Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-gi-oh.

Author's Notes:

Someone is actually taking an interest in my story again, so I decided to add another chapter. I'm only half-way finished with the rewrites (man those things take forever), but I'm getting really bored with them. I might just rewrite one chapter in between every new chapter or something.

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Chapter 26: Conflict

Lunch had just finished, and Tiffany was practically skipping back to her room. The sense of doom from yesterday seemed to have been forgotten as skipped down the hall greeting everyone she saw along the way.

Unfortunately, I had not been able to shake my own feelings of dread. The truth behind Maximus and me was gnawing away at my soul, and I felt an overwhelming need to finally let it out and share the truth with someone.

Yet Tiffany seemed so happy, so confident, that I could not bring myself to ruin her mood. As it turned out, I didn't have to.

"Well, well," came a familiar voice. "Look who's here."

Tiffany turned to see Amanda, the girl she had beaten in the final round of the qualification tournament back home. This time, she was dressed in a white skirt, shoes, and blouse. Even her skin looked pale, as if she were made of ice. Her stare was certainly cold enough.

"Amanda?" Tiffany snapped. Apparently the site of the girl had startled her. "What are you doing here? You lost the tournament."

"I belong here," she replied coldly. "You didn't think that was the only qualification tournament I had entered, did you?"

"That's against the rules," Tiffany replied. "You're only supposed to get one chance to compete in this tournament."

"Don't lecture me about cheating miss witch," Amanda said with a glare. "If you hadn't cheated in the first place, I would have won that match anyway."

"You must have rocks in your brains," Tiffany snapped back. "When did I ever cheat? You were just too stupid to know my card's effect."

Amanda scowled as if she were looking right through Tiffany. "I saw your reaction to that card. It wasn't supposed to be in your deck, was it? Somehow, you slipped it in there."

"I did not," Tiffany growled. At this point, I was certain that her good mood was spoiled for the rest of the day. "I don't know how that card got in their. Maybe it was just the power of my puzzle."

Amanda stuck her nose high into the air. "And you think an excuse like that makes it ok? Even if that thing really did have powers, what makes you think it's fair to use them in a duel?"

Tiffany reeled back as if she'd been slapped. "What do you mean?"

"You think its okay to win by using whatever tricks because you have the Millennium Puzzle like Yugi," she said dramatically, pointing at Tiffany. "Did it ever occur to you that the only reason you're winning is because of that thing?"

Tiffany made no reply. Her mind was racing with the implications of those words. Amanda had really gotten under her skin.

"I'm not saying I believe in your so-called powers," Amanda went on. "I just think that other people are helping you win because they don't want to see the person with the Millennium Puzzle lose."

I made no special effects save for the change in Tiffany's hair. There were no lights, no smoke, no flashes, no sounds... no nothing. In an instant, I was in control of Tiffany's body, and I did the only thing I could think of to do.

I slapped Amanda hard. "You lost," I whispered in Tiffany's voice. "Some day, you'll have to accept that."

I then walked away before the girl could reply. Once we were out of sight, I withdrew my spirit to the back of Tiffany's mind.

"Don't let her get to you," I said as Tiffany continued to walk down the hall. "You beat her fair and square on your own. You didn't even have me helping you on that final move."

"Yeah..." Tiffany replied weakly. She still didn't seem convinced. I decided to let her be for a little while.

I started to withdraw further into the puzzle when suddenly I felt a powerful sensation throughout my entire soul. It was like a thousand voices screaming in fear all at once inside of me.

"Yami?" Tiffany thought to me worriedly. "What is it?"

"I...I don't know," I replied shaky. "It...it's almost like the time I faced Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon. The first time...when I first saw him...and he looked back at me...I think it's the feeling of death looking at me."

"You!" said a voice from behind, causing Tiffany to twirl around. "At last, I can have my revenge."

Tiffany barely had time to register the sight of the tall, skinny, yet proud Egyptian boy before I blasted him back down the hall he'd come from. "I guess he's made it to the tournament as well," I said uneasily.

"Was he the one you were worried about?" Tiffany asked.

I pondered for a moment. "No..." I finally replied. "The feeling still hasn't left yet."

"Hi Tiffany," said another voice. This just seemed to be the day for familiar faces to sneak up behind Tiffany.

"Rachel," Tiffany smiled. "I'm glad to see you. Sorry, but I just sent your brother flying down the hall."

"Really?" Rachel giggled. "I wish I could have seen that. So he's in this tournament too? I don't remember him actually signing up..."

"Who's your friend Rachel?" For the umpteenth time, Tiffany spun around to look behind her.

Another scream of energy jolted my spirit as Tiffany looked at the girl behind her. She looked to be about Tiffany's age. Shadows clung to her features like a cape. I couldn't make out much more then that, though her voice gave her away as American.

"Oh hi Kuro," Rachel said with a smile. "Tiffany, meet Kuro. Kuro, this is my roommate Tiffany.

Kuro's eyes lingered down towards the Millennium Puzzle. "Oh, another Millennium Item user, are you?"

Before anyone could reply, Tiffany's watch began to beep, signifying that a duel was about to take place.

"It's just a good luck charm," she muttered as she turned to leave. "Excuse me, but I have a duel."

Before either of them could reply, Tiffany turned and raced towards the stairs.

"What is the deal with that girl?" I wondered aloud. "She creeps me out more then-"

"Yami, could you be quiet for a while," Tiffany snapped suddenly. I was a bit taken back by her harshness, but rather then inquire further, I remained silent as she had asked.

The number on the watch said 16, so she ran up the staircase and down the hall of the third floor until she reached room 16.

"Déjà vu," I thought silently. Just across the hall was room 17, where we had battled the day before.

There was no one inside when she walked in, so I began to spirit merge with her...but nothing happened.

"I'm going to do this duel on my own Yami," Tiffany said briskly. "You can just watch quietly."

"What?" I asked. "Don't tell me you actually listened to Amanda!"

Tiffany didn't bother to reply. She walked over to the console next to the door and scanned her watch on the little device.

Before she had even stepped away from the console, her opponent arrived. He was a boy about Tiffany's age with blonde hair and blue eyes. He wore a blue shirt and jeans with brown shoes and a brown belt. He looked very high-class.

"Hi cute stuff," he said with a grin. Tiffany probably would have blushed if she hadn't been so irked.

He scanned her watch in. The scanner replied with the familiar beep, and the lights in the room brightened. Then a hologram of the prize card appeared before us.

It was a spell card called Roar of the Dark Stars. The picture on the card showed a black Slypher with his second mouth spewing flames on a tiny Buster Blader. I could easily guess what the card was for.

"Another shadow god card, huh?" Tiffany asked. "Winning that should be a piece of cake."

The card hologram had no words written on it, and it soon vanished. Two dueling tables rose up from the ground. Then the very room around us shifted to a dueling field.

"Here we go!" Tiffany exclaimed.

Meanwhile...

Maximus fell to the floor, gasping for breath. A pain like none he had ever felt before still pounded inside his head.

"What was that?" he gasped.

He had been doing his routine checkup on the minds of all the participants. He had just gotten to one girl that he didn't remember seeing before when suddenly something like a bird's talon clawed into his mind.

"That...girl..." he gasped.

But before he could even try to remember who it had been, he passed out on the floor.

...and back in the corner, where there seemed to be no light, six red eyes began to glow...

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Like it? It took me a long time (and lots of persuasion) to finally write. Hopefully the next one will be up sooner.

Speaking of the next one, Tiffany finds herself in over her head but refuses to listen to Yami. Rumors start to fly around about something happening to Pegasus (Maximus). Check out the action next chapter!

Please R&R