Author Notes: This is one of the older snippets. It's the somewhat bizarre result of a "story challenge" thread on Beast's Lair, where somebody asked for Zouken playing a video game.

The Luddites Were Right

Zouken liked to think of himself as a family man.

Well, a provider, at least. Take, for instance, the game system that he'd bestowed upon his young "grandchildren". With quotation marks. It had seemed the ideal purchase at the time. Before he'd purchased it, the children romped through the house whenever he'd left them unsupervised. (Well, as much as a resentful little boy and an emotionless shell of a girl can "romp".) Now, they sat on the floor like good little puppets, the television's light reflecting from their glazed eyes. That irritating, tinny music had seemed a small price to pay.


…Until now.

It had been an innocent mistake. Generations of grandchildren had taught Zouken that the occasional "bonding time" did wonders for loyalty. A few had made paper cranes with him. One had watched wide-eyed as Zouken whittled him a horse.

Even Kariya had smiled and clapped his hands when Zouken had helped him snap his first photograph of a flower. It had come out blurry purple mess. The little brat had insisted on shaking the camera. Indeed, Zouken wasn't sure why he still kept the ugly thing in his room, but he never seemed to get around to removing it.

This "game" was different.

The controls had seemed simple enough. Even a walking anachronism raised before the invention of steam power could understand it. The device was a gray piece of plastic shaped into three prongs, with a knob at the center for controlling movement. A button on the underside acted as trigger.

"He's hiding in the vents, Sakura!"

"I'm on it, big brother."

Zouken cursed and raced down the chute. His grandchildren were watching his screen. They must have been watching his screen. No matter. The light was only a short distance away now. Five seconds…



The vent exploded in pixilated fire and smoke. His screen went red, and then darkened. The game played that lugubrious da-duuuum! "You're dead" music that Zouken had come to loathe.

"Yessssss!" Shinji shouted. "Nice shot, Sakura!"

As Zouken's screen went black, the last thing he saw was Sakura's character racing past him, hefting a rocket launcher.

They were bonding.

The little brats were bonding.

This wouldn't go unpunished. He'd simply take the game system away from them. Yessiree. But first, he needed to win. It wouldn't do to look like he'd taken it away in a fit of sour grapes. Even if that was probably true.

At least it wasn't proximity mines. Or knives. Especially knives. The girl was a virtuouso with those things.

So…third floor.

Find the AK-47. Find the AK-47. Find the—

Shinji's character strafed into view. His machine pistol trilled a seemingly endless rattle as it sprayed faaaaar too many bullets. Zouken ran.


"All yours, Sakura."

"Thanks, big brother!"


A bullet hole materialized in the wall. Zouken squinted. The lighting in this place was awful; one greenish-brown blob after another. Where was she?


And Zouken died. Again.

The controller cracked in his hand.

"Uh, grandfather?" Shinji said. "Are you—"

Zouken lurched out of his seat and snatched his cane.

"I'm fine!" he said. "And very busy! I have no more time to spend on your silly games, and you have homework to do."



Shinji gulped and turned off the game system. It winked to black.

The boy grabbed Sakura and made a beeline for the door. She gripped the door frame with one hand to arrest the motion. Her purple hair bobbed.

"Um, grandfather?"


Sakura nibbled a fingernail contemplatively. Her face scrunched in concentration.

"Big brother, what was it that you're supposed to say when you win?"

"Uh…nothing Sakura. Let's go."

Sakura nodded (reluctantly, it seemed), and followed her brother, leaving Zouken alone to glare at the foul contraption that had ruined his evening.

They would pay for this, somehow. He wouldn't be obvious about it. Oh, no. Subtlety was a Zouken Matou trademark. But he's savor their pain just the same. It wouldn't do to allow them to bond again. He needed Sakura isolated, and for that, Shinji would have to—

Sakura popped her head in.

"Ooh, Grandfather! I remembered!"


"P0wnd," Sakura said solemnly.

And with that, the girl skipped back to Shinji's room to continue their studies.