Chapter Seven

Ruriko was crying as they walked. The Program? How could it be happening? How could they be killing each other? Why? Who hated them that much? What did she do to deserve this?

Was it because she borrowed Suzume's lip-gloss and never gave it back? Was it because she would always yell "Baka!" at her cousins whenever they did something stupid? Was it because she didn't want to live the life she had? Was it because she was friends with a girl named Erisa? Was it because she was weak? Was it because underneath it all, she was happy?

No? No to all of those? Then why?! Why was it that Ruriko Kobayashi and the rest of her class had been chosen?

They did not know it, but it was because the Dictator and almost all of the rest of the Republic of Greater East Asia wanted to see them corrode. They wanted to watch as loyalty was tested. They wanted to see children, who know they cannot escape their fate, kill each other. They wanted to follow the drama. They wanted them to be punished. There were a lot of teenagers misbehaving and order was to be maintained, no matter the cost. A lot had been bad, but not all. No, not all.

. ~ .

Yaso Itō had never been a lucky child. Still, he was not unfortunate enough to believe that he had to worry about the Program. No one was that unlucky. Well, perhaps he was.

He had been wandering aimlessly. Of course none of his friends had waited for him. All he had was himself. Then, as if it was fate, he wasn't alone anymore.

Right in front of him. That's where she appeared. Rina Miura. She had unknowingly been his crush for as long as he could remember. He liked everything about her. She was always so kind to everyone. She'd share whatever she had and do whatever was asked of her with little to no hesitation. She wouldn't kill, though. She couldn't.

"Miura?" he asked.

"Yaso? Yaso, is that you?! Is it really you?!" she asked. She couldn't believe it. She was lucky she didn't run into someone else. She found a friend.

He ran towards her and hugged her. "God, Rina. I thought I'd never see you again."

"Yaso, I'm glad we're friends," she said through the tears.

"We always will be," he answered. Those words almost killed him.

"Could. . . could we have ever been more?" she asked hesitantly.

Now Yaso was crying, too. "Oh, Rina." He leaned in towards her and stole her first kiss.

"Whoa!" someone shouted. "I feel like I'm ruining the moment here!"

They both turned toward the voice. There they saw Daisuke Yamazaki. He would never admit it, but he was insanely jealous. He wanted that, but he knew that he wouldn't get it. He tried to convince himself that it was possible. She wasn't dead and he was strong. They could have survived. He was doing it all for her. Would she love him back?

She never even gave a passing interest in him at any time in either of their lives. She wasn't interested in him and he didn't know why he was so interested in her. He still had a chance, though. Maybe the Program would bring her to her senses. Maybe she'd love him. Maybe he'd have to kill her. Whatever it be, he knew that things would be changing.

"Yamazaki? What do you want?!" Yaso asked half-aggressively.

"I want what you've got," he said. Yaso's grip tightened around Rina. Daisuke laughed. "Don't worry, I don't want her. There's something else, but I want the same sort of reunion. Have either of you seen anyone?"

"I saw Kiyoshi," came the quiet voice of Rina. "When I left, he was still outside. He ran, but I don't know why he waited that long." She also didn't know that Kiyoshi Okamoto would be on the next list of the dead.

Yaso shook his head. "I haven't seen anyone."

Daisuke nodded. "Thank you. Now, I'll have to kill you."

He took out the pistol which had belonged to Yuka Matsuda and pointed it at Rina. Yaso moved as if to protect her. The bullet hit him in the arm.

He pushed her away from him. "Run, Rina!" he said.

"I love you," Rina said. With that, she turned and ran as fast as her legs would carry her.

. ~ .

"Well, Daisuke. It's just you and me."

"That it is."

Yaso quickly took his weapon out of his pocket. It was a hunting knife. Before running into Daisuke, he felt rather confident of his abilities. Now, it was different.

But he had to win. He had to. He had to get back to her. Rina, his love. How could he abandon her like this?! He had to fight. He didn't want to kill, but he knew that he would if he had to.

He lunged towards Daisuke, knife in hand. Daisuke quickly moved to the left and grabbed Yaso's injured shoulder. Yaso gasped, but he would not scream. Instead, he reached up and knocked the pistol out of Daisuke's hands. "That wasn't nice, Yaso!"

Still, Yaso had to fight. He squirmed out of Daisuke's grip and they both made a jump for the gun. Yaso reached it first. He pulled the trigger.

"I'm sorry, Daisuke," he said. Was there really a girl waiting for him?

"Yaso?" Rina appeared. He hugged her. "I'm sorry, Rina! I had to, I had to."

"Its okay, Yaso. Maybe we can win."

"Maybe."

Unfortunately none of that happened. Yaso didn't get a chance to get out of Daisuke's grip. Daisuke never lost hold of the gun. Yaso Itō was shot through the eye.

"God. . . Rina, I'm sorry. . . Maybe we'll see each other again. . . until then, live well."

Boy #15, Yaso Itō – Dead

26 Students Remaining

. ~ .

Rina Miura would not stop running. Sure, she had fallen, but she had gotten right back up again. She was ashamed of herself for running. She should have stayed with the one she loved.

The tears streaming out of her eyes were blurring her vision. That's why, when she slammed into someone, she didn't know who it was. Unfortunately for her, it was Yukio Katō. With only a flick of his hand, she ended up with a knife embedded in her chest.

Rina was dead before she hit the ground.

"Yaso. . . Really. . . It's alright. . . I didn't want to live without you, anyway."

Girl #15, Rina Miura – Dead

25 Students Remaining

. ~ .

Yukio Katō gave a small sigh. Why were all of the people around him so fucking stupid? They could be killed so easily and he wanted to live. Therefore, they would die for him. Yukio thought that it was a worthy trade. The deaths of forty-one stupids for the survival of one smart, fair trade, right?

. ~ .

She was a terrible friend and she knew it. What type of person would watch their best friend cry? All she was planning on doing was following them; she would not interfere. If she did, she would have been greatly outnumbered. She would have to do something about that.

She followed behind them silently; like a shadow. They didn't even know that she was there. One began to drag a little behind. Maybe it was due to lack of physical training. Maybe it was because she was thinking.

She didn't even notice it, but she had been completely separated from her group.

She looked up when she realized the silence. "Guys?" she asked.

"Who's there?! Ibaraki?"

Miwa Ibaraki turned towards the person speaking. "Sakamoto?"

. ~ .

Yukio was going to win and he knew it. He didn't like killing, but he didn't mind it. He was proud to have a certain element of control which no one else had over another. He was proud to be feared.

He didn't really want to go home, and he would admit that to anyone, but no one bothered to ask. He hated his family. He hated his life. He just wanted to go home to spite them all. They would guess that he couldn't win and he would prove them wrong. That would have been his excuse, but he just didn't care anymore.

You see, when he had heard that he was going to be in the Program, he felt a slight push of joy. This joy overwhelmed him and terrified him. This fear slowly crept into his mind and he snapped.

That's why, when he slammed Mamoru Shimizu's head against a rock, a slight smile formed on the killer's face.

"Shit. . . I should have played."

Boy #11, Mamoru Shimizu – Dead

24 Students Remaining

. ~ .

Hisa Mori was crying. He had told her, he had told her that he loved her before going to fight Yukio. She knew, she knew. Why couldn't she say those words back to him? She couldn't utter that one simple sentence. Before he left, his eyes met hers. She hoped that he saw the words there, but she knew that he didn't.

It had always been that way, for the year and a half they had been dating. He was the first one to say those three simple words. "I love you." And Hisa never returned them. She was afraid to, she was afraid she'd be hurt again. She couldn't handle pain, so she ended up unintentionally hurting him.

She met up with him and another friend, Nagataka Yamashita. He accidentally stumbled upon the two. None of them were playing.

Unfortunately for them, a fourth person had found them. It was Yukio Katō. Mamoru sacrificed himself so she could get away. She was selfish and she knew it.

"Hisa?" asked Nagataka. "What do you want to do now?" She shrugged a response through the tears. "Whatever you decide, I'll protect you. You knew, right? You knew?" She gave a slight nod. "I've loved you for a long time. Mamoru, he didn't deserve you. Deep down, you knew it too. That's why you never told him that you loved him."

"That's not true!" she said.

"But it is! And now, the only way I can keep you is if we die together."

She began to back away from him, but he caught her anyways. "Just let me kiss you."

"No!" she screamed. "No!" With that, she reached into his pocket and pulled out his weapon. It was a meat cleaver, something that could be found in any kitchen. She hit him with it, trying to be free from his grip.

Again and again and again until Nagataka's body could withstand no more.

"Whatever you decide, Hisa."

Boy #17, Nagataka Yamashita – Dead

23 Students Remaining

Hisa heard laughter. "Wow, you managed to get two to fall for you! Mind telling me how you did that?! I might need to use it someday!"

Kama Murakami walked towards her. "I've killed two people," she said.

"What?" asked Hisa.

"I'm just telling you because it's about to be three."

And it was.

"Mamoru. . . I . . . "

Girl #9, Hisa Mori – Dead

22 Students Remaining

Kama looked over to the dead girl. "You're so stupid. I would have left you alone if you had stayed with Ruriko's group. But no, you had to go make yourself a target." She took a step to the body and ripped the knife from the girl's forehead. "Might need this." And she was gone.

. ~ .

"Yes, it's me," Erisa said to Miwa.

"Oh, thank goodness!" Miwa sighed. "I was worried for a moment. I know I never really got to know you, but I'm sure you're great. You and Ruriko shared some laughs, no?"

Erisa remained silent.

"I'm sorry, I'm just scared. I talk too much when I'm scared." Miwa held up her hand. "I also shake," she said with a bit of a laugh.

Erisa smirked. "Is it me you're scared of?"

"Of course not!" she exclaimed. "How could you think that?!" Erisa shrugged.

Miwa extended a gesture of friendship. She reached out and wrapped her arms around Erisa in a one-sided hug.

With a slice and a slash, Miwa was dead. Her friends never heard her scream.

"Scared?. . . Why, yes. . . I am."

Girl #19, Miwa Ibaraki – Dead

21 Students Remaining

. ~ .

Erisa looked at the class photograph she held in her hands. The names on the bottom were still crossed off in red. Those she had killed were circled, including Kiyoshi. She ran her fingertips over all of the names. She whispered, "You're all next."

AN: Sorry for such a long wait, I've been wicked busy! Hope you all still like it! Review please?