A/N: Get ready for a face-lift, folks. Is anyone still out there after... Dear God, exactly eight years?

Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! and all related characters belong to Konami and are the creative property of Kazuki Takahashi. This is a work of fanfiction.


Ghost

Prologue

The press conference had gone remarkably well.

Seto Kaiba had never been one for public speaking. He preferred to run his company from behind four thirty-six inch screens at some ungodly hour of the night, fueled by the blackest of coffees and an obsessive drive.

It was a few months ago when his public affairs chief drove an excellent advertising campaign home to the board, convincing the young CEO that his company needed a face behind the gaming powerhouse that was KaibaCorp. The visionary employee's proposal would effectively make Kaiba the Steve Jobs of the gaming world.

Kaiba had opposed it initially, his intensely personal nature and broad dislike of people in general driving his dissent. After extensive convincing (pushed largely by his younger brother, Mokuba), he acquiesced. And why not? He was a young, eloquent, handsome celebrity and a member of the very demographic he was trying to reach. It was sheer marketing genius.

As a result, numbers were up everywhere for his company. Investors were buzzing with excitement, stocks were soaring, and social media trends were favoring the gaming giant. KaibaCorp was on everyone's mind, and Seto Kaiba was its reluctant face.

He was distracted by his phone as he breezed through the atrium on the ground floor of headquarters toward the exit. Outside the massive revolving glass doors, the Japanese summer waned with a heavy, oppressive heat. Kaiba had abandoned his trademark trench coat these past few weeks in favor of a business suit. He preferred to minimize perspiration when dealing with the corporate sharks here at the main building.

He truly hated it here, longing for his pixels and algorithms, or better yet the thrill of a challenging duel. It had been months since he had battled anyone, though, focusing more on the Company as it powered through this enormous transition. His ambition squashed his longing for simpler days.

The unexpected side-effect of his newfound recognition was the paparazzi sideshow. Company goons flanked him as he exited the building into the city center, intimidating away the ever-growing crowds of fans and photographers eager for a unique shot of the up-and-coming global superstar. Seto ignored them as he lightly descended the concrete steps and placed a call to Mokuba, prepared to ask the teenager what he wanted for dinner that night.

The bullet hit him on the second ring.

Seto didn't hear the screams around him, or the general mayhem that ensued after. He only felt off-balance, his center thrust backwards by an enormous unseen force. The explosive noise from the distant firearm was the last distinct sound Kaiba heard before his world went underwater. The cellphone fell to the cement below in slow motion, and he looked to his midsection with incomprehension as crimson blossomed around the hole in his white shirt.

Mokuba's tinny voice sounded faintly over the receiver from somewhere on the ground. Seto's world went black.


A/N: This is to be considered an alternate to the "Millennium Arc". None of that "Waking the Dragons" or other nonsense; the last time these kids did something huge was Battle City. Other than that, it's been smooth sailing into the wild ride that is young adulthood. Oh, goodness.

Romance will be a little while in coming, because, you know, plot. But when it does come be sure to hold on to your panties. Until then, buckle your seatbelts for some action/adventure.

Thanks for reading, and please review!