Preparing

Chapter XLII: Preparing

XxX

Naegi

I stood in the center of the room, my perception of the surroundings nowchanged. If the tunnel entrance was here, then this wasn’t just some normalclassroom. This was a tactically valuable point. Suddenly, the locations ofthe blood splotches made sense. This wasn’t some random assortment ofmurders…this room was a battleground. I looked at the blood splatters with newunderstanding. Before directly examining each one, I turned back to themicrophone.

“The entrance is on the back wall, correct?”

A few seconds later, Alter Ego’s voice crackled over the earpiece in response.

That is correct. This room would seem to be the sight of a final stand ofsorts.”

“I agree.”

I turned back from the mic to examine the blood splatters. The three clusteredtogether on one wall seemed to be from a single group. Judging by the wreckagearound them, they had come in from the front door to the classroom. I leaneddown to the floor about three feet away from the blood and found a few smalldrops. This, then, was where the person fighting the group of three had stood.And, judging by the prints and blood on the floor, they had moved backwards,retreating before a superior force, when, suddenly…my head turned, seeing nowhow the blood droplets on the floor met up with the larger splatter by theback wall. They had been retreating backward then, when they were surprisedfrom behind by another group from the tunnels.

As I looked around further at the room, I caught sight of a crack in the wallswhich looked strangely familiar. If I wasn’t mistaken, it was about the samesize as the crack in the drywall which had been above Fujisaki’s..my mindstalled out for a second before I shook it off. I could not afford to letmyself be affected by this, especially not given the importance of the scene Iwas standing in. I returned my attention to the evidence at hand. If thecracks were the same size, then Oogami had been one of the fighters. Given herrelative health and skill, she likely had been the one dealing the blows.Which meant her attackers would have been SDHSD members. I bent over to thefloor, searching with redoubled intensity. If I could find some clue as toDespair’s identity, then this could make my job a good deal easier. I keptlooking, finding nothing beyond debris, before finally coming across somethingright next to the wall with the tunnel entrance: a small fragment of glass,seeming as though it came from a large lamp.

XxX

Alter Ego

Scanning environment…location detected: 5th floor, Kibougamine.

Current surroundings status: Combat zone. Likely causes: operationcompromised at subduction stage. Plausiblemechanisms…searching…searching…necessary eventuality may have beenunsuccessfully used.

Possible counterplans: Move away from items requiring eventuality. Disregardneurotoxicological threat analysis. Re-evaluate plans.

Next steps: Continue reconnaissance. Ready user for operation 1120X. Continuepushing towards eventual capture of asset Wolf.

_Verbal interrupt: Subject: RAT. “_Is this glass directly beneath the tunnelentrance?”

Analyze questionable subject…glass composition identified. Glass locationmatched to tunnel entrance. Dialogue response: TRUE. Initialize microphone.

Verbal Response: “Yes, Naegi, it is.”

Plausible sources of glass shard: Modular wing SBB-5: R-Troub-Exe. Sourcelinkage probability: High. Likely true source: Step 5 of current operation.Given prior evidence, direct link to asset Wolf is likely. Continue sensorymonitoring.

_Operation status update: 201X: current plan successful. Assets Wolf and Gemcurrently proceeding as expected. Separation at 85% probability over upcoming3 days. _

301X: Cryogenics seed planted. Asset Rat reacting as anticipated. Reaction at78% probability within 2 days, 98% within 4.

Next steps: Observe.

xXx

?

I knelt in the tunnel just outside Naegi’s possible field of view, closelywatching him through one of the many peepholes I had placed in the wall. Mynext moves at the moment would carefully depend on his. If he showed any signsof entering the tunnel I would have to take him in. My commander had been veryclear about that. However, I felt a strange reluctance to do so. Over thecourse of the operation, this reluctance had been gradually growing, and nowit was a real presence in my mind whenever I felt like fulfilling an order. IfI was honest with myself, my commander’s methods were distasteful to me. Inorder for my role to be well played, I had had to become well known to ourtargets. And, in the process of doing so, I had formed personal attachments.Unrequited ones, to be sure, but they existed nonetheless. And, unlike mycommander, I lacked the ability to so easily distract myself from thesepersonal loyalties. It was loyalty of this sort that bound me to her, afterall.

I returned my gaze to Naegi, only to jerk back slightly as a green lightshined directly into my eyes. He tilted his head, scanned the room briefly,before walking out. It would seem he had finished his search, and I couldreturn to make my tactical report. As I crawled back through the tunnel, myleft hand moved to my pocket, my fingers running over a glass shard of thesame composition as that Naegi had found.

XxX

Naegi

I walked out of the room quickly, glass shard firmly grasped. My mind keptreplaying the words Alter Ego had said to me right before I left.

Naegi, you are being watched. My camera caught sight of a human eye in apeephole on the left wall. Peephole height relative to the tunnel indicatesthat the person was the same height as the one who entered the firstpasscode.”

So then, it seemed Monokuma’s operative hid within the tunnel systems. Howcould I use that? Options immediately came to mind, most of which I discardedas unworkable. For instance, it wouldn’t be feasible to physically disablethem, given how easily they eliminated Oogami. However, if I could trapthem…as I walked down the stairs thinking, Kirigiri came up beside me.

“Naegi, what did you find on the floor?” She asked, “I noted one majorlyworrisome item in the greenhouse: there was fertilizer missing.”

I chuckled.

“Allow me to relax you on that score: I took the fertilizer. I felt it wouldbe useful for obvious reasons. However, there were a good deal of interestingthings on the floor, particularly in classroom S.”

She nodded.

“Clearly. Did Monokuma also tell you that it was the site of the Tragedy?”

I stopped short, and my eyes widened.

“No, he had not. Did he tell you anything else?”

She thought for a moment before answering.

“Only that he had left the room pristine so we could see what lay inside. Why?Does that surprise you?”

“Kirigiri, consider what you found in that room more carefully. When did theTragedy occur, based on our sources?”

She tilted her head slightly.

“Well, based on the 4th folio, it was at least…4 months ago…”

Her eyes widened.

“That’s not possible, those deaths were recent. That room still smelled ofcorpses.”

I nodded.

“Exactly. I have my own suspicions about what happened in that room, but eventhey aren’t perfect. I did find something interesting, though.”

I retrieved the glass shard from my pocket, tilting it so it faced the light.Kirigiri reached for it, tilting my hand slightly towards her.

“That glass appears to be from a stage lamp. Where did you find it?”

“Right near the location of a schoolwide tunnel system. Now, I feel like thisglass matches something we could have found before, but I can’t quite put myfinger on it…”

I trailed off, and Kirigiri nodded.

“I know what you mean. I remember this glass, though I cannot say from where.”

I put it back in my pocket.

“It is an interesting puzzle, to say the least. Suffice it to say the sourceof this glass is important for obvious reasons.”

Kirigiri nodded, before looking back at me with a questioning look in hereyes.

“What happens now?”

“I have some preparations to make so I’m not caught flatfooted again,” Iresponded, “I don’t expect them to take longer than an hour though. Meet backat our room then?”

She nodded and walked away.

XxX

Alter Ego

Sensory data: Asset Wolf location identified. Microphone sound levels andperipheral glint indicate asset possessed glass shard of similar composition.Separation proceeding on schedule. Current data suggests necessary capturewithin days. Accelerate operations to account for distinction.

Current planning: Identity of combat zone definitive. Subduction failurecertain. Continue necessary contingency. Hostage level now unknown.

Consider: Gem operative stability? Low-medium. Betrayal still knownmotivation. Wolf separation should provide added incentive.

Next steps: Move into temporary elimination of assets Swim and Rat. Beginlaying ground for succession of asset Detective. Rat must be allowed tobelieve idea is his own. Secrecy paramount.

A/N: I’m back! Sorry for the abysmal update delay…I was in 2 differentcontinents over the past 3 weeks neither of which was my native one. Hopefullythis marks a return to my normal schedule. Also, we’re only 7 follows awayfrom being the 6th most followed DR story! We can do this!

Storywise: Yes, the alter ego sections are confusing. That is intentional.There’s plenty of fun information waiting for you there though.

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