Yuto screamed in pain as the debris heaped on him shifted ever so slightly, now pinning him from the middle of his chest on down. He could barely feel his legs, let alone move them, and any movements he could make resulted in searing pain. Even breathing hurt, the weight of the cement, metal and rock crushing down on his chest with a sickening crunching sound. All he could really move was his head and his shoulders.
Twisting his head he looked from side to side, to try and find any trace of his friends.
The last he’d seen of the teal-haired teen he’d been flung through the window of a nearby building by an Ancient Gear Golem. Yuto feared the worst when Shun didn’t reappear and would have gone to help, but he’d been trapped.
He shuddered and his vision blurred as he moved his head to the other side. Ruri lay a few feet away, where she’d fallen only a few minutes earlier after the explosion rocked the building, and she was moving even less than Yuto.
He closed his eyes, tears burning around the corners. How was this fair? His home, his friends, his family; all of it was gone in an instant, and for what? Because some, other dimension decided they wanted in, to take over?
One minute he was walking home from school with his friends, a perfectly ordinary and normal day, the next the city was burning as monsters made of very life-like Solid Vision, controlled by an army of duelists stormed through. It was hell on earth, and they were caught in the middle.
“Damn it, damn you Fusion bastards! It’s not fair, it’s not fair.”
The rubble shifted again and he screamed; from somewhere among the debris he felt something sharp plunge into his abdomen. He coughed and sputtered, an acrid, metallic taste filling his mouth. His arms fell to his sides weakly, his remaining strength slipping away in an instant, replaced by a heavy, tired feeling.
Yuto shuddered as his eyes closed, head rolling to the side as a chill crept through him, drawing out the last of his strength, and one more voice was silenced among the cacophonous roar of the invasion.
One duel, that was all it had taken, losing one duel in the Friendship Cup and he found himself in the Garbage Facility, working, his freedom a memory.
He’d tried to escape, once, but he’d been caught before he got far and the next day had his food withheld from him as punishment and his workload doubled. After that everything just went downhill.
He was told he could duel for his freedom; it was really the only way he could leave, so Yugo decided that would be his best option. Just win a duel and he could be out of that godless place. That didn't sound all that hard after all.
Delirious from hunger he stumbled, made bad plays and lost the duel in spectacular fashion.
As the days dragged on things got worst, they ran him ragged, increasing workload, or decreasing his food for any infraction, as was apparently the norm.
Yugo panted as he leaned against the wall, only just barely holding onto the bundle that leaned on his shoulder. His legs ached, protesting as he forced himself to continue onward. He just wanted to sit down, to rest, but he couldn’t, not yet, the shift wasn’t over yet, and sitting before he was allowed would only make things worse for him in the long run.
He took another, shaky step and his foot caught on a rock causing him to stumble and his face became acquainted with the ground in a painful fashion. The junk he’d been carrying flew everywhere as it slipped from his hands, not that his grip had been that stable in the first place.
Yugo was tired, beyond exhausted, and starving, reduced to a mere shadow of the person he once was. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had a decent meal.
The labourers were those who had lost in the Friendship Cup or were sent by the Facility, in short, disposable and replaceable, so it made no difference to them if he actually ate, let alone ate well.
He groaned as he tried to stand, there was only one thing that had been pushing him forwards, Rin, and the hope of getting out of there to see her again. As the days drew on though he began to feel those hopes slipping away.
Then he’d heard the news, from a worker that had been sent down from the facility. A group of Duel Runners had tried to stage a raid on the Garbage Facility. The raid ended in a massive chase with Security, the result of which was a disaster. The worker had no names, but it sounded like several people had died in a horrific collision. It was the description of one of the D-Wheels involved that sickened him, that was the reason he remained on the ground. It sounded uncomfortably like the one he and Rin had worked together on, had built from the ground up.
He closed his eyes in resignation as he collapsed again, if that were true then there was nothing waiting for him on the outside.
By the time another worker found him, collapsed in a heap behind a large rock, it was to late.
When he got up that morning, the last place Yuri expected to find himself was cornered by three members of Obelisk Force, two of which were on either side of him holding him down. He’d been forced to his knees and his arms pinned behind his back.
“What are you doing?” he growled, struggling against their iron-like grip. “This is insubordination you know. I’ll-“
“You’ll do nothing,” said the red-gemmed Obelisk Force member in font of him, tapping away on his duel disk. “We have our orders, from The Professor himself.”
Yuri stopped struggling for a moment, trying to free his arms. “What?” He had to have misheard; there was no way they were doing this under orders. He was one of the top duelists from that year’s class; there was no way he’d done something to earn this.
A cruel grin flashed across the uniform clad duelist’s face “Oh yes. He hasn’t been too impressed with your performance as of late. Said it was time for your termination. Seems deserting your post guarding the prisoner was the last straw. Because you weren’t there, she escaped and drowned.” He gave a nod to his companions, who pulled Yuri’s arms tighter behind his back. “So really, Yuri-sama,” he dragged out the title with a mocking tone. “We’re the ones in control here.”
Yuri clenched his jaw, what on earth did he mean guarding a prisoner, he’d never been ordered to do that.
Unnoticed, a lone figure ducked out of sight of the exchange, hand clamped over his mouth to keep quiet. This was not something he was meant to be seeing, but running now would only alert them to his presence.
“Now, about your termination.” He raised his left arm, pointing his duel disk towards Yuri. “It is to be effective, immediately.”
Yuri shivered and his stomach sank, that pose, he knew exactly what was coming and it scared him, actually honestly scared him. “You can’t,” he said quietly, arms relaxing in their grip. He couldn’t fight his way out even if he wanted to, the wall behind him and the soldiers surrounding him made sure of that.
Suddenly his arms were free and the two soldiers on either side of him stepped back. Yuri had just enough time to look between them, to register that nothing was holding him there anymore, before a brilliant, violet light enveloped him.
When the light died down the masked soldier strode forward, picking up the card that lay where Yuri had been kneeling only moments before.
Then, without the slightest it of hesitation or remorse, he tore it right down the middle, dividing it into two.
The hidden figure had to bite back a scream of horror at what he’d witnessed before taking off running, and he wouldn’t stop running till he was as far away as he could be, even if it meant going to another dimension.
The harsh, rhythmic beeping of a monitor filled the silent hospital room, accompanied by the soft rush of air from the nearby ventilator.
Yuya stirred slightly, eyes opening just a crack. Everything hurt, every inch of his form ached as if a building had fallen on him, which wasn’t too far from the truth. It hadn’t been an actual building but part of a bridge, a bridge created by Solid Vision for a duel. But it shouldn’t have been that real.
Yuya had been in plenty of Action Duels; he knew the texture, the feel and hardness of Solid Vision, the way it should have been. But the moment he’d been thrown into the wall of the bridge it was as if he’d been thrown into a real brick wall.
It had taken him several moments to stand again, but even then only just barely, the wind knocked right out of him and a stabbing pain in his back.
It was strange it would feel so real and life-like, so strange.
Voices tittered quietly and feet shuffled around the room before the door clicked shut and silence descended once more.
With what little strength he could muster, Yuya tilted his head to look in the direction of the only other bed in the room and the blurry pink shape in it.
It was a trap; a stupid, obvious tap and he’d walked right into it, dragging Yuzu and the kids in with him. Sawatari, he’d used the four of them as bait to keep Yuya in a duel with him, and it had worked. But he wasn’t working alone, several times Yuya heard him talking to someone on the other end of his Duel Disk. Someone who knew exactly what was going on and made no move to stop it.
‘Why?’ he thought, letting his eyes drift closed again. ‘Why didn’t you stop the duel?’
If hitting the wall hadn’t convinced him something was wrong, watching everything fall apart and being struck upside the head by a brick certainly did. Yuya was no stranger to hitting and being hit with Solid Vision in an Action Duel, it came with the territory. But it wasn’t meant to be that solid; it was solid enough that one could end up bruised, but generally no more than that. A brick shouldn’t have been as hard as a brick. If he hadn’t known better, he’d have said it was real.
Yuya wasn’t sure how much time had passed since the duel, how long he’d been there, but he had yet to see Yuzu move from where she lay, the soft beeping the only thing to tell him that she was even still alive.
Her screams, her terrified screams would be permanently etched into his ears, the last clear memory he had, only able to watch helplessly as she fell from so far up. The kids were safe, but he hadn’t been able to send a monster to save her in time.
He looked at the plain white ceiling through half open lids before letting his eyes slip closed, he felt so, so tired. Perhaps if he just slept for a bit, and gave in to the exhaustion that had been nagging at him every time he opened his eyes, perhaps he’d feel better then.
The rhythmic beeps continued for a few more moments, before devolving into a single, monotone beep. And shortly after it was joined by a second, unbroken beeping.