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Dead or Lie

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"Naegi Makoto of the Future Foundation 14th Division. In the name of the Future Foundation we hereby place you under arrest for treason."

The innocent olive eyes of the Ultimate Hope darted passed all the directions of the room. A chill drove straight up his spine when he found himself in the company of many unhappy faces. Although the room was quiet, it was clear that their silence broke volumes.

There was the overly muscular man who practically made it impossible to make out what he was thinking—he could see the scruffy guy with the fedora wasn't batting an eye with a visible smile on his face after drinking from his flask—the young women in the beanie glared at him with sinister blue eyes that could pierce through someone's soul—the blonde man with the red coat rested on the aforementioned girls lap, enjoying macaroons without a care in the world.

It hadn't been any better across the table. The giant peculiar-looking man remained idle with no real indication of his stance—and the exact opposite could be said for the muscular man with green hair and matching coat, he looked like he was ready to snap at any given moment, in fact, he probably looked the angriest—next to him, was the woman with a long ponytail that looked fairly unphased without a care in the world—and lastly, the small girl in a wheelchair who sat in silence, not even budging an inch.

The only recognizable figure to him was the Chairman, Tengan Kazuo. Though with all the propaganda made by the Future Foundation it would be kinda hard not to know who he is. In what seemed to be an ironic twist of fate: the elderly man who once welcomed him into the Future Foundation with open arms now stood against him.

His heartbeat was fluctuating, fingers trembled, and was sweating bullets. This was it...he would either leave this building pardoned and found not guilty and free to properly testify his actions, or be convicted as the traitor and forced to face whatever punishment the Future Foundation would inflict on him. Makoto's stomach already started to churn vigorously simply at the thought.

Munakata Kyosuke was the first to move. He walked along the table and brought forth a clipboard. "Harboring and concealing the fifteen Remnants of Despair, disobedience to your commanding officers, unpermitted and unsupervised use of the Neo World Program, and almost starting a potential resurrection of the Ultimate Despair, Enoshima Junko. Hmm, quite ironic. You hold the title of Ultimate Hope, yet your criminal records have become inconceivable in such a short amount of time.

Tengan pushed up his glasses to the bridge of his nose, "Munakata-kun," he said, "I entrust that you know how to properly handle this situation. We shouldn't immediately insist on inflicting a capital punishment for the boys crimes."

"Yes, Chairman. Sakakura subdue Naegi Makoto." Munakata ordered. "I want him to stand trial for the crimes that he's committed."

"Tch, don't gotta tell me twice." Sakakura Juzo spat. He didn't waste a single moment of time, placing the handcuffs onto Makoto instantly.

"Wait! You can't just do that, you haven't even heard him out!" Asahina called out intensely. The Ultimate Swimming Pro tried to step forward until her firm shoulders came to a halt when the gloved hand of Kirigiri stopped her. The lavender haired detective looked to her sternly, giving her a shake to the head.

"Asahina-san, don't interfere." she warned him, "We aren't at liberty to rebel against the Future Foundation."

There was definitely something intimidating about this man. His lethal eyes stared down on the brunette boy for what seemed to be an infinite amount of time. Makoto's memories kept flashing back to his arrival in the building when this man looked to be the angriest. "Sorry for having to do this," Sakakura sighed, "It pains me to have to arrest a hero, especially one that defeated Enoshima Junko."

Makoto's muscles eased up. "No...there's no need to apologize—"

And like a bat out of hell, the wind was completely knocked out of him with a single blow to the stomach, ultimately causing him to fall to his knees. This wasn't an ordinary punch to the stomach, no...this was definitely the talent of the Ultimate Boxer.

"You're assaulting a defenseless person that cannot fight back?" Kirigiri's cold eyes narrowed. "And you call yourself a member of the Future Foundation?"

"Shut the hell up!" Sakakura shot back. He ignored the lavender haired detective and only continued to deliver another brutal blow to Makoto's face. "Tch, like hell I'd be up in arms after all the shit you pulled. Do you even realize what you put the Future Foundation through? How do you guys possibly consider yourself heroes? As far as I'm concerned, you don't even deserve the title of Ultimate Hope!"

"Munakata-kun," Tengan cleared his throat. "I thought you had everything under control."

"You've made your point Sakakura, that's enough." Munakata ordered.

The boxer dropped a fist, "Fine."

"Naegi Makoto isn't in any condition to start testifying," Kirigiri acknowledged, "He'll need time to recover before his trial begins."

"Bullcrap, I barely even touched him." Sakakura rolled his eyes, getting shot with a look of anger from Asahina in the process.

"I'll allow it." Munakata answered. "Naegi should be allowed to properly attest for his crimes and he'd be nothing more a liability in his current state. And I'm interesting in hearing an argument from him on why he would go to such drastic measures to aid the Remnants of Despair. For now this meeting is suspended, everyone's to regroup in a few hours, the trial will be postponed for a later time."

"All division leaders are free to leave the premises and will be notified once the trial begins," he continues. "Naegi Makoto will remain here and kept under a close eye." he looked to the brunette woman with the long ponytail who still remained at her seat with Sakakura. "Yukizome, I'm entrusting you with the responsibility of monitoring Naegi until his trial begins, okay?"

"Sure thing, Kyosuke!" the peppy woman smiled from ear to ear. She sprung out her chair like a child and zipped over to Makoto, it even sounded like she was humming a song in the process. Asahina was ready to come to the aid of Makoto, until Sakakura came and completely blocked her view of the Ultimate Hope and shooting her with a sinister stare.

"Nice try, but there's no way you're going with him." Sakakura scoffed.

"Sakakura is right." Munakata proclaimed. "The three of them were former members of Class 78, survivors of the Killing School Life, and to my knowledge they contributed a role in assisting the Remnants of Despair. It wouldn't be impossible to believe they're colluding with each other. Until the trial commences, Kirigiri Kyoko of Branch 14 and Asahina Aoi of Branch 13 are prohibited from interacting with Naegi."

Asahina really wanted to give them a piece of her mind, but she was reminded of what Kirigiri had told her earlier. So she simply asked—"Naegi, are you gonna be okay?"

He smiled reassuringly, "There's no need to worry, Asahina-san. I'll be alright."

"I guess that means you're with me for now, Naegi-kun!" the brunette woman smiled pleasantly, probably a lot more pleasant that someone living through an apocalypse normally would. "Sakakura-kun went too far. We should take you to the infirmary and take care of that wound."

The Ultimate Hope nodded his head.

"Sorry, I completely forgot to introduce myself!" she lightly gripped the tips of her jacket and gave him a small curtsy. "My name's Yukizome Chisa, I'm the leader of the 5th Division of the Future Foundation, and the former Ultimate Housekeeper. My responsibility is to gather intelligence on the phenomenon of despair, it's nice to meet you Naegi-kun."

Makoto smiled, the first genuine feeling of the sort that he felt since arriving in the building. "It's nice to meet you too, Yukizome-san. You're the Ultimate Housekeeper?"

Yukizome smiled with her hands proudly rested on her hips, "That's right, it's pretty much my forte. And not just that, but I'm also the one in charge of everyday housework here in the Future Foundation Headquarters, after all, our current situation is no excuse to ignore basic house duties. But anyway, we should get you to the infirmary."

 The Ultimate Housekeeper guided Makoto to the nearest infirmary in the building, which thankfully only was on the farther side of the top floor. As she began to bring out the first aid kit, he felt a little relieved. He was lucky that someone like Yukizome was around, seemingly the only person so far that didn't look ready to have him sentenced to death. As a matter of fact, the woman was oddly more upbeat and vibrant than anyone in the building—or anyone in The Tragedy for that matter. Makoto can't recall meeting a person this optimistic since the apocalypse—well, besides himself.

And not only was she pretty enthusiastic, the other side of her felt very warm and nurturing about her. The presence of Yukizome almost reminded Makoto of his own mother.

"This will sting a little."

Makoto squinted when he felt the alcohol touch his cheek, "No...I'm fine," he grinned, attempting to put on a face.

"You're such a boy."

And not only did she seem pretty nurturing, but also rather skilled with treating wounds. One thing that Makoto noticed was the jacket she wore resembled a lab coat, in an attempt to break the silence he asked—"Yukizome-san, are you a doctor?"

"I'm the Ultimate Housekeeper, remember?" she reminded him. "After I graduated Hope's Peak Academy I became a teacher. My students were a colorful bunch, so I've had experiences with things like this from the past. In fact, I was the teacher of the 77th Class—the ones you tried to protect."

Makoto gasped, "You were the teacher of the 77th Class?" the woman confirmed his question with a solemnly nod. "Then you must know why I wanted to protect the Remnants of Despair? They used to be normal high school students, just like everyone else. They laughed together...hung out together...and they would've graduated happily if they never had met Enoshima."

"Now I'm starting to understand why everyone calls you the Ultimate Hope," Yukizome snorted. Makoto's cheeks flushed red at that response.

"No, that's just a nickname that my friends gave me. It's just...being optimistic is the only thing I'm really good at."

"Naegi-kun," the housekeeper addressed him softly, "I can understand why you're doing this. Just like you, I want to believe in the remnants—my students just as much as you do. But we're living in a cruel world and we've already lost so much. We can't defeat despair by being nice."

"The Future Foundation is the world's last hope at ending The Tragedy. Our division leaders have been pulling out all the stops to make sure it finally does it. Maybe, if you were understand things from their point of view you'd understand. Hey Naegi-kun, have you met any other division leaders yet?"

Makoto shook his head. "No, besides Munakata-san and Sakakaura-san, you're the only one that I've met so far."

And just like that the smiling woman ascended out her chair, "Then it's settled! Your trial has been postponed so that gives you plenty of time to meet some of the higher-ups, they should be in the building somewhere."

 Their first destination had been the lounge room. Makoto had recognized two familiar people from before—the serious man with blonde hair and the big red coat being fed candy from the sinister girl with short pink hair and the beanie. Makoto had remembered the girl specifically was giving him an angry look when he first arrived in the building. The blonde man stood up from his seat and didn't waste a moment to pull a kunai from his coat.

"What business do you have with us?" he warned.

"And you better answer correctly," the beanie girl warned. "I'd be a shame for Yoi-chan to accidentally impale you in between the eyes."

"Well—uhh..I..." Makoto's face went blue.

Thank goodness than Yukizome had been fearlessly standing next to him the entire time. "Calm down Ando-san and Izayoi-kun," she assured the two, paying no attention to the sharp kunai that was aimed at her. "Naegi-kun is just here to introduce himself."

"Introductions, is that all? Alright, but you'd better leave once we're done." the beanie girl said. "I'm Ando Ruruka, the former Ultimate Confectioner and the leader of the 8th Division."

"Ando-san's a master chef, but her specialty persists in the delicious confections that she makes herself," Yukizome started to explain. "Some of her customers even say that her sweets are addictive. Despite that she's quite the culinary expert in all fields and helps in the Future Foundation and provides stable food sources."

"Her confections are that delicious?!" Makoto gasped. "But, I've never saw something like that in any stores."

Ando couldn't help but scoff. "Did you really think I'd subject my confections to stores? The sweets I make are amazing and don't compare to any of this name brand snack foods."

The man in the red coat looked to Ando, who returned the favor with a reassuring nod. "And my name's Izayoi Sonosuke, the former Ultimate Blacksmith and the leader of the 9th Division. Now then, if you don't have any further business with us then I'd advise you leave us alone immediately."

Makoto scratched his chin. "Izayoi, I feel like I've read about that name before."

Without a chance to recall, Yukizome was able to catch on to his confusion. "You must be thinking about the Izayoi Clan. They're infamously known as one of the greatest blacksmith families in the world."

"We are the best blacksmith clan in the world." Izayoi corrected her, a bit of pride seaped out from his monotone voice. "The Izayoi Family specializes in top-notch weapon forgery and no other blacksmith compare to our skills. We've been at this for generations and our families history dates back to the Tokugawa Period where we made weapons feudal military."

"And it's because of the clan that Izayoi-kun learned everything he knew about blacksmithing. And one thing lead to another, and he was recognized by Hope's Peak Academy," Yukizome said. "It sure makes him a chip off the old block, but he's a little old fashioned."

The blacksmith had tightly closed his arms, "Call it whatever you want. But, I've sworn on the name of the Izayoi Clan to never wield such an inferior weapon."

"Inferior weapons?" Makoto blinked.

"Firearms, grenades, and especially nuclear weapons." Izayoi said in clarification. "There's no honor in a blacksmith that uses something so neoteric. All members of the Izayoi Clan have sworn an oath to never use a weapon that they haven't constructed themselves. Otherwise, they'll face the wrath of the Namahage."

Namahage...does Izayoi-kun still believe in that kind of stuff? Makoto thought to himself.

The Ultimate Confectioner and The Ultimate Blacksmith, it didn't need very much explanation to show that these two were a romantic couple and it definitely showed. While Izayoi's gruff and stiff appearance didn't look like I'd mesh very well with the cutsey and liveliness of Ando, but Makoto could tell that they shared a common trait in themselves—the pride they shared within their talents. On a normal circumstance that'd probably be deemed egotistical or pretentious, but in this situation it's just a relief to see people that feel more than just despair.

"Now then, if we're finished with introductions," Ando scowled, with Izayoi retrieving the same kunai from his coat, "I'd start leaving if I were you. Me and Yoi-chan don't associate ourselves with traitors."

 The next area in the building was the cafeteria. Most of the people in the room didn't really stand out much—just a bunch of men and women dressed in suits. The most distinguishable person was looked to be the muscular man that wore the cow mask. Makoto guessed that he was really defensive about removing the mask when he saw the man downing a juice box through a straw in one of the holes in his mask. It was difficult to determine what kind of expression he was making, but Makoto flinched when he saw the man making eye contact.

"Hello Chisa," the muscular man greeted, "How has your progress been going, is Naegi Makoto cooperating?"

"Sure is!" Yukizomed smiled. "I've been introducing Naegi-kun to all of the division leaders here in the Future Foundation."

"I see, well in that case..." he says, now standing up for his tiny chair and intimidating Makoto with their huge difference in height. "Listen up asshole, cuz I'm only gonna say this once! They call me the King of Kings! The undisputed Champion of World Wide Professional Wrestlig and the reigning strongest member of the Future Foundation. GREAT GOZU!"

Makoto chuckled nervously. "Okay, I'll try to remember that."

"Don't be shy Naegi-kun, he won't bite," Yukizome giggled. "When Great Gozu-san attended Hope's Peak Academy, he held the title of Ultimate Wrestler, and it definitely showed after his graduation. He's won over thirty championships, trained many professional wrestlers, and become a veteran in the industry."

"I never expected someone like you to know all this stuff, Yukizome-san." Makoto gasped in shock.

"Teachers do their homework too!" the Ultimate Housekeeper teased.

"Yeah, but that all that stuff's in the past. It happened back in my heyday," Great Gozu replied with humility. "I returned my wrestling career a few years ago and did some more traveling overseas. When The Tragedy began Chairman Tengan called me back to the academy. I've been the chairman's bodyguard ever since and have mostly focused on my contracting duties."

"Contracting dutes, what do you mean?" Makoto asked.

"You see, Gozu-san wasn't just the Ultimate Wrestler, he was also the leader of the 12th Division and his role is to oversee and assist in construction." Yukizome-san started to explain. "He takes part in building infrastructures like roadways and communications."

The wrestler nodded to confirmed her explanation, "That's true. My division has helped me restore civilization to many different places in the world. We still have a long ways to go, but I believe that we'll be able to return things back to normal."

"Ah, so we're doing introductions?" Makoto turned around to see the man he remembered from before that wore the fedora. He tipped the brim of his fedora and gave the boy a smirk, "Alright then, allow me to toss my hat into the ring. The name's Kizakura Koichi of the 3rd Division, and while I may not look the part, I'm the human resources over here in the Future Foundation."

"It's nice to meet you," Makoto grinned, "All the division leaders are alumni of Hope's Peak Academy, right? Does that mean you have an Ultimate talent too?"

"Well, yes—and no." Kizakura stated frankly, but smiled nonetheless. "Sure, I'm from Hope's Peak, same's the rest of you. Buuutt, I don't have an Ultimate talent or anything like that. No backstory, no interesting family members, and no secrets, just a regular guy."

Makoto looked to Yukizome, already aware she was about to give an explanation. "Kizakura-san may not have a talent, but he definitely knows an Ultimate whenever he sees one," she told him. "He even scouted the members of the Future Foundation."

"Yep, I was a talent scout for ten years. In fact, I wrote all the acceptance letters for the students." Kizakura answered. "I even scouted the Remnants of Despair. Man, that'll never stop being a weird sentence."

"You knew them too?"

"I didn't just know them, they were my students once upon a time. I was meant to be their teacher before Yukizome-chan showed up," Kizakura-san replied, adjusting his hat. "Wonder what could've happened to them. Hey quick question: if you've been helping those guys out for a while now, right? I don't exactly call the shots here, but I'd be cautious of the higher-ups."

Makoto felt himself breaking out in cold sweat, in his situation the last thing he would want to here is receiving a punishment. Kizakura seemed to catch up on this and said, "Just joking. Seriously, you should take the things I say like a grain of salt."

 Evidently true to its word, the library was the most quiet area in the building, and definitely a nice change of pace after the heated confrontations of before, and definitely less painful. Makoto saw there was a small girl with short blue hair and a red scarf sitting quietly in a wheelchair, he remembered her being rather aloof in the meeting room. She looked over at Makoto, but shyly continued to start typing away on her computer.

"Excuse me," Makoto spoke. "Do you mind if I introduce myself?"

The blue haired girl pressed a button on her keyboard. The big screen in front of her wheelchair turned on with a cartoonish looking white-rabbit wearing a tutu and magic wand appeared on the screen. "No, I don't mind," the rabbit answered for her.

Makoto's jaw nearly dropped when he saw the character on her screen. No doubt the rabbit on the screen was Usami—the same rabbit that was used to help the Remnants of Despair—but he wasn't sure how this even made any sense. To his knowledge Usami currently inactive, all he could assume is that this was likely a different version of her. "I think I've heard about you before. Aren't you once of the programmers chosen for the Neo World Program?"

She nodded and typed away on her keyboard again, allowing Usami to happily wave. "Yes, my name is Gekkogahara Miaya from the 7th Division, and the rabbit is my good friend Usami. I assist in overseeing the cyber security and finding ways to research and combat the Ultimate Despair. Oh, and when I attended Hope's Peak Academy, my talent was the Ultimate Therapist. Pleasure to meet you, Naegi-kun."

The Ultimate Hope smiled. "It's nice to meet you too, Gekkogahara-san."

"So you've heard of her, huh? Well I'd be kinda hard not too, after all she's our head of security here in the Future Foundation," Yukizome told him. "You wouldn't normally expect someone with a gruff name like 'Gekkoghara' to have such a cute face, but her skills are unbelievable and it's because of her that we're all safe from intruders."

The girl grabbed her red scarf and started to hide her face a little more, it seemed like her cheeks flushed red over the compliment. With her free hand she continued typing, "Anyway, Naegi-kun's right. My knowledge was requested by Hope's Peak Academy since I was the Ultimate Therapist. They requested me to help with the Neo World Program by systematically altering the functions of the human brain," she explained through Usami. The rabbit started growing mushrooms on her head, "I was told that the program would bring the world into the future and help people, but I never expected my research to be used to kill people."

"Oh...I'm sorry," Makoto apologized.

Gekkogahara shook her head. "It's okay, there's no need to apologize. But I think I should hear your testimony first."

 In the further corner of the library Makoto found the tall figure he recalled before. This giant man hovered over him as if Makoto were an insect, in fact, he was the tallest human-being that Makoto had ever seen in his life.

The giant man developed a big smile on his face when he saw the company, "Hello Yukizome-chama!" he squeaked in a voice that didn't sound like it belonged to him.

"Hello to you too, Bandai-san," the brunette housekeeper smiled, being the same height as Makoto she was second to none in height difference, but that didn't stop her from cheerfully walking over to him. "I've been introducing Naegi-kun to all the division leaders, would you mind introducing yourself to him?"

"Well, the rabbit mostly sits upside down when it rains," he said with a big toothy brin. "So, I guess an introduction wouldn't hurt. I'm Bandai Daisaku, formerly the Ultimate Farmer. Even if you're a traitor I hope we can get along like dogs and palm trees, Naegi-chama."

Makoto couldn't help but feel kinda confused—Bandai- looked to be a very cheerful and gentle person, and even reminded him a bit of Great Gozu or his late classmate, Oogami. But his phrases don't really make a lot of sense, and even his use of Japanese honorifics were skewed. Chama? That was one that you heard regularly, let alone from a grown man.

"Bandai-san is the leader of the 11th Division and is in charge of helping aid with food supplies," Yukizome stated. "His talents as the Ultimate Farmer were renowned by everyone at Hope's Peak Academy, because of The Tragedy he's not able to traditionally grow foods, but thankfully the Future Foundation have greenhouses that help him compensate for that."

"Yep, my foods are my pride and joy!" he smiled, but his head started to lower in sadness. "But it's too bad organic delicacies are much harder to come by than an ostritch that eats underwater. Since there's been a shortage in food, most people are more interested in foods that are genetically modified to feed the masses."

 In what seemed to be a strange place for one of the division leades to be, Yukizome creaked open of a supply room where Makoto recognized the girl with grey hair and a surgical mask from before. She had carefully balanced herself on the step ladder and seemed to be stocking the shelves with drugs. The mask she wore made Makoto assume that she presumably didn't want to be bothered with, but Yukizome's voice confirmed this wasn't the case—

"Hey Kimura-san, do you have a minute!" she called out.

The girl hopped off the stepladder and bowed for the housekeeper. "Good evening, Yukizome-san. Is there something I can help with you with?" she asked meekly. She looked to Makoto and shot him a look of anger, "What're you doing with the traitor?"

Makoto winced a bit, she admittingly didn't seem like a very assertive personality. "Don't worry, Naegi-kun is only here to make acquaintance with you. Would you mind introducing yourself to him?"

"I see, then I can do that." the girl nodded her head timidly, "My name is Kimura Seiko of the 4th Division. And when I was still a student at Hope's Peak Academy the talent I had was the Ultimate Pharmacist."

"Kimura-san is the head of all drug developed here, she aids in new medicine and different medical treatments," said Yukizome who looked at all the drugs on the shelf and smiled. "Her medications are really amazing and they'ved helped us out more times, than once."

It had almost felt like the pharmacist became a different person upon hearing that comment. She started to giggle a bit, her eyes light up, and her posture temporarily improved. "Y-You really think so? Thank you—Thank you, Yukizome-san."

"I don't really know too much about medicine," Makoto retorted, "What kind of medicines do you make, Kimura-san?"

The pharmacist looked rather skeptical on answering the question since it seemed she still didn't trust him very much. "Well, I can make antibiotics, and stabilizers, and anesthesia, and other types of medicines. But more than anything...I'd like to make a drug that could combat despair and save people."

The Ultimate Pharmacist didn't really strike Makoto as a very bad person. Kimura seemed very helpful and genuine person, but she also looked to have some kind of trusting issue since she acted very polite and respectful to Yukizome, but not exactly to Makoto.

 From what he was told by Yukizome, there was still another division leader that they hadn't been introduced to yet, though this person did a pretty good job at keeping them self out of sight and they was the only one he didn't see in the conference room. Makoto looked around the corner to find an ill-looking person with dirty blonde who was continuously paced across the halls back and forth. There was no doubt that he must have been the other division leader she was talking about.

"Excuse me," Makoto called out. "Are you okay?"

"Um," the dirty blonde stammered, almost like he was trying to muster up any courage to start talking. "I'm here for the meeting with the division leaders, but I wasn't sure if I could enter yet," he said, his hazel eyes looked passed Makoto and stopped towards Yukizome. He quickly proceeded to respectfully bow to the housekeeper—"Good Evening, Yukizome-sensei, it's good to see you."

Makoto's eyebrows raise. "Yukizome-sensei, does that mean—?"

"Yep, that's right!" Yukizome confirmed. "This gentlemen was a former student of mine from Hope's Peak Academy, and a member of the Future Foundation."

"I'm Mitarai Ryota of the 10th Division," he introduced, smiling awkwardly. "My duties in the Future Foundation are to oversee and implement education and culture to the areas in need. And at Hope's Peak Academy, my talent was the Ultimate Animator."

"It's nice to meet you, Mitarai-kun." Makoto smiled. "Ultimate Animator is a pretty amazing talent. Does that mean you've made a lot of animations?"

"Yeah, but I don't think they're are all that great," Mitarai muttered nervously.

"Don't be modest Mitarai-kun." Yukizome assured him, her attention faced back to Makoto. "Back at Hope's Peak Academy his works were some of the most remarkable pieces of animation that anyone had ever seen, and it's said that those who watch them could be moved to tears."

Mitarai continued to shake his head contradictory. "That's a bit of a stretch. I wouldn't exactly call myself the Ultimate Animator. I mean, I regularly skipped classes when I attended Hope's Peak Academy."

Yukizome was definitely right about his modesty. The Ultimate Animator seemed to be a relatively kind and decent person, but at the same time rather pessimistic and reserved, especially when considering some of the other over the top members of the Future Foundation that Makoto had met so far. In a way, Mitarai was an exact 180 of Yukizome's personality.


"What's this?!" Mitarai exclaimed.

Makoto's ears didn't prepare them self for such a loud noise, with them ringing repeatedly even between every individual beeping of the sound. "Where's that noise coming from?!"


For the first time Yukizome stared at the two boys with a serious expression. "It must be the security alarm. Mitarai-kun, take Naegi-kun back to the conference room quickly. I'm gonna go see what's going on!"

Without a minute to respond to her, Yukizome moved faster than lightning across the hall and out of complete sight. Mitarai looked back to Makoto, "Um, we should probably listen to her and go to the conference room."

 The security alarm was loud and persistent, and could be heard throughout the entire building. When Makoto entered the conference room he found that all the division leaders had already regrouped back in the room. Most of them looked at his with faces of confusion or anger, and they were clearly under the impression that he had something to do with this excursion.

"What's going on?" Mitarai asked, "Did something happen?"

"It seems the building is under attack," Munakata answered seriously, he seemed to be reading information off a small tablet. "We've been receiving reports saying that our security have just been intruded and four of our armed forces were just confirmed killed."

He looked to Gekkogahara, "I need intel on what's going on. Have you learned anything about our perpetrator?"

The therapist typed on her computer at a breakneck pace. It was made clear something was wrong when Usami started to sweat nervously, "I couldn't find a perpetrator! But whoever this person is took down all of our escape routes," she pressed a button on her computer and displayed the security footage to everyone on the main screen. "The main entrance is covered in rubble, the power was cut on the elevators on every floor, and they even managed to take out the fire escapes."

"Dammit," Sakakura growled. "How convenient that we're under attack on the same day as Naegi's trial."

"But, I had nothing to do with this!" Makoto defended.

"Whether you had anything to do with this or not remains to be seen, however, we must remain cautious. Sakakura restrain him." Munakata ordered. The boxer agreed, immediately started grabbing Makoto and pinning him to the ground.

The doors slammed right open with Asahina rushing inside with Kirigiri following her from behind. "The security guards," the swimmer alarmed, "I found them inside the bathroom. They're all dead!"

"What...?" Munakata gasped.

Kirigiri walked pass Asahina and knelt down to Makoto, "What's the situation?"

"The building's been infiltrated and all the exits are blocked."

Just like before Yukizome entered the doors and passed everyone rushing right to Munakata's side. "Kyosuke, I came back as fast as I could!" she cried out, "I tried to contact one of the offshore branches, but I couldn't get a signal!"

"This isn't looking so good," Tengan admitted. "With the all escape entrances gone and our security taken down there aren't too many ways to combat the perpetrator."

"What should we do?" Mitarai asked concerningly.

"We all need to remain calm, we've prepared for this instance since the Future Foundation's inception," Munakata stated. "There are many division leaders present and accounted for. We need to stay alert and be prepared for whatever we're fighting."

Makoto could hear a gasp, with Chairman Tengan noticing a small cylinder falling between them. "What's that?" he gasped, suddenly a barrage of smoke gushed out the device, the first ones to go down were Bandai and Gekkogahara who didn't have a moment to react.

"A sleeping gas!?" Kimura gasped.

"Everyone, hold your breathe!" Munakata yelled. Unfortunately it seemed far too late as half the room started to fall unconscious little by little. He felt even more anxious when he saw Yukizome was slowly falling unconscious, he attempted to aid her but he passed out as well.

"Kyosuke..." the housekeeper weakly called out.

Makoto looked to be one of the few that were still fighting the smoke. He looked around the entire room to find anyone that was still awake, the only other person who continued to fight was the Ultimate Detective. The Ultimate Hope let out a loud—"Kirigiri-san!"—before he too passed out.

 It's unsure of exactly how long Makoto had been unconscious, though with the heaviness in his body and disoriented head, it seemed to be at least a few hours. His green eyes crept open and he slowly stood onto his knees, taking in a quick examination of everything that was happening. It looked like everyone was starting to wake up like he was, the power had now been restored, and the ear-numbing security alarm had finally turned off. It was kind of strange, Makoto was nearly positive that whoever infiltrated this building would have kidnapped him—he would've thought that someone would have kidnapped them for information, or maybe the infiltration was a bizarre punishment for helping the Remnants of Despair—but he found himself in the exact same building.

It seemed that everyone else started waking up as well.

He looked down to his left and saw something strange—there looked to be some kind of bracelet attached to him with three additional buttons on the side—what was this doing here, did the perpetrator put this on him? Out of complete curiosity, he pressed the first button on the bracelet.

"Running in the Hallway"

Those four words endlessly rotated along the bangle in bright red letters. Running in the Hallway? echoed in Makoto's head. He couldn't exactly determine what this was supposed to mean or what the purpose for these bracelets were, but something told him it'd be better not to mess with this thing for now.

Those thoughts were cut short when Kirigiri and Asahina started waking up as well. "Naegi, Kyoko-chan, are you okay?" the latter asked. The Ultimate Hope nodded with confirmation, and took notice of the bracelets that were secured around the girls wrists as well, and the same seemed to apply for everyone else.

"I'm fine," Kirigiri answered. "It seems that whoever knocked us unconscious took the liberty of putting these bangles on us. It's too early to say what they're purpose is, so it's better to leave them alone for now."

"We're not dead?" Kimura blinked with confusion.

"Guess that means we're not in real danger!" Bandai grinned. "It must've been a false alarm or something. A close shave looks like pluto to the birds!"

Kimura only glared at Bandai in confusion. Kizakura rested a hand in his pocket, "False alarm, huh? Nah, not possible. That wouldn't explain where the sleep gas grenade came from, or why it magically disappeared when we wake up."

Yukizome looked very concerned about the predicament. "Yeah, and where did these bangles come from?"

"Our main priority should be to remain calm and think of what to do next," Munakata told everyone sternly. "We need to find the perpetrator, so everyone stay on guard and—"


"What was that?" Mitarai cried out.

Asahina froze. "That laugh. couldn't be."

Makoto's heart almost stopped when he heard that laughter. His stomach immediately started to feel heavy all of a sudden, and his feet couldn't firmly stand on the ground. But worse than anything of that were the assortment of despair-inducing flashbacks that rushed into his head like a slideshow. The relentless projectiles of the baseball pitching machine to Kuwata—the creaking from the empty motorcycle to Oowada—the cackling of the wooden steak to Celeste—the brutality of the bulldozer to Alter Ego—and the nerve wracking anticipation of the guillotine to himself.

All those painful memories from the "Academy of Despair" surged back into his head and in some way, it felt like he was being dragged back into reality.


"Whoever's there, show yourself!" Munakata demanded.

"As long as despair exists in the hearts of people, Monokuma will live forever!" the silence was broken by a flamboyant voice. All fifteen people looked over to the table in unision and saw what seemed to be two-toned teddy bear—one half an adorable white teddy bear—and the other half a sinister black bear. "Hiya bastards, long time no see!"

The infamous teddy bear looked to everyone with happiness, it even looked like his slasher smile grew bigger when he saw the three survivors of the previous killing game, with Makoto returning the favor with a glare of anger. Since The Tragedy began there have been Monokuma's running all over the world, more than anyone could possible count, but there was something different about this one...something more familiar.

For what seemed to be an entire minute, they all remained silent. Tengan had been the first to finally break the silence, "Is that a Monokuma unit, what's it doing in the building?"

Makoto's eyes widened in total shock. His suspicions seemed correct, this was not just an ordinary Monokuma robot, those gestures were something he couldn't forget in a million years. It was the same Monokuma that hosted the Killing School Life, or at least one affiliated with those events.

"Did the Remnants of Despair really find headquarters?" Great Gozu asked.

"No, that's impossible!" Munakata refuted. "The Future Foundation H.Q is government protected. The building is located on a remote island far from civilization, and it was intentionally kept out of all maps."

"Alright, you have our attention. What do you want from us?" Tengan asked frankly.

"Ohh, looks like we got plenty of new faces here. Allow me to introduce myself! I am the god of this beautiful world, Monokuma! The adorable and charismatic Chairman of the Future Foundation!"

Chapter Text

It was so surreal. It was like escaping hell, only to be thrown back, and after going to hell and back just to escape Hope's Peak Academy the one thing Makoto never dreamed of seeing ever again was Monokuma—who continued prancing around the boardroom table. This only invoked in anger in Makoto when he remembered how Monokuma introduced himself. "Chairman, what're you talking about? Tengan's the Chairman of the Future Foundation, not you!"

The two-toned teddy bear pressed a button which turned the main screen on, now revealing the Future Foundation's emblem that now donned the infamous red eye of Monokuma in the logo.

"Not anymore he's not. Tengan was the Chairman. But the Future Foundation is now under new management! Isn't your skin just crawling with anticipation?" the bear asked, with everyone just looking at him with either anger or fear. "Anywho, it's about time we go out with the old and in with the new and give that old timer the pink slip so we can move the Future Foundation into a new generation. I mean, what's Tengan like a hundred years old or something?"

Tengan ignored the childish comment, his eyes narrowed with skepticism, "And what exactly do you intend on doing with that power?"

"As the Chairman of the Future Foundation, I've realized that you bastards have made such amazing progress trying to end The Tragedy, and I think it's time for you all to get the reward you deserve!" Monokuma's slasher smile grew even wider, hardly even able to contain his laughter, "Upupupupu...I've decided to start a killing game! But not just an ordinary killing game—The Final Killing Game!"

No...this can't be happening...not again, I won't believe it! Makoto screamed in his head. He should've known something was up when the building was being infiltrated, or when Monokuma showed up straight away after waking up. Of course they were going to be in another killing game again.

"You wanted us to kill each other?" Great Gozu asked with nervousness.

Monokuma nodded eagerly. "Yep! And the methods don't even matter. I better give you guys a basic rundown of The Final Killing Game for all you newcomers—You fifteen bastards will live a communal life inside the building until further notice, and anyone who commits a murder without being exposed is free to leave this building. But, WAIT, there's a catch! If a murder occurs the rest of you gotta explore this building and find out whodunnit."

The bear pressed another button and displayed a different image on the main screen: a side-by-side image of three girls and three boys standing at podiums. "After that, you'll make your argument in a trial to determine the difference between blackened and spotless. After that all participants will vote on who they believe is the killer. If they're correct then everyone will be move through the killing game and continue and only the blackened will be executed. But if you vote incorrectly, everyone except the blackened will torn to shreds by an army of killer Monokuma's!"

"So the rules are the same as the school life of mutual killing." Kirigiri understood. "But there's something that I'm curious about, why are you referring to this as the Final Killing Game?"

"Upupu...I was waiting for one of you bastards to ask that question, and who better than the prodigal know-it-all herself? Recently, I've been painfully bored, y'know being the Ultimate dictator of all of humanity and all. And I've got a fever and the only prescription is more despair, so I decided to end my reign in a big blaze of glory with one more game. And the best news of all—the fifteen of you are gonna participate in this game and kill each other!"

"Hell no! We're not gonna play any of your stupid games! All of us are comrades, friends. We won't kill each other!" Makoto bursted with anger, his words carried an even harsher meaning as the deaths of his old classmates flashed back into his head, "Not now...not ever again!"

The bear lowered his head in sadness. "Aww, you're no fun at all, Naegi-kun. What a shame too, after all that time I spent working on this game. I wanted to make this third killing game the best one out of them all."

"What's your problem?" Asahina snapped. "Why do you keep doing all these awful things!?"

Monokuma tilted his head, "I dunno, whys a raven like a writing desk? I do it for the DESPAIR, duh! The nail-biting, spine-tingling, hair-pulling, heart-stopping, despair!"

"But, is what he's saying true?" Mitarai shivered, "Are we really gonna be forced to kill each other?"

Tengan grimaced. "If that's a question you're asking, then I'll answer honestly. We're trapped inside a building where tensions are high and the possibility that a killing game happening is quite likely."

"Like hell it is!" Sakakura answered as he started to crack his knuckles. "I'm gonna tear all the stuffing outta this little bastard!"

Ando looked to Izayoi to give him an assuring nod. "Give em' hell, Yoi-chan," she ordered. The blacksmith nodded confirmingly and readied a set of shurikens between his fingers.

"I don't know how the Ultimate Despair found their way inside this building. But if you wanna start a fight asshole, first you'll have to answer to...GREAT GOZU!" the wrestler declared, having flung his coat to the ground.

Munakata unsheathed his sword, exposing his high-tech and futuristic-looking katana, "In the name of the Future Foundation, I refuse to let anyone fall at the hands of your despair."

"I don't know who's controlling you...but I won't let you make any further moves!" Gekkogahara angrily typed on her keyboard.

Monokuma didn't pay much attention to the Ultimate Therapist and glanced over at her Usami avatar, who continued to threateningly hold her magic stick. "Scuse me, have we met before?" he asked.

And somehow through methods incomprehensible the bear appeared in the therapist's computer and was somehow on her screen, the only logical explanation is that whoever was controlling Monokuma hacked into Gekkogahara's computer. The two-toned bear proceeded to pounce onto Usami and duke it out in a cartoonish brawl with her as ice cream, diapers, and screws fell all over the place. Gekkogahara attempted to control things, but Monokuma overpowered her avatar with ease.

"Congratulations, it's girl!" Monokuma gleefully announced. He presented Usami on the screen, a now half-white and half-pink rabbit, stripped of her magical stick and wings and replaced with an humiliating diaper. "From now on you'll be Monomi. My ugly, useless, boring, and stupid little sister!"

"W-What're you talking about! I'm not your sister!" cried Usami—or Monomi for that circumstance. Gekkogahara looked to the teddy bear with confusion and concern as she attempted to pinpoint how he managed to hack into her computer, but failed. "What's happening? I can't access anything on my computer anymore."

And then somehow the bear appeared from out of Gekkogahara's and returned back to the desk in physical form. "Yeah, I just totaled the wireless connections in this building! You bastards are trapped like rats—or more like carrots."

"Geez, you bastards are really disappointing. First day on the job and you guys are already trying to break the rules and rebel against your leader," Monokuma moaned in annoyance. "It's like you want to be injected with poison—oops! I haven't revealed that plot point yet!"

"Poison?" Kimura's eyes widened. "What're you talking about?"

"You see those nifty-looking bangles on your wrist? Each of you guys has one of them," Monokuma explained. He tapped his foot on the keyboard and revealed what looked to be a basic demonstration of the bangles functions on the main screen. "They were beautifully designed by yours truly. Everyone's bangle has a certain forbidden action that they aren't allowed to perform. Doing so will administer a lethal dose of poison. You gotta admit it's pretty neat, even 007 never used a gadget like this before."

"So, let's see if I got this straight," Kizakura spoke up. "These bangles restrict certain actions from us. But what's your angle?"

"The bangles were made to keep you bastards in check," the bear says, "After all, you guys are the world's last hope, so there's no way you'd give into a killing game that easily. Which reminds me, I forgot to give you the rules for this killing game."

"Rules?" Mitarai asked.

"Yep, nothing too big, just a little provisos to help things run a little more smoothly," Monokuma grinned. "Everyone please press the second button on your angles and you'll find the rules to this killing game."

After waking up Makoto had recalled that he discovered three buttons on the side of his bangle, though he didn't bother with them out of fear of what they could do. He had pressed the first button out of complete curiosity and learned his forbidden action. His finger went and pressed the second button that Monokuma was talking about and met himself with another wall of red text scrolling across the bangle. The Ultimate Hope's blood ran cold when he started to read the first rule—

"All participants must reside in the Future Foundation HQ until the game ends."

He skimmed over that single rule so much it felt like his heart was in his mouth. So that meant the rules were just like the Killing School Life? Everyone would be forced to live their daily lives trapped inside this building, almost like a prison, and like Monokuma said the only way to escape was to commit a murder. He saw that Asahina was trembling in fear, and Kirigiri looked even more aloof than usual, needless to say, they both were bothered by this rule as well.

The lavender-haired detective glared at Monokuma, "If these rules are the same as the previous game, then that must mean there's no escape, yes?"

"Correctamundo! And if you bastards had forgotten, the exists were completely destroyed when I infiltrated this building. All connections to the outside world are gone, too!" the bear revealed with a smile, "And not only that, but you're all trapped on this top floor until a murder is committed."

"Any violence committed against Chairman Monokuma is strictly prohibited and will result in immediate punishment. The same applies to the destruction of any cameras and monitors."

Sakakura was the first person to finishing reading this rule, evidently certain from his clenched fists and teeth, "So, not only are we trapped in this building, but now they're saying that we can't even touch the damn bear?"

"He's trying to make this a bigger challenge for us," Kizakura said casually. "Guess that means we really do have to abide to his rules."

"And if this rule is broken we'll be injected with poison?" Munakata understood. He firmly gripped onto the handle of his katana, he hoped that Monokuma wouldn't say yes, but inevitably enough the bear nodded his head.

"Removing of all the bangles are prohibited and will result in being injected with poison. They'll be removed when the game ends."

"The bracelets are seriously stuck on us?" Kimura observed them. "No, that can't be. There must be a way to bypass the effects."

Ando rolled her eyes at the pharmacist. "How do we know you're not just playing coy? Aren't you like the Ultimate Freak of Science or whatever? You could have easily made these poisonous bangles and knocked unconscious."

"If you're inclined to believe that Ultimate Freak of Science is an actual talent, then maybe you're the one who's coy." Kimura shot back.

"Stop arguing you two!" Yukizome scolded, "We shouldn't be fighting at a time like this."

"The Final Killing Game will continue until there are only a remainder of three survivors."

Makoto's heart sank into an abyss when his eyes scrolled across the last rule of the bangle. The killing game would continue until there are only a total of three survivors? Three survivors he kept repeating in his mind. He recalled the past killing game—it was Hagakure, Fukawa, Togami, Asahina, Kirigiri, and himself that were successfully able to escape. A total of six people...but three survivors. He started to recall exactly how ruthless Monokuma actually was. If this game actually begins, that means twelve people standing in the room would all be dead by the end of it.

Bandai shuttered with fear. "I know that grapes are like clouds on Tuesday, but is Monokuma serious about this. Only three survivors? Does that mean half of our group is gonna die?"

"No, that can't be right!" Yukizome protested. "We can work together and prevent that from happening!"

"Speak for yourselves! If you all wanna kill yourselves than be my guest," Ando scoffed. "But I'll take advantage of that rule if I have to!"

Gekkogahara typed with agitation, with Monomi sweating bullets, "You don't really mean that, do you?"

"Well of course I do!" the Ultimate Confectioner shot back. "When push comes to shove, can we really trust anyone in this room?"

"Let's not make preconceived notions so quickly," Kirigiri pointed out, placing a finger onto her chin. "I don't believe Monokuma would make such a precise rule unless there was an ulterior motive behind it. Isn't it odd that he specifically states only three survivors as opposed to any other number?"

"Maybe, he's just bluffing?" Mitarai suggested.

"Nope! I'm not bluffing," Monokuma assured. "I'm sick and tired of all these namby pamby happy endings. So this time around I wanted to really spice things up and make sure that you bastards don't escape this building unscathed!"

Makoto gritted his teeth, "That'll never happen. We're all friends and we won't kill each other!"

"Huh, are you still blabbering about that friendship crap again?" Monokuma moaned. "Last time I checked none of you guys were actually friends. Weren't you about to be prosecuted, Naegi-kun?"

The bear stepped off the table and rested on what was formerly Tengan's chair, which only further affirmed that he was the new Chairman of the Future Foundation. "Well anyway, while you bastards chew on that, I'm gonna add a little spice to my glorious introduction and deliver you with the first motive, and two days earlier than expected! There's a traitor! Yep, you heard that right, a traitor! Somebody in this room helped me infiltrate this building and is secretly masterminding this killing game! And whoever finds and exposes them in the next two days will end this killing game. No trial—no charge—and most importantly, no punishment."

"This sounds like a ruse to get everyone to kill each other," Tengan said sternly. "And how do we know you'll keep your end of the bargain?"

"And what about this traitor, is it really one of us?" Yukizome asked concerningly.

Monokuma nodded his head. "Mhhm. A traitor—maybe one, maybe two! Or maybe you bastards are all traitors and have been put inside of a simulation device?" he laughed despite no one finding it funny. "Come on, these are the jokes! Sheesh...tough crowd."

The two-toned bear immediately took notice of the despair that everyone already started to feel. "Well, I'm gonna slip out for now! I have a lot of chairman-like duties to attend to." his head proceeded to creepily spin in 360 degrees like that of a horror film, an action that Makoto couldn't but cringe at when he heard the discomforting cracking sound. "And remember, you're beloved chairman is always watching you!"

And just like that, the bear hoped underneath the table and made a retreat to who-knows-where leaving all the fifteen people with a bitter taste in their mouths, with everyone far to focused on the announcement to even care about where Monokuma had run off to.

The Ultimate Hope could only be reminded of the previous killing game. He could only remember that he was corner in what seemed to be the endless walls of despair. He could only remember how the Future Foundation the absurdly powerful organization dedicated to ending The Tragedy—had now amounted to fifteen powerless individuals trapped at the hands of Monokuma.

It had been just like Tengan said, they were now trapped inside a building with tensions are already high, and the only means to escape is to murder another participant. And with the unwelcoming addition of the bangles and the motive of a traitor, the odds of someone committing a murder has suddenly skyrocketed.

"Why would Monokuma give us information about the traitor?" Gekkogahara asked.

"Because he doesn't believe we can find the traitor in that amount of time." Tengan deduced.

"Well in hindsight, a traitor would make a lot of sense," Kizakura acknowledged. "We've already established the headquarters isn't located on any maps. Someone in this room must've been pulling strings from behind and helped Monokuma infiltrate the building. But it's time for the million dollar question—exactly who did it?"

"Tch, isn't it obvious?" Sakakura bluntly replied. "The traitor's Naegi, plain and simple."

"Don't tell me you're still going on about that? Naegi's not the traitor!" Asahina hissed.

"Do you have any solid evidence to back up that claim?" Kirigiri aloofly followed.

"You want some proof? Fine, I'll give you some fucking proof. Remember the last rule that Monokuma gave to everyone?" Sakakura reminded. "This game will continue until there are only three survivors. And what a coincidence, there are three survivors from the Killing School Life here—Naegi, Asahina, and Kirigiri. For all we know, Naegi could be trying to off the Division Leaders and walk off with his friends scott free."

"No, that's wrong!" Makoto defended. The power of his voice broke through the argument of the boxer. Asahina and Kirigiri both couldn't help but smile. "I wouldn't do that...I don't wanna take part in this at all, I'd never agree to something that involves killing people! We shouldn't be fighting against each other, we need to work together, beat Monokuma, and put an end to this killing game before it happens!"

Munakata clears his throat. "A compelling argument, but there's no doubt that Sakakura makes a feasible statement. In our current situation, the fifteen of us have been trapped inside a building where tensions are already high. We already have our divided differences, and with the only means of escaping this building being to kill another comrade, it's easy to be betrayed in a situation of this caliber."

A cat-like smile crept on the mouth of Ando. "When you put things like that, doesn't that mean any of us could be the traitor that Monokuma was talking about? Even Munakata."

"What do you mean?" Mitarai hesitantly asked.

"Wasn't this building originally an overseas campus for Hope's Peak? Munakata would know more about this building than any of us. He could have sent the Ultimate Despair to infiltrate this building, place the blame on Naegi, and we'd be none the wiser." Ando explained, "Did I miss anything?"

"No...Kyosuke can't the traitor!" Yukizome exclaimed in shock.

Sakakura was obviously ticked off by this, he wanted to raise a fist to her but stopped himself. "If you wanna talk shit about Munakata, you'd better be prepared to pay the price."

Ando scurried behind Izayoi's back, clinging on his arm in fear. The blacksmith gave a threatening expression to Sakakura before pulling a knife out of his coat. "I would refrain from making threats to Ruruka, unless you want to answer to me."

"Enough!" Munakata shouted. He looked around the room and started to take notice of the events, only a few shorts minutes into the killing game and everyone was already to divide themselves and begin conflict. "Ando is correct. We don't have enough information about who the traitor is. Based on Monokuma's statement, whoever finds the perpetrator in 48 hours, approximately two days, will end this killing game and be free of charge. If we're to prevent a killing game, then we must abide to Monokuma's rules until we can find our own way out of this building."

"But how do we know Monokuma isn't just trying to deceive us?" Great Gozu suggested. "Is there even really a traitor among us?"

"Kizakura-kun is right, the chances of a traitor being among us are very likely." Tengan reminded him.

Munakata looked to Makoto, "In that vein, I have a proposal to make with you. If you and your friends are able to prove to the Future Foundation that you aren't the traitor before the time limit that Monokuma gave us all, then you'll be freed from yous suspicion of being responsible for this game."

"But, what happens if Naegi can't find any evidence in time?" Asahina asked.

"Then Naegi will be considered guilty and subdued from any further actions," he replied strictly. "You were already adherent with the Remnants of Despair and did many treacherous actions behind our backs, we can't afford any more casualties in this predicament. As the Vice Chairman of the Future Foundation, I refuse to let anyone die on my watch. Am I clear?"

"Yes, Munakata-san." Makoto nodded affirmingly.

After Monokuma left and dismissed the fifteen participants, Makoto and the others were free to investigate the rest of the building. As the two-toned bear had mentioned beforehand, all the exits were destroyed. If the windows blocked with metal plates and the elevators being out of order weren't already bad enough, the connections to the outside world were completely gone. Gekkogahara had grasped at straws attempting to use her computer to find a connection to the outside world, but couldn't receive a signal from anything from outside the building.

What ticked Makoto off the most about these new adjustments were the abundance of black and white monitors and surveillance cameras scattered at every corner. The entire building had Monokuma's face on it everywhere you'd look—even the portrait of Hope's Peak Academy Founder, Kamukura Izuru, found in the hall was taken down and replaced with a portrait of the bear.

Frankly, there was nothing more he wanted than to destroy all of them in sight, but the last thing he needed was to be injected with poison.

The new additions added to the building did raise another question—why were all these surveillance cameras doing here? Makoto thought back to the previous two games where those annoying yellow cameras were everywhere you looked, the first time they were broadcasted live to the entire world, and the second time they were broadcasted to the Future Foundation. But what about this circumstance? If they were being broadcasted around the world again, then wouldn't someone from the Future Foundation have already come to find and rescue them?

A major adjustment to the building was that Monokuma seemed to have made some remodeling to the office rooms by turning them into dorm rooms. They were divided into two sections, mens and womens. And while Makoto obviously couldn't enter the women's dorms, the men's dorms had the standard fare—there was a bed, a bathroom, and a closet filled with black suits and ties akin to the one he was already wearing.

It was serviceable to say the least, but only added insult to injury that Monokuma was content on imprisoning them here.

After performing a basic investigation of his surroundings Makoto reported back to the halls with Asahina and Kirigiri. "Naegi, did you check everything out?" the Ultimate Swimmer asked.

Makoto nodded. "Yeah, and so far I haven't found any ways to escape. And there's something strange that's been on my mind. The building looks a little different compared to was when Yukizome-san was showing me around."

"Yeah I noticed too," Asahina agreed. "Monokuma is pretty confusing to follow sometimes, so he must've done this when we were all knocked out."

"Yes, and with the bangles restricting us, it will even be more difficult to maneuver in this building." Kirigiri remarked. She looked over the red text repeatedly scroll across the bangle and glared at it with seriousness.

Asahina glanced at Kirigiri taking notice of her bangle and leaned over to the two, "Hey Naegi, Kyoko-chan. You guys have forbidden action's too, right? What do yours say?"

"Running in the Hallway..." Makoto licked his lips. "I'm not sure what it's supposed to mean, or why Monokuma gave it to me."

The Ultimate Swimmer pulls down the sleeves of her blazer and reveals her bangle. "Mine's behind hit with a punch or a kick. That's too bad, I'd really like to give Monokuma a piece of my mind in a situation like this."

"What about you, Kirigiri-san?"

The lavender haired detective complied with a solemn nod, and revealed her bangle to the two. Upon reading the continuous red text, her two former-classmates were appalled to see what her forbidden action read—"No Information"—and was naturally met with looks of confusion from her friends.

"Hm, no information?" Makoto's eyebrows raise. "Is that a glitch or something?"

"I can't say, there's not enough information for me to go on. But it can't be just a coincidence," Kirigiri replied, "And somehow I doubt that Monokuma would give me of all people a bangle without a forbidden unless he had a reason for doing so," her purple eyes narrowed, "He's planning something."

"This all seems kinda familiar." Makoto said, with Kirigiri having his full attention. "Back at Hope's Peak Academy, Enoshima erased your memories of being the Ultimate Detective, but the rest of us could still remember our Ultimate talents. Could this circumstance be similar?"

"That's possible." Kirigiri replied.

And that only begged the question of something else; if the person that encapsulated the fifteen of them in this building really was aware of Kirigiri's amnesia at the beginning of the previous game, and specifically gave her a blank forbidden for that same reason, then they must have some knowledge of the Killing School Life, in the back of Makoto's mind that only possible explanation is that they could have watched the broadcast.

His thoughts were eventually brought to a halt, he heard the sniffing and he saw that Asahina had soft tears fall to her cheeks.

"Asahina-san, are you okay?" Kirigiri asked.

The Ultimate Swimmer had taken notice of his concern and wiped the rest of her tears. "Why's all this happening to us? This isn't fair," she sadly lamented. "After all the stuff we went through to escape Hope's Peak Academy, all our friends that died so we could escape, and now we're being put back into another killing game."

It was easy to understand how Asahina was feeling. Of course, she would be feeling awful in this situation, but who wouldn't? Makoto was left to reminisce about the past events of being enclosed in the midst of a mutual killing game; watching your friends cave into despair; killing each other until no one is trustworthy; sacrificing your allies just to survive, those were all major factors that could play into this. But reminiscing about unchangeable events could only get you so far and Makoto knew now wasn't a good time for that.

Subconsciously the sentence, "Things are's not like the last time," escaped from his mouth.

"What're you talking about? Of course it is."

"No, it isn't," the Ultimate Hope developed a smile, with courage mustering with his words. "This time things are different, there's no need to doubt and betray each other to survive anymore. We have an advantage that we didn't have the last time—our memories."

"Our memories?" Asahina questioned.

A different array of memories started to pop into his head—like the cherished moments of being enrolled in Hope's Peak Academy with his classmates. That's right, he had Kirigiri and Asahina aiding him this time around. "Yeah, definitely. This time we're friends right off the bat. We have an idea on what to expect this time around, and we won't be alone anymore. You, me, and Kirigiri-san can all work together to prevent any killings."

"Even though Togami-kun and I agreed we'd be leaving this in your hands?" Kirigiri reminded him, but smiled nonetheless.

"Well to be honest, I don't really think I could do it by myself."

Upon witnessing the sight of her friends smiling, she felt a little relieved that two of her friends would be present this time and it seemed like she wasn't going to be alone this time. Asahina couldn't help but laugh, "I'm jealous of you, Naegi. How can you be so cool right now?"

The brunette reacted by chuckling, and modestly scratching the back of his hair. "I'm not cool. Being optimistic is just all I'm really good at."

"I guess things are too bad when you put them into perspective," Makoto had acknowledged, he took another look at his bangle before ignoring the forbidden action entirely and looking to his two friends with determination. "We have to find the mastermind behind all this and expose them before a killing game begins. If we find out whoever's controlling Monokuma, then that should ensure that the game will end without any killings starting."

Chapter Text

Consciousness hit Makoto like a brick wall. For some peculiar reason some of the happier memories in his life played in his head—like the times where he watched anime with his little sister during childhood, or the time he actually mustered up the courage to go to a tanabata festival with Maizono. Of course, they were happier memories of a simpler time, a time before despair.

He aimlessly gazed at the ceiling for such a long time, and then it finally hit him. His arrest—the killing game—the bangles—Monokuma, those weren't dreams, all that he hoped were dreams or potential nightmares were a cruel reality that he was forced to relive again.

The Ultimate Hope glared at the monitor positioned right in front of him. The screen displayed a video of Monokuma sitting at a fancy desk with a glass of champagne rest in his paw. "Ahem...may I have your attention, please! The Future Foundation Chairman has an official announcement to make. Good morning, everyone! It's time to rise and shine, and make today the best possible day!"

Above all, Makoto really just wanted to break all the cameras and monitors that made him feel trapped like a rat, but that would inevitably end with him being injected with poison. But the fact that all the rooms were filled to the brim with surveillance equipment did raise the question of exactly who was behind this game and what was the reasoning for watching over everyone? If this game was being broadcasted to the world, then surely the Future Foundation would have already come to rescue them by now.

"Time to wake up, Naegi-kun!" he heard the familiar voice of a woman shout. The brunette's body was hit with a surge of coldness as he felt someone literally yank the covers off his bed. He looked up to see that Yukizome—with a bright pink apron over her garments—stood enthusiastically in front of him with both hands pressed confidently on her hips. Makoto was baffled about how she even managed to open his door until he noticed a bolt cutter in her hand. "All the others have already woken up by now, you're the last one."

"I came to wake you up, it's already past 7:30 and you're still awake," Yukizome scolded while giving him a finger wagging gesture. "Just because we're in an awful situation doesn't mean you should start acting like such a rotten orange, young man!"

"Rotten orange?" Makoto blinked.

"They're the worst kinds of oranges!" Yukizome answered. "They're sticky, squelchy, and squishy! And that's exactly what you are."

"Umm...what're you doing here?"

"Well, don't you remember what Munakata said? He's told me to keep an eye on you until the trial begins," the Ultimate Housekeeper says. "I was a teacher after all, so it shouldn't be to hard of a thing for me! Until we escape this building, I'll take taking care of basic duties around here for everyone. Go wash up and head to the cafeteria, I made breakfast!"

And just like that he was truly pushed back into the cruel reality that he now faced. It had taken him an unruly amount of time to finally get out of bed, and in his head he felt the need to repeatedly remind himself that this killing game wasn't like the last one. He remembered that no one's memories were erased, and there was no reason to doubt one another to survive and that they all needed to work together.

After trudging himself out of bed, he began his basic morning routine with the constant feeling that Monokuma was exceedingly to imprison everyone in this building. He hated the fact that his bathroom had been filled stocky with several toiletries, like toothpaste and soap, or that his bangle wouldn't malfunction no matter how many times he drenched it in the sink. And just like a cue, Makoto could feel his stomach rumbling. With a heavy focus on finding ways to testify for having harbored the Remnants of Despair and now being plopped into a sudden killing game that Monokuma presented made him forget entirely about eating. A testament to his hunger, his nose trailed out the room and instinctively followed to wherever the delicious aroma of delicacies intoxicated the air.

When he stepped in the cafeteria he was met with a wonderful sight far more amazing than the smell, arguably some of the most exquisite food he'd ever seen. The table held a divine display of fluffy Japanese-style, omurice with a flawless amount of ketchup put on them, hot miso soup, and orange juice that was freshly squeezed.

"I'm glad you could join us Naegi-kun," Yukizome smiled. "Feel free to sit anywhere you'd like."

There weren't too many people willing to sit next to him, especially Sakakura and Ando who gave him dirty looks. Needless to say, they were still mad about him helping the Remnants, so Makoto just decides to play things safe and sit on the opposite side of the table with Asahina and Kirigiri.

Sakakura had taken notice, rolling his eyes. "Yukizome, I know that Munakata told you to look after Naegi, and all. But you really don't need to coddle him. He's a traitor and doesn't need to be given a silver platter for all his crimes."

"Now you're just being a jerk!" Asahina hissed.

"That's rich," Sakakura snarked. "You guys rescued and helped a terrorist group responsible for destroying the world and put the Future Foundation in deep shit, and somehow we're the bad guys? Give me a fucking break."

There was a brief silence for a moment, Munakata noticed this and spoke. "It seems now that Naegi is here, we're all now present and accounted for," he stood up from his chair to further gain the attention of the others, "Which means we have important matters to attend to. It's imperative that we find the perpetrator accountable for sentencing us inside this builder. It's very likely the one responsible for doing that is the same person controlling Monokuma."

Makoto eyed Yukizome who walked around the table as positive as ever, carrying a tray of tea with her, "Chairman Tengan, would you like a cup of tea?"

"Yes, that would be splendid, Yukizome-kun," the elderly man smiled, he took a cup of tea and began sipping it while taking the time to reflect on what Munakata had said, "Last night I did a little investigation of my own, and it appears surveillance and security rooms were blocked off with iron plates. It'll be difficult to find the culprit."

"And these bangles make it even more difficult to maneuver in this building." Kimura added.

"What should we do?" Mitarai asked.

"I've got an idea!" Bandai eagerly exclaimed aloud. "How about we just reveal all our forbidden actions here? We'll clear up all misunderstandings, and be like tadpoles in a street light."

The others only had looks of uncertainty, Kizakura broke the news, "Good idea big guy. But I don't think exposing our achilles heel would really remedy our situation."

"For now, it's better that we don't tamper with the bangles. With the rules established for this game, everything is playing in favor of the mastermind, we'll just have to find some alternate method to cooperate and remove these." Kirigiri said. The detective found herself gazing at her bangle where the two words—"No Information"—endlessly scrolled across the device, she glared at it for an extended amount of time.

"Kirigiri-kun is correct." Tengan nodded, taking another sip of tea. "More than anything our top priority should be to focus on who's accountable for this mishap and prevent any dire casualties."

"Yes, and I could not agree more." Munakata followed up. "The Future Foundation has many important matters to attend to, we are humanity's last hope after all, and while enemy activity has lessened in the months, we still have much to do. With all of that said, it's important that we have perpetrator cornered in their tracks and stop them at all costs."

"And if we're to believe that Monokuma speaks the truth, then the perpetrator is a traitor, potentially inside this very room." Tengan responded once again, taking a few more sips of his delicious tea between words.

"Hmph. I'm sticking to my guns and saying, it's gotta be Naegi." Sakakura rolled his eyes, and layed back in his chair.

"Regardless of who the traitor is, let's make it imperative we find them," Munakata replied. "And have them killed immediately before it's too late. We have made far too much progress in our means to end The Tragedy and we can't—"

"No, we can't!" yelled Makoto, who subconsciously spoke out of turn. It was wrong of him to do so, and especially in front of higher authorities, but there was something about the idea of killing them that just didn't sit right with him. Perhaps it was just in his pacifistic nature? Maybe he couldn't bear to watch anyone be killed after what happened at Hope's Peak Academy? Frankly, even he didn't know but felt that couldn't be ignored. He settled down a little, feeling sheepish for his outburst, and sat up straight. "Munakata-san, sir, if I were to make a suggestion. Maybe we shouldn't kill the traitor, all we have to do is subdue them, right?"

Sakakura narrowed his eyes, "You're not exactly helping your case."

Munakata didn't seem phased about what Makoto had to say. "Naegi, you are probably aware that Chairman Tengan has put me in charge of overall leadership in the Future Foundation. If you would like to prove your innocence to myself and everyone else here, than I'd strongly recommend that you adhere to my orders."

The Ultimate Hope compiled and eased up. Sure, he could understand why the Future Foundation may be more lenient, at the same time there had to be some other alternative to handle the incarceration. Munakata was undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with, something that made Makoto feel very nervous to think about. Sure enough, he had been doing a good job of showing that he was a little uneasy about the Ultimate Student Council President because Yukizome soothingly relaxed a hand on his shoulder.

"Naegi-kun, come with me. There's something I wanna show you."

The peppy housekeeper guided Makoto throughout the halls until they suddenly came to a halt at a door—the biggest door in the hall—and come to think of it...was even bigger than Chairman Tengan's office. When putting two-and-two together, the only logical explanation is that they were standing in front of Munakata Kyosuke's office. It ultimately proved to be a justification for the overeagerness of Yukizome, but still proved to make his blood run cold.

"We're in Munakata-san's office, right?" he asked, with the housekeeper giving him a confirming nod.

Upon opening the door it was plain to see this was an office truly made for the Ultimate Student Council President; from the expensive-looking desk—to the seal with the Future Foundation's logo on it. After recollecting what he had known about the United States of America from what he saw on television, it was definitely more apparent to Makoto this place greatly resembled the oval office.

Above all, the most unsettling decoration were the ten brown katanas mounted on the wall.

"Are those all Munakata-san's swords?" Makoto gulped.

"No," Yukizome replied, easing him up a little. "The real katanas are kept somewhere else. These ones are vintage swords that Munakata keeps on the walls for antiques, they aren't here for combat purposes and are pretty much blunt objects."

That confirmation didn't really make him feel any easier, having ten swords mounted on the wall felt like they were eyes staring at him. "Is it really a good idea for me to be in here...?" Makoto asked nervously, "If Munakata-san finds out he'll—"

"There's no need to worry!" Yukizome insisted, giving him a thumbs up. Makoto's biggest question was why she brought him into Munakata's office, he was supposed to be searching for a way to prove his innocence before the time limit that Monokuma delivered, so it didn't really make a lot of sense for him to be here. Before he'd been given a moment to respond, she walked to a table and back and placed a picture frame in his hands.

He observed the picture; seeing a little boy—a smiling little boy—wearing a yellow Japanese elementary school hat and holding a certificate in his hands.

With an initial gaze, Makoto could exactly figure out who was in the picture. Until he took another look at the little boy and saw he had short silver hair that greatly resembled someone he already knew, "That's Munakata-san!?"

Yukizome confirmed that question with a nod. "Yep, that's right. This was a picture taken of Munakata back when he was a kid. Isn't he cute? I've done my research on the matter—back in those days he was a model student in all of his classes, his work was substantial, receiving the best academic grades of any student."

Makoto gave another look at the photo before handing it back to Yukizome—he couldn't believe that smiling child in the picture was actually Munakata...then again he couldn't even think of a time where he'd ever seen the Ultimate Student Council President smiling. He didn't really seem like the same person he saw a little earlier. If Munakata was mad that he helped the Remnants of Despair, then he couldn't really blame him...but Makoto couldn't agree to the idea of killing the traitor.

After everything Enoshima did to the world, the last thing needed is another death.

"I know what you're thinking," the Ultimate Housekeeper practically silenced him before even opening his mouth. "That Munakata is cold, or maybe too authoritative. That may be true, but please understand that he's a great leader and his decisiveness has really helped us."

A smile developed to her lips, "I guess you could say...he's the hope of the Future Foundation!"

"You think so? I mean, I don't know Munakata-san all that well so—"

"That's it!" Yukizome said in realization, she turned around and startled the Ultimate Hope by moving closer to him. "I have an idea, why don't you and Munakata combine your hopes together? That way the two of you could join together and create an even greater hope! It would really make me happy if you could understand him."

"You seem pretty close to Munakata-san." Makoto simply remarked.

Her cheeks began to flush in embarrassment, something she counteracted by turning around from sight. "Yeah...the two of us, and Sakakura-kun too, have been best friends since we first entered Hope's Peak Academy, and they were the first friends I ever made in school."

"Did you not attend school before?"

As she turned around to face Makoto, the smile on her face was gone. "No, I did attend school. My classmates didn't talk to me much and were really busy, but they always told me to clean the classroom, so that was a nice perk."

A few awkward chuckles found their way out of Makoto, "I've had experience with that too."

"Oh, but it wasn't all that bad!" Yukizome insisted, regaining her smile in the process. "I guess I'm already used to doing others cleanup, I'm a housekeeper after all, so it wasn't really a problem for me. And it wasn't my first time either—I spent a lot of my time in an orphanage cleaning lots of messes for years."

It did make sense that she would be the type of person to work at orphanages; she is already pretty talented when it comes to housework, and with her motherly and nurturing personality—and being a teacher—she was most likely well-experienced with children.

"You mean, you helped out a lot of children at orphanages?" asked Makoto.

"That isn't what I meant," Yukizome corrected, she stopped smiling. "I didn't work in an orphanage, I lived in one. For about thirteen years I spent my life living in the Sitrus Girl's Orphan Home, and it took a while for a family to finally adopt me."

Makoto reflected on what she just said, he honestly didn't know too much about orphanages, besides the things he saw on television. From the things he did know, orphanages were almost always portrayed as dingy and unkempt places, practically like prisons for children. Then again, this was Yukizome he was talking perhaps it was just television fictionalizing things?

He placed a finger to his chin, "What was living at an orphanage like?"

"It was a pretty hard knock life," Yukizome joked, clearly trying to make light of things. "I don't think the living conditions were all that great, the orphanage never seemed to have a whole lot of money, and the caretakers were pretty lazy and always drinking or smelling like alcohol, those guys would give Kizakura a run for his money. I think it was probably around this time I started to enjoy doing housework."

"What do you mean?"

"My peers at the orphanage...they weren't any different than the caretakers," she replied with a frown. "They were content on lazing around, like a bunch of rotten oranges. The other orphans would always make me do the cooking and cleaning, guess that's how I developed a knack for that. Maybe I should've thanked them? But then again, they did always prank me with a lot of cockroaches or dung beetles."

"Cockroaches!?" Makoto gasped.

"Yep. Usually, I try to prepare myself for any possible outcome, but if there's one thing I'll never be able to prepare myself's bugs, I can't stand them, they're practically a housekeepers worst nightmare," the woman continued to explain. "They played a lot of pranks on be, sometimes the others kids would put a cockroach under my pillow, or they would put a stink bug in the bathtub."

Makoto looked to Yukizome completely bewildered at exactly how calm she was telling this story. Sure, he knew that Yukizome was a pretty happy-go-lucky and cheerful person, but she almost seemed utterly oblivious to what she just described.

"Yukizome-san, that sounds awful." the Ultimate Hope said.

"We were just kids when that happened, it was all in good fun!" Yukizome happily assured him, but somehow Makoto found it very hard to believe. He couldn't help but take notice of some of her mannerisms while speaking and noticed that something was a little off about her, maybe a testament to his keen intellect after participating in all of those class trials in the past.

Perhaps it would be better to change the subject?

"Yukizome-san, you mentioned before that you were prepared for every possible outcome. What did you mean by that?" were the first things to come to mind for Makoto.

She looked at him puzzled, almost like she weren't expecting that kind of question, and smiled nonetheless. "Oh, that. I'm always trying to prepare myself for every possible worst case scenario, you never know, right? Guess it's been a thing for as long as I can remember. You wouldn't believe the amount of medical insurance I've doubled down on!"

More than anything, he could say without a shadow of a doubt...Yukizome wasn't an ordinary person. When it came to her talent as the Ultimate Housekeeper she was second to none, and he had never seen anyone able to remain so positive after all the despair inflicted in this world, or even in the midst of this very killing game. But, there's another thing that he noticed in their conversation.

It really became more apparent when she started discussing her childhood. There was something a little off about her cheeriness, almost like she had been faking it.

Yukizome Chisa didn't smile.

He wasn't really sure what that meant, or why she'd been acting like that. All things considered, Makoto felt he grew a little closer to Yukizome.

Chapter Text

While definitely happy to bond with Yukizome a little more, Makoto knew he needed to parts ways with the woman; he couldn't have been more grateful to have befriended someone—besides Kirigiri-and Asahina—who weren't instantaneously ready to have him sentenced to death. But after realizing how much track of time he lost and recalling the time limit delivered by Monokuma, he knew there was limited time to find who the real traitor was.

If they proved themselves successful before said time limit, Monokuma agreed to free everyone from this building and end the killing game.

There were still a few glaring questions and part of this seemed like an obvious ploy to get everyone to kill each other, but if there was a possible way to have everyone escape this building safely, without a single victim, then that risk had to be taken.

With that said, there was still a nagging question on Makoto's mind. With the new additions added to the building did raise another question—why were all these surveillance cameras doing here? Even while walking through the halls they were practically around every corner, it reminded him of the previous killing game where those annoying yellow cameras were everywhere you looked, the last time they were used to broadcast the game live to the entire world.

Could this possibly be the same?

If this killing game was being broadcasted to the world again, then wouldn't the Future Foundation have already rescued him? Without much of a clue on what to do next, there were only a limited amount of rooms to visit on the top floor before he started traveling in circles. He figured his next priority should likely be talking to the division heads and convincing them that he's not a traitor and his real intentions for capturing the Remnants.

Before he could even devise a plan, leather touched his shoulder and stopped him in his tracks. He nearly had a heart attack at the abrupt disposition, but eased when he saw the person—Kirigiri—was standing to him from behind. A scene of this of this caliber reminded him of the times the two snuck around in Hope's Peak Academy, in a sort of cruel nostalgia.

"Naegi-kun, how's your progress with proving your innocence?" the Ultimate Detective asked.

A brief inhale of relief escaped his mouth. "It hasn't been very good so far. This would be far more easier if we could get out of this building and prove that I'm not the traitor, but if we're trapped here then there's not too much information to go on."

"I see," Kirigiri responded with a smirk.

Makoto blinked, twice, he wasn't sure why Kirigiri was smiling. With the past experiences in mind, surely, this could only have one explanation—she just learned something.

"Did you find something?" he asked.

Kirigiri held her smile, nodding as well. "Yes, I have. I started investigating this floor and found something that I'm sure will interest you. We can further discuss things elsewhere, meet me at the lounge room and you'll find the answer."

There hadn't been much of a say in the matter, and if Kirigiri discovered something then it must've been big. He followed the lilac haired woman to the lounge room, looking more or less how he left it, other than the uncreative portraits of Monokuma that Makoto couldn't help cringe at when he passed by them on the walls — "The Monolisa", "The Ursine with an Ermine", "The Kuma's Playing Poker". Makoto didn't know who was responsible for this killing game, but it must've been someone who had too much time on their hands.

"Naegi-kun, have you noticed anything off about this room?" Kirigiri asked him, it was clear she already knew the answer.

"Any off?" the Ultimate Hope repeated. Kirigiri allowed him to further inspect the room and see if he could figure it out for himself. He wasn't quite sure what she was talking about when she said "something off", the lounge was practically the same room that he left before Monokuma infiltrated the building. Maybe the couches were rigged to explode? Or maybe a spear was gonna pop out and stab him? He rolled his eyes at such a ludicrous thought and believed his imagination was probably just running too wild.

And that's when the investigations came to a stop when he discovered something on the bookshelf, at the bottom he could find tracks on the shelf, and even small marks on the floor as well.

"There are markings on the bottoms of the shelf, and I found some on the floors too," Makoto pointed out.

Kirigiri nodded with confirmation, proceeding to kneel down, investigating the tracks from the bookshelf. "It seems that someone has already moved this bookshelf aside at least once, and these tracks weren't here when we arrived. Someone must have moved this bookshelf when Monokuma infiltrated the building."

"But, why would someone want to move the bookshelf?" asked Makoto, puzzledly.

"I think the answer would be evidently clear if you moved the bookshelf." Kirigiri answered.

He didn't understand what she meant for a second; soon realizing Kirigiri actually wanted him to move the bookshelf. Makoto agreed—rather submissively, to say the least—and started to push the shelf out of the wall. Much to his embarrassment, he struggled a little to push the shelf out of the way and probably took a significantly longer time than it would with, say, Sakakura or Great Gozu. It was at least a little fortunate to know that Togami wasn't present to mock his efforts.

As the bookshelf moved further out of the way, Makoto spotted traces of black and white, and surely that could only mean one thing. With the shelf pushed completely out the way, he looked to see what his suspicions were guessing and found that he was correct. A double door with Monokuma's face printed on either side...but that wasn't what had surprised him the most, it was hard to considering the bear's face was practically slathered on all parts of the building.

No. What surprised him the most was a six digit text presented itself on the door.


He couldn't exactly figure out what that could mean for the life of him. "Kirigiri-san, what's that?"

"I can't answer that, because I don't know either," she replied. "But that's rather odd, don't you agree? There's a door with Monokuma's face on it kept hidden inside this building. While Monokuma is very illogical to follow, somehow even I doubt he would've been able to build this door in the day we've been here."

Makoto gasped, clearly falling her exact train of thought. "You mean...this door has been here the entire time!?"

Kirigiri nodded. "Yes, it would appear so. Someone in this building was colluding with Monokuma."

Makoto recalled back to when he first arrived in this building. This had been the very same lounge room where he first met Ando and Izayoi, and when he began to start feeling relatively more at ease. And now this door is found—only further proving that a traitor was indeed right under everyone's nose.

And what of those digits—R06LLS?

His first thought in mind was the killing game at Hope's Peak Academy. He recalled right before Maizono was killed she wrote a dying message in her blood that Makoto would never forget—"11037"—to expose Kuwata as the culprit of the very first murder case. So maybe this was some kind of message? He mentally flipped the digits 180 degrees in his head and found himself with "S7790ᴚ", but somehow those digits made even less sense to him.

"Kirigiri-san, I think we should tell Munakata-san and the others about this," Makoto said.

"I understand your reasonings, but are you aware of the consequences?" Kirigiri warned him. "It's highly possible that this information could make you even more suspicious of being the traitor. And at the same time, this information could very well lead to a fallout among the group. I'll stand by you and believe in the choice that you make, but are you sure you want to make this decision?"

He nodded confidently without second thoughts. "You're right, I know it's likely this could cause problems. If not Munakata-san, then Sakakura-san and Ando-san definitely wouldn't trust me, but I don't want to keep any secrets again, that would only cause a fall out."

Some emphasis was accidentally put on the word, "again".

After the affair that transpired back at Hope's Peak Academy, Makoto never wanted to repeat another situation where he withheld information again. It was a constant reminder of the time when Oogami was secretly conspiring with Monokuma. He wondered, had he'd given out that information before it was too late would things be different? Crap, I'm doing it again... found its way into his thoughts, he shouldn't have blamed himself for those events, and he should blame himself for this killing game either.

Without any time to waste, he zipped across the halls attempting to gather all thirteen participants. Some were much easier to convince—like Asahina or Mitarai, who followed him, no questions asked—others were trickier like Munakata and Sakakura who were skeptical, but agreed courtesy of Yukizome—and after some time they were all gathered in the lounge room where the secret door remained unchanged from the last few minutes. Thankfully, Kirigiri guarded the door the entire time and Monokuma hadn't showed up at all.

With first glance they all shared the same reaction; looks of confusion filled the room.

"What is the meaning of this," Munakata froze on the spot, "How did this get here?"

"Kyosuke, you mean...even you don't know?" Yukizome asked.

The man shook his head, then looked to the door again, "No. I funded and oversaw the production of this building. I know the layout of this building as if it were the back of my hand, and somehow I had never noticed this."

Sakakura took this as a means to start cracking his knuckles, "Alright, which one of you assholes know about this door?"

"Don't go putting your foot in your mouth, you knuckle dragging brute!" Ando only needed a single second to shoot back. "Your precious 'Munakata-sama' is no less guilty than anyone else here. Did you forget that he's the one who oversaw the entire production of this building, he could've added this room without anyone noticing!"

"'s an exit?" Mitarai suggested.

"An exit n-n-no way!" Ando fired back with, "It must be...something else!"

Bandai scratched his head with confusion. "Does that mean Munakata-chama actually did sneak Monokuma into the building without any of us knowing? Gosh, and I thought the starfish always drank from the clouds."

Tengan trailed to the door, further observing it, "Ladies and gentlemen. It's far too early to determine that Munakata-kun had anything to do with this door. I presume that in due time the evidence will come to us, but in the meantime, the only one we can point to being responsible for this is Monokuma."

Then, right on cue, the aforementioned teddy bear popped out of nowhere. "You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? I'm the only bear you must be talkin' to me."

Kimura nearly fell to the ground when she saw him, "M-Monokuma! What're you doing here?"

"Little ol' me? Not much, just taking the time to enjoy the show! You bastards are so busy pointing fingers again that you barely noticed that I was standing here the entire time. In that vein, I want your honest opinions. What did you think of my awesome plot twist?" the teddy bear asked. "I really dropped the ball if I do say so myself!"

"Which means, you know what's really were behind this door!?" Great Gozu realized.

"Well that much seems obvious," Kizakura said cooly, "With a big door with his face painted on it, it'd be kinda hard for it to be anyone else besides him."

"What about that digit? R06LLS...what's that supposed to mean?" Gekkogahara typed curiously.

Monokuma shrugged his little shoulders and began to pace around the room. "Who knows. Maybe it'll be left in the list of unanswered questions of the universe. Like does a tree make a sound if it falls in the forest and no one hears it? Or if hopkinsville goblins actually exist? Or what a one-handed clap sounds like? Or how Hagakure-kun survived?"

It didn't take a genius to figure out that he was merely lying, and that he knew very well what was behind that door. If his constant popping in and out weren't evidence enough, the surveillance cameras surely proved that the bear knew everything that was going on in this building, and Makoto knew very well that he couldn't argue with least not yet.

"But, what's behind this door anyway?" Mitarai asked.

It hadn't taken Munakata a single second to propose an idea, "It's highly possible that whatever is behind that door is a person. And not just any person, the one who is controlling Monokuma from behind the scenes. His handler would need to keep us all under a close eye, otherwise we could go rogue and disobey his orders."

Sakakura instantly caught on and pounded his fists on the door. "Alright jackass, open the damn door right now!"

The Ultimate Boxer pressed his ear to the door attempting to hear any kind of breathing, but to no luck could find anything. He only continued to pound on the door some more so that eventually someone would react on the other side of the door.

Yukizome stepped to his side, "Sakakura stop it. There's no way that doors gonna open!"

The two-toned bear giggled, " bastards are really gonna get a kick outta this. I have no controller! Yep, that's right. Be sure to make a mental note of that because it might be important later on! I'd be too predictable of a plot twist to have something like that again."

"Are you saying, no one's controlling you?" Mitarai wondered.

"That's bullshit," Sakakura scoffed. "If you don't have a controller, then how are you talking?"

"It's elementary, my dear Sakakura-kun." Monokuma replied. "In this killing game there are no strings attatched to me. I'm actually a new Monokuma with an AI chip implanted inside of me. And don't even bother trying to slip one over me! The AI chip inside me has information from here to timbuktu. Hope's Peak Academy, Jabberwock Island, all the files on the Future Foundation, and even footage of some blonde girl doing shameful things in front of my surveillance cameras."

"Somehow I doubt you single-handedly infiltrated and staged this without outside help." Izayoi said aloofly.

The bear lowered his head with sadness. "That hurts y'know, my precious employees don't even think I could'a pulled something like this off...I guess you guys don't have any faith in me anymore."

"Like we ever had faith in you to begin with!" Asahina hissed.

"So, he does have a controller?" Kimura wondered.

"No! No! No!" Monokuma yelled. "Haven't I already told you? There's nobody controlling me this time around!"

"There's no way we can believe anything this damn bear says," Sakakura remarked. his gaze met the secret door once again and he pressed his ear against the door to hear anything from the other side and ultimately failed. "How do we know he's not just trying to throw us off? If we're fooled into thinking Monokuma isn't being controlled by someone, then doesn't that take suspicions away from the traitor?"

Mitarai looked at the group hesitantly, "But...what if Monokuma is actually telling the truth?"

That evidently ticked Sakakura off as he raised an eyebrow, "Don't tell me you're actually buying that crap?"

In response the Ultimate Animator placed a finger to his chin. "'s not that I necessarily agree with him. It's just that Monokuma has never given us a reason to mistrust the things he says. And there's no way we can prove what he's saying is wrong either."

"He's got a point, it's not like we have very much information to go on," Kizakura replied. "Call it a playful intuition, but we better give Monokuma the benefit of the doubt for now and believe that he's telling the truth."

Monokuma looked at all the participants and the confusion they were feeling. "I've had my fill of excitement for today, so I'm gonna split! Be sure to take in all the information you were given and praise your melodious Chairman for delivering such wonderful news to you all!"

It was Sakakura who made the first move, springing into action and attempting to pounce Monokuma—and failed. The bear was too fast, leaping passed the boxer's arms and giddily bouncing out of the room. He attempted to chase after him, but upon opening the door he realized that the halls were empty and Monokuma was long gone.

Makoto decided it was better not paying any attention to Monokuma, he had seen the two-toned bear come and go as he pleased for two killing games now and realized that it would be impossible to ever catch him. Besides, there were far more important matters to discuss, like the door behind the bookshelf.

It seemed like the others followed thought process, Yukizome spoke first, "What could be behind this door that would be a secret?"

Sakakura followed suit with a sigh, "Who knows? This is Monokuma we're talking could literally be anything."

"How are we supposed to open the door?" Kimura asked.

"We won't," said Munakata very firmly; his tone strict and concise to get his point across. "As of now, I'm forbidding anyone from tampering or involving themself with this door. For safety measures, only I will be allowed to touch the door until further notice. Anyone who involves themself with this door will be considered the traitor."

"You gotta be kidding," Ando growled, she looked to Tengan. "Chairman, you can't accept this, can you? We all know that Munakata oversaw the production in this building and could've made this door and we just didn't know."

Tengan look rather surprised, but chuckled. "If that's your question, then allow me to answer, Ando-kun. It seems that I'm outmoded these days, Munakata-kun's done a splendid job at leading the Future Foundation, so if he believes this is the right choice, then I'm inclined to trust his judgement."

All conversation was ended abruptly when a small jingle filled the room, Makoto look to the nearest monitor and suddenly saw Monokuma appear on screen with a champagne glass in his paw. "Ahem...may I have your attention, please! The Future Foundation Chairman has an official announcement to make. It's nighttime, everyone! Please return to your respective dormitories, and relax. Now then, sweet dreams everyone, and good night!"

Nighttime? Makoto darted to the wall clock, and surely enough it was already 10:00 PM. Time definitely flew today, and he honestly had no idea that much time had passed, the last time he looked at a clock Yukizome was still serving everyone breakfast. He felt disappointed that he wasn't able to find anything to prove his innocence, but there was some silver lining to this—he was getting much closer to uncovering who was behind this killing game, even with such a small clue.

"All of this can be discussed tomorrow," Kirigiri spoke, "It's too dangerous to wander around this building at night, the chances of murder are more likely to occur at this hour."

Munakata agreed with a firm nod. "Kirigiri's correct, to prevent any unnecessary deaths, I would advise that you all return back to your dormitories and remain there until Monokuma delivers the morning announcement," his orders were continued by unsheathing his katana, "And anyone who enters this room and does anything to the door...will have to answer to me."

Chapter Text

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surely, it must mean they have something to hide.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Text

Another infuriating encounter with Monokuma was gone with the wind—the sounds of his repeated laughter could still be heard echoing and bouncing across the entire room, and Makoto couldn't stand it.

He eventually just decided to leave and the room and go elsewhere, but that only made matters worse since there hardly was an elsewhere to go, with the few rooms still available for exploration there and Munakata specifically forbidding anyone from touching the secret door, so there weren't too many options to partake in. The doors in the others rooms were sealed tight with iron, and if Sakakura and Great Gozu couldn't pry open those doors, then Makoto certainly didn't stand a chance.

He realized that it would take a little more time for his fellow participants to come to agreement, and perhaps they would even need more time to thinks things over for themselves. With the endless walls confined around them there was only one thing they could do is be patient and hope that things would eventually come around.

A good deal of time later passed after leaving the intercom room, having already parted ways with the others. Makoto felt it was best to return back to the cafeteria, anything to get his mind off the whole "three survivors only" rule that Monokuma kept spatting on about and continued to taunt, it had him shook like a leaf just thinking about it, but he needed to take action to prevent any of the killings.

He entered the cafeteria once more in hope that he could possibly find Chairman Tengan around somewhere, and they could possibly discuss more ways to bring everyone together. When he arrived, he saw the elderly man had up and disappeared in between leaving the cafeteria and using the intercom.

There was only one person still present in the room—Mitarai—who quietly sat at the table. It wasn't like he was eating food or anything, and he was all by his lonesome. It was completely understandable since there wasn't anything to do while trapped on the top floor, something that Makoto could relate to.

When compared to the other division leaders, there wasn't really too much that Makoto had even known about Mitarai, though if he seemed quite loyal to Chairman Tengan and was willing to help Makoto access the intercom room, so he didn't really strike him as a bad person.

The Ultimate Hope decided to sit himself down on the other side of the table, "Mitarai-kun, what're you doing here?"

"Well...I couldn't just stay in that intercom room," the Ultimate Animator responded with anxiety. "Especially not after all that stuff Monokuma was saying, about this game ending with only three survivors. I thought it was a bluff...but he seems dead serious. I want to help out, but how can we do anything if we're trapped in this confined place?"

Makoto nodded with understanding, "Yeah, I agree with that. We can't let that happen, and we won't. This isn't my first time being in a mutual killing game, and I know if we could just work together, and try to understand each other, than we could leave this building without any unnecessary death. We have to remind each other that the fifteen of us aren't enemies, the real one at fault is Monokuma."

Mitarai simply nodded, albeit rather weakly.

There was something that had been on Makoto's mind since Yukizome has introduced him to all the Division Leaders a few days prior. She mentioned that Mitarai had been a student of hers during her time in Hope's Peak Academy, 

"Hey, Mitarai-kun."


"If I remember correctly, Yukizome-san said you were one of her former students?" Makoto recollected, he made eye contact with the Mitarai and saw that he acted in response by delivering a nod. "There's something I've been meaning to ask you. What do you think about your former classmates? I mean, since you're the only one that survived without being converted to despair...but you don't have to say if you don't want t—"

"No, it's fine," Mitarai assured him. He paused briefly, it seemed like he needed to gather together his thoughts first. "Well...they were some of the most lively people I had ever met. Some of them were mood makers and never ceased to make light of situations, some of them were really boisterous and animated, and they were almost like a family. One of my classmates even kinda reminded me of you."

Makoto's eyebrows raised, and looked at him with astonishment, "You really are observant, Mitarai-kun."

"No, I don't think that's true," Mitarai replied modestly, possibly even more modest than Makoto. "The thing is...I'm an animator, so I'm used to being observant about particular details. But, truth be told, I didn't really know my classmates for my entire semester at Hope's Peak Academy."

"What do you mean?"

"I skipped classes more than I attended them," Mitarai answered, unintentionally let out a solemnly chuckle. "But something happened after my second semester, and I guess Yukizome-sensei must've learned that I was skipping classes or something. Because after that she forcibly dragged me from my dormitory and into class by my ankle, and was pretty adamant about me befriending all my classmates—she talked about how she believed that Hope's Peak Academy was more than talent—she said it was about the memories."

"Yeah...that does sound like Yukizome-san," Makoto laughed.

He did have much time to even respond. Mitarai quickly lowered his head in melancholy, "And then...after that...Enoshima got a hold of them. She manipulated them all heavily until the point they craved despair no less than she did...and I wasn't there to stop her, I could've saved my friends."

"Mitarai-kun..." Makoto muttered in sympathy. He couldn't help but feel bad for the animator, it seemed like he harbored some "survivor's guilt" for being the remaining student of Class 77 not to be converted to despair. "This isn't your fault, some things are just beyond our control, and I know what it's like to lose friends to despair. It's important that you honor the sacrifices that were made and mend the pain inflicted from the past."

It didn't seem like those words really seemed to be enough to motivate the saddened animator, something that Makoto could visibly take notice of, it would probably be better to change the subject to something a little less touchy. "So Mitarai-kun, how were you accepted into Hope's Peak Academy? I was accepted by lottery, but I know everyone else was scouted by Kizakura-san."

Mitarai's face softened a little, "Well...I know most Ultimates were scouted by Kizakura-san, but I was a little different. Back then, I was trying to attend the A-113 Film Festival, I had a great animation film that I wanted to show for the festival, but some of my fellow classmates stole the laptop containing my video. It was because of my love for animation that I was bullied a lot, most people think animation is something only for kids, so they don't give it a chance very often—or maybe it was because of my height...I was often the shortest person in my class."

"I think I know the feeling," Makoto admitted embarrassingly.

"That's when I first met Chairman Tengan, he retrieved the stolen laptop from my classmates," Mitarai continued to explain. "He was so amazed by my animation skills that he scouted me for Hope's Peak Academy almost immediately. I'm not even sure if that was in his power—being retired and all."

"You knew the Chairman back then too?" Makoto asked.

He followed up that question with a nod, "Yeah, at first I was a little hesitant, my animation skills were nothing to special, but Tengan was insistent that I attended Hope's Peak. When he first saw my animation project, he started to shed tears of joy. I think Yukizome-sensei once said my skills were good enough to make people cry, but I think she was magnifying things."

Now processing all the information he'd been provided with, it seemed like Mitarai was very passionate about his love for animations, ad talking about them certainly made him feel more at ease than discussing anything about the Remnants of Despair, "So...what made you so interested in animation?"

Mitarai thought about it for a minute, "I guess it started back when I was a kid. I remember then, my parents were almost always fighting about something...I guess I was probably too young to understand, but after a while they eventually separated."

Strangely enough, his delivery sounded so nonchalant; this was probably the first kind of reaction in Mitarai. It made Makoto feel more sympathetic towards him, "That must've been rough."

"Yeah it was, I got a lot more lonely too," Mitarai replied, he took a short pause and a smile developed on his face. " was around that time I started watching a lot of animations. They were pretty much the only shows my mom would let me watch at that age. Umm...have you watched any animations before?"

Animation? A onslaught of nostalgia hit him, there was something about that word that felt strange. The word that barely occupied itself in Makoto's vocabulary these days; they brought back memories of the more simpler days when he wold mindlessly watch anime for countless hours with his little sister, without a single care in the world.

Unbeknownst to him, he started to smile a little, he hadn't been able to talk this casually with anyone else in the Future Foundation before, let alone his own friends—Kirigiri had no interest in that, and Togami would never "waste his breathe with such asinine pieces of entertainment"—so for once he didn't seem ignorant to others talent.

"Well, I don't know too much about animation, but I've watched a lot of anime. Not really sure if I have a favorite, I usually just liked whatever was popular at the time. A little before I enrolled into Hope's Peak Academy, I started watching this was about a guy in a red coat and a big suit of armor, but I never finished it."

Mitarai smiled. "Yeah, anime is definitely a big aspect of culture, and it's a huge part of our culture over in Japan. They're the reason that I became so fascinated with animation and why I wanted to make one myself."

That was something that stuck out to Makoto, having remembered it being mentioned a little earlier in the conversation that intrigued. "I remember you saying that a little before, that you wanted to make your own animation film. Well, did you ever have a chance to make it?"

The Ultimate Animator responded with a sombre head shake. "Never had the chance," he admitted, "I made a short preview to show during the film festival, and I was planning on finishing the rest of the film while at Hope's Peak. I only got midway into the project before The Tragedy began, I still have the flash drive containing the video, but I left it back at one of the offshore branches."

A sincere smile appeared on Mitarai's face. "Yeah, at least that's what Chairman Tengan said. I have another goal that extends even beyond that film...I want to find a way to combat despair and save everyone."

Save everyone? That was a big goal to say the least, something that almost seemed impossible with the sorry state of the world, though it did seem like Mitarai had quite the positive outlook on things, a trait that not too many people had. "Mitarai-kun, how're you gonna do that?"

"Truthfully, I'm not really sure how," he replied. "I'm just an animator, so it's not like a really have a worthwhile talent or anything."

"No, that can't be true..." Makoto interjected, he knew he couldn't just let Mitarai beat himself up like that. "You're more than your talent, Mitarai-kun. You shouldn't let your talent define who you are, everyone here is worth more than the title they were given by Hope's Peak."

"Naegi-san, do you really mean that?" Mitarai asked.

The Ultimate Hope smiled and nodded.

Out of all the other members of the Future Foundation that he met...Mitarai Ryota was probably among the few that he could actually relate to. He lacked a lot of overall confidence in himself and even doubted his own skills, though he seemed really determined to spread hope and help others in whatever way he could. For some reason, it reminded Makoto of the way he was before entering Hope's Peak. It's possible that if Mitarai started to believe in himself more, then maybe he could succeed in his goals.

Perhaps someday the Ultimate Animator's self deprecating days will be over.

All things considered, Makoto felt he grew a little closer to Mitarai.

Chapter Text

A lack of clocks present in the cafeteria had made things inherently more difficult to determine exactly how much time had passed. For what could only be perceived as, an extended period of time, Makoto finally had the chance to unwind a have some free time, having been so busy with helping the Remnants of Despair, figuring out how to confront the Future Foundation after acts of treason, and now, being sent into another killing game, surely he had a lot on his plate these days.

For a while, he spent his time having conversations with Mitarai. They started off rather brief, though one conversation escalated into more, Makoto hadn't realized that him and Mitarai shared much in common—their taste in animations—their taste in manga—their taste in gaming, they both favored mainly what had been considered trendy at the time. A sense of relief came from talking with the Ultimate Animator, it had been one of the first occasions in a long time where he befriended and wasn't dealing with the perturbation of despair.

It almost reminded him of the pleasant memories of his school life with his late classmates, or even the free time he spent encapsulated in the school, blissfully unaware about the fate of the outside world.

The two looked over near the entrance door where they found a nonchalant Kizakura providing them with a two-fingered salute and a rather crafty smile, "Hey Naegi and Mitarai, just the two I've been looking for!"

"You were looking for us, what for?" Makoto asked. He'd been nearly certain that there would have been some negative backlash after his speech and subsequent proposal in the intercom room, and felt the weight had been lifted off his shoulders when he heard something a little more positive.

Kizakura adjusted his fedora a little, which only made him look increasingly less trustworthy, "Well...I just happened to be in the neighborhood, and overheard you two guys' talking. That was quite the speech you gave back in the intercom room, Naegi, guess you really are the Ultimate Hope. It feels like yesterday that you first joined the Future Foundation and now you've already made your mark. So, kudos, to you!"

Makoto wasn't sure why he was asking these questions, "Is there something you wanted?"

"Well, I did hear you two talking about finding and confronting the big head honcho behind this killing game, and I may have just found something that'll strike your fancy over in the library," Kizakura responded.

Evidently that claim was enough to leave Makoto intrigued as his eyebrows raised extensively, a gesture that Kizakura seemed to have expected with the remaining grin planted on his face, "Strike our fancy? Did you find something important in the library, like an escape route or some outside help?"

Mitarai, on the other hand, looked to Kizakura in concern, "Uh, how did you find out about this...were you spying on us?"

Kizakura chuckled, it didn't seem like he was denying that suspicion, "Let's just agree to disagree, okay? You call it spying, I call it listening in. But let's try not to shoot the messenger, it's Kyoko-chan who wanted to see you guys?"

Makoto wasn't too sure why Kizakura of all people would've been interested in relaying a message from Kirigiri to them, but nonetheless, he knew that if the Ultimate Detective had found something in this building that no one else could have, then it must have been something really important. He complied with the request from Kizakura and set out to the library with Mitarai, fortunately for him it wasn't neither a dire situation nor did it require him to run anywhere, so he was able to take his time and was thankful knowing that Mitarai wasn't feeling slowed down because of him.

The two entered the library; an area hardly any different from the place where he'd first met Gekkogahara and Bandai a few days ago, save for the number of cameras and monitors around the room, though that was hardly an adjustment and more of an aggravation. He knew there was no changing the living situation at the moment, and just ignored them like he always tries to do. Just as Kizakura stated, Kirigiri had been waiting for them by a bookshelf with Asahina and Gekkogahara present as well.

"Naegi and Mitarai, there you are!" Asahina said, "What took you guys so long?"

"We were just told about this by Kizakura-san right now, did you find something?" Makoto asked.

The Ultimate Swimmer nodded, "Seems like it, that means you guys are the same as us. After we left the intercom room, Gekkogahara-chan and me found Kyoko-chan here in the library, she said that she found something while investigating the library."

They all looked to Kirigiri waiting for her to speak, "Yes, when you and Naegi-kun left for the intercom room, I started investigating the remaining areas on this floor. If Monokuma's telling the truth, then the traitor is really among our group. If that's true, then they are be trapped on the floor, as the rest of us are. They would still need a place preserve maintenance in this killing game and make sure things go as accordingly."

"You mean, like a base of operation for the traitor to come and go without us noticing?" Makoto guessed.

"Perhaps. There's no denying that someone was behind this bookshelf, just like the other one," Kirigiri answered, she knelt down and observed the bottom of the shelf where markings could be found at the very bottom indicating that it's been moved before. It's something that Makoto actually noticed when he first visited this room with Yukizome on the day of his arrest, though at the time he didn't react to it very much and simply assumed it was an old bookshelf.

"If this gets us closer to uncovering the truth of things, then we should move it," Makoto said.

"I agree," Kirigiri retorted, her focus shifted to Asahina, "Can you move this bookshelf out of the way?"

"You've got it, Kyoko-chan!" the Ultimate Swimmer agreed.

Asahina effortlessly pushed the bookshelf away, a distinct contrast to Makoto who struggled a bit to push aside the other book shelf in the lounge room. On the other side of the shelf, he witnessed a different sight beyond what he'd previously expected. It was an ordinary-looking door, no knob-less door—no incoherent messages—not even a half-white and half-black coat of paint rendered to look like Monokuma's face. Just a normal door that did nothing to stand out when taking in consideration the other strange things in this building.

Makoto had been focused on determining what could possibly be behind those doors, a good part of him really wanted to believe that a potential exit awaited them on the other side of that door, and perhaps some Future Foundation soldiers had realized their three day absence and had come to rescue them. Sure, it seemed like a stretch, and maybe even a little too good to be true, but an ending like that wouldn't be so bad in the circumstance, and with the lack of Monokuma's influence meant it hadn't been entirely beyond belief.

Kirigiri walked over to the door and didn't waste a moment before turning the knob. Though he remained neutral on the outside, internally Makoto felt his pulse pounding with anticipation as the door crept open and unveiled what it attempted to keep a surprise. That feeling of confidence and buoyancy came to its abrupt conclusion when the other side of that door revealed that it indeed wasn't an escape area, a room filled to the brim with tons of different weapons.

"A weapons room?" Gekkogahara blinked. "I wonder if Izayoi-kun would know anything about this."

"Why's a weapons room here? This doesn't look like a clue that would be any help to us escaping from this building either or any information about the traitor," Mitarai acknowledged, he gestured his head over to Kizakura in response since he was the one who had been hinting at a potential means of escape while in the cafeteria.

"Guess you called my bluff!" the fedora wearing man snorted, waving a free hand in the air in defense, "I needed to sprinkle a little white lie into the matter, otherwise you may have not came, and you shouldn't keep Kyoko-chan waiting."

"I never actually agreed to him coming," Kirigiri codly replied, a hint of annoyance was detected in the tone she conveyed, "I'm honestly not even sure why he's here."

Under any normal circumstance it would be understandable for someone to react offended or crossed by her remark, but Kizakura was different and the grin he kept on his face didn't go anywhere, "Woah brutal! I wasn't expecting that kind of reaction from you, Kyoko-chan. But what can I say? In these type of deadly situations, I just feel inexplicably safer when near a detective."

"What about this room, was it here the entire time?" Mitarai wondered.

Kizakura placed a hand on his chin and began to contemplated the previously mentioned question, "Well...I've been in the Future Foundation since the very beginning, and I've learned about most of the nooks and crannies of the buildings interior like the rest of them, but I can confirm that I've definitely never seen this secret door behind the shelf before."

"It seems kinda strange that a weapons room would be behind a library of all places," Mitarai muttered, he leaned over to see the inside of the room where the walls were abundant with multiple different weapons that all made him feel uneasy, "I mean, shouldn't these be in a different room?"

"It could be something Munakata-san would have the answer to," Gekkogahara suggested, as Monomi conveyed her curiosity by scratching the back of her ears, "If memory serves, he did over the construction of this building and knows this place better than all of us did."

"I believe it's best we refrain from giving out this information to the others until more information is gathered, if we do it know they're more likely to believe that Naegi-kun may have been responsible," Kirigiri suggested, the others agreed unanimously with her judgment with the belief that finding more information would benefit for everyone.

"Yeah, maybe it's for the best," Mitarai said in exhaustion.

"I agree as well," Gekkogahara said.

"My lips are sealed," Kizakura replied, with a lip zipping gesture to boot.

"Yeah, I won't tell anyone!" Asahina declared determinately, having both hands clenched with confidence.

A part of Makoto had been in the minority of those who actually wanted to reveal this hidden weapons room to the other participant, not because it could turn the other against each other, but because it could potentially unite the others together and hope that perhaps this newly given information could be used to their advantage somehow, though at the same time there was obviously something risky about showing them a room stocked with tons of weapons to them when taking in consideration their in the midst of a killing game, so he buckled down and agreed to follow his friends similar train of thought.

The Ultimate Hope eventually nodded his head in plain sight, "You're right, but more than anything, we should keep this information away from Monokuma so things won't—"

"Keep what from me?"

Not even a second away from finishing his sentence and the two-toned bear had already emerged out of practically nowhere and proceeded going about with his usual shtick, strangely enough his time had been way too impeccable and it seemed quite apparent that he knew they would be here the entire time and was simply waiting for a cue.

"Monokuma, what're you doing here?" Makoto questioned, after recollecting his moments in Hope's Peak and the time he spent trapped inside this building it seemed as if he'd been saying that so many times. A part of him wondered why he asked such a question in the first place, the minute Monokuma made his appearance it was already obvious that he knew something about this weapons room, and clearly more than they did.

"Who knows? Maybe I secretly I developed a power to read minds!" Monokuma teased, "Just watch! I'm gonna predict what'll happen in the next few seconds. Naegi-kun will bore me to tears with another one of his talks of grandeur on how you bastards couldn't possibly kill each other and that you'll all leave this building unscathed."

"So, I'm gonna take a gander and say you were the one who created this room?" Kizakura guessed.

The two-toned bear excitedly nodded, "Yep, that was all yours truly! So what do you bastards think...pretty nice spread, huh? It was specifically made for the sake of you guys. As Chairman of the Future Foundation I always wanna make sure my precious employees are happy all the time, and since none of you guys are high school students, I opted for giving you guys a powerful arsenal of weapons capable of creating the greatest murders possible!"

"Well, you sure went through the extra mile to set this up," Kizakura followed up.

" can say that again! It wasn't easy for the traitor to have all these weapons hauled up here, but they were insistent on using them for the game. Wink, Wink."

That was enough for everyone to take notice, and Monokuma knew that all too well, it didn't seem likely that he would even mention the traitor or mastermind under any normal circumstances, so this must have meant he was deliberately bringing this up for the sake of the first motive. "The traitor's really the person who created this room?" Mitarai gasped.

"Ding! Ding! Ding!" Monokuma replied, "But this room is only the trip of the iceberg. Not only did the traitor help create this room, but they actually helped create a whole plethora of rooms that were made with my seal of approval."

"Even if that's true, no one's going to use those weapons! That would only start the killing game," Gekkogahara typed across her keyboard in anger.

Once again through some unknown methods, Monokuma managed to hack into the Ultimate Therapist's computer and began to start beating Monomi up to a cartoonish pulp, "Be quiet! Annoying little sisters should only speak when they're given permission!" he delivers another punch to the two-toned rabbit causing her to fly all over the screen, "And I wouldn't going against your big brother, if I were you! Whenever I bite my thumb I'm capable of unleashing my truest potential!"

"Gekkogahara-san, are you okay?!" Mitarai called out.

"Yeah, I'm fine," the Ultimate Therapist nodded in concern, she finally gained back control over her computer as Monokuma's virus finally left again. The same couldn't be said for Monomi who had star circling around her head.

A single look at the other participants told the physical Monokuma that the other participants were clearly in deep thought about the information they had been given. "Welp, I can tell you bastards have a lot to talk about. I suppose now's a better time than ever to make like a tree and leaf! And remember, tomorrow's the final day of our first motive. These weapons will only be a limited time offer, so unless you wanna lose access to these, you better start killing!"

The teddy bear made his escape as usual, and no one bothered trying to catch him, there were far too many more important matters to think about. The traitor of this killing game, their identity was still anonymous, but they allegedly snuck Monokuma into headquarters and modified different rooms to benefit for the killing game. Makoto still couldn't really figure out why Monokuma would give them that information so easily, it seemed like the bear was tricking them or was confident they wouldn't solve the mystery of this killing game, either way it still lead them closer to gathering more information, even if it's rather small.

"What should we do now?" Asahina looked at the exposed door again.

"It's probably best to continue investigating the weapons room," Gekkogahara replied, "Maybe we'll find something useful that'll help us?"

Kirigiri placed a finger to her chin in a contemplating manner, "Yes I agree. With another room opened up on this floor, there's much to see."

The Ultimate Detective was the first to enter the door, as others soon followed her inside the room, a fortunate breath of fresh air that it wasn't bombarded with Monokuma's surveillance cameras like every other room here. Makoto was going to follow Kirigiri into the room, until he saw that Gekkogahara was looking to Mitarai, worried about how he hadn't really moved since Monokuma made his exit.

"Hey Mitarai-kun, are you coming with us?" the Ultimate Therapist asked.

The Ultimate Animator's eyes made a quick dash to the library's exit, "Sorry...I was just thinking about going back to my dormitory for now...I've never really investigated anything before, so I don't really think I'd be of much help."

Gekkogahara shook her head in denial. "That's not true, Mitarai-kun," Monomi happily smiled, "You're the leader of the 10th Division, and that means you're no less Future Foundation than the rest of us here. I'm sure you can be of help to us."

To Gekkogahara and Makoto's surprise—and seemingly even his own, a hesitant smile found itself on Mitarai's face, "Right...thanks," he said. Makoto realized that they were probably keeping Kirigiri, Asahina, and Kizakura waiting so he joined them inside the weapons room, and from the opposite view he could see that Gekkogahara had convinced Mitarai to continue helping them, which made him feel more relieved.

Being surrounded by all these weapons made Makoto feel very uneasy, it almost felt like there were thousands of eyes just watching over him. There were so many weapons on the wall that he couldn't keep track—many bladed weapons such as swords, katanas, and knives, all that looked like they could've been wielded by Munakata himself—tons of different firearms, from regular handguns, to military assault weapons that he could only hope weren't loaded—and even more gratuitous things like chainsaws and sledgehammers.

"What's this weapon?" Makoto heard Mitarai ask. The others glanced over to where the dirty blonde was pointing, it was the only weapon that Makoto hadn't recognized. A strange metal weapon that resembled a wrist watch, or perhaps a bracelet, it goes without saying that it wasn't an identifiable weapon.

"Chuusen," Kizakura paced to Mitarai and observed the weapon, "Haven't seen this weapon in ages. It's a sorta, projectile-ish weapon that you wear on your wrist and it fires small darts, I think it was based off arm crossbows."

Kirigiri broke the conversation by stepping forth, "I found something that may be of help in regards to this situation," in her leather gloved hand was an ordinary looking grenade. No, it wasn't just an ordinary grenade, it really only took the other participants a few seconds to figure out that this looked to be the same grenade that was used to knock everyone unconscious when Monokuma first infiltrated a building, it was definitely the same one—or at least, the same type of grenade.

"This is the same grenade that was used subdue all of us when the killing game began, that much can't be denied," the lavender haired woman explained to them, she handed the grenade over to Makoto who took the chance to observe it, "I found more grenades just like this one, which means it's not impossible to believe that someone had accessed this room prior to our encapsulation, and used it to start the game."

"Who could that've been?" Asahina crossed her arms.

Mitarai seemed to be in deep though, resting an index finger on his chin. "Well, it would need to be someone who already had an extensive knowledge of this building, right? And if the traitor knew about this room, and there's sleep gas grenades in this room, then wouldn't the traitor have been whoever dropped the grenade?"

He could see that the others were in thought about his statement, and they didn't give him an immediate response, "Sorry—was that wrong?"

"No, you're on the right track, Mitarai-kun," Makoto assured him, "If we can figure out who dropped the grenade, then we'll be able to determine who the traitor that's masterminding this killing game is, and we'll be able to prevent any killings from happening."

Just before Makoto had so much of a chance to continue speaking, one of the nearest monitors turned on and exposed the recorded message of Monokuma sitting at his desk with a glass of champagne in his hand. If Makoto didn't know any better, he'd say that it seemed like Monokuma did that on purpose.

"Greetings, my beloved employees! Your Chairman Monokuma has an official announcement to make. It's nighttime, ya' bastards! Time to punch the clock and head on over to your respective dormitories! Be sure to say good night, sleep tight, and don't let the bedbugs bite!"

"What do we do know?" Mitarai asked, he was visibly nervous about this outcome

"It's best that we adhere to Monokuma's rules and return back to our dorms," Kirigiri replied, "It's not safe for us to continue this at night."

Asahina was still observing the multiple weapons along the walls and found herself shuttering, "Yeah, no kidding. Being in this place gives me the creeps."

Makoto looked at his bangle, and pressed the button. His forbidden action was still—"Running in the Halls"—but if they were successful in exposing the identity of the traitor by tomorrow, then he wouldn't be wearing this bangle for very long, they would leave this building together, no...they will leave this building together. He had a very good feeling about what was to come the following day because things were different, and this wasn't Hope's Peak Academy.

As Makoto parted ways with all his friends and returned back to his dorm room, he began to remember that, and how with the hope he has and the desire to keep moving forward no matter what, he could use that power to achieve any goal that he set his mind to and open the door to the future.

Tomorrow—he continued to tell himself, until they were engraved in his mind — tomorrow things will be different. Tomorrow — they would never have to face Monokuma again. Tomorrow — they would never have to be prisoners to their own headquarters. Tomorrow — they would never have to survive by doubting each other. Tomorrow — they would never have to involve themselves in a mutual killing game ever again.

Tomorrow, The Final Killing Game would be over for good.

"Ladies and gentlemen, your melodious Chairman has a special announcement to make Today is a very special day! It's the final day for the very first motive! To reiterate, a traitor from the Ultimate Despair has infiltrated this building and is secretly masterminding this killing game, and if someone kills them, you bastards will all be free to leave this building free of charge!"

"Unless you bastards wanna spend them rest of your lives inside this building, I suggest you better them snuff out and start thrilling, chilling, and killing!"

That alone proved to be enough for Makoto to instantaneously emerge out of bed and bring himself back into reality, again. It was hard to believe that they had been stuck inside this building for three days now, and the first motive was already coming to an end. Without a moment to waste, he fitted himself in a black suit and tie from the closet and made his way to the cafeteria to meet up with the others, albeit, speed walking because of his forbidden action.

Maybe, just maybe, if his speech on the intercom was successful enough, then everyone would join together and triumph against Monokuma. Oddly enough, things seemed rather inexplicably quiet this morning, with the halls feeling rather empty, and even Yukizome wasn't present in spite of her waking him up every morning for breakfast.

And speaking of breakfast, the cafeteria was undoubtedly a far cry from the previous few days that was accentuated with the colorful and vivid Division Leaders. Of course, Asahina and Kirigiri were already present and seemed to be waiting specifically for Makoto to arrive, their presence in this situation had never ceased to make him feel reassured in their circumstance, and others such as Kizakura, Gekkogahara, and Bandai, were there as well—conveniently, the few who still trusted him.

A hint of disappointment hit when he saw the empty tables once abundant with plates of fluffy pancakes and omurice. That much probably should've been evident when he saw the others eating prepared foods, with Asahina snacking on some donuts. The aforementioned Ultimate Swimmer had been the first to react to his arrival, "Hey Naegi, you're finally awake!" she greeted, licking some of the excess icing off her fingers, "You must've been sleeping like a log!"

When taking a look at the others, Makoto could not they seemed much more awake than he was, "Was I the last one here?"

Bandai looked at the empty seats and nodded, "Guess the others weren't hungry. That's strange, don't you guys think? A caterpillar usually runs behind the Sandman."

"Maybe they went investigating?" Gekkogahara started typing across her keyboard, her thoughts properly emphasized with Monomi scratching her chin with confusion. "Remember the announcement that Monokuma just gave all of us? Today's the final day to find the mastermind of this killing game, so everyone's probably trying to find their identity before the motive ends, that way we can all escape."

"As tempting as that sounds, maybe Tengan was right all along. This could just be one big ploy to get everyone to start committing murders," Kizakura candidly shrugged off, he didn't waste a single moment to retrieve the flask from his coat pocket and have a sip of liquor, "I mean, how can we snuff out who the culprit is?"

"Yeah, maybe there's no traitor after all, must've been a lie from Monokuma!" a big toothy grin of contentment found itself on Bandai's face, "Oh well! Guess the meerkat falls farthest from incoming cacti. Now all we need to do is find a way out of here."

"No, we can't be certain that what Monokuma said was truly a lie," Kirigiri interrupted sternly.

"Yeah, I second that," Gekkogahara followed suit, with Monomi expressing that with multiple approving nods. "Monokuma's ruthless, but we can't be sure he's been leading us astray. If his goal would be to bring out the despair in all of us, then he'd probably stand a better chance if he told us a dark secret...or something."

Makoto gave them a concurring nod, "Yeah, you're right. Even now, I still don't want to believe that anyone is a traitor, and that maybe Monokuma's just been lying this whole time, but part of that seems too unlike him. If today's the final day for Monokuma's motive, then we should make it our first priority to gather everyone else together so we can talk about how to—"


That was enough for everyone to freeze, practically in perfect sync. For a second, Makoto thought his heart may have skipped a beat or two, that wasn't just an ordinary scream that they had just heard, not something you would've heard after being pranked or winning a lottery, that scream only would have belonged to a person that just witnessed the complete loss or overall absence of hope, ergo, the feeling of despair. Cruel—merciless—unjustified—inhumane, despair.

A simple look to the others made things as clear as day, they too shared similar reactions to Makoto. Asahina had both hands covered over her mouth, Kizakura actually relinquished the flask from his hand, Gekkogahara's fingers didn't even make contact with the keyboard, Bandai virtually stood frozen in his position, and even Kirigiri's face softened away from its usual aloofness.

As time went by, Asahina's hands dropped to her side, "What...was that?"

Makoto gulped, he truly didn't want to believe this, but frankly there was no other choice, "That sounded like Mitarai-kun!"

Kirigiri's purple eyes narrowed, "It sounded like it was coming from the halls."

Of all the terrible times for Makoto to have been restricted with the accessibility of running in the halls, fortunately for him, Asahina had been present the whole time and gave him a piggyback ride to the other side of the hall in seconds flat, granted, it was nothing short of embarrassing and as the Ultimate Swimmer would later remark, he was heavier than she was, but they were able to make it there in time, with Kirigiri and the others trailing them from behind.

As Asahina now proceeded to drop Makoto back to the ground, he could only watch as the ashen individual started in what was obvious shock—his legs involuntarily shook like a leaf, they were trying their best to simply back away but for some reason it couldn't happen. The very same thing were to be said for his olive eyes, pupils that seemingly felt full of life now shrunk in such a short period of time, he tried everything in his power to avert his eyes, though for some reason he just couldn't.

"Mitarai-kun!" Makoto called out, getting back onto the ground. "What's wrong!?"

The Ultimate Animator didn't answer, instead he replied in a form of body, jerking his head and waving a finger to the scene. In what seemed to be a very coincidental turn of events, Makoto seemed to have felt about the same as Mitarai, though save for the screaming that alarmed the others in the first place. It had only taken Makoto a simple glance at the scene of utter cataclysm to stop in his tracks.

A victim's lifeless corpse found itself pressed up against the walls, their eyes were peacefully closed, in complete contrast with the unsettling amount of blood leaking from their wounded neck and chest, with the dry blood stuck to their right palm making things look even more conspicuous.

The dead body of Tengan Kazuo.

Chapter Text

"A body has been discovered! After a certain period of time, which you made use however you like, the trial will begin!"

No amount of sheer disbelief of the matter could awaken them from this nightmare — Makoto remained frozen for a brief period of time, he could only watch as the unsettling scene of events, unable to comprehend all this. There had been an assortment of emotions than ran through his head, the seemingly mutual feeling from everyone was — failure. All of their efforts to prevent a killing game from happening and stopping anyone from dying, and escaping safely, meant absolutely nothing.

If things weren't bad enough, whoever did this decided to kill the Chairman of all people. Their status proved to be quite the ironic twist — this was once a building full of hope, but it was now the building of cold, hard, despair.

" started this morning, I was trying to find Chairman Tengan," Mitarai began to start explaining, he understandably was trying his best to compose himself, which was really hard to do with a bloody corpse right in front of him, "I...I wanted to talk to the Chairman about finding a way to end this killing game. I went to his dormitory, but he wouldn't answer the I went to look for him...and I found..."

The Ultimate Animator couldn't even finish his sentence. He was fidgeting slowly and it seemed like he was close to passing out. Makoto felt bad for him, it didn't seem like he had seen too many dead bodies before, if any, and it seemed as though he cared very much for the Chairman and had lots of respect for him. Gekkogahara realized this and tugged on the sleeves of his blazer with and free and typed with the other, "Mitarai-kun, it's gonna be okay. Try and calm down with some deep breaths."

Mitarai listened to Gekkogahara, though it was still difficult with the presence of a body. Makoto's thoughts were interrupted by the many footsteps sprinting throughout the halls—the large pounding of Sakakura's boots—the clapping of Bandai's sandals—to the slowly walking of Kizakura. The others participants all gathered one-by-one in the nick of time, most of them dashing straight past Makoto and gazing at the corpse.

"Does anyone wanna explain why the fuck that announcement just played—" Sakakura was about to say before stopping in his tracks. A single look at the corpse seemed to tell him everything that was happening, though he didn't even look phased at the sight of the body, then turned over to Makoto. "I see. So, the game has already started. You started with Tengan first? And I'll bet that it's not long before you start singling out the rest of us, right?"

"No, I didn't kill Tengan!" the Ultimate Hope protested. "We shouldn't be doubting one another. Otherwise we're only giving Monokuma exactly what he wants. Now's the time for us to work together and uncover the truth or else no one will be saved and Tengan's death will never be avenged."

Sakakura only rolled his eyes. "Nice try, you zealot. But I won't be tricked by your damn platitudes like the rest of your little posse. I won't easily submit to any old shit that someone tells me, and I'm not as easy to manipulate as Enoshima Junko was either."

Asahina responded to his statement with immediate anger. "What're you talking about? What do you even know about Enoshima?! You have no idea what we went through just to escape from that awful school! If that's what you think, then you're an idiot!"

"I dare you to say that again." Sakakura growled.

The Ultimate Boxer started walking over to her with his fist angrily moved to his side. Asahina started backing up closer to the rest of group for protection, after all, as mentioned before her forbidden action prevented her from being attacked with either a punch or a kick. "W-Wait!" Mitarai rushed to her side, "We shouldn't be fighting each other, that would only be more senseless violence! And Asahina-san is a girl, there's never a reason you should be hitting her."

Sakakura smirked, with a hand placed on his shoulder. "Maybe you're right, Gandhi," he commented sarcastically before kneeing Mitarai in the stomach, "Get real! We're knee deep in the midst of a mutual killing game. Chivalry ain't working a damn anymore."

He was ready to go even further by delivering a kick to Mitarai, though Yukizome immediately rushed in front of him before another direct blow was delivered to his gut. Yukizome seemed to be well aware that Sakakura would never actually lay a scratch on her, and surely enough this proved to be true when he frozen like a statue at merely the sight of her. "Sakakura-kun...stop this right now! I won't allow you to hurt my student!"

There was visible distraught in her tone; clearly torn up over the death of the Chairman, "We can't afford to fight right now..."

This was further brought home as Munakata soon stepped forward, "I agree with Yukizome, stop venting your frustrations out on Mitarai and let's focus on the matter at hand."

Sakakura sighed, and restrained himself, "Okay, you are the boss."

"I need everyone to step out the way, immediately!" Kimura announced with her first aid bag tightly grapsed in her hands. They all agreed and cleared the area for room, allowing the Ultimate Pharmacist to investigate the body and perform a basic autopsy. Having temporaily switched out her black leather gloves for a pair of latex ones, she began searching the neck and chest wounds and to her dismay found they were quite deep. It didn't really help much, but she went back to the bag and retrieved her flashlight to check his eyes, with pupils that were already dilated. Her last resort was to press her finger to his neck—hoping for everything that she'd find a pulse—and to no luck received said pulse.

"He's dead...and I couldn't do anything to help," she cursed herself.

"Of course he is," Ando commented. "With the fatal wounds and loss of blood, I'd be more surprised if he did survive."

Kimura made another look at the corpse with regret. "From what I could gather, he was punctured in the chest area and his throat was slit. I inspected the deepness of the wound and realized they would've killed him instantly, and he looked to have been bleeding for an extensive period of time and went long without any treatment. It's feasible he could've survived an injury like this, but unfortunately not for a man of his age."

"Wait a sec! Did somebody just say blood?" and then Monokuma popped out of nowhere all of a sudden, he didn't receive a reply with everyone being too distressed, but he could put two-and-two together after seeing Tengan's bloody corpse pressed up to the wall. "Yess! Congratulations, guys! The first murder in The Final Killing Game was just initiated. I had my fingers crossed that Naegi-kun would've been the first victim to avert expectations, but I suppose beggars can't be choosers."

"Monokuma...did you have anything to do with this?" Great Gozu asked sternly.

"What! Absolutely not! I'm appalled that you guys would think I would kill somebody!" the teddy bear defended. "As long as you guys stay out of my way, I'll won't lay a single paw on you. So, I'm not the killer! They drew first blood, not me!"

"Then why the hell are you here?" Sakakura growled, already annoyed by the bear.

Monokuma held his mouth to contain all laughter. "Upupupu...cuz' now the fun part's coming! It's time for the real show to begin! If you bastards wanna survive then you'll need to start investigating the building like there's tomorrow—which, there won't be if you don't uncover the truth."

"Which means, these trials really are gonna happen?" Mitarai quivered.

The teddy bear nodded his head, "Yeah, of course! What's a mutual killing game without Class Trials? Then again, you bastards aren't high school students I guess they're just gonna be called trials."

"How do we start?" Munakata asked.

"Why, with the Monokuma File, of course!" the two-toned bear replied. "If everyone would please look at your respective bangles, they will provided you with the information that will be vital for solving the case."

That brought back some of the memories of the times investigating murder scenes in Hope's Peak Academy back into Makoto's head, as it was a part of the investigations that he dreaded because it was now a solid confirmation that whoever's body was found was officially dead, and the fact that the file was literally attached to his wrist for the remainder of the game. Makoto looked to his fellow participants and saw they were already looking at the Monokuma File on their bangles, so he joined in with the rest.

"The first victim was Tengan Kazuo. The body was discovered in the top floor halls. The estimated time of death was 7:00 AM. The victim was presumably stabbed in the heart and had his throat slit. No other injuries were reportedly found."

"Why? Why is this happening?" Yukizome felt tears well up in her eyes.

"Dammit! How could this happen?" Great Gozu cursed, his fist clenched in an unhealthy demeanor. "I'm supposed to be the bodyguard for Chairman Tengan. I had one job, and when push came to shove, I wasn't there when he needed me the most."

"In the end, none of us could help him, I couldn't help him," Kimura said in defeat.

"I don't wanna do this," Bandai whimpered.

"All of you, compose yourselves, this insant!" Munakata urgently ordered the other participants. "Might I remind you all that we're the Future Foundation, we're the world's last hope for peace in this time. We cannot let ourselves fall from grace after but a single casualty. If any of you feel the need to mourn the death of our fallen Chairman, save it until we're finished with the trial. As of now, we have important work to do. You're to search the floor and find any cruical evidence. Have I made myself clear?"

"That makes me wonder, was Tengan really the mastermind of this whole game?" Ando randomly asked.

"The mastermind, what're you talking about?" Kimura looked to her with confusion.

"Geez, you're slow," Ando moaned. "Think about what Monokuma said—our first motive was that somebody here was a traitor that infiltrated this building and is the mastermind, and whoever kills them would end the game—and here we see Tengan's dead. Wouldn't that mean somebody could've followed through with that motive and killed Tengan to end this game?"

"What!?" the pharmacist followed, "One of us...killed Tengan?"

"If someone ended the game, then why's Monokuma still here?" Yukizome questioned.

"Monokma mentioned a little before that he was an independent robot with an AI chip inside him" Munakata reminded her. "At the same time, I still can't help but wonder if Ando's claim could potentially be true. Obviously we can't possibly ask Tengan now, but I wonder what his motives behind a killing game would've been...if he really was the one behind it."

"He was the chairman, who's to say he didn't establish this game just to single us out?" Izayoi suggested.

"Your claim may be correct," Munakata replied. "But, we won't learn anything by hovering around the body like this. We only have limited time until the trial begins, let's use that time wisely to uncover the truth of this case and learned what really happened."

Ultimate Student Council President was about to leave on his merry way, until Mitarai nervously called out, "W-Wait! Shouldn't...we get someone to look after the body? I mean, who's to say someone won't tamper with the crime scene. I wouldn't mind volunteering to—"

"I'll guard Chairman Tengan!" Great Gozu immediately volunteered in a heart beat, he placed a hand to his heart out of nothing but respect for the fallen elderly man. "I wasn't there to prevent the murder of Chairman Tengan, the man who'd given so much to us all. I will protect him from beyond the grave, regardless of being the mastermind or not."

"Very well," Munakata responded without further arguments. "Then, the rest of us will search the building and gather evidence for the one responsible for murdering Tengan."

And with that the remaining participants of the game went their separate ways to further explore the building, obviously there were still some questions about how the murder came to be and it seemed perhaps gather more information, though with the lack of many rooms available it would be difficult to collect adequate evidence, Makoto wondered if Monokuma would finally open some of the other rooms that were locked—if he remembered correctly, the surveillance rooms, and Tengan's office were still locked—then again, he somehow doubted that because opening unlocked doors would make things fairly easy.

He looked to see that not only were Asahina and Kirigiri still present with him—Mitarai and Gekkogahara still hadn't left the halls either, that made him feel relieved since he knew his two former classmates would always be there to help him, and the latter two had played a prominent role in helping in his efforts to escape this building. Mitarai appeared to have composed himself more after witnessing the body mostly in part to Gekkogahara's assistance, that much didn't prevent him from looking at Tengan's body as less as he possibly could, and began to start taking a few steps back.

"Mitarai, where you going?!" Asahina called out.

The Ultimate Animator stiffened when his name was called out, he turned back over to the other participants with a look of shear regret on his face, "Sorry—I want to help you all, but I'd probably only get in the way."

Mitarai had continued making a few more steps further back, presumably making his way back to the dorms where he could avoid the conflict. "Mitarai-kun. Do you want to avenge the death of Chairman Tengan?" asked Kirigiri, stopping the Ultimate Animator before he could continue walking.

That question proved to be enough to spark his interest, his legs stopped and he nodded, as if all the feelings of doubt and hesitance exited his body. "I do. More than anything else, I do."

"If that is the case, then the truth of his murder should be uncovered at all costs, wouldn't you agree?" Kirigiri asked.

Mitarai gave looks of doubt to everyone as he met their gaze, then eventually repeated Gekkogahara's suggestion and took deep breath. "Yeah, you're right...I'm not really sure what I can do to help, but...I wanna avenge Tengan," he muttered, trying to muster up the confidence to continue.

It was good to know that Mitarai was trying his best to keep a cold head in their situation, despite still seeming frightened and traumatized by the dead body. The memories of Hope's Peak Academy flashed back in his head—he clearly remembered when he had to inspect Maizono's corpse for the first time and felt the surplus feeling of nausea and the urge to burst into tears, but he also remembers that now wasn't the best time to dwell on things that couldn't be solved, and now it was plain to see that today was no different.

Tengan Kazuo was a kind man brought them all in the Future Foundation, he owed it to the deceased Chairman to uncover the truth of this case and find out who really killed him.

"So, what should we do first?" Asahina asked.

Kirigiri responded by kneeling down to the corpse, as usual she hadn't flinched even a little at the sight. "Let's start by inspecting the body. Kimura-san already provided us with an autopsy on the fatality of his wounds, that should give us some insight on how this murder was conceived. That, and there's also another important factor that could play into solving this case — Tengan's bangle."

Monomi tilted her head, rather confused. "His bangle, do you mean you're looking for his forbidden action?" asked Gekkogahara.

The Ultimate Detective nodded, "Yes, it's possible it can be beneficial to uncovering the truth in the case. It's not like there's any point of keeping his forbidden action a secret anymore."

Makoto knew that Kirigiri was right about that and perhaps it could even lead to a clue that would help them in the trial, regardless a small part of him was nervous about what his forbidden action could be, it seemed like a turn of events that could either make or break the outcome of this case. Could his forbidden action reveal some type of information that points to him as traitor? Without a moment to spare, he watched as Kirigiri pressed the button on his bangle and watched as the enticing text of red scrolled across the device, leaving everyone shocked.

"Answering a Question with a Lie"

If Tengan's forbidden action really did forbid him from answering any question with a lie, then it made him more suspicious than ever before. Since their encapsulation in the killing game, he wanted to protect and believe in everyone. Was that really the truth, or was it just a lie?

"That's oddly specific," Mitarai commented.

"You're right," Gekkogahara agreed, "That must he'd been saying something over the past three days that we never noticed. Did Tengan say something that could've been interpreted as him being the mastermind?"

"Yes," Kirigiri confirmed. "When the killing game first began, Tengan mentioned the possibility that anyone here could be the mastermind—including himself—and his forbidden action wasn't activate either. With the severe wounds uncovered from Kimura-san's autopsy, we can rule out that this murder was caused by setting off his forbidden action."

"Maybe he didn't. Maybe it's just a coincidence?" Great Gozu suggested, he was definitely trying to defend the Chairman out of respect.

Kirigiri followed with a nod, and a small smile appearing on her face, "Yes, that could very well be true. Our investigation has just begun now and there's not enough information to go on this early, especially since there's something else I found that will surprise you."

"What do you mean?" Makoto blinked.

She didn't reply, instead she grabbed the right sleeve of the Chairman's brown coat and pulled it up, exposing a surprising sight that Makoto would have never believed. An unfamiliar metal weapon that resembled a type of bracelet attached to his wrist, and it hadn't looked very identifiable either. The device in question hadn't just been an ordinary weapon, it had only been a day prior when he was introduced to the weapon — the chuusen.

"Hey! What's that doing here?" Asahina gasped. "Wasn't that the same weapon we saw in the weapons room? It sure had a funny sounding name. Chunin? Chunsa? I can't really remember."

"It's called chuusen, as Kizakura said they're a projectile weapon that a person wears on their rest and fires small darts." Kirigiri explained to her, the chuusen was removed from his wrist with ease and she took the time to observe the weapon, a small part of Makoto felt concerned about her handling the weapon like that since none of them had ever seen it, feeling it was pretty ironic that he was worried about the safety when she was meant to be protecting him.

"Chuusen, okay! I'm gonna have to remember that!" Asahina said determinately, she grabbed a pen from her pocket and began writing the word on her hand a total three times for the sake of remembering.

"But, is that the same chuusen from the weapons room?" Mitarai questioned.

Gekkogahara oddly started looking at the different directions of the room before responding. "Yeah, it's highly possible that it's the same chuusen from yesterday. It's the only weapon that's here right now, and we still haven't found any other weapon in the crime scene."

It hadn't really crossed Makoto's mind initially, but after taking in his surroundings it really hit him that there weren't any murder weapons present at the scene of the murder. "If that's the case, then I think that could mean one of two things—one, the chuusen was somehow responsible for inflicting those fatal wounds on Tengan—or two, there was a murder weapon, but it was removed from the crime scene by someone before we discovered the body."

"Before the body was discovered?" Mitarai repeated.

"Yeah, that makes a lot of sense," Gekkogahara added. "We can assume that before we discovered Tengan's body, someone must have moved the murder weapon to a different place. They could've done it to take suspicions away from themselves. If we can find out where everyone was before the murder occurred then we'll have a better chance at narrowing things down."

"Which means we should start collecting alibis from the others," Makoto acknowledged, he absolutely despised saying that, there wasn't a single part of him that liked the idea of being forced to suspect his comrades, though Monokuma left him with no other choice.

"Then I think now's a good time for us to go our separate ways for this investigation," Kirigiri announced, a response that left Makoto and Asahina feeling puzzled.

"What for?" the Ultimate Hope inevitably, he realized this was the second time that Kirigiri volunteered to investigate elsewhere since they arrived in this building. He wondered if it had something to do with her forbidden action or something, though it wouldn't make much sense if her bangle still read — "No Information".

"This case isn't simply about uncovering the death of Chairman Tengan," the lavender haired woman answered. "It also shares a relation to the first motive that Monokuma provided us with—discovering who the traitor and mastermind of this game is. We don't know if Tengan is the traitor or not, but if we're to believe he accessed the weapons room and took chuusen, then it's possibly he knew about the weapons room, something a select few of us knew about, and if his forbidden action is taken into account it's a possibility that knew the identity of the traitor."

Asahina's blue eyes lit up at this reveal, "Oh, I get it! It's like dividing and conquering, right?"

"I think Monokuma's motive doesn't actually end until the end of the day either," Mitarai recalled, there wasn't a shed of hesitance in his voice, for once he actually sounded hopeful. "That means, if we can uncover who the mastermind of this killing game really is, Monokuma will let all of us go."

"I think you're right about that!" Asahina came to that realization as well, notable excitement entered her tone, "If we can find the mastermind, then we'll never have to be in one of these terrible killing games ever again."

"This won't be easy," Kirigiri warned her ahead of time. "Since we're early in this killing game, we've only been restricted to a single floor, which may prove difficult to uncover the perpetrator, but if they really are a participant among us, then it's safe to say they're as trapped in this building as we are."

"In that case, I'll stay here and find out who killed Chairman Tengan," Makoto decided to volunteer.

Kirigiri nodded, "Then I'll investigate the accessible areas on this floor and gather what I can about the traitor that's masterminding this game. When we visited the secret weapons room in the library, I found a sleeping gas grenade that's surely the same one that knocked us unconscious before Monokuma came, so the weapons room should be where I begin looking."

"Um, is it alright if I come too?" before the Ultimate Detective was able to make her way out the halls, Mitarai timidly stepped forward. "If we have a chance at escaping this place, I wanna take it, and help however I can. I don't believe that Tengan was our enemy, and I know that he'd want us to all work together and get out of here."

"I don't see why not," Kirigiri replied, it almost seemed like the Ultimate Animator was expecting her to decline, and looked astounded when she agreed in a heartbeat.

With Mitarai and Kirigiri separating from the others, Makoto remembered that he was planning to go around the building collecting alibis from others in hope they may have some information that could prove viable for the trial. His first destination was the lounge room, which seemed as good of a place as any to start, with it being the first room that Makoto visited when introducing himself to his fellow Future Foundation members, and the discovery of the secret door with Monokuma's face, and generally just seemed to be a great place to start collecting alibis, testimonies, and just about any other information.

He figured since that secret door wasn't opening any time soon, it probably didn't have any relevance to this murder—unless, maybe Tengan really was the mastermind and behind this door could've been a secret place he could conspire with Ultimate Despair. Those thoughts were instantly perished from Makoto's mind, he really didn't want to believe Tengan, or anyone else for that matter, could've been behind this killing game.

It appeared that Ando and Izayoi followed a similar train of thought with the door, as the Ultimate Blacksmith was trying to use his weapons to try and pry open the door, without a single stroke of luck. When the Ando turned around to see Makoto and the other two she reacted quickly to their presence.

"What're you doing here?" the Ultimate Confectioner hissed, as usual she scuttled behind her boyfriend for protection, who responded by silently grabbing a dagger from his coat. "Are you a broken record or something? We already said that we don't associate ourselves with traitors!"

"We're not traitors! And we're just here to ask you some questions," Asahina retorted in agitation.

"Well either way, we can't take any chances!" Ando argued back, "I mean, for all I know, Naegi could've just taken advantage of the motive and killed Tengan."

"Hey Ando-san, there's something that I've been meaning to ask you," Makoto said, he admittingly felt neurotic about Izayoi who showed zero signs of letting go of the dagger, though fortunately Ando signaled him to let go of the weapon and allowed him to speak. "Well, a little earlier, you mentioned the possibility that Tengan could've been the traitor or the mastermind. Do you really think that could be true?"

"Isn't it obvious?" the Ultimate Confectioner replied. "I already told you that somebody would have just taken advantage of the first motive. Tengan being the traitor isn't too hard to believe anyway, he was saying and doing a whole lot of shady things."

Makoto's eyebrows raised in puzzlement. Shady things? In these past three days leading up to events of his death, he spent an extensive period of time talking with the Chairman and doesn't recall a signal shady thing that he could have done. Unless they were living in a world where drinking tea and discussing the plans of escape were somehow shady things.

"What do you mean by shady things?" he asked.

"Oh yeah, I guess you don't know," Ando proclaimed, leaving the three of them confused. "It happened a little before Tengan died, me and Yoi-chan were walking through the halls, and that's when we saw Tengan on a stepladder messing with all the clocks, he must've changed the times or something. He was looking pretty suspicious, and he didn't even notice we were there, I would've had Yoi-chan take him out, but we didn't wanna risk starting one of these trials."

Monomi let out a gasp, her paws covering her mouth. "The clocks were changed? That explains everything that happened this morning," Gekkogahara typed on her keyboard.

Everything that happened that morning? It took a few seconds for Makoto to understand what she was talking about, but gradually start to put two and two together after realizing the differences between this mornings routine as opposed to the other two days. He wasn't awaken up by Yukizome and her overly positive attitude—breakfast wasn't provided to them—and there were only few people in the cafeteria, it only made sense that the times of the clocks were changed beforehand.

"Ando-san, what time did you guys see Tengan changing the times of the clocks?" Gekkogahara asked.

"I must've been around 6:00 AM," Ando guessed. "Or maybe it was around 7:00 AM, if the clocks really were changed then I don't know."

If it's true that Tengan changed all the clocks in the hall to around an hour later, then it's possible that he wasn't nearly as innocent as he may be perceived? More than anything, it certainly begged the question of why he had been tinkering with the clocks in the first place and how this could even relate to the murder, since it played a role in effecting how everyone woke up this morning, it's a piece of the case that shouldn't be ignored.

With the information gathered from those two, the next place to stop was The Ultimate Pharmacist's office—which was fortunate enough for them, to be located on this floor—Makoto figured that Kimura would definitely be an an immense help to them in the case, she already delivered sufficient autopsy about Tengan's body, so perhaps she could give them further information that would benefit them. As he finally made his way into the office, he was hit with a blast of coldness, strangely enough, it was perhaps the coldest room in the building, it reminded him of the morgue he visited once in Hope's Peak.

From only a few glances, it seemed like it was a regular office—except its increasingly low temperature—there were obviously the obligatory things like her desk and computer, brimming with pictures and posters of things such as puppies and kittens, indicating that she had a penchant for cute animals—and a metal cabinet filled with an overwhelming amount of different medicines.

The silver haired pharmacist had been busy rummaging through her cluttered medicine cabinet to even notice Makoto arrived in the room, not even giving the sudden flash of warmth that entered when the entered the door. "Kimura-san, do you have a moment?" he greeted.

She hadn't expected anyone to enter her office, nearly dropping the two glass medicine bottles in her hands. "What're you doing here?" Kimura fidgeted her way into the corner, still clearly not very trusting of Makoto, "I can't be in the same room as a traitor."

"Sorry, Kimura-san, we're not here to bother you," Gekkogahara came forward and answered, that seemed to be enough for the Ultimate Pharmacist to loosen up a little since she trusted her more than Makoto, "We just wanted to ask you some more questions about Tengan's body, if you could?"

"Well, I told you everything I already uncovered," Kimura replied, it looked like she was trying to recount her other discoveries on the body. "I could take another look at if you wanted me to, but I'm in the middle of doing my own investigation."

"Your own investigation?" repeated Makoto, "Did something happen?"

"Yes," the Ultimate Pharmacist confirmed, she made her way to the medicine cabinet and brought out a small bottle. "It's been happening for the past few days, but I thought maybe it was just a coincidence. Someone's been ransacking my office and stealing tablets, I've always carefully counted them, and I know that someone must have been taking them."

"A drug?" Gekkogahara asked, "Can you describe anything else about this drug? Like it's name."

Kimura handed the bottle to Makoto. "The drug is called Alprazolam — otherwise referred to as Xanax. It's a medication commonly used to treat anxiety, despite that it's become fairly infamous for it's severe consequences if overdosed. The side effects can include, depression, suicidal thoughts, and sometimes even death."

"Death?!" Makoto responded in surprise, he had almost dropped the bottle when he heard that, "Why would someone take a drug like this in our situation?"

"Maybe someone used the drug because we're in this situation," Gekkogahara pondered, as Monomi began emitting a quantity of sweat, "Since we're being held captive in this building and tensions are already high. I think it's possible that someone went into Kimura-san's office and used the alprazolam specifically to counteract any of their anxieties."

While looking at things in hindsight; that made quite a lot of sense, in a way that Makoto never really thought of. The first explanation that came to mind for him was, someone could have snuck into Kimura's office before and took some of the alprazolam to deal with some of the anxieties of things killing game. Would this have any relation to the murder of this case? Kimura did mention this was happening for a few days now, so perhaps it started once the killing game began?

Monomi's ears drooped in sorrow. "I wish that whoever took the alprazolam, would've talked to us ahead of time," sighed Gekkogahara, "Drugs aren't always the answer to your solving problems, they should have just talked to us, that way we can sort things out."

Kimura was left stunned by her response, feeling very hurt offended by her statement, "W-What do you mean...are my drugs too useless? It's my fault isn't it, I didn't have a chance to save everyone, but I—"

"Oh, I'm sorry! I didn't mean it like that!" the Ultimate Therapist instantly defended, now realizing the outcome of her blunt sentence.

They explored most of the available areas on this floor, finding themselves with the generally the same answers of people claiming they didn't have too much information about how Tengan was murdered, or that they weren't aware of the clocks being switched ahead of time. The only remaining room was the Ultimate Student Council President's office—the same room that Yukizome had showed him a little before. He knew that Munakata would barely even let him enter this room with Yukizome with him, let alone going by himself.

A small part of him scared out of his wits, if Munakata found out about this then he'd be in so much trouble. Makoto's palm hovered over the doorknob for what felt like a long time, though he knew very well that there was no way out of this situation, and after some giving himself some courage and assurance this would benefit them with ending this game, he finally opened up the immense door, and saw the office looked exactly the same as he left it—from the expensive desk to the photograph of his childhood—the place was exactly the same.

"This is Munakata's office?" Asahina stepped inside, she wasn't nearly as nervous at Makoto was entering, "This place is huge! It's even bigger than Kimura-chan's office."

"Yeah, it's pretty much as I left it, back when I came here with Yukizome-san," Makoto remarked, he was still observing the furniture and desks, in attempt to pinpoint any clear differences that weren't present before. As he expressed before, the most unsettling decoration about his office were the nine brown katanas mounted on the wall.

Nine brown katanas? That didn't sound right at all, Makoto clearly remembers his previous visit to Munakata's office and how there were specifically a total of ten brown katanas, and now one of them was missing. Having already reached the final room of investigation, he didn't see any sign of the katana anywhere. Could this perhaps be the weapon that was used to kill Tengan? If that's the case then where did it go? Could it be the very weapon that was removed from the crime scene?

"Hey Naegi, over here!" Asahina shouted, subsequently cutting off his thoughts. He accommodated and followed the Ultimate Swimmer and Gekkogahara over to where she had been pointing to—Munakata's desk. The only thing that really came to mind for him when thinking about Munakata's desk where the pictures of his childhood that Yukizome showed him before, though part of him highly doubted that would have anything to do with this case. As Makoto made his way to the desk, he saw an unbelievable sight underneath that he would have never expected.

His legs stopped moving when he saw it.

A silver katana covered with unearthly stains of blood.

"W-What is that?" Makoto gasped.

"We found this when we starting looking under Munakata-san's desk," Gekkogahara replied, while she appeared calm about things through her scarf, Monomi was a clear indication that she was pretty torn up as well. "And not only that, this katana looks familiar, it looks like one of the same katanas that we found in the secret weapons room."

"Does that mean someone could've known about that room before we did?" Makoto asked.

"Do you think Munakata is actually the traitor?" Asahina wondered, "I think Ando-chan said something like that a few days ago."

"You bastards deserve a round of applause!"

Makoto inevitably found himself startled by the entrance of Monokuma again, which only utterly confused him more, as he remembers having the door closed after entering this room, though that was besides the point since there was beyond a doubt a reason for why he suddenly appeared.

"Monokuma, why're you here?!" Asahina exclaimed.

The two-toned teddy bear seemed rather agitated about her response, "That's a good question, why am I here? I can't believe how much you bastards have really been wearing me down, Naegi-kun, you're already the second person to come into this terrible room today!"

"What do you have against this room—wait, what did you mean second person?" interest sparked in Makoto upon hearing that.

"Oops! Guess the cat's out of the bag on that one!" Monokuma laughed, though no one was really convinced that his statement was just a slip of the tongue, "But that's not why I'm here. It looks like somebody took advantage of the first motive!"

There was something about this that made Makoto feel sick to his stomach about all this, he didn't want to believe there was actually a traitor in their group, but with the clues that he started to find something became more evidence. Who entered the secret weapons room before them? What was this katana doing inside Munakata's office? Was that an indication that he could potentially be a suspect in all this? Those thoughts of negativity were constantly going through his mind. He was too focused on the outcome of this investigation to notice that Monokuma had said something that he missed, and departed like he usually does, though Makoto assumed it was likely nothing important and just the bear rambling about upcoming trial or the weapon.

The Ultimate Hope looked to the rest of the room, easily noticing that aside from the bloody katana—there were hardly any differences from when he last visited, it seemed like whoever entered this room before they did only dropped the bloody katana here and then left. "It looks like we've already visited the accessible rooms on this floor, there has to be another place we could continue looking," he said.

The three pondered for a moment, then a cartoon light bulb appeared above Monomi's head. "There's still one place we have checked yet, the dormitories," Gekkogahara realized. "We still don't know if Tengan was the traitor or not, but if we check his dorm room we may find some information leading up to the events of his murder."

"That's true, maybe we can find something that will help us." Makoto agreed.

With them only be limited to a few areas, there wasn't a moment's time to waste with going to Tengan's dorm. A part of Makoto did feel nervous about entering the Chairman's room since it felt like an invasion of his privacy and would never enter under regular circumstances, despite this he did trust that Gekkogahara would be correct about gaining some kind of information from looking around in his dorm, and while still hard to swallow, there wasn't a need for Tengan's dorm room anymore.

Right off the bat, Makoto didn't see any major differences between his dorm room and Tengan's. The only thing notable was his closet with many outfits—they were filled with many outfits that looked just like the same ones Tengan wore everyday.

"What should we be looking for?" Asahina asked.

"Anything that seems out of the ordinary," Gekkogahara responded.

Makoto agreed and start looking around the room, he knew that this building apparently already had many secret areas that were created by Monokuma, and he knew that the traitor seemed to have played a role in making these as well. That made him more curious as to if anything in this particular room was actually a secret entrance to another place created by the Ultimate Despair or if Tengan really wasn't the traitor.

With the overall lack of furniture or a bookshelf in Tengan's room, there weren't too many places where a secret entrance could be hidden. The closest thing that could be considered a piece of furniture was the bed, so Makoto crouched down and tried to see if there was anything underneath the bed that looked remotely suspicious.

"What...the?" the Ultimate Hope found himself at a complete loss of words.

There were bloody tissues at the bottom — not just one, or two either, there must have been at least twelve tissues covered with blood. Makoto's face went pale at the mere sight of this, he didn't know what these tissues were doing under the bed or why they were covered in blood, moreover he believed that Tengan was a harmless man that would never be involved in anything that advised blood, and now he finds a dozen tissues with blood on them underneath his bed.

What could this have meant?

A memory of a few days prior played in his hand, the late Chairman explained to Makoto he wasn't feeling well and couldn't help when heading to the intercom room. Something about this really didn't add up with everything Makoto learned about the case. Kimura undeniably performed an autopsy on Tengan, stating that the chest and neck wounds inflicted on him killed him instantly, and now bloody tissues were found underneath his best, indicating that he wasn't feeling well for the past few days.

And what of the clocks he changed or the chuusen attached to his wrist, did those have some relation to the case? Either way, he knew one thing for sure—everything would all make sense once the trial began.

Chapter Text

The definition of despair to an average person was quite a simple one — the feeling of hopelessness — conversely, it felt like in this day in age, the word hopelessness had barely began to cover what the world thought of the word 'despair', and that was something Mitarai knew better than anyone else. If there was one thing he did know about despair, it's that it has the capabilities of spreading around like the plague and targeting those you least expected.

Which is what he feared the most. The idea that someone they trust and rely on could actually be a traitor was unnerving.

"Kirigiri-san, do you mind if I ask you something?" Mitarai said.

He had been expecting the Ultimate Detective to stop walking, or at least turn around in response, though she looked far too engrossed in the investigation to break the pace with a conversation, "No, what's on your mind?"

"Well, I've been more about the motive, if we can unmask the traitor and mastermind by tonight, then we'll be free to leave this building," Mitarai had to remind himself of that promise that Monokuma made, it could be their only chance to leave this building. "But, that still makes me curious about this whole thing. Why did the Ultimate Despair imprison us inside this building in the first place, and what was the point of this killing game?"

"The fact that you're curious about this game in general is good, it means you're stimulated to keep moving forward," Kirigiri answered, "Though if you're asking me, I'd say that we don't have enough information to confirm anything, having preconceptions about things will cloud your way of thinking. What about you? I'd assume you have some ideas on who's behind this."

The Ultimate Animator bit his lip, "My guess is as good as any. I just wish we could say Monokuma's the mastermind, that way we won't have to suspect anyone."

Deep down a huge percentage of Mitarai knew things weren't that practical, by no stretch of the imagination could an independent Monokuma robot be orchestrating the whole game, that would be proudly, no less than a pipe dream — ridiculously far fetched — an inaccurate delusion — and downright nothing short of an obvious desire to simply avoid conflict and take what would be considered the "easy way" out of things, and Mitarai knew that all too well.

"We're here," Kirigiri told him.

That much certainly surprised Mitarai, he'd been so caught up in his own pessimistic rambling they he hadn't even noticed they arrived in the library, and without a moment's hesitation headed straight to the secret bookshelf that changed everything. This place has been inexplicably more quiet than usual, Mitarai knew that it was probably rightfully so considering that it's a library, though it didn't make him feel any less weary that someone could sneak up and kill them at any time.

In comparison to Asahina, who shoved the bookshelf to the side with ease, Mitarai struggled a bit though eventually managed to succeed and expose the same they found yesterday. For Mitarai, the biggest surprise wasn't what was inside the door, it was that the door was still present the following day—he'd been sure that Monokuma would have just torn the weapons room down, or perhaps have the door sealed shut with more iron plates, though to his surprise the room remained the same.

The weapons mounted to every wall still made Mitarai feel nervous, "What should we be doing first?"

"You can start by looking for things that may seem suspicious," Kirigiri answered, "There's no denying that the chuusen wrapped around Tengan's first is the same one that we found in this room yesterday, and if that's the case then someone has already been in the room before."

Participating in an investigation, or doing any kind of detective work for that matter was undeniably something new to Mitarai, his division specialized in spreading education and culture across the world, about as far from sleuthing as possible. Maybe investigating an area wasn't nearly as difficult as it seemed, after all, Makoto and the others were able to investigate this room and didn't show much problem. Someone must have stepped inside this room after they did, otherwise the chuusen wouldn't be missing, but they certainly did a good job of concealing any implication that they may have entered this building.

Mitarai's legs came to a complete stop when he found something odd about one of the katana on the wall. "Um, Kirigiri-san. I think I may have found something."

"What is it?" Kirigiri walked over, she said no more after seeing the brown katana for herself, with her sharp purple eyes already giving the weapon a full on inspection, rightfully so as it's a clear indication that someone indeed did enter this room after they did. This was the first time Mitarai had actually witnessed a detective doing their job, his only real experiences with them were in stories; he knew in fiction that detectives would solve mystery by checking dust for fingerprints or using that pencil lead technique to determine something from a torn piece of paper, though that didn't seem like it would work much in this scenario.

Kirigiri started tracing her gloved finger around the weapon itself, she even started brushing her finger to the blade itself. At first Mitarai shuttered at the thought of her doing so, until he realized that she hadn't drawn any blood, and on top of that didn't look phased at all. "There's definitely something off about this katana," she commented, looking down to her gloved hand and seeing small stains of wound on them. "The material of this katana is clearly different from the others, it's very wooden...and the blade isn't sharp either, it's no less than a blunt object."

"That's incredible! You were able to determine all that in just a minute?" Mitarai gasped.

"It's nothing special. It's important to further investigate the detail of things that draw to your attention," Kirigiri informed him, "You never know when something will prove itself to be a vital clue in the future."

"I see," Mitarai understood, "There are still some things I'm a little confused about with this case. From what we know...the wooden katana is the most suspicious thing in this room, it wasn't even here yesterday, and you said it's a blunt object, how could that have killed Tengan?"

The lavender haired woman contemplatively rested a gloved finger to her chin. "It's possible that it wasn't the cause of his death. Remember what I told you earlier?"

That piece of advice was relatively still fresh in Mitarai's head, " the way of thinking?"

Kirigiri nodded. "There's still a lot we don't know about how Chairman Tengan was killed, but that's not our objective, we're going to find out how this killing game started and unmask the traitor mentioned in the motive. We can let Naegi-kun handle uncovering the truth behind Tengan's murder, and we'll do the rest."

Mitarai eyebrows raised, feeling intrigue, "You and Asahina-san...have a lot of faith in Naegi-san."

From the look of things, the Ultimate Detective was ready to move on from the weapons room and start walking, instead she came to a complete half after hearing what Mitarai said. "Yes, you're right about that. He doesn't look like much from initial glance, but Naegi-kun is...the strongest human that I've ever known. He's optimistic and compassionate, always putting his friends above his own needs, and never gives into despair, no matter what."

A brief pause arised before she continued speaking, "There was a time where some things happened...and I threw Naegi-kun under the bus, so that I could survive the last killing game, and he almost went punished because of my actions. Even after everything, Naegi-kun was never angry with me...and I'll never forget that...there's no doubt in my mind that he's deserving of the title, the Ultimate Hope."

That certainly was something new to Mitarai, he always knew media were prone to referring to him as the Ultimate Hope, though he considered that it was likely just for publicity to cultivate buoyancy in all the innocent bystanders that were ready to give up because of The Tragedy, watching the broadcast of school life of mutual killing was far too painful so he completely avoided it, all he really knew were small bits from stories. If someone as honest and intelligent as Kirigiri was saying that, then it must have been true.

Truth be told, he felt a little jealous—maybe a little was an understatement.

"Mitarai-kun, let's go," Kirigiri said, already waiting at the door.

The Ultimate Animator snapped out of his thoughts, "Sorry about that. Where are we going?"

"We need more information about Chairman Tengan, if we're to decide he's the traitor," Kirigiri replied. "I don't know too much about the Chairman to grasp an understanding on how this could've played out, if it's true. I believe that something like this is in Kizakura-san's field, he's the Human Resources of the Future Foundation, and is sure to have lots of information on the many members, including the 14th division heads."

The first destination — the Human Resource's office — was a placed that seemed to bring skepticism among Mitarai, it's not that he didn't trust Kizakura, despite his whimsical and shady tendencies, he seemed like one of the most reliable people in the Future Foundation and already earned his trust by helping with the discovery of the library's hidden weapon room and giving them an explanation on chuusen. It hadn't seemed like Kirigiri agreed with him however, she remained silent during their stroll through the halls, possibly even more quiet than Kirigiri standards.

Kizakura's office was notably more odd when comparing it to others rooms in the building, it was cluttered and a downright mess in comparison to them. All the shelves were filled to the brim with tons of souvenirs that all looked foreign to Mitarai and all the important-looking books and papers were lazily scattered across the ground. The only area that looked to be given any care was the liquor rack (with more bottles that countable). On office desk, there was a photo of a few-years younger Kizakura and another middle aged man that Mitarai didn't recognize, they were smiling and having a good time together.

"Mitarai, fancy seeing you here!" Kizakura casually greeted, he tossed up a two-fingered salute, he saw that Kirigiri followed him inside the room. "Ohhh, and Kyoko-chan's here too! That's gotta mean you're up to some 'tecting, am I right?"

He found himself amused, chuckling and ready to place a hand on Kirigiri's shoulder before she smacked it away without hesitation. "Yikes! Kitty's got claws," he smirked, adjusting his fedora in the process. "In that vein, what can I do you for?"

"We're trying to find information on Chairman Tengan that could help determine if he's the traitor. Do you have anything that could help?" Kirigiri asked, ignoring his previous comment.

"Not a problem," Kizakura retorted almost instantly, "If you guys need deets about Tengan, then you've come to the right place. Since I'm the Human Resources, I've got tons of information on all the members accepted into the Future Foundation—not in a weird way, or anything—but we've gotta keep all Future Foundation members under tabs and make sure there aren't even rogues in the group that could rebel against us."

He went over to the disarranged desk and traced back with a book, handing it over for Mitarai to look over. "I hate to be the bearers of bad news, but since Monokuma entered this building, my computer's been wiped clean of all the hard copies I had. The only records of the Future Foundation I have left are in this book, it's a little dated, but I should have everything you need to know."

"That's fine," Kirigiri assured him, "If my suspicions about this case are correct, then the book will be of serviceable help."

The previously said statement of Kizakura made Mitarai think the records seemed counter-productive — the intention being to make sure there are never any traitors in the Future Foundation, and here they are attempting to figure out if their own Chairman is actually a traitor and mastermind to the killing game. Regardless of that, he flipped through the pages of the book, (the names conveniently in alphabetical order) until he finally reached the 'T' section and found — Tengan Kazuo.

"Tengan Kazuo — born, January 17, 1934"

"With the status of retired veteran of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, former Headmaster of Hope's Peak Academy, and Chairman of the newly established Future Foundation under his belt, Tengan Kazuo-san made a name for himself, becoming quite a well accomplished man in his time. While life seemed as fairly normal in his adolescence, that all changed at the mere age of seventeen after winning a nationwide lottery in Japan that enrolled in at the prestigious high school — Hope's Peak Academy, and earned himself the title of Ultimate Lucky Student."

"After graduating with flying colors, Tengan-san was given the most fortunate opportunity to pursue any career that he desired, and set his sights on the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, where he served under for the span of two decades and proved himself an adequate soldier and a skilled combatant. Tengan-san later retired at middle age, spending the next few years to find his purpose in life once more, until retreading back to where everything began at Hope's Peak Academy and securing the position of Headmaster."

Mitarai subsequently skimmed through some of the other pages, though they mainly touched upon his experiences with being a troop, or his efforts to spread and cultivate hope throughout the academy. They were filled with lots of things which seemed to have no relevance to the killing game as a whole, let alone the murder of Tengan. There were still a few things about the summary that particularly interested, "Chairman Tengan was the Ultimate Lucky Student? Wasn't that the same talent Naegi-san had?"

Kirigiri nodded to his question, "Yes, that was Naegi-kun's talent when enrolled in Hope's Peak Academy, before he became the Ultimate Hope."

"I still can't believe that Tengan never mentioned he was the Ultimate Lucky Student before, I've known him for years and that was never brought up before in a conversation...not even once," Mitarai stated, taking another look through the pages of the Chairman. "And what about the other thing? Tengan being an army veteran. Would that play into this case somehow, or have we reached a dead end?"

"On the contrary. This information will be of help to us in the trial," Kirigiri poised. Mitarai was expecting the Ultimate Detective to give some big advantageous answer that would forever change the outcome of the entirety of the case — but that never happened. She held her tongue and didn't spill a word, leaving Mitarai to figure out what she could be talking about. Maybe Tengan's soldier background could relate to his use of the chuusen? Only time would tell.

"I guess we should give this back to you," Mitarai handed the book to Kizakura.

"Keep it," the man reacted by simply waving his hand, denying the return of the said book. "If it'll really get us out of this rut, then you guys are definitely going to need it more than I do. Much better if it's being used with you two instead of collecting dust on my desk anyway."

"Really? Thank you, Kizakura-san," Mitarai smiled a bit, though he felt a bit hesitant at taking something that didn't belonged to him and at the last minute added in, "We'll give the book back if you ever need it again."

A sly toothy grin emerged on Kizakura's face, "Y'know, if you really wanna thank me...maybe Kyoko-chan show a little more inflection and give me a smile."

"What?!" the Ultimate Animator yelped. "Is that meant to be some kind of harassment?"

"It was just a little joke," Kizakura snorted.

"Mitarai-kun, let's go," Kirigiri brutally interrupted, "There's another place we should visit before the investigation ends."

"Another place, but where could we go?" Mitarai questioned. "All we really know is that Tengan stook the chuusen from the weapons room, and he previously was a member of the Self-Defense Forces. I'm not really sure that answers who could've killed Tengan, or how this relates to the identity of the traitor."

"Let me ask you something, Mitarai-kun. Can you recall how this killing game was initiated?" Kirigiri asked.

That was obviously a no brainer, he could've answered that question in a heartbeat. "Yeah. It started after the fifteen of us gathered together in the conference room, the building was under attack by Monokuma, and then...we were all knocked unconscious by a sleeping gas grenade. And yesterday, we found another grenade just like it in the weapons room."

"Exactly," she responded, "Which means if we determine who dropped the sleeping gas grenade in the conference room, then we'll be closer to figuring out how this killing game started."

And just as Kirigiri said, the two parted ways with Kizakura (mostly as the discretion of Kirigiri herself) and headed off to the conference room without a second to spare. None of the fifteen participants even dared to enter this room over the course of the three days and for good reason too, it's the same room where this whole mutual killing game started and the bangles were attached to them, it didn't exactly bring in good vibes. Mitarai hadn't really thought much about this room until it was mentioned earlier, and while he was curious about where the sleeping gas grenade disappeared, it was nothing more than a minor thought at best to him.

Hardly a minute into stepping inside this room, the two were rudely welcomed by a deep and gruff sounding voice that said, "What the hell are you doing here?"

The voice mentioned beforehand belong to Sakakura, with Munakata and Yukizome present with him, where it appeared they were doing some investigating of their own. Predominantly above anything, Mitarai was at least glad that Yukizome was there, knowing any further violence wouldn't be started on her watch, especially not to one of her own students—and last thing Mitarai wanted was to be kneed in the stomach, again.

The Ultimate Housekeeper's face lit up at the sight of them, "Mitarai-kun, and Kirigiri-san! Funny seeing you two here," she greeted with a smile, "You investigating this place too?"

"Yeah," Mitarai nodded.

Sakakura sighed in frustration, "This isn't a pleasure cruise, Yukizome. You do realize our lives are on the line?"

"I'm just trying to lighten the mood!" Yukizome scolded.

The Ultimate Boxer hadn't been convinced very well, his eyes were menacingly peeled at the two. Mitarai had been left uncomfortable and felt they should probably just leave for now, in contrast to Kirigiri who had no intention of leaving. "Kirigiri is Naegi's division leader and the two are old classmates, not to mention Mitarai been hanging around Naegi an awful lot since the game began, and could probably be tampering with evidence or something."

"No, it's not like that," Mitarai denied.

"Calm down, Sakakura," said Munakata in his regular stony demeanor. "If they've got to investigate of all places, chances are, they are here for the reason reason as we've come here. It's the very room where this asinine killing game sparked, and where the grenade that made us fall unconscious came from. Am I correct?"

"You are," Kirigiri confirmed, "That's why we're here."

"Well, that's a relief, we'll probably have a much better chance finding it," Yukizome acknowledged. "Maybe if we figured out who dropped the grenade, we'll be able to determine who started this killing game?"

"Yeah, but how're we gonna figure that out?" Mitarai drew a blank coming up with any conclusions. "When the building was under attack that day, everything was happening too fast. I didn't even catch a glimpse of the grenade, I was sure that maybe it came out of nowhere."

"That's true," Munakata followed, "We didn't find any real indication of that grenade being thrown, otherwise we would have noticed, so obviously someone dropped it during the heat of the moment when we didn't notice."

"Is there any way we could determine that?" Yukizome asked.

"I've got a proposition!" Sakakura snickered, cracking his knuckles in the process. "The surveillance cameras probably pick up tons of footage from that fiasco. If we break down the doors to the security room, we can just watch the footage and see what really happened."


They all looked up at the ceiling to see Monokuma standing on the chandelier. The monochromatic teddy bear jumped to the ground with a shotgun fidgeting in his paws, a bandolier wrapped around his chest, and sweat dripping from his body. "I'm sorry, maybe my ears aren't clean or something. If I didn't know any better I'd say you bastards were contemplating breaking one of the Future Foundation's rules, and after all the good I've done for you."

"What the hell are you talking about, you dumb bear?" Sakakura replied. "You're the one who trapped us in this place. And what're you even doing with that gun?"

The two-toned bear dropped the gun and bandolier, "Nothing particularly. I was just planning on going on a trigger happy havoc to anyone who decides to break my rules, though I can see you guys have found yourself in a rut trying to figure out who dropped the grenade, so I've decided to give you some help in your dilemma."

"What do you mean by help?" Kirigiri looked doubtful.

"With this!" Monokuma playfully announced, he presented them with a photograph. "If you bastards really wanna figure out all this he-said she-said stuff, then you're in luck! I wanted to give you this picture a little earlier, but it took a little longer to develop the film that expected."

The bear dropped the photograph on the ground closest to Mitarai, as the others gathered around him, he inspected the picture and found something truly unbelievable in only the first few seconds he received it. An isometric view of the fifteen participants of the game in the meeting room — Tengan was standing closest to Kizakura, Bandai, and Great Gozu. Munakata and Yukizome wear near the table. Mitarai and Gekkogahara were in the center. Sakakura was still holding Makoto down in the center of the room. Kimura, Ando, and Izayoi were further in the back. Kirigiri and Asahina were together as they watched their friend being restrained.

Of course, this was a photograph of the minutes before everyone got knocked unconscious.

"This is where it all began," Yukizome broke the silence, sounding more calm than usual.

"Great," Sakakura snarked sarcastically. "How are we gonna narrow things down now? If somebody wasn't present in this picture, then they're probably the one who dropped the grenade. But everyone here is present and accounted for."

"Let me see that," Munakata said, swiping the photograph out of Mitarai's hands. The Ultimate Student Council President's eyes scrolled across the picture back and forward multiple times, they eventually shrunk when he saw something unusual about this picture, he pointed to what he'd been talking about this his index finger, "Have a look at this."

He presented the photograph back to everyone, with his finger now tracing over the specific detail that he found unusual — a small cylinder that was simply lying right on the ground between Tengan, Kizakura, Bandai, and Great Gozu, the detail was small that you could hardly notice it in the picture, but all five of them immediately knew this could only be the sleeping gas grenade that started the killing game.

"It's the grenade!" Sakakura gasped, "What's it doing here?"

"And why's it between them?" Yukizome followed, as her finger traces to the four individuals on the picture that were closest to the small cylinder, "Does that mean they're the ones responsible for dropping the grenade?"

"No, that can't be, right?" Mitarai nervously muttered. "Kizakura-san can be a little strange sometimes, but I don't think he's the traitor. Gozu-san wanted to protect Chairman Tengan and even offered to watch over his body and make sure no one tampers with the crime scene, and I don't really think Bandai-san would—"

"Geez! You bastards are such a drag!" moaned Monokuma in annoyance. "That's you guys' problem, you're all so content on believing that nobody could have possibly committed a murder or have been a traitor to the foundation because of how they presented themselves on the outside! Somebody in that picture is a liar and a traitor to the Future Foundation!"

While he hated to admit it, Mitarai believed that Monokuma may have been right about that in some aspect. Perhaps, the real reason he's really pushing for there not to be a traitor is because he's assuring there isn't any conflict going on, and there won't be any more casualties, a form of denial that will make him better, denial there won't be any more suffering — any more sadness — any more betrayal — any more pain — any more despair.

"Kyoko-chan, Mitarai! There you two are!" his thoughts came to its end, as they saw Asahina rush through the doors with Gekkogahara and Makoto following her from behind. "How's everything going, did you guys find anything that'll help us?"

"Ah, goodie! Now the whole main cast has assembled!" laughed Monokuma, "Welp, I'm gonna bounce! I've gotta start making preparations for the super, terrific, despair-inducing punishment that's gonna happen soon! It's gonna be great!"

As the bear ran off to some unknown location, they all felt it better to just ignore him and continue their conversation. "So far, we learned a lot of things by collecting alibis, such as the all the clocks being set to an hour later, or that someone apparently broke into Kimura's office and stole medication from her," Gekkogahara proceeded to recollect, "What about you guys, have you found anything during your investigation?"

"We haven't found who the traitor is yet," Kirigiri answered, something that caused Asahina to slump over disappointment. "In spite of that, we have may found something that will be of help to us. A little before you arrived, Monokuma provided us with a hint on who the traitor could potentially be with a photograph of the moment leading up to everyone passing out."

"A photograph?" Makoto repeated.

"Yeah, but that photograph didn't give us too many hints," Mitarai answered with a sigh.

"That's not necessarily true, Mitarai-kun," a confident smirk appeared on Kirigiri's face. "We've already established that no one actually saw the sleeping gas grenade drop when the game started, and the four suspects that could have dropped the grenade were all facing each other in the picture. That means there's only one other way the grenade could've been dropped, and I believe I have the answer to that."

Being that they were still rather distrustful of the group, Munakata and his group remained back at the conference room to continue more of their investigation, though it mostly was because Sakakura didn't want them around anymore and wasn't even attempting to be subtle about his loathing for them. It didn't seem to matter for them anyway since they found everything that was important in that room, and Kirigiri had something important she wanted to show them.

She lead them back into the halls, leaving everyone else a bit confused since they already covered a great deal of Tengan's murder, the autopsy that Kimura gave them in the beginning and the discovery of his forbidden action and the chuusen already seemed like plenty enough for this case, however, Kirigiri walked straight past the bloody corpse of their deceased Chairman and continued walking without giving things much thought. The Ultimate Detective eventually stopped when she saw a device on the wall — an air purification device, to be more specific.

"Is this what you wanted to show us?" Makoto asked.

"Yes," Kirigiri replied instantly.

"What is that?" Asahina asked confusingly, "Is it an alarm?"

"No, it's the Future Foundation's air purification system," Gekkogahara answered, Monomi observed the device with her head tilted in confusion. "The air purification system is connected to all the all ventilation in the building and helps provide headquarters with stable oxygen sources. I'm not sure how this would relate to the sleeping gas grenade, unless..."

Instead of giving an explanation, Kirigiri reached into her jacket's pocket and retrieved a big folded piece of paper, "This should help us in figuring out exactly how the grenade made its way into the conference room."

"What's that?" questioned Makoto.

"While Mitarai-kun and I were in Kizakura-san's office, I found something laying on his desk that interested me. It's a blueprint that maps out the exterior of the top floor and shows how all the rooms are closely connected to one another," Kirigiri explained.

"When did you find this?" Mitarai gasped.

"I found this while you two were talking," Kirigiri replied, she handed the sheet of paper over to Mitarai, "Have a look."

The Ultimate Animator did as he was told and examined the contents of the blueprint, and to his amazement found that she was absolutely correct about all the rooms being connecting together in some way in this building, most specifically through its ventilation. Based on what he could see in the blueprint — the Ultimate Student Council President's office and library vents were connected — the food storage and the conference room were connected by vents as well — and the Human Resource's office and the lounge room were also connected.

"Did you find something?" Asahina leaned over.

Mitarai's eyes were far too glued to the diagram to look up, he responded with a sheepish nod, "I think I did, and I'm not really sure what this means, but part of me has a bad feeling about what's going to happen next. I mean, are we sure that this blueprint can actually—"

The blonde haired animator didn't have the chance to finish his sentence, and now he never would. They miraculously found themselves only a few inches away from the nearest monitor, where it automatically turned itself on and displayed an overly eccentric Monokuma popping the cork off a bottle of champagne in celebration.

"Alrighty ladies and gents, your time is up! It's time for the grand magnum opus of The Final Killing Game—the Future Foundation Trial! Please gather yourselves in the hall and make your to the elevator for further information!"

Makoto's fists were clenched with determination and anxiety, "It's finally time, isn't it?"

The mutual feeling of stress and anxiety found it's way through the others participants as well, especially through the survivors of Class 78 who all thought they would never step foot in another courtroom ever again. "Do you guys really think we can do it?" Asahina shuttered.

"We don't really have a choice on the matter. If we refuse, we'll probably be injected with poison, and the same thing will happen if we can figure out who's been responsible for this whole case," Kirigiri reminded them. Her sharp purple eyes looked down to her bangle, and then back up to everyone else, "We will uncover the truth behind this case...we have to."

Chapter Text

A cavalcade of negative feelings infested Makoto like a virus, as he reluctantly made his way through the empty halls, his blood ran ice cold and his legs are anxiously doing everything in their power to run; but running was futile in their circumstance, even if they did manage to run somehow, it's not like they had anywhere else to go. His thoughts were brought to its impasse when he saw his fellow participants all gathered together near the elevator just like Monokuma told them, and to everyone's surprise, the doors finally ascended open after three days of never moving.

What made this feel even moe strange is that while Makoto had only been trapped in this building for a few days, the mere sight of that elevator door opening up was like a culture shock to him, still finding it hard to believe how many days truly passed since the game began — he snapped himself out of that and reassured himself that he already found evidence that would prove who staged the murder of Chairman Tengan, and he utmost trust that Kirigiri and Mitarai found clues that could help prove who's the traitor.

"The doors to the elevator finally opened! What for?" Great Gozu gasped.

"Did someone from the outside open the door?" Kimura's eyes grew wider, with a sense of relief and anticipation flowing from within her, "Have we been rescued?"

"No, I'm afraid not," Munakata interrupted, breaking said unfortunate news much to the Ultimate Pharmacist's disappointment. "Do you recall the announcement that just played? The elevator door was obviously opened by Monokuma. There's a courtroom located in the basement of headquarters, and I'm sure that's where Monokuma will be taking us for the trial."

Gekkogahara followed up by nodding, having recalled the exact same thing and rapidly typed away on her keyboard. "That's right, I remember too," a cartoonish light bulb hovered above Monomi's head to indicate her remembrance, "It's the same courtroom that Naegi-kun wouldn't been taken to during his trial, right?"

Sakakura clenched his fist, enraged. The Ultimate Boxer was ready to take his anger out on anything, but strangely looked at his bangle for some reason and lowered his fist. "Dammit! How did things come so far? We're supposed to be the fucking salvation of the world, and now we're stuck in this heap and forced to kill each other."

"Yeah, and so far none of the secondary branches have come to our rescue," Great Gozu nodded with distraught. "Surely, our predicament is of the utmost urgency, and yet we haven't heard from them since our last meeting. I can't believe this is all happening."

Kirigiri stepped forward into their conversation. "Whether you chose to believe or not is your own choice. Regardless, that's not going to change the reality we're facing. Chairman Tengan Kazuo is dead, and we'll be joining him soon if we don't avenge his death and uncover the truth of his murder."

"Yeah, she's right. We definitely can't give up now!" Makoto agreed, his words drawing the attention to his fellow participants. "We need to work together and uncover the truth of Chairman Tengan's murder! That's what he would've wanted."

His response hadn't fared very well — besides the smiles of encouragement from Asahina and Gekkogahara — the others mainly reacted with very mixed opinions, mostly looks of uncertainty, doubt, reluctance, or just plain anger. Rightfully so perhaps, they had already been war-scarred people for years because the actions of the Tragedy, and with the death of Tengan fresh in everyone's mind, they were either afraid of the game, genuinely concerned about their own survival, or irritated and fed up with the constant gestures of optimism that weren't getting them anywhere, nor escaping the building.

Munakata was indisputably in the last group, he narrowed his eyes, almost ready to draw his sword from its scabbard, "Do you honestly believe it's that simple?"

"What do you mean?" the Ultimate Hope asked in concern.

The Ultimate Student Council President threateningly turned to him, a response that made Makoto back a little further away, his sword clearly spoke for itself. "This isn't Hope's Peak Academy anymore, your meaningless and hollow worlds of grandeur may have successfully swayed five amnesiac children, but it won't have the same effect here. The people who stand in this room have witnessed horrors beyond your belief, civilizations destroyed, lives ruined, people killed. You speak of hope, but let me ask you Naegi, have you ever witnessed true despair?"

A small silence came about, Makoto wasn't sure how he should properly respond to that. Mitarai had taken notice of the silence, "We're really gonna have to start this trial now? I mean, did we really find enough evidence to figure everything out?"

"That unfortunately cannot be helped," Kirigiri said to the meek animator. "We've already reached the time limit of our investigation, all the pieces of evidence that we found will just have to suffice. What about you Mitarai-kun, do you believe everything you found was necessary."

"I guess I have no choice," the Ultimate Animator replied, he looked at his bangle and back to the others. "We...need to avenge the death of Chairman matter what," he managed to say, he slightly stuttered in his words, though small hints of confidence could be found.

The fourteen participants realized there was nothing more to discuss and made their way into the elevator, inevitably met with frustration when they learned that none of the buttons on the elevator actually worked anymore except the one leading them into the basement, though it made sense in hindsight since they knew that the mastermind would never make things easy for them. The situation couldn't be helped and there was nowhere to run, so without much of a say in the situation, without any further obections they pressed the button and allowed the elevator shaft to descend into the basement.

An akward silence filled the room and it was fairly easy to tell everyone was on edge. Their leader had just been killed and now they're standing in an enclosed space with a concealed murderer, anyone would be paranoid about that.

Finally the elevators had come to a halt, exposing the unnerving sight of what lied beyond that door. The court room, playing in on another case of cruel nostalgia to Makoto—the curtains, the podiums, and the big throne centered in the middle of the room were all too familiar. His stomach was in multiple knots at the sight and needed to smack the blood circulation back into his legs simply because of how nervous he was.

His anxiety made him the final person to step out the elevator and joined the others where Monokuma giddly welcomed them.

"Welcome ladies and gentlemen, to the Future Foundation trial grounds! Mikasa su casa!" the two-toned teddy bear happily presented.

"Why're you making such a big deal out of the room? We've already known about this room," scoffed Ando.

More than anyone, Great Gozu couldn't help but eye all the cameras and monitors that scattered themselves. "This isn't like the same court room that I originally helped architect, there's way too much surveillance equipment."

"As if we didn't have enough cameras watching our every move," Izayoi said sarcastically.

"Those old things? They're just here so I can keep a close eye on you bastards, don't worry, you'll hardly even notice them!" Monokuma answered for them. "But enough dilly dallying! All you guys have been assigned podiums where you'll be standing for all the trials, hurry up and get there, time's a wastin'!"

They all followed their given instructions and reported to their respective podiums, the fact that all podiums were gathered together in a circle did nothing to help the tension they were already feeling towards on another. Somewhere amidst their group of fourteen lied a killer, and in order to survive throughout this game they would have to sacrifice that said killer in order to escape this building.

It was cruel, but it was the cruel truth they were facing.

In what now seemed to be a regular tradition, all fourteen of the participants stood at their assigned podiums. Makoto specifically found himself assigned in between Great Gozu and Ando, in spite of admittedly wanting to stand next to someone he felt safer around like Kirigiri, Asahina, or Mitarai. He gazed over to the lavendar haired detective and observed that her podium was next to what should've been Tengan — which Monokuma compensated with a portrait of the deceased Chairman with a big "X" slanted across the picture in what looked to be blood.

It was high time for the trial of truth and deception...the trial of trust and betrayal...the trust of vice and virtue...the trial of faith and distrust...the trial of life and death...the trial of hope and finally begin...


"Tengan Kazuo...the Chairman of the Futurue complete contrast of the others members of the foundation, he was strictly a pacifist until the very end...he promised that he was going to protect everyone no matter what the cost was...the idea that someone would kill him right under everyone's noses is...unforgivable! I need to avenge his death...I need to uncover the truth behind his murder and save everyone!"

Monokuma fidgeted with pure excitement, happily resting on his throne. "Alright ladies and gentlemen, let's start things off with a basic explanation on how these trials work for the newcomers! You guys are gonna present your argument for who you believe the culprit is. If you vote correctly, then only the blackened will be punished, and the rest of you survive. But if you pick the wrong one...I'll punish everyone besides the blackened, and that person will earn the right to escape this building and become a denizen of society again. Now then, let's get this show on the road!"

"Before we begin, there's something important we start to assess," Kirigiri halted everyone, her sharp purple eyes inspected all the other participants in the trial, "Has anyone else noticed something strange about the podiums?"

Makoto's eyebrows raised when he saw the empty podium smack dab in the middle of Kizakura and Yukizome's podium. He might have noticed this sooner if he wasn't busy reminiscing about the death of Chairman Tengan. "That's right, there are sixteen podiums here, but there's only fifteen of us."

"Maybe it's meant for Hanamori Kaori-san—the leader of the 13th Division?" Asahina suggested. "Hanamori-san was actually meant to attend Naegi's trial the other day, but she was busy with food distribution in Istanbul, so I came instead."

"If you're only filling in for Hanamori-san, then why would Monokuma need sixteen podiums?" Kimura asked.

"Oh yeah, I totally forgot about that," Asahina remembered.

"Perhaps the podium is just meant for an extra?" Great Gozu suggested.

"How about we forget trying to follow any of Monokuma's logic?" Sakakura sighed in annoyance, "We all know that bear doesn't make any goddamn sense. He probably just put the extra podium in to make us all confused."

"Yes, it's better to dismiss those notions for the time being. We have more pressing matters to attend to, such as...who's the culprit responsible for murdering Tengan Kazuo?" Munakata affirmed to everyone, with Yukizome and Sakakura following the same train of thought with agreeing nods. "If what Monokuma said is true, then someone we know in this very room is the murderer."

"Does that really mean someone in our group is the killer?" Great Gozu asked, "What if everything Monokuma said this whole time was a lie and he's just trying to mislead everyone. That way he can execute us without having to break any of his rules."

Mitarai solemnly shook his head in regret. "Uhhh...I'm not too sure about that. If Monokuma was going to have us killed, wouldn't he have done that already?"

"Yep, that's right, Mitarai-kun! For as long as The Final Killing Game continues, I won't lay a single paw on you bastards!" the two-toned bear confirmed with the usual sadistic grin on his face. "After all, it would be far too boring if I just went coup d'etat on you guys instantly."

Kizakura flexed his right hand, and cooly took a drink from his flask. "I'll be the first to admit, I've gotta give the killer credit where credit is due. They definitely dropped the ball by killing the Chairman of all people, that's a pretty daring move."

"Geez! How many times do I have to tell you?" Monokuma yelled in anger, "I'm the Chairman of the Future Foundation, not Tengan!"

From the look of things, everyone felt it probably better to ignore the inane banter to spat out anything that comes from the bear's mouth. " are we supposed to start one of these trials?" asked Mitarai.

Whether he liked to admit it or not, Makoto couldn't deny that he already had tons of experiences with trials under his belt after participating in six of them, so naturally he decided to speak up, "Well, let's start things off by referring to what it says on that Monokuma File, that usually helps us get an idea on how the murder played out. According to the file, Chairman Tengan's was discovered in the halls around the estimate time of 7:00 AM, there were two open wounds found on both his chest and neck areas."

"Yes, and from what Kimura-san told us, the wounds appeared to have killed him instantly," Kirigiri added in.

"Did the murder really happen at 7:00 AM?" Mitarai blinked in confusion. "I remember waking up around 6 AM, and I don't really think too much time passed after I discovered the body."

"Maybe Mitarai-chama just imagined it?" Bandai suggested.

"No, that's wrong!" Makoto interjected, trying to think back to previous events. "I think Mitarai-kun's telling the truth. A little before the trial started, I did some investigating and started collecting alibis from others for information. And I remember that Ando-san and Izayoi-kun said they previously encountered Chairman Tengan changing the times to the clocks around that time as well."

"We'll need more validation on a claim like that, otherwise we can't determine if you're telling the truth," Munakata said, he specifically looked to Ando's podium for an answer, "Is Naegi telling the truth about his claim or not?"

"Yeah, he's clean," the Ultimate Confectioner replied. "Me and Yoi-chan saw Tengan in the halls, he was messing with the clocks. We were the only ones in the halls at the time, so I can't think of anyone else who could've done it."

"Wait just a second! If you saw that decrepit old-timer messing with the clocks, then why the fuck did you not tell us this sooner?" Sakakura realized with anger, "That sounds like a pretty important piece of evidence for this case."

"I'm sorry, but since when did I owe you anything!" Ando shot back.

"We're getting off topic," Kirigiri interrupted, a hint of irritation in her tone, "For now, let's continue discussing the murder of Tengan."

"With Ando's testimony now validated as truth, we're now able to confirm that Tengan was indeed responsible for switching the times of the clocks an hour later," Munakata continued speaking, "Yet, there's still another glaring question about this reveal that we need to properly address...exactly why was Tengan tinkering with all the clocks in the first place?"

Why was Tengan changing the times of the clocks...? I know there's gotta be an explanation based on the evidence I found... Makoto began to contemplate in his head. "I've got it! We've already learned that Chairman Tengan had deliberately changed the times of the clocks an hour earlier, but we didn't know was that he used them to draw someone out to fight them."

"So, what you're saying is that Tengan was trying to snuff somebody out?" Sakakura raised an eyebrow in disbelief. "You're starting to sound even more sketchy than usual. He couldn't have done that, otherwise he wouldn't be dead right now."

"No, Naegi-kun's on the right track," Kirigiri smirked. "Think back to exactly what was attatched to Tengan's wrist when his body was discovered, his right wrist to be more specific, and you'll find your answer."

"Are you talking about the chuusen?" Mitarai wondered, with the Ultimate Detective answering with a nod, "That was attached to his right wrist when we discovered his body in the halls this morning."

"What're you saying? Does that mean Chairman Tengan could actually be the mastermind?" Great Gozu asked.

"Well, wouldn't that much be obvious?" Ando chimed back in. "Tengan had known an awful lot of things about this building and could've created a secret door in the lounge room, so it wouldn't be that hard to believe."

"And now that you mentioned it, how about that forbidden action of Tengan's—Answering a Question with a Lie?" Kizakura reminded the group. "Maybe I'm just a little in over my head...but does anyone else remember some of the strange things Tengan was saying before he died?"

Strange things? Makoto needed a moment to recollection his past memories and think back to everything over the span of those few days. Initially, he wasn't quite sure what Kizakura could've been implying by what he mentioned with Tengan's forbidden action, though after further recollections of some things the deceased Chairman said before his death, that may have become more obvious—

"We're trapped inside a building where tensions are high and the possibility that a killing game happening is quite likely."

"In our situation, the culprit responsible for all this could be anyone in this building—it may as well even be me."

Exactly what that meant were anyones guesses. Were they coincidental? Did they hold some sort of cryptic meaning? If what Kizakura said was true, then that would mean Tengan could have already been aware that a killing game would happen, or maybe that he was even the mastermind. Since he's dead now, asking him would obviously be out of the question, so Makoto could only rely on speculation, assumptions, and interpretations based on how the murder played out and the events leading up to it.

"Whatever the meaning, clearly we're far too early in this trial so start making baseless assumptions," Munakata dismissed those thoughts. "Let's address the chuusen found wrapped around Tengan's wrist. It's an older weapon specifically designed for the sake of shooting projectiles, but there wasn't any evidence in the crime scene that indicated it was ever used."

"Maybe someone attacked him before he even had a chance to use it?" Yukizome suggested. "Chairman Tengan is an elderly man, so he must've been defenseless at that moment."

"I'm not really sure that Chairman Tengas was defenseless," Mitarai replied. "While investigating, I read a book on the records of all Future Foundation members, and Tengan's record was in there too. It said he was a veteran in the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and was a skilled combatant for his time."

"It's true," confirmed Munakata. "A long time before becoming Headmaster of Hope's Peak, Tengan served time in the self defense forces for twenty years. He was the one who taught me everything I knew about swordsmanship and how to properly perfect my skills more. His combat skills aren't too impossible to rule out—he used to be a ruthless combatant, definitely a force force to be reckoned with, and showed no mercy to anyone who crossed his path. Though, something happened a little after Naegi was recruited and he changed his ideals."

"A participant that secretly hid their identity of being a soldier from everyone...why does that sound familiar?" Monokuma randomly said aloud. "Nah, doesn't ring a bell!"

"And if that's the case, then the Chairman wasn't fully defenseless," Makoto began to realize. "And if he intentionally changed the clock to an hour later in order to draw someone out, and went to retrieve the chuusen...that means he must have been attempting to murder someone!"

A large question mark found itself above Monomi's head. "Who could he have been trying to kill?" Gekkogahara asked.

"Maybe, it's someone that Chairman Tengan considered an enemy?" Yukizome pondered.

"An enemy? Did Tengan have any enemies?" Mitarai asked.

"I'm not sure he had any enemies, he seemed to appreciate all of us," Great Gozu said, beginning to recall his past memories of the Chairman. "Maybe he wasn't actually trying to kill anyone. What if he committed suicide and framed himself as the mastermind so we could all escape this building together?"

"Suicide!?" Kimura exclaimed with shock. "If the wounds inflicted on him were the result of suicide, then shouldn't this whole trial be over already?"

Kirigiri shook her head. "No, the trial isn't over, because Tengan didn't commit suicide. If he did, then we're found with more questions about the case than answers, such as his reasoning for doing so? And another aspect found in the crime scene proves that he didn't kill himself, this detail was missing from Tengan's murder. Do you remember, Naegi-kun?"

Another important aspect to the crime scene? If what Kirigiri-san said is true, then this would prove that Tengan didn't commit suicide... the Ultimate Hope started thinking. "It's about the murder weapon, isn't it?" the lavender-haired detective confirmed his question with a nod, "Whenever we investigated the murder there weren't any weapons present in the crime scene, which means that whoever really did kill Tengan must have moved the weapon somewhere else.

"Yeah," Mitarai agreed, but also sounded uncertain. "Tengan was a brilliant man, but he couldn't have done something like that. He would've have been able to kill himself, then somehow hide the murder weapon right before he died, would he?"

Kirigiri placed a finger to her chin. "No, he wouldn't. And the only weapon present at the crime scene was the chuusen, and we've already established it was never actually used."

"When we first discovered Chairman Tengan's body, I gave him an autopsy," Kimura reminded everyone, and still sounded rather mad at herself for being unable to save him in time. "A fatal laceration was found in the cervical region of his body and was found impaled in the left side of his pectoral region and presumably suffered from massive internal and external bleeding for a long period of time without proper treatment."

"What does that mean in layman's terms?" Ando moaned.

The Ultimate Pharmacist shot her a look of disapproval, and then continued. "It means Chairman Tengan's throat was found slit open and he was impaled through the chest, he didn't have any time to recover, so he couldn't have successfully hid a murder weapon with an inch of his life, not without us seeing at least."

"Which confirms the the killer must have hid the murder weapon after Tengan died," Kirigiri replied.

"Do you know what could've been used to kill him?" Yukizome asked.

"I'm anything but a doctor, but if I were to guess—a sharp object—perhaps?" Kizakura suggested calmly. "Like maybe a knife or a blade, or something. I dunno the details."

"Sharp objects are like backwards talking seagulls, so it definitely could've worked." Bandai noted.

A sharp object?

Makoto took the suggestion the human resources gave him into consideration. Of course, it all made perfect sense in hindsight. The only other weapon found in the crime scene was the chuusen, which was out of the question since it's confirmed to have never been used, and wouldn't possibly have been able to inflict the same wounds that Kimura brought up in her autopsy. A sharp weapon? Pins and needles already filled inside him at simply the thought, the idea of before forced to expose someone for murder only reminded him of the times he'd been forced to vote for his own friends at Hope's Peak Academy.

WIth a quick look through the Monokuma File on his bangle, he mentally double checked all the evidence once more. If his suspicions were correct — the culprit who killed Chairman Tengan was someone who must have known about the hidden weapons room behind the library and accessed the room after he and the others left, then used that katana to kill the Chairman — he couldn't think of a single other person that would have been responsible for slitting his throat or impaling him through the chest.

"I think I know what the weapon was," Makoto said.

"You know what the murder weapon is? Then what is it?" asks Kimura.

"A katana," he deadpanned. Makoto was fully aware this reveal may only stir up some more conflict in the trial, though the information could be a cruical part of the trial. "During the investigation, Gekkogahara-san, Asahina-san, and I searched Munakata-san's office, and we found a silver katana lying on the ground...and it was covered in blood. The katana looked just like the one we found in a secret weapons room that Monokuma presented us for the motive."

"What the...fuck?" Sakakura blanked. "What're you even fucking talking about? Munakata's not the killer!"

"No, that's can't be right!" Yukizome hysterically denied, "Kyosuke, couldn't have killed someone, right?"

"I agree," Great Gozu followed. "There must be some kind of misunderstanding. Kyosuke couldn't have actually killed someone, he's the one who's been trying to prevent any killings from happening this entire time."

"That's quite the valiant claim, Naegi Makoto. Do you have any proof that I killed Tengan?" Munakata simply raised his eyebrow.

"Yeah, how do we know you're not just making this up!" Sakakura yelled at makoto.

"Maybe I should've made a truth serum for this," Kimura hissed.

"Naegi's telling the truth!" Asahina interjected, "When we were investigating Munakata office, we found the katana was covered in blood stains!"

"And that's not all," Gekkogahara followed. "After we entered Vice Chairman's office, we encountered Monokuma and he told us something strange. He mentioned that we weren't the first people who entered this room this morning."

"What!?" Sakakura gasped in shock.

"So, is Munakata really the killer, or what?" Ando commented, "I can't really say I'm too surprised. He was always been a pretty shady guy, and I was almost positive that he'd been up to something since the game began."

"Munakata-san, do you have anything to say in your defense?" Kirigiri questioned sternly.

Chapter Text

"I did not kill Tengan Kazuo."

With his position taken into consideration, that was nothing short of a bold statement. Even with all the pieces of evidence coming together and clearly pointing to him — the bloody katana — the stabbed wounds on Tengan — and even other factors like his falling out with the now-deceased Chairman and being responsible for overseeing the production of the building, he'd been conspicuous since the beginning. Through it all, Munakata Kyosuke stood arguably the most susceptible person in the court room, and somehow retained his stern expression without even flinching, not even a bit.

"Vice Chairman Munakata, as you're probably already aware, that alone won't be enough to confirm your innocence," Kirigiri said. "If you're really not the culprit, then we're going to need some more proof."

Compared to everyone else, Makoto was arguably the most concerned in the room, possibly even more than Yukizome was. He was hoping with all his heart there was some kind of misunderstanding, and maybe his suspicions weren't correct, "Munakata-san, are you really the culprit?"

"You say that I'm the killer, but have you properly examined how this murder played out?" Munakata asked. "You're insinuating that I was lured by Tengan this morning, killed him with my own blade, and then returned the said blade back to my office while leaving the katana covered with blood inside. There are multiple holes in that logic, Naegi Makoto."

"What do you mean?" the Ultimate Hope asked.

"Try to remember how Tengan's body was discovered," Munakata reminded him. Makoto couldn't help but cringe at the thought of imagining the corpse again, though he tried regardless. "His body was discovered in an unruly condition when we found it. His chest was impaled, and his throat was slit, surely a great deal of blood would have splattered on my body. I'm attired in an all-white suit, so that would be impossible to miss, yes?"

"Yeah, that's right!" Sakakura agreed wholeheartedly. "You assholes have been outta your element this entire damn time!"

"Big whoop, he could've easily just cleaned the suit of blood before we noticed," Ando rolled his eyes.

"Yeah, and the closets are filled with outfits like the ones we're wearing," Mitarai pointed out. "That means, Munakata-san could've just changed into a different suit if one was already covered with blood."

"A light bulb never chases seaweed. I'm not really sure who to believe," Bandai sighed.

"This is getting difficult to understand. I want to believe that Kyosuke is telling the truth, and at the same time I don't want to beleive that Makoto is lying either," Great Gozu admitted in sorrow. "It seems like we're even further away from figuring out the mystery and have become even more split than before."


In surprise, the others looked straight to Monokuma, who eagerly stood from his throne. "Did my ears just deceive me?" the bear giggled. "Did somebody just say split?"

"Yeah, he did...what're you blabbering about this time?" Sakakura raised an eyebrow.

The monochromatic bear struggled to contain his giggles. "Excellent! Because I have an announcement to make! As the Chairman of the Future Foundation, I am proud to present a very new addition to the trials! I herby dub thee—Debate Scrum! Or Scrum Debate, if you prefer..."

All the participants looked mostly unimpressed; evidently it seemed that Makoto and the other two survivors of the 78th Class were the most surprised, "Debate scrums?"

Monokuma nodded with eagerness, he pressed a button on his throne, revealing a side-by-side picture of two teams debating against each other in a trial. "The rules of the Debate Scrums are actually quite simple. You bastards will be divided into two separate factions depending on your stance during the trial—the Moderate Faction and the Radical Faction—both factions will debate about what they believe is true about the case. When your team reaches their conclusion, you must all agee with that claim."

"You want us to play a game to determine who's right?" a dumbfounded Yukizome asked.

"That sounds like a shitty way to determine things," Sakakura snarled.

"I'm on the contrary," Munakata replied. "If that's the route we must take to settle things, then I'll comply."

"How about it Naegi, do you think we can handle this?" Asahina confidently leaned over Makoto's podium.

"I guess we don't really have a choice," the Ultimate Hope acknowledged in defeat.

"So, how do we begin?" Kirigiri asked strictly.

"Before you begin, there's still another important part of the Debate Scrums you better remember," Monokuma said. "You bastards are gonna have important roles to fulfill in these debates, they'll help you all carry your respective teams. That particular information can be found on your bangles, right now."

Everyone could hear an ominous small jingle simultaneously play from their bangles. Inevitably one thing was certain—absolutely nothing good comes from these bangles. Makoto gazed at the other podiums and saw his fellow participants were reading the red text displayed across their bangles and proceeded to follow in their actions.


Makoto blinked, he wasn't really sure what to make of the text, "King, what does that mean?"

"Well, I'm glad you asked, Naegi-kun," Monokuma grinned in response. "The King is arguably the most important part of any faction, and this one is no different. It's their job to lead their factions to seek out the truth and determine the outcome of this trial. If you make a false accusation...then it'll be off with your head!"

Munakata only glanced at his bangle, he skimmed past the text and looked dispassionate. "It would appear that you and I have received the same title in this. Very well, let's begin so I can proof your accusations are incorrect."

In response, the Ultimate Hope gulped; there was a sense of déjà vu about this particular scenario. It had only been a few days since he was placed under arrest for his suspicions of colluding with the Remnants of Despair and he was now reminded of how he was meant to testify for his actions. Hard to believe it had been a good few days since that transpired, it was plain to see that they were a long ways off course from the trial meant for his treason. Makoto remembered that now wasn't the best time to start thinking about the past.


Simultaneously, Kirigiri and Yukizome both looked at their bangles and found they received the title of "Queen", the Ultimate Housekeeper shamelessly felt flattered that she had been given that role; in contrast to Kirigiri who didn't bat an eye. And it didn't seem like any explanation was needed for Kirigiri—the one who's helped and supported him so many times that he couldn't possibly count.

"What are these roles?" the Ultimate Detective asked.

"The queens are considered the secondary leaders of their respective factions," Monokuma said, "Their job is to follow up with the leaders decisions by confirming or deny the accusations from either opposing team. Oh, and I think Yukizome-san needs a tissue."

In hindsight, those particular roles made sense in Makoto's eyes. He had only known Yukizome for a few days, but regardless of that already seemed well aware that she really admired Munakata and supported him at every step, after learning they were both friends in high school.


"I've got the role of knight, what does that mean?" Asahina asked.

"Looks like I've got it too." Sakakura followed, though annoyance was found in his tone.

"The knights are the second-in-command of their factions," said Monokuma. "The job of the knight is to support their leaders accusations and refute against any claims, if they believe they're false that is."


It seemed that Bandai was the first person to look at his bangle, judging by his reaction, "Bishop, what does that mean?"

"Throughout history bishop's were authority figures who oversaw assembly in churches," his question was followed up by an answer from Izayoi. "Though I wouldn't know if these trials had anything to do with that."

"No, not those kinds of bishops!" Monokuma corrected the blacksmith, "In these debates, the job of the bishop is to deny any claims delivered from their opposing teams."

"It looks like I have the title of bishop too," Kimura acknowledge, looking at her own bangle.

"That's just typical," Ando groaned sarcastically, "Of course they give me the same role as Kimura!"

"I'm not exactly thrilled about it either," the Ultimate Pharmacist shot back, as the two girls gave each other angry looks to one another.


Those four were eventually followed by Gekkogahara and Great Gozu who both received the same title.

The Ultimate Therapist looked to her bracelet; and proceeded to type with her free hand, "Pawn, what's that supposed to mean?" she asked through Monomi.

"The pawn is usually a person who's less adorable and funny, they're required to listen to everything their big brother tells them," Monokuma started to say, "IS WHAT I WOULD SAY—If that were actually the case. Pawn's are the peacekeepers in their factions, they need to understand the views from both groups."

Gekkogahara did feel her role was pretty fitting considering she was a therapist, but was too busy pouting through her scarf about being called his sister again. Great Gozu took in all the information that he was given—albeit hesitantly—and continued to feel some remorse. "I really don't want to believe that Kyosuke is the killer, but I also can't believe that Makoto would be in the wrong for this."


Upon hearing the jingle from this bangle, Mitarai looked to see what he received. "I have the title rook...these are all like chess pieces, right?"

"Yep, they're all based on chess pieces, and it looks like I've got rook too," Kizakura replied, he drank a bit of the liquor in his flask for preparation. "Lucky for me, I'm a bit of a gambling man, so I can't imagine this should be very hard. I gotta hand it to Monokuma, he's definitely trying to shake things up."

"Is that really important right now?" Kirigiri asked, visibly irritated.

"Now then..." Monokuma said. "With the rules explained it's time to get things underway. In the blue corner, we have the Moderate Faction—lead by the Ultimate Hope, Naegi Makoto of the 14th Branch! And in the red corner, we have Radical Faction—lead by Ultimate Student Council President, Munakata Kyosuke of 2nd Branch! Let's get ready to rumbbleeeee!"

Gleefully, Monokuma retrieved a key from who-knows-where and opened a lock on his throne. And straightaway all the podiums in the room started to glow a different color; either white or black. From what Makoto had counted he noticed that Kirigiri, Asahina, Ando, Izayoi, Gekkogahara, and Mitarai's podiums were white—a prime indication that they were members of the Moderate Faction. Then in Munakata's Radical Faction with black podiums, there were many allies present on his side—of course Sakakura and Yukizome were present, there was Kimura and Great Gozu who both didn't want to believe he was the killer, and Bandai and Kizakura who remained unsure of what to think.

[Moderate Faction Vs Radical Faction]

Being the designated "king" of his faction, it only seemed customary that Munakata started, "As I've stated before, I cannot be the culprit. Otherwise a disorderly amount of blood would have been found on my garments. If you honestly believe I'm the culprit then you'll need to explain where the blood went."

"All the evidence that we found pointed to you being the culprit!" Makoto reminded him, now taking the helm of his faction, "There must be an explanation for this that we aren't noticing."

"I'm sorry, Naegi-kun. But I agree with Munakata about this, during the investigation I checked his office and didn't find any suits covered with blood." Yukizome sadly apologized, she hadn't wasted any time coming to the side of the Ultimate Student Council President.

"That doesn't rule out the other possibilities, it's not impossible to clean off blood." Kirigiri interjected.

Sakakura's eyebrows lowered, he'd been the most angry about the debate. Through and through; he remembered his role was to support his leader and refute any claims from the opposing team—not just for these debates, for life. "If you wanna keep making fucking accusations, then you're gonna need to explain a whole lot more. Even if Munakata somehow managed to clean the blood off the katana, then don't you think someone would have noticed him?"

In the knick of time; Asahina fired back, "That couldn't be, didn't Ando-chan and Izayoi say they were the only ones in the halls?"

With a thousand-yard stare from her cold purple eyes, Kimura's gaze hit specifically at the Ultimate Confectioner, "And how do we know they aren't lying? For all we know they be simply trying to get Munakata-san executed!"

"I'm not lying, because around that time Yoi-chan and me had witnessed Tengan changing the times to the clocks!" Ando hissed. "And besides, someone could've taken the katana and put it back when we weren't noticing."

Bandai scratched his chin, in undeniable confusion, "But couldn't Izayoi-chama have just used the katana to kill Chairman Tengan?"

"No member of the Izayoi Clan would ever wield a weapon that he hadn't forged himself, or he'd otherwise face the fury of the Namahage," the Ultimate Blacksmith denied. "And that would bring in more questions than answers; like my reason for killing him?"

"That only makes me more curious," Great Gozu admitted, "What Kyosuke's reasons for killing the chairman be?"

At the flick of the wrist Gekkogahara typed on her keyboard to reply to the question, "I think Munakata-san could have had reasons to commit a murder. He was feuding with Tengan even before the killing game, and if Tengan was really using the clocks to draw him out, then Munakata-san could have acted out of self-defense."

Kizakura placed a free hand on his chin, "Hmm. Probably a little late on this question—but aren't the swords that Munakata hangs in his office simply for decoration? They're basically, blunt objects, how could he have killed someone with them?"

"Well...but that wouldn't be a problem if a different kind of sword was used." Mitarai muttered hesitantly.

A different kind of sword...what does Mitarai-kun mean? Makoto closed his eyes, now beginning to think about the bloody sword he found in Munakata's office. In his memories it looked like a plain regular katana, but it was gray compared to the vintage brown katanas. He even recalled how Yukizome mentioned that the swords mounted on the wall weren't for fighting purposes. It was at that moment he instantly realized something about this case, "Guys! It is possible that Munakata-san could've committed the crime! When I investigated his office earlier, I had noticed something—one of the katanas stood out compared to the other words. And not just any katana, it was the bloody katana."

"How so?" Munakata raised an eyebrow.

"The katana covered in blood was gray, it didn't match the vintage katanas on the wall that were brown," Makoto explained. He looked to the other six members of his faction, "Guys, I think we've reached a closing!"

Those words confirmed that it was time to bring this debate to a closing—in perfect synch the seven members all yelled—


"That went even better than I expected!" Monokuma cheered. "I wasn't planning on doing this until the next couple killing games, but you bastards did surprisingly good."

"What Naegi-san's saying is true," Mitarai gulped. "When Kirigiri-san and I investigated we found one of Munakata-san's swords in the hidden weapons room in the library. I wasn't exactly sure why it was there at first...but it must've been switched out, right?"

"Yeah," Makoto agreed. "If Munakata-san's sword was found in that room, and a regular sword was found in his office. Then, surely that means they were switched. Just like Kizakura-san said, the vintage katanas aren't actual weapons, they're just antiques to decorate the room. Munakata-san would've needed to go to the weapons room and take one of the real katanas that Monokuma presented us with."

Munakata looked blankly at the brunette, before smirking, "I won't deny, Naegi Makoto. I watched the broadcast of the mutual killing of Hope's Peak Academy. I saw you in trials just like these, and how you managed to uncover the truth time and time again. I even found myself rather impressed when I witnessed your bravery against Enoshima Junko. But that will only get you so far. I'm going to refute your asinine claim one final time—I did not kill Tengan."

"You're still gonna deny it?" Asahina asked. "All the evidence is pointing to you!"

"You all are starting to become a broken record. How many times does he have to tell you?" Sakakura followed up.

"Does this mean we're still further from finding the culprit?" Gekkogahara asked, a question mark appeared over Monomi's head.

"That can't be! You mean we went through all that stuff for nothing?" Ando gasped. "If you aren't the killer, then show us some proof!"

Munakata narrowed his eyes before obliging, "You want me to prove my innocence, very well, how's this for proof?"

The Ultimate Student Council President began to lift the sleeve of his jacket up, showing off his bangle to everyone else. He remained calm, yet the same thing couldn't be said for the other participants in the courtroom. Their reactions had been a disorderly amalgamation of feelings.

"Using a Murder Weapon"

Makoto completely froze when he read those force words scroll across the man's bangle, revealing his forbidden action to the group of thirteen was the most daring thing anyone could've done in such a heated moment.

"You can't hold a murder weapon?" Asahina gasped with her blue irises growing smaller, "Then you really weren't the killer?"

The Ultimate Student Council President confirmed her question with a nod. "Yes, I'm not the killer. Had I been able to use my katana, I would've already killed Monokuma by now. And if any of you still believe I'm the killer you'll have to explain how I could possibly have killed someone without laying a finger on my katana, or any of my katana's for that matter, which is a pretty ludicrous idea if you decide to make that accusation."

"Then...if Munakata-san really isn't, then how come—"

"Just shut your mouth." Munakata instantly dismissed the Ultimate Hope. "I'm getting really exasperated by your splendor and hollow worlds. I'm not about to forget that I was only accused of murder a minute ago. Furthermore, your false accusations only make you out to be more suspicious."

"If Kyosuke didn't do it, then we're back to square one, right?" Yukizome sighed.

"Not exactly," Kirigiri corrected the housekeeper. "The fact that all suspicions from the Vice Chairman were cleared with his forbidden action means something else. If he wasn't directly involved with this case, then it means someone would have created that evidence to frame him for being the murder."

"Munakata-kun was framed? Oooohh, the plot thickens!" Monokuma gasped, munching on a tub of popcorn while doing so. No one even bothered paying attention to the bear, with the abundance of surveillance cameras all around he seemed to already know who the killer was and his enthusiasm obviously was just part of another one of his jokes.

"So, one of you assholes killed the old man and tried to blame it on Munakata?" Sakakura frowned, he looked to his comrade. "How about it, chief? Who do you think it was?"

Munakata agreed and cleared his throat. "You want my honest opinion? The person I believe could be responsible for staging this entire crime—is Mitarai."

Then, the room had been intoxicated with the awful feeling of silence. At first the only person who spoke was the suspect in question, who delivered a confusion—"What?"—as he tried to comprehend what Munakata had just said. More than anything, Makoto hoped that Mitarai wasn't really the person that killed the chairman, out of all the members of the Future Foundation he had met over the past few days, Mitarai was definitely the one he bonded with the most, and the two shared a lot in common.

He could only remember the times his deceased friends had to betray one another to survive in the last killing game.

"Are you an idiot?" Asahina asked furiously. "How could you even say something like that? Mitarai's our friend!"

"Kyosuke, do you really mean that? Mitarai-kun admired Tengan more than any of us," Yukizome recalled.

"And that's clearly all the more reason he could have been responsible," said Munakata. "Surely we wouldn't have expected something like this to happen. But the evidence is clearly present once you properly evaluate the case. If I remember correctly wasn't Mitarai the first person to uncover Tengan's body, followed my Naegi and his friends? The body discovery announcement plays when three people find a dead body, meaning the first person—Mitarai—could have killed him."

"No...that can't be true," Mitarai gasped, "Was I really the first person to discover the body?"

"It doesn't mean Mitarai-kun's the killer." Gekkogahara defended. "What would his purpose for killing Tengan be anyway?"

"That much can be proven. If we're going along the belief that Mitarai could've been the mastermind and traitor that Monokuma mentioned in the motive. If that's so the case would have gone something like this: Tengan became aware of Mitarai's status of being a double agent and decided to kill him before the game starts. He changed the times of the clocks to an hour later to draw out Mitarai, who switched out katanas from my office and the hidden weapons room, killed Tengan with the regular katana, and pretended to be a victim by acting surprised when the body was discovered. He would have gotten away with the murder and we'd be none the wis—"

"No, that's wrong!"

Those three words had never failed to cut through an opposing argument from someone. But, it wasn't Makoto who just exclaimed those words of rebuttal. It was actually Mitarai who spent an extra few more minutes waiting to properly muster up more courage to refute those claims.

The animator looked torn up about what he heard. "I didn't kill Tengan, and I'm not in league with Monokuma. Chairman Tengan wouldn't have tried to kill us...he was our leader, and a victim to this terrible game above all things...I know he may have been trying to draw someone out with those clocks, but he had everyone's best interest at heart...he cared about us...he was trying to protect us, I just know it. That's why...I can't believe Tengan's the traitor...I can't...I won't..."

Mitarai's fingers trembled on the handle of the podium, he had never spoke so confidently in front of that many people before in his life. He'd been expecting others to ostracize or belittle him for his actions, and was greatly surprised to find a smirk develop on Kizakura's face.

The talent scout adjusted his fedora. "Hmm. If I didn't know any better, I'd say Mitarai knows a whole lot more than he let on. Then again, maybe it's just a hunch of mine."

"Ryota, if you're not the you have any idea who it could be?" Great Gozu questioned.

"Are they someone in this room?" Bandai nodded, following the latters same train of thought.

"You'd better hurry up and answer correctly." Ando sassed. "Otherwise we're just gonna think you're the killer!"

"I second that. Now hurry up and answer before we lose our patience," Izayoi cooly agreed to his girlfriend's statement, and reached into his coat to retrieve a kunai to further threaten him.

"I have a bad feeling about the outcome of this." Kimura mumbled, quivering onto her podium.

"Then we're just gonna have to work together to find the answer!" Yukizome smiled determinately.

"Don't even think about lying to us. Last thing we need are more casualties." Sakakura threateningly warned him.

"If you really have an idea on who's responsible for this, then enlighten me, who do you think it is?" Munakata questioned sternly, though amusingly.

"We must be getting closer to finding the truth, right?" Gekkogahara quietly said through Monomi.

"You can't be the killer, and we know it, Mitarai!" Asahina cheered, with her hands clenched together.

"Have you found the answer?" Kirigiri calmly asked.

"Munakata-san isn't going to listen to me. Go ahead, Mitarai-kun." Makoto said firmly, yet encouragingly.

The Ultimate Animator swallowed his heart. He started to have an epiphany to himself, there were thirteen people all looking to him concurrently—that's twenty-six eyes—he thought to himself. The outcome of this trial was now placed into his hands, whether that mean they vote for the correct person and be forced to sacrifice a friend, or they vote for the incorrect person and all be executed.

Chapter Text

"How awful. For me to be put in a terrible situation."

"A situation where I'm again forced to endure the despair of losing another of my friends...and to make matters worse, it's not even my first time and it won't be the last either, I've always had to experience things like this for as long as I can remember. Typical, every time I try to help out others, things only take a turn for the worse...and at the expense of other people."

"A situation of life and death  — truth and deception  — hope and despair. "

"I'm not strong, or brave, or vigilant, and I'm anything but a hero."

"But...I want to try...I want to save others."

The Ultimate Animator's innocent eyes glared passed all the directions of the room. Unbeknownst to himself, he'd been far too caught up in his own inner thoughts of doubt and self deprecation that he nearly forgot about about the trial as a whole.

"How long are you gonna keep us waiting? Spit it out already!" Sakakura shouted, slowly in the midst of losing his patience.

"Mitarai-kun, are you okay?" Makoto called out, "You kinda spaced out a little."

"I did? Sorry about that," Mitarai apologized, now attempting to regather his thoughts. That's right, everyone was very close to either believing he may have an answer or was possibly the Chairman's killer. "Well, I started thinking a little more about what Kirigiri-san mentioned before. How that with all the fake evidence we found, and Munakata-san's name being cleared, then it's true that someone's really been framing him the entire time.

"Yeah, that's right," Gekkogahara agreed. "Monokuma told us that someone entered Munakata-san's office, but he never actually specified who it was."

"Well, I suggest that you better start talking," Sakakura threatened. "Otherwise, you're a shoo in for the next possibly suspect."

"This is tough like an outlet for a mongoose," Bandai sighed in defeat, giving his fellow participants looks in hope they would have something to say. "How are we supposed to find the killer if we don't even know who broke into Munakata-chama's office?"

Asahina leaned forward to the Ultimate Confectioner's podium. "Hey Ando-chan, when you saw Chairman Tengan messing with the clocks, did you see anyone try going into Munakata's office?

"Nope, I only saw Tengan," Ando composedly shrugged. "Yoi-chan and me were far too busy trying to open that secret door in the lounge to even care what else was going on."

"There's gonna be some way we can determine who entered Kyosuke's office," Great Gozu pondered.

Mitarai bit his lip tightly, practically doing everything in his power to stop himself from speaking another word. "Well...I've been thinking, there was something strange about Chairman Tengan's body when we discovered it. Can we really be sure that Tengan was actually murdered by the katanas. Maybe it's just an intuition, but the killer has been trying hard to frame Munakata-san and make things more elaborate."

"What the fuck are you talking about?" Sakakura raised an eyebrow with confusion. "Of course the old man was killed with the katana. Don't you remember the autopsy that Kimura gave him before the trial even started? Her autopsy said that Tengan's wounds would've killed him instantly."

"No, I haven't forgotten or anything, and I don't doubt what Kimura-san said either," Mitarai replied. "There's just something off about Tengan's corpse that I noticed when the body was first discovered."

"You noticed something?" the Ultimate Pharmacist had asked.

Mitarai nodded. "Yeah, and it came from his right palm."

"His right palm?" Makoto repeated, "You must be talking about the dry blood on his right palm."

"A victim's lifeless corpse found itself pressed up against the walls, their eyes were peacefully closed, in complete contrast with the unsettling amount of blood leaking from their wounded neck and chest, with the dry blood stuck to their right palm making things look even more conspicuous."

Gekkogahara followed with a nod in agreement. "Mitarai-kun's right. When Kimura-san performed the autopsy on Tengan, she never said anything about the blood on his palm."

"So what? He probably just coughed up some blood after Mitarai impaled him with the katana," Sakakura dismissed, intentionally putting a major emphasis on the Ultimate Animator's name.

Mitarai flinched when he heard Sakakura call him out as the killer. "Well, I'm not really sure that could've happened. Didn't Kimura-san say the chest and neck wounds would have killed him immediately? Would he really have had time to cough up blood in his palms?"

"No, he wouldn't have had time to cough blood onto his heads. The laceration he received wouldn't killed him instantly," Kimura meekly confirmed. "But, there also weren't any wounds found on his hands to indicate that he was stabbed anywhere on his hands  the blood was dry."

"Then what the hell could this mean?" the Ultimate Boxer questioned.

Makoto began to think about the case for a moment, and upon finding a viable answer his eyes lit up with the realization. "I don't think the katanas are what really killed Chairman Tengan!"

"He wasn't killed by the katanas?" Great Gozu asked in complete astonishment. "But, how can that be? Chairman Tengan had two wounds in his neck and chest, that had to have been what killed him."

"Naegi-kun's right," Kirigiri agreed. "There's some pivotal evidence that proves Tengan wasn't killed by the two wounds from the katana. As Kimura-san said, the wounds inflicted on Tengan would have killed him immediately, and he wouldn't have had time to recover and cough blood in his hands."

"You mean, all this time we've been thinking Chairman Tengan could've been killed with the bloody katana, but that's actually not the case?" Great Gozu gasped. "How were the wounds actually inflicted on him, before or after his death? And were they actually the cause of his death?"

"Hey Kimura-san, do you have any idea where the blood on his palm could've come from?" Gekkogahara asked through Monomi.

"Blood without a wound found on his hand could mean many things," the Ultimate Pharmacist began to think. "Perhaps there was a disruptor in the anterior surface of his hand that may have caused it? Or maybe he coughed blood into his hands before he died?"

"That must be it!" Makoto gasped in realization, he looked directly at the podiums of Asahina and Gekkogahara. "Do you two remember when we investigated Chairman Tengan's dorm? We found some tissues under his bed, and they were covered in blood spots."

"Bloody tissues?" Sakakura's eyes widened.

Mitarai gulped at the thought. "If the Chairman Tengan had bloody tissues under his bed, then that means he must have been coughing up the blood in those tissues?"

"Which means, the katana couldn't have been the cause of Tengan's death," Kirigiri finally confirmed without a doubt.

"I see," Kizakura understood and developed a smirk. "We've been lead to believe that Munakata is Tengan's killer and that the katana was the murder weapon, but that was just fake evidence meant to lead us astray the entire time, yeah?"

"But what exactly killed Tengan?" Ando questioned.

"Well," Mitarai started to contemplate the case. "We just established Chairman Tengan wasn't actually killed by the katana, and it was just a piece of fake evidence meant to mislead us. There's the blood we found on his right palm that could've indicated he coughed blood in his hands, and the bloody tissues we found show that he must've been coughing for a while, even longer than the events leading to his death."

"Yeah, and didn't Tengan say something about his health a few days ago?" Makoto recalled.

"I'm afraid I'll have to decline your offer, Naegi-kun. I'm feeling rather sore this moring and don't think I'll be any help to you young people, in my age, I'm not what I used to be."

"I remember that too!" Asahina gasped in recollection. "He said he wasn't feeling good and wanted Mitarai to come with us instead. I thought maybe it was because he was old or something."

"I thought the same thing too, but now I'm not too sure about that," Mitarai replied. "In the book Kirigiri-san and I found, it said that he was a retired veteran in the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, and even Munakata-san said he was a pretty ruthless fighter right before Naegi-san joined the Future Foundation."

"But what could've made him sick in the first place? That could also make him cough blood?" Asahina crossed her arms and started to think.

"It must've been the alprazolam!" Gekkogahara exclaimed. Makoto and Asahina looked to each other in unison, the former having all but forgotten about that drug in the heat of the moment. "Naegi-kun, Asahina-san, and myself visited Kimura-san's office during our investigation, and she told us that someone broke into her office and stole one of her medications—a drug called alprazolam."

The Ultimate Pharmacist in question hesitantly shook her head. "If Chairman Tengan digested alprazolam, there would be rather severe consequences, especially for a man of his age. The drug has very dangerous side effects—depression, memory loss, and in some cases even death. That could've killed him if he digested the drug in large quantities."

"Death?" Great Gozu gasped, "Why would Chairman Tengan take something that kills him?"

"Alprazolam isn't a drug that I'd regularly recommend, it's usually prescribed to treat things like anxiety or paranoia, but it's not always safe to use," Kimura explained, her glove hands were clenched with frustration. "I wish Chairman Tengan would have mentioned something like this ahead of time to everyone, that way I could've helped him."

"Why did Chairman Tengan drug himself?" Yukizome asked.

"I'm not too sure Tengan actually drugged himself, I think someone else did it," Mitarai answered. "Ever since the killing game started, he was determined to protect us all and get us out of this building, he changed the times of the clocks, and was even planning to commit a murder just to protect everyone. If he really took the alprazolam himself, then doesn't that contradict everything we learned in this case?"

"Yes, it seems more plausible that someone drugged him," Kirigiri concurred.

"What could've happened, did somebody put that stuff in his foot or something?" Asahina wondered.

Mitarai nervously looked to all thirteen of the remaining participants, he was now forced to accept the ugly truth of the trial, it was now clear as day who the killer of this case was the entire time, something that Makoto had now understood all too well himself.

If correct; the killer was the same person who drugged Chairman Tengan with the alprazolam to the point of fatally killing game, serving as an explanation for the bloody tissues under his bed and the stolen drugs found in Kimura's office.

This person would have been someone who managed to slip the drug into something that Tengan digested over the course of those three days without him even noticing, perhaps a food or drink?

Say, a person who spend the past three days regularly cooking breakfast for everyone without anyone being the wiser, and could have easily put the alprazolam in something they ate or drank without them, or anyone else for that matter, noticing.

It was time to choose a suspect.

"It's Yukizome-sensei."

That single sentence along proved capable of shifting the entire outcome of the trial, a sentence that changed the course of things and the perception that they all had. The first ones to react were Great Gozu and Sakakura, not even able to comprehend a accusation of his caliber, more surprisingly was Ando who even looked a little surprised herself.

Munakata, who remained silence for a good portion of the time, looked to have anger built up inside him, "What! What the hell are you even saying!? How could you even say a thing like that?"

"It's true, that's the truth of this case." Makoto placated, obviously not wanting to reveal the information.

"You've got a lot of fucking nerve saying something like that!" Sakakura followed suit with Munakata's responded, slamming his fist on the podium in rage. "First you accuse of Munakata of killing Tengan, and now you're gonna say Yukizome killed him too? How long can you go?"

"What...what are you talking about?" Yukizome backed away. "I didn't kill Chairman must've been someone else!"

"Chisa's the one who killed Chairman Tengan? But that's impossible! Chisa is one of the kindest people in the Future Foundation!" Great Gozu defended.

"I wish it was someone else too," sighed Mitarai, who tried to hold back some of his tears at the sheer thought of his teacher being a murderer. "All the evidence we found about the alprazolam points to you being the one who killed Chairman Tengan. But...why?"

Makoto didn't look as upset as Mitarai, but he was still clearly distraught about the turn of events. "I don't want to believe you're the killer. When we met, you were the first person in the Future Foundation that wasn't ready to have me arrested, you were so nice to me, you introduced me to everyone, we bonded together, and I even learned about your childhood. Was all that stuff a lie?"

"No! It wasn't me!" the brunette housekeeper adamantly denied.

"All the evidence found points directly to you," Kirigiri remarked. "You spend the past few days cooking and serving food for all fifteen participants in this building. It's not impossible to believe that you could have drugged the Chairman with the alprazolam without us knowing. If you didn't kill Tengan, then who did?"


"What? Yukizome how could you even say that?" Munakata gasped, with notable feeling of betrayal in his voice.

Mitarai blinked. "Munakata-san? Haven't we already ruled out him—"


"As Mitarai-kun was saying before he was interrupted. We've already well established the evidence showing Vice Chairman Munakata as the killer was all fake to deceive us," Kirigiri said. "It can't be Mitarai-kun either because he was the second person to discover the body, followed by Naegi-kun as the third, meaning you were the first."

"Can body discovery announcements actually be triggered by the killer themselves?" Kizakura randomly pondered, he jerked his head over to Monokuma's throne, "Hey Monokuma. Can the announcements be triggered by the killers?"

The two-toned bear was too busy eating his popcorn to even care about the trial anymore, he lazily sat straight on his throne. "Yeah...sure whatever. Alright bastards, new rule. The killer CAN trigger body discovery announcements, and they'll always be counted as the first person to witness the body."

"What?!" Yukizome shouted. "Monokuma just made up that rule on the spot! You don't actually believe I killed him?"

"I wanna believe in Yukizome-chama, but I think it's really her. I guess the trees drink upwards for the fall," Bandai sighed.

"And why is Chisa trying to pin the murder on Kyosuke?" Great Gozu gasped.

"Isn't it obvious?" Ando replied frankly. "Yukizome created all that fake evidence so that Munakata would be framed for murder. She's the Ultimate Housekeeper, so she's probably the only one who could've cleaned up the blood from when Tengan was stabbed."

"There's something I don't get. If Yukizome-san was trying to kill Munakata-san...then why did she drug Tengan instead?" Kimura pointed out.

Kirigiri looked to Mitarai, "Do you remember the book Kizakura-san gave us?"

The Ultimate Animator nodded, "Yeah. In the book I read, it said that Chairman Tengan was Hope's Peak Academy student like all of us were, and he graduated a long time ago. His talent was the Ultimate Lucky Student, he got it after winning a lottery."

"Huh, you mean that Tengan was the Ultimate Lucky Student, too?" Makoto exclaimed out loud.

"Yep, the book never lies." Kizakura snickered.

Kirigiri continued, now placing a finger on her chin. "I don't know how Chairman Tengan's luck work, and it's not as if we could ask him now. We can hypothesize that he relied on his luck to receive something that was actually meant for the Vice Chairman, and there's no denying that something was actually the alprazolam."

Mitarai thought back to a few days before when Yukizome served breakfast for everyone — a particular moment when the housekeeper was serving food to everyone and gave tea particularly to Tengan, which he happily agreed to at the time.

There was still a feeling of uneasiness that a person who spend three days feeding them was actually drugging someone with medication until they died. "In the end...that means Tengan must have relied on his own luck," he fully understood, "He was trying to protect us all."

"I can't believe's impossible," Munakata stood flabbergasted. "How could I have been...right?"

"Right, what're you talking about?" Asahina raised her eyebrows.

"Kyosuke...did you know that Chisa was the killer, this whole trial?" Great Gozu asked.

The silver haired man nodded soberly. "Not since the beginning, I learned just a little later. I stayed silent, because every part of me was hoping it wasn't the truth."

Mitarai looked to his teacher with concern, "Yukizome-sensei, please say something. Please, fight back, none of us want to believe that you're the killer."


The participants all instinctively looked to Monokuma to find the source of laughter, until they realize the bear had remained silent the entire time, and were even more surprised to find the real source of the laughter was even worse than they ever imagined.

"Upupupu...I've had my fun for now, it's time to end this facade. Did you really think the did you really think the story would end this suddenly?" the sadistic voice of a woman asked.

To the surprise of everyone, the courtroom was blindsided by smoke that covered the entire room and found themselves coughing and trying to clear the air. After a few minutes, the smoke cleared, flashes of red and black were could visibly be spotted through the cracks.

The figure stood tall with her hands pressed against her hips with pride—a Monokuma-themed scrunchie now kept her long hair together, and her plain white coat was traded in for an asymmetrical coat that was white and black on their respective sides.

"The true Ultimate Despair Housekeeper makes her entrance! I, Yukizome Chisa, the Mastermind of the Final Killing Game!"

Chapter Text

For what seemed to be an eternity — laughs of satisfaction and pleasure overwhelmed the whole room, and everyone met with expressions of shock and fear. "Upupupu! That was absolutely perfect! I haven't witnessed despair this great since I saw Enoshima-sama getting killed in the Hope's Peak Academy killing game broadcast!" Yukizome laughed psychotically, "I'm so happy to see you in despair, Kyosuke!"

"Hey! I've never given you permission to use my laugh. That's copyrighted circa 2010!" Monokuma growled in anger.

Above all, Munakata was the most surprised, not even able to comprehend what he was watching, his eyes simply could've believe what they had been seeing, "What is the meaning of this? And...did you just say 'Enoshima-sama'?"

"That's right! Back in the good old days, when I was a member of the Ultimate Despair!" Yukizome vigorously nodded her head in confirmation, she looked even more jumpy and excited as she remembered those events. "Around that time, it was simply me and my precious students against the world! We helped carry on the will of Enoshima Junko-sama and inflicting as much despair on the world as possible! We were like one big happy family!"

"Your family?" Mitarai nervously questioned.

"There's no need to play coy Mitarai-kun, you could've been one of them!" Yukizome looked fairly happy, but the abundance of despair could be seen simply through her eyes. The Ultimate Animator couldn't figure out what she meant by saying he was "one of them", so she signaled Monokuma to activate the jumbo-tron and proceeded to reveal an image that Mitarai couldn't believe.

A group of young people, fifteen to be exact, were displayed on the screen — all appeared differently than the others, yet sharing a common trait; their piercing red eyes. Sure, the dyed-pink braided hair in one image, the choppy purple hair in the other, and the blonde crew cut and baby face in the next could've just been mere coincidences; but the individual who had an androgynous face with frizzy white hair, and the stoic man with extremely long black hair were dead giveaways on who these people were.

The Remnants of Despair.

Mitarai's eyes moistened a little at the mere sight. "Those friends…"

"No way, I won't fucking believe this!" Sakakura's jaw dropped. "You were in league with the Remnants of Despair this entire time?"

"Again, yes! Techniqually, you could even call me the Ultimate Double Agent!" Yukizome playfully teased. "Sure, I still feel really bad about having to sell out my own precious students, and I wanted to have an Eneoshima-sama AI uploaded into my brain too, but I needed to keep up appearances."

"Now I'm confused. Does that mean the Remnants of Despair are behind this killing game or what?' Ando interrogated.

Yukizome lowered her head, feeling slightly disappointed. "I haven't heard from them since Naegi-kun found them, but the fifteen Remnants are definitely not helping me with this killing game."

"I wonder what those guys are doing right now," Monokuma recounted. "Man, I kinda miss those bastards...except for the guy that acted like Naegi-kun, he was pretty annoying. Maybe I'll make a Where Are They Now Show about them."

"Anyway," the Ultimate Housekeeper continued. "I'm not one who helped sneak Monokuma in the building, and I was the one who installed the bangles on everyone while you guys were asleep, just to prove it!" she gestured her arm to face everyone and pressed the first button on her bangle—which usually gave the forbidden action—and watched as nothing happened. "I don't have a forbidden action, and I never did. It's good that I lucked out and no one bothered to ask me what my forbidden action was, otherwise I'd be in big trouble."

"Why did you do try and drug Munakata?" Asahina asked.

"Because I wanted to witness the greatest amount of despair possible!" Yukizome explained with a smile. "I wanted to have him killed so I could feel the an unimaginable despair from killing someone's who's very important to me. But that backfired after Tengan used his own luck to digest the alprazolam, so I changed up my plan. I decided to pin Tengan's death on Munakata so I could feel the mother of all despair, not only watching Munakata be killed, but also you guys too."

"Is Chisa even really the mastermind?" Great Gozu wondered in confusion. "With all the fake evidence that was made to trick us into thinking Kyosuke was the killer, it's difficult to figure things out anymore."

"Wouldn't the mastermind be somebody from the outside, like, the person who threw that grenade that put us inside the building?" Kizakura made the first suggestion at the top of his head.

"Right. I had nearly forgotten about that, this killing game only started after someone dropped a sleeping gas grenade," Mitarai remembered. "But, who could've thrown it?"

Munakata took a moment to gather his thoughts, regaining his confidence, but still looking distraught. "Unless you can somehow prove that Yukizome was the person who threw the sleeping gas grenade. Which would be completely impossible, then we can't assume she's responsible for all of this."

"There's no need to grasp at straws, Kyosuke, everybody knows I did it!" Yukizome smiles.

He flinched upon hearing her say something so callous. He retrieved a photograph from his pocket — the same photo taken before the sleep gas was thrown. "I still have the picture taken before the killing game began," Munakata revealed, he showed off the picture to everyone, it showed Tengan stood closest to Great Gozu and Bandai, around the area where the grenade was dropped, and Yukizome who stood next to him in the middle of the room. "Have a look at this. Yukizome was standing in the center of the room, right next to me, unless you can prove that she dropped the grenade...then it's impossible."

Kirigiri wasn't phased a bit, smirking confidently. "It's not impossible, and as a matter of fact, we can prove it. There's a certain clue that we found during the investigation that can easily prove that Yukizome was the person who tossed that grenade. And Mitarai has the answer in his pocket. Do you still have it?"

Mitarai wasn't really sure what the Ultimate Detective was talking about initially, until he remembered the blueprint of the interior. He was far too focused on the outcome of the trial itself that he forgot about the diagram and believed it didn't really have a purpose in this case. "Yeah...I still have it," he reached in the pocket of his blazer and unfolded the big piece of paper.

"What's that?" Asahina reached over to see.

"It's a blueprint of the top floor of this building," Mitarai answered. "It shows all the traces located in the room and how they're closely connected to each other. I think what Kirigiri-san is trying to say is that it may serve a role in proving that Yukizome-sensei was the mastermind."

"How's that gonna prove she threw the grenade?" Sakakura narrowed his eyes.

"There's one way that Yukizome-sensei could've threw the grenade — the air purification device," Mitarai nervously said.

"Yeah, and that grenade could've come from the secret weapons room from behind the library." Makoto followed.

"I helped Kyosuke oversee production on this building, specifically once The Tragedy began," Great Gozu had started to remember. "The air purification device was connected to all the vents in the building to provide the Future Foundation with stable oxygen sources."

"Which means, Yukizome could've easily slid the grenade down the vents," Ando established. "And that's why it didn't land near her when it was dropped in the conference room."

"How could Yukizome-san drop the grenade through the vents? I don't think the air would be strong enough to carry the grenade." Kimura said.

Kirigiri shook her head. "On the contrary. If the air purification device was turned to a high enough setting, then it'd have no problem carrying items through the vents."

The Ultimate Animator took in the information he was given; fingers still ready at the paper he held. With green eyes scrolling across the paper he examined all the air vent locations featured on the diagram; the Ultimate Student Council President's office and library vents were connected — the food storage and the conference room were connected by vents as well — and the Human Resource's office and the lounge room were also connected too.

Mitarai gulped before he started talking, "I see. It is possible. The vents connected to the food storage and the conference room are very close together, they're a 90° angle away from each other."

"That means she could've just went to the food storage in the kitchen, and slid the grenade through the vents without anyone noticing." Makoto comprehended. "Hey Mitarai-kun, do you remember what Yukizome-san said when the building was under attack?"

Concurrently, the two boys recalled back to a few days earlier when the building was infiltrated.

"It must be the security alarm. Mitarai-kun, take Naegi-kun back to the conference room quickly. I'm gonna go see what's going on!"

"At the time I didn't really question things. I had just assumed that Yukizome-sensei was rushing to call an offshore branch for help. I had no idea that she was secretly going to the food storage to throw the grenade that started this killing game..." Mitarai clenched his teeth in regret. "Maybe if I just stopped her right then and there, Chairman Tengan wouldn't have been killed."

"Don't beat yourself up about it Mitarai-kun, it's not like you knew this was going to happen," Makoto assured him.

"Even so, there's still no proof that Yukizome started this game!" Munakata barked.

"No, they're right. I definitely did that." Yukizome responded with an unphased smile.

"Rather hypocritical of you Munakata." Izayoi deadpanned. "You were so insistent on vanquishing despair at all cost. But when someone you care about turns out to be despair itself, you're desperate to find a contradiction."

Kirigiri glared at the Ultimate Student Council President, already having lost patience for his refusal to admit the truth. "Vice Chairman, whether you chose to believe that Yukizome is the culprit for this case or not is your choice. But you should know that all the evidence is in plain sight, the killer outright admitted their crime, and no one else could have committed this murder. If you have any evidence to prove this otherwise, then by all means, please tell us."

"Okay!" Yukizome said in a singsong voice. "Time to play a game of What the Housekeeper Saw, and have a closing argument about everything that happened in this case! Mitarai-kun, would you care to do the honors?"

The blonde animator's eyebrows raised, looking rather hesitant, "But, why me?"

"Because you worked so hard to uncover the truth of this case," the housekeeper replied. "Why don't you think of this as your final assignment for Class 77-B?"

Mitarai agreed and took a deep breathe, he didn't exactly know where to start, "This case doesn't simply begin at the death, it predated back to an earlier event."

"When the building was infiltrated by Monokuma, the culprit turned up the air purification device to an extremely high setting. When the building was attacked, Naegi-san and I entered the conference room, and while this was happening the culprit actually rushed to the food storage in the kitchen and slid a sleeping gas grenade—from the secret weapons room—into the vents."

"The air vents were powerful enough to allow the grenade to make a 90 degree turn and travel into the conference room, unnoticed. The culprit rushed back to the conference room and acted innocent, the rest of us were unaware of what they had just done. Moments later, we all fell unconscious because of the sleeping gas and the killing game started."

"But, it wasn't over yet. After waking up, Monokuma presented us with the first motive of The Final Killing Game. The culprit gained the trust over us for the next three days by cooking for everyone, but they were secretly drugging Chairman Tengan with a drug called alprazolam."

"It was around this time that Chairman Tengan started to realize the culprit and the traitor were one in the same; he started to plan ways to kill them and prevent any killings. Tengan went to the weapons room that Kizakura-san discovered and took the chuusen in order to kill the traitor. He changed the times of the clocks to an hour later, tricking the killer into thinking it was 7:00 am. I'd imagine that around this time Tengan started to cough blood in his hands, and died of drug overdose."

"The culprit found his body and switched one of Munakata-san's antique katanas with a regular one. They used the katana on the already-dead Tengan, slitting his throat and impaling him in the chest to trick us into thinking that Munakata-san was the killer. The culprit never accounted for Munakata-san having a forbidden action that prevents him from holding a murder weapon, or that Tengan would cough blood into a woundless hand."

"I can't think of a single other person who could've done that...the traitor that Monokuma described and the person who killed Tengan...was you, Yukizome Chisa the Ultimate Housekeeper."

The participants stood in silence, at first Mitarai believed perhaps there was a flaw in his closing argument, he had never performed one in his life, but realized he was probably being too self deprecating when no one responded by correcting him.

He gulped, "That's the truth of this was was Yukizome-sensei."

"There's gotta be some kind of misunderstanding!" Sakakura refused to believe. "There's no way Yukizome did all this!"

Monokuma smiled, tilting his head. "Human beings never want to step outside their comfort zone. They're always so content to sticking to their own ideals and perceptions of life, and that's why they become so broken when something goes against their way of thinking."

"I still don't understand how this happened," Great Gozu dropped his head in defeat. "Chisa was a sweet, kind, and thoughtful woman. In the end, even she was converted to despair and even tried to get us all killed. could someone like Chisa have been converted over to despair?"

"Who cares? The details don't really matter," Yukizome nonchalantly shook off.

"And what about all the memories we shared at Hope's Peak Academy?" Munakata demanded. "You, Sakakura, and I were best friends during those years. We were inseparable, and remained together even after graduation, we all agreed to spread hope. Did the past not mean anything to you?"

"Yes, of course!" the Ultimate Housekeeper nodded. "But we shouldn't be dwelling too much on the past. Things change over time, the sorry state of the world is proof, and I'm the same! And instead of trying to return the world back to its original form, we should bring the world into a new direction."

"No...what...who the hell are you?" Sakakura stammered. "You're not the same Yukizome we knew!"

The two-toned bear happily raised a hand to the air. "Okay, Okay! Enough of this melodramatic crap! Alright, looks like you've reached a verdict! Then are we ready to cast our votes? You have a switch in front of you. Use it to make a selection! Who will be chosen as blackened? Will you make the right choice, or the dreadfully wrong one?"

He threateningly showed his claws to everyone. "And another thing...don't even think about refusing to vote! Otherwise I'm gonna eat your livers, with some fava beans and a nice chianti."

Putting those threats aside, it was evident that refusing to vote would very likely result in an injection of poison. Without any choice whatsoever, the thirteen participants all activated the switch on their podiums and placed their votes for who they believed was the killer. It seemed like a few—Sakakura and Kimura, notably—voted for someone else, with the remaining people voting for who everyone saw as clear as day to be the killer.

Many of the participants were in cold sweat at the results; a roulette spun around first a repeated amount of time until arriving to a half. They had only taken a turn for the worse when streamers fell from the ceiling and obnoxious congratulatory music played with the brown haired woman's picture all across the jumbo tron.


"Congratulations, bastards!" Monokuma laughed. "You voted correctly, the culprit to this case...was Yukizome Chisa!"

"So, it really was Yukizome-san?" Makoto muttered in disbelief.

Asahina was in complete shock, covering her hands with her mouth. "No...this can't be happening. Not again..."

"In the end, Yukizome-san—the person Vice Chairman cared for the most—was part of the Ultimate Despair," Kirigiri glared at the woman in question. "The very organization that he swore to vanquish."

"What's with the doom and gloom, guys? C'mon show me some hustle!" Yukizome cheered for everyone. "You all just uncovered the truth of the case. You found out that I was the person who killed Tengan, even though I was actually trying to kill Munakata. You should be a little more proud, or relieved."

Ando had already been fed up with the trial, but she seemed even more angry at her betrayal. "Your smiling is really pissing me off. You do realize you're about to be killed right?"

"I can't be killed." she replied, not even bothering to hide her smile. "I'm the mastermind silly, and therefore I cannot be killed. Besides, I still haven't plunged Munakata and the rest of the Future Foundation into the deepest despair possible! Despair into tomorrow! Despair into your memories! Despair into nothingness! Despair into—"

"Actually," Monokuma awkwardly chimed in. "I'm kinda gonna have to execute you's just if I left you survive, then I'd have to let everyone blackened survive."

"Oh yeah, I forgot about that." Yukizome sighed in bliss, not that she actually sounded too bothered.

In complete and total denial, Munakata whipped out one of his real katanas and readied it towards the two-toned bear. "No...I'm not gonna let things end like this! Even if Yukizome was the killer...and even if she was the mastermind behind all this...I can't let things end like this. I won't let you kill her! I'll kill you if I have to!"

At full speed the Ultimate Student Council President lunged for Monokuma with his katana dragging in tow. He wasn't even successful in laying a single scratch on him, and the two-toned bear leapt out the way and responded by retrieving a bazooka and pulling the trigger without any seconds thoughts. The rocket ascended out the weapon and impacted Munakata in his face before having a single moment to react. He fell to the wall and made a small dent in the area, with a large amount of blood leaking from his right eye.

Monokuma blew into his smoke from his bazooka. "That was pretty reckless of you, Munakata-kun. Any acts of violence against your Chairman are strictly forbidden, and if you went through with using the sword you would've set off your forbidden action too. You didn't even lay a scratch on me, so I'm just gonna let you off with a warning for now."

"M-Munakata!" Sakakura stuttered in shock, he rushed to his best friends' aid, Kimura and Great Gozu towed him front behind also concerned about him.

"Now then, I've prepared a very special punishment for Yukizome Chisa, the Ultimate Housekeeper!" Monokuma announced, now fully ignoring Munakata's previous actions and his injury.

Sakakura stopped in his tracks of helping Munakata and raced straight back over to the bear. "No wait! You can't fucking do this!"

"Ah well, guess it wasn't meant to be," Yukizome simply shrugged. Her head was raised high with a bright and shining smile appearing on her face. "Goodbye Sakakura-kun, Naegi-kun, Mitarai-kun, and Kyosuke. Let's meet again someday, okay?"

Munakata paid no attention to the blood dripping from his eye, picking himself off the ground and running as fast as he can to the aid of her. "YUUUKIZOMEEEEEEEEE!!!"

"Let's give it everything we got! It's...PUNISHMENT TIME!"

With his trusty gavel gripped in his paw, Monokuma sadistically, gleefully, and happily slammed down on the big red button. The bottom of the button displayed a pixelated video of the two-toned teddy bear literally dragging Yukizome Chisa to her death with a noose.




The Housekeeper looked to her fellow participants, they all gave her looks of disgust or concern, she kept her peppy smile through it all despite the visible cold sweat beaming down her face. Her green irises grew bigger when a metal black and white shackle arrived and tightly clutched on her neck, she squinted a bit over the pain and it felt harder to breathe. The shackle ascended to the air and proceed to drag her across the halls with the upmost brutality. Her body was carelessly dropped into another room as if she were a rag doll. Her surroundings were beautiful a victorian themed living room, with divine divine furniture, exquisite paintings, and alluring aesthetics—the place looked like any housekeepers dream.

Or, at least it would be if the victorian room wasn't just a crayon drawing. The children's drawing layed flat on the ground and exposed the real room. A dingy orphanage topped with ripped curtains, dirty furniture, trash all over the place, and rabid Monokuma robots that resembled children making a mess of things.


A broom was dropped into Yukizome's hand and the woman began cleaning the living room at a break neck pace. Monokuma—now dressed in a beekeeping suit—takes a metal bat and swings open a beehive. The group of bees start swarming around Yukizome and fly around different parts of her body, she endures the pain inflicted on her by every individual stinger and resumes her attempts to clean. Only for Monokuma to swing the bat again at a hill of fire ants, who follow in the bees actions and start to crawl up the arms, legs, and face of Yukizome and giving her painful bites.

Monokuma's smile grew even bigger and his eyes beadier. Now readying his bat for a third time, he swings endlessly at the habitats of the different bugs. His speed was incomprehensible and it was easy to miss how many bugs he swung at. There were more than possibly countable—wasps, beetles, termites, mosquitoes, hornets, and worst of all cockroaches.

Yukizome's endurance was incredible to say the least, but try as she might, was still only human and her strength gave out under the amount of insects that surrounded and ate at her entire body until she collapsed on the ground. All strength was lost and her body had been mutilated by the horde of insects that imprisoned her.

The now regular two-toned bear armed himself with a gigantic electrical fly swatter, painfully smacking Yukizome across the room with over 9,000 volts rummaging inside her body until she eventually tumbled to the ground repeatedly.

The good news was that all the bugs were electrocuted to death...that bad news? So was she.


All thirteen remaining participants of the game only watched helplessly; anger, sadness, shock, fear, horror—they were all the emotions that filled everyone.

The once beautiful, radiant, and smiling woman no longer excited. What remained was the mutilated mess of her corpse that could hardly be recognized to what it once was.

And just like was all over...Yukizome Chisa was dead.

"Yeah! Woohoo! That was extreme!" Monokuma laughed ruthlessly. "I've waited such a long time for that! Yukizome-san's medical insurance ain't gonna cover that!"

For seemingly a few minutes everyone stood frozen, they tried to attempt processing what they were just shown. No one spoke—mainly because there were no words to describe what they had just witnessed. Yukizome Chisa was a carefree, cheerful, and hard-working woman till the very end, and probably one of the few individuals that could still smile after The Tragedy. And for her to be a killer responsible for murdering their own Chairman was horrifying and unfathomable. That bitter feeling of distrust infected the air like a virus; the feeling that anyone in this room—even someone you trusted—could be a killer. Because in the end...despair is infectious.

Evidently, the students of the 78th Class felt defeated, all their efforts to stop another killing game meant nothing. Great Gozu was filled with remorse towards Tengan, his one job was to protect the elderly man at any cost and he failed, and hurt towards Yukizome who betrayed them all in the end. Sakakura had thousand yard stare, only one person died, but for him it seemed like a million—and there was no way things could be altered no matter how many times he slammed his fists into the wall. Kimura tried to review all of her medicines to try and map out the possible ways she could've saved the two deceased people, angrily on the verge of tears as she cursed herself for being unable to save anyone.

And then there was him...the love of his life, and his mentor, two people that he trusted with him life both tried to kill each other and were both taken from him in one fell swoop. It clearly ate at him from the inside because he didn't even care that an unhealthy amount of blood dripping from his right eye.

Mitarai was the first to finally talk, in a voice that sounded broken, "How could could you kill Yukizome-sensei like that!?"

"What's the matter, Mitarai-kun? I could've sworn you said something about uncovering the truth." Monokuma happily reminded him. "And why're you suddenly treating Yukizome-san like some kind of victim? She killed Tengan and tried to blame it on you bastards, she's was a bad guy, so no harm no foul."

"No! This...isn't what I wanted!" the Ultimate Animator yelled back. "That was terrible! Yukizome-sensei was my teacher and my friend! She didn't deserve one deserves something like that!"

"Sheesh, you've been hanging around Naegi-kun too much," Monokuma moaned.

"Enough of this!" Makoto exclaimed, his fists were clenched, and yet even he looked torn up over the recent death. "Monokuma, you have to keep your end of the bargain!"

"Bargin, what chu' talkin' bout Naegi?" the bear asked.

Kirigiri narrowed her eyes, with her arms tightly crossed. "I don't believe you've forgotten. When this game first began you mentioned that if the culprit was killed before the time limit than all participants would be free to leave the building and the killing game would end."

"Now then you mention it, that's right!" Ando recalled as well. "The mastermind is dead! Now get us out of this crazy building!"

" bastards are really gonna get a kick out of this. Yukizome-san wasn't the mastermind!" Monokuma announced, now laughing hysterically. "Never has, never was, never will be! You guys went and made the assumption she was the mastermind all by yourselves. Yukizome-san was nothing more than a pawn, an expendable toy if you will, she served her purpose and was thrown away like trash where she belongs."

"And in the end, you willingly killed your own friend?" Kimura trembled with fear.

"There's where you're dead wrong, I never willingly killed my friend. I willingly killed Yukizome-san, there's a clear difference," Monokuma said. "Yukizome-san was just cannon fodder to this entire killing game, and you guys all took the bait!"

"You mean...this killing game isn't over?" Great Gozu.

"Well, duh!" Monokuma said bluntly. "I wouldn't end the killing game after only one trial. Have you guys already forgot? I specifically said in the beginning—this killing game will end when there are only three people remaining. There's still enough of you bastards to make a soccer team."

A sinister laughter broke the silence.

The obligatory reaction for everyone was to look to Monokuma, but the bear hadn't said a word. And to an even great surprise, that laughter belonged to Munakata, who allowed the blood to leak from his eye. For some odd reason he couldn't stop laughing at the predicament, and with the now unshieved sword produced in his hands it became more prudent that he was furious and broken at what transpired.

Kimura rushed to his aid in concern. "Munakata-san, are you okay? Your injuries are severe, we need to treat them immediately."

His good eye didn't even pay her any attention. "Move out my way," he threatened coldly, Kimura listened, somewhat taken back by his attitude and the sharpness of his blade. "Monokuma, if you don't mind, I'd like a word with you. Right now."

"Upupupu...I wouldn't do that if I were you," the bear warned. "You got off lucky the first time, if you try to perform any more actions against me, then I'll just execute you as well."

"In the end, Yukizome—the person most closest to me—was against me from the start? I trusted her more than anyone in the world, in the end she was conspiring with the very group that I've sworn to vanquish. That means, anyone in this room could be in league with Ultimate Despair."

"Monokuma already explained things concisely since day one: if the mastermind is killed, then this game ends as well," Munakata looked to the katana grasped in his hands one final time and brutally chucked it at the wall, allowing it to break in half. "Then so be it. I'm beyond second guessing myself anymore—consider me a player to this killing game. If that's what it takes to vanquish despair, then I'll survive and annihilate anything...or anyone, who crosses my path."

He made one final gaze at the remaining participants, and finally Monokuma before getting on the elevator, paying no attention to his broken katana, a weapon that he appeared to no longer need anymore. "Even if one of you are standing in that path. I'll vanquish all despair and become...the true Ultimate Hope."

As the trial came to an end, Monokuma departed back to who-knows-where and left everyone with the awful feelings of what they saw. Two members of the Future Foundation had just died before everyone's eyes, and now the efforts to prevent a killing game were futile, because it had already started. Most people just returned back to their dorm rooms and stayed their for the rest of the evening, it seemed like the only safe place inside this building...inside this prison.

The cafeteria was empty and barren—after finding out Yukizome had secretly been poisoning Tengan for days, most people lost their appetite, and it only raised the question of exactly how much food did she put the alprazolam in.

No one even bothered with the secret door anymore — R06LLS — perhaps they were just a bunch of letters that weren't meant to make sense.

Upon leaving the trial room, Makoto had taken notice of the blinking lights on his bangle, something he ultimately forgot about. To his displeasure the bangles turned back on and revealed his forbidden action once more, just like Monokuma had promised. After everything that happened he tried to make light of the was just in his nature. The betrayal and death of Yukizome did seem similar to Maizono—he remembered how the pop sensation once betrayed him for her own purposes but made amends by writing a message before she died to save him—at least that's what he thought. Was there even any silver lining in this circumstance? He thought back to all the events leading up to Yukizome's murder.

Were they all lies?

He smacked both his cheeks with determination. Now definitely wasn't a good time to be discouraged, they still needed to find the mastermind responsible for all of this and escape this building together.

"What is it, Asahina-san?"

The Ultimate Swimmer nodded. "You gotta see, Gekkogahara-chan just found something. It's really important!"

He wasn't sure where this would escalate, however, he remembered it's not like he really had anything better to do while trapped inside this building. He agreed, and followed her into the women's dorm—it seemed a little strange since Asahina of all people would never live it down if she caught him wandering through these halls under normal circumstances, but surely this was an important occasion. The two came to a halt at the door and went inside to see the therapist in question typing away on her computer, and Kirigiri who'd been waiting for them.

Makoto looked confused. "Is something wrong?"

"Gekkogahara-san, you can show him now," Kirigiri told the therapist.

The blue haired girl nodded and turned on her screen, "I've continued attempting to access the functions on my computer and acquire help from any outside sources. I still haven't received any connections so far, but fortunately last night, someone contacted me instead from an offshore program, and not just any program—The Neo World Program," she seemed to have predicted his reaction of total shock.

"I found someone who would be a good help to us," Gekkogahara explained. With the simple press of a button on hey keyboard, the entire background was drenched in the color green, and an androgynous little boy with short brown, a green school uniform, and big green eyes. That aforementioned program developed a big and innocent smile on his face.

"Hello Naegi-kun, it's so good to see you!"

It was like a light at the end of the tunnel. "Alter Ego! What're you doing here?" Makoto gasped.

"I was in the process of recovering special observer data from another program, and that's when I received a message from Aunty Miaya," the artifical intelligence began to explain. "She and Kirigiri-san had told me about what happen in the situation you're all in. Naegi-kun was placed under arrest by the Future Foundation for acts of treason, Monokuma has returned and placed you guys into another mutual killing game, and so far the casualties have resulted in two deaths; Chairman Tengan Kazuo and Yukizome Chisa. Is that correct?"

Kirigiri nodded.

"I was able to dig into the Future Foundation's computer, and I discovered a little about this mutual killing game," Alter Ego informed.

"You mean... stuff like the Ultimate Despair?" Makoto wondered.

Alter Ego placed a finger on his chin. "Kinda. Well, to my knowledge, this killing game has no association with the Ultimate Despair or the Remnants of Despair whatsoever. It appears to be an entirely different group from both of them. The data I gathered was in a binary code, but it's called The New Revolution."

"The New...Revolution?" Asahina repeated.

The program nodded. "Yes, based on that information I gathered, that's what they're called. The New Revolution is said to be a militant terrorist organization started by traitors of the Future Foundation, who sought to start a rebellion. Their goal is to determine the outcome for The Biggest, Most Awful, Most Tragic Event in Human History, and put an end to it."

"Were you able to gather any other information?" Makoto asked. "Like who's the person behind this?"

Alter Ego dropped his head in sadness. "No, I'm sorry. I'm afraid that was all the information I could find. I wish I could help out more, but it appears to be the only information I could decode."

"No, that's quite alright, Alter Ego-kun." Kirigiri smiled. "Any information that gets us closer to uncovering the truth is welcomed."

"A group of traitors from the Future Foundation? And you guys didn't know about The New Revolution either?" Asahina asked, indicating her two friends.

"I haven't." Kirigiri said.

"Yeah, this is the first time hearing about it for me too," Makoto followed. "But this new information could help us find the perpetrator and get out this building without any more killings."

"That means, we might be a little closer to escaping this place!" Asahina clenched her fists in determination. "We should pass this information on to Mitarai as well. After everything that happened today, there's no doubting that he's definitely part of the team."

"I agree, and Mitarai-kun's probably the only person who still trusts us." Makoto followed. "But, where did we go? I haven't seen him since the trial ended."

"I think I saw Mitarai-kun go back to his room," Gekkogahara said, having already changed her screen back to Monomi, though looked rather worried. "He's been in there for hours now, I'm getting kinda worried about him. I'll go check up on him. Why don't regroup and discuss the other topics tomorrow?"

"Yeah, maybe it's better we do that, it's been a long day." Naegi said.

The three all agreed that it was better to carry out this discussion at a later date, everyone in this building wanted to escape as soon as possible, but at the moment things just didn't seem very practical, and many were still taking in the Tengan's murder, Yukizome's brutal execution, and the betrayal they all faced.

Gekkogahara opened the door and sighed with relief; the skittish Ultimate Animator was still in bed, he immediately tossed the blankets over his head at the sight of the blue-haired therapist. "Mitarai-kun, I came to check on you. We haven't heard from you in hours. Are you doing okay?"

"Can you please just leave me alone, Gekkogahara-san..."

The Ultimate Therapist looked at him with sadness and concern, through both herself and Monomi. From inside his blanket cocoon, Mitarai could hear the light tapping of her keyboard. "Mitarai-kun, I can't do that. I can't just ignore you, we're friends, so of course I'm gonna be worried about you. And not just me either, Naegi-kun, Asahina-san, and Kirigiri-san, we're all your friends."

"No...that's wrong. We're not friends, and I don't deserve to be friends with you guys," Mitarai choked back on some of his tears. "I'm sorry, this is all my fault. It's because of me that Chairman Tengan and Yukizome-sensei were killed. I didn't have the confidence to save them and I wasn't able to prevent the killings because I was too much of a dirty coward to do anything."

"Mitarai-kun, don't you ever talk like that!" Gekkogahara proclaimed. His hazel eyes took a peak from the blankets and saw that Monomi was making a serious expression, a rare sight to be seen from the regularly cartoon rabbit. "You shouldn't be blaming yourself for the outcome of the trial. All the stuff that happened is Monokuma's fault, not yours."

"I thought revealing the murder would end the killing game," Mitarai lamented. He finally allowed his overflown tears to fall down to his face and his hands gave out and dropped the blanket which covered his head. "But, in the end it's always the same thing. I want to help others, but I only seem to make things worse. Why can I save anyone? Why can't I be like...Naegi-san?"

Gekkogahara moved her wheelchair a little closer to the animator, she looked at him sympathetically. "Because it's impossible. You're not Naegi-kun, you can only be yourself," her face softened and she lowered her scarf to reveal a sincere smile. "Have you already forgotten? You were the one who uncovered the truth and proved that Yukizome was the culprit. If it wasn't for you, we'd have all been killed by now."

"But...none of this would have happen if I—" Mitarai muttered, attempting to find ways to place the blame on himself.

Gekkogahara gently lifted up the blankets to see Mitarai's tear soaked face. She knew that in these types of situations it was common to dry a person's tears with a handkerchief, which she didn't have on her, so improvised with her red scarf. "You shouldn't strive to be like Naegi-kun or anyone else, because you're a pretty great person too, Mitarai-kun."

Mitarai loosened up a bit, and a smile developed on his face, "Thank you...Gekkogahara-san."

"Hey, I've got an idea! We're both friends now, right? So, I wanna make a proposal with you," she smiled eagerly, with Monomi mimicking her actions. "You don't have much confidence in yourself, and you beat yourself up a lot, and even consider yourself a burden to others. If I may, I'd like to know a little more about you. From here on out, I'm gonna be your therapist, no charge."

"Therapist?" Mitarai blinked.

Gekkogahara nodded. "Right. What do you think? Everyday before bed, the two of us will have one-on-one sessions together. Why don't we start the first session tomorrow night at 10pm?"

"I don't know," Mitarai answered hesitantly. "I'm not sure if I could even make a promise like that. I mean, with the situation we're in any of us could be a victim to Monokuma's game. And what if one of us didn't make it out alive?"

"You're right." Gekkogahara nodded. "But that's definitely not gonna happen. I promise that neither of us will die in this building. The two of us, Naegi-kun, Asahina-san, Kirigiri-san, and everyone else are gonna escape this building and put an end to what Monokuma started. What do you say, Mitarai-kun, do you agree to my proposal?"

Mitarai, no—Ryota smiled and nodded before shaking Gekkogahara's hand, "Yes", he replied with a bit more confidence in his tone.


Chapter Text

Yukizome Theater

"Awww darn, I died. Well, so much for being the big successor to Enoshima-sama like I was planning. What a shame. I was almost about to taste the sweet feeling of despair, I guess I probably should've done a better job at covering my tracks."

"Oh well! A girl can dream, I suppose!"

"That probably means Monokuma's gonna move The Final Killing Game in a new direction that I would've never guessed."

"I'm excited!"

"And I'm so proud of Mitarai-kun, he's finally become a protagonist!"

"Ahem...ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please! Your adorable Chairman has an announcement to make! Good morning, everyone! You bastards did quite the bang up job surviving your first trial, so head down to the cafeteria for a special surprise!"

A special surprise? That prove enough for Ryota to immediately wake from his groggy slumber, to his own dismay. After the disastrous excursion of which only happened yesterday, he mostly just wanted to stay in bed all day, as it was an easy way to escape everything, and felt surprised than he received any sleep at all last night.

The images of the two deaths that happened were ingrained in his mind; the unsettling and heavily wounded body of Chairman Tengan pressed against the wall, or the brutally mutilated corpse of Yukizome lying lifelessly on the ground. Those two deaths left a clear mental scar on him that he struggled to erase from his mind.

A huge part of him still couldn't help but think all of this was his fault, he was desperately clutching at straws trying to map out how this trial was somehow his fault, though he kept remembering what Gekkogahara told him yesterday; if he hadn't exposed Yukizome as the killer, then everyone would've died, regardless it didn't make him feel any better than his former teacher was sacrificed and everyone else has to move forward with that knowledge.

It wasn't like there was too much he could do right now, any type of rebellion against Monokuma would present him with an automatic injection of poison, or even possibly setting off their forbidden action, something he really didn't want to take any chances with.

Ryota specifically remembered hearing some of the others forbidden action before — he knew Naegi wasn't able to run in the halls, or Munakata couldn't use a murder weapon — those forbidden actions actually felt relevant to the killing game, meanwhile Ryota still struggled to figure out what his forbidden action actually meant.

"Using Your Talent"

He didn't have the foggiest clue on how his talent could even benefit in this killing game. Being the Ultimate Animator, he assumed his talent was the most useless in the Future Foundation, since it couldn't even relate to the specialty of his own division.

There wasn't much to do being cooped up inside a hollow dormitory all day, and there was also that surprise that Monokuma promised everyone in his morning announcement, so Ryota finally trudged himself out of bed. He spent an extra long period of time getting ready in the bathroom, if only because it's the only area without surveillance cameras watching his every movement. He hadn't payed much attention to his dirty blonde hair, though if he looked in the mirror he would've observed a particular feature of his hair that was far different from yesterday.

A single strand of hair remained sticking out the top of his head — it resembled an antenna, or maybe a cowlick?

When Ryota arrived in the cafeteria, part of him all but expected to be welcomed by the radiance of Yukizome and her delicious delicacies tiddly presented across the tables, quickly having to remind himself that she was long dead, it was probably for the best anyway, the fact that his teacher spent days secretly putting lethal drugs in Chairman Tengan's food until he died made him feel too queasy to even think about food.

It seemed that the other participants didn't have the luxury of eating that delicious she cooked for them either, fortunately they mostly sufficed with some other alternatives, which seemed to consist mostly of cup ramen and instant tea.

Asahina was the first to react, even giving herself a sigh of relief. "Mitarai, you're finally awake! We started getting worried about you!"

"Good morning, sunshine!" Kizakura teased, giving the timid animator a two-fingered salute.

"I knew that he'd wake up eventually!" Bandai followed, a big toothy grin developed across his face. "I guess the wind chime eats furthest away from the pine tree!"

Just like the others, Naegi appeared to be contented and relieved to see him as well, Ryota never ceased to find it flattering, albeit, surprised that anyone would be concerned about him to begin with. "Mitarai-kun, how're you doing? We didn't hear from you at all last night, and you came in pretty late."

"Yeah, I'm fine," Ryota answered calmly. Truth be told, the Ultimate Animator was practically anything but fine after everything that happened yesterday. He was a little more surprised to see that Naegi could retain even a shed of optimism through it all, then again, he wasn't called the Ultimate Hope for nothing.

"Now that Mitarai-san is finally here, that means just about everyone is present, right?" Kimura asked, taking a moment to glance around the other occupied tables.

"Not everyone is present," Kirigiri responded calmly, putting an index finger to her chin in a pondering fashion. "The only person who still hasn't arrived yet is Vice Chairman Munakata, and we haven't heard from him since the ending of the first trial."

"Well, I'd put my money on, he's probably trying to come to terms with the deaths of Tengan and Yukizome-chan," Kizakura suggested. "We certainly can't doubt that yesterday was one heck of a fiasco for the poor guy, losing his eye doesn't really help either."

"I bet he's back in the dormitory," Bandai guessed. "Maybe we should go and check on him?"

"If Munakata-san's still upset about Yukizome-san's death and betrayal, then shouldn't we be helping him right now?" Kimura asked. "There are some antidepressants in my office that could remedy the situation. If he's depressed then citalopram will help, though for anything drastic I can prescribe him a sertraline—"

"We don't need any more of your souped up medicines!" moaned Ando, "That's what got Tengan killed in the first place."

"Perhaps it's better to give Kyosuke some space, after everything we witnessed yesterday, maybe he just needs some time to be alone," Great Gozu acknowledged, and placed a hand to his heart out of respect for the man. "That said, I believe in our Vice Chairman and I have the utmost hope that everything will turn out okay."

"How the fuck did this happen?" Sakakura cursed, he'd been reasonably quiet for the past few minutes with Ryota almost forgetting he was present in the room altogether. "How could someone like Yukizome of all people have been a traitor, she was the single nicest person I had ever met, and in the end, she even wanted Munakata dead."

"The fact that Yukizome was the least susceptible person for betrayal makes her even more suspicious," Ando commented.

"Does that mean you guys will finally believe us, that Naegi isn't the traitor?" Asahina asked.

Kimura gave the Ultimate Swimmer a look of contemplation, before her eyes eventually loosened up. "I had my suspicions at first, but now I'm not too sure if Naegi-san would actually be the traitor that Monokuma was talking about."

"Naegi may be the Ultimate Hope, but harboring the Remnants of Despair in a computer simulation and still finding the time to establish an elaborate killing game does seem a little far fetched," Kizakura said.

"Well, I'm still not convinced. If Yukizome really wasn't the mastermind, then we're back to Naegi being the most susceptible person?" Sakakura snarled.

Ryota felt grateful, with some of his fellow division heads finally seeing eye-to-eye with Naegi, at least one good thing came out of participating in that awful trial, though he could tell that others like Sakakura, Ando, and Izayoi were seeming to budge and were clearly still distrustful. "Wouldn't that also mean that everyone in this room is equally as guilty as Naegi-san?" the Ultimate Animator asked, "I mean, if Monokuma really is an independent robot, then there must be someone monitoring the game, right?"

"You called?"

As usual, the aforesaid teddy bear popped out of nowhere and presented himself to everyone on the table. "Well, now! Well, now! Well, now! Seems like all of you bastards are gathered—for the most part—I can finally give my precious employees a round of applause for not cracking under the first motive!"

"Why are you here?" Kimura growled, her fingers were ready on her bag, presumably reaching for a drug that could help her, but fidgeted in fear of being injected with poison.

"After what you did yesterday, you've got a lot of nerve showing your face to everyone, jackass!" Great Gozu exclaimed.

"You're lucky we're restricted by these dumb bangles, or else I would've sent Yoi-chan to dismantle by now!" Ando hissed, with the Ultimate Blacksmith already pulling a set of shurikens out of his coat.

"Just get the hell out of here already," Sakakura scoffed. "Haven't we gotten enough of you already?"

Monokuma sadly dropped his head to the ground, "Aww, it looks like I'm being hated again. I guess now you guys don't wanna hear my super special announcement?"

"Announcement? What're you talking about?" Asahina asked.

"Upupupu...well since you asked, then I'll have no choice but to show you!" Monokuma giggled, immediately bringing forth a disembodied monochromatic stuffed paw that looked exactly like his own. "I present you bastards with...the Kuma's Paw!"

"The Kuma's Paw?" Great Gozu questioned.

"'What's that supposed to mean?" Kimura followed in the same thought process.

"Anyone that equips themselves with the legendary Kuma's Paw is granted the power of making three wishes!" Monokuma explained. "But, these wishes get despairingly worse each time!"

That final part effectively made the other participants feel angry, especially Ryota, they knew that Monokuma was only trying to provoke them, and they found completely powerless in regard to that situation.

"Enough with the bullshit!" Sakakura argued, "Why did you really come down here?"

"Alright! Alright! Sheesh!" Monokuma moaned, carelessly tossing the Kuma's Paw to the ground before carrying on. "Anywho, since you all did a great job uncovering the truth of who killed Tengan, I took the liberty of allowing you bastards to explore the new world!"

'"The new world?" Naegi repeated.

"What are you talking about?" Kimura followed.

"You're referring to unlocking the lower floors for us to explore, right?" Kirigiri asked, though it seemed as if she already knew the answer and simply wanted to hear it from the bear himself.

"Yep, that's absolutely correct, Kirigiri-san!" Monokuma vigorously nodded. "You bastards didn't honestly think I was gonna restrict you to a single floor for the entirety of the game? Just imagine how boring it would be if you guys were doing the same thing for the whole game?"

"If you unlocked another floor, then does that mean there are other secrets that await us down there?" Great Gozu asked.

"Upupupu...a magician never a magician never reveals his secrets, if you bastards wanna find out what's awaiting you on the next floor, then you'll just have to see for yourself!" the teddy bear laughed. "Please, make your way to the elevators in the halls to depart to the second floor."

Before anyone had the chance to say anything, Monokuma made his exit, keeping up with his trend of giving away vital information only to subsequently leave before giving away any concrete answers. At that moment, breakfast wasn't completely forgotten about, and the twelve participants cast their sights on the elevator in the halls, which would presumably lead them to a new area in their communal life.

Ryota was about to step out of the cafeteria to join the others, before he was stopped by Gekkogahara who passed by him with her bulky wheelchair and computer. If her over eccentric Monomi avatar weren't enough to display her cheerfulness, then her icy blue eyes that raised slightly was a prime indication , quite ironic for someone often described as being too shy to even speak.

"Good morning, Mitarai-kun. I didn't have a chance to speak with you this morning, how're you doing?" she asked.

As a result of all the commotion caused with the debate over who the mastermind could be and Monokuma revealing a new floor being available, Ryota had almost forgot that he established a friendship with Gekkogahara yesterday, and would be having a therapy session later tonight.

The previous night proved itself very hectic for Ryota who straightaway tossed the blankets over his head to come to terms with the death of Chairman Tengan and Yukizome right after Gekkogahara left the room. Trying to move on with those two deaths and somehow managing to carry them with him were both equally difficult for Ryota, who found himself envying Naegi for somehow staying optimistic through everything.

Although that may have been true, Ryota knew one thing for sure, even if he was afraid of what's to come, he just could let the two deaths that happened be in vain.

The Ultimate Animator realized that he'd been keeping Gekkogahara waiting and gave her a nod of confirmation. "Yeah, I'm doing okay. I never had the chance to thank you about yesterday, I'm not really sure what I would've done if you didn't come talk to me."

Her expression was hard to read with the big red scarf covering a large quantity of her face, though she looked very flattered by Ryota's appreciation and exhibited that through a smiling Monomi who spread her arms out, "Sure thing! I'm a therapist, so it's kinda my job to help people."

While the Ultimate Animator still felt astonished that Gekkogahara was taking a chance on someone like him, he obliged and followed her and the rest of his fellow division leaders into the elevator just as Monokuma instructed. Like yesterday, the remaining buttons were still out of order and only one new button was now available, taking them to whichever subsequent floor was below them.

As the elevator shaft descended onto the lower floor, Ryota found himself thinking about what would be awaiting them this time. Perhaps an escape route, or maybe an internet connection from the outside world, or better yet the elite task force coming to their rescue. No, who was he kidding? There's no way a stroke of luck like that would ever hit them.

After the doors opened up, the twelve participants were greeted by the always unwelcoming sight of at least a dozen surveillance cameras and monitors, and windows that were already blocked off with iron plates, which instantly killed the idea of anyone coming to rescue them on this floor.

"It seems like it's been a while since we've been on a lower floor, since Makoto's trial started if I remember correctly," Great Gozu recalled.

"What difference does it make?" Sakakura replied coarsely. "Monokuma can open up every floor on this building, but it's not going to change the fact that we're trapped here like rats. He said it himself."

"We can't change what's already happened," Kirigiri reminded the two. "For now, it's best to focus on uncovering what's been made available for us."

"A groundhog doesn't just walk ravine," Bandai remarked. "Maybe there's something that will help us find a way to escape the building."

"Not to sound like a downer or anything, but somehow I doubt that Monokuma would make this any easy for us," Kizakura admitted, his finger pointed to the abundant cameras that confined them on every part of the room. "There's cameras everywhere, Monokuma's watching us like a hawk."

"The fact that Yukizome was exposed so early in the game means Monokuma might keep a tighter leash under us all," Ando said.

"Either way, anything we discover should help us get closer to uncovering the truth," Naegi determinately stated.

With much ground to cover on this new floor, Ryota found it increasingly difficult navigate in an area that he didn't have any prior knowledge of beforehand, and with the other participants going their separate ways for investigating he was completely lost on where he should be going next.

At least until he was approached by Gekkogahara, who took observation on how the Ultimate Animator had been spacing out for a long period of time. "Mitarai-kun, are you coming? I thought we were going to investigation." she asked, her curiosity was expressed by Monomi tilting her head.

"Hey Gekkogahara-san, do you mind if I ask you something?" the Ultimate Animator questioned, "There's something I've been thinking about all day."

"Yeah, what's on your mind?" the blue haired therapist asked.

"How come you've been so interested in me? No one's ever really taken an interest in someone like me before," the blonde haired animator replied.

"Hmm. That's a good question, I never really gave it much thought," Gekkogahara answered dumbfound, making Ryota feel a little disappointed due to his anticipation. "I guess, it's because you remind me of how I used to be before I became a therapist, and when the two of us talked last night, I had this strange intuition, almost like us becoming friends was fateful encounter."

A fateful encounter? Ryota had his suspicions on whether or not that could actually be true, he wasn't exactly the biggest fan of fateful encounters, especially if they resulted in causing despair. Regardless of what he'd been thinking, Ryota decided to stop being so pessimistic and decided to follow the Ultimate Therapist throughout the halls, mostly due to his lack of knowledge of anything on this floor.

Their first destination was perceptibly one that Gekkogahara was the most anxious about since she didn't waste a single moment rushing to the room located at the far end of the hall, even further than elevator itself. While passing by, Ryota shot a quick glance over to what seemed to be Sakakura's office, wondering if this is was Gekkogahara was referring to, however, the Ultimate Boxer angrily blocking the entrance to his office made things clear this wasn't where they were headed.

Upon stepping into the new room, Ryota was instantaneously greeted by alluring scent of lavender candles and an incredibly soft carpet, a room of which the likes he'd never been in up until now. Only a few seconds into being in this and he already felt more composed than ever before, almost as if the Tragedy never happened.

He looked over to Gekkogahara's computer, seeing Monomi clasp her paws together and relinquished a sigh of relief. "Thank goodness, I was hoping that Monokuma wouldn't have vandalized this place when he took over."

"Is this your office?" Ryota guessed.

The blue-haired therapist nodded. "Yeah, this place is usually where I'm overseeing production in the Future Foundation's cyber security, though it also alternates as a therapist's office where I meet with clients that are in need."

After giving the room another inspection, Ryota realized that it did bear a striking resemblance to an actual therapist's office, from the visually soft-looking couch, to the coffee table with many children's books and dvd's, and the window which he assumed would've displayed a beautiful view, had it not been sealed off with iron plates.

The two decided to put off the investigation of Gekkogahara's office, nevertheless the Ultimate Therapist was still concerned about her office and that Monokuma was somehow find a way to access her computers or potentially find a way to put any of their efforts to escaping at stake.

Compared to the previous room, the next room visited was far more lively with Bandai and Kizakura already present, and the atmosphere was visually more bright and dynamic.

Among many things, what really attracted the attention of Ryota was vintage pool table that appeared in the middle of the room, the dart board that didn't look like it'd been touched in a long time, and the shelves cluttered with an abundance of board games and cards that weren't very recognizable.

Admittedly, the Ultimate Animator double-checked his inspector on the room purely out of his own contained excitement and clear understanding of what this room was. "This is a game room isn't? I never thought that something like this would be in the Future Foundation Headquarters."

"Yes, sir. This is the official game room added in at the request of yours truly," Kizakura explained in his usual laid-back manner. "It's usually the place where Future Foundation members unwind and take the time to recharge their batteries."

Gekkogahara frown upon looking at the surveillance cameras that watched over them to the point of suffocation. "It's a shame, this place wouldn't make a very good break room anymore because of the killing game, there's so many cameras that I'd be hard to unwind down."

"I agree with that," Ryota followed. "It seems like it's been a while since we've been trapped inside of this building, it feels like we haven't seen the seen the outside world in so long. I wonder why none has come to our rescue yet."

"I have an idea!" Bandai exclaimed, directing the others to a small game center in the corner of the room that had an old television that was hooked up to a Nantendo Famicom video game console, Ryota wasn't really sure were the Ultimate Farmer was going with that at first. "We can use the TV to figure out what's happening outside. It's a rainbow away from the mountains, so maybe we'll have a good chance of finding out what happened."

"Would that work?" Ryota asked, he specifically turned to Gekkogahara for the answer because of her knowledge with technology.

It barely took a second for Gekkogahara to solemnly break the news to them. "Sorry guys, but I don't think that'll be possible. This TV is rather old and doesn't seem to have any functioning cable either, Monokuma must have removed it before unlocking this floor."

"I thought so," Ryota sighed aloud. Of course, just when he believed a ray of hope was coming and they could potentially be getting closer to leaving this place, Monokuma had to come and make things even more difficult for them.

That fact that Monokuma had been really going out of his way to make sure they were kept imprisoned in their own headquarters was very bewildering to Ryota. All thirteen participants already knew about the Tragedy and had a vast knowledge of it, so there was nothing hide by keeping their outside surroundings a mystery. What was Monokuma's gain in all this?

Despite the game room looking like a great place to relax and kill time, Ryota didn't necessarily feel that now would be a good time to be playing any kind of games while they're all in the midst of a mutual killing game and decided to part ways with Kizakura and Bandai.

Ryota and Gekkogahara's next destination was a basketball court, a room that he never truly imagined would exist in a place like Future Foundation Headquarters, then again, he remembered this used to be an overseas branch for Hope's Peak a little before the Tragedy started, and guessed this was possibly a remnant of that former school.

Upon opening the doors, Ryota was already hit with a wave of bad memories that plagued his childhood after being bullied multiple times by his own classmates, with the basketball hoop and empty bleachers doing nothing to make things better.

The two were welcomed by the company of both Asahina and Great Gozu, who were already busy doing an investigation of their own. "Hey Mitarai, Gekkogahara-chan. What do you guys think of this place, pretty cool, right?" the Ultimate Swimmer rushed over to the two and gave them a grin, in a much cheerful mood than usual.

"It's amazing, I can't believe a basketball court is in our headquarters," Ryota replied in surprise.

"When I was overseeing the production on this building a few years ago, I personally asked Kyosuke if I could add this into the overseas branch for Hope's Peak Academy," Great Gozu explained, as he stepped forward as well.

"Perhaps it's best that we had never gotten rid of this place once it was reestablished as the headquarters for Future Foundation," Gekkogahara added. "In these types of situations, exercise does wonders on the body and can help reduce stress."

Even though Ryota knew exercise did help manage stress, that was something he never gave much thought during his long days and nights endlessly working on his animation. He's never been the most physically fit and was never very good at sports, a far cry from the Ultimate Gymnast or Ultimate Team Manager, so he never really bothered giving it that much thought.

In spite of that, Ryota couldn't help but feel happy and envious for Great Gozu and Asahina, even after the two casualties they faced they were still able to move forward and even continue contentedly going on with their passions.

The following room they explored was the Ultimate Housekeeper's office, a place that made Ryota feel so unbelievably nervous that he practically struggled to even turn the knob of the door in fear of what could be on the other side. Being the double agent of the Future Foundation, he could only imagine what terror could await them on the other side, or what she may have been hiding in this room.

Of course, for all they knew this entire room could've been booby trapped, or maybe there was a secret entrance they didn't know about inside this room.

To his surprise, it looked just like a regular office room, nothing out of the ordinary, except maybe the small kitchen, the abundance of cleaning supplies stacked in the open closet, and the photographs of Yukizome during her time at Hope's Peak Academy spread across the walls. Maybe there was a gas leak in the oven? Or perhaps the cleaning supplies were riddled with toxic chemicals? Then again, Ryota felt he was probably being a little too cautious.

"Hm. This is Yukizome-sensei's office?" Ryota blinked.

Gekkogahara followed suit with a subtle nod, and started to type on her keyboard. "Yeah, I was kinda thinking the same thing. I would've thought that Yukizome-san would make some alterations to her office, but it looks more average than I was expecting."

Out of nothing but sheer curiosity, the Ultimate Animator inspected the desk of his deceased teacher, a small part of him had been hoping to find some kind of clue that would help them uncover a big secret to the killing game, inevitably setting himself up for disappointment when he saw that nothing explicitly out of the ordinary was on the table, as that probably would've made things far too easy.

Above all else, the only aspect that really stood out about her desk were the many books spread across, "Playing Guitar for Beginners" — "Knots and How to Tie Them" — "The Art of Stealth", a whole plethora of random how to guides.

Those books left Ryota with more questions than answers. Why would Yukizome have so many books like these? Was she really content on being prepared for every possible outcome?

Before given the chance of making comments about the office, Ryota was stopping in his tracks upon hearing a much familiar voice, "It seems that one of you have finally arrived here."

It was Munakata. In hindsight, it made a lot of sense that he would be the first one to visit this place. Ryota cringed a little at his less than presentable appearance, having been so focused on the two deaths that transpired that he nearly forgot about what happened to him. The man's once neat and refined white hair was visibly messy and unkempt, bags under his eyes that indicated he likely didn't get much sleep last night, if any, and worst of all, the bandages that covered his right-eye.

He stared blankly, "You two weren't the visitors I'd been expecting."

Expecting? The could only mean one thing.

"Are you talking about Naegi-san and the others?" Ryota guessed.


The coldness of his response only made Gekkogahara even more concerned about him than before. "Munakata-san, we never had a chance to talk about yesterday. How are you feeling? I know what happened is a lot to take in, especially after a short period of time, are you still okay after what happened or do you—"

"Not another word," the Ultimate Student Council President menacingly interrupted. "What happened yesterday cannot be changed, and I have no intention of doing so, there's nothing to gain by dwelling on the past. That's not a problem, I suppose, mistakes can be learned from and help find a resolve of things. I'm going to work even harder to spread hope and destroy all traces of despair, no matter what."

Ryota felt pretty nervous, he remembered clearly what Munakata last said yesterday. "That means, what you said was true? You're really considering yourself a player to Monokuma's game and will abide to his rules?"

Munakata nodded. "Yes, my plan can't be achieved with some collateral damage, that much is obvious. I didn't get any sleep last night, but that gave me plenty of time to reflect on things, and all remaining participants of this game, including you Mitarai. You were formerly classmates with the Remnants of Despair. By that logic, how do we know you're not just a double agent? If we can rule out Naegi had anything to do with this game, wouldn't you be the next contender?"

"That can't be right," chimed in Gekkogahara, with Monomi raising her hands out of defense. "We already ruled out the Remnants of Despair having anything to do with this killing game, and yesterday there's something else I learned. The ones who trapped us inside this building are apparently a group called The New Revolution."


And once again, like always, Monokuma appeared right out of nowhere, something that Ryota still struggled to get used to, with the bear already frustrated by the turn of events. "No! The New Revolution is classified information that you bastards aren't supposed to know about yet, it's top secret!"

Though that anger was fairly short lived, the bear eased up and simply shrugged his shoulders after that. "Oh well! Guess that lightens my load for a while! But, I wasn't expecting you guys to learn about that until Chapter 6."

"A group known as The New Revolution?" Munakata repeated in confusion. "I don't believe I've ever heard a name like that before, and you're saying they're the ones behind this killing game, and not the Remnants of Despair?"

" that you mention it, I've never heard that name before either," Ryota followed, he continued to mentally reassure himself that his old classmates indeed had nothing to do with this killing game, although part of him still felt nervous about it.

"I guess since the cat's finally out of the bag, then I'll have no choice but to spill that information," Monokuma sighed. "Yep, you're right on the money. The New Revolution is an organization made up of Future Foundation traitors behind this whole killing game."

That small hint immediately sparked Ryota's interest, he figured that Monokuma would probably never actually drop such a bombshell without some kind of ulterior motive behind it, and if it were anything like his motive, then it wouldn't entail anything good.

"You mean, there's another person among us that's a traitor?" the Ultimate Animator asked, personally hoping with every part of him it wasn't true.

"Right-A-Rooney! Somebody else in your group's still helping me out with the killing game!" Monokuma giggled, "But unlike Yukizome-san, this person wasn't dumb enough to blow their cover early in the game."

"Don't you ever say that name again!" Munakata furiously hissed, his hands were hovering over an invisible scabbard, having already forgotten that he disposed of his katana, he compensated by giving the two-toned bear a death stare.

"Aww, I'm sorry. Did I strike a nerve? In that case…" Monokuma giggled sarcastically, he proceeded to take a deep breathe and said, "YUKIZOMEYUKIZOMEYUKIZOMEYUKIZOMEYUKIZOMEYUKIZOME!"

"Shut up!" the Ultimate Student Council President barked, that was the first time Ryota had ever heard the usually composed man break away from his aloofness. "Is there any reason you're here, or did you just come to tell us about The New Revolution?"

" a matter of fact, there is!" Monokuma giggled. "If you guys think you're gonna find any big secrets that'll jeopardize the fate of this killing game, then you've sadly mistaken!"

Monomi's ears twitched, clearly anticipating some very bad news. "What secrets? What're you talking about?" Gekkogahara dared herself to ask.

"This floor is completely plot-twist free! No secret entrances, no hidden rooms, and no breaking the status quo!" the bear cheerfully announced. "If you bastards wanna learn the truth behind this game, then you're just gonna have to commit ten murders and walk out when only three of you are still alive! Otherwise, no dise."

"You mean, there won't be any clues on how we can escape this place?" Ryota asked.

"Yep! I couldn't make things too easy for you bastards, now could I?" Monokuma taunted. "Besides, I don't wanna repeat another R06LLS-fiasco where one of you bastards write that graffiti on my precious door!"

"Graffiti?" Gekkogahara's eyes widened a little. "What're you talking about, you didn't write R06LLS on that door?"

"Duh, I'm a bear, silly! I don't even have opposable thumbs!" Monokuma giggled.

Whether Monokuma actually wrote that or not, there were still far too many questions on Ryota's mind to leave things unsaid. "Then, if you didn't write that message than who did—"

"Woah, look at the time! The time for questions is now over!" the monochromatic bear purposely interrupted. "Anywho, I'm gonna make like a tree and leave. Happy killing!"

The two-toned bear made his escape once more, a sigh of exasperation forcefully escaped from Ryota's mouth. He hadn't known Monokuma for very long, but he already seemed adjusted to his constant retreating back to some unknown place and overall going about as he pleased. There was no point in arguing about something that simply couldn't be helped.

"Monokuma is insane," the Ultimate Animator gulped. "Even after everything that happened yesterday, he's still content on forcing us to kill each other."

Gekkogahara followed up with a nod. "Yeah, I can agree with you on that," she retorted, as sweat dripped from Monomi. "And is it really possible that any of us would commit a murder at this point?"

"I disagree wholeheartedly," Munakata rebuked, his eyes narrowed at the door where the teddy bear left in. Admittedly, both Ryota and Gekkogahara weren't expecting that kind of reaction coming from a person like him, someone who spent the past few days attempting to keep everyone together.

The silver haired man gave a quick glance at the pictures of a teenage Yukizome spread across the walls. "Don't misunderstand me, there's not a single part of Monokuma that I don't loathe, however, there's something that cannot be denied about this mutual killing game."

"What' insinuating?" Ryota stepped back a little.

Instead of actually giving an explanation on what he'd been talking about, like the Ultimate Animator was expecting, Munakata retrieved two photographs from his pocket and placed them on Ryota's hands. "I found this on Yukizome's desk when I first came this morning," the Ultimate Student Council President informed.

The first picture appeared fairly normal, depicting a scene with Yukizome playing with a group of five small children in a very carefree manner; the second picture was the exact opposite showing the housekeeper happily on a swing set with the aforementioned children all dead behind her.

If the picture wasn't already crude enough, the message written in pink ink didn't nothing to remedy the situation.

" I did it! ♡ "' 

That second picture proved itself to be extremely jarring for Ryota, a part of him wanted to scream and drop the picture altogether, however, that didn't happen, he could only latch onto the pictures trying to comprehend what he just saw. Everything still seemed bizarre, and the idea of his teacher committing so many heinous crimes was hard to comprehend.

Yes, of course. He completely understood that this was the point that Munakata was trying to make with these photos.

Anyone can be a killer.

Chapter Text

For several extensive minutes Ryota's hand remained frozen solid, practically attached to that photograph permanently, and completely unable to let go no matter what the cost. He couldn't believe what he'd been seeing. Sure, he'd been aware of Yukizome's actions of lethally drugging Chairman Tengan and attempting to pin the said death of Munakata, but he never actually saw those events in actions.

This was different.

This was photographic evidence of his teacher gleefully murdering several lives, worse yet the lives of innocent children, was a horrible amalgamation of things that he couldn't even begin to fathom.

"This can't be right," Ryota's hand finally gave out and dropped the picture. "I can't believe this, there's gonna be some kind of misunderstanding, maybe this picture isn't real or something? What if Monokuma forged this picture to mislead us?"

He knew deep down that was a far cry from the truth, and the lie was hardly doing anything to make him feel any better about the matter, he subtly envied Naegi for somehow managing to stay in an optimistic mood. Gekkogahara cocked her head down to the picture, she looked back to the Ultimate Animator in concern. "Mitarai-kun…" she replied sadly.

All of a sudden, the nearest monitor turned on revealing Monokuma drinking a champagne glass in his usual shtick. On the plus side, that was at least enough for Ryota to snap out of his trance and join reality once more, though he couldn't figure out for the life of him what was worse. Finding out your teacher is a murderer or anything Monokuma has to say?

"Hey, bastards! How have you been enjoying your entrance into the new world? If you really like it, then stop everything and head on down to the nearest conference room on this floor! You'll love the next surprise that I have for you!"

"The nearest conference room?" Gekkogahara asked as Monomi tilted her head. "That should be somewhere on this floor, but I wonder why he would want everyone to gather together after we've already investigated this place."

"Knowing Monokuma, it can be anything good," Ryota gulped.

Without a second to spare, Ryota immediately made his way to the conference room (with help from Gekkogahara's navigation), partially because staying in Yukizome's office any longer made him feel more uncomfortable than he bargained for.

Upon entering the conference room on this floor, only a few quick glances were enough to tell Ryota this place wasn't inherently different from the same conference room where Monokuma initiated the killing game some time ago on the top floor.

From the look of things, all thirteen participants were already gathered together in this room, with Ryota and Gekkogahara being the last ones likely because of their extended investigation.

Before even given a second to react, Kizakura approached Ryota and started inspecting him with a sly smile. A gesture that only made the blonde animator feel more uncomfortable, "Looks like you sure took your time. Y'know, a little birdie told me you and Gekkogahara-chan had been hanging out an awful lot today. What's the story with that? You two an item?"

"What!?" Ryota shirked, his face flushing until it turned red. Thank goodness, Gekkogahara had been too busy talking with Asahina that she couldn't hear that, though he wished that Kizakura would stop making such juvenile remarks.

"I kid," Kizakura teased.

"We don't have time for that," Kirigiri responded in annoyance. "If Monokuma called everyone here, then he must have a hidden agenda behind it."

"What could Monokuma want from us now?" Kimura growled.

"Maybe, it's the next motive?" Naegi suggested out of the blue, Kirigiri followed his same train of thought by nodding. "Usually, Monokuma always creates new motives after every trial to keep everyone an initiative to kill each other."

Another motive? And after every trial no less, that didn't really sit well in Ryota's stomach, he already had trouble coming to terms with the first motive and how Monokuma went back on his promise because a loophole, he could only imagine how worse another motive could be.

All attention was brought to the center of the table where the infamous teddy bear leapt out, though was wearing something different than usual. Monokuma was again attired in a different exaggerated outfit; with a baseball cap, a chain around his neck, and fish tattoo on his right arm. "Yo! Yo! Yo! It's Nob-yo, in the hizzouse! What's good fam?"

Monokuma must've been expecting some kind of reaction from the participants, but they remained silent at a complete loss of words for exactly what was going on.

"I know I'm gonna regret asking this," Ando sighed. "What're you doing?"

Great Gozu blanked as well, trying to figure out what the meaning of this was. "I'm not quite sure I understand this. Is this the reason you called us here?"

"Your MC Nob-Yo has come to give ya'll the deets on what's happenin' crib!" the two-toned bear proceeded to answer.

"I'm not quite sure I'm following," Kimura blinked.

"Do you plan on keeping up this charade or do you intend to answer why you brought us all here?" Munakata strictly asked, having already lost his patience after the short banter.

That was enough for the bear to look downcast, proceeding to yank off his hat and chain, and scratch the fish tattoo off his arm in a flash. "Geez, how despairingly disappointing. I spent hours trying to write that comedy routine for my beloved employees and in the end it doesn't even matter."

"We don't care. Tell us why you called us here?" Ando sassed.

"And you better hurry and start talking before we lose our patience," added Izayoi in his typical stoic demeanor, he obviously wanted to retrieve a weapon from his coat to further the threat but already knew the consequences.

"Well now! In order to commemorate the beautiful deaths of our dear friends Tengan Kazuo and whatsherface, and the hard work you bastards did during the first trial...I've decided to provide you with guys with the second moral of The Final Killing Game!" Monokuma happily declared.

"How is the hell is the motive a reward?" Sakakura deadpanned.

"This isn't good, a flower bouquet shouldn't show it's wings before night. You're really gonna give us another motive?" Bandai asked in dread.

"Duh! What would the killing game be without any motives?" Monokuma responded.

"What do you have planned this time?" Asahina barked.

"Killer Killer!" the two-toned bear joyfully answered, without any context or background on what he was referring to. "That's your second motive for the killing game. Killer Killer!"

Ryota wasn't quite sure what Monokuma was talking about, the name had a familiar ring to him though he could only vaguely remember what it was, the same couldn't be said for his fellow division leaders who already looked well aware of what he was talking about.

"Killer Killer?" Naegi blinked.

"Yep! Somewhere in this building lurks a dangerous, deadly, detrimental, dastardly, evangelist murderer named Killer Killer. Any of you bastards who kills this person in the next three days can leave this building faster than you can say passionate killings!" Monokuma announced.

"Killer Killer? I've heard about that man before, if I remember correctly he's someone who kills other murderers for the sake of passion." Great Gozu recalled, "That man was also a member of the Future Foundation."

"And he was a member of my division." Sakakura clarified.

"But wasn't he dead?" Kimura asked.

"Yes, that's correct. The man that was Killer Killer, one Hijirihara Takumi, is indeed dead," Kirigiri began to explain. "Some time ago, Hijirihara was found dead after jumping off a building in an act hypothesized as suicide, he was joined by a woman reported as Asano Misaki."

"And you can here all about the story of Hijirihara-kun and more in the story of Japanese manga, Danganronpa Gaiden: Killer Killer!" Monokuma explained. "A thriller riddled with parasite monsters and Asano-san somehow surviving a decapitation, though I won't bore you bastards with all the details."

"If Killer Killer really is dead, then how can he be lurking in this building?" Naegi raised an eyebrow.

"That's because Killer Killer isn't a single person, it's a title that's been owned by different people in the past.'' Kirigiri explained.

"Which means the Killer Killer than Monokuma is talking about is a completely different person?" Gekkogahara asked, as the lavender haired woman responded with a nod.

"I don't care who it is, there's no way I'm getting involved in something like that again," Sakakura growled. "Besides, there's no way I'm falling for more of Monokuma's shit after what he pulled the last time."

Kizakura nodded. "I'm gonna have to second that. If you fool me once, then it's shame on you. If you full me twice, then shame on me."

'"I think Monokuma's already made it explicitly clear by now that his unfair motives aren't actually gonna get us out of this building!" Kimura hissed.

"As tempting as the motive sounds, I'll have to pass!" Ando nonchalantly waved off. "You would have to think we're pretty dumb to fall for the same thing twice?"

"I don't plan to make the same mistake twice, asshole!" Great Gozu roared in determination, once again flinging his blazer off, and clenching his fists in the tightest way possible. "We've already lost two of our comrades, and I don't intent to lose anyone else!"

"Yeah, now's a better time than ever for us to work together!" Naegi reaffirmed, with his head raised high in perseverance. "We're all together and on the same page, and we all want to put an end to what you started."

Ryota didn't really have the confidence to stand up to the bear just like everyone else, he seemed to only form that in small bursts. Nonetheless, he felt a sense of hope, the deaths behind Tengan and Yukizome were terrible, though they were at least able to unite the Future Foundation together again and have everyone share the one common goal — defeating Monokuma.

With all the rebelling against him, Monokuma sighed and turned his back away from everyone. "Okay, you guys can have it your way…buti'lljusthavetotrapyoubastardsonthisflooruntilyoukillsomebodynow."

"What?" Munakata raised his eyebrow.

"I said—buti'lljusthavetotrapyoubastardsonthisflooruntilyoukillsomebodynow," Monokuma mumbled.

"Enough with the bull crap, start speaking louder!" Ando replied.

The monochromatic bear cleared his throat. "I SAID, but I'll just have to trap you bastards on this floor until you kill somebody now."

That time it was evidently more clear and concise that before, and that's what made it far more threatening to hear. Of course, just when Ryota began to think things were looking up, Monokuma just had to drop a huge, sinister bomb to quickly turn things around to play in his favor.

"'What?" Ryota's heart almost stopped.

"You're trapping us on this floor?" Kimura gulped.

"Couldn't stand the thought of us one-upping you, huh?" Kizakura teased.

"Trapped is such a harsh word. Think of it as, you're chance to explore the beautiful aspects of the new world I presented for you," Monokuma explained. "Don't worry, you bastards won't even miss the floor above, it's not like there was anything valuable or important up there to begin with."

"No, that's wrong!" Ryota denied, finally gathering enough temporary courage to speak up. "What about that big door in the lounge room with your face on it?"

Naegi followed suit by nodding. "Yeah, Mitarai-kun's right, we still haven't found out what R06LLS is even supposed to mean."

"Upupupu...that's the idea, Naegi-kun!" Monokuma giggled. "If you bastards found out what that silly jumble of digits actually meant this early in the game, then there wouldn't be any real surprises to keep anyone on their toes."

Like every other time, Monokuma simply made his exit before anyone was given the chance to properly respond to him, once again leaving them with a whole lot to discuss and an equal amount of despair inflicted on them. Being trapped on a single floor for the rest of the killing game was pretty bad, but in the back of Ryota's mind was the serial killer than Monokuma mentioned before.

Killer Killer. He's heard about that person before from some of his fellow 10th Division members, though he never really knew too much in detail, being far too engrossed in his duties or animations to really give it much thought.

Then there was the motive itself that was stuck on his mind. He couldn't figure out whether or not Killer Killer actually existed, or if Monokuma was only lying to initiate another murder. Despite everything that Monokuma had done to them, he still hadn't given them any reason to mistrust anything he said, since the truth seemed to cause more despair than lying would.

With the new information about the first motive and their living conditions taken into account, Ryota was now again forced to live with the restriction of being trapped on another floor in the building, he could tell that Naegi and the two participants of the Hope's Peak Academy killing game were probably the most devastated about that news, probably even more than he was.

The blonde haired animator took pity in them, knowing they had already been involved in an a mutual killing game and had to deal with so much, not to mention the trouble they went through trying to save his classmates, and now they're involved in another game that's worse than the before.

He saw that Naegi retained his high spirits and determination to leave this building, a feat that never ceased to surprise the animator, most especially after seeing that rub off on other individuals like Great Gozu and Kizakura, who were as determined to persist no less than the Ultimate Hope himself.

As terrible as being stuck on this floor was, there were some advantages to their predicament; after yesterday's fiasco, Monokuma retooled one of the cafeterias into restaurant named "Chez Monokuma", with the twelve surviving participants there seemed to be plenty of food that didn't looked tainted by Yukizome in the slightest,

After the fiasco from yesterday, Monokuma retooled one of the cafeterias into a restaurant named "Chez Monokuma". While investigating the kitchen, Ryota found himself compulsively double-checking the areas just to make sure all the food was safe for everyone to eat, and to make sure there weren't any vents present where sleeping gas grenades could be slipped.

All the commotion nearly made him forget about the promise he made with Gekkogahara last night, proposing the two have daily therapy sessions together every night at 10 pm, and that the two would work together to survive this killing game with the rest of her friends.

He'd still been nervous about the last part, especially when the Killer Killer motive was taken into account, despite this he made his way to Gekkogahara's office, believing the therapist has not lead him astray just yet.

As he continued to meander throughout the dark halls for an extended period of time, Ryota finally buckled down and stopped at Gekkogahara's office, it wasn't like there'd been anywhere else he could go. He wasn't exactly in a hurry to see Munakata again, Naegi and his classmates were busy discussing their efforts of escaping, and the other participants were mostly trying to manage being on another floor.

It was a misfortune like no other; the well-known and esteemed Future Foundation — universally recognized for determinately bringing peace and combating despair— fell completely powerless at the hands of despair itself.

He proceeded to knock on Gekkogahara's door and got back an immediate response to enter, which he considered a vast difference from how he'd been acting yesterday when the blue-haired therapist entered his room. The moment he stepped inside, all the tension from his shoulders were abruptly lifted, thanks in large part to the beautiful fragrant of lavender that intoxicated the room.

"Mitarai-kun, you're a little earlier than I expected," Gekkogahara gasped.

The blonde animator was beginning to take a few steps back, contemplating whether it was a good idea to regroup with Gekkogahara right now, "I'm sorry...was this a bad time? I didn't mean to disturb, if so I'll—"

"No, that's fine," she found herself saying through Monomi before he could exit the room, returning presumably back to his room. "I don't really mind having any company. We're a little earlier than I expected, but feel free to sit anywhere you like and we can begin in just a few minutes."

"Okay," Ryota simply compiled, taking a seat on the nearest couch he could find and nearly sinking into the furniture at a moment's notice, working wonders on him and almost making him forget about Monokuma's motive, he assumed that Gekkogahara wasn't called the Ultimate Therapist without having a good reason.

For several minutes, he could only hear the sound of light tapping from Gekkogahara's keyboard as a means to break the silence of the room, and completely out of the blue, his green eyes scrolled down to the coffee table in front of him. With all the commotion from earlier he barely noticed some of the books of DVD's that were spread across the table.

Most of these books and movies were mainly targeted towards small children, knowing that Gekkogahara does occasional therapy sessions with small children as well, therefore, he could see plenty of Doraemon, Cased Closed, and Crayon Shin Chan, shows that he remembered fondly as a child himself and even considered them one of the reasons he began to love animation so much.

Above anything else, there was a specific DVD that really caught his eye, almost like finding a needle in a haystack.

"You have Spirited Away!" Ryota inappropriately gasped, though successfully getting the attention of Gekkogahara.

The Ultimate Animator was a little embarrassed that exclamation, though truthfully he'd never actually seen besides himself own those DVD's before and it made him excited. It seemed like Gekkogahara had taken notice of that as well, she stopped typing on her keyboard for a brief second.

"Yeah, the video was something donated to the 7th Division about a year ago," the blue-haired girl nodded as Monomi scratched her white ear in a pondering fashion before speaking. "I don't usually watch animations myself, they're mostly used to calm down any younger clients during appointments."

Just before Ryota had the chance to respond, he could already hear the brisk typing from Gekkogahara's keyboard. "But, a couple of months ago, I watched Spirited Away in my spare time here, and I instantly fell in love with the movie. And just between you and me, the rice ball scene made me tear up a little."

"I can understand what you mean," Ryota laughed subconsciously, something he hadn't done since the killing game began, or even before the killing game for that matter. "In the 10th Division, I've tried to spread culture to different parts of the world by showing different kinds of animation films, especially to kids."

Gekkogahara rose her eyebrows. "That's right, if memory serves, isn't that what your goal was before? The desire to create an animation that would spread hope throughout the world."

Ryota gave a small pity laugh; followed by a slow nod. "Yes, but I'm not too sure how a talent like that could even be useful. It's not like I could spread hope with a piece of animation."

"I don't think that's entirely true," Gekkogahara kept her poker face.

"What do you mean?"

Although her red scarf concealed part of her face, it was obvious that Gekkogahara was smiling underneath. "I mean, we're proof of that. You and I both just had a conversation about animation, and I'd say that hope was spread."

The animator snorted. That wasn't necessarily what he meant when he said spreading hope to the world, but he knew Gekkogahara was right about that. With the awful state that the world was currently facing, it was nice to find something that could still cultivate hope in people.

The two continued talking about animations for a longer amount of time, with Ryota even going as far to acknowledge her Monomi avatar that she constantly communicates to bears a resemblance to an anime character, an instant cue for the therapist to childishly tell him it's Magical Girl Usami—not, Monomi. Upon further explanation, she stated the avatar was a gift from her late friend Fujisaki Chihiro before his passing and that her avatar apparently has an identical "twin sister" that helped Ryota's classmates in the Neo World Program.

Out of nothing but sheer accident, Ryota looked at the nearest wall clock and saw that an entire hour had actually passed since the two began talking, Gekkogahara saw his eyes focused on the clock as well, albeit, only subtly surprised at how much time passed.

"I'm sorry Gekkogahara-san," he quickly apologized before too late. "I got a little sidetracked and forgot why I came here in the first place."

The Ultimate Therapist waved a hand, expressing her denial in the need to apologize. "There's no need to be sorry for something like that, besides, I had my fair share of talking in the conversation so that just makes me as guilty as you are."

Ryota took her consideration to heart, straightening himself up from the couch in preparation, though also swallowing his heart in some aspects. "I've never really had a therapy session before, so how do we begin one of these? I wouldn't even know where to start."

"Well, that's commonly normal for most clients, but it's not necessarily for me to say. Mitarai-kun, we're free to talk about just about anything on your mind," Gekkogahara consoled.

There'd been a surge of many things on his mind, and many things he wanted to talk about. His parents divorce, his childhood bullying, losing his fourteen classmates to despair, or even just the murder of Chairman Tengan and the betrayal and subsequent Yukizome. Where could he possibly begin with something like that?

Fortunately for Gekkogahara, she could already read Ryota's facial expressions and could identify that he was visibly struggling to find a topic to discuss. "How about I pick something for you? Yesterday, when we were talking, you asked why you couldn't be like Naegi-kun. Can I ask why you said that?"

Of all the things she could've asked him, that one definitely surprised Ryota the most. Admittedly, when he lamented about his jealousy of Naegi, he said it rather subconsciously, though in the heat of the moment it was something that escaped from his mouth.

"I guess that I've never really had the chance to talk about it much, but I guess I've always been a little jealous of Naegi-san," the animator admitted. "He's so brave and confident, and always can spread hope to himself and others like there's nothing to it."

"Can you remember when this began?" Gekkogahara asked, as Monomi tilted her head in slight anticipation.

It barely required less than a minute for Ryota to answer that question, "It must've happened a little after Naegi-san found the Remnants of Despair and attempted to revert them back to their original state before they met Enoshima Junko."

"And do you think that's what caused your envy?" Gekkogahara asked him.

Ryota nodded. "Naegi-san did something that I never could've done, and may well have even succeeded in it too. And meanwhile, I was the person who created the Remnants of Despair in the first place and caused everything that happened."

Gekkogahara froze. "Created? I'm not quite sure what you're talking about, Mitarai-kun. The Remnants of Despair were initiated by Enoshima Junko."

Before answering he bit his lip with hesitance, contemplating if he should actually say anything to the Ultimate Therapist. No, he couldn't just keep secrets like this, especially from someone who trusts him to this degree. "Because...back when I first enrolled into Hope's Peak Academy, I met Enoshima one day, and the two of us became friends."

Monomi let out a small and subtle gasp. "You were friends with Enoshima Junko?" Gekkogahara gasped.

"Yeah," he had the displeasure of nodding. "Things started off slow at first and Enoshima was a strange person, she was very charismatic and friendly, and she even formally introduced me to all fourteen of my classmates, and for a while things seemed great."

Gekkogahara looked to him with a serious expression, already aware of the unfortunate inevitable of this story, "What happened after that?"

Ryota grimaced. "It was all just a facade. Enoshima had been lying about beings friends with me from the beginning, she only used me to get closer to the rest of the 77th Class. She spent all that time secretly manipulating my classmates behind my back until they craved despair as much as she did." 

"Mitarai-kun, something like that wasn't your fault," Gekkogahara clarified. "Something like that was far beyond your control and you could do anything about it—"

"No, that's not true. Before the Tragedy even began, I had the perfect chance to end this right then and there and potentially stop Enoshima from everything that she was doing," Ryota muttered, his head was lowered to the ground in shame. "But, I was too afraid to do anything about it, and all I could do was run."

The fact that Ryota mentioning running proved to be a cruel irony that he constantly faced throughout his life, quite possibly even the has the unfortunate pleasure of being the poster child of all the despair he quite possibly had to face, even on the day his life was ruined, running seemed to play a major factor in things.

"What's going on!? Who're you people!?"

With each and every passing step the Ultimate Animator found himself growing far more hysterical by the minute, he wouldn't dare to turn around in fear of how closer to the crowd would be catching up to him. From the few small glances that he gave, they were only normal teenagers that looked no different than he did, albeit attired in black suits — he recognized those uniforms from the Hope's Peak Academy Reserve Course.

There was something undoubtedly not right about them, in their hands were wooden stakes and knives among many things. Whoever these Reserve Course students were, they weren't simply trying to hurt Ryota. No, they were genuinely actually trying to kill him. That was far more than what any school bully had ever done to him.

After one minor misdirection in his steps, Ryota found himself tripping and painfully tumbling across the hard concrete flooring, it hurt but that was clearly the least of his problems. The scariest part was that all the Reserve Course students somehow managed to surround him in only a few seconds flat, instantly cornering him in one big circle.

This had to be the end for Ryota, he was completely surrounded by more deadly people that he could even begin to count, and was never the most physically active person, being in a situation like this made his outnumbered, outmatched, and outclassed.

"Oooooh! Mitarai-senpai!" hollered a familiar voice, in almost perfect synchronization the dozens of students all stopped what they were doing, lowering their weapons and allowed the owner of the aforementioned voice to make their entrance. Now, under any normal circumstances this would be like an angel from heaven, rescuing Ryota in the nick of time from being killed.

This was anything but an angel.

Although he wanted to erase her face from his memory more than anything, her strawberry blonde twin-tails, platform boots, and red fake nails were permanently entrenched in his brain no matter how much he tried to forget.

Enoshima Junko the Ultimate Fashionista made her abhorrent entrance towards the crowd, as Reserve Course students were practically worshiping the girl and waiting on her hand and foot like they were personal slaves, holding umbrellas for her and always making sure she had an ample space to stand in the crowd.

"What're you doing here, Enoshima-san?" Ryota managed to pick himself off the ground, though it was hardly an improvement considering his current status, and he couldn't exactly figure out why he continued to use proper honorifics with her, considering everything she's done.

"Well I came here to find my favorite upper classmate, duh! You just up and vanished before the best part of the show!" Enoshima cheerfully explained, "And we haven't even said our final goodbye before things got out of hand."

"Our goodbye?" the Ultimate Animator muttered, he quickly blocked his hands over his eyes, attempting to anticipate any kind of punishment the strawberry blonde would start inflicting on him, but after a few seconds nothing happened.

The Ultimate Fashionista dropped her head in the utmost despairing way a human possibly could, crocodile tears poured from her eyes and mushrooms started inexplicably coming from her head. "How sad, I'm appalled Mitarai-senpai, even after we became best friends thicker than blood you'd really think I'd kill you."

And instantly came back to her senses in the blink of an eye. "Nah, killing a person like you this early in the story would be too predictable for my tastes. If I was gonna put you down, I would've already done it by now!"

The impenetrable army of Reserve Course students looked vulnerable at the moment, though for some reason Ryota's arms and legs couldn't move a muscle no matter how much he tried to budge. He could only stare at Enoshima in fear and horror, completely powerless at her hands.

"But I really have to thank you for everything you've done, Mitarai-senpai. It's because of your cooperation that your dear classmates will become the catalyst for everything I have in store!" Enoshima eagerly exclaimed. "Your classmates have already been plunged into a deep, deep, deeep, deeep, deeeeeep! Despair, and are just like yours truly! Well, not entirely, but you get the gist."

"L-Like you…?" Ryota shuttered, that alone was enough for him to nearly begin to start tearing up once more. "No...t-that can be...I won't believe it, there's no way that could've happened to m-my classmates…"

"Awww, he doesn't believe me. Ain't it precious?" the fashionista responded sarcastically. "Oh well, I guess actions speak louder than words!"

Ryota hadn't the foggiest idea what Enoshima was planning to do next, he'd been busy trying to process far too much and couldn't even read her by expressions and mannerisms alone. It just went to show that the embodiment of despair itself was unpredictable and impossible to follow. He expected the strawberry blonde to do many things, though she only snapped her fingers.

And before him appeared, fourteen people that instantaneously emerged from the crowd, almost no different than the Reserve Course students — they were the 77th Class, his own classmates. There was clearly something much different about them compared to before, their piercing red eyes they all donned.

"We have been incredibly blessed, thank you very much, Mitarai-san!" a blonde haired princess thank him with the utmost and sincere gratitude. "I'm so grateful to have met Enoshima-sama, now I will be able to make my country a bloodshed one, with many wars!"

"I'm with you all the way!" a pink haired mechanic promptly retorted.

"Hmph, it should be taken into account, all of this was started because of Mitarai," a dirty blonde and overweight affluent progeny remarked. "In that vein, I pledge to bring the world into a new area in the name of the Togami Family."

"My hot passion for cooking is off the charts!" a short and plump chef cheered, "I'm ready to bring my cooking into the beautiful art of fasting!"

"Hell yeah!" a curvaceous gymnast with tan skinned followed, "Now that means I'm gonna starve till' I drop!"

This wasn't right, not by a long shot. Why are they talking about something as horrendous as despair in such a casual define manner, as if the concept of despair was something completely normal to their mindset. What on Earth did Enoshima do to them?

"Kyahaha! Three cheers for Ryota-chan! If it wasn't for him we never would've met Junko-sama and be introduced to the delightfuldeviousdamagingdangerousdeplorabledepressingofdespair — owww! I bit my tongue," yelped a energetic musician with long black hair and horns.

"Yeah, I guess a lameo like Big Bro Mitarai was actually good for something after all!" said a girl with blonde ponytail and orange kimono. "Now I'm gonna make Japan a terrible place with my traditional dancing!"

"I'll be sure take plenty of despair-inducing pictures, Hiyoko-chan," a girl with short red hair and a single-lens reflex camera in her hands said before flashing the lens at Ryota. "That goes for you too, Mitarai. Smile and say cheese~just kidding!"

"W-W-What's going on?" the Ultimate Animator stammered, "I...I never asked for this...I didn't want—"

"THAT'S INEXCUSABLE!" interrupted an overly muscular man, "Your performance to convert us was tremendous! Show some pride in your work, Mitarai! You were THE SHIT!"

"Feeling sorry for everything that happened is completely useless Mitarai-san, there's nothing to be afraid of anymore," a nurse with choppy purple hair cooed, giving quick glances to the fashionista and growing more elated by the minute. "Our beloved...Junko...she'll take the pain away, she'll love and accept us like she always does."

"Damn right. That self doubting shit is really taking its toll," a baby faced yakuza scoffed. "Now that we've finally graduated, I've got my own agenda. I'm enhancing the gang and am gonna lead our people down the path of despair."

"I'm prepared to lay my life on the line for young master, and the lives of others," a silver haired girl with glasses and a shinai coldly followed.

"I shall give credit where credit's due, Mitarai Ryota. You proved yourself quite adequate for no less than a mere mortal, and with these extended powers from the Netherworld itself, I am invincible!" a serious man with a long purple scarf said. "No being, human, god, or pact, will be spared by the Tanaka Empire!"

The last person, an androgynous man with white frizzy, pitifully staring at his palm and smiling. "I normally wouldn't want to involve myself in something like this, even now I'm still weary about joining forces with the person I hate...yet love so much, but it doesn't matter how much despair is inflicted on the world because hope will always win, regardless."

Ryota again tried to stand up, but his legs were virtually frozen solid, he could only continue to helplessly watch his classmates act like shells of their former selves, he quickly turner back to Enoshima who devilishly smirked at him. "W-Why...why..are you doing this?"

His olive eyes were practically swelling with tears, his face progressively turning a pale blue in full hysteria. "I...I...I didn't know….I didn't know that you would…"

"  — You didn't know I would take advantage of your dear old classmates insecurities, weaknesses, fears, and just about anything else that makes them tick, so they could join the winning side?" Enoshima finished his sentence. "And now you're gonna walk out on me and play the sympathy card? It takes two to tango, Mitarai-senpai!"

"N-No...I...I...It wasn't my never told me...I did know...I…"

"Right, none of this was your fault!" Enoshima laughed sarcastically. "It's not like you couldn't have called things quits at any given moment. None of this was actually your fault, right? Everything here was just caused by 'mean old Enoshima', you guys are all just innocent people who could have never done a single thing wrong around here, because EVERYTHING is my fault."

"I...I...I...I...I...didn't know —"

"And since NONE of this was anyone's fault to begin with, besides mine, that means you can hightail your keister on outta here and nobody would even think twice about blaming you!" the fashionista cheered, she walked closer to Ryota making him feel more uncomfortable and knelt down to his view.

As the two met face to face, the Ultimate Fashionista would utter the words that would stay with Ryota for the rest of his life. "Run. Run away and never return, because that is your despair."

Yet, he did the single most cowardly thing a person could probably do in that particular instance, and decided to run away. Not just away from Enoshima, his classmates, or the Reserve Course students, but away from the Hope's Peak Academy campus in general without taking a single moment to look back.

Of course, he really wanted to save his classmates from their fate and finish what Enoshima Junko started more than anything, but he was far too lacking in the overall strength and confidence to do anything remotely heroic, anything he tried to help someone things always made a turn for the absolute worse. With every bush he passed through in complete trauma over everything that happened, his own insecurities literally blinded him until he accidentally tripped and fell into a muddy bank, falling on his face.

Perhaps a fitting end for someone like him? couldn't just end like this. He couldn't let the Ultimate Fashionista treat his classmates...his friends, like they were her own personal puppets and continue to manipulate them into being a psychotic as she is.

"I...I've gotta...go...back! I've gotta save them..." Ryota muttered, he tried to muster up more courage though it mostly sounded contrived from his perspective. His arms struggled to even move, he couldn't figure out whether or not it was because of pain, or because his body was just too hesitant to ever see Enoshima again. The first part didn't make sense to him, any brave person would've rushed back to aid their friends in a heartbeat. But why was it so hard for him?

"C'mon Ryota, get up! Just this once be brave!" he began giving some meaningless gestures of encouragement in attempt to finally stand up, only ending in disappointment as his body utterly refused to stand up again. "Dammit! C'mon, get up! Please! Please!"

It didn't matter how much he encouraged himself, his efforts were downright futile. As he now realized the current status of his situation, warm tears bursted from his eyes and his confidence was shattered into many pieces. Mitarai Ryota was never the most picky person, truthfully he only really wanted three things out of life: to create a great animation, to have true friends, to spread hope and make others happy.

He was so close to have all of that, potentially even more, but Enoshima Junko took everything that he cared about from him in one  fell swoop and forced him to leave him with the guilt that everything could've been easily prevented if he just opted for a life of a loner than merely spent his time doing animations by himself in a dorm room.

That's right, he had an epiphany the day. None of this would have happened if he just didn't interact with other people, perhaps maybe it was better to stay reserved than interacting with others, that way he would never have to deal with losing another friend again.

"Why am I such a weakling?"

"—and after that my classmates became the Remnants of Despair, and the Tragedy started, but I wasn't there to help them, I wasn't able to help anyone," Ryota finally finished, the topic alone was already enough to bring tears to his eyes that he tried sucking back in. "I let her get too close to my classmates, and now it's all my fault."

"Mitarai-kun, you're being too hard on yourself," Gekkogahara said. "There are some things in life that are just far beyond our control, but that doesn't mean things won't get any better."

"But how can that happen? I don't have strength like Naegi-san to move forward with blind optimism," Ryota replied.

Before she finished speaking, her fingers scrolled across the keyboard putting together one final sentence. "Mitarai-kun, hope isn't something that belongs to just one person. It can be found everywhere you look, not only subjected to one thing or one person, it can be found in anything or anyone, even things we wouldn't normally expect them to appear from."

And just like that their conversation came to its closing. After everything they discussed, there was no denying that Ryota had much to think about, however, what really struck the Ultimate Animator's interest the most were those final words that Gekkogahara gave him.

Hope can be found even in places you wouldn't normally expect? What could that have meant? Did she mean that even someone like Ryota has the potential to spread hope just as Naegi?

Gekkogahara Miaya certainly was more than what meets the eye, while visually appearing as merely a shy and quiet girl only reserved to her computer, in reality she proved herself of having one of the biggest hearts in the Future Foundation.

He couldn't really comprehend why her, or anyone else for that matter, would have ever decided to take a chance on a person like him, regardless, Ryota couldn't be more thankful for not only having someone he'd consider a great therapist, but a great friend.

Perhaps one day, the Ultimate Animator would be able to find some way to properly thank her for all the help that she's provided.

All things considered, Ryota felt he grew a little closer to Gekkogahara.

Chapter Text

Yukizome Theater

"Mitarai-kun and Gekkogahara-san seem to be hitting things off pretty well, who would've guessed that those two would become friends? But, I'd have to respectfully disagree with Gekkogahara-san's opinion about hope being found anywhere, well, mainly because I dislike hope more than being eaten alive my cockroaches."

"Which I have personal experience from!"

"That being said, even if he's one of my precious students, there's no way I can easily forgive what he said in that story he told. I'm afraid I can't just shake off the idea of Enoshima-sama being portrayed as a bad guy that you'd see in a video game."

"If I were still alive I'd have to give Mitarai-kun a lecture for that."

"Guess there's no point on thinking about what I'd be doing if I were alive, after all, it's just like the saying, the dog barks but the caravan goes on."

Today, the very first instant that Ryota woke up it already became the strangest morning that he ever faced, possibly since the events of his own childhood. Not because he was once again greeted by the awful and resentful feeling of despair like a usual day, but for the exact opposite reason. It marked the first morning in many years where he wasn't welcomed by the uncomfortable weight on his shoulders.

The Ultimate Animator couldn't recall the last time he had ever felt this serene upon waking up.

A sense of relief and solace managed to find its way inside of Ryota, feeling that his previous conversation with Gekkogahara last night made him feel a little better, finally being able to come out and tell someone about his past experiences with Enoshima and the Remnants of Despair.

What's more surprising is that the Ultimate Therapist wasn't ready to immediately yell at him, or feel betrayed towards him, or display a single shed of negativity for that matter, only responding with sincere understanding. But, why? He was best friends' with the infamous Remnants and was played like a fiddle by the Ultimate Fashionista.

Even more surprising to him was that Gekkogahara actually wanted to schedule another therapy session tonight as well.

He couldn't really grasp that. Did someone like him even deserve sympathy?

Regardless of that, Ryota followed through with his usual routine of putting on a new black suit from his closet and heading down to Chez Monokuma to greet his fellow Future Foundation members. To his surprise, he was once again the final person to arrive there just like in the cafeteria on the top floor.

It was fortunate to know that all twelve were present and were able to dine on the foods Monokuma left in the pantry and refrigerator, which was much better than eating anything that was left behind on the previous floor. The strangest thing about his arrival was that Munakata of all people was present along with the others, albeit standing at what he considered a respectful distance away from everyone else in the corner.

A smile appeared on Naegi's face when the animator appeared in the room, "Good morning, Mitarai-kun. You're just in time."

"Just in time?" Ryota blinked. "What do you mean...did something happen?"

Gekkogahara slowly answered with a nod to her head. "Yeah, we had just finished explaining our circumstance to everyone about what we learned during this killing game, with The New Revolution and all the other information we learned."

That's right, Ryota had nearly forgotten all about The New Revolution. According to what he learned from Gekkogahara and Kirigiri's insight, they're apparently a militant terrorist group responsible for trapping all fifteen of them inside this building, and that its ringleader is a traitor from the Future Foundation.

Which meant that even after all that transpired in the first trial, there's still someone in this room that could potentially be a traitor that's attempting to keep up appearances. That thought scared Ryota to death since he was positive that he would never have to deal with another traitor, but if Monokuma's confirmation was anything to go by, then it was indeed not the truth.

"I still can't believe that the Ultimate Despair weren't part of this killing game at all." Kimura gasped in surprise.

"Well, I can't say that I'm all too surprised. The Ultimate Despair have been kinda under the radar for the past couple of months," Kizakura replied, taking a quick swig from his flask. "But what about these The New Revolution guys, can't say I've ever had the pleasure of hearing about them before."

"Hell if I knew, but if there's really another traitor that's been helping out Monokuma then we're back to square one on narrowing down who the killer could be." Sakakura sighed.

"If the traitor could really be anyone in this room, it'll be difficult to determine who's the traitor. It could be Ando for all we know," Kimura contemplated.

"Hey—hold on a second!" the Ultimate Confectioner shot back without a moment's hesitation. "Why am I suddenly the first person to be susceptible for being the traitor?"

"Perhaps because you're the one that wanted to branch away and started recruiting some of our younger members to start your own organization!" Kimura hissed.

The two were about to go at each other's throat with another heated argument, until Great Gozu stepped in and firmly interrupted. "Seiko, Ruruka! Compose yourselves, both of you! We all have a common enemy, and it's Monokuma, not ourselves!"

"I agree with Gozu-san. Now that we're all united together, we can get to the bottom of things and maybe finally find out some information about our circumstance." Gekkogahara chimed in. "We should be focusing more on the truth of this killing game and not just who the culprit behind everything is."

"Okay, but how're we supposed to do that when we're stuck between a rock and a hard place?" Ando raised an eyebrow.

"Are we really gonna have to sacrifice another person just to progress?" Bandai shuttered.

"No, no one's killing anyone." Naegi confidently refuted. "We're just gonna have to find some other way to escape without doing Monokuma's Killer Killer motive, there's definitely other options on getting out of here."

At this point, it almost felt customary for Ryota to feel jealous of Naegi and his bravery, though strangely his jealousy was less severe than most previous times. He started wondering exactly how Naegi or his classmates were able to keep a cool head during their own respective killing games.

He heard that his classmates had the benefit of at least being on a tropical island, which would probably be very calming, though he knew Naegi and his friends were enclosed in endless walls just like they were now and were somehow able to escape with the hope to move forward, and even Munakata had the same bravery when the killing game first began.

Ryota couldn't quite understand, what's the secret?


After finishing breakfast, Ryota admittedly waited a long period of time once he finished eating, the nagging feeling that his food was secretly dosed with poison, but after an extended period of time he realized that nothing was going to happen and everything was just an anxiety rummaging through his head.

Another thing that found itself in the Ultimate Animator's head was exactly what was he supposed to do now? He wanted to help out Gekkogahara and Naegi, and escape this building safely, the same as everyone else, except all their efforts seem useless since Monokuma has locked them on another floor and only plans on setting them free presumably once the next murder occurs.

Sure, he could find a way to entertain himself with the basketball court or the game room, but he's never been relatively good and sports, and doesn't really believe now would even be a good time to be in those rooms, considering their situation.

Right before he was given the chance to react to anything else, Kirigiri approached him completely out of the blue. "Mitarai-kun, I need to see you in the dormitory in just a few minutes."

"What do you mean?" Ryota asked.

"Asahina-san and Gekkogahara-san need your assistance investigating the dormitory, they heard the dorm rooms for Yukizome and Chairman Tengan may contain hidden secrets."

He didn't have the foggiest clue what Kirigiri was talking about, though was caught completely off guard when the detective knelt down and whispered into his ear. "Meet us at the sauna in exactly five minutes."

Before he was able to respond to what she said, Kirigiri had already made some distance and was walking out of the dining room faster than she entered. Meet us at the sauna? What could that mean? Kirigiri must have had a good reason for whispering it to him, though he could quite understand what this would entail.

From his scarce knowledge of saunas, they did benefit for high tension moments and were able to reduce stress, although he couldn't imagine Kirigiri of all people would actually invite him somewhere like that, so it must be something different.

He didn't have an idea what the Ultimate Detective was talking about, though he decided to wait his five minutes before tracing the halls to search for the sauna that was referring to, a place he didn't even know existed until mentioned.

When he first arrived in the sauna, Ryota straightaway could see that Gekkogahara, Naegi, and Asahina were already present with the aforementioned detective, meaning that there was undeniably something going on. The walls of solid wood managed to make things seem a little enclosed and confining, though it was noticeably more quiet than any of the other rooms.

"Hi, Mitarai-kun. It's good to see that you've finally arrived." Gekkogahara greeted.

"Arrived for what?" the animator in question asked.

The Ultimate Therapist had temporarily placed her hand off the keyboard and directed her index fingers to the empty wooden walls, getting the attention of Ryota. "There's an important matter that we needed to discuss together, though it was difficult to talk about things when we were surrounded by so many cameras."

"I see, there aren't any cameras in the sauna so Monokuma won't be able to monitor what we're doing." Ryota started to understand. It was truthfully strange to find a room that didn't contain a single camera, for what Ryota could only assume was because the lenses would constantly start fogging up.

"Of course, there's always the possibility that Monokuma could be watching us this very instant, but it's not as if we have other options." Kirigiri informed.

"So, what did you ask me to come here, Kirigiri-san?" Ryota questioned.

The lavender haired woman looked to the Ultimate Therapist and the two nodded in confirmation. Instead of actually explaining things to Ryota, Gekkogahara started rapidly typing on her keyboard until suddenly, the screen inexplicably changed into a cyan green color; now depicting an androgynous young figure clad in a green school uniform.

"Hello, Mitarai-kun! I've heard much about you, and it's nice to finally meet you!" the artificial computer program greeted with a big smile. "I'm referred to as Alter Ego."

He shot quick glances back to his friends out of complete confusion over who this "Alter Ego" was supposed to be and how it already knew his name. "Umm...hello, who're you?"

"Alter Ego is a friend of ours, an AI created by our late friend Fujisaki Chihiro-kun. He's been helping us gather information about The New Revolution for the past few days." Naegi explained.

An artificial intelligence? That was the second time he heard that word being mentioned, knowing that Gekkogahara previously spoke about that yesterday when she was discussing her Monomi avatar and the origin behind its creation. That must've meant Alter Ego was close friends with Gekkogahara and quite possibly his classmates.

Ryota softened up a little after hearing that. "Oh's nice to meet you too, Alter Ego-san. I'm Mitarai Ryota, though I guess you already knew that."

"Likewise! Any friend of Naegi-kun's a friend of mine!" Alter Ego smiled, his wholesome positivity and patience was something that Ryota could instantly take notice of.

"How come you guys called me here? Did you just want me to meet Alter Ego-san?" Ryota wondered.

"No, there's an important matter that we needed to discuss, and Naegi-kun suggested that we allow you to be involved in the situation." Kirigiri said.

"For the past few days, I've been trying to decode some of the files in the Future Foundation's computer, but I haven't had the best luck doing so." Alter Ego analyzed in disappointment. "It seems that a great deal of them have been corrupted because they're nowhere to be found."

"Does that mean Monokuma beat us to the punch?" Asahina asked.

Alter Ego shook his head. "I'm not sure, but that makes me worried, if Monokuma discovers what we're doing then he might try to execute me again, or worse, cause harm to Aunty Miaya."

"That shouldn't be much of a problem," Kirigiri reminded the program. "All of this is directly connected to Gekkgahara-san's computer, and Monokuma has said he'd never directly interfere with any of the participants. He wouldn't do anything unless we were caught."

Asahina crossed her arms and started thinking. "There's gonna be some way we can figure all this stuff out, and find a way to escape this crazy building."

"I second that, the last thing we need is another person dying because of Monokuma's motives." Ryota agreed, "Or worse, be forced to follow the three survivors rule that he gave us all."

"You're right. If Alter Ego is able to directly contact with us, then chances are he'd be able to communicate with the offshore branches in the Future Foundation, and contacting one of them may be our best bet." Kirigiri nodded.

"Which division should we contact?" Ryota asked. "I mean, it doesn't seem like the Future Foundation trusts Naegi-san very much at the moment, what is they suspect the worse and this killing game is a lie?"

"Then we'll just have to contact the 14th Division." Naegi replied determinately. "They're the only ones who were aware of are attempts to rehabilitate the Remnants of Despair on Jabberwock Island, I'm sure there's someone in that division who could give us some help."

"Do you want me to contact a representative from the 14th Division?" Alter Ego resting a finger on his chin. "Okay! That shouldn't be much of a problem."

The cyan green screen faded away and with it Alter Ego as well, for a few short seconds it seemed like the computer was buffering in attempt to contact someone from an offshore branch, Ryota wasn't sure if the video was just broken or not.

"Uh, hello? Can anyone hear me?" Naegi called out.

"Yes, I can read you loud and clear." a voice answered. As the video proceeded to enhance, the person's face became much more visible, appearing to be a man with dirty blonde hair and white rimmed glasses. "Pleasure to hear from you again, even if you do appear trouble."

The first to respond was Naegi, "Togami-kun, you're okay!"

Ryota didn't really know the Ultimate Affluent Progeny and wasn't really sure what to expect, instead of replying to his former classmates with a formal greeting, he immediately rushed into the conversation with anger. "That's my line. Would you care to explain precisely why you have taken a drastically long time to answer a single call. We've been trying to contact all fourteen branches only to find out you all up and vanished."

"We're sorry, Togami-kun," Naegi softly apologized. "A lot's happened over the past few days, we've been trying to contact anyone from an outside branch but we ran into a number of different problems that prevented us."

"That much is evident, the last we spoke you were being placed on trial, and after that no one heard from you or fourteen division leaders," the affluent progeny spoke, as he firmly pushed his white glasses up to the bridge of his nose, "Start talking."

It seemed like after everything that happened to them so far, Naegi didn't even know where to begin with this story, that was something Ryota could definitely understand after experiencing a lot in such a short time. The Ultimate Hope started from the beginning, talking about the sleeping gas grenade that knocked them unconscious, the restricting bangles, the death of Chairman Tengan, the eventual betrayal of Yukizome Chisa, and just about everything else that transpired over the past several days.

"—So, Monokuma has initiated yet another mutual killing game?" Togami concluded, with Naegi responding with a nod. "He's quite persistent for a bear, I'll give him that. And what of the other young man that's accompanying you? I presume that's Mitarai Ryota of the 10th Branch."

Asahina vouched for the Ultimate Animator by happily nodding. "Yeah. Mitarai's become a good friend of ours, he's been helping us out ever since we've been stuck in this place."

Ryota's cheeks felt warm after hearing that, he could feel a strange sensation of embarrassment and flattery, having never actually been one to receive very much complements in his life, but at the same time he didn't actually believe he was very much helpful since the killing game actually began.

"But I'm still confused, Togami-kun, haven't you seen the broadcast of this killing game?" Naegi asked.

"Broadcast...what nonsense are you going on about?" the Ultimate Affluent Progeny asked.

Ryota looked to Naegi and Asahina with a nearly identical look of confusion, Kirigiri seemed to carry a similar expression although more calm and refined compared to the rest. What was he talking about?

"Stop kidding around, Togami," Asahina huffed. "This whole killing games being broadcast all over the world again, right? Monokuma's got cameras all over the place."

Ryota had only vaguely heard some things about the real Togami Byakuya, but if this were all just a big joke then he must have an interesting sense of humor. Things especially weren't looking so good after a few seconds when he noticed the Heir wasn't budging at all.

Togami didn't waste a second to break the news. "I can assure you there have been no such broadcasts, aside from your standard fair of propaganda on the Mirai Holocaust there haven't been any excruciating programs aired on television in recent times."

"But if the surveillance cameras aren't broadcasting anything then how come—" Ryota froze. "The Mirai Holocaust?"

Again, the group found themselves downright clueless on exactly what Togami had been talking about. First he mentions that the surveillance cameras haven't actually been broadcasting the game, now he mentions a holocaust that bared no familiarity to them, and from the look of the blonde man's face, he looked even more surprised that they hadn't known about this.

"What's the Mirai Holocaust?" Naegi dared himself to ask, already aware that he wouldn't like wherever this story was going next.

"Perhaps, it's best that you start from the beginning," Kirigiri told him.

Togami grabbed his tea and gave a sip, clearly his throat for presumably what was a long conversation. "I see, so you really are ignorant to what's been going on. The Mirai Holocaust has been a horrendous war that occurred between the Future Foundation and the New Revolution, so far resulting in the deaths of many on both sides."

"What…?" Ryota's mouth dropped in shock. "H-How did this happen? We've spent all this time trying to escape this killing game, and things are even worse on the outside?"

"In other's almost like another version of The Tragedy, right?" Kirigiri asked.

Naegi turned back to the monitor and looked at Togami. "The New Revolution are the same group that started this killing game, Yukizome-san was a member of this group before she was killed, and based on the information Alter Ego gave us there's another person from the Future Foundation that's still alive and helping Monokuma."

"I think we can further postulate the feud between Future Foundation and New Revolution are in deep relationship to what's happening in this killing game." Togami inferred, "But there still remains the question of exactly who the maestro of this operation and what their exact intentions are."

"We don't really have a clear answer on who the mastermind might be yet." Naegi gulped.

"Why would The New Revolution trap us and start a killing game for in the first place? I mean, what's the point?" Asahina pondered.

Ryota placed a finger on his chin. "Well, the Future Foundation is considered the worlds final hope, maybe they started the killing game to try and get rid of us all?"

"That's a possibility, though if want to find out more about our current situation then we're likely going to need to unlock the lower floors in the building." Kirigiri informed.

It seems that the Ultimate Detective's response was enough to catch Togami's attention because he proceeded to intentionally clear his throat. "Speaking of which, exactly where are you right now? If you provide me with your current location, I'll send some of my best subordinates to come to your aid and end this ridiculous killing game once and for all."

"Ummm...Togami-kun, we're still inside the Future Foundation Headquarters." Naegi awkwardly corrected him.

"Yeah, that's where we've been this entire time." Asahina followed up.

The affluent progeny shook his head. "No, that is incorrect. You all are indeed not trapped inside the Future Foundation Headquarters, the task force was sent to infiltrate that building for approximately seven months and we didn't have any luck in locating you."

W h a t...

No, that couldn't possibly be right. Ryota took a brief moment to double take and try to recall exactly what Togami had just said. But things weren't looking so good after he took quick glances at his friends who were clearly in the same state of shock as he was.

Asahina's face went pale. "What? What did you just say?"

The affluent progeny narrowed his eyes, growling restless having to constantly repeat his words. "I said, the task force has spent the past seven months trying locate you in headquarters. Naegi's trial was meant to occur on July 11th, it's going to be March in just a few days."

WHAT! Ryota nearly exclaimed aloud. Seven months? He couldn't possibly believe the words that were coming out of the man's mouth—SEVEN WHOLE MONTHS have passed come and gone since Naegi's trial? That's absurd...preposterous…ludicrous...there's no way something like that could possibly be true.

"Togami-kun, that's insane! Are you sure that's true?" Naegi gasped.

"Now what would I possibly have to gain by conjuring up a farce to this caliber?" Togami sternly retorted. "Whether you chose to believe in this truth or not is merely up to you, but don't come complaining to me when you're utterly disappointed."

He wasn't joking, not by a longshot. There was so much information unexpectedly that Ryota could barely even comprehend what was happening. SEVEN MONTHS. Ryota couldn't stop trying to map out all the potential ways that much time could have possibly passed.

"How could this have happened?" Ryota shuttered, "We've really been trapped in a different building for seven months straight. How is that even possible? This killing game has only been going on for short amount of time. If seven months really passed then why can't we remember a thing?"

Naegi and Asahina both wore looks of agitation on their face, almost like they already knew an unfortunate answer to this mystery. "It's possible that our memories have been erased," Kirigiri was the one who answered for them.

"Our memories...were erased?" Ryota gasped. "How could that have happened? I remember everything clearly from the moment the killing game began."

"Unless…" Kirigiri began to think aloud, gaining the Ultimate Animator's attention. "There was a certain period of time where are memories could've been seamlessly erased without any of us noticing?"

A way for their memories to be seamlessly be erased? That was difficult trying to pinpoint, since Ryota clearly remembers everything that's happened since the killing game began and doesn't believe there are any gaps in his memories that could've happened seamlessly. Maybe when he was sleeping? Or perhaps even when he was unconscious?

"It must've happened before the killing game began, right?" Ryota realized. "The only period of time I can think of where we could have lost our memories is when Yukizome-sensei dropped the sleeping gas grenade and knocked us all unconscious, after we woke up the bangles were already attached to us, and Monokuma appeared."

"Then that must be it! Something must have happened in between that time that we don't remember!" Asahina understood.

"Yes, and that would explain why we couldn't possibly remember how we lost seven months worth of memories or anything about this Mirai Holocaust that's been happening." Kirigiri added in.

"Exactly what memories were taken from us in the first place? Now I'm even more concerned." Naegi sighed.

"It seems that Monokuma is content on keep up with old trends." Togami acknowledged.

Ryota had almost forgot that the surviving students from Class 78 already have experience with getting their memories erased, which would explain why they're seemingly acted less shocked than he was, already aware that of what Monokuma was capable of.

"Yeah, no kidding. And why would Monokuma only erase seven months, instead of just erasing our memories of knowing each other like he did at Hope's Peak?" Asahina questioned.

"Maybe we learned something that the Monokuma doesn't want us to know, so he erased those memories and started the killing game?" Ryota wondered.

"Nonetheless, this may very well be the most dire situation the Future Foundation has ever faced. I'll be sure to pass this information on to Fukawa and your sister, they should be in the loop about this situation as well." Togami said, looking specifically to Naegi.

"And Hagakure-kun too, right?" the Ultimate Hope asked.

Togami took a long pause without saying a word, giving the brunette a look of disapproval before he started to start talking again. "In any case, I'll be sending my forces to track down your current whereabouts and rescue you and the other Future Foundation members. In the meantime, it's best to keep your communicating with Alter Ego to a minimum."

"What for? We've finally hit a stroke of luck." Asahina reminded him.

"No, I think Togami-kun's definitely right about this. We got off scott free these first two times, but if we continue to speak to Alter Ego, sooner or late Monokuma will catch onto us and dismantle him. He's done it before," Kirigiri reminded her.

"And we'd only be making things harder for Gekkogahara-san." Ryota followed up with concern over the therapist.

The affluent progeny gave one final look to Naegi. "I must say, after knowing you for as long as I have, you're tougher to beat than a cockroach, and even harder to kill. Don't waste my time, I won't tolerate you dying so easily on my watch."

"Togami-kun, if I didn't know any better I'd say actually cared about our safety." Kirigiri teased.

"Don't underestimate me. The mere thought of being concerned for the safety of you lot is enough to bring me profound disgust, however, in order to catch my prey I'll have to ally with you all for just a bit longer," Togami brutally denied.

He adjusted his glasses, taking one final look at his computer screen. "I entrust that you three and Mitarai can gather the information necessary about your perpetrator and determine how you were imprisoned in this mystery building, yes?"

Naegi smiled. "Yeah, that shouldn't be too hard, right? We're just glad you're coming Togami-kun, we can hold out until then."

The chat video subsequently ended, returning Gekkogahara's computer screen back to Monomi. The two-toned rabbit expressed a slight disappointment that she was still wasn't back in her original form of Usami, but quickly got over things after the Ultimate Therapist realized they had much to discuss after the bomb of information that Togami just provided everyone with.

Ryota felt the exact same way, although he figured everything about the killing game was already known in plain sight, it seems there was much more going on than he could have possibly imagined. The Mirai Holocaust. The seven months worth of memories. The new building they're currently being located in. Where was he even supposed to begin?

Gekkogahara looked across the walls, which would usually be filled with cameras if they weren't in a sauna. "So, we're not actually inside the Future Foundation building are we? We're actually inside some kind of replica and were moved here after the sleeping gas grenade knocked us out?"

"That does make sense. Back when the game first began, I had noticed some of the areas were far different now compared to when Yukizome-san introduced me to all the division leaders, I thought maybe it was just because of Monokuma being too illogical to follow sometimes, but I don't think that's entirely true." Naegi concluded.

Kirigiri placed a gloved hand to her chin. "Then in all likelihood we're in a different building from where we started, a carbon copy excluding anything of the cameras and monitors, and we must have been put in this duplicate after the gas made us all fall unconscious."

"And that means Monokuma probably added in the secret doors from the library and lounge room in this fake building, right?" Asahina asked.

"That's insane, it's a ridiculous amount of effort, and for what?" Ryota asked.

"It becomes worthwhile if it's to confuse us, your disbelief is proof the tactic works. Had Togami-kun never explained to us what's really been happening, The New Revolution would have succeeded in deceiving us into thinking that we're in the very building where Naegi-kun's trial was held," Kirigiri further explained.


"—Seven months?!" was the first thing Ando exclaimed upon hearing that newly acquired information. "You've gotta be kidding me? There's no way that much time could've passed."

"I agree with Ruruka. For all we know this could just be Monokuma's attempt at steering us in the wrong direction. I don't believe it," Izayoi frowned.

Ryota hesitantly sighed. "It's all true. Based on the information that Togami-san told us, a whole seven months have passed since Naegi-san's trial was meant to begin, and it's apparently going to be eight months very soon."

"Then that means so much more has been going on outside of these walls then we have ever expected." Great Gozu gasped, having already believed in the newly acquired information at the world "go".

"As much as it kills me to say this...I'd have to agree with them on this one. Monokuma is a tough bastard to follow, and if anyone could pull of something this crazy it would be him," Sakakura admitted in defeat. "And that means Yukizome was in league with this the entire time."

Ryota could see that Munakata was visibly angered by the mere mention of that name of that woman alone, in all honesty he could relate as well, hearing that Yukizome was the blackened that murdered Tengan was one thing, but knowing that she played a hand in memory erasing and feuding between the Future Foundation was far more worse.

"If what you said was really true, then what have we been doing for the past seven months?" Kimura asked.

"Who knows? But it's gotta be something big if Monokuma really went through the trouble of erasing those seven months." Kizakura cooly responded, relaxing back in his chair, despite learning a huge about of new information he seemed to be the most calm compared to everyone.

"Maybe we found out who the mastermind was, and so Monokuma got rid of all our memories so we could forget before the game." Bandai suggested. "A wildfire doesn't just climb a tree when it's ready, so there could be more to this killing game then we know."

"There are many possible different outcomes to this case, it'd be far too difficult to speculate and determine exactly what Monokuma's intentions for erasing our memories are, especially since we don't have any concrete evidence." Kirigiri informed.

Monomi scratched her ear. "And if what Togami-kun said is actually true, and we've actually been transferred to another building in between the gasp of us being gassed unconscious and waking up, then we're likely to find more information about everything that's going oh here."

"Sup, bastards! So, what're we talking about?" said Monokuma, who emerged from out of nowhere like usual.

"Monokuma, what're you doing here!?" Naegi gasped.

"What? A Chairman can't say hello to his favorite cavalcade of employees?" the two-toned bear questioned. "Besides, I still haven't made any appearances in this chapter yet."

"After all the shit you're constantly pulling, why would anyone ever wanna see you?" Sakakura put things bluntly.

"You mine as well cut out the ambiguous hints, because we've got you all figured!" Ando remarked. "We know that you erased our memories and that put us inside a different building, so you mine as well come clean."

"Hmm? Oh, that. Yeah, I totally did that." Monokuma answered nonchalantly.

What? This didn't make a whole lot of sense to Ryota, he was expecting Monokuma to be nervous or afraid that they finally figured out a huge chunk of his plan, though he was acting strangely calm about things.

"'re okay with this?" Asahina asked awkwardly.

Monokuma nodded. "Of course, were you expecting me to be angry or something?"

Then a scary thought occured in Ryota's head, since there was only one explanation for why Monokuma wasn't surprised about then finding out about such vital information….he'd be expecting this all along.

"You're not going to punish us?" Kimura asked additionally.

"Nope! There's no rule about finding out about anything ahead of the expected time, though I am a little surprised you bastards were able to inform Alter Ego and Togami-kun ahead of time," the teddy bear smiled.

"How did you know about that!?" Naegi exclaimed.

"Wait...did you know about that the whole time!?" Ryota gasped.

"Upupupu…" Monokuma laughed. "Well, Mitarai-kun, you gotta wake up pretty early to pull the wool over my eyes. I'm smarter than the average bear y'know."

Just when they thought that hope finally triumphed in this game, evidently Monokuma had to come and shatter that hope into millions of pieces and replace it with despair. Ryota couldn't possibly imagine that they would walk away from this situation unscathed, even if they weren't being punished for finding out that information, Monokuma would never simply let them communicate with Alter Ego anymore.

Monokuma unsheathed, already looking rather angry about things, he slowly walked over to the participants and made quite a menacing entrance for such a small bear. "I won't tolerate those who try and throw a monkey wrench in my, do you know what I'm gonna do now?"

Ryota averted his eyes, he simply couldn't look. The only thing rummaging through his mind is the type of severe punishment that everyone would face, and worse of all, what would be inflicted on Gekkogahara for being the one who intercept those conversations.


Or, maybe not. "Wait? What did you just say?" Ryota blinked repeatedly, unable to figure out if the bear actually said that or if everything was just in his head.

"You're not going to do anything?" Bandai asked in bewilderment.

"Really, you're not going to do anything?" Kimura followed.

"Nah, there wouldn't be any fun in that! I've already executed Alter Ego-kun once, doing it a second time would be too unoriginal, so I'm gonna let you bastards off the hook!" Monokuma replied.

"Really?" Sakakura raised an eyebrow, "That seems way too easy, so what's the catch?"

"Nope, there's no catch!" the monochromatic bear waved his hand in denial. "Even if you bastards find out every rinky dink piece of information inside this building, it still doesn't change the fact that you're all trapped like carrots and can't do a single thing about it."

" the end I get the final laugh, so HAHAHAHAHA!" Monokuma began childishly laughing.

"Perhaps, you are correct in that aspect, Monokuma." Munakata said, finally deciding to speak a single sentence after being silent for such a long time. "Memory erasure. A fabricated building. The Mirai Holocaust. That doesn't change a single thing, because in the end any of these despairs can and will eventually lead us down the path to hope."

"Munakata-san, what're you saying?" Ryota immediately felt nervous being around that man, even taking a moment to step a little further away.

"I'm saying that in order to escape from this building and actually successfully thwart Monokuma's plan, then we're going to need to vanquish all traces of despair in this very building," the Ultimate Student Council President explained, giving the animator a sinister expression. "And therefore our top priority should be finding out exactly who Killer Killer is."

Chapter Text

Killer Killer. Just saying the name was already enough to drive the always unnerving chill down Ryota's spine in an instant, it was just his luck. Of course, it couldn't have just been Yukizome that singlehandedly infiltrated the building, someone had to have assisted her, but that didn't really make it any better.

Ryota was racking his brain trying to figure out who the identity of Killer Killer could be. If their memories really have been erased by Monokuma, then who's to say that he wasn't the serial killer in question?

Gekkogahara realized they weren't getting anywhere by relying on mere speculation and decided to consult Alter Ego for any potential new information. Thankfully Monokuma seemed to have kept his word about refusing to interfere with them contacting outside sources, and if Alter Ego was able to find out vital information about the killing game in general, then perhaps he could find out even more.

"Killer Killer?" Alter Ego blinked, he looked a bit nervous to give out the information, though Ryota believed that he was still uneasy after hearing more information about the killing game. "I'm sorry, but there isn't any information regarding that serial killer anywhere in my data banks."

"Does that mean the identity of Killer Killer really is anonymous?" Ryota wondered.

"'s not only that, Mitarai-kun," Alter Ego corrected hesitantly. "It's information about the entire killing game as a whole. I'm not quite sure what building you're being kept in, though most of the information from The New Revolution's main computer have been heavily restricted, I can only find limited information."

Ryota quirked an eyebrow, Alter Ego's words would've been an easy way to leave him downcast, however he tried to rally up some of the confidence he could occasionally shed. "Okay, but are there any ways to bypass their computer and find out more?"

Alter Ego nodded. "Yes, there's one possibly way, but it's risky. If you can successfully locate the main computer of The New Revolution somewhere in this building and have Aunty Miaya transmit my data into that computer, I'll be able to bypass the firewall and hack into the main computer, giving you all the information needed to uncover the mysteries of this killing game."

"Is that really a good idea? Don't you guys remember what happened the last time?" Asahina asked, indicating Naegi and Kirigiri. "What if Monokuma finds discovers Alter Ego and crushes him with a bulldozer again?"

"But, Monokuma said that he didn't have any intention of interfering with Alter Ego anymore, so maybe there won't be anything stopping us from doing so." Naegi pointed out.

"What if he's just lying so we can slip up?" Asahina suggested. "This could just be a trick so that we could break one of his rules."

"The rules don't forbid us from communicating with outsiders, if Monokuma's really lying about his word then we wouldn't have any way of knowing," Kirigiri replied. "For now, I agree with Naegi-kun, the best chance we have at escaping the building without any more unnecessary casualties is to seek Alter Ego-kun's help in any way possible."

"How are we supposed to hack Alter Ego-san in the main computer in the first place? We're not even sure where the main computer is supposed to be," Ryota pointed out. "If we're in an entirely new building from where we started then it could be anywhere."

"You're right, but if we can uncover the identity of Killer Killer like Monokuma mentioned in that motive, then he'll be more likely to unlock the lower floor," Naegi eagerly and confidently suggested. "And we won't even have to think about surviving the game by killing each other."

"We won't?" Ryota blinked. That almost sounded far too good to be true, almost like an illusion or a pipe dream. Then again, this was Naegi and he always sounded so confident about achieving his goal, and he was the same person that managed to survive the previous killing game and defeat the Ultimate Despair.

"Okay, but where should we start looking for this Killer Killer peson anyway?" Asahina wondered.

In the nick of time, Gekkogahara shut off Alter Ego and switched back to her Monomi avatar to answer the Ultimate Swimmer's question. "I'm sure that if we find Izayoi-kun he'd probably be able to help us with this dilemma."

"Izayoi? What for?" Asahina replied.

Monomi scratched her ear. "Izayoi-kun was already involved in the previous case for Killer Killer, the one that regarded Hijirihara-kun, so that means if anyone has information on who could be responsible for this, it's definitely him." Gekkogahara typed across her keyboard.

"That's great. If we can find Izayoi-kun then he'll probably give us some help," Naegi stated. "I'll see if I can find him, he'll probably be wherever Ando-san is."

"Naegi, wouldn't that cause trouble? Ando-chan's pretty careful about who she trusts, and with Izayoi around too, things aren't really any better. What if they don't trust us, or think we're Killer Killer?" Asahina reminded him.

They started contemplating what to do next until out of the blue Gekkogahara said, "What about Mitarai-kun? He's not affiliated with the 78th Class and therefore could gather the information without being suspected."

Ryota instantly shook his head in denial. "No, I don't really think that could work. I mean, I wouldn't even know where to start on seeking out Ando-san and Izayoi-san. And wouldn't you have a better chance anyway, Gekkogahara-san?"

Monomi shook her head. "Sorry Mitarai-kun, but I need to continue monitoring Alter Ego-kun and keeping tabs on Togami-kun until we're able to find a way to access the main computer. I wouldn't really be able to help that much."

"Then in that case, I'll just stay here with Gekkogahara-chan," Asahaina volunteered. "I don't really trust Monokuma, he could be trying to trick us again."

"I've already decided that I won't be staying here, if Monokuma's telling the truth, then we're really in a different building which means there's so much inside these walls that we know nothing about," Kirigiri affirmed.

Ryota was defeated. He was initially hesitant about seeking help from Izayoi because of his fear of only making things worse, though he realized that all of his friends were doing everything in their power to stop Monokuma and end this killing game once and for all, and that was his goal as well, so he decided to buckle down and agree with them in that aspect.

With that, everyone once again went their separate ways, with Ryota in particular trying his best to explore the floor in an attempt to locate Izayoi. When it came to the Ultimate Blacksmith, he practically knew the bare minimum, only hearing the man speak for a few small occasions: being mostly protective to his girlfriend or eating her delicious confections.

According to an article from Future Foundation Ryota once scrolled across before; he'd been a descendant of the renowned Izayoi Clan who have been eminent in the art of blacksmiths for the generations and showed no signs of stopping, well at least before the Tragedy began.

Surprisingly, the library of all places was where Ryota could eventually find the aforementioned blacksmith peacefully resting on the couch, accompanied by his girlfriend as usual. Ryota had only made a single step before the blacksmith rummaged through his coat and flung a knife at him, barely missing the animator who managed to dodge.

"Look what the cat dragged in. What're you doing here Mitarai?" Ando sassed. "Shouldn't you be hanging out with Naegi or something?"

"That first one was just a warning shot, the next one won't be, now state your business or I'll do something you'll regret." Izayoi threatened.

He took the warning to heart and stepped back a few feet, it was quite obvious by the pink haired girls hastiness that something was definitely going on. Ando seemed even more irritable than usual, it seemed like the Killer Killer motive was a good way to bring paranoia back into everyone's mind.

Well, good for Monokuma at least.

Ryota planted his feet at a respectful distance, feeling much safer away from any of the blacksmith's weapons. "I'm here all by myself. I came here because there's something specifically that I wanted to talk about with Izayoi-san. If that's alright with you?"

Ando and Izayoi looked at each other for a couple seconds, for what Ryota could only perceive as them somehow having a mental conversation with one another, eventually the former nodded and darted back to the Ultimate Animator.

"And what would that be?" Ando raised an eyebrow, "Are you plotting a betrayal against us or something?"

He stiffened, a bit taken back by her overbearing question, and wondering why he even required Ando's permission to talk to Izayoi in the first place. "No, nothing like that. I just came to ask Izayoi-kun if he could help me investigate and uncover the identity of Killer Killer. Gekkogahara-san told me that he's pretty knowledgeable about that kind of stuff."

"Hmm. You mean if Yoi-chan helps you figure out all this crazy Killer Killer stuff then we'll get out of this place?" Ando asked, twiddling with the fur on her coat. "If that's true, then go right ahead."

"I—I can?" the animator blinked. He was getting ready to mentally prepare a rebuttal or argument against her and attempt to convince her to say otherwise, but shockingly she went along easier than he expected.

"What do you want that in writing?" Ando sarcastically raised an eyebrow. "If it means we can escape this hell hole then you can borrow Yoi-chan for whatever you need. But, there's a certain condition you'll need to fulfill before we can agree."

The confectioner's scowl transformed into a smirk. "Once you're done, you'll have to eat some of my sweets."

Her sweets? It seemed like the perfect time since Ryota legitimately couldn't remember the last time he'd eaten today, between the colossal information that Togami delivered to them and exploring the building find the identity of the serial killer, he barely had time to even consider eating. Sure, junk food wasn't exactly the most healthy thing to consume, though his previously reclusive lifestyles made it feel somewhat familiar to him.

"—But, I don't really have any sweets at the moment, so I'm just gonna have to make a fresh batch of sweets some other time." Ando continued speaking.

"And I'll be there to make sure you keep the end of your bargain, I can't accept anyone who refuses the taste of Ruruka's dewicious sweets." Izayoi furthered the deal by drawing another knife from his coat.

Dewicious? Ryota felt being an animator probably made him apprehensive about precision, because he really wanted to question why Izayoi had trouble mispronouncing that of all words, especially since he normally speaks in such a monotone and serious voice, though he wasn't about to get on the bad side of someone that was threatening him with a knife.

Without much of an idea on where to proceed next, Ryota mostly followed wherever Izayoi was going in the library, which was difficult since the stoic man hadn't said a word or given any kind of indication that he was going anywhere, with Ryota being forced to follow his on insinsitcs. The two stopped at what Ryota assumed was their destination as Izayoi began taking multiple books of the shelves and placing them on the nearest desk.

He unfortunately cringed after seeing some of the graphic and violent book covers, confirming that Izayoi was indeed showing him books based on serial killers.

It appeared that Izayoi was far too engrossed in skimming through the books to pay attention anymore, almost like he were engulfed in his own little world. Ryota felt he wasn't really doing anything, nor was he actually learning valuable information that could assist them.

Out of pure instinct, Ryota felt it would be good to break the ice with him. "Izayoi-san. I've heard that you're pretty knowledgeable about serial killers, Gekkogahara-san kinda told me this kind of stuff was right up your alley."

The Ultimate Blacksmith didn't take his eyes away from the book, taking his time to answer the question as he flipped through all the pages. "Yes. When I'm away from managing the distribution of weapons, the Future Foundation regularly recommends that I keep tabs on all criminal activity in the vicinity."

Truth be told, that was the first time Ryota had even heard Izayoi deliver less than a few short sentences, for that instance it nearly felt like he was talking to a completely different person. Part of him still felt that a single slip-up of words would result in the blacksmith refusing to help him, or even worse, bringing harm to him at Ando's request.

Ryota gulped, he couldn't blow this otherwise their chances of ending the killing game could potentially end. "Well, are there any stories that particularly take your interest."

"Genocide Jack," Izayoi answered promptly. "Out of all the cases that I've researched, Genocide Jack is the one that I still can't begin comprehend. Why Tengan would accept them into the Future Foundation despite their obvious background as a merciless serial killer?"

Ryota felt rather shocked, it just went to show he didn't know nearly enough about Chairman Tengan as he believed he did. Was it really alright to accept a serial killer into the foundation? Then again, he also took into account that he was friends with the Remnants of Despair and therefore should probably not think too much about Tengan's decision.

"Do you think Genocide Jack would know anything about Killer Killer?" Ryota questioned.

"It's not for me to say. With the information that I've gathered about Killer Killer, they're notorious for always being creating passionate murders, and nothing else," Izayoi elaborated. "The latest incarnation of Killer Killer was infamous for creating gruesome and overly brutal murders, the 6th Division apparently had their hands full with the large amount of cleaning up after the several deaths of victims."

Ryota gulped and muttered, "I wonder if someone like that would be happening with the Mirai Holocaust...I would hope not."

He wondered if Izayoi heard the comment he muttered under his breath, though the blacksmith appeared far too engrossed in explaining the serial killer that he wasn't even paying any attention to him. "Killer Killer is strange compared to most serial killers, the crimes they commit are never for the fake of despair, only for their pure enjoyment, and that's what makes them even more dangerous."

"A person that kills for their own enjoyment?" the only person that Ryota could possibly think of that fit that description was Enoshima, that would mean whoever this person is could possibly be as menacing as the Ultimate Despair herself. "C-Could someone like that even exist in the Future Foundation?"

If that's the case, that could possibly mean the new Killer Killer's actions could possibly be even worse than what Yukizome did to Tengan, and that's what worried Ryota the most. "Izayoi-san, do you really think it's possible that one of the division leaders could be Killer Killer? Or even Naegi-san or Asahina-san?"

Izayoi crossed his arms in contemplation. "I do have some theories, but none of them are concrete answers. Not than I'm worried or anything — Monokuma can't keep this charade on forever, in due time the answer will become clear to us."

"Really you think so?" the animator gasped. That sentence completely surprised Ryota for so many reasons; Izayoi was Ando's boyfriend so the last thing he'd ever expect was for the blacksmith to say something so optimistic, or not instantly resort to finding someone he could call out for betrayal. Then again, he's never actually heard Izayoi even speak his opinion on the killing game as a whole because he's too busy protecting Ando.

"I detect a hint of uncertainty in your tone, do you not trust my judgement?" Izayoi raised an eyebrow.

The Ultimate Animator shook his head in denial. "No, it's not that. It's just...I never expected you to be this knowledgeable about serial killers, I probably never wouldn't bothered to think about those kinds of topics."

With his collected eyebrows furrowed, the blonde blacksmith follow suit with a nod. "Yes, I have noticed that myself. You're what the Izayoi Clan would call a 'herbivore', and I'm not quite sure I understand you. You were brave enough to uncover the truth of Tengan's murder, and still need my assistance for something so minuscule?"

That was pretty upfront… Ryota thought in his head, only physically responding with a few nervous chuckles. "Izayoi-san you've mentioned your clan a few times, I remember reading your clan predated back to the Tokugawa Period in the 1600s and are still making weapons to this day. You seem really passionate about your family name."

The blacksmith nodded. "Rightfully so. All members of the Izayoi Family must be passionate and ambitious about all things they partake in. In fact all members of the clan are required to fluently read all forms of Japanese writing, forge thirty weapons, and master multiple forms of self defense before they turn twenty years old."

"All that before they become twenty!?" Ryota gasped, "That's inhumane, is something like that even possible."

"That's quite an understandable reaction from the person can call themselves a proud member from our clan unless they fulfill those requirements before reaching adulthood." Izayoi deadpanned.

That was indisputably a lot of information to take in and it seemed like Izayoi was very hard-working and possibly even managed to fulfill those requirements, Ryota felt a little jealous since he's had a history of struggling with deadlines while working on his animations, however, that only made him curious on exactly what Izayoi did for fun whenever he wasn't protecting his girlfriend or trying to fulfill a birthright.

"Ummmm...Izayoi-san? Have you ever watched any animations?"

The Ultimate Blacksmith didn't respond for a moment, making Ryota wonder if he was asking the correct question, since animations were something he liked. "No. Not once."

"Oh, I understand." Ryota said, "Well are there any other things you did outside of forging weapons? Like maybe watching TV or reading books?"

Izayoi nonchalantly flipped through the next few pages. "No," he once again said uncharacteristically. "It's imperative that all members of the Izayoi Clan don't waste their time with worldly distractions, everyday we must be vigilante and improve our skills in any possible way."

"Don't you think that sounds a little too strict? I mean, was there ever a time where you could just smile and just enjoy yourself?" Ryota gasped. He never would've guessed that Izayoi would have such a strict upbringing, animation was such an important part of culture and many kids around the world were raised on watching animation, yet Izayoi mentions that he's never watched one.

At that moment, the Ultimate Blacksmith dropped his book onto the table, genuinely beginning to think. "My father once mentioned emotions are merely just baggage — my happiest memories were the times I spent with Ruruka, back when we were children."

Ryota's eyebrows raised, feeling intrigued, in all honest he found it rather surprising since Ando was usually bitter and mistrusting to everyone she met, "You knew Ando-san back when you were a kid?"

Izayoi nodded. "The two of us first met in elementary school. I was all by myself until one day, Ruruka came and gave me a dewicious cream puffs...I'll never forget the taste, I had never eaten something so sweet before in my life."

In all of his six years, to say that Sonosuke ever had a worthwhile day of his life was the biggest understatement of the year. Since the very moment of his birth, the tradition of the Izayoi Clan was permanently etched into his heart — become a substantial blacksmith, excel at everything to partake in, and never allow yourself to succumb to worldly distractions.

Entertainment, friendship, emotions.

According to his mother and father, those were things that didn't matter in life, they were distractions

that only prevented him from upholding his family legacy, especially since his mother always warned him that attempting to turn against his family would result in being haunted by the Namahage.

On the first day of elementary school, Sonosuke made sure he took that information to heart. If it didn't accurately benefit the sake of the Izayoi Family then there wasn't any point in ever spending time with his fellow classmates.

While the other students were continuously spend their time eating lunch together or cleaning the classrooms as a group, Sonosuke only stood alone in the corner like a bystander, taking his time to carve wood into the perfect shape of a kunai.

He lasted that way for several weeks, until one day, for a peculiar reason that he still couldn't comprehend, Sonosuke was approached by a lively young girl with short pink and a big strawberry hair clip on her head.

In the her hand, she playfully carried two small puppies in her hands — Sonosuke could easily recognize them as the Shiba Inu breed, courtesy of the teachings he received from his family.

"Hi! What're you doing?" the girl greeted. Sonosuke was prepared for the girl to say a lot of things, though he never expected her to greet him, let alone in such a carefree way.

This was the first time one of the other kids actually talked to Sonosuke, he hadn't the slightest clue on what he was supposed to do next. "I'm carving wood," he simply responded.

"You're carving...wood? What does that mean?" she blinked in confusion.

Sonosuke nodded, presenting his big chunk of wood to the girl. "Whenever you're making a wooden kunai. Father always says it's important to remove the excess pieces of wood 'cuz that'll help readjust the blade, then finish the weapon by—"

"Err...I'm not really sure what you're talking about..." the girl responded in astonishment, then she giggled a bit. "But, you sure are funny!"

Funny? Such a weird choice of words used to describe a person like him, he'd never produced a single sentence that could even be considered remotely funny. What could this mean? Maybe, this girl was actually just teasing him or something? That's the only logical explanation, after all, not a single person ever bothered talking to him before today.

He couldn't help but notice how the girl was carrying two puppies in her arms, that seemed pretty strange. " you have those puppies? I thought pets were allowed in school."

"I dunno. Guess it's just more fun that way! These two are Fuji-chan and Heiwa-chan, I take them everywhere!" the girl said charistmatically, "I really love puppies and other cute animals too! So my mom got me two of them."

Her happiness didn't last long, she lowered her head with desolation. "It's too bad they're not allowed to eat any of my sweets, they get sick whenever they do."

"Sweets? What are those?" Sonosuke asked.

"What!? You really don't know what sweets are? They're like, the most delicious foods ever created, and you've really never had one?" she gasped. Sonosuke didn't really know how to respond and simply shook his head, if sweets were a type of food then he's definitely never heard of them. His family mostly ate meat and fermented vegetables, so maybe this was the same?

The pink haired girl reached into sachel and brought out a small round pastry. "Here, you gotta try one of my cream puffs! They're really good!"

Sonosuke wasn't sure what this girl was attempting to get him to eat. Was this some kind of threat or trap? Was there actually some kind of dangerous specimen inside this supposed cream puff? Regardless, he decided to eat the food, and for the first time ever, his eyes grew wider.

This was so much different from eating fermented vegetables, the taste of the cream puff practically melted and danced around in his mouth, he couldn't possibly fathom the delectable taste.

"You're right...this is...dewicious." Sonosuke gasped, a faint smile appeared on his face.

The girl giggled again at his reaction. "You're pretty funny, but I like you. By the way, my name's Ando Ruruka, what about you?"

He barely missed her introduction because he'd been far too focused on the delicious taste of the cream puff. "I'm Izayoi Sonosuke."

"—Ruruka and I became best friends after that, the two of us eventually fell in love later down the line," Izayoi continued with his story. "We attended every single school together after our first meeting, then Kizakura came and scouted us for Hope's Peak Academy, and I assume you know the rest."

Ryota had the displeasure of nodding. "The Tragedy happened, and then eventually this killing game happened too. But, what about Ando-san, was she your first friend?"

"She was my only friend. Is my only friend," Izayoi abruptly corrected himself. "When the two of us initiated a romantic relationship, my parents were strictly against the idea. They didn't agree with me having romantic attachments with her and were insistent that I romance with some who they approve of."

"I guess I kinda know how you feel, Izayoi-san," Ryota openly admitted. "Back when I was a kid, my dad always was against the idea of me watching animations, and there were so many times where he tried to get rid of it from me."

Izayoi nodded. "True. And while my family will force certain aspects and lifestyles on me, that doesn't inherently mean I'll have to force myself to partake in them."

There was something Ryota promptly began to notice; while Ando is bitter and cold to just about everyone she meets, it was clear that she brought out the best of Izayoi and made him feel much better since her upbeat and happy-go-lucky attitude was a vast contrast from what he was normally used to in his own families traditions.

Izayoi Sonosuke was the toughest to read in contrast to his fellow Future Foundation members, with a tough exterior and aloof nature, it proved difficult to determine his every thought since he was less boisterous and lively.

He appears very loyal and content on living at the values of other people, whether they be for his family's sake or his girlfriend's sake, even if he didn't entirely agree with them in the first place. It was only normal for Ryota to wonder exactly what Izayoi desired out of life, and what he really wanted to achieve?

Did he really enjoy eating Ando's confections? Did he really want to be a member of his families clan? Did he even want to be the a blacksmith?

Perhaps someday Ryota would be able to determine exactly what the Ultimate Blacksmith truly desired out of life.

All things considered, Ryota felt he grew a little closer to Izayoi.

Chapter Text

"Greetings, my precious employees! It's nighttime, so lights out bastards! Tomorrow's another beautiful day in The Final Killing Game, and I need you all bright eyed and bushy tailed for the next murder!"

Ten o' clock already. It felt like time flew exponentially faster ever since this whole killing game started, Ryota knew time was supposed to fly whenever you were having fun, but he wouldn't exactly know what to call this. Despite that, the blonde animator chose to call it a night for once, managing to locate a notebook from the library to write down all the information about Killer Killer.

When Gekkogahara said that Izayoi was an expert on serial killers Ryota didn't know that she wasn't completely serious, as he found himself filling his freshly opened notebook with at least eight pages when he was finished.

The fact that a member of the Future Foundation was actually a dangerous serial killer was bad enough, though if someone else in this building was a serial killer was possibly even worse for Ryota. He soon realized that stressing over things wouldn't be getting him anywhere, and completely forgot that he promised to attend therapy sessions with Gekkogahara everyday at this hour.

What was arguably the most surprising for Ryota was that he actually managed to arrive to Gekkogahara's office on her given time, and already found himself welcomed by the blue-haired therapist.

Monomi gave the animator a wave. "Hey, Mitarai-kun. Looks like you've arrived on time today. How's your progress with finding out the identity of Killer Killer, did Izayoi-kun give you any crucial information?"

Ryota looked at his notebook, and nodded. "Yeah, we still haven't found out their identity in this building, but he still told me more about Killer Killer's love for passionate murders. But, what about you guys, did you locate the main computer yet?"

Gekkogahara shook her head. "No, we haven't found anything yet. It seems like that place isn't available on the floor, we'll just have to look somewhere else," then a smile developed on Monomi's face. "But that shouldn't mean we should give up just yet, right? There has to be a computer somewhere in this place that could help us."

The skittish animator sat down on the couch and patiently waited for Gekkogahara to start preparing her notes and after a while the therapist said, "Anyway I digress. I'm free for the remainder of that night, so if there's anything at all that you would like to talk about, don't hesitate to ask."

Ryota had a lot of things on his mind, though he felt talking about too many things would overwhelm Gekkogahara. That's when something really hit him, he remembered a specific detail that she mentioned when asking why she was so interested in someone like him.

He licked his dry lips. "There's something that I've been meaning to ask for a few days now, though I'm not exactly sure if it's okay."

"Mitarai-kun, I'm a therapist. No matter what you say, I promise I'll never laugh, be angry, of disclose any information to any outside of this room," Gekkogahara happily assured him. "I wouldn't talk even if Monokuma threatened me to do so."

" mentioned before that I remind you of how you used to be before you came the Ultimate Therapist. If you don't mind me asking, what did you mean by that?"

Monomi's ears sprung upwards, Gekkogahara's eyes widened a little as well, appearing visibly taken back at his question. "Oh. I wasn't really expecting you to ask that kind of question. None of my clients have really asked a personal question like that before."

Ryota gasped. "I'm sorry. I wasn't trying to ask anything too personal, if you don't wanna answers that's fine—"

"There's no need to apologize. I wasn't mad or anything, just a little surprised to hear something like that." Gekkogahara replied. "The reason I compared myself to you, is because you reminded me of myself before I enrolled in Hope's Peak Academy."

Her keyboard typing became more slow and quiet. "That day seemed rather ordinary, though I was unaware of what was in store for me. I was just a kid, only eleven years old, and found myself in a terrible car accident when trying to cross the street."

After a brief pause, she starting typing again. "Everything went blank after that. But I remember waking up in an ICU a few days later, my memories of that circumstance are pretty foggy, but I remembered a doctor telling my parents that I had a severe spinal cord injury."

"Gosh, I'm sorry." Ryota apologized, Gekkogahara's eyes lightened up a little from his genuine condolences.

"It seemed like everything changed after that. When I first received my wheelchair, all my classmates started treating my like an entirely different person than before, even though I was still the same Miaya as before," the therapist continued.

"They used to say things like...I'm an inspiration or they would talk about how strong I was for managing so much in spite of my disability," Gekkogahara said. "For a period of time, I felt flattered by their consideration, but then I realized they were only being patronizing to make them seem like better people."

That hit Ryota, he felt it was something he could relate to himself with all the bullying he's experienced. "That sounds terrible! If those people didn't actually care, then they're no different than being bullies."

"You're right, it's just a different form of bullying, regardless of whether it was their intention or not," Gekkogahara nodded. "After that, then I started feeling really sad and depressed, I wouldn't even talk to my parents, or anyone else for that matter. It was because of the support of many of my clients that I was able to get my confidence back."

"You mean, you and your clients were mutually helping each other out?" Ryota asked. He found that intersting since he's never really heard therapist's who've had mutual connections with their clients, and even wondered if his friendship with Gekkogahara was the same in some regard.

The Ultimate Therapist nodded. "Sometime down the line, I met Kizakura-san and he eventually scouted me for Hope's Peak Academy like the rest of us. Of course...not every day was good, and even now I sometimes have regrets on how I could've prevented things."

"I know how that feels. I've always been thinking about how I could prevented this when I first met Enoshima and what would've happened if we never crossed paths before. Being stuck in this killing game really hasn't made things any better," Ryota lamented.

"Yeah, I remember you mentioning that the other day. Mitarai-kun, if you don't mind me asking," Gekkogahara started typing on her keyboard. "How did you meet Enoshima Jukno in the first place?"

His eyebrows raised slightly, now the tables had turned and Gekkogahara asked him a question that he wasn't expecting. No one's ever asked him how he's met Enoshima before, then again, he's never really talked about it to anyone before.

Ryota place a finger to his chin, trying to recall the painful memories of everything that happened. " started during my second year at Hope's Peak, I didn't really attend classes because I wanted to work on making the perfect animation…"

He specifically remembered paying a visit to the school hospital, barely able to count how many trips he's made their since enrolling in Hope's Peak Academy. Not that it really mattered to him in the first place, as long as that meant creating the perfect animation to spread hope throughout the world then nothing else matters.

In the front of Ryota's mind was always his status in the 77th Class, he'd been enrolled in that class for a whole year and yet hasn't interacted with a single one of his classmates. Admittedly, he felt a tad jealous after seeing their Halloween party, skiing trip, and beach pictures on the school website, of course he wanted to bond with the rest of his classmates, though he believed that shouldn't get the better of him.

More than anything, what should be the most important to Ryota is that his animation is top-notch and capable of making others happy, if he could successfully do that then bonding with his friends wouldn't even matter.

Right before he had the chance of entering the hospital's automatic doors, a slender feminine hand grabbed Ryota from behind, nearly choking him in the process with their long fake nails and spinning him around to meet each other's view.

This person — a girl about Ryota's age, to be more specific, appeared to be the textbook example of what a Japanese gyaru looked like; her strawberry blonde pigtails, short red skirt, and platform boots were obvious dead giveaways.

Her lively blue eyes were virtually glued onto Ryota, if her firm grip to his collar was enough, then her analytical eyes watching him like a hawk definitely wasn't making him feel any better. What business would he have with her in the first place? Girls almost never talk to someone like him, let alone a high school gyaru like her.

"W-What?" Ryota managed to ask nervously, he could feel even more embarrassed because of the warmth that filled his cheeks, she wasn't undeniably quite attractive and he'd never really interacted with too many girls of his age. "Can I help you?"

She blinked. "What's your name?"

"I'm...Mitarai Ryota. Have we met before?"

Much to his absolute shock and surprise, the girl instantly reacted by wrapping her arms around Ryota in a tight hug and repeatedly bouncing him up and down. "Yeess! Of course, you're the same Mitarai Ryota-senpai that's my upper classmate! This may sound kinda weird, but...for some reason in my head I keep hearing the words…"

She leaned in closer, whispering into his ear: "The Ultimate Fateful Encounter."

The Ultimate Fateful Encounter? What could that possibly have meant? Ryota hadn't talked to a single student since he enrolled in this school, and as far as he was concerned the 77th  Class wasn't even aware of his absence, so it didn't make sense how she could have possibly heard of him.

"Junko-chan, are you okay?!" exclaimed another girl who rushed forward, her short black hair and freckles were a huge contrast from the other girl's energetic and outgoing appearance, her head instantly jerked over to Ryota and was already giving him a menacing stare. "Is he giving you any trouble?"

"How bout' getting off your soapbox for once you pig faced neanderthal? The adults are talking!" the blonde gave the other girl a death stare to indicate her solemnity, with the latter blushing innocently and obeying the blonde's orders as she steps back.

He managed to slide free from the strawberry blonde's grip. "Umm, I'm sorry, but may I ask who you are?"

"You don't know who I am?" the girl gave a big toothy grin, throwing up a peace sign in the process. "I'm Enoshima Junko, the Ultimate Fashionista. Charmed, I'm sure."

She also dispassionately flicked her thumb over to the strange black haired girl that was standing behind them. "AND, that flat-chested, knuckle-dragging deviant over there is my sorry-excuse-for a sister, Ikusaba Mukuro, the Ultimate Soldier."

The name Enoshima Junko definitely had a familiar ring to it, he vaguely remembered skimming through a magazine with her face on it and assumed that she must have been a famous model or something. That much made sense, a lot of famous people seem to be enrolling in this school, like Togami Byakuya and the Princess of the Novoselic Kingdom.

Ikusaba on the other hand, wasn't exactly giving off the same charismatic aura that Enoshima was providing to the Ultimate Animator, she appeared to make it very obvious that she didn't like it and almost looked like she wanted to attack him at any given moment. Ryota felt it was better to steer clear of her.

"Hey, Mitarai-senpai, let me ask you something!" Enoshima smiled. "If that uniform's anything to go by, then you're definitely a Hope's Peak Academy student just like me! So, how bout' giving a girl the deets, what kind of awesome talent are you hiding within?"

"Well...I'm the Ultimate Animator." Ryota murmured.

Enoshima's face dropped straight into a frown of utter disappointment. "Really? They actually let people in for a talent like that? I mean—sure, I liked animation when I was like five years old or whatever...but aren't you a little too old for that stuff?"

"What? You think animation is just for kids?" Ryota asked.

She began smugly smiling. "Well duh. I mean, it's not like you're the Ultimate Neurologist or Ultimate Analyst or whatever. A useless talent like animation would never be able to get you anywhere in life, after all."

Her complacency almost indicated that she was deliberately trying to taunt them, regardless he downright refused to let someone degrade his passion in such a way. "That's wrong! Animation is an important part of our culture! It's existed for many generations and has spread happiness throughout so many people, not just kids!"

The strawberry blonde laughed, giving her aloof sister a nudge. "Awww...look at him tremble! The mini-Miyazaki's face is already turning red just cause I dissed his precious kid shows!"

"If you saw my project you wouldn't have the room to laugh like that!" the Ultimate Animator barked, he was dead set on explaining to Enoshima a big lecture on why animation is better than she thinks, at least until she grabbed Ryota by the collar once more and pulled him even closer.

Her blue eyes narrowed. "Okay...then show it to me."

In a moment's time Ryota already found himself back in the school's old dorm, completely forgetting he only visited the hospital due to overworking himself, additionally letting Enoshima and Ikusaba into his room to see his animation. Being a stickler to the rules, Ryota wouldn't normally let a female enter the male's dorm since it could be considered harassment, but at the same time he couldn't just let someone belittle his passion in such an offensive way.

Several minutes passed. Enoshima's eyes were glued to the screen, as she did nothing but observe the film that was repeatedly looping on Ryota's video player.

"So, what's the verdict?" Ryota leaned forward. He realized that Enoshima hadn't said a single sentence since she started watching the video, he started to even wonder if she simply disliked his animated film and simply wasn't going to even spare him her opinion. "I mean, a good amount of it's still a working progress, some of it's just line art, it might not be as good as I wanted it—"

"That...was...BEAUTIFUL!" the Ultimate Fashionista hollered, a large amount of tears started to pour from almost at cue, Ryota felt concerned about this, but she was still smiling nonetheless. "Mitarai-senpai, you've totally helped me see the error of my ways! I take back everything I've said about animation!"

"In the vein, out with the old, and in with the new! I'm gonna help you by getting rid of this dumpster-fire animation!" she said, and suddenly, Enoshima whipped a baseball bat out of who-knows-where and started making careless swings at the many DVD's that filled his many bookcases, until it amounted to a pile of rubble on the ground.

Inevitably, this caused Ryota to let out a shriek of surprise. "Enoshima-san, wait! What're you doing to my collection!" he attempted to kneel down and salvage some of the movies he could find on the ground, he could barely hold onto the shock from that excursion before Ikusaba grabbed his shoulder with score eyes, dripping nose, and an unhealthy amount of tears

"Ikusaba-san, what happened to you?!" the blonde animator was close to tripping over his own feet at the sight.

Enoshima just finished grinding in the remaining movies in Ryota's collection with her boots when she heard his scream. "She's been moved by your animation too! Who knew that cookie cutter's knew how to properly emote? But, enough about her, I've still got tons more questions!"

She traced her finger to Ryota's computer monitor, which had been playing his short film in an infinite loop for the past several minutes. "This isn't your average animated film, right? Spill it, you put a little somethin' somethin' in there, huh?"

"Huh? What do you mean? I'm not really sure what you're talking about," Ryota blinked. "If you're talking about how I could convey different emotions through my animation, that can be done with specific camera angles, precise musical choices, and general tone of the film. It's all for the sake of created an animation that could make the world a better place."

Out of unexpected excitement, Enoshima brutally kicked her sister onto the ground, causing Ryota to shriek in shock. "Small world! I was just thinking to myself that I wanna make the world a better place too!"

"Really?" the Ultimate Animator asked in disbelief.

Enoshima nodded vigorously. "Heck yeah! That magnum opus you've got there is a force to be reckoned with. If an anime has the unpredictable powers to make someone head over heels, then shouldn't this be shown to the world? That's why I have a proposal for you, Mitarai-senpai."

"If you keep dishing out these animations for me to watch, then I'll give you something in return," she smirked. Ryota couldn't figure out what she was referring to, since all he really wanted was to create an animated film that would make others happy. That was until she reached brought out a photograph of high school students.

No, these aren't just any ordinary high school students. Ryota instantly recognized this colorful group of people from the screenshots on the school's official website — the 77th Class of Hope's Peak Academy. The same class that he's supposed to be attending right now.

Enoshima kept flashing the photograph right in front of his face. "How about it, Mitarai-senpai? If you keep cooking up those souped up animations you got, then I'd be more than happy to introduce you to the rest of your classmates."

A dead like this seemed to good to be true, part of him felt this was probably a trick of Enoshima's part to pull off a grander scheme. What could that get him expelled? To take credit for his work? The more he began to think about it, the less it actually made sense. Perhaps he was being too paranoid?

After all, Enoshima also promised to introduce Ryota to his fellow classmates and all he needed to do was create animations that were "unpredictable", whatever that meant.

Ryota smiled and nodded, "Okay", he replied with a bit more confidence in his tone.

Several hours had passed after parting ways with Enoshima and Ikusaba, where Ryota could only guess that those two presumably returned back to their homeroom in the 78th  Class. With that, he believed now was a better time than ever to return back to the drawing board and think of potential ways he could make his animation film more interesting.

It became increasingly more difficult to continue even draw a simple frame since now he hadn't eaten or slept in nearly a day. It didn't help that there was still much more to do: line art, animating, coloring, voice acting, music. There was still so much that needed to be done before creating the perfect animation.

"No...I've gotta stay awake, I've gotta make the perfect animation," Ryota muttered, his fingers fidgeted around his stylus that he could barely even keep in his grip anymore. "As long as I create the perfect animation...nothing else matters...not a thing."

Naturally, Ryota's fingers eventually gave out, finally allowing the stylus to drop to the ground alongside his tablet. He honestly couldn't remember what happened to him after that, though one thing was for sure...

He blacked out.

The Ultimate Animator couldn't determine how long he'd been unconscious, perhaps a few hours? His body was noticeably more well-rested than before, so that meant he could get straight back to completing his film. His weak hands started to feel his surroundings, realizing that he'd been resting in his bed the entire time, which is strange since he didn't remember climbing into bed before he passed out.

Ryota nearly had a heart attack when he looked just ahead; not that the figure that appeared before him looking inherently threatening or anything — quite the opposite, sounding ominously elegant and calm. The man's black hair was oddly long beyond belief, his no-nonsense appearance was only brought further with the black suit that he meant business.

He didn't explicitly remember hearing any doors open, and was positive that this man wasn't invited into his dorm alongside Enoshima and Ikusaba. Concurrently, the young man wasn't expressing any malicious intentions and didn't come off an an intruder.

Normally, he would've let out a scream of surprise, or maybe even tried to have run away. Although this time, Ryota felt far too tired to even consider doing either of those things.

At first, he figured this person could have been some kind of delinquent that was intruding into his dorm, however instead of displaying himself as a threat, the man walked straight passed Ryota and observed the animated film on his computer screen. It was enough for him to put two and two together and decide he was probably friends with Enoshima and Ikusaba.

Ryota sat up from his bed, granted, he still felt disoriented from the lack of sleep and eating, and his mouth were incredibly dry from not speaking for so long. "Um, who are you? You must be a friend of Enoshima-san's right?"

The black haired man's sharp red eyes blinked. "I am in acquaintance with Enoshima Junko. If you're asking if I regard her in a genuine correlation then the answer is no, nor do I possess any attachments to her." he responded, his voice was far more polite and refined than Ryota had been expecting.

One thing was certain to him for sure, Hope's Peak Academy definitely had some bizarre students. He couldn't possibly determine what his Ultimate talent could be.

Taking a quick flash at the nearby computer monitor, the mysterious man swiftly moved to the screen and observes the animated film that was still endlessly looping (Ryota forgot all about shutting off his computer). His eyes scrolled across the screen, almost indicating a small hint of intrigument, right before they narrowed again.

"How boring," were the only words to escape from the man's mouth, not even showing a small hint of emotion in his own sentence. This partially made Ryota feel offended, the man had barely looked at the screen for sixty seconds and was already critiquing his film.

"Excuse me but, if you don't like my work that's fine, but don't you think you should be a little more respectful?" Ryota asked, feeling a little angry about the long haired man's blunt reaction. "You only watched it for a minute, and I spent months working on that."

"Would you propose that I rather lie simply for the sake of making you feel better?" the emotionless man openly asked. "Time and effort are irrelevant when discussing the value of something. After all, I too possess a talent as boring as animation."

Before taking one final walk towards the door, he left Ryota by saying. "I've analyzed your animation techniques, it proved itself unpredictable at first...before returning back to a state of predictability. If a talent as boring as animation can deceive an established expectation, then perhaps it's more difficult to predict."

With that the long haired man made his exit out of the dorm room, not even bother to close the door behind him. Ryota felt the need to rub his eyes for an extensive period of time, wondering if what he just saw was a dream, or possibly a hallucination from overworking himself.

Exactly who was that guy...and why was he commenting about his animation in the first place?

"—Soon after that, Enoshima kept her end of the bargain, and somehow Yukizome-sensei learned that I'd been regularly skipping classes, and somehow found out about me." Ryota said, having just finished telling the story. "I was introduced to all my classmates in the 77th Class and we became friends for the rest of the year."

"And then after that things only went downhill from there, right? Enoshima started converting all your classmates into Remnants of Despair." Gekkogahara sadly replied. Ryota didn't even need to give her an explanation, since the answer had already been quite obvious.

Not to mention, in the back of his mind there's also been the fact that throughout all these stories that he's been telling about meeting Enoshima and even her eventual betrayal, not once did Gekkogahara ever express even the tiniest shed of anger.

When he first talked about his passion for animation, Gekkogahara even expressed her own interest in the topic as well, a huge contrast to Enoshima to attacked him and belittled his love for animation, only ever attempting to use him for her own selfish purposes.

Gekkogahara seemed to read Ryota's expression because she started typing on her keyboard before he could even start a sentence. "Hey Mitarai-kun," she said softly, "I think I know what you're thinking about right've been wondering why I've been taking the time to have these therapy sessions and try to learn more about you?"

"Was it that obvious?" Ryota asked, following things up with a sigh. "It's just...I've done so many things in the past that I've regretted."

"You aren't alone, Mitarai-kun," the Ultimate Therapist replied, her precise emotions were difficult to make out with the big scarf covering a large vicinity of her face, though it was clear that she was smiling underneath. "Truthfully, everyone in this building has their own share of regrets and fears, Naegi-kun...Asahina-san...even others like Kirigiri-san and Sakakura-san too."

She finished typing a final sentence on her keyboard. "And I'm no different either...I have my own regrets as well."

Ryota smiled slightly. "Maybe, we're more alike than I thought."

Monomi comically covered her paws with her mouth. "Maybe, we're actually soul mates?" Gekkogahara teased.

"Soul mates? No, I doubt something like that would ever be true," Ryota rolled his eyes, but smiled and laughed despite that.

He was glad to have listened to what Gekkogahara said, because it helped him learn something really important about his own struggles: he wasn't alone in that matter, all thirteen participants in this building were fighting their own battles and attempting to combat their own despair.

It wasn't just him in the many lives were ruined because of the Tragedy that Enoshima caused, things that weren't even his fault. Perhaps, it's better not to continue dwelling on things that couldn't be changed.

Being bullied. His parents divorcing. Enoshima's betrayal. Class 77th  being converted to despair. The Final Killing Game. Yukizome and Chairman Tengan's deaths.

Then, it suddenly hit Ryota that his continuous dwelling on the past was futile. He couldn't keep thinking about what could've happened if he declined Enoshima's offer or maybe found the sleeping gas grenade before the killing game started. Those thoughts were only preventing him from what he could be doing right now.

Working together with all the remaining participants to end this killing game, and someday the Tragedy.

Chapter Text

Yukizome Theater

"So, that's how Mitarai-kun first met Enoshima-sama? Well, they say first impressions are lasting impressions, but I wish my precious student did a little better...his posture wasn't the best and he could've spoken a little more clearly…and it's not good to keep a lady waiting for so long."

"Oops, looks like I fell back into my teacher mentality again."

"I'm a little jealous that Enoshima-sama considered her meeting with Mitarai-kun was a fateful encounter. They say that fate is caused by being at the right place at the right time...maybe the same thing applied to Mitarai-kun and that's how the two of them met."

"Luck sure works in mysterious ways!"

Another day down the drain.

It probably wasn't a very good sign that those were the first words that Ryota dreadfully sighed the minute he woke up, it was hard to believe he'd been "participating" in this killing game for weeks and has hated every second of it, sure there were the occasional moments of hope with some of Naegi's optimism or getting pep talks from Gekkogahara, but that seemed vastly overshadowed by Monokuma and his many ridiculous antics.

The typical morning announcement that everyone dreaded practically flew straight over his head today, it was the first time he actually chose to simply ignore it, and after the seconds soon turned to minutes, he expected one of his fellow participants to wake him...but that never happened.

Before even given the thought of getting out of bed, a quick flash of what looked to be black and white popped out of nowhere and landed on his bed. His heart sank...already knowing what this was and what it would entail.

"Rise n' shine, Mitarai-kun!" were the first words that instantly popped out of the two-toned teddy bears mouth, leaving Ryota to recover from the shock (and also lose his desire to sleep any longer), if it wasn't already exhilarating dealing with Monokuma when he was awake, it happening when being asleep was a whole different level of irritation on its own.

The Ultimate Animator fell out of his bed and positioned himself further towards the corner, he clearly remembered it being against the rules to do anything that could potentially cross him and result in getting injected with the poison from his bangle. That said, they'd been here a while and Ryota still hadn't seen a single person accidentally activate their forbidden actions.

It seemed to have meant either one of two things; one: the forbidden actions were actually just a farce to get everyone to abide to Monokuma's rules, or two: everyone's been doing an exceptional job preventing their forbidden actions from being activated.

Ryota strongly believed it was probably for the best if he didn't learn which one was correct, he wasn't exactly waiting around to figure that out either. Whatever "using your talent" meant could instantly relate to his untimely death after all.

"M-Monokuma, what're you doing here!?" the meek animator gasped, in such a state of shock that he could've sworn that he nearly had a heart attack, or it at least semeed like he was about to have one.

"Why, I've come to wake up my favorite hikikomori, of course!" the teddy bear replied. "Being cooped up inside a dormitory room all day is no life for someone your age, you could accidentally go insane and chop off your ear like Vincent van Gogh."

Ryota clutched onto his blankets in an attempt to pull himself off the ground, "Is that all you came here to say?"

"Nope! I'm here as your personal alarm clock, it's time to haul your lazy butt down to Chez Monokuma for an important announcement!" the bear answered, now proceeding to whip out his claws and angrily threaten, "I refuse to tolerate any of you bastards being tardy on my watch! Even if I have to drag you guys out of bed..."

The teddy bears smiled noticeably started growing wider by the second. "OR, you could always remain here and have a taste of the sweet sensation of poison seeping throughout your body and slowly killing you by the second. I'd hate to have one of my precious employees be forced to do the choice is yours!"

There hadn't been much of a choice in the matter, so the Ultimate Animator only reply by slumping his shoulders and sighing, "I get the picture."

Without any further objections on his ultimatum, that was surely more than enough of a cue for Monokuma to make himself scarce and finally leave the room back to some unknown location. The last thing he'd want is to accidentally cross Monokuma in any way possible, so he instantly grabbed a new black suit from his closet and rushed directly to the cafeteria before his fraught mind could start mapping out the potential "surprises" that could be waiting for him, and everyone else for that matter.

While he felt it was needless to say, there wasn't anything good to come from Monokuma.

Afterwards, Ryota proceeded to rush out of his dormitory in a hurry, mentally preparing himself for anything that Monokuma had planned with very little results. He was barely paying attention to his surroundings and as a result, accidentally slammed the cafeteria door in someone's face.

Before being given the chance to properly apologise for his actions, Ryota found himself dumbstruck when he looked to see that particular person was Sakakura of all people. A sudden surge of fear emerged into him instantly, almost like he just sealed his own grave.

Maybe, if he were lucky then the Ultimate Boxer would only let him off with a slap on the wrist, a literal one to be more specific. "S-Sakakura-san...I'm so sorry! I wasn't looking where I was going and didn't even notice you standing there…"

Being one of the Future Foundation's strongest subordinates members, Sakakura was more than capable of doing a number of terrible things to Ryota; punching, kicking, and probably a whole plethora of other boxing techniques that he's probably never even heard of. Among all things Ryota expected, the taller man simply placed a hand on his frail shoulder and smiled.

"Hey, don't worry about it!" the Ultimate Boxer assured with a smile. "Just try and be a little more careful!"

That was strange...Sakakura hadn't laid a single blow to Ryota, or even lifted a single finger for that matter, but he could've sworn he just had the wind knocked out of him regardless, albeit for a completely different reason. Why was he acting so polite and friendly? Was this some kind of sarcasam? The last time that Sakakura slugged him in the stomach, he began by providing a snide remark about his chivalrous tendencies.

Maybe, this was a similar instance?

And what was even more strange was his smile, it was certainly something new, Ryota clearly remembered never witnessing Sakakura give a smile that wasn't out of some kind of malice. Yet, right now the man was actually giving a genuine smile and displaying acts of kindness.

Ryota's only possible explanation is that Sakakura was probably trying to trick him into letting his guard down or something, that way he could attack the meek animator when he was least expecting it. There was no way of knowing that was true, so Ryota merely exercised caution when he passed him on the way into the cafeteria.

As part of his normal routine, Ryota sat on the farthest side of the room and mainly took a minute to catch his breath now that Monokuma wouldn't be threatening him anymore. After a few seconds, Gekkogahara approached him, with Monomi looking as energetic as usual on her computer screen.

"Good morning, Mitarai-kun!" she greeted, programming her two-toned rabbit to give him a short wave. "It seems like you're the last person to arrive here. Is everything alright?"

Ryota twiddled his thumbs, contemplating on if he should explain to her the strange thing that was happening with Sakakura's cheerful demeanor earlier, and whether or not that was actually a prank or not. "Good morning...Im fine, just a little tired after this morning, and I'm just a little nervous about the surprise that Monokuma could be giving us."

A quick gaze upon the other Future Foundation members showed that they were probably just as worried as Ryota was, and even Gekkogahara expressed her aloof anxieties with a slow nod and even slower typing on her keyboard compared to her usual brisk pace.

"You're right. I wonder what Monokuma could possibly be announcing to us this time. Haven't we already been giving the motive already?" she asked rhetorically.

Ryota swallowed, without even hearing what Monokuma had in store he already found himself paranoid about what's to come. With them being restircted to a single floor there weren't far too many options on what Monokuma could potentially do next, but that only made him nervous since the bear is notorious for being morbidly unpredictable and going against a "normal" way of thinkning.

He wondered if Monokuma was ever this merciless in other killing games or did he step his game up because it's his self-proclaimed "final killing game".

"You guys heard about Monokuma's announcement too?" Asahina stepped forward, getting the attention of the two, who both nodded in unision. "I wonder what it could be this time. What would Monokuma even be planning?"

In spite of how strange it sounded, Naegi was blissfully smiling at her response. "You shouldn't be worrying too much, Asahina-san. There's no point in letting anything that Monokuma says get to us, everything that's happening to us right now will only become a stepping stone to create an even greater hope."

"What? What're you talking about Naegi?" Asahina gasped.

"Hope?" Gekkogahara simply blinked, Monomi carried out her gestures by curiously tilting her head. "What do you mean? What does hope have to do with our current situation?"

What's happening? If Ryota's suspicions were correct, then there's no doubt that Naegi too has been acting strange this morning as well, and those those speech patterns and mannerisms were a weird amalgamation of creepiness of nostalgia. Ryota definitely remembers knowing someone who used to say weird stuff like that all the time.

"Umm, Naegi-san, are you feeling alright?" Ryota asked out of concern. "You're acting different...than usual."

"Of course, why do you ask?" the Ultimate Hope nonchalantly replied. That was clearly a lie, there was definitely something wrong with Naegi, but Ryota just didn't know what it was.

"What's it matter if anyway if Naegi is feeling alright or not?" Ando simply waved off. "Whatever's happening to him doesn't even matter since there's no possible outcome of things turning out okay regardless, something terrible is bound to happen."

Maybe he'd just been overthinking things, a possibly testament to his constant perturbation, but he could've sworn that Ando was talking much different than usual; her words were less articulated and appeared to sound extremely downbeat. After further examination it appeared that wasn't the only thing different, the outfit that she was regularly attired looked like it lazily put on and less refined than usual, almost like she didn't care.

"Huh? I'd never expect you to say something like that Ando-chan," Asahina gasped. "Don't tell me...are you acting weird too?"

"I'm no genius, but there's definitely something wrong with Naegi and Ando-chan, they're definitely acting out of character," Kizakura randomly said. In spite of previously stating that he was a genius, Ryota realized that he made a pretty valid point.

"And not just them either, I saw that Sakakura-san was acting strange this morning as well. I'm not quite sure what it could mean or what's happening either," Ryota replied. "Did they come down with kind of sickness or something?"

In order to prove Ryota's arbitrary hypothesis, Kimura dashed right over to Sakakura who was closest to him at the moment and briefly rummaged through her bag to grab her first aid items, it hardly even took a few seconds before there was something very concerning about the Ultimate Boxer that she noticed.

"Sakakura-san's body temperature feels extremely seems like he has a fever!" the Ultimate Pharmacist gasped.

"A fever!?" Great Gozu exclaimed.

"And are you sure that it's truly a fever?" Kirigiri asked rigidly.

Kimura reached back into her bag, grabbing a digital thermometer from inside and slid it under his tongue, after a few brief seconds the beeping went off, and she went to check the temperature and if her previous diagnosis wasn't proof enough, then her eyes widening was conclusive proof. "His temperature is...102 degrees fahrenheit, that's really not a good sign, it's actually very serious."

"That's not true, believe me...I feel fine!" Sakakura smiled. Part of this felt very worry, but also exceedingly jarring to witness Sakakura behave in such a strange way, largely in part to how Ryota knew that the normal Sakakura would never let anyone touch him, and even a women like Kimura would be no acception to his mentality.

"Mitarai-kun, check the other two's foreheads and see if they have a fever as well!" Gekkogahara urged. "If so that may be able to answer our question."

"Okay!" Ryota nodded and went over to the Ultimate Hope and Ultimate Confectioner, individually placing his hand on both of their foreheads. "No...this can't be right. It looks like both Naegi-san and Ando-san have fevers too!"

"Then there's definitely something wrong with them all." Kimura announced to the group. "It appears they all have come down with severe fevers, my only hypothesize is that it's was potentially caused by a psychogenic fever, which is usually caused by stressful situations. For this instance, it's difficult to pinpoint a potential cure, perhaps maybe a ibuprofen."

"Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! There's no cure!" Monokuma angrily yelled, popping out of nowhere in his regular routine. "Cures just don't grow on trees y'know! If I created a cure, then I'd never be able to make profit off the treatment!"

"Monokuma!? Don't tell me you had something to do with this." Gekkogahara said, with Monomi appearing more stern than usual.

"Maybe, I did. Maybe, I didn't. Buuuut, since you were kind enough to ask, I suppose I can spill the beans for my ugly, worthless, shameful, repulsive, boring, unfunny, disgraceful little sister!" the two-toned bear teased.

His slasher smile grew wider. "Today, I decided to hit you bastards with a throwback motive. I present to you...the Despair Disease!"

The Ultimate Therapist didn't give his response any second thoughts and went straight into typing at her keyboard. "I'm not your sister. And why'd you use so many adjectives?"

Ryota blinked nervously. "Um, Gekkogahara-san. I think you're kinda missing the point...what did Monokuma mean when he said Despair Disease?"

"And what did he mean by throwback motive?" Kimura gasped.

Kirigiri turned to the Ultimate Pharmacist. "Despair Disease was a motive that Monokuma used on the Remnants of Despair while they were inside the Neo World Program. They were microscopic insects that gave them large quantities of despair."

"As usual, you're correct!" Monokuma giggled. "But, I had to change up the method of infection this time around. Insects that give you despair could only ever exist in a video game world after all."

"What do you mean?" Great Gozu asked.

"While all you bastards were fast asleep like babies, I administered a new drug temporarily into your bangle with neither your awareness nor consent. Don't fret, they'll be removed once the motive ends," Monokuma explained. "The drug increases the despair inside of a person and will activate at completely random."

"But two motives at the same time?" Kizakura raised an eyebrow, giving off his usual smirk. "Isn't that a little overkill?"

Monokuma started sweating. "'s kinda actually a funny story. Remember the Killer Killer motive? Well, it was never actually my idea to begin with…"

"Wait! You weren't the one who created the Killer Killer motive, then who possibly could've done it!?" Great Gozu demanded.

The small bear giggled. "Upupupu...I guess I've probably said a little too much. Anywho, since I'm the Future Foundation's beloved chairman, I can make any new rules at my discretion!"

"What're we gonna do about the others?" Asahina asked in distress.

While it was usually difficult to make out what Gekkogahara was thinking from under her long scarf, her icy blue eyes began to narrow. "If what Monokuma said is actually true and there's no cure for the Despair Disease. We need to keep everyone infected with the disease safe, if we let them roam the building they could potentially commit a murder."

Ryota sighed. "You're right. I really don't wanna have to do that, but it's probably our only means of preventing another killing from happening."

To his response, Ando merely gave him a pessimistic head shake and shrugged her shoulders. "It could work...but probably not. Aren't we just biding our time, Monokuma said things won't end until there are only three survivors, so we're just gonna die anyway."

"Don't say things like that Ruruka, of course we're all gonna survive!" Great Gozu assured her.

Then, suddenly...something happened that Ryota never wouldn't predicted, Munakata stepped forward in the center of the group, Ryota was certain that he was about to say something except he began to start heavily breathing. "I...I...can't recall..." and right before everyone's eyes the Future Foundation's Vice Chairman immediately collapsed on the ground.

"Munakata-san!" Ryota yelped, quickly rushing to the aid of the fallen Ultimate Student Council President with everyone else falling him in a circle. "What happened...was he infected with the disease too!?"

"This isn't good, we need to get them all to an infirmary and fast! An apple a day keeps the doctor away after all," Bandai responded.

"You're right, what if Monokuma leaves them to die in this state?" Kimura followed in anxiety.

"That won't happen. Monokuma's already well established at this point that none of the participants are permitted to die unless they are murdered or activate their forbidden actions." Kirigiri sharlpy corrected. "During my investigation on this floor, I found a small hospital and quarantine on the floor. It should provide us with any necessities for treating everyone."

Ryota's mouth quivered into a small smile, a hospital meant there was still a ray of hope, even if it was very small. "That means all we have to do is take them to the hospital and—"

He couldn't even manage to finish his sentence, the words struggled to simply escape from his mouth after seeing Monokuma run out the room and back dressed with a stethoscope around his neck and a clipboard saying: "Leave everything to me, Dr Killgood!"

"Dr. Killgood?" Ryota repeated in disbelief.

"We gotta get these patients to the Monokuma Hospital ER and get them under 24 hour—WAIT a second...I've already made this joke before! Geez! Looks like I'm running out of new material!" Monokuma sighed.

"Your ridiculous rules and forbidden actions mean nothing to me, if you do anything awful to Ruruka I'll kill you." Izayoi threatened. His remarks were so threatening that even Ryota started to back away out of fear.

The two-toned bear smiled and happily saluted. "No problemo, Izayoi-kun. These bastards are safe with me, cross my heart and hope you die!"

And just like that, before they all knew it, the four diseased individuals were suddenly whisked away from everyone by Monokuma, carried out of the cafeteria one-by-one in stretchers and transported to the hospital located on the opposite side of the floor before they were hardly able to have any further objections.

The minute they all were taken away, Ryota felt the urge to begin rushing to the hospital to see how they were doing in this condition and above all, make sure they were safe from Monokuma, it appeared that everyone's else's minds thought alike since the others were making their way towards the hospital as well.

Ryota didn't have the foggiest idea what the Despair Disease could possibly entail for them, but he knew he couldn't just let them be under the care of Monokuma since there's no telling what the bear could do to them. Perhaps the disease means they'll be a much easier target for murder? Or maybe, that means Monokuma will no longer consider them participants of the game.

No. Now definitely wasn't the time nor place to have such awful and negative thoughts, if they couldn't be cured then there was no telling how this would further affect things.

Ryota felt that he was running as fast as his legs could carry him, possibly even faster, and while he was quickly outmatched by Asahina and Great Gozu in terms of speed, he still managed to make in time to see all his diseased co-workers being placed in the intensive care unit.

Things weren't looking very good for both sides of the spectrum, the diseased participants hadn't appeared to be in the very best condition and were seemingly getting worse by the second, especially Sakakura, who's fever wasn't really getting any better.

Of course, Monokuma wasn't the slightest bit concerned, evidently something like remorse or mercy were words he couldn't even begin to comprehend. "I'm sure you bastards are probably worried about what's gonna happen to your co-workers, but rest assured. Dr. Killgood's treatments are always 65% successful!"

"That's exactly why we're worried in the first place!" Asahina yelled.

"And wouldn't that mean the other 35% would result in them dying?" Kizakura asked amusingly, taking a quick swig of liquor between his sentence.

"I agree with Aoi on that," Great Gozu followed up. "Is it really a wise decision to leave our comrades in the hands of someone like Monokuma. After all, he's the reason they're infected with this disease right now."

"But, we don't really have any other options, right?" Ryota asked, all but hoping that someone would give him an optimistic response that would tell him otherwise. "If there's really no cure, then shouldn't our best bet to be finding a way to get passed this motive without a murder?"

"Then, who should take care of them?" Kizakura asked. "I'm not even close to being a doctor, so whenever I'm sick I always drink a little whiskey to straighten things out."

"Well, Kizakura-san...somehow I don't really think that's gonna work for this instance." Ryota awkwardly shot down.

"I'll take care of them!"' Kimura volunteered in a heartbeat, rightfully so with her medical experience, and Ryota remembered how she was very skilled in performing an autopsy on Chairman Tengan when he was killed. "I'll save them all and make sure they're cured from this disease!"

"Wait a minute, Kimura-san, are you actually sure you wanna do that?" Ryota gasped.

"Sheesh, can't you bastards take a hint already?" Monokuma grudgingly moaned. "I specifically said there was absolutely NO cure for the Despair Disease! NO way, NO how, NO where! If you think there's a cure then you're definitely wasting your time."

"That doesn't matter! Even if there's no available cure...I'll find one! I'm gonna make sure that I save everyone." the Ultimate Pharmacist declared. Ryota was astonished that the 4th Division Head would still want to continue supporting everyone despite what Monokuma previously told them, she clearly determined to save everyone no matter what the cost was.

In some way, it almost reminded him of the way he used to be when working on his animated films...or perhaps the way he still was.

"Should we be worried about you, Kimura-chan? What if you get infected with the Despair Disease too?" Asahina asked out of concern. "I think Naegi and Kyoko-chan said that happened with one of the Remnants of Despair too."

The pale pharmacist shook her head and began compulsively rummaging through her medical bag. "Well...there shouldn't really be a need for that. There are lots of stimulants in my bag that could probably help counteract that. If things become dire I'll take some acetaminophen and digest plenty of fluids."

"Not that I'd be a problem anyway. I'm gonna take a wild guess and say this version of Despair Disease is only injected into our bangles, so they shouldn't be contagious in the slightest," Kizakura noted. "Then again, what's a guy like me know?"

"And you guest right! If I were to simply reuse the same version of Despair Disease from the Jabberwock Island killing game, then things would've been way to boring and easily predictable!" Monokuma replied. "So, I happily decided to change the effects. This time around, it's a self-contained disease and isn't contagious in the slightest!"

"That's a relief, right?" Bandai gasped. "If the Despair Disease isn't contagious, they'll all be cured soon enough! Then, we'll be together again like two peas in a pod."

"Would it really be that easy?" Asahina gasped.

"Hold on a second! I said Despair Disease isn't contagious, BUT I never said it'd be less easier to catch! Where's the fun in that?" Monokuma warned them. "There's still another way to catch this disease simply from your bangle!"

"There is? Then, what is it?" Ryota blinked.

Monokuma started giggling to himself once more, which was only feeding to how antsy everyone was about this motive. "You guys have heard people say the mind is everything, right? How stressing over something can lead to that happening? Wellll...that's no different for the Despair Disease."

"Then, you're saying that our friends got the Despair Disease because they were the ones feeling despair at the time?" Gekkogahara realized, made apparent with the lightbulb that appeared from above Monomi's head.

And to the surprise of Ryota...he looked to see Monokuma do something that he never would've imagined, the two-toned bear practically answered all of his questions in one fell swoop. That means the diseased participants only received the Despair Disease because they were the ones feeling despair at the time?

Sure, the easiest to decipher would undoubtedly be Munakata since everything that happened during the last trial from Chairman Tengan's death to Yukizome's betrayal and subsequent execution as well.

On the other hand, there were Ando and Sakakura who Ryota also didn't have the slightest clue on how they possibly could've been infected with the disease, he barely knew anything about them before the killing game started and has knowledge about them now hardly scratches the surface.

And then there was Naegi, who Ryota found the most peculiar and strange to be included in the aforementioned category. Out of everyone that undeniably seemed the most out of place to him...the renowned Ultimate Hope responsible for defeating Enoshima Junko was affected too? Ryota never would've guessed for him to becoming a victim of Despair Disease as well, especially not after all the motivation that he'd been giving everyone since the killing game began and persevering even after everyone lost his trust.

If the Despair Disease was really caught by anyone that was feeling despair at the time, then it begged the question of why Ryota wouldn't have been affected by the disease either. He was positive that if Munakata was given the disease because of Tengan and Yukizome's death, then the exact same thing should've happened to him, but hasn't felt any disturbances in his personality, or at the most a fever.