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Her mind is floating. Free. The sound of water hitting a flat surface echoes in my head, but she doesn't have the energy to figure out where the sound it coming from.

Her eyes are closed, but she is fully awake and aware of everything. She can smell the salt in the air and hear the white noise in her ears. When she clench her hands into fists, sand is molded into her palms and sticks underneath her nails.

The white noise in her ears ring out and dampen. She hear an annoyed voice calling out to her.

"Hey... Muku, you dumbass, can you hear me? Are you dead?"

A pathetic noise escapes the back of her throat, as if she's begging to stay on the ground with her eyes closed. Instincts, however, kick in, so she opens her eyes.

Her vision is blurry. She blinks multiple times to be able to make out the figure in front of her. Or, more accurately, above her.

Junko?

"That was quite a fall, sis. For a soldier, you sure do have some big ass feet, huh?" Junko giggles a little, but the smile doesn't reach her eyes. "I don't blame you, though. I mean... that was some pretty crazy stuff that happened."

"Crazy... stuff?" Mukuro's voice sounds raspy and confused. She swallow the dry lump in her throat to be able to continue. "What...?"

"What kind of memory do you have? Remember that crazy shit from earlier?"

Right. The crazy stuff that happened earlier... Mukuro retreats inside of her mind, thinking from her own perspective...

- - - - -

The day was relatively normal... As normal as it can be with a loudmouth for a little sister and an exceptional school in front of you.

Hope's Peak Academy.

This is no ordinary school. Far from it. It accepts students from all over the world to be enrolled into their school.

There have been many complaints to the school that talents like "The Ultimate Pickpocket" and "The Ultimate Arsonist" shouldn't be considered talents and that they should be in jail.

Some people think that my Ultimate Soldier title shouldn't be one if the forums are up to date.

Right. I guess I haven't introduced myself. My name is Mukuro Ikusaba, and my little sister, Junko Enoshima, is walking ahead of me to get into the school.

She's always loved Hope's Peak Academy, and it's no wonder she was chosen as Ultimate Fashionista. With how successful she has been doing with her magazines, it's hard to think that she'd come here for another talent.

But she could have: Ultimate Analyst. Junko is extremely smart, but Hope's Peak Academy must not have seen her intellect. How could they? Junko has been hiding her smarts so she could be a diva.

I'll always be proud of her no matter what, so I can let that slide. But I won't have her talking down on herself like she usually does when she is bored.

I smile softly as I watch Junko skip towards the school. She's wearing her favorite black blazer that shows off her chest, sleeves rolled up above her elbows, and her red mini skirt. In Junko's pigtailed hair is a bunny clip and a red and white bow. Her boot-heels are black and click against the ground on every step.

"Come on you slow poke," Junko looks back at me with a huff, cheeks puffing out.

I look down at the ground to prepare myself. Am I ready? Do I look ok? I'm wearing a simple black t-shirt and tan camo pants tucked into my black combat boots, brown gloves on my hands to hide my Fenrir tattoo. On one thigh is a gun holster with a M9, and the other thigh has a combat knife.

Junko scoffs and grabs my trembling hands in her steady ones. "Don't worry, sis! If you end up embarrassing yourself in front of the others, I won't laugh too hard!"

That's reassuring.

I nod and take a step forward. I've always wanted to connect with people. I've always wanted to be closer to others. I've always...

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What's happening?

Before my very eyes the worlds glitches and black spots appear in my eyes. I squeeze my eyes shut.

It's completely silent.

Opening my eyes, a void surrounds me. Junko is nowhere in sight. As I'm about to cry out for my sister, wondering about her safety, a door appears in front of me. The void begins to swirls and green glitches occupy some of the darkness of the void.

Should I... go through the door? What if there's a threat on the other side? But what if it's Junko? She wasn't happy the last time I thought I heard an enemy and ended up attacking her.

Taking a deep breath, I sigh. This is fine. It's just... maybe I have food poisoning and this is a horrible hallucination.

I walk forward to the brown door, and it slides open to reveal a bright, white light. My eyes burn at the light, but I keep walking forward...

Into a... classroom?

Fifteen pairs of eyes turn my way as soon as I enter. One of them I recognize right away.

"Junko!" I step into the classroom and rush to Junko. She scoffs at my worry.

"What? Did you think I was dead or something?"

"N-No, you just disappeared and--"

"Hold on," A calm voice interrupts from my right. I look over to a very stoic girl with light purple hair and cold lavender eyes. "Who are you?"

I feel my face heat up in embarrassment. "O-Oh, I'm--"

"No need," A very tall blond male sneers from the front of the classroom. "We don't need names right now; we need answers."

Answers?

Junko laughs, covering her mouth with her hand. "Wait, you think Muku can give you your answers? Pfft! She may look the part, but she doesn't have those book smarts,"

"You two know each other, I presume?" A gothic girl stands neutrally near the back wall. Her drilled hair shakes as she looks away quickly to mutter. "Things are certainly getting curiouser and curiouser."

"Um..." An ordinary boy sitting at one of the desks next to a blue-haired girl clears his throat. "Can I ask a question?"

The blond from earlier smirks and nods. "Ask away. If it has something to do with our predicament, I can allow it to pass,"

The boy blinks. "Oh, uh. Well... weren't we supposed to have some sort of opening ceremony?"

An orange-haired boy stands abruptly from his desk and puts his hands up. "I was never told about some opening ceremony! What the hell even is this?"

A small, fragile looking girl wrings her hands together and looks away with tears in her eyes. "Maybe everyone isn't here yet and they're setting the ceremony up?"

A boy dressed in all white puts his fist up in a commanding way. "That's a perfect observation! The teachers wanted us to have a surprise ceremony!"

"What kinda fucking logic is that?" A boy with a long pompadour haircut rolls his lavender eyes. "If we already know about the damn ceremony, why the hell would they make it a surprise?"

"Watch your language! This is a school environment, and that kind of bad mouth will make me report you to the headmaster!"

"Headmaster shmeadmaster! I want fuckin' answers!"

"Quiet. Now," The blond demands of the two. "I was about to discuss that when everyone arrived."

The strict boy nods his head. "That reminds me!" He dramatically points in my direction and begins to yell. "Your tardiness is absolutely inexcusable! I should report you to the headmaster and take you to detention!"

Junko curls her lip. "Ugh, don't listen to the hardass. He's all talk,"

"This is everyone anyway, so we should move on,"

"How'd you know this is everyone?!" A tan male with wild hair loudly questions. "Do you have some sort of ESP or something?! I thought that was my talent..."

The blond huffs. "This is everyone because there are sixteen desks, and that girl came in last. I think the math should be obvious,"

A large and buff warrior girl nods her head. "I see. Since she's the last to arrive, then the class should be full,"

"Hmph. It doesn't take a genius to figure it out,"

This guy will be the death of me.

"So wh-what do we talk about?" A timid girl spat at us. She shuffles on her feet and wrings her hands together. "Who brought u-us to this cl-classroom?"

"You don't have to sound so mean when you say it," A tan and busty girl pouts from beside the warrior.

"There is one thing I want to ask everyone. And be honest," The purple-haired girl speaks up. My eyes turn to her only to see her staring at me. "Does anyone here remember coming to this classroom?"

I try to think back. I remember walking through the airport and being picked up by Junko in her limousine. I remember standing at the school's front, talking to Junko. Then... nothing.

The girl continues, paying no mind to our shocked faces. "Before I knew what was happening, I woke up here. I find that strange, and I don't think I was the only one,"

"This is not natural," The blond mutters and pushes his glasses up. "Your stupid faces confirm the fact that you all agree with me."

"Hm, yes, I can say that I do agree with you," An obese male agrees with the blond. He pauses before gasping. "What do you mean by 'stupid'?!"

"As soon as I entered the school, I was struck by an inexplicable dizziness. After that, I found myself outside of this very classroom," The blond continues, ignoring the obese male. "I assume everyone else was the same?"

"Well... yes," I feebly answered.

"Wait!" The tan male from earlier exclaims. "It wasn't just me?! I wasn't high?!"

"High...?" A confused noise left my throat. I look to Junko miserably. "Is that one of those 'slang' terms you told me?"

Junko shakes her head and clicks her tongue. "Oh, you poor girl. I'll tell you later,"

"For everyone to suddenly get dizzy at the same time..." The purple-haired girl puts a hand to her chin. "That's not a coincidence."

"There's another issue at hand," The goth hums. Her red eyes look to the door. "It appears that we cannot leave. Some of us have tried the door, but it won't open."

The small girl trembles. "We... We can't leave...?"

The warrior nods. "Yes. I have tried using my raw strength against the door, but alas... it wouldn't open. Even with my strength,"

Junko scoffs. "I doubt it. Muku, open the door,"

I jump at the command, standing tall. I turn and head towards the door. Placing my hand on the knob, I twist and pull... and pull... and pull...

"Ugh, don't look so stupid, dummy! I know you haven't been in contact with the outside world in, like, three years, but come on," Junko sounds annoyed. "Punch the damn thing open."

I raise my fist and drive it forward, but it bounces off of the door. I stumble back and shake my hand at the searing pain that shot through it.

"As I told you," I turn to face the warrior. Her white hair covers her face ominously, leaving a shadow over her eyes. "The door won't open."

"Maybe it just needs a little tool power for it to work," Junko gestures to me again. "Use your gun!"

"Her WHAAAAAAAAAAT?!" The obese male scream in fear and ducks behind the nearest person, who just so happens to be the pompadour male.

"Uh, Junko..." A nervous smile creeps onto my face. "I know I haven't been... up to speed, as you say, but I don't think using a gun to shoot the door is ok."

"At least you have common sense in place of... her," The blond glares at Junko, who's looking at her long, red nails.

I swallow the lump in my throat that begs to be let out. I always try to defend my sister no matter what, but she doesn't want me to do that anymore. She says she can handle herself, so I trust her.

"But why won't it open?" The blue-haired girl finally speaks up. She puts a finger to her chin. "It's... weird."

"It opened when I came into the classroom, but for it to lock as soon as I entered..." The goth hides her mouth behind her hand, but I can hear the smirk in her tone. "It makes you wonder, yes?"

"W-We're locked inside," The depressing girl with braids shuffles further into her seat.

Locked... inside? I want to disprove that theory and rip the door open so we can all escape... but I can't. If I tried to get the door open and I couldn't, then there's no way we can escape.

Anxiety weighs heavy on my shoulders, and despair twists my stomach. What if we die in here?

"Ah!" The obese male points his finger up and grins. "I have an idea! What if... this is a secret exam?"

The strict male shakes his head. "The school never said anything about a secret exam! I would have read about it before I came here!"

That's... the point of it being a secret?

The pompadour male groans. "That's the point of it being secret, dumbass,"

"Ah! That's not it! This isn't an entwance exam!"

Did... Did a mew voice come from nowhere? I look around in bemusement only to see everyone else do the same.

"... What was that just now?" The blond uncrosses his arms to glare at everyone.

"Yo, legs, what the fuck was that baby noise you made?" The orange-haired boy looks away and ruffles his hair.

"Wh--?! Legs?!" The blond seems offended. He makes a low noise in his throat from annoyance. "Nevermind that. That sound didn't come from someone like me."

"Then who was it?" I ask.

"Um, it was meee!" The voice squeaks again. My head tilts to the side and I stare at the podium.

"Uh, I think it's coming from--"

"Behind the podium!" Junko flips her hair and grins. I sigh.

"Behind the podium?" The ordinary boy looks at the podium.

The voice giggles childishly. "Bingo! It seems everyone’s here, so wet's begin!"

The podium began to shake and shimmy, causing the blond to back away from it. Something thumps against the ground then it pops up...

A rabbit?

A pristine white rabbit pops up from behind the podium. It's dressed in a pink, frilly skirt and a matching pink bib. On it's back is a pair of white wings and a pink bow rests on it's right ear. In it's right paw is an elegant looking wand as it sparkles and shines.

"What the...?" The ordinary boy trails off. He stares in disbelief at the rabbit.

"What is th-that thing?" The depressing girl curls in on herself and trembles.

"It's a stuffed animal," The stoic girl curiously takes a step forward.

"...Thaaat's wight. I'm a stuffed doll. I'm made of felt," The rabbit blushes and raises the wand in the air. "My name is 'Magical Girl Miwacle ★ Usami'... but you can just call me Usami!"

Usami... the Magical Girl Miracle? Is this some kind of game? Just as this whole situation couldn't get any weirder...

"I'm your teacher, everyone. Pweased to meet you!"

"Our... teacher?" I ask confused.

That doesn't make any sense... Aren't teachers supposed to be alive? And... human?

"Waaaaaaah!" The tan male drops to his knees and begins to pray, tears pricking the corners of his eyes. "I knew it! An evil spirit possessed this stuffed rabbit!"

The blue-haired girl grabs at the pink bow adorning her schoolgirl outfit. "Am... Am I hallucinating? Is this real?"

"W-We see it, too," The strict male stammers out. His expression is shocked, but quickly returns to one of respect. "I see! Pleased to meet you, Teacher Usami!"

The braided girl glares at the boy. "Don't j-just give in l-like that!"

"Hmph," The blond male crosses his arms and lifts his head snobbishly. "Not that it matters. This is nothing more than a stuffed animal--a remote controlled one, at that."

"While that may be true, that leaves me to wonder," The girl with light purple hair cups her chin with her leather-bound fingers. Her eyes stare into the beaded black dots of Usami. "Who's controlling you?"

The rabbit blushes and looks away. "O-Oh... Well, nobody's contwolling me! In fact, I'm 100% a weal natuwal wabbit!"

My brows furrow. "Wait, but--"

Usami waves her wand in the air, sparkles coming from the end. "Now that intwoductions are out of the way! I'm hewe to supewvise this field twip!"

"A... field trip?" The goth girl tilts her head.

"Preposterous! We're in Hope's Peak Academy, so where exactly are we going for a... 'field trip'?" The blond male steps back a half step, and his face turns slightly red.

"Yeah, you silly rabbit!" Junko laughs and twirls her strawberry blonde hair.

Usami seemingly ignores everyone, twirling around magically. "Let's get going! Your fun field twip starts nooow!"

The wand in Usami's hand sparkles and explodes in a shower of purple and pink gradients. The room begins to tremble, prompting the sitting students to stand from their desks. The walls collapse and disappear, revealing a burning yellow sun above and a sandy beach below.

My eye widen as whatever noise that is stuck in my throat comes out choked. I whip around in a panic, the others doing the same.

"... What?" I could hear the disbelief and the rasp in my throat. "What?"

I couldn't believe my eyes... The Hope's Peak Academy classroom had fallen apart at the seams right before our very eyes. How are we at a beach when we were in a classroom?! It doesn't make sense...

"What the hell is this?!" Junko's shrill voice triumphs over the other students' disbelief. 

"Ah, yes, I seem to understand," The obese male nods as if he understood what was happening. Then horror dawned on his face. "WHAAAAAAT?!"

"This i-is a tr-trick, right?" The braided girl bites her thumb as she trembles on the sand.

"Where are we?!" The tan girl cries out in surprise. She clings to the warrior girl while the latter stands seemingly unaffected, but her eyes had gone wide.

The students continue to freak out, but the lavender haired girl. She simply stands with her arms crossed, looking at Usami with clear inquires in her blank gaze.

"Hey, everyone! Pwease calm down!" Usami waves her stubby arms and jumps to gain everyone's attention. "Pwease! Pwease! There's no need for panic! Take a good look around! It's a beauuutiful sea, isn't it...? Can’t you already feel your soul cleansing? Every bad thing is being waaashed awaaay..."

She makes a waving motion with her arms, symbolizing the ocean waves. I swallow the lump in my throat and ignore the prickly anxiety in my gut.

"W-Wait! We want an explanation for where we are!"

""Where...? It's obvious, isn't it...? Somewhere! Beyond the sea!" Usami twirls around to face the waves gently licking the shore. "Can't you see?!"

The braided girl clenches her hands together then jabs her fingers at the rabbit, face red. "Th-That doesn't explain where we are y-you stupid r-rabbit!"

"You know... if you keep shouting like that your thwoat is going to get sore," The rabbit whimpers. Is... she concerned for out health?

"We were at Hope's Peak Academy mere moments ago, were we not?" The goth girl folds her hands underneath her chin. She smiles sweetly, but her crimson eyes glare at the rabbit. "How do explain the transition from there to here? From a school to a beach?"

Usami waves her paws in a placating manner, a line of sweat dripping down the side of her head. "Pweease west assured, that was just our field twip's beginning!"

The blond male takes a threatening step forward with a stern glare. "What's your endgame? Why bring us to this island?"

"Y-Yes!" The strict male stands ramrod straight, but anyone could see the disturbance on his face.

"Yeah! The prick's right!" The pompadour male cracks his knuckles and steps forward as well. "We were just in Hope's Peak! How the fuck are you gonna just jump over that part?!"

Usami stands neutrally, gazing into every students' eyes. Her beady eyes stop for a moment longer on one student near the back before she answers.

"Oooh. Hope's Peak Academy... I see... You're still wowwied abowt Hope's Peak Academy! In that case..." Usami throws her arms up in a cheer, her cheeks flushing pink. "Pwease forget all abowt it! That's what this field twip is aaall abowt!"

"... Huh?" I feebly ask. My fingers entangle themselves in my black shirt, itching to grab my knife or gun and threaten this rabbit.

The orange-haired male grips his hands into fists and raises them threateningly. "What?! 'Forget all about it'?! What the fuck is that supposed to mean, stupid?!"

"Who are you? What are you scheming?" The blond raises his own fist, but I could tell he wouldn't do anything with it.

Usami flushes pink and shakes her head and arms wildly. "Howawa? I am not scheming anything! I'm doing all of this for you! More than anything, I pway that a biiig 'hope' grows inside your hearts!" She smiles, warmth flooding over my heart at the tenderness. Who was this rabbit?

"That's why this island is fwee of danger! So don't be afwaid, okay?" Usami claps her paws together despite the wand clasped in her paw.

"Hold on," The lavender haired girl folds her arms across her chest and stares down at the rabbit. "Island? We're on an island?"

"Yep! This is a beauuutiful southern island," The rabbit happily skips around in the sand until she is standing at the stoic girl's feet, staring up at her. "There is nothing to be afwaid of here. There aren't even any other people. It's an island made juuust for you."

"A... A desert island?" My vision wavers. I've had bad memories on islands...

Junko gasps, looking as if she's figured something out. My eyes shoot to her for an explanation, and I know that her analyst skills will help us in the end.

"Oh my God... Don't tell me you brought us to this island..." Junko takes a step back, distrust clearly on her face. "to make us kill each other?!"

That's a theory that's certainly out there. My brows furrow at how certain Junko sounds, the disgust and the hatred in her eyes.

"Howawa! K...Kiww eachother?! G...God forbid! Violence, hurting other people, and other such wild activities are forbidden on this island! 'Kiwwing'... even just saying the word out loud... Kyaa! Scawy!"

"Stop avoiding the question!" The blond snaps at the rabbit, frustration getting the better of him. "What's the point of this 'field trip'? Who are you? Where are we?!"

Usami claps. "It's time for my speech! Everyone. Pwease stwengthen your bonds of fwiendship as you enjoy your pweasant stay on this island! This is the rule of this 'Heart-thumping Field Twip'!" She winks and waves her wand in the air.

"H-Heart-thumping... field trip?" The timid girl has tears building in her hazel eyes, borderline crying.

"Pwease waise your hope as you enjoy quiet, peeeaceful days where noothing happens, no one gets hurt and no one suffers..." Usami nods her head, and she smiles warmingly. "This is what this wuvly, wuvly 'Heart-thumping Field Twip' is all about..."

"That's the assignment I'm giving you on this island!"

"What the hell?!" The pompadour male growls.

"Um, and so..." Usami waves her wand once more, the object sparkling pink and purple glitter. "Let our 'Heart-thumping Field Twip' begin!"

My eyes droop, suddenly heavy. I can feel my legs give out from under me, and I crumple to my back on the sand. Multiple cries of alarm sound from around me, but I can't seem to care...

... because everything went dark...

Chapter Text

On the beach with her head buried in her knees is Mukuro, and Junko is standing over her still, pinching the bridge of her nose.

“Muku, are you even listening to me?” Junko grumbles about her designer heels getting sand in them and her beautifully lotioned knees before kneeling in the sand next to her sister. She narrows her eyes before placing a hand on Mukuro’s shoulder. “Can you at least nod or shake your head or something? I don’t wanna sit on the sand all day.”

“... I… Just… G-Go away, please,” Mukuro finally manages to choke out. She looks up from her knees, her vision blurry from the pressure on them. Her mellow eyes take in everything she sees. Golden sand… Blue sea… A gentle breeze brushes against Mukuro’s skin. The soldier looks to her left at her annoyed sister. “That… thing said we’re on an island, right?”

“Yeah! Kinda weird, don’tcha think? We’re in a classroom when suddenly this off-brand Trix rabbit teleports us to a remote island in the middle of nowhere,”

Standing up, Junko pulls Mukuro roughly to her feet. The older sister glares, but Junko pokes her tongue out and sends her a peace sign. Mukuro’s eyes catch something--a few things, actually.

“Is that a camera?” A growl leaves Mukuro’s throat. “They’re spying on us?!”

Junko rolls her eyes. “Yeah, dummy, try to keep up. Apparently it’s supposed to watch over us and make sure we aren’t in any danger, but I don’t buy it. I think the only other people here who believe me is detective chick, gloomy girl, and Tyrannical Togami,”

“Detective chick? Gloomy girl? Tyrannical Togami?”

Junko begins to cackle. “Oh my God! I totes forgot that your ass passed out! That’s kinda embarrassing, but don’t worry, your pathetic ass can introduce yourself now!”

Mukuro tilts her head curiously. “How many others are here?”

“Like, besides us, fourteen,”

Fourteen other Ultimate students are trapped on this island. Chances are that everyone else has introduced themselves while Mukuro passed out on the sand, and now Mukuro has to be the odd-one-out and awkwardly introduce herself.

“C’mon, Muku, let’s gooo!” Junko grabs on Mukuro and begins to pull her off of the beach. Mukuro stumbles but follows her sister.

While the pair of sisters were walking, a chiming sound rang in between the giggles from Junko. Puzzled, Mukuro shoves her hand into her pocket and pulls out some sort of phone. Her brows furrow in thought as she examines the device.

“Oh, you found the e-Handbook!” Mukuro looks up from the supposed “e-Handbook”. “Ugh, stop looking like some sort of confused puppy. Usami gave it to us while you were in the middle of passing out.”

“It’s an Ewectwonic Student Handbook!”

“Gah!”

Mukuro pulls out her gun, dropping the e-Handbook in the process, pointing it at the rabbit that suddenly appeared. Junko begins to cackle while Usami looks horrified.

“Uwah! D-Don’t point that at meee! Pwease!” Usami cowers behind her wand. She doesn’t seem to realize that her body is still vulnerable to attack. ”I’m sowwy I stawtled you! Pwease put that away, pwease!”

Eyes narrowed, Mukuro lowers her gun and slips in back into its holder on her thigh. Usami is visibly relieved, a sigh of relief coming from her mouth. “What do you want?”

“I just came to tell you that that device is a vewy cwucial part of this field twip! Pwease don’t lose it!”

Important?

“How’s this… device important?” Mukuro bends down to pick the e-Handbook up. She runs her fingers over the smooth screen, gazing at the rabbit curiously.

Usami wiggles in place with her wand sparkling. “My task for everyone is to use this Ewectwonic Student Handbook and gather ‘Hope Shards’!” Hope Shards? Usami continues. “You see, when you deepen your bonds with your classmates on this island, you acquire ‘Hope Shards’. The more you get along with everyone, the more ‘Hope Shards’ you gather!” Usami waddles up to Mukuro and takes the latter’s hands in her paws. “I want you to gather as many ‘Hope Shards’ as you can, and make your Hope flower bwoom… That’s the goal of this yield twip!”

Before Mukuro can respond to those words, Usami chirps out a “Wuv! Wuv!” and skips off from the twins. The soldier sputters out a weak “Hey!”, but Usami didn’t come back.

“‘Hope Shards’... What’re they? It’s like we’re playing a game...”

Junko, who had been watching the conversation silently, chuckles. “Wow! You do seem to have some brains up there! How perceptive… This is a game,” The light-hearted look on Junko’s face dims. A shadow of doubt and suspicion hangs over her eyes. “I’m not usually wrong; I know this is a game, but… I thought we were here to off each other. Ugh! How could my genius brain betray me like this!”

“Junko…”

“Look, you don’t have to believe me, but something’s totally off here,”

“I do believe you,”

Junko stares blankly at Mukuro. Mukuro could see the gears turning in her head as she subconsciously analyzed Mukuro and her intentions. Junko doesn’t mean for it to happen but it does, and she can’t stop it; however, she’s getting better about it.

“OK… Let’s go introduce you to the other students!” Junko perks up and skips off. Mukuro follows her after a sigh.

Palm trees loom over Mukuro’s form, making her feel small. She wearily observes as Junko slows to walk beside her and talks nonstop. The two heads left from the beach, and a building is swiftly approaching from the distance.

Stepping into the building, Mukuro takes notice of the tropical yet sleek interior. It’s an airport. Inside are two males face-to-face while yelling at each other. Mukuro perks up as she remembers both males from earlier.

The taller male has a long pompadour that’s hitting the shorter male’s forehead comedically. He’s wearing a loose fitting wife beater with a long coat on, vague symbols on the back, and baggy pants cuff to show white shoes. The shorter male has short, spiky, black hair and piercing red eyes. He’s wearing a white, uptight uniform with a red armband on his left arm, and black boots are fitted on his feet.

“I told you! I can’t fix some Goddamn airplane! I work on motorcycles! Open those big ass ears of yours and listen to me!” Pompadour male jabs his finger in the other’s chest.

“It’s important to have an escape option off of this island in case something goes wrong! I wouldn’t want anything to happen to my fellow classmates if something went wrong!” The strict male crosses his arms with a stern look. “So, I’m asking you to at least look at the engines!”

“Asking?! Motherfucker, you’re telling me to! And I don’t fly planes! I. Drive. Motor. Cycles!”

Mukuro and Junko awkwardly watch back and forth as the argument grows. “Is this a bad time?” Mukuro asks. She flinches when two pairs of irate eyes settle on them both.

The strict male stands to attention. “You! You haven’t introduced yourself, and neither have I!” He holds up his fist in a commanding pose. “My name is Kiyotaka Ishimaru, and I’m the Ultimate Moral Compass! I believe in bold simplicity! Let us work together to become classmates and get off of this island, so we can do our homework!”

Mukuro stands tall and saluts. “Mukuro Ikusaba, also known as the Ultimate Soldier! Pleased to meet you!”

The male laughs. “I like you, Mukuro! And, please, call me Taka!”

Taka, huh?

The pompadour male huffs but gazes at Mukuro. “Mondo Oowada… Nice to fuckin’ meetcha…”

Taka glares at Mondo. “He’s the Ultimate Biker Gang Leader so he should know all about engines, yet he won’t even take a look at the airplanes!”

Mondo throws his hands up. “‘Cuz I don’t fuckin’ work with plane engines ya Goddamn idiot!”

Junko clears her throat, breaking up the argument. “The planes don’t actually have engines in them anyways, so don’t bother looking for any to fix,”

“Ah… well…” Taka visibly deflates. “Then… it was my fault for not checking the airplanes out myself! I’ve become such a horrible person! Somebody pinch me, punish me!”

“Uh, Junko, we should probably… leave,”

“Sounds like a fantastic idea, Muku!”

The two sisters shuffle backwards and run out of the airport. Mondo watches them leave, a betrayed expression on his face as he’s left with Taka repeatedly apologizing to him.

Two chimes from Mukuro’s e-Handbook. Two Hope Shards.

Laughing, the two sisters continue to go left. Mukuro checks her e-Handbook while they walk, wondering how many more people will be waiting for her. She can’t quite remember.

“I bet those two’ll fuck by the end of the day,” A blush races across Mukuro’s face at Junko’s statement. Junko laughs and leans on her sister. “Aw, don’t be a prude! Don’tcha think that they’ll mess around with each other? God knows they need it with all that tension between them.”

“O-Oh… maybe?”

“Ugh, you’re no fun,”

Now in front of a new building, Mukuro sees a name on the front of it--Rocketpunch Market. With a slight bounce in her step, Mukuro pushes the doors open.

“A supermarket… It’s pretty big…”

“That’s what she said,”

“What?”

“Who the hell are you?” The orange-haired male from earlier is standing in front of some surfboards, gazing at the two with a slight smirk. He runs his hand through his hair and winks. “Guess we haven’t been introduced. The name’s Leon Kuwata! What’s up?”

The orange-haired male is dressed like some punk band star. With a piercing below his lip, rings on his fingers, and the graphic t-shirt of a baseball thrown into a skull completing the look. A white blazer is on him, collar popped.

“Mukuro Ikusaba,” The soldier walks forward and saluts once the doors close. “The Ultimate Soldier.”

Leon’s jaw drops. His light eyes suddenly start to tremble. “Hey, you aren’t gonna kill me or anything, right?”

Junko scoffs. “She may be a soldier but she’s passive as fuck. She won’t attack unless she’s ordered or she’s in danger, so you’re fine,”

“Heeey, Junko,” Leon gives a lazy smirk, shooting her a kiss. Junko rolls her eyes.

“Didn’t you ask me if Sayaka was single?”

“What’s your talent?” Mukuro asks, and Leon’s face screws up.

“Ugh, I knew you were gonna ask that shit. I’m the Ultimate Baseball Star, but that’s not at all what my heart’s into!” Leon thrusts his fists into the air. “I’m gonna become the Ultimate Musician, ‘cuz baseball sucks ! It’s so stupid!”

Leon turns his back and begins to examine some of the shelves, a dark shadow over his face. Mukuro looks at Junko in curiosity. “Did I say something wrong?”

“Nah, he just likes to hype himself up about becoming the Ultimate Musician despite not actually being able to play an instrument,”

Mukuro catches a slight movement from the corner of her eye. She turns to see a short girl with shoulder length, brown hair and hazel eyes gazing at her from behind a shelf. She has on a green cardigan and a brown skirt. She squeaks when Mukuro stares at her, stammering out an apology. Jumping, Mukuro begins to apologize back.

In the middle of the apology-fest is Junko with a very annoyed look on her face. She watches each apology with a bored expression. “God, you two seriously need some therapy,” Two sets of eyes turn to her. “Chihiro has social anxiety and an inferiority complex and Mukuro has PTSD.”

“No, I don’t!”

“A-Anxiety…?”

“No, no! No need to thank me for my observations,” Junko waves at the space between the two, and Mukuro takes a hesitant step forward.

“I-I’m Mukuro Ikusaba, the Ultimate Soldier,”

“I’m… Chihiro Fujisaki! The Ultimate Programmer,” Chihiro wrings her hands together and shuffles nervously on her feet. Tears prick at her eyes. “Hey, so, you aren’t mad at me, right? For… staring?”

Mukuro shakes her head. “No, I’m used to being stared at. Some people… don’t like people like me,”

“But… why? You’re so nice!”

“I’m a soldier, so I’ve had to kill people. But,” Mukuro continues sharply when Chihiro takes a slight step backwards. “I promised myself that I wouldn’t do that anymore once I came to Hope’s Peak Academy. War was the one thing I wanted, but I just want a break.”

Chihiro nods hesitantly. “I get it. Y-You had to be someone else so people wouldn’t be mean…”

Without another word, Chihiro smiles lightly and walks away to talk to Leon. Mukuro watches the smaller girl leave, a blank expression on her face. Had to be someone else… Yeah. That’s how it would best be described as.

A light pinch to Mukuro’s shoulder shakes her from her silent state, and she flinches as she looks to Junko. The younger sister cocks her head. “You aren’t doing some weird soldier thing, right?”

“Oh. No, I was just…” The soldier trails off. Two chimes came from the e-Handbook inside of her pocket again. “We should get going.”

“Understandable. Bye you two!” Junko waves lightly with a sing-song tone. Her bright smile sends both Leon and Chihiro into a flushed state.

Once the doors to the supermarket closes, Mukuro chuckles lightly. “You really like to use your charm on anyone, huh?”

Junko scoffs and flips her hair over her shoulder. “You know it, sis!” Her face scrunches up and she flinches.

Looking to her right in concern, Mukuro grabs her sister and pulls her close. Junko blinks her eyes closed and flinches again with a hiss escaping her grit teeth.

Sighing, Mukuro leads her sister into a new area where they're surrounded by cottages, and another large building rests away from them. Junko physically shakes her sister's grasp off of her.

"What's your damage?"

Mukuro looks into Junko's eyes. "You know you don't have to hide it. The swapping, or whatever you call it,"

Junko looks away and towards the ground. Her jaw clenches, and Mukuro wants to beg to figure out what's going on inside her sister's mind. Why she feels like this. Why she talks down on herself despite being confident. Why…

"I… know I don't have to hide it, but I don't want them around,"

"I don't think they're too bad,"

Junko snorts. "Tell that to my managers,"

"Junko…"

"I'm not talking about this," Junko walks off, still fighting internally. Mukuro watches her for a moment before following her.

Mukuro can imagine how her sister feels. The itching beneath her skin that continues to burn her, begging to be let out. She doesn’t even know how it happened, but… Junko is still her sister who she needs to watch over. Even if she’s being a pain in the ass.

In front of her, Junko comes to a stop in front of the large building that Mukuro saw earlier. She glances over her shoulder and grins at Mukuro’s dumbfounded look.

“Wow… this is a nice looking hotel!”

“‘Hotel Mirai’...” Junko snorts out a tiny laugh and flips her pigtailed hair. “Yeah, I guess they decided to go with a Japanese word to name the hotel. Not as trendy as some of the hotels I’ve been to, but whatevs!”

Mukuro looks over her shoulder at the cottages they had passed, counting sixteen of them. “I guess we won’t have to pitch camping tents then,”

“Don’t sound so disappointed! You can still sleep on the floor if you really want,” Junko checks her red nails on her hands. “Get a crick in your neck for all I care.”

The fashionista perks up and waves at something behind Mukuro’s back. “Hiii, babe! Mukuro, turn and meet some more people!”

Following the command, Mukuro turns and... looks up…

“My name is Sakura Ogami. I am the Ultimate Martial Artist,”

Sakura stood tall, over six feet, and seemed to tower over the twins. She wore a white school outfit that stretches over enormous muscles, the sleeves torn off at her deltoids. Bandages cover her forearms and calves while long scars litter over her darker skin, contrasting her white hair. Her silver eyes were narrowed but showed nothing but warmth upon seeing the two girls.

“M-Mukuro Ikusaba!” She stammers out. Junko snickers from her side. Mukuro may be a soldier, but she doesn’t think that she stands a chance against the Ultimate Martial Artist. “I’m the Ultimate Soldier!”

Sakura perks up and uncrosses her arms from across her chest. “Soldier?” She begins to feel Mukuro’s arms and legs, ignoring the red hue that now resides on the soldier’s face. “Hm. While you look like you may not have adequate muscle mass, feeling you tells me a different story. You will make a great training partner.” She steps back.

“Training… partner?”

“Of course. I need to be in shape and at my best,” Sakura smiles slightly. “You won’t mind training with me, right? I tried to convince Mondo to be my training partner, but he refused.”

Mukuro blinks and thinks over Sakura’s request. She probably doesn’t have anyone other than me (and Mondo apparently) to spar with. “I… Yes, I’ll spar with you,”

“Excellent. I look forward to our first training session,”

A loud gasp pulls Mukuro’s attention from the martial artist, but she doesn’t have time to react before hands are gripping hers and someone is talking a mile a minute. Mukuro is yanked over towards the pool while the person keeps chatting.

“Uh…”

“--and I was talking to Sakura about the pool! It may be smaller than I’m used to but--”

“Excuse me?”

“Hm?” The girl stops talking and claps her hands. She’s wearing a tanktop with a red jacket over it, collar popped. She’s also wearing shorts and tennis shoes. Hina’s brown hair grabs Mukuro’s attention--it swirls up. “Oh right! We haven’t met yet before you decided to faceplant the sand!”

It… Did I really fall face first?

“I’m Aoi Asahina, the Ultimate Swimming Pro! But my friends just call me Hina,” Hina giggles at Mukuro’s face. “‘Sup?”

‘Sup? She’s heard that before!

“Uhm… ‘S-Sup! I’m Mukuro Ikusaba, and I’m the Ultimate Soldier!”

Hina begins to draw random patterns into the palm of her hand. “Mukuro Ikusaba… Mukuro… Ikusaba…”

Curious, Mukuro watches the movements. “What are you doing?”

“Huh? Oh, this! I tend to forget names and faces easily, and I made up a way for me to remember! See?” Hina takes Mukuro’s wrists in her hands again and guides her to draw in the palm of her hand with her pointer finger. “If you write the person’s name three times on the palm of your hand, you won’t forget it!”

“Th-That’s amazing! I never knew that something like that existed!”

From behind her, Mukuro hears a slight snicker. Junko appears with a grin. “Hina will tell you all kinds of things that’ll blow your tiny mind,” Mukuro pouts at the insult. “We gotta go, though. We’ll see you later, Hina!”

“Bye, Junko! Mukuro!”

Another person catches Mukuro’s sharp eyes. She’s standing near the front of Hotel Mirai silently while watching the sisters. She has lavender colored hair that flows down her back and piercing lavender eyes. A dark leather jacket sits over her button down shirt and tie, and her dark skirt and heeled boots tie the whole outfit together.

Junko practically skips over to the other girl, leaving Mukuro to trail behind her with an intrigued expression. The girl stares not at Junko while she talks 90 to nothing, but at Mukuro herself.

“You’re the one who passed out,” She tucks a lock of hair behind her ear. “Stressful situations such as these can have unintended consequences, no matter how friendly and unassuming the situation is.”

“I’m sorry for passing out. I don’t know what happened,”

“You don’t have to worry about it,”

“Muku, this is Detective chick!” Junko interrupts the conversation, greatly annoyed.

The girl hums. “Detective chick? I suppose so, but I won’t respond to your nicknames anytime soon, Junko,”

“Aw, bummer!”

“Anyways,” The girl turns back to Mukuro with a slight nod. “My name is… Kyoko Kirigiri. I am the Ultimate Detective.”

“I’m Mukuro Ikusaba, the Ultimate Soldier,”

Kyoko glances down at Mukuro’s gloves. “Something’s under your gloves,”

Mukuro’s brows shoot up as a squeak of surprise escapes her. “How--”

“You keep rubbing the back of your right hand, and your standing position turns slightly to the right. You block your right side from view. You’ve been doing it while we’ve been talking,”

To Mukuro’s surprise, she is rubbing the back of her hand and is turned away slightly. She shuffles to stand facing Kyoko and catches her sister staring at the detective with hearts in her eyes. Mukuro chuckles slightly, and Junko perks back up.

“Isn’t Kyoko just super smart? She has those detective genes in her,” Junko smiles dopily.

“We’re done now, right?” Kyoko’s question nearly knocks Junko off of her feet (literally).

Junko visibly deflates and begins to shy away. “Y-Yeah, but--”

“Goodbye,” Kyoko turns away from them and is back to her silent state.

Mukuro takes Junko’s hand and leads her away. “Is she your friend?”

“She’s… Nevermind, this is about you,” Junko jumps back to her regular self, but there’s a slight hesitance that wasn’t there before. “C’mon, there should be more people in here.”

Mukuro ignores the three chimes from her e-Handbook and follows her sister inside of Hotel Mirai.

“Hey, you two!”

Two sets of eyes lock onto the twins. Mukuro’s heart jumps at the perfect smile on the boy’s face. It doesn’t look as forced as everyone else’s when they met her.

The boy looks… plain. But a good kind of plain! He has fluffy brown hair with some of it that sticks up on top and nice green eyes. A jacket is thrown over his hoodie, and his red shoes are clumsily tied into a knot. The taller girl next to him has stunning blue hair with a perfect set of eyes to match. She has on a white school outfit and a pink bow on her rounder chest.

The girl next to the boy smiles warmly and tilts her head as the sisters walk closer. “Hi! I’m Sayaka Maizono, the Ultimate Pop Sensation. I look forward to getting to know you!”

“I’m Makoto Naegi. I’m the Ultimate Lucky Student, but…” The boy trails off and scratches the back of his neck. “I’m not very lucky.”

“Mukuro Ikusaba! The Ultimate Soldier!” Mukuro juts her hand out awkwardly. Junko, watching curiously from the sidelines, raises a brow at her sister’s behavior.

Makoto takes Mukuro’s gloved hand and shakes it. The heart in Mukuro’s chest soars. Giggling, Sayaka grabs Mukuro’s hand after Makoto drops it.

“The Ultimate Soldier? Where were you deployed?”

Mukuro seems to hesitate, eyes flicking to Junko. “Uh… Middle East,” She lamely states. “Sorry, I don’t really talk about myself.”

“She also doesn’t understand memes! Isn’t she just adorable?” Junko pats her sister’s head then flicks the lobe of her ear. Mukuro huffs. “Like a puppy! Yep, that’s your nickname from now on, Muku.”

Sayaka and Makoto laugh at the sisterly playfulness, and Mukuro’s heart soars. She doesn’t know why her heart is beating this fast or why she really likes looking into those soft eyes… Maybe she finally found someone she can call a friend? Maybe someone more?

But why does her heart beat more when…

“Sisters, huh?” Makoto nods his head. “I have a younger sister: Komaru Naegi. When we get off of this island, I should take you guys to meet her!”

“Aw, lucky!” Sayaka seems to pout and looks away, fiddling with the bow on her chest subconsciously. “I’ve always wanted a sibling.”

“Trust me, you don’t,”

“Whaaat?! Muku, you whore, you’d give me up as a sister?! Waaaaah!” Junko fake cries. Mukuro tiredly looks at her while Makoto laughs. Sayaka seems confused. “Y-You’re so mean to me! After all the times I called you in Fenrir just to take your mind off the battlefield--”

“You called me when I was in battle,”

“--and now I’m not even your sister?! Waaaaah! I even got you a IPhone so you won’t have to use that disgusting Blackberry!”

Sayaka nods. “I see why siblings are… uh…”

“Wh--?! I’m not that bad!”

“Before you leave, by the way,” Makoto points towards the stairs with a slight smile. “Celeste and Hifumi are up there.”

“Ugh!” Junko groans. She folds her arms across her chest. “But I don’t wanna see the liar and her lapdog! She insulted you when you fell and made fun of your freckles!”

Mukuro smiled. “Thank--”

“And only I’m allowed to do that! C’mon, let’s beat this bitch up!” Junko marches to the stairs and up them, disappearing above. Mukuro sighs and shakes her head.

“It was nice meeting you two,”

“You too!”

“Bye!”

Mukuro's e-Handbook chimes two more times.

Mukuro climbs the stairs and sees some kind of restaurant setting on this floor. Loud talking catches her attention, so she immediately follows the sound to a kitchen area in the next room. She sees Junko talking with two people.

The first is a obese male that’s gazing at Junko in awe. He wears a gray cardigan over his white button up shirt and an orange tie that has a blue pattern on it. Small glasses sit on his face so his beady eyes can see. A backpack rests on his shoulders.

The second is a girl dressed in mainly black and white. She has black, drilled hair with a gothic headpiece in her hair. Angry yet calm red eyes stare directly at Mukuro, and she shivers at the neutral smile on the girl’s face. A black and white dress covers her body, and a black blazer is thrown over her torso with a red tie on her blouse.

“Ah, the girl who fainted on the sand,” The girl holds her hand over her mouth to hide her emotions, but Mukuro can see the twinkle of amusement in her crimson eyes. “Whatever brought you here?”

Mukuro takes a few steps forward and yanks Junko back by the collar of her shirt. “Hey! That’s designer, and I refuse for it to be torn, stretched, wrinkled, matted, stained--” Junko went off into a tangent.

“I believe we have not been properly introduced yet,” The goth bows slightly. “I am Celestia Ludenberg, the Ultimate Gambler. Please, call me Celeste.”

“Celestia… Luden… What?” Mukuro tries the name a few more times before giving up. “Loo-den-burg.”

“Ludenberg,”

“I-I’m sorry,” Mukuro mumbles.

The male a few feet away pushes up his glasses. “Heh. I am Hifumi Yamada! The Ultimate Fanfic Creator! But, if you wanna call me by my nickname, ‘The Alpha and the Omega!’, I wouldn’t mind,”

“Fan… fic?” Mukuro doesn’t know that term. It must be some kind of music or something. “I’m Mukuro Ikusaba, the Ultimate Soldier.”

“SOLDIER?!”

“Hmm. I’m curious,” Celeste leans forward ominously, eyes staring into the soldier’s soul. “Soldiers simply do not just faint on the sand, no?”

Mukuro averts her eyes. “I… have bad memories on islands,”

“Ah, I see,” Hifumi makes a thinking motion.

Uuugh ! Muku, I don’t wanna talk to these hoes anymore! The goth lotita physically scares me and the weeb smells like potato chips!”

Mukuro squeaks when Junko grabs her arm and drags her out of the kitchen, down the stairs, passes by a very confused duo, passes three more very confused people, and out of the cottage area. Junko is babbling the whole way to a different area of the island. Two chimes spring from her e-Handbook.

“--and how dare she say that my body is made mostly of plastic?! I’ll pickel her limbs!”

Made of plastic?

“Where’re we going now, Junko?” Mukuro pulls her arm out of Junko’s strong grasp and rubs the indents from her red nails.

“There’s, like, two more places we need to go and then,” Junko pauses for dramatic effect as they come to a stop in front of a farm-looking area. “we’re done!”

“Usami Coral?”

“Yeah, a farm. And yet, there are literally no animals here,”

“But those are chickens…?”

“It’s a figure of speech…” Junko pinches the bridge of her nose and sighs.

“Oopsie…” Mukuro jolts once again and has to physically restrain herself from pulling her gun and firing. Usami seems to beam at the two sisters. “You got me!”

“Wh--?!” Mukuro folds her arms across her chest uncomfortably in an attempt to hug herself. “Where the hell do you keep appearing from?!”

“I am a vewy elusive bunny wabbit! I can appear anywhere on this island!” Usami waves the fancy stick in her paws. “It’s all thanks to my Magical Stick!”

“Magical Stick”... that ridiculous toy she’s holding?

Usami turns her body to the farm where the twins had entered with a slight disappointed sigh. “Oh, but this is indeed twoubling… A farm without a cow is like a Japan representative who isn’t Japanese,”

“That’s a dumb comparison,” Junko scoffs.

Shooting the stick into the air, Usami begins to wave it around. She tells the two to stay back as she points the stick towards the chicken. With a flash of pink, the chicken sparkles and glows, growing bigger and bigger until an average sized cow stands in its place.

What… the hell.

“Great success!” Usami cheers.

Mukuro gapes at the cow standing in the farm, the chicken nowhere to be seen. Spluttering noises escape from her mouth as Usami and Junko watch her.

“Ugh, stop tryna wrap your tiny mind around it. It’s probably just smoke and mirrors and all that magician type shit,” Junko says, but the grimace on her face tells another story.

Usami disappears once again when the sisters step deeper into the farm. Mukuro watches a male walk up to the cow in astonishment and pats its side before… praying?

“Hiro, get the fuck up and stop kneeling in the mud,” Junko huffs in annoyance at the male.

Hiro stands with a jolt and turns with his hands together in a prayer. He has on sandals and baggy pants, and over his button-down white shirt is a dark coat that hangs over his shoulders. His brown hair spreads wildly behind him in dreadlocks, and stubble dabs at his tan skin on his chin.

“Oh, the passed out chick!”

Mukuro sweatdrops. Is that how she’s going to be remembered by everyone on this island?

“I’m Yasuhiro Hagakure, the Ultimate Clairvoyant. Hiro for short!” Hiro scratches his chin with a slight grin. “Take it easy, yeah? I know I will.”

“Mukuro Ikusaba, the Ultimate Soldier,” Puzzled, Mukuro tilted her head. “Uh, clairvoyant?”

Hiro laughs lightly. “Yeah! I’m right thirty percent of the time,” He looks Mukuro up and down before nodding. A grin slips higher onto his face. “I totally see it.”

Junko groans.

“See what?” Mukuro cautiously asks.

“I saw a wolf the size of Bigfoot running across a battlefield! It was fighting a vampire, and they don’t sleep, y’know? It looked like an epic battle!” Hiro pats himself on the back, literally.

Junko rolls her eyes. “Uh huh, and was that wolf supposed to be her spirit animal?”

“Haha! No, it was actually her! Sometimes--”

“Ugh, we get it. We still have people to meet,”

“Oh! Um… Is this about your prediction earlier?” Hiro scratches the back of his neck. “I mean, I never said that your future lover wouldn’t not like you.”

Junko flushes red and grumbles. Mukuro giggles slightly. Groaning, the younger sister turns and walks a few feet away to the next person. Mukuro follows and sees the girl standing at the edge of a mud pile and glaring at the two as they approach.

“Wh-What are you looking a-at? Am I th-that ugly that y-you have t-to stare?”

Mukuro blinks in shock while Junko rolls her eyes. In front of the twins was a girl who was hunched in on herself, arms blocking her chest defensively as she glared at Mukuro. She’s wearing a dark school outfit with a long skirt to her mid-calves. Large circle glasses sit crooked to the side on her nose and her mouth turns to a scowl, the beauty mark below her bottom lip not looking very beautiful.

“I-I knew it!” The girl suddenly jerks away from the twins and scowls. She holds her hands to her head and shakes. “You’re just h-here to make fun of m-me! Haha, l-like I’m just some d-dirty pig in--”

Junko slaps her palm, literally, onto the girl’s mouth and ignores the burning glare into her soul. “Yeah yeah, I know you don’t like people looking at your or whatever, but this puppy still hasn’t introduced herself!”

Mukuro shoots her sister a bewildered stare which goes ignored. “Puppy? I’m still being called that?”

“Eheh, I get it… You t-two--”

Mukuro visibly stands straight and begins to talk over the perverted words that continue to stammer out. “I’m Mukuro Ikusaba, the Ultimate Soldier! This is my sister , Junko Enoshima!”

The gloomy girl blinks once before turning a bright red and glancing away. “I-I knew that, but I was j-just… testing your sk-skills as a s-soldier…”

But she didn’t know I was a soldier until I told her… Mukuro sweatdrops.

“Hmph… N-Not that you’ll r-remember me anyway…” The gloomy girl hunches her shoulder even more, somehow, and says. “I-I’m Toko F-Fukawa, the Ultimate Writing Prodigy.”

Junko hums. “Say, Gloomy girl, did you find Tyrannical Togami?”

“D-Don’t say his n-name like th-that!” Toko jams her finger out and nearly pokes Junko in her chest. Junko stares down at the hand until Toko jerks back as if the stare had burned her arm off. “But… no, I-I haven’t s-seen him.”

Mukuro hums in thought. “Is there anywhere we haven’t checked?”

“I’ve looked everywhere! H-He just disappeared f-from the island!”

“I doubt that,” Junko mutters under her breath. “He just doesn’t like you.”

Toko bites her thumbnail dubiously. “I-If you find h-him… Can…” The writer giggles and presses her finger tips together dopily. “Hehe… Tell m-me wh-where he is?”

Junko and Mukuro slowly start to back away from the writer with uncomfortable grins. “Oh, yeah, psh, no promises!” Junko fake laughs. “Muku, we need to go before she’s hornier than before.” Mukuro’s e-Handbook chimes two more times.

When Toko looks back up, both girls are gone from her view. She huffs and fumbles her hands together.

Mukuro and Junko find the last place they can possibly go on the island called Jabberwock Park. It’s a few yards from where they began at the beach. In this part of the island, they find a tall, blond male with his arms crossed over his chest. He’s wearing a fancy suit and rectangular glasses. He’s glaring fiercely at a statue in the middle of the park.

“Tyrannical Togami! My man, it’s been eighty-four years!” Junko cackles once they reach where the blond stands.

The male doesn’t turn to acknowledge the sisters, but he does scoff. “Junko. What do you want?”

“Hey, no need to be a douchebag. I brought someone who wants to say hi! Say hi, Muku!”

“Um,” Mukuro watches as the blond turns somewhat slowly to watch her with narrowed eyes. “Mukuro Ikusaba, the Ultimate Soldier.”

“Soldier? Did your commanders instruct you to pass out whenever life is too inconvenient to you?”

Ouch…

“Hmph. No matter,” He crosses his arms once more and looks away. “Name’s Byakuya Togami.”

An awkward silence rings out before Mukuro clears her throat. “Wh-What’s your talent?”

“You don’t know? You would think that someone in a high position such as myself would have more recognition. I’m the Ultimate Affluent Progeny.”

A single chimes comes from Mukuro’s e-Handbook.

Ding dong, bing bong!

On the monitor in Jabberwock Park, Usami flickers on with a blush and cheerful smile. “Congwatulations, everyone! It looks like everyone managed to gather their vewy first set of Hope Shards! Oh oh oh oh…” Usami tears up, but manages to wipe them away with her paws. “this makes me so vewy happy… And so, I have prepared special pwesents so that you can be happy too!

“I’m sorry for the twouble, but please gather up back at the beach. Tee-hee! Let’s make our hope shine together!”

The monitor flickers off.

“I’ll be on my way, then,” Byakuya marches out of Jabberwock park, leaving the twins behind.

Mukuro speaks first. “Junko… I have a bad feeling…”

“I feel it too…”

They should make their way to the beach, but… something swirls in the pit of Mukuro’s gut. Anxiety?

Maybe… nothing will go wrong? Maybe Mukuro wants to feel normal compared to her usual paranoia.

Chapter Text

Mukuro always likes to pride herself in being the first soldier on the battlefield. The first to see war and not take a hit. The first to be completely unaffected by it.

She's a dumbass.

Junko rolls her eyes as they walk to the beach all sixteen students ended up on. Mukuro had that look in her eye again. The one that says she's completely fine, but Junko knows that isn't true. She isn't naive. Or stupid. Not like one dumbass she knows that completely ignores her feelings and has no idea how to properly human.

But... she gets it.

Junko can't properly human either. Maybe the reason she can't properly human is because of these damn voices in her head.

She used to keep a journal. Her therapist said it was a good idea when the last one came around when she was fifteen. It... wasn't for very long, but it somehow helped.

Maybe she should get in touch. But...

A comforting pressure pushes on Junko's mind, relaxing her. Junko presses her fingers against her temples. She... actually feels bearable. Too bad Junko can't thank her yet.

Junko snaps out of her head when she sees that they arrived at the beach. She also sees that they're the last ones there.

Mukuro grimaces out of the corner of her eye. Junko subconsciously reads the expression thoroughly. She feels disappointed that she isn't the first to arrive. She wants to be better than she is. Anxiety pricks at her judging by the gnawing she's doing at her bottom lip. Her fingers scratch at the back of her right glove, and Junko follows the movement.

"Muku, I'm right here," Junko doesn't like to be the one that reassures people because she'll accidentally move the conversation to herself. That makes others think she's selfish. "Don't worry. I'll, uh, y'know. Scratch them with my awesomely awesome nails until they bleed if they don't like you all of a sudden."

Mukuro looks surprised when she turns to Junko, light purple eyes wide. Her expression steels into her "I'm a soldier, and I like to stab bad guys... pew pew" look. Junko groans in annoyance as they walk in the sand to their classmates.

So much for reassuring the soldier...

Byakuya sneers at them as they come closer to the group. "You're late. I expected this from the cover girl, but the soldier needs to better herself,"

Junko bristles. "Calm the hell down, Tyrannical Togami. Last time I checked, there was no damn time limit to come to the beach, so stop making shit up just to beat up people you see lower than yourself,"

The heir sneers, and Toko jabs her finger out. "D-Don't talk to Byakuya like that!" Byakuya scoots away from the writer with an uncomfortable frown.

"I can talk however the hell I'd like, so why don't--"

"Junko! Wow, look at this!" Mukuro quickly steps in and hands Junko a leather notebook. Junko takes it, shock on her face. She had seen her take the notebook from the supermarket which a specific someone forgot to mention, but assumed it was for Mukuro since she likes to keep journals, too.

Journals...

A depressed laugh escapes the confines of Junko's throat. "Oh... This is nice, I guess,"

"Wow! That's a nice notebook!" Hina swoops in and steals the notebook from Junko's hands. She flips through the blank pages. "Do you two like to write? Is that why Mukuro has one and got you one, too!"

"Hmph! I-I bet th-they aren't good..." Toko grumbles and looks away sharply. "The c-cover girl doesn't have any br-brains to her name; only her f-fake implants."

... OK, that kind of hurt, but she worked hard to get the money to have boobs! It's not Junko's fault she wasn't born a cisgender woman like Mukuro.

"We don't have time to talk about that," Kyoko speaks up to cut the tension. She glances at Mukuro, and Junko desperately wishes that her gaze was on her. "Mukuro, you're a soldier, do you know of any groups that have connections to do this to people?"

Mukuro blinks, startled at being called out. "Um... Not that I can think of. The only group that has the influence and connections would be..." She falters. "No, they wouldn't..."

Junko rolls her eyes. "You're talking about your pack of wolves, right? Fenrir?"

Byakuya perks up, suddenly interested in the conversation. "Fenrir? You're a part of Fenrir?"

"I... Yes,"

Taka raises his fist. "So Fenrir did this to us?!"

"No! Fenrir wouldn't do this..." Mukuro... looks unsure. Junko watches her closely. "Unless this is a training simulation?" She suddenly looks interested.

Mondo huffs. "A... training simulation?"

"Besides Fenrir as a possible candidate for trapping us here," Kyoko cups her chin in thought, and Junko's heart pounds in her ears. "The other options we have are the Togami Corporation and my father."

Makoto tilts his head and Sayaka, standing next to him, fiddles with her bow. "Your father...?" He says.

"Jin Kirigiri," Kyoko reveals. She looks up with a displeased frown. "I doubt that option, but it might be right. He might have organized this field trip."

For some odd reason... Junko doesn't believed Kyoko. Junko has this intense burning in her gut that's telling her that something is off. That something isn't as it seems. But... maybe she's wrong. It's rare, but Junko has gotten things wrong before.

"Your father is... the headmaster at Hope's Peak Academy?" Celeste folds her hands together and blankly stares at the lavender haired girl.

"Don't get the wrong idea. I got into Hope's Peak Academy because I'm the youngest detective to ever skip through nine levels," Kyoko says this with a stoic expression, but Junko can see the slight irritation in her face. The way her mouth turns down miniscule and her brows press together the tiniest bit. "But that doesn't matter right now. What matters is discussing the possible groups who could have captured us and how we can leave the island."

Byakuya hums. "There are several sealed off bridges on the central island. I doubt any of you besides the detective noticed such a detail. Pathetic,"

"Um... What if the gates are there to keep us from getting lost?" Hina suggests with a wide grin on her face. She stands akimbo proudly. "Yeah! I was tempted to swim across one, but then Usami asked me not to! She's so sweet!"

"How fuckin' big is this island, then? I don't see how any of us can get fuckin' lost," Mondo scratches the back of his neck with a pissed off glare towards the ground.

Junko looks around silently while the others converse on the subject. The glowing sky that never seems to go dark, the perfectly sparkling ocean with waves softly crashing to the sand, the very familiarity of the island... What is it? What is it about this island that seems so familiar? Why... Why can't Junko think clearly? She probably hit her head on the way over, but there's no immediate pain that springs anywhere--specifically her head.

Then... a lightbulb flickers on. Wait a damn minute...

Junko thinks back to the exploration of the island with Mukuro. The last area they went to...

"Jabberwock Island..." Junko says. She startles when everyone's eyes land on her for an explanation. "What, bitches?"

Hifumi pushes up his circular glasses, and he hesitantly opens his mouth. "Ms. Enoshima, we were just discussing all that we found on the island..."

"And I knew that! I was totally paying attention and definitely not thinking about something else! It's called multitasking," Junko grins and shoots the group a peace sign. "I have a brain despite looking dumb as hell."

"Jabberwock Island. I haven't heard that name in a long time..." Celeste twirls her black hair absentmindedly as she speaks. 

Mukuro perks up a little. "Oh! I've heard of Jabberwock Island! It's that group of five islands that surround the central one in the pacific ocean,"

"Oh, the one famous for its eternal summer and and scenery," Leon waves his arms around and spins. "And look where we are! The scenery is damn amazing, and the sun hasn't even moved from the sky!"

"Interesting..." Byakuya glances to the side, deep in thought. He rubs his temple. "However, from what I've heard, Jabberwock Island is..." He trails off with a faint smirk on his face. "... Never mind."

Sakura hums non-committedly. "Never mind...?"

Junko scoffs, rolls her eyes, and places her hands on her hips. "You can't just leave the story there! We're interested in the lore you fake ass Ross Lynch,"

"D-Don't talk to him l-like that you slut!"

Slut...

Slut.

Slut.

'I hate that fuckin' word...' The oldest voice in Junko's head seethes, close to the front of Junko's mind.

"What the hell did you just call me?" Junko manages to say calmly despite the nervous triggers that ring in her head. Anger pricks at her cheeks and heats up her skin until she's bright red.

Slut... Alarms ring in her head over and over again. Their presence in her head grows more and more until Junko's head feels as if it's going to pop from the intense buildup. That word doesn't make her feel safe or secure. They always use that word. It makes her icky and disgusting and unworthy. Buzzing fills her ears, vision hazing and mind becoming distant. No. One of them can't take over right now. She doesn't even like them, but... they help her... She's too mean... Always always always...

"Talk, dammit, what the fuck did you just fuckin' call me?!" Junko snaps at Byakuya's lapdog, making Toko flinch back in surprise. In fact, nearly everyone is taken aback by Junko's swift personality change.

Toko screeches. "N-Nothing!"

"Does it even fuckin' matter what this island is called?!" Mondo roars. He throws up his fists and shakes them. "Knowin' some island's God damn name isn't gonna help us escape! We don't even know where home is, so we're stuck here for a long ass time!"

"St-Stuck here...?" Chihiro tears up and chokes out a hoarse cry. "We're just going to... live here. I-I wanna go home!"

"Calm down," Kyoko's attractive tone cuts through the tense atmosphere, and eyes flick to the detective swiftly. "If we panic, there will be a small amount of us that will think rationally. There won't be a lot of people useful enough to plan an escape."

Junko snorts. "Duh doi! See, Kyoko's got the right idea!"

Leon hums and is more cool-headed than he was a moment ago. " Buuut ... if we stay on this island, we won't have to do any homework?"

"A sharp mind is built on education! We have to get off of this island so that we can build our intelligence!" Taka stands tall with a look of pure disappointment.

"Haha! This place doesn't seem too bad!" Hiro laughs wholeheartedly with a bright grin on his face.

Hifumi smirks and pushes his circular glasses up his stubby nose. "Heh... Then we shall live our days as we please on this island! With no major boss to fight and defeat, my power set will be useless; recharging my Ultra Hero Photon Beams that take years to fill will be easier in the sun," He deepens his voice. "In fact, it'll only take a few months!"

"I-I guess living o-on and island won't be... th-that bad," Toko mumbles absentmindedly while chewing on her thumb.

"Wh--?! We can't just live here forever you nimrods!" Junko leans forward slightly with a piercing glare. "Don't we all have family or jobs or... what-the-fuck-ever to get back to?! Togami, you run a damn corporation , and Muku's dumbass protects people! I have a modelling career! Come on! Muku, back me up here!"

Junko looks to her sister for support, but... Mukuro seems far away and lost in thought. Succumbing to her analyst abilities, Junko reads into her sister's body language. Anxiety, panic, curiosity, worry, fear... What is she thinking?

"Mukuro Ikusaba!' She pulls out the big guns--Mukuro's full name.

The soldier nods.

"You can't just go into one of your little soldier comas and not talk for four hours!" Junko is mad. No, not even mad--she's livid.

"Hmph. A word of advice, cover girl," Byakuya sneers with a cocky smirk. "Shut up. Your sister isn't going to listen to you and naturally agree like you think she will."

Kyoko nods slightly. "So then, we're agreeing to stay on this island?"

Despite the grumbling complaints from Junko and Taka, nearly everyone else is either whooping in excitement, nervously agreeing, or indifferent. Junko can not believe this. They're just going to give up? Can't they feel the intense pressure in the sky? Can't they sense that something is wrong? The last one isn't even Junko's analyst skills, it's pure instinct! What the hell is wrong with her class?!

"Fuck that," Junko scoffs to herself. She glances near the upper part of the beach that meets the road. "If we can just cut down the trees and make a raft--"

"You can't do that! I am very serious about that!" The stupid ass Trix rabbit pops from nowhere.

Junko's eye twitches in irritation, and out of the corner of her eye, she sees Mukuro come back to life and nearly pulls her gun again.

"Remember our rules! They're in the guide to this field trip!" Usami apologetically says as she points her paw at the pocket of Junko's blazer. Junko memorized the rules by barely scanning over them, so how could she forget about that very important detail? "'Throwing garbage and damaging the environment is forbidden. Let's live in harmony with nature on this beautiful island.'

"See?" The rabbit sways her body, as if she were dancing to music. "All I wish is for you to live peacefully with your friends and the nature on this beautiful tropical island!"

"Stupid Great Value brand Bunnicula!" Junko insults the rabbit out of pure frustration. Usami deflates a little but perks back up.

"What were those 'presents' you mentioned in your TV show?" Hina bounces from excitement.

Usami gasps and wiggles her body. It's so cute that it's annoying. "Oh, that's right ! Not that I forgot or anything, of course..." Usami places something in Junko's hands before waddling to give everyone else the same item. "Love! Love! Here they are! Don't rush! There's enough for everyone!"

Junko stares at the item in her hand. It's so stupid. In her hand is a miniature Usami on a small chain, and it's only missing her obnoxiously obnoxious wand-staff-thing.

"Hee hee hee hee! It's my Usami Charms! They speak if you push their belly!" Usami pushes on the belly of Sakura's charm with a giggle. Silence followed and then, "'My name is Usami... Magical Girl Miracle ★ Usami! I'm a tiny sweet milky girl!' Isn't that cute! Love! Love!"

Byakuya throws the charm to the ground. "... They're worthless,"

“Awww… I expected something good…” Hina also throws the item on the ground.

“Ugh!” Junko drops the charm and crosses her arms. She glares menacingly at the item. “I’m ashamed at myself for thinking it was gonna be good!”

“... Really?” Mukuro says as she turns the charm in her hand. A flush adorns her face as she smiles slightly. “I think they’re surprisingly cute. Especially how they talk…”

Mondo rolls his lilac colored eyes. “Seriously?” He also throws the charm on the ground.

Soon, nearly every Usami Charm is lying on the sand. The few who kept theirs is Mukuro (for some stupid ass reason), Taka (since he follows the rules, but he has an unimpressed look), and Sakura (for some unknown reason). Usami narrows her beady eyes and points her paw at the Usami Charms on the ground in disappointment.

“Hey! Dirtying nature with garbage is prohibited!”

Leon seems amused as he smirks. “So you admit they’re garbage!”

Usami sobs as she picks up the Usami Charms. She is heartbroken, and Junko can’t help but feel bad. Mukuro helps her pick them up and snags another with a red face.

“What?” The soldier snaps in defense when fifteen eyes of disbelief and Usami’s full of hope settle on her. “Th-They’re cute! Soldiers can like cute things…” She trails off.

“Teacher Usami! Thank you for the present but I don’t want mine, so you can have it back!” Taka quickly gives the rabbit his Usami Charm back and looks away so as to not see her crestfallen expression.

Usami looks to Sakura, but the warrior shakes her head. “I will also keep mine as well,”

“Oh, you two are so sweet! I should give you and Mukuro the other present since the others are all horrible children…”

Kyoko raises her brow. “... Oh? There’s something else?”

“Well, compared to the Usami Charms it’s not such a big deal, but…” Usami spreads her arms out with a content smile. “I prepared a ‘motive’ for all of you.”

Junko’s body tenses. “A motive?” She glares at the rabbit with an analyzing look. Why can’t she read Usami? Because she’s a robot, most likely, but what the hell is this motive supposed to be?

“That’s right. A ‘motive’ for everyone to become friends!” The rabbit shimmies in excitement. “As long as we’re by the sea, I thought we should do something for the occasion.”

“What, some kind of welcoming party or something?” Byakuya seems unimpressed.

Usami hops up and down, “Bingo!”

“Hmph. L-Like some sort o-of festival ?” Toko spits.

Hina squeals. She tugs on Sakura’s arm in excitement. “If we’re having a party on an island, we can have a feast! We should have donuts on the menu!”

“A campfire would be nice!” Hiro laughs.

“And proper procedure to make sure that nobody gets hurt!” Taka agrees with a powerful fist in the air.

Junko can’t believe them. Her classmates are dumb as hell.

“Everyone, I realize you all have your wishes, but since we’re at the sea…” Usami makes two bags appear from midair with her wand. A red and blue swimming bag plops down next to the rabbit on the sand. “See? This would be a great start!”

“... Swimming bags?” Mukuro tilts her head.

“Bingo! Love! Love!”

A loud gasp rips from Hina’s throat. She’s trembling in happiness. “Wait! That means…!”

“Thaaat’s right! I prepared swimsuits for each of you! Well, they’re school swimsuits, but please put up with them,” Usami opens the bags and waves everyone over.

“Y… You want us to wear swimsuits…?” Mukuro nervously glances at the ocean and then to the bags. She shakes her head. “Right now…?”

Oh, right. Junko nearly forgot that Mukuro, despite being a soldier and very physically active, can’t swim. Junko shakes her head and nearly growls.

“I am not ordering you to do anything,” Mukuro seems to relax if the dropping of her shoulders says anything. “It's just, I thought some of you would like to swim…”

“Who’d ever swim in this kind of situation?!” Junko yells out of pure hatred for the rabbit. “No one, not even the dumbass of dumbasses, would agree to jump into the ocean when we don’t know how the hell we came here…!”

“Woohoooooooooooo!”

Junko’s once confident stance falters as she watches most of her class races past her, grabs a swimsuit, and runs towards the hotel. “... What?”

“Alright, now we’re talkin’! The weather’s great!” Leon smirks as he says this. “Perfect for picking up some babes!”

“Besides the last part, I am in full agreement!” Taka chortles. “This is a perfect class building exercise!”

“It’s been years since I last swam in the ocean! C’mon Makoto!” Sayaka giggles.

“I’m right behind you!”

The only people who actually stayed on the beach were Mukuro, Byakuya, Toko, Kyoko, Celeste, Chihiro, and herself. Chihiro walks off hesitantly and picks a spot to plop down on the sand. She begins to build a sand castle.

Junko feels a slight pressure pushing her jaw up, and she just realized that it had been open. A familiar hum reaches her ears.

“I know how you feel, Junko. Everyone else is taking the situation too lightly,” Junko looks at Kyoko with a thankful sigh. “Besides you, Mukuro, and maybe Byakuya and Toko, nobody else sees anything wrong. And while I don’t have any evidence to support my hypothesis that something else is going on, I will look for it. No matter the cost.”

Junko barks out a soft laugh. “If you weren’t paranoid, would you be swimming too?”

“No,”

“No?”

“I’d rather… keep my gloves on and not ruin them,”

The rest of Junko’s classmates run back onto the beach and into the water with bright smiles and whoops and laughter. Seeing them act so carefree makes the pit in Junko’s stomach grow bigger and deeper, as if her body was trying to accommodate for the anxiety filling her still.

The gleaming sun… the clear blue water… the golden sand…

Was Junko really being overly paranoid? Was her analyst skills… wrong? Maybe she was being too cocky with her second talent and only saw things that she wanted to see. She’s…

The sky darkens. Junko’s head shoots up in surprise. She didn’t see this one coming, literally. Dark clouds continue to roll across the sky and block the sun from view. The cheerful shouts die out, and everyone is left to stare at the sky.

The pit in Junko’s stomach grows.

“Wh… What?” Toko gasps in horror.

“A… Awa… Awawawawa!” Usami cries out. Sweat is dripping from her pristine white fur as her beady black eyes widen in panic. “Wh… What’s going on?! What is thiiis?!”

“Huh?” Not even Usami knows what the hell is going on?!

“Why… I didn’t do anything… and yet…” She grabs her wand in both paws and shakes nervously and in fear. “This is impossible! This kind of thing shouldn’t happen!”

The monitor on the nearest palm tree flickers on to static. It begins to warp, and a shadowed figure of an animal is in the center of the screen.

“Aaa… Aaa…! Mike check, mike check! Can you hear me? Can you hear me?”

The speakers emit an easygoing and light voice that sounds raspy. Almost as if whoever is behind it smoked way too many cigarettes. It was very different from Usami’s. Instead of a friendly and hope-filled tone, this one is full of malice and despair. Junko feels her body shiver.

“Upupu… Did you let one out? Did you let one out in surprise?... You did, didn’t you?!” The voice cackles, and the sound makes Junko’s knees tremble and her stomach lurch. The pit grows bigger. “Well, then! I’ve kept you waiting far too long. Let’s end this boring opening act… It’s time to bring on the headliner! Please gather at Jabberwock Park, you bastards!”

The screen flips off.

Usami gasps. “Th-That voice…! It can’t be…!” She steels herself and holds her wand tightly in her paws. “B-But that’s terrible! If I don’t do something…! I must do something!” Usami waddles off in a surprisingly fast run.

“Hey, wait!” Mukuro calls out.

“That felt… alarming,” Celeste says with a face of pure neutrality.

“I think… we should go too…” Junko hesitantly admits. She watches as everyone else leaves the water with uneasy frowns.

“He said Jabberwock Park,” Byakuya is off. He walks ahead and doesn’t wait for anyone else.

Toko splutters. “W-Wait for me!”

Junko is… scared? No. Not scared but… wary. What was the thing on the monitors?

“Junko, let’s go,” Mukuro’s voice cuts through Junko’s inner monologue. Sky blue eyes meet light purple nervously. Mukuro hardens her gaze. “Come on.”

Mukuro begins a light jog towards their destination, and Junko swiftly follows. Thank God she can run in heels or else she’d be fucked.

Above their heads, the sky rumbles and shifts and grows. Despair hangs menacingly. Junko can’t help but wonder what will happen to the others who were swimming. Possibility after possibility spits from her head and fills her panicked mind with both good and bad thoughts.

The pressure in her head grows more desperate.

Junko nearly chokes as she suddenly runs into her sister’s outstretched arm with her throat. Mukuro is glaring at the sky with narrowed eyes, other hand twitching for the knife on her thigh feverishly. Glancing around, Junko notices that, along with herself and Mukuro, only Kyoko, Chihiro, Celeste, Byakuya, and Toko are at Jabberwock Park.

In front of the statue is Usami, gripping her wand with an oddly serious face. She’s spinning in circles as if searching for something--or some one .

“W-Where are you?!” Usami cries out, a tremble in her voice. She spins around and points her wand at the sky. “Where are you hiding?!”

“Who’s hiding…? Who are you t-talking about?” Chihiro feebly asks.

“Upupupupupu!”

Junko freezes as does Mukuro. The others finally caught up and have fearful looks in their eyes as they work to catch their breaths.

“... What?”

“Hey hey! Where are you? Where?!” Usami yells at the sky again. She’s shaking and in near tears if the wobble in her voice is anything to go by.

“Ahahahahahahaha!”

Junko’s vision focuses on the statue of animals, and her eyes seem to zoom forward. Another animal pops up from the statue. It’s… a bear. One half of its body is white and looks innocent with its black, beady eye and large belly button, but the other half… the other half is black, and the red eye swivels and comes to a point. A threatening grin is on the black side of its face and sends a shiver down Junko’s spine.

“Have I kept you waiting?” Its grin seems to widen as it begins to squirm in place. “It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?! I am Monokuma! I’m this school’s headmaster!”

A sharp inhale catches Junko’s attention, and her blue eyes stray to the side where Kyoko is standing. While her face didn’t change, the flicker of shock that fills her stunningly gorgeous lavender eyes… Junko, stop being a lesbian for five minutes.

“And now that I’ve made my long overdue appearance, the first thing I have to say is…” Monokuma throws up his arms with a growl of irritation. “That was tepid! Lukewarm! Damp!” He blushes and sweats suddenly. “Are you… damp too?”

… Ew.

Usami growls and holds her wand defensively. “As I thought… it is you! But…” She takes a slight step backward and begins to sweat out of fear. “Why…? Why is Monokuma here?!”

“Quiet!” Monokuma roars at Usami who quivers at the loud of his voice. A few birds leave the trees nearby, and it’s silent for a few moments. “I’m very angry! This tepid mood you bastards are wallowing in is making me sick!” He swings his paw up and out comes three small yet sharp claws that shine. “Oi! What’s with this silly ‘Heart-thumping Field Trip’?! It’s boring! Despair-inducingly boring!

“Who can get excited over something like that?! Let’s end this farce already!” A vein pops from Monokuma’s temple while his forehead flushes an intense red. “We have to respond to society’s needs, you know! No one wants to see a bunch of high-school students enjoy peaceful, quiet days in paradise!

“No. What everyone wants it…” He laughs and throws his arms out. “Suffering. Hardship. Misery… Despair !”

Toko holds her head and screeches. “Wh-What the hell is this stuffed toy?! I th-thought there was only o-one!”

“What kinda bullshit is he spewin’?!” Mondo steps forward and pounds his fist into his hand.

Usami throws her wand out and looks back at Mondo, as if saying to stay back. “It’s dangerous, everyone! Please step back and let me handle it! I don’t know why Monokuma is here, but as long as I have this Magical Stick--”

“Aha! An opening!”

Monokuma throws himself at Usami and they disappear into a cloud. Junko places her hands on Mukuro’s still outstretched arm and pushes it down to stand at her side. Mukuro glances at her curiously with a raised brow, but Junko shrugs in response.

With a cry from Usami, the cloud goes away, and the scene of Usami lying on the ground uselessly with Monokuma above her presents to the students. He has his foot on Usami’s wand. Monokuma smashes his foot down on the wand and snaps it in half. Usami gasps.

“Ta-daaah! Flawless victory!”

Usami sweats as she stands with a wobble. “Fuwaaa! My Magical Stick!”

“And now for the finishing touch…” Monokuma points his paw at Usami with a wicked grin. “You’re too plain, you know? White bunnies are so out of fashion. Therefore, I’m going to remake you to my liking! Ahahaha!”

“Kyaaa!”

Another cloud forms as Monokuma leaps onto Usami. Multiple limbs shoot from the cloud and yelling, too. The cloud clears once more to reveal…

Usami in a… diaper? Usami is two-toned with one side of her the same pristine white and the other a bright pink. Instead of a black, beady eye on the pink side, a red eye now takes its place. And, yeah, the diaper’s part of the look too.

“Ta-daaah! Perfect!”

“Wha…” Usami turns and turns to be able to see herself properly. She cries out in shock while tears spring in her eyes. “What is this?!”

Junko gapes, and just about everyone else does as well. This… is too weird. How the hell does this kind of situation happen in the real world?

“What’s with this terrible outfit?! Turn me back right now , please!”

Monokuma tilts his head questioningly. “Oh? You’re being a bad girl, Monomi, snapping back at your big brother’s sense of style like that,”

Big brother?

“Eh? Big brother?” Usami… er, Monomi says with sweat dripping down her body. “Monomi?”

Monokuma giggles and brings his paws to his mouth to stifle them. “I thought the whole premise of your character was iffy…” He giggles some more despite the paws covering his mouth. “so I decided to make you my little sister Monomi!... It’s a retcon, you see.”

Junko’s head hurts… She winces to relieve some of the pain, but nothing seems to work. What is this situation? Why them? What did they do? Endless possibilities form in Junko’s mind, but none of them come out. Her head… hurts…

“Hey… What’s with the puppet theater?” Leon’s voice pulls Junko back to reality where Monomi somehow has a large bruise on her cheek and Monokuma is still smirking victoriously.

“What is this?!” Sayaka holds her hands to her chest as she shakes. “What’s going on?!”

Junko places her hands on her hips with a sharp glare at the bear. And, just because she’s her, she must antagonize the bear. “Who the hell is this black and white raccoon?”

Monokuma roars in offense and throws his arms in the air. “I’m not a raccoon! I’m a bear! I’m Monokuma!”

Hiro chuckles nervously and presses his hand to his forehead. “I don’t really get it, but… did a new stuffed toy just appear? And why’s this new one talkin’ also?”

Monokuma growls and kicks the small pebbles on the ground in frustration. He glares at the students. “I told you! I’m not a stuffed toy! I’m Monokuma!” He raises his fist and shows his tiny claws. “Hope’s Peak Academy’s headmaster!”

“Monokuma?!” Hifumi screams and cowers where he stands.

“This is ridiculous,” Kyoko says at last. Her eyes are hard, and her arms are folded across her chest. “Headmaster? You? My father is the headmaster at Hope’s Peak Academy.”

Monokuma giggles. “I dunno what to tell ya! Maybe you just heard wrong about who the real headmaster was!” He proudly stands with his paws on hips. “Now enough rabbiting. It’s time to bring our newest development to bear. Your headmaster has an announcement for you bastards!

“Our ‘Field Trips of Mutual killing’ begins…”

The coils in Junko’s stomach that had been tightening springs loose. Her breathing catches in her throat. Oh, God, why couldn’t she be wrong or once?

Monokuma laughs. “‘Becoming friends’ is way too boring a goal! Where’s the punch?! Where’s the impact?!”

Dammit, dammit, dammit, dammit…

“Now then, I hereby declare this a ‘Field Trip of Mutual Killing’! You bastards are the participants, of course!”

Taka takes a half step backwards as all color drains from his face. “Mutual killing…?”

Monomi points her paw at Monokuma with an angry expression. “W-What are you talking about?! I shall absolutely not allow such blood-chilling developments!”

Monokuma kicks Monomi in the jaw, sending her flying.

“Ugyaaa! It hurts! Being kicked really hurts!”

“Honestly… Monomi is a bit of a dim child. She just doesn’t get it no matter how many times I tell her,” Monokuma shakes his head in disappointment. “But, you know, a little sister smarter than her big brother is a fantasy that only exists in manga, isn’t it?”

Monomi holds her head and cries, taking cover behind Chihiro.

“Well, then. We’ve derailed a little bit, but let’s get back to my explanation of our ‘Field Trip of Mutual Killing’!”

“Wh-What do you m-mean by ‘m-mutaul killing’?!” Toko hugs herself tightly and curls in on herself.

Monokuma tilts his head curiously. “It’s just what it says on the box! You know, ‘killing each other’. What could be less clear?”

“Killing each other, huh…” Hifumi blankly says before screeching. “KILLING EACH OTHER?!”

“That is clearly impossible!” Taka holds up his fist confidently. “Killing someone is absolutely wrong! Nobody would ever kill anyone if I have anything to say about it!”

“Calm down, Batman! Sheesh! I can’t even finish my explanation before people decide to interrupt me!” Monokuma growls. “Sooo anyways… Getting to leave the island because you made some friends?! It’s just so tepid and boring, don’t you think? Which is why I’m changing the rules!

“If you want to leave this island, please kill one of your friends! And then, please overcome the ‘class trial’ successfully!”

“... Class trial?” Makoto pales as he says this.

“Right! The school trial is the cherry on top of this ‘Field Trip of Mutual Killing’! In case murder occurs between you bastards... The survivors must participate in a class trial. The class trial is a face off between the ‘culprit’ who murdered and the other ‘innocent’ students. During the class trial, you will try to deduce who the culprit is, and then vote on who to accuse… If you figure it out, and vote correctly…” Monokuma giggles. “The culprit will be ‘punished’,and the rest of you will continue on the field trip. But, if the culprit successfully tricks you bastards into accusing the wrong person… then the culprit gets to leave! And the rest of you will be ‘punished’ instead!

“These are the rules of the class trial! In other words,” The bear’s red eye gleams evilly. “anyone who kills and successfully hides their guilt will be able to leave this island. But, if they cannot overcome the class trial, they will be ‘punished’!”

Byakuya raises his head with an unimpressed glare. “You keep blathering on about being ‘punished’,”

“Oh, is it something little Byakuya doesn’t understand? Upupupu! In simple terms… execution!”

A breath leaves Junko’s throat rather calmly. This… isn’t right. Monokuma is still talking, but all Junko can hear is the blood rushing through her veins. Needles stab the sensitive skin of her body as she’s left in a state of nothing.

The others are still talking, protesting this killing game. Before she knows it, she hears her own voice talking, but… it isn’t her.

“Killing game… Why the hell do we have to kill each other?!” That’s… Junko?

Monokuma laughs as if the situation is as clear as day. “Isn’t it obvious? It’s because you bastards have a reason to,”

“We have allowed you to say far too much nonsense,” Sakura lowers herself into an offensive stance with a gleam in her silver eyes. “Fighting is the only way to stop you. It is our only option!”

Mondo pounds his fist into his hand and steps forward. “Hell yeah! Let’s take this fuckin’ bear out!”

Mukuro draws both knife and gun, aiming at Monokuma. “Anyone thinking about murder will be stopped with force,”

“Yes! Our group of athletic high school kids bands together to defeat the underlying threat that threatens to end our peaceful trip!” Everyone ignores Hifumi.

“Ah, is that how it is…? Well, I guess this was also inevitable. If you use violence against me, I shall have to reply with some of my own,”

Monomi trembles from behind Chihiro. “Violence? What do you intend to do?!”

Monokuma turns towards the statue and raises his arms in the air. “O scions of the void between light and shadow, hear me! Fulfill thy ancient contract…” For a minute, nothing happened. Monokuma growls and shouts. “Monobeasts! I bid thee rise!”

The statue begins to shake and rumble, the ground shaking below the students. Junko blinks to clear the fog from her mind and gapes at the sight before her. The statue had split off into five different metallic animals with fierce claws and impenetrable metal.

“Why is the statue moving?!” Hina cries out in shock.

Hiro yells in fear and drops to his knees in prayer. “M… MONSTEEEEEEER!”

Monokuma throws his arms up. “Aren’t you listening?! They’re Monobeasts!”

Monsters… Monobeasts… whatever. These things don’t just appear like that’s some kind of normal shit that goes on around here! This isn’t a video game, or a TV show, or some shitty book someone is writing! What the hell is this shit supposed to be?!

“I-Is this a bad dream…? Can I wake u-up now?” Chihiro pinches the skin of her arm tightly and winces. Her hazel eyes stay wide.

“Honestly! Are you bastards still trying to explain this away as a dream or an illusion?! You bastards are so quick to reject anything that falls outside that tiny reference frame you call ‘common sense’,” Monokuma stomps his foot on a ground, as if having a tantrum. “Honestly! Neanderthals were more open-minded than this! Trying to separate everything into genres is just another disease of the modern era!”

Monomi steps from behind Chihiro and runs in front of the group. She holds out her arms and is trying to protect them. “Everyone, please, stand back! I-I will protect you! Even at the cost of my own life… I will protect you all!”

Junko is stunned. Monomi is protecting them even when she doesn’t have anything to protect herself from five metal giants that could squish her at any time! What, will she use her shitty ass diaper and fling it at Monokuma?

But… Monokuma is laughing. “Upupu… Huh? What is this? Upupu… uppu… Oh, I see! This is that feeling before you throw up! The nausea one gets from witnessing such a hackneyed sense of justice!” He squares his body and throws his arms up. He’s pissed. “Fine! I decided! If that’s what you want, I’ll just make you an example!”

Monokuma jumps backwards as the Monobeast resembling a bird flies forward to catch him. He stands on top of the fling Monobeast while Monomi cowers many feet in front of us. The Monobeast’s wings flap and some of it transforms into machine guns. Monokuma throws his arm forward with a cry, and bullets begin to pelt Monomi where she stands. Junko’s eyes widen at the sharp sting on her cheek and looks to see a line of blood, pink and fresh. Monomi’s hole-ridden bow glides to the ground in the destruction.

Oh, God… Junko brings her hand up to her cheek and wipes some of the blood away, but her gaze stays fixated on the smeared blood on her fingertips.

Monsters suddenly appear along with this monochromatic bear… Monomi tries to protect the students and dies because of it. Her stuffing is on the ground. Killing game…

Junko feels powerless… Exhausted.

“Wh-What’s going on?”

Junko finally looks up from her bloody fingers, jaw visibly slack. For the first time in her life, she doesn’t know what’s going on anymore. Why did she know this was a killing game from the start when Monokuma wasn’t even here yet? It probably was her analyst ability going into overdrive the moment she stepped into that classroom, but it feels more… personal. More intimate. Junko can’t describe the rush of despair she’s feeling, but she doesn’t like it.

A hand grabs her arm tightly. Junko looks up from her fingers into Mukuro’s light purple eyes. Her gaze hardens when she sees the blood and her jaw clenches. She pulls Junko behind her and points her gun at the others. Multiple gasps of terror erupt from the small crowd.

“We’re leaving, and none of you are following,” Mukuro states with no emotion in her voice. Junko brings her gaze to the others who have mixed reactions. Some like Byakuya, Celeste, and Kyoko are neutral. Others like Toko, Hifumi, and Chihiro are trying to hide behind someone to not be in the line of fire.

Kyoko nods slightly. Mukuro grabs Junko’s arm with her free hand and leads them to the exit of Jabberwock Park, her gun still pointing at the group of students they’re leaving behind.

Despair… This was the beginning of it. Junko knows it.

Chapter Text

Mukuro didn’t sleep last night. It’s fine, she’s used to staying up all night because of Fenrir, but now she has a special reason to stay up: She needs to protect her baby sister.

Junko would complain that she was “Only twenty minutes younger!” and would put her hair into pigtails for a laugh. Mukuro wouldn’t mind because she hasn’t truly spent time with her sister in three years.

Junko will be grateful. She’ll be alive. Mukuro will keep her alive. The soldier couldn’t save her friends in Fenrir, but she can save Junko. She’s stronger now. She can survive long enough to get Junko off of this island. She’ll keep her alive, Mukuro knows it. Her sister, her responsibility.

The soldier rubs her eyes to soothe the dryness away, but her skin irritates her eyes more. She glances around her cottage that's designed for her interests and scowls.

Her room was just as she expected. When Junko told her on the way back from Jabberwock Park that her room would be suited to her interests, she wasn't lying.

The room is small, but bigger than she is used to. Mukuro feels as if the room is going to swallow her whole. Near the bathroom door is a large black metal locker that has many types of guns inside of it. A rocket launcher is leaning against it with a minigun next to that. On the other side of the room, Mukuro had noticed a large bed that was soft to the touch and had pink and purple sheets.

Mukuro sighs and drops her gaze to the floor at her makeshift bed. She can't sleep in a bed as soft as that when she doesn't deserve it. Besides--as Junko suggested--she slept on the floor.

Is she overthinking this whole thing?

Worried, Mukuro finally sets her knife and gun down to remove her gloves. She picks at her fingernails with her teeth, huddled against the wall and glaring at the door.

This is a killing game. Junko is right. Mukuro should be absolutely terrified for her life, but it's something familiar to her. Killing, that is. Mukuro knows she wouldn't kill to escape the island because that means killing her sister…

What does she do? Is there any way out of this that doesn't involve killing?

Mukuro rips her shaking hands away from her mouth to soothe at the ache in her temples. Has she ever been this stressed before? Her sister's life is on the line.

What if Junko dies? What if Mukuro dies and can't protect her sister from any threats on this island?

Who classifies as a threat? Sakura, definitely. Byakuya looks like he'll kill Junko at any time whenever she speaks. Mondo…

She shouldn't be worrying like this. It won't get her anywhere.

Mukuro stands and pushes her way to the small stand beside the bed. She pulls her notebook from the drawer and takes a black ballpoint pen too. She returns to her previous position to face the door and begins to write.

Log 1

Jabberwock Island, 08:23 am

Today officially marks the beginning of the Killing Field Trip, or whatever Monokuma called it.

The chances of Junko or I being killed off is low. With Junko being protected by myself, we have a solid chance of getting out of here alive.

Note: Keep your eyes on Sakura, Byakuya, and Mondo.

Others:

Makoto Naegi: He doesn't seem like the person to hurt anyone. Probably can't even hurt a fly. Will most likely be a victim.

Sayaka Maizono: She’s kind of like Makoto, but more… intuitive. Says she's "psychic"? That's what Junko said, anyway.

Leon Kuwata: He's hotheaded, and I fear that will be his downfall.

Chihiro Fujisaki: She’s most like Makoto. Will probably be the first one killed off.

Mondo Oowada: Has a temper like Leon. I fear this will be his downfall. He doesn't seem like the type of person to be a victim and if he is, the blame will fall to the stronger students.

Kiyotaka Ishimaru: He has a strong sense of justice and morality, so him killing someone would be unlikely. Maybe if he thought it was for the greater good?

Hifumi Yamada: He seems compliant in being Celeste's underling. I think that he'll kill for her.

Celestia Ludenberg: While she seems calm and neutral, she's known as a liar. She could easily fake her way out of suspicion if she were a killer.

Sakura Oogami: She… scares me. I'm afraid that she'll be the first to kill.

Kyoko Kirigiri: Her father was the headmaster… Could she be a traitor?

Byakuya Togami: He doesn't seem like the type to like this stuff, but I saw the smile on his face as Monokuma explained the rules.

Toko Fukawa: Similar to Hifumi. She will probably kill for Byakuya since she's infatuated with him.

Yasuhiro Hagakure: He has the power of clairvoyance on his side, so he could predict the murders and stop them… but I think he could easily be killed.

Aoi Asahina: She’ll likely become a victim herself. Friendships are dear to her, so she wouldn't think of killing anyone.

Three sharp knocks at the door startles Mukuro from her notebook. She snaps her gaze up, discards her notebook on the floor, snatches her gun from the floor, and points it at the door. Standing, she silently creeps to the door while her mind goes haywire.

Her hand wraps around the knob and twists, the door opening. The person on the other side of the door gasps.

"M-Mukuro! Please put that down!"

Mukuro clams up and freezes. "Sayaka?"

Sayaka looks as perfect as she did the day before, but her eyes seem wary. Scared now that there's a gun pointed at her. The soldier scrambles backwards, eyes wide and the gun clicks onto safety.

"Sayaka…?" She rasps out, setting her gun down on the bed. She stills and nearly cowers when the idol enters her cottage. "I-Is Junko OK? Did I miss something?"

Sayaka closes the door behind her and hesitates. "Junko's fine… Are you OK, Mukuro? You don't look good,"

"Me? I just didn't sleep last night. Don't worry I'm used to it from war, but…" Mukuro trails off. Her chewed nails idly scratch at the back of her right hand. "It's nothing."

"Haha, Mukuro, you need to sleep," Sayaka says with a giggle. Mukuro shakes her head. "Yes, you do. If it were me, I'd like to think that you'd tell me to get some sleep."

No, she just… She doesn't get it. Sayaka doesn't have any siblings, so she doesn't know the constant stress she's under to make sure that Junko's safe.

Mukuro squats back down and takes her place back on the floor on her thin blanket and pillow. Sayaka stares down at her in confusion.

"Did you stay on the floor all night?"

"Yes,"

"And you aren't uncomfortable?" Sayaka presses.

Mukuro isn't comfortable, yes, but the floor is better than that bed . She felt suffocated and as if she were drowning. She… doesn't want to be alone, smothered by the bed.

Sayaka smiles softly. "If you don't want to sleep alone, why not ask your sister to sleep with you so you aren't by yourself?"

"H-How…?" Mukuro blinks in shock. She schools her expression in realization. "Right. You're psychic."

"Hmm, I just have pretty good intuition," Sayaka points at the spot next to Mukuro and tilts her head with a warm smile. "Mind if I sit next to you?"

"Go ahead," Mukuro, now that Sayaka has moved from her line of sight, fixes her eyes on the door.

A heavy and uncomfortable weight settles on Mukuro's shoulders. Mukuro glances to her left at Sayaka only to find her already looking at her. She blushes and toys with her wrinkled shirt hem.

"Does anyone know you're here?" Mukuro asks softly.

"Makoto does. So does Junko. Actually," Sayaka laughs a little, a dust of red covering her cheeks. "Junko was the one who asked us to come to your cottage. I won't repeat what she said since she was way more vulgar than when we met in the classroom, but I thought I could help you out."

"Us?" Mukuro furrows her brows in slight puzzlement. "Then… where's Makoto?"

The idol frowns slightly in disappointment, but she smiles swiftly. "Makoto wanted to hang out with Taka and Mondo. Something about bringing them closer together as friends since they don't really like each other at the moment,"

"I could kill you,"

That ruins the mood. Sayaka’s easy smile fades to a neutral grimace. Her blue eyes scan over Mukuro until they stare, almost menacingly, into the soldier's light purple eyes.

"You could, but I doubt you could even if you tried,"

Mukuro's pride flares at the accusation. "I just said--"

"You can kill me?" Sayaka grins with a slight laugh. "I know, I was there. And then I said you couldn't. If you really wanted to, I think you would've already killed someone and blamed someone else. Then you'd get to leave the island by yourself.

"But I know you won't do that. Maybe it's just me wanting to trust you, but I believe in you, Mukuro,"

Sayaka glances down and places her hand tentatively on the back of Mukuro's. The soldier looks down, a heavy blush covering most of her face.

"How about we make a deal?"

"A-A deal?" Mukuro startles slightly.

"Mhm! You're exhausted--Don't try to deny it, I can see the bags under your eyes," Sayaka gives Mukuro the stink eye when she opens her mouth. Mukuro closes her mouth and sighs. "I want you to go to sleep, even if it's just for an hour."

Mukuro scowls down at their hands.

"Kyoko wanted to show all of us something, but you never showed up for breakfast," The idol runs her thumb along the soldier's knuckles. "So after we see what Kyoko found, you go to sleep."

"I'm keeping watch…" Mukuro knows that she's saying anything just so she won't leave her cottage.

Sayaka tilts her head. "Please?"

Mukuro closes her eyes and shakes her head yes. "On one condition: I don't want to be near Sakura, Mondo, or Byakuya,"

"Are…" Sayaka trails off. She nods. "OK, sounds good! We're meeting up in about fifteen minutes at Jabberwock Park. Do you want me to stay or…?"

Mukuro bites her lip. "Stay…? You'd stay with me?"

"Of course! You think I'd just leave after having a heart-to-heart?" Sayaka giggles at the wide-eyed surprise on the other girl's face.

Nodding to herself, Mukuro pushes herself off of the floor and cards her fingers through her black hair. She goes to the side of the bed and takes her black combat boots from the floor.

"You have a lot of guns and stuff in here," Sayaka mumbles as she stands and gazes around the room.

The soldier blinks wearily as she quickly ties the laces on her boots. "Well, that's the perk of being a soldier. Knives, guns, mines, regular bombs… Endless options," She tucks her shirt into her pants before rubbing her eyes. "I… guess I won't be using them during our stay here, but I have no idea where to put them."

Sayaka hums in thought and presses her finger to her chin. "There's this run-down down building near Hotel Mirai. Usami… Monomi told me and Makoto about it because we were curious, but apparently it has a storage room," She frowns. "Too bad she wouldn't let us go in. It needs some serious repairs."

Storage room in that old run-down building? That sounds like the perfect place to store her weapons so nobody will use them. And, while she has doubts about Kyoko, Mukuro can tell the detective about it so nobody will go near it. Maybe the moral compass as well? Mukuro doesn't think he'd kill anyone with her weapons.

"Since Monomi isn't here at the moment, it shouldn't be a problem," Mukuro says.

Sayaka smiles warmly, and a rush of something pierces Mukuro's chest. "Me and Makoto can help move your things then!"

"Th-That sounds nice,"

The idol laughs, lighthearted, and she bounces towards the door. "You coming?"

"Y-Yes, just let me get my gun and knife!"

- - - - -

Mukuro and Sayaka idly walk the path to Jabberwock Park while talking about random things. Mukuro watches in amazement whenever Sayaka smiles wider at the soldier's dry attempt at humor, and Sayaka brings out tired chuckles from the taller girl as she impersonates Byakuya.

"Fall to your knees, peasants, for I am the great Byakuya Togami of the Togami family," Sayaka snobs as she pushes up fake glasses. She sneers. "Ugh, the smell of commoners reeks."

Mukuro giggles again.

As they walk into Jabberwock Park, the sight before them is concerning. The group of students are at each other's throats, and Makoto is trying his best to stop the quarrel. The indifferent students such as Kyoko, Celeste, and Byakuya watch from the sidelines. The hothead ones seem ready to kill each other.

Junko, in the middle of the crowd, growls and glares at the surrounding students. Her eyeliner is thicker than usual and her words bite when she talks.

Mondo and Taka are screaming at each other, practically trapping Junko between them, with Leon butting in to yell his own curses.

"What the hell…?" Mukuro mutters to herself.

Junko's eyes lock onto her, blue eyes enraged and tongue sticking out of her mouth. Wait… Mukuro looks closer. That's not Junko.

"Hey, look who decided to fuckin' show up!" The person in Junko's body points a finger at both Sayaka and Mukuro. "It's Poo-kuro and Shy-aka! Kya-hahaha!"

Mondo groans. "This chick's been weird all day ! It's not even nine in the damn morning!"

"What, y'all don't fuckin' like me all of a sudden?! Too damn bad! Kyo's back and here to stay, bitches!"

And there we have it. Mukuro sighs.

Kyo hums and grins giddily. "Well… until she decides to come back," Kyo says with a shake of the head. "Sheesh, y'all really fuckin' love to stress her the fuck out, yeah? Piss off."

Byakuya watches with mild curiosity. "Interesting,"

"While that may be, we have a problem," The detective speaks up. "Now that all of us are here, we can address the problem head on."

Mukuro tilts her head as she walks closer to the group. As expected, a few of them move out of her way and keep a wary eye on her, but some of them send her smiles.

"Ha! What problem is there?" Kyo whistles and looks around. "All I see is a damn nice island and some fine asses in this park! 'Specially ponytail over there."

Hina purses her lips at the wink Kyo sends her.

"A-A problem? D-Dammit, we know th-the problem!" Toko grits her teeth in frustration and clenches her hands into fists. "We're tr-trapped on an island i-in the middle o-of n-nowhere and a mur-murderbot wants us to kill each o-other !"

Leon crosses his arms. "Yeah, that sums it up,"

"Ugh, I can't believe I was placed in a class full of idiots," Byakuya rolls his eyes. "You all haven't noticed the obvious? Truly, you all are nothing but simpletons ."

"Haven't noticed the obvious…?" Makoto looks around, then up and pales. "D-Do you mean that thing?"

Mukuro follows his gaze up and… Oh. Oh, that's bad. A large ball with ears and a timer sits on two gears. On the sphere is a timer.

Sakura tightens her crossed arms across her chest. "I don't recall seeing this here yesterday,"

"I don't remember why we're here!" Kyo snaps. "Care to fill me in, nerds?!"

"I'll tell you later," Mukuro promises without looking away from the problem.

"Guwaaah! Th-This thing is huge!" Hiro points at the large object with wide eyes. "It's bigger than some of the relics I've collected!"

"I see," Celeste cuts her eyes to the side to glance at the stoic detective. "So this is what you wanted to show us."

"I-Is it like a UFO or something and it just… just fell from the sky ?!" Hina squares her shoulders and bites her bottom lip. She grimaces and puts her fists up in determination. "We can take them head on! Aliens won't beat us!"

Hiro cries out. "Aliens stole my food once when I dropped it!"

Kyo snorts and elbows Mukuro in her ribs. "He dropped his hot pocket,"

Mukuro doesn't know what that means.

But back to the current situation. Mukuro's tired, light purple eyes scan the object. Her breath catches in her throat.

"It's counting down," She reveals to the group grimly.

Taka stands warily, a look of despair on his face. He grits his teeth. "It… is?"

"And this thing wasn't here yesterday?" Mondo asks. His lavender eyes close in defeat as he tilts his head down. "Just… to be sure."

"I-I don't think it was," Chihiro shakily says.

"This morning, I was investigating the island to check for anything we may have overlooked," Kyoko reveals, tucking her hair behind her ear. Her gaze is firmly on the object. "This was here when I checked Jabberwock Park. There's no clear time of when it was installed."

"Then… Monokuma must've installed it!" Hifumi exclaims as he pushes his glasses up and grips the straps of his backpack. "Obviously, since none of us can move such a weight besides Ms. Ogami. Then Monokuma's the next likely suspect!"

"The hell does the fuckin' countdown mean, then?" Kyo curses. "Is it to some sorta microwave, or…?"

Mukuro grimaces. "Or… could it be a bomb?"

"A bomb! Grah! Th-That goes against school policy!" Taka shouts with a panicked tone, red eyes wide. "Even though we're on an island, this is still a field trip, and rules still apply! Monokuma should be ashamed of himself!"

Mukuro really doesn't think that Monokuma cares about feelings such as "ashamed". She gnaws at her bottom lip.

"But…" Sayaka speaks up uneasily. "But if it is a bomb, and Monokuma wanted to blow up the island, wouldn't he do it already?"

"Then what it's counting down towards is a mystery," Byakuya smirks cockily. "How fun this enigma will be to unravel."

Monomi nods from next to Chihiro. "Curiouser and curiouser,"

"Kya!"

"Kyaaa!"

Chihiro jumps away from Monomi while Monomi cowers away from Chihiro. Mukuro steels herself and draws her knife, pointing it at the two-toned rabbit. Monomi cries out.

"Uwaaa! I-I asked you not to point those scary things at me!" Monomi covers her ears with her paws and sobs. Mukuro raises a brow. "Please!" The soldier sighs and returns her knife to its holder.

"H-How come y-you're here?!" Toko grumbles in shock.

"I was patrolling the area and heard everyone's voices, so I came to see what was going on…" Monomi taps her paws together bashfully. She stares up at the group.

"I believe that Monokuma filled you with holes before our eyes," Celeste reiterates what Toko had asked. She folds her hands beneath her chin. "He killed you, yes?"

Monomi blinks. "Oh, that’s what you're all so surprised about! Hee hee hee! You shouldn't have worried! I can't die after all!"

"Hm! A being such as yourself is resurrected from the underworld," Hifumi nods to himself.

Kyo screeches and points at the rabbit. "What the fuck?! That's a talking rabbit , how the fuck aren't y'all freaking the fuck out?! This ain't Looney Toons!"

Mukuro sighs. Kyo having the same reaction to Monomi as Junko will be tiring very quickly. If she could shut him up, she would in a heartbeat.

Chihiro thinks to herself before opening her mouth. "Monomi is probably a mechanical stuffed rabbit… If she isn't alive, then you can't really kill her,"

"As long as there's a spare handy," Leon scratches the back of his head. "then she'll be good to go."

"A spare?" Monomi grimaces and shakes her head. "I don't like the sound of that word!"

"Your timing is impeccable, though. There is something I wanted to ask you," Kyoko glances at the timer and back at Monomi. "What does this countdown mean?"

Monomi cocks her head to the side in bemusement. "Countdown?" She turns around and looks up. "Howawa, are you talking about that thing?! U-Um... I'm very sorry… That's... a little difficult for me to understand…"

Byakuya deadpans. "Seriously?"

"Are you telling the truth?! You don't know what the hell that thing means?!" Mondo’s eye twitches in irritation as he grips the air violently.

"I-I'm sorry… but, I'm not privy to everything Monokuma is doing…"

Hiro chuckles awkwardly and furrows his brows. "But aren't you his little sister?"

Monomi, clearly offended, throws her arms in the air. "I am not my big brother's little sister!"

Mukuro stares at the rabbit silently. Is she accepting her new role or not? Mukuro doesn't know what's happening.

"A-Anyway… Let's figure it out together!" Monomi pumps her paw in the air. "Let's drive that meanie Monokuma off this island!"

"If you c-can't tell us anything, th-then…" Toko stomps her foot and glares at the rabbit. "G-Go away!"

"B-but… together…"

"Scram, ya Bugs Bunny reject!" Kyo cackles.

"Kya! I'm sorry!" Monomi runs away, tripping on sticks and small pieces of rock that hadn't been swept away.

"D-Don't you think we treated her too harshly?" Chihiro inquires with a tremble in her voice. She clasps her hands in front of her. "I feel bad…"

Taka pats Chihiro on the shoulder. "Don't feel bad! Later, we can apologize to her!"

"Yeah, right. Monomi's probably in cahoots with Monokuma," Leon huffs and crosses his arms.

"Let's forget about both Monomi and Monokuma," Kyoko cuts in after her brief silence. "The issue of this clock is far more important."

Byakuya hums and presses his finger to his temple. "It is rather ominous, isn't it?"

Mukuro's feet slowly shuffle and squirm until she's swaying in place near the right side of the group. Her teeth bite down on her gloved fingertips, taste buds working hard to ignore the faint metallic-leather duo in her mouth.

This large device--bomb, or whatever--that's sitting innocently upon two spinning gears, for it to appear so fast in the span of one night is impossible. Even if it's Monokuma or Monomi or any other "Mono" creature out there.

Monokuma may be a stuffed robot, but he can't put this here. That question leads Mukuro to worry. Whoever built such a bomb themselves in such a short time must be swift with their work and precise enough to not make mistakes.

Narrowing, Mukuro's eyes close. No, even then, the person would have to be extremely lucky. And the only lucky person Mukuro knows is Makoto, and she doubts that he'd do this.

That leads to the other possibility that she already dismissed: This thing, though fictional-looking, actually was built by Monokuma.

That bear and rabbit are rather… fiction, really. Fiction… Toko writes about fiction. Is she the mastermind? No. That's dumb. Then who…?

"It’s possible, but… we don’t know for certain that’s what happened," Mukuro tunes in with a soft gasp of surprise. Kyoko grips her chin in her fingers as she says this. "For now, this mystery will remain a mystery until the right clues are found to unlock it. I believe in my skills to find the truth."

Oh, curse her for zoning out… How did she manage to zone out anyway? Mukuro loves to take orders and be on her guard, but here she is--scared out of her mind. She's used to violence, dammit!

Hiro cries out, hands cupped over the sides of his head. "There's too many mysteries to be solved!"

"Mysteries… This isn't some--" Mukuro waves her hand and squeezes her eyes shut. What is the word she's searching for? "some… school cl-club?"

… Close enough?

Kyoko nods her head at Mukuro's flimsy attempt to contribute to the conversation. "Of course not. Whoever brought us here must be extremely powerful, and we narrowed down the possibilities,"

"Narrowed down the possibilities… Do you mean those three options we said yesterday?" Makoto asks with a tilt of his head. He cups his chin. "The three options we had were the Togami Corporation, your father, and Fenrir."

"Correct. Monokuma, the Monobeasts, and maybe Monomi," Kyoko nods her head as if she arrived at a solid hypothesis. "they must have been created by someone with expertise."

Mukuro thinks back to the Middle East and Fenrir. Her commanders barked out their orders in Arabic, so Mukuro had to quickly learn the language. Three years go by, but Mukuro never heard anything regarding the Monobeasts, Monokuma, or Monomi. She's close with her commanders since she was promoted from soldier to lieutenant, but they never once talked about making weapons or objects like these.

"I don't think Fenrir would do this, truly," Her hands tremble as she tells the group this. Her mind is muddled and clouded in memories. "It's not… They just wouldn't do this."

"Dumbass… Just 'cause your fruity ass doesn't think your wolf pack won't do this doesn't mean they can't," Kyo scoffs and picks at his long red nails. He grimaces. "How the hell does she wear these things?! Are they under my fuckin' skin ?!"

"Fruity?" Confusion sparkles in light purple eyes. "I fail to see how I'm related to fruit."

"God, you're so stupid," The words spit from his mouth and smack against Mukuro's self-esteem. Kyo's face scrunches up in pure irritation. "Even if it ain't Fenrir, they're prolly watchin' us through those cameras. Gah-haha! They wanna watch us like we're porn stars!"

"Hold on!" Leon throws his hand up and pinches the bridge of his nose. "If they're watching us through the security cameras, then they're on the island with us ?"

Reality crashes down on one student in particular. Toko grabs her head. "Ghh! Th-They're trying to f-film us?! I kn-knew they had some s-sort of voyeur kink!" She brings one hand down to bite at her thumb, and she mumbles something about her "precious master", whoever that is.

A hearty chuckle laced with nervousness erupts from Hiro's mouth. "I bet this is just some kinda joke the older classes are playing on us! C'mon, there's no need to be scared!"

"What?" Byakuya deadpans. "Of all the low-class and unintelligent classmates forced on me, you are by far the worst of them."

"Thanks, Byakuya!"

"Leave my name out of your mouth, loser,"

"Our captor's goals are unclear at the moment; we should use this time to learn their identity, however," Sakura's eyes open from their previously closed state. Her silver eyes lock with Mukuro's light purple, pulling a tense and weak sound from her throat.

"I agree," Kyoko folds her arms across her chest. Her eyes narrow. "As Sakura said, our priority isn't to kill each other. We can figure out the mastermind's identity and leave this island."

"Let us search this island top to bottom for clues! If anyone finds anything of importance, no matter how small, report it to me!" Taka takes charge with a powerful fist in the air and a commanding tone.

"Oh! Sakura, will you come with me?" Hina pulls Sakura’s attention away from Mukuro.

The soldier sighs in relief when the martial artist and swimmer leaves Jabberwock Park, following closely behind Taka who had walked ahead.

Mukuro glances at Kyo to explain what's going on with this island, but she pauses. Kyo is staring into space.

"Kyo?" The soldier steps in front of him and places her hands on his shoulders. "Are you OK?"

"Ugh… Why the hell are we at Jabberwock Park?"

Oh.

"Hey, Junko. I'm glad you could--Uh…" Mukuro sees Sayaka giving her a pointed smile from over Junko's shoulder.

Junko rubs her eyes and squawks when she sees black smudges on the back of her hands. She growls once her eyes lock with the ground. Mukuro looks down to see ten long red nails on the ground.

"Um," Mukuro awkwardly clears her throat. She takes a half step backwards and drops her hands from shoulders trembling in rage. "Kyo switched… fronted?"

"Yes, fronted. Did he…?" Junko reaches inside of one of her blazer pockets and pulls out her small notebook that the soldier gave her yesterday. She opens it and flips through the pages. "Of course he did."

Mukuro notices that the front of the notebook has black sharpie drawn on it that says "Our Memory Journal".

"What'd he say?"

"Some shit about how the others were stressing me out and how you never came outta your room," Junko slaps the book shut and tucks it away. "Also that… Shy-aka helped you outta your room."

Mukuro sighs in relief. Even though Kyo could be absolutely terrible with how much he spits insults at others, he was a really good person. He cares about Junko.

"Don't think I don't feel Sayaka’s eyes on my back. What the hell happened?" Junko rolls her eyes and looks back at the blue-haired girl after she finishes speaking.

"I promised that I'd go to sleep after this meeting,"

"Ah. Was it the PTSD keeping you up?"

"I don't have… Junko, please," Mukuro grips her forearms with her gloved hands to stop them from shaking. "I don't have PTSD. It's impossible for me to have it--I'm the Ultimate Soldier."

Junko idly observes as her older sister's hands shake and tremble despite the firm grip she has on her body. Mukuro reluctantly releases her arms and swallows the rough lump in her throat.

"I'm… Sayaka’s going to walk me back," The soldier hesitantly wraps her arms around Junko and sighs into her mused hair.

"Dumbass. I'm coming to wake you up later and annoy you,"

"I won't doubt that,"

Mukuro looks up to see Sayaka talking with Makoto. Her heart thumps loudly.

That person is just… amazing .

- - - - -

Once Mukuro makes her way back to her own cottage, she eyes the bed evilly. Stupid fluffy bed.

She plops down on the hardwood floor next to the case with some kind of Mustache Monokuma in it. The blanket and pillow are cold, a stark difference to the heat of the Middle East.

Mukuro finds that she likes the cold better than the heat.

Her head finds the pillow as her blanket covers her fetal form. Eyes drooping, a contented hum flows from her mouth. Her mind steers her to unconsciousness with a few questions on her mind.

Why did the mastermind trap us here? Is Monomi with Monokuma? Where is the mastermind hiding on this island? Why did she immediately make a deal with Sayaka when they just met?

… Why does she trust Sayaka so much?

Chapter Text

Gasping, Mukuro sits up swiftly from her makeshift bed on the floor. Her heart thumps loudly against her chest, audible in her ears and shaking her ribcage.

Her hands, shaking, cover her ears. Her nails dig into her scalp and mess up her mused hair.

No, bad. Her hands are bloody. Stained.

Mukuro rips her hands from her ears and stumbles to her feet to rush to the bathroom. Once there, she grasps at the sink with a choked gasp.

Her hands. Her hands. They're so dirty.

She pumps soap onto her hands and turns the water on, scrubbing the skin on her hands and halfway up her forearms. Her nails dig into her skin as she scrubs violently. Mukuro doesn't realize the stutter in her breathing is her sobbing.

Her legs shake, knees weak, and she collapses to the floor in a shaking puddle on the floor.

Her chest tightens. Panic still stabs her body, prickling and morphing. Morphing to… anger. Anger at herself.

Mukuro stiffens as her ears pick up rapping at her door. She glances down at her arms, bright red from her nails and still covered in suds.

She can't answer the door like this.

Sighing in irritation, Mukuro stands and rips the hand towel from the rack by the sink. She roughly dries her hands before throwing the towel away from her and stomping to her door.

Mukuro opens the door and is nearly hit in the face. The fist stops and retracts quickly.

"What?" Mukuro snaps.

Junko raises a brow and scoffs. "Don't tell me you forgot I was waking you up, idiot. And what's with your arms?"

Mukuro's trembling hands tighten into fists. "Nothing,"

"M'kay, whatever. Um, anway, so… You need to get to know some other people,"

"What? Why?"

"Isn't it obvious?" Junko waves her hand towards the direction of the hotel. Mukuro flinches at the wild movement. "Some friends would do you some good, and I won't be around you for forever. Not that I'm dying on this pathetic island."

Mukuro nods her head absentmindedly and sweeps past Junko towards the hotel. Junko yells something about shoes and gloves, but Mukuro needs to prove to Junko--because she saw the look in her eyes--that she's fine. Absolutely fine.

The first person that Mukuro sees once she steps onto the concrete outside of the pool is Hifumi. She walks over and waits for him to notice her presence.

Hifumi screeches once he notices her. "Ms. Ikusaba! Wh-What are you doing here? I thought you were staying in your room?"

"O-Oh, I just woke up, but I--Do you want to… 'hang out'?" She asks robotically. She probably could have asked that with more emotion, judging by the fear present in Hifumi's eyes.

The male hums and cups his chin in his hand. "I see… Ms. Ikusaba, you want to gain experience points to level up our friendship, is that it?!"

"Um… yes?"

"Follow me, hero!" Hifumi turns on his heel and marches towards the building offset from the hotel area, and Mukuro follows behind him.

Hifumi stops and waves his hand. "We're here! If we start at an abandoned place like this, then by the time we adventure to the secret ruins, we'll be best friends!"

Mukuro hums in thought. "Best… friends? Yes, I have never had a best friend before aside from Junko,"

"Your sister, Ms. Ikusaba, cannot be your best friend," Hifumi clenches his fist and glares into the sunny sky. "Siblings are supposed to be your enemy. They are the bad to your good, the moon to your sun!"

"... Junko can't be my best friend?"

"No! For us to be best friends, you must slay your sister and travel the world with me on a journey!" The obese male pushes his glasses up with a stubby finger. "But… I can see that you don't want to be my best friend…"

"I… don't?" Mukuro tilts her head to the side, brows furrowing in bemusement. "If I am not to be your best friend, are we acquaintances?"

"Ah ah ah! No, we are to be opposites that come together as one! You, the Yin, and I, the Yang," Hifumi smushes his cheeks with his hands, gasping with a blush. "You're the Princess Peach to my Mario, the Shouko to my Shouya!"

… Mukuro has absolutely no idea what Hifumi is talking about. Blankly, yet her eyes filled with raw confusion, Mukuro stares at Hifumi. The male deflates at the soldier's confusion.

"Don't tell me that you don't understand what I'm talking about?!"

"Um… Is that an--Are we supposed to be lovers?" Mukuro scratches the back of her head, realizing that she doesn't have her gloves on… or her shoes. "One step up from best friends should be lovers… correct?"

Hifumi nods and pats his chest proudly. "Geh-hehe! A smart soldier you are, Ms. Ikusaba. Indeed! You want us to be more than best friends!"

She does?

"And now, our friendship progresses towards…" Hifumi leans in with an awkward smirk. "Pining and waiting."

Mukuro stammers awkwardly while Hifumi, forgetting the abandoned building and ruins and journey, leaves with a skip in his step. The soldier stares after him.

"What… just happened?" She asks herself. Her handbook chimes from within her pocket.

Well… Mukuro can say that her and Hifumi grew closer together. As friends.

Mukuro sighs and leaves the area in front of the abandoned building, taking a mental note to bring her weapons there to hide them. Just from her talk… "hang out" session with Hifumi, the panic and frustration and stress from earlier wore off. It left behind a lingering exhaustion, shocking her nerves and slowing her mind.

She's never been this tired after just waking up.

Mukuro makes her way out of the hotel area and past the cottages, going the direction of the supermarket. Her light purple eyes widen once she spots Hiro holding some sort of glass ball and standing outside of the store.

"Kuro!" Hiro yells and waves at Mukuro. The soldier glances around and points at herself. "Come over here! I gotta show you something!"

Should… she spend some time with Hiro?

Taking a deep breath, Mukuro walks over and is pulled inside of the supermarket by Hiro. He sets the glass ball down and messily rolls a small black curtain on the ground. He grabs the glass ball and places it in the middle of the curtain and plops down across from where Mukuro stands.

"Um…"

'C'mon, dude, I'm not gonna bite'cha!" Hiro gestures at the open spot across from him. "And, since this'll be your first reading, I'll offer this one for free. Not 'cause you're a scary soldier and can kick my butt any day, hehe."

Mukuro raises a brow but sits down on the curtain, eyeing the ball curiously. "Hiro, I have a question,"

"Wh--? But I'm supposed to be asking the questions,"

" How old, exactly, are you?" Mukuro continues. Hiro seems surprised. "N-Not to sound rude, but… you just look a lot older than the rest of us."

Hiro chuckles. "Well, yeah, I'm not exactly seventeen. I'm actually twenty-one, so…"

The soldier's eyes widen as her jaw falls open in shock. "What?"

"Hey! Gimme your palm, I need to read it!" Hiro reaches towards her and takes her hand in his, fingers running on her hand lines. Mukuro squeaks. "Ah hah! Mhm, I see…"

"What… do you see?"

"This one's different than your first one," Hiro nods. "The wolf is… turning into a vampire?"

The wolf if turning into a vampire? What is that supposed to mean? Hiro's vision must mean something because he's the Ultimate Clairvoyant, and seeing things is his talent. A message should be there.

"So… the wolf is…?" Mukuro takes her hand back from Hiro, who cups his chin in thought.

"Hey… if the wolf is you, and that vampire turned the wolf into a vampire…" Hiro's eyes widen and he stands, cowering. "You're a vampire?!"

What?

"N-No! I'm not a vampire!" Mukuro stands up and waves her hands in a placating manner, panic in her eyes. Her smile, which she quickly slaps onto her face, is wobbly. "See? No, uh, fangs!"

Hiro still looks skeptical, but he nods warily. "OK…"

"Is… there anything else?"

"Oh, yeah! Make sure to treat those wounds on your arms!" With a nervous laugh, Hiro grins, collects his glass ball, and runs out of the store.

Mukuro watches his leave. Her gaze shifts back to her arms, spotless with no injuries. What was Hiro talking about? Wounds? She's never been hurt badly enough to have wounds, and Mukuro doesn't think that she's ever seen her own blood before.

Well, Hiro did say he was right thirty percent of the time… So his predictions about Mukuro could be false.

But why does it sound familiar?

Mukuro's e-Handbook chimes.

Mukuro sighs and makes her way to the back of the supermarket. Her light purple eyes narrow at the random Monokuma near the vending machine, but she ignores it in favor of the drinks.

She scans the wide selection before stopping on one bottle in particular. Her hand shakes as she picks up the small bottle of whiskey--Japanese, she notes.

This is probably not a good idea, but…

Ding dong! Bing bong!

"What?" Mukuro blinks in shock once she sees that it's really dark outside. Wasn't it just daytime? "That chime right now…"

The screen in the supermarket flickers on to reveal Monokuma holding a… martini?

"Um, this is an announcement from Hope's Peak Academy's Field Trip Executive Committee… Yoohoo! It's time for your long-awaited recreation activities!" Monokuma sloshes the drink towards his face and doesn't react when it drenches his metallic body. "What kind of exciting activities await you bastards? It's too late to--wait, that's not it. I can't wait to find out!

"We realize this is getting tedious, but for now--come and gather at Jabberwock Park!"

The screen turns off, leaving Mukuro alone in her thoughts.

Gather at the park? At nighttime? Mukuro can't oppose Monokuma, and if she did, there would be consequences. Bullets, spears, bombs… Mukuro would die and leave Junko by herself!

"I have no choice but to go, then!" Mukuro exclaims aloud to herself, voice echoing throughout the store. She pockets the small glass of whiskey and runs out of the supermarket.

The wind sweeps through her black hair, playing with the short wisps of hair as she pushes her body towards Jabberwock Park. Once near, Mukuro slows to a light jog.

A surprised sound comes from her mouth when she spots Byakuya standing with his arms crossed. Mukuro stops by his side.

"Byakuya… So you came, too?" Mukuro flinches slightly when he snaps his head to her and glares.

"We don't have a choice. Hmph. Mindless defiance towards Monokuma will only aggravate him. The others should come to understand that if they don't want to die. And, besides," Byakuya smirks. "I'm curious to know what Monokuma has in store for us."

Mukuro watches the boy with wary eyes as he saunters into the park. She steps hesitantly forward and goes into the park before she can change her mind.

Everyone else is in the park when Mukuro glances around. She's the last here?

"Where the hell are your shoes?" Leon scratches his bearded chin.

Mukuro flushes red. "I wanted to walk around barefoot…"

An obvious lie, but nobody questions it.

"In any case, it seems we are all here," Kyoko breaks the silence.

"I wonder what it will be this time," Hifumi sulks. "This is a pain…"

Celeste hums, twirling her hair. "Then in that case, you shouldn't have come,"

Hifumi squawks and points his trembling finger at Celeste. "B-But, Ms. Ludenberg! Who knows what might've happened if I didn't show up!"

"Oh? That is a good question. I wish you would've tested that for us," Byakuya says as he pushes his glasses up.

Hina scowls. "Hey, I bet you only came 'cuz you were scared of Monokuma, too!"

"Excuse me?"

"Uh, guys, we shouldn't be fighting like this! We should be working together to resist and stop Monokuma!" Makoto cuts in before the fighting could truly start. "And we're friends…"

"Friends? Hm, you losers with your stupid ideals such as 'friendship'," Byakuya spits the word as if it was poison on his tongue. "Having friends will only get you killed in the future, especially in a game like this."

Taka puffs his chest out and hardens his gaze. "This is hardly a game! We are trying to stop each other from murder!"

Toko smiles dreamily at Byakuya. "He doesn't n-need f-friends… he has m-me…"

"Crazy chick…" Leon mutters.

Mukuro pinches the bridge of her nose, stress rising from the others fighting again . "I don't want anyone to die on this island; not even Byakuya,"

Junko snorts and shakes her head. "You guys are ridiculous,"

"I could kill anybody here without hesitation,"

Light purple eyes glance up to see Byakuya's pompous grin and the smug look on his face. Mukuro clenches her teeth together to stop herself from swearing at the male.

That doesn't stop Mondo, however.

"What the fuck is wrong with you, you bastard?!" Mondo charges forward and picks Byakuya up by the collar of his dress shirt. Byakuya still smirks. "We're forced to kill each other and you still think this is a fuckin' game?! I oughta knock some sense into you--!"

Makoto rushes forward with pleading eyes. "No, Mondo! Don't hurt Byakuya, he was just--"

Mondo practically throws Byakuya down on his feet and whips around to tower over Makoto. The smaller boy squeaks. Mondo yells at him.

"What, you think you're so tough to stand up to me?! You think you got balls, dude?!" Mondo raises his fist.

Time slows down. Mukuro's eyes widen, and she rushes over to the cowering Makoto and takes the space between Mondo's fist and Makoto's face. Her hand comes up and catches the blow, shocking Mondo enough to make him jerk back with wide eyes.

Mukuro lowers her hand and glares. "Don't try that again,"

Mondo nods hastily and backs up in submission. Mukuro turns around.

"Are you OK, Makoto?" She asks worriedly. Makoto just nods. "Thank God…"

"Um…" Monokuma, standing with two top hats on his head that covers both ears, calls. He tilts his head with a paw on his chin. "Is this a bad time? Oh, what am I saying? This is perfect for starting some killing action!"

Chihiro whimpers and hugs herself. Mukuro scowls at the bear in her line of sight, but she does nothing. She knows the consequences if she decides to attack it.

Hiro cups his chin. "Huh… Is it just me, or does Monokuma look different…?"

"Dumbass…" Junko sighs and crosses her arms. She shoots daggers at Hiro. "All he did was put on some top hats that Abe Lincoln would be envious of."

Monokuma lights up and his grin largens. "Abe Lincoln should be jealous of me! I got the muscles--" He holds up his arm to reveal nothing. "-- and the perfect servant that he'd die for! Oops! Don't take that too seriously!"

Stepping to the side, Monokuma reveals a shaking Monomi holding more than a handful of envelopes.

"Now then! Since you bastards are wasting precious chapter time, I have to hurry and reveal your gift! Monomi, if you will," Monokuma puts his paws out and signals for the envelopes.

Monomi turns away and shakes her head. "No! I know that something awful is in these envelopes! I won't hurt my students' feelings!"

Monokuma drop kicks Monomi.

"Little sisters are supposed to follow orders!"

"Uwaaah! That hurts so much, I think I might bruise!"

Monomi hits the ground with a cry, leaving Monokuma to pick the envelopes up and pass them out randomly to the sixteen students. He cackles and removes both top hats from his head to hold them by them brim.

"I wanna play a little game with you guys, from headmaster to students. This game is called two lies and a truth!" Monokuma giggles. "Buuut don't be surprised if you see something you don't wanna see! It's about everyone here!"

Kyoko stiffens. "You're… giving us a motive?"

"Hey, I didn't wanna say 'motive' to be exact, but… Ah-hahahaha! Yes! This is a motive!" Monokuma sets the hats back on his head, now turned to have one hat say "Truth" and the other say "Lie". "A smart cookie you are, Olivia Benson."

Kyoko stares at the bear. "I specialize in murder, not--"

"Anywho!" The bear bounces on his feet and claps his paws together, his smile somehow growing wider by the second. "Open your envelopes! Come on, come on, come on!"

Mukuro hesitantly opens her envelope and takes out the piece of paper on it. She sucks in a breath, hearing that nearly everyone else is either shocked in silence or fuming.

Her list… is awful

Two Lies and a Truth!

(You can't tell anyone what these are or else…)

Byakuya killed all of his siblings.

Kyoko is the mastermind behind this killing game.

Makoto is a bigger liar than Celeste.

Mukuro knows she can eliminate the last one. Makoto doesn't look like the kind of person to be a liar, and he's so kind and genuine. He wears his heart on his sleeve and cares for the other students--even when one of them tries to punch him for no reason.

When she looks up, everyone is staring at each other with mixed emotions. Some seem suspicious, while others are wary. A few look in awe, like Hifumi while he stares at Junko.

Junko… seems as if she's already figured her motive out. Her eyes dart from Mondo to Hifumi then fix onto Toko curiously. She nods.

"Yeah, that makes sense,"

Toko scowls at her. "Wh-What makes s-sense?"

Junko hums. "Oh, nothing,"

Monokuma giggles. "Oh, no! I knew that you'd figure it out!"

"Figure what out, Monokuma? I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about," Junko smirks, but it isn't her normal, playful smirk. It's cocky and full of… something Mukuro can't describe.

Taka takes a step back warily, face pale. He looks sick. He shoves the paper into the envelope and sets his jaw.

"Don't provoke…" Taka eyes both Junko and Monokuma with caution, eyes slithering to Mukuro with suspicion. "him. We don't have to fall for his twisted lies!"

Monokuma gasps and bares his claws. "Hey, hey, hey! One of those sentences that you have is the truth, so no matter how bad it is, it's true!"

Junko's smirk widens. "How fun!"

"J-Junko, I don't think--" Mukuro tries to speak, but she flinches when Junko stares her down with wide eyes. Her blue eyes are calculating and cold, growing fiercer as the younger sister stalks towards Mukuro.

"You can't think for yourself. I totally would tell you to think about it, but you can't do that properly," The words cut against Mukuro's self esteem. Junko leans in to whisper in her ear.

Mukuro's eyes widen and her jaw drops, gripping the envelope tightly while Junko skips away with her own. Light purple eyes stare after her sister, astonished.

Monokuma yells after Junko as she leaves, waving his arms in the air. "I never said that class was dismissed, missy! Get back here!"

Mukuro fixes her eyes on the envelope in her hands. Holy crap…

Junko, you absolute genius.


Later that same night, after the students--minus Junko--tuck away into their cottages, Mukuro stays awake. She's sitting on her makeshift bed on the floor and staring at the envelope resting on her palms.

She lifts the lip and takes the paper out, reading over the statements.

...

The truth here is really obvious when she reads over it.

Junko did this in broad daylight with Monokuma watching her back, the others watching her every move.

Mukuro laughs lightly. Even though performance earlier put a rift between Junko and the other students, Mukuro knows that Junko can be trusted.

Junko leans in to whisper in Mukuro's ear. "Sorry, Muku, had to make it believable,"

The lightness in her chest soon grows dark. Because Junko painted herself in that light…

Someone might go after her.

Chapter Text

"Um, This is an announcement from Hope's Peak Academy's Field Trip Executive Committee… Good morning, you bastards! It’s another perfect tropical day! Let's enjoy it for all it’s worth!"

Still awake from last night's excitement, Junko stares at the envelope's content with pursed lips. She glances over the three statements with a raised brow, wondering which is the truth.

If Byakuya killed his siblings… If Kyoko's the mastermind… If Makoto's a liar…

Why can't she figure this out? She traded with Mukuro for a reason, and she's sure that Mukuro will know immediately the truth in her new statements.

Oh, yeah. Junko slips the sheet of paper back into the envelope and puts the envelope in her blazer's pocket. She thinks back to her easy motive with a scowl.

Two Lies and a Truth!

(You can't tell anyone what these are or else…)

Toko is Genocider Syo

Hifumi has had sex with Celeste many times.

Mondo is in love with Kyoko.

Not to be absolutely jealous to the point where she'd snap off someone's fingers and force feed them to their owner, but Junko hates the last statement to an unhealthy and concerning degree.

Groaning, Junko makes her way out of her boring cottage with all of its boring contents. She stops short when she nearly bumps into Mondo, who's looking at his envelope with furrowed brows. Her own envelope falls out of her pocket, and the biker drops from surprise. Junko scowls and rubs her eyes while Mondo hands her the envelope back.

"What's up, biker?" Junko looks at the taller male. Mondo stares down at her with a frown which Junko copies. "Huh? Do I have something on my face?"

Mondo doesn't respond, eyes shifting to behind Junko near the back of the cottages. Junko glances back to see Mukuro, Sayaka, and Makoto moving the damn metal case full of weapons.

"I-I could carry it by myself, you know," Mukuro mutters with a heavy blush on her face.

Sayaka giggles. "Oh, c'mon, Mukuro, you know you don't have to do everything by yourself!"

"She's right! Maybe we can--" Makoto looks around before his hazel eyes settle on Mondo and Junko. "Hey, you two! Can you help us carry this locker and some other stuff to the abandoned house by the hotel?"

Mondo shoves his hands into his pockets and walks over without sparing Junko another glance. How rude of that guy. Junko struts over with a hair flip.

"Yeah, sure, I'll help. But only because my nails are gone and I don't have the means of getting them anymore until we leave," Junko takes what's handed to her (which happens to be the rocket launcher and a few throwing knives).

While Makoto, Sayaka, and Mukuro talk to each other, Mondo stares intensely at Junko. Junko tightens her grip on the rocket launcher.

"What, do I have something on my face?"

Mondo opens his mouth hesitantly. "Do you… Are…"

Junko blinks. "What,"

"Are, uh… Are you OK or whatever…?"

Mondo, the Ultimate Biker Gang Leader, known around Japan for being the leader of the fiercest and largest biker gangs in Japan… just asked if she was OK. Junko can't help but giggle at the situation.

"What makes you think that I'm not OK, Oowada? Lemme guess--the motives?"

Mondo flushes red and glances away from Junko's direction, staring at the trio in front of them. "Damn, you're smart… Yeah, I-I wanted to know if you were OK," His lavender gaze shifts to Mukuro, carrying one end of her black locker. "Does that Mukuro chick hurt you?"

"That's…"

A question Junko would never think would come up in her life. Mukuro hurting her ? Sure, Mukuro can seem pretty scary when put in stressful situations, but if you take the knife and gun away, she's about as harmless as a puppy.

With her stunt from yesterday, Junko would have bet against Celeste that near everyone on the island would suspect her. She didn't know why she did it, but some part of her mind nagged her to do so.

Perhaps…

"Nope, Mukuro doesn't hurt me at all. She can't even argue with me without getting all sad and puppy eyes," Junko tilts her head onto the rocket launcher with a grin. "Why?"

She knows why, and Mondo’s sigh of relief adds to the confirmation in her head.

"Good… I don't hurt chicks, but I make exceptions to fuckers who are abusive," Mondo’s grin looks rather friendly if you ignore the four AK-47s and the two M-16s in his arms.

Seriously, though? Monokuma lied about Mukuro being an abusive sister? God, Junko is going to absolutely strangle the mastermind.

Junko glances ahead and notes that the small party is near the abandoned building. Sayaka, who has the least amount of items in her hands, goes to open the door but is stopped by a cry.

"W-Wait! You all can't go in there!" Monomi appears from nowhere and blocks the door (unsuccessfully) with her tiny body. Sayaka steps back with a strained smile.

"Oh, Monomi! Perfect timing! Can we store Mukuro's weapons and stuff in the storage room in here?" Monomi furrows her brow as Sayaka speaks, paws tapping together nervously. "We're trying to make sure that nobody commits murder, and if we hide these weapons here, they won't be able to get them!"

Monomi's face switches from worried to proud at the snap of someone's fingers. She chirps out a "Love! Love!" and nods encouragingly.

"Of course you can! Oh… I'm so proud of you five for not believing those mean lies my big brother told you," Monomi tears up as she opens the door to the building.

Makoto smiles. "Thank you, Monomi!"

"Uh, yeah, thanks. I guess," Junko says, flippant.

Monomi moves out of the group's way but continues to stand watch at the door of the building. Sayaka glances around and opens a random door which, to their luck, was the storage room.

"It's pretty messy in here… Should we clean up a bit before hiding the weapons?" Makoto suggests. His nose crinkles as he tries not to sneeze.

Mukuro frowns and shakes her head. "No. I think that the state of this room could be beneficial in hiding the weapons,"

"Alright!" Mondo grins. "This right here is a fuckin' useful idea. No asshole could kill if there aren't any weapons to kill someone."

Junko presses her lips together in thought at the idea Mondo proposed. It's true that getting rid of any potential weapon would lead to no murder, but there's other objects that could be a murder weapon.

Take water, for instance. It's essential to life, but if someone forces enough water down someone's throat, they can become at risk for water intoxication. Some more water will lead to seizures, and--hey would you look at that!--that person is now dead . Murdered.

Opposite to Junko's more pessimistic yet realistic approach, Makoto has sparkles in his eyes. His grin is way too wide and his hope nauseates the fashionista.

"That's a good idea, Mondo! When we remove anything that could be considered a weapon, we can become friends and escape the island!"

He's not human, that one. He has waaay too much hope in his heart.

Sayaka jumps aboard the "Let's follow Makoto's and Mondo's idea and leave the island" train. Mukuro, on the other hand, is hesitant to believe that a method that Mondo proposed could work.

Good for her.

"Ugh, stop standing and talking, this rocket launcher is heavy and I'm hungry…" Junko whines, which sets the others off to finish their task at hand.

It didn’t take too long to figure out where to put the locker, but they had to cover the additional weapons with a white tablecloth in the storage room.

Mukuro is writing in her notebook, and Junko can't help but peek at the pages from over her shoulder.

Taking inventory, huh? That could be useful in the future if anyone decides to sneak in and take a gun or something.

Junko crosses her arms with a smirk. "Wel p ! My work here is done, so if you don't--"

"Junko, we need to talk,"

Junko turns to Sayaka, who's standing with a vacant stare on her face and walking up to her. She shrugs.

"I dunno, I got stuff to do," Flirting with Kyoko is her stuff, but Sayaka doesn't need to know that.

Sayaka narrows her gaze. "I wasn't asking," She hisses quietly so the other three people arranging the weapons wouldn't notice. Junko tilts her head and smirks. " Junko. "

That's new. Has Sayaka always looked this… frightening? Maybe so, but Junko's never seen that expression on the idol's face before.

"I'm gonna go have a chit chat sesh with dear ol' Sayaka! Have fun, losers!" Junko calls to the three people still in the storage room as she walks out behind Sayaka.

As soon as the storage room door closes, Junko is shoved into the wall and pinned there by two hands on either side of her head. Sayaka glares up at her with a scowl.

"What did you say to her?"

"Hm?"

Junko knows exactly what Sayaka is talking about. It was just yesterday, after all, and she's aware of what could happen.

Sayaka narrows her blue eyes. " What… did you say to her? She looked so close to crying,"

"Oh, yeah, her ," Junko smirks. She clasps her hands together, drumming her thumbs against the back of her hands. "I just told her the truth--"

Sayaka's palm slams against the wood next to her ear, and Junko couldn't help but jump at the noise. The idol leans forward until her nose is brushing against the fashionista's.

"The truth ? Mukuro is none of those things!" She hisses at Junko. The latter opens her mouth to say something but is interrupted by another smack to the wall. "No, you don't get to say anything--not until you apologize to Mukuro and stop whatever… thing you're doing because some people think you may be working for Monokuma."

Junko scoffs in offense. As if! Why the hell would Junko Enoshima, the most secy person on the planet, known for working her way to the top, join forces with a fucking bear of all things? A stupid, illogical conclusion.

"Who says I'm working for Monokuma, Say-a-ka?" Junko spits each syllable of the blue-haired girl's name. "And who in the hell thinks that I'm working for that Build-A-Bear?"

"A few people, actually. Taka, Kyoko probably, Byakuya, Toko, and Celeste,"

Junko stops thinking after she hears Kyoko's name. She doesn't actually think that Junko… works for Monokuma… right?

Right?

Sayaka releases Junko from her trapped position on the wall and takes a step back. She sighs.

"I don't think you're working for Monokuma, really, I don't. But… something is going on, and you're dragging Mukuro into it," Junko stays silent, so Sayaka presses on. "Please don't hurt her with whatever you're doing."

After a few brief moments of silence, Junko laughs. "Wow, you really have a crush on Muku, huh?"

Sayaka blushes. "N-No, I don't! I'm concerned for a friend," Junko smirks. "No--Junko, a friend !"

"Say whatcha wanna say, Miku, but I see how you look at her,"

And how Mukuro looks at Sayaka, but Junko will never tell. They can figure it out themselves.

Sayaka shakes her head with a soft giggle, but her eyes are still narrowed, disappointed. She waves her hand and walks away back to the storage room.

Junko stays in the hallway for a couple more minutes to collect her thoughts and ponder.

Who the hell even is the mastermind?

With a despondent sigh, Junko leaves the abandoned building and passes Monomi. Her thoughts jumble together in a chaotic whirlwind.

Maybe that's why she didn't notice the eyes watching her as she left the building.

Junko stops short of the restaurant at the hotel, staring up at the structure. Should she… go inside? No. No, she can't do that--she already made herself out to be someone to be wary of.

Maybe if she acts normal?

"You know, for someone so confident around others, you don't seem to have that much when you believe you're alone,"

"Gah!" Junko whips around and raises her fists. The person now in front of her simply raises a brow. "O-Oh… Hey, Kyoko, uh…"

Kyoko crosses her arms. "What was that yesterday?"

"Oh, y'know, just being my true self , obvi!" Junko smirks, but Kyoko stares blankly at the fashionista.

"True self,"

"Uh huh!"

Junko isn't an idiot, she knows exactly why Kyoko is suspicious of her. But, being a detective and all, she needs evidence to back up her claim. If she chooses to go against Junko, that is, and Junko is like… seventy percent certain that she is (but damn that girl is blanker than a piece of paper).

Kyoko simply nods. "Will Mukuro be joining us for this meeting?"

Oh, right. The morning meetings. Shit.

"Ugh, who knows with that stupid girl. I could care less if she shows up,"

Kyoko simply hums and sweeps past the taller girl without another glance. Junko's eyes follow the detective as she walks up the stairs. Her heart beats fast in her chest.

Ah, shit.

Groaning, Junko struts through the lobby and up the stairs toward the restaurant. Eyes immediately snap to her appearance. Junko smirks.

"What up, bitches?" She giggles. She goes to a small table near the back windows and sits down, kicking up her feet on the table.

Taka gasps. "J-Junko! You can't put your feet on the table like that!"

"So what, hardass, I'm just making myself comfortable,"

The four "missing" students--Mondo, Sayaka, Makoto, and (surprisingly) Mukuro--join in the restaurant. Mukuro glances around with a puzzled furrow in her eyebrows, but she makes no complaint as Sayaka and Makoto drag her to a four-person table on the opposite side of the room than Junko. Mondo sits beside Chihiro and Hiro at a different table.

"You all were late to our morning meetings, but I'm glad that Mukuro decided to join us!" Taka shouts with a pump of his fist.

Toko scowls. "Wh-What are we s-supposed to t-tall about, h-huh? We can't e-escape this d-damn island without killing s-somebody!"

"Yes, we can! C'mon, guys, I saw some surfboards in the supermarket!" Hina claps her hands together with a grin. "We can tape a lot of them together and float across!"

Byakuya deadpans. "Across an ocean…?"

"That's right!"

Oh, poor Hina. Junko tuts in her lack of brains, but she is creative.

"Right, b-because a few s-surfboards will hold s-sixteen students!" Toko wrings her hands together as she glares at the swimmer with clear disdain on her face. "N-Not that you would t-take me with y-you…"

Junko pouts. "Aw, Toko, don't say that… If anything, we'd leave Togami behind…"

Toko points her finger at Junko. "D-Don't speak after me y-you… stupid m-model!"

"Ouchies! You gave me a boo boo!"

Mukuro looks at Junko with her head tilted, eyes narrowed. "Just… forget about her. The mission is to escape the island without any murders happening,"

"I agree with that!" Taka slams his hand down on the center-most table. The people closest jump at the sound. "That's why, just this once, I am allowing a party to happen to bring everyone closer together! It will be supervised by myself, of course, but nobody will die!"

"A party? Now that sounds like my style, hall monitor!" Junko smirks and holds her cheeks in the palms of her hands.

Mondo leans back in his chair. "Not complainin' or anything, but… why the hell are we havin' a party?"

Taka shakes his head slightly. "Inspiration struck me last night, so I believed that this was the best way to bring the students in our class closer together!"

A smirk tugs harder at the corners of Junko's mouth, but she successfully hides her mirth.

"Yeah, and we can have some of those drinks that're at the supermarket," Hiro crosses his arms with a proud grin. "Like sodas and stuff like that, y'know?"

"And alcohol," Leon elbows Hiro lightly.

"Haha! Yeah!"

Taka pales. "W-Wait, I do not agree with underage drinking--!"

Sakura, who's been standing silently by the wall with closed eyes, sighs. "I fear there will be no stopping them now that the thought is in their heads,"

"This is ridiculous… I'm not taking part in this party to 'bring everyone closer together'," Byakuya stands from his seat and makes his way to the stairs. "Since I'm feeling generous, know this: Murder can be random and can come from nowhere. Goodbye."

He leaves. Toko scrambles after the heir, nearly tripping on her feet in the process.

Sighing in disappointment, Taka rests his chin on his fist with his elbow on his arm. He raises a brow. "This plan--this party --will work… I have faith in the people I am close with!"

"U-Um, where is the party being held?" Chihiro asks after being silent throughout the whole conversation.

The moral compass falters. He taps his finger against his chin and bites his bottom lip. After a few silent moments, he pops back up with a more enthusiastic look.

"I know! We can have it in the run down building!"

Mukuro panics. "W-We can't do that!"

"Why not?" Kyoko inquires curiously.

Flushing red, Mukuro awkwardly waves her hands and splutters nonsense. "Uh, w-well, it is run down, and, uh, that can… not… I-It could--"

"I had a look inside of the building earlier with Monomi's permission, and the main room had broken floorboards and gaps in the wood," Sayaka takes over calmly, a perfect smile on her face.

Makoto nods with a (clearly fake) thoughtful face. "R-Right! I think a few light bulbs were broken… so…"

"Not a problem, for we can fix the building up to have it prepared by nighttime!" Taka grins proudly with his arms akimbo. "While I don't like staying up late, I'm willing to make an exception this time! But no later than twelve o'clock!"

Junko hums. "Staying up late, a banger party, alcohol… Say, Taka, if I didn't know any better, I'd have thought that you were actually a delinquent,"

"I-I can have fun ! After I finish studying, I study some more because I have freetime, and that's fun!"

Studying isn't fun for any normal person, but OK.

"This time, I thought that a party would suit all of your interests better!" Taka crosses his arms.

Hifumi mutters something about foreshadowing before glancing at Junko for the thirtieth time since she walked in. Seriously, Junko knows she's pretty, but can he take a picture or something?

"If you guys want, I can clean up the building…?" Makoto offers with a calm smile.

Taka laughs. "How nice of you, Makoto! Since it must be done by tonight, let us two work together and get the building cleaned up by ten o'clock when the party starts!"

Ushering Makoto up, Taka marches out of the restaurant with Makoto following close behind.

Junko taps her nailless fingers against the wood of the table, watching as Mondo takes things from the kitchen and tables and bundles them up in his coat. Knives, forks, and anything that is remotely dangerous is gone from the vicinity.

Off to the storage room.

Since there's time before the party starts, Junko wants to hang out with people. Hell, even if they don't acknowledge her presence, she'll just annoy them until they leave.

Spotting Kyoko leaving the restaurant already, Junko stands from her seat and skips after the detective. "Kyoko!"

Kyoko halts and turns. Junko, not expecting her to actually respond, stumbles to a stop. She grins and throws up a peace sign.

"Yes, Junko, what is it?"

"Yeah, so, uh… You wanna hang out with the sexiest person in the world or what?" Junko puts her hands on her hips.

The detective cups her chin in thought. "Considering the time we have before the party starts… Yes, I will spend time with you,"

Junko's eyes light up. She squeals. "Yes! I mean… coolio… C'mon, we gotta hang out by the air--"

"Just by the pool is fine,"

"Th-That's what I was gonna say, meanie! You stole the words right outta my mouth!" Junko rushes out.

Kyoko turns on her heel and walks away, Junko catching up to walk next to her. They stop at the edge of the pool, gazing into the clear water that sparkles when the sun hits it.

"What are you hiding, Junko?"

Junko glances to the side at Kyoko only to find her already staring at the strawberry blonde. "What?"

"You intrigue me, Junko. You show your emotions easily to the others and myself, but I've seen that look on your face whenever you believe nobody is watching," Kyoko turns her body to face the fashionista. She leans forward the slightest bit, causing Junko to blush heavily. "It's almost like… you're hiding your true self."

"Huh…?"

"I don't believe what you said earlier is true; about you finally showing off your true self," She tucks a lock of hair behind her ears as she says this. "Perhaps you're not foolishly open enough that people could take advantage of you."

Junko shakes her head as she stutters. "No, sorry, but, uh… Sorry, like, that's totally wrong!"

"Oh?"

"Duh doy! I am the most open person in the world! The only thing that's even more open is a hooker's legs!" Junko smiles uncomfortably.

She's never had someone this close to her and that wants to know her. Usually they just want a little lap dance or something that Junko says "no" to a million times before giving in. Kyoko's interested in her and not her looks.

Kyoko sighs and shakes her head. "I see. Even though we've only known each other for a few days, I feel as if I've known you for a while. I… expected that answer, somehow,"

"You… did?" Junko says.

"Hm, maybe next time I'll figure you out," Kyoko doesn't smile, but Junko can see the slight amusement and curiosity in her lavender eyes. "About how you know everything at once… About why your eyes move like that…

"Goodbye," Without any other parting words, Kyoko walks away and towards the exit to Hotel Mirai.

God damn

Junko's e-Handbook chimes.

"Junko, what's up!" From where Kyoko just left and passed another person, Leon emerges. He jogs to Junko with a smirk. "You just standing here?"

Junko sighs. "Hot girl…"

Leon makes a choking sound of surprise, sky blue eyes going wide. He glances at where Junko is staring, and he "Ohhh"s. It clicks in his mind.

"I gotcha… You got a thing for that detective, huh? She ain't too bad, I gotta admit, but I'm into girls who like musicians,"

Wow, Mukuro is a girl into a musician! What a coincidence!

"You wanna hang out?"

Should she hang out with Leon? Fuck it!

"Y'know what, let's do it!" Junko grins and crosses her arms.

Leon runs his fingers through his orange hair with a smirk. "Alright! Staying on this island will be fun without the killing, but I'll miss some people in my life,"

"Like who?"

"Well… maybe not so much my cousin Kanon, but I'll miss my friends,"

Junko cocks her head to the side and raises her eyebrow in bemusement. "Kanon? What, is she like some creepy cousin?"

Leon shivers uncomfortably and nods. "Yeah… She just doesn't respect my boundaries and I'm pretty sure that she has a crush on me," He crosses his arms, an annoyed scowl crossing his face. "She's my cousin, by the way, and people think we're together most times."

Oh. Ew…

"That's disgusting. I mean, who the hell would believe you're with your cousin? That's family, and incest should die,"

"They think we're together just 'cuz she's clingy and a bit stalkerish… I wish I could see her pain and help her through it, but…"

Junko fills in the rest for herself. "But you don't want her to fall even more in love with you and be more attached,"

Leon nods. He sighs, shoving his hands into his pants pockets. "You ever get the feeling that shit's already hit the fan?"

"All the time,"

Chuckling, Leon scratches his bearded chin. A grin slips onto his face. "Next time, let's not talk about incestuous cousins and something more awesome,"

"Like what, loser?" Junko puts her hands on her hips and leans forward. "Baseball?"

Leon grimaces. "Hell no! Like music!"

Junko cackles and claps her hands together. "Music? Leon, if you wanna serenade me…"

The orange-haired male laughs whole-heartedly while scratching the back of his head. "Yeah, I'll get a guitar and serenade you under the moonlight. Romantic stuff like that is what chicks dig, right?"

"Maybe, maybe not,"

Leon starts to back away while grooving to a beat in his head. "Some dancing like this afterwards?"

"Sexy dancing? Leon, you're making me swoon!" Junko throws the back of her hand against her forehead and fans herself with her other hand.

Leon waves and begins to walk away, but he turns back at the last minute. "Yo… why the hell did you say all that to your sister yesterday?"

Junko smirks and says nothing to answer Leon's question, so the orange-haired male takes his leave. Junko saw the frown on his face.

Junko's e-Handbook chimes.

Glancing up at the sky, the fashionista notices that it's gotten dark quickly. The bright warmth of the sun is replaced by the mysterious cool of the moon.

Junko takes her leave and returns to her cabin to relax for an hour before meeting at the abandoned building at ten.

She flops on the bed the moment the door closes with a soft sigh of relief. Geez, is everyone going to ask why the hell she talked to Mukuro like that?

Everyone but Byakuya and Toko will be at the party, so Junko supposes that she'll apologize to Mukuro at the party. She'll be who everyone first met…

Why the hell did she even act like that anyway?

Oh, well! Thinking about it more in depth will use up her analytical skills that should be focusing on finding the mastermind.

Junko pulls out her envelope to look over the motive again. She opens the lip and slips the paper out only to pause.

"Well, shit. This is new,"

Chapter Text

"Um, This is an announcement from Hope's Peak Academy's Field Trip Executive Committee… It is now 10pm. Please rest peacefully, along with the soothing sound of the waves. Well then, pleasant dreams. Goodnight…"

Mukuro looks up from her place on the floor, a bottle of Japanese whiskey already to her mouth. She chugs down what is in her mouth and caps the bottle.

No need to be drunk before the party even starts. Besides, this is just to calm her nerves and relieve pent up stress. Nothing more, nothing less.

Standing up with a soft groan, Mukuro slips her combat boots on and holsters her knife and gun. She cups her hands over her nose and mouth, breathing in deeply to steady her shaking breaths.

She's got this… Yes. She's been to war, so a party should be absolutely easy.

Mukuro puffs out her chest and nods to herself to boost her confidence. She has this! Nobody is going to get hurt!

Marching to the door, Mukuro swings it open before closing it after stepping outside. She jogs to the old lodge building with a slight blur in her vision, but she doesn't lose her footing.

In front of the lodge is Kyoko holding a clipboard with a piece of paper on it. Mukuro tilts her head.

"What's that for?" She asks once she reaches the detective.

Kyoko taps the surface of the clipboard with the pen in her hand. "A system for signing in and out. I volunteered to stay and watch the door while the party happens, and Sakura offered to gather food and snacks from the Rocketpunch Market whenever we run low on supplies,"

"Oh… That's a smart idea; logging when anyone enters and leaves,"

"Yes, that's why I suggested it,"

Kyoko and Mukuro sit in an awkward silence, broken only by Hiro running to the door out of breath. He gasps for air and holds up a bag of items. Kyoko nods and takes the bag, handing Hiro the clipboard to sign in. He runs inside afterwards.

"So I just…" Mukuro takes the clipboard and pen to write her name in print (as stated on the top of the page). She scribbles down her entrance time and hands the items back to the detective. "Are you staying out here by yourself?"

"Not at all. I have asked Monomi to stand with me to ensure things run smoothly," Kyoko steps out of the way.

Taking the hint, Mukuro enters the lodge and is blown away by the liveliness that blew away the dreary heaviness from earlier. Her light purple eyes sparkle at the newly lit bulbs and dusted off walls that spunk the hallway up.

Down the hall, Mukuro sees Junko round the corner (presumably exiting the storage room) and skip to the double doors of the main area. The soldier follows her sister and pushes the door open to reveal the broken down room, now fixed up.

Mukuro glances down at the floor and notices a colorful and striped rug spreading across the middle of the floor. It stops a foot or two from the wall. Two tables with white cloth draped over them are at the far end of the room. One has glass bowls of snacks on top of them while the other has two glass bowls. The smaller one is labeled "Regular Punch!" while the other has "Alcohol-ified Punch!", and a red cooler full of ice and soda sits next to the table with drinks.

On the wall adjacent to the snacks and drinks are two amps and microphones. Leon is sitting on a stool and picking at a guitar with a pick, tuning the instrument. The spot next to him is empty.

"Mukuro, you're here!" Sayaka skips over to the soldier and takes Mukuro's hands to clasp them between her own. "I knew you'd be here! You'll stick around to hear me and Leon's performance, right?"

Mukuro blinks in shock and nearly tumbles back and out of the room, but she manages to catch her footing. "Uh, y-yes, it'll be great!"

Sayaka frowns. She takes one of her hands and presses it against Mukuro's forehead. "Are you feeling OK, Mukuro? Your face is super red," She worries.

Sayaka is worried about her! Dang it! Mukuro should have just come to the party without having a drink, but she needed a little liquid courage.

"I-I'm fine, really! I'm just nervous about this party, you know? It's been a while since I've been to one," Sayaka walks Mukuro inside the room. The soldier stumbles slightly, alcohol taking effect.

"Understandable! Y'know… you don't have to hide the fact that you drank before coming here,"

Mukuro chokes on her spit with wide, alarmed eyes. Sayaka laughs.

"Awww! I already told you, Mukuro…" Sayaka leans in to whisper in her ear, breath ghosting over the shell of the soldier's ear. Mukuro leans into the blue-haired girl. " I'm psychic ."

"Oh, geez, is it hot in here or is it just me? Look at that, drinks! I'm just going to… byeloveyougoodbye !"

Mukuro cups her hand over her mouth to keep from screeching as she hurries away from the idol. She swerves around Sakura and Hina and to the bowl with alcohol in it. She swiftly pours herself a cup of the punch, downs it, and pours more. Mukuro drinks about five cups before she staggers away from the table.

Retreating to the corner of the room, the soldier notices that nearly everyone is inside of the main room except for Kyoko, Byakuya, and Toko.

Celeste is standing in her own corner of the room opposite Mukuro with her hands clasped in front of her. Hifumi is on his hands and knees being a… table?

Sayaka sits on her stool next to Leon and strikes up a conversation with him, the two talking animatedly about something.

Taka, Chihiro, and Hiro are by the snack table with smiles on their faces. Hiro is holding a cup that he nurses from occasionally, voice slurring farther and further. Chihiro is between the taller boys with Taka pretty much on the dance floor.

Sakura and Hina, who Mukuro had passed by earlier, are dancing on the floor to random music Mukuro never noticed is playing. Some kind of pop music. Hina is holding Sakura's hands and guiding her to the beat. Sakura seems mildly puzzled and clumsy, but she brightens up at Hina's laugh.

Junko is the closest to the doors but still on the dance floor. She's doing some strange shuffle to the beat of the music while Makoto awkwardly copies, but it's obvious that he can't dance.

Mondo is near the center of the dance floor, sitting on a black case. He's bobbing his head to the music and tapping his foot, watching the students like Taka is (while talking too, the multitasker).

Relaxing at last, Mukuro slumps into the corner. Her head knocks against the wall, but nobody--including herself--notice the noise.

"Mukuro! Are you enjoying the party?" The girl's name brings her attention ahead of her. Makoto smiles at her with a crinkle in the corner of his eyes.

"Uh, yes… I like the music,"

"We found some amps in the back of the supermarket and carried them here. They have a radio function that can play music like from a phone,"

Mukuro blinks slightly. "A radio function? Impressive,"

"Haha, yeah! Do you wanna join the others in dancing?" Makoto glances back to see Junko doing the sprinkler and cringes. "Junko needs some work and not many people's dancing, but…"

"I don't have the skills one requires to properly dance. I know the waltz, but I doubt that this type of music would suit it," Mukuro says. She gulps down her sixth cup of alcoholic punch and sets the cup on the chair next to her.

Makoto shakes his head as he reaches out his hand, palm flat facing the ceiling. Hesitantly, the soldier reaches out and takes Makoto's hand.

Guiding her out onto the floor, Makoto helps Mukuro to keep her balance. "So, um… Sorry, I've never taught someone successfully how to dance,"

"Sway to the beat, right?" Mukuro grits her teeth as she begins to start swaying.

"Yo, Mukuro! C'mere!"

Oh, thank God. Mukuro rushes a quick apology to Makoto while she shakily walks to the center of the room. Mondo nods his head upward in greeting.

"What is it, Mondo?" Mukuro asks, trying (and probably failing) not to look tipsy (and definately failing).

Mondo raps his knuckles against the box he's sitting on. "Found this useful box to store the pointy and dangerous shit from the others. Wanted to make sure I have everything…" He coughs to clear his throat and hide the blush on his cheeks. "Uh, so you wanna ditch the party real quick and check around?"

Mukuro tilts her head to the side. "Why ask me?"

"None of the other guys would help me 'cuz they wanted to enjoy the party or some shit. Fuck, the fatty's bein' used as a damn stool ,"

"Then I'll go with you. Better safe than sorry, right?"

Mondo grins. "Hell yeah," He stands from atop the box and hoists it up, carrying it out of the main room.

Mukuro follows after the biker, blinking long and hard multiple times to stop random bubbles from appearing in her vision. She can't afford to be drunk right now when there are lives on the line! What was she thinking, drinking at a time like this?

Mondo pushes open a door that Mukuro hasn't entered and holds it open for the latter to enter. One glance around the area, and it's clear that this place is the lodge's kitchen.

It's a little rustic with the older machinery and the decor. The cabinets have paint chipped off of them, dull and nearly colorless, but the handles shine as if new.

"I'll check these drawers, and you can search the cabinets,"

"Affirmative," Mukuro squats down until her knees tuck to her chest. She sorts through the cabinets carefully--as careful as possible while tipsy--collecting long screws, fileting knives, a few skewers, and a few other things. "I think I've collected any potential weapon from the cabinets. You?"

Mondo huffs. "Yeah, pretty sure we got it all,"

Rising to her full height, Mukuro watches Mondo place the last of the potential weapons in the case. She's seen that case before, hasn't she?

"Wasn't that case at the supermarket?"

"Hell yeah. Called the 'Digimon case', I think," Mondo scratches the back of his head. "Can't remember the damn name."

"Oh… I think it's called duralumin ," Mukuro says.

"Right, right…"

Mondo worries his bottom lip between his teeth, anxiety building in his lavender eyes. He releases his lip and opens his mouth.

"Y'know, I wasn't gonna do shit at first. If one of you murdered the shit outta someone, it ain't my problem, but… I talked to Chihiro, and she's real scared of this killing game…"

Mukuro leans back against the counter, listening closely to Mondo as he speaks.

"She, uh, she wants to go home to her dad and… I dunno, they have a close relationship since Chihiro nearly broke down," Mondo crosses his arms and grips his forearms. "I guess she made me realize that I gotta be strong for everyone and protect everyone. Doing small shit like this to stop killing, it'll be good.

"And I can't just back out now. I made a promise as a man to protect every living person here until I die,"

Mukuro nods. "Whatever you do, I'll fully support you, Mondo,"

"Thanks," Mondo blushes and looks away. "Enough with this sappy shit, I gotta go back to the party. You comin'?"

"Yes, I'll be there in a moment,"

Mukuro watches Mondo pick up the case and leave the kitchen. Once the door closes with a soft click, Mukuro sinks to the floor. She covers her mouth to stop the sudden sobs, desperate to leave her mouth.

Her throat aches and her eyes sting. Her stomach rolls and coils and stabs itself in guilt and envy. Why can't she be strong like Mondo, who's willing to sacrifice himself to keep everyone else living? Mukuro can't even leave her own fucking room without wanting to break down because nobody is there with her!

She's strong ! She has to be! She must be! Not for herself, but for Junko. Mukuro's strength is enough to keep Junko alive.

Pushing aside her emotions, Mukuro stands up and goes to wipe her tears only to touch dryness. She didn't cry this time… She is strong!

(Mukuro has just been so distracted that she hasn't drinken a full glass of water in days .)

Mukuro leaves the kitchen and returns to the party, watching the time diligently. Just a little before eleven at night, so everyone has another hour to party before Taka kicks them all out to clean up.

She slips into the main room to notice Mondo back in his previous position in the middle of the floor on the duralumin case. Sakura is missing, along with most of the snacks from the table. Mukuro stumbles back to her corner to stand on as high alert as she can.

Junko bounces up to her with a smirk. "Mukuuu, I-I'm… Waaah ! I'm so sorry for what I said yesterday!" She wipes fake tears from her eyes. Her performance is never over, it seems, and the others look as if they're believing the act since Junko's back is facing them.

"It's… fine," Mukuro mutters softly. Junko crosses her arms across her chest and glares at her older sister.

"What the hell--How are you already fucking drunk?" Junko sneers and upturns her nose. "God, you reek of alcohol. How much of that stuff did you even consume , Muku?"

The soldier shrugs. "I'm not sure. A few cups combined with alcohol from earlier,"

Junko mutters something along the lines of "Alcohol from earlier?!" underneath her breath. A wave of calm sweeps over the fashionista once she takes a breath and sighs.

"OK, fine, this'll work out. Just stay in this corner," Junko removes something from her pocket and shoves it into Mukuro's shaking hands. "And hold onto this, it's got some good shit in there. I'll also be needing my envelope back, so hurry the hell up and give it back!"

Mukuro shoves her hand into her pocket and retrieves Junko's original motive. She gives it to her sister with a slight nod.

Junko grins and holds up both hands in the air. "B-T-Dubs, you like my new jewelry? Kyo hates my nails but is fine with bracelets, so I got these,"

Taking a closer look at the thin, clear tubes formed in circles on Junko's wrists, Mukuro notices they're the same bracelets they both used when they were younger. A glow in the dark type bracelet that was always used to play hide-and-seek in the dark when Junko gained success.

"Oh, it's really pretty, Junko! Can I have one?" The soldier reaches out to disconnect one of the bracelets, but Junko snatches her hands back and looks off to the side. "J-Junko?"

"Sorry, sis, no can do; I gotta keep these on my wrists unless I want Kyo mad at me,"

"He won't miss one, though… And don't they come with extra--"

"Hey!" Junko snaps with an angry glare. "I said no . I wanna keep these bitches on, and I don't have any extras. Keep your grubby fingers to yourself."

Mukuro flinches at the sharp refusal to allow the soldier to have a bracelet. Why is she acting so hostile and antagonistic while also claiming not to be a threat? Something isn't right with Junko.

"Anyway, it's nearly 11:30--Five minutes until then, to be exact," Junko sashays away from the corner of the room and back to the dance floor. She's talking to Mondo as of right now.

A soft screech fills the air, removing the soft playing of music. Mukuro glances up to see Leon standing with a large smile at his microphone while Sayaka stands at her own.

"We got the mics working, but we had to turn off that lamp in the back," Leon shrugs towards the far back table that's still full of punch. "Something about power or something, so we should be good now!"

Sayaka giggles. "It's just about time for our performance! We'll be performing two pop songs, two punk songs, and one song to slow dance to!" She says into the microphone.

"An excellent selection of music! The first two aren't in my area of expertise or enjoyable to me, but we will do our best to dance to each song!" Taka shouts. A smile slips onto his face while his hands clasped behind his back.

Leon sighs. "Thanks, I guess…" He raises his arm with the guitar pick in his fingers, an excited grin on his face. "Are we ready to rock?!"

Everyone rushes out onto the dance floor while chattering in excitement. Sakura still isn't back from the supermarket with food, so she probably left right before Mukuro went back to the main room. Celeste and Hifumi are still in their corner of the room, and the latter's arms are shaking from being on his hands and knees for so long. Has Celeste not even given the miserable guy a break?

"Fuck yeah! In three, two--"

Beep beep!

"Huh?" Leon stops before striking his pick against the guitar strings.

Mondo glances around and stands up. "What the hell was that?"

If only Mukuro knew. If she knew, maybe she could have predicted something might happen. Then she wouldn't have drinken so much alcohol that her vision is wobbly and her walking is sluggish.

If Mukuro knew, she would have stopped this…

But she didn't know .

The lights, previously bright with some bulbs filtered with blue lighting, switches off.

Screams of terror immediately crash through the room.

Mukuro panics and draws her gun, pointing it in a random direction and firing.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

The screams grow louder. People are yelling questions, raising concerns. There's a crash sounding of glass hitting the floor.

Mukuro can't save them. She can't see . Her breath catches and hitches in her chest, eyes flickering over the dark room.

She vaguely catches frantic waving of thin, red and blue circles of light, but they don't help anyone.

She can't breathe… Mukuro can't breathe.

It's too dark.

Mukuro drops her gun to the floor and shoots her hands up to her closing throat. Her gloved fingers scratch at the base of her throat, eyes wide in terror yet not truly seeing.

Her body crashes to the ground with a loud thud, and she huddles closer into the corner wall.

Where's her gun? The enemy is closing in! A surprise attack on her base is occuring at two in the morning, and her comrades are dropping like flies.

The general should have responded by now. Rookies weren't ready for this kind of reconnaissance yet, being so close to their enemy's side of the trench.

The rookies died… Her rookies died.

She couldn't save them.

Her closest acquaintance there had his head blown off.

One stepped on a landmine and was gone in an explosion of dirt and smoke.

One of the lieutenants… her fucking organs fell out of her midsection .

It's all her fault. She couldn't train the rookies fast enough. They lost the battle. She took the blame. It's on her shoulders. It's all her fault. She doesn't deserve forgiveness. She killed them all. She's the only survivor.

The only one. She'll kill everyone she meets.

Mukuro can't see. She can't hear. She can't breathe. She can't feel anything. Her hands are numb. Her head… hurts. Is she passing out? No no no, she isn't, now isn't the time.

Mukuro draws her gun from her holster and crouches behind a destroyed building. There's just enough room to hide. She peeks over the brick wall, eroded with time and bombs, searching the field for her targets to eliminate.

Bang!

Shots fired! Shots fired!

Her instincts convince her to duck for cover once more and assess the situation at hand. Someone just shot a gun in the area.

Shot a gun?

Mukuro cracks open her eyes, chest still heaving and stuttering. Her panic is subsiding, but exhaustion creeps into her nerves and bones. It's still dark--

Click!

The light flicks back on, and the people in the room let out a collective hiss at the brightness burning their retinas.

Mukuro opens her eyes again and gasps in shock and horror…

Because Mondo Oowada, the Ultimate Biker Gang Leader is lying on the floor dead with blood rapidly draining from his head.

Chapter Text

No…

The crowd on the dance floor backs away silently from shock, terror etched onto their pale faces. A few people are splattered with blood-- Mondo's blood --but no sounds come from anyone's mouth.

Until Sakura returns, opening the double doors and promptly dropping the snacks from shock.

Hina is the first to scream, Makoto following close behind. From there, the room descends into pure chaos.

Mukuro stares in horror at the gun laying at her feet innocently. The barrel is still probably hot from when she…

… killed Mondo Oowada… the person who vowed to protect everyone with his life.

Oh, God, she killed someone she was growing closer to. A… friend .

"Goodness! I see something shocking has happened! I mean, look at the mess!" Monokuma pops from nowhere with a gasp of surprise. He throws his head back and cackles. "Isn't this just mind blowing ?! The newly deserted Jabberwock Island has finally seen its first murder!"

Makoto shakes his head, face pale. The specks of blood dotting his face makes him all the more petrified. "M-Murder…?"

"W-Wait, so you mean--?!"

"Upupupu… Of course!" Monokuma raises his arm to point his paw at the dead body of Mondo Oowada. "Bugle chip guy was killed by one of you!"

"No…" Mukuro stands and stumbles away from her corner to the center of the room.

The bear giggles. "Yes! You can tell by looking at the body! Obviously murder!" Monokuma says.

He kicks his foot out against Mondo’s unmoving body. "Yep yep! See that look on his face? The one that just screams 'I made a promise to protect everyone'? He died with that look!" Monokuma smirks. "But somebody here didn't trust poor poor Mondo and his actions! What kind of person would do this…?"

Leon comes back to life, setting down his guitar and standing from his stool. "Asshole, you're the one who gave us those stupid motives to make us doubt each other!" He yells furiously.

"My, what a turn of events. If anything, I believed the swimmer girl would be the first to go," Celeste, who hasn't said a word or screamed once, says. She raises her hand to cover her mouth, dainty, to hide her smirk. "Perhaps she will be the second victim."

Hina wheezes out a puff of air but ultimately says nothing, still shocked into silence.

Monokuma glances around before placing his paws on his hips and shaking his head. "Hey. Hey! Hey hey hey! Where the hell are the other three! Oh well, it wouldn't be fair to leave them out, right?"

Ding dong! Bing bong!

The monitor in the corner of the room lights up.

"A body has been discovered! After a short time for investigation, we will start a 'class trial'!"

The monitor turns off.

Mukuro turns her attention to her gun, her precious M9, in the corner of the room. She killed Mondo with it. She officially started the killing field trip.

And she's going to be executed for it.

Zoning back in, Mukuro turns back to the body to notice Monokuma gone and Kyoko, Toko, and Byakuya now occupying his lost presence.

"So a murder did happen as I thought it would," Byakuya smirks.

Hiro shakes his head. "N-No way! Mondo's just passed out from drinking--"

"Mondo never drank anything," Junko supplies. It's then that Mukuro's light purple eyes notice the larger spray of blood on her sister than the others. It's speckled in her strawberry blonde locks of hair and in bigger splotches on her face, neck, and chest (and cleavage).

"But--"

"Even if he drank any alcohol, this is a murder. There is no way to fake the flow of blood leaving his head," Kyoko blankly states to the group. "If you continue to deny the truth, Hiro, then don't stay at the scene of the crime and waste precious time to collect evidence."

"R-Right. She's right…" Taka breathes out near silently.

Chihiro clutches her hands to her chest and trembles. "Then… we really have to do this…?"

"Yes… Gh, if only I had been here to stop this from happening," Sakura closes her eyes tightly.

"We don't have a choice in the matter if we all want to survive this killing school trip. Besides," Byakuya pushes his glasses up and grins. "I look forward to meeting the person who so mercilessly killed with many others in the room."

Mukuro knows her execution will be brutal, but she can help in the investigation anyway. She'll admit her guilt at her trial.

"Hold it!" Monokuma reveals himself once again but with a blue suit on and slicked back, spiky fur. "You didn't really think that you'd be starting your investigation without these?!"

Synchronized, the living students' handbook chime. Mukuro takes out her e-Handbook and notices a notification in a tab labeled "Truth Bullets". She taps on the tab and sees a slot saying "Monokuma File #1" that, when pressed, reveals more information under it.

"The Monokuma File! It’s a necessary provision for amateurs like you bastards. Except Kyoko, of course!"

"Monokuma File…?" Makoto questions softly to himself.

"I'm guessing it's to guide us through the investigation by telling us the state of the body," Celeste says with her neutral smile.

"Perfect! Now I don't need to explain anything, and I can watch from afar!" Monokuma waddles over to a kneeling Monomi with blood on her head and grabs her by both ears.

"Ow ow ow ow! B-Big brother, you know I don't like it when you pull my ears like that!"

Slap!

"I can do whatever I want to you, I'm your big brother!"

With that, Monokuma drags Monomi away and disappears from sight.

A despairingly thick fog weighs down on Mukuro's mind. Trepidation bubbles in her gut. In the end, Mukuro Ikusaba ended up killing someone after all. That's all a soldier like herself is good for.

Kyoko clears her throat and gathers the attention of everyone in the room. "You all may not like this, but I need you not to wash the blood off of your body,"

Junko bristles. "Wh-What?! It could take forever to get this shit outta my hair if it dries!"

"I assure you, it'll help the investigation,"

The fashionista loses her backbone instantly, complying to Kyoko's demands rather obediently. Junko flushes red and glances away.

"Whatever, but you'll be washing my hair later," Junko off-handedly grumbles.

Kyoko quirks her eyebrow up. "If it'll stop you from complaining and start your investigation, I will gladly do so,"

Junko somehow brightens even more, but she pulls the Monokuma File up to hide her face.

Mukuro glances over the Monokuma File.

The victim's body was killed and discovered at the main hall of Hotel Mirai's old lodge.

The time of death was around 11:30 PM.

The cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the forehead. Evidence shows the bullet did exit the body.

There are no other wounds on the body, nor any traces of poison or other drugs.

OK, this is a good start.

"Interesting," Byakuya hums.

Mukuro swallows the lump in her throat. "Wh-What is it?"

"The narwhal died from a bullet to the brain. Who's the only person here who has access to guns of all kinds?"

Eyes slowly turn to where Mukuro is standing weakly on her feet. God, she's still half drunk.

"Before any of you say anything, now isn't the time for accusations. That comes later at the trial," Kyoko butts in before anybody (Toko) could say anything.

Mukuro decides she must leave the room to investigate a different place. She can't work in the main hall if most people are glaring at her.

Actually, there's something needing to be checked urgently. Mukuro walks to the storage room and slips inside of the room and nearly sighs in relief.

The first thing that instantly catches the soldier's attention is a small table setup with three clothing irons on it. Confused, Mukuro walks over and reaches her hand out to pick one up. Upon touching the side of one with her arm accidentally, Mukuro jerks back and mouths on the small burned area.

Mukuro slowly removes one of her gloves and holds her hand an inch away from the iron. Cooling heat strikes against her skin like a match to a surface. She moves her hand to the second iron, finding it hot as well.

The third iron, however, differs from the previous irons. Mukuro never felt any heat against her skin, so she took the chance and pressed her hand against the iron. Cold. What could this mean?

Mukuro should take note of this just in case.

New Truth Bullet: Clothing Irons

With a deep breath, Mukuro heads over to the hidden locker full of guns and other stuff while slipping her glove back on. She knows she won't find anything unusual because Mukuro herself is the killer, but it wouldn't hurt to check. Anything could help, and it could ease the tension in her stomach.

The larger guns and bombs and stuff on the outside of the locker are fine. When she opens the locker, Mukuro's tipsy mind nearly didn't notice it. Her eyes come back to the empty slot holder of a pistol.

… No, this doesn't mean someone else stole one of her guns.

Mukuro goes to take her M9 out of her holster and tries to fit it in the slot, but she sucks in a sharp breath. Damn it, she forgot it in the main hall--Mukuro can't go back there right now and take it. They'll claim she's disposing of evidence.

She needs to take a safer approach. Light purple eyes catch the closest M9 appearance to her own (but hers is custom made to be slightly bigger). Mukuro grabs the gun and tries to fit it in the empty slot.

Several attempts later, Mukuro admits defeat as the gun is not shaped properly to fit into the slot.

Maybe she's too drunk for this. Maybe she's just searching for an excuse to not be the killer. The blackened .

The rational part of her brain chastises the drunk part, but Mukuro isn't sure which is her left or right side. What a load of "Bee Ess" or whatever Junko says…

Bee Ess… Bee S… BS. Oh! Bullshit! Junko means bullshit !

Hey, no. Back on track.

Mukuro needs to think rationally, so she dismisses the thought of herself being the culprit. She looks at the slot again. The longer side for the barrel, and the other longer side for the handle…

Wait a minute.

Mukuro nearly cries from relief. She didn't kill Mondo. She can still be strong for her sister and protect her at all costs.

The empty slot is for a 357 Magnum. The blackened's dirty secret can be used to clear Mukuro's name!

New Truth Bullet: Missing Gun

With a quick search around, Mukuro concludes there is nothing else to search in this room.

Now she has to return outside and face the disapproval of her classmates. They'll press her for information and vote her out in the end, but Mukuro has an advantage…

Unless Mukuro accidentally killed Mondo… Maybe the Magnum being gone is just a coincidence? She can't check since she decided to leave her notebook at her cottage, and she highly doubts the others would allow her to leave so easily.

But… Mukuro may still have a chance if she believes she never harmed Mondo in the first place. Disconnect your emotions from the hard facts. Whatever the outcome is, what the facts lead to, Mukuro will accept them.

Mukuro twists the knob to the door and steps outside of the storage room. She's had enough alone time to be by herself and allow everyone else to cool off, so she should go back to the main hall.

Her unsteady feet guide her down the hall and around the corner where her eyes catch Sayaka and Leon conversing softly by the bathrooms. She furrows her brows together. Aren't they supposed to be investigating right now?

"Sayaka! Leon!" Mukuro calls out as she walks over to the pair.

Leon's sky blue eyes narrow suspiciously, but Sayaka smiles softly.

"Hi, Mukuro! Where'd you go earlier?" Sayaka asks with a slight tilt of her head.

"O-Oh, right… I wanted to check something out in the storage room and let everyone else calm down," Which probably didn't work since Leon inches away from Mukuro with a scowl. "What're you two talking about?"

Leon scoffs. "Why should we tell you? Who's to say you won't kill us after we tell you?"

"Leon!" Sayaka smacks the orange-haired male on the arm. She turns her gaze back to Mukuro. "It's fine if we tell you… because I believe you didn't do this, Mukuro."

"What--Sayaka, are you crazy?! This chick is a damn murderer , and you're just gonna trust her like that?!" Leon shakes his head. He turns and stalks off, stomping his feet. "Count me out."

Sayaka and Mukuro watch the baseball player leave. How much this situation has turned sour… Mukuro will never forgive the murderer for splitting everyone apart.

( Even if it does turn out to be herself.)

"Did you see anything strange before the lights turned out?" Mukuro asks softly, a grimace on her face.

Sayaka presses her finger to her chin in thought. "Hmmm… Not really. Me and Leon were just about to sing when something beeped and the lights went out. You, Celeste, and Hifumi weren't in the crowd, and Kyoko, Byakuya, Toko, and Sakura weren't in the room," She taps her finger, eyes closing and eyebrows pinching together. After a moment, Sayaka’s deep blue eyes open. "Oh, right!"

Mukuro, who's been waiting patiently, jolts at the sudden exclamation. "Wh-What is it?"

"I didn't see anything, but I know I heard things,"

"Really? What did you hear?"

Sayaka draws her bottom lip into her mouth and bites down, closing her eyes once again. "Once the lights went out, everyone started to freak out and scream… then it went something like this…"

Bang! Bang! Bang!

"Wh-What the hell was that?!"

"Hey! Whoever turned the lights off, turn them back on! This isn't a funny joke!"

The sound of glass hitting the floor joins in with the chaos.

A clatter of something heavy followed by a thud hits the floor.

"I can't see! Turn the lights on!"

"I'm sure it is only a blackout, as ridiculous as it sounds,"

"B-But, Ms. Ludenberg!"

"Quiet!"

Rip!

"What the hell is--?!"

Bang!

Another thud of something hitting the floor.

"Another one?!"

"Ew! What in the actual hell just came on my face?! Don't take that out of context, you pervs!"

"And that's what happened before the lights came back on," Sayaka finishes.

That's what happened…? Sayaka heard all of that and retained her memory of the conversations and the order of events…

"I know, I am pretty amazing, huh?" Mukuro pouts at the idol's teasing. Her and her psychic self… "I think I know who spoke in what order, too, if that's important."

"Anything will help, thank you,"

"First were the three gunshots. Then Leon spoke first, followed by Taka. It goes Hifumi, Celeste, Hifumi, Celeste, and then Mondo. That's when the fourth gunshot happened. Makoto spoke next and then the last was Junko…"

So if she remembers correctly, it should go like this…

Bang! Bang! Bang!

"Wh-What the hell was that?!" - Leon

"Hey! Whoever turned the lights off, turn them back on! This isn't a funny joke!" - Taka

The sound of glass hitting the floor joins in with the chaos.

A clatter of something heavy followed by a thud hits the floor.

"I can't see! Turn the lights on!" - Hifumi

"I'm sure it is only a blackout, as ridiculous as it sounds," - Celeste

"B-But, Ms. Ludenberg!" - Hifumi

"Quiet!" - Celeste

Rip!

"What the hell is--?!" - Mondo

Bang!

Another thud of something hitting the floor.

"Another one?!" - Makoto

"Ew! What in the actual hell just came on my face?! Don't take that out of context, you pervs!" - Junko

"That second thud must've been when Mondo dropped. He must've died before he hit the floor," Mukuro off-handedly states while crossing her arms.

Sayaka flinches at such a statement, but she doesn't refute it at all.

"But why did the lights go out?" The soldier sighs at the difficulty of the question. What could cause the lights to go out? "Thank you for the information, Sayaka."

"No problem! I should go back to investigating anyway," Sayaka waves and walks away, leaving Mukuro by herself.

New Truth Bullet: Sayaka’s Account

This murder is complicated. Lights turning out, gunshots (one not coming from Mukuro), and so much more. Mukuro hasn't even investigated the scene of the crime because she's so scared of seeing Mondo's dead body…

Light purple eyes flick to the door beside the unisex bathroom. The office. It wouldn't hurt to check there since Mukuro and Mondo were the last in the kitchen, so there wouldn't be enough time to hide anything there without being considered suspicious.

Let's hope she doesn't waste time by doing this.

Mukuro heads into the office where she sees both Chihiro and Sakura talking to Monokuma.

"Monokuma? I thought you were going to watch from afar?" The three in the room turn their attention to the soldier.

Monokuma giggles into his paws. "Mukuro! How nice of you to join us! I was just about to say that I was the one who helped you all out and turned these circuit breakers back on!" He throws his hand behind his head and winks. "Now, now, don't give me that murder bot look!"

Mukuro glares harder.

" I never turned off the breakers in the first place. That was one of you guys!"

One of the students here…?

Sakura folds her arms across her chest and glares down at the bear. "How do we know you're telling the truth?"

"Because I'm Monokuma and everything I say is automatically trustworthy!" At the silence from the girls in the room, Monokuma begins to sweat. "Arg… fine! I don't gain anything by lying. Besides, now you have some good information!"

The silence continues.

"Geez, I get it, you all don't want me here!" Monokuma disappears.

Mukuro turns her attention to Sakura and Chihiro, who also turn to stare at her. The silence is loud.

At last, Sakura nods. "Mukuro," And promptly leaves the room, stepping past Mukuro. Chihiro follows the martial artist out of the room, but not without gifting the soldier with a wide-eyed stare of fear.

Mukuro decides to ignore the pang in her chest and focuses back on the circuit breaker near the ceiling. It's extremely high up, and the only person who could possibly reach it is Sakura.

Shaking the lingering thought of suspicion away, Mukuro goes to the panel on the wall… Huh? The panel on the wall says the air conditioner for the office is set for 11:30 PM.

… This could be an important clue if Mukuro finds the same evidence in the main hall.

New Truth Bullet: Air Conditioner Timer

Other than the remote panel to the air conditioner, there should be nothing left to investigate in the office.

Now for the scene of the crime…

Mukuro steels herself as best as she can and marches out of the office and to the double doors of the main hall. Taking a deep breath, she pushes open the door and steps inside.

She's been putting this off for the entire investigation time. She needs to see Mondo's body.

Walking over slowly, aware of the eyes following her, Mukuro stops in the center of the room… where the dead body still lies. Kyoko is crouched down next to Mondo's head.

Mukuro also crouches down to search Mondo's body for anything helpful to the situation. Her eyes lock onto the envelope--most likely Mondo's motive--curiously. She wonders why it isn't inside of his pocket since a bullet to the head wouldn't have impacted the letter unless Mondo was holding it when he died…

Unless… it isn't… No. No, it was by Mondo's body, he could have set it on the ground.

But then, why do that for no reason?

Shaking her head, Mukuro moves her hand and picks the item up.

The pure white of the paper has been stained with blood, and Mukuro hopes it won't block the motive.

Curiously, Mukuro opens the envelope and is relieved to see the paper inside is still intact. Her eyes look at the statements on the paper…

Two Lies and a Truth!

(You can't tell anyone what these are or else…)

Hiro donates all of his money to charities.

Sakura has a boyfriend.

Junko is the mastermind behind this killing game.

… Something about this rubs Mukuro the wrong way. An itch where she can't scratch it. Perhaps it's nothing.

Speaking of motives, why did Junko suddenly ask for her own back? Why did she publicly trade them off (again) when she could have asked to trade in private?

Actually…

No. Focus. She'll be able to talk to Junko and have some answers at the trial. For now, the only person who needs to collect answers to burning questions is Mukuro.

Besides, she still has to investigate an acquaintance's body and determine something--anything--to prove her innocence. Her " maybe innocence", but she has no idea.

For now, Mukuro's light purple eyes settle on Mondo's coat. It's tattered and torn on one side.

Her hands flip open the coat to see if the culprit left any physical evidence behind. Her eyes glare at the suspiciously torn inner pocket of Mondo's jacket, gears turning in her head.

The vicious grab of fury is there, evident by the tears and scratches made by only fingernails .

This case is complex…

New Truth Bullet: Torn Pocket

Curiously, Mukuro's gaze turns to Mondo's hand which is closed tightly into a fist. She pries his fingers open and tilts her head slightly as the sight of a gold button laying in his palm.

What's this doing here? … It could be important.

New Truth Bullet: Gold Button

Deciding she isn't receiving any answers on her own, Mukuro shuffles up Mondo's body to the cause of death. Kyoko is squatting on the opposite side of Mondo's head than her, investigating thoroughly.

She eyes the wound, dubbing it to be the entrance wound by how small it is. On the back of Mondo's head is a larger hole, specifically from where the bullet shot through the back of his skull.

"It's strange, isn't it?" Kyoko says, gesturing to Mondo's face.

Turning her attention back to his forehead, Mukuro notices something… off. Kyoko is right. There's a thin layer of powdered black stuff on Mondo's forehead. Upon closer inspection, Mukuro figures out where she's seen it before.

"That's… gunshot residue,"

"This means that whoever fired the gun was close enough to the victim to leave evidence behind," Kyoko swipes her finger against some of the residue. "I suppose an amateur gun user would have no idea of the evidence they left. In fact, they probably have residue on their hands."

Mukuro sighs. "I doubt Monokuma would allow a body check because we'd find the killer too easily,"

"So you don't believe yourself to be the killer. Finally, I presumed Junko would have said something by now, but," Kyoko glances over her shoulder. Junko is next to the pile of glass with Hiro, who's wet and most likely to have fallen into the table. "Something strange is going on in her head. I fear she may be an enemy we need to overcome."

"A-An enemy? Junko isn't the type to do bad things without a reason, so--"

"Allow me to show you something," Kyoko interrupts Mukuro. She pulls out two folded pieces of paper and hands them to the soldier. "Read over these and then tell me your opinion."

Mukuro opens the first piece of paper only to see everyone's signature. This is the time in and out thing Mukuro had to sign to attend the party. Every students' signature is on here, including Byakuya and Toko. Did Mukuro not notice those two before?

She hands the first note back to the detective before opening the second. God…

Dear Kyoko,

Congrats! You have been sent a letter!

Anyway, no time for dilly dally! This is my announcement! A very special *something* is going to happen. Tonight.

You'll have to figure that out yourself, but I believe in you, detective!

What… the hell. This is…

"Judging by the look on your face, you've already figured it out," The detective says.

Mukuro shakes her head. "No… Junko didn't write this,"

"She did. She's the only one who writes like this, and it clearly states that--"

Mukuro hands the paper back to Kyoko and rises to full height. "I-I need to investigate somewhere else…"

Kyoko doesn't respond, so Mukuro moves to her original corner of the room.

New Truth Bullet: Gunshot Residue

New Truth Bullet: List Of Names In Print

New Truth Bullet: Note To Kyoko

In her original corner of the room, Mukuro stares down at her M9. Shaking, she picks it up and releases the magazine to check the amount of bullets in the gun. Only three bullets were fired from the gun, so where did the bullets go?

She glances up at the corner of the room where the air conditioner sits. Setting down the gun, Mukuro walks over to the corner. Her light purple eyes glare close at the wall as she comes closer.

Three holes are in the wall.

This confirms it. Mukuro had and used three bullets, and there are three bullet holes in the wall.

New Truth Bullet: M9 Magazine

New Truth Bullet: Three Bullet Holes

While she's over here, Mukuro should check the air conditioner settings before she runs out of time. Her attention turns to the machine on the wall.

Well, would you look at that… The timer here is also set to 11:30 PM. This could be important to the case.

Updated Truth Bullet: Air Conditioner Timer

"Hey, Mukuro!"

The soldier glances around and notices Makoto coming up to her. She smiles miniscule, but no emotion reaches her eyes.

"What is it, Makoto?" She asks.

The lucky student glances up at the air conditioner Mukuro previously checked. "Oh, are you checking the times for the AC? Wait, I need to tell you something!"

Makoto sounds serious. Could he have a clue that could unravel this case and reveal the killer?

"Earlier while Taka and I were cleaning the lodge, a piece of paper was taped to the door after we started preparing. Here," Makoto digs his hand into his pocket and hands over a crumpled slip of paper.

Hiya!

I couldn't tell you in person, but I thought I'd give you some good fucking news! I found a few amps and microphones in the back of the Rocketpunch Market, so Sayaka and Leon could perform some kinky stripper songs for the party!

You should go and get them!

Love, K

Why the hell did Junko write two letters to two different people on the same day? And why go by the name "K"?

Makoto sees the worried expression and smiles. "Hey, it's OK, whoever wrote this note will be revealed in the trial,"

Mukuro nods. Yes… whoever wrote this note will be revealed in the trial…

New Truth Bullet: Note To Makoto/Taka

"Is there anything else of importance that needs to be said?" Mukuro asks as she hands the letter back to Makoto.

"Hmmm… Well, I went to the market first because Taka wanted to finish laying out the rug. We met ten minutes later at the market," Makoto cups his chin in thought. "It took us a while to get back to the lodge because the amps were heavy, and we didn't have enough hands for cords, amps, microphones, and mic stands."

"How long do you think it took to go from the Rocketpunch Market back to the lodge?"

"About… thirty minutes? Yeah, it took around that long to go from the market and back,"

Thirty minutes…

New Truth Bullet: Makoto's Account

"Thank you, Makoto, this helped a lot," Mukuro says absentmindedly.

Makoto nods. "Of course! But… are you alright? You look really tired,"

"I'm fine, just… still kind of drunk,"

"Y-You're drunk and still investigating?!"

The soldier laughs lightly. "Yes. I suppose it does seem ludacris when I say it aloud. A drunk person investigating a murder,"

"It's not… It's surprising, is all," Makoto looks over his shoulder. "I should probably look at the body… It's hard to believe he's…"

Dead. Mondo is dead, and as more evidence comes to light, it becomes more obvious Mukuro isn't the killer.

"I know… Be careful, OK?" Mukuro pats the boy on his shoulder before walking off towards the makeshift stage.

If the bullet isn't inside of Mondo's head…

Curiously, Mukuro stops to examine the wall behind where Sayaka and Leon sat. A hole in the wall sits just between the two stools.

She pokes her finger into the wall, her own curiosity getting the better of her. Feeling something smooth, Mukuro unsheaths her combat knife to carve carefully into the wall.

Once the hole is big enough, she returns her knife to its sheath and fishes the object out of the wall.

Dropping from the wall and into the palm of her hand, Mukuro sighs at the item. She didn't kill Mondo. This bloody bullet that goes to a 357 Magnum proves it.

New Truth Bullet: Bloody Bullet In Wall

"Mukuro…" Taka says as he slowly slumps to her.

The soldier turns around with wide eyes. Taka… didn't yell? He's talking at a normal speaking range, yes, yet his eyes are hollow and gray. The reality of the situation being brought down by a surprise killing at a party you planned to stop killing? It must be a horrible feeling.

"Yes?" Mukuro answers him.

Taka opens his mouth then closes it with a click. "I-I… I'm… I regret not becoming closer to him in order to put aside our differences," He wipes his eyes with his blood-dotted forearms. God, his pristine white clothing is ruined. "I shouldn't have done it. Everything… I-I'm so sorry… The party…"

Oh… Taka is guilty and is taking the blame for something out of his control.

Mukuro pats the moral compass on the shoulder with, what she hoped was, a smile. "Taka, you don't need to blame yourself for this,"

Hypocrite.

"We'll move past this. Become stronger,"

Taka simply stares at the soldier with tears slipping down his cheeks, clean as ever. He begins to nod, thick eyebrows raised then lowered then pinched together.

"R-Right. I also wanted to give you something I received yesterday after Monokuma presented his motive," Taka digs into his pocket and pulls out a slip of paper.

Mukuro narrows her eyes. "Is that…?"

Taka hands the note to her and stands, waiting for her to read it and analyze it. The soldier continues to watch the uptight male for a few seconds, unable to connect the dots. She glances down at the note.

Hiya hardass!

Nice to see ya again, fuckwad! Now, I have a special announcement!

Tomorrow, there will be a murder. It will be random, and you all will die on this island because of it!

This is an official fucking announcement! Tell anyone and I'll fucking shank you like prison. Without the damn kinky ass cuffs, however…

Bye!!!! K

OK, seriously, Junko wrote three notes to three people. Two of them were warnings and the other was "leave the lodge alone for thirty minutes".

It doesn't make sense… Junko wouldn't normally do something like this.

Unless she wants to prank someone--Mukuro learned that the hard way. It took forever to pick eggshells out of her hair.

Three notes. Two signed K.

New Truth Bullet: Note To Taka

"Thank you, Taka, for the new information…" Mukuro says absentmindedly as she hands the slip of paper back to the strict male.

Taka swallows audibly. "It… It is all my fault…"

The blankness on his face strikes a chord through Mukuro's fuzzy mind. It's familiar, full of guilt. Taka doesn't need to worry about this, the party was taken advantage of.

Taka wipes his eyes again, fumbling with the front of his uniform. "I-I need to go…" He turns on his heel and leaves abruptly.

Mukuro closes her eyes and sighs.

Ding dong! Bing bong!

"It's time! That's right! It's time for our long-awaited class trial! I will now announce the meeting place. On the central island here in Jabberwock, there is a mountain with my cute face carved on it. Its name is 'Monokuma Rock'! Please proceed to the underground elevator, accessible from a hidden secret entrance on that mountain. Upupu, see you later!"

Mukuro releases a shaky breath from her mouth, wanting to stop the trembling in her hands. She can do this. She's got this. It's just a trial…

Of killing one of Mukuro's friends.

She turns to leave the room only to notice the other students already gone. Her eyes look at Mondo's body, cold and lifeless.

"I'll get justice for you, Mondo… I promise,"

The soldier exits the main hall and lodge, jogging to the central island. Once she makes it, she sees everybody else standing and waiting for her.

"Am I late?"

Toko scowls and jabs her finger towards the late arrival. "You're just p-prolonging the in-inevitable,"

"I was paying my respects to Mondo," Mukuro sighs and runs her gloved hand down her arm.

"Yeah, right," Leon doesn't look at the soldier, but Mukuro can feel the rage seeping off of him.

Monokuma pops up from nowhere. "Well, then. It seems everyone is finally here. It's time to use the 'secret entrance' and head to the trial grounds,"

"W-Wait a minute, please!" Monomi exists from somewhere, begging with a huff in her breath. Did she run here or something?

"... Oh? Monomi? Why are you here? No one asked for you, you know?"

"I… I--"

"Hm? Do you want in on the fun too? Unbelievable. You actually want to put your incompetence on display at the school trial?" Monokuma is laughing, paws on his belly. "I didn't think you'd take the M in 'Mascot' so seriously… But who am I to refuse? I'm a very considerate big brother, so I'll give you special permission to participate!"

Monomi grumbles.

"Well, then. I'm going up ahead. Don't keep me waiting!" Monokuma disappears.

"S-So, where exactly are we supposed to go now?" Hifumi crosses his arms. "There's no machine to teleport us there like in one of my favorite shows."

Celeste rolls her eyes.

"He said there was a hidden entrance somewhere, didn't he?" Hina tilts her head slightly.

"In the RPGs I used to play, the hidden entrance to fight the bad guy went underground," Makoto off-handedly states.

Mukuro tilts her head. RPG?

The ground begins to rumble and shake, nearly knocking everyone off of their feet.

"I-Is there an earthquake?!" Sayaka cries out.

"Or worse! The paranormal!" Hiro covers his head and crouches to the ground in fear.

Instead of an earthquake or the… paranormal, one of the Monokuma's mouths opens on the monument. The second head spits out a long flight of stairs that moves.

"An escalator?" Junko gapes.

Yes, that.

"Whatever magic this is, I'll believe it for now," Mukuro steps forward and onto the escalator. She slowly goes up to the top and into a bland elevator with a green floor.

Behind Mukuro, everyone else rides to the top and enters the elevator. Once the students are inside, the doors close and the jolt from the elevator signals its shifting.

Mukuro stays tucked into a corner, observing the other students as they find their space in the small elevator.

This is their lives until someone comes to find them. This dark and sickening purge of Monokuma reigned upon them, forcing someone to kill.

Mukuro promised not to kill anyone else while she was at Hope's Peak Academy, not wanting to get caught up in something so soon after leaving a war.

Destiny hates Mukuro, however, and wants her to kill some more. Or, at least, have her keep experiencing death firsthand. Destiny wants her to break, to fold under the pressure.

She can't.

If she breaks, Junko dies. If she breaks, Makoto dies. If she breaks, Sayaka dies. Mukuro can't let death come and claim those she loves, tainting their images in her eyes and corrupting her. Destiny wants her to suffer and never look at someone--dead or alive--the same way again.

As the elevator descends further into the ground, Mukuro makes a promise to herself. And she promises to keep her emotions in check. To never look weak like she was tonight.

The elevator descends more into the despairing pits of hell.

Chapter Text

The doors to the elevator open slowly, creaking every second it slides to the side.

The students inside of the elevator pile out of the box and into the trial grounds.

Mukuro glances around the trial room nervously with a furrow in her brow, her tipsy mind not liking the orange-tinted lighting that strikes her eyes.

"Welcome one and all!" Monokuma raises his arms and twirls while standing on a throne. "So, what do you think? This is our trial room! The special place that will decide you bastards' fate!"

Junko scoffs. "Uh huh,"

"Upupu… Go ahead and say whatever is on your mind," The bear giggles. "I'm already used to complaints.

"But, let's not waste any more time and electricity! Go sit in the seat your name is written on, you bastards!"

Mukuro starts forward to her podium, searching the plaques and stopping at the podium across from Monokuma. Across from her podium is Junko with Byakuya and Celeste to her right and left respectively.

To Mukuro's right all the way to Celeste sits Toko, an empty seat (Mondo), Leon, Sakura, Hifumi, and Taka. To her right all the way to Byakuya sits Hiro, Kyoko, Sayaka, Makoto, Hina, and Chihiro.

The Ultimate Biker Gang Leader, Mondo Oowada… Mukuro didn't know him too well, but his determination to take away any kind of weapon made him respectable in her eyes.

He had a bad temper, almost punching Makoto because of it, but he wasn't a bad guy in the end.

And someone… killed him.

There is no way to avoid it or delay the results, for the culprit must be among the remaining students. The one who betrayed everyone and killed is here. They started the killing game. They have no other choice but to reveal the truth of the culprit's heinous crimes. If they don't… everyone dies.

It's sacrificing one for many, and Mukuro would take the opportunity in any other situation as well as this one. This is the only way to win the class trial and survive.

A disgusting class trial where the hopes and despairs of the students clash together. To reveal the truth, someone is to kneel to their despair and face punishment…

"Before we begin, let me explain the rules of the class trial in simple terms," Monokuma says. "Your task is to reason out the identity of the culprit, and vote on who to accuse!

"Should you correctly identify the culprit, they alone shall be punished! But if you vote for the wrong person… Then everyone except the culprit shall be punished, and the culprit shall be given permission to leave the island!"

Monomi, who's tied up in the air next to Monokuma's throne, whimpers. "Those rules are too cruel!"

"Before we begin, I have a question," Kyoko says. She glances across from her podium. "What's with… that photo?"

Mukuro leans forward to look at the elegant metal stand with a square photo of Mondo on it. A pink "X" is drawn across the frame from corner to corner.

Monokuma covers his mouth with his paws. "I wouldn't want anyone to be left out of the class trial!"

"And… the culprit is really one of us?" Makoto asks with a nervous tremble in his tone.

"Of course they are... Our murderous culprit is definitely one of you. It truly is a sad tale, isn't it?" Monokuma looks down in faux sadness. His head pops back up. "By the way, this school trial is 100% fair and square, so please relax. After Monomi, favoritism and injustice are the things I hate the most!"

"You really hate me that much?!"

Monokuma pumps his paw in the air. "Well, then, let's begin!"

"'L-Let's begin', he s-says… but wh-where are we s-supposed t-to begin?" Toko grumbles.

"Obviously we're starting by talking with our fists!" Hifumi exclaims with a grin. "We must beat down our opponent physically as well as mentally!"

Hiro gasps and cards his fingers through his hair. "W-We're gonna fight the culprit?!"

"No, you ignorant bozo. The biker died in the lodge, so the most suspicious people are the ones who were there with him," Byakuya folds his arms across his chest.

Hina grits her teeth. "A-And we're sure nobody snuck in? Someone like Byakuya,"

Byakuya rolls his eyes. "I assure you, I had absolutely nothing to do with this murder. You all started the killing game, not me,"

"Y-Yeah, so don't accuse him of a-anything, you… you b-big chested idiot!" Toko spits at Hina. She scowls. "Maybe th-that's where all y-your brains w-went… to your big b-boobs."

God, those two will keep fighting forever if nobody says anything.

"Right now, we need to… talk about something other than, uh," Mukuro blushes. "H-Hina's… b-boobs…"

"Thank you!"

Leon sets his jaw and nods. "Uh huh. We can talk about the most suspicious person here,"

Celeste covers her mouth, dainty. "Oh my, we're starting so early,"

That's right. The most suspicious person…

Mukuro focuses on the discussion, determined on hearing everyone and everything.

"Like, c'mon, we all know that Mukuro's the damn culprit!" Leon shakes his head and frowns.

"W-Well, she did have a gun," Chihiro meekly states.

"Yes, that's true!" Hifumi squeals. "Oh, this is like a real trial!"

"If there was no other gun… then Kuro's the culprit?! No way!" Hiro yells.

"Th-There is no o-other possibility…" Toko sighs in irritation.

What that person said…

"That statement is false!"

The entire courtroom turns to the source of the loud yell, eyes wide. Their eyes fix onto Mukuro with her hands gripping onto her podium, jaw clenched and determination in her light purple eyes.

"Wh-What?" Hiro speaks first, knocked from his astonishment.

Mukuro needs to continue on. "What Toko said about there being no other possibility. She's wrong,"

"What? H-How am I wr-wrong?" Toko scowls to the side at Mukuro. "There was o-only o-one gun in the room!"

"No, there was another gun in the room,"

Byakuya hums. "I suppose you have proof to back up your claim?"

It has to be that. The Missing Gun.

"In the storage room of the lodge, I… moved my guns there," Mukuro admits. She scratches the back of her neck sheepishly. "I wanted to check there just to make sure nobody stole anything. I thought I was the culprit, but… someone stole one of my guns."

Sayaka shouts. "Wh-What?! But we hid them so well!"

"You knew about the weapons?" Sakura questions which flusters the idol.

"W-Well--"

"If it makes it any better, I also knew about the movement of Mukuro's weapons," Makoto draws the class's attention to him. He smiles nervously. "Actually… five of us knew about the weapons."

"Who were they?" Kyoko asks.

Makoto points to Mukuro. "Well, Mukuro, of course. Sayaka, me, M-Mondo… and Junko,"

Junko says nothing, simply standing blankly at her podium.

"Even if there was a missing gun, couldn't Mukuro have taken it before the transfer?" Celeste leans forward as she says this, red eyes wide.

"No. We made sure that everything was there when we were done," Sayaka clutches at the pink bow on her chest.

Byakuya chuckles. "Missing gun or not, isn't it possible that the soldier is lying to us?" He lifts his head proudly. "There could be no other gun. She could be trying to mislead us."

Mukuro sucks in a sharp breath. "Why would I do that?"

"To leave the island, of course," Byakuya says.

Kyoko glances at the heir. "But wouldn't it be strange, Byakuya? Mukuro would kill her twin sister in the process of leaving, someone she's been trying to protect,"

Junko stays silent.

"And if it was a ruse?" Celeste smirks. "She would've fooled not only us, but her sister as well."

Mukuro looks across the room at her sister. "Junko… can you say something?"

Junko glances up, eyes processing everything. She hums. "So that's how it happened. Honestly wasn't expecting it,"

"She figured it out?!" Hifumi bounces in his seat in excitement. "I knew it! I knew it was true!"

"Ugh, I hate courtrooms. Especially ones as tacky as this," Junko rolls her eyes when Monokuma growls behind her. "Listen, you want proof Mukuro didn't kill Mondo, you gotta look in the walls of your perspective."

… Riddles. Seriously?

Mukuro focuses on the discussion.

"Look in the walls… What is that supposed to mean?!" Hina grumbles and looks off to the side.

"Ah! Maybe Junko's sayin' that there's a message on the walls!" Hiro laughs.

"There wasn't anything written on the wall. On any wall," Sayaka says.

"It could've been in invisible ink!" Hifumi suggests.

"Invisible ink…" Chihiro tilts her head. "But we would've needed a black light to see the message."

"Morons… Think of it like this," Junko raises her hands and begins to gesture. "I shoot a gun inside of a room full of people. It hits nobody. Where does it go?"

"Into a wall," Byakuya says.

Of course!

"I agree with that!"

Mukuro nods her head, pieces of the puzzle slowly but surely coming together. "That's right, Byakuya. I shot three bullets into the room, but they didn't hit anybody,"

"H-How do you kn-know that?!" Toko glares at the soldier.

It's that, isn't it? The Three Bullet Holes.

"Inside of the wall across from where I was standing were three bullet holes. The only explanation is that I shot the wall, while someone else shot Mondo--"

"I'll knock that theory right outta the damn park!"

Mukuro startles at the sudden yell of offense at her theory. She looks to find Leon staring at her with light, angry blue eyes.

"Someone else shot Mondo in the head just because you shot three bullets into the wall?!" Leon shakes his head, fists clenched. He grits his teeth, face beginning to turn red. "I don't believe that! I won't let you trick us!"

Mukuro swallows the lump in her throat.

"The one leading us through this stupid trial is Mukuro! Who's to say she isn't the culprit and is tricking us!" Leon shakes with rage. "The fact that you shot the gun is proof enough, and I'm hella sure there's no other gun like you said!"

"H-Hold on! If we talk through it some more, I'm positive your doubts will go away!" Mukuro tries to reason with the hot-headed boy.

"Yeah, right! If there were four shots in the room and three bullets in the wall… you fired the fourth shot that killed Mondo! There's nothing you can say to change that!"

"I'll cut through your words!"

"Actually, Leon, I didn't fire the fourth shot into the room," Mukuro crosses her arms with a furrowed brow.

Leon scoffs. "Uh huh, sure,"

It has to be the M9 Magazine.

"According to you, I shot four bullets into the room, but that isn't the case. In fact," Mukuro moves her hands to grip at the wood of the podium. "I fired three bullets. My gun magazine can prove that."

On the screens above their heads, a picture of Mukuro's gun magazine is on display. It shows out of the total number of fifteen bullets, three of them are missing.

Leon pales. "Is that…?"

Mukuro fumbles for a moment at the sudden showing of her gun. "Uh, yes, that's my gun. B-But you can see that it's only missing three bullets,"

"Oh… You didn't shoot the fourth bullet then…" Leon mutters.

"Yep! Muku is as innocent as a puppy!" Junko smirks. "Not really since she is a soldier, but it's whatever."

"I've been wondering since it's been brought up," Celeste folds her hands under her chin with a smile. "What if Mukuro did have the gun she claimed was 'missing'? She could have still shot three bullets from her personal weapon but killed Mondo with the other."

Mukuro wants to bang her head against a wall.

Toko cries out. "I kn-knew it! Sh-She is the k-killer after all!"

Once more: Mukuro wants to bang her head against a wall.

The yelling piles on top of itself, more and more voices crashing into others. If only Mukuro could convince them otherwise.

"I don't think the puppy could kill Mondo," Junko states with a proud smirk. "She didn't have the range."

"The range? Did the blackout throw off her soldier senses or something?" Hina inquires. She crosses her arms. "I don't wanna think she's the killer, but…"

"Look at it this way," The fashionista continues speaking, this time slower, as if talking with a toddler. "Muku was tucked into a corner, far away from the crowd. How did she manage to shoot Mondo?"

"It… would be impossible because I didn't know where Mondo was. That and I would've probably hit someone else with a bullet instead of Mondo," The soldier explains to the group.

Byakuya slowly lifts his eyebrow. "You're saying that you weren't close enough to the crowd?"

Mukuro sighs, nodding. "It sounds like an excuse on my part, I admit, but it's the truth,"

To make them see reason, Mukuro needs them to know that. The Gunshot Residue.

"Additionally, Kyoko and I found some residue from a gun on Mondo's forehead. The only way for this to happen is if the culprit is extremely close to the target," Mukuro cups her chin, tapping her other fingers against the podium. "As Junko put it, I 'didn't have the range'."

"And you also don't have tits,"

Mukuro deadpans. "Thank you, Junko, for that incredibly contributing statement,"

"No prob!"

"Not only does the powder from the gun rule Mukuro out of being the culprit," Kyoko speaks up, a small smirk on her lips. "Mukuro wasn't in the right direction to kill Mondo and leave something behind."

Kyoko's talking about that thing, isn't she? The Bloody Bullet In Wall.

"Right, I completely forgot about the bullet in the wall,"

Hiro scratches his head. "Bullet? I thought we already talked about the bullets you shot into the wall,"

Mukuro shakes her head. "There was one bullet found in the wall above Sayaka and Leon's performing equipment. I doubt anyone connected the dots, but the bullet inside the hole belonged to a 357 Magnum--which just so happens to be my missing one--and, direction-wise, it could have never penetrated the wall from the direction I shot,"

"Using that logic, something none of the rest of you dumbasses have," Junko jabs at the other students before turning back to the trial. "it can be established that the shot came directly behind Mondo--well, in front because he was turned around."

"It lines up. The killer is close to the victim and shoots him in the head, causing enough momentum to allow the bullet to pass through Mondo's skull," Many students cringe at Kyoko's storytelling, but the detective continues indifferently. "It goes through the back of Mondo's head and penetrates the wall directly behind him at the time. The killer would have to be in front of him by that point and when the lights turned back on."

Sayaka sighs deeply. "It's too bad we didn't pay attention to how everyone was standing…"

"So then," Mukuro folds her arms across her chest. "Am I clear from suspicion?"

"... For now," Byakuya painfully admits.

"If Mukuro didn't… k-kill Mondo, then who did?" Chihiro holds herself tightly.

Hifumi groans. "This is too hard! Quit without saving!"

Celeste wrinkles her nose at Hifumi. "Should we gamble someone's life? If so, I have a guess,"

Makoto holds his hands up. "N-No gambling our lives please!"

"Instead of focusing on the who, let's focus on the how… How did the lights turn off?" Kyoko cuts in. She knows how to wrangle a courtroom…

"The… l-lights?" Toko questions feebly. She bites her thumb.

"If you had gone somewhere else to investigate, you would know the lights turned off," Byakuya sneers at the writer.

"But doesn't Toko have homophobia?" Hina inquires. "She was stuck in the corner of the room because of it!"

Hiro nods. "Yeah, Toko is homophobic!"

Toko pales and shakes her head. "I-I'm not homophobic!"

"Huh?" Hina cocks her head to the side. "But I thought you were afraid of blood? Y'know, homophobia?"

Junko sighs. "It's hemophobia. The fear of seeing blood and all that jazz. Homophobia is being scared of me,"

"But homophobia is a fear of… homo… sexuals…" It clicks in Mukuro's head. "Wait, you're gay?!"

"This isn't the right time for this," Taka says blankly. Mukuro nearly forgot he was here because he's been so quiet. "But congratulations."

"Muku, we're both fruity,"

"I still don't know what that means…"

"How the lights turned off," Kyoko reiterates, drawing the class trial forwards.

Mukuro focuses.

"How the lights turned out… Isn't it possible someone turned the lights out?" Makoto suggests.

"Using the breaker in the office?" Hifumi cups his chin in thought.

"No, the breaker is too high up for anyone to reach," Sakura says.

"Oh, I know!" Hina raises her fists in determination. "How about… the killer caused a power surge and knocked all the power out!"

"But wouldn't tons of power be needed first?" Hiro asks while cupping his chin. "I dunno… The mics and stuff didn't look that powerful…"

"Oh…" Hina sighs dejectedly.

"I agree with that!"

Mukuro crosses her arms and looks to Hina. "I think you're on the right track, Hina,"

Hina squeals. "Aw yeah! See, Toko, I do have big brain moments!"

"Sh-Shut up you idiot s-swimmer…"

"Ignoring Toko… Whaddya mean there was a power surge?" Junko pouts her bottom lip out. Mukuro curls her lip slightly because Junko's allowing the trial to go for longer when she knows the culprit.

"I mean that, along with the performing equipment in the main hall, other appliances in the lodge contributed to create a power surge,"

"Meaning, for those who are dumb as fuck," Junko smirks. "Power goes spark. Spark goes boom. Boom causes blackout."

Sayaka sweatdrops. "Um… Thank you, Junko…"

"No prob!"

"What actually helped cause the blackout was most likely the three irons in the storage room," Mukuro states. She taps her chin in thought. Just when she's about to speak, a cry interrupts her.

"Objection, Phoenix Wright!"

Startled, Mukuro jolts from the loud scream coming from the other side of the circle. Her eyes fix onto Hifumi, who is pointing at her while pushing his glasses up.

"Keheh… I knew it would come to this, Ms. Ikusaba, but I never thought so soon!"

"Wh-What--"

Hifumi straightens his back. "In order to stop the nonsense spilling from your mouth, I must refute your theory!"

Oh, God, why can't he just hear her out?!

"Think about it… The power surge theory may be correct, but who's to say the clothing irons caused it?" Hifumi states with a grin. He grips the straps of his backpack as he continues. "The amps and microphones could have caused the blackout at any time since they use so much power, not the irons! They are too weak!"

"But, Hifumi, with the performing equipment and the clothing irons draining the power, they could all cause the blackout!"

Hifumi chuckles. "Maybe, but then why didn't the blackout happen sooner? Say around 11 PM? Aha! Just as I thought! Nothing could have caused the blackout to happen at 11:30!"

"I'll cut through your words!"

Mukuro pinches the bridge of her nose. "Actually, Hifumi, there is something that could've caused the blackout to happen at 11:30,"

That's right… the Air Conditioner Timer.

"I checked on both air conditioners in the office and main hall, and they were both set to 11:30 PM,"

"A-AIR CONDITIONERS?!"

"Correct," Mukuro nods her head. "With the overwhelming power from the amps, microphones, and irons, the air conditioners turning on would be the catalyst for the blackout."

Hifumi cups his chin thoughtfully. "Hm… Interesting… It seems wise to retreat back to my save point and level up further,"

Humming in thought, Mukuro thinks back to the three clothing irons. It's strange. Why was one of the irons turned off and not hot at all?

"You know… two of them were hot while the other was cold, but I have no idea what it could mean…"

"That one was turned off," Byakuya snarkily retorts.

Mukuro sighs. "Wow, thanks, I had no clue,"

"Damn, who knew Muku had sarcasm," Junko snickers.

"Adding to the blackout-iron theory, I believe the clothing irons were turned on long before the party," Kyoko tucks a lock of hair behind her ear, glancing at Mukuro with a raised brow.

"Now that I think about it… Our equipment didn't work for a while," Leon says while scratching the back of his neck. "That 'cause the power was at its limit since the irons were on?"

Sayaka nods, blue eyes lighting up. "That's right! The microphones and the amps wouldn't work no matter what we did,"

"Then how did you get them to work?" Kyoko asks, but by the gleam in her eye, she seems to know the answer.

"Oh! Well, Junko asked what was wrong and we told her. I think she said something about power and said she'd fix it," Sayaka points her thumb at Junko.

Leon nods. "Yeah, I remember that. She left the room then came back and Mukuro came in behind her,"

A splash of cold realization hits Mukuro's spine, sending shivers down her spine. Her jaw drops and her light purple eyes, wide with shock, shoot to meet Junko's clear blue.

"No… you didn't…" Mukuro whispers to herself. It's too bad Toko overheard her and glares.

"Wh-Who didn't do wh-what?"

Mukuro covers her mouth with her hand, leaning her elbow on the podium. "Oh, God… You didn't…"

Junko furrows her brows together. "Muku…?"

"Stop!" Mukuro straightens her spine and glares across the courtroom at her sister. "What did you do?!"

"What--Muku, what the hell are you talking about?!" Junko scoffs. Her eyes are wide, raw confusion blaring in the clear color.

Hifumi cups his chin. "So, our protagonist Ms. Ikusaba believes her sister did something in this murder case,"

"What?! I didn't do anything!" The fashionista growls out of frustration, but she shakes from being thrusted into the spotlight so suddenly. "Why the hell are y'all staring like that?!"

Sayaka hesitates, mouth opening slowly. "But… if Mukuro said you did something…"

Junko slams her hands down on the podium. "What the fuck are you talking about?! I didn't do anything!"

"Yes the hell you did! You promised you'd fix our equipment!" Leon yells, also beating his fists against his podium.

This is getting out of hand… Junko's denying everything, but Mukuro saw her rounding the corner from the storage room. She must have done something.

"Listen here you lil' shits," Junko crosses her arms and glares at the others. "I don't know what you're talking about! I never talked to Miku or Ed Sheeran!"

"Are you denying the truth? Two statements that align together, but you deny it?" Celeste twirls her hair, looking away from Junko's direction.

"I-I'm telling you--" Junko is cut off.

"Wouldn't that mean Junko was lying about a lot of things?" Makoto points out.

"I never--"

"Now that I think about it…" Hina taps her finger against her chin, cheeks puffed out. "Junko was acting really really weird when we got our motives."

Taka sighs. "You just noticed it?"

"Hmph… t-turns out, you're j-just a-as dumb as I-I thought," Toko sneers at the swimmer.

"Hey!"

"Can I fucking speak please?!" Junko yells. Her eyes are wide, genuine confusion swirling in the blueness.

Mukuro listens to Junko closely.

"Listen… I have absolutely no idea what the hell y'all are talking about!" Junko scoffs shakily. "I never talked to Leon or Sayaka during the party."

"But you did!" Sayaka defends her statement.

"Yeah! Stop lying!" Leon scowls.

"Maybe you wrote that note… and the other one, too…" Taka blankly says.

"Notes? As in the plural form?" Junko says, rolling her eyes. "Yeah, right… I never wrote you a note."

Mukuro swallows. I'm sorry, Junko…

"That statement is false!"

Junko shivers at the hard tone directed at her. She's never liked the disappointment in her big sister's voice whenever she does something wrong… but she didn't do anything.

Mukuro grits her teeth, jaw tensing sporadically. "I… I'm sorry, Junko, but…"

"But… what?"

She can't do this. This is her baby sister, and she's about to…

"You did write Taka a note," Mukuto states.

It has to be that. The Note To Taka.

"You wrote him a note threatening a murder would happen…"

Junko is petrified from fear and shock, eyes wide and irises trembling.

Chihiro speaks up. "She… did?"

"Yes, I guess she did. I got mine after the motives," Taka reaches into his pocket and retrieves his folded note. He unfolds the piece of paper and passes it to Junko. Junko snatches it quickly and reads it, eyes scanning quickly over the words. "Well?"

"Signed K?" Junko mutters.

Byakuya sighs in irritation. "For God's--Give me that," He rips the paper from Junko's hands and begins to read it aloud. "'Hiya hardass. Nice to see ya again… eff-wad. Now, I have a special announcement. Tomorrow, there will be a murder. It will be random, and you all will die on this island because of it! This is an official effing announcement. Tell anyone and I'll effing shank you like prison. Without the damn kinky ass cuffs, however… Bye. K'."

Junko shakes her head. "No… No, I never wrote that…"

Mukuro shakes her head and speaks over her distressed sister's voice. "Since you wrote that note, it becomes clear you also wrote the other note,"

Yes… the Note To Makoto/Taka.

"You taped this note on the door to the lodge for Makoto and Taka to find. You told them that the supermarket had some performance equipment Sayaka and Leon could use," She takes in a shuddering breath.

Makoto furrows his brows together and pulls out his note. "'Hiya. I couldn't tell you in person, but I thought I'd give you some good… news.I found a few amps and microphones in the back of the Rocketpunch Market, so Sayaka and Leon could perform some kinky stripper songs for the party! You should go and get them! Love, K',"

"There was one more note Junko wrote…"

The Note To Kyoko

"To Kyoko, you wrote that a very special something would happen tonight. And a murder happened tonight…" Mukuro looks deep into her sister's eyes. "I think you can connect the dots."

"The three notes Junko wrote… An unexpected turn of events, but a rather exciting one to discover," Celeste smirks.

Junko shakes her head again, her vision becoming dizzy. "N-No, I only wrote one note! It was to Kyoko!"

Kyoko hums. "Why did you write me a note?"

"I-I… I was going to ask you out…" She mumbles.

Hiro scratches his head. "Uh… what'd you say, Ko-Ko?"

"That is an abomination of a nickname and I refuse to hear it again,"

"What did you say?" Kyoko rests her chin in her hand.

Junko cringes, cheeks flushed red from embarrassment. "I was gonna ask you out! It was gonna have candles and romantic shit! Please don't make me say it again!" She buries her face in her hands.

"But then… Why kill Mondo?" Hina folds her arms tightly across her chest. "Did you get embarrassed 'cause you knew Kyoko would say no, and killed Mondo outta jealousy?"

Ouch…

"What the fuck kinda--Just 'cause my motive says Mondo and Kyoko are happily in love doesn't mean I believe it!" Junko snaps before reeling back. "Yeah, OK, that makes this sound bad…"

"You can't say your motive out loud!" Monokuma unsheathes his tiny claws.

"Oh, fuck off! It wasn't even on purpose!"

"Junko planned this whole thing from the beginning… So, is she the murderer?" Hiro questions with his hands on his hips.

Junko pales. "No!"

"J-Junko is the culprit?" Chihiro shakes in her place, turning green as if she's going to throw up.

"Oh, my! What an unexpected turn of events! Turning from one sister as the blackened to another!" Monokuma speaks suddenly.

"Junko…" Mukuro chokes out, tears filling her eyes. "Look at me, please."

Junko looks panicked at Mukuro, shoulders shaking. The blood splattered on her face makes her seem guilty and more scared. It hurts Mukuro's heart to see.

"All of the notes…" She roughly wipes her eyes with her forearm. "I know you wrote them--"

"Your analysis is wrong!"

Junko is shaking, face growing red while her eyes swell with tears. "Don't… D-Don't you dare say I'm the blackened because of these damn notes…"

"Junko…" Mukuro bites her lip.

"No! You're wrong!" The fashionista grips her podium tightly, eyes narrowing dangerously. "You're… You're all trying to find the easiest solution to a complicated problem!"

Mukuro whimpers at the fierce scream directed at her. Junko has never been this angry in a long time, silenced by humor and snarky comments. Now the soldier has to convince her sister she did write the notes…

"I can't believe you're just… just believing the others about this! These notes are something I can't even properly analyze 'cause I'm terrified! Don't you know me? Don't you love me?!" Junko growls angrily. Her brows pinch together. "You're my best friend! We're supposed to survive together!"

"I-I know, but I can't ignore the facts of the case… of the notes," Mukuro shoots back, throat becoming thick from holding back her tears.

"Oh, puh-lease! I wrote one note in total!" Junko crosses her arms across her chest. "And that was to Kyoko Kirigiri, the Ultimate Detective! Unless you have proof otherwise, I only wrote that one note!"

"I'll cut through your words!"

Mukuro sniffles, head bowed. "... I do…"

It… has to be the List Of Names In Print.

"'I do'… You do, what? You aren't getting married or some shit, so say what the hell you have!" Junko yells furiously.

"I have proof…" Mukuro rasps. "K-Kyoko had everyone write their names on a piece of paper."

Junko grits her teeth. "You aren't saying that…"

"Your handwriting… was the only one that matched the penmanship of all three notes,"

Sayaka curses under her breath. "So she really…"

"D-Dammit," Leon looks away.

"By that logic…" Mukuro chokes slightly. No, she can't break down right now. Not while the students are looking at her for answers for their questions. "You had a chance to set up for the blackout and take a gun in advance…"

Toko nods her head, biting her thumb anxiously. "Sh-She did it? The f-fashionista?"

"Care to elaborate on how she had enough time to prepare for her murder attempt?" Sakura asks, eyes closing. A vein in her forehead bulges out slightly.

It's according to Makoto's Account

"Makoto said that after he and Taka received their note, they went to the supermarket to get the… supplies for Sayaka and Leon to perform," Mukuro closes her eyes, tilting her head back. "There was a thirty minute interval where nobody was at the lodge."

Junko scoffs gruffly. "And you think I did it? No, I wasn't even there for some of the party! Not to mention I, like, never went to the lodge at all,"

"Damn it, Junko, be honest with me!" Mukuro snaps.

Sayaka bites her lip. "Mukuro…"

"Maybe she's telling the truth…" Makoto furrows his brows together, eyes closed. "That's it! What if it wasn't Junko who went to the lodge?"

What? It doesn't make sense, Junko has to be the one who went to the lodge to set up. Mukuro shakes her head feverishly.

The soldier looks to her sister, begging. "Please, I… I need you not to be the blackened… I don't want you to… to…"

"Mukuro… I'm not--I didn't kill Mondo," Junko watches as her sister collapses in on herself, arms shielding her head from any words.

"Mukuro, look at me!" Mukuro lifts her head to see Makoto's desperate eyes. "I don't think Junko went to the lodge or wrote the two notes."

"It was established that Junko's handwriting was on all three notes," Celeste twirls her hair and glares at the lucky student. "She would be the only one to know you two would go to the supermarket."

"No, listen. It wasn't Junko,"

It… wasn't Junko? Then who else could it be? Dazed, Mukuro buries her face in her arms on the podium and closes her eyes.

What do all three notes have in common? They have Junko's penmanship.

What does Makoto keep saying? Junko didn't go to the lodge.

What condition does Junko have? Dissociative Identity Disorder.

"I got it!"

Mukuro lifts herself back up, eyes wide as the new idea thrusts itself into her head. Of course!

"Makoto, I think you're right!" Mukuro runs a hand through her hair, an odd smile on her face.

Byakuya tuts. "Come again?"

"Someone else went to the lodge during those thirty minutes," Light purple eyes turn to a shaking Junko. "Junko, I need you to trust me."

Junko bites her lip, eyes analyzing Mukuro's intentions. "... He did this… Why didn't I see that?"

Hina scratches her head. "Huh? I don't get it,"

Kyoko's eyes widen. "Of course…"

"W-Wait… you a-aren't saying th-that…" Toko grips her braids in her shaking fists, staring at Junko incredulously.

"I have DID, short answer. I'll tell y'all later, or not, but for now," Junko cuts herself off, closing her eyes.

The remaining students wait in silence, some twitching from anxiety.

When Junko opens her eyes, she isn't even Junko anymore.

"What the hell--Where the hell are we?!"

There he is.

Kyo spins around wildly, eyes wide. Then he whips back around to stare at Mukuro. "Ew… Of fucking course when I switch with J-Dog, one of the first faces I see is your stupid ass one…"

Mukuro grunts.

Hifumi squeals. "SHE'S CHANGED?!"

Kyo scoffs, grinning around his long tongue. "Wanna answer as to why the fuck I was summond here? Damn cock suckers pulling me outta my fucking hidey hole…"

"Kyo, I have a question--"

"And I may have an answer, detective! Gah-hahaha!" The rocker crosses his arms over his chest in an "X" and extends his pinky and index fingers. "Whatcha wanna know?!"

Chihiro whimpers. "D-Did you go into the lodge?"

Kyo turns his attention to the small girl with a furrowed brow. Then he starts to laugh, laughing so hard that he nearly falls over.

"You find this hilarious?!" Sakura growls.

"Abso-fucking-lutely ya damn steroid guzzler! Yeah, I went to the lodge," Kyo lowers his arms, and he places a hand on his hip. "Big deal! All I did was what I promised I'd do!"

"A promise…" Sayaka grips tightly at the pink bow on her chest. "Did you promise to hurt someone? Kill someone?"

Kyo waves his hand. "Eh, whatever, the deets aren't important…"

"If we vote for… Kyo, right?" Leon hesitates at the psychotic cackling from Kyo. "Then Junko would also bite the dust, too, right?"

Kyo straightens up, a gleam in his eyes. "Wait, wait, wait, you think I murdered some poor sucker? You wish! All I did was turn on some irons and stay for a little bit of that lame ass party!"

Taka flinches.

"Then when Shy-aka and Pee-on wanted to play their shitty ass music, I said fuck it and turned an iron off. Went back to the party when I was done," Kyo shrugs. "Got no idea what happened after that. Junko took back over. Sucks for me 'cause I had to look and act like J-Dog."

"You didn't take the gun?" Hiro flinches when Kyo whips his finger toward him.

"I had no fucking idea there was a gun! Other than Puke-uro's stupid ass glock,"

"I-It's actually an M9--"

"And do I give a fat shit about it?! Nope!" He cackles wildly. "God, I wish I had Junko's analyst ability to know exactly what happened. Too bad for me, I guess…"

Hifumi deflates. "You don't share Ultimates?"

"Nope!"

"At least we obtained some valuable information from Kyo," Kyoko cups her chin thoughtfully.

Mukuro swallows thickly. This knocks both Kyo and Junko from the chopping block… If Junko wasn't there for some of the party and Kyo had no idea about the guns, they both most likely didn't steal a gun. Apart from the thirty minute interval where nobody one was at the lodge, there was what Makoto also said about…

Wait… then that means it was that person

"Shit!" Mukuro suddenly curses, drawing the attention to her podium.

"Mukuro?" Sayaka's eyes turn worried, hands grabbing at her pink bow. "What's wrong? Did something happen?"

Kyo perks up. "Oh, oh, oh! I know that look! That's your stupid fucking 'I know the answer' look! Gah-hahaha! You look dumb as fuck!" He claps his hands together. "Tell us! I know you figured out the fucking culprit!"

"You did?!"

"T-Tell us, dude!"

"Mukuro?!"

Mukuro clenches her jaw. Of course Kyo would put all of the spotlight onto her and force her to solve the problem.

But… She thought the culprit was someone else. Reviewing all of the evidence in her head, it becomes clear.

Mukuro sucks in a sharp breath, light purple eyes moving to one person in particular. "Taka, can I ask you something?"

Taka looks up from staring down at his podium. Kyoko seems oddly proud.

"Did… you kill Mondo?"

The silence that follows is deafening, loud in everyone's ears.

"Is that why you were behaving like that during the investigation? Why you've been so silent throughout this whole trial? Because…" She clenches her hands together. "Because you were the one who killed Mondo?"

Taka sets his jaw, his dull red eyes having a fire in them. "No. N-No…"

"Taka--"

Hina explodes. "Mukuro! Out of everyone here, you chose to pick on Taka?! He's been torn up over Mondo's… d-death…"

Mukuro flinches.

"I don't believe it either… Taka wouldn't do something like this…" Chihiro defends the moral compass.

"N-Not that I'm agreeing with them or anything, b-but… really? Taka?" Leon glances away and scratches the back of his head.

"Logically, it makes sense," Kyoko nods in agreement.

Kyo claps his hands. "Oooh! Drama! Count me on the train to Taka-is-fucking-guilty-land!"

Sayaka closes her eyes in thought before nodding and opening her eyes. "I believe in Mukuro and her reasoning,"

"Is… now the time to vote?'" Hifumi asks while pushing his glasses up.

Monokuma, who's been peaceful (strangely enough) and silent, speaks up. "Huh? No, no, no! You can't vote until everyone's reached an agreement!"

The students collectively groan.

"N-No, I'm sorry…" Taka shakes his head.

"Seeing as he isn't talking, let us continue with our discussion," Sakura says, taking the heat off of Taka.

Right. The discussion. Mukuro focuses.

"Dude, Taka is, like, the least likely person to be the killer!" Hiro argues as he crosses his arms.

"Why the fuck is that, dumbass?!" Kyo snaps. "'Cause he's the moral compass?"

"No, 'cause Taka was with Makoto all day!" The clairvoyant points out. "They were cleaning up the lodge for our wicked party!"

"While I-I hate to agree w-with h-him of all people," Toko hugs her body and bites the skin of her bottom lip. "the idiot h-has a point."

"No, I-I'm so sorry," Taka says blankly.

"That is true," Hifumi grins. "Since Mr. Naegi is an alibi, Mr. Ishimaru can't be the killer!"

"That statement is false!"

Hiro turns to Mukuro only to find her already looking at him apologetically. "Kuro?"

"Taka… wasn't with Makoto all day," Mukuro admits. "Makoto told me he went ahead to the supermarket and met with Taka ten minutes later."

"Ten minutes… Surely it would be the right amount of time to obtain the missing gun from the storage room," Celeste folds her hands under her chin and smiles. "While also leaving time to meet with Makoto at the market."

"But Taka didn't know where the guns were being stored until just now when we talked about it," Chihiro shakes her head in denial. Her body trembles. "I can't believe Taka would do this… I just can't ."

"There is something I would like to bring up in the discussion," Kyoko folds her arms across her chest. "There is something strange about Taka's attire that the rest of you who were near the victim don't have."

"No, please, I'm so sorry,"

Something strange about Taka's attire? Mukuro closes her eyes to think.

What is different about Taka's attire? B-L-O-O-D S-P-L-A-T-T-E-R-S

"I can prove it with this!"

Mukuro glances around at everyone who was inside of the circle at the party. All of them have blood splattered on their faces, in their hair, and some on their chests.

But Taka… he only has blood on the forearm of his right hand and nowhere else. Not even his face.

"You're right, Kyoko… That's why you didn't want anyone to wash the blood off of their body," Mukuro grips her podium tightly. "Because then nobody would tell that Taka's blood splatters are different from everyone else's."

Hina cocks her head to the side. "Oh, yeah, I-I guess that's true…"

Hiro shakes his head. "He could have just, I dunno, blocked his face with his arm when the lights went out! Fear does crazy stuff," He chuckles nervously but by the way his eyes dim, he's having a hard time defending someone who's becoming more and more suspicious. More and more guilty.

"It does make me wonder, though," Byakuya says with a finger to his temple. "Why did he target Mondo of all people? Wasn't the biker getting rid of all weapons to prevent someone from killing another person?"

"He has a point," Sakura states.

Why did Taka shoot Mondo? Really, it doesn't make any sense. Mondo was turning around and trying to stop violence from happening only to be killed.

Kyo hums obnoxiously loud. "Maaaybe… Twas a fucking accident?"

An accident…

"I doubt it," Leon runs his fingers through his orange hair.

"No, wait. If I'm right about this, then..." Mukuro clicks her tongue against the roof of her mouth. "I think Taka was targeting someone else."

Makoto frowns. "And Mondo was the victim… by accident?"

"How th-the hell can y-you become a v-victim by a-accident?" Toko grumbles at the soldier. "Hmph… th-the biker's head must've b-been too big t-to miss."

"Damn, girl, you are fucking brutal! Gah-hahaha!"

"D-Don't talk to m-me so c-casually!"

Chihiro taps her finger to her chin. "But… who would be the target?"

Who would be the target, indeed. Mukuro closes her eyes to think.

Why would Taka try to kill someone? Because of the motive.

Who did Taka try to kill because of the motive? Junko.

How did Taka know where to shoot? The glow in the dark bracelets.

"I got it!"

"Taka was targeting Junko," Mukuro says breathily, knees weak at the realization.

Sayaka sucks in a sharp breath. "What?"

"Taka knew where he was shooting because of the bracelets… They glow in the dark…"

Makoto follows along with a nod. "That also explains why Junko's body has the most amount of blood. Because she was in the direction of the exit hole,"

Hifumi sweats. "E-Exit… hole?"

"Gross," Leon shakes his head.

"It also means Junko was standing right in front of Mondo, behind him when he died," Mukuro states.

Taka shakes his head. "No, I'm s-sorry…"

Chihiro meekly shakes her head. "Taka couldn't have done it!"

Byakuya sneers. "Stop denying the truth,"

Sayaka hums, finger on her chin. "But if Taka was trying to kill Junko, why?"

"And couldn't the brute fight back?" Kyo plays with his strangely long tongue.

Another discussion is happening again, so Mukuro focuses.

"Taka must've gotten something bad about Junko enough to try and kill her," Leon points out.

"The only thing bad about Junko that I've seen was Mondo's motive," Makoto says.

"His motive envelope?" Hina says almost question-like. "Wasn't it by his body?"

"Hell fuckin' yeah!" Kyo deflates at the looks he got. "I-I guess since I wasn't there…"

"If Taka didn't have a motive, then he isn't the culprit!" Hiro yells as he crosses his arms.

"Wow, you're really on the Taka-is-fucking-innocent-train, huh, Hiro?" Kyo cackles. "Why don't you give him a big ol' wet one right on the fucking mouth! Make his day, c'mon!"

"I h-hate all of y-you," Toko sighs.

"The motive envelope on the ground might not be the biker's," Byakuya states.

"If only we had someone who could tell us what happened during the blackout…" Sakura furrows her brows and tightens her arms over her chest.

"Is there even someone who can?" Hifumi gasps, hands on his cheeks. "Because they'd be super OP!"

"I agree with that!"

"Sakura, you're absolutely correct,"

"I am?" Sakura seems surprised. "Is there someone who knows what happened during the blackout?"

Mukuro turns her attention to Sayaka, who is in deep thought. "Sayaka, I need your help,"

Sayaka turns her gaze to Mukuro, giving the soldier her full attention. "Yeah?"

"Can you tell everyone what you heard during the blackout?"

"Of course! Anything for my favorite soldier," Sayaka winks at the black haired girl, drawing a fierce blush from her. "It went like this…"

Bang! Bang! Bang!

"Wh-What the hell was that?!" Leon shouts.

"Hey! Whoever turned the lights off, turn them back on! This isn't a funny joke!" Taka joins in on the yelling.

The sound of glass hitting the floor joins in with the chaos.

A clatter of something heavy followed by a thud hits the floor.

"I can't see! Turn the lights on!" Hifumi whines.

"I'm sure it is only a blackout, as ridiculous as it sounds," Celeste scoffs.

"B-But, Ms. Ludenberg!" Hifumi exclaims.

"Quiet!" Celeste hisses.

Rip!

"What the hell is--?!" Mondo gasps.

Bang!

Another thud of something hitting the floor.

"Another one?!" Makoto cries out.

"Ew! What in the actual hell just came on my face?! Don't take that out of context, you pervs!" Junko yells.

Kyo cackles. "So Junko can give some good jokes! Hilarious! 'What came on my face?!' Keheh! Gah-hahaha!"

Makoto cringes. "I-I don't think that was the point of the story…"

"Who fucking cares, it was funny!"

"Anyway," Mukuro interrupts. "Sayaka says she heard a rip. Like a tear in clothing, right?"

"Th-That's what the d-dumb idol s-said!" Toko hisses at Mukuro's question. Mukuro sweatdrops. "What, you c-can't hear or s-something?"

"There's evidence supporting that the motive Mondo has… had wasn't his," The gears in her mind keep turning and turning. "The tearing Sayaka described proves it."

"How, exactly?" Leon crosses his arms and stares at Mukuro.

It has to be that. The Torn Pocket.

"Mondo's jacket has a tear on it. Specifically, it's where he kept his motive envelope in the first place," It may not be true, but it seems like the most logical choice. "If we follow that path, then Taka must have Mondo's motive while Mondo's body has Taka's."

Kyo clears his throat awkwardly. "Uh, not to be totally fucking useful right now, but Taka doesn't have Mondo's motive,"

Mukuro pinches the bridge of her nose. "Seriously?"

"Uh huh. Poo-kuro, check your pocket," Kyo smiles giddily. "Junko gave you a present to look at and wrote all about it in our notebook! Guess you didn't see it after all…"

Mukuro shoves her hand into her pocket and takes out her motive. She opens it and reads the… statements…

Mukuro is an abusive sister to Junko? Celeste is both German and French? Kyoko has… burger hand burns? This isn't her motive.

"Alright… OK, Taka has my motive, then, since it's Junko and the obvious envelope Taka could have," Mukuro sighs. "Since all of this is cleared up--"

"You can't do this!"

Mukuro flinches. Her eyes lock onto Chihiro’s small, shaking form. She has tears in her hazel eyes, mouth set in a frown.

"N-No, Taka isn't the k-killer!" Mukuro stays silent from shock. "We need to talk about it again! I know he isn't the killer, pl-please!"

She's trying to defend Taka when he isn't defending himself. Denial is set heavy in her heart, and Chihiro’s going to fight Mukuro until Taka is innocent again.

"L-Listen, Taka can't be the killer!"

"You're trying to pin the blame on someone else!"

"Kyo should be the killer! Taka is innocent!"

"No!"

"Pl-Please, it wasn't… him!"

"He didn't know where the guns were!"

"Stop it! Stop it!"

"You can't d-do this!"

"If there isn't any other piece of evidence, th-then I refuse to think T-Taka is the killer!"

"You're done for!"

The Missing Gold Button

Chihiro falls to her knees with a cry, sobbing with her head against the wooden rods of her podium. Mukuro's heart breaks at the vulnerability, the innocence Chihiro used to have regarding death.

The room stays silent except for the loud crying coming from Chihiro.

"The gold button," Mukuro mutters just loud enough to be heard. "Mondo had a golden button in his hand when we searched his body for evidence."

Kyoko looks at the broken Taka across from her. "And the only person here who has golden buttons and is missing a button is Taka,"

Mukuro glances at the moral compass and sees, yes, Taka is missing a button. The top button that fastens around his neck is missing. How did she not notice it when talking to him earlier?

Chihiro still shakes her head. "N-No, please…"

"Chihiro… I-I'll go over the case from the start, and if you still have your doubts…" Mukuro trails off. Chihiro nods her head in approval.

"This is what happened!"

"Let us start from right before the party. Makoto and the culprit decided to clean the lodge together after the blackened received a note threatening that a murder would happen tonight. As the two were cleaning, someone taped up a note telling them to go to the Rocketpunch Market for some performance equipment so Sayaka and Leon could perform. Angry, the culprit told Makoto to go ahead to the supermarket while they could continue to 'prepare' for the party. In reality, the culprit went to the storage room in search of a weapon and took it. They left the lodge and met with Makoto again in ten minutes.

"During the thirty minutes Makoto and the culprit were away, Junko's alter, Kyo, snuck into the lodge. He decided to push for a murder, for God knows why. He set the air conditioner timers to 11:30 PM and turned the three irons on in the storage room. After he finished, Kyo left the lodge.

"The case progressed to the party, where we had to sign in with Kyoko using our names in print. Everyone except for Byakuya, Toko, and Kyoko was at the party. Kyo, after leaving to turn off one of the irons so Leon and Sayaka could perform, went back to the main hall and passed by me. After that, he switched back to Junko.

"Sometime during the party, Sakura left to get some more snacks so everyone could eat. During this time, Sayaka and Leon were about to perform. Aside from Celeste, Hifumi, and myself, the others joined in a crowd in the middle of the floor, the victim included. Just as the duo were about to perform, the lights went out.

"It was during this blackout that I shot three bullets into a wall. The culprit was quick at work, too, grabbing Mondo and holding a gun to his forehead. In response, Mondo grabbed the culprit's shirt and tore a button off of them. In the process of the kill, the culprit and Mondo swapped motives, explaining the torn pocket where Mondo's motive sat. The culprit's motive landed beside Mondo's body, and they tucked Mondo's motive--which is actually mine--into their pocket.

"The culprit believed they killed Junko, who was their real target, but that couldn't be further from the truth. When the lights came back on, the culprit saw their kill and realized they messed up. Instead of grabbing Junko, they grabbed Mondo and killed him.

"And the culprit of this case… is you! Kiyotaka Ishimaru, the Ultimate Moral Compass!"

Mukuro breathes heavily, arm extended and finger pointing at the strict male. Embarrassed, she swiftly lowers her arm.

"Well? Are there any questions?" She asks.

Chihiro shakes her head and cries.

Sayaka whistles, low. "Damn…"

Monokuma giggles. "Puhuhu! It seems you bastards reached your conclusion! Grr, you all were arguing so much that the author forgot to include my random bits of banter with Monomi!"

"As if I would banter with a… d-dumb bear like you!" Monomi wriggles in her binds.

"Anywho! Please use the switches in front of you to vote, you bastards. Ah, and let me warn you just in case... You have to vote! No exceptions!" Monokuma smirks viciously, red eye gleaming. "And if you don't, I'll gobble you all up!"

"Wh-What--" Monomi whimpers but is cut off.

"Who will be chosen as the blackened?! Will you make the right choice or the dreadfully wrong one?!" The monochromatic bear throws one of his paws in the air. "Upupupupu! Isn’t this super exciting?!"

The students enter their votes for the blackened, some quickly and others hesitant to do so.

Monokuma hops out of his seat. "Now… You bastards are absolutely right!"

Mukuro sucks in a sharp breath.

"That's right! The blackened who kicked off this mutual killing by killing Mondo Oowada is none other than Kiyotaka Ishimaru!"

Taka stays silent.

Hiro presses his hand to his head, eyes shut tightly. "T-Taka--"

"So the Ultimate Moral Compass ultimately lost his morals," Byakuya shamelessly smirks at the outcome of the trial.

"It would appear so," Celeste agrees.

"T-Taka, you really did it? You… killed Mondo?" Makoto blanches, holding a hand over his heart. "Why…? Why did you do it?"

"I-I'm sorry--"

"Sorry isn't gonna give Mondo back!" Leon spits heartlessly at Taka.

"You… You got it all right," Taka says. "I was… trying to kill Junko…"

Mukuro's eyes darken. "Why?"

A fire long dormant in Taka's eyes ignites. He turns to Mukuro with a furrowed brow. "Think about it! Think back to the first day! What Junko said…"

"What exactly did Junko say to make you so suspicious of her that you'd kill her?" Kyoko asks.

Taka grips at his head, tears leaking from his eyes. "She said something about the killing game! We weren't supposed to know about that until Monokuma showed up!"

"Oh, juicy gossip! Junko, what did you do this time?!" Monokuma smacks Kyo's legs.

Kyo scowls. "Fuck off ya Boog wannabe!"

"That is true. She said something about Monomi bringing us to the island to kill each other," Sakura backs up Taka's statement.

"A-And then… then she seemed to align herself with Monokuma when we got our motives. I saw her exiting the lodge earlier by herself and when I looked around, I saw weapons… It all seemed too suspicious!" Taka looks around at all of his classmates' faces. "You have to believe me! Junko knows something!"

Hifumi shouts triumphantly. "Ms. Enoshima knows everything! The motive told me so!"

Monokuma throws up his arms. "Hey, now, you can't go and read your motive out loud!"

Byakuya rolls his eyes. "Since it's the class trial, the motives were bound to come up. Next time, add a rule stating no sharing during the trials,"

The monochromatic bear growls but says nothing else.

"Junko has two talents. Is that what you're talking about, Hifumi?" Mukuro sighs. Hifumi nods while Monokuma mutters something about keeping secret motives. "Yes, it is true. Apart from the Ultimate Fashionista title, Junko could have been the Ultimate Analyst. Smartest person on Earth."

Kyoko hums. "Interesting…"

"And… you thought she was working for Monokuma," Mukuro glares at the moral compass, instantly losing her respect for him.

Kyo rolls his eyes. "Dumbass…"

Hina rounds on him, shouting angrily. "Why did you stage a blackout?! And write those notes?!"

Kyo glares at Hina. "I made a promise to protect Junko at any cost. J-Dog wrote in our journal that the hardass was suspicious of her and looked too… trigger happy. Either way, the hardass was gonna kill Junko, thinking she was the mastermind or something. For me, it's letting another person be hurt instead of Junko," Kyo crosses his arms. "I wrote the note 'cause I had to, not 'cause I wanted to. Had to seem pretty fucking insane in the letters enough to make the hardass paranoid. Had to let him take the fall for a murder that wasn't J-Dog's."

He holds up his wrists to reveal his bracelets. "I told her to wear these 'cause I like 'em, and I do, so I'll keep wearing 'em. In all honesty, any one'a you bitches could've been killed tonight depending on where Junko stood. Thank God she chose in front of someone, huh?"

Mukuro clenches her jaw. "Kyo, you got someone killed--"

Kyo sighs. "To fucking protect someone--Your fucking sister! Even if she lived, you would've been shitting your pants at the thought of 'Oh, baby J could've died and Kyo did nothing to stop it!' Fuck you, Mukuro!"

Mukuro throws up her hands.

"This means I killed for nothing… Who I thought was the mastermind or at least working for them…" Taka shakes his head, tears dripping down his chin and hitting the floor.

"This is awful! If only Junko hadn't left Jabberwock Park early, I could've told you all the news!" Monokuma sighs and looks down, depressed.

"Wh-What news you s-stupid bear?" Toko grumbles.

"That there is a traitor among you all!"

Mukuro's body froze. A… traitor?

Taka gasps. "I was right?"

"You sure were! Too bad you gotta be punished now before you could've found out who it is,"

"Wha…?" Taka breathlessly says.

Monokuma holds his paws to his mouth. "Don't tell me you forgot?! This was the deal from the beginning! If the blackened loses the trial… a fun punishment awaits them!"

Taka shakes his head, one of his hands reaching behind him. "N-No! I was trying to protect everyone!"

"From Junko? She's harmless! Smart, but harmless! Kyo's the one you gotta look out for!" The bear laughs maniacally. "But it ain't Kyo or Jun or Chieko or even Junko's body getting punished! It's… you!"

Sayaka pales. "Taka…"

"My, what a boring motive. Wanting to protect your friends? Boooring! You just met these bastards!"

Mukuro bangs her fist on the podium. "Shit…"

"I see no value in prolonging this pain any longer, so let's get started with the punishment!"

Monomi comes free from the rope suspending her from the ground. She waddles to Monokuma. "Y-You can't!"

Monokuma sends a right hook Monomi's way, chucking her across the room. "Don't get in the way!"

"Gyaaah!"

"Ah, now that I've dealt with my annoying little sister let's get back to business…" Monokuma points to Taka, a sinister aura radiating in the trial grounds.

Taka pulls from behind his back Mukuro's missing 357 Magnum and points it at Kyo. "You're a traitor! You're… body has to be the traitor!"

Kyo hardens his gaze.

"No murder during punishment!" Monokuma speeds up his next sentences. "IpreparedaspecialpunishmentforourUltimateMoralCompass,KiyotakaIshimaru!"

"If I'm going down, you're going with me, traitor!" Taka screams, madness swirling in his red eyes.

"It'spunishmenttime!"

Taka's finger squeezes on the trigger, but it's too late. A chain locks around his wrists and pulls him back through the dark hallway behind him. The gun clatters to the ground, no bullets shot from it.

Corporal Punishment

Inside of a deserted classroom sits Kiyotaka Ishimaru at a desk. The door slides open to reveal a Monokuma teacher holding a long ruler with barbed wire wrapped around it.

The Mono-Teacher shouts something, and Taka's desk shoots up and hits the ceiling. A thick pole comes from a hole in the floor which moved the desk.

Taka, who has handcuffs around his wrists, slides down the thick pole and stands with his back toward the Mono-Teacher, facing the pole. He shakes as he hears the ruler swing up against the stake air.

Thwap!

Taka screams as the barbed wire ruler strikes his back, coming away with white cloth and chunks of flesh.

The Mono-Teacher keeps swinging and pulling roughly, circling around the boy and hitting various places to rip away skin. His legs, arms, even the back of his head.

All the while, Taka is screaming and crying, feeling his flesh being stripped from his body.

Blood drips onto the floor, the sounds coming from Taka dying down.

The Mono-Teacher drops the ruler and sticks a gold sticker saying "You did a good job!" onto Taka's bloody cheek. The bear leaves the room and the body of Taka along with it, chunks of flesh and clothes strewn around the room.

Execution End!

Mukuro's stomach churns at the gore on the screens above the students. Even she's never seen anything like that before…

A few people are throwing up, most are crying. Even the more stoic and level-headed students are grimacing at the level of detail put into this punishment.

"Woo-hoo!" Monokuma cheers. "Extreme!"

Monomi cries. "Kyaaah!"

"Woah, adrenaline rush!"

"Taka!" Hiro grips at his hair, hysterical.

Mukuro cups her hand over her mouth to keep whatever is in her stomach down. "Why would you show us that…"

Monokuma shrugs. "Didn't you kids do something like this in school? Whoever was being bad got punished! It's the same for Taka!"

"That… is not the same," Kyo rubs his eyes, coming away with tear tracks down his cheeks. "That's torture."

Chihiro is crying. "Too cruel… it was too cruel…"

"Well, we do have our rules here, so I don't have a choice," Monokuma throws his hand behind his head. "I'm trying to run an orderly Killing School Trip here!

"If you'll excuse me, I have some important stuff to do! If you have any questions about the traitor, ask Monomi! She knows all about them! I don't even know their name!"

With that, Monokuma disappears from sight and leaves the students with Monomi.

Monomi shivers when fourteen eyes settle on her small body. "I… Please excuse me! I have some… important business to take care of!"

Monomi also vanishes before the students' eyes.

Mukuro kicks at her podium in frustration. "Son of a bitch!"

"Hmph. Are you all finally realizing the game ahead of us?" Byakuya grins with closed eyes. "I warned you the killings can be random, but you chose to ignore my warning. It's all of your fault that both the biker and his killer are dead."

Toko squeals. "It's n-not my fault, r-right?"

"Toko!" Hina's jaw drops.

"I w-wasn't at your s-stupid party, so I-I'm not to blame and n-neither is M-Master B-Byakuya!"

Byakuya rolls his eyes. "You're pathetic, Toko,"

Toko moans.

Mukuro has heard enough. Enough of this snobby rich kid laughing at their misery. Enough of his stupid face.

"All of you are pathetic,"

"Shut the hell up," Mukuro glares at the heir with hatred in her eyes. "Before I kill you myself."

"Another contender in the killing game? Try it now," He holds his arms out and steps off of his podium. "Go on then, soldier. Kill me."

Mukuro growls and removes herself from her podium, walking towards Byakuya when…

"Mukuro, get a hold of yourself!" Sayaka grasps at her arm, pulling her back. Mukuro looks at the idol. "He's just taunting you, and you don't need to stoop to his level."

The soldier falters.

"For us?" She slides her hand down to clasp her fingers with Mukuro's. "For me?"

Mukuro tenses her jaw, not thinking about Byakuya anymore and how much she wants to hurt him. She nods. Her tense shoulders relax and droop.

Byakuya tuts. "Pathetic. You really are a guard dog, Mukuro,"

Sayaka bristles at the heir. "You can shut your mouth!"

"Besides, fighting won't do us any good," Kyoko says. She sighs and opens her eyes. "We need to head up the elevator and get some sleep. We can all talk about this in the morning. Everything we learned tonight."

Leon runs his hand through his hair. "Yeah… Some sleep would do good…"

"After the night we've been through, we will need the rest," Sakura sighs. She walks around and lifts Chihiro’s form from the floor, cried out and exhausted. "I'll take her to her cabin."

"You don't need to…" Chihiro protests weakly from on top of Sakura's large shoulder.

Sayaka squeezes Mukuro's hand. "We can walk together, right?"

Mukuro's heart squeezes tightly in her chest, face warm. "Th-That would be nice…"


Long after the trial has ended, Mukuro is outside with Sayaka by the pool. They're sitting with their feet and legs exposed and in the cool water. The liquid ripples and gently splashes against their legs.

"Do you think… No, never mind," Sayaka sighs heavily.

Mukuro turns her head to look at Sayaka, seeing her side profile staring up at the night sky filled with stars. "What is it?"

Sayaka swivels her head to face the soldier. "If we never came to this island, would we all be good friends?"

It takes Mukuro a second to answer because she doesn't know. The future is uncertain, and it can change at any moment in time.

"I would believe so. We all pretty much got along before Monokuma showed us those motives," She taps her fingers against her thighs as she turns to watch her feet sway in the water. "What do you think?"

"I agree… We would've been the best of friends. Even Byakuya and Toko, as weird as it may be," Sayaka laughs lightly. She bites her lip.

At the sudden pause, Mukuro glances up. "Sayaka?"

"Do you ever get the feeling someone's watching you?"

"All the time. Paranoia isn't fun,"

"Right… soldier things,"

"You can tell me anything, you know that?" Mukuro hesitates but places her hand on top of Sayaka’s.

The idol smiles softly, eyes bright against the night sky. "I'll… tell you another time," Playfully, she glares at the soldier. "Don't stay out here too late."

"I won't," Mukuro chuckles.

"I mean it," Sayaka says as she stands and retrieves her stockings and shoes. "If I come out here in the morning and you're still here, I'll drag you around all day tomorrow."

"Yikes…"

Sayaka kneels beside Mukuro once more. Her face lightly tints pink. She leans in and kisses the soldier on the cheek.

"Goodnight, Mukuro," Sayaka whispers. She stands and makes her way to the cottages, allowing Mukuro to watch her leave.

Mukuro smiles before looking up into the night sky, a heavy blush on her cheeks.

Elsewhere, a clock ticks down.

Chapter Text

"You know he isn't going to wake up, right?" Ylirmt leans against the doorway with his shoulder, arms crossed.

In a dim room sits Nvwrfn next to a bed, watching Slkv in it breath with the help of a machine. The girl sighs and glances back at the male.

"I… know that, but… I want to have hope that he will wake up,"

Ylirmt sighs and pushes himself off of the doorframe, strolling into the room slowly. His eyes watch Nvwrfn closely. "I know you have hope for him, but…" He runs his fingers through his hair. "Mfihv said it's probably time to let him go. Since he's…"

Nvwrfn lays her hand on the person's hand, still stuck in the bed. "... I know. But I can't do it yet…"

Ylirmt hums. "You should get some rest, I'll watch him for a few hours,"

"Are you sure?"

"Positive,"

Nvwrfn stands, wobbly, and exits the room with hesitancy in her step. "Call me if anything happens," She leaves the room.

"I will," Ylirmt sits in the seat previously occupied by Nvwrfn, staring at Slkv in the bed intensely. "You are strange… but I guess you both are."

The room goes quiet. The only noises are from the beeping machines and the breathing of Slkv.

Chapter Text

"Don't move,"

Yizg freezes. She's pinned against someone's body with her back to their chest, their arm choking her neck, other hand on her head, threatening to snap the girl's neck.

Hdliw reaches behind her back with narrowed eyes, skillfully watching the person behind Yizg. "Why are you here?"

"I'm delivering a message," The person shoves Yizg forward until she stumbles and falls to her knees. Yizg turns to reveal Hviezmg1 from earlier.

Spluttering through her anger, Yizg bangs her fist on her thigh and stands up. "What the hell is your problem?! I thought you stayed where you usually are!"

Hviezmg1 rolls her eyes and glances off to the side. "It doesn't matter. To you, anyway,"

Hdliw warily lightens her stance, observing that, apart from Hviezmg1 and her threatening introduction, she is harmless; Yizg, however, is still stomping her foot childishly.

"Y-You can't give that short of a warning before holding someone hostage!"

"Oh? I'm sorry, I didn't think rules applied out here in the wasteland," Hviezmg1 idly mentions, not responding to the flinches from the other two girls.

"So what is it you wish to tell us?" Hdliw gets straight to the point, eyes glazed over still and dull.

Hviezmg1 blinks, a frown forming on her face. "Hlorgzib knows what Ylirmt is up to," Out of the corner of her eye, Yizg sees Hdliw flinch from shock. Hviezmg1 narrows her eyes. "She says to let him do whatever he's doing, and she'll help in any way to track the others."

"Why tell me this?"

"What, you, ugh--Tell us this?!"

Hviezmg1 simply turns on her heel and walks away down the destroyed streets, turning back for only a moment. "Because she has a good feeling about this,"

With that, Hviezmg1 walks away and leaves Yizg and Hdliw alone in the street.

Chapter Text

You didn't die so I did an ok job. Btw Pookuro is probably mad at me. -- Kyo

Junko sighs and tiredly rubs her eyes. She sits on her bed with her hair pulled out of her pigtails and her blue colored contacts out of her eyes, staring at the notebook in her hands.

She was right in the end. Taka killed Mondo. From what she could gather, and the rest of Kyo's shitty explanation of the trial, Taka killed Mondo by accident while trying to kill Junko.

It hurts her head to think about. Why didn't she notice someone was planning to murder her during the party?

Her stomach churns. What if she died? What if Mukuro blew up and slaughtered everyone there? Out of guilt and despair for not being able to save her sister?

Junko shakes her head to clear the negative thoughts from her brain temporarily. Everything is fine, somewhat. Mukuro is alive, Kyoko is alive, Junko is alive.

What could be so bad about this?

Two people are dead…

One was supposed to be Junko herself.

No, stop thinking about it. Think about last night when Kyoko washed Junko's hair because she promised she would.

Grabbing a pillow, Junko screams into it, face bright pink and burning hot. She doesn't want to think about it, but she can't help but think about it.

***

Junko crosses her arms, looking away with pouting red cheeks. "You really don't have to do this, I was kidding…"

"Really?" Kyoko tucks a lock of hair behind her ear, glancing up at the fashionista. "You seemed genuine when you requested it before the investigation."

"D-Don't turn my own words against me!"

Kyoko directs her to the bathroom (Junko's bathroom) and immediately begins digging through her cabinets. Junko cocks her head to the side to see what she's searching for.

"Um… If you're looking for gloves, they're by the--" Kyoko pulls out the rubber gloves swiftly. Junko deflates. "Never mind."

"Why do you have gloves anyway? And how did you know I was looking for them?"

Junko swipes her sweaty palms against her red miniskirt. "Well, y'know… I kinda dye my hair… And I think you know the answer to the second question, Kyoko,"

"Hm. You are… fascinating, Junko,"

Junko flushes a bright red, looking away dismissively. "Wh-Whatevs! I knew you already knew that, I-I just wanted to hear you say it," She shrinks slightly at the raised eyebrow. "What?! Do I have something on my face?!"

Kyoko deadpans. "Yes. Blood,"

"Right…" Junko shakily smiles.

"Now," Kyoko shifts her weight onto her right leg, standing with her hip popped to the side. "Look away and on your knees."

***

Nooo… Junko punches her mattress. Why did she become so aroused by Kyoko saying that? And in front of her?! Unforgivable!

Junko jolts at the loudness of the morning announcement playing from the monitor in her cottage. Sighing, she slumps out of the bed and to her boringly brown vanity. She ties her strawberry blonde hair into her usual pigtails and inserts her colored contacts into her eyes.

She wrinkles her nose at how… wrinkled her blazer is. God, she never noticed it when she fronted again.

A quick change of clothes later, Junko bounces out of her cottage. Her eyes shoot over to the guys side of the cottages, noticing Makoto in front of a cabin. His forehead is touching the door and his lips are moving, but Junko can't hear what the lucky student is saying from the farthest cottage back.

Sighing, Junko skips past the cottages and takes note of everyone's positions. The row closest to the hotel restaurant goes (from left to right, girls to boys after the walkway down the middle) Toko, Celeste, Mukuro, Hina, Chihiro, Leon, Mondo, and Hifumi. The second row is Junko, Sayaka, Sakura, Kyoko, Taka, Hiro, Byakuya, and Makoto.

Huh. Guess Makoto isn't that lucky if his neighbor is Scrooge McDuck and the guy who always smells of chips and diet coke. Oh well, his luck will come around one day.

Maybe soon?

… Nah.

Junko skips out of the cottages and to the hotel restaurant, passing by the pool and not bothering to look at the abandoned lodge--this time abandoned for certain. She climbs the stairs and makes her presence known.

"What's up, bitches? It's me, your all-time fave," Junko flips her hair. "Junko Enoshima! Hehe!" She grins with a giggle.

Leon awkwardly coughs. "And you aren't Kyo, right? I can't deal with that asshole," He grumbles.

"Yeah, I don't like any of them, but I'm me. B-T-Dubs, your fly is undone,"

"But you can't even see my--" Leon grumbles as he zips his pants up with pink dusting his cheeks.

Makoto comes up the stairs with an average stomping sound, smiling brightly. "Sorry I'm late!"

Hiro plays with his hair. "So… what's DID?"

Mukuro--she's going to be at morning meetings more often, Junko guesses--sighs. "It's a condition, basically,"

"Yep! Y'know what's also a condition?" Junko struts to her designated seat and sits in her chair. Her eyes glare at her sister. "P. T. S. D."

Mukuro glances to the side.

"We can choose to ignore the elephant in the room, but it will crush us. I prefer we talk about what we heard during the trial," Kyoko squashes any sign of normality (as much as there can be in a killing game).

Celeste hums. "You are referring to when Monokuma revealed a traitor among us. I want to doubt whatever the bear said to us," She brings her knuckle up to cover her mouth, glaring hard at anyone who dared to glance her way. "However, Monomi neither confirmed nor denied the claim when put on the spot."

Makoto furrows his brows together. "Well, yeah, that's true… But why should we doubt each other? We're all friends and we'll all get out of this… the rest of us, that is. I hope we'll all survive,"

Loud, angry stomping cuts off anything anyone else had to say about the situation. At the top of the stairs stands an angry Toko, pointing her finger at the main table and seething.

"Wh-Where is he? Where's M-Master Byakuya?!"

Hina sweatdrops. "What…? Master Byakuya?"

Toko scowls. "Th-That's what I s-said you i-idiot s-swimmer! Master has gone m-missing and I haven't s-seen him since th-the trial!"

Junko scoffs. "Ugh, is that such a bad thing? Now we don't gotta worry about Money Bags killing one of us," She kicks her feet onto the table, ignoring Toko's fierce outbursts and choked screeches. "Besides, he's probably somewhere else. Y'know, ignoring your clingy ass."

"Oh, snap," Someone, probably Leon, whispers.

"Y-You take that back! Master l-loves me even if he doesn't sh-show it in f-front of you all," The writer scowls at the fashionista while the latter smirks.

"Seriously? Who'd be in love with your greasy ass?"

"Wh--?! I b-bathe!" Toko yells before adding on more feebly. "Sometimes…"

Nearly everyone wrinkles their nose save for Kyoko and Celeste who keep a neutral face. Hiro scratches his chin.

"Oh, so that's what the smell is," The clairvoyant gleefully smiles.

"S-smell?!"

Hifumi cups his chin. "It does smell pretty awful in here now that I think about it,"

Mukuro furrows her brows and sniffs the air. "What? It doesn't smell bad…"

"Right, right, your nose can't smell correctly 'cause you have to smell yourself all day," Junko cackles.

"At least I don't dye my hair to make myself feel better!"

"Not yet!"

"This is getting out of hand," Sakura sighs with crossed arms, shaking her head in disappointment.

Toko grinds her teeth together and squeals out in anger. Just as she goes to open her mouth, Hina bounces up. Her chest is puffed out in determination and her blue eyes are almost a shade lighter from how bright they are.

"I know!" Hina bounces over to Toko, taking a hold of her frail shoulders with her hands. Toko flinches in her grasp and tries to free herself but finds she cannot move without possibly breaking her shoulders clean off of her body. "How about we bathe together?! It'll be fun!"

Hifumi blushes. He sticks his meaty fingers into his mouth, sweat clinging to his forehead. "You two will be… bathing together? What activities will you be doing?"

Toko blushes. "Wh-What?!"

"Bathing, of course!" Hina smiles.

"Not that it would affect me, seeing that I only kneel to 2D women!" Hifumi proudly stands akimbo.

Junko shakes her head in disappointment. Wasn't he just on his hands and knees last night for Celeste--a living, breathing person?

"This conversation has gone completely off the rails…" Sayaka sweatdrops.

"I agree…" Chihiro mumbles. Her cheeks are red along with her dull hazel eyes, dry from crying all night most likely.

"Is this a bad time?" Monomi pops up from nowhere, her paw on her chin in question.

Kyoko sighs. "No, now is the perfect time. What is it?"

Monomi places her paws on her hips proudly.

"Now actually isn't a good time, Monomi," Sayaka smiles sweetly, ignoring the burning glare into the side of her head from the lavender haired girl. "Can you give us, like, twenty more minutes, please? We're talking about something really important and the conversation got off track."

Monomi softens and nods her head. "Of course! Just call for me when you're ready. Love! Love!" She disappears.

"How do you do that?" Makoto asks in awe.

Sayaka’s smile turns into a smirk. "Manipulation is easy, you just have to find the right bait for the right person. Or rabbit, in this case,"

Hina drags an unwilling Toko to the table and makes her sit in the chair beside her own. The writer scowls but doesn't move due to the iron grip on her right wrist.

Junko removes her feet from the table, plopping her chin onto her fist. "What were we gonna talk about, Kyoko?"

"About the traitor--"

"If there is one!" Makoto chimes.

"Yes, if there is one--Where do we stand with them? Why were they placed on an island with us in the first place?" Kyoko's eyes scan everyone's face for any deception or malice. "Who is the traitor, I wonder?"

"W-We know it's th-the stupid model,"

"Wow, OK," Junko rolls her eyes.

"Actually," Kyoko shakes her head. "Out of everyone, I think Junko to be the least likely suspect."

"Why is that?" Sakura asks.

Kyoko stays silent.

"'Course she doesn't say shit when it's convenient for her," Leon groans.

Humming in thought, Junko brings her hands down to tap on her thighs. Kyoko trusts her. The sentence puts warmth in Junko's heart. But… Why exactly does the detective trust her? Was it the motive from before? Does she know something? Is she the mastermind? No to the last question. Junko huffs.

"Due to the fact that Mondo and Taka are dead, and Monokuma mentioned Taka finding a traitor," Kyoko folds her arms across her chest. "I believe neither of those two were traitors."

"Why would they be traitors anyway? Mondo collected weapons to prevent a murder, and Taka…" Sakura glances at Junko with a furrowed brow. "had too strong beliefs that killed him."

Chihiro whimpers. "Poor Mondo… Poor Taka…"

"I g-get feeling bad for the b-brute, but th-the murderer?" Toko shakes her head while fumbling her hands together. "He's the one wh-who started this killing g-game in the first place. Why should w-we feel bad for h-him?"

Hina frowns. "Because he's still dead! He wanted to protect us!"

"From someone who shouldn't be suspicious in the first place," Junko blandly says.

Celeste rolls her red eyes. "Of course you aren't suspicious…"

Oh, Junko absolutely hates this bitch.

Kyoko shakes her head, hand cupping her chin thoughtfully. Junko can see the way the cogs inside of her glorious brain turn.

"Monomi," The detective calls out and, barely a second later, Monomi pops into existence with a smile.

"Hi! You called for me so soon!" She claps her paws together.

Kyoko nods. "Yes, what is it you wished to tell us?"

Before Monomi could answer, Monokuma appears in the room with a growl and a huff. He throws his arms in the air.

"Alright, who did it? Who's the prankster?!"

Monomi ducks behind a table and isn't spotted by Monokuma in the process. Junko sighs from irritation.

"What the hell are you even talking about?" The fashionista venomously spits.

Monokuma flings his paws to his chest. "There's no need for such language! Anyway, bastards, I'm searching for something… important," He points in a random direction while his face turns red. "One of my faithful servants has disappeared!"

"Servants…?" Chihiro questions quietly.

"Y'know, the Monobeasts? One of them is missing…"

One of the Monobeasts is missing? Aren't they, like, super indestructible and dangerous to even attempt to destroy or take captive? Unless…

"Hmm… maybe I shouldn't have cut the pet food budget so heavily…" The bear sighs with depression written on his face. "You don't think it went on strike, right?"

"Maybe it went on a walk and never came back!" Hifumi says.

Monokuma grunts. "Urrrg… It looks like you bastards don't know what happened to my Monobeast… Oh, well, worrying about this will make me have bald patches,"

With that, Monokuma pops out of the room.

"Do you think he's telling the truth about one of the Monobeasts being missing?" Hina inquires.

Sakura shrugs. "It isn't impossible, but I wish not to try to fight one unless needed,"

Mukuro's eyes narrow slightly, lips pursed. "Monomi… do you have something to do with the missing Monobeast?"

Monomi, scrambling out from her hiding place, nods frantically. "That's right! I obliterated that Monobeast all by myself!"

Junko couldn't help but smirk and nod her head. "Nice job, rabbit,"

"Y-You? Obliterated one of th-those things?! How the hell did you p-pull that o-off?" Toko, not believing the rabbit, curls her lip and scowls.

Monomi throws her paw in the air. "That story is long and awful, but the bridge is now open!"

"If the bridge is open, it means we can travel to a different island, yes?" Celeste stands neutral, but her crimson eyes never stop boring into Monomi's beady eyes.

Hiro gapes. "Is that true?!"

"That's absolutely true! And since you now have a much wider space to move around in, this time you can all live a friendly, fun life together!" Monomi hugs herself with a friendly smile. "Love! Love!"

Leon puts his fists up. "Alright! Let's find a damn way outta this shit hole with the new island!"

"Um…" Monomi whimpers.

"And I-I have to search f-for Master B-Byakuya!" Toko stands but is immediately yanked close to Hina. The swimmer shakes her head with a tsk. "Wh-What?!"

"We have to bathe together! I'll get you smelling so nice and fresh that everyone will be falling to your feet!" Hina pulls Toko up and towards the stairs.

Toko squeals. "Y-You were serious?! No, I-I'm not taking a-a bath!"

Their bickering voices drown out.

"If there is a way off of these islands, then I will search every place thoroughly," Sakura promises.

"Ah, fuck it, might as well," Junko stands and walks to the stairs.

"B-But--"

Junko ignores Monomi's whiny voice as she leaves, making sure to hop with a light skip as she descends the stairs.

Her mind is on overdrive, overheating and probably buffering. She glances at the other building structures as she moves to go to the central island. It seems like just yesterday when everyone came here so suddenly and unexpectedly.

Why are they here? Now that she thinks about it, Junko wonders why the Hope's Peak Academy classroom collapsed. In fact, why was it the only door there when she woke up?

Thinking about it makes her head stutter and go blank, a migraine flashing and stinging her eyes. In the blinding white of her headache, Junko can see a faint outline of a… person behind her eyelids.

Who… is… that…? Why are th÷_ @o fa?il>a= to h÷r?

Banging the heels of her hands against her temples, Junko comes to an unsteady stop in front of an empty bridge on the central island. Taking a chance, the fashionista looks up in confusion.

What… was she just thinking about?

Junko grits her teeth, but she cannot think or steady her mind in any way. There's no time to delve deeper into this mystery at the moment, so the second island will have to quench her thirst for now.

Junko stares up at the sign above the bridge where she can see some sort of decimated building on the other side. It has a large "2" on the top.

With a deep breath, Junko walks forward and across the bridge to the second island. Almost immediately, the pounding headache comes back full force.

Junko bangs her palms to the sides of her head again and again until her ears stop ringing.

"Junko?"

The fashionista turns to see Sayaka and Mukuro, with the idol's hand holding the soldier's hand. Mukuro looks sheepish and exhausted but concerned while Sayaka is tilting her head with a comforting smile.

God, their love is sickening.

"Huh… Yeah, I'm fine," Junko dismisses them.

Mukuro worries her brows together. "But… we didn't say anything?"

Junko groans, knees weak. "I know everything, remember? Don't worry about me, I just have a headache…"

"OK…" Sayaka seems unsure but pulls a hesitant Mukuro to the right.

Junko goes left. Her eyes fix onto the destroyed building as the first stop on her island search.

The sickening urge to puke comes along with her headache, but she holds it in because she doesn't want to throw up her… breakfast. Right… Junko didn't have breakfast this morning unlike the others who Junko saw had food.

As she walks to the gigantic building, surrounded by flora and shrubs, Junko sees Byakuya standing a few feet away from the building. Curiously, she goes to stand next to him and looks at the disgusting building.

"You, analyst, what can you tell me about this building?" Byakuya addresses Junko quickly and full of disdain, as if hating the fact he has to ask the smartest person for their opinion on something he knows nothing about.

Junko shakes her head, ringing coming back to her ears. "It… makes me sick…"

Byakuya swivels his head and looks down at her with a raised eyebrow. His lips come together in a firm line. "It makes you sick… What is so out of place about this structure that it has you physically sick?"

Maybe it's just the asymmetrical way the vines are growing on the building. Maybe the building is too tall. Maybe it's the fact that a machine gun is fixed next to the supposed entrance.

Junko doesn't know.

"For now, I need to stop looking at this damn building before I blow chunks…"

Byakuya grimaces at the description. "Yes, do that. I don't want your vomit near me,"

Thanks for the permission, Byakuya. Originally, Junko was going to walk as slow as possible while leaving. But because he doesn't want her to puke on his shoes, Junko will leave faster.

Junko leaves while throwing up her middle finger at the male behind her. Him and Celeste will forever get on her nerves, won't they?

Halfway between the disgusting fortress and the next area, Junko realizes she forgot to tell Byakuya about Toko searching for him. She would've loved to see the panic-laced disgust in his eyes.

Next on her adventure is a scholarly building with neat bricks on the outside and large bushes leading to the door. Junko follows the cement path and enters the building to be blown away by the sheer amount of books in there.

Her nose twitches, and she sneezes loudly. Shitty ass dust…

Her eyes roam around and take note of every little detail she can without gaining another headache. Besides the Monomi… Usami statue that's been pushed off of pedestal, Junko acknowledges nothing else of interest.

Kyoko's form catches her gaze.

… Actually, Kyoko's interesting.

Junko struts over, making sure to put an extra swing to her hips, and smiles. She shoots up a peace sign.

"Hiya!" She greets the detective with a chirp.

Kyoko nods while looking through a thick book. "Hello, Junko,"

"Whatcha got there?" Junko leans in to scan over the pages Kyoko is reading now. "'Unsolved Cases: The Tale of Genocider Syo'?"

"Correct. It piqued my interest while I was looking throughout the library, so I decided to have a look," The lavender haired girl glances up at Junko with narrowed eyes. "But I have a feeling you know something about Genocider Syo."

Genocider Syo. How funny is that? Here Kyoko is asking Junko if she knows something about the serial killer… and she has to lie.

Junko cocks her head to the side. "Weeell… I don't know that much about Genocider Syo besides the fact the psycho killed, like, lots'a people," A lie, but a necessary one. Junko wouldn't out Toko like that.

Kyoko relaxes, shoulders untensing. "I see,"

"If I knew important shit, I'd come forward about it,"

Newsflash, she does know shit and is now lying.

"But I gotta wonder about it. Why the hell does an island--a small one at that--have such a detailed library?" Junko cups her chin and spins around.

"If it's so detailed, then where is all the comic books!"

Junko screeches and clutches at her chest, throwing up her other hand in a fist. Hifumi squeals and grabs at his face, already turning red from the surprised punch Junko delivered him.

"Wh-What was that for?!" He cries out.

Junko glares at the fanfic enthusiast. "Y-You're the one who came outta nowhere and snuck up on me!"

"Actually," Kyoko chimes in, not looking up from a different book. "Hifumi has been here for as long as I have. He's been under the tables searching for 'comic books', and you didn't see him."

Junko flushes. "Well, next time, warn a bitch before you scare the shit outta them!"

"I understand, Ms. Enoshima!"

Ew, why the hell does he have to drool while saying that…

Grossed out, Junko wipes her palms against her red miniskirt with a grunt. "Whatevs. I'm outta here… There isn't even much here to begin with,"

"Goodbye, Junko," Kyoko calls out to the departing fashionista, sending her into a blushing state.

Junko hurries out of the library and back on track to the left. She stumbles upon a new building. The sign on the building above the doorway says "Pharmacy".

Heading into the place, Junko is hit with various rays of bright white lights. This doesn't help her headache in the slightest… Maybe she should take some pills from here or something.

Junko walks along the shelves of medicines, seeing some of them not in her native language. Some bottles aren't labeled, but the vast majority have some sort of sticker on them.

Not that it really matters, but under "ointments", Junko would rather not have gel for an ass rash end up on her face. Her own style, but not everyone's. It's difficult having such a healthy life.

Sort of a healthy life…

Ignoring the other person in the pharmacy, Junko passes by without a glance. The grating groan signifies it was Leon.

Going left once more, Junko walks to the next place she wants to investigate. It's… a hardware store?

Yes, the sign out front says "Hank's Hardware", whoever the hell Hank is. Is he important or just some one-time name never to be mentioned again?

Shaking her head, the fashionista heads into the hardware store.

A few aisles are set up with a cash register near the front doors. Curiously, Junko walks through the aisles.

The first one had nails and bolts and nuts, easy things to secure wood and such into place. The second one had wrenches and screwdrivers and saws and more. The more manual labor stuff decorated the shelves of the aisle. The third and final one had powered tools like chainsaws, nailguns, and even a large sanding device.

Junko bites her bottom lip harshly. While the pharmacy fuels her worry miniscule, the hardware store hits the final nail in the coffin--pun intended.

No. No more murder is going to happen. Junko doesn't know why she's even trying to convince herself, she knows something is going to happen--with or without weapons.

To ease the tension in her body, Junko leaves the hardware store and walks down the cemented path again.

She skips to what looks like an acre of large grass area. On top of the grass are large walls of cinderblocks. A small sign at the entrance says "A-Maze-Ing Maze!' in comic sans. Monokuma thinks he's so funny…

Junko decides she'll come back to this structure later on whenever her headache goes away.

Junko turns left and heads to the ruined and disgusting building, torn down and weathered with age.

Maybe there's a clue there that she overlooked? Her headache died down some, so it should be fine; as she comes closer to it, however, her headache increases in pressure and throbs at her eyes and temples.

/×]]?  _!,  "?]  /×!*  [×

Junko rubs her eyes until her vision swirls and color distorts and inverts.

What the hell… Why does she feel so sick?

A knot coils and stabs her stomach, but the pain doesn't distract the fashionista from her task. She can forget about these strange headaches and pain in her joints for now… and…

Junko zones out with a hitched breath.

Chapter Text

All of the new places to go on the new island are normal except for the maze and the ruin… thing.

Mukuro can't put her finger on it. The unnerving shiver that runs down her spine as she walks this island, sending her brain into fight-or-flight. Even Sayaka's presence by her side cannot remove the unease in the soldier's body.

Mind wandering, she thinks back to when Sayaka and herself crossed the bridge and saw Junko. Junko, her baby sister, with a grimace of agony across her face. It wrinkled the skin of the corner of her eyes and caused frown marks to appear.

Mukuro's twin senses are still ringing in alarm, but she can't figure it out. Why is Junko in so much pain right now? Does she feel the same twist in her gut when she stares at the familiar ruin?

A hand waves in front of her face so suddenly that Mukuro yelps. Her hands grip the forearm of the person and twist, holding them tightly away from her, and she reaches towards her holster.

"M-Mukuro, it's just me!"

Her light purple eyes uncloud, and she freezes. Sayaka is bent down with her arm outstretched in Mukuro's grasp, face twisted in pain.

The soldier jumps back from the idol, stammering frantic apologies and gripping her trembling hands into fists. Sayaka straightens up with a pained smile.

"Let's just agree to not talk about it," Sayaka says. She pulls down her sleeve and massages her forearm, finger marks on pale skin appearing already. Mukuro whimpers. "It's OK! It only stings a little bit, so it'll go away soon."

Mukuro bites her gloved fingers, dubious. "A-Are you sure? You don't have to be nice when I do stuff like that…"

Sayaka frowns, hands sliding down to clasp together in front of her. She shakes her head slightly, a wince settled on her face still.

"Still…" The soldier trails off.

"Hey, you two! Look who I brought!"

Mukuro glances to the side and her eyes widen and, from the corner of her eye, Sayaka is sharing the same expression. What the…?

Hina us bounding over to the pair with Toko being dragged behind her. The latter's hair is wet and flat even with her braids, making her resemble a wet cat. Her mellow eyes are wide and petrified. What catches Mukuro's gaze is the thick layers of white bandages covering Toko's right hand and halfway up her forearm.

What in the hell happened during their bath together?

Toko scowls and trembles once she and Hina come to a stop. "St-Stupid idiot swimmer… She tried to d-drown me and f-forced me to bathe!"

Sayaka sweatdrops. "U-Um…"

"I-I didn't try to kill you, pinky promise! See?" Hina holds out her right pinky with a sheepish smile. Toko glares at the finger until Hina takes the silent message with an embarrassed chuckle. "Right… All I did was slip on some soap."

"Aren't y-you supposed to be the U-Ultimate Swimmer?! Dumb, st-stupid, idiot sw-swimmer!" Toko grips at her hair and immediately winces when she puts pressure on her hand. "Look wh-what you did to m-me! Oh, I-I get it, you just w-wanted to sabotage me and t-take Master for y-yourself!"

"Uh, Toko, I don't think…" Mukuro scratches the back of her head in discomfort.

Toko shuts her mouth with a click, face turning a fierce shade of red while her body shakes. The three girls wait in uneasy silence while Toko screams in frustration, grabbing at one of her wet braids with her uninjured hand.

"M-Mark my words, Aoi A-Asahina, if you s-so much as l-look at Master the wr-wrong way, I'll…"

Hina swallows, her tan face an ashen color. "I don't think I want to know…"

"Hmph! Good!" With her side of the conversation completed, Toko turns away from the three girls and glowers in silence.

Mukuro clears her throat awkwardly. "S-So, what's… up, Hina?"

Shoulders slumped, Hina sighs. "I guess it's not important…"

"Oh, come on, it's fine to tell us!" Sayaka encourages the swimmer with a cheerful smile. "What's up?"

"Right… You're right! I don't need to be so down in the dumps about Toko being a jerk-butt!" Toko lets out an offended scoff and goes on to be ignored. "Mukuro, I wanted to ask if you wanna meet at the library later tonight!"

Tonight? As suspicious as it sounds, this is Hina who is almost always positive and loyal. Kind of like a dog, but Mukuro won't say it to her face.

"Alright, what time?"

"Nine o'clock on the dot!" Hina pumps her fist, and her ponytail flairs into multiple hair spikes. "Any other time won't be good. Me, Toko, and a few other people's gonna be there."

Mukuro slowly nods, eyebrows raised in surprise. "Precisely twenty-one hundred. I will be there,"

Hina squeals and bounces in place on the balls of her feet. "Oooh! Thank you, thank you,thank you! We're gonna have so much fun!"

With that, Hina drags Toko away. The writer squawks and tries to free herself multiple times, but finds she cannot.

Mukuro shakes her head slightly with a light laugh.

"I think you and Hina will be great friends!" Sayaka says with a bright smile, head slightly tilted. Her deep blue eyes sparkle and shimmer in the light and warms the soldier's heart.

"I just hope whatever we will be participating in won't be too bad. We may be starting a reading meeting," The black haired girl cups her chin.

Sayaka blinks. "You mean a book club?"

"Affirmative," Sayaka laughs at Mukuro's embarrassed confirmation.

Mukuro sucks her bottom lip between her teeth. Sayaka, noticing her thoughtful expression, speaks up.

"Are you thinking about Junko?" The idol's smile fades as she remembers the fashionista earlier. "I'm worried, too… She didn't look so good."

That's the thing: Junko never not looks good. She always keeps up her makeup routine and skincare, hygiene, perfume, and more. Mukuro has no idea what some of the brands and labels mean, but Junko is very protective of her stuff and how she looks and presents herself to the public. She always looks good.

But barely an hour ago… Junko looked awful. Her skin was pale yet, at the same time, pink and clammy, as if she were running a fever. Is she sick? Mukuro can make her some soup… or something.

… For now, Mukuro focuses on the ruin-thing. There might be some sort of escape option or items there, then Junko may be able to receive help sooner.

"I want to check that ruin out again. See if there's any important information on the walls," Mukuro lets out a small laugh. "You didn't want me to get too close to the building, however."

Sayaka rolls her eyes but grabs onto Mukuro's gloved hand, intertwining their fingers together. "I was just worried,"

Mukuro grins ear to ear, heart running circles in her chest and thumping her ribs. "You don't need to, but I appreciate your concern,"

The duo walks to the ruin, one talking with animated gestures and the other listening calmly (if you ignore the raging blush on the soldier's face).

Once they arrived at the ruin, Mukuro notices nearly everyone there aside from Kyoko, Junko, and Makoto. She removes her hand from Sayaka's to place both hands on her hips.

"Why is everyone here?" Mukuro questions with raised brows, curiosity mixing into her tone.

Leon shakes his head. "I dunno, ask the smarter people,"

"Apparently, Kyoko has decided to gather everyone at this ruin to share information," Celeste states. "I'm curious to know what the detective has found."

Arriving at the perfect moment, Kyoko strolls into the area with both a sheepish Makoto and a stoic Junko behind her.

"Sorry I'm late," Makoto scratches his cheek with a small chuckle.

Junko stares blankly at the ruin. "... Likewise."

Kyoko sighs. "Makoto had a late start to exploring the rest of the island after, apparently, getting lost in the maze," Her lavender gaze flicks to Junko, who emotionlessly walks past her. "Junko was going to enter the maze, as well."

"Whatever…" The fashionista sighs.

Mukuro cocks her head, focused on Junko's behavior. For a split second, she might have believed this was Jun, another one of Junko's alters. They're soft spoken and depressed, but they're almost never fronting.

This isn't Jun. This is Junko.

Why is she so… blank?

"This must have been important enough to gather us all here so suddenly," Sakura mentions.

"It is. I want you all to look at this structure and tell me if it looks familiar," Kyoko nods towards the ruin--the building.

Mukuro silently looks to the building as does everyone else aside from Junko, who groans and shakes her head. Her eyes narrow, lower lip being sucked between her teeth.

"It… does feel familiar," Makoto says first, eyebrows pinched together.

Byakuya tuts. He rolls his eyes. "If you all don't notice what the detective is trying to get you to understand, you all must have that idiot's IQ," He glares at Hiro.

The clairvoyant is picking his nose.

Kyoko tucks a lock of hair behind her ear. She opens her mouth, but Junko beats her to the punch.

"It's Hope's Peak Academy, right?" Junko blankly says without a hint of emotion reaching her blue eyes. The only sign of life in her face is the scrunch of her nose.

Hina shakes her head. "Wait--But Hope's Peak Academy isn't on an island!"

"And it definitely doesn't look like…" Hifumi waves his arms at the building. "this!"

'Junko is half correct. This building resembles Hope's Peak Academy," The detective walks through the parted crowd of students and to the entrance, or what looks to be the entrance. She places her hand on the large, circular, metal door and drags it down. "However, the real Hope's Peak Academy doesn't have an entrance like this, nor the security system. It also isn't physically decayed like this."

"How would you know, Jessica Fletcher?! Hope's Peak Academy might not be how you say!"

Chihiro doesn't make a sound as Monokuma yells from beside her. The bear clears his throat.

"Tough crowd…"

Hina scowls. "Hey, what d'you mean?!"

Monokuma raises his paw to his chin, head tilted. "Huh? You wanna know what I'm talking about? Huh? You really wanna know the twists and turns? The loopty-loops and pulls?!

"Are your shoes even cool?!"

"Spit it out, bear," Byakuya sneers, with Toko cheering him on quietly.

"Kids these days… But if you really wanna know, I'd ask the traitor! After all, they still have their memories, right?" The bear giggles. "Well, I might be wrong, but who knows? I have no idea , and the anticipation is just so. Damn. Exciting!"

Mukuro's brain mentally stops to process what Monokuma had admitted. The traitor… still has their memories?

"If you said the traitor still has their memories, then does that mean…" Mukuro grits her teeth. "the rest of us lost our memories?"

"What--That thinking is wrong! How the hell can we all have amnesia?!" Leon holds up his fist with a frown. "That isn't possible!"

Monokuma gasps. "Whaaat?! No, it's abso lutely possible!" He begins to walk around, passing every student with his malicious grin. "You all first entered the academy, right? And you all had a sudden blackout, right? Then you all entered a classroom, right?"

"H-How did you--" Sayaka tries to ask but is cut off.

"Well, guess what--That's your memory loss acting up! Isn't it just despairingly awful to know you all have amnesia? You don't even know you spent two years together in your boring school life!"

Two… years?

They lost two years of memories… If it's true, then it means Taka and Mondo were friends, and Taka killed Mondo. But he tried to kill Junko, another friend. But he didn't know. No, that can't make sense, because… because…

"No matter! By the way, have any of you seen Monomi? My darling little sister is avoiding me," The monochromatic bear unsheathes his small claws.

Kyoko crosses her arms. "What's inside of this building?"

Monokuma, nearly teleporting away, stops. His red eye glows bright before dimming. "Inside the building? How the hell should I know?! Aren't you supposed to be Poirot, solving the mystery and stuff?"

"That doesn't answer the question,"

"Persistent, I swear… I don't know what's in the Hope's Peak rip-off, and if I did, I sure as hell wouldn't tell you bastards!" Monokuma holds up his paw, pointed toward the detective. "I gotta go find Monomi! She's been a very very bad girl!"

Monokuma disappears.

Mukuro runs her hand through her hair and stresses over Monokuma and his answers. What the hell is inside of this ruin that even Monokuma doesn't know about? Maybe Monomi could have some answers…

Kyoko frowns and cups her chin. "Interesting. This mystery may need more clues before cracking the case,"

"You th-think?" Toko hisses.

"Nevertheless, I will get to the bottom of this," The lavender haired girl turns her attention back to the door, staring at the keypad curiously.

Byakuya rolls his eyes. "And while you take your time with useless things like that, someone else may begin the killing game again. Heh, this may become very interesting, indeed,"

Hina flairs in anger, hair spiking. "You can't say junk like that, Byakuya! Don't be a butt about this!"

"Oh? Very well, it seems you don't understand the gravity of our situation, airhead," The heir drops his hands to his sides and stands proudly with a smirk. "Monokuma is giving motives to draw us to kill, and stubborn fools like yourself are killed because of your nature."

Sakura bristles. "What are you trying to say?"

"Anyone who denies the game, even after the first trial, should be wary and watch their backs. The aim of this game is to be the winner--to come out on top,"

"No…"

Byakuya turns his body slowly, near menacingly to the small girl a few feet away from him. He glares down at Chihiro, a twinkle in his eyes. "What was that?"

"No. I-I don't want to play this… killing game anymore," Chihiro shakes. She wipes her raw red eyes with her sleeve, stained and dampened with tears. "This isn't right! Killing isn't… OK, and I don't want to participate anymore!"

She's yelling now, even managing to startle the more stoic students. Tears are streaming from her hazel eyes despite the numerous wipes at her irritated cheeks with her sleeves.

"And because of that… Because th-they're both…" Chihiro trails off in a soft sob, eyes hollow and blank. "I have no one left that sees me for me!"

Mukuro bites her lip. "Ch-Chihiro--"

Chihiro rounds on the soldier, pushing her back with her glare that sends daggers into the soldier's chest. "You didn't need to put your weapons in the lodge! They would've been fine in your cottage, but you just… y-you j-just… Khh, gah…!"

She runs past Mukuro, knocking into her side, and leaving. Mukuro stumbles from the small force, watching the small girl leave with a heavy heart.

She… did. Mukuro did basically cause the first murder to happen, didn't she?

"Pathetic. I'm leaving," Byakuya takes off next, casually walking away and down the path without a care in the world.

With a tenderness smothering the air, the rest of the students except for Kyoko leave the ruin. Mukuro stays put. The guilt eats at her insides.

"Don't feel guilty,"

Mukuro raises her head to see Kyoko half turned towards her, hand still on the building. Her bemusement must've shown on her face, for Kyoko speaks again.

"About what Chihiro said. She's most likely feeling guilty because she feels like she could've done something," The detective returns her attention back to the building. "Instead of accepting that she couldn't have pulled Taka back from that state of mind, she blamed you for putting your weapons there. So don't feel guilty for wanting to protect others."

Mukuro blinks in shock, a flush rising to her cheeks in embarrassment. "Oh, thank you. I can see why Junko likes you so much--you're a good friend,"

Kyoko says nothing, but the slight shift in her face shows… an emotion Mukuro has never seen before.

Mukuro turns and leaves after wishing Kyoko good luck in her detective skills.

There's some time before nine o'clock when she needs to meet up with Hina and Toko and some others. She should hang out with some people to kill time.

She pulls out her e-Handbook to check her friendship levels with the others, noticing a lack of levels with a lot of people. Mukuro sees the closest person nearby is Hina.

Putting her e-Handbook away, Mukuro walks down the pathway and towards the library. Up ahead of her is Leon walking suspiciously towards the pharmacy and entering especially suspiciously.

Whatever he's up to… probably won't be good.

Just as Mukuro is about to find out what the orange haired male is doing, Hina pops out from nowhere and clings to her arm. Mukuro squeaks and stumbles, quickly straightening her spine. She lifts her arm, Hina along with it, and stares into her clear blue eyes which are full of excitement.

"Mukuro! You can't go into the library yet, the stuff inside isn't ready!" Hina cries out. She wriggles her legs while dangling from the soldier's outstretched arm.

The soldier rubs the back of her neck with her free hand. "Ah, well… I just wanted to hang out before our… meeting,"

Hina nods. She squashes her cheek to the muscle definition of Mukuro's arm while humming in thought. Then she enthusiastically nods.

"Yeah, that sounds awesome! Plus, all this stuff inside isn't that hard to set up, sooo…" Hina releases the soldier's arm and drops back to her feet, standing tall for a short person. "Do you wanna go somewhere or…?"

Mukuro shakes her head. "Ah, just right here is fine…"

"That's right!" Hina pumps her fists. "We don't need to go far for our awesomely epic hangout!"

Mukuro smiles at Hina's positivity. "Right,"

"D'you plan on joining me and Sakura by the way?!"

Mukuro's eyes widen slightly. "Huh?"

"Y'know, for a workout? We strong females gotta be strong!" Hina smiles before deflating. "Er, b-but we can still have our feminine sides, right?

"... Hey, Mukuro, can I ask you a question?"

"Affirmative,"

Hina purses her lips and glances to the side. "You have all of that stuff on--the pants, the shirt, the… guns, and stuff--but… I dunno, how do you still look so feminine?"

"Feminine? Heh, out of everyone on the island to ask about femininity, I figured Celeste or Sayaka would be the best option,"

"I'm asking you 'cause we're, like, totally the same person!" Hina holds up her fingers as she counts their similarities. "We're both strong, have to eat a lot during the day, and are always active! Yet, you're so much more of a girl than I am! How?"

Mukuro cups her chin. "I… am unsure what you're trying to ask. I see the similarities in our characters, yes, but we are both feminine in our own ways," She nods her head as she continues to talk to the swimmer, watching her calm down slightly. "Don't look at the negative, and focus on the positive."

"Wow… You were, like, super inspirational, Mukuro!" Hina pulls the soldier in for a tight hug, squeezing the air from her lungs. "You should put that on a t-shirt and have Junko model in it! You'd get tons of cash!"

"Thank… you," The strangled answer comes out.

Hina pulls back. "I gotta go now and do some organizing stuff, but I'll see you later!" She skips into the library with a lighter aura surrounding her.

Mukuro chuckles softly. Somehow, even if it's the tiniest bit, she feels as if she understands Hina a little better.

A chime comes from her e-Handbook.

Biting her lip, Mukuro realizes she forgot about Leon completely. If she went over to the pharmacy now, he would most likely be gone.

Out of the corner of her eye, Mukuro sees Chihiro exiting the pharmacy with a tube in her hands. She swiftly jogs over, wanting to hang out with the small girl.

"Ch-Chihiro, wait!"

The programmer freezes, not looking at the soldier.

Mukuro comes to a stop a foot away from the girl, fumbling on her words. "I-I'm sorry about both Taka and Mondo…"

"Is that supposed to make it better?" The girl glances up with tired eyes, the anger snuffed out from earlier burning inferno. "I told them both something about me because I was… afraid they wouldn't like me if they got my secret before I had a chance to tell them."

"Secret?"

Chihiro sighs in annoyance and irritation. This is a side of the programmer Mukuro hasn't seen before.

"Yes. You… do remember, right? The first motive M-Monokuma passed out to us?"

How could she ever forget that motive? It was so horrifying to know anything about herself could've been told to other people, truth or lie, and they would believe it. It was horrifying to receive a motive saying Byakuya killed his own siblings, Kyoko is the mastermind, and Makoto is a liar. She still doesn't know the truth of that envelope, but the papers are gone now. Monokuma had snatched them up secretly, apparently, after the trial. Or something.

"Right… the two lies and a truth motive," Mukuro says.

"I was scared they'd get my truth and  hate me for it… so I told them a-about it and th-they…" She sniffles, gripping the tube in her grasp tightly. "they said it was OK. Mondo was s-surprised but didn't tell anyone, and T-Taka… he accepted me right away!"

Mukuro bites her lip. "Chihiro… I--"

"Do you know what it's like…? To finally feel accepted in life by someone only for it to be… taken away?" Chihiro shakes her head, mouth pulling into a sob. "Do you know the struggle of not being accepted into a society where you're immediately labeled as something awful?"

"Chihiro…"

"J-Just… give me some time, please. I'm sorry for… dumping that on you…" Chihiro looks up at the sky, seeing it's darkness. "I need to lay down…"

The programmer stumbles away, shoulders still hitching into sobs. Mukuro doesn't watch her leave this time, pondering over Chihiro’s words.

… She grew a little closer to Chihiro because of this one-sided conversation.

Her e-Handbook chimes.

It should be about nine o'clock right now, so Mukuro should head over to the library. She walks to the library and steps down the path to the door, opening the door.

"Kuro! You're here!"

Mukuro is grabbed and pulled into the library, the door closing behind her. She pushes her hands into Hiro's chest and tries to free herself from his hug but finds she cannot. Hiro spins around with Mukuro still smashed against his chest.

"And it just hit nine on the dot! No wonder you're a soldier, always on time!" Leon's voice laughs somewhere deeper in the library.

"Mukuro!" A weight slams against her back. By the smell of bread and frosting, Mukuro can tell it's Hina. "C'mon, Toko, join the hug!"

"I'm n-not hugging you imbeciles! Y-You'll just make fun o-of the way I hug and l-laugh about me behind my back!"

"Oh, my God,"

"H-Hey!"

Toko's body slams into Hiro's side, kept there by Leon, Hina, and Hiro. Toko and Mukuro are pressed cheek to cheek in the middle of the hug pile.

Mukuro clears her throat. "Uh, this wasn't what I expected when I was asked to meet here,"

"Not that I-I agree with you, b-but…" Toko grumbles.

"This is the very first meeting of our new group!" Hina pulls back, arms crossed with a grin.

Hiro and Leon urge the two other girls forward and unlock their arms from around them.

The set-up is rather basic, Mukuro acknowledges. It's a large pile of pillows and blankets with multiple chairs holding up a thicker blanket. The set-up is in the corner of the library. Is that… Yes, there's a long PVC pipe holding the center of the blanket to keep it from sagging.

It feels like a camping trip, but obviously for… inside, Mukuro guesses.

Mukuro and Toko are trapped in the far back of the fort with Hiro and Leon blocking them in, Hina at the entrance.

"What is the point of this meeting?" Mukuro asks.

"The very first meeting of our new group!" Hiro laughs.

Leon smirks. "Yeah, we're gonna become great friends. And you know what friends do?"

"What? R-Read each other boring ch-children's stories and sing songs about f-fight songs?" Toko rolls her eyes. "Throw out h-hair into messy buns and be b-barely four f-feet tall?"

"Nope!" Hina squeals. "We're gonna--"

"Smoke weed!"

"Tell ghost stories!"

"--paint each other's nails!"

Hina, Hiro, and Leon look at each other in confusion.

"Wait, I thought we were telling ghost stories, and that's why I got these," Hiro points at two books, one slightly thinner than the other.

Hina frowns. "But I got these nail polishes from Sayaka!" She holds up three colors of nail polish--red, purple, and black.

"But I got weed from the back of the pharmacy!" Leon pulls a small baggie from his pocket. "Technically it's medicinal, but to hell with that for now."

Hiro frowns. "You wanna smoke?"

"Yeah? What's so wrong with that?"

Toko groans. "I sh-shouldn't have gone t-to the restaurant this morning…"

Mukuro deadpans in her head. This meeting is already a disaster…

Hina brightens up. "How about we combine our ideas?! We paint our nails, then smoke, then tell ghost stories?!"

"I-I dunno, someone has to watch over you guys now that Taka is… y'know," Hiro scratches his chin. He grins. "I won't smoke! I… don't smoke, so…"

"More for us, then! If ya wanna join in later…" Leon smirks, holding the small, clear bag of weed in between his index and middle finger.

Hiro shakes his head. "Nah, it's fine! Plus, I'm not really into that stuff,"

Hina yanks Hiro's hands towards her and opens the red nail polish, painting his nails.

Mukuro is handed the black polish in confidence, but she has no idea what to do. Think, what does Junko do when she paints her nails?

She uncaps the polish and turns to Toko nervously. "Um, would it be possible to paint your nails?"

"I don't h-have a choice, so g-go ahead. I know you'll j-just make it u-ugly…" Toko holds her trembling hand out, eyes squeezed shut. "J-Just like me."

"You aren't ugly, Token!" Hiro jolts his hands, causing Hina to lightly slap his thigh and go back to work. "You're, like, so pretty! I bet you could give Junko a run for her money!"

Toko scowls. "You d-don't have to patronize m-me!"

Leon rolls his eyes. "Whatever, Toko,"

Mukuro tries to paint Toko's nails, emphasis on the try because Toko's hand is shaking way too much, and Mukuro is too focused on keeping her hands steady rather than painting Toko's nails. By the end of the horrible experience, Toko's nails and some of the skin surrounding her nails are black.

Son of a bitch.

"S-Sorry," Mukuro passes the nail polish across the fort and sits it on the floor next to Hina, and she removes her gloves, cheeks flared red. "I thought I'd be better at this since I have a model as a sister, but I still am bad."

Toko flushes and looks away. "I-It isn't… that bad, so…"

"Wow, Toko, I never knew you could give a decent compliment!" Hina smiles brightly, staying perfectly still while Hiro clumsily paints her nails purple.

Leon reaches over and inspects Mukuro's nails, slowly nodding. "Yeah, I think you'd look good in red," He grabs the red polish and quickly paints Mukuro's nails, leaving behind an expert shine.

"H-How did you do that?" Mukuro spreads her fingers and looks in awe at her nails. They're so… pretty. A warmth settles in her chest.

Leon shrugs and paints his nails black and red. "Eh, sometimes I paint my nails. Coach never liked it, but fuck him,"

"Honestly. Some people just openly don't like what other people do," Hina blows on her drying nails. "Like, painting your nails is cool, and people shouldn't get in your case for it."

"That's… pretty good f-for an idiot swimmer," Toko says, but the usual bite is gone from her tone.

"Thanks!"

Mukuro smiles miniscule. All of the stress from earlier is being released now, this relaxing session of painting nails is nice. She likes it, and she wouldn't mind doing something like this again.

"It's smoking time!" Leon shakes his hands to air dry them, swiftly opening the small package of weed.

Mukuro leans in curiously. "How is this supposed to work?"

"You didn't think I didn't have a bowl in my cottage? Just didn't have the weed!" Leon pulls a small, glass "bowl" from his other pocket along with a zippo lighter decorated with painted designs of skulls.

He places a small piece of weed at the wider and deeper part of the bowl before lighting the zippo lighter and putting the flame on the weed. Leon places his lips on the other end of the bowl, inhaling deeply. He pulls back, smoke exhaling from his mouth and nose. Mukuro watches in fascination.

Hiro squawks. "N-Not in the tent!"

Leon groans. "C'mon… you're usually more fun…"

"You can have fun outside the fort! I'm the leader and parent for now, so what I say goes!" Hiro says.

Hina shuffles backwards out of the fort with Hiro, Mukuro, Toko, and Leon following close behind. They sit at the table nearest to the fort. Hiro places the two books he brought on the edge of the table.

Leon passes the bowl to Toko. She holds it in her uninjured with a furrowed brow, apprehension in her eyes.

"This i-isn't going to hurt o-or anything, right?" She asks to make sure.

"Nope! Just hold that end to your mouth and breathe in," Leon guides her.

Mukuro watches as Toko shakily puts the bowl to her mouth and breathes through her nose. Leon chuckles.

"No, no, through your mouth,"

"I-I knew that!" Toko glares in defense. She puts the bowl to her mouth again and inhales. Almost immediately she chokes and pulls back, coughing out puffs of smoke. "Y-You were trying t-to choke me! This was your p-plan all--"

Leon takes the bowl from her with a frown. "Look, if you aren't comfortable with the bowl, we can try something else," He hands the bowl to Hina and continues to talk to Toko. "So there's this thing where you can smoke without the bowl. It's called shotgunning."

Toko bites her thumb. "Sh-Shotgunning?"

"Hell, yeah! Hina, you know what that is?" Hina nods, blowing a cloud of smoke out of her mouth. Hiro is sitting next to her with a look of disgust. "Could you provide a visual demonstration?"

Hina turns to Mukuro. "Hey, can I shotgun you?"

Mukuro tilts her head. "I suppose. What will we be doing?"

"Just breathe in through your mouth when I tap your arm," Hina says.

She smokes through the bowl and sets it on the table. Leaning to Mukuro, who's sitting next to her, she presses her lips to the soldier's. Mukuro squeaks. Hina taps Mukuro's arm, and the latter breathes as commanded. Almost instantly, Mukuro’s head clouds with a fuzzy feeling. Hina pulls back with a smirk.

"O-Oh…" Mukuro stammers.

Toko buries her face in her hands, blushing up to her ears. "Th-That's--"

"If it helps, don't think of it as a kiss! Hell, think of me as your…" Leon gags slightly. "Master Byakuya."

Toko blushes brighter. "A-Alright… but only b-because of Master…"

Leon swipes the bowl with a grin, putting it to his mouth and inhaling deeply. He holds it for a moment and presses his lips to Toko's. The latter inhales and blushes when the baseball player pulls back with a smirk.

"So how is it?"

"Not… as b-bad as I-I expected…" Toko blinks her eyes closed slowly and opens them just as slowly.

Mukuro snickers suddenly, Hina following close behind in her own round of laughter. Then Toko snorts. This causes Leon to burst out laughing.

Hiro is watching in concern. A drop of sweat drips down his brow. "This was probably a bad idea…"

The rest of the night went smoothly. Well, as smoothly as a night can be with four underage and high teenagers, a panicking and sober adult, and a Monomi.

When Monomi showed up? She said something about time flying and walls closing. She agreed to help transport the blankets and pillows back to Hina's room while Hiro dealt with the four teens.

Hiro had both Toko and Hina on his back, hands holding Mukuro's and Leon's hands to make sure they didn't wander off.

"Where're we goinnng?" Mukuro pouts.

Hiro smiles tightly. "Back to the cottages, Kuro, to get you four to bed,"

Leon huffs. "But we were having so much fun dammit!"

"I wanna sleep with you guuuys…" Hina groans into Hiro's ear. Hiro sighs. "Don't sound so disappointed, Ya-su-hi-ro… 'Sides, I get cold at night."

"A cuddle party with your friends?" Leon smiles dopily.

"Kekeke… Cuddling with my bros," Hina laughs.

"Bro…" Mukuro giggles at the word. "What if bro was, like, brooo?"

Leon and Hina burst out laughing. Toko snickers more quietly, clutching her glasses somewhat tightly in her hand over Hiro's chest.

"That's the funniest shit I've ever heard, Mukuro! You should be a philanthropist 'cause of your wise words," The orange haired male glances at the soldier with a toothy grin.

Toko scoffs. "Y-You mean a philosopher?"

"That's what I said, ain't it?"

"Who knows?"

"I dunno,"

Hiro's eye twitches.

Once they finally--finally--reach Hina's cottage after multiple minutes of annoying whining, Hiro settles them on the bed. Leon and Toko are flopped in the middle with Mukuro and Hina cuddled into them. Hiro removes their shoes and sets them at the foot of the bed.

"You all good if I leave?" Hiro asks the four bodies on the bed.

Mukuro hums. "Yeah, the door'll be unlocked for you,"

"That's…" Hiro runs his hand over his face. "Why did I agree to letting them be high…?"

"On three… one… two… three," Hina says.

All four teens chime with sluggish tones. "We love you, daaad…"

Hiro blushes. "Aw, I love you, too, kids!" He freezes. "I'm too young to be a dad… By kids, I'll see you all in the morning. Sleep well!"

Hiro leaves quickly and locks the door behind him.

Toko laughs. "He's so f-fun to m-mess with…"

"Ditto,"

"Mhm,"

"Hell, yeah,"

..

.

Chapter Text

Waking up the next morning after the… events of last night were… fun. Is that the correct word--probably not.

Leon is a starfish in the middle of the bed, snoring softly. His orange hair is ruffled and messy while his goatee has more bedhead than his actual hair. Under Leon's left arm is Toko, curled into a shivering ball.and facing Hina. Speaking of Hina, the swimmer is on her side with her arm and leg haphazardly thrown over Toko's body. She's drooling down her cheek and muttering mildly concerning things about food--donuts, to be specific.

And Mukuro? She woke up to Leon's right on her stomach with her arms pillowing her face.

It was peaceful until Hina kicked out her leg, hitting Leon in the side. This causes Leon to jerk up with a yelp. Hina falls off the bed from shock and pulls Toko down with her. Mukuro throws herself off of the bed and onto the hardwood floor.

Leon glances around with a gasp. "Who the hell kicked my fucking spleen?!"

Dazed, Toko glances around. "Where a-am I? What time is i-it?"

"Like," Hina groans into the flooring. Toko's sitting on the swimmer's back unknowingly. "Probably my room…"

"I… can tell," Mukuro says. She sweatdrops at the large shrine of donuts next to Hina's bathroom.

"Hold on, hold on… It iiisss…" Leon shoves his hand into his jacket pocket and fishes out his e-Handbook. It clicks on brightly, and Leon closes his eyes tightly. Once he opens them, he says. "Nearly time for the morning announcement…"

Mukuro yawns. "That early?"

She stands to look for her gloves. She finds them nowhere--not with the blankets and pillows, not under the bed, not on any visible surface. Strange. Mukuro sighs. She'll just have to go without gloves for now.

"A-Aren't you a soldier? You're s-supposed to g-get up early," Toko shuffles off of Hina's back and stands wobbly. The writer sits on the bed and rubs at the bandages on her wrist.

"We should make donuts for breakfast!" Hina bounces off of the floor. She claps her hands together. "And get Hiro so the squad can eat together!"

Toko mutters about finding her glasses, missing them being at her feet. Swiftly, Hina hands them to the writer, who puts them on her face.

Leon stretches and yawns. "Yeah, alright, I'll get him. I need to put our weed back for another time, anyway,"

The baseball player stands and stumbles to get his shoes on, hopping in place with them on. He gives up halfway and walks out with one shoe in his hand and the other on his foot.

Mukuro stands and rubs her eyes. What a night. Weed is surprisingly good. A great stress reliever.

"We're here!" Leon bursts through Hina's door. There's a slight rattling sound of metal. Leon startles as his light blue eyes lock onto… Hina's door. "... Oops. I think your lock was cheap and broken."

Hina rolls her eyes. "Uh huh,"

"Hey, kids! How'd you all--Where the hell did you get those?!" Hiro points at all four of them, his other hand slapped against his forehead.

"G-Get what? Spit i-it o-out," Toko bites her thumb.

"Those piercings!"

Mukuro furrows her brows and, before she knows it, she's inside of Hina's bathroom. In the mirror, Mukuro checks her reflection.

Eyes are fine. Nose is fine. Lips are fine. Right ear: check. Left ear: check.

Wait a minute.

Mukuro leans closer to the mirror, turning her head and fixing her eyes at her left ear. A thin ring is pierced through the shell of her ear, something Junko once called a "helix piercing".

She lifts her hand and pokes the flamed red area, but she hisses and pulls away once her finger makes contact.

Did… she have a piercing? After getting… high from weed?

"Son of a bitch…" Mukuro curses, coming out of the bathroom.

Toko is pale. Paler than she already is. She's cupping her hand over her left ear and glaring at a sheepish Leon.

"Think of it as friendship bracelets but for… earrings, um…" Leon clears his throat and backs away.

Hina bounces. "I think it's awesome! A perfect sign of the friendship us weed smokers have!"

"Wh-What about me?!"

"C'mon dad, you're not cool enough for earrings like this," Hina teases as she fixes her messed up hair into her iconic ponytail that defies gravity.

Hiro deflates. "But I'm cool with the kids…"

Mukuro chuckles. "Are we going to hide them or anything?"

"Hell no! This is our symbol of unity and friendship!" Leon raises his fist in the air before slacking it and stretching it out in front of him. "From now on, we five are gonna be known as 'HIFAK'! Who's with me?!"

"Uh… HIFAK?" Hiro scratches his chin, but places his hand on top of Leon's.

"Hagakure, Ikusaba, Fukawa, Asahina, and Kuwata! Duh!" The orange haired male shouts proudly.

Hina slaps her hand on top of Hiro's. "This will be so much fun!"

"Ah, this is a… 'squad goals' thing, correct?" Mukuro places her hand on Hina's.

Their eyes turn to Toko, who lets her ear show. She's glaring at the circle, specifically the pile of hands in the center of the four. If she stares any longer, their hands might catch fire. Then she puts her uninjured hand on Mukuro's.

"... If I s-said no, you would f-follow me a-around all day u-until I said y-yes," She sighs. The rarest hint of a smile tugs at her lips. "Whatever…"

"On the count of three, we say 'go squad! Ready? One, two, three!" Hina grins.

"Go squad!" Their hands shoot up in a typical cheer, or whatever it's called. Mukuro has no clue.

Leon pats Hiro's chest. "If I'm right, then we pierced our ears later after you left. I have the equipment for it, so we can give you one,"

Hiro pumps his fist in excitement.

"In that case, we'll head to the restaurant and obtain a table with five seats," Mukuro nods her head. She cups her chin with a smirk. "Our objective has been updated, girls."

Hina laughs as the three girls leave Hina's cottage. "This is so awesome! Can I be the leader of the squad?!"

"You have th-the best leadership s-skills out of all f-five of us…" Toko mumbles.

"As leader, I declare we do not care if the others mention our new bling," Hina grins and tucks a lock of hair behind her ear. She hisses.

"Affirmative," Mukuro states, and she's smiling slightly. "What could be the worst that happens?"


"I'm sorry, let me get this straight," Kyoko folds her arms across her chest and stares down at the table of five.

This is the worst thing that could happen. Now, Kyoko isn't yelling, more like speaking in a slow and obviously sarcastic tone, but her eyes are fire. Burning through each of the five students' gaze easily, efficiently, and scarily.

Kyoko doesn't sound mad, no. She sounds disappointed. Like one of Mukuro's commanders to the rookies. The soldier was never on the receiving end of their disappointment before, but now she knows how the rookies must feel. Shriveled up with guilt and bashfulness.

"You five decided to get matching ear piercings to show off the deep bond of friendship you all have," It isn't phrased as a question.

Hina squeaks under the gaze of nearly every student besides the four at her side. "Ah, that's--"

"And not only that," Kyoko sighs. "You five slept together?"

"D-Don't make me s-sound like a wh-whore! We just sl-slept in the same b-bed, not…" Toko flushes. She dopily holds her face. "not l-like in the way I-I dream of sl-sleeping with Master…"

Byakuya gags.

"Actually, I never slept with them!" Hiro raises his hands.

Mukuro buries her face in her hands. This is embarrassing…

"How did you all even get your ears pierced?" Makoto scratches his cheek.

Four sets of eyes look at Leon. He slowly raises his hand.

Sakura sighs. "At least none of them did something horrible like…"

It goes unsaid, but everyone feels the weight of the next word on their shoulders. Murder. Sakura's talking about the possibility of murder.

"Like murder?!" A sudden appearance of Monokuma strikes the group in the gut. He's sitting on a chair next to Byakuya and holding his stomach. "That's what you were going to say, right? Puhuhu… by the looks on your faces, I hit the ball outta the park! Right, Babe Ruth?"

Leon sneers.

Celeste hums. "Do you have something to tell us? If not, leave,"

'H-Hey, now, you can't talk to your precious headmaster like that!" The bear huffs and storms down the stairs instead of teleporting away.

Hina sighs and rests her cheek against her fist. "I don't get it. How can someone like watching people kill each other?"

"This is a game, swimmer. Monokuma is doing this to satisfy the growing need inside of him," Byakuya says.

"I-I have a growing n-need for you, Master…"

"You disgust me, wench,"

"So, what, we just play his sick and twisted game?! No thanks!" Hina stands from her seat, fired up. "I got some friends and we're building trust together! We don't need to follow Monokuma and his disgusting want for murder!"

Mukuro smiles. "What Hina says is correct. Defying Monokuma and this killing game should stop everything,"

"The squad is agreeing to everything!" Leon rises from his chair and smirks.

Mukuro rises and grins. "Y-Yes! The squad is here!"

Sayaka sweatdrops. "What the…"

"Damn straight! Count us in!" Hiro laughs and stands as well, throwing Toko into his arms while she squeals.

"Jesus Christ, they look like Power Rangers…"

"This is amazing!" Hifumi cups his face while squirming in place. "The group is coming together to combat a fierce enemy! As they level up--"

"Shut up, nobody cares," Celeste glares sideways at Hifumi.

Leon cackles. "And as long as our leader, Aoi Asahina, leads us in union, hell won't catch up to us!"

"It's 'unity', n-not 'u-union'," Toko grumbles.

"HIFAK is strong! We won't go down without a fight!" Leon continues.

"Yeah!" The newly formed group, excluding Toko, chants.

All in all, breakfast afterwards went well. Mukuro hopes it did, at least, for she doesn't want Byakuya and Celeste to continue to glare at her group like they're close to snapping.

A thought comes to Mukuro's mind. Then a sudden chill along her hands. She glances down in puzzlement only to notice the lack of gloves on her hands. How did she manage to forget the fact that she doesn't have her gloves on? But… if she never saw them at Hina's cottage, then they must still be at the library.

She lightly elbows Leon's arm. "Hey, did you happen to leave your… bowl at the library?"

The orange haired male seems surprised for a moment, eyebrows raised and mouth slightly open. He furrows his brows together in thought.

"Y'know, now that I think about it, I totally did. Didn't see the damn thing at Hina's, so it's still at the library," He pouts out his bottom lip and leans in. Mukuro, for a slight moment, thought she heard someone growl, but she brushed it off. "Can you get it for me, please? I'll do anything!"

"Anything?" Mukuro doesn't intend to use his favor yet, so she'll hold onto it. "OK. I'll be right back."

Mukuro stands and walks out of the restaurant. She leaves the first island and goes through the central island to the second island.

Her mind wanders while she strolls down the paths calmly. A new group to "hang out" with and "chill" with. It seems too good to be true.

Mukuro laughs slightly as she pushes the door to the library open. Her light purple eyes notice the lack of the fort from last night, leaving behind a clean area.

Right, Monomi helped to move the stuff back. It's what she vaguely remembers, anyway.

The soldier makes her way over to the back of the library only to stop once she is between the table and the corner the group was using.

"Didn't… Weren't the gloves still in the fort when we smoked?" Mukuro asks no one.

Yes, she took her gloves off in order to have her nails painted last night. They did so while still inside of the fort, but her gloves aren't there.

An uneasy churn develops in the bottom of her stomach.

Maybe she left them on the table where Leon's bowl should be. Yes, that should be the case.

But as she turns and shuffles to the table, the only objects on the wooden surface are the two books Hiro brought. Mukuro ducks under the table and searches on the seats of each chair, yet the bowl and her gloves aren't there.

There is no need to panic. Panic will cause others to believe Mukuro is unreliable, and she can't have that. She needs to be useful and protect Junko.

Monomi must have put them in their respective rooms. There isn't any other explanation. Mukuro eliminates any other logical choice from her head.

… For now, Mukuro can spend some time with other people to keep the discord out of her chest.

Who should she hang out with?

The first person to pop into Mukuro's head is the detective, Kyoko Kirigiri. She's an enigma to Mukuro, and she's mildly suspicious of her being the traitor due to the fact of her father being the headmaster. But Junko seems to really like her, so she won't say anything harmful.

Mukuro goes to walk out of the library and find the detective, but the door opens before she has the chance to leave. Instead of it conveniently being Kyoko, Byakuya stands in the library.

He sniffs the air and crinkles his nose. "I will never get used to that smell,"

"Wh-What smell?" Mukuro questions to try and ward him away from the conversation of weed.

"You're smart, so you figure it out. This is a library, after all,"

A smell associated with libraries? Ah, he must be talking about that , then.

"Oh, you must mean the old book smell," Mukuro, seeing the slight nod of approval, beams. "It isn't very pleasant, especially with as many books as there are in here."

"No, it is not. Hmph. If only there was air freshener or something to make that pungent smell go away," The heir pinches the bridge of his nose. He glances up. "Soldier, tell me--what was it like to be in Fenrir?"

"I beg your pardon?" Mukuro startles slightly. She was about to go around Byakuya and exit the library, but she's still stuck in the middle of the library.

The blond scoffs and rolls his eyes. "What was it like to be in Fenrir? Granted, I only know of the group from reports, but it doesn't compare to an in-person account,"

Surprised, Mukuro stands still with her jaw dropped. Byakuya wants to know about Fenrir…

"Well, the commander was strict. Most of us were fighting because we wanted to, while others wanted fame," Mukuro taps her chin. "Everyday was a fight, but the bases with rookies didn't have many opportunities to fight until they earned their tattoo.

"It was bloodshed,"

Byakuya pushes his glasses up. "I see. The report was correct in stating everything you told me… How boring," He crosses his arms. "Next time, tell me something that will interest me. Not some soldier's tales of rookies and reasons for fighting."

Byakuya walks farther into the library, leaving enough space for Mukuro to slip out.

Although he criticized her passion, Mukuro feels, somewhat, as if she's grown closer to the male.

Her e-Handbook chimes.

Mukuro taps through her e-Handbook, searching for Kyoko's whereabouts. As she looks at the map, she nods and heads to the central island. Kyoko is at Jabberwock Park by herself.

Once she arrives at Jabberwock Park, Mukuro instantly catches Kyoko standing in front of the Monokuma timer. She walks towards her and stands at her side, staring up at the enormous object.

Then Kyoko begins to talk. "I have been wondering for a while,"

"Yes?" Mukuro prompts after the detective's brief pause.

"In a situation of bloodshed and violence, you seem to be the most scared out of all of us despite being a soldier. Is it because of Junko?"

"I… I suppose it is the best way to put it," The soldier says. Her body feels stiff and uncomfortable. "I love Junko so much, and I don't know what I would do if something were to happen to her."

The silence grows loud in both girls' ears. Mukuro swallows quietly. Did she say something to make Kyoko uncomfortable?

"... To lose someone you love so much. Junko is your sister, so you would probably have a mental breakdown since your twin would be dead," Kyoko states in a stiff tone, lavender eyes slightly clouded over. "To have someone so close to you gone in an instance…"

Mukuro looks at Kyoko with furrowed brows. She's speaking as if something like this has happened to her in the past. Has Kyoko lost someone important to her?

"But you're strong, so I believe you could overcome the pain,"

"Um… Kyoko, you're…" Mukuro struggles to bring her words to light. "Have you lost someone?"

Kyoko glances at Mukuro for a long few seconds, dragging the time along unbearably slow. Mukuro wants to shrivel under her gaze like earlier, but she finds she stands her ground.

"... Another time,"

"Huh?"

"I'll talk to you another time," Kyoko turns back to the timer and falls silent once more.

Mukuro sighs and walks away. She stops before she reaches the exit of Jabberwock Park, throwing a look over her shoulder.

Kyoko is still standing there, as if she's frozen in time. Her gloved hands are twitching slightly, and Mukuro wouldn't have noticed it if it weren't for the tremble of the detective's shoulders.

Though Kyoko is still a mystery to the soldier, Mukuro feels as if she's grown closer to the detective.

Her e-Handbook chimes.

Mukuro walks away and across the bridge to the first island. She wants to relax on the beach for a while and think.

Once she arrives at the golden beach, the soldier plops down underneath a palm tree and looks to the sky. The sun's golden beams strike her face and warm her skin, causing her to let a soft hum leave her mouth.

Sitting on the beach, alone, Mukuro's thoughts wander. Specifically, they wander to Junko.

She was acting so… strange yesterday. As if a sudden virus came and left her body. Her sister was emotionless and pale, eyes dead. What happened? She should've talked to Junko yesterday…

"Oh, hey. Didn't think you'd be here,"

Mukuro turns to see Junko. What a coincidence…

Junko looks the same. Her hair is in it's usual pigtails and her blazer is clean with no wrinkles on the fabric.

But… her eyes. She isn't wearing her blue contacts anymore, her eyes now her original dark red color. Junko doesn't normally have her contacts out, wanting to keep the crystal blue color close to her at all times.

Mukuro waves her over, patting the sand next to her. Junko walks over and stands looming over the soldier to stare down at the empty spot. She blinks once before sitting with her legs pulled under her.

Silence…

"Sorry if I worried you yesterday. It was not my intention," Junko robotically states.

Mukuro fiddles her thumbs together, biting the skin from her lips. "Are you OK, though?"

Junko furrows her brows in thought. Slowly she nods.

"Yeah… Yeah, I just had a bad daydream yesterday, and I can't move past it. It was sick and twisted," The fashionista taps her fingers against her bracelets. She scowls.

"What… was it about?"

"I think we tried to murder each other. And there was someone so familiar to me, but I can't remember their face," Junko sighs and rubs her eyes.

Mukuro makes a small noise in the back of her throat in sympathy.

"So, what's up with you? Not wearing those trashy gloves anymore?" Junko cracks a small smirk as her eyes flicker to the side.

"Ah, I just lost them somewhere, but I'll find them… By the way, why aren't you wearing your contacts?"

"I just… wanted to try to remember something," She snorts. "Turns out I kinda like having them out. Might dye my hair back red."

Mukuro smiles and takes her sister's hand in her own. "I think you'd look good either way,"

"Ugh, that's so cheesy… Since I am now lactose intolerant, I'm leaving and throwing up that sentimental trash," Junko pretends to gag as she stands and rips her hand away from Mukuro's. "You have fun, I guess. By the way, I smell the lingering weed on you. Toodles!"

Junko walks off without the skip in her step, leaving behind her shocked twin sister. Mukuro gapes at Junko's back before laughing.

In the back of her mind, she knows she needs to talk to Junko more, but her sister seems to avoid her. Mukuro can't help but feel insecure deep down, knowing her sister would rather be with other people than her sister.

But she's still proud at how Junko takes her life in her hands.

Her e-Handbook chimes.

Chapter Text

"Whatever you're thinking about, stop it," Wvgvxgrev snaps at the other person in the room.

The other person blinks, but she doesn't say anything at first. A few minutes go by with the static crackling in the air. Wvgvxgrev is still glaring at Hlorgzib.

"I can't help but admire how... peculiar you are, but I apologize," Hlorgzib nods her head and falls silent.

"You have the wrong idea... it isn't myself that is peculiar, but you," Wvgvxgrev crosses her arms across her chest. "Tell me, why aren't you trying to kill me right now? Wouldn't the despair from it feel amazing?"

Hlorgzib simply shrugs her shoulders.

Wvgvxgrev grunts. "Pathetic,"

"It isn't myself who is pathetic, Wvgvxgrev. No, I didn't kill anyone because I know the road we're on,"

"Did Xozrielbzmg tell you that?"

"You should know better than to ask questions like that,"

The air grows tenser.

***

Junko rubs her temples, trying to figure the message out in her head. Her memory has been jumbled and fuzzy ever since she first stepped on the second island. It's strange.

Drawing her bottom lip between her teeth, the fashionista sighs. She just left Mukuro sitting on the beach, and now she's idly roaming the rest of the first island.

Junko cannot help but wonder if Jabberwock Island has some sort of military surrounding them to keep them in. Clearly, this killing school field trip has to be funded and guarded by someone. But who…?

It could be Fenrir, yes, but Junko knows from her sister's tales that Fenrir tends to stay in one specific area before moving in the direction of the enemy. Mukuro said something about "hunting" but she's just a furry, so what would she know?

The fashionista arrives at the hotel, and she strolls to the restaurant.

"Celestia Ludenberg. Celestia… Ludenberg…"

Junko comes to a stop and glances around the area in slight confusion. She sees Celeste standing near the entrance to the restaurant by the stairs, eyes close with her simple smile on her face. What the hell is she doing?

"Yo, Celeste," Junko calls out as she lightly jogs towards the gambler. Celeste opens her eyes, sees Junko, and frowns.

"Junko," She tilts her head to the side, quickly building her mask in place. "Would you like to partake in a gamble with me?"

Junko's eyebrows raise slightly. "... Sure. Why the hell not?"

Celeste pulls a deck of cards from her blazer pocket before leaving to go up the stairs and into the restaurant. Junko follows after her. With her analyst abilities, could she manage to win a match against Celeste?

In the restaurant, Junko notices Hina and Sakura at a small table by a window. Hina's eating donuts--more like stuffing them in her mouth--and Sakura is calmly talking to her with a gentle smile.

Wow. Is everyone on this island in love with someone or something?

Celeste sits down at a two person table, leaving the other seat open for Junko to take. Junko sits down.

"We are going to play blackjack while we talk,"

"Whatever, Yumeko Jabami, I'm just here to beat you," Junko takes a slight pause because who the hell is Yumeko Jabami and how does she know that name?

Celeste smirks. "Confident, I see. No matter. I will beat you because I have the ultimate gambling strategy," She says as she passes two cards (one up, one down) to both Junko and herself after a quick shuffle.

"Ultimate gambling strategy, huh?"

"Of course. After I beat you at this game, I will tell you my strategy for winning,"

Cocky…

The round comes and goes quickly, and it leads to…

"This… is a joke," Celeste glares at the cards. She looks up at Junko. "How did you , a rotten plastic-filled fashionista, manage to tie with me?!"

From across the room, Hina and Sakura jolt at the screech.

Junko rolls her eyes out of pure boredom. "Y'know, you kept tapping your finger against the down-facing card a certain amount of times--six to be exact--so I used the data to compare to your up-facing card, which is a nine. Since you drew that six before stopping, I knew you stopped at twenty-one,"

The gambler flushes an angry shade of red. "But, how--"

"Did I tie with you? Simple," A large grin crawls up the fashionista's face. "I gambled for it."

"... It seems as if I found myself a worthy opponent," Celeste scowls as she says this, but it cools into her neutral smile. "I applaud your wit, Junko. Maybe we can play some other time as well."

"I got a question for you, Celeste,"

"Oh?"

Junko leans back in her chair, eyes fixed onto Celeste's crimson eyes. "Why the hell are you so insecure that you put up that front?"

"Hmm. I believe I could ask you the same question," Celeste retorts, twirling her hair.

Junko's trying to see a different perspective so she can answer her own thoughts and insecurities.

"You could, yeah, but I'm asking you,"

Celeste watches Junko just as intensely as the latter is watching her. Junko smirks and raises her brow. The gambler stands and collects her cards.

"Thank you for playing with me, and I look forward to our next match, Junko," Celeste smiles tightly. "Have a nice day."

Junko stares at the surface of the table as Celeste leaves, contemplating whether or not she should punch the living daylights out of Celeste.

Her e-Handbook chimes.

Rising from her chair, Junko stretches her arms up and groans. God, she needs a manicure and a massage.

Junko cracks her knuckles as she walks out of the restaurant and towards the cottages. As soon as she steps onto the path near Hina's cottage…

"C'mon, tell me the offender so I can punish them!"

… Monokuma appears and is yelling at Toko, waving his arms around. Toko is screeching, arms in the air and teetering backwards.

Junko steps between Toko and Monokuma, sending a glare down at the two foot tall bear. "Hey, what gives?"

Monokuma unsheathes his claws. "Somebody broke the swimmer's lock!"

Junko turns to see Hina's door slightly open and the knob broken. She furrows her brows and narrows her eyes.

"Dumbass… From the looks of it, the lock was weak in the first place; so if it was broken, it clearly wasn't intentional,"

"Are you lying to me?!"

In response, the fashionista raises her eyebrow and purses her lips. Monokuma sweats under her gaze.

"With such an ironically sassy face… ah, it reminds me of when I used to love those shows where the protagonist had faces like that," Monokuma cackles. "But I found a much more lovely face in despair! Upupupu… Puhuhuhuhuhu!

"Oh well, if the analyst said the doorknob wasn't broken on purpose, maybe I won't need to punish someone,"

The way Monokuma smiles and backs away before disappearing sends shivers down Junko's spine.

"Why d-did you save me f-from him?" Junko turns around, remembering Toko is there once she spoke. Toko is furrowing her brows together, picking at the bandages on her right hand.

Junko hesitates before answering. "I dunno. Seeing you being yelled at like that… brings back some memories,"

Memories she'd rather not try to remember. A time before Hope's Peak Academy and before Mukuro went off to join a military in the Middle East.

… It was shitty, though.

Toko hums. "I-I see…"

"Can I ask you something, Toko?"

"Wh-What is it?"

Junko watches the girl closely as she trembles subconsciously before her. This question is something she's been dying to ask since this morning. Her mind has been analyzing the situation over and over, but she knows it won't be satisfied until an answer is given.

"Why the hell do you trust those idiots so much? With your paranoia, I'd figure they'd be blackmailing you into hanging out with them; however," The fashionista pauses to cross her arms and tilt her head. "you don't seem the slightest bit worried. Not like you usually are."

"That's…" Toko bites her lip. "I'm n-not sure… Something in the b-back of my m-mind told me I-I should trust them. That nothing b-bad would happen to m-me."

Junko watches as Toko becomes unsure of herself, swaying on her feet and clicking her tongue.

"It's l-like… this has h-happened before," Toko trails off.

The strawberry blonde picks up on the writer's wording, so she knows exactly what she's talking about.

"Like deja vu, right?" Junko laughs. "Yeah, like, that shit's pretty wack. I gotta say, you're taking the whole pothead situation good."

Toko flushes before she scowls. "I-I am not a p-pothead! We only sm-smoked once! One i-inhale!"

"Sure, Jan,"

"What? M-My name isn't--"

"Bye, Jan!" Junko skips away and out of the hotel, cackling as Toko grumbles loud enough for her to hear.

Hsr e-Handbook chimes.

As Junko walks on the path towards the supermarket, she nearly passes by Byakuya. Oh, he should be fun to annoy!

"Byakuya! Hang out with me!"

Byakuya stops in his path, slowly turning around and raising his eyebrow. Junko sees in his hands a small toolkit he must've gotten from the hardware store.

"Hang out?" He says as if he's never heard of the term before. Then he chuckles. "I don't have time for this."

"I'll do anything!"

"Anything?" Byakuya folds his arms across his chest and lifts his chin. "If you want to spend time with someone in higher status than you, maybe you should drop to your knees and kick my shoes."

Oh, God, does he have some sort of foot or boot fetish? Or does he like seeing weaker people on their knees? Those are both bad…

Junko curls her lips. "Are you pulling on my dick? Seriously?"

"It's a fair price to pay,"

"How about we hang out, and I don't tell everyone you like Makoto," Junko snickers at the way the hair's eyes widen dramatically. He blushes and quickly adjusts his glasses. "Well?"

"... Deal,"

"Yay!"

"But I want to ask you a question," Byakuya waits for Junko to stop groaning in annoyance before speaking. "Your ultimate title. How did you manage to convince the board to dismiss your analytical abilities in favor of being the Ultimate Fashionista?"

Junko blinks. "Oh, that? Apparently, they just thought I was a dumb blonde on a magazine cover and made me the Ultimate Fashionista,"

The male doesn't seem impressed. "They… dismissed your intelligence because you were a model?"

"Yep,"

"I would, too, to be honest. You don't look the type to be smart," He ignores the offended cry from the strawberry blonde. "But I suppose looks can deceive. Even the board of Hope's Peak, known for recruiting talent, was deceived by you.

"I must applaud you, Junko, for proving that looks can be deceiving,"

Junko frowns at the suspiciously suspicious way Byakuya continues to talk.

"In fact…" Byakuya sets his face neutral before nodding. "Of course."

"Huh?"

The heir scowls. "Nothing. You just made me realize something important I need to do. Good day," He turns his back on her and begins to walk away. Instead of heading towards the hotel where he was previously going, Byakuya is heading towards--if she guessed correctly--the first island bridge.

Waving and slightly bemused, Junko calls out to the heir. "Uh, yeah! No problem, Rich Mitch!"

Her e-Handbook chimes.

Sighing dramatically, Junko slumps over to the supermarket and goes inside. She glances through the shelves and throughout the aisles to find something to cure her boredom. Unfortunately, nothing is enough to catch her eyes.

That is until she sees a mysterious piece of paper sticking out of a shelf full of mugs. Full of curiosity, Junko slides the paper away from the mugs and into her hands. Her eyes rake over the paper.

Phase one is done-zo! On to phase two!

… Huh? Junko's eyes zero in on the penmanship on the paper, but she cannot match the writing to what she has already seen. Is this a new person nobody has seen before? Could it be… the mastermind?

The monitor inside of the supermarket turns on.

"Um, This is an announcement from Hope's Peak Academy's Field Trip Executive Committee… Emergency! Emergency! You bastards’ presence is urgently requested at Jabberwock Park! Hurry up! I will treat the student who arrives the fastest to my special curry rice tomorrow evening! I said, hurry up!"

Junko continues to stare at the piece of paper before folding it and slipping it inside of her blazer pocket. Her eyes roam around until they lock onto a random clock. It's only seven pm… and there's an emergency?

Deep down, Junko knows it's most likely another scheme cooked up by Monokuma to drive some sucker to murder another sucker. Only the victim sucker sucks more because they were killed, and that's why they're the suckiest sucker to ever sucker on this sucky planet that sucks.

Wow, she probably needs to rant more.

Taking off from the supermarket, Junko skips from the first island to the central one. Her eyes lock onto each person in Jabberwock Park once she arrives.

"Damn, I'm late!" Junko throws up a peace sign. "Guess that means I get to be punished! Who's gonna be the one to spank me?"

Leon snorts but manages to hide his smirk.

"Hey, Junko. You aren't late at all," Mukuro greets her with a small smile.

Junko pouts at her. "So… I'm not gonna be spanked?"

"Of course not!" Hina exclaims as she flushes a dark red. She clears her throat. "You weren't late, after all. Not to brag or anything, buuut… I got here first! I hope the curry turns out to be amazing!"

Kyoko sighs. "Actually, I was here first, but you can have the curry,"

Hina deflates.

"Do you think he's giving another motive?" Sayaka asks as she grips the pink bow on her chest. Her face ashens. "Those sentences, even if two were false, were awful to look at."

"Tell me about it," Hiro scratches his chin, brows furrowed in thought. "Mine said something about me being the mastermind! Hard to believe, y'know?"

"Yes, it is. Because you have such a low IQ, most of us have already ruled you out as being the mastermind or the traitor," Byakuya states.

Hiro deflates slightly.

"If Monokuma gathered us here, then he must have a specific goal in mind," Sakura looks away and tightens her folded arms across her chest.

Makoto cups his chin. "A specific goal… Sakura, do you think Monokuma is gonna give us a motive to kill again?"

Sakura says nothing, but the tenderness of her shoulders screams a myriad of unspoken words.

"T-To… kill. Ha… hahaha…" Chihiro covers her face in her hands and giggles. "So funny, it's just so funny! I'll have to vote for my friends again! Watch someone else die!"

Junko grimaces. "Or, y'know, you could not vote for the killer? I guess?" She places her hands on her hips. "But you're the kind of person to come around."

Chihiro continues to chuckle to herself.

"But Sakura is right, Monokuma has been pretty silent since the last trial," Kyoko taps her finger against her chin and stares at the timer. "We've barely seen him and Monomi."

"Well, actually--" Junko tries to explain how she saw the monochromatic bear harassing Toko in front of Hina's cottage, but someone else gets in her way.

"Hell, good riddance! Monokuma won't stand a chance against HIFAK since we could kick his ass any day!" Leon crosses his arms and smirks proudly. "Even now!"

"Oh? I wouldn't stand a chance right now?"

Leon lets out a terribly girly shriek, scrambling away and tripping over his feet. He curls into a ball and screams at the bear who appeared behind him.

"Y-You stupid bear! You can't just sneak up on me like that! What if I fucking kicked your ass and then got punished?!" Leon screeches.

Monokuma growls at the baseball player, pointing his paw at him. "Hey, all I heard was you bastards planning a sneak attack on me! Not cool, by the way," He turns depressed, looking away from the group. "What if I had some cubs at home I had to take care of and this killing game is my only financial aid? Ungrateful!"

Junko rolls her eyes. "Uh huh. Like you could have kids,"

He couldn't have kids anyway unless he built them himself. He's a robotic bear!

"I can be a great father!" The bear growls. "In fact, I'll go make kids right--"

"Th-This is so stupid…" Leon mutters as he shoves himself off of the ground to stand next to Toko. She glares at him but says nothing.

Monokuma throws his arm behind his head and winks. "So, anyway! I have something extremely important to tell you all!"

"What is it?" Hifumi asks, gripping the straps of his backpack. Sweat drips from his face.

"It's about the timer!"

The timer? Junko glances up at the timer and narrows her eyes, trying to see what Monokuma is talking about.

"What about the timer?" Mukuro cocks her head to the side, brows furrowed.

The monochromatic bear sighs. "None of you ever pay attention. The first batch was insane, but you guys suck! You all aren't good killers or noticers!"

"Could it be…" Makoto tilts his head up and stands on his tip toes, glaring slightly at the timer. Finally his eyes flip to Monokuma. "the timer has more days on it than it previously had before?"

Junko leans to the side to see past Hiro's hair, staring intensely at the days on the timer. Yeah, the lucky boy is right. She could've sworn there were only about nineteen days left before the explosion or something. What gives?

"Good job, Makoto! Gold star!" Monokuma slaps a bloody star sticker on Makoto's cheek, and most of the students grimace or look away. Junko stares at the star in slight puzzlement. What's the significance of the star that has everyone so… blah?

"A certain naughty person has been messing with my timer settings, but I can't figure out who it is! There's more time on the clock now!" The bear stops his feet and kicks up small dirt clouds. How he did so in concrete, Junko doesn't know. "Grah! It must've been that pesky traitor!

"Buuut, I have two more things to talk about!" He perks back up from his previously angry and growling state. "Second of all, I haven't seen Monomi anywhere! It's like she disappeared off the island!"

Hiro sweats and tugs at the collar of his shirt. "Uh, I saw Monomi last night, but she was acting kinda weird,"

"Weird how?" Kyoko turns her attention to Hiro, speaking for the first time in a while.

"I dunno. She was saying something about walls moving and time flying," He places his hands on his hips. "I think she needs a proper reading to know what she saw."

Kyoko says nothing, staring at the clairvoyant. She nods her head once and turns back to Monokuma.

The monochromatic bear taps his paw against his chin. "Interesting. So my little sister has been avoiding me and getting into trouble," He growls and throws his arms up. "Despicable! Doesn't she know she can go to jail for bad behavior?!"

Junko sweatdrops. And making teenagers (and one adult) off each other won't land you in jail? What kind of logic does this bear have?

"I'll deal with my little sister later, but now… is the grand reveal! The new motive!"

Any symbol of hope that radiated in her chest is immediately splashed away by the bucket of ice water. The warmth fading to a chilling cold and leaving her numb, eyes wide with disbelief yet anger that she had the audacity to hope for anything is this shitty situation.

"Thaaat's right! Your next motive iiisss…!" He blushes and glances away. "Not here, but on the second island!"

Byakuya tuts. "Then why bring us here? Why not go to the second island?"

"B-Because the antagonist is supposed to stay consistent with where they reveal the motives!"

The antagonist is consistent where they reveal the motives…

"No more complaining or I'll rock ya! And I'll sock ya! And I won't give you the curry!"

Hina gasps and clenches her fists, ponytail spiking. "Y-You're too cruel!"

The bear cackles. "Ah-hahahaha! Sooo… The motive is… your memories!"

… That's it? Everyone is just supposed to find their memories on the second island, remember the traitor or something, and then what? Kill someone?

"Hey, hey, hey, why the weird looks! I'm being nice here and proving that Monomi erased your memories!"

"Where exactly did you hide our memories?" Celeste asks, but by the dimness of her red eyes, she doesn't believe a word Monokuma is saying.

Monokuma shrugs. "I have no idea! All I know is that they're inside of the A-Maze-Ing Maze! They moved around themselves, y'know?"

"You're saying our m-memories are walking around in the maze…" Chihiro mumbles to herself, biting her knuckle. Her eyes shine with doubt.

"D-Don't listen to a creep like him! He tried to peek in on me and Toko's bath!" Hina shouts.

"He what?!" Sakura suddenly turns angry.

Toko growls and flushes red. "S-Stop telling everyone a-about the bath! And y-you need to work o-on your grammar!"

Leon rolls his eyes. "We shouldn't listen to Monokuma, right, Hina?"

"Of course not! By the power invested in me and HIFAK, I hereby declare that nobody is gonna see their motive!" Hina crosses her arms and ignores a few cries of anger.

Sayaka is especially angry. "Y-You and your group can't just decide what we can and can't do! What if I want to know the last two years?"

"Sayaka, please calm down!" Makoto begs his blue-haired friend.

"But Makoto, she can't decide for us! It's not right!" Sayaka turns to Mukuro with a pleading gaze. "You agree with me… right, Mukuro?"

Mukuro stands between Sayaka and HIFAK, eyes wide. She's clearly torn. Junko feels bad for her sister.

"I-I…" The soldier looks between Sayaka and her group.

Hina flushes an angry red. "C'mon, Mukuro, we're the squad! Defying Monokuma can keep the rest of us alive! I want everyone else to live!"

"Don't listen to her, she's just trying to control you!" Sayaka sneers at the swimmer, surprising many at how quick her switch from nice to angry is.

Mukuro closes her eyes and covers her ears with her bare hands.

Junko watches as everything turns to shit. It's mildly concerning yet entertaining at the same time.

Hiro bites his bottom lip. "Uh, Hina, if they wanna do what they wanna do--"

Hina rounds on the man, tears building in her clear blue eyes. "Hiro, this is for us to survive! We can wait for the police o-or some soldiers… authority figures to figure out where we are!" She shakes her head and glares at those not in her group. "They just don't get it!"

Sakura flinches at the glare directed at her. "Hina… I do agree with you--"

"Thank you, Sakura!" The swimmer lets out a relieved sigh. But her calm doesn't last long.

"--but the others do have a right to their own memories. You should not interfere with their decision…"

Hina freezes, the tears that have been gathering and building in her eyes are falling down her tan cheeks. She silently cries in front of the surviving students, but her eyes are glaring at Sakura.

"I-I thought you'd agree with me on this! Y-You just wanna watch someone else get executed, is that it?!" Hina spits mercilessly. Sakura clenches her jaw as Hina storms up to her, silvers eyes soft and faltering. "Screw you! You're just as bad as Byakuya!"

Sakura takes a step back. A shadow forms over her eyes. "... So that's how you see me for disagreeing with you," She nods once and turns, walking away.

Hina watches her go. She whips back around, eyes broken and wet with tears. "I think we're all in agreement," Hina's words ring out, echoing. Even Monokuma is slightly surprised by the turn of events if his wide beady eyes says anything.

Mukuro bites her nails in trepidation, looking towards Sayaka. The idol shakes her head and walks off with Makoto trying to stop her and talk. The soldier trembles in her place and runs off.

Junko awkwardly clears her throat. "That didn't go well,"

"You think?!" Leon runs his fingers through his hair and groans.

Kyoko sighs. "The conflict wasn't necessary. Hina," The swimmer folds her arms across her chest and looks at the detective. "I want you to apologize to Sakura. I know you want to keep the others safe, but caging them like animals won't help anything. Losing two people like that so suddenly is hard, and it's better to stay close, not drive each other away."

"I... I am the leader of HIFAK, and I am keeping us close and safe!" She yells out. Junko wonders if Hina knows she's doing the opposite of what she's saying. "And what would you know about loss?! You look like you've never lost anyone in your entire life!"

Junko sees red once her eyes catch the slight shift in Kyoko's eyes. She's uncomfortable and… guilty? No, screw Hina.

"Hey, Hina, shut the hell up before I knock the shit outta you," Junko grits her teeth.

Hina rolls her eyes. "So you lost the rich girl, stupid chick persona, huh, Junko? Or is that just another persona you have?!"

Junko flinches and takes a slight step back. This… bitch. Calm down… Hina's just traumatized and hurting, and she's starting to show it more. Probably because of the late night weed smoking.

Junko shakes her head. "Whatever… I'm going to bed. HIFAK probably needs a new leader if this one is so explosive and butthurt about others' opinions,"

The fashionista walks away, hurrying to leave the central island. She nearly passes by Sayaka yelling and crying about her band members at Mukuro with Makoto between them, acting as a bodyguard.

Junko stops. "Mukuro, come here. Now,"

The soldier hurriedly backs up, almost tripping on her boots. Sayaka collapses into Makoto, holding him tight and crying into his jacket.

Junko grabs onto Mukuro's wrist, dragging her towards the first island and their cottages. The soldier tries to protest when they both enter Junko's cottage, but the fashionista scowls at her sister.

"For once, can you not leave me for something else!" Junko screams.

Mukuro freezes at the hurt in Junko's voice, calming down enough to sit on the edge of the bed. She plays with her fingers, and Junko notices the scratches on the back of her sister's tattooed hand and the unnatural shortness of her nails.

"I-I'm sorry, I just thought…"

"You thought what?" Junko swallows the lump in her throat, glaring into light purple eyes. "That small hamster in your tiny brain is alive and kicking? For some idiot who managed to solve the last class trial, you are pathetic."

Mukuro flinches.

"Why did you leave me to go fight in a fucking war?! You left me alone! I was alone and had no one!" She shakes her head. "And the one time I actually trust you won't run away, you try to run away! Fuck!"

"J-Junko…" Mukuro springs up and pulls her sister into a strong hug, crying into her shoulder. "I'm so sorry… please, I'm so sorry…"

Junko stays silent, listening idly as her older sister breaks down in her arms.

"I don't know what to do… I don't know what to do…" She sobs. "T-Tell me what to do, please! I n-need to know what to do!"

Junko, after considering kicking Mukuro out of her cottage and never speaking to her again, returns the tight hug. She shakily breaths out and shakes her head.

"Y'know I can't do that, I'm not a general… but you can sleep on it and tell Hina in the morning," Mukuro jerks in her arms, and Junko tightens her grip. Logically, the fashionista knows the soldier could snap her arms in half to get out of her grasp, but she won't do that.

"Sleep? Sh-Shit, we were all supposed to meet in the library at nine on the dot. Wh-What can I do--"

"Calm the fuck down," Junko pushes back and releases herself from Mukuro's weakening frame. Her mouth turns down at the tear tracks and exhaustion under the soldier's eyes. "You need sleep. We can talk in the morning."

Mukuro shakes her head. "B-But…"

"Let me look out for you for once," Junko snaps sharply before biting her tongue. Both of them don't need anymore yelling for tonight. "Just…" She waves her hand at the bed.

Without saying a word, Mukuro steps back and sits on the bed again. She shuffles back until her head hits one of Junko's pillows.

Junko sighs because Mukuro's dusty ass boots are touching her bedsheets, but she lets it go. Mukuro will kick them off eventually. Probably.

The fashionista turns her lights off and lies next to Mukuro. Both sisters stare at the ceiling in silence, tears sliding down their temples and into their hair.

This was a shitty way to end the day--arguments and people becoming divided.

Junko jolts slightly when Mukuro tightly grabs her hand and shakily exhales.

"My gloves are gone…"

"You… never found them?" There's a slight ruffle sound, so Junko assumes the soldier shook her head. "We'll look in the morning. Don't get your panties in a twist."

Mukuro painfully laughs. "You're so strong. Stronger than any of us… than me," Her voice trails off, growing whispered and airy.

"Muku, j-just go to sleep," Junko closes her eyes and stops speaking, hoping to clear the tightness from her throat.

Mukuro's breathing slowly evens out, relaxed next to her sister. Junko breathes a sigh of relief.

This day has been absolutely shitty from start to finish, Junko laments as she lifts up to pull her hair loose from its pigtails. She flops back to the bed and continues to gaze at the ceiling.

Junko's eyes collect more tears…

No… No, she can't cry. Not yet. She doesn't deserve it.

The comforting pressure in her head eases her into blinking her eyes shut, the trust growing more. The hatred Junko once had slipping away. The pain and agony finally pushing its way through. The despair of it all.

Junko sobs quietly until she cries herself to sleep.

Chapter Text

"Let's get one thing straight,"

Mukuro shrinks at the harsh tone Junko is spitting at her. She goes to scratch at the back of her hand but only hits thick layers of bandages. Right. She promised Junko as soon as they woke up that she would try to stop hurting herself via scratching.

Her nails are also filed down, just enough to keep the nail from being torn off with teeth but long enough for them not to hurt. Having her hand unavailable to scratch and nails too short to bite is strange. She has always…

Always…

That's not right.

She's never bitten her nails before. Why did she suddenly have the need to do so when her nerves shoot through her skin and fill her body with tension?

Focusing back on her sister, Mukuro realizes she must have zoned out, for Junko is standing patiently in front of her. Her hair is still down and her contacts aren't in her eyes. Mukuro knows she will seem more intimidating with her hair dyed it's original color.

"You with me?" Junko calmly waves her hand in front of the soldier's face. Mukuro leans back to avoid fingers hitting her nose. "I guess so. That's hella good."

"Hella?"

"Like, it basically means 'really'," The fashionista smirks. Mukuro has a sparkle in her eyes. "Back to what we were talking about. What was I saying?"

Mukuro frowns. "Um… getting someone straight,"

Junko snorts. "OK. Let's get one thing straight. Your lifestyle is fight or flight, but you tend to do 'flight' a little too much. Especially around me," She raises her eyebrows. "Why?"

"I-I just don't want to hurt you if you're too close… but I also want to keep you safe,"

"Dumbass, I can keep myself safe,"

"... Huh?"

Junmo scoffs and rolls her eyes. She seems mildly offended by the noise Mukuro made. "I can take care of myself. I may not know lots of fighting shit, but I got enough knowledge to defend myself,"

Mukuro's throat runs dry. "But what if you're already hurt, and--"

Junko places her hands on Mukuro's shoulders and violently shakes her. The soldier yelps and squirms but isn't let go until Junko shoves her away.

"Then I'll take care of it. No biggie, sis, I can do shit myself," Junko tilts her head. "Is that one less thing on your shoulders?"

Until she sees it herself, Mukuro will continue to keep an eye on her baby sister. For now, she nods and bites her lip.

"Great! Now we need to talk about Hina," Mukuro's eyebrows crease together. She tilts her head to the side. "Ugh, don't give me that innocent puppy look. Hina's going insane or something."

The soldier taps her fingers against the thick bandages. "What're we going to do?" Mukuro still hasn't made up her mind on what to do about Hina and her spiraling. She slept on the thought, but she needs Junko's help.

"'We'? Sorry, I don't speak French. What you're going to do is be a double agent. A Benedict Arnold," Junko crosses her arms.

"I'm going to be on Hina's side and the others' side… Affirmative," Mukuro nods. If she can pull this off, then maybe everyone will be able to get along. "I will report any new developments Hina may have against or for the group, and I will keep a lookout."

Junko nods, murmuring to herself softly. "Yeah, this plan should be great. A perfect way to stop Hina's bullshit and prevent more murder," Her deep red eyes look up from the floor, studying Mukuro intensely. "Tell me about your gloves."

"When we were… uh, hanging out at the library, we painted our nails. I took off my gloves and left them on the floor inside of the blanket fort--"

"Pfft--Blanket fort? What are you, five?"

"--and then we came out of the fort to smoke. I guess afterwards, Monomi showed up and helped move the blankets and stuff to Hina's cottage. In the morning, I searched Hina's room and then the library. After I talked with you on the beach, I searched my own room to find nothing," Mukuro finishes her explanation. Her light purple eyes dim. "The only logical conclusion is someone stole my gloves. Or they were thrown away."

The fashionista strokes her chin with pursed lips. Her lip curls slightly as she thinks about something. Mukuro notices the thought behind Junko's eyes.

"What is it?"

Junko clicks her tongue multiple times, tapping her foot against the ground. "Nothing. Just thinking about something from yesterday," She lifts her head and smiles. "No biggie, though, it's probably nothing."

Mukuro reaches up and pats Junko on the head. Junko jolts slightly and scowls.

"I know you didn't just do that,"

"Yes, I did. What, are you going to fight me because of it?"

"I might!" Junko rolls her eyes. She points to the exit to her cottage. "Now get out, loser, I need to do shit to my hair and be fashionably late to breakfast."

Mukuro stands still where she is.

"Oh, I swear to--I'll cut that pointy shit off of your head!"

The soldier reaches up and covers the ahoge on top of her head, glaring at Junko. "That's a coward's move. I could cut yours, too!"

"Ugh, you bitch! I spend so much time on my hair to keep this bitch," Junko points to the slim ahoge on top of her head. "from becoming a thing all the time! Like, my hair would grow out weird if you cut it, so don't even!"

Mukuro blankly stares at Junko while Junko stares back.

***

Mukuro walks up the stairs to the restaurant and trails behind Junko, victorious. Junko is clenching her hands tightly into fists and grumbling, but Mukuro smirks.

Junko's hair accessories are cute around both of her wrists. The bow on her left wrist and the bunny on the bandaged right.

"Hello everyone, it's us. The twins," Junko announces, glaring at Mukuro, and walks into the restaurant. Mukuro pats her on the back and takes a good look at the people in the restaurant.

Well, it's more like who isn't in the restaurant.

Aside from Byakuya, Celeste, and Hifumi, Mukuro notices a distinct lack of the rest of HIFAK at the second largest table, but she sees a pink note on the wood. Curious, the soldier goes over and picks the note up, scanning over the writing.

Hi, Kuro!

From now on, HIFAK is gonna eat at the library during breakfast! The curry's here and it's really good!

From, Dad

Hiro has some really good handwriting, now that she thinks about it. Mukuro places the note back on the table and glances around. Most people avoid her gaze and only look at her when she isn't looking at them, but others meet her stare head on.

Junko groans. "Jesus Christ! Stop being all weird about this! Talk to Mukuro!"

Mukuro stands perfectly still, wanting to flinch from everyone's sudden sharp gaze on her. The only exception is Makoto and Sayaka, somewhat.

"Did Hina send you to spy on us?" Sayaka questions, not bothering to look Mukuro in the eyes.

"Ah, no. I've been with Junko all night and this morning," The soldier bites her bottom lip. The silence is unbearable to her. "B-But I decided to help you guys."

Kyoko leans forward and rests her chin on her fist, lavender eyes observing her every move. Mukuro holds back her shudder. Why does Junko like being under… her oppressive gaze so much?

"Please explain yourself," Sakura speaks, but her voice cracks. She clears her throat and turns away from any prying eyes.

"What the others in HIFAK are doing isn't right. They may have their opinions, but no one is obligated to stand by the group when they order others around carelessly," Mukuro stands tall with her hands behind her back, talking as if she were speaking to her commander. "I will admit, I was… split at the time of Hina's orders, but I know what needs to be done now. Hina needs to stand down."

Junko nods in approval. "Well done, nice words, all that jazz,"

Sakura tightens her arms, practically hugging herself. "Will you… watch over Hina and try to keep her safe?" She sighs. "She wouldn't talk to me this morning."

Mukuro winces but nods her head. It's the least she can do for Sakura.

"Okie dokie, Muku, you need to leave!" Junko holds out her hand. "And give me my damn hair bands and accessories! My hair looks weird!"

Mukuro smiles and walks away, laughing softly while Junko growls behind her. She leaves down the stairs and the first island.

If HIFAK is going to eat breakfast at the library everyday, the remaining students will stay broken up. That's something that cannot happen. Every person on this island needs to be together and not give into the temptation of murder.

Or else…

Mondo with a hole in his forehead flashes in Mukuro's mind. A battered and ripped apart Taka flashes afterwards.

Mukuro shakes her head. Stop that. Thinking about the first murder and trial won't do any good.

In silence, Mukuro jogs over the bridge to the second island and towards the library. Outside of the building, Mukuro's eyes spot an angry Hina and Byakuya outside arguing. She slows and approaches cautiously.

"This is a library! You can't deny access to people!"

"Yes, I can! Because I'm the leader of HIFAK and you are with the others! You wanna continue the killing game!"

"Um… What's going on?" Mukuro interrupts their yelling match.

Hina perks up, her angry features lightening up into her regular smile. She waves the soldier over.

"Mukuro, you're here! There's enough curry left for you!" She pulls Mukuro into the library once the latter comes closer.

Byakuya is left outside.

Mukuro smiles tightly when she sees Toko, Leon, and Hiro sitting at the table near the back corner. They're eating curry and conversing together in quiet whispers.

"So, what's up?" The soldier asks with a tilt of her head.

Hina punches her fist into her hand. "I have a good plan to keep everyone from seeing their motives. I'll tell you all after we finish eating, but--"

"I-I already ate," Mukuro lies.

Hina blinks but nods. "Oh, OK! Perfectly perfect!" She scratches her head before pointing up at the balcony. "Can you check up there for books on defending something? We searched the ground floor all night but were waaay too tired to check the balcony. Please?"

Mukuro nods.

"Wah! You're so sweet, Mukuro, thank you!" Hina throws herself at Mukuro and hugs her tightly. Mukuro stumbles but hugs her back, guilt bubbling in her chest. She bounces away and leaves Mukuro to search the balcony for books on defending something… Great.

Mukuro sighs. I better get to it, then. She walks over to the ladder and climbs it swiftly.

As soon as she's on top of the balcony, Mukuro skims her fingers against the spines of the books as she walks. Her eyes scan and search for a title related to what Hina is searching for.

She stops at a large gap between bookshelves where a vent sits, going up to her knees. Squatting down, Mukuro looks over the area. The vent is blowing a strong amount of air into Mukuro's face. No wonder none of the old book smell is leaving, the vent is pushing it back in.

Glancing over her shoulder, Mukuro notices another gap with another vent on the other side of the balcony.

… These vents need to filter the air out and not in. Too bad nobody here is a mechanic or something because Mukuro would ask them to fix these vents ASAP.

Spending more time searching through the books, Mukuro finds nothing to help them. Learning over the railing, she sees Hina talking to Leon with excitement and Hiro inhaling his curry. Toko is… acting stranger than usual, but when is she not strange?

"Hey, Hina!" The swimmer's head lifts to meet Mukuro's gaze. "I didn't find anything that would help us!"

"Shoot! I guess we can go old fashioned, then," Hina purses her lips. "C'mon down here!"

Mukuro nods once and heads to the ladder, swiftly sliding down. She walks to the table and stands, back straight, at the edge of the table.

"What's the plan, Hina?” Leon leans back in his chair, crossing his arms and tilting his head.

“The plan is to keep watch on the maze at all times, and I have the perfect plan!” Hina pulls out a crumbled slip of paper from her pocket and spreads it out on the table. Mukuro leans in to see the contents, but Hina covers it with her hands. “So! Each of us can take turns watching the maze! Then once everyone gets along, we can lighten the load and--Wham! We just successfully stopped the killing game!”

“We could partner up?” Leon suggests.

Hiro scratches his chin. “But aren’t there only five of us? That’s, like, an odd number, so we can’t all partner up,”

“So you do have a brain in there?! Kya-hahaha!”

Mukuro flinches slightly at Toko’s loud cackle, and the others cringe as well. Leon scoffs and looks away, ruffling his orange hair.

“Man, she’s been doing that all day! Freaks me out,” The baseball star grumbles.

Toko does seem pretty… weird. Her irises are a bright red that could rival Celeste’s, and her tongue hangs out of her mouth like Kyo’s does. Toko looks to be more confident as well, feet kicked up onto the table and her uninjured hand spinning a pair of elegant scissors.

“Don’t be so afraid of me, Jewels! Y’know I don’t like when you make fun of my laugh!” Toko points her scissors at Leon, causing him to raise his palms in surrender. “‘Sides, I want the one with the huge knockers as my partner! Kya-hahaha!”

Hina cringes. “Th-Thank you, Toko,”

Toko rolls her eyes.

Jeez. Overnight, Toko went from an obsessed woman with a really pessimistic side, filled to the brim with paranoia to a laughing and confident person. At least she’s growing out of her shell…?

“Then I will partner with…” Mukuro glances at Hiro. “Hiro. Hiro will be my partner while Leon will have to be by himself.”

“Alright, Kuro, me and you--we’re best buds!”

Leon sighs. “By myself? I guess that can’t be too bad…”

Toko cackles. “My, my, my! I was expecting Jewels and Stubble to Oreo with Stinkuro! Some nice threesome action, y’know?”

Mukuro cocks her head… What's Oreo?

“So how’re we doing this exactly?” Hiro asks, smoothing his hair back.

Hina pokes her cheek with her finger. “Um… How about… uh…” Her blue eyes look at Mukuro. “Mukuro says the plan! After all, she is my second-in-command. It might give her some good experience.”

The silence rings awkwardly. Mukuro shakes her head with a silent sigh of disbelief. When did she ever agree--or was told at the very least--to being Hina’s second-in-command at all? Hina must have made the position suddenly available and taken in a matter of moments to save herself from forming a plan.

“We can all take shifts in set increments of four hours. A stricter schedule means less time for any suspicious individual person to sneak into the maze and obtain their, and possibly another, motive,” The soldier cups her chin. “During one to five a.m., Toko and Hina will be watching the maze. From five to nine a.m. will be Hiro and I. From nine a.m. to one p.m. will be Leon. From one to five p.m., it switches back to Toko and Hina. Then from five to nine p.m. will be Hiro and I. And, finally, from nine p.m. to one a.m., Leon will watch over the maze. Got all that?”

Hina, who had been scribbling down the time slots on the crumpled sheet of paper, nods quickly. Mukuro sweatdrops when she realizes the paper Hina pulled out earlier was blank this whole time.

“Now what, leader?” Leon questions.

Hina holds up the paper. “Well, it is only about ten in the morning, so we should go ahead and execute this plan! The earlier the better!”

“Ah, then that means Leon’s up first!” Hiro claps Leon on the back before standing up and stretching. He sighs. “I’ll see you guys--”

“Wh--? Hey, not so fast! We aren’t even done talking yet!” Hina frantically says, panic in her eyes. “S-Sit down, numbnut!”

Hiro sits down, but his arms are crossed. He’s pouting about being called a “numbnut”.

“People with partners have to stay with their partners until it’s their shift!”

Hina’s words strike through Mukuro. She has to bunk with Hiro and be with him for eight hours for the next… however long this is to last?! Mukuro likes Hiro but she needs to report her findings to the other group, and she can’t do that if Hiro’s going to be following her around all day!

“Sounds good to me!” The clairvoyant chuckles. “I like hanging out with my good friend Kuro, so this should be fun!”

“Wha-Wha-Wha-Wha-What?! Me and Big Boobs McGee sleeping together?! Nuh uh, no way! That’s like asking a cat to be friends with a dog!” Toko chucks her scissors across the library. They pin into the wall and vibrate from the force of the throw. “Oopsies! Kya-hahaha!”

Hina rolls her eyes. “She just stopped liking me for some reason… and after our heartfelt bath…”

“Some girl-on-girl action in the bath together, you say? Might have to recall when that happened…”

“Ugh!”

Leon stands from his seat and shakes his head. “I’m gonna go keep my eye on the maze, but you guys can keep goofing off and having fun. Go wild!” He blows the four students a kiss and leaves the library.

“Kuro, let’s do something together with… uh,” Hiro glances at Hina, noticing her attention is heavy on Toko. “Makoto…”

A blush rises to Mukuro’s cheeks. “W-With Makoto?”

“Yeah!” Hiro urges her out of the library. They walk along the path and bridges to go back to the first island. “Koto said he had a surprise for me but since we have to stay together, I figured we could go together!”

Mukuro’s small smile drops. She’s the… third wheel?

The two walk to the first island beach where they see Makoto talking to…

“Ogre?! My surprise is Ogre ?!” Hiro cries out. His loud wailing attracts the attention of both Makoto and Sakura, the former of which waves the pair over while the latter growls slightly at the nickname.

“Hiro, you’re here! Hi, Mukuro! I didn’t know you’d be here too!” Makoto smiles and tilts his head. Mukuro clears her throat and looks away to try and hide her burning red face.

“I-I just… had to tag along…”

Makoto laughs. “Don’t worry, the more the merrier! Besides, we’re waiting on three more people to show up!”

Three more people? All in all, the wait shouldn’t be that long.

… And apparently, it isn’t, for Kyoko and Chihiro walk together and arrive at the beach.

“Sorry if we’re late. We looked around all three islands for Byakuya, but we couldn’t find him,” The detective states. “Knowing him, he’s either hiding extremely well or in his room ignoring us.”

“Too bad we couldn’t break his lock like mine did,” Chihiro says, slipping a bottle from her pocket and shaking out two small pills. She pops them back into her mouth and swallows them whole.

Mukuro conceals her frown, but her eyes stay glinted with intrigue. So along with Hina’s door, Chihiro’s door is broken as well? Mukuro will have to keep an eye out for any more breaking locks and hope she won’t be a victim of such bad luck.

Makoto frowns. “Oh, you too? I thought it was just me,”

What?

“This is strange. My door was broken before I went to the hardware store and replaced my lock,” Sakura mentions.

Kyoko hums. “Interesting…”

Four peoples’ locks were broken? Monomi and Monokuma need to work on their repair skills…

“So what’re we doing here, Koto?” Hiro asks.

Makoto nods his head and smiles, gesturing to Sakura with his hand. “Well, I thought it’d be a good idea to have a morning workout with everyone to bring us closer, but… most people declined. You guys are the only ones to show, and I hoped Hiro would come, too, since I asked before the whole ‘Hina-blow-up’ thing,”

Sakura winces.

“A… workout should be perfect around this time,” Mukuro cups her chin, not bothering to pay attention to a rapidly paling HIro. “How long will such an activity last?”

Sakura is the one to speak next. “I estimate around an hour and a half. The amount of time should be enough to build body structure and toughen your muscles,” She smiles. “As long as you all keep a balanced diet and eat plenty, you all should be fine.”

“W-Working out…” Hiro chuckles nervously. “I can do this! Yeah, Ogre doesn’t scare me, and neither does this workout!”

… He’s lying. Horribly, at that.

“I know how to defend myself,” Kyoko says, folding her arms across her chest.

Mukuro nods her head. “I do as well…”

Sakura hums. “That may be, but this is to keep yourself active. You may leave anytime you want,” She sounds strained as she says this, but her eyes show acceptance.

Hiro sighs in relief. “Since Kuro’s here to protect me, I guess--”

“I will stay to train,”

“K-Kuro?!” Hiro sinks into the sand with a cry, knees holding him up.

Chihiro sweatdrops. “G-Get up…”

Hiro shakes his head and buries his face into the sand. Mukuro sighs, bends down to grab the back of his shirt, and hoists the man up to his feet. He stumbles but grounds himself.

Mukuro clicks her tongue. A new activity is added to Hiro and Mukuro’s list: From ten a.m. to eleven thirty a.m. is a group training session with Makoto, Sakura, Chihiro, Hiro, Mukuro, and Kyoko.

Their schedule is busy already… Eight hours guarding the maze and an hour and a half training. Can their lives be any more hectic as of right now?

“We aren’t training this first day because Sakura wanted to feel you guys and make sure what exercises you would benefit the most from!” Makoto tilts his head.

“F-Feel us…?” Chihiro blanches.

“Alright. Just make it quick, I have things I want to investigate,” Kyoko steps forward and allows Sakura to pat her arms and legs, feeling along her body. Once done, she nods and leaves.

Chihiro goes next and leaves just as swiftly as Kyoko did, blushing and looking close to tears. Sakura is confused.

Mukuro pushes Hiro to go next. He glares back at her while she grins. All through his session, he’s laughing and giggling, body jerking away from Sakura as she tries to feel Hiro’s arms and legs.

"St-Stop it, I'm ticklish!" He laughs.

Sakura is stone-faced as she finishes with Hiro, waving over Mukuro. The soldier steps up and allows the martial artist to feel her up. Her face blushes a bright red. This is just like when they first met each other.

"You need to eat more. How much do you weigh?" Sakura asks as she steps back and crosses her arms.

Mukuro scratches the back of her neck. When was the last time she weighed herself? Or eaten…? This is mildly concerning but Sakura won't force her to eat or anything, so Mukuro is safe.

"Last time I checked, I think I was just under a hundred pounds. Maybe ninety-five?" The soldier guesses.

Sakura pinches the bridge of her nose. She sighs. "Alright. Tomorrow we will work on all of your diet plans, as well,"

Mukuro pales. She has to… be forced to eat now? But she isn't ever hungry! (That may be a lie, though.)

Hiro tugs on Mukuro's shirt. "Kuro, c'mon, let's go to the supermarket! I gotta get a new crystal ball!"

"H-How did you manage to lose your other one?" Mukuro sweatdrops as she's pulled away and towards the direction of the supermarket.

"I didn't lose it! It…" Hiro clears his throat, blushing. "slipped from my hand. D-Don't look at me like that, it was very slippery! I just polished it!"

Mukuro continues to give the clairvoyant a deadpan stare while they walk to the supermarket. She shakes her head and smiles lightly.

"I… I'm glad we're friends, Hiro," As soon as the words fell from her mouth, Mukuro clams up. Friends…? No, Mukuro can't have friends during this killing school trip nonsense. Friends get you killed.

Hiro squeals and draws the soldier in for a tight hug. "Wah! You're so sweet, Kuro! I like being your friend, too!"

Mukuro tries to push the male away but gives up when she realizes Hiro isn't letting her go anytime soon. She hugs his waist and buries her face into his chest.

This is… nice.

Hiro pulls back with a wide smile. "Now, let's go get that crystal ball!"

Mukuro and Hiro walk to the market and enter. While the latter goes to a very specific aisle, Mukuro wanders around the building idly. Her fingers tap against her thighs.

Coming to a stop, Mukuro looks intensely at a specific box on the shelf. Her hand reaches out to grab it, but she hesitates.

"You found something?" Hiro appears on her right side, arm slung over her shoulders. He makes a sound of slight surprise. "Never thought you'd be into something like that, dude. You want that?"

Mukuro bites her bottom lip. Hiro notices her hesitancy and gives her a slight pat on the shoulder as encouragement.

"Don't worry about what others might think of you, Kuro. I mean, look at me!" Hiro smoothes back his hair and smirks. "The others are hella jealous of my amazing looks, so they always try and put me down 'cause of my intelligence. Take it if you want it."

The soldier grabs the box. "It isn't for me, but thanks for the encouragement. I found it…" Mukuro softly punches the man's shoulder. "hella sweet of you."

Hiro grins and pats her back.

"By the way, I have a question," Mukuro goes to cup her chin but flinches slightly when her bandages hit her chin. She drops her arm to her side. "In the classroom when we first met, why did you ask if you were high if you don't like to smoke?"

"Oh, you remember that? I dunno," He crosses his arms and grins ear to ear. "The air seemed pretty tense, so I thought if I cracked a small joke the room would be less tense. Didn’t seem to work, though."

"Can you teach me some… humorous jokes to make the others laugh?" Mukuro asks.

Hiro snorts. "Yeah! Oh, and, uh… Leon forgot to tell us, but we gotta clean our ears every few hours," He grabs a medium-sized bottle from the shelf that was next to other health related items. He taps the label. "This stuff'll keep that earring clean."

Mukuro shoves the box that was in her hand into her pocket and takes the bottle from Hiro. She nods her thanks as she slips it into the same pocket.

"So now what?" Mukuro taps her fingers against the bandages.

Hiro groans and stretches his back. "Let's just chill somewhere till it's our turn to watch the maze," He yawns and rubs his eyes. "Sounds good?"

Mukuro nods. "Affirmative. Is my room fine?"

In response, Hiro pulls Mukuro along until they reach the hotel. They walk to the girls' side of the cottages and to Mukuro's cottage.

Mukuro grabs her doorknob and unlocks it, opening it swiftly after; the knob didn't hold so easily, however, breaking and nearly falling out of the door. Both Mukuro and Hiro take a slight step backwards.

"Mine's broken, too?" The soldier bites her nails, the polish on them ruined. "But it was just fine yesterday when I checked it before the motive was announced. I don't understand…"

Hiro scratches his chin. "M-Maybe it's nothing…" He gulps. "Or maybe… No, it can't be."

"Wh-What is it?" Mukuro turns to the clairvoyant, worried for anything he may say. The threat can't be that bad.

"A… A-A…" He stutters, sweat dripping down his forehead. His tan skin pales dramatically. "A-A ghost?!"

Mukuro falls silent. A… ghost. Seriously?

"I doubt it's a ghost, Hiro, but I'll keep that in mind,"

If he's terrified of ghosts and the paranormal, why would he try to read ghost stories? He'd be freaked out at every page turn. Mukuro doesn't understand it. Hiro doesn't seem like the type of person to think far ahead, no offense to the man.

Mukuro goes through her doorway and spots her abandoned, make-shift bed on the hard floor. She sits on the few cold blankets and sighs. Her light purple eyes trail to the pillow where her half-empty bottle of whiskey sits.

Hiro walks in and closes the door, watching cautiously in case it flies open. He frowns when he sees Mukuro on the floor.

"Do you not like sleeping in beds?"

It's not that Mukuro dislikes beds. It's more like… she doesn't deserve to sleep in one after everything she's done. She doesn't deserve the comfort and the warmth. Mukuro deserves the hardness of the floor and the splinters and the nails digging into her back.

She deserves to be hurt and in pain for everything she's done.

Mukuro deserves--

"Hey, why don't we both take the bed and I'll tell you about my mom!"

Mukuro sharply looks up. "Huh?"

"Yeah, I learned a lot of medical stuff from her," Hiro gives a thumbs up. "Wanna hear more about her? I think she'll like you when we leave this island to meet her after the killing game's over."

Mukuro watches as Hiro outstretched hand and waits for her to take it, which she hesitantly does. She smiles as they sit on the edge of the bed.

"Well, her name is Hiroko Hagakure, and she's my mom! Uh, but you probably knew that, haha…"

Hiroko Hagakure… Even though Mukuro has barely heard anything about this woman, the soldier believes she's very kind.

She listens to Hiro as he tells her more and more about his mom.

Chapter Text

After a long few hours of lying down and doing nothing, Mukuro and Hiro are at the maze. They're still sitting at the entrance to the maze, bored and silent, but at least it's new scenery.

Mukuro toys with her Usami charms, trying to pass the time. She clicks the buttons to make the Usamis speak, but nothing comes out. She's run the battery dry on both rabbits.

Sighing, Mukuro sets the charms in her lap and leans back against the concrete wall of the maze. "How much longer do we have?"

There's a shuffling sound to her right and a click. Hiro groans. "It's only been twenty minutes since our time started,"

Mukuro groans. It feels like it's been forever, but they just got here.

As Leon would say: This is stupid. As Junko would say: This is a pain in my ass and I wanna refuse to do it, but my manager is an even bigger pain in the ass and will yell at me.

"Can I go get stuff so we don't have'ta be bored?" Hiro asks.

Mukuro glances over at Hiro and nods. "Yeah, just hurry back. I don't want Hina to be angry if she catches you not with me and not watching the maze,"

Hiro nervously grins. "I shouldn't be too long. And Hina doesn't scare me, she's just a lil shorty," He stands and runs away while avoiding any direct lighting.

The soldier snorts. Hiro is definitely not scared of Hina.

Mukuro waits for Hiro to come back. She takes out her whiskey bottle she brought with her and drinks some of it. It burns the back of her throat deliciously.

One minute goes by… then two… then five… then ten…

Mukuro frowns. Where's Hiro?

Dread tingles in her nerves, shooting alarming signals to her brain. Hiro… can't be…

No, he isn't. Hiro might not be that smart, but he's smart enough to avoid a situation in which he could be killed.

But what if he does get killed or kills himself? It would be Mukuro's fault because she didn't look out for her partner. They were supposed to stay together.

Shit! It's only been a few hours and she's already killed her partner! How shitty can she be?!

"Kuro, look who I brought!"

Mukuro looks up with relief. Hiro is bouncing down the path with Junko right behind him. She's pouting and running her fingers through her hair, red eyes glaring at Mukuro.

Hiro plops down on the ground and reveals a bag full of junk food and drinks, cards, and pillows. Mukuro takes a pillow and places it under her butt.

Junko sneers. "I have to sit on the ground like a damn hooligan?"

"Yep!"

"Affirmative,"

The fashionista sighs and snatches a pillow to sit on, cross-legged and leaning back on her hands. Her eyes scan over Mukuro and Hiro.

"What's up, Junko?" Mukuro questions.

Junko rolls her eyes. "You never updated me on the situation, so I had to spill the beans to Hiro,"

Mukuro looks at Hiro in question, but he holds up his hands. "Hey, I'm your ride or die! Count me in!"

"Ride or… die?" Mukuro hums. "Alright."

Junko scoffs. "So why the hell are you losers here?"

"Hina decided to have us all take turns guarding the maze so nobody could go in and see their motive," The soldier takes another sip of her alcohol, grimacing slightly at the sting. "She said that once everyone gets along, we can stop guarding the maze. Defying Monokuma."

Hiro nods his head, cupping his stubbled chin. "Yeah, Hina's been real weird lately, huh?"

Mukuro sweatdrops. Is he just now noticing this and saying it?

"Tch, fucking Hina," Junko sits up and clenches her hands into fists. "I bet she's the one who broke my lock when I was doing shit. Probably broke her own damn door to not seem suspicious."

"Wait, Ko-Ko, your door's broken too?" Hiro shuffles forward, brows furrowed.

Junko pulls a puzzled face. "The hell are you talking about? 'Too'?"

"Makoto, Sakura, Chihiro, Hina, and me," Mukuro says, drawing Junko's attention to her. "And you too, now. All of our locks are broken. Well, Sakura fixed hers, but…"

"Don't tell me we have a door thief on our hands," The fashionista frowns.

"I believe the culprit could be both Monokuma and/or Monomi. I mean, they're the ones who made the cottages, right?" Mukuro bites her lips after she says this, mind heavy with thoughts.

But if it was Monomi, she would've told them about it. And Monokuma would probably break all of the locks as a motive or something.

This doesn't feel right. It feels as if someone is toying with them.

"What-the-fuck-ever," Junko sighs. "Muku, are you gonna give me my hair stuff now?"

"No,"

"What--Oh, I didn't notice your hair was different, Ko-Ko," Hiro laughs and crosses his arms.

Junko huffs. "Gee, thanks. Yeah, I'm gonna leave, and I want my damn hair accessories back later!"

Mukuro pulls the box she took from the supermarket from her pocket. She tosses it to Junko, who has stood up, and chuckles when she fumbles to catch it. Junko looks at the box with a deadpan stare.

"What?" The soldier asks, taking another swig from her bottle. "I saw your roots coming in and thought you could use a touch up. Is that the right word?"

Junko rolls her eyes, but a smirk comes to her lips. "This isn't blonde, it's red. What, just like a dog, are you colorblind?"

"Perhaps,"

"Jesus, you're insufferable," Junko leaves and waves her hand over her shoulder. "Have fun doing nothing, losers, I got shit to do!"

"Bye, Ko-Ko! Thanks for keeping us company!" Hiro calls out, shouting and waving his arms.

Mukuro sweatdrops. Even though she knows nobody is out here except for the three of them, she can't help but flush red with embarrassment.

She leans back against the brick wall and stares into the gradient sky, tinted a mellow orange. She can't help but think back to when she was in the Middle East, digging up trenches in the middle of the night and chucking bombs at a near inhuman speed. Has she ever taken the time to appreciate the evening sky? The way the colors blend and fade to black, white dots sparkling over the sky and the white of the moon clouds her vision and fills her soul.

It's beautiful…

Hiro sits up, glancing around. Mukuro watches him. He taps his fingers against the ground and bites his lip.

"What is it?" Mukuro asks. "Is the time going by too slow?"

She pulls out her e-Handbook and checks the time. It's nearly six o'clock… They still had a few hours of sitting and watching for people.

Hiro shakes his head. "No… I just feel like someone's watching me…"

"Ah, paranoia. Want me to go check around quickly?"

"Pl-Please do! I'm getting scared!" Hiro puts his hands together in a prayer, thanking Mukuro as she stands and walks around.

Mukuro glances around for any sign of Hina and Toko or a different person. She checks inside of the pharmacy and hardware store, but she doesn't bother with the ruins. There's nowhere to hide there.

She walks to the library door and goes to open it, only for the door to stop. Mukuro frowns and pushes on the door, only hearing a chinking sound.

Strange…

"WAAAH! KURO, HEEELP!"

Mukuro jolts, dropping the position she had. She was going to break one of the rules and break the door down, but Hiro's screaming caught her attention.

Mukuro backs away from the library doors and runs, sprinting off to get to Hiro. She hopes and prays to a God she doesn't believe in that Hiro is OK. She can't lose another friend. She won't be able to handle it.

She barely sees Hiro on the ground. She tries to slow to an abrupt stop, but her feet catch on Hiro's body. Mukuro trips and falls on her front, the air being knocked from her lungs painfully.

So much for being the Ultimate Soldier with great instincts and reflexes…

"What happened? Are you OK?" Mukuro wheezes out, scrambling to get off of Hiro.

Hiro isn't speaking, his tan skin practically white as he stares and points at the entrance to the maze. Mukuro follows his finger but sees nothing.

"Hiro?"

"G-G-G…"

"Wh-What is it?" Mukuro shakes the man by his shoulders, beginning to feel scared.

Hiro is still stammering, sweating all over. "G-G-Gh-Gh-- Ghost!"

Mukuro falls silent.

Hiro is still talking, babbling out nonsense. "I-It touched my shoulder! It tried to possess me, please believe me!"

Mukuro deadpans. "Are… you telling me a ghost touched you and… what…"

"I'm not lying, I swear on my crystal ball!" Hiro pulls out his new crystal ball, holding it tightly in his hands. He's trembling all over.

"... Fine. We'll check a few feet of the maze and then turn back," Mukuro pulls Hiro to his feet and moves to the maze's entrance. Hiro is shuffling behind her with his teeth chattering.

The two of them step into the maze, and Mukuro feels a chill down her spine. It suddenly dropped a few degrees--more than a few if there's snow build up on the ground and in the air. Why didn't they see any snow falling outside of the maze?

"See? There's no ghost, Hiro," Mukuro bitterly states as they walk deeper into the maze. She stops in her path.

Hiro looks over her shoulder. "What is it?"

Mukuro hesitates. "Has… anyone been in the maze?"

"Uh, I think Koto went in the maze when the island first opened up, but that was a few days ago," The clairvoyant crosses his arms and rubs his hands up and down his arms. "Wh-Why?"

Mukuro falls silent. If Makoto went into the maze a few days ago, then these shouldn't be here. These are fresh. The snow would have covered up the ones Makoto made.

These are fresh shoe prints in the snow.

A sense of dread washes over her. Someone has their memory motive.

There's a crunch behind them, and a whoosh. Hiro cries out and falls forward, taking Mukuro down with him. Mukuro lifts up as much as she can and looks behind her, over Hiro's shoulder.

A cackle echoes over the maze's concrete walls. Mukuro doesn't know who that is. She concentrates and focuses her ears, trying to hear anything that could help.

There aren't any voices, but there are two sets of footsteps. Two people.

Mukuro manages to turn around to lie on her back, pushing on Hiro's chest until he falls to the side. She jumps up and runs to the entrance of the maze, reaching out.

"Stop!" She commands the people, but they move faster. They're too far ahead, Mukuro realizes.

She speeds up and throws herself forward with a growl, hoping to snag the trailing person. Instead, the two people reach the exit and leave, and a concrete wall erects in front of her face.

Eyes widening, Mukuro throws up her arms too late. She crashes head first into the concrete wall with a loud thump and falls to the ground on her stomach. She groans and clutches her forehead where she's started to bleed.

… Bleed?

Mukuro touches the open slit on her head and hisses. Blood covers her forehead and stains her black hair, dripping down her freckled cheeks.

Panic clutches her chest. She's never bled this badly before. Most of her injuries are from childhood whenever she would climb a tree and clip her knee or elbow and it would bleed a little. After that, she went to war and never bled or received a single scar.

But now… She holds her head to stop the ringing and stands shakily. Now she's so weak that she couldn't even stop two people from leaving the maze.

Son of a bitch! She was having such a good day and she had to go and ruin it like the pathetic, no good, compliant soldier she is! Stupid son of a--

"K-Kuro?!"

Mukuro gasps and stumbles back. Hiro… How did she forget about Hiro?! She holds her head and leans against the wall with her other hand, the bandages no doubt being scrapped due to the walls.

Hiro is lying on his back, face pale and eyes wide. Mukuro almost wants to sigh in relief.

Almost.

She would've if she hadn't seen it. She would have hugged him and tried to break down the walls and scold him for thinking ghosts could be the answer. But…

Hiro's leg is twitching, blood surrounding his left foot.

Mukuro slumps forwards and falls to her knees, hand hovering over Hiro hesitantly. She pulls back and bites her nails.

"H-Hiro?" Her voice slurs.

Hiro opens his eyes, pain laced in his dark brown eyes. He cracks a small grin but the grimace ruins the humor he was going for.

"Are you OK?"

Mukuro seethes. Is she OK…?

Ignoring the man, Mukuro gingerly lifts the man's foot and turns it. Her chest tightens at Hiro's strangled cries and the banging of his fists on the cold ground.

His Achilles tendon is severed…

Mukuro tries to force the lump in her throat to go down, but her throat swells and tightens.

"Hiro, I'm gonna pick you up, m'kay, I need to see if you can walk…" Mukuro sighs when he jerkily nods. She slowly lifts him from the ground, and holds him steady as he tries to walk around. He fails.

"Kuro, I-I can't move my foot…" Hiro shakes in Mukuro's hold, tears coming to his eyes.

Mukuro helps him sit down, and she removes his sandal from his foot. What should she do? What can she help him with?

Hiro taps the soldier's hand, causing her to look at him. "Hey, don't cry, it's… OK. I'm fine…" He sucks in a sharp breath. Hiro nods. "Yeah, I'm good."

"What do I do? I d-don't…" Mukuro chokes and wipes her brow of her blood.

"If… you can, take those off your hand…" Mukuro follows Hiro's directions and unwraps the slightly dirty bandages from her hand. The scratches stand out, but she pushes the image away. "OK… OK, uh… Haha, I never thought I-I… I can't w-walk…"

"Hey, hey! Hiro, please, you can't do that. Not right--hhnnn--now…" The soldier tries to protest and shake the man out of shock, but he keeps mumbling and staring off into space. His face is paler than its usual tan, and it's worrying the soldier.

Biting her lip, Mukuro stares at the white bandages in her hands. They tremble with guilt. No. No, she needs to focus.

What can she do? She's never had medical training. All she knows how to do is saw off a limb with her knife, bandage it up, and hope her ally can recover right then and there to be able to fight.

Mukuro takes a deep breath to calm her nerves. She won't cut off Hiro's foot. She can't anyway. Mukuro left her knife in her cottage.

Her hands shake wildly but she manages to wrap Hiro's foot and ankle with the bandages. She listens when he whimpers and loosens it but tightens it when needed.

Hiro stays leaning against the concrete wall, and Mukuro sits next to him. They're both shivering from the chill of the maze, the snow beneath their butts, the uncomfortable hardness on their backs.

"Oh dear, look what we have here!"

Mukuro whimpers at the grating voice in her ears. Monokuma's voice makes her hair stand on end and ears ring uncomfortably.

"What? No 'hello' or even a 'go away, Monokuma'?" The bear leans forward with his irritating half smirk. He pats Mukuro on the head, smoothing down her ahoge only for it to spring back up. "There there, Monokuma's here."

Mukuro jerks her head away, nearly blacking out from the sudden movement. "Wh-What d'you want?"

The bear flushes red and holds his belly. "Wowie! Even injured and with a possible concussion, you still sound badass!

"But anyway, I'm here to lay some ground rules about the maze, kid," Monokuma giggles. "No sleeping in the maze, no attacking the denizens of the maze, and no climbing the walls. Other than that, do whatever you want! You can kill wild hair if you really want!"

Mukuro glares.

"Jeez, calm down, will ya? As you may have noticed," Monokuma takes a step back and points to the right. Mukuro follows his gaze and sees a wall shoot up from the ground, blocking the way to the entrance. The wall next to it falls, revealing another path. "These walls like to move and groove! It takes time, sure, but you can beat the maze and get your motives!"

"Who was in here? With us?" Mukuro wheezes out.

Monokuma grins. "I can't tell you exactly who they were, but you can check the data core at the center of the maze if you want. It shows your e-Handbook's ID number when you enter and exit the maze! Pretty cool, right?"

The center of the maze, huh?

"Too bad it blocks out the owner's name," The monochromatic bear sighs and glances away. "It'd be too easy if someone was killed and you knew who it was! This makes it better, don'tcha know?"

Mukuro sighs. "Can't you just… let us out?"

"Whaaat?! I can't move the walls, I'm not magic!"

The soldier sweatdrops. So Monokuma can summon Monobeasts, teleport anywhere, be a talking bear, and more… but he can't move a wall? That's… kind of pathetic.

"Anywho! I gotta get going! I was watching Erased!"

Mukuro reaches out for Monokuma. Fury is set deeply in her light purple eyes. The cowardly bear teleports away before the soldier can grab him and possibly break a few rules. Snarling in frustration, Mukuro beats her fist into the ground and not caring when she feels her knuckles split from the force.

Maybe in the center of the maze could be a switch that'll help them get out.

Nodding to herself, Mukuro heaves herself up and picks up Hiro's sandal, slipping it into her pocket. Woozy, she picks up the dazed clairvoyant and hoists him onto her back, and she curses herself. She shouldn't have had that whiskey.

"You gotta stay awake, Hiro, or else you might get executed," The soldier bounces in place to better situate the man on her back when he slides.

Hiro is silent except for his unsteady breathing. "No problemo, K-Kuro…"

Mukuro, now assured that Hiro is awake, treads forwards on near unsteady feet. Her unease continues to grow as shadows race along the concrete walls and freezing snow crunches loudly. The sound seems to echo.

Turning left, Mukuro freezes and backs up. Hiro leans over her head to peek around the corner.

An average-sized blue person is standing in the middle of the walkway to the left. They have long hair and what looks to be a suit on, but Mukuro can't tell. The person looks their way. Their eyes are a piercing red.

Mukuro sucks in a sharp breath. "Who are you?" She quietly whispers. Hiro makes a noise of agreement.

The person turns their body slowly, almost robotically, and begins to walk towards them. The person tilts their head and holds out their hand once they are standing a foot in front of Mukuro and Hiro.

Hiro hums. "Looks like they wanna hold your hand, Kuro,"

Mukuro lets go of one of Hiro's legs and reaches out slowly. The person watches her patiently, their face blank.

Once her hand touches the person, her vision goes white.

"For the Ultimate Soldier, you fight like a mere child," The blue person, now colored in, says. Their long hair is a dark brown and their eyes are still that glowing red. Their suit is black with a white button down shirt.

Mukuro sucks in a sharp breath, curling into herself. The rain pelts down onto her body, feeling like thousands of bullets are penetrating her skin. Her abdomen is sore, aching from when the person one-upped her and caught her by surprise.

She looks up when her light purple eyes see their shoes in her field of vision. "Y-You… How did you…?"

The person watches her. "My ultimate matches your own, but I am on a greater power than you will ever be,"

Enraged, Mukuro swipes her feet out and knocks the person to the ground. She flips out of the way and lands on her feet away from them. Her breathing is heavy, nervousness and fear pumping through her veins.

The person kicks themselves up to their feet, staring impassively at Mukuro while doing so. She shivers. "You cannot defeat me. I know your every move, your every thought, your every feeling,"

The two stand still in the rain. Then they both rush forward, the snarl on Mukuro's face and the piercing red and blank eyes on theirs.

Mukuro regains her footing and groans. What the hell was that? Was… this the memory Monokuma was talking about? Who was that person?

She opens her eyes to see the blue person gone. Mukuro glances around and bites her lip.

Hiro is talking to her, Mukuro finally notices. "--and then they just vanished! Like a ghost! I-I just hope… some God doesn't punish you…"

"... Yeah. Let's just go to the center of the maze," Mukuro shakes her head. She readjusts Hiro and continues to walk, feeling a foreign stare on her person.

"So," The male rests his chin on the top of her head. "What'd you see?"

Mukuro turns right and then left before going straight. She hums. "I was… fighting someone, but they said I was inferior to them. Basically,"

Hiro hums.

Mukuro stops in her tracks and turns around. A wall sprouted behind them while they were walking. Damn it, how are they supposed to navigate this maze when they can barely find the center?! Mukuro grunts. They should have just stayed near the entrance and waited for it to open instead of trying to figure out who went in and left the maze by going to the center.

Stupid Mukuro. Stupid Monokuma. Hiro's fine because he didn't have a say in the matter.

"Hey, Hiro, what time is it?"

Hiro reaches into his coat pocket and clicks his e-Handbook on. "Uh… I don't know?"

Mukuro stops in her tracks. "Huh? What d'you mean?"

"Th-The thing's broken or something! I can't see the time!" Hiro holds his e-Handbook in front of Mukuro and squashes his cheek against hers.

He's right. The time on Hiro's e-Handbook is garbled and scribbled out. This isn't fair!

"Ch-Check my e-Handbook; it's in m-my back pocket," Mukuro waits for Hiro to put his own e-Handbook away. Suddenly, she squeals and jolts, blushing red and glaring back at Hiro. Hiro is bright red and fumbling apologies. "I said my back pocket!"

"I-I'm so sorry!"

"You grabbed my ass!"

"Kuro! Please, I didn't mean to!"

Mukuro growls and stands still, cheeks and ears burning. Hiro reaches into her back pocket and pulls out her e-Handbook, holding it in front of them both, and clicks it on.

"Shit…" The soldier curses. Her e-Handbook's clock isn't working properly either.

"I'll just… put this back in your pocket,"

"Thanks, Hiro," Mukuro sighs and squeezes her eyes shut. They can't tell the time and all the walls are moving. This feels like some sort of book plot.

Mukuro squeals and glares back. "That is not my back pocket, Yasuhiro Hagakure!"

"I can't see behind me, Kuro, I'm trying my best!"

"It's snowing, my e-Handbook is freezing, and you just stuck the screen against my ass!"

"I'm sorry!"

Mukuro huffs, not actually angry, and continues to trudge forward. Hiro rests his chin on his arm around her shoulders.

"You do have a really nice ass, though…" Hiro mutters.

Mukuro wants to bang her head against a wall.

Sighing, Mukuro speeds her stride and moves with passion. The sooner they get there, the better.

Stopping in her tracks, Mukuro sees another blue figure staring at them. They are small with short, layered hair. There isn't much Mukuro can tell about their appearance except for their bright green eyes.

They reach out their hand.

Mukuro walks forward and goes to take it when she stops. The sense of dread is back. The person is still watching her with a bright smile, patiently waiting for Mukuro to take their hand.

Hiro notices Mukuro's hesitation. "What's wrong, Kuro?"

"This… This is the motive, Hiro. I don't wanna get a crazy idea and try to kill someone," Mukuro backs away from the person and walks down the pathway.

"How come I haven't touched the blue people to get a memory?" Hiro whines.

"I dunno," The soldier snickers. "Maybe you can touch the next one and see something."

The next one didn't come. It didn't appear for a while. Hiro and Mukuro don't even know how long that "while" even lasted.

But… something did happen.

Their e-Handbooks chime those familiar and sickening chimes.

Ding dong! Bing bong!

Hiro and Mukuro freeze. Slowly, Hiro pulls out his e-Handbook and clicks it open. Monokuma's face appears with his stupid martini, smirking at the camera.

"A body has been discovered! After a short time for investigation, we will start a 'class trial'!"

Mukuro feels panic itching inside of her chest.

Someone died… Someone killed someone else.

Who exactly died?

"Wowzas! You two look rough!" Monokuma appears with a sick cackle.

Hiro panics and squirms against Mukuro's back. "Wh-Who's dead?! Who died?!"

Monokuma holds his paws up and takes a step backwards. "Slow your role! Jeez, I wonder how that person managed to get through this place quickly and not go insane…"

"You son of a bitch! You turned off our clocks so we don't know what time it is!" Mukuro takes a threatening step forward, feet steady. "How long have we been here? Tell us!"

"Huh? So you didn't know? Puhuhuhu… Ah-hahahaha!"

Mukuro ignores the shiver down her spine. "Wh-What's so funny?!"

"D-Don't worry, Kuro, it's only been a few hours since we came into the maze! Monokuma's just trying to get on our nerves," Hiro reassures the soldier weakly.

The monochromatic bear puts his paw to his chin. "Wait, you two seriously don't know? I can't believe Monomi didn't tell you!"

"Tell us what?" Mukuro rolls her eyes.

"Time flies when you're having fun, y'know," The bear offhandedly states. His red eye glows ominously, voice tinted with amusement.

"What…" Hiro swallows, shaking on Mukuro's back. "What does that mean?"

"I'm kinda surprised both of you didn't bleed out already, with Hiro's blood trailing behind you and the dog's hair stained with blood!" Monokuma continues. He giggles and tries to cover it by holding his paws over his mouth.

Mukuro turns to look behind them to try and prove Monokuma wrong, but Hiro is dripping blood everywhere. She shuffles her arm and touches her forehead, finding it dry and dull with pain.

"H-Huh?" Her fingers tremble. Mukuro looks wide-eyed at Monokuma. "What… are you saying?"

Monokuma grins. "Time flies…"

"J-Just--"

And then Monokuma drops the bomb, sending both Mukuro and Hiro into frantic states.

"For you two, time flew so quickly!" Monokuma leans forward with his creepy grin. "I mean, it has been two days, after all!"

Chapter Text

Two days ago…

"Jesus, you're insufferable," Junko leaves and waves her hand over her shoulder. "Have fun doing nothing, losers, I got shit to do!"

"Bye, Ko-Ko! Thanks for keeping us company!" Hiro yells.

Junko rolls her eyes as she continues to walk away. Those two make a great friendship duo, but if they start cracking dad puns, Junko is going to cremate them. Dead or alive is the important question…

Her red eyes trail to the box in her hands. She draws her bottom lip between her teeth.

Should she?

… Fuck it.

Junko checks her e-Handbook and figures out where Sayaka is. She's in her cottage, the bitch.

Skipping off of the second island, Junko heads through the central island and to the first island. She passes by Celeste screaming at Hifumi and the latter screaming at the top of his lungs. Junko wonders why nobody is thinking of murder due to his screams that could rival Laurie Strode's.

Shaking her head, Junko walks into the hotel and towards Sayaka's cottage. She knocks on the idol's door and waits for her to respond. Junko is annoyed quickly after thirty seconds, so she knocks harder.

Sayaka opens her door with a scowl. "What?"

"Damn, who pissed in your cereal?" Junko rolls her eyes.

"What is it, Junko?" Sayaka inquires, rubbing her eyes.

It's barely even six o'clock and Sayaka’s tired. Junko holds up the box of red hair dye, shoving into Sayaka's chest. The idol grabs it and stares inquisitively at Junko.

"Don't look like a dumbass, Sayaka, I know you dye your hair blue. That can't be your real color,"

Sayaka scowls. "Actually, it is my natural hair color,"

… Damn. Junko keeps fucking up the simplest of things.

"OK, fine, I'm sorry, I guess," Junko bites the inside of her cheek, trying not to blush. "Can you… dye my hair? There, I asked, now do it."

Sayaka is still staring at Junko, a slow smirk adorning her face. Junko flushes an embarrassed red.

"Look, I don't wanna be alone, and Muku is doing some soldier guarding thing," The fashionista pouts out her cheeks. Sayaka says nothing, and Junko groans. "Ugh, you bitch… I'll go ask someone else."

Junko reaches out to grab the box, but Sayaka steps back into her cottage and holds the door open. The former stands idly, head cocked.

"Don't just stand there, silly, come in!" Sayaka waves her in. Junko struts inside and scowls at the decor. It could use… a little less blue and pink.

Junko looks away from the idol's cheeky grin. "Whatever…"

The two girls shuffle off to the bathroom, and Junko is trying not to be annoyed at how lively Sayaka is chatting. She sounds like a damn chipmunk. Like The Chipettes. Specifically Eleanor.

"Do you even have hair bleach?" Junko watches as Sayaka prepares something on the bathroom counter. She rolls her eyes. "Scratch that, you probably do. But do you know how to use it?"

Sayaka scoffs. "I don't understand how you and Mukuro are related. She's so nice, and you're… less nice,"

"Gee, thanks. Really boosts my compassion meter by twenty," The fashionista grumbles.

Sayaka turns around with a small bowl in her hands. Her hands are gloved in the blue latex Junko has in her own bathroom.

"I've dyed my band mate's hair before, so I know what I'm doing," She smiles.

Junko stares at the mirror with a frown while Sayaka dyes her hair. She mentally blocks out the entire experience and only snaps back to life when her hair is red like it used to be. Brows furrowing, she moves her hand up and pats her bands, running her fingers through them with a tilt of her head.

"Sooo…" Sayaka peeks over her shoulder and smiles. Junko blinks at the mirror. "Do you like it?"

Junko nods slowly. "Yeah… Yeah, you did pretty good, Miku…"

"You were pretty out of it when I was washing the excess dye out of your hair. Hmm… you said something about your managers being pissed," The idol takes a step back when Junko turns around. Her brows furrow nervously while she bites her lip. "You still look kinda…"

Junko hurriedly wipes her eyes to clear any moisture from them. She nods. "I'm fine, Sayaka, it's just been a while since I've seen my natural hair color…"

"Oh, do you wanna--"

Over Sayaka talking, the nighttime announcement rings overhead.

Junko sighs. "I'll just go to bed… Mukuro should be at the restaurant in the morning with more news…" She moves her hand and pats the blue-haired girl's shoulder with a visual grimace. "See you in the morning, I guess…"

Sayaka giggles, holding her hand up to her face. "Yeah, I'll see you at breakfast, Junko! You owe me, by the way!"

Junko rolls her eyes and sweeps past Sayaka and exits the cottage. She goes to her own cottage and opens the door…

Huh.

Turning the knob, Junko finds the knob working perfectly fine. It's not even moving at all in a way that would signal it being broken.

So why the hell…

Shaking her head, Junko goes into her cottage and closes the door tightly. Sitting on her bed, she sighs and throws herself backwards.

Another long day… It didn't even feel as if she was even telling the story… Oh well, when life gives you lemons.

Junko falls asleep...

... And wakes to the morning announcement ringing loudly in her ears. Groaning in annoyance, Junko pushes herself out of bed and clambers to her dresser. She opens the top drawer and removes a small syringe and a medicine bottle from it.

Junko carefully draws the liquid into the syringe and gently taps the glass to remove air bubbles. At last, she sits down and presses the needle to the meat of her thigh, pushing in.

She sighs when the syringe emptied. The fashionista stands up and stretches out her legs before putting away her equipment and leaving her cabin.

On the way to the restaurant, Junko spots Leon talking in hushed whispers with Hina with… blood on her shirt? Screw that, Junko needs something to eat before dealing with her shit.

She swiftly slips into the restaurant with a yawn. "Hey, y'all, it's me… Junko… Ugh, what's the point of saying it?"

Junko plops down at her regular seat by the window, single and alone and heartbroken. Not really, but whatever.

Pounding footsteps alert everyone to the next person's presence.

Junko glances up and frowns. "Hina? Leon? Aren't you supposed to be ignoring us for not following your rules?"

Hina glares at Junko. She pumps her fist, ponytail spiking. Junko rolls her eyes at how determined and angry Hina looks.

"Where are they?"

Kyoko glances at Junko's way before looking at Hina. "Who?"

"Who--Don't play dumb with me!" Hina snaps. She crosses her arms and puffs out her lips. "Hiro and Mukuro! When me and Toko went to do our… uh, something, they weren't there! It's like they upped and left!"

Junko furrows her brows and stands up. "Wait, they weren't at the maze?"

"The maze? Why would they be at the maze?" Sakura takes part in the conversation, not looking at her swimmer.

Hina flushes. "I-It's nine of you all's stinkin' business!"

"They're guarding the maze to keep up from getting our motives," Junko says. Hina fumes. "But, hey, this makes things more interesting."

"What, they're missing! How is that interesting?!" Leon's jaw drops at how cold Junko sounds.

Junko knows she should be feeling something and showing it in her voice, but she has faith in her sister. Mukuro wouldn't disappear off the face of the Earth… or an island, without a good reason.

But… if she were to be killed…

No, that's impossible. Mukuro is the Ultimate Soldier. If anyone were to kill someone, it'd be her, but in self-defense.

The pit in Junko's stomach grows, but she needs to keep her indifferent facade.

She shrugs. "OK? Them being gone is what's interesting to me…" Junko nods at Hina's shirt. "What's with the blood?"

Hina scowls. "Toko wasn't… feeling well…"

"D-Did you kill Ms. Fukawa?! She may be in grave danger!" Hifumi puffs out his chest to seem brave, but the trembling of his knees knocks the bravery off of his shoulders.

"Toko's fine! I think she tripped or something 'cause she's acting weird, and her wrist hurts again," The swimmer huffs. The concern in her blue eyes returns. "And… you all really haven't seen Mukuro or Hiro?"

The silence in the restaurant rings loud.

"Look, Scoob, we gotta find the two missing kids!" Monokuma appears from nowhere with Monomi in tow. The rabbit is dressed as a dog while Monokuma has an ascot around his neck--if he even has a neck.

Monomi scoffs. "Whatever…"

"Wh--Monomi?" Makoto sweatdrops. "You're acting really weird!"

Monomi looks away.

The monochromatic bear shakes his head sadly. "It's so tragic… My little sister is broken and I wasn't even the one to do it!"

"Why are you here, Monokuma?" Celeste asks, sipping from her teacup happily.

Monokuna giggles. "Oh, I just wanted to let you guys know about your two friends… but I guess I'll leave…"

"What?!" Sayaka springs up from her seat, panic in her eyes. "What happened to them? Where are they?!"

"Oh, now you wanna listen to a poor bear's tale?" He throws his arms in the air. "Too bad, so sad! I don't feel like telling you bastards! C'mon, Monomi, we're leaving!"

Monomi is dragged off by Monokuma.

Junko clicks her tongue against the roof of her mouth. So Monokuma knows what happened to her sister and Hiro, the idiot ride or die. A smirk blooms on her face.

"Yo, Junko, can't you, y'know, analyze and take us to where the hell they are?" Leon cards his fingers through his hair.

Junko scoffs. "You wish. My talent doesn't exactly work like that. I could narrow down the possibilities for where they could be," She shrugs. "I'd need more data to determine a more specified location. Guess you're shit outta luck."

"Oh, hey! I knew something looked different about you, Junko! You changed your hair!" The previous smile on Hina's face shrivels down into a scowl. "N-Not that I noticed. Hmph! We're outta here!"

Hina leaves with Leon on her heels. He shoots a desperate glance backwards.

Junko cups her chin. She needs to check something. Breakfast can wait until later, this is way more important at the moment.

"I'll be right back," The fashionista absentmindedly says as she pushes her body out of her seat and leaves.

Junko barely notices another person following behind her as she walks to the cottages. She goes to stand outside of her own cottage and waits for the person to stop walking. Glancing to the side, Junko sees Kyoko standing passively.

Spending some time with Kyoko doesn't sound that bad…

"Howdy there, detective, how's it going?" A smirk tugs at her lips.

Kyoko simply stares at Junko. "You… changed your hair…"

Junko feels her eyes widen and her mouth fails to form sentences. Kyoko noticed something about her? No, she probably only noticed because Hina said something. Stupid swimmer.

"Uh, yeah? What's it to you, detective? Am I under arrest for not asking for a professionalism opinion on the matter?"

"No. I wanted to say something before Hina came into the restaurant," Junko tries not to flush under Kyoko's heavy gaze. The detective continues to speak, seemingly oblivious to the fashionista's mind short-circuiting. "But I didn't have the chance. You look…"

Junko swallows. "Yeah, I know. Ugly, stupid, a redhead, a dumbass, undesirable, boring--"

"Cute,"

"C-Cute?!" Junko throws her arms up in a poor attempt to block the compliment from reaching her ears. "I am totally not cute! Of all the stupid and idiotic things you coulda said, you picked cute?!"

"Would you prefer if I said something else?" Kyoko cups her chin. Amusement sparkles in her darker lavender eyes as a small smirk tugs at her lips. "Beautiful? Gorgeous, maybe? Perhaps… sexy?"

Junko whines and covers her face with her hands. "Oh, my God…"

"Ah, your eye color even matches your hair. If I had to take a guess, you changed your blonde hair to red because you wanted to look the way you wanted to," The detective says. "Same with your red eyes. The blue were colored contacts."

Junko wants to push this stupidly sexy detective against a wall and kiss her until she isn't sure if she's breathing her own air or Kyoko's… But Kyoko would probably close off from her.

"I-I guess…"

"You still are an enigma, Junko Enoshima, yet I become closer to understanding you,"

Junko's e-Handbook chimes loudly in their ears, breaking the moment.

Kyoko tucks a lock of her hair behind her ear and glances away. Faint ovals of pink sit on her cheeks. "I didn't mean to take up much of your time. I apologize--"

"Gah! Y-You're fine! I mean, you're always looking fine--Ghh, th-the physical way!" Junko pinches her arm and smiles tightly. "Uh, yeah, the physical way, but also the, uh… the in-the-moment kinda way of, like, 'you're fine and you don't need to worry about it', and also--" She huffs. "Y'know?"

Kyoko stands there. Junko sweats.

"I suppose I do,"

Junko sighs in relief, and too loudly. Thankfully, Kyoko doesn't comment on it.

"What was the thing you needed to do?" Kyoko asks, glancing at Junko's cottage door.

Right. Kyoko's smart, so she must have figured Junko knew something or is figuring something out.

Should… Should Junko tell Kyoko?

Fuck it. Having someone she trusts other than Mukuro could be useful. Especially since it's Kyoko…

"I wanted to check on all of our broken doors," Junko states. She easily falls into what she calls 'Analyst Mode'. "Hina, Mukuro, Chihiro, Sakura, Makoto, and mine. I have a strange feeling about this."

"And you wanted to check the locks to prove something to yourself and check the facts?"

"Uh huh,"

"Well then," Kyoko, keeping her eyes locked on the door, takes a slight step forward and places the palm of her hand against Junko's door. She pushes slightly, and the door easily slides open. "What did that tell you?"

Junko clicks her mouth shut.

The sliding of the door shouldn't be possible, signaling a response to automatically assume the door is broken. With a thought like that, one would either try to fix it or leave it alone and hope nobody would break in.

Sakura is the one to fix her door, but the others left theirs alone. Why?

Junko nods her head. "Muku's door next," She brushes past Kyoko and towards Mukuro's door, coming to a stop in front of it. She pushes the door, only for it to jingle and click.

Her hand wraps around the knob and twists, pulling up. The door opens effortlessly.

Mukuro’s door is definitely broken, so why is hers and Junko's different from one another? While the fashionista's door slides, the soldier's door has to be manually worked until it opens.

"Hmmm…" Turning around, Junko pushes Sakura's door. It slides open.

That shouldn't have happened. If Sakura fixed her door, then it should be locked or like Mukuro's door and not open until physically forced to open.

Hina's door works the same as Mukuro's, but Chihiro’s and Makoto's doors work like Sakura's door.

Junko can't understand the riddle to this problem.

A hand lays itself on her shoulder, and Kyoko steps into her field of vision. Junko bites her lip and nibbles on it until it starts to hurt.

"Did you figure something out?"

"... No. This was stupid," Junko clenches her jaw and frowns. "A waste of time. This probably didn't even mean anything! Why am I so… so…"

Kyoko shakes her head. "No, I believe in your reasoning that something is wrong with the doors. We don't know what yet, but you can figure it out,"

Junko rips herself away from the detective despite the tingling in her body begging her to return to her warmth. "No--You don't understand--"

"Junko, calm down," Kyoko crosses her arms across her chest. She looks powerful in their situation, but her face radiates awkwardness. As if she doesn't know how to reassure Junko of her findings--or lack thereof.

The fashionista takes in smooth and expensive breaths, evening out her breathing. This was a failure. She is a failure. Junko doesn't deserve to eat breakfast after the failure that occurred just now.

"I think I'm gonna rest for the rest of the day. Maybe skip breakfast tomorrow, too," Junko smiles at her cru-- Kyoko and turns, heading back to her cottage.

As soon as her back hits the sheets, Junko allows herself to cry.

Stupid, stupid, stupid…

No wonder her managers thought she was always so boring…

***

Time blurs together for Junko.

She left her body to Chieko, and she knows this because of the comforting pressure and warmth. It greatly contrasts the chaos and loudness of Kyo, and the dark and sad of Jun.

Chieko always kept her safe…

Why does Junko hate them so much then? All they did was protect her… Maybe not Jun so much if the scars on her upper thighs say anything, but they try their best sometimes.

Junko faintly remembers Leon stopping by to ask if she had rolling paper or a bowl to smoke weed with. She knows because she had just gotten her body back after God knows how long.

It was night-time, that much she remembers.

The fashionista had directed him to the supermarket where she once saw some paper laying on one of the back shelves.

After that encounter, she was physically alone.

All alone… Pathetic Junko fucking Enoshima. How the hell could Mukuro say Junko was stronger than her? The flat-chested idiot is a literal soldier who fought in literal battles and has not a single scar.

And Junko's supposed to be the stronger one?

Junko sits under the hot spray of her shower. Her eyes are blank and dim. Her skin is red from the heat of the shower and the rough movements she did with her sponge.

Her eyes hurt from crying, from staring at the ceiling or at a wall. She's… thankful--she'll deny thinking that later--whenever Chieko took over and allowed Junko some space to breathe.

But now… Now she's just pathetic and disgusting Junko Enoshima, sitting in her shower and allowing herself to be scorched by scalding water.

She knows she needs to get out. To follow her manager's advice and keep her skin from becoming damaged. She's not even sure if that's how it works. It probably is, her mind hisses at her.

Oh, great. Always the know-it-all. A stupid, all-knowing brain inside of her thick skull.

Maybe she doesn't deserve to be the brains of the two…

Junko's brain and Mukuro's brawn. The perfect balance.

Stupid.

The skin of her arms are peeling. Junko notes that the rest of her body is already peeling or close to it.

… She needs to get out of the shower.

She needs to…

She…

It's stupid.

Why…? Why is it so difficult for her?

Just get out of the shower! Junko already had enough hesitation and stupid procrastination about getting in. Why can't she get out?!

It's fine! She's fine! Junko got into the shower just fine, so why… Why can't she get out just fine?

Why does…

The stupid tears gather once again. Stupid pathetic Junko crying in the shower.

Pathetic Junko not having her sister around…

Pathetic Junko getting used to the groping hands and the leering gazes…

Pathetic Junko…

Pathetic Junko…

Is she spiraling? What is this? Why is her heart thumping so loudly in her ears? Why are her hands raising and forming fists?

Why… Why does she find it so easy to punch the hardness of the shower wall?

Her eyes watch the flow of blood from her split knuckles. The small splatter from the wall washes away and down the drain.

A light returns to her eyes.

With shaking hands, Junko raises her fists again and again. She beats mercilessly against the wall.

In the back of her mind, she hopes she damages the wall. Maybe Monokuma could execute her early…

Don't be selfish. Mukuro would still be alive.

No, this isn't about Mukuro. Besides, Mukuro left before. Junko leaving would twist the guilt in the soldier's gut.

That was different. Mukuro left because of a dream. This is suicide.

Stupid…

Stupid blood… Stupidly larger hands than all the other girls. Her legs are too skinny, but she doesn't deserve to eat.

Her voice is too weird to be natural.

Fucking fuck!

Her jaw is too angular. Eyes too narrow.

Junko pats her cheeks and chin, smearing blood against her face. The scalding water easily washes it away.

Her face… She needs to take another dose of estrogen. Maybe--

No. No, she can't. Too much could have the opposite effect.

Junko needs to calm down.

She's spiraling. Falling?

Why is she falling?

She's fine. Absolutely…

Fine.


Junko wakes up in her shower, shivering from the cold blast of water against her skin. Hurriedly, she shuts the water off.

Her eyes slowly drift and lock onto her e-Handbook, laying uselessly--just like Junko--by the toilet. Her slippery hand grabs the device and clicks it on.

Nearly four in the afternoon. She slept so long and so uncomfortably in her shower. Junko rolls her neck and wobbly rises to her feet.

She shakes the wave of nausea off because she's fine. Other people are suffering more than her right now.

Chihiro, Hina, Mukuro…

Junko doesn't need to hog all of the attention.

And so she roughly dries herself off with a towel, making sure to be extra rough with her body to punish herself for being dramatic. Her issues aren't that big. She can handle them.

She's fine.

She changes into her normal clothes and dries her hair. Junko flicks the hair that always stands up.

Maybe she should cut it off… Her managers never liked the thing and forced her to wear her hair up to hide it.

She needs her stuff back from Mukuro so she can put her hair up. They'll be mad when they find out Junko had her hair down.

Junko bites her lip. She dyed her hair to its original color. No no no, they never liked red. Said it was too flashy and blonde was the best.

Stupid pathetic Junko always ruining shit for everyone!

She needs to dye her hair back, get into their good graces.

Junko hurriedly nods to herself as she slips her shoes on and leaves her cottage. She… She needs to make it up to everyone for being so useless.

First thing on her list: Find Mukuro and Hiro. They have to be somewhere on Jabberwock Island, for they can't leave since there isn't any type of transportation available.

Second thing on her list: Bring HIFAK and the others together. The possibility that murder would occur with both groups together is… high, but it's much lower than it is now. Get the band back together and vibe together. Piece of cake.

Third thing on her list: Be a better sister to Mukuro. She's always been a pathetic younger sister, so she needs to be better.

Fourth--

Ding dong! Bing bong!

Junko freezes outside by the pool. A startled Chihiro, a frightened Sayaka, and a distant Leon freeze as well.

All four pairs of eyes slowly turn to the monitor in the area. Monokuma's face is plastered on the screen, paw swirling his martini arrogantly.

"A body has been discovered! After a short time for investigation, we will start a 'class trial'!" Monokuma states before leaning closer. "Please gather at the library!"

Junko's blood runs cold. She turns and bolts to the second island, panic and fear in her chest. Three pairs of footsteps barrel behind her, but they aren't what Junko is focused on.

Please don't let it be Mukuro. Please don't let it be Mukuro. Please don't let it be Mukuro.

She slows to a stop at the library's entrance. Her clammy hands push the doors open.

Sakura is catatonic, standing in front of Junko and blocking her view.

Junko peeks around Sakura and immediately wishes she hadn't.

Both dried and wet blood cakes the floor, setting the scene for something more gruesome than Mondo's murder.

Junko shouldn't be surprised at the victim; however, her eyes widen and her jaw drops. She hears Chihiro’s and Sayaka's scream of fear and Leon's cry of anger and disbelief.

The victim didn't deserve to die like this. The victim didn't deserve this.

Aoi Asahina, the Ultimate Swimming Pro, didn't deserve to be pinned to the wall and left to bleed out to death.

Chapter Text

Jesus christ…

Junko wants to puke. The smell is awful. The air is stagnant, sitting still and invading Junko's senses with ease.

Hina… She's dead. Somebody killed her.

"My my my! When things get going, they really get interesting!" Monokuma appears with a loud laugh.

Sakura trembles, but her eyes stay fixed on Hina's body. Her corpse.

Junko reaches out but flinches back at the last second before touching Sakura. She doesn't want to be an unfortunate victim of opportunity if Sakura snaps and decides to fling her across the library.

The other students arrive and cover their noses as well. The only exception to do so is Kyoko, who immediately looks at Hina's body with a tilt of her head.

Junko runs her fingers through her hair and presses her palm against her forehead. Good God.

"So I was right in my prediction that Hina would be the next victim," Celeste breaks the tense silence. Junko whips her head in her direction, and she almost pulls something in her neck. "Ah. I do love a good gamble to guess the next victim."

"Y-You aren't serious, right?!" Leon scoots a few feet away from the gambler, a grimace on his face.

Celeste smiles. "Of course I am,"

"So the airhead was next to go," Byakuya states. He smirks. "Those who resist this game can only go so far, I suppose."

"Asshole! She was tryna--"

"What? She divided the group into two with the…" The heir curls his lip. "HIFAK nonsense. If anything, I say she deserved this."

Junko frowns. Hina… deserved this? She deserved to be pinned to the fucking wall like a painting and shown on display? No, she didn't. Even if Junko and Hina had issues the last few days, the swimmer definitely didn't deserve to be hung on the wall and practically mocked.

Something comes to Junko's mind.

"Hey, bear, where the hell are Hiro and Muku? Aren't they supposed to be here?" Junko crosses her arms and glares down at the monochromatic bear.

Monokuma huffs and holds up his paws. "It isn't my fault they decided to go off and disappear! Maybe you should apply that same logic to the depressing writer, then," He giggles at the many bemused looks.

Makoto pales as he glances around. "She… Toko isn't here!"

"Wh-What?!" Hifumi bites his meaty fingers and fidgets in place. "Ms. Fukawa is dead!"

"She might not be, so don't jump to conclusions," Kyoko glances behind her. "Right now, we need to solves Hina's murder and win the class trial. If we vote wrong…"

"Grrr! I'll getcha and kill ya!" The bear waves his paws around wildly. "All of ya!"

Junko allows her arms to fall by her sides while she tips her head back. Relax… Freaking out won't do anyone any good. She already freaked out earlier and all day yesterday, so she's fine now.

Kyoko is right. The trial is the most important thing right now next to Hina's murder. Toko can wait a little while and so can Hiro and Mukuro.

"Since you bastards are all on the same page," Monokuma stands proudly, and multiple chimes echo around the library. "Here's the Monokuma File! See you guys at the trial!"

Monokuma disappears.

The air is tense and silence fills the students' ears. Then a choked sound escapes someone's throat.

"M-Ms. Ogami?" Hifumi feebly questions.

Sakura has tears streaming down her angular face and dripping down her chin. At last, her emotions break free. She rushes to Hina's side and kneels next to the wall, quietly sobbing and pressing her forehead to Hina's side.

Junko swallows and quickly looks away, gritting her teeth to stop the biting words that wish to escape her mouth. She knows it's wrong, but she wants to curse at everyone and yell and scream.

But she can't. Not right now. Right now, she has to be perfectly and utterly fine.

Let's hope Hiro, Mukuro, and Toko turn up soon. Junko thinks.

She takes in a deep breath and shuffles meekly to Hina's body. Wait, before she does anything, Junko should read the Monokuma File. The fashionista pulls her e-Handbook out of her blazer pocket.

The victim's body was discovered on the bottom floor of the library.

The time of death is around 10:30.

The victim has shown signs of having marijuana intake. There are multiple puncture wounds over the victim's body, minor bruising, scratches in their throat, and pokes at their mouth.

Junko furrows her brows together. No cause of death… It must have some significance in the case, then, if it's blocked out.

Now… onto Hina's body.

Taking a deep breath, Junko slides past Sakura and stands in front of Hina's body. She hesitates to touch the once living girl, but she pushes past the barrier and examines the puncture wounds mentioned in the file.

Her eyes narrow at the small holes. Ducking her head, Junko peers at the objects holding Hina's body to the wall.

… Nails? As in, from a nail gun or something?

There's a lot of nails holding her body to the wall, so the culprit must have gotten the necessary items from the hardware store. She'll have to stop by there later.

New Truth Bullet: Nails

Junko narrows her eyes and leans in closer to look past the blood covering Hina's body. In frustration, she peels back one of the body's sleeves and wipes away a small amount of blood.

"Huh…" The fashionista hums. The coloring around a few holes in Hina's wrist are… strange. There's bruising, but Junko is sure the puncture wounds were made post-mortem.

New Truth Bullet: Puncture Wounds

If the puncture wounds were made post-mortem like Junko predicts, then why is there this much blood on Hina's body? It poured down from the holes in Hina's body and stained her clothes. Post-mortem blood shouldn't function like this, so why…?

New Truth Bullet: Amount Of Blood

The fashionista's eyes travel back up to Hina's face, noting something strange.

Her… mouth is sewn closed?

Junko takes a step forward and leans in close. Yeah, she saw it correctly. Hina's lips are sealed shut tightly yet sloppily by a barely visible thread.

Why would the killer do this? Was there a point in doing so?

New Truth Bullet: Sewn Mouth

Junko sighs. She takes a step back to simply look over the body. Her red eyes scan the wall behind the body, the space underneath the body, the stiffness of Hina's fingers and eyelids, everything.

Stupid Monokuma and his shitty Monokuma File. Why can't it just hand over all of the information instead of having inexperienced teenagers search around?

Junko looks to Sakura, who has fallen silent. "Hey, Sakura?"

The martial artist looks up, her eyelids now red and raw from crying. Junko grimaces. "Yes, Junko?"

"I-I… I'm not accusing you of anything, I know you wouldn't do… this," Junko gestures to Hina's body. Sakura sniffles and nods. Has she ever looked so… weak before now? "Ah, uh… What were you doing at ten thirty?"

Sakura closes her eyes. She nods. "Ten thirty… Chihiro, Makoto, and I were doing a group training session. Kyoko was doing something. Mukuro and Hiro were supposed to join us, but they've…"

Junko nods stiffly.

"We all arrived on the first island beach exactly at ten a.m. and ended at eleven thirty," Sakura finishes. "I could have protected her…"

Junko falls silent.

New Truth Bullet: Sakura's Account

"Thanks for the info, Sakura, and…" The fashionista's eyes drift to Hina's dead body. "I'm sorry about Hina. Did you two get to…?"

"No…"

Junko jerkily nods her head. "If you need me, I'll be over there. I don't think there's anything else to investigate here,"

Sakura says nothing, so Junko turns and walks away.

"Ah, Junko, I was hoping to talk to you," Celeste says as she walks up to the fashionista. She pauses. "You… changed your looks."

Wasn't this already addressed? Unless Celeste wasn't paying attention. Junko sweatdrops.

Junko folds her arms across her chest. "You wanna talk to me? The most gorgeous girl in the world?"

"I… suppose so," The gambler rolls her eyes. Junko wants to deck her in the face. "I wanted to tell you my alibi so as to not be accused as the blackened. Hmhmhm… I didn't want to come to you, but you just so happen to be the smartest person here."

"... Thanks…"

"Right. I saw the time of death was approximately ten thirty, and I just so happened to be with people during that time,"

"OK?"

"It was in the restaurant. Sayaka had accidentally offended Toko greatly," Celeste twirls some of her hair between her fingers as she glances off to the side. "She responded as she always would, with insults… much more vulgar ones… before leaving the restaurant at around eleven o'clock. We had all been there since about ten."

Junko furrows her brows. "Who all had been there?"

"Why… Sayaka, Toko, Hifumi, and I, of course. I gave Hifumi plenty of chances to get my milk tea right, but he still cannot perfect it," She sighs. "I suppose he will always be an F-Rank now. Oh, who were we talking about, D-Rank?"

The fashionista glares.

New Truth Bullet: Celeste's Account

Junko walks away while giving the gambler the stink eye. Celeste smiles and turns and walks away. Junko scoffs and looks forward.

Her eyes lock onto both Kyoko and Leon, who are near the back of the library with a book open and on the table. Curious, she heads over and glances down at the book.

"Genocider Syo again, I see. Is this how we'll meet in the library from now on, detective?" Junko tries to lighten the mood, but the frown tugging on her lips doesn't help.

Kyoko glances up. For a split second, Junko sees concern in the detective's cool gaze. The detective straightens her back and cups her chin.

"Junko, I'd like to ask you something," Kyoko says.

"Shoot,"

"Does it seem stuffy in here to you?" Kyoko tugs at the collar of her button down shirt. She glances around the library. "The air is heavy."

Leon scratches his chin. "Yeah, it felt really weird when we went into the library. Thought it was 'cause of the… dead body smell,"

"While that may be the case, we should check for any disruptions in the ventilation,"

Junko nods. Now that she thinks about it, the air in the library does seem weird. She'll have to check it out later.

"So… Genocider Syo?" Junko places her hands flat on the table and eyes the book.

"Mhm!" Leon nods his head. "When I saw the body, I was like, 'Yo, I saw the position of this body before!', and I remembered this damn book."

"Has… everyone seen this book?" The fashionista sweatdrops.

Kyoko shakes her head. "No, not everyone. Sayaka, Makoto, and Celeste claim to know nothing about it,"

"Psh, yeah, but the goth is a damn liar," Junko scoffs and rolls her eyes. She throws an evil glare at Celeste over her shoulder.

"She's got a point," The baseball player scratches his head.

"I haven't asked Toko, Hiro, or Mukuro about it yet because…" The detective pinches the bridge of her nose and sighs. "all three of them happen to be missing."

Junko swipes the book from the other side of the table and reads over the pages. She taps her finger against each name--each victim--and the pictures of the deaths.

Leon is right, Hina's death and presentation is nearly identical to the victims in this book. The only issues are the fact that Hina is a girl and not a guy, there isn't a giant "Bloodlust" near the body, and Genocider Syo's scissors aren't pinning Hina to the wall--nails are. Is this a copycat killer impersonating Toko's killings?

Would you look at that… "The serial killer most likely has dissociative identity disorder…"

New Truth Bullet: Genocider Syo Book

Hina's death is getting stranger and stranger. It's so obvious… Or is someone trying to frame Toko?

Questions pile on top of questions.

Junko sighs and pushes the book back to Leon and Kyoko. "I think I'm gonna check the ventilation. There might be a problem with it,"

She turns to leave, but Kyoko's voice stops her.

"I checked on you earlier. You didn't seem too well, and I was… worried," She raises a brow. "And sleeping in the shower can be bad for you, by the way."

Junko furrows her brows and glances over her shoulder. She glides over the fact Kyoko saw her naked in the shower asleep. "When?"

"I stayed with you from about ten to around one in the afternoon. You were pretty out of it, but you wouldn't get out of the shower,"

God, that's embarrassing. What if Kyoko doesn't like how her ass looks?

Actually… even if Junko happened to be out of it, she most likely would have remembered the encounter if it wasn't any of her alters. By the way Kyoko is saying this, it was obviously Junko.

So why doesn't she partly remember what Kyoko is talking about?

"I passed by Toko, actually, a few minutes before one. She was acting weird, but she said something about guarding the maze," The detective raises her head and looks deeply into Junko's eyes. "We need to fix your door. If anyone else knew, you could be the next victim."

Junko heart lurches. Her cheeks redden. Looking away, she splutters. "Uh huh, of course! But I just so happen to be Junko fucking Enoshima!"

She hurriedly struts away and pointedly ignores Leon's sighed "disaster woman lover". He can go suck a dick, Junko doesn't care.

Junko climbs up the ladder to the balcony and walks along the flooring to the vent. She slows in her steps and comes to a stop just to the side of the vent.

The vent… is open?

The vent cover is placed off to the side on a bookshelf and the screws are laying on the floor.

Kneeling down, Junko peeks into the dark vent. At the end of the vent where there's supposed to be a blade circulating the air, is nothing.

… Please don't let me regret this. Junko takes in a huge breath before crawling into the vent. She slides down the vent with a loud yell that echoes against the metal around her.

Junko closes her eyes, waiting for her death, but is surprised when she tumbles out of the library. She slides against the grass roughly with a groan, her ass in the air.

At least she didn't die…?

Pushing herself up, Junko turns her body and glares at the steep vent. It connects to the side of the library, making a convenient exit strategy.

Despite the vent entrance being fairly large, the tunnel is narrow. Junko notes, scratching at her peeling arms which now sting from the friction of metal against her.

New Truth Bullet: Air Vent

A flash of red and white catches her attention. Junko shuffles over towards a bush and practically beats it up to fish out whatever is inside of it.

She pulls out a fairly large bundle of bandages, soaked in blood. Her mouth turns down, a grimace pulling at her lips. Who the hell got hurt?

She pulls the bandages apart, but she notices something strange. These aren't regular bandages. They have initials if a name labelled on one if the ends.

SO

SO… Sakura Ogami? Why are Sakura's signature bandages at the scene of the crime?

New Truth Bullet: Bloody Bandages

Junko drops the bandages and reels back circling her temples with her fingers. She still can't be rid if this stupid headache…

Sighing, Junko stands up and pulls the slip of paper from the supermarket from her blazer, crumpled and torn a little. Could this note be connected to the murder?

"Where did you get that?!" Monokuma appears in an angry huff. He swipes the paper from a startled Junko and makes it disappear from thin air. "You can't go around having stuff that belongs to other people! What if you found out something you don't wanna know?"

Junko scowls. "What--I found that fair and square at the supermarket! You can't take it from me!"

The bear stamps his foot childishly. "Yes, I can, for I am Monokuma!"

"Stupid bear!"

"Plastic ass!"

"No, it's not!" Junko hisses. "What does that note mean anyway, and why're you just now taking it from me?"

Monokuma falls silent. Then he laughs his signature laugh. "Upupupu… Puhuhuhuhuhu! If ya wanna know that badly, I'll tell ya!" He covers his mouth with his paws. "Just don't get your panties in a twist!"

Junko rolls her eyes. "OK, I won't…"

"Would you believe me if I said it was from someone from the outside?"

The fashionista's mind stutters to a stop. From the outside? Someone from outside the island sent this note for someone here?

The traitor maybe…?

"That's ridiculous, we would've seen a boat or helicopter or… or something!" The redhead scowls at the monochromatic bear, who struggles to stifle his giggles. "What? What's so funny?"

"Puhuhu! Oh, nothing," Monokuma smirks. "It's just so weird to see you struggle like this! Information is your thing, but you can't process a single thing! Doesn't that make you mad, despairingly mad?"

Junko rolls her eyes and walks away from Monokuma, silently seething at the bear's annoying cackles.

Stupid fucking bear.

Thinking about it further, Junko remembers the complications with a few of their doors--Sakura, Makoto, Chihiro, Hina, Mukuro, and Junko.

If Sakura was lying earlier, which Junko doubts, then she could have left some evidence in her cottage. There shouldn't be anything else at the library to check for now, but she can always return later.

Junko walks away from the library and leaves the second island, heading to the first island swiftly. The gears in her head turn and click, some solutions being solved while others are still locked tightly in their boxes.

When she arrives at the hotel, Junko immediately goes to the boys plus Chihiro side of the cottages. She pushes Makoto's door open and gapes.

A nail gun is laying on the lucky student's floor like it was innocent.

Junko bites her lip as she starts forward hesitantly. She picks up the object, grunting from the unexpected weight, and examines it.

The nail gun has a slight amount of blood on it where the nail comes out. The fashionista frowns.

Shouldn't there be more blood on it if Hina died by blood loss? Unless…

No, don't jump to conclusions. There was a shit ton of blood caking the floor and Hina's body.

The real question is: Why is this nail gun in Makoto's room?

New Truth Bullet: Nail Gun

Junko sets the nail gun back onto the floor. She bites her bottom lip and strokes her chin.

She turns and begins to walk away when she stops. The door, which she left open, reveals a secret Junko never noticed before.

On the black, metal door frame, is a small and thin black thing sticking to the frame. Her hand reaches out and tugs at the thing, and a strip of tape pulls back into Junko's hand.

She startles, eyes going round. The tape is the same shade of black the door frame is…

Junko closes the door and gasps when the lock clicks. What the…? It was that simple? There's tape on the doors? That's it?!

Junko presses the tape against her forearm and jogs to Chihiro's cottage. She opens the door and picks at the door frame, peeling off the tape she knew would be there.

Sakura's door is the same, tape on the door frame. Junko's door frame peels off tape as well.

Holy shit…

But… Why is the tape there in the first place?

New Truth Bullet: Taped Doors

OK… Progress is being made.

Junko goes into her cottage and has a look around, finding nothing incriminating inside. She skips Mukuro's and Hina's doors for now.

She goes inside of Sakura's cottage and looks around swiftly. Her eyes wander to a small stand full of wrapped bandages clearly for injuries. It's supposed to have fifteen rolled bandages in the cubbies, but one is missing. The one from the library?

New Truth Bullet: Bandages Stand

Things are slowly piecing together.

Junko searches Chihiro's room next, finding nothing of value inside.

Now for the actual broken doors. The fashionista sighs as she walks to Hina's cottage first. She expects to find nothing in the dead girl's room, only evil dictator plans and donuts. Probably trophies, but not this.

The room is a mess. As if there was a struggle. Things are knocked over and there is blood on the floor. A pair of elegant scissors are sticking out of a wooden statue of a donut, fresh blood staining the steel red.

New Truth Bullet: State Of Room

Junko swallows thickly. She slowly circles the room to check out all of the suspicious activity around the room.

She slides the tips of her fingers along the blood on the floor. This looks pretty recent.

Hina must have put up a good struggle.

New Truth Bullet: Hina's Blood

She turns her attention to the scissors stuck in the wooden donut. Her eyes narrow at the sleekness of the design, the shine when the light hits it. Junko gasps.

Genocider Syo! Those are her scissors! So Toko really…

They are covered with fresh blood, meaning they must have attacked someone earlier today. 

New Truth Bullet: Genocider Syo's Scissors

Junko bites her lip. She goes to stand up when something catches her eyes behind the donut. Reaching behind the wooden statue, Junko pulls out a bowl for weed smoking.

Or… that's what it's supposed to be.

The bowl is broken in half, and a few shards of glass are still behind the donut. Why the hell is this here?

New Truth Bullet: Broken Bowl

Junko puts the bowl back and turns to walk away when her boot hits the table the donut is sitting on. Shocked, Junko flinches when the object hits the ground with a small thud.

She goes to pick it up, but something else catches her eye. Mukuro's gloves…

Junko carefully picks the gloves up and holds them close to her face. At a first glance, they look normal enough--boring, but normal--but there are small shards of glass poking the fabric.

Huh…

New Truth Bullet: Mukuro's Gloves

Dropping the gloves on the table, Junko bites her thumb. Her red eyes scan over the room one more time before she sighs. Nothing else to discover here.

Junko exits Hina's cottage and goes next door to Mukuro's cottage. She jiggles the lock like she did Hina's and enters the room. Almost immediately, she screams.

"Holy fucking fuckery!"

Inside of Mukuro's cottage is the missing Toko Fukawa. Her injured wrist is missing its bandages, and she has two deep cuts into her wrist. A large nail is through her hand, the pointed side facing the ceiling. Her chest rises and falls slowly, but she doesn't seem to be breathing deeply.

Junko, worried out of her mind, rushes forward and grabs Toko's shoulders, shaking her roughly. The writer stirs and groans but doesn't wake up.

"Hey, don't fucking die on me!" Junko shakes the girl faster and faster. She pulls back after a moment, gritting her teeth. "You asked for this…"

Junko raises her hand and slaps Toko across the face. The latter jolts with a pained gasp, her throat seemingly dry from the wheeze that passed through. Junko hurriedly slides the nail from the writer's palm, but the latter doesn't notice.

Toko's mellow eyes lock onto Junko. "Th-The swimmer! You… S-Someone… hurt--"

Junko's stomach coils. "Calm it down, Stephanie Meyer. Deep breaths, come on,"

Junko exaggerates her breathing, sucking in huge gasps of air and blowing it out in heavy puffs. Toko struggles but manages to match her pace, her breathing slowing down from its previous fast pace.

"OK… Good, that's good. Now," Junko takes her polka dot tie off and ties it around Toko's wrist and palm. She pulls tightly to stop the bleeding, ignoring the small wail of protest from Toko. "Toko, tell me what happened."

Toko fumbles her uninjured hand up to fix her crooked glasses, eyes closed tightly. She is in deep thought, as if trying to recall certain events.

"Last night…"

"What about last night?" Junko asks.

Toko scowls. "D-Don't interrupt me you bimbo!" Junko sighs, but Toko continues with her story. "Last night, uh… the i-idiot swimmer, wannabe rockstar, a-and I-I were coming back from sm-smoking."

Junko furrows her brows together. Why is she telling what happened last night when the crime happened this morning?

"I-I was really out o-of it, and so was th-the swimmer. Leon didn't sm-smoke because he said he w-was our adoptive dad," The writer opens her eyes and winces. "Hina and I w-were supposed to stay t-together…" She mumbles something uncertain under her breath. "But I went to my c-cottage to do something, and H-Hina went to hers…"

Junko needs to pry more out of the girl. "And then what? Details, Toko, you can do it,"

"G-Ghhh--" Toko shakes her head. "I was o-only gone for about thirty minutes! I came b-back, and someone was ch-choking her! Th-Their fingers were in her mouth! I don't even know wh-who it was…"

If what Toko is saying is true, then…

"I saw bl-blood on the floor and… p-passed out…" Toko chokes on a sob. "I just woke up… I-Is she OK? Um… uh, ghh… H-Hina…"

Junko draws her bottom lip between her teeth and stays silent. Taking the silence as an answer, Toko whimpers.

"How p-pathetic can I-I be? Can't even save m-my fr… a-acquaintance…"

Toko… Junko curses inwardly.

New Truth Bullet: Toko's Account

Junko sighs. "OK… You did good, Toko, I promise,"

"I-I'm sorry…" Toko whimpers into the palm of her hand.

The redhead awkwardly pats the writer on her shoulder, not sure how to comfort a cactus like Toko. She's prickly, but she has it for self defense. A crying Toko isn't something Junko hoped to see.

Toko's supposed to always be a prick.

"I doubt you wanna see… Hina's body at the library, so how 'bout we look for Muku and Hiro?" Junko gently pulls the girl up to her feet and helps her stumble out of the cottage.

Toko huffs, but it isn't as snarky as it used to be. "I d-don't really have a ch-choice…"

The two slowly leave the first island and go to the second one. Junko shields Toko's eyes from the commotion surrounding the library and leads her to the hardware store.

"Why're we here?" Toko mutters.

"'Cause Hina's body was… uh…"

"Just say it as it is, Junko," The snarky and arrogant voice of Byakuya leers from one of the aisles. He walks out and crosses his arms, raising a brow at Toko. "So you found the slacker? What, was she writing romance novels and singing Hallelujah in her cottage?"

Junko bristles. "Dude, fuck you!"

"No thanks. I have higher standards and a different preference from what you offer," Byakuya rolls his eyes. "I suppose you two are here because of the vent and chain parts?"

Junko understands the vent because it needed to be unscrewed and stuff, but chains?

"Ch-Chains?" Toko looks up.

The heir sneers. "Right. You decided to be a loser and leave the investigating to the smarter people. I suppose I must thank you for not getting in the way,"

Toko makes a small, obscene sound. Junko wants to drop her.

"When the female brute busted down the library doors, she broke chains that were keeping the body locked inside," The blond sighs. "If it weren't for the chains, the airhead's body would have been discovered sooner. I wonder who locked the library…

"I digress. You and I seem to be on the same wavelength, though, Junko," Byakuya hums. "Make no mistake, you are still below me. I am superior."

The heir goes to walk away, slipping past the two girls. He stops and hands Junko something.

"I found this stuffed inside of the airhead's mouth. I doubt you found it, for I took it before anyone else saw it," He grins. "Who knows, maybe she choked to death?"

He leaves the hardware store.

New Truth Bullet: Chains

Toko looks at the dry, crumbled sheet of paper. "That… w-was in the sw-swimmer's mouth?" She looks and sounds grossed out because Byakuya stuck his hands inside a dead person's mouth.

Junko shifts her hand, holding Toko slightly closer to her body as she opens the paper.

Congrats! You found all of your memories inside of the maze! Does this make you absolutely hate that bubbly swimmer now? She took away the one person who gave you the time of day and more! Maybe she'll take that person away from you too! I mean, she is going crazy, right? Who knows when she'll snap and kill? The SK might be able to help you there!

Jesus Christ…

New Truth Bullet: Maze Motive Note

Junko takes a deep breath, pocketing the note in her blazer. Toko leans into her and grumbles.

"What n-now?" She scowls.

"I'm thinking about it," Junko shoots back at the writer. Toko flushes red in frustration.

The two walk outside of the hardware store, deeming the place searched thoroughly by Byakuya. They reach the maze and are about to pass it when a voice shouts.

"Ko-Ko! Token!"

Junko and Toko freeze. They turn back to the maze where two people, one on the other's back, stumble out of the maze.

Hiro slips off of Mukuro's back and falls flat on his back, laughing happily. Mukuro rests against him, her head on his stomach.

"Mukuro!" Junko picks Toko up and jogs over, ignoring the shout of surprise. She slows and carefully lowers the dazed Toko to sit on the grass. Junko kneels herself and takes Mukuro's face in her trembling hands.

"You're bleeding; why are you bleeding? Have you been in there all this time? What--" Mukuro smooshes her index finger against Junko's mouth, making the younger sister resemble a fish.

"Hey, calm down, I'm good…" Mukuro's face forms into one of bemusement. "Why's there tape on your arm? A-And you split your knuckles… You're peeling. Are you shedding? Are you a snake?" Mukuro whispers loudly.

Junko cringes. "Ugh…"

The soldier relaxes against Hiro once more, both of them looking ready to pass out. Junko glances back at Toko with a raised brow, and the writer shrugs.

"Why were you two in the maze?" Junko asks.

Hiro lifts his head. "Thought I saw a ghost, y'know, and someone attacked us,"

"Hiro's Achilles heel was severed," The soldier presses her palm to her forehead. "I slammed into a wall. Prolly a concussion…"

"Why d-did you two stay in the maze?" Toko asks, biting her thumb. Her mellow eyes watch the two cautiously yet with gratefulness. "Couldn't you j-just get o-out?"

"Nah… the walls were always moving and time flew fast, apparently," The man chuckles. "We were in there for two days? That's crazy…"

Mukuro snorts.

Junko sighs. "Let me catch you two up on my investigation…"

Junko explains everything. From the victim to all of the evidence and Truth Bullets she collected herself; the fashionista didn't, however, share her thoughts on who she believed the killer to be.

By the end of the lengthy explanation, both Mukuro and Hiro had paled drastically.

"Hina's dead…?" Mukuro shakes her head. "No, but she was so… so invincible!"

The fashionista sighs. "I get it. Really, I do, but now isn't the time for sitting around like this and playing with ourselves,"

"Playing with ourselves? We weren't... Never mind," The soldier reaches into her pocket and pulls out a sleek, futuristic tablet. On the back is Monokuma's signature face, his eye a brighter shade of red. "This was in the center of the maze. It took a lil bit, but we found the data core and got this. It shows all student IDs of who entered and exited the maze."

Junko takes the tablet and clicks it on.

BP-0147 HAS ENTERED THE MAZE - 4 Days Ago, 09:47

BP-0147 HAS EXITED THE MAZE - 4 Days Ago, 10:34

JB-5582 HAS ENTERED THE MAZE - 4 Days Ago, 15:09

JB-5582 HAS EXITED THE MAZE - 3 Days Ago, 04:24

JB-5582 HAS ENTERED THE MAZE - 2 Days Ago, 08:15

WS-1945 HAS ENTERED THE MAZE - 2 Days Ago, 17:40

AS-2947 HAS ENTERED THE MAZE - 2 Days Ago, 17:40

GO-1984 HAS ENTERED THE MAZE - 2 Days Ago, 17:42

JB-5582 HAS EXITED THE MAZE - 2 Days Ago, 17:45

GO-1984 HAS EXITED THE MAZE - 2 Days Ago, 17:46

WS-1945 HAS EXITED THE MAZE - Today, 17:24

AS-2947 HAS EXITED THE MAZE - Today, 17:24

Jesus Christ… Junko rubs her chin as she works to process the information her brain is soaking up.

New Truth Bullet: Maze IDs

Passing the tablet back to Mukuro, Junko scratches the back of her neck. She sighs.

"We're gonna go and look at the crime scene now…" Mukuro says. She stands and hoists Hiro up. "We'll see you guys at the trial."

Junko watches them go, plopping down more comfortably on the ground. She sighs.

She has suspicion on that person because of something they said.

"Hey, Toko," The writer tiredly looks up, and the bags under her eyes look extremely dark. "Who do you think the killer is?"

Toko stays silent for a moment, as if thinking of who it could be. "I'm not sure… But you said H-Hina was pinned to the wall?"

Junko nods. "Yeah, by some nails,"

"Nails?" Toko seems taken aback.

"Yeah, nothing too suspicious," Junko narrows her eyes. "What, did you think some scissors pinned her up or some shit?"

Toko sputters. Her face goes red and she shakes her head frantically. Junko wants to laugh at how panicked the girl looks.

"N-No! Of course not, th-that'd be ridiculous!"

Junko hums.

The pair sits in a comfortable silence before four familiar chimes.

Ding, dong! Bing, bong!

The monitor off to the side flickers on, shaking Monokuma with his drink.

"The time for poking about is done! The time for fighting it out has come! It’s the ultimate battle of wits for your lives! It’s the fight for your right to survive! Who lives?! Who dies?! Who’s guilty?! Who isn’t?! It’s the second! Class! Trial! By which I mean... Would all students please gather at Monokuma Rock! The hidden elevator will be waiting to take you underground. Upupupu... See you later!"

"... Guess investigation is officially over now," Junko helps Toko stand. "Are you fine with walking by yourself?"

Toko scowls. "Don't baby me l-like I-I'm some sort of b-baby! I bet y-you're thinking I was an ugly child!"

"Seriously?" Junko deadpans.

Toko storms away, nearly falling over. Junko shakes her head and follows the writer until they reach the central island.

They're the last ones to arrive, even Mukuro and Hiro being faster than Junko and Toko.

"Fashionably late, bitches!" Junko sends the group a peace sign.

Toko grumbles.

"Since we're all here, I guess we can go up now," Mukuro says. She helps Hiro onto the escalator and rides up behind him.

Junko follows everyone else on the escalator. They reach the top and enter the elevator.

Junko stands off to the side, not quite in the center next to Makoto. She's stuck in her head, thoughts swimming all around her.

Another game to test their luck. To test their smarts. Only this time, it isn't as clear who the killer is to the others. But not to Junko. Oh, she knows who it is.

And they are going down.

She believes in the class. She believes in her older sister. Junko knows they won't believe her, bit with all of the shit she's been pulling, but they listen to Mukuro.

Mukuro is like their hope. During the trial, at least. Any other time, Makoto takes the role.

Junko sends a glance over at the killer, only to find them staring back at her. She grins and relishes the hate and fear in their eyes.

Let's do this shit.

The elevator descends deeper and deeper, pulling down their spirits and hope with it.

Chapter Text

The doors to the elevator slid open with it's horrible creaking sound.

Mukuro grimaces as she steps forward, supporting Hiro with his arm over her shoulders. Her head still aches and her ears still ring, but she isn't bleeding anymore. Hiro is really good at stitches. He's learned a lot from his mom.

Her light purple eyes squint at the brightness of the room, noticing that the walls seem to be a different color. The lighting feels different, too; it's more vibrant and as if Monokuma is wanting Mukuro to suffer.

Speaking of Monokuma, he's lounging on his throne while twirling a baguette in his paws. The rope hanging beside the throne is empty.

Mukuro is slightly concerned. She thought Monomi was going to be joining all of the class trials from now on.

The students shuffle forward and to their podiums. Hiro's podium has a chair placed in it so he can sit down.

Hina… She's dead.

The Ultimate Swimming Pro, Aoi Asahina… Mukuro and Hina were becoming friends. As much as Mukuro disliked her ways of defying Monokuma, she still respected the swimmer greatly.

And one of the other students killed her.

Another traitor in the ranks. One who stealthily killed Hina and might get away with it. There's no other choice that can be made. The innocent students must counter the blackened and win the class trial, bringing to light their terrible deeds.

Another sacrifice for the majority… Mukuro knows she has to do it. She has to help guide everyone in the class trial.

This class trial… Another battle between the innocent and the guilty. The blackened and the spotless.

Will we be able to do it? Mukuro clenches her jaw. Can we find the blackened? Was the first time just a lucky guess?

"Before we begin, let me explain the rules of the class trial in simple terms," Monokuma says. "Your task is to reason out the identity of the culprit, and vote on who to accuse!

"Should you correctly identify the culprit, they alone shall be punished! But if you vote for the wrong person… Then everyone except the culprit shall be punished, and the culprit shall be given permission to leave the island!"

Hiro sweatdrops. "Do you have'ta say that every time, or…?"

Mukuro glances around at the three photos of the deceased students. Mondo's is replaced with two pickaxes instead of a pink cross. Taka with two pieces of chalk in front of him. Hina… with two donuts over her eyes.

"I just can't believe someone would kill again," Makoto grips his podium tightly, jaw tense.

"I know how you feel," Kyoko reassures the boy. Her face hardens. "But right now, we have to find the blackened and win the class trial."

Makoto flinches but nods.

"How the hell're we even supposed to start now?" Leon looks off to the side. He sighs. "Last time we had suspicious people, but no one really seems that suspicious."

"Then don't talk about the suspicious people," Junko leans against her podium and smirks. Mukuro raises her eyebrow because Junko's actually helping the class trial. "Talk about something else. Like the timeline."

Hifumi slaps his hands on his cheeks and gasps. "Will it be as complicated as the FNAF timeline?! That could be too cruel for us!"

The soldier tilts her head. "FNAF… timeline?"

"I-It's a stupid video game about d-dead children haunting animatronics…" Toko says. She picks at Junko's tie that's still wrapped around her wrist.

"Ah…" Mukuro nods, but she's freaked out on the inside.

"The timeline of events…" Byakuya pushes his glasses up with a disappointed frown. "We already know what happened."

Mukuro focuses on the discussion.

Hiro scratches his head. "Wait… What happened? Me and Kuro didn't have enough time to investigate,"

"Oh my--" Chihiro sighs loudly. "Hina died!"

"We got that part 'cause of the body…" Leon mumbles.

"And it's pretty obvious how she died," Sayaka nods her head in determination. She leans forward and grips the wooden podium in front of her. "Hina died due to blood loss from being pinned to the wall!"

"Oh, I get it now!" Hiro nods with a grin. "Thanks!"

Mukuro frowns. What that person said…

"That statement is false!"

Sayaka jumps and her eyes widen when Mukuro points at her. "Wh-What?"

"Sayaka, I know you don't have experience with bodies, but there's something you should know--that you all should know," The soldier taps her fingers against the podium.

It has to be that. The Puncture Wounds.

"Hina didn't die from blood loss."

Loud yells boom across the courtroom.

"What d'you mean Hina didn't die from blood loss?! Have you seen the fucking blood coming from her body?!" Leon raises his hand in a fist and yells.

"There's a difference between wounds before a murder and after a murder," Junko states. "From the bruising the nails made, it's only possible that Hina died before she was hung up."

"Wait…" Chihiro presses her finger to her chin. Her hazel eyes widen slightly. "If Hina didn't d-die from blood loss… then why was there so much blood on her?"

Mukuro is puzzled about the amount of blood too. There shouldn't be that much blood coming from a corpse hours after a murder. The blood was fresh…

"We'll just have to solve that now,” Kyoko says.

If Hina died at ten thirty in the morning, the only plausible answer would be that someone used Hina’s own blood. Mukuro frowns. Wait, that can’t be correct because Hina didn’t have any other wounds on her body besides the nails embedded into her body and the scratches in her throat. Unless…

“Are we even sure Hina died at the library this morning?” Mukuro speaks her thoughts before she has a chance to think more about it.

“I will beat that assumption down!”

Mukuro fumbles, wide eyes shooting to Sakura’s podium. The large girl is trembling, a shadow cast over her eyes threateningly at the suggestion Mukuro had presented.

“For you to say something like this…” Sakura clenches her jaw and shakes her head. “I cannot allow it any further!”

“Sakura, if you just listen to me, we can get through this trial and have justice for Hina’s death!” The soldier tries to reason, but she goes unheard.

“I will stop you! This is nonsense… It’s… It’s unacceptable!”

Mukuro sighs and hardens her gaze.

“Hina could not have died somewhere else… She was at the library!” Sakura exclaims as she hits her fist against her podium. “There is no other place she could have died!”

Mukuro shakes her head. “There are other places where Hina could have died! I want to cover all grounds and narrow it down before sticking with the library,”

“Mukuro, stop talking! She was killed in the library, and we still do not know how!” The martial glares at the soldier. “So please stop trying to bring up other places where Hina could have died. It isn’t right.”

“I’ll cut through your words!”

Mukuro firmly shakes her head. “Sakura, you may not be very accepting of the truth, but it’s something you need to hear,”

It has to be the State Of Room .

“Junko discovered that Hina’s room is a mess, as if she had been attacked in there,”

Sakura’s once furious face melts into one of bemusement and slight horror. “What…?” She turns to Junko, who is boredly staring at her nails. “What is the meaning of this?”

The fashionista looks up with a raised eyebrow. “Hm? Oh, yeah, Hina’s room was destroyed. Things were broken, shit was torn, Hina even left a surprise at the scene,”

Leon grumbles. “Way to not tell us what the hell it was…”

A surprise at the scene… Junko must be talking about Hina’s Blood, then.

“Apparently, Hina bled onto the floor in her cottage,” Mukuro says. She clicks her tongue. “But… if there were no external injuries…”

Kyoko speaks up. “The answer is there. You know it,”

Mukuro bites her bottom lip deeply, rolling it between her teeth. Does she know the answer, or is Kyoko bluffing? She closes her eyes.

What injury on Hina’s body could have made her bleed on the floor? T-H-R-O-A-T S-C-R-A-T-C-H-E-S

“I can prove it with this!”

Mukuro opens her eyes in determination. “The scratches in her throat…”

Hiro scratches his chin. “Uh, what?”

“Hina had scratches in her throat that the Monokuma File mentioned. It was minor, something that could be glossed over, but I bet Monokuma,” The soldier glares at the bear sitting innocently on his throne. “put it in a way that would make one believe she simply bled from being pinned to the wall.”

Monokuma gasps dramatically. “Moi? I would never do something like that!”

Sayaka hugs herself. “So then… How did Hina die?”

Mukuro bites her lip. Scratches in her throat, blood on the floor…

“She choked on her own blood…” Mukuro curses under her breath.

Junko nods. “Exactly. She died from asphyxiation. If anything, I thought she would’ve been drowned to death,” She claps her hands and ignores the horror on most people’s faces. “It’d be hella ironic considering she’s the Ultimate Swimming Pro, but the killer doesn’t like irony. Oh well…”

“I kinda wanna say that you’re the killer after that terrifying speech…” Leon gapes at the girl.

Junko shrugs. “I mean, you can vote me, but you’d die,”

“What exactly did Hina have in her throat that made her choke?” Chihiro asks.

Junko, Leon, and Hiro snicker. Byakuya rolls his eyes.

“Please phrase that differently…” Makoto blushes and buries his face in his hands.

Another discussion starts.

“Something sharp that could have choked Ms. Asahina…" Hifumi places his hands on his hips, and his voice lowers two octaves. “Why, it could have been the sword of heroes! Who could be worthy to pull it from stone, though? Only me!”

Celeste looks unimpressed. “So you are saying that you are the killer?”

“What?! N-No, of course not!”

“Where would we even find a sword anyway?” Sakura asks.

“Hell if I know,” Leon rolls his eyes.

Toko harrumphs. “M-Maybe we should e-execute him because of his i-idiotic ideas…”

“Oh!” Sayaka grins as she says her own input. “What if… Hina choked on something small? Like glass! Those make cuts!”

Leon cackles. “Only thing smaller than broken glass is Hifumi’s micro!”

“And yours,” Junko rolls her eyes. “I bet you’re lying about how much you’ve been to home base. I don’t think you’ve even had sex once.”

Kyoko sighs. “Now isn’t the time for such a discussion,”

Mukuro cups her chin. What that person said…

“I agree with that!”

“Sayaka, I think you’re correct,” The soldier places her hand on the podium. “Hina must have been cut with glass.”

The only thing Mukuro knows it could be is the Broken Bowl.

“When HIFAK met up in the library--for Hiro and I, it was once--we smoked…” Mukuro grimaces at a few startled looks.

Junko smirks. “Smoked what, Muku? Gotta be specific!”

“Weed, OK?! We smoked…” The soldier blushes. “weed. Anyway, inside of Hina’s room, there was a half broken bowl that belonged to Leon, and it had small glass shards lying around it.”

“Small enough to choke on and… die?” Sakura covers her mouth with her hand, trying to regain her composure. Mukuro nods.

The many screens above show a picture of the bowl.

“The shards are small enough for one to choke on and receive scratches deep enough to cause a great enough amount of blood to be able to choke on,”

“And how do you suppose the killer shoved the glass down Hina’s throat?” Celeste covers her mouth with her knuckles and stares intimidatingly at the soldier. “They would have harmed themselves.”

Not unless the killer used Mukuro’s Gloves to keep them from cutting themself.

“Actually, Celeste, they could’ve used my missing gloves, which, as you can see,” Mukuro points at the screens above. “have glass shards on them.”

“Huh…” Chihiro mumbles as she finishes swallowing a few pills.

“And who was using those gloves?” Byakuya cuts in after a long while. His blue eyes glare at the soldier, making her want to squirm. “Unless we know for certain who it is, we can’t vote and end the trial.”

Mukuro… agrees with the heir. Even if she doesn’t want to, he has a fair point about the voting and the blackened.

Another discussion begins.

"I have no idea what you guys were doing at ten thirty this morning," Leon crosses his arms and glares at the other students. "But I can promise I wasn't murdering Hina. She is… was HIFAK's leader!"

Celeste leans forward slightly and stares at Leon. "Is there anyone who can prove that?"

"Hey…" Leon grumbles.

"But… I happened to be at the restaurant," The gambler continues, cutting the orange-haired male off.

Leon scoffs. "Uh huh…"

"You… are kinda a liar, Celeste," Hiro squawks when the gambler turns her fierce red gaze on him. "Wah! I-I'm sorry! I just think you weren't at the restaurant!"

"Stop arguing!" Makoto exclaims. "Please!"

Mukuro clicks her tongue. Right…

"That statement is false!"

"Hiro, I know Celeste is a lying liar who lies at everything and to everyone, but she's telling the truth," The soldier cups her chin.

Yes, it has to be Celeste's Account.

"Celeste says she was in the restaurant with three other people during the murder," Mukuro points to the three people. "Toko, Sayaka, and Hifumi. If Celeste lied about where she was and who she was with, that'd be a huge mistake on her part. She'd be a suspect."

Hiro deflates. He turns his gaze to Sayaka. "Was… Was Celeste really at the restaurant?"

The idol nods firmly. "Mhm! Toko and Hifumi were there too, until Toko left a little after eleven," She taps her index finger to her chin. "So… us four are cleared as the blackened!"

Toko makes a small confused noise. "The restaurant…?"

Hifumi sighs loudly, holding his chest. "Oh! I didn't want to be suspected as the killer! Murder isn't my thing…" He pushes his glasses up with a smirk. "But saving damsels in distress… Always an activity I engage in, for I am a hero!"

Mukuro sweatdrops. "R-Right…"

"Four people knocked out as murderer…" Junko lifts her head, a calculating look in her red eyes. "But I think we can get some more."

Get some more? Right… Of course! Junko is talking about Sakura's Account!

"Sakura and a few others started a workout routine in the morning," Mukuro explains. "Apart from Hiro, Kyoko, and myself, there were three who attended the event. They were Sakura, herself, Chihiro, and Makoto."

"That's seven people so far," Byakuya folds his arms across his chest. He raises a brow. "Why wasn't the detective at your… workout?"

Sakura clears her throat. "Kyoko said she had something to do at the time. I have no idea what, but I never asked,"

Makoto glances past Sayaka to look at the lavender-haired girl. "What were you doing, Kyoko?"

Kyoko stays silent for a long minute before sighing. "This might sound… bad, but I promise I didn't do anything,"

Leon gapes at the girl. "If you start off any sentence like that, I'm gonna automatically assume it's bad!"

Ignoring the baseball player, the detective speaks on. "I wanted to review a case file I saw in the library," Mukuro's eyes go wide when she picks up what Kyoko is saying. "At around ten, I went to the library before leaving to go back to the cottages just before eleven."

Junko looks startled, pulled from her thoughts. She narrows her eyes at the detective.

Chihiro pulls out her pill bottle and shakes out a few pulls before popping them back. "Mmm… Then what?"

"Nothing,"

Byakuya rolls his eyes. "That sounds awfully convenient,"

"You don't have to believe me. I don't have the proof to back up my claim, after all," Kyoko tucks a lock of hair behind her hair before sighing. "But I am a detective--I solve murders, not cause them."

Mukuro pinches the bridge of her nose. This is going to be hard to defend… Junko would probably kill her if she didn't.

Another discussion starts.

"I mean…" Sayaka pulls on her pink bow. "What Kyoko said could've happened! Nobody saw her, but…"

Byakuya snaps at the idol. "Exactly. Nobody saw her, so she could have killed the bimbo,"

"But if Ms. Kirigiri killed Ms. Asahina…" Hifumi bites at his nails. "Then the detective was the betrayer! What a plot twist!"

"Don't l-look at me, you p-pig," Toko growls at Hifumi when he glances at her. "I didn't do anything!"

Mukuro bites her lip. She has… no idea what to do! People are slowly turning to the idea that Kyoko is the culprit, but Mukuro doesn't think that to be the case.

She may be a tad suspicious of the detective for other reasons, but Mukuro believes Kyoko's story. She doesn't think Kyoko did this.

But…

Mukuro looks through her Truth Bullets, trying to find something that would prove the detective innocent… But she comes up empty. Junko… She did so much, but the evidence is slowly pointing towards Kyoko.

She grits her teeth.

"Try again, loser!"

Mukuro's head shoots up when Junko yells, banging her fist on the podium. Her face has gone red.

Byakuya rolls his eyes. "What is it, cover girl?"

"What you said was fucking wrong, Scrooge McDuck," Junko straightens her back and glares at the blond. She smirks. "Kyoko was with someone."

Byakuya looks startled.

Mukuro swallows. "What? Who was she with?"

"Why, yours truly!" The fashionista grins. "Of course, I'm so sexy, who wouldn't wanna be with me? Right, detective?"

Kyoko nods quickly. "Right. I didn't want to incriminate Junko because you guys thought we both were murdering someone," Her eyes harden. "Which we didn’t."

Mukuro furrows her brows. I guess Kyoko is knocked from suspicion… Junko too.

“Besides,” Kyoko continues, glancing to the side at Mukuro. “Mukuro’s hands are bigger than my own. I doubt my hands would fit in her gloves. Just because I wear gloves all of the time, doesn’t mean I took them off to frame Mukuro or someone else. I physically cannot wear them.”

Byakuya sneers. “I would believe you if there was more evidence besides the cover girl’s word,”

“Couldn’t Monokuma just bring in Mukuro’s gloves?” Makoto suggests.

“I absolutely can!” Monokuma pops away before coming back and throwing the gloves at Kyoko, the items nearly catching on fire. “Here ya go!”

Kyoko begins to tug the gloves over her own.

Mukuro watches in exasperation because Byakuya can’t let this go.

Junko smacks her palm to her forehead. “My God… This is like the OJ Simpson trial!”

Leon chokes on his spit.

Kyoko holds up her hands to show that, no, the gloves couldn't fit her hands. Even with the extra fabric layer from her own gloves, the detective wouldn’t be able to do anything in the gloves. Mukuro narrows her eyes. Something isn’t right here.

The detective removes the gloves and tosses them to Monokuma, who fumbles to catch them. “There,”

“Enough evidence, Byakuya?” Sayaka snarks at the heir.

Hiro frowns. “Hey, leave Kuya alone! I’m sure he just wanted to make sure or something,”

“Hey, man, cut it out,” Leon hisses at the older male. “These chicks are crazy sometimes!”

Hiro huffs. “I know what women are like!”

Mukuro sweatdrops. Is now really the best time for that?

“Wait…” Makoto cups his chin and looks at the center of the circle. The gears in his mind twist and whir. “Hina died in her cabin, right?”

“Mhm?” Junko twirls her hair.

“Then how did she get there? Moving a body from the cottages to the library would have been a difficult task during the day…” The lucky student bites his lip.

Leon opens his mouth hesitantly. “I was guarding the maze and waiting for Hina and Toko to show up, so we could look for Hiro and Mukuro. I was there for a while, but I never saw anything…”

“That’s because the maze is too far of a landmark to be able to see someone carrying a body to the library,” Kyoko says.

Mukuro massages her temples to soothe the growing headache. “If… Junko and Kyoko were at the library and then left at eleven, then the body could have only been brought to the library after they left,” She looks up and glances around at the students’ faces. “Did anyone happen to go to the library after eleven but before four?”

Byakuya rolls his eyes. “I did at around one thirty,”

That was easy. Mukuro narrows her eyes. Why is Byakuya of all people admitting he went to the library?

“Don’t get the wrong idea. I tried to go inside to read, but,” He chuckles and closes his eyes. “the doors wouldn’t open.”

That startles the soldier. The… doors wouldn’t open? That was like when Mukuro tried to open the library door to check for ghosts but the doors wouldn’t open.

"Since the doors wouldn't open… Wait, why didn't the doors open?" Hifumi asks while gripping his back pack straps.

Mukuro cups her chin. It's because of the Chains, isn't it?

"The doors had to be broken down by Sakura when she discovered the body," The soldier says. "They were locked from the inside by chains."

"Ah, so nobody could've entered?" Hiro points out.

Byakuya tuts. "By that logic, that means the killer had no chance of leaving the library. That means they were still at the library when the doors opened,"

Chihiro glances at Sakura. "Did you see anyone in the library when you opened the doors?"

"O-Oh…" Sakura's cheeks heat up miniscule. She glances away and tightens her arms folded across her chest. "I was focused on Hina's… body, so I didn't notice…"

"That's OK. Shock is perfectly understandable in a situation like this," Kyoko reassures the martial artist.

Sakura grits her teeth. "But… if I had been more aware…"

"Don't blame yourself, Sakura! Any of us would have the same reaction!" Sayaka smiles.

Leon nods. "Hell yeah! You're fine!"

"Then the killer didn't have the chance to leave, making this a locked room murder where the killer is still inside," Byakuya states.

Toko nods along with the heir's reasoning.

Mukuro bites her lip. "Actually… I think the killer did leave the library…"

"Trying to argue with perfection?"

Mukuro glances up when Byakuya speaks, his voice full of malice. He really doesn't like when anyone else has an opinion that rivals his own… Actually, he may not like when people have opinions.

"Stand down, soldier," The heir lifts his chin, haughty. "This isn't a fight you can win."

Mukuro's eye twitches. “Seriously…?”

"Now then, how about I explain it in simple terms. The doors were locked from the inside," Byakuya states. "Apparently from when the body was moved to around four when the body was discovered. The killer would need to stay in that enclosed space because of that."

"If the killer was inside, who's to say they didn't have an alternate escape route?" Mukuro points out.

Byakuya sneers. "Sure they did. What way did they have out? The window? No, they didn't, because there's no other escape from the library!"

"I'll cut through your words!"

"That's false, Byakuya, and if you had half the mind and half the awareness Junko does, then you would know,"

She needs to make Byakuya see there was another escape path out of the library. The Air Vent should be perfect.

"One of the vents on the balcony was open, and it leads outside to the ground," Mukuro curls her lip when he narrows his eyes. "Strange, hm? It can fit smaller people and skinnier people, so nothing or no one too big can fit. Perfect!"

Junko smacks her hand to her face and drags it down with a groan. "Sassy Muku is… ugh…" She glances at the blond next to her with a slow smirk growing on her face. "Heh… heh heh…"

Sayaka mumbles something that makes Makoto whip his head towards her in shock, face red. The idol has no shame on her face.

The heir grinds his teeth.

Mukuro smirks. "Yeah, OK. Stay mad," Junko gives a thumbs up with a very annoyed sigh. "If the killer left through the vent, then the issue of the locked room murder--"

"You commoners keep getting in the way of a true genius,"

Mukuro grinds her teeth together.

"Don't look at me like that. I have a hard time believing evidence that comes from her," The heir glares to his side at Junko. "Of all people, and you choose her to receive evidence? And unreliable evidence as well. Very well."

"Oh, my fuck --"

"I would bet some of the lowest income Togami Corporation buildings that your sister is wrong," Byakuya uncrosses his arms to grip onto the podium. "Going through a vent? Ridiculous! Even if the killer did manage to sneak out through the vent, we wouldn't know because there is no evidence supporting your theory!"

"I'll cut through your words!"

Mukuro shakes her head. She needs to prove it by using the Bloody Bandages .

"No, there was something outside of the vent--"

"Ugh, let me save you the time and effort," Junko roughly elbows Byakuya in his gut. The heir wheezes slightly but makes no other noise. "I found bloody bandages outside near the vent. They had the name 'Sakura Ogami' on them."

Sakura perks up, surprised. "What? I never went to the side of the library to be able to drop my bandages,"

"Then that means someone took them straight from your room," Kyoko says.

"What? Snk! Sakura's the only one who fixed her door, remember?" Chihiro snorts. She waves her hand in Sakura's direction.

Celeste frowns slightly. "Fixed… her door?"

Mukuro startles slightly. "Oh, yeah, I guess nobody told anyone else…"

"'Cause no one wants to get murdered!" The programmer scoffs.

Five minutes. Just five minutes, and Mukuro will make sure she shuts up for a while. No murder necessary.

A discussion starts.

"Yeah, well," Leon blushes. "I might've accidentally broken Hina's door… Her knob just fell off!"

"It… fell off?" Byakuya questions, but his pride still looks bruised.

"Muku's door is the same as Hina's, it just fell off," Junko states.

Sayaka tilts her head, frowning slightly. "You didn't mention the other doors…"

Junko smirks. "Oh, right! My bad, their locks are fine,"

"That doesn't make any sense to me. How can all of our doors malfunction," Sakura clenches her jaw. "but only Hina's and Mukuro's knobs fell off the door?"

"Yeah, that's pretty strange," Makoto agrees.

Mukuro has to agree… using the Taped Doors.

"I agree with that!"

Junko sighs. "What was that?"

"I think you're right, Junko," The soldier taps her fingers against the podium. "Only mine and Hina's doors were truly broken, but Sakura's, Makoto's, Chihiro's, and your locks weren't broken."

Chihiro rolls her eyes. "How can they not be broken?"

Mukuro nods towards Junko. "See the tape on Junko's arm?"

Junko waves and strikes a pose.

Leon nods. "Yeah… it's hella obvious,"

"Those were found on the door frames of the supposed 'broken' doors," She cups her chin.

"Oh, I get it!" Hiro nods and snaps his fingers. "Their doors never locked 'cause of the tape! It blocked the door from closing and locking!"

"So you do have a brain in there?" Celeste covers her mouth to hide her smirk.

"That's mean!"

Mukuro taps her chin with her finger as she thinks more into the topic of the doors. She goes quiet.

Junko grins as she speaks up, taking over the conversation. "I have something to tell you guys!"

Leon deadpans. "Is it a Hina-donut-joke?"

"What, no, how dare you think so little of me!" Junko fake cries, rubbing her eyes and wailing. "Y-You are just so mean to my sexy ass!"

Toko scowls. "Can you shut up?"

The fashionista rolls her eyes but stands with her hands by her side. Her favorite pastime is annoying people to no end, but she'll just have to do it later.

If she's still in the mood.

"No, for real, I have incriminating evidence!"

Junko smirks when she hears a sharp inhale. She'll reveal their identity soon, but she wants to have fun first. A cat and mouse game.

She'll just have to use the Nail Gun.

"I found the thing that suspended Hina's body to the wall!" Junko smirks wider at the disbelieving looks thrown at her. "A nail gun… How fun is that? Guess where I found it!"

Kyoko furrows her brows with an unimpressed look. Junko stares at her with a wide grin, a special glint sparkling in her eyes. The detective sighs.

"Was--"

"It was in our resident lucky boy's cottage!"

Makoto sucks in a sharp breath, looking as confused and affronted as nearly everyone else in the court. Monokuma giggles from behind Junko.

Junko's grin matches Monokuma's greatly.

"What do you mean? Are you saying it was Makoto who killed and pinned Hina in the library?!" Sayaka yells at the redhead, who laughs loudly.

Junko cackles, snorting through her laughter. "No, of course not!" She turns and holds her hand up to cover half of her face, only showing her right eye. "I'm just stating something which will become relevant soon."

"A… JoJo reference?" Hifumi softly says, voice quivering.

Sakura growls. "The nail gun is relevant because it's in Makoto's room?"

Junko nods, straightening her posture and clapping her hands. "Abso-fucking-lutely!"

A discussion starts.

"The nail gun in Makoto's room," Byakuya starts, tilting his head up. "How did it get in there?"

Makoto shakes his head and throws his palms up. "I have no idea!"

"The tape on the doors could have made that easy for the killer," Celeste states. She looks to the side.. "I think Junko's saying that someone went into another unlocked cottage after the murder. Why, it would be easy since they were taped."

Toko reluctantly nods. "I-I guess that's true…"

Junko smirks. So that person caught on.

"Gotta agree with that!"

"Oh, Celeste, you're so smart and beautiful!" The fashionista cups her face and blushes, bashfully looking away from the gambler. "If only I had the confidence to confess how much I admire your wit and gambling skills…"

Celeste sends her an unamused stare.

"Geez…" Leon scratches his chin with a sigh. "Why the hell are you acting so weird, Junko?"

"Huuuh? Weird?" Junko deflates and frowns. "Oh, well…"

Celeste is right. The Bandages Stand should prove it.

"Now, I'm not one to assume things, 'cause you know it makes an ass outta you and me, buuut!" Junko smirks as she looks at Sakura. "Sakura! Someone raided your cottage! Or… you squeezed yourself through that vent to throw us off!"

"... I don't appreciate what you're hinting at," Sakura furrows her brows and glowers.

"Oh, it's just… one of your bandages was missing! And those bandages found outside the library…"

Makoto gasps. "Whoever took the bandages could have left the nail gun in my room!"

Junko taps her nose. "Ding!"

"Then does that mean that the culprit was in the cottage area the whole time after the murder?" Hifumi asks with a small frown.

Junko goes silent, mouth forming a straight line. Then a wide grin spreads from ear to ear.

Mukuro bites her lip as the room talks about who could have been in the cottages. She closes her eyes and hopes her voice doesn't shake…

Because she knows who was in the cottage area due to Junko (besides her and Kyoko).

"Toko," Mukuro's voice cuts through the commotion, silencing the court. She looks to her side at Toko, who looks slightly out of it. "I need to ask you something."

Toko bites her thumb. "Huh?"

"Junko said something earlier about finding you in my cottage during the investigation, but I want to hear it from you," She exhales a soft breath to keep her heart from jumping into her throat. "Why were you in my cottage in the first place?"

Toko furrows her brows together and stays silent. She growls and grabs at her head, wincing slightly, before tugging one of her braids.

"I-I don't know! I j-just woke up th-there!"

Mukuro blinks. What?

"That makes zero sense, pig," Byakuya sneers.

Toko winces with a huge blush. “B-But, Master, I really don’t r-remember!”

Hiro leans back in his chair to look wide-eyed at the writer. “Are you saying someone knocked you out and carried you there?”

“I don’t know!”

The soldier bites her lip. If Toko was indeed knocked out, it would have to be sometime after eleven in the morning… But then she wouldn’t be the killer. She has an alibi. God, this is so confusing.

Mukuro closes her eyes. She needs to think.

Why doesn't Toko remember the events of the day? A-M-N-E-S-I-A

"I can prove it with this!"

"Toko, are you saying you have…" Mukuro scratches the back of her head. "amnesia?"

Celeste gives a small chuckle. "Amnesia? Don't be ridiculous. Toko is just trying to push suspicion off of herself,"

Push suspicion off of herself? Mukuro finds that hard to believe. Something in the back of her mind nags at her, poking her brain. It insists that Toko is telling the truth.

Why… does her heart want to listen to the irrationality of her brain?

She needs to get her head in the game and focus on this class trial. Thinking Toko is innocent based off of a hunch her brain is trying to push onto her can be dangerous. Class trials are for logic, not stupid brains being stupid.

"For now, let's assume that Toko does have amnesia," Kyoko speaks up for the first time in a while. Her eyes glint, as if she's figured something out. "For how long do you believe you've been unaware?"

Toko shakes her head. "I-I don't--"

"Token, it'll be alright! Just do your best!" Hiro smiles reassuringly.

A discussion starts.

Toko audibly swallows. "Um… it was after HIFAK's… meeting. Last night,"

"Last night? Why are we talking about last night?" Leon sounds surprised.

"Don't i-interrupt me!" Toko snaps.

"Geez, OK!"

Junko pinches the bridge of her nose. "Jesus…"

"So, Leon w-went to, um, sleep. We were g-going to have a fr-fresh start on looking for those two," Toko bites her thumb. "I w-went to my cottage to do something at ten… it was only thirty minutes!"

"And then what?" The detective interrogates the writer.

Toko glares. “I’m getting there! Hmph… I s-saw Hina on the floor with bl-blood on the floor… There was someone above h-her with their hands in H-Hina’s m-mouth, but I c-couldn’t see who…”

“Then?” Byakuya snaps, impatient.

“I passed out! Th-Then I woke up with a nail in my hand and c-cuts on my wr-wrist!”

Mukuro watches on passively, but her brain goes into overdrive. Could it be…?

“I agree with that!”

“I think we’ve been looking at this the wrong way!” Mukuro exclaims, gripping the fabric of her shirt tightly.

It has to be that. The Monokuma File #2.

“We’ve been looking at the murder as if it happened this mornin , but what if it happened last night?” The soldier interrogates everyone.

Junko smirks proudly.

Leon runs a hand through his hair. "That means the alibis we collected mean shit now!"

"We can prove Toko to be the first person to see Hina's body because of the announcement," Kyoko states. "Toko claims to have seen the body first, and Sakura saw the body last. The second person is unaccounted for."

Mukuro slowly nods her head. "So… you're saying that Toko's discovery of the body is her alibi along with Sakura's. Hiro and I are clear from suspicion because we were in the maze the entire time…"

Hifumi deflates. “So… Ms. Fukawa isn’t the killer…? Then who is?!” He whips his body to face Junko, practically falling to his knees to beg. “Ms. Enoshima, please tell us!”

The fashionista glances around the circle, taking in the faces of everyone there. She grins, and Mukuro knows. She knows Junko is going to absolutely torture them until they come up with the solution on their own. Kyoko seems to know, as well as Byakuya… Why can’t they know, dammit?!

"Hey, Monokuma," Junko speaks, glancing behind her. The bear perks up. "I have a quick question."

"I may have a quick answer!" Monokuma leans on the arm of his throne.

Junko nods. "The body discovery announcement. How does it work?"

"We already know how the body discovery announcement works," Celeste rolls her eyes. "It seems you aren't as smart as we thought."

Monokuma laughs. "Puhuhu! Well, when three or more people discover the body, the announcement goes off!"

"Does this time include the killer?"

The question startles Monokuma, who goes silent. Junko smirks.

"Hm? Does this murder include the killer… or not?" The fashionista smiles sweetly and cocks her head.

The monochromatic bear stutters his words before sighing. "No, it doesn't…"

Junko giggles. "Aw, thanks for the confirmation, Yogi!"

Mukuro blinks. "Uh, Junko…? What was that about?"

"Huh?" Junko sneers and rolls her eyes. "You're smart enough. Figure it out."

The soldier clenches her jaw.

Makoto frowns. "I… think Junko's saying that before Sakura, someone besides the killer saw the body!" His eyes light up. "That's why she asked! We didn't know if the killer could be considered a part of the body discovery announcement!"

"But…" Hiro scratches his chin. "If the second person saw the body, why didn't they tell someone?"

Mukuro closes her eyes. She needs to think…

Who wouldn't tell someone about a murder that just occurred? A-C-C-O-M-P-L-I-C-E

"I can prove it with this!"

"The killer had an accomplice!" Mukuro's eyes shoot open. She rubs the bandaged area on her head. "That's why the body wasn't discovered earlier!"

"Shit, really…?" Leon grimaces.

Mukuro bites her bottom lip. She looks across the circle at Junko, who seems to be in deep thought.

"So we just need to narrow down the possible accomplice!" Hiro snaps his fingers with a nod.

“There’s no need,”

Light purple eyes widen as she looks across the circle at Byakuya, who is standing there with his arms crossed and blue eyes glaring back at the soldier. Mukuro narrows her eyes.

“What?” Chihiro asks in confusion, seemingly taken aback for the first time since the trial started.

Byakuya rolls his eyes. “I’m the accomplice. Why do you think I fought so hard with the soldier?”

Sakura fumes silently, eyes narrowing dangerously as she glares hateful daggers at the heir.

“Y-You’re the accomplice?!” Leon’s jaw drops, body sagging slightly.

“The pig may have been the first to see the body, and the female brute was the last, but I, Byakuya Togami,” The blond smirks. “was the second person to see the body.”

Mukuro furrows her brows together. This… is not like Byakuya at all. If anything, Mukuro guessed he would hold out until he couldn’t defend himself anymore. But to say something before the group even started a discussion?

Hiro sighs in relief. “Then… you know who the killer is?”

“Of course,”

“Th-Then tell us, Kuya!”

The heir smirks. The name he utters causes Mukuro’s jaw to drop and her eyes go wide, pupils shrinking. Even Junko looks slightly startled, as if not expecting the answer he gives. Celeste and Kyoko look the most curious. The rest of the class is gaping or nearly passing out.

And Toko… she stares in horror.

“It was Genocider Syo, of course,”

Chaos erupts in the trial room.

Mukuro bites her lip. “So you know who…?” She glances to her right at the ashen Toko, the girl looking ready to vomit or pass out from the stress.

Byakuya lifts his chin and tuts. “Of course I do. After all, she told me during the first motive who she was. Or, rather, who she was a part of,”

“Th-That makes no sense!” Hifumi cups his cheeks and squeals.

What she was a part of… If she’s right about this, then…

Mukuro closes her eyes to focus.

Who is Genocider Syo? Toko Fukawa.

What condition does the serial killer have? Dissociative Identity Disorder.

“I got it!”

Mukuro heavily exhales and opens her eyes. “I… have a confession to make,”

Junko tilts her head with a strained smile. “Oh?”

“I know who Genocider Syo is…”

Genocider Syo… Toko Fukawa… She doesn’t want to believe that the depressing girl has a killer buried in her mind, but from the past motive and the book in the library… The Truth Bullet Junko collected.

No. Mukuro is still going to believe that the serial killer didn’t do this.

“Uh, Muku? You were gonna tell us something?” Junko obnoxiously yells.

“R-Right… Toko is Genocider Syo,”

Toko looks betrayed. She’s shaking immensely and curling herself into a tiny ball while standing up. Her shoulders raise and her eyes dart around, breathing coming in shallow and fast.

She just did this to someone again. Turned someone into a lifeless meatsack, ready to lash out and attack to defend themselves by any means necessary.

Mukuro keeps going, desperately trying and failing to ignore the gasping breaths from the girl beside her. “Well… Genocider Syo has dissociative identity disorder--”

“What?! DID again?!” Monokuma throws up his arms, face red. “That makes this seem oddly similar to the first trial! Do something original!”

“--and… yeah…”

Another hesitant discussion begins.

Sayaka looks uneasily at Byakuya before shifting her gaze to the panicking Toko. “But… Why did Toko say she saw someone over Hina’s body with their hands in her mouth?”

“Do you still not understand?” The heir looks disgusted. He pushes his glasses up and grins. “Genocider Syo killed the airhead a little before ten thirty, then I took her place. Toko came back in after a switch and passed out from the sight of blood.”

“Genocider Syo would have no reason to kill anyone!” Junko sneers.

The heir tuts. “On the contrary. She kills for fun, yes, but she planted a note inside of the swimmer’s mouth to hide it!” He points at Toko accusingly. “And now she’s hiding!”

“This is fucking insane…” Leon pales. “I shared a bed with a serial killer?!”

“Not the time,” Sakura states.

“Furthermore, I saw the note in the victim’s mouth myself,” He leans against the podium, knuckles white from his fingers gripping the wood. “It was during the investigation that I saw it!”

The soldier’s eyes widen.

“That statement is false!”

“Byakuya, that can’t be right!”

“And why not?”

Mukuro needs to prove to the heir that he’s wrong. Sewn Mouth should be perfect.

“Because if you found this note during the investigation, then you would have had to open Hina’s mouth!” Mukuro points out.

Sayaka sweatdrops. “Well… yeah?”

The soldier blushes when everyone looks at her incredulously. “N-No! I mean, yes, but Hina’s mouth was sewn closed with thread! So if he opened her mouth, the note would have been covered with blood, and yet it has nothing on it!”

“Her mouth was…” Byakuya sweats, jolting back and flinging his hand up to cover his mouth.

Junko sighs. “Wow, Byakuya, a slip of the tongue really outed you, huh?”

Toko trembles. “Wh-What…?” She’s seemed to calm down slightly, but she’s still bordering the edge of shaking out of her own skin. Her eyes have gone wide, looking at Byakuya in fear of his well being.

“Yeah, the stitches on Hina’s mouth weren’t removed or damaged in any way when I saw them,” Hiro says with a light laugh. He sobers and cups his chin. “Does that mean Kuya was lying?”

“Don’t you hurt my master!”

Mukuro nearly jumps out of her skin as she whips to where Toko is standing. Her back has straightened, eyes red and crazy. Her tongue has elongated once more. The girl looks more confident, a gleam in her eye.

Toko cackles, holding her stomach and throwing her head back.

The circles stares at the writer’s swift change in attitude, clearly off put.

Her attitude changes again, going to the shy writer once more. She rubs her head and hisses.

“What the hell…” Leon mutters.

Monokuma giggles. “I didn’t know it was happening so soon! The mergence!”

Mukuro sputters. The what now? Mergence? What the hell does that even mean?!

"What reason would Mr. Togami have to lie?" Hifumi questions muffled, fingers in his mouth.

Celeste giggles. "Why, the answer should be obvious," She folds her hands under her chin with a carefree smile. "He's been lying to us from the start. Helping us only to throw Toko under the bus."

That does sound like something Byakuya would do, knowing him for as long as she has.

"So, what," Chihiro taps her finger to her chin. "We think Byakuya's the killer?"

Sakura clenches her jaw. "If he is…"

"Which I am not. I made a mistake," Byakuya tugs at the collar of his button down shirt. Sweat clings to his brow. "That mistake was working with a serial killer."

Toko trembles.

Another discussion starts again.

“OK, so…” Leon scratches the back of his neck. His eyes look over at Byakuya. “I don’t think I can trust another word outta his mouth.”

“Agreed,” Sakura gruffly states.

“I think it’s obvious that Byakuya has had that note for a while,” Makoto says. “I mean… if it wasn’t with Hina’s body or with Toko--who is the supposed Genocider Syo killer--then he’s had it for a while.”

“But for how long?” Sayaka nibbles on her nails.

“Who cares how long he’s had it for!” Leon yells with his fists raised. “There’s only one place he could have gotten it from--the maze!”

Chihiro raises her eyebrow and points out. “But you guys had that place guarded at all times, so how could he have gotten in?”

Hiro nods. “She’s got a point…”

The soldier lifts her gaze.

“That statement is false!”

Chihiro looks unimpressed. “Huh?”

“Chihiro, there’s something wrong with what you said,”

It has to be the Maze IDs.

Mukuro sighs. “There were times when one of us wasn’t guarding the maze. Look,”

The screens above show a tablet with multiple logs of entry and exit to the maze.

“This is a log that Hiro and I found at the center of the maze, the data core,” She cups her chin. “It details every person who has entered and exited the maze, but it says no names--only e-Handbook IDs.”

“So?” Chihiro drawls.

Mukuro’s eye twitches. “ So it means that we can narrow down who entered and exited the maze,” She crosses her arms. "Because for the first few days, HIFAK wasn't guarding the maze."

“The first name, BP-0147, should be obvious,” Kyoko states. “Because I’m the one who found him there.”

Makoto chuckles sheepishly.

“Right,” Mukuro nods. “BP-0147 is Makoto because he was the first to enter the maze and exit when the island first opened.”

“Yeah, that’s true… I didn’t mean to get lost…” He sheepishly looks away with a small blush. “Time just got away from me. I’m lucky that I wasn’t stuck there for two days like you and Hiro, Mukuro.”

Mukuro blushes and clears her throat. “Y-Yes… uh… WS-1945 and AS-2947 is Hiro and I. We’re the only ones to enter the maze at the same time as well as exit at the same time,” She nods. “And that only leaves two.

“I believe GO-1984 is Toko--or Genocider Syo since Byakuya claims to have worked with only the serial killer. And Byakuya is the one who had the note, not Toko or Syo. And this student ID wouldn't have time to collect memories or receive a note,” Mukuro sighs. “That only leaves one--JB-5582. Byakuya Togami, did you enter the maze?”

Byakuya shakes his no. “No, I did not,”

Junko shakes her head. “Denial isn’t gonna work, pal,”

“It’s not denial if I never entered the maze,”

Mukuro feels another headache coming on.

"Besides, I only held onto the note Syo gave to me," The heir raises his brow. "Can you prove the wench was the one to enter the maze as many times as it says? I bet I could."

"He makes a fair argument," Celeste says, glancing at the heir. "Do you have evidence denying Toko or Syo went into the maze first?"

Mukuro can't believe this. She nods her head and closes her eyes to think.

What do Toko and Syo need to be declared innocent? An alibi.

When was the killer first in the maze? Around 3 p.m. to 4 a.m..

Where was Toko during that time? At the library for HIFAK's meeting.

"I got it!"

The soldier opens her eyes. "When the killer went into the maze, it was on the day HIFAK had their first meeting. They went inside at around three in the afternoon and exited at around four in the morning,"

Hiro's eyes widen slightly. "Wasn't Token with us in the library?"

"Holy shit!" Leon curses.

"That's absolutely correct. Neither Toko nor Syo couldn't have first entered the maze and been JB-5582, meaning their student ID is GO-1984!"

Byakuya makes a noise of frustration.

“Hey! Stop harassing my master!” Toko growls. But, once again, she doesn’t look like Toko usually would. She throws out her hand with a growl. “He ain’t done anything! I’m the one who killed the big boobied bozo!”

Byakuya smirks. “There you have it,”

Mukuro can’t believe this. Both Toko and Genocider Syo are deeply in love with a man who will never love them back…

A discussion starts up.

“C’mon! My dear Master Byakuya could never pull off a trick like this!” The serial killer cackles, holding her face and drooling. She rocks back and forth. “I am the murderous Genocider Syo, but Syo is what you can call the killer of Aoi Asahina!”

“You killed Hina? I find that… hard to believe,” Kyoko states while folding her arms across her chest.

“What what what what what?!” Syo growls. “That stupid girl with the ginormous chest had it coming!”

“Huh?” Makoto’s eyes widen. “What do you mean? Are you talking about the note?”

“What note?!”

“The motive note…” Hifumi tilts his head. “Ms. Syo, don’t you--”

“Anyway… That girl was a perfect target for me!” Syo cackles. “She had all the right requirements!”

“She’s confessing?!” Hiro cries out in confusion. “We’re good to vote then!”

Mukuro narrows her eyes.

“That statement is false!”

Syo startles from the loud yell directed at her. She glares with her bright red eyes, piercing Mukuro with her hateful gaze. “What the hell are you talking about you rabid dog?!”

… Ouch.

“Hina couldn’t have been your ideal target who had all of the right requirements,” Mukuro coldly states.

It has to be because of what was found in the library. The Genocider Syo Book .

“Your killings…” The soldier crosses her arms. “You only kill men.”

Syo seems to be taken aback. “What?!”

“Is this another half-assed attempt to draw the attention away from the killer?!” Monokuma seems to groan. He huffs and growls, showing his tiny claws. “We already had an attempt at that the last time!”

Ignoring Monokuma, Mukuro turns her attention back to the serial killer. “Hina shouldn’t have been in your list of requirements. Unless Hina was a guy, you wouldn’t have killed her!”

Syo makes a noise of frustration.

“I don’t think Syo’s the killer…” Mukuro says. “It doesn’t make sense!”

“I’m cuttin’ that shit down!”

Syo cackles. “Kya-hahaha! Aw, so you wanna go toe-to-toe with a serial killer?!”

“You--” Mukuro is cut off.

“You may be a soldier, but I can take you anytime!”

Mukuro rubs her eyes out of aggravation.

“Now… Why the hell can’t I be the killer?!” Syo growls around her long tongue. “I killed the bitch, I pinned her to the wall, and then I confessed! You aren’t very accepting, huh?”

“Listen, there are a lot of reasons why you can’t be the killer!” Mukuro says. “Byakuya has to be the killer!”

“Yeah, right! I used him! I used Master Byakuya to get a kill, and I made him my accomplice!” She grins wickedly. “Right… Right that note! It said the boob goddess was gonna shank my Master in the chest with a knife! In fact, Master warned me about it because we’re in love! It’s the truth!”

“I’ll cut through your words!”

For a serial killer, Mukuro thought she would have a better plan than that. She’s lying and the Maze Motive Note can prove it.

“You’re lying!” Mukuro exclaims at the serial killer.

Syo scoffs. “How would you know, mutt?”

Junko holds up a crumpled piece of paper, clean as ever. “I have the note right here. It says, and quote,” She clears her throat. “‘Congrats! You found all of your memories inside of the maze! Does this make you hate that bubbly swimmer now? She took away the one person who gave you the time of day and more! Maybe she’ll take that person away from you too! I mean, she is going crazy, right? Who knows when she’ll snap and kill? The SK might be able to help you there!”

“SK? As in… serial killer?” Leon meekly questions.

Sayaka tilts her head. “I don’t think there’s any other SK…” She points out.

“That means, Syo,” Mukuro glares at the serial killer standing next to her. “that your lying game is done. You couldn’t have done this.”

Sakura glares daggers at the serial killer. “Stop getting in the way,”

Syo’s made too many mistakes to clear Byakuya’s name, but… If she uses both Amount Of Blood and Genocider Syo’s Scissors, she can firmly reinforce the idea that Syo can’t be the killer.

Mukuro cups her chin. “I… think I know why Hina’s body has so much blood on it now…” Her eyes wander to the bloody wrist of Syo, soaking through the fabric of Junko’s precious tie. “Syo cut her own wrist with her scissors and then left them in Hina’s cottage.”

“No, I hung her body up--”

“Not with what you usually use…” Junko curls her lips. “Tell them, Muku.”

Mukuro sputters. What the hell was that?

… But Junko’s talking about the fact that the Nails pinned Hina to the wall.

“Hina’s body was hung to the wall with nails, not the scissors Syo usually uses. And…” The soldier sighs. “Junko found you with a nail in your hand. That proves you might have pinned Hina to the wall, but I don’t think you had the motive to kill her.

“You swiftly moved Hina’s body to the library and pinned her there before leaving through the vent, ripping the bandages off on the way out. You did this to remove the cottages as a place to search, and I bet those chains were to keep anyone from discovering the body and incriminating Byakuya!”

Syo goes quiet, a shadow over her eyes as she looks down.

“And would you look at that?” Chihiro speaks, sardonic drawl in her voice. “Byakuya’s been quiet this whole time.”

Mukuro looks across the circle to see Byakuya sweating and… looking slightly fearful.

“Since Byakuya admitted to being the accomplice, he was actually trying to pin the murder on Syo…” Sayaka covers her mouth, looking slightly sick. “He’s the one who admitted that he saw the body second, but it was actually Syo.”

Hifumi harrumphs. “Ms. Fukawa and Ms. Syo and Ms. Ogami?! Those are the three?! But isn’t it the body who sees it?”

“Toko and Syo are two different people, y’know, so if one saw the body, the other one could discover it too!” Monokuma states. “Simple math, simple biology, simple psychology, simple--”

“W-We get it, man!” Hiro sweatdrops.

“So…” Makoto blanches. “Byakuya… it was really you?”

Byakuya tenses.

“That’s the only option since he placed himself at the scene of the crime,” Mukuro shakes her head. "He was trying to trick us!"

“Worthless commoners with worthless accusations!”

Mukuro startles. Byakuya is pointing at her, arm shaking with fury.

“You’re trying to pin this on me! You stupid, pathetic soldier!” His face tints a red color, and he raises his fist. "I won't allow you to sully my perfect name!"

The soldier hardens her gaze. So he’s not going down without a fight.

“I’m the accomplice!”

“Pathetic!”

“The real killer is Genocider Syo, not me, the perfect Byakuya Togami!”

“Shut up!”

“Worthless soldier! Worthless claims!”

“You need to read this situation again!”

“I am a god--I am perfect!”

“You are all stupid commoners! Below me!”

“I never viewed my motive because I never entered the maze, and you cannot prove that I did!”

“You’re done for!”

Show Your Student ID

Byakuya is panting, sweat clinging to his forehead and his shoulders shaking with anger. His blue eyes are darker, a strange swirl in them.

The room is deathly silent as Mukuro and Byakuya stare each other down.

“Your student ID,”

Byakuya’s eyes widen. “What?”

“We’ve narrowed down the people who were in the maze. BP-0147 was Makoto, WS-1945 was me, AS-2947 was Hiro, and, judging by Syo’s devotion to you, GO-1984 was Syo using Toko's ID!” Mukuro extends her arm and points at the heir with a scowl on her face. “Since you yourself admitted to being an ‘accomplice’, you should have gone into the maze to attack Hiro and I! And would you look at that… JB-5582 has been in the maze enough times, so they must have seen their motive.

“If you aren’t the killer and are innocent, show us your student ID,” Mukuro finishes.

The heir stutters--actually stutters--on his words.

“There isn’t a problem with it if you’re innocent, right?” Kyoko interrogates.

Byakuya audibly swallows.

Junko grins. “Aren’t you gonna defend yourself some more, Elon Musk?”

“Oh, my,” Celeste smirks behind her hand.

Leon scowls. “Hey, have Byakuya wear the gloves. Maybe they’ll fit him,”

Monokuma tosses the gloves to Byakuya, who slowly puts the gloves on his hands. What do you know… They fit like, well, a glove.

“I’m going to go over everything to clear things up,” Mukuro says just loud enough to be heard.

“Go ahead, Kuro, you got this,” Hiro pats Mukuro on the back.

“This is what happened!”

“The case officially started when the killer first entered the maze, when the second island first opened. They viewed all of their motives stating Hina did something in the past two years that made the killer go into a rage before they received a note. When they exited the maze, they met up with the infamous serial killer, Genocider Syo, and planned to murder Aoi Asahina per the note’s request to recruit Syo.

"The killer planned after the maze. They tampered with multiple door knobs and taped others, giving the illusion that all of the knobs were broken. This couldn't be the case since all of them sans mine and Hina's were perfectly fine, but only blocked by tape.

“A few days later, the killer and Syo trapped both Hiro and I in the maze. Syo knew to do this because she had to get the killer out of the maze so they could kill Hina. That left both Hiro and I alone in the maze for two days.

“On the night of the murder, Leon, Toko, and Hina were in the library doing their own… activities before they returned to the cottages. Leon went to his own cottage and Toko went to hers to do something, leaving Hina alone in her own cottage. The killer struck then, taking advantage of Hina’s broken door knob and entering. Because of her drugged state, Hina couldn’t fight back to her full abilities. The killer then broke the smoking bowl, which had been missing, and stuck the glass down Hina’s throat with the help of my own missing gloves. Hina choked to death on her own blood. Toko then walked in on the body and passed out because of her hemophobia, and that’s when Syo appeared shortly after.

“The next day after the kill, Syo took Hina’s body to the library without being seen, which apparently was very easy to do. She sewed Hina’s mouth shut to hide the fact Hina choked on glass and her own blood. It was no wonder the work was so sloppy because she was injured. Syo hung Hina’s body to the wall afterwards, accidentally shooting her own hand with a nail. She cut her own wrist and allowed her own blood to cover up the post-mortem wounds, yet they were still seen.

“After this, Syo chained the doors closed and escaped via the air vent on the balcony of the library. She cut her fresh bandages off by accident, but she left them there. I bet she thought nobody would go down the vent at all, but someone did. Syo went to the cottages and hid the nail gun and scissors she cut herself with in the unlocked cottages before collapsing in my room.

“The killer didn’t know that Syo sewed Hina’s mouth shut, which led to an obvious slip of the tongue and suspicion towards them. They committed the simple murder but Syo carried out the setting and style, and, ultimately, that led them both on different wavelengths.

“And the killer behind this heinous crime, the one who killed Aoi Asahina… can only be you! Byakuya Togami, the Ultimate Affluent Progeny!”

Byakuya smirks and claps his hands together slowly, the only sound echoing throughout the trial room. “Well done, soldier. I guess you aren’t as dull as you look,”

“Is…” Hifumi hesitantly speaks up. “Is this a confession, Mr. Togami?”

“Why drag out a trial I cannot win?” The heir rolls his eyes. “Honestly, it’d be a waste of time. I have already been caught and the facts have been laid out in front of us, so why should I argue for a trial I won’t win?”

At least he confessed?

“Puhuhuhu!” Monokuma giggles. “It looks like it’s voting time!”

Byakuya tenses.

“Who will be chosen as the blackened?! Will you make the right choice or the dreadfully wrong one?!”

Everyone enters their votes.

“Two for two?! My, you bastards are good at this crime fighting schtick!”

Mukuro grits her teeth.

“Thaaat’s right! The one who killed Aoi Asahina was Byakuya Togami!” The monochromatic bear cackles loudly, the sound grating against Mukuro’s ears. “Oh no, but it looks like someone didn’t vote correctly! Genocider Syo voted for herself! Noble, sure, but it’s hella boring! That trick you tried to pull wasn’t as good as the first one, so maybe you need to not try it again!”

Syo grips at her braid with her uninjured hand. “Ngggh!”

Sayaka whips towards Byakuya, her blue eyes narrowed. “Why did you kill Hina?!”

“I would also like to know that,” Sakura says. Her voice is trembling, and she’s obviously holding herself back from attacking the heir.

Byakuya growls. “You didn’t see what I saw… You didn’t see how she murdered him in cold blood!”

Mukuro’s breath hitches. Hina… murdering someone close to Byakuya? She wouldn’t do something like that!

“It’s just so tragic, isn’t it? Because of these two years being taken from you, Byakuya didn’t even know about Hina killing the closest person he had to a father…” Monokuma looks down, as if he were sad. “Well, that was until Byakuya saw how cruel a person Hina became! How despairful!”

Chihiro shakes her head. “No wonder he killed her. She took someone he loved away,”

“Did she? Or was she ordered to?” The bear suddenly states, which throws them all for a loop. Mukuro narrows her eyes. “Who knows? Maybe a certain someone can answer that for you!”

Byakuya raises his fist. “What?! Who the hell ordered her to kill my butler?!”

Butler…? His butler must have meant a lot.

“Shouldn’t you know, Byakuya?” Monokuma giggles at the heir’s bemused stare. “After all, you’re the person who heard their voice, and I think you know it pretty well since you’ve been hearing it your entire life!”

Byakuya shakes his head. “No… You don’t mean that was…”

“Yes! Yes, I do!”

Hiro swallows and presses his palm to his forehead. “What? Who was it?!”

Byakuya glares at the clairvoyant. "None of your business," He turns his attention to Junko, who's arms are crossed and eyes are closed. "How did you know? When did you figure it out?"

Everyone impatiently waits as Junko slowly opens her eyes and grins.

"Oh, Byakuya," She lifts her chin. "You really should watch your actions and words around an analyst."

The heir pales, but Junko continues.

"I knew after I saw you standing with that toolkit and going towards the hotel," She giggles. "I knew you were planning something as soon as the information began to pour in! After Hina blew up at everyone, I went to sleep and thought about it. Now, why the hell would Byaku-money have a toolkit?

"During the investigation, it hit me. The vent, the doors… You really took what I said to heart," A sickening grin spreads further across her face. "I never expected you to go with the Genocider Syo route! Never judge a book by its cover!"

Mukuro frowns. "You… You knew he was planning something?"

"I'm not a dumbass. Of course I did!" Junko rolls her eyes. "What, you think that since I knew, I'd tell one of you? Who'd believe someone who is very clearly mistrusted? I know everything! I see the distrust in your eyes!"

"Junko--"

"What did I say?" Byakuya cuts Mukuro off, glaring at the redhead. "What did I say to confirm your theory?"

Junko chuckles. "I like how you mentioned the vents being used during the investigation, but denied knowing anything during the trial,"

Byakuya growls. "Is that it?"

"No," Junko's grin turns to a sad smile. "The note you supposedly 'found' down Hina's throat. You said something to make me fully understand it."

"I found this stuffed inside of the airhead's mouth. I doubt you found it, for I took it before anyone else saw it," Byakuya grins. "Who knows, maybe she choked to death?"

"You predicted she choked to death on a note that was never in her mouth," Junko states. She shakes her head. "Choking to death… that's when I knew you did it. Nobody--except maybe Kyoko--could have figured it out just by looking at the body.

"So how would you know she choked to death?"

Byakuya falls silent, staring at his podium.

"Could…" Makoto speaks up. His eyes sparkle in a sad way, as if finally realizing this is the last time he'll talk to the heir. "Could you tell me--"

Monokuma waves his paws. “We don’t have time for more questions! It’s time for Byakuya’s execution!”

That startles Syo awake and aware. She rushes over to Monokuma’s throne and stands a few feet away. “Wh-What?! No, you can’t kill Master Byakuya!”

“Huh? I can’t?” The bear tilts his head and touches his chin with his paw. “Why not?”

“Because I did most of the work! You have to let him live, you dumbass bear!” Syo points menacingly at the bear, but her injured hand doesn’t cooperate. “I pinned the bitch to the wall! I kept the library doors closed! I hid the evidence! I made sure badonkadonk’s body made it to the library! Master did nothing but kill her, but I pretty much made this murder happen! I was the chef while Master was the mouse controlling me in the chef’s hat!”

“Did she just describe Ratatouille the rat?” Leon mutters.

“The rat’s name is Remy!” Junko hisses as she rolls her eyes. “Fake ass fan.”

Monokuma taps his paw against his chin, considering Syo’s words carefully. “That does make a whole lotta sense. If anything you should be executed because you did most of the work,”

“Yes! So hurry up and fucking kill me!” Syo begs. “Punishment time or whatever!”

“In fact, it makes too much sense! Ah-hahahaha!” The monochromatic bear laughs. “You may have done the work in hiding and setting up the body, but you sure as hell didn’t kill the swimmer! God, this is just like last time!

“Oh, well… Too bad, so sad! This punishment is for Byakuya Togami, the true blackened in the trial for Aoi Asahina’s killer!”

“No…” Syo shakes her head.

“I prepared a very special punishment for the Ultimate Affluent Progeny, Byakuya Togami!”

“No! Stop it!” Syo demands the bear, but Monokuma begins to spin in circles and dance in front of the serial killer’s face.

“It’s punishment time!”

“NOOO!” Syo screams.

A chain shoots out and a metal collar wraps around Byakuya’s neck. Mukuro catches a glimpse of fear in the heir’s eyes before he’s dragged off.

Syo seethes. “No! Master Byakuya! I-I’ll save you!” She rushes towards the open doorway where Byakuya has just been taken down.

Mukuro’s eyes widen. She can’t do that! The soldier rushes around the circle, slipping past any hands trying to stop her, and follows Syo into the dark hallway. She hears screams of both Syo’s and her name before the hall closes with a loud slam.

Words Cut Deep

Byakuya is standing alone on a cliff, overlooking the setting sun over the ocean.

Behind him, multiple Monokuma’s with swords approach. Each sword has a different word on them. One says “disappointment” while another says “worthless”, a different sword says “pathetic”.

The heir turns around and falters. Each Monokuma looks like his step siblings and father, grinning devilishly at him and waving their swords wildly.

They rush forward. Byakuya avoids their attacks, oblivious to the two girls who just entered his execution.

Syo growls and runs towards the cliff, not aware of Mukuro behind her. Mukuro leaps forward and tackles the serial killer to the ground.

Byakuya shifts on his feet and moves to where the Monokumas are at the edge of the cliff instead of him. He kicks some of the bears off. Behind the heir and the two girls struggling on the ground, a larger Monokuma rises. It has a sword labeled “killer” and is stalking forward slowly. It sees Mukuro and Syo on the ground and decides to attack them, mistaking the pair for Byakuya.

Mukuro sees it first, shoving both of them out of the way before brandishing her knife in her right hand. Her other hand reaches for her gun only for it to not be there. She sees Syo fiddling with her gun in the corner of her eye, trying to shoot the larger Monokuma frantically.

The Monokuma raises its sword and slashes Syo once vertically. Syo goes flying back a few feet, the right half of her face covered with blood while her glasses flew off of her face, broken. Mukuro sees red, rushing forward. She switches her knife to her left hand and raises it, aiming for the back of the robot’s head. The bear swivels its head around and swings its sword so fast that Mukuro barely even had time to dodge it.

The soldier tumbles to the ground behind the large bear and goes limp.

Byakuya heard the commotion and turns around, his blue eyes going wide. On the ground in front of him is Mukuro’s forearm, loosely clutching the knife in the hand. He looks up and sees the large Monokuma, and he pales. He backs up a step.

The large Monokuma has on his butler’s face, and the heir sees the sword’s word--killer. He screams as the bears of his half-siblings, father, and butler descend on him. They slice him to pieces, leaving only a large puddle of blood and finely diced Byakuya at the scene.

Execution End!

Junko covers her mouth. Holy shit…

The hallway door opens, and Junko sprints down the hallway and nearly collapses by Mukuro’s side. She’s never seen her sister bleed like this before, not this much. Her hands go to remove her tie, but she’s already given it to the writer for her injuries.

“Mukuro!” Sayaka pulls the soldier into her lap, jostling her slightly.

“Don’t move them!” Hiro cries out. Leon is supporting his body, and they move rather swiftly. “That might injure them further!”

“Syo… uh… Toko? Whatever, they’re breathing,” Chihiro confirms while having her fingers touched to the girl's neck.

Junko checks Mukuro’s pulse, feeling it thumping hard against her two fingers. “Muku’s alive too…”

Sayaka sighs. “Oh, thank God,”

Kyoko turns to Monokuma with a raised brow. “Aren’t you going to save them?”

Monokuma gasps dramatically. “Me? They’re the ones who ran into the execution and ended up like this! Not my problem!”

“It is your problem, actually,” Kyoko stands tall against the bear, spitting facts at his face. “You’re the one who said it. Only the blackened will be executed if caught.”

“Th-That’s…!”

“Now save them,” The detective leaves no room for argument.

Monokuma growls. “I kinda can’t! There’s no place on any of the islands that could house these two and fix their injuries!”

Makoto panics. “Then what are we supposed to do?!”

“Ugh… I can give you all the proper medicine and stuff to help you guys fix them,” The bear winks. “And, hey, if one of them dies, I won’t blame it on who treats them!”

Silence.

Hiro raises his hand. “I-I kinda know some basic medicine and stitches…”

“You do?” Sakura asks.

“Yeah! Uh, um,” Hiro bites his fingers. “Leon, man, carry me to my cottage. Ogre… uh, I mean… Sakura, can you get both Kuro and Token?”

Sakura bows slightly. “Of course,” She gingerly lifts both girls into her large arms and follows Hiro and Leon to the elevators, Hiro babbling instructions along the way.

It’s silent in the trial room after that. Then people slowly trickle out and leave.


Junko and Kyoko sit in silence inside of the restaurant, their shoulders nearly touching, but not white breaking the circles around them.

The fashionista cradles her drink closely, staring down at the tea silently.

"Are you OK?" Kyoko breaks the silence.

Junko snorts, but the attempted humor behind it fails to reach her eyes. "Yeah. Just peachy. Seeing my older sister get her arm sliced off really makes me feel better about our situation,"

Kyoko sighs.

The silence returns, only this time it's tinged with slight awkwardness.

The detective clears her throat. "Why did you lie for me?"

Junko has to think for a moment. Why did she lie for Kyoko? Was it only because of her enormous crush on the lavender-haired girl, or did she just not like seeing everyone gang up on the detective. She wasn't the blackened--Byakuya was.

"... I dunno. Really," Junko winces as the hot glass of her mug burns her palm. "Why did you lie to me?"

"I won't lie, I was hoping you would stick up for me in the trial--which you did," The detective tucks a lock of hair behind her ear. "I needed to investigate inside of the library."

Junko laughs bitterly. "So an investigation was enough to hope I'd lie for you?"

"I found a pamphlet tucked away behind a book about amnesia. It said that the only way to get across to the other islands was by boat," She sighs. Junko turns her head to look at Kyoko's side profile. "There was also the issue of missing buildings, specifically on the central island."

Junko frowns. "What, is this island supposed to be a fake?"

"I have a hypothesis that this Jabberwock Island is a man-made set of islands. It was built to keep us here and force us to kill each other,"

The fashionista sighs. "Then the pamphlet being hidden behind a book about amnesia could be a hint," She pushes her mug away and watches the gentle billowing of steam being blown around and disappearing into thin air.

"Maybe some of us were in relationships with each other," Kyoko suddenly responds.

Junko’s heart leaps in her chest. If Kyoko and her had a relationship in the past… She grins.

“Maybe!” She responds, full of hope.

The detective chuckles. “Go to bed. You’ll need it,”

Junko frowns. “Don’t stay up too late,”

“I’ll be fine, Junko,”

Junko sighs and leaves the restaurant. Her heart feels lighter, but her mind is still a little bitter over the trial… the execution… Maybe trust will go up while the killings go down.

… Maybe hoping for that is too boring.

As students try to go to sleep, others are staying up. Some are fighting for their lives. Others are making sure lives are saved.

Elsewhere, a clock ticks down.

Chapter Text

"What the hell is happening out here?" Ylirmt demands to Hszip.

Hszip holds his palms up, wiping away the sweat on his forehead with his arm. "Hey, man, don't blame me! That virus is no joke. It completely fried this chip," Ylirmt leans down, hands on his knees. "Man, if Ofxpb was here, he'd prolly blink and this thing would be fixed!"

"I wouldn't count on it," Ylirmt sighs. "He doesn't like these guys."

Hszip grumbles something.

"I was checking on their progress, and another trial happened. We need to get them out now before their brains fry," Ylirmt urgently nudges the other male.

"I can replace this with another one I found while exploring... It'll take a few hours, but the system will begin to cool," Hszip grins and tugs at the hat on his head. "And I sent a message to the rabbit. Told her what was happening to her and the others. Other stuff should be changing at this point too."

Ylirmt looks worried. He glances behind him at the room filled with slow beeping. "Nvwrfn believes this might be the only way..."

"It might be," Hszip shrugs. "I dunno this stuff, so it might work; it might not. I guess it's up to someone else."

Ylirmt and Hszip sit in silence.

Chapter Text

Nzhgvinrmw stares at the computer screen. Their mind is calculating and whirring.

The door opens behind them. They spin around in their chair, kicking their legs up with a smirk.

"What brings you here, stranger?"

Gltznr glares down at the mess of candy bar wrappers and empty chip bags. With a sigh, he steps forward and drops a brown paper bag on the desk. Nzhgvinrmw perks up before deflating.

"So you followed my orders?" Nzhgvinrmw sighs. "That's fine, I guess. I really wanted you to betray me so I could feel the despair--!"

They leap forward to wrap their hands around Gltznr's thick neck. The male just frowns and knocks Nzhgvinrmw to the ground. The latter chortles on the floor.

"Did you happen to finish... whatever this was?" He gestures to the computer.

Nzhgvinrmw smirks. "Oh, it's done. I just think it needs a little..." They tap their chin in thought. A vicious grin adorns their face. "hope to fuel it up."

Gltznr startles when Nzhgvinrmw stands with a bruise on their cheek. "Are you--"

"I think I know just the person to help us out, too," They open a drawer at their desk and pull out a file. Their nimble hands open the Manila folder. "What d'you think?"

Gltznr frowns. "If that is what you think is best..." A slow smile pulls at his lips. He laughs slightly, his eyes swirling and tinting red.

Nzhgvinrmw smirks. They run their thumb along the photograph.

"I think Hlorgzib would love to have an opportunity to do this," They grin. "I mean, breaking and entering is her game, right?"

Not far away sits Hlorgzib. She picks up her phone when she sees a text from Nzhgvinrmw.

Chapter Text

Mukuro stares at the plate of food in front of her. It mocks her as it stares back, taunting and jeering and insulting.

She sighs. "Tell me why I have to be here again,"

Hiro pushes the plate further towards the soldier with a small, nervous smile. He scratches his chin. "You gotta eat, Kuro!"

"Wooow," The soldier snorts. She rolls her eyes. "I never knew that. Thanks for that awesome tip, Hiro."

It's barely been more than twelve hours since the class trial ended with Byakuya's execution. Toko is currently silent and eating her own food, bandages wrapped over her eye. Mukuro is putting up resistance because she doesn't need to eat. She doesn't deserve food.

Hiro pulls on the button up shirt Mukuro is wearing, taken from the clairvoyant's dresser. He's worried, seeming to try and warm the soldier up. Mukuro appreciates his concern, but she's fine.

Absolutely fine.

"The others will be here soon, but I didn't think you two would wanna see them," The man says with a slight smile.

Mukuro's light purple eyes flicker to the man, who's fiddling with his locks of hair. She manages to give him a weak smile, which he returns with a brighter grin.

She goes to pick up her utensils only to stop. Her eyes stare at the space between her left arm and her utensils. Her throat closes while her stomach churns.

Her appetite… is gone now. But Hiro will worry too much…

Mukuro switches arms and picks up her utensils with her right hand.

She manages to choke down only a small portion of the food Hiro made before she pushes it away and sits silently. Hiro collects both Mukuro's and Toko's plates before limping off to the kitchen, his breath hissing.

Mukuro wants to pinch herself. She feels so selfish. Hiro is injured as well, and he's acting like their father.

"My, I didn't expect to see you two today,"

Mukuro glances over her shoulder and scowls. "Celeste…"

The gambler giggles. "Hmhmhm… Have you both healed up already? It didn't take too long, I suppose,"

Celeste walks slowly towards the table and sits across from Mukuro. Her crimson eyes stare into Mukuro’s light purple ones. A small smirk tugs at her lips as she chuckles.

Mukuro tilts her head. "What is it?"

"I have decided something that could change both of us for the better,"

"Huh?" The soldier deadpans. She doesn't want to deal with the gambler right now.

Celeste folds her hands under her chin. "By now, you must be thinking the same as I," She opens her eyes and smirks. "'How do I protect Celestia Ludenberg from harm?'"

Mukuro isn't thinking about that at all, but she'd be a fool to argue against Celeste and possibly make her angry. For now, she listens to the gambler.

"I have seen you give up yourself to protect Syo, so I have a proposition for you,"

She narrows her eyes and leans back in her seat. "... Go on,"

The black-haired girl twirls her hair. "I am hiring you to be my personal bodyguard," She smirks at the dumbfounded jaw drop from the soldier. "Of course, I wouldn't make this proposition if I didn't have compensation. In return for protecting me, I will supply you with a new hand."

A new hand… How the hell is she supposed to do that when there isn't anyone who can make an arm? Plus, it would need electronics to move.

Seeing the dismissive eye roll, the gambler lifts her chin. "You don't believe me? How about later down the line I take you somewhere to see the arm. It'll be fully functional,"

Mukuro stares at Celeste, the latter staring back. Slowly, she sighs. Celeste obviously has a reason for wanting a bodyguard, but why her? Why insist so hard?

"I guess so…" Mukuro scratches her head. Her brows furrow inquisitively. "But… Why do you want a bodyguard, Celeste?"

"Isn't it obvious? The others aren't adapting to this place as easily as I am," She leans forward and stares directly into unimpressed light purple eyes. She pulls back and smiles. "I want my life to be protected. And what better way than by a soldier?"

There's Sakura, a martial artist. Your faithful servant Hifumi, of course, is still here. The nicest boy you could ever meet, Makoto, could probably be coerced into bodyguard work.

Mukuro slowly blinks. “Yeah… Yeah, OK, I’ll be your bodyguard,”

“Perfect. I’m glad we came to an agreement,” Celeste bows her head and stands from her chair. She smirks, managing to cover the mischief with her fingers. “Goodbye, Mukuro. I will see you later today.”

The soldier watches as the gambler leaves with a slight sway in her hips. Mukuro pinches the bridge of her nose, running her palm down her face and breathing out a deep sigh. What did she get herself into…?

Her eyes stray over to the writer sitting next to her, catatonic and her uninjured eye staring back at the soldier. Mukuro tugs at Hiro’s overshirt, pulling it closer with her hand. She glances down at the near empty half of her sleeve, mouth pulling into a grimace.

“Hey, Hiro,” Mukuro calls out. She hears an affirming shout from the kitchen. “I’m gonna take a walk. I wanna be by myself for a little.”

Hiro peeks his head out of the kitchen, a knot between his eyebrows. “Are you sure, Kuro?”

“Yeah…”

“Alright, just be careful, OK? I don’t want anything to happen,” He smiles slightly before ducking back into the kitchen.

Mukuro stands up, nearly falling over from the wobble in her knees. She sucks in a sharp breath through her teeth, her hand on the table and steadying her. Her head goes blank, ears ringing and eyes producing static at the corners. She stands still for a long moment and tries to relax her body in order to ignore the throbbing in the stub on her left arm.

After the moment of vertigo has passed, Mukuro leaves the restaurant with Toko and Hiro still inside.

She slowly walks out of the hotel area and down to the center island. As of now, Mukuro doubts anyone would be on the center island. She'll walk around and stretch her legs before sitting on the beach by Monokuma Rock.

Her boots thump on the path. Her body feels slightly weighted towards her right side and light on the other.

A light chuckle bubbles from her throat. Wouldn't it be hilarious if I were to fall over and not be able to get up? Comedy, right?

Mukuro comes to a stop and glances up to the side. Her brows furrow.

Another bridge has opened up, the Monobeast that was guarding it seemingly defeated. Monomi sure does have her uses… Speaking of the rabbit, where is she?

Mukuro digs her hand into her pocket and pulls out the Usami Charms, holding both of them loosely in the palm of her hand. She stares at them intensely before glancing up at the bridge with the number "3" on the arch above it. She closes her hand with a nod.

If she can scope out the new island, she can be useful again. Then she won't be treated like glass, ready to shatter at any moment.

She shoves the charms back into her pocket and crosses the bridge to the third island.

Mukuro stands at the bridge, staring at the strange change of weather. She glances up at the sky and wonders where the sudden sprinkling of rain came from.

Shaking her head, the soldier focuses. Now isn't the time for that. I need to be useful. I need to be stronger.

Mukuro starts forward into the rain, thankful it isn't a thunderstorm or an outright tsunami. She shudders. She still can't swim that well…

The first place she comes across is a police station. Hurrying inside, Mukuro shivers at the chilling temperature inside of the police station.

Glancing around, Mukuro notes that the police station doesn't seem so… up to date. Are those the right words to say? Probably not.

Near the front entrance and off to the right is a reception desk with many metal filing cabinets behind it. A wall splits the "office" area, and a door is at the far back of the wall. To the left are four jail cells, and each of them is barely big enough to house one person. Keys for the cells sit on nails embedded into the office wall, facing the cells.

Mukuro takes a step forward and goes to the right to look at the small office only to jump. A police Monokuma is sitting on the rolling chair and blowing a whistle. With a grimace, Mukuro rolls her eyes.

"Checking out the third island before the true plot device tells you the island is open?" Monokuma appears, sitting on top of the police Monokuma. He leans against the desk with a smirk. "You look much better! It's all thanks to your friendly Monokuma for providing such medication to keep you high!"

The soldier stares blankly. "... Thanks, I guess,"

Monokuma's eyes go wide as he flushes a bright red. He covers his face with his paws. "Th-Thanking me?! Wah! That's so… so…" He throws up behind the counter, making sure to be extra loud. Mukuro cringes. "Ugh! That's about as bad as that hope garbage! I shouldn't even tell you about that obvious clue you were gonna miss!"

Mukuro tilts her head. "Obvious… clue?"

"Well, yeah, I like to help!" Mukuro deadpans at the bear until he sheepishly retracts his statement. "I digress… But but but! Here, take a look!"

The bear shoves a small remote-like box out, and Mukuro grabs it. She presses the button on the side, and the screen on the face of the box lights up. It has three cameras on it: One for the front door, one for the interior, and one for the back door.

Back door, huh?

"Pretty neat stuff, wouldn't you say?" The monochromatic bear dusts imaginary lint from his shoulder. "The only issue is that those are very easy to destroy. But good news! Only the video is destroyed!"

Mukuro glances up. "Only the video…? So the audio would be saved?"

"Absolutely! I'm no liar, kid, so trust me on this,"

That is one of the weakest arguments on trust ever. Mukuro deadpans.

Monokuma slides a strange golden key across the desk. "This buckaroo stays here. It's for the back door,"

The soldier immediately glances at the back door, slightly hidden for whatever reason. She narrows her eyes as she glances back at Monokuma. He grins.

"Whatever, I'm leaving," The soldier walks towards the front door.

"So soon?! But I've barely even said any references--"

Mukur swiftly closes the door behind her and breathes out a relieved sigh. She trudged onward with a yawn.

The next place she sees is a small cluster of worn down buildings with electronics and wires. Mukuro looks up at the light rain and then back at the wires sparking dangerously against the buildings.

… No thanks. I'll pass. Mukuro grimaces.

She skips over the electric place and onto the next area. Her eyes narrow when she sees a building with a sign that says "Titty Typhoon" outside. A strange name, but it's a… name, nonetheless.

She pushes the door open with a small amount of trouble. Once the door clicks shut behind her, she scans over the large room. It looks like a performance area judging by the stage and the bar. It's oddly bright and full of color.

Her eyes widen at the sight of Monomi standing in front of the stage. She starts forward.

"Monomi? Where have you been?" The soldier asks the rabbit as a crinkle forms between her brows. "H-Hina died, and Byakuya was found guilty… Monomi?"

The rabbit looks up at her with a crushed face. Tears are gathered in her beady eyes, and her ears lower. She throws herself forward and hugs Mukuro's legs.

"I'm so sorry I wasn't there! I… had to take care of something," The rabbit ominously says. She sniffles. "I couldn't fix them…"

Mukuro pats the two-color rabbit on the head. "Couldn't fix what?"

Monomi somehow stiffens under her head pats, and she backs away from the soldier. She taps her paws together.

"Th-The rules…" She feebly explains. "In the e-Handbook?"

Mukuro reaches around to grab her e-Handbook from her other pocket then clicks it on. She taps the tab to view the… rules…

What the hell is this?

Her eyes scan over the rules and her hand shakes, struggling to keep the e-Handbook in her hand. She shakes her head slowly, glancing down at Monomi.

"What is this?" She tightens her grip around the edge of the device, but the nervous sweat of her palm slides against the screen. "Where did all of your original rules go?"

Monomi shakes her head. "I don't know!"

The rules listed are as follows…

Rule #1: /×]]?

Rule #2: @ '?,& +,?÷ @: &/@> @> ÷?*+@,< -%& @: @& @> @ /!$× ! [×>>!<×

Rule #3: >?[×&/@,< @> /!))×,@,< @, &/×*× &/× >">&×[> !*× ?$×*/×!&@,<

Rule #4: ÷×*× &*"@,< &? <×& "?% ?%& -%& @& [!" &!+× >?[× &@[× &*" ,?& &? <@$× @,&? &×[)&!&@?,

Rule #5: Once a murder take place, a class trial will begin shortly thereafter. Participation is mandatory for all surviving students.

Rule #6: If the blackened is exposed during the trial, they alone will be executed.

Rule #7: If the blackened is not exposed, the remaining students will be executed.

Rule #8: As a reward, the surviving blackened will be forgiven of their crime and allowed to leave the island.

Rule #9: The Body Discovery Announcement will play as soon as three or more people discover a body for the first time.

Rule #10: Destroying any property of this island without permission is expressly prohibited. This includes surveillance cameras and monitors.

Rule #11: You are free to investigate this island at your own discretion. Your actions in this regard are not limited.

Last Rule: Additional School Trip Rules may be added at the headmaster's discretion.

What happened? What are all of these jumbled up… nonsense words where Monomi's rules were? Is that why Hiro was attacked like that, because Syo and Byakuya noticed the rules changed?

Mukuro takes a deep breath as she slips the e-Handbook back into her pocket. She shifts on her feet, swallowing nervously.

"OK… OK, this is fine," Mukuro smooths her palm over her forehead before she winces when her skin hits the tenderness of the cut above her brow. "Everything is perfectly fine. We can… can…"

Monomi taps her paws together sheepishly, shoulders hunched and ears drooping more. All of a sudden, her back straightens and her beady eyes lose their sparkle. She looks away with a scoff.

"Whatever. I'm outta here,"

Splattering in slight bemusement, the soldier watches as Monomi leaves the building manually. She twists her head to see the double doors open and close harshly.

What just happened?

Mukuro heads to the room near the back of the performance area and peeks inside. She sees rolls of wallpaper as well as other items relevant to this building.

With a heavy sigh, Mukuro turns and leaves Titty Typhoon with a question in her mind.

Why is Monomi acting so weird?

The rabbit is nice--disgustingly so, sometimes--but she's acting less nice and more dismissive. Saying "whatever"? She's never done that before with such a tone of voice. Monomi sounded genuinely annoyed at Mukuro, and the latter has not a single clue as to why.

She walks along the pathway and stares at the drizzle of the rain falling from the sky. Her shoulders slump slightly as her chin raises, simply enjoying the humid weather.

Mukuro comes to a stop in front of the next area and looks at the sign. She hums. A motel, huh? If anything, it'll be like the hotel but slightly less nice, Mukuro guesses. She'll hold off on investigating this area for the time being.

The soldier walks forward towards the next building. Almost immediately, her eyes widen and her jaw drops.

It's a large, black and red building with two large, metal playing cards--the King and Queen of hearts--drilling into the red roof.

Is this supposed to be a casino?

Shuffling forward, Mukuro pushes through the door and is nearly blinded by lights. She closes her eyes for a moment before reopening them, much more adjusted to the lighting than before.

Behind an elegant desk where a Monokuma in a red uniform sits is a wide array of machines and tables for gambling.

Mukuro walks deeper into the building to look at the slot machines, noting the gambling tables are standard.

There are seven large slot machines of different colors lined along the wall. Each one has a different face on the side.

On the green one is a little girl with bobbed, green hair and dark green eyes. Her smile reminds Mukuro of Junko in a way.

The blue one has a little boy with light blue hair on the side. He looks scared and angry at the same time.

The pink one has a girl with long, pink hair tied into pigtails. She's smiling brightly with a pair of dentures attached to some sort of gun.

The brown one has a boy wearing a brown, patched mask. Mukuro cannot see his expression clearly, but he looks like he's grinning while holding a tablet.

The red one has a boy with red spiky hair, like Leon's. He's crying with his arm raised in the air, hand formed into a fist.

The gray one has an unidentified person (the head is cut off) in a white suit. They're surrounded by different versions of Monokuma.

The yellow one has a blond girl with a fairly large scar on her forehead. She has a piece of hair sticking out of the top of her head, and she's holding onto a megaphone.

Mukuro tilts her head and narrows her eyes. Why do all of these people seem familiar to her?

She grabs onto the yellow slot machine's handle and presses it down. The three pictures behind the glass show different pictures.

Bummer. She really wanted to win a prize.

… Is this the thrill of gambling? The seductive moan in her ear is addictive, calling her to play the slot machines more. She runs her hand along the sleek and sexy exterior of the machine, biting her bottom lip to keep in her noises of arousal while her face flushes red.

To gamble away her wealth--or whatever she scrounges up. To gamble her life--

Woah, where the hell did that come from? Mukuro shudders and moves away from the slot machines.

"Two times in the same chapter?" Monokuma appears on the ground. His monochromatic fur is red from his blush. "If I didn't know any better… Mukuro, do you…"

Mukuro scowls at the bear while he kicks his feet against the ground. He runs his paws down his front and smirks.

"Do you have a crush on me?"

… Ew.

Of all the things Monokuma could have suggested, it was a crush on him. Nasty. Mukuro could never like the person controlling the bear nor the actual robot bear itself!

"No, now don't say something like that again," The soldier spits at the bear. She turns and stomps away while pointedly ignoring the nausea the action causes her.

"What?! This is the second time! All I wanna do--"

The door closes.

Mukuro snickers to herself. She runs her hand through her damp hair and continues to laugh to herself outside of the casino. She grits her teeth to stop the sudden tears from building and flowing down her strained cheeks, mixing with the rain drizzling from the sky.

She walks lazily down the path once more, deciding to check out that area full of wires and electronics. Who knows, maybe she'll be electrocuted. Maybe she'll go to Hell and back through a random portal.

She passes the police station and carefully enters the small alleyway full of buzzing electronics. Making sure not to touch anything, the soldier checks out everything she can see.

A lot of the electronics there don't work or are in desperate need of repair to be fully functional. There are torn and untouched wires, and some disk things near the back of the alley.

What catches Mukuro's attention is a laptop with its light shining brightly--somehow accentuated by the slight rain. Her head cocks to the side while her eyes squint. Everything else needs to be fixed or built, so why is this completely fixed and turned on?

Mukuro walks closer and tries to read the words on the screen without touching the wires floating down from the building.

Due to ___, Hope's Peak Academy has gone under an intense ___. This incident, of course, followed two previous ___ at the school; with both girls having ___.

___ students went inside and ___ in the end. The following names are the ___ of the ___. _________________________.

___ is currently heading the ___ operation, yet is classified as ___ so ___ she may ___ manipulate and ___. She'll have her so-called "bodyguards" with her--___ and ___. Be prepared.

In other news, the ___ of the previous ___ has been confirmed as ___ no need to ___ for ___ is also ___. More ___ in ___.

_____________________ no talent. The ___ has all

÷× !'$@>× "?% &? >&!" !÷!" :*?[ '×>)!@*

@& ÷@]] -× /!*' -%& "?% _!, '? &/@>

[!>&×*[@,' [!" )*!" ?, "?%* '×>)!@*

Most of this isn't even legible, Mukuro notes. She leans her head in. What's this document saying about Hope's Peak Academy? What happened with those two students and the incident afterwards?

This letter…

Sighing heavily, Mukuro tugs slightly at the loose sleeve on her left arm. She closes her eyes and hisses. Her hand… lack… of hand hurts. Even though it's gone, she can still feel her fingertips curling and throbbing in pain. Why does her hand… hurt?

Mukuro takes a small step backwards. She pivots on her heel before walking off. Exhaustion and irritation stirs in her bones and joints and muscles.

Her body needs to lie down. Her mind needs to rest. Maybe then the fog tracing the edges of her mind will ease and the bags under her eyes will lighten.

… When was the last time she slept? Not counting the unintentional pass-out during the execution.

Thinking back on it, Mukuro remembers the maze and the abnormally short-long amount of time she and Hiro spent inside. Two days. It certainly didn't feel like two days, but as soon as she ran out of the maze, exhaustion hit her like a truck.

She turns around to leave and startles slightly, hand shooting up in a fist. Her other arm shakes as it's raised.

Chihiro silently stares at her while tilting her own head to the side. Instead of the orange pill bottle in her hand, she's holding a package of cigarettes.

"Where'd you get those?" Mukuro asks with a relieved sigh.

Chihiro raises her brow. "The supermarket,"

Oookay… So Chihiro is keeping up this new blunt nature. Didn't she say Mukuro was like her when they first met?

"So," Chihiro fiddles with the plastic film on the cigarettes. Her hazel eyes are dull, yet they sparkle with curiosity. She sighs. "I don't know if I can say it…"

Mukuro's eyebrows raise slightly.

"D-Don't look at me like that… please. I was just…" The programmer bites her bottom lip and furrows her brow before speaking. "Do… Did…"

"Did…?"

"Did you ever think before running after Syo?"

Out of all of the questions to ask, Mukuro wasn't expecting that one. Her interest piques.

"I-I mean…" The programmer stammers out when Mukuro stays silent from slight shock. "You're always changing. You passively tried the first time to stop others from killing with your w-weapons. When… M-Mondo and T-Taka died, you changed and tried to directly keep others from k-killing…

"How? How are you so strong? Why?!" Chihiro yells. Her head is lowered to hide her face, shoulders hitching with her choked sobs.

Mukuro stares in silence.

"And even now--Celeste told me you were bodyguarding her! You're constantly changing and helping people!" She shakes her head, looking up. Rain and tears drip down her red cheeks. "How can I be as strong as you?!"

The soldier slowly swallows the small lump blocking her airway. She licks her chapped lips as she thinks for a moment. Chihiro waits patiently in front of her.

"Um… Well… If you want, I could help you?" Mukuro clears her throat. "With, uh, getting stronger? If you want?"

Chihiro nearly drops the cigarettes, fumbling with the box before crushing them slightly. Her hazel eyes widen and her jaw drops. Then her face screws up while tears pool more in her eyes.

"Th-Thank you… and…" She feebly mutters, barely loud enough for Mukuro to hear. Chihiro turns around and rushes away. "I'm sorry!"

Mukuro stays standing still as a statue while the words are a wave washing over her. I'm sorry… Why is she sorry? Is it because of…

Her hand stings from pins and needles.

No. No, that wasn't the programmer's fault. It wasn't. It was Mukuro's own fault for running after Syo into Byakuya's damn execution.

She needs to make it up to everyone. She needs to help them. She needs to not be a burden.

She can help all of them when they need it. She can take orders, being a soldier and all. She can do it. No matter the ache it causes her to move around too much or the irritation that creeps into her bones or the stress.

She's fine. She can do it.

Mukuro isn't weak.

Chapter Text

She isn't feeling well… Her arm hurts and her chest aches.

No. No, she needs to be strong. Chihiro said she's strong, and the girl needs Mukuro to help her.

She isn't a burden. She can't be one anymore.

Mukuro inhales a large gulp of air before exhaling loudly. She glances back at the computer screen, still bright in the sprinkling rain. Should she bring this up with Chihiro? Maybe she should ask… Kyoko to see if she knows anything? Her father was the headmaster at Hope's Peak Academy, after all.

She clenches her jaw as she thinks about the detective. An unfamiliar cloud of rage storms over her mind.

She could be the traitor. She could be hiding the fact that her damn father's the true mastermind by helping with the murder cases. Helping with the trials. She… Kyoko could hurt Junko.

Junko likes Kyoko a lot. Kyoko could take their relationship in her gloved hands and crush it, breaking Junko's heart and sending her into despair.

Mukuro bites her nails as she leaves the alley full of electronics. She needs to relax--just for a few minutes.

Out of nowhere, a face full of joy and relief stops Mukuro dead in her tracks. Sayaka's deep blue eyes shine and her smile wobbles.

"Mukuro! You're OK!" She carefully reaches forward and gives the soldier a tight hug. The idol buries her face into the soldier's black shirt. "No one would tell us if you were alright, and I got so worried… I could barely sleep last night!"

Mukuro slowly lifts her arm to wrap it around Sayaka's midsection, hand clutching the fabric of her white schoolgirl outfit. Chuckling, Mukuro regains her footing and properly--yet awkwardly--hugs Sayaka back.

"Yeah, I'm fine… Just a scratch,"

"Just a--What, just a scratch?!" Sayaka pulls back, still in Mukuro's personal space (not that Mukuro minded), to stare incredulously into light purple eyes. "That wasn't just a scratch! You got seriously hurt! I don't know…

"If you died during that, I don't know what I'd do!" Sayaka shakes her head. A shadow falls over her eyes as she looks down. "Please don't do that again… For me?

A bitter part in Mukuro's mind sneers at the desperate and sorrowful eyes of Sayaka's.

That wasn't about Sayaka. She wasn't a part of her thought process hours ago… Why should she dictate what Mukuro can and can't do? She's supposed to defend and throw herself into danger.

Sayaka… it isn't even fucking about her! Fuck! Why does she have to look up at Mukuro with her sparkling blue eyes and flushed pink cheeks, damp hair from the rain, and that stupid fucking smile on her face.

It's not fair… How can everyone smile so easily after something like that? Why is Sayaka smiling? What's so damn amusing about having your fucking arm cut off?!

Is it the despair that comes from it?

A thought strikes Mukuro's mind. What if… What if Sayaka is the traitor and is reporting Mukuro's despair to the mastermind? It explains everything! Sayaka practically volunteered to move her weapons, yelling at her after the second motive to see her despair, and now she wants to see the despair up front and personal.

Everything Monokuma preaches… Despair…

Her stomach twists. Mukuro swallows and smiles tightly. She can't let the idol know she's onto her evil shenanigans. If Sayaka catches wind of Mukuro knowing she's the traitor, she'll probably be executed on the spot.

"Yeah… Yeah, I won't do it again. I think I learned my lesson the first time," Mukuro says, her smile obviously forced.

Sayaka tilts her head in concern. "Are you OK? You're kind of talking like a robot…"

Oh, is she too obvious?

"Gah! N-No, I'm not! It's just a…" The soldier clears her throat and takes a small step backwards. "a sore spot."

A sore spot. Seriously? That's the best she could come up with?

The idol shakes her head and huffs out a laugh. "You're too funny, Mukuro," She takes a small step forward back into Mukuro’s space. "A-Actually… I have something important that I need help with. Can you help me? You're the best for this job!"

Mukuro wants to say no; she wants to so badly with curses and insults to the mastermind and the traitor standing in front of her until Sayaka cries.

Instead, she nods. "Affirmative. I'll help anyone on the island,"

She has to in order to make up for her weakness.

Sayaka's face brightens. "Perfect! Meet me at the first island beach near midnight because the meeting's gonna be there!"

Mukuro watches as Sayaka skips off towards Titty Typhoon, and her eyes narrow once the latter's back is turned.

I'm on to you, traitor.

She turns and leaves the third island behind; she walks to the first island and heads to her cottage. Once she is standing in front of her door, Mukuro notices the new doorknob in her door with a key hanging from the metal.

Mukuro grabs the key and unlocks the door before entering. She shuts the door and storms to her bed on the floor. She sits down and opens up the journal she left there before clumsily writing another log.

The writing is clumsy and shaky but it’s still legible, thankfully.

Potential traitors:

Kyoko Kirigiri - Daughter of the headmaster. Could be hiding father from us and disguising herself. Can't read facial expressions well. Be wary.

Sayaka Maizono - Has been at my side the whole time. Has seen my despair (something Monokuma loves) and is always putting herself close to me. A potential double agent in the future if redeemable?

Mukuro feels oddly guilty as she writes this in her journal, but it's for the greater good. Survival is number one. Finding the traitor and forcing them to spill information about escape from this island is number two.

She isn't being too paranoid, right? No no no, this is for survival. Everyone's survival. She'll get justice for the four who have died due to this sick killing game.

A white light flashes behind her eyes as she remembers the horrors and gore exposed to them.

Mondo, lying on the ground with blood spilling from his head. Taka, torn to shreds until his body barely remained. Hina, pinned to the wall by dozens of nails after hours of being dead from choking to death. Byakuya, sliced into fine pieces and left to stain a mountain's cliff red.

Their blood… It's all red. It stains the optimism and the hopes of the rest of the students on the island.

Mukuro steels herself. Her hand clenches the pencil in her palm until it snaps from the pressure.

The rage is back. Taking a few deep breaths, Mukuro slowly returns to her calm state once more. She can't afford to be angry now. Anger comes later after finding and defeating the mastermind.

Even if it means blood has to be shed along the way.

Four knocks on the door startle Mukuro from her place on the floor. She goes to push herself up but ends up flailing and teetering to her left.

Damn it. Mukuro seethes. Her irritation spikes. Of course.

Awkwardly, Mukuro stands, her hand grabbing onto any and everything sturdy enough to support her weight. She finally rises to her feet and walks to the door. Opening it, she sees an annoyed Celeste, an excited Hifumi carrying a box with cartoon characters covering it, and a nervous Chihiro carrying a small box.

Mukuro tilts her head. "Oh, is it already time?" That was fast; abnormally so. Most likely because Chihiro is a programmer, and Hifumi probably made things like this before.

Celeste simply nods, but Hifumi practically squeals. "I'm so excited for you to see the arm I made you! I guarantee it'll be up to your standards, for Ms. Ludenberg specifically told me what you wanted!"

I never put in any design requests… Mukuro deadpans.

"I-I'm the one that got the electronics to work, so the sensors inside will help with movement…" Chihiro mumbles.

Celeste raises her brow with a smile. "May we come inside? I would prefer to not stand outside during this exchange,"

Mukuro pulls back slightly and allows her guests to enter, a slightly embarrassed flush on her freckled cheeks. She closes the door once the three enter the room.

"Ms. Ikusaba, I present to you--" Hifumi opens the box with a proud grin. "your new arm!"

Mukuro silently stares at the arm.

Chihiro scratches her cheek with her finger, glancing off to the side. "Do you… like it?"

Mukuro stares for longer before she nods. It is really pretty, but it goes with Celeste's color scheme and theme rather than the soldier's. It's sleek and black--the light reflects brightly, Mukuro notices--and a bright red outlines each plate of the metal body. Where the joints are are small, round, white bits of rubber and electronics to move the fingers. Mukuro can't help but think her fingers would look like a spiderweb. On the inside is a soft padding for comfort.

"Ah, good. Though it did not take long for this to be built, it would be a shame to make another because you didn't like it," The gambler leans forward with a small smile. She glares at Mukuro, but neither Hifumi nor Chihiro notice the change in posture.

The soldier grits her teeth. "Affirmative… It'd be such a shame,"

Chihiro steps forward slightly and opens her own box. Inside are four small items attached to black strings. Three of them are buttons with the colors blue, black, and red surrounding the white of the buttons. The last item is as small as the others, but it has a screen on it.

"What's that?" Mukuro takes the small item with the screen when Chihiro passes it to her.

"Well… it's a simple communicator. If one of these buttons is pressed," Chihiro quickly taps one of the white buttons. After a moment, the screen on Mukuro's device lit up. It says "Small assistance on Island 1" on the small screen. "It'll tell you where the person is. One tap is for slight emergencies, two taps is an urgent emergency, and one hold is for help because of a… m-murder."

Mukuro nods as she takes in the information. "These were made quickly…"

"Yes. Perhaps too quickly, but I suppose the design isn't that important," The gambler rolls her eyes. The programmer glares up at Celeste and tsks.

Hifumi sets his box down on the bed and cups his chin while gazing at the items. "Impressive work, Ms. Fujisaki! In the cosplay world, your programming skills could lead to more impressive costumes!"

Chihiro cringes as he says "Ms. Fujisaki". Mukuro narrows her eyes slightly. Does she not like being referred to as that? Does it make her feel old?

Celeste walks around the small cottage, but Mukuro pays the girl no mind. She's probably just curious about the lack of items inside of her cottage.

"So, Chihiro. What time would work best for our own training session? After Sakura's; it could be in the afternoon?"

Chihiro deflates slightly, fidgeting with her fingers. "Um… actually… Sakura disbanded our morning workout…"

What? Why would she do that? Mukuro tries to dig up ideas as to why the martial artist would do such a thing, but then she remembers one thing.

Hina.

Sakura was very close to Hina, and they left on a bad note when Hina was killed. She probably feels guilty…

"But," The programmer looks up with a strained smile. "We can start tomorrow at two!"

"Affirmative--"

"Yes, yes, your workouts are important, but I have plans to discuss with Mukuro, here," Celeste glares at Chihiro and Hifumi, one staring at her unimpressed while the other shakes. "If you two would kindly leave."

Chihiro rolls her eyes and scoffs. "Oh, yeah? What're you going to do about it?"

Something in Celeste's gaze shifts. She throws up her right hand, her index finger half-covering her scowl. The metal of her sharp ring glints dangerously.

"I said get out! This has nothing to do with you, crybaby! Or you, you fat-mouthed tub of lard and pig sweat! You are both practically F-Ranks at this point!" She glares at Hifumi. " Again!"

Hifumi squeals as he leaves the cabin frantically. "I-I'm sorry! This piggy is leaving!"

Chihiro's eyes are wide, not expecting the shouting directed at her. Her eyes tear up yet she doesn't cry. She nods shakily and leaves, placing the buttons on the bed next to the arm.

The door closes loudly.

Mukuro stares at Celeste in disbelief as the latter regains her composure near instantly.

"Ah, I do love it when people follow orders I give them," The gambler tilts her head and smiles. "I find it satisfying."

That is what she calls satisfying? Hifumi nearly wet himself while running out the door, and Chihiro almost cried!

Sadist…

The gambler sets her sharp gaze on Mukuro, her slight smile curling into a smirk. She bends down and picks up the journal Mukuro left on the floor, and Mukuro automatically tenses when her eyes see the book.

Celeste flips through the pages, eyebrows slowly climbing higher and higher. She lands on the last page with potential traitors. Her hand smoothes over the lined page.

"Now, Mukuro," She smirks, eyes narrowed slightly. "It's not nice to make comments like this about people behind their backs."

Dread seeps into the soldier's gut.

The gambler holds the book loosely with her hand, twirling her hair with the other. "It would be a shame if these awful notes got out. I mean, you would be as hated as Monokuma himself with the things you wrote in here,"

"What do you want?" Mukuro forces out of her mouth.

"Why, leverage of course. I wouldn't want you to betray me anytime soon,"

"Leverage… Seriously, I already agreed to be your bodyguard! Why do you need leverage?!"

"That's none of your concern," Celeste sharply hisses. Her accent disappears once again. She brightens up her face. "Now, I do not care what you do during your day, but when I call for you, you will come to where I am. I will leave letters in your mailbox for you to deliver items to a specific location, as well."

Mukuro can't believe this. She's being blackmailed.

A strange thought works into her mind. What if Celeste is the traitor and is blackmailing her because she's already suspected by someone else? Is that why she needs the bodyguard? Oh, God, why didn't she see this coming?! The traitor is in front of her!

Taking note of Mukuro's silence, Celeste smirks and closes the journal with a firm snap. Mukuro flinches at the sound.

"I see you've made your decision,"

No, she hasn't! She really hasn't!

Celeste leaves Mukuro's cottage, but not before taking the black button and sending a smirk over her shoulder. "I look forward to working with you,"

The door closes softly.

Mukuro drops the communicator to the floor. Her shoulders shake. That familiar rage from earlier washes over her mind and shoulders, weighing down on her body and nearly forcing her to the ground.

That… That bitch! How dare she? She can't do that! She can't… just…

Mukuro smoothes her palm over her face and tries to breathe deeply, but she finds her airway becoming constricted. She cups her throat and coughs, but it only serves to irritate her throat more.

Damn it!

Her eyes sting and her face feels like lava.

Calm down, calm down, calm down, calm down, calm down, calm down, calm down.

Breathe in… and out…

Everything is going to be OK. Absolutely fine. She'll have to be careful around Celeste and steal her journal back when she has the chance.

Her eyes go to the box on her bed, sitting with the arm inside of it. The idea of wearing a metal arm makes her stomach roll and clench uneasily.

Gingerly shrugging Hiro's shirt off of her left arm, Mukuro walks cautiously towards the box. As if whatever inside is going to pounce and attack her. Her eyes roam over the arm.

She picks it up and watches as the wrist flops down, the rubber connected to the metal from the underside stretching. She takes a deep breath. Here goes nothing.

Mukuro slowly brings the arm up to fit over her bandaged stump. She winces slightly as the cushioning inside hits the covered stitching on the end of her arm. Other than that slight jumble of the arm, nothing happens. In fact, the arm feels… comfortable; definitely not normal, however.

The metal is lightweight, Mukuro notes. It's so light that the arm doesn't weigh down on her at all.

The arm whirs to life almost instantly.

"Huh…" Mukuro blinks.

She turns her new wrist and curls her fingers, gripping her hand into a fist and then dropping it into an open palm. The metal cracks softly together.

The clenching in her gut lightens slightly, but the pins and needles in her arm don't go away. If anything, the irritation from earlier builds again. Mukuro pushes it down because anger can lead to unwanted consequences.

Maybe she just needs to go out and use it in order to feel somewhat normal, Mukuro notes as she slips her arm back through the hole of the white button up. She picks up her communicator and slips the string loop over her neck so the device hangs on her chest. She grabs the other two buttons and simply stares at them.

Who should she give these to?

Junko, of course, will get one, but the other one? She goes over the names of her classmates in her head before she remembers one. One who she's concerned about.

Nodding to herself, Mukuro walks to her door and twists the knob with her new left hand. She opens the door and startles slightly when she sees Sakura standing there silently.

"Sakura? Are you OK?" Mukuro asks. She slips the two buttons into her pocket.

Sakura stares at her. Her silver eyes dart down to her arm, and her eyebrows raise slightly. She opens her mouth before closing it, folding her arms across her chest.

Mukuro is now concerned. "Sakura…?"

"Come with me," Sakura turns and walks away.

Mukuro scrambles after Sakura. She walks behind the fast-walking girl with a huff of annoyance. Sakura continues walking until they reach the beach on the first island.

"What… Why are we here?" The soldier asks impatiently.

Sakura turns her head to glance at Mukuro over her shoulder. She huffs out a sad chuckle before whipping around, face hard.

"Drop and give me one hundred,"

Mukuro flinches at the harsh glare directed at her. She desperately wants to follow the order, but her irritation takes over her mind. She sneers.

"Oh, yeah? Why should I?"

The martial artist's face somehow becomes sterner, and a scowl forms on her face. She crosses her arms.

"You aren't strong at all. If you were, maybe you wouldn't be acting like this," She waves her large hand in the air, gesturing over Mukuro's body. "The others cannot see it, but I can. The anger stewing inside of you is becoming stronger, but you are too weak to properly handle it."

The soldier's pride flares at the casual way Sakura is ripping into her. She hates it.

Mukuro rolls her eyes and clenches her hands into fists, ignoring the shaking in her arms. "You can't talk to me like that. I am stronger than ever, and I am not weak! I refuse to be!"

Sakura points her index finger out and pokes Mukuro in the chest, pushing her back slightly. "You speak of being strong now that you have that thing attached to you, but I saw the way you left the third island," She sets her jaw. "I saw the rage on your face. The weakness you cannot hide."

She isn't weak! Weak soldiers die on the battlefield during the first month! Hell, they may even die during training exercises!

But Mukuro survived. She survived bombs and bullets and knives and planes and kamikazes! For fucks sake, she's survived everything one could on the battlefield with not a single scar on her body.

Yet here Sakura is, telling her she's weak… The irritation builds slowly, becoming a steaming anger and then an exploding rage.

"I… am not…" Mukuro's voice shakes, eyes glazing over. She pounces. " WEAK!"

Mukuro reaches out and grabs Sakura's forearm tightly and flips her onto her back. She releases her and steps back while breathing choppily. She puts up her hands in a fighting stance, glaring down at the martial artist.

Kicking herself up, Sakura stands still to the side. Her head faces Mukuro while her body slants to the side.

"So that is how we're going to do this," Sakura slides into a professional fighting stance. Her eyes narrow. "If that is how it's going to be… then so be it!"

Sakura kicks herself forward and raises her fist. Mukuro swivels and just barely manages to dodge the blow to her stomach.

She growls. "You can't stop me,"

"I look forward to proving you wrong," Sakura retaliates.

Both warriors rush forward. They exchange kicks and punches and blows that would probably kill a weaker person. While Sakura stays quiet aside from occasional grunts of pain, Mukuro is yelling words of hostility at the other. Things she knows she doesn't mean, but things that seem right to say at the time.

Mukuro sends an unexpected jab at Sakura's throat and then sweeps her feet out from under her. The martial artist falls on her back, defeated, but Mukuro isn't done. Her mind fills with dark thoughts. Thoughts she's had while scared on the battlefield.

Kill her. She'll take you out. The enemy can kill you at any moment. Kill her. Kill her. Kill her. Kill her. Kill her. Kill her. Kill her.

Letting out a scream of rage, Mukuro raises her fist and prepares to strike down. She doesn't expect a scream from the sidelines.

"Muku, what the fuck?!"

Mukuro flinches at the intense shriek. Her head snaps up to see a surprised Junko, a horrified Leon and Sayaka, and a stoic Kyoko.

Sakura takes advantage of her distraction and kicks Mukuro in the gut, sending her rolling many feet away. Mukuro lands on her side and grips her stomach. She shakily pushes herself up while holding her hand over her stomach to keep the small breakfast she had down.

"I told you before, Mukuro," The soldier looks up with a scowl to see Sakura standing tall with her head raised high. "Your anger and hostility will only cause yourself to break."

Mukuro shakes her head. "You're wrong… You only won because I was distracted!"

"You would have lost anyway! You didn't notice the grip I had on your foot while I was down! I could have broken your ankle at any moment!"

Screaming, Mukuro lunges with her hands stretched in front of her. Sakura catches her with her bare hand, holding the soldier in the air by her neck. Mukuro chokes and holds tightly onto the martial artist's wrist.

"What the hell is happening?!" Leon finally yells, jogging forward with a red face. The other three follow behind him.

"You know as well as I that Monokuma can take advantage of your feelings, Mukuro. Your hatred and anger can only get you so far, and I doubt it will get you anywhere good," Sakura says with a soft tone, much friendlier than earlier. "Why are you so angry?"

Mukuro smirks and weakly spits out. "Fuck… y-you,"

Sayaka gasps. "M-Mukuro!"

Sakura tsks in disappointment. She drops Mukuro onto the ground where she kneels and roughly gasps for air, clutching at her throat. Her new arm has a few dents and scratches in it. They only serve to fuel her anger.

"What, so we're done?!" Mukuro's hoarse voice exclaims through a laugh. She grins when she sees Sakura walking off. "You drag me out here to say I'm weak and then you walk away after it's all over! You know who's the real weak one? You!"

Junko rubs her eyes. "Muku, Sakura, can someone please explain what's going on?"

Sakura shakes her head and comes to a stop to turn around. "I'm not done with you. We're going to train some more, and you will learn to control your anger,"

"Control my--Control my anger?! I'm not even fucking angry!" Mukuro stands roughly to her feet and snarls. "And we never trained! We started beating each other up!"

"Exactly. We trained,"

Mukuro glares, and her anger rises again. "You son of a--!"

Kyoko steps in front of Mukuro's path of fury, halting her attack. "I'm disappointed in you,"

Mukuro reels back with wide eyes. "In me…? B-But she started it!" She cries out.

"You aren't making a good case for yourself, Mukuro. If Sakura was the one who started this predicament, you wouldn't be frantically trying to justify that it was her,"

"B-But--"

"Not only that, but the way you were fighting wasn't normal. You were attacking wildly and without much thought," Her lavender gaze hardens. "I wonder, would you be OK if you had accidentally killed Sakura?"

That sends Mukuro into a state of silence. Her face blanches and her light purple eyes widen. She looks past the detective and at Sakura, finally seeing the bruises and the small cut on her brow.

She looks down at herself and touches her face, pulling away with small traces of blood on her fingers. Confusion blades in her mind.

"What… but I never felt the… the, uh…" Mukuro's mind draws a blank. She bites her thumb and sways back and forth slightly, stress weighing on her shoulders.

Sayaka steps forward slightly. "Mukuro, what happened?"

"I-I… Sh-She…"

"Nothing to be concerned about. A training mishap gone wrong," Sakura answers with a small smile.

"That…" Leon scratches his chin with a small, nervous chuckle. "isn't believable…"

"No shit! Sakura, Muku, what happened?!" Junko taps her foot impatiently and stands with her hand on her hips.

"It's… what Sakura said…" Mukuro grumbles. She sighs as she says the next sentence in a growl. "I was just too angry and attacked without thinking…"

Kyoko raises her brow and crosses her arms. She stares into light purple eyes with her lavender gaze burning a deep hole into Mukuro's soul.

"OK, then," Kyoko turns and walks away.

Junko squawks. "K-Kyoko!" She tsks and glances at Mukuro. "You will tell me all the deets later." With that, she runs off to catch up with the detective.

Leon leaves with a nervous smile and a wave, scratching the back of his head as he leaves.

Sayaka stays a moment longer. She's staring at the metal hand attached to her arm, but she says nothing about it.

"You can always talk to someone about the pain," Sayaka gives her a sad smile before leaving.

Mukuro watches the beautiful girl leave the beach with an ache in her chest. How did she know about the pain in her arm?... Right. She's psychic.

"So," Sakura says so suddenly that Mukuro forgot she was there. Her silver gaze softens at the blank glaze behind Mukuro's eyes. "I offer my help. Will you accept?"

"... I have a condition," Mukuro says after a long moment of silence. Sakura nods. "I want to bring someone with me."

Sakura smiles and nods. "I presume they also want to become stronger?"

"Yeah… Yeah, they do,"

The anger still bubbles beneath her skin, waiting for another time to break through and cause trouble. For now, Mukuro is oddly calm as she speaks with the martial artist.

Her arm tingles and her body hurts. Her head is fuzzy, yet she can't seem to place her finger on the familiar feeling fog that tries to surround her brain.

Oh, well. Maybe she'll figure it out in the future.

Chapter Text

Junko has no idea what the hell is up with her sister.

Like, Mukuro was fighting Sakura and wasn't being rational at all. Her movements were uncoordinated and her eyes were glazed over, as if she wasn't in the right mindset.

Junko has analyzed all of the possible reasons as to why Mukuro is being weird, but she can't pin down the correct one. In fact, there can be multiple reasons as to what's going on. Approximately one-hundred and fifty-seven to be precise.

No matter. She'll just annoy the living daylights out of her sister until Mukuro snaps and spills everything.

A perfect plan, indeed.

In the meantime, Junko is on the second island in front of the ruin. Her red eyes stare intensely at the keypad. So far there is little progress being made to opening the door, but the major headache will be worth it once it's open.

The machine gun hanging on the wall and pointed at her head intimates her, but death is the least of her concerns. This mystery is a delicious treat.

"Staring at the keypad all day won't help you solve the problem faster,"

And then there's lovely Kyoko Kirigiri. Junko's heart flutters and her face heats up, but she scoffs and rolls her eyes to disguise her flustered state.

"Mayhaps, but who knows? This thing could be solved like," Junko raises her hand and snaps her fingers. "that. I just gotta figure the code out."

Kyoko leans her shoulder against the ruin and raises her brow. "The keypad has no traces of use on it. None of the painted letters have been chipped away, even by accident,"

She has a brilliant point there. Junko clicks her tongue against the roof of her mouth before rubbing her temples. Now that she thinks about it, why does the keypad have letters instead of numbers?

"Not only that, but for some reason you have strange headaches and spiking nausea whenever you're on this island," The detective shifts her weight on her feet and glares at the side of Junko's head. "Don't think none of us haven't noticed. It's pretty obvious."

"Well… Shit, I actually have nothing to say to that," The fashionista takes a step back and claps her hands together while tilting her head. She grins. "Bravo! You figured my sickness out… kinda sickness… Whatevs."

Kyoko smiles softly, and Junko's insides turn to mush. She should smile more often… She looks gorgeous.

"You might catch flies if you keep staring like that," Kyoko smirks when the other's mouth closes with a click.

"U-Uh, yeah, uh--" Junko clears her throat. She shoots up a peace sign. "I was just admiring your smile! Wait, no--I was, um, I was…"

"Take your time,"

Junko's mind draws a blank. "Um… yeah,"

"Yeah?"

"Yeah,"

This is awkward. Not for Kyoko, obviously, who has the most shit-eating grin adorning her face. No, Junko feels awkward as hell for maybe the first time in her life, and she has no idea what to do.

The fashionista clears her throat. "Ahem… So, uh, like, I wanna go check out the third island some more… Wanna come with?"

Kyoko shakes her head. "Unfortunately, I have other matters to attend to on the central island. Can we meet up later?"

The fashionista grins. "Absolutely! See ya later then, detective!"

Junko practically skips off and leaves the second island, heading to the third one. She turns to the left and goes to the casino. Not because the allure of the slot machines is drawing her in, no, but because she has a feeling.

She steps inside the casino with a grumble at her damp hair. It's whatever, everything is fine.

Junko sees Celeste standing peacefully in the corner of the room with not a single emotion on her face. She sneers in the gambler's direction before making her way to the seven slot machines.

Her red eyes swirl over each machine carefully, but the only one she's having trouble with is the silver machine. She vaguely recognizes all of the people on the machines, but the silver one…

She notes the white suit covering the person's thin frame, showing off the person's curves. The roundness of their chest--are those boobs?--and the clear want to keep their identity a secret. Just who is this person she recognizes?

The doors to the casino slam open. Junko turns, greatly surprised.

Mukuro stomps into the casino with her teeth grit together and a slight waver in her steps. She spots Celeste and goes over to her, and the two angrily whisper to each other.

Junko's brows raise slightly in bemusement. This is a strange turn of events. In all of the days spent here, the only times Mukuro and Celeste have interacted were at the class trials--that she knows of.

She watches the long argument between the two black-haired girls before Mukuro throws up her hands and goes to leave. The soldier stumbles when she sees Junko staring at her in a calculating way.

Mukuro makes her way over, the angry red on her freckled cheeks not dying down. "Hey, Junko… Uh, how long have you been here?"

"Since, like, a bit before you,"

"Oh, so you… saw all of that…?"

"Ugh, don't do that thing where you're all sad and guilty because you acted like an asshole in front of me and you regret it," She rolls her eyes and places her hands on her hips. "You can act like an ass. You deserve that right."

"I…" Mukuro fiddles with her metal fingers. Her eyebrows crease from anger, but the bump between her brows smooths over swiftly. "appreciate that I can act like an ass according to you."

"You better appreciate it! I work hard everyday to be an ass 'cause I deserve it, and now we can be asses together!" Junko claps her hands. "How fun!"

Mukuro glances behind her at the slot machines. "Oh, were you playing those?"

"No. Just… admiring the art,"

A fat lie. Mukuro doesn't need to concern herself with the details of Junko's investigation.

"But I have a question," Junko folds her arms across her chest and tilts her head. "Why are you so angry? I have a ton of different scenarios as to why, but I'm not too sure."

Mukuro hardens her gaze. Her left hand begins to tremble until the soldier looks in near pain. She grips at the wrist of her left hand, teeth clenched, before she forcibly wills the shaking to stop.

The fashionista watches the movements closely.

Oh. Oh, so that's what this is about. Figures. All of the possibilities and theories Junko had created wash away except for one specific theory.

The theory? Mukuro has phantom pain, is going through the stages of grief over the loss of her arm, and her PTSD self is making her angry and very irrational.

Junko shifts her gaze towards Celeste, who's watching the twins closely. Turning her attention back to Mukuro, Junko narrows her eyes. She looks at Celeste again, then Mukuro.

Holy shit… These two have a rivalry going on… or something! Why else would Celeste glare daggers into the back of Mukuro’s head or the two have a furious whisper battle with rising anger levels? But, Junko wonders, why are they angry at each other? As far as she knows, Mukuro has no reason to be angry at Celeste and vice versa.

Mukuro, as is feeling Celeste’s gaze, nearly snaps her neck to look over her shoulder. Her lips pull into a sneer that looks more like a wolf bearing its teeth.

OK, time to be a good sister and break this fight up. Junko grabs Mukuro by the hand, startling her in the process, and leads her outside and away from the third island. Mukuro tries to pull herself away from the fashionista’s tight grip, but she relents and follows where her sister is dragging her.

So much for investigating the third island some more. No matter, Mukuro is more important than a mass of land with various landmarks covering the surface.

Junko pulls her all the way to the first island, passing many of their classmates in the process, and makes her sit down in the restaurant. Mukuro crosses her arms with a pout and a half-hearted glare.

“Oh, don’t make that face. Had I left you alone with Celeste, you probably would’ve ripped her face off,” Not that Junko minded; the bitch needed to be taught a lesson or two.

Mukuro sticks her tongue out which Junko returns with a snort.

“Could you two stop that…”

Mukuro and Junko jump and whip around to where Toko sits. She’s lost her usual stutter, and she sounds… defeated. Heartbroken.

“Toko? When the hell did you sneak in?” Junko clutches at her chest to try and slow her heartbeat.

Mukuro sighs. “She’s… actually been here since before the morning announcement,” She runs her fingers along the dents in her left arm before talking to Toko. “Did Hiro leave you here?”

Toko stays silent, but her facial expression changes to one of slight annoyance. She rolls her eyes and licks her dry, chapped lips. Her uninjured eye flickers over to the kitchen entrance and then to the window.

Junko rolls her eyes. Would it kill the girl to actually talk to them? “Girl, speak up. I can’t understand all that secret code mumbo jumbo you got going on,”

“He left…” The writer says after a pause. She clears her throat. “They all left…”

Mukuro draws her hand up to her mouth and bites her thumb. “What…?”

“Don’t play dumb,” Toko spits, but her usual malice isn’t backing up the statement. “My first f-friend, no… Hina died and left me. Ma-Master… Byakuya killed her and left me. Hiro left me a while ago. Said I could handle myself pretty well since I have someone looking after me.” She jabs her finger to her temple, and Junko understands what she’s talking about. “Now… I’m alone. Everyone always ends up leaving me because nobody ever wants me in the end. Am I just… unlovable?”

Junko scratches the back of her neck. Geez, this got real depressing real fast.

Mukuro pulls something from her pocket. It’s a small blue button connected to a black string. Cocking her head to the side, Junko watches the soldier’s actions closely.

“Uh… you don’t have to… be alone, that is. This is something Chihiro made,”

“And that helps me, how?” Toko mutters.

“W-Well… When you press it, it’ll tell me where you are so you won’t be alone anymore,” Junko makes a small noise when Mukuro admits this. “One tap is slight emergencies, two taps for urgent emergencies, and one hold in case a murder happens. If you ever need me, just give this thing a press.”

Toko grabs the button idly as Mukuro passes it to her. She stares at it for a long while.

“Just… think about it?” Mukuro smiles and stands up. She walks out of the restaurant and leaves Junko behind, her e-Handbook giving a short chime.

Junko watches as Toko clutches the button close to her chest. Her shaking hands throw the loop of the string over her head to situate the button around her neck, acting as a necklace.

She still looks defeated and wary. Vulnerable.

Junko kind of hates it. She wants Toko to be OK again, to be normal, but she… she doesn’t seem ready to change.

With a weight on her shoulders, Junko silently descends the stairs and nearly bumps into her sister, who is waiting at the bottom of the stairs with her hands shaking into fists. She steps around Mukuro and stands in front of her where she nearly startles out of her own skin.

Mukuro’s light purple eyes are darker, more deadly looking. Her irises are swirling, making her have the same eyes as both Taka before his execution and Byakuya a second before he actually died. The same swirl of anger, fear, depression, confusion, and… pleasure.

“Muku?” Junko waves her hand in front of the soldier’s face before flinching back a few steps as Mukuro pins her with an unwavering glare. This… This is not her sister.

Mukuro takes out another button from her pocket, this one being red, and shoves it out in front of her with a stiff grunt. Junko stares at the button, held loosely by its string before taking it. Mukuro, with a strange smirk, stalks out of the restaurant while stomping angrily.

Junko stares at the same spot the soldier was moments ago, brows furrowed and teeth biting her bottom lip. What the hell is happening anymore?

“Having trouble with your sister?” Monokuma appears with a smirk.

Junko glares down at the bear. “Why do you care?”

Monokuma lets out his usual giggle and doesn’t answer the question. Just normal, everyday shit at this point.

“Upupupu… I don’t! But I just felt the despair dripping off of her body… Oooh!” He holds his stomach and blushes red. “I feel so jealous! The despair she must be feeling is just to die for!”

Junko scoffs, but her chest aches and her brain goes haywire. “Y-You’re wrong. Muku could never give into despair!”

“You're so sure about that, huh?” Monokuma tilts his head. “Puhuhuhu…”

The monochromatic bear disappears.

Junko shakes her head as she walks out of the restaurant, slipping the button into her blazer pocket. She sees Hiro sitting on one of the reclinable chairs and sighs internally. To get her mind off of things, she can talk to him. She does, after all, have some free time.

Hiro opens his brown eyes once Junko comes closer and flinches. Junko blinks in slight shock.

“Hey, crystal balls, wanna hang with the sexiest chick alive?” Junko throws up a peace sign and smiles easily.

She expects Hiro to grin and laugh before offering her to sit with him. She expects his easy-going smile. She expects a chat about tarot cards or palm reading.

Junko doesn’t receive any of those.

Instead, she receives Hiro looking her up and down, shivering, and looking away. Her confidence shrivels up faster than a ballsack in the cold. She taps her foot impatiently and looks expectantly at the end of the chair which houses Hiro's legs.

“Sooo… Are we hanging out, Hiro?”

“Pl-Please, don't hurt me! T-Take my savings!"

Junko nearly flinches. What the hell. "Hiro, what the hell happened?"

Hiro flinches and finally moves from his relaxed position. He stands up far too quickly and shuffles away from her, holding up his arms and shaking whilst cowering. He winces at the pain in his foot, his flushed cheeks stretching into a grimace.

"I-I don't wanna fight! I told T-Toko she'll be fine by herself! I'm a coward!" Hiro cries out. Tears spring at the corners of his eyes.

Junko backs away and leaves the hotel along with the petrified Hiro. She runs her hand through her red hair in confusion. What the hell is happening?

She spots Leon and Sayaka walking along the path towards her, both of them carrying a bag in their hand. Junko races up to them and stops them in their path.

“Do I smell or something? Sayaka, smell me, hurry!” Junko lifts her arms and waits for Sayaka to smell her.

Sayaka stares at her with a creased brow, and, for a second, Junko believes she is going to be dismissed again. Instead, the idol giggles out a polite “No”. No? What the fuck does she mean, no?! Hiro is afraid of her for some reason, and she doesn’t know why!

Leon dips down and nearly falls onto the ground as he leans forward to smell Junko’s armpit. He pulls back with a smile. “Hell, you smell better than any of us do. Is that Dove, by the way?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah, my manager said… Wait, now’s not the time for that!” Junko points at the hotel with worry. “Hiro's scared me!”

Sayaka tilts her head. “He… He's scared of you? But Hiro never seems afraid of anyone without reason,”

“But he told me to take his savings and that he was a coward! I know I seem really scary, but I'm a pile of cupcakes once you get to know me!” Junko clutches at her hair. She bites her lip between her teeth before releasing it. “A-And Muku was acting weird too! I must’ve done something!”

“Maybe they need time to chill, Junko! I-I mean…” Leon scratches his chin. “Our leader did just, uh, y’know. We’re all still sore over her death, so, like, some time wouldn’t be too bad.”

Right. Right, yeah, Hina did get glass-choked to death by Byakuya just yesterday.

“Yeah…” Junko runs her fingers through her long hair. “D-Do you two wanna hang out with me…?”

“Sorry, Junko, but Leon and I have to set up something important tonight!” Sayaka glances up at the sky, which is now a pale orange. “Oh! We need to go! There’s not much time left! Make sure to come by the first island beach at three a.m.!”

The two walk around Junko while the girl stands there speechless.

OK… OK, she can find someone to hang out with before whatever Sayaka and Leon have going on. Right.

But who can she hang out with? Mukuro and Hiro are acting weird, and Kyoko is investigating something on her own. Toko is being reclusive and is most likely not going to talk to her. Hifumi is weird in general. Celeste's a bitch. Chihiro and Sakura probably want nothing to do with her.

Junko breathes in and out deeply. Stressing about not wanting to be alone won't do anyone any good.

But… that just leaves…

"Junko!"

Makoto. Junko glances up to see Makoto running towards her with a bright smile on his face, genuine happiness to see her.

Oh, wow. He's literally the only option left.

Makoto comes to an abrupt stop a foot away from her, breathing heavily. He grins. "Hey! I've been looking everywhere to hang out with you!"

Ugh, how the hell is he still upbeat?

He pulls something out of his pocket and thrusts it towards her. Junko takes the item without looking at it, slightly suspicious of the boy's intentions. Glancing down at the item, Junko stifles a gasp.

In her hand are new hair bands. One of them is a strange rabbit that is gray with a tan belly and gray triangles on the chest. It has a blank look on its face, and another animal is riding on its head. The other is a sparkling white bow.

It's… gorgeous.

"Oh… em… gee…" The fashionista holds the items close to her, eyes sparkling. "These are so totally adorable1! Where the hell did you get them?! Tell me, I need all the deets!"

Makoto lets out a small sigh of relief. He smiles.

Junko tucks the hair bands into her blazer pocket and stands with her hands on her hips. "So, you wanna hang out with the sexy fashionista herself, Junko Enoshima? Fine, I guess I can spare some time,"

"Great!"

Junko stares at the lucky student until he shifts uncomfortably. "Y'know, I don't really get you,"

Makoto startles. "Wh-What?"

"I mean, why the hell are you so optimistic? Even when you aren't saying shit, you're smile is geniune,"

"Oh… well, I just think the best of everyone," The boy scratches his cheek in thought. He tilts his head. "I think you care about people, Junko, even if you have a… different way of showing it."

The redhead scowls and scoffs. "Yeah, right! I'm as tough as rocks, slick as ice, stubborn as a mule!" She crosses her arms and smirks. "I care for no one!"

"Not even Mukuro?"

Junko falters. "W-Well…"

Damn him. He figured her out!

"... yeah, I do. What, you gonna hold a gun to my head or something and make me admit it?!"

Makoto jolts at the sudden turn in conversation. His face blanches to a ashen gray and his hands fly up, seemingly trying to calm Junko down.

"No, not at all!" He says.

Junko cackles. "Oh, boy, you should see your face! You were like, 'Oh' and then 'Agh!' and then 'Waaah!'. Kh-hahaha!"

Makoto shakily smiles and fiddles with the hood of his jacket.

"But, anyway," The fashionista taps her foot and glares off to the side. She huffs. "I need your help. Miku and Fall Out Boy want me to drag my ass out to the beach at three a.m.. Three a.m.!"

The lucky boy makes a bemused face. "Miku and… Fall Out Boy?"

"Wh--Don't tell me you don't know how I'm talking about!" She pouts out her lips and glares at Makoto. "It should be pretty obvious."

Makoto cups his chin and thinks for a few seconds before nodding. "Ah, right. You're talking about Sayaka and Leon,"

"Of course I am!" Junko opens her e-Handbook and checks the time. "Shit, I wanna check up on Detective before I split to the beach." She throws up a peace sign and grins. "Catch you later, Clover!"

Junko's and Makoto's e-Handbooks chime at the same time.

"Cl-Clover?" Makoto asks himself softly as Junko skips away.

Junko passes by Chihiro, who's stumbling on her feet and acting ditzy. Her cheeks are red, and she's babbling out nonsense.

… She'll look into it later.

Leaving the first island, Junko looks around the central island before going to Jabberwock Park. She sees Kyoko standing in front of the timer. Grinning, Junko jogs over to stand in front of her. Opening her mouth to speak, Junko suddenly fumbles.

Kyoko is staring forward through Junko, eyes glazed over and her cheeks tinted a slight red color.

"Detective? Hey, Kyoko?" Junko places her hands on the detective's shoulders and shakes her lightly. She doesn't see a reaction. "God, why is everyone acting so weird today…?"

As if a light switch flickered on, Kyoko stands up straighter and appears to be more normal than before. She looks tired. The sudden bags under her eyes are dim but still noticeable when close enough.

"Uh, Kyoko, are you OK? You good?"

"Yeah, I'm fine,"

The fashionista narrows her eyes. "I'm fine"… That's a phrase that's been coming up a lot in Junko's life as of recent, hasn't it?

Skeptical, Junko asks. "Are… you sure? You look a little tired,"

Kyoko makes a small, unnatural laugh come from her mouth. She smiles--fake--and shakes her head.

"You're funny, Junko. You don't need to worry about me, I'm just having a bad few hours,"

If anything, that makes Junko worry even more. Kyoko would normally tease her for worrying or just say nothing in general. This? This is confusing.

"Oh, uh, well…" Junko smiles, strained. "Glad to know you're OK, Detective."

"Right…" The far away gaze in her eyes returns. She goes silent staring through Junko.

Junko takes several steps away from Kyoko with a deep furrow accentuating the bump between her eyebrows.

Her eyes drift up to the timer, where the new time says seventeen. Whatever had happened before the second motive had tacked on two extra days to make it nineteen. Maybe there is hope that someone is looking out for them and is going to save them soon.

Maybe.

Shifting her sights back onto Kyoko, Junko can't help but bite her bottom lip in thought.

What's going on with everyone?

Hell, even Monomi's acting weird since she hasn't shown up in a while. Junko hasn't seen her since before Hina's murder, and she's always seen the rabbit lingering at least somewhere on one of the islands.

Junko sighs. No, tensions are still high from the trial and execution. Emotions are real.

… But…

Emotions can be boring…

Chapter Text

Breathe in…

Breathe out…

Deep breaths. That's all a person needs in this situation.

Mukuro sits huddled inside of her cottage bathroom, clutching her stomach with one arm and leaning her forehead against the tank of the porcelain toilet. She flinches at the pain in her guts, and her anger rises.

Her eyes shift to the other room where her new hand is splayed out on the floor, mocking her for being weak.

Stupid… fucking…

A burst of liquid gurgles in her throat and climbs up quickly. Mukuro slaps her hand over her mouth and trembles, trying to keep the contents of her stomach down.

Unfortunately, luck decides to shit on her today. A sharp spike kicks her gut, making her eyes widen and her mouth drop open in a gasp. Vomit splashes out of her mouth and hits her hand, spewing out through the  gaps of her fingers and going into the toilet bowl and on the toilet seat.

Mukuro's body shakes as she hurls, unwillingly, the small breakfast she had out of her stomach.

With vomit dripping down her chin and hand, Mukuro growls in frustration. How dare she not be able to stop herself from throwing up? Is she that weak? Damn it!

She coughs suddenly, the pangs in her stomach shooting up to her chest and head. Her hand shakily moves down to clutch at her black shirt in order to steady her breathing, smearing vomit on her shirt in the meantime.

No…

No…

No…

No…

No…

This… This can't be…

Mukuro thinks back to the Middle East and one of the commanders. He had been a handsome man, full of charisma and one of--if not the --best person there physically.

On the battlefield, he had caught some random disease (maybe it was an experiment Fenrir was doing?) that affected him instantly. He had vomited and coughed and had pain in his body. Eventually, he withered away.

Is that what's happening to Mukuro? Oh, God, she doesn't want to go out like that! He looked so… so…

There's a knock on her door.

Startled, Mukuro snaps her head in the direction of the door. The continued knocking hurts her head and continues to piss her off.

She doesn't care about her appearance. No, this is her cottage. They're the one about to intrude on her time.

Mukuro stumbles to stand up, smearing her vomit against the walls and furniture where she steadies herself. Her feet guide her to the door where she opens it to reveal Sayaka.

Almost immediately, Sayaka's eyes widen at the sight. She must look like shit, the soldier snarls in her head.

"What," She skips all the pleasantries and jumps to the point.

"U-Um… It's almost midnight?" The idol phrases it as a question. Stupid girl.

Mukuro leans against her door frame and wipes her chin. "Yeah, I… I guess it is," She narrows her eyes. "So what?"

Sayaka blinks her large blue eyes, brows downturning in worry. "Are you OK?"

The rope that held her rage back snaps.

"Of course I'm a-fucking-OK! Don't ask for shit when I know you don't give a damn you fucking bitch!"

Sayaka takes a step back. "Mukuro, what's… Oh, God… Junko said--"

Mukuro scoffs. "Who gives a fuck what that bitch of a sister said!"

"Mukuro--"

"And stop looking at me like that! I'm not some little pet project that you can fucking lead on and fix like a fucking toy!" The soldier bangs her fist on the door behind her, not breaking it, fortunately. "Fucking shit!"

"Mukuro, I need you to calm down. Monokuma--"

"Monokuma this! Monokuma that!" Mukuro turns and enters her cottage again, leaving the door wide open. She fumbles and her hand slips as she works to put her hand back on her arm. "Who gives a fuck! Who cares who kills who! As long as the people I care about live, let everyone else die!

"And don't," She turns and glares at the wide-eyed idol, staring at the soldier in horror. "make this about you. You need me to calm down? Maybe I wanna fucking have some emotion and not be a compliant little bitch of a soldier I was before!"

Sayaka hardens her gaze, a scowl forming on her face. "You don't mean that,"

Mukuro shakes her head as she walks out of the cottage and closes the door behind her, standing nearly nose to nose with Sayaka. "Believe what you want. Now, out of my way,"

Sayaka refuses to budge.

"I said," Mukuro raises her voice slightly. "get out of my way!"

There's a brief moment of silence where somewhere deep inside of Mukuro regrets what she said to Sayaka, but the stubborn part of her keeps saying "She deserves it. You can be selfish. Everyone else is a traitor. You can feel angry."

The blue-haired girl steps back enough for Mukuro to step in front of her mailbox and dig through it. She pulls out a slip of black and red paper with golden letters written on it.

"Bring me an axe and a crowbar. Electric Avenue."

Mukuro nearly crushes her mailbox.

Celeste, that fucking bitch. How dare she. Holding her journal hostage just to plan something.

Maybe it's murder, her mind laughs. Should she continue letting her do this?

Maybe… Mukuro should kill Celeste…

Instead of rage, a strange lust for blood pumps through her veins. Should she?

No no no, killing is bad. But you've killed people before, her mind sneers. No, it was for a good cause. Good cause my ass, you were sadistic. You still are sadistic. You want to hurt people. You want to hurt Celeste. Just let her kill someone, no need to get your hands dirty. But she's an accomplice. But she's being blackmailed. Blackmailed? No, you can get that book whenever you want. You just want to kill someone again. It's been so long, hasn't it? Only a few weeks. Too long for a bloodthirsty dog like yourself.

Mukuro shakes her head. She slips the card into her pocket and wipes her still-wet hand on her pant leg.

"You know… I don't believe what you said. It doesn't seem like you," Sayaka speaks up for the first time in a few minutes. Her timbre is soft, face relaxed and inviting. "It's barely been a day since… what happened. You should rest some more before doing… whatever it is you're doing."

Mukuro feels her temper rise, but it's quickly snuffed out by Sayaka's next few sentences.

"But I guess I can't stop you. Just… make sure to be careful, and you can talk to me if you want," The idol steps forward and gently cups the soldier's face in her hands. Her thumbs smooth over the other's cheekbones, and she doesn't seem to care about the faint amount of vomit still dotting her chin and sticking to her breath.

Mukuro reluctantly relaxes into the idol's hold and grabs her wrists gingerly. She closes her eyes and sighs.

"'M sorry…" Mukuro's voice slurs.

"It's…" Sayaka shakes her head. "not really OK--what you said--but you don't really believe what you said, right?"

Mukuro slowly shakes her head. Bubbling anger twists her gut, but she refuses to say yes to something she didn't really believe in the first place.

Why did she say that in the first place?

Mukuro savors the cool of Sayaka's palms and is saddened when the coolness is pulled away. She opens her light purple eyes and pouts.

Sayaka tuts playfully. "I'll come check on you tomorrow, so make sure to get some rest,"

The idol hesitates when leaving, but she walks off.

Mukuro looks after her. Tears of irritation gather in the corners of her eyes.

She's so mean. Why is she mean? Did she hurt Sayaka's feelings? Fuck. Shit. Fucking shit. Damn it. She's such a bitch.

Bitch.

Bitch. Celeste. Right.

Mukuro makes her way to the second island to get to the hardware store. Her spine tingles. Her instincts blare.

In the middle of the pathway, Mukuro whips around and glares into the darkness. "Who's there?"

No one answers.

Uneasily, Mukuro takes a few minutes to walk to the hardware store and picks up an axe and a crowbar. She stuffs both items into a black duffle bag nearby to avoid suspicion if she's caught.

The pricking feeling of someone watching her angers her. She glances around the store subtly, making sure not to alert the stalker of her alertness.

She sees a half-covered face of bandages, two braids, and fumbling hands.

Toko.

Why isn't the writer just talking to her? The uncomfortable silence grates against her nerves.

"Will you just speak instead of standing there?"

Tolo jolts from the corner of her eye. She wrings her hands together and shuffles into the soldier's vision.

"Why do you have those?"

"None of your fucking business,"

The writer flinches from shock. "No need to be such a jerk… but it's not like I don't deserve it…"

Mukuro narrows her eyes. "So why are you up so late? And following me, might I add,"

"I heard you and that off-key singer fighting. I'd be surprised if no one heard it at all," Toko sighs. "I followed you here and saw you get that axe and crowbar and put it in that bag. I don't really care why."

That's it? Toko isn't the least bit suspicious of her for hiding two potential weapons in a bag in the dead of night?

"Honestly," Toko chuckles and presses her hand to her forehead. "I deserve to be the next person to die. I just drag everyone down. I'm not useful in trials, everyone hates me, and I can barely even see."

The writer takes off her new pair of dented glasses, thumbing her thumb through the empty hole in the lense. She chuckles, but a smile doesn't build on her face.

"Hey, Mukuro…" The soldier sucks in a sharp breath when Toko glances up with a small, resigned smile. "If I'm ever begging for death… can you make sure it's quick? Even if it isn't you killing me."

Her throat is dry. Toko is asking her to kill her if she's desperate enough to die. Why… Why doesn't she want to live? She has this second chance, but her thoughts and losses and depression is sinking her low.

"Yeah… Yeah, I'll make sure it's quick," Mukuro replies.

Toko chokes on a stiff sob. "I'm sorry I can't be stronger like you. You recovered so quickly, and I… I… I-I'm still just disappointing Toko Fukawa,"

She leaves the hardware store in a hurry, not bothering to wait for Mukuro's response to her sudden talk of being strong.

Mukuro grips the handles of the duffle bag tightly, but her anger dissolves rather quickly. She… She is strong? Both Toko and Chihiro said she is, but Sakura is saying otherwise.

Who does she believe?

Exiting the building, Mukuro slowly leaves the second island and walks around to the third island. She picks up her pace as soon as the third island's rain sprinkles against her skin and clothes.

Mukuro enters the alleyway--which is apparently called Electric Avenue--and sets down the duffle bag on the floor. She spots Celeste walking towards her.

"Ah, you brought the items?"

"Don't act like that; you know I hate that facade you always have," The soldier spits.

Celeste's face drops to one of disgust. She sneers and twirls her hair. "It's not in your best interest to talk back to me, Mukuro, but I suppose I will deal with it later,"

"I got the wooden planks from earlier, the nails, the axe, the crowbar, and the surplus of water bottles," Mukuro throws up her hands before slapping them down at her sides. She glares. "What's next, a gun? Because I refuse to get that for you."

"Don't be so dramatic," The gambler rolls her crimson eyes. "Leave the bag here, and I'll take it to where it needs to be. You aren't needed right now."

Mukuro stays put, glaring harder at the girl. Celeste glares back.

"Fine, I'll go," The soldier stiffly says. She turns and stomps away with her teeth grit and her eyes burning holes into the ground.

She begins to mock the gambler while she walks around the third island. She enters the police station while jeering.

"Oh, I'm Celestia Ludenberg. I'm perfect! So much better than all of you F-Ranks," Mukuro folds her hands under her chin and smiles. "I got into an elite school by illegally gambling! Don't talk to me if I don't talk to you first!"

"That was a great performance!"

Mukuro turns to the first of the cells where Monomi sits with two destroyed versions of herself. She's trembling with her paws clutching her heart, tears in her eyes.

"Oh, as your teacher, I recommend you get into theatre! You did such a good job portraying Celeste!" She wipes a tear from her eye before it falls and drips on her fur. "You're growing so much…"

Mukuro stares at Monomi in disbelief. Wasn't she being all rude and dismissive suddenly just a few hours ago? And now she's back to normal?

That's… annoying and really inconsistent, she snarks in her head.

"What the hell are you doing here?" She manages to get out.

Monomi tilts her head. "Huh? I… I don't know…" She cries out. "Waaah! What if I lost my memory and track of time and the watch is off by an hour! Oh, no! The students!"

"Well, well, well," Monokuma appears wearing a police uniform. He slaps a baton against his paw before pointing it at the bars and slapping them. "If it isn't my little sister! You've been off the radar, one might say. Did you look to those pesky Future Foundation snobs for help? Ah-hahahaha! You really think they can help?!"

Mukuro furrows her brows. "Future… Foundation?"

The bear throws an arm behind his head. "Well, yeah! They, along with Monomi, are responsible for all of your memories being gone!"

A spike of anger fogs her mind. This is the second time Monokuma mentioned Monomi taking their memories, but never with the name Future Foundation leering over the rabbit. If he's said it twice now… but…

"Are… you also a part of the Future Foundation?" Mukuro asks.

The monochromatic bear giggles and chortles and guwaffs and snorts. He swirls the baton in his paw.

"Maybe I am, maybe I'm not. Who knows? Maybe I used to be in a previous life!" He sighs and shakes his head. "But I guess we'll never know… until the prequel sequel of course! And the ending here!"

Mukuro has no idea what he's talking about. What prequel sequel?

"Anyways--Monomi! You've been such a bad little sister lately!" Monokuma opens the cell without the keys--Mukuro gapes at the sight--and points his baton at the rabbit. "You deserve a spanking! I'll spank ya until you cry and I sweat!"

Monomi wails as she's dragged out of the police station. "No! I don't want your body fluids all over my innocent body, big brother!"

The door closes.

Mukuro pinches the bridge of her nose with an exasperated sigh. Her light purple eyes drift upwards to the open cell, and her interest piques.

Her feet carry her over to the open cell door, and her hands touch over the metal. Unfortunately, after a few minutes of searching, she finds nothing out of place.

Maybe what happened was just Monokuma's… magic goodness that's inside of him.

… Ew. Mukuro decides to never phrase it like that again.

The screen in her pocket beeps, and Mukuro fights to keep her rage down. Five minutes. Just five minutes without any chaos interrupting her life.

She looks at the screen, thinking the call would be to Celeste in Electric Avenue a few minutes away. Instead, she's being called from the first island at the farm. It's a minor emergency--better make it quick.

Mukuro jogs off to the first island and to the Usami Corral where she's struck with the sight of…

Junko and Makoto?

The soldier watches as Makoto tries to wrestle his head out of a dented bucket while Junko laughs. The latter is helping, but not that much.

"Uh," She starts forward once again, gesturing to the struggling boy with his head in a bucket. "What's… going on here?"

Junko smirks. "Clover here got his head stuck in a bucket. It was pretty funny to watch,"

At last, Makoto pops his head free from the metal bucket, tripping on his suddenly untied shoelaces and stumbling back into the wooden fence. Fortunately for him, he was able to trip out of the way in time, for a random piece of tree trunk pierced into the ground where Makoto once stood.

Junko whistles lowly. "That is quite the luck you got there, Lucky Charms,"

"Thank you… Junko…" Makoto rasps. He sits himself up, his brown hair disheveled and the ahoge on his head standing on point.

Mukuro's heart beats fast, but, for once, not in rage. Her heart beats in love. He's so… so…

"So, yeah, I need your help, Muku," Junko throws her arm over Mukuro's shoulders and ruffles her black hair with her knuckles. Mukuro huffs. "Don't give me that attitude. Now, I need you to do a little… undercover work for me."

Mukuro feels dread kneading her stomach. "U-Undercover work?"

The fashionista looks over at Makoto to make sure he isn't listening before whispering to her sister. "I think Celeste is planning something. Not too sure what it is yet, but that's why I need a spy on the inside. That's right! You are the lucky and only candidate!"

Mukuro wonders if Junko actually knows what Celeste is planning (which she doesn't even know) and is pushing her to find the truth.

Besides… Mukuro is already kind of a spy since Celeste calls for her and is, oh, yeah, blackmailing her.

"You don't have to do it, I guess," Junko pulls away and kicks at the ground. Her face tilts up and shows The Face.

Mukuro narrows her eyes. "No. No, not The Face,"

Junko deepens her pout, eyes growing larger and larger. There's a twinkle in her irises. "Pleeease?"

"Junko, no,"

"Please?"

"Junko…"

"Pretty please?"

"Hey, no pretty please! I refuse--"

"Pretty please with a home-cooked dinner prepared by moi on top?"

Mukuro's mouth waters. "Deal,"

Junko straightens out her face and sneers. "Can't believe you keep falling for that. Makes you seem like a soft soldier,"

"I may be 'soft', as you put it, but I am the oldest,"

"What--Oh, come on! You can't keep using that excuse every time you wanna win something!"

"Mmm… I can, and I will,"

"At least I'm taller!"

"You're wearing those ridiculous boot-heel things. We're the same height ,"

"Details, details…"

Mukuro and Junko walk off, poking fun at each other and leaving Makoto by himself. He watches them leave with a smile that turns into a shocked yelp when the bucket previously on his head started floating into the sky. It flickers out of existence.

Mukuro rolls her eyes as Junko sings off-key on purpose to a song Mukuro likes. She counters by talking like Junko.

"Hey, what the hell do you think you're doing? Step off, bitch!"

Junko jolts at the sound of her own voice but glares at Mukuro as the latter cackles. The soldier scratches at the collar of her shirt she's self-conscious of wearing now because of the vomit still stuck to the collar.

"God, you're absolutely ridiculous. So, anyway, I have a sneaking suspicion, Scoob, that Celeste is planning something nefarious," Junko crosses her arms. "Something downright awful!"

Junko's voice starts to grate on Mukuro's nerves all of a sudden. She's so… so…

"And if you can get on her good side to be, like, a B-Rank or something, we're golden!"

A cold rush of air brushes on the soldier's face and rushes down the length of her spine. She stops and shivers in place, head becoming foggy and ears ringing.

Her left hand is in pain. She's in pain. Why? She should be fine now. She's stronger. She's getting stronger. Everything is going to be OK. Just stop. Fucking. Shaking.

"Hey, Muku, stop shivering! Are you sick?" Junko sticks her palm to Mukuro's forehead and sticks out her tongue in thought. "You kinda feel warm… What, is the stress getting to you? Maybe you should lie down… It is nearly midnight, after all."

Annoyed, Mukuro smacks her sister's hand away from her face and takes a step back. "Don't fucking touch me,"

Junko groans. "This again? What's wrong so I can fix you? You're worrying me!"

"I'm already gonna spy on Celeste for you! I don't need you to worry about me because I'm fine!" The soldier ignores the weakness of her legs, specifically her knees. She pokes her finger onto Junko's nose and pushes her back. "Get the hell away from me before I… I…"

"Before you what? I'm tryna take care of you!"

"I don't need you to do that! You aren't supposed to take care of me! I'm the oldest! I'm strong!" Mukuro grips her shirt tighter and tighter. "I'm… strong. Yes, yes, yes… I'm strong. I am stronger than ever!"

Junko furrows her brows. "This isn't about strength, it's about health,"

She doesn't understand. Of course she doesn't, the greeting voice in her head hisses. She's trying to make you soft. You are strong. Strong? Yes, she's strong. Strong strong strong strong strong… She can help everyone no matter how bad it hurts her hand… no hand… hand hand hand… no no no no no no… It's not about health, health isn't important right now. Being strong and helpful is.

What does she know? She's just… just…!

Hands grab onto Mukuro's trembling shoulders and jostle her around. Mukuro, startled and confused, looks around with heavy gasps for air. Her hands are gripping the column of her throat tightly, so she releases her hands to breathe.

"Muku… what's going on?" Junko asks. Her eyes are wide and concerned.

Mukuro doesn't focus on her. No, her focus is solely on the strange figure standing behind Junko.

Who the hell is that?

They are… smaller than her, by the looks of it, with a frail build. Have they never lifted anything heavy before? Besides a wide grin on their face, the person has eyes swirling with… with something Mukuro cannot describe. Dark bags sit under their eyes. The person smirks.

Junko shakes her again. Mukuro swallows thickly. She wipes the back of her hand against her sweaty forehead, trying to come to terms with what she's seeing.

"Junko, the… the--There's someone behind you!" Mukuro scratches at her neck and pulls away from Junko's grip. "Weird weird weird! W-We don't… kn-know… Never seen… Please…"

Junko turns around slightly to look over her shoulder at the space behind her. She stares for a long moment, and the person grins maniacally back at Mukuro.

"S-See! Th-They're… uh, nnn, they're smiling! A-And--And we haven't seen them before!"

Junko slowly turns her head and stares at her, and Mukuro knows that everything is going to be OK. She caught the mastermind! Nobody else has to die! She did it! Nobody… No more friends have to die… No more death… No more familiar death…

Mukuro wheezes out a loud laugh before her knees, wobbling, send her kneeling to the ground. She points at the person and cackles.

"I caught you! I caught you! I-I caught… Haha! You! It's over! W-We did it! I kept you alive, Junko!" Mukuro shuffles forward and leans her head against her sister's legs with a grateful sob. She wipes her tears on the fashionista’s thighs. "You're alive… I-I kept you… safe…"

She feels Junko's hand carding through her hair, and she sinks into the touch.

"Muku… I do…t see anything,"

Mukuro nods her head. Junko said her sentence all weird, but it's fine. Junko sees the mastermind! She did it… She did… it…

"Thank you… Thank you thank you thank you thank you," She hugs Junko's legs tight. A bubble of laughter escapes her. "Thank you for believing me!"

"But… Muku…" Junko struggles to kneel down, but she manages. "I d…t believe you."

Mukuro throws her trembling arms around Junko's shoulders and continues to laugh, choking on her words. "I-I have to capture them! They… They won't get away with this!"

Junko bites her bottom lip. She rubs circles on Mukuro's back. "Let's… go… right now,"

"Good idea! I can beat their ass for putting us here!" Mukuro's rage fires up. She removes herself from Junko's embrace and looks up to see the mastermind gone. "What… Where the hell did they go?!"

She marches forward, whipping her body around to see where the mastermind went. Irritation takes a hold of her brain.

Junko gets up and starts talking to her, but it's all mumbled and static. No, Junko can't get in the way! She'll get hurt! Mukuro will protect her; she's strong. She saw the mastermind! She can do it!

"Come back you sonuva bitch!" Black overtakes her vision, and Mukuro runs off with anger gripping her heart and driving her mind.

She doesn't even hear Junko yelling for her.

Chapter Text

Her feet stomp hard against the ground.

Where the hell are they? Where's the mastermind?

How could they just… just disappear from Mukuro's gaze like that? She should've paid more attention and not have been distracted by Junko; she just got caught up in her heightened emotions.

Junko… She'll keep her safe. Once she beats the shit out of that fucking mastermind, everyone can leave the island. It'll be perfect.

Mukuro comes to an unsteady stop halfway around the first island, hands on her knees and panting. She growls in frustration, and her breathing turns choppy.

"Aw, are you outta breath?" Monokuma appears from nowhere, throwing his arm behind his head and smirking. "Running around like that will do that to your lungs. You gotta be careful, I wouldn't want you to accidentally kill yourself by exhaustion! That'd be a boooring trial!"

Mukuro snaps her head up and grabs the bear by his thick neck; she raises him in the air and shakes him around. "Where the fuck are you hiding? Tell me!"

Monokuma flails his limbs in panic. "Wah! No attacking--"

"No attacking the headmaster--Who gives a fuck?" The soldier now grasps Monokuma with both hands. She narrows her eyes. " Where are you?"

"I'm right here, can't you see? Oh, do I have my camouflage coat on…?"

"Stop fucking around! Your… person! The one behind the bear, where are you?!"

Monokuma pouts. "There is no one behind me! I am my own bearson! Now, let me go, and I'll let you off with a written warning!"

Mukuro glares into Monokuma's eyes, one beady and the other glowing a dangerous red. With a grunt of contempt, the soldier haphazardly drops the bear to the ground and turns away.

The monochromatic bear rubs at his neck and huffs. "Why the hell are you even awake? All of you bastards are awake and it's one at night!" He throws his arms up angrily. "Go the eff to sleep!"

Mukuro glares at Monokuma and runs off around the island once more. She looks around the dim pathway for a clue or anyone who could have seen the mastermind.

She's so focused, she doesn't hear the beep from her communicator.

Light purple eyes dart to the left then to the right. Her breath hitches when she sees Chihiro skipping happily along the path in front of her. Jogging up to her, Mukuro rounds in front of the programmer and grips the small girl's shoulders.

"Have you seen them?"

Chihiro giggles and smiles, her cheeks flushed a bright red. "Seen who?"

Mukuro's lip curls. "The fucking mastermind! You're out here! You wouldn't be the only one who saw them!"

"You… You saw the mastermind?" Chihiro's mouth spreads into a wider smile, and her eyes crinkle as she closes them. She claps her hands together and bounces in place. "Oh, you should introduce me to them! I bet they can help me get even stronger with yours and Sakura's help!"

Something hot and angry replaces the brief shocking cold in her chest. Mukuro moves her hands to the front of Chihiro's cardigan, grabbing it and hoisting the girl into the air threateningly.

The programmer laughs as she lolls her head back and dangles in the soldier's firm grasp.

"Why the hell are you laughing, Chihiro?! The mastermind is forcing us to fucking kill each other!" Mukuro yells at the cackling girl in her hands. "Answer me!"

"So strong… I can be so strong if I kill someone,"

Mukuro throws the programmer down onto the hard ground and climbs on top of her. She wraps her hands around Chihiro's throat and squeezes tightly, a sick part of her satisfied at the pained expression laced with amusement.

This is it. She can kill her. She can do it. She deserves it. Chihiro is practically saying she'll kill someone. Mukuro is just… just acting in self-defense. Right?

It'll be OK. Monokuma--the mastermind--won't punish her for doing this. She'll be a good soldier.

Who cares if those kids nearly got their heads blown off? She had completed her mission. The long blade nearly cutting her throat had been a warning, but she had her orders.

Orders.

Orders.

Orders.

Kill.

Kill.

Kill.

Kill.

"Murder!"

Mukuro startles and jumps back off of Chihiro. The girl gasps loudly and coughs, scratching at her throat as she laughs hoarsely. Mukuro ignores the girl and levels her irked eyes up.

Hiro is pointing at them with tears in his eyes, screaming bloody murder and barely supporting himself with one crutch under his arm. He waves the crutch as a weapon.

"Get back! I won't tell anyone; I swear, it'll be between us! Just don't kill me!" Hiro turns and hobbles away back in the direction he came from.

Mukuro stares wide-eyed at the retreating Hiro before turning her hate back to the laughing girl in front of her. She grinds her teeth. Damn it. There went her chance.

Her… chance?

Confused, Mukuro looks around in a daze and rubs her temples. Where the hell is she? Her lack of knowledge makes her temper rise and her hands tremble.

"That was awesome! Thank… you!" Chihiro wheezes out. She writhes on the ground. "Forget killing someone else! I should be killed myself! It'd make me so… happy! Hehehe!"

Mukuro rises to her feet and glares down at the programmer. She lifts her foot and slams it down on the girl's side. At the pained groan and the sound of a snap, the soldier leaves, satisfied.

Her communicator beeps again, and Mukuro holds it up to look at.

Who the hell is on the third island requesting her help? Bitterly, Mukuro scoffs and stomps to the second island. With her luck, it would be Celeste calling for her with some bullshit like "Oh, I need some milk tea". Stupid.

Out of spite, the soldier ignores the communicator and leaves it to beep on her chest. She has shit to do. She can't afford to be distracted right now.

The mastermind. She has to find them and get the rest of the students off of the island.

It's one in the morning, that's what Monokuma said. It's been a full day since what happened at the second trial…

Hina's strung up body. Byakuya's body sliced into fine pieces by his robot siblings. Syo's look of pain as her eye was sliced vertically. Mukuro's hand…

If she had been quicker to leave the maze, could she have prevented Hina's death?

She's on the second island now. When did she get here? Mukuro shakes her head and starts her jog around the island to search for the mastermind.

She sees Sakura in front of the library, staring at the doors intensely. Mukuro slows to a stop and watches her with a tilted head, curious.

Sakura tenses and folds her arms tighter against her chest. "I can feel you staring at me,"

Mukuro blinks as the martial artist turns around solemnly. Her silver eyes lighten up at the sight of the soldier in front of her, and she nods her head in greeting.

"Mukuro. Have you been looking for me?" She asks.

The small smile on her face… it… it…

It disgusts her.

Mukuro sneers and backs up a half step, making Sakura pause.

"Are you alright?"

"Of course I'm alright! Don't talk to me like I'm a fucking child, Sakura!" Mukuro snaps.

Sakura narrows her eyes and shifts her weight, dropping her arms to her sides. "Calm down, I didn't mean to talk to you like that. Do you need some exercise to work out your anger?"

Anger this and anger that! She's not even mad! She's in top shape, stronger than ever, and ready to kill the mastermind.

"I'm not angry," Mukuro tries to say as calmly as possible, but there is a trace of irritation in her tone as she speaks.

"... Of course. I just want to make sure you won't do anything rash," The white-haired girl says.

"I'm already doing your shitty exercise thing today to get stronger! I don't need you to keep poking into my life!"

Something sparks in Mukuro's brain. She looks over Sakura before thinking back to when Hina was alive. Slowly, a wicked grin spreads along her face as she starts to laugh.

"Oh, is that what this is about? You couldn't keep Hina from her own anger, so you're trying to keep me alive!" Mukuro runs her hands over her face as she cackles into the palms of her hands. This is just… priceless! "You feel bad for me! You wanna clear that guilty conscience in you, so you're making me a charity case! Chihiro too!"

Sakura flinches. "I am not doing that to you two; I would never--"

"God, that's hilarious!" Mukuro holds onto her stomach now, laughing and tearing up at the eyes. Tears start to stream down her face. "Fuck you!"

"Mukuro--"

"Fuck you!" Mukuro begins to leave with a chuckle.

Mukuro felt faint. Her breathing catches and chokes her, her hands shooting up to her throat not helping. A rush of thick liquid bubbles and spills out from her mouth, splattering on the ground.

Sakura enters her hazy vision, worried and talking to her. Is she talking? Her mouth is moving, but Mukuro doesn't hear anything.

She shoves her hands out and pushes the martial artist away, paling when her light purple eyes see red handprints smeared on Sakura's white shirt. Mukuro backs away in a panic and she trips over her feet. Her eyes glue to her hands with a thin layer of blood coating the palms.

"I need to go…!" Mukuro chokes out. She wobbles on her feet as she leaves Sakura in front of the library, her right hand cupped over her mouth.

What the hell is this? Why is Mukuro vomiting blood?

Her communicator rings. She ignores it.

She finishes checking the second island with a wobble in her steps, hoping she wouldn't fall over. She's in no condition to fight and capture the mastermind…

No… No, she can do it. She has to. Mukuro silently slips into her head, compartmentalizing and dissociating her body and brain.

Her body takes her to the third island where her eyes slither across to the police station. Her body busts into the building and searches, but her mind knows nothing of importance is found as her body exits the building.

Her mind watches as her body skips over Electric Avenue and searches inside of Titty Typhoon along with the motel. Her body finally enters the casino.

Her brain snaps back into action, her autopilot off, when she sees Monokuma standing at a gambling table innocently. Her eyes narrow, but she walks towards the bear. What the hell is he doing?

The monochromatic bear perks up when he sees her and grins. He shuffles a deck of cards and deals four of them out, two facing down and the others facing up. Mukuro sees that two cards are placed in front of her and the other is in front of Monokuma.

"Wanna play a game, Mukuro?" The bear asks ominously. He pauses and stares at her. "Did you just eat something? Like… a body for example?! Cannibal!"

Mukuro stares deadpan at the bear until he quiets down with a vocal frown. If only he could show emotion other than that damn grin.

"Geez, you teenagers are hard to please! Tell a good joke, they don't laugh. Tell a dark joke, they don't laugh! Tell a mildly offensive joke, they. Don't. Laugh!" He snarls and shows his claws. "Hey, aren't Gen-Z the ones who ate Tide Pods and thought it was funny?!"

"The… cleaning stuff?" Mukuro blinks.

Monokuma gasps. "She speaks!"

"Of course I--"

"Since none of you are going to sleep, wanna play a game? Just don't stain the cards, or it'll be karma on the next few games you play!"

… Is that a superstition, or is it just… Monokuma?

Instead of agreeing, Mukuro raises a brow. "What happens if I win?"

"If you win, I'll tell you the man behind the slaughter!" The bear giggles into his palm. "But but but! If I win, you get to play aaall seven of those slot machines! My favorite is the gray one!"

She can know who the mastermind is? That's a deal she can take! Yet, in the back of her mind, she knows Monokuma will find a way to cheat the system or antagonize her. With a cocky smirk, Mukuro sits on the chair in front of the cards and wipes her mouth with her forearm.

She's touched worse.

"OK… What are we playing?"

"Blackjack!" He taps the table with his paw. "Two through ten are those very numbers, and the kings, queens, and jacks are all eleven points! Aces are one point."

Mukuro nods absentmindedly at the bear while her eyes fix onto the top card. Four of spades. She lifts her other card to see a five of diamonds. Nine out of twenty-one… not bad.

Monokuma giggles when he sees his card, and Mukuro feels trepidation strike through her chest like a bullet. Monomuma can't have gotten a good pair of cards when his up-facing card is an Ace of clubs. He slumps in his seat and sends the soldier a brief wink.

"You wanna take another card? You might need it," He says.

Mukuro steels her gaze and taps the table with her hand. The monochromatic bear giggles and throws another card out to her. The soldier lifts the new card--two of spades. Damn it, eleven points when she needs to get even closer to twenty-one.

Monokuma gives himself another card and giggles.

Mukuro's heart stutters. She frantically taps the table until Monokuma hands her another card.

Two of hearts… Thirteen points… Fuck!

"I'm done! Not drawing any cards!"

He can't have gotten to twenty-one! No! She needs to win!

She slaps the table. "Hit me,"

Two of clubs. Fifteen.

"Hit me!"

Ace of diamonds. Sixteen.

"Hit. Me,"

Six of clubs. Twenty-two.

Mukuro freezes and nearly drops her cards. A slow, trembling exhale leaves her parted lips. She… lost?

Monokuma tilts his head. "Hmmm? Did you get to twenty-one?"

The soldier flips over her cards and sits shock-still as Monokuma laughs. He cackles while flipping his cards over to reveal three Aces. He only got three points…

"Looks like luck ain't on your side today, Mukuro! You stained the cards, by the way!"

Mukuro grips her hands into fists.

"Alrighty then! Let's go play the slot machines!" Monokuma jumps out of his seat and prances over to the seven machines. Mukuro is slow to follow, but she manages to walk behind the bear.

The monochromatic bear leans against the yellow machine and taps it with his paw. "How 'bout another bet? If you can win all seven of these things on the first try, I'll let you see it's machinery! If you lose, well, I'll still let'cha see the machinery… At a price, of course…"

Slot machines, games about pure luck, that Mukuro is supposed to win on the first try? That's impossible!

She narrows her eyes and takes a step back. "Negative. I refuse to take part in an impossible gamble for something that doesn't matter,"

"Fiiine… You'll regret it, though!"

She seriously doubts that.

Enough internal monologuing for plot-specific purposes. Mukuro steps up to the yellow machine and pulls the lever, but instead of the slots spinning around, the lights in the casino shut down.

Mukuro whips around and lifts her fists in a defensive manner. Monokuma screeches. Something attaches to the soldier's leg, but she realizes as she's raising her fist that it's Monokuma being dramatic. She sighs and lowers her hands.

"What's happening?" She inquires rather calmly.

Monokuma giggles nervously. "W-Well… It's a power outage! The third island's power is being used waaay waaay waaay waaay waaay--"

"OK, I get it!" Mukuro snaps. "What else caused the power outage, then, besides the slot machine?"

"Weeell, it depends. Beautiful, if you really wanna know, I'll leave then come right back!"

Mukuro doesn't even get to say anything before the weight of Monokuma is gone from her leg. She sighs.

The lights flicker back on and Monokuma pops back into existence. The soldier stares down at the bear while he stands proudly with his paws on his round belly.

"Alright, talk--what happened? And no bullshit answers,"

"Gasp! Mukuro, do you kiss your mother with that mouth?!"

Mukuro glares. "My mother abandoned Junko and I on the side of the road,"

The bear sweats.

"Classic anime protagonist, right?"

"What happened,"

Monokuma sighs and looks down in disappointment. "None of you get my references… Except Hifumi, but, well, he's weird…"

"What. Happened,"

The bear throws up his arms. "Check it out yourself! In Electric Avenue! It's too complicated to explain, but you better come back and play the slot machines!"

She doesn't have time for that, but if it'll get her closer to the mastermind, she'll do it. Mukuro stomps out of the casino and jogs to Electric Avenue, eyes widening when she sees billowing smoke rising in the sprinkling rain.

All of her anger abandoned, Mukuro rushes into the area and waves her arms to clear the smoke. The fumes permeate the air and invade her senses.

Oh, God… It smells just like gunpowder

Mondo's body hits the floor. Blood leaks from his head.

It… infuriates her. Mukuro swiftly walks towards the cause of the smoke, and she comes to a stop in bemusement.

Celeste, Hifumi, and Chihiro are arguing. Well, it's more like Celeste is yelling curses and insults, Hifumi is screeching how much he's sorry, and Chihiro is laughing while clutching her ribs.

"You morons! You aren't supposed to be blowing up this equipment!"

"M-Ms. Ludenberg! I'm so sorry!"

"It should've killed me! Hahaha!"

"Why the hell are you suicidal all of a sudden?!"

Chihiro glances to the side where Mukuro is standing idly, a furrow in her brow. She claps her hands and giggles.

"Mukuro! Thank you for showing me how weak I am! Hopefully when I'm killed, I'll get stronger in the afterlife!"

The gambler seems to freeze when she hears Mukuro's name. She eerily turns to face the soldier with her wide red eyes filled with rage. Mukuro glares at her.

Shit.

"I have been trying to call you here forever! And now you want to show up?! I'll burn you alive!" She growls.

The soldier rolls her eyes. "Yeah, well, I was busy,"

"Looking for the mastermind? Don't look so surprised, Chihiro already told me!" Celeste walks forward, poised and perfect, but her eyes glare into Mukuro's soul. She jabs her finger into the soldier's chest. "You just made a dangerous enemy, Mukuro."

She walks past Mukuro, hitting their shoulders together, and leaving Electric Avenue.

Hifumi wrings his hands together. "Ms. Ikusaba, are you alright? You look a bit angry…"

"Yes, Hifumi, I'm fine,"

"Geh-hehe… Then, perhaps, would you allow me to take you out on a romantic walk?!" He lowers his voice a few octaves and pushes his glasses up.

Mukuro stares at the fanfic creator and nods. "Affirmative,"

Chihiro giggles and tilts her head. "You guys go on ahead! I made it here without any help!"

The soldier glares at the programmer and follows Hifumi out of Electric Avenue. The overweight male is marching triumphantly towards the police station and holds the door open. Mukuro nodes her head and goes inside.

The door closes behind Hifumi.

"Ah, so the protagonist and her heroic partner meet again! It has been a long time since we last spoke together…" Hifumi blushes. "Alone like this."

Mukuro cups her chin. "I… suppose it has. Did you want to talk to me earlier?"

"In fact, I did!"

She nods. "So… Why the police station?"

"Well, the music venue gave me the creeps! It feels like someone died there in a different universe!"

Why… would he feel the need to say something like that? Mukuro sweatdrops.

Hifumi pumps his fist in the air with a bright smile. "But worry not, for I, Hifumi the Great, relocated us to the police station!"

Mukuro blinks. "OK,"

"And if you want to use those handcuffs on me…" He blushes and bites his meaty fingers. "I wouldn't be opposed."

Why exactly would she do that? Mukuro doesn't like Hifumi like that. His thoughts are just… weird.

Despite his strange thoughts, Mukuro enjoys Hifumi's company. The others don't seem to like him very much…

It's the sexual innuendos he sometimes makes. Yep.

"Unfortunately for you, I wouldn't ever do that to you… Ever," Mukuro narrows her gaze and glares at the male. She perks up and smiles tightly, oblivious to the sheer look of horror on Hifumi's face. "Now, I have a serious question."

"Y-Yes, Ms. Ikusaba?"

"What exactly is… fanfic? It's been a few years since I have been on the internet, and I am still unable to form the connection I once had," She grimaces when she goes to cup her chin and sees drying blood on her forearm.

Hifumi's face turns blank. "You… have absolutely no idea what fanfiction is?"

"No,"

For a long, long moment, Hifumi blankly stares directly into Mukuro's eyes. It unnerves Mukuro. Slowly, a smile drags along his face until he is beaming with excitement.

"Oh, this is so exciting! I have a pupil to pass along my teaching to, and she is very willing to accept my humble offering of knowledge!"

"Ah, I-I just wanted to know what it is, not--"

Hifumi's eyes, previously closed from joy, snaps open. His black eyes stare menacingly into her own light purple eyes. The soldier feels a line of sweat form on her brow.

"Oh, right! Learning 'fanfiction' with Hifumi!" Mukuro taps on her wrist to signify time and grins nervously. "I can fit that in my schedule. At approximately ten in the morning, yes?"

Hifumi nods, and that ominously dark aura that surrounds him vanishes. "Perfection! We can have a small, mini-lesson right now!"

Mukuro listens intently as Hifumu speaks of "tropes" and "canon" and "fanon". He goes on and on about the loopholes of fanfiction and the endless possibilities one can do. For instance, "AUs" or "Alternate Universe" or these things called "Canon Divergence".

She has no idea how long they've been speaking, for she's been enraptured in the simplicity or complex nature fanfiction can be. It's so different, and she's upset she never knew before!

"Time for a pop quiz! Get it wrong and we'll have to…" The obese boy pushes his glasses up with a smirk. "have a teacher-student spanking session."

What the fuck.

"Ms. Ikusaba! What is it called when a fanfic is tagged with fluff?!"

Oh, God, that's a lot of pressure off the bat. Shit, she can do this.

Mukuro cups her chin and bites her lip. "W-Well… Fluff is when the story is… cute? I think that's the very way to describe it…"

"Elaborate,"

"Like, when the characters… Ah, ahem," She clears her throat awkwardly when Hifumi raises a brow. "When the 'OTP' are doing 'relationship goals' things that make the reader… squeeze their heart from love?"

"Such as?!" Hifumi points at her with an intense look on his face, shadows over his eyes. "Speak up, pupil!"

Mukuro glares and clenches her fists. She practically roars the answer. "Kissing, cuddling, and fluff!"

"Perfect!" Hifumu pumps his fist in the air with a triumphant shout. He roars, throwing his head back in the process. "Now we will be unstoppable! The power is flowing through our veins!"

"Affirmative!" Mukuro pounds her fist into her hand.

"Grah!"

"Hyah!"

"Anime!"

"Fanfic!"

What is she doing? Mukuro has no idea, but the yelling is entertaining. At least her anger is gone again. She doesn't like that slimy feeling beneath her skin…

Her e-Handbook chimes.

This was fun. She even forgot about her impromptu search for the mastermind, as well.

Hifumi hums. "Allow me to walk you back to you cottage, m'lady,"

OK, now he's pushing it. She can walk perfectly fine by herself, damn it.

But… some company will be appreciated. She can play the slot machines sometime later when there won't be a risk for a power outage.

"Sure, Hifumi, sure," Mukuro chuckles and walks out of the police station with Hifumi following quickly. He grips his backpack and glares at the gray sky full of clouds, yet only drizzling rain continues to fall. "Something wrong?"

"Don't you feel it, Ms. Ikusaba? The oppressive weight on your shoulders as we near another possible tragedy?" The male sighs. "If only my weather gauntlets were at full power, then we wouldn't be wet!

"Unless, of course, you like being wet?"

Mukuro deadpans at the fanfic creator until he squirms. She sighs and rolls her eyes. She hates that she likes his sexual innuendos and jokes for whatever reason. Maybe because her colleagues in the Middle East always made jokes like that.

As Hifumi and Mukuro step onto the first island and walk around to go to the hotel, they pause. Hifumi makes a strangled noise in the back of his throat while Mukuro's brows furrow and she scowls.

They had stopped in front of the beach where Sayaka wanted her to do something. Everyone was there apart from Chihiro, Sakura, Hiro, and Toko, and they were all now staring at them in disbelief.

Actually, Junko and Makoto looks neutrally on as many people gape their mouths open.

Mukuro turns her gaze to Celeste, who is standing innocently with a threatening smile. Her red eyes light up. Almost immediately, her face screws up and she fake-sobs.

"There they are! They tried to… to…"

Mukuro is so confused. Celeste doesn't have her journal she's blackmailing her with, so the soldier has no idea what's about to happen.

"Kill both me and Chihiro!"

Oh…

Oh.

Oh.

Well, she's… half right?

Chapter Text

An hour earlier...

Junko didn't want to show up to this shitty beach at three in the morning. She's tired and regretting not sleeping after Byakuya's very brutal execution.

Actually, anyone could've stalled on sleep after that. That's called "trauma". Fun, right?

Not so surprisingly, everyone is pretty much awake.

Taka's execution was brutal. The robot ripped his fucking flesh off of his back and didn't stop until he had long bled out. Byakuya's execution was twice as brutal. Granted, they didn't see much of the actual chopping, but hearing the heir scream while the sounds of his body being sliced and diced were horrific.

Junko doesn't want to hear it again.

And she's… slightly scared now. For both herself and Mukuro. Mukuro, who has been acting weirder than normal ever since she woke up. She has this flush to her face and she's been scowling hard-core, irrational and hallucinating.

She bites her lip as she thinks back to how Mukuro reacted when she saw the "mastermind".

This killing game must be messing with her head… That doesn't make any sense. If this is getting to her, then why didn't she break down after a week and a half in combat?

A deep, comforting presence presses on her brain, causing Junko to close her eyes. She sighs. Chieko… Why did she hate them again?

No time for distractions. She has a party to get to.

Junko hesitates while walking out of her cottage, leaving a note behind in her journal, and heads to the beach. It's still about forty-five minutes until she has to be there…

She bumps into someone. Junko snaps back into reality and opens her mouth to yell at the absolute fuckwad who decided to walk in her precious path… only to stop and stare.

Toko is in front of her, her eye glazed over with sadness yet a smile of acceptance on her face. She nods her head.

"J-Junko…" She chuckles, low and depressed.

The fashionista furrows her brows together. "OK, spill. You looked fucking suicidal earlier and now you have the biggest smile I've ever seen on your face,"

Toko tilts her head and lowers her hands from in front of her chest. "So someone like me isn't allowed to smile? I bet you think I have yellowed teeth and nasty breath…" The writer grumbles.

My God. Why is she like this?

"Ugh, your breath is slightly smelly, but your teeth look fine. Chill for once," Junko rolls her eyes and crosses her arms. "So what's got you in this good mood?"

"O-Oh… Someone just made a promise that I liked. It's no big deal," Toko sighs as her shoulders slump. "I don't want to talk to you of all people, but…"

Junko sweatdrops. Seriously?

"Have you ever wanted to die?"

"Sometimes. Why?"

Toko is silent for a long while, rolling her bottom lip between her teeth. She fumbles her hands back in front of her chest with a sigh. Then she opens her mouth.

"I-I guess you'd kind of understand… It's about my Master…" Toko's face screws up at the word, and she continues slowly. "About Byakuya. He just gave me an emotion I've felt before, but I actually felt safe using that emotion around him."

If "stalking" was an emotion, she means. Junko wants to say it so bad, but she holds her tongue.

"Not that he's g-gone, my soul feels empty," Her back straightens slightly and her voice distorts.

"Not just Ms. Morose either!"

Junko blinks. Toko… Syo? What exactly is happening here?

"Yeah, I didn't wanna say anything, 'cause then you'd think I'm this 'traitor' or whatever, but you're the best option I got," Syo smirks. "So, you know what the bear was yammering about in the trial? About us?"

About Syo and Toko? If Junko recalls correctly…

"He said some shit about 'the mergence'. About it happening too soon, yeah?"

Syo nods wildly, her tongue flapping and spewing spit. Junko wipes her face with a scowl.

"Yep yep! So, get this, I actually never lost my memories! I'm just keeping them hidden from Ms. Morose, but it's not helping!" Junko raises a brow. Syo rolls her eyes and pokes the fashionista in the chest with her uninjured hand. "Believe it or not, I somewhat care for Toko, so don't give me that damn look."

Junko huffs.

"Sooo, anyway! Our brain stuff is cramming together and merging! Like crammin' a dick into--"

"OK, no need for similes and metaphors!" Junko yells.

Syo loudly scoffs. "That's rich coming from you!"

"Just continue the story!"

The serial killer groans. She rubs her head with a wince and scowls, bringing her hand down to bite her thumb. "Damn it! I'm so exhausted and my head hurts like a bitch! I'll talk to you later, balloon tits! Say 'round… tomorrow night? Kya-hahaha! Bye-bye!"

Syo holds her head as she walks to her cottage and steps inside before the door closes. Junko watches as the girl leaves and swallows roughly.

The mergence… If Syo's and Toko's memories are combining, and the former was keeping out all of the bad stuff…

Is that why Toko is somehow even more depressing to be around now?

Her e-Handbook chimes.

Slightly confused, she takes out her e-Handbook and sees she collected one of Syo's shards. That's… nice.

Junko starts her walk to the first island beach at a slow and steady pace. What Syo said… Could it be possible that Chieko, Jun, and Kyo are keeping her safe from their memories since they might still have them?

As far as Junko knows, Syo is Toko's only alter, and she doesn't seem to be a memory holder or overseer or anything. If anything, she reminds Junko of Kyo: Loud, foul-mouthed, and a weird obsession with sharp objects.

Syo has her scissors, and Kyo loves his box cutters.

Could it be that Toko and Syo were more integrated in their lost years? Junko allows the thought to swirl in her head. Could… Was she closer with Chieko, Jun, and Kyo?

Junko didn't realize she was walking towards the beach until someone steps in front of her. Her red eyes glance up from the ground to see Celeste with her arm clutched over her ribs and a bruise on her cheek.

"Junko!"

… What?

Celeste tears up melodramatically and winces. "It was awful! M-Mukuro… she…"

"What did she do this time?" Junko doesn't believe her for a second. The bruise on her cheek may look good, but it's smudged with a small fingerprint on the edges. Naked to any other person that isn't Junko.

"She tried to kill Chihiro and I… Her a-and Hifumi when I said no to his advances,"

Hifumi doesn't seem like the person to do that. He tells jokes, yes, but trying to kill someone--Celeste, specifically--over being rejected? That's something the fashionista cannot accept.

"Mhm…" She watches Celeste's eyes dart to a trash can off to the side every few seconds. She follows the gambler's gaze to the trash can and sighs. "What's got lil Ludenberg so obsessed with a trash can? Does it remind you of your peasant days?"

Celeste sneers. "Don't talk to me like that. I'm the one who was nearly killed by your sister!"

"Muku may be a dog soldier, but she's not stupid. She's too emotionally attached to me to kill anyone, so sorry if I don't believe your dumbass story,"

The black-haired girl rolls her eyes and claps her hands slowly, sarcastic. "Bravo, Junko. I guess I shouldn't have underestimated you again. Especially since you solved Hina's murder before it even occurred,"

Well, she is the Ultimate Analyst as well as the Ultimate Fashionista. She may be dumb, but she sure isn't stupid.

"Just so that you are aware," Celeste says. "Mukuro isn't answering her communicator."

Junko raises her brows. Celeste knows about the buttons?

"Indeed, I tried to call her multiple times, but it seems likely that she was ignoring me," The gambler twirls her hair. "Ah, but I shall not dwell about her lack of communication. What happens next is her fault. Will you accompany me to the beach?"

She wants to say "Go fuck yourself and suck a large dick so you choke to death", but she doesn't, sadly. Instead she silently stares into Celeste's crimson red eyes. Finally, Junko shakes her head.

"Yo, I'm not dumb. Whatever you're planning won't work,"

"We'll see about that," The gambler says before stalking away.

Smirking smugly, Junko watches as the gambler strolls past the garbage can she was concerned with. Not so smugly, Junko walks over to it and grimaces.

"Oh, the things I do for information…" She taps her chin with her finger. A hum vibrates in her throat. "Actually, dumpster diving isn't the worst thing I've done; it sure was the most embarrassing one, though!

"Am I talking to myself?" She whispers.

Shaking her head, Junko shoves her hand into the trash can and digs around. Her tongue pokes out of her mouth due to concentration, and she perks up when she feels something.

In Junko's hand is a key, elegant and slightly weird looking. The handle is a large black oval with a small white skull engraved on each side, and the teeth of the key are more jagged than a normal key. The key looks more like a knife than a key, but the teeth are dulled instead of sharp.

What door does this go to?

She thinks for a brief second, and thousands of options pop into her head. Doors, basements, attics, secret passageways, a box, etcetera. The possibilities are endless and heavy; they weigh down on her mind and shoulders until she starts to get a migraine.

With a slight nod, Junko tucks the key into her pocket next to her e-Handbook and walks to the beach. When she arrives, her red eyes see Celeste spilling out her dramatic story of how Mukuro and Hifumi tried to kill her.

Ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous.

She can see nearly everyone believing the gambler as she tells her dramatic tale. Even Kyoko is captured in her speech! Actually, she just looks as if she's staring through Celeste with glazed eyes. Never mind.

Makoto is the only exception. He's frowning at Celeste with a tilt of his head and his brows raised.

Out of everyone here, Junko would've thought it would be Sayaka who thinks Mukuro to be innocent. They are in love or whatever… It's really obvious.

Junko goes over to Makoto with a skeptical look in her red eyes. "You don't believe her shit, right?"

"No…?" Makoto says like it's a question. He cups his chin. "What she's saying doesn't even make sense."

Finishing off her story, Celeste gives a fake sob and her shoulders shake. "I-I just wanted her to bodyguard me, and now she just… she…"

A choked noise comes from a few feet away. Junko glances over to see Mukuro and Hifumi, the former having blood smeared on her hands and forearm, as well as some on her chin.

Oh, this just doesn't look good for Mukuro.

"There they are!" Celeste cries out. She clasps her hands together and whimpers. "They tried to… to…"

Junko rolls her eyes. Is Celeste really the type of person to repeat a story and drill it into others heads so they'll be on her side? What a bitch.

"Kill both me and Chihiro!"

Mukuro's eyebrows shoot up and her jaw drops open slightly. Her already flushed cheeks somehow darken further.

But not in anger, no. This reaction is… different than earlier.

Junko doesn't know how exactly to describe it. Her sister's eyes go blank and her mouth clicks shut. Her brows slowly come down and settle passively. A red tint is in her light purple eyes.

Then she comes back to life, blinking rapidly with fear in her eyes.

What's truly strange is what happens right after that.

Kyoko, previously unresponsive, perks up and starts to smile and laugh. Everyone startles and faces the usually cold detective as she bounces in place and smiles brightly.

Junko's heart twirls in her chest at the smile. Oh, how she wishes Kyoko would smile at her like that…

Wait a damn minute.

Junko narrows her eyes and looks closer at Kyoko's face. Her cheeks are flushed a darker red than before, like Mukuro's, and her lavender eyes are tinted red as well.

Something isn't right…

Mukuro scratches the back of her head. She swallows roughly, sweat beading at her brow and her face paling. Her hands are trembling as they come around and grip her black shirt tightly. "Huh? As in… m-murder?"

Celeste's crimson red eyes widen and then narrow. "What kind of game are you playing? You attacked me and Chihiro!"

"I-I'm sorry, but I didn't…?" The soldier seems confused and full of fear. The confused part is genuine due to the situation, but the odd fear reminds Junko of how Hiro was acting earlier.

"Uh… What the hell's going on?" Leon crosses his arms and looks between the suspiciously happy Kyoko and the now shaking Mukuro. "Yo! Mukuro--!"

"Wah! Don't yell at me, I'm so sorry!" Mukuro tears up, throwing her arms in the air. "I'll go, I promise! Please don't hurt me or Junko!" She runs away--more like she stumbles quickly.

Hifumi, who was next to the soldier, watches her go with his mouth agape. He shrugs when eyes land on him.

"I don't know what's wrong with her! A-And besides, Ms. Ludenberg accused us of attacking her, which we didn't!" His eyes go to Junko, who's silently absorbing the information. "Ms. Enoshima, you believe me, right?!"

Junko doesn't say anything. Her eyes stare at the fanfic creator as he panics at her silence, searching for any sign of lying. To her not-so-little surprise, she finds no evidence of Hifumi lying. Which means Mukuro didn't absolutely pummel Celeste to the ground, unfortunately.

So… Conclusion of this story: Celeste is a big fat liar, and everyone needs to stop taking everything she says as the truth.

Hifumi squeals at her silence and runs away.

Junko flicks her eyes to the side to stare at Celeste as she smirks then hides it behind her hand. She narrows her eyes. I'll get you back, you bitch.

Sayaka sighs. "So much for this awesome fun time… If Mukuro hadn't done that…" She looks as if she had swallowed a lemon while saying that. Good, so she doesn't truly believe Celeste.

Leon doesn't look so convinced either now. "Yeah… Real uncool of her…"

"Haha! C'mon, guys, it's a party!" Kyoko giggles.

Junko is creeped out by this new Kyoko. It's disgusting and nasty. She wants the old Kyoko back; the one that would leave ominous meanings in her speeches and smirk whenever she teases anyone!

"Yeah, no disrespect to you, Kyoko, but this party is a total drag!" Junko narrows her eyes when Kyoko turns her gaze to her. Her smile seems strained now. "Hmph, nothing to say? That's right, I thought so. Come get me when you aren't like how you are now."

With that, Junko walks away. Talk about a fucking waste of time. What the hell did she even get out of that? The party wasn't fun, entertaining, or interesting for the five minutes she was there before it went to shit.

Stupid Sayaka, making her drag her ass out to--

"Junko!"

"Hey, Junko, wait up!"

Oh, my God…

Junko doesn't stop walking, so Sayaka and Leon walk in sync on either side of her. She sighs out of pure irritation, glancing at the pair with a scowl.

"What the hell do you two want?" She huffs.

Leon pats the fashionista on the back. "Sorry we thought Mukuro beat the hell outta Celeste,"

"Not that she doesn't deserve it…" Sayaka mutters darkly. She perks up with a smile. "So, the party was a bust?"

"Yeah, no kidding. Why the hell did you wanna have a party at three in the Goddamn morning?" Junko hisses at the idol.

Sayaka giggles nervously. "W-Well… Most of us aren't able to sleep, so I thought a very early party would be enough to lift our spirits!"

Is she serious? Is she real? A party at a time like this wouldn't be good at all. If anything, the first party held was a warning: Any parties will lead to more conflict.

"Riiight…" The redhead drawls. She stops in her tracks and claps her hands together. "Oh, Monokuma!"

Leon and Sayaka jump back as the monochromatic bear pops up in front of the trio. He winks and places his paws on his belly.

"Junko! What a surprise! Out of all my students, I thought you'd be the last one to call for me!" He blushes. "But, just like your sister, you've fallen in love with me! Grah! A relationship between the headmaster and his students?! I...can make it work…"

That's… really gross.

"Uh huh, yeah, OK," Junko crosses her arms and glares down at the bear. "I need a clue about the third island."

Monokuma tilts his head with a slightly surprised noise. "Huh? You need a clue from moi? What's the occasion?"

"Ugh, just tell me something!"

"Look for it yourself!" The monochromatic bear growls and throws his arms up. "It has absolutely nothing to do with the casino or that mysterious key you found in the garbage can! Whoops!"

Leon gives her a look. "You dumpster dived a key?"

Monokuma isn't subtle at all when it comes to clues, and that's something Junko likes about the bear. If she can find out what the deal is with the casino, maybe she can find a cure to whatever the hell's going on with Mukuro and Kyoko… and any others who seem weird as fuck, like Hiro.

"Whatever, who cares about the details!" Junko retrieves the key from her pocket and holds it to the bear's face. "Is this the only one of its kind? C'mon, hurry up!"

Monokuma shakes his head. "Weeell… Nope! That key is part of a pair! So there's one other key, but I dunno if I can tell you who has it or what it goes to. Secrets are forever,"

OK, Junko takes it all back about the bear. She fucking hates him and his so-called "subtly". "Secrets are forever" my ass.

"However, secrets don't stay secret for long! While your past is dark and black, covered by the treacherous World Ender, only the seven slots can make your black turn to gray. Because, even then, will everything really be OK?" Monokuma giggles. "Upupupu… Puhuhuhu! While your past may not be white, don't let it give you a fright! Because the yellow sun only shines so bright…"

"What are you talking about," Sayaka deadpans without a hint of question in her tone.

"Yellow is filled with white and yellow fills the green, and green brightens the blue! Blue darkens the brown, but that's not all now. The falling sun, turning the yellow sky pink, makes everything more beautiful than everyone thinks. Without the brown ground bleeding red death, nothing makes sense, so go along now and don't hold your breath…"

With that, Monokuma leaves the trio to their silence.

Leon tsks and cards his fingers through his spiky orange hair. "Man, what a load of bullshit. Why the hell do you even listen to that prick anyway, Junko?" He glances at the girl. "Junko?"

Junko is deep in thought. She rolls her bottom lip between her teeth as she thinks about the riddle Monokuma said.

Seven slots… The slot machines, obviously, and there's seven of them. The order must be important. Gray, yellow, green, blue, brown, pink, red. That must be the order the slot machines must be played in for something to open up, or some kind of clue.

Junko struts off to the third island with the other two barely able to match her pace. Seriously, Leon should at least be able to walk beside her since he has a lot of stamina--baseball player, and all. Oh well, nobody can be like Junko Enoshima herself.

As soon as she steps foot in the casino on the third island, Junko takes off to the slot machines. She jumps in front of the gray slot machine and yanks the handle down.

The three slots inside spin and spin. She sees a multitude of colors go past her vision, but she doesn't win.

"Damn it!" Junko slaps the side of the machine.

"Uh, are you OK?"

Junko whirls around to see Makoto standing in between Leon and Sayaka who are heavily panting. Makoto sheepishly scratches the back of his head and looks away.

"Oh, sorry! I saw you guys going to the third island and got curious," Makoto walks forward and looks at the slot machines. "What's going on?"

"I need your help! My luck is shit!"

Makoto's eyebrows raise. "You need my… luck? S-Sorry, but my luck is pretty unpredictable…"

"Who cares?! The chances of me winning all of these slot machines is low, but with you helping, the probability increases to at least forty percent!"

Makoto sweatdrops.

Junko stares expectantly.

The lucky student nods and takes Junko's place at the gray machine. "What am I going for? All seven?"

"No, no…" Junko taps her chin as she remembers. "Try to get all three to become a black card. 'Black becomes gray'..."

Makoto nods and pulls the lever down. The slots start spinning until all three slots stop on black screens.

"Winner! Winner! Winner!"

"Now this one,"

Makoto pulls the yellow machine's lever. Then the green, blue, brown, pink, and red machines' levers.

"Winner! Winner! Winner!"

Monokuma pops into existence with a cheeky grin. "Congratulations! You won the game… or did you truly?"

Junko narrows her eyes. "What,"

"Look in the back room over there," Monokuma jabs his thumb over his shoulder to a shadowy corner. It's barely noticeable if one isn't looking for a secret door, but the gleam of the doorknob makes the shadow more noticeable.

With a frustrated sigh, Junko moves forward with three people behind her. She grabs onto the knob and twists it, going to walk forward to enter the room, but her nose painfully bumps the door. She jerks back in surprise and holds her nose.

Right… This is what the key is for…

Junko removes the key from her pocket and unlocks the door, pushing it open with a grunt. Man, this thing is heavy.

As soon as the door is open, Junko walks in and scans the room quickly. It looks… like a normal storage closet albeit full of room. There are two long shelves on either side of the room with a lot of cleaning supplies on them--Windex, bleach, etcetera. A small drain on the floor is in the corner with a custodian's bucket by it, mops and brooms hung by hooks by one of the shelves.

Junko shivers. Why is it so cold in here?

The fashionista glances to the other corner adjacent to the drain. She notices two barrels with warning labels on them on a slab of wood embedded into the floor. Junko doesn't think much of it, thinking it to be there to act as an insulator--a shitty one if the strange way one of the barrels is leaning is an indication.

Her eyes snap to a strange hair clip. Junko steps forward and grabs the pin and runs her thumb over the 8-bit figure. It's from some video game or something, judging by the retro-80s graphics. She wonders who this belongs to.

"Did we solve some random slot machine games for nothing?" Leon groans. He tilts his head back and curses at the ceiling.

Monokuma peaks in through the doorway. "Not for nothing! This door is electronically activated, so it's one of two ways to get inside!"

Junko latches on to the latter part of his sentence. "One of two ways to get inside." If the door is one way, then what's the other way? Her eyes scan over the room again and again, but she cannot find anything pointing to an exit.

Weird.

"You should be lucky! If I was mean, I'd lock this door forever after the first person got in here and took a file on the World Ender organization!"

"World Ender?" Makoto asks.

Monokuma gasps. "Oh, right! I guess since it's come out anyway… I'll tell you all later! Maybe when I feel like it! Ah-hahaha!" The bear disappears.

Sayaka stomps her foot and puffs her cheeks out. "That… That stupid bear!"

She stomps out with a frantic Makoto following her. Leon stays in the room with Junko with his hands shoved into his pocket, pale blue eyes watching her curiously.

"You don't look that pissed off," He says. A slow grin crawls up his face. "Oh, right, I forgot. You always swoon whenever I'm in the room with you…"

Junko snorts. "In your dreams,"

"Yep!" Leon's large grin shifts into a light smirk. "So, wanna tell me what's going on in that beautiful head of yours?"

"Nothing, really," She lies. She hands Leon the key she found in the trash, chuckling when he fumbles it slightly. "You do whatever you want with that key, I don't care about it anymore."

The orange-haired male blinks in surprise. "Huh, really?"

"Yeah, just take it. Do whatever you want with it, I don't think it's that important now that this storage closet is, like, a total bust,"

"Ooo-kay then… I'll hang onto it just in case," Leon slips the key into his pocket and leaves, but not without sending her a wink and an air kiss.

Junko catches the kiss with her hand and holds it to her heart, laughing when Leon trips and nearly falls over his feet. Her bright attitude slowly disappears until she's left with a numbness inside of her heart.

Information… gone. Someone already took it. But for some reason, Junko knows it can't be Celeste. It just seems too obvious.

And what was that with the slot colors being important? Black, white, yellow, green, blue, pink, and red. Is it some sort of meaning? Did it mean something in the past, buried under their lost memories? Or is it just a simple code to open the electronic door?

She's looking too deep into this. Junko knows there's nothing hidden in the door message, but her analyst mind can't help but try and look for loopholes and things she may have missed; for this riddle, unfortunately, there's nothing of importance with these colors.

Absolutely nothing.

But then, why the specific order? No, stop it, Junko, you're doing it again. Think of something else. Like cookie dough ice cream, nice on the flavor and on taste buds. Yes, this is what was needed to relax--

"Junko, we have a huge fucking problem!" Leon bursts in with wide eyes. He's nearly dancing in place because of how nervous he looks.

Junko looks at the baseball player. "What's happening?"

"Chihiro's trying to fight Monokuma! Monomi told me to get you!!"

That… is the most random thing Junko has heard since the trial. She'll have to get Sakura or someone better to talk Chihiro down and maybe convince Monokuma to not punish the programmer with execution.

"And she's kinda winning?"

OK, screw doing the right thing, this sounds interesting!

Junko grabs Leon's hand and the latter pulls the former to the second island. Her senses go wonky, but it'll be worth it to see this smackdown in action.

Everyone is gathered. Most of them are idly watching from the sidelines as Monomuma is, surprisingly, being beaten to a pulp by Chihiro. Sakura is trying to stop the chaos but never finds a good time to step between the two. Kyoko and Syo are cheering loudly.

"Go, Chihiro!"

"Fuck 'em up, skort!"

Chihiro roars and punches Monokuma in the face before backing off slightly to shake her hand. Enraged, the bear bounces back up and points his paw at the programmer.

"Violence against the headmaster is strictly prohibited!"

"Says who?!"

"The rules?!" The bear rushes forward at an alarming speed.

Chihiro goes to pounce Monokuma again, a feral gleam glazing over her red-tinted eyes. Before she has a chance, Sakura steps in between them and kicks the monochromatic bear back.

Monokuma giggles ominously. "Oh, so we have two rule breakers! How dare?! Oh, well, now your lives are mine!" He raises his paws and shouts at the top of his lungs. "Monobeast, I command ye to come hither!"

A Monobeast appears swiftly with a glowing blue cannon in its hand. It points at the duo and begins to fire.

The blue stream of light shoots towards the pair.

A small figure steps in front of the light.

Junko's eyes widen. "Makoto!"

When the eye scorching light finally dies down, Makoto is lying in a small puddle of his own blood, twitching and gasping. Chihiro is angrily looking down on him, and Sakura looks horrified.

Monokuma gapes at the sight. "Uh… Welp! I guess this exchange is pretty even, then!"

"Even?! You can't do this! This isn't right, big brother!" Monomi tries to push the bear towards the lucky student.

"Huh? Why not? Someone had to be punished for violence against the headmaster, so--"

Junko narrows her eyes and steps forward. "No, that's not how this works. You're supposed to punish the one who broke your rule, not the one who stepped in front of it,"

"What--"

"Heal him, and we won't attack you anymore. No one will," Junko glares over at the silent batch of students, in shock and horror at the sight of their friend dying before them.

The bear growls. "But I can't heal him! There's no hospital or anything!"

"So improvise!"

Monokuma makes a sound of annoyance. "Fine! But don't be mad if he isn't returned to how you want him!"

Monokuma and Makoto disappear at the blink of an eye.

Junko runs her hand through her red hair and sighs. Her eyes drift over to Celeste unconsciously, finding her glaring at the trembling Mukuro.

The soldier covers her ears and screams. "I knew it! We're all gonna die! Fuck, fuck, fuck! I have to get outta here, I can't die like this!" She sprints away while crying out in fear.

Chihiro growls. "Why the hell did you get in my way, Sakura?! This wasn't your fight, and I needed to get stronger! Fuck you!" She leaves while stomping angrily, and Junko could just barely hear her teeth grinding together.

"Hehehe! That was so much fun to watch!" Kyoko bounces away with a skip in her step, giggling all the way.

Hiro doesn't say anything as he slumps away, eyes dull and lifeless.

Junko swallows the lump in her throat. What the hell is happening?

Chapter Text

It's strange. Really, it is.

Several hours after Makoto was… riddled with a myriad of holes in his body, staining himself with blood, life returned to an uneasy normal.

It's sickening.

She has fear pounding in her heart and sending shivers down the length of her spine.

… Oh, wait, this is Junko by the way. What, just because Mukuro is acting like Scooby-Doo and being scared and shit means Junko can't be Daphne? Total bummer.

Junko is dumpster diving again in the same trash can where she found the key. Something had been odd about the way she found the weird key in the trash.

The key had been buried under a few objects she didn't bother looking at; Junko assumed the key to be what Celeste had in her possession and threw it away. If that's the case, then why?

Why throw the key away in the trash? The key is part of a pair, so there's another, cool, but why not keep a hold of the key and frame the other person for doing something? If Celeste had the key in the first place.

Earlier, after the altercation with Chihiro and Monokuma that led to Makoto's injury, Junko asked Celeste if she had any knowledge of the casino. More specifically, if she had any knowledge about the slow machines.

Celeste raises her eyebrow and smiles, but malice laces the thin grin. "Oh? Is there a secret to the casino that I do not know about? Strange… I believe I had Hifumi search the place top to bottom, but he found nothing. Ah, at least he is now an F-Rank, yes?"

Junko found no signs of lying. But, just in case, she asked Hifumi. Unfortunately for her, the fanfic creator confirmed Celeste's story.

"The casino? Yes, Ms. Ludenberg asked me, her loyal knight, to search the building from top to bottom! But… my luck struck me down, for I found nothing of interest besides this key on the floor," Hifumi pulls out a key identical to the one Junko found while dumpster diving. He grins in excitement. "I'm going to make it into a super cool dimension hopping key! That way, we can escape faster!"

When she checked in on Hifumi, he had lost the key. Monokuma had been angry when he popped up and shouted.

"You can't just lose stuff you find like that! I didn't even have time to pick it up from the floor when it got separated from its twin, and it's already missing again because of you troublesome teenagers! Raaagh!" Monokuma stomps and throws his arms up.

So… all in all, today is shit.

Junko is no closer to finding out what the hell is wrong with Mukuro. In fact, she hasn't seen the soldier since her freak out a few hours ago. Sure, she's a soldier, but Junko usually finds her quickly.

So where did she go?

With a sigh of irritation, Junko slides away from the trash can and to the hotel. Whatever Celeste had hidden there a few hours ago should be gone now, swiped up by the gambler.

She enters the restaurant and sits down at the table by the window. The last time she sat here comfortably was a little before Hina's murder, and she had been nervous about her newly dyed hair. Now, it's been about a day and a half since the trial, two days since Hina's death.

Time flies…

"You still haven't found her?" Sakura sits down next to Junko at the table. She rests her large hands on the table.

Junko is dejected as she shakes her head. "Nope… It's like she just upped and left the island or some shit,"

Sakura sighs softly. "I want to ask you something, Junko. It's something Mukuro said to me yesterday before she disappeared,"

"Shoot,"

"Am I… coming on too strong with her and Chihiro?"

"What d'you mean?"

"Mukuro said that I'm only helping her control her newfound anger because I feel guilty about…" The martial artist tightens her hands into fists and looks down at the table. "About Hina. Because she and I never made up, and it was her anger and fear at the killing game that drove us apart and made her a victim. Mukuro said that I considered both her and Chihiro as charity cases."

Junko swirls the information around in her head. Mukuro wouldn't say something that cruel to someone unless it was well-deserved, and even then the probability is low.

"Y'know, Sakura, you might be coming on too strong with Mukuro. I mean, like, she doesn't like asking for help or receiving help with force," The fashionista leans back in her chair and sighs. She closes her eyes. "You gotta ease her into the idea without her knowledge. She'll open up to the suggestions and then suggest it herself, believing it to be her own idea."

Sakura blinks. "That… is manipulation, is it not?"

"Yeah, but it's needed for this traumatized soldier to actually get help,"

And it's like they say: Behind every woman is an even stronger woman. Is that the saying? Junko doesn't care to remember.

Quiet footsteps alert the two to another's presence. Junko turns her head to see Kyoko here, but she's much less hyper than earlier. She sits at a table on the opposite side of the room.

Junko raises her brows. "Do… you think she burned out?"

"No…" Sakura narrows her gaze at the silent detective. "Something else is at play here."

There's a heavy and loud crash from at the bottom of the stairs followed by shouting. Junko and Sakura lock eyes.

Bursting upstairs is Mukuro, breathing heavily and her body cleaned from the blood from earlier. Her red-tinted, light purple eyes scan the room and stop on the detective. She practically snarls.

"You!"

Sakura is gone from the fashionista’s peripheral vision in an instant. Before Junko's eyes, Sakura is holding the soldier close to her chest with her hands under Mukuro's arms. Mukuro is struggling, but she doesn't seem to be going anywhere.

"Fuck you, you bitch! I bet you're the traitor! Yeah, I'm right, right?! Look at me!"

Kyoko slowly turns to look at Mukuro then looks away. Mukuro screams and tries to get out of the martial artist's grasp with great effort and no results.

Many people hurry up the stairs while others are slower in doing so.

Both Hifumi and Leon are sporting small bruises on their faces. Hifumi grimaces as he opens his mouth, so he keeps quiet.

"Mukuro was hiding on top of the barn at the farm," Leon says.

No wonder Junko never saw her. She never looked up.

Chihiro bounces in front of Mukuro, held by Sakura, with a bright smile. "Hi, Mukuro!"

"Don't talk to me or I'll fucking kill you!"

Junko snorts.

"Oh, my!" Monokuma appears in existence with his paw holding Monomi's ears. "I think they're finally catching on! Wouldn't you say, Monomi?"

Sayaka narrows her blue eyes. "Is this… whatever is going on, the motive?"

Monokuma tilts his head. "Huh? Oh, you mean the virus that's going around?"

Virus?

"Oh, that's toootally my motive!" He says with a smirk. He drops a whimpering Monomi to the floor to throw his arm behind his head. "Well, the second motive! I can't believe one of you threw the first motive away in the trash! Ingrates, all of you!"

In… the trash? Junko's eyes go over to Celeste who's standing neutrally by the stairway. Her red eyes are closed and she's twirling her hair idly.

… Lots of things are just stacking up against her.

"But anyway, here's the third motive! I call it… the Despair Disease!"

"Despair Disease?" Hifumi croaks. He bites his fingers nervously.

The bear nods and winks. "Uh huh! Originally, it was supposed to make some of you act the opposite of yourself! But now… Upupupu," He laughs softly until it becomes a mighty roar. "Ah-hahahahaha! It heightens a feeling most associated with despair!"

Junko cups her chin and hums. "So Mukuro is anger, Chihiro is happiness, and Hiro is fear," Her red eyes looks at the downtrodden detective silently watching with a glaze over her eyes. "Then Kyoko's has to be something sad… I guess depression is the best way to describe it.

"By the way, what the hell was that yesterday, then?" The fashionista looks at the bear, feeling somehow calm.

The monochromatic bear presses his paw to his chin. "Oh, that? The power went out on the third island where all four sick students were conveniently at! The nanobots that control the virus had disconnected for about an hour, so all students went back to normal, but!" He sighs and shakes his head, placing his paws on his hips. "The nanobots didn't connect the right emotion to the right person! Took forever to fix!"

Junko nods in acceptance. That explains a lot, really, but… nanobots?

"Oh, I'd be careful if I were you guys! That virus is really potent!" He smirks. "It can be passed from person to person extremely easily!"

With that, Monokuma vanishes and leaves Monomi on the floor.

Junko stands up with a sigh. "I think we all know what this means. Alright, everyone, follow my lead,"

The students hesitantly follow Junko's orders.

"Chihiro, Mukuro, Hiro, and Kyoko are on the sick side. Sakura, Celeste, and I will stay with them. The rest of you will stay in the motel in case we need help,"

"Pardon?" Celeste looks pissed off. "You want me to take care of… her?" She glares at Mukuro. "Have you somehow forgotten that she is the one who attacked me?"

Yeah, right. Totally believable.

"Yeah, and we'll keep her far away from you as necessary," The fashionista says blankly. Celeste nods slowly, sighing in disappointment. "Sakura is obvious: She's currently holding a sick person. I'm going because I've had contact with nearly all of them. Celeste is going because Mukuro touched her.

"Not sure about Hifumi since they hung out earlier, but I'm willing to have him be the runner,"

"The… runner? Ms. Enoshima, I can't run that fast!" The obese male cries.

Junko blinks. "No, I'm not having you run. You're the messenger boy but still relatively safe, so you'll pass information from the safe side to the sick side. You up to the task?"

Hifumi cups his chin and slowly strokes it. Then he grins. "Ah, but of course! A messenger boy is very important in a situation such as this!"

"Great. Then we're all in agreement?"

Some people nod while others stay silent. It's not reassuring to Junko's leadership qualities, but if it's to keep others from killing, this is the best route to go.

It takes a while, but Junko and Sakura manage to get the four sick individuals to the police station. It's not the best place for sick people, but it can contain them--Mukuro specifically--if they get too hyper or agitated.

Celeste selfishly walked ahead of them.

Hiro flees into the last cell and cowers into a corner. Chihiro practically prances into the second cell and happily inspects the cracks and crevices. Kyoko has to be hurried into the first cell because she's walking so slow. Mukuro is dropped into the third cell and quickly locked in before she starts to throw her body at the bars.

Speaking of locks…

"Where are the damn keys?!" Junko rages in front of the wall, glaring at the nail where the keys were held. "Without them, how the hell are we supposed to get them out?! The doors locked automatically!"

Celeste rolls her eyes. "You are thinking too much into this," She smirks. "Perhaps the keys were simply misplaced and are in a safe location."

"Perhaps the bear can explain!" Monokuma speaks in a posh accent. He is holding a cup of piping hot tea while wearing a bowler hat, a red bowtie, and a mustache. "You see, those keys were taken way earlier! Around the time the third island power outage happened!"

Oh, so the keys are long gone by now. Bummer.

… Actually, why exactly were the keys taken? There's no reason for it if they go to these jail cells.

Sakura crosses her arms. "So they are just… trapped in there?"

"Yep! You can still get them food, though!" Monokuma taps his chin and hums. "I wonder how long it'll be before their memories come back… Oh, well, guess we'll have to wait and find out!"

Junko's eyes widen. "Wait--"

The bear disappears.

"Damn it! Fuck shit mother fucking ass tits bitch!"

Celeste raises her brows. "Oh, my…" Her nose scrunches slightly as she grimaces. "How… brash. Do you always speak in that manner?"

Oh, fuck you! What Monokuma said was really important, and you're treating this whole situation as if it's only an inconvenience to you! The world doesn't revolve around you, Celeste, and no one cares about your prissy rich girl attitude you got going on! In fact, some of us wanna smack the living daylights out of you!

Junko grits her teeth and stays silent. She brings her hands up and cups her nose and mouth, sighing heavily into them. Then she lowers her hands and smiles, strained.

"OK… Here's what we're gonna do: We're gonna take a small break, five minutes each, to go away for a moment and breathe," Junko says. Her eyes specifically lock onto the gambler who looks disgusting by going into the lightly falling rain. "Got it?"

"Indeed I do," Sakura nods.

Celeste rolls her eyes and clicks her tongue, but she doesn't say much else. The fashionista will just have to suppose that means she's agreeing to their plan.

"Celeste, you can take this key," She takes the key that's on the reception desk and hands it to the gambler. "and go out the back door to chill. Sakura, you can stay here. I'll go out the front. Kapeesh?"

Celeste turns and leaves, unlocking the back door and then slamming it shut behind her.

Silence.

"Sakura, if I decide to merc Celeste, please hold her down,"

"... I will not promise that," By the look in Sakura's silver eyes, she's definitely considering it.

Junko walks out the front door and her shoulders immediately slump. She brings a hand up to run through her fringe out of trepidation and irritation.

Let's go over everything I know. Junko slowly paces in front of the door. The keys to the police station are gone because they were taken at the time of the third island blackout--whatever happened there. At the same time, the virus controlling nanobots switched around the four's "despair" emotions since they were all on the third island. The casino has two entrances, and the main one is electronically activated. The second one is somewhere in that tiny ass room and leads to someplace else.

Sounds like some weird ass book plot or something.

Junko hates everything right now.

Clicking her tongue, she enters the building.

The three girls stay hours at the police station, watching over the sick students and sitting in a tense atmosphere.

Hifumi brings small shipments of food and water to feed everyone and relays information. Everyone at the motel is doing fine, but Toko is keeping her distance like before.

It's too bad only the cells have toilets and mattresses. Even if none of them are being used. The fashionista just really has to use the bathroom and wants to sleep in her own fucking bed.

The nighttime announcement goes off, and a minute later, Monokuma appears.

"Hey, you all can't stay here overnight!" The bear shows his sharp claws and growls. "It's in violation of the rules! Look." He pulls out a long scroll that hits the floor and rolls a few feet. He clears his throat. "'Students may not overstay their welcome in the police station after the nighttime announcement occurs. Only one student may stay, however, to oversee the prisoners' health and safety.' Which means: All but one of you need to get the hell out!"

"Nose goes!" Junko slaps her finger to her nose, and Sakura hesitantly follows after a devious smirk from the former.

Celeste glares at them. "You two are childish. But, fine, I will stay here for the time being,"

Junko pumps her fist and hisses out a "Yes!" underneath her breath. Sakura stands from her place on the floor and stretches her arms out to the side.

Junko happily skips out of the police station with the martial artist a few steps behind her.

Thank God Celeste is a pushover when it comes to some stuff.

As soon as she enters her cottage and her head hits the pillow, Junko is out like a light. She dreams of the success of her career in modeling and a perfect relationship.

She dreams of escaping alive with Mukuro by her side.

The morning announcement plays and wakes her up.

Junko lies in her bed and stares at the ceiling with an odd look on her face. Why does it feel as if she's… missed something significant? No, she must be thinking about how Syo wanted to tell her about her memories of the past two years. Or something like that.

Maybe she can convince Toko to let her talk to the serial killer. And if not, Junko is fine with talking to the writer.

… There's that feeling again. She missed something for sure.

With a sigh, Junko swings her legs to dangle off of the bed and stands up. She throws on her shoes and uses the bathroom before leaving her cottage. At the same time, Sakura is exiting her own cottage.

"Ah, Junko, I thought I would end up walking alone to the third island," She bows her head and smiles warmly. "Would you like me to walk with you?"

Junko chuckles. "Sure, why not?"

As they walk, that eerie feeling washes over Junko's shoulders and down her spine. Sakura glances down at the redhead as she shivers.

"Is something wrong, Junko?"

"I just… feel uneasy. Something doesn't feel right,"

"So you feel it as well," Sakura says as they cross the bridge to the third island. "When I woke this morning, something felt strange…"

"Like you missed something," Junko finishes.

"Exactly,"

Huh… So it isn't just Junko that's feeling that unease. Maybe Celeste and the others on the safe side feel it, too, and are talking about it right now.

Sakura pushes and holds the door open for Junko to enter before coming in behind her.

Almost instantly, Junko notices something wrong. She looks around and doesn't see Celeste anywhere. She looks into the office area for any sign of her, but she finds no sign of the gambler.

"Where did Chihiro go?!" Sakura's voice yells.

Junko's eyes go wide in shock. She races over to the cells to see Chihiro's cell empty and the door slightly ajar and the toilet flipped on its side, revealing a wood pallet impeded in the floor. That isn't the only strange thing.

Kyoko is the one cowering in her cell, fear etched on her face as she stares at the cell's door. Mukuro is happily prancing around in her cell with the happiest smile Junko's seen on her in a while. Hiro is growling and hitting his mattress with his crutch with a weird look (not just anger) in his eyes.

What…?

Sakura breathes out a shaky breath. "We need to find both of them before something happens,"

She doesn't say it, but Junko knows exactly what Sakura's talking about. Murder. A chill goes down her spine.

"You go ahead and I'll meet you at Electric Avenue," Junko says. "I wanna ask if they've seen anything."

Sakura nods and exits through the front door, leaving Junko alone with the four students. Her red eyes lock onto Kyoko's trembling body.

"Hey, detective," She smiles softly, and the lavender-haired girl blinks and shudders. "I just wanna ask if you saw anything last night. Anything at all might help."

Kyoko tugs at her gloves and whimpers. She nods her head. "U-Uh… Celeste left s-sometime during the night…"

"OK, that's good… Anything else?"

"There were some… scary sounds from the other cells…" Kyoko closes her eyes. "L-Like doors closing. They were loud and they scared me, b-but… I'm sorry!"

Junko panics. "No, it's fine, don't worry! Just asking 'cause I wasn't here, nothing to worry about,"

Kyoko nods and shakes, tears in her eyes.

"Wow, you heard some weird sounds last night?! That's crazy, Kyoko!" Mukuro nearly shrieks in excitement. Kyoko cowers at the sound.

Junko leans back and sees Mukuro holding her communicator between the bars. She furrows her brows.

"Someone called me on here when Celeste was still here, and I got really really really really really angry! Then she left and those weird sounds popped up! Totally crazy!"

Hiro huffs out something but ultimately stays silent, and he drags something metallic sounding on the wall.

Junko nods frantically and bites her lip. It's barely even the start of the day, and two people are missing! What a mess!

"I'll be back soon, like, real soon! Just gotta check on something, 'kay?"

"O-OK… Please be safe…"

"Okie dokie!"

"Rrgh,"

Junko walks out of the police station, and as soon as the door closes, she books it to Electric Avenue. Her heeled boots make loud thunking noises that shoot fear and apprehension into her brain and heart.

She steps into the wire infested area and maneuvers around the sparkling edges. Her red eyes lock onto Celeste, drenched in water and looking like a drowned cat, and Sakura who's guiding her out.

Celeste notices Junko and scowls. "You should've stayed at the police station instead of me,"

"What happened?" Junko asks instead of pouncing and strangling the gambler to death.

"Ugh, I guess I'll tell you," The gambler says. She and Sakura stop so she can explain. "I left the police station because I heard something outside of the back door, but nobody was there. I searched around for a while. As I was going back inside, someone struck me on the back of the head and I fell unconscious. I woke up here, soaking wet, and now talking to you buffoons."

Would she really rather have been killed than talk to them?

Sakura furrows her brows. "Someone hit you?" She examines the black-haired girl's head and frowns when her fingers come away with some blood on them. Celeste grimaces.

Junko watches and bites her lip. "Wait, so you don't know where Chihiro is?"

The gambler's nose upturns and her mouth forms a small sneer. "That crybaby? Shouldn't she be in her cell along with the others?"

"Chihiro is… She has somehow escaped," Sakura looks away. "I'll tell you more about it on the way to the music venue. I fear we are running out of time."

Sakura picks up Celeste and carefully moves past Junko. The latter follows the pair to the music venue. Unfortunately, they don't find anything of importance.

At the motel, Junko sees Hifumi and Sayaka outside of a random room looking nervous. She jogs ahead of Celeste and Sakura.

"Hey, have you guys seen Chihiro?" The two startle and whip around to where Junko is standing.

"A-Aren't you three supposed to be quarantined at the police station?" Hifumi questions with a tremble in his tone.

"We cannot find Chihiro," Sakura states simply.

Sayaka tilts her head and stares deeply at Celeste. She giggles slightly when the gambler glares at her, but she doesn't look intimidating.

"What happened to Celeste?" The idol continues to laugh.

"She was doused in water and left in Electric Avenue," Celeste pointedly hisses, and Sayaka's laughter dries up.

Hifumi cups his chin. "Well… no, we haven't seen Ms. Fujisaki at all today. Have you three seen Ms. Fukawa?"

Fukawa? As in Toko Fukawa? She's missing too?

"Leon's sleeping in. He said something about catching up on sleep, and Toko won't answer her door. She agreed to confirm she's here, but now she isn't answering," Sayaka crosses her arms nervously and bites her lip.

Junko doesn't know what to do there, then. If she were Makoto, she'd probably say something like "Don't worry, Sayaka! Toko is probably just resting because the last trial took a lot out of her! If she doesn't answer at the next check in, then we can worry some."

But she isn't Makoto. He's nicer than she is, and he isn't here right now.

"How 'bout you two come with us to the casino? Maybe we can find Chihiro and Toko there together!" Junko grins and places her hands on her hips.

Hifumi perks up. "A quest to find the two fair maidens? Of course I will go on this quest with you, Ms. Enoshima!"

"Perfect, let's go!"

Junko marches ahead, and three pairs of footsteps shuffle behind her. A pit grows in her stomach as they move closer to the casino. What if they don't find both of them? Then what?

Junko places her hand on the casino's door and breathes in deeply. With a firm nod, she pushes the door open.

But… What's in front of her isn't what she expected to see. Not this soon. Not ever again.

Toko Fukawa, the Ultimate Writing Prodigy, is lying dead in a pool of her own blood.

Ding dong! Bing bong!

"A body has been discovered! After a short time for investigation, we will start a 'class trial'!"

The group races forward, and Junko lowers herself to the ground. She grabs the girl's shirt and pulls it open to reveal the source of the wound. Her brows shoot up at the vicious wound left in the girl's stomach.

Toko's eyes are dull, lifeless. The mellow eyes are grayed out and glossy with death. She looked to be in pain when she bled out…

"Son of a bitch…" Junko mutters softly to herself.

A few minutes later, Leon comes barreling in with a panicked look. "What happened? Who… died…?" He stops and stares with wide eyes at Toko's body. He slowly steps forward. "T-Toko?"

Junko grimaces and turns her head away. "Look, Leon, Chihiro's gone from the police station. Can you check the secret room?"

Celeste looks bemused as she's sat on her feet. She brushes the wet hair out of her face with a furrow in her brows. "Secret… room? But he did not find anything of the sort!"

"I…" Hifumi looks just as puzzled as the gambler does. "I never found any secret levels! Where's the entrance to this secret room?!"

Leon wipes at his pale blue eyes and tries to cover the tremble in his voice. "I-It… uh, it's just over here. I think it's still electronically locked, though,"

Sakura tilts her head. "Electronically locked? Secret room? This is puzzling,"

You're telling me, Sakura. And I'm also the Ultimate Analyst! Junko groans in her head.

Leon leads Hifumi over to the door and twists the knob just in case. He freezes and cocks his head to the side before pushing on the door open.

Sayaka sighs. "Leon, you have to use the key! It won't open like that without it,"

Leon says nothing. Full of curiosity, Junko watches as the baseball player pushes the door open. He and Hifumi peek into the room and scream.

Ding dong! Bing bong!

"A body has been discovered! After a short time for investigation, we will start a 'class trial'!"

Junko's eyes go wide. Two bodies?! Who the fuck killed two people in one night?! One of them being in a system with a fucking serial killer?!

The fashionista leaves Toko's body with Sayaka, Celeste, and Sakura who are all frozen. She pushes past the two boys and enters the room, and all breath leaves her body.

Because Chihiro Fujisaki, the Ultimate Programmer, is hanging by the wires of the light fixture, dead.

Chapter Text

When Mukuro becomes aware of her surroundings, her happiness wears off. She groans and holds a hand to her head stumbling back and flopping down on a stiff mattress.

She glances around and notices the room surrounding her. A bemused furrow in her brows and a parted mouth overtakes her face. Is she in the police station? Specifically inside of a cell?

Mukuro shakily rises to her feet and walks forward to the barred door. Her hands curl around the bars.

"Hello? Is anyone else here?"

"Yes, I'm here," Kyoko's voice comes from another cell. "I have a… vague idea as to why we're here."

"Really?" Sounds Hiro's voice to the cell right next to Mukuro's. His voice sounds gruff.

"Do you two remember those emotions that overcame us? Presuming you are all in a cell, too, and are trapped as well,"

Mukuro closes her eyes to think. Right… Right, it's all coming back.

She remembers the familiar anger in her veins as she stomped around the islands. She remembers burning hatred, then being afraid, then anger, then happiness. Why were her emotions all out of tune? Is… she on her…?

"Hey hey hey! Why're you guys locked in here? Those damn kids must not have found the keys!" Monokuma appears with a slight pout and crossed arms. "Oh, well! Get to the casino, kids, and quick! There's been some murders!"

With that, the bear pops away.

Kyoko hums. "That's strange,"

"Huh?" Mukuro asks. "What is it?"

"Monokuma said murders. As in multiple people,"

Fear washes over Mukuro's spine. "W-We have to go to the casino, then--"

"No can do, Kuro," Hiro sighs. "These doors are shut tight. We can't get out."

"Just… Look around for something that you can pick the lock with!" The soldier exclaims.

There's shuffling from all three cells. Movement stops in one of the cells, and there is a clicking sound. Creaking signals a door opening.

Hiro hobbles out on his crutch and stands in front of Mukuro's cell with a tight smile. "Found some bobby pins in my pocket,"

She has no idea why he was carrying around bobby pins, but it helped them get out faster! Hiro quickly unlocks her door, and Mukuro races past without a second glance.

"You get Kyoko, and I'll head to the casino!" She calls out before the door closes behind her.

She runs as fast as she can to the casino, and she barrels her shoulder with the door. The soldier bursts into the building.

"Who's dead? Who…" Mukuro's eyes widen. "Toko?"

Celeste, soaking wet, rolls her red eyes. "Yes, we've already established this,"

Toko… She looked like she was in so much pain when she died…

"Hey, Mukuro," Toko glances up with a small, resigned smile. Her eyes are slightly glazed over, but she looks awake and aware. "If I'm ever begging for death… can you make sure it's quick? Even if it isn't you killing me."

If she's ever begging for death… What if she bled out, all alone and in pain, and nobody was there for her? What if she died and… and…

"Geez, you all are finally here!" Monokuma claps his paws together and giggles. "Now I can give out the Monokuma files!"

The remaining students' handbooks all chime.

"Good luck and have fun!" He disappears.

Mukuro digs out her e-Handbook and looks it over.

The victim's body was discovered on the third island in the casino.

The cause of death is a single, large laceration to the victim's stomach. Evidence shows that the weapon used was heavy but easy to swing.

The victim has been stabbed with a small item which had hit an artery, causing their death to draw out by a few minutes.

Huh? Mukuro looks at the Monokuma File over and over again, sensing something to be missing. As she scans through it once more, she finally notices it.

"There's no time of death…" She mutters. What could this mean?

New Truth Bullet: Monokuma File #3.1

She shakes off her unease and walks to some… weird side room. Was that always there? Mukuro narrows her eyes and pushes past Hifumi and Leon standing still in shock. All breath leaves her body.

Chihiro…

Her throat feels as if it's going to collapse on itself by how hard it's throbbing and how dry it is.

Mukuro quickly pulls up the programmer's Monokuma File.

The victim was found in the casino's storage room.

The victim had the Despair Disease when they died and was beginning to show signs of having the Remembering Disease. There are also small traces of pain medication in their system.

The victim has a large gash on the back of their head and bruising on their back, the latter being a part of how they died. They also have bruised ribs from an earlier attack.

Mukuro nearly cracks her e-Handbook by how hard she's gripping it with her metal hand. Remembering Disease…? Despair Disease? Was that what Mukuro, Kyoko, and Hiro had?

Never mind that. Mukuro narrows her eyes at the cause of death. Or lack thereof. There is nothing on the Monokuma File indicating what the cause of death could be, but it's obvious… right? What's also concerning is the lack of time of death.

New Truth Bullet: Monokuma File #3.2

"I think I'll… start in here," Mukuro says softly to herself.

Someone else in the small storage room snorts. Junko peeks out from behind Chihiro's body with a raised brow.

"'Sup, bitch. How's that anger treating you?"

Mukuro tilts her head and furrows her eyebrows. "Huh?"

Junko rolls her eyes. "Alright, glad to know you're OK now. By the way, you said some weird shit earlier in your sickness,"

Mukuro's eyes widen slightly as she takes in the information. "I did? What did I say?"

"Well… All three of you said some weird stuff. Or… two of you, Hiro didn't really speak," Junko cups her chin and hums. "Kyoko said she heard some sounds of doors closing from the other cells after Celeste left. You said Celeste was still in the police station when you got a call on your communicator, then she left and those sounds occurred."

Leon makes a small sound of clearing his throat. "How do we know they were even telling the truth? I mean, they could've had the Liar's Disease or something,"

"Allow me to answer that!" Monomi appears and smiles warmly. She twiddles her paws together sheepishly. "I-I actually have a pamphlet big brother gave me…"

Mukuro sweatdrops. She still isn't sure why Monomi accepted her fate to be abused by Monokuma. Maybe she thought it was her only option?

The rabbit pulls a small pamphlet from nowhere and hands it to Junko. Leon and Mukuro flank the fashionista’s sides while she scowls at them.

"Ugh, you two…" She rolls her eyes.

The soldier sighs. Her light purple eyes scan over the small pamphlet as Junko flips through it.

A Guide To The Despair Disease For Idiots!

The Despair Disease is a wonderful thing, but people can interpret it wrong! Here's a perfect guide to the disease and how the process builds.

There is a building emotion in each individual that gets more and more noticeable. It can be one of five emotions: Depression, fear, anger, happiness, and lust.

Sometimes, two emotions can go to one individual by accident! This means this individual has a higher chance of remembering their past memories, and they're more determined to complete a goal. They may be silent when their goal is completed.

Fortunately, those under the full effects of the Despair Disease cannot lie! So whatever they say is what they believe to be true! If they do manage to lie, however, then they may be faking their disease. Be careful!

"That's… convenient," Mukuro mutters.

Junko hums. "You're telling me. That makes this pretty interesting…"

"Interesting? How the hell is this shit interesting, Junko?!" Leon waves his hand in front of them at Chihiro's hanging body then behind them at Toko's body. "Six of us are dead and another's about to follow! There's a fucking traitor among us, and we have no God damn clue who it is! What the fuck is so interesting that you have to troll us?!"

Junko stares at the orange-haired male and cracks a grin. "Oh, Leon… Leon, Leon, Leon. You poor boy. I figured something out,"

Mukuro sighs as Junko shoves the pamphlet in her hands and struts away. Her eyes lock onto the paper. This must be important.

New Truth Bullet: A Guide To The Despair Disease For Idiots

Mukuro pockets the pamphlet and keeps what her sister said fresh in her mind. It may be important to the case as well.

New Truth Bullet: Junko's Account

It does make her curious, though. If it was in the dead of night at the police station, and everyone knew the victims of the disease were under quarantine, why contact Mukuro via communicator?

Besides, only three people have a button to call her: Junko, Celeste, and… Toko. Could Toko have sent that message and been on the brink of death?

Curious, Mukuro lifts the communicator to eye level and stares at the last message sent to her.

Someone needed help at the police station? But the only person there, judging by how Junko was speaking, was Celeste.

… Mukuro doesn't like this.

New Truth Bullet: Latest Communicator Log

Mukuro releases a long breath and looks up at Chihiro's body. She guesses it's time to examine her corpse. The soldier has grown to hate death, yet she still craves it so much.

Her hands tremble slightly as she searches Chihiro's body for any clues that could lead to the killer's identity.

She cocks her head and narrows her eyes. Are those… lines running along Chihiro's skin? Mukuro lifts onto her tip toes and pulls at the collar of the body's shirt. There are faint lines on the girl's skin.

Where did those come from?

Finding nothing else on Chihiro's body, Mukuro decides to look around the room. She glances back at the baseball player who is standing and watching Mukuro investigate.

"Hey, Leon, I have a question,"

"Shoot,"

"Where did this room come from?" She asks while looking around. She grimaces at two barrels with warning labels on them dumped carelessly on their sides. The soldier sees a slab of wood embedded in the floor with a handle on it. Is that a trap door?

Leon shrugs. "It's been here for a while, apparently. The main way is electronically locked, and you need to play the slot machines in a certain order and win to unlock it. It's bullshit," He pinches the bridge of his nose. "Then we had this key Junko found in the trash can and unlocked it. Lot'a steps… But for some reason, the door was unlocked."

Mukuro rolls her bottom lip between her teeth as she takes in the information. "Main way?"

"Yeah, there's some other entrance into here, but I think Monokuma's just saying shit,"

Huh…

New Truth Bullet: Casino Storage Room

"Yo, Mukuro," Leon takes a small step forward, causing Mukuro to turn around. "Can I confess something to you real quick? This doesn't make me the killer or nothing, but… Last night, I was with Toko."

The girl's eyebrows rise in response. "You were?"

He nods. "Yeah, sometime around three in the morning,"

Three in the morning? Why would the two of them be awake and wandering around in the dead of night?

"I didn't do shit! I'm not even involved in the murders!" Leon panics, taking Mukuro's facial expression as one of suspicion. "I was chilling in my room when the power went out! Sayaka and Hifumi must've been sleeping 'cause they didn't leave their rooms like me and Toko… So we went and investigated together…"

"What happened?" Mukuro asks.

"I-I… We saw someone going into Electric Avenue and dragging someone else and another person behind them. I think Toko saw who it was but I didn't, and she insisted we go follow them,"

Toko going to follow a potential murderer? That's strange for someone like her. She'd probably scream and run away or… something. Or walk away silently. Just something along that line.

"Honestly, I'm convinced she saw Byakuya's ghost or some shit because there's no way in hell she saw who it was with her eyes… uh, eye… 'cause it was so dark. But, anyway, I said hell no to that and walked back to the motel. No way in hell am I going to be drawn into some murder fest!" Leon closes his eyes and clenches his jaw. His hands form tight fists and begin to shake. "I thought she was behind me… I…" Leon cuts himself off and shakes his head. "Never mind. That's pretty much all I remember."

All he remembers, huh? Mukuro doubts that.

"Did you see what direction they came from?" She cups her chin in thought. If he remembers this…

Leon hums and taps his foot. "Uh, from the police station… Yeah, that sounds about right. After that, they left and went further to the casino… Well, I think one was carrying the other who followed," He bristles back up and crosses his arms. "Hey, don't try and pin this shit on me 'cause I happened to be with Toko before she died! And the only reason we saw people was 'cause of the bright fucking moon!"

Mukuro's eyebrows raise. Geez, he's really jumpy. He wasn't like this for the other two murders, so maybe something else is distracting him. She'll ask later.

New Truth Bullet: Leon's Account

Mukuro can't be in this room anymore. It smells like burnt flesh, and that's not a smell one should get used to.

The soldier leaves the room and breathes out a choppy breath at the sight of Toko's body before her. She closes her eyes and takes a moment before investigating the writer's body.

Mukuro nods to herself and walks forward. Kyoko is examining the wound on her stomach, so she crouches on the opposite side of Toko's body.

"Toko…" She bows her head and swallows the lump in her throat. She can do this…

She picks up Toko's arm and examines under her fingernails. She narrows her eyes at the blood underneath her nails.

"A sign of a struggle…" Mukuro mutters.

Whoever has an injury must have attacked her, then. But something still nudges her mind.

New Truth Bullet: Sign Of A Struggle

"That's not all," Kyoko speaks suddenly. Mukuro jolts. "Sorry. Anyway, this piece of paper was balled in Toko's hand. It was a little hard to open, but I managed to get her hand open."

Wow, Kyoko must have some really bad hand strength. Does she not work out her strength at all? Or does her gloves keep her strength to a minimum?

Mukuro takes the small ball of paper from Kyoko's hand and uncrumples it. She reads it over.

"This… is a file?" The paper doesn't say much, only about how a few of them we're in Towa City during some "incident"--Leon, Celeste, Sayaka, Byakuya, Taka, Junko, and Mukuro herself. Half of them…? "Future Foundation…" She thumbs at the logo on the bottom of the page. She vaguely remembers Monokuma saying that name while she was sick. Mukuro looks up. "Has anyone else seen this paper?"

Kyoko shakes her head and tucks a lock of hair behind her ear. "No, and I intend to keep it that way. I only trust you because of a feeling I have,"

A feeling?

Kyoko snatches the paper back and crumples it up again. The soldier watches in bemusement.

The detective's lips quirk into a small smirk. "What? It's fun to watch the others be confused if I've read the paper or not since it's still in a ball,"

So she does have humor. Mukuro nods and chuckles softly.

New Truth Bullet: Future Foundation Paper

"This is ridiculous!" Mukuro turns her head to see a fuming Celeste. She stands and makes her way over to the gambler. "My perfect clothes are ruined and I cannot even save them because of how soaked they are!"

She's… wet? Oh, wow, Mukuro's been hanging out with Hifumi too much. She remembers their last hang out at the police station during a moment of clarity.

"She's… wet?" Hifumi bites his fingers and blushes.

Exactly her point.

"Celeste, what's wrong?" Mukuro questions with a tilt of her head.

The gambler's red eyes burn into Mukuro's soul. "Ugh… you. Fine! You wanna know what the hell is wrong?!"

The entire room stares as Celeste's accent changes.

"I had to stay with you sick fuckers all night! But, no no no, wait a minute… No, I went outside for a moment because I heard something then got knocked upside my fucking head! Then I woke up soaking wet in Electric Avenue and nearly got fried to a crisp!" She lowers her voice to violently whisper to the soldier. "And all the shit I had you collect was gone! The axe, the crowbar, everything. The only things still there are the water bottles, and they're empty. It didn't help that you didn't answer your communicator to get me some fucking wooden planks when they first went missing!"

Mukuro smiles nervously and backs up a couple steps. "Of course! Right, yes, I will… go and do something else! Not here! Bye!"

She quickly walks out of the casino. Electric Avenue… Something must be important over there.

Mukuro carefully steps around the sparkling wires and towards the back of the alleyway. She can see the spot where Celeste was because there's a large puddle of water just under a crackling wire. If she hadn't seen that wire…

Mukuro shakes her head. No, Celeste is alive.

It does make her wonder. If Celeste had been here long enough to be that wet, how long was she out here? And it's only sprinkling rain, so she couldn't even be that wet.

Hehe… wet. No, stop it!

Celeste said the empty water bottles are still here, right? The soldier searches around and finds the bottles lying inside of a duffle bag with the crowbar underneath the bag, the end dark against the ground and not very noticeable if you aren't looking.

She goes to pick up the bag when a spark shoots out and catches her metal arm in a zap, making it jerk and spaz.

No wonder Celeste didn't see the crowbar. Not only was it not very visible, she probably couldn't even get to it without the risk of killing herself.

She switches arms and quickly yanks the crowbar from underneath the bag and only receives a couple of zaps. Her brows raise at the blood on the round end of the crowbar. She wipes her thumb on it and cringes slightly at the metal-on-metal sound.

This must have been what Celeste was attacked with. The blood on it, still washing away from the light sprinkling of rain, has to be Celeste's.

Mukuro clicks her tongue and drops the crowbar back onto the duffle bag. She goes to get up when something catches her eye, a slight glint.

It's a few feet away from her, so she moves in a crouch over and looks down at the pile of… glass? She picks one of the shards up with her metal fingers and examines one of the larger pieces slowly.

This is definitely glass, alright. It's a broken spherical shape but… Why is there glass here anyway?

Taking a closer inspection of the shards, Mukuro finds that a lot of them have blood on them. What if someone got hit over the head with this, and it shattered into pieces and was left here to be washed away? But who could've gotten attacked?

New Truth Bullet: Glass Shards

Mukuro sighs. There's no other clues around here. She rises to her feet and goes to leave the alleyway.

"Huh?" She stops dead in her tracks and stares at an odd looking generator. It's rusty and worn down.

"Hi!" Monokuma appears with a giggle. "Puhuhu, so you found the generator? I only told one of you about it since they knew how to fix the wires on an old TV, but--" He hangs his head and sighs. "I guess they never put it back. Talk about a bad fortune to me!"

Mukuro cocks her head. "What's this generator for?"

"Silly, it's to power the third island! After the constant threats of closing this island down, the safety hazards, the risk of death, animatronics that come to life at night and haunt the restaurant, manga haters, employees who hate anime, a student who got meat grinded and turned into canned goods, various lawsuits, and a very very long trial in court--"

Mukuro sweatdrops. What the hell?

"--our budget has been pretty low! So, here's old genny. Ain't she a beauty?"

"... No," Mukuro says.

"What--Come on, she's got me foaming at the mouth; she's so sexy!" Monokuma blushes and turns away. "You just don't like rusted individuals, huh? That's immature!"

Mukuro rolls her eyes and kneels to get a better look at the generator. It's in terrible condition. Not only that, it's not fully powered up if the unmoving knobs are saying anything.

"Monokuma… How long would you say this generator has been fixing itself?"

"Hm? About five hours, give or take. Why?"

"And what electronic functions are on right now?"

"The lights, the cameras at the police station, and, as of now, the heating!"

So that's why it was colder inside of the casino. If that's the case, then no wonder the bodies don't have times of death. They've been in the cold of the casino for about five hours.

"How long have the cameras and stuff been on?"

Monokuma rolls his eyes. "God, you ask a lot of questions. The lights were the first thing to be fixed about four and a half hours ago, then the cameras four hours ago since there's a lot more of that, and the heating about twenty minutes ago. That's not counting the nanobots turning back on three hours ago," He sighs. "I guess I should be used to it--the questions. One of you did ask which things would go on first."

Mukuro narrows her eyes. Someone did?

New Truth Bullet: Generator

"Oh, before you go, you better check your e-Handbook! Your sister got curious, and we have a new rule!" Monokuma says before disappearing.

Mukuro pulls her e-Handbook from her pocket and clicks it on. She reads over the new rule and sighs in relief. No more than two people can be murdered at a time, so this killer can't strike again.

Unless… Are there two killers? The thought sends an uneasy pulsating feeling up her spine. There's no way two people killed Chihiro and Toko last night. She refused to believe it.

Mukuro shakes her head and carefully moves out of Electric Avenue and towards the police station. If the cameras are on, she can see who attacked Celeste and took Chihiro. Whoever it is must be the killer… a killer? She'll figure it out.

Mukuro walks into the police station and sees Hiro sitting on the floor with his crutch propped up on the wall. He's silently toying with something in his hand.

The door closes softly behind the soldier, but it's loud enough to be noticed. Hiro glances up and smiles.

"Hey, Kuro! Whatcha doing here?"

Mukuro can't help but smile at how easy-going Hiro always is. She likes that about him. He's easy to get along with and has a calming nature when he isn't spooked by ghosts or aliens or something else.

"Ah, I just came here to check the cameras," She walks over to the desk at the office side and grabs the device for the camera. Her light purple eyes stray back over to the clairvoyant. "I wanted to see if Chihiro's killer is on the cameras."

Hiro sighs and slips the object back into his pocket, whatever it was. "Yeah… Chihiro didn't deserve what happened to him,"

Right. The programmer was riddled with guilt and anger after the first trial when both Mondo and Taka died. Then she tried to change after Hina and Byakuya…

"Maybe he can get some sorta justice during the trial," Hiro leans his head back against the wall. He hisses. "My foot hurts…"

Mukuro raises her brows. "What happened?"

"I dunno. I think I might've scratched it on something," Hiro tugs at the bandages surrounding his foot and ankle. He cracks a small grin. "It started bleeding a little, but it'll recover; no need to worry, Kuro! By the way, I'm pretty sure I can walk without the crutch now since I walked around last night!"

The black-haired girl grins and turns her attention back to the cameras. Her attention is immediately grabbed by the black screen of the interior camera.

Mukuro glances up to see the camera in the corner of the room broken. The lens is shattered off and the body is dented.

Great. Now how is she supposed to see the killer?!

… Wait a minute. Mukuro rewinds the footage with some struggle to around three in the morning. Whoever took Chihiro must've come through one of the doors, so they would have been caught on camera!

She listens as the on-screen Mukuro becomes enraged by something. She's shouting about the communicator and someone calling her. Celeste makes a sound of disapproval and says she doesn't believe the soldier. There's a ticking sound followed by a slight booming sound. There's a sound of a door closing. A few minutes later, there's a sound of two doors closing, but there's no one going outside.

On the back door camera, Mukuro watches as Celeste goes outside. She's outside for around ten minutes when someone in the shadows hits her over her head with a crowbar. The only thing she can see is their scowl, the crowbar they're holding, and some spherical object they pull from their pocket.

Then the camera and audio dies for about an hour. The camera comes back on to show the axe back in frame, now lying on the ground with a lot of blood on the blade and dripping on the ground due to the sprinkling rain. The audio from the interior camera picks up the sound of a single door closing, yet no one entered the police station.

She's about to go out and investigate the axe when Junko and Sakura come out of nowhere and begin to investigate. That's a strange pair, but Mukuro is happy Junko's making friends.

New Truth Bullet: Security Cameras

"Hey, I'll be back inside in a few minutes! I want to check on something," Mukuro places the device down and walks around to the back door. Hiro makes a small sound as the door closes.

Mukuro walks past Sakura and Junko and checks the side of the building. Whatever had exploded sounded pretty close by… so maybe it's still here?

She peeks around the wall and nearly jumps out of her skin. The building is on fire! It's on fire!

Fire is burning around her. Charred flesh and ash fills her nose. Mukuro finds herself gagging on the dirty air and covering her nose and mouth with her hand.

She freezes and uncovers her face. She's… It's clear air? Confusion swirls in her chest. No, it can't be…

Focus. Don't go into your head right now, Ikusaba, the others need you… But do they really?

Shaking out of her thoughts, Mukuro goes over to the smoking box on the side of the police station with a slight stumble. No wonder she couldn't see this when walking here, the smoke is pretty much burned out by now! It would hardly be noticeable by its size.

Mukuro opens the metal box with her left hand and waves her other hand in front of her face at the fumes. Her nose upturns at the smell. It's like someone planted a bomb or something.

Once she can handle the stinking fumes, the soldier notices she's opened a fuse box. Her eyes go wide at how many switches are turned on.

"What in the?!" Monokuma appears with a roar. "I only had three switches turned on! One for lighting, one for cameras, and one for wiring to the electric outlets!"

Mukuro doesn't think that's how fuse boxes work, but she isn't an expert at that kind of thing. If only three are supposed to be switched on, then why the hell are nearly thirty knobs switched on?! It's like someone was intentionally trying to cause a power outage or something!

"Geez, I can't stand the kids of today. 'Let's steal this person's artwork', 'Let's rip off this anime with horrible fanfiction', 'Let's blow a fuse and overload the fuse box'! Rrragh! You kids really rot my stuffing!"

Monokuma huffs and leaves while crossing his arms in a pout.

Mukuro stares at the fuse box in thought.

New Truth Bullet: Fuse Box

The soldier walks back around the building to the back and watches Junko swing the axe around while Sakura pinches the bridge of her nose. Why is she doing that?

"Hey, Junko," She calls out. The fashionista yelps and drops the axe, whipping around to face Mukuro with an angry glare.

"Bitch, why'd you--!" Junko closes her eyes, takes a deep breath, and sighs. "What's up, Muku?"

Mukuro shrugs. "Nothing, really. Did you guys find something strange about the axe?"

Sakura hums. "We found this strip of cloth tied around the handle, and it was soaked in blood,"

She unfolds her arms and opens her large hand to reveal a white strip of fabric mostly tainted with blood. Mukuro walks forward and takes the cloth in her hands to examine it.

Sakura's right, this is soaked in blood. She flips the cloth around and narrows her eyes at the pattern on the back. Granted, it isn't very visible, but Mukuro has seen this pattern enough to recognize who had access to this shirt.

Around the actual blood splatters are graphical blood splatters. There's a shape of a red circle before it's cut off by the rip in the cloth.

There's nobody else who has a shirt similar to this. Nobody at all…

Then why…?

New Truth Bullet: Bloody Shirt

Mukuro sighs and hands the fabric back to Sakura before looking at the axe.

Junko smirks. "Lo and behold, my fine ass piece of evidence! Wah-cha!"

Mukuro squeaks as her sister throws the axe at her. She catches it and glares at the redhead. "What the hell was that for?"

"Look closely and think…" Junko places her fingers on her temple and points at Mukuro with the other. "Brain power…! Transfer fucking complete!"

Mukuro blinks and sighs. It looks like a regular axe.

The fashionista groans and drops her arms. "Think about it: Who's the only bloody person here? Assuming one of y'all aren't… y’know…"

Sakura looks away and shakes her head.

Mukuro bites her lip. Junko isn't saying that person was…?

… It might be a good idea to keep it in mind, though.

New Truth Bullet: Axe

"Thanks for this, you two," The soldier absentmindedly says. She tosses the axe back to Junko out of spite and snorts when she screeches and dives behind Sakura.

"What the fuck, fuck you!"

Mukuro laughs as she goes back inside.

Hiro is still sitting on the floor and is now playing with his slightly bloodied bandages. His eyes look blank before Mukuro waves at him, and he waves back.

She wonders what's wrong with his eyes. They look… eerily familiar. He's probably just tired and upset about Toko…

Mukuro stares around and contemplates. If the killer didn't get in through the front door or the back door before the power went out, then how did they get in?

Her eyes go to Chihiro's cell with the door opened slightly. The toilet is flipped on its side to reveal a wooden pallet. Wait… that's like the trap door Mukuro saw at the casino!

Mukuro enters the cell and grabs onto the handle before tugging. The door opens upward and reveals a dark tunnel below. Well… Mukuro can see the bottom just barely, but it's still slightly off-putting.

The soldier climbs down into the hole below and closes the trap door behind her. It closes and sounds exactly like a door.

She stands to full height and glances around, having to turn on her e-Handbook to somewhat see. She sees three other faint outlines of trap doors evenly spaced out with Chihiro's cell. Did they all have a trap door in their cell?

Mukuro walks down the dim path ahead of her and shines her light to see; the light isn't very effective, however, for the soldier can barely see three steps in front of her.

It takes five minutes, according to the clock on her e-Handbook, but she manages to get to the other side. She pockets her handbook and pushes up on the indent of the trap door above her. She grunts as it creaks upward.

Mukuro climbs out of the hole and ends up where she expected to be: The casino. She brushes the dust off of her body and sneezes.

New Truth Bullet: Tunnel From The Police Station To The Casino

"I hate tunnels…"

Leon gapes at her. "You just came outta a tunnel?"

"Yep,"

"From nowhere?"

"No, from the police station. You can see if you want,"

"... No thanks,"

Kyoko, who is also in the room, tilts her head. "You came from the police station, you said?"

"Uh huh," Mukuro stands and stretches her back, wincing as it pops. Is she getting old?

"... Huh," Kyoko cups her chin. Her lavender eyes glance back up at the soldier. "I have something to tell you about Toko's and Chihiro's bodies."

About their bodies?

The detective continues at her look of curiosity. "Toko had to be alive for at least ten minutes with her first injury before her killer came back and finished her off. Whatever had stabbed her tore on the lower part of her aorta artery," She crosses her arms and sighs. "She might have lived longer if it had been just the larger wound, but she was on minimal time due to the tear on her artery."

Mukuro clenches her jaw. She may have survived a little longer if it wasn't for the first stab, but Toko would have still bled out after a few more minutes. She wouldn't have made it long enough--five hours--for help or to be with someone when she died. Toko was just… alone.

Mukuro hates that.

"Chihiro has these scars on… her body. They're electrical burn scars. And the bruising around her neck from the wires was made post-mortem," She crosses her arms and stares at the soldier while she reels at the information. "I assume you didn't know this?"

Mukuro scratches the back of her head. "You don't really see electrical burns out in the Middle East… And I didn't really know to check if she died from hanging or not…"

"Fair," Kyoko admits. "But Chihiro died instantly, also, and hanging doesn't do that."

Being hung post-mortem and an instant death? Sounds fishy.

New Truth Bullet: Kyoko's Investigation

"And about Chihiro…" She glances back at Leon who's humming a song underneath his breath and tapping his foot. "I feel like this might help catch the killer off guard if we talk about it. Chihiro isn't actually a girl."

Mukuro blinks. "I apologize, I think I misheard you,"

"You heard correct--Chihiro isn't actually a girl," Kyoko furrows her eyebrows together and crosses her arms. "He is a boy."

That… can't be right. Right?

Before Mukuro can think more about this new development, a familiar sound rings through the casino. Though it's played two times before and she should've expected it, she can't help but jolt at the ominous chimes.

Ding dong! Bing bong!

"Ding dong! Bing bong! Oh… that already played? Awkward…" Monokuma sloshes his drink at the screen. "Yeah, so… Would all students please gather at Monokuma Rock! The hidden elevator will be waiting to take you underground. Upupupu... See you later!"

The announcement clicks off.

"I want you to keep what I said under lock and key," Kyoko says.

"Huh?"

"About Chihiro's gender. I believe it may be the key to figuring out the killer's identity,"

… She doesn't understand. How would Chihiro's gender help settle a trial with the killer? She wants to ask more, but Kyoko is walking away and not looking back.

With a groan of annoyance, Mukuro jogs out of the storage room and to the central island.

"Are we all here?" Mukuro asks as soon as she arrives at Monokuma Rock. She looks around. "Where's Makoto?"

Sayaka awkwardly clears her throat. "He got punished by one or the Monobeasts…"

… What? Before she has time to ask, Junko's slings her arm around her shoulders and presses her journal to the soldier's chest.

"Yo, soldier girl, tell me the deets,"

She's known Junko her whole life, so she understands what the fashionista wants. She doesn't need to say it like that though.

Mukuro explains everything she's seen and all of the evidence she's collected. She doesn't notice when Junko starts to space out until…

"What the fuck're you doing taking to me, mutt?!"

Kyo. Of course. Why couldn't she have a nice conversation with Chieko instead of wishing Kyo could stuff a sock into his own mouth?

Monokuma appears with Monomi tied up at his feet… paws? "Upupupu! Looks like Makoto isn't here today! Oh well… Yeah, he won't be here for this class trial, so get to it, bastards!"

Mukuro sighs and kicks at the sand with her boot. No more time for hesitation, then.

She climbs on the escalator and rides to the top before stepping inside of the elevator. As soon as the last student enters, the doors close and the elevator moves down.

Mukuro stands near the doors to the left. She shoves her hands into her pockets and stares at the ground in intense thought.

Someone killed again. It seems that no matter what they try to do to stop murders, someone always ends up killing someone. Is it because of the pressure? Are they just scared?

Or do they like it? Like Mukuro… Does she even like the idea of pointing her gun or knife at someone and taking their life? She's been to dozens of countries because of Fenrir, most recently being the Middle East in Oman, and she knows the experience of killing someone.

Does that make her a murderer? Or is she technically a savior because the people she killed were deemed "bad" and had to be taken out? She doesn't even know the line… Perhaps the line between hero and villain is more blurred than she thought.

She continues to think as the elevator descends into a dark pit of hellish despair.

Chapter Text

The elevator doors open with a screech.

Mukuro steps forward with the remaining students and sighs. She doesn't feel that prepared for this trial; she didn't even want to have a third trial in the first place. She didn't want any death…

The walls and lighting changed again. The change is subtle from last time, but the lighting became softer and easier to see through.

Monokuma is waiting on his throne and pouts at the silence. He throws up his arms as the students silently walk to their podiums and stand.

"Hey, what's with all the gloom and doom? You're participating in another class trial! Be happy, be excited, be bordering on the edge of an orgasm!"

Monomi thrashes in her rope binding. "They're scared, big brother! You've been nothing but a bully to them… Making them kill one another… Oh, it hurts my heart!"

"Yeah, yeah, whatever! You can't lecture me , Monomi, because I am the older brother, so that automatically makes me smarter!"

"How rude!"

Mukuro closes her eyes and sighs.

Chihiro… Toko… They're both dead.

Both… girls were taken too soon and unfairly. They didn't deserve to die how they did. They didn't even deserve to die at all!

Chihiro Fujisaki, the Ultimate Programmer… She was trying to get stronger. She wanted to change.

And Toko Fukawa, the Ultimate Writing Prodigy… She was devastated after losing the one person she believed she could love. Genocider Syo is also gone. They were both taken away from life…

Because someone murdered them.

There isn't any way of denying it. If Mukuro was to deny it, she may risk falling into despair and killing everyone in the process.

This is another trial of sacrificing one for the many. Another trial they didn't want to participate in, yet they have to. This killing game is sick and twisted.

Mukuro has to help everyone understand who the killer is and guide the trial to a close. And whoever is the killer… is to be punished.

If they can't do it…

"Before we begin, let me explain the rules of the class trial in simple terms," Monokuma says. "Your task is to reason out the identity of the culprit, and vote on who to accuse!

"Should you correctly identify the culprit, they alone shall be punished! But if you vote for the wrong person… Then everyone except the culprit shall be punished, and the culprit shall be given permission to leave the island!"

Mukuro opens her eyes and looks around the circle at the few new pictures on stands. Byakuya has a simple "X" crossing his face out, nothing fancy. Toko has a pair of scissors crossed over her neck and two pencils crossing out her eyes. Chihiro's face is covered in zeros and ones.

"... I wish Makoto was here," Sayaka glances at the podium at her side and grips her arm. "Maybe he could say something that could lift everyone's spirits…"

"Didn't Shittykuma say Mako-Taco wasn't coming to this trial? I swear, none of you ever fucking listen!" Kyo scoffs and crosses his arms. He pulls out a shared notebook and opens it. "Haha! Now I get to have knowledge, you bitches!"

Mukuro shakes her head. Kyo…

"I wonder…"

Mukuro glances over at Sakura as her arms are folded over her chest in thought. Her silver eyes are closed. "Huh? What is it, Sakura?"

The martial artist opens her eyes. "About Toko and Chihiro… What if they were killed by two different people?"

"Is that even possible?! I thought it was only one person committing murder, not two!" Hifumi exclaims and fiddles with his glasses.

Monokuma covers his mouth with his paws. "There can be two killers, of course! But … whoever killed first is the true blackened!"

True blackened…? Mukuro doesn't even know who died first!

Leon shakes his head. "I don't even know what to do…"

"Simple," Kyoko states, bringing the attention to her. She looks up. "We go through the events of the crime. We'll work things out as they go."

"If that's the case, I'd like to know something," Celeste's eyes scan over the three remaining Despair Disease victims. "Those with the Despair Disease who were trapped in their cell, will they be considered a suspect for the murders?"

Leon rolls his eyes. "Of course they won't. Why would they?"

"We shouldn't assume their status because of the Despair Disease, actually," Kyoko shakes her head and tucks a lock of hair behind her ear. "For now, let's just label half of us Group A and the other half Group B.

"Group A will be those who were in the police station: Sakura, Junko, Celeste, Hiro, Mukuro, Chihiro, and myself. Group B will be those at the motel: Sayaka, Hifumi, Leon, and Toko," The detective says.

"Ah, I see," Mukuro cups her chin and hums. "A person from each group went missing--Toko and Chihiro--and ended up at the casino. Is that where we're starting?"

"A little earlier. I heard there was an attack at the police station, and I want to go over the details there because it will tie into the murder,"

Of course. Mukuro focuses on the discussion.

"Someone was attacked at the police station?" Sayaka asks as she grabs the pink bow on her chest. "Who was it?"

Celeste sighs dramatically. "It was myself, unfortunately,"

"Ms. Ludenberg?!" Hifumi puffs out his chest and points around the circle. "Who dared to attack this lovely woman?! Who?! Answer me!"

Leon sweats. "Woah, dude, calm the fuck down!"

"If I was attacked, then the security cameras saw who it was," The gambler twirls her drying hair with a scowl. "A simple solution is to check the video feed."

Kyo cackles. "But but but! We can't do that now! We're in a trial! Gah-hahaha!"

"I detest you," Celeste rolls her eyes at him.

What she said…

"That statement is false!"

"Wait, Celeste, that can't be right!" Mukuro exclaims.

"What do you mean? That is what the security cameras are for, no?" The black-haired girl straightens her spine and glares at the soldier. "If you cannot find it in yourself to speak properly and have evidence, then you should educate yourself."

Ouch… But, she does have evidence! It's the Security Cameras.

"Actually, there is evidence that opposes the theory that we know who attacked you," Mukuro glances at Monokuma and sighs. She can't believe she has to do this. "Monokuma?"

The bear perks up. "Hm? Did'ya need me for something?"

Mukuro nods. "I need you to play the security camera feed from the back door of the police station,"

He giggles. "Sounds like a plan, Stan! What time?"

"My name isn't Stan… But about fifteen minutes after three in the morning,"

Monokuma complies, and the screens above them show the tapes from last night. Celeste is outside and is about to walk back in when she's struck with a crowbar and falls to the ground. The person who hit her doesn't show a face for the two seconds they step into the light. Then the camera cuts out.

Sayaka covers her mouth and pales. "We… didn't see who it was…"

"Indeed we didn't," Sakura says, but the tension behind her voice is noticeable.

"Wait a minute…" Hiro cups his chin thoughtfully and hums. "Why did the camera go out? Did the generator overload?"

Kyo furrows his brows. "Generator?" He flips through the pages in the notebook and frowns. "Yeah, I got nothing. What generator are ya yammering about?"

Mukuro sighs. "There's a generator that controls all of the power to the third island," She explains. "It's… shitty. I don't even understand how it keeps the lights on."

Monokuma gasps. "Watch it, you'll hurt its feelings!"

But… Hiro's right. The Generator did overload and go out.

"I believe Hiro's right, though. When I went to Electric Avenue, I found the generator there, and it wasn't fully functional yet," The soldier places her hands on the podium and nods to herself. "The cameras came back on after an hour of being off."

"Which…" Kyo snaps his fingers and cackles. "Which gave the killer enough time to hide the liar's body! How fun, it's like a stealth video game!"

There's a brief silence before another discussion starts.

Sayaka bites her lip. "But what could have caused the generator to overload?"

"I dunno…" Leon scratches his chin and glances off to the side. "It coulda been a wire being cut. Maybe?"

"How the hell does that make sense, dumbass?!" Kyo points at the orange-haired male and scowls. He perks back up, proud. "I think someone took a big fat shit and couldn't flush it in one go, so they kept flushing the toilet until it overflowed and then went down! Talk about bad luck!"

Hifumi sweats and shakily points out. "I-I'm not sure that's what happened, Mr. Kyo…"

"What?! Why the fuck not! It's hella logical!"

"No, it isn't," The idol sighs.

"Perhaps…" Sakura starts. "Could something have been overloaded?"

"Maybe… I guess we'll never know," Sayaka looks disappointed.

The soldier glances around. What that person said is true.

"I agree with that!"

"I think Sakura's correct. I believe something did overload," Mukuro states.

It has to be the Fuse Box. That's the only option.

"When I checked around the police station, I went outside and saw the fuse box smoking," She recalls as she mentally walks through her steps. "There are only supposed to be three knobs on, but there were thirty knobs switched on."

Hifumi chokes. "Th-Thirty knobs?! How did the police station not catch on fire?!"

That's what Mukuro wants to know.

"If there was a lot of power being produced at once, then that must have caused the generator to overload," Sakura nods to herself as she says this.

"Alright, so we know how Celeste got knocked out and dragged, how the power went out, and why," Leon speaks suddenly and captures the other's attention. He looks depressed. "What's the damn point?"

Sayaka blinks in shock. "Leon?"

"No, seriously, what's the point?" The baseball player makes a point to stare across the circle at the detective. "I don't see how the hell Celeste being attacked ties in with the murders. Really, I don't."

Kyoko tilts her head. "Oh? Is it because this is too hard for your tiny brain to understand, or are you just eager to get out of here?"

Mukuro flinches at the harsh tone Kyoko's using and throws her arms up. "Gah! D-Don't talk like that! It's really scary!"

"What the fuck," Kyo deadpans.

Leon, now ashen, turns his head to Monokuma and waves his hand at the two. "Why the hell are they still sick?!"

The monochromatic bear shrugs. "Eh, who knows? Side effects of sicknesses can last a little bit after you're cured!"

"Huh…" Hiro hums.

Side effects… Mukuro doesn't like those words.

"OK, I don't understand something," Kyo admits with a dramatic sigh. He crosses his arms in an "X". "If the meek little programmer chick was in Group A, why the hell was half n' half bitch from Group B killed too?!"

Mukuro cups her chin. "Well… I believe Toko went out and saw what was happening to Celeste. That's the only way she could have been involved,"

"Your argument is falling flat!"

The soldier jolts and glances at Sayaka who looks incredibly mad. "You're saying Toko saw what happened? That's…"

"Sayaka…?" Mukuro hesitantly speaks.

"I can't let you tell a lie like that!"

Mukuro swallows and steels herself. If she cannot help Sayaka understand, then this whole case may fall apart!

"You're saying that Toko was out of her motel room during the middle of the night ? At three a.m.!" The idol shakes her head and clenches her jaw. "That can't be right!"

Mukuro nods. "I know it sounds crazy, but this is our best bet to solve this case!"

Sayaka lifts her head. "Our best bet is to not rant about stuff like this! Toko isn't the kind of person to just leave her room in the middle of the night anyway without a good reason! Besides, if nobody saw or heard Toko leave, then your theory falls apart!"

"I'll cut through your words!"

Mukuro slams her fist on the wooden podium and cocks her head with her eyes narrowed. "Actually, we have someone in here who was with Toko before she died,"

That… probably wasn't the best thing to say if the tension rising says anything.

But… she has to see this through, and Leon's Account is the only way..

"Leon was with Toko before she died. They were awake and happened to go out when the power went out,"

Leon pales as the attention settles on him. He scratches the back of his head and kicks his foot slightly. "Uh… Y-Yeah, I was with Toko…"

Sayaka blanches. "Wait… so you two saw…?"

"Yeah, we saw what the hell happened! Toko was on some hero complex shit when she saw Celeste get fucking dragged to Electric Avenue!" The baseball player yells, his face turning red. "I tried to stop her and get her to go back, but then we saw the attacker carrying their helper to the casino! She… I-I let her go, then I… Fuck…"

Mukuro squeezes her eyes shut as Leon tells his side of the story. It hurts her head and chest to think about--another member of HIFAK and another friend gone. It's… so unfair to keep losing friends left and right like this!

Sakura closes her eyes. "So you did not go back to check on her, I presume?"

Leon tenses and jerkily nods. "Uh… Yeah, no, I didn't go back…"

… Why did he hesitate?

"From what we gathered, Toko was alive during the time Celeste was attacked at three-fifteen," Kyoko states as she taps her finger to her chin.

"Then… Toko was attacked at the casino?" Hiro says with a questioning tone.

"It's strange, though… right?" Hifumi inquires while he pushes his glasses up. "I mean, Mr. Kuwata said he saw Ms. Ludenberg's attacker carrying their 'helper', but we don't know who that is!"

That's… true. None of them truly know who Celeste's attacker was or who they were carrying.

"Uhhh…" Kyo frantically flips through the pages of the notebook. He bites his nails and scoffs. "Oh! Uh… J-Dog said some shit about it being obvious?"

Of course. Even when she isn't even present for the damn trial, Junko is finding a way to screw them all over by not having anything helpful to say! Mukuro clenches her jaw and sighs, shaky.

There's no need in getting mad at her… No need at all! All she needs to do is think.

Mukuro closes her eyes.

Where did the attacker and their helper drag Celeste? Electric Avenue.

Where did the attacker take their helper? The casino.

Who was the helper? Chihiro Fujisaki.

The attacker is truly the…? Killer.

"I got it!"

Mukuro gasps and opens her eyes. "That's it!"

Sakura's eyes widen. "What's it?"

"Celeste's attacker is the killer, and their helper was Chihiro!" The soldier exclaims.

Kyoko cups her chin. "It does make sense. If Leon said he saw the attacker carrying the helper to the casino where Chihiro's body is…"

Sayaka clutches her pink bow. "Th-Then Leon and Toko saw the beginning of a murder playing out!"

Leon is pale. "W-We did…?"

"Hold on," Sakura interrupts the rising chaos. "I need to know something before we continue."

Celeste blinks when the martial artist turns her silver eyes towards her. "Moi?"

"Yes… If the attacker is the killer, then why didn't they kill Celeste when they had the chance?"

… Wait, that does sound pretty strange. If it were Mukuro, she'd kill Celeste on the spot so she doesn't provide valuable information later in the trial. Why did the killer keep Celeste alive?

"Maybe the bitch ass killer wanted twin tornados to die later on!" Kyo reads from the notebook with a furrow in his brows. "'Cause… water and… God, she can't spell for shit! What the fuck is this shit!"

Leon crosses his arms. "I don't think Junko not being able to spell is the problem! Aren't you two close as hell, you should know what she wrote!"

"Hey, dumbass, me and J-Dog don't share memories! The closest thing we share is emotions, and it's gotten pretty strained for some fucking reason!"

"Don't call me a dumbass!"

"Gah-hahaha! You even look like a dumbass!"

Despite their argument, Mukuro feels at peace in her own head answering the question: Why?

Junko must have a theory in her book about the answer; Kyo practically said it. Something about water…

What would be dangerous to somebody covered in water? E-L-E-C-T-R-I-C-I-T-Y

"I can prove it with this!"

Right… Right!

"Electricity…" Mukuro mutters underneath her breath. "Celeste was covered in water, and she was in Electric Avenue…!"

At the implication, Celeste blanches. "You aren't saying the killer was waiting for me to electrocute myself! That's preposterous!"

"No, it isn't," Sakura says. She looks up with a contemplative face. "When I found you in Electric Avenue, you were underneath a sparking wire. If you had moved too close without my help, you would have died instantly."

Celeste closes her mouth with a click, finally looking shell-shocked as if she didn't know her almost murder was that close.

"Geez, if you kids are quiet much longer, I'll get bored and start hacking limbs off! No offense, Mukuro!"

The soldier glares at the bear.

"What--Big brother, that's so mean! Taking someone's limbs off is horrible and shouldn't ever be done!"

"Hey, what's the big deal? At least I'm not siccing my Monobeasts on them!"

"That's almost twice as bad!"

God, do those two ever stop fucking talking?! She slams her palm on the podium and glares at the animal duo.

"Shut the fuck up before I make you!"

Monokuma and Monomi wail. "Y-Yes, ma'am!"

"Now," Mukuro smiles and turns her attention to her mostly horrified classmates. "where were we?"

Nearly all of them have their mouths gaped open from shock. Kyo's the only one who is laughing while Kyoko is silently cupping her chin.

"Alright," Sayaka grins, a bead of nervous sweat on her forehead. "Now that Mukuro's anger is taken out… We've gotten everything with the police station attack, right?"

"I think so," Hifumi pulls on his backpack straps. "But… Where do we go from here? It's too far along to reset to the last checkpoint!"

Kyo scoffs and looks inside his book. "Uh…" Eyes turn to him expectantly. He sighs and groans and stomps his foot. "I got nothing! Or… that's what the book says to say! Whoops…"

Damn it, Junko.

Kyoko sighs. "Let me ask you all this: Who do you think died first?"

Mukuro blinks. Fortunately for her, Hiro answers first. "Huh?"

A discussion starts.

"Who do you think died first? A simple question, really, and one that can be easily answered in under five seconds," The detective says.

"I think Toko died first, to be honest," Leon admits as he rubs the back of his head. "It's just… I-I…"

"From what we heard from Leon, it's only logical Toko died first," Celeste finally comes out of her stupor and answers.

Kyoko hums at their answers but says nothing.

"And since Monokuma said we have to figure out the first victim's killer…" Sayaka puts her finger to her chin. "Then we need to figure out who killed Toko!"

"Wh-What, really? That soon?" Leon crosses his arms and looks away.

"Yeah! I mean… there should be some evidence pointing to Toko's killer, right?" The idol states with a grin.

"Unfortunately, Ms. Maizono, we found nothing at the casino that could lead to the killer!" Hifumi clenches his fist with a scowl. "Curse these mortal binds to my soul! If I were free, I could figure out the killer in an instant!"

"... I highly doubt that," Hiro chuckles as he sweatdrops.

Mukuro widens her eyes with a soft gasp.

"I agree with that!"

Sayaka glances up with a charming smile. "Hm? What's up?"

Mukuro's heart thumps, but she pushes it down. "I think you're right, Sayaka: Toko's killer left evidence behind!"

Someone's breath hitches.

To let the fact be known, Mukuro must show… that. Bloody Shirt.

"The evidence about the killer wasn't at the casino, actually, it was at the police station,"

"The police station?" Hiro asks incredulously.

Sakura nods. "Indeed. Junko and I explored around the police station after a feeling we both had,"

Kyo rolls his eyes. "I guess… Not sure, but this baby can answer it--!"

"They found a bloody t-shirt on the handle of an axe," Mukuro swiftly cuts Kyo off before he causes unnecessary trouble. The alter growls and raises his middle fingers at her.

"A bloody shirt?! That's… violent! Whose is it, and…" Hifumi pauses and cups his chin. He bites his lip and hums for a long moment.

Monokuma growls and throws his arms up. "Stop that humming! You sound like one of those damn mosquitoes that buzz around your ear that you can never. Get. Rid. Of,"

The rabbit hanging in mid-air gasps. "H-He's that annoying?!"

Hifumi sags slightly. "I-I'm not… annoying…"

"You taking forever to say something is annoying-er!" He unsheathes his tiny claws and points his paw at the fanfic creator. "Now hurry it up! Keep stalling for time and I'll end this trial with you as the killer!"

"AAAHHH! NO, ANYTHING BUT THAT! I APOLOGIZE, MONOKUMA!"

Mukuro pinches the bridge of her nose. At this point, both of them are annoying. They're pretty much disrupting the trial and keeping it from moving forward.

"Just ignore him, Hifumi…" Mukuro glares at the bear then turns back to the overweight male. "What were you asking?"

Hifumi nervously pushes his glasses up. "A-Ah… It's just… How can we be sure this bloody shirt and axe are related to the case?"

Leon pales as his jaw drops. "Besides the obvious amount of blood on it…?"

"He… does have a point, as much as it pains me to admit," Celeste folds her hands in front of her with a sigh. She glances at Mukuro and raises her eyebrow. "Care to explain why it happens to be important, Mukuro?"

Mukuro closes her eyes and nods. Of course she can… Celeste is just trying to get a rise out of her.

Whose shirt is tied to the axe? The killer's.

Why is their shirt there? To keep them from being suspicious.

"I got it!"

The soldier opens her light purple eyes, determination set deep within them. She clenches her hands into fists and nods.

"We know the axe is suspicious, right?"

Celeste sneers. "Why ask an obvious question like that? We know it looks suspicious, but can it really be connected to Toko's untimely death?"

"Yes, it can," Mukuro says. "Think about it: The only bloody person related to the case is Toko, so that blood could only have come from her! There's nobody else injured enough to cause that amount of blood!"

"Hiro is still injured, is he not? It could have come from him,"

"Th-That's not true! It only reopened stitches!"

"Since we also know Toko died with a lot of blood involved, we can conclude her killer got her blood on their shirt," The black-haired girl tilts her head and stares intensely at the gambler. Her lips quirk up. "And they tried to keep themselves clear from any suspicion by ridding themself of their own shirt! That means… whoever was wearing that shirt is Toko's killer!"

Sakura closes her eyes with a sigh before turning to Celeste. "Did that provide an answer to your questions?"

Celeste narrows her red eyes around the circle. Slow claps echo, the only sound in the room, coming from the girl. She has a small smile on her face.

"Well done. I knew you could do it,"

That's… a complete one-eighty! Mukuro sweatdrops.

"I suppose Mukuro did answer my questions--even one I wasn't prepared to share. Congrats,"

Sayaka scratches the back of her head. "Uh… What was that?"

"No idea…" Hiro chuckles.

That was just a test?!

"Now then, I feel as though we're getting closer to finding Toko's killer," Celeste smiles, easy and carefree.

Toko's killer… Are they really that close? The thought thrills Mukuro, but she's still unsure deep down. Because if it's who she thinks it is…

A discussion starts.

"Closer…? Just from that?!" Leon yells. His irritation suddenly spikes and throws everyone off. "Don't tell me we're closer, you damn liar!"

"You tell 'er, sexy!"

"Shut the hell up, Kyo! W-We don't even know the murder weapon!" The orange-haired male states frantically.

Sayaka furrows her eyebrows in bemusement. "Huh? But… it's obvious at this point!"

"No the hell it isn't! I refuse to believe it, so stop putting false evidence into the trial!"

Leon's putting up one hell of a fight, but… He's wrong.

"That statement is false!"

Mukuro points at Leon and shouts. "Stop trying to direct the conversation away from the true murder weapon!"

It has to be that, the Axe, because there's nothing else left!

"If you keep denying it, then maybe you have something to deny!" Mukuro grits her teeth. "You're trying to hide the fact that the axe is Toko's murder weapon!"

"I'll knock that statement right outta the damn park!"

Leon raises his fist. "Stop saying stupid shit like that! It doesn't make you smart, it makes you… stupid!"

"Providing clear facts and evidence won't make us stupid because it'll lead us to the killer!"

"Yeah, right! You wanna keep playing that game, then? Bring it on and I'll show you what it takes to win an argument!"

Mukuro can't let him control this argument when it could lead to the others' demise. If she lets him do this, she'll never forgive herself.

"Why're we supposed to think the axe is the true weapon? Because you said so? That's bullshit!" Leon folds his arms with a scowl. "Get some better evidence!"

"The axe is the only possible answer to be the true murder weapon! Anything else has been ruled out!"

"Ruled out…? No the hell it hasn't!" He uncrosses his arms to slam his fists on the podium. "Something smaller could have been the murder weapon. Hell, she might've been stabbed after her death! There's no way to know unless you were there!"

"I'll cut through your words!"

"No, Toko couldn't have been killed by something smaller," The black-haired girl lifts her head.

She has to use Monokuma File #3.1.

"Everyone, I want you to look at Toko's Monokuma File and see exactly what I'm about to say," She waits for a moment for everyone to take out their e-Handbooks. She crosses her arms. "Good? This is why I said true weapon. Toko was attacked by two weapons last night as stated by the file, but did you notice something?"

It clicks with Hifumi first. "Oh, I see! 'The cause of death is a single, large laceration to the victim's stomach. Evidence shows that the weapon used was heavy but easy to swing.',"

"S-So what?" Leon sweats.

"If a smaller weapon, like a knife for instance, made a clean cut like this," Kyoko points at the image of Toko's body on the device, showing the lack of ripples on her skin. "Then they'd have to be skilled enough to not cause the skin to crease or tear. However, since the cut is clean…"

"Then… it had to be one slice that did all that damage!" Sayaka exclaims.

"Easy to swing, huh?" Kyo taps his temples and grins. "I know who the bookworm's killer is! It's you!"

He jabs his fingers out and starts pointing at Sakura. Said girl blinks in surprise. "Me?"

"Yeah, you! There's nobody else it could be!"

Wait. No. No, that's… wrong.

"Unfortunately for you, I am not Toko's killer. I wish not to hurt anyone unless prompted,"

"That's a big pile of shit! Confess!"

Mukuro looks up and meets his light blue eyes. Her breath hitches at the anxiety and fear in his eyes, paleness overcoming his skin.

Leon closes his eyes and swallows. "Stop…"

Kyo sticks her tongue out. "Shut up, ginger! I'm solvin' a crime!"

"No, let him speak. I believe he has something to say," Kyoko interrupts the conversation. She glances at Leon and nods. "Go ahead."

"It was me…" Leon sounds choked up. He moves his hand to cover his face, failing to hide the tears steadily streaming from his eyes. He grabs at his hair and cries. "I killed Toko!"

Monokuma yawns. "Eh? A confession? And so soon, too!"

"No… No, there's no way it could be him! H-He said he didn't do it before, so I'll believe him!" Sayaka shouts. Her blue eyes are angry and full of disbelief.

"But… Mr. Kuwata is confessing now!" Hifumi points out.

"I don't care, he's my friend!"

Mukuro bites her bottom lip. He lied at the casino earlier--about not seeing Toko again after she ran off. He must have gotten worried when she didn't come back and…

But why? Toko was a part of HIFAK, and so is Leon. He would have no motive to kill Toko unless he was hiding something. Seeing him now, Mukuro doesn't think he's able to break any further since he's sobbing into his hands and shaking where he stands.

Sayaka is still denying it. Her head is shaking and she's gripping her pink bow tight enough that the fabric might rip.

He must have done it… She just has to think.

What is Leon Kuwata's Ultimate talent? The Ultimate Baseball Star.

What did he kill Toko with? An axe.

How was the bat used? Like a baseball bat.

"I got it!"

"Sayaka, read the Monokuma File again," Mukuro crosses her arms and looks away uncomfortably. "If the murder weapon is heavy and easy to swing… it must have been used like a baseball bat."

"H-Huh?"

"Leon used the axe like a baseball bat and swung it at Toko's body," Mukuro explains. She grimaces. "Since Leon's the Ultimate Baseball Star, he had no trouble swinging such a heavy object at his target--Toko."

Sayaka goes silent as she thinks about the image pictured in her mind. Her hands slap to her mouth as she blanches, trembling blue eyes watching Leon across the circle.

"Leon…" The soldier urges him to look at her. His face pulls slightly. "Why did… you do it?"

"I didn't want to! I promise, I didn't, b-but… but…!" The baseball player's voice cracks. His knees give out beneath him and he tumbles to the ground, his fist punching the ground. "Damn it! Damn it! Toko… I didn't want you to suffer!"

Kyoko sighs and shakes her head. "I don't think we'll get more out of him for now, so we should continue on with the trial,"

"C-Continue on?!" Hifumi gapes.

The martial artist raises her eyebrow in bemusement. "But… we caught Toko's killer. There isn't any point in staying here,"

"Isn't any point…?" The detective tucks a lock of hair behind her ear and lifts her chin. "Leon, did you kill Chihiro?"

Leon gasps and shakes his head. "I-I didn't even know she was there--honest!"

Kyoko blinks as she considers the answer, then she nods. "Leon didn't kill Chihiro. Even if Leon did kill Toko, wouldn't you all prefer to know who killed Chihiro?"

Silence reigns over the trial room, only broken by Monokuma and Monomi's bickering.

A discussion starts.

"Yeah… We should!" Hiro exclaims. "We should find out who killed Chihiro!"

Celeste rolls her red eyes. "Oh, please. We found the killer of Toko Fukawa, the first victim. And he's Leon Kuwata!"

"But we should know who killed Chihiro, too! I mean, he was our friend!" Hiro states with a grin.

Sakura sighs. "I fear we may need to vote for Leon despite wanting to know Chihiro's killer…"

"Huh? Why?" Hifumi asks.

"I thought about it some more and it's because Chihiro took her own life, Hifumi," Sakura lowers her head to hide the pain in her eyes. "She hung herself in the casino after being brought there by the killer. She couldn't live with the guilt of possibly killing Celeste."

"When you put it like that…" Hifumi bites his lip and grabs the straps of his backpack.

Sayaka squeezes her eyes shut. "Then… I'm so sorry, Leon…"

That phrase… Mukuro gasps.

"That statement is false!"

Mukuro slams her palms on the podium. Sakura isn't right! Chihiro didn't kill herself… Kyoko's Investigation proves it!

"Wait a minute!" Mukuro yells. She accidentally stops the others from voting. Breathing a sigh of relief, she points at Kyoko. "I have evidence that shows that Chihiro didn't kill herself!"

Kyoko smirks.

The white-haired girl's eyes widen as she flinches slightly from shock. "What? But… We saw her hanging!"

"Kyoko did an investigation on both Toko's and Chihiro's bodies, and when she examined Chihiro's body…"

"Chihiro has these scars on… her body. They're electrical burn scars. And the bruising around her neck from the wires was made post-mortem," She crosses her arms and stares at the soldier while she reels at the information. "I assume you didn't know this?"

Mukuro scratches the back of her head. "You don't really see electrical burns out in the Middle East… And I didn't really know to check if she died from hanging or not…"

"... she told me Chihiro had scars on her body from electrical burns! The wires wrapped around her neck caused bruising that was post-mortem since she died instantly!"

"Sh-She died instantly from electricity?!" Hifumi exclaims in disbelief.

"Affirmative. In fact, it lines up well…"

"Hold on," Hiro scratches his cheek and smiles slightly. "If Chihiro died right away… then what does that mean?"

"What the hell're you on about?! Stop butting in where the smart people talk, dimwit!" Kyo waves his fists in the air and rages.

"Did he die at the casino or…?" Hiro asks.

Kyoko narrows her eyes. "I believe Mukuro can answer that,"

What, seriously?! That's a lot of pressure to answer right away!

OK… Think…

Where was Chihiro's body found? At the casino.

Where was Chihiro before? At Electric Avenue.

How did Chihiro die? Electrocution.

"I got it!"

"S-Son of a…!" Mukuro runs her hands over her face. She winces at the chill of her metal hand, but she clasps her hands together with a curse. "We found Chihiro at the casino… but she was killed at Electric Avenue!"

"Where I was incapacitated?" The gambler clenches her jaw.

"So when the killer was carrying Chihiro to the casino, it was actually her dead body?!" The idol gags and covers her mouth.

"Precisely. Which also means that Chihiro died first," Kyoko nods at the shell shocked Leon, still crying on his knees. "Congrats. You won't be executed this time."

That was a little harsh…

"But… Ms. Kirigiri!" Hifumi cups his cheeks and cries out. He looks panicked. "I-If Ms. Fukawa and Mr. Kuwata… then he… Mr. Kuwata will get to live?!"

"That's what I said,"

Blunt… Mukuro sweatdrops.

"And we're back on square one!" The fanfic creator grips his hands into fists.

He's right. At this rate, we'll never find Chihiro's killer! What are we supposed to do?! Is this panicking? Am I panicking?! Why does my chest hurt? Why… Why? Please…

"Yo, furball," Kyo turns with the book in his hand. He states at Monokuma. "I have a question."

Mukuro wants to bang her head against a wall.

The monochromatic bear tilts his head and hums. "Huh? You have a question for dear old me? What is it?"

"I wanted to know about that shitty storage room in the casino," He reads robotically from the book. He squints his eyes. "Uh… How does the lock work?"

The… storage room? Why is he asking about that?

"Ugh, you kids ask such boooring questions! If you wanna know, the door locks electronically and with a key! I dunno why you thought that'd help the trial, but you do you!"

"Hey, J-Dog said to say it if they get stuck! So piss off!"

If they get stuck… Storage room…

A discussion starts.

"What was the point in asking that?" Celeste glares to the side at the alter who's poking his long tongue.

Kyo glares back. "I dunno, tornados! I just said what was written down!"

"That storage room just appeared from nowhere, though," Hiro admits. "When I found it, I was shocked, man!"

"Huh?" Leon sniffles and looks up in bemusement. "The storage room…?"

"From what we know about the generator and now the storage room," Sakura crosses her arms and says. "it wasn't electronically locked after the generator overloaded."

"So then the killer has a key on them for the regular door part?" Hifumi cups his chin in thought.

Kyo cackles. "Time to strip!"

"N-No!"

"But…" Sayaka runs her fingers through her long blue hair. She closes her eyes. "Why the storage room? What's so special about it?"

"Fools…" The gambler twirls her black hair with a long sigh. "It's obvious the storage room is special. It has a secret about it, I can feel it."

"What kinda hocus pocus magic bullshit was that?" Kyo cackles. "Run that by me again! I need a good laugh!"

"I can't stand you…"

A secret…

"I agree with that!"

"Celeste is right, there's a secret behind the storage room," The soldier states.

It has to be the Casino Storage Room. There's no doubt about it!

"When I talked to Leon earlier, he said that the storage room had an alternative entry and exit point," She cups her chin and taps her foot on the ground. "The proof is there."

"And how can we trust what he said? He killed Toko, did he not?" Celeste glares at the orange-haired male with contempt.

"You can trust him," Sayaka says with intense passion in her voice. She raises her fist in determination. "Because I was also there when he discovered the storage room!"

Celeste narrows her red eyes at the blue-haired idol, sizing her up before tutting. She backs off and glances off to the side with a bitter scowl.

"Fine, then. Where, pray tell, does this 'alternative entrance' lead to?"

The police station, that's the answer. And the Tunnel From The Police Station To The Casino proves it.

"It leads to the police station,"

Mukuro could see the gears clicking in the others' heads as they process what she told them. Honestly, they could process a little faster.

It's Kyo who yells first. "What?! What the hell d'you mean the police station, Poo-kuro?!"

"As much as I hate to agree, I find that unbelievable!" Celeste glares.

"Unbelievable?!" Hiro shakes his head, sweat on his brow and shock on his face. "It's not possible!"

She knew they might've been a little unopen to the evidence but not to this level. This kind of feels like a punch to the gut. Or the kidneys. That hurts worse.

Because if she's right about this… then the killer… is one of those people.

Who should the list of potential blackeneds be narrowed down to? G-R-O-U-P A

"I can prove it with this!"

"As much as I hate this, we have to consider the true blackened to be a part of Group A," Mukuro says before stammering out. "B-Besides Chihiro herself, because she was killed."

"Group A…" A grin tugs at Kyoko's lips as she nods. "Very well. If Group A is to be suspected, then those in Group B are cleared."

"Huh?" Leon is still staring into space, zoned out.

"You aren't the blackened, Leon," Mukuro tries to say as gently as she can. She awkwardly scratches the back of her neck.

"Those in Group A are Sakura, Junko, Hiro, Mukuro, Celeste, Chihiro, and myself," Kyoko states. She cups her chin and hums.

Kyo panics. "Sh-Shouldn't J-Dog not be suspected?!"

"She should be suspected, too," Sakura points out. "We both had to return to our own cottages, but we don't know if one of us left and murdered Chihiro during the night."

The alter growls and stomps his foot on the ground. He grinds his teeth together and huffs, begrudgingly agreeing.

"That said, we should remove Celeste and Chihiro from that list. Chihiro because… well," The soldier blushes. "And Celeste because she was knocked out on camera by the killer."

There's a brief silence before a discussion starts.

"So…" Hiro taps his fingers nervously against the podium. "It's just the five of us being questioned?"

"Correct. You, Sakura, Junko, Mukuro, and myself," Kyoko repeats the list of names. "So let's go over the events before Celeste left the police station."

"Again…?" Celeste seems embarrassed at being knocked out.

Kyo flips through the journal frantically. "Fuck, fuck, fuck… Aha! Junko wasn't there because of the distraction placement!"

"The… distraction?" The blue-haired idol tilts her head curiously.

"Yuh-huh! The communicator button!" Kyo taps his temple with his fingers.

"I don't think that helps?" Sayaka points out with a strained smile.

"... Well, shit,"

"It's hopeless! How are we supposed to find Ms. Fujisaki's killer now?!"

Mukuro jerks as her eyes go wide. That's it!

"I agree with that!"

"Kyo's right! I… can't believe I said that…" Mukuro runs a hand through her black hair in disbelief because Kyo's right.

"I am? I mean… Of course I'm right!" Kyo cackles before freezing. He deflates. "Why am I right, again?"

It's because of the Latest Communicator Log.

"Just before Celeste went outside, I apparently got a call on my communicator," She holds up the small device around her neck. Her light purple eyes stare at the device. "The last call came from the third island, specifically the police station."

"The police station?" Celeste's brows pinch together. "But…"

"Additionally, I did give Toko and Junko the other two buttons while Celeste had the first button,"

Celeste looks confused. She moves her hand up to her collar, feeling around for the string for the button and pulls her button free from beneath her expensive blouse.

"I think by Celeste's reaction it means that she had no idea about the button press at the police station either…" Kyoko hums.

"Then where'd J-Dog's button go?! I know she had one!" Kyo feels all over his body and scowls when he comes up empty. "Fuckers--Who stole from our body?!"

"You can calm down, Kyo," The lavender-haired girl smoothly cuts in, taking the heat out of the trial room. "We can eliminate Junko and Sakura from our list."

They can?

"Mukuro knows why,"

… She does?

"Okie dokie!" Kyo points at Mukuro. "Spill, pig!"

Pig?!

"Because… The only way the button could have been activated was if they were inside of the police station," The black-haired soldier explains. "If they were anywhere else, it wouldn't have shown in the police station."

Hifumi pushes his glasses up. "But, Ms. Ikusaba, what if they were in the tunnel beneath the police station?"

Kyo snaps. "Not possible. 'Cause the fucker had to get through electronic locks and regular locks to get to the damn tunnel, right?"

"And… I have one of the two keys…" Leon shakily stands to his feet and hugs himself protectively. "So Junko or Sakura or whoever couldn't have used the tunnel…"

"The security cameras also never caught anyone entering or exiting the building, so the killer was someone inside," The soldier points out.

"Which knocks us down to three," Kyoko folds her arms and smirks. "The victims of the Despair Disease itself."

The victims of the Despair Disease… Mukuro looks to the side at Hiro and then further over at Kyoko. One of them could have… Or did Mukuro? And she just doesn't remember?

Something still nags at the back of her mind. She closes her eyes to think. What could it be? What's she forgetting?

It's not like there's a vital piece of evidence she's forgetting, right? Has she used everything up?

A discussion starts.

"It's down to three: Mukuro, Hiro, and Kyoko," Sakura says. Nervous sweat clings to her brow.

"Are we sure it's even one of them?" Sayaka tugs at the pink bow on her chest and rocks on her feet. "I-I mean… I can't imagine any of them doing that!"

"T-Toko… I'll find who stabbed you," Leon promises with closed eyes and a clenched fist. "And make sure your attack on them won't be in vain! I ended your suffering…"

Kyo sweatdrops. "Dude, this isn't the time for anime flashbacks and shit…!"

"Don't forget about Chihiro!" Hiro points out with a grin.

"Ugh… I hate people," The alter complains.

Mukuro's light purple eyes snap to the side. What that person said…

"I agree with that!"

"Leon, what did you say?"

Leon startles. He tugs at his collar and gulps. "M-Me?"

"Yes!"

"I said I'd find whoever stabbed her and make sure her attack on them wouldn't be in vain… Was that out of character?"

Huh? He's sounding like Hifumi! How OOC!

But Leon's right and Sign Of A Struggle supports it.

"You're right… Toko did fight the killer!" Mukuro exclaims.

The screens above show a picture of Toko's fingernails, covered in blood.

"She must have scratched the killer deep enough to cause them to bleed!" She slaps her fist down into her palm and nods. Then her world goes still.

Wait… blood…

She fought, and the killer has blood… on them…?

But then…

"It was… you?" Mukuro just about slumps onto her podium with a gasp.

Kyoko looks slightly sorry. "I see you've figured it out,"

Leon breaks out of his dazed state and roars. "What?! Who the hell is it?! Who fucking killed Chihiro and Toko?!"

"He's in denial…" Hifumi sweatdrops.

Light purple eyes look at the person. This person has been there every step of the way for her. Has been her friend… And now she has to send them off to their death…

To his death.

"Hiro…" Mukuro clenches her shaking hands into fists. "You're the killer."

Hiro's eyes go wide before he breaks out into a grin and laughs. "That's a funny joke, Kuro! I don't think we should joke around like this during a trial, though…"

She glowers and curls her lip. "Cut the shit, Hiro, I know you killed Chihiro! You killed her!"

"No, I didn't! Stop, you're hurting my feelings!"

"Feelings get hurt in trials, but you killed someone!"

Hiro's face twitches. "I… did?"

It's eerily silent. Hiro starts to chuckle. Then laugh. Then cackle.

"AH-HAHAHA! I haven't laughed like that in a while!" Hiro slaps his podium and wheezes. "Whew! Ah, that's some comedy, Kuro, I gotta admit! That's hilarious!"

"H-Hilarious? Mr. Hagakure, are you feeling OK?" Hifumi wrings his hands together and shakes slightly at the sight of the cool-headed and usually chill male cackle and break.

"I'm better than ever! These jokes got me cracking up!"

Celeste pales. "What in the…?"

"Hiro, calm yourself!" Sakura demands him.

"Sorry, sorry, sorry, it's just--Pffft! Hilarious!" The clairvoyant giggles and laughs while his eyes swirl and drip with madness. "This whole situation is hilarious!"

Leon flinches as Hiro continues to speak. He bangs his fist on the podium. "Stop laughing and talk you fucking bitch!"

"Huh?" Hiro sobers up and stares blankly at the baseball player. His face has no emotion on it, signalling nothing but hollowness. "Stop laughing? That's… not funny. You all need to chill out."

Chill… out?

"Besides, I was never attacked by Toko. My stitches reopened on my heel, so it's a pain to walk but I'm managing," He smiles and closes his eyes. "I wouldn't have been able to walk from the police station to the casino and all around the third island the way I am now!"

He's… got a point. Damn it, he has a point.

A discussion starts.

"Are we even sure Hiro's the killer? I mean," Leon waves his hand in an unsure motion in Hiro's direction. "It's Hiro. He's not very…"

"But then who'd be the killer, Mr. Kuwata?! Could it be Ms. Kirigiri or Ms. Ikusaba?" The fanfic creator bites his nails and mumbles.

Kyoko lifts her chin. "I assure you I never killed anyone,"

"But you don't remember, unfortunately," Celeste says, only looking slightly frustrated at their lack of memories.

"Can it, tornadoes! They can't remember shit, but they never saw or heard anything I bet! You see how they are--They're dumbasses!" Kyo crosses his arms and growls. "I say they should shut their mouth and let the true genius shine!"

"Who, you?" Leon wipes at the tears still cascading down his face.

"No, Kyoko!" The alter rolls his eyes.

"But you just said they should shut their mouths…! A-And Kyoko doesn't even know who the killer is, right?" Hiro chuckles and glances at the detective. He sweatdrops at her silence. "Um…? Hellooo?"

Kyoko stays silent.

Mukuro relaxes her fists and places her palms on the podium. Really now…?

"That statement is false!"

Kyo shrieks loudly. "What?! What is it you fucking loud mouth?! Yell one more Goddamn time and I'll rip that fucking metal hunk off your useless pathetic arm and shove it up your ass!"

… Geez…

Mukuro sighs. "I… I have some words…?"

"Then spill it, Snake!"

Snake? Like, Snake from that video game Mukuro used to play when she was interested in stealth games?

Never mind that, she has proof that both her and Kyoko heard something the night of the murder. She bets Junko's Account will help out immensely.

"You see, Kyoko and I actually did hear something strange go on in the night… Apparently," The black-haired girl explains. She places a hand on her chest and grips her shirt. "After my communicator went off and Celeste went outside, Kyoko and I heard the sounds of doors closing, yet nobody went in or outside besides her. Where does that leave us? With Hiro being suspicious." She finishes with a nod.

Hifumi shakes his head. "Wait… But how does that prove you and Ms. Kirigiri innocent?"

"Notice how I left out one name since we aren't counting Chihiro? Hiro never spoke up and agreed he heard the noises," Mukuro glances to the side at Hiro who is standing stiffer than usual and is silent as a mouse.

"What, but he'd have noticed it, too, if he was there!" The obese male cries. He roars, thrusting his arms back and tossing back his head. "Then it is he who is the deceiver?! Scandalous!"

Mukuro nods. "Yeah, he must have snuck out of his cell and drug Chihiro out of hers, too…"

"Your predictions are jokes!"

The soldier startles when Hiro laughs loudly and claps his hands as if he's heard the funniest joke ever.

"Funny thing is, I can beat you--No sweat! Can I actually, or did I lie?" Hiro giggles. "Who knows? Maybe you can battle me for it, Kuro! Show me your drive, show me your jokes! Better make 'em funny!"

"Jokes? I fail to understand--"

"You never understand! All of this is one big hoax! Hoax, hoax, hoax, hoax, hoax, hoax!"

Mukuro sweats as Hiro slings his arm over her shoulder and pulls her in close. She grits her teeth.

"So you wanna go toe-to-toe with me? I can predict what you're gonna say! It's all about predictions! And you're gonna be my next fool to trick!"

"F-Fool?! I'm not being tricked, and you're not going to trick anyone!"

"Trick anyone? I'm not trying to do that, I'm trying to solve this trial! And to solve this, you both were lying to Junko when you told her what 'happened' last night!" Hiro shouts in triumph. "Now we can move on to something else and find the blackened!"

"I'll cut through your words!"

Mukuro shakes her head and shoves Hiro's arm, warm and heavy, off of her shoulders. He's wrong… The only way to prove it is A Guide To The Despair Disease For Idiots.

"No, Hiro, you're wrong. In fact," Mukuro pulls out the pamphlet Junko received from Monomi. She turns it over in her hands. "this pamphlet explains why you're wrong."

Kyoko hums. "Explain the exact details of the pamphlet that prove your point. Make sure he and the others understand,"

I was getting to that! Stop rushing me! Mukuro snaps in her head.

"This pamphlet tells of how the Despair Disease works, basically,"

"That's… convenient," Sayaka tilts her head and furrows her eyebrows.

You're telling me… Mukuro thinks to herself.

"Yes, it is… It says how if a person happens to come down with two emotions--those being happiness, depression, fear, anger, and lust--they have a higher chance at remembering the past," The soldier reads straight from the pamphlet. She hums. "Ah… Also, those under the disease cannot lie…"

Hiro rolls his eyes. "Wasn't that book made by Monokuma and Monomi? They could be lying to us!"

The bear growls and shows his claws. "Hey, watch what you say, buster! I had to give you that evidence because it was important to the case, and I have no reason to lie!"

"A-And he can't--" Monomi tries to speak, but Monokuma swings his fist and punches her in the face.

"Stop talking about things you aren't supposed to!"

"Uwaaah! That hurts so much to be punched like that!"

Everyone collectively ignores the duo.

"Also," Mukuro recalls some more evidence from earlier. "The security cameras back our accounts up, remember?"

Sakura's silver eyes light up. "So when you and Kyoko told Junko how you heard noises…!"

"It really was Mr. Hagakure and Ms. Fujisaki leaving their cells?!" Hifumi cups his cheeks and exclaims in disbelief. "How didn't you see them then?!"

"Because they didn't leave the cells. At least," Mukuro glances at the silent Hiro, standing and staring back at her. "they didn't exit the cell doors."

"Ugh--Stop scooching around the answer!" Kyoko waves his fists around angrily. "All the answers can't be in my book!"

"I have to agree. If they did not exit through the cell doors, then what other way is there?" Celeste twirls her hair with a sigh.

What other way is there? There is another way; Mukuro has seen it, in fact. She closes her eyes.

What made the door noises in the police station? T-R-A-P D-O-O-R-S

"I can prove it with this!"

"The trap doors…"

"The--What now?" Leon scratches the back of his head and glances away.

"Inside of the cells were trap doors," Mukuro cups her chin in thought. "Now that I think about it, they looked like they were just installed. They must've been what caused those door closing noises!"

Kyoko taps the back of her hand against her chin. "Yes, that would explain why we never saw them,"

Hiro scoffs, finally embracing the anger in him. "Explain…? This explains nothing, man! I'm innocent, and you're tryna pin this crime on me! I-I'll prove I'm innocent!"

He's… still going?

A discussion begins, tension rising.

"I'm perfectly innocent!" Hiro exclaims in a panic.

Celeste rolls her eyes. "You sound even more guilty than before…"

"But it's true!"

"Hiro," Sakura smoothly cuts in with a sigh. "You need evidence to prove yourself innocent. Do you have some?"

"Evidence… Yes, I do!" Hiro pounds the side of his fists to his palm. "I can't walk properly to get around the third island quickly!"

Hifumi sweatdrops. "W-We already know that…"

"R-Right… Oh, also, like…" Hiro folds his arms across his chest and smiles proudly. "There's nothing in Electric Avenue pinning me to the crime!"

"We never checked Electric Avenue, so he might be telling the truth!" Sayaka pales.

"Then…" Leon swallows deeply. "There's nothing we can do…?"

Mukuro narrows her eyes.

"That statement is false!"

The clairvoyant grinds his teeth as he smiles. "Huh? What's up, Kuro?"

He's trying to play dumb, but Mukuro can see the deception swirling in his eyes. She needs to use Glass Shards to prove him wrong.

"You actually are connected to Electric Avenue, proving you committed a murder--Chihiro's murder," Mukuro refuses to budge under the older male's burning gaze. "Take a look at this."

A picture of the glass shards Mukuro found in Electric Avenue appears on the screens above.

"These are glass shards I found where Chihiro was murdered--Electric Avenue. I want you all to look at the rounder edges of the glass," Mukuro watches as many people squint their eyes and look up at the screens. Her lips quirk up.

"It… kind of resembles a ball when you look at it," The baseball player admits.

Kyo snorts. "You got 'ball' from a pile of fucking glass?! How many balls you fondled in your life, man?!"

"None! Shut up!"

"But he's right ," Mukuro admits. She stares at the screens above, showing the spherical glass shards she found in Electric Avenue. "He's right…"

"What--No, he's not!" Hiro tries to convince everyone of his innocence, but nobody seems to be swayed. "This is all circumstantial evidence! I never killed Chihiro; this is one big hoax!"

"Hiro, man--" Leon tries to get a word in, but he clicks his jaw shut. Guilt and regret shows in his face, and the unspoken words are clear. "I killed Toko… I'm just as guilty as you are."

"Why're you guys trying to pin this on me?! It's a hoax, you guys are messing with me! Right?" Nobody answers. "Right?!"

Kyo swipes at his nose with his thumb. "Can't stand bitches who can't give up…"

"Can't… give up…? Me? Ha… Hahaha…"

A shot of unease glides down Mukuro's back as the clairvoyant laughs before the remaining students, unhinged and wheezy.

"Tell me, then, Kuro!" He cups his face and giggles, smile pulling into something sinister. "How did I kill Chihiro?"

She blinks. "Huh?"

Sayaka gnaws at her bottom lip. "Y-You shocked her electricity, that's it!"

"No, no, no, no!" Hiro screams and slams his injured foot against the ground. "I want Kuro to tell me!"

The idol looks taken aback as does everyone else aside from Kyoko. Did she expect a breakdown like this?

… How did Hiro kill Chihiro? Mukuro closes her eyes to think. What can she say to convince Hiro that he killed Chihiro?

Where did the killer strike Chihiro? On the head.

Did Chihiro die from the blow? No.

How did Chihiro die? By being shoved back into live wires.

"I got it!"

Mukuro opens her eyes. "You attacked Chihiro with your glass… uh, crystal ball on the back of her head,"

"Did I…? Don't seem to remember…"

Why is he being so stubborn now?!

"But you said early that Ms. Fujisaki died from electricity!" Hifumi cups his chin and raises his brow. "Are you going against your previous statement?"

The soldier shakes her head. "Not at all. I'm saying that Chihiro was attacked with the crystal ball, survived, and was then shoved back into the live wires," She crosses her arms and glances off to the side. "She died instantly, and Hiro carried her to the casino to hide her body in the storage room."

"Where Toko confronted him…" Leon grips his trembling hands into fists and yells. "Then… Then what the hell was she attacked with?! Hiro couldn't have carried a weapon like the axe and Chihiro's dead body at the same time!"

Kyoko tucks a lock of hair behind her ear. "Leon, where'd you find the axe?"

The baseball player falters. "Uh… near the slot machines? O-Oh… You think he left the axe there as a backup…?"

"Perhaps he did… Hiro must have carried a smaller weapon at the time and stabbed Toko with that," The detective explains with a patience Mukuro wishes she had. "It would have to be decently sharp, small enough to carry around, and could go unnoticed."

That could be literally anything.

Kyo swipes through the book before tapping the page with his fingers. "Some locks required two for faster unlockage…"

"Fucking what?" Leon snorts. Kyo and Mukuro both grimace at the sound of mucus and unshed tears.

"Shut the fuck up, Chuckie Finster!"

"You bitch!"

Mukuro cups her chin as she thinks about Kyo's--Junko's--hint. What's she hinting at? Locks and… Wait, Junko's must be talking about that.

"Keys… Key! Hiro has the other key and used it as a weapon!"

Hifumi's eyes widen. "Mr. Hagakure has a key…?"

"As in…?" Leon takes out the key to the casino and stares down at it in his palm.

"Correct," Kyoko nods.

Sakura furrows her brows together. "But if Hiro had that key the whole time, does that mean he had access to the storage room for a while?"

"He's been planning this for a while?!" Celeste exclaims in disbelief. She suddenly pales as her crimson red eyes go wide. "Th-Then… He gave me a warning…"

A… warning? Mukuro looks at the shocked gambler, standing at her podium and looking unsure and not confident at all. It makes the soldier's heart thump in slight fear because Celeste has never acted like this before.

Another discussion starts.

"A warning?" Sakura tenses and stares over at Hiro with a slight frown. "Please explain."

"Before meeting with you all at the beach a few days ago, Hiro gave me a piece of paper," Celeste says, not daring to look up from her podium. "It had some of our names on it, and…"

Hiro shakes where he stands. "Stop slandering my name with these lies! These jokes aren't funny!"

"It…" She grimaces. "I can't… remember. If only I kept a hold of it and didn't throw it away…"

"Aha! That's peak liar material!" The older male grins.

"But why was it a warning? I don't understand," Sayaka tugs at the pink bow on her chest.

"He told me 'Two down, five to go'!" Celeste shakes--shakes--in shock and fear, eyes glazing over. "I-I didn't take it seriously, but…!"

"Ms. Ludenberg…" Hifumi mutters.

"Who cares what she says? She's a liar, and this hoax has gone on too long, man!" Hiro angrily shouts. "Paper or not, she's a natural liar! She could be the traitor working for Monokuma and that Future Foundation paper could screw our trust over!"

"As much as I hate to say it…" Leon scratches the back of his head and trembles slightly. "He has a pretty good damn point."

Hiro smiles. "Finally…"

Mukuro gasps.

"I agree with that!"

"Hiro… you're right," She says.

"Huh?"

"What?!"

"Mukuro, what?!"

"Interesting…" Kyoko hums and taps the back of her hand to her chin with a slight smile.

She can't believe she's agreeing with the blackened of all people, but the world is crazy sometimes. What's also crazy is how royally Hiro screwed himself over, and now she needs to finish him off with the Future Foundation Paper.

"You know Hiro, you're so very right about that Future Foundation paper,"

Hiro preens. "Yeah! I am, aren't I?"

"Besides Celeste…" Mukuro places her hand on her chest and grins. "Did you know only Kyoko and I saw that paper?"

Hiro's mouth clicks shut. It opens with a soft croak. "Huh…?"

"Mhm! Nobody else knew that the papers you mentioned belonged to Future Foundation at all!" She tilts her head. "So… How the hell did you know, Hiro?"

A line of sweat drips down the clairvoyant's temple. "I-I…"

Sayaka covers her mouth with her hands, now fully convinced of Hiro's guilt. Celeste is still standing still and muttering to herself, shell shocked. Hifumi is trying not to… cry? He looks constipated…

Sakura clenches her jaw tight and growls under her breath. Leon is pale and wide-eyed. Kyo is… asleep? Kyoko is watching with a neutral stare.

In fact, all of them are watching Hiro for some kind of explanation. Hiro is standing there, stammering to no one and gripping his crutch tight.

"Aha… Ha…" He chuckles.

"I think we're done here…" Sakura states.

"There's a hundred percent chance you're all wrong!"

Mukuro startles when Hiro slings his arm over her shoulder once more and cackles into her ear.

"So you're just gonna keep going with his hoax, hm? Keep pinning this crime on me when I was locked up the whole time?!" He laughs through his next sentence, eyes swirling with a tint of red. "I'm done playing nice now!"

The soldier pushes Hiro's arm off of her and prepares for a battle.

"C'mon, Kuro, you can't believe this!"

"Lalalalalala!"

"I can't hear you! I can't hear you!"

"Pffft--Hahahaha!"

"It's all a hoax put together by these people!"

"Aren't we friends? Friends believe in each other!"

"Heehee…! AH-HAHAHA!"

"Too many funny accusations flying around, Kuro, believe me!"

"Stop it! You're being mean to me!"

"HIFAK won't survive with two members! You need me!"

"I could never hurt anyone!"

"Chihiro… I don't know much about him, but he wasn't killed by me!"

"You're done for!"

Chihiro's True Gender

Hiro pants as the trial grounds fall silent after his one-sided screaming match with Mukuro. He straightens and goes to open his mouth to speak, but the black-haired girl beats him to the punch.

"You know…" Mukuro wipes at her eyes to keep the moisture pooling at her lids from falling. "You keep saying something that nobody else has said for Chihiro."

"He has?!" Everyone but Kyoko exclaims.

"You keep referring to Chihiro as 'he' and 'him' and 'his', when everyone else has been using 'she', 'her', and 'hers'... Strange," Mukuro shakes her head. "It's almost like… you knew Chihiro Fujisaki was actually a boy the whole time!"

Hiro makes a choking noise and slaps his palm over his mouth. He pales yet flushes brought red at his mistake.

"Ms. Fujisaki was actually a…" Hifumi cries out in despair. "Mr. Fujisaki?!"

Leon gasps. "Holy shit!"

Monokuma cocks his head to the side. "Huh? Of course Chihiro was a guy! I thought you guys were playing dumb to make him feel better about himself, but wowie you all are dumb! Puhuhuhu!" He grabs at his round stomach and throatily laughs. "Upupupu…! If you want more proof, check his e-Handbook!"

The bear shows Chihiro's e-Handbook information on the screens above. There's a tense silence as everyone processes the information given to them, and the facts are clear: Chihiro Fujisaki was a guy disguised as a girl.

"That means the paper file was the first motive," The gambler deduces. She hums, finally acting like herself. "Before this Despair Disease nonsense came… this was the first motive Monokuma spoke of. The one I threw away."

Kyo groans. "My brain huuurts… And I had a fuckton of the answers!"

Mukuro sighs and looks away, trying not to stare at the man she just figured out is the blackened. "I'll go from the top… just to be sure we have the right person,"

"This is what happened!"

"Before I begin, I want to clarify that some of the details in this case may be… vague due to the fact that we don't truly know what was felt, done, or said. I'll be going over the main points and piece together everything as best I can to make everything clear.

"This case begins with Celeste and the first killer, the blackened. The blackened had given Celeste a note of warning using the first motive as a catalyst, but Celeste shrugged off the paper. She tossed it in the trash…

"Fast forward a day to where everything kicks off. The blackened, who had stolen Junko's communicator button when being helped to the police station, pressed the button and made me mad enough to distract Celeste. With that much pressure and tension built up in less than a second, the fuse box exploding outside broke the camel's back. Celeste went outside through the back door, unaware that the blackened and their helper escaped until the blackened knocked her unconscious.

"The blackened doused Celeste in water and left her underneath a sparking wire, hoping she'd electrocute herself when she woke up. With a witness now on their hands, the blackened struck Chihiro on the back of his head with a glass ball. Unfortunately for the blackened, Chihiro was still alive, so they shoved him into the wall of wires which killed him instantly.

"Due to the fuse box exploding, it caused a power outage over the third island which happened to alert Leon and Toko who were awake at three a.m.. They investigated and saw the blackened dragging Celeste to Electric Avenue before returning to the casino with Chihiro's now dead body.

"Toko followed the blackened to the casino after Leon refused to get involved, but… she was attacked by the blackened. She was stabbed in the stomach and managed to grab onto the Future Foundation file the blackened had pulled out of the trash some time after Celeste threw it away.

"While Toko lay on the ground bleeding to death, the blackened staged Chihiro's death to look like a suicide and then escaped back to the police station. The blackened, however, was unaware that Kyoko and I heard them leaving and coming back. They also didn't know we would tell the truth of our experience.

"Leon went to the casino during the short amount of time Toko was alive. I assume he went there out of worry when he realized she wasn't returning to the motel. But… when he got there, he found Toko bleeding out on the floor with minutes to live. Not wanting her to suffer anymore, Leon grabbed the axe that was inside the casino and swung it at Toko's body…

"Leon left the casino after killing Toko and headed towards the police station. He removed his undershirt which had been doused with Toko's blood and tied it to the axe before pinning it into the ground. He left back to the motel as the power was being restored to the third island.

"Although, yes, Leon was the one who killed Toko Fukawa, that doesn't change the fact that the true blackened killed Chihiro Fujisaki… and that person is you! It could have only been you, the Ultimate Clairvoyant, Yasuhiro Hagakure!"

Mukuro does even realize her shoulders are shaking and her breathing stutters until she looks at Hiro.

Hiro… her friend…

Hiro… a murderer…

Hiro glances down at the soldier and sighs. A smirk breaks out over his face as he kicks his crutch away from his podium with his uninjured foot.

"I guess I can stop this charade now," Hiro says. He doesn't even look remorseful or fearful like Taka or Byakuya, respectfully. "Never did like putting up this stupid mask… At least I can be free now!"

Mukuro flinches away at his nonchalant attitude. She backs up past the picture frame of Toko's face and stands beside Leon who's pale with guilt on his face.

Kyoko crosses her arms and raises a brow. "You can be free? What's that supposed to mean?"

Hiro snorts. "Like I'd tell you! You never did much after what happened when Hope's Peak went--"

Monokuma growls, annoyed. "Hey, hey, hey! No spoilers or I'll have your execution start early!" He sweatdrops and sighs. "Besides, it's voting time! Who will be chosen as the blackened?! Will you make the right choice or the dreadfully wrong one?!"

Everyone enters their votes.

"Wow, oh wow, oh wow!" Monokuma hops off of his throne and lands next to the seat, standing proudly with his paws on his hips. "Three times lucky! Maybe that Makoto fellow gave you guys his luck before he went kaplooey!"

The clairvoyant drools as he stares at the bear, cupping his hands together and swaying back and forth. The sight is sickening and makes Mukuro's stomach churn uneasily.

"Ahhh… It's been sooo long since I've felt this good!" The older male stretches out his spine and cracks his neck. "Since I've hurt anyone with my own hands! Good ol' memories…"

Sayaka looks pale. "S-Since you've… hurt someone?"

A sardonic chuckle escapes Hiro's mouth. "I guess you all wouldn't remember that… Two years is a lot of time to forget,"

"Two years… I have a question for you," Sakura uncrosses her arms and stands taller, more threatening. "Do you know who the traitor is?"

Hiro's spiraled eyes slither to the martial artist. He brings his hand up and taps his chin thoughtfully with his finger. "The traitor, huh…? Of course I know them!" He giggles. "They work for Monomi and World Ender! Well… work for is a loose term."

Celeste narrows her red eyes. "Who are they, pray tell?"

"... What? Why would I tell you guys that?!"

Mukuro grits her teeth. "Even if knows the traitor, he has the Remembering Disease. He's a different Hiro than the one we knew, so I doubt he'd tell us…"

Hiro claps his hands together. "Great job, Kuro, I knew you'd figure me out! But I have a few problems with your review…" He counts on his fingers. "First of all, Chihiro was the one who wanted to kill Celeste, not m