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Analysis: System Restore
Note: This article contains spoilers about Chapter 2's murder.

Chapter 7: Sonia As The Culprit

by CarthagoDelenda

This is a repost of an ask I answered here. The question in a nutshell - "Why did you make Sonia the Chapter 2 culprit?" (Unmarked SR spoilers and full-game SDR 2 spoilers ahead.)

Short answer: I needed a different killer and of the people I didn’t already have plans for no one else really fit and things kind of snowballed from there. I also wanted to explore some of the darker sides of her character, though I’m still not entirely sure I did it right. I’m rereading SDR 2 at the moment so if I encounter something I want to incorporate I’ll do another revision.

Long answer:

My original plan was to make Chapter 2’s murder exactly the same as in canon, just delayed by three days, but my boyfriend suggested that it would be much more interesting if I changed the murder up a bit. I knew it still had to be something to do with the events of Twilight Syndrome - so something having to do with Kuzuryuu, Peko, and Koizumi - and from there it was an easy logical leap to Peko being the victim this time around - witnessed in the act of playing the game and in plotting to kill Koizumi, someone would kill her to prevent her from doing so.

But then there was the question of who would kill her. Koizumi killing her seemed too obvious and also way OOC - Koizumi believes revenge is wrong, those are basically her last words in canon. I think if she’d seen Peko and Kuzuryuu playing the game she would’ve revealed them to the group right away. Saionji was another possibility - killing Peko or Kuzuryuu to save and/or avenge Koizumi - but the same “she’s either ending her own life or Koizumi’s” conundrum comes up, and I don’t think Saionji would actively seek a way to kill to leave - if she had, she would’ve done it in canon, and her attachment to Koizumi is much, much stronger than Sonia’s was. Also I like the way that dynamic is going. I like that Koizumi has someone she can depend on.

Taking out everyone else that I either needed later or knew beyond a shadow of a doubt wouldn’t kill at this time, I had four options left - Souda, Akane, Gundam, or Sonia. But I think while Akane might’ve beaten the two of them to a bloody pulp she would know better than to go for the kill, Souda would be more likely to go to Twogami (man it’s weird to refer to them as that in the context of SR), and Gundam, while he is a canon killer, killed under very different circumstances and probably wouldn’t be spurred to that kind of action as easily in this situation. So that left me with Sonia - and believe me, I resisted the choice at first, but then everything started falling into place around her (not to mention encouragement from my boyfriend again) and I saw that having her kill was the best way to go.

I knew it would be a risky move. Sonia’s a very popular character, and she’s an endgame survivor so we have a lot of material to draw on for her, but at the same time I think people are almost too confident in their ability to believe they understand her completely. And that is in no way a claim that I do - I don’t even know if I ever will. But there is a darker side of her character that I think a lot of people gloss over - she’s lighthearted a lot of the time, but when she needs to be, as she often does in canon, she’s more than prepared to act in the way she feels she must. She’s preparing to be the ruler of a country, after all, and she’s quite aware of the mistakes that have led other countries to ruin. She may be pretty naïve about pop culture but that doesn’t mean she’s an airhead or a “must not fight” kind of girl.

Side note before we go on, I feel like when people think that it’s unbelievable for Sonia to kill they think of this quote:

“It might have been different were this my own country, but for me, this is a foreign land. I do not plan on killing anyone… nor have I any interest in meekly being killed!”

Which is why I referenced it in the story itself. I think people sometimes forget the context of her cryptically saying that it would be different in her country. One interpretation could very well be that Sonia fully believes herself capable of killing in the correct situation. (Remember that everyone in Novoselic has military training.) I’m not sure what it being a foreign land has to do with it, but I imagine she has a great amount of respect for Japan and the Japanese as her hosts and that that might have something to do with it.

Also don’t forget that she DID become SHSL Despair and also has several crimes against humanity under her belt. This has no bearing on her behavior in SR of course, but we DO know for a fact she’s capable of killing overall.

Anyway, now we get to the story beats and why I had her act the way she did. (And this is regarding the revised version - I made her way too cold in the original, I acknowledge.) A lot of it rides on her interpretation of revenge - which I think comes through two lenses, her pop culture exposure and her knowledge of international relations. She figured the damage had been done, and saw killing Pekoyama as eliminating some of the damage.

Though I’m not sure how much personal investment she had in Koizumi. Certainly she liked her, but she probably had more to do with Sonia judging her as more innocent than Peko. It was more the behavior of a ruler looking to pacify subjects, though I can tell she did it with much reluctance and fear. And that’s the way the two sides of her interact. She knows she has this responsibility, but she also has trouble steeling herself to the difficulties that come with it.

As for why she ever intended to leave the island? I could cite this quote from her fourth free time, though it comes on more strongly than my story did:

“Needless to say… my life is the property of my country and its citizens. If I die, it will only be for my country and its people. If I die here… it means that this would be have some meaning to my country and its citizens. Therefore… I am not afraid of death. To me who was born into this world as a princess, I will not have a meaningless death.”

But I could also cite the story itself, as it kind of reflects her wisdom:

“Then there are concerns out there that I had to consider as well,” Sonia went on. “My country, my people… but returning to them would mean killing all of you! It was another difficult decision, one which I could not live with myself with if I had chosen one over the other…so in this case, I did believe that inaction was best. I decided neither to help nor hinder the investigation. I left my fate up to you all…although, looking back, I don’t think I really had any doubt you’d solve this.”

Overall, I think the scene works because it shows Sonia thrust into a difficult situation that she took it upon her own sense of politics to solve - largely because she didn’t trust Twogami to make the safest decision based on her (perhaps incorrect?) knowledge of the situation. That’s all I can think of to say for now, but if there’s anything else I need to explain, let me know.
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