Grim Reality

Chapter Fourteen- Atonement

Day Six
Beeda Facility- Lounge- 6:50 PM

“You do have to have a sick mind to do this job.”

He kissed her. The bastard kissed her.

It used to be about a playful misunderstanding. A boy and a girl flirting with each other, neither even thinking about anything remotely serious. Until he kissed her.

It used to be about a heated argument. Two opposite viewpoints in a futile effort to convince the other. Stubbornness prevailed. Until he kissed her.

It used to be about a backroom deal. In exchange for her safety, she would covertly assist the powers that be in preserving the status quo. Until he kissed her.

“I never thought it could be wrong to do whatever it takes to stay alive.” Misty was hardly utilitarian. Everybody else be damned- she was given her opportunity to stay alive, and she was making full use of it. Betraying the Alliance would be a bad idea. But Tai’s efforts to knock some sense into her were at least giving her second thoughts.

She wasn’t alone in the lounge. Tenchi was there. He seemed to have few qualms about any of this. He seemed content grumbling his way through until he could claim the prize and leave.

“Of course he’s content, he actually has a shot at winning,” she thought. She herself didn’t have much of a chance at winning on her own. Between Sakura’s magic, Akane’s martial arts prowess, and the Digimon that Rika and Jeri had, Poliwhirl wasn’t going to be enough. That’s what it was all about. She wasn’t likely to win, but perhaps she could be a feasible underdog if given the right angle in production. The production was all that really mattered- none of her opponents would be around to cry “fix.”

She felt a vibration in the right pocket of her jeans. Quickly, she popped around a corner inconspicuously. After making sure that nobody was looking, she pulled out a small cellular phone- her only lifeline.

“Yes?” She answered it, covering up any of her thoughts of dissatisfaction.

Naturally, it was Manny. It always was. “We have a security breach. I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to need you to do. But I have this funny feeling that I’ll need you for something. You have the key?” Manny kept his voice down, as if somebody else was in the room with him.

“Yes,” she answered. A universal key that could open any room in the Beeda Facility. A good mole had good gadgets.

“Okay. I’ll keep you posted. If he makes his move, I’ll call you. Then run.”

Misty gulped. “Right, Mr. Edwards.”

The conversation ended. Misty continued to clutch the phone in her palm. She was nervous. Whatever was going on seemed important. If she failed, it may jeopardize the deal.

“Of course… if I fail, everybody might get to go home.” The thought flashed in her mind briefly. Maybe Tai really was planning something to stop the game.

The phone vibrated again. Misty answered again. “Room 112- keep Matt from answering the door. You don’t have much time, hurry!” Manny was again keeping his voice down, but his sense of urgency couldn’t be mistaken.

“Right.” She quickly stashed the phone away and ran down the hall. She wasn’t about to be caught off guard weighing her options. She flew to the hall, jammed the key into the door of room 112, entered, and shut the door behind her.

She sighed. That was the easy part. Now she needed an excuse for barging in on somebody (especially considering that it was one of the halls for the boys).

“The hell?” He was on the opposite end of the room. He sounded startled, but wasn’t loud.

Unfortunately, Misty still remembered the voice. It was Matt… the same Matt whom she met back on that island those years ago. The same Matt who fought with her over the most insignificant things. The same Matt whom Misty was able to eliminate by rallying the forces against him. This was going to be ugly…

For a second, she lost her composure. She fell to her knees. She had just dove in way over her head. How was she going to get out of this without revealing her identity?

“What the hell?” Matt was disheveled, and obviously wasn’t happy to see her.

“Great,” she thought, “Not only did I walk into the room of one of my old enemies, but he just lost his girlfriend and I look like I’m ready to collapse and start bawling.” She looked up at him. He didn’t look all that angry. Through his layers of sadness, he was simply confused. “That’s it…” It was the only option. She was going to have to bite the bullet…

She flew into his arms and started crying. It would have been the perfect mole ploy for sympathy… if only the tears were fake.

Matt didn’t react. He merely stared off into space.

“Matt… please… I need to talk to somebody… anybody,” she said through her tears.

Matt sighed, and led her into the room. Just then, there was a knock at the door. Matt ignored it; he already had his hands full. After a few seconds of intense pounding, the knocking fell silent.

They sat down on the couch. “Well… start talking,” he said, still apathetic.

“I can’t do this anymore. This is too much for me. I really thought that I’d be able to do what I was supposed to, and somehow stay alive in the end. But I can’t.” It was a half-truth. She was serious about everything, but made sure that she didn’t spill her secret.

“That’s it?” He didn’t look at her. He merely stared straight ahead at nothing, “That’s nothing. You weren’t there. You weren’t right next to her… you didn’t see what that monster did to her.”

“That’s exactly what I mean. How can we live with ourselves after…”

Matt interrupted, “Live with ourselves? How can we live without the people we care about? Who cares how many times we win? The losses are too much.”

“Exactly. I’m hurting people to save myself.”

Matt shook his head. “What makes you any different? What makes you think that I’m supposed to care? After everything that I went through, why the hell should I even bother listening? If we can just barge into somebody’s room and expect them to make everything better, then I would have done that hours ago. You’re no different than the rest of us. I have enough problems. I don’t need yours.”

Misty looked down at her knees, shaking tremendously, and put her hands on them, hoping to steady them. She was tired of living this lie. She had to confess her sin to somebody.

“I’m… I’m a mole,” she whispered.

He heard it, as he looked over with curiosity. “Huh?”

“In… in exchange for my safety, I have to help the Alliance keep everything in order and spice things up.” She let her tears flow freely and continued, ‘I know it’s wrong, but I feel so trapped. If I give up, then I’m in danger, but if I keep doing it, more people will be hurt.”

He stood abruptly, shaking his head. “Whatever…”

“Shh…” she hushed him, keeping her voice down, “There’s a microphone in here. I don’t think they’re listening to us but we shouldn’t take chances.” Misty asked Manny not to be constantly intruding on her, and obliged so far as to leave a camera out of her room for the first two rounds. Therefore, he probably wasn’t listening in, especially since he was probably dealing with the “security breach” that brought her there to begin with.


“Camera too. It’s in the mirror above the bathroom door.”

Matt stared at the camera, before saying, “I don’t know… I don’t see what you want from me and I can’t do anything right now. Just…”

Misty stood. “Okay. Promise me you won’t tell anybody what I told you.”

He nodded, “I’ll uh… talk to you later. Maybe when I get my head back together.”

“Thanks.” She let herself out. The talk helped a little, but the problem was still overwhelming.

Day Eleven
Beeda Facility- Room 213- 1:30 PM

The room had been unoccupied since the third day, when Yolei made her departure. The odds of them having a camera on her were virtually nil, and even if they did, it would have been long gone by the time Misty used her key to allow she and Matt access.

“There’s no way they can hear us in here,” she said.

Matt shut the door behind him. “Good.” Lost for a subject, he asked, “Are you okay? I mean, I don’t know how you feel about Ash but…”

“It hurts. I mean, I don’t like him the way you like Sora but… it’s just more proof that I’ve been wrong this whole time.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself. I probably would have agreed to the same thing. I mean, yeah we’re losing our friends, but everybody’s selfish sometimes. It’s guaranteed survival.”

“That’s another thing,” Misty shook her head, “It wasn’t guaranteed. I don’t think that Manny was really serious about fixing it.”

“How do you know?”

“If Manny really fixed it so I’d win, someone forgot to tell Kodachi Kuno.” Misty rubbed her stomach, “I’m still sore from that match.”

Matt sat down. “So what now?”

Misty stared at the ground. “There’s nothing left now. I’ve done horrible… unforgivable things. I can hardly live with myself anymore.”

Matt put a hand on her shoulder. “Misty. I know that we’ve both done some bad things, but if we can stop this game… maybe we can make up for them.”

She stood, shrugging the shoulder off. “Nothing can make up for what I’ve done, Matt! I killed your brother… with hot chocolate!”

“Hot chocolate?”

“Manny asked me to stir things up between our shows. I bumped into TK and started arguing with him. One thing led to another and… it was just so easy.”

“TK…” Matt snapped himself out of a brief trance. “Well, Akane says that they bring everybody back to life. Me, I don’t know, but it’s one thing to hang on to.”

“Well… that’s some relief. But the point remains, how are we supposed to make up for everything we’ve done?”

“Simple… stop Shougai.”

“Stop Shougai? Are you kidding? Do you know how powerful they are? They’re getting away with all of this. Even if they are bringing everybody back, to be able to successfully put on a show like this is insane. I don’t think there’s any way to stop it.”

Matt nodded. He couldn’t argue, especially since he himself didn’t know how it was to be done either. “We have to at least try. I’ll tell Tenchi you want to help. Is that all right?”

Misty took a deep breath. “Yeah. But what if Manny calls on me again?”

Matt smiled. “Agree to it. The best way to stop being a double-crosser… is to be a triple-crosser.”

Moore Facility- Lounge- 1:30 PM

“Hey… Miaka, right?” Izzy walked up to the brunette in the lounge, sitting with Tamahome.

“Yeah,” Miaka replied, turning away from Tamahome for a second.

Izzy took a seat. “My name’s Izzy, can I talk to you?”

“Sure. About what?”

“I need to talk to you about Yui.”

Upon hearing the name, Tamahome stood up and said, “I gotta run. Um… shooting pool with Henry. See ya.”

“Tamahome!” Miaka tried to summon him back, but he was gone.

“Miaka, I’ve been talking to Yui, and she told me what happened.” Izzy paused. Miaka was no longer cheery, frowning at the memory of the incident. “And she has… well she has a good argument. I want to hear your side of the story.”

“I didn’t know!” she cried. “I didn’t know she was pulled into the book. When I got back home, I tried to find her but couldn’t. I was so worried.”

“And you went back into the book?”

“I went in to find Yui. But I went back to Konan… and Tamahome.”

Izzy nodded. “Okay… I believe you.”

“I feel so bad for what happened to her. I really do.”

Again, Izzy nodded. Things were finally starting to come together. “Thanks Miaka. This has been most informative.”

“Maybe for you… but it doesn’t help me much.”

Izzy smiled. “I wouldn’t be too sure. You’ll be surprised what people are capable of sometimes.”

2nd Floor Hallway- 1:30 PM

Tai knocked on the door to Room 215. While he waited, he surveyed the area to his left. A section was still marked off with police tape. The carpet was still stained with red splotches.

“Shit…” he muttered. Whatever had happened, it was a shame he missed it.

Yui answered the door, and her face shifted to an expression of annoyance at the sight of Tai. “This better be good.”

“Hi, Yui? I, uh, I’ve been trying to figure out what the heck’s been going on with Izzy, but I can’t find him. Everybody I asked said you’re the one to talk to.”

“Is that so?” she said, hardly overjoyed at his appearance.

“Yeah. See I think I kinda pissed him off last night. But I don’t know why. I mean, Kari filled me in on what happened to him, but I don’t know why he’d be mad at me.”

Yui stepped out into the hallway, closing the door behind her. “Well, he did seem a little angry today. I think he was pretty set on getting your help in stopping that game or something. Seemed a little disappointed if you ask me.”

Tai shook his head. “That’s what I can’t figure out. I mean, we wanted to stop this and all, but I don’t understand why he’d be mad just because I was with Sora.”

Yui raised an eyebrow. “Sora?”

“Yeah. And frankly it’s none of your business what she and I do in private.”

“You mean… Izzy wanted your help and all you could think about was spending time with this Sora girl?” Yui folded her arms.

“Well… is that so bad?”

Yui stepped forward, forcing him to backpedal. She tried to get in his face. “Don’t you get it? You betrayed him. He went through hell, and you just want to be with Sora. You don’t care about him at all.”

“But… but… but…” Tai was on the defensive, until a revelation came over him. “I’m so Miaka to you right now, aren’t I?”

Yui stopped. “Yes. And don’t expect to be forgiven either.”

“That’s what I thought… hold on…” Having only seen a few episodes during the slumber party, Tai wasn’t much of an expert on the situation, but he knew someone that was. He knocked on the door for Room 209.

It didn’t take long for Kari to answer. “Hi, Tai, what do you…”

Tai whispered in Kari’s ear. “You’re the Fushigi Yuugi otaku in the family, help me out.”

Meanwhile, Yui crossed her arms. She was growing impatient, especially since Tai and Kari were carrying on a conversation that was virtually inaudible to her. Yui managed to catch little snippets, like when Tai said “oh yeah, that sucks…” or Kari’s response of “and because of that…”

The conversation continued for a good thirty seconds. Yui stubbornly waited it out. Tai brought up another point. “But wait… didn’t the old lady say that the priestess needed to be…” It was all Yui could hear before Tai trailed off. Kari whispered something Yui couldn’t hear at all, prompting Tai to nod in understanding. “Yeah, that sounds like Nakago,” Yui picked up.

“What sounds like Nakago?” Yui said.

Tai turned towards Yui. “Can’t say. It’s a spoiler.” He walked up to Yui. “But right now, we need to go downstairs. There are some people we both need to talk to.”

“I refuse to…” Yui resisted.

“Too bad.” Tai took her by the arm and led her to the staircase. Yui eventually relented.

Kari followed them. Whatever Tai was up to, it was something worth checking out.

Lounge- 1:45 PM

Miaka and Izzy were still in the same corner of the lounge when Tai arrived with Yui and Kari still in tow. Izzy stood on sight as Tai walked up to them. “Tai, what are you doing with her?” Izzy asked.

“Fixing something that really needs to be fixed,” Tai responded. He turned to Yui, “Please sit down.”

Yui and Miaka stared each other down. “Where?” Yui asked.

“Up to you." Yui glared at Tai for a moment before choosing a chair on the other side of the corner from Miaka. They were only ten feet apart, but at least Yui didn’t have to look at her to see what Tai and Izzy were up to.

Izzy was skeptical. “I’m sure that your theory on what really needs to be fixed differs from mine.”

Tai knew what Izzy was getting at and addressed the subject first. “Look, Izzy, you have to try to be a little realistic here. The odds of us being able to get back at these guys are like… slim to none.”

“Even so, we have to try. I am not going to just sit here and let…”

“I know. And you’re right. We have to try something. But you have to understand how unlikely it is to succeed. If we want to do this, we have to be careful and develop a plan.” Kari was hanging on Tai’s every word, and found herself a chair.

“Tai, what were you doing with Sora?” Izzy asked.

Tai sighed before answering with staggered speech. “We were… discussing… certain… elements… in our… relationship.”

“Oh…” Miaka nodded in what seemed to be understanding. “You were making out?” Tai, Izzy, and Kari stared at Miaka. Yui merely scoffed and continued to look away.

“Miaka…” Kari began to reprimand Miaka, before Tai held a hand up.

“Pretty much,” Tai admitted. Now, all eyes were on him. Rather than confessing, he moved on, “But the point is…”

Izzy interrupted, “Tai… that’s not like you. You know that Matt’s going to…”

“Izzy, I’ll deal with Matt when he gets here. But look, I just wanted you to understand that I had to talk with Sora. I won’t go into what else we did, but talking was the idea. I wasn’t in a position to drop everything and start working on some futile revolution with you.”

“You just slammed the door in my face. I thought you just gave up all hope. I don’t know what to think now.”

“Look, I’m sorry. Can we just forget about this now?”

Izzy thought about it for a moment, then smiled. “Of course.” He extended a hand, which Tai shook.

After a few solemn moments, Tai turned to Yui and Miaka. “Now really, is that so difficult?”

Yui folded her arms and said, “I don’t know why you’re forgiving him so easily.”

Izzy frowned at Yui. “Because we’re friends. I’m sure he didn’t piss me off intentionally,” he replied.

“Yui…” Miaka started, meekly, “I feel awful about what happened to you. You have no idea how much it hurt me when…”

“How much it hurt you?” Yui snapped back at her former best friend, “But you had Tamahome to kiss you and make you feel better, didn’t you? You weren’t there. You didn’t experience what I did. Izzy at least went through something similar. You… you have no idea how much it hurts.”

As the heartbroken Miaka looked away, Kari watched on. Davis happened to hear Yui’s uproar, and approached Kari.

He whispered to Kari, “Hey, what’s going…”

“Shh… it’s getting good.” Kari shushed him as Davis took a seat next to her.

In the meantime, Izzy sat down next to Yui. “Yui. I know that Miaka probably doesn’t understand what you’re going through. But that doesn’t mean that she can’t care about you. She may not be able to empathize… but I know that she sympathizes.”

Yui slowly fell into tears. Izzy took her hand. She responded by falling into his arms. “It’s not fair,” she cried, “It’s not fair. We both got taken in together. How is it that she ends up falling in love… while I end up falling into hell?”

As Izzy comforted Yui, Tai stepped in from the sidelines. “Yui, I know it sucks. And we all wish it never happened. But you can’t just wish that something bad happened to someone else instead. What you went through… nobody deserves that. Definitely not you, and definitely not Miaka.” Tai paused for a moment, then continued, “I guess what I’m trying to say is that you can’t ask for all the bad to go to your friends… while all the good goes to yourself.” Tai glanced downward. He realized that had been guilty of Yui’s sentiments as well. He too wanted the good for himself instead of his friend. But that was a matter for a different time.

“Tai’s right,” Izzy continued, still with a hand rubbing the back of Yui’s head. “The important thing is to have those friends to share the experiences with. The good and the bad.”

Miaka too was nearly in tears. She walked up to Yui and Izzy. “Yui… please… I just want the chance to talk about this. There’s no reason we should be taking things this far. If we can just talk about it, I’m sure we can be best friends again in no time.”

Yui turned her head towards Miaka. Through her tears, she could see Miaka’s face. Clearly, it wasn’t one of arrogance. She wasn’t bragging. She wasn’t going on and on about how great Tamahome was. Miaka was showing her concern. She was trying to reach out. As much as Yui tried, there was no way she could deny it any longer- Miaka was still trying to be a friend.

“Miaka...” Yui whispered, before standing and hugging her, still crying. Izzy sighed in relief at the sight of the two girls, finally and truly reunited.

Kari was trying to hold back her own tears at the sight of the love-fest. As a result, she was nearly suffocating Davis with her two arms wrapped tightly around his torso. “I can’t believe it… they did it. They actually did it,” she said quietly, shaking Davis all the while.

Davis was being shaken too hard to reply, but his smile carried similar thoughts.

Tai stepped back for a moment. He didn’t want to disturb either of the two as they continued to embrace. Izzy stepped carefully around them and walked up to Tai, smiling the whole time. Tai, however, was somewhat concerned. “Izzy, should we really be meddling in the affairs of other shows like this?”

“Tai, we could be changing the course of their lives. Changing the course of their history… the history of two feuding nations.” Izzy looked back. “If it’s for the better… then I see no problems.”

Kari walked up to them, still sticking close to Davis. “Wow. That’s impressive. I didn’t think you two had it in you.”

Tai smiled. “No kidding. Now… on to something else…” he turned to Izzy. “About this futile revolution of ours. Now that I’ve had a day to think about it… it may be futile but we wouldn’t be living up to our title if we didn’t at least try something.”

“Now that’s what I want to hear,” Izzy said with a smile.

“Kari? Davis? Are you still in?”

“Always look forward to a chance to raise a little hell against evil madmen,” Davis replied.

Kari nodded. “As long as you don’t need to annex my room again.”

“Hey, if you’re going to bring the place down, I want in.” Yui approached them, with Miaka nearby, “Those AA people really got on my nerves. And knowing them, they’ll throw me right back in the same hellhole. I’m ready to go home.”

“So, you’re not mad at me, Yui?” Miaka wanted to make sure.

Yui turned back to Miaka, “Well, I’m ready to talk about it. I think I might even let you have Tamahome.”

Miaka immediately perked up. “Really?”

Yui nodded. “Yeah. I think I’ll take somebody who really cares.”

Without warning, she took Izzy’s hand, causing the digi-destined’s cheek to match the color of his hair. Miaka and Kari both smiled as Izzy strained to recover.

“Uh… anyway…” Izzy stumbled, “Tai, what’s the first move?”

Tai’s smile slowly dissipated as he began to talk business. “Well, the problem is that we don’t really have any idea how to stop this. We need to figure out some weakness. Basically… we need info.”

“So how do we get that?” Yui asked, still clenching Izzy’s palm.

“Well, we may need to deal with some pretty eccentric characters if we want to pull this off. First thing’s first:” He paused and pointed at Izzy. “Izzy- get Yolei.”

Beeda Facility- Room 303- 1:45 PM

"Who could it be that said you had a charming smile?”

Nuriko wasn’t expecting any company. After all, he was the only one left from his group. He already did his interview with Manny. Needless to say, he was quite surprised to hear a knock at his door. He was even more surprised to discover that it was Tenchi Masaki doing the knocking.

“Hello Nuriko. Can I talk to…?” Tenchi stopped after seeing Nuriko’s eyes, scanning him from top to bottom. Nuriko smiled. Tenchi squirmed.

“Sure.” Nuriko continued to eye him as Tenchi stepped inside. Nuriko closed the door.

Tenchi was a little uncomfortable, but got down to business. “Nuriko, how do you feel about Shougai?”

Nuriko sat down. “Do you want the same BS I told Manny or my real thoughts?”

“Real thoughts, please.”

Nuriko thought about it for a second. “Well, it’s a rough ride, that’s for sure. It’s a little strange. I mean, I definitely want to win. There’s a lot riding on it. But at the same time, I feel a little… you know… guilty.”


“You know… guilty. These kids I’ve been going up against- Cody and Davis. They’re helpless against me. I mean, I’m supposed to go in and kill them. It’s almost too easy.”

“So you don’t like the game because there’s no challenge?”

Nuriko shook his head before clarifying, “No… it’s because these kids have no reason to be here. They’re being killed off without any realistic chance to defend themselves. It’s awful.”

“Yes it is,” Tenchi said with a smile, “The question is… do you want to help stop it?”

Nuriko chuckled. “You have a nice smile.” Tenchi reeled back for a moment as Nuriko continued, “But stopping the game? You mean like violent revolution against these Alliance guys?”

Tenchi put a hand up. “Well hopefully it won’t come to that. Although some of us are ready to do just about anything.”

“Violent revolution sounds kind of fun. However, with the loss of Hotohori, this wish they’re offering could be my country’s last hope. I swore not to let him down.”

Tenchi leaned over and whispered quietly. “There may be hope of getting Hotohori back. But I can’t tell you any more unless you promise to help.”

Nuriko stared into Tenchi’s eyes. He had seen the dead return to life before. It was unusual, but not impossible. Still, it was a leap of faith. One that he wasn’t willing to make at the time. “I’ll… have to think about it,” he said.

Tenchi stood. “Okay, thank you. Just remember that we could use all the help we can get.”

Nuriko escorted Tenchi to the door. He got one more look at the Jurian prince. Nuriko smiled once more. “I can see why you have all the ladies chasing after you.”

Tenchi gulped. “Uh… thanks… I think,” he managed before Nuriko closed the door.

Kohler Complex- Main Office- 2:30 PM

Tom headed to the office while carrying a phone conversation with Manny. “Look, you can’t worry about it too much.” Manny seemed confident when he talked to Matt, Tenchi, and Akane as they discussed bringing an end to the game. In reality, he was quite nervous about it all. As Tom paused to hear Manny’s reply, he spotted Kari walking towards him. He continued, “Because… they’d have to…”

“Tom?” Kari asked as sweetly as possible.

Tom returned to the phone. “Look, I’ll have to talk to you later. Just don’t worry. Nothing’s going to happen. I’ll call you as soon as I get back to the office.”

He returned to phone to his back pocket. “What do you need, Kari?”

Kari retained her innocent look. “I think the VCR is broken in the lounge, can you have a look at it?”

“You’re asking the wrong person. I’m not the biggest technology whiz here.”

“Can you at least take a look? Maybe it’s something really simple that I overlooked.”

Tom shook his head. “Fine, fine,” he relented, “Let’s go.”

As Kari led Tom away from the office, three others approached it.

“Okay, we’re clear Yolei,” Izzy said, while watching Kari and Tom leave the area for good. Again, Yolei worked the lock.

“You do remember what happened last time I did this, right?” Yolei asked.

“Uh, yeah. It’s hard to forget.”

“Just making sure,” she muttered as she forced the door open.

“Don’t worry,” Tai said as he entered the room, “We’re not using the e-mail program this time.”

Davis positioned himself at the end of the hallway as Izzy, Yui and Tai entered, “Yeah, we’re not that stupid. We’re snooping through his office to see if we can find anything.”

Yui turned to Yolei. “You don’t have to be here if you’re afraid of being caught. You’ve fulfilled your purpose.”

Yolei looked at the three gentlemen and the priestess. “If it’s all the same to you, I think I am going to get out of here. I don’t feel like tempting fate another time,” she said with some apprehension.

Tai smiled and put a hand on her shoulder. “Yolei, it’s alright. Yui’s right, you did your job. If you want to take off and leave us to do ours, it’s okay.”

“Thanks Tai,” she replied before walking off.

Davis continued to keep an eye out for Tom. “Let’s just hope Kari can do her job.”

Lounge- 2:36 PM

Tom took another look at the cassette deck. “Nope… I don’t see anything wrong.”

Kari had her hands on her hips. “Huh. It was all fuzzy when I tried it a couple minutes ago.”

Tom returned the VCR to its proper position. “Well, if we wanted to make sure, you’d have to have Henry look at it. I have to get back to the office, so…”

She stepped in front of him. “Which Henry? Your assistant or the Tamer?”

“Probably either one would work.” He was slowly becoming annoyed. “If there’s nothing else…”

“Actually…” It didn’t take long for Kari to think of something. “You said you had the old series on tape, right?”


“Well, I was looking for the Survivor series.”

He walked over to the cabinet next to the television and opened it. “Right in here.” He was definitely annoyed now.

“I mean the second one. You know, the one I was in?”

Tom stared at Kari for a few seconds. He was starting to grow suspicious. “Why the heck would you want to see that one?”

Kari twiddled her thumbs. “Well, you know, it was such a fun experience. I’d love to be able to relive it. You know, I was just one vote away from winning, that’s pretty close. I want to see if I can pinpoint what I did wrong.” She managed a smile through her mumbling.

“Well, I just checked. That one’s in there too.”

“But it’s just the recap. I want to see the whole thing,” she pouted.

“We never produced the whole thing. We only did the recap. And considering that Artie was in charge, that’s probably a good thing.” Tom finally eluded Kari, and started back towards the office. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some business to take care of.”

Room 110- 2:40 PM

With Davis on the lookout, they made their escape without incident. Tai, Izzy, and Yui left the office as it was when they had arrived, and easily snuck away to Tai’s room on the first floor. Miaka was waiting for them.

“How’d it go?” she asked as Izzy shut the door behind them.

“About as good as we could hope,” Tai said, “We figured out the plans for the next three days, the schedule for which rat bastard is working where, and a few proposals from a few networks.”

“Is that good?”

Tai shook his head, “Unless it helps to know that Misty and Jeri fight tomorrow at noon, Dave Wenzler’s got the day off, and that ABC wants to put Shougai up against Survivor on Thursday nights… not really.”

“Fortunately, I have something that may be more helpful,” Yui said somewhat smugly as she reached under her shirt and pulled out a laminated sheet of paper.

“What’s that?” asked Izzy.

“Contact information. Addresses and phone numbers for all the six heads. It’s not something we can just look at you know.”

“You stole it? Great, now they’ll definitely get suspicious,” Tai said as he took the sheet and glanced at it, “Well, if we had access to a phone and a clue where the hell we were…”

“Actually, Tai, I can help with that.” Tai looked over at Izzy, his face turning into one of near disgust as Izzy too had something tucked under his shirt. Izzy threw it on the bed. “Found this city map. I think it’s a safe implication that it’s the one we’re in.”

Yui went over to the map, glanced at it, and smiled. “Implication? You’re far too pessimistic.” She looked at Izzy, “I’d say entailment.”

Tai frowned, and looked at Miaka. “Don’t worry, Miaka, I’m as lost as you.”

Before Miaka could nod in agreement, they heard a knock. Miaka swiftly approached the door. “Who is it?” she asked without opening it.

“The turkey is lying with the pig,” said the unmistakable male voice on the other end.

Miaka opened the door. “Don’t do that… you’re making me hungry.” Davis and Kari both smiled as Miaka allowed them passage into the room before shutting the door behind them.

Kari saw Yui and Izzy scanning a map. “So what’s the story?” Kari asked.

Izzy explained, “Well, Kari, we found this map that we believe to be the city we’re in right now. We’re trying to figure out where we are.”

After thinking for a second, Davis spoke up, “1380 Crawford Street.”

All eyes turned to him. “What?” Tai was bewildered.

“1380 Crawford Street. That’s our address.”

Miaka rejoined the conversation. “How do you know?”

“Because. That police officer asked if this was the place. You know, the one that dropped in after yo-yo boy killed Rika.” Davis saw Yui and Izzy, glaring at him angrily. “What?”

“Yo-yo boy?” Yui folded her arms, obviously not happy about the way Suboshi was referred to.

“And for the record, Rika’s not dead.” Izzy too had his arms folded. “That’s another thing I saw in the office; she’s apparently still on life support at some Mercy Hospital downtown.”

Kari addressed Davis while approaching the duo with the map. “Are you sure that was the address?” She helped Davis out of the sticky situation.

“I think that was it. TK was with me if we need to double-check,” he replied.

“Well, here’s Crawford Street on the outskirts.” Kari pointed to the map. “Now the only problem is finding out where Matt and the others are.”

Meanwhile, Yui rubbed her fingers against her chin before checking her contact sheet. She smiled. “Aha… I knew that name sounded familiar. Look here- Dave Wenzler…  1503 Crawford.”

“That’s only a couple blocks away,” Izzy observed, “Prodigious…”

“Not prodigious yet Izzy… we have to find a way to use this information before it becomes prodigious.”

Tai looked towards the door leading out to the hallway. “Well, we bugged the room. Let’s hope that helps.”

“Bugged?” Miaka said, to Tai, “Bugged as in electronics?”

“No… bugged as in small, annoying creatures.” Tai smiled and shook Miaka’s hair. “You’ll see.”

Main Office- 2:45 PM

“Manny, Manny, Manny… I’ll telling you there’s nothing to worry about.” Tom was back on the phone with Manny, trying to quell his fears. “Look, it doesn’t matter that they’re working together because in two days Tenchi and Matt are going to kill each other.”

“But what if they try something before then?” Manny wasn’t giving in so easily. He was more scared of the possibility for uprising than he was willing to let on.

“It doesn’t matter. They can’t go home unless we tell them to. Where are your keys?”

Manny paused for a minute. “You mean, those keys?”

“No, the keys to your Mercury!” Tom replied sarcastically, “Of course those keys! They’re not getting home in the company mini-van for crying out loud.”

“Yeah, I got them in my pocket. Always have.”

“Good. That’s a good spot for them. So you’ve got Misty and Sakura in your pocket.”

“Misty and Sakura are the last ones I’m worried about, Tom.”

Tom took his own keychain out of his pocket and found the red key Henry Andersen handed him way at the beginning of everything. “Well, I’ve got my key too; that’s Ranma and Akane. And Barb, Mike, Artie, and Dave have the other four covered. So as long as we all hang on to our keys, they aren’t going anywhere.”

As Tom listened to Manny, he never noticed the two sets of eyes watching him from below. The two looked at each other and nodded, before returning to Tom to eavesdrop further.

“First off, Barb’s not losing her key. We’re not losing our keys. Nobody’s losing their keys,” Tom continued to reassure Manny.

“But what if they do?!” Manny was almost paranoid at this point.

“Look, if it makes you feel any better, call Tim and see if he can set it up so that the control panel only works if all the keys are activated. I’m sure he can do that.”

That seemed to work. “And that way, all the keys have to be in for it to work...”


Manny calmed down significantly. “That works. That works very well. All for one, one for all, I like the sound of that. Thanks a bunch, Tom.”

“Yeah, yeah…” Tom hung the phone up. “Idiot,” he muttered as he left the office. “Three more days,” he reassured himself. Three more days and it would all be over…

The door slammed shut. That was the cue for the two to crawl out of their hiding space under a table behind the desk. One of them, a white kitten, bounded for the door. With a mighty leap, she reached the doorknob, but was unable to get her paws around it. She fell to the ground.

Undeterred, the cat meowed to her companion. The black piglet was smaller than the kitten, but seemed to understand. The piglet positioned himself under the door. The cat ran and leaped again, this time using the piglet as a platform. This time, she had better luck. She twisted her way around and managed to get the door opened. However, as soon as she landed, the door began to swing shut. The piglet ran through immediately, and the cat made her escape just before the door slammed shut once again.

Room 110- 2:48 PM

Yui stabbed a confident finger on the map. “Found it.”

Izzy went in for a closer look. “Kohler Athletic Complex,” he read, “Beeda’s right there as well.”

“But that’s on the other end of town,” remarked Davis, “How the heck are we going to get over there?”

The trains of thought were interrupted by another sound at the door. A scratching.

“What’s that?” Miaka stood.

Tai headed for the door. “Another Miko,” he stated as he went to answer it.

Miaka was left confused. “Genbu or Byakko?” she asked.

Instead, the white kitten jumped into Tai’s arms. Tai carried it inside, closing the door with his foot. “Neither.”

Kari smiled at Miaka. “Miko’s the name of our cat.”

Davis smirked. “Which is appropriate since they spoil her rotten,” he wisecracked, “I swear that cat eats more than Kari does.”

While Miaka pulled Davis into a headlock and flipped him over the couch, Tai turned to Kari. “Kari, get some warm water from the sink.”

“Sure thing.” Kari went into the bathroom.

After Miaka finished beating the shit out of Davis, she walked up to Tai and started petting the cat, “Cute kitty. Can we name her Tama-chan?”

“Uh… no,” Tai replied as Kari returned with a glass. “Okay Kari… I’m not sure how exactly this works so if I just hold her like this…” Tai held the confused kitten straight out as Kari doused the cat with water. In a flash, she reverted back to her normal form, and wrapped her arms tightly around Tai.

“Nihao!” Shampoo exclaimed with delight.

“Waughh!!” Miaka screamed and dove behind the couch.

“Don’t worry, Miaka. She won’t hurt you this time,” Tai said, trying to comfort the priestess.

“No more rock-paper-scissors?” She peeked over the couch.

Shampoo stared at Miaka. “Shampoo already fulfill Amazon law and kill you. To do so again be overkill!”

Izzy walked up to Shampoo, still attached to Tai. “How the heck did you get Shampoo to help you, anyway?”

Tai rubbed the back of his neck and explained, “It’s a funny story. See I was second for her match against Jeri and Leomon. Well, it turns out, Amazon law interprets the match to be three opponents that defeated her. Therefore, not only is she entitled to kill Jeri Katou…”

Shampoo snuggled up against Tai’s neck. “Wo da airen,” she purred.

“…she’s also engaged to marry you,” Izzy said with a sweatdrop.

“And Leomon, interestingly enough,” Tai concluded, “Good thing she has a cat form.”

“Aren’t you just misusing an unusual rule for our benefit?”

Shampoo remained close to Tai, while Tai did nothing to stop her. “Like you said, if it’s for the better, then I see no problems.” He gently released himself from Shampoo, “Shampoo, did you learn anything?”

“Aiya! Keys is key to go home,” Shampoo answered… sort of.

“Come again?”

“All AA person have key. Keys send home.”

Izzy shrugged. “I guess we have to get the keys from all the different AA people.”

“How the heck are we supposed to do that?” asked Kari.

“Wait…” Shampoo looked around, “Where Ryoga?”

Recreation Area- 2:50 PM

P-chan looked around. Just perfect… he got lost again. He was supposed to go with Shampoo to Room 110 on the first floor. Unfortunately, due to his flawed navigational skills, he ended up on the other end of the building. Worse still, he was in piglet form. Maybe if he was human, he could ask somebody for help. P-chan decided that he had to plea for help. Perhaps if he found some intellectual equals, they’d understand his plight. He quickly stood on two feet and clung to somebody’s leg. Of course, given his vantage point, he couldn’t see who it was.

“Jessie…” James shouted to his partner nearby, “There’s a pork chop on my leg.”

Jessie walked over to him. “Don’t just stand there then, eat it.”

P-chan squealed for mercy. James picked it up. “I don’t know… he’s kind of cute.”

“Well, we are getting enough food here. I guess we can let him go. What the heck is a pig doing here anyway?”

“Maybe he’s one of those transforming animals. You know, like the duck in that match we watched,” P-chan nodded and squealed in agreement. “Hey, he said yes!”

“You’re talking to a pig, James,” Jessie muttered.

“What? The twerps do it all the time.” He returned his attention to P-chan, “So what do we need to change you back? Water?” P-chan nodded again. “Jessie, get some water.”

“Hot or cold?”

P-chan continued to communicate with James, finally leading him on to the right answer. “Hot water, Jessie.”

Jessie shook her head and fetched the water while James continued to “talk” to P-chan. He took the piglet outside and set him on the ground. When Jessie returned, James took the water and dumped it on P-chan.

“I don’t know what you’re…” Jessie stopped when she saw the pig transform back into Ryoga. “Never mind.”

Ryoga turned to James, “Mister, I will never forget this. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to find Tom and steal his keys.”

“Excuse me?” After hearing the word “steal,” Jessie’s interest was suddenly perked. “Did you say steal?”

“Yeah. The only way we get to go home is if we can get Tom’s keys… or something like that.”

Jessie laughed, “Well, that sounds more up our alley. Come on James! We have some keys to nap!”

Ryoga and James followed Jessie as she searched for Tom. He was alone out in the courtyard, apparently taking a breather. “Well, there he is. Now what?” Ryoga asked. All Jessie and James did was smile.

Tom took a long sigh. He was finally able to enjoy a few minutes alone. Manny’s brief stint of paranoia was clearly unfounded. The first supposed “uprising” was dealt with as tactfully as it could have been- Izzy’s apparent suicide sunk everybody’s spirits down low enough to forget about taking an initiative. This second one was going to be no different. The alliance between Matt, Tenchi, and Akane had no knowledge of how they could stop the game. It also didn’t seem strong enough to do anything with the seeds of distrust already planted. It was a scare. That was all it was.

“Prepare for trouble!!” The voice of Jessie startled Tom. He looked around to try to spot her.

“And make it double!” Tom was expecting James to follow through with it. He finally spotted them off to the right.

“To protect the world from…”

“What do you two want?” Tom wasn’t about to sit there and let them finish their insipid motto.

“Keys, please!” James shouted.


“Yes!” Jessie retorted, “We’re here to steal your keys whether you like it or not.”

“Uh huh…” Tom was unfazed. He didn’t fear these two. “And how do you plan to get them?”

“If you aren’t willing to hand them over, then there’s only one way to settle this! A Pokémon battle!!” James spun around, reached for his belt, and began the wind up. That’s when he realized that his Pokémon were stashed away in some storage locker. Tom folded his arms as James returned to his standing position. “Never mind.”

Jessie used a more traditional technique. She grabbed Tom by the shirt collar and made a fist with her other hand. “Hand them over or I’ll make you hand them over!”

Tom remained calm. He still wasn’t afraid. “You and what army?”

“This army!” Ryoga shouted as he entered the fray. He stood next to James and held two fingers in the air. “Give us the keys or I have a ‘buksai tenketsu’ with your name on it.”

“Jeez…” Now Tom was starting to get worried. Team Rocket was one thing… Ryoga’s raw power was another. “What do you want with my keys, anyway?”

James joined Jessie right up in Tom’s face. “We have no idea!”

“Just hand them over and nobody gets hurt.”

Tom began to panic. These three were serious. Very serious. He began to weigh his options. He could sit there and hope Ryoga was bluffing. But that wasn’t likely to work. If he did hand them over, what were the odds that they knew what they could do with them? “Probably not much,” he thought. Whatever they were going to do, they were probably too stupid to do any damage.

“Okay…” Tom reached into his pocket and pulled them out. “Just make sure I get them back later, okay?” He handed them to James.

In a flash, the three were satisfied and gone. “Three more days…” Tom continued to mutter, making a mental note to corner James when he was alone to get them back.

Lounge- 2:55 PM

Ryoga spotted Shampoo, Tai, Izzy, and Yui seated in a corner. He yanked the keys from James.

“Hey!” James shouted. It didn’t deter Ryoga as he ran up to the foursome.

Shampoo stood. “There you is.”

“Sorry, I got lost,” Ryoga replied, without a hint of guilt.

“Don’t sweat it,” Tai said, “We have to figure out how to get…” He stopped when he saw them. Ryoga had a keychain in the palm of his hand. “Are those…” Tai couldn’t believe his eyes.

Ryoga smiled and tossed them to Tai. “Pretty good, huh?”

Izzy and Shampoo went in for a closer look. “That one.” Shampoo pointed out the red key. “That one send Ranma-airen home.”

Izzy turned back to Ryoga. “How on Earth did you get those?”

“Well, I didn’t do it alone. I had help.”

As if on cue, Jessie and James ran up to Ryoga. “Hey, Tom gave those to me!” James exclaimed.

Tai’s jaw dropped. “Hold on a minute… Ryoga, you got the keys from Tom… with help… from Team Rocket?”

James scoffed, “What? You say that as if it’s a surprise.”

“Guys, we better get out of here before Tom comes looking for them.” Yui said.

“Right…” Izzy said as he stood up, followed by Tai.

“Yui, get Miaka and meet back in my room. Izzy, get Davis and Kari.” They nodded in agreement and went to do their tasks as Tai motioned towards the hallway, “Ryoga, Jessie, James, thanks!” He shouted before running to the hallway. Before they realized it, they had already won their first battle. The war was officially on, and Tai had a lot of planning to do in a very short time.

End Chapter Fourteen


Author’s Notes
Well, two mysteries introduced last chapter… are suddenly closed. Remember that the idea of the mole was actually introduced in chapter nine and the keys were distributed all the way back in chapter two.

The idea of using Shampoo and Ryoga was only natural, but I hope the way I introduced the idea offered a pleasant surprise to you Ranma fans who were looking for their characters to get a little more face time. After the Digimon/Fushigi Yuugi fest for half the chapter, you hopefully didn’t see it coming. Although take it from me- never use grammar check in a chapter where Shampoo has several lines of dialogue. Grammar check no like Shampoo!

So why the heck did Ryoga and Team Rocket retrieve the first key? Because it’s high time they deserved to be given a hero’s role for once. You’ll see more next chapter when they set off to retrieve the others, including an unlikely volunteer to nab the key from Dave.

Hmm… interesting source for one of the italic quotes, huh?

Chapter Fifteen- When The Cat’s Away
With Tai in possession of the red key and Tenchi in possession of the gray key, the problem becomes communication between the two factions, especially since nobody in Beeda knows what the key is to be used for. Meanwhile, plans to capture the four remaining keys have begun. But with time of the essence, can Izzy afford to let his feelings get the best of him and take a lengthy detour?