Loops 5


5.1

Yugi glared at Kaiba from across the table. It was the first time the two had seen each other since Battle City, and Téa could taste the tension in the air. Kaiba wasn't friendly at the best of times, but what was up with Yugi?

"Yugi. You know why I've called you here," Kaiba said as he glared back at Yugi... no, the Pharaoh, the two must've swapped when Téa wasn't looking.

The Pharaoh nodded. "Indeed. You want to challenge me for my title of King of Games, do you not?"

"Not this again," Joey groaned. Téa was inclined to agree. This old argument again?

"Yes, and we'll do it... through the sport of kings!" Kaiba declared.

The Pharaoh's eyes widened. "You mean—"

"Yes, the ultimate battle is—"

"Chess!" the two announced in unison. As one, Yugi's friends collapsed in disbelief. Even as they straightened themselves up Kaiba had already pulled out a Chess board and set up. "Your move, Yugi," he noted, moving a pawn piece up.

"Wait, isn't Kaiba supposed to be really good at chess?" Joey asked. As he did, The Pharaoh seemed to be staring at the board

Tristan rolled his eyes. "Don't sweat it, Joey. Yugi's the King of Games. There's no game he can't play."


An hour later, Tristan's words seemed rather hollow. The Pharaoh was apparently having trouble deciding which move to make. "What's taking him so long?" Téa asked. "It's only his opening move."

"He must have some super secret strategy up his sleeve," Tristan insisted.

The Pharaoh's hand lifted away... and then he turned his head sharply to one side. "No, I don't need your help, Yugi," he muttered out. Silence, then... "What are you implying?" Another few seconds of silence. "Of course I know how to play chess! I'm just... deciding my move."

"There's deciding your move and stalling for time, Yugi," Kaiba countered.

"You stay out of this!" the Pharaoh roared. He looked back at the board... and then stood up. "I'm going to go get a Chess book... to brush up on my skills," he stated as he walked off slowly.

For a few moments, the four just stared as the Pharaoh walked off. "Just so I can check, how many of you actually think he knows how to play chess?" Kaiba asked. No-one held up their hands. "I thought as much."


5.2. (Crossover with the Mega Loops.)

Rock leaped into the air. He smirked as the gate barely opened in time to let him in. "You're getting slow on the activation times, Wily!" he shouted. It had been an interesting loop so far. It was another international robot tournament, but instead of Mr. X, the person who had kidnapped the robots was someone named Dr. Faker. It was a silly disguise for Wily and he hadn't fallen for it for a second—the man looked like Wily with blond hair dye and a spiked wig! More effort had been put into the disguise, though. Dr. Faker was apparently yet another world famous robotic's expert, this time out of Japan. It was probably the cause of 4 different robot masters being stolen, while the other half remained the same.

Standing in front of him was one of those robots, dressed in rather over-dramatic white and yellow armour, with a wide helmet on his head which covered his face so that only his red eyes were visible, and two large swords he had sheathed. "Utopia Man, you don't have to work for Faker!" Rock shouted... it didn't usually work, but asking his opponent not to fight was usually worth the-

"Ok," Utopia Man said.

Rock blinked. "What."

"I said ok," Utopia Man said. "Dr. Faker definitely isn't feeling the flow. Not my sort of thing."

A loudspeaker crackled, flaring to life. "You stupid little robot! Fight Mega Man! Your master orders it! Do as I—" The loudspeaker was cut off as the armoured robot threw one of his swords at it, slicing it cleanly in half.

Utopia Man sighed, and grabbed his helmet, pulling it off to reveal... a bot that had to be around Rock's age, design wise. He had red and black hair spiked in a way that should be impossible and a wide grin on his face. "Sorry about that. Faker usually starts off evil. He's got good intentions at heart," The gold and white robot explained. "I hope you were Awake enough to avoid a slice like that. I'm Yuma." He held out his hand.

Rock grinned as he shook the other's hand. "Good to see another looper," he said. "You can call me Rock."

"You're a new one. Never ran into a loop like yours before," Yuma admitted. He looked over himself, before he spotted... a strange pendant on his helmet. With a grin it popped free, revealing some rope, quickly going around Yuma's neck. "Hey... can you change your visual spectrum thingies? Got another looper I want you to meet."

Rock raised an eyebrow... but he started shifting through the colour and light spectrum... until he finally spotted a pale blue being floating next to Yuma. He seemed to be saying something, but it took a bit of tuning of his own audio sensors to finally hear him. "... and of all the luck you get stuck as a robot that can make a shield and fight in close combat in a loop where guns are the big thing. Truly it astounds me." The being said.

"Well, you don't have to make me look like a moron in front of the new guy, Astral!" Yuma shouted.

"I would not if you didn't make it so easy," Astral insisted

Rock chuckled at that. "Hey, don't feel so bad. You could be a Robot Master focused on glue," he told him... why Dr. Light was so interested in finishing Bond Man he had no idea.

Yuma sighed... but grinned. "Ah well, robots are still a change. My loop is all about card games."

"Card Games?" Rock asked.

"They can be serious business," Yuma insisted.

"No, it's just that... I think I've met another looper from your universe before. Yugi?"

Yuma grinned. "Sorta... the Yugioh branches are close together, but we each have a separate, if easily fused loop. Yugi is an anchor of one of those branches," Yuma explained. "Why, who was he?"

"Um..."


Rock simply stared at the other Robot Master. "So your name is..."

"Another Pharaoh Man, yes," the blushing robot master said. "Just take my weapon and let me find a patent office. I don't care if I'm a robot; I'm changing my name"


"…No-one special.

Yuma raised an eyebrow at this, but shrugged. "Ok, but be careful of my friends. I think at least my friend Shark is looping here too, but he could be anything."


"So you're Shark Man?"

The robot master in front of him was simply armoured in purple but with an oversized shark head for a helmet. "Gee, how'd you guess?" Shark asked, sarcasm dripping from his muffled voice. The helmet was actually so big it made it a little hard to hear him. "This is some admin's way of getting revenge on me, I just know it."


5.3 (Jcogginsa)

"Your Serpent Night Dragon might be too pathetic for my deck, but at least it'll make a good coaster for my drink!" Espa Roba shouted.

"Hey! That's no way to treat a card!" Joey shouted as he stepped forward. He'd been planning this since duelist kingdom. He had been spending some time with Akiza and Luna that one loop learning how to use it, so his new deck would be making its debut here. The loop was a bit interesting, though—mostly baseline, but with parts of other loops mixed in, including the weird Abridged Loop. "In fact, I challenge you to a duel, and if I win, then I get Serpent Night Dragon, and your Jinzo!" Joey declared.

"What?! How do you know about my Jinzo?!" Espa Roba shouted, more like his abridged counterpart than most.

Joey grinned, and drew a card from the top of his deck. "Because I'm a true psychic duelist!" he said, flashing Krebons


5.4 (Midnight Crescent)

Twilight the underdog, part 2

Twilight leant her head against the train's window, the slow rattle of the carriage lulling her to sleep. However, not long after she finally drifted off, the train jolted to a stop, bringing her nap to an unexpected end.

A voice drifted in over the tannoy. "This train has now arrived in Domino City. Please ensure you have all belongings with you if departing here."

"C'mon, this is us." Tristan said, throwing his jacket over his shoulder "Thanks for letting me tag along, by the way."

"No problem. I needed a guide anyway." Twilight replied, with a small smile. She stood from her seat, and followed Tristan on to the platform


Serenity Nyx Wheeler lay in her bed, trying to get her blurry vision to focus. After failing for what felt like the hundredth time since she Awoke, she turned over and buried her head in a pillow.

All right, she thought to herself, I can't use my magic and I'm practically blind. Chlorophyll, this world sucks.

There was a knock at the door. Before she could even give an answer, a nurse had walked into the room.

"Hello Serenity, how are you feeling today?" She asked cheerfully.

"Fine, thank you." Nyx flipped over once again, and flashed the nurse her best fake smile.

"That's good. Now, are you ready for your tests?" the nurse asked, still smiling. Nyx sighed. Her loop memories had shown her what she could expect, and she was not looking forward to it. She nodded, and the nurse wheeled over the equipment. "Let's get started then."

Almost an hour later, Nyx flopped back on her bed, exhausted and bored out of her skull. The testing equipment loomed in the corner once more, as the nurse made her exit.

"Thank you, Serenity. I'll check in on you later," The nurse said, the gentle words seeming more like a threat.

Alone again, Nyx just lay there, wishing for her magic, her eyes to get better, or just for something, anything to happen.

But most of all, she wished Twilight was there.


Twilight's fingers tapped on the armrest beside her as she waited for the cab to make any more headway through the city streets.

"I forgot how bad traffic can be... How much longer do you think this will take?" Twilight asked Tristan, after another ten minutes without any progress.

"Well, it is rush hour in the city centre, it's always bad." Tristan shrugged his shoulders. "Actually, come to think of it, this isn't that bad, all things considered."

Twilight's eyes widened at the prospect that it could actually get worse than it already was.

"How far from the Hospital are we?" She asked, fumbling around in her pockets.

"Not much more than a mile now," he said, watching her actions curiously. "Why?"

"All right." She turned to address the driver. "That's close enough." She handed over a bundle of notes. "Keep the change."

Twilight climbed out the door, and weaved through the traffic to the sidewalk.

Tristan followed a few seconds later. "Hey, slow down. I get you're desperate to get there, but rushing off without me isn't actually going to help..."

"I know. I just don't want to leave her alone like this any longer. Now, which way?"

"This way," Tristan said, turning down the intersection, before waiting for Twilight to follow him.


Twilight waited at the Hospital reception, her arms crossed. Tristan looked around the room anxiously, before dragging her over to an empty group of chairs.

"Alright, something's bothering you. What's wrong?"

"He never visited her, Tristan. The nurse wants to see me, to talk about 'Serenity's condition.' She wouldn't have needed to do that if Joey had ever been here before."

Tristan took a deep breath. "OK, you're right. Joey doesn't visit Serenity that often. You know why?"

Twilight shook her head.

"Their parents have split custody. Serenity lives with their mother, and Joey with their father. "

"Well, I saw the loop memories. I know that..."

"And how much else did you get from them?"

"I... I guess I kinda skipped over that part." Twilight looked sheepish.

"Their father is an alcoholic and a gambler, and their mother is a nurse at this hospital. Now, you've taken Joey's place this time. So, who ended up with who?"

Twilight stayed silent.

"Starting to see why Joey didn't visit her?"

"Yeah, a little."

A small cough came from behind Twilight. The pair turned to look at the source, one of the Hospital nurses.

"Miss Wheeler, I'm your sister's nurse. I've been told to update you on your sister's condition. Now, we have managed to diagnose your sister's illness. I'm afraid it's not good news..."

Tristan turned away at that point. Twilight nodded.

"We've diagnosed her with Retinitis Pigmentosa, which means that th...

"The photoreceptor cells in her eyes have deteriorated. And now her Retinal Pigment Epithelium is becoming mottled."

The nurse and Tristan both stood with their jaws agape. Twilight looked around at the pair, before hurriedly trying to back out of her comment.

"Uhh... I started reading up on what it could be when she got admitted?"

The nurse took a few seconds before she could reply. "Just... Just go see your sister. I... I need to take a break..." The nurse walked off down one of the hallways, muttering to herself.

Once they were alone again, Twilight turned to Tristan. "I guess I need to be a little more careful about that stuff, huh?"

"What, talking about rare medical diseases to a level as high as the experts? No, I don't see how that could cause any problems."

"Yeah, yeah, I get it. Jeez." Twilight said as they knocked on Serenity's door. Seeing the puzzled look Tristan was giving her, Twilight paused in the doorway. "What?"

"... No, it's nothing. Ignore me," Tristan said after a few seconds.

"O...K..." Twilight said, walking into the room.


Nyx woke from her nap as someone knocked on her door. There were voices outside, and then two people walked in.

Before she could even ask who was there, she felt two arms embrace her. "It's me, Nyx. I'm here."

Nyx felt tears begin to fall down her face as she returned Twilight's hug. When she did speak, it was barely a whisper. "I missed you Momma."

"I missed you too, Nyxie." Twilight broke away from Nyx, and sat down next to the bed. "So, how long have you been Awake?"

"Just a few days. And so far, this loop is awful. I can't use any magic. The only people who've been to see me are nurses, and they only want to run tests. Are you here to get me out?"

"I'm really sorry about that, Nyx, but you need to stay here for a while yet. I promise, I'm doing what I can, but I need you to wait here until then."

"But it's boring here."

"Nyx..."

"Do you mind if I talk to her?" Tristan said from the back of the room.

"Umm, Ok." Twilight said, slightly puzzled.

"Nyx, I'm Tristan. I'm a friend of the people you and Twilight are replacing. I know you're eyes are bad, and the tests are annoying..."

Nyx nodded her agreement.

"...But they know what's wrong with you now. And, if you stay here a little longer, they'll know how to fix it. But there's a catch."

"What?" Nyx asked.

"It's going to cost a lot of money. Money I'm guessing you don't have..."

Nyx shook her head. "I don't loop often enough to get an allowance..." She folded her arms, and huffed.

Tristan raised an eyebrow, and looked at Twilight, who just mouthed, "Don't ask."

"Well, don't worry about that, because Twilight is going to win you the money in a Duel Monsters tournament."

"She is?"

It was Twilight's turn to stare at Tristan. He motioned with his arms towards the beaming Nyx.

"Of course I am," Twilight said, although her voice didn't suggest she had the greatest of confidence.

"And, as an added bonus, I can even stay with you, and let you know how well she's doing. Would you like that?"

"Sure!" Nyx said, looking overjoyed at the idea of having anyone other than the nurses around.


"So, what's the plan, Yugi?" Téa asked as the pair sat down for lunch.

"Well, we need to lure Kaiba to the Game Store. I think if I just duel you instead of Joey, then that can be done as usual. You still have your old deck, right?"

"Yeah, bu—"

"OK, so that's part one. This time, I want to try and just duel him for the Blue Eyes, see if we can stop it getting torn up."

"That's fine, Yugi, b—"

"After that, Pegasus will probably either duel me or invite me to the tournament. I can just accept the invitation, or add a stipulation of my own. Either way, I should be able to get Twilight and myself accepted."

"Yugi, as good as that sounds, I was actually asking if you think we should wait until they get back to kick things off..."

"Oh..." Yugi blushed, before thinking for a few seconds. "Actually, I think we should do this without her if we can. Letting her see an early baseline Kaiba isn't really fair on him."

Téa nodded in agreement. "All right. Hey look! Here he comes!"

"All right, let's get set up quick." Yugi pulled out his deck, and placed it on the table. "And draw!"


Twilight, Nyx and Tristan talked for a while, before a nurse poked her head in the door. "Visiting times are ending in five minutes."

Twilight hugged Nyx one more time. "You be nice to the nurses, Serenity." Twilight stressed the name, making sure Nyx understood.

"Good luck, Josie."

"I'll see you for the first day of Duellist Kingdom, Serenity," Tristan said, catching himself before he started waving to the blind girl.

"OK!"

Tristan and Twilight walked out of the room. When they were a decent distance from the room, Twilight turned to Tristan, a look of frustration on her face.

"What was that in there?"

"Huh? I don't know what you're talking about..."

"There is no cure for her condition. Why would you lie about that?"

Tristan shook his head. "I wasn't lying. Trust me, you'll get a phone call or something in a day or two about it. It's practically one of the constants in the loop. Her condition varies, but they always find a cure. Just as the price of the cost varies, the DK prize money moves to match it too."

Twilight sighed. "Alright, I'll believe you. But why offer to stay behind?"

"Ahh... I've been planning to do that for a few loops now. This just happens to be the perfect loop to do it. Remember, I've seen this movie, and in Duellist Kingdom, I get to give Joey a card that would never fit in your deck, and throw something into a forest that will just warp back to the person who had it during the next tournament anyway. You won't lose anything by me staying behind, and I can keep Nyx company at the same time too."

Twilight thought over that for a few seconds. "You know, you really remind me of someone..."

"Is that a good or bad thing?"

"Not tellin' ya," Twilight said, before looking at the strange glance Tristan was giving her. "OK, that's twice you've been giving me those funny looks. What is it?"

"It's just, that's twice you've started talking like Joey." Twilight stared at Tristan, who sighed. "Look, it's been twice in a week. I'm willing to call it a coincidence for now, and it's probably nothing important anyway. If it starts to happen more often, we can just ask Yugi and Yami about it. They might know something more about this sort of thing."

"All right, now let's get back."

"Sure. And if we're fast enough, we might even get to watch Yami and Kaiba's duel."

"Right!"

The pair climbed into a cab, and set off towards Domino Station.


Yugi made a big pretence of showing Téa around the card section of his grandpa's store.

"What are we doing, Yugi?" Téa whispered when Solomon became distracted by an actual customer.

"We're stalling for time. Kaiba won't be here for another minute or two, and Grandpa won't keep the Blue Eyes out very long."

The store emptied almost as soon as Yugi finished talking. Yugi looked around, and nodded to Téa. She took out two cards from her actual deck, and walked over to Solomon.

"Mr. Muto, could you let me look at your really rare card one more time?"

"Now, Téa, why would you ever need to see it again?"

"I found some new cards, and I want to see how good they really are. If they're anywhere close to yours, then they'll be great."

"I don't know..."

Téa sighed inwardly, before flashing Solomon the biggest puppy dog eyes she could.

"...But how could I say no to you?"

Just as Solomon unlocked the cabinet, and withdrew his Blue Eyes, the store's bell rung. Turning around, Yugi saw it was indeed Seto Kaiba.

Just in time, Yugi thought, turning back to his Grandpa, who was now halfway through his all too familiar spiel.

"...Has one, I obviously have this one, and the world's number one duellist has done amazingly well to have collected the other three."

Yugi frowned. Something seemed off, and it took him a moment to figure it out.

Wait, that makes five. Yami, there's only ever been four before, right?

Yes, that is a new change, Atem responded. I wonder who has the fifth...

A quick glance confirmed that Téa had noticed the change too, but before they could question Solomon about that revelation, Kaiba had burst between the pair. His attempts to buy Solomon's card went about as well as usual.

All right, it's now or never, Yugi told Yami in their shared mind. You're up.

"I have a proposition." Yami said, his signature smirk on his face. "Perhaps we could duel for the card?"

Kaiba laughed before answering. "You? Duel me!? I don't know who's more senile – you or the old man. I'm the world's number one duellist. What makes you think you'd last more than three turns?"

"Nothing. But, if you're so confident you'd win, then shouldn't this be an easy decision for you to make?"

Solomon grabbed Yami by one of his shoulders and wheeled him round to face him. "Yugi, you can't go betting with cards that don't belong to you! Especially not when they're my cards!"

"Grandpa, don't you trust me?"

Solomon sighed, and shook his head.

"It's not about trust, Yugi..."

"As touching as this sounds," Kaiba interrupted, "if I was actually interested in seeing this, I'd have stayed home and watched cable. If you're serious about duelling for the card, then come to the Kaiba Corp Building by 6:30 tonight. If not, well, I will get what I want."

Kaiba left the store, and an uneasy silence descended.

After a minute or two, Solomon spoke up. "Yugi..."

"Yes, Grandpa?" Yami responded.

"You've bet my prized possession on a duel you have very little chance of winning, and you did it without my permission. I hope you can understand why I'm disappointed in you."

"Yes, Grandpa."

So much for that plan, Yugi told Yami.

It was a sound plan, Yugi. We just need to execute it differently.

Yugi switched back just as his Grandpa asked a question.

"Sorry, could you repeat that, Grandpa?"

"I asked if you thought that boy believed in the heart of the cards."

"I wouldn't think so..."

"Hmmm..." Solomon stood in contemplation for a few seconds, before handing Yugi his Blue Eyes. "Here. Make that boy respect the Heart of the cards."

Yugi was stunned for a few seconds, before he finally responded. "You got it, Grandpa!"

I think the only reason he did that is because Kaiba called him senile, Yami quipped.

You're probably right, Yugi responded, still staring at the card. But that's not important right now. We have a duel to 'prepare' for.


Tristan looked down at his watch as he and Twilight raced into the Kaiba Corp Building. It told him that it was 7:00.

"Did we make it in time?" Twilight asked, breathing deeply after the run from the train station.

"Well, they usually start around seven." Tristan replied, before noticing the tall man walking towards them. "I think we're about to find out."

"Mr. Taylor, Miss Wheeler?" The man asked as he approached.

"Yeah, that's us."

"My name is Roland. Mr. Muto mentioned that you may be delayed. I've been instructed by Mr. Kaiba to escort you to the duelling arena upon your arrival. Their duel should have just begun. Please, follow me."

"Well, at least we won't miss the end, I guess," Tristan said, as the three of them entered an elevator. Roland pressed a couple of buttons, and the doors slid shut.


Yami watched as his swords of revealing light wore off, leaving Kaiba's three Blue Eyes free to attack once more. Looking at the Life Point readout, Kaiba smiled.

While he was still on 1100 Life Points, Yami's had slipped to a measly 50. Granted, he'd taken more damage than he'd expected, but he was still one attack from defeating Yami, and claiming his fourth Blue Eyes.

"This duel is over, Yugi. None of your pathetic monsters could hope to stand up to the onslaught of one Blue Eyes White Dragon, let alone three." Kaiba said.

The door to the arena opened, and Kaiba's smile widened as Twilight, Tristan and Roland walked in.

"Perfect! Now your friends will get to witness your defeat as well." Kaiba turned to face Yami, and finally noticed something wasn't right. Despite the situation, Yugi was laughing. "Did I say something funny, or did you just finally snap?"

"Kaiba, you asked about my 'Pathetic Monsters', and I just couldn't help myself. My deck has no pathetic monsters. But it does contain a dragon slayer."

Kaiba's smile turned into a look of confusion. "A dragon slayer?"

Yami's smirk returned, as he summoned his final monster. "Go, Buster Blader!"

Kaiba's face went pale as the hologram appeared on the field. "Buster Blader!? That's not possible! How did you get that card?"

Yami stared across at Kaiba. "I live at my Grandpa's game store, Kaiba. He's a former Regional Champion. A man who had one of the Blue Eyes White Dragons. Did you honestly think I wouldn't have planned for your ace? Now, you seem to know a lot about my card. Tell me, with your three Blue Eyes on the field, how much stronger will he become?"

He did the math in his head, and he dropped his cards at the result. "4100 attack points... No, it can't be..."

"Yes, Kaiba, it can. Strong enough to slay your dragon, and wipe out your life points. You were right, this duel is over. Buster Blader, attack!"

Kaiba collapsed to his knees as his lifepoints plummeted to 0. "How? How could I lose to an amateur?"

Should we give him the same speech as always, Yugi?

Nah. Let's just leave him be, and see what happens.

All right, Yugi. I just hope you know what you're doing.

Atem and Yugi switched places, and Yugi climbed down from the arena.

"Well done, Yugi," Téa said, as Tristan and Twilight walked over from the other side of the arena.

"Knew you could do it," Tristan said, before lowering his voice so only the group could hear. "Seriously, do you ever actually lose that duel?"

"Only when I'm trying," Yugi replied just as quietly.

"So..." Twilight said, watching as a few Kaiba Corp employees carried Kaiba away from the other end of the arena. "What do you guys usually do now?"

"Well, wait around for Pegasus to get in touch, mostly."

"I meant more about how you pass the time until then..."

Yugi just stared at her for a few seconds, before he held up his deck in response.

Twilight's mouth hung open briefly. "I shouldn't have even asked, should I?"


5.5. (Crossover with Persona 4 Arena series)

Jaden sighed as he leaned back in the Slifer Red dorm. The loop was young, no-one seemed to be awake so far, but he knew something was going on... mainly because he hadn't seen Syrus yet the entire loop. When he had arrived, Banner had taken him aside and explained that the final roommate would be arriving soon. That had been five days ago, and he had already run through the motions of duelling, and beating, Chazz and sorted out the letter issue with Alexis before he could possibly mistake it for an actual letter. He had even made sure to at least try to stay awake through Professor Stein's classes!. Standard stuff he did at the start of a loop. Chumley was out getting some grilled cheese sandwiches and he was simply relaxing, not even focusing on his deck. And then he heard a knock on the door. "Hold on, I'm coming," Jaden stated as he walked up and opened the door.

The person who stood there was a girl, light-blue hair tied into a ponytail (which would be a lame reason to have her replace Syrus,) the same modified Slifer Red uniform that Blair would gain later on... and then the strange stuff started, with a knight's visor above her forehead, robotic arms (and possibly legs, although those were covered by long socks) and... an axe on her back. It probably functioned as a duel disk too, but it seemed to have... boosters. Not to mention Jaden, of all loopers, knew how dangerous a weapon a duel disk could be.

"You gonna stop gawking anytime soon?" The girl asked as she walked in. She had an accent that reminded him a lot of Osaka."Before ya ask, yeah, I'm a looper."

Jaden raised an eyebrow. "How did you know?"

"I'm a robot too. I'm supposed ta be hiding that but it's so obvious there's no point," She deadpanned. "Before we go on with anything else... PLEASE tell me if this is a normal school loop or not."

"... it's a school for card duelling," Jaden told her. "We don't usually have much trouble in the first year, but after that you've got an evil cult, a demonic woman and the embodiment of Darkness himself to deal with."

The girl sighed. "Is that it, though?"

"Yeah... why?"

The girl smiled a little. "Firstly, my name's Labrys, or if you want the full name, 5th Generation Anti-Shadow Supression Weapon Labrys." She said. She pulled the chair over and sat down on it, ignoring the dull thunk of her blades hitting the wood. "And one of the things I try to do is go to school. Try living a normal student life, you know?" As she talked, a small smile crossed Labrys' face. "Usually, when I'm awake, my sister is too. But it ain't normal school, 'cause I eventually have to fight monsters again." Jaden frowned. That didn't seem to explain why she was so eager for a normal school though. Darkness beat out simple monster fighting after all. "But the last few loops have been nuts," Labrys continued. "Ya think you have a bad time in Eiken, try being student council president. After that, I got tossed into a loop with Miss Frizzle, me being a robot was the least confusing thing then."

"And I'm willing to bet you had one more before coming here?" Jaden asked.

Labrys sighed. "Yeah, one day of High School... and then there's a damn zombie apocalypse!" She growled. She slammed her fist against the wall... or more accurately, through the wall. "... oops."

"Don't worry about it," Jaden said as he looked through his deck. "Ah, here we go, Clay Guard!" He held up the Trap card, and Labrys was treated to the sight of clay blasting out, as it fixed the hole in the wall.

She grinned. "And here I thought my Persona would be the weirdest thing. Think you can give me at least a year of quiet before I get dragged in?" Labrys asked.

"Sure, but only if we get to duel at some point," Jaden insisted gleefully. Labrys simply smiled and held out her hand, which Jaden shook... only for reality to almost pause around them

Thou Art I... And I Am Thou

The two looked at each other as a mysterious booming voice echoed around them. "Huh... Aigis talked about this before... but I'm not a Wild Card," She muttered.

Thou hast created a bond that transcends time and space, a bond that shall prove useful in future times.

"Future times... maybe it means other loops?" Jaden suggested, only to get a shrug from Labrys.

Thou shalt have our blessing with the Fool Arcana and the Wheel of Fortune Arcana.

The darkness faded... and Labrys simply grinned. "Wow... so this is what a Social Link feels like." She said.

"Social links?" Jaden asked. Still, if he focused on Labrys he noticed that he 'thought' next to her a symbol of the Wheel of Fortune tarot card, something he had learned when bored one loop. Next to it was the number 1.

"Bonds that can be used to form power. I bet because we're loopin', it's harder to pull off," Labrys said, unable to knock the smile off her face. "Anyway, I should probably start from the beginning... in my loop, we fight these monsters called Shadows..."


"Your fate shall be decided in this duel, my dear," Sartorius stated. At the moment, he had Arcana Force XXI: The World out and looming over her. It had just destroyed her Labyrinth Wall by reducing it to rubble, and with the two Moon Tokens he had out, victory was all but assured. "And now, I activate my Reversal of Fate!" He declared. A roulette wheel appeared above them and attached to the card, both starting to spin. "With this card I can have my World's effect become the opposite of its current position," he added. True, the World was currently in the reversed position, but the wheel would change that. Jaden would simply watch and be broken as his best friend was brainwashed, and forced into the—

"I activate my trap, then!" Labrys announced. "Reversal of Fortune!" the card was a trap, but the picture on it showed a black haired man divided in half. One side was a normal man wearing a white scarf, the other a cloaked reaper, with a second roulette above them. "See, you're not the only one who works with that sorta stuff. When you activate an effect, I can use this card and spin it." As Labrys explained the card, the second, more normal seeming roulette wheel flew out and attached itself to the first. This started spinning both it and the card again barely before they would stop. "If it lands right side up, your effect is applied twice. If not, then nothing happens."

Sartorious scowled. How hadn't he seen this coming? The Wheel of Fortune had been shown in a favourable position to take down the robot girl... but she was trying to defy it? "And if it's applied twice, then The World would be in the reversed position again." He said. It was ingenious admittedly, but still stalling for time. Nothing could defy fate. And yet as the wheel started to slow... he felt something. As if a force outside his notice had changed fate as the Wheel landed on right side up... and the World in reverse. "How? How did you do that?" He asked, barely contained anger in his voice as he ended his turn.

"Not everything is decided by fate," Labrys said as she drew a card from her duel disk. It was an axe, but she had shoved the extended shaft into the ground and used the blades as her disk. while it was an amusing sight, for her nothing about this loop was more amusing than seeing Sartorious fume as someone beat him at his own game.


5.6

"Hey Astral, Shark... can you tell me something?" Yuma asked. The three were sitting around the Tsukimo dining table. Kari was out, Yuma's Grandmother was shopping, and Lillybot was cleaning the front yard.

"What is it Yuma?" Astral questioned.

"Yeah, you don't usually ask both of us things," Shark added... and then facepalmed "Unless it's about Astral and Barians... Astralians?"

"Australians?" Yuma suggested.

Astral glared at the two. "Being of Astral world should suffice."

Yuma and Shark chuckled despite the glare, or indeed because of it. "Well," Yuma said "I was wondering... what allows us to pull off the draws?"

"Because I'm of Astral world?"Astral said.

Shark shook his head "I'm betting for me and you it's because of the power of Chaos."

"But that's just it... what allows us to do that? What is Chaos? I mean, Astral, I could pull off Shining Draw when in Astral World," Yuma reminded. "And let's not get into ZeXal."

"Please do, it'd be funny if Kari came home and you had to explain what happened," Shark chuckled and only stopped because both Yuma and Astral were glaring at him now.

"You sound like you have a theory, Yuma," Astral noted.

Yuma nodded. "Space Magic."

"Space Magic?" Astral and Shark asked in unison.

"Space Magic. Barians and Astral are from space, and it's pretty much magic."

Shark opened his mouth to object... and then stopped. "Damnit... that's actually a good point."

"Looping Observation," Astral muttered to himself. "Even an intelligently challenged person can have good ideas on occasion."

"Hey, that's not fair," Yuma complained.


5.7 (Gamer A)

It was shortly after the Battle City Tournament concluded (memorable highlights had included the final between an awake Yugi and Joey and unawake Mai Valentine defeating Yami Marik in the quarterfinals after Yugi told her the Winged Dragon of Ra's conditions). Yugi, Atem, Joey, Téa, and Tristan had been waiting to see what would happen next this time.

They thought it would be a simple Doma variant when they saw the soulless Rex and Weevil, but since they'd delayed opening the God Cards to Dartz's draining spell, they'd managed to avoid having the world being overrun by monsters for a few days. They'd been rather annoyed when the God cards had been stolen from Yugi's room that night anyway.

"Remind me again why we didn't just Leave them in Subspace?" Tristan commented, as they combed the town for the theives.

"They seem to dislike entering that null space," the Pharaoh answered, "Perhaps this will change their mind."

Something seems odd, Yugi noted. Usually, those four summon the Egyptian Gods to lure us in. But they haven't this time.

That is unusual, Atem admitted, as he led the four of them to check the usual spot anyway. Have we changed things enough for them to use a different strategy?

"Found 'em!" Joey called, as they came upon the Doma Bikers talking among themselves. "All right, youse guys gonna give us the cards back, or are we gonna have to get ugly?"

Their enemies for this round seemed surprised, (except for their first opponent, who seemed as unshakable as always). "Looks like someone beat us to the punch," Valon noted. "You want your cards back, then? Sorry boys, but we don't have them."

"What? But then who does?" Téa asked.

Raphael hmmed. "Just looking for the first suspicious-looking person, I see. Not the smartest strategy. But the Egyptian God Cards do have significant power, so your concern makes sense. We were planning on taking them, but if there's someone else involved then we'll need to deal with them eventually. First, though..."

The first Doma minion, who in all of their loops had never given his name, stepped forward and triggered his Chaos duel disk to extend. "You are destined to fight us, and to forfeit your souls to our grand design."

"This could get complicated, so we should get you out of the way while we have the chance," Raphael concluded.

The Pharaoh activated his Battle City disk. "Very well. But if you think we're easy prey, think again. I have no doubt that you're more dangerous than the Rare Hunters we dealt with recently, but against—What?" The Millennium puzzle was surrounded by a golden light, then pulled or flung away into the distance, breaking Atem's possession of Yugi and leaving the younger Anchor on his knees, listening to a broken chain slip and fall onto the ground next to him.

"Joey," Yugi said, pushing himself back to his feet as he began putting the pieces of an idea together. "Remind me again why we decided to delay unlocking the Pharaoh's memories?"

"Um, well," Joey began, "Kaiba was setting up another tournament. And the museum is where the Duel Express stops, so—" he cut himself off as he remembered just which variant involved a Duel Express tournament and the millennium items and God Cards going missing. It was a rare variant, and usually had a visiting Looper joining them, so none of them had remembered that it was a possibility.

"Ultimate Duelists, I've found you," Ishizu said, approaching. "Apologies, but I had a vision only just before the Millennium items scattered." Yugi hadn't seen the point in taking the Necklace this time around. "A great evil has been reawakened with the power of the Gods. And I must help you to stop Reshef the Dark being before it is too-"

Ishizu had stopped when she saw a green circle lowering itself to the ground around her, centered behind her. Everyone looked around to see Valon having just activated his disk and Seal of Orichalcos card. "Oh, did I interrupt? Sorry, do go on. We can all talk and duel at the same time."

"...Well, ****" Tristan voiced all of the looper's thoughts.


5.8 (Krika)

Yuma wasn't quite sure what was up this loop. It was baseline as far as he could tell, but Shark and Rio had apparently vanished almost the instant the loop had started. He'd gotten a message from them saying that they were heading to Barian

World, but they'd left no details beyond that, and since Kite didn't appear to be awake, following them would present some difficulty. Really, the only variation from the baseline that he'd found was some special history lecturers that the school was hosting, and even that was within the normal baseline variation.

Speaking of them, the lecturer was currently late. The student body was starting to get a bit restless, and even the teachers didn't seem to know what was going on. Heck, the ever-patient Astral was starting to get a little bored. Yuma idly wondered if perhaps the lecturer had found a Number, and would end up trying to recreate historical events with the student population or something.

"If that scenario were to happen, I would calculate that with the baseline set of Numbers, the most likely one to cause it would be either one of Trey's Numbers, or one of the Mythyrian Numbers. Either one would make for a most interesting change of pace, do you not agree, Yuma?"

He glared at his partner spirit. "Hey! Just because you like to keep track of all the loop variations doesn't mean that I have to like extra class time!"

He was interrupted as the lights dimmed, the teachers around the edges of the room sighing in relief. Mr. Kay stood up in the middle of the stage, speaking into the microphone.

"It is my pleasure to introduce your special guest lecturer…..Barian Nasch!"

Now, that got Yuma and Astral's attention.

An Overlay Network formed on the stage, and Shark, in full Barian regalia, stepped out of it. The student body was silent for a moment, before erupting into a loud cacophony of questions. The subject of their questions endured the noise for a moment before speaking.

"Be silent."

Yuma was very much reminded of the fact that Shark had, in his previous life, been a king. That single sentence had managed to silence the entire room, everyone else staring dumbly at him. Shark waited a moment, as if daring someone to break the silence, before continuing.

"I am Nasch, the last king of the United Lands of the Poseidon Ocean. I was reborn as a being of energy in a realm parallel to this one due to the immense hatred I felt at my time of death. My original intention was to cause havoc in this world as a stepping stone toward eliminating another parallel realm, until I discovered the criminal neglect my period in history suffers in your education system. I am going to fix this."


After school let out, Yuma stayed behind, (using the ever-helpful excuse of "remedial classes" to explain what he was doing to his friends and family), and managed to catch Shark as he was using a spare classroom to prep materials. The Barian looked up as he entered.

"I wondered when you'd show up. Surprised?"

Yuma chuckled. "More than a little."

Astral spoke up. "May I inquire as to what inspired you to do this?"

Shark leaned back in his chair and chuckled. "Funny story, that. Marin and I were originally planning on just messing around in Barian World, maybe diffuse the war if things worked out that way, and then we mentioned how we really couldn't find much information on the time period that most of us came from. Vector seemed…...insulted, by this."

Yuma tilted his head in confusion. "Wait, are they looping?"

Nasch shook his head. "No, but we stopped by the Mythyrian Ruins and handed their Numbers out. It just makes things easier, really. But anyway, Vector was rather insulted that his handiwork had been forgotten. I had to talk him out of launching another campaign of conquest, and we eventually settled on doing this." He paused. "Well, Marin, Vector, Dumon and I settled on this. Alito, Girag, and Mizar should be doing research about how well known their time periods are, although I wouldn't be surprised if Mizar is sulking somewhere about having been human, and Alito and Girag might just be bar hopping."

Yuma nodded. "One question though—Barian Nasch? Don't you have an actual last name?"

Shark shook his head. "Nope. The royal family didn't. A holdover from when we were supposed to be neutral peacekeepers before the United part of the United Lands happened."

"But...Barian?"

Shark glared at him. "Do YOU want to argue with what I choose to call myself?"

"Considering your loyalty to Barian World, I think it is a fitting name," Astral interjected. Yuma rolled his eyes.

"Whatever! We're totally going to duel sometime soon, though!"

Shark chuckled. "One track mind as always, Yuma, one track mind…"


5.9 (Adyen)

Yugi calmly watched as Yami Marik laughed hysterically at having all 3 Gods out on the field.

He was kind of bored, actually. It seemed like he was the only one awake on this loop, and started once again from the time that he finished the puzzle. He decided that he wanted to try something out, and beat Kaiba with a random deck that he made based around Shield & Sword. Once he got to the Battle City, he did not take Slifer and apparently that was enough for Marik to take back Obelisk from Kaiba as well.

"... and there is nothing you can do but be destroyed next turn!" Marik gloated as he ended his turn. Yugi had played rather defensively and the gods had just cleared his field of all monsters. He was holding on to 6 cards in his hand, but had not played much other than to put monsters in defensive position each time.

Yugi glanced off to the side where all his normal friends were looking at the three gods in fear and had to admit that this was pretty much what he was hoping for.

"So, done yet?" Atem asked Yugi as he absently drew from his deck.

"Yaaa... we're done here," Yugi said as he shuffled through his hand. "I have to admit, this is as nice a view of the gods as I thought it would be, but I got to admit that I should have ended this a few turns ago."

"Have you been stunned idiotic by the GODS, Yugi?" Marik angrily yelled. "There is nothing you can do before the might of the three Gods together!"

"Well, to be honest, I sort of have been cheating a bit." Yugi admitted. "See, thing is, when I draw things like this, I really should be revealing it immediately so that I don't get people's hopes up. But I really wanted to see your face when I destroy all three gods and win at the same time."

He slowly placed five cards into the duel system as he said, "Because even Gods cannot stand against the one who has been lost in time. As the one bound by the strongest chains is released, nothing can stand in the way of Exodia!"

The five pieces of Exodia slowly revealed themselves around Yugi and recreated the being that had been so strong that it had to be chained in five parts just to be contained. Yugi noted to himself that the holographics on the blimp were even more impressive than normal as it showed how Exodia broke the chains and stepped up to the field.

"Even Gods can be destroyed, Marik! Exodia, obliterate everything!"

A flash of white light filled Marik's side of the field as everything was destroyed. The howling cry of "NOOOOOO" filled the air as even Marik's dark side was destroyed with the gods.

"So apparently not beating Kaiba with Exodia makes people not expect it. Huh. Good to know," Yugi muttered to himself.

"Told you it feels great to be more dramatic as you do that," Atem commented as Yugi walked down the platform casually.


5.10 (The Imaginatrix)

It seemed to be another lonely loop for Yugi and Atem. They had Awoken on the ship to Duelist Kingdom, so had not been able to change any of the events up to that point. None of their friends had given the signals they had devised to tell each other they were Awake, so Yugi had decided to keep to Baseline until he got bored.

It was the night that Bakura showed up and tricked them into a Shadow Game, and the white-haired teen had just asked them what their favourite cards were when something completely unexpected happened.

The air was suddenly filled with music, a pure melody played on what sounded like some kind of flute. Yugi's feeling of surprise and awe was reflected in the expressions on his friends faces. Bakura, however, clutched at his head with a cry, the Millennium Ring glowing around his neck for a moment before vanishing. Ryou raised his head and looked bewildered for a moment, before his eyes grew round and he, too, was caught up in the spell of the music.

It had been several loops since Yugi had heard the voice of this instrument, but he had not forgotten it and recognised the source almost at once. He knew there was only one way he could be hearing it in an otherwise Baseline loop.


In his cell, Mokuba raised his head as the music reached him. His heart swelled with renewed hope as he listened, enthralled, to the strange melody. He sat thus for several minutes, until a voice at the door broke him out of his reverie.

"Master Mokuba!"

The child spun around and stared through the bars of his cell door at the man already picking the lock. It was not the face he most wanted to see, but it was only slightly less welcome.

"Roland!" he cried. "How did you find me? Where's—"

"Mr. Kaiba is waiting for you on the battlements. He insisted it was the only way his plan had a chance of succeeding." The lock gave way and the door swung inward. Roland entered and scooped Mokuba into his arms. "There is no time to waste," he said as he turned and began retracing his steps at a brisk pace. Mokuba did not protest. The sound of the music was already growing louder, and he was once more caught up in its beauty.

When he and Roland reached the battlements, the child could only stare in disbelief at the player of the strange pipe. The brunette's eyes opened as they approached, and he removed the instrument from his lips long enough to favour his wide-eyed brother with one of his rare smiles.

In his private quarters, Pegasus lay curled on the floor, his hands over his face. The headache had been sudden and brutal, and unlike the spirit of the Ring, he had not been able to escape it, and was too weak even after it receded to call one of his guards, let alone use the Eye. He would not realise Seto Kaiba had come and gone, taking Mokuba with him, until the brothers were well away from the island.


It wasn't until Yugi and Atem got back from Duelist Kingdom that they had a chance to get an explanation out of Kaiba. The tournament had been more uneventful than the Baseline after the Pirran Pipe incident, especially since Pegasus had still been recovering from the effect it had had on him when he faced the co-Anchors.

Kaiba had been waiting for him at Kame Games, but had refused to say anything until they were alone in the back of his limousine, on their way to his mansion.

"I always have a reason for doing something," he began without preamble. "I don't waste pocket space on anything that I won't have occasion to use in a future loop. I took the Pirran Pipe from Deltora for one reason and one only: to protect Mokuba. I know what the loops can do to those who are unprepared, and I want to spare my brother as much grief as possible once he wakes up."

"I understand," Yugi said quietly, "but you know that's going to take a while."

Kaiba nodded, still composed.

"This is not the only strategy I intend to practice," he said. "The Pirran Pipe will be less effective on some loopers than others. I'll use this time to prepare for Mokuba's Awakening. The longer I'll have to wait, the more time I have to plan."

That sounds like he's putting a brave face on, Yugi said to Atem.

True, the Pharaoh responded, but even after looping for so long, he keeps his feelings well-hidden.