• Published 24th Oct 2020
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Danganronpa: In Harmony's Wake - Dewdrops on the Grass



Trapped on a cruise ship with fifteen others, all with lost memories, Sunset Shimmer struggles to survive a killing game orchestrated by a mysterious being only known as Monoponi. Post Season Nine FIM. Now complete!

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Chapter Two: What Lurks In The Depths Part 6

Chapter Two:

What Lurks in the Depths

Trial Part One

Fact #1: Monoponi File II: “The victim is Apple Bloom, the Ultimate Builder. Time of death is 7:45 PM. Cause of death was blood loss due to a massive stab wound through the torso.”

Fact #2: Qilin Spear: “A polearm with a thin serrated tip and twin-spiked crossguard, obtained from the game corner prize counter. The spear impaled Apple Bloom from underneath, popping up out of the stage.”

Fact #3: Accidental Victim: “Apple Bloom was not the culprit’s intended target. The intended target was Sunset Shimmer.”

Fact #4: Bag of Tools: “A heavy sackcloth bag, filled with a selection of random tools. The bag was tied around its top with a length of chain many feet long, ending in half of a quick release clamp. The chain was spray-painted black. The tools came from toolkits in the prop shop inventory.”

Fact #5: Black metal Chain: “A chain hanging from high up on stage light rafters. It was spray painted black, and ended in half of a quick release clamp. The chain came from the prop shop inventory.”

Fact #6: Rolling Step Ladder: “There was a rolling step ladder inside the prop shop. It had been moved from its original position.”

Fact #7: Missing Drill: “According to Apple Bloom, a drill was missing the morning of the show. It was discovered taped upside down to the beam supporting the stage lights, set to its lowest setting and with its trigger taped down. The power supply was jury-rigged into the nearest light.”

Fact #8: Rope: “A rope tied to the stage light support beam. It had been chewed through by the bit of the drill, splitting it apart. Many pieces fell to the stage below and were discovered near the body.”

Fact #9: Prize Counter Receipts: “Tickets scanned:
Sun1621DT x 10: DS1a Purchased
Sun1623DT x 10: DS1b Purchased
Sun1625DT x 10: DS1c Purchased
Sun2240AB x 10: QS1a Purchased”

Fact #10: Library Logbook:
“19th Century Prench Chemists: Twilight Sparkle X/X
Chemical Formulas 301: Twilight Sparkle X/O
Expert Calculus and Derivatives: Twilight Sparkle X/O
Shadow Spade: To Catch A Butterfly: Rarity Belle X/O
Sakaguchi Chise: Crusader Queen #1: Sweetie Belle X/X
Sakaguchi Chise: Crusader Queen #2: Sweetie Belle X/X
Strategies for Anger Management: Adagio Dazzle X/O
The Lesbian Kama Sutra: Adagio Dazzle X/O
The Art of Magic: Trixie Lulamoon X/O
Daring Do and the Cornerstone of Light: Rainbow Dash X/O
Love Doth Ran Smooth: Fluttershy X/O
Sakaguchi Chise: Crusader Queen #3: Sweetie Belle X/O
The Burning of the Stars: Apple Bloom X/O
Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering: Apple Bloom X/O
Springs and Pulleys: Apple Bloom X/O”

Fact #11: Monopad Map Glitch: “At approximately 10:30 PM the Monopad map experienced a glitch, erasing all icons. This glitch lasted for one and a half hours, ending at 1:00 AM.”

Fact #12: Movements Tracked: “At 10:30 PM, just before the map glitched, the following people were outside of their cabins:
Twilight Sparkle, Apple Bloom -- Library
Rainbow Dash, Scootaloo -- Bridge Deck
Adagio Dazzle -- Theater
Diamond Tiara -- Game Corner
At 1:00 AM, all fourteen passengers were in their cabins.”

Fact #13: Spring Loaded Trap: “A trap fashioned from a spring, lever, and wooden guides under the stage. The spring was discovered unwound, the lever pulled towards the backstage wall by the black metal chain.”

As we filed off the elevator, I took in the courtroom. As I’d expected, Monoponi had changed up the decor. Where before it featured lots of flowers and flowering plants, there were now scattered pictures of apples mixed with various tools, like some kind of bizarre tool-themed wallpaper. The lighting was different too, harsher, even more fluorescent than before. The changes resulted in many people muttering to themselves as we moved to take our podiums.

As I took my spot between Fluttershy and Trixie and plugged in my Monopad, I noticed two new portraits standing in place of the people who once occupied those podiums.

Timber… our first culprit. Monoponi’d chosen a particularly unflattering image for his portrait, probably as a last insult. Like Wallflower, I noticed a version of what in Equestria I’d call his cutie mark slapped on in addition to the cross, in the same blood pink color.

Apple Bloom, though… Unlike Wallflower and Timber, she was smiling. Happy, even, in her portrait. Just like she was in life. A happy soul, cut down in the process of saving me. I noticed Applejack’s eyes fall upon her sister’s portrait and briefly mist up with fresh tears before she wiped her face to get rid of them and resumed her stoic expression of determination.

Monoponi appeared in a flash of crimson light, already seated upon his throne. “Well, well, look at you all! Already plugged in and ready to go. I’ll bet you don’t even need me to go over the basics of the trial again, do you?”

“We know how this works, Monoponi,” I declared, subtly flipping him the bird from underneath my podium. “Shut up and let us get to it.”

Taking a bow, the false alicorn flashed us an amused grin. “Very well then. Take it away!”

“Alright, who did it?” Applejack blurted. She glared at each of us in turn. “Just fess up already. Ah don’t want to drag this out.”

No one answered her. Just like last time, the culprit intended for us to work to determine their guilt. And unlike last time, there was no easy, obvious list of suspects to work from.

“Where do we even start with this one?” Rarity asked after a long silence. “Weren’t we all in the theater?”

“We were,” Twilight confirmed, a sad expression on her face. “Everyone was either in the audience, on stage, or in Flash’s case, the light booth.”

“Then it was Flash!” Scootaloo insisted, pointing an accusatory finger his way. “It had to have been!”

Flash crossed his arms and scowled darkly at Scootaloo. “I didn’t. Do. A thing. I told you that during the investigation.”

Twilight added, in a frustrated tone, “And didn’t we point out at the beginning of last trial that we shouldn’t be accusing people before we even have the facts of the case worked out?”

“Well, yeah, but… but!” Scootaloo threw out one arm in disgust, her face twisting up in a pout. “Dang it. You’re right. Sorry.”

“So here’s my suggestion, then,” Flash said, uncrossing his arms. “We should figure out how she died first.”

“Uh, it was the big spear through her chest, duh?” Tiara sneered, shaking her head at Flash in disbelief. “This isn’t like Wallflower! It’s not exactly hard to figure out.”

Flash rolled his eyes. “That’s not what I meant. We know it was the spear. Even the Monoponi file tells us that much. But where did it come from? How did the culprit use it?”

“Well it’s not like someone just ran up and went bam and stabbed her with it,” Rainbow Dash responded, irritation etched across her features. “I think we would’ve noticed that.”

“Perhaps we should go over exactly what happened,” Rarity suggested, holding up a solitary finger. “Trixie, darling, you were just finishing up with your finale.”

Trixie blinked, rubbed at her head wound, then nodded. “Yes. Trixie had just successfully demonstrated the elegance of the origami illusion, and brought Sunset out onto the marker Trixie had set on the floor.”

“There were markers on the stage?” Sweetie asked, cocking her head. “I don’t remember seeing any.”

“They were made of duct tape,” I clarified. “They wouldn’t have been visible from the audience. Trixie laid them out as guides for me. She mentioned that at dinner last night, even.”

“Oh yeah!” Sweetie blushed, a sheepish smile summoned to her face. “I forgot about that.”

Trixie held up a hand to her mouth and cleared her throat. “Ahem. As Trixie was saying, now that her trick was complete, Sunset and Trixie took a bow. Naturally the audience was thrilled with Trixie’s success, so she and Sunset took another one. Then…” Trixie trailed off, squeezing her eyes shut in pain. “Trixie doesn’t recall what happened next.”

“I’ve got it from here, Trixie,” I said, patting a sympathetic hand on her shoulder. “So I remember several things happening next, all at once. I know I heard Apple Bloom mutter something from off stage. And then there was the sound of something snapping. Then Apple Bloom ran right at us, screaming ‘Look out!’ and knocked us out of the way. I think I heard something else fall at the same time, too. And then…”

“And then the spear went whoosh, bam, boom!” Pinkie interrupted, gesticulating wildly. “And Apple Bloom went augh! Blargh! ....blech.” Despite the sound effects she was making, Pinkie was all frowns and unhappy faces. Her eyes filled with tears as she finished using hand motions to illustrate Apple Bloom’s death. “Oh it was so saaaaad…”

“More specifically,” Adagio added, glaring in exasperation at Pinkie’s antics. And she wasn’t the only one. Applejack was squeezing her hands together like she was trying to pop Pinkie’s head right off her neck, and was only hesitating because she’d have to reach past Scootaloo to get to her. “It popped up out of the stage, from directly underneath the center of the largest stage mark.”

“So it was a trap,” Fluttershy murmured, horror reflecting in her eyes. “How awful!”

“Can we prove that?” Twilight asked as she looked down at her Monopad, scrolling through the collected evidence.

“We can,” I answered.

Fact #13: Spring Loaded Trap: “A trap fashioned from a spring, lever, and wooden guides under the stage. The spring was discovered unwound, the lever pulled towards the backstage wall by the black metal chain.”

“Adagio, Applejack, and I found this under the stage, exactly dead center underneath the largest mark.”

“Then, the culprit wasn’t trying to kill Apple Bloom?” Rainbow Dash inquired, eyebrows raised. “But that means they were trying to kill…”

Fact #3: Accidental Victim: “Apple Bloom was not the culprit’s intended target. The intended target was Sunset Shimmer.”

“Me,” I finished for her, shivering all over. “They were trying to kill me.”

“Oh my heavens!” Rarity squealed at the top of her lungs. Her ankles buckled, then gave out as she swooned backwards, right into the arms of a confused, blinking Trixie. “Whyever would someone want to kill Sunset?”

“Yeah, I don’t get it,” Rainbow Dash added with a frown, one hand held to her chin. “I mean, sure, we were all a bit suspicious of her at first, but Sunset’s been nothing but good since then!”

“We don’t know why yet,” I said with a heavy sigh. “But we can be pretty sure we’re right.”

Diamond Tiara slammed her palms to her podium. “Oh come on! That’s a complete load of crap and you know it!”

“Excuse me?!” I retorted, rage filling me once again. “You’d better not be about to--”

Tiara interrupted me again, throwing out an accusatory finger squarely at me. “You can’t prove that at all! If anything, I’ll bet you set the trap and now you’re trying to pretend you were the intended victim just so we’d all overlook you!”

My whole body shook with fury, every aspect of my being clamoring to leap over the boundary between us and throttle that goddamned stupid moron. The only thing keeping me at my podium was the ever-watchful gaze of Monoponi. “You… you can’t be serious,” I stammered through gritted teeth, my fists squeezed at my sides. “You’re not actually doing this, are you?”

“Of course I am!” Tiara replied, hands moving to her hips as a smug smirk spread across her face. “Like I told you in the investigation, you said you didn’t want to be a leader, but as soon as someone dies, you start ordering everyone around. And when I came to confront you, you hit me!” She jutted out her split lip so everyone could see it. “See? Why would you do that if you were innocent?”

“Maybe, you idiot,” Adagio growled, baring her teeth, “she was scared because she almost died, and you provoked her!”

“Yeah, I dunno, Tiara, I think it’s pretty obvious Sunset was the intended victim here,” Flash added with a concerned frown. “I mean, we all saw how Sunset acted afterwards, right?”

“Yeah, she was screaming on stage!” Pinkie said, gasping dramatically as she raised her fists to the sky. “She was all super mad at first, and then she started crying!”

“It was kind of unnerving,” Scootaloo said with a nod. “I mean, I was mad too, but jeez.”

Tiara rolled her eyes and scoffed. “Oh please. She could’ve been acting!”

“You think I was acting?!” I roared. I held up one fist and shook it at her violently. “Why don’t you come over here and find out just how much I was ‘acting’!”

“And now she’s threatening me. That’s totally not the act of a suspicious person, oh nooooo,” Tiara mocked. She held up one hand to her mouth and laughed like an anime villain, “Ohohoho! Idiot.”

That was it. I started climbing over the podium, Monoponi be damned, only to have a crimson aura of light grip me by the throat, making me freeze in place. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Monoponi said in a dangerous tone. “If you leave your podium before voting, that counts as absence from the trial!” His muzzle split with a vicious grin. “So please. Go ahead. Make me execute you. I promise, I’d enjoy it! Ahahahaha!”

He released his grip, and I slipped back, gasping for air, my hands going to my throat and massaging it. Out the corner of my eye I noticed Rarity pop up out of Trixie’s arms immediately, her eyes bugging out with terror.

After taking several delicious lungfuls of sweet, sweet air, and really wishing that wasn’t Monoponi’s go-to threat--Seriously, can I please be allowed to breathe normally for just one freaking day?!--I, more calmly and with more patience than I truly felt, said, “Okay, Tiara. You’re suggesting that I set this trap. How, precisely, did I do that?”

Tiara’s face went completely blank. “Ah, well, you… that is, you…I don’t know!”

“Then we’re going to dismiss your claim for now,” I replied, a smirk of my own spreading on my face. “If you can prove something later we’ll get back to it. For now, maybe you should stop wasting our time?”

Tiara, scowling darker than I’d ever seen her before, raised both her hands and flipped me a double-bird. “Screw you, Shimmer,” she spat. Then she dropped her hands to her sides, and mumbled something to herself under her breath.

“Okay, so, does anyone else doubt that I was the culprit’s target?” I asked, searching around the room at everyone’s faces. “Anyone? Anyone? No? Okay then. Let’s move on.”

“I don’t doubt you were the target,” Fluttershy replied, her voice quavering. “But, um, I don’t understand why.”

“It probably has something to do with the motive, Shy,” Rainbow Dash said. “Maybe we should come back to that.”

“Yeah. Right now I’m more concerned with how this trap worked,” I agreed.

“Hmm, I think I might have an idea.” Twilight scrolled through the evidence. “You said there was a lever next to the trap, right?”

“There was,” Adagio answered for me. “It was hooked into the spring.”

“And the lever had a chain on it… hmmm…” Twilight scratched the back of her head several times.

“Wait, I’ve got it,” I said.

Fact #4: Bag of Tools: “A heavy sackcloth bag, filled with a selection of random tools. The bag was tied around its top with a length of chain many feet long, ending in half of a quick release clamp. The chain was spray-painted black. The tools came from toolkits in the prop shop inventory.”

“We heard something falling right? It was definitely this. And look, it had a quick release on it. So what if that pulled the chain, which triggered the lever?”

“Woah, woah, woah, hold it right there, Sunset!” Rainbow Dash interrupted, throwing out her finger at me.

My eyebrows arched up to the top of my head. “Huh? What? What’s wrong with it?”

“That bag fell onto the stage, right?” Rainbow pointed out, holding up her hand. “But we didn’t see it fall near the trap. That means it fell from behind you.”

“Okay? So?” I held up my own hands in confusion. “What’s the problem? It could still have pulled the chain.”

“No way!” Rainbow Dash shot back, sweeping one arm out in front of her. “In order for the bag to pull anything, it’d have to have a chain extending down to the lever, right? But we would’ve seen that! Hell, someone would’ve tripped on it on the stage! So how could it pull anything?”

“Because it was tied to a longer chain that ran along the wall, that’s how,” I answered. “I can even prove it!”


Fact #5: Black metal Chain: “A chain hanging from high up on stage light rafters. It was spray painted black, and ended in half of a quick release clamp. The chain came from the prop shop inventory.”

“See, we found this chain up in the rafters. It was spray-painted black so it wouldn’t catch the light, but I followed it the whole way. It went along to the far stage wall, down the whole wall and through a hole underneath, then extended to the lever. And it has the other half of the quick release. This is pretty obvious.”

Rainbow Dash grunted, grimacing as if someone had just kicked her in the stomach. “Fine, fine, okay. I’ll admit that. So the bag could’ve pulled the chain. Maybe. But that still didn’t mean it set off the trap! The bag could’ve fallen at any time!”

“No, it couldn’t have,” I said, cuing up another bit of evidence.

Fact #8: Rope: “A rope tied to the stage light support beam. It had been chewed through by the bit of the drill, splitting it apart. Many pieces fell to the stage below and were discovered near the body.”

“The bag was tied with this rope,” I pointed out, “which kept it held in place until the rope was destroyed by a power drill they’d rigged to the support beam. This was specifically set up to go off at just the right time, right at the climax of the show, when I’d be in the perfect position.”

Letting out a loud groan of frustration, Rainbow Dash slapped a hand to her face. “No, that doesn’t make sense Sunset. How’d they set off the drill at the right time? I don’t see how that’s possible. Did you find a clock up there or something?”

Grimacing, I gestured with my hand and said, “Well, no, but--”

“Well there you go then!” Rainbow Dash replied with a smirk. “They had to set the drill on a timer, right? Without a timer, there’s no way to make sure it’d go off when the culprit needed it to. So unless you can prove the culprit timed it for the trap, your explanation just doesn’t make sense!”

I’ll rip your argument to pieces!” I declared, calling up my final piece of evidence.

Fact #7: Missing Drill: “According to Apple Bloom, a drill was missing the morning of the show. It was discovered taped upside down to the beam supporting the stage lights, set to its lowest setting and with its trigger taped down. The power supply was jury-rigged into the nearest light.”

“See, Adagio and I didn’t just discover the drill rigged up to an outlet. The power was spliced into the stage lights. Those same stage lights were never used except during the show itself. So the culprit, knowing this, used the stage lights themselves as the timer! We tested this during the investigation. As soon as Flash turned the stage lights back on, the drill switched on. When they were off, the drill was off. The only risk to this plan is if someone used the stage lights before the show, but there was never a reason for anyone to do that.”

Slack-jawed, the wind torn from her sails, Rainbow Dash fell over on her podium. “Aww man, I was wrong…”

“Wait, Trixie is confused,” Trixie objected, raising her hand. “She believes your explanation, but she doesn’t understand how they used the rope to time it.”

“It was the thickness of the rope,” I responded with a smile. “See, they set the drill on its lowest setting on purpose. They probably experimented with the rope to see how quickly the drill chewed through it, then tied enough rope to last the whole length of the show. Trixie, you even told everyone how long it would be at dinner last night, remember?”

“Oh.” Trixie’s face turned whiter than a sheet. “Oh no! Trixie did! This is Trixie’s fault!” She grabbed both sides of her head and pulled at her hair. “Please forgive Trixie!!”

“Hey, hey, it’s okay, Trixie,” I responded immediately, reaching out to set a comforting hand on her shoulder. “It’s not your fault at all. It’s the fault of the culprit. They’re the ones who used your show to kill someone. Not you.”

“I… wait.” Flash blinked once, twice, thrice. His face slowly turned green, then paled, then he started screaming at the top of his lungs. “They used the lights? But, I turned on the lights. Does... DOES THAT MEAN I DID IT?! Did I kill Apple Bloom?!”

Silence reigned throughout the courtroom. None of us spoke up. Simultaneous looks of terror appeared on every single one of our faces. It was a horrifying thought. Even if Flash wasn’t the one who set up the trap, would Monoponi rule that he was the blackened, because he triggered it? Would we have to watch an otherwise innocent man die just because of some stupid rules lawyering?

Finally, because no one else seemed to be able to summon up the courage, I spoke up, looking right at Monoponi. “Monoponi, would you consider Flash to be the blackened, because he triggered the timer?”

“Hmmm…” Monoponi held up a hoof to his chin. “Hmm… what to do, what to do… it would be hilarious to watch Twilight crying over Flash…buuuut...no.” Monoponi cleared his throat, then struck his Celestia-aping pose. “I will say this! Triggering the drill does not make Flash the blackened! The true blackened is the one who set up the trap with intent to kill! The trap is what killed Apple Bloom, not the timer. Therefore, Flash is innocent… for now.” He settled back onto his throne, grinning menacingly. “After all, if he set the trap, then he’s still the blackened. But the drill alone won’t do it.”

Flash heaved, taking super deep breaths one at a time, nearly hyperventilating in the process. “Thank god!” he shouted, a few tears coming to his eyes as his fear dissipated into sweet relief. “Thank god! I didn’t… I wouldn’t… god…”

I wanted to reach out to comfort him, but he was just too far away. So instead I just gave him a sympathetic smile. I understood what he was feeling, staring into the face of death. That sudden rush of fear, as your blood chills, your heart pounds like a jackhammer, your whole body going numb… I can try to use words to describe it, but unless you’ve felt it, you just wouldn’t get it. Not really.

I don’t know if he understood, but when he caught sight of my face, he did seem to relax, just a hair. Just a little bit. Enough that he was able to control his breathing again. Enough that he managed to stand, and maintain a sense of calm.

“Okay, so I guess we know how the trap worked now,” Sweetie Belle said, after giving Flash a few moments. “But who made it? And how?”

“Well, the culprit used a spear, did they not?” Rarity replied, half staring at the ceiling as she rubbed her chin. “So where did they get it?”

“They didn’t make their own, did they?” Pinkie suggested, with just a hint of hopefulness in her voice.

“No, dumbass,” Tiara retorted, puncturing what little cheer Pinkie had managed to summon. “They bought it from the game corner. Obviously!”

“Sorry, Pinkie, but Tiara’s right,” I added.

Fact #2: Qilin Spear: “A polearm with a thin serrated tip and twin-spiked crossguard, obtained from the game corner prize counter. The spear impaled Apple Bloom from underneath, popping up out of the stage.”

“Applejack and I confirmed that during the investigation. We think we know who bought it, too.”

“Wait, if you knew that, why didn’t you just tell us?!” Scootaloo shouted, throwing up one hand in irritation. “This is just like the nylon all over again! If you have the one clue that tells us who the killer is, why not just bring it up from the start?”

Applejack ground her teeth together as she replied, “Sugarcube, it ain’t that simple. Cause Ah ain’t sure how much I buy what we found.”

“Wait, what do you mean?” Twilight inquired, adjusting her glasses so she could peer directly at Applejack. “The registers don’t lie. We proved that conclusively in the last trial.”

“Did we?” Rainbow Dash wondered, scratching her head. “I dunno, last time the registers led everyone to accuse me of killing Wallflower…”

“Can we stop arguing about this?” Adagio interrupted with a glare. “Sunset, just tell us already. Who bought the spear?”

Applejack fired off a deep glower my way, but I just returned it with an apologetic frown, then brought up the relevant evidence.


Fact #9: Prize Counter Receipts: “Tickets scanned:
Sun1621DT x 10: DS1a Purchased
Sun1623DT x 10: DS1b Purchased
Sun1625DT x 10: DS1c Purchased
Sun2240AB x 10: QS1a Purchased”

“The first three,” I said, pointing to each one in turn as I spoke, “are from when Diamond Tiara, Trixie, Apple Bloom, and I obtained the swords for Trixie’s magic show. Trixie insisted we use real ones, so that’s what we bought. The last one…” I pointed right at it. “That’s the spear.”

“Wait, but, but, but!” Pinkie stammered, her eyes bugging out of her sockets as her hair stood on end like she’d just been struck by lightning. “But that’s Apple Bloom!”

“What?!” Rarity gasped in shock, almost fainting into Trixie’s arms again until she thought better of it at the last second. “Why would Apple Bloom buy a spear?!”

“See what Ah mean?” Applejack said, crossing her arms. “This is why Ah ain’t sure Ah buy it. What kinda sense does it make for Apple Bloom to buy her own… her own…” She squeezed one hand into a fist, the fist shaking in the air for a few minutes before she released it again. “Her own murder weapon.”

“Um, I... nevermind,” Fluttershy said, raising a hand then gently setting it back down, staring down at her podium. “It’s nothing.”

“It doesn’t make much sense, no,” I said in agreement, “but it’s what the evidence says.”

“But, wait,” Rainbow said, scratching her head. “I thought only the games scanned our Monopads. Are we sure the tickets didn’t just, like, record who won them, not who used them to buy something?”

“Well, no, I guess not,” I admitted. The thought hadn’t occurred to me at all. I was surprised Rainbow Dash of all people had picked up on that. Maybe she was onto something.

“Did she even have the tickets to buy it though?” Adagio replied, her forehead creased from thought.

Scootaloo nodded several times in rapid succession. “Yeah, she did. She won ‘em earlier that day. I dunno what she did with ‘em though. I could’ve sworn she threw ‘em out when she realized they were for weapons…”

“Maybe she changed her mind, and just bought it for self defense?” Flash suggested, his face scrunching up in confusion.

“No way,” Tiara scoffed. “If she wanted something for self defense, she could’ve used a knife.”

Twilight frowned deeply as she held up a hand to her face. “I’m still not sure I get how that’s possible. The register says it happened at 10:40 PM, right?” I nodded. “But at 10:30 Apple Bloom was heading back to her cabin. I saw her, just ahead of me.”

“Maybe she doubled back?” Fluttershy` suggested. “She could’ve hidden by one of the shops, waited for you to pass by, then headed back for the game corner.”

“I suppose that makes sense,” Twilight admitted. “I did lose sight of her after she rounded the corner. And the most logical direction to take when returning to the cabins is via the restaurant district, so that’s the way I went. Anyone coming or going the other way, I never would’ve noticed.”

“Yeah, with the promenade, the bridge deck, the lounge, and the cabins making a big loop,” Scootaloo added, “it’d be easy to sneak past someone else.”

“Hmph! I didn’t see her either, though!” Tiara snorted, throwing her nose up in the air. “And I left the game corner at 10:35.”

“Oh, like you’d be hard to sneak past,” Adagio sneered. “You’re so busy indulging your ego I doubt you’d notice anything.”

“Hey!” Tiara growled, glaring daggers at Adagio. “Shut up!”

Adagio just snickered. “See what I mean?”

“Anyway, all of this speculation aside,” I said, trying to steer the conversation forward, “Apple Bloom bought the spear. So we need to figure out why.” I have a hunch, and I don’t like it. Even if Rainbow has a point about the tickets, it still fits the rest of the evidence.

“I’m beginning to wonder if Apple Bloom built the trap,” Fluttershy said, giving voice to the thought I hadn’t dared to. “Because the trap required someone very smart, and Apple Bloom was smart.”

“Yeah huh, she was! But that doesn’t mean she built it!” Pinkie objected, throwing out a hand. “What kinda sense does that make, huh?”

“That don’t even make a lick o’sense!” Applejack added, slamming a palm on her podium.

“Are you sure?” Twilight intervened, her gaze shifting just enough for her glasses to catch the light and gleam. “Not many people would know how to rewire an electric drill to tie it into a light fixture.”

I sure wouldn’t,” Sweetie Belle said with a nod.

Rainbow Dash held up a finger. “Yeah, me neither. I don’t know the first thing about circuitry.”

“I do! I used to rewire things all the time!” Pinkie said proudly. Then she deflated back to the low-energy state she’d practically been living in lately. “But I wouldn’t do this.”

“Yeah,” Flash agreed. He held out a hand to count on his fingers. “It’d probably be faster to list the people who would know how. Apple Bloom, Twilight, Pinkie Pie…” he trailed off and looked up at me with a sad expression on his face. “...and Sunset.”

“Oh reaaaaallllly?” Tiara tittered, holding up a hand to her mouth and breaking out into that godforsaken anime laugh I despised so much. “Ohohoho! Sunset’s on the suspect list, just like I saiiiid!”

“Ah swear, you accuse Sunset one more time, and Ah’ll be the one to bust your face in!” Applejack threatened, slamming one fist into her palm for emphasis.

“Aaaaiiii!” Tiara cried, coiling up like a turtle hiding in its shell. “Don’t hurt me!”

Rarity rolled her eyes. “Honestly, Applejack, I understand where you’re coming from darling, and while I agree with the general sentiment,” she said while flashing a disappointed glare Tiara’s way, “I don’t believe the violent threats are necessary.”

“For real, Tiara, no one thinks Sunset could’ve done it. Just lay off of her already,” Rainbow Dash added with a grunt.

“But. but!” Tiara’s face curled up into a duck-like pout. “But she could have!”

I shrugged. I’d finally stopped letting her protests get to me. At this point it was less infuriating and more like the mewling of a spoiled infant. “Sure. I’ll be honest. I could have rewired that drill easily. I could have, but I didn’t.”

“So that just leaves Pinkie Pie, Apple Bloom, and me,” Twilight said. “But I wouldn’t have made the trap either. I don’t have a reason to kill Sunset or Apple Bloom.”

“You know, I’m still not sure Sunset was even the target,” Scootaloo mused, rubbing her chin. “I mean, couldn’t it have been Trixie?”

“Trixie?!” Trixie burst out, screeching in shock. “No! Why would anyone want to kill Trixie?”

“Well we still don’t know why anyone would want to kill Sunset, sooo…” Scootaloo shrugged. “I’m just saying.”

“We can figure that out later,” I said with a sigh. “The trap is more important.”

Sweetie Belle groaned, doubling over onto her podium. “Uuugh, but how’re we gonna solve it? I mean it’s not like there’s any other clues pointing to who could’ve made it, right?”

“Um, actually, there might be,” Rarity replied, giving me a pointed look. “Isn’t that right, Sunset?”

“Wait, you don’t mean… that? Do you?” Applejack gasped.

Rainbow Dash’s face twisted up in puzzlement. “What? What are they talking about?”

“They’re talking about this,” I answered.

Fact #10: Library Logbook:
“19th Century Prench Chemists: Twilight Sparkle X/X
Chemical Formulas 301: Twilight Sparkle X/O
Expert Calculus and Derivatives: Twilight Sparkle X/O
Shadow Spade: To Catch A Butterfly: Rarity Belle X/O
Sakaguchi Chise: Crusader Queen #1: Sweetie Belle X/X
Sakaguchi Chise: Crusader Queen #2: Sweetie Belle X/X
Strategies for Anger Management: Adagio Dazzle X/O
The Lesbian Kama Sutra: Adagio Dazzle X/O
The Art of Magic: Trixie Lulamoon X/O
Daring Do and the Cornerstone of Light: Rainbow Dash X/O
Love Doth Ran Smooth: Fluttershy X/O
Sakaguchi Chise: Crusader Queen #3: Sweetie Belle X/O
The Burning of the Stars: Apple Bloom X/O
Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering: Apple Bloom X/O
Springs and Pulleys: Apple Bloom X/O”

“This is the log from the library, the one Rarity suggested we start,” I said. “As you can see, a lot of people signed it to show which books they checked out.”

“Aheheh, oh yeah,” Rainbow Dash said sheepishly, letting out nervous laughter. “Yeah, I forgot about… that.”

“Daring Do? You still read Daring Do?” Tiara burst out into mocking laughter. “Ahahaha! Aren’t you older than I am? Ahahaha!”

“Hey, shut up! Daring Do is awesome!” Rainbow retorted, shaking a fist in Tiara’s direction. “And it’s meant for all ages, not just kids, thank you!”

“Nevermind the Daring Do!” Rarity said, gasping. “I can’t believe what Adagio chose! The, the… Lesbian Kama Sutra?!”

“Woah…” Rainbow Dash’s face lit up with pink as her expression shifted into a leer. “Heeey Adagio, I didn’t know you were into girls. I’ll bet you learned some pretty good tips from that book, huh? I wouldn’t mind helping you try them out…”

Adagio spluttered, furiously blushing. “You… what…”

“Rainbow Dash!” Fluttershy huffed, her hands on her hips, her eyes shining with disappointment. “What is the matter with you? This isn’t the time for that!”

“Sorry, sorry…”

I could help you with that, Rainbow Dash,” Scootaloo suddenly said, even as her face bloomed with pink. She clapped a hand to her mouth as if she couldn’t believe what she’d just said.

Rainbow arched an eyebrow. “Uh, sorry, kid, but I think you’re a bit young for me.”

Scootaloo sank below her podium, and I could practically see steam rising above it from her embarrassment. “But I’m twenty-one,” she whined in a near whisper.

Adagio hissed, her teeth baring as her expression filled up with embarrassed rage. “What I choose to read is no one’s business but my own!” she roared. “Can we please drop this subject?”

“Seriously, jeez,” Flash agreed, groaning and shaking his head. “I’m sure Sunset has a better reason for bringing up the list anyway. Right, Sunset?”

“Yeah, I do,” I answered. I’d been wavering between stark amusement at Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo’s antics and outrage at Rainbow hitting on Adagio, so I was glad for the subject change. “I want to draw everyone’s attention to the last three entries.” I cued up the list again just to help bring them into focus.

Fact #10: Library Logbook:
“The Burning of the Stars: Apple Bloom X/O
Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering: Apple Bloom X/O
Springs and Pulleys: Apple Bloom X/O”

“Apple Bloom checked out these three books, probably all at the same time. The first one doesn’t matter. That’s just a sci-fi book.” I knew because I’d read it myself. Apple Bloom had good taste. “But the other two…”

Applejack stared at the titles for a moment before her face abruptly twisted into sheer horror. “No. No way. You can’t be saying that… no!”

“Twilight, was Apple Bloom carrying three books when she left the library?” Flash asked.

Twilight shrugged, an apologetic frown forming on her face. “Sorry. I know she had something, but I didn’t see what she had. I didn’t bother checking anything out last night either, so I didn’t see the list.”

“Then it makes sense,” Sweetie Belle said sadly. “Those books. They look like they’d be useful for the trap.”

“Not just useful,” Fluttershy agreed in a quiet voice. “They look like they’d be perfect. Like they’d show you everything you need.”

Trixie slammed a fist onto her podium. “No! That doesn’t make sense! Trixie doesn’t buy it. Apple Bloom was too smart. She didn’t need reference books!”

“Being smart isn’t enough when you’re building complicated projects,” Twilight disagreed, glaring over her glasses. “I use references all the time for my research. It’s part of being thorough.”

“Indeed. Even I sometimes use a reference or two when sewing an intricate or delicate stitch,” Rarity said, nodding.

“Wait, wait, wait. We keep going on and on about this,” Rainbow Dash interrupted, throwing out her hands. “But what are we trying to say, huh? Are we really going to say Apple Bloom built the trap?”

“I admit it does seem possible,” Rarity said, frowning.

“But why?” Applejack blurted. “Why would mah sister wanna build a trap like that? Why would she want to kill Sunset?! Ah can’t understand how that makes any sense at all.”

“Well why would anyone else want to kill her?” Rarity replied, crossing her arms. “We still don’t know. So it is possible. Surely you have to admit that.”

“Ah don’t gotta admit shit!” Applejack retorted, slamming both fists on her podium. “Mah sister wasn’t a killer!”

I remembered the conversation I had just this morning with Apple Bloom. About Equestria. At first it did seem like she was interrogating me. Or maybe confirming suspicions. But then…

~*~
“Ah ain’t sayin’ Ah don’t trust you. Ah think you proved you can be trusted from how you acted in the trial.”

I tried not to visibly wince when she said that. I remembered how I considered using that very fact to get away with murder. “I’d like to think so,” I said.

“Ah know so,” Apple Bloom responded, poking herself in the chest with one thumb. “Ah don’t quite have the sense for people’s honesty that mah sister does, but Ah can still tell someone trustworthy from someone who ain’t. And you’re trustworthy.
~*~

It didn’t track. Why would she talk like that to my face if she was planning to kill me? Why bring up the subject of Equestria? Why bother at all? Was she doubting herself? Maybe she wasn’t sure she could go through with it, so she tried to talk to me, to see if I could change her mind? Maybe, after that, she felt so guilty about what she’d planned that she had to save me at the last second?

But that didn’t make sense either. Because of one crucial little thing.

~*~
As I came out, Flash moved a couple of spotlights to circle around and focus on me.

“What the…” I heard Apple Bloom mutter from just off stage.
~*~

What Apple Bloom said, just before the trap sprung. I didn’t pay it any heed at the time, but looking back now… was that her spotting something? Flash had the spotlights dancing all over the place. Maybe it reflected some light off the chain, even with it being all black. Or maybe the drill even. The culprit hadn’t bothered painting the drill. Could she have seen a flash of a reflection out of the corner of her eye? Was it enough to catch her attention, make her look up, see the bag right as it started falling? That would explain how she noticed the trap.

And it would explain her actions, too. She had just enough time to react, and she chose to rescue Trixie and me, putting herself in harm’s way in the process. And she paid for it with her life.

No. Apple Bloom did not build the trap. I was sure of it.

“Listen, guys, I think we’re going about this all wrong,” I said, interjecting myself into a growing debate.

“But it makes sense!” Sweetie Belle said, responding to some point I hadn’t heard during my reverie. “Apple Bloom was smart enough to come up with the trap. She had the opportunity to build it! She was in the prop shop all the time. She had access to the materials, to the tools.”

“Trixie doesn’t agree!” Trixie objected. “Trixie is certain it’s impossible. Trixie remembers Apple Bloom bringing up the missing drill this morning! Why would she do that if she was going to--”

“Oh gee, I dunno, Trixie,” Tiara interrupted with a sneer. “Maybe it was to hide her guilt?”

Pinkie Pie shot Tiara a glare of her own. “You’re such a meanie, you know that, Tiara? A big, mean jerk! Apple Bloom would never hurt Sunny Girl!”

“And nobody thought Timber could hurt a fly, let alone kill Wallflower, but we’ve been wrong before,” Flash argued, shaking his head. “It makes too much sense. I’m sorry, but I think Apple Bloom built the trap.”

“No, that’s wrong!” I argued. “Apple Bloom wouldn’t build a trap and then get herself killed by it. Think about it, Flash. What kind of sense does that make?”

“Perhaps she made an error. Or she felt guilty. Who knows?” Twilight said with a shrug. “But the logic holds up. The evidence holds up.”

“The logic doesn’t hold at all!” Adagio fired back, pointing a finger at Twilight’s face. “And maybe the evidence is wrong!”

“Maybe the evidence is wrong?” Scootaloo repeated with a disbelieving laugh. “Look, Apple Bloom was my friend. I don’t want to think she was capable of it either, but why shouldn’t we trust the evidence we have?”

I had an answer for that. “Because of what Rarity said when she first suggested the logbook.”

~*~
“We could always make a log book of our own,” Rarity suggested. “We could get a large notebook from one of the stores, and then place it in the library for people to sign. It would be an honor system, I am aware, but it would help, yes?”
~*~

“She said it would be an honor system. You remember, right Rarity?”

Rarity held a hand to her breast, startled. “I… I guess I do remember saying that, but why bring that up?”

“Because,” I continued, feeling more confident by the second, “We can’t be sure we can trust what people wrote down.”

“Wait, wait, what?” Sweetie Belle cried, utter bafflement written all over her face. “What do you mean by that?”

Adagio flashed me a grateful look for the assistance. “She means that someone might’ve falsified an entry.”

Silence gripped the courtroom at that statement. No one spoke up for a good solid minute or two, the implications of what Adagio suggested racing through everyone’s heads. “S-so, wait,” Rainbow stuttered, “Are you saying someone lied about their book?”

“Lemme see that logbook!” Pinkie demanded, holding out her hands in my direction. With a shrug, I pulled it out of my backpack and tossed it her way. “Hmm, hmmm…. Yup yup yup! I think Dagi’s right!”

“Dagi?” Adagio growled, one hand curling into a claw. “No one calls me Dagi.”

Is that so? Remind me to never actually call her that to her face, then.

Pinkie ignored the irate siren. “I’d be willing to bet all my party supplies and then some that whoever wrote down Apple Bloom’s name for these last two books wasn’t actually Apple Bloom!”

“So what?” Diamond Tiara shot back with an irritated shrug. “Who cares? Apple Bloom still could’ve built the trap. I’m not gonna budge on that.”

“I’m sorry, but, I agree with her,” Fluttershy said, bowing her head. “I think Apple Bloom… killed herself.”

“Excuse me?!” Applejack burst out, the veins of her head throbbing with her fury as she whirled on the meek woman. “Ah know Ah didn’t just hear you accuse mah sister of bein’ suicidal. Because Ah swear, if you did, Ah’ve got somethin’ to say about it!”

“No, I don’t think she was suicidal,” Fluttershy replied, showing a remarkable amount of courage in the face of Applejack’s anger. “Not exactly. I think she built the trap, then changed her mind, and tried to stop it from hurting anyone. And… failed.”

Twilight nodded. “I don’t like the idea either, Applejack, but it fits what we’ve seen. I’m sorry, Sunset, I hear what you’re saying about the logbook, but I was the only other one in the library that night. And I sure didn’t falsify Apple Bloom’s name on a pair of books.”

Rainbow Dash snorted in disbelief, groaning as she slapped a hand to her head. “Man, none of you guys are listening to a word Sunset says, are you? Apple Bloom was too smart to get herself killed by her own trap! If she felt guilty, like you’re saying, I think she could’ve saved Trixie and Sunset without putting herself at risk.”

“Could she have?” Flash retorted, holding out one hand. “Because if she was going to do that, then she should’ve done it before the show began. Or halfway during the show. But she didn’t. She didn’t do a thing till the last minute. Sorry, but no. Like I said before, I’m with Twi and Shy. She killed herself. Probably not on purpose, but she did.”

“Yeah. She did,” Sweetie Belle said with a nod. “Sorry Sunset.”

“I… I know I said the logbook was an honor system,” Rarity said as she nervously twirled a finger into her hair. “B-but I can’t see how anyone else other than Apple Bloom could’ve built the trap. You didn’t, Sunset. Twilight didn’t. Pinkie surely didn’t. So who else could it have been?”

“Yeah, I think it’s time to call it. Monoponi!” Scootaloo cried out, turning to face the faux alicorn. “We’re ready to vote!”

“Oh? Ohoho? You are?! So soon?” Monoponi giggled. “Upupu, very well then. Please cast your votes with your--”

“Stop!” I shouted over him. “We’re not ready to vote at all!”

Trixie thrust out her arm, her cape fluttering in the resulting breeze. “Agreed! Trixie will not vote, not for Apple Bloom, not unless something more decisive is presented to her!”

Adagio held out one fist level with her chest, then switched it into a thumbs down. “Neither will I. Apple Bloom wasn’t stupid. She didn’t kill herself.”

Pinkie Pie tossed off a janky salute at Trixie, myself, and Adagio. “I’m with them. No vote Pinkie, that’s what you can call me!”

Rainbow Dash stomped a foot on the floor. “I’m with them too! No way Apple Bloom killed herself. I just won’t buy it.”

“Ah think y’all know which way Ah’m leanin’,” Applejack spoke up, glowering fiercely at every individual who’d dared suggest her sister killed herself. “Mah sister wasn’t suicidal. And she wouldn’t try and kill someone only to end up dead herself. Ah’d never vote for her, not now, not ever!”

“Then we’re split again!” Tiara said, growling and throwing up her hands. “Right down the middle!”

Uh-oh. I clapped a hand to my face, falling over onto my podium. “Oh god, here we go again.”

“Split? Split, you say?” Monoponi cackled as he jumped up from his chair. “Well, I think we all know what we need to do about that!”

“Can we please not?” I groaned.

“Sorry, but rules are rules!” Monoponi replied. His horn lit up and once again the familiar techno beat filled the courtroom. “When you’re split, the only way to settle it is a scrum debate! Prepare yourselves, my lovely passengers, for the experience of our very own morphenomenal trial grounds!”

“That term’s still stupid!” I shouted.

“Here we go again!” Rainbow called out as the podiums began to split apart, flying up into the air, drawing us into two rows once again. And I noticed just before things began… Apple Bloom’s portrait was with me. Like she was supporting my side.

DID APPLE BLOOM BUILD THE TRAP?

BEGIN!

Sweetie Belle led the charge, “Apple Bloom built the trap! There’s no one else who could’ve done it!”

Pinkie Pie pranced in place as she retorted, “Nuh-uh! With the right books and the right opportunity, anyone could’ve built the trap!”

Twilight shouted back, “But Apple Bloom was the one who checked the books out of the library!”

Adagio retorted with an exasperated roll of her eyes, “We don’t know Apple Bloom checked out the books. Her signature could’ve been falsified!”

Scootaloo smacked her podium with her hand. “Apple Bloom bought the spear though!”

Rainbow Dash pointed one finger at Scootaloo and said, “We don’t know she bought the spear! We only know her tickets were used!”

“So what are you saying then, darlings?” Rarity asked. “Are you saying we can’t trust the evidence?

“That’s exactly what we’re saying,” Trixie replied with a nod. “The evidence could be misleading us!”

“Oh come on!” Tiara threw up her hands in frustration. “Why are you denying the obvious? Apple Bloom committed suicide!

“For the last time, Tiara,” Applejack shot back with all the ire she could muster, “Mah sister would never commit suicide! She wasn’t suicidal!”

“She had to have known about the trap though,” Flash pointed out. “How else would she know when to act to save Sunset and Trixie?”

“Apple Bloom heard the snapping rope, just like Sunset and Trixie did!” Trixie retorted with a wave of her hand and a flurry of her cloak. “That was all she needed to act!

“Then, are you saying that Apple Bloom was innocent after all?” Fluttershy asked in a quiet, sad voice.

I replied in a soft voice myself, “Yes, Fluttershy. Apple Bloom was innocent. She didn’t build the trap, and she didn’t kill herself. The culprit is someone else!”

And with that response, the music once again ceased, leaving us with blessed silence. Our podiums descended back to their usual spots. “I know it’s the easy solution, guys,” I said, trying to rally everyone’s spirits. “I know it feels like it fits the evidence to say Apple Bloom did this herself. But there’s just too many uncertainties. And I won’t vote until I’m one hundred percent certain. And neither should you.”

Twilight had the good sense to look abashed, withdrawing into herself. “Sorry, everyone. Sunset’s right.”

“‘Course she’s right. ‘Cause Ah ain’t ever gonna stop believing in mah sister,” Applejack replied with a snort. “Apple Bloom’s just the victim, and Ah still aim to figure out which one of you low-down varmints killed her!”

Applejack was right. The culprit was still amongst us. One of us was lying. One of us was trying to mislead us. One of us wanted the rest to fail.

I won’t let that happen.

Author's Note:

So, when I wrote the first part of the trial, I expected more people would hop onto the "Apple Bloom built the trap" hypothesis than actually did, hence the direction the first part of the trial plus scrum debate went. Always interesting to me the difference between what I think people will fixate on versus what they actually fixate on. :raritystarry:

Next time: the second half of the trial!

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