AUTHOR’S NOTE: I changed and refined the plot so it makes more sense. Sir Carter, Matthew’s grandfather, never owned the Book of Isis. He just owned a few copied manuscripts, fragmented over millennia of time, and a draft of clues gathered all over Egypt hinting at where the Book is and how to get it. Sensing his impending death at the hands of the Ghouls, he entrusts Pegasus with the documents, who destroys them. The Ghouls, undeterred, still scour Egypt for the lost Book.
Seto Kaiba kept his all female staff of computer programmers busy the entire afternoon, as he did at all times every day since the tournament began. Realizing how taxing the tournament would be on his workers, Kaiba allowed a generous schedule of morning and nighttime shifts to be enacted, but the women were still fatigued and exhausted; they worked diligently anyway. This didn’t impress Kaiba much, as he worked before sunrise and after sunset each day, sleeping for at most four hours, intensely driven as he was. Mokuba Kaiba, however, encouraged the women with kind words and increased their pay for the duration of the tournament.
As for fulfilling the regular duties of a CEO, Kaiba occupied himself too much on the tournament. He left Isono, his trusted underling, to answer all questions at the desk. But Isono was not to worry. Kaiba would employ him as judge during the finals, as he did years ago at Battle City.
As for Pegasus, co-host of the tournament, he soon appeared on one of the oversized screens of the computer room, announcing his presence in booming, childish voice, “Hello, dear Kaiba boy! Keeping up with the tournament so far? I know I certainly have!”
“Of course.” Came Kaiba’s gruff and terse reply.
“Naturally, you’re such a grumpy bear.” Pegasus feigned sadness with a sigh, before brightening up again, “You know we would do great together in a children’s show. You know what a whiteface and redface clown are, Kaiba boy? Well, the whiteface clown is the center of the comedy, a lively character who starts a routine. The redface clown is a contrasting character; he bungles the routine, on accident or on purpose, and everyone has a good laugh. I know there’s an adult sitcom about Malik and Bakura, directed by a tragicomic personage by the name of… what was it? Martin Billany! Yes!”
“Get to the point, Pegasus. Notice anything unusual about the tournament? Did the Ghouls come any closer to finding the Book of Isis?”
Pegasus sighed, this time for real, and became even more solemn than Kaiba. “No, thankfully. As you know, Sir Carter never actually held the Book of Isis, just a few copied fragments passed down over millennia and a draft of clues gathered all over Egypt hinting to where it might be. Sir Carter thought he could guard the secret documents, but it cost him his life. He gave them to me before he died. I destroyed them.”
“What?” The news shocked and dissapointed Kaiba deeply. He thought of getting the forbidden book himself for his own purposes.
“Of course I destroyed them. Why would I risk the Ghouls finding them and getting the Book themselves? And I strongly suspect you want the Book yourself, Kaiba boy.” Pegasus changed his tone further, becoming dark and sarcastic. “I don’t know why you want it. Maybe you want to open a door to the afterlife to settle your obsessive grudge with Atem beyond the grave. Maybe you want to unlock Maria’s powers. Maybe you want world domination as your stepfather did. Who knows? But make no mistake! I’m watching your every move!”
Kaiba seethed with rage, matching Pegasus’ burning glare with his own. Nothing angered him more than when someone reminded him, let alone compared him, to his stepfather. That evil man ruined his childhood, marked him with the scars of abuse, and forever cast him under the evil spirit’s shadow. Gozaburo Kaiba was long dead, but his ghost would always live on.
Kaiba had no refutation against Pegasus. He did his best to hide his true self so no one could see through him, but the silly dandy Pegasus of all people always pierced past his defenses. Kaiba had no choice but to sulk.
He cast his icy gaze at the hundreds of monitors in the room, eying every duelists’ profile and history. Maria was one duel away from the finals, which made him proud of her. Mathias and his crew were way ahead of everyone else. Rex and Weevil were almost back to square one, as if those worthless loser dogs ever had a chance. Stella and her team progressed well. Maya and her crew just defeated Mathias in a duel and advanced to the finals. Such news grabbed Kaiba’s attention. Mathias never lost before. It was unprecedented.
But he also saw their difficult duels against Rex and Weevil. Kaiba could barely contain his scorn and ridicule; that they struggled so hard against such lowlives, but they beat Mathias too? How such dregs, such deadbeat duelists, make victories beyond their worth aggrieved him. They were agitators of the people, dirty street rats that belonged to the masses: bodega owners, minimum wage workers, the homeless, drug addicts, people trapped in project buildings, local politicians, and other untouchables.
Pegasus noticed Kaiba’s fixation, goading him, once again a flirt, “You may be looking at the next Yugi.”
Humph! A response was beneath a man like Kaiba. Such ignoble people who excelled in life were merely clever predators, like snakes or wolves in a pack. They had the souls of thieves and conmen, lacking any understand or respect for the higher values of life; the honor of a true duelist meant nothing to them!
Maya and her many friends over the years were slowly changing the game, and in his heart Kaiba didn’t know how to feel about it. Maya was an impious scoundrel who didn’t play by the rules, but a bold one, changing the dueling world before she even became America’s national champion. As one mushroom appears, others grow around it. Stella and her team rose in Iceland, Miguel Garcia became second best in America, and Juliette defeated Donatien in France.
Under a more diverse society of duelists the game itself changed as well. Chaos Control and Monarch decks were no longer the law of the land in America and Europe lost its D Heroes as well. A large palette of diverse decks and strategies exploded on the scene. Gameplay sped up and a power creep made combos much more lethal. Since Kaiba retired he locked himself in a tower, watching his Blue Eyes White Dragons become obsolete. Now all the great new duelists gathered into a mighty storm, their lightning shattering the tower, allowing him at last a chance to walk free.
He thought of himself and other genius prodigies who rivalled: Noah, Siegfried, Tenma. All of them had more native intelligence, excelling in academic subjects while Kaiba struggled. But that was how he became the best. He knew what it meant to struggle and to have guts, to keep trying when the chips were down and win. Maya, as he understood her through her records, knew the same. He couldn’t say any of that for Maria but desperately wished in his heart he could.
Absorbed in his gloomy contemplations, Kaiba didn’t even notice that Pegasus left him.
DAY 7 : 10:05 AM : LUXOR
“Guys! Guys! I made it to the finals! Woohoo!” Stella rushed to embrace our heroes, who woke up from a nap, able to begin their day proper.
Yukio noticed she was alone without her team mates, for he said, “Why are you all alone? Shouldn’t your team stick together?”
“I wanted to tour Luxor a bit but none of them wanted it, so they stuck with Mathias and his crew instead.”
“Actually, we wanted to tour Luxor ourselves. Want to come with us?” Maya offered.
Stella agreed with zeal and joined the party. They climbed in the nearest tour bust, setting off to the Ramesseum, their first destination. Maya poked Yukio in the chest with her shoulder. “How does feel being the only man for so long?”
Yukio shrugged her playful blow aside, laughing, “Feels great being the only rooster in the henhouse. I have an exotic, Egyptian harem all to myself. No gentleman is luckier.”
“In your dreams!” Stella punched Yukio in the shoulder, and the two started parrying each other’s blows in sport. The jealous Maya cut between the two, insisting Yukio was only hers to hit as she pleased. Sophia laughed as the two hens pecked and scratched each other for their man’s attention. Yukio spread his arms and legs wide, enjoying the catfight. There was no reason to interfere.
The Ramesseum was less a temple and more an entire city or village. That was how it appeared from far above. The group did not have that benefit. They could only see the colossi of Rameses, the shadows of the larger than life person who built the monuments in his name. The king was as imposing, imperious, and distant as always, his shadow cast darkness unbroken after three thousand years.
“’My name is Ozymandias, King of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’ Nothing beside remains. Round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare the lone and level sands stretch far away.” Yukio recited Shelley’s famous poem named after the pharaoh.
“We wonder, – and some Hunter may express wonder like ours, when thro’ the wilderness where London stood, holding the Wolf in chance, he meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess what powerful but unrecorded race once dwelt in that annihilated place.” Maya concluded with Smith’s work, seeing with her inner eye New York City gone except for its temples: the World Trade Center, Wall Street, and the Empire State Building.
“Yukio, we need to put those poems to music.” Maya suggested to her friend.
“Classic or rock?” Yukio queued in.
Sophia wandered everywhere, peeking everywhere she could with her camera like a voyeur while Maya thought. Of everything. The tournament. Her future. Yukio. A year ago she came back to New York to duel the regional champion. Before the duel she crashed in Jolene’s apartment to not pay money for a hotel room. They played a game called “watch the news”, one of their usual stints, where they watched CNN and took a shot of whisky every time the news station lied or neglected a story. They never watched Fox News on principle. That would be too easy, and fatal.
Naturally, the two got drunk and ate pot cookies. The drug cocktail let them open up to each other in ways they never did before. Somewhere in the middle Jolene talked about her new boyfriend. Maya confessed she liked Yukio but shook her head. She said, “Love is bullshit. Women sigh over romantic love and some magical, profound bond you have with someone. It’s infatuation and nothing more. After a few months women whine to their girlfriends over how their exes were such jerks. ‘Why, oh why, couldn’t I find a soul mate as pretty as Ryan Gosling, rugged as Chris Hemsworth, and responsible as Don Cheadle?’
I met Donatien when he was a foreign exchange student. I fell for him, fooling myself into thinking he was a sweet gentleman-rugged badboy who I could share my deepest feelings with. His sweetness was a ruse. I helped him in his studies, his pro dueling career, and even let him live with me, but he never once supported my work. The sex was all about him – he even tortured me during the act – I was just his fleshlight to help him jerk off, and he cheated on me in the name of ‘sexual enlightenment’. I finally kicked him out. We hit each other and smashed the entire apartment before he left.
I never got close to anyone after that. Even if romantic love was real I can’t take it. I’m not worthy of love or even friendship. I am a disgusting, worthless person. If people can’t see that already they will know for sure when they get close. Fuck to your heart’s content, Jolene. But never love. The heart is a weakness, the flaws of the mind. Nothing more.”
Hearing Maya’s tirade, Jolene countered, “The heart is not a weakness. Our emotions, our needs to bond with people, are why we live in the first place. They give us the strength to live. People can have deep love with each other. I had it with Yukio and you can too. He is a good man who can offer you so much but you need to risk being vulnerable if you ever want his love.”
“Yes, our feelings give us meaning and even strength,” Came Maya’s reply, “but they’re tricks in the end. If Yukio is so great why did you break up with him? Love is worthless. It blinds you to a person’s true nature; leaves nothing but tears.” She grunted, taking two shots. “I’m not a fun drunk girl.”
Maya snapped out of it. The empathetic Sophia looked at her in concern. Sweet child. Maya didn’t talk about these things with anyone, but she made the exception with Sophia, someone she knew she could trust. She told her everything.
Sophia thought about it grimly, but said, “I’m surprised someone as determined as you would give up so easily. You can reason all you want but all it does is hide your crying heart. Yes, love is rarer than a blue moon, but friendship is better anyway. It can last forever. It’s the only true love there is.”
As the group left for Deir El-Medina, Maya vowed to give love one more chance. The ancient village was a maze of old brick huts of only two rooms, the second room only for the stove. Yukio wondered how any man, let alone the king of the henhouse himself, would have any privacy in a family. It was a wonder the stove didn’t burn the house down or explode. – The boiler room from his memory exploded again, his father burned alive in the blast. He shuddered at the thought. Perhaps he should acknowledge his pain. But to whom?
The group entered the Tomb of Sennedjem, marveling the vignettes on the tomb walls, so pristine as if painted only a few minutes ago. Workers reaped a bountiful harvest in one scene, in another Re takes the form of a cat to slay Apep in the form of a snake. A stranger marvel was the outside of the tomb, marked by miniature pyramids, which the group saw as they left.
Back in the bus they went to see another village: Kul Elna, a tomb robber’s village. Worker’s houses littered the village everywhere but had none of the warmth of El-Medina. Many villages were the homes of tomb-robbers but Kul Elna was one of the few villages where everyone was in the game; where they arguably created the first national black market from riches stolen from tombs. Either way, all the villagers were massacred, ninety-nine used to create the Millennium Items. The rest is history. Kul-Elna held only one tomb, the resting place of the Millennium Items, but it was closed off, having collapsed a long time ago.
And, at last, the Valley of the Kings. The group drove there by car down a winding sand road, the cliffs sharp, austere, tall, forbidding. Inside the tomb of Seti I they went, Sophia taking as many pictures as they could, while Maya and Yukio told all sorts of morbid and inappropriate jokes. Stella found them very funny. Maya teased her further, telling her how erotic it would be to have sex in a tomb, joining the lewd with the morbid. Yukio joked how Maya was as tasteless as she was kinky. Maya rejoined him, challenging him to join a threesome by kissing Stella in the lips. Yukio cried in distress and fell to the tomb floor, pretending to drink poison and die. The three laughed at the entire show. Maya giggled, “Romeo to the end. What a sucker.”
Sophia didn’t understand any of it. Was Maya trying to make Yukio jealous? Why didn’t Yukio take offense at her transgression? They danced and made out a few days ago. Maybe Yukio and Maya liked open relationships or didn’t think making out meant you were in a relationship with someone. Maybe she was thinking way too hard. It certainly wasn’t the way she did things. People do strange things against their best interests all the time.
The group spotted a small man dressed in a while jellabiya, his face covered by a white veil. He gestured at them to come see him away from the tourists and they followed him, wearily. “Are you in the tournament?” He asked, voice altered to a very low pitch. When the group said yes, he continued. “The Ghouls will attack every city in Egypt, including Luxor, to wipe out every duelist in the tournament. But Hassam returned to Egypt to stage a counter-revolution. He wants to overthrow his father and beat the Ghouls. You duelists must aid Hassan and defeat the Ghouls.”
“How can we trust you? How do we know you’re not a Ghoul setting us up as prey? Remove your veil!” Maya challenged him.
The man declined her challenge. “I’m sorry. I cannot. I only wish to warn you to keep you safe. But I can offer you a token of my trust in you.” He tossed Maya a small wooden box. The group opened it to discover some of the most powerful cards in the game: Ultimaya T’zolkien, the Sacred Beasts and their fusion, and others. “We will meet again. Farewell.” And the mysterious man disappeared.
Sophia expressed her uneasiness. “I have a very bad feeling about this.”
“I do too.” Maya said. “He’s chivvying us into a trap. We can’t lose against the Ghouls but if we win we go down the path he wants us to.”
Yukio put his hand on Maya’s shoulder. “We no choice but to follow him and, hopefully, prepare ourselves for whatever trap he has.”
When the team returned to the workers’ village they told Mathias and his crew what happened. Maximus advised them to not use any card the man gave them except as a last resort and the finals. Stella thanked Maya and company for the touring trip and returned to her group.
Our group retired back to their little room upstairs, thinking about everything that happened today. Maya thought of the tournament and her future. If she lost, she lost everything. She would be without money and without a home. If she won, where would she go next? Yukio thought of his father’s death, bearing on him like a vice, growing tighter and tighter by the day.
He put it off again. He took his guitar out. “Let’s put Shelley’s and Smith’s songs into music.” So he started to sing and string out a few chords, improvising. Eb diminished sounded nice, but not with D major. He tried C minor, then B major, and then B major 7. Now he was going somewhere. Yukio saw the music as a fog where simply, blurry colors materialize; in this case a swamp green. For the lines “My name is Ozymandias, King of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” he chose F major seven chord where E-flat is augmented to E, first inversion.
Maya’s ears, sharp as a bat’s, perked up. “Aha! You’re stealing from Beethoven’s third symphony!” She cried. “I thought you didn’t like classical music.”
“But seriously,” Yukio said. My chords are better for the middle of the music, not the beginning.
“Maybe.” Maya turned to the chalk drawing on the ground that was supposed to be a piano. The opening lines could be played like in the Dante Symphony, but with trombones and a better melody since Liszt sucks.” She played two sharp, bold octaves, shouting a harsh, cold declaration with Yukio’s chord, except she changed the F major to F minor and turned the G to G-flat. This music conjured the very dessert outside.
Yukio praised her for the idea but gave his caveat. “There has to be a better way of saying ‘Ozymandias’ then a melodic turn.” And he tried an arching melody; two notes rise, “OZ-Y”, a held note, high above, “MAAAAAAAAN” two eight notes descend as the cruel master lashes his slave, “DI-AS!” Maya and Sophia applauded him for his great idea and had some more fun.
Their celebration finished, Yukio prepared to sleep on his cot, but his demons only returned as usual. Maya sat next to him. “You’ve looked very troubled these days. I didn’t say anything back then because it would have been awkward. But tomorrow we battle. No doubt can cloud our mind.”
Yukio rubbed his eyes together. The pain grew too great. He needed to release it. “Alright. I’ll do it.” Sophia appeared beside him to hear his tale. “I feel very guilty.” Yukio confessed. “My family runs a restaurant in New York, as you know. I always wanted to change the world, fire people’s hearts with immortal music, and fight for justice around the world. But father would have none of it. He wanted me to run his restaurant with him. How could I live such a lowly life when I wanted to be a hero? When I was sixteen I got into a big fight with dad and ran away. The boiler room later exploded, killing him. It was a cold winter so we abused the boilers too much.
Now, I always feel awful and afraid.” Tears welled in his eyes. “I feel like a spoiled brat for running away. If I didn’t, I could have saved him. But I feel so angry, too. How can a parent try to control their kid’s life? He always wanted me to be his clone, to blindly obey until he died. I apologized to mom many times. I wish I could apologize to him.”
“You still can.” Maya said. This gave Yukio an idea. Our heroes bought a few flowers just before the stores closed. Yukio placed the flowers on a large rock, serving as makeshift symbol of a grave. He vowed to his father’s shade, “Dad, I’m sorry I couldn’t be the son you wanted. But I can still walk down my own road and be the best person I can. I can fight for all the right things and still make you proud.” He wiped away all his tears. All was done.
Right before everyone went to sleep, Maya leaned towards him, staring at his eyes. “Yukio, I must confess too. For a long time I have been cynical, angry, and selfish. Mother died, dad hit me until I bled, and people on the whole are such wicked hypocrites; and a convoluted mess of base fears and desires. I felt there was nowhere to go and nothing worth doing. But you truly believe in honesty and justice. You really are a hero. You and Sophia give me hope.”
Maya pinned his arms down on the bed, hovering above him. They looked into each other’s eyes. Fiery, righteous brown met fiery, devilish brown. And they kissed. They rubbed close to each other and stripped each other bare. All their pent up heat released. Yukio grabbed her breasts and ass and entangled his hands deep into her thick black coils. Maya opened her legs and grabbed his back, hips, and ass Yukio halted. “Wait. We could die tomorrow.”
“Exactly.” Maya sucked Yukio’s face until his lips bruised. “A fuck is so sweet when you know you’ll die soon.” She crashed into him, kissing, biting every part of his body while Yukio did the same. Yukio kissed both lips of her pussy, licking around and inside them, sucking her clit. She toyed with his balls, kissing and sucking his cock, enticing it until it was so hard and large it looked like it could explode any time, and put him inside her.
They rubbed and thrust each other until Yukio burst his fuck inside her and Maya burst her fuck on him. They repeated their kissing, sucking, biting, even hitting, climaxing and ejaculating, one round after another, until they gave one another so much pleasure they killed each other. They fell unto each other, embraced into a knot so tight not even death could separate them, and fell into a death-like sleep.