"The Rainmaker"
by Danny Lilithborne

Characters (c) 1996-2004 Shueisha, currently owned by Kazuki Takahashi
Story elements (c) 1998 Toei and (c) 2000-2006 Studio Gallup and Nihon Ad Systems
Music (c) 1996 Atlantic Records, (c) 1987 Scotti Bros, 1999 Volcano Entertainment
Reproduction not on the websites Fanfiction, Dotmoon or Janime prohibited by int'l law.


"I wonder what it's like to be the head honcho
I wonder what I'd do if they all did just what I said
Well, I'd shout out an order: 'I think we're out of this man, get me some
'Boy, don't make me wanna change my tone...'"

matchbox twenty, "Real World"

"You can fly if you try, leaving the past behind
Heaven only knows what you might find..."

Stan Bush, "Dare"


Seto Kaiba stared down his opponent, who was, as expected, Yugi Mutou.

Kaiba - 1800 LP
Yugi
- 700 LP

It was the finals of a grand tournament officially titled "Duelist Kingdom II", simultaneously highlighting the apogee of Duel Monsters' rise to power as a game and the closure of Industrial Illusions, the company who had created this game. Its CEO, Pegasus J. Crawford, had decided to retire at the height of the company's success, and its board members, surprisingly enough, unanimously agreed with his decision.

While it was already decided that KaibaCorp would inherit the game, it was this "final tournament", "Duelist Kingdom II", that would decide who would collect the wealth of I2's corporate worth. It was a finale befitting a company who had made its name on competitive games. And while many legendary duelists competed and battled, in the end, as everyone expected, it was Kaiba and Yugi battling for that prize, and the title "King of Duelists".

The playing field was similar to how the first Duelist Kingdom was conducted. Instead of using Duel Disks, the players were standing on podiums facing each other, with spaces for the monsters and magic/traps, which would show up as holograms on the playing field.

Kaiba regarded his opponent carefully. Yugi had come out of retirement to play in the Duelist Kingdom; "for the sake of a memory" was the reason he had told Kaiba when asked. Kaiba didn't question that, as foolish as it sounded; the chance to finally defeat Yugi and prove he was the strongest was nigh.

It is indeed my destiny to stand on top of the world of games, but it is not a destiny that will simply come to me. I must forge it with my own two hands. And, Yugi... defeating you is the final step to achieve that destiny!

Yugi had a clear field, save one set card in his magic/trap field, after wrecking the field with "Dragon of Destruction Gandora" last turn. He had two cards in his hand. Kaiba had four cards and his turn was coming up.

"My turn," Kaiba shouted, as per tradition. "Draw!"

Finally, he thought to himself as he saw the card he drew. The signal of my victory has finally shined!

"I activate the magic card 'Ancient Rule'," Kaiba declared. "I can Special Summon one Normal Monster from my hand, no matter what its level. Yugi, you and I both know it had to end this way!"

Yugi drew back, palpably nervous.

Kaiba glanced at his monster before he summoned it. The game had evolved considerably since Yugi and Kaiba had last played each other; Fusions, Traps, Synchros. But even with all of that, the finalists were still, without a question, going to be them. In the end, it always came down to Yugi against Kaiba.

And in the end, it was always this card that illuminated Kaiba's path...

"I summon my strongest servant, Blue-Eyes White Dragon!" Kaiba shouted as the crowd roared in expectation. That dragon familiar to Yugi and his friends, but such a legend to everyone else, appeared on the field.

Blue-Eyes White Dragon - LV8 Light Dragon (3000 ATK)

"Now, what do you have to say, Yugi?" Kaiba shouted. "There are no hidden agendas here. No people to save. Nothing's on the line but our pride! Can you still say that you are the strongest, Yugi?"

"I've never claimed to be the strongest, Kaiba-kun," Yugi replied. "That's just what everyone says about me. Even from the beginning, before I knew my 'other self', I had access to the strongest cards because of my grandfather, and I spent all the time I should have been using making friends, just by myself, playing my games. It's never been my own strength."

"Are you that much of a coward, Yugi?" Kaiba retorted. "It was your own strength that got you out of those situations! Under the duress, the risk of losing it all, you drew on the power of that other soul within you. But now, even without that soul with you, you have gotten this far. Are you saying that other people were that afraid of your reputation and pretended to lose?"

Yugi looked down, flustered.

Kaiba grunted. This isn't your true strength, Yugi! You came up with a plan to defeat the Three Phantom Gods, and your other self's overwhelming aura, in order to see him through to the next world. But against me, you continue to be afraid! Very well! If I have to pluck the title of King of Duelists out of your dead, surrendered corpse, so be it!

"Blue-Eyes White Dragon! At-"

Suddenly, everything was white except for Kaiba and...

The Blue-Eyes...

The Blue-Eyes had transformed.

Instead, a pale-skinned girl with light blue hair stood on the field, with her hands crossed as if in prayer.

"What... what's going on?" Kaiba demanded. "Who are you? What is this?"

The woman turned to face Kaiba momentarily. Her face was tear-stained.

What is a duel? her voice wordlessly echoed in Kaiba's mind.

Then, as soon as it started, Kaiba was back in the duel arena.

"Kaiba-kun, are you okay?" Yugi asked.

I will have to get a medical workup after this event, Kaiba thought to himself. To have such a seizure in the midst of a victory is unbecoming. Still, I cannot ignore what I saw. "What is a duel?" What does that mean? Who was that girl?

He then noticed Yugi's face-down card.

Of course! I've been careless!

"Although I'd like to finish you this turn, I would be underestimating your abilities," Kaiba said. "Yugi, your face-down card could be anything. Behind that hidden card is your true power, and I intend to draw it out at the last possible moment. For now, I'll set a card and end my turn."

Yugi nodded, his smile growing. "My turn, draw!"

Kaiba glanced at the assembled crowd. Yugi's friends, as expected, were there. The "average duelist" had made a strong showing, but ultimately his dependence on luck prevented him from reaching the finals. The well-known duelist Mai Kujaku had come too, but only to bring her children and watch. The world of dueling had moved on. Many old names had found happiness beyond that world, and many new names had created happiness through their own quests.

Seto Kaiba himself was not happy, though. Even with the symbol of his heart, his brother Mokuba, restored, something on the path to happiness eluded him. Kaiba wasn't even sure if happiness was what he wanted. He just wanted to be the one to open the doorway to the shining future.

Yugi looked at his hand and frowned just a little bit, enough for Kaiba to catch it. Yugi, you are a mystery to me, Kaiba thought to himself. Most people's true tactics come through for them only in calm situations; when they are pressured, they become frantic and resort to brute force. But you... your true strength only comes out in desperate situations. How can that be, Yugi?!

"I set one monster facedown," Yugi said. "Turn end."

The pressure of the finals was mounting. Everyone was on edge. Although the title of "King of Duelists" was, ultimately, mere sophistry, it was one that all players yearned for. Everyone who carried a deck dreamed of being regarded as that high-class warrior that was feared by all. In a way, the duel was a recreation of battles that were as old as time itself, the war to be recognized.

What is a duel?

"My turn! Draw!" Kaiba shouted.

As this duel progresses, the potential in our decks drains until it approaches zero, he thought. If I've analyzed this correctly, Yugi has 18 cards left in his deck, and I have 22. If it progresses this way, I'll win by default. However, I can never underestimate his potential, and in any case, it would be idiotic to allow myself to gain a win by such uninteresting means.

Kaiba closed his eyes so that he could remember more clearly. I have yet to see Yugi use such cards as "Holy Barrier - Mirror Force" in this duel. That is easily the card that could be hiding there. However, for Yugi to set a monster face-down is unusual. If he were to draw out an attack from me to use that, he would reveal the monster.

That means...!

He looked at the card he drew. I would normally save this for a more desperate situation. But, Yugi... I want to show you myself, that you cannot hide from battle!

"Magic card activate, 'Destructive Burst Stream'!" Kaiba shouted. "When I control a 'Blue-Eyes White Dragon', in exchange for its attack, I can destroy all monsters you control. Go, my Blue-Eyes! Destructive Burst Stream, magic attack!"

The Blue-Eyes on Kaiba's field reared back, and its entire body filled with a light that gathered in its mouth. And then...

Suddenly, there was white again.

I must be going senile, Kaiba muttered. Old age can get to anyone, it seems.

Then the woman was there again, and Kaiba heard her giggle.

Seto, you'll never get old. Not as long as I am here...

And then Kaiba was back in the real world, and the Blue-Eyes had wrecked Yugi's field.

"Marsh!" Yugi's Marshmallon flipped face up and squealed before it was destroyed.

"Such trickery is beneath you, Yugi!" Kaiba shouted. "You thought you could fool me into attacking your face-down monster, and then strike back at me for damage, without having to use your trap card. Then in your next turn, since Marshmallon cannot be destroyed in battle, you could release it for something stronger. Perhaps Black Magician Girl?"

Yugi gasped and drew back.

"That's right," Kaiba said. "I see through your plan. That face-down is, without a doubt, 'Dimension Magic', which means your hand contains Black Magician Girl and Black Magician. How fitting that it should end this way."

"You don't know everything, Kaiba-kun," Yugi replied. "I know that your initial thought was that my facedown was 'Holy Barrier - Mirror Force'. Neither of us has the power to control fate, and I'm not about to reveal to you my hand. We're both here to win, right?"

"Save your bluffs for those fooled by them!" Kaiba shouted. "If you're going to make a turnaround, you will have to do it in your next draw! If I am wrong, then show me! Turn end!"

He would have released 'Marshmallon' to summon 'Black Magician Girl', then use 'Dimension Magic' to get 'Black Magician' while destroying my Blue-Eyes, Kaiba's train of thought continued. Even without the damage I would have taken from attacking 'Marshmallon', that would have been a decisive victory. I narrowly evaded another loss. Yugi! You may still be strong without that Pharaoh on your side, but compared to me, you are just another small fry!

"My turn... draw!" Yugi shouted, and his voice had the slightest hint of anxiety. It, of course, did not escape Kaiba's attention.

"Kaiba-kun," Yugi said. "This game has changed a great deal since we first fought. Back then, we were both different people, and we didn't know each other. But more importantly, we didn't know ourselves. And a lot has happened since then, hasn't it?"

"I don't have time to hear you talk about the past," Kaiba scoffed.

"This isn't about the past, though," Yugi replied. "This is about the future. It always has been for you, hasn't it? You've always been thinking about how to make a future where everyone had a place."

Kaiba looked up momentarily at his opponent. He didn't want to say anything just then.

"You've suffered from constant attacks, from competitors, from within your own corporation and even your own family," Yugi went on. "The only person you could count on was Mokuba. But you could always count on your deck, too, right?"

"This deck is my soul," Kaiba stated. "I do not change it at the whims of anyone but myself!"

"We've come this far believing in our own decks, and their evolution has been imperceptible to most," Yugi said, touching his chest. "But we both know we've changed, haven't we?"

Kaiba took a closer look at Yugi. It's true that Yugi had grown physically. Kaiba recalled that when they first met, he almost felt like Yugi was unwell; he was far too short for someone his age. But now, they could meet eye to eye. He almost resembled the spirit of that Pharaoh he had once relied on...

But no. Their eyes were different... they could never have the same eyes...

Kaiba himself, though... had he changed?

Seto...

Now the voice could be heard by Kaiba even without the drowning light.

Seto, I will fight for you regardless of what happens to myself. The pain and the suffering, both of being the most powerful and the most hated... I will take all of that in for your sake, Seto!

Kaiba rubbed his forehead and felt some sweat. This medication is obviously not good for my blood pressure, a faint thought occurred to him.

"But if your guess is correct," Yugi said. "If my facedown is 'Dimension Magic' and you are correct about the two cards I hold in my hand, haven't you left things to fate?"

"What are you saying, Yugi?" Kaiba replied.

"There are other Spellcasters in my deck, that do not require tribute," Yugi explained. "Or have you forgotten?"

Kaiba just crossed his arms and closed his eyes. "Think what you like," he said.

"I summon 'Holy Elf' in defense mode," Yugi announced as the praying elf appeared on the field.

Holy Elf - LV4 Light Spellcaster (2000 DEF)

"Reverse card open... 'Dimension Magic'!" Yugi said. "By releasing a Spellcaster on my field, I can Special Summon a Spellcaster from my hand. I sacrifice 'Holy Elf' to summon to the field... 'Black Magician'!"

The image of Holy Elf shimmered away and the crowd was once again up in arms as another legendary monster appeared. Black Magician, twirling his staff, eyes filled with determination, appeared.

Black Magician - LV7 Dark Spellcaster (2500 ATK)

"And the other effect of 'Dimension Magic' activates!" Yugi shouted as a large coffin appeared on Kaiba's side of the field. "When the monster is summoned successfully, I can destroy one monster on the field. The monster I choose, of course, is..."

Do your best, Seto!

"Blue-Eyes!"

The coffin clamped shut and then promptly exploded, releasing a wave of holographic energy that both Kaiba and Yugi had to shield themselves from.

Kaiba lowered his hand once his field was clear of monsters. He knew the attack from Black Magician was coming.

He closed his eyes and reflected, for the first time that he could remember, on the past...

Since I came out of that hell you put me in, Yugi... no, Pharaoh Atem... I've developed my own path as a duelist. I found the puzzle of my own heart, and put it back together again. I developed this Solid Vision system so that I wouldn't be alone in my suffering, but you persevered. Yugi... you've found friends and allies. Why do you fight now?

"Kaiba-kun," Yugi said. "Like you, I'm not willing to underestimate my opponent. But I do not want to drag this duel on longer than it has to. Whatever the danger is, I'll face it. That's what my 'other self' taught me! Black Magician! Player, direct attack... 'Black Magic'!"

Black Magician turned back at Yugi and nodded, and there was the slightest hint of a smile. He then twirled his staff and shot a blast of magic.

"Useless!" Kaiba shouted. "Victory does not sing to those who do not understand her voice! Reverse card open... counter trap, 'Attack Nullification'! Your attack is negated and your battle phase is ended!"

Black Magician's attack bounced off of a field of energy that the trap seemed to create.

Yugi nodded. "Turn end."

"My turn!" Kaiba shouted.

And then he was immersed in that white once again.

Don't be afraid, Kaiba, that voice whispered quietly. This is something like death... you've experienced that before, haven't you? You have nothing to fear from me.

Then the woman appeared once more, this time facing Kaiba.

Kaiba gasped.

Seto... the time has come to explain everything to you.

"If you want to tell me about the past, forget it," Kaiba said. "I do not have an interest in what has already happened, or that illusionary world that that dark spirit showed me!"

You cried for me once, Seto... even if you tried to hide the tears. But you cannot hide your tears from God. More than the blood you shed, more than the sweat from your work, even more than your soul which ultimately surrenders to heaven... it is the tears which tell the true story of history, the book that only God holds. Open that book with your own hands, Kaiba Seto! Take it from Him... He has been waiting for you!

"How could someone like me fall asleep in the most important moment of my life?" Kaiba muttered to himself.

Now I'll reveal to you the power that can move even God to tears... Go, Kaiba Seto, and find the darkness in your heart waiting to guide you!

"Darkness in my heart? How boring... that's my past, and it doesn't interest me."

You heard me cry, too, didn't you?

"What?"

You heard me cry, set your plans aside and headed to Egypt, to find the reason...

Kaiba thought back to when Bakura had given him the Millennium Eye, and told him it was the invitation to a Dark Game. He didn't remember the details, but he did remember hearing the Blue-Eyes cry, and a memory...

A memory...

Of what?

Your father, who lost his soul creating the Millennium Items; and your mother, who was killed in a vicious and reprehensible incident that happened because you saved me...

"What? My parents? Who... who are you?"

Think back, Kaiba. Why could you control the God of Obelisk? And why did you change destiny, by sacrificing it for the white dragon?...

"I don't know what you're talking a..."

Kaiba clenched his forehead, because that was a lie. He knew exactly what she was talking about. When he fought that woman who claimed to know the future.

"Tell me who you are..."

I think you know who I am, Kaiba. Your heart knows. Think all the way back now...

There was a name on Kaiba's lips, but he refused to speak it.

You don't want to remember your past life... but you do remember your fate. It is to protect him. Protect the Pharaoh.

"Idiot! Why should I protect that sadistic clown? Besides, the Pharaoh is gone! He's returned to the underworld!"

The Pharaoh may have moved on... but you are still here, Seto.

"Kaiba-kun, are you okay?"

Kaiba came to, startled, back to the present time. Yugi's voice had awakened him. Apparently, some time had gone by.

"You don't have to prompt me, Yugi!" Kaiba shouted. "Draw!"

He looked at the card. "Raise Dead"... can it really be that easy? He glanced at Yugi's field. It only contained Black Magician, who looked on sternly. Kaiba then looked at his remaining two cards. Neither of these cards are helpful to me right now. Yugi's remaining hand card is "Black Magician Girl", without a doubt. Unless he draws a card that can stop me next turn, I'll win.

But I should never underestimate the one person who is worthy of a duel against me...

"Magic card activate, 'Raise Dead'!" Kaiba shouted.

"'Raise Dead'?!" Yugi gasped, in a state of panic.

"I can revive one monster from the cemetery, as I'm sure everyone here knows," Kaiba said. "You've disgraced my dragon, Yugi, and for that, it will now unleash its rage upon you! Revive, Blue-Eyes White Dragon!"

The fearsome dragon returned to the field, its howl reverberating throughout the castle.

Blue-Eyes White Dragon - 3000 ATK

"Blue-Eyes! Destroy Yugi's Black Magician! Destructive Burst Stream!"

The Black Magician was evaporated in the blast. As usual, he stood his ground and only shouted at the end when his hologram was shattered.

"Black Magician!" Yugi shouted reflexively as his life points dropped.

Yugi - 700 LP - 500 = 200 LP

"Turn end," Kaiba said, crossing his arms. A smile began to form on his face, but then the impulse disappeared as the thought occured to him.

I've only drawn one Blue-Eyes this entire game, which means I have yet to draw the two others. The chances of drawing them are very high, and if Yugi manages a turnaround, the Blue-Eyes will not help me! This could go either way...

Then that voice again.

It's not like you to doubt yourself, Seto. Are you the same man who succeeded Atem as Pharaoh?

"I don't need this!" Kaiba shouted, but his voice didn't seem to work outside of his own mind. He was frozen in his position as his turn ended, locked inside what appeared to be a waking dream.

The Blue-Eyes had again become the pale girl, who was now floating towards Kaiba. Her mouth started to move as, for the first time, she seemed to speak words to him.

"My name is Kisara. Do you really not remember me?"

"What's going on?" Kaiba seemed to be able to move, but everyone else was still frozen.

Kisara smiled, though. "I've been protecting you all ths time, helping you win all your games so you could gain enough strength to protect the Pharaoh. But it seems you've forgotten your past life. Kaiba Seto... what made you want to collect the Blue-Eyes White Dragon so badly?"

"This isn't a time for interrogation!" Kaiba shouted. "Whatever sorcery you are doing, release me from it! This is the pinnacle of my life! I don't want to waste any time with..."

"This is the time, Seto," Kisara said, and she took Kaiba's hand. Strangely, he didn't resist.

"Your desires are not your own at this time. They are the desires of your father, who wished to kill the Pharaoh and see you take his place. You wanted to protect him."

Kaiba looked at his hand in hers, and recalled...

"I summon 'Green Gadget' in defense mode," Yugi said, and Kaiba was back in the game.

A tiny green robot appeared and held up its hands, protecting itself.

Green Gadget - LV4 Earth Machine (600 DEF)

"Green Gadget's monster effect activates, letting me add a Red Gadget from my deck to my hand," Yugi explained, searching his deck and placing the monster card in it. He then shuffled his deck. "Turn end."

Kaiba wiped sweat from his face and placed his hand on his deck.

I believe one day we can meet again.

As feared, he had drawn his second copy of "Blue-Eyes White Dragon".

This lowers my chances of topdecking "Blue-Eyes" in a bad situation, Kaiba thought to himself. But I can't damage Yugi this turn, and I know he has "Red Gadget". So if I don't draw a monster in the next turn, I can't finish it. And besides, there is still the matter of what card he draws next.

But I shouldn't waste all this time thinking...

"Blue-Eyes! Destroy Green Gadget! Destructive Burst Stream!"

As ordered, the massive dragon annihilated Yugi's machine, and Yugi shouted "Green Gadget!", as if he was feeling empathy for the card.

Kaiba crossed his arms again. "Turn end."

"My turn, draw!" Yugi shouted.

So, Yugi... let's see what you have for me now, Kaiba thought as he observed his everlasting opponent. He knew today was the day he would have victory over...

Over...

Who, exactly?

What did Yugi represent to him? When he held the Millennium Puzzle, Kaiba knew who he wanted to defeat; the only one to have been able to challenge him in a game, the one who stood in his way as the King of Games. But since Kaiba went to Egypt and had the past revealed to him, he couldn't maintain his strength against Yugi. He still maintained his status as second place. But second place only meant the last one to lose!

If any kind of future is to happen, I have to overcome you, Mutou Yugi! Otherwise, this world will be forever looking behind it, into the ruins of the past and the heartbreak of the same cycle repeating itself, with the same result! Yugi, I swear it... I will defeat you!

What is a duel?

That question repeated itself, this time in Kaiba's own voice, although Kaiba didn't wish to think it. And then Kisara appeared, holding Kaiba's hand, as the battlefield became washed out in light once more.

"You are not having a mental breakdown, Seto, nor will you likely have one ever in your lifetime," Kisara said and looked fondly into Kaiba's eyes. "As long as I am with you, you will never die."

"Stop kidding around!" Kaiba shouted, and struggled to throw Kisara's hand away. However, his body wouldn't respond the way it wanted to. Instead, a deep pain emanated in his chest.

"Your father tried to drag you into the darkness with him, but you are destined for the light," Kisara said. "What you need to find is the reason. Seto-sama, what is the reason for victory?"

"Victory is... its own reward," Kaiba said as he held onto Kisara's hands, but the words he'd always felt confident in now seemed hollow. They almost seemed like an echo of his accursed surrogate father, Gozaburo. Victory? What was he thinking?

A teardrop? In his eye?

Don't be afraid, Seto-sama, Kisara once again was heard in his mind. I've been wiping your tears away since you were reborn, and I won't stop now. Now that you're so close to that truth that is constantly threatening to snap your heart in two.

"In two?"

Kaiba and Kisara stood alone in the light for the moment, and the battle was forgotten.

We didn't get last words the last time we met. Seto-sama, you are the kindest soul in the world, and you hide it behind this façade. There is no shade for the light, my dear. There is no shade for the light...

They remained in the light this way.

What is this feeling I have? Kaiba thought. For the first time in my life... I don't feel a need to fight to prove that I am here. This girl, Kisara, sees me.

No, wait, what am I thinking? That was a dream, from that dark game with Bakura. I'm over forty years old, and still playing games. Perhaps I should...

No!

Kaiba let go of Kisara's hand and just looked at her. He began to remember.


Seto-sama... your heart won't be imprisoned in darkness...

"This world is created from my 3000-year old memories," Yugi had said then. "There might be differences from this and the vision you had at Battle City. But now we have to fight against the Dark Lord Zorc that is reviving. You can find the way out, Kaiba! Leave now!"

"Hmph, nonsense," Kaiba had scoffed. "Let's see how strong this 'Dark Lord Zorc' is..."

Then Kisara's body was covered with a cloth, and the wind blew harshly. Zorc had revived.

Kaiba stared at her body. Remembered her from earlier. He tried to feel sad.

He couldn't.

He merely turned away and left her behind in the darkness of Yugi's memory...


"Did you think you hurt me by turning away, by not having any emotion?" Kisara asked.

Kaiba closed his eyes and gave a typical grunt. "Perhaps the spirit of the Pharaoh lives on and is showing me this vision to confuse me so that his partner will win. In any case, I don't believe in supernatural nons..."

"I know you don't believe, Kaiba. Faith is the one luxury you cannot afford."

Kaiba's eyes opened.

Faith... is that happiness? The one thing that's evaded me?

Kaiba closed his eyes again and remembered letting that 'Zorc' thing run loose. Two children burning in front of his eyes.

I won't forgive you... he had said. I don't care about the future of this world, but I won't allow you to use human beings like chess pieces in your Dark Game!

Now lately, that strength had waned. Even though Kaiba was guaranteed a number two spot, he didn't feel right until he defeated Yugi. And now, he was afraid... that it would slip from his grasp...

Why should we fight, Kaiba? Yugi's voice echoed. We're friends... aren't we?

Yugi'd saved Kaiba once before, when his 'other self' was ready to sacrifice Kaiba to obtain victory. But that's how fights went... right?

"I summon 'Red Gadget' in defense position," Yugi announced.

Red Gadget - LV4 Earth Machine (1500 DEF)

"And by Red Gadget's effect, I place a 'Yellow Gadget' in my hand. Turn end."

Yugi, is this really all you have for me?! You only have 13 cards in your deck now! If you are planning something, show me!

"My turn," Kaiba shouted. "Draw!"

"Fusion".

"Blue-Eyes! Destructive Burst Stream!"

And just like that, Red Gadget was shattered.

Drawing "Fusion" changes everything. Although I would gain nothing from summoning "Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon"... there is still one chance to guarantee victory.

"Turn end."

Yugi nodded. "My turn, draw." He looked at his hand and grunted.

Kaiba noticed Yugi's friends cheering for him as he made his next play. "I summon 'Yellow Gadget' in defense position," he said.

Yellow Gadget - LV4 Earth Machine (1200 DEF)

"I set one card. Turn end."

What?! Kaiba looked irritated. Why didn't he use "Yellow Gadget"'s effect, and place a "Green Gadget" card in his...

His eyes widened. Could it be...?! He only has one copy of each "Gadget" card?! Are you insulting me... Yugi?

"My turn, draw," Kaiba said. "I activate 'Pot of Greed', and draw two new cards." He then looked at his hand.

"Yugi..."

Kaiba could scarcely believe it.

The time has come to extinguish the past, the voice in his head could be heard to call. Do not be afraid, Seto... Extinguishing the past is not the same as destroying it. You are not one to doubt yourself. Move forward. Don't hesitate!

"'Fusion', activate!" Kaiba shouted as the crowd drew in a breath. "I fuse the Blue-Eyes on the field with the two other Blue-Eyes in my hand! Yugi! The strongest evolution of my servant has decided that you are a worthy challenge for it to crush on my road to glory! Witness! Behold! And shiver in fear!"

The three Blue-Eyes swirled into a vortex, and the arena shook. The audience was fearful as space itself seemed to crack for the entrance of the three-eyed chimaeric creature that few had ever seen.

"Open the path of light... 'Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon'!" Kaiba roared in victorious laughter as the monster emerged on the field.

Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon - LV12 Light Dragon (4500 ATK)

Yugi's eyes widened and he drew in a short breath. Kaiba saw this and smiled. So, Yugi... you know. This is the end.

Yugi seemed somewhat off step when he flipped his face down. "Reverse card open, 'Coffin of Black Magic Revival'! When my opponent summons a monster, I can sacrifice it and one monster I control to revive one Spellcaster-type monster from my cemetery! Sorry, Kaiba-kun... but I have to do all I must to achieve victory."

He then apologized to his monster as it shimmered, its energy swirling into the coffin that appeared on the field. "Sorry, Yellow Gadget."

But when the coffin's energy shot at Kaiba's Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon, it slammed into the ground of the field in front of it, causing an emission of smoke. Some people in the crowd thought that the Solid Vision had malfunctioned.

But when the smoke cleared, instead of one large dragon, there were three. Kaiba was laughing victoriously.

"Instant magic, 'Fusion Cancel', activate!"

"What?!"

Kaiba laughed. "I'll return Ultimate Dragon to the deck and return my three Blue-Eyes to the stage! They will be the ones to finally eliminate the past! Your revival ritual has failed!"

And as the coffin faded from view, Yugi was confronted with a situation he'd been in before, from when his grandfather was assaulted by Kaiba for his card — three Blue-Eyes White Dragons staring him in the face.

What is this?

...This hesitation?

"This is the best way, Kaiba-kun..."

"Now that I'm here, there is no way this ceremonial duel will be postponed or cancelled..."

"Who asked you to come, anyway?!"

Blue-Eyes White Dragon - 3000 ATK
Blue-Eyes White Dragon
- 3000 ATK
Blue-Eyes White Dragon
- 3000 ATK

"Kaiba-kun..." Yugi said, and his voice was heard to tremble.

Yugi... are you afraid of me, even now?

"Yugi, it doesn't have to end this way," Kaiba said before he could stop himself. "You cannot win, so just surrender now."

"No," Yugi said. "It's true that I'm afraid, but I have to face everything in my lifetime, even my own fear. Attack me, Kaiba-kun. I know this is something you've wanted. How can I deny you your own moment of glory because of my own cowardice?"

Kaiba gasped in total shock. "Yugi... how..."

If I give him this much fear, then... how did he stand up to the Pharaoh?

"My three Blue-Eyes White Dragons! Attack my opponent. End this! Triple Destructive Burst Stream!"

All three dragons unleashed their attacks on Yugi at once. It was Solid Vision, and Yugi's reaction was overly dramatic, but their beams of light were no less real than the light that generated the images. More than anything, it was their visual impact that overwhelmed him.

Yugi - 700 LP - 9000 = 0

Duelist Kingdom II was over, and Seto Kaiba was victorious.

The mumbles of the crowd were to be expected. Everyone was simply assuming that Yugi, the "King of Games", was a certain win. This was a colossal upset. Most of the crowd were disappointed in the outcome. Only the true duelists, the ones who could see the heart and soul of the players' moves, truly understood the meaning.

Seto Kaiba was, again, standing on a solitary mountaintop.

But as he approached Yugi, he was surprised to find his opponent smiling in his defeat. "I know you've waited a long time for this, Kaiba-kun," he said. "Congratulations."

"Yugi..." Kaiba mused aloud. "Are you truly unaware of the meaning of my victory?"

"I just know you've wanted to defeat me when I was playing at my best," Yugi replied. "I didn't come here to lose to you. I won't give an opponent anything but my best. Do you understand that?"

Something in Kaiba's mind told him he should be angry, but looking at the boy who he'd pinned his hopes on, the pinnacle he had to overcome, and to see him genuinely happy for Kaiba's victory, something warm in his heart surged.

Kaiba was smiling.

"You asked me when we dueled that day if my cards had the same trust in me that yours do," he said. "I'm still not sure of the answer to that question. I still can't believe that cards carry a heart. But I've come a long way with my own deck. And now, I stand on my own."

Yugi nodded in affirmation.

"Thank you for dueling me, Yugi-kun," Kaiba said finally, and he recalled the day they had first met. It was simple. They both loved games. They had that in common. Couldn't it be like back then? Now Kaiba shouldered enormous responsibilities.

Kaiba just closed his eyes and walked away from the stage. Mokuba walked up to meet him; growing older had given him a better sense of professonalism, so he didn't cling to his older brother, but they were still very close.

The monetary resources of Industrial Illusions were in Kaiba's hands now, and the world of games was in his control, as he had planned to do. But none of that mattered at the moment.

I will get to corporate matters when the time calls for it. Right now, my heart is beating in excitement... my mind is busy with thought. "Anticipation"? Mutou Yugi... to duel him again, without these bitter feelings clouding the spirit of the game. That is my wish now!

On an impulse, Kaiba paused and turned back to the arena. Mokuba, stopping in his steps, turned back to see what his brother was looking at. He saw nothing but the arena, with its lights starting to fade.

Kaiba saw the brilliant vision of Kisara standing on the arena, looking at him, her hair blowing in an unseen, unfelt wind.

What is a duel?

I'm not sure if I have the answer to that question yet, Kaiba said as he turned away. But I may find it in a duel with him. Kisara, this is the last time I turn my eyes back. From now on, I will only look forward.

And then, even though he was no longer looking at her...

...Kaiba felt Kisara smile.

You will never look forward alone, though. Not anymore...

THE END
Author's Note:
Please don't kill me for having Yugi lose. D: