Chapter IV. Meanwhile Back at the "Ranch"

Mai was having trouble sleeping, as she usually did of lately. Her back ached, her chest felt tight, and she wanted no one to touch her. She scowled at her husband as he stirred in his sleep. His dark blonde hair fell over his face as he turned. "Must be dreaming of dueling. Seems we all do sometimes, don't we, Joey?" Mai tried to get back to sleep when she felt the reason for her misery stirring. The next generation of champions was growing inside her. Just as she was about to try to sleep again, the phone rang. It was Tea.

"Uhnn...?" said Mai as she answered the phone.

"Turn on IDN, Mai. Wake Joey! He has to see this."

Mai turned clicked the remote, and the TV across the room sprang to life. "Joey... wake up, hon..." Mai watched the report and saw Seto in what looked to be a club of some sort. Kaiba in a club? How weird is that? "Joey! Check this out!"

Joey sprung up, concerned for Mai in her condition. "What? You want ice cream? Bananas?"

"No, no.... just look."

The anchorman on the IDN News program read off his information, and even he seemed a bit surprised. "Kaiba Corp CEO Seto Kaiba made quite a stir in Buenos Aires this night, but not so much as the fiery lady who beat the world-famous dragon deck in two moves."

"What?!" said Mai and Joey together.

"How? Who?" asked Joey, as though the anchorman could hear him.

"What's he doing in South America?"

The news report went on. "Turns out the lady is Argentina's national dueling champion, Fuego Alvarez. The duel took place at La Ventana, a local tango house. Could this be the new face Duel Monsters? Is the game ready for this kind of change?" A picture of Fuego showed on the screen. She was dressed in the gear of a gaucha, the wide, calf-length black pants, black riding boots, a white shirt, a maroon vest, a maroon duster, and a wide brimmed hat. Her vivid hair was tied back in a ponytail. She was holding an
unusual type of Duel Disc. It looked like a red Spanish fan. She held up a Tyrant Dragon card between her "Peace" fingers, and had a big smile.

"Lucky Kaiba. I wouldn't mind losing to that," said Joey. Mai knocked him over the head with a pillow.

"How do you suppose she did it?" Mai's question was answered when she saw the replay from the cellphone cameras. The IDN techies had sharpened the images, and they saw the entire duel from start to finish. Mai shook her head and laughed. The happy sound excited her heavenly bundle, and he kicked hard as if to tell his mother to quiet down. He was trying to sleep!

"It looks like the little guy's curious, too." Joey looked over to her. "What did they say that woman's name was?"

"Fuego Alvarez."

"Alvarez..... heard that name a few days ago... That's it, the old lady at the noodle shop! Her name was Aguila but she mentioned a Manuel Alvarez. Mokuba said that Kaiba went into some intense research when he got back from lunch that day, then he took off. I wonder what the connection is."

"I think that old woman might be trying to marry her duelist granddaughter off."

"Yeah, right! To Kaiba? What woman would put up with him?" Mai nodded. Joey had a point.

"I guess that's it, but it's going to be interesting to see where this story goes. Let's get back to bed, babe."

"No, I think I want some ice cream." The baby kicked again. Daddy was going to get
him a treat!

* * *

"So you heard, then?" asked Mokuba when he met Tea that morning.

"Yes, as did everyone else who might have been watching last night. Wouldn't worry about it. It's not like he hasn't lost before. We all have at some time," said Tea as she poured the green tea. Mokuba blew off the steam and took a sip, then adjusted his sunglasses. He liked to face the east when they met for breakfast.

"It's not the losing that will put him it out, it's the two moves. Not even Yugi could do that. I wonder what kept this woman from ever coming to Battle City."

"Some people, unlike your brother and our little gang, do have a life outside of the games. I wonder if Yugi caught the report."

"I have a feeling he's having too much fun at that Duel Monsters convention in Las Vegas to bother with looking at IDN. I'll bet he and Duke are really living it up."

"Not if Rebecca Hawkins has anything to do with it. She'll keep that boy in line. Letting Duke Devlin loose on that town is a whole other story." Tea grasped some random pickle with her chopsticks, then pondered to think. "And he never told you why he was going to Argentina?"

"Something about God Cards, and something so old Latina woman said."

"So that's why she was at the Yamoto Noodle House!" Tea dropped her pickle and smiled. "Don't you see?"

"See what?"

"Juana Aguila was just the start of something amazing, humbling, dangerous, and possibly even deadly. If there are God Cards in South America, just think where else they could be. I have a feeling it will be quite awhile before we see Seto again. He's going to be a changed man when he gets home."

"It's about time..."

"About time for what?" asked Tristan. He slipped in beside Tea, and poured himself a cup of green tea. "For me to take Yugi's place in Vegas, I hope."

"Nice try," scoffed Tea. "We don't need to let you AND Duke both loose there. Besides, Yugi has other business there anyway."

"And I'll bet that tiny blonde has been eyeing every wedding chapel on the Strip, too"

Mokuba just shook his head, then sipped at his miso soup. The group was united by the game, but divided by life itself. The only thing that seemed to be holding them together right now was Seto's mysterious journey. Where was he going to turn up next?