Proofread by: me, Comrade's Lament

Welcome To The Flock

Prologue 5

Curiosity killed the cat... but it was a playful little thing.

They checked little corners... and little boxes.

They checked everything.

The cat saw a curtain... and from behind took a little peek.

Curiosity killed the cat... it wished it could take it back.

Remnants Of The Fallen Talent

"And that's the conclusion of this case!"

Miami huffed with a weary breath.

She had just finished the closing argument for the murder of Ayano… and her finger was pointed at one person specifically.

…Yuuto Kimura, the Ultimate Woodworker.

It had been a horrible few hours trying to debate him… but now… everyone around Maimi nodded along in weary agreement to her conclusion.

Obviously though Yuuto was not happy as he slammed a wooden hammer over and over again on his podium. "I-IT'S NOT ME! I'm not the damn culprit! MAIMI IS GONNA GET US KILLED! YOU'RE GONNA KILL U-US-!"

An electric shock from his collar caused his body to paralyze and go slack. The last look his expression made was one of utter fear.

"Fu-fu-fu~" Monokuma laughed with a sickening grin as he carelessly tossed away the shock controller, "I've heard enough of THAT cry baby for one day! Now then… I suppose you freaks and geeks are ready to vote for who the hell wiped Ayano's sorry behind off this rock! Took you long enough! Let's give it everything we got folks!"

Miami gulped… the debate surrounding Ayano's death had been long and brutal… but finally… it was over…

…the hardest part was over… now they just had to endure… what horrible execution Monokuma would show them.

Maimi's heart broke at the thought.

"…Maimi…?" suddenly their voices broke through the sound of students voting on their tablets.

Maimi glanced over and saw their face. Maimi gazed at it long and hard… capturing every detail… and she smiled.

She forced a smile when she made her vote, and then glanced back at the figure. She knew exactly what she wanted to tell them when this was all over…

It's okay now… you're safe. I promise you.

That's what Maimi desperately wanted to say now… but couldn't as she felt her throat choke as the wheel showcasing the group's pixelated faces spun.

"The voting results are in!" Monokuma's horrific jagged eye glowed an insidious red. "Who's it gonna be? Who's it gonna be? Will you make the right choice… or the dreadfully wrong one?"

"…M-Maimi…!" the figure spoke again.

Maimi looked at them and faltered. Their eyes…

She wanted to tell them it'd be okay now.

Even with the panicked screams in the room now… as the entire trial area turned red… It was going to be okay…

Maimi forced a wider smile as she teared up. She never looked behind her to see the terrible mistake she just made.

"Maimi… I didn't mean to…" The figure's voice broke…

The trial room was bathed in red…

The words [BLACKENED INCORRECT] blazed behind Maimi.

Maimi… smiled in the blood red spotlight…

It's okay now… you're safe.

I promise you.


Naohito didn't meet Yoshinobu's glare, or any of the confused stares he got in the trial room. He had his arms crossed, staring off to the side as if unwilling to entertain such a stupid idea.

"Wait a second? N-Naohito lied this whole time?" Bohai paled, having finally processed what was happening.

"Hahaha! I figured there was something off about him!" Midas grinned as she tilted her head to the side.

Louise gave a curious look at Naohito and nodded, "I suppose this is where the road ends for him."

"No... No way... for real?" Mateo's earlier grin faded. He hadn't talked with the kid much but... was Naohito really about to be under fire for this?

"Naohito… you were the one that burned the paper?" Kokoro's heart tensed for a second before her eyes grew dark. Was she really supposed to expect that this boy tricked her... right in front of her eyes?

"And why the hell would I be the one to do that?" Naohito started. "My memory is crystal clear and I remember being the one to call out the suspicious figure and put out the fire. Also… I don't know what Yoshinobu is spewing but I literally didn't have access to a lighter. And Yoshinobu did have one on him... he literally confirmed it for all of us that she gave him one. He's literally the ONLY person that could've done this."

Yoshinobu gave it some thought, then nodded. "Alright, let's play it your way… 'prison boy'."

Naohito's eyes twitched in some semblance of anger. "W-What the hell are you saying?"

"You just left out the key detail that three people coulda burned the note," Yoshinobu continued, "that being Miho herself, the old guy which is me I suppose… and 'prison boy', that which I'm accusing you of. We know Miho didn't burn the note since she was stuck near Chuya during the investigation… so that just leaves you and me."'

"So it's you-!" Naohito tried to speak.

"Except for the part where your account makes no sense if it's me..." Yoshinobu shrugged, "you said the figure hurried away... which is impossible for my old bones. And the fact that you haven't accused me earlier in this trial and let others do the heavy lifting means you wanted to keep everyone guessing... give yourself more options to add to your... quite frankly hollow sounding story."

Naohito flinched.

Yoshinobu shrugged, "It also doesn't help that I saw you get the lighter from Miho anyway."

"H-HUUUUUHHHHH?" Miho gasped.

Naohito's eyes widened.

"Y-You saw him get the lighter from her?" Kokoro stammered, unable to believe such a thing was true. "Why didn't you say anything-?"

"...nah I'm just playing," Yoshinobu waved a hand, "just wanted to see the reactions."




"What-?" Naohito scoffed.

"However... I did pick up that Miho referred to you a certain way this trial..." Yoshinobu suddenly shrugged again, "the context clues for me just... fit together, and I assumed you were prison boy based on what she said."

Naohito didn't look at anyone now. He wouldn't even give them the pleasure of seeing what this accusation was doing to him.

All he could think about was Miho.


...freaking Miho and her big mouth.

"Ram the thing down, get a desk, and slam into it!" Naohito proposed bitterly. "Chipping it away like in those prison movies ain't gonna work. Trust me."

"Wowie, do you have experience in prison escapes!?" Miho didn't realize how bad that sounded. Naohito glared at her.

"Maybe he was doing some sneaky jail break 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!"

But for Yoshinobu's sharp eye, he could see Naohito rapidly tapping his foot. "Nowhere to run now kid, might as well stand down and face this head on. Wanna tell me why you lied to everyone about seeing someone run out of the Biology room?"

"Lied...? I didn't lie about jack," Naohito suppressed his scoff and glared over at Yoshinobu, "I don't have to answer myself to you." A glare of defiance sparked in Naohito's eye toward the adult...

"Why won't you?" Now it was Casey's turn to give a slight glare. Considering this kid had been caught, Casey wasn't sure how long he could take just waiting for him to talk. "Is that an admission of guilt that you were tampering around with stuff?"

"Sweetie, please don't make this any harder for us…" Chuya joined in with a honey slick voice as she tried to coax Naohito to talk. "We won't judge you at all for whatever you were trying to do."

"What he was trying to do was get us punished by tampering with evidence," Eddie scoffed, "the kid doesn't have the luxury to get off this questioning scot free."

Naohito glared at all the adults and kids judging him... making assumptions about him. The looks... as if he was a troubled teen... it was all too familiar and it was really pissing him off now. He didn't even want to be here!

Why… why the hell was he stuck here… trapped like some sort of animal… away from… from…

"Why the hell are you all looking at me like that?" Naohito turned his back on the group, but made sure to give them a nasty look as his eyes flickered with a determined fire, "I didn't do anything wrong! I was the one who freaking put OUT the fire to save the note! Why would I do that if I burned it in the first place?!"

Kokoro meanwhile narrowed her eyes at Naohito. As much as she was annoyed at Yoshinobu for utterly shooting down her accusation earlier, Kokoro realized how quickly it made sense for Naohito to be the one who burned the note...

...or rather... how it could ONLY be him.

"You put it out to save face..." Kokoro realized as she glared at the boy, "because of me."

Inside the room was only Naohito who I followed. He was looking down in the trash can for some reason.

"Naohito?" I called out… that was when I noticed… smoke? "Naohito, what is-!?"

"Back away!" Naohito suddenly shouted, his legs quickly racing over to a faucet in the room. Given how strict his words were, I actually complied and noted the faint flickering smoke coming from the trash can.

Something was on fire.

"You went to the Biology room to burn the note... but you were interrupted because I suddenly walked in," Kokoro realized, "you were doing that right in front of me... and I never even guessed."

"Wow! You must be a pretty good actor!" Freyja commented as she smiled teasingly at Noahito, "although I guess not good enough if that old fart caught on to your trick."

Yoshinobu didn't respond to the "old fart" comment, but he did sigh and stare blankly at Naohito, "the evidence all fits kid-"

"THERE IS NO EVIDENCE!" Naohito's foot was tapping faster and faster as he scrunched up a frown, "I didn't do anything wrong! I didn't burn the note!"

"But it only makes sense for Miho to give you the lighter," Casey pointed out, trying his best to help corner this kid mentally, "coming up with random excuses doesn't change the fact that it makes no sense for Miho to give it to anyone but you."

"Yoshinobu got a lighter!" Naohito countered, "that proves Miho could've literally given it to anyone else but her partner!"

"Right! He's telling the real story since… I was lying actually!" Miho put a finger to her cheek and squished it playfully to come across as even more adorable then how she was acting, "I gave it to uhhhh... fishy horn guy and the witchy girl!"

"M-Me?!" Bohai froze, hugging his trembling horns.

"She's just trying to divert attention," Louise closed her eyes tightly as if trying to calm herself from dealing with a manic patient.

"I'm telling the truth!" Miho giggled as her eyes sparkled, she gestured over to Louise and Bohai, "I gave a lighter to them! They are the culprits!"



Miho was grinning from ear to ear as she took out a bunch of Molotov Cocktail truth bullets. When she lit them up, she prepared to throw them at any and every truth bullet that came her way!

Bohai: "N-N-No no no! Please don't accuse me! I-I would never burn anything! I'm scared of fire!"

Miho threw the molotov cocktail at Bohai's jacket to catch fire.

Louise: "Your story earlier claimed that you gave the lighter to Yoshinobu and prison boy... do you think it's wise to accuse me and Bohai of something you're clearly lying about now?

Miho giggled and slammed the molotov cocktail into Louise's medical bag which blew up from the dynamite inside it.

Mateo: "Ayo wait? This girl is getting out of control! I don't think she's ever debating the evidence?!"

Miho said "you got that right!", gave a cute wink, and then threw a molotov cocktail at Mateo's feet, making him jump.

Freyja: "Time out! This trial minigame is just causing everything to catch on fire!"

Even Freyja was a little startled that Miho was just throwing molotov cocktails everywhere!

Chuya: "S-Sweetie, please stop panicking! Do you mind just telling us the truth?!"


Molotov Cocktail Bullet (lie bullet): GAVE LIGHTER TO EVERYONE


Miho: "I'll make the world BEAUTIFUL!"

Miho was throwing accusations left and right, her eyes growing frantic as she giggled and held her toy horns. "I lied earlier! I didn't just give two out... I gave four out! No wait, I gave ten out! I gave a lighter to EVERYONE YAYYYYYYYY!"

"W-Why are you acting like this?" Casey narrowed his eyes and cringed at the girl's worsening state of sanity as she started pulling and tugging the straps of her bag.

"Perhaps... she's stressed?" Chuya stared at Miho with a sad look.

"Or perhaps she's trying to bide time," Eddie grumbled, "she's throwing a huge tantrum so we give up on this train of thought."

Chuya bit her lip. It was possible Miho was stalling for time, but she needed to get through to her. So Chuya gently tried to speak to her, "dear... it's okay. I know you're worried but, you can tell us the truth. We won't hurt you."

Miho giggled a bit more as flames circled in her eyes, "I didn't do anything wrong! I did what I was supposed to! I-I gave lighters out to everyone! I'm gonna follow the Pyromagigie wayyyyy~! And I'm gonna please uncle!"

Chuya sighed and reached out a comforting hand to Miho. Although she couldn't physically hold her shoulder or anything, Chuya wanted to at least convey the comforting presence of a caretaker for Miho. "Please... Miho... I understand you want to please your uncle. You would definitely be making him proud right now I bet with handing out lighters to others... but... we don't want to be punished now do we?"

Miho perked her head, "punished?"

"Yes, punished..." Chuya whispered sweetly, but it managed to carry around the trial room with an echo, "if you don't tell the truth something very terrible will happen to all of us. A punishment... a possible execution even... and we wouldn't want that happening just yet... now would we?"

Miho blinked, and then grinned... her eyes went static for a second as she shook her head violently. "No... n-no... I did what I wanted to do! I still want my makeover session later! And I swear I'm telling the truth!" She then waved her arms in a gesture toward Naohito. "I didn't give the lighter to prison-!"

"SHUT UP MIHO!" Naohito slammed a fist into the podium, silencing Miho who didn't even flinch at the reaction. But it was too late, her little slip up had all eyes staring at Naohito.

"Ha... what was that now?" Yoshinobu had to at least stifle a small smirk. These kids trying to get away with murder was a train wreck. "You didn't give the lighter to who? I could've sworn you were about to say 'prison boy' and point to a certain someone."

"Huhhh... did I do something wrong?" Miho pouted, her eyes wide and watery as she glanced at all the faces looking at her accusingly.

"No you didn't, dear..." Chuya sighed at how quickly the tables had turned, realizing what this meant, "you did a good thing for the group."

Miho paused and clutched her black cat bag. Chuya said it was a good thing that she just did... but then why was Naohito... why was prison boy... shaking?

"Well… do you confess Naohito?" There was no emotion behind Yoshinobu's eyes, but the satisfied smile of a job well done painted itself on Yoshinobu's face. "Because you do realize in your attempt to be thorough and destroy the evidence… you made it so we had cause to suspect you in the first place."

Chuya's eyes flickered at that and she softly sighed, tilting her head softly to emphasize at the panicked Naohito, 'oh dear… I suppose that is true. Naohito… if you didn't try to burn that note, we never would've even suspected you in the first place."

"Damnit! DAMNIT!" Naohito couldn't believe it. He got caught because of his careless mistake with Kokoro!

"Oh... and one last thing," Yoshinobu couldn't help it as he held out his hand, "even if this is all speculation... I figure the same trick with Valerie might also work on you. So... pockets inside out please from your jean jacket. If you're about to suggest we need evidence... I assume keeping the lighter on your person is good enough, yeah?"

Naohito gritted his teeth. He had tried so hard... he had tried... to the bitter end.

... but now he was at a dead end... it was over.

...and he tried... so damn hard... to make it.




A lighter was eventually produced from Naohito's pocket after he was searched by the group. The confirmation made everyone gasp.

"Damn dude! He really did do it!" Mateo blinked, "just goes to show you should never play with fire kids."

"So Naohito burned the note," Adam sighed as he stared at the defeated boy. Miho was nearby trying to shake Naohito out of his irritated state. Adam gave them a passing glance and shook his head, "so what does this mean? Do we vote for him?"

"Oh no this means a lot more actually..." Yoshinobu continued. At this point, he knew the risk of running the trial so smoothly like this... but the brief high of calling Naohito out gave him some wiggle room to continue, "because take into account that the only way to get the purple note is if a teacher opens the mailing box in Homeroom."

"I see..." Akinari followed along. "If only a teacher can open a box in Homeroom... then that means... there's only two people that would willingly do that for Naohito to tamper with evidence."

"And who are those two?" Ayame seemed to have figured it out as she looked away.

Kokoro stood quietly.

...this was the moment now. From eighteen suspects... to just two. She had to pick...




...and after thinking back on their actions...


...thinking back on everything they did.




...the answer became obvious.



(Supreme Level) (Mentors)

Eddie "Ed" Orsino (Supreme Level Casino Owner)

Akinari Kaneko (Supreme Biochemist)

Bohai Shuǐniú (Supreme Level Marine Biologist)

Chuya Yagami (Supreme Child Caretaker)

Lady Midas (Supreme Level 'Villian')

Mateo Feliz Oliveira (Daredevil)

Valerie Ortiz (Supreme Drill Instructor)

Yoshinobu Date (Supreme Detective)

(Second Reserve)

Jiyuu "JiJi" Mochizuki (Supreme Level ?) [SELECTED]

Tiago Rodrigues de Andrade (Supreme Level Governor) [SELECTED]



Kokoro: "Miss Mochizuki... Professor Rodrigues... were you the ones who asked Naohito to burn the note?"

Jiyuu and Tiago didn't utter a sound at the accusation. Kokoro stared at them without remorse... without emotion. For someone of her level, she needed to be ruthless with these Supremes as they would be to her.

Tiago didn't say anything. He had a composed enough look, with only the faint squeezing of his stress ball that betrayed his inner turmoil. The man who said they'd fight against the game and not give into despair... now stood as the number one suspect.

But Jiyuu... was an entirely different story. Her eyes were hollow, mouth agape. She was clinging to her shoulders and hunching down, as if to hide, as if too scared to face the reality. For the unknown talent to be acting like this...

...Kokoro repeated herself, and focused on Jiyuu.

"…Miss Mochizuki, did you hear me?" I reiterated. "I asked if you or Professor Rodrigues are the ones who asked Naohito to burn the note."

Jiyuu's face paled as she refused to look at anyone in the room. The entire time she had barely uttered a peep in the trial, and this time was no exception. She was at a loss for words.

"Oh my god, is that why you guys tried to shoot down my theory earlier!?" Freyja gasped in realization as she put a hand over her mouth, "no way! You guys were trying to manipulate me!"

"They manipulated all of us during the trial..." Chuya said quietly as she put her head down in regret, "how... shameful. And then to make children do your dirty work..."

Naohito was still nearby, clutching his head with irritation in the realization that he so quickly lost. Miho stood there, seeming to now realize the stakes of what was happening.

"Wait a s-second... what's going on?" Bohai gulped, "I'm... I'm so confused!"

"Hm... it's simple." Valerie let out an angry huff of air and crossed her arms, "we were operating under the entire trial with the idea that there was one culprit and one accomplice. It's actually... much worse than that. We were dealing with one adult culprit... and three other accomplices."

"So... is this what the second... reserve's purpose is for?" Ayame thought about it, her eyes narrow.

And even stranger… despite there being enough people for ten pairings each… there were only eight pairings…

because there was a group of four with Tiago, Jiyuu, Naohito, and Miho with a shimmering gold and white color light away from the group. I couldn't help but eye them cautiously given how unique their circumstances were.

"Um… w-why are we being split off over here?" Jiyuu tensed up right away, uneasy being singled out with the four people.

"You four are the Second Reserve," Barneby explained. It was a bare-bones explanation, the kind dealers give to rookie gamblers.

"The only way we can figure anything out is by asking questions," Tiago took charge of the four-man group as he stepped up, tapping his left foot impatiently. "For the ones running this sickening program, stand at attention and hear my words! What is the meaning of all these pairings… and what separates us four specifically from the rest of the Ultimate's that have congregated here!?"

Laurel glanced at Barneby before the two started to chuckle, with Laurel giggling innocently while Barneby gave a deep rumbling sigh of satisfaction. Seeing the two in such a giddy state was concerning to see, not just for me I believe. Everyone sort of tensed up.

"Trust us, all will be revealed in time about the pairing specifics," Laurel tried to reassure, though it was the least comforting, "for now... now… we begin the true test of will with your partners and your talents."

"My theory is that the Second Reserve were always going to be assigned the culprit role," Ayame murmured with a look of unease, "out of those four... one of them would be assigned as the culprit, and then they'd have to go against us for a chance to get an advantage."

"Right... b-but given the rules of the Entrance Exam... do all four of them count as one pairing?" Trace nervously sweat. He had to admit, he felt a little bad seeing these people under such stress.

"It had to be," Eddie grumbled, "despite being a group of four, they still were seen as a pairing assignment with the rest of us. I imagine if they won... they'd get to share the advantage together."

"But it seems they've lost," Louise shook her head, "what a pity for them.. that soon one will be punished and they will get disadvantages."

Jiyuu started to pant, her fingers digging into her skin. Tiago glared at the group, a far cry from his usual leader-like gaze.

"The question is now... who is the culprit among the four?" Adam sighed. Now it seemed they were finally making some progress. "I mean... it could be Naohito right? His detention time was wrong and he burned the note."

"That's impossible," Kokoro narrowed her eyes, "only a teacher could read the note in the mailing box... which means it must be either-"

"No... no more... you will get an admission of guilt from me." In a shocking twist... Tiago stepped forward with an angry look.

"Grandpa?" Miho blinked.

"A-Ah..." Jiyuu's eyes grew a little darker.

Naohito only bothered a defeated glance at him.

"You've caught onto my group's plan..." Tiago sighed, "and as the appointed leader of the group, I shall tell you everything. Including... how I'm the culprit."



Tiago stood on a big stage, a spotlight shining down on him as he prepared to read from his notes. But seeing as he didn't have notes... he simply just closed his single eye and glared at the people around him.

The masses...

The public…

If he was going to reach them… he'd have to speak with conviction… discipline… and above all else… brutal honesty.



Tiago sighed. And spoke, with the same power he always would hold when faced with the masses around him.

Tiago: "It is as you've guessed... I was the one behind the events of Ayano Minami's murder."

Tiago: "When I was assigned the culprit role... I feared punishment for my group. I had assured these people I would lead them... take care of them. And soon all of that was at risk by me being assigned as the culprit.


Tiago took a deep breath, his eyes tense, yet vulnerable in the moment.


Tiago: "What I did next was shameful. I... I ordered my group to help me tamper with the murder. With Jiyuu, I asked her to tamper with the time tables in the detention room. With Miho and Naohito, I gave them the note to burn and hide our involvement."

Tiago: "And as they did this... I went around and tried to sway people off the right track."

Tiago: "I tried to... manipulate Freyja into stopping her theories..."

Tiago: "I went against the group during our debate to vote for them."

Tiago: I did everything I could to take the focus off our group... but it was only a matter of time. And now, I apologize to all of you... for not confessing sooner. I will take my punishment... with no resistance..."




Tiago glumly looked down, his eye twitching slightly. The spotlight above him began to flicker out until... the buzzing sound growing more intense-


The spot light flickered out.

The stage was drenched in darkness.

Tiago finished his confession with a bitter frown as he lowered his head in shame. Anyone could tell from one solid glance that he was not happy with how things turned out. But there was nothing that could be done...

"Tiago... is the culprit?" Chuya looked clearly concerned over Tiago's fate as she clutched her apron. "But he helped us so much."

"Welp, cats out of the bag now!" Midas, who was never really much help as she pointed her staff at Tiago, laughed widely, "the true villain takes the center stage! What a fucking twist that a supposed righteous Supreme is this girl's killer!"

"Finally... we can get this over with..." Adam rubbed his eyes. If this trial went on any longer he was seriously going to just pass out from boredom.

"And to think you were ordering us around like lap dogs before..." Louise mused with a twisted grin, revealing her sharp teeth, "well now it all ends here for you."

"Is this seriously how it's all going to end?" Casey narrowed his brow and tried to think. "I mean... it feels like he didn't put up too much of a fight."

The question made Tiago pause before he bitterly looked away. "I'd rather surrender with some respect for my peers rather than destroy your trust with more senseless bickering. We've already seen the effects of such a thing in this trial... fight after fight... debate after debate. May you all vote for me with at least some unity left..."

Unity... Tiago was asking for the group's last call to unity in order to vote for him.

Kokoro glared around at her peers... most who had been useless... others who had actively tampered with the scene of the crime. Even with this trial about to end... could she even feel united with these people?

Yumi... who still twitched and snarled over her earlier debate, didn't seem to think so as she scoffed. "Funny how the supposed culprit of this case says we should work together. Why the hell should we listen to your bullshit account when you could easily lie-?"

"Then... I'll put my own two cents in..." Naohito suddenly spoke up. He had briefly recovered from his little outburst earlier and managed to glare at everyone in the trial room, "Tiago is telling the truth... I... I know he's the culprit from our roles. He even told me at the start of the investigation..."

Yoshinobu didn't answer. He was staring passed me at everyone searching for clues. Then he nodded to himself. I risked a look at whatever he saw. It didn't really seem like much. Mateo and Bohai guarding the body… Akinari and Louise conversing… I saw Naohito talking with Tiago. Then a few other people started heading into the classrooms.

Yoshinobu gave a tired nod. "Ah right, when you and Tiago over here briefly met up at the start of all this."

Kokoro winced, irritated that she missed such a detail despite seeing it. "So that's when Tiago told you his role? Even though we made the rule that we shouldn't be around our partners?"

Naohito sucked in some air as if he took a punch, but then nodded, "yeah... and he asked me to get rid of the purple note in the Homeroom class since... it implicated him. So afterward... I asked Miho for a lighter to burn it. I had no idea she'd blab about my nickname or whatever the heck she decides to call me."

Miho managed to nod. "Yep yep! Prison boy asked me for a lighter, so when Chu-Chu was searching for detention slips... I slipped a lighter to prison boy!"

"Chu-Chu... is that me sweetie?" Chuya nervously sweat at the nickname. She probably would've responded with a loving smile... if it didn't mean Miho had snuck behind her back during the investigation.

Tiago ignored Chuya's concern as he then took over. "It was at that point I told Jiyuu about my role as culprit... and together we tried to tamper with some evidence. Jiyuu went ahead and messed with the student time tables for detention... which would implicate Yumi."

"Oh shit... oh fucking shit..." Yumi grinned with an angry twitch to her eye at Jiyuu. "So you were the little shit stain that erased my detention time to frame me?"

"I... I-I..." Jiyuu shivered at such an intense glare, but she eventually relented. The stress in her heart was growing to a point where she couldn't bite her tongue anymore. "Y-Yes. I was the one responsible for... c-changing all the detention times..."

"Ha... Hahaha..." Yumi doubled over, a gnarled hand over her dark face as her eyes boiled an intense hateful stare to Jiyuu. "When this trial is over... I'll be sure to make you pay for that bitch."

The look of hatred Yumi gave was enough for Jiyuu to tear up... but she didn't try to defend herself. If anything... she deserved whatever was coming.

Tiago meanwhile slammed a fist onto the podium, "do not blame Jiyuu for this! Blame me! I was the one who forced her into the situation to help me evade capture! She simply was trying to help me by erasing those time tables!"

"Help you?" Eddie scoffed and shook his head, "nah... it's exactly like the Valerie situation from before. Jiyuu didn't care about you... neither did Naohito or Miho. They only cared about not receiving whatever disadvantage comes after this because you were their pairing."

Naohito was silent.

Jiyuu teared up.

Miho just kinda bounced around wondering why everything was so serious now.

Tiago winced. He understood perfectly that's why everyone in the second reserve listened to him... in order to escape their own damned fates.

"There's some things I don't get though," Ayame had been thinking hard after the confession, and she finally spoke up about it, "on the detention time tables it wasn't just Yumi's time that was altered. Naohito's time was altered to be closer to the murder... rather than his official time at 2:00... why did you tamper with that?"

"To throw some suspicion Naohito's way." Tiago answered with closed eyes. He couldn't look at his peers once he gave the news.

"You... you wanted us to suspect Naohito?" Casey blinked, shocked by the turn of events.

"..." Naohito crossed his arms. "If... by some chance the second reserve did come under fire for suspicion, I volunteered to be the one voted for as a red herring. That way... my group could still win."

"So you wanted people to suspect you?" Adam couldn't really get the logic behind it yet.

"Hmph, everyone else has the role of spotless," Valerie explained, "since Tiago is the culprit and his entire group are the spotless... that means they'd work together to get anyone in their group but Tiago voted for since they'd still win if we voted wrong."

"It was all my suggestion," Naohito brooded briefly and glared at the floor. "Not that it went anywhere... you all got Tiago in the end."

"It was... a good plan Naohito..." Jiyuu tried to reassure, but the boy wasn't having any of it and looked away. Jiyuu shrank back.

"You actually went along with throwing Naohito to the wolves?" Akinari actually glared at Tiago and Jiyuu with one of the most disgusted looks he's ever managed to form on his old face, "as the adults in this room, I can understand tampering with the crime scene to save Naohito and Miho from the disadvantage... but to throw those kids under the bus to be suspected for you. Aren't you disgusted with yourselves?"

Tiago's face remained stony. It was impossible to tell if he felt guilty for the idea. "We simply did whatever it took to win this entrance exam."

Jiyuu was an open book. Akinari's words hit her like a truck as she forced her eyes down in fear.

Akinari couldn't look at either of them. To have those kids take the blame... he couldn't imagine putting that on such a young mind.

"I'm curious then..." It was Louise who started to speak again as she puffed her pipe, "at the start of this trial... we discussed the possibility if this entrance exam was based on a real case. With this in mind... does that mean Tiago killed Ayano in real life?"


The fact Ayano's murder could've very much been real... it froze the entire courtroom once again now that they had a potential face for the culprit.

"The idea had been throwing me for a loop for quite awhile," Louise mused as she smirked, "the ones most adamant about Freyja's theory being wrong were Tiago and Kokoro... but since we know Tiago is the culprit I assume he only disagreed with it so we wouldn't figure out the truth of his past misdeeds."

Freyja gasped. "AHAH! SO I WAS TRIPLE RIGHT! I just keep getting my theories right second after second! During the investigation and trial you were trying to cover up the truth because YOU KNEW something like this happened didn't you!?"

Tiago stood steady... but his breaths came out in hesitant shame. "Yes... I... I remembered all too quickly when I saw Ayano's body... how real this was. Because... I... I knew back then... and... and I killed her."

There it was... confirmation from the culprit themselves.

"So... it's real? T-This whole case was all real?" Trace paled. How could he even react to something like this?

"Indeed it is," Tiago sighed, "I intend to explain everything after the trial... but I will let you know that yes... Ayano is indeed real... and this entire case was the result of such a horrible thing as a killing game."

"Even... t-the killing g-game part is true...?" Bohai started to panic as he thought about that.

"..." Jiyuu's grip tightened over her shoulders.

Kokoro scoffed. She admired Tiago so much before. She didn't even know what to think of the GHA if this was all real.

The GHA... Ayano...


What was this...?




"I take it you all are finally done?" Barneby spoke with a gravity to his dark tone. There was a look of slight pity, if only slight, at the crest fallen faces of the talented individuals. "We may proceed with the vote if the discussion on Ayano's murder has concluded... although it is customary to remind you all... there are still thirty minutes left on the clock if you wish to continue."

"Thirty minutes..." Laurel repeated, kicking her feet gently as her dress flowed and swished, "do you want to use the remainder of that time?"

"..." Kokoro was silent. She was still reeling over the fact all of this was possibly real... and that the GHA wasn't as glorious as she thought it was.

Yoshinobu was quiet and stared around at the people's reactions. Ayame was doing this as well.

"I think we got it..." Casey sighed as he folded his arms. "Everything sort of lines up now doesn't it?"

"Indeed it does," Louise looked satisfied enough. "We've been as thorough as can be."

"W-Wait? It's over?" Miho blinked. Despite her involvement, she still looked a little lost. "Did we lose!?"

Chuya frowned and looked away from Miho, unable to bear the heartbreak of knowing the child would be getting a disadvantage.

"Yeah kid! You lost!" Midas grinned, "sucks to be you right now!"

"Bro... please shut up," Mateo couldn't stand this chick anymore. He just wanted to make sure the group got the vote right. "Let's just get this over with as smoothly as we can team!"

"Are we even a team after this?" Freyja giggled as she glanced at some of the more unruly members of the group, "this little mini trial kinda proved a lot of you guys are crazy."

"Look whose fucking talking..." Yumi scoffed.

"That's RICH coming from you," Freyja countered easily.

"Enough." Valerie silenced them with an annoyed look. "We must proceed with the vote then... and figure out a way to escape this facility once this is all done with. I will of course lead the charge when-"

"And do you really think anyone is gonna let you be the leader after what you did in this trial?" Midas giggled. "Tampering with evidence to save your own hide... you even put me to shame with that act!"

"At least she tried to save herself," Adam muttered, "you were just doing stuff cause you felt like it."

"Let's get back on topic everyone," Akinari was ready to wrap up this trial. His student was free of suspicion so now all he had to do was vote without mercy.

"R-Right..." Bohai teared up with guilt as he gazed at the guilty party.

Naohito was deathly silent as he gripped his podium.

Miho blinked and started tapping on her tablet.

Jiyuu was blankly staring into space in horror at things turning out this way.

Tiago glanced at the second reserve and sighed with a bitter frown. "Commence the vote."

Barneby nodded. "Very well, then I shall commence the vo-!"


"I expected better from the lot of you." Eddie spoke up with an impatient tone.

Everyone jumped at Eddie's interruption. Even Barneby looked slightly surprised.

"Excuse me Mister Orsino," Barneby coughed, "I was just about to commence-"

"Can it dodo bird," Eddie barely paid the mascot any attention as he pointed at Tiago, "I need to step in here because clearly no one else has the tact to recheck the evidence for Tiago's story."

"Recheck... evidence?" Trace gulped. "W-We went over everything didn't we sir?"

"Clearly not everything if you none of you had called this fucker out on it," Eddie insulted as he glared down Tiago, "everyone knows the sign of a job well done is the recheck your efforts thoroughly. If you can't even do that... it's a wonder how any of you got recognized for your skills in the first place."

"Seems you figured something out," Yoshinobu gave a tired nod. He didn't look mad at being insulted, if anything he seemed relieved someone else had to speak up.

"Of course I fucking did since everyone else is twiddling their thumbs," Eddie rolled his eyes, "and I am NOT about to be punished by a wrong vote if no else sees the inconsistency here."

"W-Wrong vote?" Kokoro this time spoke up with an annoyed look. "Are you suggesting that...?"

No... Kokoro knew what he was getting at... and it seemed everyone in the trial did too.




"Tiago isn't the culprit." Eddie called out.

"W-WHAAAAAAAAAT?!" Bohai shrieked.

"H-Huh?!" Trace blinked as he gripped his lab coat.

"Woah woah woah! Are we innocent then!?" Miho giggled as her eyes sparkled with relief.

"Far from it kid," Eddie wasted no time in dousing the little fire starter's hopes as he glared down at Tiago, "you've been covering for someone haven't you? All that confessing bullshit and those ungodly long speeches were just to make us think you were giving yourself up... but the truth is... someone else in your group is the culprit."

Tiago didn't say a word despite all of the insanity around him. However it was clear he was getting angry as he gripped the trial podium and squeezed his stress ball.

"Nothing to say to that?" Eddie fanned the flames a little bit as he scoffed. "Figures, you get caught in a lie and can't even-"

"Not a single lie was told," Tiago uttered quickly after that, "we have multiple witnesses confirming that I was going around manipulating everyone... and you all figured out my group members' involvement! There is nothing more that needs to be said!"

"On the contrary, I think we need to have a long discussion about who you're covering for," Eddie glared down at Tiago before turning his attention toward a specific face, "ain't that right kid?"

Kokoro blinked...

Eddie was staring her down now. What was his deal...? Did he suspect her?!

...n-no wait, that was a stupid thought.

He was gesturing to her... for backup? Or perhaps he recalled the investigation Kokoro did and he needed her help. That had to be it. This old nutcase needed her...

...or maybe not.

Regardless... Eddie was asking Kokoro a very important question now.

Was she satisfied with this ending?








Tiago: "As I have already said, I am the culprit behind Ayano Minami's murder!"

Eddie: "And I'm saying you're {full of shit} to be talking about that."

Adam: "Are we seriously doing this again? Who else could the culprit be for this murder then the one who confessed?"

Tiago: "Adam is making perfect sense! I already confessed to my crime... and you all figured out my group's involvement! Naohito and Miho burned the note... and Jiyuu altered the {time tables for detention}!"

Louise: "It does seem like we've gone over everything he's done... but perhaps the question is if he's lying about something?"

Tiago: "I've told nothing but the truth during the entire confession... and again if you don't believe me, we even have witnesses to testify they saw me orchestrating things behind the shadows!"

Yoshinobu: "I did see Tiago and Naohito conversing when they weren't supposed to, yeah..."

Freyja: "And he made a big stink out of my theory!"

Casey: "Is that true? Does that mean... Tiago actually is the assigned culprit for this?"

Tiago: "You all saw my plot right before your eyes... there is nothing wrong with the confession I told!"


Agreement Bullet: Detention Time Tables

To Statement: "Full Of Shit"


Kokoro: "Objection!"

Eddie: "Knock em' down one by one!"

Kokoro shared a look at Eddie.

The older man crossed his big arms and gave a stern nod.

Kokoro returned it. Begrudgingly so... but she did... because she finally saw what Eddie had been trying to call out, and she wasn't intending for the group to be punished over such a minor mistake.

Summoning her resolve, Kokoro glared at the Supreme Governor. Once upon a time his light was so blinding to Kokoro that she almost questioned if she could make it to his level as a Supreme.

But now seeing Tiago squeezing the stress toy tighter and tighter in his hand... Kokoro knew... it was over.

"Professor Rodrigues," Kokoro spoke formally, but her cold glare was anything but cordial, "I finally understand the inconsistency with your story. You just lied to all of us right now. That's unbecoming of your status as a Supreme Governor-"

"Who are you to speak to me in such a way!" Tiago interrupted, his hardened gray eyes glaring as his eye patch tightened around his head. "Whatever it is you think you've found on the time tables proves nothing!"

"No... it proves everything," Eddie spoke next, shutting Tiago up with a strict voice, "let the girl speak."

Tiago's fingers tightened around the stress ball as he saw the faces of his peers.

Ayame blinked, seeming to realize the entire case at that moment, "ah... I see now."

Mateo scratched his head, "d-dude's what's happening?"

Yumi scoffed, "I guess we're about to find out... so hurry it the fuck up. We have like twenty fucking minutes left."

Kokoro, as much as she hated Yumi... obliged. They had to be quick.

"Your inconsistency," Kokoro sighed, her voice dark, "was the detention time table. If you claim you were the culprit of this murder. It means... the purple note would've been sent to you in Homeroom... and you would've collected it from the mailing box to meet with Ayano. But that's impossible for one key reason..."




"Your shift for detention was from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm on the dot!"

"G-GCK!" Tiago's eyes widened as the stress ball slammed into his face from exerting too much force on it. He shook his head, causing his hair to get messy from its usual formal style as he snatched the ball again. "A-And what the hell does that prove?!"

"It proves... the note couldn't possible be meant for you," Ayame followed along perfectly as she smoothly took over, "if the murder happened at around 6:00... that means the culprit wasn't in Homeroom at the time, they were in the Science room being attacked by Ayano."

"Oh...!" Akinari instantly caught on and smirked, stroking his goatee, "that's true! If the attack was happening while Tiago was overseeing detention, it couldn't be him! And if his shift ends at 7:00 pm as well, then that means he couldn't help with the clean up!"

Tiago's eye twitched as he gripped the podium. "Hold on now! You're still off! It's possible I never went to my shift as Valerie was a section option! Remember? It said... "Tiago OR Valerie"... which means-"

"You would've had the ability to walk around and kill Ayano," Yoshinobu nodded, "that's true... except for the fact that the culprit definitely was the one who got sent the purple note. If you didn't show up to your shift for detention... then you never would've gotten the note... and then how would you meet Ayano in the Science room?"

"G-GRAH!" Tiago's stress ball almost popped from the counter. He huffed a few breaths, his eyes dark as he pointed a deadly finger at the group. "That doesn't mean anything! It's useless!"

"Is that your only defense?" Yumi almost had to laugh at this adult panicking. "What a fucking waste... now that I'm thinking about it... your dumbass might not be the culprit."

"Given the shift Tiago was on..." Freyja murmured and scratched her head, "I guess it would've been too late for him to receive the purple note thingy! And even if he wasn't in Homeroom as he claims... that means he would've never received it at all!"

Tiago's eyes boiled. "That doesn't mean I didn't do the killing! I still could've-!"

"Enough already… your manipulation ends here," Yoshinobu shook his head and raised up the shaded purple note revealing Ayano's message from earlier, "everyone remember this?"

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.

"W-What does this show?" Bohai shivered quietly by himself.

"It shows that the purple note was addressed to our culprit, who is definitely a teacher given the context of the Homeroom mailing box being accessible only by teachers," Yoshinobu explained, "however... it also shows... that Ayano specified she wanted to meet the culprit LATER at 6:00... meaning...?"

Ayame took over quickly, "meaning that the note was addressed to someone of the earlier detention supervising times."

"Earlier?" Casey blinked, "wait but Tiago is-"

"Way closer to the murder time," Yoshinobu finished, "meaning this note is in no way addressed to him."

"Tiago tried to make us think he was the culprit," Kokoro continued with a dark look, "he tried to make himself look like the mastermind of Ayano's case. Well... he was the mastermind... but more so the brains behind the second reserve's manipulation. Because there's another culprit among them!"

Naohito's face tensed.

Miho jumped as if a firecracker was set off under her.

"T-Tck! Urgh!" The once shimmering Governor had his own aura darkened. His face contorted with rage, a vein about to pop in his head. His fingers started to squeeze that spherical stress ball he was always carrying. "You have no idea what you're talking about!"

"As a governor… your job is to take care of the people!" Kokoro called out, "to use your words and abilities to lead others into a new age! But you decided to leave behind that role in favor of leading your own personal group… the Second Reserve! So you could cover for one of them being the culprit!"

Tiago's fingers clenched tighter around the ball… the pressure squeezing it to its bursting point. "Y-You shall CEASE such accusations at once! I went and led ALL of you during the investigation! I put my foot down to ensure the discussion went smoothly… I even CONFESSED... and this is how you treat your elders?! All of you are unruly in this generation! I… I vowed to protect all of you! You should be standing behind me!"

"No, you encouraged us to take control of our own voices…" Kokoro narrowed my eyes, "we have to stand up for ourselves…"

"E-Enough of this!" Tiago ordered.

Each pointed word the group made to Tiago made him squeeze the ball… tighter… tighter… tighter. His withered eye was wide awake, about to pop as he gritted his teeth.

"This is the truth you tried to hide!" Kokoro sternly shouted, "you used the Second Reserve to hide one of their crimes... and then tried to take the fall for it so you wouldn't be punished!"

"E-Enough!" Tiago snapped, chewing his lip.

"IT'S OVER for you Professor Rodrigues!" Kokoro shouted.


Tiago's stress ball popped. Bits of rubber flew away, bits of it hitting him in his one good eye. He tore into his lip in a rage... his mouth now bloody as he roared.

His glimmering presence… was now a stain. The governor… had fallen.


And that left... the final truth of Ayano's murder... the final culprit.

...the one who had killed her.

"Since the note wasn't addressed to Tiago," Eddie scoffed, "there's only ONE more person in the second reserve that fits the bill of our little killer."

"That's right..." Yoshinobu nodded, "Kokoro-chan, why don't you do us the honors this time... who is the culprit of this case?"

Kokoro ignored Yoshinobu... ignored Eddie... ignored everyone.


...because now... Kokoro was only staring at them...




...right at the culprit's terrified eyes.





(Second Reserve)

Jiyuu "JiJi" Mochizuki (Supreme Level ?) [SELECTED]

Tiago Rodrigues de Andrade (Supreme Level Governor)

Miho Akatsuki (SHSL Pyrotechnican)

Naohito Urabe (SHSL Traceur)






Kokoro: "…Miss Mochizuki... were you the culprit of this murder?"

Jiyuu's face paled as she refused to look at anyone in the room. The entire trial she had barely uttered much except a few peeps and worried comments.. but this time she couldn't even dare to breathe. She was at a loss for words.

"Jiyuu?" Yoshinobu raised a brow, "a student asked you a question. How do you prepare to respond?"

"I... I-I..." Jiyuu covered her mouth in horror. Words... she needed to form words! But despite her brain telling her that... they couldn't even speak. She was choking... the collar on her neck was getting tighter somehow. "I... I-I... didn't-"

"Didn't... what? Bash Ayano's brains in?!" Midas giggled as she pointed at the panicking woman.

Jiyuu's hands shook violently as she glanced at a defeated Tiago. "T-Tiago I-"

"Don't look at Tiago, look at us," Valerie was quick to cut down Jiyuu's attempt for aid. "Were you the culprit of this murder?"

Jiyuu tensed up more at that as her vision blurred. Her eyes were burning... and something hot was pouring out of them. She touched her face... they were tears. She tried to wipe them... but everyone was glaring at her...

"I-I didn't... I swear I..." Jiyuu almost backed up out of her podium.

"It's against the rules to leave your podium during an exam," Laurel spoke quietly... yet her voice sounded a little deadly as she glared down at Jiyuu with an innocent smile, "and as a reminder for the class... you have ten minutes left."

"That's all the time we need I think," Casey sighed as he rubbed his neck. "It's enough time to vote for her right?"

"D-Don't!" Naohito sprang up and gripped his podium, "she's n-not the culprit I swear! Tiago-"

"We already proved Tiago didn't receive the note..." Akinari couldn't look at Naohito as he quietly stared down Jiyuu, "the only other second reserve member that could receive the contents of the note was Jiyuu..."

"Her detention time was from 2:00 to 3:00..." Chuya nervously spoke nearby as she kept her gaze focused on Jiyuu as well, "if the note specified for the culprit to come LATER at 6:00, Jiyuu would've been the prime candidate for those words to make sense, so... it really can only be her I suppose."

"N-No it-!" Naohito grit his teeth.

Miho glanced at Jiyuu and poured, "no no nopity no! I don't think Miss Jiji is the culprit! It couldn't be! She's too cute to be the culprit! And s-she just doesn't look like the type!"

"Yeah she's your fucking teacher, of course you'd say that shit," Yumi rolled her eyes, "it doesn't matter how much any of you second reserve fucks whine, Jiyuu is the culprit of this Ayano girls death. That's case closed."

"W-Why...?" Bohai teared up even more than ever as he hugged himself, "J-Jiyuu is s-so nice... why is she t-the culprit?"

"Do you think... Jiyuu was doomed from the start?" Chuya suddenly suggested with a guilty look, "she was assigned as a member of the 'second reserve' but we never did figure out what that meant in the end. Perhaps it means now... the four members in that group were destined to undergo the burden of being the culprit?"

"Everything makes sense if that's the case!" Freyja gasped as if she solved an unsolved mystery, "those four were put in a side group from the rest of us so they'd be easy targets as the culprit for later! And besides, with Jiyuu in mind, it makes everything I theorized more make WAY more sense. GHA's failed opening took place, what, five years ago? Jiyuu is actually young enough to where her being related to the missing students case makes sense!"

"Well, how old is she?" Casey glanced at Jiyuu with an uneasy look.

"Twenty seven," Louise revealed quickly with a nod, "it says all of our ages on our tablet. "Subtract that by five, she'd be around twenty two when the opening happened. It's not exactly improbable for the GHA to scout her near that age, though she wouldn't be in high school anymore."

"I still think it makes way more sense that it's her!" Freyja was determined to stick with her theory, "I mean… we don't even know what her talent is!? For all we know she is hiding it because it would expose her to have been part of that SHSL's missing incident or whatever!"

"Wait... you mean the newspaper where sixteen SHSL's went missing?" Mateo recalled briefly with panicked eyes.

"I mean... we started the trial confirming it," Adam nodded with a disinterested look, "with the files of Ayano and Maimi, we put together that this entire murder and the missing kids case was real."

"And if those kids were put in a killing game then..." Trace stopped himself. He didn't want to think about the implications of a killing game happening in the past.

Louise murmured something quietly as she tilted her head. "So... it seems likely she's a murderer... and also a survivor of whatever happened back then."

Akinari gripped his tie as he bitterly closed his eyes. "But the only way to survive a killing game… is to escape or…"

"Win." Eddie stated bluntly. "And we all know there's only one way to win this kind of game."

Jiyuu stood frozen after the evidence was brought out. She looked speechless, unable to utter even a single syllable. Whatever words she had planned to say dropped off her lips in a whimper as she shook violently… almost… too violently. Her nails were digging into her shoulders.

"I-I… I wouldn't… I…" Jiyuu trembled pathetically, her eyes misting as she tried to form words.

"You wouldn't what…? Kill someone?" Yumi rolled her eyes. "Speak louder bitch, we can't hear you. Whether you killed someone or not, this is the evidence we got… so suck it up and take whatever punishment you're about to get."

"Easy for you to say since you aren't the culprit you know," Casey sighed. "I mean, I'd be just as scared as Jiyuu if I got forced into the role of being a culprit."

"T-This is t-terrible. D-Do we have to v-vote for her?" Bohai cried. He looked guilty for what was about to happen.

"Of course." Eddie grunted and crossed his arms. "We went over everything, there's no more room to debate. These events lead to Jiyuu being the most likely suspect…"

Eddie had confirmed Kokoro's own thoughts, there really was nothing else to go over. Jiyuu is the culprit, the assigned one anyway given the evidence we got. But was Jiyuu really gonna take that? Were any of the Second Reserve going to take that? They had fought so hard... were they just going to give up like this.

Miho didn't even seem to know where to start as she mindlessly played with her black kitty backpack. Perhaps... she was trying to distract herself from the fact her group lost.

Naohito was simmering with rage as he glared down at his feet, his fingers clenching at the podium.

Tiago...? His eyes were only focused on the trembling Jiyuu. Tiago just had to wonder where it all went wrong? If Jiyuu was really going to give up so easily?




"I take it the silence means you all are finally finished?" Barneby sighed. He really hoped that now everyone had gathered their bearings and prepared to vote accordingly.

"Yes… let's proceed with it I believe," Louise nodded in agreement.

"Sorry Jiyuu." Mateo winced. "I guess this is it..."

Kokoro didn't look at Jiyuu as the woman sniffled and cried.

It was finally over…





Kokoro's eyes widened as Naohito stood up straight again, his eyes blazing with fury.

"W-Wah?!" Bohai squeaked.

"Woah! He's up to bat again?!" Mateo blinked at the kid's serious stamina.

"...N-Naohito...?" Jiyuu teared up... but stared in horror as the older teen pounded his fist onto his damn near broken podium.

"EVIDENCE!" Naohito roared, his eyes in great pain as splinters flew around him, "I call for actual... physical evidence. There is NOTHING that proves Jiyuu's involvement in this case! NOTHING!"

"Excuse you?" Casey actually was getting a tad bit annoyed by the resistance this guy was showing, "we went over everything, there's no way you-"

"Shut up! I am NOT just going to sit here and take a disadvantage in a damn killing game because you all voted wrong!" Naohito spat with a hateful look before he pointed at the group, "there is nothing in your accounts that prove Jiyuu is connected to this murder PHYSICALLY! Absolutely NOTHING TANGIBLE! Until you actually bring up something of actual worth, come back to me!"

"We don't have to listen to you at all dude," Adam blinked at Naohito's insistence to fight to the end, "everything stacks up to Jiyuu-"


"I'm the culprit of this damn murder!" Naohito shouted.



Naohito glared at the group and kicked his podium fence down as he pointed at them.

Naohito: "Everything you just speculated about Jiyuu could also apply to me! I'm old enough to know that if this murder happened five years ago I'd be a prime candidate for the GHA to scout me!"


Ayame: "You say that... but with how this FAKE case has been set up... all the evidence points to Jiyuu being the only one who could be connected to the crime. She opened the mailing box-"

Naohito: "And notice how MY TIME is in the same time frame as when Jiyuu was scheduled to oversee detention. I was scheduled to go at 2:00 and she oversaw the class at 2:00. In that case… If Jiyuu opened the mailing box then, it's possible the note could've been addressed to me, and I took it! Then I WENT to go see Ayano instead!"


Mateo: "Woah but dude... if that's the case then you would've been the one who was attacked by Ayano and got in a struggle with her. But you look pretty strong to be able to stop her attacks without-"

Naohito: "Did you forget how this entire murder went down?! Ayano was planning to kill the culprit, ME! Of course I'd struggle to defend myself if she attacked me first! It doesn't matter how strong someone is if they get caught off guard by a supposed friend!"


Midas: "Hehe... that is true... if little Nao-Feeto over here was attacked by Ayano... no doubt there'd be a struggle! [There would even be marks on Naohito I bet] if that was the case... wink wink!"

Naohito: "I hate the fact this villain chick is agreeing with me, but YEAH! I could just as easily have been the culprit... WHICH I AM-!"







Akinari: "And this is the logical conclusion of this case!"

Midas: "And to the victor goes the spoils!"

"Shockingly... Midas brings up an excellent point that can prove once and for all who the real culprit is," Akinari sighed as he folded his arms. He paid half a glance to the chuckling villain who knew exactly what she just did.

"And I'll take my bow and exit~!" Midas grinned at a job well done.

"W-What?!" Naohito blinked. What just happened? Midas agreed with him, and yet he was being countered all of a sudden?! "W-What the hell did you do?!"

"Just what I had to..." Midas giggled, "I opened everyone's eyes to my role. As a villain I crush dreams... and I just crushed yours Naohito..."

How did Midas crush his dreams? Naohito glared at her...


...wait a second.

"G-G-Gah?!" Naohito's legs started to tap rapidly. He just realized it! If he could run away… he would now. He wanted to run… run… run…

…but his legs were burning. He was roasting alive as sweat poured down his body.

"It seems you figured it out," Yoshinobu nodded quietly, "the last piece of evidence we have yet to go over... the bloody fingernails. They paint quite a story for how brutal the struggle was. With how messy the Science classroom is... we can only assume Ayano attacked our culprit with the scissors before she fell victim to the white rock the culprit used."

Naohito started to pant heavily, sweat dripping down his forehead as his eyes began to twitch. His legs, now burning and feeling shackled to the podium, began to yield to exhaustion… as if just recovering from a long run.

"With no way to use the scissors..." Akinari continued quietly in place of the detective, "Ayano scratched at our culprit... most likely leaving marks on their body."

"G-G-Gck-!" Naohito gripped the podium tighter… and tighter, the wood almost splintering again.

"Which only means one thing if this case is real.. Naohito," Yoshinobu took over and gave a faint smirk as he pointed his cane at the boy, "if you have scratch like scars somewhere on your body... this case is closed and we have no choice but to vote for you."

Naohito tensed. No... NO... NO... NONONONONONONONONONONONONONONO. He couldn't lose this!

"Oh... but the same could be true for... Jiyuu, isn't that right?" Midas raised a brow and cackled, "perhaps... we should check if she has scars? After all, the rule is usually ladies first, right?"

Jiyuu's eyes widened in horror as she covered her shoulders.

"I... I-I..." Jiyuu cried, staring at Tiago for help.

Tiago squeezed his eyes shut.

Miho hugged her backpack tightly in the tense air.

"Naohito... earlier I applauded your initiative during the investigation," Yoshinobu spoke with a hint of disappointment.

"Half the adults here barely look reliable," Naohito cocked his head to the side and folded his arms, not looking too pleased with Yoshinobu entering the scene. "I just did what I had to-"

"Heh… you must not know me very well, I was praising you on how quick you were to take action," Yoshinobu thought aloud as he peered into the trash can to see the purple paper. His comment earlier did NOT sound like praise, but I guess he missed the class on genuinely showing encouragement. "Some kids here could take a page from your book, might learn a thing or two on taking initiative."

"However... I'm afraid... you failed to remember the most important lesson they teach kids nowadays," Yoshinobu nodded, "slow and steady wins the race... and Naohito... unfortunately you just lost."


Finally, with nowhere left to run, Naohito stomped his foot, crashing into the wooden podium with a force so intense it broke through the very floor. Wooden splinters flew into the sky, his running shoes now ruined and dirtied.

Naohito knew right here and now… he had nowhere left to run…


...because he remembered now... just who had the scars to match the profile.

As for the other adult, they were of average size with grayish-purple, short wavy hair. She trembled while her gray baggy eyes narrowed at the door, as if pleading it to open by itself. She was slightly slender with lightly tanned skin and a heart-shaped face, which she rubbed wearily. For some reason, she had scratch-like scars on her shoulders that she did her best to cover up. Her purple shirt helped do the trick. It had a white moon design on it that peeked out from underneath a gray cardigan with silver buttons. She also wore lilac pants and black boots.

Jiyuu Mochizuki... had scratch-like scars on her shoulders...

"N-No… n-n-no… n-no…" Jiyuu had tried to painfully cover them up... but with Freyja basically ignoring all personal space, the gremlin had at least tugged her shirt enough that you could see the old scars... now replaced with fresh new ones that Jiyuu herself made with how hard she had been gripping her shoulders.

"I see…" Kokoro muttered as she narrowed my eyes. "She has scratch scars on her shoulders… meaning she got an injury from something with claws or nails. And given Ayano has dried blood under her fingernails… as if she was scratching at someone… then this must've been what Midas was talking about."

"Midas being unintentionally helpful?" Freyja blinked, "coulda fooled me! Although I guess I'm the same way, being a big help and all-!"

"Do you guys even realize what this means?!" Trace interrupted Freyja's big moment with a look of shock, "this is like... real! Those scars must've been from Ayano just scratching at Miss Mochizuki!"

"C-Can we confirm that?" Casey blinked a little, "I mean the scars definitely look old, but it could've been from an animal or something like that."

"T-That's right!" Naohito said in one last desperate attempt, "there's no way to confirm if those scratches were from something unrelated! It probably has nothing to do with this murder!"

"We'll have to ask Jiyuu that won't we?" Chuya murmured as she stared quietly at the shaking woman, "sweetie… do you want to confess where you got those injuries? Please… don't be so afraid… we just want to hear a simple account. Because if you don't help us soon… these children will be punished… and we don't want that do we?"

Jiyuu wept softly as she covered her mouth, her eyes shaking in horror. If she didn't speak up… the kids here…

…punishment… oh god… not punishment…

"Jiyuu…?" Chuya repeated again as her head tilted to the side gently, "are you going to finally tell us the truth sweetie?"

Jiyuu stood alone, breaking down. Who could save her now…?

Tiago was defeated, Naohito was gripping what was left of his podium in anger, and she wouldn't dare ask Miho to save her.

Jiyuu stood alone...


...for good this time.

Chuya sighed, looking disappointed, "the fact she isn't speaking at all is a concern now…"

Kokoro sighed with a strained look. She stared at her peers, none of them wanting to confront the reality. "I think we know why. Because… it was you Jiyuu... you killed her."

"I-I..." Jiyuu began to break again.

"You were the culprit behind Ayano's murder," Eddie nodded.

"A-Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh..." Jiyuu's voice was shaking... breaking... that damn collar was strangling her.

"That's the truth of the case..." Yoshinobu muttered as he stared Jiyuu head on, "a case... I believe included Maimi Yuuki and Ayano Minami way back then."





Jiyuu clawed at the podium, her gray eyes swirling with guilt. Tears dripped down her destroyed eyes as she painfully wheezed.

"W-WAH! J-Jiyuu!?" Bohai whimpered.

"Woah… has she totally lost it?" Freyja actually shut up and glanced uneasily at the girl. "Is she like… having a breakdown?"

"What does it look like she's having, a fucking good time?" Yumi scoffed. "She's fucking crying like a baby now."

This was unlike the other breakdowns before... Jiyuu was no longer present in this reality. Her sky blue fingernails tore into her shoulders, leaking blood from her fragile skin as she screamed in raw terror. Her eyes were swirling with images no one could see but her.

She was surrounded by death... by Ayano... by Maimi…

…oh god Maimi…

Jiyuu said nothing to the insults or the concerns around her, she just buried her face in her hands. "I… I didn't mean to! I want to take it back! I WANT TO TAKE IT BACK! P-Please! I'm sorry… A-Ayano and Maimi… I'm so… SO SORRY!"

"So you admit to it?" Valerie stared coldly at Jiyuu. "You killed that girl?"

"N-No! P-Please n-no more!" Jiyuu barely managed to speak. "I-I WANT TO TAKE IT BACK!"

"H-Hey, wait… she was forced into this!" Mateo tried to say, "she was assigned that stupid role, this is unfair to her!"

"Yet she's acting with the guilt and shame an actual killer would," Edddie pointed out, appearing unphased as he sighed.

"B-But it was s-self defense…" Bohai meekly tried to defend, his heart aching for the girl. "M-Maybe we should… think it o-over?"

"Think what over?" Yumi snapped, "we figured it the fuck out! Screw that shit and let's vote!"

"No… we do need to look it over one last time." Kokoro sighed, closing her eyes to block out the horrible sight of Jiyuu's breakdown. "A proper case like this can't be settled without a shadow of a doubt we got everything right."

"I thought we did this already," Adam sighed, "is this necessary?"

"Gotta be thorough here," Yoshinobu of all people spoke. "One mistake could cost us our lives… in a real trial setting anyway."

Adam didn't seem to care about that last bit as he yawned with a half hearted shrug, "fine go over it all again if you want… we got our culprit already..."

"I will gladly do so considering some of the people here wouldn't comprehend this case," Kokoro pointed out with a mutter before glaring right at Jiyuu. "We'll go over it all… everything about this crime you committed Jiyuu… for one last time, to prove without a shadow of a doubt that you're guilty! Even if it was self defense… your role in this court was always going to take us down with you. So I have to do this… I'll be the one to bring your story to light. Do you understand?"

Jiyuu's eyes broke and she crumbled to her knees, unable to even clutch the podium anymore. With a shaky sob… she nodded her head.

Jiyuu had been utterly defeated.

...and now she was alone... to face the ending… alone.


Act 1 - It all started when our victim, Ayano Minami, the Ultimate Weaver, planned a murder to kill the would be culprit of this case. With a motive currently unknown, she got to work first by stealing the scissors from the Math Room. They were going to use this to stab the culprit when they entered the Science room later. Afterward, the victim wrote a letter in the History Classroom with the unique purple paper provided, and requested someone in the Homeroom class to meet in the science room at 6:00 pm.

Act 2 - Our culprit received the note in Homeroom on their watch of detention from 2:00 to 3:00, and as a teacher opened up the mailing box to acquire it. They listened to its instructions because they were such good friends. The culprit entered the science room at around 6:00 without much trouble, only to be attacked by Ayano with the scissors. Panicking, our culprit grabbed a sample rock from one of the microscopes nearby and hit Ayano over the head with it. Running on adrenaline and a need to defend themselves… our culprit kept hitting Ayano in the head over and over with the small rock which caused multiple blunt wounds to appear. Our victim tried to struggle with our culprit, but they likely couldn't use the scissors... so with the last of their strength they tried to claw at the culprits shoulders… and died.

Act 3 - Covered in blood after the murder, the culprit ran to the sink in the science room and washed off the blood from themselves and the rock. They couldn't step outside without being covered in blood from their clothes though… so they put a lab coat over their body to conceal the blood. Afterward they left the room and got to work moving and cleaning the crime scene. The first thing they did was go to the gym and acquire the workout mat to wrap the victim's body in. Picking up the mat left a clean square since the floor was dusty. Then they went to the art room and grabbed the cart to move the victim's body from the science room to the lobby.

Act 4 - With the victim's body moved, the culprit had to be quick, they pushed Ayano off the cart and dolly… used the paint cans of red paint to make it look like the murder happened randomly in the lobby… and then got a random hammer from the art room and dipped it with paint to also plant in the lobby. Then… they threw out the murder weapon in the art room… being the rock now stained with dried blood.

Art 5 - They went to the biology room and got cleaning supplies. Then they used the cleaning supplies for the Science Room to wipe away the blood that connected the Science Room to the murder scene. They even cleaned the green trail made from the cart wheels… but the culprit was careless given they only had a one hour time frame to work with… and thus our investigation started. And the last thing they had to take care of… was the note addressed to them.

Act 6 - Already having the note, they explained the situation to their pairing of theirs, Tiago… another teacher… as well as Miho and Naohito. Tiago got to work discrediting others theories on the culprit. Miho helped Naohito burn the note by giving him her lighter. With that Naohito went to burn the note stealthily in the Biology room… only to be caught by Kokoro… where he then pretended he found something burning in the trash can…

"And all of this was orchestrated to hide the past crimes of Jiyuu Mochizuki… a Supreme with both a talent and murder unknown to us! Your secrets end here!"

When all was said and done… the group quieted down. The debate had been tense… long… tiring…

…but it was done.

…and Jiyuu had been caught. All the poor girl could do was stare at her trembling hands and wonder…


Laurel perked up at the silence and managed to wake up from her nap time. "Oh! It's over! And you all managed to do this in under two hours. Thank goodness. You were running close to the wire."

"Four minutes to spare to be exact," Barneby noted as his robotic eye formed the symbol of a clock, "shall I prepare for the vote then Madam Laurel?"

"Hehe, of course Baboo," Laurel hummed as she turned to the group, "let's see if you can choose the culprit amongst all of you for our very first trial in this game!"

The tablets blinked and I uneasily picked who I'm sure everyone knew was the culprit. Once the answer was put in… the screen whirred and the results came up.



Adam Faulx

Ayame Fuse

Casey Rosario

Freyja Dahlström

Kokoro Takano

Louise Annabelle Bogweather

Miho Akatsuki

Naohito Urabe

Tracy Fleming

Yumi Toyotomi



Akinari Kaneko

Bohai Shuǐniú

Chuya Yagami

Eddie Orsino

Jiyuu Mochizuki - [VOTES 16]

Lady Midas - [VOTES 1]

Mateo Feliz Oliveira

Tiago Rodrigues de Andrade

Valerie Ortiz

Yoshinobu Date - [VOTES 2]












When the votes had been tallied, a green light bathed across the makeshift trial room. A flurry of confetti flew around in the air as Laurel clapped with a smile.

"Congratulations everyone, you were correct in your deduction!" Laurel spoke cheerfully and took a stand on the throne, giggling all the while. "The blackened of this practice trial and the culprit of Ayano Minami was none other than Jiyuu Mochizuki! How exciting is that?"

"Not just that, you've identified the Second Reserve's involvement in this case…" Barneby praised with a formal bow, "and also took the effort to piece together the mystery of the GHA's many puzzle pieces. Truly all worked with grace and dignity, you should give yourself a round of applause for your excellent work."

No one clapped. No one even bothered to crack a smile or cheer. What was there to celebrate about? No one could feel pride from this mess of a situation. I didn't bother to look Jiyuu in the eye after voting concluded. I knew from the sounds of her whimpered sobs that she was in a state I didn't want to see her in.

"There were a lot of… interesting votes however," Barneby did note with a look of disappointment, "for one I am quite saddened that Naohito Urabe and Miho Akatsuki didn't put their grudges aside and accept defeat. Instead they voted for Yoshinobu Date…"

Naohito glared and looked away, definitely blazing internally over the outcome.

Miho meanwhile just puffed her cheeks and pouted, "I take back what I said earlier old guy… I don't want to give you a makeover! You were a huge meanie in this trial!"

"Can't say I'll miss the call to fashion…" Yoshinobu shrugged as he stepped out of his podium, "as for the other votes?"

"For Lady Midas…" Laurel gave a passive laugh as she cracked her doll fingers, "she voted for herself. I suppose to make things interesting~"

"Stubborn till' the end, that's the old villain motto!" Midas cackled.

Barneby hooted with an annoyed look before continuing. "And as for the one individual who didn't vote… that would be-"

"Me…" Tiago confessed with a cracking tone. He attempted to keep his stance steady, but I can tell from the first word he spoke he was internally a mess. "I… I just couldn't vote for Jiyuu… or anyone else in the room after… after…"

He gritted his teeth, his lip still slightly bleeding from how hard he bit into it earlier.

Laurel continued to nod her head happily. "As for everyone else, including the culprit herself, you all made the unanimous and correct decision that Mochizuki-sensei was the culprit! The winner of this trial is the Spotless!"

I looked over at Jiyuu who supposedly voted for herself. Her face was downcast, her bangs and glasses covering her eyes as tears spilled down her face.

"So you were the culprit…" I muttered. I couldn't bother to give a sympathetic gaze. Someone like her… this wounded mess… if the murder was indeed real, there was no pity I could feel for her.

"I didn't mean for this…" Jiyuu's body tensed as she noticed the angry glares her way. She croaked as she shivered, "when I saw her body… I knew… I'd be assigned the culprit but… b-but I… I didn't know… what to do. I didn't want to b-be punished… so... I turned to the Second Reserve to help me tamper with things..."

More silence.

Jiyuu painfully looked at Naohito and Miho and began to plead with them. "I'm s-so sorry… p-please don't hate me for losing the t-trial… I didn't… I didn't… mean this for any of you… I t-truly didn't!"

Naohito couldn't stare at her. Either the bitterness of losing or the uneasiness of Jiyuu's tears forced him to turn his back on her.

Miho stared at Jiyuu in contrast, her eyes wide and fixed on the sobbing mess that was her teacher. She gave a small smile to it… and tilted her head. It didn't seem like Miho was even processing the hurt Jiyuu was going through.

And then of course Jiyuu turned to Tiago and broke down even more, "T-Tiago… I know you told me… to be better. I just… I can't be that way… I… I was always meant to be… nothing. I didn't deserve anything… to live… to… to even have my talent. I don't want it! I don't… deserve to be here…"

"J-Jiyuu." Tiago's usual angry look softened into one of sheer guilt. "I failed you… I… I should've… should've…"

"Should've what?" Yumi called out with a nasty glare. "Worked harder to get us to vote wrong… so we would be punished?"

Tiago's face tensed as he realized what he was saying… but then Naohito gave a dangerous scowl as he glared at Yumi.

"Honestly, yeah…" Naohito blurted out with a clench of his fist, "I should've worked harder… been sneakier. D-Damnit! None of you deserved to win this trial! I… I worked so hard!"

"Woah kid… calm down…" Mateo tried to say, though he knew with how emotions were running high… that was impossible. "I know this sucks… but-"

"Sucks? THIS is the worst outcome for me!" Naohito gripped his messy hair and winced. "I'm about to get a disadvantage because of all of you! I… I didn't even want to come to Golden Laurel… but against my freaking… damn judgment… I did anyway and now… damnit… damnit!" Naohito gripped onto his face… his scowl deepening.

"I guess it isn't just prison boy either…" Miho pouted, as if about to throw a tantrum, "I'm gonna get a disadvantage too. This… This is so lame! I wanted to win a prizeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"

Tiago sighed as he looked painfully to the ground. "We need… to accept this. The debate is done, there is no changing the outcome. As the leader of the Second Reserve I… I failed us. I apologize…"

Despite suffering the worst defeat, Tiago seemed to take it the best despite the rage simmering under his stone faced expression . He channeled that anger to a single hateful glare to all of us…

…I met his gaze and crossed my arms. So this was the true nature of the Second Reserve. Bitter. Hateful. Spiteful. To be fair they were going to receive a disadvantage…

…but to think they were working so he's to get us punished. I couldn't even feel sorry for them.

"Now then… with the trial finally done, it seems we can go on with some explanations for the entire case…" Laurel nodded fondly, not even seeming to notice the blazing hot tension in the room, "for starters, you are correct that the Second Reserve was indeed tampering with things behind the scenes of this murder. Given that Mochizuki-sensei was the culprit, that was their only natural course of action to win the exam!"

"…so this whole time these guys were working together," Mateo gripped his jacket and looked to the side, "I didn't even figure four people were gonna work together."

"Since the Second Reserve consists of four people, of course they'd all work together to win this exam," Ayame sighed. "We already saw examples in the trial of other people tampering when they thought they were at risk."

All eyes glanced at Valerie who scoffed. "I only did what I thought I had to do. If Yumi was the culprit I was under potential punishment for a disadvantage. I would not allow that to happen if I was going to be finding a way out of this place for the group."

"But you did that for yourself bitch," Yumi rolled her eyes, "don't pretend there was some grander purpose. We know you're full of it."

Valerie looked dangerously close to almost shutting Yumi up, but another voice stopped her, that being Akinari.

"Hold on then… we know for a fact the Second Reserve helped to cover up for this case due to the disadvantage," Akinari nodded sternly, "but… what of the case itself? We had been going back and forth on the purpose of this entire case and if it was real…"

"Ah yes… it comes down to this question," Barneby hooted and had a nod, "what was the point indeed to make you do this exam? For starters… it was to test everyone's cooperative skills with their partners… and showcase how the future trials and exams will go from here if one does decide to kill."

"It's as we explained before…" Laurel giggled, "it was just a test… a test to set things in motion for all of your hard work."

"Blah-blah-BLAH~" Freyja gave her own smirk as she opened her cloudy umbrella, "we know this was all a test for future trials already! But what about Jiyuu?! What about this being real!?"

"Oh r-right… is it true…? That Jiyuu… killed Ayano?" Trace couldn't even finish his words, the disbelief in his voice forced him to quiet. "We talked about how it's likely this was based on a real murder… right? In that case… was Ayano a real person and Jiyuu… killed her?"

All eyes turned to Jiyuu… who only could painfully clench her fist as she shook. There was a horrific gloom over her head… the kind that could darken the entire room with how hopeless she looked. It was clear, no straight answer would be coming from her.

"Isn't it as you all found out during the trial?" Laurel tilted her head and for a brief second the smile on her face grew. "The files on Minami-san and Yuuki-san… the physical scars… all of it points to the key fact that yes… this was very much a real case."

Jiyuu flinched miserably at that.

Everyone else glanced away from her. Even I couldn't look at her now.

"So… she's a killer?" Chuya blinked as she tried to process how such a thing could happen without the world's knowledge. "But… what was the point of revealing all that. And why make these kids go through something so horrible?!"

"Have you not been paying attention?" Laurel's usual polite voice cracked into a monotone snarl. It was such a one eighty that I had to actually step back from how twisted her expression looked. "This entire trial was to find… the TRUTH of the GHA… and the HOPE within each and every one of you… as we stated before."

"The truth… is very important! It's real… tangible," Barneby explained cryptically, "our history is built on the legends and principles of Hope… and the GHA has helped foster that hope to breathe life into you Ultimate's! Which is why we need those very Ultimate's… the perfect semblance of Hope, to discover the truth and present it to both Madam Laurel and I."

"That's right, Baboo and me represent… The Judges Of Hope, where we cast down our judgment to what the truth behind Hope itself is!" Laurel smiled, "and the reason this is happening to you twenty specifically is because you have the skill, talent; and humanity, to achieve that goal."

"Hope takes many forms…" Laurel giggled, her black eyes dripping with the red petals of flowers placed inside the sockets. "It can be someone's hope for a better world that pushes society forward…"

I held my breath as Laurel glanced at me.

"Someone ELSE'S hope could be BURNING that very society to the ground," Laurel continued.

Yumi narrowed her eyes at being gazed upon by Laurel.

"And other people's hope… it's more personal…" Laurel giggled, "the hope to survive… to win… to do everything in your power to protect your human shell. That's the hope that was present in this trial… as the Second Reserve fought desperately to avoid the disadvantages they'd get for our game."

The entire Second reserve group quieted down and looked away. Jiyuu looked the most affected as she faltered and winced.

"As the Judges Of Hope…" Barneby explained, "this trial was meant for us to OBSERVE your findings… and verify them as either correct or not. And since we did indeed verify Jiyuu's position as the culprit… now the game can truly begin… whether the Supremes and SHSL's can face the truth presented about the GHA… and Jiyuu's HOPE."

"Is… that the point of this game?" Adam muttered in unease as he gripped his hood, "are you trying to use this to psychoanalyze us or something?"

"The point of any game is to win…" Laurel corrected with a smile, "despite us all being playmates… I sadly have to judge whatever truth you find. So if you kill… or find the truth of the GHA… either way we will fulfill that role by any means necessary and judge you all accordingly… and this trial was to show that!"

"The hell? You have no right to judge us!" Mateo did not look happy at this sudden crazy talk as he held up a fist.

"On the contrary," Barneby interrupted, "as Ultimates in this society… you are held by higher standards than the common folk… which means you are more susceptible for our judgment of hope. And in order to see the purest versions of yourselves… this game is a NECESSITY in the current way our world acts."

"A necessity…?" Casey sweat.

"The truth behind the GHA and your own souls is important for us to judge," Laurel nodded, "that is why me and Baboo will be patient to see all of you break… one by one. This death game will help us with speeding up the process however… which is why we need all of your participation… and show you what is to come for future trials. Case in point… its why we had this trial… as the first stepping stone to the truth behind-"

"I-I thought there didn't h-have to be a k-killing game!" Bohai whimpered as he shrank pathetically behind everyone.

"Yeah!" Mateo called out and stepped forward, "you've been talking a big game about judging us or whatever, but you forced us here to do some rando trial and investigate some murder! We were all perfectly happy just getting ready to work as teachers… and these kids deserve to be… I dunno… frolicking around with their friend groups or whatever! We don't have to take this!"

"Really now…?" Laurel paused… then thought on it.

"Hehehe… Hahahaha… HAHAHAHAHAHA!" Laurel's head snapped backwards as she clapped in her hand. The childish giggling from her disgusting voice box grew louder and louder in volume… as if someone was winding her up to produce a gargled horror of innocent laughter to our unease.

"What… the heck is wrong with her?" Mateo blinked as he stepped back.

"I think her voice box is broken…" Louise gave a thoughtful answer as she checked her pipe… which was clogged from the medical herbs.

"D-Does it have an off switch?" Freyja actually looked creeped out at the doll as she held her umbrella to protect her.

"Enough with your games!" Valerie shouted over the laughing as she pointed an accusing finger to the child. "All this talk about finding the truth and our 'pure selves'... seems to me as if you're trying to expose the GHA."

"Expose…?" Trace blinked in shock. "You mean… like…"

"Oh! Like exposing the GHA and other Ultimate's for their crimes?" Freyja perked up now as she glanced at Valerie, "it kinda does sound like that-"

"Not expose… JUDGE…" Laurel corrected as she leaned forward, "the world praises Ultimate's… praises the GHA. All of it… is quite fascinating to me as a doll… since I was made without feelings… without the ability to dream. To be honest… though you are my playmates and I want to see all of you live good lives… the glimmering vulnerability of your talents… expression of your emotions… the need to survive as a human… I want to study it very… very… VERY thoroughly. I want to see each of you fight to your last breath and break apart in this game… whether it be breaking apart when finding the truth of the GHA… or by breaking apart from a blade by a close friend…"

Barneby suddenly spoke next, his owl-like eyes growing dark as he smoothly picked up where Laurel left off, " matter what path this game takes… either deadly or peaceful… we want to JUDGE everything you do. That is the purpose for the trials within this Sanctuary… to find the TRUTH about the GHA… and the HOPE that people are hiding. In this case… the practice exam was your first step toward the truth, as it was to reopen a failed case, specifically the one of Madam Mochizuki… and the GHA's failure to the Golden Laurel and the HOPE the world tried to make."

Jiyuu looked horrified that the attention was back on her as she hugged herself tighter and hid behind the Second Reserve group.

"A failed case?" Midas repeated, looking all too eager to hear about this story.

"From the GHA to?" Freyja gasped, "what're you talking about? Did something like this actually happen before? Was I right that they covered this who shebang up?!"

"Correct." Barneby seemed to reminisce about something as he spoke. "We should start at the very beginning… that is of course… if Madam Mochizuki is ready to face exactly what she did… and remember the HOPE that she fought for."

Jiyuu said nothing, she was frozen from whatever horrors she was reliving in her head.

"Then I suppose we need to go back to the start…" Laurel's voice turned static and suddenly… both her and Barneby stood together as their eyes grew dark…

…and they told the story of Jiyuu Mochizuki…

A story… Jiyuu herself… wanted to erase from history.

Jiyuu found herself in a large room as strangers talked to one another.

She nervously sweat and looked around. She had woken up in a strange room earlier and was far away from home. She had no idea if this is how these GHA orientations go… but blacking out and appearing in some strange lobby was not how she figured her new life as a SHSL would start.

As everyone walked around and tried to figure out what was going on, Jiyuu barely made a peep and stayed in the back. She had no idea how to speak up and make a good first impression. Everyone here was so talented… true Ultimate's scouted because of their abilities… while she was just invited on a whim by the GHA for something as simple as a lottery. Knowing her… she'd probably screw this chance up. She should just keep quiet.

"Hey, you there! I don't think I've gotten to greet myself yet," a girl suddenly walked up and made Jiyuu flinch. "Woah?! Jumpy much?"

"S-Sorry!" She was already screwing this up bad… and this girl looked so fashionable!

"Ha, don't be…!" the girl waved away, "It's pretty weird that we randomly woke up here… but it helps me to pretend some of these people aren't sane and I feel better again."

"Not sane?" Jiyuu blinked.

"Don't worry, we're both the sane ones here," the girl smirked, "anyway, I think the GHA ceremony would start soon if we were all called together like this, so I wanted to introduce myself. It's Ayano Minami, I was invited to be the SHSL Weaver. Don't forget that! Hehe, what about you?"

Jiyuu was quiet. This girl was really talking to her so casually. Did she want to be friends? Jiyuu's heart raced at that but… did… she deserve to be approached like this?

"I'm… Jiyuu… Mochizuki," Jiyuu blushed and raised her hand to shake.

"Jiji then~!" Ayano beamed. "Let's be good friends!"

"The story begins with Madam Mochizuki and fifteen other students being invited to participate in Golden Laurel's grand opening five years ago… under the guise they'd be participating in the newest program with Supreme talent," Barneby explained as he stretched his wings wide, "of these students… among them was rising stars like Maimi Yuuki… a promising criminologist who was said to help pave a new future for justice."

"And also… poor Ayano Minami," Laurel took over, her breath ghostly quiet as she raised a pained finger, "a weaver of big dreams to support those she held dear… using her talent for profit… as well as using it to make new friends. Together… these three girls would be invited for the GHA's biggest program yet."

The two mascots suddenly began to twitch from their doll joints as they elegantly posed, Barneby now resting on Laurel's shoulder, while Laurel did a curtsey, "but… their bright futures were snuffed out when… a strange game was forced upon them. They awoke in a facility… said to be where Golden Laurel Sanctuary was… and made to perform in a glorious killing game that would claim the lives… of many. I'm sure you all remember the… first game that started way back then."

I let my glare lower as I noticed other people doing the same. The adults especially looked troubled. How could anyone forget that first game…? The… first tragedy?

And to think now… there was another under the GHA's watch. To think it would after they promised… to never have that happen again…

I couldn't take such a fact lying down. I contorted a hateful glare at the two mascots as I scoffed. "And what of the GHA's grand opening? There was a broadcast where everything went perfectly fine for Golden Laurel Sanctuary's first day, and they showcased a ton of Supremes and SHSL's thriving together in harmony! Never in that broadcast was there talk of sixteen students going to the opening specifically."

"It's simple… the Golden Laurel broadcast and its opening… was a front for the cover up of another game behind the scenes," Laurel giggled, her head snapping to the side.

"A… A front?" My heart stopped. "Are you saying they… knew?"

"Not just knew," Laurel continued, "they did everything in their power to ensure Mochizuki-sensei and her class wouldn't be found… in other words. The GHA knew a death game was happening… and to save face for their image… they tricked the world by hosting another opening right after. Of course, some newspaper establishments caught on to the original opening… but they were simply shut down… erased from history."

"This would mean… NO ONE would remember the existence of the sixteen missing students," Barneby sighed, "no one but the families… and of course Madam Mochizuki."

Jiyuu's shoulders grew heavier as she almost fell down. She caught herself, but it looked like whatever weight she was carrying was unbearable."

Ayame spoke next, appearing unshaken by the revelation, but curious all the same. "I'm not that surprised the GHA specifically covered up the game Jiyuu was in with a successful opening. They wouldn't want the world to realize despair still existed out there…"

"That's right, the head honcho's covered it up," Barneby explained easily, "many believe that this Sanctuary had a promising start and would beautifully continue the legacy of Hope's Peak… but the initial start was anything but promising. It only repeated the events of the Hope's Peak killing game… and Madam Mochizuki here… was the only survivor."

"What the fuck…" Yumi growled, "this meek bitch somehow survived a death game?"

Laurel's smile twitched at the corners as she spoke gleefully, now leaning forward with eager interest. "Not just survived. In the conditions of her game… Mochizuki-sensei… won her murder."

...Ayano bitterly frowned, and her swirling eyes glared at the figure. "… you finally decided to show up."

Jiyuu's eyes widened as she stared at Ayano's dark eyes. The way she was staring at her… the murderous look in her face. All of it was directed right at her. "A-Ayano?"

"Jiji…" Ayano sighed and clutched something behind her back, "I'm really glad you came here. I was starting to get worried that… you had left me for a little bit."

"Ayano! I'd… I'd never leave you!" Jiyuu tried to reassure her as she stepped forward, "what's the problem… a-are you scared of the motive?"

Ayano bitterly looked to the side, her eyes being covered by her bangs for a brief moment as she teared up.

"Don't worry…" Jiyuu murmured as she bit her lip. She had no idea how to comfort someone after the horrors of the last trials… but she would have to try for her. "We… We will be okay, we just have to look harder for an exit and-"

"There is no exit." Ayano's blunt words made Jiyuu jump. There was a disgusted sound in her voice… a look of pure hatred and fear.

"We've been stuck here for weeks… the GHA… the police… none of them are coming for us…" Ayano scoffed as she started to shake, "how long until another murder is about to happen? How long before another person falls? I… I can't handle that, I can't do another trial! I… I just want the killings to stop!"

"A-Ayano…" Jiyuu wanted nothing more than to take that pain away from her friend. But she couldn't speak… Jiyuu failed to find the words to say.

She… she never knew what to say in moments like this.

…but she had to try, for Ayano. "Please… I know you're scared. But I won't let a-anything happen to you Ayano. I want to protect you…"

Ayano seemed to wince at those words as her arm shook. Whatever she was holding behind her back looked… to hurt her now.

"Ayano p-please, I know it's hard to believe but…" Jiyuu clutched her bracelet… the beaded one they made together, "we've come far enough to where… I really think we can get out together. We can do it… only if… you believe that we can. Believe… i-in the HOPE that maybe… we will escape one day."

Ayano was silent… more so then ever before now.

Jiyuu flinched, she really hoped they weren't messing this whole thing up. "How can I help you…? P-Please just tell me and… I'll do it. I'll do anything you want…"

The lake shone nearby… the light reflecting off the water and revealing Ayano's face.

Jiyuu froze…

…Ayano's face… it…

…her eyes had no light in them…

…and she pulled out…


"There's… one thing you could help me with… Jiji…"


Finally Jiyuu spoke, her eyes trembling as she sobbed. "N-No… I-I didn't win! I didn't win at all! I…I lost EVERYTHING!" Her shattering screams were a testament to the pain she carried as she fell to her knees. Anyone could realize right away what it meant.

"Oh really?" Laurel murmured, gazing down at Jiyuu's quivering body. "And what did you lose? If anything… you fought to the bitter end against Ayano's HOPE to kill you."

Jiyuu winced as if she was about to be stabbed. "No… N-No… it wasn't hope at all… Ayano… s-she… she… was terrified! She wanted to leave a-and I… I…"

"You were her target," Eddie summarized with a strict puff of air, "during the game you were friends with her weren't you? … and she betrayed you to live…"

"I…" Jiyuu's hesitance for an answer told everything as she squeezed her eyes shut. "I… I… thought she…" But there was nothing… nothing could be said about Ayano's betrayal that wasn't painfully obvious from Jiyuu's tears.

"During the game… Ayano and Madam Mochizuki formed a close bond." Barneby flew nearby Jiyuu who stiffened at the ominous owl's words. "One could say they supported each other during the horrors of their game.. But… once enough bodies started to drop… the toll it took on poor Ayano grew too much to bear…"

"Bit by bit…" Laurel emphasized with the creaking of her doll joints, "the weight of despair grew heavier and heavier for Ayano… until finally when the next motive was unveiled…" Laurel's head snapped into place with a sickening "click" as she smirked, "she broke."

The room was deathly quiet. I just forced my own gaze away from Jiyuu who was crying nearby.

"She attacked Madam Mochizuki without remorse," Barneby revealed with a twisted smile, "Ayano… didn't believe HOPE existed in that place. So she fought to the death for her own survival. But of course… Madam Mochizuki wasn't content to just die… she… wanted to live."

Jiyuu teared up in horror as she shoved Ayano back.

But even after crashing into the ground, Ayano shot back up and grabbed Jiyuu's leg before she could run. The two girls crashed near the lake and Ayano gripped Jiyuu by the hair to drown her in the water.

"I NEED TO LEAVE!" Ayano screamed, her eyes twisting in despair as she shivered, "I HAVE TO MUCH WAITING FOR ME OUT THERE! SO JUST LET ME HAVE THIS!"

Jiyuu choked… water was rushing into her lungs. The world was getting darker and the pain was growing too much to bear!



Why was her best friend doing this to her?!

Why… WHY?!

Jiyuu thrashed, screamed, and then grabbed something hard and sharp in the water.

With a hard swing, pumped on adrenaline and fear, Jiyuu smashed Ayano's head in with it. There was a scream, but Jiyuu in an attempt to drown out the sounds hit her again.

Something was in her way.

She hit it again.

Her vision was red… something was flying near her… blood?

She hit it again… it was still screaming… this thing was still screaming…

Where was she…? What happened? She didn't even know.

She just knew she was about to die… so she hit it again…

…and again…

…and again…

Her vision blurred, she felt something scratch painfully into her shoulders.

And then she woke up.

She dropped the rock in her hand… bathed in blood.

"I… I…" Jiyuu's throat squeezed shut. What did she just do…?

What… did she just do?


"So that's when… she became the culprit," Akinari nodded with a look of horror, "it seems your account is different from the murder trial we actually solved. Ayano and Jiyuu met at a lake… and apparently Ayano tried to drown Jiyuu when the scissors didn't work."

"The previous killing game was… slightly different in some ways," Barneby revealed, "but the conclusion remained the same. Ayano was dead… and Madam Mochizuki was the culprit. What happened next well… that is when Maimi Yuuki plays a role in our story."

"Maimi…" Freyja tilted her head, "hey who even is she exactly? I feel like we talked about her in the case but she never really became all that important."

"Oh no… Yuuki-san is VERY integral to this story," Laurel continued with a faint smile, "because if Maimi-san was fighting against Mochizuki-sensei's HOPE to survive… Yuuki-san was ON her team… just like the Second Reserve."

"On… Jiyuu's team?" Mateo blinked, "dude what are you even talking about? What purpose does any of this stuff serve to know?"

"It sounds like its to show the duality of Maimi and Ayano…" Midas giggled, "and how Maimi… saved a life… of a close friend by helping her WIN her trial."

"W-Win…?" Trace took a few steps back. "No way… if she won then…" He couldn't finish, but one could tell he looked serious when he heard that.

"If it's anything like the rules of the first game then…" Yoshinobu quieted down and glanced at Jiyuu.

If the woman was trembling before, now she was violently shaking. Her pupils shrank as she took a step back, and then another, as if she was trying to plan her escape from the group's dangerous looks at her.

But there was nowhere to go as Laurel's once innocent giggle took a demonic turn and she briefly turned static from her voice box. "Mochizuki-senseiiiiii~ do you want us to tell them what you did? What Yuuki-san did?"

"A-Aaaaaaa…" Jiyuu covered her face as she trembled.

"We got it… wrong?"

"S-Say what? This shit… this shit has gotta be joking! Maimi fucking helped us out!"

"M-Maimi… Maimi WHAT HAPPENED?!"

Panicked voices blurred together as all eyes went toward Maimi. Maimi stood steady, her eyes closed as if accepting her fate with a shameful smile that was clearly forced.

As for them… the figure…

…for Jiyuu…

…she stared at the results in horror and glanced at Maimi… the entire trial she had done nothing but try and protect Jiyuu. And now…

…now she was about to pay for Jiyuu's silence.

"Looks like you brats made the WRONG choice!" Monokuma cackled, "the actual killer of Ayano whatever blah blah blah... was that weirdo Jiyuu Mochizuki!"


"It was that bitch?!"

"We… We should've stuck with our train of thought! WE HAD HER PICKED ORIGINALLY!"

"Well you didn't!" Monokuma grinned before letting out an evil, "meaning… I get to tear every single one of you pathetic losers apart!"

Jiyuu couldn't breathe… she had to force in every breath with a heavier exhale to even take in she was getting oxygen… because whatever air that did exist in the room was fading away at everyone starting to scream in panic.

But the only one who didn't… was Maimi…

In the hell scape of everyone's screams blending together, Maimi gazed at Jiyuu softly.

"M-Maimi… w-why?!" Jiyuu cried, "why did you cover for me?! It… it w-was all my fault! All of it! So… please… I'm s-so sorry…! Please don't leave me… please don't do this to me!"

Maimi said nothing as a chain dragged a student away. Perhaps she was struggling herself with what she did… with what was going to happen to all of them.

"Jiyuu… look at me," Maimi urged, her eyes tense as another student was dragged away.

Jiyuu couldn't… her horrified eyes were trained at those she called friends… being forcibly taken to their demise.

"Jiyuu please…" Maimi's voice reached this time despite the screams. "Please look at me…"

Jiyuu trembled and forced herself to stare at her.

And then Jiyuu's eyes widened in horror as a chain snapped around Maimi's neck.

"N-No…" she whimpered.

"Jiyuu…" Maimi held the chain, and then felt it pull. "It's going to be o-okay."

"N-No-Nonononono!" Jiyuu wanted to cover her eyes, but she was forced to watch… forced to see…

…Maimi's last smile as she was dragged away.


"So it wasn't just Jiyuu… Maimi helped get her entire class killed." Eddie realized, looking bitter from the reveal. "That's how someone wins the death game. Or how the blackened wins anyway."

"W-WHAT?!" Bohai screamed, looking horrified.

"W-Why the hell would Maimi help the culprit win?!" Casey blinked in shock. He couldn't comprehend someone sacrificing themselves for something… so worthless?! "She basically got all those people killed so some stranger would win?"

"Poor Yuuki-san…" Laurel giggled, "that poor girl was filled with the HOPE that Mochizuki-sensei would never do such a thing like murder Minami-san. She fought so hard to protect Mochizuki-sensei… even if deep down she knew that she was the culprit. Perhaps she felt a fondness for her from afar… a certain love… or care… which Mochizuki-sensei exploited in her silence to help win the trial."

"I… I didn't exploit…" Jiyuu shivered in horror.

"I see." Ayame had to look away, her stoic look growing heavier than ever. "You never spoke up to stop Maimi from making the wrong conclusion… you just… let her save you and get the class killed."

"So Miss Mochizuki seriously killed… h-her class?!" Trace's eyes widened as he. "And the GHA just knew about all of this? Her whole class vanished I mean… That's… That's way too many people to not notice it!"

"Twelve innocent souls to be specific," Laurel emphasized as she stared at Jiyuu, "twelve brilliantly talented people… that Jiyuu slaughtered and the GHA erased from history. Anyone who tried to search for their existence was snuffed out. I'm sure seasoned detectives like Date-sensei understand."

Yoshinobu was quiet as he glanced away. I wonder deep down… if he had try to search into this before the GHA…

"Twelve hopeful souls… who will never see the light of day again," Barneby continued with a somber look, "all due to the GHA… and Madam Mochizuki. And she came out of that experience with a new title… gifted by the GHA for her bravery…"

"A… new title?" I muttered and looked over at Jiyuu. "Do you mean… her talent?"

"That's right… she was awarded with her victory… as the Supreme Level Survivor," Barneby revealed. "For in order to be a Supreme in this society… one must build their entire being off that concept and devote everything to it… something which Madam Mochizuki did… flawlessly."

All eyes went back to Jiyuu. I especially took great notice of her after that. So… her title was for surviving the game. But… why would the GHA do something so sick? Why bother with the title as if that would fix anything? It… wasn't a testament to Jiyuu's skill… it was a reminder of the horror she committed.

How… did the GHA let this happen?

"I don't deserve it…"

Laurel tilted her head at Jiyuu's comment, "oh? And why not? You earned it fair and square, you-"

"I-I DON'T WANT IT!" Jiyuu snapped and screamed, clutching her neck, "I… I'd rather it be stripped of me! I… I don't want to be known for this! I only accepted it because… the GHA… they… t-thought I can do some good with it. But no good can come from a talent like t-this! I… I don't want to be a S-Supreme if it means going through another game!"

"And yet here you stand alive, with your talents ready to help these children." Laurel suddenly spoke, her grin widening. "If you didn't mean for that to happen… why are you here now? Why did you never say a word for Maimi to stop her train of thought? Why do you bear the title that defines your existence… as a killer?"

"I-I didn't… I didn't mean to…!" Jiyuu sniffed, her broken cries struggling to form coherent words. Whatever composure she had as an adult crumpled below even the kids around her as she sobbed. "I… I just… I didn't want that to happen! Ayano… she… she… and Maimi… I didn't know either of them would do that! I didn't want her to do that! And… I just wanted to live! I didn't… I didn't think any of that would happen!"

Barneby flapped his wings as if to silence the girl from crying. "You say this with such passion, however, are you really regretful for all you did… or did you intend to just forget about it all? It seems during the-"

"I-I NEVER FORGOT!" Jiyuu screamed, her eyes watering. It was the first time I'd seen her angry, almost defensive. "I wake up everyday… and I see them! Their faces… j-judging me! Cursing me! I swear… I-I-I didn't want anyone to die! I-It was a-all forced onto us! The death g-game! The e-executions! I wasn't h-happy about any of it!"

No one dared interrupt Jiyuu as she sobbed. Even I was unable to cut into her tear filled speech.

"I… I just did what I needed to survive…" Jiyuu's anger deflated as she sobbed, utterly broken. "Please… P-Please forgive me. I'm s-so sorry… I'm sorry."

She wept with endless "sorries" as she fell to her knees, no longer having the strength to even stand. We all could only watch her. What was there to do? She was too broken.

At least that was until Laurel giggled. "Amusing. The sheer emotional capability of humans is so fascinating and fun to witness, don't you think? It's beautiful to see how much you carry your friends in your memory. Do you truly feel the weight of their loss?"

Jiyuu sniffed, her eyes trained miserably to the floor. "Of course… e-every single second of the day. I see them… hear them screaming. S-See them being ripped apart. They… They call out for me… cursing me…"

Jiyuu's entire body looked as if it was detached from the scene. Whatever she was seeing… she was no longer with us. Somewhere in Jiyuu's eyes… she was in a different trial room… seeing different people… crying tears for a very different reason.

Jiyuu… wasn't with us… she had died long ago in that room… as a survivor. "I-It's torture! I… I didn't want any of that to happen. But then Ayano tried to kill me and… and I panicked! I didn't want her to kill me! I just… I-I wasn't thinking!"

"Because humans are selfish creatures…" Laurel mumbled happily. "It's so wonderful to see how selfish all of you are to live. For Minami-san, she destroyed the friendship you held dear… and you destroyed her in turn for self preservation. Humans… are so selfish aren't they?"

"The hell? Screw you!" Mateo suddenly shouted. All eyes turned to him as he bodily stepped forward. "Trying to call what Jiyuu did selfish. She was forced into that situation! She would never intentionally cause harm!"

"Oh no… she definitely intended for it all…" Laurel spoke amused. "She knew the rules of the class trial… what would happen if she won. Like any human she selfishly wanted to live. I'm not condemning her for that… she did her best, just as she did her best in this trial… and it was amazing to experience. This was Mochizuki-sensei's hope."

"J-Jiyuu's… hope?" Trace stammered.

"Yes… hope is not just a good thing… it's a cruel thing," Laurel continued, "one person's hope is another's despair. Jiyuu's hope was to survive… to live… but her hope killed everyone she knew. Hehe, that's Mochizuki-sensei's truth… her hope… that is why she is a Supreme being. Isn't that a lovely sight?"

"You're calling their deaths a lovely sight?" Valerie's hand twitched, "your disregard to human life knows no bounds. You're devoid of any purpose."

Laurel was quiet, and then giggled some more. "Perhaps I am… but this game will help me find my purpose. The purpose of being your villain… the one who society loathes. But that's okay… I'll selfishly carry on that role for you~ I'll carry all your hatred for me… because I accept that selfishness. I accept the hope and despair whole heartedly. Unlike the GHA… who manufactured putrid… disgusting hope to shovel to the masses, I want the raw… passionate hope of someone fighting for their purest self! The question is… will all of you be able to face yourself when the time comes for it? The few of you that have worse secrets than even Mochizuki-sensei here!"

I glanced at the others in the room, the ones who supposedly had worse secrets than Jiyuu? If she was a killer… then who else harbored such intent? Who here was just as bad as her?

I thought the Supremes I'd meet here would actually give me the tools needed to succeed, to finally make it in an environment where I was on the same level. But to think some of the adults here were just as bad as Jiyuu.

I couldn't trust any of them.

Suddenly, I could hear Laurel laugh again. "Ah… but we've been talking about tragedies long enough… it's time for another one to begin! You know what that means…?"

Jiyuu paled, her breath coming out in terrified gasp. "N-No…"

The older folks in the crowd looked similarly stressed. And for once, even Eddie actually looked… disturbed.

"Hmph… so it's that time then," Eddie muttered as he crossed his arms.

"…" Yoshinobu didn't say anything but gave a resigned nod.

"Jiyuu…" Tiago tried to appear focused, yet unsteady.

"Why does everyone look so scared?" Miho tilted her head, confused as the youngest.

"Because it's about to happen… that fucking punishment like in the old games," Yumi recalled with a scoff. She looked the least affected by what was about to happen.

"…crap… so that's happening," Casey seemed to remember something as well as his jaw clenched. It was clear he wasn't ready to see this.

To be fair… none of us were. But if the adults already had a handle on it, I had to be ready to face this. I could see some of my peers were already preparing to look away, but I forced myself to watch as Laurel beamed with excitement.

"Yep!" Laurel grinned. "It's punishment time… and that comes with a fully packaged execution to boot!"

…my heart stopped.

E-Execution? That was a joke… right?

…then why did Laurel sound so excited?












"Madam Laurel please don't say such jokes," Barneby suddenly flew in with an exhausted sigh, "no there is not going to be an execution. This is still a practice trial after all. Having anyone actually die would be far too much for the very start of the game where everyone's getting their bearings."

"W-What…?" My words failed me for a moment. I stared at Laurel and Barneby. "So you were joking?"

"Baboo! You ruined the fun…" Laurel frowned, "but there's still a punishment that's gonna happen… something that mirrors the effects of an execution. So Mochizuki-sensei is still going to be used as an example so future culprits know what they are in for should they fail."

"But this was a practice trial!" Trace jumped in, looking concerned. "You assigned Miss Mochizuki as the culprit but you shouldn't be punishing her for something she didn't do-!"

"I believe she still killed someone," Laurel continued. "If anything an execution is long overdue, but she still won her last game… and given her existence as the Supreme Survivor I could never reverse a previously made verdict. So this will have to suffice."

Jiyuu's breathing grew heavier. "N-No… p-please don't do this… you can't-!"

"I can actually…" Laurel smiled sweetly. God the self satisfied look she gave made me want to almost throttle her throat. But her bright smile lit up the air as she got some sort of button. "I've been wanting to do this for so long Baboo! I can't wait!"

"N-No…" Jiyuu shuddered as tears poured out of her eyes. She curled up on the floor, appearing smaller than ever as she pleaded. "P-Please no…!"

"…d-don't cry! I-I'll protect y-you!" Bohai tried to step in.

"But from what…?" Casey looked beyond sick as he glanced away. "What's gonna happen to her?"

"Whatever it is, we can't just stand by and let it happen?" Tiago gave a rally cry as he also stepped forward, "I refuse to let Supremes and Ultimate's undergo such despairful treatment! This game won't continue!"

"Are you certain?" Barneby suddenly glowered as his wings stretched to a rather imposing size. "Because you'll find that the rules of this game aren't so easily broken without immediate consequence."

Something was wrong with that owl's voice… it sounded like… it was preparing for something?

"The walls…!" Suddenly, Ayame pointed out something clicking on the walls. It looked like… guns?

"T-The hell? Those are machine guns?!" Naohito took a step back from seeing the weaponry pointed right at him.

"No one takes another step!" Valerie ordered, "no doubt those things are programmed to fire if we step out of line."

"Don't have to tell me twice…" Midas actually stayed in line as her eyes stared over all the guns. "There's like twenty different bazingas here!"

"One for each of us no doubt…" Akinari paled, "no one do anything rash now-"

"B-But Jiyuu-!" Mateo protested.

But there was nothing we could do. With the guns trained on us, ready to fire… we all could only watch as Laurel laughed and slammed her finger onto the button near her throne. "We've prepared a very special punishment for Jiyuu Mochizuki!"

"N-No… p-please no!" Jiyuu paled, the metal collar seemingly digging into her throat and threatening to choke her. "I didn't mean to! I-I didn't! Please b-believe me!"

"Let us give it everything we have!" Barneby spoke up as well, her voice booming as he landed on Laurel's arm. "Take notice of the HOPE that Jiyuu Mochizuki tried to attain through their murder and the crimes she has evaded for far too long!"

"P-Please-!" Jiyuu frantically stumbled back, tears spilling out of her eyes as suddenly a large chain snapped around her fragile neck. "SOMEONE SAVE M-ME! ANYONE! PLEASE! P-PLEASE DON'T LET THEM DO THIS!"

She reached out to the adults. Eddie did nothing. Valerie clenched her fist. Akinari forced his gaze to the side. Bohai started to sob. Mateo gritted his teeth at being unable to do a thing.


"J-Jiyuu…!" he choked, his eye straining with horror as he made a futile attempt to reach out. But it was useless… it was all useless.

"It's time for your judgment at last, Jiyuu Mochizuki!" Laurel and Barneby said in unison, their cold voice crackling in the air. "It's… PUNISHMENT TIME!"


With one last scream… Jiyuu was taken from us… and dragged into another room. The last thing I could see from her eyes.

It was swirling despair… and terror…

A pixelated version of Jiyuu was being dragged away by Barneby.



The screen went dark.

Jiyuu closed her eyes painfully as she struggled to breathe. All around her were voices… voices… voices… each one discussing her actions.


"She's insane…"

"A deranged killer…"

Voices… voices… voices…

Jiyuu trembled. The darkness grew too much to bear and she finally opened her eyes. With this, she felt her heart drop as she looked at where she was.

She was in another trial room… but not like the one she was just in with the students and teachers. No, the faces around her were ones she knew all too well…

The faces… of her class.

All of them were dolls, their faces meticulously designed to mimic the faces she tried so hard to forget. Their glassy eyes… devoid of life… blazed from the depths of hell as they contorted their fingers to point at her.


Jiyuu began to hyperventilate as suddenly a podium right next to her suddenly turned red. The doll that was standing there began to heat up from their collar until the head popped off, leaving a melted pile of mesh and goo behind as the body fell…

…the first of many.

When the first doll body fell… Jiyuu felt her neck almost split apart. It wasn't her imagination, a burning shock emitted from her collar. She screamed and gripped it tightly, her eyes wide.

Then another doll body exploded at the other end of the courtroom, bits and pieces of its face slamming into Jiyuu's podium. When that doll died… another burning shock snapped Jiyuu's eyes wide open to see the terror that was about to happen.


Jiyuu started to shake in terror as she felt the podium she was shackled to start to move. Like a gun chamber, the trial room spun and spun… faster and faster. All the while voices blurred around her… and more doll heads popped off from the superheated collars.

And with each death, her throat was electrified… burning hotter… and hotter. The skin felt as if it was sizzling.


Jiyuu was getting sick… her heart throbbing around in her chest. She clung to the podium as tears blurred in her eyes. Red lights… were blurring around her… voices screaming at her… heads flying off… her own neck sizzling and popping with pressure as the electricity voltage made her scream.


The trial room was spinning so fast that Jiyuu's stomach started to give into the pain as she almost threw up. Whether it was from guilt, the electricity, or the speed of the podium spinning… she started to black out.


Jiyuu… felt her eyes getting heavy… each electric shock sending her deeper into the void of near death. The room blazed a blinding red…

…she screamed.

"Murderer… murderer…"



Jiyuu's eyes opened.

She was alive.

Every single doll in the room had exploded or melted from their collars. The faces of her classmates… the faces… of her friends.

Jiyuu sobbed, a guttural ugly sound spitting out of her throat as her knees buckled and whined from the pressure of standing… of even being alive…

…so many destroyed faces…

…so… so many…

Jiyuu's tears burned her vision… she just… wanted this to stop.

…she just wanted to live.


Jiyuu's eyes widened. The tears didn't save her from seeing the last doll standing at their podium.

Maimi Yuuki.

Maimi's face… her eyes. They glared daggers at Jiyuu… and lifted an accusing finger.

The words said… the words that Maimi Yuuki specifically said… it forced a bloated… fearful shriek out of Jiyuu's throat


Maimi Yuuki's face snapped and crackled with electricity before it popped off the doll's body.

That was the last thing Jiyuu saw before she herself got one more horrific shock in her burning neck… and passed out.

Why… Why was Jiyuu crying…?

Why… did she care if this hurt…?

…she deserved this…

…she didn't deserve anything but this pain…


…because… if Jiyuu knew one thing…

…she wasn't innocent at all…

…she was a murderer.

…a disgusting… guilty… murderer.

…I just couldn't watch it anymore.

As the punishment went on, my eyes grew heavier and heavier until I forced them away. I could only keep my eyes on Eddie who had crossed his arms and was staring at the punishment with a forced look. How he could even stomach what he was seeing was beyond me.

I forced my gaze instead to glare at the doll. There was this irritating smile plastered on her as her gaze was focused on the punishment. She was clearly… studying Jiyuu's suffering, and with each moment of pain… her smile grew wide. It was the smile of a monster… one that I would definitely have the pleasure of seeing burned at some point.

But that time wasn't now as I bitterly looked away and heard the screams finally stop. Jiyuu's punishment was over. A ding sounded and the chain that had dragged Jiyuu away earlier suddenly dropped back into room with Jiyuu's body.

When I looked over at her, she was weakly laying on the floor, her eyes closed… and her neck scorched and slightly sizzling. It was an awful sight… but despite the injuries… I could tell she was alive.

"Alright we're all done here!" Laurel clapped as the machine guns went away, "you can all-"

No one listened to the doll. Most of us ran up to Jiyuu the second the guns went away. Tiago was there first, holding her body, followed by Lousie and Akinari who positioned themselves accordingly to check. But realistically, what could they do to make up for the horror that Jiyuu just went through?

"I-Is she alive?!" Bohai teared up in horror as he tried to survey the damage.

We all got our answer when the last thing I noticed from her was her mouthing the words "I'm sorry" over and over again.

"Alive… but injured," Louise nodded, "it seems the doll kept her word about it being a practice punishment… but the wounds inflicted are very much real…"

Wincing at that, I looked away, instead glaring at the doll, who appeared unfazed by the torture.

"It appears that everyone's ignoring me… what a shame…" Laurel bowed her head, but she didn't sound sad, "well I guess that means the practice trial is officially concluded here. With this matter over with and the punishment received… we can now move onto the official start of the School Semester! This is where everyone will finally be able to explore their living quarters and classrooms… and also be able to find the truth of the GHA!"

"And I also assume where you'll have us kill each other?" Louise raised a brow, unimpressed.

"Of course!" Laurel nodded sweetly, "and since the official game happens in there… it's time for us to hand out the disadvantages the Second Reserve will all receive for failing this Entrance Exam!"

I looked at the ones paired with Jiyuu. Tiago and Naohito did not look happy, while Miho was still giggling slightly from that punishment she saw earlier. Miho's eyes did look sad, but she actually was more interested in the sizzling coller Jiyuu was wearing.

"So here is the disadvantage for the second reserve pairings!" Laurel giggled as her voice went dark, "in the event that a second reserve group member is killed in the official school semester, the culprit of their murder won't have to undergo a trial and risk execution! They can simply graduate from Golden Laurel Sanctuary… free of charge!"

"W-What…?" Naohito spoke first, his eyes trembling in shock as he clutched his jacket," w-what the actual FUCK?!" You're seriously putting such a disadvantage onto all of us?!"

Tiago looked extremely disgusted at the mascots as he grit his teeth, "not only that… but onto Jiyuu as well?! She's unconscious… she can barely defend herself!"

"All the more reason to go for her first I'd say," Laurel smiled, "although sadly since this is a disadvantage to you guys for failing to help Jiyuu get away with murder… all of you will share the same disadvantage as Second Reserves that you can't kill one of your own and leave. Instead you'd go through a trial instead like everyone else!"

"So… someone could kill me and leave easy peasy…?" Miho blinked as she looked around, "but if I killed grandpa in my group I'd go through a trial?"

"D-Don't use me as an example!" Tiago scoffed, "and furthermore-"

"T-That's BULLSHIT!" Naohito took over Tiago's words and stormed up to Laurel. "Why is it only us four getting the disadvantage when we aren't associated with Jiyuu's murder! WHY AM I EVEN PUT INTO THIS GROUP?! It should only be her getting that!"

"You're all paired with her…" Barneby thoughtfully spoke on Laurel's shoulder, "so everything that happens to your teacher is shared with a student. That goes for all pairings here. Throughout your time here… you all will share your victories, lessons, and defeats. Please do remember that.

Everyone stared at their own pairing, but I didn't bother to glance at Eddie. My attention was focused on the second reserve. Tiago… Naohito… Jiyuu… and Miho. Just why did they get such a horrific disadvantage so early in the game? And furthermore… who was going to use that for their advantage later…

I mean… if you only have to kill one of them to instantly leave, no trial required… then… that's essentially a free ticket out of here…


"No one better be thinking of coming after us!" Naohito suddenly snapped me out of my thoughts as he glared at each and everyone one of us, the paranoia in his gaze clear, "I mean it, I don't take threats on my life so casually! Anyone who lays a finger on me is gonna have it!"

Chuya looked nervous and tried to reassure the boy. "L-Let's settle down… no one was thinking of-"

"Are you fucking stupid?" Yumi spoke up with a smirk, "anyone of you fucking people would take that chance in a heartbeat I bet. Getting out without a trial…? That's a rare ticket that never happened in the first game. You'd be a fool to think no one is planning to use that."

"You say that… but it'd likely be you using that chance…" Adam narrowed his eyes as he shoved his hands into his pocket.

"I'm not brain dead to go attacking those morons given their guard is up now…" Yumi smirked as she looked away, "just saying it's obvious anyone with half a brain cell might use this to their advantage. Fuck it… I mean we could even send help back to the group if one of them were to die-"

"Woah… we're not having that happen!" Mateo frowned as he shook his fist, "I mean killing one of those four for a chance to leave is too much! You can't take that kind of thing back… no matter how much you want to."

"But it is a dilemma nonetheless…" Ayame nodded quietly as she looked away, "it essentially sets up an 'us vs. them' scenario where the Second Reserve are all targets for the 'main group'. It really is something we should keep in mind if anyone goes after them."

"T-Then… w-what do we do?" Bohai cried. "No one is going to hurt them r-right?"

"Better question is… will that disadvantage still protect us?" Eddie muttered as he crossed his arms, "it's not like just cause the Second Reserve are being served on a silver platter means we're safe."

"That's true…" Yoshinobu sighed and turned around, "remaining vigilant is the best course of action for our survival…"

"But that means… not trusting anyone…" Trace murmured in fear as he glanced around.

I glanced around as well. All of these people were either insane… or completely useless in some ways. Even with my hopes to change the world… this group of Ultimate's were not something I could see myself sticking with for long. All of them… could stab me in the back and cut my dreams short.

I could see that very thought process go through everyone as well as they nervously glanced around. Anyone of us… could take the plunge that Jiyuu did and try to kill.

…and I would NOT let myself lose this game.

"You're all very talented in your own right," Barneby encouraged… though his dark eyes made the speech feel hollow, "you will find a way to either win this game or persevere… and we will see if the GHA was right to place its HOPE into you. But until then… we must bid farewell."

"We shall see you in the classroom~" Laurel grinned before pushing another button.

Suddenly the collars made that ominous beeping sound and plunged another drug into our necks that made us slowly pass out. I watched as one by one… the kids fell… then some adults.

Naohito looked incredibly frustrated and tried to charge Laurel before falling unconscious. Miho was giggling in disbelief before she clutched her bag and slept. Tiago tried to reach Jiyuu and then passed out as well.

Chuya accepted the moment and let herself fall to the ground. Casey winced and fell near her.

Mateo struggled to stay awake for a few seconds but seemed to accept his fate when he saw Ayame pass out right away.

Bohai caught Louise's exhausted body as she fell unconscious before he slipped into a tearful sleep as well.

Trace… who had looked incredibly frazzled and panicked from all the reveals… actually tried to tug on his collar in fear before he fell unconscious. Akinari saw this and winced in shame for not being able to help as he succumbed to the drug.

Midas giggled and let herself go under. Freyja could sense she was about to be drugged so she curled up on the floor before she fell asleep.

Yoshinobu's eyes closed as his burdened body leaned on his cane. Adam accepted the whole thing the easiest as he just fell back.

Valerie grimaced and fell away from us… but Yumi glared hateful daggers my way before her head hit the ground.

That just left me and Eddie. I found myself being the first to lose grip on reality as my eyes flickered shut. The last thing I saw was Eddie being taken down by the drug as he winced and closed his eyes. Laurel and Barneby both laughing at our fallen states…

…and that's when I passed out myself.

There was no way to know what would happen after this…

I couldn't even sort out my feelings on the situation… how I had started the day expecting to attend Golden Laurel Sanctuary… only to end up in a trial that ruined my very view of the organization.

But I knew… whatever dreams I had planned now… they'd have to wait.

I needed to survive…

…I NEEDED to win.

And I wouldn't let any of them get in my way.

Surviving Participants



Kokoro Takano (SHSL Student Council President)

Adam Faulx (SHSL Lucky Student)

Ayame Fuse (SHSL Shogi Pro)

Casey Rosario (SHSL Reality TV Star)

Freyja Dahlström (SHSL Conspiracy Theorist)

Louise Annabelle Bogweather (SHSL Doctor)

Tracy "Trace" Fleming (SHSL Pharmacist)

Yumi Toyotomi (SHSL Jack Of All Trades)


Eddie "Ed" Orsino (Supreme Level Casino Owner)

Akinari Kaneko (Supreme Biochemist)

Bohai Shuǐniú (Supreme Level Marine Biologist)

Chuya Yagami (Supreme Child Caretaker)

Lady Midas (Supreme Level 'Villian')

Mateo Feliz Oliveira (Supreme Daredevil)

Valerie Ortiz (Supreme Drill Instructor)

Yoshinobu Date (Supreme Detective)

(Second Reserve)

Jiyuu "JiJi" Mochizuki (Supreme Level Survivor) [DISADVANTAGE]

Tiago Rodrigues de Andrade (Supreme Level Governor) [DISADVANTAGE]

Naohito Urabe (SHSL Traceur) [DISADVANTAGE]

Miho Akatsuki (SHSL Pyrotechnican) [DISADVANTAGE]

Chart Key

Alive - Normal Text

Killer - (K)

Victim - (V)

# - Chapter of Death

Ex. Candle - Grand Procrastinator (V1) = Victim Chapter 1

{Author's Note}

This is the end of the prologue... oh my god.

I really hope you guys enjoy what I've done... there were times I doubted my ability to write these chapters but the support, reviews, and theorizing really made it all worth while and I PROMISE you... the only reason any of this was possible was due to your support. Seriously the love is so appreciated and I will try and carry that in my writing.

BUT THATS THE PROLOGUE, WAS THE CULPRIT IMPOSSIBLE TO GUESS...? IT FELT THAT WAY TO ME! Truthfully I worry that the true culprit of this case wasn't really that easy to guess but I hope people were able to follow along with the thought process. That's honestly what I wanted the most... for the murder to at least be understandable because the way I write is confusing and FULL of errors.

In other news... I still hope you guys liked it. I planned a lot of things like the crime scene switch... the mailing boxes... the tampering with everyone. I hope it wasn't to crazy to follow along with.

Then there's freaking the Second Reserve... the group is still in the game but I have plans for them. As you can see some of those plans include giving them a Disadvantage! I had plan for their involvement in the prologue case for so long and I really hope I did them all justice. Stay tuned for more because I have a lot of idas for them.

And speaking of someone in the second reserve... Jiyuu... oh poor Jiyuu. Naturally she isn't dead, but she might as well be seen as having it worse off! I wish I wrote her more in the spotlight but her thing had always been shivering in the shadows behind everyone else and I hope that didn't hinder people's ability to guess the culprit, which I know it didn't with some people in the server! I can't wait to write more for her! She was a heavy inspiration for how this prologue chapter was going to turn out so three cheers for her!

I hope I've been writing everyone to at least a satisfying extent. I worry some characters got more screen time then others but that will be rectified in Chapter 1... which has no set release date. Honestly sanctuary will be taking a back seat while I focus exclusively on Gold House these next coming months. I promise I'll definitely come back... but for now that story will take priority and I'll make sure when I get back to this one it has some good writing to actually back it up.

For now I apologize for how UNGODLY LONG this entire chapter was and I just hope you all enjoyed it! See you... hopefully soon and share your thoughts on whatever!

Take Care