Chapter XLIX: Trapping
A/N: Italics indicate flashback as well as Alter Ego's voice
The five remaining students walked slowly into the trial room. We all took our seats silently, trading glances, each person trying to find weaknesses in the other. Unlike prior trials, nobody began to speak, even after we had sat for a while. Eventually, Monokuma snarled and his claws extended.
"Here's what's going to happen, students. You are going to start debating the identity of the killer, or I will bring the elevator back up and leave you to starve. Do not test my patience."
My eyes widened, and every other student looked surprised. Why would Monokuma have been so agitated? Nothing about this trial seemed special. Before I could reveal my suspects, Celeste began to speak.
"This case is clearly unique," she began. "We have no method. We have no body. To be frank, we have no evidence. And, as Naegi has explained time and time again in prior trials, that is all the evidence we need. Kyouko Kirigiri, you murdered Aoi Asahina."
My heart sped up but I forced myself to maintain my cool. I had anticipated this. All I'd need to do was demonstrate my lack of a motive and-
"Certain things I have found support that contention." I whirled to face Naegi, some fear now showing through my calm mask.
"For instance," he continued, "The chemical used to knock us out was something only I had. It is impossible anyone could have made more, since I needed...help to finish making it. When I awoke, the vial of that chemical was gone. That limits us to 3 people, one of whom is dead."
Togami cut him off, voice sharp.
"You had something with such capabilities and you never informed me?"
"No, I did not inform you," Makoto responded curtly. "I am not beholden to you, Togami. If you want to bluster, it can wait until after the trial. If you show the slightest hint of threatening our survival, I will incapacitate you for the duration of the trial, unless our headmaster objects."
He turned to Monokuma, who seemed distracted. After a few seconds, the bear seemed to rouse itself from its slumber.
"Oh, you meant that? Go ahead. That is, if you are willing to risk losing whatever important information he could have."
"Now, as I was saying, the fact that the vial was missing limits us to the 3 people who would have known of the vial: Kyouko, Celeste, and Asahina. Given the victim, only the first two remain as suspects."
As he finished, I felt a tingling in the back of my mind. I felt the inklings of a new suspect, one he either hadn't considered or hadn't mentioned. If they were-I cut off the thought. There was no use making a judgement before hearing all the arguments.
Togami stood and began to speak.
"When I awoke, Celeste was already awake. That suggests that she was perhaps never knocked out in the first place."
My eyes widened.
"The same was true of me. Naegi can confirm that."
Togami turned to him.
"Is this true? Was she awake when you woke?"
He nodded and his head tilted in thought. "Yes, that is the case. If I had to guess, I'd say that one of them gave the other a bit less of the chemical to ensure they'd wake up a bit earlier. They knew they couldn't risk knocking themselves out, so they wanted to make that evidence useless. It wouldn't have been hard for them to identify the other possible suspect, after all, it took me only a few moments."
He fell silent, clearly considering something. After a few seconds, Fukawa ended the silence.
"S-so? H-how does this help? They c-could still both have done it!"
"Fukawa speaks truly," Celeste affirmed. "Which is why I say we move on the the question I'm sure was on all of our minds. The cause of death."
Before anybody could venture an opinion, Monokuma raised his hand. We turned to him, surprised.
"There's something I should tell you all: the Monokuma file only covers major injuries. Any minor injury, even if it covered the whole body, wouldn't be recorded! I wouldn't want you to get all confused by scrapes and bruises, after all..."
I digested this new information. That certainly changed things, but still, the only possible cause was poison. And, as Naegi and I had unfortunately discovered, there was no poison. That left us back where we began: with nothing. As I thought, Naegi gasped.
"Sepsis. That's what it was. Some kind of fungal sepsis caused the organ failure. When I was searching for a poison I couldn't find anything because there was no poison. Monokuma, is there a biological warfare lab separate from the biology lab?"
Monokuma grinned widely.
"Asking me for help, are you? Why, Naegi, I couldn't answer that. If I just told you everything, there'd be no trial!"
"Worth a try. It seems we are once again at an impasse."
"No, we aren't," Celeste countered. "Why precisely does the fungus in question need to be outside the biology lab? How do we know it isn't in the lab itself?"
"I really should learn to be more careful with my words. Kyouko and I searched that lab this morning and found nothing. We defeated the lock on the door without breaking the rules by using a...device I acquired from prior operations."
"And?" Celeste replied. "Do you know for a fact that Kirigiri didn't use the device while you were knocked out?"
He thought about that for a moment. "I suppose it isn't impossible she did, though if she could replace the device she should have been able to replace the vial...ah. I see. You are arguing that she removed the vial to make me more certain that the key had not been used. That is plausible. Kyouko, do you have anything to say in your defense?"
I froze. That line of argument was rather convincing, and I couldn't see anything immediately wrong with it. All I could do now was pull together circumstantial evidence and hope it was enough to prove my innocence, but there wasn't even much of that.
"Because, Kyouko, I do have something to say."
My eyes widened as Naegi continued.
"During the 3rd trial, Kirigiri was offered something far more valuable than an extension of life she would likely have received from someone else's murder regardless. If she didn't murder then, I have difficulty believing she would do so now. Additionally, all the evidence we have just see relies on deception. And we have someone here who we know plays with deception as a livelihood. Celestia Ludenberg, I accuse you of the murder of Aoi Asahina."
As he said that, something snapped in my mind. Something which I hadn't allowed myself to consider finally broke through. Celeste and I weren't the only two suspects. As I considered that, I remembered something:
"I wouldn't open those if I were you. According to Alter Ego, one of the things this lab was working on was cryogenics research."
I started laughing quietly.
"You utter bastard," I whispered. "You almost had me there for a second."
Naegi turned to me, confused.
"Kyouko? Did you say something?"
"Yes, I did, Naegi." I replied coldly. "Tell me, what are the symptoms of fatal hypothermia?"
His eyes widened as he replied. "Body-wide low level cell damage, and total...organ failure...of course! She must have been in one of the cryogenics machines."
"You are only now deducing that?" I asked darkly. "Next question: who knew about the vial? List everyone, please."
"As I said, there's you, Celeste, and Asahina. Nobody else was in the room with us, unless you count our helpful friend-"
"And you," I cut him off. "You knew about that vial too, Naegi. You had possession of the device you used to open the door. And you knew about the cryogenic equipment in the biology lab before I did."
"Even if those facts are true, there's no evidence suggesting that Asahina was frozen. While we were in the bio lab, I noticed that there were only 9 machines active, precisely matching the number of dead students. If you remember the scene, you can confirm that. If Asahina was there, which machine was she in? Each one was only large enough for one body."
After reviewing the room mentally, I realized that he was right. There were 9 machines active: 2 for the first trial, 3 for the second, 2 for the third, and 2 for the fourth. If those numbers were correct, Asahina couldn't have been in any of them.
Celeste laughed sharply.
"Naegi, you know as well as we do that there weren't 9 dead students before this. Honestly, if you were going to lie, you could have made it believable."
"I know well enough to admit when I am beaten. So be it. As a reward of sorts for figuring it out, I shall tell you the missing information involving my method. At about midnight last night, I knocked out every student in the school and drugged all of you to stay asleep the entire night, barring the small variances I put in to start you all suspecting each other. Once you were all out cold, I woke Asahina. With a bit of help from our friend, I convinced her that Oogami would have wanted her to sacrifice herself for our sake. It was easy after that to lead her to the biology lab and start the cryogenics procedure. After that, I returned to the room to hide the evidence of the method I used to traverse the school, and then knocked myself out so I would awake after Kyouko. Any questions?"
"Yes." I could feel my voice breaking. "Why? Why would you do this?"
He looked directly at me, stare unwavering.
"Sometimes, to save the whole, one must sacrifice the part. If I hadn't done this, Kirigiri, all of us would have died. This way, you can keep fighting."
"Keep fighting?" I responded ruefully. "So we can die like you're about to?"
"About to die, am I?" He chuckled. "Why don't you vote me guilty and see?"
As if by his command, the buttons for deciding our verdict slid up, and Monokuma pointed at them.
"Since he's so eager to meet his fate, I felt I'd cut this short. Ballot time!"
We all pressed the buttons indicating our choices, and the slot machine slid up. All three spinning rows stopped at Naegi's face, and the machine rang, displaying the word Guilty. Unlike the last few trials, I felt no elation at catching the victim. As the bonds snapped shut on Naegi's seat and the claw extended to pull him to his death, he turned to me.
"Kyouko...look in the place where we hid our friend. It will explain everything."
As the claw pulled me towards my execution, I let out a sigh. Keeping that deception going had been incredibly difficult. The next part of the plan would be comparatively easy, assuming that my tactical information was right. I quietly spoke into Alter ego's mouthpiece as I was deposited roughly onto a pole and cuffs slotted around my wrists.
"Are you absolutely certain this execution is the sharpshooter?"
After a few seconds, his voice crackled over the earpiece.
"If I'm not, then you'll never be alive to tell the difference. Now get ready to move."
I grinned and flicked my wrists. Two vials slid out of my sleeves. Monokuma wasn't going to know what hit him.
A/N: Now, readers, it's your turn. I have given you Naegi's resources (any chemicals/devices/weapons he's been shown to have as well as anything he could make with the time he's had off page). I have given you his problem(escape an execution called the sharpshooter which involves him being cuffed to a pole-enterprising readers may wish to find the execution in King Codrian Drasil's fic entitled 'Hyper Danganronpa 3 Logbook' for more information). It is now up to you to come up with a solution. I have several possibilities in mind, but if you can surprise me all the better.
Submit solutions in any way you can, preferably in a review or PM. Please leave a way for me to contact you and ask questions about your solution if you can.
You have 2 weeks(until the 16th of august) until I write the execution chapter. At that time, the solution I consider most plot-appropriate and feasible will be chosen.
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