A/N: This was a Tajeri Lynn, Extremo Luchadore fanfic on one of his favorite anime back in 2000. I truly miss "Monster Rancher"; beneath its dopey plot and its even dopier animation style, I really bought into it because the characters were too freaking good. I had planned for a fic all this time, and finally, I scored one. It's Genki's narration and is both humorous and angsty all at once. I've got to admit it was a bizarre philosophical kind of story, and it doesn't quite follow any real storyarc, so a discrepancy or two may be there.

We The Impact Players

My name is Genki Sakura. My parents call me crazy. Some people will call me the monster champ. Others will just call me a kid.....lazy people.... But my friends call me something more; leader to a troupe beyond whatever your mind's got cooking, perfect and unbeatable in every way. Uh...speaking of cooking, my stomach could use some good cooking about now. It's sucking me inside out, like what those mad scientists call a black hole, I guess. I don't have a thing for science anyway. Who needs science when you've got a wonderful collection of video games, which I do.... Then again, I guess making video games is a kind of science.... God knows how plastic discs get to have video games...

But who cares, I sure don't. That's because I'm in the game now. You kids out there love talking about playing the latest 3-D stuff, the latest CGI-rendered, 3rd person or cel-shaded whatever they call it. Well, I'm talking about living the game, a life that's got everything in the sack, everything a video game ought to be, but no earthling has yet figured out. Only there's no buxom women in this life. Honestly, if I had heard about this big guns action in that "Dead or Alive" roller-blading thingy, I wouldn't have had the love for the Monster Rancher world that I now do. Besides, Holly is way more real than those women. All that's needed is a few more years and maybe she'll look like them.

This world I'm in, so alive and packing with adventure. It's the only thing that can possibly tire me out. It's like this big chocolate cake that's got banana cream on one layer, chocolate syrup on another, strawberry and orange and lemon...you get the idea, only, wait, no lemon. Lemons aren't tasty fruits to begin with. No, wait again, there is a lemon layer. Gotta give the baddies their due in this world, everybody, much as I don't like them. I might as well say they make a broccoli flavor and a celery flavor too...Eck! My stomach's losing its appetite though. Good!

Well, everybody should by now know the story of my life. Win, win, win, school, school, school, eat, eat, eat, bed, bed, bed.... Such is the life of me. I'm not too sure what was the last lesson I got from school. Was it something with quadrants or something....Math sounds like something for a scientist, for a video game maker. Teachers ought to know, the stuff I'd better learn is for a video game player. Players and makers, such is the life of me.

And that's what it went down to. Some crazy-butt scientists built the craziest-butt game and sent it right to my mailbox, the labor of my expertise as a player. After shelling out on strategy guides, the PS-X, the CDs, all the stuff the makers made, I paved a mark on the tournaments and I out-muscled the veterans (or should I say the "better-ans") to become better than better, the Best! Okay, so I wasn't actually the best of the best. It's not like winning "Monster Rancher" guarantees you a late show appearance (no amount of caffeine could help me), a face in a cereal box (good way to show your mug to stalkers, shudder), or those girls from Girls Gone Bonkers advertised during the 6 o'clock news (those girls just want too much attention). But winning the tournament did get me winning 200X, the edition that sent me to the world I'm on. Way cool, and to me, that got my attention enough.

200X became that passport to a place I never went to. Heck, I never went to many places. Where I live, roller coasters and theme parks are inventions from outer space. And you can imagine what my parents thought. No sense, no fun, nuh-uh. But I'm not blaming my parents for anything. They worked harder than me, and I'm just a kid privileged to doing kid stuff without shame. I know from others what it means to have a family, and knowing my parents and I get stuck on like glue, that's okay.

What others, you just asked me? Well, I'd like to welcome you to my friends. We're the Courageous Seven, the villagers would label us like so. I'd prefer to call ourselves The Impact Players but my friends may think it too brutal sounding. Still, you must admit we were an elite who could not be beat. More importantly, we were all players. A challenge kept coming at us, and what we needed were our hands and feet. A bit more tiresome than slapping thumbs on a gamepad, perhaps, but the realer the risk was the more rewarding it got.

The pink and green one next to me is Moochi, named after a sweet mini snack they make in Japan. Only my Moochi isn't red bean paste inside of a rice dough, he is flesh and blood in a cute little package. Moochi's always to be trusted, he never lies about what he feels. When I'm scouting for adventure, I know he's next to me and acting like the guard who'd take the bullet for me. Well, he's too young to do that so I try and take the bullet as much as I can, so that it's his turn to save me. After all these days with him, I can say he's the bestest friend you can have. But you can't have him, cause he's mine, neener, neener, neener! Heh, heh, of course I'm just kidding. Life wouldn't be much fun if I only played with baddies.

A shadow looms over us, but don't fret, the sky isn't falling, though a little bit of me wishes that Golem won't trip. Golem's a lover, not a fighter, though if any of us were in the tightest of situations, it would always be Golem's massive hand that'll pick us out of them. Golem lived in this old castle that housed his favorite pretty flowers, and well, he kind of went A-Bomb when the baddies came in hopes of turning the castle into their own slaughterhouse. I'm sure beneath that rocky surface lies a mind waiting to be chiseled of its hard drive for battle. Golem dislikes fighting but he can't qualify well as a priest in church; he doesn't know when to end fighting. Heck, he, Moochi and three more of the gang made up a powerful weapon called the Phoenix; that destroyed the big bad evil who used to play against us years ago. It's got to tick Golem's mind, though, to be part of something whose intent was to destroy, for the sake of good I'd argue, but to destroy without a shadow of a doubt. Speaking of which, Golem, could you stop overshadowing us? You're starting to look a bit scary.

Meanwhile, the other-scary-looking thing starts jabbering about. That's the eyes of the group, Suezo. Give me a clue as to what heavenly power found it a good idea to combine a huge eyeball, a big mouth and a tail in a single body. Even Suezo can't stop asking us to get him an arm for next Christmas. At times, Suezo has to lose his voice because he took too many blisters on his tongue, which gets as close to an arm as it could possibly get. Poor him, and poor us, too, since we can't feel too kind when monster slobber's pasted on our gear. Still, Suezo's a total cure for sore eyes, literally. He sees what we can't; make him go up high and his telescopic power saves us hundreds in navigational stuff. Of course, Golem needs to remember that what he throws up must come down. If ever you want to know what it must feel to be a pancake flying off a frying pan, ask Suezo. I chuckle at the thought of Suezo coming down and the eyeball starts yelling at me about what I'd be laughing at. I tell him, and he yells so hard the slobber touches me. I'm used to that. Suezo then says in the future he'll wear a time bomb around his waist and if Golem doesn't catch him next time, the bomb will go off and vengeance is his. No problem, Suezo. Just remember, buying a time bomb costs the same amount as a month's worth of meals for us.

It's a quiet time right now. Would the quiet storm of the group feel the same way? When I say quiet storm, no doubt it's got to be Tiger of the Wind. He's lost his family and misses them alot, though he puts a front in trying to deny that. That's okay. We all try to put up a brave front on some time of our life; I've got to give Tiger high marks though for trying it 24/7. Maybe he feels what this team needs is a never-ending gauge of bravery, just like I supply some never-ending energy or Suezo provides some never-ending...no wait, that's not very positive....But um, back to Tiger. Fierce claws, menacing blue and white fur as cold as the tundra he dwelled in, and beyond all that he knows his purpose among us; to play the game, and take on the baddies.

Whoa, Tiger, settle down! Just because Hare came past by in a gust doesn't equal to his stealing anything from you. Besides, what could he steal from you at this moment, your sleep? That's glinty-eyed Hare, self-proclaimed genius of the seven of us. Self-proclaimed because he's never got to try his wit in the big league schools and has yet to find a job description without the words "klepto" or "maniac" included. Most of us are familiar with the klepto side of Hare; I guess Tiger's used to the maniac side, since he's always been the target of Hare's laughter and trickery. I must say Hare was our least likeliest choice for being among the Courageous Seven, not that he wasn't courageous and all, but the rule of the law was to him one of life's great unsolvable mysteries, while to us it was as normal as....well, a thousand baddies after our tails. Law abiding or not, Hare can agree with one thing, and it's that everything's a good laugh until someone starts dying or is about to be. From there, we got ourselves a rabbit hopping mad, a fireball wrapped up in fur and a red handkerchief. Go Hare, go! Yeah!

There's only one more member I hadn't yet introduced you to. It may be because she was never meant to be a player at all, but took the choice anyway. Holly's story actually is the saddest one; so tough to even make her descriptions so funny because I get scared of hurting her. Heh, what do you know? A bunch of baddies hoping to clean my clock and not one of them makes my nerves go whack like what Holly can do, just with that sad, cute face of hers. I've heard all the stories and details trailing her. While not all of us really had much choice with the matter of The Phoenix or unlocking Mystery Disks, Holly had no choice whatsoever. Me, I chose to be the almighty player in a video game, and I went along with it so much that I literally became its resident. But not Holly, she was born the resident of this alien world all along, way before I knew how real it could get. I mean, Holly and I aren't like two people separated by some ocean or a million or so miles; a whole dimension is something you can't measure with my ruler, let alone a yardstick. Holly's the top reason why this video game world isn't so video-game-ish. I mean, the monsters, you've got to feel for them too, but Holly is a total wreck, her father consumed into the wrath of the baddies, her village gone and all her friends but Suezo still managing to persevere....Oh sure, a video game lets us in on that stuff to make us cry like an onion stuffed up our faces, but when she's staring right at you, wondering your every movement the moment you walked into her life, the feeling comes at you like a fist to your stomach. And the funny thing is, your mind just did that to yourself.

She comes up to me, telling me the fire warming us will be dying real soon for us to go asleep and wait over for a new day, a new chapter being in the video game. I just remembered that I was thinking over Holly, and I smile and talk words that my mouth knows but not my brain for the moment, while my eyes look at her so to convince myself that she's really real. I'm thinking, she's years ahead of me in both age and smarts, and yet her vulnerability needs me to come on over and warm a shoulder or something, anything to be medicine to the unseen marks aching her. I'm looking at brown eyes, eyes the color of the earth, their tinge expressing wonder and confusion at what my poor mouth is trying to make out because I'm too busy assuring myself this girl can't be pixels, ones and zeroes, but that she's mind, body and soul. And I....

I just stared too close and my lips got her, the feeling like a feather. But Ow! My mind punched my stomach. And my mouth....Yikes...Brain overloading....Eyes lethargic....Rapid bouncing inside me, somewhere near my stomach, but there's bouncing too inside Holly, and we let the vibrations thaw the feelings of distance. I can hear a sound, a cross between a mew and a pained moan, and it tickles my mouth, which by the way feels as hotter than wasabi and sweeter than ice cream. Someone better make this flavor if I ever get back home. Then again, someone better not, because this flavor only belongs to her.

I think we're dropping to the floor, and I get a good feeling that everyone else is keeping quiet so that the next day I'll have to admit that things aren't gonna be exactly the same as before. But what I'm feeling here, this is still the same; it's a sort of play, and I know Holly and I really enjoy it. Remember how I said the world had two people, they being players and makers? Come to think of it, I don't know how I was made, how she was made, or how all of us got made. But what I do know is that our world leaves plenty of problems and solutions for us, and what we do is play with them and wish we become happy. I guess what I'm saying is that we are all players, and life is the weirdest game of all. And right now, I have no regrets thinking that way.

Besides, in a video game, could your hand really get this close to a girl?



Monster Rancher series, owned by Tecmo, TMS, and BKN.

Pusspleef-in-Boots, for continuing to be a muse with Extremo Fanfiction.

My bro, CrazedChakra101, who helped bring back the "monster fever" when we found "MR1" episodes on tape.

And of course, the tons of excellent "MR" fan writers out there who continue to keep the Courageous Seven on a wicked journey.

Adios, and make your impact known!