This is what happens when a world based on card games falls. The characters, tired of the tyranny of dice games, decide to literally stage a revolution.
This story was inspired by Moulin Rouge! but adapted for the Yu-Gi-Oh! universe. It focuses more on the revolution than the romance. I also wrote filk songs (sort of like parodies written specifically for a fandom). Also, it takes place in the future (Mokuba is eighteen, so that'd make everyone else about twenty-three).
I attempted to blend the Abridged canon and the English dub canon (with one slight reference to the Singapore dub in a later chapter).
The blocks of lyrics are in italics. Here are some (head)notes to tell you to what tune the lyrics are set, and some other stuff:
(1) This part is to the tune of "American Pie" by Don McLean.
(2) The lyrics Tristan and Yugi sing during this part are set to "The Hills are Alive" from the Sound of Music.
Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh, its Abridged Series, Moulin Rouge (not the book and not the movie), or any of the songs parodied in this story.
"A great many years ago, late one cold December..."
Bandit Keith's voice drifting from the nearby bar reminded the hollowed-out Domino City of its current situation. The streets were deserted, save for a few vagabonds and stray cats. The fall of dueling and the current political unrest had taken quite a toll on the city.
Sometimes, the stray cats attacked the hobos, unable to find any mice. Perhaps one of the residents of the many crumbling apartment buildings and boarding houses could help them drive off the feral felines, if they weren't so caught up in their own troubles.
"I thought I'd count the ceiling tiles."
One of those residents, though not dealing with a cheating spouse, unruly children, or substance abuse, still found reason to be devastated to the point of not wanting to crawl out of the dirty bed sheet cocoon.
"And maybe if I lost my pants,
My whole day'd be enhanced."
Twenty-four year old Tristan Taylor lay supine on his tiny bed in his tiny apartment. Old laundry was his carpet; tattered, rejected manuscripts were his wallpaper (though they didn't do much to insulate the tiny room). The window refused to close, leaving him in the cold like the vagabonds on the streets below. Unlike the vagabonds, however, he was not subject to feral cat attacks, as his window was too high and there were not enough footholds for the cats to leap onto.
His furniture was placed haphazardly across the floors of every room. He'd tried to move things, change the rooms to erase any memories of the events that had happened there, but gave up when he realized it was useless. His super-strength was all tapped out.
"And maybe it'd distract me from the bile." (1)
The task didn't even distract him from the memories he was trying to erase. He turned to his typewriter, but wrote nothing but crap for months, drawing attention to his slowly choking career. Nothing, absolutely nothing he wrote would ever be as good as the play he'd written while with him.
He stared at the typewriter and wished it had Internet access.
The previous year and a half ago, he'd moved back to Domino City. Yahtzee Town was as dead as a housefly born in 2004. No sense in staying in a place where the only job one could get involved a silly hat and a drive-thru window.
Of course, his father didn't approve of any part of it. Part of the reason they'd moved away from Domino in Tristan's senior year was to get the hell out of Dodge before it crumbled.
"That city is a den of sin. All they were good for was card games and now that's over," he'd called down the hall as Tristan packed his suitcases.
Tristan drowned him out; his father always had some sort of complaint, even when he was in high school. Tristan's father never liked his friends. He'd tried to push Tristan into law or business school. And now he wanted to keep Tristan from doing the one thing that would allow him to actually distinguish himself from every other man in his family.
His father sighed, ran his hands over his graying hair-spike, and tried to reason with his son. "There's nothing there for you. You're going to end up with a stripper and a mean case of the syphilis." Tristan continued to carry his bags to his dented and rusted hatchback as his father ranted on (most likely about the fact that Tristan drove around in such a "distasteful" car).
"Why would you even want to move to such a pit?" Tristan's father finally yelled from the porch.
Tristan paused after closing the back. "To find work and love."
His father threw his arms up in the air and stomped back into the house. "Always with the love! Just hopeless!" The door slammed shut behind him. Tristan sank into the car and backed out of the driveway in silence.
Tristan was determined to prove his father wrong. He was going to find a great job. He wasn't going to be like everyone else in his family, suffocating in their prefab houses (in no world could they rightly be called homes). He was going to write, no matter how much his father told him his English degree was useless in today's world, and he was going to fall in love doing it.
He found a cheap apartment. It was perfect: it was in a peaceful neighborhood, not too small, near the center of the city, and had its very own bathroom (most of the tenants had to use the communal toilets on the roof). It had everything Tristan needed.
Including a plentiful supply of rats in case he ran out of food.
And a great ventilation system, by way of the stuck open window.
And a cat-based security system.
So it wasn't heaven. That was fine; Tristan didn't expect Shangri-la. And when he'd been living there for a week, the cats on the porch got used to him and stopped trying to eat his legs. All he needed was a safe, quiet place to write.
He'd gotten a job writing for a newspaper. He was a hopeless romantic, married to his dream, but he took a mistress in reality. He couldn't sustain himself on playwriting alone. When he sat down to write, he was reminded of this fact because he couldn't think of anything worth developing past Act II. He'd write a scene, realize it was going nowhere, realize the characters had no motive or relationship whatsoever, and toss it, vowing to take a different, better approach to his next idea.
He couldn't bear to throw his terrible ideas away, though. Maybe he could rework them into something readable-or at least use them to keep a fire going when the heating system inevitably gave out.
It was an October evening and he was banging away at the typewriter that'd fallen off a truck. He was presently trying to write a love story. It sounded like a good idea; romance novels sold pretty well, just look at that vampire book that was killing on the shelves. However, having never even dated, he was unprepared.
Above him, male voices alternated singing (somewhat off-pitch) and arguing. Tristan never saw his upstairs neighbors. They seemed to be home so rarely (and Tristan would know, since he spent most of his time in his apartment) he wondered if they even lived here. The noise didn't bother him much, but it might make concentration on his story harder. He didn't mean to eavesdrop, but he couldn't help catching a few key words of their conversation, such as "warbling," "sheep," and "lubrication."
Tristan took a break from his writing to listen more closely.
"I'm not changing it. I refuse to change my art to suit the plebian masses," a smooth, effeminate voice floated out.
"Nobody's going to watch it if they don't get it," a more youthful, raspy voice argued.
"Then phooey on them! This is art; it's not my fault the viewers are uncultured urchins."
A pause, then the effeminate voice barked, "Yami!"
A slight snore, then a deeper voice: "What? What did I miss?"
Collective sighs and general utterances of frustration.
"Why don't we take it from the top?" suggested a voice similar to the deep one, only at a higher pitch.
The music started up again. Their voices sure sounded familiar, but Tristan couldn't hear well through the floor and the noise from outside. He wondered what exactly they were doing up there that involved music, incomprehensible art, and sheep. He couldn't make out the lyrics of the song and he wasn't a music expert, but someone was having issues navigating up and down the scale.
"No, no, no, no!" The effeminate voiced man could probably be heard from the basement. "Hear that-warbling like a…a…warbler! You need to lubricate your throats with water and stop drinking all that Abysmalinth."
The men, all but the deeper voiced one, began to protest. Tristan could hear soft snoring under the arguing.
The next thing Tristan knew, the ceiling caved in and a male figure fell through onto his patched couch.
Tristan left his chair and went to inspect. On his couch was a skinny man of average height with black, red, and blond hair spiked up with blond tendrils hanging over his face. His blue tank top was speckled with debris from the ceiling and his red kilt had flown up in the fall, revealing his pyramid-patterned underwear. Being unconscious, the guy didn't seem to care much.
"Wait a minute. I thought he left us in high school," Tristan thought, seeing the extra blond streaks in the man's hair.
Tristan looked up through the hole in his ceiling and their floor. Two other men stared back down at him. One had unruly black hair and tanned arms. Tristan couldn't see his face behind all the hair.
The second had long white hair and a gold eye patch.
"Pegasus? What's he doing here?"
The black-haired man wore jeans and a t-shirt, but Pegasus's suit looked like a cross between a cowboy and Renaissance fair attendee with ruffles on steroids. They also probably wore matching embarrassed expressions as they backed away from the hole (he could only guess at the black-haired man's expression). He could hear the youthful raspy voice mumble, "My brother's gonna be so pissed."
There was a knock at the door. Tristan answered it. The visitor was a shorter, more doe-eyed version of the man on the couch. He was dressed even more outlandishly than the other one; he wore a green toga with a hoop skirt underneath.
"Tristan. I didn't know you were in town," the young man said.
"Just got in. Hey, Yugi." Tristan let him in. He gestured at the couch. "Is that…"
"Yeah, that's the Pharaoh." Yugi's cowboy boots tapped against the wood floor as he went to collect his roommate. "He goes by Yami nowadays."
"He changed his name?"
"He figured 'The Duelist Formerly Known as Pharaoh Atem' was too wordy. Also he wanted a change. New life, new name."
Tristan joined Yugi by the couch. "Is he okay?"
"He has narcolepsy. I think it's because he came back from the other side. Sometimes when he falls asleep, his hair smashes through the ceiling." Yugi looked down at Yami and sighed, smoothing down his kilt. "We try to catch him, but there's always a first time."
The black haired man appeared in the doorway. He flipped his hair out of his face and now Tristan could see that the man was an eighteen-year-old Mokuba Kaiba.
"Is he concussed?" Mokuba asked.
Yugi poked Yami, who swatted his hand away, but didn't wake up. "Doesn't seem to be. I don't think we'll be able to lift him by ourselves, though."
"I'll help." Tristan picked Yami up. He went up the stairs and into the apartment. He made sure Yami didn't slip off his shoulder and tear up the wooden stairs with his hair.
He put him down on the makeshift double bed (twin beds pushed together with a sheet over both) in the bedroom. He went back into their living room, while Mokuba stayed in the bedroom to try and wake Yami up. The room was about three-quarters the size of Tristan's, but was crammed with furniture and set pieces. Lamé curtains hung from everything, regardless of whether or not there was a window. Dueling posters plastered the walls, along with advertisements for a place called the HeighHoGoodBi Black Dragon Palace and a show to be held there.
"We're rehearsing for that right now," Yugi said, noticing Tristan studying the poster with interest. "It's a little weird, but it's a really avant-garde, dueling-based performance art piece. I'm sure it'll be at least fun to watch even if nobody gets it."
"Do you do performance art pieces often?" Tristan asked.
Yugi nodded. "In the last one we did, half of the group hung upside down and played pop songs backward on the kazoo for twenty minutes, and the other half threw playing cards at us. Also, we were naked."
"Nude," Pegasus corrected. "When it is in art, it is called 'nude.'"
Tristan was about to ask how everyone got into the performance art scene when Mokuba came out of the bedroom. "He's not waking up. Let's do it without him."
"But who'll read the part of the young shepherd-bard-bagpipe player?" Yugi asked.
Everyone scratched his head. They hoped they didn't have lice.
"I could help with that," Tristan offered.
"Yes!" They all agreed.
"Let's take it from the top, then." Pegasus waved his hands to prompt them to action.
Yugi got into position atop a mountain of crates that they were using as a hill. Mokuba plugged in a keytar and set up glasses with varying amounts of water. He played the introductory chords and Yugi began to sing.
"The topography thrives with the melodies of pleasurable vocalizations!"
Tristan cringed inwardly. No wonder Yugi was having trouble singing properly.
Mokuba clinked the glasses with a sparkly pencil while tapping a complicated riff and the keytar with just four fingers. After a few seconds, he dropped the pencil, obviously frustrated. "This isn't working."
"Of course it's not! When did we ever agree on a keytar? They are so last millennium!" Pegasus griped.
"Actually, I was talking about the lyrics."
"Impossible! My lyrics are flawless! It's that tacky synth pop that's ruining the song."
"Synth can be perfectly classy when played right!" Mokuba argued.
"Well, I guess you're doing it wrong, then!"
The two fell into a shouting match, with Yugi yelling for them to calm down and talk it over rationally and for them to remember their neighbors with the mutant supersonic hearing, all from atop the crate hill. Tristan ruminated the lyrics in his head. "The topography…Melodious…" What he spit out grabbed everyone's attention and held it for ransom.
"Duel fields, oh, they thrive! In a world of techno," Tristan sang in a clear tenor.
Everyone was open-mouthed and wide-eyed. Mokuba's hand swept over the keytar to find the correct scale.
"With notes from the gods of the ancient days," Tristan continued, this time with Mokuba's ethereal music. (2)
All was silent again.
"GENIUS!" a voice boomed from the bedroom. Yami was kneeling on the bed, violet eyes wide and wild with ecstasy (the emotion, not the drug). He wasn't even fazed when the wind blew through the window, blowing his kilt up so he tripped on it while getting off the bed. Luckily, he landed on his hands and somersaulted into the living room.
"By the gods, those were the best lyrics I've ever heard!" Yami raved. "They're perfect!"
Tristan beamed. "Thanks, dude!"
"We must have him write for us," Yami said. The others nodded, with the exception of Pegasus.
"Hmph! If no one here can appreciate my genius, I suppose I'll take it elsewhere!" With that, he flounced out the door. Nobody seemed too broken up. They'd had quite enough of Pegasus's "artistic genius."
"Are you available for the next few months?" Yugi asked Tristan.
"Yeah, I'm not doing anything important," Tristan answered. "Except for your show."
"Hurrah!" Everyone cheered.
"Okay, so how will we convince Bakura to let us do the show without Pegasus?" Mokuba asked.
"That's right; we did seal the deal when he was still on board," Yami said.
"Why do you need Bakura's permission?" Tristan asked.
"He's one of the owners of the HeighHoGoodBi Black Dragon Palace, the club where we're doing the show. He's in charge of the shows," Yami answered. "Drives a hard bargain, too. It'll be hard getting him to hire a new writer. He did seem rather fond of Pegasus."
"I have an idea." Yugi gestured for the four to huddle, football style. "We'll bring Tristan to the club and introduce him to Joey. Bakura counts on him to give them the newest, coolest ideas. This show is right up his alley. He'll love it. It'll give him every opportunity to show off his mad skills. If he likes it, he'll convince Bakura to let us put it on."
"Is this the same Joey that I'm thinking of?" Tristan asked, interested. Things sure had changed since high school.
Yugi winked. "You'll find out soon enough."
"This warrants a celebration!" Yami proposed.
"Oh, you'll find any excuse to drink," Mokuba muttered.
"Who wants Abysmalinth?" Yugi sing-songed, swishing a greenish bottle.
"Ooh, ooh, I do!" Yami waved his hand in the air.
Each emptied his glass. Tristan, who'd never tried Abysmalinth, made a face, twisting muscles he didn't know he had. The others didn't seem to be too bothered by the taste. They seemed more distracted by something in front of the door.
"Do you see what I see?" Yami asked no one in particular.
"Are you referring to the pink elephants dueling with lasers or the blue-eyed white fairy that looks disturbingly like my brother?" Mokuba responded.
Tristan looked up. Sure enough, there were pink elephants hopping across the furniture, diving and ducking as they shot lasers from their trunks. One flapped his ears and flew to dive-bomb another. Above the elephants, however, was a cooler (in color) figure. A silvery fairy flitted from elephant head to elephant head. His blue eyes could guide a ship through a foggy night. His glittery tunic could blind any pirates hoping to attack said ship. His mullet commanded attention, but was overshadowed by the twelve inch cobalt blue wingspan.
"I am the blue-eyed white fairy!" he roared in a surprisingly husky voice for his size. "Feel the wrath of my sparkles!" He thrust his hands outward, showering the men with his "wrath."
They laughed as glitter rained down on all of their heads. They ended up in the small kitchen area, staring into the microwave.
"Pretty shiny wrath," Yugi breathed, eyes dewy.
"Hey...Are sparkles supposed to be wet?" Tristan asked, the goofy smile not leaving his face.
"They change color, too! Now they're gold!" Yami exclaimed.
Their eyes slowly rose to the ceiling, where a crack leaked yellow liquid. It was then that they remembered the communal toilet on the roof.
They'd never had such a short Abysmalinth trip before today.