Hello, not gonna say much here cuz there's a longer note at the bottom. So sit back and enjoy! R&R!


Kaiba vs. Ishizu, Pt. 2

Yusei looked from the spectators to the players. In the audience, looks of interest to concern were shown on their faces. The King of Game had been mostly quiet during the duel, his gaze wavering from Ishizu to Kaiba, but usually settling with a glare of contempt on Marik. Marik stood idly on the other side of the blimp's deck, tending to his eternal smirk, confident as if he were immune to any duel or social justice.

The twins were busy fumbling among the records of the finals of the Battle City Tournament, sifting through the virtual files on the computer. Sometimes they would double tap a sheet with their fingers, copying the data onto the storage device on the duel disks to be accessed later. After all, they still had to write that report.

Though Yusei was assigned no such work, he still found it informative and exhilarating at watching such a turning point in dueling history. It was amazing to see that not the just the card had changed though time—but the overall strategies as well. The face-paced riding duels were quick and sent adrenaline. There was no time to idle chatter. In these duels, the contestants barked insults at each other, trying to break concentration, essentially trying to break the mind of the duelist behind the cards.

"Hey, I found a medical report from the KC blimp!" Leo cheered.

"Kaiba actually hired his own medical staff for his blimp?" Yusei was surprised. Then again, the rich always had quirky surprises. In his experience, billionaires happened to be excessively eccentric.

"Yeah, and it was a good call, too," Leo said, reading over the summary. Opening the file with an electronic beep, the contents displayed on a newly projected screen.

Luna peered over her brother's shoulder. "Ryou Bakura came in unconscious at 8:03pm. That coordinates with the time his duel ended. Next was Odion, around 9:12; Mai Valentine at 10:45. They all appear to have come in unconscious, among other symptoms." She pulled up her own screen. "In the database that lists the cards played in their duels, it states that an Egyptian God Card was used. Well, a fake one in Odion's case, but you get the point."

"This one here says Joey got KO'd too with an Egyptian God," Yusei pointed. "But on a different day." He looked at the blonde youth, his expression revealing that he had no idea that he would be unconscious in the next few days.

"Seems to me like there's a pattern," Luna said, looking up. "I bet Kaiba doesn't really understand what's really going on in addition to his technology. If he uses Obelisk against Ishizu, she'd be knocked out. But she wasn't checked into the medical ward."

"Guess that means Kaiba doesn't use Obelisk," Leo said. Luna nodded.

Yusei skimmed the card list from Ishizu and Kaiba's duel. "There-that one: the Blue Eyes White Dragon. I bet that's the ace card of his deck."

"Yusei, you always think the dragons are the ace card--," Leo began.

"I agree with Yusei—not just because I do know that the Blue Eyes is Kaiba's trump card, but for some other reason," Luna prepared to explain. "A duelist always has a monster that he or she is attached to. Furthermore, other duelists can feel that connection. It's a bond of deep trust and respect for the spirit of the card."

"…And you two can feel this bond about Kaiba and his dragon though a 3D recording?" Leo asked.

Luna said confidently, "Yes." Yusei nodded.

"Fine, fine. Let's just continue the duel," Leo waved his hand for the recording to start.

"Tell me, Ishizu, do you still think destiny is on your side or have you finally faced up to the undeniable truth that this duel is mine?" Kaiba jerked his thumb toward himself.

The native Egyptian's gaze never wavered from a stone glare.

"You know, I gotta hand it to her," Joey admired. "She's about to get stomped, but that Ishizu is keeping her cool."

Tristan's eyebrows furrowed, "Yeah, I'm starting to think that maybe she does know something we don't."

"No way, that's just an act," Duke shot down the possibility.

Tea summed up, "Act or no act, she's in big trouble."

"Yeah," Joey approved. "Thanks to Kaiba, most of her monsters are in the graveyard now."

Almost out of context, Yugi let out a soft, "Oh, no." He was thinking deeply about something, this time glancing for the umpteenth time at Marik. Whatever he realized, he did not elaborate.

Kaiba reiterated, "Your most powerful monsters are in the graveyard and soon the rest of your cards will join them."

"I'm well aware of your plan, Kaiba."

Kaiba pointed at his face down card. "Ha! This is it. My face down card will finish you off. Virus Cannon! Wipe out ten magic cards in her deck." A mechanical arachnid appeared with a harpoon mimicking the tail of a bacteriophage aiming directly at Ishizu.

"What's this?" finally, Yugi tore his glare from Marik to watch the duel. As now Kaiba's strategy was just beginning, it was wise of him to start paying attention. On the other side of the deck, Marik chuckled at the blooming action.

The billionaire's lips cracked into an unhealthy grin. "I'm about to destroy your deck, or what's left of it." The Virus Cannon drew in energy and fired a spherical bust of energy, hitting her duel disk. She recoiled, instinctively touching her arm in pain. "Heh. And now, almost every magic card has been sent to the graveyard."

"That's a pretty decent card," Yusei said. "But now-a-days a card like that would just be the special effect of a monster."

"Ooh, that's good—I'm typing the comparisons down," Luna said, bringing up a blank document. "If anything else, this project can just be a compare and contrast essay instead of researching a specific card."

Leo shrugged, "Whatever." His sister always seemed to find something to do.

Ishizu's duel disk started smoking, singeing her wrist. If it caused any pain, she did not show it.

Nonetheless, Kaiba took pleasure from her loss. He cackled, "Hahaha! As if your deck wasn't pathetic enough. First my Crush Card destroyed all your high powered monsters, and then my cannon did the same thing to your Magic Cards. Your deck is no longer a threat; so, do you still think I'm gonna lose?"

Ishizu discarded the greater portion of her deck into her Graveyard. "I do," she said, staring defiantly at him. "You played into my hands, Kaiba. Now, you sealed your own fate."

"Nonsense," Kaiba frowned. He probably expected a more negative response from her after crippling her deck. "I've heard enough of your false predictions."

The Millennium Necklace gleamed under the moonlight. "My predictions are quite real. And now you've fallen into my trap."

It took a moment for him to realize that he really might have made a mistake. "But…how? Your cards—they're gone!" he stuttered. His face twisted.

"Looks like he's in for it now," Leo said.

Ishizu allowed herself the slightest and briefest of smiles. "I still have my trap cards. Reveal Exchange of the Spirit!" The card flipped upward with the wave of her hand. "This card will be the beginning of your downward spiral of defeat, Kaiba. At the cost of one thousand life points, my trap replaces each of the cards of our decks with those in our graveyards."

Kaiba looked as if he could murder her where she stood. The duel disks blinked with the signal to discard cards; the Graveyard ready to chew up the monsters, magic, and traps.

"Wait, what just happened? I missed that bit," Luna looked up from her notes.

"Sometimes it's better to just listen and not take notes," Leo said, closing her document. He poked at her, "Pay attention, why don'cha?"

Yugi explained to his friends, "Earlier, Kaiba sent almost every monster in Ishizu's deck right to the graveyard. Now she gets them all back, along with the magic cards she lost last turn." As he spoke, the Egyptian neatly exchanged her slight deck with the plethora in her discard pile. Clearly, she was content with the turn of events. "But Kaiba's not so lucky," Yugi continued. "He had only six cards in his graveyard. Once he uses them up, his deck will be empty, and he'll lose the duel."

"Ohhh," Luna nodded at the summary. Her eyes sparkled with awe at the King of Games. "He sure knows his stuff, doesn't he?" she sighed.

"I believe it's my turn, Kaiba."

Kaiba begrudgingly threw his deck into the Graveyard and replace his drawing pile with six cards. He growled, "Then go."

"Very well," she placed a card on the field in attack mode. "I summon Kelbek." It was some sort of robotic-type monster. Like the rest of her cards, it shared an Egyptian motif akin to the eyes on the Millennium Items.

"It looks like Kaiba's toast," Joey exclaimed. "There's no way he can turn this around with just six cards."

"He still has that Egyptian God card in his hand, doesn't he? Wouldn't he win if he played that?" Tea suggested.

Joey folded his arms. "Look at you with all the answers."

"I'll place one card face down," Ishizu declared. "That ends my turn."

Kaiba seemed at a loss; strained, even. It was like one could see all of the remaining strategies being played out in his brain, desperately trying to come up with a winning scenario.

"I love seeing Kaiba squirm like this," Joey chuckled.

All of a sudden, the doors to the elevator opened. A long, black-haired child around the twins' age burst out. "Seto!" Mokuba cried.

Yugi exclaimed as he ran past, "Mokuba?"

The child ignored him, rushing straight to his elder brother. "What happened up there?"

The voice of his brother seemed to snap Kaiba out of his trance. "Nevermind. Have you finished translating that card yet?"

"Not quite yet." Mokuba shook his head, a bit disappointed in himself that he didn't fulfill his brother's expectations. "There's still one line left, Seto!"

Ishizu tapped her fingers on her cards. "Make your move. "

"When I'm ready!" Kaiba barked. His head seemed to be a bit cleared now. If anything, the presence of his younger brother reinvigorated him.

"You will pick virus cannon," she informed. Kaiba's hand paused, and then trembled as he reached for his six-card deck. "Take a look."

The expression on Kaiba's face revealed surprise and anxiety. No doubt, he had just drawn the card.

"It looks like the Millennium Necklace does have some sort of power," Luna concluded. "It's kind of frightening."

Leo looked at the other two Millennium Items on the deck. "And apparently, the Millennium Rod can control others," he said. "But what does the Item around Yugi's neck do?"

Luna slouched. "Dunno." She looked at Yusei, who had the expression that he was once again keeping his thoughts to himself. Why did he do that? His questions deserved to be asked like everyone else's. "Yusei, what are your thoughts on this?"

"Huh?" the duelist looked from her gaze on Ishizu's necklace back to the twins. He placed a hand on his chin, determining how to phrase what he was about to say. "I was just wondering how many other Items there are."

"…That's a really good question," Leo complimented.

"What you said before—about how all of us with the Marks finding each other—I was thinking that if there were additional Items, I'd bet that they were all on this blimp right now," he disclosed.

That was another troubling thought. Those more powerful Items could all be located in the same place…

Ishizu asked, "You have chosen virus cannon, correct? I'll take your silence as a yes. So go ahead and play your trap card right now. You can't escape what the future holds."

"I will not listen to anymore of this nonsense! Activate virus cannon!" he commanded.

"My trap will send it straight to the graveyard. Activate Muko!" Ishizu countered. "I'm afraid that's the end of your cannon." Kaiba deposited the card into his graveyard. "And so it will be the end of you, Kaiba."

Mokuba bit his lip, "Oh, no!" He seemed utterly distraught at watching his only family member being hit by a counter attack.

Yugi said, "Oh, yes."

"Have you accepted the power of my Millennium Necklace yet? Or do you still deny that I have already foreseen your defeat?" It sounded as if she were almost taunting him, getting small revenge on having her powers mocked in the first place.

"Make your move," he said acidly.

"Kaiba's Dark Gremlin is standing there, doing nothing, when everyone knows it's the stronger monster," Joey said. "So, why isn't Kaiba attacking?"

Yugi posed a possible explanation, "Maybe Kaiba doesn't want to attack yet."

"Huh?" Joey blinked, a bit stupefied. "That doesn't sound like the Kaiba I know, Yug."

"Yes, well, Kaiba is in quite a tough situation here. He wants to summon his Egyptian god card, but he doesn't have enough monsters to sacrifice," Yugi explained. "So, he may be planning to sacrifice Ishizu's monsters instead."

"That's what I'd do," Yusei shifted his weight. "But does Kaiba have the card combination to do it is the real question."

Joey looked back up at their duel comprehensively."Oh, so that's why he's not attacking her."

"And now I summon Zorga in attack mode!" Ishizu called a purple robed wraith the field, its cloak billowing in the high altitude winds.

At the appearance of a third creature, Kaiba cracked a smile: three monsters to be used as tribute.

Immediately, Yugi knew what he was planning. "Kaiba! Listen to me!" At his voice, Kaiba whipped his attention to Yugi. "You're in over your head," Yugi warned.

"Stay out of this."

"This tournament of yours is more than just a game," Yugi half argued, half pleaded. "Have you not seen the damage Marik has caused so far? The people he's harmed? You might be next. There is an ancient magic at work that cannot be denied! And if you continue to ignore it, you're a fool."

"Hpmh," he disregarded Yugi, focusing back to his opponent. "Alright, let's go—make your move."

"You'll regret those words, Kaiba. Zorga—attack his Dark Gremlin with your Cape of Destruction!" The creature actually destroyed the imp with its…cape. "But that's not all: come back Kelbek-and attack his life points directly!"

"Grr-ugh!" Kaiba recoiled from the attack as his life points lowered to thirteen hundred fifty. Irritated, he stammered, "Are you done?" Now, there were only two monsters on the field.

Ishizu shook her head. "No, Kaiba. Next I'll place this card face down. And now I am done."

For a moment, Kaiba was back in his thoughts as he surveyed the face down card. Finally, he began his turn. "I hope you're ready. Ready to lose, that is! I draw!"

"Activate trap card, Muko!" Ishizu instantly activated her trap.

"My card—it goes straight to the graveyard!" he sputtered, clenching his fists.

Duke observed, "Looks like Kaiba's running pretty low on cards to me."

"Yeah," Joey concurred. "If he still wants to summon Obelisk, then he'd better move fast."

"You got that right, but is it possible?" Tristan asked.

Joey shrugged. "It's possible, but it seems like a long shot to me."

"Let's go, Seto! I know you can do this!" Mokuba was the only voice that cheered, his eyes starting to water. "There's no way you're gonna lose this, big brother! Use your secret weapon, now!"

If Kaiba heard his younger brother, he gave no acknowledgement. "I place this face down! Make your move."

"One more direct attack and he's history," Joey informed the other spectators. "So whatever facedown card he placed better be strong."

Yusei looked from Kaiba to Ishizu, and then back to the face down card. "Kaiba's got this planned out," he said. "That card will determine the success of his next moves."

The twins looked at the older duelist. They knew better to question his judgments on the game.

"It's the begging of the end. Now I shall place one card face down," Ishizu announced. "Now I summon the monster, Agido." It appeared as a red sphere with golden arms and wings, a single eye at its center.

Agido was the last summon needed, and with three monsters now on the field, Kaiba wasted no time. "Kelbek, Agido, Zorga! These monsters are now in my control, and they will soon be sacrificed. Open face down card, Soul Exchange!" Kaiba yelled the release on his trap.

Wind blew harshly through the field, billowing Kaiba's coattails and Ishizu's veil. Ishizu waited silently and showed no shock as her monsters disappeared from her side of the field. There was a hush of breath from the audience; they knew what was about to come. Kaiba raised a single, dark card mightily into the air. "And now I will summon my Egyptian God Card. Show yourself, Obelisk the Tormentor!"

A ripple to static pulsed though the arena. Within a millisecond, a pillar of blue light projected from the field into the sky, distorting the clouds above. Shining particles drifted down as silently as lightning, swirling and condensing. They formed another column of light that cascaded from the heavens. Watching the spectacle, Kaiba cackled, arms outstretched, "Hahaha!"

As he basked in the imposing light, the outline of an almighty creature materialized. A stifling pressure built around them—the kind that prevented water from boiling at its usual temperature.

Its tremendous form obscured the bow of the blimp as the projectors struggled to make out its form. It was humanoid in appearance, with greatly exaggerated muscles and blue skin as tough as titanium. Massive wings projects from it back, balancing its gigantic form. Its face showed prominent skull-like features and deep, red eyes set into an expression of horrid judgment.

A stifling pressure built around them—the kind that prevented water from boiling at its usual temperature. And the creature exhaled as if awakening from a long slumber, steam emitting from between its teeth and out its massive nostrils.

The three spectators from the future all stared in awe at the tremendous creature. They had never seen something so arresting, so magnificent in their lives. This was the Tormentor, a beast fashioned after an ancient Egyptian God, a prosecutor and punisher of the mortal and monsters alike.

"This is a real God Card," Luna whispered. "Obelisk the Tormentor." The name was almost sacred.

For once, Leo had nothing to say. Either the visual effects of the past were better than the future's, or that God actually was alive.

"To command such a creature…," Yusei began. "No—for Obelisk to actually obey Seto Kaiba—that's the real impressive aspect."

From the silence of the rest of the viewers, Marik's comment could be heard, "Ah, things are getting interesting." He was not daunted at all by the God's presence.

Mokuba, finding his voice in the presence of such a creature rooted, "Alright! Go, bro!"

Joey took a step back, his eyes trained on the beast behind Kaiba. "Whoa! Kaiba scarified Ishizu's monsters so he could summon his own."

"Still think I'm going to lose?" Kaiba's smirk did not disappear. "Let's see which is stronger, your necklace or my Egyptian God Card?"

"We shall find out," Ishizu said slowly, her face showing some apprehension.

"Counting on a piece of jewelry is pathetic! To win a duel takes skill and an extremely powerful deck," he preached. "You'll see that soon as I attack you with Obelisk the Tormentor and wipe out your life points."

There was a long delay before she responded. "Try as you may, there's no escape from the defeat that awaits you in your next move."

"Fat chance. You have no monsters left to protect you," he grinned. "Hmph. So spare me the doom and gloom speech and just surrender to me now.

"Yugi, can Ishizu be right about Kaiba losing even though he has an Egyptian god card on the field?" Tea asked. "Uh…Yugi?"

Ishizu waited. "Attack me, Kaiba."

Her attitude seemed to annoy him the most. "The end is here. No one can survive the fury of Obelisk," he boasted.

At this point, Marik turned on his heels, heading for the elevator. Before he could get five paces away, a glow emitted from the Millennium Rod clenched in his hand.

"Alright—" Kaiba lifted his hand.

The Rod shined even brighter than before.

Yugi looked warily at the Millennium Rod. "What's going on?"

"—Obelisk, att—," Kaiba stopped mid order, his muscles tensing and his face frozen in shock.

"Hey—check out Kaiba," Joey noticed.

Yugi narrowed his eyes. "For some reason he stopped his attack."

"Yeah, but why?" Joey spoke for the entire group.

Mokuba called to his brother. "You okay? Snap out of it bro!" But it was no use; Kaiba was paralyzed with confusion sprinkled with fear and awe, his eyes swiveling back and forth as if rapidly reading something.

Ishizu noticed his change, and her expression quickly shifted to one of distraught. She gasped, the grip on her cards loosening.

After what seemed like a minute, Kaiba almost stumbled forward. He caught himself before he fell, gripping his forehead.

"The Millennium Rod is affecting Kaiba," Yugi stated slowly, almost to himself.

But the duel was proceeding once again. Kaiba rapidly brought things up to speed. "Observe as I active my Magic Card, Silent Doom, which lets me summon a card from my Graveyard—Gadget Soldier in defense mode!"

Ishizu's expression of surprise did not change. Something totally unexpected had happened, but it was almost impossible to tell if she liked this change in events or not. Kaiba held up two fingers. "Before I can summon my Blue Eyes White Dragon, I must sacrifice two monsters." He pointed to Obelisk, "First, this!"

"Oh, no!" Ishizu's eyes widened.

"That's right—it's my Egyptian God Card!" Kaiba did not stutter. His move was made with the confidence as if he had seen the future.

Marik scowled at the concept of sacrificing a God Card. "Ridiculous!"

Joey yelled in disbelief, "No way, man!"

"What's he's thinking?" Tea gasped.

Even Yugi was surprised. "It can't be."

"Hear me now! I won't be controlled!" Kaiba yelled over the roar of the wind and blimp. "I decide my future, so now I sacrifice my monsters: Obelisk and Gadget Soldier. I send you to the card graveyard!"

Ishizu was in shock. She placed a hand over her chest. The Gadget Soldier disappeared into the card afterlife. After a few moments of dissolving its massive frame, Obelisk vanished from the field as well.

"But Obelisk was a God Card. How could have easily wiped out her life points with it," Leo exclaimed, pausing the duel.

Yusei rubbed his chin. "If someone had a God Card, it'd be pretty obvious that it would be used in battle," he said. "She practically helped him summon the creature to the field. I think she was planning for him to attack with Obelisk—and her own counterattack would have to do with her face-down card."

Leo looked back to the duel. "That would have been one heck of a counter," he said. "Good thing he called off the attack at the last moment."

Luna shot a quick glance to Marik. "Or good thing the Millennium Rod brought him to his senses."

"Whatever he's planning to summon now will have to be powerful if he wants to finish the duel," Leo said.

"I think I have an idea of what he's going to summon," Luna said, a small smile forming and continued the recording.

"You're so quiet, Ishizu, where's your magic now?" he mocked. "Or have you realized that there's no such thing as destiny? Now observe as I summon my Blue Eyes! Show yourself!"

The special effect generators clicked into overdrive, their generators rumbling. A beautiful and pristine dragon emerged onto the field, letting out a roar that could no doubt be heard for a mile around. Its silver scales glistened white under the stars, seemingly emitting its own fluorescence too. It cast its sapphire eyes on Kaiba's opponent, baring its fangs at the being who threatened its master.

Ishizu's whisper was just barely audible. She was astonished at the beast that hovered behind Kaiba. "So somehow Kaiba was able to change the future by summoning his Blue Eyes White Dragon."

"But how? What did he see?" Marik demanded, clenching his Millennium Rod and staring daggers at the billionaire.

"'What did he see'?" Luna repeated, but the contestants continued talking, interrupting her thoughts.

"Ishizu, if you could foresee all my moves, how did Blue Eyes surprise you? Unless, of course, you're nothing but a fake as I suspected," Kaiba said, his smirk was gone. He was more disappointed than angry. Ishizu just offered a grim, but satisfied, smile. For some reason, she did not mind being accused of hypocrisy.

"Time to finish you off! Blue Eyes White Dragon—attack!" The dragon charged its energy, gathering particles of white light into its massive jaws. "Wipe out her life points with White Lightning Attack! Farewell," Kaiba bid.

The Blue Eyes fired an enormous force at Ishizu, sending shockwaves of electricity though the small stage. Luna and Leo could practically feel the prickle of energy though the recording. The audience held their breath as the arena was enveloped in pure white light. Two seconds later, the field cleared. Ishizu was left beaten but standing as her life points dropped to zero. She straightened, brushing some invisible dust off her dress as if nothing had happened. "Victory is mine—that's it," Kaiba concluded.

The Announcer found his breath, "The winner of this duel is Seto Kaiba!"

"Alright!" Mokuba cried, jumping up and down. "I knew that you were gonna win this duel all along, big brother."

Ishizu let out a breath of air. She appeared relieved, even serene, like something had reassured her. "Very impressive, Kaiba. You managed to overcome the fate my Millennium Necklace showed me," she congratulated. "Your past is the key to your power."

Kaiba gave her a dubious look. "I've won this duel for the same reasons I'll win the tournament—my superior skills and intelligence."

Ishizu ignored his boasting. "Perhaps, but you taught me a valuable lesson about the nature of destiny, and for that I am grateful, Kaiba." She nodded to herself, her necklace sparkling one last time. "You have given me hope for changing the future of my brother."

For a moment, her face showed a tinge of sadness and regret, but it was gone within the next moment. "I may have lost the duel, but in the process I have gained something of far greater importance: the realization that if I am to win this battle for my brother's spirit—I'll need your help, Kaiba," she looked gratefully at him. "Thank you, for I know you will help me save my brother."

"Hmph. Believe whatever you need to, Ishizu," he said, not bothering to boast or insult anymore. The platform lowered. "But I'm only in this for myself." He walked off the stage.

"Alright, Seto! What an awesome duel!" Mokuba praised, rushing towards Kaiba. His dark eyes sparkled in admiration. On Kaiba's part, there was a slight pause in his stride when his little brother gave his appreciation, too brief to truly point out. "You really are the best duelist I know!"

As Kaiba made his way towards the elevators, Joey quipped, "Here comes Johnny sunshine."

Kaiba ignored the comment, but stopped beside Yugi. "If I was you, I'd start preparing for our duel now, Yugi," it sounded more of a threat than advice.

"I will." There was no malice in his response, only the small feeling that he was indeed looking forward to a duel.

"Good luck—you'll need it…Hmph," the billionaire strode away, his younger brother jogging to keep up.

The computer spoke: End of recording.

The gusty deck faded back to the rectangular and state of the art simulation room. The various circuits, screens, and cameras could now be seen as if they were in some hi-tech studio rather than a digital library.

The three were silent for a moment, relishing the past they had witnessed. Only Leo was busy typing into his personal document as if trying to write down the many questions formulating in his head. Yusei was the first to speak. "The Blue Eyes White Dragon is a very good card." The statement sounded useless even to his ears, but at least it could be a start to a conversation.

"That was his ace," Luna notified. "It's said that every battle he was in, the Blue Eyes was summoned. It's part of the set of cards that Maximillion Pegasus first created when making the game."

"Interesting how he went out of his way to summon it," Leo said. "I mean c'mon—sacrificing an Egyptian God Card? Even Marik was wacked out about that. Even more so than he already was."

Yusei chucked, but then turned serious. "I'll go by what I said earlier: he probably called Ishizu's facedown as a trap."

Luna bit her lip. "I think it had to do with whatever was going on with Marik's Millennium Rod."

"I'm actually starting to think that, too," Yusei disclosed. "Didn't even Yugi Moto say something about that rod affecting Kaiba?"

"Yeah, you're right."

Yusei looked at the profile of Ishizu Ishtar. It was a basic photo of her staring steadily at the camera, taken for the Battle City Tournament. She was wearing the Millennium Necklace, but its gaze seemed timeless even in photograph. "So, she was wrong about fate," he said softly. He looked at the Luna. "Kaiba was able to overcome her predictions. So what does that really mean?"

The girl looked at the Ishtar's profile and then decided to bring up the small tournament information on Yugi, Kaiba, and Marik. "It could mean a couple of different things," she said. "Obviously—she could be just wrong about fate being dictated. Or, from what we saw of the Millennium Rod, somehow the Items can change that fate. Another option is that something can interfere with the Items, obscuring what she 'saw' though her necklace."

Yusei looked at Kaiba, whose picture depicted him intently frowning as if to say 'what a waste of time.' He then looked at Marik's photo. It showed a half smiling young man with an ambitious, almost mysterious look on his face. The strange thing was, Marik looked normal. "How come he looks so different now?"

"Oh, you mean…the hair and the eye on his forehead?" Luna said, stifling an awkward smile. "Marik didn't always look as weird as you just saw him. When we saw the Joey versus Odion duel, he was still 'normal.' We skipped a duel and went to the one we just saw—and somehow Marik had changed."

"Kinda like how we saw Yugi Moto change," Leo added. "That Yugi in the picture isn't like the duelist you just saw, either."

"You're right," Yusei noticed. Yugi's photo from the archives showed an adolescent that looked a lot younger for his age, complete with bright eyes and a warm smile. The other Yugi in the recording looked similar, but there was something more on edge and cool in his look.

Yugi Moto, Seto Kaiba, and Marik Ishtar: people all connected with the Millennium Items, and all three holding their own God Cards. What did it take for someone to wield such a card? How could one even command it, if the entity had its own mind? What sort of person would be willing to use it against another if it could cause a coma?

Marik, first of all, appeared to know the most of the God Cards. In fact, he treated them more reverently than Yusei would for his own Stardust Dragon. No doubt, he would not hesitate to use the power against another, even if it meant harming someone.

Kaiba apparently had received his own God Card from Ishizu, putting it immediately to good use with research and winning his own spot in the tournament finals. Same as Marik, it did not appear to give two cares about the well being of his opponent if on the wrong side of a God Card. Another observation Yusei made was that Obelisk had practically reflected Kaiba's demeanor when summoned. It had been itching to make a blow at Ishizu, and had appeared to be readying its punch before Kaiba even called out his move. Then, at the moment of truth, it had withdrawn immediately on Kaiba's orders.

Yugi, on the other hand, did not give the feeling that he would willingly use a God Card against a friend. At the same time, he appeared determining on winning. Yusei wondered what would happen if these two opposing forces happened to be in the same duel.

"It's said that there were more secrets in the King of Game's deck and strategy than the total amount of cards in the game," Luna said.

Yusei raised an eyebrow. "Nice analogy, but I'm not sure if that makes sense."

"This game doesn't make sense," Leo mumbled.

"That's 'cuz you don't win all the time," Luna crossed. "And what are you typing, anyway? I doubt that you're writing notes down."

A pause. "You're right about the notes thing," he said, trying to ignore her comment on his dueling skills. "But I'm just doing research."

"On what?" Yusei asked.

"Remember when we learned that Ishizu had given Kaiba Obelisk? Well, Ishizu came into this country right around this time," he pointed to a block of days on a calendar. "And this is the weekend of the Battle City Tournament, when Obelisk was first used."

"They could have met way before then," Luna pointed out.

"But he didn't use Obelisk in Pegasus' tournament," Leo said, bringing up a screen with a newspaper scan. The cover depicted an article an old Domino City Museum's exhibit about Ancient Egypt.

Luna's eyes widened. "It newspaper says something about Ishizu Ishtar!"

"Yeah, and this video shows her inviting Seto Kaiba to the exhibit personally," Leo said. "My guess—that is when he received the card."

"And then he arranged the tournament to draw in the other God Cards," Yusei said, looking at the newspaper. A small black and white photograph showed blurry old tablets in glass cases. He narrowed his eyes. "Can't you bring up any better pictures of the exhibit?"

Leo shook his head. "Sorry."

Luna paced. "So Kaiba got Obelisk though Ishizu. Yugi has Sleifer, and we know he won that in one of his previous duels. Marik must have the Winged Dragon of Ra." She looked at the duelists' profiles. "They all made their way to Domino City along with the Millennium Items. But why?"

There was a silence in the room.

"Something about a Pharaoh?...Living in the Millennium Puzzle?" Leo tried, letting out a laugh. "At least the Items look Egyptian enough. And the God Cards all have to do with Egypt. The Ishtars are from Egypt as well."

"Hey, Leo, do you remember something in our dueling history class about the origin of the game being in Egypt?" Luna asked.

"Are you kidding me?" Leo stifled a laugh. "I mean, I don't really remember anything from that class, but are you really suggesting that the Ancient Egyptians played Duel Monsters?"

Luna frowned, folding her arms. "Nevermind," she whipped her head to the side.

"Luna, sorry. It just sounds kind of silly."

"But everything is pointing to Egypt!" she said. "Ishizu even suggested that there was a pharaoh living inside the Puzzle."

"If that's true, Luna, then why would he be in the Puzzle? What would be the point of entombing a soul into an object for five thousand years?" Leo asked. "What would be the purpose of connecting these supposedly powerful items to a game?"

"Maybe they weren't used for a game in the first place."

"Then what, Luna, might they have been used for?"

"If not a game, then...then," She fell silent, thinking.

Yusei stepped in between the siblings. "These questions can't be answered as of yet." Yusei looked at the golden, upside-down pyramid strapped around Yugi Moto's neck. Everything around the Battle City period, although a cardinal point in Duel Monster history, was shrouded in mystery. The God Cards were never used beyond the tournament, their legends slowly breaking down to whispers of a myth. The other contestants, their injuries, their triumphs, all quietly covered up.

But now they were all conveniently compiled in the Neo Domino City virtual library. He gave Leo a stern look, one that could have passed for a responsible adult.

"Alright, alright," the boy threw his hands up, turning to his sister. "Sorry about putting you on the spot. So, even if I did believe in an ages old spirit in an ancient artifact, that still begs the question of why?"

"Leo, the last question of an investigation is the 'why', dummy," she said.

Yusei said, "If something's not used for a game, then it's used in all intensive purposes."

"So, they might have been used to help people?" Leo said, and then quickly added, "If they do have power, that is. That, or to harm people."

"That's usually the case with inventions anyway," Yusei said. "For entertainment or military, and I suppose the preservation of life."

"Okay, okay. So the point of their invention was for either leisure or war, like any other invention," Leo shrugged. "But my real question was about that Pharaoh guy sticking around for so long."

"Yeah, yeah…that's the tough one," Luna sighed, beginning to review what she knew. "So Marik has some sort of grudge against this Pharaoh…something about keeping a Pharaoh's or tomb's secrets?" Yusei and Leo both nodded, urging her to continue. "And for some reason, he and Ishizu knew that the same Pharaoh was still around, despite the fact that five thousand years had come and gone."

"Don't forget about Kaiba—he's also tied into this, somehow," Leo reminded. He looked at the newspaper article. "Whatever he was associated with, he probably was told his purpose in the Egyptian showcasing at the museum."

"I don't think we'll be able to answer that 'why' question until we view some more duels," Yusei said.

"I doubt that we'll be able to answer it even with watching the entire Finals," Leo said, rubbing his head. "'Cuz this is making my brain hurt."

"Leo, your brain doesn't have any pain receptors for itself."

"You know what I mean," Leo said. "It's just hard to believe."

"We've seen many unbelievable things before, so this isn't too difficult to understand," Yusei said. "These duels are something serious under the guise of game. I have a feeling that whatever's in the tournament is using the abilities of these Millennium Items to their fullest. The Items are being used the way they were meant to be—not in a game, but in a duel where the stakes are higher than one's title or pride."

"So maybe it's best to say that this is not just a coincidence that the God Cards and these Items made their way onto the same ship?" Leo asked.

"Perhaps," Luna said. "On the other hand, Ishizu stated that she suggested Kaiba coordinate this Tournament in the first place. Would the God Cards and Items find their way without this intervention? I don't think. For one thing, these God Cards were meant to be a secret. Why use them in a broadcasted tournament if she could just gather them secretly? She could have just used her Necklace-thing."

"That just implies that she wasn't able to obtain the cards back from Marik all on her own, even with an Item," Leo countered. "As for your first question, we can never know."

The twins glared at each other.

"Destiny—that's what this is," Yusei described. "Things will happen only at the appropriate time, right when all the players have come together. I bet that the Items and God Cards were always meant to wind up in the same place, eventually. Ishizu, with the power of the Millennium Necklace, might have pushed fate for that to occur more rapidly."

"Anyways, I guess the next duel will be the one that we skipped," Luna clicked through the archives. "Here it is: Mai Valentine versus Marik Ishtar." She hesitated before selecting the title. "This is the battle that has the Winged Dragon of Ra: the most enigmatic and powerful creature the game has ever known." She held her breath. "You ready?"

Yusei and Leo nodded, and she pressed 'enter' on the light keyboard to start the recording.


~longer A/N~

I tried to put a little problem-solving for the 5D's characters and how they view all the Egyptian 'hocus-pocus.' I'm still tentative on adding in how Yusei feels about the mysticism going on, especially how he relates to his own problems with the supernatural. Why? Because this author is not too sure about the explanation of the 'Earthbound Immortals' and ancient Incans…and how they tie into card games. But if any of you have suggestions, just review or pm me (or on anything else as well).

Hoh boy, their introduction to the Shadow Realm is next, huh? Might be difficult, cuz as I remember from the original:

Monsters= manifestation of inner psyche extracted into real life by Millennium Items; essentially a form of spirit

Shadow Realm= where the monsters/spirits lie...where bad things are, and what the 'evilness' of humans end up forming

Which basically makes me confused about this whole 'Netherworld'/Hell thing. And whatever Luna's Ancient Fairy Dragon rules over. And now we have those new 5D villains that imply-- bottom line here, guys—that God really likes one hell of a strategy game. So yeah, I'm not going to dabble too much into the mythos of 5Ds, but there will be some association in the chapters to come.

Also, I might cut out some cheerleading dialogue because it's a bit tedious.

Also also, regarding the Shadow Duel…yes, the blimp-camera will have managed to record it. Why? Because then the 5D's character wouldn't be able to witness the duel, and this story would lose half its duels.

Well, please review! Comments, corrections, and constructive criticism appreciated!

Next time: Mai v. Marik, Pt. 1! What's this? Shadow Realm used as plot device to turn this into a proper cross-over fic?