Chapter Eight

The kitchen was dead, destroyed, annihilated. It had bitten the dust, it had come off second best, it had gone to another place; a better place. A fine white ash had settled on the black and charred remnants of the benches, the burnt vinyl of which was a strong, almost tangible smell. There was nothing visible of the polished oak flooring, burned ebony by the fire, and cluttered as it was with pieces of wreckage, larger chunks that had somehow avoided being trampled, smaller pieces crushed into a powder by the sheer weight of the combatants. A hole had been torn in one of the walls; a colossal fireball's impact, perhaps; and the smoke was heavy and acrid, making the CEO blink, his eyes watering as he struggled to stand.

He had only just woken, and hazy though his memories were, they were enough for the time being. There had been a god... two... three... ah, yes.

So, the brunette had somehow killed a god, as silly as that sounded. Well - teeeeechnically, he'd killed two gods - he'd sacrificed one to kill the other, only then the other had gotten right back up, then presumably taken down by a third god, but all that just sounded even sillier.

So.

Seto Kaiba had killed a god. With his Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon, no less.

This, by the way, was roughly equivalent to taking down Godzilla with a pocket knife; the latter was dangerous in its own right, but it was still going to be an uphill battle.

Sure, his white coat was blackened with soot, his face streaked with a mix of dirt and ash, and his limbs felt as heavy and immobile as tree trunks. That certainly didn't stop him throwing his head back and laughing as only the CEO of Kaiba Corp could. He had killed a god, and not just any god, but the top god! With his precious Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon, anything was possible!

Yes, he could definitely take on Yugi now.

With the sort of smirk planted across his features that was likely to have caused the extinctions of the Irish wolf and Australian thylacine sometime in its past (never mind the puppies), Kaiba strode from the room, ducking through a large and convenient hole blown in the wall, where the double doors had used to stand, and marching into the hallway-

"Hellooo, Kaiba-boy! So glad that you could join us!"

Ignore ignore ignore.

Without further ado, Kaiba pointed in a most accusing fashion at Yugi; but the pipsqueak was currently standing with his buddies before the television screen, so that, since he had already given the brunette a passing glance over his shoulder, the rival did not see that the CEO was, in fact, pointing - or if he somehow did, he chose to ignore it. After an expectant pause which was never fulfilled, Kaiba decided to remove his attention from Yugi momentarily, in order to at least complete the all-important task of scowling at the other members of his team.

Isono, of course, was standing as neutrally as ever, his suit somehow still immaculate despite the blast he'd presumably been through earlier, as well as the nosedive he had taken in order to save his master. Calm and utterly unruffled, he stood as though nothing at all had happened; and yet he somehow appeared to be ready for absolutely anything. To be honest, it was nice to see some semblance of normality around here, given the strange turn things had taken ever since Pegasus had dragged everyone into this ridiculous game...

Mokuba formed a sharp contrast to the suited man; a contrast which, had Kaiba possessed any real sixth sense (by which we of course mean the all important 'sense of humor'), he might have snickered a little boy's clothes were all ragged and dirty, and to make matters even worse, he insisted on posing at the big man's side on one leg, palms tilted upwards, in a stance which was clearly meant to invoke a hint of some wise old monk (or more likely, Jackie Chan), but in reality more closely resembled a character from some obscure skit of Monty Python's, with just a dash of Mr. Bean mixed in.

He couldn't have looked less like the heir to KaibaCorp if he had been trying.

Yami Marik, meanwhile, appeared to be huddled in a corner, rocking back and forwards on his heels, clenching a knife between his teeth, and in general looking as though he might attempt to run someone through at any moment. His eyes were narrowed to near-slits, and he occasionally made a sharp, jerking motion with his right hand, as though throwing a blade. Whether this new behaviour was merely some extra development on the psychopath's mental illness, or the result of a lost Shadow Game, Kaiba couldn't tell.

Deciding to ignore the farce that appeared to be calling itself his team (what a joke), the CEO instead focused on his rival, pointing once again. "Yugi Moto!", he declared, with all the charm and grace of a Tyrannosaurus Rex negotiating an obstacle course, "I have defeated the ultimate god - I have killed the Winged Dragon of Ra! Now, you will duel me!"

"Ohhh, but Kaaaaaiba - boy! We can't have that sort of behaviour here!" The CEO gritted his teeth at the drawn out vowel sound, taking a slow step away from his target, determined to resist the sudden urge to strangle the television. To be honest, he couldn't be sure if such a thing was even possible, but to heck with that - he would find some way of doing just that if he became angry enough.

"And why not?", he snarled out at last - not an easy task when one was attempting to speak through an expression that was as hard as stone. It resulted in an odd little hiss coming into his voice, and a little spray of saliva punctuating his words.

"Because," said the older man, his smile and voice suddenly gentle yet condescending, as though he were speaking to a very small child, "I want Yugi-boy to be in the cooking eliminations with Yami Marik here. They both blew up my kitchen." A hand went over his forehead, palm outwards, as he moaned - "All my hard work, ruined!" Throwing up both hands, Pegasus then proceeded to lay his head on some table, set just below the screen; one brown eye stared dolefully into the camera. "Yugi-boy, Yami Marik... I can hardly believe that anyone could be such a bad sport! Surely, Kaiba-boy, you must agree that they should compete in the elimination round against each other!"

A slight pause, then the older man sat bolt upright, an index finger raised, as though he had just had an excellent idea. "Only one will walk away! I wonder who it could be?"

Kaiba's eyes narrowed, his gaze intensified - in fact, these two things happened to such great extent as to turn the man's eyes into nature's equivalent of lasers, but I digress. "And how are they supposed to cook if the kitchen-"

"Don't worry about that, Kaiba-boy!" A merry grin at the whole group, with an added cheeky wink at Yami Marik - a gesture more likely to be meant for everyone else, in all honesty, given that the madman was hardly listening at this stage. "I just wouldn't be Pegasus J. Crawford if I wasn't rich beyond anyone's wildest dreams!"

"Your point?", Kaiba managed, after a long second of trying to rein in his temper and only just managing to hold onto it.

"Well, despite you not asking anywhere near as nicely as you could have..." - and here, a terrifyingly cold glare - "...I suppose I shall tell you. You see, there is not merely one kitchen on this ship."

A huge and highly dramatic rumble from behind made the brunette turn on his heel, somehow keeping perfect balance even with the floor vibrating underneath him. As it happened, nerves of steel backed with a desire not to show awe in front of Pegasus turned out to be the only thing between him and an unsightly jaw-drop.

You see, the old kitchen - that mess of ash and smoke, burned beyond repair - well, it was quite literally sinking into the floor. The charred cabinets and cracked shelves were the first to go, the damaged fridges and whatever was left of the ovens following - each sliding down into some sort of cavity. Kaiba thought he caught the steely glint of a travelator, ferrying the equipment to some new position, but he couldn't be quite sure.

As the group watched, another, much cleaner floor - grey tiles, speckled and swirled through with marble flecks - slid out over the old one, locked downwards into place, and another kitchen rose up from holes opening in the floor. This one was very different from the previous one, being an absolute mass of silver - from the granite benches (decorated with Blue-Eyes Toon Dragon engravings), to the steely cupboards with those obnoxious little ornamental handles (carefully moulded to bear some resemblance to the wings on a Blue-Eyes Toon Dragon), to the bluish-grey fridges (coated in Blue-Eyes Toon Dragon fridge magnets), it was evident that there was a little colour theme going on here.

Not to mention another theme, but the brunette was far too proud to admit that one.

The damaged walls now revealed themselves to be mere boards, for they slid away on a set of glittering silver rails, and new panes swished out seconds later to take their place over the walls, each tinted a bright blue, and each decorated with pictures of Blue-Eyes White Dragons that might just have been even more derogatory than the first wall's tableu. The wall closest to Kaiba was the last to slide into place, the double doors all silver and plexiglass, the Blue-Eyes Toon dragons performing some sort of bizarre dance that was most likely ripped straight from that myre-pit of human civility (also known as the internet).

A string quartet suddenly blared Pachabel's Canon or some such rubbish from the speakers, partially deafening all present. This was accompanied by an obnoxiously grand gesture from Pegasus, whose guard was now wheeling him to the doors; out of the corner of his eye, the brunette caught a gesture from Joey best described as 'grandly obnoxious'.

"There are exactly one-hundred and seventy-seven kitchen settings, each of which I can swap to at will!", the silver haired man boasted, then looked directly at Kaiba: "I thought you might like this theme best of all, Kaiba-boy."

The CEO would have spat out his drink, had he actually had a drink to spit out.

One hundred and seventy-seven? Seriously?

"How exactly did yo-"

"Kaiba-boy, I might as well ask you 'How does your Duel Disk work?', and expect an answer!" A sly tap of the nose, a gesture that might have had some place some time ago, but was now regarded in society as utterly meaningless. "We all have our little trade secrets, yes?"

The brunette glared for a long time at his rival, who simply smiled back - and the grin was as bright as the sun and cheerful as a child who had just discovered another use for crayons. It was one of those smiles that you wouldn't normally see on a twenty-one year old man, and yet it flickered lazily across his features as though the sun had just come out from behind a cloud, and-

"Fine!" With a snort, Kaiba tossed his head, sticking his nose in the air - because dammit, there was no way he was giving Pegasus extra description time. "I am very tired. With your leave-"

"Oh dearie me, just look at the time! Well past two in the morning!", the older man exclaimed, then began nodding vigorously. "You had all better get to bed!" A cheeky wink. "And no late - night duelling, hmmm?"

Some of the others mumbled what sounded suspiciously like 'Yes, Pegasus', but Kaiba didn't even bother answering that; he just stalked out of the room, ducking down the corridors as he moved towards his bedroom, towards blessed sleep, and an escape from this madness.


Unfortunately, Kaiba was rudely awakened from his slumber by an odd scratching and thumping; underscored by a dull shuffling of feet, and a plaintive whine of Kaiiiiiba, Kaiiiiiiba. Doing the sensible thing (Kaiiiiiba), the CEO pulled the covers over his head (Kaiiiiiba), mumbling for security, It was only after several minutes of the noise that he remembered that (Kaiiiiiba) security was not about to come, and Whatever-It-Was was only about to get worse, until he-

Kaiiiiiba!

-snapped.

"That does it!", Kaiba snarled, dragging himself out of bed and striding to the door, ignoring his own body's pleas as the blood went rushing to his head. He ripped the door open, and there was the midnight intruder, standing before the CEO with the limp body of Kaiba's rival dragging on the floor behind her.

Anzu?

"It's about time," she growled - somewhat uncharacteristically, her usually expressive face wiped blank. The overall impression was unsettling, so much so that the CEO was forced to blink in disbelief, before resetting his features to something suitably stony. He certainly hadn't been expecting this, after all, and he didn't want it either - after all, this girl had absolutely no right whatsoever to be barging into his bedroom, subduing his rival - ahhh, there went his temper again-

"Excuse me - I'm not feeling quite… myself." She grinned then; an utterly psychopathic look that had Kaiba losing all respect he might have previously had for this useless cheerleader of Yugi's in roughly two seconds. Luckily, that wasn't very much respect to be losing, but it was still enough to make the man pause for a moment, blink, then go to thunder at this impudent, insolent, unintelligent little-

-and the Puzzle slammed into the side of Kaiba's head with far more strength than that puny girl could possibly have in her entire body. It made the man stagger back with a surprised grunt, his right hand swinging a nonexistent briefcase in retaliation - though of course, seeing as the briefcase was nonexistent, the action only made him stagger more. Anzu closed in on him, catching him off balance and pushing him into the wall like a predator about to take its prey; its very big, far more dangerous prey, but that was besides the point. So stunned was Kaiba that someone had actually managed to break his guard, so sleepy he was, that he forgot to kick or punch-

And so, Seto Kaiba, the little lord of cards, chief of the almighty company KaibaCorp, owner of the very airship he now stood on - defeater of a freaking god, for goodness sake-

-crumpled in a heap, having been subdued by a girl who stood at less than three-quarters his height, who was younger than him and weaker than him - he couldn't help but feel that this was beginning to become a bad habit. Then again, at least Anzu was armed, which eased the humiliation factor slightly - she hadn't technically beaten him in a fair fight, only bashed a tired Kaiba's head in with Yugi's clunky fashion item - a pyramid that looked to be made of solid gold.

All the same, he couldn't really say that it was going to look very good on the epitaph.


After a bit of lying on the floor, slowly bleeding as Anzu waited - for him to die or for something else to happen, Kaiba wasn't entirely sure what - noises filled the young man's head, seeming to spill into the silence of the corridor from somewhere else.

"Ahhh, good."

A blur of white and blue appeared out of nowhere, hovering before his eyes; saying more words - congratulating Anzu, even if it appeared to have utterly misplaced her name and had decided somewhere along the line that the girl looked an awful lot like that-wimpy-Malik-guy-who-collapsed-in-the-early-ro unds. Nevertheless, the girl seemed to take the blur's thanks to heart, giggling with its maniacal laughter - though Kaiba was distracted from that by the dull greys of the room darkening, reddening, until it was fairly obvious that Kaiba wasn't exactly in Kans- in his airship anymore.

"So, you're here." A sharp pain in the man's side indicated that he was being kicked. "C'mon, get up."

With a sudden burst of adrenaline, the CEO shot to his feet - only to find that he was no longer dripping blood all over the floor. He looked about him, his features set in a puzzled sort of scowl (if a scowl could really be all that puzzled), taking in the white-haired weirdo before him (another moron who had collapsed during the early rounds, though definitely less nice than Malik), and the narrow walls of the corridor that surrounded the two of them; the cracked mud-bricks, the peeling hieroglyphics, the dead ends blocked with rubble at each exit-

"Yes, we're trapped", the other teenager growled, baring his teeth in the process. "Just get on with it."

Kaiba glared down at him, his expression going haughty. "Get on with what?"

"You - have - to - find - the - door," the pale teen enunciated, as though he was talking to a small child.

Kaiba didn't even bother answering that; he simply turned and stalked towards the dead end, determined not to let any more idiots get the better of him. There were no doors in this place, and the brunette didn't believe in the supernatural; additionally, he had absolutely no reason whatsoever to be helping this teenager, nor did he wish to. He walked off, leaving the brat behind him, satisfied that he had won-

The only problem with that was that the mess of bricks and cement slid open before him, glowing brightly. His unwanted companion gave an absolute howl of triumph as he bolted right past Kaiba, and into whatever secret room awaited the two of them; a few seconds later, he was laughing again. "Ahahaha! Excellent!"

...Goddammit.


END

(And so everyone conveniently forgot to congratulate Kaiba on his epic win of epicness against a god.)


UAB

Late? What do you mean, late?