The train rattled back and forth as we went through the tunnel. Outside the windows was dark, but luckily the inside was well lit by the lights on the ceiling. We were all sitting down on the chairs or standing using the provided bars for support. It had been quiet, until Koharu's voice broke the silence.
"Who do you think drives the train?" She asked. I had been wondering the same thing. Apparently, Bessihiki knew the answer.
"It's remote controlled." He explained. "Or automatic if you prefer."
"How do you know that?" Sota asked.
"Well," Besshiki said. "The train stopped for exactly a minute before leaving. The doors also almost closed before everyone made it on."
I blushed, remembering the close encounter I had had once Ren and I had caught up to the others.
"Thanks again for pulling me in Saruwatari." I said. "I almost lost my nose." The vet shrugged.
"No problem." He said. He always managed to be laid back. I'd have to ask him what his secret was.
"So you determined that it's automatic from such small details?" Michiyo asked. Bessihiki sighed.
"Of course not." He said. "I just saw that there wasn't a driver when the train pulled up."
I saw Sota's shoulders slump.
"Really?" He asked. "That's disappointing. I thought you were secretly a super sleuth or something."
"Real men aren't so gullible!" Akio said.
"Don't talk like you know what a real man is!" Bessihiki snapped. "You're basing your opinion off of nothing but stereotypes."
We were all shocked by Bessihiki's reaction. He had almost seemed offended by what Akio had said. I was also surprised by how much he was talking. However, I didn't have time to think about it since Koharu began pointing outside.
"You're right!" She said. "That is the end of the tunnel!"
We all turned to where she was pointing. I could see the end of the tunnel approaching. What secrets were at the end? What was waiting for us at the next station? As the train left the tunnel, it was immediately filled with sunlight. It slowly came to a stop at the station, revealing a second area. We all left the train and took in our surroundings.
It was similar to the first area, triangular in shape and surrounded by giant grey walls. However, the actual area seemed to be some kind of shopping centre. The entire thing was one long street lined with shops. From the train station, I could see all the way to the other end. There was no red door this time. As I tried to soak all of this in, Mayu tried to get everyone's attention.
"Okay!" She said. "To keep this investigation efficient, we should do it the same way did before."
She took out her E-Handbook and began counting what I assumed were the amount of buildings. Once she was finished with that, she counted all of us.
"Wow!" She exclaimed. "There are eleven buildings, and eleven of us! What a crazy random happenstance!"
I wasn't sure I knew what that meant, but Mayu seemed happy, so I didn't care to much about it.
"So everyone choose a spot to investigate!" Mayu continued. "And we'll meet at the dining hall in one hour!" Once everyone had chosen, we split up. I decided to investigate a small building near the train tracks. Following the map on my E-Handbook, I made my way to my destination. It turns out that the building itself was less than interesting. It was small and grey, and was more of a cement shack than a building. Walking up to it, I tried the door. It was locked. I debated knocking, but remembered what had happened last time I knocked on a locked door.
"Great." I said to myself. "What am I supposed to tell the others? I don't even know what the building is." Apparently, he knew.
"This is the train control room! I keep it locked so the trains will run on schedule!" Monokuma exclaimed, causing me to jump. I really wished he would stop doing that.
"Where did you come from?" I asked, not really expecting any kind of actual answer.
"I can appear anywhere I want! Truth is, I'm a magical bear! I have a huge transformation sequence and everything!"
Yep... not an actual answer.
"Can you get lost?" I asked. "Just looking at you makes me feel sick."
"Puhuhu!" Monokuma laughed, striking a pose that I think he meant to be seductive. The effect was kind of lost when he did it.
"Why?" He asked. "Do I remind you of your dead boyfriend?"
"Kinji was my friend!" I said defensively. This just made Monokuma laugh even more. I clenched my fists, trying to hold myself back. "And I don't need you reminding me that he's gone. This is all your fault!"
"My fault!?" Monokuma said innocently. "But I didn't force him to kill her. It was his choice! Besides, if you go on blaming others for your own problems, you're not going to make many friends here."
"Why would you care if I make friends or not?" I asked. Every time this bear opened his mouth he became more and more confusing.
"Puhuhu. It just creates more despair if it's friends killing friends!" He answered. "It's no fun if you're all complete strangers! But wait! Technically you guys are friends already. You just don't remember it. Bwahahaha"
Nothing about what he had said was funny he knew that. Was he just trying to get on my nerves?
"You're talking about our stolen memories, right?" I asked. The idea had seemed farfetched, but everything that happened in this horrible place made it more and more believable.
"Puhuhu! That's right!" Monokuma exclaimed. "Though, don't you have somewhere you need to be?"
I looked at the time on my E-Handbook. As much as I didn't want to agree with Monokuma, he was right. I ran off, leaving Monokuma laughing behind me. I really hated that bear.
Everyone had gathered back at the dining hall. It seemed like once again, I was the last one. Once the door closed behind me. Mayu clapped her hands together.
"Okay!" She said. "That's everyone so..." She looked around at the group. "Why don't you go first Saruwatari?"
"Sure." He replied. "I was investigating the repository behind the art store. There were some hammers, and blue tarps, plus a lot of other art stuff, but that was about it."
"There was also a lot of art supplies in the art store." Koharu added. Mayu nodded.
"Alright." She said. "What else did everyone find?"
"I found some cool stuff at the convenience store." Asami said before yawning. "Lots of snacks and car fresheners. No sports drinks though."
She sounded disappointed when she said the last part. Seeing that she had nothing else to say, Mayu went next.
"I found a toy store, but it was all little kid stuff." She said.
"Forget toys." Akio exclaimed. "I found a store that sells nothing but tools!"
Unlike Asami, Akio seemed positively ecstatic. Ren sighed and shared what he found.
"There was a large variety of medications at the drug store." He said. "But nothing that couldn't already be found at the pharmacy."
"There's also a clothing store." Hamano said. "Perhaps some of you could try changing your hideous outfits now."
Ignoring, Hamano's comment, Sota shared next.
"There was a furniture store too! In case anyone wanted something for their rooms."
"And a gift shop." Michiyo added. I expected her to say more, but apparently that was it.
"I'm sure you'll all be happy to know that I found an electronics store." Bessihiki said. Everyone's eyes seemed to light up. Maybe there was something that we could use to call for help. Unfortunately, that didn't seem to be the case.
"There's nothing of use in there though." Besihiki continued. "I looked for any kind of communication device, but couldn't find a thing."
"I couldn't find anything either." I said. "The building I chose was the train control room, but the door is locked."
We all sat in silence for a bit, disappointed that we couldn't find a way out.
"So based on the shape of the two areas," Asami began, breaking the silence. "I'm guessing that Monocity is a big circle." Sota nodded.
"And Monokuma just opens up another area when we finish a class trial?" He asked. If that was the case, I hoped that the second area was the last area we opened. As I thought this, I heard Hamano laugh.
"It's kind of like a prize." he said cheerfully. I couldn't believe what I had just heard.
"What do you mean a prize?!" I shouted. "We don't deserve a prize for sentencing our friends to death!" Hamano raised his hands in mock defence.
"Woah there!" He said. "Looks like it's that time of the month."
"You mean September 7th?" Akio asked. Mayu sighed.
"No, you idiot."
Akio still seemed confused, but we all ignored him, focusing on the bigger problem. Hamano yawned, stretching his arms out.
"Well," he said. "If we're finished here, I'm going to get some rest. I didn't get any sleep tonight thanks to one of you girls bawling all night."
Once he had said this, he left the dining hall. We all stood there in disbelief. After a moment of silence, I heard Missa whisper under her breath.
"I-I didn't mean to be so loud." She said, tears forming in her eyes again.
I felt the urge to chase after Hamano and punch him in the face, but I knew that violence wouldn't help anyone.
"Oh! I just remembered!"
Saruwatari's voice broke us from our thoughts. He looked around and saw that we were all listening.
"I found these in the repository." He said, taking two pictures out of his pocket. One picture was of a boy in a white school uniform. His hair was short and black and his eyes were red. He seemed to be very tense and his posture was perfect. The other photo was of a large boy with pointed hair and round glasses. His grey jacket was undone and he was wearing a blue and red tie and a backpack. After examining the photos, Koharu tilted her head to the side.
"They might be reference photos." She said. "Some artists use them when they need to see what they're drawing." I shook my head, knowing that wasn't the case.
"No. I don't think that's what they are." I said.
"Really?" Akio asked. "What makes you say that?"
"Well, I found two other photos like this already." I said. "One was in my bathroom and the other was in the gym." Bessihiki tapped his fingers on the table he was sitting at, looking at the photos in Saruwatari's hand.
"It could just be Monokuma trying to confuse us." He suggested.
"Or they could be people that used to live here." Asami added. Ren fixed his glasses.
"Either way," He said. "There's not enough information to make any assumptions yet." Mayu nodded and put her hands on her hips.
"In that case," She said. I guess we're finished for today. And maybe Yui should take the pictures, she already has two after all."
Saruwatari handed me the photos and I put them in my pocket. Were they really just Monokuma trying to trick us? Once again, Mayu clapped her hands together.
"You guys can all go and do what you want then, we're done here." She said. Everyone began to leave. As Nori passed by me, I heard her mumbling to herself.
"Who died and made her boss?" She asked. Once she had passed I noticed Ren standing behind where she had been. It seemed like he had hesitated when he had heard what Nori had said. I started to head towards him, but he continued walking. I couldn't help but feel sorry for him.
Looking around, I saw that the only people left were Bessihiki and I. Having nothing else to do, I decided to go and talk to him. Perhaps he would be able to explain his behaviour earlier on the train.
"Bessihiki?" I asked once I was close enough. He turned to face me.
"Yes. That's my name." He said bluntly. I had forgotten that he wasn't the biggest conversationalist.
"Sorry." I said quickly. "I just... earlier, on the train, you seemed to be bothered by what Akio said. Do you want to talk about it?"
"Why would I want to talk about it?"
"Well, you're usually pretty quiet, so I thought something might be wrong." I said. Bessihiki sighed.
"I guess I'll rephrase my question." He said. "Why would I talk about it with you? We've barely ever spoken to each other." I shook my head. It seemed like he was getting close to opening up, so I just needed to push a little harder.
"That's not true." I argued. "We went to Hopes Peak together! I'm sure we talked a lot then."
Bessihiki was silent for a moment as he processed what I said.
"I guess you're right." He admitted. "In that case, I'll talk. It's not like I have anything better to do."
He began tapping his fingers on the table. I realized that he did that a lot. Perhaps it was a nervous tick? Or maybe just a side effect of being the Ultimate Hacker. I debated asking him about it, but decided against it. He was already answering one of my questions, it would be better to not push it.
"Well, he's always saying "A real man does this" and "A real man never does that." And it just pisses me off." Bessihiki said.
"Would you mind if I asked why?" I asked. Kind of redundantly.
"I already said that I'd talk didn't I?" Bessihiki replied. He sounded annoyed, so I apologized and let him continue.
"I have a cousin who isn't the manliest person. He was always told that he wasn't manly enough, and it got to him. He changed who he was and started pretending that he was a girl. The fact that their misconceptions of what a man should or shouldn't be drove him to become ashamed and change himself pissed me off. He should have been proud of who he was."
Bessihiki was becoming very emotional as he spoke. I was happy that he was finally opening up, but it seemed like remembering his cousin caused him emotional pain.
"You seem to really like your cousin." I said. "Were you guys close?" Bessihiki nodded.
"Yeah. Until he started acting like a girl." He said. "He tended to avoid anyone who knew about his secret. Though, if what Monokuma said is true, then I must have gotten to see him again."
What Monokuma said? Was he talking about our erased memories?
"You mean he went to Hopes Peak Academy?" I asked. Once again, Bessihiki nodded.
"Yeah. He was an amazing programmer." He said. "He actually taught me everything I know about computers." Once he finished talking, Bessihiki chuckled.
"It's funny." He said. "I'm not used to talking to people for this long. I usually avoid talking to people in person. Online chat is a lot easier."
That did make sense. As the Ultimate Hacker, he probably spent a lot of time online.
"I guess that's not an option in here."
"One more reason to get out. I hope someone comes soon so I can see him again."
Bessihiki stood up and began heading towards the door. "Well, I need to go now. I want to check out those shops again." He said. He opened the door, but hesitated before leaving.
"Don't expect me to open up like this next time we talk." He said, and then he left, leaving me alone in the dining hall.
Was that really Bessihiki that I had been talking to? He seemed like a completely different person. I felt like Bessihiki and I had grown closer today.