Grim Reality

Chapter Nine- Brotherhood

Day Seven
Kohler Complex- Control Room- 8:00 AM

The six gathered to discuss the most serious and controversial issue to befall Shougai. Artie and Manny explained the entire situation to the remaining four, especially Dave and Tom since they were totally unaware.

“Well… two birds, one stone from where I sit,” Dave said, finding no problem with it.

“Come again?” Manny asked.

“What? A few of the players were considering revolting against the game. Meanwhile, Izzy found out about the McKormick. That’s two significant problems. Now, Izzy’s out of the game and can’t tell anybody, while the potential rebels will obviously take Izzy’s ‘suicide’ pretty hard.” Dave smirked. They had already decided that they couldn’t tell the truth. It was a no-brainer. “Two problems… solved. Very handily, I might add. Good work.”

“What?!” Artie exclaimed with dismay, “Okay, so we solve those two… but we’ve just opened up a zillion more!”

Dave frowned. “How so?”

Artie contorted his face into one of the excited facial expressions only he was capable of. “We’re trying to run a reality series! I just killed one of the contestants!! That is a problem!”

“Oh. That is true.”

“We have to effectively convince the other contestants that it was indeed a suicide,” Mike said.

“And figure out how to treat it on the program. The audience will notice a glaring omission like Izzy’s second match,” Manny added.

“We can’t just ignore it either. It’s all those Digimon kids will be talking about in their confessionals… trust me.”

“Look…” Tom was thinking rationally, and had come to a conclusion before opening his mouth. “As far as the actual game is concerned, Izzy and Ranma were scheduled for 1:00. That gives us…” Tom checked his watch and did some mental math. “…five hours to determine what to do about that. As far as I’m concerned, that’s plenty of time to work something out. Let’s not worry about it for now. For the series, we can cover it all in post-production. Manny, Dave, just don’t talk about it when covering the first match. By the time 1:00 rolls around, we should have some answers and can add some discussion about it later.”

“Should I get some of those confessionals about it though?” Mike asked.

“Definitely.” Tom thought for a second, then returned to explaining how to pull all this off. “The people I work with for South Park are really last-second when it comes to editing all the footage in post-production. Point is, they keep all their vocal talent ready to go to work on short notice. As luck would have it, Mona Marshall is one of the vocal talents on South Park, and also does the voice of Izzy. Therefore, if we need her to record a few lines about why he committed suicide or whatever… it’s no problem.” Tom sighed. “The pressing matter right now is convincing those kids that this isn’t some massive cover-up. I don’t know what time they wake up, so...”

“They gradually drifted off starting around ten. They’re still asleep now.” Everybody looked over at Barb, who had been distancing herself from the conversation. She had the Room 209 camera up on the screen and was watching six figures sleeping peacefully in the room.

“Wow… Davis is a playboy.” Manny pointed at Davis, who seemed blissfully aware that both Kari and Jeri were sleeping on each of his shoulders. He continued to dream, with a wry smile on his face. “Let us know when they get up. Artie and I are going to clean house,” Manny said.

Manny took one step towards the exit, when Barb said, “They’re getting up. At least Ryo is.”

Manny forced a smile. “I guess we’ll have to work fast then.”

Beeda Facility- Room 209- 8:10 AM

Ryo stretched his arms out. It took him a minute to remember that he wasn’t sleeping in his own bed. It smelled too… feminine. He recalled what was going on- the sleepover at Kari’s pad. He scanned the room. The other five were still present. Tai was crashed out on the desk chair. Rika was dozing off on one side of the couch, while Davis was acting as a pillow for Kari and Jeri on the other side. He definitely didn’t seem to mind. Ryo tiptoed over and nudged Rika on the shoulder. She opened an eyelid, and realized that she was sitting.

Shh.” Ryo prevented Rika from saying anything as they made eye-contact, but couldn’t help but point out Jeri’s sleeping condition. Rika briefly smiled, then nudged Jeri awake.

“No school… puppy’s sick today,” Jeri mumbled. Rika tried again, this time successfully bringing Jeri back into the world.

Jeri blushed slightly upon seeing Davis, but shook it off quickly. Ryo quietly pointed for the exit, and the Tamers made their escape from the party.

“Are we just going to let them sleep?” Jeri asked.

“Why not? They can do whatever they want as far as I’m concerned,” Ryo replied as the three made their way towards the staircase.

“Well, I’m going to get some breakfast.”

The three stopped as they reached the stairwell. “I’ll be right behind you. I’m going to run upstairs and change.”

“I’ll go with you,” Rika absentmindedly replied to Ryo.

Ryo smiled, almost dumbfounded. “You know… you make it way too easy for me. You set yourself up… you know that.”

Rika looked away, somewhat irate. “I meant that I’ll go up with you so I can check and see if Izzy’s in his room. I have to give him a piece of my mind for skipping out on us... or a piece of my fist.”

Ryo turned to Jeri. “We’ll meet you down there.”

Lounge- 8:14 PM

Manny, Dave, and Artie scanned the situation. Everything seemed normal. Everybody was going about their normal business. The cafeteria had just opened up, and many of the early risers were there to get some breakfast before Julian could eat it all. Nobody suspected a thing… except for Tim, who angrily marched towards the trio.

Manny smiled. “Something tells me you didn’t get my voice mail.”

Tim frowned. “Something tells me you know what’s in the lab.”

“Yeah… we had a little security problem. Had to take manners a little farther than we had hoped.” Manny remained low-key, to ensure that no unintended ears received the message. He turned to Dave. “Dave, stay here and monitor everybody. If anybody’s causing a problem, let us now. Artie, let’s tidy up Tim’s office.”

While Dave stayed behind, Manny, Artie, and Tim continued down the hall towards the lab.

“You know, we should probably just leave him there. We’re just going to bring him back tonight anyway, right?” Artie suggested.

“Probably. Should clean the scene up though, put him in a good position...”

“Get an air freshener in there,” Tim muttered.

“It’s a bit strange though- I mean he went out so dramatically and he ends up getting revived like everybody else in the end.” Manny thought for a second, “I wish there was a way we could make something like this stick. Remind him why he got taken out this way.”

Tim smiled. “Well, if you’re going to be all evil and have a God complex and stuff, I might as well get some fun out of it too. I have a trick up my sleeve. Leave it to me.”

Back in the lounge, Tenchi observed the three closely. They seemed awfully suspicious. Dave sat down in a chair nearby. “Hey Tenchi. What’s up?” he said.

Tenchi immediately stood up and walked out. “I’m getting breakfast.” He wasn’t going to be caught dead near these people.

3rd Floor Hallway- 8:15 AM

Rika continued to knock on the door. Either Izzy was a hard sleeper to wake up, or he wasn’t in the room. Ryo exited his own room. “Should I be pissed off or worried?” Rika said to him.

“I don’t know… he’s the one that tried to get me to sleep over in the first place. I’m surprised he wasn’t there either.”

Rika shook her head, and immediately felt the after-effects of sleeping in an unusual position. She rubbed her neck. “Trouble sleeping?” Ryo asked.


“Maybe you should have had a pillow like Jeri did.”

“Shut up… you got lucky, you got the bed.”

Ryo put his hands up defensively, as a big smile grew on his face. “I was willing to share!”

Rika was about ready to punch him, then relented. “Okay, that time I set myself up.”

Ryo dropped the conversation after his opponent conceded defeat. “Shame I didn’t get to see those videos of Ryoga though. Maybe I can find somebody that knows him enough and is willing to spill. Maybe I’ll try one of the Kunos.”

“If that doesn’t work, try Gary Oak. Henry told me they worked together in Mole. Gary might know a few of his secrets.”

Ryo was silent for a few seconds as the duo headed downstairs to join Jeri for breakfast. For some reason, there was no wry comment that seemed appropriate. Ryo said the only thing that made sense.


Cafeteria- 8:17 AM

Tenchi quietly ate breakfast with Sakura. Something was bothering him about Dave’s presence at the facility.

“Hey, Sakura. Do you sense anything funny right now?”

Sakura looked up from her pancakes. “Like a Clow Card?”

“No… something’s bugging me.”

Jeri sat down a couple seats over, ensuring that there would be room for Rika and Ryo once they arrived. Tenchi saw the newcomer at the table and turned to her. “Hey, how about you?” Jeri looked up at Tenchi. “Do you smell anything fishy going on right now?”

“Well… all our friends are being killed and nobody seems to care about us.”

“Besides that. That’s bad enough. I think something else is going on.”

“What do you mean?” Jeri slid over slightly so she could join the conversation.

“Dave’s here. So’s Artie and Manny. Usually they only stick one supervisor here to chaperone the place every night.”


“Why are there three of them here today? Usually everybody else doesn’t get here until ten or so.”

“I don’t think it’s a big deal. Even I get up early once in awhile.” Sakura smiled. “I don’t even know who’s supervising my show.”

“My guess would be Manny.”

“Yeah… makes sense.”

Rika and Ryo arrived on the scene, and joined the trio. Ryo sat next to Sakura and said, “Hey Jeri. Making some new friends?” Jeri nodded while Ryo turned to Sakura. “Hi… let’s see… Sakura right?” Sakura smiled and nodded. “Yeah, I remember you from…” Ryo stopped. He remembered her because she was in the arena with the guy he killed. “Never mind.”

“Rika, Tenchi says a few of the AA guys are here already. Maybe you should ask one of them about Izzy,” Jeri said.

“Probably. They have hidden cameras everywhere, so I’m sure they know where he is.” Rika ended the conversation and turned to breakfast. She had to get something to eat before pursuing the issue further.

1st Floor Hallway- 8:25 AM

Manny and Artie returned from their little excursion. Manny was somewhat solemn. It was a necessary precaution, but it still gave him the willies. He needed something to eat after getting Izzy ready to run through the McKormick with the losers from today’s matches. Artie pulled out a sheet of paper and read it carefully.

“What’s that?” Manny asked.

Artie passed it over. “It’s Izzy’s… suicide note.” Artie snickered quietly. “Yolei snuck an e-mail to him.”

Manny glanced over the printout. “Good.” Artie eyed him questionably. Manny elaborated, “Well, not good. We’ll have to get on Tom’s case for letting it happen. But it means that Barb’s off the hook. Izzy said something about a ‘she’ telling him about the secret. I thought it was Barb because she’s the only she that knows.” Manny smiled. “Never mind.”

Artie shook his head as they entered the cafeteria. “Man, Manny. You’re just dying to sneak a mole into this reality series, aren’t ya?”

Manny folded his arms, seemingly non-chalant. “Oh, there is a mole in this series Artie… just one that’s working for us.”

“Hey, Edwards,” Rika said, walking up to Manny. He barely even noticed that she wanted his attention until she firmly called his name.

“Oh, uh… hi Rika.” Manny tried to remain neutral. Although he wasn’t about to offer condolences, he didn’t feeling like acting superior at a time like this.

“Where the hell’s Izzy?” Manny jumped back a few feet. She hadn’t even heard the news, and he was suddenly in a position to B.S. an answer. He looked at Artie with some trepidation. He too was hesitant. Fortunately, Manny realized the one thing that exonerated him… this wasn’t his job.

“You mean Dave hasn’t told you? He’s your supervisor, it’s his job to handle it.”

“What happened to him?” Rika was concerned. Manny was clearly dodging the answer. Manny put a hand on Rika’s shoulder and guided her towards the lounge, where Dave was still sitting. Artie, Ryo, and Jeri, all curious parties, followed.

“Dave!! Get off your ass for a second and do your job!”

Dave stood. “What job? The first match doesn’t start until noon.”

“Yeah, but you’re in charge of Digimon Tamers. You have a responsibility to answer questions your show’s characters may have.” Manny was smiling nervously.

“What kinda questions?”

“Where the hell is Izzy?!” Rika demanded. Dave screamed.

“Have fun Dave!” Manny and Artie shouted. They stood at the end of the hall; to watch him work.

“Guys… you can’t do this to me…” Dave was pleading to get out of it. “You know I don’t work well with kids. For Christ’s sake, I hate kids. I work for Disney for crying out loud!” Dave slapped his forehead and muttered, “Jeez, this is why I don’t host these things. How the hell am I supposed to tell her he committed suicide?”

“What was that?” Rika caught part of that.

“He committed suicide,” Dave said flat out. He turned to Artie and Manny. “There? Happy? Can I go now?”

“Hold on a minute… what do you mean he committed suicide?” Rika was angry. He couldn’t possibly be telling the truth.

“What else is there to know? Izzy killed himself. And it’s driving all of us up the wall.”

Rika was in shock. “But…” She shook her head. “I don’t believe you.”

“You don’t have to…” Dave turned to Manny, “Hey, can we show her?”

Manny thought for a second. “Yeah. We got it all cleaned up. If she thinks she can handle it.”

Rika was still in denial, and had to see the truth for herself. She followed the three heads down the hallway, praying that it was all a joke.

Beeda Facility- 8:40 AM

Ryo and Jeri stood outside the lab while Rika did her business with Dave, Manny, and Artie. Neither had known Izzy very well; neither were too emotional about it.

“Ryo… do you think he really did it?” Jeri asked.

“Did what? Kill himself?” Jeri nodded. “Hard to say. This kind of thing is tough. I can’t say I’m too surprised that some people couldn’t handle it. But suicide… that’s almost like cheating. It’s the easy way out. The coward’s way.” Ryo paused for a second. He didn’t want to touch on such a sensitive subject with Jeri, but it was the best example. “I mean, look at Takato. He fought. He tried. Obviously, it’s sad that he’s gone, but at least he went down swinging. Here… that’s the least you can do.”

Rika stepped out of the building. She was frozen in shock.

“Rika? You okay?”

She walked back towards the residence, without answering. Ryo caught up to her and asked, “Seriously, are you okay? Is he really dead?”

She stopped and turned around. Ryo almost fainted when he saw her. She looked bad. Izzy was definitely gone, that much was certain. Then he saw it. Ryo almost fell into shock when he saw tears begin to form in her eyes. It was just a glimpse. Then she ran off. Ryo couldn’t find the energy to chase her.

“Poor Rika… she must have really cared about him,” Jeri said, stating the obvious.

“I don’t get it.” Ryo shook his head. “How many people have we lost so far? I mean… Takato’s gone. Henry’s gone. Toji and Kensuke are gone. Rika never reacted like this though. Now this other guy from a different show goes down… and she’s crying.” Ryo continued to ponder the situation. Regardless of who Rika was mourning, Ryo realized one thing. “I have to talk to her.”

Kohler Complex- Control Room- 10:00 AM

Tom sat in his chair, pondering the situation. “Barb? We have a match at 1:00 and one of the competitors is dead. What would Jesus do?”

Barb leaned back in her chair. “Get drunk. Get very drunk.”

“Maybe tonight. Right now, I've got three hours to figure out what the hell to do with Ranma.”

“What’s there to do? Ranma won.” Barb paused. “He was probably going to win anyway.”

“Probably… but we have a half-hour show, and we’re supposed to have four matches each time. We only have three right now. I think we need to give Ranma an equally matched opponent to make things fair.”

“And how exactly is that possible? I mean, I know Manny and Artie worked so diligently to make those rankings as accurate as possible.” Barb chuckled. “Gary against Ash in round two is just a coincidence, right?”

Tom half-smiled. “What can I say, Gary against Kuno just didn’t seem appealing enough. But the way I see it, we should just find some stiff, give him Tentomon, and go from there. Izzy didn’t do anything last time.”

Barb was somewhat apprehensive. “Well… who could we stick in there, there isn’t anybody else but the kids in the game.”

Tom smiled. “Aren’t you forgetting about someone?”

“You don’t mean…”

Jun’s just sitting there. We give her Tentomon, let Ranma take care of her… solves yet another two problems.”

“Tom… aren’t you forgetting something? We’re dealing with a Jun-chan instead of a Jun-kun. Isn’t there a slight problem with a girl in the boys’ division?”

Tom continued to smile. “Well… we’re certainly lucky it’s Ranma then.”

Barb frowned. “You’re serious about this. Aren’t you?”

“Why wouldn’t I be? As long as Jun Motomiya remains here, she is a potential problem. Meanwhile we have another problem in finding Ranma an opponent. Now we can just send girl-type Ranma up against Jun and Tentomon, and not have to worry about either.”

“What if Jun wins?”

“She won’t. Ranma isn’t going to have a problem beating Jun. It’s a complete mismatch. And if by some freak chance Jun does win, we’ll worry about it when that happens. We’d have a whole three days. Right now, we have three hours to solve the problem at hand.”

Barb put a hand to her forehead. “You don’t care at all, do you? Do you even consider the possibility that you are killing a scared teenage girl that is here only due to an accident? And not only that, but you’re killing her simply because it’s convenient. It doesn’t put you ahead or behind… but it just makes your life a little bit easier? Is that a good reason to kill somebody?”

Tom sighed. “Well… she’s kind of annoying too. And remember- just a cartoon character.” Tom headed out. “I guess I have to go spread the news. Cheerio.”

Beeda Facility- Room 209- 10:15 AM

Davis was having a pleasant dream. He was away from everything. He was free to do whatever he wanted. Unfortunately, the sunlight was too much for him as he opened up his eyes. He was sitting upright, his head slouched over the sofa. He lifted it back up and looked to his left. He was in somebody else’s room. Tai was slumped in a chair, still conked out. Davis recalled the sleepover. How everybody slowly drifted off; the plans for revolution foiled before they were even set. There was no discussion. The ringleader never arrived.

Davis heard a soft moaning. She had been so silent, so still, that he forgot she was there. Kari Kamiya, the girl of his dreams, sleeping peacefully with her head resting on his right shoulder. He wanted nothing more than to let her rest there forever. He could have watched her lying there forever. Her faint smile said it all- she was oblivious to the cruel reality, lost forever in her dreams. He truly wanted to freeze time and watch her for hours. Unfortunately… he had to take a piss.  

“Kari?” he whispered. Kari opened her eyes and looked up at Davis. Naturally, she blushed a little, and sat up.

She was somewhat lost for words, until she finally managed a faint “good morning.”

Her words didn’t reach anyone as Davis dove for the miniscule bathroom in the room. Kari seized the opportunity to stretch a bit and get her bearings back. She saw Tai; he was still lifeless on the chair. She was tempted to wake him, but hesitated. He kept saying that he hadn’t been getting much sleep. With day after day of worrying about his friends’ lives, she couldn’t blame him. He needed to get some rest, so she immediately shushed Davis when he exited the lavatory. The two walked out quietly.

“That was a little weird.” Kari smiled. “I suppose you’re going to brag to your friends about how you ‘scored.’”

Davis smiled slightly, but the grin soon vanished. “You know it’s strange. A year ago it would have been a dream come true. Now… it just doesn’t seem to matter.”

“I just wonder where Izzy went. I guess Rika and the other two got up early and left.”

Davis had turned his attention elsewhere. His sister had apparently finished up her morning shower, and was headed back to her room, clad in a towel. Davis folded his arms. "I see you're just making yourself at home."

Jun put her hands on her hips. "What, I can't even take a shower? You know I've been cooped up here for the last three days. Every time I go downstairs somebody pushes me out of the way and says I'm interfering with a shot or something. I'm lucky to have been able to eat period! I don't know what the hell is going on here, but it's really starting to bug me."

"Jun." Davis looked at her. "Just stay in your room, shut up, and you might get out of this alive."

It was perfect timing for Tom to march up the hallway. "Jun! Hey, just the girl I wanted to see..." Tom frowned... "And you're naked." Jun clutched the towel nervously, while Tom sighed. "Don't flatter yourself. You are a female Digimon character and therefore flatter than the tires on my station wagon. Look, I need to see you about..."

"Hey, have you seen Izzy anywhere?" Davis interrupted.

Tom turned to Davis, somewhat annoyed. "What do you mean? Didn't anybody tell you?"

"Tell us what?" Kari asked.

Tom put a hand to his head. "Oh my God... is nobody on this staff competent!?" Tom turned to Jun. "Jun, put some clothes on while I deal with this." Jun rushed into her room to change while Tom continued to shake his head. "Jeez... someone dies and Mike's too stupid to get the word out."

"What was that? Did you say..."

"Yeah yeah... Izzy killed himself last night. And frankly, it's bugging the hell out of us, you know?" Tom didn't even look at Kari.

"Wait a minute!! What do you mean he killed himself??" Davis forced Tom around.

"What else would I mean? He snuck into the lab, and shot himself full of that 'instant death' stuff that we use for the outer ring. Simple enough?"

Kari fell to her knees. Davis still didn't believe it. "Why the hell would he do something like that?"

"How should I know?" Tom was almost as angry as Davis. "We're all trying to figure out why he did it too, and trying to continue Shougai without him is a real pain in the neck."

"Izzy..." Kari slowly started to grasp the truth. A few tears started to form, and Davis had no choice but to tend to her.

"It's okay, I don't know if..." There was nothing else he could say. Kari had her face buried in his chest and wasn't about to hold anything back. Davis held her, while staring at Tom all the while.

Tom remained firm. "Look, we're not jumping with joy about it either. We have to deal with this just like you, so don't shoot the messenger." Jun stepped out of here room with a fresh set of clothes. Tom returned her attention to her while Davis took Kari back to Room 209. "Anyway, Jun, you happen to be the solution to our little problem."

"What little problem?" she asked.

Tom smiled. "Since Izzy's out, we need somebody to replace him. You fit the bill nicely. You are technically a digi-destined, you have the same physical prowess, and if we teamed you up with Tentomon nobody would know the difference."

"What are you saying?"

"You have a match at 1:00 against Ranma Saotome. Be at the South Entrance to the arena at Kohler Complex at 12:45. Good luck!" Tom turned around. His business had been completed.

Unfortunately, Davis had overheard. "What was that? Did you... did you just say Jun had a match??"

"We can't give Ranma a bye, so Jun is going to take over his spot."

Davis was in shock. His worst fear was coming to pass. He looked over at his sister, who scoffed and shut the door. She didn't know how significant the news was. He turned back to Tom. "You can't do that!!"

Tom was already halfway to the stairs. "I just did. Our show, our rules." That was his last word on the matter as he apathetically headed back to the control room.


Davis was in denial about Izzy. He didn't want to believe that it was real. Now, not only was Tom serious about Izzy being dead, but Davis's sister was being offered up as a replacement sacrifice. Davis had no idea why this was happening. Just the night before, they were all laughing, discussing ways to finally bring the game down. Now... the game was asserting its control in ways nobody could have imagined. Davis did the only thing he could. He slammed a fist against the wall in frustration.


He fell to the floor. He was out of energy. Davis knew he had to try to get through it. He had to be strong, especially for Kari. But he couldn't take it any more. He was tired of it all. The constant fear, the constant grief, and the countless times of hope that were felled and faded into darkness.

"Hey, could you keep it down?" A familiar face popped out of a nearby door. Ryo looked around and saw Davis. "Heard the news about Izzy, I take it?" Davis remained silent. He was in no mood to talk about it with Ryo. However, Ryo continued to prod him. "Yeah..." Ryo motioned towards the room he had exited. "Rika's taking it pretty hard too. It's an awful sight to see a grown Digimon Queen cry."

"That's not the least of my problems," Davis muttered, "My sister is his replacement."

"Huh." Ryo was still stone-faced. "That sucks."

"That sucks? Is that all you have to say?"

"Hey..." Ryo was getting angry at Davis's moping. "Look, it does suck. The question is what you're going to do about it. I mean, sure, Izzy's dead. And sure your sister might be dead in a few hours. But unless you pick yourself off the ground and get over it, you are next."

"You don't care at all. Do you?"

Ryo glared at him. Firmly, he said, "You're going to die, Davis. At the rate you're going, you have no chance. I know this is tough. This seems like hell. But you know something... this is nothing. I've been through a lot worse than this. At least here, they're nice enough to give you a time and a place to die. They prepare you for it. I've been through times when death can strike at any moment, and you always have to be prepared." Ryo paced around. He didn't want Davis to go down a crying mess. "I know this is tough, and I've lost plenty of friends too. But I know that I can get through this alive, and I know that Rika can too. She's lucky. She has a couple days to have a good cry before she's on the spot. We don't have that luxury Davis. We're up to bat, and we can't afford to give a damn about anyone who struck out before us. I don't know about you, but I have no intention of getting killed out there."

Ryo marched down the stairs, having said his piece. Davis forced himself back up. The words didn't seem to have any meaning. He didn't want to fight it anymore. Kari had exited her room, still worse for the wear. "You okay?" Davis let out.

"No... I still don't want to wake Tai up yet. I don't know what to tell him."

Kari put her head on Davis's shoulder. "Ryo says I should worry about my match instead of Izzy." Davis said quietly.

"You should. I mean I know this is bad, but you've still got to find someway to stay alive. Do you think you can beat Nuriko?"

Davis sighed. "I don't think it matters anymore." Davis pushed Kari away and walked down the stairs.

Kari watched him. She went from sad to scared. What did he mean it didn't matter? She couldn't stand losing anyone else. She ran after him. "Davis! Wait!"

Kohler Complex- Announcer's Booth- 12:05 PM

Hotohori was determined not to lose. No matter what the odds, and no matter what the consequence, he had to save his country. Despite the loss of the priestess of Suzaku, there was still another wish-giving source on the horizon.

Standing in the path was Julian Star. After Hotohori dominated the early stages of the match, Julian had to fight back. He turned towards Sakura. She smiled. It was time…

“Hello! I think it’s safe to say that we are now open for business!” Manny was glad to be back in a position he was comfortable with. But while he was narrating the battle of the bishounen like it was any other, the Izzy issue was in the back of his head. The solution had been presented, but it was a tough one to swallow. Hopefully Tom knew what he was doing.

“Julian… or I guess he’s Yue now, has turned the game around. He conjures up an arrow of light… wow, Hotohori dodges out of the way! But he can’t stop a barrage of smaller bolts from connecting. That has to hurt!  Dave was also trying to forget about last night. He should have been enjoying the match. But all that talk of players revolting scared him. Contestants revolting against a reality series? It was unheard of. But there was a serious effort made to stop the game. And although this particular one was prevented from coming to fruition, Dave knew that the kids were resilient. They would try again. Was Shougai doomed to fail?

“Holy moly! What a strike!!” Manny returned as Yue flew across the arena and struck Hotohori across the chest, his powers  amplifying the strength of the blow.

Hotohori reeled back, falling to the ground. He dropped his sword and clutched his chest. His ribs were bruised, perhaps broken. He was already in pain after being hit by Guilmon’s attack in his first match against Takato. But he was determined not to lose…

Yue closed in on Hotohori. He was scoping out the best way to end it. Hotohori had to react, in spite of his pain. He couldn’t the people of Konan down. Yue hovered over Hotohori to pick him up for the final fall. The time was now…

“Whoa!” Dave thought Yue was motioning for the fat lady to walk on stage. Instead, Hotohori’s spirit wasn’t giving up, and he swiftly grabbed his sword and drove it into Yue’s chest. “Hotohori has struck again, with another stab to the chest!”

Manny was quick to retort, “But Yue is a magical entity, and may be able to resist a lot better than Takato did.” Indeed, Yue was clearly in pain, but not willing to die. Hotohori continued to summon his strength. The judge was still hovering overhead. Hotohori heaved the sword overhead. Finally, he was able to propel Yue as well, sending him past the emperor and into the outer ring. Hotohori’s prayers had been answered. He was still alive.

“Unbelievable! Absolutely unbelievable!” The raw emotion of the match had finally spread to Dave. He stood up and screamed into the microphone. This was indeed unbelievable. “Hotohori, with another last second burst of strength, is able to put his opponent to rest!”

Manny was slightly more reserved, but was amazed all the same. “A top seed is down, and Hotohori is in the quarterfinals with another spectacular display. This leaves only one representative from Cardcaptors left in Shougai. Appropriately enough, it’s the little cherry blossom herself. She’s up in two days, but you won’t have to wait that long for another match between two girls. We have a Shougai special as we get to see girl-type Ranma Saotome in action against Jun Motomiya. That’s coming your way after this break.” Henry called for the cameras to cease transmission, and Manny quickly sighed. He smiled at Dave. “Well, now I’ve seen everything.”

Dave returned the smile. For the moment, the exciting match had allowed their troubles to fall by the wayside. “That was… amazing. Would have been better if I had Hotohori picked, but oh well...” The two stood and exited the booth. “I do have a question though- if Yue’s a magical entity, wouldn’t the outer ring have no effect on him?”

“He may be a magical entity, Dave, but he’s still animated. That’s all that matters…”

Conference Room- 12:30 PM

"Oh my God, you're joking right?" Tenchi wasn't feeling too good after Barb's bombshell.

"No. And the same thing will happen to you if any of the others find out that you know the truth." Barb remained firm.

"How did he find out?"

"Yolei snuck him an e-mail from the other side. Thank God he printed it out. For awhile, Manny thought that I told him." Barb shook her head. "The nerve of him thinking I'd give out classified information like that."

Tenchi frowned. "Um... Barb?"

Barb quickly realized whom she was talking to. "Oh yeah."

"Look, how the hell am I supposed to stop this thing? I have no idea where to start. I mean, should I start quietly talking to people about putting an end to this?"

"Actually, Tenchi, I did find something out. Last night the Digimon kids were trying to plan something to stop Shougai. I think Tai's the leader of it. I'd talk to him, but you should give him some time to deal with what happened to Izzy though."

Tenchi threw up his arms. "How can I do that?! I have a match tomorrow! So does he!"

"Well, you'll just have to win that one too. I don't think Kuno's much of a problem for you."

"Great, great, just what I wanted to do." Tenchi remained cynical. "But what should I do about Tai?"

Barb thought for a second. "Hm... pray that Tai beats Tamahome."

Tenchi shook his head and marched out of the room. "How did I know you'd say that?" he replied bitterly.

Reception Room- 1:00 PM

Nuriko exited the confessional room with Mike. "Oh, there is one thing I wanted to ask you guys."

Mike scratched a name off a notepad and looked up at the she-male. "Yeah?"

"You know a couple of people got to have their friends come over to help them out? Could I invite somebody?"

"Hmm... that's not really my department, but I'll ask somebody. Who is it?"

"His name is Mitsukake." Nuriko smiled. Hotohori was in bad shape after the match, and if Nuriko could get the healer of their party here, Hotohori could get better.

"Hey Manny!" Manny and Dave were just entering the building. It would have been strange, given that a match was scheduled to start at the moment, but the answer was with them as well. They were bringing a very reluctant Jun Motomiya to the ring.

"Yeah? I'm slightly busy at the moment," Manny retorted.

"I see that. Hi Jun." Mike nodded at Izzy's substitute. Jun stuck her tongue out; she obviously wasn't happy to be here. She was planning on staying in her room and ignoring everything. "Look, Nuriko wants to bring somebody over here to be her second. She wants... er... he wants..."

"'She wants' is fine. I prefer it, in fact!" Nuriko smiled.

Mike rolled his eyes back towards Manny. "She wants Mitsukake."

Manny thought for a second. "Probably not. He's the healer, right?" Nuriko nodded. "That's a bit unfair. We got our medical staff looking over Hotohori. If you guys had a healer, it would be somewhat unfair to everybody else. If you'll excuse me, I have to send Jun into battle before we get too behind schedule."

Manny and Dave led Jun away, while Mike turned to Nuriko. "Sorry. Makes sense I guess."

Nuriko dropped the subject and watched Jun as Manny and Dave led her away. With interest, he asked, "Say I've never seen her before... isn't this supposed to be a day for the mens' tournament?"

"Uh... she's a substitute for Izzy. You know, the kid that killed himself? Her name's Jun Motomiya. We accidentally brought her here, but she works fine as a substitute." Mike was very calm about the whole thing.

"Hey!" Mike looked over to see that Tai had finally awoken, and was storming in. "Look, I have a few questions about all this. You still haven't explained why Izzy..." Tai had already been told the news, it had seemed.

"Okay, okay... care to step into my office?" Mike smiled and opened the door to the confessional room. Tai swore under his breath and entered. Mike followed, leaving Nuriko alone to watch the fireworks as Jun approached the arena.


Davis and Kari had been sitting there for awhile. After all that had happened, there was nowhere else to go. They caught sight of Manny and Dave leading Jun in. Jun wasn't fighting it. Davis immediately stood up. "Jun... what are you doing?? Get out of here!" Jun looked up at Davis with no reaction. The three passed Davis quietly, but Davis was anything but. "Don't you get it?! They're going to kill you!!"

Now Jun was scared. She looked back. "What do you mean?!" Davis ran after Jun, but Dave turned around to restrain him.

"Get out of there Jun!!" Davis shouted.

Jun turned towards Manny, who remained emotionless. "Are you guys really going to kill me?"

Manny continued walking. "We're not."

The accent on "we're" wasn't encouraging. Jun turned around, only to be held back by Manny and forced to continue along the path towards certain doom. She extended an arm out towards her brother. "DAVIS!!"

"Jun!!" There was no hope for either of them, as Manny continued to force Jun into the arena, while Dave continued to hold Davis back. Once his sister was out of sight, Davis gave up and fell to his knees. Dave calmly released him and entered the booth like nothing had happened. Kari quickly ran up to Davis and helped him back up. They made their way towards two chairs and slumped down in them. Kari continued to comfort Davis, to no avail.

Nuriko sighed. It was a sad sight indeed. The name Motomiya was all too familiar- it was the name of the person Nuriko was to face in an hour. And Jun must have been his sister. "Poor kid," he whispered as he entered the arena to watch the match.


"Are you going to watch?" Kari said quietly. "Maybe Jun will..."

Davis shook his head. He knew what was going to happen. He didn't want to witness it. "I kept telling her to get out of here. I knew this was going to happen."

Kari remained silent for a few minutes. The cheers from inside the arena were audible from where they sat. Or rather- the lone round of cheers that accompanied the end of the match. It was short... nowhere near the amount of time needed to beat Ranma. They continued to wait, hoping for a miracle. Hoping that somehow Jun came through.

"That was pretty stupid if you ask me." The feminine voice of Ranma was heard from the other hall. Kari sighed as Ranma exited the arena with her fiancé. "I mean why did that kid kill himself anyway?"

Akane pondered the question for awhile. She looked down and answered, "I think I know why he did it." She shook her head as they walked out of Kari's sight. This time, it was Davis's turn to cry on Kari's shoulder.

Men's Restroom- 1:30 PM

Gary was doing his business at one of the urinals, but was doing a very efficient job of multi-tasking. "You know, it's a good idea. I mean, June's going to have a hissy, and knowing Misty she will too... but if you think about it, it's the best way to handle this."

Ryo entered the room and took up an adjacent urinal. "Hey, Gary? Got any dirt on Ryoga that could help me out? I didn't get to see his first match and someone told me that you worked with him once in Mole."

"Well, I probably shouldn't give you anything for free, but since I'm in a good mood I'll indulge you. Yeah, I worked with him in Mole, and I saw his first match. Two words Akiyama- 'baksai tenketsu.' Whole ground shakes, and before you know it you're disoriented and he moves in for the kill. Just get in the air when he screams it, look out for his flying umbrella and you're all set."

Ryo nodded. "Thanks a bunch. If I get through it in one piece I owe you one. See ya." Ryo headed out. Gary, apparently finished, stepped away from the urinal.

His rival, Ash, exited a nearby stall. "So do we have a deal?" he asked.

Gary smiled and extended a hand. "You bet. See you tomorrow."

Ash looked at the hand, and his own. "Just let me wash my hands first."

South Entrance- 1:55 PM

"Davis. I know this is hard. But you have to try to beat Nuriko." Kari was pleading with Davis.

"Why bother? It's too late now."

"Davis, don't say that! I can't take this anymore either, but we've got to keep trying."

"Why? Even if I get through this, then what? Then I do it again. And besides, what makes me so special? Why should I deserve to live instead of Nuriko? He didn't do anything. He's one of the good guys. Nuriko fights for a good reason and is trying to save the world just like we did once." Davis looked across the arena at Nuriko, lying in wait for the match to begin. "Why should he die just because some dumb kid like me wants to live?"

Kari tried to shake the depression out of Davis. "Davis, don't say that! Look, I know Nuriko doesn't deserve it, but I can't take it anymore. I can't afford to lose anybody else. Davis, if you have no other reason to stay alive..." Kari took both of Davis's hands and held them to her chest. "...then stay alive for me."

Davis looked up at her. She was in tears. "Kari?"

"I can't stand losing anybody else. I wouldn't be able to make it. I'm begging you, Davis. You have to do this for me. Please?"

Davis stood up and sighed. "Promise you'll be there at my side?"

Kari smiled through her tears. She kissed him very softly. "Of course."

Davis sighed, letting his feelings go for a minute. He had a job to do. "Then let's do this. Veemon?" Veemon joined them as Davis and Kari walked, hand-in-hand, into the arena.


Nuriko sighed. This wasn't going to be fun. This kid didn't deserve what Nuriko was going to give to him. Yet, the task was before him, and at Artie's signal the match began.

"Okay Veemon, you go low, I'll go high. We need to do this together." Davis and Veemon charged after Nuriko simultaneously, from similar angles.

"V Headbutt!" Nuriko was prepared to deal with the blow Veemon delivered, but it was still more than he had expected, and it was enough to disengage him.

"D Headbutt!" This allowed Davis to charge in and attack the torso. Nuriko was forced to the ground. Davis landed a few feet away, and jumped to his feet.

Nuriko was back on his feet as well, but was immediately hit by Veemon again. Nuriko managed to knock Veemon away this time, and easily blocked a punch by Davis. Nuriko returned one, and Davis was knocked on his rear, giving Nuriko time to catch his breath. "Jeez... I wasn't expecting this. I may have to get my hands dirty this time..."

Davis and Veemon regrouped as well, and continued to attack Nuriko simultaneously. This time, Nuriko dodged Veemon's headbutt, sending Veemon diving harmlessly onto the ground. Davis followed with a clothesline, but Nuriko caught it and countered. Nuriko pulled the arm behind Davis's back and grabbed the other arm. Nuriko was thoroughly in control now, and muscled Davis towards the outer ring. "Sorry about this. But a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do."

"Hang in there Davis!!" Kari's words of encouragement did little to help. Davis was still on the brink of defeat.

"V Headbutt!!!" Out of nowhere, Veemon dove after Nuriko's midsection. The blue Digimon scored a clean hit, knocking Nuriko to the ground and freeing Davis, who landed on the edge of the outer ring. Davis and Veemon scurried towards safety. "Are you okay Davis?"

"I'll be fine, buddy." Davis rubbed his arm. It was certainly sore, but he was going to have to put the pain aside, sending it to the same invisible realm as his grief towards his lost friends and deceased sister. "Hey that worked pretty good. This time you distract him while I move in for the kill." Veemon nodded and charged after Nuriko again.

"Wow... you don't know when to quit," Nuriko said. He was starting to run out of energy, but held enough in reserve to sidestep Veemon's attack. Rather than let him pass by easily, Nuriko caught him in midair and held him as if he was a dog demanding to be released. "Hasn't anyone ever told you that two-on-one isn't very fair? I think we should even things out, how about you?"

Nuriko continued to carry Veemon towards the outer ring. Davis quietly waited until Nuriko was in the prime position. He had the angle figured out- the one that would knock Nuriko in, but keep Veemon safe. He charged.

"Bye bye!" Nuriko smiled at Veemon... and without warning, took a step backwards, dropping Veemon on Davis's head. Nuriko had seen it coming, and it was an easy manner of grabbing Davis's shirt and letting Davis's own momentum guide him into the depths of the outer ring. Nuriko did so, and sighed in relief when both digi-destined and partner Digimon fell into the pit.

It wasn't a very satisfying victory. But it was still a victory. Nuriko shrugged off any congratulatory remarks by Artie and started to exit the arena. Still... he had to know. He forced himself to turn back and look at Kari. As he imagined, she wasn't taking it well. She was in such a weakened state, lying on her knees, face buried in her hands. Nuriko continued to walk out, but just seeing Kari like that had done something to him. For a moment, he regretted winning. Naturally, common sense prevailed in the end- Nuriko wasn't about to die, especially not at the hands of a young teenager. But that one moment meant a lot to Nuriko. It was the first time he had regretted anything.

Reception Room- 2:20 PM

Tai had to virtually drag Kari out of the arena. They found a bench nearby, and plopped down on it. Both were mentally exhausted. Nuriko took a deep breath and approached them.

"Hi... Kari right? Can I talk to you?"

Kari looked up, quite confused. But she didn't have the energy to answer either way, so she continued to look to the ground. Tai was suspicious, but remained silent.

"You okay?" Nuriko said, smiled weakly. His presence wasn't the most comforting, but he faked it anyway. "It's tough, I know. I, uh... guess I just wanted to say that I'd be proud of him if I were you." Kari finally looked up at him. "It doesn't help now, I know... and I know you don't want to hear this, but he caught me by surprise. I underestimated how hard he'd fight. Especially after what happened to his sister." Nuriko was letting the words flow naturally, and bent down to get closer to Kari. "You know, I know a lot of people who would have taken the death of a sister a whole lot worse than he did." Nuriko smiled. "I should know... I'm one of them." Nuriko looked down at his feminine attire and sighed. "I loved my sister so much that I wanted to be her when she died."

Kari looked back down. It was slightly comforting, but did little to ease the pain.

"Did you love him?" Nuriko asked. Kari picked up her head once more upon hearing the question.

As much as she wanted to deny it, the feelings were there. The concern was there. Somehow, losing Davis felt like the worst blow to Kari in the entire game. Even the loss of TK, who fell in such a violent fashion, couldn't compare to the sadness she felt in her heart at the moment.

"Yes," she whispered.

Nuriko let a brief chuckle out. He too was saddened, but for a different reason. The fates were playing a cruel trick on him. He put a hand on Kari's shoulder. "I'll tell you this- the only thing worse than being with a loved one when he dies is having to kill him yourself."

Tai didn't want to interrupt the moment, but he was confused. "Wait a minute, that's not possible- this is separated by gender..." Tai's argument immediately ran out of gas when Nuriko couldn't help but let out a very feminine giggle. "Oh yeah, you're um... yeah..." Tai put up his hands. "Not that I'm creeped out by that or anything."

"You face Hotohori next... don't you?" Kari whispered.

Nuriko nodded sadly. The object of his affections was injured badly... and was his opponent in three days. "But leave that to me to worry about. You seem like a strong person, Kari. You'll get through this." Nuriko sighed, and dropped all of his problems like a hat. He smiled and put his hands together, returning his voice to the lofty feminine tone he was comfortable with. "Well, I just wanted to make sure you'd be okay. I have to go find this Ranma Saotome person and ask him about this Jusenkyo curse that turns him into a girl. If that's all it's cracked up to be... that could solve a lot of my problems!!"

Announcer's Booth- 3:10 PM

Ryo flew out of the way, dodging Ryoga's umbrella. Dave was right there to cover the action. "Akiyama brilliantly dives out of harm's way. Fantastic move!"

Manny continued the commentary, "And look at the way he gets his arm under there and rolls away immediately. He knows how to take a dive... heck Rivaldo could learn from this kid!"

"It's a good thing he knows what he's doing, because Hibiki is not letting up."

"Hibiki is employing a very smart technique, using his speed and melee-range power to keep Cyberdramon at bay, while using his far reaching umbrella to keep Ryo honest. Despite Akiyama's stellar performance, Ryoga may be getting the third round match with Ranma they promised each other." Manny was legitimately amazed at Ryoga's power, which was enough to keep even Cyberdramon from getting an attack in.

Ryoga delivered a tremendous punch to Cyberdramon, which sent the beast flying backwards. The perennial lost-boy turned towards Ryo, who was already launching a counter-offensive. Ryoga struck two fingers in the ground. "Baksai Tenketsu!"

Ryo was prepared and jumped in time to avoid the literally earth-shattering move. His momentum carried him straight at Ryoga, and he moved in for a flying kick. Unfortunately, his martial arts skills left something to be desired, and Ryoga countered easily with a punch. Ryo was knocked back towards his partner. Cyberdramon got up in time to see Ryoga use his trademark attack again.

"Get me to high ground!" Cyberdramon picked Ryo up and hovered over the rippling surface of the arena.

"That's going to be hell to clean up. Good thing this is the last match of the day," Manny retorted.

"It seems that the airborne duo are asking for more trouble..." Dave began.

Manny finished the sentence for him. "...which they're going to receive as Ryoga's umbrella is out and flying."

"Cyberdramon, higher!" Cyberdramon elevated just a little. Ryo did his part to raise his feet. The umbrella went sailing underneath him, and Ryo kicked the parasol to the ground below. "Okay, let's finish this like we talked about!" Cyberdramon bulleted for Ryoga, who prepared for the blow. Ryo raised his legs again, and made the first connection, which Ryoga repelled easily. But Cyberdramon dropped Ryo and made his own attack, which Ryoga again countered. By then, however, Ryo was on his feet and attacking. Ryoga was being double-teamed, and had no choice but to start to backpedal. Realizing his situation, he jumped, hoping to get away from the two. Unfortunately, he was met with a headbutt from a quickly-reacting Cyberdramon. Ryoga fell backwards, and one more shot from Cyberdramon was all it took to send Ryoga into the outer ring.

"And that's that!" Dave couldn't sound more excited. "A double-team by Ryo and Cyberdramon finally pays off as Ryoga Hibiki is sent off in the second major upset of the day!"

"A fantastic effort by Ryo Akiyama, who after this performance has to be considered a contender to win it all. But in order to do so, his next opponent is Ranma Saotome, who may not be so happy to be facing Ryo rather than his long-time rival Ryoga." Manny concluded his commentary on the match. Henry signaled to both to bring it home.

"Speaking of which, two long-time rivals will meet as Ash Ketchum and Gary Oak square off tomorrow. We'll see how the two compete against each other in this game where the trainers fight alongside their Pokémon."

"We'll also get to see Matt Ishida and Tamahome in action for the first time since their loved ones perished yesterday. Matt Ishida takes on the fiery Tasuki while Tamahome faces digi-destined leader Tai Kamiya. This closes the door on an unbelievable day seven of Shougai. The second round has started with a bang, and we look forward to more surprises tomorrow."

"We certainly do, and we hope you join us next time on Shougai." Dave continued to smile as he finished the line.

"And cut. We got it!" Henry announced, as he put a clipboard on the camera. The mikes were cut, and the episode was over. Manny and Dave leaned back in their chairs, both exhausted.

"Man... I thought this day would never end," Dave muttered.

Manny nodded at the statement. He was indeed tired, and he was indeed glad the matches were over for the day, but he still smiled. He had every reason to. Despite everything that had happened the night before, Shougai was back on track. Nothing could stop it now.

End Chapter Nine

Author's Notes

I really do apologize for the length. I try to write these chapters at a consistent length of about 13-14 pages in order to make it easier for you to get through them in one sitting. Fortunately, in case you can't, you can always rely on those bold headers, which offer about as smooth a transition from scene to scene as an episode of "Law & Order." All I need now is that orchestra sting.

Hopefully, despite the length of the chapter, you still managed to retain one little clue that was in this chapter which could serve to explain some very strange actions in previous chapters.

Yet another Evangelion reference here, as Ryo absent-mindedly refers to Kazu and Kenta as Toji and Kensuke. If you know who Toji and Kensuke are… it’s a pretty easy mistake to make.

What else can I say about Jun and Davis? I had wanted to do something regarding their relationship for awhile, but was too lazy to do it in a separate fic. I'm not exactly the "one-shot" type of writer, as you probably could tell judging by the length of my stories. But alas, you finally get to see them really showing concern for one another, no matter how nuts they drive each other. Hmm... why do I suddenly get the urge to write more of Kuno and Kodachi?

Now let's talk Dakari. I'll admit it, it's a very intriguing relationship, and one that certainly could have come into fruition with a little push (or in this case, a big push). Anyone who's read Odaiba Memorial Day will know that, and also knows that I support Takari as well. Perhaps it does come across as odd, though, that in the two AA series which featured TK and Kari, they both worked very closely together, yet never really gave off much hintage as a couple. Then here we get the full-blown Dakari chapter (and you know that if Davis had won his match, Kari would so be glomping him). I guess what it all comes down to is this- the entire AA canon is now officially Dakari. And that's that. If you want Takari... well just read anything of mine that isn't in the AA canon, including my next project where TK and Kari are having an extra-marital affair... sort of.

The exposure given to Nuriko in this chapter is somewhat unusual, considering the imbalance of screentime given to the more mainstream anime. This is totally intentional, and really marks the beginning of a shift. With the exception of Miaka, the entire Fushigi Yuugi cast has been presented as something of obstacles standing in the way of the good guys. Now, for the first time, one of the characters is beginning to see the injustices of Shougai, and is on the road to becoming one of the good guys. Without giving too much away, you will see more characters from Fushigi Yuugi and Ranma, both in the game and out, become allies with those trying to fight Shougai.

Chapter Ten- Pained Reaction
A full day of action is observed by the contestants already removed in Moore Facility. For most, the game is far, far away, and they are free to cheer for their friends or jeer their enemies as with any other television show. But for some, the second round brings added pain, as Miaka and Sora watch their beaus in battle. Although while some agonize over the game, Izzy comes to grips with an agony that has nothing to do with Shougai.

Current "Shougai" Standings