Duel Academy was shrouded by the darkness of an electrical blackout, having little or no light gleaming somewhere in the depths of the prestigious school's halls. In the very center of the building where it was at its darkest, a Dueling stadium was kept in dead silence, littered with the unconscious bodies of the students, faculty and the campus cat. No one would wake up from their unconsciousness for a while, but that didn't stop a selected number of students from waking up from their unconsciousness.
The first person was Jaden. He hadn't fully waken up yet, he was still sleeping from the unconsciousness fading away into the darkness, after he had that strange dream of the cloaked man and his deep, heavy breathing voice. What had him questioning at first was the title given to him as "Legendary Duelist" by the same man, and the cryptic message of losing everything he held dear and the finals moments that would soon follow.
Jaden grumbled with slight pain as the soreness drained from his body at a snail's pace, but that was enough to creak his eyes open for a bit, the first thing he saw being the darkness. "Uuuggghhh... oh man, what happened?" Jaden wondered groggily. "More importantly, who turned out the light?"
Jaden looked around his area, seeing the dark shapes transitioning into a somewhat clear forms of the Dueling stadium, the bleachers and all. The Slifer Red gasped as he saw the unconscious bodies of every student in the enormous rooms, his friends slumped over or back at their seats and the chancellors and the rest of the faculty members lying motionless like untouched dolls. "Oh no! Everyone in the stadium's been knocked out, and I'm the only one awake! What could've done this to them?"
"Do you not remember?" echoed a female voice. "It was your Duel with Chazz that did this to all of you."
Jaden turned around and saw behind him, a slender, magenta-skinned humanoid Duel Spirit with features of male and female shared on her body. She had three eyes on her marked face, a green left eye, an orange right eye and a yellow, diamond-shaped eye with a red iris in the middle. She sported white hair on her right side of the head, purple on her left side, the same side of her body having more demonic features on her left arm and left leg while her right side retained the features of her female self. She sported dark crimson wings framed with black flesh and a couple of turquoise demonic eyes on her knees.
Jaden and his friends were acquainted with this Duel Spirit as Yubel, the manipulative, psychopathic Fiend who instigated the reawakening of the Supreme King within Jaden and tried to destroy him and the Twelve Dimensions by fusing them together with "Super Polymerization." Since Jaden's intervention and with him fusing his soul with Yubel's, Yubel had become a humble friend, only appearing to Jaden when completely necessary and this situation was one of the best times for her to appear.
"Wait. So Chazz and I did all of this?" Jaden asked. "I don't recall what happened before I blacked out. Speaking of which, can I have a light in here?"
Popping out of Jaden's Deck and into the darkness was a bright, shining orb of light, illuminating the blacked-out stadium with its guiding brilliance. The shining orb slowly transitioned to take the form of Winged Kuriboh, a scared expression only seen through its big, round eyes. "Hey, Kuriboh. Looks like you brought the light, after all," Jaden mused before he noticed the Fairy's fearul glint in its eyes. "Hey, what's wrong pal? You seem a little fazed."
"There is no word that can describe how truly scared your Winged Kuriboh feels right now," Yubel said, looking at the arced ceiling. "I, too, must admit that I'm feeling unsettled by this growing situation."
"You too, Yubel?" Jaden questioned. "What's gotten in the both of you? I've never seen you act so scared before, and this is the first time I've seen you like this before, Yubel. What's going on?"
The feminine Fiend heaved a sigh before she explained to Jaden the trouble they were in. "During your Duel with Chazz, something that even I can't explained happened. When both your and you friend's monsters attacked each other, it somehow released a light that spread throughout the entire Duel Academy and possibly the entire world. There is another force at work here that I do not understand myself, but what I do know is whatever it is, it's certainly not good."
"Yeah, no joke," Jaden replied as he looked around the silent stadium and the limp bodies filling in the seas. "I mean, look at how that light manage to knock us out and the power all in one fell swoop. It's like someone's gone through all the trouble just for some power surge or something."
"No, Jaden. This isn't about creating a power surge, this is something else."
"Huh? What do you mean?"
"Perhaps we might get better answers if we went outside," Yubel offered. "There's no way we can figure this out while we're sitting around here."
"You're right," Jaden said as he got up from his seating, tipping slightly as the blood in his veins tried to circulate in his legs. "Kuriboh, lead the way."
The spirit of Winged Kuriboh gave a few chirps of accordance and its furry body glowed with light once more, illuminating a small area around him, but big enough for Jaden to see where he was and where he went. Winged Kuriboh flew towards the exit and Jaden followed, Yubel disappearing after he took his first few steps off of the Dueling field. Soon enough, with no trouble whatsoever, Winged Kuriboh and Jaden both made it out of the Duel Academy entrance, where the Kuriboh suddenly stopped and froze, as if it saw something that greatly frightened it.
"Hey, pal, what's wrong?" Jaden asked the startled Kuriboh. "Is something the matter?"
"There is, Jaden," Yubel said as she once again appeared in her ethereal form. "Look up at the sky and tell me what you see."
"Alright." Jaden said, looking up to the sky. "All I see is..."
When he looked up to gaze at the sky, the Slifer Red gasped and yelped out in pure fear as he saw the sky replaced with three darkening different layers of sloshing darkness, seeing glowing phases of crimson red flashing in the background, bordered with a tint of light blue. He saw in the sky, a giant red sun looming overhead with orange flares spurting out like natural gas geysers. Jaden's surprised face consisted of rectangular-like eyes with tiny black dots and a trapezoid-like gaping mouth with three rectangular teeth on both jaws with a pale shade of vermilion in the middle. "HAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH! What's going on!? Why's the sun all red and the sky's all black!?"
"Calm down, Jaden. Now is not the time for panic," said Yubel.
"WHAT!? How can I not panic at a time like this!?" Jaden screeched in the form of a question. "The sun's all red, the sky's all gone and there's probably no signal for TV anywhere! It feels like we just got transported to the Spirit World all over again!"
Yubel sighed, remembering well of the times that she had Jaden, his school and his friends transported into the Duel Monsters Spirit World. "Yes, but it gives us the opportunity to assess the situation and explore our surroundings."
All at once, Jaden ceased his panicking as a dumbfounded look fell on his face. "Oh, right," he said, blinking twice. "So, do you have any idea what's going? Or better yet, do you what dimension we might have been transported to?"
"No, Jaden. Despite my limited knowledge of the Twelve Dimensions, this dimension is all but new to me," Yubel answered. "But what I do know is there is a power behind this that I'm not familiar with myself. Whoever controls this power must have waited for the perfect moment until you and your opponent's monsters clashed and brought everyone here in this dimension. And yet..."
Jaden looked at his Spirit Partner with curiosity as Yubel continued to ponder. "And yet what?"
Yubel glanced back down to Jaden. "If whoever controls this unknown force brought us into this dimension, then he must be waiting for an opportune moment to wipe us out. When that moment will come, I'm not sure myself."
Jaden huffed a stressed sigh. "Well, then, whoever's behind this isn't gonna get away with this, that's for sure" the Slifer Red vowed with his trademark determined smile and clenched fist. "I say we go find this guy, take him down and have him revert everything back to the way they were."
Yubel smiled and nodded. "Agreed, but do you know where you might find him?"
"Uh, no. I hadn't really thought of that."
"Then take a close look at the ocean. Tell me what you see."
Jaden turned to the distance where the ocean surrounding Duel Academy Island spanned out for miles on end. Squinting his eyes, Jaden looked and saw something stretch from the right side of the island and span across the waters, like if it was some road connecting to an unknown piece of land and separated by the veil of spectrum lights at the horizon. "Yeah, I see something, but I can't believe it. Looks like someone built a bridge overnight while we were all in our deep sleep and it's leading past that light show over there. How did I miss something so obvious in the first place?"
"Yes, but do you know where that bridge leads?" Yubel asked, earning a questioned look from Jaden. "Look closer, Jaden. What do you see past that 'light show?'"
Jaden looked back to the ocean, towards the distance where the bridge touched the horizon. It was at this moment that the bridge did not reach over horizon as intended, but was stopped by a city obscured the changing colors of the light veil. "I see some sort of city," Jaden answered, perplexed. "But that's impossible. There's no other island or land for miles away from Duel Academy."
"And what city do you think that is?"
"Come on, Yubel, I don't..." Jaden was overcome with shock as he saw in the city, a familiar tall building stretching up above the city with a round helicopter landing spot. "Hey, I know that building! That's the KaibaCorp building! I've only been there once, and even I know where that building is located! That's Domino City!" Jaden placed his hand on his forehead as his head was jumbled with many thoughts, mostly exclamations and questions. "How can this be!? There's no way Domino City can be visible from Duel Academy, and that's about a three-hour cruise ride from here!"
"Yes," Yubel said. "And look the scenery around the island, too. There is something that's bound to make you jump."
Jaden looked the perimeter of the island with a shocked look on his face. "Hey, you're right! This is making me jump!" he panicked as he saw three more roads on both sides of the island, two different roads connecting the center leading from the harbor and into the center, the other on the left side leading to a futuristic city where the only that stood out from that location was a tall, spire tower with a heart on top of it. "What's going on here!? I've never seen those cities before!"
"That is correct, because they shouldn't exist here." Yubel's eyes narrowed. "Not in this time, anyway."
"Not in this time?" Jaden repeated before he gasped. "You're not telling me that Paradox has returned, are you!?"
"Even I'm not sure about it. Paradox was destroyed when he lost the Duel against you, Yugi and Yusei. This isn't just the work of any time anomaly that I know of, this is also the work of spacial anomalies."
"Spacial anomalies? You mean like dimensional transport or something?"
"Yes. Whoever has brought us here has connected Duel Academy with other cities from different periods of time. I have no doubt in my mind that we are up against an evil force that can manipulate both time and space."
"Well, if that's true, then why hasn't our guy destroyed us altogether when he had the chance?" Jaden wondered. "I mean, he could take out Pegasus once he has the chance and everything would go up in smoke."
"That's what worries me," Yubel said. "Like I said before, he must waiting for the right moment before he can destroy us all. This is a threat that even you can't face alone, Jaden."
"You said it. If this guy really does have the power to manipulate time and space, then that means we'll have to call up on a couple of old friends and take him down." Jaden held up a thumb to Yubel and winked, a smile spread across his face like he had no care in the world at the moment. "So how about it, Yubel? Are you up for a little temporal team-up or what?"
Yubel shared the same smile with Jaden and nodded. "I am. Since we are up against a threat of a global scale, then we'll need all the help we may need."
The Slifer Red turned to the familiar, high-pitched voice as the feminine Fiend returned into his body. There, Jaden saw Syrus, Alexis, Hassleberry and Chancellors Sheppard and Crowler, all being led by Chazz and the minute spirit of Ojama Yellow. "See, I told you they were out here, Boss," Ojama Yellow pointed out. "I keep getting the shivers every time see that Winged Kuriboh. Seriously, what the heck is behind all that hair?"
"Yeah, yeah, you don't like Kuriboh. Get over it already," Chazz remarked as he and the others met up with Jaden.
"Uh, hey guys. Glad to see you've all woken up all healthy and wealthy," Jaden said, forcing a slight smile.
"If by healthy and wealthy, you mean receiving party to a pounding headache after that light show knocked us out cold," Syrus complained.
"Jaden, what's going on?" Alexis asked worriedly. "Why did everything go dark all of a sudden? It's not night time already, is it?"
"No, but uh..." Jaden pointed to the sky. "You might wanna take a look at the sky first."
Chazz, Syrus, Alexis, Hassleberry, Chancellors Sheppard and Crowler and Ojama Yellow all looked to the sky. Almost immediately as their eyes were set on the sky, a choir of yells and scared screams rang out that would be heard from one-hundred yards away, near deafening to Jaden. The small crowd all stared at the black, skyless sky with the red, dying sun with a mixture of surprised and frightened faces, all of them familiar etched into the same fear when Duel Academy was transported into the different dimension. "What in tarnation is going on!?" Hassleberry yelled. "The sky's gone! The sun's all red! We must be in another dimension again!"
"Not again!?" Syrus frantically twisted his head from left to right before he jumped into some bushes and disappeared from sight. "Everybody hide! I don't want to be sent back into my own personal darkness!"
"Great! Just when I was starting to enjoy my first day back at the Academy, we had to be transported into a different dimension!" Chazz grunted angrily before he turned his head up to bellow out his frustrations. "WHY DID THIS HAVE TO HAPPEN TO MEEEEEEEEEEE!?"
"Hold on, guys! Now's not the time for panic, alright!?" Jaden reassured, holding his hands out and slightly pushing them to help control the crowd. "We need to keep ourselves together and in check so we can figure a way out of this."
"Figure a way out of what?" Alexis asked, appalled. "Jaden, we're in a different dimension that has no sky and a red sun! How are we gonna get back home!?"
"Easy. Do you see those lights out in the ocean there?" Jaden pointed his finger towards the sea, where everyone, including little Syrus Truesdale hiding in the bushes, saw the Aurora-like lights spanning out across the waters. Jaden specifically pointed his finger to the direction where he first spotted the hometown of the King of Games. "Well, behind those lights, there happen to be cities sitting right behind them, and we all know the city I'm looking at right now. That's Domino City. We've been there on our field trip and I went there a second time to investigate Trueman's movements around the city."
"Hold up. Is that really Domino City?" Hassleberry asked. "Wait, how do we know it's not a trick?"
"How do we not know it's not a trick?" Jaden asked. "That building standing higher than the other buildings is the KaibaCorp tower, and there's only one city in the world where that one-of-a-kind building exists."
"Sam Hill! He's right!"
"Well, of course he's right. Everyone knows that the main KaibaCorp building is built in Domino City," Chazz remarked.
"Right," Jaden nodded. "And that's where I'm going next!"
The Slifer Red began to run down to the right side of the island, where the mysterious bridge that led to Domino City was located. Jaden's friends all gasped as he began to run by himself and followed him, trying to stop him from going. "Jaden!" Syrus yelled as he popped out of the bushes and ran behind Alexis ans Hassleberry, followed by Sheppard and Crowler.
"Hold up, soldier! You're not going through this alone this time!" Hassleberry barked, making Jaden stop and turn to them.
"I have to, Hassleberry. I don't want anything bad happen to you guys again," Jaden said.
"We can worry about ourselves, you know," Chazz replied. "It's you that's got us running after you."
Jaden gave a curious "huh?" as Alexis stepped in to interpret for Chazz's vague response. "What I think Chazz is trying to say, Jaden, is that you can't go running off on your own again, not while we've all just met each other again for five long years. I know you're trying to protect us all, but who else is gonna support you when things start going bad? Think about it, we haven't been able to support you when thing got tough in our last year, and we're not gonna sit around doing nothing while you need us to help you out."
Jaden gasped lightly, but said nothing afterwards after the first few seconds. Syrus narrowed his eyes. "She's right, Jay. We're coming with you to help you out in any way we can, whether you like it our not."
Another silent pause passed, one that seemed to last a year for Jaden. Then he sighed with defeat, knowing that his friends would even risk their neck to help him through the toughest situations. "Alright, but we have to be careful," Jaden advised. "We don't know what's going to happen in this crazy dimension."
"In that case, if you're going over to Domino City, then you'll need my help to get you all across that bridge," Chancellor Sheppard suggested as he and Crowler approached his former students, a look of serious determination on his face. "The Duel Academy Disciplinary Squad has an operating vehicle that might help you all get to the city much quicker. Hopefully, you can find someone that may be able to help us in our time of need or to stop who or whatever's behind all this."
"That's cool and all, but what about you, Chancellor? Aren't you going to come with us?" Jaden asked.
"No, I have a responsibility to make sure the students are calm and organized without any panic spreading through the halls of our school. But I think Crowler might be willing to come with you all," Sheppard said, growing a grin as the slender blonde reeled back with shock.
"What!? Me!?" Crowler shrieked. "But why me!? I'm the Vice Chancellor, and the protection of my students come first! Look, I only had a one-time deal with dimensional stuff and all, but this is different!"
Sheppard let out a hearty laugh in reaction. "Don't worry, Crowler, nothing's going to jump out and hurt you. You're the only one here who's got a permit to drive their vehicle and the only one awake who can get them across the sea." Then the slightly pudgy Chancellor grew a smug smile which flashed in the direction of his right-hand man. "Besides, if you stay behind here, that means you'd have to groom Pharaoh's fur, and I think he's been waiting a long time to be groomed by someone other than Jaden."
Crowler jumped back with shock as he imagined the accursed Slifer dorm cat, looking at him with a shady face and glowing red demonic eyes and fanged mouth. Of course, Crowler was also brought out of his nightmarish daydream when he felt something furry rub itself across its leg, and looked down to see Pharaoh nuzzle the side of his cheek affectionately under his right shin. Crowler screamed before he quickly picked up Pharaoh and tossed him into Syrus's arms. "On second thought, a little trip outside of Duel Academy might not sound like a bad idea!" he sputtered as he turned and ran away from the cat to retrieve the vehicle, leaving the Chancellor and the graduates to laugh.
I t didn't take long for Crowler to return with the promised truck, one comparable to the ones used in the army but enough to tickle Hassleberry's interest. He did have a father as an army general and a part-time archaeologist, so that seemed to fit in well with Tyranno's military bloodline. Syurs, Hassleberry and Chazz all sat on one row of a bench that made up the back of the truck while Alexis made up some of the bench with Pharaoh on her lap, the tubby tabby purring as her hand gently stroked his back. At one point, Pharaoh yawned, and as he did, the orb that was Professor Banner's spirit emerged, only for Pharaoh to capture him in his mouth and swallow him.
Crowler drove down the right side of the island and Jaden sat in the passenger seat, guiding the driver to the place where he first saw that bridge. The right side lead down into the forested area, thankfully made into a path for any four-wheeled vehicles with an 8' clearance between the roof and the trees. When at last when the forested path turned towards a cliff area, where the bridge began. Out of instinct, Jaden was the first to react by shouting "Wait, STOP!" which caused Crowler's foot to hit the brakes with surprise. The truck screeched into a halt, sending its passengers in the back lurching forwards and bumping their heads.
Once the truck completely stopped and everyone took a second to recoil, Jaden and Crowler looked up with shock and awe at the bridge that sat patiently, waiting for someone to cross its structure for quite some time. The bridge's road size was about the size of the Golden Gate Bridge in California and it had walls about seven feet tall on each side of the road. There were no support beams to keep the bridge in place, yet it kept itself floating above the sea without falling or breaking apart. From up close, Jaden could see the details of the bridge, what with its swirling darkness, the circuit-like lines running through the interior and exterior like the links through the map of the Internet, and the outline's changing colors. Jaden felt a little giddy as he was reminded by the bridge of its properties that had nearly identical properties to "Malefic World".
Chazz was the first to emerge from the back of the truck, now fuming mad as Syrus, Hassleberry, Alexis and Pharaoh all came out with intense dizzy spells and pounding headaches. "Alright, what's the hold up here!? Why did we stop all of a sudden!?" Chazz screamed.
"Uh, sorry, Chazz, but there's something here you've gotta see," Jaden said, pointing a finger to the edge of the cliff.
Chazz, Syrus, Hassleberry and Alexis all turned to the edge and gasped lightly, all expressions mixed with shock, awe, wonder and curiosity as they saw the mysterious bridge. "Whoa. What is that thing?" Syrus asked, the first person to break the silence. "Is that a... bridge?"
"Sure looks like it," Hassleberry answered. "The only question is, how did it get here?"
"Yeah, like I'm gonna know that one," Chazz snidely remarked.
"Looks like the only way we can get across the ocean is over that bridge," Alexis guessed. "Although, I wonder if it's safe to walk on?"
"Well, I guess there's one way to find out, then," Jaden said as he got out of the truck and walked towards the bridge. Everyone gasped as the Slifer Red made his way to the bridge, an overwhelming sense of fear pinning their feet or seat down that temporarily disabled their ability to move.
"Jaden, wait!" Syrus yelled.
"Don't do it, soldier!" Hassleberry begged. "We don't know what kind of powers we're dealing with!"
"If you step onto that bridge, who knows what will happen!?" Alexis yelled to no avail.
"Relax. Nothing's gonna happen," Jaden said as he approached the edge of the bridge. "Trust me."
Jaden paid no heed to his friends warnings. If getting across the bridge was the only way he could go to Domino City for answers, then he had to take that risk. With careful movement, Jaden made his way to the beginning of the bridge, where it connected perfectly with the cliff's steep wall and watched the bridge carefully. To be honest, Jaden was a little worried of this unknown bridge, but if getting the answers he needed to stop this major threat was the only reason to cross the bridge, then he had to take that risk.
Jaden sighed and lowered his red shoe onto the road, which made everyone gasp louder. As his foot made contact, Jaden saw white, cube-like lights form an area around and under the shoe that created a small, outline, scattering them in response to his physical contact. When he stepped back, he saw the lights fade away and disappeared. "It's alright, guys! See, nothing's happened!" Jaden yelled, giving his friends a waving hand of reassurance, responding with a relieved sigh.
"That Slifer slacker! He nearly gave me a heart attack!" Crowler complained as he gripped his steering wheel stressfully.
"Well, that's Jaden for you. Always jumping ahead in real life without thinking first," Syrus added.
"At least we know that bridge is safe to cross," Hassleberry pointed out.
Chazz humphed. "Come on. Let's get a move on, already," he said as he climbed back into the truck. "We've wasted enough time here, already."
Jaden, Hassleberry, Syrus, Alexis and Pharaoh all soon boarded back on the truck, with reluctant Crowler turning the vehicle and driving towards the bridge. The wheels soon made contact with the mysteriously solid road, and the truck drove over the bridge, the cubic lights trailing behind the wheels like they were driving on water with the ripples spreading ahead of them. Crowler whimpered as he worried about the possibilities that something might happen while they traveled over the sea, with no support holding the bridge up. While they traveled, Jaden looked ahead and around him and saw other roads leading up into the clover-shaped highway, all leading through the Aurora lights.
"Hey, guys, look at that!" Jaden yelled, prompting his friends and the cat inside the flaps of the truck to peer out and see the earthbound Aurora.
"What is the heck that thing, anyway?" Chazz asked.
"No clue, but whatever it is, it obviously spells out trouble," Alexis deduced.
"I'm with Alexis on this one," Syrus said. "The last time we saw something abnormal and pretty, it sent us to another dimension."
"Soldier, how many times have I told you to lay off those sci-fi comics?" Hassleberry asked.
"But it did happen! Tell him about it, Alexis!" Syrus argued as Pharaoh yawned in Alexis's lap, a small orb of light floating towards Jaden.
The former Slifer Red was the first one and the only one to discover Banner's soul hovering next to him, and it took the form of the late, immaterial Slifer Red headmaster, who observed the strange phenomenon. "My, my, my. It looks like we're headed for some rough riding up ahead," Banner warned as he looked to the Aurora with a serious scowl. "I would suggest you hold onto something very tight, Jaden. This is going to get very bumpy."
"Huh? What's the matter, Banner? You're not talking about those lights, are you?" Jaden asked.
"As a matter of fact, Jaden, he is," Yubel said as she appeared next to Jaden as well. "Those lights are acting as some sort of gateway between our dimensions and timelines. I can sense an unstable power inside those lights, and if we happen to enter, then something is going to happen. Something bad."
"Really? Like what?"
As Jaden asked the fated question, the truck began to pass through the veil, and the vehicle began to shake violently. Crowler, Jaden, his friends, and even the ethereal spirits were succumbed by what felt like being pulled in a malleable state like taffy, adding in an immense gravitational shift, weighing down on them like lead weights, with effects that felt just as painful. Like Alexis predicted, the Aurora spelled trouble for everyone passing through the blinding lights, for while they passed through the veils of lights, they felt they would stretch out or explode from such an agonizing state. Everyone either grunted or screamed for pain, even for Crowler, which made his driving skills all the more difficult as they began to sway and swerve.
"Crowler, get the truck steady!" Jaden urged. "We can make it out of here without your help!"
The middle-aged Vice Chancellor kept his sore grip on the steering wheel and grunted through his clenched teeth and eyes squeezed shut. "I... I can't!" he screamed. "This excruciating pain is too much for me! I can't go for much further!"
"Here! Let me help you!" Jaden yelled as he crawled over to the driver's seat and gripped the steering wheel. "You keep on driving, Crowler, and I'll help you get through this!"
Crowler groaned through his pain, but he reluctantly complied. Pushing his boot on the gas pedal, the truck roared to life as Crowler accelerated through the veil with Jaden at the wheel heightened zeal and determination. Jaden's eyes glowed, his right eye orange and his left green. Jaden stood up from his seat, pulled out his Duel Disk and activated it, slapping the "Elemental HERO Neos" card onto the Monster Card Slots. Once he did, the white, humanoid space Warrior appeared and crossed his arms.
"Help us out, Neos!" Jaden commanded as Neos flew in front of the truck with his crossed arms, deflecting the lights away from the vehicle and all of its passengers. Everyone screaming from the pain all settled down in unison as the afflictions suddenly vanished from their nerves, bewildering them.
"Hey! We're not hurting anymore!" Syrus said.
"What tipped you off? The sudden disappearance of pain from our bodies?" Chazz asked sarcastically.
"Well, we've got one guy to thank for that," Alexis said as she lifted up the flap on the back of the truck. She plus Pharaoh, Syrus, Chazz, and Hassleberry looked through the opening and saw Jaden standing in his seat, holding out his Duel Disk while his most prominent monster protected them from the devastating Aurora.
"Jaden!" Syrus screamed.
"What are you doing, soldier!?" Hassleberry demanded. "You're not supposed to stand up while someoine is driving, let alone in these lights!"
"Don't worry, guys!" Jaden replied. "We're just about there!"
Before Crowler or Jaden could even realize it, the truck and all of its passengers suddenly made it out of the lights with a force comparable to an accelerator coaster. With quick thinking and lightning reflexes, Crowler stomped on the brakes and turned the wheel so the starboard of the truck would face the direction they were going, screeching to a halt. Jaden, his friends and Pharaoh all screamed from the most dangerous thrill ride of their lives until the truck managed to come to a complete halt, the mysterious rode they traveled on leaving no skid marks behind. If it had, then the skid mark would've broken an unchallenged world record.
Then, after a moment of suspenseful silence, everyone slowly recoiled from their experience, all wide-eyed, breathing heavily and placing a hand on their chests. No one knew what had happened or why it happened, but whatever it was, it happened. Yubel and Banner's spirit were among the victims of the agonizing sensation and, despite their immaterial bodies having the ability to phase through objects and forces and not feel such sensations before, felt as shell shocked as everyone else felt. "Hey, are you two alright?" Jaden asked the spirits.
"I'm alright, Jaden," Yubel said, looking at her left clawed hand, which trembled a little. "Although, this pain... it feels completely new to me, and I have experienced much worse pain. This is actually the first time that I have experienced such physical pain before."
"Well, at least we now know what that little veil of sunshine does to you when you try and go through with it," Jaden commented.
"Yes, and technically, it's quite frightening," Banner said before he reverted back to the form of the light orb. "I do not think that staying outside here is the safest place for me right now!"
"Hey, Professor, where are you going?" Jaden asked.
"Back inside my cat, where I belong!" Banner's soul quickly floated back towards the yawning maw of his chubby pet cat, Pharaoh inhaling the little light orb into his mouth before swallowing it down.
Jaden turned to Yubel. "What about you? Are you sure you're gonna be okay?"
"I'll manage, Jaden," Yubel said with a slight smile on her blue lips. "But I'd be more worried about your friends. Who knows what they might be going through right now?"
Yubel vanished from sight as Jaden took a quick look at Crowler, the most traumatized person on the truck. Crowler's hands clenched tightly onto the steering wheel to the point where they began shuddering, a scared look in his eyes and clenched teeth in his purple, lady-like lips. Jaden looked to the back of the truck, where Alexis, Chazz, Syrus and Hassleberry all pushed themselves off of the floor or the bench into an upright seating position. "You guys alright!? None of you are hurt, are you!?" Jaden asked.
"No, but I am gonna need a new change of shorts," Syrus admitted.
"Now that's just gross," Hassleberry replied before he grunted and placed a hand on his right arm. "Great. Looks like that little shake-up really did a number on me. I might need some medical attention and some physical therapy to help get this bad boy back into shape."
"Speaking of that shake-up, what exactly did happen?" Alexis asked concernedly. "It was like that light had a negative effect on people and objects who go through it. It doesn't make any sense."
"Yeah, but did you actually feel what it was like going through that light" Chazz asked, looking down at his quivering hand with wide eyes. "It felt like I was caught in an active car compactor and had no way out. I almost felt like I was about bite the dust then!"
Ojama Yellow appeared next to Chazz's left shoulder, wiggling his little, bikini-clad hips. "I'm just glad you didn't bite the dust yourself, Boss," the little Beast said. "I may be someone who doesn't wash himself very often, but I'm not the guy who's really fond of dust. Our family's been at a feud with the Duston family for generations and it never lets up! Not for one single day!"
"Not helping," Chazz growled as he knocked Ojama Yellow away with the brush of his hand.
"Well, whatever it was, we owe our lives to Crowler's driving skills," Jaden said, happily patting the Vice Chancellor on the back. "Isn't that right, teach?"
"Y-Y-Yes, well that all seems quite well and g-g-good," Crowler stuttered. "But could you all find me a pillow to lay on? I-I-I'd like to pass out now." With his nerves and adrenaline at an all-time high, the chemical reaction was too much for Crowler, thus he flopped over like a lifeless doll and immediately passed out onto the steering wheel. Jaden gasped at the sight and quickly shook Crowler on the right shoulder in an attempt to bring him out of his unconscious state.
"Crowler! Can you hear me!? Are you alright!?" Jaden shouted, shaking Crowler gently but firmly.
"Forget him, Jaden. He's dead weight in the way he's in," Chazz humphed as he and the others got out of the back of the truck.
"Yeah, but I can't just leave him lying around here. What if something happens right now where we couldn't even save him?"
"Jaden's right, Chazz," Alexis said, her eyes closed and arms crossed. "Crowler isn't dead weight in his condition and we're not going to lay him down somewhere dangerous."
"Uh, come again?" Jaden said as his and Chazz's eyes widened by an inch.
"Look, the point I'm trying to get across to you, Chazz, is we've already made it this far with Crowler's help, and he doesn't deserve to be called dead weight," Alexis opened one eye accusingly towards the black-haired Duelist, who reeled back from her little glare. "We've already gone through the hard part now, so it wouldn't make sense for us to turn back now. We have to continue down this road if we're gonna need to find all the help we can get, and that means helping out Crowler since he's the one who's got us here. You understand?"
"Yeah, sure... okay," Chazz stammered, blushing from how cute Alexis looked when she was angry, but looked away timidly from how frightening Alexis looked when she was angry.
"Good. Now could you please come here and help me get into the truck?"
"Uhh...sure." "Okay." Chazz and Jaden complied with a simultaneous nod of their heads.
Alexis gently pulled the unconscious Vice Chancellor from his driver's seat while Jaden and Chazz rushed over to help her out by grabbing the underside of Crowler's arms. Once half of Crowler's limp body was pulled out, Jaden got to work by holding up his legs, and the three moved him gingerly into the back of the truck. Syrus and Hassleberry helped lug the Vice Chancellor into the back, with Hassleberry saying, "Easy does it, soldier" as Syrus pulled him in by the shoulders and laid him flat against the floor. Once Crowler was fully inside the truck, Alexis rushed over and checked his pulse on his wrist, having learned a little from her former dorm headmistress and Duel Academy nurse, Fonda Fontaine.
"How is he, Lex?" Syrus asked.
"Well, he's still breathing and his heart's pumping, so there's some good news," Alexis explained. "Unfortunately, the effects of those lights knocked him out cold, so he's gonna be staying like this for a while."
"Great. So now who's gonna drive us down to Domino City when our driver's now unconscious?" Hassleberry asked. By perfect timing, the truck's horn blared HONK! HONK! twice, making everyone jump out of their skin a little, ten-fold in Pharaoh's case, before they looked over and saw Jaden in the driver's seat. He sat on the seat and his torso was turned to face his friends with one hand on the steering wheel and one hand pointing to his childish grin.
"I'll drive!" Jaden said playfully. "So, who wants to ride shotgun!?"
"As long as I'm not cramped up in this dusty part of this truck, I'm calling shotgun," Chazz said, walking over to the passenger seat.
"Aww, but I wanted to call shotgun," Syrus half-whined.
"Too late now, private. Once someone calls shotgun, there are no take-backs," Hassleberry commented, making Syrus moan in defeat.
Chazz made his way to the passenger's seat just as Jaden started up the ignition on the truck and began to drive off down the road. There in the distance, Jaden and Chazz could clearly see the shape of Domino City come up from the horizon, a serious, stoic face plastered on their visage. "So what's the plan, Jaden?" Chazz asked, breaking the short silence. "Is there someone in the city you know that we can phone for help or something?"
"Well, there are a couple of people I know who could help us, actually," Jaden answered. "The only question is, where are we going to meet up?"
"Really? A couple of friends you've made during the last five years you've been traveling?"
"You can say that."
"Good, because if they can help us sort out this mess, then hopefully we can get back to our Class Reunion Week," Chazz said, lying back on the seat, arms crossed behind his head as support. "In a situation like this, someone's bound to take advantage of our situation by stealing all of the world's major companies right from under our noses. I'm not letting that happen in a million years... well, not just because I've recently became the President of my family business, but because the Princeton family's reputation will be shot down if word gets out that someone's bankrupted my business."
"Don't worry about it, Chazaroo," Jaden assured. "If someone's out to destroy your company, then they'll have to go through us first."
"It's The Chazz," the latter corrected. "And thanks for the offer, but I've already gotten enough help as it is. And technically, they're all really annoying."
The spirits of the three Ojama Brothers appeared next to Chazz's shoulders, much to his complete chagrin. "I know what you mean, Boss. Those Beetron monsters haven't paid their rent since they've moved in," Ojama Yellow said, shaking his hips.
"Yeah. I've told you mooks those Beetrons were nothin' but trouble," Ojama Black said gruffly.
"Well, at least they're treatin' us for dinner tonight at the old pizzeria," Ojama Green said with a pinkie in his unseen nose. "They're even payin' for what kind of toppings we'd like on 'em."
"Oh yeah!? We can choose whatever topping we want!?" Ojama Yellow chirped, holding his hinds together, eyes wide open and a big smile spread across his pear-shaped head. ""In that case, I'll have mine with extra onions and anchovies!"
Chazz growled from the Ojama Trio's pointless, maddening rambling, and the mention of anchovy pizza was enough to drive him up the wall. "I keep telling you three losers, I don't want anchovies!" Chazz snapped, making the Ojamas jump away with shock. "And the annoying help I was talking about was you three!" The dark garbed Duelist started flailing his arms, trying to swat away the Ojamas into submission, narrowly hitting his evasive targets until the three Ojama Brothers were cornered together. Then Chazz clapped his hands around the three Beasts and they disappeared into dust clouds.
"Wow, Chazz. Looks like you've improved control over your temper," Jaden bantered. "Way to go."
Chazz shot his face into Jaden's personal bubble, making the former Slifer Red giggle. "Don't start with me, slacker, unless you'd like me to Chazz you up!"
"No, of course not... Chazaroo." Jaden's final tease made Chazz growl before he slumped back in his seat, crossing his arms, closing his eyes and sporting his famous frown. Of course, the smile quickly and steadily melted into a frown as another thought about the situation at hand, not losing focus while he drove the truck. "Still, if what Yubel said was true, about the work of time and space anomalies bringing different locations from other times into one dimension, then there's something definitely bigger going on than I thought," Jaden looked up to the darkness and the red sun."Whoever's doing this must have a good reason to bring our timelines together in one place. Hopefully, I'll be able to meet with Yugi and Yusei before our guy makes his big move, and I have a pretty good idea where we can meet them."
"Wake up... Legendary Duelist..."
"You don't know me... but I know you very well..."
"We have so much to discuss..."
"You have been revered by many as a Duelist... who has saved the world for more than one time. You have fended off the forces of evil who tried to use... the same cards to destroy your world. You have united your own people... using the powers that you possess... and gave them all hope for... a brighter future... and a better tomorrow. But to what cost... did you have to pay... to ensure that same hope... for your own future?"
"It cost you the lives of those... you once considered friends. Enemies who once sought out for the ultimate power... and to destroy the cards and everything else... you all hold dear to yourselves. In the end, they ultimately paid for their failures with their own lives... done in by your own hands... or theirs..."
"Now I intend to make you lose... everything and everyone you held so dear... just like I have so long ago. You will know the feeling of emptiness... once I have taken all you vowed to keep safe. You will know what it feels like... to lose all hope... all emotion... and all faith in your future that you vowed to preserve like I had. You among others will witness... while I drag you and your timeline... into nothingness... and rewrite history into the way I desire it to be..."
"Wake up... Legendary Duelist..."
"Your final moments... have begun..."
Domino City - Kaiba Dome
Yugi was the first person to be jolted awake as the raspy, breathing voice from his dreams was silenced.
Panting for breath, the King of Games took a moment to recover from that strange vision, trying to register the mysterious, cloaked figure in the shadows and the cryptic message he spoke between deep, metallic breaths. All he could remember was seeing the man's shadowy silhouette, wearing a cloak because of how the cape flowed with the unfeeling winds, with a mouthpiece, and the strange, round, glowing red circles for his supposed. Other than the raspy voice and the faint silhouette, Yugi could not remember anything, except for what happened before the strange light occurred.
Yugi pushed himself up and scanned the dark interior of the Kaiba Dome, his eyes adjusting to the pitch-black darkness. The sound of silence hung in the air as Yugi saw the faint shape of Kaiba lying down on the floor, unconscious at the very same place where he faced his opponent. Looking up to the balconies, Yugi saw the limp bodies of Joey, Tristan and Tea laying against the railing, them being the victims of the strange light's power as well. In the control tower, Mokuba's unconscious body fell on the control panels, the buttons and switches not being damaged by the weight of boy's body on top of them. Yugi felt a reverie of relief, knowing that his friends and rivals were not hurt by the light.
As he woke up, the spectral image of the shy Yugi Muto appeared to Yami, feeling as drained as Yami was but nevertheless unharmed and uninjured. "Are you alright, Yugi?" Yami asked his smaller, timid counterpart.
"I'm fine, Pharaoh," Yugi answered, "but whatever that was just now, it knocked us out and canceled our Duel midway."
"Yes," Yami concurred. "That light was definitely not a glitch. A glitch like that may have the power to cancel out our Duel and shut off the power in the Kaiba Dome, but it wouldn't have the power to render us unconscious. There must be an outside force at work here."
"Well, I guess this isn't the work of some computer hacker or a virus," Yugi deduced. "Do you think that light was caused by some sort of magic?"
"That's highly doubtful, Yugi. I can't sense any magical force that caused the light to appear," Yami said as he narrowed his eyes. "However, I sense that another force at play, one that even I have little or no knowledge of. It's best that we keep our guard up, Yugi, because whatever might happen will lead us to a dangerous path."
"Then let's be careful. We'll never know if this unknown force we're dealing with is dangerous as well."
Yugi Muto's slightly transparent body disappeared as a painful grunt caught Yami's attention. Looking to the other side of the Dueling field, the King of Games saw Kaiba waking up, shuddering with pain as he tried to push himself up from the floor. Yugi rushed over to Kaiba and kneeled down, reaching his hand out to help his rival back on his feet. "Kaiba, are you alright?"
"I'm fine," Kaiba grumbled as he swatted Yugi's hand away from him. Using his strength, Kaiba pushed himself up on his feet, only wobbling a by little bit until he managed to find his balance. Kaiba placed his hand over his lungs and looked around the dark interior of the kaiba Dome, his face melting into a frown of disappointment.
"Isn't this just perfect? Just as my 'Blue-Eyes White Dragon' was about to be obliterated, my holographic systems developed a major internal glitch and now the main generator is busted," Kaiba complained, looking towards his rival. "I have a feeling that you're somehow behind this, Yugi."
"Kaiba, despite what you think, this is not my doing," Yugi explained. "Someone or something has caused the light to appear and interrupt our Duel."
"Oh great. So now we got another loser targeting my company by hacking into my holographic systems and controlling the power," Kaiba grumbled. "That figures; I haven't been able to recover every lost bit of data or reset all of my firewalls ever since that fool Ziegfried hacked my database. That won't matter once I trace the glitch back to the owner."
"And how do you suppose that will work when there is no power in this building?" Yugi asked.
"Don't worry about that, Yugi. I have that part figured out." As Kaiba explained the plan, the lights in the Kaiba Dome suddenly turned on, allowing the electricity to flow back into the stadium. Kaiba cracked a smile, followed with a slight chuckle. "See, the Kaiba Dome has a backup generator, and it'll only activate when the main power generator experiences a blackout. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a smug little hacker to take down."
Kaiba pressed his company's "KC" logo on his jacket, which turned his collar radio on. "Mokuba, I need an assessment on the incident immediately."
The only response Kaiba received on his radio was static, a clear sign that the party on the other end couldn't hear him. Kaiba pressed his company logo again and spoke into his collar to see if his little brother could hear him. "Mokuba, do you read me?" he asked. "Mokuba, can you hear me? Mokuba!"
Kaiba heard nothing but static coming in from his radio, and he grunted as his anger began to boil and clenched his fists. Then, just as Kaiba's anger caused his fists to tremble, the jacket collar radio turned itself on, and a groggy, childlike voice came through the scratchy signal from the other side. "Se... eto?... Seto, com... I read you... nd clear. I repeat, I read you loud and clear."
"Mokuba, are you alright?" Kaiba asked.
"I sure am, big brother," Mokuba responded through the radio. "Are you alright, Seto?"
"I'm fine, Mokuba, but there's some business we need to take care of," Kaiba said. "First, I need an incident report filed right away. Run a background check on our computer systems and see if there were any viruses that were planted there, then trace it back to whoever programmed it. I won't let some loser hack my systems and let him get away with it."
"Sure thing, big bro."
The radio went silent as Kaiba released his jacket collar. He turned and walked towards the direction of the exit, catching Yugi's attention as he stepped down from the Dueling field. "Hold on, Kaiba. Where is it that you're going?" Yugi asked his rival.
Kaiba stopped walking and turned to the King of Games, his stoic, intimidating look cast from the corner of his eye. "What does it look like, Yugi? I'm going out and scouting the city," Kaiba answered. "It's obvious that whoever's attacked my systems is attacking my company on purpose. I intend to go out and teach that hacker a lesson or two about messing with me and my company."
"Hold on a minute, Kaiba..."
"Save it, Yugi. If you're worried about our Duel, then it's been closed to a draw." Kaiba turned and began walking out to the exit, his back flashed toward Yugi. "We should both be considered ourselves lucky that glitch ended our Duel when it did. My reputation as a Duelist would've been shot down the drain more than it already has."
Yugi watched as Kaiba disappeared through the entrance he first came in through, a disapproving frown shone towards Kaiba's bitter attitude. While Kaiba was conversing briefly with Yugi, Mokuba exited the control tower around the time and rushed past the Dueling field, wearing a headphone in his ear and holding an open laptop in his hands. He rushed to the exit as he caught up with his brother, disappearing from sight as well. "Wait up, Seto!"
The Kaiba Brothers finally departed the Duel stadium, leaving Yugi the only conscious person standing in the Kaiba Dome. Then a pained grumble caused Yugi to turn up to the balconies, where he saw Joey, Tea and Tristan struggle to get up from their unconscious slumps, using the barred rails as support to help them stand and regain their balance. Joey stumbled a little with his footing, but kept both of his feet planted firmly on the ground, holding the palm of his hand to his aching forehead.
"Aw man. Did anyone catch da number of da bus dat hit us?" Joey asked.
"I wish. I was too busy being knocked out to even read the license plates," Tristan remarked.
Tea pulled herself up with both hands gripping on the railing, turned around so her back touch the rails and slouched back, breathing deeply to recollect her oxygen. "So what was that light, guys? Did that seem like a glitch to you?"
"A glitch dat can knock da daylights out of us? Dat's no glitch, Tea, dat was somethin' else."
"Are you all alright?" Yugi shouted up, catching the surprised attention of Joey, Tristan and Tea.
"Yugi? How'd ya know we were up here?" Joey asked.
Yugi smirked. "Easy, I knew you couldn't let me Duel Kaiba without your support. So you snuck into the balconies where no one but me could ever find you hiding."
Joey snickered as he took his finger and rubbed it under his nose. "Well, I'm glad to hear dat my idea was a big success. Dat rich sleazeball didn't even know we were up here da whole time." Joey suddenly froze on the spot, realizing something very important that he almost slipped from his mind. "Speakin' of dat sleazeball, where is Kaiba anyway? I'd like a few choice words with him if standards let me do so."
"Easy, Joey," Tristan said. "Now isn't the best time to get worked up over Kaiba."
"'What? Me not get worked up over da stunt rich boy pulled back dere? Yeah, I don't think so."
"Focus, guys," Tea ordered before turning to Yugi. "So what do we do now, Yugi?"
"We'll have to look into this incident," Yugi answered Tea. "If that light was not created by a mere glitch in the system, then I have a feeling we are up against a power we have yet to understand."
"Well, whoever is behind dis power, you're not facing him alone, Yug!" Joey boasted proudly, pointing a thumb to himself. "If dey wanna take a piece outta you, den he'll have ta go through me!"
"Count me in," Tristan declared. "There's no way you're fighting this fight without emotional support."
"We'll be right behind you, all the way!" Tea finished, holding her curled fist up to her chest.
Yugi nodded, a smile cracked across his face. "Thanks guys."
Suddenly, from outside of the Kaiba Dome and reverberating from the exits, a surprised scream was heard. Yugi, Joey, Tristan and Tea all jumped at the sound, and they knew immediately who that scream belonged to. "Hey, guys. Was that Mokuba's scream we heard just now?" Tea asked, shivering.
"Yeah, and it sounds like he's in trouble," Tristan concurred.
"If that's true, then that means Kaiba is trouble too!" Yugi gasped. "Come on!"
"We'll meet ya outside, Yug!" Joey shouted as he and Tristan and Tea turned and ran for the exit.
Like fire on his heels, Yugi sprinted across the Dueling field and towards the exit that Kaiba and Mokuba exited, making better time than his three friends made trying to run around the Dome. When at last Yugi made his way out of the Kaiba Dome, he saw on the ground, the unconscious bodies of his rival's security and bodyguards sprawled all over the ground. There, standing before the descent of the hill where the Dome was built on was Kaiba and Mokuba, standing frozen with shock, awe and fear all mixed into one. Mokuba's laptop laid on the ground as it had been dropped from its owner's hold. Both of the brothers stared up into the sky, prompting Yugi to look into the sky himself.
His eyes widened and his breath became a gasp as he looked at what became of the sky.
The sky had became a rolling, sloshing mass of darkness, separated from the whole of Domino City by a light blue barrier stretching as far as the horizon could reach. The darkness was as viscous as thick, black oil, layered over a slightly lighter shade of darkness, layered over another lighter darkness, flashing crimson in the background like silent lightning. The only thing that hung in the sky was a red sun, shooting out orange flares as it gave out a glow that was equal to that of a sun from a doomed future.
It was only a short moment later that Joey, Tristan and Tea came around the Kaiba Dome and met with Yugi, Kaiba and Mokuba, all looking at them with curiosity and concern when they saw the shock on their faces. "'Ey, Yug, what's goin' on here? What's with da long face, huh? Whatcha all lookin' at anyway?"
Tea was the first to look at the sky and jumped back with fear, cowering with the same adrenaline-pumped terror. "Um, Joey? I think Yugi and Kaiba are both looking at..." Tea lifted a shaking arm, raising a pointing finger up in the same direction. "...that."
Joey and Tristan looked at Tea blankly, only blinking their eyes in unison a couple of times. Then, as the message processed into the minds of the two boys, Joey and Tristan turned their heads up to the sky before they screamed together and hugged each other out of instinct. "GAAAAAHHHHHH! WHAT HAPPENED TO DA SUN!?" Joey screamed.
"Forget the sun, man! What happened to the sky!?" Tristan shouted.
"The sky...! It's all gone!" Tea cried fearfully. "The sun's become a red giant! Something's happened!"
Kaiba was snapped from his shocked reverie, grunting as he switched into his trademark, arrogant and skeptical demeanor. "Oh please, the sky hasn't changed at all," he murmured. "If you ask me, this is all one giant holographic image our hacker friend designed to create panic in Domino City. Whoever hacked into my computer network must've needed my access codes to activate a number of my company's holographic projectors spread somewhere in the city."
Kaiba narrowed his eyes. "I am not going to let my technology to be abused for the sole purpose of creating widespread panic and chaos."
"Hey, Seto, the computer systems seem to be back online at full capacity," Mokuba informed his brother. "Should I run the background check on our systems like you asked me to?"
"Do it," Kaiba said. "If you find any foreign programming or planted viruses, trace them back to the hacker. Run a scan around the city for any unauthorized holographic projectors and see if we can get a fix on their location."
"Right," Mokuba nodded as he squatted down and picked up his laptop and set it in his lap. With a few quick, mad taps on the keyboard, Mokuba pulled up the security systems within the KaibaCorp computer system and commenced a security scan, running through the data for any viruses, unwanted programs or any tampering in the systems. Strangely enough, there was no evidence of such a phenomenon occurring in the KaibaCorp systems, other than the Kaiba Land's illuminating lights being the only source of light in blacked-out Domino City.
"That's weird," Mokuba said. "There's nothing wrong with the system."
"What did you say?" Kaiba asked.
"The security scans haven't picked up anything abnormal in the system before and after the light occurred. This is pretty messed up."
"Impossible! Have you checked the database for every known card in the Duel Monsters game?"
"Not yet, Seto, but the scans indicate there was nothing wrong with the system there as well. I'll go check and see what's come up." Mokuba minimized the screen to open up the card database. Then his eyes trailed to the top right of the screen and he gasped, his eyes widened with shock. "Seto! You need to take a look at this!"
"Did you find something?" Kaiba asked, peering into the screen with Yugi and his friends looking at him.
"Yeah, but you're not gonna like it!" Mokuba stated. "Someone's been messing around with the digital clocks in the system!"
"What!? Let me see!" Kaiba borrowed the laptop from Mokuba and looked to the top right of the computer screen where a black rectangle resided, specifically programmed to show the time in three pairs of red numbers, each pair separated by two colons. Each one of those numbers flickered random numbers at a breakneck speed, almost like the numbers struggled to find the right time. A feral growl emanated from Kaiba's clenched teeth. "This is impossible! Whoever's hacked into my systems must have a twisted mindset! If he's messed with my digital clocks, then surely he's also tampered with my card database!"
Mokuba quickly pulled up the window with the aforementioned card database, checking every inch of data for any abnormalities hidden within the system. "That's another thin, Seto! Nothing from card database has shown any signs of ever being tampered!"
"You're tellin', me!" Joey said, pointing his finger to his left. "Jes' look at dat clock dere! Dat's gone outta whack, too!"
Everyone turned to the direction of Joey's pointed finger, up to a public clock in the center of Kaiba Land. There, they watched as the hands of the clock spin and spiral out of control, trying so hard in vain to the correct time like the digital numbers on Mokuba's laptop. "Please, that clock is run by a series of underground cables that are controlled only by my systems," Kaiba grumbled. "Anyone can be smart enough to hack the clock as well."
"I don't know, Kaiba. It's not just the clocks that aren't working," Tristan said, holding his wristwatch and shaking it next to his ear. "Look, my watch is on the fritz and it's not even digital."
Tristan revealed his wristwatch to the group, and gasped with shock as they saw the hands of his watch spiral out of control as well. Kaiba only narrowed his eyes to an obscure conclusion running through the depths of his mind. "That tears it. Whoever's hacked my systems also has access to an electromagnetic field generator designed to wipe out our clocks and timepieces. It's as if someone is controlling time itself."
Yugi gasped. "Controlling time!? Oh no, it couldn't be-!"
"I don't know, Seto. This isn't like any sort of electromagnetic field if I ever saw one," Mokuba pointed out. "If there was such a field, my laptop would experience major interference. I have to admit, whoever can scramble our clocks without damaging our electronic equipment must be really smart."
"Don't go praising our hacker, Mokuba," Kaiba ordered. "The guy we're dealing with is a lonely loser who wants to make a name for himself by destroying mine. But mark my words, Mokuba, I willfind him and I intend to make him pay most dearly."
"So what do we do now, guys?" Tea asked.
"Well, isn't it obvious?" Joey asked, sporting a grin and holding his fist. "We go looking for da guy responsible, dat's what we're gonna do!"
"Right! If we find out who's responsible for this mess, then we can find him and give him a lesson that he'll never forget!" Tristan concurred, holding up a fist like Joey.
Kaiba humphed and said, "Good luck with that, dweebs" before he began to walk away from the group, his little brother trailing right beside him like usual. Yugi and his friends looked on with slight surprise as Kaiba and Mokuba walked away, but not before the former was stopped by a question from the King of Games himself.
"Kaiba, where are you going?"
The egotistical Duelist stopped, then turned his head to Yugi so he would see him through the corner of his right eye. "In case you haven't noticed already, Yugi, my company was hacked and the whole city just went through a blackout. Someone's been using my holographic technology to create a pandemonium in the city and he's letting me take the bad rap for him," Kaiba explained. "Where I'm going is out over the city so I can scout the situation from above and see if I can find any connection with this incident. It's a lot better than hanging out with you dweebs for another minute."
"Now hold on dere, rich boy!" Joey snapped before he was interrupted by Kaiba, who turned back and walked away once again.
"And in case you were wondering, Wheeler, you've deliberately disobeyed my orders to stay away from the Kaiba Dome while Yugi and I Dueled in private. As of right now, you're oficially banned from Kaiba Land and from any future Kaiba Land tournaments. That goes for your two other musketeers as well. Now if you'll excuse me..." Kaiba continued to walk away down the hill towards the direction of the building where his jet and hangar was hidden away from public. Before Kaiba could take another few steps, coming around and in front of him like a flash was a fuming Joey Wheeler, spreading his arms out to block Kaiba's way, which was just enough to make him stop walking.
Kaiba's eyes narrowed down on the third-rate Duelist. "What do you want now, Wheeler? Can't you see that I'm busy trying to solve this mystery on my own?"
"Can it, rich boy! I'm just about reaching my breakin' point with you!" Joey snapped, making Mokuba reel back a little with shock. "I don't get ya, Kaiba! First ya invite only Yugi and threaten me an' my friends would be banned from your crummy tournaments, den ya pull a fast one on Yugi fer bringin' out yer 'Blue-Eyes' durin' the Duel when clearly, ya said you wouldn't use it! If I didn't know any better, I'd say you stooped back down to da level of bein' da big, fat, stinkin' cheat we all first knew!"
"Be careful what you say, Wheeler, or things are going to get really nasty here," Kaiba threatened.
"Yeah, like things aren't ugly as dey already are," Joey remarked snidely. "Look, pal, I respect da fact dat you're a lone wolf, but dat doesn't mean you can pull stunts like dat just so you can come out on top like dat. If ya keep cuttin' corners like dat and think you're gonna get away with it, den no one's gonna Duel ya, even if ya offer dem da rarest cards in your briefcase. And trust me pal, dat's not gonna be good for your business."
"Spare me the talk, you Dueling monkey. I've heard this talk like a million times already," Kaiba replied.
"Dat's too bad, rich boy, because you've just heard it again. Listen, Kaiba, I know dis whole situation has gotten ya twisted around, but if ya want dis thing ta end before somethin' bad happens, den you'll need our help ta solve dis big mystery. I know deep down dat you want our help pal, 'cause if ya find yourself in a jam dat even you can't get out of, den yer gonna need someone ta help bail ya out."
Kaiba and Joey stared down at each other, like rival birds of prey arguing over their catch and pinning each other down with their fierce eyes. Mokuba, Tristan, Tea and Yugi all looked on in suspense as they waited for something climactic to happen. Yami Yugi was pulled back into the darkness of his mind, Yugi Muto appearing next to him in his shimmering, ethereal form. "Joey seems confident that he can break through to Kaiba," Yugi said. "But if we know Kaiba in terms of his egotism and his arrogance, then the chances of him helping us is about slim to none."
"Agreed," said Yami. "But remember, Kaiba has done much for us in the past, even if it was only in his best interest. I'm sure that the foe we're up against may prove more than enough for him to join our side."
"I hope you're right, Pharaoh, because we may need all the help we can get," said the ethereal Yugi. Then, with the flash of the Millennium Puzzle dangling down from the back his neck, Yugi Muto was brought into the material world while Yami remained in the shadows of the Egyptian relic.
The timing couldn't be any better. Just as Yugi was brought into the real world, Kaiba reached into his coat pocket, pulling out a white business card. With a flick of his wrist, he threw the card to Joey, who caught it with accurate precision and looked over the set of ten numbers on the backside. "That card contains the number of my mobile receiver. If you happen to find something important, you contact me as soon as you can. Now, out of my way."
Kaiba walked around Joey, keeping his intimidating demeanor intact while the "Dueling monkey" looked over the card carefully. Mokuba followed Kaiba, shouting out, "Wait up, Seto!" as he passed him by.
As the Kaiba brothers disappeared down the hill, Joey inspected the card on both sides, growing a skeptical look on his face as he read over the KaibaCorp logo, the company's name and the watermark on the top right of the front and the numbers on the back. "Well, dis card isn't much, but at least it's better than nothin'," Joey said, slipping the card in his pocket. "Now that dat's settled, where do we start lookin' for da guy?"
"I dunno," Tristan shrugged. "I mean, whoever's got the technology has to be hiding somewhere in Domino City, and the city's huge. I don't even know where we can start."
Tea looked up to the swirling darkness where the sky had been, a worried look on her face. She looked down to Yugi, a curious, pondering expression on his face with a curled knuckle underneath his bottom lip. "What do you think, Yugi? Do you have any idea where we can start looking?"
"I do have an idea, but it might be a little farfetched," Yugi replied. "I think we should start looking in the Domino City Plaza."
"Huh? How do ya figure that, Yug?" Joey asked.
"Let's just call it a hunch for now." Yugi turned back and began to run down the hill, leaving his friends behind momentarily. "Come on!"
Joey, Tristan and Tea all watched as Yugi began to run downhill, then they looked at each other with a puzzled look. They wondered how Yugi knew the Plaza was the first place where they could search for answers in the first place? They didn't know, but they knew Yugi knew something, and they couldn't be left behind for too long before they could have the chance to get the answers they needed. With a cacophony of "Wait up, Yugi!", "Wait for us, Yug!" and "Slow down a bit, will ya!?", Joey, Tristan and Tea followed Yugi to the place where the King of Games suspected would be the epicenter of the strange phenomena.
The Domino City Plaza, where he, Jaden and Yusei battled Paradox from destroying all of Duel Monsters by destroying Pegasus himself.
As Yugi ran down the hill and into Kaiba Land, he couldn't help but feel something different in the air, almost like there was something beckoning him to look to his right, into the horizon. Yugi stopped his running and looked over to his right where he saw the endless sea stretch out, visible from the mesa cliffs where Kaiba Land was built on. There, he saw a veil of translucent, color-changing lights, one that was similar to those of the Northern Lights. Past the veil was a city, much grander and bigger to the size that easily dwarfed Domino City by a landslide. Yugi squinted his eyes, and in doing so, he saw some towering overpasses built overhead the tall skyscrapers there, the structure having enough power and bulk to hold up some even bigger towers that stretched up into the blackened skies.
"Hey, Yugi, why'd ya stop?" Yugi looked to his side as Joey, Tristan and Tea managed to catch up with him, and turned his gaze back at the horizon as the three approached him.
"What's up, Yug? What're ya lookin' at dis time?" the blonde Duelist asked.
"That," Yugi said, pointing a finger towards the horizon where the veils of lights and the city filled most of the sea in the distance. Joey, Tristan and Tea turned to the sea and saw in the distance, the same city beyond the colored lights, gasping with surprise as a result. "Guys, I think there's something bigger going on here than we might already know. We need to get to the plaza and fast!"
"I don't it get, Yug! What do we need to go there for, anyway?" Joey asked.
"Well, remember the incident that happened at the tournament just before we dealt with Dartz?" Yugi asked.
"Yeah. What about it?" Tristan said. "You were practically there when it happened."
"True, but there was something else that went on around the time," informed the timid Yugi. "As soon as that tournament began, someone tried to make an attempt on Pegasus's life and wipe out Duel Monsters for good. Luckily, I was there to stop with the help of a couple of other Duelists and we got rid of him for good. But now..."
"Now what?" Joey questioned.
"Now I think I might need their help again. Come on!" Yugi turned and ran towards the exit of Kaiba Land and into the direction towards the Domino City Plaza, Joey, Tristan and Tea all trailing close behind. The King of Games hoped he could meet up with the two Duelists who transcended through time and fought alongside him once. This time, however, he feared this was a battle that not even the three of him could ever face alone.
It was around the same time that Kaiba and Mokuba took a right on one of the three forked paths that laid at the foot of the mesa, the middle one leading straight to Kaiba's theme park. The path on the left was a scenic path that led to the back of the mesa, giving whoever walked the path a clear and beautiful view of the big, blue sea. The path leading to the right was the same as the left path, but somewhere along the cliff walls was an automatic steel door, hidden behind a big rock with a secret switch that only Kaiba could access.
Mokuba stopped halfway when he noticed the strange Aurora Borealis separating the sea from what appeared to a silhouette of what appeared to be a city in the background. Mokuba couldn't help but note the structure and the designs of the city, and it gave him the idea that the buildings were definitely not part of Domino City. Whatever those buildings were, they certainly looked like something that was pulled out of the future.
"Hey, Seto. Do you see that?" the black-haired boy asked Kaiba, prompting him to stop and turn to the distance.
"I do, Mokuba," Kaiba replied, narrowing his eyes down into a scowl. "Looks like our hacker friend had a lot of time on his hands to come up with that."
"Yeah, but how did he do it?"
"That's what I intend to find out." Kaiba walked over to a misshapen hexagonal rock lying underneath a crevice of the cliff, reaching over to the side and pressing the camouflaged switch. Then a little rumble shook the ground with a small tremor, which happened to be the hidden underground railing to help move the stone out of the way, reveling the steel doors accessible by Kaiba and Kaiba only. The CEO went over to a control panel and looked into the retinal scanner, blinking red twice then scanning the azure circle that was Kaiba's iris.
"Retinal scan in progress," the female computerized voice said as the scanning red line moved up the eye. After the computer ran an analysis on Kaiba's eye, a green light flashed. "Retinal scan complete. Access granted. Welcome, Seto Kaiba."
The steel door opened and revealed a long, large tunnel plated with steel itself, and the Kaiba brothers began to march inside. Once inside, the door behind them closed, the upperhead lights flickering on to reveal the hallway, spanning about fifty-five feet up to another door. Once inside, Mokuba and Kaiba walked in a large room and saw as the lights came on, an aircraft jet resembling the "Blue-Eyes White Dragon" with added jet wings, tail, turbines and cockpit. The Blue-Eyes White Jet sat motionless on a round revolving switchyard with railings built onto them, where the Jet was perched and carefully inserted.
Mokuba ran to the nearest control tower that oversaw the whole room while Kaiba opened up the hatch and boarded the Blue-Eyes White Jet. When the soundproof hatch closed, Kaiba flipped the power switch, which in turn powered up the lights, screens and monitors inside the cockpit while the turbines began to turn and roar for life. On the miniature monitor near the steering controls, the screen flickered for a bit until a picture of Mokuba appeared, a serious look on his face. "What is it, Mokuba?"
"Listen, Seto, I've been thinking about this whole situation," Mokuba explained. "I know that whatever you saw may seem like one big holographic projection to you, and I know this is gonna sound crazy, but what if what we saw just now wasn't some big hologram?"
"What are you saying?" Kaiba grumbled with disbelief.
"Please, hear me out, Seto. We've dealt with every lunatic wearing a Millennium Item, faced off against Rare Hunters, survived a crazy virtual world and fought off Dartz and his goons that used the power of the Orichalcos. I can't describe what I'm feeling, but it's not a good gut feeling. Seto..." Mokuba wore a forlorn on a face as he looked slightly away from the screen before turning to face his brother. "Seto, what if what happened to the sky was real? What if the lights and that city we saw just now was all real? Think about it, we've dealt with this crazy stuff before, but there's something completely off with this whole situation. You've gotta admit, the entire atmosphere almost feels a bit empty."
"Don't be silly, Mokuba. This is obviously part of our hacker's trick to cause a wide panic when he installed his programming into my holographic systems," Kaiba said as he began to switch the engine on. "If that hacker thinks he's going to dupe everyone into thinking that KaibaCorp was responsible for whatever panic might come next, then I'm going to force him to feel the weight of my company right on his back."
"Just be careful, Seto," Mokuba warned. "We'll never know what might happen in this situation."
"Understood. I'll let you know what I'll find as soon as possible, Mokuba. Over and out." Kaiba turned the monitor off as he prepared to engage the thrusters on his jet, hearing his engines spew out gas, the one important component required to help the Blue-Eyes White Jet fly in the air at supersonic speed. The revolving switchyard turned until the front of the jet was facing the rails on the ground, leading to a secret hatch that opened especially for the aerial vehicle. Kaiba pressed the red button on the top of his steering handle for his right hand, and the fires roared from the back of the turbine was breathed out before the Blue-Eyes White Jet was launched out of the secret aircraft hangar and into the outside air.
Mokuba watched as his brother disappeared inside of his soaring jet, a worried look written on his face. He knew there was something seriously wrong at work here, but his brother wouldn't acknowledge it. Despite the many battles with mystic Atlantean powers and dark Egyptian magic, Seto would always be the Kaiba to remain in denial even if he was pushed back against the wall by the power of the Millennium Items.
While he glided the Blue-Eyes White Jet over the entire topside of Domino City, Kaiba pushed a few buttons on a nearby console and a radar appeared on the monitor, bleeping as the line spanning from the very center of the screen to the edge spun at a steady pace. Kaiba's eyes grumbled as there was no trace of a foreign system appeared on his screen. "Strange. My radar system can detect any stolen or misused holographic projectors somewhere in the city, but there's nothing coming up on radar. Whoever's behind this is most likely residing somewhere where it can easily jam my detection systems. I'll have to scour the city for more clues."
Kaiba steered his around and over the city, turning towards the direction of the veils of lights, though not over the sea but over the land itself. Kaiba couldn't help but look out the window of his cockpit and see the some of the people in the streets slowly regain consciousness as he flew on by. "Great. Having my company's computer network hacked may be one thing to worry about, but the fear and confusion those people will be overwhelmed with is another story. I have to find out who's behind this and fast, or else what's left of my company's reputation will be flushed down for good."
Pushing his steering handles forward, Kaiba guided his jet towards the city limits of Domino City, him keeping a hawk-eye view of the building tops and in the city back alleys down below. "I don't see anything happening besides the citizens waking up, and the radar hasn't picked up any foreign signals, and that worries me," Kaiba thought as another one crossed his mind, one that made him feel chagrined. "There's only one thing that I need to do before this madness begins. I need to investigate those lights and that city. This whole thing still seems bogus to me, but if this helps me get a lead on who's behind this, then I have no other choice."
Reluctantly, Kaiba steered the Blue-Eyes White Jet into the direction of the lights and soared past the city limits. There, in no more than five miles, Kaiba looked down and saw what appeared to be a highway, made up of swirling darkness with what appeared to be streaks of lines running up, down, sideways and into that darkness without being swallowed up, similar to data streaming across the web. The highways were modeled like any other highway, outlined by lights that slowly changed color, from red to orange, to yellow, to green, blue, indigo, violet and finally back to red. Kaiba hummed with suspicion, but not before he looked and saw he was headed for the Aurora Borealis-like lights.
Kaiba gasped lightly as the head of the Blue-Eyes White Jet flew straight into the veil, blinding the Power Duelist with bright flashes of white and bright colors that almost seemed to last for an eternity. Suddenly, without warning Kaiba felt his entire body subject to a trial of crushing agony while his jet began to shudder and tremble violently. The alert systems began to beep furiously and the control panels sparked with a major electrical surge, but with his iron will and strong resolve, Kaiba managed to keep the jet steady without taking any further damage.
The jet finally flew out of the veil of lights, which, almost instantly after Kaiba and his jet flew out of the veil, all pain and turbulence calmed down into stillness in a split second. Kaiba grunted as the pain suddenly left his body, and was left shocked, sweating and panting. "What just happened!? None of my holograms were designed to create air traffic difficulty! There has to be a trick hidden within those lights, and I need to know what!"
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
VORP! VORP! VORP! VORP!
Kaiba's eyes quickly met with the warning on the monitor, informing him of an imminent collision. His blue eyes then looked out of his cockpit, and in front of him was a skyscraper reaching about over one-hundred-and-thirty floors, the building being part of the "holographic city" he formally dismissed. With quick reflexes that would put a cat to shame, Kaiba quickly veered his jet off to the left where the bottom of his right wing scraped over the edge of the roof, causing further turbulence to the flying vehicle. Kaiba grunted once again as a part of his wing was damaged from the collision, a yellow outline of the jet appearing on the glowing red screen with the right wing blinking yellow where the damage took place. Once Kaiba was successfully free from the skyscraper, he steered around the tall building, leaving a few pieces of scrap metal and some concrete tops falling hundreds of feet to the ground.
Kaiba's first instinct was gripping his steering handles as hard his strength would allow him, up to he point where they shuddered beyond reason. His eyes went wide and his pupils shrunk, leaving him completely bewildered by what just happened. "No, how can this be!? That building wasn't built on this part of the land, so the sensors shouldn't have picked anything up. But when I did fly straight into that building, my sensors went all haywire and now my right wing is at twenty percent damage! What is going on here!?"
"Seto! Seto, can you hear me!?"
Kaiba gasped lightly when he heard his brother's voice bring him out of his shocked state. He turned to his monitor and saw Mokuba's concerned face appear on his screen. "Yeah, I can hear you, Mokuba."
Mokuba sighed a breath of relief. "Thank goodness! I lost communication with you for a minute there! What happened, Seto!?"
"I'm not sure myself, Mokuba," Kaiba answered. "I'll explain everything once I'm done scouting the entire area."
"Be careful, big bro. My comm link is open just in case you need something."
"Right. I'll keep that in mind. Over and out."
Kaiba switched the monitor off and back to the radar, still not picking up any foreign signals from the supposed abused holographic projectors. For a long moment, the Blue-Eyes White Jet glided aimlessly over this metropolitan city, taking in the sights of the buildings built on overpasses, multiple highways of different sizes and lengths stretching over the sea to an island settled far away from the mainland, and a monument shaped like a gold, diamond ring underneath a sapphire blue arch.
"This city is too big for me to search for my hacker friend," Kaiba thought. "Even if I do search every square inch of this area, there is no way I can find him. This city is supposed to be one giant, detailed, transparent hologram designed to be unreal images of any card played on my systems, yet when I flew straight towards that building, my collisions alarms went off and my jet ended up sustaining damages. Kaiba huffed. "If these are supposed to be solid holograms, then I'm the Queen of England. Creating life-like solid holograms would take my company at least one-hundred years to develop and perfect. It looks like my hacker friend had already figured out how to create solid imagery and how to expand it to the size of Manhattan. I'll get to the bottom of this, even if it takes me a year to figure out who's behind this and how he made this possible."
After a few minutes of searching fruitlessly, Kaiba steered the jet and flew over the city, the highway-crossed sea and the island. Kaiba couldn't help but notice a large crater in one part of the island, a large hole of darkness where it looked like something disastrous happened at that spot. In sharp contrast with the peaceful and futuristic designs of the city that surrounded it, the crater was a landmark of gloom and disaster, a symbol of a horrible moment of the past now but a distant memory. Kaiba scanned his eyes up ahead until his eyes were met by a familiar sight.
It was the same mysterious road he saw when he flew into the area over the city, the one made up of swirling darkness and running lights, leading through the earthbound Aurora Borealis in the sea, where the roads were connected and run like a highway, and the center was an overpass shaped like a cloverleaf. Kaiba narrowed his eyes before he pushed his Blue-Eyes Jet into the direction towards the Aurora, his thrusters blazing hot fire as it carried the jet into the lights. Just like before, Kaiba was stricken with a familiar soreness coursing through his body while his jet suffered the familiar turbulence causing it to tremble. After what seemed like an hour to Kaiba of striving through the lights which was actually one minute in real life, the jet emerged from the Aurora, leaving Kaiba panting from the sudden withdrawal of pain, the jet doing the same with the turbulence.
"I don't think I'll ever get used to that," Kaiba complained in his thoughts as he panted until he felt his breath come back to him in full. While he took his time to recover from the effects of traveling through the lights, Kaiba guided his jet over the highways that spanned over the sea, following them to whatever speck of land they happened to stretch out towards. He hoped that wherever the chaos was rooted from needed to be connected by the strange roads altogether. Before he even knew it, Kaiba spotted the land he searched for slowly pop out from over the horizon and proceeded towards it. Once the shape was made clearer, Kaiba was able to make out the island with vague detail.
That vague detail alone made Kaiba gasp once more with shock, his eyes widened by what he saw. "No, that's impossible! How was my hacker friend able to access my blueprints and designs for that building!? I haven't commissioned its construction yet until the end of next year!"
Kaiba looked down on the incoming volcano island, inhabited by a four-domed building, several stone obelisks jutting out from the ground and the smaller buildings that represented each dormitory and their student ranks. "Just who is this hacker, and how did he acquire my blueprints for my upcoming Duel Academy!?"
|Born with high functioning autism, Autismo555 has the power to draw cartoons and write stories.|