the_goldenpath: made by <lj user="torakaka"> (Yu-Gi-Oh! - Puzzleshipping fics)
[personal profile] the_goldenpath
Title: Matarab leena ahbaab (Return our loved ones to us)
Fandom: Yu-Gi-Oh!
Pairings: Yuumeishipping ('yami' x 'hikari')
Genre: (AU) supernatural, romance
Warnings: sappy angst and melodrama.
Summary: Bakura Ryou, renowned archaeologist, has followed into the footsteps of his father, working for the government at an excavation site in Egypt. After discovering the palace of a long forgotten Pharaoh, Ryou, together with his good friend Yugi and the local guide Malik, is suddenly pulled into a series of events that will change his life forever.

Key: ----- = scene change



----------------------------



Ryou fired up the laptop to continue his work on the pottery shards and the wooden carving of a scarab, the items the workers had dug up while freeing up the stairs. In accordance with the stipulations of his excavation permit from the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry, he was obliged to catalogue and document anything he found. Yuugi had already uploaded the pictures of the items, and the powerful software (developed by KaibaCorp., of course) had rendered 3D images, allowing Ryou to study the objects from every side and angle. With a bit of luck, he could at least identify the age and style of the carving. The pottery shards were too generic to tie them to any Pharaoh or dynasty. After the fiasco of the stairs leading to nowhere, or rather, to a heavy wall with nothing but sand behind it, he needed something positive, something amazing. He refused to believe that his father had been wrong, he refused to believe that anything his father had written down was wrong or inaccurate… but he hadn’t touched the diary as of late, unable to deal with more disappointment. Ryou scrolled through the images. Yuugi had shown him that the cartouche was damaged. Perhaps he could try to figure out what exactly had been removed or altered… and just as he was about to click on the file, Jounouchi raced past his tent, calling for his friend Honda. Ryou was startled by Jounouchi’s loud yelling, but there was an excitement in his voice that piqued his curiosity. He left the tent quickly, forgetting about any protection from the sun. Jounouchi was gesturing wildly at Honda, flailing with his arms, while Honda tried to calm him down. What was going on?

“Jounouchi-san?” he called for him.

“At the wall, at the wall!” Jounouchi yelled back at him.

“The wall?” Ryou looked over his shoulder. He assumed Jounouchi was talking about the wall at the end of the stairs, and wondered if something had been discovered after all. He hurried towards the corner of the excavation site, where he saw Yuugi and Malik standing together.

“Ryou-kun,” Yuugi said as soon as he saw him, with a usual smile - but Ryou knew his friend well enough by now to see the strain behind it.

“Yuugi-kun? Everything all right?”

“There’s something behind this wall,” Malik said, almost hesitant.

“Really?”

“Empty space,” Yuugi said.

“We established it was a side entrance to the temple….”

“No, it’s not,” Malik interrupted him. “It’s something else.”

Ryou gawked. If anything, the guide had been so adamant about the side entrance, that it was plain… shocking to hear him deny his earlier words. “Something else… what?”

“I don’t know.” Yuugi was obviously embarrassed. Ryou was stunned.

“Yuugi-kun, if there’s anything I should know… I’m your friend…”

“Of course you are!” Yuugi refused to look at him, though. “But Malik-kun and I… we think that there’s something behind this wall that shouldn’t be uncovered.”

“We were caught off guard by Jounouchi,” Malik said. “Or else we would’ve kept it quiet.”

“There are no such things as curses or ghosts, or haunted tombs or temples,” Ryou said. “Yuugi, you’ve been to several excavation sites with me, and nothing about it bothered you before.”

“That was before this happened,” Yuugi said, voice low. Ryou didn’t know what was unsettling him more; Yuugi’s grave voice, or the brash guide’s sudden meekness. He was at a loss of words, and it was somehow a relief when Jounouchi and Honda arrived with their equipment.

“All right guys, get out of the way,” Jounouchi said. “We’re going to set up the equipment here.”

“Shouldn’t I call for the workers?” Ryou asked, intimidated by the complicated technology that apparently held no secrets to Jounouchi and Honda.

“Hammer and chisel are so outdated,” Honda said as he positioned a large black box in front of the wall with the cartouche, and connected all kinds of cables. “This baby works with compressed air and has its own generator.”

“Air pressure? Isn’t that going to damage the wall?”

“The precision of this equipment is unsurpassed,” Jounouchi said. “Compared to any other cutting techniques, like laser, it’s far more accurate and less damaging to the original material.”

“Besides, the workers with their old-fashioned tools would damage the wall much more than this thing ever could.” Honda pressed a few buttons. “Ah, still charged, 100%!”

“Awesome,” Jounouchi said. He grabbed more equipment to attach and connect to each other, and Ryou stepped aside to give them all the room he needed.

“Sahib Bakura,” Mahmoud had walked up to him, “what’s happening here?”

“We think we found another place to dig,” Ryou explained. “A side entrance…” He avoided Malik’s gaze. “Mahmoud, get us flashlights, water and rope… and some glow sticks too.”

“Do you really think this is the entrance to the nameless Pharaoh’s tomb, sahib?” Mahmoud’s eyes widened. “Could it be?”

“I’m not sure… but these are my father’s coordinates, and even though we were thrown off guard with the false wall, I think Yuugi and Malik here found a better spot to start the excavation…”

“Do you want me to stop all the work on the stairs and wall?”

“For now, yes. It’s a dead end, literally… please gather the supplies, Mahmoud.”

The man nodded and went away, calling for the brothers Fatih and Youssef to help him. Ryou turned around to watch Jounouchi and Honda setting up the equipment. They were nearly done; Jounouchi was holding two cable extensions, not knowing what to do with it.

“Gimme those, you idiot,” Honda said. The KaibaCorp. logo, the shiny big KC initials, caught some of the sun and flickered. Ryou squinted. He didn’t like it that both Yuugi and Malik were so silent, yet anxious. Why wasn’t his friend talking to him? Had he done something wrong? Something he said?

“Let’s give it a test ride.” Honda uncovered the control panel and pressed more buttons. Yuugi and Malik took a step back as the barrel of the air compressor whirred. Honda grinned. “It’s working nicely!” Jounouchi hopped from foot to foot. After the generator had provided the cannon of the air pressure unit with enough power, it blasted at the wall. Ryou was amazed; it was indeed a clean cutting process, with minimal debris. Jounouchi had programmed the air pressure cannon to start away from the cartouche, so that part of the wall wouldn’t be in any danger should something go awry with the equipment. Honda straightened himself, looking satisfied.

“It’s going to take a while,” he said, “to cut an opening large enough for us to pass. I have to make sure the generator isn’t overloading or overheating the cannon, so… if anyone could fetch me something to drink and something to sit on?”

Ryou had to chuckle. “We’ll fulfill your every wish, Honda-san. I asked Mahmoud to gather some supplies, I’m sure he can find a stool somewhere.”

“Excellent.” Honda focused his attention on the control panel. Yuugi stood next to the wall, concentrating if he could hear that voice again. The constant whirring of the generator providing the air pressure cannon with power, and the cannon in itself made more than enough noise, rendering it virtually impossible to pick up on any voices. Yuugi wasn’t about to give up, but Malik suddenly put a hand on his shoulder.

“You should get out of the sun,” he said. “You’re standing directly below it, you’re going to get a heatstroke.”

Ryou realized he wasn’t wearing any protection either, and Jounouchi and Honda were all out in the full sun as well. “I’ll go get some stuff,” he mumbled and walked briskly back to his tent. As he was gathering cloaks and sun tan lotion, he noticed his father’s diary, on the table. Many of his fellow archaeologists had respected him, and had been interested in this nameless Pharaoh. As neither his father, nor Ryou himself had been able to find any hard evidence about his Pharaoh, their peers had stopped supporting them and had abandoned the project, one by one. He grabbed the diary from the table. This time, he was going to turn the tables around. He was going to uncover the Pharaoh’s tomb, and he was going to prove that his father was right all along! With his arms full, Ryou returned to his friends and distributed the cloaks and the lotion. Mahmoud had brought the first of the supplies, including water. While the rest quenched their thirst, Ryou checked the backpacks: flashlights, glow sticks…everything seemed to be in order. The air pressure cannon worked diligently, but after a couple of hours Honda switched it off, as to prevent overloading the equipment. They used the break to have something to eat, but nobody was able to focus on the food (except for Jounouchi). This was going to be it, and the whole camp was brimming with excitement. The workers were curious as well, but Ryou send the majority back to base camp. As he trusted Mahmoud, Fatih and Youssef, he kept them around, especially for muscle power. You never know, despite being in the middle of the desert…

Honda switched the equipment back on. Ryou put the digital camera in Yuugi’s backpack, along with the video camera. He wasn’t sure if recording was possible once they would enter the hallway, but he wanted to be prepared for anything. Malik returned after bringing the workers to the base camp, and he was curious to learn about the progress.

“Just another hour or so,” Jounouchi estimated. “Then we can start on removing the part we have just cut. See that pulley over there? That’s going to help lifting the block.”

“That’s going to require quite the manpower,” Malik commented. He showed a small grin as he noticed the muscular Fatih and Youssef. “I see you’re well provided!”

“We’ll all help out,” Ryou said, but he knew his puny arms wouldn’t be able to make much of a difference, and Yuugi was too short to put in any kind of strength. As the cutting progressed, the excitement intensified and became feverish. When the air pressure cannon finished, Jounouchi attached hooks and strong cables to the wall and ordered everyone to back up the pulley. Fatih and Youssef ignored Ryou and Yuugi, obviously the weakest ones when it came to physical strength; Yuugi blushed in embarrassment.

“All right, pull!” Jounouchi checked the hooks and cables for the second time. It was a pity that the hooks damaged the wall, but plain stone didn’t hold any archeological value. The most important thing was to keep the cartouche intact; other damage was simply unavoidable.

“Pull!” A collective grunt, and the grinding noises of the pulley shrieked through the air. Jounouchi kept a close look on the wall; if the stone was going to rupture, he had to adjust the cables and manpower. “Just a little bit more!”

“It’s moving,” Honda said.

“It’s opening,” Jounouchi added. With combined strength and effort, the cut-out part of the wall came loose. As he was the closest, Jounouchi craned his neck and stuck out his arm. “I can already get through it!”

“No Jounouchi-san, wait!” Ryou jumped forward and grabbed Jounouchi at the upper arm. “Don’t!”

“What?” Jounouchi looked at him, surprised. “What’s the matter?”

“Archaeologists never rush,” Ryou said. “We have to wait until the gases have dissipated.”

“What gases?”

“This entrance or corridor has been sealed off for centuries,” Ryou explained. “There’s a natural build up of gases, due to bacteria and molds… we can’t rush in like this, unless you thought of bringing oxygen masks?”

“Damnit,” Honda said. “We should’ve brought some kind of robot, a drone, to do the exploring first.”

“We don’t have to wait for days,” Ryou shushed him. “Just give it two hours. In the meantime, we can continue our preparations.”

“All right.” Jounouchi motioned for the others to stop working the pulley. The opening was large enough for a human to pass. He leaned a little forward and took a firm whiff. “Yeah, I can smell something rotten in there!”

“Jounouchi-san, I just told you to wait! Don’t stick your head in it…”

“Yeah, yeah, you’re right. Lemme get my backpack.”

Ryou tilted his head. “Excuse me?”

“What?”

“You don’t think you are going to go in, do you?”

“As KaibaCorp.’s representatives…”

“No.” Ryou took a deep breath. “You and Honda are not archeologists. You’re not going underground with us. Yuugi, Malik and I are trained in the Ancient Egyptian culture and mentality, and even we don’t know what’ll await us. But when something happens, we are better prepared and knowledgeable enough to deal with it. You have an advantage with technology, yes, but you don’t know Ancient Egyptian tombs and temples.”

“I don’t have to remind you that without KaibaCorp., this whole expedition wouldn’t exist,” Jounouchi said.

“You don’t have to, and I don’t care,” Ryou said. “I don’t care if you claim this dig and this discovery in the name of Kaiba Seto himself, God or whatever other creature. This is for your own safety. If this entrance truly leads to a temple or a tomb, it could be paved with traps and other dangers, that can’t be solved with modern-day technology. I don’t want people to die during my watch, because they were either too impatient or too ignorant!”

His words seem to impress Jounouchi, who turned silent. Honda looked pensive, but he didn’t need much time to reach the same conclusion as Jounouchi.

“You’ve got a point,” he said. Slightly miffed though, he pulled out a few devices from the huge black box the air pressure equipment had come in. “Take these along with you, then. If there’s any kind of trouble…”

Ryou accepted the handheld transceivers, and passed one on to Yuugi and Malik. “We’re going in for an hour, then we’ll return. Safety for everything.” He noticed Yuugi’s hands trembling. “Yuugi-kun…”

“It’s the excitement,” Yuugi said. He wasn’t lying. He had almost forgotten about the strange voice during the time it took to open up a passage. It was the familiar sensation of a discovery, of unearthing something from ancient time, of bringing history back to life again… he had been watching in awe, and his initial wariness had transcended into curiosity and excitement.

“Set the transceivers all to this frequency,” Jounouchi said and demonstrated how the small device worked. “It’s a pretty powerful connection, so you don’t have to worry; no matter how far or deep you’ll go, we can hear you.”

“Thank you.” Ryou tightened his grip on his flashlight. “Everybody ready?”

“Ready!” Yuugi beamed at him, while Malik mumbled: “Ready as can be.”

“Good luck,” Jounouchi said. “We’ll take care of things here.”

“Thank you,” Ryou said again and took another deep breath. He switched on his flashlight and shone ahead of him, straight into the gaping darkness.

His stomach went up and down as he took the first steps. The air was that familiar scent of dust, decay, mold and ancient times, as he liked to describe it. One hour would be more than enough for the first exploration. Careful, Ryou went step by step, while inspecting the floor and the walls. Breathing behind him - Yuugi and Malik, following him, their steps also careful. Not a few meters in, Ryou’s strong flashlight shone upon a huge painting and he let out a cry of… happiness? Relief?

“Ryou-kun!” Yuugi turned into his direction. “Oh, my!”

“This alone was worth it, it was all worth it!” Ryou wanted to burst out in tears. The painting, from floor to ceiling, depicted a scenery from the Book of the Dead: the weighing of the heart on the scale of Ma’at. It was lively in colors and completely intact - safe for one, very important detail.

“The name,” Malik said. “Look at how it’s been removed.”

“With ultimate precision,” Yuugi said. Now they would never know who’s heart had been weighed. He felt so, so sorry. That voice that had told him so loudly that he was here, wasn’t only disembodied, but also nameless… could it be that they were really on the road to discover the nameless Pharaoh’s tomb?

“This can’t be a side entrance,” Ryou whispered. “This has to be his tomb, I’m sure of it.”

“Don’t get carried away,” Malik said, as brash as he used to be. “It can still be a fake, or to make us think we are in a tomb.”

“Malik-kun is right,” Yuugi said, but not defeated. “We have to scope the entire hallway before we can conclude what this is all about.”

“I agree. Can you record this, Yuugi-kun? Do you have enough light?”

“If Malik can hold his flashlight like that… yes, exactly there!”

Ryou and Malik stood as still as a statue while Yuugi used the video camera. “It looks like it was painted yesterday,” he said.

“No matter how often I see it, on a picture, on TV, or in real life, it humbles me every time,” Ryou said. “Look at it, just look at it!”

“Meh,” Malik shrugged.

“The hour’s almost up,” Yuugi said as he turned the video camera off. “Are we going back?”

“Just a little more.” Ryou couldn’t help himself. It was just too exciting! As they continued, step by step, they found inscriptions on the wall; hieroglyphs that all three of them could read, but didn’t add anything new in particular. Nothing about the interred person (or Pharaoh), nothing the three of them hadn’t seen earlier in Ancient Egyptian tombs. Ryou was convinced this was a tomb, it just had to be! He was only worried that the hallway was just that: a hallway, with no side chambers, with no solid proof this was a tomb after all… frantically, he searched the walls for more paintings, for more hieroglyphs, for any indication of a name… his fingers touched the wall, sliding past the carved scriptures as he continued his search.

“Ryou-kun, don’t get too far ahead,” Yuugi called out to him. “We have to get back anyway…” His words got cut short by a rattling sound.

“What was that?” Malik clutched the flashlight to his chest.

“Did anyone of you touch anything?” Ryou all but barked, conveniently forgetting that he had been all over the hieroglyphs himself. The sound came from far away, an ominous thunder, rolling from a depth beyond their exploration, and picking up in volume fast.

“That’s it, let’s go back right now,” Malik said. Ryou nodded. Safety for everything, hadn’t he been preaching it to Jounouchi not an hour ago? He had crossed the time limit by far, and he was going to endanger Malik and Yuugi if he was going to be even more reckless… but as he took one step forward, a stone wall shifted in front of him, cutting him off of his friends. He was thrown back by the force of the wall moving, and he dropped his flashlight as he fell on the floor.

“Ryou-kun!” Yuugi bumped with his fist on the wall. “Ryou-kun!”

“This is a trap,” Malik said. “We have to get back!”

“We can’t leave him here!” Yuugi yelled, exasperated. Malik shook his head.

“We have to get Jounouchi and Honda,” he said. “We can use that air pressure thing to cut through the wall!”

Yuugi calmed down. “Good thinking, Malik-kun,” he said, slightly relieved. “In all the tombs I’ve been, I’ve never seen a trap like-” and he sank through the floor.

“Yuugi!” Malik watched in horror as he disappeared. The stone hadn’t crumbled at all, it had just vanished, along with Yuugi! Agitated, Malik reached for the transceiver and yelled for help. He took a few steps back, uncertain, scared by the rattling sounds, closing in on him. He dropped the transceiver and made a beeline for the opening, back to the surface, back to the desert and the excavation site. Something hit him in the back and gasping in pain, Malik barely managed to keep his balance. A few more steps, and he called out for help, but the opening seemed further and further away, an infinitesimal line of daylight, laughing at him, mocking him. No, it wasn’t the daylight laughing at him. It was that voice again. Laughing, taunting, torturing… and Malik was stopped dead in his tracks as darkness enveloped him. He too dropped his flashlight, its glass shattering on the cold, hard stone floor.

----------------------------




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