Disclaimer: Dang it, I wish I owned "Yu-Gi-Oh!" but alas, I am not that fortunate.
Author's Note: I can't tell you all how exhausted I am. Been out of town for work for the past few days and only got back in last night. Seriously, so so tiredddddd. But in between work and sleep, I did manage to work on this chapter! Whole time I was working I'd listen to the Piano Guys which oddly enough gave me some good inspiration for this chapter. Anyway, let's get to it then!
Legit, only one, and it's in the title. It means "most, highest, maximum, uppermost, supreme - best, wonderful, finest". Basically, the best of the best.
"So now the world can never get me on my level,
I just got to get you out of the cage,
I'm a young lover's rage,
Gonna need a spark to ignite,
My songs know what you did in the dark."
- "My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark" by Fall Out Boy
Chapter Twenty-Five: 最高 (Saikou)
All in all, they had time for maybe one ride. Just one. But it was thrilling and perhaps all that she needed, as even though it wasn't a 'roller coaster', her skirt still threatened to come up on occasion. Her head was spinning as she found herself even more off balance than she had been after the motorcycle. Even still, she couldn't help but laugh.
"That was... oh, I'm glad I didn't eat before hand..." She said between laughs, holding her gut attempting to keep the butterflies from stirring up anymore than they already were.
"Haha, me too, if you had gotten anything on my suit, I'd be out of suits," Joey explained.
"Who said I'd have gotten anything on your suit?!" Kisara accused, still laughing, when lights started to flash around them, as though illuminating a pathway, "What if it got on my jacket?"
Indeed, the little white jacket over her shoulders would have certainly suffered more than his tan suit jacket. But the lights had distracted Joey from the events of the ride.
"Looks like it's time for the unveiling," Joey said, "We'd better get going."
"Oh, okay," She replied and they began to follow the stream of people towards what Joey guessed was likely the outdoor stadium.
As they walked, Kisara found that the butterflies from the ride somehow began to quell up in her again, as though squirming. She wasn't sure why she was nervous, but... she was.
"Joey?" She asked.
"Hm?" He said, looking over to her.
"Um... do you, I mean, do you think we'll see Yugi prior to the seating?"
Joey's neck tilted in thought, "Hm... I doubt it... He'll probably be glued to Pegasus' side anyway. That's just how it is with this kind of thing."
"Why?" Joey asked.
"Hm?" She said, looking back up at him, "Oh, I was just... I don't know. I'm somehow really nervous all of a sudden and uh, I was just, I don't know..."
Joey watched as Kisara pulled at one of the strands of her hair and pursed his lips in thought, "Well, I wouldn't be nervous. You've got me here. I'll fight for ya if need be."
Kisara smiled a bit, but her eyes didn't fully relight to their usual grandeur and Joey suddenly felt a little helpless.
"Don't worry about it, Princess. Everything will be fine," He said, the nickname catching her attention and she glanced up.
Joey immediately blushed, "Uh, well, you know... you're just... clearly the star of the evening and all..."
"Oh..." She trailed off, "Well, thank you."
"No problem," Joey said as the throngs of people suddenly got thicker.
Up ahead of them, people crowded down the red carpet that lined the way down towards seats with journalists and news reporters lining the rows. Coming to an odd halt, a thought entered Joey's mind. Kisara was... she couldn't really be in the center of attention... He glanced around as reporters in the distance started mentioning famous names of attendees who were now arriving.
"Hey, Kisara," He said, "Uh... see the area off to the right over there where other guests are going to their seats... you and I aren't sittin' together anyway and it's better if you lie low. Why don't you head in that way?"
Kisara stood on her tiptoes and having spotted the side entrance where another usher stood, began to reply, "Uh... but..."
"Don't worry, no one will bother you over there, promise," Joey said.
"But, why can't you-"
They both turned to be faced with a woman in a silken purple gown that had a slit up near her thigh and dropped down to her ankles. Her long, wavy blonde hair framed her face and only accentuated her curves which Kisara could honestly say she'd never seen fit so perfectly into an hourglass figure. Her make up was a tad gaudy as Tea would say, but in a word, she was drop dead gorgeous. And Joey suddenly seemed frozen in place.
"What are you doing here?" The woman, Mai, asked.
"It's Mai Valentine!"
"And Joey Wheeler!"
Suddenly it hit him, Kisara couldn't be here. He quickly turned to her and gave her a slight push, "Go!"
It wasn't a moment too soon as cameras suddenly started to go wild.
"How did you even get into this place?" She asked him under her breath as she gave a slight turn and little smile to the cameras.
"I uh, had a little help," He said quietly, giving cameras a brief wave.
"I see..." She said, her face completely neutral and Joey found himself increasingly twitching and shaking his fingers, "So... who was she?"
"She?" Joey asked, looking around, "Oh uh, just a friend. That's all."
Mai nodded in acknowledgement, "I see..."
Wishing the cameras would just drown out the awkward silence, Joey found his mind stricken with multitudes of other ways to get the silence to cease from his ears, "Well, uh, Mai, you look, uh, you look good..."
"Thanks," She said, again, not missing a beat, but with no real emotion in her voice, "I'll see you around then."
"Yeah, see ya..." He said.
With that, she parted and headed to the center entrance where the ushers stood. Cameras continued to click and, rather than wait around him, follow her, for which Joey was grateful for (for once). He let out a breath he didn't know he was holding as his stomach began to sink. So that's where they were now. Way down there...
Having found her seat, Kisara sat down close to the center of the stadium, but slightly off to the right. It would have been much easier to have gone through the center entrance, though she understood Joey's logic. This wasn't exactly her time, being recorded in it by unknown people wasn't ideal. Twisting her hands together, she found herself tapping her heal up and down.
She couldn't quite place why she was feeling so out of place. She'd seen Seto before and Mokuba and Yugi and everyone. And while she hadn't even seen Pegasus yet, she was pretty sure that his attendance to this wasn't what was filling her with anxiety. No, it was something else... but what...
She looked around to see a young man around Yugi's age walking towards her. She recognized him instantly, but tried not to seem too relieved to know him either, "Oh, Bakura, yes?"
"That's right," He said, giving her a slight bow, "Sorry for running out so quickly the other day. I was just really late."
"Oh no, it's fine, we were closed any-"
"Still that's no excuse," Ryu said with a smile, "I didn't realize you'd be here tonight. I'm a row back."
"Oh... Yes, I, Yugi got me a ticket," She said slowly, though she knew she was completely lying... She rather hated lying.
However, she was counting her lucky stars that with this seat she'd be able to not be next to him or even look at him really. She didn't know Bakura that well, but she did feel that she should trust Yugi in regards to avoiding him.
"Well, perhaps we can talk more after the show?" Bakura asked.
"Oh, uh, yes, perhaps," She said with a little nod and smile, but as he left and found his seat in the row behind her, she couldn't help but become aware that he was only two seats over from her.
She glanced back at him and he smiled at her, which she returned politely before turning back around, trying to focus again on her thoughts from before. Maybe it was Bakura? No, Bakura was indeed... unexpected but... she hadn't known he would be there... so why...
Again her thoughts were interrupted as the lights began to dim and a rock music began to pervade the area. She hadn't realized that most people had taken their seats as a voice echoed overhead. One that she recognized.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome!" A spotlight began to glow off stage, revealing Mokuba off to the left as he walked towards the center of the walkways, "Welcome to the unveiling of the KaibaCorp Duel Disk 3.0! I'd like to personally welcome two of our very special guests. First, the creator of Duel Monsters, Maximillion Pegasus!"
Two more spotlights shot on and whipped up to the top of the stadium seating where at the Center Entrance, a man with silver, shoulder-length hair appeared - a large smile on his face, waving to the crowd. As Kisara squinted over the crowd to get a better look, it occurred to her - did he only have one eye? She couldn't tell as his hair covered one side of his face, but… Regardless if that was the case or not though, he seemed extremely satisfied to be present and jovial in nature, walking down a few steps to shake hands with some of the more posh guests sitting on the edges. The crowd seemed to love him.
"And second, but certainly not least, in coordination with Industrial Illusions, the one and only King of Games himself, Yugiiiiiii Muto!"
The last set of spotlights came on to reveal Yugi now at the top of the stadium seating where Pegasus had been moments before. He smiled humbly and waved at the crowd. Less of the older crowd cheered, but Kisara could hear the children in the crowd gasping and screaming out with excitement. It was a side of Yugi she'd never seen before. He really was... famous. Like Pharaoh Atem had been, particularly in an environment like this one. He seemed a little awkward with it, unsure of how to properly satisfy the audience, but willing to go along with it. He attempted to hold himself upright and tall, as though he really was regal, even if Kisara felt, less than noticed, that he seemed unsure of how to properly do so.
He made his way down the steps graciously, stopping a few times to shake hands with a few of the kids around him or wave at them. Soon, they were at the bottom, shaking hands with Mokuba, who appeared stiff with Pegasus, formal perhaps, but completely at ease with Yugi.
Yugi turned for pictures with Mokuba glancing around, when he saw Joey off halfway up and no Kisara with him. He tilted his head ever so slightly once he caught Joey's eyes and even with a smile on managed to convey the question. "Where is she?" Joey pointed down to Kisara's seat. Casually turning to his left, that's when he saw her, clapping with the rest, and Bakura... a row back and two seats away from her. His stomach clenched, but he did his best not to let it show and returned to the rest of the crowd.
Finally, he took his seat in the stadium's front row in the left section facing the stage next to Pegasus. The crowd's ovation seemed to die down and all spotlights returned to Mokuba. Sweating heavily due to the heat of the lights, but running on adrenaline, Mokuba smiled wide for the crowd.
"Honored guests, KaibaCorp has been dedicated for the better part of the last decade to providing the world with the ultimate gaming experience, bringing Duel Monsters to life for your very own entertainment," He continued, "Duel Monsters isn't just a game to us. It's an experience. And from the beginning, we've intended to make our products give you the best, most immersive experience. We're here to push it beyond the limit, so our only question now is, what about you? Are you ready to push it to the limit with us?"
Laudings of praise echoed through the stadium, reverberating the whole complex. Kisara's eyes went wide as she watched.
"Alright, then, without further ado," Mokuba said, silencing the crowd, "It's time, as they say, to Duel!"
In an instant, the lights went off completely, throwing the whole open stadium and amusement park into total darkness. A hush fell over the crowd, when a clapping kind of sound not coming from the audience and a rumble of sorts gained in volume. A white smoke began to stream out from the sides of the stage. The echoes of people calling out along with music that rang of rock began to reverberate throughout the stadium as lights flashed, creating a strobe effect. They began to spin and rock sideways, all somewhat focused on the center of the stage.
Yugi heard the familiar sounds of monsters crying out, but as of this point none had yet to be seen. It didn't last though.
Heavy drums rocked the interior with in a flash, all the lights landed on the center of the stage only to blink into nothingness. It lasted a milla-second. A foreign language sounded and Yugi recognized it as the American rock band Fall Out Boy, accompanied by smaller holographic monsters zipping in and out of the smoke, dragging it with them.
"Be careful making wishes in the dark... "
Wait. Dragging… That was... interesting. And well played, Yugi mused, now more intrigued. The vocals dropped in tone slightly as a new, but familiar voice entered the arena.
"Enter a new age of dueling. The finest age..."
Kisara knew that voice. The monsters flew through the aisles, passing and surprising those in attendance. She found her shoulders scrunching together, intimidated by the presence of so many creatures... no, holograms. They were holograms, but they were... so real.
"...dreaming of tearing you apart…"
"This time, if you can dream it, it can be created from your mind's very eye..."
Pegasus smirked in his seat.
"With the crispness of reality itself..."
An onslaught of monsters began materializing, flying through smoke again as they did so.
The vocals resonated and a blanket of blackness enveloped them.
"...know what you did in the dark..."
In an instant, every spotlight shot on at center stage where the President of KaibaCorp himself began to stride forward as monsters escaped from around him and flew up into the area. Kisara found her eyes widen. She'd never seen Seto... like that before and to be fair, neither had Yugi. He wore his signature dueling entire, something, to be fair, Kisara had never seen, but in addition, he wore armor looking guards over his knees and his shoes seemed to have slightly sharpened points that dug into the ground. Linked over his ear and around the left side of his head was a small electronic device and where there should have been a duel disk, there... was none?
Then he saw it, a thin apparatus on Kaiba's arm over one of his gauntlets. It was just big enough to store what looked like maybe one piles of cards. It began to glow along with the device on Kaiba's head and seemingly out of nowhere, the play board appeared and Seto set down a card.
"Duel Disk 3.0 - Saikou!"
The screech familiar to all those who had dueled Kaiba before sounded and suddenly from behind him and out of the smoke, a Blue Eyes White Dragon manifested itself, rising into the air, a spectacle that made the whole crowd gasp... save for one. Who froze.
Kisara wasn't sure what it was, she'd seen the Blue Eyes before, but now... as it flew over the skies and came to hover over Seto, it made eye contact with her... she was sure it was her and just her. She wasn't... it wasn't scary, but... she felt instantly connected to it, somehow. How… She glanced down at Seto, who stood, a fire seeming to be burning within him and she had an urge, a prayer almost, that nothing bad would happen to him, that nothing would hurt him, even as her heart beat rapidly within her chest. She made eye contact with the Blue Eyes again, whose eyes, it had the same color as her's, had not left her. It nodded, seemingly to her and only her, then flew around Seto up into the air, from which it shot out a blast of White Lightning and roared something like fury.
Electric sparks rained down over the crowd who cried in delight as the music overhead sounded louder. Seto smirked. Perfect. It had all been perfect. As the crowd practically leapt from their seats in appraisal, he caught sight of a few attendees in particular. Mokuba first, who he gave a brief nod to, then Pegasus, who looked amused, and Yugi's eyes were wide with disbelief. He knew that Yugi had figured it out. These holograms could be touched and touch other things. It was a complete first in the history of holographic technology.
Finally though, the last person he saw was her, off to his left. She watched him from the front row, seemingly relieved as she clapped with the rest of the crowd, a small, sweet kind of smile on her face, even as the Blue Eyes above him disintegrated over him, showering the stage with its shattered remnants. Despite the glittering of holographic shards refracting light around him, something, he wasn't sure what, but something hit him deep in his chest. She was far more beautiful than any light show he could possibly produce. Real or hologram. She was stunning, spectacular... perfect...
It was then though, that it hit her hard, the realization of why she was so nervous, as he looked straight at her. Her clapping slowed and she sheepishly looked down at her shoes. Seto, even though they had been meeting for lunch, gone to Kyoto together, and practiced dueling a number of occasions - just the two of them... She had known that Seto was well off, that he owned and managed a company... But this... this was another level. Like the grandness of the pharaohs back in Kemet. Seto Kaiba was at the pinnacle of wealth and accolade in society. And she was... she was next to nothing in comparison.
She felt small, insignificant and worthless. After all, regardless of what happened to her, nothing would change. She wasn't like him. She wasn't even supposed to be in this world, this time - his time. She shouldn't even be here. If she were to just disappear… would he really even notice? Would he just move on? In all likelihood, he would. With everything happening around him, it was miraculous she had even been noticed to begin with.
Despite the realization, despite the pain that accompanied it though, what was worse was that deep inside of her, she felt a great anxiety for him - because even she could tell - if something bad happened now, it would be a humiliating blow for Seto. And all she could do was wish that he would be alright. And she did, so much so, with all that she could manage - that in spite of her status as a foreigner in this time - she wanted to will it so that nothing bad would ever happen to him, especially right now, no matter what he was to her… or what she was to him. Kisara glanced up at him earnestly. She just wanted him to be okay through all of this.
The sound of Mokuba's voice, not even his footsteps, brought Seto's gaze, back to the stage, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the first demonstration of Duel Disk 3.0 or as we prefer to call it, Saikou!"
The plaudits from the audience rose to an even greater degree and Seto redirected his gaze back into the crowd, once again focusing on the job in front of him. He rose a fist into the air, allowing for everyone to see the new disk on his arm. After another moment, he snapped with his raised hand. Isono, his primary go-to man at KaibaCorp, came out, carrying a duplicate of the device on a white cushion.
"It is my pleasure to present the Duel Disk 3.0 Saikou to none other than the creator of Duel Monsters," He said into the crowd, his voice seemingly raised through a microphone on his head piece.
Pegasus smiled and stood, spotlights landing on him as stairs rose from the ground to allow him to come directly onto the stage. Mokuba handed Pegasus the microphone and stepped back, being happy that his own instincts to back away from the man matched the choreography of the show anyway.
"Kaiba-b, Kaiba, you've outdone yourself yet again," Pegasus remarked, picking up the head piece and looking it over, "Truly spectacular."
Seto nodded, but inside felt an urge to gloat overcome his system and he gladly did so - after all, why shouldn't he? "Thank you, but that was nothing in comparison to what it can do in an actual duel. It is after all, capable of creating holograms..."
He summoned the play board on his forearm again and summoned a monster, which flew over to Pegasus, "... that are indeed not simply light shows, but physical objects."
The crowd gasped and some cheered - now those who had not picked up on it before suddenly even more bewildered, but also excited and amazed.
Pegasus looked bemused, petting the monster, who seemed to smile, before again shattering softly from sight, "Well then, how about we give everyone here a real show?"
"A real show?" Seto countered, practically insulted.
"Yes, how about a duel?" Pegasus asked.
The crowd seemed ecstatic, the acclamations now becoming louder and louder at the statement. Seto's eyes narrowed.
"A duel, with you?" Seto asked, raising a brow. This wasn't really what he had expect-
"No," Pegasus said, "How about a duel with you, Kaiba, and... the King of Games himself?"
Instantly, two of the spotlights swung over to Yugi, much to the shock of Kisara, Joey, Mokuba, and Yugi himself.
"How about you duel Yugi Muto?"
Yugi's eyes raised in surprise making contact with Pegasus' one, which was narrowed with a simple order that Yugi knew only he could understand.
"You will duel, Yugi-boy."
His eyes shot to Kaiba, who seemed stuck, unable to comprehend the words.
A wild kind of grin overcame Seto's face.
"I accept the challenge," Seto announced loudly, "Do you, Muto? Or perhaps... are you afraid?"
Yugi glanced around, back at the large number in attendance behind him. Children cheered his name. Patrons watched him with scrutiny, many having never seen him duel before. Other duelists looked shocked, knowing that this, this challenge, it was never issued anymore, particularly by of all people Pegasus. He caught sight of Joey who also looked on edge. Yugi's eyes fluttered over to Kisara, who looked just as surprised as the rest of them, her eyes darting back and forth between him and Seto... and behind her, Bakura sat clearly amused.
His eyes shot back to Joey, who, having noticed the direction of his gaze, gave him a nod of reassurement that he had everything under control. If something went wrong, it would be fine. He'd take care of it - and Kisara. But... he didn't want to duel. Not here anyway. This was not ideal, what with what was at stake tonight. What if something... At the exit above, he noticed someone. The same someone he had seen at the train station. Shadi. Atem's voice filled his head.
He shut his eyes, the word echoing in his ears - none of the other sounds in the whole arena making it back to him. He felt salt water entering from the corners of his eyes. Right when he had made the commitment to move on and not let it get to him... It was cruel. For now of all times. No, he wasn't going to let his grief overwhelm him again. He glared up to where he had seen Shadi, but again he was gone. That was it... he whipped around back to Seto, his eyes now alive with a kind of fury and determination.
Stepping forward, he began to climb the steps of the stage. Joey's eyes narrowed. It was like watching Atem all over again - he appeared much more different than he had moments ago walking down to his seat. Shoulders back, a regal element to his stance present so real it was almost tangible, Yugi took the head piece offered to him by Pegasus, which immediately lit up a bright red over his ear and his declaration echoed throughout the stadium.
"I accept the challenge, Pegasus," He said, his voice low with a fierceness much unlike him, "Kaiba, it's time to duel!"
A/N: You know, it's really hard to make that last line sound intimidating in writing - like it works when you hear it, but it's harder to make it work here. For those wondering - the "Saikou" Duel Disk is based on the design used in DSOD - which for the purposes of this story, didn't happen. (Figured why be original when you can cheat a bit, lol). I don't believe that Duel Disk has an actual name or model number - but I called it 3.0 because I counted the two used by Kaiba in the anime and skipped the ones from Season 4 (figured those would be considered knock-offs). I picked "Saikou" as a name because personally, it's my favorite Duel Disk design they've ever done, so… why wouldn't we call it the best? Next up is the duel! Can't wait to see you next time and please review to tell me what you thought!