Dangan Ronpa, City of Despair

Chapter 33

Everyone was silent as a young girl stepped out from behind the screen. She had short black hair and mahogany eyes. She was wearing a black coloured middle school uniform with black tights and shoes. However, her most prominent feature was the bandages wrapped around her head. Saruwatari was the first to react to her sudden appearance.

"Junko!" He exclaimed.

"This is Junko?" Michiyo asked. The Future Foundation member shook his head.

"No. That's Natsuki Kureno. Saruwatari's younger sister." He explained. "But she's had Junko's brain implanted into her head." Sota suddenly seemed panicked.

"So that was true!?" He asked. "Everything they said in this quiz was true? It wasn't a trick!?"

Junko, or Natsuki I suppose, walked up to Sota.

"Why would I try to trick you guys when the truth creates so much more despair?" She asked. Asahina sighed.

"As much as I wish it wasn't true, she was telling the truth." She said. Missa looked just as panicked as Sota now.

"Then... then the world really has been taken over by despair?" She asked. Asahina nodded. I looked over at Ren, expecting him to be panicked as well, but... he seemed to be almost angry instead.

"More importantly." He said. "You were all watching this this entire time, and didn't even try to interfere?" Now it was time for the Future Foundation members to become panicked. Asahina shook her head.

"It's not that simple!" She said defensively. "We were told that we couldn't go and help you guys!" The boy nodded.

"Trust us!" He said. "We understand what you went through. Better than anyone in fact."

Trust them? After everything that had happened, and the letter, and what I had seen so far, I found that to be a difficult thing to do but... what had he said? That they'd understand better than anyone?

"Are you guys are the survivors of the School Life of Mutual Killing?" I asked. Surprisingly, it was Saruwatari that answered.

"Yes! They are!" He said excitedly. "That's Aoi Asahina, the Ultimate Swimmer! And Makoto Naegi! The Ultimate Hope!" Makoto blushed.

"Well actually, I'm just the Ultimate Lucky student." He said. "The Ultimate Hope title was just kind of given to me afterwards." I heard Sota struggling against his restraints.

"I don't care if you're the Ultimate Janitor!" He said. "Just get us out of here already!"

"Don't even fucking think about it!" Natsuki snapped. Wow. Had she switched personalities or something? She seemed very aggressive now. The girl pointed at Makoto and Asahina.

"If you or the swim freak step foot on this tower, I'll drop all of them." Natsuki threatened. The two of them had been moving closer, but now they froze. Akio watched this happen and then turned to Natsuki.

"That's not fair either!" He whined. Natsuki shrugged.

"They had their chance to play already. Now it's your turn." She said with a creepy smile. Suddenly, she started acting all cute and girly. Another personality change?

"You shouldn't twust them anyways." She said in a baby voice. "They could have saved you at any point, but they decided not too." Asahina shook her head.

"That's not true!" She said again. "We had our hands tied!" Natsuki shook her head. Now she was standing straight and had somehow put glasses on. Where had she been keeping them?

"That's not what I'm talking about." She said maturely. "I'm referring to the USB in Makoto's jacket pocket."

"The USB that Saruwatari needed?" Ren asked. Michiyo glared at Makoto.

"The reason that all of this started in the first place is just sitting in Hope boy's pocket?" She asked.

"Yep!" Natsuki replied cheerfully. The glasses were gone again. "And he wasn't even going to mention it! You wanna know why? It's the same reason the Future Foundation just left you guys to die. You guys are absolutely worthless!"

"What?" I asked. She had said it so cheerfully that I almost hadn't heard the insult.

"You're nothing but a bunch of snot nosed, gullible, non important kids!" Natsuki replied. "You never served any purpose to the Future Foundation. In fact, when we got you guys the Foundation didn't care at all."

"Wait." Akio said. "What!? Is that true?" We all turned to Makoto and Asahina. Asahina rubbed her neck nervously.

"Well, I guess it kind of is." She admitted. "The Future Foundation took you guys in because they were low on numbers." She stopped rubbing her neck and a determined glint appeared in her eye. "But, it doesn't change anything! You guys aren't worthless!"

None of us reacted. We were to busy thinking about what Natsuki had said.

"You guys thought you were so special." She said before changing her tone to mock us. "We're so special! We're Ultimates! Monokuma said we went to Hopes Peak Academy!" Her voice went back to normal. "But the truth is that you guys are worthless. You never even stepped foot in Hopes Peak Academy. You all just wanted to believe you were special, so you desperately grasped onto the idea that you were Ultimates. Your lives, your relationships, your personalities, all worthless."

We were all silent again. Natsuki smile, no doubt she was happy with the despair in our minds.

She was right though. All my life I had been average. I knew that I'd never amount to anything and I avoided situations where I had to prove myself like they were the plague. I didn't even have a talent like the others. The only reason I was even accepted to Hopes Peak was because of the draw. And then I didn't even get to go.

I looked around at the others. Their faces were full of despair. Makoto and Asahina had pity in their eyes but... also recognition. As if this scenario seemed familiar to them. Natsuki sighed.

"Perhaps you should all just give up." She said. "If you'd like, I can just end your worthless lives right here. All I need to do is press this button, and it can be over."

She pulled a button out of her pocket. Maybe it would be for the best if we all just fell together. It wouldn't change anything after all.

...

No! What was I thinking? We couldn't die. Dying wouldn't solve our problems, we'd just be running away from them! That's what Natsuki wanted. She wanted despair. She wanted to win. No. She wasn't going to win. We weren't going to give up hope. We weren't worthless.

I looked at the others. They all seemed miserable. I heard Sota mumbling to himself next to me.

"Maybe she's right." He said. "I mean, I'm just an idiot! I never helped any of you. How can someone as stupid as me be useful to anybody?"

"No! That's wrong!" I exclaimed, causing him to jump. "Sota, you're one of the most kindhearted people I've ever met! You spent your entire life helping others. Helping your brother, your mother, and then helping all of us to not lose hope in here! You aren't worthless! You have a purpose!" Sota stared at me in shock.

"Kindhearted?" He said. "Do... do you really mean that?" He thought for a moment before nodding.

"I guess you're right!" He admitted. "I mean, someone who's useless wouldn't have been able to take care of my mother right?"

"Yes! That's right!" I replied. "You gave up everything to help her! That's not something anyone could do." Sota seemed to be gaining confidence.

"Yeah!" He said. "I can't lose hope! I can't let Natsuki get to me." He smiled. "After all, there's already so much negativity in the world. There's no need to add to it." I smiled and nodded. Sota's despair had been replaced with hope. He had a purpose.

I heard Michiyo next.

"She's right. I'm worthless." The baker mumbled. "Why else would everyone exclude me? I always said that I didn't need any friends, but the truth was that couldn't have any even if I wanted to. They all thought I was worthless, and they were right."

"That's not true Michiyo!" I objected. Michiyo turned to face me.

"How is it not true?" She asked.

"You aren't alone!" I explained. "You have lots of friends! Me, Sota, Akio, Missa, Ren, we're all your friends. We don't think that you're worthless!" Michiyo looked away and shook her head.

"You're lying." She argued. "You guys don't think I'm your friend."

"Yes! We do!" I said. "Why wouldn't we want to be friends with someone as wonderful and unique as you?"

I saw her smile for a moment, but then she hid it.

"It's not like I need you to cheer me up or anything." She said. "I would have been fine without it."

I smiled. It may not have been obvious, but Michiyo had found hope again. She had purpose.

Missa was next.

"Why did she need to say that?" She asked herself. "I already know that I'm weak. All I ever do is cause trouble for people! First my parents, then everyone here, and then Isoya. I'm a weak, worthless person who can never do anything right."

"Missa! That isn't true at all." I argued. Missa shook her head.

"It is true!" She said. "I've gotten kidnapped twice in my life, and both times people got hurt because of it! I'm nothing but a burden."

"What happened wasn't your fault!" I said. "You aren't a burden Missa. In fact, you try harder than anyone else I know to help your friends. You may not be physically strong, but you have the strongest heart I've ever seen. True strength isn't physical, it's being able to endure hardships and pick yourself up once they're over!"

"True strength is..." Her voice trailed off as she thought about what I said. She nodded and smiled. "Thank you Yui! I guess I'm not as worthless as I thought. It feels nice knowing that."

I could see the hope practically radiating out of her. She had found a purpose. Now three of them were back to their old selves. Akio was next

"Did... did even he think I was worthless?" He said. "Did our relationship mean nothing?"

"Akio!" I said, snapping him from his thoughts. "If you treated you boyfriend like you treat Ren, then I know that he didn't think you were worthless! You love him and I'm sure he loves you back! You can't lose hope! You need to get out of here and find him! He's waiting for you!"

Akio was silent for a moment before he nodded slowly.

"Yeah! What am I thinking?" He said. "Real men don't wallow in self pity like this!" He smiled.

"Thanks Yui." He said. "For a girl, you aren't to bad."

"Thanks?"

Akio frowned for a moment and then shook his head.

"Or, I guess I should say that, you're a good friend." He said. "Thanks."

Then that left Ren. He was directly to my right.

"I couldn't save him." He said with tears in his eyes. "I couldn't even save my own brother. He had so much potential, and I voted for him to die to save my own life. She's right. I... I'm worthless! How could someone so rotten have any kind of worth? I... couldn't save any of them."

"That's wrong!" I argued. "Kinji's death wasn't your fault! No one's death was your fault! You did everything you could to protect all of us! If weren't for you figuring things out in each class trial, we wouldn't even be here. And yes, we voted for them to die, but to make up for it, we need to get out of here. For them. We can't throw away the lives that we've fought so hard to keep! We can't give up hope!" Ren smiled and shook his head.

"You really are like him." He said before turning his head towards me. "But at the same time, you're not. You have something special Yui. I... no... we wouldn't have made it this far without you too."

I smiled in return. The despair that Natsuki had tried to infect our minds with was completely gone now. We were going to make it through this. We weren't worthless. We had a purpose. We needed to live the lives that our friends died to save.

"Wow!" Natsuki said. "That was... really boring! Honestly, I think I'm going to barf from how cheesy that was! Geez! You sound like him." She pointed at Makoto who seemed surprised.

"Me?" He asked. Aahina nodded.

"She has a point."

I shook my head. Natsuki wasn't going to beat us this time.

"There's nothing you can do Natsuki." I said. "We aren't going to fall into despair."

Unaffected by what I had said, Natsuki smirked, holding the button in her hand.

"Even if you can't fall into despair, you can still fall to the ground." She teased.

"Wait!" Saruwatari said. "But I'll fall too! Are you really going to kill me after everything I did for you?" Natsuki shrugged.

"Of course!" She said. "I didn't ask you to do any of this. I'm grateful, really. But I don't really need you anymore." I saw a look of despair in Saruwatari's eyes. Surprisingly though, he started laughing.

"To be rejected by the queen of despair!" He said. "I almost wish that you would kill me now, so that this despair will be the last thing I ever feel."

"Please don't tempt her." Sota said.

"You know. I have an idea!" Natsuki said after a moment. "Let's make things more interesting." She pointed at me with a crazy look in her eyes.

"You're so full of hope and sunshine." She said. "But are you actually good? I have a feeling that when push comes to shove, you're just as selfish as me."

"What are you talking about!?" Sota asked. Missa nodded.

"Yeah. Yui isn't selfish at all!" She agreed.

"I wasn't talking to you." Natsuki snapped. Without looking away from me, she pointed at Makoto.

"So Macutie over there has the USB that I need." She said. "We all know that if I get that USB, then I'll be able to be fully reborn and spread despair around the world again right?" I nodded, wondering where she was going with this.

"So, here's what I'm thinking." She continued. "Right now, there's no way hope boy is going to give me the USB. He just wants to save you guys and leave. So to make things interesting, I'm going to give him what he wants. I'll let you guys go and forget about the USB under one condition."

"What's the condition?" I asked. I felt my throat going dry. Natsuki let out a quiet, sinister laugh.

"You need to sacrifice yourself!" She answered. Ren was the first to react.

"What?" He exclaimed. I heard him try to stand up, stopped by the restraints.

"She was just going on and on about your friends sacrificing themselves for all of you." Natsuki explained. "So now I'm asking her to do it. It's pretty simple isn't it? She dies, the world is saved. In fact, to be fair, I'll jump of the edge with her."

If I died then... the world would be saved?

"And what happens if she says no?" Makoto asked. Natsuki shrugged.

"Then I drop everyone but her, and I push you and swim freak off the ledge." She replied bluntly.

"That's not fair!" Asahina said. Natsuki ignored her, turning back to me. She moved closer until I could feel her breath on my face.

"So Yui. What's it going to be?" She asked. "Will you be a sacrifice and save the world? Or will you save yourself?"

I didn't want to die. But... if sacrificing myself would save them then...

"I'll sacrifice myself." I answered. Once again I heard Ren struggle against his restraints.

"What are you doing Yui?" He asked. Sota nodded.

"Yeah! You can't kill yourself!"

I closed my eyes, trying to hold in my tears. As hard as it was, I had to do this. For them.

"It's no different then us voting for the blackened!" I argued, opening my eyes again. "If you guys get to live, then it's worth it!" Natsuki rolled her eyes.

"You really do sound like him." She said, backing away from me. "Now, if you guys try anything when I let you go, then she's just going to go off the edge quicker."

She pressed some buttons and everyone's binds released. Everyone's except mine. The others reluctantly got up and walked over to Makoto and Asahina. Sota and Missa were crying and Ren looked like he would at any moment.

I felt my stomach tighten as I thought about what was about to happen. I couldn't be scared. I had to think about them instead. They were going to live. They were going to be okay. They were going to be be safe. I saw Natsuki hold the button up for dramatic effect.

"Now! I've prepared a very special punishme-" She cut herself off. Had something happened? Suddenly she grabbed her head in her hands, dropping the button to the ground.

"No. No! NO!" She shouted shaking her head violently. "Not right now! AARGH!"

She started grabbing her hair and hitting her head.

"Why are you rejecting it now!? Why!?"

I felt confused and terrified at the same time. What was going on?

"Why? Why? Why!? WHY? WHY? WHY!?" I closed my eyes as Natsuki's foot moved towards the button. If she stepped on it, then I'd fall off the ledge.

Click

...

I wasn't falling? I opened my eyes and saw that the binds had opened.

"Yui!" Ren shouted. He was waving me over, the button in his hands. He must have ran over and grabbed it while Natsuki was having the breakdown. Quickly, I stood up and ran over to the others. As I ran, Asahina turned to Saruwatari, who was being held by Akio and Sota.

"Saruwatari." She said. "Is there any way to put your sister's brain back into Natsuki's head?"

Saruwatari shook his head.

"No." He replied. "Without the USB, the body is probably only going to last one more day at the most. She'll be Junko until that happens" Asahina nodded. As I reached the group, I noticed a fire in her eyes.

"In that case." She said before running over to Natsuki.

"This is for Sakura!"

She pushed Natsuki over the ledge. I looked away, but I could still hear her screaming. Asahina fell to her knees, obviously shocked by what she had done, but... now it was over.

Natsuki was gone.

We were free.

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