Magic had existed long before the Rifts. It had been largely shunned, considered less-than to practise. It hadn't even mattered what form of magic it had been, cyber or ancient.
Dartz had changed that. His small island nation had run on magic from the beginning, and their Orichalchos ore had become more and more valuable. When the larger nations had muscled in, Dartz snapped. Atlantis sunk into the Pacific, and in the wake of its disappearance, the Rifts had opened.
Abominations tore apart cities and desolated communities. Maximillion Pegasus had risen up against them, an ancient Duelist, and fought them back. Magicians across the world stood alongside him, and their efforts saw to the creation of Duelist Kingdom, the sovereign training grounds of future Duelists - the army that protected humanity from the darkness.
The Kingdom then went about establishing the order of Duelists, training the young ones how best to maximize their powers. It had been during this time the discovery of Duelist Pairs and Sets had been made.
Duelist Pairs were soulmates - they used a strain of cyber or ancient magic unique to them, and we're naturally synced with each other. Duelist Sets were two Pairs, one cyber, one ancient, that worked well in tandem and complimented one another's skill sets. While the Pairs were preordained, the Sets were not.
At least, that's what Isis preached in their history courses.
Seto didn't know how much of it was true, and it didn't really matter. There were monsters to fight and Duelists to put them down.
Portals opening above the city weren't exactly unheard of since Dartz, neither were monsters appearing on the street.
Joey wasn't exactly comforted by that knowledge, standing frozen in the path of a hulking black beast.
A voice that sounded suspiciously like Kaiba but brooked way less argument broke through his shock. "Get down!"
He did just that, managing to look up just in time to see a blue bolt of lightning tear through the monster's face, leaving a cratered hole where it's brain had once been. Someone landed on the street behind him, his saviour.
He was hauled to his feet in short order by Kaiba, wearing a blue-glowing headset, his usual black clothes laced with sharp blue lines. Instead of his white coat, he had . . . a crazy looking rifle.
"Are you stupid?" He demanded, fury etched in every line of his face. "Are you actually an idiot?"
"I- Uh- Yes?"
Kaiba scowled. "You know better than to go near those assholes. Honestly, you need a handler."
Kaiba sighed, relaxing. His expression smoothed out and the rifle disappeared in a flurry of blue light, only for that light to coalesce around Kaiba and become his usual white coat. That was also when he noticed the brunette was wearing metal shin plates along with his normal forearm bands.
"Just be more careful. Yugi would kill me if anything happened to you."
Kaiba looked him over once more, sighed again almost fondly, and began to walk away.
"What the hell, Kaiba?" He managed, regaining his voice.
Kaiba turned back to him, confused. "Kaiba?"
"There you are!"
They both looked up to find a man on the roof that looked remarkably like the Dark Magician, just without the stupid hat.
"Mahad!" Kaiba smiled - smiled! - up at him.
"I've been looking for you. C'mon, we've got to form up the Column. Monsters in the middle of the city and everyone's scattered."
Kaiba nodded, some form of seal appearing at his feet, then he launched himself into the air, landing next to Mahad, then disappearing across the rooftop.
"Weird-ass billionaires." Joey muttered.
"Guys, you'll never believe-"
"Then she just slammed into the ground and it disintegrated!" Duke exclaimed.
"I had something similar." Tea remarked. "A short brunette woman. She summoned a Duel Monster to fight for her. It was insane. She moved so fast, too."
"Mine looked like Kaiba."
They all turned to look at him.
"Mine looked like an Egyptian Yugi." Tristan remarked. "It was kind of surreal."
"What are they?" Serenity asked.
"I don't know." Yugi replied. "But we should find out."
"Where do you think we'd find them?" Duke asked.
"Probably where a monster attacks." Yugi answered pragmatically. "Since that seems to be their job."
The monster attacks only continued to escalate, but they appeared all across the city randomly. The only consistent feature was that they kept being put down swiftly, before much (or, in many cases, any) damage could occur. They knew what they were doing, certainly.
The first major attack, however, occurred in the city centre. A massive pillar of purple light broke into the sky, and answering, smaller beams shot out to it from every direction.
The gang was close by when the purple pillar appeared and rushed over, catching sight of a massive beast tearing through a strip mall. A small woman was zipping around it, purple-black hair flying around her in the wind she kicked up. She appeared to just be keeping it's attention until reinforcements arrived. Despite the purple glowing swords hovering around her, she wasn't attacking the creature.
"We're here!" A man announced, landing not far from the with the Mahad character Joey'd seen. He looked like Yami, with darker skin and an array of golden accessories. "Cast the barrier. Get Zane and Kiryu to help once they've arrived."
Mahad nodded, retreated to a nearby rooftop, and cast a golden ball that encompassed the centre, secluding the monster, but leaving room to fight.
The roar of dragons sounded overhead. They flew in together, one a dazzling white that glittered like stardust and the other spiked and black with red on its crests.
The Yami character sighed in relief. "Finally, Yusei and Jack are here."
The stardust dragon roared and shot off toward the monster, two small figures hopping off it as it passed over a building.
"She brought Jaden and Bastion as well. Perfect." Mahad nodded. "Get into position and we'll begin this battle in earnest."
"Understood. You can take point for our Set."
"Be safe, Atem."
Yami - Atem nodded, smiled, and took off across a collection of golden platforms toward the monster, once, unsheathing a blade that appeared to be made of polished sandstone.
"Column," Mahad said mildly, though his voice echoed through the streets, "formation tier seven. Containment."
Immediately, two beams of light, and one from Mahad, shot into the sky in a triangular pattern around the beast. Three walls of light - one indigo, one periwinkle and one white-gold - sprung to life.
"Go." Mahad commanded and the battle began in full.