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.

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4. The New Reality

The next morning, Dirk woke early. His first action was to open up his computer, and check the internet.

“Still dead,” he said to himself. No, not dead, he corrected; there was a network available, just that it was encrypted with some password he couldn't find out. The network name MONOKUMA_NET01 stared Dirk in the face, mocking him. It was the only thing he couldn't hack: he had even managed to hack into the simple wireless network that surrounded the ElectroIDs, and had screwed around with his profile for giggles. That he could do. But get beyond a simple password? It seemed impossible.

 

Still, Dirk realised that there was no point in moping around all day. Shauna had decided on some kind of beach party today and he couldn't exactly not turn up. Besides, the fresh air might do him some good: walking was actually something Dirk liked to do to clear his head when faced with decoding something particularly hard.

 

So with this decided, Dirk showered and dressed for the day, before making his way down to the cafeteria. It was still fairly early, so there were maybe two or three other people in there besides himself. He sat in the corner of the room, eating from a plate of waffles as he opened up his PDA. He could still access the ElectroID network. That was still the extent of his hacking abilities. He sighed, and turned off his PDA. He'd look into it later today, after the whole beach party thing.

 

The calm silence that filled the cafeteria was soon broken as two figures walked into the room; Dirk recognised them as Marian and Andrew, the Lawyer and the Racer, respectively. They quickly grabbed what they wanted from the breakfast bar, and made their way over to Dirk's table.

“Good morning Your Highness,” Marian said wryly as she sipped from her coffee.

“You saw that then,” Dirk said coolly.

“So did I,” Andrew added, grinning as he ate a banana. “Triple X blood type? I thought my grandmother was the only one in the world with that!”

“Well you're wrong,” Dirk said. “And anyway, what's up with displaying our blood type like that?”

“I think I know the answer,” Marian said. As she said this, the morning sunlight shone through the windows, brightening the cafeteria. “In certain cultures, people believe that blood types determine your personality.”

“Like how some people believe in star signs?” Andrew asked.

“Exactly like that,” Marian said. “Although, it's more of an eastern thing. Really, it would have made sense to put our star signs on if that's what they were aiming for.”

“Well, we can just ask them tomorrow,” Dirk said.

“You're right,” Marian said. “I guess for today we just enjoy ourselves before the semester begins.”

“Yeah,” Dirk said.

“So, are you guys looking forward to it?” Andrew said.

“Kind of,” Marian said. “Although beaches aren't really my thing. I'm more of an indoors kind of girl.”

“Same,” Dirk said. “But it should allow us to all socialise or whatever.”

“I know,” Marian said. “I'm still conflicted though. I really just want to go see the courtroom again.”

“Courtroom?” Dirk said.

“Yeah,” Marian replied, smiling. “How can you entertain an ETL Lawyer without a courtroom to hold practice trials in?”

“Makes sense,” Dirk said. “So what are we gonna do? Hold a pretend trial for the murder of Andrew or something?”

“Maybe,” Marian said. “That'd be cool, though: staging crimes for us to solve would be a great way to grow closer.”

“A little unorthodox, I'll give you that,” Dirk said. “But I'd take part in that if you were to ever arrange it.”

“Maybe during the weekend I'll ask to use the courtroom,” Marian said. “It could be like those clubs people held in high school.”

“Man, that seems a million miles away,” Dirk said.

“Tell me about it,” Andrew said. “I can hardly remember anything from there anyway; pretty sure I spent the final few months taking part in racing tournaments.” He laughed. “I think I actually missed the graduation ceremony.”

“I didn't attend,” Dirk said. “It was a waste of time, and quite frankly embarrassing.” It was his turn to chuckle.

“What did you do?” Marian said accusingly.

“You got me,” Dirk said. “All right then: I replaced the Powerpoint with a slide show of the teachers' summer break night on the town; their fault for keeping them on private Facebook feeds they assume the students can't access.”

“How bad was it?” Andrew asked, grinning.

“Just things like the vice principal passed out on the floor of a strip club,” Dirk said.

“Oh my god,” Marian said. She covered her mouth with her hand in a weak attempt to conceal her laughter. “Seriously?”

“Then I shouldn't mention the French teachers doing the macarena,” Dirk said.

“Man,” Andrew said. “Are you for real?”

“You can sort of tell I got bored in my final few months of high school,” Dirk said.

“At least you had fun,” Marian said. “My entire final year was spent solving petty crimes that took place within the school. Like I'm some kind of teenage Phoenix Wright or whatever.”

“Sounds fun,” Andrew said dryly.

“Trust me,” Marian said. “It wasn't.”

 

Across from Dirk's group, Naomi sat with Ella and Chelsea. Naomi was eating some pancakes, whilst Ella and Chelsea stuck to coffee.

“You know,” Ella said. “If you eat now, you won't have any appetite for the beach party.”

“Nah, I will,” Naomi said. “You have no idea of the level of food I can eat throughout the day.”

“Big eater, huh?” Chelsea said. “Just don't let the calories catch up with you.”

“Girl,” Naomi said. “I'm constantly rushing myself around on these skates here so I think I'm pretty good.”

“You're wearing your skates?” Ella said. She raised her eyebrows. “For a beach party?”

“Duh,” Naomi said. “What else am I supposed to wear? These are like the only shoes I own!”

“For real?” Chelsea said.

“Yeah!” Naomi said confidently. “A true skater girl can't be seen dead without her skates!”

“If you say so,” Ella said. “But you don't see me attached to any of my gear, do you?”

“But skating is a totally different world!” Naomi said. “You can't rest, not even for a minute!”

“Huh,” Chelsea said. “Skating never struck me as something that intense.”

“Believe me, it is!” Naomi exclaimed.

“All right then,” Ella said. “But don't come crying to me when your skates get covered in sand.”

“Oh,” Naomi said. “I hadn't thought of that. That could pose a huge problem!”

“So we're finally on the same page,” Ella said dryly.

“Don't be like that,” Chelsea said.

“Sorry,” Ella replied. “I was just making some suggestions.”

Naomi smiled widely. “And I appreciate them!” she exclaimed. “Thanks to you, I'll be sure to keep my skates safe!”

“Glad to help,” Ella said, sipping from the coffee.

“I'm happy to have such helpful friends!” Naomi exclaimed. She ate another pancake in record speak. “Oh, but now I'm all kinds of pumped up for this beach party! When do we begin?!”
“I guess when Shauna arrives,” Chelsea said. She looked to the entrance as Nina and Ben walked through, talking to each other. “Hopefully it shouldn't be too long now.”

 

“And then, it's just a matter of placing each pixel in the right place,” Nina said to Ben as they sat down. “Of course, if you're looking for animations, that's a whole other story.”

“It actually doesn't sound as hard as I thought,” Ben said. He was holding a notepad with him. The back page had several notes scribbled over it from Nina's talk about pixel art. She had decided to tell him all about it just before heading down to breakfast.

“Once you get the hang of it,” Nina said. “After a while, it'll be as easy as typing on a computer!”

“Well, I have an idea for a new project,” Ben said, flashing a friendly smile. “I'll call it Nina.”

“Oh stop it you!” Nina said, laughing. “Any old online tutorial will give you even more information.”

“But we have no internet right now,” Ben said. “You're the best I have.”

“You're far too kind!” Nina replied, grinning widely.

“Um, excuse me.” They both looked up to see Charlie standing there. “Can I sit with you?”

“Of course!” Nina said. “Take a seat!”

“Thank you,” Charlie said. She sat down next to Nina. “By the way, I began playing your game last night.”

“Really?” Nina said. “What do you think of it?”

“It's really interesting!” Charlie said. “And I think I managed to go down the route of magical-girl adventure.”

“That was the most fun to come up with, you know?” Nina said. “How far are you into it?”

“The final act of chapter one,” Charlie said. “I think it's still the tutorial stage.”

“Yeah,” Nina said. “But I'm really glad to hear that you're enjoying it!”

“Which game is this?” Ben asked.

“Carefree Starlight,” Nina explained. “Heard of it?”

“Oh yeah!” Ben said. “That's my current favourite game!”

“And may I ask how far you're into it?” Nina said.

“Chapter five, act four, sci-fi route,” Ben said.

“PC port?” Nina asked. Ben nodded. “Oh, man. Be sure to keep a box of tissues with you; there's a very specific scene that's coming up that will emotionally wreck you.”

“Please don't tell me Sariah's going to go through with her suicide mission,” Ben said.

“My lips are sealed,” Nina said with a wink. She mimed zipping her mouth shut.

“Mind if I change the subject?” Charlie said. “Is anybody looking forward to the beach party?”

“Yeah,” Nina said. “I can't wait! I spoke to Shauna last night about it, and if what she says is any indication, it's going to be awesome!”

“My childhood practically consisted of spending summer exclusively at the beach,” Ben said. “So yeah, I'm excited.”

“What time is it now?” Charlie asked.

“Eight thirty,” Nina said. “I don't think we should be waiting much longer for everything to kick off.”

 

On the other side of the cafeteria, Wyatt sat with Carlos, watching the scene unfold in front of them. Mark was currently interviewing John, having set up a space for his camera to stand on its tripod.

“So, John,” Mark began. He was wearing a friendly grin. “Tell me. What's it like being the ETL Empathic?”
“I don't know,” John said. “I don't feel especially different in any way now that I have the title. It's just that I can tell so much from a person just by looking at them.”

“Sounds impressive,” Mark said with impossible charisma. “Let's see it in action, then!”

“Okay,” John said. “So long as you're okay with any potential personal information leaking.”

“I'm fine with it!” Mark said.

“Good,” John said. “So, Mark, from my observations, it appears that you're an energetic individual who strives to create harmony and joy within a large group of people. You are viewing this entire documentary as both a learning experience and a sentimental keepsake, as being in showbiz you know nothing lasts forever. Also, you appear to be doing this to impress someone that you may or may not be attracted to.”

“Oh, wow,” Mark said. “It's just as they say: you're brilliant!”

“Thanks,” John said. “It's nice to be able to use this talent in a more relaxed environment.”

“What do you mean?” Mark asked.

“It's just that normally I'm associated with the police,” John said with a shrug. “I can perfectly envision the way a crime has been carried out, and my psychological profiling is so accurate that they usually catch the culprit within twenty four hours of the crime occurring.”

“Goodness,” Mark said. “Well then. I guess if there's ever a mystery that needs solving, we can come to the ETL Empathic to help us out!”

 

There was a brief lull in the conversation, and Mark turned the camera off.

“Done?” Carlos asked.

“Yep!” Mark said. “Every last ETL has been interviewed. I'll film the beach party, and then spend tonight editing it to present the first episode of the Sun's Joy documentary series by this time tomorrow.”

“You can really do it by then?” Wyatt asked.

“Trust me on this,” Mark said. “I'm an expert.”

“Good to know,” John said. “Should we tell the others?”

“Not just yet,” Mark said. “Wait until the beach party. It seems like a more fitting place to break the news, doesn't it?”

“I guess,” Wyatt said. He smiled. “I think this documentary will be the best way to bring us all together.”

“Yeah,” Mark said. “Since for the first time, I fail to see any conflicting personalities anywhere!”

“Hopefully it remains that way,” Wyatt said. “The group dynamic is working brilliantly so far, for once.”

“For once?” Carlos asked. “What do you mean?”

“Being a fashion designer means I've been with all kinds of model groups,” Wyatt explained. “Male, female... you name it, I've seen it.”

“And?” Mark said.

“Whilst they all look gorgeous on the runway,” Wyatt said, “back-stage, the dynamic is vicious. Everyone's only looking out for themselves, and they'll stop at nothing to get their way.”

“Whoa,” Mark said. “Sounds cheery.”

“Tell me about it,” Wyatt said with a sigh. “I'm just glad to be free of it all here.”

“I completely understand,” John said.

“Of course you do,” Carlos said. “You can feel whatever we feel.”

“No, I mean personally,” John said. “My personal experiences were the same; it was all about who could be the most hostile to me. Half of the people I worked with believed I was a fraud, and the other half wanted to be the sole people that could use me.”

“Yikes,” Mark said. “I've never had to really face anything beyond some interview arguments.”

“I guess you're lucky then,” John said. “But anyway, that's all behind us, isn't it?”
“I suppose,” Mark said.

 

At that moment in time, the doors to the cafeteria opened, revealing Shauna, Melissa, and Joel. Melissa and Joel were both pushing carts piled up with supplies, whilst Shauna stood in front, still holding her puppet Cammy.

“Hello everyone!” she said brightly. “Sorry to keep you waiting for so long, but we're finally ready to head to the beach!”

“That's great news!” Nina said.

“I have to admit, I'm rather excited,” Marian said.

“This is going to be great!” Mark exclaimed.

“Indeed it is!” Shauna said confidently. Cammy shook in her arms as she walked into the middle of the cafeteria. “We have two carts piled high with food, water, bathing suits, beach supplies... everything!”

“Where did you get everything from?” Chelsea asked.

“The food and water came from the cafeteria,” Melissa explained. “And most of the other stuff came from the pool.”

“I helped find it,” Joel said.

“Haha, this is rad to the max!” Naomi exclaimed. “What are we waiting for?! Let's head down to the beach!” Naomi leaped up from her seat, and began to skate across the room. But as she did so, a noise rang out that stopped her in her tracks.

 

A-hem!! Mic test, mic test! Can you hear me?”

 

Melissa froze when she heard the voice. It was the same voice that had sounded out when she received her ElectroID. She glanced over at Shauna, and saw the same recognition on her friend's face. Looking across the cafeteria, it appeared everyone had heard the voice before.

 

This is an important announcement from the headmaster of Sun's Joy Academy!! Can every Enhanced Talent Level student gather in the meeting hall? It's time for the welcoming ceremony!!”

 

Wait!” Nina said. “I thought that was supposed to be tomorrow?”

It is,” Dirk said. He lifted his PDA. “The schedule says for the ceremony to begin Monday at nine-thirty. It's Sunday today.”

That's strange,” Melissa said. “Why change the date suddenly?”

I don't know,” Shauna said. “I just hope this doesn't cut into our time for the beach party too much!”

These kind of things can take up to two hours though,” Marian said. “It may be some time before we get to go to the beach then.”

Aww...” Naomi said. “I was really looking forward to it!”

We'll still go,” Shauna reasoned. “We'll just have to wait a while, is all.”

I'm interested in why they're making it today,” Mark said. “Perhaps they heard of our plans to head to the beach, and don't approve?”

Interesting theory,” John said. “But I don't think anyone in this place would be that spiteful.”

I guess it all depends,” Marian said. “The best course of action right now is to head down to the meeting hall and get this over and done with. Remember: the longer it takes to get there, the longer we'll have to wait until we can head to the beach.” Marian stood up from her seat, and walked past Melissa, leaving the cafeteria.

I suggest we follow Marian's example,” Shauna said. “Let's head down to the meeting hall, everyone!”

 

Melissa followed Shauna out of the cafeteria, and towards the stairs. As they approached the stairs, Dirk caught up to them.

Hey,” Melissa said. “What do you want?”

Nothing,” Dirk said. “From you, anyway. From them? I want answers. They can't just change up the schedule like that.”

Apparently they can,” Melissa said dryly.

Come on now,” Shauna said. “It's not the end of the world. I guarantee we'll be at the beach by noon!”

Hopefully,” Melissa said. They began to descend the staircase. Naomi slid down the banister on the other side. She flashed them a smile before she began to skate down the hallway out of sight. “Although, this seems to be killing the mood somewhat.”

Yeah,” Shauna said. “However, we'll all be in the mood once we're actually there.” She shifted Cammy in her arms as they reached the hallway below. It was the same hallway Melissa had walked through when she first arrived at Sun's Joy; the sign was still there, directing them to the hall.

It's this way,” Dirk said, motioning to the sign. “Come on.”

 

Melissa and Shauna followed Dirk through the hallway to the meeting hall's entrance. They reached the door just as Ella vanished behind it.

Well,” Melissa said, “let's get this over with.” She pushed open the door, and the three of them stepped inside. Surprisingly, the hall was in the exact same condition it was in yesterday. They quickly sat down on one of the seats as the final few people filed in. Mark was the last to enter, and sat down next to Melissa.

Hey,” he said with a smile. “Did I miss anything?”

No,” Melissa said. “We've sort of just been waiting here. What took you so long anyway?”

Bathroom,” Mark said simply.

Oh,” Melissa said, rightfully lacking the intention to press any further. “Too much information, don't you think?”

Sorry,” Mark said.

 

The two of them stopped talking, and sat in silence along with the other students for the next few minutes. But as they sat there, Melissa became aware that something wasn't right. The atmosphere was heavy, and she had a real bad feeling about all of this. Every instinct was telling her to get up right now, and run as far away from this place as possible. Shauna saw the distress on her friend's face, and was about to ask what was wrong, when suddenly a party whistle sounded out from the stage.

 

Every eye turned to face the stage as confetti rained down from the ceiling. And then, from behind the podium, a small teddy bear leaped up, teetering on top of the podium. It was half white, half black. Its white side appeared like any other teddy bear, but the right side contained a sinister grin and flashing red eye.

Ha!” Naomi cried out from her seat. “How adorable! I've never seen a teddy bear like that before!”

Hey!” the bear suddenly cried out. It jumped off of the podium, and landed on the stage. “I'm no teddy bear! It's despairingly awful of you to see me as nothing but a mere toy!”

What?!” Mark exclaimed. He tensed up. “It can talk!”

I'm no it either!” the bear said, almost appearing to glare at the students. “I'm Monobear! And I'm the headmaster of Sun's Joy Academy!”

But you're a toy,” Marian said. “How can you have any form of authority? You're no different to Shauna's puppet, really.”

Chelsea then turned to Shauna. “Hey Shauna,” she said. “Is this some kind of prank you're pulling!”

What?” Shauna said. “No! Why would I do that?”

Exactly,” Monobear said. “Now you bastards should really think before you reduce me to the same league as that ugly puppet.” His head sunk down, and a sigh escaped from him.

Wait a second,” Melissa said. “Your voice! It's the same one I heard when I received my ElectroID!”

As I said, that's because I'm headmaster!” Monobear exclaimed. “What kind of headmaster would I be if I didn't offer my students their own ElectroIDs?”

Whatever,” Dirk said coldly. “Just who the hell's controlling you, and why won't you show your face? This is all pretty childish.”

How rude!” Monobear cried out. “I'm Monobear! I don't need someone to control me!”

Oh my god,” Dirk said. He stood up. “That's it. I'm out of here.”

Leaving is impossible, by the way,” Monobear said, staring at Dirk. “And the hall is locked until the ceremony is over, so if I were you, I'd sit down again.”

And if I don't?” Dirk challenged Monobear.

I'll have no choice but to impale you,” Monobear said. He then pulled out a bayonet from seemingly nowhere. This was enough to whip the students into a frenzy.

He's got a weapon!” Naomi cried out. She, and several others, also leaped up, beginning to back away from Monobear. “We have to get out!”

Sit down! All of you!” Monobear ordered. “Or I will have to impale all of you!” Melissa watched from her seat as those who had stood up sat down again uncomfortably. Those who had chosen to sit on the front row now sat as far back as possible. The bayonet had vanished. “Thank you. Now we can continue!”

Continue with what?” Mark asked.

You bastards sure are curious ones, aren't you?” Monobear said. “No matter, I'm a patient bear, so I have all the time in the world to tell you bastards what needs to be told!”

Okay then,” Marian said. “We're listening.”

Excellent!” Monobear said. “Now, the first thing on the agenda is this: Sun's Joy Academy is to be your new home!”

I'm pretty sure we already established this ourselves,” Ella said dryly.

You misunderstand,” Monobear said. “What I mean is, this school is where you're going to be spending the rest of your pathetic lives!”

What?!” Carlos exclaimed. “You can't be serious!”

I'm entirely serious,” Monobear said. “You're isolated from the rest of the world by thousands of miles of ocean. There's no phone-lines, no internet... you bastards are entirely isolated!”

So that's why we haven't had any internet connection,” Nina said. “But why isolate us?”

So that nobody will interfere with your new school life!” Monobear said. “We can't have the authorities ruining our good time, can we?”

Surely our friends and family will notice if they suddenly don't hear from us!” Joel exclaimed.

Eh, probably,” Monobear said. “But worry not! There is indeed a way out of this place!”

Really?” Ella said. “What is it?”

You graduate!!” Monobear exclaimed, throwing his paws up in the air.

That it?” Dirk said. “Then we'll all be out of here by next summer, if you aren't aware.”

No no no!” Monobear. “You're wrong!” His red eye suddenly flashed ominously. “Graduation isn't about completing a school year, no. In fact, one of you bastards could be out of here by tomorrow!”

I doubt that claim,” Marian said.

I'm only speaking the truth!” Monobear said. “Anyway, to graduate, there is only one rule: you have to kill another student! Upupu!”

 

A silence descended upon the hall. Chills ran through everyone's bodies as they looked at Monobear in disbelief.

K-kill?” Shauna said, eyes wide. Cammy drooped in her arms. She didn't bother to fix him. “Are you serious?”

Deadly serious!” Monobear said. “Can you bastards get any dumber!”

So let me get this straight,” Dirk said coolly. “If I were to, say, suddenly kill Melissa, you'd let me out?”

I appreciate your drive,” Monobear said. “But it's not that simple!”

I knew it,” Marian said. “So come on, Monobear, what's the catch?”

To successfully complete graduation,” Monobear said, “you must survive the school trial!”

Trial?” Ben asked.

Yes,” Monobear replied. “In a school trial, you bastards will have to deduce who the culprit of the murder is. The culprit's job is to avoid detection, obviously, whilst the innocents have to figure out whodunnit!”

Is that it?” Wyatt said.

Nope!” Monobear said. “At the end of the trial, you bastards must vote on who you think is guilty. If you are correct, the culprit is punished. But if you are incorrect, then everyone besides the culprit will be punished!”

W-what do you mean by 'punished'?” Charlie asked, her voice trembling.

I thought I made myself obvious,” Monobear said, tilting his head. “But I guess I have to spell it out for you bastards: punishment means execution. Are we all clear on this?”

What?!” Naomi shrieked. “You can't do that!”

I can and I will,” Monobear said. “End of discussion.”

So we have the what out of the way,” John added. “The next question is: why?”

Why?” Monobear asked. “Simple! You bastards are supposedly the hope of the future, right? So to see you all fall into the despair of the School Life of Mutual Killing will be delightful?”

School Life of Mutual Killing?” Melissa said. “You've even come up with a title for it?”

Of course!” Monobear said. “What kind of bear would I be if I didn't!”

Somewhat more normal...” Andrew said, his voice faltering.

But anyway,” Marian said. “Sure, you've announced all this. But do you really think any of us will kill?”

Aha!” Monobear suddenly shouted. “That's where it gets even better! See, I knew that you bastards wouldn't eagerly succumb to the School Life of Mutual Killing, so I have devised a series of motives to get the ball rolling!”

What kind of motive?” Marian asked.

Whatever I feel like at the time, really,” Monobear said nonchalantly. “However, this motive has been especially designed to kick off your new School Life of Mutual Killing! Watch this!” Monobear pulled out a remote consisting of one single big red button. He pressed it.

 

All of a sudden, a low groaning sound reverberated throughout the building. The students looked at one another, before a metallic whirring reached their ears. Every eye turned upwards to see the massive skylight on the ceiling. A large iron plate was sliding over the window, sealing it up. For a few moments, darkness descended upon the hall, before the lights switched on, illuminating the room once more.

What was that?” Ella said.

The motive!” Monobear exclaimed. “Until one of you bastards commits a murder, you will all be trapped inside the main building! No more sea, sand, or sun for you bastards!”

What?!” Naomi yelled. “But we were going to have a beach party today!”

Too bad,” Monobear said. “If you want to see the beach again, just kill! It's that simple! Upupu!”

Sure, it's awful,” Shauna said. “But do you really think trapping us inside a building is enough to cause us to kill?”

But Shauna,” Joel said. “You were the one looking forward to it the most!”

Well, not if it's at the expense of another's life,” Shauna said. “I guess we'll just have to think of something else to do then.” She glared at Monobear.

Oh!” he said. “That reminds me! Check your ElectroIDs – I've updated the academy rules!” Monobear teetered on the spot. “Upupu! I can really feel the despair emanating from you all!”

Shut up,” Dirk said. “We don't care how you get off on despair or whatever.”

How hurtful!” Monobear said. “And after all I've done...”

You trapped us in a building and told us we would never see the light of day again unless we kill someone,” Marian said flatly. “Yeah, thanks.”

Psh. Whatever,” Monobear said. “You speak all high and mighty now, but I guarantee at least one of you bastards will fall into despair.” He walked along the rows of chairs. “Enjoy your new School Life of Mutual Killing!” Monobear then suddenly disappeared, leaving the students inside the sealed up meeting hall.

 

Shauna and Marian both stood up at the same time. They looked at each other, knowing they both had the same intention.

You go first,” Shauna said to Marian.

Thanks,” Marian said. She turned to face the crowd. “Could I please have everyone's attention?” Any whispered conversations that were going on died out as everyone looked up at the ETL Lawyer. “All right then. Now, the first thing we are going to establish is this: nobody is giving in to Monobear's killing game, all right?”

How can you be sure?” Charlie said anxiously.

Because we're still in the real world,” Marian said. “If we hold out long enough, someone will come to our rescue and take down whatever Monobear is. It may take some time, but we just have to keep holding on.”

I don't know,” Naomi said. “There's no way we can all remain cooped up in this building for the rest of forever!”

It won't be forever,” Marian said. “It will only be for a little while. This will soon be behind us.”

I'm in agreement with Marian here,” Shauna said. “Taking part in that game will only end badly. So get that idea out of your heads right now, got it?”

Okay then,” Joel said. “But now what do we do?”
“Perhaps check the rules,” Shauna said. “In a hostage situation, it's best to follow any rules set by your captor.”

That's an interesting thing to know,” John said. “How do you know that?”

When I was a child I was held at gunpoint by a drug addict,” Shauna said. “But that's not important.”

I'll check the rules,” Melissa said. She opened up her ElectroID, and selected 'Academy Rules'.

 

Sun's Joy Academy: School Life of Mutual Killing Rules

Acts of violence against the headmaster are prohibited

Destruction of surveillance equipment is prohibited

In order to graduate, murder another student without being discovered

After a body has been discovered, a few hours will be allocated to investigate before a school trial is held

If the culprit is correctly identified, they alone will be punished

If an innocent person is wrongly identified, everyone will be punished besides the true culprit

Accomplices to the murder will not count as culprits if they did not actually commit a murder

Each prospective killer may only murder up to two students

The time period between 10pm and 7am will be known as Night Time – certain areas will be restricted at this point

The courtroom is now restricted except in the event of a school trial

Further rules will be added as necessary

 

They've really thought this through, then...” Chelsea said, viewing her own ElectroID. “What if someone actually commits a murder?”

Yeah,” Andrew added. “Right now, all I can think of is whether or not I'll be killed.”

Don't think that way,” Shauna said. She adjusted Cammy again. “You're letting Monobear win by thinking like that.”

It's hardly our fault if that's all we can think of,” Carlos said.

Shauna sighed. “Sorry, I know,” she said. “You know what? We need to do something to take our minds off of this whole murder business.” She forced a smile. The others seemed to buy it, even if some were just lying to themselves.

But what do you suggest?” Naomi said. “Our beach plans have crashed and burned.”

I know,” Shauna said. “But there's still stuff to do in this building!We have this meeting hall, the IT room, and two more ETL areas!”

I have an idea,” Nina said. “Why not throw a dance or something in this hall?”

That's actually not a bad idea,” Shauna said. “Anyone agree with this idea?”

I'm okay with it,” Dirk said.

It could be fun,” Wyatt said.

Why not?” Ella said. “I mean, I could easily set up the music, no problem.”

I'd be able to make the decorations,” Ben said.

And I took a bunch of material from the textile building yesterday,” Wyatt said. “I could whip up a bunch of outfits for us all.”

That sounds great!” Shauna said. “Does anyone else have any contributions?”

Well, I'd be willing to help out with things such as decorations,” Charlie said. “And I think a few more of us would be.” Several other people nodded in confirmation.

Perfect,” Shauna said. “Now all we need to decide on is a date and time.”

Setting up all the sound equipment will probably take a day or so,” Ella said. “Sorry, but I'll need time to familiarise myself with what we have, and then move it down here.”

Same with the outfits,” Wyatt said. “It takes time to produce sixteen outfits; we're looking at tomorrow by the earliest.”

Okay then,” Shauna said. “Then how about tomorrow evening?”

That sounds good,” Andrew said. “And it gives us time to set everything up perfectly.”

Tomorrow evening it is then,” Shauna said. “It's nine-thirty now, so that gives us until ten tonight at the earliest to complete the first set of preparations.”

But Monobear said that he locked the doors to this hall,” Joel said.

They're unlocked now,” Dirk said.

What? How can you tell?” Joel demanded.

One door is slightly ajar,” Dirk said, motioning to the door. “Hardly locked, is it?”

Oh, yeah,” Joel said sheepishly.

All right then!” Shauna said. She moved Cammy again. “I think we should get going on preparing for this dance! Everyone know what they're doing?” Several nods. “And for those without a set job, just find someone who's already working on something and ask to help out!”

Um, Shauna,” Melissa said. “I don't mean to be rude, but what if someone's already planning a murder?”

We can't accept that,” Shauna said. “But just for the time being, we should try and avoid moving around alone just in case that tiny possibility is true. It should be safer for everyone.”

I'm okay with this,” Melissa said.

Okay,” Shauna announced. “With that settled, we can now begin to prepare for what will surely be the best dance ever!”

 

Everyone stood up from their seats, and began to file out of the meeting hall. A few people had their worries put to rest by this plan, but others were still full of terror. They were all trying to tell themselves that the School Life of Mutual Killing was a joke, but deep down, everyone knew that this was their new reality.

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