Author's Note: I assume you all know I don't own the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game, or the characters of Yu-Gi-Oh G/X. I do own all the original characters that will be featured in this story.
Also, to my old fans, this doesn't mean I'm stopping Generations (it is already heading towards the Season Finale anyway) or What the Next Life May Hold. This is merely a preview to see reactions from the fans.
At the bottom of this chapter will be a small trailer for the rest of the story.
Jaden gripped his chest, gasping for air. The tingling burn that had just ripped through his upper body left him panting, weakened. The attack had been merciless, unrelenting. It had come at him with such strength and vigor that he could hardly stand. The normal happy smile that he wore on his face during any duel had been wiped away, leaving him with a look of grim determination.
"What's wrong Jaden?" His opponent mocked with his cool, smooth southern accent. "Can't handle a direct fight? Oh no, I guess you prefer…" he jerked his head in a menacing manner. "hiding behind your little 'heroes'." The duelist gaffed. "You are worthless, you know that? At one time, I thought perhaps you and I could be partners….friends…." His gloating smile turned into a taunting sneer. "Brothers in arms!"
"I'd never join you." Jaden stated, struggling to stay standing. "Not after what you did here…you have hurt everyone at this academy, and I will not let you continue another day! You have taken all the fun out of dueling and made it into…some sick twisted game!"
His opponent smirked. "And I consider that fun Jaden."
"Your grasping for power has torn apart families and ruined friendships!" Jaden shouted, his carefree mood forgotten in this duel. "Bastion, Alexis, Chazz, Syrus…even Dr. Crowler and Principal Shepard! You have destroyed them all, and now you are going to pay!"
"Come on Jaden!" Syrus shouted from where he stood, the wind that whipped around the roof of the abandoned dorm flinging is hair all about. Above them, the sky cackled with lightning. Jaden looked at his friend and smiled sadly. Only Syrus remained, the only one left to see the end of this battle, the others…he couldn't think about it, not now. It just hurt too much. "You can do this…you have to, for everyone's sake. IF you fail, the entire Academy will fall."
"And fall it will!" The other duelist stated. "As will the rest of this pitiful world. The weak have no right to beg for the help of the strong for that they can not themselves claim. All the people you claim I hurt…do you forget their sins?" He bared his teeth in a furious snarl. "They too are guilty of destroyin' lives, yet they are allowed to exist, because you find them to be 'friends'." He held out his arms. "So do those that work for me! I am their friend, their family, their king! I duel for the broken, the forgotten, the lost. Everyone you ignore."
"Man, you talk too much!" Jaden shouted. "You keep saying that you are justified, that you are right to do all that you did…what happened to you to turn you into such an evil bastard?"
"We already had this conversation, or did you forget, Mr. Frodo? Try asking Samwise over there, we had our little 'Passage of the Marshes' moment a few months ago. Let's not do it again."
"I ain't talking about that!" Jaden shouted over the wind. "I know how you were raised…I want to know how we came to this point…what was the match that lit the fuse leading to this powder keg!"
The man frowned. "You will never understand, so it is useless to try and explain."
"Try us!" Syrus shouted.
"Yea…tell us your story. How did you become this way…what made you become you…tell us…Arliss."
My daddy once taught me that in this world, you have to work to get anything. Money, power, fame, glory…everything came with a price. I always thought that was a crime, since it meant to gain one thing, I lost something else. That meant that I would always be where I was. I could gain all the money in the world, yet to gain cars, homes, all that, I would have to sacrifice all of that money, leaving me poor. And to get that money, I would have to sacrifice time doing things I didn't want to do.
But then, I tell ya, one day the fates answered me. They showed me a way to get what I wanted without losing something of equal value or more. Put in a little time, and you got what you wanted. Science says it's impossible, but that's why I ain't a man of science. That's another thing my daddy said, before they hauled him away: A man of science is a man that accepts that not everything is possible..
Now, a man of faith…he can have anything, and anything is possible. What do you have faith in, you ask? Yourself. But I ramble. We southerners tend to do that. We are storytellers, and I am willing to guess that you want to hear my story, so I will get on with it.
IF you want anything, a price must be paid. My daddy said that. He just didn't realize the one loophole in that idea, the one get out of jail free card that is in that rule. Ya wanna know what it is?
Who said you had to pay the price for what you want?
"Why are we here Arlen?"
The fifteen year looked down at his little brother and smiled, ruffling his light brown hair. The color of wet sand, that is what their mom had once called it. The color of Texas desert after a rainstorm. The brothers looked a lot alike, yet were also different. Arlen was taller, which was normal, him being 5 years older and all. His hair was also longer, held in place with a ponytail. His little brother's hair was messy but still short, just sky of mullet length. His little brother also had deeper eyes, a fact Arlen reasoned was because his brother was so smart. He didn't mind that his little brother was so intelligent, far from it. He felt bad that he ever got what he should have. In any other family, Arlen's brother would have gone to special schools for gifted children, and would already have advanced several grades. Instead, they leaved out of boxcars and stowed away on boats when they needed too.
"Arlen?" The little boy asked, tugging on his brother's hand.
"Sorry little bro. We are here because Seto Kaiba is holding the big Battle City tournament here. And you know what that means, don't you?"
The boy grinned. "Marks!"
"Exactly." Arlen got on his knees. "You remember everything dad taught us?"
The little boy nodded. "Yup! Never stay in the same place. Never get greedy. Never take more then you need. Always be aware of your surroundings. If you are in doubt, get away."
Arlen nodded. "That's right. Now, I will go try and pick some pockets, you try begging for money. We'll meet back here at 4:30. If either one of us aren't here by 4:45, we will meet back here the next day a 11. If you or I are still missing, we have to assume capture and leave"
He looked at his big brother and puffed out his chest, trying to hide the sudden fear that had appeared in his eyes at the thought of losing his brother. "Ok Arlen…I will do everything you say."
"Come here kid." Arlen said, wrapping his brother in a hug. "I ain't leaving you any time soon…ok Arliss?"
"Oh Susanna, don't you cry for me, I come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee!"
Arliss smiled happily as a duelist tossed a few coins into the beaten up baseball cap he placed on the ground. He used the edge of his t-shirt to wipe some sweat from his brow, then began to sing once more. It wasn't as hot here as it had been in Texas, but the family had moved around so much that he had never really developed the southerner's ability to stand the sun.
"Georgia….Georgia…." He began, more coins dropping into his hat. He began to sing a bit louder, with more pride in his voice, when someone rushed pas him, knocking his hat aside and sending coins flying all over. "Hey!" Arliss cried out, rushing to save the precious money. He quickly crawled around on the sidewalk, desperate to save the few quarters and pennies he had earned. But the man had hit it too hard, and already Arliss could tell that over half of what he had once had was now gone, most likely fallen into a sewer drain.
He sniffed, his vision blurring. He had let Arlen down, and now his brother would have to steal more to insure they both ate…that is, if Arlen ate at all. Often, he would just give Arliss everything and let the boy have his fill. He couldn't let his brother do that again. Arlen hated stealing, that's why they had left home in the first place. But they were forced too, just to survive. Arlen should have been acting like a child that he was. Instead, he was father to his little brother, trying to protect him from the cruel world that threatened to tear the brothers apart.
Arliss stiffened his body, glaring at the strange man's retreating form. He knew Arlen would be mad about this, but he couldn't let that man get away with taking their money away from them.
The little boy scooped up his cap and gave chase after the man in the strange purple cloak, dodging the legs and limbs people and duelists as he raced as fast as he could through the crowded sidewalks of Domino. The man, though having a head start, was moving slowly, staggering along, so Arliss was making up ground rather quick. He remembered his father, and how he would walk like that after he had gotten drunk. Arliss knew from experience to be careful around people when they were like that. They were likely to strike you.
The purple-robed dude lurched around a corner into an alley, Arliss giving chase. He was closing in on his quickly, and was beginning to wonder what he would do next. He had been so obsessed with getting to the old guy that he didn't even consider what he should do. Arliss frowned, darting behind a garbage can, then to a few crates. The alley was narrow, and littered with all sorts of rubbish from the restaurant that formed one of its walls. He had no idea why the old man in the funny purple robes had come into this alley, since there was no one around and it was a dead end. With everything that was littering the pavement, it would be difficult for anyone to see towards the back of the alley.
'Maybe I can pick his pocket.' Arliss thought, looking at the strange man. 'With that tan skin and that weird tattoo on the back of his neck, he must be from out of town…probably a duelist…a duelist with cash' His brother had avoided teaching him the art of pickpocketing, but Arliss had none the less…pickpocketed a few tricks. The man was drunk, dizzy and probably confused. And he might have some cash left over from his drinking bing, more then enough to most likely cover the loss of the coins he had sent into the sewer.
Arliss grinned to himself and slowly began to creep closer to the strange man, keeping his ears open, just in case someone came to prevent him from his mission. He didn't hear anyone coming, but he did hear the man talking to himself, muttering something as he staggered around the dead end of the alley. Arliss crept closer, trying to hear what the man was babbling about.
"Please…my master…do not leave me here…." The man gasped, clutching his left arm in agony. "I beg you…please…I know you can hear me…forgive this worthless one…give me another chance…"
Arliss raised an eyebrow. Even though he was young, he had seen enough on the streets to know a crazy man when he heard one. Maybe he could just wait for the nice drunken weirdo to go to sleep…
The man was panting, his eyes screwed up. "Please Master….do not let me die in this place…"
'Die!' Arliss thought in horror. 'What….what does he mean by…' Before hte young boy could even begin to puzzle over what was happening, the strange man let out a strange exhale. It reminded Arliss of when he and his brother had been in Florida, and had gone down to the beach. They had found sea shells, and the young boy could remember the haunting sound the shells made, the strange airy sound the shells allowed him to hear. It were as if they were alive, letting out one long continuous breath. This is what Arliss heard from the strange man, before the robed stranger fell to the ground, his face twisted in pain, his body falling like a wet bag of corn.
Arliss froze, watching the man lay there, motionless. He could see the man's eyes staring back at him, but they were like marbles, no spark, no glow. He didn't know if this were some trick…some strange trap the man set because he knew Arliss had followed him into the alley.
But…if the man was hurt, Arliss couldn't leave him alone. He needed to help him out. It was the right thing to do.
Slowly, he crept away from his hiding spot, walking towards the prone figure. He licked his lips, nervously moving closer and closer to the man in the funny purple outfit, till he was standing next to him.
The man never moved.
"Mister….are you ok?" Arliss asked, reaching out and gently shaking the man's shoulder. The figure felt strange, his skin…it wasn't right. Arliss remembered when his father and him had found a dead raccoon on the side of the road. The man felt and acted just as that roadkill did… "Oh God." Arliss said, backing away out of fright. "Oh God….oh God…." He began to shake and whimper, looking around for someone, anyone to take him away from this place, from the man that would never stop staring at him, unblinking, unchanging.
But there was no one. Arliss dared not leave the alley, why, he wasn't sure, but he wouldn't. So he sat there, curled in a little ball, staring in absolute terror at the dead man. He whimpered, he prayed to God, he begged for his mommy to come say him, for Arlen to come…even for his father. For Arliss to beg for his father was enough for anyone who knew him to realize that the boy was scared out of his mind.
After a half an hour of crying, of shaking, of praying, Arliss finally managed to get control of himself and stand up, struggling to keep himself from losing his lunch. He crept closer to the dead man, looking at him. He would never know why he felt the need to do that, why he hadn't walked away. But later, he would see this as destiny itself guiding him, showing him where he needed to go.
He wouldn't look at the face, he simply couldn't do that. So he busied himself with looking at the clothing the man wore. They were purple or blue robes…it was hard to tell now in the current light. He wore black shoes and what looked like black pants under his strange outfit. His body laid crumpled on the group haphazardly, and Arliss thought in the back of his mind that it was such an uncomfortable position to be, with legs twisted and hands…
He was holding something.
Arliss…felt his hands move on their own accord, reaching out slowly, with a firmness the rest of his body lacked. He gently brushed part of the robe away, and reached down, taking ahold of the item that was still firmly clasped in the man's hands. He gave it a hard shake, the item coming free and sending Arliss tumbling onto his back. He scrambled back till he hit a wall, panting slightly. When he had finally managed to still his heart, Arliss looked down at the item he had stolen, curious to see what he had exactly taken.
IT was a book of some kind; it's cover drabby and dull. It was some kind of brown leather, the front and back stained all over so that it was hard to tell what its original color had once been. The pages were bound by twine that was frayed and seemed to be older then the book.
He gently took a hold of the cover and flipped it open, looking down at the first page. The paper on the edges was as stained and rugged as the cover, but the center of the page was still fine parchment, milky white and preserved perfectly. All over the page was written fine, delicate handwriting, thin and perfect in every such way. IT was like some delicate artwork.
Arliss began to read
Arlen ran to his brother, shaking him hard. The young boy blinked, glancing at his brother then down at the book, continuing to read.
Arlen had been walking by when he had seen him, sitting in hat alley, just the tip of his head showing from behind the corner. He had feared Arliss had been hurt and run to his little brother's aid, only to find him sitting next to a dead man and engrossed in some strange book.
"Arliss, what are you doing? You can't stay here…what if a cop found you…they'd think you had killed him…" Arlen looked down at his brother as he turned another page, not even listening. 'He must be in shock…Arliss…' Alren looked at his brother and sat down, wrapping an arm around him. "I'm sorry little brother…no one should have to see something like this. Now…let's go little brother." Arlen tugged on his brother's hand, but Arliss pulled away.
"I am fine." Arliss said, his voice calm.
Arlen's eyes went wide. "WHAT!" He screamed. "You are fine? You are sitting next to some dead freak whose wearing purple robes and reading a damned book and you say you are fine? Are you mad boy!"
Arliss slowly turned and looked at his brother, causing Arlen to pause. There was something different about Arliss, something new in his eyes. A new fire, the likes of which he had never seen before.
"No…I am saner then I have ever been Arlen." He handed the book to his brother. "And this is going to give us everything we ever desired."
Arlen looked at his brother, then the book, then his brother again, then the book one final time. He had no idea that Arliss was right, and that very soon, this book would be their bible, would be their guide to obtain all their wished for. He carefully lifted the cover, and read the first line.
'The Diary of Marik Ishtar'
Nothing is for free. Everything has a cost to be paid. Everything has a price. Sometimes, the price is small. Sometimes, it is so large that it will cost you everything you ever held dear, till it robs you of your life.
But sometimes, others will pay the price for you.
The Trailer for G/X-Hunters
(We see a 16 year old Arliss standing atop the abandoned dorm at night, looking out at the landscape. As he stands there, the wind blowing a long purple jacket around him, he begins to sing Johnny Cash's 'Hurt')
I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that's real
(We see Arliss riding his motorcycle around the academy, racing past duelists, his white jacket flapping)
The needle tears a hold
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything
(We cute back to Arliss at the dorm, the camera panning to reveal the Obelisk Blue girl's Dorm on fire. He watches as acaemy firetrucks rush to put the blaze out, a crowd gathering)
What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away
In the end
(Scene changes to Arliss dueling against someone, an attack sending him skidding back. He grunts, and summoned Mystic Swordsman Lv 2. He smiles as the monster attacks and the crowd cheers.)
And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt
(Now Arliss is watching a girl duel during the same time that Syrus was at the entrance exam. She is attacked, but just manages to win. She smiles…and the image changes to the same girl dressed as a goth, dueling against Alexis, Arliss watching her proudly, cheering her on. Flashes of other people, changing into different, darker versions of themselves, appear.)
I wear this crown of thorns
Upon my liar's chair
Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair
(We see young Arliss standing with his brother on a sidewalk, watching an older man that looks like the two of them being dragged away from them, the man screaming for them to "help daddy! Go get help for daddy!" Arliss and Arlen shake their heads turn and walk away, the man crying out for his sons.)
Beneath the stains of time
The feelings disappear
You are someone else
I am still right here
(Back at the dorm, Arliss looks down, and then lifts one foot, as if ready to leap off to his death, his eyes still staring out, the flames mirrored in his eyes as a tear runs down his cheek…)
What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away
In the end
(We see flashes of a little Arliss begging for money, of him sleeping in doorways, of him being hit by his father, of his mother sitting on her fat behind eating chocolates in a crumbling house, of sleeping in a tiny room on a cold floor, all alone.)
And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt
(The image switches to 16 year old Arliss surrounded by 6 other duelists in purple coats, all eating dinner and laughing, going over their decks, him wrapping an arm around the Goth girl and a girl that is dressed in a tank top and mini shorts, a big grin on his face)
If I could start again
A million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way
(Arliss steps back onto the roof as he finishes the song, takes a deep breath, and smiles, turning around. He takes out a small remote and presses a button, and the Obelisk Girl's dorm explodes behind him, the sounds of sirens going off and he hums happily to himself)
There is no health without pain
No happiness without despair
No light without darkness
No good without evil
There will be no victory…no salvation…no triumph. This is evil's day.