ToKyotchi Chapter 2

“Why Do We Fight?”

Che gasped, waiting for one of them to start laughing and tell him it was all a joke. Unfortunately, their expressions, while varied, remained constant.

“What are you all talking about?” Che held up his palms, instantly refusing their proposition. “I can’t fight any of you! I’ve never even been in a fight before!”

Nikki scoffed. “Come on! You’re wasting time! Just fight one of us already!”

Kim giggled, a hand covering her mouth. “He’s kind of cute when he’s flustered, don’t you all think?”

Che instinctively took a step back. It was all getting too weird with each passing second. How did he manage to fall asleep and end up in a fighting tournament? He thought back to when he left the interview to walk towards his car. A figure appeared, and afterwards he couldn’t remember anything else. Had he been kidnapped and brought here? Was this some kind of underground fighting ring?

A loud voice boomed throughout the arena.  “Well, folks, it looks like we have a new contestant joining us today! And it looks like he’s not from around here!”

The crowd erupted into cheers and applause. Che felt his heart sinking. Were these all criminals coming to watch some sick blood sport? It had to be.

“He’s certainly not dressed for an exhibition match!” the voice continued.

“Exhibition match?” Che muttered, more to himself than anyone else.

“Yes! It’s a battle to the death!” Bella made her hands into claws and made a scary face.

“You can’t be serious!” Che protested.

“I’m totally kidding,” Bella’s face resumed a neutral expression, “but it is a fighting tournament. And we need to get started.”

Che flung a finger in the girls’ directions. “Are you with the mafia?”

The girls stared at each other in confusion.

“What’s a mafia?” Kim asked.

“What’s wrong with him?” Nikki scratched her head.

Bella shrugged. “He says such weird things.”

Che could hear murmurs from the crowd before someone shouted, “Hey, when’s the match gonna start? We’ve been sitting here waiting!”

The girls all turned to face the crowd.

“We’re just waiting on our opponent,” Kim said with a smile.

Nikki turned to face him. “Well?”

Che shook his head. They weren’t going to let him leave unless he engaged, but surely this was all just a joke. They didn’t seriously think he was going to fight any of these three girls for no reason, right?

He sighed, realizing he had no choice but to play along. Everyone wanted a show, it seemed, so he’d just have to figure out a way to go along with it while searching for an exit. He glanced around, noting at least two possible exits he could make use of before nodding to himself. He’d start the match and find a way to lose without getting hurt. Then, he’d figure out what was going on. He took a deep breath before pointing to Nikki.

“Fine,” he said. “You and me. Let’s get this over with.”

Bella looked crestfallen, while Kim seemed unfazed as they both glided over to the sidelines. Nikki quickly took her place at the opposite end of the ring from Che.

“I’m not going to go easy on you,” she said.

“Looks like the fighters are ready to start!” the announcer exclaimed. “Let the match begin!”

The arena thundered with applause as a strange buzzer sounded. Nikki held up her hand, and it started to glow. A small orb of fire appeared in it, but she quickly balled up her fist, extinguishing it.

Che yelped in surprise. “Wait, what?”

“Alright,” Nikki said. “Let’s get started then.”

Che didn’t have time to react as Nikki suddenly shot forward, coming at him with lightning speed. He barely had time to put his arms up in front of his face before she collided with him, sending him sprawling onto his back. He heard the crowd gasp in surprise, some cheering for Nikki.

“Oh, come on!” she shouted. “I didn’t even use a strong move!”

Che, to his surprise, found it was easy to get back up. He looked down at his clothes, noticing they weren’t dirty or tattered after his fall. He checked Nikki’s clothes for any damage, and that’s when he saw it.

Nikki had a status menu glowing in front of her.

“Nikki. Flame Type. Level 5. Knows moves Bash and Fire Wisp. Weak to Aqua and Earth. Strong against Flora, Metal, and Ice,” Che read the display out loud. “Wait! Is this a game?”

Nikki looked just as surprised as he felt. “What are you talking about? Fight me!”

She sprang forward again, but this time Che was able to react. He dodged to the side, and Nikki almost went crashing into the wall. Che backed away, still in shock. This couldn’t be real. It had to be some sort of dream or hallucination.

“I don’t really want to fight you!” he waved his hands in front of him. “I thought this was all a joke!”

“What?” Nikki looked just as confused as he felt. “No, this is a real exhibition match! If you don’t fight me, you’ll automatically lose!”

Che shook his head. There was no way he was going to fight someone, even if it was a game. He turned and sprinted towards the exit, but before he could make it, he was tackled from behind by Nikki.

“I’m sorry!” she shouted as she pinned him to the ground. “But I have to finish the match! I can’t let you just leave!”

Che struggled against her grip, but it was no use. He was completely helpless against her. All he could do was wait until she finished him off.

Nikki sat up, straddling his back but easing up on her grip. “Aren’t you going to fight? You’re just gonna give up, just like that? Don’t you have anything to fight for?”

The memory of the job interview flashed through Che’s mind. He had just read the rejection email, sent mere minutes after the interview. It wouldn’t have mattered how well-prepared he was or if his resume was impressive enough. They made up their minds the second he walked through the door. He was just a means for them to make it seem like everyone stood the same chance. At the end of the day, they weren’t going to take him seriously.

Just like the rest of the world.

Che chuckled. “I guess I don’t have anything to fight for. I’m tired of fighting. Besides…what’s the point when you’re too weak?”

He turned his head and glanced up at his opponent. Nikki dropped her hands to her side, staring down at him with alarm.

“Why would you say something like that?” her eyes grew wide with confusion. “You’re in the middle of a fight!”

Che shook his head, shifting his gaze to the cheering crowd. “It doesn’t matter. I’ve been fighting my whole life, and it’s gotten me nowhere. I’m done.”

He closed his eyes, waiting for Nikki to make her move, but she didn’t. He felt her weight shift off of him as she moved to stand up. He took in a deep breath as she started to walk away.

“The match is over,” she said. “I win by default.”