It was, approximately, the middle of the night, and Sylvi couldn't sleep. Not for lack of trying, but it'd been three days since she'd had so much as a swallow of water. Even accounting for the time dilation, that was too long. Her mouth was so dry, and her head was pounding...
She turned to look at the sleeping boy curled up by her side. And that's just how I feel. Fran must have it so much worse, with his condition...
The masterminds had made their ultimatum: no food or water for anyone until there was a murder.
... we're marching inevitably to the point where someone drops. And... if I'm honest with myself, it's likely to be Fran who goes first.
... What can we do about it?
I promised I wouldn't become a murderer. I won't put Fran through that. Nor Knife, Jordan, Custard, Geek, Pika, Kai... Moon. Sylvi thought that last name with some distinct hesitancy. But she still didn't want Moon to suffer, even after as infuriating as they had been lately.
So what can we do?
... I'm going to take a walk.
And so the catgirl quietly slipped away.
Fran cracked an eyelid. He didn't know where the Tempests were going or why, but... as long as he got back before they did, all would be well.
... why are we on the floor?
I think we passed out from thirst.
Ugh. I'll be glad when this is over, at least.
She barely made it to the front door of the library. I don't strictly need to go inside, do I?
She slumped down in front of the door, exhausted.
It wasn't long until someone showed up, carrying a fountain pen.
"... Knife, really?"
"... Someone's gotta."
"... If you're here for Moon... I swore I wouldn't let them die."
Knife and Sylvi stared each other down for what felt like an eternity.
"A body has been discovered! Report to the library immediately!"
Fran looked around the art exhibit blearily, slowly realizing to his great dismay that the Tempests were nowhere in sight. "... Surely not...?" He struggled to his feet. "They must've woken up early, that's all..."
But as he reached the library, his worst fears were confirmed. Their feline form lay slumped against the front door of the library, a fountain pen jammed in their neck.
"But why were the Tempests here in the first place?" he heard Pika ask.
"The pen has Knife's name on it," Heather said. "So it was either Knife or someone really keen on framing Knife in particular. ... Honestly not sure which is more plausible."
"For that matter, why was the killer out here?" Pika continued. "Everyone knew Moon was offering themself up as a sacrifice. Going after them would've been too obvious."
"Unless the killer wanted to be caught," Knife said.
Pika gave Knife a curious look. "... Maybe, but then why and how did the Tempests get involved? Last I knew, they were attaching themselves to Fran in the art exhibit."
"Check this out," Kai interrupted, examining the body. "Is it just me, or are they showing zero signs of struggle?"
"... They cooperated with the killer," Pika said. "To... spare Moon, most likely."
"Where the hell is Moon, anyway?" Knife asked.
"Crucified inside the library, last I saw," Heather said. She opened the door to check -
"Attention all guests! A second body has been discovered!"
Nobody needed to ask Monowumpus to elaborate. They could all see Moon's battered and bloody form, still hanging from the wall.
"Knife's confessed to killing the Tempests, but we still don't know what happened to Moon..."
"Wasn't me," Knife said. "I was gonna, but Sylvi insisted I do her instead. Said she made a promise, too, and, well, I couldn't say no to that. I never even went into the library until Heather opened the door this morning."
"Why were you going to kill Moon?" Pika asked. "They were way too obvious of a target."
"That's why I picked Moon at first. Like I said, I wanted to be caught. Unlike, apparently, the one who actually killed them..."
"I've been thinking about Moon's cause of death," Custard said. "They bled out after being beaten, right? But we never found a weapon. Maybe the killer just used their fists?"
"... Moon was still alive when I left them," Fran muttered.
He took off his gloves to reveal bruised and scraped knuckles.
"Wait, was that anonymous message you?" Heather exclaimed.
"You got one too, Heather?" Knife said, sounding incredulous. "That explains a lot. I was told Moon had been alone, but I didn't know why. Only even wondered for a second - too relieved to be able to kill Moon instead of someone else, I guess. Still, didn't expect to find the Tempests there instead."
"They weren't supposed to be there," Fran said. "Ugh, I should've checked, I knew they'd left the exhibit... I did this for their sake, and they went and sacrificed themselves..."
"Funny, they said the same thing," Knife interjected. "And by 'funny' I of course mean 'incredibly fucking tragic'. A real Gift of the Magi plot, here. Just with murder. But hey, at least you get one thing you want, Fran — Moon's dead, and I'm getting executed."
"I didn't want this at all... I didn't want any of this -"
He was in a cave somewhere. It was too dark for him to figure out much more, but he could just barely see a light in the distance, so he pressed on.
When he got close enough to see what the light source was, he wished he hadn't.
The forgiven deception readies Self-Destruct.