Author's note: This fic is an AU fic, picking up where the Yu-Gi-Oh: Reshef of Destruction game left off, since I wanted to do something with the rather unresolved ending. As such, there are major spoilers for the game's ending. Also, this fic does not fit into my mystery timeline, as it is AU. And, as always, the characters aren't mine, but the story is.
All eyes turned to the great, glowing beast as it roared, refusing to admit defeat. The white-haired man gasped in pain, clutching at his chest.
"What's happening…!?" Yugi cried, watching as Atem was temporarily in control of his physical form.
"Pegasus…?" Yami Yugi asked, shocked. "Pegasus, are you alright…!?"
"No…" Pegasus replied, his face gaunt as he realized the true horror of what was happening to him. It was as though clawed hands were squeezing his entire body… Reshef wasn't just trying to get a grip on his mind again—it was trying to gain entry into his very spirit. "It… it's trying to get in…"
Seto's eyebrows arched, about to ask what on earth he was talking about, but he was cut off by Ishizu's shrill gasp.
"Reshef is going to return—through Pegasus's very life force!" she exclaimed.
"Oh, man…!" Joey yelped. "We've gotta stop it…!"
"And just how do you propose to do that…?" Seto asked, frowning. And was this even for real…?
"There's only one way…" said Pegasus, falling to one knee. Reshef's grip was squeezing tighter and tighter; it was unbearable! "If I'm the gate that's letting the monster out, you need to seal the gate along with the monster…! The Egyptian God Cards will be able to pull it off…!"
Yugi's eyes widened.
"We won't!" he cried, as the Millennium Puzzle flashed, putting him in control of his body again. "We won't sacrifice you, Pegasus! There has to be another way!"
Pegasus looked up at Yugi with his good eye, and a wan smile crossed his face.
"You always try to look on the bright side of life, don't you, Yugi-boy?" he asked. He winced, involuntarily as the pain increased tenfold. "But it's the only way… I… I don't think…" He gagged. "I don't think my body or spirit will survive anyway…"
"Pegasus…" Yugi said, in disbelief. He then glared at the large creature in the background, its glow increasing as its grip on Pegasus grew stronger. "Let him go! He's done nothing to you!"
Seto hissed as the entire castle began to shake, and Pegasus gasped in pain.
"We need to get out of here, Yugi!" the young brunet CEO ordered.
"Now… please…!" Pegasus pleaded. "There's no more time…!"
"I won't let Reshef do this to you!" Yugi responded. "You're coming back to Domino with us!"
"Yugi…" said Ishizu, softly. "There is no other choice…"
"There has to be!" Yugi cried. "There has to be!"
"There isn't!" Seto hissed. He was not going to wait any longer. "Obelisk, attack!"
"Kaiba, don't!" Yugi pleaded. His cries fell on deaf ears as the large blue behemoth emerged from its card. He further cried in protest as the Millennium Puzzle glowed, and Atem was once again in control.
"Summon Slifer and Ra," Seto ordered, turning to glare at Yami Yugi. "Obelisk can't hold him off on his own, and I have a life to return to!"
But Atem found himself being held back by his present-day counterpart.
"Pharaoh, you can't go through with this!" Yugi cried to his soul partner. There had to be some other way…! "You can't!"
Pegasus was about to reply, but was silenced by the pain.
"Yugi…" the Pharaoh replied, slowly and solemnly. "I'm sorry. There is no other way; we won't be able to save Pegasus if Reshef fully merges with his spirit—look at him now! Perhaps, the Shadow Realm might be the only thing able to keep him alive…" He swallowed hard, not daring to look at the horrified expression on Yugi's face. "Slifer! Ra! Attack!"
"You can't do this!" Yugi screamed. But the two other Egyptian Gods emerged from their cards, joining Obelisk. "STOP!"
Pegasus vanished along with Reshef in the blinding light of the attack, and Yugi could hear the older man's last words—a longing whisper:
"Cecelia… I'm so sorry…"
"No…" Yugi gasped. And then his voice cried out as the harsh reality of the situation fell on him—Pegasus was gone. They had failed him. "NO!"
Yugi wiped the cold sweat from his face. He had expected to revisit the final battle in his dreams, but not so soon… and in such great detail.
Atem's spectral form emerged from the Millennium Puzzle.
"Yugi?" he asked, concerned. "Are you alright, Yugi?"
Yugi just glanced at the ancient spirit with haunted eyes.
"Why…?" he asked. "Why did you seal him in the Shadow Realm…?"
The Pharaoh sighed deeply. Yugi would probably never forgive him or Seto Kaiba for sealing Pegasus away. Yugi probably blamed himself for not being able to think up an idea that would've resulted in Reshef being sealed away while saving Pegasus.
"Yugi… Pegasus was dying because of Reshef trying to bond with his soul…" Atem said.
"There could've been a way to break the bond…" said Yugi, staring at the Millennium Puzzle. All that ancient magic, and he hadn't been able to free Pegasus?
"Perhaps there could have been," Atem admitted. "But we didn't have time. Pegasus probably would have died, and his soul would have been used by Reshef."
"So now he's alive in the Shadow Realm…" Yugi said. "He's no better off."
"At least he is alive," Atem said. Or, at least, he hoped so. He did not want to tell Yugi that it was possible that they had been too late, and that Pegasus was dead, with his spirit forced to wander the Shadow Realm forever. The Pharaoh couldn't find any confirmation as to what Pegasus' ultimate fate had been. He only knew that his soul would now be useless to Reshef. But that still didn't ensure that Reshef wouldn't torment him anyway.
But his thoughts were not hidden from his counterpart.
"You think it's hopeless, don't you…?" asked Yugi. "You don't think he's going to be alright…"
"If he does not survive, at least he dies a free man," said Atem.
"But if he's in the Shadow Realm… he'll never see Cecelia's spirit again," said Yugi. "Isn't there anything we can do?"
"At the moment, I'm afraid not…" said the Pharaoh, truthfully. "There's no way of knowing what condition he's in, and if Reshef will stop us the moment we try anything. An opening to our world is all Reshef would need to start his plot all over again and put more souls in danger."
Yugi looked away. Of course, he did not want that.
"So we're supposed to just go on with our lives like nothing happened?" Yugi asked. "We're supposed to help people—to save them! And we failed! We let Pegasus down!"
"We saved the rest of the world, Yugi," Atem replied. "I would think that meant something…"
"I know…" said Yugi. "But I wanted to be able to save everyone… including Pegasus. We saved Marik, even when he was taken over by his dark side. Why couldn't we have saved Pegasus from Reshef the same way?"
He glanced back at the Pharaoh, his eyes asking for an answer—an answer that the Pharaoh could not find.
"I don't know, Yugi," he admitted.
Yugi fell back onto his pillow. There was so much they didn't know… and so much that they would never know.
The earthquakes had continued at Duelist Kingdom for hours after Reshef had been sealed away—and the head of Industrial Illusions along with it. As soon as they had stopped, Croquet had flown in from San Francisco, searching for his employer, blissfully unaware of his fate. He was also searching for a number of other people; parts of the castle wall had come down, and most of the people who had been on the island at the time the earthquakes started were all unaccounted for.
Pegasus wasn't in his chamber, even though the portrait of Cecelia still hung on the now-cracked wall.
He would not have left the portrait, even if he was fleeing the castle, Croquet realized. But where was he?
Croquet's search took him through the ruined castle. He found no one, not even any of Pegasus' other underlings. The last room to search was the arena room. The large solid vision arena he had set up years ago was now in shambles, the playing field itself having crashed through the floor during the battle to seal Reshef away.
Croquet was about to give up when he heard a voice coming from somewhere down in the pit.
"Who's down there!?" he demanded, shining a flashlight down into the hole. He blinked to see Para kneeling beside an unconscious Dox. "What happened?"
Para looked up.
"There was a slew of fierce earthquakes—the ground was full of tremors and shakes," he replied, unable to stop his habitual rhyming. "The other underlings—they got away, but I found my poor brother lying this way. I stayed by his side all this time for his sake. Hours have passed, yet he will not wake."
"What about Master Pegasus?" asked Croquet. "Did he manage to get away, too…?"
Para shook his head.
"You must search for a new man for the company helm," the labyrinth-loving duelist replied. "The Master is now trapped in the Shadow Realm. He asked to be forever freed from Reshef's grasp; Kaiba and Yugi both completed that task. But a terrible price the Master had to pay—now he cannot see the light of another day. And my concern is now for another, for I fear the same fate shall befall my brother!"
Croquet stared, in shock. Pegasus was… forever trapped in the Shadow Realm…? And by the looks of Dox, he, too, seemed to be slipping into the darkness as well, perhaps from the aura of darkness that still covered the island.
"We… we need to get him off of this island…" Croquet stammered. Was it really some sort of "shadow sickness"? If so, there may be one person who might be able to help… "We'll… we'll take him to Domino City; maybe Yugi Muto can help him."
"Perhaps he can, but will he?" Para asked. "He's probably not keen on aiding an enemy…"
"We'll try anyway…" said Croquet. He had another reason to get to Domino City; he had to find Seto Kaiba. Pegasus would never want Industrial Illusions to fall apart, and even if it meant a takeover by Kaiba Corp. , it would be worth it to ensure that the company would still run smoothly.
He sighed, suppressing a shudder as he moved to find a way down into the hole to help the Paradox twins.
His awareness was nothing but the cold darkness around him. His eyes were open, and yet all he could see were the dim outlines of vague shapes and forms—fiends, monsters, and other lost souls.
He froze in a moment of fear. This place was horrible… so utterly horrible… and to think he had, at one point, sent people to this terrible place! Was this some long-overdue retribution for what he had done? If so, he deserved it… tormenting Yugi Muto (and that mysterious spirit) and Seto Kaiba not once, but twice…
He let out a shuddering breath. He may as well get used to it; he was going to be here for a very long time indeed. Reshef must have decided that his soul was not worth trying to merge with anymore… The physical pain he had been feeling had left him, but was now replaced by a deeper, agonizing pain in his heart.
Eternity—it was a concept that was difficult for any mortal man to grasp. But from what he understood of it, it was an utter condemnation. He would know no other life other than one in the Shadow Realm, and even after he cast his mortal form aside, his spirit would be staying here.
He drew another breath. His last awareness of the light world had been the attack, and the start of the earthquakes. He could only hope that Yugi and the others had managed to escape in time. He had made this sacrifice for them; after everything he had put them through, they deserved to return to a peaceful home. That was more than he deserved. That was why he was here.
A snarl made him turn. With a gasp, he realized that he was all too near the slumbering form of Reshef. Perhaps Reshef had not realized that he was here, too. He had to get away before the beast realized it, and perhaps tried to vent its anger on him. After all, he was the one who ordered him to be sealed along with the monster…
But he was so very weak… He could only draw himself to his knees. He didn't want to risk getting up and trying to walk—Reshef might hear him if he fell down. So he crawled forward, the long white hair slipping across his face. He was beginning to hurt again, this time from the injuries of the battle.
As he made his slow progress, one image filled his mind. Her golden hair… her bright eyes… that smile which he longed to see and at the same time knew he'd never see again…
Her name slipped once again from his lips.
Her image still in his mind, he continued with his slow and painful trek through the darkness.