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They were here. A large metal hunk floated menacingly across the horizon. I drowned out the screams of the unfortunate souls that were forced onto this island. Some thought they were here to save us… I knew different. I remembered.
“RUN!” “GET AWAY!” Shrieked many as they scrambled to the heart of the island. “They’re as good as dead.”
I whispered as I stood and watched the chaos unfold. Last year during this game I had allies who were patient and smart. They asked questions before panicking.
“Anyone with half a brain could see the ships were a good hour and a half away.”
I turned to put a face with the familiar voice. “Oh hey Sun. They got you back out here too?” I spoke calmly.
“I hate when you call me that. It’s Asuna. But yeah, they said if I didn’t play they would make my little brother.”
We were on this island to participate in what those in power called “Et multi de survial” but us normal citizens called it slaughter. The government takes 20 kids and drags them to this island to be haunted by the Blacksuits for a day and night. I lasted the 24 hours in the previous year and was promised a top ranking spot in the army. I refused to take the position and now I’m back.
“So you wouldn't join those brainwashed swines in the army.” Asuna spoke angrily. “Something like that. Let’s check out these bags.”
I said as I wrapped my fingers around the cold metal zipper.
“WHAT IS THIS!” Asuna screamed.
“They are supposed to give us a weapon and some basic supplies. Not some plastic junk!” Sure enough she pulled a colorful plastic hammer from out of her bag. I spilled the contents of my bag on to the sand.
“They must be angry that we rebelled. But hey, at least I got a rubber band gun.”
I picked up the futuristic looking wooden gun and pulled off the plastic bag of rubber bands taped to the side.
“How can you be happy with that! The Blacksuits have real guns and yours barely stings!”
Asuna proceeded to fling her toy into the calm ocean.
“I used to have one of these as a kid, watch.”
I pulled the trigger and watched the band skip across the water.
“C’mon you gotta admit that was cool.” Asuna wasn’t impressed.
“Hey let’s get farther back into the island, if we find a good place to hide out we might not even have to fight.”
She forced herself to shake her head yes and followed me into the thick vegetation.
About an hour into the forest is when we heard the screams. A girl and boy, possibly brother and sister. The girl had a familiar sounding voice.
“NO! PLEASE! YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER!” The girl shrieked desperately.
I waited for a gunshot but only was greeted with the same voice. Five minutes went by, no shot, only screams. I stopped walking and gripped a tree branch until my knuckles turned white and tears streaked my face.
“They’re torturing her, at first I assumed it was to find where any of the others are hiding but she would have broke by now.” Asuna whispered as she put her hands together to pray.
“There doing this for fun,” I thought. I was shaking with anger.
“We can’t save her now, we have to keep walki-... Aku? Are you listening?” It was the first time she said my name.
“I hear you, let’s go.”
Steadying myself I followed Asuna, trusting that she knew what she was doing. I cried as I stumbled along after her. Being compassionate is helpful in peace but a reliability in war.
“Shhh, listen,” Asuna whispered as she peered through the woods. “There’s only one of them but he’s stacked with weapons and armor, we need to run.”
I obeyed and sprinted hard away from the large figure. We ran for what seemed like an eternity. Asuna finally ducked into a cave with me in tow.
“It’s starting to get dark let’s camp here.” Asuna said.
“You can try to sleep if you’d like, I won’t be able to, but you should try. We still have at least twenty hours left here,” I said.
I sat for hours, leaned against the hard damp wall of the cave. I couldn't stop thinking about what the girl said amidst the screams.
“You have to remember.” I said aloud to no one.
I was again crying and hated myself for it. My thoughts drifted to last year and I cried harder. I was safe hiding in my cave. No one could find us when we were shielded by the dark. No “Blacksuit” could harm me.
For these reasons I stood up and left the cave and a sleeping Asuna.
I no longer could bear hiding.
I was ready for battle.
It didn’t take long to find him. He wore the standard Blacksuit armor except without the top piece. This exposed the muscular bare back of a boy about my age.
“Face me coward.” I spit. “Torture me like you did the girl.”
He turned to me and I felt my knees buckle.
“Hey Aku. I knew you would find me.”
Clint. The boy was one of the four survivors of my year. Everything came flooding back.
“Are you gonna kill me like you did the Blacksuits of our year?” He asked mockingly “You know I won’t go down easy. I’m like you. A freak, an experiment-” “STOP” I screamed shaking.
“YES! Get angry! I want to face ‘the Strongest survivor of all the years’ at his most dangerous form!”
It was all true. In my year I slaughtered 13 Blacksuits for murdering my brother the year before. I’d have to enter that state again if I wanted to live.
“The girl, that you tortured, don’t tell me that was her.” I said reluctantly.
“Oh yeah, you mean that tramp Tia? That’s one of the survivors down. Two more to go. Just finish off you and Asuna and I’ll have the fame. ‘The last of the survivors.’ Yes, I like how that sounds.” Clint laughed.
I didn’t speak.
“But this battle must be epic, right Aku? No use in me just killing you while you're helpless,” Clint dropped his gun, unsheathed a sharp looking machete, and tossed me a knife of my own.
The veins in his neck strained and bulged.
“ARE YOU READY AKU!? THIS IS MY MOMENT!” He rushed me and slashed at my neck.
Quickly, I deflected the blow.
“You’ll die for this,” I muttered.
He again went for my neck but I crossed his sword with mine and with a newfound rage, I delivered a hard punch to the jaw. As he reeled I knocked the Machete from his hand and sunk my knife deep into his stomach. He stopped. I’ll never forget the fear in his eyes as he looked down at the red oasis forming around the blade. I let him tumble to the ground.
“LOOK WHAT YOU’VE DONE AKU!” He screamed out of a mixture of rage, pain, and fear.
He reached for his gun and fired a single shot before I kicked it from his hand.
Every muscle in my body tensed.
“No, it can’t end like this,” I thought.
I slowly felt around my head and torso. He had missed. Wait, no, he had hit his target, but that target wasn’t me.
I turned around just in time to see her slump to the ground. She was clad in red, but our original uniforms were white. I stumbled to where she was placed flat against the Earth.
“Asuna?” I whispered.
“Jesus Aku you scared me. I thought you were taken. Thank god you're alright,” tears swelled in her eyes.
She lifted her head so it was close to mine and looked into my eyes “My little brother, his name is Seren. Please try to find him and tell him I love him, and that I’m alright.” She set her head back down on the soft ground.
“Why are you telling me this?” I asked.
“Thank you Aku, I’m truly glad to have met a person such as yourself.”
“Stop it!” I half-shouted.
“Even if only for a short time.” She closed her eyes.
“Sun stop, hey jokes on me right? It’s not funny anymore. You can just tell your brother yourself, I can’t do it... Please wake up... Asuna?... Please.”
I sat and wailed for hours. I screamed like the ocean waves that until now, were roaring as they crashed onto shore.
I thought I could be strong one time, just for her. But no, I couldn't save her.
I carried her to the cave where we would have been safe, if I wouldn’t have tried to be a hero. I carefully placed her down on the uncomfortable floor and sat next to her and cried until the boats came back to retrieve us.
The competition started with twenty victims and a single Blacksuit. We ended with seventeen survivors and no Blacksuits. It was a record breaking year for the amount survived. Asuna and Tia died because they were both rebelling survivors, but the one other casualty was Tia’s brother. He escaped while Tia was being tortured. I guess the guilt of letting his sister die consumed him because he found a cliff and jumped.
I did though find Asuna’s brother. I explained everything. Between his sobs the 12 year old vowed to take down the whole system. The sight was heartbreaking but I no longer had any tears left to cry.
All that I was certain of at that moment was that I would help him end the games.
I would avenge Asuna and every child that was, through this game, taken from the world.