[Chapter 1 - 022]

I woke up earlier than expected on that fateful day. I tried to move, but my limbs felt so heavy… Was the lack of food already taking its toll?

No, that wasn’t it. I hadn’t quite woken up enough to process anything visually, but it felt for all the world like something was… crushing me. Something warm, squishy, that smelled like sweat and dorito dust…

Oh god.

To his horror, Tim wakes up to Ishi in his bed.
Ishi…?! Ishi!! I can’t breathe with your freaking boob in my face!!!
Ishi yawns.
Ow… man, only you would complain about that.

A half-awake Ishi shoved herself upright and put her sling back on as I gasped for air.

Tim screams.
What are you even doing here?!
Ishi blinks.
The door was open.
Tim blinks.
Tim starts yelling again.
Wait that doesn’t explain anything!!!
Ishi yells too.
Look, I couldn’t fuckin' sleep, okay?! I can’t ever get any sleep in that goddam room! It’s so fuckin' noisy!
Tim looks confused.
Ishi frowns.
And… well… I was scared. Didn’t wanna be in my room alone.
Tim smiles gently.
Ah… that’s okay, I get it. Just, uh, tell me first next time? And why were you…
Ishi grumbles.
Jeez dude, I just rolled over in my sleep! I’m not going around shoving my boobs in people’s faces on purpose, unless they’re like, into it–
Tim grumbles.
Yeah thanks, I appreciate the consideration there–
Ding dong bing bong! And here I thought I'd get to sleep in today.
The morning announcement.
Good morning, scrubs! It’s 0700 on the dot, which means it’s now officially daytime! The kitchen and laundry room will unlock shortly. Have a miserable day!
Tim frowns.
Why don’t you, uh… go change, and I’ll see you in the cafeteria?

Ishi grumbled in vague assent and staggered out into the hallway. I pulled on another red turtleneck (why were there so many of those in my closet) and fixed my hair in the mirror.

If everything went according to plan, we would all meet in the cafeteria for one last search of the station. There wasn’t much more “plan” than that, but… with all of our minds working together, surely we could find a way to escape. Or something we could do, before anyone else gets hurt…

But nothing works out that nicely in real life, does it?

I had just left my room when a shriek, strained and terrified, shattered the early morning quiet.


I ran for the door to Sector 1 as fast as my spindly legs could carry me. Ishi barreled past me into the cafeteria, with her lime green lipstick still in hand. The place was empty, except for Vasundhara, who stood trembling in front of… the laundry room?

Tim yelps.
Vash?! Are you okay–
Vash sobs.
D-don’t go in don’t go in–

Ishi, of course, tried to go in. Whatever she saw past that doorway made her absolutely lose her shit.

Ishi screams.
What the fuck? What the fuck?! Let me in there I have to–
Vash screams at Ishi.
NO! It’s too dangerous! You have to stay outside! P-please…!

Vasundhara shoved her back with an unexpected ferocity, guarding the doorway like a linebacker.

Tim looks terrified.
What’s going on?!
Vash sobs.
I-it’s horrible!! She… th-they…

But she couldn’t get any more words out between her hyperventilating breaths. Instead, she slowly, hesitantly stepped to the side, still ready to spring into action if Ishi tried to push past her.

We looked inside the laundry room…

Gugalanna and Ping lie dead on the laundry room floor. The lights are off, but electricity arcs dramatically from Ping's ruined chassis.

As the others crowded around the door, Ishi tried to force her way inside again. Out of options, Vasundhara finally resorted to pulling her into a mighty headlock.

Ishi sputters as Vash nearly lifts her off the ground.
She might still be alive! Fuckin' let me go already!!
Vash looks miserable.
STOP IT!! Y-you’re gonna get yourself ki–

DING DONG BING BONG! That dreaded alarm silenced them both. The only sound in the laundry room was the crackle of electricity as MONO-9000’s grating voice rang out from the speakers.

MONO-9000's body discovery announcement.
Surprise, surprise! A body has been discovered! Following a short period of investigation, we will begin our very first Class Trial! Be sure to check your Electro IDs for some basic information to get you started!~

The finality of those words stole the fire out of Ishi’s eyes. She slumped out of Vasundhara’s grip.

Ishi sighs.
…This is… fuckin' bullshit…

I nodded weakly. There wasn’t any other way to put it.

The rest of the students charged in behind us, replacing the echoes of MONO-9000’s blaring announcement with panicked whispers and screams.

Michi looks terrifed.
…What the fuck?
Sal freezes.
Sieg frowns.
I knew something like this would happen…
Nik panics.
Oh no oh no oh nonononono–
Riko looks furious.
Who’s responsible for this?!
Tiffani grimaces.
It hasn’t even been a day! Jesus!
Yusra freezes.

Yusra looked as if she was about to say something, but her mouth clamped shut. Instead, she pulled out her Electro ID and tapped at it furiously.

Right… MONO said something about that, didn’t it? I pulled mine out and found a new icon at the bottom of the screen…

Evidence List Updated!

MONOFile #1
  • VICTIM: Gisela “Gugalanna” Velasquez
  • CAUSE OF DEATH: Electrical shock
  • TIME OF DEATH: 11:01pm
  • BODY DISCOVERERS: Vasundhara, Ishi, Timaeus

Guga… really was dead, wasn’t she? I’d known it as soon as I looked in the room, but seeing it in those glowing red letters left no room for wishful thinking. Guga and Ping lay dead in front of me and I couldn’t…

Wait a minute… I started to speak, but Aoi beat me to the punch.

Aoi yelps.
Hey, why isn’t there a file for Ping? What’s going on?
MONO-9000 looks confused.
Because… she isn’t dead yet? Duh!

We whirled around to find MONO-9000 floating behind us.

Honoka gasps.
Wh-what?! But she’s–
Ishi's big mad.
You better not be fucking with us or I’ll tear those shitty noodle arms off your–
Vash puts Ishi in a headlock again.
Hey! Put me down!!
MONO-9000 sparkles.
Isn’t it obvious? See how her head’s completely intact? Whoever tried to kill her sure did a shitty job of it!
Jurou yells.
W-wait so, y’can fix ‘er, right?! That’s what yer sayin’? Y’can’t just leave ‘er there!!
Sal frowns.
And we can’t exactly investigate if we can’t get closer to the body without electrocuting ourselves…
MONO-9000 thinks.
Hmmmmm… Decisions, decisions…