PART II: SHADOW GAMES
Summary: After the tournament takes a potentially deadly turn, the gang learns they might be facing a new kind of Shadow Game. End of series spoilers. YugixTéa, JoeyxMai, mild MokubaxRebecca, hints at TristanxSerenityxDuke.
Disclaimer: I don't own Yu-gi-oh or its characters; Kazuki Takahashi does. I'm just taking them for a joy ride. I promise to put them back when I'm done.
Rating: T for mild language, violence, suggestive content.
A word about continuity (such as it is): This story mostly follows the dubbed American Kids WB version because that's what I watch with my kids. So sue me. ;) That said, whenever it suits my purposes, I borrow from the original Japanese version (gleaned from episode guides on the brilliant Yu-Jyo site, Janime, and False Memories – e-mail me if you want the links) or the manga. For example, Yugi and Téa were childhood friends, as in the manga, even though in the American version a flashback shows Yugi and Joey deciding they should get to know her after the boys are already friends. Basically, wherever there is a conflict between the American, Japanese, and manga, I go with whatever I like best. :) Events referred to that have not yet aired in the U.S. (some of the Memory World/Dawn of the Duel arc) I got from Janime and False Memories.
Oh, and about Mai's age: I've fanwanked her about five years younger because the idea of a woman in her mid-twenties falling for a 15-year-old kid is a bit too Mary Kay Letourneau for me (shudder). I have her at about 19 when she first met the others on the boat to Duelist Kingdom and yes, there is an explanation for the discrepancy between this and canon.
1. The Island
Yugi slept in fits and starts on the small lifeboat after it was launched from their doomed cruise ship, the USS Chrysaor. Since the ship had not been at full capacity due to the limits the dueling tournament that had charted it had placed on the number of invitees and guests, the lifeboats were not terribly crowded. Counting the duelists, guests, officials, and a diminished crew because of the fewer passengers, there had only been around four hundred fifty people total on the ship. The lifeboats, built to seat up to a hundred people, were each carrying around forty-five, which left some space to stretch out a little; nevertheless, it was not exactly roomy and adrenaline was high, so no one really slept much.
At about four AM, a little more than an hour after they'd launched from the ship, the sun rose. By seven o'clock the sun was fairly high above the horizon and Yugi watched as the Chrysaor submerged completely. He ached for Téa and felt guilty about not personally seeing to it that Rebecca got safely onto a lifeboat. He wanted to see all his friends, actually; though he knew they were safe on another boat, he wished fervently he'd been allowed to return to his own muster station and be on the same lifeboat with them, as he had no idea how long it would be before they were found and could be reunited.
"Morning, Yugi-boy, sleep well?"
Yugi looked up to find Pegasus sitting beside him.
"Not really, no."
"Me neither," Pegasus whispered. "I was listening to the crew on the two-way earlier. It's much worse than we feared."
"Worse than sinking?"
"It seems more than just the engines were sabotaged," Pegasus said. "Around one thirty this morning the bridge crew discovered the instruments had been tampered with. We were off course, but no one knows how far or in which direction. Then they tried to radio for help and all communication systems were down. All of the lifeboat radios, search-and-rescue transponders, and position-indicating beacons were also destroyed. Only the short-range two-ways that the crewmembers carry on their persons are working. And every single lifeboat is low on fuel, even though they were all checked before we left port."
Yugi vaguely remembered seeing crewmembers rushing toward the bridge when he was out walking, before he'd run into Téa. "All of that couldn't possibly have been done before we set sail. Whoever did this had to have been on board!"
"I rather suspect whoever did the dirty work is a henchman rather than the actual person responsible," Pegasus answered.
Yugi frowned, thoughtful. "Weevil Underwood said something odd Sunday night at dinner. He threatened me and Joey. On the ship to Duelist Kingdom he threw my Exodia cards overboard and the other night he said 'next time it won't be just your cards.' And then when the pursers threatened to put them off the ship, Rex seemed almost anxious to be thrown off, but when they were threatened with the brig, Weevil balked."
Kaiba, who in typical attitude of entitlement was lying down taking up most of the bench behind them, seemingly asleep, scoffed, "You don't seriously think those two imbeciles are capable of anything as complex as sabotaging a ship's navigation and communication systems and blowing up the engines? I'm surprised they can dress themselves in the morning."
"True. But they did both join up with Dartz three years ago. You never know what they might be capable of under the right direction."
"We probably should keep an eye on them," Pegasus agreed. "But the more pressing problem is that with all communications and navigation down before the ship sank, not only do we not know where we are, we couldn't radio for help. No one even knows we're missing."
"We were supposed to dock at Ketchikan this morning. They'll know we're missing when we don't show up," Kaiba pointed out.
"But they won't know when we went missing or where," Yugi said.
"The last contact the Chrysaor had with anyone was several hours before the explosion. That's a lot of ocean to search, and if we're off course we're not in the section they'll be searching," Pegasus agreed. "Even with flares and all that, the Pacific Ocean is a big place, especially when you're not where you're supposed to be and you don't know where you are, and without much fuel, we can't get very far on our own. Whoever did this did an excellent job of making sure we wouldn't be found for quite some time."
"Well that's cheerful news to wake up to," Kaiba said.
"Never fear, Kaiba-boy, I have good news as well. One of the boats spotted an island, so at least we won't be cooped up in these boats waiting for rescue. We'll be there within the hour, assuming the fuel holds out."
That was good news to Yugi. It meant he'd be reunited with Téa and the others in less than an hour. Kaiba, however, didn't seem impressed.
"How wonderful. Stranded on an island with Pegasus and the Dweeb Patrol."
"You must be anxious to see Mokuba," Yugi pointed out.
"Hm," was all Kaiba said in response.
"As soon as you can, round up all your little fan club and we'll have a nice chat," Pegasus instructed.
"Why wait?" Kaiba asked, finally sitting up. "Why don't you tell us more now?"
"Think, Kaiba-boy. Do you really want me to give away everything I know where we could easily be overheard?"
"I want to know what's going on sooner rather than later!" Kaiba growled.
"You'll know everything soon enough."
They fell silent and before long Yugi could see the outline of land in the distance. As they got closer, he could make out dark cliffs, trees, and a narrow beach. It didn't seem very inviting, but then this was the North Pacific, not some tropical island.
"Maybe there will be caves in those cliffs that would make good shelter alternative to the boats," he overheard one crewmember tell another, "and we can keep a fire going on the beach as a rescue signal."
As Pegasus had predicted, they made it to the island in under an hour. The crew let the passengers off the lifeboats onto the cold and misty beach, instructing them to stay near the shore and not wander off. They would pull the lifeboats up onto the beach well out of the tide and afterwards the captain would call a meeting of all the passengers and crew to distribute some of the rations for breakfast and to review their situation, plan their course of action, and divvy up jobs to explore the island for inhabitants and to secure food and water. Yugi, anxious to find his friends, headed down the beach searching the other lifeboats, Kaiba behind him.
Almost immediately he spotted Duke, his shock of black hair standing out against the bleak sky and gray sand. After a few more steps he could also see Mokuba, Rebecca, and Téa standing with him. "There they are," Yugi pointed out the group to Kaiba.
Mokuba spotted them at that moment. "Seto!" he called out, drawing both Rebecca's and Téa's attention.
"Yugi!" both girls cried out in unison.
Rebecca took off at a sprint toward them and hurtled herself at Yugi. Clinging to his neck, she buried her head in his shoulder.
"Yugi! I'm so glad you're here!" she said, her voice muffled by his jacket. "Why didn't you come on our boat with us?"
Yugi hugged her hard, guilt washing over him anew. "I'm sorry, Rebecca, I went to talk to Pegasus about what was going on. You're okay, right? Téa and Duke made sure you got to the lifeboat safely?"
He felt her nod into his shoulder, and then she let go and took a step back. As soon as she did, Téa was there in the space Rebecca had just vacated. Wrapping her arms around him, she gave him a long, deep kiss. He was so happy to see her, so glad she was safe and they were together again, he didn't even think to be self-conscious or get embarrassed about the fact they were surrounded by a large number of people, including their friends.
"I'm so glad you're okay," she said when they parted.
"Me too," he replied. Tearing his eyes from hers but keeping his arm protectively around her waist, he looked for the rest of his friends. Duke clasped his hand briefly, but the only other person he saw was Serenity pacing up and down the beach looking out to sea.
"Where's Joey and Tristan?" he asked Téa, alarmed.
"They're on another boat with Mai. Joey disappeared and Tristan and Mai found him in the gym, which was pretty wrecked," Téa explained.
"What?" Yugi cried, but before she could elaborate, Serenity called out Joey's name and took off at a run toward the water. Yugi looked in the direction she was running and breathed a sigh of relief.
Tristan, Joey, and Mai, wrapped in blankets, were heading slowly up the beach toward them.
Joey, still cold and damp despite the fleece-lined nylon jacket one of the crewmembers had found for him in the lifeboat's provisions, clung tightly to the blanket wrapped around his shoulders over the jacket as he walked up the beach behind Tristan, looking for the rest of their friends. Mai trudged behind them.
"How's the ankle?" she asked him.
"Pretty good," Joey replied. "I think it was the cold more than my foot that made it hard to stand last—HEY!" he cried out as he ran into Tristan, also damp and wrapped in a blanket, who had stopped short in front of him.
"Well, that's new," Tristan said, a note of amusement in his voice.
"What's new? What are you talking about?" Joey asked, trying to follow Tristan's gaze through the mist.
"Yugi and Téa kissing," Tristan answered.
Then Joey saw them a distance up the beach, Yugi and Téa, locked in a kiss. "AwRIGHT!" he shouted, pumping his fist into the air. "Way to go Yuge!"
"Wait," Mai said stopping. "That's new? You've got to be kidding me. What has it been, like five years in the making? I've seen glaciers move faster."
Tristan coughed something that sounded to Joey like "Pot… Kettle," and Joey gave him a brusque elbow in the ribs. Then he quickly jumped to his friends' defense. Although Joey himself had expressed a similar sentiment to Yugi just the night before, he wasn't about to let Mai get away with it.
"Well you can hardly blame them for taking their time. The Pharaoh made things pretty complicated."
He saw her stiffen at the mention of the Pharaoh. "Right," she said tersely, "I forgot." She started walking again up the beach in silence.
Joey and Tristan exchanged puzzled looks as they followed behind her. That was the second time she reacted badly to the mention of the Pharaoh. Joey was about to ask her about it when he heard someone scream his name. Looking back up the beach he saw Serenity dashing toward them. A wide smile broke out on his face as his sister threw herself into his arms, knocking the blanket off his shoulders.
"Oh Joey, you're all right, thank God you're all right," she murmured.
"I'm okay," he assured her. "How about you, you okay?"
"I'm fine, I was just so worried about you! Don't ever do that again!" she scolded, and then she let go of him and flung herself on a very startled Mai. "Thank you, Mai, thank you for finding him," she said.
Mai recovered from her surprise and said, "Hey, I promised, didn't I?"
Serenity nodded. She stepped back and held out her left arm and Joey realized for the first time that she was wearing a duel disk. She pulled it off her arm and handed it to Mai. "You said you'd want this back when you found my brother," she said solemnly as if completing an important ritual, then pulled a backpack off her back and also handed that over.
Mai jerked her head in acceptance and put the duel disk on her own arm and the backpack over her shoulder. Then it was Tristan's turn for Serenity's attention. "Tristan!" she cried, burying her face in his neck. "I can't believe I was so mean to you the other day. I'm so sorry! Thank you, thank you so much for saving my brother."
By this time the others were there as well, surrounding Joey in a mass of hugs. Joey couldn't help but notice Serenity held on to Tristan longer than he cared for, and he might have stopped to say something, but he saw Tristan shoot Duke a smug look over Serenity's shoulder and he couldn't help but laugh in spite of himself. His sister and his friends were all safe and all together again. Nothing else mattered. Téa pulled him into a tight bear hug, dragging his attention away from Serenity and Tristan.
"Don't you ever scare us like that again, Joey Wheeler!" she exclaimed.
"Hey, I just wanted to play some basketball. How was I supposed to know the place was going to explode?"
"Okay, I suppose we can let you off the hook this time," Téa laughed, breaking free. "Oh, I have something for you," she said, and Joey saw that she, too had a duel disk on her arm. "Tristan grabbed this from the room and asked me to hold it for you when he went looking for you." She pulled it off her arm and handed it to him.
"My deck!" he said happily, taking the disk from her. "I thought it was gone for good!" His eyes sought out Tristan, who had finally let go of Serenity. Joey held up his duel disk. "Hey Tristan, thanks!" he called out.
Tristan nodded. "I told you I've always got your back."
As they finished greeting each other, a very harried looking Mr. Goradon came over to join them. "Ah good, good, glad to see you all made it safely. Horrible, isn't it? Just horrible."
Not sure if he was really looking for a response or not, they all just sort of mumbled their agreement.
"Listen, I want to gather all the remaining sixteen duelists as soon as we get a chance," he said. "Of course that includes you, Mr. Mutou, and you too Mr. Kaiba," he nodded at each of them in turn, "and I believe several of the rest of you as well?"
"Why? What's this about?" Joey asked.
"Well, if everyone managed to save their decks off the ship, and I see most of you have yours," he confirmed, looking at the duel disks on their arms, "then I would like to begin right away with arrangements to continue the tournament here on the island."
Yugi gaped at him. "You're not serious!"
"Don't you think we have more important things to worry about right now?" Joey cried. The rest of them looked equally taken aback, with the exception of Kaiba, who merely raised his eyebrows in curiosity.
"I'm absolutely serious," Goradon replied. "I think it would keep our morale up, don't you think?"
"Finding food and water and, you know, maybe getting rescued would do more for my morale than dueling," Mai shot back.
"Yes, yes of course," Goradon said hastily. "We'll attend to all the necessities first. But really, I think as long as we're able to, we should continue with the tournament to keep things lively while we wait to be rescued. Imagine the boon this could be for the game! Not rain nor sleet nor shipwreck can keep these World Championship duelists from their game."
"Boon for the game?" Joey said incredulously. "Are you completely off your nut?"
If Mr. Goradon recognized the insult, he gave no indication. "No, no. Just make sure you see me as soon as the ship's crew has had a chance to take attendance or whatever it is they plan on doing. I'll look for you all later," he finished, hurrying off again.
"That has to be the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," Téa objected angrily. "Who cares about the stupid tournament right now?"
"The IDMTC has to care," Kaiba remarked. "It's how they make a living. He's looking at it from a marketing angle, like any businessman."
"Like any businessman?" Joey seethed.
"Do I need to use smaller words, Wheeler?" Kaiba sniffed.
Joey clenched his fists, trying to ignore Kaiba's taunts. "Kaiba, you don't actually think we should care about a stupid card game tournament when we're shipwrecked in the middle of nowhere!"
"Pay attention, Wheeler. I didn't say I cared. I said Goradon had to care. It doesn't really matter to me whether we finish the tournament here or back in San Francisco after we're rescued." He gave Yugi a pointed look.
Joey shook his head. Even after everything that had happened, Kaiba was actually still thinking about beating Yugi. Yuge should just let him win one of these days so he can move on with his life already, he thought irritably. Before he or Yugi or anyone else could respond, however, one of the crewmembers came over to them.
"Listen everyone, we want all of the tournament competitors to gather in your tournament division groups along with your guests. That will be the most organized way to take attendance and make sure everyone's accounted for. Then the captain will explain our situation and where we go from here."
The meeting was surprisingly short. The captain summarized their state of affairs while other crewmembers passed out some rations from the lifeboat giving them a small but welcomed breakfast. While they ate, he explained that they had been off course and lost all long-range communications. It was starting to become clear to the rest of the passengers that this had not been an accident and the captain hastened to assure them that the crew was ready and able to take whatever measures necessary to ensure everyone's safety from whoever was responsible, but that their primary concern at the moment was survival and rescue, not catching terrorists. That would be the responsibility of U.S. Homeland Security once they were rescued.
"We have ample provisions for a few days. The lifeboats each had enough military-style MRE rations to feed a hundred people for two days. Since each boat only carried about half that, we should easily be able to stretch it to four days, but we need to find fresh water and food to last beyond the provisions," he explained. He then went on to detail how they could use the beached lifeboats as shelter as they were covered and weatherproof and would be warmer than anything they could cobble together, but as they would be a little cramped, it also seemed advisable to look for caves or something else that might make roomier shelter for over four hundred people.
Last he explained the tasks that would be divided up among the passengers and crew. One group would be responsible for trying to secure some fish for dinner, a job Joey thought Mako Tsunami would be particularly well-suited for. Another group would look for other edibles on the island, a third would be responsible for finding fresh water, and a forth would begin building some fires and setting up a campsite and start working on ways to draw attention from ships and planes.
"And finally, I'm going to send five of my crew with a group of thirty or forty of you to hike over to the far side of the island, see if there's any signs of civilization, and look for possible alternative shelter locations."
He clapped his hands. "Okay. Let's take about half an hour to finish eating and rest up a bit, and my crew will start dividing you up into groups and give you your assignments. Thank you for your cooperation. Together we will get through this."