Of spacedogs and butterflies

Warnings/notes : SF AU, Seto/Joey, Yami/Yugi, Bakura/Ryou, Marik/Malik, evil Anzu (or so it would seem), Mokuba, Mai, Pegasus, Otogi?, weird stuff

Disclaimer : I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh. This fic was inspired by two things : Kaira-chan's Seto/Anzu-fic "Dreams aren't reality" (Joey the Evil Spacedog) and the Deathstalker-serie by Stephen Green, on which the setting is based, more or less.

written at 9th october 2003, by Misura

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He still remembered the day they came to get his little brother, dragging him away to an unknown fate. He could still hear that shrill voice, calling out to him.

"Seto! Help me! I don't want to go with them!"

He rose, in spite of knowing he'd only get himself arrested -or worse- if he tried to intervene. His father -well, stepfather actually, as he'd discover only later- held him back.

"It's better this way." There was not a hint of compassion in Gozaburo's eyes.

"*You* told them." Seto choked on the words, on the rage flooding him. "You - "

"I did what was needed for the continuation of our House." Gozaburo interrupted him coldly. "That kid is obviously Gifted and trying to hide it would only have meant the rest of us would get dragged away as well. There's nothing you can do."

He had obeyed those words then, believing they were true. He was, after all, nothing but a single teenager. What chance did he have against the Imperial Guard, against *her*?

None. At the time, Gozaburo had been right. Now though, Seto was the leader of his House. A House that was one of the most powerful ones in the Empire.

There was little doubt Mokuba was long dead by now, but the system, and the woman behind the system that had murdered him, were still alive and in control. For the moment.

Revenge, it was said, was a dish best served cold.

Seto Kaiba had waited seven years. Seven years of gathering every bit of useful information, every name that might be of use, every piece of weaponry he might acquire without drawing attention.

He would stop at nothing to accomplish his goals. Not even if he had to plead his case before one of the most wanted criminals in the known galaxy, the man that was called 'The Spacedog', who was rumored to own a fleet half the size of the Imperial Fleet.

Privately, Seto highly doubted the truth of that, but it was reasonable to assume the Spacedog possessed at least *some* spaceships. And every rebellion had to start somewhere ...

*~*~*~*~*

"Will you sit quiet for a second?!?" Mai snapped. "You're acting like ... like a nervous, young bride."

"Shut up!" Joey hissed, gulping down another glass of juice. Mai preferred not to ask if he had added anything alcoholic to it. "Perhaps I am just a wee little bit ... edgy, yes. So what?"

"Why?" Mai inquired. "I've never seen you like this before. What's so special about this Seto Kaiba that you're scared of him?"

"I'm not - " Joey began heatedly. Mai raised one eyebrow. "All right, so I *am* not too eager to meet with him. That guy's a creep! Honestly, haven't you heard about what he's done to the guys that took his little brother to the Inner Palace? Haven't you heard any of the talk about how he killed his own father?"

"Stepfather." Mai corrected him absently, pouring some coffee for herself. "And I thought that was all gossip anyway."

"No proof, no official investigation. Doesn't mean he didn't do it." Joey shrugged.

"All right, so let's assume for the moment he *did* kill some people. Big deal. It's not like *we* have a stainless past." Mai pointed out.

"It's not the same." Joey maintained. "He's a ... a killer. A courtier. A noble."

Mai sighed. "So ... why did you agree to meet him in the first place? Why go through all this trouble to get here if you don't really want to talk to him?"

"I didn't say that." Joey finally sat down. "I just don't like him. Or trust him. But he says he wants a rebellion, to overthrow the empress herself, to change everything that's wrong. How could I refuse his invitation, risk missing what might be the biggest adventure of my life?"

Mai laughed. "Then off you go, Spacedog. And don't let him smell you're afraid."

Joey made a rude noise and stalked out of the room.

*~*~*~*~*

Yami let his gaze sweep over the guests at the -utterly boring- party and wondered what he was doing here. The drinks were barely drinkable, the food was downright bad and the conversation was enough to put any reasonable person to sleep.

A high-pitched laugh reminded him. Forcing his lips to twist upwards in a slight smile, he turned around to see what the Empress, the guest of honor at this reception, found so amusing.

Not, he reflected sourly, that it was particularly hard to amuse her. Only a trifle bit harder than to annoy her, earning a single trip to one of the Outer Planets. The Empress was a dangerous woman to be around for very long ; sooner or later everyone slipped, misinterpreted her mood and got shipped off with the kind 'suggestion' not to return for, say, another five years.

Yami hadn't. He was the exception to the rule. People whispered it was because the Empress was in love with him, but he knew it wasn't that. He was, quite simply, intelligent. More intelligent than the rest of the court. More intelligent than the Empress, with her silver laugh and cruel eyes.

And much too smart to ever let it show, to openly vie for more power or wealth. He was content with observing, watching others throw themselves in the abyss of politics. As far as the world knew, Yami was nothing but an annoying fop, someone who was not to be taken seriously.

He might have the Empress' ear, yet what good was that if he didn't use that opportunity? Yami sighed. None of them seemed to understand that power wielded was power lost. None of them seemed to be capable of seeing through the meaninglessness of it all, the whole facade of the court's political schemes and powergames.

The Empress ruled. The rest of them obeyed. And one day soon, Yami was going to die of boredom.

~tbc?~