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The Ultimate Challenge
Part Twelve: Practice Makes Perfect

It is almost 1 o'clock in the morning, and the streets of Paris are still bustling with the liveliness of a Saturday night.  The view suddenly changes to the inside of "Dubois' Wig Bar & Grill", a place where drunk people and hapless jazz musicians gather to tell their miseries to the darkness of the sky.  At the bar sits a rather handsome man in his early thirties, with his Yanni-like brown hair reaching all the way to his lower back.  He takes a good look at his blue eyes within the reflection of his whisky glass, and then firms his grip on it.  With one quick reflex, he gulps the whisky Clint Eastwood-style.  But the guy chokes all of a sudden and starts coughing like a stuck fog horn.

Pierre <suffocating>: Mon Dieu!!  What did you put in this, Francois??  Horse piss???

Bartender: Hey, watch what you say about my Bordeaux Whisky!  It's the best in the whole of France!!

Pierre: Right...

Bartender: And who are you to complain anyway??

Pierre <boastful>: I am the GREATEST soccer player France has ever seen!!

Bartender <sarcastic>: You are a hopeless drunk who owes me 3,500 Francs of drinking bills.  Now when are you going to pay me this money?? Next year??

Pierre: Listen man, I told you, the company did not buy my program yet.  I am trying to convince them that it will do them good if they installed it on their systems...

Bartender <interruptive>: Yeah yeah! Whatever!! I don't care quite frankly, so you better get your act all together or no more drinks for you, compris??

Pierre: You're the man, Gaston...

Bartender: Good...That's Francois, by the way.

Pierre <embarrassed>: Whatever...

Suddenly, the swing door swings back and forth when a mysterious figure enters the bar.  He is a tall man, with a brown hat and wears a brown trench coat to protect himself from the merciless rain outside.  He walks towards Pierre and takes a seat on the stool next to him.  Pierre takes a good look at the man's partially covered face.  A minute later, a spark ignited a vivid image in his memory.

Pierre: Hey, aren't you Tono Yoshida, the famous soccer commentator of Japan??

Tono: Why, yes, and you are? Bartender, Scotch on the Rocks!!

Bartender: Yes sir!!

Pierre: I am Eru Shido Pierre, the former Captain of the Paris Towers!

Yoshida takes a few moments to recollect his memory, and then smiles in agreement.

Tono: Ah yes! You're the one who played a soccer match with Tsubasa Ozora in his dream at the hospital sixteen years ago, right?

Pierre: Umm, right. He's an idiot.

Tono <taking a sip>: Agreed.  So, how have you been? I have heard that you have taken early retirement. Is that true?

Pierre <looking at the bar>: Well, not exactly.  I have been kicked out from the team ever since the Burgundy Incident.

Tono <solemn look>: Oh, the Burgundy Incident...

Pierre <twiddling his fingers>: Yup...

The two men take a vow of silence for thirty seconds, then Yoshida decides to speak.

Tono: Mr. Pierre, I have monitored your play throughout your career, and I am obliged to say that you are a man of great skill.

Pierre: Thanks.  That makes me feel much better. *BUUURP!*

Tono: I am totally serious.  Listen, would you take my offer as my right hand commentator at the NipponSports Network?

Pierre: Would I? I'd love too!! I mean, I don't know what to say!

Tono: Just say yes!

Pierre: OH OUI!!

Tono: Is that a yes??

Pierre <smiling>: Yup!

Tono <exitting>: Weird.  Ok, visit me tomorrow morning at the Regency Hotel lobby and we'll discuss your contract with my agents. In the meantime, I advise you to work on that accent.  Siyonara, Pierre san!

Pierre: Au reviuor, monsieur Yoshida! Oh wow!! Did you hear that, Louis?? I am going to be rich! Yahoo!! I am going home to get some rest and prepare for tomorrow's interview!

Bartender: That's great.  This means that you'll finally be able to pay me back. Oh, and that's Francois, by the way...

Pierre <exitting>: Yah, whatever!

Meanwhile, at the other end of the globe, Hyuga shoots mercilessly toward the goal, not scoring a single ball since the last part of this fan fiction.  He gets really frustrated, grits his teeth and scratches the bottom of his sole against the green grass of the Tokyo Dome.  Morisaki on the other hand is kissing the ground and raising his hand to the blue sky with gratitude for staying alive.

Hyuga <clenching his fist in anger>: I don't understand!  What is it that I am doing wrong here?  Why am I playing like Nitta in 9th grade?  The goal is three meters wide and I can't score a single shot!  Tsubasa!! Tsubasa!! Where the heck did the ageless twerp go??

Wakashimazu <looking around>: Beats me.  Hey, Sorimachi!  Any idea on where Ozora might be?

Sorimachi: Let me think.  Ah, yes.  Tisugi told me that he went to make a long distance phone call.

Hyuga: A phone call??

Takeshi: Yes, to his wife in the Netherlands.

Hyuga: His wife??  Why that little...I'll show him how to make a long distance phone call!

Wakashimazu: Hyuga kun! Where are you going??

Hyuga: Don't ask!

At another corner of the stadium, Tsubasa is talking with Sanae on Katagiri's cellular phone.  Katagiri does not look too happy about it.


Sanae: Oh, my baby!  Where have you been? I want you to come back!

Tsubasa: I wish I could honey, but I am still needed over here.  So sad...

Sanae: Hmmm, you know what?

Tsubasa: Yeah dear?

Sanae: I am coming to Tokyo!

Tsubasa: Say what??

Sanae: Yup!  I need to see you after all this time.  Plus I have some good news that will make you very happy!

Tsubasa: For real?  What?? What??

Sanae: Nope, no can do!  It's a surprise!

Tsubasa: Hahaha, OK!  You know, Sanae?  I wrote you a short poem the other day.  It goes like this: "When the skies turn gray, and the clouds begin to prey on the grassy yonder, I cross my feet and wonder..."

Katagiri <furious>: Would you cut the soap opera already??  For my bill's sake Ozora!!

Tsubasa: Ok man!!  Just take it easy!

Hyuga <grabbing the phone>: I'll take that for now!!

Tsubasa: What the?? Hey!!  What do you think you're doing?  Give it back!

Hyuga: In your dreams!  I am practicing like a maniac and you're having a mushy time with your wife.  Not fair!

Tsubasa: Who ever said anything about life being fair?  Now give it back dammit!

Hyuga: Daring, eh?  Let's see what you'll do when I do THIS!

Hyuga flips the phone in the air and presses the "NO" button as soon as it lands in his hand.

Tsubasa <very angry>:  Why you vicious animal!  You'll pay for it!

Katagiri <relieved>:  At least I am not going to pay for your long distance call anymore!

Hyuga:  You haven't seen it all just yet...

Hyuga pitches the phone against the wall behind him and it shatters into pieces in front of Gamou, who happens to be walking in Hyuga's general direction at the time.

Katagiri <in slow motion>: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

Hyuga <sly smile>: Hah!  Now what do you think of that, Tsubasa?

Tsubasa: Nothing.

Hyuga: What??  Aren't you depressed now that you have lost your cellular to the wall??

Tsubasa: It's Katagiri's phone, not mine.

Katagiri <crying>: MY PRECIOUS NOKIA 9000 PLUS!  GONE!! <sniff>

Hyuga: §*IT!!  You little twerp!  I am going to crush your skull with my bare hands!!

Tsubasa: Yeah?  Try me!

Hyuga runs towards Tsubasa like a tank, shouting to the top of his throat, but Gamou jumps on Hyuga from the back and holds him tight, while Katagiri locks Hyuga's legs with his arms.  Hyuga is frozen and cannot move.

Gamou: He completely lost his mind!!

Katagiri: You're telling me?!  He has just destroyed my cellular as if it were his!

Tsubasa <snickering>: The bastard...

Mikami <appearing out of nowhere>: Shut your mouth, Tsubasa.  You're the one who triggered a nerve in him.

Gamou: Mikami!  Quick!  Do something before my hands slip off of this raging beast!

Mikami takes out a silver box from his backpack and opens it, only to reveal a really big syringe in front of Hyuga's eyes.  A second later, Hyuga's eyes whiten with fear.

Katagiri: A sedative for paralyzing elephants??

Hyuga: No!!  You can't do this to me!  I hate needles! Nooooo!!  Master Kira, SAAAAVE MEEEEE...ZZZzzzzzZZZZzzzzZZZzzzz...

Mikami: There.  He's all asleep, just like a baby cub.  Let's carry him to the clinic.

Tsubasa: Man!  Did you see how Hyuga kun was shaking with fear??  I didn't know that he is a coward who loathed syringes!  What a baby!

Mikami <taking out another silver box>: Care to try one??

Tsubasa <exitting>: Uhhh, I think I'll pass this time!  Besides, it's about time that I hit the soccer field!  You know what they say: "Practice Makes Perfect!" Ciao!!

As Tsubasa starts running to the soccer field as he promised, he encounters Ishizaki, who appears mysteriously happy about something.

Ryo: Tsubasa kun!  I have a visitor behind me who you'll freak out all over!

Tsubasa looks over Ishizaki's shoulder, only to see...

Tsubasa <astonished>: Roberto Hongo!

Hongo: In the flesh!

Tsubasa runs towards his mentor and jumps into his arms, not realizing that he has grown too tall for Roberto to handle.  Nevertheless, the two guys break into joyous laughter and tears of sheer happiness.

Ryo <touched to the heart>: Wow, they make a great couple these two! <sniff>

Hongo: So, Tsubasa, I've heard that you're experiencing some problems with your new shot!

Tsubasa <puzzled>: How did you know??

Hongo: I keep constant correspondence over the phone with Mikami.  So I have decided to give my greatest student in the world a visit and maybe help him a little. <grin>

Tsubasa <smiling>:  That would be great! So, what do you have in mind?

Hongo: Let's keep walking to the soccer field.  You see, I think I have a  shot for you that will only work in an artificial environment.

Tsubasa: What do you mean, Hongo san?

Hongo: When the glass dome is covering the soccer field, I understand that the stadium becomes air conditioned and the lights reflect their rays upon the glass dome's surface.  I think we could use these elements to our advantage for developing this shot.  I have been researching this shot for a while now, and I think that it will work with a 100% efficiency rate, given the elements that I have just mentioned.

Tsubasa: Wow!  Now you're getting me all psyched up to try it out!  What are we waiting for?  Let's do it!

Hongo <waving>: Well said.  Hey, Wakashimazu!  How's everything going??

Wakashimazu <waving back>: Hey Hongo san!  Good to see you again!  What is it that you want?

Hongo:  Relieve poor Morisaki for now, he had a very long day.  Protect the goal.

Wakashimazu:  You've got it man!!

Morisaki <cheering>:  Thank you God!  Thank you thank you thank you!!

Wakashimazu does exactly what he is told and stands in front of the goal, while Jito and Sano operate the glass dome from the operation room to cover the soccer field.  Tsubasa gets ready and rolls the ball on the grass.  The other players (with the exception of Hyuga, of course) gather behind Hongo to see the spectacle of their lives.  Suddenly, Hongo shouts to Jito and Sano from down below.

Hongo <shouting>: Ok, that's perfect boys!  Now that the glass dome is completely closed, open up the lights, then the air conditioners.

Jito:  All righty, it is done!

Hongo: Great!  Now, Tsubasa, I want you to run from the middle of the field until you reach the penalty area, because I will pass it all the way there.

Tsubasa:  Ok!  Let's do it!

Tsubasa runs as fast as he could to the penalty area, whilst Wakashimazu takes a sturdy position.  As soon as Tsubasa reaches halfway, Hongo passes the ball towards the penalty area.  Finally, Tsubasa could visibally see the ball rolling in the air directly on top of him.

Hongo: Now Tsubasa!  Make half a circle and shoot the ball with a 45 degrees turn of your foot!

Tsubasa: Doraibu Shutto Daaaaa!!

Tsubasa, with his quick reflex and superior agility, does the half circle as soon as the ball touches the ground, and then stands on the tip of his left shoe to do the 45 degrees with his right foot.  He shoots the ball towards the goal, and half a second later, the miracle happens!

Wakashimazu: What in Buddha's name??

Soda: This is incredible!

Matsuyama: The ball! It's...It's splitting!!!!

Kazou: WOW!!
Masao: WOW!!

Takasugi: Is this possible??

Nitta: It's physically impossible!!

Hongo <to Misaki>: It can only be achieved under these conditions.

Misaki: I see.  Wakashimazu!  Be careful!!

The ball virtually splits into three glowing spheres of red, blue and green light, sparking out lightening and causing a very heavy thunderous sound.  The speed of the balls is demonic, causing a vacuum around them while the grass dust is flowing from under them outwards like a hurricane.  This ball is a killer, no doubt.

Wakashimazu: Which ball is the real one?  They all look alike!!  Damn!!

As soon as the three balls reach the goalie area with the speed of a jet fighter, the three balls unite to form a big ball of strong white light, which eventually blinds Wakashimazu.  However, Wakashimazu straightens out his arms forward, helplessly trying to catch the comet.  But the ball goes right past Wakashimazu's right side, the vacuum causing him to fly with the ball towards the net.  As soon as they both touch the goal net, the speed of the ball causes the goal beams to pluck out from the ground and fly with the ball and Wakashimazu to the wall!!  BOOOOOM!!  The three objects slam into the wall so hard, they caused it to tremble.  The ball got stuck in a 15 centimeter-deep hole it made on contact.  Wakashimazu fell on the ground in shock.  Everyone just stood in silence and pondered about what just had happened.  Jito and Sano's faces are still stuck to the window panel from astonishment.  Tsubasa himself couldn't believe his eyes.  He simply did not expect that he would generate enough power to make a human being fly not with the ball, but because of it!  He turns towards Roberto, and gives him a stare full of bewilderment and amazement.

Hongo <obviously proud>: Hahahaha!!  Well done, good ol' boy!  You really made some history today!

Tsubasa: No, it is all because of you, Hongo san.  I wouldn't have done it without your generous help.  Arigato!

Hongo: Ah, but remember; you cannot achieve such a spectable without the given conditions.  Still, nobody is capable of performing the posture that you just have done moments ago.  It requires extreme precision and strength to do the 45 degrees turn.  So this shot is designed to suit your body and reflexes, and no one else can do it.

Tsubasa:  Great genius!

Misaki: What are you going to call it, Tsubasa kun??

Izawa: Give it a catchy name, like Rainbow Three!

Taki: No no no!!  That's too lame!  What about...ummm...The Shot of Lights??

Tisugi:  That's even more stupid than the first one!

Tsubasa: I will call it...The Comet of Hell!!!

Ryo:  Yup!  That's a catchy name!  Now, we will kick Saleem's rear-end with all that we've got!  Right guys??

Everyone <except Hyuga, of course>: YEAH!!!

Meanwhile, in Germany, Saleem lies in his hospital bed after a hectic time outside his room's window.  He is thinking about the whereabouts of his sister, and that same time, about the match between him and Tsubasa.  Knowing that it will take place after two weeks, he is determined to get out of the hospital and start practicing for the big day.  Moments later, a tall, muscular, blonde figure enters the room with a bouqet of red roses and a "Get Well Soon, sucker!" card.  It's Schneider!!

Saleem <raising his back>: YOU!!  What are you doing here??  Where's my sister??  OUCH, my head!

Karl <sitting on the bed's edge>:  Now now, my friend, we don't want you to stress when you've got an important match ahead of you.

Saleem <avoiding the issue>: I don't know what you're talking about...

Karl: C'mon, Saleem.  you think I don't know what's going on between you and Tsubasa?  You two are going to play it big in Tokyo, and I wouldn't miss it for anything in the world!

Saleem: Ok, so you know.  Now to the important part; where's my sister??

Karl <throwing the bouqet on the chair>: Do not worry, my man.  I am a gentlemen...Wouldn't hurt your sister in anyway.  Let's just say that she's in "safe hands".

Saleem <threatening with his index finger>: If you as much touch a single hair from her head...

Karl: Yah?  What?  You'll kill me?

Saleem:  I'll make it a surprise for you...

Karl: Right.  And I know your surprise.  I mean, the secret player who joined your team for FREE!!

Saleem: Mr. Know It All, aren't you?

Karl: Let's just say that I know, "people".  Anyway, you seem very tired.  I'll leave you to rest.  I am just glad that you're tasting my cousin's suffering, who is in deep comma because of you.  Guten Tag, herr Schmuck!  Enjoy the roses!  HOAHOAHOAHOAHOAHOAHOAHOA!!


Part Thirteen