Grim Reality

Chapter Eleven- How Soon They Forget

Day Nine
Kohler Complex- Announcer’s Booth- 11:50 AM

Manny took a second to read the sheet of paper, then spoke into his microphone: “They both raced across America, they both hunted for a Mole. But now Rika Nonaka and Akane Tendo face their greatest challenge- each other.”

Dave followed suit, a somewhat bored look on his face, but with an emotional inflection delivered into the microphone. “After a hard-fought victory three days ago, Misty takes Poliwhirl into a round of Anything Goes Rhythmic Gymnastics as they face Kodachi Kuno.”

Manny smiled. He couldn’t believe this was all they could come up with. “Friends, allies, and Animation Survivor 2 alums square off when Sakura Avalon meets Kari Kamiya.”

“But in the first match, Jeri Katou faces Chinese Amazon Shampoo. Given Shampoo’s Jusenkyo curse and Jeri’s Digimon partner Leomon, only one word can sum this up- catfight!”

“Day Nine of Shougai is coming your way!” Manny faked excitement.

Both were silent as they swiveled around in their chairs to face the arena… and Henry. “Okay, BS some commentary before starting the first match. We may have a couple short ones today,” he said.

Dave nodded and said, “Today is the girls’ quarterfinals, and the elite eight that won their first matches are all in action today. Manny, the first thing that jumps out at me are the success of the girls from two particular shows- Ranma and Digimon Tamers.”

Manny took a look at one of his info pages. “You bet. After two rounds, the boys of Nerima and Shinjuku combined for a mediocre 6-7 record in Shougai, four of those wins coming from quarterfinalists Ranma Saotome and Ryo Akiyama. But combining the girls of the two shows, and we’re looking at an astounding 5 for 5.”

“But they won’t stay undefeated for long, as two matches today are between a Ranma rep and a Tamer. And I have to say that I can’t wait for what is sure to be a great one between Rika and Akane.”

“I know what you mean. But the other Ranma/Tamers match is sure to be a good one as well, as Jeri Katou and her protector Leomon will need everything in their arsenal to get past Shampoo.”

South Entrance- 11:55 AM

Jeri was almost hyperventilating, until a reassuring hand fell on her shoulder. “I don’t know if I can do this Tai,” Jeri huffed.

“Just remember- you’re not doing anything wrong. Besides, I’m sure Leomon won’t let you get hurt.” Tai looked up at Leomon.

Leomon eyed down their opponent as she twirled her bonburies, the spherical mallets that served as Shampoo’s weapons of choice, a few times in anticipations. “I take it this will be more dangerous than last time.”

Tai looked up sullenly at Leomon. “Let’s not get into last time,” he said before changing the subject, “Okay, from the looks of things she’s pretty fast. Best move would probably be to keep Jeri as far away from the outer ring as possible.” Leomon nodded in understanding. Tai looked down at Jeri. “Jeri… please… we can get through this together. Just believe in yourself, and your friends.”

Jeri nodded quietly and started into the arena. Leomon followed, as did Tai. All three tried to keep their nerves in check, with little luck.


At Artie’s signal, neither Leomon nor Jeri wasted any time getting to the center of the arena. Unfortunately, Shampoo wasted no time in attacking, charging after Leomon with her bonburies. Leomon had his sword out to defend the initial attack, but Shampoo wasn’t going to let one counter ruin her day. Her agility proved an immediate asset, as she landed on the ground, and jumped again immediately… this time onto the sword. Before Leomon could react, she had bounced off of the sword, nailing a backflip over Leomon’s head. Leomon turned around to see Shampoo picking Jeri up and making a beeline for the outer ring.

“Dammit… Leomon help her!” Tai probably didn’t need to say it, but Jeri’s inability to escape Shampoo’s grasp was enough to rattle anybody on the Tamer’s side.

“Jeri…” Leomon spat. He had no other alternative. Fortunately… Shampoo made a crucial mistake- she turned her back to the brawn of the team. “Fist of the Beast King!!” Right before Shampoo could end the match, the attack connected directly into her back, forcing her to drop Jeri and kneel down in pain.

Jeri crawled away, and met up with Tai. “Are you alright?” he asked. Jeri nodded as Tai helped her get out of danger for the time being.

Leomon approached Shampoo to make sure she was no longer a threat. Unfortunately… the Amazon proved much harder to take down than Sora; she got up and jumped out of the way, bouncing once and driving a flying kick at Leomon’s head. Leomon was forced back by the blow, but quickly recovered in order to defend himself from the constant barrage Shampoo was offering.

“It’s okay Leomon… look for an opening!” Tai shouted, then looked at Jeri. “Sorry.”

Jeri didn’t care, she was too worried about her partner. “Leomon…”

Leomon heard both, and quietly defended against Shampoo’s frequent punches and kicks. Finally, her efforts, combined with her previous shot to the back, tired her enough to give Leomon the opening. He delivered a mighty right hook to her midsection, sending her sprawling back. Leomon looked back towards Jeri, who nodded. Another “Fist of the Beast King” was enough to knock Shampoo into the outer ring.

For a second, she looked brave. She went through it all and held her head high the whole time. Now that the match was over, however, she was free to let loose. She collapsed to her knees. She wasn’t sad or guilty. She was just tired. Tai caught her. “Good work. I hate this too, but we will make it home. We all will,” he said soothingly, calmly stroking her hair. Jeri just quietly let herself succumb to the moment as Tai helped her out of the ring.


In Matt’s head, only one word came to mind. “Traitor.” Nothing had changed. Tai was as ignorant as ever. Matt wasn’t expecting much out of this match, and got even less. Katou didn’t even pay the ultimate price. He started out, hoping to get out of there before anybody- whether Tai, Kari, or Mike Storch, could start bugging him.

Unfortunately, he forgot about Ash Ketchum, flanked by Misty. “Hey, Matt!” the trainer yelled, “Haven’t seen you in awhile! Are you okay after what happened to Sora?”

“I… don’t want to talk about it.”

Ash had half-expected the answer. But what surprised him was the fact that Matt hadn’t said it to Ash… Matt was looking at Misty. Misty was staring back at Matt, visibly nervous.

“I have to go,” Matt said. Before Ash could probe further, Matt was out of the stands, back to his room.

Ash turned to Misty, who stared at Matt’s vapor trail. “What’s up with him?” Ash asked Misty, as if she had all the answers.

“Go easy on him… his girlfriend died,” she whispered.

“What? You care now? What happened to that Pokémon/Digimon rivalry?”

Misty closed her eyes. It hurt to even think about it. “It just… doesn’t seem important anymore.”

Reception Room- 12:40 PM

“You always had some guilt about it, like it was something you didn’t really want to do, but had to. And that it was because you did something when you didn’t want to that got you here… I hope that whoever wins, and even the one who doesn’t, really be happy, because it was so hard to do this, but you did it anyway.”

Kari stared at the giant standings board. The lines and letters that dictated everybody’s future. It was still up on the left side of the Girls’ section- a line representing #1) Sakura Avalon and a line representing #5) Kari Kamiya. A perpendicular line met the two, indicating that they were to meet in a match. Equally spaced between the two were the words “Day 9: 1:00.” Kari tried to pretend that it was ages away, but she could no longer escape the reality of it. Of all the people she met in her experiences in these reality series, she was probably the closest to Sakura. Now she was supposed to kill her.

“This is going to be so hard to do.”

Kari was certainly thinking it, but she did not say it. She looked to her left. Sakura herself was pondering over the board. She turned to Kari and added, “It’s not like we have a choice… I guess it wasn’t our lucky day. Just promise me something Kari…”

“Yes, Sakura?”

She looked down. “We’re supposed to be working as hard as we can. I know it’s going to be tough… but if they say we’re up against each other, we have to do it. There’s not much of a way around it. So… promise me you’ll try.”

Kari was wide-eyed. “What are you saying? Sakura… you’re asking me to try to kill you. You know I can’t do that. I… what about you?”

Sakura put hands on each side of Kari’s head. She held them there. “Don’t make this harder than it already is. Neither of us want to go through this… but we have to. I will… and all I ask is that you do too.”

Kari remained silent for a second. As sincere as Sakura sounded, something wasn’t right. “Sakura… what’s wrong with you? Are you okay?”

Sakura shook her head. “I won’t be okay until this is over with. So please… let’s get this over with.”

South Entrance- 12:55 PM

Gatomon was started to get anxious. “Where is she?”

“Why do you ask?” Tai asked. He was nervous as well; he was about to be in the corner for yet another match. This one would be much more difficult to bear with than the first. “I’m having enough trouble with this- I can only imagine what Kari’s going through.” Tai and Sakura were never especially close when stationed together in the first Mole series, but the Cardcaptor still left a positive impression on Tai.

“Look at her… she’s not even Kari’s age.” Gatomon looked at Sakura as she released her Star Wand, wearing her regular clothes. “And she’s not even a bad guy like last time.”

“I wouldn’t even label Jessie as a bad guy. She was an innocent victim, just like everybody else.”

Kari finally arrived, although it was clear that she didn’t want to be there. “Kari? Are you okay?” both Tai and Gatomon asked simultaneously. Kari said nothing, and stepped out onto the field. Gatomon followed and said, “Kari? I know you’re friends with her, but the second she tries to do anything to hurt you… I'll have to take matters into my own paws.”

Across the arena, Sakura flipped a card in the air, crying “Fight Card- release and dispel!” She pointed her wand at it. A second later, she posed- ready for battle. Her face was sad, but brave.

Then Kari started to cry. Tai took her in his arms and turned to Gatomon. “Gatomon… if you have to… you have to. That’s all there is to it.” Gatomon nodded as the match begun. Tai continued to comfort Kari. “I’m sorry… I know it’s painful, but between losing you or losing her… I’d rather keep my sister around.”

Sakura continued to walk towards Kari, who was still crying in Tai’s arms. “Kari… I think this girl's serious.” Gatomon said, looking back at Kari, “Here’s a simple solution- don’t look.” Kari buried her face in Tai’s chest as Gatomon charged after Sakura. “Lightning Claw!!”

Sakura panicked for a brief second, then recovered. The move was right out in the open… and was nothing she couldn’t handle. In a flash she spun once, landing a kick that knocked Gatomon out of the air and sent the Digimon flying uncontrollably into the outer ring.

“What happened?” Kari asked, still not looking.

“Oh my God…” Tai was absolutely bewildered. Gatomon was gone before he could blink. Kari forced herself to look at the action. Sakura was still approaching Kari. Gatomon was nowhere to be found. “G… Gatomon??”

“I’m sorry I had to do that Kari,” Sakura stated. She sounded solemn, but her mannerisms did not indicate as such.

Kari took a few steps towards Sakura. “What happened to Gatomon?”

“As hard as it is Kari, we have no choice. Like I said before, I don’t want to go through with this, but I will if I have to. Please Kari… I don’t want to see you go down like this.”

Kari was circling around Sakura. Gatomon was gone and Kari couldn’t bring herself to attack a friend. “Why do you have to? We can figure out a way to get out of here if we work together!”

“Kari… we have to do our best to win.” Sakura’s voice sounded normal, with a slightly lowered tone.

Kari held firm. “Why? What’s the point of winning if it’s at the expense of our friends?”

It looked like that affected Sakura somehow, as she looked down, lost for an answer. Kari approached Sakura, to see if she was alright, perhaps even listening. Sakura answered by looking back up at Kari and delivering a punch to the face. A subsequent kick was all it took to knock Kari over the edge.

“KARI!!” Tai’s scream said it all. The match was over. But it had taken its toll on everybody involved. As Fight returned to its card form, Sakura bent down. She was mentally exhausted. She wasn’t able to take much more… even if she was only halfway towards her goal. As Artie helped her out of the arena, she was extremely tempted to look back at Tai. But she forced herself not to; it would have been too much for her to bear.

Reception Room- 1:15 PM

Misty was sick of it all. She just wanted to crawl into a hole somewhere. It wasn’t so much that Tai kissed her… it was that it opened her eyes. He was right. Tai nailed it on the head- she was looking out for herself. This whole thing was bigger than her. It wasn’t enough that she, or even she and Ash, survived. The casualties were too high to be concerned about two people. She had it all wrong.

Her having it all wrong wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was that Tai was right. She couldn’t possibly admit that to him. The kiss itself was moot. It was the fact that he used it to prove he was right. And that it worked. That… that was unforgivable. Perhaps she should try to make amends. But after all she had done, could he possibly forgive her? Could she possibly be willing to beg for forgiveness?

She saw him passing by. Judging by the look on his face, it was clear that fate wasn’t with his sister.


It was practically a whisper. He turned and glanced at her, not changing his expression for a second.

“I’m… sorry.”

Tai took a few seconds to let it register, nodded, and continued back towards Beeda. Misty shook her head. She had no idea if it worked or not.

She felt a hand on her shoulder. “Good for you. That’s definitely a start,” Ash said. He had slid over, trying to console her. “You know, it’s not too late to talk to him and straighten things out.”

“I think it is. I don’t deserve to win.”

“Either way, you’ll never find out until you talk to him. No matter how bad things get, it’s never too late to change things if you know what you’re supposed to do. And right now… there’s just one thing stopping you from becoming friends with Tai again.”

“And what’s that?” Misty asked.

“Kodachi Kuno.”

Confessional Room- 1:20 PM

“It’s bad enough that I’ve lost my friends. Now I have to kill them myself. That’s really painful. I don’t know if it’s going to get easier or harder with time. I just hope that… hope that…” Sakura was pouring her heart out, as always, when she stopped for some reason.

“Sakura? You’re doing fine, just a little more,” Mike prompted from behind the camera. However, she wasn’t responding. “Sakura?” Now Mike was concerned, shut off the camera, and went to check on her. She had passed out. “The hell?” Mike shook his head and dialed a number on his cell phone. “Yeah, Manny? This is Mike. Sakura just fainted… Uh huh… yeah, she’s fine. Could you take her to her room? It looks like she just needs some rest… Yeah.”

Mike put the phone away and stood outside to wait for Manny. He looked around the hallway- the numbers were dwindling. Fourteen remained of the original forty-eight, and none seemed all that happy to be there. In the beginning it was interesting. Nobody knew who was going to stay or go, and everything was up in the air. Now… it was getting depressing. There was nothing fun about fighting for survival. There was nothing fun about killing. Obviously, Shougai was not supposed to be fun. But the question remained- what was it supposed to be?

“Is she still in there?” Manny said as he arrived to get Sakura out of there. Mike nodded and Manny picked her up and headed towards the exit. “Tough match I guess… oh well, she’ll be fine.” Mike held the doors open as Manny carried Sakura back to her room.

“What happened to her?” Mike was startled by the voice of Artie, who was leaning against the outside wall, smoking a cigarette.

“Oh… just fainted. Guess things were getting a bit intense,” Mike replied with a sigh.

“Rough day?”

“Nah…” Mike leaned against the wall. Artie offered him a cigarette, which Mike politely declined. “I’m just starting to wonder what the point of all this is.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well… why are we doing this? The kids are depressed as hell, trying to run this thing is a pain in the butt, and we pretty much have to lie 24/7 in order to keep it realistic. Why?”

Artie exhaled, letting smoke fly into the air. “I dunno… it’s just cool. And besides, people want to see it. Good enough for me.”

“That’s another thing… why do people want to see this? What’s so appealing about watching these kids in situations like this?”

“Jeez Mike… you’ve been talking to Bresnick, haven’t you?”

“No… I’m not Barb. I don’t have a problem with Shougai. It’s just that I don’t see why we’re going through all this trouble to see cartoon characters kill each other. I guess I can ask the same about all of these series. Really Artie… what’s so cool about watching fictional characters in Survivor?”

Artie was getting increasingly annoyed. “I don’t know Mike. I can’t explain it either, but it’s what we’re known for. It’s what people watch. People love it, and they expect us to keep producing these things. We have an obligation to…”

“Obligation my butt… you just like seeing your face on TV.”

“You caught me in a bad mood Mike. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t have the almighty answers that you seek. Christ, first Tom, now you.” Artie shook his head angrily. 

“What did Tom do?” Mike asked, inquisitively.

“He cut out part of Hotohori’s last match to make more room for some shit about Izzy. Jeez, it’s almost like he cares more about what goes on behind the scenes than the matches themselves.”

“Well… people like the backstage stuff. That was one of the big things, seeing the characters interact and…”

“That was before. Shougai is about the matches. All the other stuff should just be filler material for when matches don’t run long enough because of the losers in them.”

Mike was getting a little angry at Artie's argument, but remained polite: “I disagree Artie. I think that the matches just fuel everything else that goes on.”

“Of course you would say that Mike- you’re in charge of the everything else.”

Fed up, Mike shook his head and walked back inside. “Goodbye Artie.”

“If it was up to me, we wouldn’t even bother with the backstage stuff.” Artie threw his cigarette down and stomped on it, ensuring that it was completely extinguished.

Announcer’s Booth- 2:00 PM

“Well, Manny, it’s tough to say exactly how this one will turn out,” Dave said, not as if it was a question of who would win though, “This could either be a classic or a snoozer. From where I sit, it all depends on Misty.”

Manny looked down at Misty, who seemed ready to claim victory once more. She and Poliwhirl talked strategy while Ash stood by idly. “I just noticed something- the skinny python arms, the diminutive stature… the Lina Inverse chest… Misty was born to be the underdog! The Cerulean City gym leader fits the role very well and she’d best be taking up her tomboy attitude if she wants to get past the Black Rose from St. Hebereke School for Girls.”

Misty and Poliwhirl stepped out a little bit upon the start of the match. Any sign of depression seemed to vanish within Misty. Inner demons or not, she wanted to keep herself alive to fight them. “Okay, Poliwhirl, just stick to the plan,” Misty declared.

Kodachi laughed, obviously not taking her opponent seriously. And why did she have to? She had her ribbon, and immediately made good use of it as she wrapped up Poliwhirl and hosted the water-type in the air, laughing all the while.

Misty winked at Ash and proceeded around to the other side of the arena. Ash was more than capable of temporarily taking the reins. “Use Water Gun Poliwhirl!” Ash shouted.

Kodachi, experienced at these situations, demonstrated her expertise and dodged out of the way, keeping Poliwhirl airborne in the ribbon all the while. However, she momentarily forgot about Misty, who sped over and elbowed the Black Rose in the face.

Misty saw her opportunity immediately. Not only was Poliwhirl freed up, but Kodachi dropped her ribbon. Misty grabbed it quickly and jumped back, ready to attempt to use it. Kodachi got back up and rubbed her face. No blood- just a slightly bruised cheek. Misty continued to threaten Kodachi with the ribbon… until the gymnast got serious, jumped over Misty’s head, and stuck the landing with amazing precision, grabbing the ribbon before Misty could blink. With the weapon back in the hands of the master, Kodachi now used it to wrap Misty up. Before she could hurl the gym leader into the outer ring, Misty yelled out, “Bubble Attack!”

Kodachi spotted Poliwhirl flying in from the corner of her eye, blowing the bubbles as ordered. She attempted to brace herself for the impact, while keeping a grip on Misty as well. Unfortunately, the bubbles were too pestering, and something had to give. She relented her grip on Misty and did the natural, ladylike thing- she kicked the Pokémon in the crotch, punting it up in the air and over her head. Ribbon still in hand, she bounced to her feet and jumped towards the middle of the arena, turning just in time to see Misty making a running grab, catching Poliwhirl and setting it gently on the ground. To make matters worse for Kodachi, Misty smiled and winked as she and Poliwhirl flashed a peace sign at their enemy- they were ready for more.

“That’s right Misty- when in doubt, strike a pose,” Ash muttered, watching the whole thing unfold from the sidelines.

“This match is just raging back and forth, Manny. Misty’s giving it everything she can and Kodachi’s demonstrating why she’s the top seed in this group,” Dave said. As the match continued with neither competitor taking a clear advantage, he was forced to start chatting with Manny.

“Definitely. We have a good one here. To think we may get an even better one next time. Different Nerima girl and a different redhead, but it’s still going to be a hot one.”

Dave watched as Kodachi perfectly countered a Double Slap attack from Poliwhirl. “Any chance of wearing Kodachi down?”

“Doesn’t look like it Dave. I think Misty’s only advantage is Kodachi’s training- one of the few rules in Anything Goes Martial Arts Rhythmic Gymnastics is that you can only hit the opponent through weapons- no punches or kicks or anything. Except for the low blow to Poliwhirl, Kodachi seems to be sticking to trained technique.”

Misty again tried to sneak an attack towards Kodachi, but received a kick to the stomach for her efforts. Manny slapped his forehead.

“…and pause for editing,” Henry remarked as the match continued.

Misty clutched her stomach. She was running out of energy. So was Poliwhirl. If they were going to end this, they were going to have to end it soon. “Poliwhirl- jump back and use…” Misty bent down, trying to fight off the pain, “Water gun,” she ordered.

Ash ran up to get her back to her feet, but she refused the help. “Sorry… this is between me, her, and Poliwhirl now." However, she did manage a smile towards Ash when she said, “Just be ready to catch me again… just in case.”

Poliwhirl distanced himself to about five yards from Kodachi and shot its water gun. However, Kodachi was well-prepared for it, and spun her ribbon around. She stepped to the side, and the stream of water harmlessly flew away from the ribbon. Another round of her trademark laughter followed.

“Would you quit with that laugh already?!!” The scream came from the right, but Kodachi was more than ready to block Misty’s punch with her free hand, and follow up with a kick to the side. While Misty doubled over in pain, Kodachi moved for another kick.

“Body slam!!” Kodachi looked up and to her left. But it was too late- the call had been given and there was no way for Kodachi to dodge the big blue blob diving after her. Poliwhirl connected with full force, and added a water gun for good measure. Kodachi didn’t have a chance of sticking that landing… especially since their was nowhere to land but the black expanse of darkness.

As the crowd went wild for the underdog, Misty forced herself to her feet. She had won. She had remained alive by toppling a number one seed and her vast array of talents. And she felt like shit. She attempted to raise her hand to acknowledge the cheers, but lost all energy in doing so, and fell back down.

Fortunately, she didn’t hit the ground. “Like you said… just in case.” Ash was again there to catch her. She managed a smile as he helped her out of the arena. She slung one arm around his shoulder to assist the process, while clutching her midsection with the other. “Does it hurt?”

Misty groaned. “Next time, I’m wearing a t-shirt. Fashion sense is one thing… having a layer of clothing between me and my opponent’s foot is something else.” Misty shut up as the two sought a much-needed rest.

Moore Facility- Cafeteria- 2:50 PM

As inexplicable as it was, Yui and Izzy were starting to bond. “I mean, it was obvious that Mr. Ashitara was picking on me with a question like that. But I think he knew I could answer it,” Yui said, “And of course… I did.” They soon found that the best way to cope with what they had been through was just to talk.

Izzy chuckled slightly. “Prodigious,” he replied.

Yui eyed him carefully. She still didn’t smile. “Prodigious? Interesting use of vocabulary.”

Izzy retracted a bit. Nobody had ever questioned him about “prodigious” before. Most of the people he knew didn’t even think it was a real word. “It’s just… me. I’ve been using it for years. I guess… it just sounds cool.”

Yui nodded. “In a way it does. Of course, it’s usually only used to refer to the size of something, and it’s also something of an extreme adjective… not something to be used lightly.”

Izzy was stunned. Nobody had ever called him on that before. “Uh… yeah…” He sighed. “Nobody’s ever brought that up.” After a second, he smiled. “I guess I’m going to have to find a different word.”

Out of nowhere, she started laughing. It was very soft and contained, but it was unmistakable. Izzy continued to smile. The two had been through hell, and together, they could at least succeed in smiling again.

Suboshi couldn’t believe the sight. The Priestess of Seiryuu… smiling? Laughing? He had never seen her laugh before. It seemed so out of place. And as beautiful as it made her look, it was painfully clear that something was amiss. Suboshi didn’t trust this Izzy person. He was getting too close to her. That couldn’t be tolerated.

Meanwhile, Izzy checked his watch and stood up. “Sorry to cut this short, but I have to watch the next match.”

Yui’s laugh immediately gave way to a frown. “Why? I thought you said these matches were stupid.”

“Yeah… but I still feel like I should be there for Rika. She’s like a little sister to me.”

“Izzy, she’s God knows how many miles away right now. You could cheer your heart out, but she still can’t hear you.”

Izzy frowned as well. “I at least want to know what happens to her.”

Yui shook her head. “That’s not a problem either. Suboshi!” Somehow she knew he was watching them.

“Yes, Lady Miko?”

Yui barked her order without so much as looking at him: “Go to the lounge and let us know who wins the next match.”

Suboshi was silent for a minute, unsure of the request. But an order was an order, and he wasn’t going to win her heart by disobeying. “Yes Yui.” He bowed and marched towards the lounge.

“That should settle things.” Yui returned her attention to Izzy. Not only was he slightly guilty about missing Rika’s match, but he also didn’t like what was going on between Yui and Suboshi. Yui changed the subject. “Little sister?”

Izzy dropped any negative feelings at the sound of it. “Yeah. It’s kind of a long story. We were definitely more than teammates. And after N…” Izzy immediately fell silent upon recalling him. He looked up at Yui- the girl Nakago was controlling. He had to be careful when bringing him up. “Yeah… it’s a long story.” His head began to throb, until Yui put a hand on his. It seemed to help ease the pain.

“At least you understand a little bit. Not just with what I’ve been through. But what it’s like knowing that you’re better than the rest. You’re one of the smart ones. Don’t forget that.” Izzy sighed. She was definitely helping him, but her attitude towards life left something to be desired. Was there another way he could help her? Izzy slowly realized that he was growing increasingly close to Yui Hongo, the priestess of Seiryuu. Without her, Nakago was nothing. Perhaps he could change her… perhaps he could rewrite the book.

Kohler Complex- North Entrance- 3:00 PM

Rika shook her head angrily. "You don't have to be here," she said.

"I know. But you can't leave anything to chance," Ryo said, quite sincerely, "Akane has somebody watching her back, and as stubborn as you are, I'm not going to let you do this without someone watching yours." Rika still wasn't looking at him. She had her eyes focused on Renamon. The two had their game-plan. They didn't need to say a word to understand what their job was. "Rika... you're ready for this, right?" She almost smiled. Another typical question from the stuck-up dolt. "I know Izzy meant a lot to you, and I know that everything's turned upside-down since he died. I just have to make sure..." Rika finally turned towards him. He was dead serious. "Because I will not permit you to let yourself down."

Rika sighed. "Akiyama... I'm ready," she said as Ryo nodded, "And I won't let me let myself down either. Besides- right now I wouldn't mind letting out my frustrations on something. If it's gotta be Akane... it's gotta be Akane."

He was still serious. "Then let it all out babe." They knocked fists and took their positions.

"BEGIN!" At Artie's shout, neither Rika, Renamon, nor Akane moved. However, this time it had nothing to do with hesitation, fear, or dread. This time... it was all about strategy.

"Renamon? Remember the fifteen-second plan?" Rika addressed her partner, but continued to watch Akane like a hawk.

"Of course. From this distance... I'd say eleven," Renamon replied.

Rika smiled. It was a good thing she arrived a few minutes early to discuss a few plays to use on the field. "Definitely. Start..." Rika made sure that only Renamon could hear it. Renamon disappeared in a flash. Akane was concerned, but appeared to be prepared for it. Rika began to count. "One... two..."

Akane glanced around nervously. "Three... four... five... six..." Rika continued. Akane looked over to Ranma. He nodded. Right in plain view, she closed her eyes. "Seven... eight... nine..." Rika couldn't help but crack a smile. "Ten... eleven!" At soon as she hit eleven, Rika charged towards Akane.

"Akane! Ahead of you!" Ranma shouted as Akane instinctively opened her eyes to defend the redhead's attack. But as soon as Rika reached Akane, Renamon also appeared next to Akane, hitting her from the side. Akane went down, but rolled out of the way as Rika attempted to stomp her foot into Akane's face. Rika felt no guilt about trying to kick an opponent while she was down- all was fair in Shougai.

Akane quickly rose to her feet and quickly jabbed Rika in the face. Rika reeled back, but was caught by Renamon, as expected. "Rika, are you alright?" Renamon asked.

"It's nothing that'll kill me. C'mon." Rika and Renamon simultaneously went after Akane, but she quickly jumped over their heads and, upon landing, took it upon herself to kick Renamon down. Akane went after Rika, but Rika quickly dodged every shot, even adding her own leg sweep for good measure. It did little to bring the trained martial-artist down, but it kept her at bay long enough for Renamon to get back up. Another warning from Ranma and Akane turned around to meet Renamon's attack. While Akane dealt with Renamon, Rika took it upon herself to jump on Akane's back and attempt a few punches to the head.

"Rika, get down!!" Ryo's shout was just audible enough. Rika dropped down just in time as Akane turned around, her back colliding with Renamon's flying punch. Rika snuck through Akane's legs, getting out of the way just in time as Akane fell into a rolling somersault, vaulting back up to her feet immediately. Rika flashed a thumbs-up to Ryo. She wanted to acknowledge his help, but she couldn't distract too much of her attention away from her primary objective.

Renamon was floating in the air, but it didn't present much of a challenge to Akane, who jumped to her level and began the attack. Both had thrown a few punches and kicks before gravity set in and Akane was forced to land, although one more kick from Renamon delayed Akane's collision with the ground for at least a couple seconds. Akane took slightly longer to get up this time- it was clear that she was taking a beating. Rika ran over to knock a few more points off Akane's health bar, but the youngest Tendo girl was up and in the air before the Tamer could reach her. With Akane and her incredible airtime focused on Renamon, Rika decided that it was for the best- it would only make Akane more tired. "Rika!" She dropped back for a second as Ryo walked up. "She's worried about Renamon. I'd say keep it that way. Get her good and tired."

Rika was slightly annoyed. She already knew that. "No shit- you think I've never been in a fight before?"

"Just making sure. You're doing good. Just stay focused and this sucker's yours."

Ryo stepped back to remain out of the action. Rika saw that Renamon had just cleaned Akane's clock from ten-feet in midair. As Akane landed with a thud onto the hard arena floor, Rika glanced back at Ryo. "Thanks," she said. Instantly, she surveyed the situation going on. Akane was face up on the ground. Renamon was in the air between her Tamer and her opponent. Rika knew that it was time. "NOW!"

"DIAMOND STORM!!" Renamon prepared and launched the attack. It was over.


Rika actually couldn't help but look away. Sure she had no hesitations about actually doing the deed, and sure she wasn't exactly friends with Akane. But at the same time, she knew Akane, and did know that she was a person just like Rika herself. Nobody deserved to die. Rika was fighting for survival, but it didn't mean that she couldn't feel sorry for what she did.

"RIKA!!!" Ryo's shout forced Rika to turn towards the action. She saw Renamon firing at where Akane used to be. Rika also saw Akane... charging directly towards her. Akane looked like a bloodied up, blue-haired freight train coming on at full speed. Every attempt Rika made at blocking the forthcoming punch was useless, and she took one directly in the face, sending her skyward, and back. She was already beginning to fade out, but she saw the rafters above, the crowd surrounding her, and her landing strip. There was only black in the vicinity. There was no arena floor to break her fall this time, and Rika didn't even have the chance to scream before she plummeted helplessly into the abyss.

Moore Facility- Drop-Off Area- 5:30 PM

"Rika?" She heard a girl calling her. "Rika? Are you awake?" Rika opened her eyes. Kari was wearing a very comforting smile. It wasn't one of happiness- more a confident smile that said that everything was going to be alright in the end. Rika sat up immediately.

"What's going on? I was... I was..." She had been falling into the outer ring. Now she was seat-belted in the back seat of a Suburban.

Dave Wenzler walked up to unfasten her belt. Rika quickly refused, doing the work herself. Nonetheless, Dave smiled. "Akane got a second wind, jumped to her feet, and ran under the attack to knock you out of the ring. Surprised the hell out of all of us. Kari?" Dave looked down towards Kari, who was still standing in the vicinity. "Could you fill Nonaka in on the details? I have an ungodly amount of paperwork to do." Kari nodded silently as Dave headed into the building they were parked at.

Rika was still completely in the dark. "That... that was a dream. Wasn't it?"

Kari sighed. "Where do I begin? He made it all sound so simple, but really... it's awful."

Rika scoffed. "I'm sure it is- now spill it."

Room 215- 6:00 PM

"I do not trust him Lady Miko." Suboshi was on-guard, standing like a servant reporting to his master.

Yui was somewhat smug. "Who? Izzy?"

"He's dangerous. I don't think he's someone you should be associating with."

"And why's that?" Yui glared at him. She wanted to see him explain this one.

"You're above him. He's... nobody. And I doubt that he's willing to follow Nakago."

"What does that matter? I don't see him cavorting around with Konan's forces. He isn't a threat. He is not trying to interfere with our war on Konan and he isn't trying to interfere with our summoning Seiryuu. Therefore, he is not a concern to you."

Yui started to walk away. Suboshi, however, was unwilling to accept her answers. "Do you love him?"

She froze. After the incident, she couldn't possibly grasp the idea of being in love with somebody. She turned around and stared him in the eyes. "Suboshi. You are not to do anything to Izzy. You may not harm him, threaten him, or intimidate him in any way. That is an order from me, the Priestess of Seiryuu, to you, a Seiryuu Seishi. Furthermore, you are to remain here until I return. Understood?" Her eyes were unflinching.

Suboshi was about ready to die. He wanted to do all of those things. He wanted to take every step necessary to keep Izzy Izumi away from his priestess. The situation was unpleasant, and as much as he wanted to, an order was an order.

"Yes, Miko." He replied meekly, not watching Yui as she left the room.

Lounge- 6:15 PM

Izzy finished his story and slumped back in the chair. The pain was immeasurable. Having Yui around would have helped him a lot. He asked her to come down after filling Rika in on the whole matter, but had yet to arrive. He glanced up at Rika, who was seated on a couch across from him, taking everything in. "Well?"

She glanced to the side. "Well what?" she said.

"Are you okay?"

She looked back at him. "Am I okay??" It was clear through the tenor of her voice that she was definitely not. "I'm pissed off is what I am! Son of a bitch, those bastards are going to..."

"Rika..." One word from Izzy silenced her. "That doesn't help. I am not in any kind of condition to play a hero. I'm not the revenge type."

Rika sat down, clearly not happy, but silent. She looked over at the fellow occupant of the couch. Kari was crying uncontrollably. "Oh please..." Rika said as she rolled her eyes, grabbed a box of Kleenex off an end table, and passed them to Kari.

"I just... can't believe we..." Kari took the Kleenex and rubbed her eyes. "We just accepted it so easily... I mean we all had doubts but... none of us realized that those guys were capable of..." Kari continued to sob, and walked off towards her room.

"Izzy, now it's serious." Rika looked around. She didn't care who heard her. "This is worse than it was before. Just pretending to kill us is one thing. But we have to tell them once and for all that they've fucked with us for the last time. I am not going to take this lying down, and I'm sure that you won't either."

"Rika..." Izzy shook his head. "I... can't do it. I'm not sure what you make of me, but if you think for a second that I can do something as drastic and as bold as stopping this thing... then I'm sorry for misleading you." The anger in Rika's face was slowly giving way to sadness. "I'm not a leader Rika. I just... want to go home and forget that all of this ever happened."

Rika tried to contemplate his words. Was he just giving up? He was just going to give in and let the AA win without a fight? No... she wasn't going to allow that. "No. If you won't be a leader, then you better find someone who will." Izzy shook his head.

Her view trailed over Izzy's shoulder as Yui put a hand on it. Rika immediately grew suspicious. "What the hell are you doing here?" she asked.

Yui raised an eyebrow. "Do I know you?" 

Rika sneered. "Oh, your eternal savior Nakago didn't tell you about his big achievement? I'm so surprised."

Momentarily ignoring Izzy, Yui walked up to Rika. "What do you mean by that?"

"Now that I think about it, he wouldn't say anything that would make you think of him in a negative way, would he? He didn't tell you about the time he nearly killed Izzy?"

Yui didn't know who the heck this girl was, but the blasphemous things she was saying about Nakago could not be tolerated. "Nakago? Liar! He'd never do that unless he had a damn good reason for it."

A sly grin appeared on Rika's face. "I suppose just getting in his way is good enough reason."

Yui turned to Izzy, asking, "What's she talking about? Did Nakago really...?"

Izzy squirmed a little. "Uh... well..."

Rika continued to smile. "Of course, even if he did tell you, you wouldn't think anything of it." Rika laughed slightly while Yui continued to steam. "You have... you have absolutely no idea, do you? You are totally under his control, and you are completely oblivious."

Yui took immediate action, slapping the smile off Rika's face.

"Uh oh..." Suddenly Izzy's headache grew worse, but it was no longer due to any existing ailments.

Rika rubbed her cheek. It hurt, but she wasn't going to admit that to her adversary. Her smile returned. "Was that supposed to hurt?"

"I order you to apologize for your remarks about Nakago," Yui replied firmly.

"Seriously- was that supposed to hurt?" Yui didn't respond. "I guess not. You see, the problem is with slapping a person. If you wanted to hurt somebody, you'd do this!" Rika delivered a punch to Yui's face.

Yui's head snapped back, and she took a couple steps backward. She felt her nose and saw traces of blood on her fingers. That was the last straw. She dove after Rika's neck, attempting to strangle her. Yui got two hands around Rika's neck, but Rika forced them off immediately, pulling on Yui's arm and forcing her into a headlock. Yui countered by digging her fingernails into Rika's upper arm, forcing Rika to let her loose. The scuffle continued as Rika kicked Yui onto the couch.

"Rika... Yui... I'm not in the mood for this," Izzy moaned. He clearly wasn't pleased with the situation, but was too exhausted to deal with it. Yui was obviously taking it seriously. For her, it was a matter of pride. Rika had drawn blood, and Yui had to get some back for the good of herself and her allies in Kutou.

Rika, however, was smiling. In some twisted way, she was enjoying this. After succumbing to Nakago before, she had enough pent up rage to want it purged. This was her chance. It wasn't Nakago himself, but Yui was the next best thing.

Izzy finally stood up. This was turning into more than two lost tempers: the two girls were really trying to hurt each other. "Hey! That's enough!" Unfortunately, the situation had left Izzy's control. In fact, by now, several other patrons of the facility had crowded around the two to watch.

The fight spilled over, literally, when the couch tipped over, sending Rika and Yui spilling out onto the floor. Before they could get their senses back and resume the fight, Izzy jumped over the couch and grabbed Yui, separating her from Rika. Takato and Henry, having noticed the commotion, forced their way through the crowd and restrained the fiery redhead.

"Yui... just... calm down. She didn't mean anything," Izzy said. Yui forced herself out of Izzy's grasp and turned to face him. Her nose was bleeding severely, and her left eye was swelling- certain to be black in a matter of hours. She didn't say a word to him, choosing instead to march off towards her room. Izzy sighed, and turned to Rika, still being restrained by her fellow Tamers. "Rika... she's been helping me through all this. I..."

Rika was still angry. Besides a few scratches here and there and a bruise caused by the couch tipping over, she was fine. "Don't you dare take her side. She is..."

Izzy slowly tried to reason with her. "I know who she is Rika. But you have to understand that..."

Rika was having none of it. "I don't have to understand anything! What's gotten into you?!" Rika was at a loss for words. Takato and Henry let her go, but she didn't move. "Yui?! Yui?! God Izzy, next thing you're going to do is tell me you're taking her last name when you get married!!" She stormed off in the opposite direction as Yui.

"Rika... hold on!" Takato shouted, chasing after her. Izzy simply returned to his chair, slumping down in it, and clutching his head. He knew there was going to be a problem with his association with Yui. He just never expected it to be this.

Beeda Facility- 1st Floor Hallway- 7:30 PM

Tai knocked on Matt's door. It didn't matter how long it would take; it was now imperative that he make it inside. "Matt! I know you're in there! It isn't funny this time! We need to talk about this now!"

Fortunately, Tai had better luck this time, and Matt opened the door. He had cleaned up a little since the last time Tai saw him, but Matt's expression was the same blank stare. "Can I come in, please?"  Tai asked.

Matt shook his head and allowed Tai access. Tai closed the door behind him and continued, "Look, we need to do something and we need to do it now. If we don't stop this game by three o'clock tomorrow afternoon, one of us is going to die! That's bad enough. But even worse is that we're the only two digi-destined left!" Tai looked at his watch. "We have less than twenty hours before we're supposed to kill each other." Matt didn't react at all. "Matt?" Tai was growing frustrated. "Matt! Don't tell me you aren't worried about this!!"

"Jeri..." Matt said slowly, almost obsessively, "...Katou."

Tai threw his hands in the air. "Give me a break! It's a girl who's even more scared of all this than we are! Do you expect her to kill herself just because you want Sora alive? Didn't you ever consider the fact that Jeri has people that love her just as much as you loved Sora?"

Matt snapped back. "Didn't you ever realize the fact that Sora is dead?? She is not coming back! Neither is TK, neither is Kari, neither is anybody else! Has it sunk in yet?" Tai turned away, and sat down while Matt continued, "After Sora died, the least you could do is feel bad about it! But you had to feel sorry for poor little Jeri, who had to suffer through murdering our friend. It's like you didn't care about Sora at all!"

"Matt, you had no idea how bad I felt about Sora. I almost lost it too." Tai was still facing away from Matt, but his temper had died down and he was speaking from the heart. "I just saw Jeri there and... you know I guess I realized that there was a price of winning too." Tai raised his voice slightly. "But don't ever say that I don't care about Sora! You have no idea how much I cared about Sora! Christ, Matt, you know I was in love with her too!!" Tai immediately fell silent. He probably shouldn't have said that in front of her boyfriend.

Tai decided against turning around to see Matt's reaction. He just shook his head and gave Matt the same rationale Tai himself used to calm himself down. "It's not like it matters now anyway, but I loved her too. She just... she just chose you. I should have just gotten it over with and kissed her when we got off that fucking Survivor island." Tai stood up and started towards the exit, finally mustering up the courage to turn around to see Matt. He was standing, but his expression was no different than when Tai entered the room. "Look, I don't know. I'm going to take a walk to calm down. I'm getting too worked up about all this. I guess there's no sense dwelling on the past." Matt silently walked Tai to the door. Tai opened the door and stepped outside, turning one more time towards Matt. "But we have to talk about stopping Shougai. We're running out of time. I'll come back in an hour. Okay?"

"See you tomorrow," Matt muttered before slamming the door shut.

Moore Facility- 2nd Floor Hallway- 8:00 PM

Rika got a good lecture from Takato, a good cheer from Davis (who apparently wasn’t a fan of Yui either), and a good meal from the cafeteria. She headed towards Room 203, ready to call it a night. She heard another figure climbing up the stairwell and entering the otherwise empty hallway. She recognized the headband immediately. Suboshi was holding a bag of ice. Rika smiled. "Her little flunky is still fetching ice; I guess I socked her pretty good," she said under her breath.

Unfortunately, Suboshi heard parts of it. It didn't matter what he heard- he recognized her from the telecast that afternoon. He walked up to Rika. Rika immediately lost her smile and frantically tried to put her key in the door to her room. Suboshi swiped it away before she could open it, forcing her to backpedal down the hallway.

He was menacing, but Rika knew she had to stay firm. "You don't scare me. You can't do anything. You're just... you're just a little guard-dog. You don't scare me."

Suboshi continued to force Rika down the hall. "I knew Izzy was dangerous. He and you shouldn't be within fifty feet of the Priestess," he said.

"Well we are, so deal with it."

Suboshi had Rika backed up to the far wall, and stopped. "Yui gave me a direct order not to touch Izzy. And as unfortunate as it is, I am forced to oblige."

Rika remained bold. "Well go cry to your mommy."

"My mother's dead!" Suboshi spat, "As I was saying... it's unfortunate that I'm not to touch Izzy." Suboshi leaned in closer and held Rika's chin with his free hand. "But she said nothing about you." Suboshi let go of her chin, grabbed her neck, and threw her into a cul-de-sac in the hallway. The back of Rika's head collided with the wall, and she fell to the ground. The prior chokehold left her unable to scream for help as Suboshi closed in on her.

End Chapter Eleven


Author's Notes
To all you Ranma fans- yes those lollipop things Shampoo uses are called bonburies. I looked it up.

In one of the few acknowledgements of the American side of Animation Survivor, the speech in italics before the Kari/Sakura scene was provided by Bubbles of the Powerpuff Girls. Of all the characters to get an appropriate snippet from... who would of thought?

Lina Inverse is the main character from the anime “Slayers,” and is known for her diminutive chest. Fast Fact- two of her traveling companions, Amelia and Gourry, have the same English voice actors as Ash and Brock, so the comparison to Misty may be more accurate than Manny thought.

It may be something of an inside joke- but in order to understand the "cigarette" scene between Artie and Mike, remember that this story can be interpreted as an allegory about fanfiction and/or a symbolical piece about the reality biz. Key word is "and."

Yet another inside Evangelion reference, but since it's a joke that Eva fans would get immediately, and a line that non-Eva fans wouldn't notice at all, I won't delve into it. Although on the subject of Eva- it only makes sense for Rika and Yui to not like each other. I mean after all- everybody says that Rika's a clone of Asuka. And everybody knows that Rei's a clone of Yui! *rimshot*

Chapter Twelve- For My Beloved
History has a strange way of repeating itself. When a loved one is wronged, drastic action must be taken. When leadership comes in question, it must evolve or be destroyed. When a team can’t continue at full power, sacrifices must be made. And when a rebellion seeks to tear evil apart, they must be cautious not to tear themselves apart in the process.

Current "Shougai" Standings