Disclaimer – I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh; hence it being FANfiction.

Deteriorating

Connections

The console scanned Kaiba's retina.

'Match found: Seto Kaiba. Voice verification required, please state password.'

'What is a picnic table?' Kaiba responds and the door opens.

'What the hell kinda password is that?' Joey asks. Kaiba neglects to answer; he's got more important things on his mind than to be explaining the logic of his top secret access codes.

In the room there are four humming machines. Joey walks over to one and glances into it. He jumps back in horror.

'That's Yugi!' He shouts. Kaiba sighs.

'Why did you think I asked you here? I can assure you it was not for my own amusement.' He replies. 'The others contain Pegasus, Weevil Underwood and Mokuba.'

'Why have you got them frozen? Un-freeze them now!' Joey demands and when Kaiba shakes his head he lunges at him. Kaiba dodges easily and taps his foot as Joey glares up at him from the floor.

'If I un-freeze them there is a high chance that they'll die.' He walks over to Mokuba's pod and rests his hand on it.

'What's the matter with them? I saw Yugi last week and he seemed fine.'

'I'm not entirely sure. It's a type of degenerative disease; a breakdown of the body caused by a living organism from the shadow realm.'

'The shadow realm? Then why aren't you suffering or me? I've duelled in the shadow realm more than once.' Joey says. Kaiba nods.

'But, unlike Pegasus and Yugi, you've never used a millennium item.' He replies. 'I think their proximity to the items is what made them more susceptible.'

'But Mokuba and Weevil don't have items.' Joey protests. Again Kaiba nods, he's been expecting these questions and hates not having all the answers.

'They've both been directly affected but a millennium item at some point. I'm not sure why it got them; maybe their age makes them more vulnerable.'

'But didn't you use Pegasus' eye for a while. How come you're not suffering?' Joey asks.

'Natural resilience? I'm not sure.'

'Or maybe you're such an ass that the shadow realm doesn't want you either.' Joey laughs. Kaiba rounds on Joey and it takes all of his restraint to speak calmly.

'Look, do you want to help or shall I have security escort you off my property?' He threatens. Joey is silenced immediately.

'What can I do?' He asks.

'Come with me.' Kaiba turns from the room. Joey takes another look at Yugi before he goes.

'I'll help you, bud, I promise.'

In his office Kaiba gestures for Joey to sit.

'What are we doing here?' Joey asks. Kaiba slams a metal briefcase down onto his desk.

'Can't you be patient? I'm just about to explain.' He says and opens the briefcase in front of Joey to reveal a single duel monsters card.

'That's the blue eyes shining dragon.' Joey says in awe.

'Pegasus gave it to me. It seems to form some sort of connection between us. I believe that it is due to the fact that we both used the millennium eye.' Joey eyes the card dubiously.

'What kind of connection?' He asks.

'When I touch it I can hear Pegasus' thoughts and he can hear mine.' Kaiba explains and his distaste at this connection is evident in his tone.

'I thought that he was frozen?'

'The cryogenic chambers only freeze the body. Because this disease comes from the shadow realm it seems as though their souls are still aware of time and space. Effectively they are in a world parallel to ours but infinitely more dangerous. If they die there they will die here. Their bodies will be alive but they will be brain-dead.' Kaiba said this last bit with something like sadness.

'What can we do? It's not like we can fight this disease physically. It's not a duelling opponent.' Joey asks.

'Actually,' Kaiba corrects him, 'it seems like we can. From what I gathered from Pegasus they are travelling towards the main body of the virus. At their destination they need to be met with their physical bodies or they won't be able to return from the shadow realm.'

'So you're gonna cart around their frozen bodies wherever Pegasus tells you to go until they've fought this virus thing? What do you want me to do?'

'There should be a physical manifestation of the virus in this world. You can help me fight it.'

'Why me?' Joey asks.

'You're an adequate duellist.' Kaiba says and Joey is about to interrupt and adjust the adjective when Kaiba continues. 'And because I need someone I can trust.'

'Well, I don't trust you.' Joey responds.

'Listen mutt, that can't be helped. The only person who trusts me is downstairs in one of those chambers. I'm only doing this to get Mokuba back. I assumed, with all your sickening speeches on friendship, you'd want to help Yugi anyway.'

'Fine.' Joey nods. 'I may not like you Kaiba but sometimes you make a lot of sense.' Kaiba sighs. Explaining things to Joey is an uphill struggle. 'Where are they now?'

'I don't know.'

'Well, ask Pegasus.' Joey urges. Kaiba is reluctant to touch the card. 'What are you waiting for? Hurry up.'

'I don't know what you think, 'Kaiba says, 'but being in Pegasus' mind isn't exactly my idea of fun.'

'Do you want Mokuba back or not?' Damn, Kaiba hated it when people used his own words against him. He picks up the card.

Why hello, Kaiba boy, what are you doing here?

We're ready. What's your position?

Well, if you must know, I'm standing. Pegasus laughs. He loves messing with the boy's mind.

Be serious, Pegasus. I'm not in the mood for your games.

Oh, fine. We're 3.6 miles due north from point zero. Kaiba took note of their location.

How is Mokuba?

He's doing well. We all are, thanks for asking, in fact I'd say I feel the best I've felt in months.

'Kaiba, get him to tell Yugi that I'll be there at the end.' Joey says.

Tell Yugi that Wheeler's here too.

I am not a messenger service, Kaiba boy.

I don't like it either but seeing as how we're going to be communicating like this for a while I think that everyone should be informed of the situation from the start.

Ever the forward thinker; you know you really should relax, maybe take a holiday. I know this nice little place in Malibu…

Pegasus' sentence is cut off as Kaiba drops the card.

'What did big brother say?' Mokuba asks.

'They'll be here soon. Well, the other side of here.'

'What do you mean 'they'?' Yugi asks. Pegasus sits down on a nearby mile marker.

'Your little friend Joey is with him.' He explains.

'Did Kaiba say if Joey has the disease?' Pegasus shakes his head.

'Afraid not, Yugi-boy, we'll just have to wait until he wants to talk to me again.' Yugi frowns.

'I don't know what you said to him but he wouldn't end the conversation if you were being nice.' Mokuba insists. Pegasus looks mildly surprised.

'I was being nice.' He replies. 'I was on my best behaviour. Your brother just needs a lesson or two in politeness.' Weevil pushes off from the tree he's leaning against.

'Why are we even waiting for them?' He yells. 'We could be there in a couple of days if we didn't keep stopping.' He points to a large black mass in the distance. Pegasus shakes his head exasperatedly.

'Kaiba-boy's doing us a big favour, Underwood. I don't know about you but I'd like a body to go back to.' He laughs; simpletons are such fun but can be a bit trying at times. He wished that Kaiba would hurry up.