Sun's Joy: Academy of Despair

Sixteen students carrying the world's hopes on their shoulders suddenly find themselves in the academy of their dreams. But this hope soon turns to despair as they find there is no way out. Well, unless you count what the strange black and white teddy bear said. But really, who would actually go as far as to kill another? Surely there must be another way out.


10. Stalemate

“That laugh...” Melissa said, paling. “That was Monobear, right?”

“It sounded like it...” Charlie added.

“So then...” Shauna began. “What does this mean?”

“I suppose it means that maybe Monobear is more involved than we first thought,” John said curiously, looking at Monobear. “Care to explain why your voice is heard during Andrew's murder?”

“I don't have to explain anything to you bastards!” Monobear roared.

“You sure do seem suspicious right now...” Chelsea said.

“Plus, it'd be a shame to end the game right now because you're behaving like a spoiled child,” Dirk said. “If it weren't for the situation, I'd be laughing my ass off at your stupidity right now.”


“Upupu~” Monobear suddenly giggled. “Upupu... bwahaha! This is priceless!”

“Priceless?” Mark asked.

“Yep!” Monobear chortled. “From the looks of it, you bastards suspect me as the killer!”

Well, we have good reason to,” Ella said evenly. “You trapped us in this school, and came up with the game in the first place. Plus, you seemed awfully happy when we found Andrew; is it really out there to suggest that you maybe got bored and killed him just to kick-start the School Life of Mutual Killing?”

She has a point...” Shauna said. “Maybe you did do it?”

Isn't that odd, though?” Naomi suggested. “Since, you know, if you're caught as the killer... you get executed.”

Then maybe that means that if we can prove Monobear's guilt, he'll kill himself and we'll be set free?” Joel pondered.

Ahahahaha! This is too much!” Monobear howled. “I never thought you bastards were the brightest bunch, but to assume I killed someone? How stupid can you get?!”

Evidently not that much,” Ella said. “And since you can pop up wherever, it would hardly be a challenge to move the evidence, even for you.”

But I'm a good bear that adheres to regulations!” Monobear snapped. “I wouldn't dream of entering the cafeteria during Night Time, so explain that!”

Your moral philosophy hardly holds any ground,” Ella argued. “How do we know you didn't modify the rule during the time of the murder? That way, everything you did would have been perfectly legal.”

You're one to talk!” Monobear accused. “You're hardly squeaky clean yourself!”

...What?” Ella gasped. “What do you mean?”
“Staying out past Night Time, wandering the halls until three...” Monobear listed. “And that's not even mentioning wasting a golden opportunity to murder Miss ETL Toy Maker!”

What?!” Shauna screeched. “She would never! We're friends!”

Upupu...” Monobear giggled. “See? How do you like it when I throw accusations at you?!”

Fine, whatever,” Ella said. “So can you just explain why you were laughing in the same room that Andrew died in?”

Nope!” Monobear replied. “You do it!”

But...” Ella faltered. “We don't have any evidence for or against your involvement. Since obviously, you wouldn't leave anything behind for us to uncover, right?”

Upupu~” Monobear giggled. “Upupu~”

Just give us an answer!” Ella finally snapped, breaking her composure. “We're out of evidence, so fill us in, damn it!”


Wait a sec!” Nina called out urgently. “I actually have some evidence!”

You do?” Marian asked. “Why didn't you tell us earlier?”
“Because I wasn't sure if it was anything or not,” Nina admitted sheepishly. “But now I think it might have something to do with the case!”

What is this evidence?” Melissa asked.

I found it in the wood workshop,” Nina began.

The workshop?” Shauna asked.

Yeah. After you went to the art room, I noticed something on the floor,” Nina explained. “It was a cutting of wire coated in a black residue.”

What kind of residue?” Marian questioned.

I'll show you,” Nina said, lifting her hands. Her palms were streaked with black smudges.

That looks like acrylic paint,” Ben said. “And you found it on the floor in the wood workshop?”

Yeah. It was next to a table,” Nina said. “I have pictures, if it helps.”

It does,” Dirk said. “Gimme a sec and I'll transfer them to everyone's ElectroIDs.” He began to tap the screen of his PDA a few times, as if he was typing something, then hit another button. “I hope you don't mind your entire album being broadcast to everyone in the room.”

It's fine,” Nina said. “I didn't even know about the camera function until you told us in the hallway.”

All right then,” Dirk said. He touched the screen once more. A few moments later, everyone's ElectroIDs pinged. “You've all got the pictures.”

Okay, but what are we looking for?” Carlos asked. “It's a painted wire; I'm not seeing much more.”

I'm lost as well,” Marian said. “Dirk? You see anything?”
“Hmm...” Dirk said, staring intently at the image. “There's something about it, but I'm not sure.”

Wait,” Mark said. His face was full of dread and recognition. “I think I know what kind of wire this is.”

You do?” Melissa asked.

Yeah,” he said. “I've seen it quite a few times.”

So then spit it out!” Chelsea exclaimed. “What is it?!”

It's, well...” Mark said, hesitating. He took a deep breath, and looked forward. “I think it's a speaker wire.”


A silence took hold as the students tried to process this information. Nobody had confirmed anything, but there was a definite sense of unease in the air. It was as if some horrible revelation was on the tip of everyone's tongue, but they weren't aware of it.

Hey, Mark,” Dirk said, breaking the silence. “Tell us more about the wire.”

Don't take my word for the absolute truth,” Mark said. “But I think it's the kind of wire used to connect a microphone to a speaker set, or a sound system. I've seen it in karaoke bars and with my personal reporting equipment.”

That's odd,” Melissa said. “But what significance does it have with the case?”

Wouldn't Ella know?” Charlie suggested. “She is the ETL Sound Engineer, after all.”

How about it, Ella?” Dirk asked. “Does this wire mean anything?”
“Well,” Ella said uneasily. “The strength of the cable could make for an efficient way to hang someone, and that durability would allow for high volumes to translate easily. This is the kind of stuff you'd see at music concerts; why's it here?”

I don't see why you're so surprised,” Dirk said. “I remember seeing this type of cable with the supplies you found when we were setting up the sound system for the dance.”

Oh yeah,” Ella said. “That's where I recognised it from.”

Dirk, can I ask you something?” Marian suddenly said.

What?” Dirk asked.

It's about the wire,” Marian said. “Look at it: the end's frayed, as if someone hastily cut it off. Do you remember seeing anything wrong with the wire when setting it up?”

No,” Dirk said. “Everything was okay.”

Then I'm wondering how this piece of wire got to the workshop,” Marian explained. “If all the wire was fine for the sound system, then how come there's a piece?”
“Maybe the culprit took another bunch of wire?” Shauna asked.

But Shauna,” Marian said. “You yourself said that you and Ella took everything from the store cupboard to get the sound system working.”

I can confirm that,” Dirk said. “I checked the place out during the investigation: empty.”

So then where did that wire come from?” Marian asked.

I don't know,” Shauna said, her eyes wide. “Maybe there was another piece of wire that the culprit took before we found the place?”
“Then that would place the time-frame for the premeditation of the murder to be at least the day before the dance,” Melissa pointed out. “For that to be true, that would mean that the culprit had essentially been planning this since the moment Monobear took over.”

Who would do that?” Wyatt asked. “Who would be so cold as to plan the death of Andrew the instant things turned south?”
“I'm not sure,” Marian said. “But I think that wire has something to do with it.”

But what?” Charlie asked. “Who could think to kill Andrew using a wire?”


...What if the wire's only part of it?” Everyone turned to face Mark, who spoke up.

What do you mean?” Melissa asked.

I mean, what if the wire was used with something else to kill him?” Mark said shakily.

Where are you going with this, Mark?” Dirk asked.

I don't know,” Mark said. “I just kept thinking about the screwdriver, and I'm wondering if they are in fact connected somehow.”

But how can a wire and a screwdriver be used together to kill someone?” Shauna said. “It doesn't make sense.”

Perhaps not as individual weapons,” John said. “But, what if they were used for something else?”
“What like?” Marian asked.

I'm thinking that maybe the wire and screwdriver were used to build something related to the murder,” John explained. “That would explain why they've been both found in suspicious circumstances.”

Then what could the culprit build to use in the murder using those two things?” Carlos suggested. “Surely there has to be more to it.”

I don't doubt it,” Marian said.

Then maybe that explains the wrecked art studio?” Ben offered. “Maybe it wasn't related to the weapon, but was instead done to obscure the fact that supplies had been stolen.”

If only we'd thought of that sooner,” Ella said. “We could have looked for evidence of that when looking for the murder weapon.”

There's not much we can do about it now,” Ben reassured.

I just thought of something,” Nina spoke up. “What if the paint on the wire was from the art studio?”

That would make a surprising amount of sense,” Marian said.

But doesn't that bring up the question of why the stolen paint was in the workshop?” Mark added.

Oh, I can explain that,” Shauna said. “I borrowed some to fix up Cammy.”

Then where is it now?” John asked.

Oh, it's in one of the store cupboards,” Shauna said. “I didn't think to check though, since the workshop looked exactly as it had done when I left it.”

Then perhaps the culprit stole it from there?” Carlos suggested. “Since Shauna didn't need a wire when fixing Cammy, it wouldn't make sense for that to be connected to her.”

Shauna,” Dirk said coldly.

Yes?” Shauna replied.

I find it odd how you say it was in a cupboard,” Dirk said. “When I found an empty tub of black paint in the trash during the investigation.”

You did?” Shauna asked. “Strange. It was definitely in the cupboard when I left the workshop.”

Something else doesn't make sense either,” Dirk said.

Huh?” Shauna remarked.

We surmised that the paint was used to construct something related to the murder,” Dirk explained. “So it's strange that the paint would be stolen after Andrew was killed.”


Shauna let out a deflated sigh. “I'm sorry, but I've been lying to you all,” she said softly.

Shauna?” Ella breathed. “What do you mean?”

The truth is...” Shauna said. “I wasn't in the workshop the whole time I was up.”

Then where were you?” Marian asked.

...The IT room,” Shauna said.

Might I ask why?” Dirk said.

Ella wanted an extension cord,” Shauna explained. “Her laptop charger's on the way out, so we thought there would be another one we could take.”

Odd,” Dirk said. He faced Ella. “Why didn't you look for one when we got your USB drive?”
“I didn't want to take up any more time,” Ella explained calmly. “My plan was to grab it in the morning, but we had nothing better to do whilst waiting for Cammy to dry, so we went there.”

For how long?” Marian inquired.

I don't know exactly the time we left the workshop,” Shauna said. “But we returned to Cammy at around two thirty.”

Wait a moment,” Wyatt said. “So you both were walking around when the murder was going on?”

We didn't know that!” Shauna exclaimed. “If we had done, we would have stopped him from being killed!” Tears pricked her eyes. “You don't think I feel bad enough knowing that my friend died when we could have done something about it?!”
“We can mourn later,” Dirk said. “What I'm curious about now is how long it took you to fix up your puppet. How long did it take?”
“Around a half hour,” Shauna said.

So that would mean that from two to two thirty, you both were walking around the halls,” Dirk said. “I'm sorry, but this seems a little suspicious.”

What?” Shauna remarked. “You're suspecting me and Ella?”

A little odd to do that,” Ella said. “I mean, there can only be one killer, so why suspect two people?”
“She does have a point,” Joel said.

I also have to ask something else,” Dirk said. “Doesn't anyone else find it a little strange how it took a whole half hour, within the time-frame for the murder, to find a charger? Especially given that one of the two people checked it out on the first day we were trapped in here?”

“Hold up here,” Ella said, her voice shaky. “You sound awfully like you're pinning this crime on us.”

We have reason to,” Marian said with a hint of remorse. “Certain things just aren't adding up, and you haven't provided explanations that make sense.”

And?” Ella retorted. “The footage cut out. How do you not know that someone wasn't lying about what they did last night?”
“That's simple,” John said. “The two of you were in fact out just prior to the murder, and the route to the IT room from the workshop requires moving through the dorms. Yet neither of you have mentioned seeing anyone else at all, when logically, the only time the culprit could have made a move was when you two decided to head out from the workshop.”

You can't be sure that nobody was out,” Ella said. “They could have moved shortly after we passed through.”

Yeah, but that's awfully coincidental, isn't it?” Dirk brought up. He raised an eyebrow whilst maintaining a stoic expression.

But the earlier point still stands,” Shauna said, her eyes wild with distress. “There were two of us, yet only one can graduate. We were together the entire time, which leaves no opportunity for one of us to sneak away. Plus, we were in the IT room. How could either of us have feasibly killed someone in the meeting hall from there?”

Wait wait wait,” Ella said, panicked. “We still haven't ironed out all the details; how can you so confidently blame us?”

Because of the traces you left behind,” Dirk said.

Traces?” Melissa asked.

Yeah,” Dirk said. “You know how I said I had some critical evidence earlier?”

Oh yeah,” Joel said. “The footage, right?”

In part,” Dirk said. “That was what I could confidently put forward. But now...” he projected his PDA onto the screen. “I believe we can make sense of this.”


Instantly, a series of images appeared on the screen. One was of a black smear stain on a white keyboard in the IT room. The computer itself was in sleep mode, but not turned off. The next was of another smear in the kitchen, on the sink. And then, most surprisingly, a photo of Cammy, from behind. The puppet was still in the puddle of paint, except the suit jacket was pulled back to reveal wires feeding through the body, exposed via a screwed-off panel on the back. Some were regular-looking wires, but another few were black cables which left stains on the wooden surface of the toy. The same type of wires used for the sound system. There was then a photo of Cammy's face, revealing a camera lens in one of the eyes and a speaker in the mouth. The final photo was that of some kind of antenna coming out of the nape of Cammy's neck.


The effect was instantaneous: gasps, followed by an uneasy silence.

What... is this?” Charlie whimpered.

Yeah,” Chelsea reiterated. “What are we looking at?”

I believe Shauna did a little more than just reattach a limb to our dear friend Cammy,” Dirk said. “I think the puppet's received quite the upgrade.”

Shauna was trembling. “What...” she began. “What possessed you to even look at Cammy?”

The paint,” Dirk said. “A little odd for a coat of paint applied eight hours prior to be dripping wet as if it had been done in the past couple of hours.”

Oh yeah,” Ben said. “That paint's fast-drying, too. I can't believe I didn't notice that.”

And given Shauna's track record for perfectly fixing up toys, I can only think of one explanation for this,” Dirk said grimly. “And that's because Cammy got messy between the paint being applied, and the two girls calling it a night.”

W-what are you suggesting here, Dirk?” Ella asked, trembling.

Radio control via computer isn't new,” Dirk said. “All it requires is the right program, and someone of Shauna's calibre to fix up the toy with the right wires.”

So then, you think...” Nina said. “You think they deployed Cammy to kill Andrew?”

It'd make sense,” Marian said. “And that would explain why John couldn't get a reading on the crime: because a human didn't directly kill Andrew.”

And why the USB was in the IT room last night in the first place,” Dirk said. “You were unloading the program onto the computer during the dance, weren't you, Ella?”

I... why would I...?” Ella began, tripping over her words. Her face was pale.

This isn't funny,” Shauna said, tears dripping down her face. “Our friend is dead, and you're blaming us? Why?” Her voice was a whisper by the end of the sentence; she clutched Cammy hard.

This isn't our fault,” Ella said. “How can it ever be our fault when people like Junko Enoshima are responsible for this?”

...What did you say?” Mark said curiously.

You filmed it,” Ella said. “You know what I'm on about. She's the mastermind of this whole thing; maybe she's running this as well. Maybe she's just doing it all to see us despair. That video made me realise that.” She was visibly trembling by now. “Ever since then, I've realised how awful the situation truly is...”

So that's it,” Dirk said. “I think I get it now.”

Get what?” Mark asked.

The details of this case,” Dirk explained.

Me too,” Marian added. “What Ella just said was the final piece of the puzzle, right?”

Right,” Dirk confirmed.

You're still suspecting us?” Shauna said feebly, crying openly. “How can you? We've proven to you that we're not the ones at fault here.”

All right then,” Marian said, her face bleak. “To be fair, I'll go over the details of the case again to confirm exactly how the crime happened and who's responsible. That should clear up any doubts here.” She took a deep breath, and addressed the courtroom. “So, this is how it happened...”


Now, the first thing to be certain of is that this crime was without a doubt premeditated, given the scope of everything,” Marian began. “The culprit began to formulate the plan to kill someone shortly after Dirk played footage of the Despair Event, which hammered home their desperation to get out. So following this, the culprit sought out someone they could trust who they also believed would want to get out – someone who revealed prior to this that they had experience in a hostage situation. The two of them then started to have a discussion which ultimately led to a decision to commit a murder – to take Monobear's offer of escape. And luckily for them, they could easily take supplies and plan out the crime without people noticing too much thanks to everyone being involved in preparing for the dance. They then, whilst preparing the sound system, began to prepare for something else, something far darker. With one of them having skilled knowledge in what to take from the supplies, whilst still allowing for the sound system to work, they took what they needed, and began their own project: modifying Cammy to turn the benign puppet into a murder weapon. They spent the next couple of days making the modifications at every possible opportunity, including setting up the puppet's arm to break and writing a remote control program, and taking the murder weapon from the kitchen, whilst still showing their faces when appropriate to cast away any suspicions that could have been formed.”


The next phase of their plan involved the dance – instead of enjoying themselves, they kept everyone inside to scope out their victim. Luckily, Monobear spiking the drinks helped them make the decision. The drunk brawl between Naomi and Chelsea allowed for them to mark out Naomi clearly as their target. So, with their victim in sight, they swiftly brought the dance to a close, with the intentions to kill. However, I doubt that Andrew vouching to look after Naomi until she woke was part of their plan, so they had to improvise. The pair then joined up with one of the groups to leave the hall and head back to the dorms. However, instead of just returning, they took a detour to the IT room upstairs to retrieve a USB drive which contained the remote control program. Following this, they put the next part of their plan in motion – 'accidentally' dropping Cammy down the stairs that led to the dorms. In a hurried frenzy, both of them hurried to the workshop to supposedly do some emergency repair surgery on the doll, leaving the rest of their group to head to bed.”


From there, they remained in the workshop, fixing the arm with a screwdriver that ultimately ended up bent, attaching the knife to him and adding a coat of paint from the art studio in order to appear innocent enough. In their haste, a section of wire was cut out and thrown to the floor, which would later be found in the investigation. This took around thirty minutes, which was enough time for everyone to be within their dorm rooms and/or fast asleep. With this time having elapsed, they took the puppet, and headed up to the IT room to use the computer to commit the murder by controlling him. Using the program, they guided the puppet down to the hall, and entered. Upon noticing that Andrew was in fact still awake, they killed the lights, and under the cover of darkness, they moved Cammy up to Andrew, and used the knife to stab him. However, because of how risky this was, they inflicted a second wound to kill Andrew instantly in order to avoid staying around too long. From there, in order to attempt to confuse us during the investigation, they used a recording of Monobear. This also served to cover any sounds made as they left Andrew. Presumably at this point, Naomi stirred, and, panicking, they delivered a blind slash to her in the dark, their view potentially worsened because of blood on the camera lens, hence why she got away so lightly. After this, they guided Cammy out of the hall, where one of them retrieved him, safe in the knowledge that at least one person had died.”


Following this, they split up – one went to remove the knife and blood from Cammy, whilst the other went to sabotage the art studio to try and throw off the scent, which included planting a fake knife to be conveniently found during the investigation. However, the true murder weapon was taken from the workshop, along with the screwdriver, safely in the possession of the other person. In the workshop, in order to hide the evidence of the murder, they essentially dumped the entirety of the paint onto Cammy, leaving a large puddle that would still be wet hours later. From here, the two then converged again somewhere, and agreed on heading to bed, satisfied with their work. They woke early, and were the first to arrive in the cafeteria. During this time period, they hid the screwdriver and bloody knife in a drawer, and washed their hands of the paint, but not without leaving a stain. After this, they sat down in the cafeteria and began to eat as everyone arrived, explaining their exhaustion away as an intricate, time-consuming repair job, leaving no room for suspicion that either of them could have possibly committed a murder during this time. And ultimately, only two people would feasibly be able to pull all this off...” Marian concluded, her face weary. “Shauna and Ella, all evidence points to you.”


Everyone fell silent as they digested the details of the case, and who it pointed towards. Shauna and Ella avoided looking at anyone, guilt heavy on their features. Yet every eye was on them, pleading for some kind of explanation.

Shauna...” Melissa whimpered, crying. “You couldn't have... no...” Finally, she composed herself. “Why?”

Oh my God,” Wyatt whispered. “Ella, we were talking with Andrew the morning of the dance... and you killed him... I can't believe it...”

Save the despair-filled mourning,” Dirk said harshly. “We're not quite finished.”

What do you mean?” Nina asked, her voice trembling.

These two have still set quite the trap,” Dirk said.

Oh?” Ben said. “What's that?”
“We've established there are two culprits,” Dirk said. “But the rules state the
sole culprit will be punished. So through technicality, we can't punish them.”

Holy...” Marian whispered, catching herself before she broke her professionalism. “So we're at a stalemate which can go one of two ways. Either none of us can die due to this trick, or because our vote will leave a culprit alive regardless, we'll all be executed.”

But wouldn't the person that used the computer to kill Andrew be responsible?” Joel offered.

...Just so you know, we both pushed every button at the same time,” Shauna said, her voice hollow. “There's no way to tell which one of us actually delivered the fatal blow. We ensured it was that way for this reason.”

No...” Mark said.


Wah-wah!” Monobear suddenly cried out. “That's a lie!”

What?” Dirk pressed.

One of those two did in fact hesitate, and wasn't near the computer when the kill button was pressed!” Monobear chimed.

Wait...” Marian said. “So there is in fact one culprit?”

Yes indeedy!” Monobear said. “Now, the question is this: do you know these two well enough to be sure of who it was that chickened out at the last minute? Or will a mass execution be in store?”

No...” Nina exclaimed. “But there's no way to tell!”

What if we ask them?” Naomi offered. “Hopefully the innocent one will spill the beans to save their neck?”

We can't take anything they say for face value,” Marian said. “Even if one of them admits to it, we won't be able to tell if they're telling the truth or not. We are truly at a stalemate.” Ella and Shauna remained silent, their faces downcast.

Come ooon!” Monobear urged. “Time's ticking away! Ella or Shauna? Which one didn't kill Andrew? You only have a couple of minutes left to vote!”

John, you can read people, right?” Chelsea said, panicked. “Can't you tell from reading them?!”
“Well... I...” John said, hesitating under the pressure. “That could actually work.”

Then do it!” Chelsea shrieked. “For God's sake, read them John!”

O-okay,” John stuttered. He took a deep breath, and gazed intently at the pair of culprits. Nobody dared to breathe as John's mind whirred away, connecting observations in the hopes of discovering which one hesitated at the last moment.


Upupu~” Monobear giggled. “You can really taste the despair in the air! So come on: answer my question! Who didn't do it? Who's the innocent party? Can you figure it out? Upupu~”


John,” Marian urged. “We don't have much time left. Do you have anything yet?”
“Yes, but I'm not entirely sure,” John said uneasily. “I still have some doubt.”

We don't have the time for that,” Chelsea said. “You're crazy good at this; just tell us who your gut instinct and what little you do have are telling you!”

Um... okay...” John said. He took a deep breath, unease on his face. “It's... based on my observations... the person who hesitated at the last moment... the one I believe couldn't go through with it... is ultimately...”

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