Dawn of Fate
CHAPTER ONE – ANXIETIES
He was running… running… running… He did not know where he was running to, but if the pounding sound behind him was any indication, his destination involved getting away from that. He could feel his heart thudding in his chest, and could hear his breath coming out as it burned through his throat and lungs. Yet somehow he was not tired, physically anyway. Mentally he was drained, as if he had spent a whole day taking a Potions exam. He had not felt that way since…
The hauntingly familiar voice made him come to a skidding halt. He looked around in terror, fearing the owner of the voice would come out of the darkness any moment.
"Go away!" he shouted. "You're gone; you don't belong in the real world anymore!"
The creature laughed at him, a cold laugh that was not entirely sane. "Who says?"
He narrowed his eyes, trying to find the creature. "I say!" he shouted. "I sent you away to the Shadow Realm and fulfilled my duty to my pharaoh. I have nothing to do with you anymore!"
That voice laughed again, sending shivers down his spine. "Well, hikari-pretty, you're right about one thing. Oré-sama has nothing to do with you either…"
He frowned. "What's that supposed to mean?"
The laugh started out low this time, sounding almost human, before increasing in a pitch and volume that definitely was a show of insanity. Then, the laugh died away as quickly as it came, and the creature left him with words he knew he would never forget.
"When next we meet, we will not share the same face…"
Marik Ishitar awoke with a start, gasping in the warming air of the early morning Domino City hungrily. He looked about his room on the second floor, almost expecting that creature to come out and grab him any moment. Why he had dreamed about that thing was beyond him; he had not even given it much thought since he had started attending classes at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
He did not get much of a chance to dwell on it, as a light tapping sound brought his attention to the door.
"Otouto, are you awake yet?" came the soft voice of his older sister, Isis.
"Hai, onee-san," he answered. He swung his legs over the side of the bed as she opened the door, letting in his cat, Rishid, as she did so. Isis frowned when she saw his flushed face and damp clothing, and went over to sit next to him.
"Otouto, diajoubu desu ka?" she asked, brushing his unruly bangs out of his face. Rishid hopped onto the bed before curling up in Marik's lap. He stroked the cat's fur thoughtfully, not exactly sure how to answer her question.
"Onee-san… is it possible for my darkness to come back into this world?"
Isis blinked, caught off guard by the question. She recovered her composure quickly enough, however.
"I suppose if someone let it out of the Shadow Realm," she answered honestly. "I don't think anyone would be that stupid, however."
"But it is possible?" Marik stressed.
Isis frowned, concerned. "Marik, what brought this on?"
Marik kept his gaze to the ground as he recounted his dream to her, feeling that sense of dread well up inside of him as he did so. Once he finished, they were both silent for a long moment. Isis put a comforting hand on his shoulder, and he let out a shuddering breath.
"It's just, onee-san," he began. "When it said that last part, about not having the same face, I can't help but think of Aishisu's prophecy last year. 'The seven Chosen will stand before the Un-chosen'. Is that what that means? Will my darkness possess someone not chosen by the Millennium Items? What if it's one of my friends!"
Isis shushed him, wrapping him in a hug and rocking him back and forth, like she used to do when they were children.
"Otouto, the future is never certain," she said soothingly. "I of all people know this. Prophecies and sights into the future can be changed by the smallest, simplest act. Never forget that." She let go of him then and stood up. "Now, I do believe you have a tournament to attended, ne?"
Marik looked over to the clock. It was eight in the morning; he had two hours to get ready for the day, meet up with his friends in their usual spot, and then go to his starting place before the Fourth Annual Battle City Tournament began. He jumped off of his bed.
He had to hurry!
Ryou Bakura stood before the mirror in his bedroom, wishing away the image that looked back at him. In the mirror, he was hunched over slightly, buried under several wrappings of blankets. His nose was red and running, his skin was paler than normal, his eyes were bloodshot with large dark bags of sleeplessness hanging from them. His other self, standing transparent behind him slightly, summed up the image in the mirror the best way possible.
"You look like shit."
Bakura could only manage a groan as he shuffled around the tomb robber (never mind that he could have walked right through him) and collapsed onto his bed before falling into a coughing fit. He covered his head with the blankets he had draped over his back, before issuing a loud honking sound as he blew his nose. Yami Bakura just shook his head sadly, pulling out his desk chair and sitting on it backwards.
"Geeze, Ryou, you would be the only one to get the flu in the middle of the summer," he stated.
"You say dat like you'b never been sick before," Bakura replied nasally, his voice muffled by the blankets.
"I haven't," the tomb robber replied, sounding more than a little grateful.
"Usou…!" he moaned in reply.
"I'm not lying," Yami Bakura responded. "You didn't normally get this sick in Khemet. And if you did, you didn't live to tell about it."
Bakura grumbled something under his breath, before saying, "Well find den!"
It took Yami Bakura a moment to realize what happened next. One minute, he was sitting in the chair, minding his own business. The next minute, he was buried under a pile of blankets. He only realized what happened when he let out a mighty sneeze.
Bakura had forced them to switch places!
"Hey! Ryou! Don' you dare!" he exclaimed aloud, tossing off the covers to see that his hikari was not sitting where he had been only a few moments ago.
Don't worry, Bakura-kun, his cheery voice came from behind his Soul Room. You'll be fine. Make sure you get to the finals this year, ne?
With that, there was a click, like the mental locking of a door, and his hikari fell silent. Yami Bakura growled under his breath, his stuffed nose making it come out as a sort of half whine, wishing he had something he could break. True, he was not as sick as Bakura had been – their body always did seem to perform better whenever he was in control – but that was not the point.
The point was that he had always been urging his lighter half to develop more of a backbone. Though he was a very supportive and loyal person, courage to stand up to people was one of his low points. He was a pushover, and sometimes the tomb robber was embarrassed by it. He had always thought his hikari would never take his advice because he was such a softy; he had never counted on his own advice being used against him!
Yami Bakura crawled off the bed, swaying a little bit from the lightheadedness that the flu brought. Grumbling, he looked about the room, wondering where the heck Bakura had left that damned Duel Disk III last.
Yugi Mutou yawned tiredly, letting his friend from England, Draco Malfoy, drag him through the streets of Domino City, to the spot they always gathered at just before the Battle City Tournament started. The teenaged duelist, referred to by many other duelists as Yugioh, was by no means a morning person. True, he always managed to get himself moving during school, but that was school, this was summer. It was not fair that the tournament had to start before lunch.
Draco looked over his shoulder at him as he dragged the older boy along, a smirk on his face.
"C'mon, Yugi-kun," he said, his Japanese still a little shaky, "you've gotta wake up already. The first person you duel against is going to win because you're too tired to hold up your cards."
Yugi rubbed a hand over his eyes, biting back a yawn as he did so. "I need coffee…" he murmured.
Draco just frowned. "Well, if you hadn't woken up so late, you'd have gotten a chance to get some."
Yugi just groaned, looking around for a vending machine that had some kind of caffeine drink in it. He was just about to make a brake for one when Draco's speed suddenly increased, almost making him loose his footing.
"Oy! Seto-kun! Jonouchi-kun!"
Seto Kaiba and Katsuya Jonouchi were already standing at their favorite meeting place next to the Domino Square fountain. The two of them turned at Draco's shout and waved, glad to see that they made it.
Jonouchi was in his usual casual t-shirt and jeans, though he was carrying a satchel over his shoulder that obviously had his work uniform, in the event he got called into his job at one of the many garages in town. Seto had left behind in his limo – which was parked a small distance away – what had become known as his "Battle City Trench", the long white with odd pink lining trench coat that he always wore during the Battle City Tournaments. He was apparently going for inconspicuous, and he was so in his simple black jumpsuit, but it did not stop people from recognizing him.
"Hey, Draco-kun, I'm surprised you managed to drag Yugi out of bed in time!" Jonouchi exclaimed with a laugh. Yugi just grumbled, fighting back another yawn. "Yugi-kun, is Yami Yugi-kun even awake yet?"
"Nope," he replied, rubbing his eyes again. "Don't worry, I'll wake him up before the tournament starts."
"I hope so," Seto replied, that challenging smirk on his face. "I wouldn't want my only rival to loose because he was too tired to hold his cards."
Yugi gave Draco a look. "Didn't we already have this discussion?"
Draco's laughing was cut short as someone let out a mighty sneeze. The four of them turned in time to see Yami Bakura blowing his nose on a handkerchief. Everyone sweatdropped as the tomb robber glared at them, daring them to say something.
"What are you even doing out here?" Jonouchi asked. Yami Bakura opened his mouth to answer, only to burst into a fit of coughing instead. Seto went over and patted him on the back, helping him get it out of his system. The tomb robber took a deep breath afterwards, sniffing as he did so.
"Ryou locked 'emself in his Soul Roomb," he explained, struggling to talk normally. "Id's ten timebs worst when he's in controlb."
"You still sound awful," Yugi said sympathetically. He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a small packet of vitamins. "Here. These might help a bit."
"Thank youb," Yami Bakura said gratefully, popping one in his mouth right away as Marik ran up to join them.
"Hey, guys!" the Egyptian exclaimed happily. "How's it going?"
The tomb robber answered him by issuing forth another sneeze. Marik sweatdropped.
"Okay… anyone else?"
If glares were bullets, Marik would have had two holes in his forehead. Seto chuckled at their antics as another limo pulled up next to his. The boys did not pay much attention to it, even as a tall man in a black suit with pink pinstripes left the car, his long white hair covering half of his face. Of course, once the man spoke, it was kind of hard not to notice him.
Both Seto and Yugi cringed at the high-pitched voice, turning around slowly as the man came up behind them. Yami Bakura chose to back up a bit, half hiding behind Kaiba and Jonouchi so the man would not notice him, at least not right away.
"What do you want, Pegasus?" Seto demanded, his voice low and threatening.
Pegasus J. Crawford smiled broadly, before wrapping an overly friendly arm around his shoulders.
"Why, Kaiba-boy, I'm here observing this tournament you're holding," he replied warmly, ignoring the overall sense of animosity from most of the boys. "This is your fourth tournament, and it does involve my card game, after all."
His card game? a certain voice within Yugi's head grumbled, still sounding half asleep. Can I remind him exactly where "his" game came from?
Yugi resisted the urge to smile. Not right now. Maybe later.
Yugi put a hand over his mouth, pretending to yawn in order to hide a smile. Not long ago, he had stayed up late with Yami Yugi to watch an American horror movie his grandfather had bought ages ago. In his opinion, it was more gross than scary, and his other self had taken a liking to one of the main characters, who had been arrested prior to the movie for cannibalism. It was things like that that made Yugi wonder if the pharaoh hung out with the tomb robber too much.
Meanwhile, Seto's teeth were clenched, his fists balled up and shaking. Obviously, the mere presence of Pegasus got on his nerves, not to mention being touched by him.
"Get your hands off of me," he growled in a low voice, "or I will send you to the Shadow Realm."
Pegasus laughed heartily. "Kaiba-boy, you need a Millennium Item to do that."
Seto's face twisted into a smirk. He reached behind his back, pulling out the Millennium Rod from its not so hidden place in his belt. He held it over his chest, making sure the one eyed man could easily see the Eye of the Wisdom of Darkness at the top.
"A Millennium Item like this?"
No one there had ever seen anyone back away from Seto so fast. Jonouchi and Yami Bakura sniggered, while Yugi and Marik tried not to do so. Draco was just lost in all of the exchanges; obviously something had happened between these people that he was not aware of yet. Pegasus cleared his throat; trying to regain what little dignity he had left as he straightened his suit.
"Ahem… yes… well…" he began, before collecting himself. "Actually, I'm really here to speak with Yugi-boy."
Yugi gave a start, surprised. "Me? Whatever for?"
The smile returned to Pegasus' face. "Of course you. I need to speak to you about the conditions of the duel we had during Duelist Kingdom. Do you remember them?"
Yugi raised an eyebrow at the mention of the first tournament he had ever participated in. It took quite a bit to get under his skin, but being reminded of the quest he had to undertake because a man that could not accept death had captured the soul of his grandfather was one of those things.
"Vaguely," he answered. "I was a little more concerned about other things at the time."
Pegasus cleared his throat, uncomfortable again. "Yes, well," he began again. "One of those conditions was that you would gain sixty percent of Industrial Illusions' stocks if you won, in essence, becoming the CEO."
The other boys exchanged looks, surprised, as Yugi processed this. He vaguely recalled hearing that, but he was not entirely sure. Duelist Kingdom had been back before he truly understood the fact that he shared his body with another being, and the duel against Pegasus started just before he communicated with Yami Yugi for the first time in the corridors of his mind. In short, his memory from that time was still a little foggy.
"So why are you bringing this up now?"
"For the obvious reasons," he continued without missing a beat. "You're nineteen now, and as far as I know, not in college. Given the circumstances, I am willing to put you through business school to prepare you for taking your place in the company."
Yugi did not have to look to know that everyone was staring at him. He squirmed a bit uncomfortably, before answering, "I… would have to think about this. In September, however, I'll be starting year four of seven at a… very private school in England. No matter what I choose, it will have to wait until my schooling is done."
Pegasus seemed a bit disappointed, more from the fact that he did not know about his current academic situation than the fact that he could not give him a straight answer. He nodded and bid goodbye to the boys, before walking back to his limo. As soon as the car was driving away, however, Jonouchi practically jumped on Yugi.
"Yugi-ster!" he exclaimed. "You know what this means! You'll get to make the cards now! And with mou hitori no Yugi, you'll never run out of ideas for it. This is fantastic!"
"Not only that," Marik added, his tone more subdued but no less excited, "but since you're also a wizard, you can help introduce the game more into the wizarding community around the world. I don't know about you, but I think it would be cool to have my monsters moving around on their cards."
Seto's face suddenly lit up. "Marik, you're a genius…"
Marik stared at him. "I… am…?"
"Yugi-kun," he continued, ignoring the Egyptian, "the magic dueling board, that might be why it's not working. We're trying to use non-magical cards on a magical device. You could open up a branch of Industrial Illusions to make a magical series of the cards."
"Demo… Seto-kun, minna… I don't know if that's even what I want to do," Yugi objected. "I never gave it much thought what I would do after I got out of school, even when I was just in high school. I never got the chance! I was so busy worrying about saving Ojii-chan, or acquiring the God Cards, or getting mou hitori no boku's memory back, or everything else that what would happen after school let out sort of took a back seat."
"It'd stillb a breat obbertunity, though," Yami Bakura interjected, before taking a moment to blow his nose. "Dink aboub it, kib. You and pharaob woulb rule ober the game again insteab of just blaying it."
Yugi still looked uncertain, but they did not have much time to think about it, as Draco looked at his watch (which was strapped on upside down).
"Guys, we'll have to finish this conversation later," he pointed out. "We're going to be late if we don't get to our starting positions now."
Seto nodded. "Right; I'm off to headquarters to announce the start. See you all at the finals!"
Everyone said their goodbyes (Yami Bakura sneezed), before taking off at a run in all directions, heading for the starting positions indicated on the Puzzle Cards they had received when they signed up.