Author: Starfire Eld PM
A freak accident caused Kanika to gain memories of her past life. Rima just met a strange boy named Namu, who just might become her first friend in years. But the key to the future lies in the past, and if Kanika can't remember the pieces she's lost, it might just mean the end of the world as we know it.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Fantasy - Chapters: 36 - Words: 61,025 - Reviews: 19 - Favs: 6 - Follows: 6 - Updated: 12-31-12 - Published: 01-23-12 - id: 7769425
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"Takahashi-san! You're bleeding!" Anzu said.
The woods were slowly fading into grays and blacks. It was difficult for Kanika to see herself, much less tell that she was bleeding.
Anzu grabbed Kanika's arm, turning it so that Kanika could see the long, thin gash down her forearm.
"When did that happen?" Kanika said, confused.
"You tell me," Anzu said. "It's not deep – you should be okay."
"Where's Mokuba?" Honda asked.
Kanika's eyes prickled with tears.
"Oh, Honda-san, Mazaki-san – they just came out of nowhere – I couldn't do anything, and they – and they –"
She knew she was completely blubbering now, but she couldn't help it. All she could see was that giant shape of a man looming up in front of her, grabbing Mokuba mid-sentence – rough hands nearly breaking all the bones in her wrist with their grip – watching helplessly as the man dragged the struggling Mokuba away to who knows where –
Anzu pulled Kanika in a hug – the motion startled Kanika.
"Sh," Anzu said. "Sh. Calm down. You're going to be okay."
Rima snorted, almost derisively, and Anzu shot her a glare.
"What are you even doing here anyway?" Anzu asked the green haired girl. "I thought you'd have better places to be."
"So did I," Rima said, bending to retrieve her hand gun.
Kanika felt Anzu's arms stiffen as Rima stowed the gun back under her jacket.
"It's okay," Kanika said. "She tried to help us."
"Why does she have a gun in the first place?" Anzu said. "Isn't that illegal?"
"I can hear you, you know," Rima said. "And sure, it's illegal in Japan. But we're in American territory now, aren't we?"
Kanika slowly pulled out of Anzu's hug.
"Thank you," she whispered hoarsely.
Anzu squeezed her hand, but said nothing. Despite Anzu's reassurances, Kanika still felt that she had failed. She hadn't been able to protect Mokuba for more than a few hours. And she had almost got kidnapped herself –
She squeezed her eyes shut, willing the nightmare images to go away. Her stomach growled loudly, causing everyone to jump. A furious blush crossed her face.
"I'm sorry," she whispered.
"Don't apologize; we're all hungry," Honda said, as his stomach growled even louder than hers.
He checked his watch.
"Anzu, we've got to hurry if we're going to meet up with the others at the right time," he said.
"Come on, Kanika-san," she said. "Everyone's waiting for us."
"Oh, is that all right? For me to call you Kanika, I mean."
Even in her distress, Kanika couldn't help but smile.
"Good. You can just call me Anzu."
She put a reassuring hand on Kanika's shoulder and they started to walked back through the trees. When Rima started to follow, Anzu half glared at her, but she looked too tired for it to really have an effect.
"Are you following us?" she said.
"Matter of fact, I am," Rima said, unperturbed. "I've already witnessed one kidnapping, one potential rape, and I had a gun pressed to my head. I think safety in numbers is the name of the game tonight."
Anzu pressed her lips together, but it seemed that even she saw this logic. But, she didn't admit it, and without another word, kept walking. She didn't comment again as Rima melded into the center of the group.
Rima couldn't believe how dark and quiet it had become, and so quickly too.
"Anzu-chan! Honda-kun!" Yugi said, running over to them. "Takahashi-san! We were getting worried!"
"It's okay," Anzu said. "We just got a little lost on the way back."
"Are you okay?" Jonouchi asked Kanika. "Where's Mokuba?"
"I'm mostly okay," Kanika said. "Mokuba..."
She sounded on the verge of tears again. Geez, this girl never stopped crying, did she?
"It looks like they caught him again anyway," Honda said.
"Oh no!" Yugi said.
Yugi seemed different again. Rima couldn't quite pinpoint how she figured this, but his voice almost seemed a little different. Less sharp. He seemed almost a little smaller too, like he took up less space than before. So what was up with him?
"Did you have any trouble while we were gone?" Anzu asked.
"No," the white haired kid said. Rima couldn't remember his name. "After the Ventriloquist, nobody came after Yugi again. Jonouchi got to duel Ryuzaki, though."
"Ryuzaki? Dinosaur Ryuzaki?" Rima said.
It appeared to be the first time that Yugi, Jonouchi and the white haired kid were noticing her.
"Dude," Honda said, elbowing Jonouchi. "So, how badly did you lose?"
"Some friend you are!" Jonouchi retorted. "I beat him, thank you very much. Got a cool card out of it too. Look!"
He pulled a card from his deck and turned it to face everyone. Rima sucked in a breath. She knew that card – that was the ultra rare Red Eyes Black Dragon. That was in the top twenty list of high priority cards according to the Ghoul network. Where had Ryuzaki gotten a card like that in the first place?
Rima groaned mentally. If Jonouchi had such a rare card, and Marik found out, it would only be a matter of time before he ordered her to go after it. Geez. Maybe she'd just challenge Jonouchi for it now, so she wouldn't have to deal with it later.
She opened her mouth, but whatever she had planned on saying was drowned out in the rumble of her stomach, which was then echoed by three or four other growls.
"Oh," Kanika said, blushing. "Sorry."
Honda rubbed the back of his head, embarrassed.
"Don't suppose you guys have found anything to eat, have you?" he said.
"Don't I wish," Jonouchi said.
Well, forget it. She didn't really want to duel anyone this late anyways. Geez, why hadn't she thought to pack some snacks with her? She should've known Pegasus would have been stingy. She was craving a cigarette too. She really should've bought another pack before leaving.
"Augh! I'm so hungry!" Jonouchi said, much too loudly.
"So's everyone else," Rima said. "No reason to be so obnoxious about it."
Jonouchi ignored her – must have been one feat of will for an idiot like him.
"Hey, a mushroom! We can eat these right?" he said.
"Jonouchi!" Honda said. "Hey wait – that's a Deadly Nightshade!"
Rima rolled her eyes – what a bunch of noobs. She was about to comment as much when a soft laugh came from the shadows. Every sense, every nerve jumped into motion. She whipped around, her hand moving under her jacket for her gun – and a tall, blond haired woman stepped into view, crunching on a granola bar.
It was the Barbie from before, who had challenged Jonouchi. Had Rima ever gotten her name? Right, it was Kujaku, Kujaku Mai.
"Geez, what a crowd," she said, half smiling. "You all seem so hungry!"
Despite herself, Rima stared at Mai's granola bar. That looked really good right now. She wasn't the only one: Jonouchi, Honda, Yugi, and Bakura were also entranced by the sight of food. Jonouchi was the first to snap out of it.
"Kujaku Mai! What the hell are you doing here?"
Mai grinned smugly.
"This granola bar's really good," she said. "How about it, Jonouchi-kun? I'll trade my granola bar for your star chips."
"Like hell!" Jonouchi said, though he looked as though he had been considering accepting.
"Just joking," she said. "I'd be a pretty low-life duelist if I actually went through with that."
Jonouchi glowered at her. Mai glanced around at each person, looking thoughtful.
"Hey, how about this," Mai said. "Let's call a truce for the night. I have more than enough food to share."
"Eh? Really?" Yugi said.
"Sure. If we get a fire going, we can even get something cooked."
Rima's mouth started to water just thinking about it. Mai unzipped her bag and started pulling out various dried foods and cans.
"Whoa! You have everything," Yugi said, his eyes wide.
"You can't really trust anyone around places like this," Mai said. "You've got to be ready to fend for yourself, right?"
Despite her first impressions of Kujaku Mai, Rima found herself starting to like the blond girl.
"I'm pretty good at cooking, so leave that to me," Ryou said.
"Cool! It'll be just like camping!" Yugi said, once again seeming so much different from the Yugi from before.
Mai pushed Jonouchi on the shoulder.
"Okay, you and your friend can go get some water, then," she said.
"Why do I have to take orders from you?" Jonouchi said.
Honda grabbed his arm and dragged him away.
"Idiot! We're getting food out of it!" he said.
Rima snorted. Boys. Mai glanced over at her.
"Hm, I think I saw you before," she said. "Back when I dueled Jonouchi. What's your name?"
"Rima," Rima said, not volunteering her last name. "Kujaku Mai, right?"
"That's me," Mai said, shaking Rima's hand. Her grip was firm: Rima couldn't help but like Mai just a little bit more. "When did you join up with this strange bunch?"
"Fifteen minutes ago," Rima said. "Had a rough evening and decided it was safer in numbers."
"I'll have to admit, that was part of my plan as well," she said. "And what's your name, hun?"
This next question was aimed at Kanika. Kanika blushed a little, as though she hadn't expected to be noticed.
"Oh, I'm Takahashi Kanika," she said, bowing. "Nice to meet you."
Anzu gave Mai a sidelong glare.
"So what's up with this, Kujaku-san?" she said. "Why are you being so nice all of a sudden?"
Mai met her eyes, then smiled a little.
"Hm, well I'm a girl too," she said. "Your name was Anzu right?"
Anzu blinked, looking surprised, but she nodded.
"There's a private tent and a shower head here," Mai said. "When the boys bring the water back, you girls can take turns with the shower."
Kanika and Anzu both brightened instantly. Rima couldn't help but smile a little herself – she felt like crud.
"Really?" said Anzu. "Thank you!"
"Some things only women understand," Mai said.
Crickets chirped softly. Kanika seemed to remember reading that you could tell the temperature by counting the number of chirps during a certain span of time, but she couldn't remember the formula. It was a little chilly out, and her eyelids drooped heavily. She stepped nimbly through the grass back towards the tent she was sharing with Mai and Anzu. Rima had opted to sleep outside – Kanika couldn't imagine why. It was bad enough coming out into the dark long enough to go to the bathroom in the bushes.
The grass crunched a little too loudly under her foot, and she squeaked. Once she realized where the sound had come from, she took a deep breath to calm herself. She was way too jumpy. It probably had to do with all the secrets she was hiding from everyone. She had planned to tell them everything tonight, but...well, Rima joining up with them and Mai's arrival had been convenient excuses not to say anything.
She continued on, lost in her thoughts. What would they say – what would they think if she told them the truth? Would they hate her? She wasn't sure if she could handle that. Why hadn't she just been honest from the beginning? Even though she had given the stolen star chip away, it still felt like it was eating away at her insides.
Huh? Why was the tent so dark? Hadn't Mai said she would leave the lantern on until Kanika got back?
"You'll get lost otherwise," Mai had said. "Don't deny it. I can tell when someone's directionally challenged."
Kanika peeked inside the tent. No one was there.
"Kujaku-san?" she whispered. "Mazaki – Anzu-san?"
Her heartbeat fluttered nervously. She crawled into the tent and grabbed her bum bag, rummaging around until her fingers closed around the knife.
She drew it out, feeling a little safer with it's familiar lightness in her palm. She had pulled the whistle out by accident as well, and even though she had no idea what to do with it, it also made her feel safe.
With both treasures clutched in her hands, she crawled back out of the tent. She was probably overreacting. Maybe they both just went to the bathroom, like she had. But...she'd go see Yugi and the others, just in case.
No sooner had she stood up than a soft, thin voice caught her attention.
"Evening, dearest. What are you doing up so late?"
Kanika squeaked, but she clapped a hand over her mouth to still the noise. A snort followed.
"Looks like you scared her, Esmira," a man voice said.
"Course I did, Johann. That's the point."
Kanika whirled, and found two silhouettes standing in the trees.
"W-who are you?"
"Duelists, dearest," the female voice said. "Ready to play?"
Kanika's eyes managed to adjust to the low lighting, and she could now see it was a male and female pair: a red headed adult woman with very cat like green eyes, and a tall, dark haired man with cold, narrow eyes.
"I – I don't –"
"I don't think she wants to play," Johann said.
Kanika's mind raced. Her deck was in the tent, but even if they believed her and let her get it, she would be defeated instantly! And what if they dueled as a team against her, two against one? She didn't even have any star chips, and she'd be thrown off the island when they found out!
There was only one hope left – Yugi and Jonouchi were official duelists, and they should be sleeping somewhere nearby. If she could just get to them in time –
"What's wrong, dearest? Too scared?" Esmira said. "Too bad. You can't deny a challenge in Duelist Kingdom. You'll be disqualified."
No more time to think – Kanika made a break for it. She heard something click, and in an instant, a tightness hooked her around the neck. She choked – her legs went out from underneath her and she smashed against the ground.
"Uh-uh, dearest," Esmira said. "Can't do that."
Kanika gasped, trying to force air into her lungs.
"Esmira. You're choking her," Johann said, not sounding too perturbed.
"Ah, that would be bad, wouldn't it?"
The tightness around Kanika's neck loosened, and the air rushed greedily into her lungs.
"Okay, get up, now," Esmira said.
There was a tug at her neck, like a leash, and slowly, Kanika pushed herself upwards. Both duelists wore a pair of strange Duelist's gloves, with double the number of star slots. The woman's glove was pointed forward, and a long wire leash sprouted from the bracelet. Kanika touched her neck gingerly and found she actually was wearing a collar.
"Caught you," Esmira said. "Ready to duel, now?"
Kanika couldn't speak for a moment, and when she managed a few words, her voice was hoarse through her bruised windpipe.
"My cards," she said. "In the tent."
"I'm sure they are," Esmira said, tugging on the leash. "Let's get to the Battle Box, dearest."
Kanika had no choice but to stumble a couple feet forward.
"Esmira. She's not wearing a Duelist Glove," Johann said.
"What?" Esmira said, looking shocked and annoyed. "Where are your star chips, little girl?"
"Tent," Kanika lied.
There were zippers on both sides of the tent, so if she could just get in, she could sneak out the back...
"Hm," Esmira said. "Johann."
Kanika's heart sank as the tall man bent over and poked his head into the tent.
He came back out with Kanika's bum bag.
"No star chips, or glove," he said. "But she has cards."
"No point if she doesn't have anything to bet," the woman sighed. "Another lingerer, then. Second one tonight. Johann, I'm not sure if I feel up to walking another mentally retarded teenager to the boats tonight."
"Then just strangle her," Johann said, dumping the bum bag on the ground. "No one will come looking for a body."
Kanika tried to scream – anything that would make the others find her! But her windpipe would only let air in and out, restricting all sound.
"I suppose that'll be almost as fun as dueling," Esmira said.
Wait – she could breathe right now. The whistle!
The leash started to tighten around her neck. She whipped the whistle to her lips and blew.
No sound. Nothing. Barely even the sound of wind through the metal.
Kanika's heart dropped into her stomach, and the collar dug into her throat.
Rima woke up with a start. What was that sound? A bird? No, more like a whistle.
Her head throbbed suddenly – not so much a headache as a strange pulse. Somebody was in trouble – how she knew that, she had no idea. Where did that sound come from?
Rima sat up, reaching for her deck and gun.
She peered through the trees towards where she knew the tent with the other three girls was situated. She could only barely make out three silhouettes – that one was way too tall to be anyone she knew.
Great. Kanika was in trouble again. Rima sighed, and gathered her gun and cards. She wasn't actually going to sleep, was she?
Author's notes: And Kanika gets herself into trouble once again! She just seems to attract it, doesn't she? And the whistle doesn't work...but Rima can hear it? Oh, mysterious. :) Okay, I'll have the next chapter up soon! Reviews, questions, comments, or whatever are always welcomed and appreciated!