Hello everyone and welcome back to our long-anticipated continuation of the storyline! In case your new to this thing, let me explain that the story begins with New Decisions, continues through Harping on History and comes straight to this new installment. For those of you who are a little confused about what's going on and the placement in Harping on History, let me explain that I was unfamiliar with the Battle City arc when I wrote it and had no idea how their arrangements wee made. I'll make it a bit more canon here setting-wise. Also, in case you didn't already know, I'm working on a joint story with Lena called Weekend Detention that does tend to take up a great deal of my writing time. I'll try not to neglect this tale, but reviews do keep me reminded and motivated! Now for responses to the final Chapter of Harping on History. What, did you think I'd leave them hanging?

Yggdrasil's 3rd Root – Yeah I know the other one is taking up a lot of time, and I'm sure you're really impatient and mad about me taking so long with this one *gulp!* but really it had to take some time to come to me. I hope you appreciate the way it plays out now that I've let the idea simmer in the back of my mind for so long. It really does help. But speaking of slow to update, girl what about your story, hmm? The masses are chanting for that too, you know! *g*

Vyctori – I know I know, but still I had to end it somewhere. I don't really see it as an end, more like an intermission and the end of an act in a play. Gives me a chance to step back and rethink the scenery and characters then reestablish everything again but with knowledge of the past. I dunno, I've written really long stories in the past and I find that unless you're working with someone on it, the writer gets less and less motivated the longer the tale plays out. By breaking it down into bite-sized chunks, I can keep focused on individual goals in each story thereby moving toward the final goal easier. I don't mean to make you suffer or freak out, and I'm sorry for that effect, but it does make things easier on me and, well, I am the writer and I have to think of my own mental well-being. I'm all honored to have converted you to Mai/Pegasus-dom! *g* And single-handedly too? You mean Lost to Love had nothing to do with it? *wink* Sorry I made you wait so long, I hope this lives up to your expectations.

sakuuya – I know, it's just so much fun to make Seto the poor used guy in a story. I mean, with his attitude he'd kinda easy to manipulate. Kidnap Mokuba here, dangle power in front of his face there – the guy's just too easy. *g* How you haven't died of anticipation yet, cause now I'm started at it again!

SweetCandie – Thanks so much! It gets darker here, though there'll still be some funny parts. *g*

CKthePantomess – Oh, don't be gloomy! I'm the only one allowed to be gloomy around here! *s* Well, maybe not, but still don't be sad. See? I finally updated … I'm sure someone out there was taking bets on me never working on it again, huh? *g*

Schala85 – I hope you had fun on your trip! Yeah, it's a bit belated but what can I do? *g* Poor Pegasus is right, the Eye hasn't given up on him, though it may seem so. And it does have a plan, but you'll see about that soon enough …

Sphynx – Thank you! I have plans for it to go into all sorts of things, though we'll see what happens. I'm not tied to any single idea so far with this part and who knows what the future might hold. Of course, I don't see Pegasus as really being a bad guy at all, just really desperate and in love – people do strange things in the name of love.

Squidman – Wow, you left so many reviews, thank you! I love it when people go through so carefully with each chapter, so sweet! *smooch* I'm glad you like my take on the Eye, needing its owner as much as the other items need theirs. Just because it doesn't have a Pharaoh or Thief living in it doesn't mean it can't act in a needy sort of way. Hehe… funky porno music as they strip … yeah, you can tell it was written by a Pegasus lover, huh? Yeah, he did say that and she did hit him, but I don't think it was nearly as hard as a Kaiba right cross, you know? Ouch, poor bastard. And I'm sure his nose stopped bleeding, he's probably got good clotting abilities. *g* Aww, thanks so much! I think its much MUCH better than New Decisions too, and I'm glad you agree! Thanks dear!

lily22 – Yeah they have rooms in this one. I didn't know much about the way Battle City worked and so I had to improvise. I guess that makes his even more AU than I thought, but who cares, right? Ryou didn't feel the calling because his Tomb Robber is used to mastering the Items when he steals them and he can hold it at bay, and anyway the Eye was weak when Pegsy lost it so it could have taken a while to regain its power. Hehehe … sorry to leave you hanging there but I promise it was for a good reason. Thanks so much for the thoughtful commentary!

slypher – Well it had to end, but as you can see there is indeed more. *g* As for whether or not the Eye has a spirit à la Yugi's Puzzle or the Ring, well that remains to be seen. I'm glad you like what I've done with it though. Thanks for the kind commets!

Well that does it, everyone! Lots and lots of surprise at the sudden ending, but I said there'd be more and I didn't lie. *g* So sit back and relax as we move toward the end of Battle City.

Hope you enjoy!

--Kabuki

DICLAIMER and INFO -- Remember that this story is AU because I don't pretend to know everything about Battle City until I've seen the original non-dubbed and complete version of the arc. Also, no, I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh or any related characters. Sheesh, if I did, don't you think I'd be out of college by now?

******

Into a Dark Place

By Kabuki

September 2003

Part 1:

Though the Creator of Duel Monsters had been publicly humiliated and imprisoned, the Battle City Tournament was still going according to plan. Duelists continued to be driven by their animalistic impulses to measure up against stronger opponents while those few who held nationally or internationally recognized titles remained bound to defend themselves and their honor. The battles raged on throughout the city as the day melted into night, the fighting becoming fiercer as the sun began to set and those who had not yet obtained the necessary six locator cards were thrown into a frenzied panic. The citizens who did not duel, either by choice or ignorance, felt the first tendrils of panic emerge as the sight of ferocious youths became increasingly common. Shouts echoed through the city streets, the only sounds as vehicles had been outlawed for the day of the tournament, crying out strange names such as Jinzo and Sangan. To those unfamiliar with the laws of the duelists' game, the words were like the babble of some ancient tribesmen, and the easily frightened clung to their televisions and novels, eager for the tournament to end.

A great many duelists had been eliminated as night descended, but that did not stop them from hanging about, larking about the streets and flaunting their gleaming duel disks beneath the orange fluorescent city street lights. Younger players spoke in hushed whispers of the mysterious Pegasus J. Crawford and his infiltration of the tournament, for what purpose no one knew. Those few who had been privileged or lucky enough to see the Creator spoke of him as though his name might draw down the wrath of that other God of the Game, Seto Kaiba, who's reputation preceded him among those not attendant at his school. There was talk of disfigurement and a secret tryst, of fury and even a battle, and as the young imaginations of the eliminated duelists remade the story in increasingly wild fashions, the confrontation between Champion and Creator (for Kaiba was still considered the Champion of the game, no matter how well Yugi Moto had fared in his duel) began to take on mythological proportions.  Soon the tale itself had become so allegorical and far from fact that were any of the Duelist Kingdom finalists present at one of the said conversations they might have laughed outright.

Among these fledgling fighters a presence lurked, moving with calm deliberation through the throng despite his gaping injuries. His head hurt, and the throbbing in his arm was a sore reminder of how much he'd overestimated the recuperative powers of his shared body. He'd obtained a duel disk and the appropriate cards, but he was not at ease and he slouched toward the place indicated by the six locator cards he'd won. Around his neck hung a golden ring, adorned with multiple golden pointes which clinked in a preternatural tune as he limped toward his destination.

As a spirit he did not feel exhaustion, though the body of his human half did quite acutely. There was no time for rest, however. The mission was not yet complete and, though he was loathe to admit it, he was bound to Marik by a blood pact – there was no turning back on such a promise. He paused to rewrap the gauze around his arm more tightly, hoping to staunch the bleeding. The mortals of the hospital had bandaged his body well enough, but the wrappings kept coming loose and the blood had crusted over his forearm and one light blue pant leg. It was disgusting, and though the spirit really had no time for vain pretension, there was no denying that he should keep his façade going as long as possible in the presence of the Pharaoh. In the back of his mind little Ryou slept peacefully unaware of the presence which had taken up full-time residence in his body. Had he known the danger posed toward his friends, he might have been able to control the Evil Spirit of the Ring.

In another part of town, already at the stadium, Marik grinned his jackal smile. He too maintained a separate entity in his mind, but little Malik was too weak-willed to control the power he'd unintentionally unleashed. He was confused and terrified, and the lack of direction made his mind weak enough to subdue for the spirit of the Millennium Rod. All was going well, despite the fact that he'd been unable to obtain Yugi Moto's God Card through Joey Wheeler. There was still hope, after all, and Marik thrived on the fact that his enemies might make one tiny mistake which he could easily exploit. He awaited the arrival of his enemies with great pleasure, relishing in the thought that soon they would arrive as confused and disoriented as goats led to slaughter.

Far below the arcane bustle of the Battle City Tournament in the lower quadrant of Kaiba Corporation itself, a man sat hunched in a corner, his legs crossed in front of him, perching the young man dubiously upon his seat as he stared vacantly at his dismal surroundings. His right hand was chained to the uncomfortable metal chair upon which he sat, easily binding him to the small room and confinement – Seto Kaiba knew enough about the artisan to realize he'd rather not damage his favored hand in the process, for a painter unable to use the more dexterous extensions of his body was a poor fellow indeed. Pegasus sighed, absently combing his left hand through his hair and wondering how long Kaiba could amuse himself with the capture of his enemy. He leaned back, resting his head on the wood-paneling and gazed at the ceiling.

Pegasus didn't know what all the fuss was about. It wasn't like he'd caused the power outage that had virtually stripped Kaiba-boy's precious company of its most valuable commodity, namely its security. There was really no reason for the sourpuss to act so testy, especially since what Pegasus had come searching for hadn't even affected Kaiba in the least. There was no value in the Millennium Items for those who did not possess some inherent ability lined with them – that is unless Kaiba intended to gather the lot of seven, which Pegasus highly doubted. No, it was nothing more than childishness on the part of the CEO, locking his former associate (ok, and kidnapper, but only for a little while and no one was hurt) in a small room and handcuffing him of all things to a chair. It was obvious that he'd been locked in an old storage room, and the indignity of that was enough to make Pegasus angry and humiliated all over again. At least when he'd taken the Kaiba brothers prisoner he'd had the decency to provide them with a suitable dungeon.

He fiddled with the handcuffs, the chain rattling metallically against the chair leg. There was nothing he could really do. Pegasus knew nothing of picking locks. He'd considered lifting the chair off the ground and sliding the cuffs free, but the men who worked for Kaiba had fused the chair with the floor quite recently, so that the base of the legs were still warm to the touch. If only he were as flexible as one of his precious Toons, he might have just pulled his hand free without a hitch. No, the only option available to him was to wait and hope that Croquet would find him. Pegasus had laid out a very specific time table, and though he had no idea how much time had passed, surely Croquet had realized his master had been caught.

Footsteps outside the door drew his attention, however, and Pegasus composed himself quickly. He sat perfectly still, listening and wishing he could read the minds of those who moved about outside his makeshift cell. Something was happening, something important, and though Pegasus knew next to nothing about how Seto Kaiba had arranged his Battle City Tournament, it was obvious that the coup de grâce was about to unfold. The door was unlocked from the outside and opened to reveal two tall men in dark suits and sunglasses, dressed so much like his own men that for a moment Pegasus mistook their appearance for a rescue. However, there was no recognition on their faces as they unchained him and led him forcibly down the hallway, a gun pressed against his back the entire way. "What's this all about? Don't you know who I am? How dare you manhandle me!"

"Mister Kaiba would like a word with you, sir. You're wanted as a special guest at the Battle City Finals."

The men refused to say more, and as Pegasus was coerced into a helicopter and flown to toward the center of the city, he couldn't help but wonder what sort of game Kaiba was playing.

In his private limousine, Seto Kaiba made the last few arrangements via the communicator in his coat as his younger brother Mokuba sat uncomfortably by his side, sipping a bottle of cola idly and straining to find out what would happen once the duelists were gathered. It was unusual for him to see his brother quite so high-strung, and Mokuba found himself worrying almost constantly about the well-being of his elder brother. When Seto finally released the collar of his trench coat and fell silent, Mokuba thought it was as good a time as any to speak his mind. "Seto, are you okay?"

"I'm fine, Mokuba. Now that everything is going smoothly again, we can both relax."

The younger boy was still skeptical, and he watched as his brother slid one long-fingered hand into his trench coat's deepest pocket to finger some bauble. Mokuba swallowed the dry lump in his throat and forced himself to keep the conversation moving. "What are you gonna do with it?"

"Hmm?" Seto looked up, blue eyes darting suspiciously as his concealed hand curled into a prominent fist. "What do you mean?"

"Um, the Millennium —"

"It's not your concern." Mokuba gaped as his brother returned to his muffled conversation, his voice lowered even more to prevent his sibling from overhearing. Occasionally his eyes darted toward the boy, narrowed in a suspicious way that Mokuba had never seen directed toward himself. A hot wave passed over the boy, and Mokuba felt the pinpricks of tears threatening his eyes. He blinked them away and sat perfectly still – he always tried very hard not to cry, especially not in front of his brother with an important tournament under way. "We're here." When the car coasted to a stop Seto vacated his seat without another word, leaving the shorter boy to tag along uncomfortably, his shorter legs carrying him far slower as the pair moved into the stadium. As his older brother greeted the security guards tersely, Mokuba kept his eyes glued to the motions of Seto's left hand, rolling the item back and forth in his pocket.