Grim Reality

Chapter Four- Network Rivalry

Day Two- Kohler Complex- Arena- 2:01 PM

At the very least, it was nice to be in a game that was something closer to his atmosphere. The blue-haired med student didn't have much of a fighting chance, so Ranma made it easy on Joe by kicking him into the outer ring within a minute of the match starting.

Thanks to Akane, it was guilt free. He smiled at the applauding crowd and strolled back to the North entrance, where he high-fived his fianc and exited with her.

When they got out, Ranma thanked her again for the inside dirt. "Hey, this is going to be a breeze now. I won't feel bad about winning, and I won't feel bad when someone I know loses."

Akane nodded. "Yeah. So do you think we should tell anybody else about this?"

Ranma thought for a second before responding, "You know, we probably shouldn't. I mean, we're obviously not supposed to know about this."

Akane looked around cautiously. "Maybe you're right. Let's just keep this between us and leave it at that."

"Sounds like a plan. I'll win the boys' division, Shampoo wins the girls' division, we all go home happy!"

"Well, it's not that simple. I mean... wait a second, Shampoo??!!"

"What? You think you're going to win? You've gotten so out-of-shape and flabby that it isn't even funny! You couldn't even win your first match! Who do you play against anyway?"

As usual, Ranma was trying to agitate Akane. And as usual, Akane was falling right into it. "Let's just see!" she yelled, "I bet that I'm a number one seed just like you are!" And with that, the happy couple headed to check the board.


Reception Room- 2:15 PM

Mimi was quite confused. "Wait a second, I thought that there weren't any matches within the same shows for the first round." 

"I guess the third season must be a different show... shoot." Yolei was visibly unhappy. Not about the third season thing... just the fact that she drew Rika Nonaka. That wasn't going to be pleasant, especially if the Tamers were as determined as Ryo was. Mimi and Yolei left to flirt with a few of the hot-looking Fushigi Yuugi bishounen, while others stepped up to check their places on the big board.

Akane and Ranma's argument had subsided as soon as it had arisen, and Akane was already on other concerns. "Ranma, you know this does take away a lot of the guilt. Maybe we should tell some of our friends. Like Shampoo... or Upperclassman Kuno."

"By the looks of it... I don't think that's necessary." Ranma pointed to the board, and the Kuno siblings making it out.

Kodachi was visibly upset that she wouldn't get the chance to take someone apart tomorrow. "What a shame... I was looking forward to a match tomorrow. This looks like so much fun! I can't wait four more days for everybody to discover what the Black Rose is capable of!"

"I'd hardly be concerned with such trivial matters... dear sister." Her brother was fairly sincere, save for the "dear" part, which was as caustic as humanly possible. "Fortunately, the Blue Thunder of Furinkan High need only wait two sunsets before smiting his first foe."

"Huh. Works for you, but I'm not happy." As if she was contradicting herself, Kodachi perked up within a second. "But if they want to wait until the last day in order to see what a true champion looks like, I guess I too will have to wait until my adoring fans are truly ready for me!" With that, Kodachi entered into a round of joyous laughter and scampered off. Kuno merely shook his head and followed.

Akane tilted her head. "I see your point." Akane and Ranma strolled up to the board. One look, and Ranma was smiling. Likewise, Akane was fuming, "Third?! I'm seeded third?! Who put this lousy thing together?!"

"You're below a ten-year-old with some playing cards and a big yellow fox... sounds fair." Ranma tried as hard as he could not to laugh. Akane tried as hard as she could to rip the board off the wall and smash Ranma over the head with it... thus killing two annoyances with one stone. Unfortunately, it didn't budge. Ranma calmly walked up to it and looked closer, "Ooh... you take on Meilin Raye tomorrow. Shampoo's friends with her. Heard she's pretty good at martial arts too."

"So what??"

"I smell an upset!!" he yelled. Akane tried one last time to rip the board out of the wall. Unsuccessful at that, she settled for a nearby water cooler. She smashed the cooler on his head and stormed away. Now drenched, Ranma shook her head. "What did I do to deserve that?!" She followed her fianc as Akane went to talk to her show supervisor and lodge a complaint.


Control Room- 2:30 PM

Mike entered the room, expecting to see Tom. Instead, Manny was at the helm, looking over a test copy of the first episode. He was greeted immediately by Barb, walking out with a tape.

"What's this?" Mike asked.

"Akane and Ranma checking tomorrow's seedings."

"Ah." Mike turned to Manny. "Hey, where's Tom?"

Manny looked up from the screen. "Akane wanted to see him."

"Why?"

Barb walked by him again, this time with a cup of water. "Like I said, Akane just checked tomorrow's seedings."

"Oh yeah. I guess she would be a bit upset at a three seed." Mike walked over to what he really came in for... to check on his bracket for the office pool.

Manny smiled. "I wonder how she'll take it when she finds out Kodachi and Shampoo are one and two on the other side."

"Woo!" Mike yelled, for a completely different reason, "If Brock beats Izzy I'm right back into this thing!"

Manny joined Mike at the office pool postings, stealing a look at Mike's entry. "Wait... you picked Brock?" he asked. Mike nodded. "Shoot... you gotta stick up for your show, man."

Mike was confused. Sure he was the Digimon supervisor, but that obviously wasn't supposed to have an influence on his predictions, was it? "What do you mean? Izzy's a wuss."

"Still- it's Pokmon against Digimon. I was hoping to make a side bet with you on which show would come out on top overall."

"Why? How many times do they meet?"

After a quick count, Manny replied, "Five. Six if you count Tamers."

"Well. It doesn't really matter. That whole Digimon/Pokmon rivalry is just like the Monster Rancher fanbase."

"Excuse me?" Manny didn't quite get the reference.

"Virtually non-existent!"

"Ah... but there are subtle traces of it. I just know it. I only hope it comes out here."

Mike checked his watch. "Hey, aren't you supposed to be down there? It's almost quarter to."

"Oh. Right. Thanks." Manny walked out to start the next match with Dave.


Contestant Seating Area- 2:55 PM

"Maybe it is better to be the spoiler. At least I'd get to stay the whole time." As Madison took her torch up to be extinguished, she went from playing the title role to playing the Japanese tribe's first sacrifice.

Kari sat down next to TK, asking, "Do we really have to be here? I'd rather not watch this." They were watching Rika and Tentomon talk strategy. Izzy nervously eyed down Brock. Brock's monster companion was also busy discussing strategy with his second, although Misty couldn't have much of a conversation with Onix.

TK was fixated on the sight, and replied without looking, "We have to support Izzy. No matter what happens, we still have to be here for each other." TK was still shaken by the image of Cody falling to his doom. Joe's recent unceremonious death didn't improve things.

"Hey? Mind if we sit here?" Kari and TK both looked up to see Madison and Sakura. Both were their usual cheerful selves.

"Oh- sure," Kari affirmed as Sakura sat next to Kari, with Madison occupying the next available space.

"I wonder who I'm supposed to cheer for." Madison thought for a second and added, "I mean, I don't feel right cheering for Brock in front of you two but..." Madison smiled brightly and looked at TK."You know."

TK cracked a half-smile and shook his head. "Please don't tell me you're still mad at me for voting you off because you were the Mole."

Madison perked up again. "Oh no- not at all! I have to accept my role and be proud of it." Madison turned to the arena and yelled, "Let's go Brock!" 

Kari shook her head and turned to TK. "That's why I voted for Li." She suddenly caught herself. She forgot that Li had just perished a couple hours ago. She turned to Sakura, who seemed oblivious to the comment. "Hey Sakura? Are you doing okay?"

Sakura turned to Kari and forced a smile. "Sure. I mean, it's just part of the game, right?"

"Well, I guess it is, but it's still pretty traumatic to see your brother and your friend..." Kari searched for the right word, "Fall like that." Having already lost Cody and Joe, Kari had some idea of what Sakura was going through, but she wouldn't have the full picture unless Tai lost.

"I think I'll be okay," Sakura seemed sincere, "Because I know that if I can't deal with this, then I might be next. I've been through a lot of stuff, and this is just another challenge I have to get through. And if I can master the cards, I know I can master this."

Kari sighed. She was somewhat satisfied with the answer, but still couldn't get around the thought that Sakura was in denial about what happened to Tori and Li. She took Sakura's hand. "Look, Sakura, I don't want you to put too much pressure on yourself, okay? I mean if you ever need somebody to talk to, you can always talk to us. Me, or TK, or any of our friends. We'll always be here."

Sakura smiled brightly. "Thanks, Kari!"

"Hey guys, the match is about to start!" Madison pointed out, turning their attention from the touching moment to the arena.

Manny began his commentary, "Well, I'm looking forward to this one Dave. The first of six scheduled matches between two long-time rivals Pokmon and Digimon. I mean, to say these two shows don't like each other would be an understatement. I think this is one time when emotions really will get fired up regarding the match."

Henry shook his head. He had never seen any semblance of a rivalry between the two shows. However, Dave followed protocol and changed the subject instead of correcting his co-host, "And even without this rivalry, Brock and Izzy bring two very different styles to the table. Brock has Onix, the giant rock snake while Izzy has Tentomon, an electric-powered beetle."

"Now available at your nearest Volkswagen dealership!" Manny cracked.

 

Izzy and Brock looked at each other. It was clear that neither really wanted to go through with this. Brock didnt appear afraid of anything, but it was clear that this match wasnt going to be a picnic. Izzy turned to Rika, still showing Tentomon the best way to beat Onix. Rika, you do know that Tentomons my partner, dont you? Izzy asked.

Oh, sure. Im just giving him a few pointers.

And you would know these pointers how?

Hey, buddy, Ill have you know that in round one of the Kanto Regional last year, I was able to digivolve Tentomon into Herculeskabuterimon. Rika looked smug. That seven-year-old didnt have a chance. Izzy shook his head. He didnt want to know.

After a brief introduction, Artie signaled for the match to begin. And it did between Onix and Tentomon. Brock and Izzy did little other than watch their monsters go at it. Manny nodded, it was about what he expected. This is the first time weve seen both players with monster companions. Itll be interesting to see how the game changes because of this. As Dave narrated the battle, Manny frowned. Although it was what he expected, it still wasnt right. Brock and Izzy were just standing there. Neither were making any move towards his opponent. Likewise, Onix and Tentomon were solely concentrating on each other. The thought of attacking a human was new and foreign to both of them.

Misty, meanwhile, had noticed the same thing. She headed up to Brock and said, Brock? You know were supposed to be going after Izzy. You cant just stand here.

Brock tried to ignore Misty. One of the primary rules of Pokmon battling was that the trainer could not interfere. As much as he wanted to sometimes, he was conditioned to stay on the sidelines. Given the consequences, Brock didnt want to break that now. Use rock throw, Brock commanded, putting Mistys comment to the side.

Brock? Are you even listening? Misty said, louder. Brock obviously wasnt. Onixs rock throw had done some damage to Tentomon, and Izzy ran up to check on him. Brock? You have to. Nows your chance, Misty pleaded again. Brock sighed. She was right. If he was going to stay alive, hed have to turn on Izzy. Before he could, Misty was shouting at his partner, Onix, youve got to go after Izzy! Onix looked back at her, then turned his attention to Izzy. All Brock had to do was shout out one attack and it would be over. He would have taken a human life.

The menacing rock creature was causing Izzy to backpedal. He wouldnt be able to check on Tentomon at this rate. Fortunately, Onix wasnt concerned with Rika and she ran up to a pretty bruised Tentomon. Are you okay?

I think so although Ive had better days.

Youve got to hurry. Onix is closing in on Izzy.

Okay, okay Ill save him. Tentomon slowly started to hover in the air, Just give me a second Tentomon landed again, obviously not wanting to challenge Onix again.

No. I dont think youre strong enough to beat Onix youre going to have to go after Brock.

Do I have to?

Rika took a look back. Izzy was running out of real estate. Brock was still hesitating, and Onix wasnt all that sure what it was doing either. Yes. Tentomon flew towards Brock.

Here goes nothing super shocker! Despite Mistys warning, Brock was caught off guard and received the bulk of the attack. Tentomon flew in for the kill.

It shocked Brock in more ways than one. He knew he had to finish this and shouted, Onix- use tackle! Tentomon dove towards Brock, and connected just as the trainer got the message across. Onix charged towards Izzy. Both the Digimon and the Pokmon were attacking humans. It was only a matter of who would connect first. All Izzy could do was close his eyes and cringe

But there was no impact. Izzy felt nothing. He opened his eyes and looked around. Onix was nowhere in sight. Misty was on her knees, shaking her head. Rika was looking back at Izzy, sighing in relief. And Artie Elker was walking towards Izzy, holding a Pokball. Boy. Its a good thing I keep one of these on hand! Artie smiled, looked at the red and white sphere, then shrugged and tossed it into the outer ring. Brock wouldnt need it anymore. Artie extended a hand and helped Izzy to his feet, Good match, He stated simply. Izzy didnt know what to say. He won even though neither he nor Brock really did anything. Rika joined Izzy, and they walked out silently.


Announcers Booth- 3:15 PM

Henry put a hand on his forehead and shook it as Dave wrapped up the telecast, which just goes to show you never to underestimate the power of your second. Misty was trying to help out Brock, but Rika Nonaka definitely had an impact in the victory of her B&B brother Izzy Izumi. Speaking of Rika, shell be in action tomorrow against Yolei Inoue when the first of the girls matches take place. We also have Akane Tendo and Meilin Raye in a martial arts exhibition, as well as Sakura/Yui and Kari/Jessie. Who will be the next to fall? Find out next week on Shougai.

Cut. That should do it, Henry said. With the telecast over, he walked away, somewhat unsatisfied.

Damn Manny, wheres that rivalry you were talking about? Now that they were off the air, Dave could say whatever the hell he wanted.

Look, Im trying to stick some emotion into this. Makes it more interesting. Manny replied. He and Dave stood from their chairs and headed to the control room.

The only emotions I saw were fear and hesitance. Thats all fine and good under normal circumstances, but you made it sound like those two actually wanted to kill each other.

Admit it Dave- the rivalry ideas a good one. This is a perfect place for them to try to settle things. We dont have to worry about votes or executions- just good old fashioned killing each other.

Well yeah if the rivalry actually existed!! Dave exclaimed.

Manny stopped for a second. He nodded. That is the only problem.

No kidding. It seriously amazes me how well those two shows get along. It still shocks me to this day that Tai and Ash are such good friends, especially after all that shit involving Misty.

Thats what we get for sticking them in the same tribe in Survivor. If we would have put them in separate tribes, God knows what would have happened. They both reached the control room. Everything was still normal after two days of competition- Tom was going over video footage, Barb was going over the various cameras, Mike was going over the brackets.

Manny continued, But its not like things are perfect between the shows. I mean Misty and Tracey are still kinda mad at Tai. And then theres Gary- I found out that he really doesnt like Digimon. At all. Pretty cool, huh?

Whats this about not liking Digimon? Mike casually strolled over, then pointed back to the brackets and added, By the way Dave, youre in first.

I think it has something to do with the fact that the first series Gary was introduced to featured Pokmon as opponents rather than as team members. That could explain why Team Rocket also arent Digimon fans.

Tom joined the conversation. Actually, its possible that its because both Gary and Team Rocket are antagonists, but thats just my opinion. Look, the real reason theres no rivalry is really simple. Manny- you produce cartoons for the WB. Mike- you produce cartoons for Fox. Dave- you produce cartoons for ABC. You three are producing shows to be aired at the same time on three rival networks, yet you seem to be pretty friendly with each other. If you three arent rivals, why would you expect your shows to be? Tom finished his take on the situation, then turned towards Barb. Barb, youre on duty at Moore. Come on, Ill show you how to use the McKormick.

Barb grabbed a jacket and headed out with him, replying, I know how to use that thing Tom. Didnt you see that episode of Cowboy Bebop?

Once they were out, Dave looked at his watch. Well, Im on duty at Beeda. I should probably head out too. See you tomorrow. Hopefully you wont concentrate as much on how Kari wants to kill Jessie simply because shes from a different show. Dave offered those final words to Manny and exited.

Well, Mike, you know what we have to do. Manny smiled. We have to have a little talk with our shows.

Whys that?

Simple- we have to convince them of how much we hate each other. Manny continued his smile. You and your Digi-brats may have won this round Storch, but you wont win tomorrow.

Catching on, Mike slowly returned the smile. Well just see about that Edwards. Digimons going to take Pokmon to school and you know it.


Beeda Facility- 2nd Floor Hallway- 5:00 PM

Manny caught Misty heading out of her room. Operation Monster Show Rivalry had begun. Hey Misty. How you doing?

I wasnt ready for this, Misty replied, shaking her head, This is just insane.

Yeah it is. Hopefully well have better luck tomorrow.

Oh, I dont have a match tomorrow. I guess Im in the other division.

Manny smiled. Im talking about the show. Us. Pokmon the good guys.

Slightly confused, Misty replied, Well the only Pokmon trainer that has a match tomorrow is Jessie. No offense, but I dont really care if she wins or not.

Well I certainly do. Its a matter of show loyalty. I mean lets face it- except for Tracey and Brock, Pokmons pretty much stunk in these series so far. Then you have Digimon- theyve had someone in the final four for everything. I mean when it comes to Digimon, the question is are they going to win. For Pokmon, its a question of whether or not you guys make it past episode five. Hardly fair, is it?

Well I hate to say it but Tai did pretty good to win Survivor. And Henry he must have saw something I didnt, because I didnt have a clue that Brock was the Mole. You have to give him credit for that.

Manny nodded, but continued his argument. Thats fine. But you do realize why theyre so successful, right? Misty shook her head. Unity. The digi-destined are really unified. They are probably the closest of any show here. Theyre unified, and that makes them successful. It also makes them awfully cocky. Mike never stops bragging about how well they do. Frankly, Im getting sick of it. I really want you guys to do well in Shougai. To do that, all six of you have to be unified. Because I think it would really suck if Digimon won this one too. Dont you agree?

I guess so. It would be kind of nice to see some of those digi-destined lose right away.

Thats the spirit, Misty Manny smiled. All he needed was one...


Lounge- 5:30 PM

Compared to Nakago, youre a fellow digi-destined. Given Nakagos dark presence, Jessie was not even close to registering as a bad guy.

TK was barely listening to Mike's speech to Kari, Theyre pissed. I mean, I think it goes without saying that Jessies out for blood tomorrow.

Kari shook her head. Of course. Thats what all this is about you really dont think theres anything wrong with all this? Kari was visibly upset, as if she wasnt sure whether she wanted to go through with her match tomorrow.

I dont have time for whether this is right or wrong. Right now, those Pokmon trainers are making it a point to not lose to digi-destined again.

Why? What do they have against us? TK was confused by what Mike was saying. Although he wasnt friends with anyone from Pokmon, he didnt have a grudge against them or anything.

Mike let out a short laugh. Everything," he replied, "I mean, just because they started airing a year before you guys, they think they have the right to call themselves the dominant series. That they rule and Digimons just some cheap ripoff.

Now TK was really confused. Wait a second why would they consider Digimon to be a ripoff? I mean, we save the world. They run around collecting merit badges. Theres a slight difference!

Thats what I say! But Manny doesnt care. I think hes a bit sore that Digimon keeps doing so well in these reality series. Of course, if he needs Team Rocket to get anywhere remotely close to winning, then I do feel sorry for him.

How much chance does Yui have tomorrow against Sakura? Kari asked solemnly.

What? Mike was unprepared for the question. It certainly was out of the blue.

Does Yui have any chance against Sakura?

Well to be honest unless we arrange it so that Azulong er Seiryuu is her Digimon partner she has about as much chance as Kenta.

So if I win tomorrow Id have to go against Sakura next. Mike nodded sadly. Kari closed her eyes and continued, But shes my friend. How can I

Thats just part of the game. The real challenge of Shougai doesnt have anything to do with what happens during a match. Its finding the courage to go on, no matter what happens. I know you have what it takes to do it. You just have to look in your heart and find it.

Kari thought for a second before walked away, not satisfied with Mikes speech. TK, however, approached Mike, They they really call us a ripoff? Mike nodded again, this time with a smile.


Cafeteria- 5:45 PM

She wasnt really that cold, but hot chocolate always helped Misty relax. At least it was free here. She was still contemplating the whole show rivalry issue. Misty had not had very positive experiences with digi-destined. Matt was an idiot, Tai was an idiot, Izzy was full of himself, and she never regarded Sora all that highly. Misty didnt know any of the others. But the problem lied in whether or not this was because of four people that she didnt like, or because the whole group was nuts.

Whatever the answer, both she and TK were too busy thinking about this rivalry to notice that they were walking into each other. Before she knew it, her shirt was the one drinking the hot chocolate. After spilling its contents, the glass smashed on the floor. It was the last thing Misty needed. She looked up at TK. He was driven back into reality too, and was frantically looking for something to clean the mess up. Unfortunately, Mistys temper had flared, and no towel was going to clean this up.

Would you watch where youre going?!

Sorry I

Dammit, what did I do to deserve this? You know maybe if you guys would stop acting so high-and-mighty, maybe youd have a clue how things work in real life!

What? What do you mean TK wasnt ready for this.

Misty continued her tirade. Oh dont pretend you dont know! You probably did this on purpose. Just because you win a couple Survivor ripoffs, and just because Izzy and Davis got lucky and won, you think you can run this show, dont you?

Oh I know you! Youre that girl Tai has a crush on, TK announced. He was amazed, this was exactly what Mike was talking about. Well, if they were going to get on his case because he was a digi-destined, he was going to have to fight back. Now Im trying to figure out why hed fall for a bitch like you. That earned TK a slap across the face. At this point, it only flared his temper up.

Gary had seen the commotion from a distance, and went in for a closer look. Wet t-shirt contest? he cracked. He had to-  Mistys yellow shirt was now thoroughly stained from the hot chocolate.

Stay out of this Gary. I have enough trouble with one arrogant idiot, Misty fumed.

Gary looked at TK and smiled. Who? Him? Id be more concerned with your shirt. Its awfully see-through. Gary pulled a handkerchief out of his back pocket and handed it to Misty, who tried to soak up what she could. Gary took her arm and started to lead her away. Come on, lets get you cleaned up. Gary took another look back at TK. This little pervert isnt worth it.

Misty gave TK another glare, then walked away with Gary. However, she couldnt help but get one last jab in. She turned back for a moment. Your girlfriend is going down tomorrow. Im going to make sure of it. Gary led Misty away. After all of that, TK had only one thing on his mind those final words. Now there was no doubt in his mind- Kari had to win.


Day Three
South Entrance- 11:50 PM

Kari looked out at the arena, then at TK. You dont have to be here," she said, "I mean, I know how you reacted after what happened to Cody. I dont want to put you through any more pain.

TK was barely listening. He was staring at the arena. Staring at Karis opponent. Jessie. The enemy. No. Its because of Cody that I want to be here. TK looked at Kari. I cant let the same thing happen to you. Not here not now.

TK, its okay. Whatever happens happens. Even if I won today, what does that mean? Id just have to do this all over again against one of my friends. This would just keep getting harder and harder. Maybe its best if I just

TK put his arms on her shoulders and tried to shake her out of her funk, No! Dont say that! I am not going to lose you! Kari, you are too important to me to all of us to give up now. That reason was equally significant- losing to Jessie was one thing, losing Kari to Jessie was unthinkable. I wont let you lose.

Gatomon walked up to her partner and said, Things would get awfully dull without you, Kari.

Kari closed her eyes. She didnt want to have to go through with this, but both TK and Gatomon were pushing her into it. They both cared greatly, and both were determined to see Kari through this. Finally, she relented, Okay. Lets get this over with. The three headed into the arena. Upon seeing her opponent, with James and Arbok ready to assist her, Kari turned to TK. So what am I supposed to do?

TK stared at Arbok. Clearly, it was the biggest threat. Simple. Avoid the big-ass snake.

Gatomon scanned the situation and said, We have to make this fast. Ill have to run up and try to attack Jessie before Arbok can get to you. If I can get to her, maybe we can end this before it gets too ugly. Gatomon looked up at Kari, still concerned. Okay?

Kari really didnt want to do this, but TK and Gatomon werent letting her off the hook. Okay.

Having seen Brock and Izzys match, Jessie knew what to expect. Rather than attacking the other creature, she was going to skip right to the end and attack the human. Arbok knew what to do, Jessie knew what to do, and James knew that all he had to do was sit back and practice his cheerleading calls.

Begin! Artie gave the signal and the race was on. Gatomon charged towards Jessie. Arbok charged towards Kari. It would only be a matter of seconds before this would be over

Jessie didnt like what she saw. Gatomon was faster. A lot faster. There was no way Arbok would be able to finish off Kari before Gatomon reached her destination. Jessie yelled, Oh shoot Arbok! Gatomon had just passed Arbok, but was still in range of its tail. One good whip sent the cat to the ground. The threat subsided, Jessie could only do what she did best she laughed evilly.

The snake reared back as it approached Kari. She looked over at TK, who helplessly looked on. She knew that she had to find some way to stall Arbok until Gatomon could get back up and continue. Running to the left would cause Arbok to speed up and finish things instantly. Ditto for running to the right. Kari exhaled once, and did the only thing she could think of that would save her skin she charged towards it.

Gatomon struggled to get up and saw her partner dive, trying to swing under Arbok. That girls nuts she muttered. Nuts or not, it meant that she would have to get up and get to Jessie before Kari got seriously hurt or worse.

For starters, Kari was still alive. That was her first realization. She saw that her tackle had disoriented Arbok; its head was forced into the ground after Kari hit its body. It didnt take long for Arbok to get its bearings back, so Kari had to react fast. In desperation, she held on to it, latching on to its midsection. Arboks natural reaction was to try to shake her off.

Oh my God TK could barely watch. Kari was hanging on for dear life, and Arbok was doing all it could to fling her away. Hang on Kari! Dont let go!! he yelled. He looked to Gatomon for support. She was on her feet, turned towards Kari. After recognizing the urgency of the situation, she carefully calculated an angle towards Jessie and began the charge.

Kari just wanted it to end. She didnt want to hang on, but was afraid of letting go. Arbok was doing everything in its power to dump the passenger, and the constant squirming was taking its toll on Kari. She was bruised everywhere, and likely bleeding in places. But she couldnt let go. That would spell instant death. Fortunately, as her right side collided with the ground for what seemed to be the thousandth time, she heard the call that she had been longing for.

Lightning Claw! Kari closed her eyes. It wouldnt be long now.

Artie prepared his Palm Pilot, his borrowed D3, and a Pokball. Gatomon had connected, and positioned herself so that Jessie would trip over the cat Digimon into the outer ring. What a smart little kitty, Artie remarked, as the plan worked to perfection. The match was over, and it was his cue to run out and save Karis ass.

Digi-Port Open Arbok return! Artie removed both monsters from the playing field simultaneously as TK sighed in relief. TK ran up to Kari and helped her up. Obviously, she was in pain. She had trouble walking. TK struggled to help her to the exit as Artie came up, the usual smug look on his face. Well, its bulls and blood, its dust and mud, and they call the thing rodeo! he joked. TK and Kari werent laughing, which prompted Artie to laugh at his own quip. Remind me to give that one to Manny need a hand? Artie continued to smile as he and TK helped Kari off. She was hurt, but it was nothing serious shed live to fight again.


Reception Room- 12:55 PM

Izzy sighed. Now that he had won his match, he was able to see this game for what it was. His sister-in-convenience was up next, and Izzy knew that he had an obligation to be in her corner, like she was for his match. But he couldnt do it. He was supposed to be there for Rika, to help her if she needed it. It was simply unbelievable that Izzy had an obligation to help assist in killing Yolei. As he walked out of the facility, he bumped shoulders with Yui Hongo. Nakagos little plaything.

Hey, watch it, will you? Yui was her usual cold self. Izzy ignored her and continued walking. Perhaps it was Nakagos actions that brought him and Rika closer together. The bastard that tried to run him over wasnt here, but Izzy couldnt help but feel the same anger Rika did towards Nakagos delegation. He shook it off and left the complex. This game was cruel enough, but the problem started long before anybody had even conceptualized Shougai. Any company careless enough to allow someone like Nakago to compete without restriction was a company begging for trouble.


Arena- 12:59 PM

Personally, Rika, I dont blame him. I mean, hes a destined. Hes from a different show. Hes from her show, Henry explained, attempting to provide logic for Izzys absence.

Rika was somewhat angry, but as the match begun, she let it slide. There were more important matters at hand. Renamon? Renamon was ready at Rikas side. Rika took a long look at Yolei and Hawkmon, both unsure of what to do against their opponent. Rika couldnt show sympathy. This was for Takato.

Walk all over her. Yolei didnt have a prayer.


Beeda Facility- Lounge- 5:15 PM

An hour removed from the final match of the day, and Mike and Manny were still talking about it. Mike was trying to emulate some of the moves Akane and Meilin used in their match. In terms of pure fighting, it was definitely the best match in the tournament.

You know, I still wish Meilin would have won, but damn that was some good action. Manny had Meilin penned for the upset, but had to give credit where credit was due. The middle ones sucked today, but the first and last ones were hot. Balances out pretty well, dont you think?

In defense, Mike said, Hey, the middle two were story-oriented. I mean, whats going on with the Tamers is an ongoing saga, especially that Rika/Izzy thing. I got a great confessional out of Izzy after the match. And Sakura shes holding strong despite all thats happened. Im amazed by her ability to keep herself together.

Uh huh well Im on duty tonight anyway so Ill hit the lounge. I hear Pokmons having a show meeting should be interesting.

Ill ask Barb to save the good stuff. So who should I hit today? Trying to pit two shows against each other wasnt easy work, and Mike decided to choose individual targets to strike. He got TK into it the day before, and had to find a new sucker.

Well you can try Tai. If he doesnt budge, work on Mimi, Manny said as Mike headed down the hall towards Tais room.  Manny found a good spot against the wall to watch and wait.


6:00 PM

Misty looked at the four seated near her. The time was now. Okay She pointed at James, Youre trying to steal..." she pointed at Ash, ...his Pokmon. You are trying to beat... She pointed at Gary, ...his Pokmon.  And you She pointed at Tracey. Im not really sure what youre here for. Point is, if were going to stay alive, were going to have to put all this behind us and stick together. Theres no other way around it. We cant do this alone.

Sounds good to me! James shouted, Jessies gone, so Im pretty much open to anything that doesnt leave me stranded like a helpless puppy.

Well, Tenchi should be pretty tough anyway. I think youre screwed either way, Ash retorted. For such a fictitious concept as show loyalty, it definitely wasnt worth making peace with enemies.

Ash! Come on! We have to support James! He may be totally screwed but we have to support him nonetheless. Gary stood from his chair. Misty, why dont you be in Jamess corner tomorrow? Id love to but I have a match against that Takaishi guy the one that was drowning in the eye candy last night.

Misty briefly blushed as she remembered the incident, then shook her head. Okay, fine. Ill be Jamess second.

Great. Replace a bitchy redhead with another bitchy redhead. Ash was not buying into anything related to this game, and was feeling rather caustic. Misty, however, was feeling vengeful, and immediately pulled out her mallet. Ash quickly put his hands up and pleaded, Misty! Remember! Show loyalty! You wouldnt hit someone from the same show, would you?? Now Ash was feeling the show loyalty. Misty slowly started to relent.

Hey, the way I see it, the last thing those digi-destined would expect is for us to actually work together. Those brats dont have a chance now. Gary changed the subject, thus saving his rivals hide.

Wait brats?

Yeah. Brats. Thats all those digi-destined are. A bunch of stuck-up brats who think they can do whatever they want because they saved the world a couple times.

Manny shook his head and smiled. Of all people, Gary calling somebody a stuck-up brat. But still, he had no intention of actually participating in the conversation- it would take away from the scene, destined to go into the episode. Mannys smile grew even wider as he saw TK, quietly observing the meeting from a far corner of the room. He remained silent, but the look on TKs face made it perfectly clear- he was pissed. Manny wasnt about to budge- this could get interesting.

Gary laughed abruptly, prompting a strange look from the other four trainers. Im sorry just a joke I heard once. Just popped into my head.

Well? Tracey asked. The others nodded. They wanted to hear.

Gary shook his head. Its pretty stupid actually how many digi-destined does it take to change a light bulb? Ash rolled his eyes. Misty, Tracey, and James were all ears.

Well, dont leave us in the dark! James replied.

Eight- one to hold the light and seven to run around Tokyo for two weeks trying to find her. Groans were plentiful as Ash, Misty, and Tracey reacted appropriately. It incited a different reaction in the eavesdropping TK. He had had enough

I have had enough of this shit Gary! TK marched over, grabbed the collar of Garys shirt, and threw him up against the wall. He continued to hold Gary up as TK continued his tirade, What is your problem with us??!! TK was livid. How could anybody dislike a group that makes a point of saving humanity now and then?

Despite his position, Gary remained calm. Like I said- youre a bunch of stuck up brats. I mean, so you saved the world a few times- you dont have to go bragging about it every five minutes.

Well, have you ever done it?! Do you know what kind of hell we had to go through?!

Ive saved the world before Ash commented. He was trying to stay neutral in this scuffle.

Gary smiled and pushed TK away, releasing himself from the pin. See- if Ashy-boy can save the world it cant be that hard. You guys give yourselves way too much credit.

TK continued to glare at Gary. If you have a problem then you can

Do what? Talk about it? Settle it through non-violent methods? Yeah, thats what you say then youll sic your gerbil on me first chance you get.

Patamon is not a gerbil!

Look Takaishi, Im not afraid of you, your gerbil, or any of your friends. If you want to know what true skill looks like, wait until tomorrow. Youll see it just before Umbrion knocks you so far down the outer ring that your ass will be permanently imbedded into the floor. TK went after Gary, but Manny stepped in before it got too physical.

Youre asking for it Oak! Im telling you Gary- youre going to be sorry you ever messed with me or Patamon. Even if he was just a gerbil, he could still kick your ass, TK shouted as Manny led him away. Gary continued to smile.

Once they were out of the lounge, Manny said to TK, Okay, okay, you made your point. I dont care if you want to beat the hell out of him just do it tomorrow.

TK was still angry. I plan on it. He stormed down the hall towards his room.

Once he was away, Manny looked around. His face grew increasingly smug as he said to himself, Damn I rule!

End Chapter Four

Authors Notes
If it wasnt perfectly clear to you before, it should be now- Two of the six matches occurring in this chapter were extremely short. Two were not shown at all. The matches are not the focal point of the series. Although I will say that Akane and Meilin really did put on quite a show.

I know it seems like Im abandoning a few of the seemingly more important plotlines, like Barbs little rebellion, but they are taking a backstage to other stuff going on. Believe me, everything comes back together in the end.

The scene between Kari, TK, Madison, and Sakura was heavily drawing on Animation Survivor 2 or as its often called- the crappy one. Indeed, although AS2 was a bitter failure to the Animation Alliance, it is still part of the canon, and will be referred to accordingly. With only five chapters, its definitely a slacker in terms of audience readership, but nonetheless- I still think its pretty damn funny, and Im as proud of it as any of my other fics. Okay maybe Im not quite as proud of it as I am with Odaiba Memorial Day but you get the idea.

If you read Tai Kamiya Presents Gatekeepers you should know this already, but the one episode of Cowboy Bebop Barb referred to was one where all the characters died in the end. They were all back for next episode, no questions asked. That McKormick Reaper works like magic!

Chapter Five- Controlled Chaos
While TK and Gary prepare to settle their dispute in battle, Ash and Tai offer their perspectives of the rivalry. However, while some choose to have no part in the rivalry, things get really messy when the Tamers get involved. Meanwhile, Tenchi faces the reality of his first match, while the AA is forced to deal with an unwanted visitor.

Current "Shougai" Standings