Completed: 04/17/2004
Modified: 05/17/2004

Here's a short speculative ficlet inspired by episode 121 - the
conclusion of the Noa arc.

------------------------------------
SUMMARY: Seto Kaiba insists on continuing his duel with Gozaburo even
when faced with the threat of an incoming missile. But is it mere
arrogance and hatred that motivates him, or something far deeper?
------------------------------------

Title: Diversionary Tactics
Author: Madamhydra
Email: madamhydraaol.com
Status: ficlet
Archive: www.madamhydra.net
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: entire series (anime and manga)
Pairings: none

Disclaimer: (Full Disclaimers at the end) Yu-Gi-Oh! is the copyright
and property of its creator and legally associated parties. Used
without permission. Not for profit.

Note 1: This is mostly based on the Japanese version of the episode,
with a little bit taken from the US version. But don't get me started
about how they mangled the dub! ::glare::

(...) represents thoughts.

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Diversionary Tactics
An Yu-Gi-Oh! ficlet by Madamhydra
===========================================

"How much time is left?" Seto Kaiba demanded sharply.

Noa's reply echoed in the cavernous duel chamber.

"Eight minutes, forty seconds."

Nearly nine minutes.

Too little, but at the same time, far too much.

Not enough time to allow himself to escape, but more than enough time
to allow Gozaburo to wreak untold damage.

Or to keep his victims from escaping.

He didn't want to trust Noa, but he also sensed genuine remorse in the
other's voice. Besides, at this point, he had no choice. He was in
no position to help Mokuba directly.

But there was something else he could do. He could distract Gozaburo,
and keep the bastard from interfering with Noa's attempt to save
Mokuba. If his plan worked, his brother, Yugi and the others would be
able to return to their bodies and escape before the base exploded.
As for himself....

So when Gozaburo leapt at him, he threw down his challenge. And to
ensure that the bloody virtual spectre of his stepfather would accept,
he offered Gozaburo the perfect bait -- his body, and with it, his
complete and utter surrender to Gozaburo's will.

As he expected, it was a prize the other man had to possess,
regardless of the danger or the cost.

Seto intended that the price Gozaburo paid would be very, very high,
indeed.

------------------------------

Seven minutes left.

A flip of a trap card confirmed his suspicions.

Exodia Necross was immensely powerful, no question about it, but it
also had several glaring weaknesses.

(Gozaburo, you're an arrogant fool to rely so heavily on such a flawed
monster.)

And just like he'd done before, he would exploit the bastard's
arrogance to the limit.

He taunted his opponent, exposing Exodia Necross's vulnerabilities,
one after another. And ever mindful of the ticking clock, he took his
time rubbing Gozaburo's nose in his incompetence.

(Yes, Gozaburo. Think only of me. See my pride and my confidence.
See my contempt and my insolence. Let them feed your hatred, your
loathing, until your entire being is focused solely on my defeat and
humiliation. Forget everything but your hunger for my utter
destruction.)

(MY destruction. Not Mokuba's. Not Yugi's.)

(I am your one and only target, and I will not permit you to forget
it!)

------------------------------

Five minutes left.

Gozaburo had no subtlety, no understanding for the cards and their
exquisite complexity. He failed to see their full potential, both in
strategy and improvisation. Instead of taking advantage of his other
cards, Gozaburo merely kept ordering Exodia Necross to pound at Seto,
over and over again.

The bastard could be so predictable, but that worked to his advantage.
There was only one type of attack he had to guard against.

Didn't the Americans had a phrase for someone like that? Something
about a 'one trick pony'?

------------------------------

Four minutes left.

He drew two cards, set another, then finished his turn.

He needed to drag out this duel as long as possible. It didn't matter
if Gozaburo thought he was trying to stall for time, as long as
Gozaburo failed to realize the real reason he was stalling. That, far
from merely trying to save his own neck, Seto's only goal was to give
Mokuba the best possible chance of escape.

And yet he couldn't afford to wait too long. Despite its weaknesses,
Exodia Necross had incredible attack power. With each round, his
chances of losing increased. And with Seto defeated, Gozaburo would
be free to turn his wrath on Mokuba and the others.

He taunted Gozaburo on being a third-rate duelist. He said it because
it was perfectly true, but more importantly, he did it to goad
Gozaburo even further into obsessive fury.

------------------------------

Two minutes left.

He drew his Blue Eyes and knew that this was his moment to attack.
All the cards were in place, and he had just enough life points left
to make his strategy work.

He struck, reviving his Magic Lamp and special summoning La Jinn onto
the field. He then began to methodically strip Exodia Necross of its
powers. He eliminated the pieces of Exodia card by card, as if
delivering slow, deliberate verbal slaps. It was a familiar
intimidation technique, designed to give its victim plenty of time to
see each blow coming. Gozaburo had frequently done the same to him,
except Gozaburo had used physical blows.

But he wasn't taking his time merely for payback, or to enjoy the
sight of Gozaburo sputtering incoherently in rage and frustration. He
had to use up those last precious seconds.

------------------------------

One minute left.

He summoned the Blue Eyes White Dragon, and admired its fierce sleek
lines one last time.

"Checkmate, Gozaburo."

Then he ordered his Blue Eyes to attack.

------------------------------

"10, 9, 8, 7, 6...."

He listened as Gozaburo wallowed in denial over his loss, then snorted
and delivered his contemptuous retort.

"Remember that my strength cannot be measured with data."

Gozaburo exploded in rage, transforming back into the howling red
monster from before.

He steeled himself for this final confrontation. He never expected
Gozaburo to keep up his part of the deal. The bastard would attack
him, win or lose. As Gozaburo lunged toward him, intent on stealing
his body, Seto tossed out his final lure -- a display of apparent
shock and fear that would surely draw Gozaburo in like a shark drawn
to blood.

"Are you crazy, Gozaburo!?"

He didn't know if he could resist Gozaburo's takeover, but he had to
try. He had no hope of escape, but if he could hang on long enough,
he could ensure that Gozaburo would not escape, either.

(Mokuba....)

But even as he braced himself for the invasion, the platform he stood
upon swung upward out of Gozaburo's swipe. Startled, he looked down
and saw... Yugi.

Instinctively, he jumped for safety. And for the first time since he
heard Noa's voice in the duel chamber, Seto Kaiba felt a twinge of
hope.

-------------------------------------------------
Keeper of Duo's Dark Side Duo no Seishi
Saitoh no Koibito Corruptor Extraordinaire
-------------------------------------------------
madamhydra at aol.com

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Full Disclaimer
All names, likenesses, and rights of Yu-Gi-Oh! are trademarks,
copyright, and property of Kazuki Takahashi and legally associated
parties. The characters and associated materials of these works are
used WITHOUT permission for the purpose of entertainment only. This
work of fiction is not meant for sale or profit.
Original portion of the fiction included here is considered to be
the sole property and copyrighted to the author.
===========================================