Chapter 1: Three MCs
Makoto in-denial. Hajime cooking. Shuichi returns from work.
Why does this sound like a family setting?
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Naegi Makoto may have won the lottery to become a student of Hope's Peak Academy. Still, he and several others had to live in the reserve course dormitory with two other students to pacify the Reserve Course(?)
One of his roommates looked like his long-lost older brother, tired-with-life mom friend Hinata Hajime. Hajime enrolled due to the grant offered to him by the school to participate in a special project. Too bad said project succeeded in their first attempt and no longer needs him. However, Hajime was a smartass
when pissed and managed to grab a scholarship for himself.
While Hajime was a year higher than his current year, Saihara Shuichi was a batch lower than him. Shuichi was a part-time student, occasionally asking Hajime for notes when he skipped class to finish work. Shuichi was the reserve detective in the strictest sense of the word. After the Reserve Course made a riot for equal rights, the school redefined the Reserve Course 's objective.
[Reserve: retain for future use.]
Shuichi could have been an Ultimate Detective, but he lacked something . Whether it was fame, skills, or accomplishments, the reserve _____ wasn't exactly much of a big deal. However, once they fulfilled the criteria, the reserve _____ becomes an Ultimate .
If Luck could be measured, Makoto has a good feeling he'll be kicked to reserve luck student with how crazy Komaeda Nagito's talent was. In fact, Makoto doesn't believe he's lucky. He's just an ordinary student whose luck rose highest during Hope's Peak Academy's annual lottery.
"Cut yourself some slack." Then, as if Hajime could hear his internal monologues, the 3rd year reserve course student spoke as he continued to answer the module. "You're not just the Ultimate Lucky student, but you're also the Ultimate protagonist."
"Ultimate protagonist?" Makoto blinked, lowering his game girl. "I am not."
"Befriended everyone in the Main course campus, constantly optimistic, speaks like an idealist and neverending levels of trust..." Hajime elaborated, never looking away from his textbook. "The final nail to the coffin is your talent. Your luck is your plot armor."
"I don't think we can have two titles at the same time..." Makoto knew there was someone with multiple talents, but Kamukura Izuru was given only one title to describe his talents. "No, no, no. We can only have one title for simplicity's sake."
"If you say so, protag." Hajime, who finally accepted his false title as Makoto's older brother, closed his book and set it on the table. "Usually, you'd be out hanging out with your friends this weekend, but you aren't. What's up?"
"You know how ordinary I am, right?" Makoto returned to his last thought before Hajime interrupted him. "And you know I like Kirigiri-san, right?"
"Did you get your bisexual awakening?" Hajime stood up, stretching his arms before heading to their communal kitchen.
"N-no!" Makoto stuttered, remembering Shuichi's gay awakening after the detective realized he was in denial. Then again, Makoto has considered his classmates to be fairly good looking-
"I really think you're bi but sure. Whatever." Hajime began mincing garlic and onion for dinner.
Hajime, Shuichi, and Makoto agreed to pool their resources and have Hajime deal with the food to cut expenses. Hajime relented because he always cooked his meals before coming to Hope's Peak . When buying school material or other items, Shuichi is their man with how much the detective criticizes and compares prices in the market. Shuichi frequently traveled to different parts of Japan to solve cases, but that still wasn't enough to earn him an Ultimate title. Makoto? Makoto is the guy who convinces the duo that life is worth living. Hajime and Shuichi found the reserve course, in general, to be taxing. Makoto also gives the duo information on what's going on in the Main course, which is different from what the school feeds the reserve course.
"Did you confess and get rejected?" Hajime broke his line of thought, already turning on the stove and pouring the rice from yesterday into the wok. "Or are you debating on confessing during the Summer party?"
"I... The latter." Makoto glanced at the table and at the invitation letter, he showed his roommates yesterday. All Main course students are to participate since VIPs and news reporters will be attending the charity event. "I uh... Failed to ask her out. She was busy today."
"You chickened out." Hajime corrected. Makoto heaved, aware he was delaying the inevitable. Thankfully, he has a roommate who's really empathic despite his prickly demeanor. "And you don't have anyone to go out with to the party. You two are already friends, so just ask her out on the event itself."
"That's not easy, Hinata-kun." Makoto raised his hands, unable to flip the metal table. "Not only will her father be there, but also her grandfather. What if I mess up and her whole family rejects me?!"
"Better now than never." Hajime flipped the rice in the wok. Setting down the wok, Hajime scanned the kitchen while holding the wooden spoon. "For a second there, I thought you realized you have a harem."
"What? No. Why do you keep thinking I would have a harem? I'm not that popular." Makoto filled the thermos and started heating the water for the tea. "I was actually... Hoping if you two would like to come with me tomorrow?"
"Our exam starts next week, and you want us to attend tomorrow's party?" Hajime opened the fridge, getting sidetrack. "Saihara will have to buy the groceries soon."
"Your exams are next week?" Makoto almost forgot the Reserve course has a different examination schedule compared to the Main Course. "Why is Saihara-kun still working?"
"Dunno. He's going to sacrifice sleep to study everything." Hajime scoffed, grabbing frozen gyoza packets. "If Saihara's going, I might as well come with."
"But you told me you guys have exams?" Makoto set their teapot on the table, opening the cabinet to see what tea leaves they should try today. He trusted his gut, grabbing a random pack and placing some leaves inside the teapot.
"Yeah, but you and Saihara are my kouhai," Hajime admitted, prepping the pan. The brunette set the gyozas in, grabbing a lid to cover the skillet pan. "Saihara and I can also be your chaperone in case something bad happens to you."
"I'm back." Shuichi opened the door, wearing his uncle's agency uniform. He entered the room, closing the door. "Ah... I can come with you, Naegi-kun."
"Wait. You were listening?!" Makoto looked up after he filled the teapot with hot water. He needed to wait and let the leaves steep. "How long?"
"Not long... Hinata-kun's words gave it away." Shuichi removed his cap, removing his uniform to wear something casual. "I know you enough to be aware of your actions."
'I wonder if Kirigiri-san also sees me in the same manner?' Makoto set the teapot aside, preparing the chopsticks and teacups for the tea.
"What's the dress code?" Hajime set the bowls filled with fried rice and served the gyoza on a plate. The duo sat down, waiting for the tea and Shuichi to return.
"Formal masquerade party." Makoto glanced at their closet, recalling to only see an array of reserve course uniforms from either roommate.
"Want me to help you rent one, Hinata-kun?" Shuichi offered, finally sitting down.
"Nah. I'm good." Hajime contemplated, "But seriously? A masquerade party? In the middle of Summer?"
"Maybe... They want to *yawn* protect the VIPs' identity?" Shuichi yawned. Both Makoto and Hajime agreed that the idea sounded right.
"If that were the case, Saihara has to buy the groceries tomorrow afternoon," Hajime warned, letting Makoto pour tea into their teacups.
"Wait. Why not morning?" Shuichi gave a silent thanks to Makoto.
"We're studying tonight for the midterms," Hajime explained, and Shuichi almost dropped his teacup. "Unless you want to make a fool out of yourself by sleeping in the party. Just imagine if he-"
"I get it. Don't say his name." Shuichi set his cup down, grabbing his chopsticks.
In Hajime and Shuichi's eyes, Makoto is naively popular. [Makoto just wants to confess to his love interest.]
In Makoto and Shuichi's eyes, Hajime is extremely hardworking. [Hajime only wants to graduate and get out of the hell called Reserve course.]
In Hajime and Makoto's eyes, Shuichi is quite talented. [Shuichi wants both of his roommate's desires, whichever happens first.]
Chapter 2: Two MCs
Shuichi enters the party with Hajime for Makoto's sake.
Saihara Shuichi didn't want to enroll in Hope's Peak Academy. His screenwriter mom coerced him to enlist, wanting him to bond with the other rich kids in the Reserve Course. His actor dad was pretty passive to his mother's demands, which both Makoto and Hajime believed to be why he was submissive to women.
Speaking of roommates, Shuichi didn't plan on living in the school's dormitory either. Not only was it far from his uncle's office, but he wasn't used to living all by himself. Too bad he had 'hidden' talent, which the school wanted him to develop. The bad news, Shuichi had to share space with two guys. The good news, they're pretty decent people.
Okay. Maybe Makoto livens things a little with his neverending optimism and series of bad luck.. At least he had Hajime to help him catch up on schoolwork. The Reserve Course was no joke, teaching advanced subjects his colleagues cried uncle on. Shuichi couldn't even rely on his main course student friends either, hearing they're taught what most schools teach.
Returning to the case at hand...
When they entered the Summer ball charity party(?), Shuichi will admit he didn't think of meeting his ex-girlfriend: Akamatsu Kaede, on the first hour of the party. Hajime and Makoto were definitely judging him when he didn't tell her the true reason they broke up a month ago. In fact, Shuichi doesn't even want to replay or let anyone read how awkward their conversation was.
"If we weren't with you, I wonder what she had in mind..." Hajime remarked after the Ultimate Pianist left. However, seeing Kaede meet up with another Ultimate, Hajime added. "Maybe make you jealous with her possible new boyfriend?"
"Akamatsu-san isn't like that." Shuichi chuckled, recalling his friend to be pretty upbeat. It was because of her that he met Class 79-C, then... "Besides, we only got together for a span of two months."
"Eh. Better than Naegi's attempt any day." Hajime shrugged, checking the next wave of guests. "Well shit. I stick out like a sore thumb."
"That's what you get for picking a tuxedo at random." Shuichi shook his head. When he and Hajime went out to buy a tuxedo this morning, Hajime surprisingly chose a bright shade to his color. Hajime's tux is banana yellow, while his suit is golden yellow. Makoto's tux is mocha brown.
"Why didn't you tell her the truth?" Makoto whispered, staring at him with concern. "Isn't the guy you like in her class?"
"Wouldn't it be hilarious if she's dating-?" Hajime was about to recklessly utter his name.
"Shhh!!" Shuichi hushed both of his roommates, covering their mouths with his hands. The detective made a quick scan to see if he noticed. Nope. Good. Shuichi returned his gaze at his roommates, lowering his hands and hissing. "We do not speak of his name !"
"What is he, Lord what's-his-name?" Hajime teased, and Shuichi lightly pushed Hajime's shoulder.
"More importantly, what if he sees you wearing that tuxedo?" Makoto panicked on his fellow ahoge ally's behalf. "You two match clothes. If he finds out, then he might dig up your past and..! You're never going to get laid."
"Yes. The single invincible army grows by the hour." Hajime hummed, having long chosen the path of a scholar after witnessing his parent's "wonderful" relationship. That's the explanation Shuichi came up with as to why the brunette could survive independently, with or without resources.
"Anyways, Naegi-kun. You can go to your friends first." Shuichi coughed. While Makoto points out that he and Kaede's clothes will cause suspicion, Shuichi has no plans to pursue his romantic interest. Two out of three of them understood the complexity of the potential relationship between him and his crush . It's not going to work. Makoto's the only one who believes everything will work out, but his roommate has always been optimistic. "We'll watch from the sidelines."
"Are you sure? I don't even know where you guys can hang out." Makoto scratched the side of his cheek with one finger, also being the smallest one in the team.
"We'll be fine. The night would be worth it if you confess already." Hajime waved it off, already checking the table.
"Don't listen to him. Take your time." Shuichi smiled. Hajime and Shuichi knew what they signed up for. Both are aware their naive roommate led them to a shark's den. "It would be better to meet and explain to your peers why we're here before making a move. Don't say everything, though, unless you're confident that the night will go well."
"All right. If anything bad happens, don't hesitate to call me." Makoto told them, but he still wasn't moving. Shuichi can't blame him, recalling the first time he met with the Ultimate Detective. Kirigiri Kyoko is as calm and objective as any veteran detective, but the albino accomplished it at a young age under the direct tutelage of Kirigiri Fuhito. It made him wonder why the school believed he could have such a grand title compared to someone as accomplished as her.
Not all cases must be solved...
"There you go again, sulking." Hajime interrupted, tugging him away. Shuichi allowed the brunette to drag him to the sides. Once they reached an inconspicuous distance from the dance floor and entrances/exits, Hajime spoke. "Are you going to be okay?"
"Yes." Shuichi didn't need to answer, but Hajime was pretty dense sometimes. The detective scanned the room once more. He took note of the electrical pathways, the number of paths to escaping the room, the ornaments on the walls and ceilings, the party set-up arrangement, and the rate of people entering the room.
"What are the odds of Naegi-kun's luck triggering?" Shuichi felt concerned. This party suddenly became a death trap after he checked the variables. Makoto's luck hasn't activated since last week. A bad or good sign?
"Pretty high." Hajime pointed in a direction, and Shuichi turned to see the Ultimate Makoto shared titles with. "Remember last time when these two were together? My class thought for sure they'll cancel each other's luck."
"But it didn't. The entrance ceremony was in flames after the principal's speech." Shuichi covered his mouth, about to do some probability when he saw another so-called Ultimate with luck enter the room. "I don't know what happens if there are three people with Ultimate luck."
"Right. Kamukura... Maybe he can cancel the bad luck?" Hajime proposed. "But what if he cancels the good luck?"
"I don't think that's how luck works." Shuichi cracked a smile, but Hajime seemed to disagree. "I'm serious. With the number of VIPs in the area, the chances of something bad happening are high."
"Nine o'clock," Hajime stated, and Shuichi had to look and see-?! Hajime nudged his shoulder, "I guess he's coming over. If you need help, text."
"Hinata-kun!" Shuichi failed to grab his retreating roommate and unable to retreat from his crush without looking suspicious.
Chapter 3: One MC
Hajime looked down to play games. When he looks back up, Hajime learns Makoto is held captive and Shuichi is panicking.
Hinata Hajime wanted to be someone, someone he could be proud of. Hope's Peak Academy offered him that chance... Only to reject him before the semester ended!
Something snapped that day, and it's not his sanity. Hajime wouldn't have met his dorm mates if he did. Hajime simply realized the futility of being a damn try hard! He's going to simmer down, learn to accept his shortcomings...
His parents would've been proud of him if not for the fact they aren't busy paying his first year, the first-semester tuition. Hajime really didn't think things out when he accepted the Hope's Peak special grant program. Thankfully, Kuzuryu Natsumi hooked him up to a scholarship organization. All Hajime had to do is maintain his grades and participate in some of the organization's events. Hajime wanted to get a part-time job or offer his stipend to alleviate his parent's burden, but they told him to use it for his own needs.
"Is that Galaga Anniversary?"
"Yes." Replying to the stranger's question, Hajime was thrown out of his thoughts. It seems the story wouldn't give him time to recall embarrassing details (involving his roommates). It's all because he decided to play one of his retro games on his phone.
"Even though it's such an old game?" The girl wondered in awe, inching closer to look at his screen. "Based on the preemptive strikes from the aliens, you're playing in Hardest mode, right?"
"Why not? I have time to kill." Hajime paused his game, watching his two roommates with their respective crush, then spoke to the female with strawberry-scented hair. "Shouldn't you be with your friends?"
"I uh... haven't seen them yet..." The girl stood beside him, pulling out her phone.
"I see." Hajime returned to his game, all the while listening to Shuichi trying his best not to act and Makoto still mustering his courage to ask the big question.
"You should ditch the emo hat, Shumai." ??? expressed at random, and Hajime got a GAME OVER because he looked up to see Shuichi's reaction. The Ultimate wasn't teasing for once when he said this, staring at the detective with interest. "You look good without the hat, seriously."
"That's because the hat wouldn't match the attire." Shuichi couldn't maintain eye contact with his crush as he explained the predicament. "And wouldn't wearing a hat in an indoor area be odd?"
"Not really~" The Ultimate shrugged, turning his gaze to a certain group.
'That's definitely not normal.' Hajime thought, scanning the room and seeing more individuals hiding their faces. 'Are they even guests?!'
'I have a bad feeling about this.' The brunette looked back at his phone, texting and sending messages to confirm his suspicions.
"Hey..." The female spoke up once more, and Hajime looked away from his phone. "Is it okay if we try playing co-op? I've never played Galaga's multiplayer mode before."
'Shouldn't you ask your friends?' Hajime was about to ask, but he noticed the girl had a Galaga hairpin on her hair. The girl also seemed earnest on her intention. 'Is this her attempt to making more friends? Well... It is hard to make friends with the opposite gender in the reserve course... But what if she's an Ultimate?'
"Sure." Hajime relented. Talented or not, people are people. They all have strengths and weaknesses. Hajime opened his game once more, trading codes with her. "Hinata Hajime."
"Nanami Chiaki." The girl answered in turn, and Hajime waited for the game to sync.
As the game progressed, Hajime will admit he wasn't paying attention to anyone or anything. The brunette will also confess to ignoring the messages or the screams in the background-
"?!" Both Chiaki and Hajime paused their games when a bullet grazed Hajime's mask. Hajime wore a Usami-themed face and mouth mask, which are sold separately. Whoever shot him managed to cut the mouth mask and make it fall to the ground.
"I said get on your knees!" The assailant demanded, and both high school students realized they might have been too invested in the game.
"S-sorry." Hajime apologized, and both of them knelt down. Hajime quickly checked his messages to read the replies. There was a truck ton of them. 'According to Saihara, Makoto confessed to the wrong person. How the hell did he do that?! And right on time, bad luck in the form of a terrorist organization infiltrated and got a hold of the VIPs. Some people fought back, got injured, etc.'
"Definitely an insider job." Hajime agreed with Shuichi's conclusion, especially after reading the replies from the friendly security guards who were assigned to the venue. "RIP reserve course security."
"I wonder what they want?" Chiaki mumbled, scanning the crowd as the principal had to try talking down the people to release two of the Steering Committee members. "Anti-Talent resistance?"
"Aight. We gotta get out of here pronto." Hajime heard enough to know what's going to happen afterward. Hope's Peak Academy has tight security on its premises. Anti-talent would obviously make the head of security believe reserve course students helped these people get in. That eventually leads to any reserve course student inside the ballroom being detained for interrogation. Ergo, Hajime and Shuichi will skip their exam if they don't get out of this place before the identification. Hajime texted Shuichi. 'We might as well drag Makoto with us too. Just to be safe.'
FAITH: this day cant get any worse
FINALE: Why did you say that?!
FINALE: We have to get out of here.
FINALE: @START Mind us!
FINALE: @START please!
(Last 51 minutes ago.)
START: was playing a game.
START: @FAITH ???
[FINALE attaches picture]
FINALE: He's in the middle of the crossfire.
START: But I have a plan
FINALE: It better be safe.
[START deleted his message.]
FINALE: Knew it.
START: The odds are not in our favor
FINALE: You never plan logically when you're hungry.
START: Do you have a plan that will benefit us?
FINALE is typing...
"Thanks for the cover," Hajime whispered, using Chiaki to hide his phone as he typed. Everyone is either kneeling, sitting, or lying on the ground. The so-called resistance had a speech prepared, and the tactician will admit they were lucky that everything went according to plan.
'This is what happens when there are three lucky students in one room.' Hajime did his best not to laugh because all three of these Ultimates were simultaneously hit by bad luck.
FINALE: You got me on the last part.
START: I thought so. Anyways, we need your gun.
FINALE: God damn it, Hajime! How am I going to explain I have a gun then?!
START: Who said we're going to get caught?
FINALE: You do know there are cameras in this room, right?
START: They installed basic cameras and placed them in common areas. Stop overthinking.
FINALE: Can we not use the gun?
START: We are using the gun, and we're going to take Makoto with us!
FINALE: Does it involve any killing?
START: No. Killing them would only increase the support this resistance gets from the public.
"I have to go." Chiaki urged, but Hajime kept her down. The gamer looked at the scene, stressed because some of the students there are her classmates?
"Unless you're talentless, then go. If not, don't bother." Hajime told her point-blank while still typing on his phone. "If you want to help them that badly, I'll need to borrow your phone."
"..." Chiaki quickly pulled out her phone, and Hajime used both hands to text.
START: Blackhat confirmed my suspicion. A group of reserve course students allowed these people inside. Students, who are unable to move on from the Hope Cultivation project? Thankfully, students are willing to agree to my plan if it means getting out of here.
(START shared a link.)
FINALE: WAIT, WHAT?!
START: I know, right? It's either they're scared of head security, or they haven't studied the test. I can't blame them if it's the former. Fuck that guy.
FINALE: You know that's not what I meant!
START: Blackhat isn't a hacker. He's the reserve course secretary who likes hats.
FINALE: The Hope Cultivation project controversy!
START: When I give the signal, disable the lights.
START: North exit.
"Here." Hajime returned the phone. Before standing, he whispered close to her ear. "Memorize the layout before the lights go off."
Chapter 4: Reunion
Makoto gets saved by Hajime, eventually reunited with Shuichi to end the night getting drunk with sugar.
NEXT: Next day
When Makoto accidentally confessed and presented his cherry blossom bouquet to his classmate: Togami Byakuya, the Ultimate luck student obviously got scrutinized by the other Ultimate students.
Makoto already expected a flat-out rejection, but to see Kyoko staring at the gift intended for her? Makoto ran off. He was about to meet up with his roommates when thugs pointed a gun at him. He wasn't sure what's going on, but these guys were serious in bringing retribution on the death of the students in the Hope Cultivation Project controversy where-
"What the?" As the lights went off, Makoto sat up, watching a mobile bulletin board block the bullets aimed at his rabbit-mask-wearing roommate. What timing! Among the three of them inside the shared dormitory, Hajime was the most impulsive and sarcastic person who knows the most about living without parental authority. Hajime is also the tsundere in the group.. and most logical in the team.
More gunshots were heard, but there was also the loud sound of a serving cart?!
"Hold on!" Hajime's voice caught his attention, and Makoto raised his arms and allowed Hajime to swoop him up. Makoto was dragged and pulled onto a precarious ride.
"Thank god I work out!" Hajime quickly turned to rest his back on the cart, able to grab something underneath the cart. Makoto was too stunned to move. They were on a cart rushing straight to the window?!
"Stop! We're going to fall!" Makoto clung against the metal cart, but his fellow ahoge ally didn't stop the cart. Makoto looked down and saw the cart heavily modified to carry such a feat. There was no turning back!
"That's the plan!" Hajime cheered, swatting the bullets aimed at them with a plank? "When the cart tilts, don't resist physics!"
"What do you mean don't resist physics ?!" Makoto watched them go even closer to the glass pane. There was no rail to stop them. Once they break the glass, they're both going to fall down. "We're on the tenth floor-?!"
"Just trust me!" Hajime finally switched position, tossing the board and destroying the glass.
"Fineeeeeeeeeee!" Makoto agreed, but falling from the tenth floor of the New Main Campus building was not something anyone can get used to! They were both falling-
Were those trampolines?!
"Fuck!" Hajime let go after they bounced and went diagonal - straight to the forest.
"Hajime!" Makoto quickly grabbed Hajime close before arriving at the next trampoline.
"..." The brunette was busy searching for his mask, disgruntled. "I was going to use that mask!"
"Didn't you tell me not to resist physics?!" Makoto yelled as they got catapulted by another trampoline. How the trampoline was set is unknown to him, but this is actually fun. Had Makoto known this was all set-up, he wouldn't be screaming in the first part.
"Yes! But! I need that for the last student council meeting!" Hajime yelled back, and they were finally caught by a couple of huge nets. They then rolled and stopped on a cushioned mat used in the gym, hearing claps from a group of students.
"G-guh..." Makoto slowly looked up, staring at a handful of students holding plank cards: 10, 9, 8, and 100 ? That last card got him. Makoto sat up, a little shaken from the life-and-death experience.
"Thanks for the save, Hi-" Hajime was sitting up, rubbing the back of his neck.
"Didn't I tell you to call me Daisuke? Sheesh." The probable mastermind of the trampoline set-up stepped forward to reveal themselves to be... a reserve course student. "Anyways, Akira told us all of the reserve students have been safely evacuated from the ballroom."
"Good. If they really want to catch the culprit, they'll have to suspend exams." Hajime stood up, dusting his pants. "Though, I have a feeling the student council elections will get delayed."
"Naoko doesn't mind~ She likes Natsumi-chan!" The female holding the 100 plank card cheered.
'They're all reserve course students...' Makoto blinked, watching Hajime interact with his fellow department colleagues. Hajime did say half of the population in the department are rich, but he didn't think they'd be this rich to quickly set up the area!? Makoto squinted, 'Also, they seem to like Hajime!'
"?" Makoto felt the vibration in his pocket, grabbing his phone to see an influx of text.
'Too many...' Makoto pursed his lips. His group chat with his class, private messages from his classmates and friends, then his group chat with his roommates. Makoto opened and answered each and every one of them, trying to be ambiguous as possible. Finally, he reached the group chat where Makoto has a good feeling is where all the planning occurred... Maybe?
START: I know, right? It's either they're scared of head security, or they haven't studied the test. I can't blame them if it's the former. Fuck that guy.
FINALE: You know that's not what I meant!
START: Blackhat isn't a hacker. He's the reserve course secretary who likes hats.
FINALE: The Hope Cultivation project controversy!
START: When I give the signal, disable the lights.
START: North exit.
(One hour ago.)
FINALE: Were you bullshitting, or did you calculate the ammo used by the resistance with the number of guards disabled based on the reports from the link?
FINALE: I mean, I'm not insulting your intelligence. I think it's pretty amazing you got that right. You even included the possibility of human error in the body count and bullet injury.
START: All BS.
START: I'm more surprised Natsumi managed to flip her captor and used his body as a shield.
FINALE: Oh hey!
START: Forgot we have a child in chat.
"Hey!" Makoto glared at Hajime. The Ultimate's already standing and holding his phone, waiting for Hajime to leave his group. Makoto looked back at his phone, typing.
FAITH: Doesn't that mean someone died in the ballroom?
FINALE: Surprisingly, no.
START: In theory, yes.
FINALE: While the majority managed to escape, some of the injured were left behind. No deaths, as far as I can tell in the camera feeds.
START: We'll have to disconnect and erase the trail soon. The school's going to buzz.
FAITH: Hopefully, they'll find out after you guys finish your exams.
START: =_= Do we have to?
FINALE: -_- Do we have to?
"How is the school going to correct their mistakes if they don't know anything?" Makoto nudged Hajime's shoulder as they walked away from the group. "I don't know what happened when the video was released, but-"
"The school has all the answers. The fact they kept the controversy a secret means they have plans of solving the issue without external influence." Hajime answered curtly, staring at his phone. "Sadly, their solution failed, which caused the latest incident."
"Then what can they do?" Makoto asked, and Hajime looked at him with an odd look. "You know how the people work there, right? You did help Saihara-kun adjust."
"Let's be honest..." Hajime sighed, pocketing his phone and wiping his injured cheek with a handkerchief. " I don't know. That's like finding an answer to my problems."
"And they're not working. At all..." Hajime kept his napkin.
"Pessimist." Makoto huffed, finally returning to the main road.
"Realist." Hajime corrected, and Makoto checked his phone to see one lone message from Kyoko. Although Hajime placed a different mask to cover his face, which was removed during the trampoline jumps, Makoto knew people would find out his absence once the emergency lights in the ballroom activate. Hajime peered over his shoulder, asking. "Shouldn't you answer that?"
"... Later." Makoto kept his phone. Makoto gave his excuse and reassured his friends that he ran out of the ballroom during the blackout. He can't...?
"Over here!" Shuichi yelled, waving his hand at them.
"Wow! He found us fast!" Makoto exclaimed, running off to meet their friend.
"He merely followed the direction of the trampolines and took the main road leading closest to the school's exit." Hajime ran behind him. They're finally out of the forest. Hajime wondered, "So what happened with you and the phantom thief?"
"Er... I'll deal with that tomorrow." Shuichi placed a hand on his chest, staring at the ground for a moment until he glanced at Makoto. "How about you, Naegi-kun?"
"Same hehehehe..." Makoto scratched the side of his cheek, looking away.
"..." Hajime looked at both of them before he sighed the second time. "I guess we can go try the newly opened karaoke Kuzuryu was talking about... Ice cream karaoke?"
Chapter 5: Exam week
Shuichi takes the test, visits Hajime afterwards but needs to rush to Makoto.
That night, they all went to the ice cream bar Hajime's friend: Kuzuryu Natsumi, suggested. Shuichi expected the establishment's owner to be part of the Kuzuryu clan, considering the security and the warning symbols before entering the premises. Fortunately, Natsumi owed Hajime a favor, and they managed to get everything free for the night. Then, things went downhill.
Shuichi didn't expect ice cream to give all three of them a hangover the next day. With the number of carbohydrates given to them, a sugar crash was inevitable... He couldn't recall what happened after they ate the reached the second to the last flavor, but he knew Hajime made them all walk back to the dorm.
*DING DONG BING BONG*
'The best way to normalize one's sugar level is to balance this week's meals...' Shuichi closed his eyes, sitting on his chair and waiting for the teacher to enter the room. Today is the start of their week-long exams, and he is a hundred percent ready for today's exam.
Shuichi started the day clutching his head from a painful buzzing headache, accidentally kicking Makoto below the belt. Makoto's scream and Shuichi's barrage of apologies woke Hajime, who was sprawled on the floor. Despite experiencing symptoms similar to a fever/hangover, they were all forced into action. Because Makoto's class was at a later time, the Ultimate elected to cook everyone breakfast. Shuichi dived straight to the couch, grabbing his bag to pull out and review the volumes of Literature his teachers assigned for the semester. Hajime grabbed his phone and rushed into the bathroom, predictably reading notes shared by his class while taking a bath. As soon as Hajime got out, the brunette ordered Shuichi to read the notes sent in their group chat to skim the quick reviewer of the stories discussed from the previous FIRST YEARS. Shuichi did just that, almost tripping while removing his brief because his eyes were on the phone. Once Shuichi got out of the bathroom, the detective heard Hajime teaching Makoto terms, theories, and relevant information of various literary works. Hope's Peak Academy was merciless in their Reserve Course department. The usual length of the midterm and final exam for high school would be two to three days, not a week-long exam!
Since their grades and reputation were on the line, neither reserve students sat down to eat. They multi-tasked. Their mouth was used to discuss having an agreed diet plan for half a week's worth to recover from the sugar crash. Their eyes were trained on their phones, reading refreshers and memorizing passages their teachers expect to see verbatim. Their limbs moving to dry and dress in uniform. Finally, their mind was organizing and keeping everything clean and stable.
'Do I regret having them as roommates?' Shuichi wondered, looking up at the ceiling. He has been living with the duo for an entire year already, so he should have enough data to make a verdict. The local detective recalled all the fun times he had with his roommates, ignoring this growing sense of fatigue and dizziness creeping at him. 'Staying in the dormitory beats home any day.'
"Clear your desks and set your bags at the back." The teacher entered the room with a bag filled with booklets. Shuichi wondered why the teacher looked pale but then remembered what happened last night. The infiltration of the Anti-Talent Resistance was predictably assisted by reserve course students. The majority of the security guards assigned to the Reserve Course building have been killed, which may inspire the delinquents to go against the authority or their fellow students. Because Shuichi received no notice from the Hope's Peak Academy group page, classes will continue.
'But not everyone in the security team is dead...' Shuichi stood up, grabbing his bag so he can place it at the back as instructed. The remaining security team is assigned to monitor the Summer party. During their karaoke night, he did discuss with Makoto and Hajime the possible outcomes of tonight's events. Information gathering is the usual course of action to minimize panic.
'Then again, the head of the security team is impulsive.' Shuichi sat back down on his seat, waiting for the teacher to supply the pen with engraved words: CHEATING OF ALL FORMS IS PROHIBITED. Hajime wasn't the only one who suffered from the wrath of the guards. Shuichi didn't believe they were that harsh until he accidentally overstayed his welcome and went out of the Main campus past curfew. 'All that make-up tutorials forced on me finally had some use.'
'Surely, they'll go for the pacifist method.' Shuichi clenched his stomach, feeling unnecessarily anxious. Undoubtedly, the administration will ask the Reserve Course's student council about what occurred in the building. Shuichi knows the reserve course lost faith in the school after the Hope Cultivation Project controversy. He did note the reserve course's student council being very consistent regarding its self-autonomy.
'If they really want to solve the case, they'll have to dig deeper.' Shuichi exhaled, twirling with the freebie pen from another sponsored company. Shuichi was glad he befriended Hajime. The tsundere was his informant on the latest controversies and events revolving around the department. The student council is merely a fraction of the bigger picture. To be honest, Shuichi is curious how all these skilled unknown students worked together during the tragedy. He did read reports and watched the news about the sudden PARADE of the reserve course... Only for the reserve course to unknowingly back down after a couple of weeks. His parents called it a parade, but his uncle considered it to be a failed revolt. 'What exactly happened in that parade?'
After the exam was over, Shuichi dragged himself out and debated whether to head back to the dormitory and sleep until dinner or search for Hajime so they can eat lunch together. His senpai is sure to start lecturing about the possible math formulas to be applied tomorrow. If Shuichi wants to feel positive and alive, he'll call Makoto. He and Hajime were very boring, only having academics, politics, and controversies as the common topic for discussion. Makoto didn't think about those things. In fact, talking with the Ultimate Lucky student was a little refreshing... Like tasting honeydew after a long journey under the harsh heat of the desert.
'It's decided.' Shuichi will search for the spiky-haired tsundere and eat lunch with him. Then, they can face time Makoto, so they won't bother with whatever difficulties the lucky student is undergoing. Makoto was the Class Representative. None of them can offer Makoto a concrete solution after learning their kouhai confessed to Byakuya and not Kyoko. 'Best not to call immediately.'
Finding Hajime wasn't tricky. Hajime was either in his classroom, the hallway outside said classroom, the computer lab on the ground floor, or the lounge close to the main entrance. The tsundere is rarely anywhere else. Shuichi respected his decision but will admit his senpai's routine are very predictable. Not like he was any better. Shuichi either hung out in his classroom, the computer lab, and the other campus with Class 79. However, a mere gut feeling can easily guide anyone to where Hajime would be. It was why Makoto could easily track Hajime and not him during their game of Hide-and-Seek. Based on the previous incident, his intuition, and Hajime's thought pattern, Shuichi felt the need to check the computer lab first. Heading to the ground floor, Shuichi pushed the door open and saw his roomie. Strangely, Hajime was the only one there.
"You're here," Shuichi remarked, closing the door and walking towards the irritated brunette. While Shuichi experienced reoccurring headaches, dizziness, and short bouts of anxiety, Hajime was irritated with everything and everyone while sometimes breaking into chills. A sick Hajime is never a compliant patient. Sadly, Makoto's symptoms were more concerning. Before they left, Makoto vomited the breakfast he made, so Hajime stayed behind to cook the brunette a meal. Makoto looked a little pale and lethargic, insisting all he needed was sleep. Shuichi asked, "Are you worried about Naegi-kun?"
"Partly," Hajime replied, having multiple web pages open. He wore earphones, listening to a video on his phone. Shuichi recognized the video to be a Livestream of some... Wait.
"Where did you get the link?" Shuichi stared at the logo hung behind the male, whispering, "Hinata-kun. You shouldn't be listening to this. You could get expelled."
"Better expelled than dead," Hajime mumbled, typing something down. Shuichi averted his gaze and saw the group chat quickly being overfilled with messages. "Take the black book in my bag and visit Naegi. Now."
"All right..." Shuichi grabbed the so-called manual and flipped the pages. The detective felt sick when he learned of the implications. "The resistance only spent an hour in the school. They can't have possibly..."
"They killed a majority of the security guards for a reason." Hajime didn't look at him, but he sounded annoyed. "Let's not forget the agents within the system. If the school proceeds with its emergency protocols, the suicide bombers will blow up as soon as they locate a large body of students in close proximity."
"If the student body all knows what's going on, it will be difficult to handle the situation without alerting the agents and raising suspicion." While Hajime talked, Shuichi tried contacting Makoto, but no response. "He's currently in the meeting room..."
Shuichi was already out of the door before Hajime could finish his sentence. The detective knew the possible outcomes once he learned from the watchers that the Resistance dispatched most of the security within the premises. It made sense for the Resistance to create a contingency plan and take their enemies with them.
Chapter 6: Questions
Hajime not feeling under the weather like the rest of his roomies, enters the meeting room, and leaves with a tired Shuichi.
Sending Shuichi off to save Makoto, Hajime and ten others begrudgingly had to isolate themselves to track down the traitors without getting caught. They already dispatched six search teams composed of around four suicidal students to deactivate the bombs. Each unit is guided by two security guards. Since the last incident diminished the security number and the school has yet to replenish its numbers, the administration thought it was good to station only twelve security guards to protect the Reserve Course students. Fantastic!
[The bombs will trigger after LUNCH.]
Since Class 1-C confirmed the jammers in their area are offline, Shuichi's attempted phone call to Makoto established the cause of the security leader's reluctant acceptance of their proposal. The school must have activated the jammers to prevent signal-triggered bombs but failed to consider the security team's archaic communication system. Talentless protecting talentless, huh?
Usually, threats would be handled by the student council. A.K.A. Kuzuryu Natsumi and company. However, the principal requested the students' presence for today's meeting. The same meeting Makoto is attending with other Class representatives. This was no mere coincidence, but Hajime's head hurt far too much to overthink.
"In the end, I'm still heading to the damn meeting," Hajime mumbled under his breath, running down the hallway with the best bomb squad security member trailing behind him. Hajime needed the best because he'll need someone with a keen eye to locate and defuse a bomb in a short time.
'I guess they didn't listen.' Hajime noted the lack of Ultimates on the hallways. Once the Reserve Course building was deemed safe, the security team rushed out to the various posts on the campus. Hope's Peak Academy is huge AF, but a couple of the traitors they found confessed that there are ten *beeping* bombs in total. FYI. The Reserve Course only had four, and Hajime knew one of the bombs exploded based on the private-owned fire truck shooting streams of water towards a burning outdoor gym. It's likely the administration ignored his friend's advice and proceeded with the emergency protocol. The four evacuation zones being: the outdoor gym and the school courtyard. 'But the second suicidal bomber didn't trigger, I guess...'
'What if there's a shooter in the room?' Hajime hesitated, reaching their destination. 'What if we find the bomb at the last minute?'
"I have fifteen minutes to find it, kid." The man explained, and Hajime turned to look at him in surprise. Makoto and Shuichi did say he was an open book, but was he that predictable?! The man chuckled, "I'm going to do fine. Get in there."
"As soon as we enter, you have to scan the room and be on your guard," Hajime warned, placing a hand on the doorknob. His hands are shaking. Takeout food is starting to look like a viable option for tonight.
"Entering..." Hajime muttered, opening the door and letting him and his new ally in while someone continues to talk. Closing the door, Hajime paid attention to the participants in the area. It's a given to have the Student Council in the room, but he expected more people. 'Then again, the students might be helping security find the rest of the bombs.'
'If I were a bomb, where would I be?' Hajime thought to himself, standing awkwardly at the entrance while the guard roamed around to check the area for the oh-so-familiar bomb. Hajime couldn't blame the students growing a minor concern to seeing a bomb squad member roam the meeting area judging from the man's attire.
"Who might you be?" The most humane person, the principal of this school and potential father-in-law of Makoto, asked to reduce the tension.
"A reserve student," Hajime replied, arms crossed to stop his hands from shaking. He could usually tolerate a high dosage of sweets, but the lack of sleep and the stressful environment are getting on his nerves. He and Makoto made eye contact, and Hajime forced himself not to ask a question to his roommate. 'Not the wisest idea.'
"So? Why are you here?" Natsumi scoffed, and Hajime turned his gaze at the reserve course's student council president. Despite being his first friend in the reserve course, Natsumi was a pain in the arse with how much of a troublemaker she was. She always wanted to stick out, and that got them in a lot of trouble. The blonde grimaced, "I told you to sleep. You look like shit."
"Making sure there's no bomb inside. We have ten minutes before detonation." Hajime replied, looking back at his comrade, who didn't seem to be making any progress. "I'll leave once the bomb is found."
"I still don't know who he is..." One of the students mumbled, and Hajime ignored them in favor of staring at the reserve course student council secretary. She was clenching her stomach, looking as pale as Makoto. She couldn't look at him in the eyes, which was strange.
"Right..." Natsumi may act like a thug, but she had the presence of the Greek Goddess Athena during tense discussions. "Hinata's our ex-student council advisor."
"Shouldn't that role be for a teacher?" Someone(?) asked, and Hajime watched the girl wipe her mouth with a handkerchief. She knew he's staring at her, quivering under his gaze.
"Yeah, but the teachers were usually killed on sight during the Parade..." Natsumi's right hand and Vice President of the student council rambled. "Now that I think about it, last year felt like a blur to me... I doubt we can stop the second Parade as is."
"Isn't it why we're here? To prevent that very tragedy?!" The Ultimate student council president exclaimed, probably having a lot of trauma from the events before, during, and after the Parade. "And yet you insist on keeping it under wraps."
"Because the mastermind is definitely an Ultimate!" The reserve course's Public Health Committee head yelled back, holding her hands in front of her chest. "How can we trust you guys when everything in this school is so discriminatory?!"
'She wouldn't... Would she?' Hajime squinted, reminded of how suicidal the resistance tends to be. He knew each and everyone member of the student council, aware of how much the pained female adored her father. Hajime looked back at the vice principal. 'Is he, or is he not a part of the scheme?'
"There's no bomb!" The security guard called out, but people in the room were already focused on the unfinished concerns. Hajime didn't care about the chaos, already narrowing down the alternate means to transporting the bomb into this area without detection. The guard checked the live footage, inspected the nook and cranny of the area, and checked the students' bags. One area left...
"Where's that shitty bomb?!" Someone, a female, screamed behind Hajime.
"?!" Hajime turned around, seeing Shuichi clenching his knees to take a breather and the Ultimate Inventor holding a beeping device...?
"Iruma-san's... Device can't specifically pinpoint... the bomb's location..." Shuichi panted. "But t-the last bomb is indeed here."
"Maybe there's a glitch to your device?" Someone wondered, and that made the strawberry-blonde female mad.
"Do you know who the fuck I am?!" The woman was mad, and Hajime judged Shuichi for having such a loud friend. "I'm Miu fuckin' Iruma, the one, and only legendary Ultimate Inventor! I don't make mistakes."
"Anyways! We have five minutes to defuse the bomb." Hajime increased the volume of his voice so these guys would shut up and think in their heads instead. Hajime finally found an ally amongst the strangers, hoping this guy would be nice enough to work without further questions. "Matsuda, you know how to perform surgery, right?!"
"... God damn it. Every time..." The Ultimate Neurologist raised his sleeves, ordering the students as he walked to the most suspicious reserve course student. "Get out of my way."
"E-eh?" The girl hugged herself, and Hajime turned away as the crowd got noisier. Hajime knew he could trust Matsuda Yasuke, regardless of how controversial the activity would be.
"What are you going to do to my daughter?" The vice-principal inquired, his voice growing louder, and Hajime rubbed his arms. "Unhand her this instant!"
"Matsuda-san!" The Ultimate Student Council President seems to know Yasuke. That's nice. Hajime swore the neurologist was too antisocial to have friends. "What are you going to do with that scalpel?"
"Cut her open." Matsuda didn't sugarcoat. This guy was the one who treated his and Shuichi's gunshot wound last semester without writing it on their records. Sadly, Hajime now owed the guy an explanation.
"What was that about?" The security guard asked him, and Hajime looked at the adult.
"The bomb might be where her kidneys should be..." Hajime shrugged. "I was hoping they stuffed it in her rectum, but whatever... They are extremists."
"Now that that's over with..." Hajime then looked back at Shuichi as the adult ran to where Yasuke would be. "Do we have enough money to buy takeout?"
"I think we do?" Shuichi stood up, resting a hand on the doorframe. "But how about... Pringle?"
"Pringles," Hajime repeated, deciding to head out of the room. His job here is done. Next stop: the dormitory. 'Kuzuryu can handle the rest.'
"Just Pringles." Shuichi proposed, walking right beside him. "We might fall asleep and have our food taken by our dormmates like last time."
"True... I guess we can." Hajime relented. He was too tired/annoyed to think. The two of them venture down the stairs.
"Sheesh! No wonder y'all got blue balls." The female teased/insulted the two tired reserve course students. Hajime's more surprised the student chose to follow them than watch the chaos inside the meeting room. "How the hell are you dorks going to get laid if yer lazy as fuck?"
"Irumi-san. The Reserve course promotes celibacy." Shuichi kindly explained the painful existence of a reserve course student. Academics and sports are the top priority. Everything else outside that norm will be ostracized.
"Oh damn. Blue balls for life, huh?" Shuichi's classmate remarked. "That sucks. No wonder you hang out with a gorgeous genius like me!"
"Must be nice having friends..." Hajime sighed, ignoring Shuichi getting teased/insulted by his friend.
Chapter 7: Answers part 1
Makoto brings people over.
Shuichi a little overwhelmed at the amount of people.
Next: part 2 (since this is long...)
Today's meeting was supposed to be the reserve course student council narrating what happened during the Parade. The Parade was last year's month-long tragedy, which was triggered by the Hope Cultivation project controversy.
Everyone knew there was more to that, and the likelihood of repetition increased after the latest incident last night. Unfortunately, the Reserve course students gave them a watered-down version of the incident, having a scripted answer to every question. Even when the security guards rushed and alerted the Head of security about a real bomb threat scattered in the school, the reserve course students were as indifferent as ever.
"Yeah, but the teachers were usually killed on sight during the Parade..." The Vice President of the reserve course student council looked up at the ceiling in contemplation. "Now that I think about it, last year felt like a blur to me... I doubt we can stop the second Parade as is."
Makoto knew Hajime as someone hoping to get into the Main Course, but he never thought the PARADE might be the reason why Hajime permanently gave up on his goal. Makoto already got Shuichi to talk about his experience during the PARADE - utter chaos with the extreme urge for vengeance against Hope's Peak Academy, but Hajime kept his lips sealed. They were roommates, and an annoyed Hajime meant no good food. Makoto liked Hajime's food.
Unfortunately, some people want to have a talk with Hajime. Makoto already asked if they can visit tomorrow, but these guys were adamant. It also wasn't helping when one of the students who want to talk to Hajime was Kyoko.
"I really think today's not a good day." Makoto tried to persuade once more, aware the reserve course students are staring at their group. It was very rare for Ultimates to visit the Reserve course dormitory. The Reserve Course dormitory isn't as grand as the dormitory reserved for the Ultimates, but at least this place made his younger sister feel less envious of his current enrollment in the school.
"We are aware." Kirigiri Kyoko won't deny it. She did see his roommate's mood last lunchtime. Unfortunately how that won't stop his classmate from getting some answers. "That's also why we're bringing them food."
"Yeah, but bribing Hinata-san... Isn't that too much?" Makoto stared at Matsuda Yasuke carrying a plastic filled with kusamochi. Makoto can't do anything when it's this guy. The Ultimate Neurologist did encounter them in some questionable circumstances, mostly because of Makoto's unpredictable luck.
"There's no such thing as too much when the brain registers the concept of dessert." Yasuke glanced beside him. "That reserve also owes me. Don't know about these four..."
"Tsk!" The Ultimate Yakuza refused to answer. He, too, was bringing food just like the rest of the adamant visitors. Based on the surnames, Makoto knew Kuzuryu Fuyuhiko wanted to know Hajime because of his sister: Kuzuryu Natsumi.
"I may have met him last night, but I consider Hinata-kun one of my friends." The Ultimate Gamer explained. Makoto did recall seeing Hajime playing a game with a girl last night. Although Makoto's glad Hajime might finally have a love life, Nanami Chiaki is one of the popular girls in school. It's not obvious because of her class.
"There may be active threats still lingering around the area.." The Ultimate Swordswoman, also a senpai and definite SO of Kuzuryu Fuyuhiko, replied. Makoto understood her logic, but... Did she have to carry a bamboo sword behind her back? Couldn't Pekoyama Peko... Carry something smaller like what Mukuro does? It would be way less threatening to the students around them.
"I'm bored..." The most unlikely person, the Ultimate Hope, was also along for the ride. Makoto had to tilt his head up just to look at the guy in the eyes. Kamukura Izuru was obviously a part of the Hope Cultivation Project Controversy, but the Steering Committee gave him immunity and ordered Izuru to keep silent of the matters.
"Don't expect too much," Makoto warned them as they walk up the rickety stairs.
As always, the lights are starting to flicker. One gets used to the lack of maintenance. Finally reaching the fourth floor by foot since the elevator refused to work with them, Makoto walked down the hallway.
'Hopefully, one of them is awake...' Makoto pulled out his key, unlocking the door. He stuck his head inside, checking the residents. "I'm back..."
"Welcome back.." Shuichi mumbled, and Makoto opened the door wide after determining the two reserve students weren't sleeping half-naked. Shuichi was on his bed, using his notes as a blanket for his chest. Hajime was snoozing on bed, curled and hugging the Usami doll Makoto got from this semester's therapy session.
"...?" The local detective rubbed his eyes, quickly sitting up when he saw Kyoko standing beside him. "Oh! Naegi-kun? Why didn't you tell us you were bringing frien.."
"... People." Shuichi changed his mind when he saw Yasuke. Shuichi didn't seem to trust Yasuke, but Hajime said it had something to do with principle.
"Sorry. I told them to meet you guys tomorrow, but they insisted." Makoto apologized, moving inside and folding some items to gain more space.
"It's okay. I just don't know if our room can fit this many people..." Shuichi stood up, flinging a sock at their sleeping roommate. "Hinata-kun! Wake up. Naegi-kun have guests."
"Hmm..." Hajime shifted when Makoto switched the lights on. Their shared dorm space wasn't a mess. In fact, it was really clean to look at... Other than the fact, the room felt more Makoto than Hajime or Shuichi. The two Reserve students didn't get a lot of stuff to decorate their rooms.
"?" Hajime sat up, squinting at their visitors, specifically the ones still outside the room. "Didn't we agree on the one-guest limit rule?"
"They really wanted to talk to you guys," Makoto explained, and Hajime had to scoot over to have Chiaki sit beside him. As soon as Izuru closed the door, Makoto should've offered to let them stay in the lounge while he fetches his friends, not bring them into this cramped space.
"This is a lot of food..." Shuichi scratched his head, checking the food. Hajime was staring at the wall when Yasuke threw the bag of sweets at him. It smacked his face, earning a yelp. Shuichi continued setting the food out, checking the price tags. "Expensive too..."
"It wouldn't be right if only three of us ate. Let's all have dinner here." Makoto offered, and everyone agreed.
Surprisingly, they managed to make everything work. Makoto sat between Kyoko and Izuru, watching Hajime opposite his position between Chiaki and Fuyuhiko. Shuichi elected to sit beside his ex-idol (Shuichi quit being in the Ultimate Detective Fanclub after learning Makoto likes her) and conversed with the gamer. Apparently, Chiaki learned of the bomb threats in advance because the group chat Hajime linked her last night. Yasuke sat between the Ultimate Swordswoman and the Ultimate Hope, looking irritated as usual. They engaged in small chitchat, complimenting the food and talking about the current state of the dormitory...
[Then the lights went out.]
"That's earlier than I expected," Shuichi remarked, already turning on the electronic Japanese-themed lamp to illuminate the room. "Is it eight already?"
"Does this usually happen, Naegi-kun?" Kyoko inquired. Makoto gave her a sheepish smile, not sure what to say. She is the principal's daughter, but Makoto didn't want to blame anyone for the strange power outages.
"Anyways, visitation hours last until ten before the guards come over." Hajime changed the topic, setting down his chopsticks. "Who wants to ask first?"
"What is this? A correctional facility?" Fuyuhiko joked, but that made Hajime drop his bag. The Ultimate Yakuza shook his head, scooting so Hajime can grab the bag on the floor. "Whatever. I'm asking first, what the hell happened to Natsumi after the Parade?"
'How straightforward...' Makoto knew the Ultimate Yakuza had a soft spot for his sibling, but he didn't understand what Fuyuhiko wanted to hear. Natsumi seemed like an independent and strong-willed leader during the lunch meeting.
"She agreed to be student council president." Hajime sat back up, opening the bag of kusamochi. He grabbed one kusamochi in the bag, "Anything else?"
"Fuck off. You know what's up!" Fuyuhiko smacked Hajime's hand, letting a kusamochi drop inside the miso soup.
"?!" Shuichi covered his mouth while Makoto gasped. Hajime blinked, now wide awake.
"Something happened to her back in that parade," Fuyuhiko has no idea how much Hajime cherishes his comfort food. "But she won't tell me anything.."
"All right..." Hajime is in a bad mood. "Did you review or recover your call history and email dated months after the Parade? I'm assuming you didn't because you wouldn't be here if you did."
"If you want answers from your sister, you should tell her the reason why you obeyed the school to NOT visit her after the Parade." Hajime counted the kusamochi in the bag. "Since after the Parade, the Reserve course was locked in a facility for three months. I don't remember what happened in there, but we, in the Reserve course, collectively hate hospitals now..."
"Back to topic, did you never thought, even once, to visit your sister to check if she's okay inside the quarantine area?" Hajime looked away and stared back at Fuyuhiko. "Never wondered for even a second that there were people who weren't brainwashed from that video? Did you wholeheartedly trust the doctors hired by the school and your parents who decided to trust their friends in said school that your sister's in good hands? Maybe that is why Natsumi refuses to say anything to you."
"Hinata-kun..." Makoto looked at Chiaki, who's trying to salvage the kusamochi to appease the passive-aggressive third-year student. Makoto knew about the correctional facility, visiting his roommates once. Makoto got in because he was mistaken as a stray reserve course student. The place was... Terrifying.
"..." Makoto can't blame Fuyuhiko for staying silent. Hajime was cutting into a fellow 3rd year, tearing a psycho-emotional wound called guilt and regret.
"..." Hajime took the hint, realizing he was going too far.
"Did no one question the school when they declared the entire reserve course got brainwashed to start a Parade?" Hajime wondered, watching the kusamochi Chiaki tried to save break apart. No one's going to drink that miso soup now. Thankfully, Hajime simmered down. "For my kouhai's sake, let's review the summary discussed in the latest lunch meeting. Who has the paper?"
"I do." Makoto searched through his pockets, pulling out the folded brief papers handed to them.
"So you didn't help create the summary?" Shuichi furrowed his eyebrows.
"Nope. I was searching for another scholarship organization at the time, remember?" Hajime tilted the paper to read with the lantern light. "Before exam started, the reserve course students received an attachment file and video from an anonymous source via email... Emotions... Stress... Exams... Meh."
"Let's dissect the first statement." Hajime returned the paper. "On one hand, the email contained the list of test subjects within the Hope Cultivation Project, all of them being previous and now deceased reserve students. On the other, a video that contained Ultimates, who most reserve course students gave zero fucks, attacking and killing each other for reasons."
"It is confirmed that the video causes a rise of sudden aggression in its viewers, but it was a temporary effect," Shuichi concluded. "However, it was due to the attachment file and the student's previous experience with the administration that the students elected to rally and head to the school gates to where the Administration building would be."
"Did the summary contain the means and methods Hope's Peak committed against the brainwashed students?" Hajime interrupted, looking at Makoto.
"Uh.." Makoto flipped the pages. "Yes."
"Huh... The meeting was supposed to discuss solely on the Parade." Hajime frowned, turning his head towards Fuyuhiko. "Maybe she added it because of last night? What do you think? Your sister accepted the principal's request for your sake. If you think I'm saying bullshit, go outside and call her. Sorry, the signal's weak here..."
"Uhm... Next question?" Makoto spoke up after Fuyuhiko excused himself to make a call. Peko followed him while Chiaki stared at Hajime warily. Hajime bit on a kusamochi, back to his passive state. Yasuke scooted over, unfazed.
"Do you have a grudge with family?" Shuichi asked.
"No?" Hajime munched on a kusamochi. "Was I harsh?"
"..." The deadpan stares of Makoto and Shuichi confirmed the brunette's suspicion. Hajime sighed. "As long as he doesn't cry on the phone, Kuzuryu won't kill me. Who has a question?"
Chapter 8: Answers part II
Shuichi handles the conversation as best as he can.
Hajime keeps bringing up new topics.
Makoto was initially the logical one.
Shuichi didn't want to be rude, but he was tempted to cut the conversation short multiple times. Not only was he and Hajime unprepared with the visitors Makoto brought in, but they have a midterm math exam tomorrow. True, Hajime would be better guarded in his thoughts in the day than the night, but was it that important to learn the truth at this very moment?
"What I found confusing is how they kept stating about the former secretary or former treasurer ... " Chiaki was talking about the group chat Hajime may have shared last night. Shuichi watched Makoto grab his phone to check the link, but both reserve students knew it was no longer available. The gamer asked, "Are they the dropout students?"
"No, the group chat is referring to the supposed first graduating batch of the Reserve Course. For some reason, the school decided to erase the entire batch's existence under the belief they're the spearheads of the Parade." Shuichi elaborated in Hajime's stead, a little thankful they moved past the Parade. The events surrounding the Parade are a blur to everyone but few Reserve students, and even then, it's prone to memory errors. "It's why Hinata-kun's batch is now labeled Class 1."
"Despite the lack of talent, the students enrolling into Hope's Peak Academy are the cream of the crop of various schools." Yasuke grabbed a kusamochi with chopsticks, causing Hajime to snap out of his blank stare to look at the theft. Yasuke ate it, adding. "With a tarnished reputation and a bleak future ahead of them, it doesn't take a genius to comprehend the graduate's next course of action."
"They're going to find a place where they'll be accepted..." Makoto mumbled.
"Easy targets for recruitment," Shuichi confirmed, giving a slight nod while Hajime covered his mouth to yawn. "We may be able to prevent students still inside the campus to avoid these organizations, but those who graduated? Not possible."
"Then there are graduates who mourned over the suicide of the previous Student council." Hajime grabbed another kusamochi in the bag.
"What?" Chiaki and Makoto said at the same time. Shuichi scanned the table, seeing Izuru still eating without uttering a single word. What a strange person.
"I did say Kuzuryu agreed to be student council president." Hajime frowned. "The first one was a guy who rallied students from 3rd year and 2nd year to keep everyone's sanity intact."
"If I recall correctly, Naegi-kun has the video of when the Student Council collectively jumping off the roof." Shuichi leaned on the chair.
"No, I don't." Makoto denied it, but then he looked at his phone. "Do I...?"
"Maybe..." Hajime debated, also aware of the event. "Check your phone for a video created last March."
"Is this the one where I dragged you guys in front of the Reserve Course Building?" Makoto hesitantly asked, and Shuichi watched Hajime look up at the ceiling. "Huh."
"Monitor the background." Shuichi advised as Kyoko, Chiaki, and Izuru watch the video on Makoto's phone. Shuichi and Hajime already had a talk about the video, and Yasuke probably was one of the Ultimates designated to understand the reason for the mass suicide.
In that video, Makoto's voice was loud and clear. The Ultimate Luck student wanted his friends to smile as he held his phone through an extender stick. Hajime was trying to keep his balance because Makoto wrapped an arm around his neck to lower Hajime down to his level, while Shuichi awkwardly stood and smiled. During the squabble of Makoto telling Hajime to give a proper smile, the video will show at the Reserve Course building rooftop students walking close to the roof. There wasn't a scream when the figures leaped down the building, but the three of them weren't paying attention to their surrounding, the video ending with Hajime turning around once Makoto removed his arm off him.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Makoto lowered his phone. Hajime and Shuichi shared a look before looking at Makoto and speaking simultaneously.
"We didn't want to frighten you." Shuichi said while Hajime replied: "You'd blame yourself for no reason."
"Did they leave anything behind to explain their actions?" Kyoko inquired, confirming Shuichi's suspicion that the school had kept specific facts from the Main Campus students.
"They left a FINALE MESSAGE containing instructions," Hajime added, "Sadly, no one has a physical or digital copy of the letter after it was read in the previous graduation ceremony. Did they burn it?"
"I think they did..." Shuichi wrecked his memories for the words, but he knew one thing. "All I can remember from the speech is to trust Hinata-kun."
"All I remember from that speech was that I had to pick the next Student Council members..." Hajime contemplated. "Speaking of selection process, I wonder if the student council elections will work?"
"If you don't acknowledge them, the new student council body won't hold any power over the student body," Shuichi advised, and Hajime munched on another kusamochi. "Did you even attend the election speeches?"
"..." Hajime looked at him with the Do-you-think-I-care? Look. Shuichi facepalmed.
"That explains why the current Reserve Course Student Council sees you in high esteem." Kyoko took a sip of her green tea. Shuichi wiped a bead of sweat from the side of his face, standing up to open the windows. Since the electricity turned off, the electric fans stopped working. He was hoping the electricity will go back on, but it might come back tomorrow. "But what happened to the teacher assigned by the administration to be the student council advisor?"
"Pardon my language, but we barely realize he exists most of the time." Shuichi returned to his seat, but his phone vibrated. Shuichi grabbed his phone and read his messages. " Heads up for tomorrow's potential suspension. The vice-principal will be assassinated tonight. Short life for the traitor to the resistance.. "
"That can't be right. Why would they kill their biggest sponsor?" Hajime caught his own phone, which Shuichi tossed at him.
"Even if it might be a joke, how about you forward the text to security?" Makoto asked while Kyoko asked if she could read the long message. Shuichi relented.
"Nah. VP was always a prick-?" Hajime looked up from his phone, seeing Kyoko walkout. After the girl closed the door, Hajime looked at Shuichi. "How are we going to let lucky detective sail now?!"
"I know you want to be a godfather, but the vice-principal surely has information about the Resistance," Shuichi explained his actions. He then looked at Makoto and gave him a thumbs up. "Don't worry, Naegi-kun. The ship hasn't sunk yet!"
"Can you guys not?" Makoto facepalmed. Hajime isn't the only one who wants to be a godfather to Makoto's kids.
"Fine." Hajime looked across the room. "We'll just have to pair someone else in the room!"
"Like you?" Shuichi pointed out.
"I'm too busy taking care of both of you to get a partner. Now, who should we pair, Matsuda or Kamukura?" Hajime asked his female seatmate.
"I'm not interested." Yasuke glared at the scheming fellow 3rd year.
"Now that I think about it... When did Matsuda-senpai become your friend, Kamukura-kun?" Chiaki asked her classmate(?) Izuru, who's still eating the food. The guy seemed bored with life, but it's more confusing why he refuses to leave the room. Shuichi heard from Makoto that Izuru's a friend of the Ultimate Fashionista, but Makoto never understood what those two were talking about.
"Are we friends, Matsuda-san?" Kamukura inquired.
"We might as well be." Yasuke sounded annoyed, but everyone knows the man has issues with attachments.
"..." Everyone stared at Yasuke and Izuru sitting beside each other.
"I don't know if it's because of the lack of sleep or my last brain cell working overdrive, but you two can be a-" Hajime wasn't able to continue his sentence when Yasuke stuffed three kusamochi in his mouth. "?!"
"Sorry about my friend," Makoto told Chiaki, trying to repair Hajime's terrible first impression on the gamer. "This is the same guy who paired me with everyone until I liked someone."
"Same, but you get used to it," Shuichi added, analyzing Izuru. Something about the raven felt off. The Ultimate felt eerily familiar to him. "Something about being a protagonist."
"I see..." Chiaki nodded. "The protagonist always manages to capture everyone's hearts."
"She gets it," Hajime spoke with his mouth full. "Shoot. It's a quarter to ten. Who has questions?"
"How're the students?" Yasuke asked the vaguest question. Both Shuichi and Makoto felt like the carpet was tugged underneath them, but Hajime was chill. It seems the two did have a rendezvous without their knowledge?!
"Two suicides, ten attempted self-injury, and four genocidal intentions in the past month. They said the students might have been exposed to triggers." Hajime watched Izuru start packing the utensils and plates, looking back at his cup. "Naegi. If you can befriend Kamukura, I'm sponsoring your wedding."
"?!" Makoto glared at Hajime, who wasn't ashamed to suggest something in front of the Ultimate himself. According to Ouma, Izuru was a ghost in the school, walking around as he pleases. If it weren't for Yukizome Chisa, Izuru would still be roaming around. However, Hajime wouldn't say something like that without having a plan in mind.
"With your MC powers, you can do it!" Chiaki supported Makoto, which was hilarious! Wait! Maybe Hajime said that to distract them from his previous statement?!
"Visitation hour is over. Time to go." A guard opened the door, peeking inside with a flashlight.
"All right. Give us five minutes." Hajime answered, and the guard closed the door. "Quick question. Who brought the child inside the room?"
"Child?" Makoto asked.
"Don't be jealous, Naegi. I'm talking about the other child." Hajime pointed at Izuru(?!)
"..." Izuru blinked. Hajime wasn't taking back his words.
"Yes, you. I know a curious child when I see one. Who brought him in here?" The brunette asked, looking around his occupants. He eventually looked at his seatmate, "Matsuda?"
"No. He came with me." Chiaki corrected. "Kamukura-kun was curious."
"..." Hajime looked at Chiaki.
"All right." Hajime shrugged, looking back at Makoto. "Class 77-B? Cool. Cool..."
"Eh?" Chiaki tilted her head.
"I'm free during the weekends. We can play co-op after my exams." Hajime explained, and Yasuke scrutinized his seatmate hard. Both Shuichi and Makoto shared a look.
"U-uh, ok?" Chiaki stood up, a little surprised and yet relieved. "Let's play this coming Sunday! I'll call you."
"He has a plan again." Shuichi leaned close to Makoto.
"Or he likes her?" Makoto whispered.
"Sure." Hajime smiled and turned to his roommates with a scowl. "One ship a day."
"Who was the latest ship?" Shuichi paused. "No. Don't tell me."
"It is..." Makoto mulled. "Not like I don't hate the ship, but after you considered Kamukura-senpai a child... I have my doubts."
"..." Yasuke raised a finger but dropped it. The neurosurgeon dropped his arms, giving up.
"What ship is this?" Izuru inquired.
"?!" Hajime, Makoto, and Shuichi gasped. Shuichi didn't expect the new student to be innocent.
"You have sinned!" Shuichi bonked Makoto. "Repent!"
"I didn't mean it." Makoto apologized. Of course, they aren't taking this seriously. They were both laughing at their antics. Izuru staring at them blankly made it even funnier.
"Matsuda. You should bring Kamukura home before we corrupt him." Hajime clenched his fist close to his chest, "Keep his purity intact."
"He isn't pure, dumbass." Yasuke lightly pushed Hajime's shoulder, standing up. "Come on. Get up, Kamukura."
"Hn." Izuru took a second to stand up, following Yasuke exit the room. Once the door closed, Shuichi placed the lantern on the table.
"Should we pack the stuff to throw for tomorrow, or should we sleep?" Makoto asked, but both reserve course students already crawled to the closest bed to die on. "Hey! Saihara-kun! That's my bed. Hey!"
"Ah~" Shuichi moaned at the soft mattress. "Sweet sanctuary~"
"That sounded so wrong." Hajime chuckled, wrapping himself with a blanket. "Why is your mattress so flat, Saihara?"
"Oh~ I like your bed, Hinata-kun. It smells nice." Makoto cheered, giving in and also resting on a bed. They'll worry about everything tomorrow.
"Because I always take a bath before heading to bed." Hajime huffed.
"Wait. You take a bath twice a day?" Shuichi only took a bath once, and that's because he found the activity time-consuming.
"Yeah..." Hajime turned silent. "Naegi. Take a bath before you sleep."
"ZZZ" Makoto actually said Z aloud, and Shuichi found himself laughing.
"If I wasn't so lazy..." Hajime turned to the wall. Shuichi found his eyes slowly closing, content with the food in his stomach. The food is nice. People? A new experience.
Then he remembered they have an incoming exam.
Chapter 9: Review
Hajime tries to piece the mystery behind Sato's death which is linked to the mastermind.
Too bad, Hajime isn't like his two roommates, having experienced the darker side of Hope's Peak.
With the exams finally over, Hajime wondered if he'll get used to living by himself once he graduates. Well, he's going to get used to it eventually, but Hajime's going to miss hanging out with his two roommates.
No more warm welcomes or surprise shenanigans...
'Ok. Maybe the last part deserves to be removed.' Hajime didn't like getting chased by thugs or hit by a truck or almost struck by lighting or other questionably unlucky circumstances. Actually, the list is pretty long, even when Hajime cut the period during the Parade. 'Wait. Does that mean I'm a masochist?'
'I guess I am...' Hajime resisted the urge to facepalm.
"WAIT!" Someone called out. Out of politeness, Hajime turned his head to see someone running in his direction.
"Hm?" Hajime made sure to look around to make sure he's the recipient before looking at the male head-on. Belonging to Class 77-B, the Ultimate Mechanic had pink hair and sharp teeth. His current attire wasn't questioned given his specialty, but his attitude was rumored to be delinquent.
"Yeah, you! Where you going, man?!" The male stood a couple of feet away from him, holding a couple of burritos. "I thought we're all going to hang out and play games!"
"Sorry, but I hit three strikes." Hajime halfheartedly apologized to the latecomer. Hajime didn't expect Chiaki's friends to barge in their short gaming session, but it grew evident that the gamer's classmates had ulterior motives. Hajime didn't need to be a genius to know how much the Main Course students hate Reserve students, so Hajime took the initiative and asked one controversial yet straightforward question.
[Can you tell me how Sato died?]
'If I stayed any longer, I might trigger some of them to fall into despair.' Hajime may have hit his first strike by berating the Ultimate Yakuza about Natsumi's mental state, but Hajime might've lost all three strikes after asking the class what happened to his deceased classmate.
He expected yelling but not crying. Hajime already spent too much empathy on comforting suicidal reserve students to react to their tears. Thankfully, Shuichi and Makoto weren't there, or Hajime's ending up sleeping in a pillow fort.
"I didn't know Sato was a sensitive topic." Hajime sighed, mildly annoyed how Sato's plan was successful(?) When Natsumi found remnants of Sato's journal and gave it to him to burn, Hajime read the cursed entries like any curious person would. Hajime understood very little from Sato's journal entries. His classmate seemed fixated with Class 77-B, not to save them but to enlighten them with the comforting warmth of Despair(?) Hajime couldn't forget the entries because she would have known the Mastermind's scheme to make plans to counter it in the first place, right?
(How Sato ruined it is another mystery.) Instead of saving everyone the trouble of pinpointing the Mastermind and the respective accomplices, Sato decided to enact her own selfish desires and keep it a secret.
"No amount of apologies are going to cut that, so I left." Hajime shifted his body to face the solemn beanie-wearing teen. Don't get him wrong. Hajime's still curious what exactly happened to the long-haired woman. Shuichi showed him the strange state of Sato's corpse, hinting that she was premeditatedly murdered with the multiple holes piercing right through the body. Hajime had a good feeling Class 77-B held the answers, but it seems the students haven't moved on from the person's death. Sadly, Hajime knew poking 'sleepers' oftentimes invoke harmful behavior. 'Back to zero. How am I going to get Makoto and Shuichi prepared for impending anarchy?'
"Yeah, but uh..." The sharp-toothed male struggled to convey his thoughts and offered Shawarma instead. "Try it. Hanamura is one of the best chefs in the school."
"Compliments to the chef?" Hajime accepted the meat-stuffed burrito. The first thing he did was analyze it. He remembered Makoto convincing him and Shuichi to get the entire reserve dormitory to hold a food competition in the first months of this school year because of a food channel Makoto binge-watched. Shuichi was craving Turkish food, so they decided to make Shawarma. There are different ways of preparing the doner kebab, and the Ultimate Cook opted to take the tortilla-like form for its consumers to eat it with only one hand. That's a smart move. 'Now, why didn't we do that? Oh, wait. Saihara wanted to make the damn pide, and we wound up with a taco-looking mess.'
"Come on, bite it!" The Ultimate... This strange teenager is still here and not hanging out with his class? Hajime found that odd but reasoned the Ultimate Mechanic wasn't present at the time of the incident. Hajime was too tired from Physical Education (or whatever Sports the Gym teacher felt like seeing) from yesterday to think right. He did promise to hang out with Chiaki, and she did text him early in the morning. The pink-haired guy bit on his own Shawarma, speaking with his mouth full. "You overthink too much. It's not good to skip lunch, you know?"
"Yeah.." Hajime took a bite of the food, startled at the burst of intense flavor from the savory meat. The vegetable is fresh, the spices just right, but the yogurt and vinegar might be a little harsh for the thin pide.
"You are an open book..." The man insulted/stated the obvious? Hajime wasn't sure how to feel about the remark. "Even your ahoge moves."
"Shouldn't you be with your classmates by now?" Hajime raised an eyebrow, taking another bite of the glorious food. 'This pide may be thin, but it's better than the thick pide Saihara, and I made.'
"Uh..." The Ultimate Mechanic hesitated, and that almost made Hajime look behind him to see if Yasuke was nearby. Yasuke didn't like Ultimates talking to him, something about reputation(?)
"It's the end of the year, and er... I only have a handful of friends." The guy closed his eyes, slightly bowing his head as he admitted his predicament. Hajime looked at his posture, paying notice of his meek demeanor. "So when I heard Nanami got a crush on a reserve, I thought I could be friends with the guy... to talk about girls and stuff?"
"..." Hajime stared at him, torn between feeling pity or despair. To hear an Ultimate, who isn't charismatic Makoto and antisocial Yasuke, have issues with friends despite having talent? Well... What's the point of being in this school other than the freebies and the facilities? Hope's Peak Academy wasn't known for its teachers or curricula. As his parents quoted, this school 'is to form useful connections to get a successful career.'
"Like the future... Or something." The stranger had terrible confidence the longer Hajime stared at him. This Ultimate had two years to make friends and still failed on his goal? Hajime may have misjudged his delinquent appearance. This person may have experienced something terrible in the past... Like what? Whatever. Anyways, this person wants a friend to hang out with someone and talk about not-so-but-very-so-important matters in life.
"?!" Suddenly, a thought came to him.
"All right. I'll be your friend." Hajime suggested, "And speaking about the future, let's get into a university after we graduate."
"Eh?" The male almost dropped his shawarma, but Hajime recalled one of the reasons why he wanted to enter the Main Course. "You and me... In the same university?"
"Why not? Ultimates who graduate Hope's Peak Academy have a higher chance of getting into their wanted universities." Hajime waved his shawarma. "I've inquired around, and the office established that Ultimates still have to take the exams like the rest. Tuition fee's going to be a problem, so we'll have to get exemptional scores and no failing grades."
"W-wait! This is going too fast! Reeally?!" The mechanic might be a little slow to catch up. Hajime thought Makoto the same way and look who that lucky harem maker's attracting. "B-But I can't apply for the big test. I don't have money to pay the admission fees!"
"Since we're Hope's Peak Academy students, the school is paying for all the fees and handing out special privileges for its students to take whatever university admission we want." Hajime placed one hand on his hip. It seems he was right. The Ultimate isn't financially stable either. "You're a mechanic who has big dreams. Why not aim for the top and see what happens when you're there?"
"You don't even know my name!" The teen wasn't saying no, but he seemed flustered at his declaration. "God. Why does this feel like I'm being confessed to?"
"Have I uncovered another bisexual?" Hajime joked, and the guy almost choked on his food.
"It's a joke," Hajime reassured. "Since the National Test is held around January, we have time to review."
"No shit... But... I don't know..." The Ultimate mechanic couldn't articulate his thoughts, despite being the one who wanted to talk about the future. "Whatever. It's not like I have anything to lose."
"Cut yourself some slack. You aren't going to flunk that bad in the test." Hajime took another bite. Based on the Ultimate's talent, science is going to be a breeze for this guy. 'Hopefully, he'll open up, and I'll learn what happened to Sato.'
"Thanks for the confidence. The name's Souda Kazuichi, Ultimate mechanic." The mechanic grinned. surprisingly happy to be friends with a reserve. "If you have any machine broken, I'm your man!"
"Hinata Hajime. I'll be in the newly-constructed library after class hours during the weekdays." Hajime told the Ultimate, turning his head to look at the new building down the road. Hope's Peak wanted to create departmental-friendly environments and chose to make a library. Really creative.
"Wait. That's new?" The happy-go-lucky Ultimate didn't seem to realize it existed either. "Weird."
"Yep. See you then." Hajime bid, turning his body so he can start heading back to the dormitory. He can hear footsteps, but it's walking towards him. "You should go back to your class before they start wondering where you went."
"I could, but I want to see the new area too!" Kazuichi walked beside him, possibly trying to avoid meeting his class. "There might be some updated comic books, or maybe some machine manuals not found in the other libraries?"
'Aren't you eager?' Hajime took a big bite of his food. 'But is he really okay to not hang out with his friends?'
"It's honestly been a while since I've been in a library," Kazuichi nudged Hajime's arm with his elbow. "Not like I don't miss homework, but I got no excuse to be there, you know?"
"You have a practical exam this coming September." Hajime squinted at the slacker. When Hajime enrolled in this school, the Ultimate's practical exam was cut short due to an explosion in the gym. When Hajime reached his second year, the PARADE happened. "Internet isn't going to hold all the answers."
"Yeah yeah. I get that. Sheesh." Kazuichi sighed. The two kept walking, and the mechanic asked, "You know Sonia-san, right? She's the Ultimate Princess in my class, and I want to impress her, but everything I seem to do..."
'Oh god. Not another problematic love case.' Hajime opted to take another bite, listening to the student's story. 'Correction. A problematic tryhard simp.'
Chapter 10: "Everything is (not) fine" chapter
Makoto is called to the Headmaster's office.
Hajime is going to have an interview to get a scholarship to the Future Foundation.
Shuichi is helping his uncle's work.
(What could go wrong?)
It took a week before the Principal called Makoto to his office. Walking down the hallway towards the principal's office, Makoto hurriedly updated his group chat with his two roommates.
TRUTH: I just have a bad feeling tomorrow.
HOPE: Can you skip work?
TRUTH: I can, but my uncle's being swamped with work.
HOPE: I guess you have to be extra careful tomorrow
HOPE: Uh oh.
TRUTH: I think he heard your typing sound. Why is it on?
FUTURE: GO TO SLEEP
FUTURE: OR I WILL MAKE YOU
HOPE: @FUTURE @TRUTH I got called by the principal during class hours.
HOPE: I bet it has something to do with the Summer ball.
FUTURE: We had a bet about that, didn't we?
HOPE: I can't take you seriously when you emote.
HOPE: How's your interview?
FUTURE: I'm still waiting in line.
FUTURE: I know you want to tell them the whole truth, but don't.
HOPE: How can I even let them believe when it sounds so >_<
FUTURE: Sometimes, problems can be solved with a gun.
HOPE: That sounds so wrong! @_@
FUTURE: Reading it again, you're right.
HOPE: Anyways, good luck with Future Foundation!
FUTURE: Don't get your hopes up. This organization seems strict as hell.
"!" Makoto wasn't looking where he was going, bumping against the Ultimate Therapist. Miaya Gekkogahara was one of the Alumni of the school who actively assisted the rehabilitation of the traumatized Main Course students. The therapist was only assigned to the reserve course students after almost three months of the Parade's end. By that time, most of the reserve course students have accepted their situation.
"S-sorry. I wasn't looking where I was going." Makoto quickly hid his phone as he stared at the female. She has striking blue eyes which are complemented by her green hair. She seems like a nice person, but Hajime didn't seem to trust the woman. Makoto can't blame him, especially when Hajime kept getting placed in the white room during those dark times.
"..." The alumni raised her tablet, showing a pink cartoon rabbit. Makoto knew the figure, the mascot Miaya utilized, known as Usami. [It's okay, Naegi-kun!]
"Hehehe..." Makoto wasn't sure what else to say, turning to open the door to enter the office. Walking inside, he's surprised when Miaya also entered the room. Is something wrong?
"Have a seat," Principal Kirigiri Jin smiled at them as he looked away from whoever he was speaking to. Makoto knew the Ultimate he was talking to, finding it very ominous to see Kamukura Izuru as well. Makoto slowly moved his way to the offered seat, having a bad feeling about the incoming events. He can see Miaya also taking a seat, hugging her tablet. He also noticed the Ultimate Scout, Kizakura Koichi, is chilling on the side as well. Once everyone is seated, the principal spoke with utmost hospitality. "I'm sure you know why you're here today, Naegi-kun."
"Is this because of the Summer ball?" Makoto guessed, scratching the back of his head. *DING!* His phone received a message. Someone, probably Hajime, pinged him. Makoto pretended it's not his.
"The Summer Ball is one of many reasons why you're here," Principal Kirigiri answered, finally pulling out a folder containing some papers(?) Makoto stared at them, curious but also wary of its contents. "According to reports, your luck has caused a series of events in the Reserve Dormitory."
'Oh shoot. Those events...' Makoto forgot about those events. Hajime and Shuichi did note his unlucky rates ever since he entered the school. In the beginning, Makoto knew it was all a coincidence, but he was really tempted to tell the principal to give him a separate room after he and his roommates experienced: getting kidnapped, almost shot dead, nearly sexually assaulted, broken joints, and the worse event of all, the PARADE. Then again, both Shuichi and Hajime live vicariously on him to keep their sanity intact. This applies extremely on Hajime's side, the brunette having very few social acquaintances to call his own as friends . *BRRRRR!* Makoto felt tempted to answer the phone, but he was talking with the principal. Thankfully, it stopped. Makoto hoped the call wasn't serious. 'But Hajime's calls are always serious! Maybe I should check after all?'
'But the meeting barely started. What to do?' Makoto glanced at his pants, thinking if he should grab his phone. *DING!* Makoto grit his teeth, 'Maybe it's about his interview? Think positive, me!'
"...Transfer to..." Those words immediately got Makoto to pay attention. He wasn't all to blame when the principal started to talk over him and more towards Miaya and Izuru. However, to hear that specific word transfer would mean separation from his friends. Makoto understood his rationale. The principal wants to keep Ultimates safe, especially the friends of his daughter. *BRRRRR!*
Makoto had mixed feelings about this.
Slowly pulling his phone, Makoto discovered they want him to be roommates with Izuru, the latter finally gaining permission to stay in the dormitory. Of course, everyone knows Izuru is extremely talented with the single flaw of losing interest in other's well-being. Hajime already told him about this possibility. Principal Kirigiri expects him to help Izuru gain some humanity in him. Shuichi and Hajime agreed on this to be plausible. Kamukura will teach him to control his talent, which is less dangerous than his upperclassman Nagito, and Makoto teaches him to feel emotions and whatever.
It seemed like a great plan.
"What do you say, Naegi-kun?" The principal finally looks at him, but Makoto can't help but think about his roommates. He may not be good at a lot of stuff to help Hajime and Shuichi out right now, but if another tragedy-related event happened because of the Main-Reserve conflict... Makoto might not be able to prevent the tragedy.
"I know this might sound silly, but can I talk with my roommates first?" Makoto smiled helplessly, aware of the situation. True. Izuru is involved in a lot of controversies, which he may or may not have done, but surely he isn't the sole alternative to helping the Ultimate Hope. Makoto also wants to check his phone or call Hajime for constantly pinging him. "I've grown to like my roommates, and I really care about them. Besides, we can handle ourselves-"
"Coming through!" One of the freshmen from Class 79-C entered the room.
"Won't take long, I promise!" It was surprisingly the Ultimate Supreme Leader , Oma Kokichi, who barged in and walked towards one of the bookshelves, pulling out a book. Amethyst eyes scanned the room, walking towards the painting of the countryside. Makoto quickly checked his phone while everyone is distracted by the newcomer.
HOPE: Anyways, good luck with Future Foundation!
FUTURE: Don't get your hopes up. This organization seems strict as hell.
(Last 5 minutes ago.)
FUTURE: @HOPE What's Fujisaki's number?
FUTURE: It's ok. I got it. Please tell me you're doing better than me later.
FUTURE: @HOPE Can you check if @TRUTH is in the school?
FUTURE: Sorry, I panicked. I got a call from his father, and he said Saihara got kidnapped.
FUTURE: I'll ask someone else.
FUTURE: Saihara isn't there.
FUTURE: FUCK You're not done yet!
FUTURE: @HOPE Expect to see Oma.
FUTURE: Today is gonna suck.
"Shit." Makoto cursed under his breath, quickly dialing Hajime up. [...] Hajime is not responding. Makoto chose to call his friend Chihiro. Surely, his friend has some idea what happened.
"Is this a treasure hunt from your homeroom teacher?" Koichi wondered, and Makoto waits agonizingly with each BEEP.
"Even better!" Kokichi slammed the book right on the principal's table so he can use both hands to examine the painting. It was pretty clear the male was racing against time, scanning the portrait to see numbers behind the painting. Makoto pursed his lips, unable to connect to his friend as well. What is going on?!
"Hey~ Can you turn the book to chapter 3? Thanks in advance!" The Ultimate grabbed his phone, typing on his phone.
"A...All right?" Maybe it was because of the absurdity and the randomness of it all, but the principal obeyed. He picked up a photo, "This... When was this taken?"
"Why should we care? It's a clue, and I'm taking it." Kokichi tossed his phone at Makoto before snatching the photo from the principal's grip. Kokichi walked towards the exit, staring at the photo as he spoke to Makoto. "Bring my phone. Meet up at the parking lot, West wing. Ten minutes."
'This is Hajime's number!' Makoto stared at the unknown number from Shuichi's crush, answering to indeed confirm this to be his friend. Makoto asked, "What did you give Oma-kun?"
"I wouldn't resort to asking his crush if you weren't busy with the damn principal!" Hajime cursed, probably running given the intake of the brunette's breath. "You better be done!"
"I was about to. (I think?) It's only been seven minutes," Makoto checked the time just to be sure, standing up so the adults wouldn't hear Hajime cussing. Hajime cusses a lot when he's in duress. Makoto asked, walking towards the bookshelves, "Did you talk to Saihara-kun's uncle?"
"Yes, and they got duped like the gover*BANG*" Hajime's voice was interrupted by a gunshot. The brunette muttered another language of curses, which Shuichi told him not to research. "We have 30 minutes to save Saihara before they quarter him just like the rest of the hostages."
"What?!" Makoto may have yelled after learning that. Now he understood why Hajime's calling him relentlessly. Makoto glanced back at the principal then back at the wall. "Can't it be extended?"
"That is the extension. It was originally 10 minutes. Why do you think I need the Ultimate programmer for?" Hajime asked rhetorically. Another gunshot and a muffled yell. Hajime added, "Don't blame yourself, by the way. It's also not my fault either for rejecting the student council list. Kuzuryu must be busy as fuck right now with the controversy. I guess this was delayed for *BANG!* long? Give me a sec."
"And where are you?" Makoto asked, rubbing his temple in worry. He can hear more gunshots and a thud. Hajime managed to enter a room and probably locked the door.
"Future Foundation is on sudden lockdown because of the rumored mastermind being inside the same building, trapping unarmed civilians with the terrorists. Sadly, I need to get out so you can trick my uncle's team that you're me to enter the hostage area." Hajime rambled, "I asked Fujisaki to do two different tasks in two possibly different OS, one to create a program to delay the mass execution once and the other to give me an opening to exit this facility. That's why you can't call him? Her? Them."
"That's a lot to digest..." Makoto can feel eyes staring at his back.
"I'm going to rely on your impromptu decisions to saving Saihara," Hajime admitted, "I already commissioned Soda to craft a bike for you and Oma to ride."
"But you said hostages," Makoto frowned. "That means there are more of them. Also, I thought you hate your uncle?"
"Because he gives me shitty jobs, but he does have his uses..." Hajime sighed. "Monaca will be sending you the details once she tracks him. If you want to save all ten hostages, good luck. It's both a gamble and an impossibility."
"Who's Monaca?" Makoto needs to take three steps back to understand what's going on. So far, what he understood is that Hajime is trapped in the Future Foundation. Even though Hajime asked for Chihiro's help, Hajime is sure he won't make it to where Shuichi would be. Speaking of Shuichi, he's been kidnapped with nine other people. Hajime learned this from Shuichi's parents and was then verified by Shuichi and his uncle. Makoto was busy, so he contacted Kokichi to search for this Monaca person to track Shuichi down.
"She's the Little Ultimate Homeroom," Koichi supplied while Miaya showed Izuru and Jin the current news reporting the sudden attacks around Japan.
"Towa Monaca is part of the Towa Conglomerate, which manufactures specific devices to its users." Hajime elaborated, already walking out to another area. "Since the Towa group has become a household commodity, I know she's going to be surveying the places to see anything interesting going on."
"What is with you and sociopaths?" Makoto placed a hand on his hip.
"They say the best people are the ones you should be afraid of," Hajime foreshadowed. "Now head down the garage before Oma rides off. Once Fujisaki gives you the signal, meet with the police and say you're me."
"I'm gonna go now!" Makoto yelled as he immediately headed out of the room. He is so going to get called back in the Headmaster's office again!
Chapter 11: "Everything is (not) fine" in all honesty
Shuichi gets traumatized by... Death(s)
Falls into despair. Willingly(?)
(This is why everyone in the reserve course needs serious and REAL rehab.)
For some reason, hearing these people speak...
I can't breathe.
Eyes. Everywhere. Stagnant. WATCHING.
If Hajime were here, he'd tell him to calm down...
If Makoto were here, he...?!
It's hopeless! Makoto would be reckless enough to try to save me. How despairing.
(Too silent.) I should be happy someone cares about me. (But it's too silent.)
[5 minutes past] ... Bleeding ... Listening to the broadcast ... Struggling ... [another 5 minutes]
Delayed. Execution? Inevitable. Torture.
'Would Makoto save me?'
What if he dies because of me?
Makoto would fall into despair if I died, wouldn't he?
Hajime would shed a tear or so if I died, but he'll move on...
(But it's too silent.) My thoughts are like poison. Hopelessly spiraling down into despair. (Too silent.)
'I have to remain strong...'
The detective watched the girl
(who kept wailing) lose her head.
[Resolve is crumbling.]
He listened to a teen screaming as animals tore him apart (until all there's left is the sound of wet meat torn and chewed).
'But what if I'm next?'
¿ƃuᴉʇᴉɔxǝ ǝq ʇɐɥʇ ʇ,uplnoM
[Ten minutes left before execution.]
No one is coming for them..
How utterly despairing to die in such a simplistic manner.
'All for the name of despair...' There are eight of them left according to the screen, one of them sitting beside him. (If he stands, this adult dies.)
"What the hell is going on with you?" One of them spoke, pointing their gun at him.
"?" The local detective tilted his head at the male.
"You're being paranoid, man. He's tied up." The other guy spoke up, placing a hand on his hip.
I can come up with the best execution for everyone. If it's despair they want, I can do it for them. I know how to bring everyone into despair in this room.
"His eyes... It changed color," The man murmured. The detective waits for the ideal opportunity to act.
"Who cares?" The other raised an eyebrow, shaking his head as he dragged his friend(?) away. "If it makes you happy, he's next on the list. Death by saw blades."
"..." The man took one last look before closing the door, unable to get those crimson eyes off his mind.
To replicate the killing game I so adore, I must escape and create the best execution. Then cover the tracks and trick the audience just like the mastermind.
'Will I be able to induce despair?' Shuichi smiled, ecstatic as his world is plunged into darkness. The sound of circular saw blades sent a thrill of excitement. (How wonderful!)
His captors underestimated him, tying his hands alone. Shuichi stood up, ignoring his seatmate who got impaled from the ass straight to his head because he stood up with his chair. It was survival to the fittest, and Shuichi had no plans of dying today. The saw blades definitely help in cutting the chains, but all his precision would not minimize the bruises on his wrists.
"..." The detective remembered where the door and cameras are, walking towards the camera supposed watching him and chucking it off the wall. The blades are moving too slowly, with enough time to escape. He can hear footsteps from the other side, clutching the camera. As soon as the door opened, the unfortunate gets a bashing on the head.
The door is very convenient for him, the room's darkness his advantage. Shuichi didn't kill the man just yet, disorienting him as he pulled the man as a shield when another person shot in his direction.
*BANG!* *BANG!* *BANG!*
"STOP SHOOTING ME!" The guy screamed, but his colleague was panicking at the potential breach.
'Heavy!' Shuichi held the man by the neck, having one leg raised to ensure the man can't regain balance as the male's colleague kept shooting.
Shuichi raised the gun towards the panicking adult, pulling the trigger straight to the man's face before getting crushed by his captor-turned-hostage. 'Bulletproof vests for everyone? How rich.'
"Son of a bitch!" The guy hissed as he tried to regain control by twisting and turning, but Shuichi placed his hand to squeeze the man's artery close to the neck. Clamping his legs against one of the man's own, Shuichi pressed harder to cut the oxygen supply and induce pain. He ignored the man's free hand try clawing his eyes out, twisting his hand, so he slammed the side of the man's face against the floor. It's time to kill him and move on.
'Wasting too much time!' Shuichi almost shot himself as he pointed the gun at the man's head, the man ever so confident that he leveled the gun to point at the one behind him. 'As if I didn't see that coming.'
"Ruger?" Shuichi stepped out of the room after grabbing both guns, kicking the dead bodies as he stared at the model. One of them only has one ammo left and the other two. Shuichi rolled his eyes, disappointed. 'I guess I can make do with this.'
"Urgh..." Shuichi can't believe these guys installed such a security system when they hijacked this abandoned building in the first place. He trudged forward, ignoring one of the rooms with a woman screaming for him to save her. Shuichi doesn't have enough time to save people, but he has enough time to show these low lives what despair TRULY is. 'It's about time the hunter becomes the hunted.'
"♫" Just for this moment, Shuichi decides that everything he is was all a lie. It would be easier to digest the world if so. The truth contrasted too much with his current state.
'Why was I afraid of murder cases?'
Chapter 12: "Everything is fine"
If you've seen despair!Shuichi,
It's about time you see despair!Hajime.
The grandfather clock is the only noise in the interrogation room.
"Onii-chan!" Lil' Ultimate Homeroom cheered, waiting right outside the gates after he exited the cab.
"Monaca," Hajime wouldn't dare use the girl's last name, aware of the devil hidden in those eyes.
"Welcome back! Monaca missed you!" The green-haired girl smiled at him warmly as if they were family. Hajime walked towards the girl, curious why he can't see any of this girl's henchmen. She gave him a hug, and he reciprocated the false affection. "Why are you so mean to your roomies?"
"Mean? I only did a re-introduction," Hajime explained, letting go to crouch and look at the girl at eye level. The girl is always sitting in a wheelchair. "So, what do you think of Naegi? He's interesting, isn't he?"
"Not as cool as Onee-sama!" The child puffed her cheeks, and Hajime sighed.
"♪" Hinata Hajime drummed his fingers on the table.
"Onii-chan will get locked up again~" Monaca hummed, tapping on her tablet to keep updated on the current chaos outside the school walls.
"I didn't do anything wrong," Hajime wheeled her towards the Elementary department.
"Oh~?" Monaca gasped before giggling. "But you did! You bullied Naegi!"
"Of course, of course..." Hajime expected the world to punish him for letting his kouhai catch a glimpse of reality. 'But if I don't, he'll get eaten alive.'
"Hey... Why are you so fixated on that Naegi guy, anyway?" Monaca yawned, swinging her legs as she looked at the reliable reserve. "Did he do something cool? Monaca wants to know."
There is a camera at the top right corner.
"Stopp~" Monaca chirped, and Hajime stopped just in time to let them see someone almost slip from the slippery floor.
"Matsuda?" Hajime raised an eyebrow when he saw the familiar messy hair. "Forgot to attend another meeting again?"
"Shut it, I-" Matsuda stopped halfway, leaning away and looking at the duo.
"You're coming with me," Matsuda decided, reaching out and grabbing his arm.
"What about Monaca?" Hajime got yanked away from the laughing child, dragged by the unkept male. "HEY! Let me go!"
Hajime warned Makoto on the impossibility of saving everyone... because he knows Shuichi would definitely fall into despair.
'I wonder how much pain will Saihara inflict on Oma and Naegi?'
'Then again, they're both Ultimate lucky students...'
'Will Naegi be mad at me? Maybe he won't fetch me.'
Everything in this room is soft to prevent injury or something along those lines. Monaca was supposed to show him the events of what happened today.
'According to Saihara's uncle, there are five terrorist attacks.'
'One crisis took Saihara as one of their hostages, warning private agencies of their actions.'
'The other, a lockdown, occurring within the Future Foundation itself to decrease public morale.'
"What were the other three for?" Hajime spoke aloud, curious if anyone will respond. No one. Expected.
'Naegi's guess might be the correct reason,'
'Or Saihara's deduction might be on the right track.'
'My guess is...?'
'What is wrong with me?'
'Anything about the terrorists shouldn't be my business.' Hajime chose to think of another topic to pass the time.
'What exactly happened in the Future Foundation?'
'I was supposed to be interviewed after the last guy, but the alarms rang, and the screen showed...?'
'We were escorted out (or was it further in?) to safety, but one of the personnel took me aside because of my uniform. Then...?'
Hajime stopped tapping, mind filled with white noise.
'Fujisaki probably knows, right?'
'No, Fujisaki must've been busy hacking to save both parties...'
"..." He stared at the blank screen in front of him. Shuichi's trigger is to be trapped in a room filled with noisy people while a murder occurs one after another. Hajime doesn't remember his, but Makoto-
"?" Hajime watched the screen reveal a rabbit mascot.
[A connection has been established.]
The rabbit AI is frequently used when the patient is unstable.
The last time he saw the rabbit AI, it was calming Natsumi.
"Hello, Hinata-kun♥! Do you remember me?" The human-controlled creature of the light cheered, still wearing that magical girl costume and holding that tinkly wand.
'My eyes are red, aren't they?' Hajime covered his right eye, piecing everything together. Why didn't Monaca fucking tell me? Hajime begrudgingly plays along, dropping his hand. "Usagi."
"Close but no!" The rabbit waves her wand. "I am a squeezably soft stuffed animal. Magical Miracle Girl ★ Usami...A.K.A. Usami!"
Neither makes sense.
"Where's Naegi?" Hajime discarded his thoughts on the matter. Irrelevant.
"Is he your best friend?" Usami asked. It's obvious. Naegi Makoto is...
At the first stage of despair, victims often:
"I..." Hajime can't respond, looking away from those beady eyes.
At the second stage of despair, sufferers experience:
Active transmission of infection
"Never mind," Hajime frowned. His mind is empty.
"Don't say that! You can trust sensei," The rabbit should take a hint. "What's wrong?"
At the final stage of despair, converts have:
Embraced the ideology
"My POV gives more questions than answers," Hajime confessed, his mind refusing to cooperate. He wrapped his hands around his neck, ignoring the panicked rabbit. 'Let's switch back to Naegi.'
Chapter 13: Hiccup
Makoto remains optimistic.
Shuichi in hospital with Oma.
Hajime is snatched.
If Naegi Makoto truly had a talent called luck, he'd brush everything bad that happened,
especially during the Parade under the rug, and continue living his life with his classmates. Sadly, life isn't all flowers and rainbows.
Makoto almost pulled the trigger if it weren't for Kokichi. However, Kokichi got backstabbed, literally. It's a miracle that it missed a vital organ. The people inside were ready for an ambush. Makoto and Kokichi could've died if not for Shuichi. However, Shuichi has fallen into despair. His roommate wanted to kill Makoto but found it bothersome to see him refusing to leave the deadweight.
If it weren't for Kyoko's intervention, Makoto wouldn't have made it out in time with Kokichi. Yet, Makoto wouldn't know what he'll do if she died there... Makoto didn't see the two detectives fight, but the explosion and the injuries were the end product. While the emergency team secured Kokichi, Makoto learned Kyoko coordinated with the police and mobilized the officials to prepare capture. It was there Makoto obtained a handful of folders from the colleagues of Hajime's uncle, giving him a deadline despite almost losing his and his friend's lives.
"Let's be honest, kid. No one's going to remember you once you graduate."
"..." Makoto clenched his fist, unable to speak back. Hajime's family environment was... worse than he imagined it to be. Which was worse: absent parents or crappy guardians?
"Is this really necessary?" Kyoko asked, sitting beside him as they return to Hope's Peak Academy. Three out of ten hostages survived, the mastermind being the former Ultimate Chess master. The female had bandages wrapped around her ankle, due to the sprain from running, as well as the large glass shard cuts from the recent fight. She wanted to come with him after learning he called for a cab, asking the staff to notify her of any change to Shuichi and Kokichi's condition. "Those who fall into despair cannot generally be rationalized with."
"I... I know, but Hinata-kun is my friend. I can't just abandon him," Makoto sat straight to avoid having his bruises touch the car. His arms and legs are littered with bruises because he and Kokichi kept encountering trap after trap. When he received news Hajime fell into despair, the Ultimate knew he had to come back ASAP. 'Hinata-kun has no reason to fall into despair because his trigger is...'
"I know you want to save your friend, but we should leave it to the professionals, Naegi-kun." Kyoko placed a hand on the folders between them. She's reviewed some of the files while they waited for the taxi, alerting him it had similar details Shuichi presented her days prior.
"..." Makoto couldn't tell her the specifics, unsure how to explain his experience in the Reserve Dormitory during the Parade. IMPOSSIBLE. If it were an ordinary day, Makoto would be trying and failing to ask the Ultimate Detective out. He recently got a pep talk from Mondo and Kiyotaka before he was called to the Principal's office. 'How could today turn so bad?'
"Hinata-kun..." Makoto struggled to explain why he has to meet his roommate. He had a lot of ways to start the conversation, eventually ending up with "I don't think he's fallen into despair. It's not possible. I don't believe it."
"And why is that?" Kyoko is staring at him with an inquisitive gaze. Makoto couldn't say it without revealing his own issue. The fact he, too, had fallen into despair in the past. Someone as optimistic as him fell into despair.
"I just know." Makoto couldn't say it. He didn't want her to worry. He didn't want anyone to find out. It's best this way. He'll think positively and ensure that condition never does happen. The odds of it happening are slim. Makoto returned her gaze, confident in his words. "Whatever Hinata-kun is experiencing right now must have come from the Future Foundation."
"The Future Foundation...?!" Kyoko quickly pulled out her phone, texting and searching on news. Makoto glanced back outside, seeing they're still halfway there. The detective muttered, "That is one possibility. They're still under lockdown. No news from the people inside. I'll notify the staff members affiliated with the organization."
"Then there's that girl Hinata-kun and Oma-kun are acquainted with..." Makoto added, recalling his talk with Hajime and Kokichi. The girl who managed to track Shuichi's whereabouts faster than the government. He finally glanced down at the folder, "And the folders."
"Towa Monaca, the assigned Lil' Ultimate of Homeroom..." Kyoko researched the girl before he did, adding. "Estranged ties with family, a leader figure to her class and a problematic child in general. They are one of the classes left unharmed during the Parade."
"If we can't visit Hinata-kun, we either visit the Elementary Department of Hope's Peak or contact Kuzuryu-san and hope she gives us answers." Makoto proposed, although his intuition tells him the worse has yet to come. Something's brewing, and he's going to be alone this time to stop it.
"All right." Kyoko knew he's keeping secrets from her, but she stayed quiet for the rest of the car ride. Makoto refused to look at his phone, busy dwelling on the situation. Shuichi's in the hospital. Hajime is in the ward.
'But I won't give up! Things will get better!'
As soon as they entered the school, Makoto and Kyoko parted ways. The detective heads to the elementary department while he visits the principal's office to inquire from the Ultimate Neurologist or Therapist where they're keeping Hajime. Noting the unrest and paranoid glances of the reserve students towards their direction, both agreed to visit the department was an unwise decision.
Rumors are spreading within the student body. The Admin has yet to address it.
Negativity spreads like cancer. It is an uncontrollable growth that spreads within society. Surgically removing the perpetrators are ineffective remedies. Isolating and rehabilitating them produces similar results. ['However, the same goes with positivity, Naegi.'] Hajime told Makoto they'll listen to him, but the Ultimate Good luck Student knows something bad will happen if he
"Ah?!" Makoto tripped and fell into the bush when the building on his right exploded. He bit his lower lip, hissing as his bruised arms landed on cement. 'What's going on...?'
"???" Makoto sat up, still hidden within the bushes, and saw several shady people exit the building. No. These guys were wearing reserve student uniforms? Makoto searched for his phone, snapping a photo of the vehicle that came by and sent it to the detective. Makoto couldn't use his gun because he gave it to Kyoko out of instinct. She did use both guns to get out alive. He texted, [How did they pass through security? They don't even look like reserve students?!]
'What else can I do?' Makoto thought to himself, deciding to live stream it and pray Shuichi is no longer in despair when he sees this. He can't share this with his class. They might freak out big time! Makoto also can't share this with the other class representatives because someone could be a traitor. Makoto was walking on a thin line.
"???" His live stream got cut. Makoto checked his phone on what stopped it. The message was sent late to him ten minutes ago.
Hinata Hajime named the group HO9EFEA5T.
Hinata Hajime: 未来機関⛽☣️
Hinata Hajime: 🚫🏫Naegi
Hinata Hajime: 🧭新宿区🔞🚦🚧🔥🔚
Hinata Hajime added Matsuda Yasuke to the group.
Hinata Hajime added Mitarai Ryota to the group.
Hinata Hajime added Makoto Naegi to the group.
Hinata Hajime added Ikusaba Mukuro to the group.
Hinata Hajime added Akamatsu Kaede to the group.
Hinata Hajime added Harukawa Maki to the group.
Mitarai Ryota: Eh?
Hinata Hajime: 2🕛⚔️🕛3
Harukawa Maki: Is this a prank?
Harukawa Maki: Is this a prank?
Akamatsu Kaede replied to this message: It's not. I know him, Harukawa-san.
Harukawa Maki: Hn.
Akamatsu Kaede: @Hinata Hajime What happened to Saihara-kun and Oma-kun?
Ikusaba Mukuro: @Makoto Naegi Where are you?
Hinata Hajime: 未来機関⛽☣️
Mitarai Ryota responded to this message: Future Foundation gas poison?
Akamatsu Kaede: @Everyone! I can't contact him. Do you know where he is?
Matsuda Yasuke: Everyone. Head to the principal's office. Now.
*BANG BANG BANG BANG!*
"?!" Makoto was busy reading his text message when he heard a series of gunshots from the area. He looked away from the shady group for two minutes, now shot down by none other than his classmate: The Ultimate Soldier, Ikusaba Mukuro.
"Ikusaba-san!?" Makoto stood up in alarm, and the girl pointed her gun at him. He knew she wouldn't harm him, but he still flinched from the calculative gaze she directed at him.
"M-makoto-kun!" She stuttered, placing her gun back in her holster, and headed to his area. "Are you okay? Did any of them harm you?"
"No..." Makoto glanced at the bloody scene, a little unnerved her classmate could do all this in a matter of minutes. He grabbed her hand, dragging her with him. "Can you come with me for a while? I want to hear what Matsuda-san wants to say."
"Ok.." Mukuro was blushing for some reason. Makoto didn't have time to think about it.
They eventually ran side by side to the Old Main School building, Mukuro carrying him bridal style after Makoto almost lost his leg while running down the path.
Chapter 14: Fever
Shuichi somewhat out of it.
Hajime is missing.
Makoto is preparing for a rescue mission.
When Shuichi woke up, the first thing he saw was his uncle walking out of the room.
"W-wait!" Shuichi croaked, but the door closed. The reserve student sat up, only to experience a pounding headache that caused him to fall back on the bed. The male checked his neck and forehead, concluding he contracted a fever(?) However, staying still was not part of his agenda.
'Where am I?' Turning his head to his right, Shuichi can see the starless night sky. He turned to his left, seeing the Ultimate Supreme Leader on the other bed.
"So... That's what happened," Shuichi remembered killing people, but he felt... Dissatisfaction over his actions. His plan was foiled because of Naegi and Oma... Shuichi frowned, 'Getting foiled by two Ultimates who can't even control their talent? No wonder I didn't get the title.'
'But I found something even better to pass the time,' Shuichi sat back up slowly this time, removing the IV needle stuck on him. He's confused why the staff would do such a thing. He didn't have a lot of injuries. It should be the Ultimate Detective lying on this bed. Shuichi got his feet off the bed, testing his feet before standing up.
'What should I do first?' The teen pondered, unable to find any form of entertainment within his vicinity. At the very least, his parents would place him in a separate room with a TV and the usual get-well bouquets. Then again, Naegi might have warned his uncle about his habits. 'I can't wake my roommate up because I vividly recall stabbing him on the back, which was meant for Naegi-kun.'
"..." Shuichi chose to walk around, examining the room. White lights. Grey carpet. Beige walls. Salmon pink curtains.
"?" Shuichi searched the cabinets and drawers, grabbing a phone that belonged to Kokichi. It was through the reflective surface of the phone did Shuichi notice his crimson eyes. 'Would this prevent me from entering the school?'
'Hm?' Shuichi also grabbed a letter, accidentally letting the contents fall onto the table. The sealed test tube fell and surprisingly didn't break. The transparent liquid inside said test tube caught his attention. Shuichi read the letter, [You or your friend.]
'Is this a threat?' Shuichi chuckled, setting the letter down and grabbing the test tube. This was no harmless substance. 'I'll think about this later.'
'Now then,' Shuichi set the vial on the table side, sitting down on Oma's bed to guess the other's password. It took two tries before he got it right, scraping whatever his mind had to offer.
"?!" Shuichi almost fell off the bed because he wanted to lean on the wall for some support. He glanced back at the sleeping form, but Oma's really out cold. The detective was guilty not because he injured Oma but the fact he was about to give the Ultimate such a terrible way to die. During the Parade, Shuichi made execution schemes for each of his friends. He wanted to share this feeling with them, the ecstasy of despair.
'And if I die for the sake of despair, I pray my death will bring them closer to the truth.' Shuichi moved his finger to fiddle with Oma's stray bang, curious when this guy would wake up...
"No answer?" Shuichi tried calling Hajime and Makoto, but nothing. Kaede as well. Shuichi opted to read the group chat and private messages, realizing what Hinata Hajime had done.
"How cruel of you, Hinata-kun..." Shuichi smiled, wishing he'd be there to witness the fake practical exam Hajime pushed the Ultimates in. The detective decided to call the one person who would definitely be the first to check the aftermath, staring outside the window. As soon as the person answered, Shuichi spoke up: "Is this Naegi Komaru? Can you kindly come to Hope's Peak Academy tomorrow in case your brother goes into relapse? Thank you."
"..." Shuichi looked up at the ceiling, debating whether to search the prankster or interrogate Oma. For some reason, he didn't know what to do. Maybe he should play along for now, but would that even work? 'Decisions. Decisions... Which is more despairing?'
Chapter 15: Hangover
Makoto is resting...
Hajime misses his roomies.
Shuichi is in the principal's office.
After his stunt, the brunette expected to wake up in the nurse's office and not an unfamiliar dormitory room. Strapped against a chair, Hajime watched two Ultimates talk about Shinjuku. [They were both Makoto's classmates.] The black-haired female rushed out while the blonde turned in his direction, leaving him with a psycho. This is his second attempt getting out of the room, limping down the hallway to realize that woman contained him in the main school building. The reserve student paid attention to every noise and detail, tugging his sleeves to hide the marks.
"..." Hajime shivered, refusing to remember what happened in that room. Right now, he wants to see his roommates. The principal should know. Hajime climbed up the stairs. 'If I was inside the school, why didn't anyone save me when I cried for help?'
'It doesn't make sense...' Reaching the fourth floor, the brunette could hear the voices inside as he approached the Headmaster's office. Twisting the doorknob, he opened the door.
The room was silent when he entered the room.
"..." Hajime scanned the room. Parents of Makoto, Principal Kirigiri, Shuichi, and his uncle, Matsukura/Kamuda(?) ship, Ryota and Komaeda.
"Tsumiki-san. How can Hinata-kun be dead if he's standing right in front of us?" The local detective inquired. Shuichi has an arm cast, probably from his fight with the Ultimate Detective-
"?!" Hajime almost missed the last two people in the room, and maybe he shouldn't have realized because those two are the reason he got trapped in that room. 'The two accomplices of that bitch.'
"I-I wasn't allowed to examine the b-bodies!" Tsumiki Mikan stuttered, hugging her files.
"It doesn't matter. I'm alive. That's what matters." Hajime knew Shuichi was still out of it. The Shuichi he knew would be hugging him or rushing to his side and coddling him. "How's Naegi?"
"He's resting in the infirmary, sweetie. Komaru is watching over him.." Makoto's mom spoke up, the same woman Hajime needed to protect when the naive parent visited their dorm one time during the PARADE. It was why the Naegi family allowed Makoto to continue staying in the Reserve dormitory. These guys being here meant something bad happened.
"What happened to your eye, Hinata-san?" Makoto's father inquired. It's the first time he'd seen Makoto's father, so he can see why people mistook him as Makoto's older brother. "Cosplay?"
"Exactly." Hajime wearily smiled, rubbing the bandage that woman placed after... Hajime glanced at Yasuke and was about to ask him for serious help... Then, he recalled Junko's words, and suddenly that didn't sound like a great idea. Hajime took a step back, bidding the people inside. "I'll go check on him."
"G reat ." Hajime closed the door, limping towards the elevator. Shuichi's still kinda loco, and the detective's own uncle doesn't notice it. Makoto's parents are in danger if Hajime blurts out the truth. Two people can instantly defend Junko's credibility, maybe three because Yasuke is a simp. The principal is an Ultimate simp. Chiaki's classmates? Everyone but Ryota can be trusted. Sadly, the animator is as vulnerable as Makoto's parents. Don't get him started with the baby because there's a reason why Hajime ships the guy with Yasuke.
"Come on..." Hajime's pressing the button repeatedly, watching Ryota running towards his area. He knew his fellow brunette could get in on time, but why did Nagito and Izuru want to hitch a ride too?
'The day keeps getting worse.' Hajime leaned on the wall. "Going to visit Naegi too?"
"Well-" Ryota was interrupted.
"Yes," Nagito smiled, staring down at his... Hajime glanced down, staring at his blood-stained pants. That woman didn't change his pants after she dragged him back into the room, smashing his... Hajime wondered why she didn't destroy his other leg. "Did something happen?"
"I tripped ." Hajime gave the same excuse the albino offered when Hajime helped the Ultimate out of the trashcan. Hajime watched Ryota lean beside him, curious what the animator was reading, and peeked at the files- The details made his blood run cold. "Discard that."
"Huh?" Ryota stared at him, but Hajime knew what was going to happen next. During the parade, he and several others wanted to do whatever the Mastermind loved. If it weren't for Makoto, then Hajime would have- But she forgives everyone! The plan can still push through. The world will finally-
"Just don't. Trust me." Hajime rubbed his temple-?! He made his bruise there bleed. Hajime dropped his arm. Once his adrenaline runs out, he's going to be in a world of pain.
Ignoring Nagito occasionally looking in his direction, Hajime took his time walking to avoid showing his injuries. It's really starting to hurt. Which part? Everything. Hajime might actually cry if he didn't have this gaping emptiness in his chest trying to swallow him whole. Izuru and Nagito went around to visit the other Ultimates, leaving Ryota with him.
'What did I miss?' The infirmary held quite a several students, but Hajime's more focused on checking his roomie. On a more important note, the Ultimate Pharmacist is here. 'I'll talk to her later.'
"She's been watching over him since last night," Ryota told him once they reached Makoto's area. Makoto looked like shit, worse than him with all the bandages. Komaru was sitting next to his bedside, holding her brother's hand and fast asleep.
"Cute." Hajime wished his parents had sex more.
"Hinata-kun.." Ryota whispered as Hajime drew a smiley face on Makoto's cheek. "Y-you're bleeding."
"No shit, Mitarai!" Hajime laughed, wiping his eye as the pain was really starting to kick in. "Is your practical exams pushing through?"
"Yes." Ryota looked at him in fear. It's the same response this guy gave him until Hajime threatened him to make a video to counter the madness.
Even if temporarily.
"Damn. Ah well. When Naegi wakes up, talk to him about the document," Hajime walked away to see Seiko. "Kimura!"
"What is-?" The Ultimate turned around just in time to hear the body collapse.
Chapter 16: Preparation
Makoto changing dorms... School keeping secrets.
Shuichi lonely because Hajime still being treated.
Hajime gets snuck out by Shuichi because of groupchat.
Next: Testing site.
Makoto woke up by a loud sound, forcing his eyes to open and flinch immediately back to recover in the darkness. Everything was too bright. He tried moving, but he was held back by something. Something's beeping really loudly. People started yelling. Makoto gasped, remembering what happened that night. The night where all those people... They
"Calm down, Onii-chan!" His sister. Komaru? Why is she? "You're safe now! I'm here!"
"..." Makoto took deep breaths, trying to calm down as his vision returned to him. The FEAST last night was... Horrific didn't even describe the event. Everyone in that venue had all succumbed to despair, celebrating in the strangest ways imaginable. None of the team that entered was gravely injured, but they were scarred for life after witnessing something as grotesque as that. They prevented the explosion, but so many lives... Gone.
"Komaru." Makoto choked out, reaching his arms out to get a hug from his sibling. He didn't understand why those people did that. He didn't understand what despair did to them, but all he knew was the dread of what this mentality could cause to others. The world could end the same way as these people if despair were to take over. That almost happened.
It could happen again. Makoto couldn't. He wouldn't let that happen!
"You had me so worried!" Komaru gave him a tight hug, her voice cracking. "Don't do that ever again."
"Sorry." Makoto hugged her back, tears falling down his eyes. He doesn't want to, but... He can't make that promise. "I'm so sorry."
"..." The feeling of home lulled him back to sleep.
Miraculously, they were all able to get back to their feet after a couple days' rest. It was probably because the principal asked for the help of the other Alumni to pitch in. Hajime didn't say who kidnapped him, but the brunette gave a hint it was related to the Mastermind of the PARADE. Ryota... Hajime must be telling him to keep ties with the guy. He'll do that. They did experience more than their fair share of experience with reserve students in and out of despair.
Other than the fact he and Kaede needed to visit Doctor Gekkogahara every week, Makoto had to transfer to the Main Course dormitory because his parents were worried about him. Hajime was still in the hospital when he packed his stuff, Shuichi finally snapping back after... Well? He needed the help of Oma and Kaede to-
"?!" Makoto sat up from his bed as the door was slammed open. It was nearing the practical exams for the Main Course, so the dorm was pretty empty or quiet nowadays. Makoto didn't know what to do, so he voiced it out on chat. Seeing his 3rd-year senpai, Makoto knew exactly who initiated the visit, pointing his finger at the instigator. "Shouldn't you be resting?!"
"And leave you in distress? I think not!" Hajime scoffed, carrying a sports bag with Shuichi. Both reserve students were wearing shades, so it was surprising to see them slip past the guards. Hajime answered his concern like the mind reader he was. "Saihara bribed the guards with food, then I tricked the Ultimate scammer to give us this stuff before coming here..."
"Naegi-kun didn't need to know that." Shuichi facepalmed, shaking his head. Yeah... Maybe Shuichi will be the voice of reason for this month?
"But he kept calling me Naegi..." Hajime glanced at his friend. Makoto may have also facepalmed because neither chose to correct the guy's assumption.
"What are a couple of reserves doing here?" Nagito asked, sipping his tea as he read the book from the new library.
"S-sorry. I invited them here," Makoto apologized, completely forgetting to tell Hajime about his roommates.
"I see.." Nagito looked back at the two students. The two were suddenly in a debate of sorts, which the two lucky students tried to ignore. "Do you want us to leave?"
"No need. It won't be long," Makoto told his senpai...?
"Komakamu does have a nice ring to it..." Hajime stroked his chin. His friend either really hates them to the point of pairing the two OR really knows one of them.
"Why not Kamukoma?" Shuichi wondered, and Kamukura finally removed the headphones he was wearing. Makoto searched for something to get those two to stop talking. "Hear my case. Kamukura-kun may be a passive character, but he'll consider Komaeda-kun's feelings and take the initiative!"
"But can Komaeda handle the Ultimate pe-" Hajime got hit by a pillow before he could continue his sentence, which stayed on his face. Hajime took off the pillow and stared at it in confusion. "Pillow is defective."
"What if it's the pillowcase that's defective?" Shuichi offered another reason, grabbing the pillow and feeling the cover. "Never mind. It's the power of luck."
"In second thought, we'll be heading out." Makoto is already grabbing his hoodie and packing some stuff they might need. He hoped neither would remember his friends' bizarre conversation. "Sorry for the inconvenience!"
"We don't mind." Nagito offered a light-hearted smile. "Right, Kamukura-kun?"
"Hn..." Izuru blinked. The Ultimate was either meditating or sleeping. Makoto will never know.
"If so, what type of luck did Komaeda use?" Hajime frowned. "Assuming his luck is similar to Naegi, the guy would specialize in either good or bad."
"Sadly, I reviewed his background and discovered he has shown equal luck in his lifetime." Shuichi swung the sports bag around. "However, there have to be guidelines for the school to consider someone with the luck talent."
"By a lottery ticket?" Hajime threw the pillow back on the bed nearby. "Speaking of the Ultimate lucky student, who got picked in Akamatsu's batch?"
"Guys! Can you keep it quiet? My roommates are trying to rest." Makoto sighed, but the two didn't seem to care.
"She's dead..." Shuichi grimaced, adding. "The body was found chained on a roulette. She was littered with darts, also sporting a Cheshire smile."
"Oddly specific." Hajime raised an eyebrow when he looked back at his friend. "Were you assigned to the site?"
"It was in the photo album you burnt before we got taken to the facility," Shuichi shrugged.
"Wait, what?" Hajime squinted.
"Bye!" Makoto pushed his friends out the door and waved goodbye before closing the door behind him.
"GUYS! I thought we agreed not to talk about anything under the sun unless we're in a safe area?" Makoto waved his hands at them.
"Technically, we're in a safe space because that room is yours," Shuichi explained, and Makoto lightly pushed the guy.
"To be honest, Saihara was the one who snuck me out," Hajime placed one hand on his hip. "He really misses us, and I'm still too sleepy to make sense of everything. Drugs are strange."
"Finally!" Shuichi gave the bag to Hajime, who accepted it. The detective clapped his hands, eager. "Are you ready, Naegi-kun?!"
"What will we be doing exactly?" Makoto asked as they marched forward.
"Help you prepare for your test," Shuichi replied.
Chapter 17: Volunteer
Makoto expected this level of chaos.
Hajime texting friends for help, gets program.
Shuichi treats it like a game.
Shuichi's memory wasn't doing well after his latest assignment with his uncle. His clearest memory would be waking up with Kaede and Kokichi hugging him. Makoto was even crying for some reason, but none of them would say anything. Anyway, Shuichi was left in the dorm since Makoto transferred and Hajime was sent to the hospital... He will admit the room feels lonely without the usual chaos.
When Shuichi was walking to visit Hajime in the hospital, Makoto began texting on their group chat. The detective understands why his friend is worrying about the practical exams. Luck is pretty difficult to test or showcase to the crowd. Because his uncle gave him a break, Shuichi decided he should help Makoto.
First step: Kidnap (sleepy) patient Hajime.
Second step: Discuss a plan to assist Makoto (like a surprise party.)
Third step: Get volunteers (Hajime) and reserve venues (Shuichi).
Fourth step: Infiltrate the Main Dormitory (with STYLE)?
Fifth step: Take Makoto to the venue.
Everything was going according to plan until the participants entered the room. When the detective asked the brunette to find volunteers, Shuichi expected the introvert to ask in the school forums. What Shuichi didn't expect was the fact Hajime's invitation got around fifty main course students inside the gym.
"I told you to get ten students who are available within this period," Shuichi waved his hands at the crowd in front of them, "so why is there half the main course population inside the gym?!"
"Listen. I asked if anyone was available to play some games. It's not my fault they want to play games." Hajime couldn't look at him in the eyes, albeit guilty he got too many people. "Ok. Fine. It is my fault, but I may have a plan to obtain our 10 volunteers. However, you have to promise me not to question my actions."
"... Does it involve a gun?" Shuichi asked, looking at the side to see Makoto chatting with his friends. He looked back at Hajime as more people were entering the room, "Please let your plan NOT be a gun."
"... I have plan B!" Hajime made Shuichi laugh in exasperation. "We might also end up in the Principal's office after this."
"Oh my god..." Shuichi mumbled under his breath, grabbing the megaphone they obtained from the scammer bag. "As long as no one dies."
"Worst case, they drown." Hajime's words made Shuichi look at his friend, who's already texting on his phone.
"What?" Shuichi asked. "Drown?"
"They can swim, right?" Hajime asked a rhetorical question.
"What if they can't?" Shuichi frowned. They were both standing in the stadium, watching more people enter. "Hinata-kun. More people are coming in."
"I sent a program to you," Hajime explained, still texting to someone. Shuichi opened his phone and needed to download and install a foreign program.
"What does it do?" Shuichi asked, surprised how slow it was taking.
"This." Hajime used his phone like a remote, closing the doors of the outdoor gym. Hajime then pointed at the curtains, making the curtains move left and right. "Also this. Neat, right?"
"Why would anyone program to move the curtains?" Shuichi ignored the students, who got surprised at the doors closing. "Oh. It's done."
"You host," Hajime pointed his phone to drop the projector screen. "I'll be assistant."
"All right. What do we have here?" Shuichi looked at the projector that flickered to life, staring at the game selection screen. "Elimination games?"
"I really want to know who made this. It's really..." Shuichi realized a lot of them are sinisterly playful. "Was this made during the parade?"
"Yes~" Hajime drawled, looking up at the ceiling. "Which is why we are definitely going to the Principal's office after this."
" Fun. " Shuichi finally selected a game. A simple game. Glass walls fell down and isolated the volunteers away from the two reserve students and the chairs at the side.
The projector flickered like an old cinema, a little eerie because of the child song.
"Is that truly luck?" Hajime asked as the two reserve students listened to the game mechanics. All the students had to do was not fall as the platforms below them vanished one by one.
"I don't know, but it requires quick thinking..." Shuichi couldn't even hear the voices on the other side. Before Shuichi could speak through the megaphone, everyone started screaming when the platforms suddenly vanished. People are falling.
"ROUND ONE. COMPLETE!"
"You think Naegi would survive this?" Hajime pondered.
"I hope so..." Shuichi managed to catch sight of Rantaro tugging Tsumugi before she fell. "Where do you think the hole goes?"
"Transport them to another area through the water." Hajime sat down, watching the students look around in panic. "I remember some students considering this game mechanic an easy transport away from this place."
"ROUND TWO. COMPLETE!"
"So the only risk would be drowning..." Shuichi nodded slowly, seeing half the platforms were gone. "Does that mean we're adrenaline junkies for creating so scary as to fall into nowhere?"
"Maybe?" Hajime looked back at his phone. "This will be the last, I think."
"ROUND THREE. COMPLETE!"
The platform returned, making it as if the gym had never been a warzone in the first place. Shuichi decided to examine the room to check how many students were left. They all seem frazzled at the quick game.
"We will keep playing elimination games until at least ten remain!" Hajime plucked the megaphone out of Shuichi's hand, telling the students who probably think they're crazy. Hajime looked at Shuichi, "What's the next game?"
"Lemme see..." Shuichi looked at the game selection. "They're all childish..."
"But if we choose the adult games, it'll be difficult," Hajime explained, receiving a notif. "Ah... I guess the eliminated students end up in the bio garden on the other side."
"Any casualty?" Shuichi asked, debating High-Low or Lucky Roulette. High-Low will give the students a 50-50, but Lucky Roulette will definitely remove most students.
"Nah. The principal is being tagged." Hajime nodded. Shuichi chose High-Low.
"Eh?" Shuichi blinked as there was a chance the number would be the exact number from the previous number. "Ok. Now that's luck."
"This still feels like a 50-50." Hajime pondered. "Also, do you think these guys expected teamwork activities?"
"ROUND ONE. COMPLETE!"
"You asked for 10 volunteer s to play games. What do you think?" Shuichi bonked Hajime's head. "Of course, they're going to misinterpret."
"But it's their fault for still entering this place after realizing more than 10 students are inside." Hajime rubbed his head.
"ROUND TWO. COMPLETE!"
"Why are these people so smart?" Shuichi fiddled with his hat, having abandoned his shades because it's hard to see things. "I'm glad Naegi-kun is still in the game, but so many people are still alive."
"Hey. At least they're not scared-" Hajime watched someone jump off the platform. "What the fuck?"
"ROUND THREE. COMPLETE!"
"I'm going, to be honest with you. We have to change our elimination strategy before we create suicidal people," Hajime warned.
"Maybe they want to experience the water transportation experience?" Shuichi suggested. "Not every day you realize your school has neat mechanics."
"True true." Hajime nodded.
"ROUND FOUR. COMPLETE!"
"Kamukoma ship is alive!" Hajime gasped. Right on time, the duo glared at them. Hajime didn't seem to mind the glare, but Shuichi did. They won't be able to visit Makoto any time soon. Hajime continued, "I'm already depositing money in my savings account in case Naegi does befriend the guy. He's pretty useful."
"Now, you sound like a user." Shuichi checked the game menu once more. He'll probably need one more game to make them less than 20.
[Lucky Number Roulette]
"Even the lighting of the room changes," Shuichi remarked when the lights flickered and changed to different colors. The projector screen flickering once more to explain the game. The entire room is coded from 1-25 , where only 1 tile will be safe.
"Now, that's luck." Hajime whistled. "What if we get less than 5 students after this?"
"..." Shuichi thought about that because he imagined Hajime being a lazy butt and not do what he asked. "We only need five, so that's okay."
"Hm~" Hajime glanced back at the students.
"ROUND ONE. COMPLETE!"
'Smart.' Shuichi and Hajime thought at the same time, watching students literally relying on Makoto and Nagito.
"ROUND TWO. COMPLETE!"
"Let's increase the difficulty." Hajime pointed his phone on the alternate side, dropping another projector screen.
"YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING WITH ME?!" Someone screamed and was able to pass through the glass. No one knows who said that, but Hajime laughed.
"Oh yeah. We're increasing the difficulty." Hajime activated the next game.
"You cruel fiend." Shuichi muttered, the screen explaining to the students that dodgeballs will randomly be thrown towards them in certain intervals.
"ROUND ONE. COMPLETE!"
"ROUND THREE. COMPLETE!"
"Now we're decreasing them." Hajime set his phone down, watching the Ultimate Clairvoyant fall. "We are also getting coal for Christmas."
"That's okay. I always wanted a charcoal pencil." Shuichi watched the team.
"ROUND TWO. COMPLETE!"
"ROUND FOUR. COMPLETE!"
"We might also end up in the hitlist..." Shuichi pressed his mouth in a thin line when Naegi's rich *cough* Not admirer *cough* fell.
"I actually like Naegami ship. They're cute," Hajime was already cutting his nails, waiting for the students to lessen.
"Are you asking for a fight, huh?" Shuichi will defend the Naegiri ship any day.
"ROUND THREE. COMPLETE!"
"ROUND FIVE. COMPLETE!"
"Sorry, boss. I promise not to question Naegiri supremacy." Hajime looked up. "Oh. It's done."
"Finally." Shuichi didn't mind the result, staring at the remaining students. "We have a big day ahead of us, and these minigames are tiring."
"Thank you for surviving the elimination games!" Shuichi used the megaphone, the glass walls finally lifting up and the lights returning back to normal. The projector screens are lifted up, Hajime packing the stuff up for the real pre-test. "Due to certain technicalities, we'll be moving to a new venue to avoid the admin. Thank you."
"We will rely on Kamukoma and Naegi luck to get through today," Hajime hummed.
"That, we will." Shuichi lowered the megaphone.
Chapter 18: Venue
Makoto is mediator.
Shuichi has a coloring book for a map.
Hajime doesn't feel loved.
Next: House arrest
"Do you think the volunteer selection is also based on luck?" Shuichi wondered, walking beside Hajime as they led the team to the venue. Hajime wasn't sure what to tell him, looking behind to examine the participants.
"Let's see..." Hajime counted all of the people behind them. "We have the Liar duo, Ultimate Gambler and Ultimate Supreme Leader. Obviously, we have the two Ultimate Lucky students tagging along. I did expect the Ultimate Adventurer and Ultimate Gamer to tag along since they're friends with some of us. However, I find it concerning we have the Ultimate Hope coming along, but at least the child will have a team member, which is the Ultimate..."
"What is it?" Shuichi asked, also looking behind. Hajime and Shuichi stared at the ginger wearing a mustache. "Is that..."
"I'm afraid so..." Hajime agreed, both students looking back on the road. The brunette continued, "We have an impostor."
"The pills are killing your brain cells," Shuichi laughed, nudging his elbow. "That's Yukizome Chisa, the Ultimate Housekeeper. What are we going to do?"
"Are you sure?" Hajime looked back, staring at the woman who gave him a thumbs-up. Chiaki and Nagito face palmed. Hajime squinted at the woman not wearing a student uniform. "She doesn't look like a teacher..."
"I guess I really am the brains for today," Shuichi sighed. Hajime didn't respond, simply following the detective. "According to Towa-san, you left Naegi-kun a surprise right around this block."
"You do know I only talk to and about Monaca when I'm 50-50 despair, right?" Hajime admitted, feeling a little bad when the doctors introduced the green-haired girl to him. Hajime didn't know what to say, and the child started crying.
"I see... But I have a feeling the surprise you wanted to give Naegi-kun is related to his talent," Shuichi looked up from the coloring book. They arrived in front of an abandoned building with yellow tape all around it.
"Looks abandoned..." Hajime remarked, looking back at Shuichi's map drawn in a coloring book. "You sure she didn't trick you?"
"She insisted I take it," Shuichi shook his head and went under the tape. Hajime chose to cut it, accidentally triggering a flurry of fireworks from within the trees.
"?!" Both Hajime and Shuichi looked up at the sky, the smoke descending down and... Burned the building...? The reserve students squinted as the image of the building burned down. The brunette frowned, "What the fuck?"
"It's a huge casino... Entertainment hotel facility?" Shuichi's trying to guess, but it's really colorful. "I'm more surprised how no one investigated this place."
"I could have paid my debt with this amount of funds!" Hajime huffed, walking forward to examine the area. The area was clean, unnaturally clean for a place abandoned for... less than half a year. Staring at the tiger lilies planted in the area, Hajime frowned. "I like sunflowers, while Saihara likes those small flowers."
"Did you forget my favorite flower-" Shuichi wasn't able to end his sentence when Hajime looked behind them.
"Naegi?!" Hajime knows Makoto knows what he's talking about, asking. "What's your favorite fla-?!"
"NOT THESE FLOWERS!" Makoto answered back, probably talking with the rest of the students to calm them down. This is the first time they'll be with other people. Hajime hoped nothing- Who is he kidding? Something bad is going to happen.
"?!" Hajime caught Shuichi's arm before his friend fell, staring at the screen that emerged from the floor. Now that he thought about it, maybe the building looks clean because of the tiles? 'No. That's wrong. The tile is close to the Earth. The rain and Typhoon should have caused some level of disturbance.'
"Thanks," Shuichi thanked him, standing back up to see the screen flicker to life.
"Happy birthday!" The ones greeting them were the deceased Reserve Course Student Council members. Hajime found it funny how the students could waste their resources for- The Student Council President addressed, "Naegi-kun. On behalf of our department, we humbly present to you a challenge unlike any other..."
"Ah..." Both Shuichi and Hajime said at the same time, now knowing who this gift was supposed to be for. Makoto did, at some point in time, fall into Despair. Hajime knew... Based on documents and testimonies... That Makoto-
"Who knew Naegi-kun would have garnered a fan club?" Celestia covered her mouth, causing Makoto to wave his hands and shake his head.
"You misunderstand, Celestia-san! I'm sure this is some sort of...." (Hajime's attention shifted to examine the rest of the students.)
Chiaki seems to be close to Chisa, Nagito, and Izuru. Rantaro is chatting with Kokichi, the two sharing looks at Shuichi and nodding. Shuichi is analyzing the video while Makoto chats with his classmate. Hajime also notices cameras on the building pointing in their direction, making him feel a little wary.
"I think you guys can go ahead and explore the area," Shuichi told the participants, watching the reserve students continue to talk about Makoto and how nice he is etcetera. Hajime yawned as the detective promised. "We'll catch up after this ."
"I'm touched, creeped out, and confused," Makoto said as soon as most of the students left their side, the trio still listening to the video talk about the Ultimate Lucky Student. "Why build a place for me? Why not pay for Hinata-kun's tuition debt?"
"Because he isn't cute," Shuichi nodded.
"Hey! I'm cute!" As soon as Hajime said this, several students at the entrance began to cough. Hajime squinted at Kokichi, Chiaki, Nagito, and Rantaro ran into the building. "If only I could disown friends and change my name to Hinata."
"But your name is... Hinata?" Makoto made Hajime glare at him. "I think you're cute."
"I don't need pity." Hajime scoffed. "Especially from the one called cute!"
"I'm not cute!" Makoto proved their point, trying his best to look menacing.
"Sorry. You are cute." Shuichi shook his head, and did Makoto pout? Hajime looked away, finding that adorable-
"Actually, you are not as cute as Kamukura," Hajime pointed at one of the students who stayed with them to watch the video. "Look at him. He wouldn't hurt a fly."
"I specifically remember Kamukura-kun killed someone in the failed video about the Student Council Killing Game," Shuichi hit Hajime's head with the color book.
"I don't know... Kamukura-kun does look innocent..." Makoto agreed. Izuru stayed quiet, staring at the TV as if it was interesting.
"Oh, Hajime! If you're there..."
"Eh?" Hajime looked up, staring at the gun pointed at the screen right at him.
"?!" Hajime got tugged by the collar, almost shot as a bullet passed through the screen.
"I almost di-Hey! A treasure chest." Hajime turned his head to see where the bullet went, noticing the treasure box. He looked back at his savior, "I knew you cared about me."
"..." Izuru let go and walked away, leaving them alone at last.
"Tsundere or kuudere?" Shuichi debated. Hajime shrugged, heading to open the treasure chest. "I can never tell with Kamukura-kun."
"He's definitely a kuudere," Makoto nodded sagely, Hajime finding pamphlets in the chest. He grabbed some walking back to his team. "Komaeda is a deredere with some personality issues."
"... Komaeda-kun's a yandere?" Shuichi raised an eyebrow.
"Guys. We have the map." Hajime gave his friends the pamphlets, checking the areas. "There's a lot of games inside the building..."
"All revolving luck, but we'll need a difficult game of luck to test Naegi-kun." Shuichi read through the pages, "Oh! How about the Seventh floor?"
"The final room where only five people can enter..." Makoto also flipped through to check the page. "And one lucky winner emerges with the prize."
"This looks more like a luck battle," Hajime reviewed the options. "Naegi, Komaeda, Kamukura, Oma and Amami."
"Why Amami?" Shuichi was quick to raise. There have to be high stakes for the highest floor of the casino building.
"He's the Ultimate Adventurer. Ergo, the Ultimate Survivalist." Hajime explained. "If he comes out unscathed, then the game at the top floor isn't purely based on luck."
"Why not Nanami-san, then?" Shuichi really likes Rantaro, huh?
"Because I don't want Yukizome talking to us," Hajime really believes that woman is an impostor, but he can never know... "The only ones left on the pool would be Ludenberg, you, and me. Amami isn't friends with Yukizome. Nanami is."
"Fine..." Shuichi sighed. "I guess we're ready for the games to start."
"I don't think we can do all of this, guys." Makoto expanded the pamphlet four times, holding it like a map. "It's too many!"
"Have faith in us!" Shuichi placed a hand on their ally.
"..." Hajime pocketed the pamphlet, following Shuichi push Makoto to the building. 'We'll keep playing until the principal comes. I wonder how he'll start his speech?'
Chapter 19: Pavement
Makoto saw this coming... And yet not one regrets coming over.
Shuichi increases his bond level with not-yet-but-maybe SO.
Hajime is used to patch the plot.
"I'm sure you all know why you're here today." The principal began, everyone avoiding eye contact. Makoto stared at Hajime and Shuichi debate through a staring contest. It took an hour before the admin managed to track and secure the area of the CASINO.
The CASINO's ground floor was a grand entrance with chandeliers and fancy carpets. In front of them is a large staircase definitely leading to the second floor. Hajime pointed out the water fountain was eerily clean despite the lack of maintenance. Shuichi rebutted the possibility of a self-purification system and the lack of windows.
Heading up to the second floor, all three of them finally saw the gaming area. Kokichi managed to convince Shuichi (which both Makoto and Hajime expected) they investigate each floor first. This ended up everyone going in pairs or groups. Makoto decided to stay with Celestia, playing the slot machines with a free 30 spins before bringing his wallet out. The gambler not only played with the slot machines, but she also participated in the randomized virtual horse track betting pool and Roulette. She was extremely focused to the point she wasn't responding to his comments, grabbing the bag they found at the deposit area and filling it with the goods.
After 10 minutes of mayhem, Makoto left the woman to her devices to check on the others by visiting the third floor. Chiaki played with the dropped coin and crane machine, considering the gold bars are gone in the machine and the Ultimate gamer having a cat doll head sticking out of her bag pack. She's currently playing a (four-player) trivia game with Rantaro, Nagito, and Kokichi. Kokichi and Nagito seem to be good friends, the former treating him as if like a brother. After trying other arcade games and even dancing games in the area, Makoto climbed up to the fourth floor.
On the fourth floor, Makoto saw Izuru stab one of the robots by accident with his billiard stick. The Ultimate was holding a panda stuff toy similar to Nagito's bear stuff toy, so Makoto assumed Chiaki gave the dolls to her classmates as a gift. As soon as Izuru caught sight of him, the Ultimate Hope tagged along as they explored the current floor. It contained a lot of board and tables games. This floor is probably more of a meeting room than anything. Makoto knew Izuru won all the games because every WIN from a game would release money from some part of the device. Makoto decided not to pick it up for the time being, wanting to see what his ex-roommates were doing.
Climbing up to the fifth floor, Makoto found Hajime and Shuichi spamming the gatcha machines for keychains. Hajime definitely asked Chiaki for money while Shuichi spent the money his parents gave him recently. The two had a ton of empty bags and toys sprawled around them. Hajime finally stood up to reveal why they were spending in the first place, plucking an intricate 6th floor key from a black bag and tossing said item to Shuichi. The detective caught the bag and stood up, checking the time and realizing they spent 30 minutes spamming gatcha. Shuichi finally called everyone up to head over to the sixth floor.
While the fifth floor had lots of gatcha games, bingo, and scratch-it games, the sixth floor held monitors showing the stock market of various businesses and states. The level had a great view of the school from its transparent bullet-proof glass. Hajime tried shooting it for some reason. The floor looked like another lounge where you could wait for the lottery results or watch the world burn. Sketchy indeed. It was on the 6th floor they spotted Yukizome-sensei watching some videos.
The video they caught wind of would be where a dozen reserve course students finally decided to focus their goal to introduce Despair to Kamukura- The screen exploded before it could continue, Yukizome-sensei finally realizing the students watching her. It was Hajime who broke the silence, saying it's ten minutes before six PM.
"I don't see any issue, Principal," Rantaro spoke up, staring right at the adult. "The building is technically within school grounds. No one is injured, and our actions are all under the name of developing our talent."
"Although the elimination round in the gym was albeit excessive, the new building was more conducive than the research lab prepared to me." Celestia might also be increasing her net worth by the end of the day, smiling. "I would like to kindly get back to emptying the machines. Thank you."
"Note to self. Do not go against Ludenberg..." Hajime muttered under his breath.
"Why would you go up against Celestia-san in the first place?" Nagito squinted at the brunette.
"Because Hajime-chan is a maso," Kokichi nodded.
"That's it. I'm restricting your Saihara time!" (Hajime and Kokichi get along really well.)
"What?" Shuichi didn't see that coming.
"No! Not my beloved Saihara-chan!" Kokichi bemoaned .
"Maybe when all the money are gone, everyone can try it out? You don't have to demolish the building." Chiaki offered. "Though, I think the robots have to go. No one wants malfunctioning robots..."
"As long as K1-B0 doesn't see it..." Rantaro added, wanting to keep his friend's feelings safe.
"Everyone! Calm down. No one is going to get penalized for this." Principal Kirigiri told the students, turning the Yukizome-sensei. Everyone also looked at the teacher, realizing she was the one who snitched their location. TRAITOR! The principal asked, "Isn't that right, Yukizome?"
"Yes. I've contacted the companies that contributed to the creation of the facility to confirm its legality..." Yukizome explained, checking her phone. Makoto is now torn to labeling her a traitor or a saving grace. He could never forget the complex legal procedures Byakuya told him when they hung out. "It was mostly monitored and eventually donated last year by Kamukura... Shion."
"..." Now they're staring at Izuru, who remained silent.
"Ahem!" The Principal coughed, but no one minded him. The man coughed louder, and some begrudgingly looked back at the adult. Who knew Izuru was rich? The Principal continued to speak, "The primary reason you're here is for safety concerns. You should have called security (Hajime and Shuichi looked at each other and shook their heads.) before entering a building constructed without explicit permission from the administration. We won't be confiscating the goods you received from the casino, but we will be placing the building under lockdown until all traps have been deactivated."
'Which is only the 7th floor.' Makoto concluded. He remembered entering the 7th floor to race with Rantaro, Nagito, Izuru, and Kokichi. They had 10 minutes to reach the exit, and everyone could watch them from outside as they searched for the exit. It had pitfalls, spikes, saws, flamethrowers, jumpscares platforms (the platforms that decide to drop), and mini-games. Yes... Makoto didn't even know if he took a dead-end route, but the maze felt more like an enormous escape room that was supposed to be played with a partner. 'Then, Kamukura-kun won...'
"Will you be disposing of the remaining money?" Celestia inquired, "Or will this all go to Naegi-Kun's bank account?"
"I'm afraid it will go to the victor of the 7th-floor game." Yukizome-sensei smiled at the disappointed gambler. "I'm sorry, but that's under her specific instructions on the contract."
"If that's all, let's go~" Hajime drawled, already standing up. "Saihara's still going to cook dinner."
"Can't we order take-out?" Shuichi also stood up with the rest of the students. Overall, the day ended better than Makoto expected. Everyone had fun, and no one got hurt.
Last day before the EXAM
It's been two days since the CASINO event. Makoto definitely is on better terms with Celestia. Sadly, Byakuya has been giving him the cold shoulder because he failed to save him during the dropping platforms. Makoto's currently reviewing the topics discussed by the Reserve Course, fully aware the Principal isn't as crazy as his ex-roommates when it comes to crafting a luck-based test-
"Saihara's going to lose his virginity tonight, and I don't want to be alone." Hajime tossed a pillow at him before Makoto could ask why he was here. Yes... Makoto did notice Kokichi hanging out with Shuichi, but he didn't think Hajime would choose to stay in bed and mope.
"Why don't you hang out with Nanami-san?" Makoto offered while the 3rd year sat on his bed, glancing at the side to see Nagito and Izuru still watching a documentary. "Or Kuzuryu-san?"
"Kuzuryu is still mad because I pissed her brother. Nanami? Her entire class doesn't like me for a good reason." Hajime flopped on his bed, probably going to sleep with him for the night. "Naegi. Why does your bed smell like ramen? Have you been eating ramen all week?"
"I'm sorry, mom." Makoto sighed, placing a pillow on Hajime's back. "The Main Course Dormitory has different rules. We can only cook downstairs."
"Shame..." Hajime remained in his position as Makoto stood up from the bed to talk to his roommates.
"Guys. I want you to know Hinata-kun is going to sleep with me for tonight." Makoto told his roommates, who looked away from the Penguins.
"Does he snore?" Nagito asked, sitting up to glance at where the reserve course would be.
"No," Makoto reassured. "Unless he's tired, but he isn't today."
"Tell him to take a bath." Izuru resumed watching the documentary. "He smells."
"You don't like oranges?" Makoto raised an eyebrow.
"I smell like oranges?" Hajime wondered from the other side. "Huh? I do."
"Why do you smell like oranges?" Nagito asked aloud. "Is that all you can afford?"
"Not anymore!" Hajime sat up, insulted and now self-conscious about his scent. "With my debt paid, I can eat anything... Like oranges..."
"We'll be heading out now," Makoto walked back to his friend, who's been stingy for the entire year. "Come on, Hinata-kun."
"I already ate oranges," Hajime wasn't going to deny his snack. "Continue studying for your exam tomorrow."
"It won't take long~" Makoto dragged Hajime out, closing the door behind them. "Besides, you can review me on the subjects while we hang out."
"True..." Hajime walked beside him, watching him before he asked. "Anything important happened?"
"Nothing out of the ordinary, except Komaru convinced my parents to adopt you and Saihara-kun." Nagito smiled. "They really like you guys."
"Hm~" Hajime looked back, the two walking together. The brunette admitted, "Don't tell your roommate, but I convinced my grandmother to adopt him to legitimize his existence."
"Your grandmother?" Makoto tilted his head, having a good feeling Hajime was referring to Izuru. It was sad how they learned the Ultimate has no family members to dote or visit him during the incoming break. "How will that help him?"
"Better than not doing anything. Matsuda and the Principal have their hands tied when it comes to the Ultimate. Last year's events will come crashing down sooner or later, so we'll have to fix that ASAP." Hajime looked at Hajime. "The smoothest way to insert Izuru into the system would be to make the lie into a reality."
"But why your grandmother?" Makoto knew Shuichi's parents were famous. His own parents are ordinary as well as Hajime's parents... But grandparents?
"Because she's still alive," Hajime frowned. "The Ultimate Physicist, Kamukura Shion."
"What?" Makoto understood what his friend was implying, but he needed confirmation.
"Yes, he's going to be my cousin." Hajime rolled his eyes. "Come on, Naegi. Why the hell do you think I was so desperate to have talent? Parental expectations were high as fuck."
"It's all coming together..." Makoto always did find Hajime's parents' expectations too high for his tsundere friend. It was strange for parents to push their children and force them to work blood and sweat. "Are you sure about this? What if they do something to Kamukura-kun?"
"Please! He'll get pampered..." Hajime stopped. "We gotta make sure Kamukoma becomes a thing. I don't want to babysit a chubby genius. I'll be tempted to kill him out of envy."
"I'll tell Komaeda-kun," Makoto promised, pushing the door so they could finally head out and get food.
Chapter 20: Showcase
Makoto and Nagito are taken elsewhere to receive a test.
Shuichi judging Hajime.
"I ignored you for two days, and you got yourself a cousin?!" Shuichi got a call from his uncle, asking him to watch the news and investigate Hajime's motive under the request of Mrs. Kamukura. After waking up Kokichi, Shuichi headed off. Shuichi had to contact his uncle again because of the lack of information on the web. It didn't make sense why the woman wanted to know about Hajime. Apparently, Hajime is tied to the Kamukura name. The detective first checked the gym where the exam was taking place but found too many reporters.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Hajime denied as he got out of his hiding spot. Shuichi wanted to ask Makoto or Nagito, but the two were already on their testing site. Considering they have a new library, Shuichi went to the location and entered the premises. He looked down on the first table he wanted to check and came face-to-face with the brunette.
"Hinata-kun. It's all over the news!" Shuichi sighed, flipping his phone while the brunette stood up. "What were you thinking?!"
"The news announced tonight will be the reveal of Kamukura's well-kept heir. You wouldn't know I'm related to them unless you spoke with Naegi because the latter left his phone in his dorm," Hajime dusted his pants, glancing up at him. "Let me guess? This is a work-related business where someone asked your uncle's agency to investigate the controversial info. In short, your uncle is going to assign you the head detective because, in hindsight, it looks like an extramarital affair."
"Actually-" Shuichi's phone rang, and Shuichi checked his phone. It seemed his uncle entrusted him the entire case, believing this to be an extramarital case. Shuichi facepalmed. "Yes, but why did you do it?"
"To tie loose ends and legitimize Izuru's christened name. He's also Naegi's roommate, so I have to do something about him, I guess? Hmm... The simple answer you can give your uncle is that they adopted a talented kid," Hajime shrugged, placing a hand on the table. "Then again, Kamukura could actually be the illegitimate child, and I merely sped the process. Overall, society won't question the information due to the growing hate crimes between Ultimates and the family's long history of violence. Any other concerns?"
"What about the video?" Shuichi ranted. "Kamukura-kun is also linked to a secret project. The Steering Committee would question the declaration."
"Ha! The Steering Committee already communicated with the old man. Both parties having a common interest in the advancement of talent. Those old men aren't Ultimates, only scientists with unfathomable greed for knowledge." Hajime tilted his head. "The video has also been introduced in court, where the student council members debunked assumptions and accidentally caused the Ultimate Despair name to go global, remember?"
"Well... That part was a little vague in my memory..." Shuichi would definitely have watched the trial to understand the situation better. "I'll watch that later."
"Then, how did you know about the agreement?" Shuichi pondered as they both walked towards the exit. They did promise their friends to watch the performances. "Please tell me you didn't use a gun."
"No... I'm friends with the family butler who's good friends with my grandfather," Hajime explained, almost comforting Shuicho until he added. "The butler's title is Ultimate Executioner, so I asked if he can threaten the old man with a gun."
"I really think you have a gun fetish," Shuichi complained, pushing the door so they can get out of here. "Why were you hiding, by the way?"
"Ultimate Reporter managed to dig dirt, and wanted to cause a scandal.." Hajime scanned their area. "Only the government has records of the connection. My uncle really hates my mother's side, so he made deals and erased the link."
"They disowned your mother, right?" Shuichi is skimming the PDF on his phone. If he or Makoto needed documents to be processed, they only need to ask Hajime since his roommate has a lawyer mother and a government officer father. "Because she's talentless."
"Yep." Hajime grabbed Shuichi by the shoulder, heading off the path. "Walk faster. The Ultimate Journalist is wearing a damn camouflage."
"Shouldn't they be attending the ceremony?" Shuichi began to run, taking a left turn.
"Probably a freshie." Hajime checked the time. "We gotta go faster. I promised Nanami I'd cheer her on."
"Hinanami~" Shuichi teased, and Hajime almost pushed him off the thin bridge. "Hey!"
"Whoops," Hajime definitely meant it. The two raced towards the gym, plotting another surprise party to cheer Naegi up.
Chapter 21: Performance-
Makoto busy with test.
Shuichi and Hajime realize baby sister missing.
Komaru is lost.
Naegi Komaru came over to cheer her brother on, but she couldn't see him anywhere. While her parents were busy watching the performances, she slipped out and opted to search around the gym.
"I sense a disturbance," Shuichi whispered to his seatmate. "And it's not because we joined multiple fan clubs to get good seats for one day."
"It's not Naegi," Hajime frowned. "But it could be one of our fellow ahoges."
"Fellow what?" Shuichi stared at Hajime.
"You, me, Fukawa, Kamukura, Akamatsu... Ahoge team." Hajime scanned the room, "I see all of them except Kamukura- Naegi's sister?"
Komaru didn't expect the wall to cave in when she decided to relax her back, falling down and unable to get back out. Stuck in this dark hallway, she decided to move forward and hope for the best.
"Let me see..." Shuichi looked behind him, scanning the crowd. "We'll need to leave our seats to check. There are too many people."
"We're not taking any chances." Hajime removed his I 🧡 Chiaki shirt, revealing the I💛Yasuke shirt. "Now that I've changed identities, we can do this."
"This is why we aren't allowed in his office," Shuichi snickered as the two left their seats, switching his hat with the freebie candy corn hat and free gag glasses.
The brunette definitely knows she's lost, unable to get a signal in the area, and really hoping someone finds her now. She doesn't even remember where she last came from, finding the place to have so many paths-?! Oh! She finally saw someone.
"I remember Naegi-kun saying his sister can see ghosts..." Shuichi explained, holding his phone as he and his friend scanned the gym. "The fact that information popped out of nowhere tells me this is part of the plot."
"Congratulations. You've caught the meta-bug." Hajime wore all Hope's Peak rings crafted throughout the years and a white-and-black Bear ear headband. "Now, we have no choice but to take the alternate route. Do you have a gun?"
"I have this," Shuichi pulled out the item Miu offered him. Hajime stared at the odd hand-reaching device which could move its appendages and reach questionable parts of the body- "It's called a Tentacle Machine. I don't know why..."
Following the reserve student she spotted, Komaru wasn't sure where the person was leading her. However, it's better than nothing. The female walked down the stairs.
"I have an Illusion rod?" Shuichi's checking his bag as Hajime entered one of the hidden passages within the gym. "Handcuffs aren't viable. How about shears? Why do I have layering shears?"
"I'll have one of the scissors." Hajime requested, looking right and left. "All I have in my bag are photos, figurines, and clothes."
"That sounds more normal than the stuff I have," Shuichi offered the scissors to his friend, pulling him to the left to avoid the cameras. "I hope she's doing okay."
Komaru was in big trouble, entering a strange medical facility of all things. There are men in lab gowns moving around. She also learned the student she was following vanished from thin air! This is what she gets for following ghosts!
"There's a breach of security?" Hajime noted, both students looking up as the usual blue turn flaming red. "She really is part of the ahoge team!"
"That's not something to celebrate about! We have to find her!" Shuichi dragged the brunette down the hallway. "The last time this alarm rang, it was because..."
"... She's entered the underground facility," Hajime confirmed, both students having to run down the stairs.
Komaru is screwed. She really messed up big time! She put two and two together to realize the ghosts are because of whatever these guys are doing. Why else are the guards holding guns and telling each other to shoot the trespasser?! She can't die here!
Hajime wished they had a gun, but he'll have to make do with the items they have. Once they reached a room with a glass floor, both reserve students heard a thud from the other side. No question was Komaru, the girl shaking from fear.
"Naegi-san!" Shuichi called out, and she ran in their direction. "We were so worried for you."
"Same," Hajime scanned the room, staring down, and his eyes widened when he could see Makoto staring right up at them. "Whoops. Don't mind us hobos wandering the facility."
"OVER THERE!" (All three students looked at the sound from the other hallway.)
"What?" Komaru gasped when Hajime picked her up, the brunette looking down as the two lucky students stared at them in wonder. Komaru also realized this, covering her legs. "W-wait. This is bad."
"They're going to shoot us," Hajime remarked, walking to the side and staring at the thin bars. "Saihara. You're fish bait today."
"B-but..." Shuichi stared at the two and sighed. "Fine. If I die, Naegi-kun gets everything."
"What about me?" Hajime asked- *BANG!* Hajime began walking down the fine line, trying to adjust to holding a girl before *BANG!* The glass shatters.
"Meet up outside?" Shuichi asked, and Hajime dropped Komaru on the other side.
"Sure." Hajime almost fell if she didn't grab his hand, turning to see Shuichi in the opposite direction. Some of the guards fell down the lower floor. "Craving for Takoyaki."
"Let's go already!" Komaru dragged him away.
"Fine..." Hajime closed the door, running beside her as they entered the Observatory area. "Once we hit the Surface, we're changing clothes. Think of it like a funeral."
"Noted." Komaru scowled. What did she see?
Chapter 22: Rest
Makoto isn't sure how to feel about this...
Shuichi quickly syncing with Hajime.
Hajime realizing maybe death was the better option to the problem.
Principal Kirigiri called all three of them to the office the next day. The man's hands entwined like a villain or a disappointed father. Makoto knows what happened yesterday, him and Nagito watching Hajime and Shuichi run off with Komaru. Although security later demanded an emergency inspection within the gym, none of the three were caught or detained. That must be what Tsumugi was talking about, the power of cosplay .
"..." Mr. Kirigiri sighed, removing his hands and resting them on the table. It made Makoto really guilty for what happened, even though he did nothing, but he very much preferred having his sister safe than dead. Makoto knows there are reserve students who died because of accidentally stumbling into the underground. He would never forgive the school if they did kill her...
"Why i-is *hic* Kamukura-kun here?" Kizakura Koichi, the Ultimate Scout, pointed at the Ultimate Hope sleeping on Hajime's lap.
"He's awake, Naegi," Hajime warned, playing the game girl Chiaki let him borrow. The brunette had been silent the whole morning, thinking about something. He didn't even react when Izuru walked into the room to rest on his lap. "Just tired, I guess."
"Well, he did meet his family last night," Shuichi emphasized the word, Makoto looking back at the table. It was Nagito who wanted to watch the event. Everyone in the room felt a little nauseous for some reason. It was probably the food they ate before watching it...
"Isn't it too early to drink, Kizakura-sensei?" Nagito also tagged along because he woke up alone in the dormitory.
"No such thing," Kizakura-sensei waved his hands, smiling at his ex-student. Makoto did hear this guy reverted back to scouting more Ultimates. "All right. Tell them, Jin-san."
"Before any of you speak, I have evidence to prove you violated some of the school rules." The principal made all three of them share looks. "I am talking to Saihara-kun and Hinata-kun. I called Naegi-kun because I will need your cooperation later."
"May we see the evidence?" Shuichi requested. If the principal is correct, this will be the first time the two will get penalized. Shuichi is an amazing detective, but his future as a defense attorney seems brighter than a day.
"This is about yesterday, right?" Hajime was the worst person to be allied with because he was too predictable. It was easy to understand his actions, especially if you're friends with the guy. It's why Hajime needed someone to help cover him. "Not what you heard last night?"
"What about last night?" Shuichi asked, skimming the files. Makoto wondered why Principal Kirigiri stood up from the question. Hajime was asking about Izuru, right? Makoto did hear Kyoko say her father was doing his best to help the Ultimate.
"Hm?" Hajime looked up from his game, a loud GAME OVER coming out from the device. The brunette asked, "Was I wrong?"
"We'll talk about that later." The principal didn't sound pleased. He actually looked more distressed from Hajime's words. Makoto looked at Hajime, then he thought back what other possibilities would happen in a span of a night.
"Wait. Is this the recent awakening of the former director of Hope's Peak Academy?" Shuichi was more in tune with Hajime, the two reserve students heading back to the dorm to talk who knows what. Makoto missed hearing the random FYIs from the two. The detective wondered, "It does seem likely for Tengan-san to ask for Principal Kirigiri's presence. Why are you curious, Hinata-kun?"
"He was part of the first successful batch of Ultimates to have fallen into despair." Hajime kept the game girl after failing for the fifth time. The entire room went silent, and Makoto looked up because his senpai tended to skip the intro and go straight to the analysis. The only ones who know the introduction and data would be him, Shuichi, and Hajime. The methodology was implemented when they were in a state of despair.
'Yes... I convinced them, didn't I?' Makoto remembered trying his best to snap everyone out of it, even when he, himself, was falling inch by inch into the abyss. Just when everything was about to fall apart, Hajime decided to help Makoto for the hell of it. Everything else fell into place.
" Batch. " For the first time, everyone heard the Ultimate Scout sound serious. "There are more of them?"
'It was the admin who had the most casualties compared to the students in the Main course.' Makoto couldn't forget the list of casualties in the Reserve Course. Hajime and Shuichi were tallying them with the rest of the students. That was... Not a good way to end the school year.
"Yes. I had a list, but I didn't trust my despair self." Hajime fiddled with Izuru's hair. Kizakura-sensei grabbed some of the files from the table, definitely reviewing the list of admin once more. Ultimate Scout is really good at detecting anomalies in the system. "So I destroyed it before something bad happened."
"I also had a list, but they're the ones in the hospital right now. I submitted the documents to the security team, but I don't know what they decided." Shuichi set the evidence on the table. "Hinata-kun. We can't get out of this."
"Because of your bullet wound?" Hajime is already braiding a part of Izuru's hair. "Or because of Naegi's guest ID?"
"Both, and the fact Kamukura-kun confirmed your identity since he was part of security." Shuichi shook his head.
"What's the penalty?" Hajime unraveled Izuru's hair, nudging the Ultimate to get off. "You can't ask for information because the Steering Committee wants me expelled. "
"A month's suspension." Principal Kirigiri stated. "Naegi-kun will monitor your actions."
"But doesn't Naegi-kun have to take therapy to prevent despair?" Shuichi cupped his chin. "Who will monitor us, then?"
"Me," Izuru sat up, and Hajime smacked the Ultimate with the nearby pillow.
"Oh, hell no!" Hajime looked at Makoto to suggest someone. "Pick someone."
"How about Komaeda-kun?" Makoto offered.
"Me?" Nagito also asked, looking at the two reserve students. "I highly suggest you find someone more capable than someone as lowly as I."
"It's decided. During the weekends, Komaeda-kun and Kamukura-kun will monitor you two." The principal concluded, also listening to the teacher speaking about something on the list. "You can go now. Komaeda-kun, will you please call Mitarai-kun into my office?"
Chapter 23: Suspension
Makoto not in chat.
Hajime cuddling cousin.
After explaining to his uncle why he got suspended, Shuichi decided to take a little more cases than his norm and grab books to catch up on whatever his classmates were learning. Hajime was already prepping for the National Center test, one among the other admission tests he had to take for his chosen university. As expected, neither his nor Hajime's parents cared when they received the suspension order. They're free to stay in the house all by themselves, which now made sense why the Principal's putting Makoto in charge.
When it came to where they'll stay for review, Makoto was the determinant. Where the Ultimate Lucky student goes, they will follow. Hajime hates his house. Shuichi gets bored when he's at home. They could stay in Makoto's house, but their friend refused.
"I was gone for twenty minutes," Nagito returned with food. His confused tone made Shuichi look away from his case files to see what the albino was talking about. This is the first weekend they're staying in the Main Course Department dorm. "What did you do to Kamukura-kun?"
"I put him to sleep," Hajime replied, hugging the sleeping Ultimate. Shuichi noticed Hajime and Izuru never speak to each other unless Makoto is around. Seeing Hajime cuddling Izuru means the brunette cares for the Ultimate Hope.
"He hates touch," Nagito sounds like Hajime drugged Izuru, which is actually a possibility if the Ultimate is naïve and Hajime is given meds.
"And?" Hajime rests his cheek on Izuru's head, refusing to let go of his captive. The Ultimate is indeed asleep because he doesn't even react. Shuichi also remembered the fact Hajime always wanted a sibling, doting him and Makoto even until now. Since it's the first few months, Izuru should expect whiplash. Hajime is inherently tsundere. In fact, if Izuru wakes up now, Hajime will push him off the bed. "No one is waking him up. He needs sleep."
"I'm sorry, but we have an incoming class activity two hours from now," Nagito placed a hand on his forehead, closing his eye as if he's tempted to facepalmed because of the prickly brunette. Another thing Shuichi noticed is how often Nagito and Hajime argue. It was either because Nagito was indirectly insulting the Reserve Course or insulting himself. This would mean Hajime holds some level of concern for the albino, getting really annoyed at Nagito's habits.
"I'll let you have him after one hour." Hajime huffed, and Nagito let out a loud sigh. Shuichi can already see the possible pair- Hajime rebutted him, "Sorry bud, but I'm shipping him with Nanami."
"I thought you like Nanami-san?" Shuichi squinted at the brunette.
"It's a protag skill: Harem maker EX." Hajime defended. "Naegi, Nanami, and Akamatsu have that ability. It's natural to like them."
"... While I agree class representatives have harem-making abilities, not all possess the ability." Shuichi goes quiet, rethinking his moments with Kaede. He quickly looks back to the rest of the class representatives in the various sections, nodding. "Yeah... It's just the people we know."
"Therefore, Komaeda can either have..." Hajime closed his eyes. "Kamukura, Kuzuryu, Matsuda, Naegi, Nanami, and Ouma."
"What made you say that?" Nagito went to the fridge, still carrying the keys to Hajime and Shuichi's shackle. Yes, they got shackled because Nagito received the folder of mishaps caused by all three of them. Shuichi really did try to defend their case that it wouldn't turn that bad if it weren't for Makoto's luck, but luck is hard to explain.
"I asked people to stalk you, and those are the guys you usually hang out with." Hajime made Nagito drop one of the cartons of milk. "No info on Kamukura because he's good in hiding."
"Sorry. He can be really protective over Naegi-kun." Shuichi explained before Nagito punches Hajime. Those two have fought before, and the detective doesn't want a repeat. "Hinata-kun. Stop creeping Naegi-kun's roommates."
"Hmph!" Hajime turned to the side, resuming his cuddle session with his cousin.
'How mature...' Shuichi thought, returning back to his case files. Maybe he should consider Kamukoma with how irritated Nagito was for the first ten minutes?
Chapter 24: Break
Makoto being class rep.
Shuichi being bi.
Hajime being the voice of the masses.
Hajime yawned, sitting beside Shuichi as Makoto discussed his plan to them. Since the Ultimate Lucky student is the class representative, Makoto usually had to present his section's plan to the Student Council. Shuichi scans the list of items, equipment, and venue used while Hajime listens to Makoto's explanation. It seems Makoto's class wants to do a maid cafe... That's it. It was very...
"What if all the guys also wear maid outfits-?" Hajime gets thwacked with a pillow, removing it to glare at Nagito. "I know what the audience wants, and they want guys in maid attire!"
"No, they don't. Naegi-kun. Please don't listen to him." Nagito reassured the surprised brunette. Hajime should have known. It was clear from the very beginning. Nagito is trying to get his kouhai! Hajime didn't like Nagito, the albino treating the principal's words like god's will. Then again, he couldn't blame Nagito for seeing Principal Kirigiri as a father figure. The man did give that vibe... But did it have to involve restraining them? It wasn't like he minds getting tied down, finding it a little kinky, but Shuichi gets pretty weird without anything to examine or investigate after a long period.
"I don't think Naegi-kun can force his classmates, Hinata-kun." Shuichi scribbled on the proposal, making the plan plausible. Shuichi was the class representative in his section during Junior high. "Now, if they dressed as butlers, that's a whole new story!"
"I don't think Togami-san would like that," Makoto read the revisions, standing as the two reserve course students flopped on his bed. One more week before they're free. Hajime is receiving word a lot of the reserve students are jumping off the roofs again. Natsumi didn't give batshit anymore, especially when she wasn't the elected Student Council President. Natsumi was so bitter, the blonde didn't say anything when she visited him. Just assignments and new professors. The current Student Council tried contacting him, but all of his belongings are currently with the Principal. Hajime didn't want to leave the dorm unless it was to follow Makoto. He did see his kidnapper on the premises.
'I don't want to see her. Ever .' Hajime sighed, hugging Makoto's pillow. When Makoto caught sight of him lulling Izuru to sleep, Hajime refused to go near his cousin out of embarrassment. It's dumb how Izuru refuses to take pills despite needing said medication to sleep. Shuichi vowed not to talk about it to protect his pride. It wound up all three of them would sleep together, which was pretty funny. Shuichi would curl into a ball or go face the wall. Hajime wouldn't wake up unless someone physically harmed him, and Makoto would cuddle up to the closest thing. Makoto is cute. Hajime cannot doubt the accusations. 'Kirigiri is a lucky woman... Or Togami. Whoever gets him first...?'
"No, Ogami should also wear a maid attire." Hajime could hear his two kouhais speaking, curious why those two were making exceptions to the agreed stall scheme. While the Reserve Course isn't allowed to start activities, it doesn't stop the school from allowing the reserve course students to buy stuff in the Ultimate's stalls. Hajime added, "She has a fan club remember?"
"Right... I forgot our department has fan clubs of various Ultimates," Shuichi glanced back at the item list. "Maybe everyone should get into uniform? It's not like your class plans on repeating the theme next year."
"Tell us if you need customers," Hajime tried sitting up, only to fall back down. Today is a sleepy day. Getting suspended is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because he can rest and do whatever he wants. A curse because it reminds him of what he did during the PARADE. He... Hajime slept a lot. He didn't know what to do. Everyone and everything had despair. Nothing he did mattered. The only difference between now and before would be the environment. There is no one performing anything despairing, but neither is anyone doing anything hope-related... Except for Naegi, he guesses?
"Guys. I don't think we can do that..." Makoto placed all the papers in the folder, setting them on the table. "That would be cheating."
"All right. How about we help announce your stall to our department?" Shuichi offered instead, but the detective had the same idea as Hajime. They don't want Makoto's optimism to go in vain. Makoto deserves the best! Shuichi quickly amended, "That is if you need help."
"Thanks, Saihara-kun." Makoto smiled, turning his head to Nagito. "What about your class, Komaeda-kun?"
"Hm..." Nagito thought about it. Shuichi nudged Hajime so he'd move. Shuichi and Hajime both agreed they like sleeping on this heavenly bed. It was better than the bed in their dorm. The only time they disliked the bed was when Nagito caught them roaming around the Main Campus. The Ultimate Lucky Student had superb tracking ability, dragging the reserve students back and putting them back in shackles. Last Sunday, Hajime was shackled against Nagito while Shuichi was dragged around by Izuru since Class 77-B planned to prepare their props. "We'll be performing a concert."
"Oh! Good luck with that." Makoto knew how difficult concerts can be. This guy did have one of his former classmates turn into an idol. "Hm? Kamukura-kun seems to be late today."
"I'm afraid so..." Nagito agreed. Hajime closed his eyes, refusing to listen to this. "Despite the curfew, he's been called frequently by the admin."
"Geeee" Shuichi turned to look at him. Hajime huffed, turning to Makoto's side. The Ultimate Hope is strong enough to survive.
Chapter 25: Early Morning
Makoto rubs his eyes.
Hajime wakes up others.
" Rise and shine... "
Makoto woke up to hear Hajime nudging everyone awake. He and Nagito off-handedly realized they had to wake up early tomorrow, but both forgot to set the alarm. Hajime and Shuichi were natural morning birds, the latter sometimes sleeping in when he stayed up all night. Hajime was trained to wake up at 6 AM sharp, regardless of the day and condition. Izuru? No one sees him sleep, so...?
"Five more minutes..." Nagito pulled the blanket over his face, causing Hajime to playfully smack the albino with a pillow. Makoto hoped Hajime and Nagito could consider each other friends someday.
"That's what you get for staying up." Hajime scoffed while both Shuichi and Makoto got off the bed. Since food is served downstairs, they either take a bath and/or dress up.
"Come on! Your sleepiness can be used to enter the bathroom right at this very moment and catch a glimpse of Kamukura's naked body," Hajime caused Nagito to sit up, only for the Ultimate to grab a nearby pillow and smack the brunette straight to the face.
"Why would I do that?!" Nagito is awake with the probable image of their roommate because of Hajime. The worse(?) news was that Izuru's still in the bathroom.
"Because you're a thirsty bi," Hajime teased, laughing when Nagito started smacking him with a pillow. The brunette raised his arms, teasing him further. "Komaeda. Hit me harder.."
"Why, you little?!" Nagito pushed Hajime out of the way, standing up and looking a little pink. That definitely got the albino ready to start the day. Makoto couldn't help laughing at their antics. It seems Hajime is in the mood to joke around because today is the last day of their suspension. Sadly, Hajime and Shuichi have to remain inside the dorm. Makoto got the help of Oma and Natsumi for both reserve students to promise not to go anywhere.
"He's taking a while..." Shuichi noted, already dressed up to do absolutely nothing. Yes, they can only stay inside the room and watch TV or play video games. It's not a terrible lifestyle. "Hinata-kun. Go check on him."
"No way. Why not Komaeda?" Hajime stretched his arms. "Don't worry, Komaeda. We value ship over plot."
"Just go already," Makoto shook his head, noticing Nagito weighing his pros and cons. He knew the albino is close friends with Izuru, but entering the bathroom while someone is taking a bath is a very personal matter. He, Shuichi and Hajime spent... It took a PARADE's worth to get them to get used to their bodies.
"Fine..." Hajime huffed, getting up and heading to the bathroom. "God damn it! He fell asleep!"
"I saw this coming.." Makoto muttered. Nagito stayed up waiting for Izuru, falling asleep when the raven entered the room. Izuru must be so tired that he fell asleep. 'What did they ask from him?'
"What?" Shuichi didn't think anyone could fall asleep in the bathroom. "In the toilet or the bathtub?"
"Bathtub." Hajime's yelling inside the bathroom while Makoto and Shuichi dressed up. After hearing the news, even Nagito is dressing up. "Can someone help me?!"
"I'll go get Saihara-kun and Hinata-kun's breakfast." Makoto did not want to see how Izuru's reaction if he woke up. The Ultimate Hope rarely shows any preference or dislikes, but he will react harshly to foreign or dangerous actions. Shuichi theorized Izuru and Hajime's early bonding phase is the Ultimate Hope's way of checking Hajime's danger meter. The two are, on paper, relatives.
"Dibs to helping Naegi-kun!" Shuichi ran beside him, closing the door and leaving Nagito to assist Hajime.
"You think Kamukoma will push through?" Shuichi asked as they walked side by side down the hallway.
"Maybe..." Makoto wasn't sure what to make of things. Izuru was... Really hard to decipher. The Ultimate stayed neutral on everything and found everyone boring. Nagito? Makoto only knew his senpai to be hope-oriented. Makoto couldn't seem to consider the albino chasing after anything else but hope. "It's hard to say-"
"Ah? Sorry. My bad." Makoto apologized, seeing none other than Junko. He hadn't heard from her after the FEAST, the Ultimate Fashionista requested just like the other entertainment-oriented Ultimates to distract the crowd away from the chaos and despair. Makoto also noted Izuru hadn't been spending time with the woman. 'Something must have happened between the two?'
"All is forgiven, Class rep." Junko pats his shoulder, smiling. The fashionista was accompanied by Tsumugi, the Ultimate Cosplayer writing down notes on something. "See ya later~!"
"Hn..." Makoto turned his head as the two females went off. He glanced back at Shuichi, who stayed silent. "Was it just me, or did Enoshima-san acted a little strange?"
"... Not enough information." Shuichi furrowed his eyebrow. "Let's get the food and hurry back. Today's a big day, and we can't waste any more time."
"Right." Makoto agreed. The two continued. Something didn't feel right... The Ultimate pondered, 'But what could it be?'
Chapter 26: Late Morning
Makoto has no idea...
Hajime breaks down.
After Nagito locked the door, Shuichi and Hajime decided to spend the first hours watching TV. The two students talked about places to go during the winter break, watching the shopping network when the channel was forcibly changed. The detective didn't know what channel this was, but to start it with white static made it sketchy as hell.
The Current Reserve Course Student Council died yesterday.
Every... single... One of them.
[There's more where that's coming from! Enjoy the show, everyone~💔!]
The screen switched to Hajime's class section with the time and date under the live feed. It was logical to conclude once the current student council died, the previous will soon follow. Hajime's class had the most number of the chosen student body. However, to have something this atrocious occur in broad daylight-
"No..." Shuichi found himself quickly standing up, realizing the only way for this to happen would be the killers infiltrate and detain the entire Reserve Course department. According to Hajime in the last time the festival occurred, the reserve course had to attend all their morning subjects before being released.
"This is... happening right now?" Hajime whispered, and Shuichi couldn't focus on what to do next. The imagery was visceral, atrocious... He should comfort Hajime, but this feeling can't be ignored. Blood and body scattered across the classroom. Shuichi recognized one of the students, Kuzuryu Natsumi, crawling out of the room with bloody clothes. Her voice was inaudible, but a body was stirring.
"..." None of them spoke. Shuichi recognized the person standing up. That was the nice math teacher who always did his best to-?
Why is he pointing a gun at Natsumi?
"!!!!" Hajime's scream rang in his ears. Dread fell into understanding, Shuichi watched the body fall.
"We have to leave." Shuichi mumbled. "Now."
Chapter 27: Noon
Hajime falls into despair for real.
This POV is not available.
[Please try again later.]
Chapter 28: Late afternoon
Makoto's normal day goes down to the drain as usual.
Shuichi does drastic measures by adding strangers to the groupchat.
Next: All terribly wrong.
There are three stages of despair.
Makoto knows the first and second stages are interchangeable. When the eyes are red, it means there are other emotions at play other than despair. When the eyes are swirling, it means they are acting solely for the benefit of despair. Makoto isn't sure which is worse because both are dangerous in his eyes.
The Ultimate Lucky student is also aware that Mitarai Ryota, the Ultimate Animator, can adjust the human mind for despair to head straight to the third stage. The third stage is a path of no return. They cannot be reasoned with. Their eyes often red after integrating despair into their lifestyle.
Then, there's the gas that was released within the Future Foundation...
'Why focus on Despair?' Makoto didn't understand it. He lived with students who fell into despair. He hated it. 'That isn't living at all.'
"Something wrong, Naegi-chi?" Hagakure Yasuhiro, Ultimate Clairvoyant, was the guy who supported Yamada Hifumi, Ultimate Fanfic Creator, and Kuwata Leon, Ultimate Baseball player, in the proposal of the maid cafe.
"Oh uh. It's nothing," Makoto laughed uneasily, looking away from the distant reserve course building. He knew Hajime and Shuichi would be in the dorm, trying to bake random stuff, but something felt off. He wasn't sure what. *DING!*
"Give me a minute!" Maizono Sayaka, the Ultimate Idol, requested, wearing a maid attire as she went to the table. Their stall was pretty popular with the crowd, especially when Makoto convinced everyone to wear clothes under their stall's theme. Yes, even Hifumi wore butler attire. *BRRRRRRRRR* Someone is trying to call him. Makoto needed to ignore it for a few more minutes.
"Another one, Fujisaki-chan!" A customer called out. It confused Makoto why Chihiro chose to keep pretending to look like a girl even when the Ultimate Programmer confessed to the class during the PARADE that he was a guy.
'I guess he'll take his time?' Makoto smiled, finally done with his shift. For now, Mukuro and Kyoko seem to be missing from the group. Junko said her sister's doing work ordered by the Steering Committee while Kyoko got excused by the Principal an hour ago... *DING!*
"Hm?" Makoto should check his phone about now, walking over to rest. *DING!*
"Taking a break so soon, Naegi?" When Togami Byakuya refused to wear a butler outfit, Celestia convinced him to be the stall's manager. That, the man agreed.
"My shift is over now, Togami-san," Makoto reassured, his eyes going back to his phone. "I need to see who was calling me earlier."
Shuichi: It's been a while since we used our real names.
Hajime: Naegi's fault, that killjoy.
Makoto: Listen. I wouldn't have done this if you guys didn't type questionable stuff.
Hajime: We are decent people!
Shuichi: Which part did they read?
Makoto: We were searching for what exchange gift to give Kirigiri-san.
Hajime: So that's why you have a dildo in your cabinet.
Shuichi: Don't worry. Komaeda-kun and Kamukura-kun knows.
Hajime: I told them I bought it for you.
Shuichi: No wonder Komaeda had that look yesterday! XD
Hajime: As your self-proclaimed senpai and brother, I prefer letting your friends think I bought the glow-in-the-dark dragon dildo than letting them realize you bought it under the assumption it was a self-defense flashlight.
Makoto: T_T I'll tell them the truth later.
Hajime: Don't cry, my child. If this will make you feel better, I will buy those two dildos for your possible swordfight.
Hajime: You're right. Matching dildos.
Shuichi: And another glow-in-the-dark dragon dildo so you can be a dual saber.
Makoto: Get off my bed! OUT!
Hajime: No, please! Have mercy.
Shuichi: Guys. Keep quiet. Komaeda-kun is staring at us.
Makoto: I hate you two so much.
Shuichi added Komaeda Nagito to the group.
Shuichi added Kamukura Izuru to the group.
Shuichi: Sorry for the short notice. Please do not read the previous messages.
Kamukura Izuru: Too late.
Komaeda Nagito: Is something wrong?
Shuichi: We broke the promise.
Komaeda Nagito: But?
Shuichi: We have good reason to break the promise.
Komaeda Nagito: Such as?
Shuichi: @Makoto Please answer your phone. I need you.
Kamukura Izuru: Where is Hajime?
Komaeda Nagito: @Hajime
Shuichi: @Makoto !
Kamukura Izuru: His phone is with the principal.
Komaeda Nagito: It hasn't been returned?
Kamukura Izuru: ...
Shuichi: Fine! Can both of you tell Naegi-kun to visit the hospital tonight?
Kamukura Izuru: I'm tempted.
Komaeda Nagito: Ok?
Shuichi: Ask Yukizome-sensei.
Chapter 29: Evening
Shuichi tries contacting Makoto when the medical team isn't arriving after a couple of hours.
Hajime runnninnnggg tooooo.
Next: Hospital (Now a reoccurring location.)
Shuichi begrudgingly had to leave Hajime when the brunette pointed out the need to separate. They knew the Ultimates they had handicapped last year were beginning to wake up, but Hajime and Shuichi sincerely prayed an adult would find a cure of sorts for those guys. The reason for this is the fact the adults were given a different video compared to the students. It was invasive, mind-altering, and clearly not the work of Ryota. It was why Hajime threatened the frightful animator to create a video for the Reserve Course, to give them some sort of resistance to the video.
They paid heavily for their assumptions.
[Hajime stumbled across a crate of motive videos in the faculty room.]
At present, they have no other choice but to tranquilize the staff and admin to ensure the remaining student body stays alive.
[It will take hours before the medical team arrives.]
Hajime was affected by the death of all the Student Council members, that he actually asked Shuichi to call his uncle for assistance.
[The Mastermind offered the adults weapons to kill the students.]
They obviously didn't know what to do, but both agreed to get as many survivors out as they could.
[This was planned.]
Shuichi checked each classroom first, calling out and calming the fearful children to escape the area.
[No one is coming.]
"Sorry," Shuichi mumbled under his breath, walking away from another unconscious teacher. He understands why Hajime suggests they kill the adults instead to prevent an even worse event, but Shuichi can't support the decision. These teachers had families to come back to. They had loved ones to tend to and friends who care-
*BRRRRR* Shuichi pulled out his phone, holding his gun while answering. "About time."
"Why is this always happening?" Makoto told the detective, exasperate or/and sad. "Also, you could have created a new group chat. What were you thinking?! "
"Because they're your roommates. If you get hurt, the principal will ask them first." Shuichi rationalized, taking a step back and hiding behind the wall when he heard the sound of a chainsaw. "Lower your voice. The teachers are running amok."
"█████ ███ ████" The adult asked. Shuichi hoped the students Hajime tutored wouldn't see this, specifically Monaca. Not all adults are... Genocidal.
" Have you figured out why they're acting like this? " Makoto asked, the Ultimate definitely running given the sound of his voice. " Is Hinata-kun with you? "
"I'm sorry. I don't know the staff's reasons for killing the students. Hinata-kun and I split up a few hours ago. Our main priority is to get everyone out of here. Our side mission is to tranquilize the threat before help arrives." Shuichi whispered, clamping the phone on his face and shoulder while reloading the tranquilizer gun he got from the nurse's office. Yes, the reserve course infirmary has these. The detective asked. "You will bring something to protect yourself with, right?"
" I have a megaphone, " Makoto's answer made Shuichi internally groan. " Sorry. It was the first thing I grabbed. "
"Do not use it. Please. " Shuichi thought about how to go about next. When he and Hajime went inside, they were almost shot by a teacher. She was screaming not to get out of the school. That would mean the teachers want the students to stay inside no matter what, to the point of even death. 'It's nearing four hours since we last called them. Something is wrong.'
'Guess we're on our own, as always.' Shuichi pointed his gun at the teacher before he could turn his head, shooting the man to fall and the chainsaw almost slicing his head off if Shuichi didn't step on it. The man begins crying, the sedative already paralyzing him from the legs down.
"I see." Shuichi stared at the adult who was inches from the blade. FEAR. Shuichi remarked, "They aren't brainwashed. They're killing students out of their own volition."
" What? " Makoto was slowing down. His voice going steady, which meant the brunette was close to the entrance. Shuichi was tempted to kick the chainsaw and watch this man suffer for all the deaths he's committed, but he couldn't. He was... This was...
"?!" Shuichi looked up at the sound of a machine gun rattling above him. It was somewhere close to the window, given the sound from Makoto's side. The detective deactivated the chainsaw, leaving another paralyzed adult on the floor.
"What floor are you on? Hinata-kun is definitely at the sixth floor running." Makoto asked, and Shuichi looked out of the window to see the Ultimate Lucky student staring up. "Also, what side? There are three different wings for this building."
"Hinata-kun and I are supposed to be meeting up about now," Shuichi confessed. He started at the bottom while precariously used the elevator to reach the roof. The Reserve Course building had 10 floors with additional facilities connected to it. "But as you noticed, someone is chasing after him."
"I can see that," Makoto can see from below. "It's not like him to fight back."
"How about you go inside and take note of the injured?" Shuichi ran towards the staircase, ready to assist his friend. "Hinata-kun and I asked most of them to head down and barricade the area. We spent a good hour checking if there are bombs, so I'm sure the ground floor is safe."
"Be careful." Makoto ran inside, pushing the door and the background noise toned down. Once you're inside, no one makes a noise. Regardless of their words, the students are afraid to catch anyone's attention. No one wants to die. Not a single one.
"I will." Shuichi doesn't want to die either.
Chapter 30: Night
Makoto is worried...
Hajime is tired.
Next: Normalcy (Take two)
2520 students enrolled in the grand opening of the Reserve Course. 200 students dropped in the first semester, but 250 students transferred to the school. Another 150 students left the school the next semester. A grand total of 148 students left the entire school year due to unknown causes, with 172 expelled for not meeting the grade requirement or performing illegal acts in school.
2100 students enrolled for the next semester, with an additional 500 new students entering the school. The event Hope's Peak Academy labeled the PARADE occurred.
By the end of last school year, 2,240 students remain.
The majority of the 360 students were graduating students where 80% committed suicide.
'500 new students entered the Reserve Course this year...' Hajime stared down at his seatmate, thinking of the number of students that died before October. 'Around 39 students died overall... Before this event.'
"Did you ask Kamukura-kun to convince the Board to let the hospital go under lock-down?" Shuichi's voice made Hajime cover his mouth before he yawned in front of them.
"Remind me the Ultimate exists next time. That guy needs the experience," Hajime forgot about that Ultimate, placing his hands on the rails. Hajime has been making mistakes left and right. At least Shuichi made the right call to ask Makoto for help. Hajime inquired, looking up at the window. "How's the situation outside?"
"Chaotic. A dozen Ultimates posted the event on social media, so now the hospital has people clamoring outside. Thankfully, the government stepped in to prevent casualty." The detective was walking closer to his area, but Hajime could hear more than one footstep. "Before you ask, I do not have a gun with me."
"What a shame. A gun always solves every...?" Hajime turned his head to greet his friends-? Why are Makoto, Nagito, Izuru, and Chiaki here? Hajime raised an eyebrow. "Really?"
"They wanted to see Kuzuryu-san," Shuichi explained. Hajime doesn't buy his roommate's alibi, but he may as well.
"Hm..." Hajime tapped the rail with his fingers, glancing back at Natsumi. "We're currently under investigation. The hospital is catering to both the victims and murderers of the event."
"I got you melon bread," Makoto offered an orange-flavored melon bread.
"Thanks," Hajime accepted the gift Makoto bought outside, opening the bag. He leaned on the wall, asking. "Where's Kuzuryu, Nanami?"
"With his parents..." Chiaki fiddled with her game girl. Parents, huh?
"So, you wanted to see me for something?" Makoto spoke up because of the sudden silence.
"Not really. Why would I want to see you in-?" Hajime realized what the detective wanted to discuss. "I know who the Mastermind is."
"The good news, it's Enoshima Junko. Bad news, it's not just Enoshima Junko anymore. Evidence?" Hajime yawned. "The short timeframe of tragedies ruining our supposed romance-themed high school days."
"Wait! The Mastermind can't be Enoshima-san! She was with me for the entire day." Makoto rebutted. Hajime searched around the room, annoyed there wasn't any chair nearby.
"We're not saying she's the Mastermind, but she could be an accomplice to the Mastermind." The detective explained. "Based on the CCTV footage, the student that tried killing Hinata-kun on the sixth floor was Ikusaba-san."
'Saihara already started investigating, huh?' Hajime sets the bread down on the table after realizing he doesn't have the appetite. The brunette stared down at the floor. 'Sleepy.'
"However, the Ultimate Soldier couldn't have done this alone because of the motive videos in the teacher's lounge and the timing of the incident," Shuichi added. "Other than Enoshima-san, the suspects would be Amami-kun and Pekoyama-san."
"Pekoyama-san can't be the mastermind because she's treated like family by Kuzuryu-kun," Chiaki pointed out. Hajime can feel himself sliding down to the floor.
"I asked Ouma-kun and Akamatsu-san to monitor their section last week because Kirigiri-san suspects Tsumugi-san to being an accomplice," Shuichi sounded disheartened. "Then there is this so-called Ultimate Impostor."
"If Enoshima-san is the Mastermind, what should we do?" Makoto asked a question.
"We kill her," (Why does Nagito sound like Makoto?)
"That's wrong!" Makoto refuted. "Killing won't solve everything."
"Hinata-kun fell asleep," Chiaki remarked, keeping her game girl.
"Hinata-kun can't control his sleeping schedule when he falls into despair," Makoto commented. "His trigger is the immediate death of uh... X number of individuals. That's what his journal said before he burned it."
"That's an oddly specific circumstance to induce a very harmless state of mind." Shuichi frowned. "Is that why you're more scared of me than Hinata-kun?"
"Yeah..." Makoto remembered the duo in the past. "And Hinata-kun chose to be on my side during the parade. He was really helpful."
"That's the side of hope, right?" Nagito asked. Before Makoto could respond, Chiaki called out to them.
"Guys. I think Kuzuryu-san is waking up," Chiaki lifted the white cloth from the blonde's face. "Why was her face covered again?"
"Kuzuryu Natsumi was shot on the back of her neck by a Glock 17," Izuru commented. From Natsumi, the Ultimate's gaze shifted to Makoto. "What did Hinata Hajime do?"
"Eh? Me?" Makoto pointed at Shuichi. "Why don't you ask Saihara-kun?!"
"Sorry.... But the doctors didn't want me to interact with him." Shuichi covered his mouth. "I don't really know when or how, but the medical field identified an illness and labeled it as the despair disease ."
"Is it infectious?" Nagito asked, suddenly taking a step back.
"I think so," Shuichi wasn't sure either. "It's best not to touch hi-"
"Wake up," Izuru crouched down to smack Hajime.
"Kamukura-kun has a strong immunity system," Nagito defended as Shuichi stared at the albino. "And fortified mental strength."
"!!!" Natsumi coughed, struggling and falling back on the bed.
"Calm down," Chiaki had to set down her game girl to place a hand on the blonde, trying to calm her down. "You might open your wounds."
Chapter 31: Game
Makoto leads the trio to a new objective.
Shuichi is part of investigation team.
Hajime realizes he went too far.
Next: Chess pieces
"?!" Makoto lowered his comic book when the door was slammed open. It was the fifth day of the week-long academic ease. The school mentioned it was a mourning period for the deceased. Fifty-one individuals died from the recent tragedy. The admin needed to handle matters with the parents, re-evaluating their staff to prevent the incident... Just like what happened a couple of months ago. Makoto visited Hajime yesterday. He, Shuichi, his uncle, and the doctor were the only ones allowed to visit the quarantined brunette.
While Despair! Shuichi required third parties to snap the detective out of his despair spiral, Despair! Hajime only needed positive company, a tranquil environment, and a resting time of around 3-4 days. According to Hajime's journal, Makoto's despair! self needed someone to do a reality check. Now, Makoto wasn't sure what that meant, but it was Despair! Hajime, who snapped him out of it. Despair! Makoto must be annoying for Despair! Hajime to act against him.
"Really?" Makoto smiled, helpless as he knew who these people were. "I think you two should rest more..."
"Sorry, but the reserve dormitory burned down a few hours ago," Shuichi waved his hat before setting it on the table. the first year went to the closest bean bag and flopped on it. "We'll be staying here for the night until the school renovates the warehouse."
"Or, you could give us your home address, and we can stay there for the night?" Hajime walked towards his bed, sitting down and grabbing a pair of scissors on his table side to cut the yellow tag on his wrist. Makoto squinted at Hajime, having a bad feeling the brunette snuck out of the hospital. Hajime confirmed, tossing the wristband into the trash bin. "I'm not the only one who escaped the hospital."
"Oh my god..." Makoto facepalmed, now getting an image of patients limping or crawling out of the hospital. "At least tell me you didn't instigate it."
"I didn't," Hajime hummed, grabbing the nearby Game girl console. "Kuzuryu did."
"..." Makoto rubbed his face, finally imagining the scene. Natsumi did have that charisma to get people going. The Ultimate dropped his hands, sighing. "I guess I can't say anything to get you two back into the hospital."
"Nope," The two workaholics answered at the same time. Makoto sighed again.
"I guess it's about time we discuss what to do with the Ultimate Despair," Makoto had to be the one to bring it up, being the most reckless between the trio. Hajime calls him a naive gambler, while Shuichi labels his actions a risky investment. However, if Makoto doesn't do anything, none of them will! All Hajime cares about is surviving school, while Shuichi hones his detective skills to uncover the truth. It's Makoto who prioritizes the people around him, teaching his ex-roommates the importance of love and friendship since the Reserve Department is a dreary echo chamber.
"One wrong move, and we'll get cornered," Shuichi commented, rolling over to face the wall. "If the Mastermind is indeed Enoshima-san, then the plan must be elaborate enough to reveal her actions for authorities to take action. Sadly, there are too many accomplices at the fashionista's disposal. All of them capable of carrying her legacy while she stays in prison."
"Don't forget her fans and our jury system," Hajime already started his game, probably going to chat with Chiaki online. "Based on my experience in the judicial courts, the prosecutors won't take criminal cases unless they're certain the suspect is the culprit. Why else is the Kuzuryu clan so popular to the populace to the point of letting their children enter the school symbolizing hope? Direct and easy access vengeance for all."
'Thank god they both agree imprisonment and death aren't viable solutions.' Makoto exhaled. "But if we don't do anything, the next incident could be the worst."
"True... This school year would be the ideal period to cause anarchy, especially when Hope's Peak contains teenagers who are impressionable and misunderstood." Hajime laid on his bed, rolling to his side. "University is another option, but the majority of the graduates of this school tend to go abroad or stop school and pursue their passion."
"Isn't the Future Foundation creating Hope's Peak University?" Shuichi raised his arm. "Does that mean we should avoid enrolling there?"
"Yes." Hajime answered, but Makoto replied, "NO!"
"God damn it, Naegi. Really?" Hajime lightly kicked his friend. "Let the adults handle it while we hide in a bunker."
"But if despair takes over, who knows what will happen?" Makoto already made a list. "Brainwashed people, worldwide anarchy, government pointing fingers and implementing martial law, resistance formations..."
"As much as I appreciate the fact Hinata-kun remembers my parent's bunker house, I agree with Naegi-kun." Shuichi turned to face them. "If we can prevent a catastrophe, then we do it. Also, I, too, have lost faith in the adults. Towa-san should hire Naegi-kun to teach their child instead."
"You guys are talking about Towa Monaca, right?" Makoto didn't expect the two to still keep in touch with the child.
"Yep. The girl gets bored easily," Hajime rolled to the other side. "Saihara and I are keeping a close eye on her because she's the best replacement for the Mastermind aside from Kamukura."
"Excuse me," Makoto is now glaring at his friend. "Did you... Are you sure?"
"There's also Tsumugi-san and the mysterious Ultimate Impostor..." Shuichi sat up. "The investigative team was formulated two days ago, gathering information about the students in Hope's Peak Academy."
"Ergo, half of the students in the Main Course are suspects in the case." Hajime finally looked away after receiving a GAME OVER. "The problem is the stereotypical biases. Adults often underestimate those of lower ages, forcing the specialized few to deal with the suspects on their own accord. Kirigiri ain't going to be sleeping tonight."
"An impartial... perspective," Makoto recalled Byakuya also being absent for the most part, but maybe Chihiro is also part of the team? "Then, how did the government select the investigation team?"
"It's probably a modified referral system?" Hajime answered. "Those whose interests clash in times of anarchy rose up and chose their own kids to assist the investigation. There are some exceptions-"
"AH!" The door opened once more, his real roommates entering the room with party hats on their heads. Makoto waved his hands, hoping they didn't hear anything. "Hey, guys! You two are back early! What's up?!"
"Sonia-san's party got a little rowdy..." Nagito chuckled while Izuru stared at him and Hajime. The albino asked, playing clueless or actually clueless. "Did something happen?"
"Thinking who should teach Monaca considering Saihara and I have dubious morality," Hajime answered instead, forcing himself to sit up but still playing his game girl. "Maybe Komaeda should teach her?"
"Eh... Me?" Nagito pointed at himself. "And why would someone as worthless as I teach a Lil' Ultimate?"
"Hm.." Hajime thought about it, pausing his game to look up. "You'd let a kid top you."
"..." The two shared a look.
"He's joking," Makoto watched Nagito pick up a nearby bat. "Uh-"
"Let me explain!" Hajime quickly rolled to the other side, getting off and now closer to the window. "We all know you'd let Kamukura top you!"
"I-I No-Well... That is..." Nagito was torn to replying and marching forward to smack some sense to the freeloader.
"Hinata-kun! You don't just say that!" Makoto cried while Shuichi covered his mouth to laugh. Then, the unexpected happened. The Ultimate Hope picked up a pencil. Makoto warned his friend. "Oh god! He's armed!"
"Who-?!" Hajime ducked as he almost got stabbed by the pencil, turning his head to see the single sharpened writing tool stabbed a tree outside. Hajime looked back at Izuru, who grabbed another pencil. "Wait! IZURU. YOU'RE TOO YOUNG TO KILL PEOPLE."
"Komaeda. " Izuru set down the pencil, requesting. "The bat."
"Shit!" Hajime muttered under his breath, setting the game girl on the table and pushing the window open.
"Don't," Nagito warned. Makoto and Shuichi looked away when Hajime did do just that. This wasn't the first time Hajime jumped off high places, being the most athletic and resourceful out of their team.
"He'll be fine." Shuichi reassured the stunned albino. "Kamukura-kun?!"
"?!" Makoto didn't expect Izuru to jump down as well. "HINATA-KUN RUN FOR YOU LIFE!"
Chapter 32: Ambiance
Makoto busy again.
Shuichi and Hajime chill.
Next: We're still on break so no action yet.
"What did you and Naegi-kun talk about?" Shuichi finally broke the silence, setting his pen on the table and leaving his answer sheet half-answered. It's been a week since class resumed. Just as the detective predicted, the school transferred the Reserve Dormers to a refurbished warehouse. The Reserve Course still had several teaching positions left vacant, leaving the students to self-study.
Due to the death of the current student council and the majority of the previous student council, Hajime sent a text to random students as the new members of the Student Council. [The disdain towards the Main Course intensified. It would be unwise for the Student Council to govern their sister department at this time.] Natsumi said the brunette did it out of a whim, but CCTV proved Hajime and Makoto were chatting as they roamed down the empty corridors after class hours. The oddity of the footage was how distorted their voices were. How convenient for all the cameras to have issues at that period.
"You have to be specific because we already agreed on what we're going to do this school year..." Hajime rests the side of his cheek on the palm of his hand, staring down at his brand new phone bought by the Ultimate Hope. As soon as Izuru got the privilege to spend money, the Ultimate bought random stuff for Nagito, Makoto, and Hajime. Shuichi checked Hajime's phone and confirmed Izuru placed a chip to track their resident tsundere down. However, removing it would raise suspicion, so Hajime let it go. Besides, Makoto said it would do well if Hajime annoyed the Ultimate some more. Shuichi has yet to understand what Makoto plans on doing. Maybe he plans on getting Izuru's good side by letting the Ultimate compare Hajime and Makoto? Better to deal with someone nice than prickly.
"You've issued a reorganization scheme to our department yesterday." Shuichi frowned, recalling yesterday's event. If Shuichi didn't know Makoto any better, he'd think the Ultimate Lucky student was the Mastermind. His ex-roommate has so many friends... Just enough to make a drastic change to the structure. "I also can't deny the effects your chosen students had over the department's stance."
"That? Naegi wants to distract the student council," Hajime explained, taking a random test online. They may have almost zero love experience, but Shuichi knows they're try hards. Makoto acts a little like Nagito. Treating himself like an ordinary person when he isn't. Shuichi doesn't understand how Makoto can be this mysterious sometimes. Makoto acts whenever he feels like it while Hajime acts out to save every-
"That's more your expertise," Hajime remarked, glancing up at him. Shuichi frowned, confused why the 3rd year always seemed to know what was in his mind. "I'll handle last resort."
"But the casualty count-" Shuichi argued.
"As I said, last resort." Hajime rolled his eyes. "What else can you guys do with their bodies?"
"So, you admit you had something to do with the supposed deceased?" Shuichi pointed out. "I know you remember parts of your time in the parade. What did you and Naegi-kun do to Matsuda-kun?"
"Sorry, but I don't remember that part," Hajime looked away. Shuichi squinted at the cheeky bastard. Out of 2000 plus casualties, 51 students died. 16 out of 51 of them were personal executions finalized by the Mastermind. Hajime looked back at his phone, "Maybe they all have a good recovery rate?"
"Fractures and stab wounds take more than a week to recover while limbs don't regenerate. Ever." Shuichi hissed, vividly memorizing the types of injuries. "Anyone can see the discrepancy because the footage is all over social media."
"Maybe the broadcast had faulty cameras?" Hajime pondered, and Shuichi grabbed his answer sheet to smack him. "Smack softer. People are sleeping."
"You are insufferable." Shuichi set his answer sheet down, peeved he refused to answer the questions.
"How's Monaca, by the way?" Hajime changed the subject, glancing at Makoto's side. Despite Makoto and Hajime trying to convince Nagito to teach her, the responsibility rest on his shoulder. Hajime continued. "I got a text from her saying you're no fun. "
"Other than the fact your despair self told her to keep the Mastermind's identity a secret, she's very intelligent for her age." Shuichi expected Lil' Homeroom to specialize in social bonds, not the jack of all trades! Then again, Shuichi now understood why Hajime couldn't leave her alone. "Why did the parents put you in charge of her again?"
"Hm..." Hajime leaned on the chair, thinking. "One of my uncle's past missions involved the Towa Group conglomerate . (Hajime shrugged.) I guess they remembered?"
"Does that mean you blackmailed them or bribed them because you having the majority of your parents in the government makes this vague?" Shuichi tapped his finger on his answer sheet. "I'm leaning on blackmail because Towa-san calls you Onii-chan, and you have a soft spot for anything family-related."
"..." Hajime opened but closed his mouth. "Shit. You make a good point. Can we switch tasks because I don't want to feel guilty using Izuru later?"
"Seriously?" Shuichi didn't expect that.
"Which part, the fact I get attached to sad kids or the future necessity to use my adopted cousin?" Hajime raised his hands as if showing the choices.
"Both." Shuichi knew Makoto was the one who forced Hajime to take care of Izuru, but wouldn't that also mean it's Makoto who wants to use... Shuichi glanced at Makoto's bed then back at Hajime. "Does that mean the stocks I bought will be part of Naegi-kun's plan as well?"
"I don't know~" Hajime yawned, sliding a bit on his chair. "I just want to pass the exam and move with Souda in a measly apartment to continue our studies.."
"The Ultimate Mechanic?" Shuichi returned to answering his worksheet. "What ship name would that be?"
"Hajichi... No... HinaSoda...? I might get sued..." Hajime thought about it as well. "Kazu...Hina?"
"Stop. We need to preserve your remaining brain cells.." Shuichi chuckled as the brunette struggled to name his ship. "I'm still sticking with Hinanami, even if Nanami-san would match with Komaeda-kun."
"Originally, I was shipping Kamuhina, but maybe Junkoma or Junkura-?!" Hajime got smacked by the pillow, falling on the floor. Shuichi quickly looked at the culprit to see Izuru squinting at them. "Admit it! You like-Ack! NO, WAIT! STOP! THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE!"
"..." Shuichi looked away as Izuru smacked Hajime with a pillow, seeing Nagito and Makoto still pretending to be asleep. 'How long have they been awake?'
Chapter 33: Choice
Hajime bonds with baby cousin hahahaha. (Sorry. I just found it funny heheheheehehe)
"I thought I told you family gatherings are good for you?" Hajime told off his adopted cousin, chewing his favorite kusamochi on the table while he, Shuichi, and Makoto stayed by the kotatsu. The days passed like a blur. Hajime didn't watch his kouhai anymore, busy prepping for the big test. He found it funny how Natsumi was arguing with her brother regularly because of what happened. Meanwhile, Hajime requested Chiaki to introduce Izuru to her game tests because the Ultimate needs a life.
"You did..." Izuru mumbled. The Ultimate was supposed to be in the Kamukura Mansion, but here he was. (Hajime couldn't blame him really.) The Ultimate set down the peeled orange, having its peels cut and crafted to make the core look like a treasure. The Ultimate then placed the remaining oranges to rest on Makoto's head. The raven stated, "My purpose in the gathering has expired. Hence, I decided to return to Hope's Peak."
"Uh-huh..." Hajime squinted as the guy stacked three oranges on top of the Ultimate Lucky Student. Makoto was tired most of the time, but his bubbly personality made everyone think the brunette had no ill intention. Turning to his left, Hajime watched Shuichi sleeping on the floor. Their resident detective entered their room drunk from Class 79-C's Christmas party, only to point at Makoto and say I reject both hope and despair before passing out. "How about you attend your class' Christmas party?"
"No. The outcome will be predictable..." Izuru already stacked six oranges on Makoto's head before realizing he didn't have anything left. The Ultimate's gaze shifted towards the plate of kusamoch-
"Don't," Hajime warned, using chopsticks to hit the offender's hand. The Ultimate glared at him, and Hajime impolitely pointed the chopsticks at the guy. "Now go to your class' Christmas party and make friends!"
"No." Izuru was a man of few words. Not a tsundere, but more of a kuudere. Shuichi proposed he may be a possible yandere, but Makoto pointed at Nagito and said that guy was the yandere. The possibility of two yanderes liking each other was also set on the table. The three agreed a further investigation was needed. "Because there is no point."
"Really now?" Haime sighed, realizing the other problem with this guy. Izuru doesn't do celebrations or anything of the like. "You should at least give it a-"
"Izuru," Hajime warned, smacking the guy's hand. The Ultimate pretended he did nothing wrong, but Hajime knew better. "These are mine."
"I will make you more," Izuru offered, but this kusamochi was made by Shuichi and Makoto.
"I don't want yours," Hajime will treasure this, no matter how imperfect his kouhais made it!
"Why the hell are you smiling?" Hajime hissed, already making the Ultimate's hands red. "And don't you dare tell me you're maso."
"I can't seem to get a single kusamochi from a mere reserve course student," Izuru mused, staring at one of his red hands.
"Because you're a child with fleeting motives," Hajime plucked a kusamochi from the plate with his chopsticks, munching on it. "Now leave before I call Komaeda."
"You will have to leave the kotatsu to grab the phone," Izuru explained. "I have also determined the plate to be glued on the table to cover the hole Komaeda created hours prior. Will you turn your back on your food?"
"Y-you..." Hajime didn't trust this guy one bit- *smack!* Izuru is starting to get on his nerves. However, Hajime couldn't do anything given his opponent. Hajime tried to negotiate, "Will you leave when you get one?"
"No." Izuru was honest in a bad way. Hajime wasn't sure if he should feel ha- *smack*
"Why don't you make your own kusamochi?" Hajime reasoned out. "These aren't good, but they're mine, okay?"
"Let me have one," Izuru stared at the plate with the not-so-circular mochi. This Ultimate annoyed Hajime because this wasn't the first time Izuru took food from his plate. Izuru must have one day decided to annoy him for the fun of it.
"No! Go away. Now." Hajime shooed the Ultimate, catching the orange Izuru threw- *smack* Hajime threatened, "Izuru. Leave my food alone or else."
"Or else what?" Izuru asked. Before Hajime could say the final warning, someone opened the door.
"Sorry for the intrusion, but I forgot to get my-"
"Kamukura-kun. You came back early." Nagito greeted while Hajime stole back the kusamochi Izuru grabbed. Nagito then noticed the marks on Izuru's hands, pointing. "What happened to your hands?"
"He's being an ass-?" Hajime failed to stop one hand that grabbed his kusamochi, stabbing the kusamochi about to enter the Ultimate's mouth.
"We're playing a game," Izuru bit on the chopstick before Hajime could tug it back, stating. "It's mine now."
"Stealing doesn't equate to ownership!" Hajime hissed, unable to retrieve his chopstick. Komaeda looked at Izuru then Hajime. The albino doesn't understand why Izuru and Hajime bicker half the time, but it makes less sense why Izuru likes hanging out with the prickly brunette. "Komaeda. Drag the guy by the hair. Please!"
"Your gift is on the third row of the cabinet-" Izuru was aware of what Nagito wanted to grab, which Hajime used to his advantage. Grabbing Makoto's chopsticks, Hajime slid off the kusamochi from the chopstick. Izuru glanced back at Hajime. "..."
"Do it and assert dominance," Hajime explains as he munched on the kusamochi, smacking Izuru's chopstick before the Ultimate could get another one. "Then, I can vouch for the change of your ship to the name of Komakamu-ow?! That's playing dirty."
"Is it?" Izuru threw three oranges at Hajime, quickly snatching munching on a kusamochi. The Ultimate commented, "It's not kneaded well."
"I already warned you, didn't I-?" Hajime smacked Izuru's hand. "Stop! You just said it's bad."
"The next sample may not be." Izuru reasoned. Hajime looked ready to strangle the guy.
"I'm awake!" Makoto sat up, oranges falling down his back as his phone rang. The Ultimate lucky student grabbed his phone and stood up.
"Let's go, Hinata-kun!" Grabbing the back of Hajime's collar, Makoto cheered as he marched out. "Catch up when you can, Saihara-kun."
"What?" Hajime didn't see this coming either, getting hauled out of the room. "Wait! MY KUSAMOCHIII"
"..." Nagito watched the two individuals before slowly looking at the somber detective.
"Hrhmrmmm..." Shuichi crawled on his knees before falling back down on the floor. "..."
"They plan on using the PR system within the Reserve Department..." Izuru supplied, but that made less sense to Nagito. Nagito caught a glimpse of the text, but it was from the Ultimate Songwriter. Izuru stared at the kusamochi, then decided to rest his cheek on the table.
"Aren't you going to eat the kusamochi?" Nagito raised an eyebrow.
"No." Izuru lost motive.
"Will you come out to the Christmas party?" Nagito asked once again.
"..." Izuru didn't respond. Nagito decided to call Nekomaru and Kazuichi for assistance. Izuru will attend for the sake of hope.
Chapter 34: Start
Makoto is happy.
Shuichi dragged by parents.
Hajime is a little uncertain.
Naegi Makoto considers himself an ordinary-
"Bullshit," Hajime interrupted his thoughts. The 3rd year student tapped the black GO stone, scanning the game board. "How many times do I have to keep saying you're the Ultimate protagonist to get it in your head?"
"I can't argue with the birthday boy, can I?" Makoto laughed while Hajime tapped the stone on the board. They were playing one of Nagito's favorite games to pass the time. It was a sad day because Shuichi's bodyguards came over and dragged the introvert out of the venue. Apparently, Shuichi's parents wanted the detective to attend a party.
"Not yet my birthday, but ok." Hajime shrugged, setting his piece on the board. Makoto watched Hajime flip the pieces before glancing back at party goers. When Kazuichi and Fuyuhiko heard Hajime had a birthday on January 1, everyone in Class 77-B rallied together and reserved one of Hopes Peak's gardens for Hajime's party. Everyone was wearing a kimono, playing random games, and chatting as if everything was going to A-OK.
"Are you excited?" Makoto asked, setting down his piece and flipping the pieces once more. After spending months fiddling with people, setting everyone with everyone, Makoto can safely say this year will be a little more challenging for despair to take root.
"Anxious," Hajime glanced up the night sky, having heard the Ultimate Pyrotechnician will be firing up fireworks up the sky at the stroke of midnight. "I'm afraid Saihara's going to kick our asses when he realizes what's going on. Maybe we should hide in the dorm?"
"Saihara-kun always has a gun. He knows how to open doors with them." Makoto recalled the time he and Shuichi got kidnapped while Hajime tried being a barista. The detective pulled out a gun their kidnappers failed to obtain and started shooting left and right. "Also, it's your birthday by the time he learns about it. He can't grill us then."
"True... Can you explain the mechanics to Izuru? He never listens to me," Hajime sighed, his ahoge somewhat wilting. "Komaeda's a simp. He lets the prick do whatever he wants."
"He does listen to you, just not obey you." Makoto tried his best not to smile, recalling the tsundere trying to force the Ultimate Hope to try new things. Makoto did promise Principal Kirigiri to show Izuru how wonderful the world can be, but stuff came up and Makoto needed someone to substitute him. Hajime agreed but quickly grew annoyed because Izuru needed constant attention. Hajime threw Monaca to Shuichi, but the detective couldn't handle her. It wasn't helpful the homeroom teacher couldn't handle Monaca and her cohorts either... It took a month before Hajime gave up because he couldn't multitask with people. "Kamukura-kun actually prefers you over Matsuda-senpai."
"Damn. There goes Matsukura..." Hajime set another stone on the board. "If you do plan on enrolling into Hope's Peak University, take care of him for me?"
"Woah. You really are a tsundere." Makoto chuckled, and Hajime refused to answer back. Although their plan is to deter despair, the future is unpredictable to declare the world is safe from anarchy. "I don't think they'll accept someone like me in their new school. I'll ask Komaeda-kun and Nanami-san to watch over him."
"Kamukomanami? Nanakamukoma?" Hajime is back to thinking how the ship name will be, glancing over to see Chiaki and Izuru playing a dance revo game. "Komakamunami or maybe Nanakomakura?"
"Don't force it," Makoto reassured. "I hear Sonia-san likes Nanami-san as well."
"Oh?" Hajime glanced at the Ultimate Princess. "Princess Nanakomakura."
"..." Makoto facepalmed.
"You think this is the best way to do things?" Hajime wondered, staring at the game board. "Not that I doubt you, but..."
"There can be no true despair without hope ," Makoto explained, and it made him remember he gave the same quote to Hajime when the brunette fell into despair. "However, people have mistaken despair with hope because both roads lead to the same destination in present-day society. Reeducation is necessary for change."
"But can the masses escape their self-made delusion?" Hajime leaned on his chair, crossing his legs at the final countdown. "Hate to be a realist, but the reserve course proved our generation have issues."
"I have faith in our capabilities. Together, you, me, and Saihara-kun can do anything." Makoto stared at the layout Hajime created. "Five more minutes until your birthday."
"Anything is an overstatement." Hajime watched Teruteru shooing Akane from the birthday cake. "Do you think Principal Kirigiri will change our name from Troubled trio to troublesome trio ?"
"He wouldn't guess we did this," Makoto turned silent, suddenly remembering his crush. "He might guess we did this."
"That's what you get for crushing on a detective," Hajime hummed, watching Nekomaru, Fuyuhiko, Ryota, Imposter, Nagito, and Kazuichi carry the cake to their area. "Hope or despair, everyone has no choice but to endure."
"Maybe we shouldn't have made a big cake?" Chiaki debated, seeing six people carrying the cake. Sonia, Mikan, Ibuki, and Hiyoko are preparing the tables for the grand birthday wishing. Class 77-B likes to party.
"Nonsense! Cake for everyone!" Teruteru cheered. Peko is still thwacking Akane to stay put. Izuru's holding the knife while Mahiru is preparing her camera.
"It's a pity Yukizome-sensei can't attend," Mahiru sighed, glancing down at the snow.
"Happy new year!" Makoto cheered, raising his hands after winning. The GO board is purely white. Hajime had no plans of winning, preferring to make a shape with his black pieces. Hajime glanced back in his direction, Makoto clapping his hands. "And Happy birthday to you, kingmaker Hinata-kun!"
"!!!" Hajime stared at him wide-eyed before calming down. Hajime couldn't look at him as he whispered softly.
"For a second there, I swore I saw your eyes were red."
Chapter 35: Turmoil
Shuichi is dragged by Hajime.
Next: Chill... Not chill. Not chill at all.
"Help me practice confessing to Komaeda."
(Hajime said aloud before dragging the detective out of the room.)
"We're going to the bathhouse." Hajime kept walking, obviously uncaring what he said minutes prior. Izuru and Nagito were in the same room when Hajime said it, which was worse.
"At least get better at lying," Shuichi sighed, finally catching a glimpse of the old main school building. When Hajime said those words, Makoto fell off his chair while Nagito choked on Dr. Pepper he was drinking. Izuru tilted his head, taking one of the cases Shuichi was reviewing before Hajime dragged the detective out of the room. "Practice confessing to Komaeda-kun? Seriously?"
"It's a decent excuse," Hajime opened the door, surprising Shuichi when there was no security guard or student in the vicinity. Although it's after school hours, there should at least have someone in the area. Hajime led him to the changing room, finally dropping his arm. "I suggest you change clothes too."
"A-ah..." Shuichi blinked, confused about what Hajime plans on doing. The brunette was already removing his clothes. Hajime placed the empty bag on the bench, placing all his clothes and items in said bag. Shuichi decided to follow his senpai, removing his clothes and folding them before setting them into the bag.
"I'm sorry for the short notice," Hajime began as soon as they entered the public bathhouse, walking deeper into the area. "I didn't want to think it was possible. However, I noticed the signs during December... I should have realized something was off when Naegi relied on me more than you, or how everything and everyone didn't seem to faze him..."
'This wasn't a confession, after all..' Shuichi expected as much since Hajime hadn't been sleeping well recently. The brunette hadn't been responsive lately, not even to Izuru taking his kusamochi. "Wait... Something's wrong with Naegi-kun?"
"Haven't you noticed the events happening this month?" Hajime crossed his arms, raising one arm to cover his mouth as he stared down at the water. "The third stage of despair improves the mental process of an individual, turning them nihilistic or Hellenistic or whichever their anima are inclined to follow."
"You think Naegi-kun's fallen into despair?" Shuichi took a step back, surprised at the accusation. Makoto didn't look like he was in despair. The detective reviewed the general plan intensively, ensuring nothing terrible happens when a third variable enters the system or a party deviates. Shuichi remembered a vital information Hajime slipped. "When you said you finally remember parts of your memory, you remember how Makoto works... with and without despair."
"Yes..." Hajime glanced up, slightly pale from worry. "Thankfully, both sides dislike the despair forced upon society."
"Why didn't you... But..." Shuichi couldn't believe it. "Wouldn't his therapist... They..."
"Shit," Shuichi cursed, knowing how bad this was. It was the Ultimates who didn't receive the 'brainwashing' and 'traumatizing' treatment. It was the Ultimates who retained their memories and carried the trauma to who-knows-how-long? 'Why didn't I consider this?'
"He has plans of executing Enoshima," Hajime whispered, conflicted. "Because that is her twisted sense of hope in this dreary world."
"..." Shuichi wiped the sweat from his face, not sure what to say. 'Guess I'm also going to have trouble sleeping tonight.'
"We'll save him," Shuichi started, aware of how ridiculous his words were. The most hopeful person he knew fell into despair in some form. Shuichi wasn't sure how to snap Makoto back, but they had to. "We're going to save him."
"We're not going to use a gun, understand?" Shuichi told his friend. He's going to think about this. "The bathhouse has no cameras. You're ensuring no one hears of this. Ever."
"Hn..." Hajime was back to thinking about a plan. They were all overthinkers, but Hajime had enough experience to take into account the after-effects.
"Is that why Naegi-kun hangs out with you?" Shuichi asked, wishing to get an answer. A part of him hoped this was so because the detective had a pang of guilt it was his fault for being too busy with work. His uncle needed the extra hand. He didn't mean to ignore his friends.
"..." Hajime dropped his hand, simply crossing his arms. "I increase the chances of success."
"Huh?" Shuichi raised an eyebrow.
"Depending on the circumstance and individual I'm with..." Hajime closed his eyes, a little resigned. "An impossibility may or may not happen."
"An impossibility..." Shuichi finally got the last puzzle piece. "Is that a talent?"
"No. Talent requires consistency." Hajime elaborates, leaning on the wall. "It's a trait... I guess? Something that can't be controlled, which is different from Komaeda, mind you. Komaeda's talent looks like god messing with him. Mine is... Certain conditions must be met or something along those lines?"
"At least in some manner, we got to talk about Komaeda-kun?" Shuichi needed to take a drink after this. He knew the conditions Hajime was referring to being the death of students. No one wants to have a skill that involves the countless lives of the innocent.
"Oh, that?" Hajime waved off. "It was either Komaeda or Izuru."
"Excuse me?" Shuichi didn't expect that comment. "You can't tap your cousin!"
"It's a compliment." Hajime joked but was also half-serious. "Wait. Maybe I'd rank Izuru higher if the guy had a better personality?"
"That's it! You're pan," Shuichi couldn't believe they switched the atmosphere so easily. "You've complimented too many people with different sexual orientations. You have to be pansexual."
"Which is why you must buy me a wok next year." Hajime contemplated, placing a hand on his hip and staring at the entrance/exit. "Izuru. How's Naegi and Komaeda?"
"Naegi ships you and Komaeda." Izuru entered the area, and Shuichi looked away because he wasn't wearing a towel. "He supports your decision."
"Understandable..." Hajime nodded off. "Can you leave now? Saihara has to remain faithful to Ouma, and your dick is in the way."
"Hinata-kun!" Shuichi hissed.
"Excuse me?" Izuru's words made Shuichi cover his face. Nooooooooooo
Chapter 36: Clubs
Drinking gets Hajime in trouble.
Makoto and Shuichi handling their harem.
Hajime wasn't sure why his drunk self did this, but he made a club at present that had over a thousand members. This club is named Single Army (SA), which focuses on self-improvement. The brunette only remembered it now because the assigned advisor of SA, Kizakura Koichi, came by to relay what Principal Kirigiri told him. The Ultimate Scout couldn't explain himself why he accepted the job, probably just as drunk as Hajime when it happened. One lesson came to mind...
'I should only drink with Naegi and Saihara.'
"Tsk." Hajime bit on the nail of his thumb, staring at the pile of papers on the table. These were the papers of all the members of SA. His vice president was, unfortunately, one of the Survivors in the Ultimate Student Council. The douche was also the primary reason more people joined the club despite having an inactive president and deadbeat scout teacher! 'I understand the students, but why include the admin?! Damn it!'
"Hinata-kun. We need to talk," Nagito sat down by the nearby chair. Right. It's been a week since Hajime told the guys he has a 'crush' on Nagito. Hajime hoped they forget it, but ah well.
"What is it?" Hajime needed to find some way to reduce the member count. Not only was the club name ominous, but to have a reserve course student be its president was too much. 'Maybe Komaeda has an idea.'
"Other than the fact you've been distracted these past few days, I'd like to confirm several matters with you." Nagito wasn't looking in his direction. Hajime thought back to Makoto, who is currently with his batch. Something about preparation for something? It's just him and Nagito in the room, the albino's luck about to change cycle right about... "Is it true you love me?"
"???" Hajime blinked, unsure what to say. He, Makoto, and Shuichi made it a game to take note of Nagito's luck cycles. It was usually extreme good or extremely bad. Hajime wasn't sure what would be the ideal answer to avoid extreme bad luck. He needed to tread carefully but answer honestly. "Well... You're handsome."
"You are well-versed on several topics. Dead air is rare unless requested." Hajime is delaying his answer. Nagito didn't look like he believed him. Hajime continued, "You have unhealthy habits, but you find little to no motive on finding alternatives."
"Are you delaying your answer?" Nagito raised an eyebrow. "Is it a yes or no?"
"Uh..." Hajime wasn't sure. He wasn't good with his feelings. Who would like a talentless nobody? It was better to stay single and strive to achieve whatever goal was on the table. 'Wait. Would rejecting him be considered Komaeda's bad luck? That's sad. It's not like I hate him, but to start a relationship now?'
"Don't laugh, but..." Hajime couldn't meet Nagito's eyes, embarrassed. Nagito leaned close because his voice got softer. "but I-"
"I'm back." Izuru slammed the door open, surprising both males. The Ultimate walked towards their area, setting down the bags (Makoto asked with puppy eyes to convince Izuru to buy) between them. "Komaeda. Have you asked someone for this coming Valentine ball?"
"Uhm... Not yet." Nagito blinked, looking at Izuru in surprise.
'Valentine ball?' Hajime repeated in his head. 'I guess I should buy condoms for my kouhais...'
'Maybe I can use the event to my advantage?' Hajime pulled out his phone, sending out the first activity for the club.
[Only the Loveless remain]
Chapter 37: Clover
Makoto's taking no chances.
Shuichi doesn't know.
Hajime spoils his not-siblings.
NEXT: increasing order
'It's about time for the next phase.'
[But for that to happen...]
"Have fun, everyone." Hajime bid them all a temporary farewell, scribbling something down on the journal gifted to him by Izuru. "Don't forget to use the lube."
"I pray I don't use this ever," Shuichi sighed, embarrassed their mom-friend got stuff for them.
"He gave you guys lube?" Nagito asked, surprised. Makoto knew Hajime gave Izuru the lube. "Huh."
"See you tonight, Hinata-kun." Makoto waved back, and Hajime closed his eyes and sighed.
"Come on, Kamukura-kun." Makoto tugged Izuru from the door, the Ultimate Hope's being awfully silent today. "It's your fault we're going to be late."
"Maybe... He should cut his-" Shuichi proposed, but Nagito gave an incredulous expression.
"His hair is good the way it is," Nagito argued. Izuru finally walked towards the albino's area. Nagito smiled at Izuru, "You don't have to change, Kamukura-kun. I'll gladly assist in drying your hair."
[Hinata Hajime has to take a break for a while.]
'Death is pretty overrated.'
Chapter 38: Hearts
Makoto and Hajime have epic friendship... But they cannot be trusted together.
Shuichi is scrambling to understand everything.
Next: New Protagonist enters the stage!
Despite trusting Hajime's judgment, a part of him still can't believe Makoto is tiptoeing the fine line between hope and despair. Shuichi doesn't know what qualifications or symptoms Hajime utilized to come up with this conclusion. [DENIAL is understandable.] Both brunettes trusted their gut feeling, with Makoto following his to the point of absurdity. Hajime is consistent with his insecurities, which explains why the third year rarely discloses any information unless backed up by evidence or a contingency plan. Shuichi has intuition as well, but he trusts Kaede's decision more than his. Kokichi's intuition is also better than his, but the Ultimate Supreme Leader's actions are a little drastic... It makes the detective thank circumstance that Nagito and Kokichi are not partners-in-crime.
Shuichi should have known something was up when Hajime stayed relatively docile four days ago, scribbling on a journal and acting more motherly than need be. When the albino joked Hajime was acting like a mother sending their kids off to school, Nagito foreshadowed Hajime's departure. Makoto and Hajime were performing side objectives that required Hajime to go MIA. However, Shuichi knew the collective suicide of 100 students, both main and reserve, that night during the Valentine event was part of the plan as well. It was so bad that the administration called the sudden end of the party and ushered the students back to the dorm. The Reserve Department building was off-limits. Shuichi heard a lot of security guards requested leave or made a decision to resign. According to the remaining unhinged security guard, the students rambled about a wonderful world. Isn't that part of the lyrics given by the Ultimate Songwriter? Unfortunately, the rumors distorted the truth. Word spread the students were killed or pressured from all the stress of the present.
'Then 200 reserves students fell into a coma since yesterday from unknown causes,' Shuichi thought to himself, finally gathering sufficient information from his side to venture to the Main Course's dormitory to relay his findings to Makoto. The world plans they created are still in effect, but the skits happening in school have flipped over and fallen off the road. 'Events weakly linked to past events. Events I fail to comprehend its motive even after looking at it from three different perspectives.'
'Matsuda-kun quarantined the 200 comatose students, requesting the cleaning staff to purify the Reserve Course building inside and out.' Shuichi knew Matsuda was not present in the Valentine ball, listening to Junko(?) ask where the Ultimate Neurologist went. Shuichi also noted the supposed revived Advisor Tengan Kazuo was absent despite the program listing him as one of the speakers for the ball. He already made a list of absent and present entities on the night itself, but presenting this would not remove liability to the current culprit. 'Too many holes to the plot. What's going on?'
'Now that I thought about it, where's the head security?' Shuichi climbed and jumped off the wall to bypass the guards from the front, walking at the tight space to enter the dormitory through the window. 'Yukizome-sensei was also missing during the incident...?'
'Why is Naegi-san here?'
Running up the stairs, he thanked Rantaro for distracting the guards as he reached the upper floors. The higher the floor, the more guards there were. Komaru wasn't supposed to be here. She was supposed to be attending her school relatively far from this place. Shuichi did not mistake her appearance as the girl ran up the window from the second floor. Makoto showed his sister's picture enough times for the detective to recognize the student uniform. What's going on? What is happening?
Isn't this exciting?
The introduction of new evidence sheds light on the matter. Shuichi is inching closer to the truth. The euphoria of solving the case gives him a boost in mood. [Despair and hope did not matter to him.] Shuichi finally reached the third floor, running to the only possible route the girl would have gone. Opening the door, the first he saw was the back of Komaru, and why are three of Nagito's classmates here?
"That's right," Makoto was scribbling on the journal Hajime left in the dormitory before leaving elsewhere, glancing up at the newcomers as if everything was going to be all right. Shuichi almost believed it if not for the crimson tint in emerald eyes. "Yukizome-sensei and Hinata-kun are part of the Neo World Program happening underneath the school."
"No! That can't be right!" Ryota denied. Shuichi noticed Komaru's carrying torn pages of the stationary paper from Izuru's journal. Hajime must have delivered them before heading down(?) The only way for those papers to reach Komaru would be through delivery. The presumption is that Makoto's sister received the document yesterday and read through them. Makoto's explanation explained why Chiaki is in the room, but Shuichi failed to understand the presence of the Ultimate Animator and Ultimate Impostor. Hold on. Ryota argued, "Fujisaki-san says it's not ready. Why would-"
"Why wouldn't they?" Makoto countered, his smile dropping to a neutral expression. "While it's true Ultimates created the program, the one who has the final say is the adults. The Admin only agreed to the Valentine Ball to steer the student's attention away from the voluntary participation of 32 individuals in the prototype. Don't tell his uncle, but he ordered Hinata-kun to come along and report back what happened. Yukizome-sensei must have participated because of Munakata-san. He's been bedridden for a couple of months now."
'That explains the papers Hajime refused to touch until Kizakura-sensei came over to dump the Single Army papers.' Shuichi didn't have time to scrutinize his friend's work, but one person did, and that was Izuru, Which explains why the Ultimate was hesitant on leaving Hajime on the night of the event! He also remembered Makoto asking him about the Future Foundation, which was (in a way) a sister organization to Hope's Peak Academy.
"Komaru! Why are you here?" Makoto closed the book, realizing Komaru was hiding behind the three students. The Ultimate Impostor was pretty uh wide. The Ultimate Lucky student got off his bed, standing to look at his sibling with a curious smile. "Don't tell me Saihara-kun sent you to do another errand?"
"No, this is from Hinata-kun." Komaru explained, and Shuichi stepped inside to close the door behind him. "He told me to visit you every Saturday because he'll be gone for a while. His excuse was... The program's corrupted, and no one can get out for a while."
"Corrupt...ed?" Shuichi wasn't sure what that meant, but it was bad enough to get shoved by the frantic animator to get out of the way. All Shuichi knew Makoto and Hajime foresaw this but proceeded with the plan. Shuichi asked, wanting more information. "Corrupted how?"
Chapter 39: Diamonds
Komaru gets roped in since Hajime goes AFK.
Makoto and Shuichi receives homework from mom friend.
Next: You know the drill. We're heading back downhill.
[The Neo World Program digitalizes the participant's existence into a constructed reality designed to overwrite any part of the previous persona to undo the established trauma. Although ethically dubious, the government agrees to fund the project in the hopes of combatting the circulating psychosomatic disease known as the Despair Disease.]
Naegi Komaru received a package from Hajime while her parents were out, opening the box to stare down at several documents.
Three of us agree the prototype is not ready at its current state. The chances of a successful rehabilitation rate are slim, and the symptoms generalized to consider the graduates CURED on the final test itself. Shuichi's findings, however, point to the administration planning to use the NWP somewhere this year.]
Hajime painfully summarized the current state of the world for this year, redacting paragraphs and names to be filled by her own imagination.
Makoto has notified me the NWP will activate on the night of the Valentine Ball. I have four days to decide.]
Hajime trusted her to stabilize Makoto and Shuichi because she is, what Hajime calls, a fellow ahoge protagonist.
[There will be 2,360 reserve students in the school on ████████ ███ ████, 32 participants trapped in the NWP and 16 random students to be executed by the end of the year.
The last part is no longer certain...
She has four pretty ominous rules to follow:
(1) Do not blind yourself with Hope and despair.
[Naegi Makoto is ██ ███ █████ █████ ██ ████████. It currently has no cure other than █████. The NWP is the theoretical cure to all ██████, but as mentioned earlier, the chances of success are close to zero.]
(2) Do not chase after the Future.
(3) Be mindful of the Truth.
(4) Decide carefully.
"B-but I did read his notes," Komaru admitted, a little embarrassed when the notes she brought are now empty sheets of paper. Shuichi looked like his soul went up to heaven while Makoto scratched the back of his head. "I should've taken pictures."
"We believe you. He probably used the prank pen given to Komaeda-kun by mistake..." Makoto glanced at the pen innocently resting on his tableside.
"Doubt," Shuichi must be used to Hajime's nonsense, examining all the blank papers and even feeling it. The detective is currently using a pencil to reveal a musical composition. "This is going to take a while. What did Hinata-kun write about?"
"Most of them were student profiles in the reserve department," Komaru examined the room. Hajime summarized the entire Reserve Course department within 15 pages. Makoto's friend made the department look like a game, spoiling-no-suggesting the solution to each scenario. "Then the rest would be a set of directions..."
"I'm guessing his uncle excused you from class?" Makoto tilted his head. Komaru nodded, honestly hoping Shuichi and Makoto do it instead. However, she did want to roam around her brother's school and uncover the riddles Hajime set on the paper. Like a mystery game. Makoto glanced back at Shuichi, then at Chiaki carefully cutting a page open because it was heavier than the rest. "I guess it's all right for you to stay with Kirigiri-san for the night, but you'll need a self-defense weapon just to be safe."
"Eh?" Komaru blinked when Makoto went underneath his bed to grab a chest. "But aren't weapons not allowed here?"
"Not exactly. Don't worry. I'm not going to give you a real weapon," Makoto opened the chest, grabbing a megaphone? Makoto cheered, offering the device. "Ta-da!"
"A megaphone..." Shuichi squinted at the item which Komaru received. "Is that the Megaphone hacker prototype Hinata-kun requested from Souda-kun?"
"Yep." Makoto sat back up. "As soon as he got it, Hinata-kun threw it in my chest. I have a good feeling you can use it, Komaru."
'Onii-chan is too trusting.' Komaru sighed, but it has to have some purpose right? Based on the name itself, it can cause uh... something to machines. Komaru remembered Hajime wanting someone to deactivate something in the underground factory. 'Can I handle that?'
"A keycard?" Chiaki remarked, finally opening the page to have something drop on the bed. The Ultimate gamer flipped the page, staring at the series of numbers. "Hm..."
"That must be Towa-san's homework," Shuichi took a picture of the composition, sending it to Kaede if she knows who composed the piece. "He probably wants Naegi-san to visit her."
"Who?" Komaru is kinda out of the loop here.
"Towa Monaca, the Lil' Ultimate Homeroom student," Nagito watched Izuru flip through the gift the latter gave Hajime. "I can accompany if you need to visit her."
"Thanks," Komaru hoped nothing bad happens while she's here. 'I might as well.'
Chapter 40: Program
Makoto is a little upset Hajime dragged Komaru into the scheme.
Shuichi realizes some things... Like Yasuke and Chihiro being important characters.
Komaru meets Monaca somewhere.
Makoto is upset.
Not mad because he understands why Hajime did it but upset Hajime chose this option.
It's the same situation during the PARADE. Hajime doesn't trust him enough compared to everyone else. His senpai saw things from a despairing standpoint, refusing to hope on miracles even with the evidence presented. Despite being so similar, they picked different options...
But that was fine! Makoto is confident the result will always be hope-filled. The future will keep moving forward regardless of the presentation of truth.]
Makoto doesn't mind if the 32 participants in the Neo World Program get trapped in the program. These people were vital chess pieces in changing the world, but sadly too vulnerable and entrenched in despair. He isn't gambling their lives within a prototype, but he's making sure they don't cause despair to the world at this crucial time.
Seeing Komaru enter the school in the final stages of his plan was a little risky for his mental health. Makoto didn't want to attract attention to himself, having found the perfect balance to being considered a side character, but he didn't want to watch Komaru get hurt. In the end, Makoto chooses to pair his sister with Kyoko while he follows Shuichi to ensure the detective doesn't get hurt.
'Maybe Saihara-kun prefers Hinata-kun over me? They are in the same department...' Makoto sighed, placing his hands on the table as his classmate Chihiro searched for a way to reveal the current state of the trapped participants. Something obvious happened to the program. All for sure, Makoto didn't want to worry about it right now. He was here with Shuichi to meet with their stubborn ally.
'What to do?' Makoto can see Shuichi conversing with Matsuda and Izuru, discussing the program's initiation procedure and the participant selection process. The program can't shut down without damaging the psyche. Komaru told him she and Kyoko would visit Monaca. Kaede's talking with Ibuki and Sayaka on the lyrics sent by Shuichi. Every other piece is keeping the Mastermind at bay-
"She's reorganizing her battleplan." As if aware of his thoughts, the graduating reserve student on the monitor responded. "Saihara. Why didn't you tell me there were survivors to the Giboura Junior High Mass Murder Case? "
'Battleplan?' Makoto repeated his senpai's words. His optimism does affect his sense of judgment. Hajime presented Komaru with character profiles. Did the characters change? Of course, they will, but that would make it easier to plan around them as well. Makoto could feel Chihiro's eyes staring at him, but the programmer stayed quiet. 'I underestimated her?'
"Because there aren't-" Shuichi replied in turn, changing his stance. "Wait. There are survivors? How would you... That file you're holding."
"It seems the bug digitalizes the memories of all the participants into a series of files," Yasuke held the clipboard as he took note of the vitals. "Was that used as a motive?"
"According to Usami, Hinata-kun is one of the individuals to retain their memories..." Chihiro sounded worried, so that wasn't what was supposed to happen?
"About the 6 uh... victims? They aren't dead permanently, right?" Makoto asked, worried because that wasn't part of the plan. 'He did learn some people died in the simulation earlier.'
"The program's designed not to let anyone die," Yasuke smacked Makoto with his clipboard. "They'll wake up later than the rest- Don't think about it."
"Of what?" Izuru inquired. Both seem to know something.
"I have so many questions right now..." Chiaki finished checking the area, a little confused about the set-up. With Matsuda and Chihiro being major developers of the program and Izuru subtly threatening the admin, they were all able to enter the secret area underground. Chiaki asked, "How are you communicating with Hinata-kun?"
"Hinata-kun knows how Saihara-kun and I work." Makoto wasn't sure how to explain it, but that's the best way he could explain things. "He doesn't have to be-"
"Hinata-kun!" (A distinct voice made them look at the screen.) "What are you doing all by yourself?"
"Yukizome-sensei?" Chiaki exclaimed, seeing her homeroom teacher enter Hajime's room. "At least she's safe."
'Neither dead nor alive...' Makoto watched Yukizome drag Hajime out of his room. 'Reorganizing her plan...'