Prompt: The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails. – William Arthur Ward
Word Count: 996
Disclaimer: I do not, in any way, profit from the story and all creative rights to the characters belong to their original creator(s).
Summary: They had no way of knowing that the Remnants of Despair had another trick up their sleeve.
Of Island Winds
The room was dead silent as the trio stared at the screen. They couldn’t believe it – it was impossible.
“How…?” Naegi whispered, verging on a whimper as he watched the camera feed. Fifteen ‘players’ and two AIs were gathered in their virtual reality world, all watching as a black and white bear AI declared their sudden imprisonment. To the trio watching the scene, it created a strong sense of nostalgia.
Except it didn’t bring back fond memories but of the nightmare they had experienced inside what had once been a modern temple of hope. Of watching their once shining friends turn to madness and despair, greed and hate, desperation and impulse. Of staring at the face of a mortal devil as she was brutally executed at her own hands. Of being forced out into the apocalypse, reborn with the deaths of their friends on their shoulders.
Of where it had all started with a simple-enough assembly, not unlike what they were watching now.
Togami’s lip curled as his eyes burned into the pixelated bear, his eyes brimming with utter loathing and hatred. “I thought it was over. Why is that thing there?” he snipped, barely controlling his rage at the mere sight of it.
“It… it’s gotta be a glitch! Something left over from Alter Ego’s database!” Naegi rushed forward to one of the smaller monitors. His fingers had barely touched the keyboard when the fervent face of a long-gone friend popped up. “Ego, what’s going on? Why is Monokuma in the Neo World Program?”
Alter Ego ‘shook’ their head and began to babble in their electronic voice, digital eyes wide and panicked. “There’s a virus! It’s locked me out of the system and it’s keeping me from getting and deleting Monokuma! It’s already began implementing rule codes!”
“Alter Ego,” without even a notable tap of her heel, Kirigiri had ghosted over and now leant in front of the screen, hand resting on the base of the microphone, “where has this come from? Where did this virus start? Was it left over data?”
An error-noise screamed out of the speaker as Alter Ego continued their attempt at trying to break through. They turned fearful doll eyes onto the woman, the Ultimate Detective not even flinching. “It’s external. Someone uploaded it from the outside.” They chirped hurriedly, their voice glitching at the continued assault on the simulation.
Kirigiri nodded briefly and spoke softly into the mic again. “Can you break through it?”
The AI fixed its eyes on where it assumed she was standing, brimming with determination and fear, not unlike how their creator often would. “it’s an AI based virus that’s just as advanced as I am. It’ll take me a while, but I can do it.” They paused and some of their gumption seemed to slip away. “But I will have to focus all my faculties onto breaking through, meaning I won’t be able to answer any questions in the meantime.”
“Do as you must.”
Alter Ego bobbed their head and the screen dissolved into a dizzying sprawl of code as they began to try and break through the sudden wall. Kirigiri stood up straight and cast a violet eye at the screen. Naegi watched at her calm display of control, having not seen this level of control since their own time in the killing academy. “Kirigiri?”
“It came from outside.”
Naegi swivelled his head to stare as Togami’s shoulders hunched and his grimace turned into a full on animalistic bearing of teeth. Angry was a term commonly used to describe Togami’s demeanour, but pure and utter anger was the most fitting phrase for his current mood. Ice blue eyes shifted to bore into the pair. “It came from outside.”
“Togami-!” Naegi reached out a hand, perhaps to comfort or to quell, he had no idea. His hand was sharply whacked away and the ex-heir rose to his full, impressive height. He glowered down at the small brunette and snarled. “It came from the outside! And we sure know that none of us had such a thing like a Monokuma AI.”
Naegi had to gather as much of his inner courage to not quake underneath the blonde’s overpowering intimidation. “Togami, please! We never expected it to go perfectly!”
“Naegi, I don’t quite think you understand what’s happening.” Even though his inheritance and title were destroyed with his family, one could never forget Togami’s upbringing. “We have risked our lives to transport a group of Ultimates who are not only broken, sick-minded, despair-ridden parasites, they are the very group that made it possible for Junko to do as she pleased. As soon as we return to future foundations, we’ll be put on trial with the risk of capital punishment all for the sake of your whim. And now look. A virus that resembles Monokuma has appeared and we are stuck on this island for who knows how long.”
Naegi backed away, feeling himself begin to quake. Damn, was Togami imposing. “Togami, these people can be helped, we just have to have faith and it’ll be ok-!”
“Togami, if you walk out of here, so help me, I will make Junko’s threats look like a weak poker bluff.”
The slicing voice of Kirigiri cut through the air and she stared stoically at Togami, her eyes leaving no room for negotiation. “We are going to help Naegi rehabilitate the Remnants of Despair – we haven’t lost yet. So don’t you dare walk out that door. We can make it through, for our own sakes,” her arm raised to sweep to the observation window where fifteen bodies lay in green glowing gel, hooked into the megacomputer, “and theirs.”
Togami huffed and reluctantly took a seat, glaring at Kirigiri, albeit significantly more softly. “So we wait for Alter Ego to break through? And then what? Get in and do a forced shut down? What do we do while we’re here?”
“We wait for the winds to change… so to speak.”
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