Author's Note: Thanks to Chibi Cheesecake for catching a bad typo!
It was not long before the entire city was alerted to the fact that something absolutely bizarre was happening. Within moments the Seal was in place in the sky, its unseen barriers clamped tightly down over its victims. No one could get in or out. Buses and trains crashed at the city limits. Those out walking were violently thrown back. Animals began to bark and hiss. Immediately people began to panic, and complete chaos and pandemonium descended.
Valon was just in the process of struggling to get his motorcycle upright again and to ride off when a loud announcement echoed throughout the neighborhood. At first no one could determine where it was coming from, but then someone pointed out a blimp that was ambling across the sky just below the Seal of Orichalcos. Valon, however, could care less about where the speaker was. What mattered to him was what she was saying—and who she was.
"Greetings, fair citizens of Domino!" came Vivalene's syrupy, aristocratic tones. After squinting for a moment, Valon could make out her form standing on a platform of the blimp. She was holding onto a railing with one hand and a megaphone with the other. And the Australian cursed low.
He remembered Vivalene now, and the trouble she had caused him in the past. Perhaps it was terrible, but he had hoped that she was dead in the crushed Orichalcos temple and that she would not be able to bother him and his friends any more. She obviously was causing trouble now, and Valon knew that they would all be involved with it. Most likely they would all lose their souls before long. Or maybe that was Raphael's pessimism rubbing off on him.
"I'm certain that all of you are wondering about this delightful little symbol in the sky," the redhead continued now, her shoulder-length hair blowing about in the breeze. "But you see, the explanation is really quite simple, especially if you've been watching the news. The fact is, you're all about to be offered to the great Leviathan to assist it in rising once again." She gave a mock pout as the cries of indignation and confusion rose to meet her ears. "Oh, you don't like that? Too bad."
Valon clenched a fist. There had to be something more going on here, he decided. Why was Vivalene allowing herself to be in the city? Would the Seal not take her soul as well? Valon doubted that Vivalene was ready to offer herself to the Leviathan; indeed, he felt sure that she could not care less about reviving the beast. All she wanted was the power, and what disturbed Valon the most was that he had been the same way when he had been part of Doom. They had wanted different kinds of power, but in the end all of it still was power. He had wanted to be physically stronger, and Vivalene wanted the prestige and importance and wealth of a leadership position.
The treacherous woman laughed now. "There is only one way to stop this," she announced, "and I know that if he isn't watching, someone who knows him must be." She smirked, gazing down at the people. Was that Valon she could see? Yes, she would recognize his wild hair anywhere. His presence only made things more interesting, for of course she knew that he would fight tooth and nail to keep himself and his friends from falling prey to the Seal's powers. "I want the man named Dartz to find our secret location and come speak with us. But he only has until sunrise!" Vivalene's amusement only increased as she saw the people exchanging confused looks. They had no idea who she was speaking about. Well, most of them did not know, anyway.
Valon felt frustrated. "What do you wanna talk to him for?" he demanded now, ignoring the way that everyone was staring at him. He supposed that they were wondering how he knew this strange woman, and who Dartz was. He could only hope that he would not be bombarded with questions, because he did not have the time or the patience to bother answering them.
Vivalene smirked. "Oh, just about a business deal," she replied. "And now the very leader of Doom Reborn wants to speak with him." She pointed her megaphone at Valon for emphasis. "That's very significant, you know! Not even anyone in the organization has seen her! That includes me, and I'm her top operative."
Valon frankly did not care how significant it was. What he cared about was what would happen if Dartz met up with those people. Would they try to get him to join with them? Surely that must be what they wanted. And Valon would not be surprised if Dartz agreed. He did not, and could not, trust the former leader of Doom. Most certainly he did not want to entrust all of their fates to that man. He would find a way to stop Doom Reborn himself.
"Dartz'll probably join up with you!" the Australian snapped now. "That's not gonna help us here!" He climbed on his motorcycle and reached to pull his goggles down. He had not been wearing his helmet tonight, which he knew would make Raphael upset when he learned of it, but he had other things to worry about now.
"Just find him for me and we'll see, darling," Vivalene called as she pulled herself back inside the blimp. "And remember, you don't have much time."
Valon glared after her, clenching a fist. Then he revved his motorcycle and rode off, while the crowd stared after him—trying to determine who he was, who Dartz was, and what exactly was happening to their city.
Siegfried pulled back the thin curtain in the guest room where Dritte had been laid. He did not intend to stay here, as it would most likely only add to the danger, but the sight of the green light upon the curtain had both intrigued and annoyed him enough that he wanted to see what was happening outside. He had expected to only see one of the glowing beams, but instead he was met with the sight of a portion of the humongous Seal of Orichalcos. His eyes narrowed. What on earth was going on? Had their enemies constructed such a thing to keep them imprisoned? Or was this part of a much larger problem? He did have to wonder if all of the strange troubles were connected somehow. After all, he did remember hearing the news stories about what had occurred in Europe and Asia.
He heard a gasp behind him and turned to see Téa standing there, staring in alarm at the Orichalcos out the window.
"What's going on?" she exclaimed, her blue eyes wide. "Oh my gosh. . . . The Seal must be over the entire city!" She only vaguely remembered hearing about the disasters in Germany and Japan—as some of the other dance students had whispered about it right before it had been time to begin practice—but she had heard enough to realize that the same thing must now be happening here.
Suddenly she was overwhelmed by a barrage of alarmed thoughts. Were they all going to lose their souls? How would Yugi react? She had to find him before he did something drastic! This was exactly the sort of catastrophe that he had been hoping to prevent, and once he knew of it, he would be endlessly determined to find a way to stop it. Of course, that was normal for him, but in his current state it was quite a worry. Téa was certain that he would end up doing something rash because of being driven by his anger, pain, and self-hatred.
Siegfried frowned deeply, turning away from the window and letting the curtain fall back into place. Within the Seal, there was not any place that was safe. He and the others must have walked directly into a trap. This disgusted him. Once again he had failed when he should have made certain that he would not. He clenched a fist and walked past Téa, speaking to her quietly as he did.
"Thank you for allowing Dritte to stay here." He gave Téa a sideways glance as she blinked and looked up at him. "I will leave so as to hopefully lesson the chance of attack, but when all of this is over you will be compensated for your help." He was a businessman, and often thought as one would. Since he was quite unused to anyone being genuinely kind other than his brother, he was very unsure of how to respond to such actions.
Téa frowned. "I wanted to help," she answered, "and so did my parents. It's not like we did this because we wanted some kind of a reward." She was not certain what to make of the pink-haired tycoon. He often still seemed to be obnoxious, as he had during the Grand Prix, but he seemed to honestly care about his brother—and about the Valkyries. Obviously he was not all bad, though at times it almost seemed as if he was trying to make himself unlikable. If that was true, Téa wondered why it would be.
Siegfried merely smiled. "If possible, I will try to keep in touch," he said, heading out the door.
Téa frowned, staring after him curiously. Then, after looking back to Dritte, she left the room as well. She would have to see if her mother could watch over the injured Valkyrie for the time being, even though she had said she would take the first shift. Getting to Yugi was her top priority now.
At the game shop, Yugi most certainly had noticed the monstrous Seal of Orichalcos in the sky—having seen it from the skylight in his bedroom. At first he had not been able to believe it. Then he had been horrified. And now he was angry. He had known all along that Doom Reborn would strike again, but he had never dreamed that it would be like this. It seemed impossible, to think of the Seal being able to grow to such enormous proportions—and outside of a duel, at that! How was it even possible?
Furious, he had ran outside to get a better look. And that was when he heard Vivalene's loud and mocking announcement to the citizens of Domino. In anger he clenched his fists. They most certainly would not be fed to the Leviathan! The Pharaoh would never let it happen, and Yugi would not, either. Dartz was the key, Vivalene claimed, and Yugi would find him somehow. He would worry later about how Dartz was alive. Right now he needed the man's help.
As he dashed around a corner, he nearly collided head-on with a motorcycle. Yelping, the driver swerved sharply to the left and nearly toppled over before righting himself, glaring at the boy as he did so.
Yugi felt a burst of guilt for almost causing someone else's misfortune. "I'm sorry!" he exclaimed, his violet eyes widening. "Are you alright?" Then he gasped upon realizing that he knew the biker. "Valon!" he cried.
The Australian continued to give him an irked look. "Yeah, it's me," he replied, "and I'm fine. But you almost caused me to wipe out for the second time tonight!" He leaned over the handlebars, pushing the goggles up on his forehead. It was not that much of a surprise to see Yugi, he supposed. By now Valon had driven back into the center of the city, and he realized suddenly that he was very close to where the Turtle Game Shop was located.
He sighed. "So . . . I guess you saw what's in the sky, too, huh?"
Yugi nodded. "Vivalene said that she wants Dartz," he said, "so I have to find him for her! She acts like she's sure he must be in the city somewhere, or else why would she have closed it off and then asked for us to find him?" After all, none of them could leave the city's perimeters now, and if Dartz was outside, he would not be able to get in—unless, of course, the secret base was not in Domino. But even so, there was the matter of Vivalene trapping herself in the city. Yugi doubted, as did Valon, that she would do that if there was not a way for her to escape having her soul taken.
"That's what I figure," Valon agreed, remembering how Dartz had actually been in their home earlier that day. He narrowed his eyes, wondering where Alexander had taken him to after he had teleported them out. Heh, he thought to himself, I guess now I wouldn't mind that thing being around, if he'd just be here long enough for me to ask him where Dartz is.
"Well," Yugi suggested slowly, "maybe we could look for him together." He was not sure how receptive Valon would be to that idea, but Yugi hoped that things would go faster if they did not search separately. After all, it would undoubtedly be easier to get around on Valon's motorcycle as opposed to just walking around the city.
Valon shrugged again. "Sure," he said, pulling his goggles down and tossing the spare helmet to Yugi. Briefly he had the thought that he should have been wearing it himself, since the main helmet was at home in the garage, but then he decided not to worry about it. They had bigger problems, and he was sure that he would be alright. "Might as well. Just tell me if you see a crazy redheaded bloke with a couple of wings."
Yugi accepted the helmet and put it on, but blinked at this remark. "Um, okay," he agreed slowly, wondering what that had to do with Dartz.
The wanted man, meanwhile, was already heading into the city. After seeing the Seal go up, and hearing Vivalene's announcement over the news, he had immediately gone outside and ordered Seto's chauffeur to take him into town—right as they had been about to drive off. Seto had been indignant, and the chauffeur confused, but finally they had come to the agreement that they would all go downtown. Dartz had wanted Chris and Ironheart to stay behind, but they were insistent on coming as well.
Alexander shifted uncomfortably in the limousine, turning from first one side to the other. Briefly he tried to sit the way he was supposed to, but he soon grimaced and started to move about again.
Seto frowned, raising an eyebrow at the strange creature before looking to Dartz. "Does your friend have a problem with the seating arrangement?" he asked dryly. Not that he really cared, but after a while it did get somewhat annoying to watch Alexander's shifting. Mokuba was staring too, and Seto could see that Pegasus was interested. The young businessman rolled his eyes.
Dartz grunted. "No," he answered flatly. He had seen Alexander carry on in that way before, whenever the being was required to sit on some kind of couch or chair, and he had come to learn that Alexander simply was not comfortable if he could not spread out his wings. Keeping them folded on his back made him nervous and caused him to desperately shift about, trying to find a position that would allow him to unfurl them at least partially. Dartz supposed it was some sort of psychological after-effect of being trapped by the Orichalcos for so long.
"Do tell me," Pegasus exclaimed as the vehicle made its way down from the Domino Canyons, "how do you plan to find Doom Reborn's secret base? You really don't have all that much time until sunrise, and I can't say I'm looking forward to ending up in one of the Leviathan's bubbles again." He gave a mock pout and stared at Dartz, wanting an answer. Everything that was happening was so incredibly bizarre, and Pegasus wondered how they were ever going to get out of this mess. It seemed to him that it would not be very simple, even for Dartz. After all, Doom Reborn had been operating for ages and the Atlantean had not been able to stop them.
Dartz was about to give some sort of snide and clipped retort when the limousine abruptly swerved to the side and nearly went off the road into the gorge on the other side. Immediately the occupants were tossed against the insides of the doors and against each other. Alexander yelped, finally managing to spread his wings out of startled reflex, and the window next to him was then covered by his leathery demon appendage, while his angel wing went along the length of the back windshield.
It took a long moment for everyone to recover. At last Mokuba looked up, his raven hair going in all directions, and stared in disbelief. "What happened?" he demanded, glaring up at the front of the automobile. It was when he took on commanding airs that Seto would be quietly amused, while at the same time thinking that Mokuba would definitely be able to run KaibaCorp if the need ever arose. Though, since he would have to be dead first, he hoped that the need would not arise.
"I . . . I don't know," came the stammering answer from the chauffeur. "These strange men just jumped right in the way and . . ."
He trailed off as the men stepped into view and surrounded the limo. Everyone gawked at them. With their armor and their horned helmets, they looked like Vikings.
Raphael sighed to himself as he watched Alister limp back into the living room from the kitchen. The redhead was obviously restless, not wanting to lay down even though he knew he should, and they were both wondering when Valon was going to return. He had been gone ever since before the Seal had gone up, and Raphael was certain that he was not the only one of the two who believed that Valon just might have gone and done something rash in his anger over the situation.
It was definitely something to be angry about. The entire city had been trapped against its will, its inhabitants helpless to do anything against the Doom Reborn organization that was causing this. Raphael clenched a fist, turning to look out the window. The glow from the Seal was reflected on everyone's windows, and it made for an eerie mixture with the Christmas lights that were on up and down the street.
"We should be able to do something," Alister said flatly, coming over to the window. He probed the sight with his dark gaze, but did not seem to find anything of value to continue looking at. He turned away, the frustration obvious in his gray eyes.
Raphael growled. "We don't even know where they're hiding out," he retorted pessimistically. "It probably wouldn't be the same place they were in before. From what Mokuba said, it was almost falling apart then. They'd have to be idiots to chance it again." And he did not think they were idiots, at least not in that respect. They would have to have some level of intelligence to be able to come up with their devastating plans.
Alister grunted. "So we have to sit around and do nothing while everyone loses their souls?" He clenched a fist tightly, and Raphael could see that he was dangerously close to drawing blood. "I'm sorry, but I can't accept that." His red hair fell across his face as he looked down at his hand. "I've failed before. I'm not going to fail again." Whether or not Raphael agreed, Alister intended to go out and try to find some answers for what was going on. He could try to find Alexander, and Alexander could take him to Dartz, but what Alister truly wanted was to look for Doom Reborn's hideout. He was certain that there were clues to it somewhere, as there had been concerning the previous location.
Raphael looked at his friend compassionately before reaching to lay a hand on his shoulder. He understood Alister's feelings, and he felt the same. He was not going to sit back and just allow this to happen. Failure was not an option. "Let's go," he said quietly. "We don't have much time, and there's a lot of area to cover." He knew Alister would never agree to stay home. He was like Valon in that respect.
Alister started briefly at the contact and then gratefully looked back up at Raphael. He nodded and headed for the door, grabbing up his black coat in the process. He paused when Raphael spoke again.
"We're taking the car," the blonde said gruffly. "You're in no condition to ride a motorcycle, and you know it."
Alister grunted in reply, which Raphael had to assume was as good as an Okay. Then he walked out through the door and Raphael followed, after giving Liu a gentle petting. They would return, after stopping Doom Reborn. Raphael had to believe that.
Dartz glared coldly at the warriors that were surrounding the vehicle. "What is the meaning of this?" he demanded. He knew that these were not people attempting to imitate Vikings, but instead the real thing. In his travels throughout the ages, he had found his way to Scandinavia and had spent time there, learning about the land, the culture, and the people. And he recognized the armor of the Norsemen. He did not quite understand how it was possible for Vikings to be here in this day and age, though he wondered if the explanation was merely that these were descendants of the originals and that they had been living secretly for many years.
The one who seemed to be the leader came forward, glaring at the limousine as if he wished to break it apart with his gaze. "We've come to collect the Egyptian Millennium Items that we have heard so many legends about," he declared boldly in accented English. Dartz noticed that his sword was made of gleaming silver.
Seto growled. "There aren't any," he said harshly, noticing that the warriors were all staring at him. "They fell into a pit in the ground over in Egypt." And he, frankly, was glad of it. He was tired of his entire life revolving around those blasted items. Of course, now that they were gone, other magical properties seemed to have taken their place. And that only made Seto even more disgusted. He wondered if his life would now always be about magic. That was what he wanted to escape from. He did not believe that he had once been the priest Seto, in the Pharaoh's court. He was Seto Kaiba, and only Seto Kaiba, and anyone who believed otherwise was a fool.
"Oh, they did, did they?" The leader gave Seto a frosty look before turning back to Dartz. "We have already heard about that," he said firmly, "but we plan to resurrect them, O Golden-Eyed Wanderer." He smirked through his beard, seeing Dartz's momentarily startled expression. The legend of Dartz's visit to Scandinavia had been passed down through the generations, as they had never seen anyone like him before, or since. The Norse people had been fascinated by him, though of course they never knew the full story behind his enigmatic presence.
Chris blinked in confusion. "What's going on?" she wanted to know. She did not like the way that the men were looking at her father, nor did she care for the statement that their captain had made. In order to create the Millennium Items, there would need to be ninety-nine sacrifices. It was an abominable and wicked ritual, and one that should never have to be repeated.
Dartz laid a hand on her shoulder before looking up at the bearded man. "They're better left destroyed," he said coldly. "But how do you know that I am this 'Golden-Eyed Wanderer' that you speak of?" If the Vikings did, indeed, try to create new Millennium Items, Dartz knew that they would have to be stopped. And such a battle was something that he was most definitely not looking forward to. There were already enough problems!
Another Viking, one shorter but not stout, spoke up. "The legend talks about one with golden eyes and long, turquoise hair who visited our lands. You fit the description, and no one else we've seen does." Dartz could see that around his neck was a silver medallion, upon which an unfamiliar symbol was carved. Frowning, he remembered that the same symbol was on the captain's sword.
Ironheart had noticed too. "What does that symbol mean?" he asked of the short man. Somehow he had the feeling that it was not merely something from the Viking culture that they placed on many of their artifacts. It seemed . . . ominous.
Mokuba felt a shiver go up his spine, and unconsciously he moved a bit closer to Seto. He did not like this at all, and he did not understand, either. Why had they stopped the limousine, if what they wanted was to create new Millennium Items? Did they intend to offer up everyone inside to help meet the sacrifice quota? He gripped his brother's sleeve tightly, wishing that he did not feel so nervous.
"That," proclaimed the captain, showing off his sword, "is the symbol of our own magical items." He sneered. "You didn't truly believe that Egypt was the only land to make them, did you?" The silver sword glimmered in the moonlight and from the light of the Seal.
Everyone stared at him in disbelief. Various thoughts were running through their minds—alarm, confusion, horror. . . . The thought that other countries had magical items seemed too terrible to be real. And yet, it did make sense.
Dartz, however, did not have the same emotions as most of the others did. He had already known that the other lands had possessed magic artifacts of their own. He did not know if they had been created in the same way as the Millennium Items, but if so, he did know that they would be instruments of evil. And he had been certain that the other countries would rise up to use the items one day, if there were those who remembered about them. He doubted that most people believed in such things, in any land.
Pegasus did not seem all that surprised, either. And he was not. After losing Cecelia, and he had begun his lonely research that had led him to Egypt, he had also found ancient texts from other countries that had seemed to indicate that there were other magical items in the world. But he had never gotten around to collecting them because he had wanted to get the Millennium Items first—and that plan had failed.
Seto's lip curled in annoyance. "Well, isn't that just wonderful for you," he snapped. "Now how about leaving us alone? The maniacs in the city want to talk to your 'Golden-Eyed Wanderer' or else they'll take everyone's souls, including your own." He could tell that Mokuba was upset by the visit and he absently laid a hand on his brother's head.
All the Vikings laughed heartily at this remark. Alexander tilted his head to the side, baffled, and looked at Dartz. The Atlantean frowned deeply, not certain what the joke was. Seto was further annoyed. Mokuba grew more nervous. Chris and Ironheart sat tensely, waiting for the explanation. And Pegasus crossed his arms. Not even he looked amused.
At last the leader managed to calm down enough to look at the others. He sneered wickedly and his eyes gleamed. "Oh, I think we'll be perfectly safe," he replied. "After all, we're part of Doom Reborn's army."
Seto slumped back against the back of the seat, frustration obvious in his eyes. "I should have known," he muttered.