"The girl is in her room," said one of the hooded figures as they watched the door patiently.
"Once she comes out," said another. "We just grab her and run."
"Why didn't we just do that in the first place?" asked the first one again. "In fact, why not do that now?"
"She went to take a shower. Our master would be furious if we dragged her out drenched and ended up letting her catch cold. For now we wait."
"Couldn't we go and take a shower ourselves," complained the third one. "I still can smell the trash from the track on me. It is so disgusting."
"If we do that now you'll be in there all day," argued the fourth one. "You are too obsessed with your stupid beauty."
"You are just jealous because you are so ugly in comparison."
"Then how about we have a fight and I show you ugly."
"Quiet all of you!" shouted the last member who was easily making more noise than the others had been. "We are on an important mission to kidnap a famous idol and we can't let anyone find out about it." His voice carried and it was a miracle nobody was around to hear it. The others just kept quiet.
"How can someone so small weigh so much?" cried Jack being sat on by Jill for his punishment.
"Stop fidgeting," growled Jill sitting hard on him. "The next fight is about to start."
Ember returned to her DigiPad and pressed the button for the next set of people to fight and after a moment read the results. "The second match is going to be between Rex and Love."
"Alright!" exclaimed Rex excitedly as he jumped off the bleachers and ran to his side of the arena. Love took a much slower approach coming up. She had a very nervous look on her face as she made her way to her side. All the way down she couldn't even do much more than slightly glance over at Rex.
"She looks pretty nervous," commented Flint. "This might mean that Rex will win this fight."
"I don't know," replied Dan. "If they are supposed to be an unstoppable team you'd think they would all be a lot more confident than this."
"Ember doesn't look worried at all," added Fonz noting his expression was one already accepting victory.
Rex looked at his opponent curiously. She held her hands over her face and barely kept her fingers apart to gaze at him. He scratched his head wondering what she was thinking about.
[He's staring right at me. Does that me he likes me? He looks so handsome and hunky.]
"Let's make this a good fight and try our best," Rex said trying to be friendly and pump them both up for the fight. He started bouncing his feet up and down and readying himself to fight the second the match started. Love crouched down blushing all over and tried her best to hide it.
[He wants me to do my best. Does that mean he likes me? And now he's moving like he wants to dance with me.]
"Begin," said Ember starting the match.
With incredible speed, Rex charged at her and Love remained crouched on the floor. As he readied his fist and punched at her she immediately mistook it for him offering his hand to dance and with blinding speed she got up, caught his fist and put him to a complete stop. All of Team Matrix had their mouths agape at this. Rex was nervous expecting her to counter now and defeat him just like Jill defeated Jack, but instead she put her hand on his shoulder and started leading him in a dance. Clumsily he followed along a little confused at what was going on. As much as he attempted to break free he never got the chance with how she pulled him around.
"You're even better than I expected," Rex commented as he felt dizzy and winding from all the dancing and spins. "I've never seen anyone move like this before."
"You really mean it?" asked Love completely misinterpreting what he meant.
[He likes me and thinks I'm one of a kind. Soon we'll be boyfriend and girlfriend and get engaged and married live happily ever after forever and ever.]
"What kind of fight is this?" asked Flint. Seeing Rex flail about like that seemed too amusing to focus on how dire their situation was. "It looks like they're dancing."
"Well I think they are," replied Fonz. "And if he dances this uncool with a girl he has a lot to learn."
"Care to explain what's this one's deal?" asked Dan to the Killer Threes.
"Love is the quickest on our team," explained Marie while Love continued to dance and twirl Rex around endlessly. He was looking green in the face and dragging his feet now. "However, her greatest strength is her heart. When she loves her target there is no length she will not go to. She is 'The Hopeless Lover, Love.'"
"Why does Rex get all the girlfriends," complained Jack angrily. "Why do I get stuck with this sadist?"
"I thought I told you to be quiet," snarled Jill giving Jack a sharp jab into his shoulder. When she did Jack felt his tongue go numb and swell up three times its normal size making anything he say sound like garbled jibberish.
"The point is," added Lucy. "That it doesn't matter who she goes up against. To her it is a date and it doesn't end until the match is over."
"What's that mean for me?" asked Rex after the sweat on his hands managed to let him slip free of Love's grasp and tumble to the ground. He never regretted eating such a big breakfast before.
"It means you can't win this fight while you're on a date," explained Dan. "This really, really unorthodox fight."
"Well there is a way to escape the date trap," commented Fonz.
"Please tell me!" begged Rex as he saw Love gracefully stride over to him with more romantic intentions. His had barely recovered from nausea and was now turning pale with faux commitment terror. Jumping to his feet he ran away from her, keeping just within the boundary of the arena.
[Now he's playing hard to get. He wants me to chase him to the ends of the Digital World and propose to me. I will gladly go after him!]
"Don't tell him," stated Ember. "Unless you want to lose. If you say too much I will consider it as outside interference and end the match here."
"It doesn't matter," explained Fonz. "I could never utter such ugly words in the presence of a lady even if my life depended on it. It is so uncool, the exact opposite of me."
A light went on in Flint's head and he had an idea to help Rex without violating Ember's rules. "You can do it!" cheered Flint loudly. "Just be yourself and you can win!"
"Be myself?" repeated Rex with confusion. He thought about it as he ran and thought what he would do in a situation where he was up against a strong opponent. Immediately, he stopped and turned to her. On his face he had newfound determination on it.
[He's stopped! Does this mean he's ready to accept my love?]
"You are a great opponent," he complimented to her with a smile on his face. "One of the toughest I have ever faced."
[He admires my inner beauty along with my outer beauty. He is so deep.]
"That's why I want to tell you this." She was running up to him in complete bliss and her arms held out to hug him and stare dreamily into his eyes.
[Yes! YES!!! What is it my love?!?]
"Let's be friends!"
[Yes I will! I will be your... your... y- y- your friend?!?!?]
"Your friend?!?!?!?!?" she cried, her voice cracking as did her heart shattering to millions of tiny pieces in that instant. She was a single step away from him and like a tragic love story it came to a sad end.
"It worked?" muttered Rex in disbelief. "Hey guys it worked. I can win now. I can wi..."
[YOU JERK!!! YOU WILL PLAY WITH TOYING WITH MY EMOTIONS!!!]
His sentence was stopped short as a newly enraged Love delivered an annihilating blow to the most sacred place on Rex's body. The pain was so intense that it could have instantly killed him if he didn't black out instantly. He collapsed backwards in the arena and his fall was particularly loud with the sudden silence that resulted from Love's attack. The other members of his team seemed equally destroyed as they covered over their own weak spots unable to imagine what Rex just experienced.
Ember was the one who finally broke the silence. "She never takes break ups easy and they never see that coming afterwards. The winner is Love and that brings the score 2 to 0. And if I recall correctly, Fonz is not going to be able to fight his match so this basically means that no matter what we will win." Bringing up this terrible realization snapped Team Matrix back to their senses.
"Are you sure you can't?" asked Dan to Fonz. "We'll lose everything."
"I'm sorry," he apologized. "I can't fight them."
Ember smirked relishing an overly absolute victory. "Then we declare victor..."
"Not yet!" shouted Flint. He stomped his foot on the bleacher so hard he smashed a hole in the wood. If there was one thing Flint hated above all else it was being made to feel helpless and now Ember was making him feel burning mad. Smoke seemed out his nostrils. Fonz, Jack, and Dan trembled a bit at seeing him so made they thought he could burst into flames right in front of them. Even the members on The Three Killers shook with fright. They waited to see what he did next and to their relief he took a deep breath and snorted the excess smoke out of his nose to calm down. "The score is still 2 to 0 so we officially haven't lost."
"But you will once Fonz comes out to fight," explained Ember. "You could still lose before that if either you or Dan loses a fight. Even if you both somehow win and tie the battle you will not be able to break the tie. Continuing will be a waste of time in the long run."
"That may be true, but let's continue anyway. If Fonz changes his mind by the time his match comes then we still have a shot."
"But I can't fight them," Fonz repeated again. "You know that already."
"We can't give up," Flint stated. "If we get you the time can you try and figure some way you can participate?"
Fonz was silent for a moment, but nodded slightly.
"Well you managed to get him to agree," Ember commented. "And you have a burning spirit that is to be admired. Perhaps you aren't so weak after all. However, he could be called for fight at any round and if he isn't ready then you lost instantly and there is a one in three chance that can happen. I can't tell if you've been having good or bad luck so far, but let's see if your luck will hold out." Ember pressed the button to start the next match and as the names flipped through the remaining members everyone waited intensely. Finally, Ember read the results. "Dan vs. Lucy."
The two of them got into the arena while Flint carried Rex back to their side of the bleachers. Rex was still out cold and didn't look ready to wake up yet. Love walked back to her side too, though he face was blushing as it did before her match.
"Are you alright?" asked Jill.
"I'm fine," she swooned. "But that guy Flint is so dreamy when he gets tough. Don't you think?"
"As resilient as ever," she stated sounding a bit annoyed for how easy she moved from one crush to another. Jack let out a muffled groan since his tongue was still swollen. He wanted to complain why nobody could have a crush on him. Jill seemed to understand and squeezed her legs on him tightly. "Why would she fall in love with a seat cushion?"
"So what's your title?" asked Dan to Lucy.
"Think you can get some hint as to how you can beat me?" she commented. "Fine, we'll tell you, but it won't make a difference. I'm the stealthy assassin. I can stalk my targets without them ever being away. You don't know you're dead until you see me wave bye-bye to you. Crossing my path is always bad news because I'm the ‘Midnight Cat, Lucy.'"
"Let the match being," Ember stated. She grinned before adding a smug comment to it. "The final match."
Before everyone's eyes she faded until she was gone, not even a shadow at her feet. Curiously, Dan walked over to where she had stood, but there was no sign of her. "What did she just do?" he asked.
"She still hasn't told us how that trick works," explained Marie. "But we assure you that she hasn't left the boundaries of the arena."
"That's not very helpful," said Dan looking around cautiously. "Any slight sensation made him jump not sure if it was her or not.
"I can't figure it out," grumbled Flint. "How is he going to win if he can't see her?"
"That's just it," Flint answered. "He can't, nobody can. At least not by looking with normal eyes."
"What does that mean?" asked Flint curiously. When he turned to Fonz he saw his eyes were fixated on the field with a beastly glare like a predator eyeing its prey. "What's with that glare? Can you actually see her?"
"Instinct," he explained. "Lucy is acting as a predator stalking a prey. If we act as prey there is no way we can find her. Dan had better figure this out too."
"Am I doing it right?" asked Flint staring back at the arena. "I still can't see anything." He turned back to Fonz showing he had his eyes opened as wide as he could get them. It made Fonz look a bit uncomfortable. "I still can't see anything."
"Don't do that," said Fonz. "Using instinct is something you discover on your own. You can't just learn it on by trying to stare really hard."
"But how do you know that Dan even has instinct?" asked Flint.
"I don't, but if he would ever need it, now is the time."
"Gah!" shrieked Dan suddenly as he lurched back and clutched his shoulder. He had a set of claw marks across it that just came out of nowhere and it looked like it hurt.
"Looks like Lucy finally decided to attack," stated Ember.
"She is so used to being patient that she enjoys taking everything so slow," added Jill. "I don't mind it, but she's hardly making him suffer."
Dan cautiously scanned the area around him. He had never felt so scared, not since he had been endlessly fearful of Faust finding him. It never registered in him until now how much he was able to relax not that he was with Flint and the others and now it made him feel guilty how little he felt he was contributing. Even now, when they needed a win from him, more than ever he was helpless. Lucy struck a few more times at Dan choosing random spots he was not guarding and scratching him up. The first few made him wail in pain, but as his body tensed up he took the attacks and barely flinched. His breathing grew deep and heavy and his eyes looked around with a savage fierceness.
"He did it," stated Fonz with amazement.
"Is that the instinct thing you were talking about?" asked Flint.
"Yeah," explained Fonz. "Though he looks like too adept at it for a first time user. Have you ever seen him use it before?"
"Not that I'm aware of," said Flint. "But this means he'll win right?"
"He had a chance," stated Fonz. "Now he's just got to overcome Lucy."
Scanning the area around him more like a cornered beast than a lonely lamb he waited for the next attack. Lucy didn't leave him waiting and attacked, but as she was set to strike she hesitated when his eyes turned straight at her even though he shouldn't have seen her at all. Quickly she aborted her attack and avoided him to see if he really was tracking her. She expected him to keep his gaze locked on her but he didn't show any sign of noticing her after that.
Scratching her head in confusion she pondered if that was just a fluke or if he had actually detected her. The only way to make sure was to attack again, but she decided to be cautious and attack him from behind. She crept her way over, watching to make sure he was clueless to her location. When the moment was ripe she rushed at him as quickly and quietly as she could. He didn't turn to face her so she was certain he had only looked at her by chance. She knew there was no way she could be seen and she was going to carve it right into his back.
As she revealed her claws to attack, Dan's long tail swung to strike, though it went in the opposite direction Lucy was. She grinned convinced she was as stealthy as ever and was going to relish this. She swiped at him just as he sharply ducked under her. She missed entirely and soon found herself on the other side of him just in time to meet his swinging tail and took it at full force. Though the others couldn't see her, they noticed as his tail seemed to hit something and they were able to fill in the blanks as she tumbled across the arena. As she came to a stop just short of the line she reappeared for everyone to see.
"He actually saw her," stated Jill in surprise.
"So he found a way around her stealth," replied Ember. "It doesn't matter. Even if he manages to win we still have two rounds to go and our victory is already guaranteed."
Dan approached Lucy while she was still a little dazed and picked her up planning to place her outside the ring. As he held her he couldn't help but think of Angel since they looked almost identical save for the color of their fur and her eye color. Even so, there was something more too it and as Lucy came to her senses she noticed it too.
"Why hello there big boy," she said in her sweetest voice. "You enjoy holding your little Angel in your big strong hands?"
"Uh huh!" answered Dan with a big smile and hearts in his eye.
"That's great," she said seeing he was putty in her hands so easily. "Are you going to show your love for me by obeying my every command?"
"Your every wish is my desire," he muttered.
"Good, then put me down," she ordered to which he did so. "Now roll over." Falling to the floor he did so rolling back and forth not stopping until he was ordered to perform his next silly task.
"What just happened?" asked Flint feeling like victory had just been stripped from them when they were finally about to taste it.
"Love happened," replied Fonz looking forward to the victory as well. "Terribly mistaken love and very weird love at that. The second she gets bored fooling around we've lost."
"There has to be some way we can break him out of this," said Flint.
"Our words won't reach him when he's like that," answered Fonz and from past experiences Flint already knew how true that was. Dan just couldn't resist Angel and no force in the world could get through to him. Thinking that, gave Flint an idea.
"No, there's another," he stated getting to his feet. "I'll be right back in a jiffy."
"You leave and your team loses," interrupted Ember.
"What? Why?" Flint asked already set to jump from the bleachers and run like crazy.
"This goes for Fonz too since neither of you have fought yet leaving would be the same as forfeiting your turn. So I suggest you get used to the idea of losing everything and give up all hope now."
"If those are the rules," stated Fonz. "Then that means Jack is free to go."
"He could," began Jill smugly. "But using him right now and he is so comfy cozy. Besides, he doesn't want to leave now do you?" She glared down at him with a devilish look that was enough to send a chill to his bones. Jack still couldn't talk, but he was able to shake his head in a fearful manner to plead for his life. "That's a good boy." She patted his head gently and he even felt a slight attraction to her if he looked past her sadistic, controlling nature.
"Then we're out of options," said Flint feeling defeated. "Rex is still out cold, Jack is indisposed, and we're not allowed to leave."
"Yeah," sighed Fonz before realizing something was amiss. "Where is Rex anyway?"
Flint looked beside him. He had put Rex down beside him to rest, but now he wasn't there. As they turned to the fight they say him cheering and laughing up a storm and giving Lucy suggestions on what to do next.
"How having him walk on his hands while balancing you on his tail," he shouted, tears of joy streaming down his eyes. Lucy nodded and instructed Dan to do just that. Flipping over, he did a handstand and dipped his tail to the ground for her to stand on. He then lifted her up on it and walked around.
"I don't believe it," groaned Flint knowing this was hardly the time for Rex to be fooling around. "How long were you awake?"
"About a few minutes into this fight," he explained.
"Then you know what is happening?"
"And you know that you are the only one who can leave, right?"
"I've been paying attention to all that."
"Then why are you still here?"
"You haven't told me where I'm going?" he explained.
"Go and get Angel!" shouted Flint feeling every second that passed was a second closer to their defeat. "She's the only one who can save us now."
"But things always end badly for me whenever I'm around her," he complained in a childish voice.
"Name one time things ended badly?" replied Flint.
"There was the time I ended up getting tied to a log and afterwards was put on a dartboard. And let's not forget that insane eating contest we got into when we first met her."
"Point taken," Flint conceded. "But it is do or diet time and if you don't do then you are going to diet." Flint said this in a threatening tone. "That means you'll be going to bed without dessert for a month."
Those words seemed to impact Rex in a big way as he was standing in front of Flint one second and gone the next with the only clue to where he had gone was the doors swinging closed.
"Were you really going to cut off his desserts?" asked Fonz quite impressed by how well it motivated Fonz.
"I'm not very good at sticking to punishments," admitted Flint. "But Rex doesn't need to know that."
"Well, the only thing left for us to do now is to hope he can come through for us before Lucy runs out of things to do with Dan." He turned to see Dan flopping around the arena like a fish out of water. "Let's hope this is hubris for the win."
The hooded figured had been waiting the entire time for Angel to emerge and at last they felt the time was at hand. Already they could hear the faint rustle of her feet as she emerged in the area of her room. They were so tense they were trembling.
"Once she opens the door we grab her," one of them said.
"Such a boorish method, but I don't care so long as it will allow me to get washed quicker," said another.
The continued to wait, but they were facing a new problem now. "We never considered that she might not come outside right after the shower. What if she decides to watch TV or take a nap?"
"Then let's break down the door and grab her. She is done with her shower already."
"But if she isn't decent and we see her master will have our heads. We need a new plan."
"We could always ring her doorbell and grab her when she comes out."
"Ingenious!" shouted the loud one. "She will never see it coming! We ring the doorbell and grab her while he guard is down. She will fall for it hook line and sinker!"
"And your screaming didn't just ruin it. Let's just give it a try and see what happens."
One of the hooded figures rushed over and pressed her doorbell alerted Angel to someone at her door. "Must be some fans come to say hello," she assumed and quickly dried herself off and slipped into something comfortable. "Guess I could say tell them 'hi' but it would be nice if my prince had finally come to whisk me away." She smiled happily at the thought as she came to the door and opened it.
When she saw that there was nobody there she stepped outside to look around and wondered if this was a prank or it some admirers lost their nerve at the last second. While she pondered this, the hooded figures pounced at her silently from all directions. She was completely unaware as they got on top of her and planned to subdue her before she had a chance to scream. They all moved wildly to keep her from kicking and fighting back, but when everything settled they saw the only them in the tussle was the four of them and Angel was nowhere in sight.
"Where'd she go?" they all asked in confusion.
Angel was just as confused as them as she was suddenly flying through the halls without even doing anything. Then she noticed she was being carried and when she turned to see who it was she blushed adoringly to see it was Rex's big, strong arms she was in.
"Rexy," she cooed lovingly. "You came for your princess."
"Well I need your help with something important," he told her.
"I'll gladly help," she answered. "But I need you for something as well."
"Sure," Rex responded not paying full attention. "I'll do anything."
"And what about your friends? I will need their help too."
"We'll do anything you ask for just as soon as we take care of our fight with The Three Killers."
"The Three Killers?" replied Angel in shock. "You got involved with them?"
"Yeah, and we need your help or we're done for."
"So then I suppose Lucy is there too."
"Yeah, she's fighting right now. Do you know her?"
"Of course," Angel answered as they burst into the battle room again. Dan was playing red light, green light as he walked dangerously close to the end the arena. "She is my twin sister after all."
"Sister?!?" cried Flint and Rex in surprise upon hearing those words. Even Love and Jill seemed surprised hearing that.
"First time I've heard of it," commented Lucy feeling annoyed that she was among those that didn't know. "Why didn't you ever tell us?"
"Easy to imagine," replied Ember. "How would you feel to have a sister who is famous the world over and you are invisible by comparison to the point that nothing she could do would make a difference. It is easy to see why Lucy would develop those kinds of abilities."
"Truly it is a tragedy to live such a life," commented Fonz. "But I admire her strength to persevere just as much as I adore Angel's beautiful nature."
"So you could tell they were sisters from the start?" asked Flint amazed.
"When you are as cool as I am you are always right. Being wr- wr- that other thing is simply not possible. Not even to pronounce."
Mary gave a soft chuckle and replied to him, "Sounds more like you made a guess in the dark and it paid off, but I like your way to saying it better."
"I do too," said Fonz in a smooth tone.
"So why are you here anyway?" asked Lucy so close to winning her fight, but more focused on her sister now. "Come to see me win?"
"Really now?" asked Angel. "Because it looks more like I came to see myself win or do you like pretending to be me to express your jealousy?"
"I have never been jealous of you a day in my life," growled Lucy, though it was clearly a lie that was written all over her face.
"If you aren't then why did you go so far as to join the Three Killers?" asked Angel. "But don't bother answering because I've heard a little rumor about this particular generation and what you all desire above all else."
"You have to be bluffing," stuttered Lucy nervously. "I have never said anything about such things."
"You can't hide anything from a sister like me and unless you want me to reveal it to these guys, your team's secret then I suggest you surrender this fight immediately."
Lucy couldn't stand being forced into a corner but saw she had no other choice. She got down on her knees. "I... I surrender."
"Smart move," Angel stated. "Trying to beat me in that aspect is very unbecoming, especially for you. But I can't forgive you just yet for using my likeness for your gain. Dan, about face." Dan's ears perked up upon hearing the command from the genuine article and immediately he turned around. In doing so, his tail swung around and bumped into Lucy knocking her over and just over the line. "Now I can."
The match ended with Dan's victory, and while it did give Flint and Fonz a moment of relief they knew it was only the first and they both still had to win their matches. Looking at Ember they could see she was doing her best to suppress her anger at the loss, but she looked ready to burst into flames like Flint did earlier.
"I'm sorry," pleaded Lucy. "We still have this match won easily."
"I'm not concerned about that as much as Angel learning about our little secret," she explained. "It is something we agreed to never to let anyone discover ever."
"Well maybe I should tell everyone," suggested Angel. "After all, if I remember right, you take everything from your opponents and these guys are some of my guardians and I can't have that can I?"
"I could also call interference on that match," Ember pointed out. "But I'm willing to let that slide if you don't say another thing about it and don't interfere further. I'll even let you stay and watch."
"Seems fair," agreed Angel. "This is the sort of thing that will get me in the mood for my concert tomorrow." She then took a seat in the bleachers with Dan following behind her adoringly and Rex bringing up the rear.
"Got anything yet?" asked Flint to Fonz hoping he found some way he could fight.
"I didn't have much time to think during that last match," he admitted. "But if I don't fight next and I get the right opponent then I might be able to do something. The problem there is that we have only a twenty five percent chance of getting that result."
"Well your luck is holding up," stated Ember eavesdropping on them. "But I guarantee that no matter what happens next this will be the last match." With that, she pressed the button on her DigiPad to pick the next two fighters.