BY : Davinia
Category: Yu-Gi-Oh > AU - Alternate Universe
Dragon prints: 347
Disclaimer: I don't own Yugioh or make any profit.

A/N: this fic was written as sfw but there may be some sauce at the end :)



A timer beeped and Yami kicked himself away from the desk, his chair moving him gracefully across the room. The food processor was on the far wall and it was dinner time. He had the system memorized, his routine so consistent he no longer needed the alarms. It had been, what – three years now? Four? He did not like thinking about it too much, but everyday was essentially the same thing.

Get up, check the data, write a report. Check the data again, maybe launch a probe - he had oodles of time to do whatever he pleased in-between. After finishing the third report he would sleep and start the cycle over. Every 168 hours he would send a data packet back to Earth, a compilation of all his findings, and that was his job in a nut shell. Nine years and he would have a large enough pension to situate himself for life.

Of course, on Earth, nearly 300 years would have passed in that same time. That was the problem with interstellar travel and why his job was compensated so well. All his family would be dead by the time he returned – if he returned. These recon missions were not always successful. And, for a bigger bonus, Yami had chosen this one because someone else had already gone missing. It had happened around the time 'star-madness' was said to kick in. The boredom of living in isolation, stuck in a seven-by-four-meter room for years on-end. It caused its own variety of 'cabin-fever'. One that drove pilots mad and often resulted in crashed ships.

Yami suspected this was the case for the girl that had gone before him. He had looked up her bio and saw nothing abnormal in her final data transmissions. Her academy results were also spotless, but the assessments were easy enough to bluff through. They could not filter for this phenomenon and he was pretty confident he would be fine. He had packed over ten years worth of games and books to keep himself occupied and mentally sound. But even so, he rarely felt like playing them any more. Maybe he was on the verge. Loosing track of time was probably his first error.

The girl who disappeared had been a bright-eyed brunette with a grand future ahead of her. She had been born into a farming family on Titan, joined the military early, and created quite the record for herself. She could have chosen a vastly different career, but her family was poor and scheduled to receive part of her pension. It was the opposite for Yami; she did it for her family, while he did it to get away from his.

He yawned, picking at the lid before kicking off the wall and rolling back over to his desk. Lots of people would be tried of rehydrated food by now, but ramen was one of his favourites. Still, he did not feel like eating.

He adjusted his headset and stretched, clicking through various wave lengths, like he always did. Then, something strange picked up on the radio. He flittered for the frequency. A voice became clear.

"Hello? Is anyone getting this? Hello?"

It was the first voice he had heard in… years.

He had almost forgotten how beautiful it could sound.

Personally, he had refused to get in the habit of talking to himself. His training recommended it, but too many used the recordings to question the sanity of pilots when they returned to Earth. For that reason, he had removed and stashed the microphone somewhere. He did not want to become another statistic.

He pushed over the mountain of empty food containers, knocking it to the floor. He had papers everywhere and had to excavate to find the where he had left the case. He fetched it, took out the microphone, and clipped it in place before bringing the tech back online.

He cleared his throat and tested his voice before hitting the PTT and transmitting out. "This is ISRT- 251139, I hear you."

"Oh my god!" The relief was palpable. "My-My name is Yugi Mutou, of the Aralia. We crash landed, I-I don't exactly know … I just woke up in the cryo bay, maybe three hours ago? Everyone is dead or still in cryo. I don't know what's happening, but I can't reach anyone else. C-can you send help?" He sounded on the verge of tears.

"Hold on Yugi, I need to try and narrow in on where you are." It was actually more complicated than Yami let on. "Do you have any atmo-readings or access to the ship's last positioning data?"

"Oh, you're still there. No, all the power is out. The engine has ruptured and is shedding radiation like crazy, I can't get any where near the backup battery. All I have is the emergency radio from the bio-lab and my omni-tool. I'll keep searching for supplies."

Yami clicked his tongue in agitation. His entire job consisted of scanning planets for their potential hospitability and resources. Yugi was probably with a team, sent to investigate something Yami had found years ago. If that was true, the planet should be in Yami's files - somewhere. There was almost too many to count. But he had to work quickly, before his craft moved out of range. For Yugi's sake, he needed to get the location into his next report or else any survivors of the Aralia would be stranded. Potentially for longer than Yugi's natural life span allowed.

Crying came over the line.


"Oh? You're still there? I thought you were gone. I thought-"


"Yugi. How long between now and the last time I spoke?"

"You're back again! Um, two hours. Maybe?"

Double shit. It may have only been seconds for him, but time was passing much faster for Yugi. Yami rose from his desk and did something he never thought he would; he powered down the engines and went derelict.

"Yugi can you hear me?"

"Yes! Yes, I can!"

"How much time?"

"Ten minutes?"


"Oh, that was only a small delay. Di-did you land?"

"No, I'm not near anything. But if this works, I will keep the engines off until I know someone's coming for you."

"Oh my god, thank you! Wait, oh I'm sorry, I never asked your name?"

"It's Yami."

"Thank you, Yami. Thank you so much."

He felt his cheeks flush at the warm praise. It was so nice to hear another person's voice.

"Oh, um, I looked around a bit when you didn't call back. There's black soil outside, volcanic not chernozem. The ship is split apart. I could not find any food beyond a bag of chips someone hid in the security office. Most people were either ejected during the crash, or made it to the escape pods. I don't know which. I'm guessing this is one of the smaller pieces. The bridge likely held together and there could be other survivors. Have you heard from anyone else?"

Yami bit his lip. He did not want Yugi to lose hope or panic. "You're the first to call in, but if I can narrow-in on your signal, I might be able to tell if anyone else is broadcasting from a separate network. The ship's communication tower must still have power if you are able to transmit-"

"That's because I'm using the back-up batteries in the empty cryopods to keep the lab's power running. It gets very cold at night."

"It has already been a day?"

"It takes about sixteen hours for the planet to rotate."

"And it's a planet, not a moon?"

"I don't know. It could be on either. I have mostly stayed on the ship, this piece of it anyway..."

"Well, try to find out for me and I will dig through the records. You are breathing so that puts you within a goldilocks range for habitability. What was the Aralia's mission?"

"We are a research vessel, on our way to Asclepius-7. I was supposed to be in cryo until we arrived, but was woken early - during the crash, I think. My father, Solomon Mutou, was our captain, and Arthur Hawkins, his best friend, was our lead bio-engineer. I wish I could wake the others, but I'd have to sacrifice a lot of power and… I really don't want to lose contact with you."

Yami smiled, attempting to sound reassuring, "I won't leave you."

"Thank you…" Yugi's voice shook. "You said your name was Yami, right? As in, the, Yami Sennen?"

That was odd.

"Yes?" He paused and sat up from scanning the backlogs on his terminal. "How do you know me?"

Yugi had a nervous laugh. "Oh, um, lots of people do. Your father is famous, that makes you - 'The legendary run away'."

Yami frowned. He was trying to get away from his past. "People aren't serious calling me that, are they?"

"The news papers did, right after you left… Sorry, I know its weird, but I was curious after I noticed you like to hide messages in your reports. The repeated syntax, or, sometimes using the first word in a sentence. It has been fun, solving your riddles." Yugi's voice was warm and full of mirth. "The Aralia is actually using your data, so I've seen a lot of your work. I looked up some things about you, but I never expected... Well, I'm glad its you. I feel like I'm calling a friend."

Yami's surprise was candid, "You noticed my riddles?" He was genuinely impressed. "You should tell me about yourself then, otherwise its a bit one-sided."

Yami muted his mic and coughed. He needed water, his throat was not used to this kind of strain anymore. He also needed Yugi to keep talking. It would help the computer track the signal while Yami skimmed through the old data.

There was only 37 hours left before the next transmission fired to Earth. Yugi's location would need to be attached to the packet and linked with the emergency broadcast. If Yami planned it that way, anyone in the area could pick-up on the signal and expedite a rescue. Otherwise, Yugi might be stuck for decades.

He would send it manually, but for power reasons, the large broadcasts were on a fixed schedule. If he was to complete the journey and not trap himself in space, to die hungry and alone, he could only sit derelict for a week before he would have to leave. If he pushed beyond that, he would put himself at risk of losing power before reaching Sigma-12. Every minute was precious in interstellar space.

But this also meant his next broadcast would arrive "early" - about 10 years before it was expected. This would flag it in the system and draw attention. Yugi would get a rescue, but if Yami had to start moving again, at least 25 years may pass on Earth before it was received. That meant it had to be on this transmission.

He clicked his mic back on and returned to his desk. "So, if you were on Earth for the tournament, how old are you now?"

"Nineteen. I have been in cryo for… forty years? You should have seen me flop around when I first woke up – uh, strike that, no should ever... Please ignore what you heard."

Yami chuckled, it sounded much deeper than he remembered his laugh being. "Did you know I've never been in cyro?"

"Really? Well, I guess you were 17 when you left... Oh no... I sound like a stalker, don't I?"

Yami grinned, he rarely smiled showing teeth, but no one was around to see. "I prefer your 'friend' theory. How does the old saying go? 'A stranger is a friend you haven't met yet' - something like that?"

"You're sweet. Thanks for not making this weird." Yugi grew quiet. "You know, you are always frowning in your photos. It's nice to hear you laugh. Truth be told, I'm actually really scared."

"That's normal."

Yami froze at his own nonchalant tone. Would it be hurtful to talk like that? He swallowed, trying to remember what it felt like to be comforted. His mother called him callous and unfeeling the day he left. It was hard to know if he was already broken, or if this lack of empathy was new. Either way, he tried to sound sincere, "You don't need to be scared. The computer has tracked you to a star cluster and there are only three goldilocks in that zone. It's enough to launch a rescue, but if you can help me narrow it down, I can send them an exact location."

"Really?" Yugi's voice was so hopeful, it pulled on his heart-strings. Maybe he wasn't dead inside after-all. "I...Yeah, of course. Whatever you need. Thank you, Yami."

"No need to thank me yet, we need to get you safe first."

"Heh, not even a little praise?"

"None required."

Yugi snorted and it picked up on the radio. He must have turned the mic on instead of clicking the PTT. It would drain the power faster, but they were talking consistently.

Still, it concerned Yami. He was always conscientious about resource consumption.

"How many cryopods are you able to syphon power from? You said you were using the shields because it's cold."

"Oh? Um, let me see." The line went quiet as Yugi presumably started counting. "There are fourteen empty pods, including the one I came from."

"And how many are occupied?"

"We had 60 on board, but some sheered off during the crash."

"You were very lucky."

"I know…"

"Don't feel guilty."



Yugi sighed.

"If there are any cracked pods you may as well count them along with the 14. Over the next hour you should watch and let me know how quickly that shield eats through the battery. I don't expect one will get you through the night."

Another of Yami's alarms went off, letting him know it was time for his third report. The fact that he wasn't moving meant that the data would become useless after he published this one. He could probably stop writing them for a while.

"What was that sound? Are you okay?"

He smiled at Yugi's concern. "Just the computer letting me know a report is due."

"Oh? Sorry, I'm keeping you. I'll turn the radio off and message again when I can answer your question about the power."

"No! Uh... Lets keep talking- at least for the hour. You might fall asleep otherwise."

Smooth Yami. Real smooth. That did not sound desperate at all.

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah… You said earlier that you're an anthropologist? How did someone with your training end up on the Aralia?"

A spritely tone hummed against his ear. "Hmm, well, if you are interested, my PhD is focused on spaceflight and how humans cope. I am mostly interested in how community forms during long travel, but if you are willing to be interviewed, I would love to add an izzert to my research."

Yami cringed, choking back a growl of disapproval. "Please don't try to analyze me."

Yugi laughed, clearly anticipating the response like the punchline of a joke. "That's not what anthropologists do. I'm not a shrink. I'd just ask questions. Small things, like, 'what is your daily routine', 'what do you find tedious' – all easy things that have simple answers and would only be valuable in their original context. It might be used in later ethnographies, to contrast or support other research, but that would not be my intention." His tone alighted, "I wouldn't even need to include your name."

Yami's voice turned playful as well. "Why Yugi, I am beginning to suspect you will include me no matter what I say."

"Ack! There are ethics, Yami." Yugi did not sound as offended as he pretended. "I'm sworn, never, to betray the trust of any of my informants. Even if my entire PhD rests on your testimonial, you can revoke consent at any time. But I am interested in your life. Seven years it a long time to be alone."

"I'm in it for nine."

"What!? How is that legal? Why would you- oh, please tell me you will let me interview you."

Yami sighed. It was louder than he expected.

Yugi heard. His excitement dipped.

"I'm sorry Yami. It was cruel to ask. I know the recon teams have a hard life. It was insensitiv-"

"It's fine," Yami spat the words. He did not mean it aggressively.

Yugi was quiet on the other end.

A silence slipped between them.

Yami stood from his desk and paced around. He could not hear static from the other end so Yugi must have turned off the mic. He was annoyed, but hated the silence more. His tiny world, this small box, felt suddenly smaller.


"I'm sorry…" He could hear the nearness of tears through Yugi's watery tone. "Please don't leave me…"

"I won't."

There was a sniffle, and intermittent shuffling. Yugi must have been holding the radio to his chest and accidentally hitting the PTT, because not everything Yami said seemed to go through.

Yami's sleep alarm went off. He was trained and his body felt tired at the tone.

Yugi's weak voice returned. "What was that?"

"It is easy to lose track of time. The recon teams have strict alarms that keep our bodies on a circadian rhythm. I am a pavlovian dog, Yugi. I feel like I am going to pass out."

"I did not know that was a technique they used. But - you should go to bed then. I've been selfish to occupy your time like this."

"No, I want to talk. Yours is the first voice I've heard in" – how long was it now? – "a long time."

There was some strength returning to Yugi's voice. "There is only ten minutes left on the timer. Can a space puppy hold out that long?"

Yami snorted. His body went through the motions of systematically powering down all the non-essential systems. He was already in bed before he realised Yugi had stopped talking.

He started to answer but yawned.

Yugi snickered.

"Don't laugh, its hard to fight it."

"Then don't, I'll be fine. I can monitor the shields."

Yami hummed against the microphone. In his head, he was still answering questions.

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