Mole: Pokemon/Digimon Edition
Disclaimer: I don't own it.
The Mole is a fantastic reality television show that is no longer broadcasting in the ABC network. The show's premise is: A number of players work together in challenges to accumulate money in a pot that one winner will take in entirety at the end of the show. However one certain player is hired by the producers to secretly cause sabotages in the game. That player is also known as the Mole.
The identity of the Mole is withheld from the players, and they must observe through actions and hidden clues accurately to determine who the Mole is. Each episode, the players will take a ten questioned quiz about the identity of the Mole, and the player who scores the lowest will be executed until only one winner and one Mole remain at the end.
Sounds confusing? You'll catch on. It is a twisted mind game where you can't trust anybody.
In this fictional edition inspired by the actual game, one predetermined player from either the Pokemon or Digimon cast is selected to play as the role of the Mole. Which of the nine players will find out the identity? And who is the Mole?
Episode 1 – The Biggest Ego
Inoue, Yolei/Miyako (Digimon) --- STILL STANDING
Ishida, Matt/Yamato (Digimon) --- STILL STANDING
Jessie/Musashi (Pokemon) --- STILL STANDING
Katou, Jeri/Juri (Digimon Tamers) --- STILL STANDING
Ketchum, Ash/Satoshi (Pokemon) --- STILL STANDING
Kitagawa, Kenta/Kenta (Digimon Tamers) --- STILL STANDING
Oak, Gary/Shigeru (Pokemon) --- STILL STANDING
Sketchit, Tracey/Kenji (Pokemon) --- STILL STANDING
Takenouchi, Sora/Sora (Digimon) --- STILL STANDING
Waterflower, Misty/Kasumi (Pokemon) --- STILL STANDING
- - -
Standing confidently at the front of a tour bus in his dark navy suit, Yamaki resembled more of an intimidating undercover agent than the friendly face of a reality show host. With his blonde crispy hair and nicely proportioned cheekbones, he would've been quite handsome if not for the angry snarl that he always wore on his face. His tiny evasive eyes stirred behind a pair of black shades, as he quietly analyzed the ten passengers and several discreetly positioned cameramen in the vehicle.
Outside of every bus window was a beautiful display of Niagara Falls with all its magnificent glory. Sounds of the waterfall waves clashing against the jagged cliff rocks could be heard if one listened very closely. Hundreds of tourists and spectators surrounded the waterfall, either snapping pictures with their cameras or just gazing dreamily at one of the world's seven wonders.
Likewise, the ten passengers showed far more interest staring at the waterfall in awe than paying any attention to Yamaki. Some players were whispering excitedly with each other about their upcoming adventure, hopefully leading them into even more spectacular locations in Toronto.
"Two groups of five from the Pokemon and Digimon series will be working together to complete challenges that could earn them to a maximum amount of one million dollars."
As Yamaki spoke in his loud and demanding voice, the ten passengers slowly pulled their eyes away from the windows, putting their attention on the reality show host once again.
"Using their observation skills, the players must try to collect all the possible clues to find out the Mole's secret identity. At the end of each episode, the players will have to take a quiz of ten questions about the Mole. The player who answers the least amount of questions correctly will be executed. Who is the Mole?"
Yamaki paused, with ten unfamiliar faces staring back at him.
"Welcome to Canada. Let the deceiving begin."
- - -
At the back of the bus, Tracey Sketchit watched the charismatic host babbled on with his next few lines. He tried to listen and take note to what Yamaki was actually saying, for it might be useful in the later phases of the game. But like many others, the giddy excitement of participating in the game made it difficult for Tracey to pay any attention whatsoever.
Tracey always thought that reality shows tended to be either too political or too sleazy. The Mole, however, wasn't just any ordinary reality show. It was wholesomely different from Survivor or Big Brother. This was a game for intellectuals, full of mental challenges and mind games. The complex concept of the show was very intriguing for the competitive Pokemon Watcher.
It was Professor Oak who recommended Tracey for the show, boasting about how his faithful assistant would do wonders on a show that dealt with investigative observation. This game was simply made for somebody like Tracey to play, win and dominate. Tracey had been thrilled at the time, if only for hearing the complimentary praises from his respected idol. But with high praises came also the high expectations, and Tracey was starting to feel the pressure. What if he doesn't win the game? What would Professor Oak think of him then? Worst of all…what if he was executed first?
The horror of that! No, he simply cannot think about that!
Tracey looked around the bus to size up his competition, as well as distinguishing some familiar faces from the crowd. He was already taking mental notes down in his head, dismissing the weaklings and highlighting the major players in the game.
Sitting in front of him was Ash Ketchum, the ambitious Pokemon trainer from Pallet Town. The young boy was wearing his token baseball cap on top of his messy scruffy black hair. He pressed his face against the bus window to enjoy a glamorous view of the waterfall.
Not a threat.
Briefly eyeing Misty Waterflower and Jessie from Team Rocket, he quickly skimmed past their faces dismissively as he turned over to the man sitting at the first seat of the aisle. Smirking pompously as if he had a deluded sense of self-importance, Gary Oak was listening attentively to Yamaki's instructions. Tracey's nostrils flared a little with jealousy as he watched the young Pokemon professor, ironically the arrogant grandson of the man he respected the most.
Tracey shifted his head to the other side of the bus, occupied with five foreign strangers he never met before, but that didn't stop the watcher from analyzing. Sitting adjacent to Tracey was Kenta Kitagawa, whose glasses and nervous smile gave him a slightly dorky and awkward appearance. He wore a look of worry on his face and immediately struck Tracey as one of the more vulnerable players of the game.
Not a threat.
There was Jeri Katou, the friendly girl with the pair of innocent big eyes. In her hand was an orange hand puppet, imitating Yamaki accurately as he spoke. From her angelic beaming smile to her conservative green dress, it wasn't difficult for Tracey to immediately label her as the harmless sweetheart.
Not a threat.
Tracey quickly skimmed past a perky girl with energetic purple hair and a handsome blonde with magnetic blue eyes, since Tracey didn't remember either of their names. Besides, he was much more interested with the mild mannered girl sitting at the very front of the bus. She sat in a strict and uptight manner, using her long attention span to capture every word coming out of Yamaki's mouth.
It was hard to capture what Tracey's first impression of Sora Takenouchi was. She was not strikingly beautiful, but there was something very warm and affectionate about her face. Her soft auburn hair rested on her firm shoulders, with tiny delicate curls on its ends. Dressed in a velvet red jacket and a pair of blue jeans, she carried a casual yet trendy in her fashion style that very few people could achieve.
But the most noticeable aspect of her was the soft faint smile on her face. There was just the slightest hint of defiance in that smile, as if it was hiding something conniving underneath. Tracey wasn't the type to draw into quick conclusions, but he knew at that moment he would be keeping a close eye on Sora Takenouchi.
She is definitely the Mole.
- - -
After the obligatory instructions were completed, the players were psyched to finally begin the game. The ever lively Yolei Inoue let out an energetic holler as Yamaki announced their first challenge.
"Your first task is to elect one leader to represent all of you. You have two minutes with your decision," declared Yamaki.
Ash Ketchum proudly erected his body forward from a lazy slouch. Yamaki asked for a natural leader and the young Pokemon trainer believed he fulfilled all the necessary traits of a great leader. He was not afraid to take risks, and he always put others in consideration before himself. Ash had no question in his mind that he would be selected to be the leader. They'd be stupid not to.
"It's obvious who should be the leader of this pack, isn't it?" Gary asked, carrying a pompous smirk on his face.
"No, I don't think so." Jessie abruptly cut in, "You're definitely not a leader."
"Not a good leader," echoed Ash.
Gary rolled his eyes, shifting his body towards the window once more. He wasn't interested in contributing to the discussion if he was excluded from the spotlight.
"I know somebody who is responsible enough to be our representative," said Matt Ishida.
Ash instantly leapt up from his seat. He didn't wait for Matt to call out his name, because he just knew that Matt was talking about him.
"Ash, why are you standing up?" Misty asked, resisting the strong urge to laugh at her friend.
The self-claimed leader scratched his head as he looked around at all the blank faces in the bus. He nervous smiled and eventually dropped back into his seat, ignoring the glances of ridicule from the other players.
Near the back of the bus, Kenta Kitagawa had sunk uncomfortably into his seat, going quite unnoticed by most of the players. No doubts about it, he wasn't a leader in any shape or form. He lacked the courage and the confidence to take the lead. In situations like this, Kenta preferred to be a follower.
"I nominate Sora. She would make an excellent leader," said Matt.
"I second that!" Yolei agreed with a vigorous nod of head.
"Sora would be a good leader. I'm good at reading people," confirmed Tracey, thrusting the third nail into Ash's ego.
Just like that, the group unanimously voted Sora to be their leader. The modest teenager felt a faint smile spread across her lips at her new role. First day of the game and all of the players had already put their absolute trust in her. If Sora Takenouchi was the Mole, they'd all be toast by now.
"Aw thanks guys. I'll try my best," cooed Sora.
The bus suddenly halted, and the new leader followed Yamaki off the bus, excited but unsure at the aspects of her new title.
"Downtown Toronto…this is the eventful quarter of the city where we'll hold our first three challenges," said Yamaki, scanning his eyes around at the tall buildings and busy crowded streets. "But before we do anything, I'd like to make an offer to you."
A grin slowly emerged on Sora's face. She was always ready for surprises.
"As the leader, you'll be making some very difficult choices in this game. Right now, I present to you your first decision," said Yamaki. "You may either choose to add $5,000 into the pot, or get two bonus points on the quiz."
"As the leader, you will be making some very difficult decisions in the game. Right now, I present to you your first decision," said Yamaki, "You may either choose to add $5,000 into the pot, or get two bonus points on the quiz. I will need a response in a minute."
Sora took a glance at the unsuspecting players on the bus, doubtful if they'll ever forgive her if she took the two beneficial bonus points on the quiz. It wasn't a popular way to start the game if all the other players hated her guts for choosing selfishly instead of thinking for the rest of the group.
She knew that the two bonus points will almost be like a free pass to the next round, especially when there are nine other competitors. It would be the smart thing to do, ensuring safety on the first quiz. But on the other hand, Sora felt guilty for letting her team down this early on. After all, they all trusted her to be a responsible leader, and she wasn't ready to disappoint her supporters by making such a selfish move.
Fickle between her two choices, Sora suddenly felt the urge to run up to her boyfriend Matt and asked him to make the decision instead.
"Let's add the money into the pot." Sora looked at Yamaki for his reaction before continuing. "I don't think it's likely I'll be eliminated first, right?"
"Congratulations Sora, you've added your first batch of money into the pot!"
Sora smiled softly. She thought she picked the correct choice, a selfless choice, but she was happy that she didn't let her team down. They'd be proud of what she did.
"For our next part of the challenge, you need to divide the remaining nine players into three categories," said Yamaki, holding up three fingers in his hand. "We need three navigators, three negotiators, three athletes and one damn good leader."
- - -
Yolei Inoue slowly twirled her finger around her around her long and flowing purple hair, gazing absently around the bus. The trio of Ash, Misty and Tracey were chatting quietly together, as was the pair of Tamers at the back of the bus. Gary and Jessie sat alone, both of them feverishly writing inside their journals, a tiny green book that they had been given by Yamaki to assist them with note taking and the overall investigation.
She also had her journal opened to a fresh empty page, but Yolei had no idea what to write down. They were all strangers to her and she knew hardly anything about them beyond first impressions. What else is there to write? Fumbling around with her purple inked pen, she scribbled down the first thing that came up to her mind.
Gary is cute.
Giggling softly to herself, Yolei quickly crossed the sentence out, slightly embarrassed at the fact that she was incapable to meeting a cute guy without instantly having a schoolgirl crush that fogged her judgment. Coming into this game, she knew her biggest obstacle was not losing focus on the real goal of winning this game. The chances of that happening was somewhat diminished though, seeing as her scattered brain was easily distracted at the sight of a handsome man.
Admittedly, it was a shallow and annoying habit that she couldn't seem to grow out of. Before she even knew it, her entranced big eyes were running up and down Gary's body countless times, like a hungry wolf marking its prey. When she came into realization of what she was doing, she quickly turned away, promising to herself to stay focused and not think about Gary ever again.
"Hey Yolei, what's up?" Matt Ishida asked in his normally charming voice. Seeing as Yolei was the only person whom he knew on the bus, the blonde quickly planted a seat beside her in an attempt to start a conversation.
"I'm feeling perfecto!" Yolei laughed airily, happy to have her mind focused on something else instead.
"What do you think about that guy?" Matt lowered his voice to a husky whisper, subtly pointing his thumb over to where Gary was sitting. "That Gary guy acts like he's the Mole."
Yolei sighed, burying her blushing face into her hands. No matter how hard she tried, she just can't escape from thoughts about Gary Oak! All thoughts of competing were immediately pushed aside in disregard from the moment she laid eyes on Gary. Right now, her mind was only buzzing with one thought:
The most important thing about this game is to end up with a cute boyfriend.
But surprisingly enough, Yolei wasn't the only person who seemed to be fascinated with Gary. Ambitious Pokemon trainer Ash was also psyched to meet with Gary again, but for an entirely different and sinister reason: he was going to kick Gary Oak's sorry little ass.
Putting aside his immense dislike against Gary for now, Ash turned to his friends Tracey and Misty and joined in with their conversation.
"As I was saying, an exemption is a free pass to the next round," said Tracey, leaning forward in his seat to chat with Misty. "If you win an exemption, you automatically proceed to the next round."
"I don't get it. What's an exemption again?" Ash asked stupidly, scratching his hand in confusion. The big words are obviously not processing into his head very clearly.
"Never mind, Ash," said Tracey, laughing nervously. He had given up on explaining the simple concept to Ash.
However, Misty Waterflower had no problems following very closely to what Tracey was saying. Seemingly knowledgeable about the concepts and rules of this game, Misty showed enthusiasm at the idea of winning an exemption early in this game.
"But an exemption would be really helpful to have in this game, especially this early on in the game when you don't really know about the other players," said Misty.
"Oh definitely, obtaining an exemption is one step closer to the final round," said Tracey, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.
While Tracey might not be as cutthroat as some of the other players on the bus, he was still a strong competitor who didn't want to lose. Imagine the humility of being executed first in the game! And yet the possibility isn't so farfetched in his head.
What would Professor Oak think of him if he was executed first? Oh no, he simply couldn't be executed first. Tracey wouldn't allow it.
Even if it meant that he will do anything to win the ever valuable exemption.
- - -
Ready to begin the first challenge, Yamaki instructed the nine players to leave the bus. Shy Kenta hid carefully from the sight of the cameramen by hiding behind Tracey's blocky frame, although still in earshot to listen to Yamaki's instructions. Hoping not to be noticed and merely blending in the background, this almost felt like a game for him, hiding from the visibility of the cameras as much as possible.
Yamaki quickly explained Sora's decision of adding $5,000 into the pot by refusing two bonus points on her quiz, which received many claps and hollers from her fellow players. Sora smiled modestly, appreciating the overwhelmingly positive response from her fellow players.
"Sora was then asked to select three navigators to participate in the first challenge," said Yamaki. "That would be Gary, Kenta and Kenji."
Darn it. Kenta sighed, after hearing that his strategy of fading into the background was already foiled.
"Using a map of downtown Toronto, the three navigators will lead their fellow players to a Hilton Hotel, where you lot will be living in for the next several days," Yamaki explained. "All ten of you are expected to arrive at the hotel in an hour. Players not participating in this challenge aren't permitted to talk or assist the navigators in any way. I'll take $1,000 off every time somebody breaks the rule."
"How much money will we be playing for?" asked Gary.
"Sora wagered a certain sum of money into this challenge," Yamaki gave a vague response. "Anyway, let's begin the challenge."
Yamaki handed Tracey a folded map of Toronto, and then silently walked towards the back of the pack. As Tracey unfolded the map, his team members Gary and Kenta slowly joined beside him.
"Just follow us! We'll lead you to the hotel in no time!" Tracey grinned at the pack of players behind him.
Jeri beamed appreciatively at the enthusiasm displayed, fondly connecting with the positive energy that the Pokemon Watcher provided. She couldn't put it into words, but Jeri had no doubts that they were going to ace the challenge with Tracey around.
"We need to locate the hotel," said Gary, sounding very serious and professional. Seconds later, Kenta pointed where the hotel was on the map.
"And then we need to find out where we are," said Tracey. Kenta dashed forward, frantically searching for any street signs around.
Burying his face into the map, Gary scanned over the entire page until he spotted a mysteriously marker highlighted area at the lower right corner. He scrunched up his eyebrows and tapped Tracey on the shoulder.
"What's this?" Gary asked, fingering the faintly green highlight on the map. Brought to attention, Tracey leant in closer to study the mysterious spot as well.
"Light green is the colour of exemptions, right?" asked Tracey. Gary just shrugged, responding with a vague 'Uh, I dunno'.
"It is going to be a long walk, but the directions are easy," said Kenta, returning from his quick search for street signs. Unaware of the new discovery that his two partners have found, he hastily explained where they were. "We need to make a left turn at the next street and walk straight."
Gary's finger was still planted on the highlighted area, mumbling an ambiguous response. Tracey nervously looked at Gary for reassurance before replying back.
"We think this place might have something to do with an exemption," said Tracey quietly.
"Exemptions," corrected Gary with wishful thinking.
"I don't like the idea," Kenta frowned, after studying the map for a few seconds. "It's a completely different route from where the hotel is. We wouldn't have enough time to make it to both places."
"We could make a little detour…it'd be really quick," said Tracey, with no subtlety in his choice of words.
"Let's just go to the hotel," said Kenta. He didn't like the idea of a distraction, knowing that it will throw the group off course – and they haven't even begun the challenge yet!
"Well, I think we should check it, at the very least," suggested Gary.
"I'll go!" Tracey volunteered immediately, his eyes twinkling with hope. All thoughts of the actual challenge vanished, for Tracey suddenly decided he was far more interested going for the exemption instead.
"Wait! I don't think it's a good idea we split up," said Gary, then he added a little impatiently, "Besides, I found the place first."
"It's an ex-emp-tion!" From the way Tracey stressed the final word, one would think it was something that meant life and death to the Pokemon watcher.
"It isn't fair you get an exemption when we don't!" argued Gary, not ready to give up on a confrontation.
But a coy grin appeared on the lenient watcher's face as he spit out two words to Gary's face,
And Tracey dashed off to a different direction, after quickly memorizing over the address of the building. He chuckled slightly as he abandoned the group for his own self interest. The other players all turned to each other with shocked expressions, dropping their mouths in silent surprise at what Tracey just did.
Jeri Katou took Tracey's escape the most emotionally, completely shocked at seeing human nature rearing its ugly end. The little girl with big innocent eyes couldn't believe the quick transition between an enthusiastic team player to the selfish no-good doer in mere minutes. One thing was for sure, first impressions were never accurate.
Looking absolutely flustered that Tracey would just leave them in the middle of their first challenge, Kenta instantly jumped into panic mode. Train of nervous thoughts roared through his meek little head: How were they ever going to finish the challenge? Luckily, a far more calm and collected Gary took reigns of the disaster, hastily steering them on track again. After making a quick recovery from the absence of a third team member, the two navigators continued to lead the group through the busy streets of Toronto.
"We should walk straight ahead, with or without Tracey!" said Gary, waving the map in his hand like a tourist flag. The young confident professor unsurprisingly adopted the role of the leader, especially since Kenta was far too passive and reserved for the job. Although one wouldn't notice from the tone of his solemn voice, Gary was definitely very disappointed at the turn of events in this challenge.
"Neither Kenta nor I took the exemption when we had the chance." Gary would later say in a camera interview, summarizing up mostly everybody's thoughts in the challenge. "Tracey only cares about Tracey, and he doesn't regard jack about anybody else. Sketchit is definitely on my hit list after this."
But nevertheless, the most important thing was that they were making good progress in the challenge as they approached closer and closer to the hotel. However, not all is well and peaceful after Tracey's departure. Striding through the street in her four inched high heels and sweat clinging to her long-sleeved turtleneck sweater, Jessie was growing less comfortable with each passing minute. It boiled down to the point when finally it was too much for Jessie, where she muttered out a soft cuss word that she thought nobody would hear.
Unfortunately, not even the faintest of sounds could escape from Yamaki's delicate ears.
"$1,000 deduction for talking, Musashi," said Yamaki. It came as a kind of a shock to hear the host's voice all of a sudden, since most of the players had forgotten that the host was following behind the rest of the players in the challenge.
Jeri frowned a little at the deduction, trying her best to not snarl at Jessie. The two girls didn't talk once in the game yet, but from what Jeri had been seeing so far, they weren't going to get along.
Burying his head once more in the map, Gary made a confident turn in the left direction, but his partner Kenta looked uncertain with Gary's hasty decision.
"Are you sure we turn left this street? I thought it was the next street," Kenta muttered uneasily, not having enough courage to look at Gary to his face.
Without saying anything, Gary handed the map over to Kenta. The little boy then realized that he was about to give Gary the satisfaction of being right.
"Oh I see. You're right, my bad."
"Good for you."
Ash rolled his eyes behind Gary's back. If Misty hadn't anxiously slapped her hand over his mouth, Ash probably would've told Gary to shove his attitude up a certain place by now. The mouth trainer would be the first to admit that he wasn't a Gary fan, and he probably wasn't alone in the category either.
"Gary bugs me. The way he talks down to people like he's better than the rest of us…I mean, who does that? It's not normal behaviour. He's not a good person at all." Ash explained, venting angrily to the cameras. Normally he wouldn't put so much energy to be negative towards a person, but he made a special exception for Gary.
He pumped his fists into his hand. Ash Ketchum was getting real livid just talking and thinking about his Pallet Town rival.
"What is it with him anyway? Every time he opens his mouth, I want to tell the loser to shut up! Do us all a favour!"
Those were all the words he said in a confessional, but for the sake of the challenge, Ash kept his opinions to himself. Unlike his perception of Gary, Ash prided himself in being a true team player.
The ambitious trainer from Pallet Town hadn't intentionally signed up for the game at first. He had mistaken the application form to be the entry for yet another Pokemon battling tournament. But when he found out that he actually signed up to play The Mole, he knew the offer was too good to back down. In fact, it was such a decent proposal that he reluctantly left the responsibilities of Pikachu and his other Pokemon to Brock in order to participate in this game.
Winning was one major motivation for Ash to leave the Pokemon world for a while to play the game. He loved the sheer victory of pummelling his opponents to bits. He loved the bragging rights to namedrop his successes to random acquaintances he met throughout his journey.
But at the end, it all boiled down to one reason. Ash Ketchum was playing to outlast Gary Oak.
- - -
At last, they've finally arrived at the hotel. The players shuffled into the hotel, breathing in the fresh air of victory. It took them thirty five minutes to arrive at their destination, but they successfully completed their challenge by arriving at the Hilton Hotel on time.
"We're here! We're here!" Kenta shouted happily. Jessie was just glad that they didn't have to do any more walking.
"Yay! We won our first challenge!" Jeri laughed, engaging everybody in a cheer.
"$1,000 deduction to Juri for speaking before the challenge is over," said Yamaki unexpectedly.
In shock, Jeri turned to her fellow players with a puzzled face. She didn't understand about the deduction. Weren't they finished with the challenge?
"The challenge isn't over yet," said Gary in a slightly irritated voice. "The horrid monstrosity that is Tracey isn't here yet, and all ten of us need to be here in order to win."
"Damn it," muttered Matt. It was one of the few cuss words that he wished he could immediately retract. Yamaki caught it immediately.
"That will amount to another deduction, another $1,000 out the pot!"
Five minutes passed, then another five. The players wandered anxiously around the hotel, waiting impatiently for Tracey to enter through the door any minute now. After losing $3,000 in penalties, the players learned their lessons and obediently kept their mouths shut. But Tracey never showed up from wherever he went, and as the clock quickly ticked to its last few minutes, it seemed like a loss, on their first challenge, was inevitable.
Although words couldn't be expressed, what the players were feeling was unanimous. Betrayed, furious and exhausted, there was only one person in their minds that could be blamed for the entire loss. He abandoned the group for an exemption and he didn't come back on time, just as Kenta had predicted. Tracey Sketchit didn't even know that he was already labelled as the most hated player of the game.
He didn't show up at the door until twenty minutes after the challenge was lost. Wearing a satisfied smile on his face, he soon realized that he was the only person in the room that was smiling. But he ignored their long faces, for nothing could bring down the Pokemon Watcher's spirits today. There it was in his hand, a green card that contained the word "exemption" on it. His promised was fulfilled; Tracey wouldn't be the first person executed from the game.
"Congratulations to Kenji for obtaining the exemption at our mysterious location!" said Yamaki, patting Tracey on the back. The Pokemon watcher grinned bashfully to his achievement. "But unfortunately you did not arrive at the hotel on time, so therefore the challenge is lost. Also, the group will be deducted $3,000 as a penalty for talking."
Tracey took a sideways glance at the players that he abandoned an hour ago, and it was shocking to him that the welcoming faces he saw an hour ago were now changed into deathly glares and unhappy frowns. Some, like Matt and Jessie, looked like they were ready to throw a few punches in his smiling face.
But Tracey knew that he was the only person who would definitely be in the next round.
And for that, he was happy.
"Screw them. I don't care what they think," Tracey said to the cameras, emphasizing his first word. He leant back in his chair, fiddling with his chubby little fingers playfully. "They could hate me all they want, but somebody is getting executed and it isn't going to be me. Instead of focusing their anger on me, they should actually worry about staying in the game first! Ha!"
Tracey chuckled mockingly. He knew Professor Oak would be proud.
"If any of them think I am the Mole after this challenge, then I'm killing two birds with one stone. Let them get delusional in the game, ha!
- - -
After being kept speechless for an entire hour, the players were very chatty and talkative during their lunch break. All of the players were using this time to know each other better, except for Tracey, who stayed in his room and claimed that he wasn't hungry.
"He's probably to face us like a real man," said Gary.
Yolei smiled dreamily, nodding to every word that Gary says. Her early crush on Gary only deepened, especially after his heroic attempt to win the challenge earlier today.
"Whoever the Mole is here, just make sure Tracey goes home the next week," said Matt, and then shared a good laugh with Gary. The two men seemed to be clicking with each other through their similar styles in thinking.
But some of the other players were feeling quite averse to joining in the Tracey-bashing. Misty and Ash kept quiet, obviously not wanting to say anything bad about their friend. There were several times when Ash clutched his fist tightly and opened his mouth to argue in Tracey's defence, but Misty was quick to stomp her foot on Ash's shoe to prevent him from ruining their first pleasant meal together as a group. Group harmony, in her opinion, was the top priority.
"Nothing brings the group more together than a common enemy, I guess." Sora shrugged as she gave a camera confessional. The kind-hearted leader also had an individual take on the whole situation. "I think it's a bit harsh at the way they're treating him…but hey, I'm not going to act self-righteous and tell them how immature they're behaving. I'm not the person who'll regret what I see on television later."
From the moment she entered the show, Sora was very conscious with how the cameras were going to portray her on television. It was her main fear when she applied on the show with her boyfriend, because she was afraid that they would edit in a bad personality, a false one, for her.
She was only being herself after all, but she also didn't want to say anything that she would regret later on. Besides, she understood what Tracey had to do in this game, but she didn't quite understand why the players were being so brutal against Tracey, with the gang mentality and all.
"It's always just a game for me," Sora gave a small smile to the cameras. "I guess some people forget about that."
After the brief lunch break, all ten players were aboard on the bus again, driving to their next destination. During the ride, Misty and Yolei broke the gap between Pokemon and Digimon series by sitting beside each other. Purple haired Yolei found an instant liking for the fiery redhead, appreciating her assertiveness and their many similar traits and interests.
"Tell me what you think of Gary," said Yolei giggly, turning their conversation into the subject that she found fascinating. In her mind, Gary was still an enigma, a challenge and a potential boyfriend.
"He isn't my type, too egoistical," Misty scrunched up her face in reply. Like Ash, she never liked the conceited little prick.
"He did a pretty good job in the challenge though."
"Is Tracey really as bad as he seems?" Yolei asked, changing the topic.
"No, he is misunderstood. That's all."
And as much as Yolei wanted to carry on the conversation, she was finding it difficult to acquire any valuable information from her new friend Misty. They could have a smoothly flowing conversation just fine when they were talking about irrelevant topics to the game, but as soon as Yolei tried to learn more about the Pokemon cast, Misty would clam up and give out short vague answers.
"My strategy is to befriend everybody and learn more about their backgrounds, but Misty is making it so difficult for me to know everybody." Yolei explained in her confessional, sounding slightly baffled. "We could talk for hours about stupid things like clothes or sports, but her lips are sealed when it comes down to talking about her friends. I mean, the girl is great but she is driving me crazy!"
But Yolei liked Misty enough, and she continued to play in her charade. May be in enough time, she will be able to break down Misty's barrier of distrust for her, or at least that was what Yolei optimistically hoped for.
Misty knew exactly what Yolei was doing, and the feisty gym leader did not plan to tell her new friend a single thing.
After a two hour drive or so, the players finally arrived at their second destination for the day. Instantly, the players oohed and ahhed in fascination as the bus came to a slow stop in front of the world's tallest freestanding structure.
"This is the CN Tower," said Yamaki. But once again, the players were too busy gawking out the windows to pay attention to their host. "Standing over 1800 feet tall, it truly is one of Toronto's prime spots."
"That's awesome," muttered Kenta, grinning from ear to ear.
"For the next challenge, three athletes will need to climb over 1770 steps to reach the observation deck. If all of them finish the climb in less than twenty eight minutes, you will add more money into the pot," explained Yamaki. ""The three athletes are Miyako, Satoshi and Yamato. You will be starting your challenge at the base of the tower. The rest of us will wait for your arrival at the observation deck."
"Yeah! We'll win this!" bellowed Ash at the back of the bus. He was psyched to finally participate in a challenge, rather than watching from the sidelines.
"Good luck, everyone!" Sora added encouragingly. Then, she turned to her boyfriend and gave him a quick sweet peck on the cheeks.
"Whoa! I feel energized now! I'm ready to win, baby!" Matt laughed, returning the kiss in favour.
By the time they were about to begin the challenge, the atmosphere in the bus was swarming with positive thinking and higher spirits never experienced before. Looking forward to a first win, their previous loss was forgotten through the cheering and laughing going on. Nine of the players were certain that they were going to have a hands-down first victory.
Only the tenth player was silently anticipating for a second loss.
- - -
At the base of the tower, bus driver Riley was preparing the three runners for the upcoming challenge. Eager to get started, Ash was doing some warming up exercises and stretches before the run. At a faraway corner where Matt and Yolei were standing, the pair was having an intimate and suspicious conversation with each other. Every now and then, Ash would turn around and see Matt running a hand through his golden blonde hair, while Yolei would giggle girlishly in response and twirl her long delicate fingers around her shirt collar.
"We are about to start the challenge. The three of you will be starting this race at the same time," said Riley. "The obvious direction is to run up the stairs until you hit the marker, but remember…safety first."
Nodding in response, the three players scurried to the front of the staircase, prepared to begin the race. Ash already had his foot on the first step, ready to dart forward at the moment when Riley gives the signal.
"On your marks…get set…GO!"
The players leaped forward and began jogging up the tower. Ash took a margin lead over Matt and Yolei, hopping two or three steps at a time. Following energetically behind, Yolei and Matt were slowly pacing themselves as they ascended, jogging comfortably at a slow but steady speed.
"It's not a race, Ash! Conserve your energy!" Yolei screamed, but the active Pokemon trainer was already three floors above the duo.
"Did Ash know the tale of Tortoise and the Hare?" Matt asked with a small chuckle. He was taking this race like a casual power walk.
"I'd say not! That kid has a lot of energy to burn down." Yolei laughed, shaking her head in dismissal. She didn't like how Ash was only thinking short term in the race, because he was obviously going to run out of energy halfway through the course.
"It's not a sprint…it's a damn long marathon," mumbled Matt ominously.
While the three runners were jogging up the tower, the other players were waiting for them at the observation deck, hoping they'd arrive in less than twenty eight minutes. However, things were about to change when Yamaki stepped out of the glass elevator, carrying three green journals in his hand.
"Hello players. While the three players are running the race, we'll begin our third challenge as well." Yamaki smirked slyly. "Sora selected three negotiators, and they were Juri, Musashi and Kasumi. Please come over."
Exchanging confused looks with each other, the three girls slowly walked towards their host with a heavy aura of suspicion. They were then instructed to each take a journal from Yamaki's hand. Jessie made the initiative to take the green journal furthest away from where she was standing, while Misty picked the middle one and gave Jeri the remaining book.
"On the first page of your journals, there'll be one word written inside the first page. It could be one of three words: money, exemption or power," explained Yamaki. "Please open to your first page and read your message, but don't show it to anybody."
Misty quickly flipped to the first page of her given journal, taking a swift glance and then immediately slamming the book close. Jeri wore an anxious look on her face after reading what was in her journal, while Jessie smiled impishly at her results.
"May the player with power written on her book please raise their hand?"
Who is it? Who is it?
Gary Oak watched the three girls' movement very closely under his careful analytic eyes. He saw how Jeri was nervously twiddling her fingers, how Jessie's eyelashes were fluttering rapidly, and how Misty was standing with perfect calmness…what could this all mean? But as much as the young researcher took pride in his detecting skills, he was clueless. He had no idea which girl had which item in their journals.
And just this morning, Gary thought he had this little mind game wrapped in his hands. There was no way any of these players could ever fool the teenage mastermind. The second Gary laid eyes on the Mole would be the exact moment the winner was pronounced in this game.
"Crown me as the winner," Gary had arrogantly said in a confessional. "Or the entire game is pointless. I could care less if I was executed first if I'm not going to win."
Gary Oak was born a winner.
Yet the Johto League loss still haunted him to this very day, and it hurt so much more to be defeated in the incompetent hands of his bumbling archrival, Ash Ketchum. So Gary was suspicious at first when his grandfather told him about the game, questioning Professor Oak's ulterior motives. He didn't want to lose again in front of an audience, and his bloated self-esteem couldn't endure another humiliating defeat again. It was almost as if Gary prioritized not losing above winning itself.
Because even though Gary was born a winner, he was also a very sore loser.
"Who has power written in their journal?"
A meek little hand raised in uncertainty, as everybody's heads turned to that direction at once. That hand belonged to a nervous looking Jeri Katou, trying very best not to do anything stupid in the challenge.
"Juri, you've the power." Yamaki began, "In Kasumi and Musashi's hands are the two remaining journals, containing either the money or an exemption. By the end of five minutes, you're asked to pick one of the journals. If you pick the journal with money, a certain amount of money will be added."
Juri gulped, not liking the new power that she was presented with.
"But if you choose the journal with the exemption, no money will be added. In addition, that player will also win the exemption consisted inside her journal."
Misty immediately turned her head to shoot Jessie a dirty glare.
"Ladies, you've a few minutes to present your case to Juri why she should pick you over the other players. You may begin the challenge."
Taking a deep and nervous breath, Misty instantly locked her intense eyes with Jeri. The Cerulean gym leader knew that eye contact would be essential in order for Jeri to believe in her.
"I have the money."
Jessie scoffed in agitation, but bided her tongue from leashing her strong opinions.
"You may not know me very well yet, Jeri." Misty wore a genuine smile on her face, brushing a few strands of hair from her eyes. "But I'm not a very good liar. I don't have the exemption, and you're hearing nothing from me but the truth."
Jessie heard enough from the loudmouth twerp. She wasn't going to wait any longer for that pile of bullshit to sink into Jeri's head.
"I know that twerp is lying her ass off," said Jessie angrily. "I've the money inside my journal, not hers."
"You're the one who's lying." Misty retorted quickly, rolling her eyes.
"She is lying through her teeth," Jessie warned cautiously. "You may choose to believe me, or you may trust that dishonest scumbag."
"Don't pick her, Jeri. You'll regret it."
"Lies, lies and lies!" Jessie positioned her hand inches in front of Misty's face.
"Believe me, Jeri!"
"She is lying."
"No matter what you say, I'm telling the truth!"
"The only thing you were honest about is that you were an awful liar."
Sora made a face as the two women continued to talk over each other in this heated verbal argument. She didn't like the intensity of the challenge at all, and she knew very well that Jeri was in a positive ten times worse. Suddenly, she felt awful assigning Jeri into this negotiating challenge.
"Ladies, that's enough," said Yamaki, acting as the moderator of this argument.
Jeri appeared even more agitated than before, failing miserably to read the expressions on both women's faces. Jessie poised her head high, confidently thrusting her chest forward. Misty carried an emotionless face, but her keen eyes never averted its gaze from Jeri. She was also mouthing two words to Jeri: Believe me.
Was the liar Jessie, the sassy Team Rocket villain who had years of criminal background to deceive even as she slept? Or was the liar Misty, proving to Jeri once again that her first impression of people was never accurate?
"It is time for you to make a decision, Juri," said Yamaki.
"I pick Misty's journal," mumbled Jeri. After weighing out her options, she finally came out with an answer – she just hoped that it was the right one.
Jeri closed her eyes, hoping to feel better about the results if she never knew the answer. Curiosity eventually kicked in, and she peeked through a small gap between her fingers. Jessie had thrown her arms up in the air and plopped on a chair in defeat, whereas Misty was smiling in an almost too guilty manner, slowly turning to the first page of her journal.
There was only one word printed inside the entire page: EXEMPTION
Jeri's stomach dropped as she read the word over and over again. By making the one most important wrong choice, she failed the challenge, she failed to impress the others and most importantly, she failed herself.
"I told you so," muttered Jessie angrily.
"The pot remains at $2,000, but Kasumi wins the second exemption of the day." Yamaki announced.
Sora immediately gave Jeri a quick hug after seeing that small tears formed in the little girl's eyes. Jeri was just a kid, and Sora felt that she doesn't deserve to feel like this on the first day.
"You sure fooled me." Tracey chuckled, patting Misty on the back, but she was looking very remorseful with what she had done.
While the other players hovered around the distraught Jeri to console her with kind encouragement, Jessie angrily stomped away in defeat. It wasn't even their second consecutive loss that made Jessie so ticked, but it was the fact that everybody blamed Jessie as the villain who made poor innocent Jeri cry.
"That scrawny little twerp is crying her eyes out to get shit sympathy because she screwed up the challenge," hissed Jessie venomously in a camera confessional. She was probably the only person who didn't emphasize with Jeri for the loss. But then again, Jessie was never a very forgiving person.
Didn't the same pack of players cruelly crucify Tracey when he lost the first challenge for an exemption? Why weren't they giving the same treatment to an equally responsible Misty or Jeri? Jessie absolutely hated the hypocritical way these players played the game, and she hated Jeri even more for using her false crocodile tears to manipulate the others. Was Jessie the only person who could see what was going on?
"If that's the treatment they're going to give me, then fine." Jessie pursed her lips. "I wasn't planning to play the game this way, but they're forcing my inner bitch to come out."
And then Jessie smirked, and the furiously Team Rocket member wagged her index finger disapprovingly in the air. It was an ominous sign for things to come in the future.
"Nobody messes with Jessie."
- - -
But though they were upset about their second loss, most of the other players still had high hopes for the third challenge that was still undergoing. It had been over twenty minutes since they've started, and they were all anxiously waiting for the three runners to emerge out of the staircase any minute now. Yamaki and Riley stood right by the exit, both holding a stopwatch in their hands, ready to record the players' finishing times.
It was a few minutes after when the first player emerged out of the staircase with a charming smile on his face. It was Matt Ishida, and he didn't look like he broke a sweat in the entire run. Running easily ran across the finish line and leapt right into his girlfriend's embrace.
"What's the time?" Yamaki asked.
On a mobile chalkboard placed conveniently behind her, Riley wrote down the time read on her stopwatch: Matt – 21m46s
Matt grinned happily, gulping down some water from the bottle that Sora prepared for him. No sooner did the players finished celebrating before a second figure emerged from the exit. Sweating slightly, Yolei Inoue managed to finish the race as well. She anxiously turned to Yamaki and Riley for her finishing time.
Riley checked her stopwatch and compared the time with Yamaki. They finally agreed and Riley wrote down: Yolei – 23m16s
"Yes!" Yolei pumped her fist energetically in the air. Taking this golden opportunity to approach closer to Gary, she launched her sweaty body around unexpectedly around the professor in an awkward hug.
Finally, Ash pathetically took his last few steps through the finish line a few minutes later. He looked exhausted and the bright energy that he had at the beginning of the race vanished completely, just as Matt and Yolei predicted long ago. It was such a disgraceful display that it made Gary's heart jump in joy. Ash's impulsive running at the start of the race took a huge stressful tow on his otherwise athletic body, and it was his lack of long term thinking that made him the slowest runner out of the three.
Riley finally scribbled on the chalkboard: Ash – 24s02s
"Yolei beat you," said Gary delightfully.
"By like, fifty seconds!" Ash angrily retorted, wiping sweat from his forehead with a towel.
"Congratulations players! Since you have all completed the course below twenty eight minutes, you've successfully added money into the pot! This is your first win!" Yamaki announced happily.
Matt gave both Ash and Yolei an ecstatic high-five, with complimentary clapping from the rest of the players. They finally accomplished their first victory in today!
"But there's one more offer I've to make to our top finisher." Yamaki slowly turned over to face Matt. "Yamato, I'll offer you an exemption at the expense of the money bet in this challenge."
"No." Matt abruptly replied, not allowing Yamato elaborate on the details any longer. He'd never pass out a chance that'd allow him to look like the good guy in a situation. "We worked to hard to finally win a challenge, and I'm not going to be the one to give it up."
All the players erupted in joyful cheers, chanting Matt's name as if he was the saviour of the day. Sora planted a huge slobbering kiss on Matt's cheeks as a reward.
"Sora bet $30,000 on this tower climbing challenge. Since it was a victory and Yamato sacrificed his proposal, the money will be fully added into the pot," said Yamaki. "However, you've failed the other two challenges and the money bet - $10,000 on the navigating challenge and $20,000 on the negotiator challenge, won't be added into the pot unfortunately."
It was a mixed response. Although they were still in glee at their recent victory, their previous losses seemed to have disappointed several of the players. Smirking evilly, Yamaki continued his speech while a few of the players were still celebrating.
"After dinner, we'll have our first execution quiz. Somebody will be going home tonight," said Yamaki. He had been dying to say these words for a very long time.
And suddenly nobody felt like celebrating anymore.
- - -
The players had a few hours of spare time before their upcoming execution quiz, and most of them spent this time studying their notes in their journals. A few of them took the quiz a lot less seriously, like Ash and Kenta, and the two boys have decided to slack off studying in order to wander aimlessly around the CN Tower and hang out at the arcade.
"Great job on the challenge today, Ash!" Kenta grinned enthusiastically, pressing a few random buttons on an arcade machine. Standing beside him, Ash responded with a boyish grin.
Easygoing and thick skinned, Ash Ketchum was a simple person to please. The active Pokemon trainer was fond of his new friend Kenta ever since the timid boy led the group successfully into the hotel at the first challenge (although Ash conveniently discredited fellow team member Gary). Even though Kenta didn't succeed in that challenge, his hard trying effort definitely won over Ash's respect. Ash always liked people who tried their best at everything and never surrender to a loss.
"Tell me more about the Pokemon world!" Kenta said encouragingly, attempting to start a friendly conversation between the two of them.
Ash's face lit up with interest, his eyes sparkling at the sound of the word. If there was one thing he could go blabbering hours and hours endlessly, it would've been Pokemon – his life and destiny.
"This is my Pikachu!" Ash boasted proudly as he showed a photo of his Pokemon in his wallet. "Pikachu is my best buddy."
"That's awesome." Kenta grinned, adjusting his glasses as he took a closer look at the picture. "Does it really shoot jolts though?"
"Oh yeah, Pikachu can do a lot of attacks!" Ash nodded vigorously, counting a list of attacks with his fingers. "There's Thunderbolt, Iron Tail, and a lot more!"
"Awesome," repeated Kenta, carefully returning the wallet to Ash. He then added with a dreamy smile. "I really hope I can go to the Pokemon World someday. Everything there sounds so surreal."
"You know what?" Ash chuckled softly, pulling out a red gadget from his jacket pocket. "I'll give you my Pokedex and you can check out some of the Pokemon overnight."
"I like Ash a lot!" Kenta confessed, showing off his new present in front of a cameraman. "I think he's a really cool guy and I can learn a lot from him. He talks about all these exciting gym battles and adventures when he's off exploring and stuff. All of his stories amaze me."
Kenta had never been the most outgoing person, and he never made many friends because of his timid nature. He liked Ash for warmly opening up to him, he really did. But as he continued on with his confessional, Kenta wore a sheepish smile on his face.
"But Ash is so genuine and so straight forward that I don't think he could possibly be the Mole," said Kenta, shaking his head. "Ash is not the Mole."
Elsewhere in the tower, two very unlikely characters were meeting up with each other in a leisurely scroll across the observation deck. Her boyfriend Matt was studying over some notes in his journal, but Sora felt that it was more important to learn more about the other players in a less textbook manner.
"Toronto is gorgeous," said Sora dreamily. Standing beside her, Jessie nodded silently in agreement.
After deeming the rest of the players not worthy of her time, Jessie was very standoffish towards everybody in the game, so she was pleasantly surprised when Sora approached her for an actual conversation outside challenges – the first conversation that she had since she arrived in this game.
"You're hoping that your cute little boyfriend is here with you instead of me, right?" Jessie finally said at last, nudging Sora in the shoulder slightly.
"Of course not, I love your company Jessie!" Sora shook her head and then paused for a few seconds before admitting, "Okay, may be just a little."
Sora looked at Jessie timely for her reaction, hoping that she didn't say anything to offend the Team Rocket member. But Jessie was smiling delicately, seemingly not affected much by the truth.
"If you've to choose between Matt and a million dollars, which will you pick?" Jessie asked.
"Call me crazy, but I'll choose Matt over the cash," Sora replied instantly.
"You are crazy!" Jessie laughed, nudging Sora once more in the shoulder.
"I know, but I can't help it. I just feel so…happy when I'm with Matt," said Sora, smiling weakly.
Hearing footsteps approaching them, the two women turned around to find Yamaki standing politely behind them.
"Good evening ladies," said Yamaki. "I've one final twist before the first execution for Sora."
"Of course you do," grunted Jessie, folding her arms.
"At the end of your reign as leader, I'm giving you one last assignment. Sora, you've the power to remove an exemption from either Kenji or Kasumi, or you can add $5,000 into the pot. I'll need a reply in one minute," explained Yamaki.
"Being a leader sucks," laughed Sora.
"This is an easy one." Jessie said dismissively, wagging her index finger in front of Yamaki's face. "I'll take the twerps' exemptions away in a heartbeat."
"But I can only take away one exemption." Sora mumbled unsurely. "Do I take it from Tracey, or do I take it from Misty?"
"It's your call, I they both deserved it after sabotaging the challenges. I personally suggest the twerp Misty." Jessie shrugged. She knew that she'd jump at any chance to take away an exemption from a twerp.
"You don't understand, Jessie. This is like playing favourites, because I'm only taking one exemption from one person and not the other. How would Misty feel if I stripped her exemption and kept Tracey's?" Sora shook her head, sounding very distressed.
"Hey, it's just the game. Besides, it will increase our chances of surviving the execution," persuaded Jessie.
"No! I can't do it," said Sora sternly. "They earned it, Jessie. Both Tracey and Misty performed their duties and they earned their exemptions," said Sora.
Awestruck by her decision beyond disbelief, Jessie looked at Sora as if to tell her that she was making the wrong decision. But she kept quiet and only begrudgingly nodded her head to Sora's response, not wanting to scare Sora into doing something she didn't want. After all, she did kind of like Sora, especially since she was the only person who took the effort to know her.
"They elected me as the leader, and I've to deal with this responsibly." Sora explained to both Jessie and Yamaki, although it seemed more like she was also trying to explain to herself, "I can't do it, Yamaki."
"Alright," said Yamaki, nodding approvingly. "Kasumi and Kenji will get to keep their exemption, thanks to you. Congratulations for adding another $5,000 into the pot."
Soon afterwards, the players were having a chatty dinner right before their first execution quiz. Not coincidentally enough, the two players with an exemption were also the most talkative players around the table. Misty and Tracey were involved with conversations everywhere, content to be excluded from the heated pressure around the table. They didn't know that their exemptions were put at risk only minutes ago, and they were lucky to be still exempt because of Sora's kindness.
"In a few moments, you'll be taking your first execution quiz. Ten questions about the Mole. The player who scores the lowest will be executed from the game," said Yamaki, slowly arriving at dining table where all the players were at. "Before the quiz though, I'd like to inform you that your leader Sora had added an additional $5,000 in order to keep both Kasumi and Kenji's exemptions intact. She had the power to remove one of your exemptions, but she refused this tempting offer."
"Thank goodness I still have my exemption." Tracey sighed in relief before sinking his seat to avoid more leers and sneers from the other players.
"I'm really thankful that Sora decided to let me keep my exemption, but it seems suspicious that she would let such an opportunity slip away," admitted Misty, having her own unique take on Sora's decision. "May be she is just that nice, but I think it may not be as much as of a heroic move than a strategic move to hinder suspicion."
After the announcement, the players returned to their conversations, although the mood was visibly more subdued. They finally came to realize that one unlucky person would be executed tonight, and everybody hoped to that it wouldn't be them taking the walk of shame – everybody except for one person. Sitting quietly in her seat and eating very little from her plate, Jeri still appeared shaken up by her challenge loss earlier today.
"I was such a letdown at the challenge," Jeri said uncomfortably to the cameras, "But Jessie should have tried harder to convince me; she didn't prove a strong case to me."
But deep inside, Jeri knew she messed up the challenge. Although nobody said a word about it – they all knew that she was sensitive about the loss – she believed that the others were all insulting her behind her back.
"I don't want to be underestimated," said Jeri sternly. "I know everybody thinks I'm no more than just a little girl at this point, but I want to prove them wrong. I want to be given the chance to prove them that I could win challenges. I am NOT a liability."
But it was only minutes away from the first quiz, and Jeri Katou didn't believe at all that she would survive the execution.
- - -
In individual rooms of CN Tower, eight of the players were now taking their first execution quiz on a computer.
Jeri Katou swiftly scanned the first question on her computer screen: What gender is the Mole? She clicked Female.
"I've my doubts about Jessie. She cheats, she lies, and she sabotages. Her past record as a Team Rocket member is too much to ignore. Her actual occupation in real life fits perfectly into what the Mole is supposed to do in this game."
Gary Oak clicked Did not participate in challenge for question number four.
"I play this game by looking in places where other players may have overlooked. For example, Misty sabotaged the second challenge by lying in order to win an exemption. If she would've played along and confessed that she didn't have the money in her journal, we would've won that challenge effortlessly. And then there was Jeri, who was either naïve or the Mole to actually believe Misty's story. The two of them definitely top my suspicion list."
Sora Takenouchi clicked No for question number seven.
"Can I trust Matt? He might cuddle with me and assure me otherwise, but I should know better than to trust somebody in this game. I can't trust anybody and it scares me how close I am to Matt. My boyfriend could be the Mole, and I'll come off as the duped girlfriend who didn't have a clue."
Ash Ketchum moved his cursor between Yes and No for question number seven before finally clicking Yes.
"I only know some of the players for a day, and that's not enough time to form a judgment about a person, let alone the Mole! So I'm going with my gut on this whole first quiz."
Matt Ishida's hand was running through his blonde spiked hair as he read the eighth question of the quiz: Did the Mole act as a navigator in the "Lost in Toronto" challenge?
"Tracey was where the problem originated in our first challenge. It might've been disguised as a selfish action to take the exemption and therefore abandoning the money. Sacrificing money for the exemption could possibly be cover-ups for Mole sabotages. Thinking about it, it kind of makes sense, doesn't it?"
Jessie's face was resting in her palms in an uninterested manner as she clicks her answer for the final question of the quiz: Who is the Mole?
"I've my suspicions early in this game, but I'm a wise enough chick to not put all my eggs in one basket. I'm going to spread my answers out. My goal for the first couple of executions is just merely to survive. As time comes and the numbers narrow down, I'll then start analyzing the remaining players one by one."
- - -
In a single file, the players sat in adjacent seats to each other, facing across a huge monitor and a desk that filled up an empty open area. Yamaki entered, sitting down behind a black desktop on his desk. The so-called grim reaper was about to start his first execution.
"Welcome to your first execution, players. For one of you, your journey ends here. I will randomly begin typing your names into the computer. When your name comes up and if the screen flashes green, you're safe. If the screen flashes red, you're the Mole's first victim."
Yamaki tapped his fingers on the keyboard, eyeing the players and finally targeting one.
Ash confidently straightened his posture as he waited for his results to show up on the monitor. Yamaki began typing each letter of his name into the laptop.
The screen flashed red.
Ash's eyes blinked at the red monitor screen for a few seconds. He was still waiting for the results to sink slowly into his head. Finally, he grinned stupidly, slowly getting up from his seat.
"Ash, you are the Mole's first victim. You have been executed from the game, please come with me."
He turned around to see the gleeful look on his rival Gary's face, who wore a cheerful smirk and clapping silently to Ash's departure. Ash hated the victory smirk on his face because he had given Gary the satisfaction of gloating and bragging about this victory in the future. Gary had won the short lived battle between the two Pallet Town rivals.
But taking the high road, Ash took his defeat in stride. He shook hands with all of the players, muttering "Good game" to each of them along the way. He singled Gary out of the farewell for obvious reasons. After exchanging long handshakes with Misty and Tracey, Ash waved a final goodbye and walked with Yamaki to the glass elevator.
"To tell you the truth, I'm still waiting for my name to come up!" Kenta laughed nervously to the cameras as he gave his thoughts on Ash in a farewell interview. "But seriously, Ash was awesome. He was somebody I could proudly look up to and say I want to be just like you."
Misty sighed as she slumped into her chair, speechless. Here she was, sitting pretty with an exemption in her hands, knowing that she wouldn't be going anywhere tonight. But she would've never expected the fatal axe to fall on her dear friend Ash instead. Why must fate work this way? She looked at the camera with a remorseful smile.
"This is a wake up call for all of us," said Misty sadly. "It's a competition and someone always has to go first."
- - -
Ash and Yamaki were waiting at the parking lot for the tour bus to arrive. The young Pokemon trainer nodded awkwardly as he shamefully looked at the ground. He knew he wanted to take this defeat like at triumphant and mature loser, but deep inside his ego was still a little bruised. Out of the ten players in this game, he was ejected from the game first. And most of all, his long time rival Gary was still in the game, probably laughing in mockery as he waited here for the bus.
"Anything you'd like to say before you go?" Yamaki asked, sensing the rare silence in the normally talkative Ash.
Ash played around with his baseball cap and finally grinned. He wasn't going to let Gary Oak spoil his night any longer. Gary could laugh all he want inside his miserable world, because Ash was almost confident that his rival will be executed next.
"It was a great experience. I wished I didn't have to get executed first, because I expected it could have been loads of fun," replied Ash.
Hesitating, he didn't want to say this, but Ash felt the need to leave the game with a hint of resentment towards his long time rival.
"Oh, and I'm a better person than Gary will ever be."
The mini tour bus slowly approached the pair, its door mechanically opening. Ash took a deep breath before marching proudly towards the bus.
"Any regrets before leaving?" Yamaki asked.
"I'm a little upset that I am first." Ash admitted, smiling bitterly at the cameras. "And the arrogant Gary is still in the game. But I'll get over it."
"Sorry it had to end this way," said Yamaki apologetically.
"No, no. I had fun while I was here. That's what makes the entire journey worthwhile!" Ash waved his hand dismissively.
"You got to see Niagara Falls and the CN Tower before you leave, eh? Not too shabby," said Yamaki.
"Eh?" Ash made a funny face before walking into the bus.
Yamaki bashfully nodded, watching the bus door closing automatically behind Ash. In a matter of seconds, the tour bus drove away slowly into the lonely streets of Toronto.
END OF EXECUTION #1
Episode: A Cry for Wolf
Straight after their first execution, three players have to participate in a gruesome endurance challenge, where one player takes the opportunity to form multiple coalitions with the women. Will this plan backfire?
Here's the lengthy introduction to this episode, but I tried my best to fit all of the characters in and build them up. Long gone the script form! Unfortunately, four characters have to be removed from the old series that weren't fitting into the right places: James, Kari, Brock and Rika. It's a case of quality over quantity. The good news is that I'll now have more space to focus on the other characters, so everybody wins?
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