Chapter 22

Ishizu was glad she completed her final duel when she did because shortly after she and Keren left the park, her millennium necklace showed her another vision she considered unnerving. There was only so much she could do not to show how worried she was; she didn't want to worry Keren any more than she already was. But she couldn't keep hiding the entire truth from the Israeli, either.

"Come, let us return to the museum," said Ishizu. "There is something I must tell you."

"All right." Keren figured Ishizu wanted to go some place where their discussion wouldn't be overheard, whatever it would be about. Anxiety filled her as she followed Ishizu. She became more worried. 'Ishizu's voice sounded rather grim. Something must be really wrong. But what could it be?' She had known Odion was up to no good, but that was all. Had he gotten hurt or something? The suspense was killing her.

'Oh, I don't know how much more of this I can take,' thought Keren, smoothing her dress and heaving a sad sigh. She and Ishizu continued walking to the museum in silence, tactfully ignoring all of the noise from the duels that were going on.

The two young women arrived at Domino Museum, and entered. The museum was crowded as it usually was when Ishizu used to work there.

'So I see things have not slowed down ever since I had taken my leave of absence,' thought Ishizu. 'Well, no time to worry about that now.'

Upon seeing the group of people, Ishizu knew revealing the details to Keren in the main section of the museum was out of the question. "Let's see if the basement that contains the stone tablets is available," she said.

"I hope it is." 'At this rate, no plans will ever be made and I will drive myself insane worrying.' She followed Ishizu to the basement, and to her relief, it was empty. Though how long it would stay that way, she was not certain. She discovered how much she liked the basement, as strange as it sounded. It was very peaceful when not crowded with people.

"So Ishizu, what's wrong?" asked Keren, brushing a long strand of hair from her face.

Ishizu looked directly in the older woman's hazel eyes. She could see worry in them. 'I know the truth will hurt her deeply, but it must be told so we can take a course of action.' "You recall when I told you that Odion was up to no good, do you not?"

"Yes?" Keren answered slowly.

"What I hadn't told you was he kidnapped the younger brother of Seto Kaiba," stated Ishizu.

"Oh no…" The young woman's olive skin turned pale and she felt queasy. It seemed to her like Odion was turning more and more to the dark side. Since when did he stoop to the level of harassing children?

"Also, the duel of Kaiba and the pharaoh versus the rare hunters is not going well. Kaiba refuses to cooperate with the pharaoh, thus giving the rare hunters an advantage."

Keren's disappointment turned into dismay for the moment. "Won't that young man ever learn…?"

"He will, sooner or later. I can assure you that," said Ishizu. She understood the older woman's frustration.

Suddenly the dark haired young woman's eyes were filled with a tinge of disgust at Odion's indiscretion. "What Odion has done is deplorable. This must stop."

Ishizu was a bit surprised at Keren's no-nonsense tone, but understood she was at her breaking point and to be honest, she didn't blame the older woman at all. "Agreed."

"The question is, what should we do?" Keren felt like smacking some sense into her male companion, but believed it might cause more trouble. Besides, Marik needed to be stopped as well, but she was not foolish enough to try doing such a thing to him.

"Once the finals begin, we will tell Marik the truth about his past." The one thing that gave the raven haired woman little comfort, if any at all, was the fact that her younger brother was only doing this because he believed it was the pharaoh who caused their father's death. She couldn't let him keep living a lie any longer.

"Sounds like an excellent plan," said Keren. "I wonder if it will work..."

"I am confident that with the pharaoh's help, we will be successful. He is the only one who can stop Marik."

Despite Vicki's best efforts to fight off the rare hunters, she, Tèa and Joey fell victim to them. Although she had knocked them out cold, they had been awakened with the power of Marik's millennium rod, shortly after Vicki was done checking up on the semi-antagonist.

Three of the rare hunters grabbed a hold of Tèa and pulled her towards an abandoned warehouse of some sort. Because there were so many of them holding her down and she was so much smaller and weaker than they were, it was pointless for her to try and break free. "You jerks, let go of me!"

"I would keep my mouth shut if I were you!" said one of the robed men.

"You've got another thing coming if you think you will get away with this!"

The rare hunters smirked. "You don't scare us, girlie!" They continued to pull her towards the building. They were so forceful that they nearly dislocated her shoulder. The rugged men roughly led her to an empty room with a bunch of boxes. They gave the brunette a strong shove, causing her to stumble. 'What creeps!'

The caped men laughed. "Enjoy your captivity." They exited the room and shut the door.

Tèa got back to her feet, her bottom sore from the fall. Her biceps were also sore from the rare hunters' strong grip on her. She peeked through the glass on the door. "Mark my words, you will regret doing this! Come back here!" the young girl called after the men as she watched them walk away.

Tèa gave an exasperated sigh. "Just great," she muttered to herself. 'I wonder if Vicki and Joey are faring any better than I am.' Come to think of it, she was worried about Yugi too. She could hear Vicki talking on the phone to him and he was supposed to have caught up with them. 'Something must have happened to him.'

The brunette girl looked around for a possible way out, one where the rare hunters wouldn't see her trying to escape. 'If those jerks think they're gonna keep me cooped up in here, they're dumber than they look.' She spotted a window. 'Aha! I found a possible way out! It's gonna be difficult, but there is a way I can escape. I just hope I could pull it off.' She painstakingly began to climb on top of the stack of boxes. The boxes were not stacked very neatly. In fact, they were extremely wobbly. She grabbed onto the windowsill, intending to pull herself up and then jump out the window. 'Almost there!' However, as soon as she stood on the stack of boxes, the boxes collapsed, causing her to fall and land on her bottom.

'Ouch, that really hurt,' thought Tèa, rubbing her sore bottom. The dull ache grew worse thanks to the fall.

A few moments later, the rare hunters burst into the room and shoved Mokuba inside. "AHHH!" screeched the little boy as he fell. The rare hunters laughed and walked away, closing the door.

Tèa helped Mokuba to his feet. As glad as she was to see him, she felt bad the rare hunters got him as well. "Mokuba! Are you all right?"

"Yeah, I think so," answered the young boy. "How about you?"

"To be honest, I have been better. But it is good to see you."

"I know what you mean." His mind switched to his brother. 'Oh Seto…I hope you're all right, wherever you are.' "My brother and I had been looking for you and the others when the rare hunters grabbed me. "

Tèa shook her fist thinking of the rough way the caped men had dealt with her. "The nerve of those creeps!"

"Don't worry. Once my brother gets through with whatever he is doing, those jerks will pay!" vowed Mokuba.

"What do you think they want with us, anyway?" asked Tèa. She felt a bit silly for asking him that, but she figured he would know something.

Mokuba shrugged his shoulders. It was hard to figure out those detestable people. "I think they wanted to use us as bait so my brother and Yugi would duel them. You see, they have Egyptian God cards that the rare hunters want to get their evil hands on."

'Hmm…' the brunette mused to herself. "Are you sure that's all it is?"

"Yes…why?" Mokuba gave a curious frown. "Do you know something else?"

"Oh no. It's nothing." 'I suspect this could have something to do with what Ishizu said about the reawakening of ancient evil forces. There has got to be more to it than wanting rare cards.' But the brunette didn't want to tell Mokuba what was on her mind. She didn't want him to be more freaked out than he already was. "I will find a way out of here, so don't worry."

"Thanks, Tèa."

Meanwhile, Vicki was being carried off by Odion. He had grabbed her by the arm when she least expected it, while she was on her way to the gift shop to buy something to take to Bakura at the hospital. Usually she would break away, but his grip on her was so strong that it was near impossible for her to break free without injuring herself.

Mixed feelings of terror and indignation were in the young teen's mind. 'Oh, darn! And to think I was so close to escaping these ruffians! But this one is such a big guy I don't think I could win in a hand to hand combat battle against him. However that's not to say I won't fight if he does try anything funny.'

"Where the hell are you taking me?" asked Vicki.

"You will see soon enough." Odion led the Scottish girl into the warehouse, into a room where she would be isolated from her other friends who were held captive. There was a little wooden chair in the midst of the room. He sat her down and picked up a piece of rope that was on the floor.

'Okay, it's bad enough that this tattooed faced weirdo is treating me like a little girl. This is as far as he will go.' "Just what do you think you're doing, Mister?! Is that any way to treat a girl with arthritis? Have you no shame at all?" She felt annoyed with herself for the second question. 'Oh great. I sound pathetic. I can't believe I am expecting more than that from him, considering he is a rare hunter after all. '

"Silence, you audacious fool," the tattooed face rare hunter barked. However, her words had struck something inside him—his conscience. The young teen spoke truth about how ladies should be treated. He knew he would never allow any harm to come to Keren, even though she had thoughts of opposing him. 'What would Keren think if she witnessed you behaving this way?' asked a voice in his head. He dropped the rope back onto the ground. He would just have to find some other way to ensure that she didn't escape. "My apologies for handling you so roughly."

Vicki was unsure of what to say. A rare hunter apologizing to her? It was hard to believe, considering how sleazy all of them seemed to be. 'Could this laddie be different from the others? Or is he just pulling a fast one on me, to distract me? You never know with these slimeballs.' Vicki looked up and her grayish eyes met Odion's eyes. As imposing as he seemed to be when standing over her, she wasn't completely intimidated by him. 'Now that I think of it, his eyes are rather handsome…he can hypnotize someone with them.' Looking into his eyes, she didn't see any hint of malice or even hatred, but rather loneliness. She could also tell that his apology was sincere. "Apology accepted," she finally managed to reply. 'I wonder what possessed him to do that stuff anyway.'

Odion nodded in response. He exited the room and shut the door. He locked it, since binding the girl to the chair was out of the question.

'Well, that was an annoying waste of time,' thought Vicki, rubbing her bicep area which hurt from being grabbed so tightly. 'Yikes, I hope he didn't break it.' The arthritis in her hips started to flare up as well, but her agony was the least of her problems. The room smelt a bit funny. 'This old warehouse smells like dirty socks. Have to find a way to get out of here. If that guy thinks I'm gonna stay cooped up in this musky old room, he's got another thing coming.'

Bakura was in his hospital room, resting. Mr. Mutou was there, monitoring his progress. He was pleased to see that the young man's condition had improved slightly, even though he was still in poor shape. He had been drifting in and out of consciousness. Numerous tests had been run on him as a precaution. To compensate for the amount of blood he lost from the stab wound, a blood transfusion was in progress via an IV needle. To treat the wound itself, a gauze had been used to stop the bleeding. Once the hemorrhaging had slowed down somewhat, the damaged area was heavily bandaged.

"Not to worry…you'll be all right. Just get some rest," said the elderly man to Bakura's uneasily resting form. "I just wish I knew who had done this to you." It was so hard, seeing the young man in distress and not knowing the reason why. 'Yugi will not be too happy if and when he finds out what has happened. Speaking of Yugi, I haven't seen or heard from him since this morning. I wonder how he is progressing in the tournament.'

Bakura's yami took over and gave an evil smirk. 'Foolish old man…I don't need your pity. I am not weak like my worthless hikari, so this wound is nothing to me.'

(Rare hunter's hideout)

Marik was back at the pier, relaxing in a chair for a bit. He pondered the way things were going thus far. He found it hard to believe how relatively simple it was to execute the first part of his plan. 'Everything else should fall into place. With Kaiba and Little Yugi tied up at the moment, no one will be able to stop me!' The cornsilk blonde gave an evil smirk.

His mind switched to Vicki, thinking about how she showed concern for him when he pretended to be reeling from the rare hunters' attacks, how he was nearly taken by her gray-blue eyes, and the fact that she had nearly escaped his trap. 'Why am I thinking about that foolish girl? As alluring as she may be, I have no patience for meaningless distractions. Speaking of distractions, I have noticed Keren has mysteriously disappeared since my arrival to Domino City. Perhaps it is for the best, for Odion can better concentrate on his mission without her presence.'

In actuality, Marik thought Odion had done an excellent job remaining neutral towards the young woman, but he didn't think such a risk should be taken. From his point of view, it was better to be safe than sorry.

The duel against Lumis and Umbra looked very dire for Kaiba and Yami, to say the least. The two robed men found a way to deplete their opponents' life points without using monsters and to make matters worse, the two young men were unable to summon any powerful monsters.

"Destroying these imbeciles is a simpler task than I imagined, wouldn't you agree, Umbra?" Lumis asked the aqua haired man.

"You are right," answered Umbra. "They will both fall against The Masked Beast!"(3200 attk) He shot Kaiba and Yami a sneer. "It's your turn, Yugi. It will be interesting to see how you will deal with this predicament."

"I will!" The ancient pharaoh glanced at the cards in his hands. 'That's easier said than done! At the moment, chances of defeating their Masked Beast are slim to none, unless the duel could be turned around. I could use Card Destruction to start fresh, but what if Kaiba has a plan? I could end up ruining his strategy without meaning to. But then again, I would never know, because he refuses to cooperate, whereas the rare hunters have combined the power of their decks since the beginning of this duel.'

Kaiba turned to his rival. "Why the hesitation, Yugi? Neither of us can sacrifice any monsters because of that wretched masked card, so if you have a way to change that, do it already!"

"But what will you do?" asked Yami.

"Don't worry about me! These two numbskulls may think they can defeat me, but that's all about to change."

As impatient as Kaiba was being, Yami was more relieved than he let on. The CEO was actually giving him the okay to have him discard his hand. 'Here goes.' "I activate the magic card, Card Destruction!"

"WHAT?!" The rare hunters belted out. They happened to have been holding a couple of cards they planned to use on their next turn.

"Yes! This card requires all four of us to discard the cards in our hands and draw that many new cards in order to start anew. So let's go, Lumis and Umbra!" Yami discarded the three cards he was holding and drew three new cards. Kaiba did the same.

Grumbling, Lumis and Umbra discarded the cards they held and drew their new cards. "You will regret this move, you fools. All you two are doing are prolonging your inevitable defeat!" said Lumis.

"You two sicken me!" Kaiba scoffed. "It's my turn!" The CEO drew a card. "I activate the magic card, Monster Reborn! I will use it to resurrect my mighty Blue Eyes White Dragon!"(3000 attk) A pale blue dragon materialized onto the field, giving a mighty roar. Kaiba gave a sinister-sounding laugh.

For the first time since the beginning of the duel, Yami felt hopeful that he and Kaiba would be able to turn things around. 'If only I can get him to cooperate…at least for this one duel. Without his help, we will both be doomed.'