Raphael leaned out over the railing as the ship started docking. He was looking forward to getting to know some of the other duelists, but he was unsure that he really wanted to duel very much.
Last night, he had heard several whispers going around that some guy who had beat Seto Kaiba was in this tournament. They all seemed shocked at Kaiba's defeat, but Raphael had only shrugged.
"Everybody loses sometimes."
The others shook their heads. "Not Kaiba. This new guy's gunna be hard to beat."
The boat stopped and a whistle blew, jogging Raphael out of his thoughts. He was about to begin heading towards the front of the boat, when he heard someone call his name.
"Hey, Raphael! Wait up!"
He turned and waited as a small group of duelists caught up to him. Since Raphael wasn't an expert duelist, he had been put in one of the large sleeping quarters along with the other duelists last night, instead of getting his own room. At first, Raphael had been annoyed at this, but then realized that it was for the better; he could get to know more people this way, and none of them had to know how rich his family was.
The other duelists who had decided to sleep in the same corner of the room that he had had all gotten to know each other a little during the ride here, and had decided to stick together during the tournament, at least at first. Raphael had been accepted into the group just like any other person.
"Hey guys. What took you so long?" Raphael laughed as they approached.
The one in the lead, a boy named Mike, frowned. "Hey, give us a break, it's supposed to be summer vacation. Not all of us are used to getting up early like you apparently are."
"Mike here just likes to sleep in," a girl named Abby giggled.
The third, and last, member of the group, still had a piece of toast in his mouth from the continental breakfast that had been served a few hours ago. "An' we had to 'ave breakfast," he explained with his mouth stuffed.
"You mean you had to have breakfast, Dan." Abby smirked at him. "The rest of us ate it when it was first served!"
Dan shrugged, swallowing his toast. "Whatever." The four of them all exited the boat together.
Everyone was quickly ushered up a long set of stairs and gathered around a high wall of the castle that stood at the top of them. There stood Pegasus himself along with several of his bodyguards.
Raphael gazed up at him as he began to speak, chattering about how fun the tournament was going to be, and how hard everybody needed to work. He then mentioned the prizes that were to be awarded the winner, which Raphael mostly ignored. He was in this for the fun of it, though the mystery prize that would be awarded the champion sounded intriguing. His new companions found the prizes to be much more exciting than he himself did, though he didn't tell them that.
Pegasus himself had a rather annoying voice, and even as he spoke words of encouragement to the duelists gathered, his tone suggested that he didn't expect most of them to go very far. Soon enough, though, Pegasus had left, and the other duelists were scattering, trying to find the so-called high tech arenas Pegasus had mentioned to duel on and good people to duel with.
"Hey, do any of you want to duel?" a small boy with short, brown hair had walked up to their little group.
The others looked around at each other nervously, all nervous to have their first duels. Raphael shrugged. "Sure, I'll duel you. Where at?"
Now the smaller boy shrugged. "I'm not really sure where we're supposed to duel at. I guess we have to look for the arenas Pegasus was talking about..."
Abby pointed at the trees. "A bunch of people just went that way, let's see if they've found one. If they have, we can use it when they're done."
"Sounds good to me." Raphael looked at the smaller boy. "First one to find it gets to go first?"
Valon was standing at the front-most part of the boat, watching the shore of Duelist Kingdom come closer and closer as the breeze blew his hair around. Hearing someone approach, he turned.
"Hey, Valon. You nervous?"
Valon gave the smaller boy a thumbs-up. "Nah, I'm feeling totally confident," he said with a grin. In reality, he was very nervous; both about the tournament and about the things he was going to have to go through when he got back from the tournament.
But he wasn't going to talk about all that with a boy that he had met just the night before.
Valon had been taking a stroll around the exterior of the ship, having been unable to get to sleep partly because of the butterflies that wouldn't leave his stomach alone and partly because of the amount of noise that the other duelists on the ship had been making.
He had come across Yugi, his friend Joey, and another, green haired boy called Weevil. They had been talking and he had simply watched from a distance, too far away to hear what they were talking about, and not really caring anyway.
Suddenly, Weevil had walked to the railing and thrown a bunch of Duel monster cards overboard, cackling loudly about it. Yugi yelled out in dismay, and Valon quickly realized that the cards had belonged to the shorter boy. They were apparently very worthwhile cards, too, for Joey then dove off the ship and into the water to retrieve them.
Valon had watched in shock for a moment, then ran to grab a life ring. Yugi dove in after his friend, and Valon threw the ring to the two of them. Two other kids came up behind him and helped him pull them up.
Soon, the five of them were gasping on the deck of the ship, and introductions were made. Valon quickly found out that Yugi had been invited to the tournament only because he had managed to beat Seto Kaiba by summoning Exodia the Forbidden One; a monster that now had three limbs residing at the bottom of the ocean.
"I can't wait until the dueling starts," Yugi said brightly, bringing Valon back to the present. "I've got a score to settle with Weevil."
Valon grinned at him. "Eh, a little guy like him won't stand a chance against me. I'll take care of him for ya!" He emphasized his words by slamming a fist into his other palm.
Yugi looked embarrassed. "I'll be content just to knock him out of the tournament. I want to do all this fairly..."
"I was just joking, Yugi," Valon said with a shrug. "I'll beat him up after you duel him, then."
Valon laughed. "I told you, I'm joking!"
There was a yawn behind them as Joey and the others walked up, looking sleepy. "How can you two stand to be up this early?" Joey complained.
Yugi looked at his watch. "Joey, it's almost noon. Everybody else is already up." He looked up at his friend and smiled. "You get up earlier than this every day for school."
"Yeah, but this is vacation! And besides, at school there's classes to sleep through!" Joey explained. The girl beside him, Anzu, who Valon had also met the night before, rolled her eyes and made like she was going to smack him upside the head. Tristan, the other boy, laughed at her, and Joey, who hadn't seen what Anzu was doing, looked confused.
Yugi shook his head in amusement. "At any rate, it's good that you got up when you did. The ship's about to dock!"
Yugi was correct in this, and the outside of the ship was beginning to fill with exclaiming passengers, all wanting to be the first one off the boat and onto this mysterious island.
The small boy then went oddly silent, staring blankly at the land in front of them and at the shrinking length of water between it and the boat. Joey seemed to catch his mood and placed a hand on Yugi's shoulder.
"We'll get him back, Yuge. Don't you worry. That Pegasus is as good as gone!" he said quietly.
Valon blinked, but decided not to pry. The boat stopped and the whistle blew, so he moved with the rest of the crowd toward the area of the boat where they would disembark, eager to start the dueling despite how nervous he was.
He chuckled to himself over Anzu and Tristan's woodenness as they headed down the gangplank. The two of them technically weren't supposed to be there, as they weren't duelists, but they had snuck on board and had spent last night in Yugi's room with him. Valon shook his head and hurried forward to catch up to them, silently passing Tristan his Dueling glove to borrow.
Tristan gave him a thankful if harried look and slipped it on. Now that he knew that he looked like he actually belonged there, he relaxed, and the group was able to reach the shore and blend into the crowd without incident.
Once they were a distance away from the boat, and being herded toward a long staircase heading upward through the edge of the forest, Tristan handed the glove back with thanks. Valon just nodded and pulled it back onto his own hand. His two starting chips were already in place in the glove, and he was ready to duel.
The moment Pegasus' speech was over, the crowd began to split up. Yugi spotted Weevil a ways off and started towards him, but as soon as the green haired boy noticed them, he ran off into the forest.
Valon clenched his fists. "The stinkin' coward," he growled. Without another word, he took off after him, fully willing to forget the cards and give the kid what he deserved.
He could hear Yugi calling out for him, and also for Tristan and Joey, who, it appeared, had started running right behind him, wanting to help Valon avenge their friend. He slowed a little, knowing that Yugi didn't like fighting at all, and his temper cooled off a little.
Yugi was the victim here, and if he was willing to deal with Weevil using just the cards, he should too. Beating the pants off of the twerp wasn't going to bring Yugi's cards back, and Yugi didn't like fighting anyway.
Yugi, Anzu, Tristan, and Joey were able to catch up to him, and they all ran into the forest together. Fighting through a short ways of branches and bushes, scattering a huge swarm of moths before them, they soon found themselves in a large clearing, where Weevil stood, facing them and obviously waiting for them.
"I knew you'd come after me, so I came prepared," Weevil announced, his high voice grating on Valon's nerves. "You've fallen right into my trap! I'm going to knock you out of the tournament, Yugi!"
"Don't be too sure of that, ya freaky overdressed creep!" Joey shouted at him rudely. None of the others disagreed with either of his statements, and Yugi stepped forward.
"Weevil, You're going to pay for ruining my Exodia cards!" he yelled across the clearing.
Weevil just laughed. Yugi's head bowed forward and his hands clenched. There was a sudden, short burst of light, and then Yugi stood upright again, pointing at Weevil. "I challenge you to a duel!"
"I accept your challenge!"
Immediately, the ground began to shake. A section of ground a short way away from them split open into a huge crevice. But just when Valon and the others were just about to start crying 'Earthquake,' they realized that the hole it was creating was exactly rectangular. They watched in shock as a large metal construct rose up from the ground.
"Those are Kaiba's new Dueling platforms!" Joey said darkly as the field finished setting itself up with low mechanical whirrs.
Yugi nodded and Weevil laughed, practically skipping over to the red side of the platform and hopping on. Sensing his weight on it, the red side of the platform rose up into the air, giving him an aerial view of the field. Yugi followed suit more solemnly.
Their duel began, and it was very soon revealed that Weevil had one upped them, leading them to a field that would power up his insect monsters. Yugi was able to hold him off for a little while, and even took out Weevil's small army of bugs using a Mirror Force trap card, but Valon could tell that the green-haired kid had more up his sleeve.
Even if the green haired kid was a lying cheater, he was still a regional champion, and this duel wasn't going to be easy for Yugi.
Alister stared off into outer space, his thoughts wrapped up in his worries. Around him, everybody was starting to grow restless, wanting off the ship so that they could start dueling, but all he wanted was to be back home.
Sighing, he looked down at the cards in his hand. He wasn't even really sure why he had been invited to this tournament in the first place. He liked watching other people duel, sure, and he had occasionally borrowed cards from his friends to duel, but he was a complete novice at the game. So why had Pegasus extended him a personal invitation to attend a championship tournament?
Slowly, he began thumbing through the cards Pegasus had given him. Disturbingly, the cards all seemed to center on battle machinery, such as tanks and helicopters. His mother seemed to think that his coming to this tournament would be a good thing, but she hadn't seen the deck. It was almost as though Pegasus knew his past history with war situations and was trying to use it against him.
But then, maybe he simply knew that, since those days, the machinery and workings of those things continued to fascinate him. Either way, the deck seemed made to fit him, and that didn't make any sense at all, as he'd never even seen Pegasus before. How could the CEO of Industrial Illusions know him so well? And could it be that he had been invited to the tournament specifically because Pegasus also knew the condition his mother was in?
That was the main reason Alister had agreed to come to this tournament. Not only did he need to win that prize money, he had to figure out how much Pegasus knew about him, and why. And what Pegasus planned on doing with that information.
However, getting to Pegasus to ask him his questions was going to be his biggest problem. He really wasn't that great of a duelist, and although his new deck appeared to have several effective strategies in it, he really wasn't sure if he would be able to use it well.
So the main question was, once he got onto the island and the dueling started, should he immediately start dueling random people, hoping that they were less of a beginner than he was, or should he refuse to duel at first, and watch for people he knew he could beat easily?
If he waited, there was a chance that by the time he started dueling, all the other beginners would be knocked out of the tournament before he could duel any of them. But if he dueled right away, he could end up knocked out of the tournament before he could even do anything...
Finally, he decided that waiting would be the best course. That way, even if an opponent was more skilled than he was, he would be able to observe their deck strategy and plan around it.
The boat stopped and the whistle blew, startling Alister out of his thoughts. He hadn't realized they were so close to shore already.
Quickly, he put his cards into their carrying case and strapped that around his waist. Then he began the trek, along with everyone else, off the boat and up to Pegasus' castle. There, high on a wall, was Pegasus himself.
As Pegasus talked to the crowd about various rules, Alister studied his face, trying to read his expression. But Pegasus' explanations of the dueling gloves and star chips was over too quickly for him to get any real indication of what the Duel Monsters creator was thinking.
Pegasus left, and soon everybody was scrambling around trying to find somebody to duel. Alister tried his best to remain unseen and began searching for the dueling platforms Pegasus had mentioned.
Where there were dueling platforms, there would be duelists, and there he could make his observations...
Daricio: Okay, yes, see, I noticed that I hadn't updated this in a very long time... I actually had this chapter already about halfway written out, and then I'd kind of abandoned it... so when I got a helpful review reminding me that this story existed, I went through it, made some corrections, then added the last part on there...
Sorry the pace of this story is being really slow. That's mostly because, to be honest, I don't really know where this story is leading. I've got enough ideas for maybe another chapter or so, and that's about it. Woo?
Anyway, sorry for the long wait! Next chapter (whenever that ends up happening,) at least two of the bikers will end up meeting up with each other, at least briefly... We'll see what goes on when this happens.