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Ysabel Cross

"Do you think they have any instruments here?"

0 · 836 views · located in Youth Center/Hotel Place

a character in “Banana Split--with a side of DEATH”, as played by OstrichBurgers

Description

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Ysabel Cross ✼ No nicknames ✼ Ultimate ??? ✼ Female ✼ Bisexual ✼ Yona

✼Likes:
Flowers, dressing up, dancing, music, drawing

✼Dislikes:
Chocolate, pessimists, and people who give no effort

✼Quirks:
Hums frequently, bites cheek when nervous, weak stomach






#960054 ✼ #D2A9E5
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Gentle ✼ Kind ✼ Observant ✼ Graceful ✼ Patient

Ysabel is a polite, kind young woman. She tries her best to get along with most people, though when people don't return the effort she usually doesn't see any reason to try any harder. Doesn't like to start fights or get into messy situations, and rather faint of heart when it comes to killing and such. Idealistic but smart, and ultimately wants what's best for herself and the people around her.

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"Why sit around talking when we could be doing something more fun?"

Not much is known about Ysabel's backstory. When asked, she smoothly changes the subject and sometimes bounces the question back at the person who asked.
Regardless of what she does, it's clear she doesn't like to talk about it.

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So begins...

Ysabel Cross's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madoka Himura Character Portrait: Faqir Nawabi Character Portrait: Mercy Crocker Character Portrait: Clair LaBelle Character Portrait: Vivara Vernon Character Portrait: Faussin Inusum Character Portrait: Graham Forester Character Portrait: Romano Pselli Character Portrait: Finnian Harris Character Portrait: Oni Kurano Character Portrait: Ysabel Cross Character Portrait: Eriko Zamora Character Portrait: Braeden Carmichael Character Portrait: Xhevona Abera Character Portrait: Bonnie Clyde
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"My name is Eriko Zamora," the girl greeted, bowing. "Or Iko, if you like."

Faussin waved to her, cautiously. He'd thought finding more people would help his nerves (though looking back on it, he wasn't sure why), but these two new characters were only making him more nervous. They felt too calm.

Eriko clapped her hands together, looking over the group one more time. After a moment, she smiled. "You all seem fun. Some more than others, I'll admit, but that I expected. Does anyone know why we're here? Or where 'here' is?"

He shook his head. "No. We all--"

Before he could finish, he was interrupted by static. Fairly obvious speakers that he somehow hadn't seen before broadcasted an announcement, ordering that all students report to the gym. Faussin stood for a moment, staring at the speakers in disbelief.

"Bozos in the gym," Eriko repeated, seeming completely unaffected. "I suppose that means there are even more of us. Shall we go greet them in the gym? Assuming you folks know where the gym actually is, because I don't."

A gym? How big is this place? Faussin tucked his hands under his jacket, eyes straying to the camera in the corner of the room. He met its gaze, but only for a second--it was as if he could feel someone staring right back at him. "Uh, I-I think I saw a sign in the other room about a sports center. Maybe the gym is over there."

Eriko smiled. "Perfect. In what direction is the 'other room'?"

Faussin gestured to the lobby door. Not looking back to see if they were following, Eriko headed toward the door and the supposed direction of the gym. Faussin followed, and when they stepped into the lobby, he realized there was a camera there as well.

"A-are there cameras in every room?" Faussin mumbled, mostly to himself.

Sure enough, there were. As the group made their way to the gym (other students joining them along the way, all seeming just as lost as everyone else), Faussin spotted a camera and speaker in every room they passed. He rubbed his arms nervously, unable to shake the feeling of eyes constantly staring him down.

Faussin and several other students made their way into the gym. A tall girl with a pair of glasses and an authoritative stance took a headcount, then pursed her lips and looked back toward the door. "There are fifteen of us here, but sixteen in a class. Where's the last person?"

"Uh." A voice came from outside the door. It opened, slightly, then closed on itself. "Hold on a second, I just need to--okay, I think I've got it."

The door opened again, and a young man hauling a chair began to ease his way in. He maneuvered carefully, apparently trying very hard not to hurt his chair in any way.

"Do you, uh. Do you need some help with that?" Someone called.

"I'm fine, don't worry," the boy assured them. A few moments later, he somehow got his chair through the doorway and triumphantly set it down, sitting on it as if it were a throne. He sighed wistfully. "Yes, I knew it. I love my chair."

Another person coughed. "Weirdo."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madoka Himura Character Portrait: Faqir Nawabi Character Portrait: Mercy Crocker Character Portrait: Clair LaBelle Character Portrait: Vivara Vernon Character Portrait: Faussin Inusum Character Portrait: Graham Forester Character Portrait: Romano Pselli Character Portrait: Finnian Harris Character Portrait: Oni Kurano Character Portrait: Ysabel Cross Character Portrait: Amelia Temmer Character Portrait: Eriko Zamora Character Portrait: Braeden Carmichael Character Portrait: Xhevona Abera Character Portrait: Bonnie Clyde
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Madoka swallowed, subconsciously reaching out to grab Clair's hand. She smiled assuringly at him, calming him just enough to resume a more confident posture.

"WHO DARED SUMMON THE GREAT DEMON QUEEN, KURANO ONI?! MY LEGIONS OF FOLLOWERS SHALL DEVOUR YOUR FLESH!" a particularly loud girl yelled, her multicolored hair swirling around her in a swath of black and gold.

"Does anyone know what the purpose of our being here is?" a man in a suit called.

"Why, I haven't the slightest idea, my dear!" a girl in a white dress called, looking around worriedly. "What manner of mysterious scenario is this, pray tell?"

Madoka took a deep breath, trying to remain calm. "M-maybe we can--I mean, I just think that there's a--um..."

There goes his shot at a first impression.

"Upupu...upupupu...."

Madoka jumped, squeezing Clair's hand. Clair stepped closer to him.

Suddenly, a tile in the ground popped open and from the hole sprang a two-toned teddy bear. The bear waved sporadically, a hideous grin painted onto the black side of its body and its eerie red eye leering at the group.

"Welcome to your nightmares!" the bear exclaimed. "Good, all you bunch o' crazies made it! Welcome to orientation!"

"What the heck kinda 'orientation' involves drugging us and dragging us to a--wherever this is?!" the girl in the white dress demanded. Madoka shuddered--her abrupt change was unexpected, to say the least.

"Shut up when your headmaster's talking!" the bear ordered, brandishing sharp-looking claws. Madoka yelped, trembling. As the group quieted down, the bear began to speak once more. "In case you losers haven't noticed yet, you're all trapped here. No escape, no goin' home to your mommies, no nothin'! Capiche?!"

The loud girl shrieked. "YOU DARE TEL LTHE GREAT DEMON QUEEN THAT SHE IS TRAPPED?! NONSENSE! MY UNDERLINGS SHALL SWARM YOU AND TEAR YOUR TEDDY EARS OFF!"

"Hey!" The bear glared at her, pointing its claws. "Monokuma is no 'teddy'! Now can it, weeb, I'm talkin' here! Or do you want to be our example of what happens when you break the rules?!"

Before the loud girl could interject, Madoka raised his voice and addressed the bear. "I-is it okay to ask what's going on?"

The bear looked pleased. "Wellllll, I guess I can enlighten you twerps. Alright! We've covered the whole 'you're stuck here forever' thing, I gave you losers my name..."

Forever? That was worth speaking up again. "W-what do you mean...'forever'?"

"Forever means forever, pipsqueak! Although there is one way to escape."

"Wait, y-you mean we really can't get out?!" Madoka clutched Clair's arm, shaking. Clair stiffened, but seemed oddly relaxed; she maintained a slight smile.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madoka Himura Character Portrait: Faqir Nawabi Character Portrait: Mercy Crocker Character Portrait: Clair LaBelle Character Portrait: Vivara Vernon Character Portrait: Faussin Inusum Character Portrait: Graham Forester Character Portrait: Romano Pselli Character Portrait: Finnian Harris Character Portrait: Oni Kurano Character Portrait: Ysabel Cross Character Portrait: Amelia Temmer Character Portrait: Eriko Zamora Character Portrait: Braeden Carmichael Character Portrait: Xhevona Abera Character Portrait: Bonnie Clyde
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Faussin shrieked. "Wh-what? But that's--this isn't real, right?! It's all some sort of sick joke!"

A girl with long tassel earrings and lilac-colored eyes spoke, her voice shaking. "This seems far too extreme for a joke. I-It's starting to scare me..."

"Really? It's just some talking toy," a redhaired girl murmured, her arms crossed. "What did it call itself? Mono-something?"

"I am Monokuma, and I am no toy! My design is so complex that not even the brightest of engineers could understand it!" The bear--Monokuma, apparently--declared.

Faussin shrunk behind Clair and the others, trembling. He had never wished so strongly to be home with his brother, huddled up in a blanket where everything was okay.

"Can I try?" A young man with messy black hair and glasses asked.

"If you're going to ask the bear questions, ask it something useful," another voice said. "We don't know how many it'll answer, after all."

Eriko hummed, seeming to be thinking. "Here's a useful question. You said there was a way to escape, Mr. Monokuma. What is it, if I may so bold as to ask outright?"

"Oh, I'm glad you asked!" Monokuma cooed. "Well, you're all here to live a nice and harmonious life until the day you die. But for those who want to get out, there's a special exception."

"I don't like where this is going," someone muttered under their breath.

"If someone disturbs the peace, then they and they alone will be able to leave," Monokuma explained.

The glasses-wearing girl narrowed her eyes. "And what counts as 'disturbing the peace'?"

"Upupupu... why, murder, of course."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madoka Himura Character Portrait: Faqir Nawabi Character Portrait: Mercy Crocker Character Portrait: Clair LaBelle Character Portrait: Vivara Vernon Character Portrait: Faussin Inusum Character Portrait: Graham Forester Character Portrait: Romano Pselli Character Portrait: Finnian Harris Character Portrait: Oni Kurano Character Portrait: Ysabel Cross Character Portrait: Amelia Temmer Character Portrait: Eriko Zamora Character Portrait: Braeden Carmichael Character Portrait: Xhevona Abera Character Portrait: Bonnie Clyde
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Murder.

Madoka's throat closed up, his stomach knotting. Everything seemed to slow--he was only vaguely aware of the girl in the white dress screaming something, a redheaded boy taking a threatening stance, and his own hand closing around Clair's. She squeezed back, smiling calmly at both Madoka and Fauss.

"So, let me confirm this," Clair began, her voice surprisingly level. Madoka had never been more glad to have the unflappable makeup artist beside him. "We just have to live here forever? And if we kill someone, we get to escape."

"Bingo!" Monokuma said. "Easy peasy, right? Oh yeah, and here--student handbooks! So you can see the other school rules."

From out of seemingly nowhere, Monokuma pulled out an armful of strange, electronic tablets. He tossed them in the group's general direction; Clair whipped her hand out of Madoka's to catch two. A third smacked into Madoka's forehead, but he barely noticed--there was far too much going on. Noticing, Clair passed one handbook to Fauss and scooped Madoka's off the floor.

He took it from her, observing it. Clair glanced at hers beside him. Madoka heard a slight gasp emit from her, and out of the corner of his eye he saw Clair hurriedly stuff her handbook in her pocket, suddenly pale.

Madoka flipped through his handbook, droning out Monokuma's voice to focus on what it contained.

Student ID...school rules...we should go over those.

"And that's that!" Monokuma exclaimed. "And don't even think about breaking any of those rules! I'm a fair bear, okay? No rule-breakers! Oh yeah, and don't worry about those handbooks. They can take one h*ll of a beating!"

"This is bullsh*t!" the redheaded boy shouted.

"Sucks to be you!" Monokuma pulled open the panel in the floor again, waving. "Well, you kiddos have fun with that! And before you ask, no Chuck Norris-ing your way outta this with brute force or whatever. See ya later! Upupupu~"

And with that, the bear dropped into the floor. Madoka stared at his handbook, swallowing.

What luck.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madoka Himura Character Portrait: Faqir Nawabi Character Portrait: Mercy Crocker Character Portrait: Clair LaBelle Character Portrait: Vivara Vernon Character Portrait: Faussin Inusum Character Portrait: Graham Forester Character Portrait: Romano Pselli Character Portrait: Finnian Harris Character Portrait: Oni Kurano Character Portrait: Ysabel Cross Character Portrait: Amelia Temmer Character Portrait: Eriko Zamora Character Portrait: Braeden Carmichael Character Portrait: Xhevona Abera Character Portrait: Bonnie Clyde
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Faussin stared at where Monokuma had disappeared, suddenly more aware of everyone else in the room. He coughed, pulling on the collar of his shirt--he could hardly breathe. He was choking on his disbelief. Nauseous, he looked down at his hands, then at Madoka and Clair.

Clair. She was calmer than Faussin could ever hope to be. Grating his nails against his arms, he began to take slow, deep breaths. Though, as calm as he tried to be, nothing stopped that suffocating feeling.

"What an interesting concept," Eriko spoke, breaking the silence that had briefly washed over the group. "If not somewhat disturbing. What should we do now?"

He barely heard what she was saying, counting to ten in his head to try and get a better hold of himself.

The glasses-wearing boy seemed far more wary of the glasses-wearing girl now, stepping away from her slowly. The girl herself was standing, shocked. After a moment, she brushed herself off and took a deep breath, addressing everyone. "Well. I'd like to think we're all mature enough to not kill each other as we look for an alternate way out?"

Eriko smiled mysteriously. "You underestimate how easy it is for some to kill another. But perhaps cooperation is our best strategy, at least for now. Why don't we all introduce ourselves to each other?"

A young blonde girl nodded. "That... seems like a good idea. I'll start. My name is Amelia, and I'm the Ultimate Botanist."

"Wonderful," Eriko cooed. "I am Eriko, Ultimate Puzzle Solver."

The glasses-wearing girl cleared her throat. "Vivara Vernon, Ultimate Librarian."

"Finnian," piped the glasses-wearing boy. "Ultimate Scientist."

A girl with red hair and a steely look spoke next. Like Clair, she was calm and confident, though somehow her aura wasn't as comforting. "Mercy Crocker, Ultimate Hunter."

"I am Ysabel Cross," spoke another girl. She too had red hair, though her voice was far more gentle. There was a brief pause during when she was supposed to announce her Ultimate. "I-I'm afraid I don't remember my Ultimate."

Vivara narrowed her eyes. "Perhaps it's a symptom of whatever drug they used to bring us here?"

"Perhaps," Ysabel replied.

Eriko poked Faussin, who yelped. She gave him a look. "You have to introduce yourself."

He stared at her for a moment. "Oh. Haha. D-don't do that, you scared me. I'm Faussin, Ultimate Illusionist. I prefer Fauss, though."

The guy who'd dragged a chair into the room crossed his legs. "I'm Graham. Ultimate none-of-your-business."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madoka Himura Character Portrait: Faqir Nawabi Character Portrait: Mercy Crocker Character Portrait: Clair LaBelle Character Portrait: Vivara Vernon Character Portrait: Faussin Inusum Character Portrait: Graham Forester Character Portrait: Romano Pselli Character Portrait: Finnian Harris Character Portrait: Oni Kurano Character Portrait: Ysabel Cross Character Portrait: Amelia Temmer Character Portrait: Eriko Zamora Character Portrait: Braeden Carmichael Character Portrait: Xhevona Abera Character Portrait: Bonnie Clyde
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Clair couldn't say she was disappointed in this turn of events. It was such an easy solution--just live in the hotel. It wasn't like anyone could get lonely with fifteen other people around, there were bedrooms and a dining hall, and there was so much to do that they'd never get bored. She could attribute her eerie sense of calm to that simple fact--there was no reason to kill each other.

She focused back on the group, deciding getting to know each other was a great first step.

"Eriko has the right idea," Clair murmured. She waved, smiling. "Nice to meet you all! I'm Clair LaBelle, the Ultimate Makeup Artist."

Madoka shifted next to her, seemingly choked. Clair patted his back. Relaxing somewhat, he cleared his throat and announced, "I-I'm Madoka Himura. Th-the Ultimate Lucky Student. Clearly I'm not really that lucky, because this..."

He trailed off, whimpering. Clair rubbed his back.

Xhevona dipped her head, seeming slightly agitated but oddly serene. "My name is Xhevona Abera, or Vona for short. I am the Ultimate Surgeon."

The girl in the white dress gestured wildly, curtsying low. "Nice to meet you all! I'm Bonnie Clyde, the Ultimate Shakespearian Actress. These are indeed difficult times, but as Shakespeare once said, 'To climb steep hills requires slow pace at first.'"

Clearing his throat, Faqir stepped forwards, raising his hand. "I just want to begin by saying I totally called this."

Clair chuckled. He wasn't wrong--his comments during their meeting of Vona were right on the money.

"Anyways, name's Faqir Nawabi. Ultimate Psychic."

Madoka sighed. "F-Faqir, please..."

"Alright, you got me. Ultimate Jeweler."

"LISTEN UP, MORTAL SWINE!" the multicolor-haired girl screamed, pointing her finger to the sky. "THE GREAT DEMON QUEEN KURANO ONI HAS CHOSEN TO GRACE YOU WITH HER PRESENCE! YOU MAY ALL BOW DOWN TO THE MIGHT OF THE ULTIMATE EXORCIST!"

Clair hesitated a moment. "So wait, is it Kurano or Oni?"

"YOU MAY CALL ME HER EMPRESS, MORTAL."

"I'll...settle on Kura."

The man in the suit bowed low. "My name is Romano Pselli. It is a pleasure to meet you. I am deemed the Ultimate Butler, and it is my duty to serve you in whatever manner you please."

"So does that mean I could get a handjob?" Faqir asked.

Clair twitched, the tone striking something within her. "I think it's important we focus on something other than manipulating poor butlers into doing you a sexual favor."

Faqir shrugged. "Worth an ask."

Romano seemed agitated, but maintained his blank stare. "With all do respect, sir, I can think of at least sixteen more productive things to do with my hands."

"Ouch. Harsh, man."

The redheaded boy chuckled. "Y'all are crazy. Not that I've got any room to judge. Braeden Carmichael, Ultimate Yankee. 'Cause apparently that's a talent."

Clair surveyed the crowd. "Well, I suppose we've all met now. What should we do now?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madoka Himura Character Portrait: Faqir Nawabi Character Portrait: Mercy Crocker Character Portrait: Clair LaBelle Character Portrait: Vivara Vernon Character Portrait: Faussin Inusum Character Portrait: Graham Forester Character Portrait: Romano Pselli Character Portrait: Finnian Harris Character Portrait: Oni Kurano Character Portrait: Ysabel Cross Character Portrait: Amelia Temmer Character Portrait: Eriko Zamora Character Portrait: Braeden Carmichael Character Portrait: Xhevona Abera Character Portrait: Bonnie Clyde
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Vivara's gaze lingered on Graham for a moment, as she tried to recall what his Ultimate was. Though, the more she thought, the more she began to remember how little information on him there was online. She pursed her lips. He must've erased all trace of himself from the internet.

She took a deep breath. "We should familiarize ourselves with the building, and look for any kind of exit. If we're expected to be here...forever...then I should hope there are places for us to sleep and food for us to eat."

"There are," Eriko confirmed. "When I was looking around, I stumbled across a cafeteria and several bedrooms labeled with our names. I looked through my room already, though I couldn't seem to get into anyone else's."

Vivara relaxed slightly. If anyone was going to die, at least it wasn't going to be by starvation. "Alright. That's good news, at least. I still move that we look around. And considering what Monokuma just said, I... perhaps it would be better if we were to all stay together. Wandering around alone seems dangerous in this situation."

Ysabel nodded. "I agree."

"Does anyone disagree?" Amelia asked, looking around.

There were no objections. Vivara, satisfied, began orchestrating their exploration of the building. Like Eriko said, there was a cafeteria with lots of food as well as two different hallways of bedrooms, each one assigned to a single person. The boys' bedrooms were connected to one hallway while the girls' were connected to the one next to it. They also found an arcade, a laundry room, a nurse's office and security office. Perhaps predictably, the two offices were locked.

A few days passed. The students settled in as well as anyone could, considering the situation. Holding a bagel in her hand, Vivara made her way to the conference room, where most of them had agreed to meet every morning. She was early, as she always was.

Opening the door, she took a bite of her bagel and examined the empty room. Cautiously, she checked underneath the table, just to make sure there wasn't someone waiting there to kill her. When she saw that no one was there, she quickly stood back up, sighing in relief.

As much as she wanted to believe no one among them planned to kill another, she knew better. Desperation brought out the worst in people, and this situation was no exception.

Taking a deep breath, she took a seat at the far end of the table. Vivara sat in wait of everyone else, mulling over what to do as she began munching on her breakfast.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madoka Himura Character Portrait: Faqir Nawabi Character Portrait: Mercy Crocker Character Portrait: Clair LaBelle Character Portrait: Vivara Vernon Character Portrait: Graham Forester Character Portrait: Romano Pselli Character Portrait: Finnian Harris Character Portrait: Ysabel Cross Character Portrait: Braeden Carmichael
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Vivara took a bite of her pastry, thankful she decided to take one before the boys came in and ruined both the table and the food. Grumbling something under her breath, she scooted her chair a few inches away from the table. Braedon's feet were the last thing she wanted in her face while she ate.

"You know, there are chairs in this room," she muttered. "Maybe they're there for a reason."

"Don't waste your breath," Mercy muttered. "I've met his type before. Your words fall on deaf ears."

Scoffing, Vivara began to push Braedon's legs off the end of the table. "Figures a hunter would have. I usually don't run into many slobs, seeing as my life is a bit more refined."

Mercy raised an eyebrow. "A 'hunter', huh? I'm glad I know where you stand."

Vivara seemed to realize her mistake. "Well. No, that's not what I--nevermind. It's just that my father has always had a rather negative look on hunters, so adjusting to your presence is taking a bit."

"Mmm." Mercy didn't seem convinced. She took a bite of her muffin.

Graham took a small, shimmering diamond out of his pocket and began to admire it.

Ysabel and Finnian walked in, both discussing something about holiday decorations. As Ysabel was commenting on lighting, Finnian was talking about how easy it would be to make something that would liven up the hotel.

"...But anyways, I'll stop rambling now," Finnian finished. He waved to everyone, then paused briefly to stare at Braeden. "I see the table is taken."

Ysabel walked in after him, taking a seat near the edge of the table. She tucked her hair behind her ears. "Hello. How did everyone sleep?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madoka Himura Character Portrait: Faqir Nawabi Character Portrait: Mercy Crocker Character Portrait: Clair LaBelle Character Portrait: Vivara Vernon Character Portrait: Graham Forester Character Portrait: Romano Pselli Character Portrait: Finnian Harris Character Portrait: Oni Kurano Character Portrait: Ysabel Cross Character Portrait: Braeden Carmichael
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Braeden scoffed, moving his feet off the table. Clair reached for a scone, grateful when Faqir reached for one that was untainted and passed it to her. He yawned.

"Yo, Finn, I can hook you up with some danishes," Faqir offered, waving a cheese danish in the air. Romano finally dashed in to collect the rest of the food and carry it.

Oni threw the door open, slamming it against the far wall. Clair noticed Madoka jump and patted his leg. He muttered something about how difficult it was to remain relaxed when people like Oni existed.

"THE GREAT DEMON QUEEN HAS ARRIVED!" Oni yelled. "MORTALS, YOU MAY NOW COMMENCE EATING."

"I'm afraid all our food has been tainted, madam," Romano muttered. Faqir winked at him.

Clair thought for a moment. "We're waiting on Vona, Eriko, Fauss, Bonnie, and Amelia, right? Have any of you seen them?"

Oni laughed. "I TAKE NOTICE OF NO MERE HUMAN! HER EMPRESS KURANO ONI HAS FAR BETTER THINGS TO DO!"

Clair deliberately ignored her, glancing at Graham. "Are you going to keep those trays?"

"Do not bother him with such questions, madam," Romano said. "I'm afraid our food is already ruined."

Faqir waved his cheese danish around as if inviting someone to take it from him.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madoka Himura Character Portrait: Faqir Nawabi Character Portrait: Mercy Crocker Character Portrait: Clair LaBelle Character Portrait: Vivara Vernon Character Portrait: Faussin Inusum Character Portrait: Graham Forester Character Portrait: Romano Pselli Character Portrait: Finnian Harris Character Portrait: Oni Kurano Character Portrait: Ysabel Cross Character Portrait: Amelia Temmer Character Portrait: Eriko Zamora Character Portrait: Braeden Carmichael
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Vivara frowned. Braeden's feet were gone, but the dirt from his shoes were now all over her spot. She grumbled under her breath some more, disgusted.

Finnian took the cheese danish Faqir was offering, looking over it carefully. "I'm scared to eat this, but I'm really hungry."

"Take a risk! Also, yes, these trays are mine now," Graham decided, staring down at them. "I like the way light reflects off of them. And you guys have other trays, right? You won't miss these."

"Friends," Eriko greeted the group, walking through the door. Amelia was on one side of her and Faussin on the other, her arms hooked with theirs. "Another day starts. How are you all doing?"

Faussin and Amelia split away from her, both seeming equally unnerved. Vivara wasn't surprised by this, seeing as Eriko had already shown her blatant disregard for personal boundaries. Every morning, she would latch onto one or two students and bombard them with uncomfortable questions as they made their way to the conference room.

Amelia lingered in the corner of the room while Faussin took a seat next to Madoka, seeming somewhat distracted.

"We're doing well enough, I think," Mercy replied, sighing slightly. "How are you?"

"Good, as always," Eriko said. "Thank you for asking. Is everyone here?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madoka Himura Character Portrait: Faqir Nawabi Character Portrait: Mercy Crocker Character Portrait: Clair LaBelle Character Portrait: Vivara Vernon Character Portrait: Faussin Inusum Character Portrait: Graham Forester Character Portrait: Romano Pselli Character Portrait: Finnian Harris Character Portrait: Oni Kurano Character Portrait: Ysabel Cross Character Portrait: Amelia Temmer Character Portrait: Eriko Zamora Character Portrait: Braeden Carmichael Character Portrait: Xhevona Abera
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Clair waved a "hello" to Fauss, offering him the scone Faqir had passed her. "That's almost everyone. We're missing Bonnie and Vona."

"Someone called?" Xhevona poked her head in, then slowly emerged fully, her usual pleasant smile gracing her features. Xhevona's serenity had never died down throughout the time after the announcement. Though her polite smile and relaxed posture was off-putting to some, Clair recognized in Xhevona another person willing to spend eternity in this hotel. There was no reason to leave, and Xhevona seemed to know that as well as Clair did.

Romano swept towards the table and began to brush the dirt from Braeden's shoes into his hand, muttering about cleaning supplies. Faqir waved to him. Romano deliberately ignored him.

Time continued to trickle onwards, but no sign of Bonnie ever arrived. Clair began to get more and more worried--they'd been doing so well, surely she was just tired--but when Madoka finally spoke up beside her, she found she couldn't deny the possibility.

"Do you think someone killed Bonnie?"

Clair bit her lip. "Nonsense," she insisted. "She's probably just still asleep, or rehearsing something in her room. Bonnie always spends a lot of time putting on one-woman shows or reading Shakespeare alone in her--"

"C-Clair, I'm..." Madoka swallowed, fiddling with his hands. "I-I'm serious. We knew it was going to happen some time. It's been a really long time and she still didn't show up. I-I don't want to...but what if someone...you know?"

She did. Clair knew exactly what he meant--she just hated to think about it.

"Let's go look for her," she suggested. "Maybe she's just spending the day in the pool or something. Madoka, Fauss, Amelia, we can go check the boy's bedroom hall. Vona, will you go with Finnian and Vivara and check the sports center? Faqir, Oni, and Eriko can look in the girl's bedroom hall. And Braeden, you go with Ysabel, Mercy, and Graham to check around the lobby. Come back here in an hour and tell us if you find Bonnie."

"Aye aye, Boss." Faqir saluted. "I'll let you know if I find the body."

"There's no body," Clair insisted quickly.

There wasn't. There couldn't be. Things were going so well.

No one would stoop to that sort of level...would they?

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madoka Himura Character Portrait: Faqir Nawabi Character Portrait: Mercy Crocker Character Portrait: Clair LaBelle Character Portrait: Vivara Vernon Character Portrait: Faussin Inusum Character Portrait: Graham Forester Character Portrait: Romano Pselli Character Portrait: Finnian Harris Character Portrait: Oni Kurano Character Portrait: Ysabel Cross Character Portrait: Amelia Temmer Character Portrait: Eriko Zamora Character Portrait: Braeden Carmichael Character Portrait: Xhevona Abera
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Eriko gestured toward the door. "Shall we?"

The group quickly made their way back to the conference room, the others meeting them inside. Eriko explained what Monokuma had told her and the others, placing the Monokuma file in the middle of the table for anyone who wanted to look at it. Vivara was the first to reach for it, scanning its contents with a quickness fitting to the title "Ultimate Librarian." An unspoken heaviness hung over all of them, and Eriko was sure they were all thinking the same thing: someone in the room was a murderer.

Mercy leaned against the door, crossing her arms. "So Monokuma said he wants us to find the killer?"

"Yes," Amelia confirmed. "And he mentioned something about a 'class trial', though he was gone before we could ask him what that was."

Vivara adjusted her glasses. "This file says Bonnie died by a small incision to the heart, made by a sharp object. With a wound like that, it only makes sense that the murder weapon was small, meaning that this was no regular knife. Perhaps a needle of some sort?"

"The girls have sewing kits, don't they?" Mercy muttered.

"I believe so," Vivara replied. "And there's one more thing that occurs to me. Such a precise move would require advanced medical knowledge--knowledge that the Ultimate Surgeon and Ultimate Scientist most likely have. And before anyone here takes that a step further, I'm not accusing anyone just yet. I'm merely stating the facts."

Eriko hummed. "As the Ultimate Librarian, you too may have stumbled upon that knowledge. While I agree that both the Ultimate Scientist and Surgeon are now higher on our list of suspects, so are you."

Viviara nodded. "I expected that and I am fine with it. I know I'm not guilty, and so naturally, the evidence will not point to me in the end."

"You sound so sure," Mercy commented.

"Is that a bad thing?" Vivara asked.

Mercy just shrugged.

Faussin shifted uncomfortably. "Hold on. Can I say something?"

Vivara nodded. "Go ahead."

Several eyes shifted to him. Seeming even more uncomfortable than before, he began fidgeting with the hem of his jacket. "Well, I guess--Finnian. He's the Ultimate Scientist, but just 'scientist' is really vague. Isn't his focus more in chemistry and stuff?"

"It is," Vivara confirmed. "But I researched most of you before I came to attend, Finnian included. His focus is in chemistry and related sciences, but he has thoroughly explored all of the other sciences as well."

She paused, looking pointedly at Finnian. "In fact, I am one-hundred percent certain that Finnian has the knowledge needed to have committed this murder. But again, that doesn't mean I think he's the killer."

Finnian was quiet.

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Character Portrait: Madoka Himura Character Portrait: Faqir Nawabi Character Portrait: Mercy Crocker Character Portrait: Clair LaBelle Character Portrait: Vivara Vernon Character Portrait: Faussin Inusum Character Portrait: Graham Forester Character Portrait: Romano Pselli Character Portrait: Finnian Harris Character Portrait: Oni Kurano Character Portrait: Ysabel Cross Character Portrait: Amelia Temmer Character Portrait: Eriko Zamora Character Portrait: Braeden Carmichael Character Portrait: Xhevona Abera
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How much longer did they have? Faqir felt like this time was dragging on forever.

"What's all this about a trial, anyway?" he blurted. "There was nothing mentioned about that at orientation. I'm startin' to think that bear's just making stuff up."

Clair folded her arms, then unfolded them and placed Bonnie's note on the table. "We can worry about that later. In the meantime, Faqir found this stuffed into Bonnie's dress. It seems to be some kind of note she wrote herself."

Xhevona--unflappable as always, her expression vaguely concerned but not frightened--opened her mouth to speak. "You say the incision was precisely aimed for the heart? If it was indeed small, a sewing needle may be the best guess, leading us to assume a female suspect...but I can tell you as a surgeon that it would have to be an incredibly long and somewhat thick one to cause any actual damage. I have not yet opened my kit, are there any needles involved that would actually work for such a task?"

Clair bit her lip. "Actually, she has a point. Those things aren't that long, but I guess if you hit the right spot..."

Braeden shook his head. "Nah, that don't make sense to me. She had good-sized boobs, a needle wouldn't get through 'em to reach 'er heart."

Clair glared at him--there was a level of untapped fury in her gaze that made Faqir decide to work harder to stay on her good side. "No one asked you to contribute if you're just going to be disgusting. God, show some respect, the poor girl lost her life and here you are talking about her chest!"

"Shouldn't we save some discussion for the trial?" Faqir asked. "I mean, who knows how much longer we have to investigate? We should focus on that and worry about punching Braeden for being a sleaze later."

"You're just as bad as me!" Braeden retorted.

"I didn't comment on poor Bonnie's chest, bro. Just touched it."

"How the h*ll's that better?!"

"Would you two shut your f*cking mouths?!" Clair nearly shouted.

Faqir instantly went quiet. He noticed Madoka, glued to Clair's side as usual, jump with a start; the boy placed a hand on Clair's shoulder and she took a deep breath, silently counting to ten.

"Sorry," she murmured. "I just...look, there will be time to fight later. W-we can't let all this...we've worked hard to build up a harmonious existence here. Let's not let it break just yet...Faqir was right, though, we need to investigate. What do you all suggest we do first? I-I'm not--I can't focus right now. I'm sorry."

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Character Portrait: Madoka Himura Character Portrait: Faqir Nawabi Character Portrait: Mercy Crocker Character Portrait: Clair LaBelle Character Portrait: Vivara Vernon Character Portrait: Faussin Inusum Character Portrait: Graham Forester Character Portrait: Romano Pselli Character Portrait: Finnian Harris Character Portrait: Oni Kurano Character Portrait: Ysabel Cross Character Portrait: Amelia Temmer Character Portrait: Eriko Zamora Character Portrait: Braeden Carmichael Character Portrait: Xhevona Abera
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Eriko tapped her chin, recalling everything she'd found in her sewing kit. Upon coming into her room, she'd thoroughly checked everything inside, leaving nothing untouched. And if she recalled correctly...

"A regularly sized sewing needle may not be big enough for the task," Eriko muttered, "but what about an extra long one? There were two needles in the pack, both in varying sizes."

Finnian frowned. "That would probably do it."

She turned to Clair. "And as for investigation. Considering the longer sewing needle may have been enough to inflict such a specific wound, why don't we check all the girls' sewing kits? If anyone's needle is missing or bloody, that may point us in the right direction."

Mercy nodded. "We'll need everyone's cooperation, however. We can only get into someone's room if they let us in."

Graham shrugged. "Not necessarily."

Vivara narrowed her eyes. "What do you mean, 'not necessarily'?"

"What I mean is that," Graham took a handbook out from seemingly out of nowhere, "all you really need to get into someone's room is their handbook. That being said, Faqir, you should really keep a better eye on yours."

Amelia stared at him. "How do you know that?"

"I just watched. It wasn't very hard to figure out," he said, talking as if it were no big deal. He extended the handbook to Faqir. "Also, here. This is yours."

Eriko tilted her head. "Why did you give that back to him? Usually, when you take things, you never plan on giving them back."

"Usually, yes," Graham agreed. "But some things are different. The handbook was assigned to him by an evil teddy bear thing, his name is programmed into it, and... I don't know, it's just not shiny enough."

"Your chair isn't very shiny," Eriko pointed out.

"Yes, but it's comfy and inviting," Graham said.

Mercy crossed her arms. "There are 30 other chairs just like it. Why just that one? Why not all of the chairs?"

"Don't give him ideas!" Vivara hissed.

"I can't make sense of my madness! I just liked the one chair more than the others. What's done is done," Graham replied. "Now let's get back on track. We don't have a lot of time."

Amelia nodded. "To the girls' rooms, then?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madoka Himura Character Portrait: Faqir Nawabi Character Portrait: Mercy Crocker Character Portrait: Clair LaBelle Character Portrait: Vivara Vernon Character Portrait: Faussin Inusum Character Portrait: Graham Forester Character Portrait: Romano Pselli Character Portrait: Finnian Harris Character Portrait: Oni Kurano Character Portrait: Ysabel Cross Character Portrait: Amelia Temmer Character Portrait: Eriko Zamora Character Portrait: Braeden Carmichael Character Portrait: Xhevona Abera
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Faqir scrambled in his pockets for his handbook and realized that, yet, it was in fact missing. Admittedly impressed, he reached out to take it from Graham. "Swiper, no swiping."

"Askin' Graham not to steal's like askin' me not to hit on chicks," Braeden stated plainly. Faqir shrugged.

Oni, who had gone amazingly quiet after the body discovery, shuffled out into the hallways and headed for the girls' rooms. Clair followed her (with Madoka predictably trotting after her). Faqir yawned, going to stand with Xhevona.

"So you think a longer needle could work, Dr. X?"

She thought, rubbing her chin. "It's possible...the pressure of the heart bursting against uneven pressure of a small hole could potentially burst the heart and cause a great leak of blood. The internal bleeding would cause some issues. Though it would be easier to simply burst a blood vessel and allow the victim to bleed out that way."

"That's why you're our resident creepy serial killer!" Faqir thumped her on the back twice, skipping off to join the others. She laughed behind him, following.

"I understand I have been brought up as a suspect, so I feel the need to defend myself--I will repeat that as a surgeon, it is my responsibility to save lives, not take them. My medical expertise does place me in the green, but I am confident the evidence shall clear my name as we uncover the truth," Xhevona announced. "That said, I shall check my own room, as it is easiest for each student to maintain control of their own handbook--will one of you check Bonnie's body for her handbook and look in her room for any other clues?"

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Character Portrait: Madoka Himura Character Portrait: Faqir Nawabi Character Portrait: Mercy Crocker Character Portrait: Clair LaBelle Character Portrait: Vivara Vernon Character Portrait: Faussin Inusum Character Portrait: Graham Forester Character Portrait: Romano Pselli Character Portrait: Finnian Harris Character Portrait: Oni Kurano Character Portrait: Ysabel Cross Character Portrait: Amelia Temmer Character Portrait: Eriko Zamora Character Portrait: Braeden Carmichael Character Portrait: Xhevona Abera
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Eriko laughed, walking with everyone to the girls' hallway. "Checking your own room? That's silly. If you're the murderer, then checking your own room will allow you to clear any potential evidence inside. I move that no one checks their own room, and every room be checked in pairs in case of potential framing."

"I second that," Mercy said. "Let's see. Eriko and I will check Bonnie's room, Faqir and can check Xhevona's room, Romano and Vivara can check my room, Madoka and Fauss can check Amelia's room, Braeden and Graham can check Ysabel's room, Amelia and Finnian can check Vivara's room, Ysabel and Xhevona can check Clair's room, and... Romano and Viv, when you finish, check Eriko's room. We don't have enough to evenly distribute two people to each room, so I hope you don't mind checking two."

Vivara adjusted her glasses. "I don't mind. I should hope Romano doesn't, either."

Finnian stared at Xhevona for a moment. "Wait a second. I think that's wrong, actually. I'm a little rusty, but the more I think about it, the more it comes back to me. The needle would be able to get through to the heart and puncture it, but it wouldn't be able to kill quickly. Someone could live for hours--even days--with that kind of injury. What makes more sense is that someone used the needle to get through, then used something else to make the wound larger and kill them more quickly."

He paused, eyes narrowing slightly. "As a surgeon, shouldn't you know this, Vona?"

"Let's check the rooms first," Eriko said, handing her handbook to Vivara. She started toward the laundry room for Bonnie's handbook. "We can discuss everything later. We need more evidence first."

Mercy handed her handbook to Vivara, who handed her own handbook to Amelia. Amelia handed her handbook to Fauss, and Ysabel handed her handbook to Graham.

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Character Portrait: Madoka Himura Character Portrait: Faqir Nawabi Character Portrait: Mercy Crocker Character Portrait: Clair LaBelle Character Portrait: Vivara Vernon Character Portrait: Faussin Inusum Character Portrait: Graham Forester Character Portrait: Romano Pselli Character Portrait: Finnian Harris Character Portrait: Oni Kurano Character Portrait: Ysabel Cross Character Portrait: Amelia Temmer Character Portrait: Eriko Zamora Character Portrait: Braeden Carmichael Character Portrait: Xhevona Abera
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Xhevona looked briefly surprised at Finnian's comment. "Ah...I suppose. As I mentioned, I will admit my expertise lies in patching patients back together, so when it comes to making improper incisions...I suppose my knowledge has some gaps."

Faqir winced slightly, glancing at Clair out of the corner of his eye. Her outburst earlier was unexpected, but she seemed back to her usual calmness now. Faqir sighed in relief--it would be awkward doing investigating if Clair was still furious at him.

If Xhevona was upset by her room being searched by someone else, she didn't show it-- her usual relaxed smile was on her face as she passed her handbook over to Clair. "Very well. I apologize for the mess--please do feel free to move around whatever you like."

Clair nodded, taking the handbook. She glanced at Faqir for a moment, then shook her head. "I'll hang on to this. You'd probably just lose it to Graham."

Faqir raised a hand. "Guilty as charged. Lead the way, Sergeant!"

Romano looked around briefly. "I do apologize in advance to Miss Eriko and Miss Mercy, as I am afraid your rooms may be quite a bit cleaner by the time I leave them. However, I have no qualms with checking two."

Faqir chuckled. "Uh-oh, ladies. Better hide your porn stashes or Romano might clean you out."

Romano's blank expression didn't change. "I believe you are better off addressing yourself, Master Faqir."

"Yikes. Caught me."

Clair rolled her eyes, handing her handbook to Xhevona, who accepted it. "Please don't do this the whole time we're searching the room."

"I make you no promises."

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Character Portrait: Madoka Himura Character Portrait: Faqir Nawabi Character Portrait: Mercy Crocker Character Portrait: Clair LaBelle Character Portrait: Vivara Vernon Character Portrait: Faussin Inusum Character Portrait: Graham Forester Character Portrait: Romano Pselli Character Portrait: Finnian Harris Character Portrait: Oni Kurano Character Portrait: Ysabel Cross Character Portrait: Amelia Temmer Character Portrait: Eriko Zamora Character Portrait: Braeden Carmichael Character Portrait: Xhevona Abera
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Faqir and Clair were just about to step into the lobby when Monokuma's voice sounded over the speakers.

"That concludes the investigation period! Students, report to the red door at the end of the hall pronto so the trial can begin!"

Clair nodded slowly. "I think he means the one at the end of that hallway on the other end of the boys' bedrooms. The one with the nurse's office and security office, remember?"

Faqir nodded back. "That or he's screwing with us."

"Both likely. Come on, let's go. The others will meet us there."

As the two made their way down the hall, the other pairs joining them along the way, Faqir felt his stomach tie itself in knots. Monokuma's statement earlier had made him nauseous, but there was no way he could show that in front of everyone else. Faqir was the comic relief. He had to stay that way, for their sakes.

For Bonnie's sake.

As the group reached the red door at the end of the hall, marked with Monokuma's mechanical red eye at the top, it creaked open, leading to an elevator room. Nervously, Faqir stepped towards it. The group crowded into the elevator, and with a load screech it careened downwards at a surprising speed.

"W-where are we going?" Madoka whispered.

"Towards the infernal depths of Hell!" Oni declared triumphantly.

Somehow, Faqir had the growing sense she wasn't wrong.

I need a humor fix. "Careful, Mado. If those demons hear all those thoughts you have about Clair, they might mistake you for one of them and devour your bones."

"I-I...! W-what thoughts?!"

"I can always count on you for hilarious reactions! Thanks, buddy."

The elevator grinded to a halt. As the doors slid open, Faqir was greeted by the sight of what looked like a courtroom. Pictures of the students were set up in a circle of sixteen chairs--Bonnie's had been grayed out and painted with a blood-red "X".

Monokuma sat at a judge's chair behind the circle of witness stands. "Come on in, find your seats! Let's get this trial underway!"

Faqir had never been more grateful to have to stand next to Mercy--she was one of the ones who had remained level-headed and calm throughout the whole endeavor. She would know what to say when he was completely out of words.

His heart pounding like a jackhammer, he moved towards his stand, dreading what would come next.

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Character Portrait: Madoka Himura Character Portrait: Faqir Nawabi Character Portrait: Mercy Crocker Character Portrait: Clair LaBelle Character Portrait: Vivara Vernon Character Portrait: Faussin Inusum Character Portrait: Graham Forester Character Portrait: Romano Pselli Character Portrait: Finnian Harris Character Portrait: Oni Kurano Character Portrait: Ysabel Cross Character Portrait: Amelia Temmer Character Portrait: Eriko Zamora Character Portrait: Braeden Carmichael Character Portrait: Xhevona Abera
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Eriko walked toward her place, her heart beating faster when she realized she was standing next to both Finnian and Xhevona, two of their strongest suspects. She couldn't help but glance over at Mercy, who seemed just as calm as before. The Ultimate Hunter stood with solidity and strength.

Pressing her hands together, Eriko let herself be inspired by that strength. Something told her she would need it to get through whatever Monokuma had planned next.

As everyone found their spots and stray glances were shot across the room, some full of doubt and others filled with hate, Monokuma smiled. "Welcome, everyone, to the class trial!"

Vivara crossed her arms. "Are you going to tell us what that means now?"

"Well, of course!" He spat. "How else would you be able to go on? Now, listen closely."

Eriko stood up straighter, eyes on Monokuma.

"During the trial, everyone will have to present their arguments on who they think the blackened is. And once everything comes to an end, the outcome will be decided by a majority vote!" Monokuma declared. "If the answer you come up with is correct..."

He giggled, "then the murderer will be executed!"

"E-executed?" Finnian echoed, eyes widening. "You mean you're going to kill them?"

"Well, duh! How else are we going to deal with those who would disturb the peace?" He asked. His cute voice somehow made everything sound so much worse.

Mercy narrowed her eyes. "What happens if we guess wrong?"

"Then the murderer will get to escape," Monokuma said, "and everyone else will be executed instead!"

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Character Portrait: Madoka Himura Character Portrait: Faqir Nawabi Character Portrait: Mercy Crocker Character Portrait: Clair LaBelle Character Portrait: Vivara Vernon Character Portrait: Faussin Inusum Character Portrait: Graham Forester Character Portrait: Romano Pselli Character Portrait: Finnian Harris Character Portrait: Oni Kurano Character Portrait: Ysabel Cross Character Portrait: Amelia Temmer Character Portrait: Eriko Zamora Character Portrait: Braeden Carmichael Character Portrait: Xhevona Abera
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Faqir's heart dropped and his stomach flopped at the same time.

A surge of bile rose in his throat. Thankfully for his image, he managed to swallow it back down.

Oh God. Another person is going to die here. We're all going to die here. What were we thinking?

He glanced across the way at Clair, who had once again bitten down on her lip to draw blood. Mercy looked as relaxed as ever--Faqir focused on her to relax as well.

"I swear I totally called this too." He paused. "Yo Clair, did I call this?"

Predictably, she ignored him. "How long do we have?"

"Eh, until I get bored," Monokuma said, waving his paw nonchalantly.

Faqir took a deep breath, choosing to keep quiet. Someone speak up already. Oh God.

Romano's expression was blank as ever. "Well, sirs and madams, I regret to say that it may be most beneficial to us to begin working out the details of this murder. If we fail, we shall all die. It is best in this scenario to sacrifice one for the good of many--that one was, after all, a cold-blooded killer."

The uncaring tone of his voice rose a hot fury in Faqir. He gripped the edges of the stands, forcing out something lighthearted. "Romano Pselli, everyone--ever the source of comedy."

Romano looked less than pleased. "To begin, shall we review the details of the case? What did we determine was the murder weapon?"

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Character Portrait: Madoka Himura Character Portrait: Faqir Nawabi Character Portrait: Mercy Crocker Character Portrait: Clair LaBelle Character Portrait: Vivara Vernon Character Portrait: Faussin Inusum Character Portrait: Graham Forester Character Portrait: Romano Pselli Character Portrait: Finnian Harris Character Portrait: Oni Kurano Character Portrait: Ysabel Cross Character Portrait: Amelia Temmer Character Portrait: Eriko Zamora Character Portrait: Braeden Carmichael Character Portrait: Xhevona Abera
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Next to Eriko, Finnian took a deep breath. "I don't think we ever confirmed it, but I believe the likeliest thing is the extra long needle from one of the girls' sewing kits, along with something a bit bigger to puncture the heart and speed up the death."

Vivara nodded. Eriko stared at her--she hadn't noticed it at first, but the Ultimate Librarian's hands were shaking. The circumstances were getting to even her. "That seems right. When we were searching the rooms, did anyone happen upon a missing needle?"

"Mercy and I did," Eriko said. "B-Bonnie's needle was missing. The killer may have stolen it instead of using theirs. As for why it's missing, Mercy and I speculated that the killer must not have had enough time to put it back. That, or they lost it somewhere."

Mercy nodded in agreement. "That's right. As far as we know, the only people here with enough knowledge to kill so specifically are Xhevona, Finnian, and Vivara. Correct?"

Graham nodded. "Correct."

"Wait," Vivara muttered. "Graham, you never told us your Ultimate."

He blinked. "What? Oh. I was kind of hoping I could get away with never telling, but the circumstances kind of call for it now, huh? Ultimate Thief, if you hadn't already guessed it."

"How do we know he's not lying?" Amelia mumbled.

As if to prove himself, Graham held up a pile of shimmering stones. "Here. I've broken in Faqir's room at least five times now. You've really got to keep a better eye on your handbook, bro."

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Character Portrait: Madoka Himura Character Portrait: Faqir Nawabi Character Portrait: Mercy Crocker Character Portrait: Clair LaBelle Character Portrait: Vivara Vernon Character Portrait: Faussin Inusum Character Portrait: Graham Forester Character Portrait: Romano Pselli Character Portrait: Finnian Harris Character Portrait: Oni Kurano Character Portrait: Ysabel Cross Character Portrait: Amelia Temmer Character Portrait: Eriko Zamora Character Portrait: Braeden Carmichael Character Portrait: Xhevona Abera
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"W-what the--" Faqir felt in his pockets for his handbook--it was still there now, but apparently Graham had snatched it from him many times already. "Well played, Swiper. Well played."

He felt the paper in his pocket--it wouldn't be much use right now, but he resolved to bring it up later.

Clair frowned, drawing Bonnie's note out of her jacket pocket. "If the killer was smart enough to steal someone else's needle, we're dealing with someone pretty dangerous. They knew that if something went wrong, their own needle being missing would be bad. So I guess that rules out Faqir."

Faqir snorted--Clair's jab had calmed his spirits at least somewhat. "Ow. You hit me in the cavity where my heart would be if I had one."

Clair winked at him. Immediately, Faqir understood what her bringing it up had done--she'd meant to calm him down. He realized his knuckles had turned white from gripping the stand so hard and loosened his grip, taking a deep breath.

Clair held out Bonnie's note. "Remember this? She mentions a time and talks about things to do. I'm guessing someone was inviting her over to do something. And the cause of death--the welt on her head, remember? Her killer probably knocked her out and made the fatal wound while she was unconscious."

"SHE WAS LUCKY!" Oni cackled. "MY MINIONS WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN SO MERCIFUL HAD I GOTTEN A HOLD ON HER! MUAHAHAHAHA!"

"I-I'm not sure I would call this lucky...a-and I should know," Madoka said.

"So some guy invited her over to get it on!" Braeden declared.

Clair sighed miserably, resting her face in her hand. "Or maybe it had something to do with acting, as the notes on scripts, masks, and costumes would suggest."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madoka Himura Character Portrait: Faqir Nawabi Character Portrait: Mercy Crocker Character Portrait: Clair LaBelle Character Portrait: Vivara Vernon Character Portrait: Faussin Inusum Character Portrait: Graham Forester Character Portrait: Romano Pselli Character Portrait: Finnian Harris Character Portrait: Oni Kurano Character Portrait: Ysabel Cross Character Portrait: Amelia Temmer Character Portrait: Eriko Zamora Character Portrait: Braeden Carmichael Character Portrait: Xhevona Abera
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Eriko closed her eyes, thinking. "The note had a time on it, did it not? Can you repeat it for us?"

Finnian's eyes lit up. "Wait. It had a time? Does anyone remember what order we came into the conference room?"

"I do," Eriko said. "Or more accurately, I asked Clair, who was the second to come in. Vivara--first to come in--cleared everything the girl said. Remembering Clair's testimony, everyone came in this exact order: Vivara, then Clair, then Mercy, then Madoka, then Graham, then Braedon and Faqir, then Finnian and Ysabel, followed by me, Fauss, and Amelia... and lastly, Vona."

"Rather suspicious that Vona arrived last," Amelia said. "And alone, at that."

Eriko glanced at Finnian out of the corner of her eye. He was staring at Xhevona with a look that would kill, his hands sweaty and gripping the edge of his stand tightly. Eriko moved her hands closer to herself, suddenly more aware of the people she was sandwiched between.Her gaze switched to Xhevona, whose brow was narrowed in concern.

Did you kill that poor girl? Eriko thought, her breath catching in her throat. Her fists began to clench. A fury like she'd never felt before began to build in her stomach. If you killed girl... then maybe you deserve what Monokuma has in store for you.

"We also found this in Bonnie's room." Mercy's voice cut through Eriko's thoughts. She held up the chipped mask they'd found before. "It's completely possible that this mask chipped before somehow, though knowing how much Bonnie cared about theater you'd think she tried to be careful with her things. If this is at all related to the murder, I thought I might as well mention it."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madoka Himura Character Portrait: Faqir Nawabi Character Portrait: Mercy Crocker Character Portrait: Clair LaBelle Character Portrait: Vivara Vernon Character Portrait: Faussin Inusum Character Portrait: Graham Forester Character Portrait: Romano Pselli Character Portrait: Finnian Harris Character Portrait: Oni Kurano Character Portrait: Ysabel Cross Character Portrait: Amelia Temmer Character Portrait: Eriko Zamora Character Portrait: Braeden Carmichael Character Portrait: Xhevona Abera
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Clair nodded. β€œMaybe she wore it to go rehearse a scene? It makes sense for her to bring a mask if she was hoping to rehearse with someone. That must be what the note was about.”

Faqir’s head swam. He looked over at Xhevona, who met his eyes evenly.

What does it all mean? We’re amateurs. We’re going to fail.

β€œHARK!” Oni slammed her hand on the stand. β€œTHE DEMON QUEEN HAS DETERMINED THE MURDERER!”

At once, Faqir brightened tremendously. β€œWay to go, Oni! Who is it?!”

β€œDid I give you permission to call me by name, mortal swine?! Anyway, is it not obvious?! THE BUTLER DID IT!”

Romano looked irked.

Faqir knew at once that she was making something up, but it was lightening his spirits. He decided to play along.

β€œOf course! I’ve seen so many murder mysteries, it should have been obvious! The butler always does it.”

Romano rolled his eyes. β€œYour powers of deduction are astounding, truly. What proof do you have?”

β€œHER ROYAL EMPRESS KURANO ONI NEEDS NO PROOF BUT HER OWN INTUITION!”

Clair groaned. β€œIf you don’t mind getting back on track, you asked for the time on Bonnie’s note earlier, right? It was 9:30.”

9:30… The time reminded Faqir of the schedule he’d found. He decided to pull it out. β€œThat reminds me, when we were snooping in Vona’s room I found something.” He pulled out the schedule from his pocket and presented it to the others. For just a split second, Xhevona’s composure flickered; she maintained a blank stare. β€œIt has 9:30 marked on it. Nothing is listed, but...for some reason the time felt important. I dunno. I’m not very smart, remember? Someone else put two and two together.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madoka Himura Character Portrait: Faqir Nawabi Character Portrait: Mercy Crocker Character Portrait: Clair LaBelle Character Portrait: Vivara Vernon Character Portrait: Faussin Inusum Character Portrait: Graham Forester Character Portrait: Romano Pselli Character Portrait: Finnian Harris Character Portrait: Oni Kurano Character Portrait: Ysabel Cross Character Portrait: Eriko Zamora Character Portrait: Braeden Carmichael Character Portrait: Xhevona Abera Character Portrait: Bonnie Clyde
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"What it means," Mercy began evenly, her calm eyes falling upon Xhevona, "is that Miss Vona here is growing more and more suspicious by the minute. Both Bonnie and Xhevona had papers marked with the time 9:30. According to the Monokuma file, Bonnie died around 9:36, which is only six minutes after the recorded time. Coincidence? I think not."

She placed her arms on the front of her stand, now locked on Xhevona, "and Clair deduced that the note was most likely referring to a scene Bonnie was going to rehearse with someone. Assuming they were going to rehearse this scene in her room, it would be easy for the killer to knock Bonnie out and steal the needle from her kit to finish her off. To finish her off, might I mention, the only way a person with advanced medical knowledge would know how to."

"Are you accusing Vona?" Vivara asked, crossing her arms.

"I'm only pointing out things that occur to me," Mercy replied. "And though there is a chance Vona is being framed, I find it unlikely. All Monokuma had told us at the point of Bonnie's death was that killing someone meant escaping. There was no talk of trials or investigation, meaning there was no reason to frame anyone."

Vivara nodded. "Very well. Clair, Faqir, did you find anything else in Vona's room that could be considered incriminating?"