Chapter XLV: Interrogating
My eyes opened as the world around me slowly blurred into focus. I tried tolift my arms and found them bound. After swearing under my breath, I tried toflick my wrists to slide out one of the blades I kept in reserve for just suchan eventuality. My wrists refused to move. As my eyes widened, I suddenlycaught sight of movement from the other corner of the room. Makoto Naegiwalked towards the bed where I was bound, a dark grin on his face.
“Wonderful. The wolf awakes,” he began. “As I’m sure you’ve noticed, yourlimbs don’t work. Monokuma was kind enough to provide us with several prettyfast-acting paralytics, including some I can supply by injection.”
He paused for a moment, musing. “Now, as I’m sure you know from yourundoubtedly extensive files on me, I’m not the most adept with injections. IfI were to be stressed, say by a resisting prisoner, I might inject too muchand leave you paralyzed, or inject it into a muscle and leave a limb useless.Or, if I really have to move quickly, I might accidentally use botuliniumtoxin instead. And nobody wants that, now do they.”
I tried to nod, a tiny bit of sweat beading on my forehead.
“I understand. I will not be resisting. What do you want?”
His head tilted slightly.
“As of 30 seconds ago, I would have had a perfectly good answer to thatquestion related to military plans which I’m sure would have led to a gooddeal of entertaining questioning. However, Kirigiri has shown me somethingwhich I feel is a good deal more urgent,” his hand slid out of his pocket ashe continued, opening to reveal my blue contact lens. “I don’t suppose you’dlike to explain this, ‘Enoshima’?”
A claw punches through the wall of the second floor bathroom to revealMonokuma, now much the worse for wear. It pulls itself through the wall,leaving a smoking mess in its wake. The secret room had apparently beenheavily booby-trapped against forced intrusion. However, the Monokuma chassishad been built to withstand more than that-
Monokuma’s eyes widen as it hears a beeping which grows in pitch and intensityuntil it becomes a high, loud whine. After a second or two the EMP cannonhidden in the wall fires, destroying the bear’s circuitry and leaving the bodya sparking pile of twisted metal.
The Mastermind pulls their hands from the control mechanisms as a small ruefullaugh escapes their lips. Who would have thought that the students had been soresourceful before Despair attacked? The school’s defenses had been supposedlyentirely captured and hacked into, and yet incidents like this were stillhappening! The tech personnel responsible would have to be fired. Except thebodiless voice, of course, but that was a special case.
They stand up and leave the control room, quickly pulling up a computer in thedata processing room. With a few quick key presses a map of the school similarto the electroIDs map appears on the screen. The Mastermind wordlessly scansthe map searching for locations hidden from the cameras, mentally crossing offany locations already checked by Monokuma. Eventually, they come to a markedexit from the incinerator room which seems to lead nowhere. They shake theirhead. After all, Naegi would have needed the headmaster’s key to ever accessthe basement and subbasement…they pause for a second before pulling up arecording of their most recent substantial progress report from the wolf.
“Commander, Naegi just struck at the Headmaster’s office. The shaped chargeswhich he detonated were a diversionary tactic.”
“As I expected. How did he penetrate the locked door?”
“By attacking the door itself and the wall of an adjoining room. Marks on thedoor as well as the wall itself indicate that a saw from the art wing did themajority of the damage.”
“Understood. Any sign of damage to the hinges?”
“None. Naegi seems to have ignored that assault vector.”
“Excellent! Our crime of despair is still unharmed! Was anything taken fromthe office?”
“A few keys, commander. Nothing we cannot replace or guard against. However,the Monokuma key was removed.”
The mastermind’s eyes widen before they curse quietly. They rise and stridecoldly back to the robotic control room, hands shaking with rage as they slideinto the console.
That bastard had stolen the Monokuma key and had gloated about hisinvisibility as though he knew there were no way he could be found in time. Hehad found a way into the underground complex, then. He thought that a pathetichundred classrooms would stop him from being found and punished? I’ll show himhow wrong he is. It was time he learned to appreciate the true might ofDespair.
Robotic connection interface Version f.X activated. Please select device withwhich to establish connection.
The mastermind laughs quietly as their hands move quickly, moving through themenus to find their desired option.
Hive control activated. Please input general objectives.
The mastermind selects a picture of Naegi’s face before highlighting theentire sub-basement wing of the school.
Objectives received. Kill or capture?
The mastermind pauses for a few seconds before reluctantly choosing the secondoption. While Naegi had certainly been a nuisance, it wasn’t time to kill himjust yet. After all, there was something they still needed from the boy.
Ikusaba’s eyes widened and she froze, uncertain. After a few seconds, shebegan to speak, her voice tinged with what was clearly forced calm.
“I’m afraid I do not know what you are talking about.”
I laughed sharply. After I had seen the second contact lens, everything hadfallen into place. Additionally, Alter Ego had fed me some information whichcould prove quite useful for this series of questions.
“Of course you don’t,” I responded sarcastically. “I’m sure it must just be acoincidence that Enoshima’s body was the only one we never saw after herexecution. And I’m sure it is just a coincidence that you happened to bedropping pieces of glass that precisely matched the stage lamps from herexecution. In fact, I must just be overestimating the likelihood that you andshe had the same blue contact lenses! Why are you being so hidden, Ikusaba?You were clearly trying to tell us for days now!”
She seemed to retreat back into the bed with every sentence and by the time Ifinished she looked like a shell of herself. Her response, when it finallycame, was weak and quavering.
“I cannot betray my commander. I will not abandon my comrades. I will completemy objectives. I cannot betray my commander.” She continued to repeat thisstrange mantra for a few more seconds before I cut her off.
“You consider the Mastermind your commander, do you? Tell me this, does acommander betray their assets in the field for little reason?”
“Never,” she replied, eyes gleaming. “And my commander would never betray me.
I am their most valued soldier!”
“Are you so certain of that, Ikusaba? Allow me to rebut. After your trial,which I’m sure you admit had some irregularities, I went back to the gymnasiumto examine where you had almost assaulted Monokuma. Would you care to guesswhat I found there?”
I paused to allow her to respond. If she challenged my story, or, worse, hadbeen watching me for long enough to know I had done no such thing as check thegymnasium, I would have no choice but to reveal my final trump card.Thankfully, she remained silent, allowing me to keep the true source of thatinformation unknown a little bit longer.
“No guesses?” I continued. “So be it. I shall tell you, then. There were slotsin the floor right in front of Monokuma. Had you actually gone through on yourplan and attacked him, spikes would have shot out from those slots and impaledyou. Your commander set you up, Ikusaba. They were ready to kill you at thedrop of a hat when it suited them.”
Her eyes widened and her breath caught.
“No…they would never…” she began, her voice now uncertain. “They promisedme…that I would not be harmed…I was to stand alongside them…”
“And they were lying!” I pressed on. “What honor do you owe someone whobetrayed you? Who is your commander? What are your orders? Tell me!”
She opened her mouth as if to respond, but no words came out. Suddenly, thefloor rumbled. I turned to Kirigiri, Celeste, and Asahina, all of whom werewatching the interrogation mutely from a corner of the room unseen by theSoldier.
“Any idea what that was?”
The mastermind’s eyes flick towards the screen quickly, scanning the footagefrom the various Monokuma chasses to find out what caused the rumble. After afew seconds, they quietly laugh. One of the bots had accidentally triggeredthe ULF emitter in the seismology lab. No matter. Nothing important had beendamaged, and the fact that that lab had even been reached showed how far downthe Monokumas had searched. It would only be a matter of time before theinsubordinate students were caught, captured, and brought back to their deadlygame.
Far down below the ground floor of the school, hundreds of robots flow throughthe sub-basement like a monochrome tidal wave. As they pass, doors shatter asa few leave the horde to examine a room before rejoining the massive crowd onthe other side.
A light flicks on at a console. The soldier sitting in front of the consolejumps, startled, before leaping to his feet and radioing his superior officer.
“Ma’am, you are going to want to come in here. There’s something you need tosee.”
After a few seconds, a curt voice responds.
“Acknowledged. I will be there shortly.”
A few minutes later, the door to the comms center slams open to reveal KomaruNaegi standing in the entrance. As she walks in, she turns to the soldier.
“Why’d you call me in? This satellite array’s been mute for months!”
The soldier points to the console as he responds.
“We just received a large ULF pulse from Kibougamine. The pulse, as far as wecan tell, was random and no data was encrypted. However, given all previousscans of the building…” he trailed off.
“There shouldn’t have been enough life to decompose a carcass, let aloneenough to send out that pulse,” Komaru finishes flatly. “So you’re telling methat there’s a chance that the 78th class might still be alive.”
The soldier nods mutely.
She pulls a communicator from her belt and quickly switches it on.
“Get me the general. I have a strike to plan.”
Ikusaba lay silent on the bed, still trying and failing to form her response.After a few seconds of this, I began to speak.
“No response, Soldier? Are you still unwilling to let your commander fall?”
Her face froze in fear.
“My willingness doesn’t matter. My commander will kill all of us if she evensuspects my betrayal. It doesn’t matter if I help you. Every one of us willdie.”
“Interesting that you say that, Ikusaba. Asahina actually said something verysimilar about capturing you. However, as I’m sure you observed, you arecurrently at our mercy, and none of us are dead. Killing us is rather moredifficult than you might think.”
She opened her mouth to respond, but before she could speak, the television inthe corner of the room activated.
“Hey! Naegi! I have a message for you! And trust me, you want to hearit…upupupu…”
Current operational stage: 1120x approaching completion. 201x approachingcompletion. 301x approaching critical point 1.
Warning: Asset Rat must be prepared for role in 301x. ULF pulse indicatespossible failure mode for survival route. Military presence likely.
201x results: Assets Wolf and Gem successfully separated. Asset Gem willingto act recklessly. Current response is likely to launch 301x earlier thanexpected. Ensure survival of Assets Rat and Wolf through warning.
1120x results: Information recovered. Wolf suborning nearing completion.Prepare operation 690x for start point. Begin emotional setup of Asset Rat.
Next steps: Observe and prepare.
A/N: We are approaching the climax of both the arc and the story thus far.These next 4 chapters are going to be one hell of a ride. Don’t forget to lookover your available assets.
With regards to the ULF pulse: murphy’s law can strike the antagonist just asit can strike the protagonist.
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