“What am I doing here?” Jackie Chan pondered as he wondered through the halls of the massive arena. An archaeologist in khaki slacks and a blue sweatshirt, like himself, had little business being among the superheroes and fighters gathered here tonight. Of course, he does have some mad skillz himself.

            “Hey Jackie!”

            “BWAA!” Unfortunately, keeping track of his niece, Jade, was not one of them.

            “Jade,” Jackie scolded the little girl in the orange hooded sweatshirt...again. “What are you doing here?”

            “I’m here to cheer you on in you match,” Jade responded cheerfully. “Good luck!”

            “Well-WHAT?!? My match?” Jackie questioned his niece, more confused than before. “What match? I don’t have a match! I don’t want to have a match!”

            “Duh,” Jade corrected her uncle. “You’re fighting in a Ladder Match against Rob...Van...Dam.” Jade even mimicked RVD’s “thumb pointing” while she said his name. It was cute.

            “That’s crazy, Jade,” Jackie dismissed the idea. “You’re crazy!”

            He didn’t see the old Chinese man’s fingers headed or his forehead until it was too late.




            “Jackie!!!” The old man’s shrill voice rang throughout the hallway. “You must fight tonight! You must climb the ladder and retrieve the talismans! Their magic must not fall into the wrong hands!”

            “Uncle,” Jackie began only moments before Uncle’s words caught up with him. “The Talismans?!? Why are the talismans here? Since when?”

            “That does not matter,” Uncle answered. “Jackie! You must fight!...And advertise ‘Uncle’s Antique Shop’! Is good for business!”

            “But Uncle...,” Jackie Chan continued to object, but as suddenly as he found out about his match, he gave in. “Okay. When is the match?”

            “In about...five minutes,” Jade answered Jackie as Uncle grabbed his arm and dragged him out to the ring.

            “Wha-?” Chan started to object as he was dragged towards the ring.

            “Good luck!” Jade waved happily.

* * * * *

            “You heard right folks,” Hiroshi excitedly announced. “Jackie Chan and RVD! In a Ladder Match!” Hiroshi also did RVD’s “thumb pointing” taunt. “Two amazing martial artists going head-to-head, fist-to-fist, and up the ladder!”

            “Calm yourself, Hiroshi,” Daisuke said without even looking up from his Game Boy Advance.

            “And the prize is the twelve magic Chinese talismans,” J.R. added. “Only the talismans are hanging high above the ring and our competitors will have to climb a fifteen foot ladder in order to get to them, but first, they have to get the ladder into the ring, while avoiding the other fighter.”

            Just as J.R. had said, the talismans were in a steel lined attaché case hanging high above the center of the ring. The fifteen-foot wooden ladder, painted black, was sitting just outside the ring, awaiting the impending battle.

            “This is gonna be great J.R!” King chimed in, as always, looking forward to the carnage that awaits. “What do you think Daisuke?”

            “Huh?” Daisuke finally looked up from his video game when he heard his name. “Oh yeah, great. Whatever.”

            “Anyway,” Daffy began. “Although I hate to interrupt this dazzling intellectual conversation, MY partner is waiting to interview two members of tonight’s tag team main event, Ranma Saotome and The Rock! Take it away, Toots!”

* * * * *

            ‘‘Thanks Daffy,’’ April said into her microphone. ‘‘But call me ‘Toots’ again and I’ll rip of your beak off and stick it where the sun don’t shine.’’

            Daffy’s audible gulp could be heard even over the roar of the crowd’s laughter.

            ‘‘I am here with budding Hollywood celebrity and WWE superstar, The Rock!’’ April said indicating the large, tan skinned man in black windbreaker pants and self-styled T-shirt (The crowd’s reaction was indicated as stellar by scientists watching on PPV).

            The Rock stared at the camera from behind dark sunglasses, underneath short black hair with sharp sideburns, and an arrogant smirk a he snatched the microphone from April’s hand.

            ‘‘Thanks Jabronette,’’ The Rock began. ‘‘But The Rock’s done enough of these interviews to know what you’re gonna say, ‘How does The Rock feel about teaming up with Ranma Saotome to fight Ryoga and Stone Cold Steve Austin?’ Is that right?’’

            The Rock held the microphone out to April and pulled it away before she could answer.

            ‘‘Of course it’s right,’’ He continued. ‘‘You want to know how The Rock feels? The Rock will tell you how he feels! The Rock feels good, baby! The Rock feels great! The Rock can’t wait for his match! What about Stone Cold? The Rock has beaten Stone Cold in the middle of that ring, 1-2-3,and The Rock will do it again! As for Ryoga Hibiki, The Rock has nothing against Ryoga. In fact, The Rock wrote a little nursery rhyme for Ryoga. It goes a little something like this: This little piggy went to market, This little piggy stayed home, This little piggy whupped your ass, This little piggy whupped it too, And this little piggy got doused with hot water, turned into a dim-witted, too-strong-for-his-own-good lost boy, and got his ass whupped...BY THE ROCK!’’

            ‘‘Well,’’ April said, having gotten a new microphone. ‘‘That was...interesting. Anyway, Ranma Saotome, what about you? What do you think about tonight’s match-up?’’

            The young martial artist standing next to The Rock, looked rightfully annoyed that he had been ignored for so long. However, the young man with black hair tied back in a short pig-tailed braid answered April’s query.

            ‘‘I fought Ryoga plenty a times,’’ Ranma said. ‘‘He can be a little tough sometimes, but--’’

            ‘‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, WHOA! You don’t interrupt The Rock!’’ The Rock interrupted. ‘‘You never interrupt The Rock! And who in the Blue Hell is Ranma Saotome?!?’’

            ‘‘I’m Ran--’’

            ‘‘IT DOESN’T MATTER WHO RANMA SAOTOME IS!!!’’ ‘‘Listen, Rockhead!’’ Ranma snapped. ‘‘If you wanna start somethin--’’

            ‘‘Ranma, Ranma,’’ The Rock calmly addressed. ‘‘The Rock’s just playin’, Baby. Relax. In fact, The Rock has a little question for you?’’

            ‘‘Yeah?’’ Ranma asked cautiously. ‘‘What?’’

            ‘‘Ranma Saotome,’’ The Rock asked. ‘‘Do you like...pie?’’

            ‘‘Huh?’’ Saotome pondered the question for a second. ‘‘Uhh...Yeah, I guess I like to eat pie.’’

            ‘‘Yeah,’’ Rock laughed. ‘‘The Rock bets you do! So that’s why you got all those chicks and fiancés chasin’ you!’’

            ‘‘Wait a second!’’ Ranma shouted. ‘‘What does that have to do with eating pie?’’

            ‘‘RANMA YOU JERK!!!’’ A female voice screeched moments before a large mallet impacted with the martial artist’s head.

            ‘‘A-Akane...?’’ Ranma groaned weakly from his space on the floor.

            Akane Tendo, a girl with short black hair wearing her school uniform of a light blue apron dress over white blouse, stood over the bludgeoned boy holding her mallet over her shoulder.

            ‘‘It’s bad enough you’re a pervert at home,’’ Akane angrily accused. ‘‘But on international television?!? That’s low even for you!’’

            ‘‘Who’s a pervert?!?’’’ Ranma yelled back as he got up and confronted his attacker/fiancé. ‘‘And why are you worryin’ about perverts for anyway, ya uncute tomboy?!?’’

            ‘‘‘Uncute’?!?’’ Akane screamed. ‘‘I come with you all the way here to help you and this is the thanks I get?’’

            ‘‘What about Ryoga?’’ Ranma asked incredulously.

            ‘‘What about Ryoga?’’ Akane snapped back.

            April and The Rock simply stood back and watched as the two continued to bicker and fight.

            Finally, he Rock turned to the camera.

            ‘‘The Rock guesses there’s just one more thing to do,’’ He said dramatically. ‘‘There’s only one thing the millions...AND THE MILLIONS of The Rock’s fans need to know. The Rock’ll go out there and whip both Stone Cold and Pig Boy’s candy-asses, with or without a partner! IF YA SMELLLLL...WHAT THE ROCK...IS COOKIN’!!!’’

* * * * *

            ‘‘Looks like The Rock is all fired up!’’ J.R. shouted.

            ‘‘And Ranma is flat on the floor,’’ Daisuke sighed. ‘‘...Again.’’

            ‘‘That’s right!’’ Hiroshi cheered. ‘‘He’s ready to get down and dirty against all comers! Just try to keep Ranma down!’’

            ‘‘You just don’t get it,’’ Daffy shook his head in pity.

            ‘‘The following match-up is the Magic Talisman Ladder Match!’’ The Announcer suddenly told the waiting crowd.

            The sound of a descending guitar rift resonated through the arena as the crowd’s attention turned to the entranceway.


            Smokey pyro exploded from the stage and both the music and fans began to rock as the fighter began to accompany his theme, “One of a Kind” by Breaking Point, to the ring.

o/` The Fear I See When I Look In Your Eyes,

Makes You Believe I’m One of a Kind!

The Fear You Feel In the Back of Your Mind,

Makes You Believe I’m...ONE OF A KIND! o/`

            ‘‘First, making his way to the ring, from Battle Creek, Michigan, weighing in at 275 pounds...’’

            The man paused mid-stride in order to use his thumbs to point to himself in time with his name.


            Although he had the appearance of a surfer, with rugged good looks and dusty blond hair tied back in a loose ponytail, with a laid-back attitude to match, RVD’s true self appeared in his wrestling attire. The modified wrestling singlet was adorned with a storm of black, white, grays and purple and depicted a tiger and Chinese dragon battling over a Yin Yang symbol.

            The martial artist of balance and peace leapt into the ring and deftly twirled to acknowledge his cheering fans and face the entrance to wait for his opponent.

            A fast-paced Chinese hip-hop beat played as Jackie Chan entered the arena and made his way down the ramp. As he walked, Chan smiled meekly and made a nervous wave to the crowd.

            ‘‘And his opponent, from San Francisco, adventurer/archeologist, Jackie Chan!’’

            ‘‘Funny,’’ Daisuke said. ‘‘You don’t see many guys get into the ring in a sweatshirt and khaki pants.’’

            ‘‘Whatever,’’ Daffy dismissed. ‘‘As long as he’s comfortable.’’

            ‘‘He doesn’t look very comfortable,’’ Daisuke observed as Chan timidly stepped through the ropes and into the ring.

            ‘‘Mr. Van Dam,’’ Jackie tried to explain as soon as he entered the ring. ‘‘You don’t understand! These talismans are very dangerous! They are magic! We should not fight for them!’’

            ‘‘Sorry, man,’’ RVD stated coolly. ‘‘But this is a combat sport. If you want them you are gonna have to fight for them.’’

            ‘‘But I already did fight for them!’’ Chan complained. ‘‘...A lot!’’

            ‘‘So what’s one more time gonna hurt?’’ Rob Van Dam reasoned, slipping into a fighting stance.






            As soon as he heard the bell, Chan leapt from the ring to the ladder outside, and scrambled to the top. The twelve talismans of the Chinese zodiac inside, belonging to an ancient demon sorcerer, were too dangerous to fall into the wrong hands.

            ‘‘And Chan immediately goes for the ladder!’’ J.R. shouted as Jackie prepared to make a jump for the case hanging high above the ring.

            ‘‘Does that even count?’’ King wondered, thinking of how many elements of a traditional ladder match Chan was bypassing.

            Not knowing if that would count, but fearing that it could, RVD reached outside the ring and pushed the ladder, toppling it over.

            Instead of falling with the ladder, Chan fell back to the ring and landed perfectly balanced on the ropes.

            ‘‘Wow!’’ Hiroshi cheered. ‘‘Now that’s impressive!’’

            ‘‘Or at least it would be,’’ Daffy sarcastically quipped. ‘‘If he was actually balanced!’’

            (Okay, so not that perfectly balanced).

            Jackie’s arms flailed about as he tried to stand up strait on the top rope. RVD wasted no time in trying to knock Chan’s legs out from under him with a high sweeping kick.

            Chan dodged the attack by flipping over to the turnbuckle and rebounding off it. Finally, he attacked RVD with a roundhouse kick, which Mr. Pay-Per- View easily ducked underneath.

            ‘‘Jackie Chan has finally got his head in the game with his first offensive maneuver!’’ Hiroshi shouted.

            ‘‘That’s true,’’ Daisuke admitted. ‘‘Chan wasn’t gonna last very long without fighting back.’’

            ‘‘RVD still ain’t no pushover,’’ King said. ‘‘He’s not gonna be easy, even for Jackie Chan!’’

            ‘‘That’s for sure,’’ J.R. agreed. ‘‘RVD’s got those educated feet; One went to Harvard, the other to Yale!’’

            In the ring, RVD was using those educated feet to assault his opponent. Jackie Chan, however, was having no difficulty blocking and returning the assault.

            Their tirade ended when Rob Van Dam ducked underneath a strait punch and tried to take Chan down with a leg sweep, which caused the Chinese marital artist to backflip across the ring to avoid the attack.

            Van Dam quickly followed, and leapt over Jackie’s kick to his gut. Twisting in the air, RVD turned his evasion into a spinning kick that nailed Chan in the face.

            While Jackie was still falling to the mat, RDV raced across the ring, bounced off the ropes and tucked into a ball, rolling back across the ring until he reached his prone opponent.

            ‘‘Rolling Thunder!’’ J.R. acknowledged as RVD bounced into the air, crashing down on top of Chan.

            ‘‘RVD has taken the upper hand!’’ Hiroshi shouted.

            ‘‘Question is,’’ Daisuke detracted. ‘‘Can he keep the upper hand long enough to set up the ladder and climb to the top?’’

            Instead of going for the ladder, RVD dragged Jackie Chan’s prone form to a corner of the ring.

            ‘‘Looks like RVD is going for one of the high-risk maneuvers he’s known for!’’ Hiroshi anticipated. ‘‘He could put Chan away for good!’’

            ‘‘The match, and those magic talismans, would be all his,’’ King agreed. ‘‘If he doesn’t mess up.’’

            RVD leaped up to the top rope, split his legs and bounced off the rope on each side of the turnbuckle. As Van Dam flipped off the top rope, Jackie wisely rolled out of the ring causing RVD to meet nothing but the solid mat.

            ‘‘Oooo!’’ King laughed. ‘‘You know what, Daf?’’

            ‘‘What?’’ Daffy asked.

            ‘‘He messed up!’’

            ‘‘RVD missed the Springboard Moonsault,’’ J.R. elaborated. ‘‘Now Jackie Chan has a chance to take a much needed breather!’’

            Indeed, Jackie Chan was on the outside of the ring, leaning against the ring apron and holding his wounded chest.
            Inside the ring, RVD was recovering quickly as he rolled outside the ring on the adjacent side as Chan. RVD kneeled against the ring apron himself and pulled it up and reached inside.

            ‘‘What’s RVD going for?’’ King wondered.

            ‘‘It’s a steel chair!!!’’ Hiroshi shouted as Van Dam pulled out and raised the traditional metal folding weapon.

            ‘‘What a surprise,’’ Daffy and Daisuke snarked in unison...then stared quizzically at each other.

            RVD readied the offensive sitting device and stalked to the corner of the ring. He quickly turned the corner and prepared to swing at...nothing.

            Rob Van Dam stared at the side of the ring Chan had been just a second ago.

            ‘‘Where the heck did he go?’’ Daffy asked.

            His question was answered when Jackie Chan crawled out from under the side of the ring RVD had just been on.

            Jackie leapt forward and delivered a flying kick to RVD, who used the steel chair to keep his balance as he fell forward.

            ‘‘Jackie Chan!’’ Hiroshi cheered in a Pauly Shore drawl. ‘‘Usin’ the stealth!’’

            ‘‘Stop it, Hiroshi,’’ Daisuke warned. ‘‘You’re going to get yourself hurt...again.’’

            RVD immediately recovered, whirled around and swung the steel chair at Chan’s head. However, Jackie Chan ducked under the chair shot and kicked RVD in the gut.

            RVD next tried a downward swing, but Chan stood, wound up inside Van Dam’s arms, and retorted with a quick jab to the face.

            Van Dam staggered back, still holding the steel chair, and decided to change tactics. Instead of attacking, he lobbed the steel chair over to his opponent.
            Jackie Chan caught the steel chair and held it up in front if him. Before he could even wonder why, RVD struck with a spinning back kick, smashing the chair into his face.

            ‘‘RVD catches Chan with the Van Daminator!’’ J.R. announced as Jackie Chan fell. ‘‘Now’s RVD’s chance to get the ladder!’’

            RVD grabbed Jackie Chan by the hair and hauled him to his feet, only to punch him one more time.

            ‘‘I don’t think so J.R.!’’ King said as RVD lifted the dazed Jackie Chan and dropped him onto the audience guardrail. ‘‘It looks like RVD is looking to put Jackie Chan down for good first!’’

            As Jackie Chan laid stomach-down across the guardrail, RVD jumped onto the ring apron and turned to face the cheering crowd.

            ‘‘R...V...D!’’ He pointed to himself and led the crowd in his chant then leaped from the ring, spinning in the air. Van Dam’s leg drop came down like an axe on the back of Jackie’s head.

            ‘‘Whoa!’’ Hiroshi cringed as Chan flipped back over the guardrail and landed in a heap on the mats outside the ring. ‘‘That’s gotta be enough!’’

            ‘‘Doesn’t look like it,’’ Daffy chimed as RVD rolled Jackie Chan’s body into the ring. RVD then picked up the steel chair and rolled into the ring himself.

            Rob placed Jackie’s prone body in the corner of the ring and propped him up against the ring post. RVD then held up the chair for all the cheering crowd to see, then walked across the ring and climbed the adjacent ring post.


            ‘‘Rob’s going to do the Van-Terminator!!!’’ J.R. shouted as RVD leaped from the ring post, placing the steel chair by his feet as he sailed through the air.

            ‘‘Oh no!’’ King gasped.

            But just as RVD was about to drive the chair into his prone opponent, Jackie Chan sprang into action. Chan sprang from the corner, kicking the steel into Van Dam’s face and leapfrogging over the mid-air chaos, only to land on his feet while RVD and the chair crashed into the ring post.

            This prompted from the fans a mixture of both cheers and jeers.

            ‘‘A rather mixed reaction from the crowd,’’ Daisuke observed.

            ‘‘Well,’’ J.R. said. ‘‘RVD is a pretty popular superstar.’’

            ‘‘But you gotta admit,’’ Hiroshi smiled. ‘‘That was a pretty cool trick!’’

            Jackie wasted little time to stumble outside the ring to retrieve the fallen ladder.

            ‘‘Jackie Chan feeling the effects of the assault by RVD,’’ J.R. said, regarding Chan’s slight gait as he picked up the ladder and slid it into the ring.

            When Jackie followed the ladder into the ring, he lifted it, prepared to set it up, and RVD’s surprise kick knocked it out of his hands.

            Before Chan could react, Van Dam grabbed the ladder and swung it like an awkward sword.

            ‘‘And now, Van Dam is using the ladder as a weapon!’’ J.R. shouted.

            ‘‘That’s interesting,’’ Daffy drawled.

            ‘‘That’s not nearly as interesting as the fact they’re both still standing,’’ Daisuke drawled right back.

            Back in the ring, Chan was in his element as RVD attacked him with the ladder, his only key to regaining the dangerous Chinese talismans.

            The ladder passed over Chan as he bent over backwards to avoid it, hopped over the sweep to his legs, and dodged to the side as RVD jabbed the ladder forth.

            As the ladder passed by his side, Jackie Chan grabbed the wooden faux- weapon and, after a moderate struggle, twisted it from RVD’s grip.

            Being at the wider end, it was more difficult or Rob to dodge Jackie’s ladder attacks. He ducked under a wide swipe to the head, jumped over a sweep to his feet, but then Chan jabbed the ladder into his gut, flipped it around, and trapped the Michigander martial artist between two of the rungs.

            ‘‘Jackie Chan has turned the tables on Rob Van Dam and trapped him in the ladder!’’ J.R. shouted.

            ‘‘Now there’s tables involved?’’ Hiroshi pondered, looking around for a folding table the combatants could use as yet another impromptu weapon.

            ‘‘Hiroshi,’’ Daffy said. ‘‘Here’s a showbiz tip: Quit while you’re ahead. But in your case, you should just quit.’’

            Jackie Chan pushed the ladder back until it hit the ring post, then set his end down on the mat. He readied himself and then ran up the ladder at full speed.

            ‘‘Jackie’s using the ladder as a ramp!’’ J.R. yelled right before Chan delivered a sliding kick to RVD.

            Van Dam slumped in the rungs of the ladder and fell through into a heap on the mat as Jackie Chan flipped off the ladder.

            ‘‘Whoa!’’ King shouted. ‘‘That was incredible!’’

            ‘‘You bet, King!’’ Hiroshi popped. ‘‘And you can expect nothing less from EMW!!!’’’

            ‘‘Geez,’’ Daffy groaned. ‘‘Shameless plug much, Cloney?’’

            A visibly winded Jackie Chan picked up the ladder and set it up in the center of the ring, right under the case of talismans.

            ‘‘Chan’s going up the ladder!’’ J.R. announced as Chan slowly began to climb.

            ‘‘He’s going to get the talismans!’’ Hiroshi cheered as he watched Jackie Chan continue to slowly trudge up the steps. ‘‘He could win this right now!’’

            When Chan made it about three quarters of the way up, RVD awoke and instinctively sprang into action. He again grabbed the ladder and toppled it over and again bringing Chan down with it.

            This time, instead of jumping off, Jackie Chan swung to the side and rebounded off the ropes to return the ladder to a vertical stance...only to have it fall down on the other side.

            ‘‘Jackie’s effort failed,’’ Daisuke stated plainly. ‘‘The ladder’s going down the other side.’’

            ‘‘Jackie’s valiant effort has failed!!!’’ Hiroshi shouted in a panic. ‘‘Now the ladder’s going down the other side!!!’’

            ‘‘Yeah,’’ Daisuke yawned. ‘‘What he said.’’

            As Jackie fell with the ladder, Mr. Pay-Per-View earned his nickname by jumping up and grabbing the ladder on it’s way down, springboarding off the ropes, and pushing the ladder and his opponent back up.

            Jackie Chan and Rob Van Dam enacted a careful balancing act as the ladder teetered back and forth, threatening to topple yet again.

            When they finally managed to cease the precarious state of their perilous perch, Jackie and RVD shared a relieved smile with one another, then realized what they were doing and began to scramble up the ladder.

            ‘‘Okay,’’ Daffy smiled as his companions were rendered speechless. ‘‘Even I have to admit, that was pretty cool.’’

            Both combatants reached the top at the same immediately tried to push the other off. Pushes turned to shoves and the shoving turned to punches. The punches quickly became a flurry of fast-paced martial arts. Punches and chops were delivered, blocked, and dodged with such skill and precision it would make a surgeon jealous.

            ‘‘Chan and RVD showing an impressive display of ability on the top of the ladder,’’ J.R. said in awe.

            ‘‘They’re also showing an impressive degree of balance,’’ Daisuke added.

            ‘‘That’s right Dai!’’ Hiroshi hyped and Daisuke rolled his eyes. ‘‘The ladder isn’t even moving!’’

            Which remained true until Chan attempted a high spinning kick. However, when RVD ducked underneath it, Chan suffered a momentary loss of balance and ended up facing the wrong way. A simple push was all it took for RVD to send his opponent tumbling through the air.

            ‘‘OH MY GOD!!!’’ J.R. yelled as Jackie Chan fell to the mat, shaking the canvas upon impact. ‘‘Chan, taking a huge gamble that didn’t pay off, and falling fifteen feet off the ladder!!!’’

            ‘‘Chan looks down and out!’’ King said. ‘‘All Van Dam has to do is reach up and--Wait! What’s he doing?!?’’

            Instead of reaching for the talisman case and ending the brutal match, Rob Van Dam stepped to the top step and looked down on the form of his fallen foe, which was now slowly beginning to move. ‘‘It’s dangerous to be on the top step you know,’’ Daffy smirked as Chan rolled over onto his back.

            ‘‘For which one?’’ Daisuke falsely pondered.

            From the top of the ladder, Rob Van Dam stood tall and took in the expectant cheers of the crowd.

            ‘‘He cant’ be thinking--!’’ J.R. worried.

            ‘‘He is,’’ Daisuke assured.

            ‘‘R... V... D!!!’’ The fans shouted before Van Dam took a dive off the ladder.

            ‘‘AHHHH!!!’’ King squealed.

            Van Dam crouched in mid-air, twisted around, and spread out his body in order to land adjacent and belly-to-belly onto the archaeologist/adventurer.

            ‘‘FIVE-STAR FROG SPLASH!!!’’ J.R. yelled as RVD crashed down on top of Jackie Chan with rib-cracking force. ‘‘FIVE-STAR FROG SPLASH OFF THE FIFTEEN FOOT LADDER!!!’’

            ‘‘FIFTEEN FEET ONTO ANOTHER HUMAN BEING!!!’’ Hiroshi yelled as Van Dam rolled off Chan, holding his ribs in pain. Jackie was rolled into a painful fetal position and remained still. ‘‘THAT COULD CAUSE SOME SERIOUS PERMINANT DAMAGE!!!’’

            ‘‘What bugs me is that RVD had this match in the bag,’’ Daisuke sulked as Rob slowly dragged himself towards the ladder. ‘‘Now he’ll be lucky if he can find the strength to crawl.’’

            But crawl he did. Rob Van Dam dragged himself to the ladder and used the bottom rung to haul his weakened body up.

            Step-by-step, RVD slowly pulled himself up the ladder, back to the top and the coveted prize he was so close to only moments before. At times it seemed as if the support of the fans was the only thing lifting him up as they cheered him on until he reached the top.

            ‘‘Well, it’s academic by this point!’’ J.R. said as the martial artist/wrestler unhooked the case and held it up in victory, eliciting wild cheers and general celebration. ‘‘Rob Van Dam now has the power of twelve magic Chinese talismans!’’

            ‘‘Well,’’ Daffy yawned. ‘‘That’s that.’’
            ‘‘‘‘I miss puppies!’’ King whined. ‘‘I miss April!’’

            ‘‘RVD has the talismans! Jackie Chan has been defeated!’’ Hiroshi screamed. ‘‘What can we possibly do to top that match?!?’’

            ‘‘How about a Survivor Series-style elimination match with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?’’ Daisuke asked plainly as RVD began to climb down the ladder in the ring.

            ‘‘That could do it,’’ Hiroshi answered.

            ‘‘Yay!’’ King squealed with glee as Miss O’Neil accompanied a medical team down to the ring. ‘‘April’s coming back!’’

            Laying on the mat, Jackie Chan had yet to move.

* * * * *

            ‘‘I am fairly certain that they do not allow smoking in this building,’’ The stunningly beautiful, white-haired African woman scolded her companion.

            ‘‘Yeah?’’ The shorter, hairy man asked in a gruff voice that was almost a feral growl. ‘‘What’re they gonna do? Shoot me?’’

            ‘‘There are beings here that can do much worse than that, Logan,’’ The woman said as her sky blue eyes became a solid white, lightning dancing between them.

            At the same time, a small rain cloud grew above the tip of Logan’s cigar. In fact, he could even feel the static electricity of lightning tingle the hairs on his unkempt face.

            The man called Logan stared at the tiny cloud with a steely gaze, but still took a moment to process what the woman had said.

            ‘‘Yeah, yeah,’’ Logan groused as he put out the cigar himself. ‘‘You made yer point, ‘Rorro.’’

            ‘‘I still don’t understand why you insisted on accompanying me,’’ Ororo Monroe, the mutant also known as Storm of the X-Men, pondered. ‘‘I do not need your protection.’’

            ‘‘I know you don’t,’’ Logan said with a knowing smirk. ‘‘I’m here for a fight, same as you.’’

            ‘‘You weren’t asked to compete here tonight,’’ Storm said questionably. ‘‘Only I was.’’

            ‘‘Yeah, I don’t have a match,’’ Logan agreed. ‘‘...Yet.’’

            ‘‘I did not allow you to come here with me to start trouble, Logan,’’ Storm said with a disappointed scowl. ‘‘Although, knowing your temperament, I should’ve expected as much.’’

            ‘‘Hey,’’ He said plainly. ‘‘I ain’t gonna start a thing. Trust me.’’

            ‘‘Fine,’’ Storm conceded, but not really believing him. ‘‘Please, just try to stay out of trouble.’’

            ‘‘Relax ‘Rorro,’’ Logan said as he pulled another stogie from his leather jacket. ‘‘You know me.’’

            ‘‘Yes, I do,’’ She said. ‘‘And that is what worries me.’’

            ‘‘Heh,’’ The X-Man codenamed Wolverine chuckled as he began to walk away. ‘‘And good luck with that Women’s Title Match. Give ‘em hell.’’

* * * * *

            “Wow!” Jade Chan shouted as she rushed into the infirmary and hugged her uncle. “What a great match! That was so awesome!”

            “Oww! Ribs!” Jackie shouted in pain just before Jade released his bandaged stomach and dropped down from the bed her uncle was sitting on.

            “Too bad you LOST!” Jade suddenly scolded.

            Before the older Chan even had a chance to ponder his niece’s change in attitude, the middle and fore fingers of the eldest Chan struck his temple. *THWACK!!!*

            “Oww!” Jackie rubbed his head, which was now even sorer then it had already been.

            “Jackie!” The bi-spectacle wearing Uncle’s shrill voice rang throughout the infirmary. “How could you?!?”

            “I know Uncle,” Jackie bowed his head in shame. “I lost the talismans.”

            “Yes, losing the talismans is bad,” Uncle calmly stated before “thwacking” Jackie yet again. “But Uncle is mad about you not advertising his shop! You are BAD advertiser!”

            “Uncle,” Jackie muttered. “We have to find where Mr. Van Dam is! We MUST retrieve the talismans!”

            “Hey guys,” A cocky voice came from the infirmary’s doorway. “I’m right here.”

            All three members of the “Chan Clan” turned to see none other than Rob Van Dam standing there, holding the metal case he had just fought so very hard for. His hair was messed up and he had a few bandages of his own, but there was no mistaking the cocky grin on his face, regardless of the match he just went through.

            ‘‘Rob!” Jackie shouted as he jumped up off the infirmary bed, despite the pain he was in. “I know this might sound crazy, but you HAVE to give us the talismans! We can put them in a safe place! In the wrong hands, they can be very dangerous! You must trust me!”

            “I know,” RVD said calmly as he held out the metal briefcase. “Here.”

            “Wha--?” Jackie blanched.

            “You’re going to put these in a safe place, right?” Rob said, still holding the cocky smile on his face. “Section 13? There’s an autographed photo for Captain Black in there.”

            “Uhh...right,” Jackie answered with a confused smile and took the talismans from RVD. “Thank you.”

            “Hey, don’t you want to use the talismans’ magic?” Little Jade Chan wondered (After all, RVD’s arsenal of moves would be even cooler with magic powers thrown in).

            “Hey Squirt,” RVD proudly proclaimed. “I don’t need magic, ‘cause I’m Rob...Van...Dam!”

* * * * *


To Be Continued…