several possibilities, but the worst case scenario is…”  Kaede and Kiki felt their blood run cold as Shuichi deduced, “The culprit’s objective wasn’t to survive, it was to kill everyone here.”

“E…Everyone?!”  The two girls shrieked in horror.

Once she calmed down, Kiki realized “That would explain why they would forgo their survival in favor of a class trial.”

“But…doesn’t that seem like a bit of a stretch to you?”  A skeptical Kaede pointed out.

“Well, if the culprit is also the mastermind, then it’s certainly possible.”

“W…Well, true…Killing us all does seem like something the mastermind would do.”  Kaede pushed the thought aside as they approached the bookcase.

“It doesn’t seem as if anything has changed since we set up the cameras…”  Shuichi observed as he gazed up at the stacks of books.  “The books that you stacked up haven’t moved.”

“Oh, you mean the ones I stacked to keep people from going through the vent.”  Kaede nodded.  “Yeah…those have been left alone.”  Her gaze then shifted to the ladder leaning against the adjacent bookshelf.  The moving ladder I used to reorganize the books on top of the bookcases.  Nothing out of the ordinary here…

“Hey, Kaede, Kiki…do you two remember what we saw when we came in here?”

The two girls nodded at Shuichi as Kaede answered, “Yeah, I remember.  We saw the moving bookcase close on its own, right?  No one even touched it, so how did that happen?”

“Actually, it has to do with how the bookcase works.”  Kaede and Kiki watched as Shuichi pulled the bookcase back, revealing the hidden door.  “Take a look at this.  If I let go of the bookcase…”

Kaede and Kiki’s eyes widened in surprise as the bookcase closed automatically.  “Oh!  It closed on its own!”  Kaede exclaimed, causing Shuichi to nod in confirmation.

“The bookcase is set up like an automatic door.  It closes after a period of time…It makes perfect sense when you think about it.  If it didn’t close on its own, you wouldn’t be able to put the bookcase back after you went inside.”

“I see…”  Kaede realized.  “The bookcase has to close on its own once you go through the hidden door.”  She closed her eyes and concentrated, feeling like there was something she was still missing.  “But wait…If the bookcase closes itself after you enter the hidden door…Oh!”  Kaede gasped, beaming in epiphany.  “Maybe the reason why the bookcase closed itself…was because the mastermind was hiding just past the hidden door!”

“Kaede, that’s brilliant!”  Kiki exclaimed gleefully as Shuichi held a finger to his chin in contemplation.

“After killing Rantaro, they ran through the hidden door…It certainly is possible.  Let’s check that now.”

“Huh?  How do we check it?”  Kaede wondered.

“The dust on the card reader, remember?”

“Oh yeah, that’s right!”  Kiki exclaimed.  “You set the dust as a trap earlier!”

Shuichi nodded as he moved the bookcase again to reveal the hidden door once more.  “Alright, let’s see…”  He muttered as they approached the card reader.

“Huh?”  Their brows furrowed in confusion as Kaede observed “The dust is still there.”

“It looks like the card reader wasn’t used.  That means the mastermind didn’t hide here.”  Shuichi told the dejected girls.

“What if the mastermind replaced the dust after they used the card reader?”

Kiki sweatdropped at Kaede’s hypothesis as Shuichi shook his head.  “No, I remember exactly where I put the dust.  This hasn’t been moved at all.”

You remember the exact placement of the DUST you placed?!  Kaede thought with incredulous awe.

“I think it’s safe to assume the mastermind did not go through this door.”

“Then the one who moved the moving bookcase at the time was…Rantaro himself?”

Kaede and Kiki’s eyes widened incredulously before Shuichi sighed.  “I…can’t say for sure.  We’ll know more when we get the pictures back.  There’s a chance that someone else was hiding here.”

“Well, I still think the mastermind is the culprit.”  Kaede insisted.  “So we just need to find the clues that can connect us to the mastermind.  We’ll end the killing game that way, too.”

Shuichi and Kiki frowned skeptically before the heterochromatic girl asked, “So, that security sensor we set up on the bookcase…is it still there?”

“Y…Yeah, it should still be there…Let me check.”  Shuichi offered before he grabbed the ladder and dragged it over to the moving bookcase.  Once he climbed up the steps, he spotted the sensor and told the girls below him “It’s still here.  I should take it down now…”

Kiki frowned and pointed out, “Removing it is fine, but won’t the receiver go off when you move it?”

Shuichi took out the receiver and shook his head.  “No, it’s alright.  I turned the receiver off.”

“Huh?  You can turn it off?”

“Yes, I made sure to switch it off on the way down here.  I thought the mastermind could still be inside, and I didn’t want to alert them…”

“I see…Smart thinking.”  Kaede complimented as Shuichi grabbed the sensor and climbed back down the ladder.

Once he had climbed down, the trio glanced at Rantaro’s prone, bloodied corpse, feeling their stomachs churn at the sight.  Kaede swallowed her nerves and asked, “I’m pretty sure I don’t need to tell you this, but shouldn’t we investigate Rantaro’s body?”

“Yes…”  Shuichi answered reluctantly.  “If we want to find clues, we have to…But Kaede, Kiki, if it’s too much for you, you don’t have to, okay?”

“No, it’s fine.”  Kaede insisted.  “I can do it.  What about you, Kiki?”

The girl reluctantly nodded, forcing her nausea to stay in her stomach.  Kaede frowned at the slight shade of green in the girl’s cheeks as Kiki put on a brave face.  Kiki’s hand twitched as she resisted the urge to cover her mouth. 

“I’ll…I’ll be fine.  We have to do this…for Rantaro.”

The trio nodded solemnly as they walked towards Rantaro’s body.  Kaede bit her lip as she felt her heart tear apart at the sight.

The last time I saw Rantaro…he was alive and well…

“Why…did Rantaro die here?”  Shuichi pondered.

Kaede’s eyes widened as she asked, “What do you mean…die here?”

“I mean, if Rantaro was the one who moved the bookcase…That would mean he came all the way over here after the bookcase opened.  He moved away from the hidden door…to this spot.  Why would he do that…?  And there’s no trace of his body being moved.  It…doesn’t add up.”

Kaede averted her gaze, feeling the color leave her skin as she felt tears fill her eyes.  Shuichi and Kiki stared with concerned eyes at her worsened state.

“Ah, are you okay?”  Shuichi asked.  “You’ve gone pale…”

“What’s wrong, Kaede?”  Kiki pressed.  “Is seeing Rantaro’s body too painful after all?”

“…I guess that’s normal.”  Shuichi rationalized.  “We have to investigate a body, after all…The body of someone who was alive and talking to us, just a little while ago…”

Although it was still too much for her to smile, Kaede shook her head.  “I…It’s okay, really…We just have to do our best.  Not just for Rantaro’s sake…but also so we can avenge him…And…so we can protect everyone else.  We have to defeat the mastermind who’s orchestrating this whole thing.”

Though the pianist was still shaken, neither Kiki nor Shuichi could ignore the determination building in her purple eyes.  Shuichi blushed as he averted his gaze from her intense pupils.

“Ano, Kaede…I’ll help you in any way I can.  I’ll support you for this investigation.  I am…sort of a detective, after all.”

Kaede and Kiki rolled their eyes, giggling as Kaede pointed out, “Sort of?  You are a detective, remember?”

“Ah, right…”

“I’ll help you too!”  Kiki volunteered.  “I believe in you, Kaede, Shuichi, and I know that you’ll help us catch Rantaro’s killer!  So if there’s anything I can do to help…I’ll gladly do it!”

Kaede giggled “Thanks Kiki, I’ll hold you to that.”

The girls shared one last giggle before they frowned seriously.  Reluctantly, they turned their eyes back to the surrounding area around Rantaro’s body.

“Ano…”  Kaede admitted nervously “I know we need to examine his body, but I’m not sure where to start.”

“Yeah, me neither.”  Kiki admitted.

“…It’s okay.”  Shuichi nervously assured them.  “I…can do it.”

Shuichi took a deep breath before he knelt in front of Rantaro’s body.  He reached into his jacket and took out a pair of latex gloves before he began to examine the corpse.

“There’s blood on the back of his head.”  Shuichi observed.  “It looks like a pretty deep wound.  It’s consistent with blunt force trauma.  I don’t see any other injuries…The Monokuma File is accurate.  This must be the fatal wound.”

“So…we can trust the Monokuma File?”  Kaede asked cautiously.

“Yes…for now…”  Shuichi confirmed before sticking his hand into Rantaro’s pocket.

“Wait!  What are you doing!?”  Kaede exclaimed.

“I’m checking what he has on his person.  There might be a clue.  If we’re going to do this, we have to be thorough.  I told you I would support you both, after all…”

“H…H…How can you say that with so much…c…confidence?”  Kaede stammered incredulously as Kiki nodded in agreement.  As they watched Shuichi work, Kaede shook her head and scolded herself C’mon, Kaede…Pull yourself together.

At last, Shuichi stood up, revealing a tablet and a key in each of his hands.  “Rantaro had in his possession the key to his room and the e-Handbook.  It’s definitely his, and it’s exactly the same model as ours.”

Kaede’s brow furrowed as she inquired, “He didn’t have a card key on him?”

“That’s what I was thinking…but he didn’t have it.”  Shuichi confirmed as the two girls looked down at their shoes, deflated.

“Then…Rantaro really wasn’t the mastermind.”  Kaede realized, causing Shuichi to sigh in agreement.

“If he was the mastermind, he wouldn’t have come here without the card key.  So, with what we know now…that is the most likely possibility.”

Kaede bit her lip anxiously, pondering Why was Rantaro here if he wasn’t the mastermind?

“Hey, look down there!”  Kiki exclaimed as she pointed at a silver metal ball a few feet away.

“This shot put ball…”  Shuichi noted as he knelt down and picked it up.  “Could it be…?”  He wondered as he began to inspect it at every conceivable angle.

“Yeah, it definitely came from the warehouse on the 5th floor.”  Kaede confirmed.

“There’s blood all over it…”

“That’s the murder weapon, right?  I don’t see anything else that could’ve been used.”

“The shot itself is heavy…”  Shuichi commented.  “You would have to be fairly strong to use it as a weapon.”

Fairly strong, huh?  Kaede pondered as she felt the color drain from her face once more.

“…Kaede, are you okay?”  Shuichi and Kiki stared at her in concern as the detective told her “We’ve…finished investigating the body…”

“Let’s get out of here for now, okay?”  Kiki tugged at Kaede’s sleeve.  “You look like you could use some fresh air.”

“Y…Yeah…sorry.”  Kaede apologized as the two of them tugged her away until Rantaro’s corpse was out of sight.

“We’re out of sight, okay?  Just take some deep breaths, Kaede.”  Kiki advised as the pianist struggled to center herself.

With one final breath, Kaede at last calmed down and apologized once more, “Sorry about that, you guys…”

“It’s okay, Kaede.  We know you’re trying your best, but you don’t have to push yourself if it makes you feel that bad, right Shuichi?” The two girls turned to Shuichi, then frowned as he held his palm to his mouth in contemplation.  “Shuichi?”

“Something is bothering me…”  He admitted, as though Kiki’s conversation with Kaede had never happened.  “Why did Rantaro come to the library?  It seems likely that he is not the mastermind.  What reason did he have for coming here?”

The two girls closed their eyes and pondered the question until Kaede’s opened in epiphany.  “I’m guessing it had something to do with what Rantaro mentioned earlier…”

“It’s not about outfoxing everyone in this killing game, it’s about ending the game itself.  That’s the real goal.”

“Ending the game itself…”  Shuichi pondered as he too recalled Rantaro’s speech.  “Then it’s possible…he noticed the hidden door in the library, just like we did.”

“What?”  Kaede and Kiki gasped in shock.

“He might have come to the same conclusion we did, that the mastermind would come here.”

“You mean…”  Kaede realized “He had the same idea as us?”  Her heart sank in horror.  “N…No way…He should’ve told us…We could’ve worked together…”

Kaede felt her knees buckle from the weight of her guilt.  Just before the distraught, frustrated pianist could hit the floor, Kiki leapt to catch her in her arms.

“KAEDE!”  Kiki cried, worried by Kaede’s heavy breathing.  “Kaede…it’s not your fault…”

“She’s right, Kaede.”  The two girls looked up at Shuichi, who explained, “He probably couldn’t risk telling us…Like you said, he was suspicious of everyone.  I have you and Kiki, Kaede, but Rantaro didn’t have anyone he could trust.  That might have been…the only difference between me and him.”

The two girls looked up as Shuichi offered his hands to them.  They smiled as they accepted his help.  They stood up as he tugged their hands, accepting what little solace Shuichi’s explanation provided.

Once the pianist had wiped the tears from her face, Shuichi urged “Kaede, Kiki…let’s go.  We can’t waste time now.”  His faithful gaze centered on the pianist as he addressed her.  “You’re not going to give up, right?  You’re…going to save everyone.”

“Shuichi…”  Rejuvenated by his loyal smile and Kiki’s nod of agreement, Kaede realized He’s right…I can’t give up now.  “Thanks…I feel like…I can rely on you two even more…”

“Huh?”  Shuichi blushed and averted his gaze as Kiki giggled.

Shuichi’s right.  Kaede resolved, feeling hope blossom in her heart.  We can’t give up until it’s over.  I can’t stay depressed forever.  I have to help everyone get out of here.  We have to continue the investigation.  We gotta find the mastermind.

With newfound determination, Kaede glanced around the library.  At last, her eyes focused on the open vent near the ceiling.

The vent is open…I was the one who took off the grate and left it in the duct.

As Kiki and Shuichi glanced up at the vent, the detective’s eyes widened, as if he could read her mind.  “And we were keeping watch in the classroom this vent leads to.”  Shuichi shook his head in denial.  “I don’t think the culprit came in or out through there.”

“Yeah, that’s true.”

“Hey, Shuichi, Kaede?”  Both of them turned to Kiki, who asked nervously, “Ano…can we just briefly recap what happened?  My head’s still spinning a little…”

“Sure, it was going a little fast.”  Kaede admitted before she turned to Shuichi.  “Shuichi, why don’t you start?  You probably have the best handle of how it all went down.”

Shuichi nodded and began his explanation.  “We entered the library through the front door…”

“Yeah…we saw the moving bookcase close, and then when we ran over…”

The recent memory of finding Rantaro’s corpse flashed before their eyes.  Once they shook it away, Shuichi continued “We found Rantaro’s body behind that bookcase…”

“Hm, I wonder if Rantaro entered through the same door as we did…”  Kaede pondered as the trio stared at the front entrance.  “Maybe the mastermind did too…”

“When we see the pictures after Kirumi develops them, that will be clear.”

“I guess all we can do is wait.”  Kaede sighed in disappointment.

As Kiki nodded in agreement, Shuichi advised “Kaede, Kiki…I think we’ve investigated the entire library now.”

“But we still don’t know anything yet.”  Kaede lamented.  “I feel like we didn’t get any closer to the mastermind.”

“The most important piece of evidence will be those photos.  Once we get those…But then again, we can’t just say that and do nothing…Let’s keep investigating while we can.”

“Keep investigating?”  Kaede and Kiki asked.

“Yes, I think we should collect alibis.”  Shuichi explained.  “We need to verify where everyone was during the time frame when Rantaro was killed.”

Kaede and Kiki’s eyes widened in realization before the pianist asked, “If that’s the case, then who should we question?”

“Well, as far as we know, Rantaro came alone, so…we’ll probably need to talk to everyone.”

“Okay…Let’s go find them.”

Shuichi nodded before the trio walked to the front door, with Shuichi leading the charge.  His hand hovered above the doorknob as he turned his head to look at Kiki.

“Ah, Kiki…I hate to bring this up, but you should probably prepare your alibi during our investigation, just so you can be prepared to explain it during the trial.”

“Right…”  Kiki nodded nervously.  “Teruaki already suspects me, so I should be prepared for him to accuse me during the trial.  I’ll…work on what I’ll say.”

Kaede frowned sympathetically before she sighed.  Without another word, Shuichi opened the door and left the library with Kaede and Kiki in tow.

“Well, they’ve found some evidence, at least.”  Kyoko observed, her lips curving into a slightly proud smile.  “At least Shuichi’s detective talents haven’t been impacted by whatever amnesia he suffered.”

Makoto nodded in agreement with his wife.  “Hopefully he and Kaede will be able to clear Kiki’s name and find the mastermind.”

“I hope so…”  Koto and Kiri muttered in unison while Mokubo frowned skeptically.

“Their best bet is for Kirumi to develop the photos.”  Maki commented.  “Hopefully those will point to the mastermind.”

Everyone else nodded, praying for good luck as the trio continued the investigation.

Chapter Text

“Well?”  The trio jumped as they saw Ryoma standing with Keebo just outside the library.  The former tennis player eyed Shuichi curiously as he asked, “If you’re a professional detective, then you’ve got your eyes on the culprit, right?”

“…What?”  A flustered Shuichi asked, unprepared for the sudden question.

“Tell me who you think the culprit is.  I don’t mind if it’s just an educated guess.”

“Oh, I wanna know too…”  Kaede admitted.

“Me three, who is it, Shuichi?”  Kiki asked curiously, causing Shuichi to sweatdrop.

“Ah, no, I’m sorry…”  Shuichi apologized.  “I can’t say anything yet…”

Unlike the two disappointed girls, Ryoma pressed “But…there’s someone you’re a little bit suspicious of, right?  No, there’s gotta be.”


“But you’re afraid of that.  You’re afraid of suspecting someone, aren’t you?  That’s how it looks to me.  But with things the way they are, wouldn’t it be better for you to suspect others more?”  Kaede and Kiki frowned in concern as Shuichi appeared lost for words.  “And let me just warn you…The way the world works is that those who speak, win.  The truth can easily be twisted.  In order to fix a twisted truth, you need something even more powerful.”

“What do you mean?”  Kaede exclaimed in a slight panic before Ryoma pulled the edge of his hat over his eyes.

“I mean that testimonies without evidence are powerless.  Be careful.”

“Ryoma, I think you’ve made your point.”  Keebo gently admonished, causing Ryoma to grunt in response.  “Apologies.  Ryoma insisted on waiting for you to finish your immediate investigation.  He was extremely curious about your initial thoughts.”

“Oh, it’s okay…”  Shuichi replied before Kaede interjected.

“Hey, Keebo, what were you doing and where during the body discovery announcement?”

“Ah…My alibi.”  Keebo sighed before his eyes glowed blue.

“…Ano, are you glitching right now?”

“No, I’m just searching for the right words.”  Keebo explained once his eyes returned to normal.  “In all honesty, I was alone in my room, so I admit my alibi is not altogether reliable…”

“So…you don’t have an alibi?”

“But Ryoma said he was alone in his room, too.”  Keebo hastily defended, causing the former tennis player to nod quietly.

“Geez, way to throw me under the bus.”

“Huh!?”  Keebo waved his hands in front of him as he panically assured them, “Th…That was not my intention!”

But I see…  Kaede mused as she closed her eyes in contemplation.  Both Keebo and Ryoma don’t have an alibi…That means, it’s possible one of those two is the mastermind…

“Ano…”  Keebo asked hesitantly.  “Am I under suspicion because I don’t have an alibi?”

“No…”  Kaede assured him with a smile.  “I won’t suspect you just because you don’t have an alibi.”  Ryoma raised an eyebrow at Kaede’s remark before she insisted, “And I’m not saying that because you’re a robot or anything!  I’m not robophobic at all!”

“Thank you very much.”  Keebo smiled gratefully.  “But…you don’t need to be so PC.”

“Anyway, thanks for the info.”  Kaede looked curiously at the duo.  “So what are you two going to investigate now?”

“Well, it occurred to me that a vent connects the library to one of the classrooms.  Ryoma and I were talking about checking it out.”

“Oh, do you mind if we tag along?”  Shuichi asked.  “We were keeping watch there, so maybe we can provide some insight if we investigate it together.”

“Sounds like a great idea, Shuichi!”  Kaede exclaimed.  “What do you think, Kiki?”

“Yeah, maybe it’ll help the case if we look at it from another angle.”  Kiki agreed.

“So, what do you say, Keebo?  You mind if we come with you and Ryoma?”  Shuichi asked.

“I don’t have any particular issue with it.  Five heads are better than two after all.  Ryoma?”

“I suppose it can’t hurt.”  Ryoma shrugged before he walked around the corner, leaving the other four classmates to follow him.

“Oh, Ace, Seven.”  Kaede exclaimed as the group entered the classroom.

“Ah, Kaede, you guys thought to investigate the classroom too, huh?”  Seven asked as he and Ace turned to the group.

“It would seem that the phrase great minds think alike would ring true.”  Ace mused, causing everyone but Ryoma to smile.

“Kaede, Shuichi, Kiki!  I would like to ask you three a question!”  Keebo interjected.  Ace and Seven pursed their lips, listening intently as the robot asked, “You were on lookout inside this classroom, right?”

Kaede nodded, confirming “Yeah.  From here, we could keep an eye on the hallway closest to the library.”

“That’s our alibi.”  Shuichi elaborated.  “We were all in this classroom when the murder occurred.”

“I see…”  Keebo mused.  “Then the probability that you three committed the crime is extremely low…By the way…were you three together the entire time?”

“We were together the whole time, until the receiver went off.”

“Y…Yeah, that’s right…”  Kaede occurred as Kiki nodded.

“Shuichi rushed out first, then I ran after him, then Kaede followed last.”  The amnesiac girl elaborated before Keebo nodded in comprehension.

“…I understand.  Thank you very much.”

“Is that all you wanted to ask?”  Kaede inquired.

“Oh, may I ask you one more question?  Specifically, about that vent…”  All of their eyes wandered to the vent above the doorframe.  “It appears to be connected to this classroom.  The air duct in the hallway leads to it…”

Shuichi nodded and concurred “Yes, I was also concerned about this vent…That’s why we kept watch in this classroom.”

“Because the culprit wouldn’t be able to use this vent if we’re in here on lookout.”  Kaede elaborated.

“Under those circumstances, it would be difficult to sneak into the library from here.”  Keebo admitted.

“Kaede stacked up books in front of the library vent as well.”  Kiki offered.  “With those in the way, it would be even harder for someone to go in and out.”

“Really?  I will be sure to save that important piece of information to my memory bank.”  Keebo smiled apologetically at the trio.  “I hope my line of questioning has not offended either of you.  It is necessary, so that we may find the truth.”

“Keebo, you totally sounded like a detective or a lawyer just now!”  Kaede gushed.  “Oh!  Maybe you were a detective or a lawyer in a past life!”

“A past life…?”  Keebo’s brow furrowed in confusion.  “How could I have a past life when I’m not made of human components?”

“It’s getting a little crowded in here.”  The others turned towards Ryoma, who suggested, “Keebo, why don’t we go to the warehouse and get those parts you suggested?”

“The warehouse?”  Kaede’s brow furrowed curiously as she asked, “Why are you guys going to the warehouse?”

“While we were talking, Keebo suggested that we modify a toy RC plane with a camera to take aerial photographs.”

Keebo nodded, smiling proudly at his idea.  “From there, I’ll use photos of the crime scene as a reference to draft a floor plan to help the investigation!”

Drafting a floor plan…with photos…?  Kaede pondered before Shuichi smiled in awe.

“That’s amazing…I’m sure this will help with the investigation.”

“The only problem is, I’m not used to operating a drone and taking pictures with it.”  Keebo admitted.

“Well, you’d better hurry.  If you don’t the investigation will end soon!”  Kaede warned.

“Ah, right, let’s go, Ryoma!”  Ryoma shrugged as Keebo hurried out the door.

Once the former tennis player leisurely followed the robot out of the classroom, Kaede turned to Ace and Seven.  “Let me guess.  You wish to hear our alibis, yes?”  Ace guessed.

“Huh?  How’d you know?”  Kaede inquired curiously.

“Well, you and Keebo did just exchange alibis.  It doesn’t take a genius to tell that you’re collecting alibis to narrow down suspects.”  Seven pointed out.

Oh…right…  Kaede realized.  Should’ve seen this coming…

“So, to briefly state the truth…”   Ace began.  “Before the body discovery announcement played, I was in the dining hall, drinking some tea Kirumi had made.  Some of us were feeling a little on-edge when she offered to make us some tea to calm our nerves.  The other people there with us were Snake, Clover, Lotus, and Tsumugi.  I must say, that woman knows how to make good tea.”

Kiki nodded, concurring “Yeah, Kirumi’s an awesome cook!”

Kaede and Shuichi shared a knowing look at each other, amused by Kiki’s enthusiasm.  Ace also chuckled in amusement before he continued, “After I drank my tea, I saw Gonta and Seven coming back into the Dining Hall.”

Seven nodded.  “Yeah, I was with Gonta.  We left the dining hall before Kirumi offered to make tea, but the poor guy looked really nervous, so I suggested we take a bath in the sauna.  We had just dried off and were about to sit down when Ace came to talk to us.  He suggested that we walk together, so we started to take a walk in the halls of the fifth floor.  After that, we heard screaming, and we came running.”

Ace nodded.  “Anyway, that concludes our alibis…I do hope it can be of some help.”

“And what about the people around you?”  Shuichi inquired.  “Did you notice anything in particular?”

“Ah…if there was something to note, there was a brief period of time where Tsumugi left to use the restroom.”

“The restroom, huh?”  Kaede pondered.  “Interesting.  Well, Tsumugi is a cosplayer.  She could’ve gone to the bathroom to secretly disguise herself as someone else.”

“Someone else?”  Shuichi inquired, his curiosity piqued.  “But who?”

“I don’t know, but we’ll go talk to her.”  Kaede decided.  “She should be around somewhere.”

“That makes it unlikely that either of you could be the culprit.”  Shuichi deduced, causing Seven to nod.  “Alright, let’s go find Tsumugi and get her alibi.”

“Ah, about that.”  The others turned towards Seven, who revealed, “While Ace and I were walking over here, we spotted Tsumugi walking with Lotus over to the kitchen.  I overheard them saying that they were going to investigate the kitchen, just in case the culprit was one of the ones having tea.”

“Ah, thanks, Seven!”  Kaede smiled gratefully at the large man.

“Oh, it’s nothin’.”  Seven assured them.

“Alright, we’ll see you at the trial.”

“Good luck out there.”  Ace told them sincerely.

“And stay safe, okay?”  Seven cautioned.

“Will do, thanks for your help.”  Kaede replied gratefully before she walked out of the classroom with Shuichi and Kiki in tow.

“You don’t think…”  Koto pondered.

“That Tsumugi could be the culprit?”  Kiri finished, her brow furrowing in confusion.  “But she seemed so nice whenever she visited Kiki!  Why would she want to kill anyone?”

“You have to put aside any preconceived notions of people before this killing game.”  Kyoko cautioned.

Makoto reluctantly nodded, sighing in admission.  “I hate to admit it, but your mother’s right.  In this situation…even your best friends can betray you in a heartbeat.”

“…We have to keep an open mind.”  Koto and Kiri turned towards Mokubo.  “Tsumugi may have been Kiki’s friend for as long as we can remember, but we can’t let that stop us from considering her as a suspect.”

As Koto and Kiri frowned, Maki suggested “Let’s just keep watching and see what the investigation reveals.”

With that, the group turned their attention back to the TV, watching as the trio entered the dining hall.

“Ah, you three.”  Lotus greeted.  “If you came to investigate the kitchen, don’t bother.  We’ve already checked, and no dice.”

“Oh, it’s not that.”  Shuichi replied.  “We actually came to talk to Tsumugi.”

“Good luck, the girl seems to be in a trance of some kind.  She’s been humming to herself ever since we paired up together.”

“Hey, Tsumugi…I need to ask you something…”  Kaede asked, only to be greeted with more humming.

“Ano, Tsumugi…?”  Shuichi sighed and turned back to Kaede and Kiki.  “She looks like she’s busy thinking about something, she won’t talk to me…”  Shuichi commented.

Kaede pinched the bridge of her nose in frustration.  “Okay, but that’s no excuse to give up.”  Kiki and Shuichi watched with widened, mortified eyes as Kaede grabbed the hem of Tsumugi’s skirt and began to lift it slowly.  “I’m gonna lift your skirt, Tsumugi.  You okay with that?”

“Wait!  Kaede!”  Shuichi protested.

Kiki meanwhile shrieked and grabbed the hem of her own skirt protectively.  “Kaede, don’t go pulling skirts!  None of us want to have our panties on display!”

Kaede merely ignored her friends’ protests and teased, “You better talk, or I’m gonna lift your skirt for everyone to see.  And then I’m gonna tie your skirt around your head so everyone can see your panties.”

In the face of Kaede’s mortifying threats, Tsumugi’s cheeks flushed pink.  “I understand.  I just need to talk, right?”

“Oh, took you long enough.”  Kaede teased as Shuichi and Kiki sighed in relief.

“Well, that’s one way to get a girl to talk.”  Lotus muttered.

“Well, I can’t let Shuichi and Kiki’s innocent eyes get dirty…”  Tsumugi commented.

“Ah!  No!  They won’t get dirty!”  Shuichi and Kiki exclaimed a little too quickly.

“Are you saying you two have seen dirtier?”  Kaede teased, causing their cheeks to flush pink.

“What did you want to talk about?”  Tsumugi interrupted, making the duo grateful that Kaede’s ridiculous question would be left unanswered.

“I’m just gonna cut to the chase…”  Kaede took a deep breath.  “Since you’re a cosplayer…that means you could disguise yourself as anyone…even one of us, right?”

“Oh, so that’s what you think of me.”  Tsumugi lamented.  “Well, since we’re in this situation, I’ll be clear…I only cosplay fictional characters.  I don’t cosplay real people…or rather, I can’t, at least not in here.”

“You can’t?”  Kaede prodded.  “Isn’t it easy to just wear someone else’s clothes as a disguise and…”

“Cosplay isn’t a disguise!”  Tsumugi shrieked.

“Ah!  S…Sorry!”

“Well…you’ll probably have a hard time believing me if I just say it, so I’ll show you.”

“Show me…how?”

“Come on, Kaede.”

“Ah, wait!”  Kaede yelped as Tsumugi grabbed her hand and dragged her out of the dining hall, leaving Kiki, Shuichi, and Lotus to sweatdrop.

“A…Are you gonna punch me…or tie me up?”  Kaede asked nervously as Tsumugi closed the door to her room behind her.

“Hey, now…there’s no way I’d do a thing like that.”  Tsumugi assured her.  “Now hurry up and investigate my closet.”

“What!?  Why!?”  An unnerved Kaede demanded.

“Well, because that’ll prove if I can cosplay as anyone.  Now so look through my closet.”

“Huh?  But…”

“Come on, come on.  Hurry up!”

“Whaaaat!?”  Seeing that Tsumugi had no intention of retracting her demands, Kaede muttered “Fine…”  It’s for the investigation…

With that, she began to sift through the clothes hanging from the rack as well as the undergarments sitting on the shelf.  Her brow furrowed as she saw the same few articles of clothing over and over.

“It’s the same kinds of clothes…the ones I’ve only seen Tsumugi wear…”

“Ah, so you see?  I couldn’t have cosplayed as anyone!  I don’t have one of their clothes!”

“Yeah, but…”  Kaede pointed out “What about the trash room?  You could have just gone to the trash room after the murder and disposed of the clothes when you were done with them.”

Tsumugi sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose.  “Okay…follow me and you’ll see whether or not I used the trash room.”

Tsumugi took Kaede by the hand once more and pulled her out of the room.  Kaede didn’t even bother yelping in surprise this time, opting to conserve energy by letting Tsumugi drag her along.

“Here we are.”  Tsumugi announced as the two girls walked in.

Kaede glanced around the room, noting the incinerator against the far wall.  She also observed the dumpster to its left.

“Look!”  Tsumugi pointed out as they walked up to the incinerator.  “This incinerator hasn’t been turned on in quite some time.  If I had used it, it would still show signs of warmth, and there are no clothing scraps in or around it.”

Kaede’s brow furrowed as she admitted, “You’re right…but I should still look in the dumpster.  Look, it’s open, so someone could have used it during the murder.”

Tsumugi shrugged as Kaede sifted through the dumpster.  The pianist frowned and sighed, shaking her head.

“You’re right, nothing.  Sorry I accused you, Tsumugi.”

“Oh, it’s okay, I get it.  You needed to exhaust all your dialog options before moving on.”

“Right…well…let’s get back to the others so we can continue the investigation.”

Tsumugi nodded and followed Kaede back to the dining hall.

The twins breathed a sigh of relief at Tsumugi’s apparent exoneration.  “Thank goodness…”

“Don’t celebrate yet…”  Mokubo warned his siblings.  “That just proves that she couldn’t have disguised herself as someone else. There’s still a chance she could have committed the crime during her disappearance.”

“Indeed.”  Kyoko reluctantly agreed.  “The trial will make clear whether or not Tsumugi’s really innocent.”

Makoto reluctantly nodded.  He didn’t want to suspect his daughter’s childhood friend, but he knew from experience that it did no good to rush to judgment before trial. 

After all…trials often expose things you miss during investigations…

“It looks like they’re about to regroup.”  Maki observed before they refocused their attention to the TV.

“Kaede, what’s wrong?”  Shuichi and Kiki asked as a deflated Kaede entered the dining hall with Tsumugi.

“Tsu…Tsumugi couldn’t have disguised herself…”

“You understand, since you saw the proof, right?  Cosplay is love.”  Tsumugi gushed, ranting “You breathe life into characters.  It’s almost like you’re summoning them…From fiction into the real world…Like an oracle channeling the gods.”

The others sweatdropped as Tsumugi seemed to drool with passion.  After a second, she shook herself from her trance and wiped away her drool.

“That’s why I can cosplay various characters from across the wide world of fiction…But it’s impossible to cosplay as someone who exists in the real world.”  She pointed with narrowed eyes at the trio as she insisted, “Because that’s not cosplay, it’s just impersonating someone.”

“I…I really didn’t need that long explanation.”  Kaede muttered.  “Alright, Kiki, Shuichi, let’s go find Teruaki and Sokyu.  We still need their alibis.”

“Ah, sure.”  Shuichi agreed.  “Bye, Tsumugi, Lotus.  See you at the trial.”

Lotus nodded in agreement before the trio left the dining hall, leaving Tsumugi and the scantily dressed woman alone.

“Ah, Sokyu, Teruaki!”  Kaede greeted as the trio stepped into the laundry room.

Kiki tried to wave awkwardly at the two, only to hide behind Shuichi as the antagonistic man snarled at her.  Sokyu shot him a slightly scolding stare before he turned his attention to the trio.

“Kaede, Kiki, Shuichi…is there something we can help you with?”

At least he’s being civil…  “Ano…don’t take this the wrong way, but can you tell us where you were and what you were doing during the murder?”

“What, y…you think I’m gu-guilty?!”  Teruaki stammered, pointing at Kiki as she peeked out from behind Shuichi.  “She’s the su-suspicious one…!”

“…If you object so fiercely, you’re only making yourself look suspicious, Kubota.”  As Teruaki gawked at Sokyu, the calmer young man explained, “If you must know, the two of us were doing our laundry when the body discovery announcement played.  We had just turned on the washer when we heard the announcement.”

“So it wa…wasn’t us!”  Teruaki added.

“We…we never said it was you…”  Kiki added quietly.

Before an argument could break out, a loud beeping sound echoed from their persons.  “Our e-Handbooks!”  Kaede realized as she pulled out her tablet.  “It’s…a message…from Kirumi!”  She tapped the message notification and began to read.  “Everyone, I have finished developing the photos for the investigation.  Meet me in the warehouse so we may review them before the trial starts.” 

She immediately turned to Shuichi with an excited grin on her face.  The detective sweatdropped at the sheer enthusiasm radiation from her smile.

“Did you hear that, Shuichi, Kiki?  The pictures have finally been developed!  Let’s go!  Come on, get a move on!”

“Ah!  Wait, Kaede!”  They exclaimed as they ran after the pianist, followed much more cautiously by the two anti-social men.

“Hopefully those photos will prove who killed Rantaro.”  Mokubo muttered as his younger siblings grinned.

“Yes, Kiki’s gonna be proven innocent!”

Makoto and Kyoko frowned however, knowing from experience that it often took more than a single piece of evidence to prove someone’s innocence.  Still, they held out hope that the mastermind’s revelation would prove their daughter’s innocence.

Chapter Text

“Ah, wait, Kaede!”  Shuichi called, panting with Kiki as they entered the warehouse.  “You shouldn’t get so worked up!”

“I can’t help it!”  Kaede insisted.  “We’re so close to learning the truth!  We’re gonna find out who the mastermind is!”

“Yes…”  The trio turned to face Teruaki, who insisted “Once Kirumi shows us those photos, we can reveal the entirety of Kiki’s crime.”

“I told you, it wasn’t me!”  Kiki nearly shouted in desperation.

Before an argument could break out, Sokyu glowered at Teruaki.  “Enough.  If the photos exonerate her, then we remove her from suspicion.  If they don’t, save your accusations for the trial.”

Teruaki grumbled but kept quiet as the others slowly filed into the warehouse.

“Thank you for coming on such short notice.”  Kirumi spoke politely as the fifteen survivors huddled in a circle.  She held up three envelopes and explained, “These are all the photos.  They’re separated in envelopes for each camera.”

“Well, this should keep their analysis organized.”  Ace concluded.

“Yeah, whoever the bastard is, we can use these to take them down in the trial.”  Lotus agreed.

“A…Anyway…it looks like we have the pictures now.”  Shuichi concluded.

“Yeah, finally…”  Kaede muttered.

“The culprit should be in those photos, right?”  Tsumugi asked.

“Alright!  Let’s take a look!”  Keebo suggested enthusiastically.

“Let’s look at the photos taken by the camera near the front entrance first.” 

Kirumi nodded and began to open the envelope.  “Very well, Kaede, I’ll follow your direction.” 

The envelope that says Front Entrance has a total of four pictures.  Kaede realized as Kirumi removed the contents.  Let’s see the first picture…  Kirumi held it up to show everyone, causing them to stare at an image of Kaede, Shuichi, and Kiki rushing in.  “This is…when we arrived at the library.  So it took a picture then…”

“Yeah, this was right before we found Rantaro’s body.”  Kiki noted.

“Alright, let’s go to the next one.”  Kaede suggested, causing Kirumi to swap out the photograph with one showing Ace, Gonta, and Seven rushing in.  “Ano…this is…”

“It’s a picture of us running into the library after we heard Kiki scream.”  Ace realized.

“Well, that doesn’t help us at all.”  Seven concluded, rubbing the back of his head.  “Hurry up and show us the next picture.”

“Y…Yeah, okay.  Kirumi, do you mind…?”

“Of course.”  Kirumi nodded and exchanged the photograph for another that showed the others running into the library.  “This is everyone else who came to the library after the body discovery announcement.”

“Everyone pictured here, myself included, was on our way to the library.   So we got there a bit late.”  Ryoma explained.

“There is one more photo of the front entrance, correct?”  Keebo asked.

“Yeah, let’s take a look at that one.”  Kaede confirmed before Kirumi swapped out the photo for one showing a closeup of Shuichi.

“Huh?  Shuichi?”  Kaede and Kiki wondered before Shuichi smiled bashfully.

“Ah, sorry…it looks like I tripped one of the sensors when I was removing the cameras.”

“Ano…”  Tsumugi commented.  “This picture doesn’t seem to have any clues that will help us either…”

“The camera pointed at the front entrance only snapped these four pictures…”  Kaede sighed, disappointed that the first camera hadn’t shown any clues to the mastermind’s identity.  So the culprit didn’t come in through the main door…but they had to come in through the side door…right…?

“Neither Rantaro nor anyone else who could be the culprit are in the photos…”  Keebo lamented, a contemplative expression on his face as Kirumi deposited the photos back in the envelope.

“Did they both enter through the side door, then?”  Ryoma suggested.

“Let’s examine the photos taken by the camera near the side entrance, then.”  Kirumi suggested as she opened the envelope containing the photos for the side entrance.

She then removed two photos from the envelope, causing Kaede to hum.  “Hm…Only two photos were taken by the camera pointed at the side entrance.  Ano, let’s see the first picture…”

Kirumi held out the first picture for everyone to see, causing them to focus on the picture of Rantaro entering through the side entrance.

“Rantaro!”  Kaede exclaimed.

“So Rantaro went in through the rear entrance.”  Shuichi mused.  “Perhaps so no one would see him…”

“I thought it might be possible that he was moved to the library after being murdered…But that does not appear to be the case.”  Keebo admitted with a deflated expression.

“So that means he was killed in the library after going there of his own will…”  Snake realized.

“A…Anyway, let’s move on to the next one!”  Kaede suggested.  “Maybe it’ll show the mastermind!”  Kirumi nodded and exchanged the photo with the other one, revealing another close up of Shuichi.  “Huh?”  Kaede exclaimed in surprise.

“Ah…sorry…me again.”  Shuichi apologized.  “This is from when I was removing the camera…”

“What an attention hog!”  Clover exclaimed in exasperation before Kirumi chided her.

“He had no choice…To remove the cameras, he had to be close to the sensors.”

As the maid dropped the photos back in the folder, a depressed Kaede lowered her eyes.  “That’s all for the side entrance.  Just these two photos.”

“Huh?  The culprit wasn’t inside the entrance photo either?”  Gonta pondered.

“Wh…What does this mean?”  Kiki panicked.  “They’re not in either the front or rear entrance pictures…”

“…Yeah, that’s pretty odd.  Why isn’t there a picture of the mastermind entering?”  Kaede agreed, baffled by the lack of clues.  “Hey, Shuichi.  Don’t you think that’s weird?”

Shuichi stayed silent, unnerving the two girls.  Why…?  Kaede frowned, starting to bite her lip in dread.  If they didn’t come in through either door…how could they have come into the room…?

At last, Shuichi suggested “Let’s look at the pictures from the hidden door camera.  That might tell us something…”

“O…Oh yeah…”  Though if they somehow show up in the hidden door photos, that’ll just raise questions about how they evaded the entrance cameras.  Shaking the thought from her head, she mused “That camera should’ve captured the moment the mastermind opened the door.  Kirumi?”

The maid nodded as she opened the last envelope and removed two photos.  Kirumi turned the first one so everyone could see the image of Rantaro pulling the bookcase.

“Oh!  Rantaro!?”  Kaede exclaimed as Shuichi furrowed his brow beneath his hat.

“But…if Rantaro was the one who moved the bookcase, then…”

“He must’ve known about the hidden door.”  Sokyu concluded.

“Could the culprit have gone into the hidden door?”  Ryoma inquired curiously.

“Yes, that is a possibility.”  Keebo mused.

“For now, let us see the next picture.  There is one remaining, isn’t there?”  Ace suggested before Kaede nodded and stared expectantly at Kirumi.

The maid nodded and exchanged the photo with the other one.  “What!?”  Kaede exclaimed in shock.

They stared at the strangely bright photo of Rantaro reaching for the camera.  Their confused eyes centered on the surprise written on his face, his mouth opening in an O shape.

“Huh?  What’s Rantaro doing?”  Seven asked, just as confused as the pianist.

“It looks like he’s reaching for the camera.”  Ryoma observed.  “Maybe he was trying to remove it.”

“Ah, I did notice something while I was removing the camera…”  Shuichi admitted.  “The security sensor for this camera was switched off.”

“In that case, this photo was likely taken just before the sensor was turned off.”  Snake deduced.

“But that would mean that Rantaro noticed it…”  Shuichi realized with surprised eyes.  “He saw…our hidden camera…”

“Moving the bookcase triggers the sensor, which in turn activates the camera, right?”  Keebo asked.  “The bookcase appears to have already been moved, so why did the sensor activate…?”

“Who cares!?”  Kiki exclaimed.  “What happened to the culprit!?  How come they’re not in any of the photos!?”

“This last photo must have been taken shortly before Rantaro was killed.”  Kirumi mused.

“If so, then the culprit should be pictured right behind him in this photo.”  Ace commented with a frown.

Kaede clenched her fists, gritting her teeth in frustration.  “Then why is the culprit nowhere to be seen?”  Kaede demanded before her eyes lowered in disappointment.  “That’s all the photos…”  Her voice grew quiet, sounding as dejected as she felt.

“So we gained no new clues…and we still don’t know who the culprit is.”  Sokyu concluded.

“What a waste!”  Clover spat.

“These are seriously all the pictures?”  Lotus demanded.  “You gotta be kidding me!  The culprit’s not in any of em!  If the culprit didn’t go to the library, then how’d they kill Rantaro!?”

“So this must be what they call a perfect crime.”  Clover muttered.

“A perfect crime!?”  Kaede and Kiki shrieked.

“By the way…”  Snake interjected, getting everyone’s attention.  “Rantaro had his e-Handbook the whole time, didn’t he?  Do you think anything was in it?”

“His e-Handbook did not contain much in the way of pertinent information…”  Shuichi explained.

“I doubt it has anything to do with the case.”  Ace suggested.  “He simply had his e-Handbook with him.”

“I inspected his e-Handbook, but I didn’t find anything suspicious about it.”

“…Kaede, are you okay?”  Kiki asked in concern as Kaede gritted her teeth once more.

“Why…?”  She breathed in a panic.  “Why aren’t they in the pictures?  If the mastermind had these photos, it would have solved everything…”  Flames on anger roared in Kaede’s eyes as she demanded “So…why the hell…!?”

“K…Kaede!”  Shuichi closed his eyes, empathizing with the frustrated pianist.

*Ding Dong Bing Bong*

The sound of a school bell interrupted their conversation, echoing from a nearby monitor.  Their eyes widened as they turned to stare at the image of Monokuma sitting at his desk, glass of wine in hand.  Dread seized their souls as they waited for the inevitable.

“Alright!  It’s time for what you’ve all been waiting for…the class trial!”  Monokuma’s voice cheerfully echoed from the monitor.  “Please assemble at the center ring on the fifth floor with the face of yours truly engraved on it!  From there, you’ll be escorted to a delightful class trial!  Puhuhuhu!  See you all there!”

“T…Time already…!?”  Gonta shrieked as the monitor deactivated.

“It seems we have no choice but to continue this discussion at the class trial.”  Kirumi lamented.

“I don’t want to go…”  Tsumugi sighed.

“Me neither.”  Clover agreed.

“I…It’ll be fine…”  Kaede tried to encourage everyone despite feeling hopeless herself.  “I just…feel like my back is up against the wall.”  Kaede forced herself to smile as determination laced into her voice.  “We just need to expose the mastermind in this class trial!  And then everything, including this killing game…will come to an end.”  She vowed as she clenched her fists.

“Yes, that’s right.”  A reassured Keebo agreed with a smile.

“Let’s find this mastermind!”  Kiki exclaimed.

With murmurs of inspired agreement, the others walked confidently out of the warehouse.  Teruaki shot another scowl at her, while the others frowned with uncertainty as they left the room.  Eventually, only Kaede, Shuichi, and Kiki were left behind.

“Kaede, really, are you okay…?”  Shuichi asked skeptically, concerned frons on his and Kiki’s faces.

Without the need to put on a show of bravado for the others, Kaede’s smile drooped into an apologetic, nervous frown.  “Sorry, I didn’t mean to worry you two.  I’m just so shocked…I really thought that everything would be resolved once we looked at the photos…”  But…I can’t give up.  Kaede resolved.  I can still expose the mastermind in this class trial.  And then everything, even this killing game…will come to an end.

She smiled at them and nodded reassuringly at them.  In spite of how nervous she was, she still put on the best smile she could for them.

“I’m okay now, Shuichi, Kiki.”  She pumped her fists as she exclaimed “Let’s go!  It’s the image of Monokuma’s head on the fifth floor, right?”

“Ah, Kaede…I have one more question…”  Shuichi hesitantly interjected, causing the two girls to look curiously at him.  “Do you really think it’s one of us…?  Not just the culprit…But the mastermind as well?”

“Huh?”  Kaede’s brow furrowed, confused.  “Isn’t that what you told us, Shuichi?”

“Y…Yes, but…”  Shuichi averted his gaze, hiding beneath his cap.  “It’s just…That was only my deduction, I don’t know if I should trust that…”

“Well, I don’t know if it’s true, either.”  Kaede admitted.  “But that’s why we need to confirm it.  If you just dismiss a possibility and look the other way without confirming anything…then you’re just turning your back on the truth.”  Shuichi closed his eyes, turning away from Kaede’s determined eyes.  “What’s the matter, Shuichi?  You seemed so sure of yourself during the investigation.”

“Ah, sorry…Let’s go.  I’m sure they’re waiting for us.”

With that, Kaede nodded and boldly lead the way.  Kiki and Shuichi followed closely behind her as they went to catch up with the others.

“No!”  Koto and Kiri cried, anguished that their sister’s best hope of coming home had been dashed.

“Whoever the culprit is, they’re clever…”  Kyoko admitted.  “Or at least craftier than Leon was.”

Makoto nodded in agreement, lamenting “We should have known it wouldn’t have been that easy…at least Kaede’s keeping them unified for now.”

“Almost all of them.”  The others turned to Mokubo, who commented, “One of them is the culprit, and possibly one more, if the culprit and mastermind are two different people.”

“He’s right.”  Maki admitted.  “As long as at least one of them is guilty, discord will undoubtedly be sewn.  Plus, that Kubota seems intent on making Kiki out to be the culprit.”

The others scowled at the unrelenting, baseless accusations thrown at their shining star.  Makoto and Kyoko were the first ones to regain their composure, realizing that they had to set an example for their children.

“Let’s…just watch what happens.”  Makoto suggested.  “Take a deep breath and keep calm.”  Though I know from experience that’s easier said than done…

Nevertheless, the three children took a simultaneous deep breath, feeling their rush of anger recede.  Now calmer, they turned their attentions to the TV as the trio rejoined the others.

“Hopefully Shuichi can overcome that lack of self-confidence.”  Kyoko muttered.  “They’ll need it, since he’s the only detective there who remembers his craft.”

Makoto nodded in agreement.  “Yeah, he’s always struggled with that self-confidence of his.  He and Kiki have helped each other grow, but even when they still had their memories, it was still a struggle for him to have faith in himself.  Let’s hope this trial by fire can help him overcome that hurdle.”

“Careful, everyone!”  Gonta exclaimed.  “If bad things happen, get behind Gonta!”

“So are we doin’ the class trial here or what!?”  Lotus questioned before Ryoma shook his head.

“No.  Monokuma made it sound like we’d be guided somewhere from here.”

“But Monokuma is nowhere to be seen. What’s going on…?”  Kirumi pondered.

At that moment, iron walls erected from the floor, encasing the survivors in a dome.

“Wah!”  Kaede shrieked as the others gasped in a panic.  “Wh…What!?  Is this…an elevator?”

“I guess it’s too late to ask if he wants us to board it.”  Keebo commented as they felt a rumbling beneath their feet.

“I don’t wanna…I don’t do scary rides.”  Clover complained despite knowing the futility of the matter.

“I…don’t want to get on it either.”  Tsumugi agreed.

“Even if you could stay behind, I’m sure it would just be worse for you in the end.”  Sokyu commented.

“Yeah, that’s true…I know…”

“If everyone wished to run away beforehand, I would have cooperated as well.”  Kirumi added.

“That probably wouldn’t have been a good idea.”  Ryoma countered.  “There’s nowhere to run.  As long as we’re trapped on this floor, escape’s not an option.”

Kiki looked down at her feet, recalling her brush with death before Kaede assured them, “It’ll be fine…Let’s all work together.  Remember our promise?  We’re gonna escape this place and remain good friends afterward…”  She pumped her fists in determination.  “So let’s do it!  I’m sure we’ll be alright!  Because…we make such an incredible team.”

“Heh, I wouldn’t be able to call myself a man if I was still scared after hearing a girl say that.”  Seven laughed.  “Bring it!”

Kiki summoned all her courage before she exclaimed, “We’ve come so far already!  We just gotta do it…SO LET’S DO IT!!!”

Shuichi smiled at Kiki’s courage, agreeing “We have no choice…We can’t turn back now…”

As the elevator dropped from its stationary position, Kaede shook with dread.

“Whoaaa!”  Kiki breathed.  “In any other circumstance, this elevator would be super cool.”

“E…Even so…this elevator is going pretty far down…”  Clover replied.

As the elevator continued to descend, the survivors fell into a quiet, nervous silence.  Kaede took advantage of their self-reflection and gently tapped Shuichi and Kiki on the shoulders.

“Ano…Kiki…Shuichi…I think everyone is afraid of learning the truth.  That’s why Teruaki at least is latching onto the easiest answer.”

“…Me…”  Kiki mumbled as Kaede nodded.

“But the people who are willing to find the truth are the ones who can decide their fate.  If you never know the lies from the truth, then you can’t choose a path.  You won’t even know you’re on a path.  So…both of you…fight for the truth…Even if it is frightening.  I know you both can do this.”

Both of them looked at Kaede, awestruck by how much faith she placed in both of them.  The pianist gently squeezed their shoulders, letting them know that they weren’t alone.

“If you’re scared, borrow the strength of others who will be there to help you.  Think of everyone you’re helping, and let that be your strength.  I used to be like you…”  Kaede closed her eyes and smiled wistfully, recalling her earliest days playing the piano.  “Before a piano concert, I was always so nervous that I thought I would vomit…But then I would remember all the people I’ve made smile with my performances.”

“Kaede…”  They breathed, touched by her attempt to give them confidence.

“Alright, let’s go!  It’s better to end bad stuff like this as soon as possible!”  Even if those words are also for me…to inspire me, so I wouldn’t turn back…even if I had the option to…

“Kaede really has a way with words, doesn’t she?”  Kyoko mused as she glanced at her husband with a smile.  “She reminds me of you, in that way.”

Makoto chuckled “Well, I don’t know if our respective charismas are comparable…but she seems to have given Kiki and Shuichi something to think about, at the very least.  Hopefully it’ll be enough to get them through this trial.”

Mokubo’s brow furrowed as he stared intensely at the pianist on the TV.  “Mokubo…are you okay?”  Maki inquired, getting the other’s attention.

“…Yes, just…don’t worry about it.”

Makoto and Kyoko frowned, the twins staring curiously as Mokubo bit his lip.  Before he could be questioned however, the elevator came to a stop.

“Well…this is it…do or die.”  Makoto lamented.

“Let’s hope they’re up to the task.”  Kyoko agreed nervously.

Everyone silently prayed for the captives’ survival as they focused their attention on the screen.

The walls retracted, revealing a blue, circular floor.  At the center was a ring of sixteen brown, wooden podiums.  Sitting a few feet away was a red-padded throne, cushioning Monokuma himself.

“This is an authentic replica of a courtroom.”  Keebo observed.

“Hmph, what bad taste…”  Ryoma commented.

“Why are you making us do this?”  Kaede demanded.  “Is this fun for you?”

“Of course!”  Monokuma confirmed gleefully.  “Putting strangers in life-or-death scenarios is the best entertainment!”

“You are seriously the worst!”  Kiki shouted.

“Puhuhu…Worst or not, those who have fun are the real winners in this world!”  Monokuma cackled.  “It doesn’t matter what terrible things you do or are done to you, as long as you’re having fun!  Now, there are podiums over there.  Please stand behind the one with your name on it.”

The group reluctantly separated and walked to their respective podiums.  As Kaede walked with a heavy heart, the image of Rantaro’s corpse flashed in her mind.

Rantaro…He died without knowing his own past…No…He was murdered…by some horrible, lowlife scumbag…I’ll never forgive his killer…

Kaede glanced at Teruaki, who continued to scowl at the anxious Kiki.  Her heart sunk as she saw the slightest glows of suspicion in the scared participants’ eyes.  Kiki frowned, trying her best to avert their gazes, making Kaede feel sorry for the amnesiac girl.

Teruaki thinks that Kiki’s the culprit…and he might not be alone…but I know Kiki didn’t do it!  I have to clear her name!  That’s why…We’re going to expose the mastermind and end this killing game!  That’s all I can do for Rantaro and Kiki now…

Kaede closed her eyes, the faces of her classmates flashing before her eyes.

…His killer is in this room with us.  The mastermind who’s controlling Monokuma and forcing us to play this killing game…I don’t think I’ll ever be fully prepared to find out who that person is…But we have to find out who it is, so we can lift our suspicions of each other…So we can…end this killing game.  That’s why I’m here…  I can’t show any fear here…I must fight till the bitter end.

Kaede’s eyes opened and narrowed in determination as she made her solemn vow.  She steeled her resolve, slamming her hands on the surface of her podium.

…I will face this life-or-death class trial!

“Kaede, you’d better clear Kiki’s name!”  Koto and Kiri demanded before their father calmed them down.

“Don’t worry, I’m sure Kaede will do her very best to convince the others of Kiki’s innocence.”

“Indeed…I have little doubt that Kiki’s in good hands.”  Kyoko agreed with her husband.

Everyone took a deep breath and reluctantly faced the TV screen once more, sending silent encouragement to the girl near and dear to their hearts.

Come on, Kiki…you can do this!

Chapter Text

Monokuma cleared his throat, getting the survivors’ attention.  “Now then, let’s begin with a basic explanation of the class trial!  During the trial you’ll present your arguments for who the culprit is, and vote for whodunnit.  Vote correctly, and only the blackened will be punished.  But if you pick the wrong person…I’ll punish everyone besides the blackened, and that person will graduate from this university!  Also, refusing to vote will result in your death, so you better vote for someone!”

“…Can I ask a question first?”  Shuichi glanced at the portrait of Rantaro’s face, partially obscured by a red X in the center.  “Why is there a picture of Rantaro above the empty podium?”

“Just because he died doesn’t mean he shouldn’t participate!” Monokuma explained.  “The Class Trial is meant to be enjoyed by all of you together, regardless of whether you’ve left the mortal world!  Now, let’s get this crazy, awesome, crazy-awesome trial underway!”

“So, it’s starting, huh?”  Kaede stated rhetorically.

“So, what are we supposed to do?”  Kiki asked.  “Where do we even start?”

“Gonta never done trial before…Not sure where to begin…”

“Keh, don’t e-expect me to share anything with you!”  Teruaki spat.  “You’d all just find a way to t-turn it against me.”

“But communication is the foundation of any discussion!”  Keebo argued.

Before an argument could break out, Kirumi interjected “We should not worry about our procedure.  Especially since this is not a normal trial.  Each of us will be serving as a potential culprit, lawyer, prosecutor, and jury member.  Let us proceed with that in mind, shall we?”

“Then might I offer the first topic?”  Snake asked.

“Hey, don’t get ahead of us!”  Lotus argued.

“C…Calm down…How about we listen first?”  Kaede suggested.

“Agreed.”  Ace nodded.  “It is vital that we hear everyone’s testimony.”

“I’ll begin the conversation, then.”  Snake continued “There’s something…I found curious…Why, I wonder, didn’t the culprit take advantage of the First Blood Perk?”

“I thought that was strange, too!”  Tsumugi realized.

“I bet they just wanted to do a class trial real bad.”  Ryoma muttered.

“Then Monokuma’s the culprit!”  Clover exclaimed.  “Cuz this whole class trial was his idea!”

“Wait, is it even possible for Monokuma to be the culprit?”  Seven asked skeptically.

“Of course not.”  Monokuma denied.  “I would never do anything to you guys directly.”

Monokuma’s last word hung over their heads, causing the participants to shudder at the unspoken threat from the mechanical bear.  Kaede shook the feeling of dread from her mind and pointed at Monokuma.

“Even if you can’t, it’s a different story for the person controlling you, right?”

“Hm?”  Monokuma hummed curiously at the pianist.

“Is it possible that the mastermind controlling Monokuma killed Rantaro?”

“Mastermind?  Wuzzat?”

“Don’t play dumb with me!  Who’s the mastermind controlling you guys!?”

“The mastermind, huh?”  Ryoma mused.  “Odds are, it’s one of us…”

“It’s Kiki over here!”  Teruaki accused, pointing at the heterochromatic girl.  “Everyone else thinks so too!”

“D…Does everyone really think that…!?”  Kiki murmured, fiddling nervously with her braid.

“We’ll get to the bottom of this…”  Kaede decided, causing Monokuma to giggle.


“Before we determine the mastermind, we must uncover the culprit.”  Snake suggested.

“Then…we could start by determining the sequence of events?” 

Shuichi’s voice oozed hesitance, as though he was slightly unsure of himself.  He swallowed his anxieties and made his next recommendation with a little more confidence. 

“Let’s take a closer look at the circumstances of Rantaro’s death.”

“Gonta agrees with Shuichi!”  Gonta concurred enthusiastically.  “After all, Shuichi is a professional detective!”

“Then let us start by reviewing the incident.”  Kirumi suggested.

Alright, let’s do this!  We can find the mastermind if we work together!  When this class trial is over, we’ll know exactly who the mastermind is!

No sooner did Kaede finish her silent vow of determination than Kiki began to speak.  “Rantaro’s body was found…after we all had dinner, right?”

“He was killed in the library.”  Snake confirmed, causing Lotus to nod.

“Rantaro was alone in the library.  The culprit could’ve snuck up on him.”

“What was he even doin’ in the library anyway?”  Ryoma wondered.

“He was opening that moving bookcase for one reason…”  Clover declared “Cuz he knew about the hidden door!  That means Rantaro was masterminding this whole thing!”

Kaede focused on Clover’s statement and pointed at the girl, startling her.  “No that’s wrong!  Wait a minute!  I don’t think Rantaro was the mastermind!”

“Huh!?  Why!?”

“Because, Rantaro didn’t have the card key to open the hidden door.  You’d think the mastermind would have that card key on him, right?”

“Perhaps the culprit took the card key after killing Rantaro?”  Keebo suggested.

“But none of the pictures show Rantaro holding the card key.”  Shuichi pointed out.  “So I don’t really think he had the key at all.”

“Also, if the mastermind had died there, this killing game would’ve already ended.”  Sokyu pointed out.

“You are correct…”  Kirumi agreed.  “The possibility of him being the mastermind is quite low.”

“Then how did Rantaro know about the hidden door…?”  Gonta bit his lip, contemplating the question.

“Maybe he stumbled across it in the library?”  Snake suggested.  “You know, like how Shuichi did?”

“Or maybe the mastermind told him about it.”  Ryoma offered.

“Whaaaat?”  Kiki exclaimed.  “Why would the mastermind tell him that?”

“To lure Rantaro to the library…and kill him.”

“Does that mean the culprit and mastermind are one in the same?”  Keebo demanded in shock.

“Hmmm…That does seem plausible.”  Snake admitted.  “It’s very likely the mastermind knew about Kaede, Shuichi, and Kiki’s trap.”

“The mastermind knew about our trap this whole time?”  Kaede gasped in horror before Snake reluctantly nodded.

“This case may have become the perfect crime, thanks to your hidden cameras.  The mastermind knew about your trap and exploited it to commit their crime.”

“So after the mastermind lured Rantaro and murdered him…”  Clover followed.  “They used Kaede, Shuichi, and Kiki’s hidden cameras to arrange the perfect crime!”

“Did they really take advantage of our trap though?”  Kaede pondered nervously.  Was all that work…really for nothing…?

“Is this really…the perfect crime?”  Tsumugi panicked.  “Are we in an unsolvable mystery?”

“I guess this is a dead end…”  Lotus lamented.

“Wait, don’t give up that easily!”  Kaede pleaded.  “We already know the culprit is the mastermind.  We gotta work together to find the mastermind!  Then we can end this killing game!”

Kaede’s encouragement earned her a glare from Sokyu, causing her to quake in her shoes.  “You yap about teamwork and all that, but you still think one of us is the mastermind…”

“Yes, and I know that’s a horrible thought…”  Kaede frowned, hating the fact that she was openly admitting to suspecting her own comrades of betraying them.  “But that’s why I want to end all the terrible things happening to us!  I’ll defeat the mastermind and end this dumb killing game!  I’ll…I’ll even use this class trial to do that!”

“Kaede…”  Kiki and Shuichi breathed in awe, envious of her determination.

Even Sokyu was stunned, as he admitted, “Wow, looks like you’re determined to face even a cold, hard truth.”

A low chuckling caught their attention, causing everyone to turn their attention to Teruaki.  Smirking, he pressed his glasses against his nose, causing Kiki to visibly tense up.

“A cold, hard truth, huh?”  He grinned as he exclaimed “Then here it comes…the cold, hard truth!”

“Huh?”  Kaede asked dreadfully.

“I already figured out who killed Rantaro.”  Teruaki’s words caused Kiki to freeze, her eyes darting with dread.

“Wh…What!?”  Monokuma exclaimed, for once as rattled as everyone else.

“Why are you surprised?”  Sokyu asked curiously.

“Cuz if he’s right, that would make this the fastest class trial to date!”

“Teruaki!”  Seven asked curiously.  “Are you serious about knowing who the culprit is?”

“Yup!  Soooo…we all agree that the culprit knew about Kaede, Shuichi, and Kiki’s trap, right?”

“Duh!  That’s why they’re not in any of the pictures!”  Clover exclaimed.  “So who is it!?”

“So whoever knew about the hidden cameras is the culprit.”

“So who the hell is it!?”

Where is he…oh no….!  Kaede felt her heart sink as Teruaki pointed his finger at the shaking Kiki and snarled.

“It’s you!!!”

“Huh?!”  Kiki’s eyes widened in panic.  “Me!?!?”

“You were in on the trap!  R-Right?  Obviously, whoever set up the cameras knew about the blind spots.”

“Before breakfast was the only time someone would be able to sneak by.”  Ryoma recalled as Kiki began to sweat in fear.

“Wh…What brought this on all of a sudden…?  I…I just helped get the materials and set one of them up…I didn’t know anything about the blind spots…”

“If I set up a camera for a trap, I’d definitely keep its blind spots in mind when calibrating the position.”  Teruaki argued.  “You’re getting awfully worked up.  Look at you, you’re sweating.”

“That’s because you’re piling all this on me!”  Kiki cried, tears trickling down her cheeks. “C…C’mon, lemme off the hook already…What do you want?!”

“The more you act out, the more suspicious you make yourself out to be.”  Snake chided, causing Kiki to panic even more.

She shrieked as her podium pulled towards the center, causing her to quiver under the numerous accusatory glares centered right at her.

Everyone’s starting to suspect Kiki, but…I know she didn’t do it!  But she’s so shaken up, she might say something to harm her credibility…I need to take her side.  Rushing to judgment will only make things worse…

“Why don’t you just admit it already?”  Teruaki accused.  “You’re the culprit, aren’t you, Kiki?”

“N…N…No way!  That’s not possible!”  Kiki denied, shaking her head fervently.

“So you had nothing to do with calibrating the trap in the library?”  Lotus asked.

“I’m telling you, I had no idea!  Not like it matters…cause I never went to the library by myself!

Kaede focused on Kiki’s remark, pointing at her and bellowing, “I agree with that!”  Everyone turned to Kaede as she objected, “I’m positive Kiki never went to the library alone!  Right, Kirumi?”

Kirumi’s brow furrowed as she asked “What do you mean?”

“You should know, you procured the evidence that proves her innocence.” 

Kirumi’s eyes lit up in recognition as she solved Kaede’s hint.  “Ah, you’re referring to the pictures I developed during the investigation, correct?”

“Yeah, Kiki wasn’t alone in any of the photos, was she?”

“No, she was not.  The only photo she appeared in was one from the front door camera, when the two of you rushed in with Shuichi.”

“So if she wasn’t in any of the photos…it’s obviously impossible for her to have snuck into the library alone.”

“So there you have it…Kiki’s alibi.”  Kirumi stated.

The heterochromatic girl breathed a sigh of relief as her podium retracted back to its normal position next to Shuichi.

“You got lucky, you little…”

“Cool your jets.”  Ryoma cut off Teruaki, scolding him for his unfairly harsh treatment towards the exonerated girl.

Kiki looked gratefully at Kaede, who smiled and nodded reassuringly in return.  I told you we’d clear your name, Kiki!

Everyone watching from the manor let out a sigh of relief before Makoto concluded, “At least Kiki’s not in the hot seat anymore.”  It tore me up inside to see her in the same position I was all those years ago.

“Indeed, but that was only the first step.”  Kyoko lamented.  “They still have to find the culprit, mastermind or no.”

Makoto grimaced, all too aware of that fact.  “Yeah, but at least they took less time than I did when I was in the hot seat.”

“Now they can focus on eliminating potential suspects.”  Mokubo commented.

“I just wish I could pound Kubota for tormenting her like that…”  Kiri mumbled.

“Yeah, same here.  Kiki never did anything to that slimeball…”  Koto agreed with his sister.

“Kiri, Koto, you can be angry at Kubota if you want, and I don’t blame you.”  Makoto told his youngest children.  “But you shouldn’t wish him harm.  That kind of violent thinking doesn’t solve anything.”

“…Yes, Dad…”  They mumbled under their breath.

“Let’s keep watching.”  Maki suggested.  “It looks like they’re about to resume the discussion.”

With that, everyone turned back to the TV as Ace began to speak.

“Now that we’ve eliminated Kiki as a suspect, we can probably eliminate Kaede and Shuichi as well.  In that case, we should eliminate further suspects to narrow down our options.”

“Ah, that’s right!”  Shuichi turned to Kirumi and asked “Kirumi, weren’t you in the dining hall when the murder occurred?”

“If I recall, you were…serving tea?”  Kiki recalled, causing Kirumi to give a surprised nod.

“Yes, that is correct.  We were in the dining hall.”

“We?”  Ryoma asked curiously.

“By we, I mean Ace, Snake, Clover, Lotus, and Tsumugi.”  Kirumi clarified.

“We can dismiss the six of you as potential suspects if you were together the entire time.”  Keebo deduced.

“No, not the entire time.”  Ace interjected, shaking his head.  “At one point, Tsumugi went to the restroom.”

“Oh…so you brought that up after all…”  Tsumugi lamented as all eyes focused on her.  “It’s true.  I went to the restroom in the main building.”

“…Oh?  Did I hear that right?  The restroom, you say?  Excellent!  I was waiting for this moment!  I’m getting so excited right now!” Monokuma giggled, causing everyone to sweatdrop.

“Ew!  Why!?”  Kiki wretched in disgust.

“But I really did just go to the restroom.  Not to the library, you know?”  Tsumugi insisted, pointing out “Also, I don’t think I was there long enough to be suspicious, right?”

“You’re a cosplayer, though.”  Ryoma argued.  “You could’ve just disguised yourself as someone else while you were out.”

“D…Disguised!?”  Tsumugi panicked.  “No, no!  I don’t do disguises!”

“I don’t think that’s possible.  And I know the reason why.”  Kaede interjected, causing everyone to stare expectantly at her. 

She closed her eyes, sifting through the evidence in her mind.  After a minute, the memories of sifting through Tsumugi’s closet and the Trash Room flashed in her brain.

I get it!  “Tsumugi doesn’t have access to any clothes that aren’t her own!  I checked her room, and the only clothes she has are duplicates of what she’s wearing right now.  I even checked the Trash Room to see if she had thrown anything away, but there weren’t any traces of clothes left behind, or evidence that the incinerator had been used.”

“And even if I did have any of your clothes, disguising isn’t what cosplay is supposed to be!”  She clenched her fist as her eyes flared with passion.  “Lately, some people prefer to cosplay as non-fictional characters, which is unforgivable. It’s so unforgivable that I wish they’d be plagued with a hideous skin condition if they even attempt it…I’d call it…cospox!”

“Yeah…that sounds pretty gross…”  Kaede muttered as everyone sweatdropped at the cosplayer’s rant.

“I see…”  Ryoma mused.  “If that’s the case, then there’s no way you could’ve been in disguise.  Sorry about that, Tsumugi.  I just thought it was something to check.”

“Oh, no, it’s fine.”  Tsumugi assured the former tennis player.  “I’m not bothered by it at all.”

“Getting back on topic, we now have alibis for the people in the dining hall.”  Kirumi reminded them.

“So we know that Kiki, Kaede, Shuichi, Kirumi, Ace, Snake, Clover, Lotus, and Tsumugi can’t be the culprit.”  Sokyu summarized.

“So what about the other six?”  Clover asked.  “They’re all suspicious, right!?”

“Which of us went to the library…?”  Snake mused.

Excluding Rantaro, one of the six people who weren’t with me or at the dining hall…  Kaede glanced with dread at Keebo, Ryoma, Gonta, Seven, Sokyu, and Teruaki.  …is the mastermind of this killing game?  The person who’s making us endure all these terrible things?

“Why not torture the truth out of them?”  Lotus suggested.  “It would be the quickest method…”

“W…Wait, please!”  Teruaki pleaded.  “No t-torture!  My t-tolerance for pain is really, r-really low!  I’ll tell you everything!  A-Anything! Just please don’t h-hurt me!”

“Please just tell us what happened.”  Kirumi sighed.

“If the culprit is among that group, then wouldn’t Sokyu be the most suspicious?”  Lotus suggested, glaring at the mysterious young man.  “Just look at him…he could definitely kill someone.”

“Stop being so stupid.”  Sokyu sighed.  “The culprit could easily be anyone…like Gonta.”

“Wh…What are you talking about!?”  Gonta exclaimed in shock.  “There’s no way Gonta is the culprit!”

“Who’s the culprit!?  Who!?!?”  Clover demanded.

“Gonta is gentleman!  Gentlemen do not hurt people!”

“I…It’s not me either…”  Teruaki stammered.

“I have an alibi.”  Seven volunteered before being cut off by Clover.

“Who’s the culprit, for Kami’s sake!?”

“We need to calm down!”  Kaede interjected before the argument could get any more heated.  “If everyone talks all at once, then we can’t discuss anything!”

“…It’s alright, Kaede.  We just need to listen to everyone’s statements.”  Shuichi advised.

Listen to everyone’s statements?  Kaede’s brow furrowed before she realized “Of course, we just need to listen one at a time.” Shuichi smiled and nodded.  “Alright, one person, go first, and everyone else, let them finish before jumping in.  Now, who wants to go first?”

“Well…”  Everyone turned towards Kirumi as she furrowed her brow in concentration.  “It just occurred to me that someone left the dining hall before I could offer to serve them tea.  In fact, he seemed quite nervous during dinner.  I had thought some tea could calm him down, but by the time I thought to offer, he had already walked out.”

“Someone who left the dining hall in a nervous state…”  Kaede closed her eyes, cycling through the six remaining suspects in her mind before she settled on a familiar, gentle face.  I get it!  “You’re talking about Gonta, right?”

Kirumi nodded and turned to the bug enthusiast.  “Gonta, tell me, why did you leave before I could offer you tea?”

“Cuz…Gonta needed some air…”  As everyone’s gazes turned towards him, Gonta paled, realizing the common suspicion shared between the remaining participants.  “Hm?  Everyone suspects Gonta?  Why!?”

“Because you don’t have an alibi!”  Clover pointed out.

“Oh, Gonta just need alibi?”  Gonta clenched his fists and promised, “Okay!  Gonta will get an alibi!  Just tell Gonta where to find it!”

…That’s not how alibis work…  Kaede deadpanned as Sokyu shook his head.

“The way this debate is going…this will be difficult to refute.”

“What will you do?”  Snake asked.  “Without an alibi, we’ll all choose you.”

“Gonta, please understand that in order to reveal the truth, you must also participate.”  Kirumi told the panicked Gonta gently.

“But…Gonta is not sure where to start…”  Gonta admitted.

“You just have to tell everyone why you couldn’t have done it.”  Shuichi explained.

“If you’re not the culprit and we all vote for you, then we’re dead too.”  Ryoma warned.  “Our lives are riding on your word.  You got this.”

“Okay…Gonta will try!  For everyone’s sake!”  Gonta vowed as his podium pulled towards the center, causing Kiki to frown in empathy.

This debate is getting loud and heated, but if I just focus on everyone’s voice…Then hopefully, we can expose the mastermind!

Kaede focused as Gonta insisted “Gonta is not the culprit!  Cuz to get to the library…Gonta would need to leave the dormitories!”

“If you couldn’t leave the dormitories…you couldn’t get to the library.”  Kirumi mused.

“But who’s to say that Gonta stayed in the dorms at all?”  Ryoma pointed out.  “The door to the fifth floor is right outside the dining hall.  All he’d need to do is make sure he was completely alone in the hallway…”

“No, that’s wrong!”  Kaede interjected, shattering Ryoma’s argument before he could complete it.  “It wasn’t possible for Gonta to be alone.  Isn’t that right, Seven?”

“Huh?  Oh right, I forgot for a moment.”  The amnesiac man admitted bashfully.  “You see, after Gonta left, I went after him.  I caught him just before opened the door to his room, and suggested we take a bath in the sauna to calm his nerves.”

“But the sauna is…inside the dorms…”  Ryoma realized.

“Yeah, we stayed in the sauna for a while.  It wasn’t until after we left the sauna that the Body Discovery Announcement went off, and we were together the entire time.”

“Then it would be impossible for either of you to have gone to the library alone!”  Keebo realized.

“See?”  Gonta grinned.  “Gonta told you he’s not the culprit!”

“No, we cannot confirm that just yet.”  Kirumi rejected.


“My apologies, Gonta.  I do not mean to put you on the spot like this, but…Because I promised to do my best, I will fulfill that responsibility.”

“A…Are you saying Gonta, or Seven, could still be the culprit?”  Kaede stammered in shock.

“There is the possibility that one of them killed Rantaro from the hallway.”

“From the hallway?  How…?”  Ryoma asked curiously.

“Oh-ho!”  Lotus commented.  “I didn’t know that was a possibility.”

“Not only could they have killed Rantaro from the hallway, but also…neither of them would have appeared in any of the pictures from the cameras placed in the library.”

“Whoa, perfect!”  Clover exclaimed before she paused, running Kirumi’s hypothesis through her brain.  “But wait, then how did Gonta kill him?”

“First, I will explain the layouts of both the hallway and the library.  The side door of the library leads to a small hallway not too far from the classrooms where Kaede, Shuichi, and Kiki were keeping watch.  However, the door itself is not directly visible from any of the classrooms’ direct line of sight.  Because of this, it is possible for Gonta to have killed Rantaro while standing in the hallway.”

“Ano…But how, though?”  Kiki asked skeptically.

“In order for the murder to take place, the side door of the library must be opened.”

“Ah, wait a sec…”  Tsumugi pointed out “Isn’t that impossible?  We already said that they were bathing in the sauna when the body discovery announcement happened.”

“But nobody actually saw them enter the sauna, correct?”  Kirumi pointed out.  “Therefore, we cannot dismiss the possibility that they might be acting as each other’s accomplice.”

“But if you opened the library door, the camera would take your picture.”  Kiki pointed out.

“A…Actually, the camera wouldn’t be triggered just by opening the door.”  Shuichi admitted, causing Kiki to groan.

“Shuichi, Kaede, and Kiki’s pictures were like that as well.”  Ace recalled.  “The shutter only went off once someone set foot into the room.”

“Okay, so it was possible to open the library door, but where does that get us?”  Seven inquired.

If Gonta killed Rantaro in the library while he was still in the hallway, then…  Kaede gasped, realizing what Kirumi’s hypothesis truly was.  “So does that mean…Gonta threw the shot put ball?”

“Yes, the act of throwing a shot put ball could lead one to use it as a weapon.”  Kirumi confirmed.  “Rantaro’s body was across from the library’s side door as well.  As long as it was open, he would have been able to hit the victim.”

“That’s quite the distance, though.”  Ryoma replied skeptically.

“And that shot put ball was pretty heavy…”  Kaede commented.

“Did you forget already?”  Kirumi reminded them.  “Gonta easily carried pieces of ladder by himself during the escape plan.  It would definitely be feasible for him to throw a shot put ball at his target.”

“Well, Gonta!?”  Lotus questioned.  “Can you throw a shot put ball from that distance!?”

“Yes, probably…”  Gonta admitted without skipping a beat.

“You’re too honest, Gonta.”  Tsumugi told him as she shook her head.

“Well, I’ve heard enough.”  Clover decided “Gonta’s the culprit!”

“Wait!”  Gonta panicked, waving his hands in front of him.  “Gonta never hurt anyone!  Not even insect!  Gonta’s telling the truth!  Gentlemen never tell lies!”

“Well…there you have it.  What do you guys think?”  Ryoma asked.

“I would like to believe him…”  Snake sighed.  “But without evidence, we cannot.”

Kaede bit her lip, feeling Gonta’s anxiety seep into her own heart as most of the others turned their suspicious gazes towards the bug enthusiast.  If everyone is wrong, we’ll never find the mastermind!  I can’t let that happen!  I need to do my best to guide everyone to the right answer!

“First Kiki, now Gonta?!”  Koto uttered in disbelief.

“But Gonta’s such a gentle and gullible soul.  He’d fall for so many pranks!”  Kiri rejected.

“It does seem unlikely…Gonta’s too kind and docile to ever strike the first blow…”  Makoto defended hesitantly.

“Yes, but his blunt honesty isn’t helping his case.”  Kyoko commented.  “As long as Gonta doesn’t defend himself, then right or wrong, they’ll vote for him.”

“…That’s bad.”  Mokubo muttered simply.

“Hopefully Kaede, Shuichi, or Kiki will jump to his defense.”  Maki’s eyes softened at Gonta’s panicked expression as he was once again the center of attention and suspicion.

The others nodded as they watched the debate over Gonta’s innocence ensue.

Chapter Text

“So we agree – Gonta’s the culprit!”  Clover exclaimed, causing Gonta to panic.

“Gonta’s not the culprit!  Honest!”

“Rantaro’s corpse and the library side door…do line up with one another.”  Kirumi began.  “There are no obstacles in the way…”

Kaede locked eyes with Kirumi, her purple eyes narrowing as Kirumi’s mistake echoed in the pianist’s ears.  “No that’s wrong!  It would have been impossible for Gonta to have thrown that shot from the hallway!  Because there was an obstacle between Rantaro and Gonta!”

“Obstacle?”  Kirumi’s brow furrowed in confusion as she contemplated Kaede’s argument.

“The moving bookcase…”  Shuichi clarified.  “When Rantaro was killed, it should’ve been open.”

“Yup, that’s our evidence.”  Kaede agreed.  “The bookcase door was open when he was killed.”  Evidence that proves the bookcase door was open when he was killed…I get it!  “It’s in this picture.  Here, look.”    Kaede took out her e-Handbook and scrolled through the evidence summaries until she arrived at the pictures from the moving bookcase.  “These two pictures were taken by the camera facing the moving bookcase.”

“These photos were taken moments before Rantaro was killed.”  Keebo recalled.

“The bookcase door is completely open here, and then it closes automatically.  So by the time we entered the library, the door had already closed itself.  Before Rantaro was killed, the bookcase door was open.  Even if Gonta or Seven did throw the shot, it would’ve hit the bookcase instead.”

“I see…Well, that pretty much shuts the book on that theory, then.”  Ryoma summarized.

“If that’s true, then there’s no possibility that Gonta is the culprit.”  Snake deduced.

As Gonta’s podium reverted to its original position, the bug enthusiast’s tense shoulders sagged in relief.  Kirumi flashed him an apologetic stare, her eyes softened by humility.

“I am sorry for accusing you, Gonta.”  Kirumi’s lips tugged in a remorseful frown before Gonta shook his head.

“No, Gonta understand.  Cuz…we gotta find culprit.”

“Ugh, I hate this sentimental crap.”  Monokuma muttered.

“Why’s that?”  Clover inquired.  “It’s nice when everyone gets along like this.”

“Are you stupid or something?  I can’t stand people having a good time!”

Everyone sweatdropped before Ryoma reminded them, “It’s good that Gonta’s in the clear, but don’t break out the confetti just yet.  We still need to pin down a suspect.”

“Indeed.”  Kirumi agreed.  “We can now eliminate Gonta and Seven as suspects with their alibi.  Added to those we’ve already cleared, that leaves four.  Keebo, Ryoma, Sokyu, and Teruaki.”

“So, who should we focus on first?”  Lotus inquired.

“I…have an idea.”  Everyone turned to Ace, who frowned hesitantly as he searched for his next words.  “Granted, I don’t know yet how they pulled it off…but their earlier behavior makes them…suspicious.”

“What do you mean?”  Snake inquired curiously.

“I mean, they were exceptionally eager to pin the blame on someone who couldn’t have committed the crime.”

Eager to pin the blame on someone…  Kaede cycled through the four remaining suspects in her mind before she settled on one.  No doubt about it!  “Ace…you’re talking about Teruaki, aren’t you?”

“Huh…M…ME?!”  Teruaki exclaimed in shock, his eyes seeming to bulge out of his head, sweat dripping from his brow.

“Ah, I see where you’re coming from.”  Snake realized.  “Teruaki’s been pointing the finger at poor Kiki since the investigation.  And if he were the culprit, it would make sense for him to paint someone else to be the blackened.”

“Exactly.”  Ace narrowed his eyes at the nervous man as he accused, “You were so desperate to get out of here that when Monokuma gave the First Blood Perk, you caved and killed Rantaro in the library somehow.  And then you pinned the blame on a defenseless, traumatized little girl to cover up your crime.  Have you no shame?”

Teruaki gritted his teeth as his podium pulled towards the center.  Everyone’s accusatory glares centered straight at the scared, impulsive man.  “Wh-what are you saying?  You’re all ly-lying!  I’m not the cul-culprit!”

“Hey, just confess and get it over with, won’t you?”  Lotus insisted.

“I won’t confess!  If I killed Rantaro, why didn’t I use the First Blood Perk!?”

“I bet you just chickened out!”  Clover retorted.

“I…I didn’t!  I’m not the ki-killer!  S-someone…help me!”

Kaede frowned as she watched Teruaki quake in his shoes, clearly terrified.  It’s true that he accused Kiki of murder, and I’m definitely angry about that…but does that make him the blackened?  We can’t afford to guess wrong!  I’ve gotta make sure we come to a decision with a level head!

Kaede listened intently as Teruaki desperately cried, “I’m not the culprit!”

“You say that, but do you have any proof?”  Seven asked.  “You were pretty eager to get Kiki convicted after all.”

“Ano…I’m still hurt that he accused me…”  Kiki began hesitantly.  “But aren’t we overlooking something?”

“Overlooking?”  Clover asked curiously.  “Are you saying he couldn’t have killed Rantaro because he wears glasses or something?  Are you suggesting he couldn’t have seen Rantaro well enough to strike the killing blow?”

“…No, that’s not what I’m saying.”  Kiki clarified.  “The weapon was the shot put ball, right?  But could he have carried it?”

Kaede gasped, latching onto Kiki’s gentle argument.  “I agree with that!”  Kaede exclaimed.  “Kiki’s right, Teruaki didn’t have any free hands to carry a shot put ball.  Isn’t that right, Sokyu?”

“Oh, right.”  Sokyu commented.  “I guess it’s my turn, then.  After dinner, Teruaki and I took our laundry hampers to the laundry room to do laundry together.  We turned on the washing machines not long before we heard the body discovery announcements.”

“Ah, I see…in other words, your hands were occupied carrying your laundry, and you wouldn’t have been able to hold a shot put ball, much less use it as a deadly weapon.”  Snake deduced.

“That makes it borderline impossible for either of them to be the culprit.”  Lotus concluded.  “So, Teruaki, are you gonna say thank you to Kiki for bailing you out?”

“He’d better!”  Clover agreed.  “If I were her, I’d have left him to flounder for what he did!”

“I’m not arguing that he shouldn’t apologize or express gratitude, but if we left him to be voted as the blackened and we were wrong, we’d all be dead, except for the real culprit.”  Ace pointed out.

“F…Fine, I get it…”  Teruaki sighed, averting his gaze from the girl in question.  “Th…thanks…and…sorry…for accusing you…”

“N…No, it’s okay…I get it…we needed to check everyone’s alibi…”  Kiki assured him with a smile.

Kiki, you are too forgiving…  Kaede deadpanned, her lips tugging into an amused smile before Snake cleared his throat.

“Well, now that Teruaki and Sokyu are cleared, that just leaves two.  Keebo and Ryoma.”

“Oh, right.”  Keebo replied hesitantly.  “I realize this isn’t the strongest alibi, but the truth is we were both in our rooms when we heard the announcement.”

“Yeah, we both ran into each other on our way to the fifth floor, right outside the dining hall.”  Ryoma explained.  “I won’t say we agreed to accompany each other, but we happened to run in close proximity.”

“I see…that makes sense…”  Everyone turned to Kirumi who apologized “Sorry, your remark just reminded me of something I saw.  You see, I was in the kitchen brewing more tea when I heard the announcement.  It took me a little while to turn off the stove and put everything away.  So just as I was leaving the dining hall…I saw Ryoma and Keebo running together.  Once they disappeared through the door to the fifth floor, I immediately gave chase and arrived at the library with everyone else.”

“I see…”  Ryoma mused.  “This presents a problem, though.  We’re out of suspects now.  On top of that, we still don’t even know how Rantaro died.”

“So we only know what the weapon is?”  Clover asked incredulously.  “How are we supposed to find the mastermind with that!?”

“We know the murder weapon is the shot put ball.  But where did the culprit get it?”  Sokyu pondered.

“I think it was from the warehouse.”  Shuichi suggested.  “I saw track and field equipment there.”

“Then anyone would have been able to obtain it.  We need more information.”  Kirumi concluded.

Shuichi pursed his lips contemplatively, causing Kaede to frown in concern.  “What’s wrong, Shuichi?”

“Hm?”  Startled, Shuichi shook his head and assured her, “A…Ah, it’s nothing…”

He placed his hand against his lips as his eyes subtly widened, as if he were muffling a gasp.  Kaede and Kiki frowned in concern, but before either of them could press him on it, Clover interjected with a frustrated groan.

“Gyaaaaaaaah!  How do we find this darn culprit now!?”

“D…Don’t worry, you guys!”  Kaede nervously assured them.  “We’re one step closer to the truth, so don’t give up!  Try to remember what happened!  We can find more clues left by the mastermind!”

“Clues?”  Gonta wondered “What kinda clues?”

“Like…”  Kaede scrambled for something to latch on to, something to move the debate forward.  “If Rantaro was deceived by the mastermind and went to the library…Maybe somebody saw Rantaro having a suspicious conversation with someone?  It would be a good idea to figure out who knew about our trap.  Either way, anything you guys remember might be able to help with the case!”

“Yes, yes.”  Lotus agreed.  “But…are you sure the culprit is also the mastermind?”

“Huh?”  Kaede furrowed her brow in confusion.  “Yeah, I think so…Why?”

“Then my suspicion about how the culprit entered the library is correct.”  Everyone stared at the scantily clad woman curiously as she elaborated, “If the culprit is the mastermind, they could’ve entered the library while avoiding the cameras.”

What?  A shocked Kaede thought incredulously.

“You serious!?”  Seven exclaimed.  “There’s a way to do that!?”

A way for the culprit to enter the library without being caught by the cameras…Is that really possible?  Kaede pondered.

“But…with all the cameras they set up…”  Koto began.

“…The mastermind should have had nowhere to hide.”  Kiri finished in disbelief.

“It wasn’t foolproof though, or else the mastermind would have been caught.”  Mokubo pointed out.

“Your brother’s right, no plan is foolproof.”  Kyoko agreed with her eldest son.  “It’s not impossible for there to have been blind spots that the mastermind could have exploited.”

“But…how?”  The twins pondered before Maki spoke up.

“Let’s listen, it looks like Lotus is about to explain her hypothesis.”

Makoto nodded in agreement.  “Good idea, then we’ll see if her logic is sound.”

With that, they turned their attention back to the TV as Lotus began to make her case.

“The culprit was hiding in the library the whole time.  Before Kaede, Shuichi, and Kiki even placed the cameras.”

“Where would they have hidden?”  Keebo inquired.

“Inside the hidden door.”

“No that’s wrong!”  Kaede exclaimed, rebutting Lotus’s hypothesis.  “Wait a minute, Lotus.  I don’t think it was possible to hide in the hidden door.”

“Oh, is that so?”  Lotus questioned.

“I don’t think the hidden door was ever used.”  Shuichi offered.  “While investigating the mastermind, I placed dust on the card reader.  If anyone swiped their card key, the dust would have fallen.”

Kaede nodded, adding “We already confirmed during the investigation that there was no dust on the floor.  The bookcase hadn’t been opened, so I doubt anyone was hiding in there.”

You are blind to the truth!”  Startled, Kaede turned to Snake, who tutted at her.  “My my, how naïve, Kaede.”

“Huh?  Wh…What do you mean?”

“Very well, permit me to explain.  You see, the culprit could have hidden themselves in the library before the cameras were even set.  You won’t be able to prove anything with weak reasoning like that.”

Rebuttal Showdown -Truth Blade-: Snake vs Kaede!

“Even if we rule out the hidden door…”  Snake reasoned. 

We’ve already ruled out the hidden door.  Kaede thought.  That’s not even up for debate.

“The library has no shortage of hiding spots.” 

What hiding spots?

“There’s piles of books scattered all around the library.” 

Could those really have been hiding spots?

“Since the culprit was there before the cameras were placed…They could have been hiding there, agreed?” 

Is that even possible?

“They took out Rantaro, then took off.”

“But if the culprit killed him and ran away, wouldn’t they have been caught on camera?”  Kaede finally countered, her mind flashing to the cameras she, Shuichi, and Kiki set up.

“Not if they went back into hiding…”  Snake rebutted. 

When could they have done that?  Kaede wondered.

“…right after killing Rantaro.” 

Could they really have done that in such a short time?

“Then, once we’ve all gathered the body…”

Then what, Snake?

“All they had to do is act like they just ran in…rejoin everyone, and we’d be none the wiser.”

Kaede seized on Snake’s last statement, exclaiming “I’ll cut your words!”

“The culprit met him inside the library?  That doesn’t seem possible though.”

“Let’s hear it, then.”  Snake smiled curiously at the pianist.  “What’s your reason?”

“If you take a look at the three pictures from the camera we placed near the front door…”  Kaede scrolled through the evidence summaries on her e-Handbook and held up the tablet for everyone to see.  “This is when Shuichi, Kiki, and I rushed in.  This one shows Ace, Gonta, and Seven running in after they heard Kiki scream.  And finally, everyone else coming in after hearing the body discovery announcement.”

Kaede smiled as she placed her e-handbook back on the podium.

“You can clearly see everyone entering the library in these pictures.  It wouldn’t make sense if there was someone hiding in the library the whole time.”

“Well…That does cover everyone, now doesn’t it?”  Snake smiled humbly and nodded at Kaede.  “Forgive me, since I couldn’t see the photos, I could only rely on my memory of your verbal descriptions of the photos’ contents.”

“Don’t worry about it.”  Kaede assured him.  “It’s better to think about each possibility anyway.  Right, Shuichi?”

“Hm?” Startled out of his contemplation, Shuichi replied “Ah, ano, yes.”

Is Shuichi okay?  Kaede and Kiki frowned at Shuichi’s contemplative, slightly dreadful expression.  He’s been really quiet…Is he worried about something?

Kirumi’s ponderings interrupted Kaede’s thoughts, bringing her attention back to the discussion.  “So the real question is how the culprit entered and exited the library.”

“We cannot continue until we address that problem first!”  Keebo agreed.

“It’s quite the mystery.”  Snake mused.  “How did the killer avoid being caught by the cameras?”

“It’s almost like they were invisible.”  Clover commented.

“But both doors to library had hidden cameras on them…”  Gonta reminded them.

“How about the vent in the library?”  Seven offered.  “Maybe they came in through there.”

“But Shuichi, Kiki, and I were on lookout in the classroom with the connecting vent.”  Kaede countered.  “There’s no way someone snuck into the library through the vent.”  That’s right…We have evidence that proves that would’ve been impossible.  I get it!  “When I set the cameras, I also stacked some books in front of the vent.  If someone did crawl in and out from the vent, the books would’ve collapsed.  While we were investigating, they were still neatly stacked the way I placed them.”

“Maybe they put the books back when they left the room.”  Ace suggested.

“That would be quite difficult to achieve on such a narrow bookcase…”  Kirumi pointed out.

“If we’ve ruled out the vent and doors, then how’d the culprit get in and out of the library?”  Lotus questioned.

“Gonta can’t think of any other way to enter…”  Gonta admitted.

“Eureka!”  Everyone turned towards Keebo, his eyes glowing in realization.  “I know how the culprit got in the library…the front door!”

“Ano…Have you been paying attention?”  Ace questioned.  “The camera would’ve taken their picture.”

“Not if the culprit timed their movements around the camera intervals!

“Huh?  Intervals?”  Kaede questioned, stunned by the new information that Keebo had neglected to share with them.

“What is that…?”  Teruaki demanded, narrowing his eyes suspiciously.

“Basically, the culprit knew about the cameras and their intervals.”  Keebo elaborated.  “So they snuck into the library between camera shots!  To avoid appearing in the photos!”

“Keebo!”  Kaede demanded angrily.  “What’s this interval you’re talking about!?”

“Well, after the shutter snaps, the camera can’t take a new photo for 30 seconds.  I redesigned the cameras to auto-roll the film instead of having to do it manually.”

“That’s the first time I’m hearing about this!  Why didn’t you tell us from the start!?”

“B…But…I told Shuichi after I gave him the remodeled cameras.”  Keebo stammered, causing everyone’s eyes to widen.

“What?”  Kaede and Kiki breathed in shock.

“Sh…Shuichi…?”  Tsumugi stammered.

“Ah!  I…I’m…I’m sorry!”  Shuichi apologized.  “I…I guess…I forgot to tell you…”

“How could you forget to tell us…?”  The two girls asked, stunned by the detective’s forgetfulness.

“I didn’t think it would affect the plan.”  Shuichi hesitantly defended.  “I…I didn’t realize it would matter…”  He sighed, closing his eyes and slightly bowing his head in shame.  “I guess I just forgot to mention it…I’m really sorry…”

I forgot.  What a pitiful excuse.”  Teruaki spat.

“Yeaaah, that’s pretty much a lie.”  Lotus agreed.

“N…No, it’s not a lie…”  Kaede stammered in her rush to defend her friend.  “He probably just forgot…There was so much going on at the time…it’s only natural to forget, you know?”

“Yeah, we all forget things sometimes, right, Shuichi?!”  Kiki vouched, looking up at Shuichi pleadingly.

“Y…Yeah…”  Shuichi muttered, though it was clear his agreement did little to convince those skeptical of him.

“Let’s put that aside for now and talk about the camera intervals.”  Ryoma suggested.

“Each interval lasted for 30 seconds, correct, Keebo?”  Kirumi asked.

“Yeah, sure.”  Keebo confirmed.  “The three cameras go off when they pick up movement…From there, it takes 30 seconds for the film to auto-roll to the next photo.”

“So, for 30 seconds, anyone could’ve entered the library without their photo being taken!?”  Seven inquired.

“That may have been enough time to kill Rantaro and exit the library…”  Kirumi concluded.

“It’s definitely enough time!”  Clover agreed.  “You just gotta move at lightning speed!”

“I see, I see.”  Lotus commented.  “Then there’s no doubt the culprit made use of the cameras’ intervals.”

“That means the culprit was Keebo all along!”  Teruaki accused.  “Since he knew about the intervals!”

“Don’t be ridiculous!”  Keebo fiercely defended.  “I have an alibi!  Remember, my room?”

“Well, who else knew about the intervals?”  Teruaki questioned.  “Hmm…Now who was it again?”

“…Shuichi.”  Sokyu answered, causing Shuichi to gasp in shock.

“Well then, does this mean he is the culprit we have been seeking?”  Snake wondered.

“Sh…Shuichi…?”  Kaede and Kiki gasped.

“Hey!  What gives, Shuichi!?”  Lotus questioned.

“Shuichi would never do that.”  Gonta defended.  “Right, Shuichi?”

Shuichi however only remained silent, causing Kaede and Kiki to panic.

“You had better speak soon.”  Snake advised him.  “Your silence only damns you further.”

“F…Fess up already!”  Clover demanded.  “Did you kill Rantaro!?”

Shuichi gritted his teeth, starting to sweat in a panic.  Kaede and Kiki frowned, worrying for their friend despite how suspicious he appeared.

“Hey…Shuichi…?”  Kaede asked nervously.  “What’s gotten into you?”

“Don’t tell me you’re gonna plead the fifth now.”  Ryoma glared suspiciously at the silent detective.

N…No way…  Kaede shook her head in fervent denial as Shuichi’s podium pulled into the center.  Shuichi can’t be the culprit…That’s definitely wrong!  There’s no way!  I refuse to believe Shuichi is the culprit!  That’s…definitely not possible!

“No…no way!”  Kiri refused to believe what was happening on the TV screen.

“Shuichi’s too shy, he wouldn’t kill anyone!”  Koto agreed.

Makoto frowned, not wanting to doubt one of his own former students, but he couldn’t ignore Shuichi’s willful silence.  Why isn’t he saying anything…?  Is he actually the culprit?  Or…is he trying to protect someone…like I did…?

“I want to believe in Shuichi.”  Kyoko admitted with sadness in her eyes.  “But if he doesn’t speak up, then right or wrong, he’s going to be the most suspicious.”

“Let’s hope that this really is just a misunderstanding.”  Maki muttered.

“But if he won’t speak for himself, then Kaede or Kiki will have to bail him out of trouble.”  Mokubo commented.

“Say something already.”  Sokyu demanded.

“Your tongue-tied silence speaks volumes!”  Clover exclaimed with a snarl.  “I knew you were the culprit!”

“W…Wait just a minute!”  Kaede interjected, slamming her hands on the podium.  “None of that is possible!  Shuichi was with me and Kiki the whole time we were on lookout.  When are you suggesting Shuichi killed Rantaro?”

“Were you really together the whole time?”  Sokyu questioned, stunning the pianist.

“Huh?  What do you mean?”

“I’m asking if you three all moved as a group the whole time.”

“W…Well…I guess we weren’t together the whole time…”  Kaede reluctantly admitted.  “Once the receiver went off, Shuichi ran out first, then Kiki, and I rushed from behind.”

“So that’s when Shuichi went to kill Rantaro!”  Teruaki exclaimed.

“N…No!”  Kaede stammered desperately.  “Shuichi wouldn’t kill anyone!”

“That’s right, he wouldn’t dare!”  Kiki agreed with the pianist before Snake shook his head.

“Don’t become emotional.  We must seek the truth in a calm and logical manner.  Or all our lives will be lost here.”

“We’re not being emotional here.”  Kaede rebutted.  “We’re saying it with conviction!”  Even if Shuichi arrived at the library before either of us, he couldn’t have killed Rantaro because…

“By the way…”  Sokyu interrupted.  “I wanna confirm one thing with you, Kaede.  Who set the security sensor on the bookcase?  It was Shuichi, right?”

“Huh?”  Kaede gasped before she reluctantly nodded.  “Y…Yeah…Shuichi was the one who set up the security sensor…What about it…?”

“Did you actually check for yourself if the sensor was set on the bookcase, Kaede?”

“No, I didn’t check…”  The pianist reluctantly admitted.

“Did it ever occur to you that Shuichi could have lied about setting the sensor?  Hmmm?”

“A…A lie…?”

“Shuichi wouldn’t lie to us!”  Kiki vouched, turning to the detective with a pleading look in her eyes.  “Right, Shuichi?”

Her valiant defense was only returned with silence, disturbing both Kiki and Kaede before Sokyu continued.  “Shuichi pretended to place the sensor on the hidden bookcase door…But in actuality, he was holding it the whole time.  And when he met up with you, he secretly triggered the sensor…to make the security alarm go off.”

“That would cause Kaede to assume that someone had moved the bookcase…”  Snake mused.

No!  Kaede panicked.  At this rate, everyone’s going to think Shuichi is the culprit!   I have to do something!  I know for a fact that he’s not the culprit!  So…I gotta do something!  Shuichi couldn’t have had the sensor on him…That’s right, and I should have evidence that proves it beyond a shadow of a doubt!

“The security sensor was armed, but…”  Sokyu hypothesized.  “…the moving bookcase isn’t what triggered it.”

With more force behind her movement, Kaede pointed at Sokyu.  “No that’s wrong!”  Kaede exclaimed with conviction, stopping his accusation in its tracks.  “Wait a minute, this is weird!  If the security sensor wasn’t placed, then…”  Kaede pulled out her e-Handbook and displayed the photo of Rantaro moving the bookcase.  “…we wouldn’t have been able to take that picture!  We were only able to get it because the sensor was triggered by the hidden door!”

“…I guess you’re right.”  Sokyu shrugged.  “Didn’t think that far ahead.”

“You’re giving up that easily!?”  Teruaki exclaimed incredulously, earning him another shrug.

“Whatever.  I made a mistake.  Big Deal.”

“So you see!?”  Kaede insisted “Shuichi can’t be the culprit!”

“Now wait just a minute…”  Ryoma interjected.  “The security sensor had a power supply, so what if it went like this?  The security sensor was set up on the bookshelf, and Shuichi had its receiver…However, Shuichi turned the receiver off.”

“Huh?  How come?”  Lotus questioned curiously.

“That would get you a picture, but no alarm when Rantaro moved the bookcase.  And thanks to the 30 second interval, he’s got time to go in after Rantaro.”

“He could have collected the sensor from the hidden bookcase after killing Rantaro.”  Kirumi realized.

“I see.”  Snake commented.  “Then he caused the receiver to go off in front of Kaede and Kiki to trick them.”

“It’s certainly plausible, considering that Shuichi knew about the intervals.”  Keebo admitted.

“That sounds needlessly complicated…”  Lotus retorted skeptically.  “But I guess it’s not impossible.”

“Then…Shuichi really is the culprit?”  Clover asked in shock.

“So the professional detective is the killer.”  Tsumugi mused.  “What a plot twist!”

“W-Wait!”  Kaede objected.  “Why do you guys think he’s the culprit!?”

“Yeah, it doesn’t make sense!”  Kiki agreed as they both turned to the silent detective and pleaded with him.

“Shuichi, please say something!  Why aren’t you saying anything!?”

“Shuichi…what’s wrong?”  Gonta asked as his face paled.  “You’re…not the culprit, are you?”

“Hey, you gonna say anything?”  Lotus demanded.  “We’ll all vote for you if you don’t.”

“Are you okay with being the culprit?”  Clover questioned.  “Are you ready to turn yourself in?”

Wh-What should I do…?  Kaede panicked.  Everyone…suspects Shuichi…There’s no way he’s the culprit…But even so…Why won’t Shuichi say anything?  Is there…a reason he won’t say anything?  Kaede’s eyes narrowed as they lit with a determined fire.  If that’s the case…then it’s all up to me.  To protect everyone, I need to take control of this debate.  Even if that means I have to lie to do it.

Chapter Text

“Let’s go over the case one more time.”  Ace suggested.

“The security sensor was placed on the moving bookcase…”  Ryoma began.  “Shuichi also had the receiver…

Kaede seized on the opportunity, vowing I’ll turn this lie…into the truth!  “S-Sorry, you guys!  I forgot to tell you something important!”

“Forgot?”  A surprised Gonta questioned.

Well, here goes…  “To tell you the truth…it was me.  I had the receiver.”

“Huh?”  Sokyu questioned.

“So that’s why there’s no way Shuichi could’ve turned off the receiver!”

Shuichi and Kiki’s eyes widened in shock as Keebo concluded “If that is true, then the entire premise of the argument thus far is wrong…”

“Is this true, Kaede?”  Kirumi asked gently.

They’re…actually buying it…  “O-Of course!”  Kaede stammered nervously.  “C’mon, would I lie to you guys?”  This could work, this could actually wo-

“…You just did.”

“Huh?”  Kaede turned to Kiki with widened eyes as the heterochromatic girl lowered her eyes in somber disappointment.

“You lied to us, Kaede.  Or did you forget that I was there too?”

“N…No…I didn’t forget that you were there…”

“Then surely you remember that Shuichi asked both of us to take the receiver, but we declined.  So the receiver never left Shuichi’s hands.”

“Kaede, is this true?”  Ace questioned, hurt laced into his voice.  Kaede’s eyes became glossy as Ace’s interrogation and Kiki’s disapproving stare got to her.  “Did you lie to us about this?”

“Well, I-you see…”  Kaede trailed off, the guilty lump in her throat rendering her unable to argue.

“Kaede, I know how you feel.”  Kiki stared pleadingly into Kaede’s eyes.  “You believe in Shuichi’s innocence, and since he won’t defend himself for whatever reason, you tried to defend him by whatever means necessary.  But…”  Kiki sighed “I can’t go along with a lie.  Lies will just create more lies!  The culprit may be lying to save their own skin, but we can’t fight fire with fire!  If we’re going to get justice for Rantaro’s death, we have to be honest and fight lies with truth.”

“Kiki…”  A single tear trickled down Kaede’s cheek as she averted her gaze from Kiki’s passionate, fiery eyes.  “Sorry, everyone…she’s right, I lied just now about having the receiver.”

“Kaede…”  Shuichi finally muttered.

“That’s my girl.”  Kyoko smiled.  “She’s so determined to find the truth, she’ll refuse to lie or bluff.”

“She’s really unique among detectives.”  Makoto agreed with a similarly proud smile.

“I hate to interrupt, but don’t celebrate just yet.”  Everyone turned to Maki, who frowned at the TV.  “Her debunking only makes Shuichi more suspicious to everyone else.  They’re no closer to the truth than they were before.”

“And Kaede’s credibility is damaged.”  Mokubo concurred.  “The moment she told a lie, she harmed any influence she might have had to steer this trial towards the truth.”

Kyoko nodded in agreement with her son.  “Indeed, I was thinking the same thing.  Kaede’s gambit, albeit well-intentioned, was a poor move that just harmed everyone’s belief in her.”

“But…they still have Kiki…”  Kiri defended.

“Yeah…they’ll be fine…”  Koto weakly concurred.

“For her sake, I hope you’re right.”  Maki muttered before they turned back to the TV.

Their eyes focused on the pianist as she tried to defend her lie.

“But I swear!  It was only because I know Shuichi’s not the culprit!  I know I’m asking a lot of you guys after what I just pulled, but please, believe that!”

“Well, what do you guys think?”  Ace asked.  “To believe or not to believe Kaede?”

“Ano…I do wanna believe Kaede, but Shuichi does seem pretty suspicious, especially after she lied.”  Clover admitted.  “He has been strangely quiet for a while now…”

“I agree.”  Lotus concurred.

“Shuichi is the only person here who’s suspicious.”  Sokyu commented.

“So we all agree that Shuichi did it!?”  Teruaki asked.  “Then let’s just vote already!”

“No, I still think it is too soon to determine the culprit.”  Keebo objected.

“Ano…I agree.  I sort of can’t believe that Shuichi is the culprit.”  Seven admitted.

“This is quite troublesome…”  Kirumi lamented.  “It seems our opinions are on opposite ends.”

“How are we supposed to decide?”  Gonta wondered, biting his lip.  “We’re split right down the middle…”

Hold on!”  Everyone turned to the grinning Monokuma, his outburst having shattered the dilemma.  “…Split!?  Did you just say split!?”  Monokuma laughed gleefully “You did!  I heard it!  I heard it with my belly button microphone!”

“So wait, your ears don’t do anything!?”  Clover exclaimed, only for Monokuma to ignore her.

“Kibou University is proud to present its very own morphenomenal trial grounds!

“…Morphenomenal trial grounds?”  Sokyu questioned.

E-Either way, we have to do something.  Kaede panicked.  We can’t vote for Shuichi, because he’s definitely not the culprit.  If we vote for him, all hope is lost…I won’t be able to save anyone…  The pianist regained her composure, feeling the fire of determination flare in her heart.  But I haven’t lost hope yet!  I won’t give up!  Before I can save everyone…I need to make sure we’re all on the same page!

“…This is new…”  Makoto commented as they watched Monokuma take out a key and put it in a lock.

“Indeed…”  Kyoko lamented as the podiums rose up into a spiraling helix once Monokuma turned the lock.  “It seems that the mastermind is going all out with this killing game…”

“You mean this never happened during any of the killing games from the past?”  Maki inquired curiously, causing Makoto and Kyoko to shake their heads.

“No, we never had any huge splits like this.”  Makoto explained.  “We managed to get on the same page fairly quickly.”

“Indeed, we never had to deal with sustained factions during our class trials.”  Kyoko concurred.

“Their podiums have organized into two columns.”  Mokubo’s voice cut their argument short as everyone turned their attention back to the TV.

“Looks like…Snake, Clover, Lotus, Teruaki, Sokyu, Ryoma, and Tsumugi are against Shuichi.”  Koto observed.

“That leaves Kaede, Kiki, Keebo, Seven, Ace, Kirumi, and Gonta defending Shuichi.”  Kiri noted.

“Well, let’s see what they settle on.”  Maki suggested.

Everyone nodded before they watched Snake begin their argument.

Debate Scrum Split Opinion: Is Shuichi the culprit?

Shuichi is the culprit!  Snake, Clover, Lotus, Teruaki, Sokyu, Ryoma, Tsumugi

Shuichi isn’t the culprit!  Kaede, Kiki, Shuichi, Keebo, Seven, Ace, Kirumi, Gonta

“You hid what you knew about the camera intervals, Shuichi.”

“But Keebo was silent about the intervals too…”  Gonta shook his head.

“Unlike Shuichi, Keebo actually has an airtight alibi!”  Clover narrowed her eyes.

“Kiki backed up Shuichi’s alibi, didn’t she?”  Ace countered.

“Shuichi, Kaede, and Kiki weren’t together the whole time, were they?”  Sokyu frowned in skepticism.

“All of them were together when the receiver went off.”  Kirumi corrected.

“If Shuichi had the receiver, it could’ve been disguised.”  Ryoma pointed at the silent detective.

“Shuichi offered to give them the receiver!”  Keebo reiterated.

“But that’s Kaede and Kiki’s lie, isn’t it?”  Teruaki accused.

“I exposed Kaede’s lie, didn’t I?!”  Kik’s eyes seemed to glow with frustration and anger.

“She could’ve only done that to deceive us.”  Lotus pursed her lips.

“I doubt she’d be capable of trying to deceive us.”  Seven mused.

“I don’t want to admit it, but Shuichi is still the most suspicious person here.”  Tsumugi admitted, her lips tugging into a hesitant frown.

“We’ll know whether or not he’s suspicious when we talk this through!”  Kaede insisted, causing the two sides to engage in an intense glaring match.

Their eyes narrowed, the flames of stubborn determination burning brighter and brighter until, at last, Snake, Clover, Lotus, Teruaki, Sokyu, Ryoma, and Tsumugi blinked.  Seizing the moment, Kaede, Kiki, Keebo, Seven, Ace, Kirumi, and Gonta pointed at the evident losers of the debate and bellowed.


“Everyone, you have to believe me!”  Kaede cried as everyone’s podiums returned to their previous positions.  “Shuichi is not the culprit!  If we vote for Shuichi, we’ll be making the wrong choice!  And if that happens…”  Kaede’s lip quivered as she imagined everyone else dead on the floor.  “Everyone will be executed…”  Her eyes narrowed in defiant determination.  “I definitely won’t let that happen, even if it costs me my life!”

“Kaede…”  Shuichi muttered in awe.

“Yeah, it’s just like Kaede said!”  Kiki exclaimed.  “Shuichi isn’t the culprit!”

“Gonta believes in Shuichi, too!”  Gonta smiled at the detective as his podium pulled back next to Kiki.  “Gentlemen always believe in friends!”

“Well, if Shuichi’s not our culprit…then who is?”  Ryoma questioned.

“We’ve already exhausted all possible avenues of discussion.”  Snake pointed out, crossing his arms over his chest.

“No way.”  Kaede shook her head.  “There has to be something else we can discuss.  We just gotta think.  Right, Shuichi?”

“Huh?”  Shuichi muttered under his breath.

“Shuichi…even though you’re not the culprit, you’ve been quiet for a while…It’s because you realized something, huh?”  She pointed at him and accused, “You’re scared to reveal the truth.”  Shuichi gasped, all but confirming Kaede’s deduction.  “I thought so…Shuichi…Answer me this-what kind of truth did you realize?”

“Shuichi, what did you deduce?”  Kiki prodded.

“Don’t be scared to say it.”  Kaede pleaded.  “Not just for me…but for everyone else.  Please…face the truth.”

Kaede and Kiki stared at him pleadingly until he finally caved.  “…The picture.”

“…Picture?”  Kirumi’s brow furrowed in confusion.

“The picture from the camera aimed at the hidden door, just before the murder.”

“You mean the one that…”  Kiki’s eyes widened as the gears finally turned in her head, connecting the dots and leading her to the same conclusion that Shuichi had arrived at.

“I always thought it was suspicious…The way Rantaro was acting…”

“Hm?  What’s suspicious?”  Lotus inquired.

“If you look at the picture, it looks like Rantaro is trying to remove the camera…But that must mean he noticed the camera we set up.”

“That’s true.”  Clover admitted.  “But when did he notice that?”

“I believe it was when the camera took its first picture.”  Shuichi explained as he held up the image of the picture on his e-Handbook.  “This picture was taken when Rantaro moved the bookcase.  At that moment, something made him notice the camera.  So, he tried to remove it, and that’s when the bookcase closed.  The sensor was triggered, and that’s when this picture was taken.”

“If that is the case, we must find the reason why he noticed the camera.”  Kirumi decided.

“I’ve been contemplating what it could be.  Why did he notice the camera?”  Shuichi scrolled to the next photo.  “And the answer…is in this picture.”

I see…Shuichi knows…The reason why Rantaro noticed the camera was because…I get it!  “Because of the flash, right?”  Kaede deduced.

“The flash?”  Clover asked, confused.

“Yes.”  Shuichi nodded.  “The flash went off when the hidden door camera took a picture.  Rantaro noticed the camera’s flash.”

“But how can you tell the flash went off?”

“Well, if you compare it to the other pictures that we have…”  Shuichi quickly scrolled through the pictures the three cameras took.  “Remember the pictures that were taken when I took down the cameras?  This is the picture taken when I removed the front camera…And this is the picture from when I removed the rear camera.  And this…is the picture of Rantaro.”

“Whoa!  The brightness is totally different!”  Seven realized before Keebo nodded.

“Same room, circumstance, and camera.  And yet, there is a disparity in brightness.”

“Because only the camera aimed at the hidden door had the flash turned on.”

“What was the purpose of leaving the flash on?”  Kirumi inquired.  “Especially since it was meant to be hidden…”

“A mistake, maybe?”  Sokyu suggested before Shuichi shook his head.

“It’s no mistake.  There was an objective here.  That camera was placed for another reason.”

“Another reason, huh?”  Kaede muttered.  I know this.  There’s only one reason the camera’s flash was used…I get it!  “The flash was used to lure whoever moved the bookcase to the camera.  So when the flash went off, they would have noticed the camera right away.  And that’s exactly what happened.  Rantaro moved the bookcase, noticed the flash, and then walked over to the camera.  But the culprit didn’t expect the camera to take another picture when the door closed.”

Kaede’s eyes seemed to glow with an abnormal intensity as she spoke.  Everyone frowned, unsure of what to make of the pianist’s strengthened resolve.

“Hey, Kaede…?”  Seven asked.

“What is it?”

“Is…something wrong?  You’ve been acting…kinda strange.”


Snake nodded in agreement.  “Your last few remarks carry…more conviction than before.”

“Do you know who the culprit is?”  Clover demanded.

A moment of silence passed as Kaede’s lips tugged into a small smile.  “Yep, I know.  I’ve known for a long time.”

“Hm?”  Gonta’s eyes widened in shock.  “Long time?”

“Because there was only one person able to set the flash on the camera.  Isn’t that right, Shuichi, Kiki?”

Kiki and Shuichi gulped, their hearts sinking as the terrible truth was now completely clear to them.

“The culprit of this incident is…”

“Who is it?!”  Koto and Kiri exclaimed.  “Who’s the culprit?!”

Mokubo narrowed his eyes suspiciously, as did his mother, the gears turning in their heads.  A moment later, Makoto gasped, his eyes widening in horror.

Oh kami…  Makoto realized.  Was it really…?

“Whatever you’re thinking, we’re about to find out.”  Maki gestured to the TV.  “It looks like someone’s about to speak.”

The Naegis looked to the TV with dread, their hearts sinking into their stomachs as they at last heard the deduction that nobody wanted to hear.

No doubt about it!

Kaede felt everyone but Shuichi and Kiki disappear from their podiums, leaving the three of them alone in the trial room.

Well, this is as far as it goes…  She smiled at her horrified friends.  I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t get to the mastermind.  Tears trickled down her cheeks as she looked down in remorse.  I’m sorry…everyone.  I’m sorry…Rantaro.  I’m sorry…Kiki.  I’m sorry…Shuichi.  You stayed silent this whole time because you realized it already, right?

Shuichi could only nod as Kiki stared sadly at the detective.  Both of them seemed to hold back tears of shock as they tried to digest the horrible truth.

But, you can’t do that.  It may be the end of me, but I want my wish to…  I’m giving it to you, Shuichi, Kiki.  Kaede smiled with faith in her friends, friends that she hoped would find the strength to walk forward without her.  From now on, you two are going to carry on my wish!  You’re going to protect everyone!

Kaede…I know what you want me to do…  Shuichi barely held back his tears, feeling the pressure the pianist had just handed to him and Kiki.  That’s so cruel…  Shuichi shook his head, unable to bear the massive responsibility.  …I can’t…!

…Kiki…?  Kaede stared pleadingly into Kiki’s heterochromatic eyes.  Someone needs to speak the truth, and Shuichi’s too scared to reveal the truth.  He needs someone to help him bear the weight of the truth, someone who will hold his hand and help him to grow into the detective I know he is!  Kiki, will you…?

…I understand.  Tears streamed down Kiki’s cheeks as she vowed, I’ll do it.  You can trust me.  I won’t let your wish…go ungranted.

Kiki opened her eyes, glancing around the trial room.  Everyone was staring expectantly at Kaede, except for Shuichi, who gripped the rails of the podium.  Kiki’s eyes softened in empathy, knowing just how much emotional turmoil he was going through.  She sighed, briefly looking into Kaede’s eyes before the pianist smiled sadly and nodded in silent assent.  The young girl opened her lips and spoke four words that she knew would shock everyone in the room.

“…Kaede is the culprit.”

Chapter Text

“Ka…Kaede did it?!” Koto and Kiri gasped in shock, completely blindsided by Kiki’s accusation.

“…I knew it…”

Everyone turned their surprised eyes to Mokubo.  The quiet boy stared intently at the screen.

“Moku…”  Koto breathed.

“…You knew…all this time…?”  Kiri questioned incredulously.

Mokubo frowned.  “I…had my suspicions…”

“But you didn’t have proof, so you kept it to yourself, am I wrong?”  Kyoko guessed, causing her eldest son to nod in confirmation.

Normally I’d congratulate you for your foresight, but finding a culprit in these class trials isn’t something I think one should boast about…  Makoto lamented sadly.  His thoughts went out to his daughter, who had accepted the monumental responsibility of finding the culprit.  “Kiki…”

“Let’s…see what happens from here.”  Maki suggested.  “Kiki’s probably arrived at the truth, but there may be some who aren’t yet convinced, including Shuichi.”

Makoto and Kyoko frowned, realizing that Shuichi’s silence indicated his probable unwillingness to accuse Kaede, in spite of the evidence.  With a heavy sigh, they watched as the fallout from Kiki’s accusation unfolded.

“Huh!?”  Keebo gasped.

“Kaede…did it?”  Gonta questioned in disbelief.

“W-Wait, that’s not possible!  Right, Kaede!?”  Clover stared pleadingly at the pianist, only to be greeted with silence.  “K-Kaede…?”

As Kaede refused to say a word, Tsumugi wondered “Wait…Did she really-”

“Pft…ahahahaha!  Just kidding!”  Kaede finally giggled, unnerving everyone in the room with the unusually lighthearted smile on her face.

Just kidding?!  Kiki cocked her head, baffled by Kaede’s uncharacteristic denial.  Then why did you ask me to reveal the truth?!

“Just kidding?”  Ryoma questioned skeptically.

“Huh?  Did you guys really think I’m the culprit?  Psh, come on, guys!  Like I could!”  Kaede shook her head, countering “When Rantaro was murdered, I was in the classroom with Shuichi and Kiki, remember?  After that, we went to the library and that’s the first time I even saw his body.  Plus, I never met up with Rantaro.  I never had a chance to kill him.”

“Y-Yes…”  Gonta nervously agreed.  “No way Kaede could be the culprit…”

“Geez, of course not!  Do you think I’m even strong enough to throw that shot?  My hands are only strong enough to play piano!”

“Then accusing you of being the culprit is…”

“Yup, it’s wrong.”  Kaede told Sokyu, her deceptive smile seeming to widen.  “Kiki’s just joking around.  She wanted to lighten up the mood.  Right, Kiki?  No matter how you look at it, I couldn’t have killed Rantaro with that shot.”

“Y-Yeah…”  Shuichi stammered.  “After being accused herself, I wouldn’t blame her for wanting to lighten the mood.”

Kiki sighed, gripping the podium and closing her eyes.  I understand, Kaede…You want us to reveal the truth, don’t you?  And since Shuichi’s not willing to do it, it’s up to me.  Kiki flashed back to the pep talk Kaede had given her and the scared detective just before the class trial.  “No.”  Kiki opened her eyes, narrowing them at the pianist in determination.  “I’m not joking around.  Kaede definitely killed Rantaro.”

“What the hell did you just say!?”  Lotus exclaimed.

“It seems as though Kiki is serious after all.”  Snake mused in surprised curiosity.

“Of course I am.”  Kiki nodded, her eyes not displaying even a hint of levity.

“Why don’t you tell me, then?”  Kaede challenged.  “How did I kill Rantaro with that shot?”

“Yeah, how!?”  Ace demanded.  “You, Kaede, and Shuichi were together the whole time, weren’t you!?”

“How Kaede killed Rantaro with the shot put ball…should become clear when you consider where she used it.”

“Where she used the shot put ball?”  Keebo inquired, confused by Kiki’s logic.

“Huhhhhh?  What?  I’m lost, you guys.”  Clover admitted.

Kaede wants me to reveal the truth.  She trusts me with her wish…So…I can’t back down.  With a determined fire blazing in her eyes, Kiki vowed I need to fulfill her wish!  I need to fight for the truth!

“Why is Kaede doing this?”  Kiri asked, confused.

“Yeah, if she’s the culprit, why is she forcing Kiki to expose her instead of just coming clean?”  Koto wondered.

“She must have her reasons, otherwise, she wouldn’t be dragging this out.”  Maki replied.

“Indeed.”  Kyoko concurred.  “My guess is that they might not trust Kiki’s word alone, so she needs to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“It was the same with me.”  Makoto flashed back to the numerous class trials he had unwillingly participated in.  “Even if I knew who the culprit was, I still needed to prove it.”

Koto and Kiri bit their lips before Mokubo pointed out, “Kaede’s about to speak.”

Without another word, they stared at the TV as Kaede began to “defend” herself.

“I have an alibi.  When Rantaro was killed…I was in the classroom, standing watch with Shuichi.”

“Kaede never saw Rantaro…”  Gonta concluded.  “…then how did she kill him!?”

“It’s important to establish where the culprit used the shot…We know that it was in the library.

Kiki focused on Kaede’s claim about the location of the shot’s use and pointed at the pianist.  “No that’s wrong!  Kaede didn’t use the shot put ball at the scene of the crime…She used it at the 5th floor classroom, where we were keeping watch!”

“Hold up.”  Ryoma questioned “How could she have hit Rantaro with a shot from a different room?”

“…She rolled it.  She rolled the shot from the 5th floor classroom and hit Rantaro.”

“I am skeptical that she could perform such a feat of accuracy…”  Keebo admitted.

“Yeah, that’s not possible.”  Clover agreed.

“It is possible…”  Kiki rebutted.  “If you do it at the right spot in the classroom, it will reach the library.”

“So it seems…you already knew about that…”  Kaede mused, her tone slightly somber.

I didn’t want to figure it out…  Kiki admitted to herself.  I didn’t want to know…Shuichi still doesn’t want to know…  Kiki turned with sympathy in her eyes to the conflicted detective.  But…We can’t turn away from the truth…The place she rolled the shot put ball to move it from the classroom to the library…I know this!  Where was the shot put rolled to make it enter the library?

Kiki closed her eyes, tuning out the others as she focused on the jumbled answer.  As she concentrated, she reordered the scattered pieces into a coherent thought.

V-E-N-T.  That spells VENT!  Now I get it!  Kiki opened her eyes and uttered, “The classroom’s vent.  If you were to roll the shot in there, it would reach the library.”

“I see…”  Sokyu mused.  “That air duct connects the classroom to the library.”

Kiki nodded and hypothesized, “So, the shot is rolled into the vent, passes through the duct…and comes out of the air vent above the library bookcase.”

“But how could she have hit Rantaro from all the way over there!?”  Clover exclaimed.  “The vent was way too far from Rantaro’s body!”

“So it was just a coincidence?”  Lotus proposed.

“What kind of coincidence is that!?”  Seven exclaimed.

“Hmm…what a mystery.”  Tsumugi mused.

No, I already know the answer to that as well…  Kiki reluctantly admitted to herself.  It was no coincidence.  The culprit set it up that way intentionally.  If I’m remembering correctly, there was something off about her then…  Kiki gritted her teeth and bit her knuckles in guilt.  Damn it, how could I not realize it…?

Kiki looked at Kaede, who merely smiled reassuringly at her.  The amnesiac girl found the resolve to release her fist from her mouth and relax.

…It’s too late to regret the past.  I said I wouldn’t back down.  I made a promise!

At that moment, Snake pondered “The shot that fell from the vent…How did it strike Rantaro’s head from that distance?”

“Yeah!  That’s impossible!”  Clover emphatically agreed.

“It’s not like it started rollin’ on its own…”  Ryoma commented, causing Kiki to connect the dots.

“I agree with you!”  Everyone turned towards Kiki, surprise sparkling in Ryoma’s eyes as the heterochromatic girl stated her argument.  “…It’s just like Ryoma said.  The shot rolled along the top of the bookcase and fell on Rantaro’s head.”

“It rolled…along the bookcase!?”  Ace asked with surprise in his voice.

“I did say that…”  Ryoma admitted.  “…But would the shot have rolled that conveniently?”

“It has nothing to do with convenience.”  Kiki explained “The shot rolled exactly how the culprit wanted.  They used books on top of the bookcases to direct the path of the shot.

“The shot’s path was directed by books?”  Tsumugi furrowed her brow in confusion.  “How would that even work?”

“Ah, it would be easier to explain with a floor plan of the library…”  Kiki admitted.  …Oh, that’s right…  Kiki’s eyes widened in realization.  Someone did have a floor plan.  In fact…that might be concrete proof of my theory.  I remember one of them having a detailed floor plan…

Kiki glanced at the participants, shifting between the survivors.  Eventually, her eyes began to linger on Keebo. 

It must be you!  Kiki turned to face Keebo and commented, “Keebo, I recall that during the investigation…You said you would use a drone to make a floor plan.”

“Oh yeah?”  Clover questioned “What happened with that!?”

“Well, I’ve already developed the photos and drafted some sketches!” 

Keebo smiled proudly before Gonta exclaimed, “Then let’s look at it!  Maybe we’ll all find a clue!”

“Please, Keebo.”  Kiki pleaded.

“Very well, I’ve made copies for each of you.”  Keebo passed around a small stack of papers, allowing each of them to take one from the top.

There it is…  Kiki realized as her eyes narrowed on the vent in the picture.  “It’s just as I thought…”

“Hm?  What is?”  Ryoma asked, confused before Kiki pointed to the stacks of books underneath the vent.

“See, the books are stacked like stairs from the vent to where Rantaro’s body was found.”

Gonta’s eyes widened in shock as his eyes followed the path.  “Oh!  Kiki is right!”

“Indeed, they are stacked like stairs.”  Kirumi concurred.  “I did not notice when I looked up from the floor.”

“I see, I see…The shot rolled on top of these books, eh?”  Lotus mused.

“Yes…I’m sure of it.”  Kiki sighed heavily.  “The shot was rolled into the classroom vent and came out in the library.  If the vent was open, the shot would have maintained momentum.”  Kiki looked up from the floor plan into Kaede’s eyes.  “And you did that, right, Kaede?  You made sure the vent was open.”

“Impressive…”  Kaede complimented, smiling with pride as they both flashed back to when Kaede was on the stepladder.  “You have a really good memory, Kiki.”

Believe me, this is one thing I wish I didn’t remember…  Kiki sighed before she continued her explanation.  “When the shot came through, the stacked books made it change direction.  It then rolled down the path made by the books.  The books were stacked in rows so that the shot wouldn’t fall off.  At the same time, the books blocked the shot from view.  Then, when the ball was directly above Rantaro, it changed direction…rolled along the groove of the open books, and fell on his head.”

Kiki held back her tears as she imagined the shot put ball cracking his skull open.  She suppressed the urge to vomit, imagining the blood flowing from his brain as he collapsed.

“And it was the camera flash that lured him to that exact spot.”

“A setup that complicated is almost like a Rube Goldberg machine.”  Tsumugi commented.

“So Kaede created this mechanism?”  Kirumi gasped into her palm.

“Well, it would be-”

“Wait!”  Ace cut Kaede off.  “Even with a Rube Goldberg setup, when did she roll the ball into the duct?”

“That’s right!”  Lotus exclaimed.  “Weren’t Kiki and Shuichi with Kaede in the classroom?”

When did Kaede roll the shot put ball…?  It had to have been at just the right time to kill Rantaro.  Kaede rolled the shot…  Kiki cycled through all the possibilities in her mind until she settled on the only truth.  That’s the one!  “The moment we ran out of the classroom.  When the sensor went off, Shuichi ran out first, then I followed, and finally Kaede hurried to catch up.  But just before she left…”

Kiki recalled how Kaede fumbled with her belongings as she and Shuichi raced out the door. She kicked herself for not having the foresight to bring Kaede out with her.

“I’m right…Aren’t I, Kaede?”

“I’m surprised you would remember all that.”  Kaede admitted, giving an impressed smile.

“Your words and that tone…Is this your admission of guilt?”  Snake wondered.


How old are you!?”  Ace’s exclamation caught everyone off guard as Kiki stared at him with widened eyes.  “Hold on!  Don’t just jump to conclusion!  I’ve…still got a lot of questions!”

“But…what’s left to question?”  Kiki asked calmly.

“There’s just no way I can believe someone like Kaede would be the culprit!”  Ace narrowed his eyes in determination.  “I’m going to clear Kaede’s name!”

Rebuttal Showdown -Truth Blade- Ace vs Kiki!

“I refuse to believe that Kaede is the culprit!”  Ace insisted. 

Why do you believe that she isn’t the culprit?  Kiki wondered.

“I still have my doubts!” 

Doubts about what?

“Doubts about the noise, of course!” 

Noise?  What noise?

The library should have been quiet, right?” 

What does that have to do with anything?

“If that shot was rolling through the vents…it would have made a ton of noise!

“But, Shuichi and I were running down the hallway, and we didn’t hear anything.”  Kiki pointed out.  “If it really did make that much noise, wouldn’t we have heard it too?”

“You were probably so focused on reaching the library that you blocked out the sound.”  Ace countered.

Just because we were focused on getting to the library doesn’t mean that we couldn’t hear anything as loud as your claiming it would be.

“But someone who was just going about their day would have heard it.” 

Who?  Who could’ve heard it?

“There had to be someone else close to the library!

Kiki seized on Ace’s incorrect assertion, exclaiming “Let me cut through your words!”

“No, there was nobody else even on the 5th floor!”  Kiki explained “Only I, Kaede, Shuichi, and Rantaro were in the area.”

“Yeah, Gonta and I were the closest.”  Seven explained.  “We were right by the door when we heard the body discovery announcement, but we didn’t hear anything like a shot put ball while we were getting dressed.”

Kiki nodded.  “Everyone else was in the dorms, so they wouldn’t have been able to hear a shot put ball from that distance anyway.”

“Indeed.”  Snake concurred.  “Even I couldn’t hear something like that from the dining hall.”

“Besides…”  Kiki reminded the middle-aged man “…You were with Seven and Gonta, so if they heard something, you would have heard it too.  But you never mentioned that.”

“But then…”  Desperation flared in Ace’s eyes as he argued, “Why didn’t we hear the sound of the shot rolling through the vent?”

“…Perhaps the inside of the vent was lined with some material that was softer than metal.”  Keebo suggested.

Seven hummed.  “It would have to be something smooth enough to not impede its momentum, but soft enough to cushion any collisions.  If that happened, then nobody would have been able to hear it.”

“Well, it would seem that none of us could have heard a shot put ball.”  Lotus summarized, causing Ace’s eyes to widen.

The middle-aged man gritted his teeth and clenched his fist in frustration.  “D-Damn it…!  So it’s…true then…?  You’re saying…Kaede really is the culprit!?”

“So that means most of Kaede’s sins were committed right before Shuichi and Kiki’s eyes.”  Snake realized.

“That’s correct.”  Kiki admitted.  “We were with her in the classroom…And when she moved the vent frate aside…And when she lined up the books on top of the bookcase.” 

Kaede winced with each reminder of her crime, her smile fading into a remorseful, guilt-ridden frown.  Kiki returned it with a frown of her own, regret filling her heart as the memories of their setup flashed before her eyes.

So many chances…so many chances we could have stopped this…!  “And it was the same when you took the murder weapon, wasn’t it?”  Kiki stared into Kaede’s eyes.  “You took the shot put ball when you got the cameras for Keebo, right, Kaede?”

“So you were hiding it the entire time!?”  Clover exclaimed in shock.

“Where would she have even hidden it?”  Tsumugi wondered.

Where did Kaede keep it…?  It could only be one place.  Kaede must have hidden it in there…it’s the only explanation. 

Kiki cycled through the possible places on Kaede’s person where the shot put ball could have been hidden.  Eventually, her backpack flashed before Kiki’s eyes.

That’s the one!  “…Kaede’s backpack.”  Kiki explained.  “She was carrying the shot put ball in there.  Despite its weight, it would have been easy to carry in a backpack.  You also said you had spare vests, which you could have wrapped it in.  That would prevent the cameras you were carrying from being damaged.”

“That’s why the backpack sagged slightly after they left the warehouse…”

Koto and Kiri turned to their brother, staring in amazement at his observation.

“Mokubo…you…”  Koto breathed.

“…Noticed a little detail like that?!”  Kiri finished in awe.

“…I have a talent for picking out little details like that…”  Mokubo shrugged.

Makoto and Kyoko couldn’t help but smile proudly at their son’s observations, in spite of the dreadful context.  Mokubo…you really are special…

“It looks like this case will be wrapped up soon.”  Maki observed.  “Let’s…get this ending over with…”

The others nodded as they reluctantly turned back to the TV, waiting for the moment when Kiki would undoubtedly deliver the final blow.

“Then that means, all of this happened right in front of Shuichi and Kiki…”  Sokyu realized.

“But we should not blame either of them for that.”  Kirumi defended.  “None of those actions warranted suspicion at the time, so they might not have noticed.”

I should though, I should have noticed!  Kiki thought as she and Shuichi gritted their teeth in guilt.

“That clears it all up, then.”  Ryoma sighed.  “Every part of the crime Kaede plotted.”

“That can’t be…It’s gotta be mistake, right?”  Gonta shook his head, unable to believe in Kaede’s guilt.

“But if all of that is true, then that’s pretty unfortunate…”  Teruaki spat, scowling.  “She kept preaching about working together…and then she goes and kills in cold blood!”

“No, something still doesn’t fit.”

Everyone turned in shock at Shuichi, the detective finally breaking his silence.

“Hm?  What doesn’t fit?”  Teruaki asked.

“Kaede…wouldn’t do something like that.”

“Huh?”  Kaede and Kiki gasped.

“You mean she’s not the type?”  Tsumugi questioned.  “But Kiki already said that she did it, right?”

“Yes, I know, and I’m not calling Kiki a liar.”  Shuichi clarified.  “But murder in cold blood is just not in her character…”  Shuichi narrowed his eyes as he exclaimed in defiance, “I truly believe that!  I believe in her!”

“But…why?”  Kaede breathed, her composure shaken by Shuichi’s faith.  “Why do you still believe in me, Shuichi?  Why?  Tell my why!”  Kaede burst into tears as she wailed, “Why are you doing this!?  Are you still looking away from the truth!?”

“Not at all.”  Shuichi shook his head.  “My belief in you…is gonna lead me to the truth!  I’ll show you what’s behind all this!”

“Stop this denial, Shuichi.”

“Huh?”  Shuichi gasped, turning to Kiki, who glared disappointingly at him.

“You know what the truth is.  Don’t go and call willfully blinding yourself finding the truth.”

“Kiki…”  Shuichi gritted his teeth in anger as he exclaimed “Fine!  I’ll prove to you that you’re mistaken!  As a detective, I’m much more qualified than you to look for the truth!  I’ll show you your truth!”

Kiki couldn’t help but feel a little stung by Shuichi’s insult but did her best to swallow the pain.  I know Shuichi’s just lashing out…he doesn’t want Kaede to be the blackened.  I don’t either, but we can’t run away from the truth.  I made a vow to Kaede, and as part of my word…  Kiki narrowed her eyes and promised, I’ll open your eyes to the truth, Shuichi Saihara!

“I know how he feels.”  Makoto frowned as he stared at Shuichi, trapped in his own denial.  “I was the same way when I found out Sayaka was the one who tried to kill Leon and not the other way around.”

“But you moved past your denial when presented with the evidence and faced the truth.”  Kyoko reminded him. 

Makoto shook his head.  “But I had you to help me see reason.  Hopefully Kiki will do the same for him.”

“Shuichi…”  Koto and Kiri muttered, feeling sorry for the detective who only wanted to protect his crush.

“…It won’t be easy.”  Maki commented before Mokubo nodded.

“Shuichi won’t listen to reason right now, so Onee-chan has to make him see reason.”

Everyone stared at the screen, steeling themselves for the tense and heated exchange between the two junior detectives.

Argument Armament: Shuichi Saihara!

“Why won’t you believe in Kaede?!”  Shuichi demanded. 

“I do believe in Kaede!”  Kiki returned.  “That’s why I have to expose her as the culprit!”

“She’s definitely not the culprit!”

“You know as well as I do that she is the culprit!”

“She wouldn’t do it!”

“She would and the evidenced shows she did!”

Shuichi grit his teeth as he continued to deny the truth.  “She’s not the one who killed Rantaro!”

“We both know she’s the only one who could’ve killed Rantaro!”  Kiki returned.

“That’s not the truth of this case!”

“It is the truth of this case!”

“Kaede’s innocent and that’s all there is to it!”

“You know this isn’t a simple murder case!  There’s more to it than that!”

Shuichi clenched his fists as he redoubled his efforts, determined to prove Kaede’s innocence.  “Please stop…just stop…”

“Not until you open your eyes to the truth.”

“Remember what Kaede told us?”

“She told us not to turn away from the truth.  We have to fight for the truth.”

“Kiki, I can’t do this…”

“You can…you can do this, Shuichi!”

“If you say you believe in Kaede, then…”

“I do believe in Kaede!”

“Then accept the truth that she’s not the culprit!”

“The truth is that she is the culprit!  You and I both know that, Shuichi!”

Tears welled in Shuichi’s eyes as he desperately clung to the fantasy that their friend Kaede was being unfairly treated by everyone but him.  Narrowing his eyes and drawing up every ounce of determination he had, he put all his energy into his final rebuttal.

“Then what was Kaede trying to do?”


Shuichi’s defiance shattered, the detective left with no other ways to deny the evidence.  Completely broken, his shoulders slumped as he bowed his head.  Tears streamed down his cheeks, his eyes no longer able to keep them at bay.


Shuichi sniffled, his eyes and tears hidden beneath his cap.  The maelstrom of emotions circled within him, the chaotic gales getting stronger and stronger until they at last burst free.

“…WAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!”  He wailed, grieving the loss of his beloved pianist’s innocence.

“Shuichi…”  Kiki’s eyes softened as she tried to console the sobbing detective.  “She wasn’t persuaded by Monokuma…And she wasn’t trying to save herself…What she was trying to do…was kill the mastermind!”

“Kill…the mastermind?”  Keebo interrupted, his brow furrowed in confusion.

You have really lousy timing, Keebo…  Kiki sighed and turned to the humanoid robot.  “Kaede wasn’t targeting Rantaro.  She was targeting the mastermind.  She was trying to end this killing game…She was trying to save us all.”  She looked up at the pianist and asked “…Isn’t that right, Kaede?”

Kaede bit her lip, her anxious silence all but confirming her guilt.

“So…she tried to end the killing game by killing the mastermind?”  Ace questioned.

“…But it’s all my fault.”  Shuichi wept as his shoulders shook.  “Kaede trusted my detective skills.”  Kaede’s eyes lowered as she bit her lip in remorse.  “I told her the mastermind might be there.  And that’s why she set that trap.  It’s all my fault.  She trusted my detective work, and I screwed it up!”

“Stop…”  Kaede wiped the tears from her eyes as she forced a smile on her face.  “That’s not true…Please, don’t say it’s your fault…It’ll be harder for me…”  Tears streamed down her cheeks as she nearly screamed at him.  “None of this is your fault!  It’s mine!  Everything’s my fault!”

“Kaede…”  Shuichi and Kiki breathed, tears streaming from their eyes.

“Kiki, can I ask you to do one last favor for me?”  Kiki looked at her with sorrowful curiosity as Kaede made her final request.  “Can you…end all of this?”

“…What?”  Shuichi gasped.

“I want you to reveal everything that happened and convince everyone…And then…I want you to end this.”  She glanced at the still weeping Shuichi.  “I…I don’t want to drag out Shuichi’s grief more than I already have.  So, I want you to end this.  That’s…my final wish.”

“…I understand.”  Kiki vowed as she wiped the tears from her eyes “I’ll end all of this.”  She narrowed her eyes in determination as she promised “I’ll reveal everything!  The truth and the lies!

Kiki took a deep breath, steeling herself in preparation for the painful truth she was about to tell.  When she was ready, she narrowed her eyes and pointed her finger at Kaede.

“HERE’S THE TRUTH OF THIS CASE!  It all began when Monokuma gave us the First Blood Perk motive.  The incentive added to this killing game triggered the crime.  After the announcement, Shuichi developed a plan to find the mastermind, and I and someone else offered to help him…At the time, neither me nor Shuichi would have imagined they would become the culprit.”

“To expose the mastermind, we all set up hidden cameras in the library.  There was a hidden door in the library that showed signs of use.  We deduced that the mastermind would return there, to let Monokuma out.  The next day, we ask Keebo if he could modify some cameras for our trap.  We then went to the warehouse to gather the necessary materials.  All we needed were disposable cameras and a security sensor.”

“But the culprit found something else there-the murder weapon.  That’s right.  The shot put ball.  They put the cameras as well as the shot in their backpack.  The next day, Shuichi collected the modified cameras from Keebo before we visited the library.  Once there, we searched the room for ideal locations to place the cameras.  But even then, the culprit was preparing the murder.”

“They began by removing the vent grate, and laid it inside the air duct.  Then, they moved the pile of books on top of the bookcase, pretending to organize them.  After that, they placed open encyclopedias on the final bookcase.  It appeared innocuous enough, but it was actually a path for the murder weapon!  The culprit also tampered with the hidden camera linked to the security sensor.  Shuichi and I were responsible for setting up the other cameras, but that one…We didn’t even notice their trick.”

“They used duct tape to keep the flash function on.  After the cameras were set, we separated until dinner.  After our final supper, we regrouped in the 5th floor classroom.  We kept a lookout for the others and waited for the security sensor to go off.” 

“At some point during the stakeout, the security receiver Shuichi was holding went off.  We assumed it was the mastermind, so we ran out of the classroom to the library.  We were in such a hurry, we left the culprit behind.  Looking back on it now…that was the last chance we had to stop the murder.” 

“After we had left, the culprit took the shot put ball out of their backpack…and rolled it into the classroom vent.  This set the murder in motion!  Rantaro had moved the bookcase, triggering the receiver.  Unbeknownst to him, the trap had been sprung. 

“First, the modified camera took a picture of Rantaro with the flash on.  Rantaro noticed the flash and approached the bookcase to inspect the camera.  The camera flash lured Rantaro directly into the murder weapon’s path!  The shot the culprit tossed into the vent rolled through the air duct…came out of the library’s vent, and kept rolling atop the bookcase.  Opening the vent grate and organizing the books was all to create a path.”

“The shot kept rolling, then fell on Rantaro’s head, killing him instantly.  By the time we had entered the room, the murder was complete.  I imagine…seeing Rantaro’s body, the culprit probably thought…The mastermind is dead, the game is over, now we can all go home…But their wish didn’t come true…Because Rantaro wasn’t the mastermind!  It was murder…in an attempt to save all our lives.  That is the truth.”

Kaede averted her gaze, smiling sadly with guilt twinkling in her eyes.  Kiki meanwhile held her fist over her heart, staring into Kaede’s soul with sorrow and disappointment in her own heterochromatic eyes.

“That’s the truth behind your lies…Kaede Akamatsu!

Chapter Text

“And that concludes…the events of this case.”  Kiki reluctantly concluded.

“N-no…Kaede…did it?”  Gonta closed his eyes, unable bear the truth.

“Damn it!”  Ace cursed.

Kirumi sighed, her voice heavy with regret.  “It is a truth I do not wish to accept, but since Kiki has brought everything to light…We can at least try to trust the Kaede we’ve come to know up to this point.”

“The Kaede we’ve come to know…?”  Lotus asked, causing Kirumi to nod.

“Even if she did commit a crime, what Kaede has said to us is not a lie.  She wanted to protect us, and I firmly believe that to be the truth.”

“If that was a lie too, it’d be the last straw for me.”  Ryoma averted his gaze, tugging his hat over his eyes.  “I’d have nothing left to believe in.”

“You guys are so nice…”  Kaede muttered, tears trickling down her cheeks.  “Even though I betrayed you all…”

“No!”  Shuichi screamed.  “That’s not true, Kaede!  You were trying to save all of-”

“Shuichi, enough.”  With Shuichi struck silent, Kaede turned to smile at the heterochromatic girl.  “Nice job, Kiki!  You really surprised me back there!”

“What?”  Kiki gasped.

“You were super reliable back there! And…Shuichi?”  Shuichi turned his head to look at Kaede as she advised him “You still have a long way to go.  You need to be more assertive in your search for the truth.”  She smiled encouragingly at the distraught detective.  “If you did that more often, you’d be a pretty cool guy.”

Shuichi’s lip quivered in sorrow as he realized just how far apart he and Kiki were.  He closed his eyes in guilt, remorse for his fear of the truth flooding his heart.

“Kaede…why?  Why are you smiling like that…?  Why are you still trying to get me to be brave?”  Shuichi burst into tears once more as he nearly screamed “Why, Kaede!?  Why are you thinking about everyone except yourself!?  If you had just been less selfless, you wouldn’t have had to murder…Why…?  Why do you do that?”

“Shuichi…”  Kiki muttered in empathy.

Kaede frowned, guilt pooling in her belly.  “I’m…sorry…”

“Stop, stop, stop!”  Monokuma complained, interrupting the moment.  “At least save it for the end of the trial!  Sheesh!  Anyway, it looks like the debate’s finished, so that means it’s Voting Time!  Press the button in front of you to cast your vote!  Remember, refusing to vote is grounds for termination.  At last!  The heart-racing excitement as the blackened and the spotless finally face off…It’s…VOTING TIME!!!”

The survivors looked down at their podiums and saw the screens light up, revealing a grid of the sixteen participants.  Kiki noted the pink X covering Rantaro’s face, indicating his deceased status.  With a heavy sigh, she tapped Kaede’s face and tapped the red Voting button, locking in her vote.

…It had to be done…  She lamented as she looked up at the remaining participants.

Each of them showed varying degrees of hesitation before they at last followed suit.  Clover and Tsumugi sniffled as Gonta wept.  Kirumi, Lotus and Seven grimaced.  Snake, Ryoma, and Ace frowned while letting out heavy sighs.  Teruaki and Sokyu were more subtly, their eyes briefly lowering before casting their votes.  The only holdout was Shuichi, whose finger hovered over the screen in a tug of war of hesitation.

“Shuichi…”  Gasping, Shuichi looked at Kaede’s smiling face.  “You know what the truth is.  So please…vote for the truth!  Don’t throw your life away in some pointless act of defiance.”

With a final whimper, Shuichi tearfully nodded and cast his vote.  As his eyes drifted away from the podium screen, he tried to avert his eyes from Kaede’s, only to meet Kiki’s softened, sympathetic stare.  Before they could say anything, a giant screen lowered from the ceiling into view.  As it lit up, digitized avatars of the sixteen participants appeared, along with fifteen red bars underneath Kaede’s name.

That must be the vote tally…  Kiki realized as a half-body image of Kaede appeared next to the tally window, her name appearing in a pale red font.

“Who’ll be chosen as the blackened!?  Will you make the right choice or the dreadfully wrong one!?”  Monokuma wondered gleefully.

“Mom…Dad…”  Koto asked quietly.

“…Why doesn’t this feel good?”  Kiri wondered sadly.  “I mean…they found the killer, so why doesn’t it feel like a win?”

“Because it never feels good to convict one of your friends.”  Makoto answered as the word VERDICT appeared on the TV in bright neon pink letters.

“Indeed, class trials are never a celebratory affair.”  Kyoko concurred.  Even when I first had my memories wiped and I was barely on speaking terms with Sayaka, Mukuro, or Leon…it still felt heavy to convict him for killing Sayaka…

Everyone sighed and watched as a giant slot machine appeared on the TV.  A digital image of Monokuma’s face appeared on a circular screen in the center, surrounded by an electronic roulette of the sixteen participants’ digitized faces.  Eventually, it stopped on Kaede’s face, causing the image of Monokuma’s face to Kaede’s as the word Akamatsu appeared on a rectangular monitor above the roulette.

“…That’s sick.”  Mokubo summed up as the center image changed to Monokuma’s laughing face and coins came pouring out of the slot machine.  “Even if that money’s real, no amount of cash is worth this…”

“Agreed, Mokubo…”  Kyoko concurred, proud of her son’s morals.

“So, what happens now?”  Koto asked.

Trust me, you don’t want to know…  Makoto and Kyoko thought grimly.

“Let’s just…watch…”  Maki suggested quietly, causing everyone to turn their attention back to the TV as the perspective shifted back to the trial room.

“Well at this point it goes without saying, but you all voted correctly!”  Monokuma laughed gleefully.  “The blackened who killed Rantaro Amami is Kaede Akamatsu!”

Kaede gave a relieved smile and sighed, “Good…”

“Wh-What…?  Good?”  Teruaki asked in disbelief.  “What do you mean, good!?  Is this how you want it to end!?”

Kaede merely shrugged.  “Not really, but…it could’ve turned out a lot worse.  So this is fine, too.”

“I-It’s not fine!”  Kiki nearly shrieked, frustrated by Kaede’s contentment with her impending death.  “This is super horrible!  The worst ever!”

“Yeah…How did it come to this?”  Tsumugi wept.

“Kaede, what would possess you to do something like this?”  Keebo questioned.

“Gonta no can accept this…Not unless you explain…”  Gonta cried.

“Yeah…”  Ace agreed.  “I won’t be satisfied…Until I hear it straight from you…”

“Kaede, please…”  Shuichi begged, causing the pianist to break her silence.

“Okay…Please allow me a few more moments of your time, then.  It’s just like Kiki said - I was after the mastermind this entire time.  I wanted to kill the mastermind, and I thought doing that would end the killing game…”

“But why did you try to kill them?”  Kiki pointed out “Wasn’t the plan to catch them in the act and capture them?!”  If we had just done that, then this whole trial wouldn’t have been necessary!

“Yes, that was the plan…but then Ryoma brought up a good point.”

“Me?”  Ryoma asked curiously.

“Yeah, you said there was a possibility that the mastermind could introduce a time limit if the First Blood Perk motive didn’t work.  That would have created something even worse and increased the chances of a killing.  Even if we caught the mastermind, they could just play dumb to run out the clock and kill us all.  I…was worried about that happening.”

“I see…so my proposal to save everyone only spurred you on to kill.”  Ryoma sighed regretfully, hanging his head.  “It seems I’m the one who still has a ways to go.”

“So you sought to kill the mastermind, instead?”  Snake inquired, changing the subject.

Kaede nodded in confirmation.  “I had made up my mind just before we set up the cameras in the library.  I thought it was the only chance to save everyone…I couldn’t let that chance pass me by.  I had to save everyone, no matter what.”

“Even if you had to kill someone?”  Sokyu asked.

“…That’s right…I thought that killing the mastermind was our best shot at escaping this place together.  I…really believed it, too…”

“Kaede…”  Kiki and Shuichi muttered sadly.

“Oh, Kaede…it never dawned on you?”  Everyone turned to Sokyu who continued with a scolding glare “As soon as that thought entered your head, Monokuma had you right where he wanted.  Because what mattered most to Monokuma is that the killing game started.  Regardless of your reasons, the moment you felt the urge to kill, you had already lost.  You agreed to be part of this killing game when you allowed murder to fill your heart.”

“W-Wait.”  Tsumugi objected.  “To put it like that…”

“But he’s not wrong.”  Teruaki muttered.  “She’s the reason the killing game finally started.”

“Kaede tried to save everyone…We no can blame her.”  Gonta fiercely objected.

“Gonta, it’s okay.”  Kaede assured him before she frowned and sniffled.  “Sokyu and Teruaki are right.  I was being played.  And I didn’t even kill the mastermind.  I killed one of our dear friends, instead…What I did was so terrible…So…unforgivable…”  She burst into tears as she wailed “I took an innocent life!  I’m nothing but a horrible murderer!  You should all hate, blame, and be disgusted by me!”

“Kaede, please calm down!”  Shuichi pleaded.

“Kaede, you made a mistake!  An awful mistake, but it’s still just a mistake!”  Kiki reassured her.  “What you did doesn’t erase all the good you did, the friendship we shared, how you were always there for me, for everyone!”

Kaede sniffled, smiling appreciatively at Kiki before she frowned and continued her story.  “After we found Rantaro’s body, when I realized he wasn’t the mastermind…I thought about ending this by confessing to you what I had done…But…I couldn’t.  Because of Monokuma’s First Blood Perk.”

“I see…”  Ryoma realized.  “If you’d confessed there and then, you would’ve been able to leave…But you decided you couldn’t leave this place by yourself, so you kept quiet.”

“Because of the First Blook Perk, you were forced to hide the truth from us.”  Kirumi deduced.

“Yeah, that’s right…”  Kaede admitted.

“So the First Blood Perk worked against the blackened rather than for them.”  Snake mused.

“But…at the same time, I thought…If I did this for everyone, then instead of making things easier by confessing…I thought I should lie to you all, so it would motivate you to keep moving forward.”

“Is that the reason for the trial?”  Shuichi asked.  “To reveal the mastermind?”

Kaede nodded.  “I felt like if I didn’t do this, then Rantaro’s death would have been meaningless.”

“We were searching for both the culprit and the mastermind during this class trial.”  Keebo realized.

“Ah, Kaede did mention that.”  Clover recalled before Kaede nodded in confirmation.

“I never wanted to keep my crime a secret…I was going to tell you all eventually…But before I did, I wanted to expose the mastermind first…Then the killing game would’ve ended, and everyone but me would be saved.  I thought that was the best way I could atone for killing Rantaro…”

“…This is my fault.”  Shuichi lamented.  “I was wrong.  There was no mastermind…”

“You were wrong…?”  Tsumugi’s brow furrowed in confusion.  “But didn’t you say the mastermind was one of us?”

“That’s what I thought at first…But in the end, we have nothing.  No one made any moves, the trial was useless…”

“Even when Shuichi was about to be voted as the blackened…Still, they did not appear.”  Snake stated.

“I wanted to protect Kaede, but I also wanted to unmask the mastermind.”  Shuichi admitted.  “But even when the killer was about to be condemned, they remained hidden.  That has to mean that the mastermind is not among us after all.”

“So Kaede had the wrong idea the whole time…”  Seven muttered as Snake nodded.

“All her actions were taken under Shuichi’s flawed logic.”

“That’s why this is my fault.”  Shuichi grit his teeth in guilt and despair.  “All of this happened because my detective work was wrong.  If I hadn’t been so stupid…If I never said anything about a mastermind to Kaede…”  Tears trickled down Shuichi’s cheeks once more.  “…Rantaro wouldn’t have died…and Kaede wouldn’t be a murderer!  This is all my fault!”

“No, it’s not.”  Kaede and Kiki exclaimed in fervent rebuttal.


“I killed him.  Not you.”  Kaede insisted.  “…Right?  Didn’t I?”

“She’s right, Shuichi.”  Kiki agreed.  “I don’t hate Kaede for what she did, but I can’t deny that she is responsible for her actions.”

Kaede smiled gratefully at Kiki before Keebo interrupted the moment.  “But, Kaede, why did you set such a convoluted trap?  If your intent was to kill the mastermind, there was no reason for you to cover your tracks.”

“Isn’t it obvious?”  Ace pointed out “It’s because…she didn’t want Shuichi or Kiki to know.”

“Us…?”  Kiki and Shuichi asked.

“Of course, but…I didn’t want everyone else to know, either.”  Kaede admitted.  “Because…I said I wanted to escape this place with everyone.  But you guys wouldn’t want to be friends with a girl who killed someone, would you?”

“Be…friends?”  Gonta muttered sadly.

“Kaede…put a lot of thought into this.”  Kiki sadly lamented.

“She put so much thought into this, it drove her to commit murder like a lunatic…”  Teruaki growled.

“Kami, you’re such a dumbass…”  Lotus muttered.

“I know, right?”  Kaede spoke before a fight could break out over the insults.  “I’m such an idiot…”

“Kaede…I didn’t know how, but I wanted to get out of here with you.”  Shuichi cried.  “I wanted…to be friends.”

“Me too!”  Kiki tearfully agreed.  “I wanted to get out and be friends with you both!”

“I’m so sorry…both of you…”  Kaede wept, grieving the friendship that was doomed to death.

“So you’re saying…everything you did was because you were thinking of us?”  Seven questioned.  “And you hid that you killed him just to stay and help us…?  How did things-”

“Alright, alright!  That’s it!”  Everyone turned to glare at Monokuma as he interrupted the tearful moment.

“What?”  Shuichi and Kiki gasped.

“Wh-What do you mean…?”  Seven stammered.  “What do you mean…that’s it?”

“We can’t let this boring display grind the action to a halt, so…time to make things interesting.”  Monokuma grinned, causing everyone to shudder.

“Make things…interesting?”  Shuichi and Kiki breathed, only for Monokuma to ignore them.

“And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for!  Punishment Time!”

“P-Punishment…?  You mean…Kaede’s execution!?”  Kiki nearly screamed in horror.

“N-No friggin’ way!”  Seven scowled at Monokuma.  “There’s no way we’ll let you do that!”

Monokuma leapt down from his throne, brandishing his claws as Tsumugi shrieked.

“Punishment Time is a sacred segment.  You’re not allowed to interfere.  Try, and I’ll skewer you with a magic spell!”

“Like hell am I just gonna sit here and do what you say!”  Seven boldly walked towards Monokuma, flanked by Gonta and Keebo. “Kaede fought with her life on the line!  And so will I!”

“Gonta will face you!”  Gonta narrowed his eyes as growled “Times like this are why Gonta became strong!  Gentlemen never back down, and neither will Gonta!”

“I-I may not like to refer to myself as only a robot…”  Keebo stammered.  “But even if I am dismantled, I can be put back together.  I will gladly sacrifice my body to protect an irreplaceable human soul like Kaede!”

“I’ll help too!”  Kiki cried as she ran behind them, Shuichi nervously following the girl.  “I’m not gonna let that psycho bear murder my best friend!”

“Y-Yeah!”  Shuichi nervously nodded.  “I’ll help!  I can-”

“Everyone, stop!!!”

Everyone sighed in relief as Kaede’s shriek startled the five out of their suicidal plan.

“…She gets it from you.”  Kyoko glared at Makoto.

“So I tried to charge Monokuma one time…”

“You’re headstrong, and she’s obviously inherited that quality from you.”

“You’re the one who wanted to investigate Hope’s Peak alone.”  Makoto jabbed.

“I knew what I was doing.  I took calculated risks, and they paid off…most of the time.  You on the other hand were willing to throw away everything to wallop a weapon of mass destruction who could have killed you.”

Makoto sighed, unable to refute his wife’s argument.

“At least Kaede’s managing to keep a level head on her shoulders.”  Maki muttered.

“Indeed, and she’s the first culprit since Mondo to actually express remorse for what she did.”  Kyoko commented.

“So…”  Koto began hesitantly.

“…Does that mean Kiki’s gonna be okay?”

“…Yes, she’ll be fine, Kiri.”  Makoto nodded.  Physically, yes, but emotionally?  This is going to scar her for life…

“…I hope you’re right; Kaede’s about to speak again.”  Mokubo told them.

The rest of the Naegis and Maki turned their head back to the screen, watching as Kaede began to dissuade the five friends from their rash course of action.

“Please…just stop.”

“But, Kaede…”  Shuichi and Kiki pleaded.

“Enough, you guys…”  Kaede smiled gratefully at her friends.  “I’ve…already prepared myself.”

“You’re…giving up?”

“But why…?”  Shuichi asked.  “You said…you’d never give up…That we’d get out of here together.  That’s what you said, Kaede…So why are you giving up now!?  Did you mean what you said!?”

“I know we can do something!”  Kiki exclaimed tearfully.  “Don’t give up until the end!”

“…I’m not giving up.  Because I have the two of you.”  Kaede explained.

“…What?”  They gasped in shock.

“Even after I’m gone…my wish will still be here.  So I’m counting on you all!  I’m entrusting my wish to every one of you!”  She narrowed her eyes as she stared pleadingly at the others.  “I believe in you!  I believe that you all will make it through this, somehow! You guys better live!  Don’t go dying on me now!  End this ridiculous killing game, survive, and get the hell out of this place!”  Her lips tugged into a hopeful smile.  “And then…be friends after you escape, okay?  I think you’ll all be the best of friends.”

“Affirmative, Kaede…”  Keebo agreed reluctantly.

“I will do my utmost to fulfill your final request.”  Kirumi vowed with sorrow.

“I won’t give up!”  Kiki promised.  “I’ll get out of here, no matter what!”

“Gonta work hard and keep friends safe till very end!”  Gonta cried.

“Thank you all…and Kiki…”  Kaede tearfully smiled as she took Kiki’s hands in her own.  “From now on, you’re the heart and soul of this group.”

“M-Me?!”  Kiki shook her head in denial.  “N-No!  I’m no leader!  I was totally scared!  If it wasn’t for you, I’d still be sobbing in my room!  I’m not like you, Kaede-”

“No, you’re not like me, Kiki.”  Kaede squeezed her hands.  “You’re better than me.  You never allowed murder to cross your mind, not even after Ryoma prodded you.  You represent all that’s good among you, you’re the symbol of hope that everyone needs.  That’s why you’re the heart and soul of everyone here.  So lead them, help them get out of here, and help Shuichi overcome his fear of the truth!”

Kiki tearfully nodded as Kaede released her hands.

“Now then…let’s get started.”  Monokuma smiled maliciously at the pianist as he leapt back onto his throne.  “I have a special punishment prepared for Kaede Akamatsu!”

“W-Wait a second!”  Shuichi cried, desperate to cling to Kaede’s life.  “Kaede, please, don’t…”

“Shuichi, Kiki, you better not lose.”  Kaede interjected, narrowing her eyes as she screamed.  “You can’t lose to this killing game!  I know you can beat it!”

“Let’s give it everything we’ve got!  It’s…PUNISHMENT TIIIME!”  Monokuma laughed gleefully as he spun his gavel in his paw.

“I believe in you guys!  So please, believe in yourself!”  Kaede smiled as she clasped her hands together in prayer.  “…Okay?  It’s a promise.”

Any further pleas were cut short as a big red button arose in front of Monokuma.  The malicious bear slammed his gavel on top of it, beginning Kaede’s execution.

“Maki, take the kids into the kitchen and get them some snacks.”  Kyoko ordered as the screen changed to a digitized Monokuma dragging a digitized Kaede away.  “We’ll call you once it’s safe to come back inside.”

“Don’t argue, you three.”  Makoto agreed sternly.  “Trust me, you don’t need to see this.”  Nobody needs to see this…

Maki stood up and ordered “Come on, you three.  Tell me what you want and I’ll get you a snack.”

The three children obediently got up from their seats and followed as Maki led them away.  Makoto and Kyoko stared sadly as the screen read GAME OVER Kaede has been found guilty.  Time for the punishment!  It then changed to a view of a familiar metal cuff clamping around Kaede’s neck as a retracting chain pulled her away.  The pianist reached futilely for Shuichi and Kiki’s desperate hands before she was pulled on top of a giant piano.

“Of course…”  Kyoko sighed.  “She was a talented pianist, so her punishment would of course involve pianos…”

Monokuma appeared, dressed in a conductor’s tuxedo as countless Monokumas appeared in the audience.

“Der Flohwalzer…”  Makoto and Kyoko read the title screen.  “Kaede Akamatsu’s Execution: Executed.”

At that moment, several other Monokumas at the base of the piano pulled on some ropes dangling nearby.  Kaede appeared to be choking, gasping for air as her body was forcefully hoisted above the piano keys.  Monokuma began to play, causing the other Monokumas to take turns pulling their ropes.

“How cruel…”  Makoto commented as the choking Kaede was forced to play the piano keys with her body.

Her feet dangled in the air, lightly tapping against the giant keys in a dance of death.  Her fingers gripped the cuff around her neck as she reflexively tugged at the metal restraint, trying to relieve the pressure around her throat.

As Monokuma waved his baton faster and faster, the tugs on the ropes came at an increased tempo, wringing the breath out of Kaede’s lungs.  Her body seemed to thrash around on the keys like a ragdoll as she futilely tugged at the cuff around her neck, desperate to cling to life. 

With each beat of the tempo, her complexion turned an even darker shade of purple.  Her fingers began to turn red from the exertion of trying to pry the cuff from her throat.  The pain and agony of her suffocation was imprinted on her face, her eyes widened with the horrific realization that she was now on death’s door.

At last, as Monokuma finished conducting, Kaede’s hands fell limp.  Her head bowed, hiding her now lifeless eyes as she hung suspended from the piano-themed gallows.  At that moment, the spiked lid closed on her body, puncturing and desecrating her corpse as it stained the instrument of death red with her blood.  Everyone stared in horror at the traumatic sight they had just witnessed, a deathly silence permeating the room shown on the TV.

With a heavy, reluctant sigh, Kyoko called “Maki…it’s okay, they can come back now.”

The stomping of feet soon followed as the three Naegi children took their seats.  Snacks in hand, they took their seats before their eyes widened at the bloody piano.

“What the…?”  Koto breathed.

“Is that…Kaede in there?!”  Kiri shrieked before her parents nodded in sorrow.

“…Disgusting…”  Mokubo growled.

And this is only the beginning…  Makoto and Kyoko thought sadly as they all watched the emotional aftermath of Kaede’s execution.

Chapter Text

Shuichi felt his knees buckle, causing him to collapse on the floor.  For her part, Kiki shook with emotion, barely able to keep herself standing as part of her desperately tried to deny reality.

This…this isn’t real…this can’t be real…please…please tell me this is all fiction!  I guess it doesn’t really matter…Real or not…Kaede’s gone.  Kaede Akamatsu…no longer exists in our world.

“What…!”  Keebo’s shocked, horrified shriek shattered her thoughts.  “What in the world…is this…!?”

“A-Are you…kiddin’ me!?”  Clover exclaimed.

“Talk about overkill…!”  Lotus muttered.

“Indeed.”  Snake mused sadly.  “I suppose this is one of the blessings of blindness…”

“Puhuhu!”  Monokuma giggled.  “All this adrenaline creates such an exquisite feeling of despair!  It’s moments like this that make all the killings worth it!”

“W-Why…are you doing such a terrible thing…?”  A terrified Tsumugi stammered.

“You’re the worst of the worst!”  Kiki growled.  “Does human life have no value to you at all!?”

“Hey, I know human life is precious.”  Monokuma replied.  “I’m not a monster, y’know.”  The murderous bear grinned maliciously at the survivors.  “Cuz if human life wasn’t precious, ending it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun!  There’s no greater joy than witnessing such a display of despair entertainment!

“You’ve surpassed psychotic by a wide margin.”  Ace scowled, causing Ryoma to nod in agreement.

“…I don’t think I’ve ever felt quite this…irritated.”

“I…I won’t forgive you for this!”  Seven gritted his teeth and clenched his fist.  “Got that!?  I won’t ever forgive you!”

“Spoken like a marked man!”  Monokuma retorted.

“What is your objective, Monokuma?”  Kirumi angrily demanded, causing Sokyu to nod.

“…Do you hate us?  If so, have we done something to make you hate us?”

“…Hate you?”  Monokuma cocked his head in confusion before he giggled and shrugged.  “Puhuhu…Who can say?  That’s your job to figure out.  If you really wanna know what’s going on, you’re gonna have to work for it…Though the corpse formerly known as Rantaro may have had a hunch.”

“…Huh?”  Gonta’s eyes widened in shock.

“What do you mean?”  Keebo demanded.  “What was Rantaro’s hunch?”

“Puhuhu…What, indeed?”  Monokuma mockingly wondered as Kirumi’s brow furrowed in concentration.

“He did say he would end this game, and he also knew about the hidden door…Could that be at all related to this hunch you claim he had?”

“Puhuhu…I wonder…”

“Hey!”  An impatient Lotus roared.  “What the hell’s this hunch you’re goin’ on about!?  Spill it!”

“Puhuhu…I wonder…”

“If you have no intention of telling us…then keep your mouth shut.”  Sokyu ordered.

“You’re focusing on Kaede instead of her deadweight victim.  Well, it’s not his fault he was useless.  He died before his past could be revealed.  If he had lived long enough to reveal it, maybe he would’ve been more useful…Oh well!  He’s dead and that’s that!  That’s the indifference of death for ya!”

“He…wasn’t really the mastermind, was he?”  Ryoma concluded.

Monokuma cocked his head, his voice bleeding with exasperated confusion.  “Huh?  Are you still pestering me with these annoying questions!?  Aren’t you guys focusing a little too much on whether or not there’s a mastermind?  If you keep this up, you’re all gonna end up like Kaede.”

“Wh-What!?”  Don’t talk about her like that!  Kiki barely held her tongue as she gritted her teeth in fury.

“Maybe spend less time worrying about nonsense and more time watching your back, okay?  You never know who’s gonna become the next killer.  Ah, I can’t wait!  I wonder what kind of killing game we’ll get to see next!”

“Shut the hell up!”  Seven roared.  “We’re…not gonna have another killing game!”

“Agreed.”  Ace nodded.  “We’re not going to let you have your way anymore!”

“Oh, really…?  That seems unlikely.”  Monokuma predicted.  “I’m pretty sure you won’t live long enough to promise that.  Anyway, you guys have a lot to think about…Work hard and do your best to graduate!  Cuz the fun’s only just begun!”

Good riddance…  Kiki thought as Monokuma left the trial room.

Everyone watched as the elevator took the psychotic bear up.  Eventually, the now empty platform returned to their level.

“I…I don’t think I can take all this…”  Tsumugi breathed, trembling from despair.  “I can’t stand this anymore…I-I feel like…I’m going to go crazy…”

“Tsumugi, you mustn’t give up hope.”  Kirumi encouraged.

“Is there even hope to be had here?”  Snake pondered.  “The room feels utterly drained of it.”

“K-Kaede!”  Gonta wept, mourning the deceased pianist.

“What are we gonna do from now on…?”  Clover asked, tugging on her brother’s sleeve.

“Y-Yeah, I’d like to know, too…”  Teruaki stammered.  “I’m so over this already…”

“Let’s…just head to bed…”  Seven suggested.

“Agreed.”  Ace nodded.  “I’m sure we could all use it.”

Everyone mumbled in agreement and turned towards the elevator.  As she was about to follow the others, Kiki turned back to see Shuichi still kneeling in place.  Not having moved an inch, he still wept, his back turned to them.

“Hey, Shuichi…”  Kiki circled around him and shook his shoulder, her eyes staring down in concern.  “Everyone’s waiting at the elevator.  We’re about to…”

“…Don’t touch me.”

“Huh?”  Kiki gasped as Shuichi glared up at her, radiating anger and disdain despite his cap obscuring most of his eyes.

“You left Kaede, abandoned her to die…”  Shuichi’s words broke her heart, causing her to bite her lip and clench her fists.

Shuichi…that’s cold…  Her empathetic sorrow burned into anger as she gritted her teeth.

“Hey!”  Shuichi yelped, stunned as Kiki gripped him by his jacket and hoisted him into the air. 

Shuichi fell silent as Kiki growled, her hazel and lavender eyes seeming to burn into his soul.  “You think I wanted her to die?  That I wanted to convict her?” 

Robbed of his voice, Shuichi could only listen as Kiki continued to speak.  Gone was the calm girl who bravely stepped up to the plate when he was too cowardly to do so.  In her place was a grieving girl whose sobs bled into her voice, her eyes glossy with tears.

“I hated having to expose her at the class trial, or did you forget that she was my friend too?!  She was my anchor, my source of strength!  She stood up for me when I was suspected!  And when I realized that she was the culprit…I don’t think I ever felt so horrified in my life, even if I had my memories!  I…I cared about her…I respected her…I…”

At last, Kiki felt her knees buckle, causing her to collapse.  Tears fell from her lashes as she released her grip on Shuichi’s jacket.  She wrapped her arms around the despairing detective in a bear hug, burying her face in his shoulder.



“Kiki…”  Fresh tears streaming down his cheeks, Shuichi returned the embrace, crying along with the distraught girl as they took comfort in each other’s arms.

“…S-So…”  Kiki stammered as she pulled away and wiped her eyes.  “Don’t you ever, ever say I abandoned Kaede.  Got that?”

“Kiki…”  Shuichi bowed his head in guilt, feeling awful for lashing out at the closest friend he had left alive.

The two of them breathed heavily, allowing their emotions to run their course.  Having calmed down, they shared a mutual, apologetic smile, wiping the remaining tears from their eyes.

“Pardon me…”  Both of them looked up at Snake, who was now standing over them.  “Perhaps this might help to ease your sorrow.”

Kiki and Shuichi’s eyes widened as they stared at the familiar item gripped in Snake’s hand.  “That’s…Kaede’s backpack!”

“Indeed.  I heard it fall off her when she was pulled away.”  Snake explained.  “It should have her room key.  Perhaps you can go to her room and pay your last respects.”

“Pay our…last respects…?”  Kiki and Shuichi breathed hopefully.

“Quite.  I know it’s not the same as an actual funeral, but given the circumstances, it may be the best option you have to find closure, especially given how close you two were to her.  The rest of us are certainly grateful to her for trying to save us…but we certainly didn’t know her like you did.  So if anyone has the right to pay last respects, it’s you two.”

“Yeah!”  Snake turned and the three of them saw Clover running up to him.  “My brother’s right!  Go…go and pay your last respects to Kaede.  If my brother says it’ll help, it’ll help.”

Kiki smiled and took the strap of the backpack, nodding gratefully at the two siblings.  “Thanks Snake, Clover.”  She finally got to her feet and extended a hand to Shuichi.  “Let’s go, Shuichi.  Let’s…say a proper goodbye to Kaede.”

With a hesitant nod, Shuichi shakily got to his feet.  Kiki smiled sadly at him as she laced their fingers and squeezed his hand.  Stabilized by Kiki’s support, he allowed her to lead him to the others waiting at the elevator, Snake and Clover flanking him from behind as they rejoined the reduced survivors.

“Kiki…”  Koto and Kiri muttered sadly.

“Onee-chan…”  Mokubo’s heart went out to the big sister he considered a role model.

“Our baby…”  Kyoko sniffled, feeling guilty that she couldn’t prevent her daughter from knowing true despair.

“Kyoko, it’s not your fault.”  Makoto assured her as she leaned into his side.

“I am curious to know why Monokuma said that Rantaro might have had a clue.”  Maki admitted.  “I can’t help but wonder if he was involved in this more than his memories allowed him to remember.”

“It’s…a possibility…”  Kyoko admitted.

“They can worry about that later.”  Makoto frowned.  “Right now, Kiki and Shuichi need to find closure.  Shuichi especially, since he fought so hard to protect the girl he loved.”

Everyone nodded, turning their attentions back to the TV as the survivors left the elevator boundary and walked back to their dorms.

“Well…here it is…”  Kiki fished through the backpack as they stood in front of Kaede’s door.  Once she fished the key out of the backpack, she offered it to Shuichi and asked, “Shuichi, you wanna do the honors?  She was your girlfriend after all…”

“…Thanks…”  Shuichi replied gratefully before he shakily inserted the key into the lock.

Kiki held her hand over his, stabilizing it as he turned to look at her with surprise.  The young girl smiled encouragingly at him, causing Shuichi to nod.

“…On three…”  Kiki suggested.  “One…Two…Three.”

They turned the key in the lock and pushed, causing the door to swing open.  With a shared look of hesitation, they reluctantly stepped inside, glancing around Kaede’s now abandoned room.

“It…doesn’t look all that different from mine…”  Kiki observed.

“Yeah…”  Shuichi nodded.  “I saw this room once, though I was just getting Kaede, so I didn’t get a close look or anything.  I think our rooms have the same base construction and are just slightly personalized to fit our personalities and hobbies.”

“Yeah…I can see why this room might be personalized to fit Kaede…look, there’s a piano over there.”

Shuichi smiled at the piano sitting on the far end of the room.  “Yeah…I would have loved to watch her play…I wish I could remember one of her concerts…”

“Didn’t she say there was a special song for calming someone’s heart?”  Kiki pondered.

“…Clair De Lune…by…Debussy.”  Shuichi recalled.

“Let’s see…”  Kiki began to rummage through the backpack, piquing Shuichi’s interest.  “Ah!”  Kiki gasped as she pulled out several music sheets.  “She had that exact song in her backpack!  Shuichi…why don’t we play it on that piano…as a tribute to her?”

“P-Play it…?”  Shuichi stammered hesitantly, feeling his nervousness spike at the prospect.  “I don’t know…I’m not even sure if I’ve ever played piano…”

“So?  Even if we botch it, I’m sure Kaede’s spirit will appreciate the fact that we’re even trying!”

“Well…alright, I’ll try…”  Kiki smiled as they both approached the padded bench chair and sat down on it.  “Alright, let’s see…G…G…”

As Shuichi tapped the keys, the melody came out horribly off-tune, causing him to hang his head in shame.

“…You suck at this, Shuichi.”  Kiki teased, causing him to pout.

“I’d like to see you try…” 

Shuichi’s grumbling ignited Kiki’s competitive spirit.  “Alright, challenge accepted!  Let’s see…let’s try…these keys!”

Kiki attempt at piano however fell just as flat as Shuichi’s, if not worse.  Shuichi couldn’t help but elbow the dejected girl and smile teasingly at her failure.

“Not so easy, is it?”

“Quiet, I’m trying, aren’t I?”  Kiki grumbled, causing Shuichi to chuckle at how cute she looked.

“Alright, let’s…investigate this keyboard.”  Shuichi suggested.  “You know…try out all the keys and see how they sound before we try and attempt the song?”

“Sure, that sounds like a good idea.  Let’s start with this key, shall we?”

It took many, MANY tries, but eventually they familiarized themselves with the keys.  Shuichi tapped the keys on the right half of the piano while Kiki played the left when needed.  As they executed the song, Shuichi couldn’t help but stare in awe at Kiki’s elegant handiwork, as beautiful as a ballerina dancing from spot to spot.

“There, not half bad, huh, Shuichi?”

Shuichi hastily shook the blush from his face before he smiled and nodded approvingly.  “Yeah, it wouldn’t be realistic for us to become a master like Kaede in one night…but I think she liked that we didn’t botch it eventually.”

Kiki giggled “Yeah.”  She and Shuichi looked up at the ceiling as they clasped their hands in prayer.  “We hope you liked the song, Kaede, wherever you are.  We promise we’ll never forget you.”

“Kaede…”  Shuichi apologized.  “I’m sorry I wasn’t strong enough to fight for the truth…but I promise…someday…I’ll be the detective you believe I am…”

Kiki smiled proudly at Shuichi before they both stood up.  “Well, why don’t we go and get some rest, Shuichi?”

“Yeah…sounds good…”  Shuichi agreed.

Kiki laced her fingers with his as she picked up Kaede’s backpack with the other hand.  She led him outside before he closed the door behind them.  Neither of them noticed the keys dancing on their own as the spirit inhabiting the room played the familiar song like a master maestro.

“Shuichi…Kiki…I trust you to keep your promise…survive and get out of this place!  I believe in you!”

Chapter One: End!

Surviving Students: 14

Makoto and Kyoko smiled as Kiki and Shuichi parted ways, retreating back to their respective rooms.

“Well, at least they found closure.”  Makoto muttered gratefully before he turned off the TV.  “Alright, you three, it’s way past your bedtimes.  Hurry up, all of you.”

The trio stood up obediently and walked back to their rooms, eager to fall asleep after everything they had witnessed.  “Thanks for helping out, Maki.”  Kyoko told the former babysitter gratefully.

“Of course.”  Maki shrugged.  “Alright, I’d better check in on Haruki before I go to bed myself.”

“Yeah, I’d say we could all use a good night’s sleep.”  Makoto agreed.  “Good night, Maki.”

“Good night.”

With that, the three adults parted ways, Makoto’s arm wrapped around Kyoko as they walked down the hallway while Maki retreated upstairs.

“Makoto…I’m really scared for Kiki…”  Kyoko admitted.

“Me too, Kyoko, but we have to believe in Kiki.  After all…”  Makoto couldn’t hide the proud smile as he pointed out “When push came to shove, she was able to take the torch Kaede had passed to her.  I have no doubt she’ll be a survivor.”

“…I hope you’re right…”  Kyoko muttered, wanting to believe in her daughter above all else.

“Hey, she’s got your brains!”

“And your optimism!”  Kyoko giggled.

With a slightly greater peace of mind, the two parents entered their bedroom, falling asleep in each other’s arms once they collapsed on the bed.  They took comfort in their love for each other, and their hopes that their daughter would survive the trials and tribulations that were forced upon her.


The officers jumped in their chairs as the steaming detective stormed into the room.


“Detective, we’re trying, but we don’t have that many landmarks to work off of from when that Naegi girl nearly fell to her death.”

“Yeah, we haven’t even narrowed down a prefecture yet…”

“Then give me your photo and video evidence and I’ll find you the prefecture.  NOW!”  The officers gulped and started frantically emailing various attachments.  “…I’m going back to my office…”  The detective stormed out of the room and back to their office, sighing as they collapsed in their chair and rested their face in their palms.  I’ve failed to get them all out alive…but as long as I can get the rest out before that one gets killed…it won’t be a total loss…

Chapter Text

*Ding Dong Bing Bong*

“Good morning, everyone!  It’s now 8 a.m., and nighttime is officially over.  Time to rise and shine!  Get ready to greet another beeyutiful day!”

Kiki groaned, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.  She yawned, stretching her arms up as she slid her legs over the side of the bed.

“Kami, I hate that announcement…”  Kiki blinked the haziness out of her vision, allowing her to see her room in clarity.  “Well, I’m up, so I guess I should go meet up with Kaede and Shuichi at…”

Kiki gasped as she suddenly remembered the horrific events of the previous day.  Her eyes widened in horror as she vividly flashed back to the memories of finding Rantaro’s corpse blood pooling from the top of his head.  She grimaced, recalling having to expose Kaede as the killer, and being forced to her elaborate execution.  Her empty stomach churned, the sight of the deceased pianist being reduced to a bloodstain dripping down the giant musical instrument flashing before her eyes.

“…That’s right…”  Her eyes lowered sadly as she lamented, “Kaede’s dead…she killed Rantaro by mistake…and Shuichi…poor Shuichi…”  His anguished defense echoed in her ears as his demoralized face from when she had to prove him wrong flashed before her eyes.  “He believed in Kaede until the very end…he didn’t deserve to have his hope ripped away from him…”

*Ding Dong*

“Huh?  Who could that be?”  Kiki wondered as she finally stood up.  She gingerly walked to the door and cautiously opened it, exclaiming “Shuichi?”

The amateur detective tried to smile, but she could tell it was obviously forced.  His grey eyes still swam with the sorrow of losing his crush, though he looked like he was at least trying to move past her death.

“Ah, G-Good Morning, Kiki.  You, ah, are you coming to breakfast?  I…figured we could head over there together.”


Kiki frowned as she detected the hint of desperation in his voice.  Her heart clenched, the boy’s despairing frown causing her to feel an added burst of sympathy for the boy detective.

You feel so lost, don’t you?  With Kaede gone, you’re struggling to anchor yourself.  Kaede always kept us together on a path; she was our leader.

“From now on, you’re the heart and soul of this group.”

Kaede…I still don’t know if I’m really the heart and soul that we all need…but I’m going to do my best to keep my promise to you.  I’ll try my hardest to get everyone out of here, and to be the support Shuichi needs!

Kiki smiled and nodded.  “Let me just get dressed and I’ll be right with you.”

“Oh, okay.”  Shuichi blushed and apologized, “Sorry, I’ll just…wait outside.”

Once Shuichi closed the door to her room, Kiki sighed and turned to her closet.  “Well, I’d better get ready to start the day, then.”

“So, Kiki’s the protagonist now?”  Koto asked as the screen faded to black.

“Makes sense.”  Kiri admitted.  “She was the one to expose Kaede.  It makes sense that the footage would focus primarily on her.”

Makoto nodded, empathizing with Kiki as someone who had already been thrust into the role of leader against their will.  “At least she’s adapting to her role as an anchor and leader for Shuichi and the others.”

“Indeed.”  Kyoko smiled proudly as she reflected on how her daughter overcame her own fears to take charge.  “Let’s just hope she’s up to the task ahead.”

“That’s right.”  Maki agreed.  “She’s got quite the tall order.  Leading the others, keeping up their morale, finding a way out of that building.  It’s not going to be easy.”

“…Nee-chan can do it.”  Everyone turned to Mokubo, who muttered, “Nee-chan can do it.”

“Moku…”  Makoto muttered, sensing that his son was trying to convince himself of that as much as he was the others.  The father smiled, agreeing “That’s right, Kiki can do it.”

“Of course she can.”  Kyoko concurred.  “She’s your daughter, after all.”

“Yeah!  Kiki can do it!”

Maki smiled at the twins’ joint cheers before the TV turned back on, showing the teenage girl and amateur detective walking down the hallway.

“Ah, Kiki?”

“Hm?”  Kiki raised an eyebrow in curiosity as they stopped in front of the dining hall.  “What is it, Shuichi?”

Shuichi bit his lip anxiously before he finally apologized.  “About last night…I’m…I’m sorry I lashed out at you.  It doesn’t matter that Kaede…anyway, I had no excuse for treating you like that.  So…”  Shuichi bowed his head in apology.  “I’m sorry, Kiki.”

“Shuichi…”  Kiki giggled, catching his attention as he stared in shock.  “You don’t need to apologize.  I know you were grieving, and it’s better to let those emotions out than keep them bottled forever.  Plus…” 

Kiki frowned in guilt as she recalled how she lashed back at him.  She took a deep breath, collecting her thoughts before she continued to comfort Shuichi.

“…I could have been more understanding of your grief.  So I don’t think either of us are blameless, but I don’t think Kaede would want us to be kicking ourselves over something so petty.  Let’s honor her memory by doing our best to get out of here without another killing.”

“Kiki…”  Shuichi smiled a small, yet genuine smile and nodded.  “Okay…for Kaede.”

“For Kaede.”  Kiki agreed before they turned back to the doors and opened them.

Everyone turned their heads, already sitting at the dining table to see Kiki and Shuichi approaching them.

“Ah…Good morning.”  Tsumugi greeted as Kiki and Shuichi took the two remaining seats at the dining table, sitting side-by-side.

“Good Morning.”  They greeted with soft smiles.

“Oh, Shuichi…Kiki…Ano…”  Gonta fumbled as Shuichi averted his gaze bashfully.

“You don’t have to stare…you don’t have to tiptoe around us…”

Kiki nodded in agreement with the detective.  “We’re both still hurting after what happened to Kaede, but we’re not going to expect you to watch every single word you say about it.  I mean…ignoring it would be an insult to her memory, right?”

Kirumi nodded.  “You are right.  My apologies.”

“I guess my brother’s advice gave you the boost you needed.”  Clover commented, causing Kiki to nod.

“Yeah…we were able to find the closure we needed.  Thanks for your advice the other night, Snake.”

Snake smiled humbly and replied, “Well, I’m glad my small piece of advice could help you to heal.”

“Anyway, you guys look so much better.”  Clover commented.  “Yesterday, it looked like you guys were struggling to pull yourselves together, but now you look like you could take on the world!”

“Clover, I know you mean well, but wasn’t that remark a bit insensitive?”  Snake gently chided, causing her to pout.

“C’mon!  They just said not to tiptoe around it!”

“There’s a difference between tiptoeing around something and exercising tact.”

“I-it’s okay, Snake.”  Shuichi assured them.  “I’m not offended.”

Snake sighed but let the matter drop before Lotus added, “She’s right though; you guys seem to be exuding some kind of hopeful aura; it’s lighting up this whole room.”

“Unfortunately, Professor Idabashi never installed an aura detector function when he designed me, so I can’t quite sense it as well as the others here.”  Keebo lamented as Seven laughed and clapped him on the back.

“Don’t worry about it, Keebo!  Just know that the air’s a whole lot more pleasant now.”

“Agreed.”  Ace mused “Between your raised spirits and the breakfast Kirumi prepared, we’ll be able to bounce back from this in no time.”

“…Will we?”  Everyone turned towards Sokyu, who reminded them, “Not to rain on everyone’s parade, but the fact is that one of our so-called friends murdered another.  I know Kaede had noble intentions, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that she planned out a murder.”

“Y-yeah!”  Teruaki stammered.  “No amount of ku-kumbaya can change that!”

“Hmph, guess our unity is still as fragile as it’s always been…”  Ryoma muttered.

“Sokyu, Teruaki, calm yourselves.”  Ace interjected.  “I know how you feel, but nothing will come of continuing to doubt each other.  We need to stand together now more than ever.”

“I agree with you, Ace.”  Kirumi gestured to the many plates on the table.  “Let us begin the reinforcement of our unity by engaging in this special breakfast I made for the occasion.  I have prepared an Italian omelet, buttermilk pancakes, smoked salmon galette…And for those who prefer Japanese cuisine, I have prepared rice balls and miso soup.”

“Kirumi, be my mom!”  Clover exclaimed, salivating at the delectable dishes in front of them.

“Gonta wants you to be his mom, too!”

“…What are you two even saying?”  Keebo muttered as everyone sweatdropped.

“Anyway, Kirumi’s right.”  Kiki agreed.  “We don’t need to let Monokuma push us around any longer.  Let’s show him through our unity that we won’t play his game any longer!”

Through varying expressions of agreement, the group ate their meal, forgetting about the killing game for the time being.

“Well, for now at least, it seems like she’s keeping everyone on the same page.”  Makoto commented.

“Yes, but still…”  Kyoko’s brow furrowed worriedly.  “They can’t just ignore the points that Sokyu and Teruaki made.  Now that a killing has happened, that sense of security they had has now evaporated.”

Mokubo nodded in agreement.  “Things are much more tense now, no matter how much Nee-chan tries to keep the peace.”

“So…are you saying…?”  Koto began worriedly.

“…another killing is bound to happen…?”  Kiri finished as their father sighed.

“That depends on whether they succumb to whatever motive Monokuma has planned.  That’s the true test of whether they’ll defeat this killing game.”

“…Let’s not worry about that for now.”  Maki suggested, pointing to the TV.  “It looks like they finished breakfast.  Let’s see what happens now.”

“Gonta does not mean to flatter, but…all this food is so yummy!”

“I must agree, I haven’t had food this good in ages!”  Ace agreed.

“I have to admit, you could give Clover’s cooking a run for its money.”  Snake admitted, playfully nudging Clover with his elbow.

As Clover snickered and elbowed her brother in return, Seven gushed “Yeah, this is so good!” 

Lotus watched Seven stuff his mouth with the last rice ball, crossing her arms in annoyance.  “Hey, didn’t you learn table manners, you oversized elephant?”

“Hey, don’t tell me you’re not amazed to eat food this good!”

“That doesn’t mean I feel the need to gorge myself.”

As Seven opened his mouth to argue, he glanced at Keebo, whose lips tugged into a sad frown.  “Hm?  What’s wrong, Keebo?  You’re not eating — Oh, yeah!  I totally forgot you can’t eat!”  He laughed and clapped Keebo on the back.  “Hey now, don’t look so down.  I’ll bring you a broken TV later.”

“I don’t want that…I’m not a waste receptable.”

Kiki smiled as she saw everyone begin to banter with each other in their own separate conversations.  This feels…almost normal…except…it’s not normal…it’s forced conversation.  Kiki suppressed the memories of Rantaro and Kaede’s corpses from her mind.  We can’t expect things to go back to normal after just one night.  That’s not reasonable.  The most we can do is help each other to bear the burden.  That’s why…this kind of conversation, even if it’s forced, is what we need right now…

“Helloooo!”  Kiki groaned as she looked up from her plate and saw Monokuma, grinning and tapping his foot against the tabletop.  “Looks like you guys are having a good time.  Let me join in.”

“No way!”  Kiki narrowed her eyes and pressed her finger against Monokuma’s nose.  “This is a private breakfast!  Now get lost!”

“Kiki’s right!”  Shuichi agreed.  “We don’t want you anywhere near us!”

“I just want a nice quiet breakfast with my brother!”  Clover concurred.

“You…”  Monokuma teared up.  “You all…feel the same?  You don’t even…want to share your food…with your…headmaster?”

“What would we even feed you?”  Snake inquired.  “You’re just a stuffed teddy bear.”

Monokuma’s tears dried up instantly as he clenched his paws, growling in fury.  “Just…a stuffed…teddy bear…?  I’ll have you know that I’m the best stuffed teddy bear there is!  Seriously, how many bears grow up to become headmasters?!  And I make for way better company than that red-shirted one little kids adore for some reason!”

As the others sweatdropped, Ryoma asked bluntly “Why are you here?”

“Ahh…I figured I’d give you guys a prize for surviving the class trial.”

“A prize…?”  Shuichi asked hesitantly as Kiki narrowed her eyes suspiciously.

“Yep, that’s right!  I know you guys must be getting bored, locked in the same old rooms day in and day out. So, each item you clear a class trial, I’ll unlock a new area of the school!”

“A…new area…?”  Lotus asked.

“Must be the floor below us.”  Seven mused.  “The one that was blocked off by those metal gates we found during our initial search of the school.”

“I see…that would make sense…”  Snake muttered.

“So we can really get to a new floor?!”  Clover asked hopefully.

“That’s right, little lady!  Enjoy the fruits of your labor!  Ahahahaha!”

With that, Monokuma leaped off the table and waddled out of the dining hall.  At that moment, fourteen simultaneous dings echoed in the dining hall.

“It’s our e-Handbooks!”  Kiki realized as they all took theirs out and activated the Map app.

“It looks like it’s been updated with a map of the new floor.”  Shuichi observed.

“You’re right, Shuichi.  It looks like there’s a Chemistry Lab, a Greenhouse, a Storage Room, and…a pool!”

“Oh, it’s been ages since I’ve gone swimming!”  Clover exclaimed excitedly.

“Calm yourself, Clover.”  Snake tried to rein in his sister’s excitement.

“At any rate, it might make sense for us to survey the new floor.”  Ace suggested.

“Yeah, good idea, Ace.”  Kiki agreed.  “We should split up into teams again.”

“Like that worked so well last time…”  Teruaki grumbled, causing Kiki to sigh in exasperation.

“Teruaki, I don’t blame you for being skeptical after what happened last night…but Kaede’s suggestion for us to split into groups to investigate was a sound one.  We can cover more ground and ensure our own safety in case of…the unthinkable.”

“Kiki…”  Shuichi muttered before Kirumi interjected.

“We should decide who’s going to group with who and where they’ll investigate.”

“I’ll go with my brother again!”  Clover volunteered to nobody’s surprise.

“Ah, Kiki…”  Shuichi turned to his friend and asked nervously, “Mind partnering up again?”

Kiki smiled and nodded.  “Sure, I’d be happy to.  Alright, that leaves ten of us left to team up.”

“I’ll go with Keebo and Gonta if they want to.”  Seven volunteered, causing Keebo to sigh.

“I suppose there’s no helping it…just promise to keep your robophobia in check.”

“Don’t worry, Keebo, Gonta promises not to be robophobic.  That would not be gentlemanly at all.”

The others sweatdropped as Tsumugi volunteered, “I’ll go check out the swimming pool.  Maybe by looking at it, I’ll be able to remember some of my favorite pool anime scenes!”

“…I’ll go with her, if only to make sure she stays on task.”  Kirumi suggested.  “Anyone else want to join us?”

“I guess I’ll come with as well.”  Lotus agreed, causing Kiki to nod.

“Alright, that leaves Sokyu, Teruaki, Ace, and Ryoma.  You four okay in a group?”

“Whatever…”  Sokyu muttered.

“I’m a-always leftovers…”  Teruaki lamented.

“Personally, I’d rather go by myself and not cause anyone trouble, but I suppose I can be a team player.”  Ryoma sighed.

“I’ll make sure we do our best as a cohesive unit and investigate to the best of our ability.”  Ace vowed.

Kiki nodded.  “Alright, now that we have our team assignments, let’s decide where we’ll go.  Shuichi, how about we investigate the classrooms?”

As Shuichi nodded, Snake decided “Clover and I will investigate the nearby storage room.”

“We’ll check out the Chemistry Lab.”  Ace volunteered.

“Since Tsumugi’s group has already volunteered to check out the pool, we shall investigate the Greenhouse.”  Keebo finished.

“Maybe Gonta will find lots of bug friends!”  Gonta grinned hopefully as Seven laughed and clapped Gonta on the back.

As everyone else sweatdropped, Kiki cleared her throat.  “Anyway, now that we have our assignments, let’s head out.  We have a new floor to investigate.”

With that, the survivors separated into groups and left the dining hall to commence their investigation.

“Well, at least this part hasn’t changed.”  Makoto commented.

“Indeed.”  Kyoko concurred.  “It’s highly unlikely that there’s an exit on the fourth floor, but there’s a possibility they might find some clues.”

“Plus, they have a pool now!”  Kiri exclaimed as her twin brother nodded with a smile.

“At least now Kiki can go swimming!”

Everyone sweatdropped at the twins’ optimism before Maki muttered with an amused smile, “Well, at least some of us can look on the bright side.”

“It looks like Kiki and Shuichi are about to investigate the classrooms.”  Mokubo pointed out.  “Let’s see if they find anything.”

“So…how do you wanna split these up?”  Kiki asked as she and Shuichi stood in front of the three classrooms.  “There’s three rooms, and only two of us.”

Shuichi hummed, cradling his chin in his hand.  “Well, why don’t you check Room 4-A?  Since I have more training, I can investigate Rooms 4-B and 4-C in probably the same time it’ll take you to investigate this room.”

Kiki nodded in agreement.  “Good idea, Shuichi.  Alright, I’ll meet you out here afterwards.”

Shuichi nodded before he turned around and walked to the adjacent door.  Once he disappeared through the door, Kiki took a deep breath and placed her hand on the doorknob.  Without another word, she twisted and pushed the door open.

“…It looks just like the classroom I woke up in…”  Kiki muttered, shaking away her first memory of the deceased pianist.  “Alright, let’s see what we can find!”

“…And apparently it’s just as empty as the one we woke up in…”  Kiki sighed in disappointment.  “Still can’t see the ground from the windows, no clues about how we got here, and nothing that could help us escape.” 

Memories of waking up with Shuichi to Kaede’s curious face played before her eyes once more.  Gritting her teeth and suppressing the tears that threatened to drip from her eyes, she shook the memories away.  Kiki groaned in frustration as she kicked the nearby desk, toppling it over. 

“This reeks!  I…huh?”

Kiki trailed off as she saw a thick, black book slide out from the inside of the desk.  Curious, she walked over to it and picked it up.

“What’s this…?  A History of Hope’s Peak Academy Vol. 1: Trigger Happy Havoc.”  Her brow furrowed as she pondered, “Hope’s Peak Academy?  Trigger Happy Havoc?”


Startled out of her thoughts, she looked up at the concerned detective.  “Oh, Shuichi.  Sorry, I was just…lost in thought.  Did you finish investigating the other classrooms?”  She smiled as she mused “You sure work fast; you must be some kind of Ultimate Detective.”

“Ah, no, there just wasn’t a lot of ground to search.”  Shuichi chuckled before his eyes focused on the book in Kiki’s hands.  “What’s that?”

“Oh, this?”  Kiki looked down at the tome in her hands.  “I found it in that desk I kicked over.”

“You…kicked a desk…?”

Kiki pouted, her cheeks flushed rose in embarrassment.  “I was frustrated I couldn’t find anything, okay?!”

Shuichi chuckled in amusement, his laughter contrasting with his previously distraught state.  Her pout softened as his mirth reached her ears, causing her pout to soften into a soft smile.

…At least you’re starting to smile and laugh a little…  Once his giggles died down, Kiki explained “Anyway, when I kicked it over, this came flying out.  I picked it up and I just read the title when you came.”

“Ah, let’s see…”  Shuichi walked next to her and stared intensely at the book.  “Hmm…it looks similar to the ones I found.”

“The ones…you found…?”

Shuichi nodded as he took out two similarly colored books from his jacket pockets.  “I found each of these in one of the classrooms, also hidden in one of the desks.”

“Really?  Could they be copies of the one I found?”

Shuichi shook his head and explained, “It’s not a bad deduction, but no.  They had slightly different titles, but based off the titles on the covers, I think it’s safe to say that all three of these books are part of the same series.”

“Really?  Let’s see what they are!”  Kiki stared at the two books as Shuichi held them up for her to see.  “You’re right!  Both of them start with A History of Hope’s Peak Academy!”  Her brow furrowed as she realized, “But, wait…the subtitles are completely different.  This one says…Volume Two: Goodbye Despair.  And that one says Volume Three: The End of Hope’s Peak Academy.”

Shuichi nodded.  “I don’t think there’s any doubt that these three books are from the same series.  In fact, it might not be a stretch to say that this trilogy tells a complete story.”

“Yeah, that makes sense.”  Kiki agreed with a nod.  “So…what should we do?”

“…Let’s head back to the dining hall and rendezvous with the others.  It’d probably be best if we all read the contents of these together.”

“Yeah, good idea.”  Kiki concurred.  “Best if everyone has equal access to information.  Okay, let’s go!”

Shuichi nodded and followed Kiki back to the fifth-floor dorms to wait for the others to finish their investigations.

“Wait…”  Makoto realized.  “That’s…”

“Our story!”  Kyoko finished.

“I guess whoever the mastermind is, they found out about the events of the Tragedy and assembled a summary for the participants of this killing game.”

“So we’re gonna find out about Mom and Dad’s adventures?!”  Koto and Kiri exclaimed excitedly.

“It’s probably not comprehensive, just a summarized version.”  Mokubo interjected.

“That’s probably the case.”  Makoto told his children.

“Your father and I will fill you in on the details later.”  Kyoko promised.  “For now, let’s keep watching and see what the others find.”

The three Naegi children nodded as they watched Kiki and Shuichi wait for the others in the dining hall.


Chapter Text

“Okay, let’s discuss what we found in our investigations.”  Kiki announced once everyone had filed back into the dining hall.

“Wh-who made you the le-leader?!”  Teruaki grumbled at Kiki before being silenced by a glare from Sokyu.

“Knock it off, who cares who directs this conversation?”

Teruaki grumbled before Kiki sighed.   I never even wanted to be a leader, but I’m trying my best here!

Her thoughts were interrupted by a comforting hand on her shoulder.  She turned her head to see Shuichi smiling encouragingly at her.  Kiki’s lips tugged into a smile, causing her to nod before Shuichi removed his hand from her.

“Alright, who wants to go first?”

“Clover can speak for the two of us.”  Snake suggested.

Clover nodded.  “There wasn’t really much of note in the storage room.  Mostly a bunch of cleaning supplies and other junk.”

“Correct.  If you’re looking for anything in particular, I’d recommend sticking to the warehouse.”

At least there doesn’t appear to be anything dangerous…  Kiki gave a relieved smile.  “That’s good to know.  Alright, who’s next?”

“I’ll do my best to explain for our group.”  Ace volunteered, causing Sokyu, Teruaki, and Ryoma to nod.  “The Chemistry Lab, as its name implies, includes a lot of chemicals.  There’s also a full chemistry set available for use, so anyone who wants to pass some time replicating any high school science projects is free to do so.”

“However, there’s not just harmless stuff in the chemistry lab.”  Ryoma warned.  “There’s a large cabinet in there that’s split by section.”

Teruaki nodded nervously.  “Section A isn’t too ba-bad.  It just has dietary supplements and over the counter medications.  Section B contains reagents.  I do-don’t really understand that much about it, to be honest.  But Section C…it’s filled to the brim with da-dangerous poisons.”

“POISONS?!”  Kiki paled, holding in her urge to shriek in shock.

Sokyu nodded.  “Suffice to say, anyone who wanted to become the next blackened could get what they need from there.”

“That’s true, but it would be really risky.”  Shuichi mused.  “I mean…if you left any evidence that you went to the chem lab, you’d be easily found out.  So, I don’t think there’s any real danger of that.”

Kiki nodded.  “Still, we should probably keep a close eye on that place.  If we could, I’d rather just destroy the poisons, but Monokuma would probably just restock them if we tried.”

Clover rested her hands on her hips.  “But if Monokuma restocked them, wouldn’t that make it easier for the culprit to cover up their crime?”

“I don’t think that’s a problem.”  Snake gently refuted.  “Recall the rule that says Monokuma will never directly commit a murder?  Admittedly, this is just my conjecture, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that regulation extends to interfering in a murder.  That would include tampering with evidence.  If Monokuma restocked the poisons so close to an investigation, that would be tampering with evidence, which would prejudice the trial in favor of the blackened.”

“Oh!”  Clover realized.  “So Monokuma would only restock the poisons after a Class Trial?”

Ace nodded.  “That’s probably why Monokuma left us access to the chem lab, so anyone tempted to kill could have an easily viable method to accomplish their goal.”

The thought left a pit in everyone’s stomachs.  Shaking away her nausea, Kiki forced herself to speak. 

“Okay, who’s next?”

“Permit me to explain.”  Everyone turned their attention to Kirumi, who explained, “Inside the pool entrance contains a central lobby of sorts that contains the entrances to the boys’ and girls’ locker rooms.  They’re apparently set up to unlock by swiping your e-Handbook on the appropriate lock.”

“Just make sure you don’t go into the wrong one.”  Tsumugi warned gravely.  “If you swipe on the wrong door, Monokuma said that the machine guns installed will turn you into swiss cheese!”

“That seems…excessive…”  Shuichi deadpanned with an uneasy smile.

“He said it was to preserve the image of the school from sexual deviants, or something like that.  Regardless, it’s way too harsh of a punishment.  After all, there’s no 1-Up Mushrooms or Fairies to revive you if you make a mistake…”

“We couldn’t check out the boys’ locker room, for obvious reasons.”  Lotus commented.  “The girls locker room however, is pretty basic.  There are lockers, of course, and a variety of exercise equipment.  So as long as you’re mindful about being in the right locker room, it’s a good place to burn off some steam.”

Yeah, maybe I’ll check it out at some point.  Kiki thought.  I’ve been feeling kind of out of shape for a while, so it might be a good place to get active again.

“We checked out the pool, and it’s a pretty standard pool that you’d find at any high school.  There are some regulations posted on the wall.  The most important one worth noting is that swimming in the pool is forbidden at nighttime.  Apparently if anyone tries, Monokuma has a hidden piranha tank that he’ll release into the pool.”

“…That seems…painful…”  Kiki shuddered as she imagined the sight of someone being reduced to bones just for swimming.

“You’re telling me…”  Lotus grumbled.  “Anyways, other than that, there wasn’t anything of note in there.”

“Then I guess it’s our turn.”  Seven began.  “We looked around the greenhouse.  It’s filled with a variety of plants.  I wouldn’t call them edible, but the flowers really are beautiful.”

“But even so, there wasn’t a single bug inside the greenhouse.”  Gonta lamented.  “Gonta doesn’t understand it.  How can there be beautiful flowers without any bugs to pollinate them?”

“He’s right.”  Shuichi pondered “I suppose they could be artificially pollinated, though it is strange that there’s not any insects or animals in a greenhouse.”

Kiki hummed in agreement.  Once she quieted down, Keebo spoke. 

“There was also a toolshed, though there wasn’t anything we could use on the gates covering the stairs to the next floor.”

“Anyway, that’s all we found.”  Seven muttered.  “So, I guess that leaves you two.”

“Yeah…”  Kiki muttered as she and Shuichi held up the books they found.  “The only things we found were these three books.  Shuichi and I think they might be part of a series.”

“So you found some old books, so what?”  Lotus commented.

“What if they’re not just old books though?  What if they contain useful information?”

“We can’t dismiss the possibility.”  Shuichi pointed out.  “We haven’t read them yet; we wanted everyone to be here first, so we’d all have equal access to information.”

“I see, that’s very considerate of you.”  Ace smiled and Snake nodded.

“Indeed.  I’ll admit I’m curious to hear what these books contain.  Of course, there’s always the possibility that they could be a dud. But if there’s a possibility that they could contain some useful information, it behooves us to investigate them.”

“Yeah, that makes sense.”  Seven agreed.

“So are we all in agreement?”  Kirumi inquired.  “If this is everyone’s wish, then I shall follow your lead.”

“Can’t hurt, I guess.”  Ryoma shrugged.

“I’ll be sure to commit every detail to my data banks.”  Keebo promised.

“Gonta will do his best to follow along!”

“F-fine…”  Teruaki grumbled while Sokyu merely shrugged in acceptance.

“Well, what are we waiting for?!”  Clover exclaimed.  “Open them so we can start reading!”

Kiki and Shuichi nodded as they placed the books on the table and sat down.  Once everyone was seated, Kiki opened the first book and began to read.

“A History of Hope’s Peak Academy Vol. 1: Trigger Happy Havoc.  Years ago, Hope’s Peak Academy, a school for the extremely gifted, educated the best and brightest high school students and sent them out to be leaders in every industry.  These students were called Ultimates because of their prodigious skills that Hope’s Peak scouted them for.  The true goal of the Ultimate Talent Initiative, however, was for Hope’s Peak to study the Ultimate talents of the students so they could create a human who would have every talent known to man.”

“It sounds like something out of a manga!”  Tsumugi commented.  “Oh, sorry, I’ll keep quiet now.”  She apologized, allowing Kiki to continue.

“To that end, Hope’s Peak eventually started accepting normal, untalented students into its Reserve Course Department, as long as they paid a high tuition.  Eventually, the Steering Committee succeeded in its goal, and through numerous unethical experiments, transformed a Reserve Course Student named Hajime Hinata, into an Ultimate Hope.  In the process, they overwrote his personality and dubbed his new persona, Izuru Kamukura, named after the founder of Hope’s Peak Academy.”

“Ugh, that’s so messed up!”  Lotus spat in disgust, causing the others to mumble in agreement.

“Not long after, two students in the 78th Class, Junko Enoshima and Mukuro Ikusaba, found Izuru and persuaded him to help them throw Hope’s Peak into chaos.  Known collectively as the Ultimate Despair, they exposed the Steering Committee’s actions and incited the Reserve Course to riot against the Main Course.  They then forced the Student Council to kill each other.  Eventually, the riots spread worldwide, overthrowing national and international governments in the name of despair.”

“W-what?!”  Clover nearly shrieked.  “That…that’s not possible!”

“It does sound pretty far-fetched…”  Snake admitted.  “But I can’t say that it’s totally impossible.”


“We should listen to the rest of the story.”  Snake cut her off.  “There’s no sense in getting worked up before we can analyze all the information.”  He turned to Kiki with a nod.  “Go ahead, Kiki, continue.”

“Once despair had taken root, Junko ordered the Reserve Course students to commit mass suicide, leaving Class 78th as the only surviving students.  With the Steering Committee dead, the administration made the decision to seal the remaining students inside the school for their own protection.  However, this only allowed the Ultimate Despair to accelerate their plans, as they were already part of the student body.”

“I see…they had no idea that the masterminds were already lurking among them.”  Ace mused sadly.

“After a year of isolation, the Ultimate Despair murdered Headmaster Jin Kirigiri and forced the surviving students Sayaka Maizono, Leon Kuwata, Chihiro Fujisaki, Mondo Owada, Kiyotaka Ishimaru, Hifumi Yamada, Celestia Ludenberg/Taeko Yasuhiro, Sakura Ogami, Byakuya Togami, Aoi Asahina, Toko Fukawa, Yasuhiro Hagakure, Kyoko Kirigiri, and Makoto Naegi into a mutual killing game where the one to murder a classmate and not be convicted in a class trial would earn the right to leave the school.”

“Sounds an awful lot like the situation we’re in right now.”  Lotus mused.

“No j-joke…”  Teruaki stammered.  “Whoever trapped us her must have been using th-that killing game as a base!”

“Huh, guess it’s pretty plausible.”  Seven admitted.

Meanwhile, Kiki’s brow furrowed as she focused on one name in particular.  Naegi, Naegi…why does that name ring a bell…?

No matter how much she thought about it, the answer continued to elude her.  A twitch of pain flashed for a moment in her mind, causing her to hold her forehead in frustration.

“Kiki, are you okay?”  Shuichi asked in concern, shaking her out of her concentration.

“Oh, I’m fine, Shuichi, just…lost in thought…”

Shuichi frowned skeptically, but let it drop for now.  Kiki sighed turning the page and continuing to read.

“The mastermind, speaking through a robotic teddy bear called Monokuma, forced the students to commit a series of murders through various motives.  Eventually, in a failed bid to wrongfully execute Kyoko Kirigiri, Makoto Naegi was incorrectly voted as the blackened, and miraculously survived his execution.  Upon being rescued by Kyoko Kirigiri, Makoto Naegi led the other survivors Aoi Asahina, Byakuya Togami, Toko Fukawa, and Yasuhiro Hagakure in a counterattack against the surviving mastermind, Junko Enoshima.”

“Ah, so it seems that the format wasn’t the only thing that was borrowed.”  Snake mused.  “They copied Monokuma as well.”

“It’s incredible that he was able to survive one of Monokuma’s executions.”  Keebo mused in awe.

“Too bad we weren’t that lucky…”  Ryoma lamented before Kiki finished the book.

“With the six survivors united, they held a retrial for the murder of Mukuro Ikusaba and convicted Junko Enoshima.  After she executed herself as punishment, Makoto Naegi and the other survivors left Hope’s Peak Academy and re-entered the outside world.”

“Gonta…feeling sick…”  Gonta muttered, his face turning visibly green as he held his palm over his lips.

“Indeed, it makes little sense as to why the mastermind of this killing game would want to copy something so horrific.”  Kirumi agreed.

“As much as I’d love to call it a day…there are still two volumes remaining, correct?”  Snake asked.  As Kiki nodded, he suggested “There’s a possibility that the other two books could shed further light onto our situation.”

“Agreed.”  Ace concurred.  “We should read the other two volumes.  Kiki, are you alright to continue?”

“I can read the next one.”  Shuichi volunteered.  “You look like you could use a break, anyway.”

“Th-thanks…”  Kiki smiled appreciatively before Shuichi picked up the next volume.

“A History of Hope’s Peak Academy Vol. 2: Goodbye Despair.  After leaving Hope’s Peak Academy, the survivors of Class 78th were rescued by the Future Foundation, an organization made up of previous Hope’s Peak Academy staff and alumni that banded together to eradicate the forces of despair and restore hope to the world.” 

“So there was an organization fighting back against Junko Enoshima and the Tragedy?!”  Kiki exclaimed.

Shuichi nodded.  “It…looks that way.  Anyway…After being rescued, the survivors joined the Future Foundation.  While Aoi Asahina joined the 13th Division, the remaining survivors created the 14th Division, headed by Kyoko Kirigiri as the Director, and Byakuya Togami as the Vice-Director.”

“Well, at least they were able to fight back.”  Kiki mused optimistically.

“True enough.”  Sokyu agreed.  “Strength in numbers would be invaluable, particularly if the world really was destroyed.”

“And from the looks of things, the Future Foundation needed all the hands they could get.”

Everyone nodded at Ace’s comment.  “After several successful operations, the 14th Division managed to capture the Remnants of Despair, which included Izuru Kamukura and the surviving former students of Class 77-B, who Junko had earlier hypnotized into following despair prior to the Killing School Life.  While the Future Foundation wanted to execute them, the 14th Division, under Makoto Naegi’s objection, attempted to rehabilitate them through an experimental therapy called the Neo World Program.”

“My, I can’t help but admit his boldness.”  Snake admitted.  “Rather than allow them to die, he tried to give them a second chance at life.”

“Though I doubt it was that simple.”  Sokyu replied.  “There must have been some kind of bug along the way.”

Kiki grimaced as Shuichi confirmed Sokyu’s suspicions.  “What the 14th Division failed to take into account was that prior to being placed in the Neo World Program and reverting to Hajime Hinata, Izuru Kamukura planted a virus containing an AI that replicated Junko Enoshima’s consciousness.  Before long, it had completely rewritten the program, turning the therapeutic simulation of Jabberwock Island into the sight of another killing game.”

“Well, that backfired.”  Ryoma stated.  “Instead of giving them a second chance, Naegi ended up throwing them into a killing game just like what he had barely survived.”

“Hmph, some therapy.”  Lotus muttered.  “Does it say what happened to them?”

Shuichi nodded and continued “The Killing School Trip, as it came to be known, deleted the avatars of the Ultimate Imposter/Porkfeet, Teruteru Hanamura, Mahiru Koizumi, Peko Pekoyama, Ibuki Mioda, Hiyoko Saionji, Mikan Tsumiki, Nekomaru Nidai, Gundham Tanaka, Nagito Komaeda, and an AI that the 14th Division had included in the Neo World Program to observe their rehabilitation.  This AI was modeled after their former Class Representative that Junko had murdered during the Tragedy, Chiaki Nanami.”

“I see, so it just deleted their avatars in the virtual world.”  Lotus realized.

“But then, what happened to their bodies in the real world?”  Seven wondered.  “If their avatars got deleted, then did their minds die too?”

Shuichi hummed before he continued “This left the victims in a comatose state, playing into Junko’s plan to upload her subconscious into their bodies and restart the Tragedy.  Faced with no other option, Makoto Naegi, Kyoko Kirigiri, and Byakuya Togami uploaded themselves into the Neo World Program and, with the surviving Remnants’ help, shut down the program, deleting Junko’s AI and sending Hajime Hinata, Fuyuhiko Kuzuryu, Sonia Nevermind, Akane Owari, and Kazuichi Soda back to reality.”

“…I suppose it was the best-case scenario at that point.”  Ryoma muttered.  “Otherwise, the world would have been even worse off.”

“There was no other way, I suppose.”  Kirumi wondered “But were the other Remnants forced to remain braindead from their deaths in the Neo World Program?”

Shuichi hummed again before reading the last page.  “Upon reentering their bodies, the survivors managed to overcome despair, with Hajime Hinata retaining both his original personality and Izuru Kakukura’s talents.  Their mission completed, the 14th Division left Jabberwock Island, leaving the former Remnants to rebuild their lives in isolation and reawaken their former classmates.”

“So unlike their predecessors, everyone managed to survive the Killing School Trip.”  Keebo mused.

“Gonta is glad they got to have such a happy ending!”

Everyone else sweatdropped before Kiki concurred, “He’s right though.  It’s good that the 77th Class got to rebuild their lives after enduring such a horrific experience.”  Kiki’s eyes lowered as she muttered “Too bad that’s probably not going to happen to us.”

Everyone glanced at their laps, the mood suddenly somber as they flashed back to Rantaro and Kaede’s deaths.  “Don’t we still have one more book left?”  Clover asked, attracting everyone’s attention.

“Oh, that’s right.”  Kiki realized as she picked up the book.  “Alright… A History of Hope’s Peak Academy Vol. 3: The End of Hope’s Peak Academy.  Soon after the conclusion of the Killing School Trip, the other Division Directors found out about Makoto Naegi’s defiance and charged him with treason.”

“My, it seems the Future Foundation didn’t mess around with rule violations.”  Ace mused as Snake nodded in agreement.

“Yes and given how they wanted to eradicate the Remnants of Despair, it doesn’t take much in the way of imagination to predict what the consequence would be for protecting them.”

Kiki felt her all the color drain out of her face before she shook the thought from her mind.“  He was subsequently put on trial for protecting the Remnants of despair, to be judged by Chairman Kazuo Tengan, Vice-Chairman Kyosuke Munakata, and Directors Koichi Kizakura, Seiko Kimura, Chisa Yukizome, Juzo Sakakura, Miaya Gekkogahara, Ruruka Ando, Sonosuke Izayoi, Ryota Mitarai, Daisaku Bandai, Great Gozu, Aoi Asahina, who participated as a substitute for the 13th Division Director, and Kyoko Kirigiri, the last of whom also served as his defense counsel.

“My oh my!”  Tsumugi muttered.  “He really needed an Ace Attorney to help him out of that bind.”

“Yes, he seemed to be in quite the pickle.”  Snake concurred.  “With everything that happened, I honestly don’t know what kind of defense could have gotten him off the hook.”

Kiki grimaced as she turned the page.  “The trial however was cut short due to unforeseen interference.  Chisa Yukizome, who had been lobotomized by Mukuro Ikusaba into following despair during the original Tragedy, had previously subjected Chairman Kazuo Tengan to a video that hypnotized him into also following despair.  This caused him to plan a Mutual Killing Game that Makoto Naegi, along with the other Directors, would be subjected to.”

“The Chairman of the Future Foundation was the mastermind of another killing game?!”  Shuichi exclaimed.

“Not only that, it seems like Junko Enoshima had already planted a mole in the Future Foundation since its very inception.”  Ace realized.

“And given the pattern of the previous two killing games, I doubt that the Future Foundation escaped unscathed.”  Snake commented as Kiki nodded in reluctant agreement.

“During a trial recess, the participants were doused with sleeping gas and transferred to an underwater facility.  Before they awoke, bangles filled with poison were attached to their wrists.  Unlike the previous two killing games however, this Final Killing Game didn’t involve any class trials.  Instead, the participants were subjected to a different time limits during which they were free to act as they pleased as long as they didn’t violate a forbidden action that would inject lethal poison into their bloodstreams.”

“Well, that’s new.”  Ryoma muttered.  “At least the mastermind of this killing game didn’t take inspiration from that.”

“Yeah!”  Tsumugi agreed.  “At least we haven’t had to deal with anything like escape room puzzles or bombs in our bellies!”

“That’s just sick!”  Lotus spat as everyone turned pale from the image in their brains.

Kiki shook the thought from her head and continued, “At the conclusion of a time limit, a sedative would be injected from the bangles and put the survivors to sleep until the next time limit.  During the interim, a random participant would wake up early and be subjected to a hypnosis video that would cause them to commit suicide with a knife provided by the monitors.”

“Ah, I guess most of the murders then were suicides.”  Seven deduced.

“Looks that way.”  Kiki agreed grimly.  “By the end of the Final Killing Game, Chisa Yukizome, the Great Gozu, Seiko Kimura, and Ruruka Ando committed suicide.  Chairman Kazuo Tengan was killed by Vice-Chairman Kyosuke Munakata in a duel, while Juzo Sakakura died from blood loss after amputating his arm, though not before shutting down the power and the Final Killing Game in the process.”

“What about their forbidden actions?”  Keebo asked hesitantly.  “Did anyone violate theirs?”

“It…looks like it…”  Kiki sighed as she continued, “Daisaku Bandai triggered his by accident after witnessing a brawl between Sakakura and Mitarai, Ruruka Ando triggered Izayoi’s by slipping a piece of candy into his mouth, Koichi Kizakura intentionally triggered his by saving Kyoko Kirigiri from a trap with his left hand, and Kyoko Kirigiri allowed Makoto Naegi’s survival past the fourth time limit to trigger her own forbidden action.”

“Why would she do that?!”  Clover demanded.  “Who’d be stupid enough to let themselves get poisoned to death?  Especially after she was already saved by that Kizakura guy?”

Snake tutted and shook his head.  “She obviously must have believed in him very much.  I wonder…could they have felt something stronger for each other than they let on…?”

“In that situation, it makes sense for her to give up her own life for him.”  Lotus concurred.  “Love can make you do crazy things sometimes.”

The others nodded in agreement before Kiki continued, “Once the Final Killing Game ended, Ryota Mitarai attempted to hypnotize the world with a Hope Video to end despair.  Just before the broadcast, he was persuaded to cancel it by Hajime Hinata and the resurrected 77th Class.  The reunited former classmates saved the Future Foundation’s reputation by falsely taking responsibility for the incident before exiling themselves on Jabberwock Island.”

“…That takes guts.”  Ryoma muttered with a hint of awe.  “Confessing to a crime you didn’t commit, just so the Future Foundation and its mission could retain a shred of credibility.”

“Indeed.”  Kirumi agreed.  “Their sacrifice was undoubtedly noble.  There are many in my profession who could learn a thing or two from them.”

As the others nodded in concurrence, Shuichi asked “What about the others?”

“Let’s see…Kyosuke Munakata departed for regions unknown while Byakuya Togami and Yasuhiro Hagakure rescued Makoto Naegi, Aoi Asahina, and Kyoko Kirigiri, who had survived her poisoning by taking an antagonist medication that slowed the effects.  As a result, she was placed in a comatose state until she could be resuscitated by Mikan Tsumiki.” 

“Talk about a miraculous recovery!”  Tsumugi exclaimed tearfully.  “That was one heck of a Phoenix Down!”

“Gonta agrees!  She must have been very lucky indeed!”

Kiki smiled at the seemingly happy ending, which in turn caused the others to show small smiles as well.  She then turned the page and finished the tale.

“After their recovery, Makoto Naegi and Kyoko Kirigiri rebuilt Hope’s Peak Academy, with Byakuya Togami, Aoi Asahina, Toko Fukawa, Yasuhiro Hagakure, and Makoto’s sister Komaru Naegi joining as staff.  Later on, Headmaster Makoto Naegi married Vice-Headmistress Kyoko Kirigiri, and over the years they raised a happy family together.  THE END.”

“Well, it appears I was correct.”  Snake concluded, an impressed smile on his face as Clover rolled her eyes.

“Well, talk about a fairy tale ending.”  Lotus commented.  “But here’s a question…how do we know any of this is even real?”

“That’s r-right!”  Teruaki stammered.  “For all we know, Monokuma could have just made that u-up to give us false in-information!”

“False information?!”  Everyone turned with widened eyes to see Monokuma waddling up to them.  “My my, looks like you got your hands on a real classic!  In fact, that’s one of my favorites to reread!”

“So, you’re saying this really is fiction?”  Sokyu questioned as he narrowed his eyes suspiciously.  “That you made it all up?”

“Huh?  Fiction?  No, no, I assure you, everything in that trilogy is 100 percent true!  I just figured I’d leave that for you as an extra prize for working so hard in the last trial.  Why, I’ve never had one where the lead protagonist turned out to be the murderer!  SO EXTREME!  AHAHAHAHAHAHAA!”

“Do you have proof?”


Monokuma turned to Snake who prodded “Do you have proof that these events happened?”

“Puhuhuhu!  You blind-as-a-bat nitwit!  All the proof is in those texts I gave you, and you want even more?!  There’s no way I’d give you all the answers this early!”


Monokuma cut off Clover’s objection, telling them “I gave you equal access to information.  Do whatever you want with it.  Investigate to your hearts’ content!  Ahahahahaha!”

With that, Monokuma waddled out of the dining hall, leaving the survivors stunned silent.  “So…what do we make of this?”  Kiki asked hesitantly.  “I mean…I don’t wanna take his words for granted, but something about it seems…a little too weird to be just a work of fiction.”

“You’re just thinking too hard about it, Kiki!”  Clover refuted.  “I mean…there’s no proof any of this happened.  I mean, the world basically ending?!  Two teenagers spreading despair around the world?!  It’s totally ridiculous!”

“It does seem far-fetched…”  Kirumi reluctantly admitted.  “It defies belief, and I don’t have any recollection of any of these events happening.”

“Well, the third book implies that these events happened years ago, so it might have been before most of you were even born.”  Seven commented before Lotus shook her head.

“Still, considering how monumental these events were, one would think they would be taught in school.”

“Hey, Shuichi!”  Startled, Shuichi turned to Sokyu, who questioned, “You’re a detective.  Surely you’d know all about something like this if it actually happened, right?”

Shuichi grimaced, closing his eyes as he searched his memories.  At last, he shook his head and opened his eyes.

“Sorry, I’ve never heard of something like this.”

“Plus, I’ve never heard of this Tragedy before.”  Ace commented.

“I see…”  Kirumi mused “It seems losing him made a far bigger impact than we expected.”

“Him?”  Sokyu questioned.

“Rantaro…”  Kirumi clarified.  “He seemed to know more than he let on.”

Kiki’s eyes widened as she flashed back to the day when Rantaro dissuaded Ryoma from offering his life to satisfy Monokuma.  This might sound a little weird, but…Does the term the Tragedy ring a bell for anyone?

“Oh, I do sorta remember his saying something like that.”  Clover replied.

“Hmmm…”  Sokyu hummed.  “Our mild-mannered mystery man said that, huh?”

“But then…why did only Rantaro remember the Tragedy?”  Shuichi pointed out.

“There is no point di-discussing that now.”  Teruaki objected.  “After all, he’s already d-dead.”

Kiki grimaced as the others reluctantly nodded, unsure of whether to believe or not believe the story that Monokuma left them.  What’s the truth?  Did these events happen?  Are we really in a post-Tragedy world?  Or is it all fake to mess with our heads?

“We just gotta work together.”  Everyone turned towards Seven, who clenched his fists and narrowed his eyes in determination.  “If we cooperate, we’ll make it out of here alive.  Just like a certain someone said.”

…Kaede…  Kiki and Shuichi thought.

That’s right…I still have to keep my promises to her.  I can worry about whether these alleged events happened another time.

“Regardless of whether these events happened or not, I believe cooperating with each other is the most logical course of action.” Keebo concurred.  “We all have to survive.”

“Are you sure about that?”

“Huh?!”  Kiki gasped as she and the others turned to Ryoma.  “W-What do you mean?”  She sputtered, staring in shock at the former tennis player.  “Of course we all have to survive.  We…we promised Kaede that we would-”

“Isn’t that a little bit idealistic?”


Struck silent, Kiki could only listen as Ryoma continued, “Don’t get me wrong.  It’d be nice if we could all make it out alive, but we already tried that before Kaede killed Rantaro.”  Shuichi averted his gaze, the bill of his hat covering his lowered eyes.  “I hope the rest of you make it out of this, really.  But me…I don’t have a reason to make it out alive like you do.”  The others could only watch as Ryoma turned his back.  “I don’t plan to survive till the end.”

“Ryoma…”  That was all Kiki and Shuichi could say as they watched Ryoma walk out of the dining hall.

“He doesn’t plan to survive?”  Gonta’s brow furrowed in confusion.  “What does that mean?”

“He has mentioned that before…”  Kirumi recalled.  “That he has no reason to live.”

“He doesn’t have a reason to live?”  Clover pondered.

“Poor Ryoma…”  Tsumugi muttered sadly.  “It seems he’s got a more tragic past than we could even begin to imagine…”

“Perhaps, but he shouldn’t be saying such cowardly things.”  Ace muttered.

“Perhaps we should relax over a meal?”  Kirumi suggested, causing the others to turn to her in surprise.  “Everyone, could you please tell me your favorite foods and beverages?”

“Huh?!”  Clover exclaimed “You’re going to whip something up?!  Kirumi, are you, like, the perfect mom?!”

“Perfect mom or not, is it really right to lean so heavily on her like that?”  Kiki reluctantly pointed out.  I love her food just as much as the next person, but she just cooked a perfect breakfast for us!  Isn’t it a little much to ask her to cook lunch for us too?!

“Please, do not worry, Kiki.”  Kirumi assured her.  “I have no qualms about helping everyone to relax.  It is, after all, one of a maid’s many responsibilities.”

“Well…”  Kiki sighed, defeated.  “Alright, let’s do it.”

Kirumi smiled contently.  “Very well, then.  Let’s go in a circle so I can take orders.”

“Well, I don’t blame them for being skeptical about that.”  Makoto lamented.

“Indeed.”  Kyoko concurred.  “Even though Monokuma was being truthful, both in our case and in theirs, both times we and they couldn’t believe it.”

“But it all happened.”  Maki nodded.  “The three of us lived through that dark time.”

“So…”  Koto wondered before his sister finished his question.

“What happens now?”

“They need more proof before they can seriously believe it.”  Mokubo answered.

“Yeah, though it would have made things easier if Rantaro hadn’t been so mysterious.”  Makoto lamented.

“Indeed…”  Kyoko concurred before her brow furrowed.  “Come to think of it, why would Rantaro have known more about the Tragedy than the rest of them?  It doesn’t make any sense…”

“Kyoko…what are you thinking…?”

The former detective shook her head.  “I don’t know yet.  It’s clear that he wasn’t the mastermind, but I don’t know what his hidden knowledge indicates.  We need more information.”

Makoto nodded as they watched the present survivors eat Kirumi’s cooking, pondering the mystery in front of them.

Rantaro Amami…what role did you play in this killing game?

Chapter Text

Kiki stared up at the ceiling, kicking her feet absentmindedly as she laid on her bed.  Her lips tugged into a frown, the girl trying to process the stories she and Shuichi found.

“I don’t even know what to believe anymore.  I mean…the world ending by the hands of two high school girls?  Multiple killing games before the world finally got back on its feet?  I don’t blame the others for dismissing it as utter garbage.  That’d be the easiest answer…but was Monokuma really lying when he said they weren’t fiction?  And the name of that Makoto kid…Naegi…why was I so drawn to it?”

Kiki’s brow furrowed in confusion as the girl remained perplexed by the mysteries that were added on top of the stress of preventing another killing.  She gritted her teeth, feeling a faint throbbing in her forehead.  Shaking her headache away, she sat up and clapped her hands.

“No use getting all worked up about something I can’t prove or disprove.  I’ve gotta get moving and actually do something.  But what to…”

Her thoughts drifted to the detective who greeted her that morning.  Despite his best efforts, Kiki knew that he struggling to pick up the pieces of his shattered resolve.

“Shuichi…you’re still hurting…”  Her eyes narrowed in determination, she swung her legs over the bed and got to her feet.  “I can’t just leave you like that…besides, even if we weren’t friends, I promised Kaede before she died that I would help you to grow.  And I never go back on my word!”

Clenching her fists, she walked over to the door.  Closing it behind her, she roamed the halls in search of her closest friend.

“I knew those two would be good partners for each other!”  Makoto smiled along with his wife.

“Indeed.  Just as Shuichi stood by her in her darkest hour, so too has she decided to stand by him.”

“Yeah, they’re totally perfect for each other!”  Koto beamed as his sister nodded in agreement.

“Why they didn’t just confess during high school is beyond me.”

“…Especially since he was the only boy she brought to the house that you didn’t subtly threaten…”  Mokubo muttered under his breath.

“It looks like she found him.”  Maki pointed out as they watched Kiki step into the newly unlocked greenhouse.


Startled, the detective turned to the bubbly girl standing behind him.  She waved, beaming at him.

“Ah, Kiki…what’re you doing here?”

“Oh, I was just looking for you.”

Shuichi’s cheeks flushed rose.  “Looking…for me…?”

Kiki nodded sweetly.  “Yeah, I just…wanted to make sure you weren’t all alone, was all.”

“Kiki…were you…worried about me…?”

“Well, yeah.  I mean…”  Kiki bit her lip as the memory of Kaede’s execution flashed in her mind.  “…I just…wanted to be sure you were doing okay, Shuichi.”

Shuichi gasped in awe, a smile tugging at his lips.  “I…appreciate that.”  Though his hat shielded his eyes, she noticed his gaze didn’t linger on her long, instead opting to focus on the nearby dirt trail.  “Ah, since we’re here…why don’t we take a walk?”

“Oh, that sounds like a great idea!”  Kiki beamed excitedly.  “And we could look at the beautiful flowers that grow here!”

Shuichi chuckled in amusement.  “Sure, let’s go, shall we?”

Free Time Event #5: Kiki & Shuichi!

“Oh, and what’s that one?”  Kiki asked as they walked past a grove of orange, multi-petaled flowers.

“Ah, those are marigolds.”  Shuichi explained.  “They’re fairly easy to grow, so if you want to plant some flowers, those are probably good for beginning gardeners.  They bloom best in full sunlight, but they can also tolerate growing in the shade too…”  Shuichi bit his lip as he lowered his head.  “…Kaede…liked marigolds…”

Kiki frowned, kicking herself.  Drat, I wanted to cheer Shuichi up, but asking about the flowers just ended up making him feel worse!  I gotta change the subject, but how?  Her eyes suddenly flashed in realization.  Wait, I got it!  “You sure know a lot about flowers, huh, Shuichi?”

The detective flushed in embarrassment from the praise.  “Ah, well, knowing about plants can be useful.  I wouldn’t advocate botanical treatments as a replacement for modern medicine, but it’s useful to know how plants can be used to treat wounds and ailments in a pinch.  Of course, some plants can be used for malicious reasons too, but that knowledge can be useful for catching a culprit too.  I don’t specialize in solving murders or accidental deaths, mind you, but I still think it’s useful to know, just in case.”

Kiki nodded understandingly.  “And…could any of the plants here be used to cure ailments or treat injuries?”

Shuichi took a quick look around and nodded.  “Not by themselves, but if you knew how to mix them together, you could.”

“Ah, that’ll be useful!”  Kiki exclaimed.  “We don’t have access to any kind of hospital, so being able to improvise like this will definitely be helpful.”

Shuichi smiled in amusement, chuckling and shaking his head.  “You have a knack for looking at the upside, don’t you, Kiki?”

“Well…if I always think about the bad things that are going on…our imprisonment, my missing memory, all that stuff…then I’m gonna be pretty miserable.  So, it’s better if I try to look on the bright side, right?”

“I…guess so…”  Shuichi’s brow furrowed as he remarked, “Still, I don’t know if these kinds of flowers will be useful for medical treatments.  All they’ll do is look pretty.”

“Hmm…I guess you’re right…”  Kiki’s eyes flashed with an epiphany as she tugged Shuichi by the wrist.  “Come on, we’re gonna make flower crowns!”

“F-flower crowns…?”

“Yeah, it’ll be fun!”  Shuichi sweatdropped as she dragged him between two groves of marigolds and buttercups.  “Please?”

Kiki batted her eyelashes, causing Shuichi to cave.  “Ah, alright, but let me pick the flowers.  I can determine which ones are simply pretty and which ones might have valid medical uses that we might want to conserve.”

Kiki nodded in agreement.  “Sure, that sounds like a good idea.  I’ll just sit right here and wait for you.”

Shuichi nodded as Kiki sat down.  Once he turned and walked away, Kiki passed the time by imagining what Shuichi would look like with his hat removed and flowers decorating his head.

That looks so silly, but also cute at the same time!  Kiki giggled before his gentle footsteps crinkled the grass.

Once her giggles subsided, she looked up and saw him smiling in amusement at her.  A small bouquet of multiple varieties of flowers were gently secured in his hand.

“Okay, I got some marigolds, buttercups, carnations, daisies, and geraniums.”

“Wow, those look pretty!”  Kiki breathed in awe as he sat down in front of her.

“Thanks, so…you want to start?”

Kiki nodded as she took some of the flowers from Shuichi’s hand.  He watched as she hummed and began tying the stems together.  The normally observant detective paid no attention to the passage of time, seemingly entranced by her meticulous crafting.

“You’re…really good at this.”  Shuichi complimented.  “Have you made flower crowns before?”

“I…I guess I must have at some point.  Maybe I did this with my parents?”  Kiki guessed as she tied the last of the stems together.  “And done!  Here’s your flower crown.”

“Oh…thank you…”  Shuichi muttered gratefully as he accepted the flower crown, inspecting it from every angle.

Kiki giggled.  “Well don’t just look at it!  Take off your hat so I can see you put it on!”

“Oh…okay…but just for a minute, okay?”

Kiki grinned, staring attentively at the detective.  He slowly reached up and removed his hat, exposing his dark blue hair and ahoge.

So that’s what you look like under that hat…  Kiki realized as Shuichi put the flower crown atop his head, his ahoge standing in the middle of the ring like a flagpole.

“Ah…how do I look?”  Shuichi asked nervously, causing her to smile and nod approvingly.

“I think you look adorable with that flower crown on your head.”  Shuichi’s cheeks reddened, causing her to giggle.  Once her giggles died down, she commented “Oh, but it looks a little crooked.  Here, let me.”

“Ah, you don’t need to…”

Seeing his halfhearted protest ignored, Shuichi trailed off.  His blush darkened as he saw Kiki gently adjust the flower crown, biting her lower lip as she tried to get the placement just right.

“There, all done.”  She nodded, smiling approvingly.

“Ah, thank you…”

The detective averted his gaze, obviously embarrassed by the interaction, though he didn’t complain about it either.  An awkward silence passed between the two before Kiki’s brow furrowed in curiosity.



Kiki’s eyes glanced towards Shuichi’s hat, which sat on the grass below them.  “I was just wondering…why do you still wear your hat…?  N-not that there’s anything wrong with it, it’s just…”

“…It’s okay, I get what you’re trying to say.”  Shuichi smiled sadly for a moment, though it soon melted into a melancholy frown.  “I know that Kaede said I’d look cooler without my hat.  But…yesterday made me realize something.  I…I haven’t met her expectations yet.  I wasn’t nearly assertive enough; I was still afraid of the truth, same as I’ve always been.  You had to step up and slap some sense into me.”

“Shuichi…”  Kiki rested her hand over Shuichi’s knuckles.  “You don’t need to feel ashamed about that.  I didn’t want to do it either…”

“But you still did it.  Kaede was right, Kiki.  You’re the center of our group, our moral compass.  You knew what had to be done and found the strength to do it.  I’m…kind of jealous of you, Kiki.”

“J-jealous?!”  Kiki’s eyes widened in shock as Shuichi nodded.

“Yeah, I still have a ways to go, as Ryoma would say.  And that’s why…I can’t shed this hat yet.  I don’t want to hide from the truth anymore…but I can’t rightfully shed this hat in public…until I can look at myself in the mirror…look at Kaede’s spirit in the eye…and say that I’m truly not afraid of assertively searching for the truth.”

“Shuichi…”  Kiki smiled and squeezed his hand in assurance.  “I understand.  Go at your own pace, and when you’re ready to toss that hat away and look people in the eye…I’ll be proud of you, Shuichi.  I know Kaede will be proud to see that day too, wherever she is.”

Shuichi laughed, his mirth warming Kiki’s heart.  “Thanks.  I’ll make you both proud to call me a detective one day, I promise.”  Once Kiki removed her hand from his, he put the rest of the flowers down and began to tie two of the stems together.  “Okay, let’s make one for you, too.  I’ve never done this before, but I’ll do my best.”

“I look forward to seeing the flower crown you make me.”  Kiki giggled as she watched Shuichi focus intensely on his handiwork.  Well, at least I managed to cheer up Shuichi a little bit.  And I understand now why he refuses to ditch his hat.  In fact, I feel like I understand Shuichi a lot better than before!

“I’m not sure I understand…”  Koto admitted, his twin sister nodding in agreement.

“Yeah, he really does look cuter without that hat obscuring his eyes.”

“It’s like me and my gloves.”  Kyoko glanced down at her bare, scarred hands.  “I may not have needed to wear them after your father and I got engaged, but I wasn’t ready to shed them completely for some time afterwards.”

Makoto nodded, smiling at the memory.  “Thankfully, Kiki understood that he wasn’t ready yet and didn’t push him.”

Mokubo nodded.  “It looks like they’re rekindling their strong friendship for each other, even if their romantic attraction is non-existent at this point.”

Their elder brother’s words caused Koto and Kiri to pout and cross their arms over their chests.  “No fair…”  The boy grumbled.

“Why can’t they just smooch already?!”  Kiri whined, causing the adults to sweatdrop.

“I think you two have been watching too much TV lately.”  Maki stated, causing the twins to whine.

“She’s right, you two.”  Makoto concurred.  “Plus, it’s right around dinner time.  Even Kiki’s heading to have dinner.”

Kyoko nodded as they watched their daughter enter the dining hall with Shuichi.  “Maki, could you help Makoto make dinner for them?”

Maki nodded as Makoto stood up.  “Come on, you three, let’s go sit at the table.”

Koto and Kiri groaned in disappointment while they stood up with their brother.  “I’ll bring out a plate for you.”  Maki told the former detective, causing her to nod in appreciation.

With only minor grumblings, Makoto nudged his children towards the kitchen.  With Maki following the four of them, Kyoko was left alone to keep tabs on her daughter.

“I want every order of flower deliveries within the past year on my desk ASAP!”  The detective demanded as they slammed their hands on the table.  “Records of deliveries large enough to fill dedicated greenhouses.  Especially ones that have fishy addresses!  Do you understand?!”

“Yes, detective!”

The detective sighed as they left the meeting room, feeling hopeful now that they had an extra clue.  “If we can follow these deliveries…then we’ll be able to narrow down a location for the killing game!  And then…we can go rescue those hostages!”

*Ding Dong Bing Bong*

“It is now 10 p.m.  It is officially nighttime.  Soon the doors to the dining hall will be locked, and entry at that point is strictly prohibited.  Okay then, sweet dreams, everyone.  Good night, sleep tight.  Don’t let the bed bugs biiiite!”

As Monokuma’s evening announcement played in her ears, Kiki sighed and shook her head.  “That nighttime announcement is still creepy as ever.  Well, I’d better get some sleep so we can tackle whatever Monokuma has planned for us tomorrow.”

With a yawn, Kiki curled under the covers and laid her head on the pillow.  Curling up, she closed her eyes and let her drowsiness overtake her.

…I don’t know what to do.  We just got past the class trial yesterday, and despite my best efforts, some of us are suspicious of each other.  Those weird books Monokuma left in the classrooms didn’t help things; they just left us even more confused.  At this point, I don’t even know what to believe as truth or dismiss as fiction.  Kaede…I’m not the leader you are.  I’m doing my best to lead everyone and help Shuichi, but I’m just a normal girl!  How do I keep everyone united?  How can I stop Monokuma from picking us off, one by one?!  I just…I don’t know…

“Kiki…”  Makoto muttered as he watched a single tear trickle down her cheek.

“Keeping them united, staving off Monokuma’s future motives, making sense of Monokuma’s clues…”  Kyoko sighed as she stared sympathetically at her daughter’s image on the TV.  “Nobody should have to shoulder a burden like that.”

“…She’ll be fine, though…right?”  Koto asked hesitantly.

“Of course she will!”  Kiri emphatically declared.  “Kiki’s gonna keep them united and take down the mastermind.”

“That…might be a little much to ask of her.”  Mokubo pointed out.  “They barely have any information, they don’t have a way out, and they only have two floors to explore.”

Maki nodded in agreement.  “They need more if they’re going to have any chance of escaping.”

“That’s going to have to wait until tomorrow, though.”  Makoto sighed before he glanced at his children.  “Speaking of which, it’s time for bed, you three.”

Kyoko nodded before she glanced at the former assassin.  “Maki, will you…?”

“On it…”  She muttered, standing up.  “Let’s go, you three.  Time to brush your teeth and then bed.”

The three Naegi children obediently followed their babysitter.  Once they were out of the room, Makoto sighed.  “Well, that’s one more day come and gone.”

“Indeed, which means it’s time for…”

As if on cue, Monokuma appeared on a makeshift stage.  Makoto and Kyoko listened halfheartedly as the bear began his stand-up comedy.

“College entrance exams are a big milestone, on par with finding a job or getting married.  Are you examinees out there working hard!?  When studying, focus is the most important!  Boost your focus by throwing away all those comic books and video games!  Oh, but Killing Games are fine.  They’re specially made to improve your focus.” 

“And burn those pictures of your girlfriend!  You don’t have time to indulge in good memories!  But make sure you don’t burn your actual girlfriend, cuz you’ll go to prison for that!  Prison might help you focus, but then you wouldn’t be able to go to your exams!  If you can’t focus at all, it’s also good to confine yourself somewhere and study!  I recommend confining yourself in an enemy’s base!  The thrill of studying in a place where you might get caught does wonders for your focus!” 

“Oh, and I also recommend studying in a disaster zone.  The thrill of studying in a place where you could actually die does wonders for your focus.  Oh, and I also recommend studying in the middle of your exams.  The thrill of knowing it’s too late to get any studying done does wonders for your focus.  With my advice, you’ll beat the competition!  So get out there and do your best!”

Makoto gritted his teeth in anger as the screen faded to black.  “Like he has any right to give people advice for getting into college…”

Kyoko’s eyes lowered, guilt festering in her heart once more.  “…Kiki was so excited to get accepted to college…I remember the bright smile on her face when she found out that she and Shuichi were going to college together…“

“Kyoko…”  Makoto wrapped a comforting arm around his wife, causing her to lean into his shoulder.  “Honey, we didn’t know that was a trap.  Whoever masterminded this killing game made fools out of all of us.  We didn’t expect another one of these insane killings would pop up, especially years after we averted a second Tragedy.”

Kyoko nodded before she removed herself from her husband’s embrace and stood up.  “Let’s go to bed…I need to get some sleep.  We both do.”

Makoto frowned but nodded and stood up.  He bit his lip as he followed his wife to their bed, both of them inadvertently thinking the same thing with each heavy footstep.

Kiki…can you ever forgive us for not protecting you from this nightmare?

Chapter Text

Kiki groaned, her eyes fluttering open.  She rubbed the sleep out of her eyes, yawning as she struggled to regain her lucidity.

“I was so concerned about everyone not getting along after what happened two days ago…I kept tossing and turning.”  Kiki mumbled, swinging her legs over the side of the bed. 

She shook the remaining drowsiness from her mind as her vision cleared.  Despite how heavy her eyelids felt and how dry her throat was, she knew she couldn’t just go back to sleep. 

“If only there was a way for us to reinforce our bonds of friendship together…then we’d be able to withstand whatever motive Monokuma has planned for us together.”  But…what could I possibly come up with?  Kaede and Shuichi came up with all the good ideas.  I just followed their lead and did what I was told.  There’s no way I can do any of the stuff they could…

Kiki sighed, feeling her negative thoughts overwhelm her.  Despite her attempts to stay positive, she just couldn’t find an upside to balance out the threat looming over their heads.

“If only Kaede were still here with us.  She’d be able to find a way to get us all to bond.  There’s no way she’d let lack of sleep…”  Kiki paused, her eyes widening in realization.  “Wait…sleep…sleep…that’s it!”

Kiki’s lips tugged into a grin as her eyes flared with hope.  She bolted to her feet and ran to her closet, ripping the doors open and sifting through her clothes in a hurry.

“First thing’s first.  I’ve gotta get dressed and head to the dining hall for breakfast!  Then I can tell them my awesome idea!”  Kiki clenched her right fist as she pulled out her clothes with her left hand.  “It’ll work!  I know it will!”

“A slumber party?”  Shuichi asked after he swallowed the bite of his breakfast.

Kiki nodded at everyone’s curious stares.  “Yeah, I figured we could all use something to settle our nerves.  Plus, nighttime is when we’re all on edge.  So, I figured, why not a slumber party?  It’s the perfect setting to strengthen our friendships with each other, and with everyone in the same room, we can also ensure our safety.”

“I see…”  Ace mused.  “It creates the perfect setting to counteract Monokuma’s influence.”

Sokyu nodded cautiously.  “Perhaps, but that’s only a temporary remedy.  Once it ends, we’ll be vulnerable to Monokuma’s attempts to sow discord.”

“Y-yeah!”  Teruaki stammered suspiciously.  Plus, you’d just u-use what you learned a-about me to ki-kill me!”

“Gonta would never do that!  Gentlemen would never use a slumber party for such malice!”

Snake sighed and shook his head.  “Honestly, can’t you show even the slightest bit of optimism?”

“Yeah!”  Clover slammed her hands on the table, clearly cross with Teruaki.  “You should listen to my brother more!”

“Now, Clover, no need to get so worked up.”

As the redheaded girl pouted, Shuichi spoke up.  “Ah, it would be a good way to relax for a night and actually enjoy ourselves.”

“Good point, Shuichi.”  Keebo smiled.  “I say we do it.  This can only strengthen our hand against Monokuma.”

Seven nodded “Sure, I’m game.  But where should we do it?”

“We should split it up into two rooms.”  As everyone turned to Lotus, she explained “Some of us might not be comfortable sleeping with the opposite sex.  I for one don’t wanna sleep anywhere near the elephant man.”

Seven scoffed “Like I wanna be anywhere near the exhibitionist grandma.”

“I am not an exhibitionist!  I’m wearing clothes!”

“Yeah, barely.”

Before a fight could break out, Ryoma interrupted “So, we’re splitting between boys and girls, right?”  As the others nodded, he concluded “That means Shuichi, I, Snake, Sokyu, Teruaki, Ace, Gonta, Keebo, and Seven will be in one room.”

“Meanwhile, Kiki, Clover, Tsumugi, Lotus, and I will be in the other.”  Kirumi finished.

Kiki nodded.  “Sure, I can work with that.  But which rooms should we choose?”

“None of our dorms will work; they’re only meant to house one person at a time.”  Shuichi commented.  “Maybe two in a pinch, but none of the groups are small enough to fit those parameters.”

“Plus the dining hall’s closed after nighttime.”  Ryoma pointed out.  “We can’t possibly have it in there, plus if we’re going to have food, we’ll need to prepare it before it closes and bring it to wherever we choose to have it.”

“I can prepare the necessary refreshments once we decide on the rooms.”  Kirumi volunteered.

“Gonta…thinks the Greenhouse might be a good idea for one of them.”  Gonta smiled nostalgically as if he was reliving a happier time.  “It could be like camping.”

“Hey, good idea, Gonta!”  Seven laughed.

“A more natural setting could take away from the claustrophobic mood of the rest of the building.”  Snake concurred.

“Then it’s decided?”  Ace inquired before Keebo nodded.

“Agreed.  The boys will take the greenhouse.”

“That’s all well and good, but what about the girls?”  Lotus asked expectantly.

“Well…”  Clover hummed, cocking her head in contemplation.  “Oh, what about the pool?  We could turn it into a pool party!”

“That could work.”  Tsumugi smiled.  “I think I remember seeing some bikinis in the warehouse.”

“I’m down with that.”  Kiki agreed.  “A pool party sounds fun.  We just need to grab some sleeping bags too.”

“I can grab those from the warehouse!”  Clover volunteered.

“Ah, then perhaps I will join you.”  Snake suggested.  “I think I remember that we found some board games there when we first arrived.  I can bring some to the greenhouse for our slumber party.”

“I have a number of music tracks saved in my databanks, so I can use my speaker function to play party music.”  Keebo grinned proudly.

“Okay then, it’s settled.  The boys will sleep in the Greenhouse, and the girls will sleep in the pool.”  Kiki summarized.

“Let’s just take care not to be in the actual pool once nighttime happens.”  Kirumi cautioned, causing the girls to shudder at the reminder of the piranhas hanging over their heads.

“I’ll set an alarm on my e-Handbook so that doesn’t happen.”  Tsumugi promised, relieving the other girls.

“Alright then, looks like we have ourselves a pool party.”  Kiki smiled as her eyes sparkled.  “I’m really looking forward to this!”

Even Teruaki and Sokyu didn’t outright object, merely keeping silent as the now chattery group resumed their breakfast.  A new energy seemed to materialize within the group as they continued to plan preparations for their respective parties.

At last!  We’re finally coming together and uniting!  Kiki grinned as she took a bite of her onigiri.  Take that, Monokuma!

“A…slumber party…?”  Koto and Kiri asked, befuddled by their sister’s plan.

“That’s…certainly a unique plan to avoid more killings…”  Maki muttered as the two parents smiled.

“Indeed.”  Kyoko glanced knowingly at her husband.  “Her plan proves that she’s your daughter.”

Makoto chuckled, scratching his cheek.  “Well, it just might work.”

“…Assuming that Monokuma doesn’t come up with any more motives that counteract her efforts.”

Mokubo’s point sobered their optimistic mood, reminding the two parents that no matter what any of the participants came up with, Monokuma always held an advantage on his turf.

“…Let’s…just see what happens.”  Makoto suggested as the others nodded in agreement.

“I hope this works…”  Kiki muttered as she sat on her bed, kicking her legs absentmindedly.  “At least everyone’s helping to make sure this goes off without a hitch.” 

Kiki leapt off her bed and clenched her fist.  Determination swelled within her heart, growing with each step she took towards her door.

“And since everyone’s working so hard, I can’t just sit in my room all day!  I have to see if I can help.  This was my idea; the least I should do is try to contribute to setting it up!”

“Let’s see…”  Kiki muttered as she stepped into the warehouse.  “I think a few of them said that they were gonna grab some things in the warehouse.  Maybe I should…oh, Snake!  Clover!”

“Hm?”  Snake turned curiously towards the excited young girl as she jogged over to them.  “Well, if it isn’t Kiki.”

“Hey, Kiki!”  Clover waved cheerfully.  “What are you doing here?”

“Oh, just seeing what I can do to help with preparations.”  Kiki glanced around the expansive warehouse.  “I remembered several people said during breakfast that they needed to grab some things at the warehouse, so I figured I’d see if they needed help.”

“Ah, how generous of you.”  Snake smiled in amusement at Kiki’s earnest desire to assist.  “Well, I’m just carrying this stack of board games to my room until it’s time for our party at the greenhouse.  Clover here was just trying to pick out swimwear for the girls.”

Snake gestured towards the pink-haired girl, who was holding several neatly folded sets of bikinis in her arms.  “Yeah, though it’s a little hard since I don’t know what everyone likes.  So I’ve just been trying to get what matches their regular clothes.”

“Ah, good idea!”  Kiki complimented.  Though I kinda wish I had thought to poll the girls for preferred colors during breakfast…oh well.

“Oh, since we’re here, why don’t we try on these swimsuits I got in the locker room while Snake gets the board games ready?”

“Oh…okay…”  Kiki muttered, suddenly feeling embarrassed about being in a bikini with a girl she barely knew.  “But what about Snake?  Will he need your help with the games?”

Snake chuckled and assured her “Trust me, I’ll be okay.  I may be blind, but I can still navigate to my room on my own just fine.”

“Yeah!”  Clover vouched.  “My brother has really great hearing!  He’ll be fine on his own for a little while.”

“Oh, okay.”  Kiki smiled awkwardly.  “Alright, let’s go.”

With an excited squeal, Clover took Kiki’s hand and dragged her out of the warehouse.  Kiki yelped as Snake shook his head, chuckling in amusement as the amnesiac girl was practically dragged away.

Free Time Event #6: Kiki & Clover!

“…Well…how do I look…?”  Kiki muttered as she turned around, her cheeks flushed pink.

“Wow, Kiki, you look beautiful in that light pink bikini!”  Clover gushed, making Kiki’s cheeks turn even redder as she smiled.

“Thanks…I just…”  She glanced down at the piece of swimwear covering her body.  How did I get convinced to wear this?  Though she wouldn’t call if promiscuous, the top exposed a decent amount of cleavage, and the bottom exposed a good inch or so of skin between her belly button and her hips.  “I guess I’m just a…modest girl.”

Clover pouted and told her, “Nonsense; you have a great body!  You should really show it off more!”

Kiki giggled, shaking her head in amusement.  “Thanks, Clover.  You don’t look too bad in your swimsuit either!”

Clover’s pout intensified as Kiki eyed the pigtailed girl’s own red bikini.  It was certainly more modest than Kiki’s, as both parts of the swimsuit covered a lot more skin.

Is it too late to trade swimsuits?  Kiki wondered before Clover finally spoke.

“No way!  This makes me look more like a little kid.”  She stared enviously at the heterochromatic girl, making Kiki feel self-conscious again.  “I’m kinda jealous of you, Kiki.  You look so much more like a grown woman.  I’m sure the boys where you come from must drool over you.”

Kiki giggled, shaking her head in amusement.  “I don’t think I want that.  If I do end up with a guy, I want him to like who I am, not my sex appeal.”

“…Yeah, that makes sense, I guess.”  Clover sighed, sitting down on the bench.  “Still, it’d be nice to be admired as a woman once in a while.”

Kiki frowned and sat next to Clover, resting her hand on the pink-haired girl’s bare back.  “What do you mean?”

“…Well…”  Clover sighed.  “I’m sure you’ve noticed it by now…how close Snake and I are…”

Kiki hummed, biting her lip as she contemplated the question.  Let’s see…how close Clover and Snake are…  As she sifted through her memories of the past few days, her eyes suddenly widened.  “You two are two peas in a pod, right?  I don’t think I’ve ever seen you two apart before now.”

Clover nodded in confirmation.  “We sleep in separate rooms, but even before the danger of this killing game, I always followed him around like a lost puppy.  Not only does it get on my brother’s nerves sometimes, but more than once I’ve heard people call me a little kid in hushed whispers.  Everyone thinks I’m like a little girl, constantly hanging off my brother all the time…like I’m totally dependent on him…” 

“Clover…”  Kiki bit her lip, a sudden sense of familiarity swelling within her.  Why do I feel like…I can relate to Clover’s feelings so much…?

“I know we’re both grown up, but…I just…I love my brother.  He’s always been there for me when I needed him, and after his accident…”


“Oh, yeah.”  Clover’s eyes lowered in sad remembrance.  “Snake wasn’t always blind, but he lost his sight in a car accident.  Since then, I…I guess I…tried to compensate for not being able to help him by making sure I was always around if he needed me.  But I know he doesn’t need me that much.  He can get around fine on his own.  And me going overboard just makes me look like I’m less mature than I am.  Honestly, it’s no wonder people don’t see me as a woman…just a little girl who can’t do anything on her own…”

“Clover…”  Kiki smiled, wrapping an arm around the despondent girl.  “Cheer up.  Sure, maybe you could stand to step back a little and let Snake walk on his own two legs.  But I know deep down, he knows you’re only doing it out of love.  I bet if you asked him, he’d tell you how grateful he is that you want to do so much to support him.  I know that if I had any siblings, I’d love anything they did to support me, even if I got annoyed in the moment.”

“Kiki…”  Clover’s eyes sparkled as her lips stretched into a joyful grin.  “Thanks, Kiki!  You really know how to make a girl feel better, huh?”

Kiki giggled.  “Aw, it was nothing.  Alright, what do you say we get dressed and fold these swimsuits so they’re ready for the others?”

Clover nodded before they stood up and went to their respective lockers.  Kiki smiled at Clover from over her shoulder as she pulled out her shirt and skirt.

Clover…I’m glad I got to cheer you up.  Plus…I really feel like I understand you a little better.  I hope we can become good friends once we get out of here!

“Now that you mention it…Kiki’s always worn one-piece swimsuits whenever we’ve gone to the beach.”  Koto recalled.

Kiri nodded.  “She’s always been shy about showing skin.  Clover’s right though; she should shake it up a little more.  She’s super cute in anything she wears!”

Makoto and Kyoko giggled at the conversation playing out in front of them before their eldest son frowned.  “What’s wrong, Moku?”  Makoto prodded worriedly as his eldest son’s shoulders slumped.

“…I got on Nee-chan’s nerves, didn’t I?  Back when I was a little kid and I clung to her all the time before I had therapy with Aunt Komaru and Uncle Hajime.”

“I’m surprised you remember that.”  Maki muttered.  “You were, what, three?”

As Mokubo nodded, Makoto comforted him.  “Son, you didn’t know any better.  That’s why we asked your Uncle Hajime to give you therapy, to help you cope more easily.”

“Indeed.”  Kyoko smiled at him.  “You don’t need to kick yourself for something that happened nearly a decade ago.  Besides, we all know that it was out of love, so it’s not something to be ashamed of.  Am I wrong?”

After a poignant pause, Mokubo shook his head in resignation.

“Then listen to us, son.”  Makoto smiled at his eldest son.  “Don’t dwell on the past.”

“…Hai, Father.”

As the boy’s lips tugged into a small smile, Makoto replied “That’s my boy.”

“At least she was able to cheer Clover up.”  Kyoko changed the subject.  “Hopefully Kiki’s pep talk will help that girl to mature and become the woman she wants people to think she is.”

Makoto nodded in agreement as the family returned their gaze to the TV screen, wondering what Kiki was going to do with her remaining free time.

“Let’s see…what else can I do to help…?”  Kiki wandered aimlessly through the halls, pondering her next course of action.  “Oh, Kirumi said she was preparing refreshments for everyone.  Maybe I can help with that!”

Her course set, Kiki’s feet moved with a new sense of purpose.  At last, she arrived at the doors to the dining hall and opened them.

“Let’s see…”  She muttered as she walked inside.  “She should be either in the kitchen or the dining hall…”  Kiki trailed off as she saw the young maid placing a plate of dishes on one of the tables.  “Hey, Kirumi!”

“Hm?”  Kirumi turned her head, smiling as she saw Kiki waving and approaching the table.  “Ah, Kiki.  To what do I owe the pleasure? Are you hungry?  Is there anything you need from me?  Is there a specific refreshment you would like to eat during our slumber party?  Let me know and I will do my best to accommodate your request.”

Kiki sweatdropped, deadpanning Does every conversation need to include a request, Kirumi?  “Nothing like that.  I just…thought maybe you might want some help cooking for everyone.  It must be a tall order for just one person.”

“I see, how considerate of you.”  Kirumi shook her head.  “But it is no trouble for a trained maid.  As a matter of fact, I am actually ahead of schedule with the meal preparations.”

“Oh, I see…”  Kiki muttered with an impressed air.  She deserves to be called the Ultimate Maid if she’s that prepared before it’s even dinner time.

At that point, Kiki’s stomach growled, causing her to smile bashfully.  Kirumi smiled knowingly as she turned her head towards the kitchen.

“It seems your stomach has made its request known.  Come, why don’t you help me make some food for the two of us.  Truthfully, I’m slightly famished myself, and it would admittedly be nice to have a helping hand in the kitchen.”

“Sure!  I’ll do my best!”  Kiki cheered, causing Kirumi to giggle and shake her head in amusement.

“Very well, then.  Follow me and heed my instructions.” 

With that, Kiki followed the young maid into the kitchen.  I might be too late to help more with the party preparations, but at least I’ll help to make lunch for me and Kirumi!

Free Time Event #7: Kiki & Kirumi!

Kiki hummed in pleasure as she bit into her sandwich.  Her eyes sparkled with joy as she felt the succulent juices from the meat and tomato trickle down her throat.

“You’re such a good cook, Kirumi!  No wonder some of the others want you to be their mom!”

Kirumi smiled in amusement.  “You flatter me, Kiki, but don’t sell short the role you had in this too.  This sandwich is truly delicious, but only because you put your love and effort into crafting it when you assisted me.”

I can’t really agree, but it’d be silly to have an argument over a sandwich.  Kiki thought as she reluctantly accepted Kirumi’s praise.  “Thanks, Kirumi.  It was really fun getting to cook with you.”

“I agree.”  Kirumi nodded.  “I apologize that I couldn’t fulfill your request to assist me, but at least it led to this enjoyable experience of sharing my duties with another.”



Kiki bit her lip in hesitation before she asked, “…Why do you always ask for requests every time you talk with someone?”

Kirumi’s brow furrowed in confusion.  “I’m not sure I understand. My role as a maid is to selflessly devote myself to others, is it not?  How can I do that if I don’t ask others what they want?”

“…No, that’s not what I meant.”  Kiki shook her head before she clarified, “I mean…don’t you ever just want to, like, talk to someone?  Like, learn what their interests are, ask how their day is going, play a game with them?”

Kirumi nodded.  “Yes, but I fail to see how doing those things prohibits me from exercising my duties as a maid simultaneously.  Everything you brought up can be mentioned in the same conversation as taking a person’s requests.”

“Yeah, but…doesn’t that make people expect too much of you?”  Kiki pointed out.  “I mean…if you ask people what they want every time you talk to them, won’t they simply take advantage of your generosity and stop seeing you as a friend, or even as a person with wants and feelings?  Won’t they just expect things of you every time they talk to you?”

Kirumi pursed her lips as she considered Kiki’s words, resting a finger above her chin.  “I see…I did not consider that possibility. Could that be why Clover and Gonta asked me to be their mom?”

“Well…I don’t think they’ve reached quite that extreme yet.”  Kiki assured her.  “Still, if it continues, they might get to the point where they just stop wanting to do things themselves and ask you to do them.”

“I see…that has happened before, I will admit.”  Seeing Kiki’s curious stare, Kirumi elaborated “There was such a time when I had just started my career as a maid.  A businessman hired me.  I took care of his daily needs and gave him advice.  I even worked as his secretary at times.  When my master was busy, I would take his place giving orders to his employees.”

“Wow…you did all that?  Kirumi, you’re amazing!  Is there anything you can’t do?!”

Kirumi smiled in appreciation at Kiki’s energetic amazement.  “Though you might not realize it, there are a great many things I can’t do yet.  Anyway, eventually…my master became unable to do anything by himself.”

Kiki’s brow furrowed in confusion.  “What do you mean…?”

“I provided for him far too much.  I thought helping my master with any responsibility would benefit him…But he cried to me, saying he was unable to make any more decisions…”

Kirumi trailed off, biting her lip in remorse as Kiki frowned in sympathy.  “But that’s not your fault, Kirumi…They were just too reliant on you.”

“No, it was my fault.”  Kirumi shook her head.  “I only thought of my own actions and neglected my master’s feelings.”

“I…I see…”  Kiki reflected I never realized…how much Kirumi had to learn to get where she is today…we thought she was practically perfect, but she’s stumbled just like the rest of us.  “Well, it might not be a fond memory…but maybe it was a good experience for you.”  Kiki smiled reassuringly.  “Maybe it took making a mistake to adjust your approach to your job and become a maid that could realize your clients’ full potential.”

“…Perhaps…”  Kirumi nodded, her eyes narrowing intensely.  “I was able to re-evaluate myself as a maid.  My principle of selfless devotion stems from this experience.  But…maybe I need to re-evaluate myself once more, so I will not make that mistake again.” Kirumi smiled gratefully at the other girl.  “Thank you for taking the time to talk with me, Kiki.  I will…try to talk to people without taking requests in the future.”

“Oh…I was just happy to help.”  Kiki replied humbly as Kirumi stood up.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to finish preparing the rest of the meals for the slumber parties.  But first…”  Kirumi reached into her apron and pulled out a silver metal spatula.  “Here, accept this as a token of my gratitude.”

“A…spatula…?”  Kiki wondered as she took it.

“It was my mother’s.  She gave it to me when I first started my career as a maid, and I have treasured it ever since.  But I no longer have need of it.”

“B-But…”  Kiki sputtered, her eyes widening in shock.  “There’s no way I could accept something so precious to you!”

“I insist, Kiki.”  Kirumi smiled.  “Consider it my request to you.”

“Th-thank you…”  Kiki muttered gratefully.  “I promise I’ll take good care of it, Kirumi.”

“I know you will.  Now then…Shitsureishimasu.”

Kiki watched as Kirumi turned around and walked into the kitchen.  She looked down at the spatula in her hand, smiling appreciatively at the instrument.

Kirumi…I understand now just how hard you’ve worked to become a maid…and how much you’re still learning.  You’re really inspirational, Kirumi!  I’m glad I got to know you better, and I’m glad you consider me a friend.

“Indeed…Kirumi is quite dedicated to her craft.”  Kyoko mused with a nostalgic smile.

“Yeah, sometimes too dedicated.”  Makoto chuckled.  “It’s a good thing Kiki set her straight this time.”

“Still, I wouldn’t complain about getting free food from her.”  Kiri commented as her brother nodded in agreement.

“Yeah, her cookies are so good!”

“But she’s not their servant.”  Mokubo pointed out.  “She’s not obligated to do everything for the others, even if she’s good at it.”

The twins sighed in exasperation before Maki interjected “It looks like it’s almost time for their slumber party.  Let’s hope Kiki’s plan works.”

Chapter Text

Kiki stared up at the clock, impatiently watching the hands move little by little.  After she and Shuichi parted ways, she returned to her room and resigned herself to waiting for the party to begin.

Once the hands finally settled on the six o’clock formation, she exclaimed “Okay, it’s right around dinner time!”  She stood up and dusted off her skirt.  “Time to head down to the slumber party!”

Excitement pumping through her veins, she walked to her door.  Upon opening it, she quickly joined the crowd that seemed to form a parade to the fourth floor.

“So…guess this is where we part ways for the night.”

Shuichi nodded as he smiled at Kiki.  The group of students stood at the base of the 4th floor staircase; all of the boys stood behind him, while all of the girls, save Kirumi who was still preparing food for everyone in the kitchen, stood behind Kiki.

“Yeah, we’ll head to the greenhouse and set up camp.”

“And I’ll take the girls over to the swimming pool for our pool party.”  Kiki took a deep breath and smiled warmly at the detective. “Well…good night, Shuichi.”

“Yeah, good night, Kiki.”

Once Shuichi and the rest of the boys disappeared from view, Kiki sighed and turned to the girls.  “Alright, let’s head over to the pool.”

“Well…let’s hope Kiki’s plan works…”  Kyoko prayed as her eldest son nodded in agreement.

“Hopefully, whatever bonds they forge will be enough to to counter Monokuma’s tactics.”

“I know they will!”  Koto cheered as they watched Kiki walk into the swimming pool area in her swimsuit.

Kiri nodded, a small smile gracing her lips.  “Yeah, it’ll work, I just know it, right Dad?”

Makoto smiled nervously, replying “Let’s hope so…”  Despite his best efforts to hide it, his children frowned at his unsure tone.

“We’re going to find out soon enough, anyway.”  Maki commented as they watched the girls mingle and chat absentmindedly with each other.

“Pardon me…”

Everyone turned to see Kirumi enter the pool area.  The young maid was balancing one silver tray in each hand, carrying several plates and bowls.

“Kirumi, you didn’t have to carry all those by yourself!”  Kiki fretted, rushing over and taking one of the trays.  “One of us could have stayed behind and helped you carry everyone’s food.”

Kirumi smiled appreciatively and shook her head.  “That’s not necessary; I was happy to prepare and transport everyone’s food.”

Kiki sweatdropped before she sighed in defeat.  “At least tell me you didn’t carry the boys’ food all by yourself.”

“Well, that was the plan, but Gonta met me at the stairwell and insisted that he take the boys’ food to the greenhouse.”  Kirumi’s cheeks flushed pink as she mused, “He truly does play the role of a gentleman well.”

“Oh, I see…”  Both girls turned towards Clover, who smirked teasingly and walked up to them. 

“And what do you see…?”  A reluctant Kirumi asked, feeling Clover’s teasing elbow jabs into her side.

“You’ve got a thing for Gonta, don’t you?”

Willing her blush away, Kirumi denied “I do not know what you’re talking about.  I was merely appreciative that he offered to help, nothing more.”

“Sure, sure.”  The unconvinced Clover gave an exaggerated shrug before asking, “Anyway, can we eat now?  I’m starving!”

“I have to agree with Clover.”  Tsumugi admitted.  “If I don’t eat soon, my hunger meter will deplete, and it won’t be long before my HP goes with it!”

“Especially since we skipped dinner.”  Lotus pointed out.  “Let’s hurry up and eat before dinner gets cold.”

“Very well.”  Kirumi turned towards Kiki.  “Kiki, can you help me bring these trays over to the bleachers over there?  They should suffice as a makeshift table.”

“Sure.”  Kiki nodded as they walked over to the nearest bleachers. 

Tsumugi, Clover, and Lotus followed closely behind them as the other two girls set the trays down on the metal surface.  Kirumi then turned to address the other girls, who were practically salivating at the sight.

“Each dish is labeled with a corresponding post-it note with the owner’s first name or preferred codename.  Simply take your dish and enjoy your meal.  I hope that everyone’s food is to their…”

“Hey, that’s mine!”  Clover exclaimed as she, Tsumugi, and Lotus fought over the food.  “Yours is over there, Lotus.”

“Then don’t get in the way of my food!”

“Ano…can I please just get my dinner?”  Tsumugi asked timidly.

“…satisfaction.”  Kirumi finished.

She and Kiki sweatdropped, watching the other girls fight over their dinner.  The amnesiac girl smiled in amusement and turned to the maid. 

“Well…I guess you can hardly blame them.  Your food never fails to disappoint, Kirumi…but we should probably get them to settle down so we can distribute food in an orderly manner.”

“…I agree.” 

Kirumi nodded.  She and Kiki swiftly moved to break up the argument before it turned into roughhousing.

The five girls sat on the bleachers as they finished the last of their dinner.  “Mm, I was right, Kirumi!  Your food is almost heavenly!”  Kiki gushed as her taste buds still tingled with savory sweetness.

“I have to admit, I’m impressed.”  Lotus complimented with a smile.  “You really know your stuff, Kirumi.”

“Yeah, you must have maxed out your cooking skill, just like Asuna!”  Tsumugi proclaimed.

“I don’t know who this Asuna chick is, but if Kirumi’s cooking is as good as hers, I wanna meet her!  Maybe she’d be a good match for my brother!”

Everyone sweatdropped at Clover before Kiki turned to the blue-haired cosplayer.  “Say, Tsumugi, how long do we have to swim?”

“Let’s see…”  Tsumugi took out her e-Handbook and informed them “It says it’s about 8:00 pm right now, so we have about two hours of swim time.”

“Set an alarm for 90 minutes, then.”  Lotus suggested, though her tone came across more as a demand than a suggestion.

“I agree; we wanna be sure we’re not sticking around long enough that we have to scramble out of the pool.”

Kiki nodded.  “Yeah, good point, Clover.  Tsumugi, can you set an alarm for 90 minutes?”

“Alright, one moment please.”  Tsumugi fiddled with the apps on her tablet before she looked up from the screen.  “There, all set.  It’ll ring at about 9:30 pm.”

“We should be able to rest easy then.”  Kirumi commented before she stood up.  “I’ll carry the dishes back to the kitchen while it’s still open.  I shall return shortly.”

The other girls watched Kirumi collect the dirty dishes.  Once the maid left the pool area, Kiki smiled and stood up.

“Alright, last one in the pool’s a rotten egg!”

Makoto and Kyoko smiled as they watched their daughter jump into the pool, her cannonball splashing the other girls as they jumped in behind her.  “This almost feels like one of our family trips to the beach…”  Kyoko mused wistfully as her husband chuckled at the sight of Kiki and Tsumugi getting into a splash war.

“Yeah, at least they have a moment of happiness here.”  Makoto’s eyes brightened as he saw the four girls splash and play in the pool.

“It’s working, see?!”  Koto exclaimed, pointing excitedly at the screen.

“We can see that, you doofus.”  Despite her insult, Kiri smiled in agreement with her brother, the both of them happy that their sister’s plan seemed to be working.

“It’s too early to tell.”  Mokubo muttered.  “They may be bonding now, but what matters is whether it can withstand whatever motive Monokuma has planned.”

Koto and Kiri glared at their brother before Maki suggested, “Let’s just watch the rest of the party for now.  It looks like Kirumi’s back from the kitchen.”

“Hey Kirumi!”  Kiki waved from her spot in the pool as Kirumi sauntered into the room.  “Come on in, the water’s great!”

“I am glad that you are enjoying yourselves, but I still have to place the sleeping bags.”  Kirumi shook her head, causing Kiki to pout.

“Aw, come on!”  Clover exclaimed.  “We’re all having fun in the pool!”

“Yeah, come on in, Kirumi!”  Tsumugi agreed.

“Just get in.”  Lotus huffed.

Kirumi frowned, tempted to agree to their suggestion, but her habits as a maid won out.  “My apologies, but…HEY!”

Kirumi shrieked as Kiki and Clover tugged her by the legs, causing her to fall into the pool with them.  As the two girls shook the water out of their hair from the resulting splash, Kirumi surfaced, gasping for breath.  She tried to glare scoldingly at them, which only succeeded in causing the two girls to smile guiltily at them.

“How am I supposed to tend to your needs when I’m all wet?”

“That’s what we’re trying to tell you, Kirumi!”  Kiki rebutted.  “This is supposed to be fun for all of us!”

“Yeah, you don’t need to keep tending to our every need.”  Clover concurred, resting her hands on her waist beneath the water.  “You deserve to relax too!”

“Besides, we can roll out our own sleeping bags.”  Lotus pointed out.  “No reason for you to do it for us.”

“Come on, Kirumi, just join us!  We can pretend we’re all mermaids!”  Tsumugi cheered, causing the others to sweatdrop.

“Well, the mermaid thing might be pushing it a little, but really, we just want you to join us and have a good time.”  Kiki explained, clasping her hands together in a pleading gesture.  “Please Kirumi?”

Kirumi sighed, caving to the girls’ demands.  “Well…if this is what you all want…then I shall adhere to your request.”  She then swam to the ladder and climbed up it.  “However, if I am to join you, then I must change into more convenient clothing.  Shitsureishimasu.”

The girls watched as Kirumi bowed and walked into the locker room.  Kiki and Clover grinned and gave each other a hi-five, causing Lotus and Tsumugi to sweatdrop.


Tsumugi’s alarm echoed, causing the others to turn towards the device.  “I’ll go turn it off.”

As Tsumugi swam towards the ladder, Kirumi suggested “It would be proper if we all got out of the pool as well.”

“Yeah, I don’t wanna become fish food.”  Clover agreed before the other girls followed Tsumugi to the ladder and climbed out of the pool.

As they squeezed the water out of their hair and Tsumugi turned off the alarm, Kirumi suggested “Perhaps now would be an opportune time to dry off in the locker room and change into our pajamas.”

“Yeah, good idea.”  Kiki agreed before they filed into the locker room.  “We can pick a spot to place our sleeping bags.”

“Oh, and then we can tell scary stories like we’re camping!”  Tsumugi offered.

“Huh, I guess that’s not a bad idea.”  Lotus admitted.

“Well, what are we waiting for?!  Let’s go!”  Clover exclaimed excitedly, causing the others to sweatdrop before they followed her into the locker room.

“And then…he was pulled beneath the floor, never to be seen again.  It’s said that his ghost still haunts the mansion to this very day, imprisoning all who enter the grounds.”  As the other girls shuddered, Lotus laughed, slapping her knee.  “Haha, man, you’re as easy to scare as my girls back home!”

“Your girls?”  Kiki asked curiously, shaking away the residual fear from Lotus’s scary story.

“Oh, I guess I never mentioned it.  But yeah, I’ve got two daughters.”

“Ah, twin sisters.”  Tsumugi’s eyes sparkled.  “I wonder if they have any magic powers…could they be twin witches…?”

The others sweatdropped before Lotus deadpanned, “Uh, no, they’re just two normal girls who used to love a good bedtime story.”

“Regardless, you certainly have talent as a storyteller.”  Kirumi complimented, causing Clover to nod.

“Yeah, my brother never told me a scary story like that.  Always said he didn’t wanna give me nightmares…”

As Clover grumbled, Tsumugi pondered “Still, it’s a shame that none of us could tell a story quite that spine-tingling.”

Kiki giggled bashfully.  “Yeah, I have more of a fluff preference myself, so my story wasn’t really scary.”

“Perhaps not, but it was sweet.”  Kirumi smiled at the amnesiac girl.

“I gotta admit, my daughters would have loved the one you told, if they were a little younger.”

Kiki smiled appreciatively before a ringing echoed in their ears.

*Ding Dong Bing Bong*

They turned towards the nearby monitor as Monokuma appeared on the screen.  “This is a school announcement.  It is now 10 p.m.  Soon the doors to the dining hall will be locked, and entry at that point is strictly prohibited.  Okay then, sweet dreams, everyone.  Good night, sleep tight.  Don’t let the bed bugs biiiite!”

The female group let out a collective sigh as the monitor turned off.  “Well…guess we should head to sleep, then.”  Kiki suggested before they all slid into their sleeping bags.

“G-good night…”  Clover yawned.

“See you in the morning…”  Tsumugi agreed.

“May we all have pleasant dreams tonight.”  Kirumi prayed.

“Yeah…night, everyone…”  Lotus mumbled.

“Y-yeah…Oyasuminasai…”  Kiki muttered before she yawned and closed her eyes.  Please let this work!  This sleepover is our best defense against Monokuma’s motives.  Please…let it be enough!

“It’ll definitely be enough!”  Koto exclaimed, even though he knew his words couldn’t actually reach Kiki’s ears.

Kiri nodded in agreement.  “It has to work.  It has to!”


Mokubo kept silent, looking down at his hands.  He wanted to have the same faith that his siblings did, but his logical side kept him from feeling that warmth in his heart.

“Regardless, we’ll have to see if it works tomorrow.”  Maki commented before Makoto and Kyoko nodded.

“Alright, you three, time for bed.”  Kyoko urged before the three children stood up and followed Maki to their bedrooms.

Makoto and Kyoko sat in their seats as the screen transitioned to the familiar stage where Monokuma would once again give a pointless routine.

“What are you looking at?  Who…are you guys?  You’re probably thinking This killing game is taking forever.  Someone just die already.  That is what you’re thinking, right?  Man, you guys are messed up.  But I feel the same way, too.  Geez, why won’t someone just die?  Watching people live and die is really the best entertainment.” 

“Some people say, What do you think life is?  Honestly, life is worthless.  When you die, you are quickly forgotten cuz there’s tons of replacements out there.  But if you die in a death game, everyone knows who you are.  That itself is a form of happiness.  Puhuhu…Who will find happiness next?  My heart’s pounding with excitement.”

As the screen faded to black, Makoto swallowed the bile that had been building in his throat.  His eyes narrowed in anger as he clenched his fists.

“That…who would want to die in a death game?!”  The experienced former participant growled.  “There’s no point to being remembered in a death game if you’re dead!  Life is precious; you can’t just discard real people’s lives for entertainment!”

Kyoko rested her hand on Makoto’s knuckles, rubbing her palm soothingly against his skin to calm him down.  “Makoto, I know this must anger you.  I’m disgusted too, seeing our own daughter and several of our students being forced to participate in this.  But as much as it pains me to say it…there’s nothing we can do.  We have to hope that Kiki’s plan will work, at least until help arrives.”

Makoto sighed before he smiled gratefully at his wife.  “Thanks, Kyoko.  I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“Don’t mention it.”  Kyoko assured him with a kiss to his cheek before she stood up.  “Anyway, let’s head to bed for now.”

Makoto nodded and followed his wife out of the living room, both of them praying to whatever god would listen that their daughter’s plan would foil the mastermind’s schemes.

Chapter Text

Monokuma’s announcement awoke the girls from their slumber, causing them to yawn as they sat up in their sleeping bags.  Kiki stretched, clearing her vision.  She looked around at the other girls, who were just starting to open their eyes.

“Okay, everyone sleep okay?”

Tsumugi was the first to answer.  “It’s like a Black Mage cast the Sleep Spell on me.”

“Yeah, I almost forgot where we were.”  Clover admitted.

“Yes, it was nice to relax for a night.”  Kirumi concurred.

“Well, guess this plan of yours was a success, huh?”  Lotus mused before she smiled.  “This was a great idea, Kiki.  We’ll have to do this again sometime.”

Kiki beamed, thinking It really worked!  My idea really worked!  Take that, Monokuma!

“Well, since this was such a success, perhaps we should return to our rooms and get dressed before we go to the Dining Hall?”  Kirumi suggested.

“Yeah, I’m starving!”  Clover exclaimed, causing the other girls to giggle.

“I’m as hungry as a Snorlax.”  Tsumugi admitted.

“Alright then, let’s go, shall we?”

Kiki nodded in agreement with Lotus before she led the girls out of the pool area.

“Ha!”  Koto crowed “I knew Kiki’s plan would work!”

“Yeah, she’s not gonna lose to that overstuffed teddy bear!”  Kiri cheered.

“…Monokuma hasn’t made a move yet.”

As the twins turned to their frowning elder brother in shock, Kyoko reluctantly nodded.  “Unfortunately, your brother’s right.  We won’t know for certain if Kiki’s strategy worked until Monokuma makes his next move.”

Makoto smiled at his children.  “Still, for now we need to keep hope that Kiki’s plan will bear fruit.  There’s always the possibility that it could fail…but until it does, let’s believe in Kiki.”

“Well, the only way we’ll know for sure is to keep watching.”  Maki gestured to the TV.  “It looks like she’s about to enter her room.”

“Alright…time to get dressed and…huh?”

Kiki trailed off, closing the door behind her.  Sitting on her bed was a single, silver laptop.

“That’s weird, what is that doing here?”  She walked over and picked it up, tilting it in her hands as she inspected it from multiple angles.  “I certainly don’t remember finding a laptop around here.  I wonder what’s on it?”

Feeling her curiosity get the better of her, Kiki pressed the Power Button.  The screen instantly lit up and displayed a dark blue background with a stylized light blue circle in the middle.  Two silhouettes of her upper body floated on the sides of the background, one right side up and the other upside down.  In the middle of the background was two lines of stylized font, the top line blue and the bottom line red.  The top line read Kiki ???’s, and the bottom line read Motive Video.

M-Motive Video?!  Kiki exclaimed in her mind, though before she could shout, Monokuma’s voice echoed from the speakers.

“Alright!  Back by popular demand, it’s time for the motive video!  Who’s the most important person in *your* life?  And now, without further ado…”

Kiki gasped as the screen transitioned to an image of her standing in-between two adults.  To her left stood a green-eyed man with short brown hair and ahoge, and to her right stood a purple-eyed woman with long, lavender hair.

Kiki What’s-Her-Face.  Though her past is all but a blur thanks to her amnesia, her memory lives on in the hearts of her family.” 

The photo shifted to one depicting the three of them, plus a purple haired boy with a brown ahoge and heterochromatic green and purple eyes, a brown-haired boy with a matching ahoge and lavender eyes, and a purple-haired girl with green eyes. 

Is that…my family…?  Kiki wondered, her hands shaking as she gripped the laptop.

Before she could ponder the matter further, Monokuma’s recording continued “In fact, this lucky girl is the proud older sister to three younger siblings…”  The screen shifted once more to a photo of a young girl giggling and getting licked by a red sesame inu.  “…and the master to a loyal, protective puppy!”

So…this is the family I have outside these walls…but still…why don’t I remember them?  Mom, Dad, my brothers, my sister, even my dog…why don’t I even remember them…?

Before Kiki could ponder the matter further, the photo changed to what appeared to be a home video.  Kiki’s mother and father sat on a couch, smiling at the camera.

“Kiki, my baby girl…”  Her mother sniffled as she wiped a tear from her eye.  “Do you best in university, okay?”

“I’m so proud of you, pumpkin.”  Her father grinned reassuringly at the camera.  “But don’t push yourself too hard, okay?  Just take it one day at a time.”

“Bye, Kiki!”  Her parents waved, causing Kiki to smile at the loving gesture.

My family…they…they really loved me!  I…I have a loving family waiting for me! 

Her lips then tugged into a frown.  Dread flowed into her heart as unpleasant thoughts entered her mind. 

But wait…if I’m stuck in here…then what happened to my family outside?  Wouldn’t they want to protect me from whoever trapped me in here?  Then…where are they…?  Where are my parents?  Where are my siblings?  Where’s my dog?  Where are they?!

At that moment, the video froze as Monokuma jumped into the picture.  “So, what happened to Kiki’s loving family?  Are they alright?  It’s a secret!  Find out for yourself.  Puhuhuhuhuhu…”

The laptop shut off, sliding out of Kiki’s hands, the girl trembling with fear and anguish.  The girl barely held back her terrified tears as worry for her newly discovered family began to sprout in her mind.

“What…was that?”  She breathed, struggling to rein in her distraught emotions that threatened to bubble to the surface.

She took a couple of deep breaths, closing her eyes and forcing the churning in her stomach to quell itself.  Once she had calmed down, Kiki opened her eyes with a clearer mind.

“A motive video…Could this be another one of Monokuma’s machinations?”  She shook the thought from her head and muttered, “Later.  I…I have to get dressed…and get to the Dining Hall.  If that was waiting for me in my room, it’s likely everyone else got a video too.  And if that’s true…we have to talk about them together!  It’s the only way for us to fight back against Monokuma!”

With shaky steps, Kiki walked to her closet, frantically pulling out a fresh set of clothes before she stumbled to her bathroom.

“…But…we never even recorded that video!”  Makoto exclaimed as the screen faded to black.  “How can that video exist if we never recorded it?!”

Kyoko hummed, musing “It’s strange, indeed.  We knew it was possible for the mastermind to introduce a new motive, but for them to replicate our living room and replicate our appearances, our voices, our mannerisms…they’re dealing with someone exceptionally skilled…just like Junko was…”

“…They’re not perfect, though…”  As the others turned to Mokubo, he pointed out “The living room was a good replica, but it’s missing some of our family photos.  And Mother and Father…their figures seemed…disproportionate.”

The others blinked before Koto exclaimed “…He’s right!  Our Dad isn’t so thin!”

“Yeah, and Mom doesn’t wear gloves anymore!”  Kiri realized.  “They must have hired some actors to play our parents!”

“It’s certainly possible.”  Maki admitted.  “Given the elaborate setup we’ve seen so far, it’s not outside the realm of possibility for the motives to be prepared in advance.”

Makoto nodded in agreement.  “Those disguises are certainly impressive, but it was like Mukuro trying to pass herself off as Junko.  No matter how much she tried, the only thing that kept us from seeing their switch from the start was our tampered memories.” Makoto smiled at his eldest son with a twinkle of pride in his eye.  “Good eye, Mokubo.”

Mokubo nodded.  “I’m just…good at noticing those little details…”

At that moment, the twins stared nervously at each other.  “So, does that mean…”

“…Kiki’s plan was a bust…?”  Kiri finished her twin brother’s sentence hesitantly.

“…That remains to be seen.”  Kyoko concluded.  “Let’s keep watching.  It looks like she’s about to enter the Dining Hall.”

Everyone turned back to the TV, watching as the new dressed Kiki raced through the dorms, panic evident in her eyes.

The doors slammed open as Kiki skidded inside the Dining Hall, coming to a stop as she panted.  “Ah, Kiki!”  Shuichi exclaimed as she caught her breath.

“Shu…Shuichi…everyone…”  She breathed as she saw the others standing not too far from the two of them.

“So I take it you got the same thing the rest of us did.”  Lotus guessed.

“Assuming that she means the motive videos we all got when we went back to our rooms, then it’s probably likely she did.”  Seven sighed.

“Motive video…so you all got one too?”  Kiki asked.

“Well, I got an audio recording, but I imagine the purpose was basically the same.”  Snake revealed.  “It was designed to show us the most important person in our lives, right?”

Sokyu shrugged and admitted, “Wouldn’t know…I didn’t even watch mine.”

“You…didn’t even watch yours?”  Kiki asked, causing Sokyu to shake his head.

“Obviously not.  Anything given to us by Monokuma has to be a trap, right?  There’s nothing to gain from indulging in it.  So I didn’t even turn the thing on.  I just slid it under my bed.  Out of sight, out of mind.”

“Th-that’s pr-pretty b-brave…”  Teruaki stammered.

Yeah, now I wish I hadn’t watched mine…  Kiki admitted to herself before she confessed, “Well…I…watched mine.”  As Sokyu sighed, Kiki asked “Who else watched theirs?”

Everyone else’s hands reluctantly went up, causing Kiki to sigh.  “Okay…except for Sokyu, all of us watched our Motive Videos.  I think it’s safe to say that we can’t just leave things alone like this.  We’re all probably feeling some kind of turmoil or disbelief from what we saw or heard.”

“So, what do you suggest we do?”  Clover demanded.

“Yes, we have to do something, or we’ll just fall into Monokuma’s trap.”  Ace turned to Kiki and asked, “Kiki, what’s your suggestion?  I trust you have some kind of plan for dealing with this?”

Kiki reluctantly nodded, swallowing the lump in her throat.  “Well…why don’t we just talk about what was in our Motive Videos?  If we can just get everything out in the open, we can support each other and remove any incentive for murder.”

“Oh, you mean like group therapy?”  Gonta asked.

Kiki nodded.  “Yeah, that’s it.  Here, I’ll go first.”  Kiki’s lips tugged into an anxious frown as she stared at her sneakers.  “My Motive Video showed me my family.  Apparently I have a mom, a dad, two younger brothers, a younger sister, and a pet dog.”  Kiki clenched her fists and gritted her teeth.  “But…I don’t remember any of them.  I just…I wish I could remember my own family!  No…it’s not just that.  I…I want to see my family again!  I want that so badly…!”

“B-badly enough to kill?!”

Kiki looked up at Teruaki with widened eyes as he pointed an accusatory finger at her.  “N-no, that’s not it!”  She cried as she waved her hands in denial.  “I was just e-explaining how I felt, that’s all!”

“L-lies!  I know that a-act!  You’ll just pr-pretend to be nice, then you’ll try and sl-slit my th-throat!  It’s always the i-innocent ones…”

“Now, now.”  Snake interjected.  “No need to assume the worst of her.  Or do you intend to make the same mistake as the last Class Trial?”

“Besides, I’m sure she’s not the only one who feels that way.”  Tsumugi agreed.

“Indeed, I’m sure most of us have a desire to see our families or loved ones again.”  Kirumi pointed out.  “Being suspicious of Kiki means that we must also be suspicious of every one of us.”

As Teruaki grumbled, Kiki took a moment to take a deep breath and calm down.  “Anyway…”  She turned to Ryoma, who had been staring at his sneakers with a similarly despondent expression on his face.  “Ryoma?”

“Huh?”  Distracted from his melancholy, he looked up curiously at Kiki, who did her best to smile reassuringly at him.

“What was on your motive video?”

A tense silence permeated the atmosphere, thick enough to cut with a butter knife.  At last, Ryoma tugged his hat over his eyes and uttered a single word.


“N-nothing?”  Kiki repeated, cocking her head in confusion.

“Ah, can you be a little more specific than that?”  Shuichi asked hesitantly.  “Surely there must have been something in your video…”

“I said it was nothing.”  Ryoma repeated curtly, cutting off the detective.  “That’s my answer.”

“Well, seems like not all of us are willing to share.”  Lotus mused.

“N-no way am I sharing my video with all of you!”  Teruaki growled.  “Y-you’d just use it to mu-murder me!”

“Are you always this suspicious of others?!”  Clover demanded, resting her hands scoldingly on her hips.

“I understand how you feel, Teruaki.”  Ace spoke in an attempt to placate the paranoid man.  “But we’re facing another one of Monokuma’s motives.  We can’t afford to take them lightly.  Our best bet for survival is for us to rely on the bonds we forged during Kiki’s sleepover plan and trust each other.  Dividing us is central to Monokuma’s plan.  The more we distrust each other, the more likely we are to turn on each other.”

“I agree with you, Ace.”  Keebo nodded.  “We have to stand strong against Monokuma’s motives.  So let us discuss our videos as a team.  Once we get them out in the open…”

“I already gave you my answer.”  Ryoma stated, cutting off the humanoid robot.

“M-me too!”  Teruaki denied.  “My a-answer is fi-final!”

“Gonta would happily share his video, but if nobody else wants to, then what’s the point?”  Gonta furrowed his brow, biting his lip anxiously and crossing his arms over his chest.  “So…what do we do now…?”

This isn’t good…  Kiki began to panic.  I think most of us would agree to share our videos, but if this is going to work, then we all need to participate!  What can I do to convince everyone?  How can I get us to trust each other…?

“…We don’t need to share each other’s videos.”


Kiki and the others turned to Clover with widened eyes.  The pigtailed girl’s eyes narrowed in determination as a flame blazed in their depths.

“If the goal is to get us all to work together, then we don’t need to share our videos.  I…I have another idea.”

Furrowing his brow in confusion, Snake asked “Oh?  And what is this idea of yours, Clover?”

“…I’m gonna put on a magic show!”


Everyone stared at Clover as she explained, “I found this book on stage magic in the library earlier and I thought a little entertainment would be a good way to get everyone to forget about our situation.  Besides, Kiki’s slumber party plan showed me that everyone’s working so hard so we can survive, so I’ve gotta do my part too!”

“Clover…”  Kiki muttered, awestruck by the young girl’s sense of responsibility.  You…you’ve really matured!

“Oh?”  Snake smiled, prodding with an amused tone.  “And what’s with the sudden interest in magic?”

“H-Hey!”  Clover pouted.  “I just was bored in the library one time and picked up a random book.  It happened to be a book on magic tricks, and I…I learned a lot, okay?  So I figured I’d put what I learned to use and actually do something useful.”

A proud smile pulled on Snake’s lips as he turned his head in Clover’s direction.  “Very well, then.  I know you’ll do a fine job, Clover.”

“That’s all well, and good…”  Lotus interjected.  “But what kind of magic show are you gonna put on?”

“How about an escape show?”

Clover shrieked as Monokuma suddenly appeared in the center of their group.

“Oh, have you mastered the flash step?”  Tsumugi asked, causing Kiki to sweatdrop.

That’s not important, Tsumugi!

“Forget about that.”  Monokuma waved off the cosplayer’s question.  “More importantly, you should totally do an escape show!  It’ll be so exciting!  A performance where the magician is trapped in a life-or-death situation!  It’s so extreme!  It’s the perfect fit for a killing game!”

Everyone sweatdropped at the psychotic bear before Keebo cleared his throat.  “Even if we could follow your crazy logic, where would we even get the materials for such a stunt?”

Keebo, please don’t give him any ideas…  Kiki pleaded, to no avail.

“I’ll let you use the piranhas installed in the pool area!”  Monokuma answered, causing Kiki to resist the urge to facepalm.

And he jinxed it…

“Just say the word and I’ll deliver the piranhas on a loan to your desired location.  Oh, but school rules are still in effect, so if any of you try to swim in the pool after nighttime, I’ll throw you into the piranha tank after the show!  Ahahahaha!”

Once Monokuma waddled out of the Dining Hall, the survivors turned to each other with nervous pits in their stomachs.  “So…what are we gonna do?”  Seven asked nervously.

“Ah, are we…actually considering taking Monokuma up on his offer?”  Shuichi asked with equal nervousness in his voice.

“This seems quite dangerous, and I have no wish for Clover to put herself in such obvious danger.”  Snake admitted with a hum.

“Hey!”  Clover pouted.  “I’m not a little kid anymore!  Besides, I’ve been reading a lot about these magic tricks!  If I just practice, I can do it no problem!”

“Yeah, but…”  Kiki sighed.  “You don’t need to do what Monokuma says, Clover.  You can do a different magic trick.  I’m sure we’ll all love it, no matter what it is…”

“No, I won’t run away!”  Clover exclaimed, cutting Kiki off defiantly.  “I can do it, I promise!”

“…Just let it go, Kiki.”  Snake sighed in defeat.  “Once she gets like this, there’s no changing her mind.”

“Well, since we’re apparently doing this, at least let me help you practice.”  Lotus smiled at clover.  “I used to help my daughters with all sorts of things.  This’ll be easy.”

“Would you mind if I helped as well?”  Everyone turned to Kirumi, who nodded with a small smile.  “Tell me whatever you want me to do, and I shall happily fulfill your requests.”

“Excellent, with two helping hands, this should be a breeze.”  Lotus chuckled.

“Oh, okay.  Thanks, you guys.”  Clover smiled gratefully at the two women.  “Well, I guess the best place to do it would be the gym.  One of us should inform Monokuma so he’ll bring the piranha tank.  We’ll also need…”

As the others began to excitedly chat about the upcoming magic show, Kiki’s lips tugged into a small smile, though anxiety still danced in her eyes.

Well, the slumber party turned out to be a bust in the grand scheme of things, and I have reservations about using any ideas from Monokuma, but hopefully Clover’s magic show will help up to strengthen our friendship and stand stronger against this Killing Game!

“…This is a terrible idea.”  Mokubo deadpanned as his mother nodded in agreement.

“Indeed, doing anything Monokuma asks is a recipe for disaster.”

“I have concerns too…”  Makoto admitted.  “But since the others weren’t all willing to share their motive videos, they didn’t have too many options to avert another incident.”

The twins sighed before Koto muttered, “Seriously, why couldn’t they have just done what Kiki said?”

“Yeah, then the motive videos would have lost any influence on the others.”  Kiri agreed.

“…Because some of them might be too shocked to even process their videos, let alone think about showing their vulnerability to people they barely know.”  Makoto muttered.

“…Speaking from experience?”  Maki asked, causing her former employers to nod.

“…All we can do is hope that this doesn’t turn out like what happened with Sayaka.”  Kyoko admitted.

She and the others reluctantly turned their attention to the screen.  They could only pray that Clover’s escape show would rob the motive videos of their power.

Chapter Text

Kiki laid face-up on her bed, staring at the ceiling as she contemplated the turn of events that the morning had brought.

“…So much for my slumber party idea…it brought us one night of fun, but Monokuma was one step ahead.”  She gritted her teeth in frustration as she recalled the motive that Monokuma had prepared for them.  “My family…are those people in the video really my family?  Can I really trust that the information disclosed in that video is the truth?”

Kiki sat up, slapping her cheeks with both hands.  Once she shook her confused thoughts from her head, she stood up with a weary look in her eyes.

“I’m not gonna get anywhere just sitting here and reviewing it over and over.  I wanna know the truth, but I’m not willing to kill to find out.  I gotta get my mind off it for now until we find out some new information.  Maybe a walk will help to clear my head.”  Taking a deep breath, she walked up to the door and opened it, hoping that a calming walk would settle her nerves.

With each step, Kiki hummed under her breath, feeling her nerves begin to melt away with each step.  As her worries faded however, boredom began to take its place.

“I gotta find something to do while Clover’s preparing for her show…now let’s see…what to do, what to do…”  As she turned the corner, she saw a familiar, silver-haired boy walk down the hall, several boxes towering in his hands like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  “Hey, Snake!”

Rather than hum in slight surprise like she expected, Snake merely smiled in amusement and glanced in her direction as she jogged over.  “Ah, Kiki.  I was wondering when you’d approach me.”

“You…you knew I was there…?”

Snake merely nodded and explained, “My blindness affords me a greater sense of hearing than most.  I heard you from around the corner of the hallway, and given your social tendencies, I anticipated you’d come to make small talk once you saw me.”

“Wow…you’re really perceptive, Snake.”  As Snake chuckled, Kiki asked “What are you doing with those boxes?”

“Oh, these?  They’re supplies for Clover’s little magic show.  Some of the others are getting supplies as well.”

“Oh, that’s really nice of you guys.”  Kiki frowned worriedly at the wobbly tower Snake was carrying in his arms.  “Are you sure you wanna carry that all by yourself, Snake?  Do you want some help?”

“…Very well, I suppose I could use a helping hand.”  Snake relented.  “In return though, why don’t I treat you to the School Store?  I found some…Monocoins, shall we call them?  Why don’t we see what we can get with them?”

Kiki nodded, agreeing “Sure, that sounds great!”

“Very well.  In that case, why don’t you grab the first two from the top and we can bring these down to the gym.”

Free Time Event #8: Kiki & Snake!

“A…Golden Gun…?!”  Kiki’s eyes widened in shock as the machine deposited a golden-plated revolver in her hand.

“Well…”  Snake crossed his arms over his chest and mused, “This is technically a killing game, after all.  It would make sense for the prizes in this machine to be at least partially made up of weapons.  So, what will you do with it?”

“I…I don’t know…”  Kiki stammered.  “I don’t wanna keep a gun in my room!  Besides, there’s so many ways to kill people as it is with just ordinary objects.  I don’t wanna throw a real weapon into the mix too!”

“I see…in that case, why don’t you allow me to secure it in my room?”

“A-are you sure…?”  Kiki stammered before Snake nodded and took the revolver from her.

“Fear not; I have no intention of killing anyone.  Besides, you seem rather skittish.  You might accidentally pull the trigger if you handle it.”

“Yeah…you’re probably right.”  Kiki took a deep breath and gave a more relaxed nod.  I trust you, Snake.  Besides, it’s not like he can use a gun, since he’s blind and all…

“Don’t mistake my blindness for incapability.”  Snake tutted in amusement.  “I assure you that I am more than capable of handling a firearm should the situation demand it.”

Kiki’s eyes widened as she squeaked, “Did I…say that out loud?”

Snake shook his head.  “No, I’m just good at reading people.  Don’t worry, I know you meant no offense.”

Kiki sighed in relief before it gave way to curiosity.  “Ano…Snake…?”

“Hm?  What is it, Kiki?”

“Well…Clover told me you lost your sight in an accident…so I was just wondering…that is…if I’m not crossing any lines or anything by asking…”

Snake smiled in amusement at Kiki’s averted eyes.  “It’s okay, I suppose I can trust you with a small story.”  Snake frowned as he pursed his lips, deep in concentration as he sifted through his memories.  “It was some years ago; I was a little boy at the time and Clover was about to start grade school.  Our parents were driving us to a mountain so we could go hiking.  I can’t remember what mountain it was, but I remember Clover and I were excited to go.”

“Oh, so you liked hiking?”

“Yes, well, Clover was just happy to go anywhere I was.  Even before my accident, she stuck to me like glue.”  Snake chuckled, shaking his head in amusement before he continued, “Anyway, our parents were driving down the highway and just before we reached the exit ramp, a nearby car swerved out of control and hit us, sending our car over the guardrails and off the road.”

Kiki’s eyes widened as she gasped in horror.  “You guys…got hit…right off the road?!”

Snake nodded.  “The rest is a bit of a blur, but I remember the impact causing one of the windows to shatter.  Shards of broken glass flew towards me and Clover, causing her to scream.  I acted on instinct and leaned between her and the window.  I remember crying out in pain and feeling everything fade into black.  My mother’s cries were the last thing I heard before I lost consciousness.”

“Snake…that’s so awful…”

Snake nodded appreciatively.  “When I woke up, the doctors told me that my eyes had been cut by the glass, and that I’d be blind forever.”

“Snake…that must have been so awful…and you were just a little kid…you must have been so devastated!”

“Well, I suppose anyone in my situation would be.  But before I could feel any of that…Clover leapt into my arms, despite our mother’s attempts to restrain her.  She bawled against my chest, apologizing for the accident and claiming that it was her fault I couldn’t see anymore.  As her older brother, what else could I do but wrap my arm around her and assure her that she wasn’t to blame.”

“…You’re a good brother, Snake.”  Kiki smiled, admiring the love that the two siblings had for each other.  Did…did I love my siblings like that too…?

Snake smiled appreciatively for just a moment.  Once the moment of appreciation faded, his lips tugged into a frown once more. 

“Unfortunately, I don’t believe I was good enough.  As close as we were before, after the accident, she clung even tighter to me whenever we were together.  I’ll admit, in the first months after the accident, I was grateful to have her as my eyes.  But even now that I’ve proven capable of walking on my own two legs without assistance, she still acts as though I can’t do anything without her.  I wonder…would a good brother allow their younger sibling to become such a worrywart?”

“Is…isn’t that just proof of how far you would go for each other?”  Kiki pointed out.  “I mean…if you weren’t such a good sibling to her…then she’d never had felt grateful about you saving her in the first place.  Plus, she wouldn’t have helped you to adjust to not having sight if she didn’t love you as a sibling.  Doesn’t…doesn’t worrying about each other come with the territory of being family?”

“…I see…I hadn’t thought of it that way before…”  Snake smiled gratefully at the amnesiac girl.  “Thank you, Kiki.”

Kiki smiled and nodded in return before the corner of her lip tugged into a curious expression.  “So…you said you could handle a firearm, right?  Is there…is there anything you can’t do?”

Snake sighed.  “Well…of course I can’t tell you what color different objects are.  But to be honest…before I lost my sight, I wanted to learn to play the guitar.  After my accident, I could never figure out where the right strings were or how to move my hand.  I fear that playing the guitar is but a fantasy to me now…”

“But it doesn’t have to be!”  Kiki interjected fiercely.  “If you’re good enough to handle a firearm without being able to see, you can totally learn to play the guitar!  Just put in the effort that you did with learning to do everything else without sight, and I know you’ll be a great guitarist!  I’ll even come to your first concert!”

Snake’s lips parted, the blind man awestruck by Kiki’s belief.  At last, his lips tugged into a smile, and if his eyes were open, Kiki knew that they’d be sparkling.

“…How silly of me to have given up on my dream after having conquered every other obstacle in my life.”  Snake chuckled, shaking his head.  “Thank you, Kiki.  You’ve helped me to see my sister’s behavior in a new light, and you’ve made me realize that my dreams aren’t so far out of reach after all.  When we get out of here, I’ll learn how to play the guitar, and I’ll be sure you get to attend my first concert, even if it’s just you and Clover as my audience.”

Kiki giggled “I’d like that.”

“For now, though, I could use a rest after moving all those boxes.  I’ll see you later, Kiki.”

As Snake waved and bid her farewell, Kiki beamed happily.  I got to learn more about Snake and Clover’s relationship, and I helped him to rekindle his love of the guitar.  I’m glad I got to know Snake a little better…him and Clover…they’re so cool!

“…Was it really such a good idea for her to give a firearm to someone she barely knows?”  Maki muttered.

Kyoko shrugged.  “It couldn’t be helped, under the circumstances.  Of course, there’s no way to be certain, but Snake doesn’t seem like the type to use a weapon without provocation.  Besides…”  The former detective glanced at her husband.  “We gave you a weapon, and we turned out more or less fine.”

“Don’t remind me…”  Makoto muttered, both of them averting their eyes as they flashed back to the case that pitted the two lovers against one another.

“So what’s Kiki gonna do now?”  Koto asked as they watched her separate from Snake.

“Hmm…I don’t know…”  Kiri reluctantly answered.  “I’m not sure what she can do other than burn time.”

“Her talk with Snake didn’t turn up anything useful, so as far as thing up escape plans, there’s nothing she can really do.”  Mokubo concurred.

“Looks like she’s just going back to her room.”  Makoto observed before the room fell silent.

“I want any and all firearms transaction records matching that golden revolver.”

“Yes, Detective!”  The officers nodded before they got up and walked out of the conference room, leaving the detective to analyze the evidence already collected.

“…I can’t just do nothing…”  Kiki muttered as she got up from her bed.  “Everyone’s probably helping with Clover’s magic show.  I have to see if there’s something I can do to help out.”

With her objective determined, Kiki made her way to the gymnasium.


Kiki’s brow furrowed as she saw the calm man peeking through a crack in the door.  He instantly whirled around, a surprised gleam in his eyes.

“Oh, Kiki, I didn’t hear you coming.”

“Sorry if I scared you.”  Kiki bowed slightly before her brow furrowed.  “What are you doing here, anyway?”

“Oh…I was just checking if anyone else needed assistance for the magic show.  But it looks like everything’s all set up.  Kirumi’s just sewing the curtains.  I’d offer to help, but sewing isn’t really my strong suit, and it looks like she’s working pretty quickly as it is, so I guess I’m not really needed.”

“I see…”  Kiki smiled as she mused, “I guess there’s nothing for us to do, then.”

Ace hummed before he began “Well…there might be a minor errand you could help me with.”

“Oh, really?”

As Kiki’s eyes sparkled excitedly, Ace sweatdropped.  “It’s nothing exciting, in fact it’s probably unnecessary.  But…have you been to the Chem Lab yet?”

“The…Chem Lab…?”  Confused, Kiki shook her head.  “No, I haven’t, but why do you ask?”

“Well, when we first explored the 4th floor, I took inventory of all the chemicals in there.”  Ace whipped out a notepad.  “I figured since we had nothing better to do, perhaps we could take a second count and see if any has gone missing in the last couple of days.”

Kiki’s eyes widened as she exclaimed “Wait, do you think that someone might be…”

“I…don’t think so, but better safe than sorry, right?”

If someone’s planning to use one of those chemicals to interfere with Clover’s magic show, it’d be really bad.  Taking a second count might not be a bad idea…  Kiki nodded, agreeing “Yeah, good idea.  Let’s go.”

Ace smiled as he replied, “Excellent.  Lead the way then, if you please.”

Free Time Event #9: Kiki & Ace!

“And…done.”  She turned to Ace, who was inspecting another shelf.  “Okay Ace, nothing’s missing from this shelf.”

Ace nodded.  “Good, everything seems to be in order here, too.”  As he closed the cabinet door, he mused “Well, I guess I was worried for nothing.  Still, it’s good that nobody’s decided to take advantage of the lax security here.”

Yeah, the last thing we need is someone else getting any ideas…  Kiki repressed her impending shudder before she looked down at the detailed note Ace had given to her.  “You must know an awful lot about chemicals, huh Ace?  Were you like a chemist on the outside?”

“Oh me?  Haha, no, I’m not really what you’d call a scientist.  There are plenty of minds more brilliant out there than me.”

“Oh, okay…but then how do you know so much about what chemicals do what?”  Kiki cocked her head curiously, pondering the minor mystery in front of her as Ace rubbed the back of his neck nervously.

“Well…I suppose there’s no harm in telling you…”  Ace nodded.  “Okay, then.  I know so much about these chemicals because I have experience working at a pharmaceutical company.”

“A pharmaceutical company?  Oh, so you’re involved in making and selling medicine?”

“I…suppose so…though I’m honestly more involved in the management side of things.”

“Oh, so you’re like an executive?”

“Something like that, though it’s not like that’s useful in here.  Honestly, I wish I was a scientist right about now.  Then maybe I could actually be useful.”  Ace sighed, his eyes suddenly downcast.  “Think about it.  Scientists every day are making miraculous breakthroughs.  They can discover new species, find new planets, find cures for incurable diseases, with nothing but their will to succeed.”

That…might be wishful thinking…  Kiki sweatdropped as Ace shook his head.

“We need a scientist right now; someone who has the knowledge and cunning to outsmart the mastermind and get us out of here without anymore unnecessary deaths.”

Kiki frowned, thinking I understand how he feels.  I promised Kaede I’d lead everyone out of here, but I still don’t feel adequate enough for the job.  Even Shuichi’s plan failed, and he was the professional!  But…that’s still no reason for us to give up!  “…Sure, we may not have a scientist…but we have each other, isn’t that right?”

Confused, Ace turned to her and slowly nodded.  “Yes…but I’m not sure I follow.”

“Well, alone we might not be enough to beat the mastermind.  But there’s still fourteen of us here.  If we can just put aside our differences, we can combine our strengths and beat the mastermind with team effort!”


Kiki nodded energetically as she replied, “Yeah, so we can’t give up!  We just gotta play to our strengths!  Clover’s doing her best, so we’ve gotta do our best too!”

Ace blinked before his lips tugged into a small smile.  He chuckled as he shook his head.

“So…optimistic of you…but I believe you’re right.  Yes…we all have a part to play in our escape, and as long as each of us plays our part, we’ll definitely get out of here.”

“That’s the spirit!”  Kiki grinned before Ace slipped his hands in his pockets and walked past her.  “Hey Ace, where are you…?”

“My apologies, but I just need to think more on your words.  I need to figure out how I’ll be able to aid in our escape.”

Kiki’s lips drooped into a frown as she watched Ace exit the Chem Lab.  “Well…I can’t really say I got to know Ace that much…but I understand a little better how he feels…”  Kiki’s eyes narrowed as she clenched her fist in determination.  “I have to do my best, too…so that when the time comes, I can truly be useful and help us all get out of here!”

“You’re totally useful, Kiki!”  Koto cheered.

“Koto’s right!”  Kiri concurred energetically.  “There’s no way you’re useless!”

Makoto and Kyoko smiled proudly at their children’s faith in their older sister, seeing their eldest son silently nod in affirmation. 

“Remember, she can’t hear you guys from there.”  Maki reminded them, causing the twins’ cheerful expression to sink like rocks.

“Maybe not, but what else can we do?”

Kyoko nodded in agreement with her husband.  “Indeed; why not let the children cheer on their sister?”

Maki shrugged as they watched Kiki leave the Chem Lab, wondering where she would go next.

As Monokuma’s evening announcement disappeared from the screen, Kiki yawned, rubbing her stuffed belly from dinner through her nightgown.  After pulling the blankets over her, she closed her eyes, allowing her rhythmic, soothing rubs on her aching tummy to lull her into sleep.

I really hope Clover’s magic show tomorrow goes well.  If things go as planned…then everyone’s morale will be restored, and we can focus on how to pull together and get all of us out of here…

“I need a miracle!  You pray, right?  While you’re working, living, and gambling.  But miracles happen every day.  For example, do you know what the odds of the earth existing are?  The same as a tornado blowing through a junkyard and assembling a working car.  That’s a miracle!  That’s why us being alive on earth is a miracle!” 

“All kinds of miracles happen every day.  Life is made up of little miracles.  But whenever a miracle does happen, it just gets chalked up as fate or destiny or whatever.  Be grateful for the miracles that have already happened instead of hoping for new ones.  If you do that, you should be able to enjoy miracles, right?”

“…What was even the point of that routine?”  Kyoko sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose.

“…It’s Monokuma; nothing he does makes sense.”  Makoto deadpanned.  “At least Maki already took the kids to bed so they didn’t have to be as befuddled as we were.”

Kyoko nodded.  “A small blessing, but given the situation, we’ll just have to take them when they come.  I just hope Clover’s little magic show will do the trick.”  Kyoko bit her lip before she admitted, “I can’t explain it, but I just have this dark pit in my stomach.”

Makoto frowned worriedly.  “Is that your…Kirigiri Senses tingling…ow.”

As Makoto rubbed his shoulder, Kyoko softly glared at him.  “I told you, detectives don’t have superpowers.  There’s no such thing as Kirigiri Senses.  It’s just…a feeling of dread.”

Makoto pensively averted his eyes.  He wanted to believe that Clover’s magic show would go off without a hitch, just like his daughter’s sleepover idea.  However, he knew from personal experience that his wife’s intuition was not to be trifled with.

Especially since I’d be dead if she hadn’t sensed Junko’s killing intent.  With a heavy sigh, he stood up and suggested, “Well, let’s head to bed, alright?  We can wait until the morning to see how Clover’s idea goes.”

Kyoko nodded and stood up.  She followed her husband back to their bedroom, both of them wearing pensive frowns on their faces as they prayed that her detective intuition was wrong.

Chapter Text

Kiki groaned, Monokuma’s morning announcement rousing her from her slumber.  She yawned as she sat up, her eyes fluttering open.  She rubbed one sleepy eye with her fist, she slowly shaking the haziness from her mind.

“Guess it’s morning…”  As her own words settled in, Kiki’s eyes slowly widened in realization.  “That’s right, it’s morning!”  She exclaimed, now wide awake.  “It’s the morning of Clover’s magic show!”  As she practically leapt out of bed, her eyes flared excitedly.  “I’d better get dressed and head to the dining hall.  The sooner we eat breakfast together, the sooner we can get this show on the road!”

With that, the energetic girl quickly grabbed her clothes from the closet.  With her wardrobe now picked out, she rushed into the bathroom for her morning shower.

“Ah, good morning.”  Shuichi greeted with a smile as Kiki approached the table.

“Good morning, Shuichi.” 

Kiki smiled before she gazed around the table.  She frowned, raising an eyebrow in confusion.

“Why does it seem like there are less people here than usual?”

Shuichi nodded.  “Yeah, Kirumi, Ryoma, and Snake never came in.”

Kiki hummed worriedly as she took one more headcount and realized, “Hey, Clover’s not here either.”

“Oh, her?  She’s in the gym making final preparations.”  Kiki and Shuichi looked up as Lotus placed two plates in front of them.  “She just grabbed a quick bite before she raced out of the dining hall.  I offered to help, but she insisted on doing the final preparations on her own.”

“I see…she must be really dedicated to this performance of hers…”  Ace mused.

“No doubt about that.”  Tsumugi agreed with a nod.  “I wonder if she’s secretly training to join a Circle of Magi?”

Everyone else sweatdropped before Seven sighed.  “More importantly, why aren’t Kirumi and Ryoma here?”

“Ryoma’s always been something of a loner, so it’s not surprising that he skipped out on breakfast.”  Keebo commented.

“But Kirumi always comes and makes us breakfast.”  Gonta crossed his arms pensively over his chest.

“W-what is she, your m-mom…?”  Teruaki spat.

“Considering how much you all lean on her, she might as well be.”  Sokyu mused.

“It’s a good thing I stayed to cook for you all, or you all might not know how eat for yourselves.”  Lotus sighed.  “I swear, you’re all worse than my girls.”

We’re not that bad…right?  Kiki wondered.

She and the others sweatdropped at the experienced mother.  Nevertheless, she smiled and nodded gratefully. 

“Thank you for doing this.  It was really nice of you to cook for us, Lotus.”

“Oh, no big deal, I guess.”  Lotus waved off Kiki’s compliment.  “Like I said, I have two daughters at home, so I’m used to it.  Well, eat up before it gets cold.  I’m gonna go check on Clover and wait for you guys at the gym.”

Everyone watched as Lotus sauntered out of the dining hall.  They then turned back to their food and began to eat.

“Perhaps Kirumi, Ryoma, and Snake decided to skip breakfast in favor of going to the magic show early.”  Keebo suggested.

“I don’t know about Ryoma…but it wouldn’t surprise me if Kirumi decided to try and help with last-minute preparations, and I imagine Snake would want to be first in line to see his little sister’s performance.”  Tsumugi suggested.

I hope you’re right, Tsumugi…  Kiki prayed as she sipped her tea.  I really hope you’re right…

“This…doesn’t bode well…”  Makoto sighed.

“Indeed.”  Kyoko concurred.  “Three people missing is incredibly suspicious.”

“You think there might have been…?”

“No way!”  Koto shook his head, cutting Maki off.

“Yeah!”  Kiri agreed.  “I bet they’re all just waiting at the gym!  Clover’s magic show is gonna be great, then they’ll all be even closer before they get out of there!”

“…Isn’t that wishful thinking…?”  Mokubo pointed out, only to earn double glares from his brother and sister.

“Well, let’s just keep an open mind here.”  Makoto suggested.  “We don’t have any proof that anything has happened, but we can’t dismiss the possibility that something might have happened.  So…let’s hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”

Kyoko nodded approvingly as they watched the group of students walk out of the dining hall.

“Whoa…”  Shuichi breathed as they stepped into the gym.  “This is even nicer than I thought it’d be.”

Kiki nodded, awestruck by the sight in front of them.  At the back of the gym stood a single water tank, with a smaller tank of piranhas hanging a few feet above it.  On top of the tank stood what appeared to be a digital clock, the numbers currently displaying 00:00 in bright red font.  To the right of the tank stood a crimson-red curtain, hanging elegantly a few feet above the floor.

Keebo whistled, impressed by the setup in front of them.  “I have to say, this is quite the impressive feat.  Clover must be quite skilled to set this up in such little time.”

“I bet the old hag did most of the setup.”  Seven muttered as he scratched the back of his head.

“I heard that!”  Everyone turned towards Lotus, who stood to the side of the curtain along with Clover.  “Anyway, yeah, I helped a little, so what?  Clover here is still going to do the brunt of the work.”

“Indeed.”  Ace nodded.  “There wouldn’t be much point to Clover doing a magic show if she wasn’t going to be performing the trick herself.”

“Wh-whatever…”  Teruaki grumbled.  “Let’s just g-get this over with…”

“Wait, we can’t start yet!”  Gonta exclaimed as he glanced around the room.

Kiki nodded, concurring “Gonta’s right.  We’re still missing three people; Kirumi, Ryoma…and Snake.”

“Why…?”  Clover muttered, nervously fidgeting with one of her pigtails.  “Why isn’t my brother here?  I…I wanted him to be here!”

“Poor girl…”  Tsumugi frowned in sympathy.  “It is odd though.  Why would Snake miss his own sister’s performance?  It’s not like his blind status would prohibit him from finding the gym.”

“Hey, Clover, it’s okay.”  Lotus soothed, rubbing the girl’s shoulders.  “Snake’s probably just oversleeping.  I bet he’ll come through those doors right when you start your performance.”

“…You think so?”  Clover turned her head hopefully towards Lotus, who smiled and nodded.

“Trust me, he’ll show up.  And if he does miss the performance, you can let him have it whenever he does show up.”

That’s…probably not the best thing to say…  Kiki thought, sweatdropping.

“…Where are Kirumi and Ryoma, anyway?”  Sokyu muttered, glancing around at the others.  “If Teruaki and I are here, then Ryoma doesn’t really have any excuse.  And Kirumi put considerable effort in the preparations, so it’s surprising that she’s absent too.”

Kiki frowned, realizing He’s right, where are they?  They’re gonna miss all of Clover’s hard work!  I hope nothing ha-

“Okay!”  Lotus clapped, interrupting Kiki’s thoughts and getting the crowd’s attention.  “We’re a few people short, but welcome to our magic show!”

“Clover, are you a bit…nervous?”  Shuichi asked as the young girl bit her lip.

“J-J-J-Just a little bit!”  Clover stammered.

Certainly doesn’t look like just a little bit.  Kiki deadpanned.  Well, I can’t really blame her.  It’s not like she’s a professional magician.  The fact that she’s practiced enough to try it for real after a day is already impressive!

“The magic I’ll be performing today is the Extreme Water Magic, Underwater Escape Act.  Apparently, it’s pretty difficult, so I’m a little nervous.”

Then why are you starting with that as your first magic trick?  Shouldn’t your first trick be something that’s a lot safer to mess up?!

“A-And…today…in order to raise the stakes…”  Everyone followed Clover’s wandering eyes to the tank’s clock.  “There’s a time limit…If I don’t escape from the tank within the time limit, piranhas will be dropped in…I’ll be pureed.”

“Pureed!?”  Shuichi exclaimed in shock.

Ironic, considering she wanted to avoid being in the same water as the piranhas during our sleepover.  “Ano, Lotus…”  Kiki frowned worriedly as she glanced up at the packed piranha tank.  “Don’t you think this is a little dangerous?”

“Yeah, I gotta agree.”  Seven concurred, shaking his head.  “Piranhas are way too dangerous…I know this show is meant to bring us closer together, but if it gets you killed in the process, it’s not worth it.”

“Gonta agrees!  Gonta doesn’t want you to become fish food, Clover!”

“No need to worry.”  Lotus giggled.  “Clover’s been working her butt off to perfect this performance, wo the odds of her becoming a piranha snack are extremely slim.”

“Well, I can’t say that I love the idea, but if they insist that they’re prepared, I suppose we have no choice but to trust their judgment.”  Ace sighed.

“Clover…are you sure…?”  Kiki asked worriedly before Clover weakly nodded.

“There’s…no way I can stop now.  If this helps to stave off Monokuma…even just for a little while…then I have to do it.”

“Excellent, now then, let’s begin.”  Lotus suggested before Clover followed her to the nearby ladder.

Everyone watched nervously as the equally nervous girl climbed up the ladder and onto the tank.  Lotus meanwhile grinned as she outstretched her arms, exuding excitement and jubilance.

“Thank you for being with us today.  I present to you the fortunate, blessed, The Lucky Clover!”

Clover trembled as she stammered, “Th-The magic I will perform today is the Extreme Water Magic…U-U-Underwater…Escape Act…”

Ignoring Clover’s anxiety, Lotus directed “If you would please turn your attention to the water tank in front of you!”  She took out a remote and pointed it to the digital clock.  “When the timer above the stage starts, Clover will enter the water tank.  Once she’s in the tank, her assistant - me! - will draw the curtain in front of the tank.  After 60 seconds have passed on the timer…A separate, suspended tank will open and drop in a school of piranhas!  Oh my goodness!”

“So this is only gonna last si-sixty seconds?  L-lame…”  Teruaki grumbled, earning him a glare from Kiki.

Brevity is the least of our worries!  I’m more afraid of what happens after those piranhas fall in.

“After the piranhas have fallen, and the curtain is opened…”  Lotus continued.  “If, by some miracle, Clover has been gobbled up, please give a big round of applause!”  Clover gulped fearfully, causing Lotus to roll her eyes and giggle.  “Just kidding.  It’s a joke.”

“…I’m concerned about Clover.”  Ace admitted.  “She is not responding properly to Lotus’s jokes.”

Gonta meanwhile hummed pensively, crossing his arms over his chest.  “Gonta’s worried…Gonta has a bad feeling…”

Me too, Gonta.  Me too…  Kiki bit her lip nervously.

“Well then, let’s begin…”  Clover uttered nervously.  “The Lucky Clover’s Magic Show!”

At that moment, Lotus pressed a button on the remote, setting the timer.  Clover meanwhile took a deep breath and dove headfirst into the water tank.

“Okay!  I’m closing the curtain!”  Lotus announced as she pressed another button, starting the countdown.

She then pulled the curtain, obscuring the tank and Clover’s shadow from view.  Everyone stared, fidgeting nervously as they waited for Clover to appear.

Please be okay, please be okay…  Kiki prayed as she watched the timer count down. 

Shuichi meanwhile clenched his fists, his palms damp with sweat.  A quick glance showed the others exhibiting similar signs of nervousness.  Some bit their lips, others began to sweat, while more people’s eyes flickered between the tank and other spots in the gym. 

Twenty seconds passed before Kiki noted nervously, “Clover still isn’t out…”

“She went in mere moments ago.”  Shuichi reminded her, though his voice didn’t exactly exude confidence.

“W-Well, do you think she’s alright?”  Kiki asked fearfully, ten more seconds passing without any sign of the young girl.

“Ano…Gonta is starting to worry.”  Gonta bit his lip anxiously as he asked, “Should we do something?”

“Sh-She still hasn’t come out!”  Kiki nearly shrieked.  “Are you sure she’s okay!?”

“G-Gonta can’t take it anymore!”

Everyone stared with widened eyes as Gonta raced to the ladder and swiftly climbed up it.  “Wait…Gonta!?”  Ace gasped as the bug enthusiast climbed on top of the tank.

“Hey, you can’t do that!”  Lotus sharply hissed.  “We’re still in the middle of the show!”

“B-But…if Gonta does nothing, Clover will get eaten by piranhas-Huh?”

Gonta trailed off, staring curiously in the piranha tank before Keebo pointed out “Ano…Less than ten seconds remain…”

“I don’t care if it ruins the trick, just come out!”  Tsumugi shrieked.  “This stress is bad for my heart!”

“Cloooooooooooover!!!”  Kiki called as the buzzer went off and the 00:00 changed to DEATH.

Everyone gasped as the bottom of the piranha tank swung open, allowing the mass of piranhas to fall into the main tank.

“Huh?  Huhhh?”  Gonta finally found his voice after the last of the piranhas fell in.

“Look!  The piranhas!”  Keebo exclaimed, pointing to the tank as everyone ran up to it.

“H-Hurry!”  Kiki demanded frantically.  “The curtains!  Open the curtains already!”

“Alright, alright!”  Lotus sighed, shaking her head.  “I’m opening it now.”

As Lotus pulled back the curtains, everyone’s eyes widened at the sight in front of them.  Clover was nowhere to be found, but a silver-haired boy floated in the middle of the piranhas.  His eyes were closed and his wrists were bound with cuffs. 

Before any of them could process the sight, the piranhas swarmed around him, obscuring the body in a green and crimson tornado.  The clear blue water gradually turned red from the crimson tint of blood.  Only seconds later, the school of fish dispersed, leaving only a skeleton, shreds of fabric, and the metallic pair of cuffs to sink to the bottom of the tank.

All of them blinked, robbed of their voices as their hearts cried out in anguish.  Rather than avert a murder, Clover’s magic show had been where a killer had decided to put their assassination plan into action.  Another helpless victim had joined the ranks of Rantaro and Kaede, leaving the survivors robbed of hope.

No…it can’t be…no…tell me this isn’t happening…  Kiki pleaded, praying to whatever god would listen that this was just a bad dream.  Snake…Snake…SNAAAAAAKE!

Chapter Text

“Hey!”  Koto whined as his father’s hands covered his eyes.

“I can’t see anything!”  Kiri complained as Kyoko covered her daughter’s eyes.

“…Is it safe to let them see now?”  Maki asked as she held her hands over Mokubo’s eyes.

Unlike his siblings, the boy waited patiently until Kyoko reluctantly permitted, “…The worst of it is over.  I suppose it’s safe for them to see.”

Makoto nodded and the three of them let their hands fall.  The twins sighed in excited relief before their eyes widened in shock.

“Wah!  It’s a skeleton!”  Koto exclaimed.

“Who d-died…?”  Kiri stammered.

“…It was Snake.”  As his siblings turned to him for an explanation, he explained “I caught a brief glimpse of his face before Miss Maki covered my eyes.”

“But…why would anyone want to kill Snake?”  Koto wondered as he and his sister stared at the skeleton on the screen.

“I don’t know…”  Makoto admitted.  Why was Snake murdered?  Did someone hold a grudge against him?  Or did one of them have a completely different reason for succumbing to Monokuma’s motive?  Was Monokuma’s motive even at play?

As questions whirled around Makoto’s brain, Kiri asked “And where are Kirumi and Ryoma?  Why aren’t they here yet?  Could they have…?”

Kyoko shook her head.  “It’s unlikely.  Having three participants dead before a trial can be held would reduce the number of times Monokuma can hold a Class Trial.”

Makoto grimaced in agreement.  “Trust me, Monokuma lives for his Class Trials.  He wouldn’t allow for more than two people to be killed by the same person at a time.”

Mokubo nodded in comprehension.  “So, at most, only one more could have feasibly died.”

“…We’ll find out…” 

Kyoko sighed as they turned to the TV.  She bit her lip, anxiety dancing in her eyes as she watched her daughter’s reaction to Snake’s untimely death.

“Snake…”  Kiki gasped, horrified by the sight of the blind man’s corpse.

“Snake!”  Shuichi gasped.

“Snake?!”  Ace cried out in shock, shock and horror coloring his usually calm face.

“Wh-What’s going on?”  Seven demanded, clenching his fists angrily.

“I-I don’t know!”  Keebo shook his head.  “I don’t know what happened!”

All of a sudden, the pattering of feet echoed behind them.  The group slowly turned, watching as Kirumi and Ryoma burst into the gym.  The maid and former tennis pro panted, trying to refill their lungs with air that had been exhausted in their hurry to make it to the magic show.

Kirumi was the first to recover, apologizing as she lifted her head “Apologies, everyone.  Ryoma and I overslept and missed breakfast.  Did we miss the…OH!”

Kirumi gasped in horror, her eyes darting as she covered her mouth with her palm.  Ryoma’s emotions were more restrained, though even he couldn’t keep his eyes from threatening to bulge out of his head in shock at the horrific scene.

“What happened here?”  He finally asked while Kirumi collected herself.

“Th-that’s what we-we’re trying to figure out!”  Teruaki exclaimed, stammering nervously.

“Yeah, why did Clover’s magic show…where is Clover, anyway?”  Gonta wondered.

“Hey?!”  Everyone turned their attention to the curtain, watching as Clover walked out from behind the partition.  “What’s with all the commotion…”  Clover trailed off as she turned her head, her eyes widening and her face going pale at the sight of the skeleton at the bottom of the now blood-filled tank.  “EEEEEK!  Why is there a skeleton in the tank?!”

*Ding Dong Bing Bong*

Everyone reluctantly turned their heads to the nearby monitor, staring grimly as Monokuma’s recording appeared on it.  “A body has been discovered!  After a certain amount of time, which you may use however you like, the Class Trial will begin!”

No way…!  Kiki thought, horrified as the screen turned black once more.  We have to do that horrible thing again?!

“Hey, nobody’s answered my question!”  Clover demanded “Why is there a dead body in the tank?  And who are they?!”

Lotus sighed, walking up to Clover with dead seriousness in her eyes.  She rested her hands firmly on Clover’s shoulders and sighed, “…Clover…I don’t know how he got there…but the skeleton in the tank…is Snake’s.”

“S-Snake?!”  Tears pooled in Clover’s eyes before she scowled and brushed Lotus’s hands aside.  She then ran up to the tank and began to bang on it with her fists, crying “No!  It can’t be true!  Light can’t be dead!  Light, that’s not you, right?!”  Clover shook her head, unwilling to believe that the skeleton inside the tank was her brother.  “Please, tell me this is one big joke!  Light?!  LIGHT?!”

“Hey, Clover, calm down!”  Lotus nearly yelled as she wrapped her arms around the crying girl and pulled her away from the tank.  “Snake is…”  Lotus’s eyes softened just a bit, her maternal instincts making her want to soften the blow as much as she could.  “We saw him floating in the tank before he got devoured by the piranhas.”

“No, this can’t be…no…NOOOOOO!”  Clover sobbed into Lotus’s chest, causing the woman to sigh as she awkwardly rubbed the girl’s back.


Kiki’s heart went out to the girl who had just had her older brother ripped away from her.  Her mind drifted to her family shown on her motive video. 

I…I can almost imagine how she’s feeling.  I can’t say I’d be calm either if I discovered my brother’s skeleton.

“We should break the tank.”  The others turned towards Sokyu who explained, “We gotta check what’s inside.”

“Wha-?  Break it?”  Tsumugi gasped, only for Sokyu to nod.

“It’ll take too long to drain it by hand.”

“But what would we even use to break-?”  Shuichi began, only to be cut off by Seven.

“I’ll help.  Gonta, Keebo, we’re up.”

“Huh?”  Keebo exclaimed in shock.  “What do you mean, we’re up?”

Ignoring Keebo, Seven explained “Gonta, we’re gonna throw Keebo as hard as we can!  Let’s use that robot like a battering ram!”

“Who are you calling a battering ram!?”  Keebo demanded indignantly before he found both of his arms in the unbreakable holds of Gonta and Seven.

“Gonta will throw Keebo.  Got it.”

“N-Now wait just a second.”  Keebo tried to bargain his way out of the current situation, as his thrashing did no good against their superior strength.  “You don’t need to team up now-AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!”

Keebo screamed as Gonta and Seven threw him directly into the middle of the tank.  The glass shattered, shards scattering all over the floor and the bottom of the tank.  Water flooded out, carrying with it the piranhas and Snake’s remains.  The carnivorous fish and Snake’s bones scattered haphazardly all over the gym floor.  Keebo coughed as he struggled to get to his feet, glaring at Gonta and Seven.

“We should start by organizing the former contents of the tank.”  Kirumi suggested before Keebo could start a fight.  “The piranhas need to be gathered so that they’re not flopping everywhere, and we need to get the glass shards cleaned up so we don’t accidentally cut ourselves.”

Shuichi nodded in agreement.  “Ah, but let’s not disturb the crime scene any more than necessary.”

Kiki nodded.  “Yeah, good idea, Shuichi.”  She sighed “Alright, let’s get to work.  Lotus, can you help Clover calm down while the rest of us clean up the gym?”

Lotus nodded and resumed rubbing Clover’s back, a motherly glow in her eyes as she tended to the grieving girl.

“Well…at least Kirumi and Ryoma are safe…”  Makoto pointed out, though it didn’t bring them much comfort.

“…But did they really oversleep?”

Everyone stared at Mokubo before Maki asked, “…Do you think they lied?”

“I…can’t say for certain.”  The heterochromatic boy admitted with a sigh.  “It just…seems a little suspicious, that’s all.”

Kyoko nodded before commenting, “Well, I’m sure the mystery of their disappearances will be resolved during the investigation or trial.  For now, they need to focus on starting the investigation into Snake’s death.”

“Poor Clover…”  Kiri’s eyes drooped in sorrow.

“Poor Snake…”  Koto mumbled.  “Eaten by piranhas…that’s such an awful way to go…”

Their parents nodded in agreement as they turned their attention back to the screen  They watched as the survivors finished their cleanup of the crime scene.

“I’ve…gathered Snake’s body and belongings…in one place.”

Kiki frowned at Keebo’s despondent tone.  Keebo looks depressed…He was just used as a battering ram, so I understand why.

“He’s been reduced such that he can be carried in one hand…”  Ace muttered, sighing as he shook his head.  “How fleeting and fragile life is…”

“I’ve cleaned up the glass shards and placed them in a pile in the corner of the tank.”  Kirumi gestured to a far corner of the bloodied tank, a small mountain of red-stained shards sitting neatly.

“Gonta put the piranhas in a bucket.”  Gonta gritted his teeth and bowed his head, closing his eyes sadly as he did so.  “Piranhas all got big tummies.  Gonta thinks they’re full.”

“I can’t believe Snake became fish food…”  Ryoma muttered, causing Tsumugi’s face to flush green.

“D-Don’t say such things…”

“Clover, are you okay?”  Kiki asked hesitantly as Clover bit her lip, her tears having since dried.

“This…wasn’t an accident, was it?”  Kirumi reluctantly asked.  “Does this mean…the killing game has started again?”

“H-How…!?”  Teruaki stammered.  “How…could this happen!?  We…swore to each other, didn’t we?  We swore we’d never let the killing game start up again.”  Teruaki gritted his teeth, narrowing his eyes as he pointed wildly at the others.  “So that was all just a lie!  You guys are all liars!”

“Teruaki, calm down!”  Kiki cried as she swallowed her own anguish in favor of trying to keep the peace.  “We don’t know anything that happened yet!  We’ve just gotta stay calm so we can figure this out!  Right, Shuichi?”

Kiki turned in surprise after she failed to hear Shuichi’s words of encouragement.  He averted his eyes, seeming to duck under his hat as he bit his lip.

“Sh…Shuichi?  What’s wrong, Shuichi…?”

“Hey guys!”  Everyone turned to see the gym doors fly open, revealing a gleeful Monokuma as he strolled in.  “How’s it feel now that you’ve got a second murder victim on your hands?”  He then cocked his head, seemingly confused as he laid his eyes on Snake’s skeleton.  “…Huh?  Snake’s transparent?  Has my x-ray vision superpower finally awakened?”

“Wait, could you be a bear from the planet Krypton?”  Tsumugi inquired, causing the others to sweatdrop.

“There’s no way he has superpowers!”  Seven exclaimed.

“…Oh, that’s right, I don’t!  That just means he was reduced to a skeleton.  Finally!  I’ve been waiting for the killing game to start up again!”

“…Killing Game…?”  Clover gritted her teeth and turned her head, scowling and glaring at Monokuma.  “My brother’s dead because of your killing game!”

“…And?  That’s how the killing game’s supposed to go!  It’s not knowing who killed who that makes it so exciting!”

“How dare you call my brother’s death exciting!”  Clover nearly shouted, her eyes burning with fury.  “Take that back, you-”

“Hey!  This conversation is really riveting and all, but we should really get this over with!”  Lotus interjected, cutting Clover off.  “Don’t we need to start investigating or something?”


“We’re not going to get anywhere shouting at Monokuma.” 

She glared at Clover, silencing the distraught girl.  Lotus’s eyes softened, sighing apologetically.

“I know you’re angry, scared, confused.  So are the rest of us, but the only way we’ll get justice for Snake is by finding his killer.”  Clover bit her lip but relented, sighing in defeat.  “Alright, now give us what we need to start the investigation.”

“You mean the Monokuma File, right!?”  Monokuma tossed thirteen tablets into the air, causing the survivors to scramble and catch them.  “I also investigated the cause of death this time, so read it to your heart’s delight.”

It’s a start, at least…  Kiki thought grimly.  At least now we’ll be able to narrow down how Snake died.

“Alright, no more hints!  The rest is up to you!  Make sure you do your best!”

Everyone watched as Monokuma sauntered out of the gym, a malicious grin stretching from ear to ear.  “In any event…let us begin the investigation.”  Ace sighed.

“Investigation…So it’s really going to start again.”  Keebo grimaced as Tsumugi’s eyes lowered.  “I can’t believe it…One of us killed Snake…”

Someone among us…

“No more…”  Gonta shook his head, interrupting Kiki’s thoughts.  “Gonta doesn’t wanna investigate friends…not wanna suspect friends…”

“Gonta, I don’t want to do this either!”  Kiki exclaimed before she turned to the still despondent detective.  “But we have Shuichi on our side.  You’ll see!  He’ll crack this case wide open and…”


“Huh?”  Kiki’s eyes widened incredulously as Shuichi shook his head fervently.

“No…no more…I don’t want to investigate anymore!”

Everyone’s eyes seemed to widen as they digested Shuichi’s words.  “But…Shuichi-”

“The last time I put faith in my detective skills, Kaede died!”  Tears trickled down his cheeks as he cried, “I don’t want anyone else to die because of me!”

“That seems…rather irresponsible.”  Keebo commented.

“Shuichi…”  Kiki gasped.  “Shuichi…I know how you feel, but we need to-”

“No!  I’m not gonna investigate, and that’s final!  You do what you want, but I’m not taking part in any more investigations!”

“Shuichi, wait!”  Kiki called out as Shuichi barreled out of the gym, though her outstretched hand grasped nothing but air as he vanished from sight.

“Well…we’re doomed…”  Lotus deadpanned.

“Coward…”  Clover spat.  “My brother’s been murdered and he doesn’t wanna help because he’s scared?!  We’re all scared!”

“Clover, that’s not fair!”  Kiki retorted before her eyes drooped towards the floor.  I know how he feels, though.  I don’t want to do this anymore than he does…but we can’t just sit here and do nothing.  Besides…we need Shuichi’s skills!  How are we supposed to solve the mystery without him?!

“They’re r-right though…”  Teruaki muttered.  “How are we gonna solve this mystery without a pr-professional detective?”

“I hate to say it, but they’re right.”  Ryoma concurred.  “We solved Kaede’s crime because of Shuichi’s legwork.  How are we gonna conduct an investigation when our only professional is out of commission?”

Kiki watched as everyone muttered despondent thoughts, growing less and less confident of their chances of survival with each passing second.  She shut her eyes and clenched her fists in frustration.

We need someone to lead the investigation…but Shuichi won’t do it, so who will…?  Wait…no, that’s crazy…but…this whole situation we’re in is crazy.  Shikata wa nai…  “…I’ll do it…”  Everyone turned to stare incredulously at Kiki, whose now open eyes were blazing with determination.  “I’ll lead the investigation in Shuichi’s place.”

“You…?”  Sokyu raised an eyebrow in surprise.

“Yes, me.  Is that a problem?”

“Kiki, I don’t mean to insult your capabilities, but last time, you just followed whatever Kaede and Shuichi did.”  Lotus pointed out.  “Do you really think you’re cut out for this kind of thing?”

“…No, no I don’t.”  Kiki admitted.  “There are probably a billion people out there more qualified to lead an investigation.  But we don’t have a ton of options right now.  Our lives are all at stake, and I made a promise to Kaede that I’d do everything I could to make sure as many of us got out alive as possible.  So…I’m going to do my best to lead this investigation!  I’m going to need all of your help though.  So please…help me to uncover the truth, so we can avenge Snake and focus on getting out of here!”

“…Very well.”  Kirumi smiled as she stepped forward, resting her hand on top of Kiki’s clenched fist.  “I shall do what I can to aid in your request.”

“Me too!”  Clover tore herself away from Lotus’s embrace and ran up to Kiki, placing her own hand on top of Kirumi’s.  “If it’s for avenging my brother’s death, I’ll do everything I can to help.”

“I admire your spirit, kid.”  Lotus smirked and placed her hand on top of Clover’s.  “I’ll see what I can do to help.”

“Hahaha!”  Seven laughed as he joined his hand.  “For once I agree with the exhibitionist grandma.  I’ll help however I can!” 

A vein pulsed in Lotus’s forehead, but she held her tongue as Ace joined in.  “Very well, I’ll see how I can aid in the investigation.”

“Hmph.”  Ryoma sighed as he walked up, resting his hand on the pile.  “I already said I didn’t plan to survive to the end…but as long as I’m still alive…I suppose I’ll use my remaining time to help everyone else survive.”

“Logically, the proper course of action would be to cooperate in the investigation.”  Keebo grinned as he rested his mechanical hand on the top.  “So, if my robotic functions can aid in finding Snake’s killer, then I’ll utilize all of my programming to do so!”

“It’s a true gentleman’s duty to help those in need.”  Gonta’s eyes sparkled as he rested his hand on top of everyone else’s.

“Alright, then.”  Tsumugi smiled as she approached the group and joined with her own hand.  “It’ll be much easier to win if we have a full party, and with Shuichi out for the count, I’ll just have to work extra hard for everyone!”

“Well…it’s n-not like I have any other o-options…”  Teruaki reluctantly muttered before he joined the team.

As everyone stared expectantly at Sokyu, he sighed “Oh, what the hell?  It’s not like we have anything to lose.”  He approached the group and placed his hand on top, his golden ring glimmering with their shared hope.

Kiki narrowed her eyes as they all raised their hands up towards the sky.  “Alright, let’s do this, everyone!”  INVESTIGATION START!

“…She’s just like her father…”  Kyoko smirked wryly at her husband.  “Rallying everyone together when they need a leader the most.”

Makoto chuckled, scratching his cheek.  “Hey, you were the brains behind our little group.  I just…did what I could to keep our spirits up.”

“Indeed…that’s what they need right now.  Someone to keep them together and working in unison as they investigate.”  Kyoko’s lips drooped into a frown as she lamented, “I just hope whatever memory suppression she was subjected to hasn’t affected her detective instincts, especially with Shuichi refusing to participate.”

Makoto elbowed his wife with a teasing grin.  “Yours weren’t, so they should be okay.”  Makoto grimaced as he lamented, “I am worried about Shuichi though.  I guess his amnesia made hm forget all the progress he made with his self-confidence.”

“That’s no excuse!”  Kiri objected.

“Yeah, Kiki’s doing her best and he just ran away!”  Koto crossed his arms over his chest and pouted.  “I can’t believe we thought he’d be right for Kiki!”

“Koto, Kiri, lay off.”  Makoto glared softly at his youngest children.  “This can’t be easy for Shuichi.  He lost one of the women he loved.  I can’t really blame him for wanting to run away.”

Kyoko nodded as she too glared softly at her children.  “You’ve never been in his shoes, and for your sake, I hope you never do.  Am I making myself clear?”

“…Hai…”  Koto and Kiri muttered.

“…Baka-tachi…”  Mokubo muttered under his breath as he shook his head.

“It looks like they’re about to begin the investigation in earnest.”  Maki gestured to the TV screen.  “Let’s see how your daughter fares in her new role as lead investigator.”

Chapter Text

Well, here goes…  Kiki took a deep breath and turned on the Monokuma File, scanning the tablet for information.  “The victim is Light Field, AKA Snake.  The body was discovered in the gym.  The cause of death was drowning.  His body was consumed by piranhas until only bones remained.  No other injuries can be confirmed at this time.”

“What?”  Lotus complained “There’s less written here than before.”

“I’ve got a b-bad feeling about t-this…”  Teruaki muttered, his lips curling into a scowl.

Kiki grimaced in agreement.  “The time of death isn’t written here…”


Sokyu glanced curiously at the amateur investigator before she explained “The previous Monokuma File indicated Rantaro’s time of death, right?”  The Monokuma File in her hands briefly changed to the one for Rantaro’s murder before she shook the bittersweet memory from her mind.  Focus, Kiki!  This is no time for your eyes to be playing tricks on you!  “But the Monokuma File this time doesn’t indicate a time of death.”

“Did Monokuma mess up!?”  Clover demanded, scowling in rage.

“No…I think it’s safe to say that this omission was intentional.”  Kirumi deduced.

Kiki’s brow furrowed as she mused, Why would that information be hidden from us?  What would be unfair about it…?  Suddenly, her eyes sparkled in realization.  “Monokuma told us that he wouldn’t give us any information that would reveal the culprit.”

“That is most likely correct.  This would imply that the time of death would eliminate too many suspects for Monokuma’s liking, hence why it was omitted from the Monokuma File.”

“So that means the key to this case is the time of death!”  Kiki exclaimed excitedly.  “Nice deduction, Kirumi!”

Kirumi smiled in amusement, shaking her head.  “I am merely fulfilling my promise to aid in the investigation.  Speaking of which…”

“Where are you going?”  Keebo inquired as Kirumi turned around.

“I am going to see if I can persuade Shuichi to participate.  Perhaps once he sees how hard everyone else is working, he will feel inspired to overcome his mental blocks and help.”

“Ah, I see.  Well, I’m not sure how much good it’ll do, but do what you think you have to.”  Lotus replied, causing Kirumi to nod.

“Then I wish you luck in your investigation.  I shall see the rest of you at the Class Trial.”

“Yeah, see you there, Kirumi.  Good luck.”  Kiki waved, causing Kirumi to acknowledge her with a soft smile.

“You as well, Kiki.”

As she walked out of the gym, Kiki’s eyes widened in sudden remembrance.  Crap, I totally forgot to ask Kirumi what happened before they came in the gym.  I don’t want to suspect her, but I can’t deny that her and Ryoma’s disappearance is suspicious. 

The heterochromatic girl glanced to the former tennis pro.  The boy kept largely to himself, watching as the others conversed about their hypotheses.

Well, I guess as long as Ryoma’s here, I can just ask him.  Though first, I should investigate Snake’s body…or what’s left of it, at any rate.

Kiki gulped, shaking the nerves out of her head before she walked over to the collected remains that once belonged to the blind boy.  Her knees wobbled as she knelt in front of the corpse.

Okay, other than the time of death, there’s one more thing in the Monokuma File that catches my eye…Snake’s cause of death.  It says drowning.  But if that’s the case…We might be able to crack the case from there…but first I need to inspect Snake’s bones and belongings.

Kiki slowly approached the tank, kneeling reverently in front of Snake’s skeleton.  Her eyes drooped, her lip quivering with sorrow.

Snake’s body is nothing more than a skeleton now.  Not even a shadow of what he was…  “But just his bones don’t corroborate the Monokuma File’s cause of death…hm?”  Kiki started sifting through the bones before she exclaimed, “Hey, what happened to Snake’s left arm?”

“Hm?  What do you mean?”

Kiki turned her head to see Lotus and a slightly more composed Clover approach her.  The distraught girl wiped her eyes on her sleeve as she asked, “What do you mean, what happened to Snake’s left arm?”

“W-well…All of Snake’s bones are here…except for his left arm.  It’s completely missing.”

“Hmph, maybe the piranhas ate that one too.”  Lotus postulated.  “They did eat all the flesh after all.  Who’s to say that one of them didn’t get a little hungrier and chomp his left arm to bits too?”

Kiki bit her lip, furrowing her brow as she mulled over Lotus’s words.  No, that can’t be it.  If the piranhas ate bones, we wouldn’t even have a skeleton to investigate.  But if that’s true, then why is only the left arm missing…?

“Wait…”  Kiki glanced towards Clover, who asked, “Was there anything metal in the tank?”

“Well…I remember seeing the handcuffs on his wrists…but we should double check the tank just to be sure.  It did happen pretty fast.”

“Alright, let’s go check out the tank…”  A reluctant Clover muttered as Kiki stood up.

“Did you guys really need to break the glass?”  Lotus asked with clear disgust on her face, shaking her foot.  “Everything’s soaked now.”

“Well, if we had left Snake’s body there, we wouldn’t have been able to investigate.”  Kiki pointed out, causing Lotus to sigh.

“I guess it woulda taken way too long to just empty the whole tank with a bucket.”

“It was a lot of clean up…but at least we can investigate the tank now.”

“There might be a clue around here.  Let’s take a closer look.”  Clover sighed.

“Yeah, you’re right.”  The three of them stepped inside the tank, glass shards cracking under their feet as they glanced around the glass boundaries.  The fragments of the broken glass water tank have been piled up.  There are so many tiny pieces…Gonta and Seven certainly didn’t hold back when they threw Keebo at the glass.  Because we broke the glass, there isn’t much of anything left in the tank.  But I should investigate the area thoroughly.  There’s bound to be something.  “Hm?”

Kiki’s eyes centered on a large rectangular prism of glass sitting flat on the bottom of the tank.  Curious, she cautiously approached it, fiddling with her braid.

“There’s a square pane of glass at the bottom of the water tank…”

“So what?”  Clover questioned, fiddling with her fingers.  “It probably just landed there when Keebo collided with the side of the tank.”

Kiki shook her head.  “It doesn’t look like a broken piece.  The other fragments are far more random than this.”

“Ah, I see.”  Lotus mused “It would be nearly impossible for the broken water tank to produce such a perfect square of glass.”

“Then what exactly is this pane?”  Clover interrogated, a hint of frustration and anger bleeding into her voice.

“I’m not sure…”  Kiki admitted.  “But I have a feeling it’s important to solving the mystery.”  She stood up and sighed, “Come on, let’s investigate the rest of the tank.  We need to check and see if there’s anything metal in here.”

“Well, we were right.”  Lotus concluded as she held up a pair of metallic handcuffs.  “It looks like Snake was wearing handcuffs when he died.”

“Can I see them, Lotus?”

“Sure, go ahead.  I’ll keep looking around the tank.”  Lotus decided as she tossed the cuffs to Kiki.

The heterochromatic girl held them close to her eyes, which narrowed as she inspected the cuffs from every angle.  “Hm…”  She hummed as Clover tried to peer from her side.

“Do you see anything?”

“Well…they’re still locked…And there are small scratches on them.”  Kiki observed.  “I don’t know what they’re made of, but they don’t feel that hard.  It probably wouldn’t be that hard to scratch them.  They must have been scraping against something hard or sharp.”

Clover’s eyes narrowed, focusing on the metal cuffs before her eyes widened in realization.  “Wait…I’ve seen those cuffs before!”


Clover nodded.  “The day we got here, Snake and I investigated the Warehouse, and one of the things we found was a box filled with handcuffs, just like this one.”

Kiki frowned as she realized, That means anyone could have taken them…these won’t be useful in narrowing down any suspects.  Still…if Snake’s cause of death was drowning, and something happened that caused these cuffs he was wearing to scratch…maybe there will be some evidence showing where he was drowned!

“Hey, girls!”  Kiki and Clover turned to see Lotus approaching them, rubbing the back of her head.  “Sorry, but I couldn’t find anything else made of metal in this tank.”

“Nothing…?”  Clover asked before Lotus shook her head.  “That means…”  Clover’s eyes seemed to blaze as she exclaimed, “That means my brother’s left arm wasn’t eaten!”

Kiki and Lotus’s eyes widened in shock before the elder woman demanded, “Hey!  How could you possibly know that from just the absence of metal?”

“Because…on the day that Snake lost his sight…he also lost his left arm…”

“N-Nani?!”  They exclaimed before Clover nodded.

“Snake got banged up really bad in the car accident we were in.  In order to save his life, the doctors had to amputate his left arm and give him a prosthetic one.”

“I see…so that’s why you asked if there was any other metal in the tank.”  Lotus realized as Clover nodded.  “I didn’t even realize his left arm was fake.”

“Yeah, it’s not something he likes to talk about…anyway, if his left arm was eaten, then there’d be scraps of metal left behind.  But since this tank is clean, then there’s no way that the piranhas ate his left arm.”

But still…  Kiki pondered.  If it wasn’t eaten, then why isn’t it here?  Where did the culprit dispose of it?  Or…did they even dispose of it at all?  We have to find that arm; it’ll probably prove where Snake was drowned!  Taking one last glance around the tank, Kiki suggested “Why don’t we investigate the rest of the gym?  I think we’ve found everything we’ll find inside the tank.”

“Sure, come on, Clover.”  Lotus agreed as she nudged Clover out of the tank, taking care to step over the shards of glass beneath their feet.

As Kiki followed them, she changed directions and knelt back in front of Snake’s skeleton.

“Maybe his belongings will give some kind of hint.”  Kiki’s eyes glanced to the right, focusing on the scraps of Snake’s clothes and his other miscellaneous belongings that the piranhas had spared.  Snake’s belongings are all gathered together.  What’s left of his clothes, his e-Handbook, the key to his room…

Kiki gasped, covering her palm with her hand.  Her eyes widened in realization as the gears in her head began to turn.

“That’s it!  If I use this key, I can investigate Snake’s room!  At the very least, I can find out what was on Snake’s motive recording.  I don’t know if it played a role in his death, but I should check, just in case.”  To be honest, I’m not looking forward to finding out.  After all…  Kiki closed her eyes, the memory of her family in her motive video flashing in her mind before she forced herself to open her eyes and shake the memory away.  …if his motive was anything like mine, someone could have taken advantage of it.

Forcing herself to focus, she picked up the room key before she reached for the scraps of dark-pink fabric.  She stared at them as she opened her fist, inspecting them in the palm of her hand.

“These don’t look like Snake’s normal clothes…so, what are they?”

“Maybe those are Snake’s pajamas.”  Kiki stood up, turning around as Lotus walked up to her.

“Oh, Lotus.  How’s Clover holding up?”

“Considering the circumstances, as well as we can expect her to be.”  Lotus glanced over her shoulder at Clover, who seemed to be fiddling with her hands again.  “Anyway, you said the clothes Snake was wearing weren’t his regular clothes?”

Kiki nodded and held out the scraps.  “Yeah, the color’s completely off, and Snake’s always worn much fancier clothes, almost like a prince.”

“Let me see those…”  Lotus took a scrap, rubbing her fingers on it as she squinted her eyes.  “Yeah, these feel too soft to be day clothes.  I’d say they’re definitely pajamas.”

So if Snake was wearing these when he was killed…that definitely means he was drowned during nighttime.  Kiki realized.   “So assuming these were Snake’s pajamas…”

“Th-those aren’t S-Snake’s pa-pajamas…”  Both women turned to see Teruaki hesitantly walking over, averting his eyes.  “They-they’re m-m-mine…”

“Wait, they’re yours?!”  Kiki exclaimed in shock as her eyes widened.

Lotus scowled and demanded “Hey!  What do you mean they’re yours?  Why was Snake wearing your pajamas?!”

“H-he came by my room the other night.”  Teruaki stammered.  “He said th-that the pajamas he was given were a l-little small, and a-asked if I could loan him a pa-pair of mine.”

“He asked to borrow your pajamas?”  Kiki asked curiously, furrowing her brow.

“Y-yeah.  M-Monokuma gave us p-plenty, so I figured it’d be e-easier so he’d l-leave!  So, I gave him a pair of my pa-pajamas to try, he changed in my ba-bathroom, and then he l-left.  And that was the la-last I saw of him.”

“So, Snake left your room wearing your pajamas…”  Lotus mused, resting her chin atop her fist as she bit her lip in contemplation.

…Is that even significant though…?  Kiki wondered.  Does the pajamas’ owner have anything to do with the murder?

“Wh-whatever…”  Teruaki muttered.  “I told you everything I know, so I’m l-leaving now…”

As Teruaki turned and walked away, Lotus closed her eyes.  She hummed, causing Kiki to stare curiously at her until her eyes opened with a blaze of realization.  She then leaned in Kiki’s ear, causing her eyes to widen.

“…Meet me in the library after you finish investigating the gym.  I’m gonna follow up on another lead.”

“…The library?”  Kiki’s brow furrowed as Lotus walked away.  “What’s in the library?”  She pondered before she shook the thought away.  “I can worry about that later.  Right now, I still have to investigate the rest of the gym.”

She glanced towards the other side of the tank and walked over to the blue bucket Gonta had placed.  She felt her stomach churn as her face turned a nauseous green color.

It’s a bucket…full of piranhas.  Gonta said that he picked up all the piranhas and put them here.

“When I think that Snake is inside their stomachs, I don’t even feel like eating them…”  Seven muttered as he approached.

“…Why would you even consider eating them in the first place?”  Whatever humor Kiki would have felt from Seven’s remark died as she saw Clover flinch.  Poor Clover…  Kiki thought sadly.  She can’t even grieve before we have to solve her brother’s death.  Kiki clenched her fists and gritted her teeth.  Damn, why does she have to suffer like this…

“…Something was weird about those piranhas…”

Kiki’s eyes widened as she turned towards Clover, shaken out of her thoughts.  “…What are you talking about?”

“Well, I noticed it right as the show started…it looked like there were more piranhas today than yesterday when Lotus and I were preparing.”

“More piranhas?”  Kiki wondered with a surprised tone.

“What, did they multiply overnight?”  Seven wondered.  “There’s no way they could reproduce that fast.”

“I know that, genius!”  Clover angrily retorted.  “But, compared to yesterday…the piranhas looked super crammed into that tank.”

So they looked more crammed together…  Kiki mused.

“But the water was really murky, so I couldn’t tell how many more piranhas there were…But anyway, it was super super super super super crammed.”

More piranhas than yesterday…there might be something to that.  Filing the thought away for later, Kiki stood up and glanced around.  Let’s see…is there anything else about the tank I should check out before I move on…  “Hm?”  Curious, she walked over to the curtain, sticking her hand in the partition.  “Is there anything suspicious about this curtain…?  When Clover was performing her escape, this was closed to prevent us from seeing.”

Kiki hummed, inspecting the curtain closely with her narrowed eyes.  At last, she sighed and shook her head.

“I don’t see anything suspicious about it.  Still, given where Snake was found, it’s likely that the culprit knew the secret behind Clover’s trick and took advantage of it.  If so…then I should investigate behind this curtain and see if the culprit left any clues here.”

With that, Kiki walked behind the curtain, observing a hidden grey and yellow staircase that extended from the floor to the stage.  Her eyes wandered downwards and spotted a small puddle of water leaking from the bottom of the staircase into an empty space.

“It looks to me like these stairs had something to do with Clover’s magic trick.”  She mused.  “Maybe there’s some kind of hidden door that connects the stairs to the tank.  That would have allowed Clover to avoid the piranhas once the timer reached zero.”  Kiki sighed and shook her head.  “But that still doesn’t point to who the culprit might be…huh?”

Kiki knelt down, picking up a pair of black gloves with silver rings attached to the backs of them that laid in the puddle.  Kiki’s brow furrowed as she began to inspect them, feeling the gears turn in her head.

Where have I seen these before?  They seem vaguely familiar, but…  Kiki’s eyes widened as she almost dropped the gloves.  No…no way!  But if that’s true, then…  With a heavy sigh, Kiki pocketed the gloves and stood up.  No, something about this doesn’t feel right.  I can’t put my finger on it…but something just feels…off…  “Well, I’ve investigated everything about the tank.”  Kiki lamented as she stepped out of the curtain.  “I should inspect the top of the stage too…but how am I gonna get up there…?”

“Will this help?”

Kiki turned and smiled gratefully as Gonta carried two ladders over to the side of the tank.  “Gonta thought we should investigate the piranha tank too, so Gonta brought a second ladder so we could reach it.”

“Thank you, Gonta.  This is gonna be a great help!”  Kiki beamed as Gonta smiled bashfully

He rubbed the back of his head once he placed the first ladder down.  “Oh, Gonta’s happy to help.”  He mumbled as Kiki began climbing up the first ladder.  “Besides…”  Gonta’s eyes lowered as tears of remorse trickled down his cheeks.  “Gonta coulda saved him…No, Gonta shoulda saved him…”

Without another word, Gonta followed her onto the stage.  Kiki frowned as she asked gently, “Gonta, what’s wrong?”

Once Gonta rested the second ladder below the piranha tank, Gonta lamented “When piranhas attacked Snake…If Gonta had dived into the tank…Then…Gonta coulda helped Snake.  But Gonta got scared.  Too scared to do anything.”  Gonta bowed his head as he cried, “Gonta’s sorry!  Really really sorry!”

“Gonta, it’s not your fault.”  Kiki soothed, resting a comforting hand on his head.  “Even if you had jumped in, they just would have eaten you too.  And from what I read in the Monokuma File, you couldn’t have saved him anyway, Gonta.”

“Huh?”  Gonta gasped, raising his head and wiping his tears on his sleeve.  “Really?  Does it say that in the Monokuma File?”

“You haven’t even read the Monokuma File?”  Kiki and Gonta turned to see Ace climbing up the ladder and on the stage.

Gonta shook his head and explained, “No…Gonta doesn’t really understand it…Gonta isn’t smart enough to be helpful…”

Ace sighed, shaking his head.  “Gonta, I know how you feel, but just because we believe we can’t help, doesn’t mean we should stay silent.  In fact, sometimes we’re able to be the most helpful even if we can’t realize it.”

Kiki nodded in agreement.  “That’s right, Gonta!  You’re a huge help!  There’s some information that only you know, after all.”

“Information…only Gonta knows?”

“Remember?  During the show, you went up on the stage?  That was about…20 seconds before the piranhas dropped, right?”

Gonta exhaled and crossed his arms, biting his lip in contemplation.  “Y-Yeah…Cuz Gonta was worried about Clover…”

“Did you see inside the tank?”  Ace pressed.  “Did you see Clover or Snake?”

A moment passed before Gonta shook his head.  “No, Gonta saw no one in the tank.  Gonta was kinda surprised…”

“But…when the piranhas were dropped and the curtains opened, Snake was in the tank, right?”

“Yeah, that’s right…”

“Then when did Snake get in there?  You didn’t see it happen?”

“Gonta dunno…”  Gonta admitted, gritting his teeth in frustration.  “Everyone saw Snake in the tank when the piranhas dropped in.  After that…”  Gonta shut his eyes as he apologized, “S-Sorry!  Gonta shoulda watched the tank better!”

“Gonta…”  Kiki’s eyes softened, feeling Gonta’s pain as if it were her own.

“But…this is a problem…”  Kiki and Gonta turned to Ace, who muttered, “Now I’m even more stumped.  Even if Clover disappearing was part of the Underwater Escape Act…How did Snake get into the tank?  Was that part of Clover’s trick?”

No, if that was the case, Clover wouldn’t have been so worried about Snake’s absence from the audience.  No, I’m positive that mystery will be an important point of this case…  Kiki’s gaze wandered to the timer on the top of the tank, close to her feet.  This is the timer that was counting down time escape trick…I didn’t realize…it was also a timer to reveal Snake’s body.

Kiki shook her head, refocusing her attention as she looked up at the piranha tank above her head.  She observed the open floor hatch, her brow furrowing at the lack of a lid.

I can see the ceiling straight through.  And only the front side is glass.  The other sides are made of wood.  So the piranha tank had no lid, and only the front was made of glass.  “I…guess we didn’t need the second ladder after all…”  Kiki lamented.

“Oh…Gonta will carry it back down, then.”  Gonta hung his head as he grabbed the ladder and leapt off the stage.

I feel kinda bad for him, but I can’t worry too much about Gonta right now.  I still need to talk to Ryoma about where he and Kirumi were this morning.

Kiki climbed down the ladder and spotted Ryoma standing in a far corner of the gym.  She walked over to him and waved in greeting.

“Hey, Ryoma!”

Ryoma nodded and asked, “What can I help you with?  You need my alibi or something?”

“Well, not an alibi, but I was wondering where you and Kirumi were.”

“Because we didn’t show up for the magic show, right?” 

Kiki reluctantly nodded.  I don’t want to suspect you, but the fact that you didn’t show up until after we found Snake’s body does make you and Kirumi look suspicious…

Ryoma shrugged.  “It’s okay, I know we look the most suspicious.  As for my story…I couldn’t sleep last night, so I went for a walk to clear my head.  I must have felt really exhausted afterwards, cause I completely collapsed.  After I woke up, I ran into Kirumi who told me that we were both late for the magic show.  We rushed as fast as we could, but by the time we got here, you guys had already found Snake’s body.  And that’s everything.”

“Okay…thanks, Ryoma.”  Kiki nodded before Ryoma silently walked away.

Kiki frowned, her brow furrowing as she pondered, Ryoma says he went for a walk and fell asleep afterwards…but is that really everything?  Kiki sighed as she lamented, I guess I’ll have to ask Kirumi to confirm it. 

Kiki took one last glimpse behind her before she walked away from the others.  She took a deep breath, sorting all the clues she had uncovered in her mind.

I should go seek her out; I’ve investigated everything in the gym anyway.  Maybe she’ll have coaxed Shuichi out of wherever he ran off to.  I’m doing my best, but we could really use his help.  And I should meet up with Lotus, too.  Maybe she uncovered a clue that’ll be crucial in cracking this case.  Plus, I should check to see what places in the school were practical to drown someone in, and Snake’s room for his motive recording.  Maybe there’ll be a clue in those places that’ll help us ensnare the culprit.

With her objectives now set, Kiki walked out of the gym, hopeful that she’d be able to gather enough clues to crack the case of Snake’s death.

“So?  Who is it?!”

Koto and Kiri stared expectantly at Kyoko.  She and her husband sweatdropped, unsure of exactly what to tell them. 

Eventually, Makoto cleared his throat and answered, “Well…it’s a little too early to tell yet.”

“Nani?!”  Koto’s eyes widened in disappointed shock as Kiri pouted.

“I thought detectives were supposed to be good at this stuff, and wasn’t Mom the Ultimate Detective?”

Makoto scratched his cheek as he explained, “Well, she may have been good at her job, but she’s not like a superhero from an anime.”  Even if that’s exactly how I felt sometimes…  “She can’t just glance at the crime scene and decide who the culprit is.”

“Indeed.”  Kyoko concurred.  “Even I couldn’t tell you who the culprit was immediately after investigating the gym.  I’d need more clues, which is exactly what your sister is trying to find.”  She smiled proudly at her eldest daughter as she walked through the halls.  “She’s doing what any good detective would do.  She’s combing for any piece of evidence that will help her come to the truth.”

“…This case is going to be difficult, isn’t it?”  Mokubo guessed as he glanced at his parents.

“Well, it certainly won’t be easy.”  Makoto admitted.  “None of these cases are ever easy.  Still, I have faith that Kiki has what it takes to solve this case.”

“Still, it would be nice if Shuichi bothered to help.”  Maki muttered.  “Kiki’s good, but she can’t do it all by herself.”

The Naegis nodded grimly as Kyoko prayed, “Hopefully Kiki will be able to help him regain his confidence, just like he did for her.”

The others nodded as they joined her in silent prayer, hoping that Shuichi would get his act together in time for the Class Trial.

Chapter Text

“Shuichi?  Kirumi?” 

Kiki hollered, cupping her hands around her mouth as she wandered the halls of the fourth floor.  Kiki sighed as she was greeted with silence.  Realizing that further attempts would only be greeted with silence, she allowed her hands to fall. 

“Okay, so they weren’t on the main area of the fifth floor, and I haven’t seen either of them in the…hm?”

Kiki came to a halt in front of the storage room, peering at the door that was left slightly ajar.  Her brow furrowed in confusion.

Her walk exuding tepidness, she pondered “Could Shuichi or Kirumi be in there?  But then why didn’t either of them answer when I called for them?  Well, I guess the only way is to check it out.”

With a shaky hand, Kiki bit her lip as she pushed the door open and stepped inside.  She peered around the dim room, illuminated only by the light from outside.

“Geez, I can barely see anything in here.”  She complained as she cautiously walked inside.  “Well, I guess Shuichi’s not in heeeeeeeeere!”

Kiki shrieked as she tripped, falling flat on her face.  She groaned as she shakily got on her hands and knees.

“Itai…geez, what did I trip on?  And who left it in the middle of the…floor…”  Kiki trailed off, ignoring the pain in her newly bruised knees as she squinted at the dark floor.  “What the…what’s this…?”

Kiki squinted, struggling to see in the dark storage room as she grasped the mysterious item in her hand.  Her brow furrowed as she held it up to her eyes, inspecting it from every angle she could.

“A…metal rod…?  What’s this doing here?  It…kinda looks beat up, at least on this end.”  She noted as she managed to make out a considerable dent on one end of the rod.  “Why would there be a dent on this side?  And on the other end…”  Kiki’s eyes widened as she recognized a crimson stain on the other side of the cylindrical item.  “B-Blood?!”

Kiki gasped, dropping the rod and causing it to fall to the floor with a clang.  She began to breathe heavily, glancing quickly around the room before she collected herself.  She stood up, rubbing her bruised knees as she stared at the rod. 

“At least I’m the only one here…but why is one end dented and the other covered in blood?  Could…could this weapon have been used to kill Snake?  But…that contradicts the Monokuma File’s cause of death.  And even if it was used to kill Snake, why is one end compromised while the other has blood on it?  This doesn’t make any sense!”

Kiki shook her head, turning around towards the door.  She sighed as she walked out the door towards the light.

“I can’t think about this right now.  I need to find Shuichi and Kirumi.  I doubt they went for a swim, all things considered.”  Kiki shuddered as the memory of Snake being eaten flashed in her mind.  “I didn’t hear either of them when I passed the Chem Lab or the Greenhouse.  So, that means the only place left is the Dorms.  Maybe he went to hide in his room; I should check there first.”

With that, Kiki left the Storage Room and walked towards the stairs, hoping that Shuichi was in his room and that Kirumi had managed to coax him into participating.

“So wait!”  Koto exclaimed.  “Is that rod thingy the murder weapon?”

“Pay attention dorkus!”  Kiri shot back.  “Snake died from drowning.  There’s no way the rod could be the murder weapon.”

“But the damage and the blood are still suspicious.”  Mokubo commented, earning a nod from his mother.

“Indeed.  It’s unlikely that the rod was the murder weapon, but it was likely involved in the crime in some form.”  She turned her head to smirk at her husband.  “It seems she’s inherited your luck, to have literally tripped on an important clue.”

Makoto chuckled as he scratched his cheek.  “I doubt my former talent has anything to do with it.”

“Even if it was your luck, it’s not gonna be enough to solve this case on its own.”  Maki muttered.  “It looks like Kiki found Kirumi.”

Everyone turned their attention to the TV, watching intently as she jogged towards the professional maid.

“Kirumi!”  Kiki called as she approached Shuichi’s door.  “Did you find Shuichi?”

Kirumi nodded, replying, “Yes, he’s shut himself in his room and locked the door.  I’ve been trying to coax him out, but he is remarkably stubborn.”

So, he’s still not coming out…well, I’ve got nothing to lose, so…  “Would you mind if I tried, Kirumi?”

Kirumi cocked her head curiously at the amnesiac girl before she nodded and stepped aside.  “By all means.”

Kiki took a deep breath and raised her finger to press the doorbell.

*Ding Dong*

“…Go away, Kirumi.  I told you, I’m not coming out!”

“Ano…it’s Kiki.”

“Oh…Kiki…”  Kiki sighed in relief at his suddenly softer tone.  “Well…what is it?”

“Can…can we just talk, please?  At least let me look you in the eyes, Shuichi.  Please…?”

A tense few seconds based before she heard the click of a lock.  The door cracked open just enough for her to see a sliver of Shuichi’s nervous face.  His eye darted nervously as the boy tried to look anywhere but at her.

“Okay…what is it, Kiki?”

“Well, it’s just…all of us are working so hard, and I’m doing my best to lead everyone, but I’m in over my head, Shuichi.  I can’t crack this case by myself.  We need your help…I need your help, Shuichi.  Please…can’t you help us?”

Shuichi bit his lip, as though torn with indecision.  Just when Kiki thought she had gotten through to him, Shuichi shook his head in denial.

“Sorry…I can’t.  My lousy detective work will just get people killed again.  I…I can’t do that again…never again.”

“Shuichi, wait!”  Kiki nearly cried out just as Shuichi was about to close the door.  “If you’re not gonna participate, can you at least answer a question for me?”

“…One question.  Ask away.”  Shuichi sighed.

Okay, I managed to get this much cooperation, so I’ve gotta make this question count.  Let’s see…  Kiki pondered as she fiddled nervously with her braid.  It should be something that makes use of his talents, something that’ll catch the culprit off guard…  “Before I came to breakfast, did anyone there act out of the ordinary?  Did anyone’s behavior seem…off…?”

Shuichi’s eyes lowered as he pursed his lips, deep in concentration.  “Now that you mention it…there was something strange that happened while Lotus was cooking in the kitchen.  Teruaki came into the dining hall, when…”

“Teruaki?!”  Ace exclaimed, his eyes subtly widening in surprise as the stuttering man sat down at the table.

“Yeah?  What’s got you all so b-bothered?”

“Oh, nothing…I guess I was just lost in thought and spaced out for a moment.  I almost didn’t see you sitting down…”  Ace averted his eyes as he rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment.  “I guess my mind is getting slower in my old age.  Perhaps a nap after the magic show will do me some good.”

Shuichi eyed Ace curiously as Teruaki muttered under his breath and averted his gaze.  The amateur detective frowned as Ace began to mumble unintelligibly under his breath, curious as to what the elder man was saying…and why he was so surprised by Teruaki’s appearance.

“And that’s everything.”  Shuichi finished.  “Goodbye, Kiki.”

Before Kiki could say another word, Shuichi closed the door.


“Well, that didn’t go as well as I hoped.”  Kirumi deadpanned.

Kiki sighed, her hand lingering on the doorknob for a moment before she shook her dejection away.  “Still, he did answer a question for us.”  Kiki pointed out with a shaky smile.  “That’s something, at least.”

“That’s correct, I suppose.”  Kirumi concurred with a small nod of the head.  “Well, I suppose all we can do is leave him alone until the Class Trial.”

“Yeah…hey, Kirumi?  Can I ask you something?”

“Hm?”  Kirumi hummed as she was about to walk away.

“Well, I was just wondering…could you tell me where you were the morning of the magic show?”

“Ah, you want to confirm my alibi, correct?”  Before Kiki could interject, Kirumi explained “I was up late doing some final preparations for the magic show.  Granted, my job mainly consisted of sewing the curtains and assembling the other decorations for the stage.  However, I wanted to make sure everything went off without a hitch, even though Clover never told me the trick.  So, I took extra time to make sure that the ladder wouldn’t break, the tank’s stability was sound…”

“Wow…you’re one devoted maid, Kirumi.”  Kiki complimented, causing Kirumi to smile with a hint of pride.

“But of course; a maid always performs their duties to the best of their ability, no matter who the client is.  Anyway, when I left, I took a small walk before I fell asleep.”  Kirumi’s eyes lowered in regret as she mused, “I must have tired myself out more than I thought, because I completely overslept.  As I hurried to the gym, I ran into Ryoma who had apparently also overslept.  We ran the rest of the way together and arrived at the murder scene.”

“And that’s everything…?”  Kiki pressed, causing Kirumi to furrow her brow in confusion.

“Yes, that’s everything that happened.  Is there anything else you wish to ask me?”

“Oh, no, that’s all I needed to know.”

“Very well, in that case I’ll investigate other areas of the school.  Shitsureishimasu.”

As Kirumi walked away, Kiki bit her lip and fiddled with her braid in contemplation.  Kirumi and Ryoma’s stories essentially match up…but if she’s telling the truth…then why were her gloves behind the curtain?  Did she leave them there by accident…?  No.  Kiki shook her head.  There’s no way someone as meticulous as Kirumi would do something as careless as leave her gloves behind.  So…what does this mean?

Kiki sighed as she glanced down the hall.  She shook the thought from her head as she walked down the hall, rounding the corner until she came face-to-face with Snake’s door.

“I can’t worry about the holes in Kirumi’s account.  I still have to investigate these other places.  I’ll start with Snake’s dorm, then I’ll check out the pool.  It’s probably the easiest place to drown someone in, and without Monokuma’s piranhas, the culprit wouldn’t have to worry about breaking the school regulations.”

Kiki took out Snake’s key and inserted it in the lock.  She took a deep breath before she turned it and pushed the door open, hesitantly walking inside.

“So is Kirumi the culprit?”  Koto asked.

“She has to be!”  Kiri exclaimed.  “Her gloves were found at the scene of the crime!”

“…It’s too obvious…”  Mokubo shook his head, causing his younger siblings to turn in shock.

Kyoko nodded in agreement.  “He’s right.  No culprit worth their salt would leave a piece of evidence so obviously tying them to the crime.”

“She’s right.”  Makoto concurred.  “It would be one thing if her gloves were damaged and a scrap tore off, but those gloves were completely whole, almost brand new.  Leaving them behind would be exceptionally careless, especially given how meticulous Kirumi usually is.”

“So…you think the gloves could be a red herring?”  Maki inquired, causing Kyoko to nod.

“What I don’t know is if she’s still involved in some capacity. Or who would want to try and frame her for the crime.  I guess we’ll find out as Kiki continues her investigation.”

“It’s a shame Shuichi wouldn’t participate, but at least he gave Kiki some information.”

Kyoko nodded, pursing her lips as she mulled over Shuichi’s account.  I feel…like that’s going to be important later on…

“Well, so much for looking at Snake’s motive video.”  Kiki sighed as she entered the pool.  “The culprit probably got rid of it by now…well, I can’t let that stop me.  I should check out the pool area while I still have time.”

With that, she began to walk around the perimeter of the pool, her eyes glancing around for clues.  Her lips tugged into a sad frown as she sighed.

“I can’t believe just two days ago we were swimming and laughing and having a good time with our slumber party.  Now there’s a possibility that this could be the place where Snake died.  I doubt anyone’s gonna want to go swimming here anymore if that’s the…case…”

Kiki trailed off, her eyes falling on a particular part of the pool’s rim.  Intrigued, she walked over and knelt in front of it, her eyebrow raised as she found what she had been looking for.

“The edge of the pool here…it’s a little scratched…that makes it more likely that this is where Snake was drowned.  And if that’s true…that means he was carried after he died and ended up in the tank somehow.  But…huh?”

A glittering from the bottom of the pool caught Kiki’s attention.  Squinting her eyes, she peeked curiously over the edge, trying to make out the foreign object in the water.  Unfortunately, the water was too murky for her to make out the shape, causing her brow to furrow.

“I can’t just leave it there.  It might be a valuable clue for the class trial.  But how am I going to get it out?”  She glanced around and frowned.  “I don’t see any kind of fishing net, so I can’t pull it out.” 

She fiddled with her braid as she sighed.  She contemplated her next course of action before her eyes widened in realization.

“I’ll just have to get it out by hand…I think my swimsuit should still be in the locker room…well, let’s get this over with…”

With a grunt, Kiki managed to climb up the pool ladder with one hand, her other hand grasping the foreign object she had just dived after.  As she stepped out onto the floor, she grabbed several locks of hair with her free hand and began wringing the water out of her auburn hair.

“…I think this might have been the first time I went swimming and I didn’t have fun…”  She lamented as she walked over to the nearby bleachers and sat down.  “Alright, now let’s see what you are…”

She squinted her eyes and held the item up to her face, inspecting it from every possible angle.  Eventually, her eyes widened in shock as she gasped in realization.

“An arm!  This is some kind of metal arm!  Clover said that Snake had a prosthetic arm, so this must be it.”  Kiki bit her lip as she furrowed her brow, wondering, “Did it come loose while Snake was being drowned?  It must have, otherwise it’d be with the rest of his bones in the gym.  At least this proves that Snake was drowned here.  And judging from the scratch marks, Snake probably struggled against his killer…”

Kiki frowned, imagining Snake struggling against his captor as they held his head in the water.  Her eyes became misty as they could practically see Snake’s face get bluer and bluer as he continued to lose oxygen.

“I…I can’t get all emotional right now.”  Kiki shook her head.  “I gotta get dressed and continue with the investigation.  I should check with Lotus about her lead; maybe it’ll help us narrow down the culprit.”

Glancing down at Snake’s prosthetic arm still in hand, Kiki frowned.  “Still…how am I gonna carry this all the way to the trial?  It’s too big to fit in any of my pockets, and I don’t have a backpack like Kaede did…maybe…”

“I’ll take care of it!”


Kiki squeaked as Monokuma snatched the arm from out of nowhere.  Her shock quickly gave way to anger however.

“Hey, give that back!  It’s important evidence!”

“Don’t worry, I’m not gonna tamper with it.  If I did that, I’d be breaking my own rules!  I’m just gonna hold onto it until it gets brought up in the Class Trial!”


“Did you have a better idea for how you were gonna lug this thing to the courtroom?  Unless you were just gonna hide it under your shirt and skirt…”  Seeing Kiki’s cheeks turn pink, Monokuma burst into laughter.  “You did think of that, didn’t you?!  My oh my, I had no idea you were into armplay!”

That’s not it!  Kiki emphatically denied in her mind, though she was too embarrassed to voice her objection.

“Well, sorry, but I’m gonna have to bring this down to the courtroom for safekeeping.  I’m afraid you’ll have to find some other kink for now.  Ahahahaha!”

Kiki’s cheeks turned even redder as Monokuma waddled out with Snake’s prosthetic arm.  Once he was gone, Kiki slapped her cheeks, trying to force her embarrassment away.

It wasn’t even like that!  I just couldn’t think of where else to put it…  She sighed, shaking her head.  Drat, now I have to trust that Monokuma will keep his word…I guess there’s nothing I can do but continue the investigation…

Kiki walked to the door leading to the girls’ locker room, intent on continuing her investigation.  As she changed, she tried her best to banish Monokuma’s embarrassing taunt from her mind.

“She was…really gonna put Snake’s arm under her clothes…?!”  Koto exclaimed.

“Eww, that’s so gross!”  Kiri wretched.

“…Like she said, there weren’t a lot of options for effective transport.”  Kyoko sighed.  “Let’s just hope that Monokuma’s telling the truth this time…”  As sick to my stomach as that makes me feel…

“Anyway…she’s narrowed down the real murder scene.”  Mokubo observed.

“Indeed.”  Kyoko nodded with a slightly proud smile.  “It’s all but determined that Snake died in the pool instead of in the tank in the gym.”

“Still, there’s a lot of questions that have yet to be answered.”  Makoto mused.

“Yeah, like how’d he get in the pool in the first place?”  Koto commented.

“And who carried him all the way into the tank before anyone else got in the gym?”  Kiri wondered.

“Those are all good questions.”  Kyoko replied.  “We can’t determine the culprit’s identity from just what she found in the gym, nor the exact sequence of events that led to Snake’s death.”

“Well, hopefully her conversation with Lotus will uncover something to help with at least one of those.”  Maki gestured to the TV, watching as Kiki opened a familiar door.  “It looks like she’s about to enter the library.”

“Hey Lotus.”  Kiki waved as she saw Lotus sitting at a table, her head buried in a book.

“Hm?”  The woman looked up from her book and turned her head to see Kiki approaching.  “Ah, Kiki.  Good timing.  There’s something I wanted to show you.”

“Okay, what is it?”  She asked curiously.  “What’d you find.”

“Remember when Teruaki said that Snake was wearing his pajamas?”  Seeing Kiki nod, Lotus continued “Something started percolating in my brain, a memory that I can’t quite draw out yet.  As I started to ponder what it was that I was trying to remember, one word suddenly flashed in my mind.”  Lotus opened the book fully and pointed to a single word at the top of the page.  “This one here.”

Kiki squinted her eyes as she read, “Pro-so-pag-no-sia?”

Seeing Kiki’s befuddled expression, Lotus explained “Well, put simply, it means a condition where the mind can’t distinguish between human faces.  In other words, my face would look the same as Clover’s, or even yours.  So they can’t remember faces, which is how most people recognize each other.  That means that people with prosopagnosia have trouble recognizing even people they’re close to.”

“But then…”  Kiki’s brow furrowed as she wondered “How do people with prosopagnosia even tell others apart then?”  And how is this relevant to the case?

“Usually, they can make do by associating people with other things – their voices, their clothes, their hair.”

Kiki bit her lip as she pondered, “Does that mean other people’s faces look…like…blanks…?”

Lotus shook her head.  “No…No, I don’t think so.  You’ve seen monkeys, like in a zoo, right?”

“Well, I’m having trouble remembering a lot of things, so I can’t say if I have or haven’t.”

Lotus facepalmed and muttered, “Right, I forgot.”  Shaking her head for a moment, she explained “To you and me, all the monkey faces look the same.  Even though they’ve obviously got faces, it’s almost impossible for a human to distinguish between them.  The zoo staff that works with them would learn to identify different monkeys eventually, but you or I couldn’t, unless one had a scar or something else to set it apart.  That’s how people would be to someone with prosopagnosia.”

“Prosopagnosia, huh…I didn’t even know that kinda thing existed…”  Kiki mused.  “So, how does this relate to the murder again?”

Lotus sighed and shook her head in exasperation.  “Well, if we assume that Snake wore clothes that weren’t his on the night that he was killed…then it’s possible…that Snake wasn’t the intended target.”

“WHAT?!”  Kiki nearly shrieked, her eyes widening in shock.  “You think the culprit killed Snake by accident?”

“Well, depending on the time of death, it might have been dark enough that they couldn’t make out Snake’s face.  In that circumstance, that would mean that they were relying on the clothes their target was wearing when they made their attack.  So, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that Snake was an accidental victim.  Of course, this is all just speculation at this point.  Whether that was the case or not depends on how the class trial goes…”

*Ding Dong Bing Bong*

A tingle of dread traveled down their spines, Kiki and Lotus barely holding back the urge to shiver.  Reluctantly, they turned and looked at the screen.  Plastered onto its neon screen was Monokuma, grinning at them as he held a wine goblet in a toast gesture.

“Already tired of investigating?  Oh, you’ve been tired of it for a while now?  Well, that’s how it goes.  Investigations aren’t all that fun, you see.  But it’s a necessary step before we can move on to the main event…Kind alike searching the internet for that perfect porno video!  In fact, some people think the search is the best part.  Weird, huh?  Anyway…the class trial is starting soon!  Please gather at the 5th Floor Elevator!  Puhuhuhuhu, see you later!”

“Speak of the devil…”  Lotus sighed as she shook her head.

“What was that about?”  Kiki shivered as she asked aloud, “What did that speech about porn have to do with telling us to go to the class trial?”

“Don’t think about it too hard.”  Lotus advised.  “You’ll only hurt your head.  Anyway, we should get going to the elevator.  You coming?”

“Yeah, coming!”  Kiki hurriedly jogged after Lotus, feeling her nerves tense up as the two made their way to the 5th Floor.

“Mom, Dad…what’s porn…?”

Makoto and Kyoko’s faces turned beet red at Koto and Kiri’s question.  Even Mokubo had turned his head, his brow furrowing in curiosity.

“W-well…you see…”  Makoto fumbled.

“Th-that’s not really…it’s a little too early to…”

Maki sighed, shaking her head.  “Shouldn’t we be focusing on the impending trial?  This is gonna be Kiki’s first time leading a trial.  You can ask about other stuff when this madness is over.”

Makoto and Kyoko sighed in relief as the three children nodded.  “So…”  Mokubo muttered “The investigation’s over…”

“But we don’t even know who did it!”  Koto complained.

“Yeah, all we know is that Snake drowned in the pool!”  Kiri grumbled.  “How’s Kiki supposed to find out who the culprit is with just the handful of clues she managed to find?”

“…They only had a hodgepodge of clues when they went to Rantaro’s trial.”  Makoto pointed out.

Kyoko nodded.  “Indeed.  The true test will be if they can piece things together during the trial itself.”

“Well, let’s see if she can create a miracle.”  Maki muttered as they watched Kiki and Lotus climb the stairs.

“…Is everyone ready?”  Keebo asked grimly as the two women approached the group.

“Not like we have a choice, right?”  Gonta gritted his teeth in frustrated anguish.

“So you understand that, at least.”  Sokyu muttered.

“We got nothin’ to worry about.  Right?”  Clover glanced around nervously at the others.  “We’ll figure out the culprit, won’t we?”

“Of course we don’t need to worry.” 

Lotus smiled warmly at Clover as she wrapped a maternal arm around the girl’s shoulder.  Despite the warm gesture, Clover merely muttered unintelligibly and fiddled with her fingers, her eyes downcast with grief.

“We’ll find the culprit and make them pay for what they did.”

“E-easy for you to s-say!”  Teruaki stammered, though the others chose to ignore him.

Kiki nodded and smiled at Clover.  “Don’t worry, Clover.  I promise, we’ll find out who killed Snake.  As long as we work together, we can overcome the culprit!”

“Of course, that’d be easier if we were all together…”  Seven lamented as he rubbed the back of his beanie.

“That reminds me…”  Ace turned to the young maid.  “Kirumi, you left to retrieve Shuichi, didn’t you?”

“Oh, did you manage to give him a badge that boosts courage?”  Tsumugi asked.  “Hopefully he has enough BP to equip it.”

The others sweatdropped as Kirumi reluctantly sighed.  “Unfortunately, I was not able to succeed in coaxing him out of his room.  Although, when I went to retrieve him a second time after the announcement, he did not show any sign of being in his room.”

Clover spat.  “I bet he ran away, like the coward he is.”

“Clover!”  Kiki admonished.  “He’s not a-”

“No, it’s okay.  I…am a coward…”

“Shuichi?!”  Kiki exclaimed as she turned around to see the rookie detective.

His head was slightly bent over, obscuring his eyes underneath his hair and hat as Lotus commented, “Well, look who decided to show up.  Honestly, I’m surprised you came at all.”

Shuichi shrugged.  “I can only hide in my room for so long.”

“Still, you didn’t answer when I rang your doorbell after the announcement.”  Kirumi pointed out, a concerned frown on her face.  “Where were you, Shuichi?”

“Oh, I…just went to the dining hall.  I was hungry, that’s all…”

“So, we were off investigating, and you were pigging out?!”  Clover nearly screeched, her eyes blazing with fury.

“Cool your jets, kid.”  Ryoma sighed as Kirumi nodded.

“This matter will be discussed in due time.  You should save your arguments until then.”

“Yeah, let’s put an end to this at the class trial.”  Seven agreed.

“Yeah…you’re right.”  Kiki nodded before she took a deep breath.  “Well, it’s now or never.”

With hesitant nods, the survivors stepped onto the floor art of Monokuma’s face.  As soon as they were all within the boundaries, the walls formed around them.  As the gears beneath their feet began to turn, the elevator rumbled to life, causing them to gradually sink along with the machine’s groans.  A dreadful silence pervaded their limited quarters as they waited for their destination.  Kiki snuck a glance at Shuichi and frowned.  The boy was biting his lip and fiddling with a strand of loose hair beneath his cap.

He seems…conflicted…but why…?  He seemed pretty adamant about not helping with the investigation.  He didn’t even come out of his room.  Did he…have a change of heart?  Does he want to help, but is too afraid to?  Is he fighting with his fears?  If he is, I have to try and help if I can.  Not just because our lives could hinge on his participation, but also because…he’s my friend, and I don’t want him to live in anguish!  “Ne, Shuichi?”

With a slight gasp, Shuichi turned towards the girl who had called his name.  She smiled softly at him, trying to convey an aura of compassion in her voice.

“I know you’re scared; we all are.  I’m really scared; I felt like I only knew half of what I was doing during this investigation.  There are probably a billion people more qualified than me to investigate a murder.”

Kiki chuckled and shook her head.  Her heterochromatic eyes seemed to glow with warmth as she chose her next words.

“But I still did my best…because I made a promise that I would do my best to help everyone get out of here.   And right now, that means finding out who killed Snake.  But I can’t do it alone.  I’m going to need the help of everyone here, especially you, Shuichi.”


Kiki nodded.  “Yeah, I’m really gonna need your help with this one, Shuichi.  I know you’re afraid that your detective talents are just gonna get people hurt, but you have the ability to save everyone with your deductions.  You shouldn’t discredit yourself just because you made one bad judgment call last time.  You should take pride in yourself and show the mystery who’s boss.”


“Just…think about what I said, alright?  I think we’re almost at the trial room.”

Shucihi nodded, averting his eyes as the elevator came to a halt.  With a single ding, the walls retracted,

“Welcome!”  Monokuma greeted jubilantly from his throne as the survivors approached the podiums.  “You’ve hopelessly arrived once again!  Hm?  Did you wanna come here again cuz of how wonderful it is?  Isn’t it wonderful?  I put so much effort into building this place, it should be a monument.”

“You put a lot of elaborate detail into this courtroom.”  Ace observed.  “Almost like it’s for show.”

“For show, huh?  That’s an interesting way to put it.”  Monokuma mused.

“Is this just for show?”  Kirumi asked.  “Are you showing this to the people outside and-”

“Puhuhu!”  Monokuma giggled.  “Forget about the outside world; they’re not important right now.  Instead, show me just how you intend to bargain for your lives!  Ah-hahahahaha!”

With some unintelligible grumblings from an incensed Clover, the thirteen participants made their way to their podiums.  Kiki stared across and to her right at Snake’s newly erected portrait.

Light Field, AKA Snake…despite the fact that he was blind, he could read any of us.  He kept the peace when we got too tense, and he was a dedicated big brother to Clover, no matter how he was feeling.

Kiki turned her gaze to glance at Clover, who was gnashing her teeth in grief and fury.  Kiki frowned in sympathy, realizing that she couldn’t truly understand the girl’s pain.

Someone robbed Clover of her big brother.  And the person who killed him…is here right now…  Kiki glanced around at her surviving friends, clenching her fists as she narrowed her eyes and gritted her teeth.  I want to believe that’s a lie.  I don’t want to believe it at all.  But…

Kiki glanced over her shoulder at Shuichi.  The cowardly detective seemed to duck under his hat, averting his eyes as though doing so would just make him disappear.

If this is where I find the truth…I won’t avert my eyes anymore.  She looked over to Kaede’s podium, where her portrait now stood.  This is…the wish she entrusted to me.  Even if Shuichi won’t, I will find the truth.  To get out of here, with everyone.  Alive.  I’m going to survive.  I can’t die here.  In order to keep my promise to her…I will fight.  I will fight for my life in this trial of truth and lies!

“It’s time for her true test.”  Kyoko muttered as she clasped Makoto’s hands.

“You trained her well.  I believe she’ll be up to the task.”  Makoto assured her with an optimistic smile.

“Yeah, she can do it!”  Koto agreed.

“Even without Shuichi, Kiki’s gonna crack the case!”  Kiri cheered.

“…I believe in Nee-chan…”  Mokubo muttered.

“Well, let’s see if she’s up to the task.”  Maki suggested as they turned their attention to the TV.

Good luck, Kiki…  They prayed as Monokuma slammed his gavel, starting Kiki’s second trial.

Chapter Text

“Now then, let’s begin with a basic explanation of the class trial!  During the trial you’ll present your arguments for who the culprit is, and vote for whodunnit.  Vote correctly, and only the blackened will be punished.  But if you pick the wrong person…I’ll punish everyone besides the blackened, and that person will graduate from this university!  Also, refusing to vote will result in your death, so you better vote for someone!”

Don’t remind me…  Kiki deadpanned as she listened to Monokuma’s obligatory instructions.

“Now, let’s get this crazy, awesome, crazy-awesome to the max trial underway!”

Okay, the trial’s officially started…but where do we start?  We don’t even know who the culprit is-

“…Clover seems su-suspicious.”

Everyone’s eyes widened at Teruaki’s claim.  Sweat dripped down Clover’s face as she stammered “W-what?!”

“A-Ano…”  Kiki tried to interject.

“Hey!”  An incensed Lotus scowled, pointing fiercely at Teruaki.  “It’s bad enough that she lost her brother!  How can you accuse Clover?!”

“…I don’t want to agree with him, but Clover is the most suspicious.”  Kirumi sighed reluctantly.

“Snake died during Clover’s magic show.”  Keebo hesitantly concurred.

“Is…is that…?”  Kiki tried once more, only to be cut off again.

“His body appearing in the water tank leads one to think the escape trick played a part.”  Ace explained.  “It’s only natural we suspect Clover.  She was the one performing the trick.”  Clover winced, her eyes clamping shut from the pressure.

“Screw you all!”  Lotus spat.  “I’ll protect Clover!  There’s no way any of that is true!”

“It’s true though!”  Teruaki insisted.  “Clover used the Underwater Escape trick to kill Snake.  B-But I still don’t have a clue how Clover did the trick…”

“Y’know, maybe it really was ma-”

“Oh, stop it.”  Sokyu cut Gonta off before he turned his glare towards the trembling Clover.  “If you don’t come up with an alibi now, then we’ll vote you as the culprit.”

“Stop picking on Clover!”  Lotus growled.  “A devoted little girl like her couldn’t kill anyone!”

“I get that you want to defend her, but that might be a bit much…”  Tsumugi sweatdropped.

So, everyone’s suspecting Clover…but I’m not convinced…  Kiki flashed back to Clover’s emotional reaction to her brother’s skeleton, her wails of anguish and tears of grief seared in her mind.  She’d have to be a very convincing actress to pull that off on cue.  I can’t let this case get derailed by misunderstandings.

Kiki glanced over at Shuichi.  The detective was still seemingly locked in indecision, his hands gripping the podium with a death grip as he bit his lip.

…I can’t count on Shuichi right now.  So, it’s up to me.  “Ano…”  Everyone sans Suichi turned towards Kiki, who asked “Before we get hung up on a suspect, can we just take a moment to solidify the cause of death?”

“The cause of death?”  Seven repeated.

“Is that really necessary?”  Ace’s brow furrowed in confusion.  “We saw his death with our own eyes, after all.”

“Not all of us saw the moment he died, Ace.”  Kirumi gently reminded.

“Yeah, Kirumi and I were late, so we only saw his skeleton.”  Ryoma concurred.

“And besides…”  Kiki continued.  “Some of us might have mistaken perceptions about what we all saw.  I just…wanna be sure we’re all on the same page, that’s all.”

“The logical course of action would be to double-check our work so that our verdict is free of accidental errors.”  Keebo nodded.  “I also think it’s wise to discuss Snake’s true cause of death.”

“Hmph, alright, I guess we can start with that.”  Lotus agreed.

“Very well, then.”  Ace concurred.  “Let us determine once and for all how Snake died.”

“The culprit used the Underwater Escape Trick…to pull off a sneaky switcheroo with Snake.”  Teruaki declared.

“After that, the time ran out…”  Ace continued.  “The tank above Snake opened and piranhas came pouring out…And he was eaten alive!”

There’s the misconception!  Kiki realized as she pointed her finger at Ace.  “No that’s wrong!”  As everyone turned towards her, the heterochromatic girl argued “No, Snake’s death was not caused by the piranhas.” 

Kiki took out her tablet and turned it on.  She then scrolled through the information until it landed on the cause of death

She turned it so everyone could see, then explained, “The Monokuma File indicates the cause of death is drowning.”

“So it wasn’t the piranhas, then.”  Seven mused.  “He was drowned.”

“Oh, I see.”  Ace’s lips tugged into a guilty frown.  “I must have glossed over that part of the Monokuma File, so that’s news to me.”

“Then do your homework instead of jumping to conclusions!”  Lotus spat.

“S-so what?”  Teruaki stammered.  “Snake drowned, Clover switched p-places with him, and then the piranhas a-ate him.  R-Right?”

“No, Clover only had 60 seconds to escape from the tank…”  Keebo reminded him.  “Even if they changed places at the start of the show, that’s still insufficient time to drown someone.”

“If that is the case, then when did he drown?”  Kirumi pondered, resting a finger below her lip.

When did Snake drown?  Kiki pondered.  It was obviously…not during the show, not after the piranhas dropped…that’s the one! “Snake was already drowned before the show started.”

“…Agreed.”  Sokyu nodded.  “Before being eaten by the piranhas, he made no attempt to escape the water.  To be precise, he made no movements whatsoever.  Yes…By that point, he had already joined the ranks of the dead.”

“Could that mean his body was hidden until the culprit made it appear in the tank?”  Keebo wondered.

“Hidden…where?”  Gonta pondered.

“The culprit would have had to hide the body near the tank, and then show it during the act.”  Kirumi hypothesized.

“Easier said than done!”  Lotus rejected.

“Was there a place on stage where the culprit could’ve hid the body?”  Ace questioned.  “Oh, wait.  Clover should know since she performed the Underwater Escape Trick.”

“Wh-Why is everyone still picking on Clover?”  Lotus spat.

“Man, we gotta figure out how the trick works to find where the body was hidden.”  Seven muttered, ignoring Lotus’s outburst.

“But Clover has not yet told us how she performed her act.”  Kirumi sighed.

“A-Ano…”  Clover quietly mumbled, opening her eyes before being cut off.

“Then let’s work together to reveal the secret behind Clover’s trick!”  Ace emphatically proposed.

“So…not real magic?”  Gonta asked.

“O-of course not!”  Clover scowled, pointing angrily at Gonta.  “You must be one big nitwit if you think I could perform magic, especially with only a day to learn!”

“Yeah…it’s not like she went to school at Hogwarts.”  Tsumugi mused “I wonder what house she would have been sorted into…?”

…Anyway, we first need to perform how Clover performed the trick.  Kiki sweatdropped.  If we can’t figure that out, this case is going nowhere.

“How did Clover escape the water tank…?”  Keebo hummed in contemplation.

“Maybe she just c-climbed out and no one no-noticed.”  Teruaki volunteered.

“No, she definitely would’ve been caught.”  Ryoma countered with a shake of the head.

“Perhaps some mechanism was set up on the stage.”  Kirumi suggested.

“The curtain covering the tank was certainly suspicious.”  Ace commented.

“What about that square pane of glass we found in the tank?”  Lotus suggested.

“Maybe the tank had a secret hatch?”

Kiki narrowed in on Sokyu’s musings, causing her to snap her fingers in realization.  “I agree with you!  I think Sokyu’s right; there must’ve been an escape hatch on that tank.”

“I see, so it did have one.”

Kiki nodded.  “That’s right.  I investigated the portion of the tank that was visible behind the curtain.  There was a small indentation in the shape of a door behind the stairs that were directly connected to the tank.  I bet that she used that to make her escape.”

I’m gonna get you for that!”

Kiki tuned towards the angered Lotus.  Steam seemed to emit from her nostrils as she glared angrily at the heterochromatic girl.

“No!  Your logic is all wrong, Kiki!”

“Hm?”  What’s with her?  And why is she angry at me?  Kiki smiled nervously in an attempt to placate the strangely furious woman. “What do you mean?”

“Hmph!  And you don’t even know why you’re wrong, either!  I didn’t think you’d be so dense.”

Okay, that hurts, Lotus…  Kiki thought as Lotus seemed to growl at her.

“Kiki, you’d better apologize to Clover for what you said!”

Rebuttal Showdown –Truth Blade-: Lotus vs Kiki!

“The presence of a hidden door in the stairs…”

Which changes our whole understanding of the case!  Kiki thought as Lotus continued her rant.

“doesn’t have anything to do with Clover’s escape!”

Yes, yes it does!

“She didn’t use an escape door!”

How else would she have gotten out of that tank?!

“I know she didn’t do that!”

You couldn’t have known unless she let you in on the trick!

“Now…take back what you said!”

“W-Wait a second!”  Kiki stammered, holding her palms up in a gesture of peace.  “B-before I take back what I said…What makes you so sure she didn’t?”

Lotus let out an exasperated breath of air through her nose as she pinched the bridge of it.  “Because!  If she escaped from a door connected to the tank…”

Like the one we were just talking about?!

“…The water would have gushed out with her!”

Would there have been?

“There would have been water everywhere!”

That’s where you’re mistaken, Lotus!  Kiki focused on Lotus’s last statement, narrowing her eyes and pointing at the raging woman.  “Let me cut through your words!”

“There was a reason the room wasn’t flooded with water…”  Kiki explained.  “The staircase that was attached to the water tank.  Try to remember how the staircase was positioned…the water tank was probably connected to the inside of the staircase.”

“Inside the staircase…”  Gonta paled.  “His body was in stairs?!”

“With that in mind, it’s clear how Clover made her escape from underwater.  There was a curtain covering the tank during the performance…allowing Clover to enter the staircase from the hatch undetected.  Any water that spilled out would’ve simply funneled into the staircase.”

Clover nodded.  “Yeah, there’s a hidden hatch that I had to align the staircase to in order for this trick to work.”

“So how do you get out from the staircase?”  Tsumugi asked, still a little puzzled.

“As I said, the staircase also has an escape hatch, one facing away from us.  It’s the indentation that’s shaped like a door, and it’s placed so that the water would not drain from the staircase.”

“In which case, a person could exit and leave water inside the staircase.”  Keebo reasoned.

Kiki nodded.  “However, that person would be soaked, meaning that some trace should be left…  That would explain why there was a puddle around the stairs…”

“So when Clover came out from the stairs, her wet clothes dripped water all over!”  Seven realized.

“But…Clover’s clothes should’ve been wet when she left the water tank…”  Lotus argued.

“Her c-clothes were definitely not w-wet!”  Teruaki realized.

No, and magic had nothing to do with why her clothes weren’t wet…  We all saw her go into the water, there’s no way she could have dried off that quickly…that’s the one!  “…It’s because she changed her uniform.”  Kiki realized.

“The dormitory is stocked with uniforms.”  Keebo realized.  “Did you hide one behind the stage in advance?”

“Huh, now that you mention it…”  Lotus mused “After Clover said she was going to the gym, I saw her carry a uniform and a towel.”

“She may not have had time to fully dry her hair…”  Kirumi mused.  “But in the spectacle of the performance, we probably would have been so entranced, we would have been none the wiser.”

“Of course!”  Clover exclaimed.  “I had just changed into my spare uniform and re-tied my hair when I heard the commotion and came out to see what was going on!  Now can we please move on, already?!  We’ve been wasting so much time dissecting my magic trick when we should have been trying to find who killed my brother!”

“Yes, let us proceed.”  Kirumi suggested.  “Where did the culprit hide Snake’s body?  From our discussion earlier, his body could have been in the space inside the staircase.”

Gonta pursed his lips.  “But that’s where Clover would escape from, right?”

“So Clover went in the stairs with the body?!”  Ace exclaimed before Keebo shook his head.

“That seems unlikely.  There isn’t enough space for two people to fit in there.”

“Yeah, those stairs seem pretty cramped.”  Tsumugi concurred.  “It’d be hard to fit even Clover and Ryoma in there.”

“Who says they went in t-together?”  Teruaki scowled.  “She could’ve made the switch as she was leaving the tank.  At the s-same time, she could’ve p-pulled out the body from inside the s-stairs.  That way, she’d have r-room to put herself in there.  S-See how easy that is?”  Teruaki pointed accusingly at Clover.  “I think that explains how Clover changed places with Snake’s body.”

“Hey!”  Lotus spat once more.  “Why did you automatically assume it was Clover?!”

“W-Who else but C-Clover could’ve done it?”

Clover squirmed as her podium suddenly pulled to the center, her eyes darting around at the others as they stared at her.  Kiki frowned empathetically, having been in the hot seat herself not that long ago.

“Ughhh…Why are you accusing her?!  Didn’t you learn your lesson with Kiki?”

“You may think you’re protecting Clover…”  Ace interjected.  “…But what if she really is the culprit?”  Ace glared at Lotus as he warned, “We’ll all die, and it will be all your fault…Are you okay with that, Lotus?”

“I’m totally fine with that!”  Lotus exclaimed without missing a beat, causing everyone’s eyes to widen in shock.

What…?  Kiki nearly gasped as she stared at the passionate, maternal woman.

“I don’t care what anyone says!  Clover would never murder someone, let alone her own brother!  It’s completely illogical and the only evidence you have is circumstantial…and it’s flimsy at best!  I need to believe in her, and stand up for her!  If I can’t defend a little girl in need, how can I ever look my daughters in the eyes ever again?!  So…I’m gonna keep believing in Clover!!!”

“Lotus is definitely a devoted mom.”  Maki commented, causing the three children in the room to nod in agreement.

“Yeah…any parent would want to believe in their child until the very end.”  Makoto concurred.

“Indeed.  As a mother, I sympathize with her.”  Kyoko frowned.  “Still, siblings aren’t immune to murderous thoughts.”

As Makoto and Kyoko’s minds flashed back to the two Ultimate Despairs, Koto asked “So, is Clover guilty or not?”

“…I don’t know, Koto.”   Makoto admitted.  “I don’t want to believe that Clover’s a cold-faced killer, but they’ve yet to prove that she’s innocent.”

“Ace has a point.”  Mokubo reluctantly commented.  “If she is the killer, and they all vote for someone else, they’ll all die for nothing.”

All of them felt their stomachs churn with dread at the thought before Kiri shook away her nausea.  “Well…I know Kiki will find the truth!”

“Yeah!”  Koto agreed.  “Kiki’s gonna solve this mystery!  If Clover’s innocent, she’ll prove it!”

“Indeed.”  Kyoko smiled along with her husband.  “As long as she keeps her mind focused on the debate at hand, she’ll pull through.”

“Well, we’re about to find out if she can.  It looks like the debate’s about to continue.”  Maki gestured to the TV screen as Teruaki countered Lotus’s devotion.

“The only one who could’ve switched out Snake’s body…is Clover herself.”

“When Clover was escaping the tank…”  Ace contemplated.  “…She dragged out the body hidden in the stairs, and simply switched places with it.”

“Are you telling me you saw that happen?!”  Lotus demanded.

“No one could have seen that.”  Kirumi commented.  “It would have occurred in the middle of the show…when the tank was covered with a curtain.”

“So basically, no one saw anything.”

Kiki clued in on Sokyu’s exasperated sigh, narrowing her eyes and pointing at him.  “No that’s wrong!  Someone did see inside the tank!  It was Gonta!”  Kiki stared pleadingly at the bug enthusiast, not even noticing how her hands were gripping the podium with vigor.  “Gonta had climbed onto the stage and was looking into the tank from above.  Isn’t that right, Gonta?”

“Y-Yeah…”  Gonta stammered as he crossed his arms, frowning pensively.  “Gonta saw down into the tank.  But…Gonta saw no one in there.”

“…No one was in there?”  Sokyu asked curiously.

“Yeah, no one.  Guess that clue was no good, huh?”

Kiki shook her head and countered “No, that’s actually a great clue.  Because…if Snake’s body was hidden inside the staircase…Clover would have had to pull him out before she went inside.  There certainly wasn’t enough room in the staircase for both of them.  But that means, if the tank was empty when Gonta looked…Snake’s body must not have been hidden in the staircase.”

Are you an idiot?!

Teruaki’s forceful interjection shattered Kiki’s focus, cutting her explanation short.  “W-why are you calling me an idiot?”  She asked, her lips tugging into a pained frown.

“S-So what if that big lug couldn’t see anyone in the tank?  Th-that still doesn’t prove that C-Clover’s i-innocent.”

“But how could she have moved his body into the tank without the staircase?”  Kiki pressed, causing Teruaki to gnash his teeth.

“Y-you s-stupid little g-girl!  F-Fine, I’ll e-explain it s-slowly, so you can u-understand.  Yes, you’ll understand…you’ll understand why that m-manipulative little g-girl is g-guilty!”

Rebuttal Showdown – Truth Blade-: Teruaki vs Kiki!

“G-Gonta’s testimony means n-nothing!”  Teruaki spat, causing Kiki to clench her fists in anger.

No, he’s our sole eyewitness, so his testimony is everything!

“The water in the tank was murky…”

You’re thinking of the piranha tank, not the main tank.

“…and Gonta wears g-glasses…”

Okay, that’s low, Kubota!

“So he could have m-missed Clover as she m-moved around in the t-tank!”

I don’t care how murky the water is.  You couldn’t miss a person swimming around in a tank that shallow!

“So as far as I’m concerned, C-Clover is still g-guilty!”

Kiki let out an exasperated sigh, wanting to tug her braid out of her head as she forced herself to calm down.  “I trust Gonta to give an accurate account, and his eyesight is just fine!  If he says Clover wasn’t in there, she wasn’t in there!”

Teruaki gritted his teeth before he jabbed “S-so what if she wasn’t in the t-tank?!”

You’ll have to do better than that.

“All she had to do was share the s-stairs with him.”

But he’s just as tall as the stairs!

“Th-that’s the o-only place she could have h-hidden him!”

Is it though?  Stop thinking so narrowly!

“Th-there was nowhere else in the gym to hide the b-body!”

Yes, yes there was!  Kiki narrowed her eyes as Teruaki’s claim repeated in her mind.  She raised her finger and pointed at him, retorting, “Let me cut through your words!”

“No, there is a place you could hide the body other than the staircase.”  Kiki insisted.

“Then…Snake’s body wasn’t hidden in the stairs?”  Tsumugi asked, a hint of confusion dancing in her eyes.

Kiki shook her head.  “No, it wasn’t.”

“I trust then that you have another place in mind?”  Ace pressed.

“Y-Yeah, I do…I think.”

Everyone else sans Shuichi nearly fell over, just barely keeping their balances by gripping their podiums for support.

“Don’t just go saying I think like that!”  Clover nearly shouted.  “This trial is riding on your words, Kiki!”

“Yeah, we can’t just make up guesses.”  Seven muttered.

“Kiki, if you have a concrete idea as to where Snake’s body was hidden, please tell us.”  Lotus pleaded.

“O-okay, just give me a minute to think.”  Kiki closed her eyes and took a deep breath.  Let’s see, I know this!  It’s on the tip of my tongue, but what is it?! 

She forced herself to concentrate, shining clarity on her jumbled thoughts.  As she made sense of the pieces and rearranged them into a concrete argument, she opened her eyes and gasped in realization.

P-I-R-A-H-N-A, PIRANHA!  T-A-N-K, TANK!  PIRANHA TANK!  Now I get it!  “Snake’s body was in a tank, but not the main tank Clover was in…it was in the piranha tank!”

“Whoa!  The piranha tank?!”  Seven nearly shouted in shock.

“How would Snake’s body even be placed in the piranha tank?”  Ace gasped.

“Yeah, if it were in the piranha tank, the fish would have devoured him long before the magic show.”  Ryoma pointed out.

“Did someone cast a Protect spell on Snake’s body until the start of the show?”  Tsumugi pondered, causing everyone to sweatdrop.

“I know it sounds crazy, but trust me, it’s possible that Snake was placed in the piranha tank before the magic show, and that the piranhas were kept from eating him beforehand.”

“Alright, let’s test this little hypothesis of yours.”  Lotus suggested before Teruaki pointed his shaky finger at Clover once more.

“Where were you hiding S-Snake’s body?!”

“It wasn’t really in the stairs, was it?”  Tsumugi asked once more for confirmation.

Keebo nodded.  “After all, there was only enough space for Clover.”

“W-well, how about behind the c-curtain?”  Teruaki stammered.

“If there was a way to enter the tank from there…”  Kirumi contemplated.  “…then it would be plausible.”

“Or maybe the body was in the tank all along…but we just couldn’t see it.”  Ace proposed.

“Impossible.”  Sokyu shook his head.  “You’d need top-notch visual effects to pull that off.”

“Well, what of the tank containing the piranhas?”  Lotus finally mentioned.

“No way.”  Seven shook his head.  “If you put a body in there…the piranhas would have eaten it way before we saw it!”

“But if the body and piranhas were separated…”

Kiki focused in on Lotus’s proposition and pointed at her with a relieved smile.  “I agree with you!  Lotus’s hypothesis is correct.  The body and the piranhas were separated!  This was accomplished using the square glass pane found in the tank!”

“Ah, so that’s why that pane was in the tank during the investigation.”  Lotus explained “Using that glass pane as a divider, a safe space could be created in the tank.  It is in such a space that the body could be stored, separated from the piranhas.”

“Then that means Snake’s body was hidden in the piranha tank the whole time!”  Kiki exclaimed.

“So Snake’s body fell into the water tank with the piranhas?!”  Seven asked incredulously.

“Gonta knew it!”  Gonta exclaimed in realization, startling everyone and causing them to turn towards him.

“What is it, Gonta?”  Tsumugi asked curiously.

“Gonta was above the stage when the piranhas fell!  That’s why Gonta saw something no one else could…When the piranhas fell, Gonta saw some big thing fall into the water tank with them.”  Gonta clenched his teeth, shutting his eyes and clenching his fist in guilt as he lamented, “Y’know, now that Gonta thinks about it…Gonta maybe saw Snake’s body.”

“When the piranhas dropped from the tank, I thought I saw something bigger drop as well.”  Lotus commented. 

Kirumi’s brow furrowed as she asked, “The water tank on the bottom is made completely out of glass, right?  You can see what is happening through the glass.  Can you really hide a body in the tank?”

Ace shook his head.  “Even in murky water, a dead body would still be visible in a glass tank.”

“Unless…a certain something was used to obscure the body.”  Kiki countered.

“…A certain something?”  Sokyu asked curiously before Kiki nodded.

“We all agree that the glass pane was used to separate the body from the piranhas, correct?  Well, that method has the added benefit of hiding the body from view.”

“How could you hide a body like that?”  Clover asked.

How was the culprit able to conceal the body in the piranha tank…?  Kiki pondered, cycling through the discoveries she made during the investigation.  Her eyes widened as her conversation with Clover and Seven echoed in her mind, causing her to realize, That’s the one!  “It was the piranhas.  The piranhas were obscuring the body.”

“Huh?!  The piranhas?!”  Clover exclaimed in shock before Kiki nodded.  “That’s right.  Remember, Clover?  You said it yourself during the investigation.”

“Hmm…”  Clover hummed before her eyes widened in realization.  “Now that you mention it, I do recall saying something about there being more piranhas that morning than when Lotus and I rehearsed.”

“So they increased that significantly?”  Lotus questioned skeptically.  “Did Monokuma sneak in and fill up the tank with more fish while we were sleeping?”

“Hey, I gave you all the piranhas I had!”  Monokuma interjected.  “And you’d better make sure they’re still alive when this trial’s over, or I’m suing your next of kin for property damages!”

Okay…  Kiki sweatdropped.  She shook her head and replied, “While I wouldn’t put it past Monokuma, it wasn’t that the actual number of piranhas increased.  The glass pane divided the tank nearly in half, right?  The piranhas got crowded together, making it look like there were more of them.”

“The more densely the piranhas are packed, the harder it is to see past them.”  Ryoma mused.

“Because of that, it was difficult to see the body hidden in the tank.”  Kirumi realized.

“That glass pane was…the lid from the piranha tank.”  Clover concluded.  “It was really easy to detach that lid, so it’s no wonder they used it as a divider.”

“Th-thanks for telling us that u-useless detail…”  Teruaki muttered, only to earn Lotus’s ire.

“What the heck are you saying?!  That detail was super useful!  Sure, the lid looks a little big.  But if you set it diagonally, it would fit perfectly…Nice job, Clover!  Your explanation was awesome!”

But…I did most of the work…  Kiki deadpanned.

“With this much evidence, it seems like the body was definitely in the piranha tank.”  Seven concluded.

“Alright, now there should be no reason for anyone to suspect Clover.”  Lotus declared with a certain edge in her voice.

“Really?”  Clover asked hopefully as her podium retracted from the center.

“Yeah!  Cuz if you didn’t switch places with the body, then you couldn’t have killed him!”

“It only means we now have other suspects.”  Ace chided.  “You are not cleared of suspicion just yet.”

Lotus groaned as Teruaki smirked, taking Ace’s statement as a partial victory.

Okay, Clover’s mostly cleared.  Kiki thought with relief.  While it’s still possible she might be the culprit, Snake’s body being in the piranha tank makes her involvement highly unlikely.  That leaves us open to pursuing other suspects.

“…Kubota-san is…a spiteful man…”  Mokubo deadpanned.

“Agreed.”  Maki nodded.  “I’ve run into more than my fair share of people like him in my former line of work.”

“Yeah, why can’t he just accept that Clover didn’t do it?!”  Koto demanded, pouting.

“Kiki’s word should have been more than enough to convince him.”  Kiri agreed, matching her brother’s pout.  “So why does he have to be so happy that Clover still might be the killer?!”

“Some people just can’t stand being wrong.”  Makoto commented, flashing back to the former Ultimate Affluent Progeny’s arrogance in their early days as students.

“Indeed.”  Kyoko frowned worriedly.  “Hopefully he can put his spitefulness aside and arrive at a logical decision with the others so they can all survive.”

The others nodded anxiously as they turned their attentions back to the TV, hoping that everyone could keep their cools and focus on finding the true killer.

Chapter Text

“So, what’re we gonna do now?”  Seven asked as he rubbed the back of his head.  “We’re back to square one.”

“We’ve already determined that Snake’s body was in the piranha tank.”  Keebo bit his lip, his eyes crossed in pensive thought. “Perhaps if we focus on who had access to the piranha tank before the magic show, we can narrow down our list of suspects.”

“While Clover’s innocence has not yet been completely determined, we should discuss who else had had access to the gym during the time of the murder.”  Ace commented.

“Yeah, but we haven’t even determined the time of death.”  Tsumugi pointed out.  “How are we going to narrow down who could have thrown Snake’s body in the piranha tank if we still don’t when Snake died?”

“Actually…”  Everyone turned towards Kiki as she stated, “…It’s actually pretty obvious when Snake was murdered, if you think about it.”

“Then when is it?!”  Clover demanded.  “When did my brother die?!”

When was Snake’s time of death?  It wasn’t during the magic show…I know it wasn’t after the magic show…That’s the one!  “It was before the magic show, probably during nighttime, while we were asleep.”

“So Snake was killed while we were all asleep?”  Lotus asked before Kiki nodded.

“So that means the culprit probably snuck into the gym and threw Snake’s body in the piranha tank while we were all asleep.”

“But that means any of us could have killed Snake!”  Seven realized.

“I agree.”  Ace concurred.  “We need more information if we’re going to narrow down a group of suspects, let alone the culprit.”

“Then let us calmly and rationally discuss how to narrow down our suspect list.”  Keebo suggested.

It’s true that any of us could have gone to the gym the night of the murder…  Kiki thought as she glanced around at the other survivors, biting her lip anxiously.  But some of us are clearly more suspicious than others.  We have to address those suspicions, or we’ll never bring justice for Snake’s death!

“Alright, which one of you bastards went to the gym?!”  Clover demanded, her eyes narrowing in anger.

“It would have to have been last night during nighttime.”  Seven reminded them.

“I was a-asleep!”  Teruaki stammered.

“That goes for me as well.”  Ace commented.  “I was asleep in my bed.”

“Were Clover or Lotus up late preparing for the magic show?”  Tsumugi pondered.

“No, none of us were awake after nighttime.”  Lotus denied.

“Gonta obeyed the nighttime curfew.  After all, gentlemen go early to bed, and early to rise!”

“Well, you can’t all be telling the truth.”  Sokyu muttered.

“Yes.”  Keebo nodded.  “There must be someone who was awake during nighttime.

Kiki focused like a laser on Keebo’s musings and pointed at the pondering robot.  “I agree with you!  Keebo’s right; there were people awake during nighttime.”

“Th-there were?!”  Keebo exclaimed in shock.

“Wait, does that mean that there were two killers?”  Clover wondered.  “Did they work as each other’s accomplices?  Does that mean we have to vote for two culprits now?”

“That is unlikely.”  Ace shook his head.  “Remember the school regulations?  Only the one who actually kills someone would get to graduate.”

“That’s right!”  Everyone turned towards Monokuma, who explained, “You’re allowed to have an accomplice, but an accomplice gets diddly-squat!”

“Well, I guess that means nobody would work with an accomplice then.”  Lotus concluded.

“Yeah, there’s no point if there’s no reward for helping someone else.”  Seven agreed.  “Plus, it gives the true culprit a liability that they’d need to deal with.”

“A-Anyway…”  Kiki began, trying to get the conversation back on track.  “Can we agree that this case has only one culprit?”

After everyone nodded, Clover demanded “So?  Who’re the suspicious people who were up and about at night?”

The students who were awake and not in their rooms at nighttime…it wasn’t Lotus and Clover…it wasn’t Teruaki and Sokyu…it wasn’t Snake and Ace…that’s the one!  “It was Kirumi and Ryoma.”

“Wait, so either Kirumi or Ryoma killed Snake?!”  Makoto exclaimed.

“…They did have an opportunity to…”  Mokubo commented.

“I bet it was Ryoma!”  Koto exclaimed.

“Yeah, he already has a history of killing!”  Kiri agreed before her mother shook her head.

“Don’t jump to conclusions right away.  None of us would have thought Kaede would have killed someone, but she ended up being the blackened of the last trial, am I wrong?”

Everyone’s eyes lowered before Maki suggested, “Let’s just see where this goes.  Maybe they have an explanation.”

“Wait, so Kirumi and Ryoma were up during nighttime?!”  Seven exclaimed.

“Yeah, I talked with Ryoma during the investigation, and he told me that he couldn’t sleep.”

“…I did say that…”  Ryoma admitted.  “I took a walk, and afterwards I was so tired I fell asleep.”

“It’s the same for me as well.”  Kirumi nodded.  “I also felt restless and took a walk.  When I came back, I felt so tired that I practically collapsed on my bed.”

“…I don’t buy it.”  Lotus narrowed her eyes suspiciously.  “It’s still really suspicious that you guys were up at night.”

“I understand your reasonings…”  Kirumi nodded.   “However, I did not kill Snake.”

“I didn’t kill him, either.”  Ryoma shrugged.

“There’s no way both of you are innocent!”  Clover angrily pointed at the two of them.  “One of you is obviously guilty!”

“L-Let’s not rush to judgment here.”  Kiki stammered.

“She’s right, we have to think about this calmly and rationally.”  Keebo advised.  “There is a nonzero possibility that both of them are telling the truth.”

“Then why don’t we try to examine their alibis?”  Ace suggested.  “That should prove if they are truly innocent or not.”

“Very well, then I shall defend myself from your accusations.”  Kirumi narrowed her eyes as she insisted, “For I am not the blackened in this trial.”

Ryoma stayed silent, though his brow seemed to furrow worriedly.  Kiki frowned as she thought Kirumi and Ryoma are obviously suspicious.  They both say that they just went for a midnight walk and returned to their rooms.  But…is that the whole truth?  Or…is there something that they’re not telling us…?

Kiki’s dreadful thoughts were interrupted as Ace began “So, you both say that you went for a walk?”

“That is correct.”  Kirumi repeated “I woke up after nighttime and couldn’t get back to sleep.”

“I didn’t fall asleep at all.”  Ryoma told the others.

“What a load of crap!”  Clover grumbled.

“Regardless, it is the truth.”  Kirumi insisted.  “Neither Ryoma nor I had the opportunity to commit this crime.”

“So, what now?”  Seven wondered, rubbing the back of his head.  “One of them must have been in the gym.”

Kiki bit her lip as the courtroom fell silent, pondering Seven’s words.  Seven’s right; there’s no way neither of them were in the gym.  But nobody gave any clues as to which of them were in the gym.  “Sorry, but can you guys repeat what you just said?”

“Huh?”  Lotus furrowed her brow in confusion.  “Why do we need to do that?”

“Well…I think we might have a clue…but I just need to hear everyone’s statements one more time.”

After a moment, Lotus shrugged.  “Well, you heard her.  Let’s repeat this debate one more time, shall we?”

With an audible groan from the others, Ace restarted the debate.  “So, you both say that you went for a walk?”

“I didn’t fall asleep at all.”

“What a load of crap!”

“Regardless, it is the truth.  Neither Ryoma nor I had the opportunity to commit this crime.”

At that moment, Seven’s words flashed in her mind.  No…one of them must have been in the gym!  Kiki narrowed her eyes and pointed at Kiki, refuting “No that’s wrong!  Kirumi, you told us that you only went for a walk…but…”  Kiki sighed.  “…That’s not the truth, is it?”

Kirumi furrowed her brow as she frowned, her podium pulling to the center.  “And why do you believe that…?”

“Well…when I met up with you in front of Shuichi’s room, you told me that you spent some time helping to finalize preparations in the gym last night.”

“What the…you lied!”  Clover spat angrily as she pointed at the surprised maid.  “You said you weren’t anywhere near the gym!”

“…My apologies.”  Kirumi sighed.  “I knew that admitting it would only cause you to suspect me, and that would distract us from determining the true culprit.  Nevertheless, I should not have lied to you about where I was.  My deception has only made me look even more suspicious, and for that, I sincerely apologize.”

“So you’re not the culprit?”  Lotus asked, quirking her brow.

Kirumi shook her head.  “Of course not; I had no motive to kill Snake.  Also, as I told Kiki, I was only in the gym to make sure all the mechanisms were working properly.  I was only in there for a matter of minutes, no more.”

“She couldn’t have drowned Snake, set up the pane as a partition, and thrown his body in the piranha tank in such a short time.”  Keebo concluded.

“So that means Kirumi’s innocent!”  Gonta beamed with relief.  “Gonta knew she was innocent!”

“Still, the fact that she was in the gym at all is suspicious.”  Ace commented with a frown.  “Who’s to say she didn’t take those few minutes to set up the murder, leave to drown Snake somewhere else, then return to the gym to throw his body in the tank?”

“Th-that’s right!”  Teruaki stammered as he pointed at Kirumi.  “She could have e-easily don’t that!”

Ace and Teruaki both bring up a good point.  Kiki reluctantly admitted.  We still haven’t determined exactly where Snake was drowned.  Before we can determine the culprit, we have to settle where he died.  “Ano…can we just take a moment to discuss the location of the murder?”  Kiki asked.

“Who cares where my brother was killed?!”  Clover complained.  “No matter where she did it, it’s obvious that Kirumi’s the prime suspect!”

“Yeah, I’d say she’s incredibly suspicious.”  Lotus concurred.  “The fact that she lied to us certainly didn’t win her any favors.”

“Her deception aside, we should discuss this.”  Keebo argued.  “Discussing the location of Snake’s death will allow us to come to a logical decision without any regrets.”

“Yeah, I don’t see the harm in talking about it.”  Seven muttered.

“Okay, then let’s talk about where Snake was drowned.”  Tsumugi suggested.

“This is totally a waste of time…”  Clover grumbled, causing Kiki to sigh.

Kirumi’s really suspicious, I can’t deny that.  But we need to know all the facts.  We need to be on the same page.  As long as there’s something we haven’t discussed, we can’t reach a fair verdict!

“Alright, they’re finally gonna talk about where Snake was killed!”  Koto exclaimed.

“Obviously it was the pool.”  Kiri commented.

“We know that, but only Kiki investigated the pool.”  Maki pointed out.

“Indeed…”  Kyoko nodded.  “It’s all up to Kiki to convince them that Snake was drowned in the pool.”

“Don’t worry.”  Makoto smiled optimistically.  “Kiki will prove it to them.”

“Yeah…she will…”  Mokubo muttered hopefully as they watched the debate ensue.

“So where was Snake drowned?”  Gonta wondered, his eyes lowered in confusion.

“It h-had to be the t-tank, r-right?!”  Teruaki stammered.

“What, you mean the main tank?”  Clover asked before Lotus shook her head.

“We already discussed this.  He was probably drowned in the piranha tank.”

“Well, what about the pool?”  Seven asked.

Ace frowned.  “That’s not possible.  The rules state you can’t go in the pool during nighttime.”

“So there’s no evidence that he was drowned in the pool?”  Keebo wondered.

Kiki focused on Keebo’s question as she pointed at the humanoid robot.  “No that’s wrong!  There was evidence that Snake drowned in the pool!”

“There was?!”  Keebo exclaimed as Ace pursed his lips.

“Then please, tell us what this evidence is.”

Kiki nodded and explained.  “I investigated the pool on a hunch, and I found some scratch marks on the side of the pool that weren’t there when the other girls and I had our slumber party.”

“But what could have caused those scratch marks?”  Tsumugi pondered as she bit her lip in contemplation.  “Even if Snake struggled, I doubt he had anything on him that would have damaged the pool’s architecture.”

“Actually, he did.”

“He did?!”  Tsumugi’s eyes widened as she demanded “What was it?!  Was he also a wielder of the hidden blades?!”

How would he have brought hidden blades in here?  Kiki sweatdropped before she shook the thought away.  The evidence that proves Snake was able to damage the rim of the pool…  Kiki sifted through her memories of the investigation, cycling through all the evidence she had uncovered before she realized, That’s the one!  “Remember when we first saw Snake in the tank?”

“Yeah, what of it?”  Lotus asked, her brow furrowed in curiosity.

“Remember the state he was in when we saw him?”  Kiki pressed, causing Lotus to purse her lips in concentration.

“Let’s see…his eyes were closed…he was floating in the middle of the water…surrounded by those piranhas…oh, and he was handcuffed!”

Kiki nodded.  “That’s right; before Snake was thrown into the piranha tank, he was handcuffed.”

“Probably so he couldn’t thrash around too much when they drowned him.”  Seven muttered.

“I see…”  Keebo’s lips tugged into a contemplative frown.  “So you think that when Snake was being drowned, he struggled and the handcuffs scratched against the rim of the pool?”

“That also explains why the handcuffs were scratched when we found them.”  Lotus realized.  “The metal didn’t look that durable, so you could definitely damage them if they repeatedly scratched against something hard like the edge of a swimming pool.”

“Fine, so we know that my brother drowned in the pool, but where does that get us?”  Clover demanded.  “All that means is the cleaning lady cuffed him, then drowned him in the pool.”

“No, she didn’t.”

“Huh?”  Clover rested her hands on her hips and glared skeptically at Ryoma.  “Why not?”

“…Because I met up with her.”

“What?!”  Kiki exclaimed, her and the others’ eyes widening in shock at the sudden bombshell.

“Why did you not share this information with us before?”  Ace demanded.

“Because…I didn’t think it was relevant at the time.  Plus, I was tired, so I forgot.”

“We both were.  I admit I forgot about meeting Ryoma as well.”  Kirumi admitted.

“Nuh-uh!”  Clover shook her head.  “No way something this convenient is true!”

“Y-yeah!”  Teruaki stammered, pointing his finger at Ryoma.  “You’re probably just t-trying to cover for her-”

“May I remind you that there is no reward for being someone’s accomplice?”  Kirumi pointedly glared at the stammering man.  “If I were the culprit, and convinced Ryoma to take part in my plan, he would have no chance of getting out of here with me.”

“Yeah, there’s no way that Ryoma’s her accomplice.”  Seven muttered.

“So…Kirumi’s not the culprit…right?”  Gonta asked hopefully.

…No…  Kiki realized.  Just because Ryoma couldn’t be her accomplice, doesn’t mean that he’s not trying to cover for her.  And…I can’t put my finger on it…but Ryoma’s explanation feels…half-baked…  “Ryoma…can you tell us a little more about your meetup with Kirumi?”

The tennis player turned to her, raising an eyebrow curiously.  “Why?”

“Well…I feel like it might give us a clue to help us find the culprit…and if Kirumi’s innocent, it’ll help to strengthen her credibility.”

Ryoma bit his lip in indecision before Kirumi sighed.  “Go ahead, Ryoma.  There’s no harm in telling them.”

“…Alright…”  Ryoma sighed reluctantly.

Kirumi’s guilt or innocence hinges entirely on what happened between her and Ryoma…  Kiki realized.  We have to get to the bottom of this, so we can determine whether or not Kirumi’s really the culprit!

“When the nighttime announcement played, I couldn’t sleep.”

“Why couldn’t you sleep?”  Keebo pressed curiously.

“Gonta knows!  Gonta thinks Ryoma had too much coffee!”

Ryoma sweatdropped.  “Anyway…I got up and went for a walk to clear my head.”

“At that point I was coming back from the gym.”  Kirumi recalled.  “From there, I also went for a walk to burn energy.”

“I was walking around on the fourth floor…and I ran into Kirumi.  I think that must have been around midnight.”

Kiki narrowed her eyes as Ryoma’s statement regarding when he and Kirumi met up repeated in her mind.  “No that’s wrong!  Ryoma, you just contradicted yourself!”

“I…I did…?”  Ryoma raised an eyebrow, starting to sweat nervously as Kiki sadly nodded.

“Yeah, remember?  During the investigation, you told me that you hadn’t met up with Kirumi until this morning, after you both fell asleep and woke back up.”

Ryoma’s brow furrowed, the former tennis averting his gaze.  “Oh, I…I guess I forgot to mention our other run-in…”

“Forgot, he says.”  Lotus muttered.

“Yeah, I bet he’s lying about meeting Kirumi on the fourth floor!”  Clover spat, causing Kiki to furrow her brow.

Is he though?  I’m not…sure about that.  She glanced at Ryoma, seeing the confused gleam in his eyes.  I…don’t think he was lying about meeting her on the fourth floor.  Maybe…there’s more to this story…  “Ano…maybe we shouldn’t dismiss it entirely.”  As everyone turned to stare at Kiki, she explained “Maybe there’s some evidence we’re not considering.  Something that could corroborate Ryoma’s claim.”

“Like what?”  Seven asked curiously.  “Any idea what we’re looking for?”

“Well, not yet, but I just think we should double check, see if there’s something about last night that we missed.”

Ace nodded.  “Very well; let’s clear up whether or not Ryoma’s telling the truth.”

Did Ryoma meet Kirumi on the fourth floor after nighttime?  I don’t know, but we have to pin that down.  In order to determine whether Kirumi or Ryoma are the culprit, we have to determine whether they’re telling us the truth!

“I…I feel a little uneasy…”  Koto muttered.

“Yeah, me too…”  Kiri agreed as their parents’ eyes softened in empathy.

Mokubo’s eyes narrowed as he realized, “…They’re hiding something.”

“Yeah, and it’s only going to damage their credibility.”  Maki agreed.

“Hopefully this is all just a big misunderstanding, and both of them are innocent.”  Makoto said hopefully, though his eyes seemed to dance with dread.

“…Let’s hope so…”  Kyoko sighed, praying that her husband’s optimism wouldn’t be ill-founded.

“Is there anything that proves Ryoma and Kirumi met on the fourth floor?”

“I didn’t even go to the fourth floor.”  Lotus admitted.

I didn’t go either.”  Keebo sighed.

“Yeah, me neither.”  Seven muttered.

“I di-didn’t leave the g-gym!”  Teruaki stammered.

“Same with me.”  Sokyu shrugged.  “I never left the gym.”

“Didn’t anyone leave the gym?”  Tsumugi wondered.  “Surely there must be someone who investigated outside the gym!”

Kiki turned her head towards Tsumugi, her eyes widening as the cosplayer’s words flashed in her mind.  “I agree with you!  Everyone, I investigated the fourth floor.”

“Y-you went to the fo-fourth floor?!”  Teruaki stammered in shock.

Kiki nodded.  “It was when I was trying to find Kirumi and Shuichi.  Before I went to the dorms, I checked out the other floors.  As I was exploring the fourth floor, I saw that the storage room was open.”

“The storage room?!”  Keebo asked curiously.  “What would anyone go in there for?”

“I…don’t know.”  Kiki admitted.  “But when I walked inside, I tripped over a metal pole.  And on one side…I found a bloodstain.”

“A bloodstain?!”  Seven exclaimed, his eyes widening in shock.

“Yeah…this doesn’t prove that Kirumi or Ryoma were in there, but it’s possible at least that they met up in the storage room.”

“So Ryoma was telling the truth?”  Sokyu asked, causing Kiki to nod.

“It looks like it…”

“So that proves it!”  Clover exclaimed.  “They met up in the storage room, then she got him to lure my brother out there, and she hit him over the head!”

“Ah, and that’s when she transported his body to the piranha tank.”  Ace mused.

“W-wait!”  Ryoma interjected, stammering in nervousness.  “That’s not what h-happened!”

“Oh yeah, then why are you so nervous?!”  Clover glared disapprovingly at Ryoma.

“Because…she never went back to the gym after we met up!”

“Oh yeah?  Prove it!”


“Fine, I will.”  Ryoma interjected, cutting off Kirumi’s concerned voice.

Ryoma, getting nervous like this isn’t like you…  Kiki frowned.  What’s going on, Ryoma?  Why are you acting like this?

“Kirumi is not the killer.”  Ryoma insisted.

“Do you have any proof that she’s not?”  Ace questioned.

“Proof?  Do you have any proof that she is?”

“Proof that Kirumi’s not the culprit…”  Gonta crossed his arms and hummed.  “Did we even find anything like that?”

“We didn’t find anything that belonged to Kirumi at the crime scene…”

Lotus’s admission caused Kiki’s brain to spark as she pointed at Lotus.  “No that’s wrong!  We did find something that belonged to Kirumi at the gym.”

“Y-You did?!”  Ryoma flinched, his and Kirumi’s eyes widening in shock as Kiki pulled out a pair of gloves.

“I found these behind the stage when we were investigating the gym…Kirumi…they’re yours, aren’t they.”

“Yes, but…why were they in the gym?!”  Kirumi gasped, her eyes darting in confused shock.

“Don’t even try to act all confused!”  Clover glared angrily at Kirumi as she spat, “This proves it, then!  You’re the culprit!”

“It would seem to be the case.”  Ace sighed.  “Kirumi knocked out Snake, then brought him to the gym and threw him in the piranha tank.  She then went back to her room, not realizing that she had left her gloves behind.”

Kiki’s brow furrowed as she pondered, Is it?  Kirumi’s suspicious; I’m not doubting that.  But…leaving her gloves at the scene of the crime…it feels…too obvious!  Something feels off…but I can’t figure it out by myself!  We need more information!

Kiki sighed, staring at the maid in the center of the courtroom.  Her eyes softened as they flickered between Kirumi and Ryoma, seeming to plead with the two of them.

“Kirumi…Ryoma…can you please just tell us what happened?  I don’t want to believe that either of you killed Snake.  Ryoma, you may not have cared if you died, but you never showed a hint of bloodshed, in spite of your past.  Kirumi, you’ve always tried to make our lives more bearable during our imprisonment, and you’ve put everyone else’s needs above your own.  I don’t want to believe you’re the blackened, but you look really suspicious right now.  So please…can you just tell us what happened last night?  Please…?”

Ryoma opened his mouth to interject, only to swiftly shut it upon being cut off.  “…Ryoma…enough.”  Everyone turned to Kirumi, whose lip quivered as her eyes shone with remorse.  “I know you’re just trying to protect me, but as a maid, I must fulfill Kiki’s request.  Besides, solving this case now requires our complete honesty.  It’s the only way to restore our credibility.”

Kirumi nodded reassuringly at Ryoma’s questioning gaze.  At last, his shoulders slumped as he nodded in defeat, his eyes softening in regret.

“Everyone, I must apologize for causing you such trouble with my deception.  It was not my intention to take this deception so far.  So, on my honor as a maid, I will be honest with you about what happened last night.  I was in the gym last night, and I met up with Ryoma last night at the storage room.  And…”  Kirumi swallowed the lump in her throat before she reluctantly admitted, “…And…I attempted to commit a murder last night.”

Kiki’s eyes widened as she gasped, her palm covering her open lips.  “Ki-Kirumi…you…?”

“Aha!  So she confesses to the crime!”  Clover pounced on Kirumi’s confession.  “So this bitch went and killed-”

“…Ryoma.”  Kirumi interjected.  “I tried to kill Ryoma.”

Only Kyoko, Mokubo, and Maki’s eyes failed to widen as the other Naegis gasped in shock.

“Ki-Kirumi tried to kill someone?!”  Koto exclaimed.

“No way…that’s…that’s…”  Kiri stammered.

“…Unbelievable…”  Makoto’s eyes lowered as he digested Kirumi’s confession.  “I…I can’t believe Kirumi tried to kill someone.”  Or rather…I don’t want to believe one of my students was capable of murder…

Kyoko frowned sympathetically as she rested a hand on his shoulder.  “It’s not your fault, Makoto.  You know from experience how these killing games can break a person.”

Makoto sighed and nodded, reluctantly accepting the facts presented to him.  It’s like Hope’s Peak all over again…

“Still, if Kirumi tried to kill Ryoma…why did Snake die instead…?”  Maki pondered.

“…Something must have happened to cause her to spare Ryoma…”  Mokubo concluded.

“Indeed.”  Kyoko nodded.  “Whatever caused Kirumi’s plan to fail…is also likely what caused Snake to perish in Ryoma’s place.”

“I guess we’ll just have to keep watching to find out.”  Makoto lamented.

Chapter Text

“You…”  Kiki gasped, her palm shooting up to her lips in shock.  “You tried to kill…Ryoma…?”

“Yeah…it’s true.”  Ryoma nodded nonchalantly.  “I was supposed to be the victim, not Snake.”

“Hey!”  Lotus nearly shouted.  “None of this makes any sense!”

“Yeah, why did my brother die instead of Ryoma?!”  Clover passionately agreed.

“I think you should tell us exactly what happened.”  Ace stared at Kirumi.  “How did you try to kill Ryoma?”

“Yeah, and why did Snake die instead?”  Seven inquired.

“…Very well, I shall tell you everything I know about the incident.”  Kirumi sighed before she began, “After Clover announced her magic show, I determined that it was an opportunity to graduate without suspicion of my involvement.  So, as I helped with the setup, I discreetly inspected the stage, determining exactly how the trick would be performed.”

“You u-used me…”  Clover growled, gritting her teeth.  “You used me and my brother for your own benefit!”

Kirumi’s eyes lowered in shame.  “Yes, and I have since come to regret my shameful behavior.”

As Clover opened her mouth, Kiki cut her off “I know you’re angry, Clover, but we need to hear the rest of Kirumi’s story.”

As Clover grumbled, Kiki nodded at Kirumi, causing the maid’s eyes to shine in gratitude.  “After nighttime began, I went to the gym to make the final murder preparations.  Specifically, I climbed up to the top of the piranha tank and removed the glass pane covering it.  That permitted me to use it as a partition to separate the piranhas from the body.”

“Okay, so that’s how the pane got removed.”  Seven commented.  “What then?”

“Afterwards, I began to roam the halls in search of a target…which is when I ran into Ryoma.”

The tennis player nodded.  “We ran into each other on the fourth floor, in front of the storage room.  We had a conversation, and after that, I turned around.”

“It was then that I saw my chance.”  Kirumi continued.  “I saw a nearby metal rod, and with only a moment of hesitation, I grabbed it, and swung it over Ryoma’s head.”

Ryoma took off his hat and bowed his head, allowing everyone to see the slightly bloody wound.  Directly at the center of his head, his flaming red hair was a darker shade of crimson from being caked in dried blood.  “I don’t remember anything after that.”  The tennis player admitted as he placed his cap back on.

“I dropped the rod and picked up Ryoma’s unconscious body.”  Kirumi explained.  “I had just stepped out into the hallway when I felt a sudden wave of dizziness and fatigue.  I didn’t manage more than a few steps before I fainted, collapsing into the hallway.”

“You…fainted…?”  Kiki asked, her brow furrowing in befuddlement.

“When we both woke up, we realized that we were late for the magic show.  We rushed to our rooms to get a spare change of clothes before we went to the gym together.  And when we arrived…we were looking at Snake’s skeleton.”

“Well, that’s all we know.”  Ryoma concluded.

“So wait…”  Seven pressed “Snake wasn’t part of your plan?”

Kirumi shook her head.  “No, he was not.  We were just as surprised as you were when we found out that he had been murdered.”

“If that is the case, then that means Kirumi cannot be the blackened.”  Keebo realized.

“Yes, that’s right!”  Gonta agreed.  “Gonta knew Kirumi was innocent!”

“Still…”  Teruaki stammered “She just a-admitted she t-tried to commit a m-murder!”

“Yeah, we shouldn’t just let that go.”  Lotus agreed.

“I must concur.”  Ace admitted.  “After all, you didn’t tell us this story during the investigation.  Why should we believe that this is the truth?”

“I can understand your reasoning.”  Kirumi conceded.  “All I can do now is insist that the account we just gave you is the truth.”

“Besides…”  Kiki pointed out “What would be the point of lying about planning a murder-”

Revenge for my brother!”

Clover completely cut off Kiki’s counterpoint, forcing the heterochromatic girl to look directly into the pair of angered, burning eyes.  Clover, what are you…?

“I can’t believe you’re defending that witch!”  Clover gritted her teeth as she seethed “Why are you protecting my brother’s killer?”

“C-Clover…I’m not defending Snake’s killer.  I’m on your side, Clover, but there’s a chance Kirumi might not have done it.”

Clover huffed at the hurt girl frowning at her.  “If that’s what you think, you’re even more naive than I thought!  I won’t let Light’s murderer get away!  I’ll prove to you that she’s guilty, and she should die for what she did!”

Rebuttal Showdown -Truth Blade-: Clover vs Kiki!

“Kirumi has to be the culprit!”  Clover insisted angrily.

Is she though?  Kiki pondered.  I’m not so sure about that…

“She lured Ryoma out,”

They ran into each other by accident.

“and then knocked him out!”

We already know this.

“Then when my brother discovered them…”

Did he even see them?

“She decided to drown him instead!”

“But why would Kirumi suddenly switch targets?”  Kiki pointed out.  “It would have been much easier to just drown Ryoma instead.”

“Because!”  Clover rebutted.  “He had already discovered what Kirumi did!”

Again, we still don’t know if Snake truly saw either of them last night.  Kiki repressed the urge to sigh in exasperation as Clover continued her argument.

“Kirumi took the metal rod she used to knock out Ryoma…”

The one I found in the Storage Room?

“And struck him cleanly over the head!”

Is that really how it went down though?

“My brother couldn’t even fight back!”

Kiki focused on Clover’s final assertion as she raised her hand and pointed at the grieving girl.  “Let me cut through your words!”

“No, I don’t think Snake was defenseless.”  Kiki shook her head, causing Clover to plant her hands on her hips as she stared skeptically at her fellow survivor.

“Huh?  But why not?”

“Because the metal rod was damaged.”  Kiki explained “When I found the rod, it had a noticeable dent on one of the ends…the end opposite from the one that had blood on it.”

“It was…dented…?”

“But wait…”  Kirumi interjected, her head cocked in befuddlement.  “When I used it on Ryoma…the end I picked up wasn’t dented.”

“So that side got dented after Ryoma was knocked out?”  Tsumugi questioned curiously.

“If that is the case, then it corroborates Kirumi’s claim that she fell unconscious after using the improvised weapon on Ryoma.”  Keebo concluded.

“But what could have dented the metal rod?”  Gonta hummed, crossing his arms over his chest.

“Yeah, there’s no way you could damage a hard metal rod without a weapon, unless you’re as muscular as Gonta or the elephant over there.”  Lotus commented, causing Seven to close his eyes and exhale through his nose.

“Actually, Snake had a way of damaging the rod without a weapon.”

“W-what?!”  Teruaki stammered in shock as he stared with widened eyes at Kiki.

“Then tell us, how was a man as lanky as Snake able to dent a metal weapon, even if it was improvised?”  Ace questioned.

The evidence that proves Snake damaged the metal rod…  Kiki cycled through her memories of investigating the pool until the vital piece of evidence flashed in her mind.  That’s the one!  “Snake has a prosthetic arm.”

“A…prosthetic arm…?”  Ryoma asked curiously before Clover’s eyes shined in realization.

“That’s right; he lost his arm in an accident when we were kids, so the doctors gave him a metal one.”  Clover’s brow furrowed in confusion.  “But wait, we couldn’t find it in the investigation, could we?”

“Actually…I found it, but it wasn’t in the gym…it was in the pool.”

“The pool?!”

Kiki nodded.  “Yeah, when I found the scratches on the side of the pool, I also found Snake’s lost arm at the bottom of the pool.” 

“Lost arm?  You mean…this lost arm?” 

Monokuma gleefully pulled out the arm, tossing it at Kiki.  As she scrambled to catch it, Clover’s eyes narrowed in anger.

“Hey, what were you doing with my brother’s arm?!”

Monokuma assured them “Don’t worry, I didn’t tamper with it.  I just kept it for safekeeping until the Class Trial once Kiki found it.  I think you’ll agree it was a much better solution than Kiki trying to hide it under her clothes.”

“W-WHAT?!”  Clover shrieked, staring incredulously at the now blushing girl.  “You were gonna hide my brother’s arm under your clothes?!”

Everyone’s eyes turned curiously towards her.  Even Shuichi’s flickered with curiosity as they waited for an answer.

“G-Gimme a break, I was trying to think of a way to transport it so I could prove my claims at the Class Trial…I had just barely dived down to retrieve it…”

Keebo eventually took pity on her, frowning in sympathy.  “Let’s…move on, shall we?  The important thing is that we have this evidence to consider.”

Kiki sighed in relief once everyone’s eyes finally broke with her own.  “So, if Snake was attacked, he could have dented a weapon like the metal rod with his own metal fist.”  Ace mused.

“Still…”  Tsumugi pursed her lips, staring skeptically at Kirumi.  “All we know so far is that Snake was attacked with the metal rod, and he fought back.”

“Yeah, there’s still nothing that proves it wasn’t Kirumi who knocked him out and drowned him.”  Seven sighed.

“Well…”  Lotus muttered.  “I guess Kirumi’s still our prime suspect.” 

“I hate to agree with the exhibitionist grandma.”  Seven muttered “But unless someone can explain how she suddenly lost consciousness in the middle of her crime, I’m more inclined to believe her alibi is an alilie.”

Everyone sweatdropped at Seven’s out-of-nowhere joke before Clover exclaimed, “Well, there you have it!  Kirumi killed my brother!  Now let’s start the vote!”

“What?  Already?”  Monokuma asked.  “You’re suuuuure you’ve made the right choice?  Are you really okay with banking your lives on the decision you’ve made?”

“We have no viable suspects other than Kirumi.”  Ace answered with a confident nod.  “I see no reason we shouldn’t move forward with Voting Time.”

“Wait!”  Kirumi pleaded, her hands gripping the rim of the podium in a death vice as she began to sweat nervously.  “I beg of you, don’t make the wrong choice.  I’m not the killer, even though I fully intended to become one.”

“But…”  Tsumugi pointed out reluctantly “…You’re the only one who could have done it-”

“We don’t know that!”  Kiki interjected, causing everyone to stare incredulously at her.  “Believe me, I know Kirumi’s alibi is wishy-washy, but what about the evidence we’ve uncovered?  What about the dent in the rod?  What about the placement of her gloves?  Are we really gonna just ignore those clues?!”

Lotus sighed, resting her hand over her forehead and gently squeezing it before she admitted, “…I’ll admit, there are some…inconsistencies…but are those really enough to prove Kirumi’s innocence?”

“Is the evidence against her really enough to throw out those contradictions?”  Kiki countered.  “Are we really okay knowing there’s a possibility that Kirumi might be innocent?  Especially when our lives are on the line?”

“Hey!”  Clover stared at Kiki, befuddlement dancing in her eyes.  “Why are you so adamant about defending her?”


Everyone was struck silent as Kiki gripped the railing of her podium, holding back her emotional tears.  Her voice threatened to crack, and her knuckles nearly turned white from how hard she was squeezing the rails of her podium. 

“I promised Kaede that I’d do everything I could to get everyone out of here alive!  If I went along and sentenced Kirumi to death without being completely sure, without a shadow of a reasonable doubt in my mind, then not only would I be putting all of our lives in jeopardy, but I’d be disrespecting Kaede’s memory!  I COULDN’T LIVE WITH MYSELF IF I DID THAT!”

“Kiki…”  Kirumi muttered, staring in awe at the heterochromatic, emotional girl.

As Kiki barely restrained herself from breaking into sobs, everyone else looked down, stunned silent by her speech.  So taken in were they that none of them noticed the dormant grey eyes that seemed to flicker to life.

“…Alright, let’s ask ourselves one more time.”  Lotus finally sighed.  “Does anybody, anybody at all, have any idea as to how Kirumi’s alibi that she suddenly lost consciousness can be explained?”

Everyone frowned as one-by-one, they shook their heads.  Kiki felt her heart drop as she closed her eyes, a single tear dropping in defeat.

So that’s it?  We’re…all going to vote for Kirumi?  I can’t believe that’s the right answer…but I have no idea how to explain her alibi!  I can’t do this by myself!  I need help!  I need-

“…She was drugged.”

“Huh?!”  Kiki gasped, opening her eyes before she and everyone else turned towards a pair of grey eyes.

They sparked with hesitant determination in their depths, a far cry from the defeated despair that had been pooling within them.  No longer were they looking down at the owner’s podium.  Instead, they stared straight ahead at the others, the lips beneath them forming a reluctant, but powerful expression.


“It’s about time!”  Koto and Kiri exclaimed as they watched Shuichi finally raise his head.

“Well, it seems that Shuichi finally found his second wind.”  Maki observed.

“…Onee-chan must have inspired him.”  Mokubo concluded with an approving nod.

“But what does drugged mean?”  Koto asked.

“…It means she was given something that made her fall asleep.”  Mokubo explained.

“Oh, that makes sense.”  Kiri replied.

“As heartwarming as this is to see…we should probably hear what he has to say.”  Kyoko suggested, though she smiled proudly at her eldest son.

“Yeah, you’re right.”  Makoto agreed as he smiled proudly at his former student.  There’s the detective I’ve come to know!

“Wait…she was drugged?!”  Seven exclaimed.

“That’s correct.”  Shuichi nodded.  “Kirumi lost consciousness because she was exposed to a drug that made her lose consciousness.”

“But how would you know that?!”  Clover stared skeptically at Shuichi.  “You didn’t even lift a finger during the investigation!”

Well, that’s not entirely true…  Kiki corrected in her mind but kept quiet as Shuichi explained, her eyes starting to light up at the fact that he was participating at all.

“Remember just before the trial, and I said that I went to the kitchen to grab a bite to eat?”  As the others nodded, he continued “Well, when I was about to throw away my trash, I found this in the trash can.”

Shuichi held up a small, white cloth, sealed inside a ziploc bag.  “Is that a handkerchief?”  Keebo asked.

Shuichi nodded.  “That’s right, and when I held it up to my face out of curiosity, I felt a sudden wave of drowsiness.”

“That sounds suspiciously familiar to how I felt when I lost consciousness.”  Kirumi observed.

“So, you think the handkerchief knocked out Kirumi?”  Gonta asked, crossing his arms over his chest.

“But what if it was just used to knock out Snake?”  Lotus asked.

“At first I thought that too, but after digging through the trash some more, I found multiple shards of glass in there as well.”  Shuichi held up another plastic bag filled with several shards of glass.  “And being in proximity to these shards gave me a similar reaction as the handkerchief.”

“But what does that broken glass prove?”  Clover inquired curiously.

“Ah, well, it leads me to reason that both may have been applied with the same kind of chemical.”

“O-okay, so they were both d-doused with c-chemicals…”  Teruaki stammered.  “How does that prove that Ki-Kirumi was d-drugged?”

How do the drugged handkerchief and glass shards prove that Kirumi was drugged?  Kiki pondered.  Let’s see…they weren’t both used by Kirumi…the culprit didn’t use one on themselves…that’s the one!  Kiki’s eyes widened as she realized “One of them was used to put Kirumi to sleep…the other was used to knock out Snake.”

“Hold on a moment.”  Ace interjected, pointing out “If the culprit used chemicals to knock out Kirumi and Snake, then the Chem Lab should contain signs of use.”

“Well, did you check out the Chem Lab, Shuichi?”  Seven inquired before Shuichi nodded.

“Yes…I checked, and none of the chemicals in the cabinet showed signs of use.”

“So our culprit wasn’t some Shou Tucker?”  Tsumugi asked, causing Shuichi to sweatdrop.

“I’m, ah, not sure what you’re talking about, Tsumugi.  Anyway, the chemicals themselves weren’t used, but I did see that some of the lab equipment was left out.”

“The…lab equipment?!”  Ace exclaimed, his eyes widening in shock.

“But what would be the point of using equipment from the Chem Lab without any chemicals?”  Keebo pondered.

“Well, the culprit didn’t need to use pre-prepared chemicals…not when they had a natural alternative to work with.”

“What do you mean, a natural alternative?!”  Clover exclaimed.  “Stop speaking in riddles so I can understand what your point is!”

A natural alternative to chemicals…It’s probably not food in the kitchen…I’m guessing it’s not chlorine from the pool…that’s the one!  “You’re talking about the plants in the Greenhouse, right Shuichi?”

“Yeah, that’s right.”  Shuichi nodded.  “Once I deduced that they used that, I grabbed a book from the Chem Lab and went to the Greenhouse.  Next, I made a note of all the plants that had been picked that could be used for medicinal purposes.”

“And…what did you find?”  Keebo asked curiously.

“All of the plants used were ingredients for one very specific anesthetic…Soporil.”

“Soporil?”  Kiki asked curiously.

“Yeah, it’s an effective sedative, either inhaled at room temperature in its gaseous form, or injected via syringe in its liquid form.”

“So…Kirumi was given…Soporil…and was knocked unconscious?”  Gonta pondered.

“Yes, and then Snake was knocked out with a second dose before he was taken to the pool and drowned.  Well, that’s my hypothesis, anyway.”

“Hey, Shuichi…”  Everyone turned towards Ryoma, who asked, “…Why didn’t you tell us this earlier?”

“Agreed.”  Ace nodded.  “You had multiple opportunities to bring this up…so why wait until now?”

“…”  Shuichi sighed as he admitted, “…I wasn’t lying before, I really didn’t intend to participate in this investigation.  Even after I found this information out, I still didn’t want to use my talents to take any more lives.  But…after seeing Kiki fight so hard…so hard to keep her promise to Kaede…I realized something.”

“You…you did…?”  Kiki breathed in awe as Shuichi nodded, smiling at her with a hint of admiration glowing in his eyes.  Shu…Shuichi…  Kiki’s eyes grew misty, her lips tugging into a touched smile.

“…If I don’t do my part to find the culprit…then not only would I be disrespecting Kaede’s memory with my cowardice…but my inaction would cost more lives than I’d be saving.  It’s an awful choice, but I have to use my talents as a detective to save as many lives as possible!  I’ll do my part to help solve this mystery and find the blackened who killed Snake!”

“Wowee!”  Monokuma crowed.  “So the professional detective has finally gotten his groove back!  But is it too little, too late?”

…Glad to have you back in action, Shuichi!  Kiki beamed at her reinvigorated friend, ecstatic that he was finally participating with the rest of them.

“I hate to break up the kumbaya…”  Sokyu interjected.  “But in case you haven’t noticed, we still have to decide whether or not Kirumi’s alibi holds up.”

“I…I’m not buying it…”  As Kiki stared i