The Announcement

"Hey, guys, look!" All the idols of 765 Productions looked up at the sound of the familiar boyish voice calling to them.

Kikuchi Makoto ran into the room, waving a colorful flyer around in her hand excitedly. When she got over to the table, she slammed said flyer onto it excitedly and looked up, expecting (and receiving) the looks of confusion on her comrades' faces.

She smiled a catty smile and observed her audience. "The 'King of Iron Fist Tournament'," she read aloud. "A chance for us to prove we're more than just idols, right? It's a fighting tournament."

"F-fighting?" Hagiwara Yukiho gasped. "I…fighting, Makoto-chan…! What made you think someone like me could participate in something like this?'

Makoto gave her best friend a sympathetic look. "You don't have to participate," she insisted softly. "But, I'm signing up for sure. And besides, if you did sing up, Yukiho…I'd protect you. I'd protect you with my life."

Yukiho smiled slightly and nodded solemnly, then she turned to examine the other idols.

Akizuki Ritsuko walked into the room and gazed down at the flyer. "King of Iron Fist Tournament. It's here? Hm." She continued to peer at the flyer past her glasses, positioned on the bridge of her nose. She pushed them farther up and flicked her eyes to Makoto, excitedly searching everyone's face for signs of approval. "You sure about this?"

"Positive!" Makoto answered with confidence. "C'mon, Ritsuko-san! You should participate too! It'll be fun. People like us have trained for this kind of thing." She gave her elder's sleeve a pitiful tug. Ritsuko sighed.

"You do realize that taking place in this tournament practically guarantees your death."

"I won't die," Makoto assured her, taking a serious expression. She stared defiantly into Ritsuko's eyes with a look that said, "I'm participating, I'm going to win, and you can't stop me."

Ritsuko finally relented with a nod and Makoto broke into a grin.

"Great! So, anyone else want to try?"

Minase Iori lifted her chin. "You may not know this," she began, "but I know how to use a few firearms."

Makoto looked at her. "Then…you'll do it?"

"Of course! The world must know that Minase Iori-chan is more than just a pretty face." She angled her chin to the tomboyish idol and smirked. "You won't beat me…Makoto."

Makoto met her gaze and frowned. "Stay on your toes, Iori. Not everyone in that arena plays nice."

Iori frowned. "Why should that bother me?"

"Just knowing how to look pretty and shoot guns is not going to get you far at all," Makoto replied. "You have to be quick. Strong. You have to be able to take a hit. Otherwise those dirty tricks are going to slice you to pieces before you can even make a move."

"What kinds of tricks?"

"Magic. I mean magic."

"I…those things…I'll win, darn you! I'll win!"

Makoto shrugged. "If you want to participate then sign up. I don't care if you get torn to bits. It's not my responsibility. But I warned you."

Iori sniffed and turned to the other idols. "Well? Don't leave Makoto and me the only ones."

Ritsuko put her hand out. "…I'm in, you two. No way I'm letting one of my idols go out there without her producer." She smiled at Iori, who stuck her hand on top of Ritsuko's. Makoto grinned and placed her hand rather gently on Iori's, almost to signify a friendship. The two idols exchanged a smile.

There was a silence. Then Miura Azusa reached out and placed her hand on Makoto's. Her hand was immediately followed by Kisaragi Chihaya, then Shijou Takane, and then Amami Haruka joined the mix. Makoto's grin grew broader with every hand that joined the rest. Ganaha Hibiki laughed wildly and slapped her hand on top of Haruka's.

"No way you're doin' this without me!" she cried. "C'mon, Makoto. Let's win this thing!"

"Right!" Makoto cheered. Both idols received a glare from Ritsuko and Iori, who were equally determined.

The twins Futami Ami and Futami Mami shoved their hands on Hibiki's at once, a smirk on their faces. They exchanged a glance and nodded in approval at the large amount of hands in the center.

Hoshii Miki examined the hands and lazily slipped her own on top of Ami and Mami's. She yawned.

Makoto looked expectantly at the last two idols, and no doubt the weakest—Takatsuki Yayoi and Hagiwara Yukiho.

Yayoi glanced at her best friend, then slowly slid her hand on top of Miki's, shaking. She swallowed hard and looked to Yukiho. Yukiho frowned and looked at Makoto.

"I'll protect you with my life."

With the words of that promise echoing in her heart, Yukihoput her hand on Yayoi's.

It was decided.

The idols of 765 Pro would take place in the King of Iron Fist Tournament.