|Chapter V. Getting the Facts
Pablo and Fuego sipped on espresso as they waited for Seto to meet with them in cafe at Bo Bo. There would be no rematch today. Nightclubs might be a good place for a duel with those big dance floors, but not a place as cheerful as Bo Bo with its bohemian meets bourgeois atmosphere. They conversed quietly as Seto approached the table. He looked rather surly, and his normally dark blue eyes were tinged with pink. It was rather easy for
those new to Buenos Aires to overindulge in some manner. Given his reputation for alertness and power struggles, both Pablo and Fuego found it hard to believe he had tied one on after the duel at La Ventana.
It turned out they were right. His bloodshot eyes were not a result of overindulgence,even though the Italo-Spanish diet that was the mainstay of Buenos Aires has been playing havoc with his Asian-fed body. He knew another day or two, and things would get back to normal. The duel stuck in his mind, Fuego's declaration of taking him down in two moves, it just seemed like a bad dream. Hence his bloody eyes and slight headache. He joined them at the table, and Fuego poured him an espresso. "You don't seem like the kind of man to raid a mini-bar," she said."
"It took some doing, but I fought the temptation. I went over that duel many times, and I just have to realise that my luck just wasn't with me yesterday, but dueling is not why I'm here. I was sent by Juana Aguila to find you." He looked directly at Fuego. "Although the party was fun, what little I experienced of it, I'm here for answers. What do you know about the missing God Cards. The non-Egyptian ones."
"So that's why you 'made me your mark'. You weren't even looking for a duel. How long had you been following us?"
"Since yesterday at the River Plate game, and it looks like I found a duel anyway. Just tell me what I need to know, dammit! Ow!" He put his hand to his forehead.
Fuego pulled a small bottle of pain relievers from her bag, placed them on the table, and slid them over to him. "Keep those. Telling you what you need to know is not all that easy, and it won't be enough. I'm sure you both went over theories about pyramids and artifacts, but you have to remember that not all pyramids are ancient, and not every step along the way is going to lead you directly to a God Card."
"I am aware of that."
"You will have to see my notes and maps at the ranchero. Not everything can be cross-referenced on your computers back in Battle City. There are more maps, more clues, diagrams, possibly more duels along the way to get them. You'll be dealing with things,normal earth-bound things, creatures, people and such that are just as dangerous and deadly as anything in the Shadow Lands. I can tell you there are others like me who will guide you along the way. You may want to lose your security detail. You've attracted enough attention already. Once you start this search, other duelists will be wanting to join the hunt. You have enough enemies out there already, and this would give them a perfect opportunity to take you down."
"And how do I know I can trust you?"
"Because Juana trusts you. Never underestimate the wisdom of old women, Senor Kaiba. She wants you to be back on top of the game again. I'm here to help you with that."
"Let me ask you something else."
Pablo just settled in with a media luna with dulce de leche, and listened in. Fuego's directness made her an equal with this powerful man, even is she was a simple gaucha with a fondness for strategy games and history. She had the one thing he craved, the path to the most powerful cards on the planet. Sparks tended to fly whenever she got into a project, and he expected no less on this one. Things were going to be very entertaining up at the ranchero for the next few days.
"You said there are others like you along the way. Is there some kind of network? Why aren't you searching for these cards on your own? Why aren't you going after them?"
"I'm a gaucha. Ranching is my family business. Even though Pablo is currently playing the hero, he'll come back to it. It's in the blood. For you, this game is in the blood. It's part of your blood, and you, of all people, have the resources to gain what belongs to you, even if it has been lost for.... How long has it been?"
Seto knew the answer, and he had a feeling that Fuego did as well. She was right, as she was in knowing she would take him down in two moves. He had a feeling that this woman who claimed to live simply and to love the game, but not live for it, was wise beyond her apparent thirty years. She had much in common with her grandmother.
"The time lost between then and now doesn't matter, but the time we are wasting here does. How far is your ranch?"
"It's south of Rosario, on the Rio Plata, about a 500 kilometre drive from here. I was going to drive home today, in fact."
"Give Pablo your keys. I'll give you a ride home."
"Fuego...." warned Pablo.
"It's fine, Pablo. This was going to happen sooner or later. We were just lucky that it was Senor Kaiba who found me first."
Seto then looked a bit concerned. "There are others?"
"Not many, but some names have been mentioned I was told to be wary of. You were mentioned, but not as a warning."
"Who are the others?"
"I'm not saying. We've deviated from this path long enough. I'll accept your lift home. We have much planning to do. I'll give Pablo my keys if you send your men home. They will just be in our way. This search doesn't concern them."
"Then we will head out as soon as we are done here."
Pablo and Fuego said their goodbyes, and Seto made arrangements to send his men home. They took their leave quickly, and the duelists left Bo Bo in silence, as if they had never been in Buenos Aires those past two days. No press was alerted, no one had a cellphone camera pointed towards the darkened car they left in as they went to a private airstrip. The bang from last night's duel has fizzled to a whisper, and it was what both of them preferred. The stakes had gone beyond a duel. Seto would find out just how far the search would take him when he reached Rosario.
* * *
Ranchero de la Aguilas was situated to the southeast of Rosario, between the towns of Chabas and Villa Mugueta on a creek with a name of no importance to someone like Seto, but to Fuego, that bit of moving water was what kept her family business running. She did appreciate that he brought her right down at the front door of her home, even if it was in his personal jet that had the likeness of his favourite monster, the Blue-Eyes White Dragon. The gauchos taken some time off during the heat of this spring day in October to play pato. It looked like a kind of polo but instead of knocking a small ball about the field with some long skinny clubs, they slung a large ball around in a basket that they would toss to each other and the other team would try to either catch it and make it to the goal, or intercept it and turn the game around. The gauchos stopped when they heard the plane coming in, and moved off to make room for the landing.
Fuego grabbed her bags from the plane, and did a little, "glad to be grounded" dance, then kissed the grass. She didn't appear to have a fear of flying, but then maybe she just didn't trust his skills as a pilot. An matronly woman of about 50+ years came out and greeted them, and hugged Fuego tightly. She then hugged Seto without warning. He was taken aback, since he was not a person who cared for close contact. Fuego smiled, shrugged and said, "Pablo maybe? Don't be cross, Madre loves everyone, just like Madre Juana."
"Juanita?" asked Seto.
"Si, si!" said Juanita Alvarez. "It's so nice to see Fuego bring her friends up her from the city."
"I'm not from Buenos Aires, senora."
"Even better. Come in, come in! Or maybe you would like to play pato with the boys out here, no?"
"No, not really. Fuego, what about the maps and---"
"No work until after lunch and a siesta. You look so thin and tired. Just what you need."
Not used to having such motherly attention, Seto was not sure how to respond, so he followed Fuego's lead. Fuego was trying hard to hold back a snicker, but it escaped, and so did she. Away from the clutches of her mother that Seto was now part of. He would get her for this! First a public beatdown, then this. He sure hoped the God Cards were worth all this trouble.