Grim Reality

Chapter Three- Knowledge Lost, Knowledge Gained

Day One- Kohler Complex- Announcers Booth- 1:05 PM

The first match was in the books- a fantastic match featuring a stunning upset that set the tone for things to come. The second match was about as one-sided as it got. Five minutes into it, Nuriko was just playing around with Cody Hida and Armadillomon.

Do you think shes taking this seriously, Manny? Dave was a little confused as to why Nuriko wasnt going in for the kill.

First off, Dave, Nurikos a he. Secondly, Im not sure. Armadillomon has been incapable of mounting any kind of offense, Manny said, watching as Armadillomon demonstrated that fact by charging after Nuriko, only to be stopped very passively by the sole of Nurikos left foot.

Dave shook his head. Since the match seemed much less interesting than the first, he took a glance at his list of questions, and read the top one on the list, Now the winner of this match will advance to play Davis in six days. Since these first two were both Digimon/Fushigi Yuugi, it really raises the question of matches between two people from the same show.

Manny checked his list of answers and replied, Most certainly. Thats another really interesting aspect of Shougai. Obviously the pre-existing bonds between members of the same show still exist, but theres a very real possibility that somebody will have to face off against one of their own friends. The committee that put this bracket together made sure that this does not happen in the first round, although after that- anything goes.

Keep in mind that this does not apply to the second and third seasons of Digimon. They are being treated as separate shows, and there are a couple first round matches between the two seasons in the Girls Division. Dave sounded enthused plugging upcoming episodes, but he just wanted to get this match over with and move on to better things.

TK himself was having trouble believing his theory. Nuriko was having his way with Cody, and he appeared to be enjoying it. As Nuriko approached Cody, he was bent over, preparing for the worst.

Armadillomon Codys fearful words were enough to convince his partner to make one last ditch effort. But as it jumped in midair, Nuriko executed a very impressive roundhouse kick to knock Armadillomon well away from the action. Nuriko bent down towards the trembling Cody.

Scared? His feminine voice did have a touch of arrogance, but enough sympathy to sound sincere.

Cody refused to look up. Just end this.

All right Nuriko mustered up his highest falsetto, then picked Cody up by the collar. For a second he started swinging Cody like a purse, but stopped after he noticed that Cody was about ready to throw up. Oops. Sorry. Sometimes I dont know my own strength. Cody remained silent as Nuriko headed to the outer ring. TK made a frantic effort to run up to them, but arrived too late. Bye bye! Nuriko sounded quite cheerful as he simply dropped Cody into the seemingly bottomless pit.

By the time TK arrived, all he could see was Cody falling. Cody tried reaching up towards TK, but to no avail. Then it happened- the flash of green. When it subsided, Cody was moving no longer, and fell out of sight. The last thing TK heard was a sickening thud.

No way TK was mortified. How could they be serious about this? How could this be real?

Whoa you dont want to fall in there now, do you? TK looked a bit unsteady, so Nuriko calmly took the initiative of making sure Codys second didnt end up in the same place as Cody. TK ran out of the arena, thus ending the threat, and allowing Nuriko to smile and wave to the audience, basking in the glow of victory.

South Entrance- 1:15 PM

Davis and Ken walked into the bathroom. After seeing TK run out like that, they were immediately concerned. The concerns were well justified, as they were greeted by the pleasant sound of TK vomiting.

That doesnt sound good, Davis noted.

TK? Are you all right? Kens question was answered as TK exited one of the stalls, visibly sick, and clutching his stomach. Ill take that as a no.

What is it?

You know all that stuff I said about them not really killing us? TK sounded really bad. Ken and Davis slowly nodded, and TK continued, That theorys shot to hell. Ken and Davis were wide-eyed as they helped TK out of the bathroom. TK had to say it, as if reminding himself of the harsh reality of the situation, I saw it with my own eyes Codys dead.

Ken and Davis stopped in their tracks. It was what they were both thinking about, but neither fully grasped it until TK said it directly. It was Daviss turn to clutch his stomach and run into an empty stall.

Reception Area- 1:40 PM

As Rika and Izzy walked past the big board, where everybodys supposed place in the game was listed, Rika couldnt help but notice the recent update- Hey Izzy, check it out, youre seeded fifth.

Fifth? Whats that mean? Izzy said, slightly disinterested. After seeing Cody get flung into a pit by a cross-dressing nut, Izzy was hardly looking forward to when he himself would have to compete.

Well, the better youre seeded, the easier your matches are supposed to be. Youll be taking on the four seed Although Rika had some knowledge on the topic, she usually didnt pay much attention to seeding in the Digimon tournaments she competed in; she was always seeded first. She frowned. Thats Brock.

Yippee, Izzy muttered, still not caring.

No, thats not a yippee. Id be really worried if I were you. Brock is probably going use Onix.

Uh huh Izzy still wasnt interested.

You have Tentomon, who is a flying bug.


Onix is strong against both flying types and bug types! Now Izzy was interested; he turned and looked at Rika, somewhat confused as to how she knew that. She put her hands on her hips. What, you think Digimons the only card game I play?

Mike laughed at the remark, and quickly called up Barb on his cell phone, Barb, save the Izzy/Rika exchange in the reception area- great stuff. Barb quickly replied in acknowledgement, and Mike put the phone away. Rika, Rika, Rika Before Mike could continue, he saw the trio of TK, Davis, and Ken marching towards him. They didnt look too pleased.

Excuse me, are you in charge here? TK wanted answers, and he wanted them now.

All questions should be handled through your show supervisor Mike sounded like he was going to dismiss TK entirely, then smiled. Heh, just joshing with you- I happen to be your show supervisor. What can I do for you?

How are you people getting away with this?

What do you mean? Mike was clueless as to how anybody could doubt the legitimacy of this project.

Ken elaborated, What TKs trying to say is that this company seems to be well Ken didnt want to use the clich, but it was exactly what was going on, getting away with murder.

Mike raised an eyebrow. I see. So you have something on your mind you want to talk about?

Of course I do! I mean did you see what happened to Cody?! He just TK seemed very emotional. Mike smiled- another opportunity to enhance his part of the program.

Great! Come on! Mike grabbed TKs arm and led him to a small room, right next to the reception room. It was clean, carpeted, and had a couple chairs in position. Mike led TK to one of those chairs, Have a seat, Ill be right there. Mike walked over to the other side of the room and stood behind a video camera.

What are you doing?

Mike looked at TK. What? Youve done these before. Camera confessionals? Just let me get this set up and you can pour your heart out to the world.

TK quietly fumed. This wasnt what he had in mind. After a few seconds of preparation, Mike turned to the boy. Okay it looks like youve got enough to say on your own so I wont prompt you. Ready Before Mike could give TK the go ahead, there was a knock on the door. Hold on

Mike opened the door. It was Artie. Hey Mike, I found Kenta for you. You said you wanted him.

Oh, oh, yeah Im with someone right now. Keep him here, I really want him to do one of these.

Well hurry up, hes got a court date with Judge Julian in twenty minutes.

Right. Mike shut the door and turned back to TK. Sorry about that. Well have to make this fast, I really want Kenta to get some airtime before his match. Just between you and me- hes fucked.

Excuse me? TK couldnt help but take interest in Mikes supposed certainty.

Yeah I kinda feel sorry for Kenta. I mean, he doesnt have a Digimon yet, so hes pretty much screwed, you know?

Wait a minute he doesnt have a Digimon? He has to fight with his bare hands?

I dont think you can really call it fighting. More like making the other guy look good. I mean not only does Kenta not have a Digimon- we couldnt even figure out a way to control Julians transformation into Yue! Talk about one-sided! Mike was enjoying the conversation, but TK was growing increasingly uneasy. Anyway lets get this over with so I can get him in here. Im sure hes got something he wants to say. Mike readied the camera. With one hand he pushed the record button; with the other he pointed at TK. Ready? Go.

1:55 PM

This is the greatest injustice in the history of mankind!!! Ryoga Hibiki was angry, and he didnt care who heard him. Likewise, the people that heard him didnt care.

What is it? Ranma curiously strolled up to Ryoga, who was looking at the tournament board.

Look at it Ranma! They have the nerve to say that youre stronger that I am!! Ranma looked at the postings- both he and Ryoga were in the same eight-person group.

All right, number one seed! Finally some respect! Ranma assumed that Ryoga was angry due to his second seed in the same group. Again, Ranma didnt care.

Yeah, well when we meet, youre still going down!

Actually, now that I think about it- this is great! Im the one seed, youre the two seed- as long as we can each win two matches, were going to face off against each other. Maybe this can finally settle things between us.

Yeah. If these sickos want to see us kill each other, then were just going to have to give them the best damn show they ever saw!

You bet. And besides, if I had to lose, it only seems right that I lose to you.

Same here Saotome Ranma and Ryoga shook hands, and Ranma walked off. For a second, he had a quick pang of guilt- this was a life and death situation, and he and Ryoga were putting their petty rivalry in front of it. He slowly shook it off and went to check out the next match.

Announcers Booth- 2:55 PM

The Julian/Kenta match was everything they said it would be- one-sided and short. Is it safe to say that Julian deserves his number one seed? Dave was trying to make some on-air small talk with Manny before the next match started. They had to eat up some time since Mike was having a little trouble finding decent backstage plotlines outside of the standard camera confessionals.

I dont think Kenta gave Julian any opportunity to show his skills. Now if Julian were to transform into Yue in order to win then wed be able to gauge him more properly. Manny was somewhat astounded that Julian not only won, but that he won with no special powers.

I have a feeling that well be seeing Yue in the next round, as hell face the winner of this one. I personally think well see a good one out of Hotohori and Takato. Your thoughts?

Given the comparative unfamiliarity of Fushigi Yuugi, Manny decided it was best to not only offer his analysis, but to offer some explanation, As emperor of Konan Country, its easy to dismiss Hotohori as a weak little pretty-boy. But he has shown time and time again that his swordsmanship skills are extremely impressive- I wont get into the circumstances of why they were fighting, but he actually beat Tamahome in battle once. Lets just say its a good thing they have a healer in their group, although they may wish they had Mitsukake here today.

Definitely- unlike Veemon and Armadillomon, Takatos partner Guilmon offers an explosive punch that Henry listened as Dave continued his analysis. After Mannys little explanation on Hotohori, Henry knew that it was something that should have been done since the first match. He made a note to record some extra discussion on Suboshi and Nuriko and continued to listen as Dave counted off the reasons Takato was going to win.

South Entrance- 3:00 PM

Meanwhile, a different Henry was shaking his head. How stupid could he have been? He didnt trust these AA guys for a second. And without thinking, he accepted the invitation to participate in this series. He didnt hear any of the details, and agreed for the sole purpose of getting Dave out of his hair. Henry watched as Takato and Guilmon prepared for their match- Kenta was already gone, and Takato and Guilmon were the next ones up to bat. And it was all Henrys fault.


Control Room- 3:03 PM

Much to Toms delight, both Hotohori and Takato were actually playing along, fighting as aggressively as they could. Mike strolled into the room, having temporarily filled his quota of interviews.

Hows the match look?

Pretty even so far. I think that taking away the Modify Cards was a good idea. Theyre both about equal right now.

Yeah. Takato said that he didnt want to hesitate like Davis and Cody did.

I see. What about Hotohori? Tom was just as surprised to see Hotohori aggressively attacking, although Guilmon was certainly meeting the challenge as well.

Hes in it for the prize. Your idea of letting them have anything seems to be tempting quite a few people.

Hey, I was wondering about that Barb said, walking over from her station. How do you expect to get away with that whole wish thing?

Tom cracked a smile. He had the answer to this one for a long time. Simple. I know exactly what theyre going to wish for. Odds are, the winners will act all noble and say all I wish for is for all my friends to come back and everything to go back to normal. Tom demonstrated by putting his hands together and looking all bright-eyed. He had seen enough examples of it to know when it applied.

But were going to do that anyway, right?

They dont know that! Tom exclaimed, Even if they do wish for something extravagant, funding isnt a problem thanks to Daves little friend. Tom was really curious as to who was supporting Shougai, but since only Dave had connections to the person, his or her identity would remain a mystery.

An extended pause was broken by Mike- Oh! Look at that shot!! Tom and Barb turned towards the monitor to see Hotohori kneeling on the ground after taking part of a Pyro Sphere attack on the chest. Cmon Takato, finish him off- I got you going to the Elite Eight.

Tom smiled, and turned to Barb. I told you the office pool was a good idea. Makes this a lot more fun. Of course, Tom was secretly concerned- he had Hotohori picked to win the match.

Barb was more concerned with the crowd at the arena- more than a thousand people, most rooting madly for Takato and Guilmon to finish off the emperor. Hey Tom- whats with the crowd? Are these people really that interested in seeing these characters kill each other? she asked.

Hell no. But we need some sort of a crowd to create the atmosphere were looking for. So we pay a bunch of people to sit in the stands and cheer. Give them five bucks a day, tell them who to cheer for, and they do it. We make half the money back on concessions anyway. Again, the mysterious supporter at work. Tom quickly looked up at the monitor. Manny was screaming about something. Oh, oh, oh go! Tom certainly was happy for the office pool- he had a reason to cheer on Hotohori as he got up.

Hotohori seems to be getting up. I dont know how he can manage with that injury. Daves words echoed through the control room, as Mike and Tom waited in anticipation for the result of this one.

Takato and Guilmon have to exercise caution here, I dont know what never mind. Manny stopped as Guilmon, obviously not listening, attacked Hotohori. In a flash, Hotohori had stepped to the side, dodging Guilmons charge. With Guilmon temporarily out of the picture, Hotohori pulled out his sword and charged towards Takato. Takato didnt have time to dodge. Nor did he have time to reach the outer ring before the sword pierced through his heart. Everybody fell silent as the young boy fell to his knees, then to the ground. The match had reached its conclusion.


Holy shit you had to grab the perfect angle on that one, didnt you Henry? Tom was half-sarcastic, his only reaction to the finish. It was gruesome it was dramatic it was television.

Likewise, Manny and Dave were speechless, well usually the outer ring is there to prevent those kinds of finishes but it doesnt work all the time. Manny did the best he could to carry on.

Dave fared a little better, as he recovered nicely in order to continue the telecast, wrapping up the fourth and final match of the day. Tom quickly listened in, then realized that the day still wasnt over. He pointed to Mike and barked commands, Look, we arent done yet. We still have a job to do. Mike, round up as many of the Tamers as you can for confessionals. Itll be a good way to wrap up the show.

Mike nodded. He himself was affected by the match; he could only imagine how the Tamers must feel. Ill also get Hotohori. Im sure theres a lot going through his mind as well.

Good idea. We may have to save it for next episode, but go for it. Mike ran out the door, as Tom turned to Barb, Barb, get them cameras ready. Mike may need some help finding a few of the Tamers, and Im sure there will be some good action tonight. Barb slowly resigned herself to the cameras while Tom put on a pair of headphones and spoke into a microphone,  Henry, make sure Dave and Manny dont get too off topic. Were throwing in a few confessionals to end the episode. That should be it for episode one good work. Tom put away the headphones and turned back to Barb. Well- one day down, thirteen to go.

Tom stood and looked into the arena monitor as Dave finished his analysis: "Certainly a stellar performance from Hotohori, and certainly the best match weve seen today.

You bet," Manny replied, "Today was definitely the day for Suzaku as the two Suzaku seishi won, while those opposing a southern bird-god went zero for three. As the two hosts wrapped up, Hotohori remained in the arena. Obviously, his face held that of some remorse, but he appeared noble and brave in spite of it. He held a hand out towards the heaven. He pointed South. Tom couldnt help but smile. Hotohori definitely was in it for the wish. And if there were more contestants like him, Shougai would be the greatest thing the company had ever produced.

Beeda Facility- Room 110- 4:30 PM

I cant get that image out of my head. I do not look forward to tomorrow, Tai. Izzy was voicing his concerns to the leader. Tai appeared quite solemn. Davis was safe for now, but Cody was already gone while Izzy and Joe were slated for the next day.

Im a bit over my head too. This is just unbelievable. And the thing is that I feel so powerless. Who do you face?

Brock. Rika says I could have a rough time.

I dont know Brock that well. I only met him once. Tai was going to explain his brief meeting with the trainer in Mole 1, but found another topic of more interest, Hey, hows Rika taking all this? I mean after what happened to that Takato kid. Tai shook his head. He really should have taken the opportunity to get to know his third season counterpart when he had the chance.

Well, she was pretty upset, as you could imagine. She we talked about it. A lot. And you know something- I think she really needed me today. Izzy recalled the conversation he had with Rika after Takatos loss. Given her reputation, it was clear that Rika was glad to have somebody she could let her feelings out to. Izzy obviously didnt enjoy talking about it, but felt it was a time when he had to fulfill his side of the brother by convenience deal.

Youre taking that whole big brother thing pretty seriously, arent you?

Izzy nodded. Im just worried about what shed do if I lose tomorrow.

Dont worry about it too much. I hate to say it, but your best move now would be to win.

I just dont know if I can go through with it. Izzy continued to shake his head. Im going to take a walk, maybe get my mind off this.

Lounge- 4:30 PM

After some personal time, the five remaining Tamers- Henry, Rika, Jeri, Kazu, and Ryo, met in the lounge. The purpose of the meeting was to try to talk things through and get their spirits back up. Unfortunately, none were in the mood to talk. Although four people lost their lives that day, the Tamers were obviously hit hardest. This was evident given the number of people stopping by to offer their condolences to the group.

Thanks. We uh appreciate it. Um good luck tomorrow. Henry wasnt in a talkative mood either, but had to thank Brock for his support. As Brock walked by, Henry noticed a death glare from Rika. What? Henry asked.

Before she could answer, two more were set to greet Henry. You guys going to be okay? Tamahome could only imagine what Henry and the others are going through.

Hotohori really does feel bad about what happened. He didnt want to end it that way, but he didnt see any other options. Miaka kept her voice down, so as not to upset the others further. The last thing she needed was another conflict with Rika.

Henry forced a smile. Yeah. Its okay. I guess it would be too much to wish your friend would have lost. Then you guys would be the ones sitting here.

Tamahome nodded, Well, youll get through this somehow.

Ryo looked around at the group. Henry was capable of carrying a conversation with Miaka and Tamahome, but he was clearly affected by the incident. Rika was stone-faced as always; any feelings of sadness or anger had already been vented. Jeri was silent- that was no surprise. Sitting next to her, Ryo did what he could to comfort her. It was only a reassuring hand on her back, but it seemed to be enough for now. Then there was Kazu. Given the way Kazu presented himself when they met, it was a stark contrast to his mood now. He had lost his two best friends today, and was arguably the worst off in the group. He wasnt trying to show it, but his right hand, clenched in a fist, was clear evidence of his feelings. Ryo came to the obvious conclusion- regardless of the consequences, he wasnt going to lose tomorrow. The group couldnt take any more trauma.

Beeda Facility- 5:00 PM

Izzys little constitution from Tais room had led him outside. Besides the building housing the contestants, there was also a recreation room, a gymnasium, and a cafeteria. There were also a few other buildings scattered around. Perhaps a little exploration was necessary in order to get his mind off his match tomorrow. Before he could enter one of these buildings, somebody exited in a hurry, slamming the door behind him.

Tim puffed a little bit, then saw Izzy staring back at him. Heh heh had a little leak," Tim explained, "Supposedly its not dangerous, but you can never be too careful. Tim checked a gauge on the outside wall. Okay all clear. That stuff dissipates pretty quickly.

Uh whats this youre talking about?

Negalic animide. Its what makes the outer ring work. Come on in and Ill show you. Izzy strolled up to Tim as he typed 3323 on a numeric keypad. With the proper code in, the door swung open. Tim looked up at Izzy, who was in plain sight of the code. Heh heh dont tell anybody. He said nervously.

Tim and Izzy strolled into the lab. It was large, efficient, and very practical. Prodigious Izzy was impressed.

Prodigious is right. Anyway are you familiar with the show Futurama?

Um Lisa said something about it once. Takes place in the future, I believe?

Thats all you need to know. Anyway, they have these nifty little things called suicide machines. Put in a quarter- end it all. Theres a setting on it that offers a quick and painless death. It shoots out some gas, and before you know it- your bodily functions cease.

Thats awful!

Is it? Given a choice between that or the way Takato got it, which would you prefer? Izzy remained silent. Tim continued, Thought so. Anyway, the gas is called negalic animide. The outer ring is set up with motion detectors so that when someone falls through it, it shoots out a bunch of this stuff. They instantly lose all consciousness, and thats that.

Izzy was somewhat satisfied. At least Cody didnt suffer. It didnt improve his opinion of Shougais concept though. I thought you said this wasnt dangerous.

Thats the best part. First off, its heavier than air, so it sinks instead of rises. Secondly, it only affects animated characters. Ill show you. Tim proceeded to hook up a tube from a gas tank to an empty cage.

While Tim set up the experiment, Izzy looked over at what appeared to be a machine used for measuring brainwaves in hospitals. The conveyor belt seemed to be a dead giveaway, Whats that? An MRI machine?

Tim hesitated for a second, before answering, Um yeah. Never can be too careful with this kind of game. he changed the subject immediately, drawing Izzy to a cage, Anyway, check this out. Im putting two different animals into this cage. Ones a normal, everyday lab rat. The other is a Rattata, a type of Pokmon. Watch this Izzy watched the two rats as Tim went over to a gas tank, Time it. Tim turned the nozzle on the tank. Izzy looked at Tim as he did so, then looked back at the cage. In an instant, the Rattata had keeled over, lifeless. The normal rat continued to sniff around as if nothing was happening. And it was absolutely painless.

Izzy was again amazed. It was also starting to creep him out. I, uh I should be going back now. See ya.

Izzy ran out of the lab. As soon as he left, Tims phone rang, Hello yeah, I dont think its a big deal. I mean you told them that it was quick and painless- this only reiterates that. Tim continued to listen to Toms reprimand while he walked over to the so-called MRI machine. No, of course not. Im not stupid. They can find out about the animide, but I know that this thing is purely confidential. Right bye. Tim hung up and rubbed the machine. Fortunately Izzy didnt delve deeper into what it really was.

Day Two
Kohler Complex- Arena- 12:10 PM

Buksai Tenketsu!! Ryoga Hibiki stuck a finger into the ground, creating a ripple effect that tore towards his opponent. Unfortunately, Tori Avalon had anticipated the attack, and wisely jumped out of the way. However, the force of the attack did knock Julian to the ground.

Hey, are you okay? Tori asked as Julian got to his feet.

Yeah, no problem! Ill be fine- you have other things to worry about! Julian smiled at his best friend. He knew that Tori would have a much harder time that he did, but that Tori still had the capability to topple the eternally lost boy.

Well, on paper it certainly looks like a blowout in the making, but Tori is really hanging in there, isnt he Manny? Dave and Manny were back at their posts once more. The day before may have been crazy, but it was just the beginning.

He certainly is. In this situation, Tori doesnt have anything special to aid him, unlike Ryoga and his arsenal of weapons and special attacks. Regardless- hes still a black belt in karate and that is aiding him here.

Hes also a lot more focused than a lot of the underdogs were yesterday. From the looks of things, Id say today could be as interesting as yesterday.

Manny nodded. Hopefully there wont be as many contestants afraid of going in there and playing.

Well, its all part of the game. Our next match is between Li Showron and Ryo Akiyama. Akiyama is coming off the double blow the Tamers were dealt yesterday. Itll be interesting to see how he deals with Takato and Kentas losses.

Ryoga was getting annoyed at his inability to finish off Tori. Tori was dodging everything Ryoga was throwing, and even getting a few hits himself. But Ryoga couldnt lose now he had to face Saotome. Fortunately, he had a plan-

Buksai Tenketsu! Again, Ryoga used his trademark breaking point attack. This time, however, he threw in a double threat. As soon as his fingers left the ground, they went up to grab his umbrella, and hurled it at Tori. Tori dodged one but couldnt dodge the other. The umbrella whirled around and connected Tori directly, knocking him into the outer ring. The crowd went wild as Ryoga smiled, easily catching his parasol as it sped back towards him like a boomerang. Ryoga was basking in his glory, but couldnt help but take a glance at his opponents second, Julian. What mental torment was he going through?

Strangely enough, Julian didnt seem all that distraught. He obviously wasnt happy about the outcome of the match, but he merely shook his head as if it was inevitable. Julian snapped his fingers and exited. Was there something wrong with that or not?

Confessional Room- 12:30 PM

Obviously its a little disappointing. I mean, he really had a chance back there. If he would have done a few things differently or he got a few breaks, then he could have won. But then again, I guess I can play could have/should have forever. He lost, and Ill have to live with that, Sakura finished up her confessional regarding Toris loss.

Mike hit the stop button and turned to her. Okay. Thanks. Youre free to go. Sakura jumped down off the chair and headed out. But something was troubling Mike, and he couldnt let it go. Um, one thing though Sakura stopped back. Are, uh, you sure youre okay? Ive had enough people in here who have lost friends, but youre the first one who lost a family member.

Sakura sighed. Well, like I said I am disappointed about it. I really thought he could have won. But I guess it just wasnt meant to be. I guess it just gives me more reason to do my best to win! Mike politely nodded. Well, I have to go. Lis got his match pretty soon.

Mike couldnt help but change the subject, Oh yeah. Youre his second. We all saw that footage of what you and Meilin did to figure out whod go with him. Thats definitely going in the episode!

Sakura blushed. Youre putting that on?! I cant believe it

Well, weve got to. All this sword through the chest stuff needs some humor to lighten it up, you know?

Okay I guess youre right. Well, bye! Mike smiled as Sakura left. It must have been simply denial regarding the situation. Either way, Sakura was definitely getting into the game, and it was making these early episodes a lot more fun.

Arena- 1:05 PM

Li was supposed to be the underdog. But the small wolf was as aggressive as one, and was giving Ryo a run for his money. Li was ignoring Cyberdramon and concentrating his efforts on Ryo. As a result, Cyberdramon was relegated to defense, as he was forced to keep Ryo safe.

Cyberdramon picked up Ryo, flew out of the way of another magic attack, then landed, What now? Cyberdramon asked his Tamer.

Theres no where to go but up.

Youve got that right.

No seriously go up! Weve got to get some leverage on him! In an instant, Cyberdramon had picked up Ryo and they flew as high as the ceiling would allow.

Be careful Li! Sakura shouted at Li. This aerial maneuver was putting Li in a precarious position, and an error would be costly.

Dont worry Sakura force know my plight, release the light- Lightning! Li held out his sword, and a blast of lightning charged towards the flying Digimon. It connected, and Cyberdramon was on his way down.

This isnt good Ryo was running out of options. The lightning blast took Cyberdramon out of the equation. Ryo was going to have to take matters into his own hands. He had to he couldnt let the Tamers go zero for three. Sorry Cyberdramon. I have to take care of this. Right before Cyberdramon hit the ground, Ryo jumped off, and immediately charged after Li. Li put away the sword and met the attack as best as possible. It was clear that Li was having some difficulty switching from offense to defense, but it only served to equalize things. Ryo still had no clear advantage. Li finally connected with a well-placed kick to knock Ryo away and subdue the attack.

Ryo landed on the ground. Hard. He was in enough pain as it was. Cyberdramon was down for the count, and Li was charging after him. Ryo knew he had no other options. He couldnt afford delaying it any more- He was going to have to fight dirty.

Li charged in with another flying kick. This time, however, Ryo held out his right arm. His electric whip was normally reserved for when Cyberdramon got out of hand. As much as it sickened him, he used it on Li, knocking Li out of the air. It was his turn to hit the ground, gasping for the strength needed to continue. Ryo slowly got up and walked over to his opponent. Li was only a few feet away from the outer ring, and all it took was a little push from Ryos right foot to knock him over the edge.

Damn Ryo was not that much better off save for the fact that he was still alive. He clutched his side as he slowly walked over to check up on Cyberdramon. He was met by Artie Elker, holding a D3 and a Palm Pilot.

Nice work. Didnt think you had it in you after the big guy went down. Artie was visibly impressed with Ryos effort. Ryo, however, didnt feel like talking. His adrenaline rush that helped him win was subsiding, and he was really aching now.

What are you doing?

Sending him back to the Digital World. Letting him recoup for your next match. Hell be ready will you? Artie was acting suggestive, as if he was asking Ryo if he was up for the challenge.

I look forward to it, Ryo muttered. It was the last thing he wanted to think about. Right now, he just wanted to lie down. But for a second, he caught sight of Sakura. She just stood there with her arms folded. She shook her head and walked out of the arena. Given Kazus reaction to the deaths of Takato and Kenta, Ryo was a little suspicious. But for the moment, he just didnt care.

Control Room- 1:30 PM

Artie burst through the door. Hey, Tom, you got any aspirin?

Tom looked up from the cameras. No, sorry. Got a headache?

Artie walked over to where Tom was seated. Yeah. I have sensitive ears. That lightning was too damn loud. That, and I had Li picked for the upset.

You filled out a bracket for the office pool too? You know you're supposed to be the neutral referee-type person.

Oh yeah. Hey, if I had to do anything, maybe it would be a problem! Artie laughed, then noticed that Tom was seated at the cameras, Wheres Barb?

Got a call from her show. Wanted to meet with her.

Man, I hate when they do that! Chichiri has been bugging me a lot. You know how annoying his voice is? Tom didnt respond- maybe Artie was getting a taste of his own medicine. Wait a minute- Barbs only got one character in here. Whys she in a show meeting?

Maybe that one character called her. Tenchi may have questions too.

I suppose but dont you think its a bit weird that shed shut out all of her shows, but then allow only Tenchi to participate?

Tom sighed. Too much talk with Artie was liable to give him a headache. I dont know, Artie. I just dont know.

Conference Room- 1:40 PM

Tenchi was told ahead of time that this series was different, but this was too much. This is totally outrageous, Barb! Why the hell did you drag me into this?!

I trust you. Youre the kind of person that can figure out a way to end this if we need to. And at the rate this is going, we may.

But how are you getting away with this? This isnt a reality series- this is murder.

Barb remained firm, but averted her eyes. Look, Im Im not supposed to say. To do so would put my entire career in jeopardy. I know this is wrong, but Im not going to lose my job trying to stop it. Thats why youre here. Youre the wild card.

If Im the wild card, then tell me what I need to know. Otherwise, Im no different then anyone else here.

Okay, but you have to promise not to tell anybody else. Weve got cameras up the wazoo and I cant guarantee that someone else in the room wont pick up on it if they find out.

Thats fine. Just tell me.

Barb sighed. Okay. What if I told you that Suboshi, Cody, Kenta, and Takato are all safe and sound at a dorm a few miles out of town?

Tenchi looked at her in disbelief. Dont tell me theyre not really dead. No thirteen-year-old I know can take a sword to the chest and still be in perfect health.

No. They die. But we have the power to bring them back to life.

Akane Tendo was walking by the room, on her way to fulfill her duties as Ranmas second. She wasnt too concerned about the match, as Joe Kido wasnt much of a threat. But she wasnt too inclined to agree with the concept of Shougai itself. At least until she heard Tenchi from inside the room

You bring them back to life? She was never one for eavesdropping, but if the discussion was on the tournament, then she would do anything to clear her conscience.

We have a machine that can bring animated characters back from the dead without a scratch. Completely healed, with no traces of injury. Toms been using it primarily on a South Park character named Kenny McKormick, so we call it the McKormick Reaper. Akane recognized the voice as that of Barb Bresnick, Anyway, at the end of each day, they take all the losers, run them through the Reaper, and ship them off to the dorm. They arent allowed contact with this area, so everybody here has to live with the belief that their friends are dead.

That that doesnt make this better! Did you see what some of these people are going through because of all this?? Even if they arent really dying or youre bringing them back or whatever- youre making the lives of all the winning players a living hell! This was a lot for Akane to swallow. But Barb was one of the staples of this company; she had to be telling the truth.

Exactly. Thats what I think. I think that what theyre doing to you all is completely wrong. Unfortunately, what we call wrong they call television.

This is unbelievable Akane said to herself. She walked away, and continued towards the North entrance of the arena. She knew what she had to do she had to tell Ranma.

End Chapter Three

Chapter Four- Network Rivalry
Not satisfied by the way the backstage action has been playing out, Manny and Mike take it upon themselves to ensure that emotions are riled and tempers are flared. The simplest solution- manufacturing a rivalry between Digimon and Pokmon. But although the rivalry is initially manufactured, subconscious thoughts between many of the trainers and destined make the rivalry a reality.

Current "Shougai" Standings