It was Junko’s idea. None of them had even heard of the place before. Hope’s Peak Park… Named after, and funded by, their school of the same name. According to the fashionista, it had the highest quality rides and games in the entire country. Which made it all the more confusing as to why none of them had known what it was.
At half past noon, the sixteen students of class 78 stood before the front gates. Bright signs and loud screams welcomed them into the new amusement park. The normal sights, sounds, and smells surrounded them as they all entered using the free one-day passes Junko had provided them. A gift from the headmaster, she said. What was strange was the lack of people for such a “famous” park, according to Junko. Even stranger, though, was the masks that all of the park-goers wore. They were of a bear, half-white and half-black with a jagged red line for an eye on one side.
They were all able to ignore it, however. They just wanted to have fun on a day off from the stressful classes of Hope’s Peak Academy.
Chihiro didn’t like rollercoasters. He wouldn’t call it a phobia, since he didn’t run away at the sight of one, but he had to admit he was a little terrified when he saw the giant, sprawling track of “Execution”. Why did it have to have such a scary name anyways? A blue and white sign in front of its line boasted its height of 100 meters. Chihiro swallowed the lump that formed in his throat.
“Come on, Chihiro! I wanna get on before it goes off again!” Mondo shouted over his shoulder as he walked into the queue. Taka was close behind him, but Leon was nowhere in sight. He probably ran ahead to beat the others onto the ride. Chihiro wondered why he let his friends convince him to come on the ride, but hurried to catch up anyways.
The man sitting at the end of the long, fenced queue gave Mondo and Taka bored looks as they walked past, climbing up a short set of stairs to the coaster’s cars. But when Chihiro tried to pass, an arm shot out in front of him.
“Sorry, no kids allowed,” The man said sluggishly. Before Chihiro could say anything, Mondo stomped back to the two and shoved his face inches away from the worker’s.
“Whaddya mean no kids?” He jabbed a finger towards Chihiro. “He’s not a kid, he’s a high schooler.”
The man was unamused with Mondo’s glare. “Listen, man, she…” He did a double take of Chihiro’s small frame. “I mean… he’s not tall enough.” He pointed to his side, where a stick measured the minimum height for the ride.
Mondo scowled before grabbing Chihiro by the shoulders, and placing him next to the measuring stick. Sure enough, his height didn’t meet the minimum by only a few centimeters. Mondo’s scowl only grew as the worker let a grin appear on his face. “See?” He said matter-of-factly. Chihiro noticed a red tinge color Mondo’s face, a telltale sign of his overwhelming anger about to explode.
“Let us ride, you son of a-” Before Mondo could finish his sentence, Chihiro grabbed his wrist. The biker’s mouth froze open in its frown. He looked down to his much shorter friend, who looked back up with wide eyes. Although Chihiro tried his best, he couldn’t keep the tears from filling his eyes. He hated confrontation even more than he did heights.
Mondo growled under his breath as he gave up the fight, something he didn’t often do. “Alright, Chihiro, let’s find something to do with less jerks around.” He didn’t pull his arm away from the other’s small hands, even when they were far away from the stubborn worker. Chihiro looked up to his face. That was strange. Even though Mondo had calmed down, the red color hadn’t disappeared from his face. His attention was torn away by the shouts of Taka and Leon behind them, as the worker wouldn’t let them leave the line.
A worker dressed in torn clothes and cheap green face paint popped out from around a corner, scaring neither of the visitors. For a horror attraction called “The House of Despair”, it sure wasn’t scary. Although… Despair was a fitting name. It made Byakuya and Celestia despair for the future of haunted houses, if this was the direction they were headed in.
Byakuya laughed in the face of the next “zombie” that tried to scare him. Celestia shot another “ghost” a dirty look as its hands nearly touched her intricate dress. They both sighed as they continued down another dark hallway. Neon glow-in-the-dark bats and spiderwebs hung from the ceiling.
“I thought this was supposed to be frightening,” Celestia remarked without emotion.
“I thought the same,” Byakuya said. “This is the most disappointing thing I’ve seen all week. A feat, considering our classmates.” Celestia chuckled quietly from his side. The next scare, a “vampire”, didn’t even try. He groaned a “boo” before retreating back to his cardboard-box coffin.
After a few more minutes of despairful boredom, a scream erupted from behind the duo. They both snapped around to see Hifumi, squealing like a pig, running from a “witch”, and Toko behind him, yelling at him to calm down. Byakuya and Celestia shared a cringing look.
“I take back my words. That is terrifying,” Byakuya spat. Celestia didn’t need an explanation to know who he was talking about. They picked up their pace, striding through actor after actor to the exit.
“I agree,” Celestia said.
Hina’s cheers were deafening as the water coaster’s log-themed car rapidly descended its drop. The swimmer had chosen to sit in the front seat, feeling the full impact of the giant wave which splashed up onto its unfortunate riders. Makoto shielded his face, but was still pummeled into the uncomfortable plastic seat by the strength of the water. He blinked the water out of his eyes and looked around.
In front of him, Hina was laughing her heart out as she wrung out her drenched hair. Of course she would be. This was probably nothing to her. She twisted in her seat to look at Sakura, who sat behind Makoto. Hina couldn’t stop gushing about the ride, and the martial artist didn’t stop her. To Makoto’s left was Yasuhiro. He shivered as he took the jacket off of his shoulders, and whined about the deck of cards he had left in his pockets.To Makoto’s right was Sayaka. When Makoto looked at her, she smiled back.
After the car was stopped in its boarding station, four out of the five riders immediately retrieved their shoes from the small storage box. However, the one who didn’t, Hina, stopped them in their tracks.
“What are you guys doing? We’ve still gotta ride that one!” She shouted as she pointed to another ride across the concrete path. “Flood River” was written using colored wooden boards above its entrance. Everyone groaned, except Sakura. If no one else, at least she could talk some sense into the energetic girl.
“Hina, we rode ‘Drowning Drop’ ten times. Don’t you think we should do some other activities before riding another water ride?” Sakura attempted to reason with her. Turns out, it was no better than trying to reason with a brick wall.
“Why would we do something else when we’re having so much fun?” Hina laughed as she grabbed one of Makoto’s shoes before he could put it on. Before any of the others could argue, Hina had sprinted into line for the other ride. Makoto and Sakura followed with only a short moment of hesitation. Yasuhiro followed more begrudgingly. Sayaka escaped when she saw an opportunity. A smart decision, since the other four came out of the ride even more soaked, and in the case of three of them, miserable, than they had before.
Taka looked away uncomfortably as Leon threw up everything he had eaten that day into the bushes outside of “Execution”. He had barely made it out of the post-ride gift shop. Not that the workers or visitors looked like they would have cared. He had noticed the lack of energy and life in their movements. Strange, he thought, but ignored it.
Taka looked down at the photograph he held in his hands, given to him and Leon by the worker inside. In one seat, tears spilled out of his own terrified eyes. In the seat next to him, Leon was screaming like he was being murdered. Taka shook his head in shame of being seen in such a pitiful state. Then again, with a name like Execution, what did he expect from a roller coaster?
Leon stood up shakily, wiping his mouth with his white sleeve. “Why did…” He held back another round of vomiting. “...that ride have to last so long?” He coughed weakly. Taka looked at his wrist, where his trusty watch always was. The ride had been nearly ten minutes long. Taka wondered if that was truly humane. He would have to research roller coaster laws when he returned home.
Taka hummed as his hawk-like eyes scanned the area around them. Besides a few of the masked visitors, it was quiet. “A better question is where Brother and Chihiro went…” He hummed as he placed a hand to his chin. “Chihiro wasn’t allowed to enter because of his height. So they must have headed to another ride!” Taka pointed a finger to the air. “Leon, let’s search for them so we can ride more rides together!”
“Yeah, okay…” Leon muttered as he split away from his friend, staggering the whole time. As he walked, Taka pondered why the other riders had kept their masks on the entire ride.
“You r-ruined our plan, y-you idiot!” Toko hissed as she walked next to her much larger, and rounder, classmate.
“What do you mean, ‘I ruined it’? I was simply frightened by the attraction. Isn’t that the purpose of a haunted house?” Hifumi frowned. He shivered at the memory of the hag’s face that appeared like a ghost in front of his.
“I-it wasn’t even that s-scary,” Toko mumbled, rolling her eyes. Hifumi shot her a dirty look. “Now we d-don’t even know where t-they went…”
“Well, I know where to look for the wonderful Ms. Ludenberg,” Hifumi puffed out his chest. “Where Togami went, I’m not sure.” Toko blushed at the mention of his name. She had been the one to suggest they follow their crushes into the haunted house. Hifumi was perfectly content with waiting at the exit to escort a (he hoped, frightened) Celestia away, but Toko had insisted her plan was better. It wasn’t, clearly.
“F-fine…” Toko stopped in her tracks. “Don’t f-follow me this time. Leave m-me alone, you c-coward…” With that, Toko rushed off the way they had come.
Hifumi sighed and turned to the buildings around him. Lots of places to eat, from commonplace fast food to old-fashioned diners to Japanese restaurants. There were also a multitude of gift shops… But Hifumi couldn’t stop at any of them now. He headed straight to the arcade, where he was sure his beloved gambler would be spending her time.
Heading straight there, until he saw it… The stunningly beautiful, plump, pink-haired, blue-eyed, and pink-clothed figure of Princess Piggles hung from a hook above a carnival game. A rainbow of balloons were pinned to a wall, with darts lying on the metal surface before it. Hifumi rushed over. It couldn’t be that hard, right…?
After another ten or so rides on Flood River, Sakura had convinced Hina to do something else. She was stubborn as a mule until you found her weakness. And that weakness was donuts. Hina didn’t even bother to dry off before running into the small bakery. She dripped puddles onto the tiled floor as she stared up at the menu. Her eyes shone at the options before her.
Before the donut lover could order everything on the menu, Sakura placed a firm hand on her shoulder. “Since I offered to bring you here, I will pay for what you want,” she said to her best friend. Hina looked up at her like she was a goddess.
Hina quickly spouted out an order: one vanilla glazed, one plain chocolate, one strawberry with sprinkles, one cream filled, one caramel, and one powder sugar. Sakura looked down into her (miraculously still dry) wallet with pity. She hadn’t brought much money, but it would have to do… Sakura handed over the money for the ridiculously overpriced snacks.
Hina quickly took a seat at one of the small tables, her drenched clothes sticking to her skin in a way she was used to after years of swimming. Hina had one donut half-scarfed down before Sakura even sat down besides her. The stronger woman watched her friend with a smile.
Before she knew what was happening, Hina shoved half of a donut against her lips. Sakura raised an eyebrow at her. “What are you doing?” She asked the smaller girl.
“You can have some, you know,” Hina said with her mouth full of the sweet bread. “Since you paid for it and everything…” She took another large bite.
“I do not need it-” Hina shoved harder against her lips.
“I insist you eat it!” Hina grinned. Sakura sighed. She could never resist Hina when she was set on something. Stubborn as a mule… Sakura thought as she was handed part of the donut. She took much smaller bites than the other. She wondered why she felt so warm as she laughed at Hina stuffing another donut into her mouth.
The sun rose to its peak over the amusement park and began to descend, like the roller coasters inside the park did at their climax. Hifumi had watched nearly an hour pass, and hundreds of his coins disappear, without more than three balloons popping. The rules clearly stated five in a row were needed to win a large prize. Hifumi felt sweat roll down his pudgy cheeks as he stared down a yellow balloon that had ignored defeat for far too long. This would be the great Hifumi Yamada’s victory at last!
Until a hand slapped his shoulder, throwing off his aim. The dart hit the wall next to the balloon uselessly. Hifumi trembled with barely contained anger before whipping around to see Yasuhiro grinning at him.
“What’s up, Hifumi?” A soaked Hiro asked.
“Oh, nothing… now that you screwed me up!” Hifumi shouted. Hiro flinched back.
“Woah, sorry dude!” Hiro held his hands up. His brown eyes focused on what was behind Hifumi. “Oh sweet, I love this game!” His expression of shock turned to a smile as he plopped a few coins down on the metal surface in exchange for a few darts.
Hifumi frowned as Hiro picked up a dart and placed it between two fingers. “You don’t understand the difficulty of this! I’ve been trying for hours now… and… I couldn’t…” Hifumi watched in horror as Hiro popped five balloons with ease, even popping two with one dart.
When asked with what prize he wanted, Hiro pointed up to the large prizes. The worker picked a strange goblin-looking creature from between the lovely Princess Piggles and the (in Hifumi’s opinion) ugly bear mascot.
“It’s all about how you hold your wrist!” Hiro laughed as he adjusted Hifumi’s hand to the correct position. “Anyways, good luck! See you later!” Hiro confidently slung an arm around his prize as he walked away, leaving Hifumi frozen in despair.
Sayaka forced her eyes to stay focused ahead. Don’t look at the man next to you, she kept telling herself. Don’t look, don’t look, don’t look… It was hard with how close he was sitting. If not for the metal bar holding her down, she would have jumped off the ride, into the shallow stream which carried their cart through the obnoxiously pink tunnel, and ran for her life.
She winced when a muscular arm wrapped around her narrow shoulders.
“This is nice, isn’t it, Sayaka?” Leon asked with a wide grin plastered on his face. He leaned further into the girl, pressing their shoulders together. He let out a surprised noise when he was shoved off of her.
“I didn’t ask for you to come on here with me,” Sayaka huffed and crossed her arms. “The Tunnel of Love” sounded like such a relaxing ride after being forced by thrill ride after thrill ride by Hina. What she hadn’t expected was Leon coming out of nowhere and insisting on riding with her. Looking back, she wasn’t sure why she agreed.
“Yeah, but it’s like fate or something brought me to you at the right time… right?” Leon had a hopeful look to his eyes. Like a dog, Sayaka thought. She just rolled her eyes in response, and ignored the overly-romantic boy. “Fine, if that’s what you want…”
Sayaka heard shuffling as Leon moved away from her until he was on the opposite end of the pink-colored seat. Sayaka watched at the various sights pass in the gaudy tunnel. First, a heart made out of roses, then, a garden of cherry blossom trees surrounded by suspended lights, and then…
Sayaka did a double take at the two figures. They were incredibly lifelike for this poor amusement park. They stood as still as statues, but Sayaka swore she could see one blink, or the other take a short breath, every couple seconds. One was dressed in a sparkling pink dress that looked similar to one she had worn for a performance once and held a microphone. The other was dressed in a baseball uniform and held a bat and ball of the same sport. Something about their faces… looked eerily similar too.
The figures stayed in Sayaka’s mind until she and Leon exited the ride. His face mirrored hers in a look of “You saw that too, right?”. For whatever reason, Sayaka found herself following the baseball player as they walked through the park together. She wasn’t exactly sure where they were going, but decided it would be more fun to be with someone, even if they were annoying.
Toko had felt her heart nearly beat out of her chest when she saw that familiar blonde hair in the line for “Reaper”. She had cut the rest of the line, with no complaints from the silent crowd, to stand next to her adored Byakuya. When she grabbed his hand and he pulled away, she knew it was his shyness of being so affectionate in public. There was no chance he didn’t like it, though.
Byakuya had also tried to tell her to leave for a few minutes before giving up with a dramatic groan. How sweet of him, worrying that she would be too scared on the ride. But that was why he was with her. She would never be scared when he was with her.
That thought was written out of her mind as soon as the ride began. The entire coaster was located inside a building, which Toko soon learned was pitch-black. Its riders were assaulted with flashing lights, booming sounds, and twists and turns that whipped them around in their seats. Toko had to keep a hand pressed to her face at all times so her glasses didn’t fall into the dark abyss below.
At a particularly sudden drop, Toko grabbed onto Byakuya’s hand. He was as calm as he was in any other situation. He was too still, even, but Toko didn’t care. To her surprise, the heir didn’t pull his hand away. He didn’t even move when she interlaced his fingers with his. Toko felt the fear suddenly melt from her heart as she leaned against the taller boy’s shoulder. For the rest of the ride, she enjoyed the feeling of his comforting presence.
At the flash of an image of blood in one particularly horrifying part of the ride, Toko felt the change coming on before she could even think about trying to stop it. The rest of the ride was filled with maniacal laughter. When the riders exited at the end, Byakuya wondered how in the world he ended up holding the hand of a serial killer. He pulled away, sprinting as fast as he could away from the girl chasing after him.
Makoto glanced up at the sky. It had slowly turned an orange color over the past hour. Their tickets only allowed them to stay until the park closed, so he had to do everything he wanted before the sun set completely. He had just begun to walk towards the line for a smaller roller coaster before a hand gripped his jacket, pulling him backwards.
Makoto nearly let out a scream before a gloved hand covered his mouth. The smell of coffee mixed with lilac perfume could only mean one person. He turned around to meet the violet eyes of Kyoko.
“Kyoko? What were you doing this whole time?” Makoto asked with a smile. But he was quickly hushed by the detective.
“Follow me,” Kyoko said before leading the smaller boy to the center of the park. Makoto asked her questions the whole way, none of which were answered. They stopped at a large tree in the middle of a clearing. Multiple masked park-goers walked past them without a glance.
Kyoko raised a finger to point at a masked man. He was larger and muscular, with a prominent scar on his left bicep. “I questioned him,” Kyoko said plainly.
“I overheard him talking about ‘Despair’. I was already suspicious of those masked people, and this only confirmed my suspicions.” Kyoko turned to face Makoto, staring into his eyes. “Most of what he talked about was of this Despair. But he said one important detail. This amusement park was established by a student at Hope’s Peak Academy. One that they look up to.” She gave him an inquisitive look, like she was waiting for him to say something.
“So… who do you think it is?” Makoto asked carefully.
“Who has been missing this entire time?”
At first, Makoto thought she was referring to himself. Then, he realized, after recounting who he had seen over the course of the day. “Junko… or Mukuro…?” Makoto felt a numbness come over him. What was Kyoko trying to imply? “Which one…”
“I’m not sure if it even is them. It could be a student in another class, for all we know. But it seems odd that Junko would be so insistent about all sixteen of us coming here, to this run-down amusement park that no one has heard of before.
“Why-” Before Makoto could continue, Kyoko beckoned him with a wave of her hand.
“Let’s go find her,” Kyoko said as she stalked away from the tree. Makoto could only chase after her, finding himself caught up in yet another one of Kyoko’s investigations, and being the sidekick.
“Sayaka, Sayaka, look!” Leon gasped excitedly. A basketball hoop, surrounded by stuffed animals and other prizes, stood next to a small western-themed restaurant. Leon ran over and handed a dollar to the worker, who pointed to a cart holding five basketballs. Leon quickly grabbed one, spinning it in his hands.
“I thought you were the Ultimate Baseball Star, not the Ultimate Basketball Star,” Sayaka sighed as she leaned against the fence surrounding the court. Leon shrugged and smiled at her. Sure, he hadn’t played basketball in high school, but how hard could it be? He used to play all the time with his neighborhood friends when he was a kid.
The first shot missed completely. Leon felt his face heat up as Sayaka laughed behind him. He frowned and grabbed another ball. This time, it hit the rim before returning the way it came. Leon had to duck before his head felt the impact of his attempted shot. Leon scowled when he picked up the third ball. He weighed it in his hands as he glared at the hoop. Sure, it was larger than a baseball, and he had to throw up instead of straight forward, but it really shouldn’t be that hard. The ball nearly made it in, but hit the backboard and fell to the ground beside the hoop limply.
“Just wait! I’ll get it this time, Sayaka,” Leon turned around to see the girl clutching her sides in laughter.
“You got so mad about that one!” Sayaka cried out between bursts of laughter. She wiped a hand against one eye, getting rid of the tears which had built up.
Leon picked up the fourth ball. It was now or never, his chance to impress Sayaka. Leon angled his body just right, feeling the strength and direction of the wind in his favor… He just needed to take the shot…
“I believe in you, Leon!” Sayaka cheered from behind him. Leon felt his fingers lose their grip on the ball, dropping it before it had the chance to fly. The ball hit the ground, bouncing away from Leon. Then, Sayaka’s laughter erupted again. Leon felt his face heat up even more. He was sure if he turned, Sayaka would see how red he was.
“Let me try,” Sayaka said as she entered the court. Leon regretfully handed the last ball to the pop star. He doubted her confidence as she lined up the shot. If a top high school athlete couldn’t make it, how could a…
Sayaka’s shot landed perfectly in the hoop, passing through the net with a swish. An alarm went off, signaling the girl’s victory. Leon could only watch with his mouth hanging open. Sayaka picked a stuffed lion from the rows of hanging prizes.
As they walked away, one happier than the other, Leon found a fake lion being placed into his hands. He gave the girl who gave it to him a confused look. Sayaka chuckled softly. “For you. It’s like your name,” she said with a sweet smile. Leon hated the blush that spread across his cheeks, and the girly laugh that followed.
“What about that one?” Mondo asked, pointing to a roller coaster that wasn’t even half the height of “Execution”. Chihiro shook his head. Mondo muttered something under his breath before moving on to the next ride. He really liked Chihiro, but sometimes, the guy could annoy him. Like now. They had been walking for nearly half an hour, but they still hadn’t found a ride both of them wanted to go on. Mondo always chose the top thrill rides while Chihiro chose calmer rides, too calm for Mondo’s tastes.
After another three declines from Chihiro, Mondo stopped with a low growl. “Listen, we’ve been walking around all day! I just wanna ride something fun!” Mondo shouted. A few of the masked people passing by gave the couple a quick glance before distancing themselves from the angry biker.
Chihiro ducked his head, trying to hide the tears which spilled down his cheeks. But Mondo noticed anyway. Chihiro suddenly felt strong hands grip his shoulders, and tilted his head up to look into those narrow, intimidating eyes.
“Chihiro…” Mondo muttered with sympathy.
“I’m sorry, Mondo,” Chihiro whimpered, casting his eyes down again. “I’m sorry for being so weak and a coward…”
Suddenly, the pressure left Chihiro’s shoulders, then returned triple fold as Mondo wrapped his arms around Chihiro. The programmer felt the breath leave his lungs, and his heart skipped a beat at the realization that Mondo was hugging him.
“No, I’m sorry… Didn’t mean to make you cry…” Mondo mumbled into Chihiro’s shoulder. After a few seconds, he split off from his smaller friend with a grin. “Alright, how ‘bout we go on one of your rides?” He gave Chihiro a thumbs up.
Chihiro nodded, and grabbed Mondo’s hand, pulling the biker behind him so he couldn’t notice the loving smile that wouldn’t leave his face. Mondo found himself stuck on an assortment of small rides for the rest of the night. Not that he minded anymore. He was with Chihiro, and that was enough for him.
Celestia smirked as she watched a hundred more tickets pour out of the arcade machine’s slot. Too easy… She laughed to herself. This arcade was built for amateurs, which she was not. At one point, a few children stared at her - with wonder in their round eyes, Celestia thought - if not for the bear masks which covered their faces.
Just then, Celestia’s red eyes studied a woman who walked past in one of those masks. She replayed what Kyoko had told her in her mind. She had run into the detective while she was in the middle of an easy coin game, which she just so happened to be a natural at. Kyoko had told her that something was strange about this place. The bear-masked people talked of “Despair”. And of their role model, who was a student at Hope’s Peak Academy and the founder of the amusement park.
Very peculiar… Celestia thought. Also very peculiar was the supermodel girl watching her from an arcade machine a few meters away. She didn’t even need to turn to feel those charming blue eyes trained on the side of her face. It was only a matter of seconds before Junko’s heels could be heard clicking on the ground. They stopped inches away from Celestia.
“What do you need?” Celestia asked without taking her eyes off of the game in front of her.
“Well, I found this ride I think you would like…” Junko started as she picked at something on her red painted nails. “It’s called ‘The Witch’.”
Celestia spared Junko a small glance. Her face was emotionless, and her eyes didn’t leave the gambler. Celestia looked back to the coins in front of her uncomfortably. “I have no interest in rides. This arcade is enough for me.” She had seen that ride on her stroll around the park earlier. It was a large tower, decorated with cutouts of flames, which slowly raised its riders on a firetruck-themed car until it dropped them without warning. Celestia knew she would find no enjoyment from a ride like that.
“Really? It seems kinda easy, doesn’t it?” Junko commented as she watched a pile of coins fall, earning Celestia another pile of tickets.
“I do not mind. It is entertaining enough.” Celestia made it clear she would not be moved.
“Suit yourself,” Junko scoffed as she strode away. Indeed, Junko was acting quite suspicious. Kyoko might have been right all along, Celestia thought as she watched the fashionista disappear from the arcade. With a sigh, Celestia placed another coin in the slot and watched it fall. She would like to see how Makoto would fare in a game of luck like this.
The sky was rapidly darkening with the coming night. And Makoto and Kyoko had not seen a trace of either Junko nor Mukuro the entire evening. Makoto sat down on a bench, finally giving his weary legs the rest they needed. But Kyoko remained on hers, pacing back and forth in front of the bench.
Makoto was about to suggest giving up when the most unexpected thing happened. One of the girls they had been looking for the entire night suddenly appeared before them. Junko stood, with her hands on her hips, in front of her shorter classmates.
“You guys look so bored just sitting around here. I wanted everyone to have fun today!” Junko grinned at the two. Despairfully bored, Junko thought, but she held her tongue. Better to not talk about the wonder of despair in front of them. Kyoko gave her an accusatory look. “How about you go on a ride together… like a couple!” Junko laughed. Makoto narrowed his eyes at the fashionista.
“What do you mean? What ride?” Kyoko asked with annoyance.
“Follow me, and I’ll show you!” The two were begrudgingly pulled along by their enthusiastic classmate until they stood in front of a giant wooden roller coaster.
“Afterschool… Lesson?” Makoto questioned as he read the title. Junko nodded happily.
“Yeah, I’ve heard absolutely raving reviews from everyone who’s been on it!” Junko grinned again. “It’s a totally killer ride!” She was the only one laughing.
Makoto looked to Kyoko with worry, but the stone-faced girl didn’t look back. “I don’t trust that,” she said plainly before walking away.
“Huh? What isn’t there to trust?” Junko gasped with exaggerated shock. “This amusement park is top rated in safety!” She looked to Makoto, who didn’t give an answer back. He could only stare at the taller girl silently.
Kyoko froze and turned her icy gaze back on Junko. “Perhaps… have you heard anything of ‘Despair’?” Kyoko asked the fashionista.
Junko’s face was overcome with true shock this time. “Despair? What do you mean?” Her voice took on a cautious edge.
“You know what I’m talking about.”
“No, I don’t.”
Kyoko would have rolled her eyes if she was any less mature. Before she could continue, she felt a hand grab her own, and tug her away from Junko.
“Wait, Kyoko…” Makoto whispered to her. “We don’t even know if she’s the founder.” Kyoko nodded slowly. He was right, she had jumped to a conclusion too quickly.
Makoto found himself holding Kyoko’s gloved hand as they walked away. He was surprised that she didn’t pull away, and even more surprised when she moved closer. Neither of them complained, their closeness sheltering them from the cold wind which picked up off the ocean with the falling darkness.
Mukuro stood beside her sister as they watched their fourteen classmates leave the park, varying looks of contentedness on their faces, at the end of the night. Mukuro remained emotionless, but Junko struggled to keep the frustration off her normally flawless features. Mukuro couldn’t blame her. They had spent more time and effort than they had anything else convincing the owners of the failing amusement park, previously named Nezumi Park, to rebrand as an affiliate of Hope’s Peak Academy. Even with Junko’s bribery, and Mukuro’s threats, it took longer than they had originally thought. It was a wonder the school hadn’t shut the project down, but then again, the park was practically unheard of. Junko’s only rule for those entering and working in the park was that they needed to wear masks of her creation: Monokuma.
“Why did none of my Despair plans work?” Junko frowned. “I set them up perfectly!” She counted the events off on her fingers. “We hypnotized Byakuya so he couldn’t pull away from Toko. We set the games up so they were impossible to win, but Hiro and Sayaka still won something. I had to dress up as that stupid idol too, but she still ended up getting with Leon! Even the ultimate Despair ride we had built just for Makoto didn’t work!” Junko ended in a shout. “The closest we got was that fanfic-writing idiot…” Then, her expression turned to one of ecstasy. “Ah… So this is what despair feels like…” She laughed darkly.
Mukuro shied away, not being as despair-obsessed as her sister. “I don’t understand, either…” She said quietly.
“It’s no problem…” A grim smile played on Junko’s lips. “After all, our true Despair plan - the Killing Game - will happen in no time… Isn’t that right, sister?”
“Of course.” Mukuro smiled.