Title: Mind Control
Summary: This is what would become of her world should he win. Illusionshipping MaixMarik.
Disclaimer: I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh!
Notes: Written for Compy's YGO Contest Round Six. This is the third of my soul room stories, so this is set in the same 'universe' as Memento and Mind Games, although you don't have to have read those to understand the events of this story. Remember, Mai stays on the blimp through the entire battle city finals, while everyone else is in the virtual world. //Text// describes canon events.
//It was dark, too dark. He had said they were in the shadow realm, that there was much more to this duel than she had ever realized. Marik. She knew who he was.
It was cruel that she saw him so clearly when everyone else, her so-called friends, were mere glimmers in the shadows, voices without presence or form. He reminded her of this with every turn. As each of her monsters was destroyed, her memories of each friend faded with them. She could hear voices calling out to her, but she couldn't see them. Marik had told her that everything in their shadow game was real. What was real? Were they really gone? Yugi had tried to help her, but this was her duel, to win or to lose. She steeled herself and prepared to draw her next card. She had to defeat him.
She had not been scared when the fog cleared and he made his way towards her.
She was terrified.
Yugi, Jounouchi, they were tossed aside so easily. What would be her Fate…?
He tilted her chin up so she was forced to look him in the eye. "I believe you still have my Winged Dragon of Ra." Kujaku Mai was a fool to think she could face off against him without harm. But what good is pain branded so that everyone can see? Pain, Real pain, plagued the mind, the soul…
"You lost our shadow game, my dear," and his voice cut through her consciousness, forcibly reminding her that it was over, she would have to pay. She closed one set of eyes and opened another, and found herself trapped within walls of glass. //
Mai was surrounded by sand, water and air, and had never been here before. She still wasn't quite sure where here was, but she wasn't alone. By the water's edge was a group of six about her own age. Playing on the beach and in the water, they seemed to be enjoying themselves.
She wanted to join them (whoever they were), but found that she couldn't. Something was keeping her here, a prison of glass—
Three sloping sides, forming a pyramid. She was trapped, and above her, in a reflection of her cage there was—
Something about it pulsed and she now knew that this was no normal hourglass. As if it knew that she knew—what she knew—the top of it opened and sand began to pour in.
Nothing good would come of this.
Mai raised her fists and began pounding on the glass, shouting out to the group of five to save her; she would do anything to be free—but they gave no indication that they had even heard her pleas. They kept on playing, splashing each other in the water. Two were on the beach forming a castle of sand.
She kept pounding on the wall until her fists started to sting, wishing that she knew the right thing to say to the four in the water below her. Perhaps if she had a name, any of their names, they could hear her. Why couldn't they hear her? What did it take to make them listen?
The sand was already at her thigh and as she crouched in the small hourglass she knew that there was nothing she could do. She didn't have any friends to come save her.
She was all alone. She had always been alone.
The sand reached her elbow and it was heavy; she felt like she would drown in the grains of sand that filled her glass prison. The stinging feeling reached her eyes and angrily she brushed any moisture away, sand irritating the eyes that she wished to soothe.
There was one person standing alone on the beach, if only he would just look up; notice me, I'm right here; she opened her mouth to call out and swallowed a mouthful of sand. It was too late. She was alone.
There was somebody else! Had he been here this whole time, watching her, enjoying her torment—
The man who put her here laughed as the sands covered her eyes, her mind was completely in the shadows now, her soul had no defense, and it was almost too easy. Slowly, with no regard for the woman in the hourglass, he raised his Millennium Rod and vanished into the shadows.
I awoke instantly and suddenly, the way I do sometimes when I have a bad dream. There was light yet there was no source, and I blinked slowly, my eyelids heavy as if I had been asleep for some time. I was lying in a bed, in what I knew to be my room on the blimp. Whose blimp…? My brain felt fuzzy, as if I knew I had forgotten something but I wasn't sure what it was. I couldn't see past the shadows.
My purple jacket was folded neatly on a chair and I put it on for something to do. Questions swirled around in my mind: How did I get back here from the dueling arena? Who knew I was here? (Who did I know? Was anyone coming for me?)
Only two names floated to the surface. Kujaku Mai and—
"So happy to know that you, at least, know who I am." His lips curled upwards into a twisted grimace; it was as if he didn't know how to smile. "Can you remember anyone else?"
One step back, then another. Shoulders squared; look like you're in control, as I had always done.
If it was even possible, his face became more twisted, his slash of a mouth splitting his face in two. "Perfect."
What was he talking about? "Oh yeah? What do you know?"
"The terms of a shadow game must be met," he mused, his gaze not directed on me at all but towards his Millennium Rod, "and it appears you are completely reliant on me. I told you that you would forget all about your friends, who aren't here in mind anyways, but it appears that has no bearing on enemies—"
"What do you want?" I ground out the words as if it hurt to say them, though what I didn't say remained as painfully obvious. What do you want with me? The duel was over, I lost, move on—
"Simple. You woke up and I'm bored. We're alone on the blimp." He uncrossed his arms, letting me see the Rod glinting in the weak light. "Really, it's not like you have a choice in the matter. If you like, we can pretend that there is something you can do about it, but I'd much rather get on with things. I have so much planned for—"
Forget that. I was not about to hear how I was going to be cooked and fed to this monster. I was closer to the door, hanging half-open on its hinges, and took the opportunity to dart through and get the hell away from him.
"Really, why do they always run?"
I was already gone.
Keep moving, put one foot in front of the other, and don't look back.
I chanted it as if my life depended on it. As if following instructions would save me now.
Where would I go? I was in a blimp headed towards an island, there was only so far I could run. Part of me wanted to turn around and face him, to fight against this madness. Another part of me screamed to keep running, to hide, to go back to sleep—
Common room, kitchen, hallways lined with room after room, I passed them all. My endurance was flagging but I couldn't slow down, I wouldn't. I threw open a door and found myself in a large room with TV monitors and a large machine shaped like a Blue-eyes White Dragon in its center. Everything looked odd; the monitors showed images of static on their screens and the room's contents looked as if everything had been suddenly abandoned.
Where is everyone? I wanted to shout, but I wasn't stupid enough to give myself away like that. There had to be someone else here, I couldn't be—
Damn, where was he?
"I don't know why you're so surprised. You should be used to it by now. My dear, you have always been alone."
He was nowhere but he seemed to be everywhere, all at once, and I wished, not for the first time, that everything could just slow down and stay in the light, away from darkness and shadow games and Ancient Egyptian objects with great and terrible powers…
"You can't deny it. Has there ever been someone you called a friend? Think hard, now." I heard him laugh but I still couldn't see him, it was too dark—
"You have no friends. You only have me." I could almost hear him smirk. "That is why we can't forget about each other. You and me, Mai… we are alone."
All of a sudden it was entirely too dark, the only light coming from the TV monitors as they crackled with static. I turned to where he should be, he must have thrown the switch, but he was right, I was alone.
As if they agreed with my thoughts, the monitors flickered to life.
My hands flew to my mouth, a rather ladylike gesture completely inappropriate for this moment.
What do you do when your thoughts, your memories, play out on a screen in front of you?
No, no, NO!
(I was young, barely even a little girl, and I was alone)
This is not possible! This is not rational. How could he know, he'd have to see into my mind—
The sound of hands clapping together jolted me from this horrific display.
(I was older, a teenager, and I was alone)
"Brava, my dear." His voice was like silk on sandpaper, seemingly harmless but when you got too close it hurt. "I know everything about you. You really are a fascinating subject. You provided me with a nice little challenge."
(I was older still, working on a boat, and I was alone)
"Some people say that all good things have to come to an end."
His hands were cold, gripping my arms so tightly and suddenly that bruises would surely follow his fingerprints.
I didn't cry out. Who would hear me?
"This doesn't have to end, my dear. You are alone, and I am alone, but we can be alone…together." I could feel his breath on the back of my neck and couldn't help but shiver.
"I watched you duel, and you have talent," he whispered into my ear, his own bangs brushing against my cheek. "You managed to take my Winged Dragon of Ra from me, even if you couldn't use it. Join the Rare Hunters. I could use someone like you; after all, this pathetic excuse for a tournament destroyed much of my organization. You would be second only to me, and with the Cards I am about to win, nothing would stop us from claiming ultimate power! The entire world would lie down at our feet. From power comes strength, my dear, and there would be no one with the strength to stand in our way!"
"But that's not right… taking power… taking control, that's evil." I couldn't move from his grasp; it was like he could drain my strength simply by touching me.
"Forget your ideas of good and evil. There is only power and those too weak to use it. There is strength in you that could only be attained by being alone. The strong crush the weak. That is the natural order of things."
His voice was almost as persuasive as the dangerous Item tucked into his belt. His fingers flexed, several knuckles cracking as his hands moved upwards to grip my shoulders. A lock of hair was trapped between his hand and my skin, forcing my head to tilt towards him. A part of me wanted to cry out; stop it, this is wrong, but another part wondered what would become of me if I refused him.
The taste of power is sweet, and one that I'd almost forgotten.
Do you know what you're offering me?
There was a time that I thirsted for power with every breath. I wanted to be a champion; I wanted to be that one on the top of the pyramid. What else was there to live for? What else could there possibly be? I couldn't remember. It didn't exist.
(I was in a duel, and I was alone)
It felt like some of the haze surrounding my brain had cleared, everything was different now. You can't duel by yourself! I couldn't be alone! These may be my memories, but they must have been altered, twisted somehow.
What has he done to me?
This charade has gone on long enough! "I duel so that I won't be alone! I had friends, I know I wasn't alone and I won't let you take anything else from me!"
I lifted my leg and drove my high-heeled purple Jimmy Choos into Marik's right foot. He yelled and released me; I stumbled once, righted myself and took off. I heard him laugh darkly—this was almost too easy. What if he let me leave? (For as long as I'd been alone I'd always been in control; there is still hope, there has to be something—)
The only way to go now was up.
I reached the top of the stairwell fairly quickly, climbing the steps two at a time. I wasn't sure what I was going to do once I got there, but the dueling arena seemed like as good a place as any to make my last stand.
I pulled the doorknob and…
It wouldn't open! It was almost like the door didn't exist. I sure hadn't ever used it before—but it seemed like a better idea than the elevator; this was an emergency! I twisted the knob to the left and threw my shoulder against the door.
It swung open and I ran over the threshold without even looking at what I had just run into.
Torment and Pain.
The full force of it struck me, even though there wasn't anything physically there. I doubled over, wheezing and coughing, drawing in more of the ether which seemed to cause more pain than healing. Where was I? I had left the blimp, and wandered into something far more dangerous—
I was on the deck, the dueling arena before me, but this didn't look right. Everything felt hopeless; there was nothing, was never anything and never would be—
It was dark, and the fog swirling around the floor carried with it an acrid smell, as if I were underground. This couldn't be…
"You seemed to have found yourself in quite over your head now," and he was there, on the deck, Item in hand pointed menacingly at me as he cleared the distance between us, "for you're in my domain, and here I make the rules. There is only one you need to worry about."
His voice was too even, too calm, everything he wasn't. It betrayed his inner fury. Back on the blimp, if it even was a blimp, I didn't know how good I had it. My chest heaved with the exertion of climbing up the stairs; I was in no state to go anywhere now.
"You think you're awake right now? You think any of this is real?" His laugh was low, and dark. The Item glowed like some twisted lighthouse beacon, and as I twisted to get away from the light which would surely doom me to the rocks, suddenly every muscle in my body froze.
No feeling. No body. No control.
No where to go.
I could only watch helplessly as he circled around my frozen form, eyeing me as if I was some sort of prize on display.
"Oh, you are," and the hand holding the Item flexed, slowly, making sure I could see it, "I never took your rarest card when I won the duel. What I wanted, what I will claim… is you." He brought the Item up to my temple and for one fleeting second I was glad I couldn't feel anything as he dragged it down the side of my face, bit by bit, until it rested underneath my chin. He leaned in to me until all I could see was the Item and him.
Stop it, what are you doing, this is against the rules— (what rules?)
"You lost…to me. You are mine, my dear."
I was hanging by a thread and with every word he said it split in two. I'm not sure how much longer it can fray and still be strong enough—
"Where were we? Ah…yes. You never woke up. You're still unconscious, lying asleep in the hospital bed. I used my Millennium Rod to enter your mind, and what a grand defense your mind put up! It is rather impressive that your mind was able to replicate our surroundings here, but it was easy to turn it to my advantage. You thought you had broken free from my mind control, but you're further in now than you ever were. But that fun is behind us. This is the main event." Suddenly his other hand shot out and wrapped around my neck.
"You think this is an illusion? This may be in your mind, your soul, but all of this is real!" The hand that was wrapped around my neck squeezed. Suddenly, the pressure eased; his fingers moving almost softly over the tender skin. What good it did. I felt nothing. I was hollow. Whether I was alone or not before no longer mattered, I knew now for sure that I was—
"…Why… are you doing this?"
I was dragged over to the side of the deck and forced to look into the chasms beyond the blimp. It was dark with swirls of murky black and purple fog, yet off in the distance I could see flashes of lightning. Was this the Shadow Realm? Black and purple… oddly enough, I looked like I belonged there. Roughly, he pulled me back, closer to him, and I could see his eyes, wide with the power that was just outside his grasp. He must not be allowed to win. This is what would become of the world should he win.
Slowly, agonizingly so, he raised me up.
"Because I can."
He released me and I fell, over the railing of the deck, beyond the blimp and into the shadows below, where nothing of my own creation could save me now. I could faintly see him standing on the blimp and as the Item flashed in the darkness I had control once more—
I closed my eyes.