By Brian Randall
Disclaimer: Nice try. Check the author's notes after you read the fic.
It was a grim, dark world, plagued with over-population, near-constant mass rioting, and a nearly complete lack of resources.
But even in dark times, there were wealthy, and the wealthy had their sport.
The bright lights snapped on, one after another in rapid succession, illuminating the sterile implements and a well cared-for series of flags, each near the portraits of their respective defenders.
Near the apex of the arena, nearly impossible to discern due to the blinding glare of the lighting, was a man in traditional samurai garb. Smiling benevolently as the lights were lowered to allow the sparse audience to see the stadium for what it was; a pair of opposed kitchens.
A announcer's voice cut in, a calm and resigned tone stating, "Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to Kitchen Stadium, where today, we will get to see a heated battle between the best cooks the world has to offer assembled. But before the show, brought to us by the proud Kuno Tatewaki…" The well-dressed man nodded knowingly, striking a noble pose for the camera, as it focused on him. "Let's meet the chefs!"
A pretty blonde woman rose up beneath a large Chinese flag. "Firstly, Rail Claymore is Iron Chef Chinese!" She waved prettily towards the camera, managing a short — but cute — bow before the camera moved on.
Beneath the large Italian flag, a man with brown hair managed a respectful nod and nervous smile, tugging worriedly at a pair of gloves. "Next, Tenkawa Akito is Iron Chef Italian!"
The camera moved on quickly to the next figure, beneath a Japanese flag. She waved a hand, dismissing some of the fog that had accompanied her ascent, revealing a very tall and pretty woman with long brown hair, neatly tied up. She smiled brightly and waved at the camera. "And Kino Makoto is Iron Chef Japanese."
The lights dimmed, and the chefs relaxed slightly, while the camera panned slowly over to the next pedestal, which… was empty. The announcer continued, not perturbed for the moment, "And today's challenger is, Kotobuki Shiiko!!"
The narration stopped suddenly, while the music ground to a halt, and the visible members of the cast stared around in confusion. After a moment, a young man in a chef's outfit was pushed onto the stage, looking panicked. He ran a hand through his hair nervously, explaining, "Um, Kotobuki-san wasn't able to make it, because of the acid rain… But I read a book on cooking last night, and I'm willing to give it a shot!"
Continuing unabated for a long minute, the silence dragged on, until another announcer hissed, "Good enough!"
The narration resumed hesitantly, "And… Today’s challenger, Oe Kintaro…"
The second voice joined the announcer's again, "Ahem. And now, while we prepare to take the new changes into account, why don't we take a moment to meet our cast? I am, as always, Justy Ueki Tylor, and this is my co-announcer, Gran Oldman. Gran, thoughts on the match?"
"Thank you. Well, Tylor, Oe's a complete unknown in this match, but he certainly looks willing to give it his all. In the meantime, before they announce today's ingredient, why don't we meet with today's judges?"
"Excellent idea, Oldman." The camera swung away from Kintaro, panning across the judges one-by-one. "Firstly, we have here a member of A.M.P." A reserved woman with medium length purple hair and a conservative black evening gown nodded graciously at the screen.
Oldman's voice interjected before Tylor could continue, "Ah, Katsumi Liqueur. Well, you can't begrudge our noble defenders for all that they've done to help us in the past — indeed, if anyone deserved to taste the outcome of an Iron Chef's battle, it would be them."
The camera continued, coming to a brief halt on a red-haired man with a cross-shaped scar covering one side of his face. "Well," commented Tylor, "Our next judge is something of a traditionalist at heart, dressed in clothing more appropriate for the Eighteen-hundreds than the year Twenty-twenty-two." The man raised an eyebrow at the camera, and Tylor hastily added, "Not that Himura-san doesn't manage to make the clothing look perfectly in style!" Kenshin smiled genially, and turned his attention back to the arena, while the camera moved on to the next judge.
A blond man in bluish-gray armor stared at the kitchen with eyes wide, and gnawed on his place settings absently. Oldman spoke hesitantly, "And this would appear to be… to be… Um… Security! Get Gabriev-san off the set, and find the real judge."
Kenshin eyed Gourry, as the blonde blinked, realizing that he had been caught. "Oops," he managed, drawing his sword and staring towards the kitchen longingly.
The Battousai drew his own sword, raising an eyebrow speculatively. "It would be a good idea for you to leave now, that it would," he commented sagely. The pair of combatants both had their swords knocked aside by bokken, as Tatewaki and a female kendoist stepped onto the platform. Kenshin quickly sheathed his blade, followed shortly by Gourry.
The new entrant frowned at Gourry, then made a shooing gesture with one hand, taking the seat he had recently vacated, and smiling warmly at Kenshin.
The redhead grinned, bowing for the woman. "A pleasure to meet you again, Suzuka-san."
Oldman belatedly found his voice, "And… Er… the third judge for the evening, Twilight Suzuka."
Tylor said nothing, apparently stunned, as the camera came to rest on the final judge, a little girl with aquamarine hair and a… fur hat? The 'hat' peered around and 'Miyah'ed softly, dispelling the illusion of it being an article of clothing. "Um…" managed Tylor. "And our final judge… Sasami…"
She giggled apologetically. "I had to visit my tree, and there aren't any here, so… Sorry I'm late!"
The camera rotated back to the stage, where Tatewaki had reclaimed his position behind the table of still-covered ingredients. A confused Oe Kintaro watched an angry Rail Claymore stomp off the stage, while Tatewaki apologetically explained, "She's a great chef, but she'll blow up the kitchen! Akito will be your challenger."
Oe dubiously shook hands with his competitor, and they took up their positions in their respective sections. Kuno coughed politely, gesturing towards the ingredient table.
Oldman stage-whispered, "This is it! The moment we've been waiting for."
Kuno intoned deeply, "Today's ingredient is," throwing aside the cloth and revealing stacks and stacks of green pastry-like squares sitting on the table, "Soylent Green!"
Characters, and respective shows/series:
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