Disclaimer –"Yu-Gi-Oh!" and all related characters, events, and concepts belong to Takahashi Kazuki and any other related owners/distributors/producers. I get no monetary benefit from this. My benefit is the enjoyment of dealing with beloved characters.

by DragonDancer5150

He trudged back into the complex, passing guards, mercenaries, thieves, spies and worse – men and women whom it rankled him to no end with which to associate. He paused as one scraggly, battle-scarred ruffian recognized him and opened a door to allow him to pass. He could have just floated through the walls, but why rush to the inevitable? On the other end of the spectrum, he did not have to be visible to everyone around him, either, even in this magic-rich environment, but again . . . why bother? They all knew he was there, could sense him easily enough. Most of them could not touch him any more than he could affect them, at least not by any physical means. Of course, he had learned long ago that there were means other than physical by which one could be "affected." He shuddered in spite of himself, hating this place, these people . . . himself.

He found the study, hidden deep within, resplendent in ways he wondered if his chambers had once been. This person may as well have been an emperor or pharaoh of some kind, for all his power and showy splendor. The study brimmed with wide, ceiling-high shelves of books, a rare and priceless commodity in this post-Apocalyptic world where knowledge granted one just as much power as the renewed levels of magic abundant in the atmosphere. The leader of the organization, a psion and sorcerer by the name of Argon, sat poring through who-knew-what tome of knowledge. Argon did not look up right away, but there was no doubt he was aware of the other's presence. He did not say a word, would not until the other had properly positioned himself.

The ethereal being hesitated, glancing up at the mystical artifact hung from a chain in a place of decadent importance within the greater pomposity of the chamber, reconfirming its presence. He knew that Argon would have preferred to keep the treasure directly on his person, just as another had once done, but he could not use it; it would not attune to him. The golden relic had rejected him and no amount of punishing its "djinni" would change its semi-sentient mind. Still, Argon could make use of the entity bound to its magical energies . . . a proud and powerful human spirit he enjoyed toying with, abasing, as much as utilizing for his own purposes.

It had become almost ritual over time, the constrained entity stepping to take his place at the center of the space before the great oaken desk. He paused a moment, fists clenched in humiliated anger, before he dropped to his knees, bending forward onto his hands with his head bowed deeply in submission. "Master" - He bit the word in disgust, intoning the prescribed greeting only because the alternative was more terrible than even his great pride and honor warranted. - "your . . . slave has returned." He kept his eyes trained on the floor, watching the other by periphery vision. He knew better than to look up.

"My slave has failed," Argon corrected, his tone low with his own annoyance. He paused, but they both knew that excuses, even valid ones, were unacceptable. He glanced over at a security monitor on which was displayed an image of one of the other rooms in the complex, focused especially on an ornate sarcophagus. No mummy rested in that coffin but a human in a state of magical stasis. He grinned as the spirit tensed in frustrated helplessness, fingers curling into the plush carpet without even the satisfaction of being able physically to grip the deep fibers.

Do what you will to me. Just leave him alone! The spirit dared not speak his thoughts aloud. He knew how to play this game and the most important rule in effect in that moment was that one did not give his opponent any satisfaction with pleas or demands, as that only told the enemy how best to exert control. He braced, knowing what was to come, dreading it in spite of himself.

The leader stood, reaching to shut off the monitor with an audible click, cutting off his slave from the comfort of being able to see that his companion was safe - for now. He stepped around to the front of his desk, enjoying the slight tremor to the young man's frame. Well, perhaps "young" was not quite the right word. He had learned that this entity was probably close to four thousand years old, though he could not have been more than sixteen when he died. At least, he had been some three thousand before the coming of the Rifts, plus however long it had been since the Great Cataclysms centuries ago. It had taken some time to teach the ancient human ghost his proper place these days, so that he knew how to prostrate himself and that he was never to meet his master's eye directly - simple things such as these. The leader had also taught him to believe in cause-and-effect. Failure was a cause inevitably followed by effect, meted out swiftly and without hesitation. "Prepare yourself." It was the only warning he ever gave.

The slave was prepared, had been since his assignment failed. He suppressed a whimper of miserable anticipation.

Power slammed into Yami, crackling through his energy patterns as though threatening to tear them permanently asunder. Shrieking, he collapsed into a fetal position, writhing at his master's feet. He wished in vain that he could pass out from the agony, surrender into oblivion for a time, even as he knew that such luxuries were reserved for the living. He had no material nervous system to overload, no means to escape the punishing torture visited upon his psyche and his mystical existence. Only one small, distant bit of knowledge helped to fortify his innermost sense of honor and satisfaction - by suffering himself, he knew that his aibou had been spared one more time.

Author's Notes: Please be sure to check my bio page for any updates, etc. Thanks!

"What in the world - ?!" "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO OUR YAMI-KUN!?!!" "And what the hell's happened to Yugi!?" Yeah, I can just hear the gasps and the sputtering of torches being lit as the pitchforks are gathered up in arms. LOL

Haven't decided if I'm going to go any further with this or leave it as is. It's actually the spawn of one of the ideas I've been kicking around with my GM (game master) as to how to introduce Yugi and Yami as player characters into our RPG campaign ("Rifts: Role-Playing Game" by Palladium Books, a VERY cool and versatile system, if a little advanced for many players – heh, myself included, when I first started!). I tell you what – getting these two written up as full-fledged characters was a chore-and-a-half, but I think it's going to be well worth it! I have some vague ideas where I might go with this, separate from whatever Geoff and I decide for the game but . . . any interest out there? If people want to see more on this, I'll do it. ((grin))