This entire story sprung from a joke between me and a friend. Being long time fans of Yu-Gi-Oh, we were talking about how Seto Kaiba (in the anime, anyway) is kind of sort of an anime version of Tony Stark. Just replace the powered suit with card games.
I thought to myself: What if Seto Kaiba ever met Tony Stark? And that's how the idea for this story got started.
The Tony Stark featured in this story is from the Iron Man anime (Madhouse, 2010) with some elements taken from the movie canon to fill in some gaps. But for the most part, the Tony in this story is from the anime universe. The Iron Man anime's story premise has Tony Stark move to Japan in order to establish an experimental power station based on the arc reactor. It has some new original characters, such as Dr. Tanaka, a brilliant scientist who assists Tony in working on the Arc Reactor Station.
I'm going off of the anime's (Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters) canon, as much as I love the manga's canon.
Anyway, this is getting too long. Any additional notes will go at the end of this chapter.
Disclaimer: I don't claim to own either series
Summary: The theft of an important piece of technology results in Seto Kaiba being forced to work with fellow genius billionaire Tony Stark to retrieve what was taken from both of their companies. Takes place years after the end of Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Monsters.
In Stark Contrast - Chapter 1 "Prologue"
"Target spotted. Closing in."
The countryside road below snaked along, black against a sea of dark green trees. Cruising along this road was a small grey truck, nothing more than a pebble in the sea at this distance. The truck was traveling about 125 kilometers per hour – hardly a speed for a leisurely stroll at night. Visibility was still relatively poor despite the moon being out. Way out in the country like this, there wasn't much in the way of street lights, either.
Not that this was a problem for Tony Stark.
"Looks like they're in a hurry. Gee, wonder why."
He'd already scoped out the terrain up ahead. He knew for a fact that the road below continued through a tunnel pass through a mountain. Once the truck reached that point, Tony planned to strike.
A female voice spoke up over the suit's radio. "Mr. Stark, please don't do anything reckless."
"Worried about me, Dr. Tanaka?"
"More like I'm worried about that tunnel up ahead…"
"Don't worry, I won't do anything too drastic." How sincere he was on that, well, Tony wouldn't say.
"If you say so, Mr. Stark. I am aware that what those men are carrying is valuable. But please, be care-"
"Sorry, but I'll have to cut you off in a second. I'll be fine. Just make sure you get a Lab 23 crew out there in the next 20 minutes, okay?" He shut off the transmission.
The truck was currently about 300 meters from the tunnel entrance, which gave Tony just enough time to drop in behind them. Dropping altitude quickly, he began his pursuit. By the time the truck had entered the tunnel, he was about 200 meters behind. His window of opportunity to get this right was pretty small.
Tony opened his armored right hand and took careful aim. As the green crosshair on his suit's display locked on, he fired two repulsor blasts at the truck's tires. The tires immediately exploded, sending the truck spinning into one of the tunnel's walls.
Within seconds, two men in brown coats and low-hanging caps leapt out of the now smoking truck. Tony deftly landed on the side of the road opposite the truck – a safe enough distance from which to see what they'd do but close enough to give him options. They'd either run or fight.
Just then, he spotted one of the men pull an AR-15 rifle from within his oversized coat.
Fight it was, then.
Before the man even had time to properly aim, Tony had one armored hand on the gun's barrel. With one simple motion, he tore it from the man's hand.
"These things're dangerous, you know."
The man made a move to run, but Tony shoved him back onto the ground with one armored hand. "This'll only tickle, I promise." He grabbed the man's shoulder and sent an electric shock running through him. Just enough to knock him out. The built-in taser was one of Tony's favorite new additions he'd made to the suit.
By this point, the other man was practically out of the tunnel. Tony sighed before beginning his pursuit. His propulsion system versus this guy's legs wasn't much of a contest, but once the guy got out of the tunnel, his options for escape became far more numerous and tedious to deal with.
As Tony caught up with his target, he extended his right arm. The result was a high-speed closeline that sent the man toppling forward. A bit rougher than he'd have liked, but his speed wasn't nearly enough to crack the guy's skull or anything. As he picked up the man's now limp body, Tony checked his pulse just to make sure. Probably a good idea to get them to a hospital before handing them over to the police.
A few minutes later, Tony had the two men safely secured and restrained. With everything wrapped up, it was time to check back in with Dr. Tanaka.
"Dr. Tanaka, how far is the Lab 23 crew from my location right now?" Tony looked towards the end of the tunnel the truck had entered through.
"About 10 kilometers… they should be there soon."
"Good. In the mean time, I'll take a look at the truck's cargo."
"Understood. I'm sure you're tired of me saying this, but do be careful. Who knows what else they might have stolen…"
"Hopefully nothing explosive. That'd just ruin this wonderful evening."
Dr. Tanaka responded with an exasperated sigh. "I'll alert the authorities as well, Mr. Stark."
"Thanks, Dr. Tanaka." Tony cut off the call.
By the time that the Lab 23 crew arrived at the site, Tony had already gone through most of the truck's cargo. Much to his dismay, what he'd been looking for was nowhere to be found. However, he had found something else interesting…
"Yes, Mr. Stark?"
"I'll be returning to the lab soon. Sorry to ask this of you when it's so late like this, but there's something I'd like for you to take a look at…"
"What is it?"
Tony held up the circuit board in his armored hand. "Some kind of chip, but I'm not familiar with the make. The suit can't match it with anything, either."
"Alright, I'll have a look at it when you return."
The only text printed on the chip besides some serial number information was what Tony assumed to be a logo of some kind. The letters "KC."
If there was one department in his company that Seto Kaiba wouldn't mind throwing out onto the street some day, it was his public relations team. They wasted their time with details he really couldn't care less about, had a knack for asking him the most idiotic questions, and if they ever came up with an original idea between the five of them, Kaiba would be honestly surprised. He gazed down the black, square marble table at the array of papers that had been arranged by the team for the meeting. There were tournament logistics and diagrams of Domino City's Kaiba Land printed on most. He'd reviewed them all already, but he supposed they liked to feel that they were getting more accomplished by wasting paper like this.
The head of his PR team, a nervous-looking man with light brown hair in a suit that was about one and a half sizes too big for him, stood at the opposite end of the table. He cleared his throat before addressing Kaiba. "In regard to the charity contest's prize, Mr. Kaiba, I was thinking we could make the prize the latest model of the Duel Disk."
Kaiba knew the man's name, but his meetings with him often didn't require that he actually use it. And so he didn't.
"The next model of the Duel Disk won't be ready for at least another six months. The design hasn't been finalized, and the software for it isn't even close to finished," Kaiba answered in an almost bored tone from his seat at the opposite end of the table. He'd been through this with them before. "I've already said that the prize should be a set of rare cards, which I've already provided."
"But Mr. Kaiba," another member of the PR team spoke up. "I'm not sure if that prize alone would be enough to attract a large amount of donations."
"How about an opportunity to contribute to designing a game for the company?" Another team member suggested.
Kaiba smirked. "Try running that by the game software team. I'm sure they'd be thrilled."
The man who'd asked the question abruptly shut up.
The brunet in the black suit spoke up again. "How about a year-long free pass to Kaiba Land?"
Yet another member of the team jumped into the conversation. "Then we'd end up cutting down on the pool of potential donors."
"The cards aren't much better if you think about that. Not all of the potential donors would be duelists." The brunet reached for one of the piles of paper in front of him on the table. "Where did you put the statistics for Domino City's Kaiba Land attendees for last year? I'm pretty sure they included data on attendees' ages…"
A heated argument sprung up between the team members, at which point Kaiba casually tuned out of the conversation. One of the sheets of paper sitting a few feet away on the table had caught his eye.
Seventh Anniversary Battle City Special Tournament, it read.
Kaiba stared at the printed text on the page as the full meaning of the words sunk in. He knew, of course, that it had been 7 years since Battle City. He was well aware of the date, and Battle City wasn't something he could easily forget. Even so, he'd never really thought about the implications of that passage of time until now. Kaiba wasn't the sentimental type, and any type of anniversary – his own birthday included – didn't really mean much to him. And yet, thinking back on everything now made him realize that the past 7 years had gone by quickly.
He had been busy. After he'd returned to the US from his impromptu trip to Egypt, Kaiba Corp's stock was still uncomfortably low. The KC Grand Prix as a promotion had helped, but he'd still had work to do. From that day forward, he'd devoted the entirety of his time to his company and to his brother. For once, he didn't have to worry about saving his brother or his company or the world itself (the ridiculousness of that last point never failed to bother him).
Maybe that was why the years had seemed to pass by so quickly – they had been some of the most peaceful years of his life. Even before Yugi and… the other Yugi (the fact that his rival had been the spirit of an Egyptian pharaoh from 3000 years ago was a detail he preferred not to dwell on) had crossed his path, Kaiba had been no stranger to constant struggle and strife. Life was a battle – a fact that he'd learned and accepted very early on.
After he'd watched the one and only person he had ever considered worthy enough to be his rival walk through a door into what was apparently the afterlife (another detail that bothered him when he dwelled on it too much), his life had entered a long, sustained period of calm. He'd no longer had someone to constantly compete against. And honestly, none of his business rivals could ever compare to the other Yugi. Kaiba Corp had pretty much dominated the game industry for these past 7 years. Its stock price was currently holding steady at 10% over last year's price.
On the one hand, the peace had given him the luxury of spending more time with Mokuba. And nothing could make him ever give up something like that. On the other hand, it had resulted in a persistent sense of restlessness in the back of his mind that Kaiba could never quite shake off. Living like this was supposed to be something to enjoy, wasn't it? Thinking about how restless he felt almost made him laugh. It was only when things were going well that he felt off-kilter. As much of a control freak as people accused him of being, Kaiba felt the most alive when he was fighting to gain control of a situation, whether it be in a duel or in something with much higher stakes. Winning was satisfying, but only when it was earned.
His entire PR team was focused on him, now. Kaiba flicked his gaze from the sheet of paper he was still holding to them. Their collective flinch was all he needed to confirm that he'd generated the desired effect. Useless idiots that they were, he couldn't let them think he wasn't paying attention during a meeting.
"Make the prize for the winner an option, then." Kaiba waved the paper at them dismissively. "The rare card set, a year-long pass to a Kaiba Land of their choosing, or stock options for all I care. Last year's donations were higher than expected and all we offered was a rare card set. Clearly that prize is sufficient. But if you want to change things up, then fine." He sat back in his chair calmly. "The rest of the tournament details are finalized, aren't they?"
The team nodded in unison.
"Good, then we're done. I have a meeting with R&D and you're wasting enough of my time as it is." He laid the sheet of paper down on the table to add emphasis to his statement.
"Y-yes, Mr. Kaiba." The head of PR bowed quickly and began gathering up the papers in front of him. The other men joined him, and within a minute or two, they were filing out of the room.
In truth, Kaiba had about a half hour before his meeting with R&D. He'd just had enough of his PR team for the day. As the thought of finally replacing them entered his mind, the meeting room's door opened again.
A petite woman with long, black hair in a black and white skirt suit sidled in between the room's two large wooden doors.
"Mr. Kaiba, there's a call for you from Mr. Nakajima at Nakajima Silicon Works. He says it's urgent."
Still seated at the head of the table, Kaiba regarded his executive assistant silently. He hadn't been expecting a call from Nakajima for another day. "Transfer it to my cell phone."
By the time his phone started vibrating, Kaiba was already holding it to his ear. "Nakajima."
The man on the other end of the line's anxiousness was plain in his voice. "Mr. Kaiba… I, um. Unfortunately, I have some bad news."
Kaiba didn't like where this was going. "Just get to the point. I don't have time for guessing games."
"The shipment of those custom D-90 chips we were sending to you… They were, well… the shipment appears to have been lost."
The plastic Blue Eyes White Dragon phone case (it had been a present from Mokuba for his last birthday) made a cracking noise in protest as Kaiba's grip on his phone tightened. "What do you mean by 'lost'? It's hardly a two day trip from Nagoya to Domino! That's not a difficult trip for any courier."
"We've never had this happen before! Our courier's never lost a single package, and they reported that all of the other cargo they were transporting at the time was fine."
"So what you're saying is," Kaiba's voice remained calm, though the anger simmering underneath was all too clear, "you aren't competent enough to get a shipment of computer hardware to my company a few hundred kilometers away."
"No! We're still waiting for details from the courier, but they believe it was theft-"
"Which would mean that your courier isn't as secure as you claimed."
"As I said before, Mr. Kaiba, this has never happened before-"
"Then make sure your courier gets to the bottom of this. Or I'll find another chip manufacturer that knows how NOT to lose a shipment worth millions of dollars."
The other end of the line went silent for a few moments. When Mr. Nakajima spoke again, he sounded defeated. "We will let you know the second that we hear back from the courier. We apologize for the inconvenience, Mr. Kaiba."
"Hmph." Mr. Nakajima had seemed like such a competent business partner up until now."Those 16 were the only ones produced." It wasn't a question.
"Yes. It would take another three months to prepare another batch of that model."
"Then start preparing now. Your company won't be getting any kind of payment until the entire chipset is delivered to my building. Do you understand?"
"Y-yes, Mr. Kaiba."
Kaiba could practically hear Mr. Nakajima cringing on the other end. Clearly his threat had gotten through loud and clear. "Good. Let me know as soon as you hear from your courier."
"Of course, Mr. Kaiba… I will let you know the second they get back to me."
"Good." Kaiba ended the call and jammed his phone back into his suit pocket before turning towards the windows behind him. A breathtaking view of Domino City spread out before the window. The view was furthest from his mind at the moment, however.
It wasn't the cost of the chips that bothered him. They were insured, and the agreement was to pay Nakajima in full after they were delivered. The fact that the package addressed to his company had been the only thing lost was what bothered him. Theft was the most likely explanation, which meant that someone had targeted that hardware specifically. The only question left was, "Why?"
Corporate espionage wasn't entirely out of the question, nor was it something Kaiba was unfamiliar with. But that meant that whoever stole them had some idea of what they were intended for. The only individuals who knew anything about the D-90 Project were himself, his R&D department, Mr. Nakajima, and a team of engineers that worked under him at Nakajima Silicon Works. It narrowed down the list of suspects, at least, but possibilities weren't what he needed right now. What he needed was definitive information on just what had happened to the shipment.
He strode past the meeting room table, through the room's two large doors, and out into the hall. The meeting room was just a short walk down the hall from his own office. As he headed for his office, he passed by the reception area where his three executive assistants sat assembled around the entrance to his office like troops guarding their general's encampment.
"Nanako," he called out as he strode past her desk.
The same woman who had entered the meeting room answered. "Yes, Mr. Kaiba?"
"Cancel my meeting with R&D. Send up the director instead. Now."
"Yes, Mr. Kaiba."
Comments/reviews are welcome. Thanks for reading!