Grim Reality

Chapter Fifteen- When the Cat’s Away

Day Eleven- Moore Facility- Room 110- 3:15 PM

They had one key. That was good. But in order for everybody to get to go home, all seven keys would need to be retrieved. It was clear to all who were in Tai’s room- Yui, Davis, and Tai himself, what was needed to reach their goal. They needed to break out of the facility.

“How the heck do you find this stuff out?” Yui asked Davis.

“I just happen to be in the right place at the right time,” Davis replied confidently.

Besides their address, Davis’s presence at the front door when the police arrived also yielded another key discovery- the fence keeping everybody in was controlled by a panel near the front door. Kari had been sent down to investigate.

Meanwhile, Tai twirled Tom’s keys. “Hey guys, how much do you want to bet that if that panel needs some special access, we very well may have the key.”

Yui pointed at the keys, “Among other things. Judging by the size of that keychain, we’ve got office keys, house keys… maybe even car keys.”

“Well, we can give Tom a splitting headache, but it’s not like any of us can drive.”

“You sure?” Something about that statement seemed wrong to Davis.

“I don’t think any of us can drive. I know Joe can’t drive, and I’m pretty sure Tori and Julian can’t either. Yui, do you know anybody else that’s old enough?”

As Yui thought about her answer, there was a knock on the door. Davis answered the knock while Yui answered the question: “None that’s from any world that actually has cars.”

Tai smiled as Miaka entered the room. “Speaking of which, how were things with your seishi?”

Miaka frowned. “Not that good. Tamahome thinks it’s too dangerous and Hotohori wants to see if Nuriko can win so we get our wish.”

Davis shuddered. “Please do not speak of Nuriko while I’m here.”

Tai shook his head and said, “Please Davis, we’re not going to get anywhere if we let those petty differences get to us. Besides, I beat my seishi.”

“Your seishi walked off the edge on his own!”

“Oh yeah…”

Miaka interrupted Tai and Davis, “But Chichiri says he’s willing to help and Tasuki said he wouldn’t mind raising a little hell just for the hell of it.”

Tai analyzed the situation. “We don’t want to be violent or anything… but we may be able to use Chichiri. He can teleport right?”

“Well, for some reason he couldn’t teleport outside. Here or back where the game was played. He could only go from place to place inside.”

“Magic barrier,” Yui remarked, “Nakago loves to use it. These guys must be doing the same thing to make sure your seishi doesn’t try to escape.”

“What if we can get him outside the grounds?” Tai asked.

“Should be fine,” Yui said before a light snicker, “Man, I’m working with Suzaku seishi. This is definitely messed up.”

“Way I see it, things have straightened out.” Davis pointed out.

Tai continued, “Yeah. Maybe when you get home you can perhaps rethink what’s going on. Rewrite the book?”

Yui turned stone-faced for a minute. She scanned the eyes in the room- Davis and Tai first, before going up to meet Miaka’s eyes. After the pause, she said, “We’ll see.” She wasn’t about to make any serious concessions immediately.

Another knock at the door. This time, it was Kari and Izzy arriving simultaneously.

Izzy gave his report first: “Well, most of the other Digi-Destined are willing to help, although Yolei’s still a little nervous about it all and I didn’t talk to Sora. I talked to the Tamers and they seem interested. Let’s see… I also talked to Ash and Brock. They wouldn’t mind helping out either.”

“Wow… you certainly got around,” Tai responded, before turning to his sister, “Kari?”

Kari was busy staring at Izzy. His ability to sign people up for the effort was astounding, and her news paled in comparison. “Uh… yeah, there’s a panel and I think a key needs to be in it for it to work.”

Yui nodded. “So we have the key to get out here. Great. What’s our first move?”

“Nothing,” Tai said, “We have to keep an eye on Tom. As far as we know he still thinks Team Rocket has his keys. We can’t let him find out they’re in the hands of somebody who actually knows how to use them.”

“But we can get out of here, we have Miaka’s teleporting seishi on our side, and we know Dave lives right down the street. We have to do something!” Yui exclaimed.

“Yui, we know Dave lives down the street, but we don’t know that he’s actually going to be there.”

“Yeah we do. Didn’t you say he got the day off?” Izzy pointed.

Tai rubbed his chin. “Yeah. I did. Hm… how about we send some of our allies to talk to him?”

“Like who?”

“Well, Dave’s in charge of Tamers. Let’s get a couple of them.”

Davis wanted a clarification, “Now when you say talk to him, you mean get the key, right?” Tai smiled and nodded.

“Maybe we can also send Chichiri to the other facility!” Miaka blurted.

“I don’t know, that seems a little risky.”

“Dammit, Tai, we have to take a few risks now!” Davis stood, adamant, “We can’t sit down with our tail between our legs anymore!”

“Besides, Artie Elker is supervising Beeda, and I’m willing to bet that Barb, Manny, and Mike are over there too. Maybe Chichiri can get in contact with somebody over there and try to do something. We know Jeri’s on our side, but there’s bound to be more,” Izzy followed, more mellow in tone.

Tai stood up, “You guys are right. Let’s get this thing over with. I doubt Tom is going to miss a couple Tamers and Chichiri.” He began dictating orders: “Izzy- get our Tamers. Miaka- get our teleporter. Davis, Kari- get our Tom out of our way. Yui- let’s open the front door.” With a cry of enthusiasm, the six left the room to begin the next battle.

Recreation Area- 3:25 PM

“Follow the sun, follow the sun, we’re leaving the rain behind!!”

Madison smiled at James's singing. She had just thought of it- she brought the portable karaoke microphone she was testing for her Mom’s company. It was only recently that she thought of hooking it up in the recreation area so aspiring singers can wail their favorite songs.

“Together we’ll be, in harmony. Taking the time we will find our way!!!”

As James hit the high C note, Tom entered the room, to find the person he was looking for bopping along to the song.

“Sunshine! I feel the energy. I need sunshine! Pouring down on me now. Sunshine! Don’t you hide away. I want sunshine! Each and every day!”

Tom was almost ashamed of himself- this was one member of the trio that stole his keys. Fortunately, Jessie and Ryoga were nowhere in sight, so he could easily corner James after he was done belting the song.

“Thanks! That was fun!” James finished his song, handed the microphone back to Madison, and walked away.

Immediately, Yolei intercepted the microphone. “You got the theme song to Battle Athletes on there?”

James headed away from the stage, partially to avoid Yolei’s crooning. He was met by Tom. “Okay, where are my keys?” Tom said sternly.

“Oh, hello,” James replied.

“Spare the pleasantries, James, I need to get back in my office. Therefore, I need my keys to do that.”

James was annoyed. “Look, I don’t know what happened to them. My little piggy took them.”

“Your piggy? You mean Ryoga?”

“Yeah, Ryoga. Then he gave them to some twerps!”

Tom was starting to get worried. “Twerps? What kind of twerps?”

“Cool! Karaoke!” Tom looked behind and to his right and saw Davis and Kari entering.

“Not those twerps. Other twerps,” James clarified.

“Hey Tom, when did we get karaoke?” Davis walked up to Tom, wearing a big smile.

“Uh… actually, that’s a good question.” Now that Tom thought about it, it wasn’t something they had before.

“Well, we’d better try it out. How about a duet, Davis?” Kari smiled brightly.

“I have a better idea. Let’s hear Tom sing one!”

“Yeah!” James concurred.

“No!” Tom flatly rejected the offer.

“Come on, I bet you’re good!” Davis and Kari continued to coax Tom.

“Why the heck do you want me to…” The kids were persistent, pushing Tom towards Yolei and the microphone. “Are you trying to stall me or something?”

“Now why would we do that?” Davis and Kari said, almost simultaneously.

Yolei handed Tom the microphone. Tom frowned. Something was going on here…

Lobby- 3:25 PM

Tai found the right key and inserted it into the designated slot. Then he pushed the button as Takato checked outside.

“We’re good!” Takato said, forcing Tai to smile.

Izzy stepped in. “Not quite. We still need Henry. Where is he?”

“Henry said something about not being comfortable about handling this job.”

“Why wouldn’t he be comfortable?” Tai asked.

“Well, think about it. You’re asking us to go into somebody’s house and try to steal something without them noticing. Do you know how tricky that sounds?”

“I’ll admit that it would require some degree of sneaking around. But we have faith in you two,” Izzy said reassuringly.

“Well, Henry’s getting somebody who should be a little more experienced at this sort of thing.”

“Who the heck is more experienced at…” Tai’s query fell short. He and Izzy’s jaws dropped when they saw Tracey and Henry walking towards them.

“So basically, we need to go down the street to Dave’s place, and steal one of his keys without letting him find out?” Tracey made sure his briefing was accurate.

“Yep,” Henry replied, “Takato and I will cover the stealing. You deal with the not letting him find out.”

“Well, it’s definitely something different. But I don’t see why it wouldn’t be possible,” Tracey mused as he and Henry approached Tai and Izzy, both guarded.

“What the hell do you want?” Tai asked.

“Henry wants me to help steal some key. So I’ll be nice. Besides, I owe Takato one for stabbing him in the back in Mole. Also owe Izzy for forcing him to stab me in the back.”

“Do you honestly expect us to trust you?” Tai was hardly willing to accept this.

Izzy stepped in. “We don’t have time to argue. I trust Takato and Henry, and you’re definitely deceitful enough to pull this off. Takato has the address, and the gate’s open. Better get going before anybody notices you’re missing.”

Tai and Izzy both looked down as the three glided past the outside gate and down the street. “Are you sure about this Izzy?” Tai asked.

“Well, if anyone can do it, it’s him. I just hope he’s on our side this time.”

“Ready for duty no da!” Chichiri’s voice startled the two.

Izzy recovered first and turned to the seishi that had dropped in. “Excellent. Did Miaka fill you in?”

“Yep. I’ll find Nuriko first. I should be able to talk him into helping.”

Tai nodded. It was an acceptable plan. “Okay. Once you get past the gate, you should be able to use your magic. Just make sure to avoid the cameras when you get there. Good luck.” Chichiri “da’d” again and walked outside, passing the gate. As Tai, Izzy, and Miaka held their breath, Chichiri concentrated for a moment, then vanished.

“Well, here goes nothing,” Miaka said.

As soon as he was gone, Yui arrived. “Tom’s coming this way. Are they gone?”

“I guess so,” Izzy replied. A lot had happened in a short time. Suddenly they were relying on Tracey and some monk they knew very little about. “Let’s get out of here so Tom doesn’t get suspicious of us.”

“Right.” Tai closed the gate and the four ran back to headquarters.

Beeda Facility- Lounge- 3:30 PM

Chichiri was skilled at not being spotted. Therefore, he had no trouble staying as invisible as possible, and as silent as possible. His target was resting on the couch in the lounge. He quietly snuck behind the couch and ducked down. Even if the camera was on him, the couch’s shadow hid him well. Now it was only a matter of waking up Nuriko and getting him to a secret location.

“Psst… Nuriko,” he whispered loud enough for Nuriko to hear, but not loud enough for any microphone to pick up. It didn’t work. Not wanting to risk drawing any more attention, Chichiri resorted to the next logical thing…

Room 109- 3:32 PM


They all said his old room would be a safe hiding place…

Nuriko sat up. “What the hell?” When he last lost contact with the world, he was in the lounge. Now he was in somebody’s bedroom and somebody who sounded an awful lot like Chichiri was yelling at him.

“I’m back!” The kitsune-eyed monk popped up from behind the couch. And Nuriko screamed.

“Shh! You don’t want them to know we’re in here no da.” Chichiri put a hand to Nuriko’s mouth.

Nuriko forcibly removed the hand, but kept his voice down. “Hey, aren’t you supposed to be dead?”

“I’m supposed to be no da. It’s a long story. We’ll just say everybody’s still alive, including Miaka and Hotohori, no da.”

“Sure, I guess.” Tenchi had indicated that the dead may be able to rise again, but Nuriko was still baffled.

“Good. Now here’s the plan- Miaka says we’re supposed to find some weird colored keys from those AA guys no da.”

“Wait, wait… what?”

“We need these keys to get home.”

“Wait a minute…” Nuriko had made a connection, “You mean going home now? Before the game’s over?”

Chichiri smiled. “Yep. Miaka’s orders too. Now if you know anybody here that could help us out…”

“Holy moly…” Nuriko mused, “Tenchi was actually on to something.”

“Well, if you could go fetch Tenchi so I can fill him in on what’s going on over on the other side, we can start to do something no da.” Chichiri pulled out his room key and handed it to the bluenette, “We can’t let Miaka down no da!”

Nuriko looked at the key. It was almost a question of loyalty between Hotohori and Miaka. But if Hotohori was somehow alive somewhere, the tides had been turned.

“I guess not.”

Moore Facility- Room 110- 3:35 PM

As she looked at the keys closer, Yui couldn’t help but think of the negative ramifications of their actions. “Izzy?”

Izzy replied, not looking up from the map, “Yeah?”

“Will I ever see you again?”

This time, he looked up at her. “I don’t know.”

It was on his mind as well. Even without the unusual circumstances that brought them together, Yui was still someone whom Izzy came to care about very much. She was intelligent, pretty by his standards, and although somewhat cold, cold for the right reasons. Although he was hardly going to admit it to anybody but himself, Izzy was starting to fall in love with the girl. But if this plan succeeded, it was entirely possible that they’d be apart forever.

Being apart from Yui wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Sad perhaps, but nothing he wouldn’t recover from. It certainly wasn’t worth sacrificing everything for. But another departure was more troubling. With Yui, at least he’d have the opportunity to say goodbye.


Izzy stood and took the keys from Yui. He began to exit the room.

“Where are you going?” Tai had been silent throughout, but spoke up here.

Izzy paused for a moment, sighed, then turned to Tai. “I have to see Rika.”

“What? How?”

After looking through the keychain, Izzy found the key he wanted. “I’ll drive.”

Tai was seriously livid, “Wait… you’re going to steal Tom’s car?”

Yui stood. “Great, I’ll go with you.”

It was bad enough that Izzy was going to do something crazy. Now Yui was going to join him. Tai tried to think of ways to prevent Izzy from doing this, “First off, where did you learn how to drive?”

Izzy smiled. “Pokéball Run. Second episode, I believe.”

“Do you know where the hospital is?”

Izzy pointed to the map. “Tai, I’ve been staring at that map for so long it’s imbedded in my brain. I’ll find it. Especially if Yui’s coming along.”

Tai shook his head. Izzy was determined to see his little sister, and Tai couldn’t think of an excuse to keep him from going, “Okay. I think you’re insane, but fine. Just leave me the key to get outside, and the key to get the Nerima kids home. If Takato and Henry get Dave’s key, I want to keep them together.”

After searching for them, Izzy handed them over. “Deal. When we’re done, we’ll even pop over to see how Chichiri’s doing at Beeda.”

Tai smiled. “You really care about her, don’t you?”

Izzy returned the smile. “She’s my little sister. I don’t want my last vision of her to be her being carried off in a stretcher.”

“Maybe I shouldn’t go…” Yui said, now extremely hesitant. After all, it was her seishi that did the deed to his sister.

Instead of agreeing, Izzy took Yui’s hand. “You already spoke up. You’re going,” he said before turning to Tai, “Tai, could you let us out?”

Tai allowed the pair to exit first. He was still unsure about it all. Hopefully it wouldn’t have too much of an effect on the mission.

1503 Crawford Street- 3:35 PM

The three stood outside the house. A car was parked outside the garage and they could see lights from within. Somebody was definitely home.

“As soon as we have him distracted, start looking,” Tracey said to Takato.

“Check the obvious areas. End tables and stuff,” Henry added. They only had one shot at this; they couldn’t fail.

“Henry, make sure he’s not spotted. I’ll keep Dave as occupied as much as possible, but you have to make sure he doesn’t accidentally look Takato’s way.”


Tracey smiled. “Well, let’s save the day by annoying people.” He knocked. He and Henry stood in front. Takato wasn’t hiding, but it was crucial for him to remain quiet and inconspicuous while the other two provided the diversion.

The door opened. The three almost ran away as soon as they saw the thirtysomething brunette standing before them. She scrunched her forehead at the kids, then smiled.

“Are you here to see David?” she asked, very sweetly.

Takato, Henry, and Tracey looked at each other, unsure of how to answer. Finally, Tracey made the bold move of stepping inside and shaking her hand. “Yes, of course! Who might you be?”

“I’m his wife, Maggie,” she answered, still shaking Tracey’s hand, and still smiling. Maggie stepped aside to allow Takato and Henry passage. She turned towards the inside of the house. “David! We have company! I think it’s some kids from the office!”

Tracey continued to lead her on. “Yeah, we were in the neighborhood and thought we’d drop by.”

While Tracey made small talk with Maggie, Takato and Henry scanned the living room. It was a pretty nice suburban home. Small, quant, cozy… just a typical living room in a typical house.

“So let me guess… Kim Possible?”

“Excuse me?” Tracey looked over at Maggie.

“Is that what series you’re from? David’s been really proud of that one, you know.”

“Um… actually we’re from Digimon,” Henry answered.

After thinking for a second, Maggie smiled again. “That’s right, David’s doing Digimon instead of Michael. I keep forgetting about that.”

Tracey stepped in yet again, “Well, you see Mrs. Wenzler, I’m actually from Pokémon.”

Henry followed up with “Yeah. We’re just one big happy family!”

From the kitchen, Dave entered and immediately froze. The sight of three animated characters in his living room when they were supposed to be sequestered at Moore. It did not well bode well.

“Would you like some tea?” Maggie asked the visitors.

“Of course! Thanks for offering!” Tracey continued to remain in his suck-up mode.

Maggie turned to her husband. “David, pour some glasses of iced tea, okay?”

“Huh… uh… huh…” Dave was rendered speechless, and went back into the kitchen. Henry smiled at Tracey and followed him in.

“Need any help, Mr. Wenzler?” Henry was hardly as good at distracting as Tracey, but made his attempt anyway.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Dave lowered his voice so his wife wouldn’t hear.

“We just decided to drop by. Something wrong with that? It’s not like we’re going back to Beeda or anything.” Henry remained innocent.

Dave opened the refrigerator door and searched for the bottled tea inside. “Does Tom know you’re here?”

Henry laughed. “Does Tom know we’re here? What do you think?!” Naturally, Henry didn’t actually answer the question.

The AA head shook his head as he retrieved the tea and a few glasses from the cupboard. While he was facing the wall, Henry motioned towards Takato, who took the cue and ran down the hallway to search for the key. With help from Henry, Dave poured the tea into the glasses and carried them back into the room. Dave was still mighty suspicious, but was content with playing along, keeping his eyes open.

“So what series are you competing in this time?” Upon hearing Maggie ask Tracey the question, Dave almost dropped the cups.

“Uh… uh…” Dave fished for an answer. He didn’t want the kids letting out what they were really doing. His wife would go nuts. “Pokéball Run 2,” he finally answered.

Tracey smiled as he and Maggie took their glasses. Dave wasn’t too hard to rope in. All four found seats in the living room.

“You know, now that these reality series are brought up, I do remember you Tracey,” Maggie said, nodding in recollection, “How did you not see that Brock was the Mole? I had it figured out in episode five.”

Tracey shook his head and smiled. The subject did annoy him a little, but it was hardly the time to show it, “Well, I don’t know. It’s a hard game. And being there in real life and seeing it on television are two very different perspectives.”

“I had it figured out in episode five…” Henry was smug. He couldn’t resist poking a little fun at Tracey.

“Where’s Takato?” Dave was already suspicious, but the absence of one of the kids was even more troubling.

“He had to use the bathroom,” Tracey covered for his accomplice, adding, “This place is so well designed, he didn’t even need to ask for directions.”

“Thank you. David got a great deal on this house. But you know David almost lost his job because of Mole 2.” Maggie was treating this as a friendly chat. Dave was treating this as a full-scale nuclear threat. “Tell them about it Dave.” Maggie smiled.

Dave hesitated, then continued. There was no harm in keeping them occupied. “Well, yeah, you see ABC wasn’t too happy about the ratings for their Mole last fall, and they were really angry that we were using their concept to pull bigger ratings for a different network. Now I had nothing to do with the series, but because I answer to ABC, I’m the one they keep calling and making complaints to. I guess they tried to get me fired, but I don’t think anybody who actually had the power really considered it.”

“You guys get permission from the actual series to do these, right?” Tracey posed the question as if he was genuinely interested.

Dave shrugged it off. “Oh yeah… I mean I’m sure Manny and Adam got permission from Stone Stanley. We always get permission when we use the concept for a series. I hate to sound like Tom but this isn’t a fanfic, you know.”

Henry blinked. “What the heck’s a fanfic?”

From behind Dave and Maggie, Takato flashed a thumb’s up to Henry and Tracey. Henry acknowledged it, causing Dave to look around. “You were in there awhile, weren’t you?” Takato actually wasn’t, but Dave remained on his toes.

“Um…” Takato hesitated for a moment. Tracey and Henry weren’t going to be able to help him, so he’d have to be a little devious himself. “That cafeteria food, you know?”

“Oh…” Dave muttered. He had to admit that the food they served was far from gourmet dining, “Got it.”

Tracey and Henry stood simultaneously. Tracey set his glass on a conveniently located coffee table. “Well, you know we have to be going now. Tom’s going to start to miss us.”

Maggie continued to smile. “Right. I guess you still have to film that series. More racing ahead?”

The Pokémon watcher smiled. This was all too easy… “Yep. We have a big day of racing ahead of us, so we should get back to the Pit Stop and rest.” As the three started for the door, Tracey turned to Henry to add to the illusion, “We have to talk strategy. I still think we should go for the Fast Forward…”

“Nice meeting you!” Maggie returned.

“Yeah! You too!” Takato threw back as he closed the door behind him.

The three briskly took the same road back, pausing as soon as they knew they were out of view.

“Did you get it?” Henry asked.

Takato smiled and pulled a purple key out of his pocket. He found it on the key hook in Dave’s home office.

Main Street- 3:45 PM

The car sped down the street. All hell was breaking loose at Moore, and Tom needed backup.

“Why me?” Mike continually mumbled as he tried to reach the facility as quickly as he could without citation. He didn’t know much about the situation. All he knew was somebody had taken Tom’s keys. Manny didn’t tell Mike anything else from Tom’s distress call.

“Damn my luck...” Mike muttered as he pulled up to his third red light. He passively scanned the oncoming traffic and noticed a station wagon pull up on the other side. Its blinker was on, indicating a right turn. The car looked suspiciously like Tom’s.

Mike quickly pulled out his phone and speed-dialed Tom’s cellular.

“Tom, it’s Mike. Did you have that beat-up station wagon of yours at Moore today?”

“Yeah, why?”

“I’m heading over to Moore and I see it on the other side of the street!”

Tom’s concern was clearly audible. “You’re kidding me!”

“What should I do?”

“Well follow it! See who it is! You’re trying to help me get my keys back- if somebody stole my car, that’s who has them.”

“Right.” Mike flipped on his blinker. “I’ll call Manny and tell him the change of plans.” The light turned green, Tom’s car turned right, and Mike followed as soon as traffic cleared.

Kohler Complex- Reception Area- 3:48 PM

It was exactly as Tom had foretold- the kids would need to get a hold of all seven keys in order for them to stop the game. Right now, someone had stolen Tom’s keys. Manny had no idea if the eliminated contestants knew how to get home, but he wasn’t about to take chances. He himself had two keys- the yellow and pink keys that controlled Pokémon and Cardcaptors respectfully. But if he was going into the war zone after Mike’s detour, he figured that the keys would be better off hidden.

Nobody was around, so hopefully the hiding place would suffice. Manny was only content knowing that only he knew where they were. Nobody else- not Barb, not Artie, not even his mole would know. This was his secret, and his alone.

He stepped away and began to run out of the building. That was when he saw Artie heading into the building. For what seemed like the first time ever, Manny was actually glad to see the damn fool.

“Artie, I need to go to Moore. All sorts of crazy shit is going on down there,” Manny said urgently, “Tom’s missing his keys, and I’m worried that the kids’ll try to use them to get home.”

It didn’t seem like Artie took any of that in. “You want crazy shit Manny? There’s a couch missing in the lounge!”

Manny ignored it. “Whatever, you deal with it. Look, we have a real security problem right now. We’ve got kids in Beeda trying to bring the game down, and we’ve got kids at Moore that may have the means to do so.”

“Wait? They’re trying to bring Shougai down? Here?” Artie finally sounded concerned.

“Yeah. Do you still have your key? The one Andersen gave you?”

Artie nodded. “Oh yeah. Can’t lose a thing like that!”

“Good. Make sure the kids here don’t get a hold of it.”

Manny began to run off, until Artie stopped him. “Hold on! You mean they might try to steal it from me?!”

After turning around, Manny thought for a second before speaking again. “Yeah.” He scanned Artie’s face. Artie was now as worried as Manny was. “I’ll tell you what. Remember how I told you I’ve got a mole in here?” Manny waited for Artie to nod. “Okay. It’s Misty. I told her to join whoever is doing the planning and keep me updated. She hasn’t gotten back to me yet, but I still think we can trust her. Just keep that in mind. It might come in handy.”

Artie nodded again. “Misty’s on our side. Got it.” As Manny ran off towards his car, Artie turned back towards Beeda. He wasn’t going to be responsible for the end of Shougai, that was for sure.

Mercy Hospital- Lobby- 4:00 PM

Izzy and Yui walked up to the receptionist. “We need to find Rika Nonaka,” Izzy said. Yui was silently apprehensive at his side.

After a session on the computer, the receptionist stared at the screen before turning back to Izzy. “Okay… uh… how do you know her?” She sounded like she was treading along very carefully.

Izzy paused. This sounded like serious business. He wasn’t going to lie and say they were related. The relationship between himself and Rika and Izzy was not bound by blood or any legal documents.

“He’s her brother,” Yui answered for him.

“And you?” The receptionist asked Yui.

More hesitation. Yui didn’t have an answer explaining her own presence.

Izzy threw an arm around Yui’s shoulder. “She’s my girlfriend.” If she was willing to lie for him, somehow it made him that much more willing to return the favor.

“Room 66 down the hall.” The woman behind the desk seemed suspicious, but granted passage anyway. The two thanked her and walked off in that direction.

They were followed by Mike, who tried to remain as inconspicuous as possible while pulling out his cell phone.

Moore Facility- Drop-Off Area- 4:02 PM

Another car was already there when Manny arrived. He’d tend to that later. Right now, he was on the phone with Mike.

“Seeing Rika at the hospital? Perfect,” Manny said as he parked the car. Granted, it wasn’t perfect, but they could be doing a lot worse with Tom’s car, “Look, I’ll call you back in just a second, I got something I need to do.”

He stepped out of the car. The facility seemed so much more menacing now. It was as if everybody inside suddenly cast a dark shadow over the whole place, like a daycare that was the grounds for a hostage situation.

Dave was already there, as expected. He called Manny ahead of time with the report of his unexpected visit.

“Well?” Manny awaited the news on one thing.

“It’s gone,” Dave bore the bad news, “I had to have had at least twenty keys on that damn rack. Takato knew what he was looking for.”

“Shit…” Manny turned to the gate. Not only were they pursuing the keys, but they also knew exactly what they looked like. This threat was much more severe than originally expected.

“Aw, damn,” Dave added to the swearing when he tried to open the front gate.

“Don’t tell me they’ve got this thing locked shut.”

“Looks like it.” Dave walked back to his car and pounded the hood out of frustration.

Shougai was his contribution to the reality craze. Although he didn’t conceive it himself, he pitched it himself, and he was a key part in making it work. Now, there was a chance that it would all be lost.

Manny remained by the door. He saw several silhouettes by the window. Hopefully one of them would be willing to let them in. He cupped his mouth and shouted. “Hey! Somebody!!”

He continued to shout. There was no way that everybody was in on it. Someone had to be a loyalist.

“What’s going on?” Dave had apparently returned.

“I’m trying to get somebody to open the gate.” Manny grabbed his keychain and pulled off the key to open said gate.

“From inside? Are you nuts? They hate us in there!”

As soon as Dave said it, somebody opened the door. Manny smiled.

“Good old Madison…” he remarked.

She was smiling, as always, as she arrived at the gate. “Can I help you two?” she asked sweetly.

Manny forged a smile. “Yeah. Could you let us in? There’s a panel right next to the door that opens this gate.” He slid the key through the bars. “Here’s a key.”

She looked at it for a few seconds, then turned around and headed towards the door.

“Great. You just gave them another way to get out,” Dave ranted at Manny, “How do you know we can trust her?”

Manny remained calm. “Because. She’s Madison.”

“Yeah, the same Madison whom we forced to enter a ring with Kodachi Kuno and ended up getting wrapped up and flung into a pit! I’m sure she loves us.”

Manny cracked a sly smile as the gate flew open. “First law of this job Dave- know the characters you’re messing with.”

Dave shook his head as the two approached the building. “Thank God. Because I am not losing this game.”

We are not losing this game, you mean,” Manny corrected Dave.

“Right. I’m ready to do absolutely anything to make sure Shougai is completed.” Manny nodded in understanding, obviously with the same sympathies.

However, Manny had a much more adverse reaction when Dave pulled out a gun.

“Shit Dave, you are serious.”

“Damn right.”

Manny tried to recover from the shock of seeing the pistol. For all he knew, it was a necessary precaution. In fact, given what was at stake, it wasn’t all that bad an idea.

He was interrupted by his cell phone. As soon as he answered it, he realized that he left Mike hanging at the hospital.

“Mike… sorry about that. Had a little trouble getting in.” As he spoke with Mike, Manny eyed the gun. It was a sure-fire way to set those kids straight. Perhaps there was another way as well… “Mike. Dave and I are going to try to get his key back. I’ll try to see if Izzy has the key… or somebody else.”

“Great,” Mike replied, “Either way, how do we get it back?”

“Well… we may have to fight a little dirty. Stay there. I’ll get back to you.”

Mercy Hospital- Room 66- 4:03 PM

She was surrounded by tubes. Around the perimeter of the bed was a mess of beeping machines and IV bags. She remained motionless. She looked dead, but the indicators on the machines said otherwise.

“Rika…” Izzy was almost speechless. She looked horrible. He knew she wasn’t conscious, but spoke to her anyway. “It’s me. I only hope you can hear me. I, uh, guess I just came to say goodbye. You know how we wanted to stop the show? Well, I think we’re finally doing it. We’re all going to get to go home.”

He paused. He wasn’t the best at solemn departures, but the words seemed to come to him. “I don’t think we’ll ever see each other again. So I just wanted to tell you that I’ll always be rooting for you. Whatever you do, just remember that you’ll always have your big brother on your side.”

Yui sat as far away from the bed as possible. She tried not to look at Rika. It was terrible to see someone Rika’s age in that state. The worst part was the feeling that she was responsible. Could the girl in the bed, one that was so badly hurt that she needed a machine to breathe for her, be the same one Yui fought with just two days ago?

Uncomfortable didn’t begin to describe it. She was being torn apart, even more than when she forgave Miaka. Everything that Kutou used to accomplish their goals- all the murder, suffering and devastation, were suddenly not worth it. The ends suddenly did not justify the means. The ends didn’t even seem worthy enough to try to attain. What was the point in invading Konan if there’d be nothing left to take over when they were through? Her tears could no longer be controlled.

Izzy took one last look at Rika. There was one small area of her forehead that was neither wrapped in bandages nor was being poked with needles. Perhaps if she couldn’t hear him, she could feel his kiss.

He slumped back down, resisting the urge to cry. Izzy heard sobbing, but it wasn’t him. He looked over at Yui. She was losing it. After one more look at Rika, he began to comfort Yui. “Are you okay?”

She shook her head, while the tears kept rolling down.

“Yui… it’s okay.”

“Nothing’s okay anymore. I don’t know what to believe in. I don’t know who to trust. I don’t know what’s right or wrong anymore.”

Izzy sighed. He hadn’t expected this, but he understood. Everything she was told to believe was being stripped away and revealed as lies and deception. It wasn’t enough to tell her what was right. She needed some validation. A reason to make the necessary changes in her life. Izzy wasn’t sure if he’d be able to provide them.

“C’mon. Let’s go.”

She rose to her feet, but was still slouched. Izzy held her as they walked out. Even still, Izzy couldn’t help but take one last look at Rika.

They were walking down the hall, back to the car. Yui remained a wreck, while Izzy remained solemn. They were just about to the lobby when they heard a familiar voice.

“Wait a minute… what do you mean by ‘a little dirty?’”

Beeda Facility- Lounge- 4:05 PM

Tenchi and Nuriko carefully observed their target, Artie Elker, searching under a chair for the missing sofa. They kept at a distance, and spoke quietly.

“So according to your dead kitsune friend, we have to get the key from Artie, Mike, and Manny,” Tenchi recapped the situation.

“Don’t forget Barb,” Nuriko replied.

Tenchi smiled. “I’m not worried about Barb.” He felt around in his pocket. After Chichiri explained the situation with the keys to him, everything suddenly became more clear. The sight of Chichiri confirmed what Barb was saying about the McKormick. And furthermore, she had even given him the key to send him home. He was almost ashamed that he had so many doubts about Barb; in the end, Barb was putting all of her faith in Tenchi. Now, that faith was going to pay off.

“I’m surprised you trust my dead kitsune friend,” Nuriko continued.

“Hey, remember that me and a kitsune won the two Mole seasons.”

A third voice entered the fray, just as quiet as the others, “But a kitsune was also a mole.”

Nuriko answered Misty, “Nah, Brock only looks like a kitsune.”

“Thanks for joining the team Misty,” Tenchi said without looking, “You didn’t have to.”

“Yes I did,” she replied, walking up to Tenchi, “I feel like I owe everybody. Besides, you’re kind of cute.”

Tenchi reeled back for a second, “Is this how you always act around guys who kill your boyfriend?”

Misty let the boyfriend comment slide. After considering everything, she decided to have faith that her friends were alive somewhere. Otherwise, she would be grieving too much to achieve anything. This way, she’d feel like she was risking less in betraying her mole role.

“Matt, Akane, and Jeri are heading to Kohler like we planned. They eventually convinced Sakura to go with, but they couldn’t get Ranma out of his room.” Misty gave her status update.

“Okay. That’s good enough.” Tenchi wanted everybody to be accounted for. He still didn’t know who Manny’s mole was, but he figured that if everybody was being watched by himself, Matt, or Akane, the mole couldn’t do nearly as much without revealing themselves. He continued, “Hopefully Manny and Mike are over there. We’ll take Elker.”

“Let’s move out!” Nuriko shouted as the three approached the portly redhead.

“Artie! Just who we wanted to see!” Misty yelled, interrupting his search for the couch.

“What do you three wa…” Artie stopped halfway. This was what Manny was talking about. The kids were after his key. He backed up against the wall.

Nuriko put his hand against the wall and smiled. “We want you to hand over a special little key you may have. The question is, do you want to hand it over the easy way or the hard way?”

Artie gulped, then reached for the cell phone in pocket. He pulled it out very slowly. Unfortunately, he had to look down at it to dial.

“What’s that?!” Nuriko asked joyously. He saw the phone, and grabbed it away with his free hand. “I may be from Ancient China but I know what it is!” Nuriko smiled brightly, held the phone in front of Artie’s face, and crushed it into oblivion with his bare hand. “It’s a preview of the hard way!!” he exclaimed, tossing the particles of dust onto the floor.

Needless to say, Artie remained on edge. He looked over at Misty. She was the one that could supposedly be trusted. He was in a fix, and was going to need her help to get out of this. She was looking back at him. Judging by the look in her eyes, she was trying to read something in his eyes. He stared at her, making very brief nodding movements. She smiled slightly. “Aha! Communication!” Artie thought. She motioned down with her head. Artie scanned his eyes down, to see her scrawny left arm, and her hand making a motion that seemed to indicate something. He brought his head back up, finally understanding what to do.

“Okay… just don’t hurt me,” he said as he slowly brought the key out of his pocket. “Here… I’m handing it over… I’m hoping this is the easy way.”

Tenchi watched as Artie passed a green tinted key into Misty’s awaiting hand. “Good… nice and easy. That way everybody wins.”

“I don’t see how I win with this…” Artie replied.

Nuriko continued to smile. “Of course you win! This way you get to keep your face!”

Artie didn’t smile, but did watch Misty… as she flashed a smile brighter than Nuriko’s as she handed the key over to Tenchi.

The “boys” began to walk away. Misty trailed slightly behind. “Misty!” Artie whispered.

She turned around, still smiling. “Yes?”

“I thought you were the, uh… you know…” Artie mouthed the word “mole.”

She nodded. “Yeah, about that… can you deliver a message to Manny?”


At that point, Misty pulled down her eyelid and stuck out her tongue, before turning around and following Tenchi and Nuriko out of the room.

Artie was left stressed, shock, and even a little confused.

“What the hell does that mean anyway?!” he yelled.

Moore Facility- Lobby- 4:05 PM

The two unwelcome guests entered the building. First thing was first- Manny got his gate key back from Madison. “Thank you so much,” Manny said.

Madison didn’t appear to respond. She seemed unusually tired, especially given the time of day. After a few seconds, she snapped herself back into an alert state. “Oh. You’re welcome. Anything to keep Sakura…” she let the sentence drop and drifted off again.

“The hell’s wrong with her?” Dave asked.

“I don’t know.” Manny couldn’t help but show a little concern, and assisted her over to a nearby chair.

“Look, we’ll deal with her later. We have to find those keys.” Dave looked around. Most of the group in the lounge were still innocents going about their daily business.

Manny left her there and stood back up. “Right. Find the group that took your key. Odds are they still have it.”

“What about you?”

Manny walked towards the dorms. “I’m going after the ringleader.” Manny continued his march down the first floor hall. “I have a good hunch as to who it is.”

Cafeteria- 4:05 PM

Takato, Henry, and Tracey were each enjoying a victory chocolate milk carton. The plan was successful, the key was obtained, and the three had gotten back without incident.

“You three are insane,” Gary remarked from across the room. It was too early for dinner, so they were the only ones in the room. With nobody else to talk to, Gary was making conversation.

“You should’ve been there Gary. We were sneaky as hell, you know?” Takato was particularly proud of his performance.

“I’m just saying. You three are nuts. We’re going home in a few days anyway. There’s no reason to piss them off now. I’m just trying to enjoy this nice break from the action that I have.”

“What’s the fun in that?” Tracey shouted, a big smile on his face.

“Oh boy,” Henry muttered as Dave entered the room.

“Okay, what did you three bastards do with the key?” He was dead serious. Without his wife in the room, he was free to act the way he needed to to get things done.

“What key? What are you talking about?” Tracey feigned ignorance, as usual.

“You know damn well what I’m talking about. It’s a purple key. Takato stole it while he was ‘in the bathroom.’ And you’re going to hand it over right now.” Dave was not willing to take any shit from Tracey.

“No.” Takato made it plain and simple.


The goggle-headed Tamer stood up. “No. We’re not handing it over. You can’t do anything to us. We’re going home… and… and that’s final.”

Dave did not budge. “I’m sorry Takato, but what you are talking about is fantasy. What we are at right now…” In a flash, Dave pulled the gun out and pointed it at Gary’s head. “This is business.”

It was as if Tracey, Takato, and Henry all jumped back at the sight.

“Is that a…”

“Holy shit… that’s a real…”

Dave eyed Gary, now trembling and afraid to move. Dave turned back to the trio. “Now hand it over.”

1st Floor Hallway- 4:07 PM

Manny knocked on the door to Room 110 again. He could hear two voices inside, but they were not responding to his demands.

“For the last time Tai, I need to talk to you.” He fingered his cell phone. It was his last resort, but he was really drawing close to it.

No response again. Manny sighed and pulled out the phone. He pressed a button, allowing the speed dial to do its work. “Yeah?” The response from Mike was almost instantaneous.

“You’re on stand-by. Get ready.”

Manny knocked on the door once more. He couldn’t believe what he was about to say, but things were getting increasingly desperate. At least two keys were in the hands of the children, and as long as they had them, it was a problem. A problem that required drastic measures to fix. Finally, Manny summoned up the courage and said it.

“Open the door or we’re pulling the plug on Rika! And we have no intention of bringing her back this time!”

End Chapter Fifteen

Author’s Notes
Things are starting to come together, I think. We see some redemption for Tracey and Misty, and the AA is starting to be driven to the brink. Hopefully it’s also a nice cliffhanger to set you up for the final episode.

James’s rendition of “Follow the Sun” was done for two reasons. First off, it is so James. So very, very James. Secondly, the name of the group that sings it? Triple J, of course. It’s on the Dance Dance Revolution 3rd Mix.

Now that it’s safe to say that Izzy and Yui are an official couple, they need an official name. After considering Yuishiro for a long time, I finally decided on a very simple one, and hopefully something that doesn’t come across as fishy… Koi.

Kim Possible is a new hit cartoon (yes, an American cartoon) on the Disney Channel. Therefore, it’s under the jurisdiction of Dave.

Since I’ve been in an Amazing Race mentality lately, especially considering the new non-AA series I’m starting next month. Therefore, a couple little references are in here. Maggie’s name was derived from Margeretta, who was partnered with her husband David in the first series. Also, Tracey and Henry must not know all that much about Pokéball Run since all the terminology they used were from AR.

Chapter Sixteen- Editing the Future
With two tense situations at Moore facility, everything has come to a head. Can the AA prevent the revolt? Can the kids obtain the keys from Manny and Mike? And even if they do, can they do what is necessary to stop the game and get home? And even if they do that… will they want to?