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Thread: Evidence of Shadows [CSI: Crime Scene Investigation / Yu-Gi-Oh!] (COMPLETE!)

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    Written Into A Corner... Cool Trainer
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    Default Evidence of Shadows [CSI: Crime Scene Investigation / Yu-Gi-Oh!] (COMPLETE!)

    Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! is the property of Kazuki Takahashi. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is the property of CBS Broadcasting. If I owned either one, I'd be rich, but every time I send letters asking for the copyrights, they come back covered with laugh-spittle.

    Author's Notes: This was not my first attempt at a crossover story - I'd done several others besides - but it was most certainly the first attempt I'd made to this particular brand of extreme. There are few television shows whose basic premises could be greater polar opposites than these, but I like a challenge... and I wrote it to impress a girl. While that girl is no longer in my life, this story has remained very popular in the meantime, and I still feel very good about having written it. Feel free to indulge yourself in the world of magic, murder, and mystery I've constructed... and let me know what you think!



    Evidence of Shadows

    by Matt Morwell




    The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds,

    and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth

    flowed sombre under an overcast sky – seemed to lead

    into the heart of an immense darkness.

    - Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness


    7:36 p.m.

    Ground Level Food Court, Luxor Hotel

    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Joey Wheeler, runner-up of the Duelist Kingdom Duel Monsters tournament and 4th place winner of the Battle City Duel Monsters tournament... who, against all odds, had given a young woman back the gift of her sight... who had faced Exodia and The Winged Dragon of Ra... who had faced off against two madmen and Armageddon alongside his best friend...

    ... was hungry.

    "Hey, it's $5.68," the vendor repeated.

    "What!" Joey exclaimed. "Dat's robbery!"

    "That's Las Vegas, sir," the vendor answered. "$5.68."

    Joey grumbled and dug into his pocket, pulled out a $10 bill, and shoved it toward the vendor. Unbelievable, he groused. That's completely outrageous. I could buy Duel Monsters cards for less than that.

    ...Maybe I should. My deck needs an overhaul.

    The vendor returned Joey's change, handed him a carton containing the chili dog he'd ordered, and yelled out, "Next!" Joey frowned at the vendor, then turned and looked at the line behind him – it was even longer than it had been when he'd first joined it. And a lot of the would-be customers standing in it were not looking any happier than he was.

    Boy, are they gonna be disappointed, he thought. Either that, or resigned to the fact that they were going to pay an astronomical amount of money just to buy a hot dog. I don't even need to go into the casino to waste money... all I have to do is buy food!

    He sighed, then made his way toward the arcade, trying to keep the chili from spilling off the dog. At least they put enough of it on there. They probably should've given me a spoon instead of a fork. And let's not even get into chopsticks...

    It didn't take him long to find the person he was looking for. Tristan Taylor was a man of almost frightening predictability in the games he enjoyed – anything dealing with guns. The gravitational pull such games had on him caused Joey both annoyance and amusement. Occasionally he would argue with Tristan about playing another kind of game, any other kind of game.

    But Tristan would inevitably come back at him with, "Not all of us can be Duel Monsters pros."

    Joey had yet to come up with a witty reply to that remark... and he had tried.

    The repartee notwithstanding, Joey discovered Tristan standing – surprise surprise – in front of the Time Crisis game, red gun in hand, blowing away one bad guy after another with deftness and precision. The blond approached and watched for several moments in silence... he'd always been fascinated by Tristan's laser-like focus on games such as these.

    Without even looking behind him, Tristan asked, "How is it?"


    "Your chili dog. That's what you got, right?"

    Joey scoffed. "Yeah... paid a fortune for it, though, so it better be good." He dug his fork into the hot dog, tore a chunk of it off – chili and all – and heaped the serving into his mouth. After chewing thoughtfully, he allowed, "Okay, maybe it's worth at least half as much as I paid... but I shouldn'a had to wait so long for it!"

    "You're gonna find lines in Vegas, no matter where you go. Especially to find food. It's pretty valuable, I think." Tristan blasted a pair of grenade-tossing baddies, then released the game's pedal, forcing his character to duck and reload. "Hey, you wanna join in after you're finished?"

    "Ehh, maybe." Joey grumbled under his breath.

    "Dude, stop grousing about the chili dog. You got it, didn't you?"

    "It's not just the food. I thought we were gonna get VIP treatment for dis trip. And what do we get instead? The shaft! Everywhere we turn, we gotta wait in line after line. My legs are killin' me!"

    Tristan rolled his eyes. "You gripe too much. Look at the perks we got – rooms with jacuzzis, for one. How can you not like those? Not to mention the round-trip tickets... paid in full. Personally, I'd've thought you'd be happy to have won the tournament in the first place, never mind the trip. We've been having fun here, right? I especially liked the roller coasters..."

    Joey groaned. "Speak for yourself."

    "Yeah, yeah, I remember. So tell me, how can you be eating a chili dog?"

    "Because I'm starvin' after dat last ride!"

    "I don't doubt it."

    "And anyway, I need something to keep my energy up. 'Specially after dat duel yesterday." Joey's brandy gaze darkened. "Who did dat jerk think he was, anyway?"

    "Dunno. It's pretty clear he's a spoiled brat. Casinos are full of 'em." Tristan picked off a ninja, but couldn't duck in time to avoid a throwing star – his character lost his last health point and the "Continue" countdown began. Tristan fed the machine another pair of coins. "Tch. What did you expect? That guy's the type that's used to always getting his way."

    With that statement, he finished off the level, then inserted two coins into the blue gun's coin slot and took up both weapons and screens simultaneously. Every shot he fired landed on an enemy, and every shot fired by enemies was deftly avoided by Tristan's expert manipulation of the "reload" pedals.

    Joey grunted, annoyed. "Show-off."

    "You won't be finished with that chili dog for a while, anyway, the way you're grumbling."

    The blond opened his mouth to argue – but then the realization of what Tristan had just said caught up with him.

    He ate the chili dog.


    9:42 p.m.

    Room 1205, Luxor Hotel

    "...I hate those elevators."

    "You've said that a dozen times. I think I get the point." Tristan frowned at his friend. "Why don't you just go get a good night's rest? You'll feel better tomorrow morning. Mr. Motou agreed to take us to Excalibur. That's something to look forward to, right?"

    "Yeah, I guess." Joey leaned against the door. "Hey. You think they have Duel Monsters tournaments in Vegas?"

    Tristan rolled his eyes as he sat on the bed and kicked his shoes off. "Joey, they have prostitution tournaments in Vegas. Surely Duel Monsters is around here somewhere. Just don't go looking for it in the Luxor and you'll keep out of trouble, all right?"

    "Yeah, yeah," Joey muttered. "I still don't like the guy."

    "None of us does. But at least he didn't kick us out, and Mr. Motou got the money. What more do you want?"

    "An apology, maybe."

    Tristan grabbed the TV remote and switched to a news channel. "Too much to hope for. Get over it and move on. Go have a duel with Yugi or something, it'll make you feel better. And then go get some sleep."

    Joey shook his head. "Nah, I don't feel like dueling right now. But sleeping sounds good. I'll at least drop by, see how they're doing."

    "Sounds like a plan. Now scram; we've got a big day tomorrow and I plan to go to sleep soon."

    "Right. Seeya tomorrow."

    Joey exited the room, then knocked on the next door down. He was greeted by a short boy with hair of at least three contrasting colors and innocent violet eyes. Yugi Motou, the two-time Duel Monsters world champion, grinned up at his visitor. "Hi, Joey. What brings you by?"

    "Oh, nothin' serious, just wanted to check and see how you two're doin'," Joey responded. "Was gonna go off to sleep soon, wanted to make sure things were cool."

    "Things are fine. We're about to go to bed, too. Grandpa's already in bed." Yugi grinned. "It doesn't take much to put him to sleep. The evening news will probably do it."

    Joey nodded. "Hey, how was the IMAX presentation?"

    Yugi blushed slightly. "It was fine. Téa had a good time, too."

    The taller boy smirked. "You know, you don't have to be embarrassed about it. It's obvious you like her. Why not just tell her so?"

    "Because Yugi prefers to show her so." A stout man wearing green overalls and a smile under his gray beard approached the door behind Yugi. "And taking her to that movie was a good way to do it. Sometimes words are overrated."

    Yugi smiled. "Sage advice... you might actually get somewhere with your own crush if you didn't talk as much."

    At that, Joey winced. He didn't like people poking fun at him for having a secret – well, not anymore, since he made the foolish mistake of telling Tristan – crush on Mai Valentine. True, the woman was incorrigible...

    But there were times she was just so cute.

    He shook his head, and with it the image, bringing his thoughts back under control. "Okay, okay, we've had our share of fun with dat. You guys are okay, so everything's cool. Let's all get some shuteye, huh?"

    "That sounds like an excellent idea, Joey," the older man agreed, and then he yawned and sauntered back into the room.

    "G'night, Joey," Yugi called after him.

    "Night, Yug."

    Joey removed the keycard from his jacket's inner pocket – he'd remembered Mr. Motou's warnings about pickpockets in Vegas – and slipped it through the electronic lock on Room 1207's door.

    When the door swung open, immediately he could feel the dense, hot moisture hanging in the room. He wrinkled his nose and waved his hand in front of his face. "Whew... who made this place a sauna?"

    He turned the lights on, then kicked off his shoes and hung up his jacket. He thought he could hear bubbling off to the left. He frowned. Did someone leave the jacuzzi running? I didn't turn it on this morning... He grimaced. Maid service better not have been doing anything fishy in here...

    He turned the corner, sought out the jacuzzi...

    And screamed.


    10:20 p.m.

    12th Floor, Luxor Hotel

    "You don't like the beard?"

    "It's not that I don't like it, it just seems to give you a more chubby look."


    "Never mind. Keep it, don't keep it, doesn't really make any difference."

    "If it doesn't make any difference, why bring it up?"

    "Random topic of conversation. Would you rather discuss dead bodies all day long?"


    Nick Stokes groaned at his companion's deadpan expression. "C'mon, Grissom, you're a coroner. You're into death 24/7. Let's talk about the mundane for once."

    Gil Grissom looked Nick over, as if sizing him up... and without so much as a hint of irony, he said, "I think you should get a haircut."

    The elevator door slid open. Grissom was the first one out, leaving Nick to decide whether to follow without another word, or keep after the topic. After a moment, he chose the former, as the elevator doors were about to close. As an afterthought, he put on his cap.

    The scene was already crawling with police and curious onlookers. Grissom grimaced inwardly – he absolutely hated it when well-meaning people contaminated his crime scenes. He touched the shoulder of the nearest officer and flashed his ID. "Gil Grissom, crime lab. I want these people moved out of here, and I need tape to block off this area two doors in each direction. Nick, help him out."

    Both Nick and the officer nodded and began routing people as appropriate. As the bodies cleared away, a brunette head stuck out the door and smiled at Grissom. "Good, backup. I'm running low on film."

    "What have you got?"

    "Come on in, the water's fine. Except for the dead guy in it, of course." Sara Sidle gestured Grissom into the room, then towards the right side. "Hotel security called it in after they heard the resident screaming his head off. They say he woke up half the floor."

    Nick entered and frowned. "Half the floor? It's not even midnight yet."

    "Well, half the people who were sleeping on it at the time, anyway. Take a look at our vic."

    Grissom and Nick moved further into the room. The body in question was lying face-down in the jacuzzi; the water was no longer boiling, but steam still hovered on the surface. Lying in it was a well-dressed gentleman who was wet from his suit-covered shoulders to his hairless head. Sara handed a bulky wallet to Nick.

    Nick opened it up and winced. "Ouch. Gordon Henstridge, manager and owner of the Luxor."

    Grissom frowned. "How did he end up in guest quarters?"

    "Nobody knows," Sara replied. "They don't keep records of who goes in and out of simple guest rooms and there aren't any security cameras in the hallway."

    "Perfect place for a murder," Grissom mused. "And casino managers can make juicy targets, especially for revenge."

    "But why?" Sara asked. "The kid who has this room isn't even gambling age."

    "Has be been ID'ed?"

    "Yeah. Joseph Wheeler, age 17."

    Grissom blinked. "Joey Wheeler? As in Duel Monsters?"

    Sara shrugged. "I guess. What's Duel Monsters?"

    "It's a trading card game," Nick answered. He chuckled. "Actually it's one of the most popular card games in the world."

    "Joey Wheeler is considered a world-class Duel Monsters duelist," Grissom added. "I've heard he has extraordinary luck when it comes to games, especially that one."

    "So how does that apply to our case?" Sara inquired.

    "Maybe Mr. Wheeler... was in a game of life and death." Grissom glanced from one companion to the other. "And Mr. Henstridge here paid the price."

    Nick groaned. "I hate Tuesdays."


    © Matt Morwell, 2011
    Last edited by mattbcl; 4th June 2011 at 06:40 AM.

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    Written Into A Corner... Cool Trainer
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    May 2011

    Default Evidence of Shadows

    Chapter 1
    Welcome to Sin City


    10:32 p.m.

    Room 1207, Luxor Hotel

    Las Vegas, Nevada

    "Somebody order new film?"

    Sara glanced up to the door and smiled grimly at Warrick Brown. "Over here."

    Warrick tossed a pair of camera film rolls to the attractive young brunette, then sighed at the sight of the body. "And here's the man of the evening. Gordon Henstridge, huh?"

    "Yeah, how the mighty have fallen, right?" Nick supplemented. He was searching the body with an alternate light lamp. "Dies in a kid's room, of all places..."

    "I don't suppose you have any idea how that happened," Warrick surmised.

    Sara shook her head. "None. But Brass is interviewing the kid." She stood up and took several angled photographs of the body. Nick and two officers had already assisted her a few minutes ago in scooping out buckets of hot water for evidence; now the jacuzzi was mostly drained. Soon they would take the body out of the room and down to headquarters for analysis.

    Warrick looked around. "Where's Grissom?"

    "He's interviewing the surrounding guests. Turns out Wheeler had friends in adjoining rooms."


    "Yeah, Joey Wheeler. The guest in this room."

    Warrick raised an eyebrow. "Joey Wheeler, the Duel Monsters pro?"

    Sara glanced at Nick, a disbelieving look on her face. "How is it everyone knows this kid's name?"

    Nick snickered, then explained for Warrick's benefit. "Grissom knew about him, too."

    "Well, Grissom knows everything." Warrick smirked. "Me, I hang out with kids, and Duel Monsters is a way for them to entertain themselves. Good alternate to joining gangs, I think."

    "Well, what makes him so special to them they find fit to mention him?" Sara grumbled, turning back to her task. "For that matter, what makes you think he's the same Joey Wheeler that plays this card game? 'Joey' and 'Wheeler' are both reasonably common names."

    Warrick shrugged. "Yeah, but how many kids named Joey Wheeler get a VIP guest room at a five-star hotel? Only the ones who can earn it. And the duelist Joey Wheeler is one of them. He's big-name. It's like NASCAR. People choose an idol and stick with him. I hear he's a risk-taker."

    "Risk-taker's another way of saying gambler. No wonder he wanted to come to Vegas." Sara craned her neck and blinked. "He's got an indented cut on the back of his head. Big welt, some bruising. Maybe he got hit with something?"

    Nick raised his head and his eyebrows. "There isn't much around here to hit him with. The lamp, maybe?"

    "Check it out."

    "Where do you want me?" Warrick asked.

    "Check for prints. Fingers, shoes, anything," said Nick. "There's bound to be something around here."

    "Right." Warrick took Nick's place on the jacuzzi tile.

    Nick approached the bedside table. "Who leaves their lamp unplugged?"

    Warrick and Sara looked up from their work. Nick held up the loose lamp cord for his co-workers to see. "Somebody pulled this out. Think it was Mr. Elite Duelist?"

    "Thinking is overrated," said Warrick. "Bag it up and bring it in." He looked at Sara. "Has David been through yet?"

    "Yeah, he was here. He had a bit of a hard time trying to estimate time of death, though, since half this guy's body was in scalding hot water. But I think he got a reasonable estimation, somewhere between 7 and 8 p.m."

    "Then I guess our card slinger had better have an alibi," said Nick.


    10:46 p.m.

    Las Vegas Crime Lab

    Jim Brass was a patient man. Not by nature; years of experience had taught him to calm his temper, even around the hardiest and most irritating of subjects.

    But the moment he'd seen this kid's photo and profile, complements of the Domino Police Force in Japan, he knew his patience would be stretched to the limit. Not because of any one particular thing. It was never one particular thing that irritated the crap out of him. Rap sheets – he could deal with them. Bad attitudes... well, he'd come across more than his share. Arrogance? He wished he had a nickel for every smug look ever cast him by a suspect later judged guilty.

    He walked into the interrogation room, trying not to clutch the portfolio as if it were the last strand of his sanity. The kid was already looking at him with a mixture of confusion and disgust. Brass stared right into the kid's brown eyes.

    The kid unwaveringly stared back.

    ...damn it, I can't tell.

    Brass had always prided himself on having a knack for telling whether someone was guilty of something or not. But this one had alternately experienced such trouble and such happiness that the light of innocence and the darkness of guilt had merged and formed a muddled gray.

    He was intimately familiar with malice, and unthinking contempt.

    He knew evil.

    But is he evil?

    "Joseph Wheeler." Brass tossed the now-useless file on the table; it slid across so far that it would have fallen into the boy's lap, had his hand not reflexively come up to stop it in its path. "Born in Brooklyn, New York. Lived there as a family of three for all of five years before moving to Domino, Japan, where your sister, Serenity, was born. Parents divorced six years later; your mother took your sister to live in the States while you stayed with your father. History of gang violence and bullying during earlier teen years, followed by a cleanup of your act and determination to become one of the best Duel Monsters players in the world – a goal that some claim you've achieved and others claim you never will."

    "Well, it looks like you've got the lowdown on me, detective," the boy drawled, his Brooklyn and Japanese accents contrasting against each other. "Except the name. It's Joey."

    "Oh, well, pardon me. Joey." Brass sat down, remorseless. "Captain Jim Brass, by the way. Mind telling me what happened?"

    "What's there to say? I went in, saw the man face-down in the tub, and ran squealin' like a girl out into the hall – which I'm not very proud of."

    "Why not?" Brass' eyes narrowed. "Squeamish? Or have you seen a dead body before?"

    "I play Duel Monsters and I watch a lot of television. I've seen worse things."

    Brass let the subject go for the moment. "Do you have any idea who the man is?"

    "I said he was face-down. I dunno about you, detective, but it's hard for me to recognize a man by his ass. An' even if he was face-up, I doubt if I've ever seen him."

    "I suppose you can't help us explain why he was in your room in the first place."

    "Sorry, I ain't the expert. Dat's what you guys are here for, isn't it?"

    "Yeah. It is." Brass folded his hands on the table and leaned forward. "Joey... the man who drowned was the owner and manager of the Luxor. His name was Gordon Henstridge." Joey's gaze darkened. "I see you've heard of him."

    "I dunno any Gordon Henstridge, no. I know a Simon Henstridge..."

    Brass nodded once. "Gordon's son. Tends to manage what his father doesn't keep an eye on."

    "He does a lousy job of it, too."

    "According to the Luxor's records, he's performed admirably."

    "Yeah, well, dat's the prize you get when your daddy runs the joint an' you go into the family business." Joey's eyes blazed furiously. "Dat man is nothin' but a two-bit hood who thinks he can score some points for himself by tryin' to associate with the Duel Monsters champion. You shoulda seen him the other day. He practically begged Yugi to duel him to settle a minor dispute over some money his gramps won."

    Brass frowned. "Duel?"

    "Dat's what you do in Duel Monsters. You duel."

    "And the dispute was settled?"

    "By none other than yours truly."

    Brass leaned back in his chair. "Well, it seems someone took a disliking to his father soon afterward. Gordon Henstridge's drowning was no accident."

    "What, an' you think I killed him?"

    Brass spread his hands wide. "I'm just exploring the possibilities right now, kid."

    "Well, explore this: I don't know who he is, and I got no reason for wantin' to do anythin' to him, never mind killin' him. An' the name's Joey."

    The homicide detective glared and leaned forward again. "Okay, then... Joey... you tell me. If you don't know Gordon Henstridge, how did he end up in your room, drowned in your jacuzzi?"

    "Do we have to go over this again?" Joey groaned, slumping back into his chair. "Look, there could be any number of people who would want him dead. I ain't one of them."

    "Oh, really. I suppose you have a list of suspects all lined up for me, right?"

    "Off the top of my head, anyone who works in the lobby of dat hotel with access to the keycards."

    "The lobby has video surveillance and all employees were closely monitored throughout the evening. Only two keycards were given, one to a Mr. Solomon Motou and one to you. You gonna tell me now that Mr. Motou is the killer?"

    Joey bristled, and looked very nearly ready to rise from his chair. Anger poured off him in waves. "Dat is even more ridiculous than accusin' me of killin' the guy! You wanna blame me, fine, blame me, but don't you dare blame him!"

    "Aw, I'm touched," Brass commented blandly. "So where do you suggest I go for a lead, hm?"

    "How about talkin' to everybody who's ever lost a bet at the Luxor? I bet you'd have more luck with them than with me. I hear casinos are a cutthroat business."

    "Uh-huh. But Henstridge didn't drown under the paperwork."

    Joey rolled his eyes, trying to keep his temper under control. "Look... you want me to start from the top, maybe give you a clue?"

    "Oh, by all means."


    3 Weeks Earlier

    Fountain Plaza

    Domino, Japan

    Joey perused his hand of cards for the fourth time, mentally groaning in frustration. I've got my favorite monster right here in my hand, and it could win the duel for me... and I can't use it!

    His opponent, a particularly cunning Archfiend duelist by the name of Brooke, had in fairly short order demolished the last of Joey's defenses with her impressive array of attackers, leaving him with only two spell/trap cards face-down, four cards in hand, and 400 Life Points.

    She, on the other hand, was keeping a healthy stock of 3100 Life Points, three monsters on her field – a Vilepawn Archfiend equipped with an attack-enhancing Malevolent Nuzzler (1200+700/200), Shadowknight Archfiend (2000/1600), and Terrorking Archfiend (2000/1500) – and a Pandemonium field spell card, allowing her to call any new Archfiend monsters in her deck to her hand in the event that Joey somehow destroyed her current monsters by any method other than battle.

    It was now Joey's turn... and he had already drawn.

    The only monster in my hand that's even playable right now is Tiger Axe, and there's no way he'd survive the next turn. I wouldn't, either! He took a deep breath. Okay, well... I guess it's now or never.

    "I play the spell card Pot of Greed!" he announced. "It allows me to draw two cards from my deck."

    "Not like you'll last that long anyway, no matter how many cards you draw," Brooke drawled, "but at least you've got the guts to go down fighting."

    That sounds like someone I know... Joey otherwise ignored the comment as he drew his next two cards. All right! This should do it! "First off, I summon Tiger Axe (1300/1100) in attack mode!"

    As the Beast-Warrior shimmered into being on the field, Brooke couldn't help but laugh. "Don't tell me, let me guess – you've cracked!"

    "Get over yourself," Joey calmly replied, "because I didn't say I was done. Next, I play the spell card Harpie's Feather Duster!"

    A sudden burst of wind, created by oscillating force fields from their duel disks' holoprojectors, washed over the field, blowing away not only the greenish smoke of her Pandemonium card that had surrounded them both, but also the equipment spell card attached to her Vilepawn Archfiend.

    Joey didn't bother to hide his grin at the play – the Feather Duster card had come from a special friend. And I'm gonna make sure she gets paid her dues.

    Brooke still didn't seem impressed. "Big deal, so you've weakened my Vilepawn Archfiend. But due to his effect, he's the only one on my field you can attack anyway, and your Tiger Axe's attack will be barely enough to make a dent in my Life Points. Next turn I'm gonna take you down."

    "No, you're not. Tiger Axe, attack her Vilepawn Archfiend!"

    Joey's monster, weak though it was in comparison to many other monsters in both their decks, did its master justice and struck down the hideous fiend on Brooke's field. Her Life Points dropped to an even 3000.

    She grunted. "Did you have a point to make?"


    "That sounds like a good question to me," Brass interjected.

    "I'm tellin' it like it is," Joey retorted.


    "Of course I do. Next, I play my Tribute Doll spell card, which lets me sacrifice a monster from my field to special summon a Level 7 monster from my hand – so I sacrifice my Tiger Axe to summon Red-Eyes Black Dragon (2400/2000) in attack mode!"

    Tiger Axe vanished in a blue haze, and that haze reformed itself into one of the rarer Dragon-Type monsters in existence. It spread its narrow wings and let out a terrifying screech.

    "Tribute Doll's drawback is dat the monster I summon can't attack on the same turn," Joey continued, "which is why I had Tiger Axe attack instead. But now I'm just gonna let your monsters do my work for me in finishing you off."

    She grimaced. He smirked. If Pandemonium's not in play, her Archfiend monsters cause her to lose Life Points because they're so overpowered. As long as I have the stronger monster, she can't do a thing but wait for the end. "I end my turn."

    As soon as Brooke drew, her Life Points sank by 1700 points – 900 for Shadowknight, 800 for Terrorking – but when she saw what she'd drawn, she seemed to regain her sadistic joy of trouncing her opponent. "I sacrifice Shadowknight Archfiend to summon Skull Archfiend of Lightning (2500/1200) in attack mode!"

    The flesh-filled skeleton fiend that appeared on the field made Joey do a double-take. "Dat monster looks just like Summoned Skull."

    "For all intents and purposes, it is Summoned Skull, but with an effect that causes any card effects you target it with to have a 50% chance of failure. Feel like playing the odds, Mr. Wheeler?"

    "Are you kiddin'? The odds are what I play best."

    "Then play your way out of this – Skull Archfiend of Lightning, attack Red-Eyes Black Dragon!"

    Joey smirked. "The odds are in my favor this time around. I activate my Skull Dice trap card!" A minuscule creature bearing a giant red die appeared in the air. "All of your Archfiend monsters have special abilities dat might cause effects I use against them to fail – if those effects specifically target one of your monsters. But Skull Dice targets all your monsters, and all I need is a two or higher for Red-Eyes to survive your attack!"

    At that, the little devil carrying the big die dropped its payload; the die rumbled across the ground and spun on a corner... then–

    "Looks like you've only scored a one," Brooke sneered. "My Archfiends lose a grand total of 100 attack and defense points – which means my Skull Archfiend will be destroyed, but so will your Red-Eyes, and then Terrorking can finish you off!"

    "And it's times like these it's useful to have dis little number." Joey activated his remaining face-down card. "Dice Re-Roll! It lets me cancel out one die roll and try it again. Let's go for a higher number than one, huh?"

    Again, the minuscule demon let loose the giant red cube. It clattered to the ground, across the field, and stopped to reveal...

    "A five!" Joey crowed, and before everyone's eyes, the attack and defense statistics of all of Brooke's monsters dropped by 500 points... including her attacking Skull Archfiend of Lightning. The streams of yellow electricity crackled harmlessly along Red-Eyes' shell-like exterior, and then the dragon loosed a furious counterattack, a glowing crimson orb of energy that shattered Brooke's best attacker and reduced her Life Points to 900.

    Brooke growled in anger, but there was little else she could do. "In that case, I switch my Terrorking Archfiend to defense mode and end my turn."

    Joey drew his next, and final, card. "I play the spell card Inferno Fire Blast! It lets my Red-Eyes deal direct damage to your Life Points this turn!"

    There was nothing more that needed to be said. Brooke had no method by which to stop the attack, and so she stood patiently as Red-Eyes summoned another burst of red flame to attack her with – thus reducing her Life Points to 0, and ending the final match of the tournament.

    "Omedetou, Wheelelh-san."

    Joey found himself shaking hands with the tournament coordinator, one Mr. Morimoto – a man that looked somewhat like Gozaburo Kaiba... except not quite so sadistic. And sans the bushy eyebrows. He had not exactly mispronounced Joey's last name, but there was no R sound in the Japanese language, and so this was customarily as close as they could come. He chose to take the accolades as they were meant to be taken.

    One hand was being shaken by Morimoto-san. The other hand was accepting a sizeable portfolio containing the winnings for the tournament his company had sponsored: a round-trip package for Joey and three others to Las Vegas, up to and including hotel reservations, first-class plane tickets, and prize money to spend wherever they wished.

    It was happy news that Joey brought to the Kame Game Shop that evening. He'd not told anyone that he was participating in the tournament – he didn't want anyone to know, in case he lost. Yugi hadn't applied to participate because of a desire to lie low in the dueling community for a while; everyone was still begging him to let them see the fabled Egyptian god cards, or duel him for the cards.

    Joey had played in the tournament in large part because he wanted to prove himself... both to himself and to others that he could be a winner. He could come out on top, if he tried hard enough, and didn't spend his dueling career in Yugi's shadow – or was it Yami's? Whichever. The point was, he had done it all by himself. He had been able to stand alone and duel his heart out, and he had won.

    For that, he'd won this fabulous trip. And he knew exactly who he wanted to share it with. It was Téa's greatest dream to someday be able to visit America, the land of her forebears – it was also Tristan's homeland, although he'd not set foot there in many years, due to his father's extended military duties in Japan.

    And how could he not invite Yugi? Yugi, who had befriended him and Tristan despite their initial unthinking animosity towards him... who had helped him through duel after agonizing duel, teaching him patience and faith in the Heart Of The Cards... was more deserving of sharing in that reward than anyone else Joey could think of.

    So it was with all the sincerity he could muster that he invited his best friends to join him in his adventure to Las Vegas, one of the most extravagant cities in the world. All three heartily accepted, assuring him that they would find some way of convincing their respective guardians to let them come along.

    His perfect world had nearly come crashing down around his ears when Mr. Motou informed Joey there was not a snowball's chance that Yugi would be coming along if there wasn't an adult to accompany them. Joey was mortified – he hadn't even thought to ask an adult. Surely his deadbeat father wasn't sufficient supervision, and a survey of Tristan's and Téa's families found that no one had the time and/or the money to come along.

    It was Mr. Motou himself who finally said that he might like to come along. Yugi asked with some surprise if that meant he'd be closing his store for the twelve days they'd be gone – he might lose a lot of business that way. Plus, the ticket for the plane would be at an astronomical price, as would accommodations matching those of the invitees. Mr. Motou had winked at everyone, his former mischief again in his eye for a moment, and said he would simply have to win it back via the casinos.

    Two and a half weeks later, on a Thursday morning, everyone piled their suitcases into Téa's father's minivan and left for Tokyo, where they departed on a plane from Narita International that evening. Crossing several time zones ended up bringing them to Las Vegas during the early afternoon in Pacific Standard. As soon as they disembarked, they noticed the slot machines standing in the terminal.

    Solomon Motou chuckled. "Lady and gentlemen... welcome to Sin City."


    "An' the rest is old news," Joey finished. "We came here, we went around, visited a few places, Gramps hit the casinos a few times, an' boom – dead guy in my boilin'-hot jacuzzi. I dunno any more than dat, so if you want more info, you're wastin' your time with me."

    "Maybe I am," Brass allowed. "But that doesn't mean I'm not gonna find out what happened. One way or another."


    © Matt Morwell, 2011
    Last edited by mattbcl; 28th May 2011 at 01:19 PM.

  3. #3
    Written Into A Corner... Cool Trainer
    Cool Trainer
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    May 2011

    Default Evidence of Shadows - Chapter 2: Luck of the Draw

    Chapter 2
    Luck of the Draw


    7:35 a.m.

    Las Vegas Crime Lab

    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Yugi rubbed his eyes tiredly. Neither he nor his grandfather had gotten a good night's rest last night – and how could they be expected to, with the knowledge that someone had died in Joey's room? It didn't help that they'd immediately brought him in for questioning.

    It was only through Yami's intervention that either of them was able to get any sleep at all. Yugi cupped the Millennium Puzzle in one hand, a sign of affection; if anyone could help them to calm down, if only slightly, it was Yami. Strange that a being such as him, from such a distant past, knew how to help allay the fears of modern men.

    Being modern probably isn't even a factor, Yugi thought. He was a Pharaoh. He had to know how to sympathize with those who sought his audience... it's the only way he would've been able to guide them.

    Indeed, you are correct, aibou.
    The spirit of the Pharaoh took metaphysical form next to him and Solomon. Only those who believed he existed would see or hear him.

    Yugi blushed. I'm sorry, Yami. I shouldn't be doubting you.

    No offense was meant. None is taken.

    "Where do you suppose Joey is?" Solomon wondered aloud. "Did they keep him here overnight, or give him another room at the hotel?"

    "If it were the latter," Yami dryly noted, "he would have contacted us immediately. Both to assure us he was alright, and to assure himself that we are alright."

    "Maybe they gave him a couch somewhere in the building," Yugi suggested. "I can't imagine they'd put him in jail. To do that, they have to charge him with killing that man... and Joey would never do that."

    "I know, Yugi, I know," Solomon said, sounding as tired as the boy felt. "But he's a roughneck, and they're probably going to ruffle his feathers first to gauge his character."

    Yami blinked, confused. "Joey doesn't have feathers..."

    For the first time since last night, Solomon and Yugi shared a smile.

    Grissom entered the cold room, consulting a portfolio of paperwork Warrick, Nick, and Sara had compiled over the course of the previous night. So far, they had shoeprints, fingerprints, some hair samples, a few fibers, and a lamp. I wonder what's for dessert.

    Dr. Al Robbins looked up from his work, his eyes like a hawk's gaze as he watched Grissom approach. Grissom had always liked the Doc – the man missed even less than Grissom, and as a result, was one of the most steely-eyed people in the building. Possibly in all of Las Vegas.

    Grissom glanced down at the body on the table, then back up at the Doc. "I trust you've been keeping our guest comfortable."

    "You know me, I'm a sucker for celebrities," Robbins deadpanned. "But it's probably a bit cold in here for him."

    "How's that?"

    "Mr. Henstridge here suffered from alopecia – an autoimmune disease that attacks the follicles and manifests usually during childhood. There are two types of alopecia: totalis, which affects hair of the scalp, and universalis..."

    "Which affects all hair."

    "Yes, and your victim had the latter."

    Grissom shrugged. "Well, then, that should make things easier. Whoever left hair at the scene is our guy. Cause of death?"

    "Drowning, as you probably already guessed," Robbins answered, "not that he didn't try to avoid it. There's considerable bruising on the back of his neck. Also, his left forearm has a spiral fracture."

    "Someone twisted his arm behind him and then held him under the water," Grissom interpreted.

    "Correct, but I don't think it started with his arm. He's got a small fracture on the back of his skull, and the wound is comparatively more bruised than his arm. He was struck by some sort of sharp, heavy object at a downward angle. I think someone walloped him with something from behind, and probably forced him over to the jacuzzi, then twisted his arm to hold him down."

    "David estimated time of death to be somewhere around 7:30."

    "It's hard to tell by body temperature. He was half-submerged in hot water. But most of his liver was intact, soI'd say that's accurate. Any luck with the room's guest?"

    "Brass pulled an entertaining tale out of him, but it's not going to help him any. I'm on my way to go talk to some of his friends. Get anything else you can get out of the vic."

    "Almost done with him. Oh, by the way, have you heard from Catherine?"

    Grissom shook his head. "Not since last Friday. She took her daughter on vacation to visit the Grand Canyon for a few days."

    Robbins raised an eyebrow. "I hope Lindsey brought her Game Boy."

    The slightest trace of a smile worked its way across Grissom's weathered features before he left the morgue. His next stop was the lab, where Nick was working diligently. The samples picked up by the team had been split up amongst the specialists, but Nick had picked up the possible assault weapon – the bedside lamp.

    Nick glanced up. "Hey, boss."

    Grissom didn't waste any time. "What've you got for me?"

    The younger man gestured at the lamp. "Looks like this was what your guy used. Alternate light scan showed blood on the bottom edge. My guess is he held the lamp upside-down like a club and took a big crack at the vic's head. No prints, though – which means we're still wide open for suspects. It could have been almost anyone."

    "Not anyone," Grissom corrected. "The Motous, for instance, are about 5' tall each. Henstridge is 5'9". The angle's all wrong."

    "Great. Now we just have to eliminate about forty-four hundred other guests of the Luxor."

    Yugi rubbed his eyes again. He couldn't help it. He desperately wanted to get some sleep, but at the same time, he didn't want a single wink until he found out Joey's fate.

    Keeping yourself awake won't help Joey, Yami gently admonished. You must get more sleep.

    I know,
    Yugi sighed. It's not my mind that wants me to stay awake... it's my heart.

    Calm yourself, Yugi. These people are professionals – they know better than anyone that the evidence never lies. And there can be no evidence against Joey because he did not commit the crime.

    The door opened, and through it walked a taller man with a brown beard and curly graying hair. At first glance, he almost reminded Yugi of his grandfather, except with glasses. Although the man offered the Motous a smile, Yugi could tell that his countenance was perpetually grim – likely a sign of his years of experience.

    "Solomon and Yugi Motou?" he said. "My name is Gil Grissom, I oversee the team that's working the case for Joey."

    "Is Joey okay?" Yugi blurted out. He mentally kicked himself for the outburst.

    "Joey's fine, we gave him a cot and had him stay overnight here," Grissom assured him. "He didn't exactly take kindly to us, but..."

    "Please forgive him," Solomon implored. "He doesn't like authority figures."

    "So I've heard. Don't worry about it, we've seen worse." Grissom sat down opposite the Motous. His eyes flashed across the Puzzle. "Nice necklace."

    "Oh. Thanks." Yugi cupped his hand to the Puzzle again, more protectively this time.

    "Mr. Grissom, is there any way my grandson might speak to Joey? They're best friends and do worry about each other," Solomon said.

    "Of course. I need to ask you both some questions first." Grissom tapped the portfolio he carried. "Joey's records show he's had his share of trouble. Gang violence, bullying..."

    "Nobody knows the bullying better than Yugi," said Solomon, "and Tristan can confirm the gang violence. But Joey has never killed anyone, nor has he ever been the type to even consider it."

    "Few people don't consider murder at some point or another, Mr. Motou," Grissom commented wryly.

    "Nevertheless, Joey is not a killer, and were I in your position, I would believe him when he tells me he is innocent."

    "No one's accused him of any wrongdoing."

    "He's still your prime suspect. You wouldn't have kept him here otherwise."

    Grissom pursed his lips. He's got me there. "Joey's alibi can't be confirmed. Unless you'd like to tell me that he was with you, or in some area where video surveillance might have caught him at the time of the murder."

    "I'm sorry, I have no idea where he was," Solomon responded. He turned to Yugi. "Do you?"

    "Well... his breath smelled of chili when he came to our room just before he found the body," Yugi said. "He might have gone to get food. Maybe he was in a food court?"

    "He did say he got a chili dog earlier last night," Grissom acknowledged. "But right now, we haven't found any conclusive evidence to indicate anyone was in the room except Joey and the victim."

    "Who was the victim, anyway?" Yugi inquired suddenly.

    "Oh. I thought somebody might have told you. The victim was Gordon Henstridge, the owner of the Luxor." Both Motous showed recognition of the name – their expressions became much more wary. Grissom tried to choose his next words with care. "Joey mentioned... an incident of some sort occurring Monday afternoon involving Henstridge's son."

    Both Motous scoffed, but Solomon was the first to speak. "'Incident' hardly describes it, Mr. Grissom. Would it help the investigation if we told you about it?"

    "I don't know," Grissom admitted. "Right now I'm grasping at straws."

    Yugi's expression displayed unexpected amusement at that statement. Grissom chose not to question it, but instead kept his gaze level on the businessman.

    "In that case, settle in," Solomon replied, "because for a complete account, you'll need both of us – this story may take a while."


    Two Days Earlier

    Ground Level Casino, Luxor Hotel

    "You sure you're gonna be fine, Mr. Motou?"

    Yugi's grandfather chuckled. "Trust me, Téa, I'll be perfectly fine. I need to earn back all that money, remember? Besides, it's not the first time I've gone into this casino."

    "No, but it's the first time we'll be leaving you in it for hours on end."

    Yugi's face contorted – as much as he wanted to go have fun with his friends, he didn't want to leave his grandpa by himself in the casino. It's a perfect place for him to suddenly develop epilepsy...

    Solomon saw the worry in his grandson's gaze and laid a hand on Yugi's shoulder. "Yugi, my boy, you have the heart of a saint. Trust me. I will be just fine, and if I'm not fine, I'm going to make sure someone comes along and lets you know. Is that fair?"

    Yugi nodded, then glanced around at the slot machines and card tables. He smiled half-heartedly at his grandfather. "Guess you'd better get to it, then."

    Solomon smiled. "Go on, get out of here and have some fun. That's why you're here."

    Yugi nodded again, then grinned at the others. "C'mon, let's go visit the arcade."

    "Awesome!" Tristan enthused. "They've got a Time Crisis game there."

    "I saw a DDR machine," Téa added.

    "I think I saw a Duel Monsters simulator in there, too," Joey noted. He scratched his head. "Then again... I dunno if I want to go in one of those..."

    Solomon's smile widened as he turned and headed for one of the blackjack tables. Ahh, to be young again...

    Fifteen minutes at the blackjack table made him $1500 U.S. richer than when he'd first set foot in this place, and he was already enjoying himself immensely. It's both a card game and a puzzle... you just have to decide which parts are going to fit at which time. Joey would be proud. He put $500 into play and smiled easily at the dealer – an attractive young thing who could hardly be much older than Téa. She dealt him two cards: a 2, and a Queen. And then she dealt herself a King.

    "Excuse me... sir?"

    And here we go, Solomon thought grumpily. He'd heard about the people who would come along and distract players from the game, to try and get them to lose money to the house just as quickly as they'd won it. He ignored the voice. "Hit."

    "Sir? I'm sorry to interrupt your game, but are you Solomon Motou?"

    The old man raised an eyebrow as the girl placed another card next to the Queen – a 4. He turned to meet the face of the man who'd spoken his name. The bald gentleman was wearing a smile and a suit that had to be worth twice as much as Solomon had already won.

    The elder Motou nodded his head once. "Yes, I am. And you are...?"

    "Simon Henstridge," the man answered, extending a hand. "I help manage the Luxor's various establishments."

    Solomon warily shook Henstridge's hand, noting that it wore a glove. "Well, Mr. Henstridge, I believe you have a fine business going on here, in just about every aspect of this hotel. Is there something I can do for you?"

    "Well, I think you've already done me a great service by providing feedback on our services. We always like to know how our customers are doing."

    "Sir? Hit or stay?"

    Solomon turned back to the game, inspected the table – Queen, 2, and 4. Sixteen total. Rulebook says to stick with it at fifteen or higher. He smirked. But then, Joey's not the only one who can play the odds. "Hit."

    He could feel Henstridge raising an eyebrow at the back of his head. "You're sure about that, Mr. Motou?"

    "Positive," Solomon answered, not turning around. "Hit."

    She put an Ace in front of him.

    Seventeen... He considered a moment further, then said, "Stay with that."

    "Dealer gets..." She drew and placed the card next to her King. "A six..." She drew another card and laid it down alongside the others. "Another King. Dealer busts."

    As Solomon was awarded $500 for his efforts, he turned and looked Henstridge in the eye. "If I had stayed with my sixteen, the dealer would have drawn a 20 and I would have lost five hundred dollars. Now, if you have something of some importance you'd like to say to me, I would suggest – politely, of course – that you do so and then move on."

    Henstridge didn't flinch, which came as no surprise to Solomon; he was quite certain the man had heard the same thing from countless other customers. "Actually, there is something I'd like to talk with you about. You see, I'm a Duel Monsters fanatic, and I consider your grandson–"

    Solomon held up his hand. "You can stop right there, Mr. Henstridge. Firstly, I will not grant you permission to shamelessly gawk at my grandson as though he is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Not now, not ever."

    "With all due respect, Mr. Motou, I think you're downplaying–"

    "I'm not finished speaking," Solomon snapped. "I said 'firstly', meaning I have more than one point to make, and you, sir, have nothing so important to say as to warrant interruption. Secondly, my grandson is here to enjoy himself... not to bask in the adulation of adoring fans mistaking him for this year's Japanese Idol. The undying attention he's been receiving back home is exactly one of the reasons he was so eager to come here – that attention is not wanted. It's not wanted at home, and it certainly isn't wanted here."

    "Mr. Motou, I only–"

    "I am still not finished. Thirdly, I am deeply offended on Yugi's behalf that you would even consider trying to use our relationship to get to him. You'll curry no favor with either him or me for that kind of behavior, Mr. Henstridge, none at all. Yugi and I are nothing more than guests who wish to entertain ourselves during our stay. Now, either leave me alone, or stand aside so I can take my business elsewhere."

    The younger man's mouth worked open, closed, open again – Solomon briefly wondered if the man was attempting to imitate a goldfish – then turned around and disappeared in the throngs of people foolishly feeding coins to the slot machines.

    Solomon harrumphed and turned back to the table to collect his winnings. He departed the stand and sought out a poker table instead. "Serves him right," he muttered. He had hoped he wouldn't have to make that speech to anyone here, but now he realized that had been too much to ask for.

    Yugi was famous. There was no denying that. And at first, Solomon had wanted to share in that fame, show his grandson off to everyone who would come to see him – take pride that his own flesh and blood was so well-known.

    Until one morning, he was sweeping in front of his store and saw a cadre of children jeering at and threatening Yugi. Saw the disheartened look on his grandson's face as he trudged to school, people of all ages needling him the entire way up the street. The only thing that had saved him from bodily harm was the timely arrival of Joey and Tristan, who stared down the crowd and sheltered Yugi from their wrath.

    It was that morning Solomon realized just how difficult it had all been on his grandson. Yugi was his flesh and blood, yes – and that meant Solomon had an obligation to him. To Yugi. Not to his fame, his prestige. If the boy wanted to be left alone, he should be able to have that wish granted, should he not?

    That night, he and Yugi – and Yami – had a long talk. They discussed what he wanted, with regards to his fame. Did he want to just stay home from school for a while? Did he want Grandpa to call the school and discuss the issue with his teachers? Did he want people seeing him? Did he just want to be left alone?

    That last one sounded fantastically simple to everyone... and absolutely wonderful to Yugi, who had nearly cracked under the pressure his fans, his enemies, and even his unknowing grandfather had put him under. Simple though it was, easy it was not – but Solomon revived the fighting spirit that had so gifted his legacy, and made things right for the boy.

    After all... how could he have done anything else?

    Most of the afternoon was spent on thoughts such as these in the back of his mind, though he continued to play the various games of the casino. He even dropped a coin or two into a slot machine – with no success, of course, but he didn't expect any. He just felt like getting rid of loose change. He was quick to note the irony, though, when the person sitting next to him suddenly cheered as the device he had so diligently been feeding started regurgitating coins at an alarming rate into a bucket. He avoided the craps tables; evidently the dice weren't being kind to the players today. He got into a poker game or two, won one game with a fairly decent hand, and then returned to blackjack. It was simpler than most other card games here, and Solomon was all about cards.

    Soon enough, he found himself with winnings of $4000 – a sizeable amount, no matter what currency it would eventually be exchanged for. He had lost a few games here and there, but the energy hadn't been right, and the Heart Of The Cards had let him know in time to keep from losing a noteworthy amount.

    And things are feeling good again, he thought excitedly. He put $1500 worth of chips into play, and silently rejoiced when he was awarded a 10 and an Ace for his effort. The dealer drew a 4.

    "Keep it right there!" he pronounced happily.

    The dealer drew: 3, 5, Jack. "Twenty-two, dealer busts."

    Solomon laughed aloud – and then abruptly stopped when he saw the shadows spreading across the table. He turned around, looked up... and up.

    Two burly men wearing sunglasses towered over him. Neither one looked pleased... and indeed, if Solomon was correct, their job was not liable to make them happy, as they likely endured all manner of insults and curses–

    "Sir, please take your money and come with us," the one on the right said.

    Solomon had difficulty piecing together what the man had just said because it sounded like he was mumbling with his jaw wired shut. He didn't imagine that was a good sign.

    Then the man placed a beefy hand on Solomon's shoulder.

    The old man gulped. No, this was definitely not a good sign.


    © Matt Morwell, 2011

  4. #4
    Written Into A Corner... Cool Trainer
    Cool Trainer
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    May 2011

    Default Evidence of Shadows: Chapter 3 - Counting on the Cards

    Chapter 3
    Counting on the Cards


    7:42 a.m.

    Las Vegas Crime Lab

    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Grissom leaned back in his chair. "That's a complaint we hear occasionally," he said. "Casino security abuse, I'm afraid, is rather common in this city."

    "Well, I certainly didn't think it would happen to me," Solomon huffed. "All I was doing was winning money."

    "Which casinos hate," Grissom responded smoothly. "They'll kick people out if they think their customers are winning too much money. The house doesn't like to lose."

    "I don't believe that was the real reason I was taken into the back."

    Grissom raised an eyebrow. "What happened?"

    Solomon looked to Yugi, who shrugged. "I guess that's where I come in. I was with Joey in the arcade..."


    Two Days Earlier

    Ground Level Arcade, Luxor Hotel

    Atop his perch on the red dueling pedestal of the elevated holographic platform, Joey drew his next card and grinned. On his field were Swordsman of Landstar (500/1200) in defense mode and The Fiend Megacyber (2200/1200) in attack mode, whereas Yugi's field carried a defending Queen's Knight (1500/1600) and Gamma the Magnet Warrior (1500/1800). Joey's Life Points were only at 500, as opposed to Yugi's 2300 – but he'd just pulled what quite possibly was the play of the game.

    "Check this out, bud," he declared. "I play Polymerization, to fuse together the Baby Dragon and Alligator's Sword monsters in my hand..."

    On the field, the two monsters Joey was fusing manifested next to each other. Their forms began warping and twisting around each other, and what re-emerged from the fusion was the sight of Alligator's Sword astride a more powerful-looking version of Baby Dragon.

    " now you can say hello to my Alligator's Sword Dragon (1700/1500)!"

    Onlookers stared up at the two duelists in awe. Joey could hear the accolades being poured on both him and Yugi – "Wow, look at them duel!" "I wish I could play at their level!" "I wonder if I can get cards like those?"

    "Next, I sacrifice my Swordsman of Landstar to summon The Legendary Fisherman (1850/1600) in attack mode!"

    The monster card that Joey had won from Mako Tsunami in the Battle City tournament manifested next to his Alligator's Sword Dragon – it was a powerful-looking warrior astride a great shark, a spear his weapon of choice.

    "Finally, I place one card face-down, and have my Fiend Megacyber attack your Queen's Knight!"

    Fiend Megacyber's attack power was much stronger than Queen's Knight's defense, and they both knew it. A single well-placed punch was all it took for Queen's Knight to shatter and vanish.

    "Next, Legendary Fisherman, attack Gamma the Magnet Warrior!"

    All the warrior had to do was hurl his spear across the distance – a rope attached to its bottom end was his method of retrieving it without having to leave his perch on the hovering shark. Gamma exploded on the spot.

    "An' finally, Alligator's Sword Dragon, attack Yugi's Life Points directly!"

    A bolt of energy lanced from Alligator's Sword Dragon's weapon of choice, a scimitar borne by the rider, and speared into Yugi's Life Point counter. His Life Points sank to 600.

    "And dat'll end my turn," Joey announced, feeling particularly proud of himself.

    Yugi nodded and drew his next card. "Good play. But I've got one for you, too. First, I play Offerings to the Doomed, which lets me destroy one face-up monster on the field – and the only price is that I can't draw a card next turn."

    Joey winced at the sight of his Fiend Megacyber, the target of Yugi's magic card, exploding quite spectacularly.

    "Next, I play the magic card Dark Magic Curtain, which lets me special summon a Dark Magician from my hand or deck at the cost of half my Life Points. So come forth, Dark Magician (2500/2100), in attack mode!"

    As Yugi's Life Points dropped to 300, the familiar sight of his favorite monster shimmered into existence on his side of the field, resplendent in its purple robes and armor and surrounded by bands of rainbow energy.

    "Now, Dark Magician, attack Alligator's Sword Dragon!" Yugi ordered.

    But even as the spellcaster raised its magic-imbued staff to finish the duel, Joey countered. "Not so fast, Yugi. I activate the trap card Kunai with Chain!"

    A deadly metal boomerang attached to a thick silver chain appeared and attached its chain to the riding alligator's left wrist. The rider took the opportunity, then, to toss the boomerang at its attacker – the chain wrapped about Dark Magician and pinned its arms to its sides, effectively stopping its attack.

    "This card equips to an attacked monster and raises its attack power by 500 points," Joey announced, "and as a bonus, it switches the attacker to defense mode!"

    Yugi frowned. I should have realized his trap would keep him from losing that easily. If my field stays like this, Alligator's Sword Dragon will destroy Dark Magician next turn, and Legendary Fisherman will have a clear path to my Life Points. "Fine, then I place one card face-down and end my turn."

    There was an expression of unmitigated joy on Joey's face. It was a look Yugi was familiar with. The last time he'd seen it was when the two of them dueled each other in the final match of the Duelist Kingdom tournament. It was the look that said, "I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna beat Yugi!"

    Some part of Yugi couldn't help but feel somewhat sorry for Joey. His trap card was a Waboku, and it would both prevent his Dark Magician from being destroyed, and keep him from taking any Life Point damage. Next turn he would switch Dark Magician back to attack mode and destroy Alligator's Sword Dragon – it was the greater threat when compared to The Legendary Fisherman, and he wasn't going to be reckless. The attack wouldn't end the duel outright, but it would at least humble Joey a little.

    But that wasn't the only reason he felt sorry. At times like these, Joey was just centimeters away from becoming like so many other hotshot duelists who tried to challenge Yugi on a daily basis for rights to the Egyptian god cards or the title of King of Games. Sometimes he would realize his folly and apologize profusely for being so shallow.

    Times like those are when Joey's light truly shines, Yami commented. He had not taken part in the duel, as Yugi had insisted it was just a friendly spar. Yugi had even removed the Egyptian god cards from his deck – their power wasn't needed here, and if anything, they would probably overload the circuits on the outdated systems.

    Yugi agreed with his dark half... indeed, Joey's friendship was most obvious when he showed regret over any misunderstanding between himself and Yugi. Joey could sometimes be a pity-mongerer, but for the most part, he was a man of honor and dedication, and there was not a single person Yugi could feel more privileged to call a friend.

    Joey tapped his Alligator's Sword Dragon card twice, indicating to the touch-sensitive field paneling on his pedestal that he intended that monster to attack. Now all it needed was a target. His hand reached out to the opposing field panels on his pedestal, meant to represent Yugi's field. "Alligator's Sword Dragon, attack–"


    Both players frowned and looked in the direction the voice had come from. Yugi had to turn around, because the voice was behind him. Tristan and Téa were pushing desperately through the throngs of onlookers ogling the duel. It was Téa who had called out Yugi's name, and she had a look on her face that Yugi recognized instantly.

    "What's wrong, Téa?" Yugi asked.

    "It's your grandpa," Tristan said.

    A cold rock formed in the pit of Yugi's stomach; somewhere in the darkness of Yami's soul room, he could hear the spirit's fury stirring. Neither of them liked hearing anything about his grandfather in voices such as those... and enough had happened to him already, hadn't it? "What is it?"

    "The guys at the casino said they've taken him to security for cheating," Téa said, her tone incredulous. "They say he wants to see you."

    Yugi felt a small measure of relief at knowing Grandpa had managed to get someone to let them know what had happened – but Yami's rage was beginning to rise. Cheating? Your grandfather never cheats, Yugi. Something foul is afoot here.

    Before Yami's mental message had even completed itself, Joey had tapped his deck twice – a signal and confirmation that he was surrendering the match to Yugi, much to the consternation of spectators who had fully expected Joey to follow through with his attack – and was gathering his cards off the pedestal. "C'mon, Yugi, let's go find out what's going on."

    Yugi smiled at his friend. Ah, Joey... I can always count on him to have a heart of gold.


    Auxiliary Security Control, Luxor Hotel

    Solomon shifted his jaw this way and that as he stared at the security guard blocking the exit – and with it, the path to his freedom from this place. "I'm telling you, I do not cheat."

    "Not my problem, sir," the guard replied. The comment sounded automated. "You'll have to take that up with the manager."

    "And where is the manager, if I may be so bold?"

    "On his way."

    Solomon's teeth were grinding, but what could he do? The guard must have been at least twice his height and weight... and that was saying something, as Solomon's girth had increased considerably since his 50's.

    There was a knock on the door. The guard stood aside and opened it, to reveal none other than Simon Henstridge. The young businessman entered the room and draped his arms behind his back. "Mr. Motou. How nice to see you again."

    "I'm sure you're wishing we could have met under better circumstances, hm?" Solomon inquired, crossing his arms.

    "Something like that. My security cameras were observing some rather... questionable behavior on your part at the blackjack tables."

    "Such as?"

    "My experts believe you were counting cards."

    Solomon scoffed. "Preposterous."

    "It's not something we can prove without a doubt, of course, but the sight of your lips moving as the dealer shuffled the deck, your minimum bets on bad hands, and your high bets on good ones led them to conclude you were memorizing the positions of the cards and counting them to yourself."

    "I beg your pardon!"

    "Well, if you weren't memorizing the cards, what were you doing?"

    "Thinking of my grandson, thank you very much, and going over the speech I gave you," the older man sneered. "I was wondering to myself if there were any more points I could have made while I was at it. I obviously didn't make it clear that my purpose here is entertainment. Not theft."

    "Well, now, that's a matter of some debate, isn't it?"

    "No, sir, it is not," Solomon returned. "And you can consult..." He stopped short.

    "Consult who?" Henstridge asked. His hairless brow rose. "Your grandson, perhaps?"

    "What is it you want?"

    "I'm given to understand you won a $1500 bet just before my security brought you in. The rest of your winnings, you can keep, but I'd like you to return that money."

    "And what do you intend to do if I don't agree to hand it over?"

    Henstridge sat down on the bench next to Solomon. "I was giving some thought to that. I could have you barred from the casino, of course... I could even look into evicting you from the hotel's guest quarters."

    Solomon stared. "Hotel law forbids you to oust your guests on a whim, and I haven't broken any rules."

    "That can't be proven," said Henstridge. "You have our money, we want it back. Simple as that."

    "Simple as extortion," Solomon charged, "which is a crime and a disgraceful tactic to use. Especially against the elderly."

    "Do you have an alternative? A compromise, perhaps?"

    Solomon knew what the young hustler was trying to goad him into. He knew it exactly. He supposed it was only a matter of time before Henstridge figured out a way to do it... and now it didn't look like they were going to have much choice in the matter.

    His shoulders sagged. "I want to see my grandson and his friends before I make any decisions. I told him I would find a way to let him know if I was in trouble, and this is as good a time as any."

    Henstridge nodded once, then approached a control panel and grabbed up a microphone. "Jake, Zander, I need you to go to the arcade and look for four kids – Yugi Motou, Téa Gardner, Tristan Taylor, and Joey Wheeler. You'll probably find Gardner on a dancing machine, Taylor playing a shooter game, and Motou and Wheeler on a Duel Monsters platform. Round all four up and bring them to auxiliary control."

    Solomon glared at Henstridge. "Stalker," he accused.

    Henstridge chuckled. "Hardly. But I do make it a policy to know people who stand out, as well as their friends – your grandson and company certainly qualify. The Duel Monsters champion of the world, two times over! How exciting that must have been for him. And for you."

    Solomon scowled and kept his mouth shut.

    "Ah. I see. The silent treatment. Well, I can certainly understand your grandson's desire to be left alone. So, the less time we take going around in circles over this matter, the faster you can get out of here and enjoy yourself."

    "You just want me to start losing money to you."

    "I'm a businessman, Mr. Motou. I have to turn a profit somehow."

    "Surely you earn that profit through all your other unlucky customers. I very much doubt $5500 is more than a drop in the ocean of a day's earnings."

    Henstridge didn't respond to that, but instead simply smiled and paced back and forth across the room. Moments later, there was another knock on the door – the guard opened it again, and this time there were four children standing alongside a pair of other guards.

    Yugi rushed to his grandfather, practically throwing himself in the older man's arms. "Grandpa! Are you okay?"

    "I'm fine, my boy," Solomon responded, and he couldn't help but chuckle. "There just seems to be... a bit of a misunderstanding regarding some money I won."

    "You didn't cheat, right? I know you couldn't have cheated..."

    "I didn't, Yugi." Solomon scowled back up at Henstridge. "But somebody in this room claims otherwise."

    "Yugi Motou?" Henstridge shamelessly extended his gloved hand to the teen. "My name is Simon Henstridge, I'm co-manager of the Luxor's facilities. It's an honor to meet you in person."

    Yugi ignored the outstretched hand. "Why are you saying my grandfather cheats?" he demanded, voice trembling slightly. "He's the most honorable man I've ever known! How dare you!"

    Henstridge dropped his arm and sighed. "I'm sorry, Yugi, but the fact of the matter is that certain experts who watch the security cameras in this facility say Mr. Motou was counting the cards at a blackjack table. He was putting minimum wagers on bad hands, and betting nearly half of his earnings on good ones."

    "So? That means he's good, right?"

    "Yes," Henstridge admitted. "But we think he's too good. We think he was trying to memorize the positions of the cards in the deck as it was being shuffled. You see, the corners of the deck of cards are raised high enough that someone with a good eye can see the numbers and–"

    "My grandfather isn't a cheater!" Yugi blurted. "He's a good man. The Heart Of The Cards is with him. The cards give him the money he needs. They tell him what's going to happen before it happens."

    "That's exactly my point, Yugi."

    "No, it isn't, Mr. Henstridge," Solomon interrupted. "You don't understand the Heart Of The Cards. If you did, you would know what my grandson means."

    "Mr. Motou, with all due respect, I can't simply take you at your word on this."

    "Then what is it you will take?" Téa asked.

    "Well, I've made the choice rather clear to Mr. Motou. When my security found him, he was making a large bet which he ended up winning – right after the cards were shuffled in front of him. I want him to give back the money he won from that bet. I've told him he can keep the rest."

    "How much money did he win?" Tristan asked.


    "$1500!" Joey spluttered. "Dat's a pretty good hourly wage, I say."

    Solomon turned to the teens. "He's threatened to kick us out of the hotel entirely if I don't give him the money he wants."

    "What!" was the collective response from Yugi and his friends. Téa was the first to recover. "Over $1500? That's not fair at all! It's no better than calling Mr. Motou a cheater!"

    "You people earn ten times that much in a single hand of poker in any given VIP room," Tristan supplemented angrily.

    Henstridge spread his hands wide. "Well, I'm sorry, but unless there's an alternative you'd like to propose..."

    Solomon turned his gaze back upon Henstridge and glowered at him. "I know what you want. I'd wager you've wanted it since you first saw our names on the guest list. But I'm not going to propose it. I cannot ask such a thing of him."

    "What? What is it, Grandpa?" Yugi asked. He looked among the room's occupants; Tristan, Téa, and Joey seemed to bear no comprehension of what Henstridge and Solomon both seemed to know. Henstridge, on the other hand, looked almost manic in his anticipation of... well, whatever it was he wanted.

    "Very well, then I'll propose it," he finally said. "Yugi, your grandfather holds contested money. At this moment, neither the casino nor your grandfather can solidly lay claim to it. I propose that one of us attempts to win that money."

    "Win it? How?"

    "Through a duel."

    Everyone turned to Joey; it was he who had provided that answer, he who had understood it first. He was now scowling at Henstridge as fiercely as Solomon was. "He wants you to duel him, Yugi."

    Yugi looked back at Henstridge, who nodded once in affirmation. "It would be a great honor to duel the King of Games, Yugi. If you win, I'll release the house's claim on the money, and it's yours to keep, no questions asked. If I win, your grandfather returns the money to the house, and nothing further is said on the subject."

    "Hold on a minute!" Joey interjected. "Now, I can understand you wantin' to duel Yugi an' all. Half the world wants a piece'a him. But he can't duel half the world."

    "I'm not half the world, Mr. Wheeler," Henstridge responded, amusement in his tone.

    "Dat's not my point. My point is, Yugi shouldn't hafta keep provin' he's the King'a Games to people like you who're beggin' to get their butts kicked, just to say they got their butts kicked by the world champ."

    "Are you suggesting I'm asking to get my butt kicked?"

    "By none other than the finest. Dat's an honor in itself, to some people. Personally, I think you know there's no way you can win against Yugi. You just wanna have the honor'a duelin' him an' sayin' you did it." Joey stepped forward. "Yugi doesn't hafta defend his title to the likes'a you."

    Henstridge's smug look had disappeared. Now he looked irritated. Patches of his head were turning slightly pink – he was blushing, and it looked awful. "Do you have another alternative, Mr. Wheeler, or are you simply trying to blow smoke in my face?"

    "I'll do both at once," Joey shot back. "I'll duel you. I'm the one who won the tournament dat brought everyone here in the first place. If it weren't for me, Yugi and his Gramps wouldn't even be here, and we wouldn't be havin' this conversation. If someone in here is gonna duel you, I'm the one it should be."

    At that, Solomon actually chuckled. "You know, Mr. Henstridge, he's correct. We wouldn't be here, having this conversation, if it wasn't for him."

    "But... but..." Henstridge sounded positively whiny. "What about Yugi?"

    "What about him?" Téa countered. "Joey's right. Yugi doesn't have to defend himself to you. He's already defeated the former world favorite – twice. And last I heard, you weren't even in the top 100 list for favorite duelists. You can't force him to duel you. Joey's offering to duel."

    Henstridge reached a hand out to Yugi, looking desperate for the boy's opinion. "Yugi... tell me, what is it you want?"

    Yugi looked up at Henstridge. "I want my grandpa to keep the money he won," he answered. "And if you won't let him have it without a duel, I think you should duel Joey."

    "And there's something else to consider," Tristan added. "Yugi has three Egyptian god cards at his disposal. You wouldn't last two seconds against them. Joey, on the other hand, doesn't have any god cards to his credit. You actually have more of a chance against him."

    "Gee, thanks," Joey muttered.

    That fact had apparently not registered with Henstridge before. His fury visibly lessened upon Tristan's comment. He stroked his chin. "You know... that's true. Hm." After a few moments of silent consideration, he looked at the blond and nodded once. "Very well. I accept your challenge."

    "An' I accept yours," Joey responded.

    "Our match will take place in the arcade. Let's get going."


    Yugi suddenly realized how much detail he was pouring into the story, and blushed. "I'm sorry, Mr. Grissom," he said. "I'm sure all this isn't quite as helpful as you might like..."

    Grissom smiled, leaned forward, and laced his fingers. "I'll tell you what, Yugi: every little bit helps. Now, by all means, go on. What happened next?"


    © Matt Morwell, 2011

  5. #5
    Written Into A Corner... Cool Trainer
    Cool Trainer
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    May 2011

    Default Evidence of Shadows: Chapter 4 - Luck of the Draw

    Chapter 4
    Luck of the Draw


    Two Days Earlier

    Ground Level Arcade, Luxor Hotel

    Las Vegas, Nevada

    The two duelists stared at each other across the expansive holo-platform, ready to throw down. Joey was once again mounted on the red pedestal – Henstridge claimed there was a rather notable success rate for those who stood on the blue side, thus he had called dibs for that position. Joey couldn't have cared less where they stood, just as long as they didn't waste their time making trivial decisions.

    The others gathered around the lip of the platform, eager to see the duel about to take place. A few curious onlookers also approached, always intrigued by the duels that took place here – and a few were left over from the last game. They were hungry for a finished product this time around.

    Yugi was sure Joey would give them one.

    "All right," said Joey. "Since I volunteered to duel, I think it's only fair if I go first."

    Henstridge spread his arms. "Feel free."

    Joey drew six cards as their Life Point counters each scrolled up to 4000. "First, I'll summon Swordsman of Landstar (500/1200) in defense mode." As he spoke, a minuscule warrior wrapped in brown leather armor and bearing an absurdly short sword appeared on the field to defend Joey's Life Points. "Then I place one card face-down. An' dat's all for now."

    "Is it?" Henstridge drew his first card. "We'll see. I summon Gravekeeper's Spear Soldier (1500/1000) in attack mode." The monster he brought out was a Spellcaster-Type creature wrapped in black robes and bearing a glinting silver-tipped spear. "Gravekeeper's Spear Soldier, destroy his Swordsman of Landstar."

    It didn't take but a single jab to shatter Joey's monster – but as the tiny swordsman vanished, Joey's Life Points dropped to 3700. He blinked. "How did dat happen? My monster was in defense mode!"

    "Indeed, it was," Henstridge agreed, "but my Spear Soldier's special ability deals damage to players even if their monsters are defending. So it looks like I've drawn first blood." He looked pleased with himself.

    Joey scoffed. "Yeah, well, don't go thinkin' you're all hot stuff just 'cause you got the first hit in. You got a long ways to go."

    "Believe me, Mr. Wheeler, no one knows it more than I do. Now I place two cards face-down and end my turn."

    "What you oughta know is that I just drew out one'a your monsters. And now I'll avenge my Swordsman with Axe Raider (1700/1100) in attack mode! Now, Axe Raider, attack his Gravekeeper's Spear Soldier!"

    The axe-wielding warrior raised his weapon high over his head as he rushed toward the opposing monster – its blow cleaved Spear Soldier in half before the spellcaster vanished. At the same time, Joey noted that one of Henstridge's face-down cards was flipping up. "What've we got here?"

    "What we've got is my Needle Wall trap card," Henstridge replied. "At the beginning of every one of my turns, one of your monster spaces is randomly attacked by twin spike walls... and if there's a monster caught there, that monster is instantly destroyed."

    Yugi winced. He recalled a certain madman in the Battle City finals who would have loved to have that card. Then again, for all he knew, Marik did have the card and just never used it – something for which both he and Joey were quite thankful.

    But it didn't help now that Joey was facing it down. Still, if the younger duelist was worried, he didn't show it. "If dat's all you got protectin' you, this duel ain't gonna last very long. I play one card face-down an' end my turn."

    Henstridge drew his next card – and everyone watching the field jumped back in surprise as a pair of spike-festooned walls instantly appeared around Joey's center monster space and thunderously crashed into each other. The businessman shrugged. "I'm sure there are plenty more turns for it to prove itself more useful, but now you get the idea, Mr. Wheeler. Now I activate my trap card Rite of Spirit, which lets me revive a Gravekeeper monster from my graveyard – so welcome back, Gravekeeper's Spear Soldier."

    Joey rolled his eyes. "This really ain't gonna last long, is it?"

    "You figure it out. Meanwhile, I'm going to activate my Necrovalley field card."

    The drab grayish holographic platform suddenly remodeled itself with the assistance of its image projectors. Now the monsters were standing in the middle of a translucent valley amidst two desert-born cliffsides.

    Joey frowned. "What's up with this?"

    "Necrovalley is a field spell card. While it's in play, all Gravekeeper monsters receive a 500 point boost to their attack and defense points, and neither of us will be able to use an effect that involves our graveyards, such as Monster Reborn and Soul Release."

    The statistics of Henstridge's Spear Soldier were hovering over its head – and now they read 2000/1500. The businessman smirked. "Looks like the play was effective. Spear Soldier, attack Axe Raider."

    Another jab from the revived soldier, and Axe Raider vanished as had the Swordsman of Landstar before it. Instead of simply taking the 400 Life Points of damage, however, Joey flipped over one of his face-down cards to respond. "I activate Numinous Healer! When I take damage to my Life Points, this trap lets me increase them by 1000 – like so." He gestured to his LP counters, which were already ascending to 4300.

    Henstridge harrumphed in response. "I'll end my turn there."

    "Good. Now watch out." Joey drew his next card. "I place one monster face-down and end my turn."

    "That's your big play?" Henstridge scoffed. "Let's see what I can do to respond." He drew his next card; again, the Needle Wall trap took effect, slamming this time on the monster space directly next to the monster card Joey had just laid down. Henstridge snapped his fingers. "Almost got him. Maybe this'll do it. Spear Soldier, attack his face-down monster."

    Joey smirked as the spear, for the first time, proved itself unsuccessful in its attempt to rid the field of its target. "You'll need a little more firepower than that. Meet my Battle Footballer (1000/2100)."

    The revealed Machine-Type monster grabbed the thrusting spear and shoved it back towards the opposing field – and its carrier along with it. Henstridge grunted as his Life Points dropped to 3700. "Very well, then. I end my turn."

    "Not gonna see many monsters from you today, are we?" Joey commented, drawing as he spoke. "I play another monster face-down and end my turn."

    "What you see is what you get," Henstridge responded smoothly. The Needle Wall crashed down on the center monster space again, narrowly missing (for the second time) the new monster card on the field. "Besides, why change a good thing? I play the spell card Book of Taiyou, which lets me flip one face-down monster on the field to attack mode... and of course, the one I choose is the one you just played."

    Joey scowled. "You've revealed my Roulette Barrel (1000/2000). In attack mode, he won't stand a chance against your monster."

    "Very perceptive of you," Henstridge noted. "Spear Soldier, destroy Roulette Barrel."

    Another thrust of the glimmering weapon, and Joey's monster was blown away – along with it, 1000 of his Life Points, taking him down to 3400.

    Yugi frowned. Henstridge is walking all over Joey with that Spear Soldier. I thought Joey would have been able to get rid of it by now.

    Joey has had his share of difficult duels before. Some of his most noteworthy battles involved trouble against one monster that proved exceedingly difficult to destroy. But he will prevail.

    Yugi nodded. I know he will. But thanks for reassuring me.

    What are yamis for?

    Yugi snickered to himself, but then refocused his attention on the duel – just in time for Joey's next turn to begin. And the blond wore an expression of elation. He laughed aloud, then said, "Hey, if you think your Spear Soldier's somethin' else, take a look at this. I sacrifice my Battle Footballer to summon Jinzo (2400/1500) in attack mode!"

    The new monster that rose to take Battle Footballer's place was slightly reminiscent of Darth Vader – although it was twice as imposing, and even more hideous. Despite its unseemliness, it was the dream card of every duelist and the worst nightmare of any opponent. It had seen Joey through several duels already, and was quickly becoming as much of a signature for him as Red-Eyes Black Dragon itself.

    "An' just in case you didn't know, Henstridge, Jinzo's special ability lets him negate all traps... which means your Needle Wall's been knocked out." Joey grinned. "And I'm gonna send your monster on a one-way trip to Never-was-land. Jinzo, attack Gravekeeper's Spear Soldier!"

    But even as the dark energy blast emitted from Jinzo's fingertips, Henstridge was ready for the attack. "My traps may not be effective, but my monster effects are. I discard Charm of Shabti from my hand, which prevents my Gravekeepers from taking damage this turn."

    "Well, dat's annoying. But it looks like the attack still worked on your Life Points," Joey noted, watching his opponent's LP drop to 3300.

    "Yes, unfortunately, Charm of Shabti doesn't keep me from taking damage. But it's of little consequence," Henstridge informed him.

    "Whatever. I end my turn."

    Henstridge drew his next card. "I play Graceful Charity," he announced, and by its effect he drew three new cards into his hand, then continued, "and I'll discard my Secret Pass to the Treasures and Mirage of Nightmare cards. Next, I'll shift my Spear Soldier to defense mode and place one monster face-down. And finally, I play the spell card Gravekeeper's Servant."

    Joey cocked his head. "Which does what, exactly?"

    "Whenever you attack, you must discard a card from the top of your deck – and while Necrovalley is in play, you won't be able to bring back anything you lose."

    "Right now I've got the advantage of you, Henstridge, so I hope I don't disappoint you too much when I say I think I'm willin' to lose a few cards to win the duel."

    "I don't doubt you are," Henstridge replied. "I end my turn."

    Joey drew. "I play the spell card Pot of Greed, and draw two more cards." He did just that, and then announced, "Next I summon my Marauding Captain (1200/400) in attack mode. He's got two special abilities. The first one prevents you from choosing any Warrior monsters on my field except him as an attack target. The second one allows me to summon an extra monster from my hand this turn, so say hello to Sasuke Samurai (500/800), also in attack mode." Joey's Marauding Captain was a stout warrior clad in modest bronze armor, bearing a short sword; Sasuke Samurai barely came up to Captain's thigh, wore padded armor in the traditional style of a samurai warrior, and bore a glowing blade longer than its bearer was tall.

    "Rather weak monsters," Henstridge noted. "Are you sure you want to discount my face-down monster so quickly?"

    "I'm glad you brought dat up, and I'm gonna get to it in a minute. First off, though... Jinzo, attack Gravekeeper's Spear Soldier, and I'd prefer if you destroy it this time."

    "Gravekeeper's Servant won't allow you to attack until you've discarded a card from the top of your deck first," Henstridge reminded him.

    "Right. In dat case... I discard Armored Lizard from the top of my deck so Jinzo can give your Spear Soldier a proper farewell."

    This time, Jinzo's energy burst went uninterrupted, and Gravekeeper's Spear Soldier was sent to oblivion.

    "Next, I give up my Big Eye monster card so Sasuke Samurai can attack your face-down monster."

    Henstridge looked ready to grin and show Joey the price for his folly – but any hint of that arrogance drained from his face when he saw Sasuke Samurai effortlessly cleave through the holographic face-down card. "But my Morphing Jar (700/500) has the same defense as your samurai's attack – it should have survived!"

    "But it didn't, and here's why," Joey answered. "Sasuke Samurai's special ability allows it to destroy any face-down monster it attacks, no matter what dat monster's defense is. Not only dat, but it also cancels out any flip effects... which means you just lost your best shot at drawing yourself a new hand of cards." He smirked. "Sorry to bust your bubble. Now, Marauding Captain, with the sacrifice of my Graverobber card, attack his Life Points directly!"

    The monster obediently swept across the valley and delivered a blow to the base of Henstridge's dueling pedestal, causing it to rock backward for dramatic effect; Henstridge grabbed one of the safety rails and hung on for dear life as his Life Points sank to 2100. Spectators surrounding the platform cheered at the sight of Joey Wheeler taking down a corporate bigwig – they apparently were all about the "little people". Yugi, Solomon, Tristan, and Téa were all cheering along with them.

    "An' dat ends my turn," Joey said definitively.

    A peculiar growling noise emitted from Henstridge's throat, but then he seemed to calm himself. He nodded once at Joey as he drew his next card. "A good play," he affirmed. "Clearly I've underestimated you – a mistake I don't intend to make again. With that in mind, I summon Gravekeeper's Assailant (1500/1500) in attack mode."

    With the arrival of the new Gravekeeper on the block came Necrovalley's addition of attack and defense points to its statistics, giving it 2000 points for each factor. Like its predecessor, this one was also cloaked in robes of black, but it was shrouded, as well – the only definite facial features one could see were his jet-black eyes. He bore a long dagger whose blade twisted back and forth in a serpentine fashion.

    "Normally, I might use him to attack your Marauding Captain, and with him, the opening to your Life Points. But with the presence of a bigger fish to fry, I think I should probably take care of Jinzo first."

    Joey scoffed. "And how do you plan on doin' dat?"

    "Simple. Gravekeeper's Assailant has a special ability that allows him to change the battle position of one face-up opposing monster as he attacks, as long as Necrovalley is on the field. And last time I checked, it is." One side of Henstridge's mouth quirked up. "Gravekeeper's Assailant, switch Jinzo to defense mode and destroy it."

    The visual effects were impressive, to say the least; Jinzo was forced to one knee by a spell cast in a foreign tongue by Assailant. As soon as the Machine-Type was in defense position, Assailant swept across the field and delivered a devastating blow with its dagger – causing Jinzo to shatter on the spot.

    "That also frees up our trap cards," Henstridge noted, "meaning Needle Wall is back in effect, as are any other traps I choose to activate. So I place one card face-down and end my turn."

    "Don't forget, I got trap cards, too," Joey retorted as he drew. "An' I got ways'a gettin' you to show yours."

    Henstridge rose an eyebrow. "Indeed? You'll have to indulge me on that one."

    "Don't think I won't, either. I activate the spell card Bait Doll, which allows me to force the activation of a face-down trap card on your field. If dat card needs a specific time to activate and this isn't it, dat card is automatically destroyed – but if it is activated at the right time, you get to use its effect as normal."

    "Well, in that case, I thank you," Henstridge smiled, "because you've activated another of my Rite of Spirit trap cards, allowing me to once again revive my Gravekeeper's Spear Soldier in attack mode."

    Joey frowned as he watched Henstridge's now-infamous monster reappear on his field for the second time. "Hold on a sec, you said cards that involve anything in the graveyard won't work as long as your Necrovalley is active."

    "For most cards, that's entirely correct. However, Rite of Spirit is specifically allowed to bypass the effects of Necrovalley, so that reviving the monsters that protect it may go through uninterrupted."

    Joey scowled. "Even worse. But there's no use cryin' about it, so I'll sacrifice my Sasuke Samurai in order to summon The Legendary Fisherman (1850/1600) in attack mode."

    For the second time that day, the great fisherman-warrior and the white shark it sat astride appeared on the dueling platform, ready to both take down weaker opponents and defend against stronger ones. "An' don't bother goin' after him, 'cause the ocean won't allow it."

    "Ocean?" Henstridge scoffed. "I see no ocean in my Necrovalley."

    "Maybe not, but trust me, you won't be able to do it – his special ability prevents you from attackin' him. Just tryin' to add a little drama to it, y'know?"

    "Nice effort."

    The blond teen scoffed but otherwise ignored the comment. "I end my turn."

    Henstridge drew his next card – and Needle Wall made itself painfully obvious as it smashed Marauding Captain into billions of holographic shards. Unwary onlookers jumped and even the veterans of this spectacle had to clench their teeth against the sight/sound.

    The businessman frowned. "I was actually hoping that one would stick around."

    "Sorry to see you're so disappointed," Joey grunted.

    "Me, too. But in the meantime, I'll activate my Dark Room of Nightmare spell card. This causes you to take 300 points of damage to your Life Points every time I hit your Life Points with effect damage. And you can very well expect me to do that, soon enough."

    "No doubt," Joey muttered. "Anything else?"

    "No, that'll do it for me."

    Joey drew, and swiftly set the drawn card on his field. "I place one monster face-down and end my turn," he announced.

    "That was quick," Henstridge remarked. "I suppose you've found a monster than can block my attacks, hm?"

    "You'll see soon enough."

    "That is, if Needle Wall doesn't get to it first," Henstridge corrected. He drew, and Needle Wall's wrath bore down on Joey's field... this time destroying The Legendary Fisherman.

    Joey slumped. "Can't catch a break around here!"

    "Apparently not," Henstridge replied, amused. "In that case, it should be no problem to take out the rest of your Life Points in one fell swoop, provided the defense of your monster is low enough for me to do so. Let's find out, shall we? Gravekeeper's Spear Soldier, attack his face-down monster."

    "Ah-ah, I have a card face-down, remember?" Joey smirked. "And it's gonna make all the difference. Activate Fairy Box!"

    His face-down monster card became enclosed in a box with several large holes in the top that was reminiscent of an arcade game he'd loved as a kid. "Your monster has a 50/50 shot at takin' mine out. If luck is on my side, your monster's attack power will drop to zero and my monster's defense will be subtracted from your Life Points... and all without you even knowin' what my monster is yet."

    Henstridge became red-faced. "Then we'll see if that reputed luck of yours holds out, Mr. Wheeler."

    For a moment, it seemed as though Spear Soldier had been struck with indecision... however, that moment quickly passed, and the monster shoved its spear decisively towards one of the holes.

    It struck something.

    And as everyone watched... its attack power sank to 0.

    "Whoops, looks like dat wasn't the one you wanted," Joey laughed. "Too bad. But you have accomplished one thing – you've revealed my Princess of Tsurugi (900/700)."

    As a beautiful blonde girl emerged from Joey's Fairy Box, Henstridge's Life Points began to drop. But they dropped lower than just to the 1400 they ought to have stopped at. They kept going.

    All the way down to 0.

    Henstridge was wide-eyed. "How...?"

    "Simple math," Joey answered, crossing his arms. "When you attacked Princess of Tsurugi, you triggered her effect: when revealed, she delivers 500 points of damage to your Life Points for every spell and trap card you have on your field. Necrovalley, Gravekeeper's Servant, Needle Wall, and Dark Room of Nightmare make four cards, and 4 x 500 equals 2000... so it effectively dropped your Life Points all at once."

    Henstridge blinked. Blinked again.

    And slowly... the spectators began applauding. The applause became raucous, filled with hoots, hollers, and cheers. Yugi and his friends were making the most noise of all – Solomon was dancing in circles with Téa, and Tristan was looking as though he had just survived a heart attack from the suspense of the duel.

    Yugi, for his part, was nodding in pride at his friend, and on the metaphysical plane, Yami joined him. We knew you could do it, Joey. We're proud of you.

    After several moments, Joey dismounted his pedestals and went to meet Henstridge on the other side. Joey offered his hand to the businessman. "Dat was a good duel."

    But Henstridge didn't take it. "I could still contest the money, you know," he said, although he sounded half-hearted about it. "Underage gambling is illegal in the United States, and nowhere more so than here."

    "Now wait just a minute!" Joey practically shouted, but before he could proceed to tell Henstridge exactly what he thought of the policies around here, Solomon intervened.

    "Mr. Henstridge, you can't consider that game gambling," the elder man said.

    "Oh? And why not?"

    "Because neither of you had a stake involved. Neither of you put anything of your own on a table and said you were willing to give it up in order to take what everyone else put down. It was contested money. You yourself said that neither I nor the house could properly lay claim to it. If so, then your duel with Joey was a prize fight, not gambling. And Joey won."

    Henstridge's face contorted for a moment, obviously infuriated with both the smug duelist and the logical geezer standing in front of him. "Fine," he growled. "But don't expect yourself to be welcomed by security in the Luxor's casinos."

    "I wouldn't dream of it," Solomon answered. "And I mean that, too. Your hospitality needs work. I'm amazed celebrities of any kind would want to come here, after the treatment we've received. Next time we're in America, I think we'll have to make sure not to bring our business here. You said you're the co-manager?"

    The bald man's jaw shifted one way and another, and he nodded in furious silence.

    "In that case, I'll have to submit my complaint to your counterpart." Solomon turned to Tristan, Téa, and Yugi, who were listening in on the conversation while trying not to be obvious about it – which only made them more obvious. "Kids, let's go. Good day to you, Mr. Henstridge."


    7:55 a.m.

    Las Vegas Crime Lab

    "So as you can imagine, everyone left the scene rather dissatisfied," Yugi finished.

    Grissom nodded. "I would be, too. Did you submit your complaint?"

    "I did," Solomon answered, "although I'm sure it was caught up in the lower levels of management."

    "Well, by the time it reaches where you intended it to go, it's going to fall on deaf ears," Grissom advised. "Simon Henstridge's 'counterpart', as you so quaintly put it, was his father. He's the sole heir of the business, and he's liable to be quite cranky the rest of his life – I'm to understand casino hotels do that to their management. Especially the Luxor."

    "We'll have to tell Joey to win a better tournament next time, then," Solomon quipped.

    "Not a bad idea. What happened after that?"

    "I was allowed to cash in my chips, so at least that part of the story has a happy ending. We tried to avoid the Luxor's facilities by and large afterward. Of course, Tristan and Téa were absolutely in love with the arcade, so as a compromise, we kept our daytime activities out of the Luxor. Yugi and Téa went to see an IMAX presentation, though, and they also looked at some of the Egypt exhibits on display there."

    At Grissom's look, Yugi shrugged. "I'm really into Egypt?" he offered lamely.

    "Really? That's where the necklace came from?"

    Again, Yugi touched it upon mention of it. "Yeah. It's a souvenir. Grandpa found it, had to get it."

    "Tristan, Joey, and I went to the Hilton for the Star Trek Experience yesterday," Solomon continued. "We're all on-and-off fans of different Trek series. We just generally looked for things outside of the Luxor that we could enjoy."

    "There's a lot in Vegas to be enjoyed," Grissom said reasonably. He flashed a grim sort of smirk. "And after the hospitality at the Luxor..."

    "Indeed," Solomon snorted.

    Grissom leaned back and opened the portfolio, apparently ready to take a few notes. "Where were you last night, at about 7:30?"

    Solomon chuckled. "Escorting the young ones through one of the exhibits, actually. I remember the time because I happened to glance at the clock and noticed we'd been walking around doing nothing but staring at things for two hours. I assume there's camera security protecting those areas."

    Grissom nodded. "What about Mr. Taylor?"

    "Tristan was in the arcade," Yugi answered. "He told me he was taking challenges from other players on the Time Crisis game. You can probably look up the high scores on it... it's almost guaranteed to have his initials there repeatedly."

    "And that leaves Joey," said Solomon, "who has yet to have his alibi confirmed."

    "I'm afraid so. We're trying to get our hands on some of the security tapes now. Hotel management can be awfully stubborn about those. They think we're trying to compromise them."

    Grissom's expression had reverted to its usual grim state. "Mr. Motou, I don't want you to get the wrong idea. We aren't going to accuse Joey of the murder unless we have solid evidence to back it up. But you're right – he is our prime suspect. And right now, an alibi would make all the difference for him."


    © Matt Morwell, 2011

  6. #6
    Written Into A Corner... Cool Trainer
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    May 2011

    Default Evidence of Shadows: Chapter 5 - Future Imperfect

    Chapter 5
    Future Imperfect


    8:20 a.m.

    Las Vegas Crime Lab

    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Téa Gardner rubbed the back of her neck as she waited on the couch with Tristan. Mr. Motou and Yugi were still talking with that Grissom character. Téa'd had a hard time getting a read on the man; he seemed both trustworthy and downright creepy. And judging from some of the gossip she'd been hearing from passersby, she didn't think this was an opinion she alone held.

    She felt Tristan sighing next to her. She turned to him and tried to smile. "Cheer up, Tristan. We both know Joey didn't do anything."

    "That doesn't make the wait any easier," Tristan answered. "They kept him here overnight. Just because you and I know he didn't do anything doesn't mean they know it."

    "They're doing the best they can," she tried to assure him.

    "Where's that getting Joey?" he countered. "He was the one who found the body in his room, and they haven't confirmed his alibi yet. Put two and two together. Add to that the fact that he really doesn't like authority figures, and that means he was probably rude to whoever was questioning him, even if that person was a saint – which I don't think you find in police stations."

    "Crime labs," Téa corrected. "This place is a crime lab. They bring all the evidence at the scene of a crime here and examine it."

    "Whatever. My point is that it's almost guaranteed somebody around here believes Joey may very well be the one who killed the man."

    "But Joey has no reason to kill anyone, much less a stranger!" she protested.

    "Like I said, just because we know it doesn't mean they know it."

    A dark-skinned man approached them then, and offered them a slightly strained smile. Téa found herself appreciating the effort; she didn't imagine his job was an easy one, and even less so when kids were involved.

    "Tristan Taylor? Téa Gardner? My name is Warrick Brown," the man said. "I'm helping conduct the investigation into Mr. Henstridge's drowning."

    "Henstridge? You mean Simon Henstridge?" Téa inquired, blinking in surprise. "The Luxor's co-manager?"

    "No, it was his father, Gordon. But you've got the co-manager part right. He also owned the place. Now it's all been left to Simon."

    Tristan scowled. "Great, just great. When you think things can't get any worse for us..."

    Warrick nodded. "I listened in on some of the questioning sessions with your friends. They expressed the same distaste for Simon. Can't say I blame them, either. But now he's running the place, and he's not much inclined to continue reserving the room of his father's killer."

    "Joey didn't kill him," Téa asserted firmly. "He's had his problems in the past, but he would never kill."

    "That's what he and the Motous said. And I'd like to believe that, but in this line of work, I can't afford to believe anything except what the evidence tells me. That's why I need your help."

    The two teens perked slightly at this, eager to be of some assistance. "What can we do?" Tristan asked.

    Warrick held up a pair of swabs. "I'd like to get hair and DNA samples from you two, if you'll let me."

    Téa blinked at the implications of this request. "You don't think one of us did it, do you?"

    The dusky-skinned criminologist shook his head. "No. Your alibis have already been confirmed."

    "Then why're you asking us for samples?"

    "Because we found several different types of hairs there, and we need to eliminate everyone who we know has been in the room. Joey said you all were in his room at one point; is that right?"

    The teens nodded. "We all went to check out each other's rooms the first day we got here," said Tristan, "but I thought the cleaning lady would have vacuumed up everything."

    "Cleaning ladies do a decent job, but they don't catch everything while a guest is there," Warrick replied. "They wait until a guest has vacated the room completely before they do the real cleanup. We won't find anything from a previous guest there, but you guys might have dropped something. We just need to make sure who all was in the room. Your samples will help us eliminate you guys, leaving the person we're looking for."


    10:28 a.m.

    Grissom rubbed his eyes underneath his glasses. Rarely did he admit to being tired. He was an insomniac by nature; he supposed it went hand-in-hand with being so enamored with death. He was the definition of the phrase "You can sleep when you're dead."

    But right now, he was getting tired.

    And unfortunately, the young and vital Sara had spotted him doing it as she walked into the break room – rarely was it ever used for breaks, at least when Grissom was there. She grinned at him. "The great Grissom, actually getting sleepy?" she gasped mockingly. "I didn't think it was possible."

    "See if you can entice Greg into breaking out the strong coffee next time he passes through," Grissom said. "Speaking of Greg, I assume Ms. Gardner and Mr. Taylor provided samples."

    "Without a hitch. Greg's processing the results, he'll have them in a couple hours," she said. "They're eager to help."

    "I'm not surprised. All of them have shown remarkable loyalty to Joey. You don't see that kind of dedication in Vegas... kids on the street are more eager to sell each other out."

    "Hm." She approached, and looked over his shoulder at the file he was consulting. "Wheeler's rap sheet, huh?"

    "Yeah. And even after he got out of constant trouble, he still caused controversy – some people think he's one of the best duelists in the world, others think he's just a hack."

    Sara shrugged. "Maybe he's both. They're not mutually exclusive. We both know from experience even the most innocuous people can become dangerous... and this kid has a record."

    "Not for any serious crimes, though," Grissom pointed out. "He's a troublemaker, but throwing a brick through a window isn't murder."

    "No, but you've got motive," Sara replied. "From what I understand, Simon Henstridge was willing to do just about anything to play a game with Yugi Motou and threatened to kick them out if he didn't. Wheeler could have killed his father as revenge."

    "That wouldn't make sense, though. Joey exacted his revenge when he defeated Henstridge in a game played on Yugi's behalf."

    "Maybe that wasn't enough for him," Sara suggested.

    "Something about the way Yugi describes it leads me to believe that a Duel Monsters game is highly emotionally charged. When a duelist loses, he's ashamed; when he wins, he's elated."

    "So maybe Wheeler didn't think the shame was enough for Henstridge. Or maybe he wanted to win again."

    Grissom shook his head. "Doesn't feel like it."

    Sara sighed. "Are we gonna base the case on what 'feels right' to you?"

    "For someone to challenge Yugi, the Duel Monsters world champion, he has to be prideful in his skills as a duelist. Otherwise he wouldn't even consider it."

    "Someone like Simon Henstridge, who could have kicked them out at any time?" Sara shook her head. "Sorry, Grissom, that sounds more like a power play to me than a challenge."

    "It's all about pride. Joey insists he believes Henstridge wouldn't have a chance against Yugi – that more than anything, he wanted a chance to say he personally faced the world champion in a duel, no matter the outcome."

    "You don't think he's right?"

    "I don't think Henstridge would have challenged Yugi if he didn't have the slightest belief he could win. Maybe there's some part of him that truly thinks he can do what nobody else has been able to."

    She put her hands on her hips. "Look, this is fascinating, really, but what does all this have to do with the murder?"

    "Joey defeated Henstridge in a duel. For professional duelists, there's no greater high than winning a game of Duel Monsters. There'd be no point in trying to cause more suffering to Henstridge; he was humiliated in front of a public audience. And even if he did want to cause Henstridge more pain... why do it through his father? Why kill Gordon Henstridge? At that point, Simon becomes the sole manager and heir of the Luxor, and he'll give them all kinds of grief."

    "Maybe Wheeler didn't realize Gordon was co-manager? The family resemblance is striking, but the average person can't tell what position of power a man is in just by looking at him."

    The faintest trace of a smile flitted over Grissom's weathered face. "Joey Wheeler isn't your average person."

    "You really believe he didn't do it?"

    Grissom didn't respond.


    10:34 a.m.

    Main Lobby, Luxor Hotel

    Simon Henstridge was as incorrigible as Brass had ever known him and his father to be – perhaps even more so, considering the death of his father just last night. "Captain Brass, I'm a very busy man."

    "Care to guess how many times I've heard that phrase before?"

    "Not particularly."

    "Let's cut the crap. You don't want to talk to me. But I came here for a reason and I'm not leaving until I get what I came for."

    "Okay, then, let me put it another way... I'm a grieving man, and under enormous pressure right now. My father was murdered last night, and now I have the tedious job of managing this place myself. As you can probably imagine, it's no picnic. I can't even take a break to grieve because this place needs a manager. I'm on the verge of a breakdown. So maybe you should just take your questions and shove them."

    Brass shrugged. "Look, pal, if you need a break from the job, I'd be happy to give you one down at the station. I could use a break myself."

    Henstridge sighed. "I was there already for a previous round of habit of suspecting the beneficiary of the deceased is quite irritating. But fine, we'll talk here. What is it you want?"

    "I'd like to talk to you about an incident that happened Monday afternoon. It involved a Joey Wheeler... you know him?"

    "It's hard not to acquaint yourself with a man who beats you at Duel Monsters and then goes on to drown your father in his jacuzzi."

    "Wheeler hasn't been charged with the crime yet."

    Henstridge's eyes blazed. "What! Why not?"

    "Not enough evidence to back it up."

    "Don't tell me you've released that menace! I won't have him running around the Luxor with my father's blood on his hands!"

    "You can't bar him without a good reason, and we can't hold him without just cause. I think you know that. Far as we're concerned, he has yet to commit a punishable crime."

    Henstridge glowered at Brass. "You know, news like that can be very bad for a man's health."

    "There are worse things. Tell me about your encounter with Wheeler."

    Henstridge sighed. "There was a dispute over some money a friend of his won. Some of my people thought he was cheating. Wheeler and I settled the dispute with a round of Duel Monsters. He beat me, so I let them have the money, and that was that."

    "From what I hear, it was a bit more complex," Brass replied. "You didn't want a duel with Wheeler, you wanted a duel with Yugi Motou. Why?"

    Henstridge shrugged. "Either of them could have represented the accused. Frankly, I thought Yugi would present more of a challenge to my dueling skills. There was no way I could lose, even if I did lose."

    "Except you did lose, and to Wheeler. Weren't happy about that, huh?"

    "I was... annoyed, but I agreed to duel him, and he defeated me fairly."

    "And then you still threatened to dispute the money. Why?"

    "I said I was annoyed, Captain Brass. When a duelist is beaten in Duel Monsters, that defeat is embarrassing enough when the winner is there to gloat. It's downright humiliating when spectators are cheering your downfall."

    "You're breaking my heart."

    "I have no doubt. So back to my original question, what is it you want?"

    "Same thing you want – evidence on a suspect. And to get one, I need your security tapes."

    Henstridge blew his breath out his nose. "Is there another way you can get your evidence?"

    "Nothing better for evidence than what's caught on tape. You want your father's killer, I want your tapes. I'm asking you nicely but I could get a warrant if you'd like."

    "Okay, okay. Which ones do you need?"

    "I need everything from your food courts starting on Monday morning, and everything on your casino since last Friday. It's to verify everyone's alibi."

    Henstridge's eyes narrowed. "They haven't been in the casino since Monday. You don't need Monday tapes for a Tuesday murder."

    "Did it ever occur to you that they might have been lying about some of their whereabouts before yesterday? We catch them on one lie, we might catch them on several." Brass swept his hand through the air for emphasis. "Nobody ever tells 'little white lies'. They don't exist. You tell either a lie, or the truth. Now, tell me the truth, Mr. Henstridge: do you have something to hide by not letting us see those tapes?"

    Henstridge straightened. "No, Captain Brass, I don't."

    "Good. Then have someone deliver them to the crime lab by noon."


    1:45 p.m.

    Las Vegas Crime Lab

    Greg Sanders' eyes were glued to his microscope. One might have thought they literally were glued there, the way he seemed unable to stop admiring the samples on the slide. But most people who worked here had come to accept that as normal behavior from Greg; in fact, they had come to accept most behavior he displayed as normal for him, so they rarely questioned his motives. Those motives tended to be a mystery to all but himself, anyway.

    A knock at the door, however, prompted him to pry his gaze away from the sample and up at his boss. "Hey, Grissom. You ought to get some sleep, those bags under your eyes aren't doing you any favors."

    "Warrick and Nick gave you the DNA samples from my case hours ago. What have you been doing with them? Spiking your coffee?"

    "Ah, the last of the samples is being processed now. Stick around a couple minutes and you'll get the results. C'mere and check this out." Greg grinned and gestured to the microscope.

    Greg's expression gave Grissom sufficient cause to frown. What's he up to this time? Nevertheless, he approached and inspected the specimen under the scope. After a moment, he shrugged. "Hairs. So?"

    "So, they're all from the same person."

    "Yugi Motou?"

    "Exactly. But here's the interesting part – none of it is dyed."

    Grissom looked up and raised an eyebrow. "You're not serious."

    "I'm telling you, there's not a drop of dye to be found on that kid's head. Plenty of gel, as I'm sure you noticed, but that hair is otherwise all-natural."

    The frown returned. "I don't think I've ever seen a case of purple hair occurring naturally, never mind purple, maroon, and blond all at once."

    "Sort of a trap card purple, don't you think? And the maroon... sort of a, I dunno, Beast of Gilfer tone."

    "I beg your pardon?"

    "Duel Monsters." Greg grinned. "Haven't you heard? It's the new thing. I'm a fan."

    Grissom repressed the instinct to roll his eyes. "Results, Greg..."

    Perhaps the printer heard him then, because it was at that moment that Greg was saved from having to say anything – a sheet of paper was expelled from the printer, say all that needed to be said to both of them.

    Grissom's expression darkened. "This can't be right."

    "Sorry, boss, but it looks like the only people in the room were Wheeler, his friends, and Henstridge. Didn't pick up any hairs or DNA from anyone else."

    "But if that's true... then Joey is our only suspect."


    1:47 p.m.

    Room 1207, Luxor Hotel

    Grissom's right. There's something weird about this entire case... and I don't think that Joey kid is why.

    It was this reasoning that had Nick crawling across the floor, back and forth, over and over again, searching for something, anything they might have missed. Logically, on an off-white carpet, they should have been able to pick up just about everything – it was the perfect color scheme for a CSI to look for clues.

    And so far, he'd not found so much as an extra hair.

    Damn, this is frustrating. Usually Nick liked picking things apart like this. He was fastidious around his own home, a tendency that had come to him from his family of law enforcers... although he believed he might have been just as tidy without the law in his veins. He imagined he might have made a good maid in another life.

    For the fiftieth time, he made his way along the line separating the jacuzzi tile from the carpet. There's gotta be something here. Something... something... something?

    His determined eyes caught on what almost looked like a random piece of lint sticking up from the carpet. He frowned. No, that's not lint.

    He pulled a pair of tweezers from his tool kit and plucked the fuzz away from the floor. The color isn't right. It's not the same shade. He grinned and put the minuscule ball of string into a plastic bag.

    That piece of fuzz could possibly be the one break they needed.


    2:04 p.m.

    Las Vegas Crime Lab

    "I just got a call from Nick, he said he found something else in the room. You paged me?"

    Warrick glanced up at the door, to see Grissom standing there with a curious expression. He nodded. "Yeah. Something to show you. Take a look."

    Grissom approached Warrick's workbench. Warrick offered him a portfolio. "We printed Joey's shoes and Henstridge's. What we got were a pair of Nikes and a pair of alligator boots. When we compared what we printed with what we picked up from the jacuzzi tile, this is what we found."

    Grissom flipped through the pages, then frowned. "The treads for this print look like they have more definition to them."

    "Exactly. When we went back over the tile prints, we noticed a difference in tread quality. So we went over it again. It doesn't just look that way, it is that way."

    Grissom blinked at Warrick. "You're telling me that our guy was wearing the same type and size of shoes Joey was wearing?"

    "Precisely the same type and size. But the tread looks virtually brand-new. The shoe was probably bought within the last few days."

    "This can't be a coincidence," Grissom said. "The killer couldn't have gotten shoes of the same size and type within the last few days by accident." He looked back down at the portfolio. "Someone tried to frame Joey Wheeler for murder."


    © Matt Morwell, 2011

  7. #7
    Written Into A Corner... Cool Trainer
    Cool Trainer
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    Join Date
    May 2011

    Default Evidence of Shadows: Chapter 6 - Avenger

    Chapter 6


    2:22 p.m.

    Las Vegas Crime Lab

    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Joey felt his shoulder being shaken. He squirmed on the cot and slowly opened his brown eyes...

    And looked into the face of quite possibly one of the cutest women he'd ever seen.

    "Whoa. Now dat's a sight I wouldn't mind wakin' up to every now and then."

    Sara smiled down at him. "Hey, there, sleepyhead. Got some good news for you."

    "You mean I won the lottery an' they dropped the legal drinking age in Nevada to 17? I can't wait to visit the bars."

    "Nice try, kiddo. But it looks like you're in the clear."

    He sat up. "Finally found some evidence in my favor, huh? Did the videos bail me out after all?"

    "Actually, no, we didn't get any footage of you. The killer did a good job of covering his tracks, but we tend to do a rather excellent job of uncovering them." She smiled again, as if what she had said carried a special significance. For all Joey knew, it did – but clearly she wasn't going to say anything more on the subject. "You're free to go."

    "Well, in dat case, Miss Sidle..." He stood up and stretched. "Thanks for all your help. An' sorry if I was a little rough on you people. I know you're doin' your best."

    "So do I," she responded, and she winked at him. "Your friends are out in the hall."

    He nodded, then grabbed his jacket and left the room, to see Yugi, Solomon, Téa, and Tristan all waiting anxiously. He offered them a small smile. "Well, guys, looks like I'm home free."

    There was a collective sigh of relief. "Finally, some good news," Téa said.

    "We sure needed it," Tristan added.

    "All right, kids, I think we've had enough excitement for one day," Solomon chuckled. He looked more seriously at Joey. "Please tell me you didn't give the police too much trouble. You know your record better than any of them."

    "Yeah, I know. Don't worry, I didn't try to be a jerk. Dat Brass dude is a tough guy, though. I was tryin' to tell him the story about how we got here in the first place, an'–"

    "Maybe we should continue this elsewhere, I'm sure the CSI's don't appreciate us taking up hall space," Téa remarked, noting an intern struggling to get past the group. "For all we know, we're hindering the investigation."

    "Agreed," said Solomon. He looked to Joey again. "Do you want to go back to the Luxor, or would you prefer somewhere else?"

    "Ehh. Right now, I'm just wantin' to get outta here," Joey answered. "After this trip, I don't think I can say I'm a fan of the Luxor, but I'll take it over this place."


    "Oh, and while we're at it... Tristan, mind if I room with ya? My room's got kind of a stigma to it now."

    Tristan nodded. "Sure. And they wouldn't let you in your old room anyway. It's still a crime scene."

    "Right." Joey suddenly seemed to strike on an idea. "Hey, I'm hungry. Anybody else up for chili dogs?"


    3:41 a.m.

    Room 1203, Luxor Hotel

    Yugi Motou jolted awake, startled by a nightmare. Where am I? he thought wildly.

    In your bedroom, aibou. You're safe.

    At the sound of Yami's voice emanating from the Millennium Puzzle on the bedside table, Yugi knew that what his other half said was true, and he sank back onto his pillow, feeling exhausted.

    The two-bed room was comfortable, there was little doubt of that. When they had first arrived, Yugi and Solomon had been eager to try out the jacuzzi facilities themselves – Solomon had complained of back problems and reasoned the water might be therapeutic. Yugi, on the other hand, just wanted to get in so he could splash around.

    A small smile quirked his lips. Yes, there were times he could act obscenely childish for someone his age. And he was all too well-aware of his own naïveté. But on the other hand, it sometimes proved to be his only escape from the abject cruelty of the world around him. On more than one occasion, he found himself wondering why the world didn't just spontaneously fall apart – the way people acted, one would think planets like this were a dime a dozen.

    For all contemporary science knows, they are, Yami speculated.

    Yugi smiled. Since when have you pondered the wonders of astronomy?

    Since you considered it as a class course. I recall you saying you enjoy the possibilities the subject presents – and the possibilities are limitless. No one need visit the Shadow Realm to understand that fact.

    Yugi nodded. It was true, the possibilities were limitless... but that was a fact that seemed to hinder recent events more than help them.

    He scratched his leg absently; he'd found the black jeans he'd worn that day to still be slightly itchy, even after two cycles through the wash. Despite his friends imploring him to "live a little" and get out of the school uniform he wore even outside the halls of education, the uniform was still among the most comfortable clothes around his modest home. He didn't have all that many to begin with... although his current status as Duel Monsters world champion afforded him some perks, like companies begging him to advertise for them and offering him free stuff. Bribes, of course, but Yugi took them nonetheless, with the understanding that he wasn't obliged to participate in anything – advertising campaigns, seminars, get-togethers with "high society" – if he didn't want to.

    After going through all that clothing and deciding what best suited him, Yugi had eventually decided that the blue-and-white uniform still did him the most justice where comfort was involved... and when he made that decision, Yami had wryly noted he thought he could hear the corporate world facepalming. Yugi paid him no mind in regard to that comment, but when it came time for the trip and Yugi was packing, Yami had insisted that he bring along some of his "alternate" clothing. After all, he had said, you can't wear your uniform every day.

    Why not?

    Because your aroma will become quite pungent if you do.

    Yugi had laughed at that, and acquiesced – hence the pants. He'd still worn one of his favorite sleeveless black shirts, though, and a pair of thick wristbands. And, of course, the buckled collar that kept his neck from chafing under the Millennium Puzzle's silver chain.

    He placed one hand on the Puzzle. We've been through so much, Joey and I. I don't understand why this is happening to him.

    Nor do I, aibou. But I do not believe it is coincidence that we were challenged to duel the day before the murder of Henstridge's father.

    How are the two related?

    A duel is a clash of opposing forces. It is a focal point for combating energies. Where one man dies by the hand of another, that is a focal point of intense emotional energy – the killer overcome by rage, the victim overwhelmed with fear of death. Perhaps the intensity of Joey's duel with Henstridge was enough to drive the killer to do his deed.

    So what're you saying? That Henstridge did it?

    Not necessarily. The killer could have been a spectator, overcome by the energy of the battle. Or perhaps a member of the security force took umbrage at his superior. The incidents do not have to bear direct relation to each other – but the battle of emotional and spiritual forces is all around us. It is manifest in duels. And some duels have been enough to drive even the hardiest of onlookers to tears... or to madness.

    Yugi had to agree, such things had happened before. He and Yami had seen it themselves. Always regrettable, but sometimes unavoidable were the duels that would move people to do some of the things they did. Well, whoever killed Henstridge's father, I hope he's brought to justice.

    As do I, aibou. As do I.

    At least they finally released Joey.
    Yugi sighed. What a strain. He brings us all here to help us stay out of trouble back home – and then this happens. Trouble just wants to follow us wherever we go. I'm beginning to think we'd be better off just sitting in my room all day long...

    And have trouble follow us into it?
    Yami chuckled. I think not. It is not our fault that things happen as they do, Yugi. Things simply happen, and sometimes, all you can do is see them through.

    How do you suggest I see things through this time, then?

    Yami's hesitation was a sign that what he had in mind wasn't exactly going to please his hikari. What is it, Yami?

    We have the other Millennium items with us. Perhaps now would be the time to use them.

    Yugi's gaze darted to the pale blue shoulder bag sitting in the middle of his open suitcase. It had been quite an adventure convincing the customs officers that the Millennium items within that bag weren't dangerous – they had no idea how much of a lie that was – but instead simply lucky charms he brought within him on various trips. They had been particularly suspicious of the Rod, but luckily, they either didn't detect the dagger inside it or didn't care (likely it was the former, as in recent years, the United States had gotten extremely tight with airline security), because they eventually let the items through.

    By using the Millennium items, we may very well be able to discover who the real culprit is.

    And what would we do then? Arrest him?
    Yugi countered. If we find the one who killed Henstridge's father, how are we supposed to present that information to the authorities?

    ...I don't know, honestly. I'm only suggesting one of those limitless possibilities. But perhaps we wouldn't reveal that particular information to the authorities.

    What're you suggesting?

    That we search the culprit's mind with the Millennium Rod,
    Yami answered. If he has killed, perhaps he has committed lesser crimes, as well. Ones more easily traced. Rarely is a man's first sin the murder of another.

    What would we do with the information we obtain?

    We would threaten to use that information against him. But only if he isn't willing to risk exposure.

    And what if he is? What if he chooses to let himself get caught for a lesser crime, so that he can cover up his greater one?

    What do we do then?


    7:09 a.m.

    Solomon Motou slapped at the buzzing alarm for the second time that morning, then rolled over and frowned grumpily at the clock. "You have a perfect method of interrupting a perfect sleep," he mumbled.

    But it was the sight beyond the clock that caused him to pull himself into wakefulness. Yugi was sitting up in bed, looked as though he'd been that way for some time. He was turning the Millennium Puzzle over and over between his fingers. He turned to Solomon and offered a weak smile. "Good morning, ji-chan," he said.

    "Ohh, don't you ji-chan me," Solomon answered. "You're using a falsely cheerful attitude in order to try to hide the fact that you're at a moment of uncertainty."

    Yugi's smile didn't fade, but gained a sad quality to it. "Sometimes I think you know me better than I know myself."

    "Of course I do. I'm your grandfather." Solomon sat up and folded the covers over on his legs. "What's bothering you?"

    Yugi sighed. "There's a decision I have to make. A big one. And whatever decision I make, I'll have to stick with for the rest of my life. So I want to make sure it's the right one."

    Solomon pursed his lips. "Yami wouldn't have put you up to such a decision, now, would he?"

    At that, the Pharaoh's spirit emerged from the Puzzle – clad in Yugi's current clothing, as usual – and seated himself on Yugi's bed next to the hikari. "What makes you think that, Grandfather?" he asked.

    "Well, firstly, you're not answering in your defense. Secondly, Yugi wasn't nearly that somber last night, and there's not a single nightmare I've ever heard of that would force him into making a decision about something."

    "Hmph. He's onto us," Yami muttered.

    "I hadn't noticed," Yugi responded idly.

    Solomon crossed his arms. "So what did you put my grandson up to?"

    "We were discussing the Millennium items," Yugi said, "and how we might be able to use them to find the real killer."

    "I believe it's possible," Yami supplied, "to search out the killer with the combined powers of the Millennium items in our possession. Perhaps we can even bring him to justice."

    The elder man pursed his lips. "I'm not going to tell you I'm happy to hear you're considering this, Yugi... and as for you, Yami, I'm even less happy to hear you suggested it in the first place. I'm well-aware of your vigilant nature, but I've never condoned what you've done to those you've brought your brand of 'justice' down upon. There's a reason investigators like Mr. Grissom are employed – they seek out the evidence and interpret it, so that there's solid proof a killer has killed, or a thief has stolen."

    The yami and hikari looked chastened, but their expressions told Solomon they weren't ready to give up on making that decision yet. He decided to attempt another tack. "Yami, do you have any idea how much worry you cause me when you take my grandson's body on one of your missions of vengeance? When you first manifested, I didn't know what to think. Yugi would leave the house at all hours of the day and night, ostensibly to 'get some air' – but in reality, to call out ruthless brutes twice his size."

    "And Yugi and I have prevailed every time," Yami responded. "If ever I resolved an issue, it was because the honor and integrity of my friends was on the line."

    "I don't deny that your intentions are honorable, but you must understand that you aren't Pharaoh anymore. You cannot fix everything yourself. That isn't how the world works. You must let the evidence tell the story that needs to be told."

    "The evidence can only tell so much," the spirit protested, "and especially in this case, since there was so little of it."

    "There was enough to release Joey on," Solomon pointed out. "And if they have enough evidence to clear Joey's name, then they may soon gather enough to make someone else their prime suspect. We should just move on, until the CSI's decide to contact us again. Perhaps they won't, and we'll be so much the better for it. There are some days I can barely remember what I had for breakfast just after eating lunch, let alone every single activity I've performed for the last three days."

    "Please stop bickering, you two," Yugi interjected. "Ji-chan... tell me this: if there wasn't enough evidence to find him... if using the Millennium items was the only way of finding the killer... what would you choose?"

    "This question is both hypothetical and assumptive, Yugi. I don't think you can expect me to provide a fair response."

    "Please... try."

    Solomon sighed and stroked his beard. "Supposing there wasn't enough evidence to find him... without any concrete proof of his guilt, I don't see how I could bring myself to search him out. I need proof first." He shook his head. "I don't believe I would do this."

    "Not even to find a man who has killed? Who almost certainly will kill again, once he realizes he's capable of getting away with it?" Yami asked.

    "It's not my place to punish a man for the crimes he's committed," Solomon responded. "I don't believe it's Yugi's place, either, nor yours."

    "Grandfather, I disagree. The killer has trespassed on Joey's soul for attempting to make everyone think he murdered that man in cold blood. You know that trespass on my soul and the souls of my friends is something I cannot abide."

    "Yes, I do know that. And what you need to learn is that although you are angry, you cannot take matters into your own hands. It's not only immoral, it's illegal."

    "What kind of world has laws that protect a murderer from punishment?"

    "A world that judges all its inhabitants innocent until proven otherwise."

    "You're bickering again." Yugi turned to both of them, looking very tired. "Is there any advice you can give me to help me make my choice, ji-chan?"

    Solomon shook his head. "No, Yugi. I have told you my opinion, and that is all I can tell you. There is nothing I can say that will help you in your decision. But know this: whatever decision you make, you are still my grandson. I love you and I will stand by you."

    Yugi turned the Puzzle over again, contemplating his grandfather's words, and then looped the chain over his head and around his neck. He looked to Yami. "Come with me. I want to talk with the others about this."

    "They won't be able to help you make your decision, either, Yugi," said Solomon. "You have to make it yourself."

    Yugi wordlessly looked his elder directly in the eye – and Solomon was struck by the determination in his grandson's violet gaze. He remembered seeing that same look in the mirror, many years ago, the day he'd chosen to give up his life of archaeology, excitement, and adventure to become a small business owner.

    At that moment, he knew that Yugi wasn't going to visit the others because he wanted help making his decision.

    He had already made it.


    7:25 a.m.

    Room 1205, Luxor Hotel

    "I'll tell you one thing, Yug: I wouldn't mind seein' the killer behind bars. But I dunno how you plan on puttin' him there."

    Yugi, Yami, and Joey were sitting on the beds, Téa in one of the corner chairs. Tristan was perched on the edge of his room's jacuzzi. All of them had just listened to Yugi's and Yami's intentions regarding the murderer still on the loose.

    Joey continued. "What makes you think he's even still here in Las Vegas? For all we know, he coulda hightailed it outta here once he whacked the guy."

    "If he isn't in this city, then the effort to find him will come to nothing, and we'll stop looking for him," Yami responded reasonably. "But I think he is still here, somewhere."

    "How're you gonna find him?" Tristan asked, just as reasonably. "Las Vegas is one of the world's largest cities. A lot of bad things happen here. I'll bet there're hundreds of deaths in this area every year, a good percentage of those being murder. How are you gonna weed out the guy you want?"

    "And for that matter, what makes us all think the killer is even a guy?" Téa inquired.

    "Nothing," Yugi responded promptly, "but we'll cross the Rubicon when we come to it. Is that the saying?"

    She giggled in spite of herself. "I think you mean 'cross that bridge'."

    "Oh." He blushed. "Never mind, then."

    Yami smiled at his hikari, but the smile vanished just as quickly as it had appeared. He looked at Tristan. "I'm sure you're right in that there are many murders here. Nevertheless, I believe we can isolate the man – person we are looking for." He glanced at Téa, who seemed mollified by the altered noun.

    "How's that?" Tristan scoffed. "It's not like he left his calling card."

    "Actually, he may have," Yugi offered. "Isis Ishtar looked into the future with the Millennium Tauk during her duel with Kaiba, and she predicted almost every move."

    "Almost being the operative word," Joey mumbled.

    "The Tauk doesn't just show its wearer the future, it can show the past, too. We think it's possible to use the Tauk's power to show us what took place at the time of Gordon Henstridge's death. Then, we can use the other items to seek out the person who has those events on his or her mind."

    "Tell me you're not gonna go pickin' through the guy's head with the Millennium Rod." Joey winced. "No offense, but I really don't like dat thing."

    Téa tried to avoid an identical wince, but failed to cover her apprehension. "Neither do I. I know it's safe with you, but it reminds me too much of Marik. No offense."

    "None taken, but it's necessary to use all four Millennium items at our disposal to pinpoint the killer," Yami answered. A grim smile passed across his features. "Would you like to be warned when we begin the search?"

    "Yes, please," Joey and Téa chorused.

    Yugi smiled easily at his three friends. "Don't worry. All four items are in good hands. We only want to use them to help."

    "Yugi... one thing's bugging me, something Joey mentioned earlier. What are you going to do with the killer once you've caught them? If you catch them at all?" Téa asked. "It still isn't clear to me how you're going to get this person to go to prison. I doubt they'll go quietly."

    "If they don't, then we'll do what we've always done with people who've trespassed on our souls." Yugi looked up at his darker self.

    Yami's face was set with grim determination.

    "We'll play a game."


    © Matt Morwell, 2011

  8. #8
    Written Into A Corner... Cool Trainer
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    May 2011

    Default Evidence of Shadows: Chapter 7 - Night Terror

    Chapter 7
    Night Terror


    10:13 a.m.

    Las Vegas Crime Lab

    Las Vegas, Nevada

    "Go over it again."

    "There's no point in going over it again, boss. I've been over it until I got circles under my circles."

    "You mean, whatever poor schmuck you passed it off to got circles under his circles, right, Greg?"

    "It was a she, and contrary to the definition of the word 'schmuck', she is extremely competent and an expert on casino cheating. She was at security control of the Bellagio casino for four years, and she didn't pick up a single sign that Mr. Motou was cheating."

    "Mr. Motou said Henstridge accused him of reading the card shuffles and then saying the positions to himself."

    "His lips weren't moving. Looks like Henstridge just wanted an excuse to get Motou into the back room."

    Grissom leaned back in his chair. "No doubt to bait Yugi into coming for him. He probably figured Mr. Motou would put up a fight over the money."

    "I do have to admit, Mr. Motou showed rather uncanny ability in feeling the cards out. Which ones were good, which ones were bad – but if he was cheating, our expert didn't see it. And if she can't see it, I'll stake my reputation that Simon Henstridge didn't see it, either."

    "...Greg, your reputation isn't noteworthy enough to stake on that claim."

    "Exactly." Greg smirked. "So I don't have much to lose, do I?"

    "If I were you, I wouldn't take pride in that. Getting back to the subject at hand, now we know for a fact Henstridge was falsely accusing Mr. Motou of cheating."

    "Which gets us where, exactly?"

    Grissom cocked his head, looking ready to tell Greg to beat it... but then he thought better of it and decided to indulge his subordinate. "Henstridge was desperate enough to get a duel with Yugi that he threatened to kick them all out of the Luxor on a fake charge. That shows he's both immoral and irrational – if you met your idol, wouldn't you want to treat him with the most respect possible, to have a greater chance of getting what you want from him?"

    "Not necessarily," said Greg, sounding uncharacteristically thoughtful. "If it were me, I'd want to make sure I treated him like every other customer. Surely as a celebrity, he gets enough attention as it is. I figure he'd enjoy some semblance of normalcy in his life."

    "But Yugi's not used to his status. If the hotel coddles him, he might be more likely to send his compliments to the management and what-have-you. It's a game of trade. Besides, it's common sense to treat your guests, especially your big-name ones, with dignity and respect, because it secures their repeat business and a glowing review of your hospitality."

    "So now we've confirmed Simon Henstridge is irrational and immoral." Greg draped his arms behind his back and rocked on his heels. "Aside from his missing hair and his zealous overprotection of his hands, how have we identified that he's any different from the rest of humanity?"

    Grissom blinked. "His zealous overprotection of his hands?" he repeated.

    "Yeah. The tapes of him touring through the casino show him wearing these white cotton gloves at all times. Most people who offered him a handshake didn't get one from him. He just kinda nodded at them and kept going. Got a few customers a little pissy, too."

    Grissom's brow was now etched with a deep frown. "Wearing gloves, won't shake hands... and carrying an autoimmune disease..."

    "Sounds like a recipe for paranoia to me," Greg noted.

    Grissom nodded in agreement. "But maybe even more than that. It almost sounds like Simon Henstridge... is a hypochondriac." His brow rose.

    "You say that like it'll help the case."

    "Nick found a fiber of some sort at the crime scene. What color was it, and what was it made of?"

    Comprehension dawned on Greg's face. "Off-white cotton."

    Grissom was already out of his chair.


    11:07 a.m.

    Las Vegas Crime Lab

    "You didn't shake my hand."

    Simon Henstridge raised an eyebrow. "I beg your pardon?"

    "You didn't shake my hand. You're not trying to be inhospitable, are you?" Grissom cocked his head at the middle-aged businessman.

    "Not at all," Henstridge replied. He smiled awkwardly at his glove-covered hands; the gloves appeared to be made of a cream-colored leather. "I'm just... I don't much like touching people, that's all."

    "Maybe not, but you shook hands at one point."

    "I'm sorry?"

    "When you met with Solomon Motou the first time, at the blackjack table. The tapes show you shaking his hand. You not only shook his hand, you were the one that offered it."

    "Well, that's different. I was greeting him, he wasn't greeting me."

    "When you greeted other people on the casino tapes, you simply nodded at them to acknowledge their presence. Why shake an old man's hand? You know how many transmittable germs he might be carrying?"

    "Too many to count, I'm sure," Henstridge replied, "and I'll probably regret it later. In fact, I think I'm developing a cold. You might want to keep your distance."

    "I think I'll be fine," Grissom replied dryly. "Mr. Henstridge, are you aware of a condition known as hypochondriasis?"

    "I ought to, I suffer from it," was Henstridge's answer. "Always have. I've been overly fastidious since I was five years old. That was when my hair started falling out. I think I have my father to thank for that..." He looked down at his shoes. "That, and a great many other things."

    "Alopecia isn't genetic."

    "No, but for a long time, it was the only way I could explain such a premature loss to myself. Once I realized it was a sickness, I started being as clean as humanly possible... and, well... you see what's resulted."

    "Yes, I do. Mr. Henstridge, I was wondering if I might take some samples from your gloves."

    "May I ask why?"

    "We found some fibers at the scene of the crime and on the victim, and we're making sure we can match them all in our process of elimination," Grissom replied. "You were probably in close contact with your father at some point or another that day, am I right?"

    Henstridge nodded. "I was. I've always been close to him. Strong family ties. One of the few people I wasn't afraid to touch."

    "I see. In that case, all I'm looking to do is eliminate some errant fibers that we haven't yet been able to identify as belonging to anyone."

    The businessman considered, then nodded. "Okay. Can you do it now?"

    "That's why I'm here." Grissom pulled a pair of tweezers and several small evidence bags from his pocket.


    12:22 p.m.

    "No match."

    Grissom frowned. "What?"

    "I said no match." Nick's tone was adamant. "The cotton fiber didn't come from his gloves."

    "That's impossible."

    "Apparently not. Consistency's not the same. And the fiber I picked up had traces of antimicrobial residue. This stuff doesn't." Nick retreated from the microscope. "Look, if you wanna see for yourself..."

    "No. I trust you."

    "If that's true, why do you keep questioning my findings? For that matter, why do you keep questioning everyone around here about everything involving this case?"

    "Because there's something not right about all this." Grissom turned toward the door. "I don't know what it is. I can't explain it. But Simon Henstridge is hiding something, and he's hiding something big, and it's hindering this investigation."

    Nick's expression was one of exasperation. "Look, Grissom, we're here because we're good at what we do. But if you keep applying your own conclusions to the case, all you're doing is wasting your time and ours. We can check this stuff over and over again and it's just gonna yield the same results. You keep telling us the evidence is the one thing we can count on to tell the truth. And the truth is that the samples you got from Simon Henstridge's gloves do not match the fiber I picked up."

    Grissom heaved a sigh. "Sorry, Nick. You're right." Then something dawned on him. "Wait a minute. You said there were traces of soap on the fiber you found?"

    "Yeah, antimicrobial. And there wasn't any on the glove samples."

    "Henstridge is a hypochondriac. He would have washed his gloves before wearing them..." Grissom frowned. "Except the ones he was wearing were leather."

    "Fake leather, according to this analysis, but yeah. Tough to wash even fake leather gloves with antibacterial soap." Nick realized from the look on Grissom's face that his boss might be on to something. "What? What is it?"

    Grissom turned and left the lab, muttering something. It sounded to Nick like he'd said, "I've got some videos to watch."


    6:42 p.m.

    Room 1203, Luxor Hotel

    Are you ready to do this?

    Only if you're ready, aibou.

    Yugi took a deep, calming breath, and nodded. I'm ready.

    Then let's begin.

    Yugi was physically alone in the bedroom. The others had gone to Tristan's room, where they would spend the evening in quiet civility, purposely ignorant of Yugi's self-appointed mission. He thought he could hear the television relaying a sitcom episode to his friends and grandfather, but he paid it no heed.

    Yugi was sitting on his knees. He'd donned new clothes for this occasion – now he wore a pair of deceptively comfortable dark jeans, as well as a fresh sleeveless black shirt and his favorite wrist bands. In opposition to his usual fashion statement, however, he was not wearing his buckled collar. He would not need it tonight.

    The four Millennium items in his possession surrounded him as four points of a square, each painstakingly placed for easy access without Yugi needing to budge a centimeter more than he needed to. The boy's violet eyes were closed in silent meditation.

    Now he opened his eyes, slowly. The room's lights were all shut off, but the illumination of the strip insistently pushed past the poor filtration of the curtains and cast an eerie golden glow over the dwelling's features.

    Yugi reached out, looped his fingers through the silver chain that encircled the Millennium Puzzle's eyebolt. He picked it up slowly, and then carefully slipped the chain over his head and around his exposed neck. He closed his eyes again, ready to merge with his darker self and become whole.

    Light pulsed softly from the Eye of Horus adorning the front of the Puzzle.

    No longer was it simply Yugi or simply Yami performing the actions. It was both of them at once, as one person, together, as they had meant to be. It was they who opened their eyes as one, inspected the triangle of remaining Millennium items, and reached to the next on their agenda – the Millennium Tauk.

    As carefully as Yugi had placed the Puzzle, so too did they take their time to secure the Millennium Tauk's golden band about their neck, underneath the links of the Puzzle's chain. With a simple click of the clasp, they had access now to both the past and the future.

    And they saw...

    "The guest in this room was complaining about the various facilities, the jacuzzi in particular. He insisted that a manager take care of it personally."

    "I don't have time to inspect each and every room in this whole damned hotel. That business is for the main lobby, not the owner."

    "Still, he was quite insistent. His name is Joey Wheeler, he's a VIP."

    "...bloody hell, you should have told me so. That's different, that is." The older man sighed. "All right, I'll take a look."

    On his way to the 12th floor, he is met by someone else.

    They could not identify the person, save that it was male – the Tauk refused to let them see his face. "I heard about some trouble with one of our VIP's."

    "Yes, one Joey Wheeler. You're familiar with the name, aren't you?"

    "Yes, I've heard it in passing." They share a moment of laughter. "Let's see what has our guest so malcontent, shall we?"

    "I suppose we shall." They enter the room. "The lower management said Mr. Wheeler was complaining particularly about his jacuzzi." He moves further into the room and inspects the tub. "It's on full blast. Maybe he just doesn't know how to operate it, eh? What're you doing back there?"

    "Grabbing a pen and paper to let him know the management was here personally."

    "Ah. I like your sneakers, by the way. Interesting choice. Decided it was Casual Tuesday, all of a sudden?"

    "What can I say? I like to live a little."

    A snicker from the older man. "Plenty of opportunity to do that yet." He turns. "Well, I suppose the least I can do is shut the damn jacuzzi off, anyway – ugh!"

    The unidentified person chooses that moment to make his attack. The lamp is already unplugged – he had plotted this carefully – and he grabs it and delivers a devastating blow to the back of the older man's head. The sound of the man's skull fracturing is audible.

    They cringed in sheer revulsion.

    "You've gotta see stuff like that coming, old man. Subterfuge from every side. You're too frail. Looks like your services aren't really needed anymore." He tosses the lamp carelessly to the bed, for he will replace it on the bedside table after he is finished, and he begins to shove the older man to the jacuzzi.

    The older man resists, starts to turn around despite the blood flowing from his wounded scalp. The attacker grabs the older man's left arm and spins him around. Again, the sound of bone crunching is heard.

    They again winced, but there was nothing they could do – they were locked into the vision until the deed was complete.

    "Just die quietly, old man," the attacker rasps, and holds the older man against the lip of the jacuzzi. The attacker firmly grabs the back of the older man's neck, and with that iron grip, shoves his head underneath the roiling water's surface. The older man's screams are stifled by the water, but nevertheless can be heard as his entire head is subjected to searing hot temperatures.

    The attacker does not let go, either of the older man's arm or neck – if anything, the screams spur him to grip even harder, apply even more pressure to the older man. The older man flails, but there is little he can do in his position.

    Slowly, his energy ebbs. His limbs begin to slacken. He has run out of air, and all that will enter his mouth and nose is scalding water.

    They could almost see his soul leaving his body... doomed to be forever in torment, until the extraction of vengeance.

    As if to add further insult to injury, the attacker takes time to heave the older man's entire torso into the water. He then picks up the lamp, inspects it for a moment, then places it back on the bedside table.

    And lastly, he looks at his white hands. They steam with the kiss of boiling water.

    Ironically, they are both soiled with the burden of killing... and for the first time in the attacker's life, they are clean.

    They returned to the hotel room, their vision clearing. They took several calming breaths. Though they were not strangers to death, this was the first time they had ever seen murder through the eye of the Millennium Tauk.

    Their gaze drifted to the next item they would need – the Millennium Ring. Unlike the Puzzle, this item still bore an ancient rope as its necklace. The irony did not escape them that for one Ryou Bakura, this item had borne a chain greater than any dungeon master could conjure. It was with even greater care than they had shown for the previous two items that they placed the Ring's noose around their neck. They held the Ring gingerly, and spoke in unison.

    "Millennium Ring... show us where such evil as this lies."

    It was impossible for a Millennium item to refuse a direct command from its owner. Nevertheless, the Millennium Ring had a history of stubbornness all its own that made it stand out from all the rest; thus a long moment passed before it obeyed the directive they had given it. But it did obey; as they held it in the manner of a large compass, the five spokes adorning its lower half jingled ominously, then glowed and pulled downward and towards the lower interior of the hotel, as if attracted by some great magnetic force.

    Their left hand dropped to their side, while their right held the still-pointing Ring. Their left hand reached out and grasped the last of their items, the Millennium Rod. Only a moment of doubt flashed between them before they reasserted themselves – they were set on achieving this task, and they would use the Millennium Rod to help them do it.

    Slowly and carefully, they held up the Rod, reached out alongside the pointing spokes of the Ring, and focused their energies into the dangerous totem.

    They saw a mother, trying to keep her children from stealing candy.

    They saw an old woman putting yet another nickel in the slot machine.

    They saw two gentlemen conversing with each other about the corporate world.

    And they saw...

    They saw... him.

    So. It was a man, after all.

    They didn't want to believe he was capable of such a brutal, aggressive, insane act – but they already knew better, as they probed deeper and deeper into his mind. They wanted to stop, but oh, they wanted to continue... they needed to stop, but they only needed a little more...


    The sheer force of the command ripped them apart, and suddenly they were not one, but two. They were no longer able to maintain control over all four items. For they were no longer one.

    They were no longer whole.

    But even as two, they still had one purpose.

    They would bring him to justice.


    6:49 p.m.

    Ground Level Casino VIP Room, Luxor Hotel

    Simon Henstridge smiled easily at his guests. "Would anyone like a beverage? Or a snack, perhaps?" He waved over an eager waiter.

    His guests – indeed, his very bread and butter – were movie stars, world-famous musicians... everyone and everything a successful businessman could hope to pull into his humble establishment. He could not be happier for the Luxor's business.

    "Simon, I was so sorry to hear about your father. Have they made any arrests yet?"

    Simon's expression knit into a frown. "By rights, they should have, but they've cleared their prime suspect of any wrongdoing. Actually, I'm beginning to think they have their eye on me."

    A collective gasp rose from the table. "That can't be right!" "How could they think you would ever do something like that to your own father?" "They must have cleared their suspect a little too early..." "Surely there's someone else they suspect!"

    It was at that moment an assistant approached Simon. "Mr. Henstridge, you have a personal call from your broker?"

    "Huh. I was just thinking about him. Ladies and gentlemen, if you'll excuse me, I'll be back in just a few moments." He rose and approached the bar, where a phone connected to the private line was already waiting for him. He picked up the receiver. "Frank, this is an–"

    "–unusual hour to call, but you're always eager to find out how the Cayman account is doing. You want to know about the interest rate climb for this year. And you know this isn't really your broker, but you're curious as to how I knew exactly what you were thinking. No, I'm not one of those hack mind-readers you see on television."

    Simon opened his mouth to ask a question, but the voice on the other end intercepted it. "Don't bother asking who this is; names aren't important right now, but you already knew that was going to be my answer. Likewise, you know I have something on you, otherwise I wouldn't be calling you right now. You're perceptive.

    "I know you framed Joey Wheeler for the murder of your father. You purchased the same type and size of shoes he brought with him from Japan to link his shoeprints to the crime. Your reason for the frame was revenge on him for defeating you in a duel in front of a crowd, and for blocking your goal of dueling against the King of Games himself. But you've wanted your father dead a long time now, because you wanted the glory of handling the Luxor on your own. You just wanted the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Don't hang up yet, I'm getting to the good part.

    "I also know you've been embezzling money from the Luxor by tampering with end-of-day tallies for the past five years. It's only been a little bit here, a little bit there... not enough to be noticeable, because with the money you pull in every day, a few hundred dollars is even less than a drop in the ocean. No, this isn't Solomon Motou, although he did have a point when making that analogy Monday afternoon. You should have let him keep his money without any fuss. You might not be in this much trouble otherwise.

    "As I was saying, you've been taking money that isn't yours and dumping it into an account in the Cayman Islands. In fact, you were planning to withdraw some of the money in that account this coming Saturday, because your daughter's birthday is Saturday. It's also the tenth-year anniversary of your wife's death due to childbirth complications. You're planning to take your daughter out to a private horse ranch and buy her the pony she's always wanted – a white purebred. And this really isn't a good time to think about running from the law, because the getaway car you're thinking about using has a license plate number. Shall I read it to you, or have you taken my point?"

    "You've made your point painstakingly obvious," Simon hissed, his heart racing. "What is it you want from me?"

    "I want to play a game, and unless you're willing to risk exposure of all that information to the authorities within the next five minutes, you're going to play it with me. You'll meet me outside 'The Search for the Obelisk' with your Duel Monsters deck and the two duel disks you keep hidden in the second drawer down on the right side of your office desk for private play with your daughter. If only she knew her father's crimes. Five minutes. And don't bother bringing that suitcase of money you're considering, either. Bribes don't work on the vengeful."

    The other end of the line clicked, signaling the end of the call.

    Bullets of perspiration formed on Simon's forehead; he grabbed napkins from a nearby dispensed and dabbed at the sweat. He checked his watch.

    Not enough time to run. Not even enough time to breathe. He raced out of the VIP room and bolted for his office.

    He had only one chance.

    He had to play the game.


    © Matt Morwell, 2011

  9. #9
    Written Into A Corner... Cool Trainer
    Cool Trainer
    mattbcl's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011

    Default Evidence of Shadows: Chapter 8 - Vengeance Unleashed

    Chapter 8
    Vengeance Unleashed


    6:52 p.m.

    'The Search for the Obelisk' Entrance, Luxor Hotel

    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Simon Henstridge had made it from the VIP room to his office to the Obelisk entrance in record time. He clumsily clutched the pair of duel disks he carried to his chest, his deck inserted into one of them. Whoever this guy is, he wants to play a game of Duel Monsters with me. Good thing I spiced up my deck... but who knows? Maybe winning against him won't be enough to shut him up.

    His teeth ground against each other as he turned this way and that, eyes darting across the faces of nameless people in the crowd. He wouldn't have made me do all that, just to back out... would he? He certainly hoped not – because if so, then he had just jumped through all these hoops for nothing.

    Maybe he's already called the cops on me. Maybe the duel disks in my arms are supposed to be identification marks of some kind. I'm marked, that's got to be it – the duel disks make me easy to spot.

    But just as the inclination to drop them welled up into his mind, he suddenly had the distinct impression he was being watched. He whipped around to confront the eyes that spied him–

    And unexpectedly met the gaze of Yugi Motou.

    Simon frowned. This was most definitely Yugi, but there was something different about him. Several somethings, in fact, foremost being his change of attire from his favored school uniform into more comfortable – and more ominous-looking – black pants and shirt. What wasn't black glinted silver and gold; Simon counted two large golden pendants, including the pyramid-shaped one that was Yugi's signature, plus a gold choker. And there was a golden scepter hanging in one of Yugi's belt loops.

    But his attire wasn't the only thing that was different. Yugi looked... taller, somehow, than Simon recalled seeing him at their first meeting. And it wasn't because of the hair, either... but as to that, Simon knew that Yugi had a few blond locks at the fore of his hairline; oddly enough, he didn't remember seeing the lightning bolt formations stretching along the wide frontal spikes. And the eyes that Simon recalled as purple were glinting a more maroon shade. Not only that, but those eyes... they were not the eyes of the innocent boy Simon had met only three days ago. These eyes were deep, dark, and contemplative.

    And angry.

    No, not just angry. Furious. As though the rage of the devil himself had taken hold of the boy.

    If it was possible, Simon was now even more terrified. He had gotten his share of dirty looks from people before – it was part of the business, of course – but never had he seen such a stare of hatred and contempt before. It was all the more frightening that Yugi was normally a quiet and peaceful type. For him to be angry–

    And then Simon realized why.

    It was Yugi. He was the one who called me. The sound of the caller's voice had sounded deeper, more adult, more developed, but now that he gave thought to it, this boy and the caller were indeed one and the same.

    He approached Yugi cautiously, tried to offer him a polite smile. "Yugi Motou?" he tried.

    Yugi didn't let him get any further than that. "Put an end to your act, or I'll put an end to you. You have no idea the suffering you've caused others in your greed."

    "I've also no idea what proof you have that I caused any suffering at all," he responded. "How do I know you're not just grasping at straws, trying to get me to incriminate myself?"

    "You have some interesting idioms at your disposal, Mr. Henstridge, but I have names and numbers at mine. If you'd like, I can simply shout them to everyone within listening range. I'm sure somebody would be interested to know about all that pilfered money you keep in your Cayman account. If not the authorities, then someone with as much greed and as little morality as you."

    "Let's not be hasty," Simon quickly replied – amazed, in spite of himself, at the sheer boldness in Yugi's tone. "You said you wanted to play a game. I take it from the duel disks, you want to play a game of Duel Monsters."

    "Your greatest desire is to duel the King of Games. You now have that opportunity. I suggest you take it while it's still available to you for the next..." Yugi consulted a nearby clock. "...thirty-eight seconds. Otherwise, our business here will be concluded, and you will most decidedly be out of a job."

    "It's obvious what you intend to do if I lose. What will you do if I win?"

    "It is your honor and integrity at stake here, Mr. Henstridge, not mine. If you win our duel, I will forget this entire exchange, and you may continue with your despicable life at your discretion, content with the knowledge that you have conquered a world champion." Yugi looked at the clock again. "Eleven seconds. What is your answer?"

    Simon's teeth were grinding again. If there was one thing he detested above all else, it was being manipulated. But he couldn't refuse the duel just for the sake of his own pride. If he went to prison, he wouldn't even have that anymore.

    "Well, I had hoped that a duel between you and me would be under better circumstances," he finally said. "But considering the present situation... I don't really have any choice but to accept."

    "You always have a choice. Whether or not you like the available options is a different matter entirely." Yugi held his hand out, evidently ready to accept the spare duel disk in Simon's possession.

    Simon scowled. He was ready, too. Ready to drop this charade and just get on with it. He shoved the duel disk in Yugi's direction. "I suppose you'll want to duel here, then."

    "Yes, Mr. Henstridge, right here, in full view of everyone. Here, you will either crown yourself as the new King of Games... or you will fall before your peers." Yugi mounted the duel disk on his left arm, secured it, and inserted his deck.

    Simon donned his own duel disk, his deck already inside. He stared at his opponent for a moment – Yugi showed no interest in mercy for the businessman. In all honesty, Simon had neither expected it, nor wanted it. If he was to duel the King of Games, they would both have to give it their all.

    Slowly, deliberately, he removed the gloves that protected his hands... the ones that he had kept from the investigators, who he knew would ask him about them... and showed his bare palms to Yugi.

    "The kid gloves are off now," he snarled.

    And the boy's only response was a smirk.

    The split panels of their duel disks snapped together and swung into place. Their Life Point counters lit up at 4000.

    The duel was on.


    Las Vegas Crime Lab

    Everyone had congregated in the break room upon urging from Grissom... so of course it naturally followed that he was the last one to arrive, looking as eager as his grim features would allow him to look. Nick and Sara had been eating sandwiches when Warrick, Brass, and Greg had all shuffled into the room, almost at the same time – prompting the hungry CSI's to stow it for a few moments and ready their results.

    Grissom approached the head of the table, looked around at his comrades, and announced, "Simon Henstridge has been lying to us from the beginning."

    "So what else is new?" Nick responded.

    Grissom ignored the remark. "I looked over the security tapes the hotel provided, starting from last Friday's recordings. What I found were clips of Simon Henstridge visiting the various customers in the casino. As a hypochondriac, of course he didn't shake anybody's hand and wore gloves. Even on walkthroughs with his father, he kept his hands entirely to himself."

    "So...?" Warrick asked.

    "He told me that he and his father had always been close, and that his father was one person he wasn't afraid to touch. Yet whenever his father clapped him on the back or even did so much as touch his arm, he winced – as though he was giving his son the plague. This didn't happen on just one occasion, it happened on several, and across a period of three days." Grissom raised an eyebrow at his co-workers.

    "Grissom, I hope you have more on Henstridge than just a lie or two," Brass wryly commented. "People don't like lies, but a majority of them don't go to jail for doing it."

    I do, actually. The samples I picked up from his gloves didn't match the fiber that Nick found, but after careful examination of the videos, I don't think he was wearing his normal gloves when I obtained the samples. I think he switched them."

    "How's that?" Sara inquired.

    "The gloves he was wearing at the time were fake leather. Those can be pretty thick, and hinder movement of the fingers and hands underneath. Henstridge would need to be dextrous. His fingers had much more definition under the camera than a glove like that would allow. Simply put, the gloves he was wearing on Monday don't match the ones he's wearing today. I think he switched them so that they couldn't match when I went to inspect them."

    "Back up a sec," said Nick. "You said Henstridge is a hypochondriac. If that fiber is from one of his gloves, then it means he was in the room, right behind his father – it couldn't have just brushed off the father's clothes if they were as distant as you say."

    "And if he was right behind his father, that makes him suspect number one," Brass supplemented.

    "That's a big 'if'," Warrick noted.

    Grissom looked to Brass. "It's speculation at best, but can you get a warrant for his mansion on that 'if'?"

    "I don't know. It's not a toenail, it's a fiber. It could have come off of just about anyone's clothes."

    "True. But Henstridge's condition kicks in again – the fiber is coated with liquid antibacterial soap. How many people do you know who do that?"

    Brass' reply was a simple shrug. "If we can't get a warrant, we can at least go down to the Luxor and ask him for the gloves he was wearing."

    Grissom nodded. "If it doesn't apply to him, he's off the suspect list... but I think we're going to find a match. And if we do, then we have our killer."


    'The Search for the Obelisk' Entrance, Luxor Hotel

    Yami kept his eye on Henstridge as they both drew their opening hands of five cards. "Since you were so eager to duel me, you may as well go first."

    "How sporting of you," Henstridge responded. He drew. "First, I summon Gravekeeper's Cannonholder (1400/1200) in attack mode." The monster that appeared was, as with the other Gravekeepers Henstridge had displayed in his duel with Joey, clad in black spellcaster's robes. This one bore what looked to be an ancient Japanese dragon cannon. "Then I place three spell/trap cards face-down, and end my turn."

    Yami drew and only needed peruse his hand for a moment. "I summon Gazelle, the King of Mythical Beasts (1500/1200) in attack mode!" he announced. The creature looked like a horse/lion hybrid; it growled hungrily. "Gazelle, attack Gravekeeper's Cannonholder!"

    "Activate Spirit Barrier!" Henstridge quickly responded, and the center trap card on his field flipped face-up. "While this card is active, battle damage to my Life Points is cancelled as long as I have a monster on my field."

    And indeed, although Gazelle's swiping claws made short work of the spellcaster, Henstridge's Life Points remained unaffected by the play. Yami scowled. "Then I'll have to make sure you don't keep monsters on your field. I place two magic/trap cards face-down and end my turn."

    "I draw." Henstridge didn't delay. "I play one monster face-down and end my turn."

    Yami slipped the next card off the top of his deck. "I summon Oppressed People (400/2000) in defense mode." A cadre of miniature citizens appeared next to the comparatively gargantuan Gazelle. "Now, Gazelle, attack his face-down monster!"

    But when the beast raced forward and swiped its claws at the holographic face-down monster card, it was repulsed. Another dark-robed spellcaster appeared, this one larger and more muscular than any of Henstridge's previous ones.

    "You've revealed my Gravekeeper's Guard (1000/1900)," Henstridge announced, "and when so revealed, he allows me to return one monster on the field to its owner's hand. I choose your Gazelle as the target."

    Yami pulled his Gazelle card off the duel disk and back into his hand, frowning as his Life Points dropped to 3600. "In that case, I end my turn."

    Henstridge drew. "I play the spell card Book of Moon," he declared, "which allows me to flip one monster on the field into face-down defense mode. So say goodbye to my Guard for now – but expect to see him again in the near future. That's all for now." The hologram of the dark spellcaster vanished and was replaced by the face-down card from whence it had come.

    "My move, then," said Yami, drawing as he spoke. "And I play the spell card Dark Hole, which destroys all monsters on the field."

    With that play, a black hole appeared in the center of the playing field; it drew both Yami's Oppressed People and Henstridge's face-down Guard into its swirling maw, then vanished from view.

    "Next, I recall my King of Mythical Beasts to the field in attack mode!" Again, Gazelle's imposing form graced one of the monster zones of Yami's holographic playing field. "Now, Gazelle, attack his Life Points directly!"

    "Not quite," Henstridge snapped, "but you get an A for effort. I activate the trap card Raigeki Break – which lets me destroy your monster for the paltry price of one card from my hand."

    The moment Henstridge placed his chosen card in his graveyard slot, his trap card took effect, and holographic lightning struck down Yami's Gazelle. A wrinkle creased the former pharaoh's brow, but he said nothing save for, "Your move."

    Henstridge drew his next card. "I play Gravekeeper's Descendant (1500/1200) in attack mode."

    The new monster was as ominously clad as his brethren, wrapped in cloaks of black, but he was blond, wore a dark smirk on his face, and carried a rod in his right hand, reminding Yami a little too much of Marik.

    "Gravekeeper's Descendant, attack Yugi's Life Points!"

    Yami had always found both amusement and annoyance in the fact that virtually no one seemed to take notice that he wasn't Yugi – Yugi, on the other hand, found it merely to be a useful tool. If they didn't know who they really faced, how could they claim to understand how his mind worked... or how capable he was in a Duel Monsters match?

    In any event, he had prepared for the possibility of an attack, and he made that clear, even as Vassal came soaring through the air to strike him. "Activate Waboku!" he countered. "This will prevent my Life Points from being damaged this turn."

    Henstridge scowled at having been foiled. "End turn."

    Yami drew, then said, "I play the magic card Soul Exchange, which lets me tribute your monster in favor of a stronger one for myself. Then I sacrifice your Descendant to summon Jack's Knight (1900/1000) in attack mode!"

    Descendant vanished in a haze of blue light, which then bolted over to Yami's field and reformed itself into the image of a noble blond warrior bearing a silver sword. True, it was weak in comparison to some of Yami's other higher-level monsters, but with his current hand, he couldn't admit to having much to work with. Besides, he thought, it's more powerful than most Gravekeeper monsters. He continued. "Due to the effect of Soul Exchange, however, I can't attack this turn, so it's your move now."

    Henstridge harrumphed. "Thanks for the reprieve. I play one monster in face-down defense mode and place one card face-down. Back to you, King of Games."

    "Such contempt will be your downfall." Yami drew his next card. "Jack's Knight, attack his face-down monster!"

    Henstridge was actually smiling grimly as Jack's Knight brought its sword down upon his monster card – which flipped over and revealed a dull gray pot with a glowing red eye and devilish grin set inside. "You've just triggered the special effect of my Morphing Jar (700/500). Now we have to discard every card in our hands and draw five new cards from our decks."

    Yami noted that Henstridge had no cards to get rid of – he'd placed his entire hand on the field last turn. Wordlessly, he discarded the three cards his hand had provided him, and both men drew their next five in unison. "Since I haven't brought a monster to the field yet, I'll do so now – the Mystical Elf (800/2000) in defense mode." The new monster was a beautiful and delicate blue-skinned elf whose eyes were closed and hands were clasped, lips moving in a never-ending prayer. "Then I place one card face-down and end my turn."

    Henstridge sneered at Yami as he drew. "I notice you haven't yet managed to score an attack on my Life Points," he said.

    "Contemptuous and cocky. No, this isn't a good combination at all." Yami looked around and smirked. "I wonder if our spectators appreciate the respect you're showing me, were they in my place. Personally, I find it lacking."

    Indeed, many people were now gathering around to watch the holographic duel tearing up the air and were muttering to each other. The large group of people who had last completed the 'Search for the Obelisk' ride were filtering out and merging with the throngs of onlookers.

    "There's only so much respect I'm willing to show someone who's not shown me an abundance of the same. I place one monster and one card face-down, and end my turn."

    "An acquaintance of mine has a phrase that sounds appropriate to this situation," Yami replied, drawing. "'Pot-kettle'. You can think on that later – meantime, we have a duel to finish. I sacrifice Jack's Knight and Mystical Elf to summon Gaia the Fierce Knight (2300/2100) in attack mode!"

    Yami's two monsters vanished; in there place there appeared a massive muscled warrior astride a great horse. A pair of blood-red lances were his weapons, and Yami intended him to use them. But before he could even think about continuing, Henstridge was already countering.

    "Activate Coffin Seller!" he declared. "As long as this trap remains face-up, your Life Points will take 300 points of damage whenever monsters are sent to your graveyard... such as through sacrifice, including the one you performed just now!"

    Although the newly activated trap drained his Life Points to 3000, Yami didn't regret the tribute summon. "Gaia, attack his monster!" Yami ordered.

    The warrior urged his horse to race towards his target by kicking his spurs into its sides. The horse whinnied, reared back, then stampeded toward the face-down monster card. But just as that monster was revealed by the attack, Henstridge interjected once again. "You're attacking my Gravekeeper's Watcher (1000/1000), and although there's nothing particularly special about him, I'd like to keep him around anyway – so I'm discarding Charm of Shabti from my hand, which prevents all my Gravekeepers from taking any damage this turn."

    Henstridge's monster card flipped over and revealed his unassuming Watcher, but Gaia's spears didn't reach it. Instead, they shattered a brown totem that spontaneously appeared in front of Watcher an instant before contact.

    Yami pursed his lips. Not being able to touch his Life Points while he has monsters on the field, no matter what battle position, is bad enough – not being able to touch his monsters is even worse! "I end my turn."

    "Thank you." Henstridge drew. "I place one card face-down, and then sacrifice my Gravekeeper's Watcher to summon another monster, also face-down. And that'll be all for me." Watcher vanished in another spray of blue light that coalesced into a face-down monster.

    "I draw," said Yami. Not finding the drawn card useful at the moment, he turned back to his field. "Now, Gaia, you know the routine, attack his monster!"

    "Not quite so fast," Henstridge admonished. "Activate trap: Nightmare Wheel!"

    As Gaia closed in on the monster Henstridge had placed last turn, both the warrior and his horse were cut off by a gigantic torture device that fired out multiple chains towards the attacker. The thick cables wrapped about both creatures and then wheeled them in, holding them tightly against the device.

    "While this trap is active, it disables your monster and deals 500 points of damage to your Life Points with every one of my turns," Henstridge clarified. "So it looks like you've got about six turns left to figure out how to get past it."

    "I'll do you six turns better and resolve the issue now," Yami shot back, "because I haven't summoned a monster yet, and high-powered monsters can be tributed, too. So I sacrifice Gaia the Fierce Knight to play Summoned Skull (2500/1200) in attack mode!"

    Gaia and Nightmare Wheel shattered in unison, and a massive flesh-and-skeleton fiend rose up to take Gaia's place. It crackled with electricity and growled menacingly at Henstridge.

    "Impressive. Too bad you can't attack with him this turn. And you lost Life Points with that play thanks to Coffin Seller."

    Indeed, when Yami inspected his duel disk's Life Point counter, he saw that his Life Points had dropped to 2700. "Don't worry about that. I end my turn."

    "If I were you, I would worry about it," Henstridge returned as he drew, "because right now, Summoned Skull is the only thing protecting your Life Points – and I'm going to get rid of it. I flip my Guardian Sphinx (1700/2400) to attack mode!"

    The newly revealed Guardian Sphinx had an appearance quite similar to its namesake in Egypt, and in this particular region of the Luxor hotel, it looked quite appropriate. Its ruby-set eyes glowed brightly; red light washed over Yami's field, and in particular, his Summoned Skull. He frowned. "What does it do?"

    "When it's flip summoned, it returns all monsters on my opponent's field to his hand." Henstridge's grin was manic. "Which means the sacrifice of your Fierce Knight was meaningless!"

    Yami scowled, but there was nothing he could do. He picked the Summoned Skull card up off his duel disk, the second time he had performed such a maneuver, and returned it to his hand of cards. As for the hologram, it vanished in the reddish illumination.

    "But that's not all," Henstridge continued. "Next, I summon Gravekeeper's Spear Soldier (1500/1000) in attack mode!"

    Yami recalled this monster vividly, for it had been the most difficult for Joey to get rid of in his own duel against this criminal. But now, it was even more formidable... because special effect or not, Yami's Life Points were wide open.

    "Their combined attack power will wipe out the rest of your Life Points," Henstridge crowed, "and when that happens, I'll be the new King of Games!"


    © Matt Morwell, 2011

  10. #10
    Written Into A Corner... Cool Trainer
    Cool Trainer
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    May 2011

    Default Evidence of Shadows: Chapter 9 - Best Served Cold

    Chapter 9
    Best Served Cold


    7:16 p.m.

    Parking Lot, Luxor Hotel

    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Grissom and Brass climbed out of the SUV and headed for the main lobby. Finally, we're going to get some real results, Grissom thought. Some part of him wondered if Brass was thinking the same, though his experience with the detective told him not to. Their time together had revealed to Grissom that Brass was a realist; he held no expectations of the future. That way, he wasn't be disappointed in what he found there.

    "Okay, Grissom, let's talk about this," said Brass, not sparing a glance at the CSI. "You think Simon Henstridge is the killer. Why?"

    "He's been acting erratically and he's been lying through his teeth. Neither one is good for business managers, especially when they get caught in the act. He has something to hide, and that something is big enough that he's willing to risk his integrity and quite possibly his career for it."

    "On that, at least, you and I agree," Brass remarked. "He's definitely guilty of something. But for the sake of argument, why jump from lies to murder?"

    "Ambition," was the prompt reply. "Simon Henstridge has great aspirations. He likes hanging out with movie stars. He wants to play Duel Monsters with the world champion. All of the above just happen to come through Las Vegas and stay at his hotel." Grissom frowned. "You know, that doesn't sound like coincidence to me now that I've said it out loud."

    "You know how paranoid you sound right now?" Brass commented. "We're only talking about one conspiracy theory at the moment, not two."

    "Getting back to the subject, then, they come to his hotel. His hotel. Except it wasn't his, it was his father's. He was just a co-manager."

    "That's still a pretty high rank to risk losing because you're jealous of your old man."

    "In that case, tell me about all the stable people you've met during your time in Vegas."

    "No such thing as complete stability," Brass answered. "We're all unstable. Unbalanced. Any number of things can throw us over the edge."

    "Then let's start with Henstridge's childhood."

    Brass raised an eyebrow. "Excuse me?"

    "Childhood. Age five, he started losing his hair because of alopecia. When I spoke to him just this morning, he said it was something his father had given him. But alopecia isn't genetic, it's an autoimmune disorder and strikes randomly. I'll bet that was the start of his grudge against his father."

    They passed through the sliding doors and approached the front desk. An employee was waiting for them at the counter. She flashed a bright smile. "Hello, may I help you?"

    "Yeah, I think you can," said Brass. He flashed his badge. "Captain Brass, homicide, and Gil Grissom with the crime lab. We'd like to talk to Mr. Henstridge."

    Her smile fell in disappointment. "I'm sorry, Captain Brass, but lower management said Mr. Henstridge went home early. Said he's not feeling well."

    "You sure about that?"

    She nodded. "We were going to send him a card. He's been really nice to us all lately. Even came down here the other night just to tell us all we were doing a good job... and he never gives praise to the lowly employees." She smiled again. "We wanted to do something nice for him in return. Especially since the loss of his father. I don't know how he keeps it up under all that pressure. He's always so calm and collected."

    "Admirable, isn't it?" Grissom muttered.

    Brass scoffed under his breath, then put on a look of confusion. "Well, ma'am, that's all well and good, but when we called down here, we talked to management and they said he was with some acquaintances in the VIP room."

    She shrugged. "I don't know what to tell you, sir. Maybe you shouldn't take my word for it. All I hear is what lower management tells me."

    "We'll keep that in mind," Grissom said, and Brass took that as a cue to leave the counter.

    They both strolled to one corner of the expansive lobby. Brass glanced back at the young woman as she assisted a young couple in reserving a room. "He's with VIP's and he walks out on them because he's not feeling well?"

    Grissom shook his head. "Another lie. I say he's still here somewhere."

    "Yeah. Question is, where?"

    "I can think of two places, both ground level – the casino, and the central atrium. You check the casino and the VIP room, I'll take the atrium."

    "Grissom, he's a needle in a haystack. How do you expect either of us to find him?"

    "We're about to find out." Grissom turned and made for the hotel's interior.

    Brass rolled his eyes and followed.


    'The Search for the Obelisk' Entrance, Luxor Hotel

    "Guardian Sphinx, attack Yugi's Life Points directly!"

    Yami pressed one of the buttons on his duel disk, revealing one of his favorite cards. "Activate Spellbinding Circle!" he declared, and when the holographic representation of his card flipped up, a band of intricate energies emitted from the picture and looped around Guardian Sphinx. "This trap prevents your monster from attacking or changing its battle position as long as it remains on the field."

    Henstridge's expression of joy turned to a dissatisfied scowl. "That may have saved you from losing the duel this turn, but your Life Points are still wide open. Gravekeeper's Spear Soldier, attack him directly!"

    "Once again you're mistaken, Henstridge," Yami snapped. "Activate Magic Cylinder!"

    Spear Soldier charged forward, ready to strike at Yami's heart – but the activated trap card flipped up between them, and Spear Soldier crashed into the trap instead. Then he fell into it, as though it were a mirage... then emerged an instant later, running in the complete opposite direction.

    And his spear jabbed Henstridge instead.

    Henstridge stumbled backward as his Life Points dropped from their previously untouched 4000 to a battle-scarred 2500. The holograms had finely-tuned force fields surrounding certain parts of their bodies, making a direct attack seem real to some extent.

    "Magic Cylinder's effect cancels out your monster's attack on my Life Points and redirects it to yours instead," Yami announced. "Sorry, but it looks like your plans have backfired."

    "Not for long," Henstridge vowed. "My turn ends here."

    Yami drew. "So does your ego trip. I summon Alpha the Magnet Warrior (1400/1700) in defense mode." His new creature was a construct of metal, outfitted with a modest shield and sword, and highlighted with red and blue paint on opposing sides. "That ends my turn."

    Henstridge drew his next card in silence, then said, "I place one monster face-down in defense mode. Your turn."

    I have to keep up the offensive if I want to succeed. I can only subject him to a penalty game if I win the duel. Yami slipped his next card off the top of his deck, inspected it, then put it to use. "I play Pot of Greed," he declared, "to draw two more cards."

    That done, he added two new cards to his hand, then announced, "I summon King's Knight (1600/1400) in attack mode." A stout, bearded warrior clad in red armor wavered into existence, sword at the ready. "And I also shift Alpha to attack mode. Now, King's Knight, do away with Gravekeeper's Spear Soldier!"

    A single swing from the nobleman's sword was all it took to shatter the hologram on the opposing field... but, as before, Henstridge's Spirit Barrier trap card pulsed, indicating his Life Points would take no damage from the strike.

    Yami ignored the inconvenience. "Alpha, attack his face-down monster!" An instant later, he reflected that it was a risky maneuver by most standards to attack a face-down using a monster with only 1400 attack points, but he had a distinct feeling the monster being attacked wouldn't be able to withstand the strike.

    Much to the surprise of experienced spectators, Yami's hunch proved accurate – Alpha's short sword cut straight through the face-down card. A transparent monster image appeared in the air for a moment, then faded away.

    "It seems my Swarm of Scarabs (500/1000) couldn't make the cut," Henstridge quipped.

    "So it would seem. I end my turn."

    Henstridge drew his next card, then declared, "I play Gravekeeper's Assailant (1500/1500) in attack mode." Another familiar monster, the dark-robed assassin appeared next to the still-trapped Guardian Sphinx. Henstridge didn't waste his time. "Gravekeeper's Assailant, attack Alpha the Magnet Warrior."

    Assailant, true to its master, made short work of Yami's exposed monster... a swift stab to its midsection caused it to explode on the spot. Yami's Life Points descended to 2600, and then the effect of Henstridge's active Coffin Seller trap kicked in to take them down to 2300.

    "And just like that, my Life Points are above yours again," Henstridge gloated. "My turn's finished."

    "Don't start celebrating your victory just yet," Yami replied, drawing. "You've left your Assailant wide open for King's Knight, and I'm about to bolster my defenses by summoning Gamma the Magnet Warrior (1500/1800) in defense mode." The monster that appeared did not even bear so much as a passing resemblance to its departed brother, save for that it was made of metal. Gamma was a rotund, pink machine and two metal wings adorned its back. It bore no weaponry of any sort in its hands.

    Nevertheless, Yami and Yugi had put it in their deck for a reason... and it had seen them through many troubled times since. Both of them put their faith in its ability to help them to victory, whether by attacking or defending. "King's Knight, attack Gravekeeper's Assailant!"

    Another slash of the warrior's sword brought a second Gravekeeper to its doom, and King's Knight began gaining a reputation among the nearby spectators. Yami nodded in satisfaction. "That ends my turn."

    Henstridge drew his next card – and abruptly smirked. "Well, well... this should make things a little more interesting. I play the field spell card Necrovalley!"

    Abruptly, the carpet around them vanished, replaced by sand and rocks and a pair transparent cliffsides stretching at least two stories over their heads, one on each side. Yami watched them rise up warily; he vividly recalled that this card had been nothing but bad news.

    "As you know already, Necrovalley increases the attack and defense factors of all Gravekeeper monsters by 500 points," Henstridge noted, "and as long as it's in play, cards that have effects involving graveyards are nullified."

    Yami noticed static flashing up and down one trap card he was starting to find particularly annoying. "It looks like your Coffin Seller trap card qualifies as involving graveyards, since it only activates when my monsters are sent there. Now I can sacrifice with impunity."

    "Not if you don't have the monsters in your hand to do it, you can't. Which is why I activate a spell card that's lain dormant on my field for a few turns... Royal Tribute." Henstridge leered at Yami. "It can only be activated when Necrovalley is in play, and forces both of us to discard every monster card in our hands."

    Yami's eyes narrowed. He'd had Curse of Dragon and Summoned Skull in hand, the latter waiting for a second chance at the battlefield. Unfortunately, they were no longer of use, and he slipped them into the graveyard slot of his duel disk. He noted that Henstridge was living up to his end of the bargain, as well, but neither chose to ask what the other had gotten rid of. Yami only knew that Henstridge had rid his hand of one card.

    "I think that'll do it for me, this turn," Henstridge finally declared.

    "Then it's my move." Yami drew. "And I'll make it count, by summoning Silent Swordsman - Level 3 (1000/1000) in attack mode." The monster in question was short, but the white armor it wore and the gleaming buster sword in its hands showed it meant business. "I also place one card face-down, and end my turn."

    "That's making it count?" Henstridge sniffed. "You should know better than to summon such weak monsters in attack mode when your Life Points are running out, Yugi. And you, the Duel Monsters world champion. I'm disappointed." Henstridge drew, then said, "I place one monster in face-down defense and end my turn. Not flashy, but at least it counts."

    "Don't be so quick to discount my Swordsman," Yami admonished as he drew. "After one full turn has passed since his appearance on the field, he grows in strength – into Silent Swordsman - Level 5 (2300/1000)."

    As the former pharaoh spoke, Silent Swordsman underwent a startling transformation. He glowed incandescent white, and then his form morphed; his sword grew longer, his armor became heavier, and most notably, he became nearly twice his original height. "And I'm not finished with my monsters yet, because I sacrifice my King's Knight to summon Archfiend of Gilfer (2200/2500) in attack mode!"

    King's Knight vanished, to be replaced by a huge red-armored fiend with wide black wings. Yami aimed a finger at the creature that had become an eyesore for him. "Archfiend of Gilfer, attack Guardian Sphinx!"

    Obediently, the massive creature flew across the span of the field and let loose a powerful blast of dark energy on Henstridge's monster. It crumbled on the spot, as did Yami's Spellbinding Circle, but the spirit couldn't care less, as long as the threat was gone. "Now, Silent Swordsman, attack his face-down monster!"

    The overhead swing of Silent Swordsman's massive blade, however, had less of a desirable effect than Archfiend of Gilfer's attack – the huge sword was halted and repelled, and when the attacked monster was revealed, Yami realized why – it was another of the dark-robed Gravekeeper monsters.

    "Meet my Gravekeeper's Spy (1200/2000)," Henstridge said cheerfully. "Thanks to Necrovalley, his defense becomes 2500, enough to withstand your Swordsman's blow, and then some."

    "It's a mistake I won't make again," Yami promised.

    "I'm sure it is. But just so you know, when you revealed him with your attack, you triggered his special ability – he can special summon any Gravekeeper monster from my deck that has 1500 attack points or less. So say hello to Gravekeeper's Curse (800/800) in defense mode."

    The new monster on Henstridge's field was shorter, quite obviously less bulky, and overall much less powerful than its spying counterpart – nevertheless, Yami eyed it carefully. This is another effect monster; he wouldn't have summoned such a weak creature otherwise.

    "As I'm sure you've gathered, Gravekeeper's Curse also has a special ability – when he's summoned to the field, he delivers 500 points of direct damage to the Life Points of his opponent."

    Curse's weapon was a narrow crook, and he aimed the wand at Yami – a green bolt of energy speared from it and struck the pharaoh in his chest. Yami's Life Points sank to 1800.

    Yami's eyes narrowed. It seems he's not the only one capable of underestimation. "You didn't prove to be half this good at Duel Monsters when you dueled Joey," he said.

    "That's because I had a bad hand. Sometimes life gives you those. That's why you get back in the game and start out with a new one."

    "I'll choose not to notice the irony of your saying that and end my turn."

    "Glad to hear it." Henstridge's next drawn card drew a smirk from him even wider than the one he'd developed in using his Royal Tribute card. "I sacrifice Gravekeeper's Curse to summon Gravekeeper's Chief (1900/1200) in attack mode!"

    This new threat, unlike all the previous ones, wore bright white robes, and bore a staff that presumably was his weapon. As with the other Gravekeepers under Necrovalley's protection, his floating attack/defense points became 500 points higher.

    "While Gravekeeper's Chief is on the field, the cards in my graveyard aren't subject to the lockdown powers of Necrovalley, which means I enjoy all the benefits of cards like Monster Reborn," Henstridge clarified. "Also, when I tribute summon him to the field, as I just did, I can special summon a Gravekeeper monster from my graveyard. So I choose my Gravekeeper's Spear Soldier in attack mode!"

    Not good, Yami thought. Most of these monsters couldn't hope to match my high-powered creatures, but they're doing an excellent job of reproducing themselves and keeping my lower minions at bay.

    "Now, Gravekeeper's Chief, attack Archfiend of Gilfer!"

    An iridescent blast of energy emitted from the orb atop the Chief's staff and engulfed Yami's Archfiend. The beast roared in defiance all the way to the grave, where its special effect of weakening an opposing monster would have taken place – were it not for the field spell card denying the fiend its revenge.


    Ground Level Atrium, Luxor Hotel

    The floor rumbled with an inhuman roar. Grissom could feel the jarring of his bones by the deep vibrations.

    He'd heard that curiosity killed the cat, but it certainly was attracting an inordinate number of people. Tourists were breaking away from lines by the dozen to catch a glimpse of what was making all that racket on the other side of the building... and Grissom had to admit he was as curious as they.

    I suppose it wouldn't hurt anything to check it out... With that reasoning in mind, he followed the crowds to the source of the noise.

    And when he cleared those throngs of people to finally understand what was happening, what he saw made his jaw drop open.

    Yugi Motou... playing Duel Monsters against Simon Henstridge?

    Henstridge's leer was nothing short of sadistic. "Next, Gravekeeper's Spear Soldier, destroy Gamma the Magnet Warrior!"

    The spear-wielding spellcaster charged across the field and laid into Gamma with everything he was worth. Gamma protested in a distinctly digital fashion, but it couldn't stop the attack. It blew apart, leaving Yami with 1400 Life Points and Silent Swordsman - Level 5 still to his credit.

    "Don't think I let your Swordsman off the hook just because I'm a nice guy," Henstridge warned Yami. "Your Archfiend of Gilfer would have proven more difficult to destroy in defense mode if I'd given you time to put it there."

    "Quite right." Yami drew. "Whatever you do, don't let me accuse you of being nice." He smirked at the card he'd just drawn. "And I hope you won't accuse me of being nice, either, Henstridge, because if I was merciful, you wouldn't be playing this game. Now, I play the magic card Dark Magic Curtain, which allows me to summon my favorite monster directly from my deck at the cost of half my remaining Life Points." And as his Life Points scrolled down to 700, Yami announced, "I call the Dark Magician (2500/2100) in attack mode!"

    Some people gasped. Others just smirked. These people knew who Yugi Motou was; they knew just as well as he did that Dark Magician was hands down his favorite monster in his entire deck. Not any of the Egyptian god cards, interestingly enough, but Dark Magician. Possibly it was because there were so many cards to combine with it – no one was entirely certain of his motives concerning that particular monster. Whatever the reason, it was his favorite, and they weren't going to argue the point.

    Henstridge merely sniffed at it. "It still can't penetrate my Spirit Barrier's protection."

    "Is that so? Spirit Barrier only affords your Life Points protection when you have a monster on your field. All I need to do is clear them away – and with my Dark Magician, I intend to do just that. Dark Magician, attack Gravekeeper's Chief!"

    The purple-armored wizard let loose a barrage of dark magic upon the opposing monster, shattering it where it stood. Yami nodded in satisfaction. "All right. Now, Silent Swordsman, attack Gravekeeper's Spear Soldier!"

    Silent Swordsman's second blow of the day had more success than his first; it split its target cleanly in two, then returned to its master's field and awaited its next assignment.

    "Finally," Yami said, "I activate the trap card Time Seal, which prevents you from drawing a card on your next turn. We'll see just how much protection you can conjure for yourself."

    "I can conjure quite a bit in a pinch, I imagine."

    "No doubt. I end my turn."

    "Well, in that case, I'll place one card face-down and finish my turn there," Henstridge shrugged.

    "How expedient. I draw... and play the magic card Poison of the Old Man, to increase my Life Points by 1200." Yami's play caused his Life Points to leap to a more vitalized 1900. "That finishes my turn."

    Henstridge drew, then said, "One card face-down, end turn."

    Yami's next card gave him cause to nod in approval. "I equip my Dark Magician with the Book of Secret Arts, increasing his attack and defense by 300 points... 300 more points than your Gravekeeper's Spy can afford."

    "Indeed," Henstridge sneered. "Then bring it on, Your Majesty."

    "I intend to." Dark Magician's outline glowed aquamarine, indicating it had been empowered by an equipment card. "Dark Magician, attack Gravekeeper's Spy!"

    Another negative energy burst from Dark Magician's staff seared the air, but this time Henstridge was ready. "Activate Astral Barrier!" he responded. "When you attack one of my monsters, I can shift the attack directly to my Life Points – and any battle damage to my Life Points becomes zero, thanks to my Spirit Barrier!"

    Yami scowled. "A convenient circle, and one I intend to break. I end my turn."

    Henstridge drew. "I play Pot of Greed," he declared, "and as you did earlier, draw two extra cards... then I place one card face-down and end my turn."

    Yami's next draw gave him a sense of impending victory. "I summon Breaker the Magical Warrior (1600/1000) in attack mode!" he declared. The hologram that appeared on his field was actually that of a spellcaster, not a warrior, but he still bore a sword and wore glinting red-and-gold armor. "And this monster has a very special ability to its credit... when summoned, he gains a spell counter that increases his attack points by 300."

    "Not nearly enough to do any good," Henstridge retorted.

    "Maybe not when it comes to attack power, but that's not why I brought up the counter. I can sacrifice that counter and Breaker's extra 300 attack points to destroy a spell or trap card on the field – and the card I'm choosing is your Spirit Barrier!"

    Breaker's sword glowed brightly, and it aimed the point of its sword at the Spirit Barrier card. A white beam of magical flame erupted from the sword and overwhelmed the target. Yami smirked. "Your Astral Barrier card is still active, so if you want to, you can still direct my attacks to your Life Points... but I don't think you want that. Dark Magician, attack Gravekeeper's Spy again!"

    This time, Dark Magician's attack went unhindered, and Gravekeeper's Spy crumbled under the assault. But Henstridge was on the move again. "I activate the trap card Rite of Spirit," he announced, "to revive Gravekeeper's Chief in attack mode!"

    "You're beginning to sound like a broken record," Yami remarked.

    "Maybe, but you're beginning to look complacent. You've left Breaker wide open for an attack."

    "Have I?" Yami smiled mysteriously. "I end my turn."

    Henstridge growled as he drew his next card. "First, I'll show you the dangers of your folly. Gravekeeper's Chief, attack Breaker!"

    Another blast of energy – Yami had lost count of how many energy plays had already been made – split the distance and incinerated Yami's monster... along with it, 800 Life Points. But the face behind which the pharaoh lay showed no indication of irritation toward his opponent for the attack. That expression only seemed to infuriate Henstridge even more. "Next, I play Swords of Obscuring Darkness!"

    Out of nowhere, a series of swords composed of bone and shadow rained on Yami's field. Dark Magician vanished under the storm, and its monster card flipped over and into defense mode.

    "When this card is activated, all monsters on the opposing field are automatically turned to face-down defense mode, and they stay that way for two turns," Henstridge informed him. Then he frowned. "Except, I note, for your Silent Swordsman."

    "Silent Swordsman - Level 5 is immune to the effects of all spell cards," Yami replied. "If you want to destroy him, you'll have to do it on your own merit."

    "I intend to next turn. And the turn after that, I'll destroy your Dark Magician. And then I'll destroy you."

    Yami's grin only widened. "You really believe that, do you?"

    "Don't you dare doubt it, either. I end my turn. Make the most of yours."

    "And how can I not?" Yami responded, sounding perfectly reasonable as he drew his card. "A turn doesn't get any better when you have cards like this one at your disposal – the spell card Heavy Storm, which rids the field of every single spell and trap card on it!"

    Oscillating forcefields set up by the holoprojection technology in the duel disks created an artificial wind, and a complex display of whirlwinds blowing away all magic and trap cards present on the field did the rest. Lightning blasts obliterated all five of Henstridge's cards – there were none to account for on Yami's field. The holograms of Necrovalley, Astral Barrier, Coffin Seller, and Swords of Obscuring Darkness all vanished in the onslaught.

    However, Henstridge's fifth card proved to be a little more stubborn. "Destroying my Statue of the Wicked trap card allows me to summon a Wicked Token (1000/1000) in defense mode," he said, and a small snakelike creature shimmered into being on his field to assist Gravekeeper's Chief in guarding Henstridge's Life Points.

    Yami shook his head. "It won't be there long. First, I restore my Dark Magician to attack mode." The spellcaster again appeared on the field and took position next to Silent Swordsman. "All right. Dark Magician, attack Gravekeeper's Chief!"

    Dark Magician's signature dark magic attack warped the field as it moved to strike Henstridge's best monster. There was nothing the businessman could do to save it or his Life Points... and so it was that Gravekeeper's Chief was destroyed, and Henstridge's Life Points dropped to 1900.

    "Silent Swordsman, destroy his Wicked Token!"

    Yami's warrior didn't have to expend much effort on the creature – another sweep of the blade and the Wicked Token was solidly cleaved. Yami looked at Henstridge. "It's your move."

    Henstridge took a long moment to consider the options he had left. He could run, of course... but to all those watching, it would be a sign of cowardice. He could forfeit, but that would be a loss – and he couldn't afford to lose. He could plead for mercy, but he already knew he wouldn't receive any.

    He finally looked his opponent directly in the eye.

    The boy was just as fierce in his determination as when they'd begun.

    "I have to keep fighting," he said aloud, and he drew. After a long moment of consideration, he announced, "I'll place this monster in defense mode and end my turn."

    "Stubborn to the last," Yami remarked. "But at least you didn't give up." He drew, then declared, "I summon Beta the Magnet Warrior (1700/1600) in attack mode." This monster was also unlike its brethren in appearance, save for the fact its body was comprised of metal – yellow this time, with red and blue highlights in various locations and magnets for hands.

    "Silent Swordsman, attack his face-down monster!"

    When the warrior brought its gleaming sword down on the monster card, however, Henstridge said, "You may want to take note that when Cobra Jar (600/300) is revealed, its effect summons a Poisonous Snake Token (1200/1200) to my field in defense mode, and when the token is destroyed in battle, you take 500 damage to your Life Points."

    Yami examined his Life Point counter – it read 1100. "I think I'm safe on that account, Mr. Henstridge, but thank you for letting me know. Beta, destroy the Poisonous Snake Token!"

    All Beta was required to do was smash the creature underfoot. At the same time, Yami's duel disk beeped as the Life Point counter scrolled down to 600. He looked back up at Henstridge, who stood alone, unprotected by any monsters or face-down cards.

    "I suppose you and I do have something in common, Mr. Henstridge," he said. "We both attack defenseless men. Dark Magician, attack his Life Points directly!"

    Again, Dark Magician brought its emerald staff up to loose the energies of its dark magic attack upon Henstridge. The blast turned all colors on the field to negatives, and Henstridge was awash in black light. He was thrown to the ground by the hit; the force of 2500 attack points shook him to the core.

    And his Life Point counter arrived at its final number.


    He struggled to his feet, looked at his opponent, and gasped.

    A glowing golden Eye of Horus had set itself upon Yami's forehead, and his Millennium items were glowing with similar energies. Yami knew that Henstridge was the only one here who would see his third eye or the glow of the items.

    "This is what happens when you let your greed take hold of your sanity... what happens when you trespass on the souls of my friends," he said.

    He raised his arm, pointed directly at Henstridge.

    And his next words would change the businessman's life forever.

    Grissom stared at the spectacle, hardly willing to believe his eyes. Any number of possibilities raced through his mind, all of them equally unlikely but nevertheless intriguing. Whatever the reason for their presence at this place instead of the arcade's dueling platforms, the King of Games had apparently chosen to duel the one man Grissom was quite sure Joey's party of five would never want to see again.

    He was struck by the sheer ferocity Henstridge had displayed throughout the game. The man had acted positively feral towards his idol. Something about Yugi got to him. Badly. He's gone delusional enough to think he can defeat a world champion without breaking a sweat. His eyes had caught onto the fact that he wasn't wearing gloves of any kind now, playing with entirely bare hands. His eyebrow rose at the sight of the discarded gloves lying on the floor; they weren't the same kind he'd extracted samples from earlier today. That's our break, right there.

    When Henstridge's Life Points hit zero, a round of applause and cheering went up all around the spectacle from fans of the game, as well as people who'd simply had five minutes to kill. But Grissom held less interest in crowd reaction, and more interest in the sudden expression of shock and disbelief on Henstridge's face as he looked at Yugi. Grissom frowned and turned to look at the Duel Monsters champ, but besides all the gold totems he was wearing, there didn't seem to be anything there that would elicit that sort of expression.

    Though now that he scrutinized Yugi more carefully, he could see several differences. The hair, for one, was slightly altered now to include narrow blond spikes in front of the wide maroon and purple ones. And the boy somehow seemed taller, although that could simply have been attributed to the pride with which he was carrying himself.

    The attitude is the most remarkable, though. Yugi had been nothing but meek and modest during his time at the crime lab; here, on the dueling field, confidence and self-assurance seeped from his pores. He was most decidedly "in charge" now, no longer a blushing child with raging hormones but a full-fledged adult who knew what he was about. That likely explains why he seems taller. People stand up straighter when they're more confident. The voice change can be attributable to the same...

    Grissom pulled out his cell phone and quick-dialed Brass.


    "Could you come to the 'Search for the Obelisk' entrance, please?"

    "On my way."

    He hung up, and although he was looking directly at Yugi and Henstridge, he very nearly jumped – indeed, he frightened several others in the crowd – when his next words resounded throughout the entire atrium... perhaps the entire city of Las Vegas.


    Henstridge felt something hard fall on his arm. Hard, and freezing cold. He frowned, looked at the item that had struck him.

    It was a gold brick.

    He reached out, picked it up, and inspected it. Yes, it was a gold brick... and it was colder than anything he'd ever touched. He released it, heard it thud to the floor.

    Another dropped out of the air. And another, and another, all coming down to pile on him. He shouted, curled into a fetal position and put both his hands over his head, intent on at least trying to survive the rain of gold without a cranial injury. But the barrage did not abate; if anything, upon his move of self-preservation, it increased. The bricks clanked against each other as they added to the pile, and still more came dropping out of seemingly nowhere.

    This isn't right! his mind insisted. This can't be real!

    But whether or not it was real, it seemed real, and that's all that mattered right now.

    He screamed as he was buried underneath a frozen hill of gold.

    The most precious commodity he could think of had become his doom.

    Grissom gaped at the sight of Henstridge curled up on the floor, shouting nonsense. He must have cracked. We need to get him out of here right now. He raced to Henstridge's side, tried to shake him out of it. "Simon! Can you hear me? Simon!"

    But Henstridge would not be shaken from his terrified shrieks, would not be pulled out of his fetal position. He rolled about on the floor in apparent agony, much to the chagrin of the spectators who had just a few moments earlier been applauding his defeat.

    Grissom could feel Yugi approaching from behind, and he turned to look questioningly at the duelist. "What happened?"

    "Mr. Henstridge here, more than anything else, wanted to get his duel. So he got his duel." The boy stared down at the businessman without any trace of emotion in his maroon – red? I thought they were purple – eyes. "Now he's paying his dues. It's useless to try to wrest him from this insanity... he will have to leave it on his own. And there's only one way for him to do that."

    Grissom frowned. "What is that method, if I may ask?"

    "He must admit to his crimes. Else his mind will be buried in them, all thought bent on what he wanted to achieve by committing them." The boy – no, the young man met Grissom's gaze. "Ambition is the downfall of even the world's greatest heroes, Mr. Grissom, never mind the world's businessmen." He looked back down at the writhing man. "Mr. Henstridge is suffering from a penalty game... an illusion that will pass only when he brings himself to justice."

    "Justice for what?"

    "Stop! Okay! Okay! I confess! Stop!" Henstridge screamed. "I did it! I did it all! I killed my father! Do you hear me! I KILLED MY FATHER!"

    Almost instantly, his screaming ceased, to be replaced by more quiet moans and whines... though from what injuries, Grissom couldn't even begin to guess. He began to uncurl, but the floor was where he remained.

    Brass pushed through the crowd and looked at the three men at the center of attention. He looked at Grissom with a mixture of curiosity and skepticism.

    Grissom could only shrug in response. "He cracked. I think it's safe to break out the cuffs."

    "I'll do the cuffs, you do the evidence." Brass gestured to where the gloves lay, then knelt down to assist Henstridge in his trip to jail and began reading the man his rights.

    As Grissom picked up the gloves with his trusty pair of tweezers and put them in an evidence bag procured from his pocket, he felt Yugi's eyes still on him. A thought occurred to him, and he turned to face the duelist. "With all the drama you just told me, there's no way that could have been just a friendly Duel Monsters match with an unpleasant end. What were the stakes?"

    Yugi's lips quirked up. "Underage gambling is illegal, Mr. Grissom. Hadn't you heard?"

    In spite of himself, Grissom couldn't help but smile.

    We finally got him.

    But it's not over yet.


    © Matt Morwell, 2011
    Last edited by mattbcl; 4th June 2011 at 06:39 AM.

  11. #11
    Written Into A Corner... Cool Trainer
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    May 2011

    Default Evidence of Shadows: Epilogue



    1:44 p.m.

    Room 1203, Luxor Hotel

    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Although he could have called them, something had made him decide to visit them personally to deliver the news. He rapped his knuckles on the door and waited patiently for a response. Within moments, he got one – in the form of Yugi Motou.

    Yugi smiled up at the visitor. "Good afternoon, Mr. Grissom."

    "Good afternoon, Yugi. I'd like to talk with you and your friends, if it's not too much trouble."

    "Oh, no, not at all." Yugi swung the door open wide. "Please come in, and I'll go get them. Ji-chan, Mr. Grissom is here and he wants to talk with us."

    "Ah, the enterprising investigator." The elder occupant of the room pushed himself off his bed and came to the door to properly greet Grissom with a handshake, while Yugi scurried out of the room to fetch the others. Solomon Motou smiled. "Once again, I want to thank you for all you've done."

    Grissom offered a small shrug. "It's my life's work, Mr. Motou. And it's why I'm here to talk to your party today."

    "I trust you've made considerable progress since last night?"

    "The case was broken wide open... actually, thanks in no small part to your grandson." Grissom glanced at the door. "I had no idea Duel Monsters was such an emotionally charged game, but apparently Henstridge's loss was enough to drive him temporarily insane."

    "Could have fooled me," Solomon snorted. "I thought he was chronic."

    "By that, I mean insane enough to admit he'd killed his father."

    Solomon shook his head. "A terrible, terrible thing. But I'll stop barraging you with questions – please, come in, have a seat."

    "Thank you." Grissom sat down in one of the chairs at the corner table, intent on facing everyone in the room at once as he spoke.

    Yugi returned a few moments later with Joey, Tristan, and Téa in tow. They all looked rather tired; Grissom gathered they hadn't gotten much sleep in the past few days, and after recent events, he couldn't say he blamed them. They all gave him positive looks, though, which he found to be gratifying. Although most of the time he couldn't care less about the opinions of those he investigated, he did like to see a smile every once in a while from the people he was trying to help.

    "Thanks for taking the time to come visit, Mr. Grissom," said Yugi.

    "No trouble at all." Grissom took a breath, then launched into his favorite topic – the truth. "I came here because I wanted to update you on the case. Simon Henstridge has written a signed confession to the murder of his father, and in that confession, he admits to attempting to frame Joey for the crime."

    "I knew it!" Joey burst out. "Dat rotten snake! He wanted to get back at me for kickin' his butt in a duel!"

    "Yes, that was a large part of it," Grissom replied. "He was humiliated in front of a crowd, something he hasn't taken to lightly his entire life – turns out he's had a history of problems, getting into fights over personal insults, that kind of thing. He's a man who likes to take revenge, even when he was originally the wrongdoer. This time around, his revenge plot was against his father, who he blamed for his loss of hair."

    "Isn't male pattern baldness passed down through the mother?" Téa asked.

    "Very good. It is, but Henstridge's condition wasn't due to male pattern baldness. It was caused by a condition called alopecia universalis, a disease which made his immune system attack his hair in his early childhood. It's highly unpredictable, but it's not hereditary."

    "And that's why you didn't find any hairs from the killer – because there was no hair to be found," Tristan reasoned.

    "Exactly. And finding fibers from their clothing was equally as difficult, if not impossible, because the suits they wore that night are designed to keep all their material and allow no cling – certainly worth the price they paid to look dapper." Grissom looked at Joey. "After you defeated him, he spent a lot of time thinking about how exactly he would do it. He forged a complaint from you about the condition of your room, demanding that upper management look into it. Of course, he and his father were upper management, so it fell to them. Even better, the 'flaws' in your room were orchestrated; he unplugged the bedside lamp and turned on the jacuzzi full-blast.

    "Then he thought about how, exactly, he was going to cover his tracks. He examined security tapes from the previous days you'd been on film, determined the size and type of your shoes, and bought a pair to match. He figured that someone with such renown would surely have new shoes."

    Solomon snickered. "What do you know, Joey? Your thriftiness has paid off."

    "Whaddaya talkin' about?" Joey grumbled. "All dat money I won from Duelist Kingdom went to my sister's operation, and I didn't get a single yen from Battle City."

    "So he bought himself a pair of the same shoes and put them on as soon as he realized his father was taking the bait – which was at the perfect time, when you were in line and out of sight of the cameras and your friends. He followed into the room, then attacked his father from behind with the unplugged lamp and drowned him in the jacuzzi."

    "That's awful," Téa said, her face twisting in disgust.

    "It couldn't have been just the loss of his hair that drove him to do it," said Tristan. "What else set him off?"

    "Envy. His father owned the Luxor, and as long as he was alive, he would continue to own it. Henstridge wanted to put the modifier 'my' next to 'Luxor hotel' when he spoke of it, but he was only co-manager and had no claim to the place. Only his father's death let him inherit the hotel." Grissom nodded to Yugi. "You were right about his ambitions... they were his downfall."

    Yugi showed no pride in having made that statement the night before. "What else?"

    "Henstridge nearly lost his sanity... again... when he made a phone call. He wanted to contact his broker about some sort of business or other, and then discovered that for no apparent reason, all the money he was holding in a private account had vanished. Some sort of computer glitch, I guess. Then he told us he wanted to write a confession, so..." Grissom shrugged. "Here we are. Any other questions?"

    "How come you didn't get any prints off the lamp or the jacuzzi?" Joey asked.

    "I could have told you the answer to that," Solomon replied. "He wears gloves all the time."

    Grissom nodded. "It was actually the gloves that helped tip us off to the true suspect. Mr. Henstridge is a hypochondriac, meaning he's got an overwhelming fear of germs. He says it's a reactionary result of his alopecia. But while his clothing has fibers that don't fall out easily, it turns out his gloves aren't made of the same."

    "You found a fiber from his gloves?" Téa asked incredulously. "How can you prove that's where it came from?"

    "Mr. Henstridge was so intensely afraid of the transmission of germs through handshakes and the like, even through his gloves, that he constantly washed them in antibacterial soap. After several washes, the fibers of his gloves carry that signature. It's somewhat like fingerprinting or DNA testing, in that regard."

    "So... even if Yugi hadn't dueled Henstridge, he was on his way to bein' found out, wasn't he?" Joey inquired.

    Grissom nodded. "He was. Sooner or later we'd have linked the evidence to him, but last night's little display helped us put together all the pieces at once. We got a warrant for his mansion and found the shoes he used to dupe you. Evidently they were too comfortable for him to get rid of." He turned to Yugi. "I think I should mention that he said he was planning to run as soon as he was finished with the duel last night, whether or not he won."

    Yugi frowned. "Not very honorable even in dueling, after all."

    "Evidently he wasn't counting on going berserk," Grissom noted. "He said his one regret about last night's game was the absence of... what was it... Egyptian god cards?"

    Joey rolled his eyes. "Aw, man, where will it end? He wanted to get beaten by the most powerful cards in all of Duel Monsters? Can someone say 'masochist'?"

    "Actually, I think he believes he could have taken them on, given the chance," Grissom replied. "But he's not going to get that chance now."

    "He would never have gotten to face the Egyptian god cards anyway," Yugi calmly informed them. "They weren't in my deck."

    "Say what?" Joey scratched his head. "Where'd you put them?"

    "I kept them in the deck case on my belt. They've been there ever since we got off the plane; they haven't left my side once since then."

    "What! You mean I was freakin' out about you playin' your god cards against me all that morning and you don't even have 'em in your deck!" Joey nearly exploded. "Hey, look, bud, I don't need any of your pity! I'll take 'em all on! Just watch me!"

    "Careful, Joey," Solomon advised. "You're challenging the Duel Monsters world champion to a duel of no mercy."

    "And ambition has been the downfall of many men," Grissom added.

    The others shared a moment of awkward laughter. Solomon offered Grissom a smile. "Mr. Grissom, we're planning on going to the Sacred Sea Room for supper this evening. Would you care to join us?"

    "I'd love to, but I'm afraid I have a job that needs looking after," Grissom politely replied, standing up. Then he cocked his head. "You're going to eat in the Luxor, after all that's happened here?"

    Yugi shrugged. "People come through here every day, good and bad. That doesn't mean the hotel itself is overall a bad place to be. I like the theme."

    "Yes, I remember, you're 'really into Egypt'." Grissom smirked. "But I'll admit, I envy you your optimism. People should aspire to it."

    "And people should aspire to your attention to detail," Yugi returned.

    "Well, thank you. And now I have to get back to work, where that attention is sorely needed."

    Everyone also got to their feet and each in turn offered a handshake to Grissom. He accepted each one and nodded politely to each of them as he moved down the line. Yugi was last, and Grissom found his handshake to be surprisingly firm.

    As he stepped through the door, he glanced back into the room one last time to look at the five people watching him leave – three on the right, two on the left, and a strange, unexplained person-sized gap in the middle.

    Wait a minute... something's...

    He squinted for a moment... he thought he'd seen the faintest trace of...

    No. Just your mind playing tricks on you, he thought.

    The door closed.

    Yugi looked up at the Pharaoh's translucent outline, separating him from his grandfather. For the moment, the spirit existed only on the metaphysical plane, and could be seen and touched only by those who knew he was there. The teen's expression was one of disappointment. "For a moment there, I thought he could see you."

    "So did I," said Joey. He scratched his head. "Was almost sure of it. But he didn't say anything."

    "Mr. Grissom and his companions can see only what they know to be real," Yami replied. "In point of fact, I have no basis in reality as they would define it."

    "That doesn't mean you don't exist," Téa commented.

    "True, it doesn't. It simply means I don't exist to them. But I exist to you... and that is enough, for now."

    "Yeah, but still... it would have been nice for him to know Yugi wasn't alone in facing Henstridge," said Tristan.

    "Yugi's never alone, even without the Pharaoh's spirit," Solomon pointed out. "Mr. Grissom knows that. He's seen it in the loyalty we've shown to each other. Just as we're all true to Joey, we're also loyal to Yugi."

    "It takes faith in something beyond what's real to see me," said Yami. "Mr. Grissom is a realist. And he is a scientist. Out of habit, and for the sake of his career, he does not place his faith in anything."

    Yugi shook his head. "That's not true, Yami."


    The hikari smiled. "He places his faith in the evidence."

    And in spite of himself, Yami smiled back. "So he does, aibou." He looked back to the door. "But if he is ever to see me... he must not search for evidence of shadows."


    6:27 p.m.

    Ground Level Arcade, Luxor Hotel

    "Stand in awe of my mad skills!" Tristan exulted, blasting one enemy after another with such precision as to shame any challengers that had approached so far. Yugi, Téa, and Joey watched as their friend dispatched endless ranks of terrorists and anarchists, chuckling as he consistently bested any companion shooters. So far, four people had taken up the second gun, and had given up on it upon the "Continue?" screen.

    Tristan had yet to arrive at that screen.

    As he cleared yet another level, he looked around and frowned. "Aww, nobody wants to join in?" He shrugged. "Oh, well. Guess I'll have to take both of 'em up myself, then." With that, he inserted coins into the opposite gun's receptacle and took both weapons up at once.

    Joey rolled his eyes, then approached Tristan. "Okay, okay, I'll join in."

    "Well, that's no attitude to take if you want to beat the bad guys," Tristan grinned. "Besides, those are my coins in the machine, not yours – hey!"

    Joey wrenched the blue gun from Tristan's grasp. "Gimme dat!" He shoved his brown-haired friend to one side and pressed down on the blue pedal. "Let's get this show on the road, huh?"

    Tristan scoffed. "You got it, my friend!"

    Téa giggled at the bickering between the two gamers, then looked down to Yugi. He had a thoughtful look on his face, and he seemed to be staring at nothing – indications that he was bored and/or talking with Yami.

    Looks like he needs a change of pace to me, she thought. She smiled down at him. "Yugi?" she asked. "I saw a ride on the other side of the atrium that looks like it might be fun... 'The Search for the Obelisk'. Would you like to go on it with me?"

    Yugi looked up at her, blushed, and smiled. "Uh, um, sure!" he said. "I'd love to!"

    Her smile widened. "So would I."


    7:08 p.m.

    Las Vegas Crime Lab

    "I sacrifice my Penguin Soldier, Slate Warrior, and Witch of the Black Forest in order to summon – bam! Moisture Creature! Eat that, you loser!" Greg crowed, and he made cheering noises, spinning around in his chair as he did so... until he came to the abrupt and embarrassing realization that he was being watched.

    "Greg... I assume you have better things to do than play a card game with an imaginary friend at work. Because if you don't, I may need to get you evaluated by the psych ward."

    Greg winced. "Aw, not again! Gimme a break, boss. There's nothing to work on around here, the results for the new case are on their way..."

    Grissom stepped into the lab. "What have you got?"

    "Hm? Uh, dead body found on 4th Avenue. Somebody thought he got hit and killed by a car, but it looks like he was already lying down on the road. And tire tracks–"

    "No, I mean your cards. What have you got?"

    Greg blinked. Blinked again. "You're... joking, right?"

    "I could be, but if you want to score some points with your boss, you're better off answering his questions than interpreting them."

    "...Good point." He held up the cards he'd just discarded. "Penguin Soldier, Slate Warrior, and Witch of the Black Forest. On my field is Moisture Creature. He can get rid of all spell and trap cards on the opponent's field."

    Grissom's expression didn't change. Greg put the cards back in his discard pile, then merged all of his cards back into his deck and shuffled, chuckling nervously. "It's... kind of a complicated game. Awesome to play, but sort of hard to learn."

    Grissom watched Greg shuffle for a moment. Then he pulled out a chair and sat down.

    "I like a challenge."




    © Matt Morwell, 2011

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