Heads is Heads, a Battle Royale manga fan fiction
Chapter One: Heads is Heads
Kazuo stared down at the coin in his hand. Gleaming, silvery in the pale moonlight, it showed heads.
He had opted to leave the whole thing to chance. If the coin had shown tails, he would have played the game, participated in the Program--and played to win. The only way to play.
As things stood, though, the coin had come down heads. That settled it--he would resist the Program, sabotage it if possible, and escape alive, with as many of his classmates as possible.
Below the rock he was perching on, his gang members awaited his decision eagerly. They thought they were throwing for a chance at the girl they'd dragged along. Her sobs echoed in the night as she was held by Hiroshi and Ryuhei. That attracted Kazuo's attention.
"Release her," he directed them. As always, his voice was utterly quiet. Kazuo never raised his voice, never showed emotion--Mitsuru in particular was always in awe of him for that particular trait. His gang were ruled by emotion and impulse, and that made them pitifully easy to manipulate. Without him, they'd be nothing but juvenile delinquents. With him, though--they'd challenged Yakuza and come out on top.
However, they were what he had to work with, and Kazuo had never been one to repine. "I said, release her." Obedient as always, Hiroshi and Ryuhei let go of the girl--her name was Izumi Kanai, he remembered--and she stood there, rubbing her arms and staring up at him in disbelief. The moonlight painted the tear-streaks on her cheeks silver.
"But--boss!" That was Hiroshi. "We were hoping for a pink party!" That was their euphemism for a gang-rape. It was not an amusement that Kazuo, himself favored; he had more than enough willing partners, but one that his followers often enjoyed. Kazuo raised one eyebrow, and Hiroshi stammered into silence.
"This isn't the time or the place." Kazuo made a shooing motion toward the girl, who was staring up at him as though she'd never seen him before. "Go on--along with you. We have important business to discuss, and you're not necessary."
"Not necessary?" Izumi looked puzzled, then angry. "Why? You have me here--why not make an end? Go on," she sneered, her contempt for Kazuo and his followers breaking through her fear, "kill me! That's what the Program's all about, isn't it?"
Graceful as a cat, Kazuo leaped down from his rock perch. "You are not necessary, Izumi, because we're not going to be playing along with this 'Program!' We're going to be resisting, and you'd be an impediment. So go on. Shoo!"
Izumi gaped; her eyes wide and her mouth open, she reminded Kazuo of nothing so much as a freshly-caught fish. In a low, intense voice, she answered: "An impediment? And why do you think I'd be an impediment, you arrogant rich brat?"
This startled Kazuo behind his imperturbable façade; he paused, looking at Izumi carefully. He had never paid her much attention; she wasn't like the "delinquent" girls in their class, people like Mitsuko Souma and her clique, and had always made it clear she despised him and his followers.
However, it was a fair question. "Because we're going to be trying to bring this whole thing down. These guys have been with me for quite some time; you'd just get in the way."
That really set her off; even in the icy moonlight, he could see her face turn red with anger. Before she could rip into him, a rustle in the bushes had Kazuo whirling, aiming his MAC-10 submachine gun toward the noise.
"Boss--it's me! Don't shoot!" Kazuo lowered the gun as Mitsuru Numai came out, a pistol in his hand. "Are we all here?"
"I haven't seen Sho," Kazuo replied.
"No loss, between you and me. I never could stand him--his creepy crush on you gave me the cold shudders." Mitsuru shoved his pistol into his waistband after making sure it was on safety; like all students in the Greater East Asia Republic, he'd gone through basic military weapons familiarization. "So--what's the plan, boss? How're we going to make those bastards sorry they ever picked this class?"
"First off, we're going to get off this beach. Right now, we're standing out here, sitting ducks for anybody who's got a gun and wants to take a shot at us." As he moved toward the shelter of the nearby trees, his gang followed, as he knew they would. Much to his surprise, Izumi came along with them.
Once they were out of easy sight, Kazuo turned to Izumi. "Did you not hear me, earlier? We've important plans to make, plans that don't include you!"
"Don't include me?" Izumi's mouth twisted into a snarl. "Your thugs grabbed me and dragged me here. I'd say that means I'm included in whatever foul plans you have!"
"You despise us. You always have. You'd be a weak link--a person we can't trust." Kazuo grabbed her by the shoulder and spun her around, pushing her away. "Go on. Get you gone."
Izumi whirled, and grabbed Kazuo by the front of his shirt, surprising him. His followers bristled; Mitsuru raised his pistol, only to be quelled by a gesture from Kazuo. "You arrogant--you--you--you son of a bitch! Do you think that our petty quarrels back in Shiroiwa matter here? This is the Program, fool! It's designed to break down social links!"
Kazuo looked at her carefully, considering. He had to admit that she had a point, and one of his great strengths had always been a capacity for icy, emotionless analysis of any problem presented to him. "Very well. Convince me that we should let you come along."
Izumi looked right back at him, unafraid. That, in itself, told in her favor; she had to know why Hiroshi and Ryuhei had grabbed her, and what they had intended to do. "Well--for starters, if you're planning to resist this thing, you'll need a girl with you, to talk to other girls. Most of the girls in our class know what you and your friends are like, and wouldn't trust you as far as they could throw you."
Reluctantly, Kazuo nodded. His gang had a dark reputation; even many adults in Shiroiwa preferred to steer clear when they were on the prowl. If you knew how much I've managed to restrain them from real excesses, Izumi…he thought. Even with his guiding intelligence, his followers were, at seventh and last, thugs. While Mitsuko Souma and her crowd dabbled in petty crime--prostitution and minor blackmail schemes--his group was wresting control of Shiroiwa's streets from the local Yakuza. You know, I wonder…could they have had something to do with us ending up here?
However, that was neither here nor there. If they got off the island and back to civilization, there'd be time to find out how this had happened, and settle with the Yakuza if they'd done it. "A fair point, I must admit. So why would you want to help us? You've always despised us. How do we know that you aren't playing--and planning to turn on us the second you can?"
Izumi looked astonished; this had clearly never occurred to her. "Me--playing?"
"Yes. You. Playing." Kazuo spoke slowly and clearly, as though he were addressing a half-wit. "Did you see what was out in front of the school, or did that happen after you left?"
"Mayumi Tendo--and Yoshio Akamatsu. She had a crossbow quarrel in the head--I couldn't see what had killed Yoshio."
"That's because he wasn't dead. Just knocked out cold. Yoshio was the one who shot her; I watched him do it. He climbed up on top of that porch and ambushed her as she came out." Kazuo raised one eyebrow in reluctant respect. "I'd never have believed it of him--not in a million years."
"So if Yoshio could play--that means anybody could!" Izumi paled. "I--I see what you mean!" Her expression turned determined. "Even so, you still need me. If we meet girls, they're likelier to trust me than you."
"Am I to trust you behind my back with a weapon?"
"As much as I trust you, which isn't that much. I don't even know what I have--your friends grabbed me before I could check my bag." She looked around, and at Kazuo's gesture, Hiroshi handed her the bag she'd been issued, still unopened.
At the sight of what she pulled out, Kazuo's eyes went very wide. "A pair of time bombs? How did they think you were going to use those?"
"How would I know? You're supposed to be such a genius; figure something out!"
"Oh, I shall. Come on--you're in the group. Let's find shelter for the night. Mitsuru, you take first watch; Ryuhei, you take second." Leaning closer to his male followers, Kazuo muttered: "Keep an eye on her, but do not harm her without permission, unless she tries an attack on us!"
"Got you, Boss," they murmured, and turned to follow Kazuo into the sheltering woods.
END CHAPTER 01