They said that he had a bullet fragment stuck in the back of his head, laced with whatever it was that the enemy army had on them. They said they could try their hardest to fix him - fix him no less! that sounded really assuring - but it would be an experimental process. Of course it would - such had been true of the last patient before him, and the seven or so before him.

They promised that they had a very clear idea of what they were doing now and got straight to work right away. If he wanted to protest, he couldn't. His mouth absolutely refused to cooperate or even open. Actually, he wasn't able to move at all, at least he didn't think he was. That might have been because of the restraints holding him in place though.

As the first cut was made into the back of his head, his mouth opened as if to scream, but not a sound left it. And so this continued until he was finally granted with the wonderful dark bliss that was unconsciousness, but yet as he slept, he could still almost hear the blade scraping against and trying to cut into his skull.


When he awoke next, he was in a hospital. A real one, not the makeshift tent on the battlefield. They said that it was a miracle that he survived - he was the only one out of the 60 other soldiers that got afflicted with the same chemical to have pulled through the experimental surgery.

He found that he was able to sigh as he sat up - the only time he had gotten hurt in battle and it had to be a head injury. What a disgrace. He should be dead right now.

His letter of discharge came as no surprise to him - he had been injured in the field. A head injury. Another sigh. He was lucky to be alive. What a sad world he lived in.

Wait. There was another letter underneath the discharge one. He looked around for the girl who had handed him the letters, but she was nowhere to be found.

Sighing, he opened the letter, expecting a card of sympathies that he most definitely did not want. What he found instead was rather surprising.

Makoto Naegi

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into Hope's Peak Acadamy for Super High School Level students. Your Super High School Level is Soldier Level, so you will be known as the Super High School Level Soldier on your ID and any additional informational papers you receive. We hope to hear back from you and see you soon.

Sincerely,

Kirigiri Jin

Headmaster

Naegi stared at the letter for a few minutes, allowing himself a small smile. The newly born despair welling in his heart budded in anticipation, slowly painting over the bright, white, hope living there before.

He still had somewhere to go.

He still had people he could protect.


His year at Hope's Peak was the best thing that ever happened to him.

That was why he had to do it.

It was to protect them.

But from what?

Did he have to protect them from hope or did he have to protect them from despair?

The answer became clear soon enough.


Mukuro helped him with his plans. She really was a nice girl - The Super High School Level Luckster; the same shared title as her sister.

They were an odd pair, the sisters, and truly his best friends, but because Junko wouldn't take him seriously if he asked her, he decided that Mukuro would be his accomplice.

Mukuro understood what he wanted to do - what he needed to do. Or if she didn't, she pretended for his sake.

Everything was set and their plan was perfect. Mukuro would handle Monokuma and the running of the school through messages that Naegi would send her via communicator, while he in reality was behind the scenes, re-earning his friends' trust as he saved them from themselves.

As he saved them from their hope.

As he saved the whole world from their hope.


Yes. Perfect. All of his friends waited at the entrance, the last year completely gone from all of them. As he left the control room, Mukuro kissed him on the cheek and whispered for him to be careful.

She was rewarded with a twisted smile as Naegi walked to his friends, more intricate plans of murder already swirling in his brain.


Him. Leon dared to frame him as the first murder in his own game.

Disrespectful.

Although it was quite convincing - Sayaka was laying, dead, in his own bathroom after all. He had such incriminating evidence against him - he might even have believed it himself...

...if he hadn't watched the murder unfold before his very eyes.

Mukuro watched as he set the camera to the biggest screen and leaned back, a smile on his relaxed face.

"You seem pretty calm considering that he's framing you," came Mukuro's voice quietly.

Naegi's smile grew wider as he said "He's leaving plenty of incriminating clues. I'll be able to smoke him out. It's only a matter of time."

"...wouldn't just be easier to let them choose you and fail? It would allow them to succumb to despair much faster."

Naegi's smile remained firmly on his face, but his eyes were wide now and frenzied. "Why would I want them to succumb to despair?~ They need hope! Hope! Hooooope!" He sang.

Mukuro just stared at Naegi, knowing by now that his bipolar mood switches came with him, and had long since accepted them.

Love does that sometimes.


"You are 100 percent correct! Leon Kutawa murdered Sayaka Maizono! Murderer, murderer! Down with the murderer!"

All eyes were on Leon Kutawa as he shook, panicking, emanating such thick despair that Naegi had to stop himself from inhaling deeply.

"O-okay, I killed her! I killed Maizono, alright? B-B-But she tried to kill me first! It was self defense!"

That gave pause to the others, as they looked at each other uncertainly. It was true after all.

Sayaka had asked him to Naegi's room under the guise that her shower door's lock was broken (without his knowledge that there was no lock because it was a boy's room and boy's shower) and she had cornered him with the knife and he had fought back and accidentally stabbed her. She had died after crawling into the bathroom and writing his name on the white walls as Leon fled the scene.

Would it really be fair to hold it against him?

"Okay! Leon is the murderer, so it's time for him to get executed in turn!~" Monokuma practically sang.

"Executed? N-No, it was self defense! It was self defense!" Leon exclaimed, shaking with shock and fear.

"Hey, a murder's a murder," the bear said nonchalantly with a shrug. "Motivation is nice, but not needed."

Leon tried to run. The door was locked of course, and his eyes widened to the size of dinner plates as the chain shot out and dragged him to his gravesite.


Leon's execution was beautiful in its way. The despair in the air came from every person in the room, unused to the executions or even murder itself. But after it had occurred, Naegi stood and provoked a bud of hope to sprout amongst them.

Mukuro watched on from the control room, sighing.

Naegi's heart was so full of both despair and hope and they just clouded and veiled his thoughts with different conflicting plans and feelings.

Mukuro would always follow Naegi's lead - whatever he was doing, he was doing it for his friends.

He loved them all and wanted to protect them.

That was enough for her.


Mondo murdering Chihiro was something that Naegi didn't see coming. Chihiro was just so full of hope...! He almost thought that the smaller boy might have been invulnerable to despair.

It appeared that he was wrong.

Naegi was very pleased with that outcome.


"Yep, yep! Mondo killed Chihiro! And geeze, that cutie-pie was a boooooy? Plot twist!"

Ishimaru started panicking in the stead of his friend, who stood ramrod still, staring at the floor.

"Why would you do it, bro? Why would you do something so terrible! This all has to be a lie! It's a lie!"

Slowly, Mondo shook his head. "The kid was so... strong... he was so much stronger... than me... he shouldn't of died... but I did it. I... killed him."

Ishimaru let out an inhuman howl of grief as the tears fell and fell from his eyes.

Mondo was ripped from his arms, and he screamed, so full of despair. Despair. Despair.

Naegi watered the bud of hope, and let it sprout.


A double murder. Mukuro had never seen Naegi look so pleased.

He skipped around the control room, singing about despair and occasionally switching to hope. She really had no idea what he was planning this time, but she knew that no matter what it was, she would go along with it.

She would go along with him.

Naegi grabbed Mukuro's hands and pulled her up, spinning her in a circle.

She found herself smiling along with his childish antics, and tried to sing along with him.


"Celestiaaaa! Yasuhiroooo! Celestiaaaa! Yasuhiroooo! I don't care what your naaaame is but you killed two students - Yamadaaaaa and Ishimaruuuuu! It's time for your execution!"

Celestia nodded smiled politely and waved slightly to her fellow classmates as she was dragged to her death. Nobody would look at her, or meet her eyes

A murderer is a murderer after all.

The fire was the brightest thing in the room as the hope of the students flickered and dimmed, and Naegi did nothing except pretend to be just as crushed as the rest of them.


Fire definitely suited Celestia, Naegi decided, rewatching her execution tape, Mukuro sitting daintily on the arm of his chair.

She didn't watch the tape with him as he rewound and rewatched the girl burn to death again and again. Her eyes were locked on the boy next to her - alive and still breathing. If these other students were so eager and quick to kill each other, what would stop them from an attempt on Naegi's own life? Fukawa didn't like him... if she decided to kill him, or even to allow Genocider Shou to kill him, who would stop them? Their sick game would be for nothing, and he would be gone.

Without any sort of cause (from Naegi's perspective anyways) she leaned down and kissed him on the top of the head, whispering "I love you."

Naegi's eyes didn't move from the TV screen, his twisted grin not faltering or changing in the slightest.

Mukuro didn't expect any different.


Naegi was growing bored. His game had started the end of the world - mostly true. The world had started to tear itself apart as soon as the first murder happened, and despair started to overcome many.

He hadn't just started the end of the world, no - he had started the greatest world war that had ever been.

What is a war without a soldier to fight it?


Sakura Oogami.

That was who Naegi decided to be his victim.

But with his sniper rifle held in his hands, looking down the scope carefully, Naegi hesitated.

Sakura was his friend. He couldn't kill her!

You fool, you allowed your other friends kill each other. This isn't different.

But... Sakura was his friend. Killing her was unthinkable!

She is your friend. That's exactly why you have to do it. Save her. Save her from herself. Save her from her hope. It would be a worse thing to let her live with it. You are being merciful. You are being a good friend. Fire the trigger.


Naegi pretended to be the one to find the body, screaming as loudly as he could.

The others came instantly, and as soon as Aoi saw that it was Sakura, she screamed as loud as she could and fell, sobbing, onto the ground.

Naegi looked at her with disinterest. Her despair was wonderful, fragrant almost, but it wasn't enough.

It wasn't enough.

It was time to end this game.


"Yep, yeppp! Kirigiri killed Sakura! Kirigiri killed Sakura! Exe-" Monokuma paused mid-sentence.

Naegi held his communicator in his left hand, waiting politely.

"...are you sure?" the bear seemed uncertain of himself, and everyone looked around, confused.

After typing a short message when nobody was looking, Naegi slipped the small device into his pocket.

"Okay..." Monokuma said, and then went silent.

The room stood in stiff, tense silence as the large doors were pushed open by a small girl with short black hair.

She strode forward and picked Monokuma up, sitting in his throne and placing the bear on her lap.

"My name... is Mukuro Ikusaba. I am the mastermind."

The room exploded.

"IT'S THE MASTERMIND!" Hagakure screeched.

"We have noticed that!" Togami snapped, sounding irritated, but looking shocked, his eyes never leaving Mukuro's form.

"She... she... she killed Sakura! She killed Sakura!" exploded Aoi, tears glistening in her eyes.

"N-No, you idiot..." Fukawa ground out. "K-Kirigiri did th-that..."

"...no, I did not. I did not murder Sakura."

"Th-That's not what Monoku-uma said...!"

Aoi pointed at Mukuro, viciously biting out "That is Monokuma! Monokuma killed her! Monokuma killed her! That girl killed her!"

While the room exploded with activity, Naegi looked over at Mukuro, who was looking her sister in the eyes.

Whether Junko saw her own eyes in her sister's was unknown. Her mouth was in a straight line and Mukuro's opened hopefully.

"Sis..."

Junko's eyes remained cold and unfazed.

She truly did not remember her sister.

Mukuro saw this and tried to mask the hurt she must've been feeling. Her despair. It was palpable. It was wonderful.

It didn't last long.

Junko's mouth opened slowly and she whispered "Murderer."

The knife caught Mukuro right where it intended to - in the center of her throat.

Mukuro's mouth opened and closed uselessly as she tried to whisper her sister's name. Soon enough, she was an immobile form, drowning in her own blood. She slid from her throne and onto the floor, the aura of despair still hovering in a mist around her body.


Naegi said nothing. His eyes were locked firmly on Mukuro's corpse, blood still dripping from the hole in her neck.

He slowly moved to her side, kneeling and touching her face. Her eyelids fluttered weakly, alerting him that she was still alive - if just barely. Her lips twitched as she tried to open her mouth.

"Naegi..." she breathed.

"Mukuro..." he said with a smile. "You've done well. You've done so well."

Naegi leaned down and pressed his forehead against her's, meeting her eyes and at the same time ripping the knife from her throat. A dribble of blood leaked from her mouth, which tried to smile as finally she died.

"You've earned your death," he whispered sweetly. "I've saved you finally."

The room was completely silent as Naegi stood, facing his classmates.

"I," he started, smiling, "am the mastermind."

"N-Naegi...!" Aoi said, astonished.

"Naegs... why?" Hagakure exclaimed, tears forming in his own eyes.

Kirigiri stared, straightfaced.

Junko stared, slackjawed and openmouthed.

"Why?" Togami asked after a beat of silence. "Why did you do... this? All of this?"

Naegi smiled. "I did it to save you. Because I love you all, and I had to protect you."

"From what?

"From your hope. From your despair. From yourselves." Naegi's eyes went cold. "And there's been enough talk. It's time for your executions."


Naegi met each of his friends' eyes before they died, granting their memories back to them just before the moment of death. He saw their despair twinkle in their eyes before they stopped seeing, stopped breathing, stopped living.

They were all so beautiful when they remembered.

Togami's eyes widened.

Hagakure screamed.

Aoi cried and sobbed like a child.

Junko threw up.

Fukawa blinked sleepily and fainted again.

Kirigiri stared at him, her mouth slightly agape.

They were all his friends, and they were all so full of despair.

And he had saved them.


Naegi sat atop the pile of his friends' corpses - a throne fit for him.

He smiled widely as the tears ran down his face, holding the body of Mukuro close to him.

"My friends~ My friends~ My friends are safe and sound now! Do you think that I did a good job of protecting them, Mukuro?"

Mukuro did not answer.

"Mukuuuuuro~ Are you feeling safe? Have I protected you from your hope? Have I protected you from your despair?"

Mukuro again did not answer.

Naegi smiled and leaned close to Mukuro's blood stained face.

"Guess what...? ...I love you too."

Mukuro again did not answer, even as Naegi's tears dropped onto her pale skin.

"I love youuuu! Ahaha! I love you, I love you! I love you Mukuro! I loooooove you! Ahaha! AHAHAHA!"

Mukuro was silent through it all, even as Naegi took the knife that ended her life, and proceeded to end his own in turn.

And all was silent and all was safe.

AN:

Well I've always liked the idea of Naegi being the MasterMind and I love Mukuro - she doesn't get enough love. So I made Naegi a soldier and Mukuro his accomplice, and what's a story without light tasteful and unpopular shipping?