Heartshield 02

Chapter 14: Weaker

Shun Kakei

I sat in between Mizumachi and Onishi during the Deimon/Dokubari game staring down at the little imposter that pretended to be Eyeshield 21. Deimon was behind and they were struggling hard. The Scorpion's played dirty to make up for what an unimpressive team they were. I had heard a rumor that they tried to get Zokugaku kicked out of the tournament for fighting right before our match against them. "They're not very impressive. How have they even gotten this far?" Mizumachi scoffed as he cleaned out his ear with his pinky.

"Yoichi Hiruma." I leaned forward. "And he didn't even show up. Look at their line. They're pathetic. The only one worth anything is Kurita and even he's having a hard time."

"Do you just talk a lot of shit when you get nervous or something?" A female voice whispered in my ear. When I glanced over, a girl stood over me. I had seen her spectating Deimon's games and sitting on the field but I didn't know who she was. I just knew that she worked alongside both the manager and coach. I felt like I should have known, but I couldn't place her. I didn't waste my time with women.

I stared at the girl. She was at least half American. I could tell by her ginger hair and the very light freckles on her nose. She had her hair tied up in a ponytail and instead of wearing the uniform that Deimon's managers usually wore, she wore street clothes. She scooted right in between Mizumachi and I quite rudely and smirked at us. "What are you doing?" I glared at her. She ignored me and smiled at Mizumachi, who immediately blushed and stuck his finger in his ear.

"That's a disgusting habit." She swatted his hand away. "I'm watching the game, Shun. What are you doing?"

"My name is Kakei. Who are you?" She was distracting me and I was allowing her to do it. I tried to look back down to the field where the Devil Bats were getting destroyed but she kept getting my attention somehow.

"Oh. I'm Mari Tanaka." She continued to grin at me. "I'm hiding from my team. They're all panicked about Hiruma and won't stop bothering me about it." She pointed down to the bench where their manager was furiously looking around and held her cell phone to her ear. At that moment, the cell phone in Tanaka's hand rang. She ignored the call. "Just ignore me. What were you saying about my team?"

"That your line is weak. Your running back is pathetic and just all around you are a bunch of amateurs."

"That's rich coming from a rookie." She picked at the hole in her jeans. "How long have you been playing football, Shun?"

"Kakei." I corrected again. This girl was getting annoying. "And I am a freshman."

"Have you done any research on these teams before playing?" She stared up at me with a devilish grin on her face.

"Of course I have."

"And you still don't think our Eyeshield is powerful?" She opened up her notebook. "Says here you played for Arizona State's middle school team against Notre Dame, where you met the real Eyeshield 21." She ran her finger down the page. "My father told me all about you. I know all of your stats and all of your experience. What do you know about Eyeshield 21? Nothing. You don't even know who he is underneath that mask. But you should at least know this. He is better than you."

"Your father?" I stared at her. What the hell was she talking about? "And he is not better than me. He's much too small. I could destroy him in a second."

"My father was a running back for San Antonio back in the day and he coached the kids in the Houston college football program. Leonard Apollo. I know everything there is to know about you and Notre Dame's Eyeshield 21. I even know who and where he is right this second." She leaned into me as she spoke. She was teasing me as if I were a child. She then looked down where Deimon was huddled and they let out their battle cry even without Hiruma there to lead them. When they made a touchdown using faux Eyeshield, she had a catty comment. "You may not think we are powerful, but football isn't all about height, power or even speed. It's about having a strong leader. A leader so strong that he doesn't even need to be here for his team to know what he would say or do."

"Don't speak too soon." Mizumachi nodded back towards the field. "The Scorpions are notorious for playing dirty."

"Exactly." I was impressed by Mizumachi's insight. Usually he had something stupid to say. "They're going to destroy your quarterback until he can't pass anymore. And if someone can't pass the ball decently to Eyeshield, then your game is over."

And just as I predicted, Ishimaru, the replacement quarterback, sustained an arm injury after he was tackled even though the ball had already been passed and the first quarter ended. I expected this to faze Tanaka and make her upset, but she just smiled to herself and pointed to where Mamori Anezaki stood with the whole team during the huddle. She appeared to be reading a letter. "He predicted all of this." She whispered to me.

"He?" I asked. And as if I had summoned the devil himself, Yoichi Hiruma's voice echoed through the stadium. He jumped onto the field, guns blazing much to the excitement of the rest of the Devil Bats who were like lost sheep without their Shepard.

"Isn't he cute?" Tanaka winked at me and left just as suddenly as she went to join the Devil Bats on the field. Before Hiruma went on the field and right after his pep talk, I saw him look around, quickly kiss Tanaka on the head and walk onto the field.

The rest of the game was just a huge mind game between the quarterback of the scorpions and Yoichi Hiruma. On the first play of the second quarter, he faked them out somehow. He made the Scorpions believe he would be going in for a run when he ended up passing instead, making for an easy touch down.

He was able to see through their offence and his line stopped their passes with ease. For his next offensive play, I could tell immediately that Hiruma was not going to run the ball. The Scorpions must have known that too, because they went after Taki, the tight end. Literally all of them went after Taki, leaving Monta the wide receiver wide open again. This left the game at 14-24.

Mizumachi began to laugh and stomp his feet. "They're making complete fools out of these guys. This is hysterical! That girl knew what she was talking about."

"Shut up, Mizumachi." I murmured under my breath as Deimon continued to humiliate the Scorpions. They managed to stop another run and I wondered if they were going to play fake Eyeshield again

I got my answer almost immediately. This would be the last play of the game. There was no way they wouldn't use Eyeshield. I knew that and the Scorpions knew that. I wanted to see him run, but he would never hold a candle to the real Eyeshield 21.

21 took off like a rocket as soon as the ball reached his hands. I assumed he would use the Devil Bat Ghost, a move that we had been studying. I had not expected him to evolve it so quickly though. He was able to use it multiple times, scoring the winning touchdown.

Mizumachi jumped out of his seat. "Whoa! Check out the fake Eyeshield. Did you see that, Kakei?"

"Whatever." I stood up and stretched my legs. "A fake is a fake." I looked at the scoreboard. The final score was 14-42 and Deimon was down on the field cheering about it.

"Man, this is the first time I've ever seen Deimon play. They sure don't feel like anything special." Mizumachi whined. "Hey, Kakei. Do you think we can just chill on the bench for the first half of that game?"

"Don't be lazy." I scolded. "There's no reason to keep ourselves a secret anymore." I looked down at Tanaka and Hiruma, who were both staring up at me with identical evil smirks. "We need to blast forward, full steam ahead."

"Yeah, whatever. Come on. I want to go talk to them." Mizumachi stood up and began to walk away. I shrugged and followed. It was like a full time job making sure he didn't say or do anything stupid. It's okay to have a big ego, but it can be a problem if you're an idiot.

We stood and waited by a pathway for Deimon to take their time coming out. The first wave came out. It was Sena Kobayakawa, the other manager, Monta the wide receiver and Komosubi, the little guy on the line. He was big, but very short. He wouldn't be able to hold a candle to our mile high line.

I remained silent while Mizumachi tore down the little guy about his height. I could see that he was getting to him though his teammates were trying to stick up for him. When Mizumachi finally had enough, he let us leave. We went back down the opposite way of the path where we walked right into Tanaka, who seemed to be staring off into space. When she heard us approach, she turned around. She walked right up to Mizumachi and pulled him down by his shirt. "You're a giant asshole." She said. She was staring at him right at eye level. Her sudden strength surprised us both "Maybe I'll play on the line in the Poseidon game just so you can feel the humiliation of being beaten by a girl."

This made Mizumachi laugh. I couldn't help but to chuckle either. Mizumachi put his hand on her head. "That's totally cute. You're a funny little girl."

I had only closed my eyes to blink when I heard the dull thud of someone hitting the ground. I looked to my left and Mizumachi wasn't there anymore so I looked down. He was on the ground and Tanaka was already standing up to brush herself off. "Keep your ego in check, brah." She mocked him, politely bowed to me and walked away leaving both of us completely stunned. "That goes for you too, Kakei. But I won't be the one bringing you down. Eyeshield will do that." She called back without turning around.

I suddenly remembered why Tanaka seemed so familiar. She was a football player too. The female quarterback for Harijaku. I remembered reading about her removal from both the team and the school. I had wanted to play against her when she was still Blaze, but she had already left her team by the time I was in High School. Harijaku also had an incredible linebacker who was so powerful that he had never let her get sacked, ever. This year we had knocked the Fireballs out in the very first round.

Mizumachi stood to his feet and rubbed the back of his head. "She caught me off guard. That wasn't fair." He murmured. "You better not tell anyone about this."

I chuckled to myself as we walked home.