Grim Reality

Chapter Ten- Pained Reaction

Day Eight
Moore Facility- Cafeteria- 12:45 PM

Ryoga Hibiki was still fuming after his loss. It just didnt seem real. It just didnt seem conceivable that he could lose to a fourteen-year-old kid like Ryo Akiyama. But somehow he did. His hopes of a final clash with Ranma dashed by a boy who spent far too much time playing card games.

The worst part was that he didnt even recall the battle. It was a vague dream. That wasnt enough. Ryoga had a goal, and it seemed to have vanished in his sleep. Perhaps if he was able to recall how it happened, and what went wrong, it would give him a little bit of finality.

Bugged about losing to one of those Digi-kids? Mousse sat down across from Ryoga.

Um why are you sitting here?

I have to talk to somebody. At least you know the pain, isolation, and utter embarrassment of being eliminated early.

At least I won one match. Ryoga was initially threatened by the presence of the White Swan, but calmed down. But youre right. It does feel a little weird. Its almost like theyre cheating teamed up with those monsters.

Tell me about it, said Li, who slid over to join the conversation. His eating partner, Madison, soon followed, despite her initial hesitancy to get anywhere near Mousse. Li continued, I saw your match with him. Same thing happened to me- we had the advantage in skill and ability but he had a giant monster on his side. I hope your Ranma friend beats him next time.

Mousse shook his head. At least you werent turned into a duck by a fur-wearing unicorn.

It doesnt really matter anyway. This whole game is stupid, just like all the other ones were. Li glanced over at Madison. No offense Madison. Madison simply smiled as always. She rarely took offense to anything.

Hey do any of you regret losing? Ryoga poised a surprisingly thoughtful question, which caught the other three by surprise. I mean, I think this game is kinda dumb too, but I still cant believe I lost to someone besides Ranma.

In the end, I guess it doesnt matter to me. Li maintained his apathetic stance.

I regret losing, Madison said very quietly. It still caught the boys by surprise, Not because I was trying to win. But I feel so helpless knowing that Sakura is out there all by herself. Theres nobody to talk with her, nobody to comfort her nobody to dress her up in costumes and video tape her wearing them. After that last revelation, Madison was about ready to cry.

Li looked down sullenly. He obviously shared the same concerns except maybe for the last part. He looked up at Madison. What about Tenchi? I know you and him are good friends, but what about he and Sakura?

I dont know they got along okay, but I dont think they were really friends although Sakura did have a little crush on Tenchi. Madison couldnt help but smile at that final thought.

The biggest problem is the fact that she thinks were all dead. Shes probably worried sick.

Mousse sighed. I wished Shampoo was worried sick about me. He continued to mope. Nobody cares about me. You guys have no idea what it feels like being the only one from your show to lose in the first round. Its humiliating. And there was nobody here to talk to! Except for Meilin shes kind of cute.

Li stood, threatened at Mousses statement. Hey! Dont say that! Youre six years older than her and youre starting to scare both of us!

Mousse looked away for a moment. He was slowly starting to realize something. Im jealous of her.

Why? Li remained cautious.

Because you probably think of her as an annoyance a lot of the time, especially because shes in love with you.

Well uh Li couldnt say yes, but he couldnt say no either.

Mousse stood up. Shes nothing but a pain but you still bend over backwards to protect her and make sure shes safe. Wish Shampoo would show that kind of devotion towards me. He began to walk out. Hey Ryoga, Im gonna check and see if Kuno lost. You in?

Yeah, sure. Ryoga followed Mousse out, leaving Li to ponder Mousses words.

Am I protective of Meilin? Li asked Madison. Madison smiled brightly.

Of course! Madison exclaimed. She was noticing that Li was trying to maintain his composure despite the current situation. She knew what was going on, even though he said very little about it. She took his hands. Say you miss Sakura, dont you?

Li blushed. Uh yeah a little. Why?

Madison smiled. I was just thinking! I finally got around to transferring some of Sakuras card captures to a DVD-R format! Want to go to my room and watch them?

Li was slightly unsure what to make of the offer. Yet to be able to see Sakura again even as a recorded memoir it was too tempting. Yeah. Madison continued to smile.


Lounge- 12:55 PM

Sora sat at one of the many chairs available in the television, awaiting the second match of the day. She was simultaneously attracted to and appalled at the idea of watching Matt in battle. Part of her wanted to root him on and hope that he was able to get over her death. Still, part of her was eager to distance herself from Shougai as much as possible.

Sora looked over at a nearby couch, Mind if I sit here Henry? Miaka asked, pointing to an open seat adjacent the blue-haired Tamer.

Uh sure. Henry wasnt usually found watching the telecast. But his curiosity had gotten the better of him. He had to see one of these from the outside looking in. He had to get a broad perspective of what this Shougai really was. I suppose youre here to watch Tasuki.

Miaka nodded. This is a lot more violent than I prefer, but I have to support everybody. If I cant summon Suzaku and have the god grant wishes, then maybe one of my friends can.

Henry smiled slightly. Perhaps that was one advantage. And at least he knew that nobody was hurt in the end. He was obviously concerned about the mental health of friends like Jeri and Tamahome, but that too was almost a moot point- they would be alright in the end, regardless of what they went through.

The camera shots were less than perfect; what the eliminated contests saw were the raw footage and audio, before the editing process could wave its magic wand and make it television. There was no way on Earth a company would stay on one shot of Tasuki for a more than a minute.

Both are coming off of eye-opening victories in the first round. Dave Wenzler was offering his usual spew of pre-match details, Tasuki won in very impressive fashion over Henry Wong.

As you can see by the replay, it seemed that Rika Nonaka caused more trouble than Henry did. Although knowing Tasukis view of women thats par for the course, Manny Edwards retorted.

Miaka couldnt help but let out a brief chuckle. Tasuki wasnt too fond of the gentler sex. She glanced up at Henry. Sorry.

They never show the replays, do they? Miaka and Henry looked up to see Ryoga and Mousse watching behind them. Ryoga was baffled by the exclusion of additional footage, especially when the announcers refer to it.

Doesnt bother me, Henry stated, very plainly, I heard what happened to me. The last thing I want to see is how that first match ended.

I guess so. Ryoga was satisfied with the answer. Hey, do any of you know if Kuno won?

I heard that Tenchi won the first match. Sorry, Sora answered, trying to break the news of their comrades elimination gently.

Ryoga smiled and high-fived Mousse. Whoo! Go Tenchi!

Isnt Kuno one of your friends?

I guess so, but well be damned if hes going to make us look bad in this tournament! Mousse exclaimed. His hand was in a fist; if he was going to lose, at least his rivals were going down with him. Now all we need is Saotome to lose and well be satisfied!

Porky Pig and Daffy Duck left the couch potatoes be, as Miaka quickly looked over at Henry and Sora. It feels a little strange cheering for Tasuki while you two Digimon kids are here.

Think nothing of it. Besides, Im a Tamer. Henry smiled. If it makes you feel any better, I can cheer for Tamahome with you.

Miaka smiled, but Sora found something wrong with the statement. But Tamahome is up against Tai.

Henry continued to smile as he addressed Sora. Yes, but there is no show loyalty factor between Tai and I. Ive never met Tai. I dont know him all that well. Meanwhile, Im friends with Tamahome; we roomed together for a couple weeks. That Henry glanced at Miaka. And Im sitting next to his girlfriend. Henry pointed at Sora. Im cheering for Matt on that same principle.

No youre cheering for Matt because Tasuki barbecued you, Miaka replied.

That too.

 

The three returned their attention to the television, where Dave was commenting Matts here, so the match is set to begin. For the first time, the three could have a look at Matt. Unlike Tasuki, there was no semblance of a smile on Matts face. It was a dark gaze coming from innocent eyes- the face said that he wanted nothing to do with any of this; the facial expression said that he was ready for business.

Begin! Arties call signaled the beginning. Matt didnt even have to look at Gabumon; his partner knew his job.

Blue Blaster! Once again, Gabumon attacked before the opponent knew what was happening. The high-powered blast of water connected, but did little more than annoy Tasuki.

Once again, Matt starts off with the initial attack, Dave began.

Of course Tasuki doesnt turn into a duck, Manny finished.

Damn what was that for? Tasuki brushed off the blast, and smiled. Wanna see what an attack is supposed to look like? Tasuki took a step and held out his fan. Lekka Shien!

Sora had to turn her head.

What the?? Unbelievable! Dave exclaimed. Sora quickly looked back. Matt wasnt fazed at all, and held the same expression as before. The water blast must have done something after all- it basically neutralized Tasukis most powerful attack!

Matt began to walk towards Tasuki while Manny threw in his comments. Unfortunately, Tasuki is still a human, and although his fan is gone, hes still a formidable opponent in his own right.

Fuck! Tasuki threw the fan down in disgust and looked up at Matt. You little bastard Tasuki wasnt about to let a trick like that stop him. Matt had the same emotionless expression on his face as he continued to approach. Tasuki regained his composure and smiled. Oh, so you want a piece of me now. Okay lets see what ya got.

Matt promptly answered with a punch the face, sending Tasuki reeling backwards. Shit Tasuki was more in shock than in pain, and turned around to face his adversary again, this time receiving a punch to the stomach as a reward. Matts blank expression was slowly growing more towards an angry one. If he was going to be stuck here, he might as well take some of his aggressions out. Tasuki received them all in full force, but managed to turn himself around each time. He spat out some blood. Nice but I can play too! Tasuki retaliated with his own punch to the gut, and the battle was truly on.

The two men continued to exchange punches while Manny and Dave frantically tried to narrate. You okay Sora? Henry was not in a comfortable position. He had no choice but to see how Sora was taking it. She was worried, obviously.

Matt whats wrong? she said. It wasnt that he was winning or losing the match. It was that he was fighting.

Tasuki finally made a move to attempt to finish things- he wrapped his hands around Matts neck, attempting to throw him into the nearby outer ring. Matt, however, had other ideas. He didnt budge, and instead wrapped his own hands around Tasuki. Both held their ground, while both attempted to attack, leading to a very tense deadlock.

Well Manny, is it safe to say it all comes down to resolve, now? Dave said.

The two are about equally matched, Dave. So yes, its all about who wants it more now.

Both were focused on throwing the other out. Neither were making much progress. They remained in the position for at least twenty seconds, taking its toll on not only the two fighters, but on any who watched. Miaka clutched onto Henry for support while the wait continued. Finally, it happened- one of the two tapped an extra well of strength, and forced the other into the outer ring. Both Miaka and Henry were in shock. In fact, the only person who didnt seem shocked beyond belief was Matt himself, who, after falling to his knees to avoid joining his opponent in the pit, calmly stood and exited via the north entrance. His anger had subsided, and his adrenaline was left on the floor of the arena, and he returned to his fixed, uncaring expression.


Room 116- 1:30 PM

What am I supposed to do? I mean what am I supposed to say? Hes like this because of me. Its its all my fault.

No its not. Dont say that. Theres no way you could have known this would happen.

But if I wouldnt have

It was worth a try. We had to do something. Ken continued his effort to comfort Yolei. Nothing was working.

I just made the problem worse. Yolei wasnt having it. I mean, before we knew everybody was going to be okay in the end. But now I dont know if Izzy can ever recover from this. Even Ken couldnt argue with that. He looked down. Things had gotten a lot worse.


Room 310- 1:45 PM

I cant let you do this to us I cant give in Everything seemed to happen so fast after that. The mask was forced around his mouth, and despite every effort he made to remove it, he could not prevent the gas from entering his body. He felt it for a second then he felt nothing.

All he could sense was senselessness. He couldnt see. He couldnt feel. There were no sounds, or smells. He couldnt even breathe. He wanted to gasp for air, but he couldnt move either. He was just floating. He didnt even know if he had a body. If he did he couldnt sense it either. He felt paralyzed. He wanted to open his mouth and reaffirm his existence. Even if he could open his mouth, it was futile anyway he couldnt talk either.

It could have been minutes, hours even days or years, before he finally was able to feel the presence of life. His mind kept replaying the incident over and over again in a nonstop loop. Sometime after that, he regained consciousness. He wasnt sure if it was a dream or not. Until he saw Yolei on the other side of the doorway. She was distressed, and left without saying a word. She was alive and that meant only one thing- he had been killed and reborn.

 

I was murdered.

It in itself wasnt a dream, but Izzy still had nightmares about it. Worse yet, the nightmares were not restricted to the time period they were named after. It always came back to him. He clutched his head, trying unsuccessfully to control his breath. Where was he? The unknown period of time in-between death and rebirth when his entire being was suspended in limbo. The place still came back to him. He still felt the nothingness. He still felt the sensation of losing his vitality. He still could sense the senselessness. Why didnt any of the others feel it?

Izzy was willing to guess. The others didnt unlock the secret. He was left with this agony for the same reason that he was killed in the first place. It was the AAs little torture device- Izzys punishment for probing too far into Shougai. Nobody else at the facility had any memory of what their bodies and minds had been put through. Perhaps it was for the better, but it also gave them no reason to complain. They were out of the woods while Izzy was left to be eaten by the wolves.

He forced himself out of the chair he was lying on and stumbled towards the door. As long as he kept thinking about it, he was in pain. He had to attempt to throw his mind elsewhere. He stepped out into the hallway, quietly mumbling something about the new Pineapple OS line and how Steve Carrier was a genius for implementing all those new features: It was the only thing he could do to keep himself from losing it.


 Lounge- 1:50 PM

Away from the mindless drone of the television, Yui Hongo read a book, calmly trying to forget about the situation. After all, it didnt matter. Shougai was nothing that was expected- instead of an opportunity to exact revenge against those who wronged her, it was merely an unnecessary distraction.

Suboshi watched Yui. There wasnt much else he could do. Like Yui, he wanted revenge against those who killed his brother. Unfortunately, he had two problems. One was that those guilty had not arrived yet- although Chichiri and Miaka were partially at fault, they werent as high on the list as Tamahome and Tasuki. The second problem was that there were no weapons allowed. Without his ryuseisui, Suboshi was at a supreme disadvantage in a fight.

Yui? Yui heard somebody calling her. She knew who, and ignored the voice. Yui? Please, I have to talk to you. Miaka continued to persist, but Yui wasnt reacting at all, her eyes and thoughts focused on her reading material.

Suboshi stood up, casting a menacing look at Miaka. Leave her alone. If Lady Miko wished to speak with you, she would do so, he said.

Miaka retracted for a second, until Yui put a hand up. Suboshi. Dont bother. Suboshi sat down, sulking quietly.

Yui please. Listen to me for just a second. Miaka was not going to stop for anything. I know what youve been through. And youre right, nobody deserves it. And yes I care a lot about Tamahome. I love Tamahome. But that doesnt mean that I dont care about you. Please try to understand that. Whenever you want to talk... we can talk. Okay? Yui remained silent. It was doubtful that anything reached her.

Miaka the match is about to start, Henry called from the TV pit.

Miaka sighed. Look, I have to go. Just think about it. Please? Miaka sadly headed to watch her true love fight his next battle.

Yui cracked a grim smile. You havent changed a bit, have you Miaka? Miaka turned around midway. Tamahome still takes precedence over me. You still care more about him than you do about me.

Miaka turned back towards the television, as the first images of Tamahome entering the arena were broadcast.

Doh!

 

On the tube, Manny's coverage was already underway: Perhaps Tasuki and Tamahome arent bestest buddies, but if Tasukis recent defeat doesnt have an emotional impact, then the loss of Miaka two days ago certainly does.

I agree Manny, but Tais had his share of setbacks too. Perhaps not as devastating as Tamahome losing Miaka, but I think the circumstances surrounding the losses of Sora, Davis, and of course Izzy, could serve to balance out the angst factor.

Yeah. Either way, this looks like a wash on paper, but the intangibles will make this one interesting. We saw a major upset in the last match, so theres no telling what will happen.

Any luck with Yui? Henry asked Miaka as she sat down.

Nope. It seems like theres no getting to her. Miaka dropped the issue and turned to Henry, Say, do you mind if someone else sits here.

Who?

Out of nowhere, Chichiri appeared in-between the two. This is wrong in so many ways, but I thought Id keep Miaka company no da.

Henry didnt hear a word of that. He was too busy reeling back from the shock of having someone appear out of thin air. He took a few breathes and shook his head. Im really starting to hate foxes Henry muttered.


Kohler Complex- Contestant Seating Area- 2:00 PM

The coalition didnt yield either one of them a victory. It wasnt one founded on romance. It wasnt founded on show loyalty. It wasnt even founded on friendship. It was two people that mutually relied on each other to advance in the game. And yet somehow, Akane felt obligated to help her coalition partner through his tough time. If only she could have done more.

There were absolutely no romantic feelings at all between Akane and Tamahome. There wasnt anything to suggest that the two would have any reliance on each other. But when Tamahome lost Miaka, Akane was there for him. She tried to offer comfort, while attempting to convince him that she wasnt really dead.

Now, in Tamahomes hour of judgment, Akane was there once again. She was merely a spectator, although she offered to be his second. Either way, she was going to support him in his effort to remain in the game.

He still looked devastated. He didnt seem ready for battle. Of course, neither did Tai, whose recent losses had taken their toll on him as well. Tamahome wasnt looking at Tai, however he was looking at Akane. The look in his eyes told her everything- he wanted to be with Miaka. At any price.

As the match began, Tamahome did not glance at Tai. He walked towards Akanes place in the stands. They stared at each other, trying to figure out what the other was thinking.

Um should I do something, Tai? Agumon asked.

Tai thought for awhile. No just wait and see what hes doing. Tai distanced himself from the Suzaku seishi and remained on guard, but made no move to attack.

Akane wasnt exactly sure what Tamahome was thinking, until he opened his mouth. He didnt say anything- instead moving his lips, repeating the words she had said to him before- Shes gone to a better place. Trust me. Akane immediately realized what it meant. It had gotten through to him. He knew. She smiled and nodded back, mouthing back the final sentence- Trust me.

Tamahome smiled. He was once again relying on his coalition partner. This time, however, it wasnt a matter of collecting information, or sharing ideas, or finding a traitor. It was something more than that. Tamahome was about to be reunited with a loved one. Akanes smile grew brighter as Tamahome continued to walk towards her. He trusted her statement. She was going to lead him to Miaka. In between Akane and Tamahome was a seven-foot-wide pit, which Tamahome walked into with no resistance. The smile on Akanes face didnt flicker for a second.

What the hell?? Ranma, however, was totally perplexed in the seat next to Akane. Was he looking at you, Akane? Akane didnt look. She just nodded. He tapped her on the shoulder. Hey, you didnt tell him anything, did you?

She shook her head. I didnt have to. He knew what I was thinking.

Jeez your thoughts drove someone to suicide. Good thing I cant read minds. At least your boyfriend had the courtesy to kill himself in his match instead of before it. Hey, did that Izzy kid read your mind too?

Akane turned and looked at Ranma. Sort of.

Sort of dont tell me you had something to do with what happened to him did you?

Akane got up from her seat and started walking out of the arena. For someone who had just witnessed a suicide, she was quite cheerful. Sort of, she replied to Ranma. It was probably more than sort of- if she hadnt told Izzy that the dead were raised immediately, Izzy would never have committed suicide. But it was entirely his decision.

Ranma got up and followed her. Sort of whats sort of?? Whats next, are you going to try to convince me to kill myself?!

Akane struggled to keep from laughing. Sort of! That one was entirely a joke

Youre acting very uncute, you know!!


Moore Facility- Lounge- 2:05 PM

Tamahome Tamahome... It was all Miaka could say after that display of drama. She also knew what he was thinking- he wanted to be with her. She couldnt help but start to cry, while clutching on to the nearest available object.

Unfortunately, for Henry, he was the nearest available object. Miaka cant breathe, he said.

Wow Henry first Madison, now Miaka. Youve got the girls all over you! Henry was forced to glare at the smiling Brock. You sticking around for the next match?

Henry looked over at Miaka, still clinging on for dear life. I dont think Im going anywhere anytime soon.

Good. Save me and Tracey seats. I have to round up some snacks, Brock replied.

Yeah, yeah um Miaka I cant feel below my waist

Tamahome!!! It was a fit of emotion only Miaka was capable of. And Henry just wanted to get the hell away from it.


Cafeteria- 2:30 PM

Yui had to get away from the lounge. After the conversation with Miaka, she wasnt about to stay put and watch her former best friend cry at the sight of Tamahome. Suboshi, always the over-protective guard dog, was by her side. Suboshi, she commanded.

Yes, Miko?

Get me some aspirin. I have a headache.

Yes, Miko. Suboshi set off on his quest while Yui continued her reading. She glanced aside for a moment. There was only one other person at the table. He was one of those digi-destined. One of those goodie-goods who thought the world was all happiness and folk songs. Nakago warned Yui about them. He had a tray of food in front of him, but wasnt eating anything. He looked sick, as if gripped in some sort of indescribable pain reserved for those who have truly had their minds fucked with. Or perhaps their bodies.

The hell happened to you? she asked, more curious than sympathetic.

They killed me, he answered quietly, after some delay.

Yui scoffed. They killed you. You have no idea how stupid that sounds. I guess they killed all of us, but

You dont remember it. I do.

Whod you lose to? It cant be any worse than losing to a ten-year-old.

Artie Elker. Even the name brought him pain.

Yui flashed a wry smile. Artie I guess Nakago should have killed him when he had the chance.

Do you know what it feels like to be dead? Izzy turned towards Yui. He had almost no color in his face. He looked sick. He looked like he was going to die all over again.

Yui could see that he was in pain. He was overcome with grief because somebody had wronged him in unimaginable ways. It was easy to see that- she had been through it all before. She hadnt completely recovered from it either. No but I can guess.

Izzy held his head down, clutching it with his hands. Despite the agony of recalling the scene, he forced himself to recant the details. Its like its like you cant move. You are absolutely helpless. When you hope that itll all be over soon but it isnt. It just keeps going and

Yui. Your aspirin. Suboshi had returned at an inopportune time and startled Yui.

Suboshi Yui looked back and forth at Izzy, still shaking from the painful memory, and Suboshi, still standing and alert. She took the aspirin tablets from Suboshi and set them on the table. Get me something to drink.

What would you like?

Yui took a look at Izzy. His situation had captured her attention, and wanted to learn more. She could not do that with Suboshi around. SoBe.

I do not know what that is.

Just find some. Yui remained firm.

Suboshi paused for a second, then nodded. Yes, Miko. He walked to the beverage bar for the elusive SoBe while Yui returned her attention to Izzy.

I think I do know what it feels like, she said.

No you dont Izzy continued to shake.

It feels like youve been raped. Izzy forced himself to look up at Yui. She was crying. And I do know what that feels like. Yui put a hand to her face to catch the steady stream of tears. And none of your friends say the right things. They dont understand, they dont know youve been through they just dont care. Izzy nodded sadly.

Izzy let her words sink in before replying. Do you understand? She nodded. And you know what Ive been through? Again, she nodded. Izzy saw Yuis left hand on the table. He put his own hand on top of it. But do you care?

Yui closed her eyes. Could she possibly care about anyone besides herself after what shed been through? She looked at him again. Perhaps if she cared about his situation, he could care about hers. If you ever want to talk about this I dont know we can talk. I guess theres a few things I want to get off my chest too.

Izzy was about to reply, when they heard a clamor in the kitchen. What was that?

Probably Suboshi getting my SoBe.

After a length pause, Izzy finally continued the conversation. How about now?

Now what?

Can we talk now? Take a walk or something. I just I just want to know that Im not alone. I just went through hell and I dont know what to think anymore. Maybe if I could talk with you about it I could at least understand what Im dealing with.

Yui took a look at the kitchen. Suboshi was going to be pissed. Still Izzy seemed to understand her situation more than Suboshi did. From what Izzy was saying, there was a chance that he understood her situation even more than Nakago did. Doubtful perhaps, but it was something Yui was willing to take a chance on. Sure. Lets go.

The two quietly got up and went outside to take in some fresh air and have their frank conversation. About five minutes later, Suboshi returned with the most holiest of beverages.

Yui? I found a bottle of SoBe Yui? She was nowhere to be found. Something wasnt right


Kohler Complex- Conference Room- 2:40 PM

Nuriko and Hotohori were seated, waiting for he who summoned them. Are you doing okay? Nuriko asked.

Ill live. It doesnt hurt as much as it did yesterday.

I meant I meant after todays matches.

Oh. You mean losing Tamahome and Tasuki? Nuriko nodded. It still doesnt hurt as much as losing Miaka. Without the priestess of Suzaku of what use are her protectors?

Nuriko sighed. I guess so.

Artie finally entered, holding a manila envelope. Sorry to keep you waiting. Im sure you know what this is about.

The fact that we face each other in two days?

Artie was clueless. Um no actually we got the results back from the x-rays taken of Hotohoris ribs.

Artie pulled out said x-rays from the envelope and put them down on the table for Hotohori and Nuriko to view. As you can see, three of the ribs are broken. All but three are bruised severely. Just thought Id bring this to your attention, since it is a matter of physical health, and may impact your performance in your next match.

Hotohori pondered over the photos. Amazing technology, he said.

Artie smiled. Yeah, isnt it? Im surprised we got these so fast. I mean, we only had them taken yesterday. Tom says we have a partnership with a nearby hospital. After what happened last year, we cant take any chances. Artie chuckled. Nakago what a character.

Nuriko worriedly looked over the x-rays, but was still capable of sarcasm. Oh yeah we love Nakago- we invite him to all our parties.

Thats all I had to say. I have to get going now so

But what about our next match? Nuriko wasnt finished yet. Do you honestly expect us to fight against each other? What are we supposed to do?

Artie continued to smile, and turned around. You know something, were not quite sure of that ourselves. Thats part of the fun of a reality series. We havent had a match between two people from the same show yet, so we cant predict whats supposed to happen. But Artie looked at his watch, still smiling. If youll join me in the arena in fifteen minutes we may just find out.


North Entrance- 2:45 PM

He was doing it again. Im really sorry. I have an agreement. Its for the best, believe me. Look- next time

What if there isnt a next time? As always, June was emotional.

This is how it has to be. Im sorry. Gary had to have it this way.

There you go again putting yourself in front of everyone you care about.

Gary looked down. In times like these, the only one you can care about is yourself. Gary looked back up into June, their eyes meeting. There was something there. He knew there was something there. He felt it himself. But before his emotions allowed him to do anything, he headed towards the arena. He stopped once, and turned back to June, his arrogant smile finally showing. If youre wondering why I didnt kiss you its because that would imply that I wasnt coming back. He turned to his animal companion. Umbreon? Lets do this.

 

Manny, as with the hundreds in the stands, saw Garys triumphant entrance into the arena. He was focused. He wanted to win. While Gary gave a few words of advice to Umbreon, Manny looked over at Ash. Ash was staring down his opponent, trying to keep his nerves under wraps. For both of them, there was no hint of sympathy. Their game faces were on. Manny, meanwhile, could only say one thing about it- Holy shit theyre actually gonna do this.

Dave? Manny? Were on in five, four, three Henrys count alerted both Manny and Dave to get their game faces on to cover the upcoming battle.


Moore Facility- Lounge- 2:55 PM

The crowd in the lounge was slightly larger for this one, as few could resist the temptation to see Ash and Gary duke it out. Daves voice indicated that it was about to get underway. "The fourth match today is bound to be a good one, and will go down as the first intra-show match-up thus far in Shougai, although two more have already been confirmed for the third round. The rivalry between Gary Oak and Ash Ketchum probably needs no introduction, but just in case you arent familiar with it I dont know, maybe youre here cheering for Ranma or something give us the lowdown Manny.

Heck, even Ranma mentions Pokmon a couple times, Manny replied before starting the introduction proper: These two have had an intense rivalry with each other for a long time. Since they started on their journey to become Pokmon masters, these two have crossed paths throughout. On paper, Gary seems to be the favorite as far as trained Pokmon go, especially with his powerful Umbreon, which Patamon could hardly scratch last time. If it came to a slug fest, I think Gary would have the advantage as well.

Its interesting Tracey sat down next to Brock while Manny described Ashs strengths. All the digi-destined I asked- Sora, Davis, TK, Mimi theyre cheering for Ash. But the Tamers- Henry, Kazu, Kenta theyre going Gary. Its weird.

Well, I guess the Tamers are still mad at the goggles thing. But if you were in Pokball Run, youd know why Davis is rooting for Ash Brock smiled. And probably why Mimis cheering for Gary to lose.

Not necessarily wasnt Gary your partner in that? Who are you cheering for?

Brock frowned. Uh After thinking up a clever response, his smile returned. On those grounds Ill cheer for Kitsune.

While Tracey laughed, Henry jumped in. So youre cheering for Renamon? But shes going up against Akane who was also your partner in the race!

Shut up Henry! Brock yelled playfully.

Begin! Arties shout brought a hush to the room as they waited to see who would make the first move. Pikachu charged Umbreon with a quick attack, which was immediately repelled with a reflect maneuver. It was on


Kohler Complex- Arena- 3:00 PM

My turn! Umbreon, use pursuit, dont let Pikachu get away! Gary said.

A dark glow came from Umbreon as he went after the yellow mouse.

However, Ash had a few tricks up his sleeve as well. Use agility Pikachu!

While Umbreons pursuit was handy in tracking him down, it didnt help that Pikachu wasnt ever in the same spot. Gary smiled. Not bad Ashy-boy, but Ill stop you in your tracks. Umbreon, faint attack! The dark version of the swift attack caught Pikachu in its tracks and Pikachu stopped dazed, but no way out of it.

In the booth, Manny narrated, Umbreon is a defensive machine, but its attacks arent actually too damaging. Still, its impressive stamina makes it Garys top Pokmon. Manny sighed. He was glad he had notes in front of him, as he didnt have a clue about this thing- all the finer details of Pokmon battling were handled by his assistants.

Ash weighed his options. Umbreon seemed fitter than Pikachu and Ash appeared to be on the losing end. Ash decided to change strategy a bit. Pikachu, thunder wave, slow Umbreon down!

Gary was worried for a second. Pikachus one main advantage was speed, and if Umbreon was paralyzed, that made Pikachus speed even more damaging. Umbreon, confuse ray quickly!


Moore Facility- Lounge- 3:02 PM

The two attacks seemed to happen in unison, and the lounge patrons waited in baited breath as the dust cleared- there was a static-shocked Umbreon and a Pikachu going round in circles. If it wasnt for Ash, he could have fallen out of the ring. Random applause for both competitors erupted; despite the injustices of the game, few could argue with the fact that this match was pretty damn entertaining.

That was a close one! Pikachu almost walked himself right out of existence. Good thing Ash was alert or he would have lost yet another battle to Gary.

Um Manny? Dave had to raise a point. Even if Pikachu did fall, that wouldnt necessarily mean that WHAT THE HELL??!! His point was immediately forgotten at the sight of six Umbreon around the arena.

This would be a double team attack, Dave. Only one of those is real, and with Pikachu already confused, it makes it doubly difficult for him to attack the real thing. Manny smiled. Looks illegal I know, but hey, like anyone from the Ranma camp will tell you- rules are overrated.

Ash said something to Pikachu, and the Pokmon made no move to attack any of the Umbreons. Thats right Ash let him get his bearings back dont attack until it knows which one is real, Brock coached Ash from his seat, as Tori leant forward from the row behind them, putting his arms on the top of the couch.

Is he like this when he watches sports too? Tori asked Tracey.

Hey, everybodys an armchair quarterback sometimes! Tracey replied.

Tori nodded. Tracey- bet you five bucks the middle ones the real thing.

Tracey smiled. Sure, youre on! Usually they dont make it that obvious but

Chichiri popped in out of nowhere. You can see it too Tori? Tori smiled slightly and nodded. Chichiri turned to Tracey. Just give him the money now no da.

Back at the match, the six Umbreons, under orders from Gary, rushed at Pikachu. A strong take down could have resulted in the end of the match.

Until Pikachus eyes snapped open.

WOW! Pikachu used his skull bash attack and sent Umbreon flying! Manny shouted. Dave, despite being the play-by-play person, remained suspiciously silent.  


Kohler Complex- 3:06 PM

Now with only the original on the field, Umbreon looked hurt, but it wasnt out yet. Well Ash, that was impressive, Gary grudgingly admitted.

Erthanks was all Ash could say.

Gary smiled. But not good enough, MOONLIGHT!

Ash gasped. That was a healing technique. Indeed, Umbreon began to glow. He couldnt let that happen- THUNDERBOLT! Pikachus trademark attack zapped the healing Pokmon, and was taking off as much energy as Umbreon was trying to recover. Gary was amazed at how strong the attack was. Moonlight was his real shake of the dice, and Ash had been ready for it.

Gary surveyed the situation. Both Pokmon were tired, but Umbreon could outlast Pikachu. He was certain about that. However, Ash had a habit of his which usually managed to bring him out from the jaws of defeat on many occasions. The previous event was a case in point. Gary only had one sure fire option. His last resortbut he had to do it. He needed to stop the anguish. It was time he ended this now. Im sorry Ash he whispered. Umbreon HYPER BEAM PIKACHU!


Moore Facility- Lounge- 3:08 PM

Aw shit well maybe Tenchill beat him, TK muttered. He turned his head. It only felt like a dream, but it wasnt a dream he looked forward to revisiting.

While the attack charged up, Dave finally spoke, Whoa it looked for a second like Ash was going to jump in there and take the attack for Pikachu, proving once again that Ash is one tape short of a boxed set.

Fortunately, Pikachu, who always has been the smarter one, is telling Ash to stay backm Manny replied upon the sight of Pikachu raising a paw at Ash.

Ash hit the dirt, head in his lap, not wanting to see witness the attack of pure energy as Umbreon fired.

Oh please. Jessie had to reprimand the dozens of spectators who turned their heads at the sight. They slowly turned around as the dust cleared. Most, including Jessie, expected Pikachu to be out cold, and Ash to be crying his eyes out. Instead, they were greeted with the sight of Ash finally taking a peek at the disaster, which immediately cut to a shot of Gary smiling, sure it was over.

Um Manny? Wheres Pikachu? Dave had noticed the obvious- Pikachu wasnt on the floor.

He was gonna be blown away but then he got high! Manny pointed to the air, as the camera finally found Pikachu, curled up and spinning like an acrobat. It seems Pikachu used its own reflect and used it to curl itself into the air, away from Umbreons attack!

That took a lot out of Umbreon as well Indeed, Umbreon was huffing and puffing, as Pikachu finally uncurled with both paws in the air. Ashs command fell on empty ears; Pikachu knew what to do next.

The camera cut to a shot of Gary. He saw the descending Pokmon, and knew that hyper beams draining capabilities meant that Umbreon couldnt move. There was nothing he could do.

After a mini-thunderstorm, Umbreon was down and smoking. It was over.

Brock and Tracey smiled simultaneously, while the others still were unsure what this entailed. Brock looked over at Tracey, who gestured politely back at Brock. It was Brocks duty. There was only one more thing for him to do and he knew what it was.

Umbreon is unable to battle. Pikachu wins the match. Shouts rose from the seats as several stood up in support of the victor, mostly those who knew what this victory meant to Ash. Davis and TK were particularly pleased. Even Jessie couldnt help but throw in some applause- there wasnt much she could do since she was in no position to interrupt the match.

WOW! Unbelievable! Ash Ketchum has pulled off the upset over his archrival Gary Oak. What a match! Manny said, narrating over the scene of Pikachu landing, tired as it was, into Ashs arms. Ash was overjoyed, proud, and every other emotion that could be used to describe the scene. Dave! Say something! This is absolutely huge! One of the most emotional matches Shougai has ever seen!

Um Manny the match isnt over yet. Daves words silenced a few of the onlookers, while some just nodded, finally glad that somebody noticed.

Huh? Manny was totally lost.

Remember- the match isnt between Pikachu and Umbreon its between Ash and Gary, Dave said.

Oh yeah Manny finally kept his emotions in check. Well we arent done yet!

Aw shit It was Traceys turn to mutter, This could suck.


Kohler Complex- Arena- 3:10 PM

Ash formed the plan himself- just a regular Pokmon battle to decide the winner. No interference from the trainer, no fighting amongst themselves, none of the things that plagued Garys first match. Whoever lost was on their own- it was up to them to figure out how to get out of there with their lives intact. It was an excellent plan one that probably would have succeeded if given enough thought. Unfortunately neither Ash nor Gary had planned on losing.

Garys mind raced. The door behind him was locked. That idea was out. There was a slight ledge in the seats that could possibly be reached from the north entrance, but it would be a difficult jump. Gary took a step towards it, then stopped. He couldnt do it every thought of his potential escape made their own escape when the reality finally sunk in and took over Ashy-boy had finally beaten him.

He remained still. All the taunts, jeers, insults, and putdowns he had thrown at Ash over the years were done so with one thing in mind- that Ash couldnt beat Gary. That was the constant. But now what? Garys only true claim to fame at the moment was that he was the best in Pallet Town. Now even that was an uncertainty. Gary looked over at Ash. He was still jumping for joy with Pikachu, oblivious that the match was still continuing. For a second, Gary wanted to walk over there and punch him. But they had a deal, and Gary had to stick to it. Was there anything left for him? The quest for improvement, the quest for badges the quest for Junes heart? They all seemed so worthless now. After losing the battle, Gary had no energy left, and could no longer fight for survival.

Upon losing, Gary had three options. Two of them- fighting for a way to escape, and stabbing Ash in the back, were eliminated. That left one choice. Out of ideas, and looking over the edge into the nothingness of the outer ring, Gary knew that it was the only thing left to do.

I guess I should have kissed June after all, he said.

 

On the other side of the arena, Ash was still celebrating with Pikachu as the match was officially declared over. He had achieved one of his lifelong dreams, and no matter how far he advanced in Shougai, it was something that could never be taken away. It was a recorded tournament, and the line entered into the official book would tell the whole world what had happened:

#3) Ash Ketchum defeats #2) Gary Oak.

End Chapter Ten

Authors Notes
Big props go out to Chromus for writing a lot of the framework for the Ash/Gary match. He also contributed some of the play-by-play coverage.

If the last chapter was the most emotional, then this chapter probably was the most subtle. A lot of the things here, especially those that are seemingly unnecessary add-ons, have very subtle meanings to them. Nothing is without purpose, and theres more things to pick up in the Ash-Gary match, as well as the scene with Akane, than I could possibly list here.

If theres one good thing about writing the dubbed version of Cardcaptors, its Madison. Its like a line-item veto- shes a little more flexible when it comes to emotion (i.e.- shes capable of some degree of anger, unlike Tomoyo), but you can always incorporate any facet of Tomoyos character that you see fit. I call it the Rule of Roomies.

Henrys way of interchanging Kitsune and Renamon, as well as his mention of foxes in the scene with Chichiri, stems from the fact that Renamon and Chichiri are both based on the myths of the Kitsune in Japan, who are mysterious fox spirits capable of fading away and reappearing in random locations. Go to http://www.angelfire.com/anime2/digipedia/trivia.htm#7 (brought to you in part by Andy Taft, a friend in my anime club) to read more about it, as well as more of the stranger references in Digimon that I have mentioned in previous chapters (like the Lain and Eva stuff).

In previous crossover fics, I may have thrown a few scenes in where two characters with the same Japanese voice actor or actress interact. Never have I done it intentionally. But this time, despite using dubbed characters, I couldnt resist the opportunity to have a moment featuring three characters with the same voice actor. In case you overlooked it, I am talking about Tracey, Tori, and Chichiri, who despite their very different personas, are all voiced by the great Tomokazu Seki, easily my favorite male seiyuu in the biz. Other Shougai contestants with the same voice actor in Japan are Kari and Miaka, Joe and Tenchi, Brock and Suboshi, and Ranma and Jessie. Probably the coolest thing is this factoid- all of the shows used in Grim Reality feature a character who is voiced by the same actress who plays either Misty or one of her sisters. Misty herself is on Tenchi Muyo (as Sakuya) while her sisters cover Ranma (Shampoo), Fushigi Yuugi (Chiriko), Cardcaptors (Rita), and Digimon (Jeri). You have to admit that thats pretty cool.

Chapter Eleven- How Soon They Forget
Of the eight girls remaining, four will remain at the end of Day Nine. While Jeri dreads going into battle again, Shampoo looks forward to impressing her airen. And while Kodachi seems unaffected by the game, Misty is still on edge over a stolen kiss. Meanwhile, Rika tries to keep fighting despite her recent losses, and Kari deals with going up against her friend Sakura.

Current "Shougai" Standings