The walls of my tiny, one room apartment were forever stained an awful off white color. Across from my bed, on the far wall was a kitchenette. The shove had only one burner that worked. Next to the shove was an old claw foot bathtub that doubled as a shower. Rather than housing my clothes the closet held a toilet and small sink. Most of my things were still in boxes stacked next to a small table with two chairs.
I stretched my arms out in front of me as I sat up in bed.
Another morning I beat the alarm? I turned and picked up the small digital alarm clock that sat on the floor next to my bed.
"Shit!" I cursed loudly and tossed the clock aside.
Jumping out of bed, I grabbed a pair of navy pants off the floor. I didn't care if they were clean, I was late. I should have left for work fifteen minutes ago. As I slipped on my pants I nearly tripped but caught myself. I grabbed on to the table for support. I throw on the rest of my clothes and pulled my hair back. It took all of three minutes for me to be out the door and down stairs.
I was about to step outside, when I realized something was missing. I wiggled my toes and stared down at my bare feet. It was only my second day as an intern and I was already losing my mind. Who forgets their shoes? Taking the stairs two at a time, I was back upstairs in a flash. This really was not my day.
Once I was back down stairs, with shoes on, I ran the whole way to the train station. The morning commuters lined the platform, hidden behind newspapers or were preoccupied by their cell phones. Each was lost in their own little world. I continued to hurry along through the station. As I approached the platform to the train that ran directly between here and downtown horror struck me. The train was already pulling away.
The next one wouldn't be here for another twenty minutes. I did not have the time to wait around. Quickly I raced from the station, almost knocking over a coffee vendor, and back out on to the street. I was in panic mode. Being late clearly violated Kaiba's only rule, don't screw up.
I kept running, I was going to do whatever it took to be on time. Failing was not an option. I thought about the look Kaiba had given the technician when he had fired him. I shook my head; he wasn't going to give me that look. Somehow I was going to make it. Lost in my own thoughts I did not even notice the light change to "Don't Walk" as I crossed an intersection. A motorcycle squeaked to a stop just inches from me. The driver flipped up the visor on his helmet.
"Hey, ya have a death wish or somethin' gezz." The driver's New York accent caught me off guard. I was suffering from deer in headlights syndrome, so it took me a moment to process what had just happened.
"Sorry, I'm really late, I have to-"
The driver of the motorcycle took off his helmet and I found myself face to face with Joey Wheeler. He looked a bit shocked.
"Oh Joey. I'm really sorry, but I have to go. I'm super late."
Joey pulled over and got off his bike. "No sweat, I'll give you a ride." He smiled. "Eh, just never mentioned the fact I almost killed ya to Tom." The blond rubbed the back of his head nervously before tossing me an extra helmet he kept stowed in the compartment under the seat.
Soon I found myself straddling the back of the motorcycle clinging to Joey's waist for dear life. I had never been on a motorcycle before and found the whole thing terrifying, but I really did not have a choice. It was either this or face the wrath of Kaiba. Joey revved the engine as we turned on to the main road. We had only gone a few yards when he had to stop at a red light.
"So where am I droppin' you off at anyway?" Joey asked as he hit the break and let his feet drop to balance the bike.
"What? You have to speak up it's hard to hear in this thing." Joey pointed to his helmet.
I leaned in closer to him, my chin just above his shoulder. "Kaiba Corp!"
"Whatcha doing going there for?"
"I work there." I said proudly.
"You work for rich boy? I feel sorry for ya." he sighed.
I laughed. "And? You work for my father, I should be the one who feels sorry for you."
Even in his motorcycle helmet I heard muffled laughter. "Tom's been great."
An angry driver behind us honked his horn as the light changed. He waved a fist out of the window of his car and said something about good for nothing kids.
"Gezzz, the light just changed hold ya horses." Joey shouted back over his shoulder at the car.
Joey kick started the motorcycle and we were off. The longer I rode the more comfortable I became on the bike. I slowly let my death grip around Joey loosen. I even got up enough courage to look around at the city. All the familiar sites a blurry streak as I sped by. A small smile formed on my face, this was fun. It was a rush, almost as good a feeling as winning a game of Duel Monsters.
The Kaiba Corp. tower came into sight. Joey pulled up to the curb right in front of the doors. I looked at my watch, two minutes to spare. I dodged another bullet. With wobbly legs I managed to get off the back of the motorcycle without making a complete fool of myself.
"Thanks Joey. I owe you one." I handed him the helmet and shook my head freeing my hair.
Joey dismounted the bike. "No prob. I owe your dad a lot for taking a chance on me. It's the least I could do."
I shrugged. "Eh. It's not that big a deal."
Joey shook his head. "Really, ya know how many places I applied before Tom hired me? I didn't have to go crawling back to my old man because of him." He looked up at the sky very nostalgic. "Besides, I might actually be able to save enough money to buy a decent ring and propose to my girl."
"Your girl?" I smiled. It was kind of sweet to see a guy in love.
"Yea, she's really something." His smile nearly took over his whole face. "Hang on, I got a picture."
Joey fumbled through his pockets and pulled out his wallet. The photo tucked in the crease was of Joey and an older blond woman who was very 'blessed' in the chest. I was about to asked how much older she was then him, but looking at the picture the pair looked genuinely happy. The way Joey was looking at her rather than straight to camera, her hand on his arm, it was one of those perfect moments forever captured by film.
Just as Joey and I said our good byes, a slick black limousine pulled up to the curb behind us. The chauffer got out quickly and opened the door for none other than Seto Kaiba. The CEO was dressed in a white suit and light blue dress shirt. His dark blue tie was a little crooked. I chuckled to myself, I wondered if he woke up late this morning too.
"I swear this city needs a tighter leash law." Kaiba smirked at Joey.
The blond glared at Kaiba. "And just what's that supposed to mean rich boy?"
"I really have to spell it out for you Wheeler? It would keep decent people safe from mutts like you."
Joey's face was red with anger. He let the helmet drop to the ground. Something told me this was a rivalry that went way back. Instinctively I grabbed Joey's arm. Being raised by a man had made me a tad bit scrappy. I knew that look in Joey's eyes, he was out for blood. I had broken up a few fights in my dad's garage, but I had learned quickly it was much easier to stop a fight before it started.
"Hey Joey, I don't want you to be late on a count of me." I said sweetly.
My words seemed to snap Joey back to reality. I showed him my wrist watch. "You leave now you'll have plenty of time." I added.
"Eh. You're right." He turned back to Kaiba. "Besides he's not worth my time."
"Me? Not worth your time." Kaiba smirked. Joey must not have heard it because he continued walking back to his motorcycle. I was very grateful for that.
Joey waved good bye to me and sped off down the road.
I turned back to face my boss. He was glaring at me. "Speaking of late."
After all that I was still three minutes late. I sighed expecting a lecture. I braced myself for the worst but instead Kaiba held the door open for me. What? Staring at him in disbelief I walked through the open door.
"Thank you Mr. Kaiba." It was the first time I didn't stutter when addressing him.
"A word of advice Suzuhara, associating with people like Joey Wheeler is only going to hold you back." he remarked as I pasted him.
I wanted to ask him what he meant by that but I thought it better not to press my luck with the CEO. I made my way over to the front desk in the lobby. Kaiba had made it very clear the day before I was supposed to work in the technology department. However I did not have one of those fancy ID cards to get down there.
"Suzuhara, don't you dare go anywhere your next!" yelled Nori from across the lobby.
Next? I looked over at Nori waving her arms angrily at my fellow interns, who were all seated together at the far end of the lobby. As I made my way over, my stomach did flips. Kaiba had saved the lecturing to his personal assistant. I began mentally prepared myself.
Nori was still chewing into Hiro.
"You represent this company! Good lord, how am I supposed to take you all out like this?" Nori continued on her rampage.
Hiro held his head in his hands like every word Kaiba's personal assistant said was a knife jabbing into his skull. His eyes were blood shot and the dark circles under his eyes were heavy. Dark sunglasses were hanging from the front of his shirt. I felt bad for my very hung over friend. He must have over done it the night before. I looked over at Alan, who for the most part looked the same as he did yesterday.
Darren cleared his throat. "Why am I being punished because of them?" The dark haired male smirked at me. "Clearly you should just fire them and get it over with."
Nori shot him a look, the kind of look one could only pick up from working closely with Kaiba. "I could just have you fired for interrupting me Underhill."
That shut Darren up.
I tried to suppress a laugh.
Nori turned to me. "Please share what's oh so funny Suzuhara."
I was silent.
"Well then." She turned to Akio and Alan. "You two have anything to add?"
The pair shook their heads.
Nori sighed and picked up a leather tote bag that was on the floor next to her. She rummaged through it before retrieving a bottle of water, a packet of aspirin, and a small bottle of eye drops. To my surprise she handed all of it to Hiro.
"I expect all that water gone by the time I get back...and Harazaki burn that tie when you get home." Her tone was tad bit less angry.
Hiro looked surprised but nodded. His outfit of the day was nowhere near as bad as yesterdays, but only Hiro could screw up black dress pants and a white dress shirt. His neon orange tie made the whole outfit clash.
"Future reference, the best cure for a hangover is another beer in the morning." Alan mumbled to Hiro.
Nori turned and pointed at me. She headed toward the ladies room. "Come on Suzuhara, we're already late as it is."
I didn't move.
"Unless you'd rather take your shirt off in front of the guys." She raised an eyebrow.
I saw Hiro sit straight up. Darren slapped his forehead. Alan adjusted his own shirt and looked me over curiously. Even Akio's normally expressionless face had a small smile on it. Quickly I followed Nori into the restroom.
It was a very large restroom. The room was well lit. Eight stalls lined the wall. Facing them were elegant automatic sinks placed on a light stone counter. A small bench was placed against the wall by the door.
I looked at my reflection in the mirror over the sinks. My late morning had left me looking very rough. I had mis-buttoned every button on my wrinkled dress shirt. Most of my light brown hair had fallen out of my ponytail. It was greasy and looked a shade darker than it actually was. Yesterday's mascara was smudged under my eyes, making it look like I had insanely dark circles.
"Your shirt Suzuhara." Nori sounded annoyed.
I looked at her. "You were serious?"
"Fine, keep walking around with a giant coffee stain on your back."
Turning around I caught a glimpse of the large coffee stain on my back. I sighed as I slipped my shirt over my head. Familiar body issues came flooding back to me as I stood there in my bra. It was like high school gym class all over again.
I carried most of my unwanted weight in my thighs and butt. The upper part of my body was lanky and my chest was on the smaller side. I frowned at my slightly teenage boy like figure. What I would give for feminine curves and an hourglass figure.
I looked at Nori who was holding my shirt under running water. "There's dry shampoo and makeup remover in my bag." She looked over at her tote bag sitting on the counter.
Nori must have had the whole pharmacy crammed into her leather tote. All sorts of makeup, vitamins, extra clothing, a pair of raspberry colored flats, another bottle of water, a brush, and to my surprise, a deck of Duel Monsters cards tied together with a rubber band. I finally found the dry shampoo and makeup remover.
"Is this really necessary?" I asked as ran a makeup remover wipe under my eyes. "I mean, I work five stories underground in the technology department. It's not like anyone important sees me."
Kaiba's personal assistant shook her head. She rang my shirt out over the sink. "If you were on time this morning and not off doing god knows what with a biker boy, you'd know we were taking a field trip today."
"Hey, hold on it's not like that! Joey is just a friend." I was quick to jump to the defensive.
Nori shot me a look. "It doesn't matter. Gossip spreads like wild fire here." She eyed me. "Being the only female intern you already have a reputation, showing up looking like hell, with a random guy isn't helping you any."
My reputation? Hadn't I been dubbed Q-tip girl, what more could the other Kaiba Corp. employees think of me. I had not even been employed here for two days. They did know me. Either I must have looked really distort or Nori could read minds because Kaiba's personal assistant continued.
"The interviews were running over so to push things along Mr. Kaiba stepped in and began interviewing some of the applicants himself. I think he did eight or so. Out of those only two were girls, you and Sara King. Unfortunately King cracked under the pressure and I had to escort her to the lobby."
I nodded remembering the blond I had elbowed the day of the interview. It was strange but knowing her name made Sara almost human in my mind. No longer was she just a girl with no backbone and a degree from a fancy Ivy League school, she was real. She had friends and family. People cared about her. What scared me the most was I could have been the one who had a breakdown that day. But why did Nori feel the need to tell me all this?
She must have taken my silence as a reply because once again Nori answered my question without me even asking it. "People seem to believe you did Kaiba a 'personal favor' in order to get your internship."
"The man is a billionaire, what personal favor could I possible do for-" My eyes widened. It took me a moment but I understood. "How could they think that? I mean Roland and that technician were in the room for most of my interview... Have you seen me? I'm sure Kaiba dates models, who I'm sure are more than willing to..." I cut myself off realizing I was ranting.
Nori smiled. "Reminds me of the first year Kaiba Corp. had the intern program. From early on a female accountant was the front runner. She had big dreams of running the financial floor."
Nori paused and cleared her throat. "She managed to make it all the way and Mr. Kaiba even offered her a job, which she of course gladly accepted...But two weeks into her new permanent position her coworkers started all of these awful rumors about her."
I looked curiously at Nori. "What happened to her?"
Nori took a moment before replying, she stared at herself in the mirror. "She let their words get to her and had a mental breakdown so she went and gave her two weeks to Kaiba. But the he wouldn't have it. Kaiba refused to let the first intern fail. It would have reflected badly on him and his company. So he made her his personal assistant." Nori finished looking disgusted at her reflection.
Hiro's voiced echoed in my head, "Did you know in the three years Kaiba Corp's had the intern program only one has ever been offered a job?"
Nori was that intern.
I wanted to say something to her, but there was nothing to say. Her pretty face and distant demeanor were just a front. Under all that she was just a scared young woman who throw away the chance of a lifetime. It was something she had to relive and think about every day she walked throw the front doors. She still worked here but there was no chance of promotion as Kaiba's personal assistant. Worst of all she gave up her dream.
"Don't look at me like that Sayoko. I made my bed and I have every intention of sleeping in it" Nori smiled. "As for this shirt, it's a lost cause." She walked over and to my surprise tossed my shirt in the trash can.
"You know, I'm pretty sure dress code requires me to wear a shirt." I said flatly.
Nori gave me an evil grin. "Just leave that to me."
Five minutes later I stared in the mirror and made a face. The extra shirt Nori carried in her bag was a more feminine and modern dress shirt then the ones I usually worn. Being petite on top the blouse hung loosely on me, Nori made me tuck it in. It was a cream color with a band collar and small ruffles down the front in a line were the buttons were.
She had also made me change shoes to her backup raspberry flats after exaggerating how bad my taste in footwear was. Then she hit my head hard with the dry shampoo and clipped my hair half way up letting most of my hair fall to my shoulders. The biggest change was my face. The only make up I normally wore was a bit of mascara but Nori had taken it a step further and had highlighted my eyes and cheekbones.
I didn't recognize the girl or rather the young women staring back at me. She was the kind of women who could command a room on looks alone, the kind of women who probably could get away with doing 'personal favors' for billionaires. But that wasn't the kind of women I wanted to be. My mini makeover would do nothing but add fuel to the rumors waiting for me outside this restroom.
Nori must have sensed my disproval. "I'm not going to fed you to the sharks, just trust me Sayoko. I'm not going to let you fail, you'll be great."
Like Nori's first pep talk, this one also did nothing for me. I wondered if she knew just how much she had contradicted herself. I reached under the sink let the water automatically turn on, I wanted to wash everything she had done before it was too late. But Nori grabbed her tote and my arm and pulled me from the restroom.
"Time is money Suzuhara." She chuckled.
The guys were still seated in the lobby. Darren quickly pocketed his phone when he saw Nori coming. Hiro was leaning back in his chair with his eyes closed. What surprised me the most was Akio and Alan were having a conversation.
Alan was the first to look over at me. "Hey it is true. One of the interns is a girl. I was starting to think it was Aki here." He grinned.
I knew he was joking so I gave a forced laugh. The male with long purple hair did come off a bit feminine from certain angles. Akio however did not find the joke or his new nickname funny at all. His face had turned back to the expressionless front we had all come to know.
"Ok, Ok. Enough picking on Aki, we're leaving now." Nori smiled and began walking across the lobby. Akio glared at the back of her head disproving once again of his nickname.
The five of us followed Nori across the lobby. Once we had made it about half way the elevator opened and Kaiba walked over to his personal assistant. Nori smiled and handed him a piece of paper. The CEO ignored us. He was discussing something with his personal assistant. We were after all interns, bottom of the Kaiba Corp. food chain, a speck in his universe.
I turned to Hiro. "Where are we going exactly?" I whispered. Maybe I could make it out of here without anyone else seeing Nori's 'masterpiece'.
"I have no idea." He did not look at me as he spoke. His face looked flushed.
"Hiro are feeling ok?" I asked quietly.
He nodded still not looking at me. "Just over did it last night."
I had known Hiro for less than a week, but the boy wore his heart on his sleeve. Even a perfect
stranger would be able to read him like a book. Not only that but Hiro loved to talk, avoiding conversation was very out of character for him. Something was up with him and it wasn't just the fact he could not handle his alcohol.
"Is there a reason you're interrupting Suzuhara?" It wasn't Nori but Kaiba who spoke. His blue eyes seemed to burn into me.
"I-I was just wondering where exactly we were going." I was a nervous wreck in overpriced shoes. Those blue eyes probably could make even the most notorious businessmen fall to their knees.
He frowned. "Why? Are you too good for a field trip? Or are you questioning whether or not your superiors, people who have been in this business far longer then you could ever hope to be, know what they are doing?"
I was out of my league. Kaiba made the rules. I couldn't win this game against him. I folded and hung my head in shame. He had claimed the only rule was don't screw up, however I was starting to believe there were plenty of other rules, one of them being never question the CEO or his motives.
"Neither sir." I said quietly.
When Kaiba was done, we followed Nori outside and piled into a van. I was in the middle of the back seat between Alan and Hiro. Darren and Akio sat in the middle row, clearly trying to avoid the rest of us and Nori sat up front with the driver.
I watched the city slowly disappear out of Alan's window.
"I wonder why Nori is in charge of this 'field trip', seems strange for Mr. Kaiba to let such an important member of his team be in charge of interns." Hiro whispered so that just Alan and I could hear. The aspirin and fluids seemed to be doing him some good though he still refused to meet my gaze.
Alan shrugged. "You got me. The man must have a good reason."
Of course he did, who better to shape us then the only intern ever to be offered a job. I couldn't tell them that though, it was not my secrete to tell. Most of the ride was silent. Then I finally saw it the destination of our 'field trip', Kaiba Land.
I sighed. This truly mind bottling, worth getting chewed out by my boss for. Sarcasm aside, I had never been to Kaiba's theme park. I watched as more of it came into view, it was like every child's dream. A large blue coaster towering over head, Duel Monster's themed rides as far as the eye could see.
Kaiba Land or rather the Kaiba Dome, the true place were our 'field trip' would take place. As the six of us walked through the park I could not help but smile at the families and children who looked happy.
The Dragon shaped dueling dome was a site to behold. Just its massive size alone was incredible but the KC Grand Championship had been held here. How many of the world's greatest Duelist had walked these very steps. As we entered the arena I was truly in awe. I had watched the coverage of tournament from my home but being here in person was a whole other feeling.
"Ok pop quiz, tell me how would you generate hype about Kaiba Land?" Nori asked as we all walked into the middle of the dome where the Dueling platform was.
"Considering we're standing in the middle of the worlds most advanced and overpriced Dueling Arena I'm going to say a Duel Monsters Tournament." Darren didn't sound at all impressed.
I shot him a look of disproval. "They already did that, The Kaiba Corp. Grand Championship was held here."
All four of the guys looked at me like I had a third eye.
"Oh come on! The KC Grand Championship? They flew all of the world's greatest Duelists here. It was all over the news and broadcast on TV?" I continued talking.
"Yugi Muto, Joey Wheeler, Rebecca Hawkins, That old dude in the mask, Leon Wilson who in a weird turn of events turned out to be Leon Von Schroeder, brother of Zigfried Von Schroeder and the owner of Schroeder Corp." I was still hoping to break through to one of them.
I paused, "They're Kaiba Corps biggest competitor. You know the one guy on the planet even more girlie then Aki? He has long following pink hair."
Silence. I was starting to wonder how on earth any of these guys got an internship at Kaiba Corp.
I cleared my throat and did my best impression of notorious rival of Seto Kaiba. "Talks with a thick Deutsche accent? Herr Harazaki, Können Sie mir helfen? Bitte?" (Mr. Harazaki, can you help me out? Please?)
Hiro had an aha moment and he snapped fingers. "Mr. Kaiba wiped the floor with him even though he had sworn not to compete in his own tournament."
Perhaps wiped the floor with wasn't the best phrase to describe the duel, but Kaiba had come out victorious. It was also the first time all day Hiro had actually looked at me, so I nodded.
"Exactly," I said with my phony German accent.
Hiro laughed. "Your German is quite bad Mr. Von Schroeder...But I have to say your impression is pretty good."
A phone went off. Nori smirked and answered it in two rings, like she had been expecting the call. "This is Nori." She paused listening to whoever it was on the other end. "We're here" Nori frowned and added a few yeses before hanging up.
"So kitties looks like we've not the only ones running late this morning, got some time to kill before-" Nori stopped talking abruptly.
"Before what?" asked Darren.
Nori smiled. "Don't you worry your pretty little head about it." She turned to me, clearly wanting to change the subject. "How about a Duel in the mean time?"
"You're-" I cleared my throat realizing I was still talking with an accent. "You're on."
How many other times would this chance come up, a Duel in the Kaiba Dome, the same place Yugi Muto defended his title. Nori smiled. One of the many perks of dueling in the most advanced dueling arena in the world was they had plenty of duel disks to lend. I strapped it to my arm and plugged into the duel arena. Nori did the same.
"Ohh Cat fight." Hiro joked.
Alan rolled his eyes. "If this is your version of a cat fight, you have some serious living to do."
Alan, Darren, Nori, and I laughed. Even Akio, who had been silent since Alan's comment about him being a girl, cracked a smile.
"As the challenger I'll go first." Nori sounded confident as she drew her first card.
I found out quickly that Nori had a thing for fairy monsters. Turn after turn I watched as she summoned some Duel Monsters cuter cards. Petit Angel (ATK: 600 DEF: 900), Happy Lover (ATK: 800 DEF: 500), Fairy Guardian (ATK: 1000 DEF 1000), and Fairy Archer (ATK: 1400 DEF: 600) all made an appearance. I made short work of them. I had done some damage to her life points but Nori had still not touched mine.
"I really did except more from Kaiba's personal assistant." I sighed as my Ancient Elf (ATK: 1450 DEF: 1200) sent her Fairy Archer to the graveyard.
Nori laughed. "You haven't won yet Sayoko."
Nori had been setting up to summon Archlord Kristya. (ATK: 2800 DEF: 2300). I had dug my own grave because I had sent four fairy type monsters to the graveyard she could automatically summon him from her hand. Just to add insult to injury Nori's monsters special ability made it so neither of us could not special summon any monsters. My whole strategy was based on being to synchor summon my more powerful monsters.
I blanked out for a few turns and Nori wreaked havoc on my life points. I was down to 1200 life points in a few short turns. Because Nori hadn't already backed me into a corner, she played a trap called Anti Spell Fragrance, which meant to play a spell card we had to first set it face down and wait for the next turn. To counter I played Malice Dispersion, the spell made me send one card from my hand to the graveyard but it canceled all continuous traps on the field. But getting rid of the trap had not been the only reason I played it. Nori went to attack me but I played Magic Cylinder, sending her attack right at her life points. It was down to this turn, I played Premature Burial, by paying 800 life points I got to bring one of my monsters back, the one I had discarded early, The Tempest Magician. (ATK: 2200 DEF: 1400). To use her special ability I discarded a magic card, which meant I could inflict 500 points of direct damage to Nori's life points.
"Tempest Magician attack her life points directly-"
The power went out. I was left standing on the platform in darkness. On the verge of a comeback, and of course the power would go out. I heard a large thud below and then yelling
"What the hell Hiro?" It was Alan who spoke.
"Sorry, I panicked." Hiro replied in a nervous voice.
I unstrapped the Duel Disk from my arm and put my deck back in my pouch, clearly the duel was over. I slowly made my way carefully from up on the Dueling Platform to the general area where I had seen the guys standing. A small light appeared in the darkness and I heard the distinct jiggling of keys.
Hiro was holding a mini flashlight he had gotten off of Alan's key ring and was examining the damage he had down to American's nose. A trail of blood was trickling from his nostrils and down to his chin.
"Suck it up you baby" Darren shook his head. "Hey Nori, what's going on? Kaiba forget to pay the power bill?"
Hiro slowly and being overly careful walked over to the other side of the arena with the mini flashlight in hand. "She's not here." He said finally after looking the other side of the arena over.
As if on cue, we heard Nori's voice filled the room through a megaphone. "You have one hour to get out of here or you're all fired. Have fun!"
"She's joking right?" Alan spoke in a nasally voice as he pitched his nose trying to stop the bleeding.
We stood in silence in the still dark Duel Dome. Nori had just led us down a path of no return. There were two opinions, escape or be fired. It was only our second day, yet Kaiba had already felt the need to push us, to make us think out of the box.
"I don't think she jokes Smith." Akio said flatly.
"Well you three are the techy ones, do something." Hiro addressed Alan, Akio, and I.
I pulled out my cellphone at first just for more light but then set the alarm to go off in fifty-seven minutes. We had already wasted three minutes. Time was already slipping away.
Alan sighed "It would be a lot easier to think if my nose would stop bleeding"
I laughed, he really sounded funny with his nasally voice. First things first, Alan would be of no use if he had to keep worrying about his nose.
"Hiro give me your tie." I smiled at him.
"Sayoko, I really don't think my tie is going to hel-"
I cut him off. "Just give me your tie."
He mumbled something before untying his tie and handing it to me. I ripped the lining out of it quickly before he had time to react.
"W-What? Why would you do that?" Hiro looked genuinely upset.
Nori had told him to burn it, so I didn't feel as guilty as I should have about destroying the god awful looking tie. I handed two pieces of the lining to Alan. He stuffed it into nostrils without me even having to tell him that's what it was for.
Once Alan was set, it was time to come up with a plan. There were lots of ways to go about getting out of here. Akio was the first to suggest a course of action.
He cleared his throat. "What do you think the chances of us being able to hack the KC mainframe in an hour?" Akio looked at me as he spoke.
"If it's anything like the system back at cooperate, that's not happening." Alan sighed again.
We all looked at him confused.
"Uhhh not that I would know...Oh come on guys I spent my first day in marketing, I had to find something to do, call it checking the security system." Alan laughed.
"But it's possible?" For the first time Akio's voice didn't sound empty.
"We have an hour, it would probably take a good week to decipher all the codes, not to mention you'd have to figure out how to override them and narrow it down to the Duel Dome system, and that's only if you can get over the KC fire walls first, not an easy task in its self." Alan explained. "Unless there was some way to connect directly into the system then maybe I could override it from the inside."
Hiro looked at him. "Uhh in English please?"
"Hacking the Kaiba Corp. system from an outside source is out of the question...I mean we don't have a computer anyways." I answered.
In the dim light of the mini flashlight I saw Alan smile. "Actually I never leave home without mine." I had not noticed the shoulder bag he had been lugging around all day. Alan pulled out his laptop. It was top of the line and still had that new computer smell.
"Why not just connect to the Duel Arena? It should connect back to the KC mainframe eventually" I questioned.
Darren grunted. "One problem Suzuhara it's bolted shut. I don't suppose you have a screw driver too Smith." I looked over at Darren, even in the dim light I could see him pulling on the side of the duel arena.
Hiro squinted at the cover in the darkness next to Darren. "You don't need one, anybody got a pin or a pen...Or a bobby pin?"
Instantly I reached up and unpinned my hair. I shook my head letting the rest of my hair fall to my shoulders. I wondered if this counted as cheating or if Nori had done my hair like this on purpose. Handing the pins to Hiro, I watched as he unscrewed the cover to reveal all the electronic works of duel arena.
He smiled. "Next week I'll show you how to hotwire a car..." Who would have thought Hiro's troubled youth would actually come in handy.
With the cover off, Alan plugged his laptop in. It was in that moment I realized why Kaiba had hired him. The forty something year old man defiantly knew more about computers then most people. I watched over his shoulder as he worked.
"You're sure you know what you are doing?" Akio asked after a while.
Alan cracked a smile but didn't look up from his computer. "Be patient Aki." With those words Alan turned the lights back on. After being blinded for a moment we all cheered.
"Al I think you are my new hero." Hiro joked, giving Alan a friendly punch in the arm.
He laughed. "Don't go congratulating me. We're not outta here yet."
I checked my phone thirty five minutes left. My nerves started acting up. We were running out of time. Alan continued typing occasionally cursing to himself. After another ten minutes he throw his arms up in frustration.
"Kaiba's four digit pin number. Ok? Go." Alan looked up at us all as he spoke.
"Uhhhh blue? 2-5-8-3" I rambled off first. Seto Kaiba was in fact human. Considering no one was supposed to make it this far through his security wouldn't he make his pin number something he would easily remember?
Alan shook his head. "Nope. Next."
Akio went. "7-3-8-6"
"Eyes. 3-9-3-7" I said
"1-1-1-1" Hiro added.
Alan shot Hiro a look and shook his head.
We continued throwing around four letter words that we thought would apply but over and over it didn't work. Alan was about to give up.
Darren smirked "6-6-5-4"
The blond stared at him for a moment before typing it in. "Hey that's it. Nice Underhill, how'd you come up with that?" Alan sounded pleasantly surprised.
The dark haired young man smiled. "Shouldn't we be more worried about how to get out of here?"
Alan nodded and kept typing. It felt like time was going by faster than it should have been. Hiro was sitting cross legged next to Alan on one side and I sat on his other, watching the computer screen. Akio was leaning up against the duel arena while Daren paced back and forth.
I was beginning to think we were in the clear, but then Alan's computer screen went black. Out of frustration the American stood up and let his computer fall to the ground. "What the fuck just happened?" He cursed loudly and punched the side of duel arena.
"Just reboot?" Hiro asked nervously.
Alan smacked the back of Hiro's head. "It took me forty-seven minutes to get that far." He let out a deep breath and pulled out a packet of cigarettes from his pocket. The American placed one between his lips.
"Smith! There is no smoking in here!" Nori's voice called through the dome over the PA system. We all looked up and saw a large booth that hung from the roof on the wall across from us. Inside were Nori and a man in a suit I had not seen before.
He let out a small growl and pocketed the cigarettes. "Thirteen fucking minutes left, anyone have any bright ideas?"
I was still staring up at Nori in the booth above us. "How do we get up there?" I asked not expecting an answer.
To my surprise Hiro actually replied. "There's a door on the outside of the building that leads up there."
"How did you know that?" I looked over at him shocked.
"Remember Al pulled up those schematics of the building..."
Alan gave Hiro a confused look. "Yea for like a minute."
Hiro swallowed hard. "Photographic memory, only reason Kaiba hired me."
With our new found knowledge, the five of us quickly devised a new plan. We climbed over the rows of chairs in the stadium all the way to the top. There were air vents all over the Kaiba Dome and Hiro seemed to know exactly where they led, however Hiro was claustrophobic. Being locked in the Kaiba Dome was bad enough but he refused to go crawling through the ventilation.
I was unanimously elected to go in his place. Alan got down on his hands and knees. Hiro stood on his back and lifted me up. With the mini flash light in my mouth I detached the vent and crawled inside. I had my phone in my pocket on speaker phone so Hiro could feed me directions. It was not like in the movies. For one, every time I moved the vent would clang and make noise. The vent was also very dusty. After a while I wondered if Hiro's memory was off, he reassured me that I was almost there. Sure enough I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I kicked the vent in and jumped down.
The fall was a lot farther then I thought. My lower half went into shock.
Nori and the man in the suit stood over me nervously. "Suzuhara?" Kaiba's personal assistant sounded worried.
I sat up inside the booth. "Time?"
Nori cracked a smile. "You have four minutes."
As quickly as I could, I got to my feet and made my way over to the control panel. I flipped a few switches and instantly all the doors reopened. Below, I saw the guys cheer and high five each other. I laughed when I saw Alan put Hiro in a headlock and ruffled the young man's hair. From the headlock Hiro gave me a thumbs up.
The man in the suit chuckled. "These fourth cycle interns are something special aren't they Nori?"
Nori sighed. "Oh they're something all right."
"Crawling through the vents is defiantly a new one." The man shook my hand. "It's a pleasure Ms. Suzuhara." He looked me over. "Mr. Kaiba told me you were smart, he failed to mention how beautiful his only female intern was."
I blushed. I had nearly forgotten about my mini makeover. "Thank you very much Mr... eh?"
"Mr. Endo. He's one of Kaiba Corp's biggest investors." Nori introduced the man. "And as you already know this is Sayoko Suzuhara."
Mr. Endo nodded "Shall we go down and congratulate the others, first interns ever to complete the KC Dome challenge."
I raised an eyebrow. Nori laughed. She explained our jobs had never been in jeopardy, it was a test to see how well we dealt under pressure and how well we worked together. The truth was we were never meant to actually compete the task.
I sighed and questioned her about the end of our duel.
She smiled, "We both know who would have won."
After rubbing elbows with Mr. Endo and the long drive back to Kaiba Corp. headquarters, Nori told us all to go home. I grabbed a quick bite to eat with Hiro and Alan at a sandwich place around the corner from Kaiba Corp before heading home. I smiled to myself, as I pasted the Kaiba Corp. tower on my way home. Overall it had been a good day.
A big thank you goes out to Kaibas-Rose, fantasyguardian, wierdunusualchick, and pharoah999 for your kind words and encouragement. It is appreciated far more than you know.
Disclaimer: Yugioh belongs to Kazuki Takahashi. I'm writing this story for fun and do not make money from it in any way, the plot and OCs came from my imagination. Please don't send me to fanfic prison! (Kudos if you got that reference.)