• 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 One: Forgotten Dreams on the Ocean Breeze Part 7

Chapter One:

Forgotten Dreams On The Ocean Breeze

Trial Part Two

So, here we were with the trial for Wallflower Blush. We’d determined both where she died and how, but there were still plenty of mysteries to solve. We still didn’t know when and, most importantly, who.

So far I've eliminated a few from my mind. I didn’t do it, of course, and neither did anyone who hadn’t left the party. Which left me with just a few suspects on my list: Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Timber Spruce, Trixie, and Diamond Tiara. Everyone else either had an alibi or was so busy with the party they never had time to kill Wallflower.

Of this list, I was pretty sure neither Rainbow Dash nor Rarity did it, so that left me with four suspects total. But I didn’t want to announce this to everyone yet. I wanted to give each of them enough rope to hang themselves with, if it turned out one of them did it. And if I was wrong, if someone else had opportunity and we hadn’t realized it yet… well, in any case, I didn’t want to tip my hand.

“So, where do we go from here?” Scootaloo asked in a baffled tone, scratching the back of her head.

“There’s still a lot of mysteries to solve,” Twilight replied. “We should pick one.”

“Well there’s something I would certainly like to know about,” Rarity said in a huff. “I want to know why that cider made so many of us so ill!”

“Ah’ll tell you what it wasn’t!” Applejack retorted, crossing her arms. “It wasn’t cause it was a bad batch of cider. Sweet Apple Acres cider is some of the best cider there is! We’re too good to mess it up.”

“Uh huh. Sure,” Diamond Tiara groused. “I totally believe that.”

“But it’s true!” Apple Bloom responded with a scowl. “Ah’ve been helping our farm produce the cider for years now. We only use the best produce we have.”

“So let’s take that as a given, then,” I said, interrupting this pointless argument before it could go any further. “Let’s assume it wasn’t because the cider itself was bad. Let’s assume, instead, that something or someone spiked it with something.”

“Oh no no no!” Pinkie cried out, shaking her head furiously. “I wouldn’t ever let anyone spike any drinks at my party! This is an outrage!” She slammed a fist on her podium. “I won’t forgive whoever ruined my party this way! Nobody ruins a Pinkie party and gets away with it!”

“Who even had an opportunity to spike the cider?” Flash asked, frowning. “Was it someone who set up the drinks?”

“Maybe it was Timber,” Diamond Tiara sneered. “He was the one who got us our drinks.”

“No way! You’d think I’d poison myself like that?” Timber shook his head and glared at Diamond Tiara, one hand on his stomach. “My stomach still hurts!”

“Yeah I was watching him get the drinks,” I agreed. “I think I would’ve noticed him putting something into the cider.”

“So then who set up the drinks?” Sweetie asked. “Maybe it was one of them?”

“That would be myself, Applejack, and Apple Bloom,” Twilight answered, counting off on her fingers. “I separated from them to get a cart, but that only took me a couple of minutes, because I grabbed one from the closest restaurant on the promenade. The Qilin place, I think.”

“And Ah think Ah’ve made it clear Ah wouldn’t ruin mah own family’s name by spikin’ the cider,” Applejack said.

“That’s what you say,” Trixie replied, sticking her nose up, “But Trixie isn’t so sure of that! Can you prove to Trixie that you wouldn’t?”

“Are you insultin’ mah family’s honor?!” Applejack roared, raising her fists up and waving them menacingly in Trixie’s direction.

Trixie recoiled, screeching in fear. “Aaah! Please don’t hurt Trixie!”

“Honestly, Applejack, stop scaring the poor dear,” Rarity said with a shake of her head. “And Trixie, please, stop. Applejack suffered just as much as I did. I should know. I was there.”

“Yeah, and it makes no more sense that Applejack would poison herself than Timber would,” I agreed. My eyes fixed upon the younger of the two Apple sisters. “Apple Bloom, on the other hand…”

“Woah, hey now,” Apple Bloom said, raising her hands up as if I was holding her at gunpoint. “Ah ain’t about to poison mah sister!”

“I wasn’t saying you would,” I replied with a small smile. “Easy, Apple Bloom, I’m not accusing you. Just pointing out you had opportunity.”

“Oh okay, that’s better then,” Apple Bloom said, dropping her hands with a relieved look on her face. “Ah was gonna say, Ah was just defending you and all.”

“Maybe we’re looking at this the wrong way,” Adagio said, frowning. “Perhaps we should ask ourselves not who, but how. And why?”

I think the why is obvious, but, well… “The how, I think I might be able to explain. At least partially.”

Fact #5: Tainted Cider: “According to Timber Spruce, the cider had a nutty, bitter taste, and made his tongue and mouth itch.”

“Twilight told me during the investigation that Timber’s description matches up perfectly with the symptoms of taking ipecac syrup,” I continued.

“What is ipecac syrup?” Trixie said, face scrunched up in confusion. “Trixie has never heard of this before.”

“That’s not really surprising,” Twilight replied. “Ipecac was used for a long time as an emetic, to induce vomiting to treat instances of poisoning. But it’s since been phased out in favor of things like activated charcoal. Not a lot of people would even know what it is anymore.”

“Well sure, that’d make us vomit, but what about the uh… well, uh…” Applejack trailed off, face blooming with pink.

“The excrement, darling?” Rarity said hesitantly.

“Yeah. That.”

“Ipecac wouldn’t make you lose control of your bowels, but that could easily be explained by laxatives,” Twilight said. “Most of those don’t have much of a flavor, so the ipecac would override it.”

“Well that’s all well and good,” Diamond Tiara said with a grunt, “but when did the culprit spike the cider? I want to know who did it so I can make them pay for what they did to me!”

“Pinkie,” I said, turning to the party planner. “You told me during the investigation that no one touched the cider before 10:00 PM, right?”

“Yup yup! And I totally would have noticed if the cider was bad from the start,” Pinkie answered. “At least, I’m pretty sure I would’ve.”

“And I was watching it too. At least, I was at first,” Twilight said, trailing off and holding a hand to her face as her cheeks bloomed. “Until I got distracted.”

“Hey, it’s not your fault, Twilight,” Flash said comfortingly, reaching over past Sweetie Belle’s podium to pat her on the shoulder. “If it was anyone, it was mine’s.”

“So someone must’ve done it between the time it was set up, and before Timber got drinks for everyone who suffered,” I said, nodding. “But when?”

“Can we even be sure?” Adagio said, holding up one hand and placing the other on her hip. “Everyone was constantly going back and forth during the beginning, to get swimsuits. Then after that we were dancing to the music.”

“Yeah, Ah don’t think we’re gonna figure out who did it by tryin’ to track ‘em down during the party,” Apple Bloom said. “Maybe we’re better off focusin’ on where they got ipecac from.”

“Well, the pharmacy was open to everyone,” Sweetie Belle said, scratching her head. “Did someone buy some?”

“Not that we saw on the receipts,” I answered. Of course the culprit wouldn’t make it that easy.

“It’s true, we didn’t see anyone buy ipecac or laxatives specifically,” Twilight said, “but several people did purchase first aid kits.”

Fact #12: Shop Receipts:
“AD@RX Tue1005: Ultra Deluxe First Aid Kit.
AD@RX Wed1440: Ultra Deluxe First Aid Kit.
SS@RX: Wed1530: Basic First Aid Kit.
FS@RX Wed2005: Basic First Aid Kit, condoms, acetaminophen.”

“Specifically,” she continued, “Adagio, Flash Sentry, and Sunset Shimmer.”

“And once again Sunset is suspicious! Why am I not surprised?” Diamond Tiara declared, glowering at me.

“For goodness sake, Tiara,” I groaned, smacking my head against my podium. “You think I’d point this out if I was stupid enough to buy my own first aid kit?”

“Wait, why did Adagio purchase two of the same kind?” Rainbow Dash asked.

Adagio grimaced. “Because some jerk stole the first one yesterday morning, when we were all searching for Sunset.”

“What’s the difference between the two kinds, anyway?” Sweetie Belle asked, eyebrows raised.

Fact #8: First Aid Kit: “Adagio Dazzle had purchased an ultra deluxe first aid kit on Tuesday, stocked with plenty of drugs and surgery materials on top of the usual contents. It was stolen Wednesday morning.”

“A lot, actually,” I replied. “I had to use Adagio’s first aid kit to bandage Twilight’s head on Tuesday, and there was a ton of extra stuff in it. Lots of different medicines I didn’t recognize. One of them might’ve been ipecac.”

“Is there any way we can be sure?” Applejack said. “‘Cause Ah think we need to see the contents.”

Adagio blew out a sigh, then shrugged off her backpack and removed the Ultra Deluxe First Aid Kit, slamming it on her podium. “Here. Go nuts.”

Applejack took the proffered kit and proceeded to search it. “Yup,” she said after a moment, holding up two different bottles. “Got some ipecac right here. And some powdered laxatives too.”

“Alright, so we know the big kind of kit had those in it,” Rainbow Dash said, nodding. “But what about the small ones?”

“Flash, do you have yours on you?” I asked as I quickly removed mine from my backpack.

“No, sorry,” Flash said sheepishly, scratching the back of his head. “Is that important?”

Applejack took my kit from me. “Nah, Ah think we’re okay. Looks like Sunset didn’t even remove the plastic wrap from it yet.” She swiftly tore off the plastic, crunching it up in a ball and shoving it in her pocket. Popping it open, she searched it quickly, then nodded. “Nope, no ipecac or laxatives. Ah think we can safely say the culprit got it from Adagio’s, then.” She handed me back my first aid kit, and I stuffed it back inside my backpack.

“Can we be sure about that?” Timber wondered. “I mean, did anyone find it during the investigation?”

“Yeah, actually, we did!” Scootaloo replied.

Fact #8: First Aid Kit: “It was stolen Wednesday morning, and discovered inside the Sushi King freezer vent. The kit was effectively destroyed, all the supplies rendered useless.”

“Freezer vent? I didn’t know there was a vent in the freezer,” Rarity said, scratching her chin.

“Yeah, Sunset, Twilight and I found it the other day,” Scootaloo replied. “I had to wriggle my way inside. It was a pretty tight fit, but I made it work.”

“Specifically, the vent was located behind the stacked bags of ice,” I said, frowning. “The culprit probably noticed it when they went to get the ice for their crime, so we can’t assume it was someone who already knew about it.”

“Wait, how can you be sure of that?” Sweetie asked, glaring at me with suspicion written all over her face. “I mean if you were one of the only ones who knew about the vent…”

I let out a sheepish laugh. “Ah, that’s actually a little embarrassing.”

“Okay, so that was a bust,” Scootaloo groaned. “What was even the point to that vent?”

“That’s what I’m curious about too,” Twilight agreed, staring at the vent while scratching her head. “The other freezers had vents, but they were all in the ceiling. Why was this one in the wall by the floor?”

I rolled my eyes hard enough to make my head hurt. “Probably because Monoponi’d get a laugh out of us wasting our goddamned time,” I growled, roughly shoving the vent cover back in place in disgust and throwing the bag of ice back so it landed in a messy fashion instead of being evenly lined up with the rest of them. I didn’t care though. I was just too mad.

“When I put the bag of ice back, it wasn’t hiding the vent anymore. So it would’ve been easily noticed,” I said.

“I can confirm that,” Twilight nodded. “I figured it was fine at the time.”

“Yeah I can confirm it too,” Scootaloo agreed. “Still don’t get why you were so mad though, Sunset.”

I didn’t respond, instead glaring up at Monoponi, who leered at us from his throne. “Upupupu!” he chuckled.

“Seems to Trixie like it was a good spot to stash evidence,” Trixie noted. “If you hadn’t already known about the vent, Trixie thinks you never would’ve found the first aid kit!”

“Yeah, that’s probably right, because the culprit even put the bags of ice back to cover the vent,” I agreed with a nod.

“Great, so now we know how the culprit spiked the cider,” Flash said, frowning and scratching his head. “But what I don’t get is why. What was the point?”

“Maybe someone left the party when none of us were looking?” Sweetie suggested. “And used it as a distraction?”

“No way!” Pinkie furiously shook her head. “I was watching everyone the whole time! I would’ve seen someone leave.”

“Agreed,” Twilight said, adjusting her glasses. “I think we can safely say the only ones who left the party are the ones we know left the party.”

Fact #9: Party Timeline: “The party ran from 8:00 PM to 3:00 AM. At 8:00 everyone scrambled for swimsuits, but no one was gone for more than a few minutes. Everyone attended the party except for Wallflower Blush. Music was played from 8:30 PM till 10:00 PM, then at 10:15 Applejack, Timber Spruce, Rarity, Fluttershy, and Diamond Tiara became sick and left for the bathrooms. All except Rarity returned at 11:00, and she at 11:20. Trixie and Rainbow Dash left to clean up at 11:30 and came back at 12:15. After that Sunset, Flash, and Twilight left at 1:00, then everyone else at 3:00.”

“So that means,” Twilight continued, “our suspect list has to be Applejack, Timber Spruce, Rarity, Fluttershy, Diamond Tiara, Rainbow Dash, Trixie, Sunset, Flash, and myself. We’ve already proven Flash and I have alibis, Sunset was asleep, the first five were sick thanks to the cider, and Rainbow Dash was too drunk.”

“Wait, but that just leaves…” Scootaloo trailed off, gasping as her gaze shot over to Trixie’s podium.

The poor illusionist was shaking like a leaf as everyone’s gazes fell upon her. “S-s-surely you can’t s-suspect The Great and P-Powerful Trixie had anything to do with this?!” Trixie burbled, fidgeting with her hands.

Adagio shook her head, snorting. “No. I refuse to believe someone as stupid as her could have come up with the things the culprit did.”

“H-hey!” Trixie retorted, eyes welling up with tears. “Y-you keep saying Trixie is s-stupid, but Trixie is not stupid!” She slammed both fists on her podium, tears flying away from her face as she ranted. “Trixie is just as intelligent as anyone else in this room! Just because Trixie speaks in third person does not make her stupid! Trixie just prefers to speak this way! It helps Trixie with her magic acts!” She sniffled, tears falling down her face now. “Maybe Trixie has been wrong in the trial. Wrong a lot. But that doesn’t make Trixie stupid! It just means Trixie made mistakes in her understanding of the case!” She pointed a furious finger at everyone. “Trixie was not the only one to make a mistake! Most of you misunderstood one thing or another! It’s taken Sunset to lead us through this trial, to help uncover the mysteries.”

Trixie’s gaze fell upon me, full of sorrow. “Trixie is sorry she accused you earlier, Sunset. You’ve done nothing but try to help us, and Trixie repaid it with suspicion. Please forgive Trixie.”

“Hey, you don’t have anything to apologize for, Trixie,” I said with a smile. “You’re just trying to figure things out, just like the rest of us. Don’t worry about it.” My smile vanished as I fixed my gaze on Adagio. “And Adagio? You’d better apologize. Joking around with someone or teasing someone a bit is one thing, and can sometimes be funny. But you made her cry. That’s not okay.”

Adagio hissed at me, teeth bared, her eyes full of predatory instincts as her hands curled up like claws. Then she grit her teeth, squeezed her hands into fists so hard her knuckles turned white, before relaxing them. “Fine. Trixie, I’m… I’m sorry.” She looked away, grimacing as she stared at her podium.

Trixie narrowed her tearful eyes as she wiped her face clean, before relaxing and nodding. “Thank you. Trixie accepts your apology.”

“So, um, that’s great and all,” Sweetie said, frowning, “but that doesn’t excuse you from being suspicious.”

“Nah, Trixie didn’t do it,” Rainbow Dash interrupted before Trixie could become upset again. “She didn’t have enough time before I came into the women’s bathroom to help her clean. She was only alone for, like, five minutes. That’s waaaay too little time to tie up Wallflower and kill her.”

“That’s right,” Trixie agreed, smiling gratefully at Rainbow Dash. “So Trixie did not kill Wallflower! Trixie is innocent.”

“Now hold on!” Diamond Tiara interrupted. “If Trixie didn’t do it, then we’re out of suspects again!” Her gaze fell upon me as she smiled wickedly. “All except Sunset, that is!”

Oh here we go again with this shit, I groaned internally as everyone’s eyes fell upon me. “Seriously, Tiara? Stop accusing me already. No one’s going to buy it at this point.”

“Yeah, seriously,” Scootaloo agreed, glaring at Diamond Tiara. “Sunset’s innocent. She’s solved way too much of this case to be guilty. If anything, you’re the suspicious one because you won’t shut up about her!”

“Excuse me?!” Diamond Tiara roared, shaking her fists at Scootaloo. “You little jerk! Do you not know who I am?”

“No one cares, Tiara,” Rainbow Dash muttered, rolling her eyes.

“Yeah, we get you’re rich,” Apple Bloom agreed, crossing her arms, “but why would that be any kind of excuse?”

“It sure ain’t in mah book,” Applejack snorted. “Rich folk always thinkin’ they can push poor folk around, just ‘cause they got more money. Just a bunch of hooey if you ask me.”

“But no one asked you, farmer!” Tiara retorted, twisting her pronunciation of ‘farmer’ into an obvious insult.

Applejack lowered her stance as if she was preparing to charge, face twisted up in rage as she snorted like an angry stallion. “Are you tryin’ ta piss me off?” she growled. “Cause if ya are, it’s workin’!”

“I dunno, I think they have a point,” Timber agreed, looking back and forth between Applejack and Tiara. “You haven’t shut up once about Sunset the whole trial.”

“And it’s true we don’t know who spiked the cider,” Sweetie agreed. “Maybe whoever did it knew it was bad, and didn’t actually drink any?”

“Or maybe they took something beforehand that kept them from getting sick,” Fluttershy suggested quietly. “I think I know of a few herbs that could do it. I uh, I don’t know if any are on the ship though.”

“Does anyone remember for sure if we all took a drink of the cider that night?” Rarity inquired, looking to her fellow sufferers.

Fluttershy silently shook her head.

“Can’t say Ah do,” Applejack replied, still glowering fiercely at Tiara. “Which means it’s possible Sweetie’s right.”

“Tiara accused Sunset before we even started investigating!” Pinkie Pie pointed out. “It’s almost as if she had everything planned out!”

“What?!” Diamond Tiara screeched, and slammed her fists repeatedly on her podium. “What is wrong with all of you?! I’ve never been more humiliated in my life! How dare you accuse me of killing Wallflower! You don’t have any proof!” She brought up one hand and flipped us all the bird, pointingly aiming it at each of us in turn. “All you have are guesses! Suspicions! And it’s all wrong!” She slammed her fist on the podium once more. “I drank cider that night. I got just as sick as all of you! I even stepped in Rarity’s shit, okay? I wouldn’t make that up!”

“I believe you,” I said simply.

Tiara whirled on me, eyes agog. “W-what? You do?” she stammered.

“Yeah.” I shrugged. “I don’t think you did it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not happy about you constantly accusing me. But just because you’ve been going after me doesn’t mean you did anything.”

“Wait, why don’t you think she could have done it?” Twilight asked, frowning as she held up a hand. “If she did fake drinking the cider, then she had all the opportunity she needed. Anyone could have taken Adagio’s first aid kit, and she had as much of a chance as any of us to spike the cider to begin with.”

“Two things,” I said, bringing up the relevant evidence.

Fact #12: Shop Receipts:
“RB@OS: Tue1033: Deluxe arts and crafts kit.
FS@ OS: Tue1420 Deluxe arts & crafts kit.
TS@ OS: Tue1425: Notebooks x 6, pen x 12, pencils x 12, erasers x 3.
DT@OS: Tue1515: Deluxe arts and crafts kit, notebook x 2, pen x 3.
TS@ OS: Tue1622: Deluxe arts & crafts kit x 2.”

“First, she had an arts and crafts kit. That has all kinds of supplies in it, plenty to make a good note with. But…”

Fact #11: Note: “The note reads: ‘Dearest Wallflower. You’re the prettiest chick I’ve ever seen. We should meet up tonight, at *blank* in the Lover’s Corner, so we can ditch those losers at the party and hang together.’ The note was not signed. The note was crafted from pasted together letters taken from the packaging of first aid kit supplies, many of which were made of reflective material. A few of the letters were torn off from the note, including the time of the meeting.”

“The note we found was makeshift, pasted together from bits of the first aid kit wrappers rather than being well crafted. Not to mention it was also pretty cheesy. And Tiara’s been constantly priding herself on how refined she is. Even if she was into girls--” I took a moment to briefly look at Tiara, who just shook her head --”I doubt she’d craft a note this awful. She has too much pride in herself to craft something this bad.”

“Wow, this is bad,” Flash said, eyebrows raised. “I don’t think I would’ve written something like this even in high school.”

Twilight giggled and reached over to pat him on the arm. “That’s because you actually have a romantic soul. I like that about you.” Her cheeks flushed with pink as she spoke.

Flash chuckled in response, looking away as he blushed profusely.

“Okay, that’s enough being sappy,” Tiara groaned. “Anyway, Sunset, you’re right. I do have too much pride in myself to make something like this note!” She crossed her arms and smirked. “See, everyone? I’m innocent.”

“Hmmph. Maybe yer innocent of killin’ Wallflower,” Applejack retorted, “but Ah don’t think you can call yerself innocent in general. Ya rich jerk.”

“Whatever!” Diamond Tiara replied with a laugh.

“Huh. I didn’t expect that,” Timber shrugged. He rubbed at his stomach and winced. “So then, who’s left? If we all got sick, and everyone else who left couldn’t have done it…”

“Yeah, we’re kinda stuck,” Scootaloo agreed. She doubled over, groaning. “Uuugh, what do we do now?”

“It does seem as if we’ve examined all the clues available,” Rarity said, her eyes beginning to fill with fear. “Are… are we going to have to guess?”

“We can’t do that, can we?” Trixie said, shaking. “I-if we g-guess wrong…”

“Then you’ll all be punished, according to the rules!” Monoponi finished, gleefully clapping his forehooves together. “And believe you me, I have a very special punishment all lined up and ready just in case that happens!”

Flash made a fist and pounded it against his other hand. “No way. We can’t guess about this. We can’t vote until we’re sure. I’m not putting my life on the line for a guess.”

“Agreed!” Applejack said. “Ah ain’t ready to vote.” She narrowed her eyes and glared at the rest of us. “Someone here’s been lyin’, Ah think. Ah’ve been smellin’ it since we came to the courtroom. Ah just can’t figure out who.”

“Smelling?” Tiara snorted.

“It’s been known to happen,” Adagio said, winking in my direction.

“Wait! I know!” Twilight blurted as she glanced my way. “Sunset, we still haven’t examined all the clues yet. Remember?”

“Right,” I agreed. “There’s still two things unaccounted for.”

Fact #10: Water Stain: “The Lover’s Corner alcove contained a large water stain on its carpet, along with a plastic bottle cap and a note.”

“The water stain next to where we found the note, and…”

Fact #4: Odd Material: “A few fragments of odd material were discovered underneath the body. A long, thin fragment of the same material was discovered in the Sushi King’s janitor sink drain.”

“These,” I finished, holding up the fragments in question.

“Huh? What’re those?” Timber asked, squinting to get a better look.

I shrugged. “Some kind of material we found during the investigation. Twilight and I actually meant to ask Rarity to see if she knew what it was, because we couldn’t figure it out, but we hadn’t had a chance yet. Rarity?”

I passed the material down to her. She took them and stared. “Hmm,” she said, frowning. She squinted, pulled them up close to her eyes, then snorted and withdrew a magnifying glass of some kind from her skirt pocket. “Oh, I see now,” she said. “I think I can see why this was so hard to identify for you. It’s a kind of nylon.”

“Nylon?” My eyebrows shot to the top of my head. “It doesn’t look like any nylon I’ve ever seen.”

“No no, darling, this isn’t your typical nylon. This is a bit of a different kind,” Rarity replied with a sympathetic smile. “It’s called ballistic nylon. It’s an expensive fabric, originally developed by a company trying to create bulletproof jackets during the Second Great War. It’s used in many applications, particularly for backpacks, straps, even knife sheaths. Most people don’t even know the name; they just think it’s some generic fabric. Not something I’d usually work with in my shop, but I had an opportunity once a couple of years ago.” She chortled as she set the materials down on her podium. “Actually, that’s quite a funny story. You see--”

“Nevermind the story, Rarity, we get it,” Applejack interrupted. “Lemme see those, if ya don’t mind.”

Rarity harrumphed, but complied. Applejack peered down at the nylon in her hand, then nodded. “Yep, just as Ah thought. Ah’m all but certain this came from the rope the culprit used to tie Wallflower up. It matches up with some of the patterin’ on her neck.”

“Huh. Guess it must’ve been stuck on her clothes and washed off when they stuck her in the sink,” Rainbow said with a laugh. “Good thing we found it!”

“Yeah, it would’ve been easy for the culprit to miss it in the process of hiding the cause of death,” I agreed. “I barely spotted it in the drain myself.”

“Then, that’s it! That’s it!” Scootaloo cried, a wide smile on her face as she leapt up and down at her podium. “We just have to figure out who had the ballistic nylon, and we’ll know who did it!”

“Finally, jeez!” Sweetie Belle groaned. “We’ve been at this for hours. Couldn’t you have brought it up sooner, Sunset?”

I barked a sheepish laugh. “Sorry, but even if I had we still had to figure out everything else anyway.”

“So, who had ballistic nylon then?” Diamond Tiara said, looking around the room with a frown on her face. She stopped briefly at me, then shook her head. “It wasn’t Sunset. She’s wearing a leather backpack.”

“And I think we’d notice if her backpack was torn up, anyway,” Flash agreed. “I don’t know how much rope the culprit needed, but they probably needed a lot of material to get enough.”

“Trixie agrees! Even if they only used enough to tie Wallflower’s wrists and ankles, and then used that same rope on her neck, Trixie thinks they’d barely have enough from just one backpack. It would have to be big.”

“And I think all kinds of backpacks were available in the sporting goods store, right?” Pinkie Pie chirped. “Then anyone could have gotten some! We just gotta check that!”

“Yeah, definitely! I remember seeing them there,” Rainbow said. “Sunset! Check the receipts!”

The receipts. Who among us could’ve bought ballistic nylon? Whoever it was is almost certainly the culprit, I mused as I looked down the list. Then I spotted it. I stared at the list, my eyes narrowing further and further into slits, my mouth curling up into a sneer. I gripped my fists tightly together in anger as I looked up from the list, directly at the suspect, who reeled back as if struck. “You,” I snarled as I punched up the appropriate piece of evidence.

Fact #12: Shop Receipts:
“TS@SG Tue1225: Leather backpack, sneakers, yoga pants, fabric backpack. ”

Timber Spruce!” I shouted, pointing one finger directly at him. “You’re the only one!

“Me?” Timber’s face scrunched up in shock. “Sunset, what’re you talking about? That doesn’t even say nylon on it!”

“No, of course it wouldn’t. It’s like Rarity said: most people would think this stuff’s just generic fabric.” I shook my head in disbelief at how I hadn’t realized this before. “And the registers list things generically!”

Timber rocked on his feet, his face twisting up in anger. He pulled on his shirt collar and fanned himself with his shirt a few times. “So? How do you know that was me who bought that, huh? It just says TS! That could just as easily be Twilight Sparkle!”

“No, it can’t be,” Twilight replied sharply. “I think I’d know if I bought a backpack.”

Narrowing her eyes, Scootaloo asked, “Hey, wait a minute. Didn’t I see you wearing a fabric backpack the other day?”

“You did. We all did,” I said.

“Huh, I wonder what this is about,” I commented as we all got up to follow Scootaloo back to the promenade. Poor girl must’ve been running all over the place because as soon as she got the chance she broke off to grab a bottle of water from the convenience store. I also saw Timber Spruce emerge from the sporting goods store wearing a large black fabric backpack as we walked by. That reminds me: get a backpack of my own asap. I don’t want to tear a hole in my jacket thanks to this stupid Monopad.

“He was wearing it when Pinkie proposed the pool party.”

“Oh yeah, that’s right!” Pinkie chirped. She placed her hands on her hips and glowered fiercely at Timber. “You were wearing one, weren’t you!”

“He sure was,” Applejack added with a furious glare of her own. “Ah remember seeing it. Ah remember wonderin’ if Ah should get one of mah own, but then Ah decided against it. Startin’ to wish Ah had. Ah might’ve figured this out sooner.”

“Woah, excuse me!” Timber said angrily. “What the hell, guys? Do I look like I’m wearing a fabric backpack? Huh?” He held up the brown leather backpack hanging from his shoulders. “No! I’m not!”

“But you still bought one!” Sweetie said. “And you bought that backpack at the same time. That’s kinda weird.”

“Yeah, who even needs two backpacks? I don’t even need two backpacks!” Rainbow Dash agreed.

Timber groaned in annoyance, doubling over on his podium. "Jeez, you guys. This doesn't mean anything. Yeah I bought one. I bought it because I wanted to try it out! Same reason I bought the other one! I decided I liked this one better, so I left the other in my room, okay?” Timber winced, reeling back and holding his stomach. “Not like it matters anyway. I still got sick last night! You saw me throw up and everything this morning! Remember, Sunset?”

Timber showed up next, took one look at the body, blanched, and stuffed his face in the nearest bin, retching. “God damn, what the hell!” he cried, wiping the sick off his face.

“You think I faked that?! Cause I didn’t!”

I shook my head slowly. “Timber, you could have easily accomplished that by taking a small amount of leftover ipecac just before showing up on the promenade. That’d also explain how you knew exactly what it tasted like when you told us about the cider.”

Timber rolled his eyes. “Oh come on, like you can prove that! Why would I tell you about the cider if I spiked it, huh? Do I look like I’m stupid?”

“We all saw you leave the party with the rest of us,” Rarity retorted, glaring. “By cooperating with the investigation, you were trying to clear yourself of suspicion!”

“Yeah, and you were pretty unhappy about guarding the body, weren’t you?” Scootaloo said.

After a couple of moments of silence, Timber let out a frustrated sigh and stepped forward, still shaking and still pale. He dragged the bin with him, keeping it handy. “Guess I’ll do it. Sorry I won’t be able to help investigate.”

“I’ll bet you wanted an excuse to go and find any leftover evidence so you could destroy it, only no one else spoke up!” Scootaloo said. “So you just used the chance to excuse yourself instead so you didn’t have to fake searching for things!”

“Uh, no, I was ‘unhappy’ because I was friggen sick! And I still am!” Timber insisted. He groaned, holding his stomach and took a moment to take a few breaths. "Besides, how could I have spiked the cider anyway? You said it yourself, Sunset. You never saw me put anything in it."

He's not wrong. I didn't see him put any drugs into the cider. But... wait...

Flash and Timber came over and started piling stuff on top. It took a while to run everything through the register, because of course thanks to Monoponi’s stupid regulations we had to run each item through one at a time, but we turned it into a proper assembly line of passing things around almost like a circle till we got it all, then Flash ran his Monopad to “pay” for it. Together we took it all and set it out nicely on the table. Flash even took the extra time to pop open the various tubs of dip we brought and set them up neatly for everyone, while Timber set a bag of ice on the table, inside a small cooler we’d also bought.
“Hey Sunset, want some cider?” Timber offered. He had a small tray with several cups already. “I’m getting some for AJ, Tiara, Rarity, and Fluttershy. And myself. We’re all sitting over there if you want to join us.”

“Nah, no thanks,” I said as I reached for one of the bottles of cinnamon whiskey. Last thing I wanted to do was cause a scene with Tiara, because I could already feel her eyes burrowing into my back. “I’m more of a hard liquor kind of girl.”

“Right on,” he said with a laugh as he poured the last cup, placing a few cubes of ice into it.

"That's it!" I said, snapping my fingers. "The ice cubes! You dosed the ice cubes with the ipecac and laxatives, then used that to spike the cider when no one was looking."

Sweat ran down Timber's face. Wiping his face off with the back of his hand, Timber said, "Oh come on, when was I supposed to have done that? You saw me get the ice from the convenience store!"

"No you didn't," Flash answered. "I was there, dude. All you bought was a cooler. The ice was already inside, which means you put it there."

"So what?" Timber flipped Flash off. "I still got the ice from the store."

"Uh, no, that's not possible, dumbass!" Tiara interjected, pointing right at Timber's face. "I've been in the convenience store a bunch of times! There's no ice there at all!"

Throwing up his hands in frustration, Timber cried, "Then where'd I get the ice for the party?"

I smiled gratefully at Flash and Tiara for the backup, then twisted it into a frown as I faced Timber again. "Isn't it obvious?"

Fact #7: Sushi King Kitchen: “A bag of ice in the freezer was open, missing some of its contents.”

"You planned to use the Sushi King kitchen as your murder site from the start. It's the closest to the Lover's Corner, making it the logical place. So since there was plenty of ice in the freezer, you got most of what we used at the party from there. The rest, you made yourself, by freezing water laced with ipecac and laxatives. Then you stashed it all in the cooler and put the cooler back in the shop, so you could pretend to buy it when we went in there for snacks."

Pointedly rolling his eyes, Timber twisted his mouth into a sneer. "Oh, sure, yeah, I totally did that. It's not like the ice was sitting out for everyone to use, so anyone could've taken some and gotten sick." His grin shifted into a smirk. "Oh. Wait. It was. And no one got sick except from the cider. Whoops. Guess that means I didn't do it!"

“Now Ah know yer lyin’!” Applejack thundered. “Ah can smell it all over you. Ah'll bet all the trees on mah farm that you dumped the drugged ice into the cider when we were all scramblin' to get our swimsuits! It was the only time Pinkie Pie and Twilight weren't lookin'!"

"It's true!" Pinkie Pie admitted with a shrug and a smile.

"Ah, I wouldn't call it the only time I wasn't looking," Twilight said, blushing and looking away as she held a hand to the back of her head.

"But, why did he put ice in our drinks, then, if he already spiked the cider?" Fluttershy asked.

I raised a single finger. "So he could get away with filling his own cup with ice. I only saw him pour one cup. I'll bet his own was full of just ice, so he could pretend to drink cider when he really wasn't. Then it'd melt in his cup while he was gone, so if anyone checked, it'd look like there was still cider in it."

Apple Bloom jumped in, "Then that means Sweetie Belle was right! You knew the cider was bad, you didn’t drink any, and you just faked bein’ sick so you could go kill Wallflower instead!”

His face twisting up in rage, Timber slammed a fist down on his podium so hard the wood cracked, his Monopad clattering to the floor. "Stop accusing me of something I didn't do, man! All you got on me is a bunch of bullshit about drugged ice and a receipt about a backpack! What, are you gonna say I wrote the note, too?"

“Actually dude, that note? It sounds exactly like something you’d write,” Flash pointed out.

“Yeah, I agree,” I said.

The third person sitting nearby was a gangly looking guy with darkish skin, wearing a beanie atop a head full of green hair. Unlike them he was sporting a short sleeved red t-shirt lined with white trimming and a symbol of a sun between two green mountains, a dock, and a puddle of blue water, alongside a pair of khaki cargo shorts and practical brown steel-toed boots. He flashed us a cocky grin and flicked both hands at us like they were a pair of revolvers. “Hey there,” he said, waggling his eyebrows.
“Yup, you got it AJ. Timber Spruce, counselor from Camp Everfree, at your service.” He stuck out a hand to Rarity. “Let me know if I can do anything to help.”

Rarity’s lips puckered up like she’d just bit into a lemon. “Of course, of course,” she said with the quickest handshake I’ve ever seen.
Rarity emerged from the promenade passageway, a load of fabric streamers in her hand.“Well, if you’re finished with that, darlings, would you be willing to help a lady with something else?”

“For a lady? Anything,” Timber said with a waggle of his eyebrows and a wink.

“Dude, seriously?” Flash groaned, facepalming.

“You might think you’re charming, Timber,” I said with a sneer, “But you’re really not. You’re just kinda skeevy.”

“No class at all, darling. And believe me, I should know,” Rarity said.

Pulling at his collar, Timber let out a loud snort. "But you just said a few minutes ago that whoever had an arts and crafts kit wouldn't need to make it out of the first aid kit wrappers. And I had a kit! Remember, Twilight?" He tapped on his Monopad and brought up a clue. "You bought one for me."

Fact #12: Shop Receipts: “TS@ OS: Tue1622: Deluxe arts & crafts kit x 2.”

"It's true," Twilight said with a frown. "I did. But I only did it because you asked me too. Remember? When I came to find Scootaloo for Sunset so we could get her help in examining the vent. You stopped me to speak with me, and asked me to get a kit for you because I’d already been in the store and knew where they were.”

“Oh yeah! That’s right!” Scootaloo said! “And you got me one too, since you were already doing it. Which I really appreciated, thank you!”

“Sure, no problem,” Twilight shrugged.

"See?" Timber said, his demeanor relaxing just a skosh. "If I had that, why would I use the wrappers?"

"To hide what medicines you used, duh!" Sweetie Belle said, slapping a hand to her head. "That's why you destroyed the first aid kit. You were hiding evidence and trying to invent an excuse at the same time."

"And, unlike Diamond Tiara," I added, "You don't have an ego that'd force you to make something fancier looking, so you wouldn't care about the aesthetics of the note. You'd make what you needed and leave it at that."

Timber's eyes flashed with rage. “Who gives a shit about the note, huh?!” he shouted, slamming both fists repeatedly on his podium. “Fuck the note! No one cares about the note! That still isn’t proof! You don’t got shit on me!”

Adagio let out a low laugh that rose and rose, a sinister laugh that both chilled me to the bone and somehow left me feeling flushed with heat at the same time. “Your attitude isn’t helping your case one bit, Timber,” she said.

His face turned beet red as he shook his fists wildly in Adagio's direction, letting out a wordless roar of frustration. Then he heaved a sigh, let go, and relaxed. “Okay, fine, fine. This is all fine. Everything’s fine,” he muttered. “You still haven’t proven anything. What are you suggesting I did with the backpack? Hmm? Got an explanation for that?”

I rolled my eyes. “Please. We already figured out that you cut up the backpack to use for the rope. It’s kind of genius, actually. I never would’ve considered it if we hadn’t found traces of the nylon used.”

“It’s true,” Trixie said. “Such ingenuity is impressive to Trixie! Used for an appalling purpose, yes, but still! Trixie is impressed.”

“Uh huh. Sure I did. How?” Timber held up his hands with a quiet little bark of a laugh. “How was I supposed to do that? With what tools? I didn’t have anything that could do that.”

“Actually, you did,” Twilight said. "You just admitted to having an arts and crafts kit, and that's all you'd need."

“Wait, Trixie doesn’t understand. How does that explain what he used?” Trixie said, scratching her head.

“It’s because of what was in the kit,” I replied.

“It does look like a whole bunch of people bought arts and crafts kits, though. Now I’m curious. What was in those, anyway?”

Twilight shrugged. “Just a lot of basic things. Construction paper, colored pencils, shears, markers, popsicle sticks, scotch tape, beads, superglue, crayons, tissue pap--”

“Twilight didn’t get to finish describing it, but she didn’t need to,” I said. “She already listed what you needed. Shears, superglue, and tape.”

Timber’s face burst out into a cold sweat as he started shaking. “Okay fine! I had tools! So what? That doesn’t mean I used them to tear up my backpack. Who even does that? Who could come up with something like that?”

“Someone who’s trained in survival techniques, to use what materials they have for what they need,” I replied straight away. “Someone like a camp counselor for Camp Everfree.”

“Ah admit, Ah’m not sure a backpack’s the first thing Ah’d look to if Ah needed to make a rope, but it sure would work in a pinch if it’s what Ah had,” Applejack said. “Ah doubt it would hold up for many uses, but it wouldn’t have to. You’d just need it to tie her up and fake her bein’ strangled."

“And you’ve been playing dumb this whole trial,” I added, “because you were trying to throw us off thinking you could come up with everything you did.”

“Yeah-huh! But it’s just like I said before!” Pinkie agreed, taking two fingers and pointing them at her head. “Just because someone’s different doesn’t mean they’re not smart!”

“No!” Timber screamed, pounding his fists on his podium once, twice, three times. “No, no, no! This is stupid! You still haven’t proven a damned thing! How was I supposed to do any of this? What, you think I just clubbed Wallflower over the head or something?!”

No one responded at first, several people facepalming. “Hoo boy, this is gettin’ sad,” Apple Bloom said.

“Seriously,” I pointed out. “All you had to do was give Wallflower something with sleeping drugs in it. The very first piece of evidence we got confirms that!”

Fact #1: Monoponi File I: “The victim is Wallflower Blush, the Ultimate Nobody. The time of death is estimated as being between 8:00 PM and 3:00 AM. The victim shows signs of multiple injuries to the stomach, neck, and throat. There are also traces of sleeping medicine in her system.”

“You could have easily obtained a sleeping drug from the first aid kit,” Twilight said with a nod. “I realized that during the investigation. One of the medicines in the kit is zolpidem, which is the generic for Ambien, a popular sleep aid. It’s pretty strong, and if you used enough you could easily knock someone unconscious with it.”

“Gotta have plenty for that big brain of yours I guess,” I shrugged as I popped open the case. To my surprise it was loaded with supplies, far more than I’d usually see in a typical first aid kit. Apart from the usual selection of bandages, antibacterial and burn ointments, and pain relievers, there were all kinds of other drugs available, a lot in bottles labeled with generic names like zolpidem and bupropion, things I didn’t recognize. There was even a large vial of morphine and matching syringe.

“Oh! I suppose that explains the water stain, then!” Rarity said, snapping her fingers. “Of course!”

Fact #10: Water Stain: “The Lover’s Corner alcove contained a large water stain on its carpet, along with a plastic bottle cap and a note.”

“You put sleeping medicine in a bottle of water and gave it to Wallflower, then when she drank it and fell unconscious, she dropped the bottle and it spilled everywhere! You may have disposed of the bottle, but you missed the cap, darling.”

“Oh yeah?!” Timber snorted, snatched his Monopad up from the floor and plugged it back in. “Maybe you did that and you’re just trying to blame it on me!” He said as he punched up evidence of his own.

Fact #12: Shop Receipts: “ RB@RX: Tue1047: Melatonin, Ibuprofen.”

Twilight sighed, slapping her forehead with a groan. “Oh come on. Melatonin can help you sleep, yes, but it’s a natural hormone your body produces. It’s not a sedative. You can’t force someone unconscious with it.”

“And besides, we already proved, several times, that Rarity had neither the means nor the opportunity to kill Wallflower,” I added.

“Hah… hahaha…” Timber gripped the sides of his head, shaking it furiously. “Hahahaha! AHAHAHAHA!” He started ripping and tearing at his hair. “Hahahaha! I c-can’t believe this. Y-you’re still trying to a-accuse me, haha…” He suddenly let go of his hair and slammed his podium so hard pieces of wood went flying. “Bullshit! It’s all bullshit! I won’t accept it! I refuse to believe it! I was sick, damn it! I was sick! The cider made me sick! You can’t prove a goddamned thing!”

Here we go. This is it, I thought, bowing my head and breathing softly, steeling my nerves. This is the end. I just have to prove it, once and for all.

Timber thrust out a finger at me. “You’re saying I killed Wallflower, huh?! That I somehow ripped up a backpack, and turned it into rope?!” He burst into laughter again, tearing at his hair. “Are you for real? Do you know how stupid that is? You can’t prove that!”

“Maybe we can’t prove that you used a makeshift rope from a backpack, but we know the rope used was nylon! We already proved that!” I shot back. “And you were the only one with the right kind of nylon!”

“So what?! That doesn’t prove anything!” Timber slammed a fist down on his podium several times. “Whoever killed Wallflower gave her drugs! You can’t prove I did that!”

“No, but you had just as much opportunity as anyone except myself to steal Adagio’s first aid kit.” I crossed my arms, refusing to back down. “And with your first aid knowledge as a camp counselor you’d have no problem reading medicine labels to figure out what you’d need, and you’d have the anatomical knowledge to know how to damage a brain stem!”

Timber reeled back as if I’d punched him in the face, even holding up a hand to his cheek as if the force of my words themselves stung. His eyes blazed with mad fury as he slammed his fist on his podium once again, then pointed right at me like he was aiming a gun.

“But you can’t prove that! And you can’t prove I wrote that note either, god damn it! You can’t prove anything!”

I shook my head sadly. “Maybe I can’t prove that you wrote the note, but you had the tools, and if you stole the first aid kit, you’d have the materials too. And the way the note was written matches the way you’ve been acting towards all the women here! It all makes sense!”

“No, you stupid goddamned moron! No it fucking doesn’t!” He ranted, spittle flying from his mouth. He burst into mad laughter once more, tore at his hair, then said, “Even if I could’ve made the rope… even if I could’ve figured out how to drug Wallflower… and even if, even if I could’ve written that note… It’s all impossible! Impossible, damn it! I was sick from the cider, remember?! And there’s nothing you can say to prove otherwise!”

YOU’VE GOT THAT WRONG!” I roared, punching up my final bit of evidence.

Fact #6: Timber’s Account: “According to Timber Spruce, he spent forty-five minutes in the bathroom, with some of that time spent on cleanup, using cleaning chemicals and air freshener. Rainbow Dash corroborated his account, stating the men’s room was spotless and stank of air freshener, but she spent some time spraying cleaner anyway to be safe.”

“You told me yourself, Timber! You claimed you only tried to clean up the bathroom a little, meaning you might have missed something. But Rainbow Dash said it was spotless! As in, it wasn’t dirty at all! And given that you were supposedly sick from both ipecac and laxatives? That’s just. Not. Possible!” I thrust out my finger at him accusingly, putting the full force of every bit of my personality into my words. “You were faking being sick the whole time! Face it! You did it, Timber Spruce! You. Killed. Wallflower!”

Timber gripped both sides of his head once more, reared back and let out an earth shattering roar of, “No, no no nonononononononononononnononononononnonononononoooo!” He burst into great messy tears and fell over on his rump. “God, please… no… Gloriosa… I’m sorry…I’m so sorry...” he wept.

I didn’t know what to feel, while watching him break down. Triumph, maybe? Victory? I wasn’t really feeling anything at all, except glad. Glad we’d finally figured things out. Well, that and curious. Who the heck's Gloriosa?

Rarity peered over at the sobbing mess that was Timber now, tears of her own beginning to brim from the corners of her eyes. “I… I think you’ve broken him, darling,” she said quietly.

Pinkie Pie’s curls burst like a popped balloon. “So… so he did it? It really was Timber?”

“It had to be, right?” Sweetie Belle said. “Nothing else makes sense now.”

“Wow. Ah still can’t believe it,” Apple Bloom said sadly.

“Trixie is still a bit confused,” Trixie said, scratching her head. “Sunset, would you be willing to lay out the case for us one more time? For Trixie’s sake.”

“Yes, please,” Scootaloo agreed, nodding with uncertainty as she glanced back and forth between me and the weeping Timber.”

I nodded, taking a shaky breath. “Yeah, okay. I can do that.” I took a moment to collect my thoughts, and then began: This is how it all went down!

“This all started two days ago, when Monoponi presented the motive of our lost memories. The culprit was told, like the rest of us, that one of us was responsible for stealing their memories. This was enough to prompt the culprit to begin their plan. They first went to the sporting goods store, where they purchased a crucial item, a fabric backpack, specifically made from ballistic nylon. Right afterwards, Pinkie Pie presented her suggestion of a party, which provided the perfect opportunity for the murder. Wallflower was probably chosen as the culprit’s victim because she kept isolating herself, making her easy to separate from the rest of us.

“Once they decided upon their plan, the culprit needed several additional tools. They obtained shears, tape, and superglue from an arts and crafts kit, which they asked Twilight to purchase for them, to disguise their true intentions. Then they waited for a chance to steal the medical supplies they needed from Adagio Dazzle. That chance came Wednesday morning, when I slept in, in the process driving everyone else to search for me across the ship, thinking I was dead. During the chaos, the culprit swiped the first aid kit, returned to their cabin, and set about with the rest of their plan.

“First, they crafted a love note, to drop off at Wallflower’s cabin. They told Wallflower to meet them at the Lover’s Corner, right off the promenade, which they needed access to for their plan. Presumably they slipped the note under her door. They used wrappers from the first aid kit to craft the note, which had the added effect of destroying the first aid kit, in an attempt to disguise which drugs they used.

"Second, using the Sushi King freezer, they prepared ice laced with ipecac and laxatives, to mix in with store-bought ice at the party.

“Third, using the arts and crafts tools, they ripped up the nylon backpack, to turn it into ropes for binding Wallflower’s wrists and ankles. The ropes wouldn’t be very durable, but they didn’t need to be. They just had to work once.

“Finally, they readied a drink for Wallflower, dosing it with enough sleeping medication to ensure she’d fall unconscious quickly.

“With all of this prepared, they were ready to attend the party. While everyone else was occupied with swimsuit gathering, the culprit took the free chance to dump the poisoned ice into the cider. Then, right after the music stopped, at 10:00 PM, they gathered cider for their table, while filling their own cup with only ice, and pretended to drink along with the others. At 10:15, they pretended to run for the bathroom, just as Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy, and Diamond Tiara had to do for real.

“While the others were in the bathroom, and the rest of us were occupied by the party, the culprit met up with Wallflower in the Lover’s Corner. They gave Wallflower the drugged drink, which presumably Wallflower took a drink from straight away. It was potent enough that Wallflower fell unconscious almost immediately, spilling the rest of the drink in the process.

“The culprit then bound Wallflower by hand and foot, to prevent her from escaping should she wake up. These bonds were tight enough to leave definitive marks. They quickly dragged her to the Sushi King restaurant kitchen, their chosen murder site. Once inside, they laid her body out in the janitor’s sink, then obtained some ice from the freezer. Using the ice, they swiftly dealt damage to the inside of her throat, damaging her brain stem and inflicting a fatal blow. Then, once Wallflower was dead, they enacted the coverup portion of their plan.

“Using the sink, they soaked her body, to make it appear as if she drowned. Then they placed her body on a dining cart, and used their makeshift ropes around her neck to leave marks, to fake her being strangled. They then took a cleaver from the knife set in the kitchen, and impaled Wallflower in the stomach with it, to fake a death via stabbing. Finally, they took the remnants of the first aid kit and shoved far into the vent in the Sushi King freezer, to hide the evidence. They then replaced the vent cover and bag of ice to hide the vent, not knowing that three of us already knew it existed.

Then they returned to the bathroom, in time to pretend to exit along with the others, as if they’d been sick all along. They pretended to be sick for the rest of the night. Once the party was over, they presumably snuck back to the Sushi King kitchen and rolled Wallflower’s body out onto the promenade proper, so we could discover it in the morning. The next morning, before arriving on the scene with the rest of us, they deliberately dosed themself with leftover ipecac syrup, so they could continue their sick act.

There’s only one person who had the knowledge and the opportunity to pull this murder off, without anyone noticing they were missing from the bathrooms. Isn’t that right, Timber Spruce, the Ultimate Camp Counselor?”

I wasn’t sure why I felt the need to throw in the fake Ultimate title Monoponi had slapped on him. Maybe it just didn’t feel right to finish without it. Timber, his reaction...all Timber could do was sit there and weep. Everyone stared at him as he cried, not saying a word. Finally, after what felt like hours, Timber got up from his sitting position, took off his backpack, and promptly dumped the contents onto his podium: a pair of makeshift nylon ropes, and three bottles of medicine. Ipecac syrup, powdered laxative, and zolpidem.

“Yeah.” Timber said, his voice hollow. His eyes were like two empty, gaping holes to an endless abyss. His movements were jerky, forced, like he’d lost all energy. “Yeah, I did it. I killed Wallflower Blush.”

Author's Note:

So, now you know. I intend to go into more details on my blog about this, but I spent a great deal of effort crafting this mystery with the intention of implying the culprit focused on covering up and/or mystifying the wrong things. Like Wallflower, Timber wasn't intended to be a surprise first blackened. You'll see a bit more of why in the next part. Congratulations to everyone who guessed Timber, and especially witegrlninja and J Carp for coming pretty close to the methods used, too!

I'm quite proud of my version of the Argument Armament. It's like a larger, more detailed version of the Rebuttal Showdown, exactly like how I'd picture something like this playing out in reality. Ultimately the Argument Armament, like the versions that came in THH and GD is just the protagonist using one final, undeniable piece of evidence to shatter the culprit's will. Which is what Sunset did here.

Also, a fun bit of insight into my process of writing these cases: I always write the closing argument first. I wrote the first version of it in a notebook before I even started on Chapter One, and am doing similar things for the other chapters as well. Granted, they go through rewrites, through revisions, etc, but it helps more than anything else in being able to write the rest of the Chapter. By having it all together in one place, you can then strip out every last bit you want to chuck around as hints, whether it's in the obvious sense in the facts/truth bullets, or the non-obvious sense through the snippets of dialogue or scenes that get referenced.

Satuday: Post-trial and epilogue.

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