Title: Changes
Author: bnomiko
Rating: PG-13
Pairing(s): Yami + Seto, Noa + Mokuba, Jou + Mai, Yugi + Anzu, Malik + Ryou, Rafael + Valon + Amelda
Spoilers: none
Warnings: swearing
Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! is the creation of Kazuki Takahashi. Cyclops is the property of Marvel Comics. This is a not-for-profit fanwork and I do not own any of these characters.
Summary: "Somewhere along the way, Seto had learned that games weren’t all about survival, with real life consequences that meant life or death. Somewhere along the way, he – and Yami and Noa and Mokuba too - had learned to play without penalties, for the sake of fun and nothing more."
Status: 3/?
Archived at: http://www.phenixsol.com/Miko/FF/

Setup for this particular fic:

Additional notes:

* * *

Legends of Duel Monsters

Changes Series

* * *

[Frozen Heights: Glacier’s Edge][Tefa_bob]: has ne1 seen the king

[Frozen Heights: Glacier’s Edge][IKillThings]: He’s in the throne room stupid

[Frozen Heights: Glacier’s Edge][Tefa_bob]: no he’s not i’m right here and he’s not n i have a quest to turn in

[Frozen Heights: Glacier’s Edge][Mistyy]: Is the Blue Eyes dragon there??

[Frozen Heights: Glacier’s Edge][Tefa_bob]: no

[Frozen Heights: Glacier’s Edge][IKillThings]: Then he’s probably out playing footsie with that other king

* * *

Contrary to what the players talking in the Glacier’s Edge chat had said, the Dragoon emperor Seiryuu –Seto Kaiba’s toon – was not "playing footsie" with his fellow king. What he was doing was gathering forces in the mountains of Pandemonium outside of Gilfer, capital city of the Daemon archetype in the Legends of Duel Monsters MMORPG.

It was a combination of boredom and mischief that was driving him to lead a raid on an enemy city. Boredom, because it was the week between Christmas and New Year’s, a week where Kaiba Corp.’s corporate office was closed. And mischief, because the cool thing about being the owner of said MMORPG was that he could do anything he wished within the boundaries of said game. In that sense, he was truly a king within the game’s world. They all were.

Seto looked around the project table where they’d set their computers up, then looked back at his screen. It was a little funny… they were physically seated in the same order their characters were lined up in.

Yami was sitting to his right, leaning back in his chair as his character, the Sky Scourge high warlock Suzaku, idled on his Blue Eyes White Dragon mount next to Seiryuu. Seto was pleased with how Suzaku – and the Sky Scourge as a whole – had come out, thanks to Yami’s influence. Given that they’d started out with the Duel Monsters type "Fairy," which had been the butt of many developers’ jokes, they’d ended up with something darker and far cooler – blind fallen angels that dabbled in dark magics.

To his left were Noa, playing the half-man, half-beast Gladial king named Byakko, and Mokuba, playing Genbu, holy lady of the Mystic Elves. And it looked like Noa was toggling his avatar’s "king" status on and off, going from an unkillable silver and black maned white tiger, to Highwind, a normal ranger class toon with a standard golden lion skin and burgundy Big Tusked Mammoth mount.

Going incognito was a pretty nifty way to allow them to experience the game as normal players… at least, for the most part. Players had already figured out who they were because Seto, Yami and Pegasus had opted out – that is, they only played their kings as kings – and so anyone with half a brain soon realized that the members of the guild "Royal Decree" were associated with Kaiba Corp. or Industrial Illusions.

… That, and the fact that "Royal Decree" was the only cross-faction guild, having members from both the Lightsworn and Guardian alliances.

Beneath the wings of the Blue Eyes White Dragons other guild members continued to gather, some just idling until the start of the raid, others dueling in one form or another. Yugi was on a Mystic Elf, like Mokuba; his grandfather had opted for a Dragoon, like Seto. They’d conjured up a table between them for a card game or two, but were both marked AFK at the moment; perhaps there were customers in the shop. Meanwhile, Honda’s Daemon ranger was trying to goad Jou’s Gladial brawler to a physical duel. Mai and Anzu were both playing Harpies, watching from the sidelines while Jou promptly got schooled. And all around them were their various assistant companions – from rainbow colored Kuriboh brothers to the brooding Hyena, the creepy Monster Eye to the cuddly white Rescue Cat. There were also pink Testudo and yellow Gora Turtles from the limited edition sold by the Kame Game Shop and a die wielding imp from Skull Dice, from the special edition sold by Otogi’s Black Crown stores.

"So we’re just waiting for everyone in America to log on then?" Mokuba asked once he’d finished checking over their raid group. It was a bit haphazard since they were just taking along whomever wanted to go, but it’d do. And if it wasn’t enough, well, Seto wasn’t above… stacking the deck in their favor to make things go his way, the obvious advantage of being the one who’d programmed the game in the first place.

"Looks like," Noa answered.

"It seems weird that they’re going to be raiding their own capital city with us," Mokuba commented.

"Maybe Pegasus has it out for that lackey of his," Seto threw out. Each king had a chancellor of some sort that was killable by opposing players. Yami had gone with the obvious and created his own variant of the Dark Magician, though he also looked a bit like a security officer named Mahad who was a recent hire. Seto, Mokuba and Noa had made up their own characters, though the NPCs were too similar to Kisara Shiroi, Isono and Fubeta for it to have been coincidental. Seto still wasn’t sure why he’d chosen to model his chief advisor after his junior secretary… all he knew was, it just seemed right.

"I guess you can ask him yourself, ‘cause he just logged on. Hi," Yami said into the mouthpiece of his headset once he spotted the unimaginatively named Daemon archfiend Pegasus in their guild list.

"Well hello all! What a wonderful evening. Are we ready to rock my world?" Pegasus asked cheerfully.

"Thanks for volunteering. Your faction is going to hate you," Noa dryly responded.

"Well these are your little guinea pigs, hmm?" Pegasus drawled.

"They knew what they were signing up for," Seto finally replied. And that was the truth. No one got onto the server "Devil’s Sanctuary" accidentally… there was an application process. Players had to agree to all sorts of terms and conditions but in exchange, they knew they were going to get to play with the head programmers and developers of the game itself, a privilege worth a few… inconveniences. Like the one gathering outside Gilfer’s walls.

Okay, so they were bored and looking to do a little damage. But on the other hand, there was a more practical purpose behind the raid as well – Seto had planned to implement random world events to spice things up in the game. Nothing like a healthy dose of Pestilence unleashed upon the populace or an invasion of stampeding, mindless Fossil Tuskers to add some variety and keep players on their toes. So an enemy raid with a few extra twists thrown in wasn’t a bad way to test out how a random event would work out in terms of server capacity and player involvement and reactions.

"So think of it as a late Christmas present?" Yugi asked as he switched back to active mode. "Sorry about that. Boy, the shop is busy."

"But that’s a good thing," Yami cheerfully told him, though even he had to admit it was probably a bit overwhelming for his other half and his grandfather. But the old man had been worried about the shop's finances earlier that year… Seto’s decision to release a special edition of the MMO especially for the shop had truly been a godsend. That single item had brought in more money than everything else combined for the year.

"Yes… but we’d like to raid too!" Sugoroku interjected with a laugh. "Oh… another customer…"

"Are they there to watch or to buy?" Mokuba had to ask. The shop now boasted a new giant flat screen – once again, courtesy of Seto – that cycled through a catalog of product pitches, but could also be patched into a special in-game "camera-bot" that allowed the shop’s customers to watch a live LoDM feed. In essence, he’d managed to give them the ability to play and promote his game at the same time.

"Don’t worry, we’ll wait for you," Seto promised.

Yami smiled. There weren’t many people Seto would say that to.

"Jii-chan, if ya need me, ya know I’ll come in," Jou volunteered over his headset. He had taken the week off, intending on spending some quality time with his family, but was now realizing just how bad his timing was… He hadn’t expected the shop to be *that* busy after Christmas!

"No, absolutely not. Yugi and I are handling it. Enjoy your week off with your wife and new baby," Sugoroku firmly told him.

"So we’re just busting through Pegasus’ city and that’s that? Or we’re taking them all down?" Yugi popped back on to ask.

"We’ll start with Gilfer, and decide after that," Seto said, before adding with an impish chuckle, "though if all goes well, I don’t think we’ll want to hit the other cities."

* * *

At first the players scattered throughout the city thought little to nothing of the warning cries of the city guards. The game was still relatively new – there were few high level players with decent gear – so they’d only been faced with one or two invaders struggling to make it through the city gates, only to get flattened by the guards.

The first sign that this was not one of those attacks were four Blue Eyes White Dragons suddenly soaring in overhead, their heads drawing back, and then the sight of them unleashing white hot lightning into the central square of the city. Seto wasn’t trying to make it "fair;" any toons unfortunate enough to be standing out in the open at that moment got instantly obliterated.

"Ah, that got a reaction," Valon said, laughing as he saw the city’s chat suddenly fill up with confused players trying to figure out what had happened and why. And to think, they hadn’t even begun the ground assault yet…

Mokuba looked at the screen, down to the city's walkways from his character’s mounted vantage point. There were clumps of faintly shimmering particles on the ground – the only lingering trace of the many toons that had fallen to the dragons’ attack. Other players, the more fortunate ones at the moment, were now poking their heads out of buildings and scurrying about like panicked ants. It seemed a little unfair; players couldn’t even get flying mounts. There wasn’t any way for them to fight back.

But a glance over at his brother made him feel better about it. Seto was grinning broadly as his dragon swooped down and blasted anything that moved. And it really was just a game, wasn’t it? No one was actually dying in the barrage of lightning-charged dragon’s breaths. The "corpses" on the ground were just temporary… with as little as the click of a button players could easily bring their toons back to life.

Somewhere along the way, Seto had learned that games weren’t all about survival, with real life consequences that meant life or death. Somewhere along the way, he – and Yami and Noa and Mokuba too - had learned to play without penalties, for the sake of fun and nothing more.

That didn’t mean they weren’t still competitive people though. They’d always be that way. That was something in their blood; they all hated losing. Which was probably why playing the actual leaders in the game appealed to them so much.

"Is it our turn? Is it?" Valon asked eagerly, fearing that if they waited any longer that they’d miss out on all the action. But just like Seto had hoped, more players were showing up in the city by the minute, including many higher level ones, called into action by their besieged brethren.

Seto’s BEWD flew back up, accompanied by Noa and Mokuba’s. "Go ahead."

Immediately the quartet of Firewing Pegasi, the Guardians’ leaders' mounts, broke through the cloud cover and took over the fight, deadly flames sparking from their hooves. Valon and Amelda dismounted as soon as they were within a few yards of the ground, opting to fight hand-to-hand, with Rafael soon following suit, but Pegasus couldn’t resist taking his flaming mount right into some of the larger buildings, making it even harder for players to find refuge.

"The rest of you can start your charge as well," Seto instructed Yugi, Jou and the others. Satisfied with how things were progressing, he then muted his headset and told his brothers, "The Dimensionholes are working as intended. And so far the servers seem to be handling the extra traffic and clutter pretty well."

Noa nodded in agreement. "So I guess we can go ahead and schedule another test for prime playing hours to really stress test for lag and loading issues."

"Yeah. Can’t wait," Seto said with a grin as he watched more players pouring in through the Dimensionholes, only to get put to sleep by Shizuka’s bard’s song or ravaged by Otogi’s Twin Headed Wolf mount. Yami’s dragon swept in for additional support while the Doom trio split up and spread out through the smaller paths and alleyways that branched off the main square, sparing only the impenetrable sanctuary beneath Pegasus’ palace.

"Mokuba, go ahead with the in-game mail explaining the test to the players and compensating them for their ‘participation,’" Seto said after several more minutes of consideration. "Set it so they receive it in about an hour and a half."

"You know, we might not even have to compensate them. Look…" and Noa pointed to another program he had running that monitored server traffic. Proportionally more players were logging on to "Devil’s Sanctuary" than any other server at the moment. "Word gets around, I guess."

Seto looked from Noa’s screen, then back at his own. "They’re voluntarily becoming cannon fodder?" Shimmering clouds from hundreds of fallen avatars were littering the streets – Seto wondered if he ought to tone down the effect because it was beginning to look like everyone was wading through stardust – and yet more players kept appearing via Dimensionhole and Back to Square One, on mounts and on foot. There was even enough of an organized defense force now that Yugi and the others had been taken down and were themselves running back from the graveyard or playing cards like Monster Reborn and Soul Rope to speed up the process of getting back into the fight.

It hadn’t occurred to him that the players would enjoy being tested on, that they’d want to participate, despite having agreed to the terms of playing on the server. But now that the initial shock of the invasion had worn off, many of them seemed to be throwing themselves into the fray with determination and vigor and encouraging others to do the same.

Seto rested his chin on folded hands, then shrugged. "On second thought, Mokuba… hold off on that mail. I’ll come up with a new one…. later." He got back on his computer, back on his toon, and began maneuvering his dragon into place for another assault. "I’m going in for another round. You guys with me?"

"Did you really have to ask?" Noa asked as his dragon began dropping closer to the ground.

Mokuba’s dragon suddenly shot past them both. "Less talk, more pewpew, slowpokes!"

"Damn." And Seto had thought he’d been eager to get back into the thick of things. With a laugh, he and Noa took off after Mokuba, trying to overtake him even as all three of their dragons began unleashing destruction once more on the besieged city below.

* * *

The raid was originally slated to last a half-hour, but everyone was having so much fun that they’d lost track of time. It wasn’t until baby Hitomi woke up from her nap that they’d realized just how long they’d been playing. Jou and Mai bowed out to tend to their daughter, then Yugi left to focus on the customers in the shop. Then Rafael said he had a cold and was feeling under the weather, and that was pretty much it. The Kaibas made sure their friends safely escaped from the city, thanked everyone for their help, then logged off their toons.

In the end, they’d never made it to the other capital cities. But Seto was pleased – they’d gotten a lot of data out from the raid, and better yet, a quick check of the latest posts on the forums showed that the vast majority of players enjoyed themselves too. Players from other servers were clamoring for similar events on their servers.

"That really was a lot of fun. I hope we can try it again soon," Mokuba said as he switched over to an alternate character just to screw around a little.

"I don’t see why not," Seto responded easily. But even though he was working on revising his in-game mail to the players, he was leaning back in his chair, looking relaxed.

Mokuba normally would’ve followed up by offering his assistance, but after he took a closer look at his brother, he paused. The mood in the room had shifted. Yes, Seto was still working, but Yami had scooted his chair over until it was right up against Seto’s, and was now leaning over with his chin resting on one hand while the other traced paths up and down Seto’s arm. He looked just as relaxed and satisfied as his taller lover as they languorously lounged in their chairs, their eyes half lidded … as if they’d just had sex.

Surely the game wasn’t that exciting, was it? But then again, they were gamers… and this was Seto’s game. As with all of his creations, there was a part of him woven inexorably into the code, like fibers twisted into yarn. Yami recognized that and was responding to it. And Seto in turn was responding to Yami’s feelings… and to his own sense of success.

While there wasn’t anything overtly sexual about what they were doing, the entire scene was just too intimate. Feeling increasingly like a voyeur, Mokuba glanced over his other shoulder at Noa. The green-haired teen nodded at him. They didn’t need a mind link to know what the other one was thinking… I think we ought to leave.

"We’re going to go play with our rats or something, okay?" Mokuba finally mumbled since he didn’t feel right about just slipping away silently.

Seto looked over at his brother a moment, then nodded.

"And you just stay here and play with Yami," Noa added in the barest of whispers as he and Mokuba stood up, hand in hand. The younger teen tried to not react to the comment, lest it get Seto’s attention, but he couldn’t help but smile slightly in agreement with the sentiment.

Too bad that despite his efforts, Noa’s whisper wasn’t quite soft enough. Yami winked at them as they went to leave. At least he didn’t say anything about it though, so Seto remained oblivious. But that was what mattered; the last thing Mokuba saw before they shut the door behind them was Seto casually reaching up to stroke Yami’s hair, a slight smile still gracing his lips.

* * *

[Frozen Heights: Glacier’s Edge][Bluesteel]: King’s back, if anyone needs!

[Frozen Heights: Glacier’s Edge][Tefa_bob]: finally thx dude

[Frozen Heights: Glacier’s Edge][IKillThings]: Man, you waited that whole time to turn in a quest?

[Frozen Heights: Glacier’s Edge][Tefa_bob]: yah

[Frozen Heights: Glacier’s Edge][RedRum]: uh… you know you could've just turned it in to his advisor?

[Frozen Heights: Glacier’s Edge][Tefa_bob]: realy? fffffffff

[Frozen Heights: Glacier’s Edge][IKillThings]: Did you really just sit there?

[Frozen Heights: Glacier’s Edge][Tefa_bob]: yah y

[Frozen Heights: Glacier’s Edge][Daemon-pawn]: You missed a totally awesome raid in Gilfer…

* * *

MMORPG Terminology:

Author’s Notes:

November 23, 2010

* * *

* * * * BONUS! * * * *

Deleted scene 1

Yami looked at the rotating image on the screen and smiled. It had been up to Noa and Mokuba to design their archetype’s sprites, including their customized characters, but since Yami didn’t have the know-how to do the same, Seto had done his for him once he’d chosen the card for the basis of the design.

In this case, it was "Sky Scourge Enrise" that represented Yami’s archetype, the Sky Scourge. Seto had kept the leanness of the winged figure as well as the bondage-inspired outfit, but had recolored him from head to toe so that he was clad in black leather and heavy gold jewelry, with skin and wings glowing as if bathed in warm sunlight. He’d changed the hair too, keeping it long but spiking it on top and tipping it in red, giving it the illusion of being set aflame. The unusual blindfold / headband that the figure wore got played up; Seto left it obscuring the character’s eyes but added wings to the side and a Sennen Eye design to emulate the look of the crown Yami had worn as pharaoh.

"I like that. Didn’t think about it, but it looks cool. Powerful," Yami commented when Seto toggled to the close-up of the masked face.

"We can make up some bullshit about how they’re all blind because they’d pulled an Icarus and tried to fly their island city too close to the sun," the brunette explained. "Or that there’s something about their gaze that’s so powerful that they have to keep their eyes covered, like that Cyclops guy in that comic about mutants or whatever."

He began scrolling through the sprites that would be available to players. The consistent characteristics defining the archetype were the large feathered wings, sigils decorating the torsos, and of course a decorative hood or covering over the eyes.

"That must be the Sky Scourge, eh?" Noa asked. He’d walked in unnoticed while Seto was showing off his work to Yami.

"It sure is," Yami said happily.

Noa grinned back, and slyly added, "Figures. It’s a race of bondage freaks."

* * *

Deleted scene 2

"Well, I'm not going to ask Rafael to play a girl. He’d be a damn freakish looking chick. So I guess the Amazonesses will be led by a king," Seto responded once Mai was done making her suggestions after another round of game testing.

Mai scoffed at that. "So? Hello, they're Amazonesses..."

"So?" Seto shot back.


Seto waved his hand dismissively at her. "So they're better off with a man leading them anyhow."

Mai’s face reddened in anger. "I swear to God... you are the biggest chauvenist pig, Seto Kaiba!"

Seto’s expression didn’t change a bit. "… So?"

Mokuba winced as the outraged blonde stormed out of the conference room. "She does bring up a good point though. Nii-sama, you’re going to turn off female players if you don’t put in some queens." Immediately he had to get the image of Seto spitefully putting in a bunch of drag queens in the game out of his mind. No no no…

Seto didn’t look like he was giving it much consideration at first, but after a long pause he glanced over at his youngest brother. "Are you volunteering then?"


"To play a queen."

Considering he’d played a number of female characters in MMOs in the past, Mokuba didn’t see why that’d be a problem, as long as the character wasn’t just a copy of him in drag. "Oh… well, I don’t mind, as long as she doesn’t look like me."

"You tell me… you’d be in charge of those graphics," Seto reminded him with a smile.