Prooofread by: me, WolfieRed23, and Comrade's Lament


Welcome To The Flock

Prologue 4


Save me… love me… help me.

Love me… save me… help me.

Help me… help me… help me…

Why can't I do anything right?

Why can't you help me?


Particles Of Your Heart


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"Maimi...?"

Maimi blinked for a moment and glanced to the side. She was standing in that dreadful elevator... where she was reminded of how few people were left standing now.

Even with the extra leg room though, the place still felt suffocating. She couldn't even imagine how everyone else was feeling...

...and since they were calling out to her... Maimi imagined they were taking it the worst.

"Hey... it's going to be fine." Maimi tried to look confident for their sake, but her eyes winced. All Maimi could remember was Ayano's body.

"It is?" The figure asked, as if they didn't believe her.

Maimi could understand why... throughout the entire investigation people had been giving them dirty looks. It was as if they were set on them being the culprit.

Maimi couldn't see that though... and she couldn't let the group make that conclusion so hastily.

"It really is, I promise," Maimi nodded, "we're gonna go down there... and do what we always do. What... we have to do."

The elevator made a screeching stop and the group froze. Maimi's eyes tightened as the haunting sound of the doors opening filled the chamber.

This was it... she could already see ahead of them... the dark future of the trial.

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Maimi watched the figure walk ahead, their eyes... filled with despair.

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Maimi whispered to herself and painfully closed her eyes.

"I'll keep you safe... I promise."


ACT 3


"Congrats you shit faces! Akinari! Trace! Yer up!"

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...

...

W-What?

"W-Woah! W-What the heck?" Trace held up his hands. He had to admit, he hadn't even gotten over the revelation that he had woken up in a classroom where apparently someone died, and now he was being called out?! "Why are we accusing Mr. Kaneko and me?!"

"I'm with Trace on this, I'm a bit... perplexed at this call out," Akinari spoke calmly, a far cry from his usual goofy act. "We've yet to clear Midas or Freyja off the suspect list and haven't gone over all the evidence... so why are you suddenly shifting focus onto us?"

Yumi rolled her eyes. "Could you be more stupid?! Do you not even remember what we discussed about the Science room?!"

Trace nervously tried to remember everything they had talked about. The classroom they woke up in... the Science room. The fact Ayano died there... the fact it was cleaned up...

...wait a second?! Trace just realized Yumi's point.

"Ah! Now it's all making sense!" Tiago caught on along with Trace as the older man crossed his arms, "Yumi's accusation is well put given the circumstances of Ayano's murder."

"Uh... ayo what's the logic?" Mateo blinked and tried to follow along. "Maybe you can elaborate or something for like... most of us."

"Let me paint this in a way you brain dead morons can understand," Yumi rolled her eyes, "the classroom Akinari and Trace woke up in... was the classroom Ayano died in, which is the original fucking crime scene the culprit tried to hide. If the culprit went out of their way to clean up said crime scene... there's only one reason they'd do that..."

"To make it so no one knew a murder didn't take place there..." Valerie was taken in by the idea this time as she nodded her head, "a lot of resources went into moving the body around... the workout mat... the cart... the cleaning supplies... it all begs the question of WHY someone would do that."

"I mean it sounds like a lot of work." Adam blinked. "But... I guess... they did it to hide the fact Ayano died in the Science room, right?"

Ayame nodded to confirm this. "Exactly. Despite the work... it was worth it because we didn't expect the Science room to be the original place Ayano died in."

"And who benefits the most from us being confused by that?" Yumi grinned at everyone's gears finally turning, "these two nerds right here!"

Trace stammered a little at the accusation. No way... he had no idea how to defend against that!?

But Akinari stood quietly, a more logical and composed look shrouding his old frame. He looked deathly serious now. With everyone accusing him and his student... he'd have to find a way to get these people's emotions in check.

He would use logic to ensure they didn't go down the wrong path!


NONSTOP DEBATE

Akinari


Yumi: "There's no way you can defend against this! Ayano's bitch ass died in the Science room and these two idiots covered it up!"

Trace: "I promise y-you, me and Mr. Kaneko had nothing to do with this murder!"

Chuya: "Can we be sure they are suspicious, Yumi? It would be so horrible an idea if they betrayed us... and it seems like a hasty idea to accuse them both when they've been so helpful."

Adam: "I have to agree on that. At least Akinari and Trace have been pretty cool this entire trial... unlike some others..."

Midas: "Hehehe..."

Yumi: "You can whine about it all you want, but the actual intelligent fuckers around here KNOW I'm right. There's no reason for the Science classroom to be cleaned up unless you had something to hide!"

Casey: "Um, what evidence implicates them aside from the classroom though?"

Kokoro: "...perhaps Mr. Orsino's clue can add more weight to the theory. He says someone was seen wearing a lab coat to cover the blood stains."

Eddie: "Yep, at 6:30 pm specifically..."

Naohito: "It sort of checks out... I mean both Trace and his teacher wear one. And it wouldn't look so suspicious if someone saw them walking around with one on."

Trace: "N-No wait! {There is one extra lab coat missing} in the closet and it hasn't been found! There were supposed to be five right? Maybe the lab coat is like the rock and it's... missing somewhere?!" (bullet used)

Yumi: "Fuck a missing lab coat! You two are beyond guilty if that clue is talking about you!"

...

Agreement Bullet: Missing Lab Coat

- BREAK -

Akinari: "A logically compound statement my student!"

Trace: "Let's rewrite this formula, teach!"


"Trace is right... there's a missing lab coat in the Science room that might prove our innocence," Akinari tried to keep his voice steady as he agreed with his student.

"A lab coat is gonna prove your innocence? Are you fucking joking?" Yumi snarled.

Akinari straightened his tie and took on a more formal tone. "Pay attention, Eddie just said his personal clue tells that someone is wearing a lab coat at 6:30 pm. Now there's two options with that knowledge... either its a lab coat taken from the Science room... or the lab coat is one that either me or Trace are wearing."

"So even you admit you could've worn a lab coat during the murder!" Tiago called out with an angry look.

"It is possible... however, there's another likely option," Akinari continued, "that someone else... the true murderer took a lab coat to hide their plot and frame us... as when me and Trace woke up in the classroom, there were originally five lab coats."


Trace obeyed, but craned his neck to see what was inside when Akinari opened it. Inside were lab coats, five to be specific… and underneath them was… an arm?!


"After the investigation started," Akinari continued, "there were supposedly four. And keep in mind Laurel and Barneby added extra evidence that was relevant to the case AFTER we left our classrooms."

Trace nodded along, realizing what his teacher was saying. "Yeah that's true! I showed Koko... I-I mean Kokoro, the evidence during our investigation and one lab coat was gone!"


"Anyway, ayo Koko!" Trace managed to bounce back as he pulled on my sleeve like an excited kid. "I wanted to show you this! Come on!"

"I'm pretty sure it's not that big of a deal…" I mutter as I strictly glared at him tugging on my blazer. But I let him pull me over to one of the science closets. Inside the closet… were four lab coats with an extra hanger.


"The extra hanger implies that the original fifth lab coat went missing once the investigation started!" Trace explained with a focused puff of air, "isn't it strange that a lab coat is MISSING after Laurel and Barneby shifted around evidence? It means it probably would benefit someone else more! And since Mr. Kaneko and I already wear one... there would be no benefit for us to take an extra spare out of the closet-"

- COUNTER -

"Unless your original lab coat got covered in blood." Louise interrupted.


REBUTTAL SHOWDOWN

Louise Vs. Trace


Trace jumped in shock. He hadn't expected Louise to try and battle him like this!

Louise: "You say it's odd that a lab coat is missing, but it's quite the opposite. I imagine after bashing Ayano's face with that rock... you got so much blood on your original robes that you needed new ones. Case in point... the missing lab coat from the Science room."

Louise puffed a sickening cloud of green smoke at Trace's face.

Trace: "O-Okay yeah you're speaking facts... b-but take notice of the pattern with the lab coats! Kokoro, Ayano, Maimi, and Yumi. All those names belong to girls! Wouldn't the pattern of four girl lab coats imply the fifth also belonged to a girl and therefore one of them is the culprit?"

Trace blocked with a medical shield and took little damage!

Louise: "That hardly matters when you and your teacher are both slim enough to fit into any of those lab coats."

Louise threw a stick of dynamite at Trace's feet! OH CRAP.

Trace: "You say that... b-but my measurements are a little bigger than those coats! I'm 5'8 and-!"

Louise: "So you're saying you'd have trouble wearing the coat? I say the culprit would sacrifice a little comfort if they could steal a girls lab coat to shift the blame off themselves. Not to mention your teacher likely could wear one of those coats given how short he is. It's definitely one of you two for sure."

Louise's dynamite was about to explode!

Trace: "G-Gck! W-Wait..."

(Trace looked over all the evidence the group collected again. Was there anything to prove their innocence?)

...

...

Trace: "N-No I got it!"

Trace prepared to douse the dynamite with water!

Trace: "...the murder took place at around 6:00 pm, if I was the individual seen walking around at 6:30... then that means I should've been free to roam the classrooms between 6:00 and 7:00... but that's impossible because..."

...

Bullet: Detention Time Table and Supervisors

- BREAK -

Trace: "I'll prescribe you a dose of the truth!"


"The time tables from Homeroom?" Jiyuu paled, surprised that her evidence earlier was being presented as she helped bring it out.

Louise also looked similarly surprised as she narrowed her eyes. "And why is this important?"

"Because it can absolutely prove my innocence at the very least!" Trace gulped. "Look on the time board!"

(DETENTION SIGN IN - Please put the time you clocked in)

Mi-ho A-Ka-Tsu-ki~

Yumi (erased)

japaKAnon (FOLLOW ME) (four eighteen)

Trace! (around 6 I think? :0)

Naohito Urabe (sometime at 4)

...

"Why is my FUCKING sign in time shit erased?!" Yumi was clearly not happy with how bad that looked for her.

"Hey, my time is not up there either?!" Miho's eyes widened as she giggled. It didn't seem she was upset with the idea though.

"Err... I'm not exactly sure, b-but look!" Trace hastily pointed to his name on the detention sign-in board. "It says that I clocked it at around 6:00!"

"Oh! I see it!" Chuya brightened up as she pointed at the board. "Trace signed into detention at around 6! If the murder took place at 6 as well... then Trace physically couldn't clean up the crime scene!"

"A fine point my student," Akinari smiled reassuringly at Trace's counter. That look from his teacher made Trace's heart soar! Maybe he could do this after all!

Louise gave it some thought. "Interesting... then that could be the case-"

"And who's to say you didn't tamper with the damn board!" Yumi interrupted.

Akinari's glasses almost cracked. Trace jumped as if a chemical bottle blew up in his face.

"Notice how my shit's erased... so that means the student times can be tampered with," Yumi snapped, "Trace or Akinari's dumbass over here coulda changed the time's on any of them to appear innocent!"

"B-But neither of us ever went into Homeroom to change anything!" Trace tried to defend.

Akinari gave his own nod. "That is true... I have multiple people that can testify I was only ever around the body. Meaning I didn't have the time to tamper with anything."

"It still could be possible," Naohito spoke up for Yumi and glared at the two, "maybe during the investigation Trace slipped away and wrote that stuff down. Besides, for all we know when Trace wrote... "around 6 I think..." he coulda killed Ayano earlier, and then had Akinari clean up the crime scene for him."

"...that is t-true..." Jiyuu tried to agree with the group as she gave a pained look to the floor, "a-and... um... even if Trace wasn't able to go at 6:00... Akinari had-"

"-AMPLE time to do the deed himself!" Midas interrupted as she pointed at the board, "lookie here!"

...

(DETENTION SUPERVISING TIMES)

Supervising Teacher Times

Midas (not offered)

Akinari (1:00 pm - 2:00 pm)

Jiyuu or Bohai (2:00 pm - 3:00 pm)

Eddie (4:00 pm - 5:00 pm)

Mateo or Chuya (5:00 pm - 6:00 pm)

Tiago or Valerie (6:00 pm - 7:00 pm)

Chuya (8:00 pm clean up)

"Akinari was supposed to watch the detention room at 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm," Kokoro tried to keep track as she narrowed her eyes, "if we assume this board isn't tampered with... that means Akinari basically could've killed Ayano after his shift was over."

Akinari had to clutch his lab coat tightly as he closed his eyes. To think he might be punished over something like being assigned early on the detention board. "These were times assigned to us by the mascots... and that's just disregarding every other potential suspect on that list. Aside from Tiago or Valerie... and possibly Mateo and Chuya... everyone with an earlier time had a chance to take Ayano's life."

"And yet you had by FAR the earliest time on the board," Yumi accused as she snapped her finger toward the Biochemist, "it would give you plenty of time to prepare whatever stupid shit you needed to wipe Ayano's sorry face off the map."

"But what a-about Midas or Yoshinobu?" Trace spoke up with an intense look, "Yoshinobu isn't even on the board... and Midas wasn't even offered the detention role. Both of them could've been walking around and murdered Ayano without a care in the world!"

"Hmmm... why isn't my name up there?" Yoshinobu gave it some thought.

"Maybe doll girl and birdie made an oopsie?!" Miho giggled.

"We did no such thing!" Barneby defended.

"I think we can come back to Yoshinobu as a topic for sure," Akinari nodded sternly, "but for Midas specifically... we never did prove her innocence did we? No offense of course, it's just we agreed to continue with the discussion until it became relevant to shift topics back on her again."

"He's right, you know!" Midas giggled, "I did have some spare time to probably kill that chick since I wasn't-"

"Stop talking before I make you." Eddie warned with a dark glare.

"Focusing the discussion back on our suspects," Tiago huffed, "There's also still the fact that Trace could be under questioning if his time is even right! If Yumi's time was tampered with and Miho's time is just straight up missing... there's no telling what else was changed!"

Trace felt the lump in his throat grow bigger and bigger. Glancing around, he noticed not many people seemed to be on his side. Some looked downright angry, others looked at him with pity. Was... he really going to be suspected for this crime? What could he do to prove it to them!

Akinari in a similar vein appeared uneasy. He managed to keep a good handle on his expression and simply sighed, but no such mask was secure enough to hide how worried he was for at least his student. What sort of logical defense could he come up with?

Logic... logic... logic.


CHEMIST'S LOGICAL EQUATION

Akinari


Akinari prepared a huge board of chemical equations to solve as he figured out a way to get the group on a new path.

What could be used to at least implicate a few others?

A.] Detention Time Table

B.] Personal Clue

C.] Midas being crazy

- BREAK -

Akinari: "The result of my newest experiment!"


Akinari's face broke slightly, he knew how to at least... give them some time, "all of this is just speculation. No physically tangible evidence implicates me or my student."

"Are you being for real?" Casey blinked. "We still have to keep debating with you guys?"

"Yes, Casey, I'm afraid you're going to have to put a little more work in if you want to be satisfied with the result," Akinari stood as tall as he could as he studied everyone in the room, "because there's a physical piece of evidence that still links two other people to the crime... that being..."

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"Yumi and Valerie."

"ARE YOU FUCKING SUSPECTING ME AGAIN YOU CHICKEN SHIT?!" Yumi snapped. "Of course you'd try and throw me under the bus after I called out your ass!"

"A-Ah! She's angry again!" Bohai blubbered and hid behind his podium.

"What else is new?" Naohito rolled his eyes.

Valerie raised an eyebrow, looking disgusted by the accusation Akinari made. "Ignoring Yumi's conduct... what evidence could clue you in that we're possible suspects? Is this some futile attempt to get the attention off you?"

"Far from it," Akinari actually glared at Valerie briefly. He clutched his tie and breathed in deeply. He was determined to make his point. "Because my personal clue implicates both of you now that I have thought about it deeper."

"Woah... kooky guy's personal clue?" Miho clapped, "yayyyyyy! Let's hear it!"

"You're only just now deciding to share it?" Eddie grumbled as he glared at the Biochemist.

"I didn't believe it to be relevant until just now... but if it helps my student and I... then just listen to me," Akinari breathed, "my personal clue is that... the scissors Ayano has on her person... tell the whole story of this murder."

Everyone went silent at the revelation. The scissors told the whole story?

"U-Um... what?" Jiyuu paled more, covering her mouth in horror.

"Wait, the scissors?" Mateo blinked, "bro didn't we talk about that like an hour ago and then figured out it wasn't the murder weapon?"

"The scissors aren't the murder weapon," Akinari explained, "but rather the clue states... they tell the whole story of this murder. Meaning they play an important role in the case."

Kokoro herself blinked at this. That's when she thought back to the investigation itself...


After Louise had her annoying fun with me, I studied the body further but there wasn't anything else of note. The only thing I could check out was Ayano clutching scissors in her left hand. Akinari was observing this part of her.


"Oh... so that's why you were observing the item so intently," Kokoro nodded, "both the hammer and scissors weren't the murder weapon... but you still knew the scissors were important somehow."

Akinari nodded, "not only that... but if they tell the whole story of the murder, it gives me reason to believe Yumi is the culprit... because as we discussed where did the scissors physically come from?"

This time everyone was able to recall the earlier case.


"Nah, only one classroom had scissors," Eddie scoffed, taking charge quickly as he pulled out another equipment list, "the Math room was the only class with scissors in them. And… one pair was missing from some kids' desks."

"Ooooooh! Someone was missing something like me!?" Miho's eyes brightened up. "Whose desk was it?"

Eddie wasted no time as he glared at the kid in question. "The notebooks name reveals it came from Yumi's desk, so hey Yumi... you're up."


"We already fucking explained this!" Yumi snapped, "the scissors don't implicate me for shit because Ayano died with them in her death grip!"

"They actually implicate you for a lot," Akinari was not about to let this reasoning go, "for starters... those scissors being taken from your desk and ending up with the now deceased Ayano is bizarre. It's as if she was trying to use them to defend herself given the way she holds them like a weapon. Furthermore... your personal clue points out the location of the real murder weapon... which ended up where?"

Another memory was recalled.


"It ended up in the Art room trash can," Casey recalled, his eyes distant at the disgusting smell it had, "I guess the culprit wanted to throw it out since they couldn't wash it off in the sink somehow."


"We assumed the culprit threw it out because they couldn't wash off the blood," Akinari continued, "but notice how Yumi's personal clue said it was originally in the Science room. The fact it was moved between classrooms could only mean it was another instance of tampering with the crime scene... and who was the one person who was both in the Science room and Art room?"

Kokoro narrowed her eyes at the person in question. "...it was... Valerie."

Valerie's eyes twitched a little.

Mateo jumped, surprised by the turn of events as he gripped his jacket. "Are you saying... Yumi told Valerie her personal clue so she could tamper with the evidence for them?"

"Precisely!" Akinari emphasized his point with a stern finger. "Because recall that you could only tell your personal clue either during the trial or to your partners during the investigation! If the culprit is either Valerie or Yumi and we vote for one of them as the culprit... they both lose. They were likely working together. This is why Valerie went into the Science room... took out the rock... and then-"

- COUNTER -

"You're playing a DANGEROUS game here." Valerie's face turned dark as she swiftly shot down Akinari's words.


REBUTTAL SHOWDOWN

Valerie Vs. Akinari


Akinari blinked. To think he was being countered so effortlessly by Valerie!

Valerie: "You're suggesting all of these points as "physical evidence" and yet there is no foundation to stand on that implies I took anything from the Science room."

Valerie threw a clipboard with a clipboard that said "run five hundred laps!"

Akinari: "False! From what I heard, Yumi and you were in contact and she told you the murder weapon was in there... meaning you went there to attempt to find it in some way!"

Akinari dodged the clipboard and was spared from ruining his old legs!

Valerie: "I was indeed in the Science room looking for the murder weapon, but it was missing by the time I investigated. It's possible someone like Trace took the rock and moved it into the Art room instead after you two had an exchange of some kind."

Valerie prepared a strict lecture for Akinari to sit through.

Akinari: "Trace and I had no way to speak to one another as I was investigating the body and others can attest to him not conversing with me. Also... you were the only other teacher who briefly met up with their own pairing despite setting up the rule that we should split up from our pairs. Isn't that hypocritical?"

Akinari simply skipped the lecture!

Valerie: "How dare-!"

Akinari: "To further add to my point... while it's true that the detention times from earlier don't exempt me from guilt, it does put someone like Yumi on the chopping block since we don't even know what her detention time is!"

Akinari prepared to finish this experiment!

Akinari: "Paired with the scissors being taken from Yumi's desk, you possibly moving the murder weapon between crime scenes, and the fact the detention times mean Yumi could do the deed, I have to conclude that you were covering for her!"

...

Bullet(s): Scissors, Murder Weapon, Detention Time Table

- BREAK -

Akinari: "And that's another debate broken down!"


Akinari and Valerie were panting slightly after their heated debate... and all anyone could do was stare at them in shock.

Trace especially looked at Akinari in awe... to think he so bravely stood up to Valerie like that. No... not even just that. Akinari totally took over the trial for a brief moment. How could... Trace ever hope to live up to something like that?

Yumi meanwhile was fuming at what she saw as... a "poor effort" from her own teacher as she scoffed. "Are you fucking serious? You're spewing all that shit... but you're still suspect number one Akinari, don't forget that!"

"I won't shy away from being a suspect," Akinari nodded grimly, "all I simply did was point out more flawed individuals here who could more likely be the culprit than my student and I."

"So we have to figure out who is the most untrustworthy amongst these few?!" Tiago crossed his arms and firmly nodded. "Very well then! Let the debate get underway!"

"You don't have to sound... um... so excited about it," Jiyuu nervously sweated as she trembled.

But he was right... what side would people choose?

Akinari and Trace?

Or Valerie and Yumi...?

"Don't forget that Midas and Freyja are still suspects," Louise had to remind... if only to keep things clear.

"Oh come on!" Freyja huffed.

...there was also the choice of pursuing Midas and Freyja as suspects too.

So many options...

...

...

...

"It really comes down to who do we want to pursue more on the suspect list then," Yoshinobu shrugged. Despite the debate, he looked as if he was watching a tennis match more than a bunch of people fighting for their innocence.

But in reality... he was more so getting bored if anything. So many voices clamoring over different points. This trial was getting off track again.

Guess it was up to him to fix it.


MASS PANIC DEBATE

Yoshinobu


Freyja: "I'm serious, it's not me or Midas! Well actually... Midas is just guilty for existing, but honest to god I'm not at fault for that!"

Kokoro: "Even with that... you both have been very useless during this entire trial!"

Midas: "Oh really? Haha~! And how so?!"

Valerie: "You've been tampering with every single piece of evidence we've found to the point of costing us time in the investigation."

Midas: "Oh yeah... I did do that, didn't I? {Even with the murder weapon} itself, hehe..." [BULLET USED]

Naohito: "What in the world is this girl yapping about now?"

Eddie: "Who knows, I've tuned her out long ago."


Trace: "Mister Kaneko made good points... so why are we still being suspected?!"

Tiago: "While Akinari did make some valid points... that did nothing to actually disprove your suspicion! You still could've tampered with the board!"

Trace: "But Mister Kaneko and I had no time to tamper with the board! And we would never involve ourselves with messing with the crime scene like that!"

Louise: "It's not just that though, the missing lab coat in the Science room still could hint at one of you being the culprit as well. Simply switch out your old bloody robes with a new one and you won't be seen as suspicious."

Yumi: "Plus as I fucking said before... the only people who benefit from hiding their classroom from being the crime scene are you and Akinari! It's fucking open and shut!"

Akinari: "So we're still being suspected like this in the end."

Jiyuu: "How terrible... i-is this really how... it's going to be?"


Valerie: "And now we're being painted as the suspicious ones..."

Yumi: "What the fuck gives? I've basically carried you all in this damn trial!"

Mateo: "No offense but there's a difference between 'carrying' and then 'shouting at everyone like this is some sort of toxic game lobby' dude."

Adam: "Yeah that is true..."

Chuya: "Thinking about it some more... It is strange how Yumi's scissors ended up with Ayano. Is it possible was trying to defend herself with them?"

Yumi: "If she was she did a pretty shit job considering she wound up dead."

Chuya: "Oh dear... sweetie you shouldn't disrespect the dead like that..."

Valerie: "As for Ayano using the scissors... the fact that Akinari believes they tell the full story of the murder is strange. Just what story do they tell?"

...

Agreement Bullet: Midas tampering with Evidence

- BREAK -

Yoshinobu: "And that's another case closed."

Midas: "I'm honored you noticed me, my dear rival~!"


"All right... everyone needs to shut up for two seconds," Yoshinobu's deep voice managed to snuff out to silence the crowd despite his throat's wear and tear. He emphasized the silence with a slam of his cane as he studied the faces of everyone. "You're all focusing too much on who is the most suspicious when we haven't even uncovered the full story behind the investigation and murder."

"W-We haven't... solved everything?" Bohai gulped, "but we k-know about the room switch!"

"And the murder weapon!" Mateo spoke.

"And-!" Miho tried to speak.

"Stop. Just stop." Yoshinobu rubbed his forehead, "if I let you headless chickens keep squawking like this I'm going to get a migraine, and given my age I can't be having any of that."

"Hehe! A headless chicken can't squawk!" Miho giggled as she tried to imagine the picture in her head. It wasn't cute at all... but it was pretty funny to think about!

"Case in point," Yoshinobu sighed, "what we really need to establish now... is three things, why Ayano was in the Science room... why she had the scissors on her person... and why the hell Midas is putting such a stain on everything."

"I think we know the answer to that last one," Kokoro blinked as she glared at Midas nearby who just waved her fingers and stuck out a tongue.

"True... but it seems she tampered with a lot more than we gave her credit for," Yoshinobu nodded, "think back to what we just talked about. Akinari claims that Valerie was the one who stole the rock from the Science room. Now then, Valerie, mind telling the honest truth this time so we don't all get punished?"

Valerie glared over at Yoshinobu, her expression unreadable aside from the twitch in her eye. But with Yoshinobu's steady gaze, Valerie simply crossed her arms. "I'm not sure why you are suggesting I do such a thing when you have no evidence stating I took the rock.

"It's a shame that I actually do," Yoshinobu yawned as he pointed at the woman. "Show us your pockets. If you put that rock in there... I bet there's some white flecks that we can see as clear as day. Not just white actually… if it's the red rock… those flecks would be distractingly obvious on where they came from."

Valerie's face darkened as she put her hands near her dark green dress pants. It seemed to have two pockets that were barely visible. If she showed everyone her pockets now...

...

...

...

"Well..." Yoshinobu raised a brow, "you can show us the pockets... right?"

...

...

...

Valerie glared at Yoshinobu. Then at Yumi who seemed to smirk.

...

...

...

Valerie refused to show her pockets in the end.

And that was enough for everyone to stare at her with unease.

Kokoro glared at Valerie, "during the entire investigation you ordered us to not mess with anything... to stay clear of our partners! You broke both of those rules right away! Why in the world would we trust you to not have tampered with the rock? Why would you do that?!"

Valerie said nothing in response aside from simply glaring right back at Kokoro with a disgusted tone. "Do you wish to continue that sentence in such a tone?"

Kokoro faltered briefly at such a cold threat.

But Yoshinobu continued, "I would say Valerie you aren't exactly as honored to the rules as you say you are since I imagine... you assumed Yumi was the culprit... didn't you?"

Valerie glared over at Yumi and didn't say a word.

"Wait... what do you mean by that?" Chuya paled a little as she nervously looked over to Yoshinobu. "Are you saying that... Valerie was operating under the idea that Yumi was the culprit the entire investigation?"

"Finally someone catches on," Yoshinobu nodded with a faint grin, "what I imagine happened is that Valerie saw the body with the scissors... then went to the Math room and saw Yumi's desk missing its pair. She would suspect Yumi... to which Yumi being the hot head she was would tell Valerie her personal clue about the murder weapon. What would happen then is Valerie goes to the Science room... collect the red rock... and then go to the Art room."

"What was she planning to do in the Art room with the murder weapon?!" Tiago firmly ordered an explanation.

"Slow your roll... I'm getting to that," Yoshinobu sighed as if it was the most casual thing in the world, "she was probably going to dispose of it, perhaps to frame Midas and Freyja... that is until she ran into some trouble. Can you guess what that is?"

Yoshinobu's little guessing game was a little annoying to some people... especially Adam who was close to passing out from how stressful this trial has been. However... considering that he was being asked to actually think.

...he might as well try...


LUCKY GUESS

Adam


Adam was sitting in a classroom half asleep as a simple multiple choice test sheet was put in front of him. With his lucky #2 pencil that had a four leaf clover eraser, he erased the wrong answer and put in the right one.

What trouble did Valerie run into in the Art room?

A.) Midas

B.) Casey

C.) Herself

D.) Kokoro

- BREAK -

Adam: "...maybe I should close my eyes and randomly guess..."


"Midas... yeah?" Adam yawned. No one expected him to talk so it was quite a surprise to see him actually participate. "Of the three people in the Art room... Midas would be the most difficult for Valerie to keep up with."

"Aw~ I'm flattered~!" Midas giggled.

Adam scratched his head, "are you like... saying Midas was actually helping the rest of us with her evidence tampering or something?"

"Far from it, but her tampering did help us secure the murder weapon," Yoshinobu explained, waiting to see if anyone could pick up on his comment.

Casey was deep in thought before he brightened up and snapped his fingers. "Oh I get it! Midas stole the rock off of Valerie, didn't she?! That's how it ended up in the trash can in the Art room! All the tampering Midas was doing was to distract Valerie so that Midas could snatch the rock away from her!"


"W-WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" I actually screamed this time in shock as the bright red paint dripped all over the blue tarp. She was actually serious about messing with evidence?!

"I was aiming for you!" Midas grinned teasingly. "Red seems like your color… but I missed due to my poor aim! Whoops!"

"MIDAS!" Valerie looked actively enraged… even more so then when she usually dealt with Yumi.

"That's my cue to bolt! Ahaha! And the Supreme Villain strikes again!" Midas ran so fast an after image of her silhouette was left behind as Valerie gave chase.


"A-Are you saying that Valerie accused Midas in the trial and gave chase back then because... of that incident?" Jiyuu asked in shock.

"Seems like it, dang," Mateo had to hand it to the Supreme Villain. She might've been a pain in the butt... but at least she put some form of effort in.

Kokoro squinted her eyes in pain. It seemed like... Yoshinobu was right after all.


"Are you kidding me?" Kokoro glared over at Yoshinobu who started the 'no vote' train, "Midas and Freyja have been nothing but pests during the investigation and you're going to let them go scot-free because you… what… think they aren't the culprit?"

"I don't think, I know." Yoshinobu instantly spoke. "But we won't get anywhere if we randomly accuse each other... so I'm offering you a second chance to think it over... more importantly... a chance to actually look at what Midas tampered with. You might realize she helped you more than you thought..."


It didn't disprove Midas couldn't have been the culprit, but it did seem she helped more than she meddled... a fact that made Valerie say nothing in response as she gripped her suit jacket.

"I had no idea what Valerie was planning, but that's hilarious!" Midas grinned as she slapped her knee, "to think I unintentionally destroyed Valerie's plan right before her very eyes!"

Freyja giggled as well, though it seemed for a different reason as she pointed an umbrella at Midas. "You do realize though that means... you were an unintentional hero in this story as well, right?"

"That's true!" Chuya beamed as she gave a loving smile to Midas. "If you didn't swipe that rock, Valerie would've likely disposed of it far more discreetly than you did and we would've been lost for sure!"

...

...

...

"E-EYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA?!" Midas looked genuinely distressed at that as she clutched her mask and pressed it painfully against her eyes. "I've failed in my role as a villain! Woe is me! WOE IS MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" With that the poor villain fell onto her podium as her staff did a flip in the air and clattered on her face.

...

But ignoring that breakdown, everyone glared at Valerie and Yumi, specifically Valerie since the older woman was the main topic of discussion. She was strictly glaring at Yoshinobu. "I don't see how this was relevant to reveal to the group. I simply partook in the investigation like everyone else."

"Are you kidding?!" Naohito snapped, "you were trying to cover for Yumi and mess with the crime scene."

"...if Yumi is the culprit," Valerie started, "I would've naturally been on the chopping block for a disadvantage. To survive in this world, sometimes you have to make the hard choices others couldn't fathom to make."

"You would've led us all to the wrong vote..." Ayame glanced at the floor. She thought back to when Valerie tried to stick up for the group when the death game was revealed. Ayame sighed. This is why she couldn't count on any of the Supremes in this room.

"So it seems my suspicion had some merit to it in the end," Akinari was relieved there was some logical speculation now , "but if Valerie was tampering with the murder weapon... would that mean that Yumi is the culprit?"

"Oh yeah!" Miho grinned, "she doesn't have any time on the detention board! So Yumi definitely could've done it!"

Yumi glared at those continuing to suspect her as she scoffed. "Sure, keep suspecting me... but there's no way in hell I'm the culprit of this case!"

Trace winced and rubbed his arm. To think this girl started this by accusing them, but now the tables were turning on her. "How could you... just not care that we exposed Ms. Ortiz's scheme! If you're not the culprit... why did you make her think you were?"

"..." Yumi listened quietly as she glared to the ground.

"Trace makes a good point dear..." Chuya spoke quietly as she reached out to Yumi's direction, "can't you tell us why you made Valerie believe you were the culprit? It doesn't seem to benefit you if... you were actively tricking an adult who was trying to save you-"

"Save me...?"

...

...

"You think... that bitch did all that tampering to save me...?"

...

"Ha... Hahaha... HAHAHA!"

Yumi let out a bloated laugh of disgust and anger that froze Chuya to the core with how familiar it sounded. Not just Chuya... everyone stiffened at least a little at how full of actual hatred gargled out of Yumi's throat as she spit out her next few words.

It was a gargled, cruel laugh... of despair.

"That bitch was only looking out for herself this whole trial!" Yumi laughed, her frazzled red hair growing messier as she clutched it, "I knew from the moment I was paired with her she'd be an annoying pain in my ass. So I just figured I might as well test her... give her a little push to show her true colors early so everyone knows who this fucker really is… which is an irritated old hag who clearly wants to keep everyone in line with an iron fist!"

Valerie's eyes snapped over to Yumi with a look that almost screamed murder, "excuse me? You think pretending you're the culprit was some test for me?! I only did all that because you... you-!"

"You only did that to survive," Yumi rolled her eyes as she gave Valerie a thumbs down, "you couldn't give a fuck about anyone else receiving the punishment as long as it meant you weren't the one being punished. Despite being an adult... you were so quick to suspect me... your own student."

"And you wonder WHY I do," Valerie snapped, "you have been the most disobedient... disgusting... downright pathetic child I've ever come across. To trick me into thinking you're the culprit... to have me tamper with the scene of the crime-!"

"That was all on you bitch," Yumi didn't even bother to glance at Valerie, "you chose to tamper with shit... I simply did my part of the investigation. It ain't on me that you were two-faced and messing with shit behind the scenes. So... are you happy now...? Knowing that after this point everyone's gonna see you as two-faced for pretending to work with the group... before betraying everyone to win this trial?"

"You... You can't blame Valerie for that!" Trace tensed up as he tried to help the woman, "you basically were pulling the strings to make it seem like you were the culprit in her eyes! You forced her hand!"

"And yet she showed in the end she did all that to save her own hide, not that I'm surprised," Yumi continued, "Supremes are always like that, always looking out for themselves. It's a lesson you all should learn soon enough..."

"W-We're not all like that you know!" Bohai sweat nervously, but he was shut up with a deadly look from Yumi.

"Nah... all of the GHA is like that... only looking out for number one..." Yumi scowled as she flipped off the trial room, "and that's how I intend to play this game too. I'm going to see all of your true colors soon enough... and soon it'll be pretty easy for me to make it through this fuck fest unscathed."

The bloated confidence... the toxic laugh... everyone stared in disbelief at Yumi and her crazy ramblings. To think she led Valerie on to think she was the culprit... to think she was saying all this so easily.

Above all else, Kokoro looked at this mad girl with an irritated frown... she just couldn't wrap her head around it...

Just what was Yumi's deal... really?

...and why did Kokoro see her being the biggest problem in this game?


ACT 4


"As much as Yumi pulling something like this is a shock... said no one ever..." Freyja shrugged, "we still have to figure out who the actual killer is, yeah?"

"I mean, it seems most likely to be Yumi now, right?" Adam sighed. On one hand he suggested the idea both out of eagerness to vote her out... and also because he could see it most likely being her. "Now only are the scissors from her desk with Ayano... but she could've had the time to do it according to the detention chart."

Chuya bit her lip and glanced at a fuming Yumi before shaking her head, "I um... I would agree with you there but, someone erased Yumi's time on the board. Wouldn't that suggest someone is trying to set her up... or frame her?"

"There's no way we can confirm what was originally written," Tiago replied with a look of disgust, "and it seems to me that Yumi so far has the most reason to be voted out!"

"But we still have other suspects in Akinari and Midas, right?" Casey narrowed his eyes. "Can we really just end it here?"

Ayame also couldn't see the trial ending here, but given the clock was slowly ticking down... they really didn't have much of a choice but to proceed with the vote, right?

...

"Nah, there is a way to find the correct times on the board for the students," Yoshinobu sighed with a faint yawn.

"R-Really...?!" Jiyuu stammered in shock. Was there seriously a way to find out the proper times?

"Yep... with these," Yoshinobu casually pulled out some extra evidence.

Detention Slips Handed Out (please confirm these faces arrive in Homeroom with the sign in sheet)

Miho x6

Yumi x6

Naohito x2

Freyja x4

Trace x6

"The detention slips?" Louise narrowed her eyes at the slips and looked them over carefully, "this is only to confirm which faces had to show up to detention. How does this establish the time?"

Kokoro tried to think hard about what the slips could mean. What was Yoshinobu trying to tell them by showing this? Given the bored look in the detective's eye... it seemed he already figured it out.

Ayame was similarly looking it over as she furrowed a brow and rubbed her cheek.

She knew this... she could figure this out.

She just needed some time.


SHOGI WIN IN RECORD TIME

Ayame


Ayame sat in a tournament hall as she stared at a faceless opponent in front of her. She had to win this fast... she couldn't afford to be careless.

What do the detention slips showcase?

The detention person's name and the number of slips they have.

What should be focused on?

The number of slips a detention person has.

What does the number of detention slips relate to?

The detention board times in Homeroom... meaning...

...

Bullet: Detention Slips and Detention Time Table

- BREAK -

Ayame: "A flawless victory."


Ayame nodded quickly. "I understand. The number of slips don't signify how many slips each person has gotten... instead it signifies the TIME they need to show up."

...

Detention Slips Handed Out (please confirm these faces arrive in Homeroom with the sign in sheet)

Miho x6 (TIMES SIX)

Yumi x6 (TIMES SIX)

Naohito x2 (TIMES TWO)

Freyja x4 (TIMES FOUR)

Trace x6 (TIMES SIX)

(DETENTION SIGN IN - Please put the time you clocked in)

Mi-ho A-Ka-Tsu-ki~ (Miho x6 (TIMES SIX)

Yumi (erased) (Yumi x6 (TIMES SIX)

japaKAnon (FOLLOW ME) (four eighteen) (Freyja x4 (TIMES FOUR)

Trace! (around 6 I think? :0) (Trace x6 (TIMES SIX)

Naohito Urabe (sometime at 4) (Naohito x2 (TIMES TWO)

...

Kokoro's eyes widened once she noticed the pattern Ayame called out. "I see, the slips match up most of the detention times on the board. Which means if we follow what the pattern of the slips say... the real times are presented!"

"S-So see!? I was telling the truth!" Trace let out a huge sigh of relief as he wiped the sweat off his forehead, "if the detention slip says I had to be there at 6... and I signed in at 6:00 pm, then I couldn't have been involved in Ayano's murder!"

"Same here!" Miho giggled, she was very happy to be off the suspect list... even though her name never came up as a suspect yet!

"As for me as well," Yumi smirked, and it seemed that was the only real evidence that mattered since her time was originally erased, "it makes so much fucking sense now. Someone tried to frame me because my time would've exempted me from the suspect list. What a joke."

Some glared at Yumi. It was a little frustrating to know someone so antagonistic wouldn't have had time for the murder...

"You're still not out of the woods yet..." Mateo sighed, "I mean looking at the teacher's times, it's still possible any of your partners could've done the crime."

Valerie scoffed and glared at the group.

Akinari sighed... at least his student was confirmed innocent, right?

"That is true, we still should be observant of any other oddities we see from here on out!" Chuya encouraged, hoping to ease the tension.

Louise stared at the board before her eyes lit up, "actually, speaking of oddities... why is it that Naohito has a different time from his assigned slip? He was supposed to show up to detention at 2:00... but then signed in at 4:00. Is it possible... he tampered with the board?"

Naohito narrowed his eyes, looking pissed that his own stuff was tampered with, "I have no freaking clue why it's like that! Someone else has gotta be doing some stuff behind the scenes!"

"But... for them to tamper with your time by making it closer to the murder instead of later," Kokoro narrowed her eyes, "why would they do that?"

"Maybe he was doing some sneaky jailbreak stuff!" Miho giggled, "as a trouble maker he probably wanted to break the rules and not go to detention! YAYYY rebel Naohito! You're so cool!"

"Why the heck are you saying stuff like that about me?!" Naohito's body stiffened as he crossed his arms around his broad chest, "just leave me out of whatever this tampering stuff is!"

"I think we can answer that if we figure out another strange oddity in Homeroom," Yoshinobu shook his head. "Specifically a mailing box that likely kickstarted this whole murder."

"W-WHAT?!" Bohai blubbered out a scream, even though he had no idea what he was screaming about.

"The mailing box in Homeroom?" Mateo looked somewhat lost as he scratched his head. "Okay I'm gonna pull a Bohai real quick and just say… I was guarding the body the entire time. What do you mean that there are mailing boxes…?"

"This." Adam pulled out a small sheet of some kind for evidence which he read out. "There's mailing boxes in all nine classrooms. It's set up in a wall so someone could open it outside the classroom, dump some mail, and then someone inside the classroom can open it up. There's a light above the mailing box indicating if it's empty which is... blue. If there's mail inside… red. And if mail has been collected… green."

"Did you copy and paste that message from your last explanation?" Freyja blinked, staring at Adam in shock.

"Cut me some slack… I'm tired here," Adam sighed and passed the instruction manual down the row until it made it to Mateo so he could read it.

Mateo tried his best to focus on the words as he gripped the instruction manual. "Oh snap… so the mailing system is only accepting either official documents or… some kinda purple paper from the History classroom?"

"It means this type of paper," Kokoro pulled out the notepad she swiped from the History classroom, showcasing it for everyone. "The mailing box won't register anything if it's something else besides this paper or an official document. Which means that any of the boxes that are lit green had something in them at one point."

"And you're saying something was in Homeroom before?" Mateo continued, "wait then... what was in the other rooms?"

"To figure that out… oh!" Chuya clapped her hands excitedly together, "let's work together to remember what was in each classroom's mailing box! That might help us piece together why it was important to the murder!"


CARETAKER'S CHART

Chuya


History: (Instruction Manual) (Green Light)

Physical Education: (Blue Light)

Science: (Blue Light)

Math: (Maimi Yuuki Documents) (Green Light)

Art: (Blue Light)

Social Studies: (Blue Light)

Biology: (Blue Light)

Business: (Ayano Minami Documents) (Green Light)

Homeroom: Despite asking for everyone's inputs… no one knew what was in the mailing box for this room. (Green Light)

- BREAK -

Chuya: "I hope this is helpful to you!"


Everyone glanced at Chuya's chart… it seemed everything was accounted for except…

"What happened to whatever files were in Homeroom?" Trace blinked, "if the light is green… that means something got taken out right?"

"Yes... that's true..." Jiyuu looked nervous as she gripped her shoulders. She had started to get even more nervous at the idea people were poking around in the classroom she woke up in.

"Not only did something get taken out... but only teachers are allowed to open the Homeroom mailing box," Kokoro revealed as she folded her arms, meaning that during the investigation... it absolutely was one of the adults who saw the contents of the Homeroom mailing box and took it out."

"So only a teacher had the chance to take that shit out." Eddie grunted and gave a nod, "and whatever that shit was apparently kickstarted this whole murder according to the Supreme Detective or whatever."

"But as for what it was... no one knows," Louise put her sharp pipe toward her chin. Just what was in that box?

Everyone gave it some serious thoughts… before of all people… Adam suddenly had a brain blast.

The torn up page…

"...do you guys think it's that purple paper?" Adam suddenly questioned as he pointed at the purple notepad Kokoro held up. "That's like… the only other thing that could've been put in the mailing box to make it light up."

Kokoro blinked at the statement before realizing what Adam said was right. The thought that he actually was… somewhat surprising as she stammered and fixed her tie.

"Adam might be right." Kokoro winced. No, not 'might' be, Adam cleared this case with ease. "The purple notepad I found in history has a page torn out. This torn out page could be what was put inside the mailing box for homeroom since it would register and cause the light to glow."

"Do you think something was written on it?" Casey let his fingers run through his metallic looking hair as he blinked.

"Why else would someone mail the purple note?" Kokoro deadpanned, "Imagine sending a blank note..."

"Shoot, m-my bad." Casey blurted out a laugh. He should've realized it was a written note since he got so many fan notes himself all the time. "So where is this note now?"

"Burned up…" Naohito bitterly noted as his foot tapped against the podium. "I noticed too late. I was coming out of Homeroom and noticed someone hurrying out of Biology. When I checked… the note was on fire in the trash can."

"And if that's the case… it was important evidence," Akinari nodded, realizing the chain of events as he was still a little stressed to try and clear his own name "Whatever was on that note implicated something or someone here… and like Yoshinobu said… possibly even kick started the murder. So the note had to go."

"But with the note gone… we won't know what was on it... since the note was burned…" Jiyuu painfully looked down as she teared up. One of the biggest pieces of evidence was gone from the group's grasp. "Does… anyone even have any i-ideas?"

Jiyuu assumed not since no one spoke up… but… suddenly… Yoshinobu actually laughed. Like… a full on coughing fit from the cigarette he lit as he doubled over.

"A-Are you okay?" Bohai whimpered, fearing for the old man's health.

"You should really cut down on that stuff, smoke this instead…" Louise pointed out as she prepared a more medically strange cigarette on the fly. She also didn't seem to notice how hypocritical it was for her to say that when she herself was smoking. Well… it was medical stuff in there.

Either way Yoshinobu wiped a single tear as he gestured at Kokoro, "damn, I guess I'm gonna have to do this. That's hilarious… me using such a rookie trick. Kokoro-chan, notepad. Freyja, pencil."

The order from the man ticked Kokoro off, but she passed the notepad all the way over to Yoshinobu who couldn't stop chuckling. Freyja looked intrigued at whatever the detective would do with the pencil.

Yoshinobu tilted his head and smirked as he started to scribble lightly on the notepad. Then like magic… words appeared. "If our culprit realized this sooner, they'd get rid of the entire notepad rather than just the one page… but since they didn't… I get to have some fun with the classics…"

Yoshinobu turned the paper around to reveal… the imprinted note. When he shaded the area, it revealed the contents for everyone to see.

Hey, it's Ayano, I have to talk to you about something.

I know the trials we've suffered have been hard… but this is really important for me to talk to you about. You're the only person I trust here and… I really need a friend right now.

Please meet me later in the Science room at 6:00. We'll talk here.

"T-That's-!" Naohito's eyes widened in shock, his foot tapping ending abruptly.

"A-Ah!" Jiyuu hugged herself as she winced in pain.

"A-Ayano wrote this?!" Kokoro gasped.

Other surprised sounds rang out around the trial room.

"That's the whole shebang, a note from Ayano herself asking to meet in the Science room," Yoshinobu passed it around and leaned on his cane, appearing unbothered by the reveal, "since the note was ripped from atop the notepad, the imprint of her writing left this little gift for us to find."

"So… Ayano wrote this and sent it to a friend in Homeroom," Ayame gave it some serious thought as she glanced at the note. "This means… a lot of things."

"L-Like what?" Bohai shivered.

...

...

...

"For starters... it explains why she had the scissors..." Eddie darkened.


GAMBLERS BET

Eddie


The Viridescent Eye was sparkling with games, shouts, and jewels as Eddie stood running his own table. With a roll of the dice, he flung them to the center... and both dice landed on the six sided surface... revealing six clues.

1. Ayano wrote the purple note to bring someone to the Science room, apparently a friend.

2. There was a clear struggle in the Science room.

3. Ayano had bloody fingernails... as if clawing her attacker.

4. Ayano had a death grip of Yumi's scissors in her hand.

5. Ayano went to the Science room first before the culprit if the note suggested anything.

6. Ayano Minami ended up as the victim... but...

...

...

...

Bullet: Ayano Minami... Victim?

- BREAK -

Eddie: "...beg for mercy, you've been outdone in my empire."


"There's... no w-way..." Chuya's throat hitched and almost broke as she covered her face, her eyes shrinking in what seemed to be shock.

"Eddie... dude are you saying?" Mateo gripped his podium. He had trouble trying to follow along with all these intense voices but... this one really took the cake.

Even Kokoro looked surprised by the turn of events. But... all to quickly she realized how many things fell into place.

"You understand, don't you kid?" Eddie said as he glared at Kokoro.

And she did... she really did.

The note...

The struggle in the science room...

The bloody fingernails...

...

...

...

"Ayano Minami wasn't a victim in this case... she was planning the culprit's murder!"

Eddie's revelation sent a cold chill in the group. Bohai squeaked and hugged himself. Tiago squeezed his stress ball impossibly hard as he cringed at the reveal. Jiyuu's eyes darkened as she covered her mouth with frigid fingers.

"Woah woah woah hold the phone! She was the attacker-?!" Mateo stopped then and clenched his fist. Why was he surprised by this? Given some things about the case... this crazy crap made sense now.

"That's right," Eddie grumbled, "I always thought it was strange. How did the scissors fit into all of this? They came from the Math room and ended up in Ayano's hand. There's no logical explanation for Ayano using those scissors unless it was for self defense..."

"However..." Eddie continued, "Akinari's clue earlier said the scissors tell the whole story of the murder... which made no sense back then until you realize the subtext behind Ayano even having them. Remember, Ayano having scissors implies she either defended herself... or she got the scissors earlier and attacked our culprit. But given the note and time they were told to meet. It seemed Ayano was planning to kill our culprit later in that room."

"N-No... way... this is..." Trace breathlessly laughed. "To think they'd go so far for... a whole fake murder you know?"

...but in the back of everyone's mind... the earlier evidence with the documents confirmed... this was all too real.

"Why... Why...?" Jiyuu gripped her finger nails as she glanced down shamefully.

"Why would she do that?" Eddie repeated, "I dunno, the motive's unknown. But it seems Ayano lured the culprit with the context that they were friends. And the note also explains they went through past trials."

"Past trials…?" Casey realized what was being said and grimaced, "oh… I get it then. So that's a bit more evidence to the killing game theory from before."

"It's looking more and more true by the second!" Freyja still looked quite pleased at this turn of events as she tapped her chin, "butttttt… if it's true that this whole murder is real... and it revolves around another killing game… that opens up a LOT of other theories. Like who ran it! Why did the GHA cover it up! Could clones exist of these-"

"Okay that's enough energy out of you today!" Tiago snapped, "I suppose we'll have to wait and see… but for now we must continue on with the case with this knowledge!"

"So, now we think Ayano tried to kill someone with the scissors and lured them with the note," Casey tried to remain calm as he clutched his jacket, "so... what does this mean?"

"The struggle we see in the room is our culprit killing Ayano in self defense," Valerie finally stepped back into the trial. She still looked mad at Yumi from before but decided to step up and contribute, at least since she figured she was in the clear now. "We also know the culprit and Ayano met around 6... perhaps earlier or later. But one thing is clear now..."

"What's that?" Freyja chirped a little as she leaned forward.

"Everyone in the detention room that was there from 6:00 to 7:00 is innocent," Valerie nodded, "Trace... Miho... Yumi... Tiago... and myself."

"Wow... real smooth putting yourself on there," Adam noted as he shrugged, "but I guess that's true, it couldn't be them since that's when the crime and clean up was happening."

"Wowie! So that's why the culprit burned the note!" Miho clapped as if she was watching a cartoon show, "they knew it would absolve a tonnnnn of people from the suspect list! So, they decided to burn it so we wouldn't find out the truth!"

"Close... but there was another reason as well," Yoshinobu folded his arms and leaned a little on his case for support as he prepared to give his next bombshell, "notice the circumstances around the note. Why else would the culprit want to burn this aside from adding more names for the suspect list?"

"Oh! Hold up! I got this!" Mateo began to stretch and pump himself up. He was confident in his ability to answer and help the squad this time.

Although he took a bit of a backseat, it was time to show everyone what he was made of!


DAREDEVIL'S CLIMB

Mateo


Mateo was confronted with a huge mountain filled with dynamites planted by Louise... each one more deadly than the last. He gave a thumbs up to the camera crew behind him and then embarked on the challenge with a grin as he disregarded his climbing gear and scaled up the imposing structures

CLIMB START!

1. Alright, so we know the note was burned up cause it basically implicates the culprit somehow!

Mateo jumped and ignored the sound of an explosion behind him.

CLEAR

2. The culprit went to the Science room at 6:00 or near that time... so that clears a bunch of suspects who weren't free at that time.

Mateo narrowly avoided some rocks falling on his head. Maybe he should've at least brought the helmet...

CLEAR

3. But now we gotta ask if that's the only reason the culprit did it? Well nah, of course not!

Mateo did a stylish jump and dodged another explosion going off.

CLEAR

4. Because... the fact that the note was placed in the Homeroom mailing box tells me everything!

Mateo could see the light glimmering at the top of the mountain!

CLEAR

5. The Homeroom mailing box could only be opened by a teacher... so the only suspects in this case are... the teachers!

- BREAK -

Mateo: "A new milestone by MadMateo! LETS GOOOO!"


"Dude... are you pretending you're recording a video?" Adam blinked.

Mateo coughed onto his sleeve and waved Adam's words away, "what? Psh! No of course not! A-Anyway, the reason the note was burned up was because it would implicate anyone of the teachers, yeah?"

Yoshinobu gave a satisfied nod. "Exactly, since none of the students can even receive the note and open the box... it seems the note is addressed to the adults on detention duty."

"So that means... we don't have to suspect the children anymore?" Chuya looked relieved as she clasped her hands together.

"Excellent," Akinari gave a sigh of relief that no one could even consider Trace a suspect anymore, "this means then we've narrowed down the suspects to only twelve adults."

"Hold on, you're being to hasty!" Kokoro suddenly stood up with a strict look, "while it's true none of the kids could get the note and do the killing... whoever their assigned adult is would still mean they would work together to try and hide the murder, yes?"

"True," Eddie grumbled, "don't let the kids off the hook just yet. They might've not done the killing, but they could've tampered with stuff to help their teacher or whatever."

"Does that mean I'm absolved of guilt?" Freyja perked her head with a smirk, "because Midas is a teacher and she's been doing all the tampering. I've just been a sweet little angel this whole time!"

"You're FAR from an angel!" Kokoro scoffed.

"No but yeah... it's true that Midas and Freyja aren't the culprits at all," Yoshinobu sighed.

"Uh... how does this absolve them of guilt?" Adam blinked lazily. Despite all the talk it was sort of blending together for him into an intangible mush. "If someone burned the note... I mean... Midas has been doing nothing but destroying evidence right?"

Yoshinobu gave a stern look to Adam. That look was all Adam needed to see he was on the wrong train of thought... and that just made Adam annoyed and cave in under his hoodie.

"Oh, now I understand," Akinari gave a nod as he fixed his tie confidently, "Midas had no chance to even obtain the note to go to the Science room. Since Midas was never offered the position of overseeing detention, that means she couldn't ever get the chance to read the note and meet up with Ayano."

"Bingo!" Midas grinned as she leaned back with her hands behind her head, "hehe man does it feel good to be off the suspect list at last! I had a great time toying with you all!"

"Oh screw you," Naohito rolled his eyes, "it still is possible that is you maybe... I mean you could've been the one to burn the note for shits and giggles."

But at that moment, Kokoro widened her eyes in realization. Now it was her turn to have a brain blast moment. As much as it was annoying to confess… "no… it's true, Midas can't be the one who burned the note."

Kokoro looked over at Miho who had been playing with her backpack. "Miho, you said you were handing lighters out to people right? Who were those people?"

"Huhhhhhhhh? Oh!" Miho giggled and bounced on her toes as she tapped on her horns playfully. Finally she was getting to participate! "I remember now! I gave it to an old guy and prison boyyyyy!"

"There are… multiple old men here," Tiago groaned as he squeezed his stress ball even more.

"But that proves she didn't give it to Midas!" Chuya clapped, "since she only gave lighters out to two men, Midas nor Freyja could burn that purple note!"

"That means any pairing with two girls is off the table to burn the note," Kokoro nodded, "which would also include Yumi and Valerie."

It seemed at long last, through some roundabout way, Midas, Freyja, Valerie, and Yumi had been proven innocent. Valerie said nothing and gave a cold nod, still a little upset about her tampering acts being revealed earlier. Yumi grinned at having no chance to be voted on. Midas only let out a snort as she slapped her knee, while Freyja simply rubbed her face in utter relief… or perhaps exhaustion… or perhaps she was rubbing it for fun and making funny faces.

Yumi grinned and stared down her two top suspects. "Now that all the ladies are out of the hot seat... it definitely proves... at least with those nicknames... Trace and Akinari are still in deep shit!"

"W-What?" Trace was looking a little disturbed by the fact people were still staring at him accusingly. "But didn't we go over the fact that I-I can't be the culprit because-"

"You might not be the culprit," Yumi interrupted as she glared at Trace, "but Akinari is by far the most guilty one out of you two! Not only does he have an early detention time... is old as fuck so the lighter could've been given to him... and wears a lab coat like Eddie's personal clue says... but no one has still gone over the evidence that you both WOKE up in Ayano's damn scene of death!"

"Listen I'm telling you, it can't be him!" Trace actually was looking a little scared as he pushed back his messy brown hair, "he was watching the body so he couldn't have burned the-"

"Simple, he gave you the lighter to burn the note!" Yumi instantly accused, "we talked about the burnt note, talked about Ayano being a fucking killer. We've talked and talked and talked... and now it's time for action! The only ones who make sense for Miho to give the lighter to... is definitely one of YOU!"

"But the p-punishment-?!" Trace stammered, his pink eyes heavy. Why was he being looked at like this? This feeling of... inadequacy... no... no not again...

"Trace, let me handle this." Akinari suddenly said as he boldly took the front lines. He had to somehow prove to Yumi and everyone he wasn't the one who burned the note... he wasn't-

"You're wrong Yumi. Mr. Kaneko or Trace aren't the ones that were given the lighter to burn the note."

It was Kokoro who managed to stare Yumi down.

"Kokoro?" Akinari blinked at this girl suddenly standing up for him. Or rather, not standing up for him...

...since it was clear from Kokoro's composed glare she was staring Yumi down... wanting to face her off personally.

"The hell? Why are you sticking up for them?" Yumi scoffed. She couldn't believe the whiny school president wannabe had the gall to challenge her!

"Because despite all the things you've said in this trial... you're so utterly wrong in this case," Kokoro gave a faint smirk, as if reveling in challenging the chaotic Yumi, "so I'm here to tell you that your party games of being a nuisance are over. I'll shut down your entire case right now!"

"You wanna fucking go bitch?! Fine then!" Yumi snapped and slammed a hand to the podium, "I told you I'd burn your fucking world to the ground! You wanna test me?"

"...the world I'll create will surpass your deranged mind!" Kokoro shouted.


REBUTTAL SHOWDOWN

Kokoro Vs. Yumi


Yumi: "It's as I said… Akinari got the lighter as the old fuck and made Trace burn the note. It's fucking simple! He burned the note to hide it took place in THEIR classroom, the Science room!"

Yumi threw a punch at Kokoro

Kokoro: "No, the evidence that Mr. Kaneko and Trace wanted to hide that it took place in "their" classroom isn't applicable anymore since the Culprit could've also burned the note to hide the fact they showed up in the Science room and met with Ayano. That means it could be anyone of the teachers... not just Mr. Kaneko."

Yumi: "Tch, so? It doesn't change the fact that obviously Akinari got the lighter from-"

Kokoro: "See you're also wrong there as Mr. Kaneko isn't the "old guy" Miho was referring to. Rather… she was referring to Yoshinobu! (she made sure to leave out the suffix as she glared at Yoshinobu). Yoshinobu didn't have a lighter originally before the announcement… but afterward he did!"

Kokoro managed to shield herself with the masses opinions

Yumi: "Y-You!? Fine then… she gave Trace the lighter as "prison boy" as a nickname for some stupid fucking reason and then Trace burned it to hide his teacher's involvement!"

Yumi threw another punch at Kokoro

Kokoro: "But Trace never would've had the time to burn the note even if he was given a lighter, because when Naohito claimed someone was hurrying out of the Biology room… Trace had been in the Science room for an extended period of time! He physically wouldn't have had the time to burn the note!

Kokoro forced Yumi back with the power of logic!

Yumi: "F-Fuck! Well there's still the inconsistencies in the detention time tables! Notice how Akinari has his time at 1:00 to 2:00 pm. That gives him the chance to get the note and meet up with Ayano's dumbass later!"

Yumi prepared to lunge at Kokoro and sock her square in the jaw!

Kokoro: "There's two other inconsistencies on Naohito and Yoshinobu's end! Yoshinobu doesn't even show up on the detention time table board... while Naohito has his time wrong from the detention slip! This seems way more suspicious then Mr. Kaneko's unaffected time!"

Kokoro managed to hide behind her podium before Yumi could hit her!

Yumi: Then… Then…" (Yumi tried to think of something to say.)

Kokoro: "The truth is… Miho gave the lighter to two people… one being Yoshinobu… and the other being "prison boy". And one of those two undoubtedly is the one who burned the note! And your theory that it's either Mr. Kaneko or Trace is wrong!"

- BREAK -

Kokoro: "You don't have a place in the world I'll create!"


Yumi stared demonically at Kokoro. Yumi... couldn't lose... she had done so much in her life... she would win this trial, she'd be the one to win this game.

But this kid... this supposed ultimate!

"D-Damnit!" To be talked down to like this! Yumi gripped her face, fingers mashing against her soft skin as her eyes ripped open. "D-DAMNITTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!"

As much as Yumi wanted to break apart her podium... even she knew... she had lost this one battle.

And she would NEVER forgive Kokoro for that.

...

Trace sighed in relief... the fact that someone else went up to bat for them made him at least a little glad. He looked over at his teacher and gave a reassuring smile. "Guess we managed to garner some trust from the others right?"

Akinari however gave a steady look at Kokoro and nodded, "hm... I suppose we have."

And even despite what he said to her earlier... she still was speaking of creating a new world.

...

Meanwhile... Eddie watched the fight die down as he glanced over at Kokoro.

...interesting.

...

As for Kokoro, she sighed and barely paid Yumi's breakdown a glance as she glared at the main person on her suspect list. "With all of that out of the way, we can finally turn our attention onto who really matters in this case."

"A-And whose that?" Jiyuu had been growing more antsy as the case went on, her eyes staring at the chaos around her.

"Simple. It's Miho." Kokoro stared the small girl down as she perked her head.

Miho raised her hand in the air. "Present!"

"W-We're not doing attendance!" Bohai sweat. "A-And wait... how is Miho the most i-important?"

"I think I got it," Mateo muttered as he rubbed his chin, a little frazzled but impressed by the insane match up he witnessed earlier, "it's cause the lighters to burn the note came from her, right Kokonuts?"

"U-Ugh, yes!" Kokoro rolled her eyes at the nickname and pointed at the girl, "she gave it to two people and one of themburned the note!"

"Um... if I can ask a question," Casey butted in with a nervous look, "wouldn't another suspect too burn the note be Miho herself? No shade or anything but... she doesn't exactly seem to be that unwilling to do stuff like that."

"While your suspicion is well founded I was with her most of the time!" Chuya chirped as she clapped her hands, "even when there were brief moments when I was investigating... I can assure you she only ever was near me and nowhere near the Biology room to burn the note."

"Ah, okay then," Casey sighed, "just wanted to make sure."

Miho giggled. "I'm so sad... I wish I was the one who got to make the page go all flicker flicker FLAMEEEE!"

"U-Um... maybe don't count her out just yet," Trace nervously laughed, "but back to the discussion... if the only other people who burned the note were 'old guy' and 'prison boy'... who exactly could those two people be? Doesn't seem like any legal name I've ever heard before... haha."

"Why don't we just ask her who it was she gave it to?" Adam sighed. It seemed like the most obvious solution.

"Nuh-uh!" Miho suddenly said with a giddy look, "I'm not supposed to say!"

"...what?" Adam blinked.

"You realize we'll be punished if you don't, right?" Casey briefly flickered an uneasy eye at Miho as he crossed his arms, "why wouldn't you tell us?"

Miho thought about it for a moment before flashing a sharp grin, "I was told I'd get to do a cute makeover on someone after this! So I wanna hold out my promise to them that I can cause they SOOOOO need it!"

"T-T-That's it?!" Bohai whimpered. He had no idea how such an innocent looking kid would let them all be punished for a chance at a makeover?!

Kokoro rolled her eyes at Miho's lack of care and stared at Yoshinobu, "well then, it can only really come down to one person then. My best guess is... Yoshinobu is the only confirmed person with a lighter so far. Meaning… he has to be 'old guy'."

But Yoshinobu gave Kokoro some time to stew before he lowered his head to block out his eyes. "So that's your final answer? A shame, you were doing so well back there to…"

Kokoro blinked. "What in the world are you-?!"

"It couldn't have been me for three key reasons, lets fact check them together," Yoshinobu emphasized the point with three fingers, "one, I was never put on the detention supervising table… meaning I never had a chance to receive the note's contents itself to have a reason to meet Ayano."

Kokoro blinked at how effortlessly Yoshinobu brought up the point of the timetables... and didn't even seem that concerned about it. "W-Well doesn't that cast some suspicion on you being the only teacher without your name there?"

"All the evidence was made for a reason in mind, I can't control it," Yoshinobu shrugged, "and besides, the fact I'm not on there basically proves my innocence if anything. If the Supervisor time table can't be tampered with and I was never on it... it means I didn't have a chance to collect the note."

Despite being on cloud nine from battling Yumi earlier, Kokoro winced as she felt herself get slapped in the face.

Yoshinobu continued with a bored look. "Two, Naohito's account claims that someone suspiciously hurried away from the Biology room. Not to question his account but… personally, my old bones wouldn't be able to flee the scene of the crime that fast without Naohito knowing it was me... and frankly he could've run up and tackled me anyway. Also... isn't it strange he didn't recognize me as the "culprit" when I walked in after? He sort of was silent at your accusation of me Kokoro..."

...

...

...

"...almost like he wanted you to go with that story."

...

...

Kokoro felt her heart stop… no… she knew exactly what he was getting at…

Naohito meanwhile looked offended, "so much was happening with the investigation that I didn't have-"

"I'm not finished," Yoshinobu spoke in a relaxed tone, but the weight of his words was so strong it forced everyone to be silent, "and thirdly… while I confess Miho did indeed give me a lighter with the promise of a makeover-"

"Wait… you were the one who promised her that she could do a makeover on you?" Mateo smirked a little bit. "Haha, now I kinda want to see the transformation!"

"Hehe, as do I!" Miho giggled, her mind swarming with possibilities on what to do to poor Yoshinobu.

Yoshinobu gave everyone five seconds to get that funny bone tickled before he continued, "well now… aside from me making a deal with her for the lighter…. don't you think it's strange that she would risk everything for a stranger she's not paired with to destroy evidence?"

...

...

...

...

...

Miho quieted down instantly… her smile dropped.

Yoshinobu smirked. "I'd like to give some credit where it's due… I don't believe Miho is a stupid kid… far from it, the girl is scarily observant, and she must've realized someone's plan to help her pairing achieve victory… which can only mean one thing…"

Yoshinobu's eyes sparked with aged wisdom as the entire trial room grew dark. Oh… how Yoshinobu forgot this feeling. It had dulled over the years… but the feeling of calling someone out on their bullshit… of putting the pieces together… was just too damn satisfying.

And the looks his peers gave him… that Kokoro-chan especially gave as she froze…

…seriously, maybe this gig wasn't so bad sometimes…


DETECTIVES FREEBIE

Yoshinobu


Bullet: SUPREME LEVEL DETECTIVE

…Yoshinobu pointed a withered finger at another podium… and with a slight smirk, he spoke.

"So then… wanna tell us why you've been lying this entire time… prison boy...?"

"...or should I say..."

"Naohito Urabe?"


To Be Continued


{Author's Note}

This just got interesting~

The final chapter is done and should be posted like... tomorrow! I hope so... I said this would be out last week and then it grew to 27k, so to avoid another investigation situation I cut it down. But I am excited to see what everyone's final thoughts for this trial are. Did you like it so far? Or not? I can definitely see some evidence being useless or topics changing to quickly... so let me know your thoughts so I can try and keep a look out for them.

As for any more thoughts, I have a whole bunch of them to share when we get to the final chapter in this prologue! Please stay tuned for that! And thank you all for being patient with me!

Take Care

CandleFire45