Grim Reality

Chapter Twelve- For My Beloved 

Day Nine- Moore Facility- Lounge- 8:20 PM

After the scuffle, things had quieted down significantly. The couch had been returned to its original position, and Henry and Tracey were occupying it. Brock was seated in a nearby chair.

“It’s great seeing the group back together… or at least some of it,” Tracey observed.

“It’s a shame Kitsune and Washu aren’t here,” Brock added.

“I don’t know. This may be nice, but the ride over here isn’t that great. I wouldn’t have wished that on anybody,” Henry replied.

“It’s strange though- I still haven’t talked to Tamahome yet.” After Brock’s statement, the three looked towards the far corner of the lounge, where Tamahome and Miaka seemed very comfortable staring into each other’s eyes.

“Just let them go Brock.” Tracey’s comment was reinforced with Henry’s nodding. Tracey continued, “Besides, they’re Fushigi Yuugi. They’re a completely different group, you know?”

Henry leaned back in his chair. “Man, it does get boring after awhile.”

“No kidding. There’s no mercy for those exiting in the first round. Unless we’ve got people fighting or something- there’s nothing.”

“How’s Rika doing anyway, Henry?” Brock asked.

Henry laughed. “She’s fine. Don’t tell anybody, but I think she enjoyed it. I’m still not entirely sure why they were fighting though.”

“I think it was about Izzy somehow. I think tomorrow I’m going to talk to him… I should talk to him anyway.” Tracey smiled and looked to the ceiling. “Man, was I stupid!”

Brock smiled as well. “Izzy- the third wheel slayer.” The three enjoyed a hearty laugh at the comment.

Madison was silent as she entered the room. Still, she commanded a certain presence. Perhaps it was the comforting look on her face. Perhaps it was her track record in previous series. Then again, perhaps it was because she was walking right up to Henry. Even Tamahome and Miaka couldn’t resist watching the original Mole as she took Henry’s hands.

“Henry?” She was terribly calm.

Henry gulped slightly. He still wasn’t used to this. “Yes?”

“Come with me.” Still holding his hand, she led him away from the room and towards the stairs.

Tamahome and Brock couldn’t help but stare at each other. Brock smiled. “Now I really wish Kitsune was here!”

“Does she have a crush on him, or is he just always in the right place at the right time?” Tamahome asked.

Miaka was simply confused. “I take it this is something that happened after I got executed…”

“Miaka, everything happened after you got executed,” Tracey added, prompting Miaka to kick him in the face.

2nd Floor Hallway- 8:30 PM

Madison continued to hold Henry’s hand as she led him towards the end of the hallway. Henry could sense that something was wrong- Madison wasn't smiling. She stopped and looked down, taking a deep breath.

"What is it?"

Madison answered by pointing to the very end of the corridor. She looked away as she did so. By this time, she was frowning. Henry walked past her, eager to see what she was trying to show him.

"Holy..." Henry needed a few seconds to get over the immediate shock that came with the sight of Rika's battered body lying unconscious on the floor. He collapsed to his knees and immediately started checking for signs of life. "Rika! Rika!"

While checking on her, Henry urgently addressed Madison, "Madison- don't just stand there. Get Mr. Wenzler. Call an ambulance! Hurry!"

"Of course." Madison ran off.

"Rika... c'mon Rika... say something." Henry put two fingers to her neck. Despite the large bruise there, a faint pulse was distinctly present. At least she was still alive. But with bruises everywhere on her face and arms, and blood streaming out of her mouth, nose, and the back of her head, Henry couldn't help but wonder if she was going to be alive for much longer.

"Rika, hang in there, Madison's going to get help." Henry could only pray that Madison would come through.

Main Office- 8:32 PM

"Stick with what we've got, Tom. I mean, Artie wants to rush through this and get it over with, but a day off isn't terrible idea," Dave said over the phone, completely oblivious to anything outside, "After tomorrow, we'll have four boys and four girls. If we take day eleven off, then not only do they get a chance to rest- but we get a chance to rest too. I don't know about you, but I think I speak for everybody involved when I say a day off from the matches would be nice. Then we can hit the semis on twelve and thirteen, the finals on fourteen, and get on to post-production."

Dave heard the knock on the door. "Aw, jeez... somebody's at the door. Hang on..."

He opened the door, and Madison immediately grabbed his hand. "Mr. Wenzler, something happened to Rika upstairs; you need to go over there. We need to call an ambulance."

Dave frowned. "Hold on, hold on, what are you talking about?"

"You have to go up there; it's an emergency."

"Fine, fine..." Dave returned his attention to the phone for a second. "Hey Tom, Madison says I have to go check something out. I'll talk to you later tonight."

After hanging up the phone, Dave stood up. "This better be good," he mumbled. As he headed for the stairs, Madison looked back into the office. Dave was already going to check on Rika, but Madison knew that every minute counted. She went over to the phone and pushed three keys on the pad.

A few seconds later, a female voice responded. "911, do you have an emergency?"

2nd Floor Hallway- 8:35 PM

Dave was no more capable of helping Rika than Henry was. He did the only thing he knew how to. He called Tom on his cell phone.

“First thing’s first- get somebody who knows first aid.” Tom was calm, mostly due to the fact that he wasn’t actually there.

“Who the hell knows first aid in here?”

“Um… try Joe. I think he’s trying to be a doctor or something. He’s in 316.”

“Okay, okay… hold on.”

Fortunately, Yolei was heading back to her room. Dave yelled, “Yolei! Get Joe! He’s upstairs in 316. Step on it!”

“Why?” Yolei looked perplexed.

Henry popped out from behind Dave. “Just do it!”

As soon as Yolei saw the blood on Henry’s hands, she urgently followed the order.

Dave returned to the phone. “Now what?”

“Okay, Dave, whenever we do a series like this, we always make a contract with a hospital for such emergencies. They’ll take care of this and keep everything nice and quiet.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah. How do you think we got Izzy’s shoulder fixed in Vegas? I’m going to let you go and look up the number.”

“Can’t I just call 911?”

“No!” Tom screamed, “Look, if somebody did this to Rika, we’re going to have cops all over the place. We have to keep this as quiet as possible. The hospital won’t ask questions, so I need to find that number. I’ll call you back in a minute.”

Dave closed the phone and turned to Henry. “Henry, Joe’s going to be coming. Just let him do whatever until we can call an ambulance.

Henry stood up. “Okay.” He was very quiet. “Who… who did this?”

Dave spoke quickly. “I don’t know. We’ll sort everything out. You’d better go wash your hands.”

As Dave led Henry to the nearby bathroom, Madison stopped both of them. “Excuse me- that’s the girls’ bathroom. You can wash up in my room.”

“Thank you.” Henry was still quiet. He was still trying to face the reality of the situation.

Madison opened her door and let Henry inside. “What took you so long?” Dave had suddenly realized that he left the office door open. Madison wasn’t right behind him, and considering what happened last time a contestant had access to the office, feared the consequences.

“Oh. I called 911. An ambulance is on its way.” Madison smiled proudly at her initiative.

After Madison closed the door behind herself and Henry, Dave whipped out his phone again. After jabbing the redial button, Dave connected.

“Tom- we may have a problem.”

Lobby- 8:38 PM

“What do you think?” TK was peeking out the front window at the flashing lights and blaring sirens.

“I dunno… maybe they have the wrong address.” Davis was simultaneously attracted to and confused by the commotion.

“I’m coming, I’m coming, I’m coming…” TK and Davis turned towards Dave, hustling towards the door. “Shit, shit, shit, shit…” He was mumbling.

Davis smiled. “Do you really work for Disney?”

Dave ignored the comment, and repeatedly pushed a button near the front door. “C’mon, open, open, open.”

“What’s going on? Why’s there an ambulance here?” TK asked.

“Nothing that concerns you,” Dave replied as he unlocked the front door, allowing a staff of medical workers into the building, armed with a stretcher and first aid supplies, “She’s upstairs. There’s no elevator, so follow me.”

As they rushed towards the stairwell, TK and Davis immediately noted their urgency.

“Something’s up. Something’s definitely up,” Davis commented.

“Excuse me!” Davis and TK turned around to see another person entering. He was a police officer. “Where’s the victim?” he asked with a commanding, no-nonsense tone in his voice.

“What victim?” Davis and TK replied simultaneously.

“The assault victim. Don’t you know what’s going on? This is 1380 Crawford Street, right?”

Davis shrugged. None of the former contestants even knew what city they were in, much less the address.

“Um… the medics ran upstairs… so that would be my guess.” TK offered what little information he had.

“Thank you.” The officer headed for the stairs.

Room 216- 8:39 PM

Henry opened the bathroom door. Madison was seated on the bed. “Are you okay?” she asked. “You were in there awhile.”

“No, I’m not okay.” Henry was clearly upset, and with good reason. “Did you see her? I mean… what’s going on??”

Madison stood. “I don’t know either. I found her there, and immediately went to you. I knew you would know what to do.”

Henry huffed once, then started towards the exit. However, Madison was one step ahead of him, and grabbed his hand once more.

“Henry… hold on… calm down…”

“But! Rika’s…” Everything was starting to overwhelm Henry.

“I called the hospital. Everything’s going to be okay.” Madison led him over to the bed, and motioned for him to sit down. As they both did, Madison released her hand from his.

“I just… I just feel so helpless. I mean, she’s lying there like that and there’s nothing I can do to help her.

Madison returned her hand to the top of his and smiled. “You did all that you had to. I’m sure she’ll be fine.”

The logic must have worked somehow, as Henry slowly began to calm down. It was clear, however, that he was still personally affected. “Who could have done this?”

Madison didn’t answer. Instead she faced forward. “Go ahead. It’s okay.” She didn’t budge an inch. Not when he leant closer. Not when he put his head on her lap. And definitely not when he slowly started to cry. She simply smiled, put her hand on his head, and silently reassured him that everything would be all right.

Lounge- 8:43 PM

“I suppose it is kind of nice. For somebody to become independent, powerful, to go wherever life may take them. To be the best, rising above the others. And yet, if they were to ever need someone to turn to, if they ever needed somebody to be there for them… they can always go back to being a little sister. I’m starting to wish I had that luxury.”

Hey, clear the way!” Dave shouted as he led the procession down the stairs.

By now, almost everybody on the first two floors had heard the commotion and gathered around the medics as they carried the stretcher down. Rika was strapped down tight, but was not showing any signs of consciousness.

“Rika… hang in there.” Takato offered his words of support. He turned to Dave. “Mr. Wenzler, does Henry know?”

“Yeah, yeah… I guess Henry found her.” Dave glanced back at Rika, making sure she was in good care. “I think he’s still upstairs with Madison.”

“Hey- did anybody tell Izzy?” Kari raised the question, which drew murmurs from across the room.

The question was answered as Izzy flew down the stairs, with Yolei following close behind him. Izzy caught the stretcher as it was heading out the door. Unfortunately, that’s when Dave caught Izzy.

“Hold on… where are you going?” Dave continued to restrain Izzy as the medics loaded Rika into the ambulance.

“I’m going with her. W… what happened?”

“We’re not quite sure yet. We’ll get to the bottom of it. But you…” Dave paused to hold Izzy back further. “You still can’t leave the facility.”

As the ambulance closed its doors and began speeding off, Dave fixed his concentration on shutting the outer gate. That allowed Izzy to break free, but to no avail- the gate outside was closed and locked. All Izzy could do was put his hands up against the fence and watch as the ambulance roared towards the hospital, with sirens clearing the traffic on the way.


2nd Floor Hallway- 8:45 PM

With the gate safely secured, Dave could now concentrate on the next task at hand- cleaning the mess up. Unfortunately, he forgot about the police officer, already taking the initiative of marking up that end of the hallway with yellow tape. As soon as he saw Dave, he finished up and approached the AA head.

“Excuse me- are you the grown-up around here?”

Dave faked a smile. Hopefully this was one cop that wouldn’t ask too many questions. “Yeah. Dave Wenzler. Look, you don’t really need to…”

The officer interrupted. “Officer Wes McElroy- I’m with the city PD.”

“I see…” Dave grumbled.

“I’m not sure what kind of establishment this is here, but I have reason to believe that the culprit may still be inside. If it’s possible, I’d like the building sealed off.”

Dave smiled. “That won’t be a problem!”

Officer McElroy remained firm. “Good. I already have a few leads. Hopefully, we won’t have to resort to fingerprinting or DNA, but I’ve got enough of both.”

“Look, Officer, I know it seems a bit weird, but you actually don’t have to go through all that trouble. If you’ll come with me to my office, I’ll show you what I mean.”

The officer merely started back towards the crime scene. Dave followed for a second, until McElroy turned around abruptly. “Mr. Wenzler- We are dealing with the savage beating of a thirteen-year-old girl. I don’t know about you, but I think this is definitely something for the law to handle.”

Dave remained silent as McElroy looked over the scene. “It’s evident that the victim was forced back here by the attacker, where he proceeded to beat her… the only question is with what.” McElroy reached down and picked something off of the floor. Underneath it was a small wet patch in the carpet. “Interesting…”

“What is it?”

“It’s a bag…” McElroy continued as he put the bag inside a larger one. “Given the wet spot underneath it, I’d say it was full of ice.”


“That says a lot. It tells us that the attack wasn’t premeditated. The attacker may have had the ice, saw the victim, and abruptly decided to go after her.”

Dave looked back down the hall. He wasn’t staring at anything in particular. “I’ve never seen ice do that.”

“If utilized properly, it can be used as a weapon. Also- if aggressive enough, the attacker may have been able to commit injuries of that magnitude with his bare hands.” McElroy looked over at Dave. “The only questions are who, and why?”

“I haven’t the foggiest.” Dave shrugged.

At that moment, a nearby door opened. Henry quietly stepped out, and looked up at Dave and Officer McElroy. “Is Rika going to be okay?” he asked.

The Officer bent down on a knee and looked at Henry. “We aren’t sure. But you could help us. Do you know if she did anything today that could entice an attack like this?”

Henry thought for a second. “Well, she did get into a fight today.”

“Henry…” Dave began to reprimand Henry. He wanted to shush him completely, but didn’t want to make McElroy more suspicious than he already was. If Henry would have spilled the truth about Shougai, all sorts of hell would have broken loose.

“Go on,” McElroy reassured the Tamer.

“Yeah. She got into a fight with this girl named Yui. I’m not sure what it was about.”

“I never heard about this,” Dave commented.

McElroy addressed both Dave and Henry, “Is Yui capable of an attack like this, or does she know somebody close to her that perpetrate such an attack?”

Dave sighed. The pieces were slowly coming together. “She couldn’t do this, but she does know somebody who could. His name’s Suboshi. His room is upstairs.”

The officer thought for a moment, then smiled at his own deduction ability. “What was the outcome of the fight?”

Dave looked at Henry, who provided the answer. “Uh… well… if you were to ask me… I guess you could say Rika won. I think Yui had a black eye or something.”

“And is Yui’s room on this floor?” Dave nodded. “She probably needed some ice…” McElroy turned to Dave. “I’d like to speak with Suboshi, if you’d care to lead the way.”

There was no stopping this officer. He was going to get his man. Dave had no choice but to take him upstairs.

3rd Floor Hallway- 8:50 PM

Dave initially walked past Suboshi’s door, choosing instead to stop at one farther down the hall. He knocked on room 314.

“Is that his room?” Officer McElroy asked.

“No… this guy’s a black belt in karate.” Dave turned towards the officer. “You know- just in case. Suboshi’s in 305."

As Dave gave Tori Avalon a quick rundown on the situation, McElroy knocked on the door. Suboshi answered, with no look of guilt on his face.


“Excuse me. Are you Mr. Suboshi?”


“Have you had any encounters today with a young girl of about thirteen? She has red hair and a white shirt with a…”

Suboshi nodded. “Yes." he replied flatly, "She insulted my priestess. She had to be punished.”

Officer McElroy looked at Suboshi, somewhat surprised at his frank honesty. “Excuse me?”

“She insulted both the Shogun and the Priestess of Seiryuu. She had to be dealt with properly.”

“Do… you… confess to… punishing her?”

Suboshi nodded once more. “Of course. I must retaliate any attack committed on Yui.”

“Fair enough.”

Dave and Tori reached Officer McElroy just in time to see the handcuffs go on. “You’re under arrest for assault and battery. You have the right to remain silent…”

As McElroy read Suboshi his rights, Dave turned to Tori. “Uh… follow them down. Make sure Suboshi doesn’t cause any problems.” Tori nodded silently as Suboshi was forced downstairs. As soon as they were gone, Dave whipped out his cell phone.

“Tom… you’re not gonna believe this…”

Day Ten
Kohler Complex- Control Room- 10:00 AM

Tom was trying to stay awake as he screened the latest round of confessionals, looking for the most interesting quotes from the contestants. He was having little luck. When faced with such hardships, those still remaining in the game had surprisingly little to say.

“The fun never stops, huh?” Barb said as she entered. Tom didn't bother to look over.

“Morning,” he mumbled.

“Rough night?” She hung up her coat and poured herself a cup of coffee.

“You will not believe what happened at Moore last night.” Barb paused, allowing Tom to continue the story. “Rika got the shit beaten out of her.”

Barb took a swig of her coffee. “What do you mean?”

“Exactly what I said. They say Suboshi did it. I guess she got into a fight with Yui, and Suboshi took matters into his own hands.”

“That sounds like something Suboshi would do. How is she?”

Tom shook his head. “She’s in the hospital. Last I heard, she’s in serious condition. Life support and everything.”

Barb was concerned, but wasn’t incredibly emotional. “Wow. That’s awful.”

“It gets better. The cops got involved somehow. When they found out Suboshi did it, they arrested him. He spent last night in jail.”

“Wait a minute- how do you know about all this? Wasn’t Dave at Moore last night?”

“Yeah. Dave told me about it. He did what he could at Moore, but I spent all last night talking to the police, trying to tell them what’s going on.”

Barb smiled. “I guess they’re a little suspicious that there aren’t any records of Suboshi’s existence here.”

“That’s putting it lightly. Anyway, records or not, Suboshi’s behind bars until we can post bail. Either way, he goes to trial next week.” Tom stopped, but restarted again immediately. “And that’s even more of a joke- how can you try somebody that doesn’t exist in this world for a crime committed against somebody else that doesn’t exist?!”

Abruptly, Barb started laughing. “This is hilarious! You know, with all these stupid reality series we’ve been doing, it’s a wonder something like this hasn’t come up before.”

“This isn’t funny, Barb. If they find out about Shougai, we’re looking at a mess of legal battles.”

Barb continued to smile. “Why? I thought you said Shougai was legal.”

Tom was firm. “It is legal, but do you know how much we’d have to spend to prove it? Not to mention the likelihood of appeals. We’d be looking at something that could go straight to the Supreme Court! There’s no precedent for all this! It’s a PR nightmare!”

Barb headed to her place in front of the cameras. “Well don’t bitch about it to me. I never wanted to do this to begin with.”

“Well, I’m sure it won’t be that bad. By next week we’ll be out of here anyway. Suboshi can stay locked up for all I care. When this thing’s over, he’s still gone as soon as Artie sticks his key into that transporter. The show’s not stopping because of this little incident.” Tom stopped and changed direction completely. “By the way, Tenchi stopped by. He wants to talk to you again.”

Barb eyed Tom carefully. He still wasn’t suspicious, even after her announcement.

“Okay. Thanks.”

Announcer’s Booth- 11:49 AM

Manny could just sit back and listen to Dave’s story in awe.

“Damn. Didn’t see that one coming. How’s she doing?”

“She’s on life support at the hospital.” Dave sighed, “Tom says if we keep her there and keep Suboshi locked up, we won’t have to deal with it anymore.”

“Still… damn.”

Henry Andersen walked past them, ready to start the show. “Okay, guys, I just got off the phone with Mike. Ranma is still a bit upset that he’s not facing Ryoga. Ryo, meanwhile, is disappointed that Rika lost, but is still gunning to win it himself. Mike wants me to embellish the whole Rika/Ryo thing, but I say fuck Rika and just talk about whatever the hell you want.”

Manny smiled. “There we go Dave. I agree wholeheartedly. Fuck Rika and talk about something else!”

Dave shook his head. “At least you didn’t say beat the crap out of her,” he mumbled.

“Eh, Akane took care of that.” The uninformed Henry pointed at the two announcers. “Three, two, one…”

Manny suddenly went into announcer mode. “When we last left off, Akane Tendo pulled off a huge win over Tamer Rika Nonaka. Today their seconds take over as Ranma Saotome looks to finish his fiancé’s work as he faces Ryo Akiyama.”

“And in the other matches, we’ll see the electric mouse face the light hawk when Ash Ketchum meets Tenchi Masaki.” Dave seemed to have no problems with what happened the previous night, and narrated the program as normal. “And of course two key intra-show match-ups in the form of Nuriko vs. Hotohori and Tai Kamiya against Matt Ishida.”

Arena- 12:03 PM

Ryo remained mounted on Cyberdramon as Ranma attacked. Cyberdramon wasn’t getting anything through Ranma’s tight defense, but at least Ryo would remain protected.

Tenshin Amaguriken!” Ranma yelled. Cyberdramon flew out of the way just in time to avoid Ranma’sinfamous “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” technique.

“Cool down Ranma!!” Ranma backed off, as per Akane’s orders. Cyberdramon safely landed in the middle of the ring, anxious to attack again.

“Don’t do anything rash, boy. Stay here.” Ryo told his Digimon. Cyberdramon was snarling, and Ryo had to make sure they didn’t do anything that would cost the both of them their lives.

Unfortunately, Cyberdramon didn’t feel like listening, and lunged after Ranma.

Ranma dodged, as Cyberdramon continued his relentless attack. “Whoa, boy!” Ryo tried to command it, but Cyberdramon persisted. Ranma consistently dodged, trying his best to keep his cool.

Akane saw the path Ranma was trying to lead Cyberdramon into.

It was a spiral.

As Ryo gave up and allowed Cyberdramon to continue his attack, Ranma drew them dangerously close to the center of the arena. It was almost time

“Ranma! That’s too dangerous!” Ranma ignored Akane’s cry. It was too late. Akane ran to the very edge of the arena, as far as she could get from Ranma, Cyberdramon, and the helpless Tamer riding on the Digimon. She took cover- this was going to get ugly.

Cyberdramon attempted one last punch, which was when Ranma finally threw a simple uppercut.

The resulting whirlwind brought the house down.

It was the “Hiryu Shoten Ha” technique. It was simple science- the combination of Ranma’s spiral, his cool aura, and Cyberdramon’s hot aura. The result was a massive tornado, also known as the “heavenly blast of the dragon.” By the time the smoke cleared, three bodies were on the arena floor. None of them were moving.

Artie Elker was unprepared for it, and was thrown into the far wall. When he finally got his bearings back, he could see Ranma in the center of the crater, dazed and confused. At least he was still alive.

“Holy moly, Artie… that did it. Ryo’s gone.” Tim was on the headset, giving Artie the clearing to end the match.

Artie dragged himself to his feet. He summed up the damage- it was nothing that couldn’t be fixed within the hour. He dusted himself off, and had only one thing to say.


Conference Room- 12:30 PM

“Well… what’s the report?” Barb checked her watch. She could only afford a few minutes with Tenchi.

Tenchi shook his head. “What’s the report? That would imply that I know what I’m supposed to be doing!”

“I take it the report’s not great.”

“Barb! You’re asking me to do the impossible. The least you could do is give me a push in the right direction.”

“Did you talk to Tai?”

“Yeah, I talked to Tai. He doesn’t have any ideas either. And frankly, he’s too busy worrying about his match with Matt to even think about putting an end to this.”

Barb smiled slightly. “Well… so I guess it’s hopeless. Oh well… good try.”

“That’s it?! You’re just going to… let this happen to everybody??”

“It sucks, I know, but you have to look at things from my standpoint. Yeah, sure, I don’t like what’s going on here. And sure Manny and Artie and them can be assholes sometimes. But I have to work with these assholes, and despite said assholes- I like my job. And I’d like to keep it, if it’s all the same to you.” Barb shrugged her shoulders. “Therefore, if you’re not going to be able to stop Shougai, Shougai will not be stopped. Simple as that.”

Tenchi could not contain his disappointment. “Barb, you can’t do this to me. You dragged me into this. You’ve got to help me get out of it.”

“No I don’t! Look- Tenchi, if you lose, nothing happens. If you win- you get whatever you want. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me. Even if you can’t stop the game, it’s hardly worth complaining if you leave even-handed anyway.”

“You know me Barb. I can’t let them get away with this. Unlike you, I don’t have to work with these assholes. Therefore, I want to stop them.”

“I want to stop them too, but we can’t have everything we want, now can we?”

Tenchi slammed his fist on a table. “Barb- I know I’ll be able to find a way if you’ll just tell me when to start!”

Barb gave him an incredulous look. “And risk my entire career? Do you honestly think I’d be willing to do that just because I feel sorry for all of you?”

“Sacrifices must be made in order for good to triumph.”

“Then ask someone else to make them, because I’m out.  Barb checked her watch. “If you really wanted to put an end to Shougai, the only thing stopping you is your lack of determination. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to the control room.”

Barb began to walk out. Tenchi remained. Just as she was about to leave, Tenchi yelled, “That’s okay,I have to get going too! I have a twelve-year-old to kill!”

Announcer’s Booth- 1:00 PM

Once again, they were discussing the next match. “So who do you like for this one?”

Manny took the intro and flew with it: “Well, I think it could go either way, Dave. Tenchi’s use of the LighthawkSword helped him easily dispose of his first two opponents, but there’s a little yellow mouse that might have something to say about that.”

“Agreed. After a decisive victory over Kazu Shioda, the Ash/Pikachu tandem won a very dramatic and emotional match against Gary Oak, without Ash having to lift a finger!”

“Some of you critics may harp on the agreement to use their Pokémon only in that battle, but rest assured that Ash earned that victory the hard way.”

“So it’s definitely anyone’s match here.”

“Probably so, although it’s very likely that the first shot may be the last shot. Expect this match to be short, and sweet.”

Tenchi struggled to get his mind off the conversation with Barb. Barb dragged him here, told him to do the impossible, and gave him no resources to do this. After his inevitable lack of progress, she calmly threw in the towel with no guilt whatsoever.

But now he was left to suffer because it.

Ash didn’t deserve it. Nobody here did. Tenchi had been performing the ethical balancing act the whole time, but never before did it seem so wrong. James and Kuno were innocent obstructions that had to give their lives so Tenchi could remain in the position to strike. But what was Ash, now that there was nothing to strike?

Pikachu- use Agility.” Ash didn’t sound inspired. He was as scared as everybody else. Tenchi wasn’t scared- he knew that this was all a hoax. But until everybody else found out, they’d continue to believe whatever the AA fed them.

Tenchi almost lost his concentration long enough to allow Pikachu to connect. As he dodged out of the way, Tenchi promised not to let himself do that again- he was in a match.

“Thunder Shock!”

There was no way Tenchi would have been able to dodge this attack. He held his sword out to receive the greater of the voltage. Instead of a painful electrocution, the lightning seemed to charge Tenchi up. His connection to the Lighthawk Sword did that. After all, he was part Jurian.

As Tenchi continued to spar with Pikachu, he contemplated whether or not this match was really worth winning. He didn’t want to experience the feeling of death and rebirth. He had been through that before- it wasn’t pleasant. He also wasn’t about to experiment on the differences between Tsunami’s method of revival and the AA’s.

There was plenty of motivation to not lose, but was there motivation to win? Tenchi didn’t have a reason to be in the game. He wasn’t here to have a good time and he wasn’t here to win. Tenchi just wished he could leave and forget that any of this ever happened.

Wish. Through Shougai, that was possible. There was only one condition.

Tenchi jumped out of the way of another attack and turned towards Ash, pulling his sword on him. He was at point-blank range, and there was no way Ash was going to escape.

The Jurian backed Ash up towards the outer ring. Tenchi did decide to calm Ash somewhat before the long ride down.

“Don’t worry- you’ll be back,” Tenchi whispered it, to ensure that it would remain inaudible to the mikes. The words didn’t cheer up Ash, and neither did Tenchi’s arms when they pushed Ash into the outer ring.

His job done, Tenchi turned towards his exit and left the arena, ignoring the shouting mob of spectators. Barb had turned her back to him, displaced him, and betrayed him. But as he recalled his final words to Ash, he realized that as untrustworthy as Barb was, he had always relied on her “inside information” about reviving the contestants. It was true that Barb betrayed Tenchi. But now Tenchi was starting to realize the awful possibility-

She also may have lied to him.

Contestant Seating Area- 2:00 PM

Jeri had been here for ten days. She had made a couple new friends, and unfortunately had made a couple new enemies. She had been on the grounds for ten days, and yet this was only the fifth time she had been inside the Kohler Complex. The first time was when she arrived- the convocation process that everyone had been subjected too. That event seemed like ages ago, especially since most of the forty-eight who were there had since passed on.

The second time she was in the building, she witnessed the deaths of Takato and Kenta. While her friend was stabbed through the heart, all she could do was watch from the sidelines. After Takato’s death, she didn’t enter the Kohler Complex for five days.

She was forced into it the third time. Her match with Sora Takenouchi was another painful memory. She brought so much pain to Matt, and Jeri didn’t blame him for not liking her. Although she met Tai, who helped her through the latter stages as her friends slowly fell to the game, it still wasn’t worth it.

Jeri needed Tai by her side for the fourth time. For some reason, she felt more comfortable having him in her corner than Rika. Rika was too pushy. Tai was outwardly sympathetic, and seemed to understand what she was going through. If not for him… she wouldn’t have been able to keep going.

Which brought her here today- the fifth time. She didn’t want to watch Ryo’s match. Knowing Ryo, it was going to be violent, bloody, and unquestionably brutal to watch. From the accounts she heard, her intuition was right. She also didn’t want to watch the second match. Except for the fact that it was Ash who had beaten Kazu, she knew nothing about either contestant. She wanted to keep it that way.

The final two matches were the ones she felt compelled to attend. With Ryo and Rika gone, Tai was now the only one she could turn to. She desperately hoped for him to remain alive, and for the first time since Takato’s death- she was willing to risk witnessing an awful sight in order to support him with her presence.

The undercard to it was also an event she wanted to witness. For one simple reason- Tai had once told her that he didn’t believe there were any real bad guys competing in this. Antagonizing other contestants didn’t help. Jeri was about to see Tai’s theory in action- Hotohori was thoroughly bandaged up as he entered the arena opposite his fellow seishi Nuriko.

The match had already begun. At least according to Artie’s signal. The problem was that neither of the competitors were doing anything.

Nuriko.” Hotohori finally summoned Nuriko towards the center.

He obliged. They trusted each other. Neither were going to do anything dishonorable.

Nuriko- I want you to continue,” Hotohori said.

Nuriko tried to avoid the statement. He knew what that entailed.


“I can’t continue in this state. You have the power to change everything. You can do this. I can’t carry on any longer.” Hotohori turned around and faced south. As far away as he was, he could still feel Suzaku’s presence. “You are Konan’s last hope. Take the wish and set everything right.”

Hotohori…” Nuriko forced a smile. “You know that I’d be… honored to carry out your wish. But… there’s still the problem of…” Nuriko looked around. The crowd was getting restless. They wanted blood.

Hotohori turned around. He held out his sword. “Take it. Use it. If I am an obstacle you must get past… I am an obstacle that must be overcome.”

Nuriko took the sword and unsheathed it. The sword had already claimed the lives of Takato and Julian. It was destined to claim one more casualty. Hotohori closed his eyes, waiting for the inevitable. Unfortunately, it was not to come. Nuriko dropped the sword on the ground.

Hotohori opened his eyes. Nuriko shook his head. “I can’t do it.”

“Why not?”

This was no laughing matter, but the irony forced a brief chuckle out of Nuriko. “Like you said once before, how can you kill somebody you love? Even if it is for the right purpose… even if they request it.”

Hotohori looked at the sword. “I’m sorry.” He bent down and picked it up. With a sigh, he said, “If I couldn’t kill Miaka, it’s unfair to ask you to kill me.”

“Damn right," Nuriko muttered.

Nuriko- I’ll take it from here. Good luck.”

Nuriko walked past Hotohori, not looking back as he continued on. He knew what was coming and didn’t want to witness it. He fought off an urge to cry as he walked towards the South Entrance. It was the one Hotohori had come through. And it was the one Nuriko would leave through. He bowed his head towards the direction of Suzaku as the Emperor of Konan plunged the sword into his stomach.

Reception Area- 2:30 PM

Matt was disturbingly calm. He had the match of a lifetime ahead of him, but he remained quiet and passive as the time approached. He talked to no one.

He sat down at a nearby couch to collect his thoughts. This was going to be more difficult than before. Unfortunately, he was not alone on the couch.

Misty was also stone-faced. She did not react initially when Matt sat down.

Misty was refusing to think of the past. Matt was refusing to think of the future. Nothing, it seemed, could phase either one of them. Except each other.

“How are you?” Matt asked, without so much of a glance at her.

Without warning, she put her head on his shoulder. She wasn’t crying, but it was clear that she was upset. Matt didn’t react at all. Except for the opposite hand, which reached over and patted her on the head, he didn’t move a muscle.

They didn’t need to share a word. They were both going through the same thing.

Tai could clearly see them. It was a puzzling scenario. After all, Matt and Misty hated each other. The question, of course, was whether or not to make his presence known. He wasn’t on good terms with either of them at the time. But he had half an hour before he was scheduled to go into battle with one of them, and had to say something.


Matt continued to ignore everything.

“Matt, we don’t have to do this,” Tai reiterated.

More silence. Neither Misty nor Matt was saying anything.

“Fine, then. If you’re so lost that you honestly are willing to kill me… then there’s nothing I can say to change your mind now. You’re just… going to have to kill me then.”

Tai walked towards the arena. Matt didn’t move at all for a few minutes. He and Misty were quietly consoling each other. Nothing more, and nothing less.

Finally, as the time came, Matt stood. Misty did as well.

“I guess I have to do this,” he stated it quite simply.

He headed towards his entrance.

“Matt.” He stopped as he heard Misty’s voice as she delivered her message-

“Do it for Sora.”

Moore Facility- 3:03 PM

Sora wasn’t watching. Only three of the digi-destined were willing to view the action. Several others had gathered to watch as well. Most were disappointed- one contestant had his heart set on winning the match; the other just didn’t seem to care.

Kari gave up on the match midway through. After watching her brother take the beating that he did, she spent the latter part of the match with her eyes buried in Davis’s shoulder.

After all he had been through, Izzy still found himself watching the action unfold. It was clear who was going to win. Somehow, Izzy remained unaffected by it. Perhaps it was inevitable.

All Davis could do was shake his head. He didn’t have to wait long for Tai to fall into the outer ring. He continued to console Kari, while he turned his attention to Izzy. “Well, that’s it then. So much for our little sleepover. Now the only one left is Jeri, and I doubt she’s going to be able to do anything.”

Davis and Kari stood. Kari was too depressed to talk. But Davis was still angry that the “good guys” were doomed to failure: “What sucks the most is that now, all the people that are left are just in it for that one stupid wish, and don’t care about who they have to kill, or who’s taking advantage of them. The worst part is that we can’t do anything from here. They win… it’s over.”

“No,” Izzy said. He’d been thinking about it for awhile. He had reached the conclusion he had wanted. Izzy bore the memory of being murdered, was partially responsible for the assault on Rika, and had just watched Matt heartlessly defeat Tai on the big-screen TV. Yet, his mouth curled into a smile.

“No, Davis… it’s just beginning.”

End Chapter Twelve

Author’s Notes
This is what I had planned for Suboshi to do to Rika the whole time. Some had expected a better outcome… and three people had expected something worse. I had reasons for not doing worse… although raping or murdering Rika is not any kind of stretch for Suboshi’s character (after all, he does at least attempt both in the series). Therefore, all I have to say to those who thought this was a bit overboard- Rika got off lucky. And to those who expected worse- Star, you’re a very bad girl!!

Trivial factoid: the address of 1380 Crawford Street is a combination of my parent’s address and my own address.

Although the Matt and Misty scene remains to be analyzed later, I’m not going to go any further with Henry and Madison. There’s a lot to be read into the scenes, at least with Madison’s side. But since the Henry/Tomoyo scenes in Mole 2 got such a fun reaction, I decided to revisit it briefly. The bit with him crying in her lap is inspired by the third season episode (IMO opinion, one of the really outstanding third season episodes) where Syaoran “dumps” Meiling, and she grieves at Tomoyo’s. Mmm…. Meiyo.

Is it me, or does Ranma need to use that “Hiryu Shoten Ha” technique more often? It’s just… cool.

Chapter Thirteen- The Price of Winning
Now that only eight remain in the game, sticking together becomes increasingly essential, and increasingly difficult. Akane begins to come around and realize the injustices of Shougai. But can she convince Ranma of the same? Meanwhile, Izzy looks to continue fighting the AA, and seeks Tai’s leadership. But when Tai is too busy dealing with Sora, will he be able to realize what’s truly more important? And with all this going on, an underlying truth is revealed… solving a mystery that never presented itself to begin with.

Current "Shougai" Standings