Awakening

Chapter XLVII: Awakening

XxX

Kirigiri

My eyes slowly drifted open as the world around me resolved into focus. I felt a strange prickling at the side of my head and raised my hand to the source of the pain. When I lowered it, my glove was dotted with blood. My eyes widened as I quickly stood up and began examining the room. Everything looked identical to how it had the night before. I turned towards the door, freezing as I caught sight of Naegi's prone form. I quickly knelt and placed my hands on his carotid, my breath releasing as I felt a pulse. A quick examination sufficed to reassure me that he was unwounded. Now that I'd checked on his safety, I needed to check on the safety of the others. I tensed as I took my electroID from my pocket, already dreading the death which I was sure had already occurred. When I flicked it on, I could barely believe my eyes: the red light in the upper left corner was on. Nobody had died. WIth two minutes left, the death which needed to happen, which I was sure would happen, had yet to occur.

I pushed back my fear and continued to examine the room. Whoever had knocked Naegi and I out had wanted something. I would just have to find it. Asahina was missing from the room: why? When had she left? I walked towards the back of the room where she had been sitting in our last moments before I collapsed and knelt by the back wall, trying to search for something I could use. As I caught sight of a faint mark on the wall, two things happened in quick succession: my electroID buzzed, and I heard a faint voice from behind me.

"Kyouko? What happened?"

XxX

Asahina

It's so cold here. All I can see is an endless darkness. Lights dance across the blackness, but they vanish just as quickly whenever I try to look directly at them. Part of me wants to run, to escape from here, but I know I shouldn't. I'm here for a reason. Everyone will be saved because of me. That's what she wanted, isn't it? That's why, once everyone else was gone, she told me to follow her and her messenger. I can't run anymore, even if I wanted to. My muscles don't respond when I try to move them. My body is numb, unresponsive, like I've been swimming through cold water for too long. It hurt at first, when I woke up here, but now there's no pain. Now there's just a feeling of holding on with my last bits of strength. But I've done what I needed to do. I don't need to hold on anymore. My eyes close, but the blackness is still here. It fills me, saturating me with freezing shadow. With one last breath, I let go.

XxX

Kirigiri

I turned towards Naegi.

"I am uncertain," I began. "I was hoping you could shed some light on that."

He opened his mouth to answer before he stopped suddenly to pull out his electroID. The red light in the corner was off.

"It seems someone's committed a murder."

As he said that, the screen in the corner of the room turned on, revealing Monokuma.

"Cutting it rather close, aren't we? 30 more seconds and I would have had to kill the lot of you! You did commit a murder, though, and you all know what that means! It's trial time! Now, since there was no body discovery announcement, you'll have to find the corpse yourself. I'm still giving you all a Monokuma file though. See you at the trial room! Upupupupupu..."

The screen shut off as I opened the Monokuma File and began reading.

" Monokuma file 5:

Victim: Aoi Asahina

Time of death: 6:59 am

Cause of death: Total organ failure, cardiac arrest

Miscellaneous: The medical condition of the victim's body and the precise method of death indicate that the victim's death took a long period of time, at least 2 and perhaps up to 6 hours. The victim was otherwise uninjured."

I closed the file and immediately began thinking. What kind of murder would have led to total organ failure and cardiac arrest? Even the worst of the poisons I had found wouldn't have led to that kind of death, especially without injuring Asahina in other ways. As I started to run through our collected poisons again, I could feel a possibility coming to mind. Something which Asahina might well have done. The pieces started to click into place. I had a motive, now all I needed was a plausible method.

Naegi walked up behind me.

"It seems as though we have 3 pieces of information we need to find," he began, his voice controlled. "We need to find the cause of death, the location of the body, and the locations of the other 3 students. Thankfully, they were all in the same room."

"Which would you say is most important?" I asked.

"Likely their locations. I've a hypothesis I need to test." His voice hardened on those last words.

I nodded and stood. As we walked towards the door, I heard a knock. Naegi moved forward and opened it to reveal Togami and Celeste standing in the entrance. He gave them one look and laughed once sharply.

"Of course the murderer got you too. When did you wake?"

Togami's eyes widened slightly.

"6:59, as did Celeste. Fukawa yet sleeps. Am I to understand you were as well incapacitated?" he asked coldly.

Naegi nodded.

"We awoke at that same time."

My eyes widened a fraction before I could stop myself. Celeste caught sight of the small movement and smiled dangerously. She knew, then. As for why she considered the information important...it didn't take an idiot to see that I wasn't above suspicion here. All I could hope for was that she and the other students would realize that someone like me clearly wouldn't make such an elementary mistake as to be awake before everyone else.

As I thought, Naegi scanned the faces of the two in our doorway before continuing.

"Now that we've established your alibis, it's time for our next priority. We need to find that body."

XxX

Ikusaba

I lay in the reconnaissance post on the second floor of the dormitory, eyes wide. After seeing the events of the previous night, my opinions on the efficacy of my former commander's methods had changed. Significantly. I never believed, of course, that a good person couldn't kill. War had quickly stripped any last pieces of that belief from me. On the other hand, the efficient brutality I had seen tonight, in this murder...that surprised me. Especially coming from one who seemed so virtuous.

I briefly shook off my thoughts before returning to my recon. After a few quick changes to the camera controls, I was no longer viewing the progress of student investigations. Rather, I was examining the basement and subbasement wings of the school. To the uninformed, they would have looked empty, silent, abandoned. However, I knew how my sister operated. I could see the tiny glints of metal in the corners of classrooms, the claws flashing in the modular systems high above. She was building something. I recalled her mentioning something about the execution she'd planned...the 'sharpshooter'. That room only had one means of escape. And it was an escape I could prepare for. With a deep breath, I dropped back into the tunnels. It was time to save a life.

XxX

Alter Ego

Operational status: 301x between critical points 1 and 2. 690x nearing critical point 1

Success of 301x point 1: limited - total. Personal involvement was required to facilitate the obedience of Asset Swim. Assets Rat and Detective have fulfilled their necessary roles as expected. Asset Gamb is targeting Detective.

Next steps: 301x: allow events to proceed. Assets Rat and Detective's actions fall within expected cognitive variance. Chance of success of critical point 2: 90%. Chance of success of 301x: 80%.

690x: Asset Wolf is proceeding as expected. Asset Gem has completely separated. Expected direct action within 1 day. Next steps: ensure 301x action occurs before critical point 1 of 690x. No further emotional readying needed.

XxX

Kirigiri

After Togami and Celeste left to find the body, Naegi whirled to face me.

"Kyouko, I think its time we had a talk." He stepped into the room, closing the door behind us.

"I would ask what this talk is about, but it's reasonably obvious."

He nodded.

"So, to begin, you were awake before me. And, therefore, before the murder occurred. Also, the only way I could even possibly think of to cause death that way is some massive concoction of poisons which only you and I had access to. A mixture which, if slowly injected, could produce the long-lasting death time from the Monokuma file."

I tilted my head slightly, digesting the information. The evidence presented certainly suggested that I was the killer. Which, in turn, presented a set of rather interesting questions about the framer. Why would they have framed me, of all people? While I certainly hadn't been an incredibly active player in trials, the only people who would frame me would know of the intense risk involved.

Naegi's hand landed softly on my shoulder.

"Trying to figure out who'd have framed you, are you? Well, allow me to show you something else."

He unzipped his hoodie to reveal an empty holster on the left side.

"When I woke up, my fentanyl solution was missing. Care to explain that, Detective?"

XxX

Mastermind/Monokuma

The mastermind tries to reach their operative over the radio once again, to no avail. Ikusaba entered a period of radio silence approximately 5 minutes ago for no explicit reason. Suddenly, as they idly scan the cameras before them, they catch sight of something odd. Monokuma bots are vanishing, slowly but surely, from the subbasement. They quickly start to flip through the cameras, stopping the scan the moment they catch sight of a Monokuma vanishing. At the moment before it disappears, a shadow seemingly wraps into existence behind them. They slow the footage and zoom in on the strange assailant. After the shadow reveals nothing useful, they zoom further in, stopping once they see the figure's left hand and the hilt of a combat knife. They laugh sharply before cursing.

It would seem the wolf has changed sides. No matter. She will soon learn the folly of fighting without a pack.

The mastermind stands and enters the Monokuma control room. They slide their hands into the control gauntlets, expertly manipulating the machinery.

Robotic connection interface Version f.X activated. Please select device with which to establish connection.

The mastermind's face settles into a steady grimace.

Hive control activated. Please input general objectives.

The mastermind selects a picture of ikusaba and highlights the whole school.

Objectives received. Kill or capture?

The mastermind tilts their head for a moment, thinking, before selecting the first option. After all, even if an operative can be turned again, why take the risk? It is just so much easier to let them die and be done with it.

A/N: And the murder is done. I hope all of you who like to solve these cases are expert at working with nearly no evidence. Also, the plot's entering what I like to call the...fun phase. Enjoy it. Upupupupupupupu...

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