Grim Reality

Chapter Six- Everybody Needs Somebody

Day Four- Kohler Complex- Contestant Seating Area- 3:10 PM

When it came to using monsters in battle, Ash Ketchum was one of the best there was. When it came to using monsters in battle in the context of a card game, Kazu Shiota would have you believe that he was one of the best there was. There was a surprising amount of strategy being used between the two, and the result was a pretty good match, especially since neither of the two were willing to lose.

Izzy watched the match closely. Two inhuman companions were helping their human friends out. If the tamers Digimon were anything like the digi-destineds, theyd give up their lives to save the life of their partner. Angemon did for TK once.

Use quick attack, said Ash, with an uncharacteristic lack of enthusiasm. Probably because Kazu was the intended target. It was also clear that Pikachu didnt enjoy executing the command, but both knew full well what was at stake. Pikachu solemnly followed through, bashing Kazu into the outer ring before Guardromon could get there. Another match was in the books.

Four digi-destined and two tamers had been killed so far. And after all the times that their Digimon had come through to protect their partners, neither Armadillomon, Guilmon, Gomamon, Hawkmon, Patamon, nor Guardromon digivolved. All of the digivices had been taken away, in order to ensure fairness as the AA put it. But that was the biggest loophole in all of this. By all normal logic, the Digimon did not have the power to digivolve. But as Izzy already discovered years ago in matters of life and death, normal logic does not apply. Nothing could stop evolution if it was for the right cause. Saving a partners life was a good cause wasnt it?

Beeda Facility- Lounge- 7:00 PM

It was a legitimate question, one of many that Izzy had. The situation was perfect for a little interrogation session: Mike came across as one of the weaker-minded AA heads, one that would answer questions. He also was Digimons show supervisor; he also was on duty that night.

Mr. Storch? Can I talk to you for a second? Izzy asked.

Mike calmly strolled over and replied, Sure.

I have a couple questions about all this.

Mike was growing increasingly bored with having to defend Shougai from all the inane questions these kids were coming up with, Okay go ahead.

Izzy decided to start with something simple: First off weve never had a problem with Pokmon before. What happened to kick this whole rivalry off?

Mike smiled. I brought your show to the US. That pretty much did it.

I mean here why is it that were suddenly getting involved with a network rivalry?

Oh well thats the whole nature of a network rivalry. Everybodys involved. That applies to American cartoons as well. Mike was about to go into an example but he couldnt think of one. Maybe if he had actually had one of his American cartoons in a reality series, he could elaborate on that.

That doesnt make sense. Isnt Cardcaptors on the WB?

Yeah at least it was.

Why dont we have a rivalry with them?

I dont know probably the whole monster thing. Still, I dont see you becoming instant friends with anyone from Cardcaptors. Why? Because youre on different networks.

Izzy smiled. It was the hole he was looking for. Yes but were on the same network in Japan. If all this network stuff is really important, why would you take two shows airing back-to-back in Japan, and stick them against each other on different networks in America?

Mike shook his head. Is this all you wanted to know? Look, if thats all youre concerned about, do you want me to pick up Angelic Layer and stick it on Fox to make everything right?

Izzy was winning now. Time to bring out the real questions, No biggie. Just wondering. Anyway- my next question is how this is all legal. Im no lawyer, but I do believe that Gary has committed a felony by murdering TK. Why isnt he being locked up?

It was Mikes turn to smile. He replied, Ah there is a little bitterness because of what happened. Network rivalry is at

While theyre at it, they can lock me up too. What I did to Brock was no better, Izzy clarified.

Mike dropped the smile immediately. Oh. Mike thought for a second. He had been given an answer to the question, to avoid spilling anything about the McKormick Reaper. Okay legality do you want me to sugar-coat it or tell you straight out?

Straight out.

Fine- you dont exist in this world. By anyones records you are just a Saturday morning cartoon character, and even if you do die, the only people who will mourn you are your fans, and even they understand that its not real. The best part about the answer was that it was essentially true.

Izzy looked down. He knew he wasnt at home. He knew that in this world, he was just a fictional character. But there was still a missing piece of the puzzle. Then whats the point of all these reality series? What kind of person would watch a reality series that didnt feature real people?

Judging by our ratings, a lot of different kinds of people. Our Mole 2 pulled higher ratings than ABCs Mole 2. So people are watching. Weve found that when we set it up to look like a reality series, people will believe whatever you say. The idea that a bunch of characters from different networks interacting in a different setting just makes it seem so real. Especially since we dont have any direct control over you when youre in this world. But even then, fans still realize that its not really happening. For all they know, everything that happened in Animation Survivor was all planned out and written by some hick from Wisconsin.

But you know its real. Dont you think theres anything wrong with this?

New York, NY- 7:05 PM

He had only been going off the episodes Dave was sending him. Even based on those alone, Shougai was looking fantastic. But there was always some good behind-the-scenes action that the cameras never caught. Thats what the extranet was for. He logged on to the server, typed in the password, and found what he was looking for. Barb wasnt the only one with access to the cameras. Always the voyeur, he decided to check in on Mike and Izzys conversation.

My last question," Izzy began, "You took our digivices away in order to prevent our Digimon from digivolving, right?

Mike smiled as he replied, Yeah.  That was an easy question!

Since when was something like that ever able to control digivolution? Weve shown time and time again that if we really need it, nothing can stop it.

What do you mean? Name one time you were able to

Apocalymon. Our tags, our crests, all destroyed. That didnt stop us.

So what- youre saying it was a miracle or an act of God? Mike raised an eyebrow.

Well, if you want to put it that way- sure. Because I cant explain it.

Mike started to laugh. Oh man this is why I love this line of work. You guys really didnt have any idea did you? Thanks for the ego boost, but I was just doing my job.

What do you mean?

Look, lets face it, if it werent for the Animation Alliance and our Japanese counterparts, you guys would have died a long time ago. If you only knew how many times weve had to go in and find some way to manipulate a victory for the group. Mike had to set the record straight. If nothing else, these characters were taking miracles for granted. It was time to put them in their place. Any time something unexplainable happens that allows you to stay alive? Thats not a miracle thats the Animation Alliance. Did you think it was Ken and the others that were able to seal Daemon away? No- that was the Animation Alliance! You think one of the sovereign just decided to make Jeri a Tamer for no real reason? No- that was the Animation Alliance! And honestly, do you really believe that a bunch of Pokmon crying would be able to bring Ash back to life? Of course not that was the Animation Alliance.

Mike started to walk away, but stopped to add, We are a lot more than just a bunch of guys producing some reality shows were your saviors. You should consider being more respectful.

Izzy sat down. It was true they were in control. The AA held all the cards. He couldnt alert the police because he was just a fictional character here. He couldnt escape, because the AA dictated who came here and who went home. Furthermore, any attempt to retaliate and bring the company down wouldnt be fair- Rika and the other Tamers were in the battle of their lives, and they would have nowhere to go if they needed a miracle. But the more Izzy thought about it, the more he realized that the AAs ability to control may have the answer.

Bring Ash back to life Izzy mumbled. He didnt know what Mike was referring to with the Pokmon crying but he did know that Ash was right down the hall.

Dammit... Was it just him or did Mike just ruin everything before his own eyes? He was just the quiet sponsor, but he was going to have to speak up to make sure everything was kosher. He picked up the phone.

Kohler Complex- Control Room- 7:10 PM

Tom was going through some more editing when the phone rang. He calmly picked it up and answered, Ahoy-oy?

Did you just hear what that one guy said to that kid?

Uh Tom wasnt sure who it was, but details would have been nice.

Hes one of you AA guys. He just told one of the contestants about bringing Ash back to life. He was in the lounge at Beeda, just ran off down the hall.

Hm Mikes on duty tonight. Lets have a look. Tom wheeled over to the cameras and went to the first floor hall. Izzy was trying to figure out which door belonged to Ash.The kid running down the hall?

Yeah, thats him. Mike said something about how it wasnt the Pokeyman crying that brought Ash back to life, that it was you guys. He paused for a second. Strange business you guys run. But anyway, he just gave away everything!

Hey are you the sponsor guy that came up with all this?

Yes I am, and Im really concerned about my investment!

I wouldnt be if hes looking for Ash, theres nothing to worry about.

Meanwhile, Izzy couldnt find Ash, but he did bump into Tracey. Izzy! Whats up?

I have to find Ash.

Oh okay. Lets see, he was the third seed for today so that will put him in room 105. Tracey calmly walked up to the room.

How do you know?

Our room assignments are based on our seeds and what division were in. Im surprised you havent figured that out already. Tracey smiled, then knocked on Ashs door.

Ash answered promptly, Yeah?

Ash- do you remember something about being brought back to life? Something about the Pokmon crying or something. Mike just said something about Izzy composed himself and asked the question.

What? Pokmon crying?" Ash stared, bewildered at the thought, "I have no idea what youre talking about. Believe me, Izzy, if I was brought back to life by Pokmon crying Id definitely remember it.

Oh. Okay. Izzy said, dejected. Thanks away. Ash shut the door. Izzy shook his head and turned to Tracey. Maybe Im just hearing things. All of this is stressing me out too much.

Must be. I dont know how it works with you guys but Pokmon dont cry. Theres an old legend about it but thats all it is, Tracey stated.

Whatever. See you Tracey. Izzy walked away.

What the The mysterious sponsor was totally confused.

Tom smiled, and coolly stated, You thought Mewtwo erased the memories of Ash, Misty, and Brock after the incident? Nope that was the Animation Alliance.

Day Five
Kohler Complex- Arena- 11:58 AM

Matt stood next to Tai and Gabumon. His opponent, Mousse, was alone on the other end of the arena. Thanks for helping me out, Tai, Matt said quietly.

Wheres Sora?

Sora hasnt been watching. Especially not after Matt couldnt finish.

You okay?

I just want to get this over with. Matt turned to Gabumon. You okay with this Gabumon?

I guess so, but there has to be a better way of doing this, his Digimon replied.

This is the best one we could think of.

Begin! No sooner had Artie given the signal had Gabumon started. It was all planned out.

Blue Blaster! It wasnt any worse than a high-powered water gun, but it was all Matt needed. The highly concentrated blast of water was more than enough to allow Mousses curse to take effect. Matts task had been reduced from beating a martial artist to beating a duck. Matt approached it to finish things off.

Still the duck wasnt giving in so easily. It flew around, desperately trying to get itself into a position to attack Matt. It did, and struck. Matt caught the duck and both collided with the ground. Matt carried the duck to the outer ring and attempted to throw it in, but Mousse started to fly away. Fortunately for Matt, Gabumon was right there. Another Blue Blaster, and Mousse was disabled, and fell into the ring. Matt sighed in relief. He was still alive.

Matt walked back to Tai. Matt wasnt happy about, nor did he feel any sense of accomplishment in his victory. Still, Tai could only wonder how Matt was able to focus himself enough to do defeat Mousse. What was that?? Tai asked.

Two words- scouting report. Tracey said that the best thing you can do to prepare for a series like this is to learn about who youre going up against. Know the enemy, know yourself. Matt was solemn. He was just repeating Traceys words. Tai shook his head and they walked out.

Reception Room- 12:45 PM

Henry was seated, blankly watching Ryo socialize with some of the other contestants. Henry had never felt this bad in his entire life. Between his own stupidity in agreeing to participate in Shougai, witnessing Takatos death, and Ashs stunt with the goggles, Henry was at his wits end. In an hour, he was scheduled to go up against Tasuki. The biggest problem was that he didnt really care. He looked up. Ryo?

Ryo returned with a smile. What do you think would happen if I asked Mimi out on a date?

Im not going to win today, he said blankly. Ryo looked at Henry for a second, then smiled.

Dont say that! Youve gotta win! What happened to that do it for Takato spirit?

I dont think it matters anymore.

But Ryo was trying to reason through words.

Rika, however, had a better idea. Ryo? Learn from a pro Rika approached Henry and slapped him across the face, Wake up Wong youre not getting out of this that easily. Youre going to go in there, youre going to beat Tasuki, and youre going to like it.

Ryo smiled at Rika. Maybe you should be his second

Rika turned to Ryo. If thats what it takes, then fine. Rika returned her attention to Henry, continuing her rant, Im not going to let you take the easy way out. Were in this together whether you like it or not.

Henry shrugged. I dont know, I mean

He was interrupted by Ryo, looking over at Ken, heading to the arena for his match with Tamahome. Hey Ken! Good luck! Ryo shouted.

Yeah thanks, Ken acknowledged politely.

Rika stared at Ryo. You know Ken?

Ryo laughed. Yeah its a long story. Anyway Henry, the whole point of this game is that you cant let it get to you. If you do that, youre screwed.

Henry looked up. Thats my point. What if I am screwed? In the end so what?

So what?," Ryo mocked, "Youre fighting to stay alive, theres a lot of what there. When you sit down and think about it its kind of exhilarating. Its just when you lose someone like Takato that it starts to get to you. Im trying not to let that happen.

So youre saying that I should just forget about whats going on, and try to enjoy killing people?

Ryo frowned. Well if it keeps you alive then yes.

Arena- 1:05 PM

Tamahome pulled himself out of a Sticky Net attack and continued to move around. Besides the occasional attack from Wormmon, Ken wasnt presenting much of a challenge. Tamahome could have ended it immediately, but didnt want to. He wanted to make it as painless as possible. Tamahome had more than enough to live for to encourage him to win the match. But he felt plenty of sympathy for his opponent. All of the dreams and aspirations that Ken had were about to be thrown out the window. The least Tamahome could do was ease the pain. Hotohori was forced to resort to extreme measures to stay alive; Tamahome wasnt about to- Ken happened into a good position, and Tamahome charged. He didnt even use half his strength. It wasnt even a punch- more of a push. Still, it did the job, as Ken fell into oblivion.

He didnt smile. He didnt celebrate. He didnt acknowledge the cheers of the screaming idiots watching. He simply walked up and hugged Miaka.

Tamahome Her voice was so reassuring. Words could not describe how much he loved her. The embrace was not out of relief- Tamahome didnt have a doubt that he was going to win. The embrace was out of fear tomorrow Miaka was going to be on the spot. With her, however, there were plenty of doubts. Shampoo was going to present a much more difficult challenge than Ken did.

Beeda Facility- Lounge- 2:00 PM

Rather than watching the match between Henry and Tasuki, Tracey opted to quietly wait for his own match. Ash joined him, but he wasnt the silent type.

Are you sure this is the best way to prepare for your match?

Tracey glanced at him. Of course it is. Believe it or not, my mind is going a mile a minute. Tracey knew that he himself wasnt fit for this sort of game. Scyther was his only ace. Tracey was playing out every possible scenario.

Tracey? I forgot to thank you for helping me out last night. Tracey looked up at the source of the new voice- Izzy.

Oh no problem.

It didnt help much, but Im just glad that some people are able to see through that stupid show rivalry.

Yeah. You know, I was thinking about that. Would you believe me if I told you that theres a way we can completely take apart that whole show rivalry? To expose it for the fraud that it is?

Izzys interested had been sparked. What do you mean?

Tracey smiled kindly. Want to be my second?

Not really Im trying to stay out of that building as much as possible. Ive seen enough.

You dont really have to do anything. Just being in my corner makes enough of a statement. It shows that theres no boundary between two different shows. We should be focusing on who we are as people rather than what show we come from.

I guess I can do that, but Ill warn you right now- I dont want to get involved. Im not going to help you win or anything.

Thats fine- I shouldnt have much of a problem. Scyther shouldnt have much trouble.

Izzy nodded. Okay then. Ill be there. Maybe we can start to put these guys in their place. Izzy and Tracey shook on it, and Izzy walked away. This could be the start. It was a chance to fight back after what the AA was doing to them.

Ash, however, was very confused. Um Tracey? Isnt

Tracey nodded. I know, I know. Bug types are weak against fire types. So I lied a little. But I think Scythers at a higher level, so I could still win.

Ash folded his arms and sat back in his chair. Thats not what I was talking about, he muttered.

Kohler Complex- Arena- 2:00 PM

Tasuki sized up Henry, standing there with Rika and Terriermon. This wasnt going to be too hard. His only concern was with Rika. Hed get in trouble if she got caught in the attack. He walked up to her and shouted, Hey you- girlie. Get out of the way. Rika stared back at him. Tasuki was not telepathic, but her glare sent the message- fuck off. Tasuki continued to approach Rika. No seriously get out of the way.

He grabbed her arm, but was immediately reprimanded by Artie, Hey! You cant touch the seconds! Artie shook his head and sat down- his glare seemed angry at the fact that he actually had to do something as referee.

Look, if I cant touch you, youre going to have to get over here! Tasuki grew more frustrated as Rika remained still. Dammit its so easy just walk over and Tasuki stopped as Rika smiled. She walked so that she was directly in-between Tasuki and Henry.

Rika Now Henry was the one trying to get Rika out of the way. He had a different reason though- Terriermon was charged up and ready to attack. Rika looked over to make sure, and bounced out of the way.

Terrier Tor

Lekka Shien!! The second Rika was out of the way, Tasuki had readied, aimed, and fired. His metal fan brought forth an awesome fury of flame.

She could feel the heat from the flame along her back. She knew that she had made a mistake and turned away to avoid witnessing Henry and Terriermon being incinerated.

Announcers Booth- 2:50 PM

Henry wasnt happy. Three matches, and none of them lasted more than two minutes. Dave approached him. Look, its not that bad. We got an upset out of it. Any day when a six seed can beat a three seed isnt

These matches are starting to get predictable. There was no challenge for Tasuki or Tamahome.

Well, well just have to make up for it with the behind-the-scenes action.

Mike better get on the ball then, because we have a total of five minutes of competition for this episode so far. That requires a lot of filler space in a half-hour episode.

So we sell more commercial time. Were getting some good proposals already. Fox, ABC, and CBS all want to put Shougai on the air and all want to pay top dollar for it. Dave was still excited after hearing that. This was going to be more profitable than he had envisioned.

Henry, though, was skeptical. Wait ABC and CBS? Why are they interested? ABCs been pretty pissed at us since Mole 2: AE got higher ratings.

Dave smiled. Top show on the WB last season although thats not saying much.

Henry continued, And CBS do they even know who we are? Animation Survivor wasnt even noticeable compared to the real thing.

Well, I briefly mentioned it to ABC a couple weeks ago. I guess they got word of it and were interested. Maybe Artie talked to CBS. I think he has some connections with them.

Either way its strange. Its been more than twenty years since the Animation Alliance has had really strong programming on one of the big three networks. Why now? Why this?

Look- Survivor pulled solid ratings for Fox. The Moles pulled great ratings for the WB. Pokball Run pulled well it was good for UPN. It was only a matter of time before the big three realized that we are a force to be reckoned with.

North Entrance- 2:58 PM

Izzy watched as Tracey called out Scyther and gave him a quick pep talk. Its a little strange for me too, but if we dont do this, were both in trouble. Tracey turned to Izzy. Hey- that does bring up a good question. What do they do with our Pokmon if we lose?

Izzy recalled the image of Artie mindlessly tossing the Pokball containing Onix into the outer ring, as if the rock-type was just a crumpled up sheet of paper to be tossed in the trash. Same fate I guess.

Scyther! Scyther cried. He wasnt about to let that happen.

Well Izzy, hes ready. Lets show them exactly how much difference two shows make.

Izzy started to follow Tracey. So who do you play against?

Thats the best part. Our being on the same side has even more significance. It shows that show loyalty is just fictitious. Just because hes from the same show doesnt mean that youll always side with Tai.

Izzy stopped. What?? Unfortunately, by the time he did so, it was too late. He was standing on the opposite end of Tai, Matt, and Agumon.

Izzy?? What the hell are you doing? Matt yelled, infuriated.

Izzy was slowly becoming infuriated. Was this all just another of Traceys little games? He turned to Tracey. You never told me you were playing Tai.

Tracey smiled at Izzy. Why does that matter? You do want to stop this rivalry dont you? The best way to show that Digimon and Pokmon can get along is for you to show that your loyalty lies in your friends, not in your show.

But but Tai is my friend!

Yeah I kinda forgot about that. But just smile for the cameras, pretend that youre on my side, and itll all be over soon!

This was too much. Even if Tracey was right, Izzy was still being put in this position. There wasnt an excuse for this. There was no reason for Tracey and Tai to kill each other. There was no reason for Tai and Izzy to be on opposite sides. There was no reason for any of this to be happening. Unfortunately, Izzy was beyond rational thought. Tracey sounded sincere, and his idea had plenty of merit. But it was perfectly clear now why he wanted Izzy as a second he wanted to fuck with everybodys head again. After everything that was going on- all the death, manipulation, and suffering After all of that, Izzy wasnt going to take it anymore. Just as Tracey was about to send Scyther after Tai Izzy sent himself after Tracey. And all of the morals in the world couldnt stop Izzy from socking Tracey in the face.

Now Im really confused. Tai didnt know what was happening. Scythers instincts took over- he had to protect his trainer. Izzy backpedaled as Scyther charged after him.

The hell?? Artie was as confused as everybody else.

Henrys voice sounded in Arties microphone, Uh is that legal?

Well seconds cant attack an opponent. An opponent cant attack a second there isnt anything about seconds attacking their teammates. I guess its legal. Hey- it looks good anyway. Adds to the drama!

Tai had to do something. Scyther had just knocked Izzy down. There was no telling what it was going to do next. Tai was about to give Agumon the signal to attack Scyther when Matt stopped him. Hold on look over there. Izzys punch wasnt all that strong, but it was enough to send Tracey reeling to the side- dangerously close to the outer ring. Finish off Tracey and thatll take care of Scyther, Matt said.

But Tai looked up at Matt. It wasnt that easy was it? Tai didnt like Tracey, but killing him was definitely not a good way to settle their feud. And Matt- he had just become friends with the person he told Tai to kill. Unfortunately, with Scyther bearing down on Izzy, there were few options. Agumon youre going to have to go after Tracey.

But! Agumon objected.

Just do it! Tai screamed.

Agumon relented, and fired a Pepper Breath. It was right on target; the mutual distaste that had existed between Tracey and Tai had ended.

As Matt had stated, the second Tracey was out of the picture. Artie had sucked Scyther into a Pokball, leaving an extremely shaken-up Izzy. Matt ran up to Izzy. Are you okay?

Izzy slowly stood up. Physically, Scyther did little than bruise him although his hand certainly hurt. Mentally though, the whole episode did a number on him. He was breathing heavily, his hands were shaking, and he was trying to stay focused. Izzy? You sure youre okay? Izzy didnt respond to Matt's question. You uh want a glass of water or something? Matt shook his head and started to exit the arena. He didnt know and he didnt really care.

I have to get out of here, Izzy mumbled as he followed Matt.

Beeda Facility- Lounge- 6:00 PM

Madison and Sakura were positioned behind a couch, just inside the room, on a brief scouting assignment. They had no way of knowing how Kodachi behaved in battle, but they could certainly observe her behavior here.

Madison put down her camera and sighed, Do you really think this will help?

We have to try Madison. I know the odds are stacked against you, but there has to be some way for you to get through this. Theres always a way.

Madison tried to smile for her best friend. I know that Sakura. Youre right. Youre always right. Im still worried though. I mean I dont want to die.

Try not to think of it that way. Its not about what happens if you lose its about what happens if you win.

I guess so. Madison was still nervous, but Sakura encouraged her a little.

While Sakura and Madison continued to scout Kodachi, Miaka and Tamahome burst into the room, and dived behind the couch.

Uh what is it guys? Miaka and Tamahome shushed Madison. Within a second, Ranma entered the room, followed by a very cute Shampoo.

Shampoo would be so so happy if Ranma be Shampoo second.

Shampoo, for the last time- Im not going to be your second. Im trying to avoid playing favorites. Thats the last thing I need right now. Ranma was setting the record straight. Miaka and Tamahome continued to watch Shampoo intently.

But Ranma was Akane second, Shampoo pouted.

Ranma sweated a few bullets. Well yeah but Akane might have needed my help! See you- you dont need any help to win!

By this time, Kodachi had gotten up and approached the Amazon. Actually, Shampoo, the reason that my dear Ranma isnt going to be your second is because hes going to be mine tomorrow! She followed with a round of evil laughter.

Ranma cringed. What?!

Okay ribbon-girl- there only one way to settle this- whoever win get Ranma as second! Shampoo jumped back and got into her preparatory fighting position. Kodachi got out her ribbon, a must-have for any specialist in Anything Goes Martial Arts Rhythmic Gymnastics. Ranma just got out the way. Fortunately, there were few others in the lounge at the time most smelled trouble when it was just Kodachi in there.

Ranma walked up to the couch delegation, now taking serious interest in the previews of Kodachi and Shampoos fighting styles. What are you guys doing?

Shh were watching how they fight. Miaka and Madison have to play them tomorrow, Tamahome said.

Ah Ranma put a hand on both Miaka and Madisons shoulder. Well, good luck By the time he had said it, both Kodachi and Shampoo were glaring at him. Neither had taken too kindly to Ranma wishing luck to their opponents. Ranma backpedaled, Hey! Hey! I was just being polite!

Since when has Ranma ever been polite? Shampoo spat.

Shes got a point there Tamahome smiled.

TAMAHOME!! Both Ranma and Miaka were angry. Before doing anything about it though, Ranma decided that it was best to turn tail and run. Kodachi and Shampoo chased after him.

Do I even want to know? Misty had entered from the same door the Nerima trio had exited. Needless to say, she was a tad confused.

I dont think so, Tamahome stated.

Say Misty who do you play tomorrow? Sakura asked.

Me? Mimi Tachikawa Misty smiled. And if shes an angel then Im Unit 02.

I dont get it. Being from Ancient China, Tamahome didnt watch much anime. Another thing I dont get is what the heck was up with Traceys match.

Dont get me started. Little digi-destined punks that was a dirty trick fooling Tracey into trusting Izzy like that. I bet they had that all planned out from the start. Misty folded her arms. She was clearly unhappy at the result.

Would you give it a rest?? Ash walked in behind her. All Ive been hearing from you since we got here is how much you hate Digimon. I dont believe you Misty. I was there. Tracey brought it on himself. He asked Izzy to be his second.

Yeah and Izzy backstabbed him like the rat he is. I cant believe Tracey of all people fell for it.

Ash stared at Misty sadly. I cant believe you. I dont know what your problem is but youre going to have to realize that the digi-destined arent as bad as you think they are. If you dont then I have no reason to even bother talking to you.

Ash turned around and walked out. Misty stared at the ground and sighed. She took a deep breath and ran after him. Ash, wait!

Room 310- 10:00 PM

Tai knocked on the door. After a second, the reply came, Who is it?

Its me Tai. Look, I want to In a flash, the door was open. Izzy looked around the hall, and quickly pulled Tai into the room, slamming the door behind.

Hey Tai. Look at what I found.

Tai shook his head, not hearing Izzys statement. I dont know what happened this afternoon but Im sure that whatever it was, there probably was a perfectly good reason for it. Still, I probably should talk to you and figure out what the Izzy was on his computer, seemingly ignoring Tai. Um Izzy?

Sorry Tai. This is big. Izzy paused. Feeling the need to address the issue, he turned back. Look- this afternoon I was stupid and got talked into doing something because I thought it would help us out. I was wrong, and Im sorry.

Oh well thats what I figured. The match with Tracey messed Tai up in more ways than just that, but it was nice to get the situation with Izzy cleared up. So whats this big thing?

Check this out Tai pulled up a chair next to Izzys desk. His laptop was perched on it. I found their extranet.

Uh extranet?

Izzy stopped, and turned to Tai, turning on his explanation mode: An extranet is very similar to an intranet, only that instead of an enclosed network restricted to a geographic region, the enclosed network can be carried all over the world, accessible only to people who have the right to get into it. Good so far?

Tai glared at Izzy. They have an intranet now?

Point is- I found it for the Animation Alliance.

Okay but do you have the right to access it?

Izzy smiled. Well thats how its supposed to work. In truth Izzy clicked his mouse, and a new window appeared on his screen. He was in. I cant believe they let me bring my computer.

Heh did you see what Kari brought?

What? Fushigi Yuugi? So what?

Think about it- she has everything she needs to know about that show on DVD. If one of her opponents was from that series, shed have an advantage. At this point we should take whatever advantage we get. Tai paused. I think Im comfortable enough with my masculinity to do a full scouting report on Tamahome.

You cant be serious, Izzy said, skeptical.

Tai stood up. Look- Matt and I held hands that one time! That doesnt mean anything!

Izzy rolled his eyes. Im not talking about that. You would go to those lengths to make sure that you win your next match?

Its not exactly a walk in the park. I dont enjoy killing bishounen but its the only way we can get through this. If one of us wins this thing maybe we can set this all right.

Izzy continued to play around with the site. If you ask me, I think we should flat-out try to stop Shougai.

Tai raised an eyebrow. If you figure out a way to do it, let me know. Tai continued to watch Izzy going to work on the net. You know Davis and Matt go against Nuriko and Tasuki next. Maybe we can endure the pain together.

Prodigious Izzy was in awe.


Check this out- the cameras. Tai came in for a closer look. The screen contained a list of all the cameras- a few were labeled by room number. Oh God I hope they dont have a camera in here. Izzy scanned the numbers. Nope. Tai pick a room. Lets spy on somebody.

Izzy I didnt think you were into that kind of thing.

Im not. I just want to see if thats really what this is.

Tai smiled. Hey Im not judging you- go into Mistys room.

Izzy smiled and shook his head. Tai, Tai, Tai lets see Misty is what- fourth seed tomorrow? That makes her 208. Izzy checked the list. No camera in her room either.

How do you know?

Room numbers are assigned based on ranking and what day you compete. Tracey told me that yest Izzy stopped. He said the T word. Sorry.

Its okay. Tai looked down. You know the worst part about all this? Its bad enough that I killed the guy. What makes it really bad is remembering all the times that I felt like I wanted to. Now that I have its an eye-opener. Every decent human in the world is one moral fiber away from being a murderous beast.

Thats why we need to put a stop to this. Theres no fiber here. Izzy looked at the screen. 112. That should be Matts room. Hes a friend hes a he. Should be safe. Izzy clicked on the link. A video file started to load. The live stream was almost pitch black.

Tai tilted his head. Must not be working. Oh well.

The lights are off, Tai. You can make out some shading if you look close enough. Hes probably sleeping. It is past ten.

Tai stood up and stretched his arms. Yeah. I should probably get some sleep too. Ill have to talk to Matt and Davis tomorrow about

Are you still up? Tai turned around. That wasnt Izzy.

Prodigious they have audio too. That was Izzy. He was fiddling around with the speakers on his computer.

Im just worried about tomorrow. That wasnt Izzy either. That was clearly Sora. Tai dived at the monitor, trying to catch a glimpse of what was going on.

Izzy cracked a half-smile. Surprised? Tai nodded, while giving up and taking a seat. I mean they are dating. Its not like Soras sleeping with Davis or something.

Again, Tai leaned in closer. Sleeping??

Izzy clarified, Yes, Tai. Sleeping. As in resting during nighttime hours in order to feel refreshed the next day. Sora is apparently accomplishing that process in Matts room. Nothing more.

Tai sighed in relief. Spooning, Izzy. The correct term, then, is spooning, he explained.

Ive never heard that term before. Spooning is what you do with your cereal the next morning after sleeping.

You need to get out more, Izzy.

Sora, its going to be alright. Im not going to let anything happen to you. Although it was much too dark to see anything, Matt was clearly comforting Sora, If I lost you I dont know what Id do. There was a pause in the dialogue, followed by, I love you.

Matt no. Not yet Sora sounded threatened.

Matt paused again. Okay. Sorry. I just never mind. Sorry.

Even if Izzy couldnt see it, he knew what was probably going on. We really shouldnt be watching this Tai. Izzy looked back at his fellow voyeur, fixated on the dialogue. Tai? No response. Izzy smiled. Face it Tai youre wishing you were Matt right now.

Tai looked at Izzy, a little threatened. Name one guy who wouldnt want to be Matt right now!

Izzy tilted his head. Nuriko?

Not you?

Izzy stared at Tai and said, I have no romantic interest in Sora. Im barely friends with her as it is. Still theyre awfully close. Izzy shook off the thought. Regardless, we are impeding on their privacy.

Tai continued to stare at the monitor. He still couldnt see anything, and the conversation had subsided. There was something wrong with all of this. Regardless of who it was, this was a massive invasion of their privacy. This whole project wasnt about killing people. It wasnt about making children suffer. It was about television. They were doing all of this for one reason to put it on television and make money. That was lower than anything else they were doing. The plan was to win and get his friends back. But even that wasnt enough if it meant that the Animation Alliance still won. Theyd still have their series, and theyd have their profit. Theyd also have a kick-ass ending. Tai couldnt let that happen.

Izzy weve got to stop these guys.

End Chapter Six

Authors Notes

Im trying to put into perspective exactly what the Animation Alliance is about, and where exactly the previous series fell in terms of the TV world. Basically, the Survivors aired on Fox, the Moles aired on the WB, and Pokball Run aired on UPN in the seasons that they were posted at (i.e. AS in Fall 2000; AS2 in Spring 2001). The order of ratings (from highest to lowest) was Mole 2, AS, Pokball Run, Mole 1, and AS2. This has almost nothing to do with the actual plot, but it is an elaboration on Henry and Daves conversation.

Another plot that seemed to disappear temporarily we will be seeing a lot more of Moore Facility starting around chapter eight. Right now, I have to finish up the first round. Once thats done, everything starts getting crazy as if it isnt already.

In case youre like Tamahome and dont watch much anime, Mistys reference to angels and Unit 02 were from Neon Genesis Evangelion. The angels were the monsters destroying Tokyo, and Unit 02 was one of the mechas trying to kill them, and is piloted by a bitchy redhead whose voice actress (a redhead, although not a bitchy one) grabbed my program book at Anime Central and autographed it without my permission. How rude

Chapter Seven- Losing Isnt Everything
Sometimes irony acts in very strange ways. Those penned as losers can end up on top. Those fated to die in one realm can live in another. Those who seem the most confident can end up in the worst condition. On the final day of the first round, eight girls prepare for battle, while everybody else prepares to deal with the results.

Current "Shougai" Standings