Mokuba didn’t always like being ignored. Most people paid far more attention to his brother than they did to him, finding a dragon tamer, the world’s finest duelist – Mokuba did not actually care who the official ‘King of Games’ was, he knew his brother’s skills – and one of the richest people in the entire world to be more interesting than his little brother.
Sometimes that annoyed him. It wasn’t as if he didn’t have his own skills and powers.
Right now, he was thoroughly enjoying it, because he got a front row seat to his brother verbally shredding an idiot who thought he could pull off the little scheme he’d put together.
Honestly, what kind of an idiot walks into big brother’s office and just tells him to hand over all of his dragon records, like they’re some kind of a burden to him?
Mokuba wished he had popcorn right now. But he’d been busy doing some small practicing with his own skills and that required a laptop more than it did a snack. His fingers continued to fly over the keyboard while he paid just enough attention to the man standing in front of his brother to get what information he needed.
Let’s see… His mind reached out to touch the international web. Noah? Are you there?
That was a ridiculous question. Noah was always there, because Noah had nowhere else to be. His attention might not necessarily be on what Mokuba wanted to know, but he would be there.
And he always kept an eye out for Mokuba’s calls anyway. Part o that made Mokuba a trifle nervous: they didn’t have the best history, after all. But today it could be useful.
Noah appeared in Mokuba’s mind in the flawless image of who he’d once been: heir to the Kaiba corporation and a young genius with the same gift Mokuba himself had: technopathy. Noah had it on an entirely different level now that he lived in the data world.
We’ve got a small issue, Mokuba said, quite glad that thought and data moved at such speeds. Seto would keep the idiot talking while he and Noah worked out what was going on and figured out how to put a stop to it.
In quick bursts Mokuba passed what they knew on: that this dimwit strolled up through the security features with a couple of small dragons at his heels – already offending Seto since he’d done so without asking so much as a breath of permission to bring strange dragons into his territory – and casually demanding that Seto turn over his dragon records.
It took Noah a few minutes to stop laughing. Once he did, he had a single question.
Does brother intend to throw him out a window?
Technically Noah wasn’t their brother. They didn’t share any blood with one another. But they’d been adopted by his father after Noah’s not-death and legally they were related.
Mokuba sort of suspected that a lack of siblings in his original life was what kept Noah calling them that now. He’d never asked. Some things he didn’t want confirmed.
I think he wants to. That was only a tiny fib. Mokuba knew his big brother very well and from the moment the interloper crossed into Domino City without clearing his dragons, and without being a proper dragon tamer, let alone trying to demand all the records of Seto’s dragons, he’d all but signed his own death warrant.
Not to mention that just being around him made Mokuba’s hackles rise. He wasn’t a dragon himself, but you couldn’t hang around them as much as he and his brother did and not pick up on a few things. Something was really off about this guy and Mokuba wanted him out of the city before anything actually happened.
He tilted his head, bringing his attention back to the somewhat conversation going on between the stranger and his brother.
“They’re nothing but dumb beasts, Kaiba-san, as I’m certain any dragon tamer would agree. Why else would they need to be tamed in the first place?” The stranger smiled a smile that he’d surely practiced a thousand times. Mokuba wanted to wipe it off of his face, and maybe wipe his mouth off his face while he was at it. “Someone with your skills and talents shouldn’t waste his time with brutes like that. I can take them off of your hands.”
“You’ve said the same thing four different ways already and my answer is the same as it was then: no.” Seto tapped one finger on his desk in a particular coded pattern. Mokuba knew what that meant: get security.
That took a grand total of three seconds, since he just had to send a silent text over to that department. Someone would be on the way within a minute: one rule of KaibaCorp was that there were always two security members ready to go up to the boss’s office, no matter what. They didn’t get assigned to anything else when that was their role on the roster.
Not that Seto or Mokuba especially needed the help to defend themselves. Seto had an army of dragons who would gladly eat anyone who annoyed him too much, and if he were feeling in the mood, he could always use a certain tool of his that Mokuba knew he didn’t especially like, but knew how to use. As for Mokuba himself… a technopath of his level had a lot more uses for the internet than just generic porn.
He glanced back to see the results of Noah’s quick search for information on their intruder. There wasn’t much interesting there; he’d come from a perfectly ordinary town, didn’t have any real powers of his own, but an apparent knack for discovering enchanted items. Mokuba thought that should probably count as an actual power, or at least a useful ability. He could’ve made a decent living off that alone.
Then something else caught his eye: the stranger had made a recent trip out of the country, and come back with a couple of items that he insisted were magical, even if no one else could detect anything in them.
The images of what he’d brought flashed up on the screen with little more than a thought turned that way. Mokuba stared at them, a slow scrape of fear creeping its way up his spine.
I don’t like it either. Those are old magic. Almost as old as the Millennium Items.
Mokuba wasn’t going to disagree with Noah. He didn’t know where the magic came from, but from the designs on those images, he could tell they were related to dragons somehow.
There hadn’t always been dragon tamers. Most histories pinpointed their development to somewhere in the last couple of centuries, as dragons began to be more integrated into human society. No one knew where dragons even came from, only that there were on occasion people born in the world who could become dragons. It didn’t come from one’s parents and it didn't always get passed down to one’s children.
There were also dragons who couldn’t become human but there weren’t many dragons who weren’t at least as intelligent as humans, whether or not they could speak in human tongues.
Part of Seto’s duties as a dragon tamer was to learn about dragons, to figure out a way for dragons to live peacefully with others. Sometimes this required knocking heads together. Seto was good at that part of his job.
Part of those duties also included protecting dragons from anyone who wanted to hurt them that the dragons couldn’t somehow manage for themselves. Seto was extremely good at that part of his job.
In the few seconds it took for all of that to warp through Mokuba’s mind, he could see the stranger getting angrier and angrier.
“If you won’t give me what I want, then I’ll just take it myself!”
Mokuba was already on his feet and Seto as well, reaching for something under his desk: the Millennium Rod. Mokuba knew that he didn’t use it except in extreme emergencies, but anything that he considered a threat to KaibaCorp qualified.
If the stranger had intended violence on either Seto or Mokuba, then there would’ve been no contest at all. Seto would’ve had the Rod out on time to stop him and much of what happened afterward wouldn’t have.
Only the stranger moved fast, faster than either of them judged, and a small blue sphere crashed down at his feet, filling the room with a thick, foul smoke that filled their throats and blinded their eyes, and Mokuba couldn’t stop coughing. Nor could Seto; Mokuba could hear him clearly, even through his own coughing.
There were other noises, such as feet moving around and something being thrown here and there, and then Mokuba couldn't keep himself on his feet anymore.
The last thing he found himself fully aware of was Noah’s voice in the back of his mind shouting something he couldn’t understand, and then a horrible pain racked through him, and he couldn’t see or hear anything at all.
It drifted into his mind that Mokuba was him and therefore someone was calling to him. He thought he blinked. He didn’t know for certain. He did know that he tried to wake up and he wasn’t doing a very good job of it.
He groaned somewhere in there. Now he could feel hands on his shoulders, shaking him, and he tried to blink again. This time he did it, and when his eyes opened, he could see a little.
Not much. There weren’t any lights on. That wasn’t right. The KaibaCorp building was designed so that even in a power outage, they had backup generators ready to kick in. There should’ve been something that would give light.
Only there wasn’t. At least not the lights that he expected. As his senses slowly put themselves back together, he realized that what he now saw by were candles, dozens of them set all over.
His big brother prepared for everything.
And now Seto sat near him, staring at him, far more worry than anyone else would see in those blue eyes of his.
“Mokuba?” There was quiet concern in his voice. Mokuba pushed himself up a little, his head spinning a bit still.
“I’m all right,” he tried to reassure Seto. He didn’t think that was absolutely true, but the less his brother had to worry about, the sooner they could get this sorted out. “What happened?”
“It was that idiot. I never did get his name.” Seto snarled the words out, his anger focused on that fool most of all. “I don’t know what that gas of his did other than knock us out, but he ransacked the place looking for my dragon records.”
Mokuba sat up a little more, wincing. He needed something to drink; his throat cracked and parched. No sooner had the thought crossed his mind than Seto set a bottled water in front of him. He drank it down while hearing the rest of what happened.
“He didn’t find them.” Seto flashed a smile that most of his dragon friends would’ve been very proud of.
Mokuba wasn't surprised. He knew all along where Seto’s records were kept and the stranger hadn’t had a chance of finding them.
He looked around again. This was far too dark for afternoon. He glanced back at Seto, whose thought processes seemed to have followed his own.
“That was a few hours ago. It’s almost midnight.” Seto’s eyes flashed with rage. “He did something to the power system and a few other things before he left, and I can’t figure out how to undo them yet. I don’t think it’s technopathic in nature, but I can’t get any of the lights on or the doors to open. I can’t even get in touch with security.”
Mokuba jerked his head around to where he’d been sitting. His laptop wasn’t where it had been, but he quickly caught sight of it: knocked onto the floor, battered and broken. He could get it repaired or replaced within a day, since it was KaibaCorp issue, but until he did that, or until he could connect to another system or they could get the building systems going again, he didn’t have a connection to anything.
That sent a strong chill of its own all through him. He hadn’t been disconnected for the last three years. Even if he wasn’t using the internet or the systems for anything at all – and he kind of always low-level monitored everything in KaibaCorp for any sort of problems – it was a part of him. This was almost like losing an arm or a leg.
I’ll get it back, though. This was worse than if the power had been knocked out in a storm. Not only did they have the back-ups if that happened, but in that case, he could’ve hooked himself easily into something else to help with repairs.
Now he just had to wait. Kaibas, by blood or by adoption, weren’t very good at waiting.
Seto stood up. “I’ve been trying to get in touch with any of my dragons, but nothing works. It’s like I can’t reach beyond the building itself.”
Mokuba considered that carefully. “Doesn't sound like anything I know of.” He hated not being able to find the instant information on what the situation was. How was he going to help his brother like this?
Seto stared at the black space that had replaced the windows. Normally they had a magnificent view of Domino City. Now Mokuba couldn’t even see the stars, let alone any of the city lights.
That wasn’t right at all. Even with the power out, they should’ve been able to see the stars.
He steadied himself on his feet, taking his time to get more assured of his balance before he headed over to the window. They did have bullet-proof glass there, and shields that could come down in case of certain other threats, but they didn’t look like this.
Like a curtain of nothingness hanging just beyond his touch.
He shuddered at the thought, turning as Seto came up behind him, staring at the emptiness outside as if personally offended by it.
He probably was. Nothing that could get the jump on him like this wouldn’t offend him.
“What about the phone lines?” They needed to try anything and everything they could to get through all of this. The idea of asking for help wasn’t one that came naturally to either of them but sometimes allowances had to be made.
Seto shook his head. “I tried already. They’re not working.”
Something about all of that started to click into place into Mokuba’s head. He stared back at the windows, trying to work it all into a pattern that made sense.
“So we don’t have power, we can’t communicate with the outside, and it almost looks like we’re not even in Domino City anymore,” Mokuba said, each tiny piece fitting into place.
Seto nodded, sharp eyes focused on his brother. Mokuba warmed at the thought that even without his usual connections, Seto counted on him to be useful, to help.
“I think he might’ve done some kind of space twisting.” Mokuba started to gesture towards the remains of his laptop. “Noah and I saw a little about him before that. He had two items he dug up from somewhere out of the country. One could control dragons. I didn’t check on the other one, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what did this.”
He waved all around at that. Seto folded his arms across his chest and stared thoughtfully at everything around them.
“How do we twist it back, then?”
Mokuba considered that carefully before he answered. “I haven’t the faintest idea.”
Mokuba wasn’t certain of how much time had passed. Anything even remotely electronic didn’t work in this place, no matter how much he tried to make it otherwise. There couldn’t have been a better method invented to stop him from doing anything at all and to annoy Seto to the ends of the earth and back again.
He still kept on trying, though, struggling to remember everything he’d ever heard about dimensional twists and pocket universes. It wasn’t nearly enough. He sort of hoped that there were people in Domino who could fix this and were doing their best to do it, but neither he nor Seto were the type to just sit around and wait for someone else to take care of a problem.
He wasn’t sure of what Seto was doing, but he trusted his brother to at least be thinking of potential escape plans. The way he sat with the Millennium Rod, his eyes closed, and as stiff as he could make himself, lent something to that theory. Mokuba had no idea of if the Rod could help at all, aside from being a fine way to skin the hide off the jerk who’d put them there.
That did sound like a pretty good way to spend some time later, though. He’d have to remember to suggest it to Seto.
After what had to be hours of prowling around looking for anything that could be useful, as well as scouring his brain for anything else at all, Mokuba had what he thought could be a small success.
He stared at the two small gemstone shards wedged into the door frame that should have led outside as if he were trying to determine their worth. He’d done that, actually, in the first few seconds. When it came to monetary value, he judged them probably not worth the trouble in the first place. He could tell magic had been embedded in them somehow, and they were probably connected to why they couldn't get out of here.
Spying a small piece of wood from what had been his desk – that had been crushed quite thoroughly and he suspected those dragons the intruder had with him of doing it – he picked it up and prodded toward them.
Toward them, not at them, because no sooner did the scrap of wood get within a finger’s width of them than he found himself hurled halfway across the room.
He wasn’t knocked out, not this time, but it took another few minutes before he could see clearly and sit up again. Seto abandoned whatever he was doing with the Rod to hover over him until then.
“I think I found something,” Mokuba murmured as soon as he could get the words put together in a coherent fashion. “I don’t know how to get through it, though.” Maybe if they had high explosives…
Clearly Seto needed to give more thought to what he kept hidden in his office if they didn’t have any.
Seto nodded, glancing over to the door, then looked back at him. “I’ve had a little luck. I’ve been trying to get in touch with Kisara.”
That didn’t surprise Mokuba in the slightest. There were many dragons that owed their allegiance to Seto in one form or another, but Kisara was the most powerful of them all. No one knew exactly where her lair was, or that much about her. She did occasionally work with Isis and her band of super-heroines, but that was about it. Sometimes she worked with Seto, too.
“Did you?” Mokuba started to hunt around for another bottle of water. They were going to miss dinner, and that would be very bad for a large number of reasons. Both of them had high energy needs, which meant lots of food at regular intervals. Going too long without would put them into far worse than a very bad mood.
“Not exactly.” Seto frowned, staring down at the Rod. While it normally conferred only the power to control minds, it could also link minds together, especially between a dragon and their chosen dragon tamer. It came in handy on more than one occasion, when Seto’s own abilities weren’t quite up to the task.
“What do you mean?”
“There was some kind of a barrier, and not entirely like this.” Seto gestured to what surrounded them. “It was like I could almost hear her, and then someone drowned me out.”
Mokuba stared down into his water bottle and decided that he very much disliked everything about this situation and everyone connected to it. Security was going to need an overhaul anyway, it seemed, if that guy got into KaibaCorp without being stopped or at least his little toys detected.
“I think what I found wasn’t what’s keeping us in here,” Mokuba said after a very long stretch of silence. He didn’t have his usual confidence in his words but he tried anyway. “It’s not what’s twisting us into this space, anyway.” He hated not having the words for what he wanted to say. “I think it’s just kind of… the lock on the door. If it wasn’t there, we could probably find a way to break the seal and get ourselves out of here.”
Seto nodded, eyes as thoughtful as Mokuba’s. “But that force field protects it. So if the field wasn’t there, we could destroy it, and get out.”
“Right.” Something put them into this not-space. The shards kept them there, locking the door. The force field prevented them from getting to the lock. Take out the force field and all the rest of it would go down.
Which left the very large problem of how to get rid of the force field.
Mokuba found what was left of the sofa, settled himself on it, and stared in irritation at the ceiling. He knew all the pieces but he didn’t know how to undo them all. He wasn’t doing good enough. He wasn’t helping his brother the way that he needed and wanted to.
He wanted to get angrier. But that wasn’t actually possible just then.
I’d probably blow up if that happened anyway. If it got Seto out of there, he’d do it without a moment of hesitation. But since that wasn’t an option, he had to sit there and think harder about something that he could do.
What made everything just a little worse wasn’t just that he couldn’t find the right thing to do. It was that Seto couldn’t either. He’d put his chair and desk back in order, as best that he could right now when they’d been half-destroyed, and sat there with the Rod in his hands, eyes closed, mind somewhere between this world and another, and not getting any closer to breaking through to Kisara than he had the first time.
Mokuba knew exactly how frustrated he was. Even without power, there had been times when he’d been able to communicate with Noah, if no one else. Since the first time they’d met, there’d been a link between the two of them that flowed almost as strong as between himself and Seto. There had even been times… well, that wouldn’t do any good right now.
But the point was that even without power, he’d been connected on some level. Now he wasn’t, and he couldn’t fully escape the worry that somehow or other, Noah wasn’t going to be there when they got back to their world.
The very idea of that sent even more chills through him, as if he didn’t possibly have enough from everything else.
He lifted his head to stare at the offending gem shards and their nearly invisible force field. What they needed was information of any kind on how to get rid of that thing, no matter how they got it. Books, the internet, someone who just knew about force fields and how to dispose of them, it didn’t matter. But here, sealed up in a room that seemed incredibly large when they could get outside and now vaguely reminded him of a cracker box, they had almost nothing.
Just each other, their own wits and information, and their own talents. With almost nothing to connect them to the outer world in a way that could get them anything else that they needed.
Mokuba liked a challenge, but he preferred one that they had some sort of chance of winning.
All right. We’re going to win this one even if we can’t They were Kaibas. Better than that, they were each other. The Kaiba money wasn’t going to help them out here. Only what they had would.
He racked his brain all over again. There had to be something that would offer a little help, somewhere in the dark recesses where he’d forgotten more than he could imagine right now.
His attention drifted over to Seto, who hadn’t moved from behind his chair for several minutes. That worried him more than he wanted to think about. How far was too far when it came to a dragon and their tamer and the bond between them.
What about all the other dragons that Seto had linked to over the years? Could they tell that anything was wrong? Could they do anything about it?
He circled about that thought for several minutes, trying to pin it down. Something felt very right about it and yet he still couldn’t put his finger on it.
What other dragons? He knew for a fact that Seto and Jounouchi hadn't ever properly bonded, though they’d skirted in that direction a little over the years. Jounouchi liked his freedom too much to try to make it official, though.
They’d have to take care of that. Mokuba recalled a mention that a low-level dragon tamer had tried that on Jounouchi once before, some guy named Hirutani, but that had been a long time ago. It didn’t make a difference right now, either. Just a mental tick on the list.