Disclaimer: I don't own Yugioh. Did you really think I did?

A/N: This will be quite a bit longer than my previous stories. I also plan to update more often, since I really want to get this done by the time school starts. Preferably by the end of July, but I don't think that's an option anymore, so bear with me. Also please note that I am not a professional in any way, shape, or form, and I may make factual errors. Please be kind.

Prologue: Departures

Few words have the innate power to terrify people like the word "fraction."

-W. Michael Kelly

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Algebra

"Algebra," Yugi sighed, "makes my eyes itch." He put his head down on the desk in his room and shoved his homework as far away as it would go.

This turned out to be the floor.

"Maybe you're just tired," Yami put in. The spectral form of the ancient pharaoh was lounging against the window, through which the oppressively black sky could be seen. It was late, and school wasn't out for the summer quite yet.

"Algebra always makes my eyes itch," Yugi mumbled, his words muffled by the desktop.

"I thought you liked algebra. Though I must admit, I can't figure out why."

Yugi stood and picked up the book. "I hate algebra," he said wearily, stuffing it into his bookbag. "It's pointless and complicated."

"Then I'm glad I don't have to know it," Yami remarked, raising an eyebrow.

"Oh, be quiet." Yugi sank onto the bed and rubbed his eyes.

"I will not." Yami suddenly sounded serious. "I need to talk to you."

"Can't it wait until tomorrow? Like, during algebra?"

Yami ignored the last part. "It can't wait until tomorrow because I plan to leave tomorrow."

"Leave?" This got Yugi's attention. "Where are we going?"

"Not us, Yugi. Just me."

Yugi opened his mouth and closed it again, and Yami took advantage of his silence. "I've decided it's high time I gained a body of my own. I'm leaving for the Shadow Realm in the morning."

What? Yugi was having a hard time processing information. "The Shadow Realm? How would that work? And why do you – "

Yami held up a hand, effectively silencing him again. "It will be better this way. If I have my own body, I won't have to keep putting you and your friends in danger." He knew Yugi wouldn't argue with the part about his friends.

Sure enough, Yugi scowled at him. "That's not fair," he muttered. At Yami's stern look he sighed. "Okay. I'm not giving in, but how would you do this, anyway?"

"The Shadow Realm," Yami explained, "is a law unto itself. It had a certain authority in our world, as well as the world of the monsters, although it doesn't usually get involved. It can give me a body. The question is whether or not it will."

"But why now?" Yugi wanted to know. "Why not, say, a year ago?"

"Because I didn't realize it was a possibility a year ago."

Yugi's expression cleared. "You've been exploring your mind again."

"Yes." Yami grimaced. "Such a complicated place it is."

"You," Yugi said in an affected tone, "are a complicated person."

"Because my mind is so complicated."

"That too. Now about this supposed quest – "


"Yes?" Yugi looked at the spirit, all wide eyes and innocence.

"Stop. I leave in the morning."

"I was going to say, how would you ask the Shadow Realm for help?"

"Oh." Yami relaxed against the windowsill. "It's simple, really. The Realm knows who enters and who leaves. If it deems me worthy of an audience, it will grant me one."

"You can't just wander around the Shadow Realm by yourself," Yugi pointed out practically. "It's dangerous."

"Not that dangerous. I can protect myself."

"But . . . it could take weeks, couldn't it?"

"Yugi. Listen to me. It is a risk, but it's my risk. Not your risk. Not Joey's, or Tea's, or Tristan's." Yami stared hard at the boy, willing him to understand.

Yugi sighed, weighing the Puzzle in both hands. "Please, be careful."

"I intend to keep myself safe, thank you." Yami straightened up and rested a hand on Yugi's shoulder. "I'll see you when I get back."

"It might not work anyway, right?" Yugi asked hopefully.

"That's right." Yami suddenly remembered, helped along by Yugi's wide yawn, how late it was. He released his shoulder. "Good night, Yugi."

"Good night."

Some time later, after Yami had retired to the Puzzle room, Yugi thought of something. /Hey, Pharaoh./


/If you get a body of your own, you might have to know algebra./

A groan came over the link. /Go to sleep, Yugi./

One week later

Seto Kaiba was angry. No, that wasn't right. Seto was purely, simply furious.

"Tell me your name again," he growled at the woman in front of him. She looked to be a few years older than he, though he had a good six inches on her. The man behind him, on the other hand –

There was someone there, half-hidden in the shadows. Seto felt sure of this, and equally sure that he was not supposed to know. There were probably more: one he could have taken care of, but he did not dare strike without proper knowledge.

"Cintya," said the woman, infuriatingly patient. "Cintya Kabat."

"Kabat. Let me speak to your boss. I'm sure she can be – ah – persuaded to – "

"Madam Echeverria is busy at the moment," she interrupted. "If you have any questions I will be happy to –"

"Of course I have questions!" he barked, making her jump. "I flew out here in the middle of the night and all you've told me is your name and 'no'!"

She flinched as he all but spat the last words but did not back away, instead launching into a speech that sounded prepared. "You need not worry about your brother; he will be kept safe and taken care of until you manage to defeat Madam Echeverria and myself in a tag-team double duel – "

"I'm alone here, in case you hadn't noticed."

Exasperation flared in her eyes. "Patience, Mr. Kaiba," she snapped.

Startled, Seto took an involuntary step back. She looked just as shocked at her own outburst but quickly recovered her composure.

"Mr. Kaiba, please be patient; I'm getting there. The duel shall take place under the following conditions: that if you are the victor, you brother will be returned to you unharmed and you will be allowed to leave; that if you are defeated, control of KaibaCorporation will be given over to Madam Echeverria – "

"What about Mokuba?" Seto interrupted.

" – and then you and your brother will be allowed to leave." A flutter passed over her face, as though she didn't like what she was saying.

Bait, Seto thought in disgust. "I'm still waiting for the part about the tag-team."

"Oh, that." Cintya laughed nervously, as though she knew what she was about to say was slightly ridiculous. "You will be given time to contact a partner and for him – or her – to get here. We will provide transportation."

She was still smiling, but Seto did not find the situation the least bit amusing. "How about I simply duel Echeverria one on one?"

"I'm afraid that isn't an option."

"I'm afraid that wasn't a suggestion, Kabat."



She scowled at him, transforming her expression to confident. "My orders, sir, come directly from Madam Echeverria. You are no longer in Domino where you command respect. In fact, you are no longer in Japan at all. You are in China – not in any city or even town, I might add – and while you are here, the word of Massimina Echeverria is law."

TBC . . .

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