Grim Reality

Chapter Two- The Gathering

Convocation Day- Kohler Complex- Reception Area- 12:00 PM

Henry Andersen and Tim Jacobson stood in front of the control panel. It looked so simple. In actuality it was probably one of the most complicated devices in the building. But a simple metallic console with seven colored keyholes was all that was visible from the outside. It was all that needed to be visible.

“I want it out here," Henry explained, "I want to do a feature on how exactly we pull all these shows together, and if the terminal is out here we don’t have to film anything in the offices.” Henry had been the director of several of the series before. This was his final production, and he wanted it to be big.

“That’s fine. It’s well protected from any outside interference. And it’s not like anybody knows what it is anyway. To them, it’s just a big heater," Technical supervisor Tim Jacobson replied. He had made all these wonderful toys. Or at least people who had held the position made them.

“Good. We’ll begin retrieval when those six get here. There’s a few things we need to go over.” Henry wanted this project to be foolproof. Given the amount of fools involved with the project- it had to be.

One by one, the six heads arrived. Tim and Henry both smiled. They were at the center of attention for once. Henry coughed and began, “Okay, as you know, this is the first time all six departments are working together for one project. But since I’m the neutral guy, you wanted me to dictate who’s going to be doing what, so nobody fights over it. Each of you will have three responsibilities. The first is to do your job in the production of Shougai. The second is to maintain control and be the general advisor regarding one of the shows here. The third is to alternate being on the premises of each of the compounds here. We’ll need somebody on site in case something happens. Tim?”

“Yeah?” Tim was all set for what Henry had to say next.

“Tim has set it up so that each show is accessed separately via a key. You put the key in, turn, and take the key out. That’s it.”

“Come on Andersen, we all drive cars!” Artie was growing impatient.

Henry smiled. “Sorry Artie, I’m milking the spotlight for as long as I can. But I’ll start with you. You worked so well with getting Fushigi Yuugi here so I’ll put you in charge of them. Tim?” Tim silently handed Artie a green key as Henry continued, “You’ll also be doing the supervising of the matches themselves. Setting everything up and stuff. You’ll also be acting as a referee of sorts.”


“Right. Manny can help you with setting everything up. He’s been around the block enough times regarding these matters. Manny, you can take Pokémon. Given your experience with this stuff, you’ll also be acting as a co-host. Feel free to throw in any advice you have for the rest of us… especially Artie.”

“Right.” Manny nodded as he took a yellow key from Tim. “Hey Tim, could you give me the Cardcaptors one too?” he added.

Tim looked up at Henry, who noddeed. “I guess so. You had that whole argument about it. If you want the extra responsibility, it’s yours.” Tim handed Manny a pink key.

“Tom, we’ll give you Ranma. You’ll also be the main producer. You can throw everything together.” It was Tom’s turn to nod as Tim gave him a red key, “Mike, you’ve got Digimon obviously. You’ll also be doing the actual reality portion of it. The camera confessionals, in-between action.”

Mike chuckled as he took the blue key from Tim. “Woo… tribal politics.”

“Dave,” Henry continued, “Given everything, we’re going to make it easy on all of us and split up the two Digimon series. You get the third season. You’ll also be co-hosting with Manny. If anyone asks, we’ll go with the original Japanese and call the first two seasons the Adventure series and the third season Tamers.” While Tim handed Dave a purple key, Henry looked over at Barb. She was smiling. He sighed before explaining her role: “I know you aren’t a huge fan of this, so you can just help Mike out. You’ll be in charge of monitoring the hidden cameras backstage. Not only do we have a bunch in the public areas, but we also placed them in a few of the private rooms. You get to sort through them and tell Tom and Mike where all the juicy stuff is happening.”

“Big sister is watching,” Dave retorted.

Barb smiled again. “Can I have my key now?”

Henry frowned. “I don’t know what this is about, but it’s your show so I’m just going to assume you know what you’re doing.” Tim handed Barb the gray key. She smiled and twiddled it around in her fingers.

“Let’s do this…” With Henry's order, each of the six heads stepped up to the control panel and inserted their key (or keys) into the designated slots. With one simultaneous motion, they turned them. The machine roared to life. There was no turning back now. In a matter of hours, Shougai would be on.

2:00 PM

The reception room was now finally serving as a reception room. There was enough space for everybody- forty-eight in all. One of the forty-eight was different though. He looked at the scene, with no clue how things were going to turn out. For now, he was just supposed to mingle with everybody as if he was just another contestant. But how was he supposed to do that when he was alone, whereas everybody else was among friends? The solution presented itself soon enough.

“Tenchi! Long time no see!” Madison Taylor was smiling as usual as she approached him.

Madison. It’s been awhile.” Tenchi smiled and hugged her. Maybe this wasn’t going to be that hard. After five series, a lot of the “regulars” had become quite familiar with each other.

Sakura joined the first Mole and the first Mole winner. “Hey there Tenchi. Ready for this game?”

“Well, I’m not sure. From what I heard, things are a little bit different this time around.” Barb hadn’t given Tenchi very many details, but did tell him that things could get out of hand, and that he would be called on to put a stop to it if they did. That warning definitely qualified this series as “different.”

“Don’t worry, Tenchi. I’m sure you’ll do fine! Knowing you, you might be able to win again!” Madison remained cheerful. Tenchi remained nervous. Something was wrong with picture, but he couldn’t tell if the problem was with Madison or with Barb.

It didn’t take long for Barb to find herself at her post, observing the scenario through hidden cameras. The initial get-together, or “convocation” as it is called, was commonplace in reality television and never broadcast. But it did serve as a way to test out all the cameras… and snoop in on some of the action. With Tenchi mingling as normal, Barb was able to turn her attention to other conversations.

“I’m over it now! If you aren’t going to magically fall into my arms, I’m not going to keel over and die because of it! But I do not need you going around and bragging about it!” Tai was letting Misty have it. Little did he know he wouldn’t get a chance to take those words back.

Shit, there’s Ash. Is Misty around?” Tai saw Ash approaching, and couldn’t help but be a little nervous. Matt didn’t care, as he and Sora greeted the trainer from Pallet with open arms.

“Hey Ash. Where’s Misty?” Matt said, glancing momentarily at his tense friend.

With a smile, Ash said, “She and Brock are off talking with Akane.” He turned to Tai. “You’re safe for now, Tai.”

Tai forced a laugh, then walked up to Ash. “Can’t be too careful when Misty’s around. Is she still mad?”

“Uh… I’m not sure. Misty’s hard to figure out.”

Matt cheered up immediately. “Then screw Misty, it’s a boys’ night out!”

Slightly offended, Sora stepped in and said, “Are you forgetting about me?”

“Now how could I forget about you?” Matt smiled, then kissed Sora on the cheek, “Besides, Ash is one of the few friends I actually did get to make while I was playing. You and Tai voted me off too early, remember?”

“Well she and Tai voted me off too early, and I’ve got plenty of friends!” Ash countered. To reiterate the point, he stopped Davis, who was passing by. “Hey Davis!”

Davis immediately smiled and high-fived Ash. “Hey Ash. Where’s the goggles?” As teammates during Pokéball Run, the two shared in a few odd traditions.

Ash laughed nervously. “Uh… I’ll put them on later.” Davis seemed satisfied and continued on to greet others. Ash smiled at Matt. Despite being removed early from the first Survivor, Ash had also been in the most series out of anybody, and remained one of the more popular contestants, his attitude shining despite his lack of success.

“Well I bet nobody else here is dating anybody that voted them off.” Matt did have that credit to him… or did he?

Just then Li walked by, telling Sakura, “Okay, Sakura, I’ll behave as long as you promise not to vote me off.” Sakura smiled.

Matt frowned. “I give up.” 

“Alright, maybe we can have some fun now.” Kenta seemed enthused, as was new Tamer Kazu.

“Yeah, I don’t know why they picked you three when it’s obvious that I’m the star of the show now.”

“You wish Kazu,” Henry stated plainly. He glanced over at Rika, looking for something… or somebody, “What’s up with you?” He casually asked.

“I’m looking for somebody. My uh… brother.” This caused an immediate face fault among the other Tamers (and Kenta). Fortunately, Rika found who she was looking for. He was talking to Tracey, but immediately turned his attention towards her.

“Well if it isn’t my estranged little sister.” Izzy smiled as he and Rika, undoubtedly the closest team to participate in Pokéball Run, met with a hug.

Tracey was as surprised as the Tamers were. “Wait… Rika? Your little sister?!”

“Sort of… it’s more a convenience thing,” Izzy explained, “I feel the need for a younger sibling to feel responsible for in order to feel more important…”

Rika concluded the explanation, “And I need an older brother in case things get too crazy and I have to let my guard down for a second.”

“Is this the same Rika I met before?” Tracey was a bit confused. Rika had certainly changed since Mole 2.

“Not really… little sister or not I still can’t control her.” Izzy said with a smile.

Rika returned the smile. “And don’t you forget it,” She stated smugly.

“So you and Rika know each other?” Izzy returned his conversation to Tracey.

“Yeah. Mole 2. I’m really surprised that your show got completely shut out of it.”

“I know. We didn’t hear anything about it.”

Barb looked up at her monitor. She immediately saw something out of place with the conversation. The digi-destined were a part of Mole 2… or at least their adult forms were.

“Hey Manny?” He was standing nearby anyway, and was probably the best person to ask. “Tracey and Izzy were talking about how Digimon was completely ignored in Mole 2. What’s going on?” Manny stared at Barb for a couple seconds, then threw his arms in the air.

“It worked! I can’t believe it worked! That son of a bitch did it!!” Manny was jumping for joy, “Tim! Get over here!”

Tim rushed into the room and asked, “What?”

Manny immediately high-fived him. “I am buying you dinner tonight, I can’t believe that you were able to pull it off.”

“Pull what off?” Barb asked.

“The next level of selective retention. We didn’t want anybody recalling the digi-destined in their adult forms, so we removed all traces of Digimon Adventure characters in Mole 2 from everybody’s memory!”

Tim continued the explanation, enjoying a laugh at the same time, “This was totally experimental- I didn’t know what the hell I was doing! For all I know, the digi-destined could have been wiped out entirely!” Manny and Tim continued to laugh, while Barb quietly resigned herself to the cameras again.

“I had to ask…” Barb muttered. 

Never before had she been this concerned about another person. But it was almost as if she was the one lying on the ground in pain, clutching her shoulder. She certainly felt the pain. Even more than pain- she felt rage. What Nakago did was unforgivable. She was pissed. And nobody pisses off Rika Nonaka and gets away with it.

“So how’s the shoulder?” Rika had to inquire about it.

Izzy looked at his limb. “Full recovery. It wasn’t incredibly serious. As long as I could still type, it wasn’t a big deal.” Izzy was pretty forgiving. He just wanted to forget about the incident and leave things be.

Rika, on the other hand… “I just wish Nakago was here so I could tear him a…”

Izzy laughed. “Rika, do you honestly think you could take him?”

“I don’t know. I can’t believe he’s that much of a wimp to not show up. He sent a couple of his cronies, but it’s not the same.” Rika looked over and saw those cronies. Yui and Suboshi had resigned themselves from the others. They were quietly observing the situation. Neither were giving any indication of friendliness.

“Just let it go Rika. I’m fine. Really.” Izzy was not going to be making friends with either Yui or Suboshi any time soon, but he’d prefer to just leave them alone rather than start trouble.

Mike quietly sat at the back of the room and smiled. Everybody was mingling. The difference between shows meant nothing.

“Look at this Artie- Henry, Tamahome, Akane, and Brock all together like it’s nobody’s business. Four totally different shows, four totally different people- and they’re friends.”

Artie nodded. “This is going to be nuts. When’s Dave going to show up with a description?”

“As soon as he can figure out some way to tell the kids that this isn’t some cheap Celebrity Deathmatch ripoff.”

Artie scoffed at the notion. “Don’t tell me you’re going to start with that. Barb’s bad enough. This is so much more serious, so much more professional. And remember, there’s always the…”

Mike finished the sentence, “Outer ring… I know I know. I’m not opposed to this or anything. This could be a hoot. Heck, anything’s better than AS2.”

“Hey, hey- AS2 was art! You and Manny butchered it.” Artie still defended the second Survivor. His only contribution thus far… not something any normal person would be proud of.

Mike smiled and shook his head. “Maybe you should see if Dave needs some help. You’re in charge of the ‘competition’ part, remember?”

Artie caught sight of Dave approaching a lectern positioned in front of the control panel. "Never mind. Here he comes. I suppose we have to be the support crew." Mike nodded and the two joined Tom and Manny as they stood next to Dave.

"Where's Barb?" Mike asked.

"Control room. Checking out the cameras in the residential areas. I doubt she'd want to be here anyway," Tom stated plainly.

Dave tapped a microphone on the lectern, giving off the appropriate audio feedback to signal everybody's attention.

"Attention everybody. I know it seems a little crowded in here but that's okay. We've never done this with forty-eight so we're learning too. Now several of you are new at this, while several of you are seasoned veterans. For those who don't know, we are the Animation Alliance and we've run a bunch of these things before..." Dave turned to Tom, "What are we up to now?"

"Six," Tom replied, almost disgusted. Was it really that many?

Dave continued to address the crowd: "This is the sixth time we've done one of these. I think we have most of the bugs out by now. Anyway, welcome to Shougai." Dave paused for the enthusiastic applause which usually signals the official announcement that the game has begun. Dead silence here though, so Dave continued, "Now in many ways this game is similar to everything else we've done. Just about every move you'll make will be monitored by cameras, you'll get to say your piece to the world during the usual round of confessionals and interviews... Mike's handling those this time. And of course, the big prize at the end. However, there are a number of differences. First off, the cameras are hidden, so you won't get the opportunity to mug and make yourself look good. Secondly, the game is completely individualistic. There's no element of teamwork in the game, although you can obviously introduce one at your own discretion. Everybody knows that alliances kick ass. Finally, the big prize at the end is something unlike anything we've ever done before. We'll get into that later. Without further ado... Manny will explain the actual nature of the game."

While Manny stepped up to the podium, Tai looked around at the scene. Forty-eight people competing, no element of teamwork involved, and a big prize promised? The largest cast they'd ever run was eighteen, everything had some sort of teamwork involved somewhere, and this group was notorious for being stingy on the prize money. After winning Survivor, it took forever for Tai's check to arrive (and that was postdated and couldn't be cashed until the year 2194). Mimi and Yolei were conveniently informed after winning Pokéball Run that there was no prize money involved with that. And the decision to go from dollars to yen in Mole 2 was obviously the work of a very cheap business.

Manny began by placing a pad of paper on an easel. On it was a set of tournament brackets. This one incorporated thirty-two different "teams." Manny coughed and began, "As you may or may not know, this is a standard single-elimination bracket. You start as one of thirty-two competitors, and the premise is simple- if you win, you continue to advance. if you lose you are out. None of this voted off crap, right?"

Tai's skepticism increased with every word. What did this have to do with a reality series?

Manny continued, "That's all it is. You can determine your own fate. The boys are in a thirty-two person bracket. The girls are in a sixteen person bracket."

"And for all intents and purposes, Ranma and Nuriko are considered boys." Mike added, prompting fiendishly feminine laughter from Nuriko over at the Konan delegation.

Manny smiled and continued, "Thanks Mike. Anyway, since this is a reality series, you aren't playing basketball or anything like that. Tom?" Tom flipped the brackets over. The next page was a diagram. On it was a simple oval, with a thick, brown border. The top and bottoms of the oval were border-free. "The premise is incredibly simple- two walk in, and one walks out. That's it." Manny looked around at all the blank faces. They hadn't grasped it yet... perfect.

"You are allowed to use your standard props, whether that be a kendo stick, a sword, gymnastics equipment... a fan." Manny cast an odd stare towards the Fushigi Yuugi group. Tasuki actually smiled and flashed the fan back at him. Manny went on, "A few restrictions are with Sakura- who will pre-select one Star Card to use for the entire series. Pokémon trainers have a similar restriction- pick one Pokémon to use for the whole two weeks. Those partnered with Digimon, whether they be Destined or Tamers, will only be allowed to use their Digimon at the level they are normally at, whether they be at Rookie for most of you or Champion for say Kari or Jeri."

Manny continued with some more of the fine print. Tai was still trying to grasp what he was getting at. What did he mean by "two walk in, one walks out?" It couldn't be what he thought it was...

"Now we're very humane people here. We aren't going to make you chop off the head of your opponent or anything... although you can if you feel like it." That got a laugh out of Artie and prompted Cody to raise a hand. Manny ignored it. "That's what the Outer Ring is for. It's about seven feet wide, and God knows how deep. It doesn't matter. You fall in there, and you are done. It's been tested to be absolutely painless, and there's no shame in it. Heck, given the other options, it's probably a good way to die."

A few murmurs starting going around, with good reason. Tai was obviously concerned, and looked at his friends. Most simply had straight faces. Some were confused. Some were shocked. Tai looked at the reactions of some of the people he didn’t know. Most had the same reaction. A few of the more violent shows were more tolerant; some of the Fushigi Yuugi people weren’t fazed at all.

Cody approached Tai and asked, “Is this what these people do for a living?”

“I have no idea. They’ve never tried anything like this before. All I know is that this isn’t right.”

“If they think they can do this to us, then how do you know they were right before?” Cody made a good point. He always did.

Tai did his best to calm him down. “Just sit tight. I’m sure we’ll be fine. We just have to stay together.”

“I don’t know about you, but I’m going to try to get out of here. There’s no reason to stay here if we’re going to get killed.”

Tai nodded, essentially granting Cody permission to make a break for it. His great escape didn’t last long; the only door outside was locked.

Manny addressed Cody’s attempted break-out with a simple reprimand, “Um, I know you want to get out of here, but I’d prefer to cover all of this at once. I only have a few more things to get to and you’re free to head to your rooms. Lodging is really simple- this place is part of a resort, and we have rooms for all of you. Check them out. They’re pretty nice.” Manny looked at a note card to see what else he had to cover, and rambled them off quickly: “Uh… since we aren’t mobilizing camera crews, we’d like you all to stay within the designated area; we have plenty of stuff to entertain you. We’re going to allow seconds during matches, which basically means that you can have a friend in your, uh… corner. It’s not really a huge deal, but if you guys could make it a huge deal it would help out a lot. We could use some good in-fighting over who gets to be with who.” Tai shook his head. These guys were still in the reality business- asking their cast to make things more interesting for the cameras.

It was Tom’s turn at the lectern, as Manny stepped away. “Now I’m sure the obvious question on your minds is why the heck you would want to do something like this. Which is generally what the prize is for, right?” Tom could tell that the audience was getting a bit restless- they probably wanted to spare the details and get going. “I am pleased to inform you that the one boy and one girl who win Shougai will receive something that he or she has always wanted. Something that their heart has been set on, possibly for many years.” Tom paused for dramatic effect, while the “cast” was slowly getting into it.

“Spare us the dramatics, what is it already??” Tom looked over towards the source of the voice. It was coming from Kuno, so Tom decided to spare the group any more buildup.

“Anything.” Tom smirked and explained, “Rather than bothering with prize money, we’re just going to give you whatever you want. Kind of a ‘rub the lamp, make a wish’ type deal. How’s that for incentive?” Tom’s smirk turned into a full-fledged smile. Now heads were starting to turn. All eyes were on Tom now. “Get to thinking about what you want… they make for good television when you tell the world.”

The room was growing abuzz as Artie quickly stepped up. “These guys forgot to mention exactly how this is run. We’re filming four matches a day, each an hour apart. You’ll learn what day you’ll be competing now, but your opponent won’t be given until the day before. Everybody was divided pretty much randomly into six groups of eight, and seeded accordingly in each group. Everything’s up on the wall for you to check out. We’ll kick things off tomorrow at noon with Suboshi against Davis. Until then, let’s start the cameras and film us a TV series!” Artie didn’t get the uproar of cheers as he had expected, but it didn’t matter. All that mattered was that the action was good, the interaction was better, and that this would be the greatest achievement of his career. Why should he have any doubts?

Beeda Facility- Room 311- 7:30 PM

The hidden cameras were already paying for themselves. The one in Davis’s room was spotlighting the action, as Davis and Cody expressed their thoughts on the game. This would all be packaged up and stuck into the episode, but for now, the two digi-destined were none the wiser.

“Look, I’m trying not to think about all this. Whatever happens happens right?” Davis was obviously a little worried, but didn’t want to make Cody any more nervous, “Look, let’s go down to the lounge and talk to the others. Maybe I should ask Kari if she wants to be my second.” Davis smiled, “They said we were supposed to make a big deal out of those- might as well start now.” While Mike made a note to edit out that last comment, Davis and Cody made good on their words and left.

“Where’s Barb?” Tom snuck up behind Mike, startling him.

“She’s got patrol tonight. Think I should concentrate on Davis right now?”

“Cody has a match tomorrow, so it’s a good idea to keep them together. Follow them to the lounge. While they’re on the way, check up on Takato and Hotohori. That’s going to be a good one tomorrow, so we’d better get something on both of them just in case.” Mike nodded and continued checking the cameras.

Lounge- 7:45 PM

“I just want to forget about all of this. I don’t want to help anybody. I’m still hoping that I’ll wake up and this will all be a dream.” Kari was as sincere as ever.

Davis nodded. “Hey, I had to ask. I really don’t feel like going in there alone. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, and it would be nice to have somebody by my side.”

“I’ll go with you, Davis,” Ken offered, “It looks like this could be another challenge for all of us. And if it makes things easier, I’ll gladly stand next to you.”

Davis smiled. “Thanks.”

“You know Davis, I wouldn’t worry too much. I mean, think about it- they can’t actually kill us.” Everybody turned towards TK as he continued, “They’re just making all this up to scare us. Honestly, how could they get away with something like this if they were really killing the contestants? They probably make it look like we’re fighting each other, then one person falls into that outer ring, lands on some pillows below and is sent back home. Simple as that.” TK was met with silence. Davis, Kari, Cody, and Ken were obviously thinking about TK’s words, but weren’t sure whether to believe them or not.

“I guess we’ll just find out tomorrow,” Ken replied.

“Well, the point is this…” Kari turned to Davis and Cody. “No matter what they do, and no matter what happens, both of you are just going to have to be brave. You can’t be afraid of anything. If you do, then who knows what can happen.”

Davis and Cody both nodded at that. That seemed to be the only strategy available at this point. Davis smiled and turned to Kari. “You’re right Kari… can you give me a hug for good luck?” Kari rolled her eyes for a second, then looked at him. She was probably more afraid than any of the others. She didn’t know what was going to happen either. Kari leant forward and gave Davis a quick, friendly hug. If it truly was for good luck, he may need it.

Day One
Kohler Complex- Main Studio- 11:30 AM

“Just remember to call it as you see it. Try not to screw up, but if you do- we can re-record some lines later. Just make sure to get back on track as soon as you can.” Henry was giving Manny and Dave a few pointers before they were to begin. “There will be times when you’ll introduce Mike’s cut scenes as well. He’ll write scripts for you when we record those.” Henry leaned over and grabbed two sheets of paper. He handed one to Dave and one to Manny. “Since Manny is the anime expert, he can act as the color, while Dave can be the straight man. Dave- here’s a list of questions to ask Manny. Manny- you have a list of answers for when he asks them. Use if there’s nothing else to talk about.”

Manny looked at his list of answers and smiled. “I know the answer to all these? I must be pretty smart.”

Dave returned the smile. “Well, I say let’s do this.”

Dave and Manny both stood from their chairs. Henry stepped back and allowed the camera to set up the perfect shot of the two anchors facing away from the field. He pointed to Manny, and the series officially started.

“What you are about to see is an unprecedented experiment in the human psyche.” Manny certainly did sound smart reading off the teleprompter.

“A combination of the basic laws of survival, one that will test forty-eight individuals. Where each step up the ladder becomes harder and harder, although stepping off the ladder leads to grave consequences.”

“In Japanese, the word ‘shougai’ means one of three things: It can mean obstacle.”

“It can mean injury.”

“Or it can mean ‘for life.’ All three of those will come into effect here as the Animation Alliance proudly brings to you…”

“Shougai.” Henry smiled as Manny and Dave said the word in unison, then sat down to continue the explanation.

South Entrance- 12:00 PM

“Are you nervous?” Ken asked Davis, as they prepared to kick the festivities into high gear.

“I’m still trying to believe what TK said about this not being real. I guess I’ll find out soon enough.”

“Don’t worry about it Davis.” Veemon looked up at his partner and tried to reassure him, “Whatever this is, I’m sure we can get through this. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen other than both of us being horribly decimated?” Davis and Ken looked down at the blue Digimon. “What? Something I said?”

Davis, Ken, and Veemon headed into the elliptical arena, about the size of a basketball court. To add to the effect were raised bleachers rising above them from all sides, filled with seemingly enthusiastic spectators, separated from the action by an eight-foot-tall barrier. While Davis looked at the grounds, Ken turned to the right and saw the giant gap between the floor and the barrier. The so-called “outer ring.” Despite the barrier keeping the crowd from falling in, there was nothing more than a little rise in the floor on the other side. Ken looked over the rise and into the gap. It seemed like there was nothing below. If TK was right, those pillows were well out of sight. His experimental side acting up, Ken decided on a simple test- he dropped a coin into the abyss. It fell out of sight, and was met with a brief but noticeable green flash from inside.


“There must be a thousand people here.” On the other side, Suboshi was in awe at the sight. He wasn’t sure what was going on- only that destroying his opponent was the only way to get closer to his goal. He turned to Yui, also looking at the size of the crowd, “Lady Miko, should I make this quick and easy or long and painful?”

Yui looked back at Suboshi. “I’m not sure. This is new to everybody. I guess we should do what Nakago would want us to do.”

After thinking for a second, they both came to the same conclusion: “Long and painful.”

Artie was the fifth person on the floor, and was acting as the referee. The stress was apparently on the word “acting” as he was busy speaking to Tom through his headphones. “I’m like one of the hosts- I need a catch phrase! You know, something like ‘You are the weakest link” or “the tribe has spoken” or uh… “you are the last team to arrive…” I need something!

“Okay… how about ‘begin?’” Anything that would get Artie to shut up and start the match worked for Tom.

“Simple… yet effective. I like it.” Artie called everybody to attention, signaling that things were about to begin. The cameras were rolling- he had to look sharp. He pointed to Suboshi, “Ready Suboshi?” Suboshi nodded. Artie turned to do the same with Davis. After Davis slowly indicated that he was set, Artie cracked a half-smile and said it-

“Begin!” With the match officially underway, he could move to the side and sit down to watch this sucker.

No sooner had Davis taken a breath that he found himself dodging a small spinning orb that whizzed by him at an incredible speed. Davis turned to watch Suboshi reel the orb back in with a string… and continue attacking with it.

“And Suboshi getting things started under his own terms as Davis is dodging like crazy to avoid Suboshi’s… uh…” Dave paused for a second to look up the name of the orb-thingy, “reeyuseisway.” Dave turned to Manny, “Hey, did I pronounce that right?”

Manny could barely hold back a smile at Dave’s complete butchering of the pronunciation of ryuseisui, “You’re a regular Terry Bradshaw, Dave.”

Veemon wasn’t helping things much as Davis was too preoccupied with dodging the ryuseisui to worry about actually mounting an offensive. Suboshi continued to pursue Davis, getting slightly annoyed in the process. He approached Davis, about to pin him against the outer ring. “Davis! Davis! Aw the hell with it…” Veemon figured he had to help out sometime, and charging at Suboshi was the best way to do so.

“Suboshi! Look out!” Unfortunately, Yui’s warning gave Suboshi ample time to get out of the way, knocking Veemon over easily. Still, Davis was able to escape; he ran back towards his side of the floor.

Ken greeted him on the way there, and ran alongside him. “He seems to be taking this seriously. I don’t know what’s going on with all this life and death stuff but if you want to stay here, we have to get him into that outer ring.”

“And how do you suppose we do that? Yo-yo boy’s making me run so fast I can’t think straight!”

Rather than make a comment, Ken got straight to the point. “Next time he gets the opportunity, have Veemon try attacking from the back again. If Yui warns him… I’m afraid you’re going to have to take matters into your own hands.”

Davis sighed, and continued running to dodge the “yo-yo.” Suboshi, growing more frustrated every moment, continued to close in on Davis. It wasn’t long before he had Davis in a prime position again.

“Suboshi!” Another warning from Yui, and Suboshi turned around to see Veemon trying another attack. Suboshi was already annoyed by Davis’s stubborn refusal to die. Veemon was taking things even farther. He was going to have to solve things the easy way. He held his ryuseisui in position and prepared to strike Veemon…

Davis knew he didn’t want to do it, but if his own life, as well as Veemon’s was in jeopardy, he had no other alternative. With Suboshi addressing Veemon, Davis quickly ran from behind, slid, and took Suboshi’s legs out from under him.

“V Headbutt!” Suboshi was off guard, and Veemon’s attack was enough to knock Suboshi through the outer ring, and into nothingness. It was over.

“Would you look at that! Davis and Veemon use a double team maneuver and you can say ‘sayonara’ to Seiryuu Seishi Suboshi.” Dave was ecstatic, as his words, combined with the audience’s frantic cheering, captured the moment perfectly. The first match had everything that was desired- some good action, strong teamwork, and having Davis win was another perk- the longer fan favorites stay in the game, the better.

Manny's tone was more subdued, but still contained the same excitement. “What an amazing opening match. We haven’t even hung up our coats and this game has delivered a stunning upset. And I think it’s safe to say that we can expect a lot more of this in the coming days. We’ll take a break now, but when we come back, we’ll take a look at some of the reactions to this, especially from Yui and the other Fushigi Yuugi contestants.” He knew that the best way to capitalize on a good thing was to offer hopes for upcoming good things.

Tai watched it all from the stands. Davis was obviously spent- he was out of breath, his face was covered in sweat, and it was clear that he wasn’t going to be bragging about this victory any time soon. While Ken helped Davis to his feet, a million thoughts ran through Tai’s head. This was going to be hell. Tai surmised that already. But despite everything, despite all the times Suboshi tried to rip Davis apart, Davis still pulled through. This definitely was going to be a gruesome challenge, but Tai and his friends were no strangers to gruesome challenges. If this was as bad as he thought, then they were just going to have to get through it somehow. And Tai had no doubt in his mind that they would.

End Chapter Two

Author’s Notes
After trying to set up as much as I possible can, it’s no surprise that this turned out pretty long. Future chapters should be shorter… but now that I think about it- every time I say that, the future chapters end up even longer. It’s the Oscars all over again…

First thing you’re probably noticing is the extreme concentration given to Digimon over the rest of the shows. That is intentional, and I make no bones about it- this is a Digimon-focused story. Heck, it’s so Digimon focused that I’ll list the couples that are explored. This covers Sorato, Taiora, and… hmm… let’s be crazy and go Dakari. All of the shows will get their moment in the spotlight (Akane’s role in the story will be explored next chapter), although not all of the characters will. And one primary rule is that just because a character dies, it does not mean that that character is completely out of the series. You haven’t seen the last of Suboshi.

What is listed here is not the entire Shougai series. There’s a lot of Grim Reality that wouldn’t be in Shougai, and there’s a lot of Shougai that’s not in Grim Reality.

Tim Jacobson has been used off and on several times in the AA reality series, but you probably don’t remember Henry Andersen. He was the frustrated editor in the Animation Survivor: After the Council series. He is an entirely behind-the-scenes type guy. I would offer character descriptions of these two like I did for the six heads, but neither of these two are important characters.

The Terry Bradshaw reference refers to his hosting of the Digi-Bowl during Super Bowl weekend, where he visibly struggled with several of the Japanese names.

Chapter Three- Knowledge Lost, Knowledge Gained
As the matches continue, TK gets a reality check unlike any other, as he can no longer deny the truth of what’s happening. Meanwhile, partner-less Kenta learns his true purpose in the game, characters from one show begin acting in very strange ways, and Barb’s efforts to work with Tenchi leads to some privy information landing in undesired hands.

Current "Shougai" Standings