Yadar. Nothing more than a vest desert island with sand saturated with hundreds of mechanoids. There is the Machina, machines that live side by side with people, helping them out in their everyday lives. Then there are the Reaverbots, robotic soldiers made to fight wars and guarding ruins or temples. However, in the past 500 years, the world has been in a great war. Some say that it was Yadar to blame, for its Machina reproduction. It now lies in ruins, the sand completely blanketing the buildings and any other left over Machina. A couple other islands lie in ruins but not as badly as Yadar. Times are tough; people lived out their lives out in slum-like towns. To keep the civilization going, digging guilds have been formed to excavate and possibly rebuild the home that was destroyed long ago…Chapter 1
The day was blessed with clear, blue skies and not a cloud in sight. Mark Kazaragi, a seventeen-year-old male, strolled quietly into a local card shop wearing a grey, hooded robe to protect his clothes underneath from winds full of sand. With the jingle of the bell that hung by the door, the shop owner jumped up with surprise.
"Well, hello there Mark," the owner greeted with a smile. "What brings you here? Don't you have work today?"
"Yeah, I'm taking a bit of a 'break' for now," Mark responded slyly with a smirk. "Got any opponents for me today?"
"I'll be your opponent, Mark!" declared Josh, a Caucasian young man with brown peaked hair and a determined personality. "And this time, I'm gonna win, and your stupid Leviathan card will be mine"
"If it's so stupid, then why do you want it?" asked Mark, cocking an eye nonchalantly.
"Shut up," Josh spat with scorn. "Let's duel already."
Josh settled down at a nearby table, rolling up his baggy brown pants and wrinkling his blue shirt all at once. Mark slipped off his gray robe, revealing his baggy baize pants, a gray shirt, and bulky black goggles. They set up their decks and began playing a card game called Duel Monsters, a rather popular game around that area. A couple of hours later, the game was tied one to one. Mark had one card in defense mode while his opponent possessed a much stronger monster, wielding 2500 attack points.
"Okay Mark," began Josh callously. "I play this Raigeki card which destroys your stupid face down card and attack you directly."
Mark quickly uncovered the face down trap card Mirror Force, which deflected the attack and destroys all of Josh's monsters that are in attack position. Mark chuckled lightly and gave a little smirk upon seeing his opponent's jaw dropping in utter surprise.
"I believe it's my turn now," he proclaimed.
Mark drew a magic card called Pot of Greed. After drawing two cards, he managed to get a Graceful Charity, a card that allowed him to draw even more cards. After discarding two cards, he made his winning move.
"Okay, watch this douche-bag," he bantered Josh. "I play Monster Reborn to bring back my Leviathan from the graveyard. Next I play Legendary Ocean; then sacrifice that to wipe the field clean with my monsters special effect; then attack you with 2600 attack points."
Josh couldn't believe his eyes.
"Heh, you were lucky," he exclaimed, tightly clutching his fists. "I couldn't get the cards I needed!"
The owner laughed at the young man's excuse while putting cards away in the glass display box near the counter.
"Okay," said Mark. "Let's play again, and you can go first this time."
"Ha, this time I can't lose," replied Josh egotistically.
The next game was under way with Mark messing around with the frantic Josh by using his Fiber Jar card, which starts the game over when flipped.
"Stop doing that!" Josh yelled out in annoyance each time that happened.
"Ha, ha, I can't help it," chuckled Mark. "It likes me."
The owner shook his head and snickered.
"Mark can't be stopped," he spoke up. "He's probably the best duelist in Yadar."
While walking pass by the two, he notices a strange girl outside with short blond hair and wearing red body protecting gear with matching gray gloves.
"Uh, Mark I think—" began the owner.
"Not now," interrupted Mark. "I'm gonna win this one."
The owner persistently poked Mark and then grabbed his head to show him who was at the door. Mark's eyes went wide with surprise and fear.
"Oh, shit!" he exclaimed suddenly, grabbing his cards and gear. "Oh god! Oh crap! Oh mommy!"
"What's wrong, Mark?" Josh asked arrogantly. "Debt collectors?"
The owner responded in a nervous tone. "No… worse."
The door suddenly flies open, crashing into the opposite wall.
"All right, you nerds!" cried out the girl in a fit of anger. "Where's Mark Kazaragi?!"
She grabs Josh by his collar, almost choking him.
"Okay doughnut puncher," she demanded forcefully. "Where's Mark?!"
"Eh, why should I tell you?" Josh retorted, barely breathing.
The girl suddenly turns sweet and innocent
"Hee, hee," she began. " 'Cause if you don't, I'm gonna fuckin' rip your nuts out and spoon feed them down YOUR FUCKING THROAT! NOW TELL ME WHERE HE IS, GODDAMMIT!"
Josh slowly but surely points to a little wooden box with legs poking out, slowly walking out the door.
Maybe, if I'm very quiet she won't notice, me, thought Mark, hiding conspicuously inside.
"Ah-ha! I found you!"
The girl effortlessly tosses Josh to a wall, his cards flying everywhere. She picks up the box to discover nothing.
"How the hell?" she thought out loud.
After turning her head covertly, she sees Mark sneaking with a cardboard piece covering his face.
"I can see you, Mark," she articulated, crossing her arms.
"What gave me away?" he asks innocently as he puts down the cardboard. He sees the girl has an angry look on her face. "What's with the look? I was only gone for a couple of…"
"Hours," the girl finished his sentence. "Mark, do you realize how much trouble you're in now? Boss is going to kick you out of the guild!"
Mark sauntered to his sand speeder with both arms locked behind his head.
"Are you listening?" she yelled at him.
"YES ALREADY!" replied Mark, exasperated. "Shit, woman. You're always on my back. Okay, so I screwed up. Big fucking deal. I'll just explain to Boss that I simply lost track of time. What's the worse that could happen?"
"Mark, you're fired."
"WHAT?" Mark exclaimed in disbelief. "But… but how? Why?"
"Well duh," his boss responded with an angry western accent. "You've been absent numerous times, not to mention how you've stolen some of the materials we find."
"Hey," defended Mark. "Some bills of mine needed to be paid."
"And may I add," interrupted Boss. "Your illegal card gambling ring."
"Ah, good times, good times," Mark spoke up with a dreaming smile.
Boss gave Mark a disgruntled look and then sighed heavily. His bald head and yellow baggy jumpsuit gave off an irritating glare from the lighting in the facility. He got up from his chair and started to walk around Mark.
"Mark, Mark, Mark…" he began. "You also have to know respect for others who are higher than you."
"Aww, what makes you say that, baldy?" Mark insulted calmly.
Boss grew even angrier, a vain pulsating near his right eye.
"That's what I mean Mark," he said, trying to maintain his composure. "Just leave before I escort you out myself."
As Mark got up from his seat and left the office, he noticed the workers pretending to do something while listening. His friend Kayakku ran up to him.
"Mark, is it true?" he asked nervously. "You're really leaving?"
"Yeah," replied Mark, giving a scornful stare back at Boss' office. "Seems like I'll be in the sands somewhere. If you happen to see a skeleton with goggles, it's probably me."
Dragging his feet to the door, he took one last look at everyone and the guild building. Then he started his long walk home until the intern ran up to him.
Mark didn't even bother to look until she grabbed him.
"Mark, you see what happened now?" she asked worriedly. "I can probably pull some strings so you can be a janitor, but…"
Enraged with sheer annoyance and anger, he let out his full attack
"I don't fucking care anymore!" he roared out.
She looked at him clutching her clipboard with wide eyes, holding her breath.
"Well, you started it," she articulated.
"Started what?" Mark demanded angrily. "You know what? Screw it I don't want to even talk to you anymore, okay? You're always on my back; just nag, nag, nag, bitch, bitch, bitch. Well now you can do things your way. I'm gone. That's it. And I hope you're fucking happy!"
He gave a long look and swung his black, one strap backpack on his shoulder and rode his sand speeder into town.
That felt good, he thought. Yeah, I'm glad to get that weight off of my shoulders. But the big question now is how am I going to get more money? With my only source gone, all I've got are my cards, sketchbook, and nowhere else to go.
Mark paused to look up at the sky and contemplate.
Oh well, he thought. I guess I had it coming. What pisses me off the most is having to live in this wasteland of an island. I mean, what's so great about it? It's all brown from rust, but I guess home is home. To these people, this is their only home.
Nightfall came. The winds have calmed and were blowing ever so gently; it was as if the tides of water were turning. The temperature was warm like summer, with a mild soothing cold when the winds blew. Mark stopped at a nearby diner after work and ordered a cup of coffee. Hunched over his dark java, Mark was afraid he's left another friend of his worried.
"Hey, Mark, rough day?" asked the diner chef, who was also the waiter.
"No, Jassu," Mark responded in a monotone voice. "I just lost my job."
Jassu was a typical diner chef with a white apron; always cleaning his glasses. Mark smiled. He had been friends with Jassu ever since he moved from Tsurugi; he was also Jassu's best customer.
"Jeez, tough break," Jassu sympathized. "Here, have another one. It's on the house."
Mark took the warm cup and chugged it down like no tomorrow. He then felt a slight poke on his side, and then falls in agony.
"Oh my god, Naida, you killed him!" Jassu exclaimed in horror.
"Nah, just poked him," she replied.
Mark came back on his feet staggering.
"Heard what happened to you," said Naida. "That bitch was always on your case."
"Yeah, ever since I joined," said Mark with a heavy sigh. "She always was on my back."
"Who's this 'bitch' you two speak of?" Jassu inquired curiously.
"The person who cost Mark his job," answered Naida. "And she's after me next."
"Ya see Jassu," continued Naida, patting Mark's back. "This woman hates slackers, and Mark, well…"
All Jassu did was give a slight chuckle while waving his hand slowly at her.
"I get it, I get it," he assured her.
"Eh, getting fired's not all that bad," discoursed Mark. "I was going to quit anyways. Now I just have to find a new source of money, or a ship."
Jassu spits at a glass and wipes it clean.
"What the hell are you talking about?" he asked. "Mark?"
"The whole reason I got this job was to find some money and…" replied Mark.
Jassu and Naida leaned closer to Mark to hear more, with a slight smile on each face. Mark sighed.
"So I could buy a ship and set sail out of this place," he finished.
Naida and Jassu, exchanged awkward looks, which turned to subtle laughter. Naida gave a cutesy impression.
"Aww, how cute," she bantered the poor guy. "Lil' Mark wants to set sail for adventure, and a beautiful princess, named TED!"
Jassu burst out laughing from her remark, while Mark leaned on his arm and gave an annoyed groan. Naida notices this and stops smiling.
"I'm sorry Mark," she apologized. "It was the spur of the moment, that's all."
She looked down at her watch.
"Well, hey I havta' get going," she declared. "I'll talk to you later."
She hopped off her barstool and left while Jassu was still laughing. Walking into the back for more errands, he chuckled a "Ha, ha, Ted."
Can't blame Naida for laughing, thought Mark, laying his head down on the countertop. I laughed at her when she was on her period once. The outcome wasn't as good as I thought it would be. I still have that bruise from that wooden plank she swung at me.
He looked out the window and into the clear, starry sky outside.
As for my dream, I always wanted to keep moving, never looking back and let the water take me anywhere, he continued. Might sound stupid, I know, but staying in one place may be nice an' all. 'Cept, how long 'til you realize that you could achieve more, out there?
Looking around with his back facing the bar, Mark began to notice a hooded person saunter through the door. He couldn't see much to determine if the person was a guy or a girl so he kept a close observation. The person took off the hood and revealed short, jet-black hair, thin glasses, and a beautiful face. At that moment, Mark was in awe at the beauty of the girl who stood before him. She seemed to be an elegant type who prefers smart, intellectual men who behave like pompous idiots. Sitting down at one of the diner tables, she ordered a glass of water when Jassu reappeared and began reading the brown book she was holding.
I wonder why she's wearing a gray cape, thought Mark. It's not that windy outside is it?
Two men soon entered after the caped women did; a muscular one, wearing red clothes and the other a skinny guy who wore a green clothes. The skinny one adjusted his rounded glasses and pointed in her direction. They gave each other cynical snickers as they spoke.
"Hey baby," greeted the muscular one. "We were just wondering if you wanted to hang with us."
She continued reading her book, not paying any attention to them. The skinny one grew aggravated from being ignored.
"Hey, bitch!" he screeched at her. "When my friend is talking, you'd betta answer! Alright?"
"Please, leave me alone," she spoke out politely, keeping her cool.
The two guys gave a hardy laugh and threw her table aside.
"I don't think you have a choice anymore, you little…" began the muscular one.
"Yo, chicken shit!" Mark yelled out. "Lay off the woman, alright?"
They looked at Mark's direction and cracked their necks and knuckles.
"Ooh, it's a sand-nigger," the muscular one said out loud.
"Heh, heh, heh," chuckled his companion. "Well, well. Some people have no manners."
"Yeah, no manners, what so ever," Mark muttered, pulling his goggles to his forehead and keeping his distance so he could make sure the girl could escape if possible.
She just sat there scrunched up against the wall staring with her blue eyes. The two guys crept closer to Mark, giving off evil snickers and ratty smiles.
"Ya' want some of this kid?" said the muscular one, lunging forward to throw a punch at Mark.
Mark grabbed his wrist, turned it sideways, and kicked him aside, falling into a martial arts stance. The musculature man was amazed by the kid's moves. Thinking fast, he pulls out a knife.
"I'm gonna carve you up, boy!" he cried out as he lunged once again.
Mark quickly drew his Katars and began to furiously swing around to scare him. Backing up, he felt a cold steel feeling on the back of his neck.
"Heh, nice try kid, but your little show's over" chuckled the skinny one, aiming a gun at Mark.
Suddenly, a shotgun blast came from the counter.Mark ducked, took the skinny man's gun and pointed at him. The two guys backed up, turned around, and ran out the door.
"Mark!" Jassu yelled out. "Watch the diner. I'm gonna make sure they don't ever come back!"
Jassu leapt over the counter with a shotgun Machina and ran outside, randomly shooting into the darkness.
"And stay out, you rat bastards!" he screamed out as he continued to fire into the darkness. There was a sound of the poof from the shells hitting the sand from a distance, along with ricochets of metal.
Mark went up to the girl in gray, with a hardy smile.
"You okay, miss?" he asked her gently.
Still in shock, she slowly came to.
"Jeez, I didn't think he'd go that crazy," she exclaimed, still holding on to her book.
"Who? Oh, Jassu?" said Mark, scratching his head nervously. "Yeah. Whenever there's trouble, he's the guy to go to"
She gave a slight giggle, holding her fist to her chin. She sat down and motioned Mark to join her. Mark sat down nervously across from her.
"Yo', Mark, those punks won't be back for a while," announced Jassu upon returning. "If ya need anything, just help yourself. I'll be in the back."
The robed girl couldn't believe her ears.
"Did he just say to 'help yourself'?" she inquired curiously.
"Yeah," replied Mark, getting up. "You need anything?"
'Well, I could use a free drink, if you don't mind" she chirped with a smile. She glanced outside and noticed how late it was. "Ah, crap. Sorry, but I have to get going. Time flies by so quickly."
"I could give you a lift on my sand speeder," offered Mark.
She gave a shy nod of agreement and walked along with Mark outside to his parked sand speeder. He starts up the vehicle and tells the girl to hang on tight. It began humming as Mark put on his goggles and tells the robed girl that he didn't have any extra one. She didn't mind and held his waist tightly. The sand speeder slowly went off into the town of Loir, a combination of vast industries, as well as homes for most of the people who live there. They zipped though the fountain square, which was a favorite place for children to play in the daytime. Near the edge of the city were the docks for commercial ships. After stopping near the pier Mark insisted of walking her to her ship. By the time they went near one of the boats they were greeted by two girls in the same gray robe that the other one behind Mark was.
"So, there you are!" one exclaimed in relief. "We've been looking for you."
"Yea, anytime sooner, I would'a come get you" said the other girl nonchalantly.
She was interrupted by the sight of Mark next to her friend. She grew with immediate anger and was reaching for her throwing knives 'til 'she' stopped her.
"No don't," stopped the short-haired girl. "He helped me back there; that's why I was late. I'm so, so, sorry."
She bowed for forgiveness.
The girl with the spunky attitude spoke in a childish voice "Aww, see, she's 'sowwie'; can we go now?"
"Fine," the other girl gave a heavy sigh and thanked Mark rudely for his concern.
The two girls left for their leave. Mark lowered his eyebrows for the rudeness of the nonchalant women who left with "Miss Spunky".
"Please don't be mad at her," she said softly "She's just looking out for me."
She looked at him and gave an innocent smile. All Mark can do was stumble upon his words and grew red.
"By the way, I didn't catch your name," Mark summoned the courage to ask.
"My name is Yuki, Yuki Masahara," replied the girl. "What's yours?"
Mark thought for a bit about what his name was. "It's Mark Kazaragi."
Yuki noticed her ill-mannered friend was tapping her toe with her arms crossed.
"Hey, thanks for saving me," Yuki thanked Mark gratefully. "I spent too much time shopping so I didn't get a chance to sit town and read my book."
"Well, next time when you visit, make sure you're packin' somethin' cause they all come out at night," warned Mark humorously.
Yuki gave a slight giggle, while nodding in agreement.
"Too bad we couldn't talk, I guess," she said to him.
"Where are you guys headed anyway?" Mark asked curiously.
She looked down quietly and said "Tsurugi..."
Taking a big breath, she continued. "For a trip. After all, I am a Spellcaster."
"Wow, how cool," Mark burst with disbelief. "You know any tricks?"
She rolled up her sleeves and cracked her knuckles.
"Well I think I know—" she began.
Her friend with the fun loving attitude interrupted the conversation by tugging at her robe.
"We havta' go," she exclaimed. "You know how she gets."
"Okay," Yuki sighed disappointedly. "Sorry, but I have to go. Maybe another time."
She gave another smile.
"Bye, Mark," she walked down the pier almost running to catch her ride.
Mark gave a heavy sigh and turned to his sand speeder when the "spunky one" gave a childish look, blocking his way.
"Umm, could you move please"? he asked her.
She flashed Mark with a big smile and started to giggle. "Aww, love's in the air."
"Don't think so," he responded, shaking his head. "I probably won't see any of you guys again."
"Hey, you shouldn't give up hope, there, buster," the girl replied and took off her robe, revealing her short blond hair, slim reddish shirt, tech belt, and green short shorts.
Mark looked with wide eyes at her and gulped.
Damn, Mark thought. And these chicks are on the same BOAT?
"Hey, dumb ass," she chastised him with a glare on her face. "Quit looking at my legs; I'm up here!"
She slipped a hand inside her brown backpack and pulled out a sack of metallic cubes and threw it at Mark as a gift.
"Hee, hee, those are a special blend of explosives I made," she said to him with a smile. "You can have 'em, I have more than enough. So what's your name?"
"My name's Mark Kazaragi" replied the young man.
The odd woman walked around him examining him with her fist near her chin. Mark had no clue and showed a cheap smile.
"Umm, what are you…" he began.
"Hrmm, I dunno," she blatantly blurted out. "You don't look all that great for her to give a kiss to,"
Mark blushed and felt his knees go limp.
"Hey, if you ask her what happened at the diner, that should clear my name up," he spoke, keeping his balance.
She laughed at him and patted his shoulder
"I'm jus' messin'," she assured him. "But I will ask. By the way my name's Caitlin Sun."
She carried her robe with her along the pier to the boat.
"Next time our paths will meet Mark!" she yelled back to him while walking backwards. Unfortunately she tripped and fell into some boxes. "I meant to do that!"
Mark watched as Caitlin and the rest set sail in what looked like a used commercial ship.