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The Ultimate Challenge
Part Thirteen: The Showdown Begins

Two weeks later from the last part, the roars of an excited crowd can be heard in the neighborhoods of Tokyo, for they are anticipating one of the greatest events of the year!

Tono: Welcome, ladies and gentlemen to the Tokyo Dome, the biggest, most spectacular soccer field in all of Japan! I, Tono Yoshida will be your host for today, along with my co-host from France, former soccer mogul Eru Shido Pierre!

Pierre: Yes, Tono, it is a spectacular place!  Not to mention that the weather today is great! But what is greater is the fact that we will be able to see some exciting action here in this very dome!

Tono: Indeed, ladies and gentlemen!  Today will be a day that every soccer historian, reporter and fan will charter as one of the most important soccer matches of the 21st century!

Pierre: Today, we will witness a tough match between the Japanese National Team and Saleem Qassim's private team. Oh, and here is the Japanese team right now!  It is entering the field with pride as if they have already won the match Tono!

Tono: Well, Pierre, we just have to see about that because here comes Saleem Qassim with his team of very tough looking guys!  Do you think Japan stands a chance??

Pierre: Let me tell you, Tono, I've known these guys since sixth grade!  One thing that they don't know is how to quit!  I think that they are very capable of taking care of themselves, friend!

Tono: Well, let's go on by introducing the players of Japan's National Team. Ken Wakashimazu, the legendary karate master  is Japan's goal keeper for this match and carries the number one on his back.  For defense, we have the Tchibanna brothers, who used to work in the circus before they finally quit two months ago. Dr.Makoto Soda of psychology is also in defense, along with Sano and Jito, who work as janitors at the same hospital that of Dr. Soda!

Pierre: Janitors?? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Great!

Tono: For the midfield position, we have Hikaru Matsuyama, a self-made billionaire who owns an empire of Fortune companies.  Also, Taro Misaki who is a renowned seismologist at Kobe's center of research and finally Tsubasa Ozora, soccer legend and extraordinary tactician.

The crowd hoot and shout in agreement with Tono, as Tsubasa gives his biggest smile to his thousands of fans and joyously waves to them.

Pierre: Wow! Do you hear that Tono?  These people really love the guy!

Hyuga <clinching his fist>: Why that, that, that smiling parrot!  Why does he get the full credit for everything??!

Nitta: Beats me!  Let's just show them that we are just as good, even better than him!

Pierre: In the forward position, we have Syun Nitta, who have just recently recovered from a chronic mental illness, thanks to Tsubasa and no thanks to Ishizaki!

Ishizaki: Hey!  Watch that mouth of yours, Pierre, or else you're really going to get it this time!

Pierre: Right.  Last, but definitely not least, Kojiro Hyuga, who is the only one considered as Tsubasa's real challenge, after Germany's Karl Schneider and Carlos Santana of Brazil! He's been living his life as a monk after the death of his loved ones.  Very tragic, yet so very good to see him back on the field after all this time!

Tono: Speaking of the Devil, Pierre!  One of our cameras have spotted Santana in one of the isles!  And he is sitting next to Diaz, the super Argentinean player!

Santana <covering his face with his hands>: Ok, we're busted!

Diaz: I knew that I shouldn't have listened to you in the first place!  Now my coach will see me on TV and he'll know that I lied about my mom being hospitalized for a Caesarian!

Santana: Speak for yourself, Diaz!  I missed a match against Norway for this!  And damn it man, it's well worth the risk!

Tsubasa: Oh my God!  Roberto, Carlos is here! Hey Carlos!! Hola buddy!!

Santana: Would you stop waving at me you idiot?? I'm supposed to be undercover here!

Hongo: Yup, he came with me actually.  I didn't tell you about him because I wanted it to be a surprise!

Tsubasa <to himself>: The only surprise I want right now is my beloved Sanae...

A Guy From the Crowd: Hey! Look everyone! It's Carlos Santana!

Santana: Oh, great! Now I'll really kiss my career good-bye!

Tsubasa's eyes go astray towards the sky, ever pondering about his wife, while the others stare at him in bewilderment.

Izawa: Here he goes again!  It is the twentieth time this week!

Takeshi: I don't know when he'll get over it.

Taki: Like never, I guess!

Kisugi: Don't be harsh on the guy.  He misses his wife, that's all!

Takasugi: What a perfect timing for missing someone!

Sorimachi: Let's just hope for the best and wish that he snaps out of it before the match begins!

Ishizaki: Would you guys cut him some slack?  He has been working so hard to bring us back together and that's how we repay him?!  Shame on you all!

Gamou: Shut up all of you!  Go to the locker room and bring the practice balls!

Mikami <worried look>: The atmosphere is so tense, Katagiri san.  I just hope we'll win this one, Otherwise...

Katagiri <pale face>: Otherwise we should say good bye to the World Cup this year!

Tono: As for the Bahraini team, their profiles aren't available, so we'll just list them by name:

11. Ali Isa
10. Saleem Qassim
9. Mohammed Jassim
8. Khalil Abdullah
7. Nasser Hussein
6. Khalid Ahmed
5. Omar Jalal
4. Yaseen Abdul-Nabi
3. Ayman Khalifa
2. Fahad Abdul-Rahman
GK. Mahmoud Sultan

Pierre: These guys look as if they were cut out of body building magazine covers!  Are they serious about playing soccer?  They can cause injuries so easily with their carcasses!!  Well, for the exception of Saleem, who compares to them as a branch twig amongst many tree trunks!

Tono: Well said, Pierre.  This will be very interesting to watch!

Pierre: The players stand face to face on each side of the center circle, ready to do the usual sportive greeting.

The players are organized in two horizontal lines, facing each other, preparing for the greeting. Little do they know, but the fans could feel the burning desires of victory radiating out of the players, and by the pass of each second, the heat becomes more and more intense.

Saleem: Tsubasa, I have been waiting for this a very long time. Let us see who will be the master of the game!

Tsubasa: May the best team win...

Both teams spread all over the field, getting into their designated positions.  After the coin flip, Japan gets the ball, whereas Bahrain gets the field.  Hyuga and Matsuyama stand at the center line, ready for kickoff.  The referee blows the whistle...

Tono: And the Showdown Begins!!

Pierre: Matsuyama passes the ball to Hyuga, and Hyuga does not waste any time by running towards the Bahraini goal!!

Hyuga <running like hell>: You'll know who is the master of the game, Saleem. Just when I let this ball rip through your goalkeeper's guts!

Saleem <running after Hyuga>: Don't be too sure, Kojiro! Ali, Mohammed; show him what you guys are made of!!

Tono: Look at this, people!! Ali Isa and Mohammed Jassim are tackling Hyuga at the same time!! Will they succeed?


As the two players' feet reach Hyuga's ball, he shoots right through them like a bullet.  The ball touches their feet, and by Hyuga's sheer force, they are thrown away.

Saleem: Damn...

Matsuyama <hollering>: Good work, Kojiro-kun!  Now pass the ball to Kazou!! Hyuga?!?!

But Hyuga does not seem to have heard what Matsuyama have said to him, and apparently, nobody can stop him.  He reaches the goal, and then nails his left foot into the ground and lifts his right foot, preparing to shoot right at the goal keeper's direction.

Tsubasa <to himself>: Weird. Saleem's teammates are as stiff as telephone poles.  It's as if they were avoiding to touch him for some reason.

Mahmoud: C'mon! Show me what you've got, Kojiro!!

Hyuga <shooting>: You've asked for it fig face and now you're about to receive! NEO TIGER SHOT!!

Pierre: Hyuga shoots the ball towards the goalkeeper, and it's gaining incredible speed!!

The ball whitens and becomes narrow because of the wind's resistance. It thereby catches demonic speed and causes dust to spread everywhere.  It then catches fire and becomes red.  Suddenly, Mahmoud jumps two inches from the ground and opens his arms as wide as he could, as if welcoming a long-lost loved one.  The tiger ball hits the goalkeeper's chest and he clings to the ball by crossing his arms over it.  The fiery ball burns Mahmoud's jersey!

Hyuga: Hahahaha!! That should teach you a thing or...Wah?! What the?!

Mahmoud slides the ball down  with his arms to his stomach, causing his body to concave inward.  He then uses the ball's force to raise his legs upward and hook his body to the top post of the goal.  He then applies more pressure on the ball, causing it to completely stop.  He then does a forward flip and lands on the ground, shifting his gaze to the shocked-Hyuga.

Tono: Pierre! This is absolutely incredible!!

Pierre: It sure is, Tono! He stopped it like it was nothing!

Nitta <to Hyuga>: What was that about teaching him a lesson??

Mahmoud <smiling>: I call it "The Bat Trap", and I have trained day and night just to use it against YOU, Kojiro. Just, YOU!!

Hyuga <sweating like a waterfall>: Wah??

Tono: O Lord!! Did you hear that, Pierre?? This man is serious!!

Pierre: I am not surprised, Tono. I have heard that Saleem pushes his teammates to the limit, in order to perfect their skills.  We are definitely not witnessing a normal team, but a superior one!

Matsuyama and Misaki approach Hyuga, trying to calm him down and to absorb some of the shock off of his chest.

Misaki <putting his hand on Hyuga's shoulder>: Don't worry, Captain! Don't let that get to you, for you still didn't show him your deadly arsenal.

Matsuyama: Taro-kun is right.  We've got a lot of time to reverse the gameplay.

Hyuga <looking down in disappointment>: We will see...

Tono: The ball is in Bahrain's possession.  Ayman initiates the starting pass to Saleem, and off he goes with the ball!!

Pierre: Saleem seems to be confident that he'll reach Japan's goal with ease. Ah, here he makes a 1-2 pass to Jassim and skips the Tchibanna brothers.

Soda: You think you're good enough to face me?! SABER TACKLE!!

Saleem: Think again, Soda!!

Saleem runs with the speed of lightening towards Soda's tackle and then makes a high jump with the ball, skipping Soda who's too amazed to look where he is going.  Suddenly, he looks at where he's going and shrieks to the top of his lungs.


Tono: This is disastrous!!  Soda had just tackled his old buddy, Nitta!!

Pierre: And it seems that he is injured and cannot continue the match.  He has to be replaced, but not before something happens with Saleem!

Saleem runs towards the goal, only to confront the grotesque carcass of Jito.  Saleem stops the ball and digs his left leg into the ground, as if preparing to shoot.

Jito: What do you think you're doing?? Can't you see I'm standing right in front of you??

Tsubasa: He's going to smash Jito's face just as he did to Schmitt! Jito!! Duck when he shoots!!

Jito: Right on!!

Saleem: Hah! Fools...

Saleem shoots the ball towards Jito's face, but Jito ducks and avoids the ball.  The ball keeps soaring towards Wakashimazu.

Wakashimazu: I've got this one. It's easy.

Pierre: Wait!! The ball misses the net and hits the top post!!

Saleem: All right, NOOOW!!!

Saleem runs past Jito like a bullet and jumps into mid-air and does a quick double kick.  The ball flies downwards like hell with a buzzing noise.  It hits the ground and bounces right into Wakashimazu's stomach, pushing him upwards with its tremendous power and into the goal's net.

Tono: GOAL!!  Saleem scores!!  That leaves Bahrain with one goal and Japan ZERO!!

Tsubasa: Amazing!! That was totally uncalled for!

Santana <to Diaz>: What a genius!! He used a technique which he knew it will fool Tsubasa...

Diaz: Getting Jito to lose his guard in the process while he takes the time to prepare his incredible shot!

Hyuga walks to the goal to help his astonished friend.

Hyuga: Stand up, Wakashimazu-kun. It's nothing serious.

Wakashimazu: But, Captain...He scored in MY net!! How dare he makes a laughing stock out of the Karate Master?? Damn him!  That will be his last goal, I promise!

Hyuga <turning his sight to his opponent's goal>: And I've yet to show him what I'm really made of...

Pierre: And it's about time to take Nitta out of the field so he could be medicated!

Soda <crying>: How was I supposed to have noticed?! I am so sorry, dear Nitta!!

Nitta <faint smile>: Don't worry, Makoto-kun, it's all right...<sigh of pain>

Gamou <standing up>: All right. ISHIZAKI?!

Ryo <startled>: Uh YEAH??

Gamou: Get off your butt and start playing!

Ryo: What?? You crazy or nuts?? I am not going there! No sirree!!

Taki: What's wrong, Ishizaki?? Chicken??

Takasugi: Make that FRIED chicken!!

Izawa: Yeah, you're beginning to cook man!!

Kisugi: Wait, I'll go bring the seasoning! Hahahahahaha!!

Ryo <trembling>: SHUT UP!!

Tsubasa walks to Ryo and slaps his face.  Everybody's quiet for a moment...

Ryo <with a red cheek>: Wah...What the hell do you think you're doing??

Tsubasa: I dunno...Just felt like it I guess.

Ryo: You're an idiot, Tsubasa!!

Hyuga <aside>: Make that a bloody bastard!

Tsubasa: HEY!! I heard that!!!

Mikami: Hey you guys! We don't have much time to waste here! If Ishizaki is not going, then we'll just have to choose another player.

Katagiri: Ok. Who wants to replace Nitta on the field?

Nobody's responding....

Katagiri: Ummm....Guys?? Hello?? Katagiri to Planet Weirdo??

Still's quiet...Until Hyuga interrupts.

Hyuga: Wait, lemme choose...

ALL: No!!!!

Hyuga <covering his eyes with his hand>: Hmmm...Let's see. Einy meeny miny moe! Aha!! I choose you...MORISAKI!!

Everybody's quiet, looking at each other's faces in bewilderment.

Sorimachi: Uhh, dude; Morisaki is a goalkeeper...

Hyuga <slaps his forehead in embarrassment>: DOH!

Tsubasa: All right Ishizaki! We've wasted enough time!! Come along now!

Ryo: Oww!! My arm! You're hurting me man!! I think I can walk instead of being dragged across the field!!

Meanwhile, on the roads of Tokyo, we find Shingo Aoi and at the wheel of a rented Fiat with his buddy, Gino sitting right beside him on the passenger seat.  It seems that they are heading to the Stadium.

Shingo: Man! I didn't know that renting an economy car like this could cost a fortune!  The economy must have gone bad while I was away!

Gino: Could you drive a little faster for God's sake??

Shingo: All right, all right. You're beginning to piss me off, Hernandez. That woman of yours obviously brain-washed you for you to be in love with her that much!

Gino: You don't understand, Aoi! If Schneider arrives at the stadium before me, I could kiss the marriage proposal good-bye.

Shingo: <sigh>...All right then, hang in your seat coz uncle Aoi has a special weapon under his sleeve.

In a motion to impress Hernandez, Shingo, pounds down on the clutch and swiftly pulls the gear into overdrive...

Shingo <looking at the gear-shift>: Wait a minute, there is NO overdrive in this car! Shit!!

The gear eventually snaps in Shingo's hand, sending the car off-road and crashing into a nearby electric post.

Gino: Wonderful...

Back to the field, things are getting more tense with the Japanese National Team.  They don't know what to do, and are quite frankly scared of the final result.  Hyuga and Matsuyama stand at the center circle, preparing for the initial pass.

Matsuyama: It's my turn...

Hyuga: What?

Matsuyama: Pass me the ball, Kojiro-kun. I want to teach that goalkeeper not to mess with our team.

Hyuga thinks for a brief moment, and then smiles in agreement with Matsuyama.

Hyuga: I have faith in you, Hikaru. Show'em who's boss!

Tono: The referee blows the whistle.  Hyuga in a cooperative manner passes the ball to Matsuyama.  He avoids Hussein's attempt to steal with no problem.  Matsuyama then passes the ball to Misaki, who runs with the ball.  Jalal and Ahmed try to tackle him, but swift Misaki is too fast for them. Way to go, Misaki!!

Pierre: I have always regarded Taro a valuable player. I know that from experience because he lived in France for a while, and I got to see who he really is.  Since he forms a Golden Combo with Tsubasa Ozora, he is often diregarded and the focus of the credit goes to Tsubasa.  But when it comes to his individual skills, you can really witness them in tight situations like this.

Misaki: The ball is yours, Masao!

Misaki passes the ball to Masao who runs with the ball along side his twin brother.  A series of 1-2's confuse their opponents, which enables them to get closer to the goal.  When they do, Kazou passes the ball back to Matsuyama, who's been waiting near the goal for the opportunity to score.  He gets hold of the ball and none of the players are surrounding him, which Tsubasa finds to be very weird.

Tsubasa <to himself>: If they don't care about protecting their goal from Matsuyama's shot, then they are very confident that Mahmoud will stop it.  This means that Matsuyama might fail to score just as Hyuga did before him!

Hongo: Mikami-san, are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Mikami: I think I am, Roberto.  Matsuyama is wasting his time.

Katagiri: Exactly...

Matsuyama <shooting>: Mahmoud!! I give you...THE TORNADO SHOT!!

Matsuyama axles his right foot and performs a quick 270-degree foley, shooting the ball with incredible speed and agility.  The ball wiggles in the air as if it is a raging storm going to pluck houses from their foundations.  The amount of dust surrounding the ball is amazing, just amazing enough for the crowd to remain silent and hold their breaths, with fingers crossed.

Mahmoud: Another fool...Wait till I see the expression on your face when I stop your shot!

Tono: Mahmoud is beginning to turn like a tornado himself, ladies and gentlemen!!  However, our slow-motion camera shows that he is turning clock-wise, whereas the ball is turning in the opposite direction!

Pierre: Of course!! The figure-skating technique!

By Mahmoud's circulating movement, he is harnessing enough counterforce to face Matsuyama's ball.  When the inevitable was about to happen, Mahmoud does a quick stop and receives the ball right in his chest, holding it from the sides by both of his hands.  The ball stops as if it was in Mahmoud's grip the whole time.  The crowd let out a gasp of amazement, and Matsuyama falls on his knees, verily shocked and bewildered.

Matsuyama: M...My...My shot!! Unbelievably stopped like a beach ball!

Saleem <looking at Tsubasa and Misaki>: I think you should give up and go home!  Your team is no match for my goalkeeper!  We will definitely win this match with ease!

Tsubasa: In yours dreams, pal! I am no quitter, and you'll know that if you were watching all my matches since 1983!

Saleem: Huh??

Misaki <aside to Tsubasa>: I think you should use your ultimate shot, for it will definitely be a winning ticket on our side...

Tsubasa <aside>: But you've heard Hongo.  I can't perform that shot except under those specific conditions.  There's only one thing to do right now!

Misaki: What?? What is it?? Are you going to pray for rain??

Tsubasa: Exactly!!

Misaki: Oh, give me a break!!

Tsubasa falls on his knees, joins his hands together and looks up to the skies, tears of hope and desperation running down his cheek.

Gamou: What the hell does Tsubasa think he's doing??

Katagiri: I knew it, I knew it!! That monkey is doing this on purpose just to embarrass me in front of everybody!

Diaz <to Sanatana>: Wait, I thought you said that Hyuga was the monk?? I'm confused!


Author <miraculously intruding>: What is it that you seek, my child?

Tsubasa: I besiege thee, O Thrift and Wise Author of Stories and what not, to make it rain so I shall fulfill my covenant with my fellow teammates!

Author: Hey, who do you think I am? Zeus?? You're asking the wrong guy, buddy!

Pierre: Tono, is it just me, or did you feel a drop of water fall on your head??

Tono: Yes, Pierre, I believe that it is actually beginning to rain!!! Let's bring up the shades, boys!

Author <to the reader>: Well, I am the author, aren't I? So cut me some slack! :-P

The dome closes its glass roof, and the lights go on to light up the dark stadium, and the air conditioners are roaring in silence.  Tsubasa and Roberto smile at the same time and know that some action will take place in a moment!

The referee blows the whistle.  Jassim passes the ball to Jalal.  Jalal runs with the ball, avoiding Sano and the Tchibanna's attempts to steal the ball.  He then shoots a long pass to Ayman who is running on the right-side of the field.  Ayman is fast, so he reaches halfway to the goal and shoots a strong ball to Saleem who receives it with his chest.  Just before Saleem could even react, Tsubasa runs in his direction and does a surprisingly accurate tackle, cutting off the ball from Saleem with absolute grace.

Saleem: What the?? I can't believe it!! Nobody has ever done this to me before and succeeded!  Khalil and Yaseen! Stop him!!

Tsubasa's eyes begin to spark with fire, a sight which frieghtens Khalil and Yaseen, so they decide not to stand in the "bulldozer's" way.

Tono: Tsubasa is causing a tremor from his wild running!  His opponents feel so weak and helpless towards him.

Pierre: This time, they're actually avoiding him instead of letting him through like they did with the others. Absolutely astonishing!  He is stopping 15 feet away from the goal!

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, and the crowd is dead silent!

Mahmoud: Oh, Lord!

Saleem: No, no!! This can't be!!

Tsubasa: Oh yes it can!! GO, COMET OF HELL, GO!!

The ball virtually splits into three glowing spheres of red, blue and green light, sparking out short bursts of 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.

Mahmoud: What is this?  How am I supposed to figure out which ball is the real one in a very short time limit??

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 Mahmoud.  However, Mahmoud tries running towards the bright comet.  But the ball goes right past Mahmoud's left 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 Mahmoud 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.  Mahmoud fell on the ground in shock.  Everyone just watched in silence and pondered about what just had happened.  Saleem's jaw drops to the ground in disbelief.  Tsubasa on the other hand seems quite happy with the result.

Tono: Ladies and gentlemen...

Pierre: It's a TIED GAME!

Then the dead silence resumes all over the place for a while, before the crowd gained control and started clapping cheerfully and loudly, shouting Tsubasa's name in victory.  Misaki hugs Tsubasa, and the rest of the teammates followed.  As for Saleem, he now became more sure than ever, that Tsubasa is indeed The Ultimate Challenge.

 Part Fourteen