"You shouldn't tell lies, Sato-san. If anyone here were to contact the police department and get the report from that day, they would know that the whole incident was a complete misunderstanding. You yourself testified in the report that it was all an accident that resulted from a silly prank. If you're not careful, Karma might come back to bite you.” I said.
“If that’s the case then why did you not bring the police report with you? Seems to me you’re just hoping everyone takes your word at face value. I feel confident in saying that all the wonderful and hard working students of this school know that I am a woman of integrity.” Sato responded.
I pulled the flash drive out of my pocket and held it up for the audience to see. I got a mischievous grin on my face.
“I don’t need a police report with what I have here in my hand. I think this is something all the students of this school should see... Could someone please play this over the projector?"
I walked off stage for a moment and handed it to a stagehand who plugged it into the computer attached to the projector. He gave me a confused look.
“Uh… I don’t think I can show images of sexy devil ladies to the entire school.”
“Oh shoot!… Um… I-I’m just holding those for a ‘friend’... Just ignore those and play that video file labeled NUKE_SATO.mp4.”
The stagehand didn’t question me any further, as he pulled up the video. I probably should have checked that flash drive beforehand. If I hadn’t been lucky, that could have been really embarrassing.
I returned next to Sato behind the podium. She looked calm and collected like usual.
On the screen appeared a video of Sato sitting at her desk in the student council room. The video's audio played through the auditorium's speakers.
"I can't believe they actually believe that nonsense that was published about Hako-san. The students at this school are such dumb sheep. They will literally believe anything I say. I can’t wait until that last debate next week. I have some stories about Hako-san that I can easily embellish and I can guarantee everyone will believe it."
The Sato on the screen rolled eyes as she spoke.
"If only I had more power. I'd make this the number one school in Japan in both academics and athletics, even if it meant turning the students' lives into living hells."
She grinned and laughed maniacally, then the short clip ended.
Chatter suddenly broke out in the audience. There were a fair amount of boos toward Sato.
She shook her head.
"I never thought you were someone to go as far as making a fake video, Hako-san. It's obvious that you used A.I. to recreate my voice and deep fake software to create the footage. It's honestly quite impressive, but creepy too." She said, trying to discredit the video.
"You honestly think I'd go that far? This video is definitely real. I think everyone here can see that with their own eyes."
She chuckled a bit.
"I don't know about everyone else, but doesn't the whole thing seem a bit too convenient? The camera angle is directly in front of my desk. It would be very hard to hide a camera there without me noticing. Then there's the fact that no one else is in the video. Why would I be speaking to myself? Not to mention what's being said seems a bit out of character for me."
The crowd began conversing. It seemed like they were split on whether or not the video was real. This continued for a bit until Jo chimed in.
"Well tonight has been full of surprises, but we're running low on time. Let's get closing statements from both of you. How about you go first, Hako-san."
I looked out to the crowd, looking as sincere as I possibly could.
"Tonight, I hope I was able to show everyone who I really am, despite all the false rumors. I truly want to do everything I can to make this school better for everyone.
Some of you might have your doubts about that video I showed, but it's the truth. President Sato isn't the kind of person she makes herself out to be. She's willing to lie and cheat to win this election at all costs.
Anyone who wants an actual change at this school, should vote for me next Tuesday. Good night and stay safe."
I received a fair amount of applause. It seemed like I had resonated with about half of the student body.
Kanna also shouted obnoxiously from the front row.
"That's my future husband!"
Sato was next to give her closing statement. We were still sharing a podium because of the 'technical difficulties' from earlier. She intentionally nudged me aside so she could speak.
"I appreciate all of you for coming tonight. Unfortunately there was a lot more mud slinging in this debate than I would have liked.
It really saddens me that Kuro-san has stooped to the level he has. At one time I thought of him as a friend, but it seems he's a dishonest man with no integrity. I have faith that all of you can see that his video is fake.
On election day next week I hope you all remember everything we've achieved together as a school and vote to reelect me. I hope you all have a lovely rest of your night."
She gave the audience a wave as they cheered. To my surprise, it seemed as though the crowd was split. It was likely that this election was going to come down to whether or not a majority of students believed that my video of Sato was real.
I had to give one thing to Sato, she doesn't go down without a fight. Even when presented with indisputable evidence, she somehow managed to deflect and then accuse me exactly of what she's done this whole election.
As both her and I exited the stage, she muttered to me.
"I'm impressed, you actually put up a fight this time. You almost managed to gain my respect."
With that, she diverged from me and departed at the stage's exit.
Ryo and Akari both waited for me backstage.
"Bro, that was savage. She had to play dumb about about that video. I think you got this election in the bag now." Ryo said.
"Ha, my little operation 4d chess plan worked a lot better than I expected. Honestly I wasn't sure if you were going to be able to find anything on her, but you managed to do it... By the way, how did you get that video anyways?" Akari asked.
"Oh that... Let's just say I got it from... A 'little' buddy of mine who wishes to remain anonymous."
"Hmmm. That answer just makes me want to know even more. You're not hiding something important from your smokeshow of a campaign manager, are you?" She teased.
"Yeah dude, I wanna know too. Who is it?" Ryo said.
"I really wish you guys could meet him, but as of now that really isn't possible.”
Overall I had to admit, this debate was a major success for me. Despite not everything going as perfectly as I'd have liked, I think bringing up dirt on each other put us on an even field. In the end this election was probably only going to come down to a handful of votes to determine the winner. We were going to have to push hard these final few days.
It was quite dark by the time I started to make my way home. My walk home was surprisingly quiet and serene…until.
Red popped out of my backpack.
"You're welcome," he said.
"I have to say, thanks to that video, I think I have a shot at winning."
"That's great and all, but I wanted to remind you that you only have a few days left to find a girlfriend if you don't want to explode in front of everyone on Tuesday."
I stopped completely froze as it suddenly dawned on me.
"Shoot!" I exclaimed.
With everything going on, it sort of slipped my mind. I wasn’t any closer to having a girlfriend now than I was a month ago.
"T-there's got to be something I can do...I don't want to die." I stammered
"That was the deal we made, Kuro. You need to find a girlfriend by the end of this election and the feelings have to be mutual between the two of you. You just coercing some random girl to date you isn't going to cut it."
I felt panic take over me, as I dropped to my knees.
"Please Red, is there some way you can give me more time? There's no way I can find anyone in this amount of time. I took your offer initially because I didn't think it would be as hard as it was to get a girl to like me, but I just kept hitting one road block after another… and not to mention that all the girls in my life are all insane." I begged him.
"Your time limit is when the election ends, that's what we agreed on. I can't gi-...”
He paused for a moment, as if he had an idea.
“…Actually there might be a way to buy you some more time, but it might be risky."
"Tell me. I'll consider anything at this point."
"Alright, all you have to do is just prevent the election from ending. We just need to figure out how we can delay the results for as long as we need."
I stood up and took a deep breath before answering Red.
"Let's do it." I said boldly, knowing I was out of options.
Trusting a devil is what got me into this situation in the first place and now I was going to have to trust a devil again to get me out of it. I was going to have to stop this election at all costs next Tuesday or else Red really would be sweeping up my ashes.