Author's Notes: This is set roughly after chapter eleven of Yu-Gi-Oh R and breaks continuity to little tiny pieces beyond that point. Please note that the "Yugi" in this fic is generally referring to the "other" Yugi, since he stays in charge throughout most of the manga series anyway. Don't get confused!
Yugi sighed a little sadly as he slipped the card from his Duel Disk, and Anzu's apparition faded with a final wave of farewell. Somehow, he would find a way to rescue her and restore her soul to its rightful place.
"I've wasted enough time here," he said. "Too much time, really. I need to find the rest of the Card Professors so I can get her back."
"I'll help you, if I can," said Getsukou said. "My brother told me something of his plans, but when he realized I wouldn't help him voluntarily..."
"I understand," said Yugi. "Well, you're welcome to come along with me. Until I can find where Jonouchi and Honda have gone, I can use some backup."
"Then I will follow you. Maybe together, the two of us can find some way to stop my brother before he goes too far."
Yugi nodded and set out again, heading for the door that would lead to the next sector and the next card master. He ran the key card through the slot on the door and moved cautiously forward, with the pale-haired man following warily behind him.
The next room was very dark, and Yugi felt a sudden thrill of anxiousness, suddenly certain that there was something awful waiting for him here. Somewhere in the darkness, he could hear muffled noises of someone moving around.
"Hello?" he called. "Is someone there?"
More shuffling. Something went click-click-click like a pair of high-heeled shoes across a hard floor. He gazed into the darkness, trying to pick out what it might be. Then Yugi found himself blinking because Getsukou had gotten tired of trying to guess what the noises were and had turned the lights on.
"Eek!" said someone. "I wasn't ready yet!"
Yugi sighed - half in relief, half in exasperation. Standing before him was a girl of perhaps thirteen or fourteen, dressed in the trendy shoes and the tee-shirt with an inane slogan printed on it that he had come to expect to see lately. Her eyes were purple, of course, and her hair was raven black with gold streaks and neon pink highlights. Looking at the combined colors for too long made him feel like he was about to get a headache, so he turned his attention instead to the Duel Disk that she was still clumsily trying to strap onto her wrist.
"What is that?" asked Getsukou in faint horror.
"It's just a Mary Sue," Yugi said. "Look, Mary Sue, I don't know how you got here, but-"
The girl pouted prettily. "My name isn't Mary Sue. Mary Sue is a boring name! My name is Amberina Krystal Symphony Daychild."
"Fine, fine. Look, I'm in the middle of something right now, so if you could just go away and come back when I'm not so busy..."
"No!" she said, as her eyes shifted from purple to red in her anger. "We are not going away! We're going to stay right here!"
"We?" Yugi repeated. "What do you mean... we?"
The girl struck a pose. "We of the United Fangirls Federation have hereby claimed the Yu-Gi-Oh! R manga as part of our territory! We reserve the right to pursue our chosen bishounen through whatever vaguely author-sanctioned portion of the fandom there may be!"
Yugi pressed his face into his hands. "Oh, hell."
"What?" asked Getsukou. "Is this person dangerous? What is she talking about?"
"Not dangerous. Just annoying, and I don't have time for it right now," said Yugi. "Well, Concertina or whatever your name is, I suppose you're the Card Professor I am to duel on this level?"
"She most certainly is not," said Getsukou. "I've seen the Card Professors, and this person is not one of them. I think I would have remembered if she was."
"Of course I'm not! I found that guy, and he was stupid looking, and he wore funny clothes. I tied him up and put him in a broom closet."
"Do you mind if I ask why?"
"I told you! We've claimed this building in the name of the United Fangirl Federation! You don't have to fight the Card Professors anymore!"
"Why not?" he asked warily.
"Because we're going to save you!"
"Young lady, I think you're a little confused," said Getsukou. "Yugi isn't the one who needs to be saved. He's the one doing the saving. You see, my brother Yakou has kidnapped Miss Anzu, and..."
He was cut off as the girl gave an earsplitting screech.
"What did I say?" asked Getsukou.
"Anzu," said Yugi tiredly. "They don't like her, for some reason."
"I see," Getsukou replied.
"You're wrong!" said the strange girl. "You're both wrong. You don't need to save Anzu! She's just a slut who's always talking about friendship! You ought to come with us instead! We'll treat you the way you ought to be treated!"
Yugi shook his head. "In case you haven't noticed, I like talking about friendship. We all do. Even Kaiba talks about it sometimes, in terms of being against it. It's just what we do in our spare time, when we're not playing cards. If you didn't like it, go find some other fandom, and leave me alone."
"But... we love you! We have to go wherever our bishounen are!" the girl insisted.
"I'm not up to this right now," said Getsukou. "Look, I've just gotten over being possessed by my insane twin brother, and I've got a terrible headache. Could we please try to talk sense?"
"Ooh!" she said, noticing him for the first time. "Hey, you're pretty! I haven't seen you before!"
"This has gone far enough, I think," said a commanding voice. The girl fell down in a heap as a man stepped up behind her and delivered a swift karate-chop to the back of her neck. The man looked down at his hand and made a face.
"Hair dye," he muttered, and began wiping it off on a handkerchief.
"Mr. Crocketts?" Getsukou exclaimed.
"Don't worry about a thing, Mr. Tenma," Crocketts replied. "I'll take care of this. I have a knack for dealing with these creatures."
"How did you do that?" asked Yugi in genuine awe. "I've never been able to shut one of those up!"
"Oh, they can't even see me," said Crocketts casually. "It comes with not being a bishounen."
"Thank goodness for that," said Yugi. "We'll stick close to you, then."
Crocketts gave him a dark look. "I never said I'd protect you... but if the two of you plan to work together, then I suppose I'll have to. Mind you, I'm only doing this because the Mary Sues are a danger to Mr. Tenma."
"A temporary alliance, then?" Yugi replied. "So be it. Let's go... and let's be careful. There's no telling where more of them might be hiding."
"I'm beginning to wish I was back under Yakou's mind-control," Getsukou muttered.
The jet touched down gently on the roof of the Kaiba Corp. building. Kaiba climbed out of the cockpit and scanned the area. No sign of trouble up here. He beckoned for his brother to step down as well.
"Follow me and stay close," he said. "We're going to get to the bottom of this incident."
Mokuba nodded silently. He was used to the drill, by now. All it would take was him getting kidnapped by somebody, and he could call it a full day. Perhaps not a good day, but at least he'd have all the bases covered.
"Who do you think is trying to take over our company this time?" he asked.
"I'm not sure," Kaiba muttered. "Whoever it is, they'll be sorry for it. I'm getting really tired of this."
Suddenly, he whirled in place, searching for the source of the sound he'd just heard. His sharp eyes picked out a female figure darting for the shadows.
"Don't think I didn't see you," he said. "I don't advise you to come out in the open. I advise you to go far, far away if you know what's good for you."
He waited a moment to see what kind of reaction his threat got. Then he cringed.
"Kaiba-samaaaaaa!" squealed a voice in the shadows.
"Oh, no," he muttered. "It's one of them."
A girl stepped into the moonlight. She had, as he'd noticed before, a superbly feminine figure, accented by the usual tight-fitting clothes. She had on high boots and a sweeping trench coat that flared out around her. Her hair was cut in much the same style as his own, only much longer, and it gleamed faintly in the moonlight. He smirked a little.
Oh, so that's what the game is, he thought. A copycat. And an idiot. Two for the price of one.
"And just who do you think you are?" he asked.
"My name is Kitsune Shinkai, master duelist!" she replied. "I've come to defeat you in battle, and make you fall desperately in love with my awesome skills!"
"Is that a fact?" he said blandly. "Well, let's get this over with. I'll go first. Draw!"
He whisked out a handful of cards and studied them a moment, then summoned one to the field. "I play Masked Dragon in attack mode, and set this card face-down. Turn end."
"Fine! I play the magic card Mystical Destructive Force! It deducts two thousand life points for every card you have on the field. I win!"
She placed the card triumphantly on her Duel Disk. Nothing happened. Kaiba shook his head.
"Stupid," he said. "Made-up cards won't work on my Duel Disk. You can only use official cards registered in the Kaiba Corp. servers. Making up your own superpowerful cards is a waste of time - and also a waste of your turn. Now I activate the magic card Cost Down, and sacrifice my Masked Dragon to summon the Blue Eyes White Dragon! Then I equip the Blue-Eyes White Dragon with the spell card Dragon Treasure to bring its attack to 3300 points! Finally, I play the magic card Ookazi, which does 800 points of direct damage to your life points! You lose."
The girl keened in horror as her life points were reduced to nothing.
"You - you're mean!" she wailed.
Kaiba stared at her a long, long time.
"Ordinarily, I wouldn't ever even think of saying this," he said at last, "but I think that these are extenuating circumstances."
She sniffled at him, blinking tears from her cerulean orbs. "What are you going to say?"
"Duh," he replied, and walked away.
In the basement of Kaiba Corporation, a lone girl sat. She had long, raven tresses streaked with purple, and her dark, mysterious eyes were lined with an abundance of black eyeliner. Her full, soft lips were likewise tinted with darkest purple, nearly black lipstick. Her skin was naturally fair and smooth, white as porcelain, contrasting sharply with her black hair and clothing. She was simply sitting and waiting.
Winter Nightfox wasn't like the other girls in the United Fangirl Federation. She wasn't like anyone, of course, because she was alone and unloved by everyone, but she had a specific reason why she wasn't quite like them. They mainly hunted big-name bishounen like Kaiba or Yugi. She was interested in a more secondary character, and so she had slipped away to this secluded place to await his coming. She had been waiting a long time to meet her beloved Jonouchi Katsuya, but she was sure that as soon as he saw her in all her stark gothic majesty, he would be instantly smitten with her, and together they would comfort each other's angst-ridden past and build a glorious future together. She was looking forward to it.
Even now, she heard footsteps - a set of two. Since the Card Professors traveled alone, it had to mean the approach of Honda and Jonouchi. Her heartbeat quickened as she heard his voice.
"... telling you, we have to go this way," Jonouchi was saying. "That way is going to lead us back where we came from, and we already know we can't get out that way."
He walked around the corner. His gaze fell on her. He stopped and stared, struck speechless by the sight of her. She waited anxiously to hear what his first words to her would be.
"Yaaaaaagh! Zombie!" he shrieked, and ran off screaming in the other direction.
Yakou Tenma drummed his fingers against the tabletop, frowning slightly. He had the feeling that ever since he had claimed the Devil's Avatar card, his senses had been heightened, particularly those that were attuned to mystic forces. Just now, that spiritual sense was tingling slightly. Could it be from the energies that had been released just now, in the duel between Yugi Mutou and Getsukou? No, he had been there the whole time, mentally if not physically, and he hadn't felt anything like this. Something else was afoot, something unpleasant.
"I sense a strange presence," he murmured.
"Humph. You're paranoid," said a gruff voice behind him. "There's no one here but you and me."
"I know that, you oaf," Yakou muttered. "I didn't mean here. Someone is in the building who shouldn't be here."
A snort of contempt. "No one could have gotten in. This place is rigged with every kind of security known to man."
"I got in. Who is to say that someone else did not, as well? I say there is someone here," said Yakou firmly. "And if all you can do is stand around and contradict me, perhaps you'd be more interested in doing a search of the area? That is, if you can see past those ridiculous sunglasses of yours. Why are you wearing sunglasses indoors, anyway?"
His companion muttered something under his breath.
"What was that, Keith?"
"I said, you're the one who's wearing a pink coat. Who are you to talk about my fashion tastes?"
"That's it, I've heard enough. Get out of here right now and see what the cause of the disturbance is - and don't come back until you have something to report!"
Bandit Keith muttered foul things under his breath as he shuffled out the door.
"Never should have gotten involved with him," he complained.
Well, on the bright side, he had a job to do that didn't involve hovering at Tenma's elbow all day. Besides, he might come across Yugi and his friend Jonouchi while he was wandering around, and he figured they were fair game if he came across them. If he could take them down, Tenma would have to treat him with a little more respect! Giving Jonouchi a pummeling would feel pretty good, too. He owed him one for that Duelist Kingdom thing. Keith wondered where Jonouchi would be now. Last he'd heard, the boy had been dropped down into the basement levels. That would be a good place to start. He could take the stairs and make a show of checking each level, just in case Tenma was watching him, and make his way to the bottom floor.
That was the plan, anyway. He made a cursory examination of the first few floors and found nothing unusual, but as he looked around the fifth level, he became aware of a noise. There was someone here, and he was willing to bet it wasn't one of his fellow Card Professors. It sounded like more than one person - probably at least four or five of them, and maybe more. They were rustling and whispering together, as if all of them were trying to hide in a small space.
"Who's there?" he barked. "I'm warning you...!"
There was a shriek and a giggle. Suddenly, a number of girls rushed into view. All of them were attractive in some way or another, and most of them were rather scantily dressed. Keith relaxed a little and leered at them.
"Hey, what are you ladies doing here all alone, huh?" he said. He couldn't imagine what they were doing here - mostly because his imagination was busy working out the kind of things they could be doing here, and what he could be doing with them. After all, the exits were supposed to be sealed, with him standing in front of the only passage to the stairs, and they didn't look like they had anyone to protect them. "You interested in cards? Wanna play a round with me? Heh heh heh heh..."
The girls looked at him dubiously.
"Ew," said one. "Who is he again?"
"I dunno," said another. "Some guy from the first season. What was his name - Bandit Kevin? Kyle? Something like that?"
A girl with startling silver hair wrinkled her nose. "He's not very cute, is he? He's got facial hair."
"You're right! He isn't bishounen at all!" said the girl with cat ears. Cat ears? That had to be his imagination, but he'd never really gotten into that particular fetish, so he had no idea why he'd be imagining that now. Too much time in Japan?
"We aren't going to stand for this!" said a girl with floor-length red hair. "As members of the United Fangirl Federation, we can't stand by and let ugly guys in this series!"
"Hey, who are you calling ugly?" he snarled. "You're gonna pay for that, you little...!"
"Let's get him!"
Instantly, Bandit Keith found himself mobbed by screaming fangirls. It wasn't the kind of enjoyable experience he had been hoping for.
A few minutes later, the girls left the room with an air of righteous satisfaction. Bandit Keith, however, was never seen again.
Honda was trying to get information.
"Look, do you know where the stairs are?" he said. "You know, stairs? Stairs!" He made stair-climbing motions with his fingers. The two girls looked at him helplessly. Desperately, he looked to Jonouchi. "Do you have any idea how to say 'stairs' in English?"
"Don't ask me!" said Jonouchi, holding up his hands in protest. "Do you know what my grades in English are? I'm having a hard enough time passing the classes in Japanese!"
Honda rolled his eyes. One of the girls jabbered something at him.
"For the umpteenth time, I don't speak English, okay? I don't know why you girls keep showing up here when you can't speak a word of the language."
One of the girls jabbered at him some more, looking hopeful.
"What did she say?" Jonouchi asked.
"I'm not sure," she said. "Something about darkness, I think. Maybe she wants us to turn on the light?"
"No, no! Yami!" said the girl. "Ya-mi."
"I don't get it," Jonouchi said. "Seems like half the Mary Sues we meet are always complaining that it's dark, or something. Maybe they have really bad eyesight, where they come from?"
"Well, their eyes come in some pretty weird colors," Honda agreed. "I wouldn't be able to see, either, if my eyes were pink."
"Aw, but you'd look cute with pink eyes!" Jonouchi teased.
"Kawaii?" said one of the girls, looking suddenly hopeful. "Kawaii! Kawaii Yugi!"
"Well, at least she knows that word," said Honda resignedly. "Are you two sure you don't know the way out of here? We want to go up! UP!" He pointed at the ceiling.
The girls squealed and scampered away, chattering to each other about darkness and Yugi. Whatever that meant.
"What does that mean?" Jonouchi asked.
"I have no idea," Honda replied. "Maybe they want Yugi to turn on the lights for them?"
"That's dumb," said Jonouchi. "Half the time, Yugi can't even reach high enough to get to the light switches."
"Oh, well. It's not like we could have explained that to them," Honda replied. "I wish they'd learn to speak the language before they try to move in."
Jonouchi shrugged. "Maybe if we follow them, they'll lead us out? They looked pretty determined to get to Yugi."
They thought about that a moment.
"Follow them," they decided at once, and scampered off after the girls.
"Couldn't you have handled that a little more gently?" asked Getsukou, looking at the sobbing girl before them.
"No," said Yugi. "Trust me. If you're nice to them, it just makes it worse in the end. They latch on to you and never let go. They deserve no mercy. Just wait a minute. You'll see."
The girl in front of them continued kneeling on the floor, looking in despair at her scattered cards. They had proven useless in her duel against Yugi. She seemed to be having trouble dealing with that fact, and turned her tear-stained face towards him, brushing strands of her silvery hair out of her deep blue eyes.
"How could I lose?" she wailed. "I was supposed to be good at this game! It's in my blood!"
"You don't say," said Yugi mildly.
"Yes! My father was a great duelist! One of the best on earth! I should be able to win!"
"Just because your father was great, doesn't mean you are too," Yugi replied. "Look at Mokuba. His brother is one of the best duelists I've ever met, but Mokuba barely knows the rules!"
"But - but I'm different!" she said. "He wasn't just any duelist. He created the game!"
There was a pause. Getsukou said, "What?"
"That's ridiculous," said Yugi. "You can't be Pegasus's daughter!"
"It's true!" she insisted. "I'm the daughter of Pegasus and Cyndia! I inherited all of his rarest cards, and I came here to duel you to redeem his honor!"
"In this continuity? You must be joking," said Yugi. "There are enough superfluous relatives in this story as there is. As I said before, just being related to Pegasus or any duelist does not automatically make you a great duelist yourself. Anyway, without his Eye and his rare cards to back him up, he wasn't but so great a duelist in the first place. And as for you being his daughter... well, considering his age, if you really are his daughter, then you must be no more than nine years old, despite what you appear to be."
The girl boggled. "What? But he..."
She didn't get any further. While she and Yugi had been talking, Getsuko's pale face had been growing redder and redder, and now he had finally exploded.
"How dare you!" he shouted. "How dare you make such claims! My brother was an honorable man! He would never have dishonored Cyndia-sama by fathering a child on her out of wedlock - and she never would have permitted such a thing. How dare you slander my family in such a way?"
The girl began backing away, as she took in the murderous glances being leveled at her by Getsukou and Crocketts, neither of whom seemed to be taking at all kindly to her claims. Yugi sighed.
"Would it make anyone feel better if I Mind Crushed her?"
"Do it," said Getsukou. "You were right - these things deserve no mercy!"
"Fine," said Yugi. He turned back to the silver-haired girl. "Hold still. I haven't done this in a long time, and I'm a little rusty."
Her eyes widened. "What? No! You can't-"
There was a blurry moment, and then the girl was no longer protesting, but staring blankly off at nothing.
"That will keep her quiet a while," said Yugi. He began walking briskly away. "Come on. We've wasted enough time here."
"How long is she going to stay there like that?" asked Getsukou, as he moved to catch up.
"As long as it takes for her to pull her brain together and start thinking sensibly," Yugi replied.
"She's going to be there a long time."
"She'll stay that way longer than Kaiba did, that's for sure."
Crocketts trailed along after the other two, pausing only once to glance back at the girl.
"Redeeming Pegasus's honor, hmm?" he murmured. He looked from Yugi to her, and back again. "The irony of it all..."
In another part of the city, Ryou Bakura was doing his homework and eating a bag of chocolate-covered marshmallows, which was more or less what he usually did this time of night. Even his darker half had been convinced that homework was something he ought to do if he wanted to keep his life peaceful and untroubled by interfering adults. The chocolate-covered marshmallows were more disagreeable to the Spirit than the homework was, but he accepted them as something he had to put up with to keep his host peaceful and tractable.
At least, that was how it worked most of the time. Tonight, Ryou was having difficulty concentrating. The presence in his mind, which was usually either too distant to notice or too overwhelming to fight, was fidgeting. It was like being able to almost but not quite hear a sound, or knowing someone was staring at him without being able to see where they were. It made it very hard to concentrate.
"What are you doing?" he asked at last.
There is something out there. I'm trying to figure out what it is.
"Could you do it a bit more unobtrusively? I'm trying to think."
No. I can't find it without taking control for a while. Move over.
Ryou twitched a little, and then he wasn't there at all. The Spirit of the Ring stood up and spat out a half-chewed marshmallow.
"Disgusting things," he muttered. "I don't know how he can stand that stuff."
He reached for his Ring and held it out in front of him, and it glowed faintly at its touch. The five dangling pointers began to stir slightly, detecting eddies in the currents of power that always seemed to surround this city. They seemed stronger this evening. He had been right, as always - there was something powerful moving around tonight. He bent his will towards seeking out the source of the disturbance. It was out there, looming over him, just waiting to be discovered...
Suddenly, the Ring began to glow bright pink. Bakura scowled.
"Damn it," he muttered. "The Mary Sues are here."
Yugi picked up the key card from where it had fallen, and cast another glance at the still girl he had been dueling. He had picked off several of them by this point, and was beginning to get a bit bored with it. None of them had any real strategy, and tended to try to win solely by having strange and exotic cards - and when that didn't work, by trying to make him pity them for their tragic pasts, or just by putting the moves on him.
"Stop it," he said to her. "I've already seen Anzu, Mai, Miho, and Isis, and you aren't prettier than any of them. You're going to have to do more than that to get my attention."
"...Who is Miho?"
"Someone you'd know if you'd done your research."
"She's not that bright, is she?" Getsukou commented, as they left the puzzled girl behind.
"No. They usually aren't as clever as they think they are," Crocketts replied. "It's easy enough to get around them if you know what you're doing."
"But there are so many of them, and we don't have time to go through all of them," said Yugi. "Even now, your brother could be proceeding with his plans - we may already be too late!"
A shadow crossed over Getsukou's face. "I'm sorry, Yugi. I truly did try to stop him, but... he was too strong for me. I believe whatever force he used to control me has taken some kind of hold on him as well. He wasn't always this way."
"It's not your fault," Yugi assured him. "You're as much a victim here as the rest of us."
"Humph," said Crocketts.
"And what is that supposed to mean?" Yugi asked.
"You're one to talk," he said.
"I'm not following."
"I'm saying that the one at fault here is the one who started all this by killing Pegasus."
Yugi stopped walking suddenly. "He's dead?"
"You didn't know?" asked Getsukou, surprised.
"Of course I didn't know! Nobody told me! I only heard that he'd gone away - disappeared. No one ever hinted to me that he might not still be alive..."
"You mean... you aren't the one who killed him?" asked Getsukou.
"You must be joking! I haven't killed anyone!" A prod from his other self prompted him to add, "Lately. But definitely not Pegasus. He returned the souls of Grandpa and the Kaiba brothers, and that was all I wanted from him."
"Then if you didn't, who did?" Crocketts asked.
"I don't know," said Yugi, "but I could hazard a guess... He wouldn't mind letting me take the blame for it, I'm sure."
"But... if you didn't kill him..." said Getsukou, slowly trying to work through this new idea, "then that means that Yakou has set up this elaborate trap for the wrong person. This is worse than I thought."
Yugi sighed. "Odds of convincing him of that?"
"Probably not good, at this point," Crocketts said.
"Then we'll just have to continue as we have been," said Yugi firmly.
Unfortunately, it didn't look like that plan was going to work out. Even as he spoke, he became aware of a babble of voices... female voices. He froze, listening to them, and his companions stopped walking as well.
"More?" Getsukou exclaimed. "How many of these people are there going to be?"
Yugi sighed. "Once they start moving in, their numbers appear to be limitless."
"I'll check," said Crocketts.
He walked up the hall and had a look around the corner, and then returned.
"There is a group of about six coming this way," he said.
"We'll have to backtrack," said Yugi, wincing.
"Can't you take them? You've been doing it all evening," said Getsukou.
"Yes, but I'm running out of energy. I need to save something for when we find your brother."
"We'll just have to double back and look for another route," Getsukou replied. "Or at least find somewhere to hide."
"I'm not sure there is such a place," Yugi replied, but he reversed direction anyway.
However, they hadn't gone far when they heard the sound of footfalls coming from the other direction. These were somewhat less worrisome, as they were the authoritative steps of a grown man, and not the scampering patter made by approaching teenaged girls. Still, just because it wasn't a Mary Sue didn't mean it wasn't dangerous. Once again, Crocketts was dispatched to scout ahead. He returned in a hurry, looking mildly perturbed.
"It's your brother," he informed Getsukou.
"Oh, no. This is going to get complicated," he said.
"You don't know the half of it," Yugi replied. "I can't fight him now! Do you have any idea what could happen if those girls get involved in this?"
"You don't think they'd do anything to interfere, do you?" Getsukou asked.
Yugi sighed. "He's a psychotic bishounen who wants to destroy Anzu. What do you think?"
There was a pause.
"This is going to get ugly," Crocketts opined.
"Maybe," said Yugi, "and maybe not. I just got an idea. You two hide in there," he said, indicating a nearby door.
"You know there's nowhere we can hide where they won't find us," said Crocketts, doubtfully ushering Getsukou through the door.
"You won't need to hide for long," Yugi replied. "Just long enough for me to cause a distraction. Now, go!"
He turned and scampered up the hall. The other two, hearing the sound of approaching Mary Sues, took the course of wisdom and ducked out of sight.
Yugi jogged up ahead until he'd found Yakou Tenma.
"There you are!" Yakou exclaimed. "Are you the cause of all this commotion? All of my servants have disappeared, my security systems have gone haywire, and I want to know what's going on. It is your doing, isn't it?"
"No," said Yugi. "Before this is over, you may wish I'm all you have to deal with. Listen, Tenma - I'm going to say this for your own good. Call off this nonsense now and return Anzu to us, or you're going to be very sorry you ever set this plot in motion."
"Ha! Do you think I'm afraid of you? Or is it that treacherous brother of mine who's going to make me sorry?"
"Neither," Yugi replied. "Forces beyond our control have been unleashed, an evil you can scarcely comprehend."
"Oh, really? More powerful than my Devil's Avatar?"
"More powerful than anything you can imagine!"
"And what would that be?"
Yugi paused a moment, listening. He smiled.
"This," he said.
At that moment, the gaggle of girls rounded the corner. For a moment, they all paused, awestruck at the sight of their hero in all his black-leather-clad glory. Then they caught sight of his companion. Yugi decided to help them a little.
"Look!" he exclaimed. "It's a mysterious angst-ridden bishounen! Maybe if you catch him, you can rehabilitate him through the power of true love!"
There was a sound of half a dozen young women going "Squee!" which was more or less what was happening. They rushed forward like stampeding cattle, and Yugi stepped serenely aside and let them pass him by in favor of this tall, handsome stranger. Yakou attempted to back away as he found himself surrounded by hysterical girls pawing at his person.
"What - what is going on?" he gasped.
"They're fangirling you. It's how they show affection," said Yugi.
"Well, I don't want it! Make them go away!"
"I can't. They can be manipulated, but never controlled. I did try to warn you - they're too powerful for the likes of you or me. You'll never get rid of them now."
"Argh! There are truly no depths to which you will not sink!"
"Better you than me! Call this nonsense off now, and I'll tell you who knows how to get rid of them."
"Never!" Yakou finally managed to push free of the mob. "You may have stopped me for the moment, but I'll get you later! The plan will continue!" He fled down the hall, pursued closely by his new fans. Yugi sighed.
"There's something about the presence of Mary Sues that makes everyone talk in stock dialogue," he muttered. "They must have some effect on your brain."
He wandered back to let Getsukou and Crocketts out of the office they had taken refuge, thinking vaguely to himself that it was a good thing they had found a comfortably large room to hide in instead of a closet. Given the strange effects that the average fangirl could have on a person's hormones, there was no telling what could have happened. He wandered in to find Crocketts guarding the door and Getsukou staring moodily out a window.
"They're gone for now," Yugi said. He briefly described what had transpired.
"That was cruel," Getsukou protested.
"Would you rather it be us?" Yugi replied.
"Come to think of it, no."
"Then let him deal with the problem," Yugi replied. "It will keep him busy until we figure out what to do next. I'm not sure how I'll be able to fight him if these Mary Sues are going to keep interfering."
He felt a momentary wave of worry. Facing an enemy with these tentative allies was totally different from facing an enemy alongside his best friends. He hoped they were faring better than he was.
The girl was holding a briefcase. She was also giving Seto a look he did not like. He carefully positioned himself between her and Mokuba.
"So explain this one more time," he said. "Exactly how did you get in here?"
"I'm the technical expert for the United Fangirl Federation," she explained. "Of course, it was simple for me to hack my way past the security systems."
"Is that a fact," he said.
"Of course. I've been an expert with computers since I was five years old," she said. "I'm the CEO of a major video game firm that takes in several billion dollars a year."
"Good for you. Come on, Mokuba. I'm sure Miss CEO here has better things to do than talk to us." He began guiding his brother away, but predictably, the girl chased after them.
"Wait!" she exclaimed. "I can help you!"
"How?" he demanded.
"By - by hacking through the security things for you. You'll need my help!"
He gave her a scathing look. "For what?"
"For getting past security!"
"In case you didn't realize it, I designed all the security systems in this building myself. That makes me ideally placed to hack through them if I need to. If I need any help, Mokuba can do it. He knows how."
The girl looked faintly dazed. "But - but you're supposed to be impressed by my credentials!"
"Oh really?" said Seto coolly. "All right. What language do you program in?"
Mokuba rolled his eyes. "He meant computer language, genius."
"Oh!" she said, eyes lighting up. "Windows!"
"That's it. That's all I need to hear," said Kaiba. "Come on, Mokuba, let's get out of here."
"You said it," Mokuba agreed, trotting eagerly away from the girl.
"Wait! You can't leave me!" she wailed. "Don't you know who I am?"
"A pain," said Seto.
"I'm your sister!" she declared. "Sakura Kaiba, your long lost little sister!"
He stopped and fixed her with a look. "Do you mind explaining that to me?"
"You were too young to remember me, but when our parents died, we were sent to different orphanages. I was adopted by an American, but now I've come back to live as family with you and unite our companies, and incidentally fall in love with Yugi."
"And you say your name is Sakura Kaiba."
"And you're the daughter of my biological parents."
"Well, that's strange, because Kaiba is my adoptive name. So if you really are a Kaiba, you couldn't possibly be related to me. In fact, it would make you related to the man who made my childhood a misery before he had the good sense to kill himself. And I was ten years old when my parents died, and I remember them both quite well. I certainly don't remember anyone like you. Sorry, but you're going to have to take your fantasies somewhere else."
And with that, he walked over to a door, typed in a complicated code, and led his younger brother through the suddenly open portal. The door slammed shut behind him, leaving the distraught girl trying vainly to figure out how he did that.
They had finally found the stairs. Now Jonouchi and Honda were making their way swiftly and steadily upwards, making steady progress to the top floor. With any luck, they would find Yugi waiting for them, and maybe even Anzu, too, if all went well. They didn't put it past Yugi to have this whole thing wrapped up before the day was over. Knowing him and his penchant for theatrics, they could almost expect something exciting to happen.
What they did not expect was to walk right into Seto and Mokuba Kaiba.
"What are you clowns doing here?" Seto demanded.
"I could ask you the same thing!" Jonouchi said.
Seto gave him his most withering look. "It's my building."
"Oh, come on! You know what I meant, so don't pull all this stuff like you think you're smarter than me!" said Jonouchi.
"I don't have to pull anything to look smarter than you," Seto retorted. "Now, I'm going to say this slowly in small words so you can understand: What is going on?"
Jonouchi opened his mouth to tell Seto exactly what was going on, but he was interrupted by a giggle.
"Ooh, look, they're fighting!" said a feminine voice.
"They really are hot together!"
The boys looked around to see a cluster of girls standing a short way off. They were rather relieved to see that these girls were fairly ordinary-looking, especially compared to what they had been seeing earlier.
"Who are you?" Honda asked. "You aren't more Mary Sues, are you?"
"Of course not!" said one girl indignantly. "We're too mature for that! We totally outgrew that phase."
"No, there's no way we'd try to hook up with you," another girl said.
"Whew," said Jonouchi.
"We want you to hook up with each other."
"WHAT?" Kaiba yelped.
"Oh, come on!" said the first girl. "It would be fun! Just look at all the chemistry you have!"
"What are you talking about?" Jonouchi said. "We can't stand each other! We insult each other every time we meet!"
"I know! It's so hot!" one of the girls gushed. "All that suppressed sexual tension..."
"Come on, Kaiba!" said another. "You're supposed to rescue Jonouchi from the badguy! Take him back to your mansion and comfort him so you can fall in love!"
"And then have sex," a third girl said, nodding. "The sooner the better."
"I really don't think you have a clue what's going on here," said Kaiba. "I'm trying to save my company from a deranged lunatic. I don't have time to be worrying about my social life."
"You tell 'em," said Jonouchi. He began edging away from Kaiba, just in case.
"That's not fair!" one of the girls wailed. "We don't care about the plot! We just want to see the hot yoai stuff!"
The boys blinked at each other.
"Hey, Kaiba, you know languages," said Honda. "What does 'yoai' mean?"
"I don't know, and I don't think I want to know," Kaiba replied.
"Maybe it has something to do with yo-yos?" Jonouchi suggested. "I'm good with yo- yos."
"Come on! You know you want to!" one of the girls urged. "Go to it already!"
Kaiba looked at Jonouchi. Jonouchi looked at Kaiba.
"Do you want to?" Jonouchi asked.
"Let's go to it," Kaiba replied. "Care to join us, Honda?"
"Love to," he said.
"Oh, boy! Threesome!" one of the girls cheered.
The boys went to it. They dove as one toward the cluster of girls and pounded them all senseless.
"Wow," said Jonouchi, watching Kaiba kick the last of the motionless bodies down a stairwell. "I didn't know you could do that."
"My father made me study everything he considered worthwhile," Kaiba replied, "including self-defense. It's been useful a time or two."
"And here I thought you were just a soft rich kid," said Jonouchi. He gave Seto a teasing look. "Maybe you ain't half bad, after all!"
"Don't look at me like that!"
"No, I mean it!" Jonouchi exchanged a subtle wink with Honda, who was trying not to laugh. "I'm very impressed! Maybe those girls had the right idea..."
"What are you doing tonight after the corporate takeover?"
"I'm not listening! I'm not listening!"
"Oh, come on! Whaddaya say we let bygones be bygones, huh?"
Trying his hardest to keep a straight face, Jonouchi chased Seto up the hallway, while Honda and Mokuba followed, howling with laughter, behind them.
Yugi's blood was racing, just as it always did when he sensed an approaching duel. According to Getsukou, this building had only one more floor go to through before he reached his final goal: the room on the top floor where Anzu was being held captive. There he would have his battle with Yakou Tenma, and the results would decide her fate. All he had to do was climb up one more flight of stairs...
Actually, he would have to get past the row of girls, first.
He stopped running, momentarily blinded by their brilliance. These were obviously the most deadly fangirls he had yet to face. Each one was beautiful and graceful, impeccably dressed, with flowing tresses and the usual lambent eyes. What made him stop and stare was that each one was holding a shiny gold object in her hands.
"And just who are you supposed to be?" he asked. "And what are those, and why are you holding them like I'm supposed to be impressed by them? Malik is the one who likes shiny gold things."
"We're not letting you go any further!" said the girl in front. "You're not telling this story like we want you to, and we're not going to take it anymore!"
"What do you mean? I'm the hero! I'm supposed to defeat the villain and rescue the girl. That's how it generally works. What is the problem!"
"For starters," said the girl with fairy wings and silver eyes, "you've barely angsted at all."
"You haven't fallen in love with anyone," added a girl with cat's eyes.
"There wasn't even any slash!" said a girl with green hair, pouting.
"So we're going to put a stop to it," said the leader. "If you don't make it to the last floor, you won't be able to finish the story, and we won't let you up there until you start doing things our way!"
"And you intend to stop me... how?"
"With our Millennium Items!" the girl declared. "I, Elementia Crystal Gaea, am the holder of the Eighth Millennium Item, the Millennium Crown!"
"And I have the Ninth Millennium Item, the Millennium Brooch!"
"I have the Tenth Millennium Item, the Millennium Bracelet!"
"I've got the Eleventh Millennium Item, the Millennium Earrings!"
"You don't say," said Yugi. "All right, then, Harmonica or whatever your name is, if these are Millennium Items... where did they come from?"
The girls looked slightly baffled.
"Wherever the other ones came from, I guess," said Elementia Crystal Gaea. "Egypt or something."
At about that moment, there was a bloodcurdling scream. Bakura burst in through a window and flung himself at the cluster of surprised girls. Yugi turned his head away just in time to avoid seeing what happened to them. There were a few nasty-sounding noises, and then silence. A few moments later, Getsukou and Crocketts came running up the stairs.
"What happened?" asked Getsukou. "I heard this awful noise, and..." He caught sight of what was going on behind Yugi, and stopped. "What on earth?"
Yugi sighed. "Every time someone creates another Millennium Item, Bakura destroys a soul."
"They deserve it," said Bakura. He began picking up the four Items and methodically breaking them to bits. "Cheap fakes. They don't even hold up. You'd think that if they were going to commit such crimes, they'd have the decency to do it right..."
"There's blood in your hair," said Yugi.
"I like it there."
"Your host will be annoyed."
"He can take a shower."
"And you seem to have ruined Kaiba's rug."
"He can afford a new one."
"Who is this person?" asked Crocketts, eyeing him warily.
"He goes by Bakura," Yugi replied. "He likes to do unpleasant things to people with Millennium Items... don't you, Bakura?"
"They deserve it," said Bakura. "Speaking of which..."
"Speaking of which, these nice people would like to know what became of Pegasus," said Yugi. "You wouldn't happen to know, would you?"
Bakura looked at Getsukou and Crocketts, both of whom were giving him looks that just dared him to say yes. He looked back at Yugi.
"What, are you so afraid of me that you had to bring in reinforcements?" he said. "Well, I'm not going to play this game. I'll deal with you on my time - when your friends aren't with you to back you up. Until then..."
He sprang out the window again and vanished into the night. Crocketts attempted to chase him, but Yugi held him back.
"Stop," he said. "You're no match for him. I'm barely a match for him, myself, when he's like this. He'd gladly do the same to you as he did to those Sues."
Crocketts glanced at the mess and seemed to think the better of following Bakura.
"Is he the one who killed my brother?" asked Getsukou.
"It seems so," said Yugi. "I certainly wouldn't put it past him, and you didn't see him rushing to deny it."
"So you really are innocent," Crocketts muttered. "Forgive me for my false accusations."
Yugi waved a hand. "That's not important. The one we need to convince now is Yakou Tenma."
"I'm not even sure even that would stop him now," said Getsukou. "He's determined to have Pegasus back, at any cost. You may have to fight him no matter what."
"Then that's what I'll do," he declared.
He began heading for the elevator that would take him up to the top level, but stopped as he heard approaching voices - male voices. He wondered briefly if some of the Card Professors had managed to escape their captors and had come for vengeance, but then relaxed as he recognized the voices of his friends.
"Jonouchi! Honda! I'm over here!" he called.
His friends came rushing up the hallway, looking profoundly relieved.
"There you are!" said Jonouchi. "We were worried about you!"
"We thought those Mary Sues might have gotten you," said Honda.
Seto strolled over to join the rest of the group and gave Yugi a cool look.
"I should have known you'd be mixed up in this somewhere," he said. "So, what is it this time?"
"Someone is trying to sacrifice Anzu to resurrect Pegasus," said Yugi succinctly.
"I can't decide if that's a good deal or not," said Kaiba. "But seeing as how he's trying to use my technology to do it, I suppose I'll have to help you out again."
"If you insist," said Yugi. "If we're all prepared?"
"Let's get moving," Jonouchi said. "There's no telling when more of those girls might show up!"
The group began climbing into the elevator. No sooner did the doors begin to close then they heard the distant squeals of an approaching group of fans.
"Go up, go up, go up!" said Honda, pounding frantically at the elevator buttons.
"Stop it! You'll break it!" Mokuba protested.
The doors slid shut. A moment later, there was a frantic sound of banging and pounding, as of many people trying desperately to get the elevator doors back open. Jonouchi slumped against the wall in relief.
"Is it bad," he said, "that I'm more afraid of what's down here than what's up there?"
"No," said Getsukou. "At least what my brother is doing makes some sort of sense."
Honda looked up at him. "Er... wait a minute. Aren't you the bad guy?"
"No," said Yugi. "This is Getsukou Tenma, Yakou Tenma's twin brother. He's been helping me."
"Geez," said Jonouchi. "How many brothers did Pegasus have, anyway?"
"It depends on who you ask," said Crocketts. "Your friend Yugi already took care of one would-be daughter, so..."
"Thankfully, Gary-Stus are a rarer breed," said Yugi.
The elevator reached the top floor, and the doors slid open. They all looked out into the control room, filled with its blinking lights and ominous machinery. At the center of the room, Anzu rested, motionless, in a chair, which was affixed to some strange device. Yakou Tenma stood over her, smirking at the new arrivals.
"Well, isn't this pleasant," he said. "The whole gang is here. You'll all be able to witness the end of my R.A. project, and the rebirth of my beloved brother!"
"You can't do this, Yakou!" said Getsukou. "Please, listen for just a moment - things aren't the way you think they are!"
"Shut up! You were always weak-willed, Getsukou. That's why you could never measure up to Pegasus's greatness! That's why I must bring him back!"
"But you've got the wrong person! Yugi is innocent!" Getsukou insisted.
"I won't believe it. He has you brainwashed!"
"I'm afraid I have to disagree," said Crocketts. "The evidence I've seen indicates that Mr. Mutou is innocent of this crime."
Yakou glared at him. "You too? I thought I could trust you."
"I'm in this to deal with the person who killed Pegasus. If it wasn't Yugi, then I see no reason why I ought to help you torment him. As long as your real interest is to punish your brother's murderer, then you can trust me."
"You were the one who told me it was Yugi in the first place!"
Yugi shot Crocketts a glare. "You told him that?"
"He asked me who was dueling Pegasus, and I told him! I can't help it if he jumped to conclusions!"
"The point is," said Getsukou, before the argument could get any worse, "Yugi is innocent. It was that other person, the one who killed all those irritating girls back there in the hallway."
"Who's been killing people in my building?" Kaiba asked.
"Bakura," Yugi replied. "It seems he took exception to the presence of some Mary Sues."
"Did he?" answered Kaiba. "Hmm. I didn't think he had it in him. I'll have to thank him later. And send him the bill for the carpet cleaner."
"So... you're all saying that Yugi really didn't kill Pegasus - that it was this Bakura person?" said Tenma slowly.
"Now he gets it," said Mokuba.
Yakou scowled. "Then I've been making a fool of myself for the past eleven chapters and nobody has bothered to stop me! If I ever meet Takahashi, I'm going have a word with him for his habit of always withholding the most vital information until the last chapter. Think of all the trouble and expense it would have saved me..."
"So will you let Anzu go now?" asked Yugi.
"I suppose I'll have to," said Yakou with a sigh. "Give me her soul card, and I'll see what I can do about putting her back together again."
Warily, Yugi drew the card and passed it to Yakou. However, before the man could take, it there was a sound like an explosion, and a dozen or more teenaged girls rushed into the room. All of them were screaming unintelligibly about their own personal agendas. Jonouchi clapped his hands over his ears.
"Somebody shut them up!" he shouted.
Yugi struggled to wade through the clinging masses of fangirls, trying desperately to reach Yakou.
"Quick! Take the card!" he shouted. "You've got to bring her back now!"
Yakou made a grab and snatched the card out of Yugi's hands. He ran it through his machine, and there was a tremendous roar that drowned out even the squeals of the fangirls, and a flash of light that rendered everyone momentarily blind. Then the chaos subsided. The only sounds or movements were that of a girl carefully unstrapping herself from the chair. Anzu stood up and waved to everyone.
"Hi, guys!" she called. "Did you miss me?"
The assembled Mary Sues let out a cry of rage at the sight of their nemesis. They rushed toward her as a unit, and she was only just barely able to run for safety behind Jonouchi and the others.
"Now you've gone and made them mad!" Honda yelled over the noise.
"Is there any chance Bakura might come back and kill the rest of them?" asked Kaiba, without much hope.
"Not likely," said Yugi, who was trying to hold back a pair of screaming girls with both hands. One of them had hold of his Puzzle and was screeching something about being his wife back in Egypt. "I think he was only in it for the Items."
"Then what are we going to do?" asked Mokuba. "Make a run for it?"
"I don't think we can!" said Getsukou. "They've got the exit blocked!"
"They'll follow us wherever we go," Crocketts agreed, "unless we think of some way to stop them..."
"Actually, I think I have the perfect idea," said Yakou. "Just leave it to me!"
He jumped up on the platform next to the chair, where everyone could see him. He put his fingers to his lips and whistled shrilly.
"Excuse me!" he shouted. "Attention over here for just a minute! May I have your attention?"
A few people, realizing there was an attractive male asking for them to notice him, stopped what they were doing to look. Gradually, the crowd simmered down.
"That's better," he said. "Crocketts, Getsukou - seal the exits. I don't want any of these people to escape."
"But-" Getsukou protested.
"Just do it!" Yakou ordered. "And don't worry. I think I've gotten the hang of this Mary Sue thing."
He stepped down off the platform and walked over to one of the girls, a winsome looking creature with sad eyes and a gentle smile.
"Hello there," he said. "I'm an angst-ridden male character with a tragic backstory and mysterious past. Would you like to help cure me of my deep emotional suffering and allow me to live happily ever after?"
"Yes!" she said, eyes lighting up joyfully.
"Good," he said. "I needed a volunteer. Gentlemen... strap her to the chair!"
The sun beamed gently down on the fountains, the rosebushes, the white linen tablecloth, and the assembled company.
"Would anyone like another cup of tea?" asked Cyndia, proffering the teapot.
"Yes, please," said Yakou, holding out his cup.
"I'm all right," Yugi said, sipping daintily at his own.
The other Yugi gazed speculatively at his teacup. "I believe I'll have a drop more."
"None for me, my dear," said Pegasus with a sly smile, flourishing his wineglass.
Things had gotten a bit out of hand, once Yakou Tenma had worked out that Mary Sues could be swapped for viable characters. Resurrecting Pegasus had been his first item of business, but once he was alive, he had insisted on reviving Cyndia as well. That had proven even easier than bringing Pegasus back - swapping one beautiful but minimally characterized teenaged girl for another was simplicity itself. Of course, with a nearly never-ending supply of Mary Sues to play with, it had been hard to resist the temptation to fiddle around a bit. The end result was that Yugi and and his other self now had separate bodies of their own, as did Ryou and his other half. He had been given permission to bring back his mother and sister, which had gotten his darker self started on making requests of his own.
"Did anyone ever get the Spirit of the Ring squared away?" asked Yakou. "I was under the impression that he was a dangerous character."
"Oh, he's keeping busy," said Yugi. "For some strange reason, he said he'd let bygones be bygones if we let him have ninety-nine of those Sues to run through the machine. Can't imagine what he's going to do with them all, but it isn't like there's a shortage."
"How many has he got now?" Getsukou asked.
"None," said Yugi. "They're drawn to him like moths to flame, but he keeps losing his temper and murdering them messily or sealing them into lead tokens."
"At least he'll be busy for a while," said his partner. "Maybe he should hire some help? I'd hate for him to get bored and start hounding us again..."
"I don't care what he does, to tell the truth," said Pegasus. "Despite what our differences may have been in the past, I'm willing to forgive and forget in exchange for returning my darling Cyndia to me."
"I suppose it all turned out all right in the end," Yakou said. "I'm happy as long as you're happy."
"You aren't angry at all at that Bakura character for killing our brother?" Getsukou asked.
"Why should I be?" Yakou asked. "Pegasus is back, and Kaiba and I have started a very profitable side business processing Mary Sues from other fandoms. People will pay almost any price to get rid of the things. We're getting so many requests, we may have to give up on the gaming thing to do this full-time."
"Certainly it would be a gift to mankind," said Pegasus. "Ah, well. All's well that ends profitably, I always say."
"Quite," said Yakou, "and in the meantime, I can't think of any better punishment for that Bakura character than to spend the next few years trying to round up Mary Sues."
Getsukou chuckled. "That sounds more like the brother I know."
Yugi and his partner laughed as well.
"I guess they found out," the reincarnated spirit said, "that this world is a bad place for Mary Sues."
Far, far away, in another plot continuity, a girl sat at her desk and stared thoughtfully at her computer.
"Well, that didn't work very well," she said. "Now what are we supposed to do?"
No sooner had she spoken, when another girl ran into the room clutching a bundle of computer printouts.
"Hey, chief!" she shouted. "Look what I've got!"
"What's that?" said the chief fangirl, turning to look at the papers.
"Screencaps from the new Yu-Gi-Oh GX anime," her aide replied.
"Eh, that's no good," said the chief. "Yugi and Kaiba are barely even in it, and nobody else interesting shows up at all... Hmm..."
She took the papers and began flipping through it.
"Kinda cute... Some kid in glasses... Some guy that looks like a koala bear... Ugh! Who drew that guy?" She glared evilly at the picture of Professor Chronos. "I need to have a word with whoever did these character designs. There's barely a decent bishie in the bunch... Hey, wait a minute, what's this?" She held up the pictures of Jun Manjyome, Ryou Marufuji, and Fubuki Tenjyoin. "Now, that's more like it! I think we have a winner here! Okay, girls - let's move out!"