Author's note: this ficlit was written for the prompt "Disguise" at Yu-Gi-Oh contest on LiveJournal. It takes place just before the opening events of the Reshef of Destruction video game, and, as such, is an AU and in the same timeline as my "Shadows Without Substance" fic. As always, the characters aren't mine, and the story is.
The silent spirit's presence went unnoticed in the room as she watched her beloved pace the room. He, still in the mortal world, should have still been able to sense her presence. But he wasn't himself. He didn't even look like himself; he was dressed in an odd assortment of clothes, his long, white hair tied back, and an eye patch over the left side of his face.
He did not even look up when the unseen spirit floated right beside him.
"Maximillion…?" she asked, softly.
Ordinarily, he should have been able to hear her. But Maximillion Pegasus was so lost in this new persona he had put on—Sol Chevalsky—that he was oblivious to the presence of his late, beloved wife. He had not wanted Yugi Muto and his friends to know who he was, or that he was planning to summon Reshef the Dark Being. He was ready to launch his plan into action, and the last thing he needed was interference from Yugi, just as he had done during Duelist Kingdom.
"This time, Yugi-boy, you won't even know what hit you…" he murmured.
"Look at you…" Cecelia whispered. "You don't even know that I am here. Maximillion Pegasus would know—he would talk to me. But Sol Chevalsky is not Maximillion Pegasus—he only cares about Reshef!"
Sol Chevalsky now turned as Croquet entered the room.
"Master Pegasus… I mean, Master Chevalsky…" he said, forcing himself to address his employer by this new moniker, though he really did not think much of it.
"You may speak, Croquet…" his employer said.
"I thought you'd like to know, Sir… We heard from Bandit Keith," said Croquet. "He says he's ready to go along with your plan, but I suspect that he's expecting some sort of cut from whatever benefits you reap from this."
"Let him expect whatever he wants; if he thinks he can outsmart me while Reshef gives me new power, he has another thing coming," the white-haired man said, smirking. "If that is all, Croquet, I will be soon proceeding with the next rite to further Reshef's arrival." His eyes gleamed. "If it works, the Egyptian God Cards will be rendered useless and the Millennium Items will be scattered across the globe. Devoid of his Millennium Puzzle and the God Cards, Yugi-boy will be utterly helpless and unable to challenge me."
"There is still Seto Kaiba, Sir," said Croquet.
"Kaiba-boy poses no threat to me, either; after all, I have defeated him before," Chevalsky replied. "And I will defeat him again."
"You expect him to fight against you, Sir?" asked Croquet.
"Not at first," Chevalsky admitted. "But as events further unfold, he very well may."
"You intend to take over Kaiba Corporation--!?"
"No, Kaiba-boy can keep his company," the white-haired man replied, with a wave of his hand. "In fact, he is welcome to Industrial Illusions, as well; once Reshef is summoned and grants me power, I'll have no need of this job. I won't just run a company, Croquet; I will be helping Reshef rule the world!"
"Listen to yourself!" cried Cecelia. But her voice fell on deaf ears. "Industrial Illusions is everything you ever worked for—it was what your father lovingly handed down to you! Are you going to cast his memory aside, along with the company…!?"
Croquet shuddered; he thought he had felt another presence in the room, and though he wanted to mention this to his employer, he decided against it.
"The time is soon approaching, Croquet," Chevalsky said, still oblivious to the presence of his wife. "I'll need you to go to the headquarters in San Francisco and get the official papers in order. Wait for my call; I will let you know when to make any and all corporate announcements. If Kaiba-boy decides not to interfere, he might be the lucky recipient of the company. But just in case he does, I want you to get in touch with Yakou Tenma, as well."
Croquet looked uncomfortable with the thought of his employer giving up the company just like that, whether or not Seto Kaiba was the one to receive it. Oh, it wasn't that Kaiba wouldn't be able to run Industrial Illusions well; it was that something was wrong… The Maximillion Pegasus that Croquet knew would not make such a careless decision. Perhaps this Reshef was somehow convincing him to do these things. And why not? It seemed as though the creature had already convinced him to put on a new name and persona.
But, in the end, Croquet decided that it was more than what his job was worth to question the actions of his boss, regardless of whatever name he called himself.
"As you wish, Master Peg… … …Master Chevalsky," he said, with a bow. Perhaps going to San Francisco would be considerably safer than staying here…
He took his leave, glad to be out of the room, leaving Cecelia and Chevalsky.
"Dear Croquet…" she whispered. Croquet had been working for Industrial Illusions for a long time—he had even been one of the main coordinators during her wedding to Pegasus. And now things were beginning to become clearer to the spirit.
Reshef must have sensed that Croquet and the company were the last two links to her husband's life as "Pegasus." If Reshef convinced Pegasus to get rid of both of them, he would more and more transform to the persona of Sol Chevalsky, which had originally meant to be just a disguise to throw Yugi off of the trail. That was why he was doing this… And if that was the case, his dueling minions would be expendable, and the next to go.
"Maximillion…!" Cecelia whispered to him, urgently. But Chevalsky did not even turn his head; he just stared out the window of his castle, a glass of red wine at his lips. "Maximillion, please listen to me! You can't send Croquet away; it's what Reshef wants you to do…!" She trailed off, tears flowing down her translucent face as she realized that her voice could not reach her husband's ears as long as he remained under Reshef's influence.
"Soon, Reshef…" Chevalsky purred. "Soon your power will grow. And then you and I will reign over the world as one immortal being…"
"Immortal…?" Cecelia repeated. "Maximillion, what about me…!? What about us!? How will you see me again if you remain in this world for all time…!?" Her heart sunk as she realized the truth. "You've forgotten me—that cursed Reshef has made you forget me!" She stared at her husband's calculating smirk, the feeling of horror growing more and more by the second. Her sorrow and heartbreak culminated into a hopeless cry. "This isn't you, Maximillion! I don't know you anymore!"
With a sob, she vanished back into the spirit realm.
And now, finally, Maximillion Pegasus felt the arrow zing into his heart. He turned, abruptly.
"Cecelia…?" he whispered. A feeling of horror now began to rise within his own mortal heart. There was no presence now, but he had felt her, for a split-second… He had felt his wife's sorrow and pain… "Cecelia!? Cecelia, my love, come back!"
But she had left, he realized. How long had she been here, crying out to him…!? Would she ever come back…!?
The wine glass slipped from Pegasus' hand and shattered as it hit the floor, but the man did not even notice; he sunk to his knees amid the shards as tears began to fall from his surviving right eye.
"What have I done…?" he whispered.
She does not understand that you have great things in store for you, Reshef's voice echoed in the back of his mind. She will come to understand later, once our plan succeeds. Then, we will have the power to bring her back, and she will be your queen once again. But until then, she is a distraction on your way to greatness. Push her from your mind now, and you will both be rewarded later.
Pegasus tried not to listen to the voice, trying to keep his mind on Cecelia. He could not let her slip from his thoughts again…!
Reshef glowered in frustration. A curse upon that meddling woman—she was breaking his hold on the foolish businessman!
Summoning more of his dark energy, he moved to further cloud Pegasus' mind. If he would not push her from his thoughts, then Reshef would have to push her out himself.
Pegasus let out a stifled gasp as the darkness clouded his thoughts, obscuring the image of his wife. He began to fall back into the dark, his voiceless lips calling for his one link to the light…
"Sir…?" Croquet asked, entering the room. "I heard you yell; is everything alright, Sir?"
Sol Chevalsky got to his feet, his eye dry and a smirk on his face.
"Everything is fine, Croquet," he said. "You go on ahead as we planned."
"As… as you wish, Sir…" Croquet replied, eager to leave the room. He suppressed a shudder as a chill ran down his spine.
Now alone again, Chevalsky turned back to the window. The next rites for Reshef would soon begin.