Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Yu Yu Hakusho characters. They are only being borrowed temporarily, and will hopefully not end up being too OOC on their brief outing.

Personal Appeal: This is my first Yu Yu Hakusho fiction. Please read and review to let me know how I'm doing. There are so many great Yu Yu Hakusho authors out there (like Skitzophrenick, Frith, and all the others that I love) that it's a lot to live up to!

CHAPTER 1: ENTERING THE TOURNAMENT

"Yusuke, I'm sending you and your team to another tournament." Koenma sucked placidly on his pacifier and leaned forward on his paper bestrewn desk.

"Oh man, we just got back from the Dark Tournament. When do I get a break?" Asked Yusuke.

"Stop complaining." Koenma sat back in his chair and folded his hands over his toddler tummy. "This one's a small stakes tournament. It should be easy for you."

"If it's so easy, why don't you go yourself?"

"Because that's why I have spirit detectives like you." Answered Koenma complacently.

"But why, if it's such an unimportant tournament, are you sending Yusuke when he's barely recovered from the Dark Tournament?" Botan interjected, eyebrows raised. "What's really going on?"

"The tournament itself is not important." Said Koenma impatiently. "It's the prize. Some time ago an ancient treasure, a large opal, disappeared. Well someone's unearthed it and the tournament committee bought it to be the prize. It's said to have the power to cloud human minds."

"But since most of the spirit world's portals to the human world are closely watched, why would a demon fighting team want to win such an opal if they don't have access to the human realm?"

"Good question, Botan, but if Yusuke and his team win, we won't ever have to know."

"My team? Why can't I just go alone? If it's as easy as you say, then I'll just bag the jewel and be back by lunch time."

Koenma sighed. "Because it's a tournament, a team tournament with qualifying rounds and team to team battles. I told you it was a small stakes tournament. Tournaments like that are usually fought with every member of the team on the field fighting every member of the opposing team at the same time."

Yusuke stuck his hands in his pockets. "I don't need any help."

"Possibly not, but those are the tournament rules, and I had a hard enough time getting your team qualified and entered considering that the tournament has already started." Koenma sniffed. "Ogre! Where is my lunch? You were supposed to bring it an hour ago."

A blue ogre popped his head in the door carrying a covered tray. "Here it is sir!" He set it carefully on the table, as Koenma tied a large napkin around his neck and prepared to dig in.

"Wait a minute! You're telling me you entered me and my team in a tournament that already started?" Yusuke's voice raised an octave.

Koenma looked up from his lunch. "Of course, and let me tell you, it wasn't easy getting you signed up for the final rounds. Only your recent victory at the Dark Tournament and my amazing powers of persuasion enabled me to pull it off."

"He means he threatened to pull their tournament license." Muttered the Ogre.

"What did you say?" Koenma turned a baleful glare toward the Ogre.

"Er, nothing sir!"

"I thought so." Koenma pulled his pacifier out and thrust his chin toward Yusuke and Botan. "What are you still doing here? Gather your team and get going. You haven't got all day. The last rounds start tomorrow."

"Start where? You haven't told us where the tournament is held." Yusuke pointed out.

"It's by a shrine near Tokyo a few hours drive outside of town. The shrine is a portal to the Spirit Realm. With Hiei and Kurama by your side you shouldn't have any problem getting through. That other human, however..."

Yusuke slammed his fist on Koenma's desk, startling the Ogre, who sprang back. "Kuwabara is part of my team. I'm not leaving without him."

Koenma sighed, unperturbed, and continued to eat his lunch. "Suit yourself. Just suit yourself somewhere else. You're interfering with my digestion." Ignoring Yusuke's scowl, Koenma popped a grape into his mouth and began chewing.

"Come on, Yusuke," Botan plucked at the boy's sleeve and pulled him toward the door. "We have lots to do if we're going to get the team together and to the tournament by tomorrow. My oar will hold one other person, two at most, and Kurama's the only one of you with a car."

"Rub it in why don't you?" Growled Yusuke, as he allowed himself to be pulled out of Koenma's office.

The next day a small red sports car pulled up outside an abandoned looking shrine outside Tokyo. Its roof swayed lopsidedly over an untended, untrimmed garden of shrubs and weeds, and moss covered the broken roof tiles like an uneven green blanket.

Kurama, a red headed boy with emerald green eyes got out of the driver's side and pulled his seat forward to let Yusuke spring out. Hiei, dressed head to toe in black with a white headband matching the shock of white in his spiky black hair, got out more slowly from the passenger side, leaving Kuwabara to push the other seat forward and climb clumsily out, unbending his long legs as he went.

"Geez, what a dump!" Yusuke observed, glancing at the ruined shrine.

"How come I had to sit in back instead of Hiei?" Complained Kuwabara, leaning over to stretch out his back. "I've got longer legs than he does."

"Because you're a human, human." Growled Hiei.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Kuwabara bristled.

"If you can't figure it out with your limited brain power, I'm not going to tell you." Hiei crossed his arms and glared.

"Are you sure this is the right place?" Yusuke asked Kurama, who was gazing at the plants on either side of the shrine, head slightly cocked, as if listening to them.

"Hmm. Botan's directions were very specific. In fact, you can ask her yourself."

"Hello everyone!" The ferry-girl of the River Styx swooped down on her wooden paddle and came to a stop in front of the boys, slipping off her flying oar with the grace of long practice. Instead of her usual pink kimono, she wore jeans, a tee shirt, and a light jacket.

"Geez, Aren't you afraid someone will see you flying around like that?" Asked Yusuke.

Botan turned to look at him, swishing her long silver pony-tail. "Of course not, silly. Normal humans can't see me while I'm on my oar. "So where's Keiko? Did you have any trouble finding the shrine?"

"Keiko had a test today, so she had to go to school." Yusuke offered.

"But wouldn't that mean that you had a test today too?" Asked Botan.

"Who cares? It's just a test." Yusuke yawned.

"We had no trouble finding the shrine." Kurama answered Botan's second question, distracting her from the scolding she was about to give.

"Well good, then let's be off." Botan marched smartly up to the side wall of the shrine, gestured briefly at what looked to be a blank wall, and then pressed on it, opening up a door shaped like a square. "Well, come on, we're late, so the second to last round has probably already started." She stepped aside and let Kurama and Yusuke enter first. Hiei, scowling, went next, leaving Kuwabara who stopped at the doorway which led to –not the inside of the dilapidated temple- but a grassy meadow with a coliseum style arena in the center. He glanced back at the car and the gardens, then through the portal.

"Uhn! That always freaks me out."

"Koenma said you'd be trouble. In you go!" Botan said, and shoved Kuwabara unceremoniously through the portal.

"Hey! No pushing!" Kuwabara exclaimed as he stumbled on a clump of daisies.

The group walked toward the coliseum, which reverberated with the usual demonic yells and catcalls of a spirit world tournament. As they drew closer, Botan covered her nose with her sleeve, and Kuwabara grimaced.

"What's that smell?"

As they rounded a small hillock, the answer became clear. Next to the coliseum's main entrance lay a pile of demon bodies. Hiei stopped and glanced at it dispassionately.

"That's gross. Don't they have somewhere else to put those things?" Yusuke asked.

"I believe those are the losers." Kurama observed.

"I guess this really is a small time tournament." Said Botan. "The bigger ones have a body disposal service that gets rid of the bodies as they get killed instead of leaving them out until after the tournament's over."

"How long has this thing been going on?" Kuwabara stared disgustedly at the pile.

"Three days." Answered Botan, who walked quickly past the pile and joined Yusuke, Hiei, and Kurama, who were standing in the doorway of the main entrance, watching the end of battle being played out on the arena floor inside.

"Hey, wait up!" Called Kuwabara, dragging his horrified eyes away from the body pile and running to catch up.

Inside the Colisseum, the tail end of a battle raged on. A tall demon, dressed in skin tight black and purple, with the thin physique of a praying mantis was shredding his opponent across the far end of the arena while shrieks emanated from a thick fog like mist obscuring the center area. Closer to the entrance, a small feminine figure with a mass of shaggy brown hair opened a small bag and flung what looked like metallic bits in the air. As she gestured, the metal pieces flew through the air and sliced into a pair of twin rock demons opposing her and the massive demon at her side. The rock demons howled as their cuts began to bleed, which was when the larger demon strode forward, transforming his fists into huge, hammer shaped protuberances, which smashed the rock beasts to pieces.

The shrieking from arena center cut off abruptly, and the mist dissipated, revealing a trollish figure dressed all in grey with masses of wrinkles sagging the skin of his withered face, standing over the body of his beaten foe.

From the loudspeaker, the MC, a worried looking hairy demon attempted to bellow over the roar of the crowd. "And there you have it. The Mist Master's team wins again." The crowd noise heightened considerably as reptilian demons in white jackets lumbered onto the field, grabbing the bodies, and pieces of bodies of the losers and dragging them toward the entrance. Yusuke's team jumped to get out of the way, and walked to the arena edge.

"Let's hear it for the Mist Master's team!" The hairy demon encouraged the crowd un-necessarily, as they were already screaming with typical demonic enthusiasm over the spilled blood. The Mist Master team gathered in the center of the arena. The grey one, obviously the leader, leaning on his staff and smiling ghoulishly, while the tall thin one and the large hammer handed one raised their fists in the air triumphantly. Only the smallest female one seemed unaffected by the victory, standing quietly with her head bent down so that her overly long, shaggy bangs obscured the top half of her face.

"And look! Team Urameshi has arrived!" The hairy demon MC's voice took on a tone of relief as he pointed with one clawed finger at the group standing at the arena's edge. "Here they are, folks. Fresh from their victory at the Dark Tournament, ready and willing to challenge the Mist Master team to the final victory – the Opal of Obfuscation!" The MC gestured, and two black cloaked zombie like judges stepped onto the MC platform bearing a tray, in the middle of which lay a large round cabochon cut white stone which glowed from within.

The crowd went wild again, shrieking their approval or rage, depending on which team they were rooting for, as Yusuke, Hiei, Kurama, Kuwabara, and Botan stepped into the ring. Yusuke moved next to Botan.

"So that's it, huh?" He mouthed in her ear.

Botan nodded, and glanced worriedly at Kuwabara, who was staring at the opal with a rapt expression.

"It's so pretty. It's as big as a noodle bowl!" Kuwabara exclaimed wonderingly. Botan pinched him suddenly on the inner arm. "Ow!"

"Don't look at it," She hissed. "It only affects humans."

"Oh, right." Said Kuwabara, abashed.

When the crowd noises died down a bit, the MC continued. "And now, a surprise announcement. The other judges and I have decided that in light of this last minute addition to our tournament, the rules have now changed. The remaining round will be fought in one-on-one hand to hand combat, and the team with the most members left standing at the end wins!"

"Oh great," Muttered Yusuke. "ANOTHER fight to the death."

The crowd, once again, went wild.

TO BE CONTINUED...