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Part Four

"Waitress! Bring me another beer! And it had better not be your pathetic domestic brew!" After saying this, Karl Heinz Schneider looked at his red armband and smiled. Yes, his Fuhrer would be proud of him. "An Aryan should never drink anything not made in the Fatherland," he said wisely, turning to his companion.

Tsubasa nodded mutely. He wasnít sure of what he should say. He didnít really want to accept Schneiderís invitation to go bar-hopping, but judging from the way he had sounded on the phone, he had something really important to tell him. I hope itís about soccer, he thought, trying to hide a smile. That would be great!

The waitress returned with Schneiderís requested beer. She set the mug down in front of him. He picked it up and downed it in one gulp, then swallowed, thinking. Not bad. "There," he said. "Now that thatís over with, I can tell you what I asked you to come here for." He paused, taking a breath. Tsubasa cringed visibly. "Iím very disappointed in you, Aryan Ozora," the blond boy told him in a low voice. "You failed me."

Tsubasa stared at his lap. "I'm sorry..." he mumbled. He wasnít exactly sure why he was apologizing, but he didnít want Karl to be mad at him! He hated getting people mad...

However, Schneider smiled suddenly, showing that he wasnít about to hold a grudge. It was pretty scary... "I still like you, brother," he said cheerfully. "You failed to kill the non-Aryan, and that is inexcusable, but I enjoyed watching his humiliation. You have great potential. One day you will be a fine Nazi."

Tsubasa blinked a few times. "Yeah, right, thanks a lot..." he said, his own voice barely audible. He had no idea what Karl was getting at. Why couldnít they just talk about soccer?

Schneiderís smile widened. "Keep the armband, Aryan Tsubasa. My gift to you. And donít worry about that non-Aryan Kojiro Hyuga. I will have the Brothers check up on him." After saying this, he stood up, pushing out his chair. "Somebody get this man a beer!" he ordered.

The waitress who had been at their table before gave him a weary look. "Hey, kid," she began, her voice dull with irritation, "havenít you had enough?"

The blond boy smiled angelically. Very slowly, he reached into his pocket and drew out a shiny SS handgun. "No," he said.

As if on command, another waitress approached Tsubasaís chair. However, she was not carrying the requested beer. "Are you Tsubasa Ozora?" she asked.

Tsubasa nodded mutely.

"I have a message for you." She reached into the front pocket of her uniform and produced a small piece of paper. "From Hajime Taki. He called a few minutes ago. Would you like me to read the message to you?" Not waiting for an answer, she glanced at the piece of paper. "Tsubasa kun, how are you? Ryo Ishizaki has been killed in a drive-by shooting," she read.

Tsubasaís head snapped up. "What..? Is that true?" he asked desperately, tears welling up in his eyes. "Did you just say what I thought you said?"

She nodded, smiling. She probably was paid to do that.

Oh, no...I didnít want to hear this... Tsubasa burst into tears. "Ishizaki kun!" he sobbed. "Ishizaki kuuuuun!!!" He lowered his head into his arms, shaking with grief.

Schneider watched all this with a surprisingly blank expression on his face. "Damn that non-Aryan slime," he muttered to himself. "He must be dealt with quickly. Before he destroys us all!" After saying that, he leaned over and patted the weeping boy on the shoulder, a compassionate smile softening his formerly stony face. "Are you going to be all right?"

"Huh?" Tsubasa lifted up his head. His eyes were now completely dry. "Yeah. I just need a beer."

Schneider smiled knowingly. "Yes. Thereís nothing like a good stiff belt to soothe away sorrows, right, boy?" He cleared his throat. "FRAULEIN!!!" he bellowed. "Another beer for this good fellow!" He paused, thinking a bit. "Better make that two. He needs to catch up!"

However, no one was paying attention. The bar was as noisy as a crowded gymnasium.

That was the last straw. Whipping out his SS handgun, Schneider shot the nearest person.

Morning. It was like nothing had happened. All traces of blood had been scrubbed the only traces of the sad fate of Ishizaki and Rika were the two chalk outlines on the pavement and the lone, mourning figure standing there, silent in his misery. Wakashimazu laid two black roses on the ground where the bodies had fallen and wiped his eyes, unsuccessful in his attempts not to cry. He couldnít help feeling responsible. After all, considering what had happened during the game...

I know...I vowed to hate him for eternity after what he did to me in yesterdayís game. But this... He felt awful...hating a dead boy...he always had been for Rika, he had thought she was kind of chubby... He squeezed his eyes shut, struggling to shut out those ugly thoughts. This wasnít right!

I know I hated him then...and I was sure Iíd never forgive him...but death is so final...why did he have to die after all he did to me?....Maybe in a few years, Ishizaki would actually be civil!

The heartbroken goalie sighed deeply through his tears, stepping over the police tape. Well...maybe hell isnít really that bad...

Hyuga passed the ball to Takeshi, then stopped in the middle of the practice field. Wakashimazu was standing in the goal, staring off into space. Taking a breath, Hyuga approached him, his expression not unkind. "You arenít paying attention," he said.

The long-haired goalie just nodded, not saying anything. He seemed to be trying to avoid his captainís gaze.

Whatís the matter, Wakashimazu...? This isnít like you... "Is there something wrong?" he asked.

Wakashimazu shook his head, not caring how far from the truth that was. He couldnít say would only make things worse...

"This practice is very important," Hyuga told him. Behind him, Takeshi had stopped moving as well, and now stood passing the ball from one foot to the other. Watching. Waiting for him to say something. I might as well try. He is my friend, after all... "I know youíre upset about what happened yesterday, but you have to clear all negativity from your mind if you ever want to be a great soccer player. Keep your mind on the game. You canít focus on what happened in the past."

"I...know that..." the other boy said in a weak voice. "But...I canít help thinking...I had something to do with all of this...or that Iím making things worse..."

"You didnít do anything wrong." Hyuga smiled sadly. Deep inside, he knew that nothing he could say would make Wakashimazu feel better. Damn...and heís always been the strong one. This isnít going to be easy...Ishizaki is dead... But instead of saying anything more to his friend, he turned to the rest of his team. "Come on, team!" he called. "Why did you stop? Practice isnít over yet!"

Nobody answered. They all had turned away...watching a lone figure make its way up to the field. A figure that was built like a tank.

"Hello, kiddies!" They heard his voice even before they were sure of who it was. A familiar voice, and one that they were not particularly pleased to hear. "Practicing for the big game in the playground, huh?"

Hyugaís left eyebrow twitched involuntarily. Itís him... was the voice of Englishman and conquerer Steven, captain of the Englandís youth soccer team. They had met him several years Europe...they were watching his team practice, and he had been so violent that he injured his own teammates. Not to mention the fact that when he saw them, he called them racist names. Hyuga could remember trying to kill him. And now here he was, a smug expression on his potato-like face, sneering at him like he was the most repulsive person on the planet.

Takeshiís response to his arrival pretty much summed up the whole teamís opinion. "Go back to where you belong, limey!" he retorted with uncharacteristic meanness.

"Thatís right," Kazuki Sorimachi, the teamís less-recognizable forward, agreed. "I bet the zoo employees are worried about you!"

Steven snorted and shoved them aside as he made his way past them to their captain. "Hey, Hyuga, call off your dogs. I have a business proposal for you."

Hyuga laughed, now casually balancing the soccer ball on his head. "I thought you had to know how to read before you started using big words like those."

"Ha. Ha. Ha." The Big Man bared his teeth at him. "Hear me out. I, through months of bloody, relentless training, have perfected a shot that has never known defeat. Iíve waited for this moment, and Iím taking you down, Hyuga. Iíll be damned if I see your smug face again!"

Hyuga dropped the ball to the ground and glowered at his chunky opponent. "What a lie! Youíre so graceless, Iíd be surprised if you could make it across the field!"

Steven gave a throaty laugh, unfazed. "Youíll see, little boy. Hereís my deal. If you and your sissy clown of a goalie canít stop me from making one goal right now...I get to take your position in the next game! Do we have a deal?"

Silence reigned. The members of Toho stood in shock, half-smiles frozen on their faces. Surely the large one wasnít serious! How would they be able to get that by the ref?! It was absurd!

Hyuga nodded slowly. "Letís go," he said in a low voice.

His reply sent his teammates into a frenzy. Had the whole world gone crazy?!

"Donít do this, Hyuga san!" cried Takeshi, his child-like eyes frantic. "We need you to play with us! Donít listen to him!"

Their captain turned to them slowly, his face remarkably serene. He was serious about this... "Thereís nothing I canít do," he said calmly. "Remember that." He turned back to the Tank, still completely in control. "Iím ready," he said.

Steven chuckled to himself. Fools. "I have to warn you. My technique is very powerful." He grinned, the action nearly splitting his face in two. "On a bad day, Iíve gotten twenty goals in."

The others looked on as the Englishman lifted his hand and, amazingly, held up twenty fingers. He let out a booming laugh.

"...." Wakashimazu turned away, disgusted beyond belief. What a showoff!

Takeshi nodded in agreement, as if he had heard his teammateís thoughts. "How embarrassing..." he said.

That was too much. Hyuga narrowed his eyes, taking a step toward the large guy. "Enough!" he ordered. "Stop bragging and prove that thereís more than hot air in that fat, bloated body of yours!"

Steven sneered and lowered his grotesque hand. "Glad to, mate."

Hyuga nodded, grim. He really is determined to beat me, he thought. All those insults just rolled off him! Well, I canít--I wonít back down. This is about more than my pride. The entire teamís pride is at stake! He turned to Wakashimazu, feeling slightly guilty about his position in the situation. "Be prepared. I donít think the Tank will go down very easily."

"Iím ready," the goalie replied.

Hyuga signalled for the others to move off the field, and they obeyed with little resistance. He knew theyíd let him be in the end; they respected and believed in him, and he wouldnít let them down. Taking a deep breath, he positioned himself a few yards in front of Wakashimazu.

He clenched his hands into fists. "Now youíll see the consequences of challenging a tiger!"

Steven set the ball on the ground and shrugged. "Yeah, whatever." His lumpish face tight with concentration, he glided back a few steps and prepared to shoot. "Brace yourselves, friends! Here comes...the changing of the guards!"

The enormous fellow brought his leg back as far as it could go. Grunting, he summoned all his gargantuan strength. He called upon the fire of all his inner demons and kicked harder than he ever thought possible.

The result was astonishing--the ball, upon making contact with his foot, took on the appearance of a comet blazing out death for Toho. The playersí terrified faces sped by as the fruit of Stevenís labors hurtled towards their goal faster than the deadliest asteroid. This was they were going to hang their heads in shame whenever they formed a lineup, knowing that that ugly freak would be their captain...

However, such power was not without its price. Steven barely managed a gurgle as his leg detached itself from the rest of his body with a moist tearing sound.

"GWAAAAAAAAA!!!" Alas, the Tank had fallen. He hit the ground like a freshly killed flamingo seconds after the amputation. So much for that game...

The ball kept going.

Fortunately, Wakashimazu had shed his cocoon of self-pity and reacted with his usual speed, vaulting off the goal right over Hyugaís head. I will stop this ball, he silently vowed. Itís my responsibility as this teamís goalkeeper!

The ball was faster. He caught it in his stomach--or did it catch him? Searing pain followed--the damn thing was on fire--and he knew he had broken something, if there was something there to break.

Hyuga gaped at the sight, an eerie sense of deja vu wiping away some of the disbelief. The demon ball continued its flight, taking Wakashimazu with it. There was no time to think, and the one-legged carcass on the grass confirmed that there was no time to consider what would qualify as a legal action. The dark-skinned captain sprang off the nearest goalpost and caught Wakashimazu from behind, knowing with a sinking dread that it wouldnít be enough. The ball now had two passengers.

Time slowed down to an excruciating pace as the rest of Toho watched this horrifying event. However, seconds before colliding with the net, Wakashimazu grabbed onto the top of the goal, stopping himself with his last ounce of strength. But even as he was saved, Hyuga was not so lucky. The remaining momentum from the demon ball sent him flying back, and without anything to stop himself with, he was flung to the ground, landing on his back with a terrible crash. The sheer power of the shot had sent him through the net...!

"HYUGA SAN!!!!!" Takeshi screamed, seeing his favorite captain lying motionless on the ground. He could see he dead? That incredible could he do that to Hyuga san?! How could he?!

Wakashimazu released his grip on the goal, jumping to the ground. His body ached...that was one incredible shot Steven had... His gaze moved to his panicking teammates, and he froze. No...itís happening again... He shook that thought out of his head fast. His team needed him now. He had to be strong. "Get Coach Kitazume", he ordered the hysterical Takeshi. "Weíd better call for an ambulance. Iíll keep our captain awake until help arrives."

Takeshi stood there, his eyes big and watery. Hyuga san, he mouthed, beginning to tremble. It canít be him...anybody but him...

"Get going!" Wakashimazu said sharply. "We donít have time for this!!"

The younger boy snapped out of his daze, and, taking one long last look at the broken shell of his supreme idol, ran off in the direction of the school. If he was lucky, their former coach would take pity on them and prolong his stay enough to be of help.

Wakashimazu watched as the last of the team disappeared into the large brick building, deciding that it would be best to take care of things himself. He could handle this...he knew he could.

"So, " he began hesitantly, addressing his ailing friend, "how about that Return of Jafar?"

A pause. Hyuga moved his head slightly, wincing. "I...I won..." he whispered, his gaze slightly misty. Then his eyes began to close.

"No! Wait! You have to stay awake!" Wakashimazu took a deep breath, trying to quell the approaching feeling of panic. He canít slip away now! Reaching over to grab the fallen captainís hand, he attempted to squeeze some life back into him. "Donít--donít you think that movieís awful?" he asked urgently.

A trace of a smile formed on Hyugaís lips. "...I think so. Didnít the parrot, three songs...?"

He nodded vigorously, relieved. Youíve got some life in you yet, he thought, mostly in awe. Iíll never know what itíd take to keep you down. And I never want to know... "Thatís right. Hey, I have an idea. Iíll tell you what I hate about it, and then you tell me, okay?"

The wounded captain blinked. "You...seem awfully...enthusiastic about this..." he said, slightly confused.

"Iím sorry," Wakashimazu said hastily, his eyes strangely bright. "That movieís just so bad!"

The stricken members of Toho watched with somber eyes as the paramedics loaded the one-legged wonder onto a stretcher. Steven caught sight of Takeshi out of the corner of his bloodshot eye and beckoned for him to come closer, conscious despite the terrible pain he was in.

Takeshi glared at him with tear-filled eyes. "What do you want?" he asked bitterly.

Steven smiled weakly, his huge upper body trembling as he struggled to sit. "You know...what I told you about getting twenty goals during a bad game?" He coughed. "During a good one, I only got three."

Takeshi remained emotionless after hearing this, much to the Tankís dismay. He considered spitting in Stevenís face, but that was too disgusting for a boy of his nature. He stomped on his face instead.

The paramedics took him away. They had almost made it to the gate when the stretcher snapped under the weight of the large one, dumping its contents onto the dusty ground. Without a word, they tossed the twisted metal pieces into a nearby dumpster. Thinking twice, they threw Steven in there to boot.

Sorimachi ran back out of the school, leading a middle-aged man with an orange Afro by the hand. "There, sir!" he cried, pointing to the dumpster. "In there is the bastard who killed our captain!"

"Whaaaaat?!" gasped Kitazume, making his way over to the fallen boy. "And this happened on school property?! You fools!"

Wakashimazu gently shook the patient. "Come on! Please! You canít go until you tell me what you think of the Genieís new voice! Wake up!"

Kitazume gave a long-suffering sigh and pulled a handkerchief out of the pocket of his polo shirt. Wiping the blood off the broken captainís forehead, he said, "Iím sorry, but I canít permit you to participate in the next game."

Hyuga gasped, his eyes flying open. "But...why?!"

The older man didnít answer him. Instead he turned to Wakashimazu, his gaze steely behind his colored lenses. "Take him to the infirmary, and donít spare the horses!" he barked.

Wakashimazu nodded. "Ryokai shimashita!" he said dramatically.

Now, wasn't that nice...heh heh...well, in the Spanish dub, Toho's coach's name was Kitazume. I assumed it was left over from the original Japanese. If I'm wrong....sigh....I sure am wrong a lot...

Part Five
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