Danganronpa: Another Despair - Chapter 44 - PotatoSorcerer - Dangan Ronpa (2024)

Chapter Text


One Way Road

There was a moment of tense silence throughout the trial grounds after Chiaki and I made our dramatic entrances. Even the giant Junko seemed to be holding her breath.

After a moment, Sonia broke the silence. "Wait... M-Maki, what did he say your name was?"

"Ah, right..." She seemed to consider how best to explain. "Basically, Maki Yugami was just a pseudonym, since I didn't think it'd be safe to reveal my real name in a situation like this. But yeah, my real name is Alice Kizuki."

"I-Is it really alright to be so nonchalant about such a big reveal!?"

"Hmm, it does explain why she had such a strange last name, though..." Nekomaru pointed out.

"What I was gonna ask is, what didyousayhisname was?" Hiyoko asked, turning to me. "Did she say your name was Wright? I feel like I heard that name recently..."

"...The Twilight Syndrome Murder Case!" Hajime recalled. "During the ending scene, there were two characters talking. Guy G and Guy H, who were credited as Wright and Hinata, respectively. Was that you?"

I nodded. "My name is Albert Wright, and once upon a time, I was a student in Hope's Peak Academy's Reserve Course, just like you. We're the sole survivors, you and I."

"Albert...?" He muttered my name as if it were foreign to his tongue, which I suppose was literally true, but at the same time, like it was the name of an old acquaintance, which was also literally true.

"So, you're Albert Wright..." Nagito spoke slowly. "I've heard quite a bit about you and your friends. You could say I'm something of a fan."

"Your praise fills me with shame." I said bluntly.

"Ugh, never mind that!" Hajime snapped. "Chiaki, what were you saying before!?"

"I'm the real Chiaki, your classmate from your time at Hope's Peak Academy. The one you worked with here was my Alter Ego." She explained. "I've been working with the Future Foundation to help save you all, after you were turned into Ultimate Despairs."

"Wait a second..." Hiyoko interrupted. "If you knew us back in our school days, why weren't you turned into an Ultimate Despair, too?"

"Because... J-Junko wanted to kill me, instead. She wanted to make an example out of me, to push you all over the edge into despair. After I survived... she locked me up, and planned to use me as leverage against Al." She nodded in my direction.

I noticed that her posture was different ever since we arrived here, and I doubted it had to do with her avatar being de-aged. Being in the presence of Junko, especially when her would-be killer was standing so tall over her, was causing stress to her mind. We were standing a little too far apart for me to do any meaningful gesture, but I gave her a look to remind her she wasn't alone.

"I-I managed to survive thanks to him." She added. "He's the reason we'll all be able to reunite, once this is all over."

I was about to say something humble, to try and brush off the high praise, but Alice spoke before me. "And I suppose that one victory makes up for all his failures, huh?"

We stared at each other in something of a standoff, with the participants clearly not understanding Alice and I's relationship. Which was just as well, since I barely understood it myself. Last I checked, we were barely acquaintances, but I knew nothing could be that simple anymore.

"How exciting!" Junko cheered. "I haven't seen these faces in ages. It's like opening your high school yearbook ten years later!"

I stared up at the monstrously large woman. It was quite surreal, I had to admit. There was a sudden dizziness in my brain as it reminded me she wasn't real, none of this was real, but it was still an odd sight. "You've certainly grown since our last encounter, huh?"

"Whaaat? What kind of man isn't excited by big women? Once you gain some more experience, you'll understand. There's a looooooooot of kinky things you can do with big girls."

"...I'll take your word for it."

"U-Um... so are you two... also from the Future Foundation...?" Sonia asked us.

Chiaki shook her head. "I'm not a member. Officially... the Future Foundation actually thinks I'm dead."

"But I'm a member, like Makoto." I confirmed. "You could say... I hold the most responsibility in setting up this program."

Hajime looked between Makoto and I. "You guys... are the survivors of the killing school life who previously defeated Junko, right?"

"...Yeah, that's right." Makoto confirmed.

"The former heroes plunging themselves into the game world, ignoring all danger..." Junko rolled her eyes. "Jeez...! S-Stupids...! Making such a suicidal move... did you really wanna see me that badly?"

"You know me, Junko." I smirked. "If it means saving lives, I'll take the suicidal move every time. We beat you once, and we can do it again."

"So how about it?" Makoto asked. "There are eight people now. Nine, if Alice can vote. We have enough to activate the shutdown sequence!"

Junko stared at us blankly for a few solid seconds, just long enough for it to be awkward, before she broke out into tears, wailing loudly.

"Why... are you crying?" Chiaki asked, shocked.

She sobbed. "You guys showed up looking all cool and stuff... and now, all the Ultimate Despairs... WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! They'll be treated like even bigger chumps!"

"You called us chumps again...!" Nekomaru growled.

"Just ignore her." I said. "The sooner we start the shutdown sequence, the sooner we can get you all back home. Well, "home" isn't quite a thing anymore, but you get what I mean. We can end this mess for good."

"...Hey, can I ask you something?" Hajime asked. "If we do shutdown the program... What will happen to us?"

"You don't need to worry." Chiaki assured them. "We won't let anything happen to you."

"I-It's not just that, we want a more detailed explanation..." Hiyoko pressed.

"If you shutdown the Neo World Program, everything within the program will be deleted." Makoto explained. "It will obviously delete Alter Ego Junko, along with your avatars here..."

"So you're saying we'll be deleted, too!?" Nekomaru shouted.

"No, you won't get deleted..." I corrected. "All it means is that the program will finish without running the Graduation Program..."

"What does that mean for us?" Sonia asked.

"...Your avatars won't be uploaded. So, assuming things end up straying from my plan... you would all revert back to how you were before entering the program."

"H-Hold on a second..." Hajime interrupted. "If we go back to our original selves before we entered the program... D-Does that mean we'll go back to being Ultimate Despair?"

"That's right!" Junko confirmed. "Back to being hopelessly controlled by me, when you used to feel despair upon despair!"

"N-No!" Sonia gasped.

"Are you serious...!?" Nekomaru roared. "Can't you do anything about it!?"

"I said "assuming things end up straying from my plan," didn't I?" I asked. "I have good reason to believe that you can retain your memories of your time in this place. I wouldn't have agreed to put you in this program if I wasn't confident in those chances."

"Still, that's a pretty big if, isn't it?" Alice asked me, a smirk on her face. "When was the last time anything went according to plan for you, Albert?"

I knew that, in stressful situations, it was often best for me to remain diplomatic. Still, it was also my job to prevent Alice from getting in the way. I decided to let her off with a warning. "Don't take that tone with me. If you never showed up, I wouldn't have had to deviate from the scriptat allthis time."

"It might be a painful decision..." Makoto explained to the others. "...but I know you guys will be able to overcome it...! That's why, in order to defeat despair, I want you guys to fight alongside us!"

"W-We still have to fight...? I thought we were at the end...!" Hiyoko groaned.

"Don't worry... Once you get out, we'll do everything we can to support you!" Chiaki assured them.

"But I thought the Future Foundation wanted to kill every last Ultimate Despair?" Junko asked. "When you say "support"... do you mean, "I'll make sure you don't suffer when I kill you" or...?"

"A nice attempt to pass the buck, Junko, but we never said we wanted the Ultimate Despairs dead." I argued.

"That's right..." Makoto agreed. "Your real bodies have just been brainwashed. That's why we're sure you'll quickly revert back to the state you're in right now."

"Can you stop saying cheesy stuff like "brainwashed"...?" Junko asked. "Washing your brain is, like... really nasty..."

"But still... even if our brainwashing is undone, we could still lose the memories we made up till now, right?" Hiyoko asked uneasily.

"Does that mean we'll completely forget everything we did on this island?" Nekomaru asked. "I don't want that!"

"It doesn't matter what you want, that's the reality..." Junko insisted. "Every meaningless thing that happened here will vanish from your minds... Memory's not all that'll go back to normal. If you've lost a limb, like Nagito, it'll still be gone when-"

"P-Please stop...!" Sonia begged.

"Future Foundation's developed advanced prosthetic technology." I pointed out. "It won't be the same as before, but you can get used to it in time."

"Still, to go back to reality in that condition... That's like a bad joke..." Nagito muttered, disgusted.

"It's not a joke." Alice said suddenly. "It's reality. That's our past. And no one can escape their past. Isn't that right, Albert?"

"But... we don't even remember that past!" Nekomaru snapped.

"Hey, yeah... Why did we even become Ultimate Despair in the first place?" Hiyoko asked.

"I asked the same thing in the real world but... nobody would give me an answer..." Makoto explained.

"As far as I know, Junko manipulated you, took advantage of the weakest parts of your minds." Chiaki explained. "By breaking you down emotionally... she was able to convert you all to her philosophy..."

"It seems my teachings were quite thorough." Junko observed. "However, if you ask me... People who cling to stuff like hope, talent, or admiration are truly the weakest!"


"Guys who desperately want to reach the top... They don't think about what'll happen when they're pushed off. They're probably too concerned with having a really nice view while they condescend to others. Shoving off guys like that is soooooo easy! I happen to know 17,082 ways to do that! The point is... the moment you cling to talent and hope, despair has already set in..."

"That's not even an explanation!" Nekomaru snapped.

"...Then, what if you think about it like this? It turns out that you guys being Ultimate Despair was just part of the game world... And in truth, those guys from the Future Foundation might be part of the game world, too... They're simply side characters of the game world whose role is to offer hopeless hope to you guys... Well, after saying all that... I don't even know what's real and what's a game anymore."

"A-Are you kidding around...!?" Hajime asked.

"Alright then..." I started. "Let's stop messing around and just start the shutdown sequence..."

"Before you do that, we gotta do some reviewing!" Her giant self picked up the phone again, and dialed some numbers. When she placed the phone back down, the screen displayed a chart. "Ahem! When you guys activate the shutdown, you'll revert back to when you were known as Ultimate Despair... And your dead friends will never be revived... And the embodiment of despair, AKA me, will be erased, thereby preserving hope in the real world! Now then! Will the hope of the Future Foundation win? Or will my despair win? Alllll right! Thingsh are shtarting to heat up!"

"...This isn't a game, you know." Chiaki argued.

"Au contraire, this IS a game. The game of hope and despair that started with their killing school life. That explains why these chumps who weren't around last time have been reduced to mere side characters."

"Y-You called us chumps again!" Nekomaru snapped.

"Only cuz it's truuuuuuuue! Most importantly, the killing school trip wasn't just for your sake! There was a more important goal there. The goal of luring a specific group of people... Ah, since now's a great time, why don't we make that a question?"

"...Q-Question?" Hiyoko repeated.

"As long as we're in the game world, the rules say I gotta ask questions every now and then. Sooooooo, question! Who did I lure and how did I do it!? The hint is... I get bored easily, so the same outcome as the killing school life would be a pain in the ass! Okie-dokie, let's alllll think about it together!"

Hajime answered. "I got it... You used the surveillance cameras...! You were trying to lure the Future Foundation by showing them the footage you were recording, weren't you?"

"That's what those were being used for?" Hiyoko asked.

"In the previous killing school life, the surveillance camera footage was broadcast outside of the school... You used the cameras that were placed throughout the entire island for the same purpose..."

"Ding-ding-ding!" Junko cheered. "I was broadcasting the killing school trip live to every member of the Future Foundation!"

"Th-The footage you recorded with the surveillance cameras... was shown to the Future Foundation?" Sonia muttered. "Wh-What shall I do...? I did a lot of... disgraceful things in front of those cameras!"

"Yeah, you... sure did." I said, coughing awkwardly.

"I will never be Queen now! Please forget what you saw!"

"So you were watching us this whole time!?" Nekomaru asked. "Why didn't you come rescue us sooner!?"

"You're not getting it. Wecouldn't." I explained. "Our top programmer was at his wit's end just trying to prevent Junko from taking over the whole damn network."

"Even so, we kept trying over and over again, until it was possible for us to enter the program..." Makoto explained. "...just a short time ago."

"And you came all the way here when you knew it was a trap..." Junko added. "I get it, you couldn't just leave them alone... If you saw people dying one by one with your own eyes, by the same killing game you guys played... Hope dictates that you act all high-and-mighty and say, "I'm definitely gonna stop it this time!", right!?"

"Hey... don't tell me that's the reason you made us go through all this?" Nekomaru asked.

"Of course we made you do it for that reason! We orchestrated this game instead of killing you outright solely to show it off to the Future Foundation! That's why you guys are chumps... You're just the bait I used to catch the big fish called the Future Foundation... But it's not my fault, you know. This game is a fight between the Future Foundation and me. You guys were just instigators in the background... But you guys already knew that when you chose to play this game, right?"

"Just one second, please!" Sonia interrupted. "That sounds as though we..."

"As though we wanted to come to this world of our own free will." Junko finished. "But that's precisely the truth! You guys chose to be instigators and you were willingly taken into the Neo World Program... to provide the opportunity I needed to push this battle between hope and despair into overtime... That's right! The reason the Ultimate Despairs began killing each other was set up by the group itself!"

"Th-That's just your imagination...!" Makoto argued.

"Ah, naïve Makoto totally fell for the trap, and now your face is filled with a lovely shade of despair... Well, that despair is f*ckin' obvious! You're here to rescue the assholes who set this up in the first place!"

"Don't blame us for this!" Hiyoko snapped.

"Thank youuuuu! It's all thanks to you guys! This time around, I might be able to fill these guys with despair!"

"Oh, just shut up already." I shot. "Who do you think we are? Who do you think you're talking to? If you actually believe any of us would ever regret coming here, then you don't know us nearly as well as you think."

"This was the only way to save them... and the only way to stop you." Chiaki agreed. Then, her tone became uncharacteristically dark. "Somehow, you're going to pay for all the people you've hurt."

"You're pretty f*ckin' desperate! Well... that's pretty f*ckin' obvious! If you don't initiate the shutdown, those Future Foundation f*ckwits are gonna be trapped here forever!"

"T-Trapped...?" Hajime repeated. "Why would that happen?"

"Puhuhuhuhu-hoo! Didn't I already explain it? You know, the graduation exam rule? There are two options: Graduate and Repeat, right? You just have to choose one of them, and press it. All of you will cast your vote, and whichever one has the majority will be considered your final decision! But that's not all, right? In order to pass the graduation exam, there was one more requirement."

"As I recall... we also need the teacher's final decision..." Hajime answered.

Junko nodded. "Obviously, there's no way I'd let the members of the Future Foundation graduate. So if you can't activate the shutdown, the Foundation will enter the endless life of repeating the grade!"

"But that's only if we can't activate the shutdown sequence." I pointed out.

"That's impossible." Chiaki insisted. "Everyone here knows who you are, and how dangerous it would be to let you go free."

"W-We know that... all too well..." Sonia agreed with some hesitance.

"It's true that we fell for this trap, and that we run the risk of not being able to go back..." Makoto started. "But what's wrong with that!? Thinking we'd back down because of something like that is a huge mistake!"

"That's my line! Thinking your little shutdown plan will succeed is a huge mistake!"


"You're totally overestimating those chumps over there! There's no way they'll start the shutdown sequence!"

"...Why not?" Hajime asked.

"Look upon their faces... They look like piglets who were forced to watch their mom roasting on a spit... There's no f*ckin' way they'll initiate the shutdown just to go back to being Ultimate Despair!"

"Junko... I don't care what you say, I've decided to believe in everyone!" Makoto declared. "It's true that they walked the wrong path before... But that's all in the past now... What I believe in is not their past, but their futures!"

"Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeessssssssss...!" Junko moaned org*smically. "I-I was totally waiting for a protagonistic line like that! When I crush you with despair... such ecstasy!"

"No matter what you do to me... I will never fall into despair!"

Junko shook her head. "...Ah, wrong wrong... I'm not the one who's gonna make you fall into despair... That's the mastermind's job, and they'll be appearing very soon!"

"...M-Mastermind!?" Hajime repeated. My friends and I all tensed at the title.

"Mastermind...?" Nagito muttered. "You mean, someone else is coming...?"

"You should never make the last character who appears in a detective story turn out to be the mastermind. But... I always fall into that pattern, so I waaaas kinda worried about that. Oh well... let's bring him out with lots of energy! It's... Mr. Izuru Kamukura!"

"Here it comes..." I muttered.

"Izuru Kamukura... Isn't that the name of the founder of Hope's Peak Academy?" Hajime recalled. "It was written on the placard beneath the portrait of the academy's founder... That name... It was definitely Izuru Kamukura, right?"

"However, based on the information I know, the man known as Izuru Kamukura..." Sonia started.

"He was a genius who developed multiple talents." Nagito finished. "He was even known as the "Ultimate Hope," right?"

"Huh? Do the founder and the "Ultimate Hope" guy have the same name?" Nekomaru asked.

"That sounds like a pretty crazy coincidence..." Hiyoko argued.

"The Future Foundation... might know something, right?" Hajime wondered, turning to us.

In response, Makoto and Chiaki turned to me. What little knowledge they had on Izuru came from me, after all.

"...How about it, Al?" Makoto asked.

I sighed. "I'm not really sure where to start. First of all, the reason so little is known about the "Ultimate Hope" Izuru is because the academy purposely hid his existence."

"Why would the Hope's Peak Academy hide the Ultimate Hope?" Nagito asked.

"Despite what you might believe, Nagito, the academy wasn't as virtuous as it made itself out to be. The people in charge were selfish, shortsighted, and overconfident. They wanted to keep Izuru's superior talent for themselves. And in the end, the students paid the price for their failures. Izuru Kamukura ended up killing thirteen student council members. He's the killer behind the tragedy of Hope's Peak Academy. Though, to be fair, Junko was undoubtedly the one who set it all up. Either way, after that incident, Izuru completely vanished, along with any information on him. He wasn't even referenced in confidential files..."

""We thought Junko Enoshima killed him"?" Junko interrupted. "Don't say such cruel things! Izuru Kamukura is very much alive." She paused briefly, knowing the effect her next statement would have. Sure enough, when she spoke, her words seemed to shatter the air around us.

"Isn't that right... Hajime!?"

Hajime didn't immediately respond, as though he had to take a second to realize she had called upon him. "Wh-What...? I am... what...?"

"Like I said... you're Izuru Kamukura."

He opened and closed his mouth a few times, but could not make the words form. Eventually, he just breathed a simple, "...Huh?"

"All righty, if you don't understand, I'll explain it to you till you do understand! You're Izuru Kamukura you're Izuru Kamukura you're Izuru Kamukura you're Izuru Kamukura you're-"

"H-Hold on...! Seriously, what are you talking about!?"

"Izuru is the Ultimate Hope, right?" Nagito asked. "But Hajime is just..."

"That's right!" Junko agreed. "Hajime is one of those Reserve Course dropouts and has noooooo talent whatsoever... But the fact that he's really Izuru Kamukura makes all this muuuuuuch more hopeless!"

Hajime turned to me, as if begging me to deny Junko's assertion, to release him from this train of thought.

I shook my head. "...I didn't know how to break it to you. Hope's Peak... for many years, they were researching a breakthrough plan for cultivating personal talent."

"It's true it was a breakthrough plan." Junko added. "After all, it was a plan to create the perfect genius."

"C-Create...?" Nagito repeated.

"The Hope Cultivation Plan..." I explained. "A project that dates back to the very founding of the academy itself, and for the longest time, simply involved researching the talents of the Ultimate students. Because it was so important, they adopted the name of the academy's founder, and called it... the Izuru Kamukura Project."

"Izuru Kamukura... Project...?" Hajime repeated.

"During your time at Hope's Peak, they had finally advanced the technology far enough to push the plan into the testing stages. They set their sights on people like us... Reserve Course students they could use as lab rats."

"Wh-Why would they use Reserve Course students as lab rats?" Hiyoko asked.

"It's better to paint on a blank canvas rather than painting over an existing portrait, right? That's all we were to them. Blank slates to imprint artificial talent onto. And from the Reserve Course roster, the one that was eventually chosen was... you, Hajime."

"Wh-Why... me...?"

"Because you admired Hope's Peak Academy more than anybody else..." Junko explained. "You still don't get it!? You were used by the academy! They exploited your feelings of admiration toward hope and talent just to use you as a lab rat!"


"See, didn't I tell you? The moment you cling to talent and hope, despair has already set in..."

"L-Lies... That's... definitely a lie...!"

"And, after many shurprishesh, Hajime Hinata wash transhformed into Izuru 1.0!"

"Did you say... "transformed"?" Chiaki asked. "What did they... do to him?"

I sighed. "Turning a normal person into a super genius is normally impossible, but if there's one thing you can say about Hope's Peak, it's that they sure weren't quitters. They were willing to go above and beyond to finish the project. By performing some sort of complicated brain surgery, they were able to turn you into Izuru Kamukura, a being whose talent is talent itself..."

"Eventually, Izuru became an Ultimate Despair thanks to me..." Junko admitted. "But all I did to Izuru was simply break his spirit. That's nothing compared to what Hope's Peak Academy did to him. Not even close... Seriously, it's scary how determined the researchers were to mess with the human brainthatmuch. Doing such inhumane acts that nobody else is capable of with such a calm mind and a steady hand... I admire it sooooooo much it makes my mind numb! By the way, you're just a simple avatar right now, so even if you touch your head, you won't feel the scar."

"D-Did they... really do something like that...?"

"But doesn't that mean... If Hajime gets out of here, he's gonna be a super genius, right?" Nekomaru suggested.

"It's like Al said, he's not Hajime, he's a completely different person whose talent is talent itself!"

"D-Different person...?" Hiyoko repeated. "How is he different?"

"All of his senses, emotions, thoughts, and hobbies that interfered with acquiring talent have been excised..."

"...Huh?" Hajime gasped weakly.

"All of his memories of the past have been forcefully suppressed into the darkest recesses of his mind..."


"Emotions, thoughts, hobbies... He doesn't even have any memories...?" Nekomaru asked.

"It sounds like he is a completely different person." Sonia agreed.

"So that's why it's so surprising that Hajime even exists here at all... even if he's just an avatar. The Neo World Program must've dug up those memories and rebuilt his old personality from data from the past... I cannot help but feel impressed that the Neo World Program was able to accomplish such a feat. But as for Hajime... He probably would've been better off if he stayed erased."

"...Th-Then... after the shutdown, when Hajime returns to how he was before..." Hiyoko started.

"He'll disappear."

"D-Dis... appear...?" Hajime choked out.

"All that will remain is Izuru Kamukura, an entirely different personality created by Hope's Peak Academy. He will no longer be Hajime Hinata."

"Don't listen to her!" I snapped. "That's only one of the possible outcomes! There's still a chance that you could-"

Hajime gripped his head and started shaking violently. "Ahh... ahhhhh... AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"

"H-Hajime...!?" Sonia called out.

"Was that... me...? N-No...! That... that's not me...!"

"That's what you are!" Junko pressed. "That's who Izuru Kamukura is! You're the one who brought me into this world! You're Izuru Kamukura, the mastermind behind all of this!"


"You mean... the one who uploaded you into the Neo World Program was...?" Chiaki started.

"I-It's not me...!" Hajime shouted.

Junko added, "Just so you know, as long as your brain has been messed with, you can't undo it no matter how hard you try."

"That's bullsh*t." I argued. "The fact that Hajime's here right now means that it is possible to undo it!"

Hajime stared at the podium in front of him, a dead expression on his face. Seemingly, he did not hear me. "Th-Then... I-I..."

""Have no surefire way to be saved", you say?" Junko guessed. "But you already know what you must do!"

"...I-I see... I just need to choose "Graduate" then... huh..."

"H-Hajime...!" Chiaki shouted.

"In that case, the Hajime avatar will be uploaded into his real body..." Junko explained. "So Hajime will be safely reborn! Truly a royal road to a hopeless happy ending!"

"Hajime, you can't!" I snapped. "If you do that, all of your friends will be taken over by Junko!"

"Like, if you guys don't start the shutdown, the Future Foundation will be trapped here!" Junko added. "I can't allow the Future Foundation to sacrifice themselves for the Ultimate Despairs... Jeez, you should've said so before! You guys aren't honest at all!"

Makoto shook his head. "That's not it... what we're saying is..."

""We have to protect the world from despair," you say?" Junko rolled her eyes. "Okay okay, that's getting soooooooo old! Do you reaaaaaally hafta sacrifice yourselves just to protect the world in the first place? What if the world's hope is different from your hope? Even if the world is happy, it's meaningless if you aren't happy."


"Plus, the Future Foundation wants to kill all the Ultimate Despairs, right? Once you go back to being Ultimate Despair, the Future Foundation's punishment time will activate... It would be absolutely dreaaaaaaaaaadful if that were to happen!"

"Not just dreadful..." Hiyoko muttered.

"It's rather... f*ckING hopeless don't ya think? GYAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!... And can you guys even endure that? Everything that happened here will just end up being a meaningless game... Everything you felt... awe, friendship, love... There won't even be save data left of it... The girl you love and the guy you hate grow weaker and skinnier each day they lay immobilized... And in Hajime's case, his very existence is going to disappear... all because of the academy he loves so much. Will you be able to endure such despair? Who are you going to endure it for? For people you've never met before? For people who don't even appreciate you?... Does that sound like "hope" to you?"

"...No... it's not." Nagito muttered.

"You can't believe her...!" Makoto warned. "That's how she works...!"

"Each word out of her mouth is designed to feed your paranoia." I explained. "I swear, when we get out of here, I will protect you with my life. Now, we need to start the shutdown-"

"H-Hold on!" Nekomaru interrupted.

"No!" Chiaki snapped, her face showing clear panic. "You don't understand! You have no idea what will happen to the real world if Junko escapes!"

"N-No... I was just..."

"You could never imagine how many victims the biggest, most awful, most tragic event in human history has claimed...!"

"It's only started to calm down recently." I added. "If Junko Enoshima escapes... how many victims will fill the streets? Thousands? Millions? It could potentially cause the end of the human race. Mass extinction on a global scale... Numbers wouldn't be enough to express that."

"So that's why you're telling them to activate the shutdown sequence?" Junko asked. "To prevent that? You're telling them to turn back into Ultimate Despair and lose all the memories they made in this world. Even among them, there are those that will simply cease to exist, and you're telling them to just deal with it?"

"No, that's not what I'm saying!" I argued. "I know how this is supposed to play out! Theycansurvive the process, theycanmake it out of here with their memories intact!"

"And with my version, theywillmake it out!" Junko countered. "I know it's hard for you to understand, Al, but most people don't like dealing with uncertainty. As long as they choose Graduate, they can pass along their avatar's memories... and everyone here will be able to hold hands and keep on living. Well, everyone who died will be taken over by me but... Don't you think that's a better fate than being a vegetable for the rest of their life?"

"You guys... you can't buy into this..." Makoto insisted. "Think carefully about which is true hope..."

"...And which is true despair!"

"U-Um... what shall we do?" Sonia asked her classmates.

"You're asking us...?" Nekomaru asked.

"You mean we... have to decide?" Hiyoko asked.

"How... How did it turn out like this...?" Nagito muttered.

"If everyone can overcome despair... You guys should be able to grasp true hope!" Makoto insisted.

"If our memories up until now disappear..." Sonia began. "I will not even remember... the reason everybody died."

"Are you really going to let her take over everyone's bodies...!?" Chiaki asked.

"If we turn back into Ultimate Despair... The Future Foundation will hunt us down, right!?" Hiyoko asked.

"We won't let them do that." I swore.

"This is the Future Foundation's fault, anyway..." Nekomaru decided. "They're the ones who stuck us in this world in the first place!"

"We did it to protect you!" Chiaki insisted.

"If Junko escapes into the real world, it will be the end of mankind." I explained.

"I-I know... but..." Sonia stammered.

"Everyone's hope is in conflict..." Junko moaned. "Such despair!"

"...I can't do it..." Hajime muttered.

"...Huh?" Makoto turned to him. "C-Can't do it...?"

"I... can't choose... You guys are telling us the world's going to be destroyed unless we sacrifice ourselves... And that... I can't decide... I can't... choose either one..."

"...H-Hajime!" Chiaki shouted.

He turned away from her. "Shut up! Leave me alone! This... this is just too much... Why do I... why do I have to be a part of this...? I mean, I'm different from the rest of you... And I don't even have a talent... But even so... I got dragged into this... And now... my existence is going to disappear? Ha... hahaha, I don't understand it at all."

"H-How... much of ourselves do we have to sacrifice?" Sonia asked.

"Don't you dare force this on us..." Hiyoko demanded.

"...There's no way we can handle this much on our own." Nekomaru agreed.

"Every choice... is hopeless..." Nagito muttered.

"Everyone... get ahold of yourselves!" Chiaki snapped.

"It's impossible!" Hajime snapped back. "For someone like me... it's impossible... I can't choose the future...! Hope... despair... do whatever you want! It's not my problem!"


"Annnnnnd there's no answer..." Junko sighed. "So you've chosen to make no choice at all. Jeez, once again, this went exactly as I expected. I get so hopelessly bored when everything goes according to plan. Oh well, since I have everyone's data, I kinda figured things would play out like this. That is, unless something else hopelessly unpredictable happens... Well, I can say that... but the chance of something convenient happening is hopeless. After all, this is a game! A world where everything progresses with predetermined harmony!... Fine, I guess it's okay. You don't hafta force yourself to make a choice. A futureless future... I think it's fine if that exists too. As long as you don't yearn for hope... You'll never fall victim to despair... That goes for me, too... As long as I don't yearn for despair, I'll never need to hope for it. So let's all free ourselves from this curse and stay here as the best of friends! Let's... immerse ourselves in this tropical island life forever and ever... Forever and ever... and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and everrrrrrrr."

As her speech finished up, I felt a wave of despair pass through the room, threatening to drown us all. I knew the program's participants would only be semiconscious by this point, with Junko feeding them hallucinations of their continued island life. Luckily, my friends and I managed to avoid slipping into the same state.

As the despair passed over me, I grunted and stood straighter. "Are you done yet? Christ, it feels like you're even more talkative and annoying in person than you ever were as a game character. Once again, Junko, you're wrong. I've played this game before, and I'm not playing games anymore. Your "predetermined harmony" is nothing but a prison that you've built around yourself. Time and time again, I've reached out, given you the opportunity to escape that prison, but every time you smacked my hand away. So be it. I have other, more deserving captives to rescue. Starting with-"

"No, that's wrong!" Alice's voice cut through the trial ground as she pulled something out from behind her back, from under her lab coat. A small metal tube pointed towards me.

Makoto jumped. "A g-gun!?"

She smirked down at the six-shooter revolver in her hand. "This is just a little souvenir from the Octagon. Even with my avatar's invincibility settings, you can never have too much protection, you know?"

I rolled my eyes. "So that's your brilliant plan? You're just gonna shoot me so you can stop us from activating the shutdown sequence?"

In response, she rolled her own eyes. Her creepy, heterochromatic eyes. "Good god, I have six bullets, plus another round in my pocket, why would I waste them all on you? No, if you give me reason to believe that you're going to start the shutdown sequence, then I'll shoot all three of you. If any of your friends on the outside try to enter the program to fill in the numbers themselves, I'll shoot them, too. Sure, if you keep sending people, eventually I'll run out and be forced to give up, but I know you won't be willing to sacrifice a dozen lives just for your happy ending. You're too soft, Albert."

"And what makes you think they won't just pull the plug altogether, if the three of us die?" I asked.

At this, she laughed. "I know your friends aren't that cutthroat, either. Even if Byakuya likes to pretend he is. Even if they're content with killing me, they would still risk killing these five survivors. More, if they actually believe your theory that everyone could be revived through the shutdown sequence."

It seemed she knew pretty much every detail of our plan. Which made sense, since if my theory is correct, she's been in this world since before I arrived. She's been watching my every move for the last few years. Silently stewing in her envy, her malice, her despair...

"...Tell me, Alice. What's your story?"

"You couldn't possibly comprehend the path I've-"

"None of that bullsh*t." I interrupted. "I want to know the truth. Who are you, what do you want, why are you here?"

"Why am I here? Even after everything I've said, you still have no idea?" She shook her head, grumbling. "Well, as I'm sure you're no doubt aware, my legal name is Alice Kizuki. Back when we were acquainted, you knew me only as the older sister of your friend, Light Kizuki. Do I have that all right? My memory of those days is so foggy, now..."

"No, that's pretty much it."

"Right..." She started doing some casual stretches, rolling her neck or shoulders, but she never pointed the gun away from me. "Anyways, about a year after your family moved out of town, it was time for me to think about my future. I had finally graduated high school, and needed to decide what I'd study in college. I had an interest in law enforcement, but my true talent lied in studying the human mind. Eventually, I decided to meet in the middle and work towards a degree in criminology. But of course, since my life has to be a never-ending conga line of bad luck, I never got the chance to finish my studies. One day, a little over four months into my first year, I was suddenly jolted awake in that damned physicist's laboratory."

I nodded sadly. "But your body didn't come with you, so you weren't able to-"

"And then Toshihide took me in as his apprentice, and I was enrolled at Hope's Peak Academy."


She laughed again. "You really never figured it out? How you managed to survive your killing game, I'll never understand."

"I know, right?" Junko laughed as well. "It's like when-"

"You shut up. The adults are talking." She demanded. Noticing the confused faces me and my friends wore, she decided to explain. "It's really quite simple. I was the target of Toshihide's dimensional transporter from that universe, where the device was successful on the first run. Then, after spending a couple of years in that world, getting comfortable with my life there, I was targeted once again by the dimensional transporter built by the Toshihide inthisuniverse. I did mentioned that I have bad luck, didn't I?"

"I... but... you..." I tried to argue, to say something, but the more I thought about it... the more it made sense. Throughout the whole killing game, Alice gave off the impression that she knew these people before, that she had the same insider knowledge that I had with my friends. Yet at the same time, she gave the impression that she had no idea what was going to happen next, that she was just as blindsided by the events of the game as anyone else. How could she know the characters, but not the story? Because she never played Danganronpa. She knew the characters because she met them in another dimension.

Her behaviour, her skills, her relationships... It was all connected.

She nodded, as if she knew just what I was thinking. "Now, where was I? Ah, yes... I was enrolled at Hope's Peak Academy, under my chosen pseudonym, Maki Yugami, and the title of Ultimate Criminologist. The steering committee was quite interested in the way talent was treated in other universes, so Toshihide had no trouble convincing them to take me in after I displayed my knowledge for them. On the official record, I was filed under class 77-C, since I was different from all the others, but obviously they weren't going to make me take classes all by myself, so they put me in with 77-B."

"And that's how you know everyone here?" Chiaki asked.

"It wasn't an immediate thing. Since everyone was allowed to cut class so long as they focused on their talents, that's what most of them did, and I saw little reason not to, myself. But eventually, thanks to a stubborn teacher, and a gamer girl's friendly smile... I was introduced to everyone. Despite all their flaws and faults, they took me in, accepted me despite mine. Soda Pop, Sonia, Gundham... Ibuki, Hiyoko, Mahiru... Even the criminals, Fuyuhiko, Peko, and The Imposter... and Mikan... They were all family to me."

"What about Light?" I asked.

"WhataboutLight?" She countered. "I'll get this out of the way now, don't try to play that card with me, Albert. You don't know what my home life was like. To make a long story short, my parents heaped expectations on me because I was their talented, "perfect" daughter. They always neglected Light, treated him like he was lesser, and he resented me for it. Resented me for a gift I never asked for. So don't play the family card, because those people weren't my family. I was infinitely happier once I shed the name Kizuki and became Maki Yugami."

I was quiet for a moment. After my stint in Towa City, I knew how bad gifted kids could have it with their parents, so I didn't doubt what she said. Besides, from what I remembered about Light, I could see him fitting the role of a neglected second child. "...Fine. I understand. Then, back to the topic at hand... How much did you change, in that world?"

"Ah, the question I was waiting for." She smirked. "Well, let's start off with the big one. The one thing you were never strong enough to do. I stopped Junko Enoshima."

"Moi!?" Junko gasped.

"No, not you. Though you're so identical across both dimensions that you might as well be one entity, anyway."

"How did you stop Junko?" I asked. "Because, with my going theory, you haven't played Danganronpa, so-"

"Oh, I played Danganronpa, just not the right one. I was one of those suckers who fell for it when they said V3 was a series reboot, and thought, hey, why not jump in at the latest entry? Then I finished the game and got spoiled on Junko Enoshima's role in the previous entries. Oops."

"Wait, V3 isn't a reboot?" I asked.

"Al." Makoto said, giving me a look that said, Really? Now?

I raised my hands defensively. "Hey, I just wanna make sure we're not gonna get blindsided in the future because I didn't know about this other game, okay?"

"You don't have to worry about that." Alice assured us. "It still takes place in an alternate universe, but there's a reason that they know about the events of- Don't worry, it's all nice and complicated."

I looked around at our current, complicated situation. "...For some reason, I believe you."

"So you didn't know anything about the events of our world, like Al, but you knew that Junko was Ultimate Despair?" Makoto asked.

"Pretty much. And, thanks to my talent, I also had an easy time convincing law enforcement to keep an eye on her. It was a long and stressful investigation, but eventually, we managed to get the dirt we needed. Her psychotic despair obsession was revealed for the world to see, and we locked her away in an asylum where she belonged! All before she even had a chance to get started on The Tragedy!"

She glared at me. The gun was still trained on me, but those eyes were what I was mentally begging her to point away. I could see all of her pain in those eyes, directed at me. Her fear, anger, disgust, misery, loneliness, and jealousy. All of her despair, silently accusing me as the cause.

"And after all that, what was my reward? To be sent to this dimension, having all of my progress essentially erased, and being torn away from my body, left as nothing more than a ghost! As if that wasn't horrifying enough, to add insult to injury, my replacement ended up beingyou. A dawdling child who couldn't even rat out a terrorist if his life depended on it. A spineless coward who willingly sacrificed his friends to save his own skin. A self-righteous fool who spouts platitudes while dragging a teenage girl through an active war zone. And now, a short-sighted monster who forced the fifteen people under his care into a virtual reality simulator,despite knowing that the world's most dangerous person was inside waiting for them!Do these sound like the actions of a hero to you, Albert!?"

"H-Hey, that's not-" Makoto started.

"No, she's got a point." I admitted. "I've made mistakes. More mistakes than anyone else in this world, probably. I won't deny that. You're right to be angry with me, Alice. I won't challenge your emotions. But I'm here because I have a job to do, because I have to clean up my mess, and if you want to try and stop me... That, I'll challenge you on."

Junko turned to her. "See, this is what pisses me off with him. It's like water off a duck's back. No fun at all."

"I thought I told you to shut up." Alice demanded, trying to keep her breathing steady. "I don't need you. I never did..."

"...That brings to mind another question, actually." I said. "Whatdoyou want? Because you sure as hell aren't on our side, but you also don't seem to be on Junko's, either."

"That's right. Junko wants everyone to choose Graduate. That will allow them to escape into their real world bodies, and allow her to escape into the bodies of our fallen classmates. But as for me, I have no body to go into. My consciousness is no longer connected to any of the pods, either. So I'll just end up stuck here, with the rest of you. Once Junko's clones take over the Future Foundation site, she'll probably pull the plug on the system, just to get us all killed. Obviously, I consider this a bad ending."

"Well, that's not necessarily how it would go down." Junko interrupted. "Now that the gate's open for me, I could probably lendyouone of your friends' bodies, as well. Ooh, imagine how much fun it'd be if I gave you Mikan's! You could get up to a looooot of kinky sh*t like that!"

Alice took a few more deep breaths to suppress her rage. "As for your group, you want everyone to take special option C: The shutdown sequence. This will, of course, shutdown the program. As mentioned before, however, I don't have a body to return to, so like Alter Ego Junko, I will be forced to stay behind and be deleted. Either that, or..." She shivered. "I remain stuck here, trapped in a void of nothing, conscious but unable to interact with anything or anyone. Just like I was before... No, I can't go back to that. I never will. Anything's better than that..."

"Anything?" I repeated. "That's a bit extreme, isn't it?"

"You haveno ideawhat it's like..." She growled. "Unable to communicate with anyone, unable to interact with anything... Unable to smell, taste, or touch... Unable tofeelanything... for the past three years. Can you even imagine what kind of intense sensory deprivation I was going through? There were even times when I started hallucinating. Those were the worst of all. The only way I could minimize the torment was to focus my thoughts. So I focused. I followed you around, and focused on my hatred, my loathing for you. It probably wasn't healthy, but hey, it worked."

So that's where all that bottled-up resentment came from. "I'm glad to know I could help."

She scoffed at me. "It was through that experience... that I realized what death was. It's not cold, or empty, or dark, like fiction likes to tell us it is. It's just... nothing. That's why... I can't die. That's why I have to make sure everyone chooses Repeat."

Junko pulled out her graph again. "Oof, that one might be a bit of a tough sell. If everyone chooses Repeat, then they will be forced to continue living in this simulation, at least until they reach this part again and choose something else."

"Is that really what you want, Alice?" Makoto asked. "To live on this small island forever? With the only people to keep you company being all those you've betrayed and turned against? Will that really make you happy?"

"This island is currently the only place in the whole world where I can feel alive. Happiness? That has nothing to do with it. I'd rather feel all of the despair in the world than ever have to go back to that state of nothingness."

"But that's..."

I huffed. "You know, Toshi never complained this much about his three-thousand-year-long slumber."

At the mention of the Physicist, her glare returned. "Toshihide only cares about his precious science experiments! He never cared about his own senses, or communicating with other human beings! Hell, even if he really wanted the latter, he hadyoufor that! Whether or not that pompous loner wants to admit it, he gotlucky! He was granted immortality. The only thing I was granted was an unending death."

I could think of a fair few words that Toshihide would have given her if he were here to respond, but I decided not to relay the message. Instead, I kept my tone level. "Look, Alice, you don't have to do this. Future Foundation has a lot of advanced technology. You've already essentially implanted your consciousness into a computer, so I don't see why we couldn't upload you into like, an android body or something."

"Oh! Well, I didn't know you just happened to have a fully-functional robot body lying around!" She snarked. "Unless you're suggesting that you get to work on thatafterthe shutdown sequence, which I already established might delete me as well."

"But it might not! If all of Chiaki's classmates can survive having their avatars deleted, I have no doubt that your consciousness can survive the shutdown sequence!"

"Even if I was a big enough fool to take that bet, I would also be placing my life in your hands. You think I trust you enough for that? How do I know you're not just giving me empty promises so you can get your happy ending? That you're not just going to leave me in here to rot?"

"If you've really been watching me this whole time, Alice, you would know. I never go back on a promise."

At this, she actually laughed. "Oh, is that so? How did that one go, again? Something like... "Chihiro, we will get everyone out of here, I promise!"? Yeah, that sounds about right."

It was my turn to glare at her. For one thing, her impression of me was terrible.

"But fine, I'll give you that you'll probablytryto save me. However, I still have no reason to believe that you have what it takes to succeed. On top of that, even if it was built with top-of-the-line cybernetics, an android body will still have a very rudimentary sense of touch. Far less than I can experience here, at any rate, meaning I would still suffer from sensory deprivation. So not only does your counteroffer rely on a lousy bet, and a misplacement of my trust, but it also won't even truly fix the issue at hand. Remind me why I should take it, again?"

"Because if you don't, all of your friends will die!" Chiaki snapped.

"Friends? These people aren't my friends..."


"They're similar, I'll give you that. Similar enough that I was able to develop romantic feelings for someone in a few days when it took me almost a year to do so in the other dimension. But they aren't the same. These aren't the same people who took me in as family, who accepted me despite my flaws. And you..." She finally took her gun off me, and pointed it towards Chiaki. "You're not the one who introduced me to that family. You're not my first friend. You're just another enemy, wearing Chiaki's face."

"Alice! That's enough!" I snapped. "This is between you and me! Get that gun away from her, or else!"

"Or else what? In case you haven't noticed, I'm the one holding the gun."

"Doesn't matter. I've put up with your sh*t for a long time now, and you're already testing my patience. You shoot one of my friends, and it doesn't matter how much lead you pump into me afterwards. I'll make sure the last thing I do before I die is take you with me!"

"On the other hand, I love it when he gets like this!" Junko muttered.

For her part, Alice appeared to be quite unsettled at my sudden assertiveness. "...Urk!" She suddenly lurched forward, gripping at her side with her bandaged hand. Along with that, I noticed it suddenly seemed as though her hairstyle changed. Her twintails suddenly became significantly shorter, and lost their dyed tips. "Ugh... not now..."

"Wh-What's happening?" Chiaki asked.

"...More transformations, it seems."


She shook her head, as if debating whether it'd be worth it to explain. "My avatar isn't the same as everyone else's. Theirs were built from their memories, from how they looked when they entered Hope's Peak Academy. But mine... I didn't have any of my memories taken away, obviously. But I also didn't want Albert to instantly recognize me. Not to mention the... circ*mstances surrounding my body the last time I had it. So, I went into the files of the game and manually altered my avatar's appearance. But now... I think it has to do with stress, since it started after that damn Despair Disease motive... my avatar is slowly shifting to match what I remember my body was like."

"So that's why you had a limp?" I asked. "And why your body's been getting thinner since then?"

She nodded. "Like I said, dealing with Junko in my world wasn't exactly easy. It's not just my body that got ravaged. The people I worked with kept dying, like lambs to the slaughter. It was only because I knew how to lie that I was able to escape with my life..."

As she spoke, it felt like my mind was going into overdrive. Every gear was turning, all the memories were being sorted through. All of the pieces were falling into place. "That's it... That's it!"

"Al? What's it...?" Makoto asked.

I raised a hand to shush him as I began replaying everything I knew about Maki Yugami, about Alice Kizuki.

She stared at him for a moment, a smile on her face. "You seem interesting. I'll see you around, Hajime."

She laughed. "Oh, Kazuichi..." She stepped forward and put her hand on his shoulder, staring him down with her pink and blue eyes. "If you eventriedto kill me, I woulddestroyyou."

Maki, who had been listening to Nagito quietly until now, stepped forward. "Don't try to understand him. He's crazy; his mind works completely different than someone like you."

"Oookay..." Maki said. "He does know that common kitchen utensils can be considered dangerous, too, right?"

I suppose what I'm trying to say is... I trust you." The way she said it, it was as if she was afraid the words would explode as they left her mouth.

"Don't misunderstand me. I'm not some psychopath who wants to rack up a body count. But everyone has their limits. Your motives have a way of picking at the dark corners of people's minds. If this game goes on for too long, even I might end up tempted to sacrifice the others to save myself."

Maki started skimming the article Sonia was talking about. "But Sonia has a point. Serial killers don't think the same way as everyone else. They have completely different values, opinions, and motivations. That's why people like me are so important, people who can bridge the gap between the sane and the twisted."

She laughed. "God, no. Hopefully, my days being burdened by a group are over. Let's just say I fit better in an advisory role."

She held up a hand. "I'm good. Just winded. It's been a couple of years since I did... well, any sports, really."

"Yeah, well, your fun, quirky personality might let me give you a few social passes, but that's one line you won't cross. At least, not without losing something of your own."

"I surprised myself, too." Maki said. "I guess when I saw all that blood, instinct took over."

"We're more disorganized than a train wreck." Maki remarked as she stared upon the ensuing chaos. "Still... I guess we're the only ones crazy enough to accept each other. I guess that's as good as we're going to get."

She craned her neck and stared at a nearby surveillance camera. "No one can help us at this point besides ourselves."

"In my... previous line of work, I had a lot of people who I trusted to do what I needed them to do, but I didn't think of them as anything more important than coworkers. I just knew how they operated."

"Why am I... getting so attached to these kids? I can't afford to become vulnerable. I can't let my guard down. If I do... If I do..." She clutched her head, the memories clearly torture for her. "No, forget about them. Leave them behind. They weren't your friends, you weren't one of them. Nobody can ever say you were. You're Maki Yugami now, a changed woman."

"Nagito... just needs some professional help. Like the rest of us..."

She giggled. "I'm thinking like... well, like a teenage girl. Which is fine, I guess. I lost out on a few years, anyway..."

"On top of that... I've seen my fair share of death." Maki admitted. "Even from that distance, I'd be able to tell a dead body from a pretender."

"No! I can't lose you, Mikan! Not again!I can't lose you again!"

"In this world, the strong are the only ones who survive. Showing weakness, and showing affection to the weak, will only shorten your lifespan. I already know that."

"It's not that I "wanted" it." She clarified. "But one of us had to take it, and I really don't care how crappy it is. I've suffered under worse conditions..."

"I've always just tried to stay alive. Anything else was always secondary. I've seen so many people die... if I died too, it would be like killing them all over again."

Maki shook her head. "There is no such thing as murder for the sake of hope. Murder is simply murder. Forcibly sacrificing the lives of others, simply for your own desires? Only the mentally deranged could see any justifiable reason for that."

"...You are correct. I committed murder, the absolute sin. Like I said before, no matter what excuse I claim, nothing can excuse murder. I am a criminal. That's all there is to it..."

"I have... too much to lose. Too many legacies on my shoulders. For my survival, no cost is too great, no line is uncrossable, no atrocity is too terrible... It's all worth it in the end."

Maki approached the truck and inspected under the hood. "This... is a car bomb. It's a pretty simple setup. I've used it a few times, myself, in the past..."

"I've been betrayed by the people I care about... people I believe in... so many times. I don't want to fall into that trap any longer."

"You can't accept the idea that she has her own agenda, because she's your friend. Well, in case you haven't caught on yet, every killer we've had so far has been one of our friends as well. Nagito was also a friend. So was I. Everyone hides things from others, has their own agenda, and it's impossible for two people to truly understand each other."

"I myself should be sufficient proof that some people are willing to do anything to survive. In the face of an army of despair, some of them may have decided that playing along was safer than resisting."

"That's it..." I muttered. "You barely even tried to deny it... It's been right under my nose this entire time..."

"What are you going on about now?" She asked.

I looked her dead in the eyes. "You... You didn't finish telling us what happened in the other dimension yet. You stopped once you told us that Junko was locked up in an asylum."

"Wh-What more is there to say...?" But I noticed her recoil, ever so slightly, in response.

"How about you start with what Junko did next? How did she get out of the asylum? What did she do to you and your friends?"


Makoto gasped. "Al, are you saying...!?"

"I finally see it." My voice carried the accusatory tone I always take when putting the final nails through a culprit's coffin. "I finally understand what happened to you in the time since we last met. I understand what you must have gone through. I understand what you are..."

"N-No...! You don't-!" She was visibly recoiling now, more hunched over. Her hair ties had disappeared now, letting her shoulder-length hair fall free. Her bandaged hand had moved away from her side, and was now gripping her face, obscuring her pink eye from view.

"You are Maki Yugami, Alice Kizuki, the Ultimate Criminologist... and the sixteenth Remnant of Despair!"

I was expecting a final breakdown, an admission of her guilt, a surrender. Instead, Alice began laughing. It started quietly, but before long she threw her head back, her cackling becoming maniacal and uproarious. At the same time she pulled her hand away from her face, and her final transformation revealed itself.

The bandages around her arm, as well as her sleeve, burst into flames. A split-second later, they died away, revealing her scarred flesh underneath. I had thought I was better prepared to see such wounds after Kyoko's hands, but Alice's scars knocked hers out of the ballpark. It was a wonder how she still had use of her arm.

But more strikingly than that was the eye. Her pink eye was gone, replaced by a glass prosthetic. It had no obvious pupil or iris or sclera, but was instead bright red all over. The flesh around her eye socket had scarring, carving an outline shaped exactly like Monokuma's red eye. A symbol of true madness. A mark of despair, branded upon her face.

As her laughter died, she pointed the gun toward me once again. "Oh, yes, of course! Because that's just all you can think about, isn't it, Albert!? Anyone who doesn't do things your way must be some kind of failure, right!?"

"...Does that mean you have a rebuttal?" I asked.

"Yes! I am Maki Yugami, the Ultimate Criminologist, and the one who put Junko Enoshima behind bars! But it wasn't enough! It's never enough! Junko Enoshima is too powerful to be left alive!"

"What'd I do this time?" Junko asked. "Cuz it sounds like you're trying to throw the blame my way..."

"She broke out! Broke out of the asylum, and took her sister with her! And she only redoubled her efforts to start The Tragedy... My classmates... All of my friends were turned to despair. And I knew it was only a matter of time before they brainwashed me as well, or tore me apart to fuel their despair. So I did what any sane creature with a survival instinct would do! I played nice! I pretended to be one of them! And in the meantime, I built up a secret underground group dedicated to stopping Junko Enoshima, once and for all!"

"You were playing both sides." I said.

"It was the only way to survive, the only way to thwart Junko without her realizing that I was her enemy."

Junko yawned. "Gotta say, that sounds like the sort of thing I would've seen coming a mile away. Or even like, 100 miles away."

"So that's the final piece of the puzzle." I declared. "That's where your skill in both combat and trapmaking come from, I assume. It's also why you seem so unaffected by witnessing death. And why you have such bad memories when it comes to leading a group. Hell, it even explains why you have so many "legacies" riding on your shoulders. Because even ignoring the people in your group who no doubt died under your care, there's also the Remnants. You can hardly say they're the same people they were before, right?"

She nodded solemnly. "That day... I lost all of them. My first friend, Chiaki, was executed for the sake of spreading despair. Everyone else, Soda Pop, Hiyoko, Fuyuhiko, The Imposter, Mikan... they all died that day. Someone needed to remember who they were before, carry that memory onward. What was I supposed to do? Hell, what would you have done? Would you have reacted so well if you lost all of your friends? Or even if you simply lost yourfavourite?"

It took quite a bit of my willpower not to laugh at her question. I was reminded of the conversations I had with Celeste and with Byakuya, weeks ago. I didn't quite have an answer back then, but here and now, with Alice staring me down, the answer came to me as naturally as an objection. "If Chihiro died, I would bear whatever responsibility I held in his death, and I would remember him for the great person he was. I certainly wouldn't sully his memory by becoming a psychopathic serial killer, shepherding hundreds to their deaths. It's unfortunate what happened to Mikan, but for god's sake, don't use her as a scapegoat for your own sh*tty actions."

"How dare you even imply that...!" She shook her head. "You have no room to talk, besides. Our situations aren't comparable. I never had the time to properly mourn, like you did. I had everything torn away from me in just one afternoon. You can never be sure how you would react to something like that until you're in that situation..."

"I've been in that situation, a dozen times over!" I snapped. "After every death I've witnessed, every person I love that was taken away from me... I'll fully admit that our situations aren't comparable, but you don't get to take the moral high ground, either! At least in my experiences, I properly honour the victims. Look around you, Alice. Look at who you've become. Do you really think your friends, your true family would still accept the person you've become?"

"...It was the only way..." She muttered insistently. I noticed her hesitance, I knew I was getting through to her. I just needed to push a little harder. When she regained her posture, she thrusted the gun out toward me again. "Face it, Albert. You're just upset because I don't allow myself to be held back by the same platitudes that you base your entire life around. But when you get down to it, I've done everything that you couldn't. I changed the course of history. I was able to tarnish Junko's influence and reputation, however briefly. So now, you just want to find any excuse you can to tear me down. You can't accept that, between the two of us, I'm your better in every way. That's it. That's... the truth."

Makoto and Chiaki looked like they wanted to jump to my defence. Again, I raised my hand, gesturing them to silence. This was my fight. And I was in the final round.

I pointed across the trial ground to Alice, calmly raising my voice. "Objection."

"Of course, you would-"

"I'll admit, simply looking at the letter of what it means to combat despair, your accomplishments far exceed my own. But that's the problem. You fight despair without understanding the spirit, the reasonwhywe do it. And in the end, that leads to your ultimate downfall. Because that misunderstanding leads to you causing more harm than good. So you locked Junko away, alright, fine. Did you bother trying to fix the messes she already made? Did you both trying to comfort the people she hurt? Did you do anything at all to bring hope to those who needed it most? While your accomplishments may far exceed mine... I'd say your failures do, as well."

"N-No, I-"

"For evidence... like I said before, just look at how you "honour" the memory of your lost friends. You claim that you want to carry their legacies, to carry their hopes and dreams in your heart, but you can't even do that much! Because you can't grasp the true depths of who they were!"

"What? That's completely..."

"Teruteru Hanamura, the Ultimate Chef. Everyone wrote him off as just a little pervert. Even you only spent time with him because you thought he was funny. And yeah, maybe it was his fault for playing it up as part of his urbanite persona, but it wasn't just sex he was after! He was a hedonist, to his very core, and he wanted to bring the simple pleasures of life to everyone around him. He was passionate. He was a hard worker. And above all else, he was loyal to those he cared for. The only reason he even considered murder was because he had to make sure his mother was alright, and failing that, he needed to protect everyone from Nagito's insanity. At his core, Teruteru was a lover, not a fighter, and he doesn't deserve to be relegated to just a pervert.

"Kazuichi Soda, the Ultimate Mechanic. On the surface, he appears to be a coward, but can you blame him, given the situation? And of course he would have trust issues, after he was betrayed in the past. Despite that, though, he saw everyone on this island as his friends, and in my version of events, he never tries to brush off their deaths or ignore what happened to them. He always took their deaths to heart, remembered them. Aside from his quirks, he was reliable, and compared to many of his classmates, he might just be one of the least eccentric. Despite all his flaws, Kazuichi legitimately wanted what was best for the group, and would even take the initiative when necessary. But of course, you wouldn't know that. Your actions stole that extra time from him, after all...

"Mahiru Koizumi, the Ultimate Photographer. Some may call her abrasive, or a complainer. It's true that she holds high expectations for those around her, especially the guys, but she holds herself to the same standards. She does what she can to help the people around her, however she can. She's responsible, and tries to appear confident and reliable to the others despite her self-esteem issues. She's optimistic, but not to a fault. She's calm and sensible, and above all, honest. She always spoke her mind, even when it put her life in danger. As a photographer, she understood the importance of taking in every part of the world around us, both the beautiful and the horrifying. That was who she was. Mahiru was someone who lived in the moment, no matter how beautiful or horrifying it was, and she always put the needs of the group before her own.

"Peko Pekoyama, the Ultimate Swordswoman. She would tell you herself that she was nothing more than a tool, a weapon to be used at her master's discretion. Nothing could be further from the truth. She had desires and ambitions, she had people she wanted to protect. Underneath her stoicism and seriousness, and despite her past as a hitman, she had a heart of gold. A heart of honour and love. Her whole life, all the time she spent training in mastery of the blade, was for the sake of the one she loved. And it wasn't just him, she came to care about everyone in this class. She was never antisocial, or against the idea of making friends. She simply didn't know how to express herself, after being raised to believe she wasn't even human. Peko, she... she was the kind of person who was utterly selfless, expecting nothing in return for her devotion but the continued happiness of those around her.

"Akane Owari, the Ultimate Gymnast. Where do I even begin? Everyone writes her off as an idiot who's too relaxed and carefree for the situation she found herself in. Fair criticisms, but intelligence isn't everything, and even then, she was fully aware of the danger of the situation. She simply wasn't comfortable showing weakness and hesitation. These ideas come from her dark past, where starvation and sexual harassment were common. Anyone weaker than her would've been torn apart by that world, but she was a survivor! She had a fire, a passion for life that could only be extinguished by the Despair Disease that warped her mind. And her intuition was always spot on, allowing her to contribute to the class trials despite her lack of intelligence. Not that you would know that, given that you stole time away from her, as well. In the end, Akane was someone who lived life to the fullest, never letting doubt or worry plague her path.

"Ibuki Mioda, the Ultimate Musician. Heh, speaking of living life to the fullest. Quirky, bold, and most of all, excitable. She was the member of the class who managed to stay upbeat and cheerful no matter how bad the situation got. Of course, she also got bored very easily, preferring to do more bizarre and unusual activities to stay entertained. Still, despite not being very booksmart, she actually participated quite a bit in the class trials that she was present for. She's definitely more clever than she appears at a glance. She also carried a strong respect for individuality, never caring how others saw her, and simply acted and presented herself how she wanted. By accepting that change is part of the human experience, she was able to be her true self, and it was only because of the Despair Disease that she had that taken away from her. That's who Ibuki was, someone who understood what it means to be true to yourself, no matter how the world objects.

"Mikan Tsumiki, the Ultimate Nurse. Likely the least stable member of the group, due to the severe bullying she endured in the past. She was meek, paranoid, and always worried about being a bother. She was quite skilled at reading people, but due to her lack of confidence, she rarely acted on these skills. She had very warped views on social interactions, believing that it's better to be treated like filth than to be ignored. However... while she may act submissive, she did occasionally show a repressed, more sad*stic side. To be honest, she's perhaps one of the most multifaceted people I can think of, off the top of my head. Shy, but overly sexual. Violent, but a healer. Submissive, but desires control. Above all, however, she wanted to be wanted. She wanted love. But... she lived in a world that would never surrender it to her. And so, she suffered. Make no mistake, the fact that she stayed alive despite all she had been through is a sign of courage, not cowardice. Every moment she spent alive, Mikan was challenging the world that turned against her.

"Gundham Tanaka, the Ultimate Breeder. A prime example of chuunibyou syndrome, on the surface he appeared to be a self-aggrandizing, delusional, comic-relief nutcase. Truth is, the guy just had a hard time expressing himself, and tended to resort to doublespeak to get his feelings across. He claimed to be a loner, but he was really just lonely, and wanted to know someone who could understand him. He claimed to be the son of an angel and a devil, which are really his beloved single mother, and the father who walked out on them. He claimed to be an irredeemable villain, but in truth, he was a man of the utmost honour. In my version of events, despite his belief in survival of the fittest, he was more than willing to allow everyone to survive in his stead, and he faced his execution with dignity. And of course, his murder plot was one of the most intricate, revealing that there's more to his mind than bizarre daydreams. And all that's to say nothing of all of his ideals surrounding the treatment of animals. Gundham, no matter what came his way, was someone who truly understood the cycle of life and death.

"Fuyuhiko Kuzuryu, the Ultimate Yakuza. When he first introduced himself to the group, he made it clear that he viewed himself as a lone wolf, and would not hesitate to kill someone else if that was what it took to save himself. Even when he did inevitably have to interact with the others, he would always put up a fight, insulting and threatening them, and making it perfectly clear that he didn't want to make friends with anyone. But of course, even from early on, he showed signs of his true nature. After the sacrifice of his childhood friend, he decided that he wanted to change, and be better. It wasn't an overnight thing, change rarely is, and he often had fits of anger, but it was obvious that he was trying, and that counts for something. He was one of the most loyal and steadfast members of the group, openly helping and caring for everyone. As expected of a yakuza, he also highly valued rules and moral codes. Despite this, he didn't believe he "earned" his right to be the heir of his clan. But that's wrong. He was honourable, proud, and had a heart of gold. Fuyuhiko would always strive to be his best self, no matter what.

"Byakuya Togami, the Ultimate Imposter. For someone with a talent that involved hiding they're true self, they are obviously hard to parse, but from what I've seen, they're a truly kind person. Even when impersonating someone like Byakuya, they can't help but let their supportive personality shine through. They embody a sense of responsibility, reliability, and protectiveness that would make a true noble family like the Togamis blush. All of these traits become even more impressive when you realize what their backstory is. They never had a name, a family, a birth certificate, a home. The only way they could identify themself was through their talent, their ability to exist by taking the place of others. But because of that, they had a terrible self-image, and viewed themself as an empty husk, a space that could only be filled by carbs. They didn't believe they existed. But they did. Despite all the blanks in their past, they had a real personality, a real heart, a real soul, and that soul was one of the kindest, most selfless people I've ever seen. Truly, the Ultimate Imposter was the greatest fit to be the leader of this group, whether they felt they had that right or not."

The longer I spoke, the more confident I became, the easier the words flowed from me. This was where I shined, honouring the disgraced dead, the ones who had no one else to honour them. Any fear I held for Alice and the gun she had pointed at me faded away as my presence took command of the room. No... it wasn't just me. Maybe I was crazy, but I could feel them behind me, backing me up. The spirits of the deceased.

Alice must have felt it, too. The revolver shook in her hand. "Wh-What's your point, Albert!?"

But I didn't let her interrupt my momentum. I turned to the survivors, still trapped in their despair-induced trances. They were the ones who were still trying to carry the legacy of the dead on their shoulders.

"Hiyoko Saionji, the Ultimate Traditional Dancer. Initially just a snotty little brat with a bad attitude, and extremely abusive to her fellow classmates. She also possesses a superiority complex that seems all too common in the nobility. On top of all that, she's rather helpless without other people to tend to her needs, which can be annoying. Still, she can feel affection towards others, especially those who take the time to care for her. Her cruel nature stems from her terrible home life, where she was a constant target of assassination plots, so she's grown used to distrusting others. Despite her terrible past, she's passionate about the culture she was raised in, and is a staunch protector of the traditions she holds dear. And... while it may have been a slow process, and is certainly only a subtle difference, she was genuinely trying to change. She wants to help the group and be a team player, even if she has a hard time trusting anyone. You can call her whatever you wish, but in the end, Hiyoko was simply a scared child trying to survive in a strange situation, and while there are plenty of better ways she could have done it, no one can fault her for her mistakes.

"Nekomaru Nidai, the Ultimate Team Manager. A very loud and boisterous man, he can often come off as intimidating and aggressive. But underneath all that muscle and testosterone lies a soft heart. He's emotional, not afraid to shed tears over the dead, or openly discuss his feelings regarding the situation, but he's also able to keep a level head when he needs to support others. He's also very protective, willing to tie up the group's most unstable member in order to prevent future killings, or sacrificing his own body to save the life of his friend without a second thought. In my version of events, he was even willing to accept a duel to the death to allow everyone to escape the Funhouse, showing a very honourable side. And while he might not be bookish, he's far more intelligent than others give him credit for, easily being able to judge what kind of athletic activities someone would excel at just from a brief analysis of their body type and personality. And, let's be real, the guy is sheer willpower. Despite being told that he would only live to be 20, or perhaps becauseof that, Nekomaru lives every day facing forward, taking on every challenge that comes his way, refusing to back down.

"Sonia Nevermind, the Ultimate Princess. On her first impression, she appeared to be a naïve foreigner, lost and somewhat confused in this land. It also doesn't help that she often tries to keep up a brave face, which can make her seem like she doesn't understand the stakes. This, of course, is all wrong. She wears a brave face because, as a princess, a future leader of a nation, she feels she has a responsibility to not show fear. She was raised to believe herself to be a princess before a person, and always prioritizes the people around her over herself. She's also far from naïve, being perhaps one of the most intelligent members of this group, and being the one who most commonly brings up the correct answer in trials. The only thing that prevents her from taking the lead is her empathy, because she despises the idea of doubting her friends. And make no mistake, she does see everyone here as her friend, even those she has good reasons to hate. Even when facing someone or something that draws her ire, she is unfailingly polite. She might, in the end, just be a normal girl from a not-so-normal background, but never doubt the weight she carries. Sonia is the Ultimate Princess for a reason.

"Nagito Komaeda, the Ultimate Lucky Student. I believe I mentioned multifaceted people earlier. Everyone, even you, just brushed him off as a typical Hollywood psychopath, whose simply interested in causing as much carnage as possible. Let's start with his obsession with hope. He believes that any act committed in the name of hope is truly good, because hope is the absolute good. As such, he feels no guilt for bringing tragedy upon his classmates. He's even willing to go as far as killing himself to birth the Ultimate Hope, perhaps even to become it himself. However, it's obvious that his ideals come into conflict with his personal feelings. The way he speaks seems to imply that he's also suicidal because of the curse of his bad luck, and one of the reasons he wishes to become Ultimate Hope is so that he could be appreciated for once in his life. The reason he loves all of his classmates isn't because of who they are as individuals, but because of what they represent, and the only one in the group he felt genuinely close to was a talentless Reserve Course student. In fact, his greatest wish of all isn't really to create an absolute hope. He himself reveals that he truly just wants to be loved by someone, to have someone by his side until his death. Those ideals that he carries around are simply inherited from his terrible luck, a shield he wears to block out the tragedy. In his own way, he's like the human embodiment of Hope's Peak Academy, the good and the bad, the despair and the hope. But whether he wants to admit it or not, Nagito is human, just like everyone else.

"Hajime Hinata. He comes off as a cynic at first, but I'd classify him more as a realist. His worries tend to be justified, given the situations he finds himself in. While he's usually quite serious, he often finds himself getting roped into his classmates' eccentricities anyway, and with time, he usually relaxes and joins them in their odd behaviour. He tends to be snarky and blunt with his words, but it's rarely meant to be mean-spirited unless he's really upset. Often, he can become annoyed if he doesn't understand something, due to the fact that he's a very logical person. Conversely, he's shown to be kinda dense when it comes to emotional matters, though he still has empathy for those around him. While he might not be the friendliest person around, he does genuinely care for everyone, and will do his best to listen and give advice when someone is troubled. And he gives off an aura of easiness that can cause even the most antisocial members of the group to talk about their problems with him. He's just the kinda guy that anyone can talk to. Unfortunately, he has a hard time talking about his own problems, such as what is probably his biggest flaw: His insecurity. Throughout the events of the game, he displays an extremely low self-esteem, especially in regards to his lack of talent. He always admired Hope's Peak Academy, because he wanted to be part of something bigger than himself. He thought that, if he just had a talent, then he could be confident in himself. I... used to think that way, too. Still do, sometimes. It wasn't until my friends pulled me out of that despair that I realized the truth: Talent doesn't matter. True confidence is all about is being able to move on from the past and look to the future. He may not believe he has that ability, but I know for a fact that he does. No matter how this story ends, I know that Hajime will survive, and I know he will decide his future!"

"Stop it!" Alice snapped. "What's your point, Albert!?"

"And you..." I stepped off my spot on the podium. For a brief moment, I didn't expect the ground to hold my weight, that maybe I would just plummet into the sea of code, never to be seen again. But luckily, I felt the ground beneath me, as sturdy as solid concrete. I began slowly walking my way around the trial grounds. "Maki Yugami, Alice Kizuki, the Ultimate Criminologist."


"Um, hey, there's sort of an etiquette to these trials..." Junko started.

I ignored her and kept my attention on Alice.

"You think you were able to keep your true colours hidden from me? That I couldn't see through your dozens of masks? Think again. When you first arrived on this island, you did your best to be friendly with everyone, even if you mostly kept to yourself, because you were trying to hold on to the life you left behind. You rolled your eyes at your classmates eccentricities, content to play the comedic foil, because that's who you were to the ones in your home world. You tried to keep everyone at ease, and made it seem like you were trying to help them investigate, but that was all an act. All along, you were planning to keep them prisoner on this island with you. When Nagito revealed his first murder plot to you, you acted like you would put a stop to him in the name of justice, but it was really just your own sense of self-worth that you needed to please, wasn't it? You couldn't tolerate another failure. But you made it clear even back then that you understood your situation, with the way you spoke to Monokuma, to Junko. And after that trial, you only got more confident. You stopped pretending to investigate, instead spending your time talking with your classmates, letting slip all sorts of secrets about yourself, your skills, your past. In the face of the previous murder, you only let yourself become more reckless, and it cost you the life of two others. And yet, even then... you couldn't stop yourself from growing attached to them. Yeah, you probably want to believe that that whole fiasco leading up to the third trial was just because of the Despair Disease, right? You want to believe that it made you nicer than you truly are, that you're really just a monster under it all, but I saw the signs earlier. If I had to guess, you were infected with the Sincerity Disease, or something similar. All it did was bring out your true feelings, draw out the person you really were inside. Taking care of Fuyuhiko, teaching Hiyoko how to tie a knot, falling in love with Mikan all over again... That was all you. The deepest, rawest, realest part of who you were. And that's why, when you ended up getting betrayed, it hurt so much more. So you decided to hide again, to wrap yourself up in lies, because that's the only defence you ever knew. You returned to the person that Junko turned you into, the heartless mass-murderer that thought she was some kind of anti-hero, but was really just a cowardly beast sending the rest of her pack to its death. You sacrificed three more of your friends, and risked many more... but you regretted it, didn't you? It wasn't like how it was in your previous dimension, when you were a genuine Ultimate Despair. Ithurtto do those things. And when Nagito offered you a chance to save your own skin at the cost of Alter Ego Chiaki, you turned him down. In truth... you're a coward, Alice. One that's too afraid to look herself in the mirror. And now you expect me to believe that you have what it takes to kill my friends and I, just to prevent us from voting against you?"

By this point, I stopped only a few steps away from her. I was in point-blank range of her gun, now, and a single pull of the trigger would be certain death. But I was calling her bluff.

"Y-You've got it all wrong..." She muttered. "Of course I don't want to do this... but I'll do anything to survive. I have to..."

My expression softened, and I spread my hands. "Alice... It's not your fault that you did those things. It was Junko's."

"I know that! Of course I know that!" She snapped.

"Then you need to move on. You need to forgive yourself."

"What? I-I... I haven't done anything that needs forgiveness..."

"You failed to stop the Junko in your dimension. You ended up becoming a Remnant of Despair. A lot of your friends died under your watch. A lot of innocent people, too. Face it, Alice, you're a failure. A complete and utter failure. And do you know what that makes you?"

"P-Please... stop it..." Tears were already falling from her good eye.

I emphasized my final point by stepping forward, until the barrel of her gun pressed against my chest.



She recoiled, backing away from me. The gun fell from her hand and clattered to the floor. She sank to her knees, her scarred face buried in her hands, crying.

I knelt down across from her. "We can't change our pasts, Alice. No one can. The places we've been, the people we met, the things we've witnessed... those will always be with us. One way or another, our past will always play a role in how we act, or where we end up. But we can't let the past rule us. We have to be able to look to the future, or we won't be able to hold on to what we have in the present."

She looked up at me again, glaring at me through the tears. "Are you telling me to let it go? Ican'tlet it go! If I do, all of the people I've seen die... all of the people I've killed..."

"No, you can't let it go. People like you and I, that's our curse. Those legacies are the burden we carry, in penance for the mistakes we've made. But... that burden might shape our actions, but it's up to us to decide what kind of people we become in the end. And yeah, when you experience a sudden loss or tragedy, you can get stuck there for a long time. That's normal. But sooner or later, you have to take all that pain and suffering and do something with it. Make something better out of it. When we live with one foot in the past, and one foot in the future... only then are we able to make the most out of the time we have. And you don't have to bear that burden alone..."

I extended my hand toward her. "As long as you try to better yourself, I'll support you, no matter what. That's why I brought the Remnants of Despair here in the first place. Even if the whole world turns against you, I'll fight to keep you safe, and I'll believe in you, to my dying breath. That's why... I'm not just asking you to do the right thing. I believe that you will. Because I believe in you. And I want you to believe in me, too."

"Belief..." She muttered the word as if it burnt her tongue to say it. She stared down at my extended hand, thinking deeper than I had ever seen her do before. She briefly glanced toward the gun on the ground between us, but I didn't make any move in response. She glanced back at my hand, and reached for it with her own.

We stood, and I pulled her into a hug. She didn't fight it, she just continued to cry, and I felt hot tears soak my shoulder. I simply patted her on the back and let her cry it out.

Glancing over her shoulder, I could see Makoto and Chiaki watching us. Chiaki's face was pure relief, which was understandable given the tense few minutes we just went through. Makoto, however, showed no signs that he had doubted my ability. The only emotion on his face was pride. I simply gave them a modest smile in return.

Junko, however, could only groan in disgust. "Well, I guess it's better than a guaranteed happy ending, but that's seriously disappointing. I was really looking forward to seeing her blow at leastoneof you guys' brains out!"

I separated the hug and turned toward her. "That's one thing you don't understand, Junko. People who are winning, people who have it easy... they don't need hope. They might have it, for one reason or another, but it's not a precious commodity like it is for the underdog."

"He's right." Makoto agreed. "You present these people with twisted choices, telling them that all paths lead to despair, but that's exactly the kind of situation where hope is needed most! By forcing them to fall into despair, all you're really doing is forcing them to believe in hope! And that's exactly why you will never win!"

Junko scoffed, and rolled her eyes. "Whatever. I'm not asking them to fall into despair. I'm just asking them to choose the option that's a little more selfish. Both options have hope and despair, so why not choose the better of the two? But, like I said before, it seems like they decided not to decide at all. How hopelessly boring..."

Before any of us could respond, the participants who were still stuck in trance began to mutter their thoughts out loud.

"If the memories we made here disappear... I will not even remember... why everyone died..." Sonia said.

"If we turn back into Ultimate Despair... The Future Foundation will kill us all, right?" Nekomaru said.

"I just wanna see Mahiru again... Just one more time, before I..." Hiyoko said.

"This shouldn't be my responsibility..." Nagito said. "I'm... not the Ultimate Hope..."

Junko rolled her eyes again, chuckling to herself. "They're both hope, and they're both despair! A conclusion will never be f*cking reached!"

"No, that's wrong!"

A blaze of light lit up the area. To counter the wave of despair Junko sent through us earlier, a surge of radiant hope washed over us. Everyone in the room, even the dazed participants, seemed to stand up straighter and turn toward the source of the light.

Hajime Hinata stood at his podium, a golden aura surrounding his avatar. His hair had turned a stark white and seemed to straighten out, pointing upwards as if his newfound power allowed him to defy gravity. I smirked. This was it.

"There won't just be hope... There will probably be a lot of despair too... I don't know what kind of future awaits us..." He opened his eyes, revealing a pair of bright red crosshairs that seem to shoot through Junko. "...but our futures are ours! I won't let anyone take them!"

Junko appeared confused. "...Huh? Who the hell are you?"

"I've decided... I'm done running away... I will fight for my future! I will fight alongside the future that everyone created for me! It's not for anyone else's sake but my own!"

Junko's composure suddenly shattered. "D-Don't tell me... Izuru? Hey, what the heck is going on!? I-Is this... a serious bug or something!?"

"I... am not Izuru Kamukura... I am Hajime Hinata!"

She was clearly in a panic, but she did her best to hide it behind a glare. "You won't be able to do it...! You won't be able to do anything!"


Hajime's voice cut through everything else, but it wasn't just him. Maybe I was just hearing things, biased due to the events that I experienced, but I could swear I heard Alter Ego Chiaki's voice shout with him. And there was another voice... nearly identical to Hajime's, but more experienced, more tired of the world, yet more powerful...

"Wh-What the heck is wrong with you...?" Junko shouted. "Why is there a bug like this... all of a sudden...?"

Hajime simply turned to his friends. "Everyone... let's shut this game down...!"

"B-But..." Nagito argued. "If we start the shutdown sequence, we'll be..."

"There's never only one choice to make... There's no way I'll allow things to end this way. The future everyone has created for us should have more possibilities than that. Let's leave this place with confidence, and from there we can just create it on our own... The future that we want!"

"Wh-What are you saying!?" Junko snapped. "There's no way something that convenient is going to happen!"

"It wouldn't be strange if a miracle happened... This isn't a game! We can change the future as much as we want!"

"E-Even if you talk big... If you leave here... you're just gonna forget everything... Th-That goes for everyone else...!"

"Um..." Sonia interrupted. "We just have to press these two buttons at the same time, correct?"


"Um... I wonder... I do not really understand it myself, but... I just... I just saw it. When my body felt so heavy that I could not move, when I felt as though I was sinking into a deep, black sea... It was at that moment, I somehow heard Hajime's voice... and though it was just a flash, I saw it. Like a lighthouse beacon shining across an ocean of darkness... A warm, yet resolute, light... The one who shined that light... it was probably... You saw it too, right Hajime? The future we are going to create from this moment on, it is also the future that everyone has created, right? Then... there is no way we can stop now!"

"S-Seriously... that's a suicidal decision..." Junko argued.

"Maybe so. There's no telling how this will end..." Nekomaru admitted. "But I've been marked for death since the day I was born... It's honestly a miracle that I've lived this long... With that in mind, I'm going to give this my 110%! Because there's no point in having a life if you can't give it your all when it counts! SO I'M GONNA GIVE IT EVERYTHING I'VE GOT!"

"Jeez, you're loud... But..." Hiyoko started. "But... even if there's a chance that I'll go back to being an Ultimate Despair... even if there's a chance that I'll forget everything that happened here... I'll never let someone like you take over Mahiru's body! Or anyone of the others, too, I guess. So that's it... I've made up my mind!"

Nagito chuckled bitterly. "I've... had a lot of my worldviews challenged during this trial... Which, I'll admit, is actually pretty refreshing, even if it's also very... terrifying. But in the end, my resolve has only been shaken, not broken. And really, if that's the best you can manage for someone as pathetic as me, then you were never really fit to be called the "Ultimate Despair" in the first place. It's quite disappointing, but if one good thing was able to come of this... it's that, in the end, you still managed to bring us one step closer to the absolute hope that can overcome any despair." He glanced at Hajime, a smile on his face.

Hajime stared down at him for a few moments before looking up in our direction. "Maki?"

She blinked. "Even after everything I've done... you want my vote, too?"

"You're just as much a member of this class as I am." He explained. Which was true, I suppose.

Alice closed her eyes. "Loathe as I am to admit it... Albert was right, about me. I'm a coward who allowed herself to be used by the Ultimate Despair. I've betrayed you all... so many times... just to save my own skin. And he was also right... when he said that I've been failing to carry the legacy of those before me. So that's why... I need to make things right. I've spent so long only worrying about myself, putting my own needs above everyone else's... that has to stop. I'm scared, of course... I'm terrified of what might happen to me when this game shuts down... But to stay on this island for the rest of my life... that's not really living at all. So, I-I... I won't stay trapped in the past anymore. I won't make anymore excuses. For once, I'm going to do the right thing. I'm going to believe in those around me, and face the future head-on!"

"Y-You all... why...?" Junko asked. "Why...? How... how can you guys throw yourselves back into the depths of despair!?"

"Because we believe..." Hajime answered.


"We believe in our future... That's what makes us different from you... We believe that if we try new things, even difficult things, that everything will turn out okay. We believe we can even create our own futures!"

"Th-That's impossible... that can't be hope... it's not even despair... WH-WH-WHAAAT IIIIIIIIIISSSSSSSSS THIIIIIIIS!?"

Chiaki stared at her classmates, a smile on her face unlike any I've seen before, and tears of joy building in her eyes. "Hajime... Everyone... Thank you."

Hajime stared back at her, a smile on his face as well, though his was noticeably softer, more sombre. "...I'm not... the one you should be thanking."


He turned back to his podium. "...Well, let's get started."

I made my way back to my podium as everyone got ready to cast their votes.

"Honestly, I didn't think it would end this easily." Hiyoko admitted.

"Ha! But it's not really the end, yet, is it?" Nekomaru asked.

"This is just the beginning... right?" Sonia decided.

"First, we need to shut down this island of despair..." Nagito agreed.

"And from that point on... we're the ones who are going to create." Hajime declared.

We all cast our votes, putting an end to this killing game. With that, our futures were in our hands, and that was the end of our Final Class Trial.

With the world being deleted, the first thing to go was the Observer. Across from the massive Junko, Usami appeared in all her rainbow glory. Junko tried to fight back, but it was clear she wasn't combat-ready. Usami easily knocked her around like a ragdoll. For her finishing move, she wrapped Junko up in a rainbow ribbon, tightening it enough to crush the giantess. The ribbon began to glow, bathing the area in light, and shattering Junko's avatar into a million pieces.

The cellphone that displayed Junko earlier was laying nearby, and her distorted, digitized voice rang from it weakly. "Gyaha... gyahahahahaha... Man, this is absolute despair... I feel despair upon despair and despair toward despair yet again... How fun. Once you've experienced the despair I've suffered, there's no turning back. Living in the shadows of past memories... That's... too sad, you know... Ah, but I guess... I no longer... I no longer have to... hope for despair... That... is... just... so... hope... l... e... s... s..."

With that, the phone shut down, signalling the end of Junko Enoshima, the Ultimate Despair... forever.

As the world around us began to disintegrate, Chiaki gathered with her classmates so that she could actually talk with them. Part of me wanted to point out that she would have much more time to say the things we wanted to once we were outside, but I didn't have the heart to tear her away from her friends.

And so, Makoto and I stood off to the side, as our avatars slowly faded.

"At least... this wasn't the ending prepared for them." Makoto decided. "This was... the ending they created."

"Yeah." I nodded. "You worried about them?"

He thought about it. "A little bit. But it's in their hands, now. We just have to believe in them. Besides, didn't you say earlier that true hope is moving forward, even when you're worried or scared?"

I nodded again. "Nagito might be a crazy bastard, but on that point, I think we all agree."

Speaking of Nagito, I looked over and stared him. He seemed to be trying to stay off to the side, himself, but his friends weren't letting him out of their sight. Even if they weren'texactlyfriends, he was lucky to have them.

My gaze moved to the other problematic one, Alice. She seemed ashamed to be standing next to them, but at least she was being genuine now. She wasn't hiding behind any of her usual masks. She was free. Scared, but free.

"You're worried about her, huh?" Makoto asked. Seems he caught me staring.

I thought about the question. "...She'll be fine. Like I said... She's just like me, you know?"

He gave me a funny look. "Even at your lowest, I don't think you were ever... as bad as she was."

"Not in this dimension." I pointed out sadly. "Remember, I wasn't always who I am right now. Once upon a time... I was willing to let Sayaka die just to save myself. I could've easily ended up reinforcing that part of me, instead of working to change it."

Makoto stared at Alice, and seemed to understand my point. "Al, you..."

"Alice isn't fine just yet... but neither am I. We both have things to work on, issues to address. But as long as we have people to support us, and as long as we have a future to move towards... Well, I think we'll be just fine."

"Yeah... you're right." He turned to me. "You know, Al... you're pretty amazing."

My eyes widened. "Where's this coming from, all of a sudden?"

"It's just what I think, so I thought I should say it. You might know about a version of me that never met you, but... Personally, I don't know what I'd do without you."

My first instinct was to brush off the compliment, but it actually struck me pretty deep. I was genuinely touched. "Makoto, that... Thank you."

At that, our avatars began to glow, and we began to float into the air. I looked over to Chiaki, and saw that she was the same way. It made sense that we would be the first to leave, we spent comparatively less time in the Neo World Program. There was less to delete and less to upload.

I closed my eyes, and let my memories be taken by the system. One way or another, we'd know the results of the battle we had today.

After the participants of the killing school trip watched their new Chiaki disappear into a mess of pixels, they sat around in the centre of the room, watching the world around them disappear, waiting their turn to do the same.

"It's really coming down..." Nekomaru remarked.

"You're right..." Hajime agreed.

Sonia spoke up next. "...Um... I am sorry to trouble everyone but... Even if we awaken in the real world and forget what transpired here... it will still have meaning, right?"

"That... depends on us, right?" Hiyoko answered.

Hajime looked around, as if analyzing some minute details that no one else could see. "Time's almost up..."

Maki noticed that she was shivering. "...I'm really scared."

"I am... scared too..." Sonia offered.

"It makes sense to feel scared." Nekomaru decided. "THAT'S THE FUTURE!"

"I, um... I won't forget you guys... or the others..." Hiyoko told them. "So, you better remember me, too!"

"Heh, there's no way I'd forget such a colourful group that easily!" Nekomaru laughed.

"Even if I forget... I will use all my might and remember!" Sonia declared.

"Of course, we should keep an eye an everyone, make sure no one's different." Nagito pointed out. "Especially for Hajime's situation."

Hajime nodded. "That's a relief..."

As the light began to close in on them, Maki spoke up. "Um... No matter what, please, don't forget me... Don't leave me here..."

"Of course not! Did you not hear what we just said?" Sonia snapped.

"Like it or not, you're one of us!" Nekomaru declared. "Doesn't matter where you came from!"

"Besides, you're not getting off that easily!" Hiyoko argued. "You still have to make it up for everything you did."

Maki smiled. Tears were falling down her face, but she made no effort to wipe or hide them. "Thank you... I-I believe in you guys... Remember that, too."

Hajime stared upwards as the light became blinding. He felt his avatar slowly begin to disappear. He was scared, but he was also ready to face the future. But the emotion most prevalent in his mind was gratitude. He closed his eyes and spoke aloud, knowing his voice would reach the intended recipient.

"Thank you... Thank you, Chiaki... Phew... I finally said it."

And from the endless white expanse, he heard a voice respond, calling back to him.

"Me too... Thank you. I'll... never forget about you guys... I'll never... ever forget... I'll be cheering for you guys from now on... from somewhere. Cuz... we're all friends, after all."

Danganronpa: Another Despair - Chapter 44 - PotatoSorcerer - Dangan Ronpa (2024)


What is the password for ultra despair girls? ›

The correct password is 0718.

Is Danganronpa another finished? ›

Danganronpa Another has six playable chapters, a prologue, and an epilogue. The first chapter was released on January 6th, 2013 and the complete edition of the game was released on June 11th, 2015.

Did Kodaka write Ultra Despair Girls? ›

When Spike Chunsoft green-lit the proposal, they let Kodaka have free rein to write the narrative for Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls. Kodaka stated that he spent an equal amount of time writing the dialogue and backstories for each of the characters of the game in comparison to the previous games.

Who dies in Danganronpa another? ›

Death Order
Chapter 1Kiyoka Maki Bludgeoned with a hammer by Mitsuhiro Higa
Chapter 2Kizuna Tomori Stabbed in neck by Ayame Hatano
Chapter 3Kanata Inori Electrocuted by Kinji Uehara Kakeru Yamaguchi Neck slashed by Kinji Uehara
Chapter 4Haruhiko Kobashikawa Shot by Satsuki Iranami
4 more rows

Who is the pink girl in Ultra Despair Girls? ›

Kotoko Utsugi (空木 言子), leads the "Fighter" Class as a member of the Warriors of Hope and is one of the instigators of Demon Hunting featured in Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls.

How old is Nagito in Ultra Despair Girls? ›

Appearance. Nagito is a tall and skinny young man in his early twenties, around 22 at youngest. In Danganronpa Another Episode, he is around 20 year old, while his virtual avatar in the Neo World Program appeared as around 17 year old. He has messy shoulder-length hair, light grey-green eyes, and sickly pale skin.

Who killed Kiyoka? ›

Fate. That night, she would receive a letter from Mitsuhiro, which he had slipped under her door, telling her to come to the laundry room since there were no cameras present. She would go to the laundry room at around 6 a.m., where he would murder her by hitting her in the back of the head with a hammer.

Why was Danganronpa cancelled? ›

The more gruesome aesthetic of this prototype version of the game and the seeming lack of marketability led to Danganronpa DISTRUST's cancellation, until it was later reworked further into what became Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc.

Why does Danganronpa 2 not have an anime? ›

This implied that an adaptation of the second game was in the works, but a few years later, a completely new anime called Danganronpa 3 was announced instead. An official tweet by series creator Kodaka stated that the characters' stories already ended in the game.

How old is Komaru Ultra Despair Girls? ›

Komaru is a teenager around high school age, who is described in the Danganronpa 1.2 Reload Artbook to be a year younger than her brother Makoto. However, when scanned by Monokuma during Ultra Despair Girls, it estimates her to be fifteen to seventeen.

How is Nagito alive in Ultra Despair Girls? ›

After his death in the Neo World Program, Nagito fell into a coma on Jabberwock Island, along with his classmates who also "died" on the Killing School Trip. He and the other comatose students were eventually revived.

How long does it take to finish Ultra Despair Girls? ›

When focusing on the main objectives, Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls is about 16½ Hours in length. If you're a gamer that strives to see all aspects of the game, you are likely to spend around 25½ Hours to obtain 100% completion.

Does Ultra Despair Girls spoil Danganronpa 2? ›

Ultra Despair Girls must be played after Danganronpa 2. Despite being set before DR2, it expects you to have played DR2 and has some major spoilers from DR2.

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