|The Quest for More God Cards
Chapter 1 Find the Fire
It had been ten years since Seto had held the title "King of Games". Many stressful twists and turns had taken Mobuka and himself to places only dreamed of since he lost that title. All the money in his many accounts would never be enough to gain the kind of strange luck that followed Yugi Moto. All the probabilities he tested in countless dueling programmes on his state-of-the-art computers could just not beat the surprises Yugi might spring.
Seto would never admit that the four alumnists from Domino High school were his friends, even though his toughest rival had gotten him out many an impossible puzzle his own arrogance and bitterness had brought him into. Even his own brother had joined the little band. Mokuba had gained more than just respect from them. He was engaged to marry the bright light of the Yugi universe, Tea' Gardener.
At twenty-two, Mokuba knew exactly what he wanted, and did not hesitate to get it. His relationship had not cost him a single yen. Mokuba had become friends with Tea' not long after Seto lost his title. It was clear that their innocent friendship so long ago would grow into something more, even if Tea' was six years older than Mokuba.
Seto pondered the mysteries of the recent past that brought him to this place. The attempts of new strategies against decks old and new, he felt his faith in his ancient dragons waning. He had to duel Yugi at least one more time, officially or not. The Pharaoh had long since departed the young man's mind, but the good-natured Yugi was still just as strong. Strong enough to hold the title for ten years.
Yugi had taken on so many competitors in the last decade. Seto made his Battle City tournaments an annual event. The turn-outs were phenomenal, and grew with every year. They became more festive, more about the fun of the opening and closing ceremonies featuring popular entertainers and dazzling light shows, but the duelists were still just as serious as ever. Kaiba Corp's R & D department kept coming out with new expansion packs, and the combinations became more and more creative. Even some students from the Duel Academy came to Battle City to show off what they had learned, but still Yugi could not be beat.
It seemed it was always the same duelists that came out on top. Joey, some new kid named Jaden Yuki, Yugi, and himself, always in a very close second. Old school wasn't working, new school was just not worth the risk, and even ancient school still couldn't touch Yugi. Was it time to give up this obsession? He should enjoy what he had worked so hard to build and maintain. How many other men were self-made billionaires before age thirty? It seemed, for the time being, the Fates just wanted Yugi to have the title.
Seto was not a man to believe in fate. There had to be an angle he had not exploited. A mystery out there that the elite duelists of Domino City had not found. Shadow Lands, Atlantean nobles, ancient royals of Kemet, all locked into the origins of the Duel Monsters game. The origins became more and more ancient, and went deeper than any of them had ever imagined. Somehow, a new link would find its way to bind them together in this endless game.
He pushed away from his computer, and turned off the simulation game he was studying. Some air was what he needed. The neko clock on his office wall indicated it was about lunchtime anyway. He ran his fingers through his thick, long brown hair enough to brush it out, and bound it up in a simple ponytail, then pulled on his favourite white duster. The coat was showing its wear after eight years, but it had been with him through too many adventures to part with it. It was a survivor. The noodle house down the street had a quiet atmosphere with its garden cafe' tables, and was a good place to think. Simple, traditional and colourful, away from this sterile office of blues and greys.
It was vibrant and lively and smelled of fish, soy, and vegetables, a wonderful mouth- watering combination. The plain meals they served were hearty and could be savoured slowly. Seto slipped on a pair of angled black sunglasses and headed to the noodle house to find some temporary solace.
A kindly old woman was wiping down tables in the garden as he came in. She smiled warmly to Seto as he chose a table, and motioned to a waitress to bring him some bottled spring water. She came up to him once he settled in, and made a slight bow. "It's very nice to see you today, Mister Kaiba. We have a special on the shrimp and broccoli. Would you care for a flask of sake?" she asked.
"No, thank you, Mrs. Yamoto. Have to stay sharp at midday. Lots of work to do before the day is out. The shrimp special will be fine," replied Seto.
"On my way!" Mrs. Yamoto waddled off and yelled the order back to her husband. She then met with another old woman. The woman had exotic features. Brown weathered skin, indicating she loved the outdoors, brown-black hair streaked with white bound up in a chignon. She wore a black lace shawl over her black and white dress, and sensible old-woman-type shoes. Mrs. Yamoto motioned towards Seto and nodded. What were thesetwo old biddies up to?
The dark old woman came to his table. Seto's dark blue eyes met with her amber eyes and grew with curiosity and a bit of wariness. He was so deep in thought when he left his building, he neglected to bring a bodyguard. Any one of his many enemies in business or even games could send in a female assassin dressed as an old woman.
The old woman set a glass of yuzu juice down on the table before him, and a silent wave of relief passed over him as he realised he was not going to be shot. He had no heirs as of yet, but if he was taken out, all his holdings would go to Mokuba. As for today, he was not going to be leaving anything to anybody just yet.
"Senor Kaiba," the old woman said. "I am aware of your diligent research into Duel Monsters. I do believe I am in a position to help you out." This was not the first time an exotic woman had offered to help him in the matter of Duel Monsters. Ishizu had introduced him to the concept of Egyptian God Cards. Exactly what did this woman have that could help him. "May I sit?" she asked. Seto nodded and stood up to pull the chair out for her. For all his faults, he still tried to be a gentleman when it was called for.
"Gracias. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Senora Juana Aguila."
"How is it you can help me, Senora?" Seto asked.
"Of course all in the gaming world knows of your Egyptian God Cards by now. There are other cultures that have also been used in creating Duel Monster cards, but there are also some that have been overlooked."
"I am aware of that. Are you saying that there are more ancient cards? More like Slifer and Ra?"
"Perhaps even more powerful."
There was a gleam in Seto's eyes as the waitress set down the huge bowls of noodles with shrimp and broccoli. As good as the food smelled, it was not this simple sensation that was brightening up his day.
"More powerful than Obelisk, even?"
"Think on it, Senor. There are many cultures that have not been used in the game. Native nations of the Americas, Sub-Saharan Africa, and I could go on and on. I have looked into the connexions between these cultures and the Egyptians."
"Pyramids are one example."
"Yes, pyramids in Egypt, Mexico, Peru, even here in Japan and over in China. Other structures like the Indian mounds in the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys. Definitely some connexion. Ancient structures, used for vastly different purposes at very different times. You see, there are possibilities for many other kinds of God Cards to be found. With your resources, you can find them. All you need is a push in the right direction."
"And what direction is that, Senora?"
As Juana was about to answer, Seto heard all-too-familiar voices. His future sister-in-law came into the Yamoto Noodle House. Her little crew was here, minus Yugi and Mokuba. He braced himself for the teasing Joey Wheeler loved to do at his expense. The outspoken young man had not changed in the ten years since Seto had first met him. Tristan was only slightly more reserved, like that made any difference. He pushed his sunglasses up further on his face, and hoped they would be getting their lunch to go.
"Senor Kaiba, Go south. Find the fire near the bottom of the world. This will be your first crucial stop in your search."
Seto picked up his chopsticks and consumed his lunch in silence as he let the gears in his head work over Senora Juana's words. Bottom of the world? Fire? Back to the computers for some more research. It was clear to him that Juana came from a Spanish-speaking nation. So maybe he would have to check some geographical locations with Spanish names. Everyone knew that the Spanish word for fire was fuego. Maybe she meant he was supposed to start his search in Terra del Fuego. He would do a background check on Juana Aguila to learn more. If Terra del Fuego was his starting point, then maybe she had ties to Argentina. He would find out more within the hour. It was then that Joey noticed them, and the three of them came over.
"I didn't know you grandmother was in town, Kaiba. I would think you'd take her to somewhere classier than this," said Joey. Tea' and Tristan were surprised to see him here as well.
"This is not my grandmother, Wheeler! Senora, meet my...." He searched for a word that would sound polite, but not indicate that he was actaully beyond a dueling basis with these three. "...colleagues," said Seto.
"Hola," said Juana. "It's nice to see that you and your co-workers frequent the same places. It's good to form a bond with them. It's what keeps a business successful. My son-in-law has been running Ranchero de las Aguilas since my husband passed. He is very good with the gauchos."
"We aren't his co-workers, ma'am," said Tristan with a snicker.
"Senora Aguila is a new business contact, and it seems we must part ways for now," said Seto. He set the cash on the table for the food and drinks, and waved casually at Mrs. Yamoto. She nodded, and went on about her business. "Thank you for your information and company, Senora. I should be in contact soon, although your words are very cryptic."
"The world is full of mysteries, from pole to pole. I have just given you another one," said Senora Aguila. "You'll figure this out in no time. I've given you many clues already. Put that strategic mind to work with your software, and you'll find the answer in no time. I have faith in you. You would not have held on to your business for this long if people didn't. Adios, Senor Kaiba." Senora Aguila nodded to his "colleagues", then took her leave.
"What a sweet old lady," said Tea'.
"Yeah, Kaiba, what's she doing having lunch with you?" asked Joey. Seto answered with a glare, then headed back to his offices. Joey's smart remarks were the least on his mind at the time. Fire, near the bottom of the world, gauchos, ranchero. All these words pointed to Argentina, but maybe not to Terra del Fuego. If he recalled correctly, the ranches were on the place they called the Pampas. It was time to do some research on the lady herself. He would figure out what "find the fire" meant. If this was his key to getting back the title after a decade since Duelist Kingdom, it would be worth the time and effort.
After securing his place back in the office, he told his staff to cancel his appointments and to hold his calls. A new project was in the works, and he did not want to be disturbed. After some digging, he learned that Juana Aguila was the widow of the late Jose' Aguila. She had one daughter, Juanita, married to a Manuel Alvarez. Juanita and Manuel had four children. Pablo, Marco, Anita, and..... Fuego! He had found the fire near the bottom of the world. Next stop, Ranchero de las Aguilas!