A few notes (if you hate reading author's notes, the underlined bits should contain the really important bits):

- This is set after Battle City (and goes into a different direction from there on, obviously).

- I'll be following the anime timeline for the most part, with one exception: I'll be referring the group's first confrontation with the ring spirit and the resulting events as it happened in the manga (with the Monster World game and Bakura eventually putting the ring back on in Duellist Kingdom); from there on, I'll follow the anime again.
(I would have liked to pretend both card game and monster world fight happened, because I will refer to the whole "people being stuck inside their favourite card"-thing, but that would make Yuugi and his friends look spectacularly stupid for going along with Yami Bakura's "let's compare ourselves to cards"-ploy; I'll be assuming that they know about the possibility though.)
I'll be making clear which version happened within the story as well anyway, so, just a heads-up.

- Just a quick reminder, after BC the millennium items are distributed as follows:
Yuugi: puzzle, necklace, rod, ring
Bakura: eye
Shadi: scales, key

- Pairing, or, in this case, threesome (because I am, after all, a hopeless shipper): Yami Bakura x Bakura Ryou x Malik. Neither of them shows up in this chapter, mind. Unless one of them is someone else in disguise!!!
... but they're not.
Also, some hints at others, but nothing too serious.

- The Japanese school year doesn't end with summer, but apparently there's still a pretty long summer break, so it all works out.

- Title is derived from the German expression "Flucht nach vorne".

Disclaimer: I don't own yuugiou, I don't own the characters, this is all just for the entertainment and I make no profit with it.

Chapter One

(In which Yuugi and his friends arrive in Egypt)

"Come in," Isis said softly, as she held the door open for them; worry was clearly written over her usually stoic face, and she looked around in the still scalding hot and empty street as if she was expecting to be attacked; it was late in the afternoon, and there was no-one in sight; it even looked peaceful, Anzu thought.

They entered in silence, Yuugi first, and climbed the stairs to the third floor, where they waited for Isis to take the lead again, and open the right door.

"Are you sure you have room for all of us?" Anzu asked in a whisper, trying not to sound too apprehensive; Isis had paid for two of their flight tickets, but they'd had to get the other two themselves, they hardly had the money for a longer stay in a hotel, and they had left in too much haste to look into cheaper alternatives.

Isis nodded; when she put the key into the lock, someone opened the door from the inside, making all of them jump; Rishid stood back against the wall of the corridor to let them enter, and Isis lead them to a large living room; there was a low table in the centre of it; ancient looking decorations, stone and clay statues, and likenesses of ancient carvings were placed on the walls; the room looked barely lived in, orderly and clean.

They sat down, Yuugi, Honda and Jounouchi cramped together on the sofa, Anzu and Isis on the chairs; Rishid disappeared in the adjacent kitchen and came back with a tablet with drinks, and then a second one with some cold food, like for a dinner party, and stood behind Isis' chair. There was a deep frown on his forehead.

All of it in ghostly silence. The absence of the third inhabitant of the apartment was almost palpable.

When Isis had called him less than a week ago and told him that Malik had disappeared and that they needed his and the pharaoh's help, Yuugi had immediately agreed to come, without any further information; he'd tried to dissuade his friends from coming with him – a trip to Egypt was expensive – but none of them had accepted to let him go alone, and the puzzle spirit, whose concern for the more trivial problems of daily life in the modern world was rather dim, had not been a great help. It had been hard enough for them to convince Jounouchi that they could pay for the tickets together.

At least, the call had come during the summer break: Yuugi wasn't sure his grandfather could cover for him many more times, and Honda and Anzu didn't even have a relative who was in the secret, or even just aware of the great importance of attending Duel Monster tournaments.

Jounouchi and Honda's good mood seemed to be perfectly restored by the prospect of food that wasn't aeroplane food; and even before he had finished one of the snacks himself, Yuugi was covered in bread crumbs

"Are you going to tell us what happened and how we can help you now, Isis?" Yuugi asked after a moment.

The former seer nodded.

"About a week ago –"

"Nine days," Rishid added.

"Malik didn't come home in the evening; we weren't too worried at first, even when he stayed away another whole day." She tried to repress a sigh. "It's not the first time he disappeared several days without warning us...

We thought about contacting the police on the third day – he's been gone longer before, but this time he left his motorbike..."

"Did you?"

Isis shook her head.

"I got a note in my office, demanding a ransom and warning me about calling the police –"

"You might have to do so anyway!" Anzu chimed in; "they –"

"They didn't just ask for money," Rishid interrupted. "They want the millennium rod."

"The millennium rod?" It was Yuugi's voice, only not, deeper and harsher and darker; Anzu could not help staring at her childhood friend, as often when the switch caught her off guard. "We can't give it to anyone."

His hands instinctively tightened on the case he was holding on his lap and had not left in the anteroom with their other luggage, and in which they were keeping their millennium items and the three god cards.

Other me! Yuugi protested. If it is the only way to save Malik we have to give it away!

I know. But it can't be, his other answered, and did not protest as Yuugi took back control to apologise for the harsh answer.

"But," Jounouchi began carefully, before Isis or Rishid could say anything, "he's right, isn't he? That thing is dangerous. We can find Malik!"

"How are you supposed to give it to them?" Anzu asked.

"We don't know yet – there will be further instructions. We don't know where the note came from either..."

"How can they even know you had the rod?" Jounouchi asked. "How many people are there who know about the items?"

"Anyone could have seen him use it at Battle City," Honda pointed out; "or it could be someone from his old gang getting back on him..."

He didn't say "his army of mind-slaves", even thought the expression had been on the tip of his tongue, because that would have sounded both silly and maybe rude to Isis and Rishid. It was a good guess, he thought: they had forgiven Malik for what he had done, but he wouldn't be surprised if a few people were still angry at him...

"Do you have any idea who it could be, and how they could know about the items?" Yuugi asked softly.

"No." Isis paused for a moment. "Of course," she continued, with a brief side glance at Rishid, "the pharaoh is right: giving up the rod is dangerous, and we are certainly not asking you to –"

"We don't need to give it up," the other Yuugi interrupted, and crossed his arms. "The items can only be won or given, not stolen or obtained through blackmail. We meet this person and confront them; if they want the rod, they cannot refuse to duel for it."

Isis seemed relieved.

"We were also hoping that if you have to give up the rod, we might still track them with the ring, if you know how to use it..."

There was a silence as the four friends exchanged uneasy glances.

"I'm sorry but – that won't be possible," Yuugi eventually said.


"Because the ring has been stolen."

A stunned silence followed that revelation; Yuugi, ashamed, searched his friends' eyes for comfort: he had been supposed to guard the items. He didn't know why, but they too were important for his other: if they didn't find it again, and it was because of him...

It's not your fault! the spirit fiercely snapped in his head, almost angry.

With only a few syllables behind, Anzu said exactly the same, aloud; Yuugi grinned.

"Yeah," Jounouchi added, catching on, while Honda just nodded confidently, thought they had no idea whether Yuugi could have done anything, as their friend had not yet told them how the ring had been lost, and after Anzu had smacked both of them over the head, they had decided to leave this upsetting subject for later.

"What happened?" Isis asked curiously; she didn't look reproachful either; if anything, she sounded as if she was holding an impersonal interest in what was happening to the items.

"I don't know," Yuugi said slowly; "it just, disappeared, two weeks ago. Overnight, or in the morning. I don't know how; no-one seems to have broken in, nothing else disappeared..."

Another silence, but this one uncomfortable, dragging out way too long, and fragile, and Honda's voice sounded painfully harsh when he finally broke it:

"Do any of you know where Bakura is?"

This time, no-one met anyone's eyes.

I thought we should have investigated further, Yami murmured to his partner.

But how? Break into his apartment? We can't do that. We couldn't have closed it again, and why would he have left traces?

I wasn't criticising you, aibou. I should have tried...

Don't blame yourself.

I'm sorry. I shouldn't be adding to your –

"He said he was going on a summer camp over the holidays," Anzu finally remembered with a frown.

"A summer camp?" Honda repeated, unbelieving. "Bakura?"

"It's not like it's impossible..."

"But it can't be that freak?" Jounouchi asked, not as much confident as hoping for confirmation that this was a ridiculous idea. "He was sent to the shadow realms by Malik's dark side!"

"So were you and Mai..." Yuugi said carefully. "And Bakura-kun himself."

He glanced up at Isis and Rishid for help.

"And the ring seems to be getting back to him on its own..." Honda added darkly.

"I don't think it's impossible," Isis agreed. "I'm afraid we know very little about the five that were not left with us..."

"But it was stolen when we still had school!" Jounouchi protested. "We saw Bakura afterwards. We would have noticed if he was there..." He looked at the others for confirmation. "Right?"

Honda still had his grim expression in place. Yuugi twisted his hands on his lap nervously.

"So... No-one knows where exactly he is?"

Everybody shook their head; then Jounouchi spoke up, uncharacteristically cautious:

"I think – well, maybe..." He coughed. "Do any of you know if there's one of these conventions again? About the occult and... stuff like that...?"

Anzu blinked at him.

"He would have told us if that's where he's going."

"Well... maybe... You see, last time I sort of... freaked out at him...?"

Anzu narrowed her eyes at him.

"What did you do?"

"I just – look, I'm sorry, but – c'mon, it's weird. You'd think he's had enough of spirits and things like that. I didn't mean to upset him..."

"But you did," Honda concluded very diplomatically.

"I guess..." Jounouchi answered lamely, and cringed under Anzu's severe gaze. "I'm sorry..."

"Even if that's why he didn't tell us, it's not all your fault," Yuugi said gently. "Bakura always liked to keep to himself."

The thief always liked to keep to himself, Yami argued silently.

You didn't know Bakura before he had the ring.

Neither did you.

"He's the son of the director of Domino Museum?" Isis interrupted. "Maybe I can find out where his father is, and how to join him?"

"That would be great!"

Yuugi beamed at her. Isis stood briskly and left the room. Rishid looked after her with concern.

"But the kidnapper only asked for the rod..." Honda eventually broke the silence. "They must have thought you – " here he motioned Rishid with his head. "- still have it. And Bakura knows we have the necklace and the puzzle as well...?"

"What if the same person who's after the ring – " Anzu began worriedly, then interrupted herself. " – no, you kept the items together, they could just have taken the rod..."

"And everyone who knows anything about the items knows about the puzzle..."

"And Kaiba broadcasted the Battle City duels, they might have seen any of the items there."

"Kaiba!" Anzu said briskly, in a loud, lively voice that made Yuugi jump next to her. "He could help us find out where the call came from!"

(end of chapter one.)

Confusing? Boring? Awesome? Horrible? Something in-between? Glaring mistakes I missed?

Any comments would be appreciated! ;)

The next chapter, unsurprisingly, is the one in which Seto Kaiba gets contacted. He's not happy about it.