Yugi watched the screen as Monster Rancher 200x started up. Bakura entered the room with various refreshments. When Yugi turned and lifted his eyebrow, “Well, didn’t you say Joey might come? Where did you get this game, Yugi?”
“Oh, I see.”
Yugi grinned. “He said maybe I should try something besides Duel Monsters.”
The Cabalos were gaining. Genki could hear their yammering over the noise of his rollerskates; once again he looked about wildly for a shrine. And this time there was one, just ahead. He looked to Holly, who jerked her head in a nod; she had seen it as well.
This knocked out a few in the front; more rushed to take their comrades’ place. If Genki had been a few years over eleven he might have cursed. As it was, he pressed on.
They clambered up the mercifully few steps, Tiger and Golem occasionally pausing to counterattack when the Cabalos were too close for comfort. Holly placed the disk in the appropriate spot.
Yugi took out the game CD, then put in a random one handed to him by Ryou. When the screen prompted him, he replaced the Monster Rancher 200x. ***
Holly cried, “Unlock!”
The screen turned white, then shot out dark tendrils. Yugi was flung violently across stone; someone landed on top of him. As Bakura apologized and Yugi pulled himself up, he heard several exclamations of surprise. Yugi looked around and promptly made one of his own.
There were two who looked somewhat normal- a girl around his own age, and a boy who was just about Mokuba Kaiba’s. The others didn’t look in the least normal- a pink something that resembled a penguin, a yellow thing with a single tremendous eyeball, a rock behemoth, a tall brown rabbit with a red bandanna, and a blue wolf with horns.
The boy was the first to step forward, grinning. “Hi, I’m Genki-”
The eyeball jumped in front of him. “In case you haven’t noticed, we’re in a situation here!” This statement was made even clearer by the vibrations of the door.
Yugi crawled over to where his deck had been thrown and shuffled through, finally pulling out the Dark Magician. He held out his hand, the card in his palm, not quite sure exactly what he intended to do.
The Puzzle glowed. The Dark Magician appeared, inciting more gasps. Shortly afterward, the door gave. A wave of more horned wolves- but these were purple- roared in, and he yelled, “Dark Magician! Attack!”
The Dark Magician held out a hand and attacked.
The world’s colors seemed to swap for a split second, and Tiger of the Wind reeled backward; the Cabalos screamed and… shattered? Tiger blinked; by the time he was done with the blink the Lost Disks had already formed.
And who had caused this? A human? Wearing purple armor and the most ridiculous hat he had ever seen?
Genki decided it was time to commence the introductions. He pointed to himself. “I’m Genki-” the direction of his arm and his pointing finger changed “-and this is Holly. And here’s Mocchi-” the penguin, “-and this is Suezo” the eyeball, “-and Golem, and Hare, and Tiger.” Tiger nodded in response. His eyes shot wide open and he took another look at the kid Genki was speaking to.
He looks like… like… I don’t know what… just what happened to his hair?
“I’m Yugi, and this is Bakura.”
“It’s nice to meet you.” Tiger blinked once again- he had never imagined that this “Bakura” might be a boy.
“So we’re looking for the Phoenix, so it can turn all the baddies into goodies. Even Mu,” Genki finished his tale and leaned back.
Yugi blinked. “Like a Monster Reborn?”
“A what?” Yugi produced it after some more shuffling, whereupon Genki, Holly, Mocchi, and Suezo ran up and began to “ooh” and “aah” over it. Hare and Golem would have done so as well, but there was only so much space around Yugi. “But still,” said Genki, “it only brings back one, right?”
“Maybe,” said Yugi, “but then, Dark Magician’s only supposed to attack one at a time.” He nodded toward the Dark Magician in question, who was staring off at a wall with an inscrutable expression.
“So. You want to join up with us?”
Mahaad had never been more confused in his life. At least back in Egypt he generally knew more or less what was taking place, even if it wasn’t the most pleasant of things. But now… he had absolutely no idea what was going on.
Yugi turned to him. “Dark Magician?”
“Yes?” Yugi blinked, confused, and then Mahaad realized he had been speaking in Egyptian. “I apologize. What do you wish of me?”
“You’re real?” A nod. “Well, do you think we should go with them?”
Mahaad couldn’t help but admire Yugi’s quick adjustment. “I will agree with whatever decision you make.”
Yugi turned back to Genki. “All right, if it’s to save the world, I will.”
“YEAH!” Genki leapt into the air. “Let’s go!”
“Er, Genki?” Everyone looked at Hare. “Wouldn’t it be more advisable to eat first?”
“Of course!” Bakura cried. “The potato chips!” He ran about the shrine, gathering up the bags. “Oh, and here’s a pack of soda, and candy bars- Yugi, I think there’s one over there…”
After a while everything Bakura had brought into the room was rounded up and taken outside for them to make camp. Yugi was grateful for Joey’s prodigious appetite, as it appeared there just might be enough chips for everyone.
It was right around then that the full insanity of what was taking place occurred to him. Here he was, sharing chips and soda with characters from the video game he had just been playing. It had to be a dream. Maybe Bakura had accidentally dropped the food tray on his head and he was currently delirious.
… did delirious people wonder if they were delirious? No matter. He might as well make the best of it.
Besides, maybe when he woke up he would wake up not only from the dream-sleep, but from the dream altogether.
*END CHAPTER ONE*
Genki yawned. “Huh? Whazzat, Holly?”
“The Magic Stone! It’s gone!”
That woke him up. “What do you mean, it’s gone?”
She held up the pieces of leather for evidence. “Someone just cut it right off.”
By then everyone else in the camp was awake, and had more or less processed what happened. Hare ran up. “Hate to tell you, but that’s not the only thing that’s gone. That Bakura fellow skipped out on us, and I’m willing to bet he took the stone.”
“You would know about that,” Tiger growled, “wouldn’t you, Hare?” He turned to Yugi. “Well, it seems your friend wasn’t as trustworthy as we thought.”
Yugi quailed under his relentless gaze. “Maybe he’s gone after the person who took the stone?”
“Then you’d think he would’ve told us, wouldn’t he?”
Mahaad stepped between them. “You will not accuse Master Yugi again.”
Genki flailed his arms. “Tiger, stop it! Does anyone remember what direction the stone pointed to yesterday?”
Holly indicated the direction. “North.”
“Well then, north it is! Let’s go!”
Yami Bakura consulted the green stone in his palm once more. The dark arrow still pointed directly ahead. He urged the Hyozanryu Ryou had intended to show Yugi onward; they were over forested mountains now, their presumable objective the even taller peaks in the distance.
Hyozanryu was beginning to tire now; Yami Bakura could sympathize. He wished he had stayed long enough to snag some breakfast; he’d been spooked by the near-awakening of the Pharaoh and the girl (What was her name? Molly? Dolly?) when he was relieving the latter of the stone, and as a consequence departed with nothing for himself, let alone for Hyozanryu. He began to guide the latter down to the forest-hopefully there would be at least a fruit tree down there. ***
Grey Wolf looked up to see what looked like… some sort of horned dragon? He blinked; it was still there, and coming closer.
Yami Bakura stared at the trees; he consoled himself with the thought that there might be at least berry bushes or something. Maybe he might even find one of those Mystery Disks… At the thought the stone began to glow bright red. He frowned at that, then smiled. It seemed he might have just found one.
Kohaku extricated the disk with some maneuvering of his claws. He turned a bit and stuffed it into the cloth tied about his neck; it was the same purple as his fur and barely noticeable, which was what he wanted.
Now, to find a shrine. Which is harder than it sounds.
He’d passed one a while back, and he’d have to backtrack to that one; Grey Wolf did not exactly encourage shrines. He supposed vengeance could wait just a little bit longer- it would be truly rotten if he lost and they found the disk… No, he couldn’t think that. He hadn’t come this far just to lose, to be reduced to the same level as Centaur…
Then he happened to look up. And up. And up.
The whatever-it-was (whatever it was) looked to be coming down, in the general area of Kohaku’s location. He quickly turned and began to run in the general direction of the shrine; after a minute he stopped. Through the trees he could see the thing; it had obviously followed him. And it was getting lower by the moment.
No visible Mu symbol, but that didn’t mean he was in the clear. Once or twice on his southward trek (this was before Kohaku had realized exactly what he wanted and how he had to get it) he’d been attacked by agitated people- there were quite a few Cabalos in Grey Wolf’s employ, after all. At least that fact had made his occasional deceptions all the more convincing. Or maybe the symbol was just affixed somewhere he couldn’t see.
Well, wasn’t this just lovely…
Yami Bakura nodded. “Good job.” Hyozanryu craned up her neck and made an expression he hoped was a smile. He climbed off and consulted the stone; it pointed forward, this time with a golden arrow. He followed its directions, Hyozanryu behind him. After a time the stone glowed bright red again- at the same instant, he bumped into something above knee level and looked down.
Yet another yellow-eyed purple wolf with horns looked up at him. “Oh,” he said. “You’re human. You’re not working for Mu, then? Who is that?” The last question clearly referred to Hyozanryu. “A flying Naga?”
"A flying what?”
“You don’t know what a Naga is?” The tone made it quite clear that he should know. “Who are you?”
“For lack of a better name, call me Bakura. And she’s Hyozanryu.”
"Actually, it’s Diamant,” a voice behind him corrected.
He continued. “Diamant, then. But who are you? Do you have one of those disks?”
“My name is Kohaku, and-” His eyes widened. “How did you know?”
“I have my ways.”
“Don’t tell me you’re part of that slime that helps Mu because you want to-”
“I have no intention of helping this ‘Mu,’ as I am human,” Yami Bakura snarled, “and he apparently doesn’t much care for humans. And I hope you are different from him in that respect.”
“Well then, what about that disk?”
Kohaku frowned. “You think I’m going to hand it over just because you don’t work for Mu?”
“No, I think you’re going to hand it over because until it’s unlocked, it’s dead weight. I doubt they would have much call for shrines around here.”
Kohaku’s frown grew. “If it’s dead weight, what do you want with it? And you know that’s the case… but you don’t know what a Naga is?”
“Yes, that’s right. I don’t. Would you explain after I get the monster out from that disk?”
“You are mad.” He said this quite calmly.
“Yes, I’ve heard that before. Will you at least give me an opportunity to prove myself?”
Moments later, Kohaku had yanked a cloth from around his neck and let the contents out. In addition to the disk, there was a smaller cloth wrapped up about something and, to Yami Bakura’s quickly concealed delight, food and a few gold coins. Kohaku gave him a warning look, and he took a step back. Obviously his impulse had been anticipated.
Kohaku nudged the disk forward. “There, and if you try anything funny…”
“I’ll fry you where you stand,” he didn’t continue. It was understood.
Yami Bakura picked it up and focused, fashioning a pick for the figurative lock. After a moment, he began to unravel the code, translating it into tangible form; he guessed the shrine did the same thing. Almost like the scanners that translated Duel Monsters cards into holograms in the arena. He’d gotten a good feel for the schematic of the shrine, and he used that information now.
*High-tech meets Shadow Magic… and loses. *
He dropped the disk, not wanting to end up trying to hold a Naga (whatever that was) in the palm of his hand, and unlocked the last pieces of the code.
Kohaku yelled, “Get down!” He stepped aside, watching twin bolts of lightning clash in the spot where his head had just been. He judged there was enough of it to have made Ryou’s hair stand on end, and that would have been the least of his problems.
Diamant promptly tossed off something big and glowing into the trees; a number of the aforementioned trees were reduced to black smoking things. Screams definitely reminiscent of the Dark Magician’s attack drifted from that direction.
“I’ll take care of them.”
Before Diamant could reply, Kohaku leapt past her and toward the screams, vanishing into the underbrush. Yami Bakura took the opportunity to look at what he had just unlocked.
“And it just had to,” he muttered, “be one I don’t know.”
Hikaru called a retreat; the other Cabalos (the survivors, anyway) were only too happy to do so. From a safer distance (specifically, up a tree), he looked on.
There was a white dragon (mostly white, anyway) with horns, a human (he guessed adolescent) wearing a gold pendant, and now, from seemingly thin air, there was a very young Pixie hybrid of some sort. He recognized the other half as Centaur after some thought. A Unico, he believed it was called. Approaching them… his eyes widened for a moment. A traitor? No, he didn’t recognize this one. Some might believe Cabalos all looked the same, but he could tell the difference.
“Good job, Diamant,” said the human. “Kohaku, please explain what a Naga is. Would it be this-” he pointed to the Unico “-by any chance?”
Hikaru was highly tempted to burst out laughing. What kind of a human had no idea what a Naga was? *A stupid human, that’s what*, was the automatic response. He could see several of the others trying to suppress their laughter as well. He began to shift his position, getting a clear shot at the human.
“No, not at all. That’s a… I KNOW YOU’RE THERE!”
He leapt out of the tree right before a Torpedo fried it, shooting off his own in midair. It collided with yet another, and now the human shouted “Diamant, show them how it’s done!”
The dragon obliged.
Hikaru never had a chance to dodge.
“It gets depressing,” groused Suezo, “having to go the same way all over again…”
“Suezo,” Tiger shouted, “it’s your own fault!”
Hare joined in. “I know your command of Teleport is shaky, but this is a new low! You took us BACKWARDS!” He indicated the familiar-looking ruins ahead as evidence.
Suezo whistled nervously. “Well, Yugi and his friend haven’t had a look at this before! Look on the bright side, they get to have a look at it now!”
Yugi shook his head. “I don’t want Holly’s stone to get even further away while we go sightseeing. We’d better hurry.”
“Um, maybe I could try it again?”
“And have you take us all the way back to the other continent?” Tiger snapped. “Fat chance.”
“I would like something,” said Yami Bakura, looking over the Lost Disks, “in return for our assistance.”
Kohaku glared. “I could’ve taken them.”
Lift eyebrow. “Right.”
“What he is trying to say,” Diamant put in, “is, could you give us something edible? Please?”
*END CHAPTER TWO*