The Falsebound Kingdom: Hero's Crusade

Notes: My version written here is different from the main story line's in that the monsters the characters use are different. Other than that, all dialogue and events are based on the actual game. (Which, by the way, I do not own.)

War Campaign

"Those who claim to control the gods are in fact controlled by the gods." - Alexander Irvine, Philosopher

The hot mid-day sun bore down on the Earth as a large white bus screeched to a stop in front of a factory-like complex. It spat out its only passengers and then zoomed off down the road, vanishing from sight. Eyeing the front gates quizzically, one of the passengers, a tall boy with sandy blonde hair, turned to his friend. "Well, this must be the lab mentioned in that letter you got."

Yugi, a rather short boy with an unusual haircut, nodded and held up a piece of paper. "'SIC Domino Labs.' Yeah, this looks like the place."

Beside him, Téa stared at the towering structures, absorbing the sights. "Doesn't the building look futuristic?" she asked her friends excitedly. "SIC is a famous overseas game company, isn't it?"

"It's a new game company that just started here in Japan, but it's already becoming a major player," Ryou told her and the others. "Although it's relatively new, it's gotten pretty big by releasing a bunch of innovative games. They've been using 3D images and virtual reality research to create some amazingly lifelike environments." As usual, Ryou sounded as though he had swallowed the textbook on the subject.

Joey tried to take in what he had said. "It sounds a lot like what Kaiba's company does," he noted.

Looking back down at his letter, Yugi read off an answer. "According to this invitation, they're doing exactly the same kind of work as Kaiba Corporation. 'SIC has incorporated cutting-edge technologies to develop next generation virtual reality technology. SIC hopes to work in the field of games to perfect this technology, using the wildly popular Duel Monsters. SIC plans to further develop the technology through gameplay.'" He looked up from the paper, wearing a grin. "Their technological goals may be scientific, but if they're using Duel Monsters, I want to get a look at it!"

"Me too," Téa agreed. "This is so exciting! But why did they send invitations to us?"

Yugi brought a hand up to his chin in thought. "I think they sent invitations to everyone that ranked well at the Duelist Kingdom and Battle City tournaments." He pointed to the bottom paragraph and read aloud: "In order to test the new Duel Simulator 'Kingdom,' SIC is sponsoring a test trial... and respectfully asks for your assistance in helping us make 'Kingdom' the best game it can be." He looked up. "It also says to bring friends if you want. Naturally I thought of you guys right away!

Joey crossed his arms haughtily. "Just so we're all clear, I'm here because I did so well in the tournament."

"Oh yeah?" Tristan countered. "Then where's your invitation?"

"They must have sent it to the wrong address!" shot back Joey.

"Yeah, sure," remarked Tristan. "At least we know that Yugi is here as a finalist."

This was Joey's last straw. "That's it! Come on, Tristan! I'll take you, right here and now!" He shoved Tristan back by the shoulder. Tristan retaliated by pushing him back into the chain link fence that surrounded the complex.

Téa moved between them, interrupting their brawl. "Stop it, both of you!" she cried. "This is no time to fight! Look, there's someone from the lab waiting for us. Let's get going."

Indeed, a towering man with dark hair and eyes hidden behind sunglasses had just stepped outside the front door. He made his way over to the group and cleared his throat. "You must be Yugi Mutou," he said. "We've been waiting for you."

"Uh-huh. That's me. And these are my friends..." he waved around at the others.

"Wonderful," the man answered curtly. "Let's all go inside, shall we?"

Once inside the building, the employee led the group through the maze-like hallways of the building. The walls were barren and white, and their footsteps made echoing clangs against the shiny steel floor. As the walked, Joey leaned over and whispered to Yugi, "Hey Yugi, didn't we see this guy at Kaiba Corporation once?"

Yugi strained a glance at the man on tiptoe. He saw a small, copper-colored name badge, which read "Isono," barely visible on the man's coat pocket. "I think so," Yugi answered, for he recognized the name, "but all of the people at Kaiba Corporation give off the same kind of weird vibe..."

The group stopped in front of an elevator. Isono inserted a security card key and punched a series of buttons, summoning the elevator to their floor. While they waited for it to reach their level, Isono turned to face Joey. "That is correct. I did work for Kaiba Corporation."

Joey jumped back. "Geeze! He heard us!" Tristan stomped on his foot quickly to shut him up. Just then, the elevator doors slid open, allowing the gaggle of friends to board behind Isono. They traveled upward for two stories, and then exited the elevator just as they had entered it.

Isono led the group down yet another hallway. "We're almost at the main lab." After walking for another few minutes, they came across a wide steel door. Once again, Isono used his security card to grant access to the room, wherein lied a single, medical-style table with computer equipment hugging the walls. Blips and buzzes rang in their ears as the special programs scanned and tested various aspects of the game.

Yugi ran forward and stared at the lone object resting atop the table. "What in the world is this...?" 'This' looked like an exact replica of Kaiba Corporation's Duel Disk system.

Isono stepped closer to the table as the others crowded around all its sides to get a good look. "This is SIC's latest simulator, code name: 'Kingdom.' This is just a prototype; we're only using the Duel Disk for packaging reasons. It's all original SIC hardware on the inside."

Several "Ooooh!"s and "Aaahhhh!"s floated up from the group. Joey reached a finger forward to touch the "Duel Disk," only to have it slapped away by Téa. "Is this what you use to recreate the world of Duel Monsters?" he asked, giving Téa a furtive glance as he rubbed his hand.

"Yes," Isono answered. "Our tests of 'Kingdom' have been very successful so far. We've constructed an entire fantasy world based on Duel Monsters. We'd like you to help us test the simulator by simply playing the game as you normally would. The simulator supports multiple players, so you will all be able to play at the same time. In multi-player mode, everyone joins the game as a different game character," he explained clearly.

Ryou commented with interest, "It sounds like a network game or something."

"These new games are so awesome," Tristan admired.

Isono went on. "'Kingdom' is a fantasy world. The card monsters there are alive. You will all join the resistance and fight against the Empire, which is suppressing the general population. Of course, you'll all participate in the game as different characters. The game is currently set for a few hours and we'll be recording your play data from here." He gestured at the various instruments edging the room.

Joey could barely contain his glee. "Cool! Well, what're we waiting for! Let's play!" He punched the air in a victory pose.

Nodding in agreement, Yugi grinned. "Yeah!"

"This is so exciting," thought Yugi to himself as Isono began the process of setting up and starting the game. "I wonder what it'll be like."

Somewhere, in a back corner of his mind, Yugi's other half voiced his doubt "... Yugi... Does this seem on the level to you?"

Confused, Yugi thought back, "Huh? What do you mean?"

His other paused accusingly. "This whole simulator seems suspicious," he said after a moment.

Yugi sighed. Always being overprotective, his other was. "You're probably just overreacting," Yugi told him. Isono fetched several arm cuffs, like wide bracelets, and helped attach them to everyone's wrist. A wire connected each cuff to the main simulator. After one last glance to assure that everything was a-okay, Isono keyed a command into the main computer and the Duel Disk look-alike hummed to life. "Ah! It's about to start!" Yugi exclaimed as a mint green light traveled up the wire and illuminated a series of markings on the band. The inside of his mind seemed to blur and change channels as the game program transferred the images into his head. A map screen appeared, and the overview of the game plot flashed across the screen for Yugi to read:

After three hundred years of ruling the Rondeval continent, the Sygh-Varths Empire is faced with a crisis. Since the twelfth Emperor, Haysheen, ascended to the throne, corruption and brutality have spread through the Empire. The people suffer oppression, but their complaints have fallen on deaf ears. Haysheen and a select group of his underlings have been living in the lap of luxury. Their lavish lifestyle is supported by heavy taxation, which has pushed most of the populace to the brink. People on the fringes of the Empire have responded with rebellion and revolt. This uprising has extended as far as the northern part of the Empire on Vaxi Island.

As the computer continued its narration, the map screen changed to show an image of the cruel Emperor Haysheen, sitting atop his throne wearing a smug look of satisfaction. He must have been old, for his skin had grayed visibly and his body looked almost like a thin bag of bones, but he still carried his ruling scepter with a fierce look of power in his eyes. The screen then shifted back to the map, showing the part of the continent where the rebellions had taken place. In the northwestern corner, just off the coast of the main landmass, lay a small island labeled VAXI. Its western coast flashed a bright green, indicating the source of the uprisings.

"Hmm, an interesting plot," Yugi noted to himself. "I can't wait to help fight for those people's freedom." His feeling of determination, however, was cut short when the image in his head crackled and made a static sound.

"What's the matter?" cried Yugi, feeling the static traveling up and down his arms and legs.

"I don't know," replied his other by thought, "but I've got a really bad feeling about this." Meanwhile, bold white letters flashed across Yugi's mental screen:





The light static turned to powerful jolts of electricity. "What's happening!" exclaimed Yugi. He then had the feeling of being sucked up inside a vacuum cleaner, and he felt the cold air of the lab leave him behind. Tumbling head over heels, Yugi heard the buzzing noise grow into the roaring of the wind before all went black. "UWAAAHH... !"

Though all was still black, Yugi could have sworn that he heard a voice calling out to him.

"... ... gi ... ... ... ... ... Yugi... ... ... ... happened? ... ... Lord Yugi... ..."

Struggling to focus the sounds, Yugi managed to command his ears to listen to the speaker. "Lord Yugi! Wake up, please! Lord Yugi!"

Yugi then realized that his face was rubbing up against cool, damp stone, and that the air smelled cleaner than it did earlier. He peeled himself off the ground with trembling arms and forced his eyes to open and view the hazy place he had landed in. His vision, though still blurry, depicted a figure kneeling over him. He brought a hand to his throbbing forehead. "Uuugggnnn. Oh, my head..."

The smeary-edged silhouette stood from his crouch. "You seem to be coming out of it."

Yugi tried to focus his eyes, but the outline only sharpened slightly. "Where am I?" he asked his overseer.

"Huh?" The figure seemed startled by his question. "You're in the port city of Makhad on the western edge of Vaxi Island. You lost consciousness suddenly. You just passed out, right in the middle of our meeting. Don't you remember?"

"Remember what?" Slowly, the silhouette brightened and assumed the shape of a small man, dressed in loosely fitting white robes. He wore a tall hat bedecked with a golden serpent, and a veil covered his face from view. His only visible feature was his round, buggy eyes. He also appeared to have blue skin.

The man sighed. "You appear to be suffering from memory loss. Let me explain everything as quickly as I can." He pointed to Yugi. "Your name is Yugi. You're the leader of the resistance here in Makhad." He then motioned to a crate behind him, which had several maps and papers spread about its surface. "We were planning out next attack when you passed out. We've tricked the imperial forces into splitting up, and Etos, the ruler of these lands, is left with few guards. It was the perfect chance for us to break the Emperor's repressive hold, and we're just about ready to attack!" He glanced back at Yugi. "Is any of this coming back to you? Anything at all?"

Blinking, Yugi shook his head. "No, none of it. I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. But it sounds like I'm supposed to take command of the resistance." Taking command was something Yugi happened to be good at.

The man nodded. "That is correct, Lord Yugi. You are, after all, supreme commander of the resistance." Mentally, Yugi sighed. This doesn't sound good. "Without you," he continued, "we don't even have enough marshals. You must lead on the front lines."

Several more blinks passed. "Marshal?" Yugi asked quizzically.

"Oh dear!" the man gasped. "Have you forgotten everything? Marshals are a type of general and are central to a battle. Marshals can control monsters and engage in battle by pitting their monsters against those of the enemy. Each monster has incredible power, power equal to that of several thousand human soldiers. This is why the marshals hold the key to victory in any battle. However, the number of men with this power over monsters is small. Including you, the resistance has but three."

"So you're telling me that I have this special marshal ability?" Yugi inquired.

Beaming, the man answered with a chuckle, "You have it in spades, sir. Although I'm afraid that your powers might be weaker in your current state. You will just have to get it back slowly in battle. In the beginning, I will assist your recovery, Lord Yugi."

Unsure of what to say, Yugi replied "Uh, thanks. What's your name again?"

"Me? My name is Shimon, at your service, sir." Shimon bowed respectfully.

"Right. Well, thank you, Shimon. Now, can you tell me a little bit more about our enemy?" Yugi had worked it out in his head: if he was going to play this role in the game, he might as well do it right.

"Of course. Remember that imperial units usually have a marshal assigned to them as well. You will need to get your battle instincts back if you're going to defeat the imperial marshals. For the time being, we need to finish planning our strategy and organize our units. Come this way."

Shimon gathered up the scattered papers and led Yugi into a warehouse-like building. He instructed Yugi to sit while he fetched their third member to aid in planning the attack. While they waited, Yugi's other self huffed angrily, "Well, this is a fine mess we're in."

Yugi sighed and answered, "I know. It doesn't feel like we have any control over the game."

"I think it's safe to assume that we're trapped in this fantasy game world," his other said. He should know, for they had already experienced this twice in the past. "They must have been planning on using us as their lab rats from the beginning."

"I wonder if the rest of our friends are here too...?" Yugi trailed off in thought.

"It's likely. They're probably all just as confused by whatever character roles they've been thrown into as well."

Yugi glanced around at the spacious room around him. "We've got to find a way out of here."

"I don't know how much of what the SIC techies told us is true, but they did say that this is a game."

"Uh-huh..." said Yugi, urging his other to continue.

"Then it's got to have an ending, right? Maybe if we play the game and clear all the levels..."

"It'll lead to a way out! That makes sense!" agreed Yugi. "With help from the rest of our friends, we're sure to find a way home!"

His other self crossed his arms sternly. "That seems to be our best bet for now."

Just then, Shimon returned, a timid young girl in tow. When her gaze landed on Yugi she squeaked slightly, as though his presence scared her. Well, not really "scared," but... honored her, to be in the same room with him. She had shortly cut black hair, matching eyes that darted around like a frightened mouse's, and wore robes not entirely different from Shimon's. A wide golden collar fit tightly against her neck, and Yugi wondered how she even managed to breathe.

"Lord Yugi, this is Fizdis. She is from the provincial capital, Tsughut, and is our third marshal of the resistance." He pushed lightly on her shoulder, and Fizdis lost her balance, having to take several steps forward to avoid falling flat on her face.

Yugi rose from his seat and extended a hand. "It's nice to meet you, Fizdis."

Fizdis stared at his palm in disbelief, then slowly stretched out hers and shook. Stammering, she spoke to Yugi in a quiet voice. "S-Sir... Lord Yugi... I may not be a very strong marshal... but I will do all that I can to help stop the Empire."

Yugi grinned in response. "Thank you for your help. We'll surely need it if the Empire is as powerful as Shimon says it is."

"Indeed," Shimon spoke up. "Now, back to our planning..." He spread the stack of parchments across the surface of a spindly table and motioned for Yugi and Fizdis to join him. Pointing to one of the papers, a close up map showing Vaxi Island, Shimon said to his fellows, "Please look carefully at the map of Rondeval. This is Makhad, where we are right now." He indicated with his finger a location on the western coast of the island. "And this is the target of our next battle." Shimon pointed again, to a city a few miles inland from the coast.

"We're going to liberate the rest of Vaxi Island. That is our overall plan. In order to do that, we've got to take control of Tsughut, the provincial capital to the East." Yugi studied the map, and found a dot labeled 'Tsughut' resting neatly on the opposite coastline.

"I see..." he said. "So we have to take command of and cross the whole island before we can get to Tsughut?"

"In a manner of speaking, yes," Shimon answered. "Tsughut is a large castle in the northern section of the province. It's well defended and houses a huge fighting force. We don't stand a chance if we attack head-on." He looked back down at the map. "First, we've got to get them to divide up their force. We should be able to lure some units away from the capital by liberating nearby lands." His finger trailed over the three other provinces that made up the island. "Places like Etos's Makhad, where we are now. We've already managed to thin out the defenses at Makhad. Let's attack in force and take our first victory!"

Yugi nodded. "Okay. What should I do?"

"You will direct your marshals on the field of battle and attack the enemy main base, Lord Yugi. I'm certainly not as strong as you, but I will also command a team of monsters and assist you. Just remember that none of your other marshals are nearly as powerful as you are." Shimon looked at him sternly. "We depend heavily on you. Your success on the battlefield is the key to the success of the resistance." He stood and dusted himself off. "There are many other details to plan. Let's start with organizing our units for the difficult battle ahead."

"Uh..." Yugi trailed off. "What do you mean by organizing?"

Shimon sighed. "As you may remember, I mentioned a little while ago that the enemy army has its own marshals. Only a marshal commanding his own monsters stands any chance against an enemy marshal. No matter how weak a marshal may be, he can command up to three monsters. We're fighting an enormous Empire," he said solemnly. "The number and power of its monster units are just as frighteningly enormous. We must organize our own monsters into units so that we can combat the enemy. Luckily for us, we have several monsters that are willing to fight for our cause."

He turned and walked towards a door leading to another room in the warehouse. Intrigued, Yugi followed, Fizdis scampering uncertainly behind him. Shimon opened the door to the room and stepped back, allowing Yugi to see its contents. Staring with wide eyes, Yugi was amazed to see a dozen or so monsters filling the large room. As soon as he entered, they had looked up from their reclining until battle. Dragons, Warriors, Beasts... We have quite a variety, Yugi noted to himself.

Shimon paced forward and spoke into Yugi's ear. "The first thing you need to do is organize the monsters into groups and then assign them to your marshals. Each group of monsters is called a 'Team.' Please try to remember that, Lord Yugi." He stepped further into the room. "Let's start assembling our team, shall we? After the teams are assembled, it's time to send them to battle. When you are ready, please let me know. Also," he added, "pay special attention to the center monster on each team. This monster is the 'team leader,' and the team's movement speed is determined by the speed of its leader."

The wall of information came fast, but Yugi retained each word and didn't miss a single detail. "I understand. I'll start assembling my teams."

Shimon nodded. "Yes, well... Lord Yugi, if I may be so bold... Would you mind if I picked out my own monsters? You see, I have my own preferences when it comes to monsters... Is that all right?"

"Sure, I don't see any problem with it."

"Thank you, Lord Yugi, thank you. Now, you'd best choose your own monsters well." With that, he strode through the monsters, beginning the search for his favorite ones. Yugi spun around and faced Fizdis, whom was behind him. "And you?" he asked. "Would you like to pick out your own monsters?"

Fizdis jumped at being addressed. "M-me sir? Uh, no sir. I really have no preference here... I'll take what you think best to give me..."

"All right. Wait here while I find monsters for you." Yugi paced the lengths of the room, examining each monster carefully. There were some he recognized easily, like Celtic Guardian and Kuriboh, but others were more of a challenge to identify. One thing, he noticed, that all the monsters held in common was that each one wore an amulet around its neck. The gem that made up the majority of the amulet varied in color from monster to monster, from green to red to even black. Upon looking down, Yugi realized that he, too, had one of these strange necklaces; his shone with a vibrant purple hue.

Whatever could these colors mean? thought Yugi. Just then, his eyes fell upon a group of three monsters hanging off to the side. Two-Headed King Rex, Megazowler, and Uraby... three dinosaur monsters. They stood closely together, obviously implying that if chosen to be on a team, the three went together or not at all. Yugi studied their amulets closely: each one bore the same color gem, a bright amber.

"I wonder..." Yugi muttered to himself. "Fizdis! Come here!" he called over his shoulder. Moments later, the trembling girl appeared by his side. Yugi grasped her own necklace and examined it thoroughly. A medium chocolate brown color, he noted. Not very far off from these monsters' color... hmm.

"Fizdis," he announced, startling the girl even more. "I think I may have found your monsters. How do you feel about commanding a pack of dinosaurs?" Judging by the look on her face, she felt afraid, very afraid. Sensing her doubt, Yugi clapped a hand on her shoulder. "Aw, don't worry. I'm sure you'll do very well with them."

He urged her forward a bit, closer to the dinosaurs she was to lead. The nearest one, Uraby, tensed up a bit and pulled back its lips, showing off serrated fangs. Fizdis tremulously raised a hand and advanced slowly on the defensive dinosaur. Inch by inch, she moved forward, until her hand rested easily on the lizard's forehead. She stroked it gently, what fear she held ebbing away. Uraby closed its ruby eyes lazily and basked in her warm touch. He pulled his massive head away and hissed to his two fellows, whom nodded fervently. The dinosaur then turned back to Fizdis and lowered its skull in a bow.

"There, see? They've agreed to be your team monsters," Yugi told her, wearing a warm smile. "You stay here and sort out which one you want to be the leader. I'll be off picking my own monsters." Fizdis nodded and continued interacting with the great beasts as Yugi traipsed off. His eye had just been caught by the flash of light on metal as Celtic Guardian polished his sword when Shimon came over to him.

"Ah, Lord Yugi. I just want to tell you that I've selected my monsters..." Shimon held up three amulets: one cerulean, one a deep gray, and one a vibrant yellow. "I have them right here. I take it you need more time to find your own monsters... I'll be waiting outside for you, then." He turned and left the room through the door they had entered earlier.

This left Yugi alone to search. He advanced on the busily cleaning Celtic Guardian, whom looked up as he neared. Without hesitation, the Elven warrior slipped his sword back into its hilt and stood from the crate he had been sitting on. Light reflected off the lime green gem embedded in Celtic Guardian's amulet, and in an instant it began to glow. The light flowed off of the jewel and covered the swordsman's whole, and just like that the glowing was swallowed up back inside the gem. Whatever had happened, the only thing now remaining of the Celtic Guardian was his amulet.

Picking up the necklace with uncertainty, Yugi stared at it quizzically. Was it like a storage system? Could all monsters be contained within their own gems? Deciding to ask Shimon about this concept later, Yugi continued off to find two more monsters. Nearby, a young girl rested uneasily with a golden staff in hand. "Magician of Faith," Yugi acknowledged, remembering the card that Téa had shown him as her favorite. She stared up at him, hope in her eyes. Téa would pick this monster if she were here... Yugi thought.

"All right. Magician of Faith, will you be on my team?" The small monster smiled gleefully, eyes sparkling. She returned her essence inside the necklace just as Celtic Guardian had done before. Yugi now had two monsters on his side. Only one more now. Which one should he pick? Shimon's words echoed around in the back of his mind:

"Pay special attention to the center monster on each team. This monster is the 'team leader' and the team's movement speed is determined by the speed of its leader."

So whichever monster I pick should be fast, Yugi decided, so that I can move more quickly on the battlefield. He cast a glance across the whole of the room. Most of the monsters here travel by foot, he noted. There are a few that travel by sea, and some that use flight. Obviously, those who use the sea will move slowly on land. Walking is the average pace... therefore, a flying monster would be the fastest moving type of creature. All I need now is a good monster that uses flight on my side.

Most of the flight-monsters were weak Insects or frail birds, and among them Yugi saw nothing that he liked. He was about to give up and settle for a land monster when something nestled in the roof structures caught his eye. A small dragon perched above him, hunched over and staring at Yugi. Although not as big as most dragons, this creature had the same look of great power that was common among its kind. Pink, feathered wings cascaded from each of its forearms, and a collection of razorblade-like objects arranged themselves into a tail. The dragon's piercing sapphire gaze seemed to be judging Yugi, analyzing his worth. Holding his ground under the weight of its eyes, Yugi stared back at the dragon just as hard. A moment passed as none of them made any moves.

Suddenly, without warning, the pink dragon swooped down and landed in front of Yugi. Bright blue eyes glared for a moment... and then the dragon bent forward gracefully in a full-fledged bow. Amazed with his luck at earning a such a powerful beast as his team leader, Yugi could only murmur the monster's name: "Seiyaryu..." The dragon nodded, acknowledging the address. Yugi grinned. "Thank you. I'm sure you'll help the resistance a lot." Seiyaryu's eyes glimmered in response.

"Ah, there you are, Lord Yugi. It's time to move out. Have you found your team monsters?" Shimon had rushed eagerly over. "Oh! You've been blessed by Seiyaryu! 'Tis a great thing, sir! Seiyaryu is the destroyer of darkness, and it is a good omen for our efforts against the Empire!" He looked absolutely thrilled with the resistance's luck. "Okay! Let's get ready to attack Jakhud, Etos's hideout! We'll be sure to take a victory there. Shall we go?"

Yugi gave one last glance to the shiny dragon. "Yes. Let's head out."

SC: Wow, that took a lo-o-ong time to research/write. By research I mean write down the entire script of the level. (massages hand) It took me TWO AND ONE HALF HOURS to play a thirty minute level because it took so long to write everything down! Ah well. This is the first half of the first chapter: once I write the second half I'll end up merging the two into one. I just want to see if anyone notices/cares about this first.

Sorry, I know Shimon is an annoying little cheesecake. But I have to have his dialogue in case readers who haven't played the game are confused.

Those of you who have played the game: What do you think of my interpretation of the color balls? I had to do SOMETHING with them... I hope it's original enough for y'all. Expect an update soon if not sooner.