Chapter 4: The Journey - An Old Encounter,The Escape, and a New Menace

Guess Who's Back

Renei's victory dance was interrupted by the sound of somebody pounding on the metal door next door. She stopped and heard a vaguely familiar female voice shout, "Hey! Open! Open this door, please!"

Renei looked at the enormous mirror on the wall to her right and moved closer to it, grinning at the thought of a potential ally. She heard the person next door slump against the door and moan, "Oh, this is the pits. I can't believe I could be shut up in a place like this!" There was a sound like a fist punching the metal door, and the person yelled, "If I miss my deadline, the editor-in-chief'll blow his top! Get me outta here!"

It clicked then who the person must be. That stupid reporter from before! Whatsername, Carrie Red or something? Or was it Miner?

The reporter continued to shout for help, then sobbed. Renei heard her drop to the floor and just barely made out her saying, "Jack… Please… Save me… Oh, Jack..."

Oh fuck. Please don't let her be some weird-ass stalker of Jack's. I really don't want her to decide I'm her rival and kill me or something.

Renei gave her own room a quick inspection for anything useful. She found Torunka's staff buried in the sheets of the bed and picked it up, impressed that it had traveled with her just as he'd promised. No duel disks or decks, unfortunately, but considering she was in the middle of a building packed to the rafters with Psychic duelists, that was probably for the best. She didn't want to be attacked by someone who could rip her apart with their minds during a duel. Then she tried the door, which was predictably locked. A touch from the staff fixed that problem right away, and the door hissed open when she tried again. She slipped into the hall and moved to the door of the room next to hers. She nearly jumped out of her skin when the stupid reporter suddenly started pounding on it again.

"H-hey! You there! How did you unlock the door and break out? You were in the room next to me, right? I just heard your door opening!"

That moron was going to bring the entire Arcadia Movement down on them if she didn't shut up! Renei was tempted for a moment to leave the reporter in there. She couldn't afford to be held back by this idiot. Her mind changed as the reporter banged even louder on the door, and shouted, "Well, however you did it, can you get me out, too?! Pretty please!"

Renei hurriedly hit the door release with the staff. As the door hissed open, she growled, "Shut the fuck up if you don't want to be screwed over by Psychics. Are you insane, making that much racket?"

The reporter -Carly Nagisa, that was her name- recoiled at the ferocity of Renei's tone, but recovered quickly. In a voice that was thankfully much quieter, she said, "Thanks! I owe you one!" Then her eyebrows furrowed as she studied Renei from behind her thick glasses, and she leaned forward as if to get a better look.

"I have this funny feeling like I've seen you before…"

Then Carly snapped her fingers and grinned. "I got it! You were at the Fortune Cup!" She did a little jig as if pleased with herself, but stopped and muttered to herself, "But why on earth was an Arcadia Movement duelist thrown into a cell?"

Before Renei could explain, the reporter became excited and exclaimed, "I smell a scoop! Time to get fact-hunting!" Then she drooped, and laughed sheepishly. "Or at least that's what I should say, but if I stick around here, I'm bound to get caught again!" She grabbed Renei's hand, pumped it a couple of times, and said, "Anyway, thanks a million! See you around!"

With that, the reporter took off, leaving a scrap of paper floating in her wake. Renei scowled, wondering if that idiotic girl even knew her way out.

She better not get caught again. I'm not going to go back after her if she does.

The scrap of paper caught her eye just then, and she bent to pick it up. It was covered with sprawling handwriting, as if somebody had scribbled on it in a rush, and took her a few moments to puzzle out what it said.

"Jack Atlas, the former king, and Sector Security Director Godwin are both originally from Satellite!"

Renei raised one eyebrow, but wasn't really that interested. She wanted to know how Jack and Yusei had managed to escape Satellite in the first place. Information like this would probably be shocking to the stuck-up mainlanders, but so would finding out there was a Spirit World and that the world was in danger of ending because of some great evil. She crumpled the note and stuck it in her pocket.

Further down the hall, she heard a door hiss open and ducked behind one of the statues that decorated the building. A quick peek showed her… Liquid? He shambled to the middle of the hallway, mumbling to himself, and took up a position of attention between her and the way out. She squinted and strained her ears, trying to hear what he was saying.

"Must… bey… Sayer… wish… truders… capt… cells…"

Renei didn't know Liquid very well, but she was willing to bet everything on her person that he didn't normally have spells where he acted like a zombie.

Sayer must have done something to him, that asshole.

She gritted her teeth. Liquid may have been a jerk to her, but he didn't deserve to be used by Sayer like she had been. She didn't want to hurt him if he was being controlled by Sayer, but that didn't mean he wouldn't keep from hurting her. As she ducked back down behind the statue, trying to figure out a way to deal with him without hurting him, she bumped against the statue. It wobbled in place, and her heart took off like a jackrabbit in fear. It settled back into immobility, though, and hadn't seemed to catch Liquid's attention.

Renei looked at the statue speculatively. Liquid was obviously not very attentive to detail in his current state. Maybe she could use that to her advantage…

She gave the statue a good, hard shove. It began to topple, and she scrambled across the hall to hide behind a similar, more sturdy statue. The one she'd pushed over fell with a solid thunk and she saw Liquid turn to look at it.

"Again…? It's… fallen over from all the psychic waves…?"

His voice was dull, and he shambled up to the statue and knelt down next to it. "I must put it back up… or else… Master Sayer will get angry at me…"

Carefully, Renei slid between the wall and the statue she was hiding behind, then quickly made her way down the hall. She slipped into the room Liquid had come out of, and searched it for anything that could help her. There was a duel disk in the tiny closet, but no cards. She took it anyways, figuring she could always bludgeon somebody with the damn thing if she needed to. Then she was back out into the hall, warily making her way down it.

The first set of doors she passed was an elevator that needed a keycard, but as she passed the second one, the familiar voice of a little girl called out to her.

"Renei? Is that you there, Renei?"

Renei stopped and grinned. It had been unexpectedly easy to find who she'd been looking for. Ruka continued to speak excitedly.

"I'm so glad you came! Thank you so much!"

Renei tapped the door release with the magic staff, and the door slid open to reveal the little girl. Ruka smiled happily and flung herself at Renei, clinging around her waist in a grateful hug.

"Renei! Thanks for coming to rescue me!"

Renei peeled the little girl off and said, "It's what I'm here for. Keep your voice down, there are guards."

Ruka nodded and said in a lower voice, "This is our first time meeting in the real world, right? You've saved me once in the Spirit World and now in the real world, too!" She sighed and smiled self-consciously. "I feel like you're my personal bodyguard…"

Renei shook her head. "Don't worry about it. Now come on, we've got to get moving."

Ruka grabbed her sleeve and said quickly, "Actually, I have to bother you one more time… My twin brother Rua is being kept in a room nearby. I really need your help to rescue him."

Renei sighed, but remembered what the mysterious voice had told her to do. She was supposed to support Ruka, and if Ruka needed to save her twin, then Renei needed to help her do it. She nodded, and Ruka hugged her again, saying, "Thank you so much!"

Renei asked, "Any idea where he might be?"

Ruka said, "We were brought here together, and since I was thrown in here first, he must be in a room up ahead."

Before Renei could respond, something behind her seemed to catch the little girl's attention. Ruka gasped with surprise.

"Yusei!"

"Ruka! Are you okay?"

Renei spun around in disbelief at the familiar voice and saw Yusei coming quickly toward them. He stumbled in shock at the sight of her, and she reacted immediately, grabbing his arm to keep him from falling. Yusei looked at her in wonder, as if dumbfounded by finding her here.

"Renei?!"

They heard a noise further down the hallway, and a curtain of wariness dropped over Yusei's face. He turned to look around, saying quietly, "There's guards nearby. Let's head into that room for the time being."

Together, they all ducked into Ruka's former prison, the door sliding shut behind them. They all waited for a moment, holding their breath so as to hear anyone approaching. When the door didn't shoot back open for some enemy to discover them, Yusei turned to Renei, naked emotion on his face.

"Renei! You're okay!"

She grinned and grabbed him with a fierce hug. She didn't normally do stuff like touching other people to demonstrate her affection, but it felt so good to know who he was and to remember why he was so important to her. He was startled, but returned the hug with equal ferocity, clearly just as glad to see her as she was him. Her eyes began to burn as tears gathered, and a lump formed in her throat. Yusei's voice was thick as he said, "You had everyone worried when you disappeared like that… Then I saw you yesterday and thought it was impossible!"

She pulled out of the hug, still grinning like a moron, and wiped at her eyes with her sleeve. He seemed to register what she was wearing, then, and said in confusion, "That uniform… Doesn't that belong to the Arcadia Movement? Why are you wearing that?"

Renei plucked at her tabard with a scowl. "Yeah, about that. Yusei, I got kidnapped by the guy who runs this whole show the day after… Well… You know. That's why I disappeared. Then he brainwashed me into forgetting my whole past, and has spent the last two years running these fucking experiments on me."

Ruka coughed, and Renei covered her mouth, glancing guiltily at the little girl. Her anger at Divine had made her forget the little girl's presence for a moment. She normally tried to check her foul language in front of younger children.

Yusei's eyes widened in shock. "What?! You were brainwashed?!"

Ruka's forehead puckered as she stared at Renei. "Really? Then how come…" Her eyes lit up just then, and she tapped her fist into her palm as something seemed to make sense. Her voice was excited as she said, "I know! Renei, you're connected with the Spirit World, too! That's why they're after you!"

Renei grinned and pointed at Ruka. "Bingo. The night before I was kidnapped, I was called to the Spirit World in my sleep. Then, a few days ago, I heard you calling for help."

"I could have been brainwashed, too…" Ruka suddenly looked worried at the idea, as if something in her mind was waiting to take over at any minute.

Renei shook her head. "I don't think so. Divine was probably using me as a guinea pig before he tried anything on you. He probably wanted to be absolutely sure he could control you, but didn't want to risk breaking such a valuable tool." Her tone turned bitter as she added, "I, however, was expendable."

There was an awkward silence for a moment, then Ruka turned to Yusei and asked nervously, "By the way, Yusei, you and Renei know each other?"

He nodded and gave Renei a little smile, saying, "We're old friends from Satellite. How you know Renei, Ruka?"

The little girl sat on her bed and gestured for them to sit down. "It'll take a little while to explain, so please, make yourselves comfortable." Renei grinned at how polite the little girl acted, even though they were in the room that had been her prison up until a few moments ago, and flopped onto the couch.

Ruka described how she'd been kidnapped a few weeks ago by Divine, and how she'd gone to the Spirit World looking for help. She told how there, she'd been kidnapped again, this time by Zeman, then rescued by Renei. Yusei listened intently, nodding occasionally, and seeming to believe what the little girl was telling him. When she finished her story, he said, "You don't say… I never knew you had that kind of power. Either of you."

Renei snorted. "It's not like I have much control over it. I seem to only be able to get there whenever I'm out cold. Ruka's a lot more powerful than me."

Yusei glanced at her, his face neutral. Renei recognized that he was withholding judgement until he'd had enough time to think through everything he'd heard. Suddenly, they heard somebody moving outside the door, and they all froze again. After what seemed like an eternity, but was more likely only a few minutes, they relaxed. Yusei spoke urgently in a low voice.

"We have a lot to talk about, but before all of that, we'd better get out of here."

Ruka nodded agreement, her expression determined. "You're right. I need to rescue Rua right away!"

Yusei looked at the door, already focused on the situation at hand. "And I've come here to help Aki. I think we'll be more effective if we split up and go separately."

Renei grimaced at the mention of the Black Rose Witch. Yusei must be some kind of masochist, considering the damage Aki had dealt him just a couple of days ago. He was going to deliberately go after her? Then she remembered her duel with the girl. Aki had seemed so human then, and genuinely regretted hurting Renei before Divine had overwhelmed her will with his. Yusei was good at seeing people's true hearts, and if he'd decided that Aki was worth saving, then the crazy witch was worth saving. Probably.

Yusei fixed her with his serious gaze and said, "Renei, after you and Ruka save Rua, get them both out of this place." He stood up, then his gaze fell on the duel disk she was carrying with its empty deck chamber.

"Oh, yeah… I better give you this."

He reached for his belt and Renei noticed that two deck holsters were clipped to it. He removed one and handed it to her.

"The day you disappeared, Itsuki found this. When things calm down a bit, we'll tell him you're okay."

Renei opened the deck holster and began checking the deck, a grin spreading across her face. It was the Dragon deck she'd last put together, the same one she'd been using in the Spirit World. She put it into the duel disk's deck chamber, slid the disk onto her arm, then looked at Yusei with amusement.

"Please tell me you haven't been carrying that around with you the whole time I was gone."

Yusei shook his head. "I had Crow send it to me after I saw you yesterday. I couldn't figure out why you were with those guys, but I decided that if I saw you, I would give it to you. It just seemed like the right thing to do."

She grinned. "Hey, I'm not gonna argue with that logic."

He pulled something out of the inside of his coat and said, "This is something my friend Blister made. Here, I'll give you one of these." He handed it to her and she saw it was a keycard.

She asked, "Is this for that elevator?"

He nodded. "You may need it to get out of here." Renei nodded and stuck it in her own pocket, then offered her hand to Yusei. He didn't hesitate, but gripped her forearm as she gripped his in their private gesture of solidarity. When they released each other, he nodded once.

"All right. I'm off to rescue Aki."

With that, he keyed the door release and stepped out of the room, glancing quickly from side to side as he checked to see if the coast was clear. Once he was gone, Ruka made fists and said determinedly, "Then we're on our way, too! Come on, Renei!"


Author's Note: What is it with this game and gaping plot holes? We've got Crow and his suspiciously convenient ownership of a Securities uniform and Yusei happens to be holding onto your deck. My suspension of disbelief can stretch pretty far, but even it has limits. Patching up those plot holes is a heck of a job, let me tell you.

Or you could tell me instead if I did a good job or not. Am I keeping your disbelief suspended well enough?