Duels 9-11 Created Cards

MAYA’S CARDS:

Cœlestial Siren Clothon

LIGHT/Fiend/Level 10/ATK 0/DEF 0

  1. Cannot be destroyed by battle. Your opponent takes any battle damage you would have taken from battles involving this card instead.
  2. At the end of the Battle Phase, if this card battled: shuffle 1 card your opponent controls into the Deck(s) for each 1000 points of damage inflicted by this card during this turn.
  3. If this card is destroyed: half both players Life Points.

Cœlestial Siren Lacheson

LIGHT/Fiend/Level 10/ATK 0/DEF 0

  1. Cannot be destroyed by battle. Your opponent takes any battle damage you would have taken from battles involving this card instead.
  2. At the end of the Battle Phase, if this card battled: your opponent discards 1 random card for each 1000 points of damage inflicted by this card during this turn.
  3. If this card is destroyed: banish all non-”Cœlestial Siren” monsters on the field until your 2nd Standby Phase after activation.

Cœlestial Siren Atropon

LIGHT/Fiend/Level 10/ATK 0/DEF 0

  1. Cannot be destroyed by battle. Your opponent takes any battle damage you would have taken from battles involving this card instead.
  2. At the end of the Battle Phase, if this card battled: Special Summon 2 “Cœlestial Siren” monsters with different names from your hand, Deck, or Graveyard.
  3. If this card is destroyed: both players shuffle all cards in the Graveyard into the Deck(s).

Dark Necrophilia

DARK/Fiend/Level 8/ATK 2200/DEF 2800

  1. Cannot be Normal Summoned. Must first be Special Summoned by banishing 3 Fiends from your Graveyard.
  2. If this card is destroyed and sent to the Graveyard, as long as it is in the Graveyard: each time your opponent’s monster attacks, flip a coin. If Heads: negate the attack. Your opponent takes damage and you gain Life Points equal to half the monster’s ATK.

Cavern Golem

DARK/Fiend/Level 8/ATK 3000/DEF 2500

  1. Can be Special Summoned from your hand by Tributing 1 monster your opponent controls.
  2. You can discard 1 card during your End Phase; if not, change control of this card.

Stygian Ghost Jockey

DARK/Level 2/Fiend/ATK 300/DEF 1350

TUNER

  1. During your opponent’s turn, if your opponent’s monster attacks you directly: you can Special Summon this card from your hand or Graveyard and Special Summon 2 “Ghost Jockey” Tokens (DARK/Level 1/Fiend/ATK 0/DEF 0).
  2. During your opponent’s End Phase: banish this card from your Graveyard.

Stygian Drag Racer

DARK/Level 3/Fiend/ATK 1650/DEF 600

  1. If you Summon this card, you can banish it until your next Standby Phase: send 1 Fiend monster from your Deck to the Graveyard OR add 1 Fiend monster with a different name from your Deck to your hand. You can only Summon Fiend monsters this turn.

Stygian Kart Racer

DARK/Level 3/Fiend/ATK 1350/DEF 300

  1. If you Normal Summon this card, you can banish it until your next Standby Phase: draw 1 card. If it is a Fiend Monster Card, you can reveal it, and draw 1 more card.

Quantum Stargate

Spell Card

  1. If your opponent controls monsters and you control no monsters: Special Summon 1 monster with 0 ATK and DEF from your hand or Deck in Attack Position. It cannot be Tributed or used as Material for any Special Summon from the Extra Deck.

Pot of Eternity

Spell Card

  1. Shuffle 5 banished cards into the Deck(s) and draw 2 cards.
  2. You cannot activate any Spell Cards this turn (except this card).

SECMETON CARDS:

Ghost Mariner Davy Jones

WATER/Level 4/Fiend/ATK 1600/DEF 1000

  1. During the End Phase: you can shuffle all WATER monsters banished during this turn into the Deck(s).
  2. You can destroy 1 WATER monster you control (except this card): Set 1 “Ghost Mariner” Continuous Trap Card from your Graveyard.

Ghost Mariner’s Sky Curse

Continuous Trap Card

  1. When your opponent activates a Spell Card, if you control “Ghost Mariner Davy Jones”, you can banish 3 WATER monsters from your Graveyard: Negate the Spell Card and destroy it.

Ghost Mariner’s Trench Curse

Continuous Trap Card

  1. When your opponent activates a Trap Card, if you control “Ghost Mariner Davy Jones”, you can banish 3 WATER monsters from your Graveyard: Negate the Trap Card and destroy it.

Ghost Mariner’s Shore Curse

Continuous Trap Card

  1. When your opponent’s monster attacks, if you control “Ghost Mariner Davy Jones”, you can banish 3 WATER monsters from your Graveyard: Negate the attack and destroy the monster.

Dreadnaught Fortress Whale

WATER/Level 8/Fish/? ATK/? DEF

  1. You can Tribute more than 2 monsters to Tribute Summon this card. The ATK/DEF of this card is equal to the total ATK of all WATER monsters Tributed to Tribute Summon this card.
  2. If this card would be destroyed: you can destroy 1 monster you control instead.

Grand Heron

WATER/Level 10/Winged Beast/ATK 2000/DEF 2000

  1. When you Normal Summon this card: you can add 1 WATER Level 7 or higher monster to your hand.
  2. Once per turn, you can discard 1 WATER monster: return all Spell/Traps on the field to the hand.
  3. If your opponent only controls face-up monsters: this card can attack directly.
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Yugioh Endgame: Duel 11 – A Very Possible Victory

MAYA: 50 || SECMETON: 1975

Maya hovers her left hand over her Deck, almost like she is about to surrender the game. Next turn, the effect of Card of Demise will kick in, forcing her to forfeit to her entire hand, leaving her defenseless against a potential onslaught. This draw better be good.

MAYA’S TURN: “I banish the three Sirens in my Graveyard to Special Summon Dark Necrophilia (ATK 2200)!” A horrid shadow rises from the netherworld, haunting the field for a while, before forming into the tall thin purple figure of the queen of the dead.

Secmeton gasps at the sight, an original uncensored print of Dark Necrofear. The monster’s powers are probably extremely strong as well, before she got nerfed in later printings. The high mage laughs ruefully. “Oh, Maya. Why do you keep fighting me?” He waves his arm in a broad gesture. “I can negate your Spells, your Traps, and your monsters. You should give up.’  

But, before Maya can proceed further, Secmeton interrupts her again. “I mean, why do you fight against me knowing the senseless destruction you bring to this world? You believe yourself to be fighting for the good of humanity, don’t you?”   

Maya knows exactly where this is going, and so replies, “Don’t waste your breath. A dramatic monologue won’t make me question my motives for an instant. You’ll need something more compelling than that.”

Secmeton ignores her snubbing him, droning on with the utmost gravity, “If you seek to bring about a revolution, of achieving a world of equality, free of all oppression, then you are the most ill-fitted person to carry on that task. You sacrifice men as if they were pawns; you kill sons with the least thought of the grief of their fathers; you scorn human life with such cavalier disrespect you might as well be a feudal lord. Then again, a feudal lord at least assumes responsibility over his subjects as they are his wards.”

Maya rubs her temples with her fingers for she has gotten a migraine. It has been a long, long day. She retorts, “At least in theory. You can care about oppressed people as much as you want, but nothing will happen if you make no sacrifices. Principles, ideals, policies, whatever are tools you use to manipulate your subjects into doing what you want, whether you want them to protect your social order or to fight in your wars, even though you have to believe in those ideals yourself to some degree. Anyone who believes in an ideal with no reserve is an idiot waiting to be duped. You must leave your conscience at the door.”

“And here is where you’re wrong.” Secmeton lectures on. “The means justify the ends, never the other way around. Nothing has greater price than your conscience. Your integrity is the one inch of you no one can take away except yourself. No one in the world can doubt the goodness in my heart. I did my best to push initiatives to protect the oceans from the worst pollution. I cannot afford to lose this duel, for the sake of the loved ones I must protect!”

Maya raises an eyebrow, visibly confused. “You must be senile. Your son is – I wouldn’t say sleeping with the fishes but – is fish food. Your wife is worm food, soon to be followed by a worm man.”

Secmeton shoots back with a vengeance, “A good duelist must always duel to protect their friends and the ones they love! I’m pretty vague on who those people are but I must do it anyway! That’s what the good guys do! A low evil dog like you will never understand that!”

“I guess you must protect the dolphins, preserve the sharks,” Maya prods him further. “Perhaps you must save -”

“Yes!” Secmeton shouts. “I MUST SAVE THE WHALES!”

Maya and her comrades all laugh at the old man’s expense. Maya will miss him when he’s gone. He just made her day.

She then delivers her rebuttal. “Yes, you are probably a decent man, but your decency means little, and your conscience means nothing. You tried saving the whales while building Momentum, the thing that exiles millions of humans from home and kills millions of whales. You throw waste in the ocean, you cry about it, the planet burns. Here is my position, and it is an honest one at that: either billions of people starve and die or all people starve and die.”

Mathias folds his arms, his face now dark and grim. “It’s a lose-lose duel.”

“I won’t stand for a future where you use human lives for a greater gain!” Secmeton shouts.

Maya smiles at him in the most insincere way possible. “Spoken just like Atem. Truly.”

“You cannot tribute human beings like they are Monster Cards!” Secmeton musters the energy to deliver his next line in the most profound tone possible. “WE LIVE IN A SOCIETY!”

Maya scoffs, “I certainly don’t live in yours. I mean, how can I? Ever since Momentum became a thing, ‘society’ has been shrinking every year. Soon it will be a dozen old guys hiding in their bunkers before the poor literally eat the rich.”

Now she really wearies of this conversation. Seriously, it’s worse than talking about politics at Thanksgiving dinner. “Regardless,” Her eyes flash wide open, the flames inside so bright she must be possessed by a devil. “Dark Necrophilia, send Davy Jones to a watery grave! Pray for death gaze!”

“You fool!” Secmeton retorts. “I banish 3 WATER monsters to activate Ghost Mariner’s Shore Curse!” A large old mirror suddenly flashes in front of Davy Jones, forcing Dark Necrophilia to take the full curse from her own killing gaze, destroying her.

“Excellent!” Maya exults at the death of her monster. “You have no more fodder for your cards. Stygian Drag Racer, pulverize Davy Jones!” And the daredevil fiend unceremoniously runs over the enemy, which starts the chain reaction causing all of Secmeton’s cards to shatter.

“No!” Secmeton cries in shock and anguish. (Secmeton LP 1975 → 1925)

Maya delivers her final order. “Stygian Kart Racer, attack him directly!” And Secmeton receives the full brunt of a vehicular assault. (Secmeton LP 1925 → 575)

SECMETON’S TURN: “I return Sinister Serpent to my hand and Normal Summon Tribe-Infecting Virus (ATK 1600)!” A vaguely humanoid lizard creature appears, lurching, transformed into a zombie by the virus infecting it. “I discard my Serpent to use its effect. Destroy all Fiend-Type monsters!” The zombie lizard opens its gaping mouth, vomiting a black cloud unto Maya’s creatures, forcing them to vomit their insides out before painfully crumbling to dust.

Secmeton is ready to attack for game, but pauses. Dark Necrophilia leaves an onryo behind when she dies. Now, an evil spirit, though unseen, wanders the field and can possess any monster he plays. If he attacks, there is a fifty-fifty chance the evil spirit will possess his monster, negating his attack and inflicting damage on him, making him lose the Duel.

Maya spreads her arms wide open as if about to hug her rival. “What are you waiting for! Attack me directly. You have a perfectly fair shot at killing me.”

“Do not play with me!” Secmeton growls.

“When I spoke about sacrificing a billion people, I included myself as well.” Maya says. “Luck may be on your side and you’ll win. I’m as disposable as everyone else. I know that I will not live to see old age. I promise you that. If anything, I’ll die within the next three years, so if I die now, oh well. Strike me down and avenge your son!”

Secmeton clenches his fist but hesitates. Even if passes his turn, his chances will remain the same, fifty-fifty. To delay will do nothing. “You asked for it! Virus, attack Maya directly!” Secmeton barks. But luck is not on his side. The evil spirit possessing his monster bursts out and pierces him in the heart. He cries out in pain, falling to his knees. (Secmeton LP 575 → 0)

MAYA: 50 || SECMETON: 0

The dark magic of the shadow games slowly eats away at him; the old man knows he is done. Even his knees give way, but Yukio rushes to catch him before he can hit the floor.

“You’re lucky. You get more respect than any high mage ever will.” Maya snorts.

Secmeton reaches out to the woman who killed his son with a withered old hand, pleading, “Maya, I know deep down your heart is good. As a man reduced to begging to his murderer, I beg you, please remember me and my son as men of good intent, who only tried their best to do good in an evil world. We are all only human.”

His speech touches Maya deep in the heart. Remorse overtakes her so powerfully she nearly loses balance, even nearly faints, as she fully understands for the first time the depth of suffering she has unleashed unto the world. Only now does she realize how much the fathers of her enemies will weep but, unlike Secmeton, will not be granted mercy in a quick death – And mothers! Dear God, the mothers! Mothers like her! How could she live if little Narmer died!

Maya nearly faints, but she catches herself at the last moment. Good people who do nothing to oppose evil might as well be evil themselves. Secmeton and his son, no matter the purity of their hearts, were powerful elites. They developed Momentum in Los Angeles; they played a part in spearheading a new global military industrial complex; they were agents of oppression and destruction around the world.

With a heavy heart, Maya flatly says, “No.”    

Secmeton closes his eyes and breathes his last, a fool till the end.

Maya strolls to the old man’s corpse to claim her prize, the Millennium Necklace, pretending like nothing of consequence happened. Yukio can no longer control himself at seeing such cruelty from his wife, and he starts weeping bitterly, cursing the day he met her. It is relatively common knowledge that the shadow games reveal people’s true natures but he cannot conceive of Maya’s heart being this dark. How much rage and hatred did she hide from him all this time?

Maya prized the Millennium Necklace from the corpse and squeezed it as hard she could. She concentrated as hard as she could, mustering her Ka into a force powerful enough for her to shatter even a Millennium Item – and right at the moment the Necklace is destroyed, it flashes a brilliant light, engulving Maya, Yukio, and Mathias in the blaze.  

The three warriors see the next three years flash before their eyes. Mathias will switch sides when he learns of Maya’s secret. Maya will take the Millennium Ring instead of destroying it, letting it corrupt her. Yukio will be blessed with a new baby, one Maya will give birth to in prison. Sofia will grow in strength as Maya’s pupil, preparing for the day she will confront Yifan. Jolene, JC, and Miguella will be executed by their enemies. Yifan will best Yugi in a duel. Maya will best Yifan, Kaiba, and Mathias in a duel. Sofia will kill Maya in a duel. Sofia will fight Yifan but won’t be strong enough to defeat her. She will die from battle, and Yifan will be free to destroy the earth, and then the solar system, and afterwards be free to roam the stars as a dragon forever.

“Spoilers: everyone dies.” Mathias comments dryly.      

“I hate to break the party but reinforcements are coming and satellites could strike at any minute!” JC hollars from above.

Maya, Yukio, and Mathias muster their Ka, having no time to contemplate the vision given to them by the Necklace, able to project wings for themselves in only a minute, and fly away from the battle field, carrying JC, Miguella, and whichever commanders they could find to safety with them. Every other fighter has to make do and flee for their lives on the few boats remaining. A new flock of drones arrive to pick out a few more boats while new missiles from the war satellites high above bombard all of Los Angeles.

Without a Millennium Item to stabilize it, Momentum loses its ability to run as a near perpetual motion machine. It loses momentum, just a little bit, which causes a chain reaction reversing its direction, which causes it detonate, releasing the power of a nuclear blast in an instant. The explosions swallows all but a few drones, and the rebel troops pick apart the remaining drones. All the rebels scatter into the wide blue in different directions, making their way back to Chile as quickly as possible, taking advantage of the chaos caused by the nuclear blast.

“Thank Isis Mary Mother of Raptor Jesus that Ka energy can stay warmed up like the body during exercise.” Mathias sighs in relief as he drops Miguella and JC on a boat.

Maya and Yukio land on a different boat a hundred miles away carrying their commanders, eager to drive the boat further into the vast ocean. Maya exults in victory with the troops, drinking, dancing, and playing limbo with them into the night.

Yukio does not join the festivities, sulking below deck. “Yes, Maya, how low can you go.” But he does not want to make things awkward by quarreling with his wife now. She did clinch a major victory for the people of planet Earth after all, striking a heavy blow against the global empire, but sometimes she really frightens him.

Something about that fierce power, that robust stinging humor, that way she takes life’s horrors in stride, all that arouses him as much as it disgusts him. So when Maya comes on to him, stinking drunk from victory and rum, he embraces her for the entire night.  

They wake up half naked next morning, Maya groaning from the hangover, Yukio staring into the ceiling, wondering what the war was really all about. While the two of them are having their morning coffee, Yukio gently nudges her. “We really need to talk.”

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 10 – Trapped In Davy’s Locker

Maya: 200 || Secmeton: 3950

“Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow…” Maya keeps moaning as she struggles to get up. “My ass will be bruised for days. I don’t know if Yukio is into that sort of thing, but still.” She gets on one knee and forces herself up with some effort, still grumpy Secmeton put her in a position beneath him. “I may be in a bad spot, but I’m coming back.”

Seceton raises an eyebrow, annoyed, “In case you didn’t notice, I just pounded you into the ground wide open, deep and dirty!”

Everyone around him snickers hard enough for a bit of snot to come out. Mathias can barely restrain tears of laughter. “Your joke is one chapter too late, my dude.”

“For the love of Neptune’s trident, grow up you children!” Secmeton admonishes his enemies. “This is not Captain Underpants! This is a serious card game battle with the fate of the world at stake!”

MAYA’S TURN: Anyway, back to the boring card game. Maya gains 1000 Life from Snatch Steal (Maya LP 200 → 1200), and her Stygian Drag racer returns with roaring engines. “I activate Spider Web and I choose to add the Bahrastos in your Graveyard in my hand.” Maya declares. “And this action puts Vanity’s Emptiness in the Graveyard, so I destroy 2 monsters in my hand to Special Summon your monster!” And surely enough, the behemoth encroaches on Maya’s field (ATK 1800).   

“What a meaningless spiteful display, stealing my monster for the sake of it.” Secmeton admonishes her.

“Oh yes, it’s spiteful.” Maya admits. “But it’s useful. I destroyed Celestial Siren Lacheson with your monster’s effect, so she activates.” Suddenly, all of Secmeton’s monsters disappear within several wormholes. “Don’t worry about them. They’ll be back in two turns.”

With that strategy executed, Maya prepares for the attack. “I Normal Summon Thunder King Rai-Oh (ATK 1900)!” A tall machine hovers above the ground using the electromagnetic field it generates around itself to do so. “I atta-”

She suddenly goes quiet. Secmeton has three facedown cards and Maya has none. And her Life is really low. What does she do?

“Urgh. I Set a card and call it a turn.” Maya grumbles.

SECMETON’S TURN: “You didn’t have it in you. Then again, criminals are cowards. Sinister Serpent goes back to my hand. That is all.” Secmeton is forced to cut his turn short.

MAYA’S TURN: “I Normal Summon Stygian Kart Racer (ATK 1350), and banish it to draw a card.” A burning skeleton in a biker jacket speeds into play with a go kart on fire, then vanishes as quickly as he came. “Not a Fiend, but a good draw.” Maya thinks to herself.

“I switch Rai-Oh to Defense Position and Set a card.” Maya quietly ends her turn once more.

SECMETON’S TURN: “I thought so.” Secmeton says, smiling. “I just drew my best monster. Now I have all the cards needed for my ultimate strategy.”

“Well that’s tactically sound, revealing the cards in your hand, so to speak.” Maya remarks in an aside.

“I Normal Summon Ghost Mariner Davy Jones (ATK 1600)!” Secmeton announces, giving rise to a ghostly pirate skeleton, the devil of the ocean himself. “Go, Davy Jones! Destroy Rai-Oh!” The fiendish pirate cuts Rai-Oh down with his rapier.

Maya realizes at this point she made a mistake switching Rai-Oh to Defense. And then realizes she made yet another mistake not activating her Traps. “Good grief. When it rains, it really does poar.” Maya mutters to herself.

MAYA’S TURN: “My turn!” As soon as Maya draws her card, the Stygian Kart Racer returns to the field, as do all the monsters banished by Celestial Siren Lacheson. Maya and Secmeton reclaim the monsters they stole from each other in the process, Atropon returning to Maya’s field, Bahrastos to Secmeton’s.

“I activate Monster Reborn! I revive -”

“No, you don’t. I activate my Continuous Trap, Ghost Mariner’s Sky Curse” Secmeton shuts her down. “I banished 3 WATER monsters in my Graveyard to negate Monster Reborn!”

“Humph!” Maya bites her lip in frustration, then pauses to ruminate over her position. Secmeton has a Trap out that looks like one in a series of cards designed to negate card effects. One negates Spells. Another probably negates Traps. And then another probably negates monsters. Interesting hypothesis; now to test it out.

“I Tribute your Abyss Soldier to Special Summon Cavern Golem (ATK 3000) to your field!” The undersea warrior shatters, and the pieces reassemble into a large creature made of mud and cave stones. “Atropon, attack Cavern Golem!”

Secmeton sternly raises his palm as if he can physically stop the assault. “I won’t let you! Activate Ghost Mariner’s Shore Curse!” He banishes another 3 WATER monsters, letting Davy Jones crush Atropon’s body with a deadly curse.

“Good!” Maya shouts as her monster shatters. “Her effect kicks in since she got destroyed! We both lose half our Life!” Blazing arrows made of light shoot out from the Siren’s shattered body, hitting both Maya and Secmeton through the chest. (Maya LP 200 → 100, Secmeton LP 3950 → 1975)

Secmeton staggers back, his old body struggling to endure such a piercing assault. He curses his opponent. “You will not defeat me with a mere monster effect! I’ll drag you to Hell with me if I have to for killing my son! You swinish bard! You foul dragon!”

Maya tries counting on her fingers all the unique insult Secmeton has thrown at her today, but gives up. “Come on, old man. Using a thesaurus doesn’t make you smarter. Why do stupid men call me a slut, anyway? I’ve only ever had -” She counts on her fingers again, and easily finds the right number. “Three lovers, five at most if you count casual sex, in my entire life. That’s downright prudish by Western expectations.”

“Maybe it’s because those men are stupid?” Yukio suggests with a deadpan tone.

“And you.” Maya addresses Secmeton. “Why do you keep calling me a slut in a thousand different ways? Because unlike other damaged women, I don’t like creepy older men. And where is Mrs. Secmeton anyway, because I have never heard of her?”

Secmeton grits his teeth, offended to his core. “Leave my deceased wife out of this, virago!”

“Got it. All I need to know. A little exposition wasn’t that hard, now was it. I switch Stygian Kart Racer and Stygian Drag Racer to Defense Position.” So Maya ends her turn.

“And so Davy Jones activates.” Secmeton informs his rival. “I shuffle all the WATER monsters I banished this turn into my Deck.”

Mathias nudges Yukio with his great elbow. “This duel is getting really tense. I almost can’t stand it. I’m so excited; just watching it gives me the bluest balls ever.”

“Mathias!” Yukio scolds him. “You will get us censored!”

“Oh, come on! You’re the one with a girlfriend! I expected you to have a heartier appetite!” Mathias then makes a few cheap jokes about 4Kids Entertainment.

At this point the large hole high above, which connects the duelists underground to the world outside, seems to brim, like it’s getting rough around the edges. As Yukio and Mathias peer up to see what is happening, they see their revolutionary forces gathering round to see Maya’s epic showdown against a high mage, a being they have thought was untouchable.

Yukio sees JC and Miguella in particular since they peered down below more eagerly. JC comments, “Looks like Maya’s in a quagmire. Wonder how she’ll get out of this. She’s got a big boner down her throat. – Bone! I meant bone! I meant bone!” JC hits himself. “ARGH!”

Miguella rolls her eyes and sighs to the darkness beneath her. “Why do people associate card battles with sex anyway. I really don’t get it.”

SECMETON’S TURN: “Ready, vampiric witch. Here I come! Monsters, assault her!” Secmeton commands.

As his monsters encroach past their border unto the enemies’, Maya springs her trap. “Storming Mirror Force!” And the invading army is caught in a wall of wind. “I’m bouncing all your monsters back to the hand!”

“Oh no you don’t!” Secmeton then triggers his trap. “Ghost Mariner’s Trench Curse! I banish another three WATER monsters to negate your Mirror Force card!”

Maya jumps a little bit in excitement, not unlike how guinea pigs do when popcorning. “Do I see a Chain Link of 3 or higher! I love those! Solemn Judgment!” Maya pays half her Life, shattering Secmeton’s card, which in turn lets the wall of wind on Maya’s field blow away all enemy monsters. (Maya LP 100 → 50)

Quick! Secmeton must recover! But how? He has an idea! “I Normal Summon Davy Jones once more and destroy Sinister Serpent and Grant Heron in my hand to Special Summon Bahrastos!” Two members of his undersea forces return to the field. “I use the other effect of Davy Jones: I destroy Bahrastos to return Ghost Mariner’s Trench Curse to the field. And as I end my turn, I shuffled my banished WATER monsters back into my Deck.”

With these plays, Secmeton regains his composure enough to bluster at Maya. “You wasted half your Life for no reason. My field is exactly like before. I’ve got your head between my legs, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Yukio and Mathias snicker some more. It is too much. Maya is too focused on the duel to notice anything. She begins her next turn.

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 9 – Deep and Dirty

Secmeton summons the Millennium Necklace. The sacred Item leaves its sanctuary from inside the Momentum and lands on Secmeton’s open palm. The duel disk flies on command to the other palm of its master. Almost all the lights above shut out and the dark room becomes even darker. The shadow game begins. Secmeton says to Maya, “I will never forgive you for treating human life so shamefully. You will pay dearly for your folly.”   

MAYA: 8000 || Secmeton: 8000

MAYA’S TURN: “Talk about the wastewater plant calling the sewer black.” Maya retorts. “Challenger goes first! I end my turn.” Maya’s tone is so careless it looks like has made a mistake.

SECMETON’S TURN: “You can’t be serious! After all your blustering, blistering, festering words, you end your turn with an open field!” Secmeton fumes. “I’ll make sure your glib attitude costs you the duel!”

His luck this draw can not be any better. “I reveal and activate Rank-Up Magic – The Seventh One!” Maya is mildly surprised seeing such good fortune. “Using its power, I Xyz Summon Number 101: Silent Honor ARK (ATK 2100), and immediately overlay it to Xyz Summon Number C101: Silent Honor DARK (ATK 2800)!” An advanced submarine appears, then transforms into a trident wielding warrior of the deep.

The whole sequence takes place within the effect of a single Spell Card, letting him Special Summon from his Extra Deck more than once, bypassing the normal limit. What can Maya say; rules are meant to be broken.  

“I activate Graceful Charity!” Secmeton continues, drawing three cards and discarding two. His preparation for a powerful combo is complete. “I use Premature Burial, paying 800 Life to resurrect Superancient Deepsea King Coelacanth (ATK 2600), and I discard a card to use his effect! Arise from my Deck, three units of Oyster Meister (1600 ATK) and Royal Swamp Eel (ATK 1700)!” A fish hundreds of millions of years old the size of a whale returns among the living, bringing with it an aquatic battalion. (Secmeton LP 8000 → 7200)

“Then, I sacrifice the three Oyster Meisters and Royal Swamp Eel to Tribute Summon Dreadnaught Fortress Whale!” The battalion vanishes, allowing a whale with a gunned fortress on its back to take its place, a whale so big it takes the size of the whole chamber, absorbing the total strength of all the forces sacrificed to make its summoning possible (ATK 6500). Yet the three Oyster Meister monsters are not completely gone, leaving behind three Oyster Tokens (DEF 0).

“Observe, the ocean has heaved her bosom and brought forth all the forces of the deep to my side. My mistress serves me and me alone. And now for the final catch. You took me lightly at your peril. All monsters, attack Maya! Kill her!” The ocean’s greatest monsters lunch to strike, bite, and gun Maya down.

“I activate Stygian Ghost Jockey (DEF 1350) in my hand to Special Summon it!” Maya slaps her card down like her life depends on it, since it does. The ghostly skeletons of a horse and rider form out of smoke, and with it arrive the spirits of two Tokens of similar appearance (DEF 0). Hardly do they appear when Secmeton’s forces send them back to the grave.

Maya scolds her opponent, “You had a god draw and an OTK combo, only for me to waste both with one little card. What a shame.”

Secmeton grits his teeth in anguish. “You! You arrogant termagant vituperator! You killed my son! How dare you frustrate my vengeance!” He wishes more than anything to stab Maya in the guts and rip them out but cheating in a shadow game means certain death. He can only set a card face-down.” With the end of his turn, Maya must banish her Stygian Ghost Jockey from the Graveyard.

MAYA’S TURN: “My turn! I’ll do more damage with two cards than you did in ten! I activate Quantum Stargate! I’ll use its power to Special Summon a monster with 0 ATK and 0 DEF from my Deck!”

“What!?” Secmeton exclaims in shock. “How could you do anything with such a weak monster?”

“I’ll show you. I Summon Celestial Siren Clothon!” Some thing teleports to the field from light years away, what looks an empty blue-colored suit of armor that can be worn by a  mermaid warrior of sorts. Yet it has six arms and a large mirror-like screen at the center; within it Secmeton sees the eyeless face of an old crone.

“What on earth -”

But Secmeton does not have time to finish. “I activate Charm of Lamentation. And now,” Maya commands. “Clothon, attack the Dreadnaught Fortress Whale!” The Siren obeys, using her six arms to bewitch the ocean behemoth into attacking her.

“But my monster has 6500 ATK!” Secmeton gasps in shock. What scheme is Maya is plotting to subvert his great whale monster? He has no time to ponder the mystery. He must act on instinct. “I activate Half-Shut on my monster!” The move cuts the ATK of Dreadnaught Fortress Whale in half (ATK 6500 → 3250). Still, the whale strikes its target with its massive turrets. Clothon easily makes the missiles explode before hitting her with an invisible barrier, absorbing their power, then striking Secmeton directly with a snowstorm of equal force. (Secmeton LP 7200 → 3950)

Secmeton’s old body cows under the blow, but the old man does not bend the knee. “Good instincts.” Maya acknowledges, and Secmeton decides to take the compliment. “But I’m not done torturing you this turn. I can draw an extra card with Charm of Lamentation. Since your monster lives, my attack was technically a failure.”

“You’re inability to destroy my monster in battle reveals your weakness.” Secmeton says.

Maya returns his comment with a wide grin. “Destroying monsters by battle is so Duelist Kingdom, as is sending them to the Graveyard in general. My Siren’s true power reveals itself now. I gave you three thousand plus damage, so Clothon will return three cards you control to your Deck: Silent Honor DARK, Dreadnaught Fortress Whale, and Premature Burial. Clothon, dust the field!” Maya’s monster conjures another snowstorm, sweeping away the eyesores.

“You got rid of Coelacanth by removing Premature Burial from the field.” Secmeton mumbles to himself, not to Maya, as his great fish dissolves to dust. “If you targeted it, I might have been able to counter your Siren.”

“I set a card.” Maya concludes blandly in anticlimax. “Your move, old man.”

But Secmeton does not move. Warm salty tears fall down his crusted old cheeks and into his white beard as he stares at the head of his son Maya so callously threw at the floor. He cannot move.

“Come on. Move.” Maya kicks the floor in boredom as if she was kicking an old dog to get up. “Believe it or not, people are dying all around us right now. You’re lucky we’re just playing a boring card game.”

Secmeton trembles in rage, crying, “You killed my son! How can you demand an old man wracked with the grief of the death of his only begotten son to confront you in battle!” He howls into the air.

Maya rolls her eyes and sneers, “I expected more than token resistance from a high mage.”

“You killed my only son!”

“Then act like it!” Maya berates him. “I didn’t sacrifice several hundred men or an afternoon for cazuela to hear you cry. You think you’re a unique individual? Several hundred fathers will weep more than you ever will for the violent deaths of their sons. Your misery will be short. Now stop ruining my willing suspension of disbelief and fight me like a man who actually lost everything!”

“You do not know what it feels like to lose your only begotten son!” Secmeton wails in protest, falling to his knees.

“You’re right; I don’t.” Maya admits, however, “I know this; if you killed my son, I’d fight for my life to kill you, even in a children’s card game.

This makes old Secmeton recovers his wits. He uses his duel disk to upload information on Maya’s Siren monster, studying all her traits, then gets up upon finding a good strategy.

SECMETON’S TURN: “I return a Sinister Serpent residing in my Graveyard to my hand. I tribute two of my Oyster Tokens to Tribute Summon Grand Heron (ATK 2000)!” Out comes the majestic bird. Even Maya has to admire her beauty, but Secmeton goes on. “As I Normal Summoned her, I’ll add a high Level WATER monster to my hand. And now, I destroy Sinister Serpent and my last Oyster Token to Special Summon it! Arise, True King Bahrastos, the Fathomer (ATK 1800)!” A purple wyrm behemoth descends unto the field.

“With his arrival comes his effect. Bahrastos, banish Maya’s backrow!” And so Maya’s Charm of Lamentation and facedown Trap Card vaporize. “You had Blazing Mirror Force waiting for me. Too bad.” Secmeton gloats. “Your nightmare has just begun. I overlay Grand Heron and Bahrastos to Xyz Summon True King Of All Calamities (ATK 3000)!” Both monsters collapse to form an interdimensional portal, bringing out a larger Behemoth as black as outer space, and now Maya understands Secmeton’s real strategy.

“I detach 1 Material to make your Siren DARK Attribute.” Secmeton says. His beast roars, spreading an aura of dark waves throughout the field, making the Siren shudder and cracking her face-screen. This worries Maya, since not only will her Siren’s effects be shut down while it’s on the field but in the Graveyard too.

“True King, destroy Clothon!” Secmeton commands. Like a dragon, his monster destroys its foe with a blast from its mouth, forcing Maya to shield herself from the ricochets of the onslaught. (Maya LP 5000 → 200) “I set a card.”

Maya is astonished Secmeton knows of the other Sirens but knows better than the show it. Secmeton seems to read her, for he explains himself, “Clothon is most likely a reference to Clotho, one of the three Fates. You probably have a Lachesis and an Atropos buried in your Deck. Did you think I’d let you off the hook that easily, you fiend?”

“And you knew of my Siren’s effect how?” Maya asks.

“I read the card.” Secmeton tersely replies.

“I’m astonished.” Maya remarks dryly. “Villains in this franchise don’t do that.”

“I do not believe I am the villain in this story.” Secmeton says darkly, the implied insult as obvious as a black cloud before rain.

“You’re right.” Maya chides him. “You’re a minor antagonist at best.”

“You’re wrong. I am your destroyer, the man who will put your wicked designs to an early end.”

“I’d like to see you try.”

MAYA’S TURN: As her turn starts, Maya contemplates her position. True King puts a big damp on her Sirens. She will either have to go around it or drain it of Xyz Material, the source of its power. Ah, how annoying. The old man is as much of a killjoy as Squidward is.

Never mind. Maya says, “I Normal Summon Stygian Drag Racer (ATK 1650)!” A daredevil in a flaming car speeds its way to the field, the engine howling like a savage beast. “I banish it to use its effect, letting me send a Fiend from my Deck to the Graveyard.” The monster speeds off again to enter a new dimension.

“Now I banish the Fiend I milled, Stygian Street Patrol, to Special Summon Celestial Siren Atropon.” The second Siren, colored red and revealing the eyeless visage of a young virgin, appears, but meekly and curled up in a defensive posture (DEF 0). “I set a card and activate Card of Demise. I draw five cards.”

“But five turns later you lose your hand.” Secmeton finishes for her. “Let that fact seal your fate.”

“You wish. I set two cards and end my turn.”

SECMETON’S TURN: “The game is mine now! I win!” Secmeton declares. “I drew a good omen! – But first I return Sinister Serpent to my hand. – I activate Pot of Greed!”

“I’m sorry but what does that card do again?” Maya asks, pretending to look confused. “I forgot.”

“It lets me draw two more cards from my Deck.” Secmeton explains with all the seriousness you would expect from a man like him. “I Normal Summon Abyss Soldier and discard Sinister Serpent to bounce your facedown card.” An undersea warrior with a whale’s head rises to the surface and gets rid of the troublesome card with the power of its magic trident.

Maya is not too happy. Activating that very card, Solemn Judgment, would have been suicidal.

Secmeton carries on his scheme. “I detach 1 Material for True King to negate your Siren’s effect and I call the DARK Attribute!” – “This is it!” Maya says to herself at this key moment. – His behemoth roars again, rattling Maya’s monster to her core. “Then I activate Monster Reborn!”

“I counter with Vanity’s Emptiness!” Maya rebukes him. “As your opponent, I declare you invalid!”

“A bold claim, but it won’t hold up. I won’t bother to defeat your worthless monster. I’ll just Snatch Steal her!” He equips the Spell Card to Maya’s monster, forcing her to leave her post. “Your monster has betrayed you to my cause and your field is open. This is how you will die, abandoned and alone. My monsters, attack Maya directly!”

Secmeton’s monsters strike their foe with the blunt force of a trident and the blast of flames, throwing Maya unto the ground with her limbs spread out. (Maya LP 5000 —> 200)

Suddenly, the ceiling above them cracks wide open as Yukio and Mathias land next to the combatants, still blazing with the power of their Ka energy. Maya groans; she is not too happy that her comrades get to see her in such an unflattering position. Maya says to herself, “If this goes on, I’ll be six fathoms under.”

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 8 – Six Minutes in Hell

Come the following morning and every leader of the rebel forces heads out to the Pacific coast to meet the assembled troops stationed there. Maya and Yukio have no choice but to drop off their son to the care of an old village couple who has helped Yukio raise Narmer for the past three years, the same people they met at the market before. The young couple hands Narmer over to his new charge, which makes the child cry, and which makes the adults also cry.

Once more, as Maya laments, she has barely been with her son and must already say goodbye again. But such weakness of heart will not do, as she knows all too well, least of all before a battle, so she says to Yukio, “You’ve got a cute kid, though he is a bit on the quiet side.”

Yukio is shocked. “My kid? You made him too. You take Narmer whenever he is close to me like you want him all for himself. Now you act like you never met your son before. And what’s wrong with a kid being quiet? Are you afraid that makes a kid retarded? Because it’s not. He’s sensitive and intelligent.”

Maya tears off her flowery dress as it begins to annoy her and once more puts on her black shirt, pants, and coat. She dusts off a speck of dirt on her shoulder, saying, “If he is retarded or otherwise defective, I might as well eat him as to reabsorb the child back into my body. It would be a waste of stem cells otherwise. If mother voles, finches, and scorpions are entitled to dispatch their young, I am as well.”

This is enough. Yukio has to put his foot down. “I don’t know if you’re trying to desensitize yourself to the pain in your heart from letting Narmer go, but one more edgy comment and you’ll never see your son again.”

“Yes, yes, yes.” Maya rolls her eyes. “We live in a society, even if it fails us on every level. Human life is always sacred, except all the times it is not. Being ‘sensitive’ and ‘thoughtful’ are totally not things rejects made up to feel better about themselves and superior to other people. We should know. We mastered the art in high school.”

So Maya and Yukio argue on and off in this manner before arriving to the shore. The rendezvous with Mathias, JC, and company complete, they set sail into the open blue, scattering their forces so as to attack Los Angeles in multiple angles.

The next day, the high mage Secmeton looks out into the Pacific blue from the coastline. He tries to admire Iris, the rosy fingered dawn gracing the shore, but she reveals a graveyard of rotting sea creatures and rusted chunks of metal from the world’s oceans.

The smell of decay and rust prompts him to say, as if speaking to the ocean herself, in the most grave and profound tone he can imagine, “Momentum and the Millennium Items, what these infernal seeds have wrought such poisoned fruit: powers surpassing those of the old gods but the destruction of the very ground underneath our feet. Oh, we tossed away so much old useless metal, plastic, and rubber so carelessly to build ever grander monuments and fiercer machines of war, fearing that if we condescend to the ocean’s waters and keep her in a sound state we would waste precious time and advance too slowly compared to the other great cities of the world. Oh, what could I do save the oceans now? Oh, too much filth has sullied her breasts; it is too little too late. Things are in motion that cannot be undone.”     

“Whatever, Gandalf.” Says Adrian, his only son and captain of the forces guarding the coastline. “If we run out of sushi, we’ll find out ways to 3D print it or something.” He picks up a call on his earpiece. Multiple old foreign boats have been spotted outside the electric barrier, registered from Chile but put out of commission years ago, with clearly no authorization to come to Los Angeles. “They must be criminals or terrorists.” Adrian jumps to his conclusion, then issues his order. “Bomb them with the drones.” To his father, he says. “Get in the base. Guard the Millennium Item.”  

“Wait.” Secmeton halts his son. “Before that, let everyone surrounding the city in.” Adrian does as commanded, and thousands of vagrants who could no longer live in the city and fled it, come streaming back in. Secmeton opens his arms wide to welcome them. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Meanwhile, everyone among the rebel boats is tense as the steel the boats are made of. The cadres can just see the shore on the other side of the electromagnetic barrier. Readying their rocket launchers, they point them at the walls protecting the Momentum Generator of the city, now a small patch of grey land with towering skyscrapers, as if squeezed into a small point. Maya, Mathias, and Yukio meditate in the bridges of their respective boats, building the Ka energy needed to transform. All is quiet, still, frozen, like the cloudless grey sky.

A flock of birds streak from the shore into the sea, then get closer, bigger, blacker. The magpies become crows, then become vultures – a dozen men instantly die. The first bomb hits the nose of Maya’s boat, spraying limbs and torsos onto the water. The whole boat shakes under the next few bombs, throwing Maya all over the bridge. She barely blocks her head from the blows with her arms; otherwise she will be knocked out and it will be the end of her. The next assault nearly ejects her from the window.

Yukio and Mathias do just as badly several kilometers away. One bomb hits part of the bridge of Mathias’ boat, Mathias barely escaping with his life, instead merely getting buried under rubble. Yukio jumps from the bridge of his boat and hops around like a hunted rabbit to avoid all the missiles. And worse happens. One of the war satellites in outer space opens fire, sending a batch of three missiles, one missile every twenty minutes. Three boats vaporize under huge mushroom-shaped clouds, everyone on board dead.

The drones hit Maya’s boat so many times whatever is left of it keels over and sinks. Maya and whoever remains jumps to sea. The freezing saltwater stings Maya, her body soaked with blood, seared by fire, cut by shrapnel, crusted with blacked debris. Still, she thrives, and she calls Yukio and Mathias with a walkman that is thankfully waterproof. “The water! Charge up! Under!” She shouts in haphazard bursts. “Do you copy!” She shouts again and again for an answer. They respond, and she shouts some more but receives no confirmation.

Maya has no choice but to assume the best. She takes a small emergency breathing mask, a small valve of oxygen attached to a mouthpiece, and dives under water. Bombs explode above her and people scream before their cries suddenly stop, but the noise is cushioned by the water and Maya remains safe. She tries to concentrate, to build up her remaining Ka force, but it does not work. Still, Maya has fun.

What? Yes, Maya understands, a part of her, the dragon in her, is thrilled. She spent three months finding allies and rallying an army of cadres to ready for battle, and here it is! At last, her quest proper for the Millennium Items, her battle against Yifan finally, truly begins. But wait! Another part of her, the outraged feminist activist teenager, scolds her for her excitement. What monster gets excited in the middle of death and destruction? Maya pushes the activist away. If she worries about morals now, she will die. For six minutes though feeling like sixty, she focuses on her fun in fatal games, her lust for blood, her excitement in the violence, and lets that part of her take over – halfway.

Maya bursts from the ocean in an eruption like that from a volcano, partly transformed into a black dragon, with eyes glowing red, skin somewhat scaled and blackened, two pairs of wings and horns growing from her body, brandishing a flaming sword created from her own fiery energy within. She flits about everywhere in the sky like a fly, barely able to be seen. One drone after another vanishes into smoke. And Maya zaps around the shore from field generator to field generator, like a hummingbird, destroying each one.

Yukio and Mathias, having luckily received Maya’s message, copy her. They too emerge from the ocean, Mathias half transformed into Horus the Black Flame Dragon LV 8 and Yukio into Number 39: Utopia, and wipe out one drone after another. Like Maya, they too fly to shore and take out the remaining field generators. With all barriers gone, Miguella orders every remaining boat to open fire on the shore. Missiles streak across the grey air and blast several skyscrapers to the ground, exposing the biggest building, the Momentum generator, within.

Maya, Yukio, and Mathias meet together into a trinity. “Let’s play capture the flag.” Maya says. “First one to get the Millennium Item wins.”

The trinity clasps hands and shouts. “Reservoir Chile Dogs! Strike!”

The three warriors split up to assault the building holding Momentum generator. Mathias slashes at the top, splicing one piece of the large steel sausage after another. Yukio pounds the mighty base of the building, seeking to uproot it to find the Momentum lying somewhere underneath. Maya goes straight underground the area surrounding the base. She breaks her way into the sewer, scurries her way through the filthy mase like a rat, getting sludge on her breasts, waist, and thighs.

Then, Maya burroughs through the wall, crashing through the other side, killing a soldier. The dozens of other soldiers occupying the base open fire at her. Maya, in the mood for more games, picks up the gun of the dead soldier. “I haven’t played an FPS in ages!” She says to herself. Enhanced in her half dragon form, she picks off one soldier after another with easy speed. “Boom, headshot! Boom, headshot!” Maya shouts as she tears through one body after another. She reaches Adrian, Secmeton, and the Momentum in no time.

Adrian throws a grenade at Maya, who catches the hot potato and throws it back at the chef. Adrian blows into smithereens before his father’s eyes. “NO!” Secmeton cries, sobbing.

Adrian’s shattered head squarely lands on Maya’s feet. Annoyed, she picks it up and throws it away. “Duel me for the Millennium Item!” She commands the high mage.

Secmeton looks up into the eyes of the evil creature before him, trembling, but summons his courage. “Never!”

Something strange then happens. Maya’s wings, horns, and scales, vanish into flames and smoke, turning her back to normal, or so it seems since her eyes still glow red. She points to a monitor on the floor used by Adrian to observe the battle above. Secmeton can see with his two very eyes the spectral form of a black dragon form outside. The creature is covered in thick black fur, with skin wings, and the face of a wild ape. Secmeton reasons that it must be her spirit Ka, and what a sublime and dreadful thing it is.

“No celebrities will be harmed this chapter.” Maya says solemnly. Her Ka blasts the base of a building with its breath, toppling the thing over. “Nah! Who am I kidding?” It burrows into the basements below like a raccoon digging through trash, chewing through one celebrity after another.

“I have been compared to…” Maya counts with her fingers. “Five random animals through epic simile. You can try guessing which ones or play bingo on which celebrities die first. I’m personally hoping Tom Cruise went down first. I don’t know about Kim Kardashian though. She’s as empty of a brain as your son’s head is right now but she’s got fine curves so she must be yummy. What about African feminist queen Beyonce? I’ll have to mull her over on that one.”      

Secmeton endured several minutes of this torture before shaking his head solemnly. “I’ll never give in to your demands.”

“Do you think your decayed city is that valuable? I mean, come on! Look at it! It gives urban sprawl a good name!” Maya’s Ka jumps off its borrow and glides around the city, torching the masses of vagrants into a bonfire. “Never been to a camping trip but smores must taste delicious out in the open. Of course, you can duel me anytime you want to make the crispy cooking stop.”

“Never!” Secmeton rebukes her. “You can never make me sway from my principles!”

“You must have been a real fuddy-duddy when your son was a boy – and still had his head – as bad as Squidward I imagine.” Maya says. She makes an evil grin, more like a snarl, as she gets an idea. “Maybe I have it wrong. I should destroy other forms of sentient life. I’m thinking a few dolphins and whales may do the trick. I know the coral reefs are as good as right now but if I give it a shot -”

“Please! Not the dolphins!” Secmeton protests. “I’ll duel you as long as you stop killing the dolphins!”

“Deal!” Maya snaps her fingers and her Ka vanishes into black smoke. She takes off a small watertight metal backpack and pulls out the duel disk inside it. “Shall we?”

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 7 – Skirting Shangri-La

The meeting over, our family of three make their way back home, Maya cradling her son for the first time in over three years. “Perhaps our footprints will become fossils.” Yukio says to his heart. “And they will be preserved for millions of years after our bones crumble to dust, and another species will find them and see me and Maya for the first time after eons.” Such are Yukio’s thoughts as the family leaves the dirt road to enter a grassy plane, and all of a sudden the stars become very visible, as if many new stars are just being created.

Yukio tells Maya his thoughts. His partner replies, “I don’t think these celestial reptiles will be able to know anything about us. We don’t know what our so-called ‘prehistory’ was really like. We just assume nothing of substance happened since people didn’t farm and write when there could have been countless great artists, warriors, explorers, religious reformations, cultural movements, insert whatever stuff you want here. We, for all we’re worth, will be buried in the same darkness where we came from.”

“So everything we did, do, and will do will be forgotten. That’s depressing…” Yukio’s voice trails away in the gentle breeze.

“I don’t think so. It would be horrible if the universe never gets to wipe itself clean. Either way, we’ll have this conversation an infinity later, and again an infinity after that, and again an infinity after that. ”

“And you know this because?” Yukio questions Maya, not believing her. Little Narmer wriggles in Maya’s bosom when he sees a firefly near him, wanting to catch it, so Maya lets him down. Both parents watch their child run after the little insect as if he is a kitten chasing after a red dot, heading down to the beach.

Wait, there’s a beach? “Not on this part of the landing strip.” Yukio mutters, utterly confused. Narmer runs on the beach as he chases the firefly, grass on one side, the ocean on another, with Maya running after him, and Yukio running after them. Meanwhile, water rises from the ocean, conjuring the images of Maya’s and Yukio’s pasts, but the both of them are too busy chasing their child to notice. The shore seems endless to them until they realize they’ve been circling the same place many times, so Maya snatches Narmer. She can finally pay attention to the dancing waves.

The watery dancers form the first scene, Maya’s earliest memory; a small child about Narmer’s age splashes in running water in a bathtub. She calls on her mother to dry her but receives no answer, so she gets out of the tub herself, trailing a few small puddles of water with her. She finds her mother lying in bed, eyes staring upward into nothingness, a hand holding a small white pellet. The child does not understand the meaning of this. She finds the TV still on and watches some cartoons until her father arrives home from work.

Another scene appears; her father bears the bad news to the family that he lost his job as a biochemist of KaibaCorp, back when the company manufactured weapons of war. Her mother becomes almost comatose with depression, her father spending all his money to treat her, forcing the family to move into a project building on the Lower East Side. Her father starts raving against Jews despite being a Jew himself. The girl runs to her mother for protection, but her mother is lying in bed again with pills. The mother sighs, “I wish I never met your father. If only I did not become pregnant I could have still left him.”

Several years later, the girl beats up a classmate who annoys her and forces his head in a toilet. The girl is promptly sent to detention. She yells how school is worthless, how she wishes she has a job to learn how to make money instead of learning how the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. The teacher wags her finger at the girl, and the girl bites the finger until it bleeds. The girl comes home, expelled from school. Her mother screams how the girl is evil and worthless, tries to strike the child but her father defends her.

Both parents bitterly quarrel. Her father punishes her mother by putting her hands in boiling water and beats her. The girl tries to protect her mother from further blows but the mother pushes her to the floor, calling the girl a devil who ruins people’s lives. Years later, the girl’s mother jumps off the window, ending her life. Her father beats her, accusing her of being the cause of her mother’s death. The girl meets Jolene in school for the first time a day later, taking up the Yugioh card game. She is relieved her mother is finally dead but feels guilty about it.

“Yes, I was sent from Hell to punish my parents for their worthless shit lives.” Maya retorts to her reflection in the water. “I did it so well I became the devil in chief.”

Yukio sees a different performance from the waves; a boy weeps near a small piano as his tiger mother tries forcing him to practice The Little White Donkey for another hour. The boy swears never to touch the piano again. He picks up a guitar instead and learns to play rock music but his parents hate it. He will never be successful, his father derides him, not in business or medicine or law, only a dropout who plays music and does drugs.

And that’s what the boy does. He drops out from his parent’s expectations. He grows to be tall and thin, with a goatee and short messy hair. He starts dating Jolene in high school, who his parents do not like too much but tolerate. He does not do well enough to go to college so his parents kick him out to live in an apartment in Brooklyn. He fathers a child with Maya, so his parents disown him for good. It would be a torture, they say, to be forced to look at a dark grandchild.

Yukio shrugs at seeing the vision. “What can I say? I like ass and weed more than a boring office job.”

A powerful creature emerges from the water, a kind of machine armor in the form of a sea serpent, but with six wing-like arms and a screen for a torso. The screen buzzes from static into an image of a veiny crone’s face, except the face is missing eyes. The duel monster, Cœlestial Siren Clothon, points to the horizon of the beach, alerting Maya and Yukio to the curvature of the horizon. They are on a small planet. With a gesture of her arms, Clothon directs the water dancers to come together, the actors from each scene fusing to form copies of Maya and Yukio, then she shatters the sculptures into foam.    

The couple sits down to try to make sense of Clothon’s message, leaving Narmer to play between them. “If these bad memories are the things that make us who we are, then we are fundamentally bad.” Maya conjectures. “Our characters aren’t driven by traumas and resentments so much as created by them.”

Yukio, being the philosopher of the two, broadens Maya’s comments into a principle, as per habit. “Maybe that’s how living creatures are made, from our personalities to our talents to our worldviews. Hardship literally builds character, maybe because it forces it, makes it necessary, for a character to be made.”

“Then we really can’t escape it, no matter what we do.” Maya says as Narmer falls unto her lap. “Maybe this is what the Christians really mean by original sin or the Buddhists by Samsara. Insert whatever outdated religious comparison here.”

“Decadence is the price we pay for being self-aware creatures with spiritual drives.” Yukio concludes. Clothon takes the water from the sea and turns into a string of yarn, in this way spinning the thread of life, passing it to the next Cœlestial Siren, Lacheson. This new duel monster is of a larger thicker build, is yellow in design while Clothon is blue, and has the face of a younger woman but with the eyes missing. She weaves the thread and it’s defy skill, quickly turning it into a new planet while Clothon makes a rainbow bridge, inviting the family to cross it.

This new planet, the family observes as they land on it, is completely covered by shallow water save for a small island. The water flickers with images of their pasts and the pasts of an infinite number of people they do not know, all mixing with each other to the point Maya and Yukio become confused, unable to tell their history from anyone else’s.

Maya points to the many stars. “Look very far into the past and you’ll see the fourth wall.” She tells Yukio, who stares deep into the darkness. Yukio can’t see anything at first but then he gets it, suddenly; it actually hits him. He sees a flat plane or wall in the distance, a kind of radiation static from which the universe emerges as a hologram. And beyond the screen he sees beings of all kinds, some divine and others very mundane, walking to and fro as if they are on a busy sidewalk, some of them looking through the screen to see the universe for a while before passing on. This must be the fabled audience.

“Look on and you’ll see more.” Maya instructs him. Yukio looks even further and sees an endless kaleidoscope of flat screens, each one screen creating an infinite more beyond itself, even when they’re all compressed together into something less wide than an atom. And Yukio can even see through them, see their past, present, and future all at once like they’re open books.

Mathias and Sofia see Maya and Yukio from a distance and the four friends greet each other. They all wave at the audience, “Hello! Hope you enjoy the story so far!” And Sofia further adds, “I don’t think it’s very good though. Not enough card games.”

“You terrible liar!” Maya locks Sofia within her arms to give her the biggest noogie she has ever felt in her life.  “The Yugioh card game sucks. It’s the reason no one under 280 pounds takes us seriously.” Sofia tugs against Maya, much stronger than she looks, making both women fall into the water.

“I see you got Yukio and Sofia up to speed.” Mathias says to Maya, who is not in the most dignified position right now. He points to Lacheson, the duel monster hovering above them. “I hope this… weird thing didn’t bring us together to make a splashfic. I think that is the author’s job.”

“You mean Orochi, right?” Maya asks before pausing, dumbfounded upon realizing something. “There is an author beyond Orochi isn’t there, a person who writes this story like how J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books though less competently.”

Mathias nods. It is a small universe after all. The siren Lacheson points to the small island. Narmer sees all the little animals playing on the island. They are the friends in his dreams. He runs over to the island to play with them. “No, Narmer, be careful!” Maya runs to catch him but as soon as she leaves the water she collapses on the ground, crushed by her own weight. She struggles to get up, again and again, but fails each time. “I’m trying my hardest! Why am I not strong enough!” She gasps.

Yukio tries catching Narmer as well but also falls under his weight. “I don’t understand.” He broods over his failure. “I am ready to sacrifice everything for Narmer but this will is not strong enough? Why?”

Mathias also trips from his own weight. “Why will God not help me save this child!” he cries. “Am I too burdened by sin?”

“What sin could you possibly have committed?” Maya laughs at him. “You didn’t use a condom, did you?”

“This is coming from the mother of the year.” Mathias retorts.

Sofia runs after Narmer but also trips under her weight. She struggles to get up but to no avail until Maya gives her a little push. With this help, Sofia gets to the island though on her knees like a water creature crawling on land for the first time. She soon gets strong enough to defy gravity by standing on her feet again and joins Narmer and the little animals in their games.

Lacheson casts the remaining thread of the planet to the last Cœlestial Siren, Atropon, this one slim and red, bearing the face of a girl though without eyes, who tosses it on a small blue dot the way a sailor tosses an anchor into the sea. Everyone gasps; the blue dot is Earth itself! Then they see Yifan, very far away but with frightful power, tear the Earth in half with the anchor thread, with everyone who opposes her dangling helplessly. Yifan is so strong, space itself warps under her gravity until she becomes the center of a black hole. Atropon builds the last rainbow bridge, starting from the small island Sofia and Narmer are standing on and directing the bridge straight through the black hole!

The three Cœlestial Sirens gather in a circle, facing away from each other, holding all eighteen hands together, and spread out on their backs, not unlike how synchronized swimmers perform their art. Together, they ask me, the author. “Why?”

So I tell them. I somehow feel demeaned and unknown for my true worth, so I would like my characters, who are kind of like me, to be forever well-known and loved. My ideal would be if everyone knew the five main characters of this very scene as well as they know Achilles, Hamlet, Harry Potter, or Katniss Everdeen.   

The Sirens laugh at me, sympathy and ridicule mixed in their tone. “You aim too low.”   

Suddenly, Maya, Yukio, and Mathias find themselves back on the dirt road in Chile, Sofia back in New York, and Yifan back from wherever she is right now. They get up, grumbling, relieved to be back on Earth, with normal gravity, but annoyed at the dirt on their clothes. Maya quickly finds Narmer and picks him up as if afraid he is left behind with the black hole.

“I know this is a little late to ask, but are those are the main monster cards in your Deck?” Mathias questions Maya. “I’ve never seen them before.”

“I believe so.” Maya answers, disgusted “I can’t get over the idea of duel monster spirits or whatever you call them talking to me. It’s like I’m Jaden with Winged Kuriboh. Just, eww! It’s so lame!

“I believe the kids these days call it ‘fake and gay’.” Yukio quips.   

“Well, at least they didn’t talk to me in a horrible English dub voice.” Maya sighs in relief. “I guess there is a silver lining in every rain cloud.” Speaking of which, it does begin to rain, heavily, turning the dirt into mud and causing Narmer to shiver and cry. “Or maybe not.”

Maya, Yukio, and Mathias bid each other farewell, fleeing from the rain, ready to plan the assault on Secmeton’s fortress next week.

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 6 – Cuadros y Compañeros

Somewhere deep in the Chilean countryside, Yukio busily tends his small garden, taking his time to thoroughly reap his corn, avocados, and potatoes. Each of his crops is sorted in its own little rectangle of soil, the wooden borders painted white. Yukio shows as much care to his small brick house, the walls also painted a creamy white and the roof tiles painted a bright red. The inside, as Yukio inspects while he drinks a cool glass of water, is as well made with small homely furniture right where he left –

Yukio straightens the chairs around a small coffee table. Little Narmer must have crawled his way under the table to play there. And he’s still there! Yukio pretends he is a fearsome lion as he drags his son out from under the table to tickle him. “You dare hide from me! I’m gonna’ eat you!”

Little Narmer squirms and giggles as his father, noticing his son hiding something important from him, interrogates the child in mocking seriousness. “Did you steal my car keys?” Little Narmer shakes his head. “Are you sure?” The child shakes his head again but can barely stop himself from laughing. Yukio blows on his son’s belly and snatches the key from under the little rascal’s shirt. “Let’s to the village. We need to barter for supplies.”

Yukio takes his son out and unlocks his bicycle from the fence, then turns around, and there she is. “Maya!” Shocked, Yukio can barely say her name, an odd thing since the woman in the flowery dress before him hardly looks anything other than ordinary. Yukio almost shies away from touching her cheek, afraid she will vanish like the mist from the Andes mountains. Maya awkwardly places her arms on his shoulders, not knowing how to properly touch the man she did not see in three years and nine months.

Then the two lovers suddenly ignite into a bonfire. They make out lewdly in full force and crash on the small table inside the house in their embrace. Maya nearly crushes his waist by wrapping her legs around him while Yukio in turn gives her crests a few hickeys. Their ardent powers exhausted, the couple falls from fire back down to earth.

Yukio catches sight of his son, who went back to playing with his keys, from the corner of his eye. “Did we just have sex in front of our kid? Oh no…”

Maya gives him a warm sweet kiss and gently pushes him away with her legs. “He has a head start.” Finally, Maya does the proper thing and reintroduces herself to the child she did not see in three years. “Hi there. You must be Narmer. I’m Maya, your mother. You were a baby the last time I saw you.” She speaks to her son in the sweetest way she knows how.

Narmer takes out some toy trains and cars under the table and places them around his father’s keys. He offers a toy car to his mother. “For me? Why thank you!” Maya exclaims. Yukio joins in on the fun and all three play Narmer’s mysterious game together. Man and woman converse during this time, telling each other of their lives since they last met.

Yukio says in a dry manner, “I left New York about a year after the Momentum generators were installed. I figured this much displacement and unrest would finally bring forth the global third world revolution communists have wet dreams about. So I prepared for the worst and went to a village in said third world country. Meanwhile, I’ve been chillin’ in my garden and playing games with Narmer.”

Maya does some explaining of her own, hiding her somewhat guilty tone of voice as best she can. “I’ve been playing games too but with a more difficult opponent. Yifan could literally tear half the earth off the ground and leave every human being dangling in the air if she wanted to. But that would bore her. She’s such a threat to humanity and someone needs to challenge her, but she’s so strong. It’s like you’re Kratos trying to battle Zeus but with Zeus himself as the gatekeeper of all the game’s power ups and secrets. So what do you do?”

“You do things the Sith way.” Yukio answers her. “You become an apprentice to a master, learn the master’s secrets of the Dark Side, then kill her. I deduce that has been your modus operandi for the last three years. Also, I don’t know if you had to train with Yifan in the mountains or something like that, but pop culture as we know it is dead. You can’t exactly play bad video games or watch horrible prequel trilogies when you’re living in a tent.”

“Yeah, I guess.” Maya lays on Yukio’s shoulders. “Makes me wonder how pop culture would have gone otherwise. George Lucas may have made another trilogy but as a sequel. Yet by that time a bigger mass media company like Disney would probably have swallowed Lucas whole. Another Star Wars trilogy would be too big a cash cow to pass up and fans would be tired of Lucas by that point. Like imagine if Mickey Mouse went on a quest for world domination and bought out every entertainment business known to man: 20th Century Fox, Marvel, Lifetime, everyone. And then Mickey built a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Death Star to control everyone.”

“Now you’re being silly.” Yukio reprimands her. “Laser satellites are so 80s.” With that remark, Yukio gets up. He walks his family, now whole, to the nearby village, taking his corn with him. Maya takes Narmer with her by slinging him around her chest. The family manages to trade their corn for some batteries, toiletries, fruit, and canned beans, and by sunset are about to head home but Maya takes them to a large mud house at the edge of the village. She booked Yukio for an important meeting.

Yukio adjusts his eyes in the dark dirty room, seeing a small cadre of officers. He notices two familiar faces; one is of a large obese man with thick glasses, the other of a tall Irishman with a sturdy pot belly and a muscular build. “JC? I didn’t think you’d grow an afro. I mean a Che Guevara shirt is bad but an afro? Mathias? Did you honestly bring pizza for us?”

Jeffrey Cade, or JC as people call him, politely clasps hands with Yukio. “Never thought I’d see you in the henpecked husband role –  I can only imagine you two! – assuming you married.”

Mathias embraces Yukio and Maya both in a warm bear hug, nearly mushing them into one person. “You never go wrong with buffalo chicken, even in times like this!” Everyone groans but eats the pizza anyway, too happy with full stomachs to bother asking how Mathias got such food in the first place.

Dinner concluded, JC announces to the cadre, “Now that Maya brought her submissive to the gang, we can get down to business. I’m not talking about attacking Secmeton’s base yet. First, we need a cool name. I’m thinking the Wolf Pack but it needs more chile. Any ideas?”

And a flood of ideas come. “We can go classy. How about the Rat Pack?” Mathias suggests. “Or put Wolf and Rat together… Hmm… Wolf Fat Pack! Ra Wolf Pack!”

Yukio shakes his head. “Needs to be more, dare I say, punny. Get it! Rattata Pack!” And Yukio starts doing the tata dance.”

Maya gently punches her baby daddy on the chest. “Pokemon sucks and will always suck, even if it becomes an iPhone game. Star Airwolf Squadron! We can borrow from Pinochet and give our enemies a helicopter ride or two.”

“I can’t believe this!” JC bellows in disgust. “You plan to take down late stage capitalism in a third world revolution by beating people in a children’s card game but can’t even make a good team name! I’ll pick something good! Reservoir Chile Dogs!”

Maya loses her breath; she is that impressed. “That’s really good, but it gives away our location. – Ah, to hell with it. We’re not staying here. Our name reflects our origin story, like with superheroes.” She pulls out a large map from under the empty pizza boxes. “Now we gotta’ make a strat.

“One of the high mages, as you know, is a generous wealthy donor, hence where we got our boats. Intel from New York informs us the high mages are disputing guardianship of India and Russia. They think America is safe, but they’re wrong. We’ll blind side them by attacking Secmeton in Los Angeles from the sea. We launch our boats from Chile next week. The four of us,” She points to herself, Yukio, Mathias, and JC. “Lead the assault. We can disable Secmeton’s electric shield that stops all metal objects but only up close. We cool?”

Everyone nods except a female commander named Miguella. “What about the missile satellites?” She asks.

“We’ll have to split our fleet and attack Los Angeles from multiple angles.” Maya promptly answers. “Satellites take a while to lock on targets and fire missiles. It leaves us vulnerable to warships and fighter jets but a satellite blowing us all up is an instant knockout.”

Maya turns to you, the audience, in an aside, “I think my team name, Star Airwolf Squadron, is better. It has more of a social commentary thing going on. Humor has more quality when it is dark. Think about it. Do you really believe a pumpkin spice latte is equal to Turkish coffee?”

“Can you please stop talking to yourself!” JC yells at her.

“You were breaking the fourth wall, weren’t you?” Yukio says.

“She indeed was.” Agrees Mathias. To Maya, he says, “JC’s idea is better. Stop being a sore loser.”  

“You taught me and JC over the years on how to use spirit Ka in battle but not how to break the fourth wall. How come?” Yukio asks Mathias.

“Maya will have to teach you.” Mathias patiently explains to him. “You have a close enough relationship with her. Or you can get bumped in the head like I did, get buried under rubble for three days like Maya did, or nearly kill yourself as Yifan did.”

“Yifan never told me that. How do you know this about her?” Maya demands. “Are you in contact with her?”

Mathias confirms Maya’s suspicion. “I am. A rat as big as Yifan needs more than one link to the enemy team. What if one of us is compromised?”

Maya is not convinced. She presses on. “How do I know you’re not a mole?”

“How do I know you’re not a mole?” Mathias mirrors Maya’s suspicion back at her. “How do I know Narmer isn’t a mole? What is real? Am I a brain in a vat? Is God a giant rat like in South Park? Maybe the Earth is flat and the Moon landings are fake.”

Maya becomes exhausted. “Whatever. Enough.”

“Dada, I’m hungry.” Narmer moans, wiping his little eyes with tired hands. He huddles between his father’s legs for protection. Maya’s body surges in a hot flash of jealousy. It lasts for an instant but is enough time for Maya to pick up Narmer from the ground with great force. This frightens the child and he starts crying. Maya tightly cradles him to get him to stop but it does not work.  

JC decides it’s time to shut the book. “Meeting’s over. Goodbye. Adios. Sayonara. Proshchay. Marsinleat. Zaijian. Everyone, shoo!”

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 5 – Three Nights in New York


Yifan has always loved horses, even wanting a pony when she was a little girl, and today it is the only cliche she is willing to die for. And she still loves horses to this day, so much she owns a small park in the Chinese countryside just to be with the creatures. Yes, they are swift, bold, loyal, and steadfast, but also have great intelligence: an eye for subtle details in body language, are quick in learning, possess problem solving skills, and even form associations.

As Yifan often wistfully says to herself during moments of weakness and now says to you, “How humane, how rational, free of praying and being preyed on. What would it be like if horses ruled the world?”

Yifan is glad to be away from the world. She feeds her friends carrots, caresses their noble faces, kisses them, rides them when the day is not too cold and windy. If she can save anything while the planet burns, even if it means not saving herself, it would be this small herd. She even has a bunker with provisions just for the horses. Perhaps in a different day and age she is not a monster.

Speaking of which, her phone rings, the caller none other than her girlfriend Pegasus. She picks up the phone and instantly hears his anxious voice. “Who goofed now?”

Indeed, the world blazed outside over the past three nights ever since Maya shut down New York, taking the Wall Street stock exchange with her. Yifan herself took a hit, obviously, as she had to fire the domestic staff in her country house but she withdrew many assets and converted a chunk of her savings to cash and stocks of food, clothes, and weapons sparing herself as best as she could from the worst blows.  

Today, Yifan gets to see more inconveniences as already a few migrants from Beijing start camping on the fringes of her park. She can almost smell the filth of those vile people. And China’s airport shut down but using a private jet would be trite. Why not stretch her wings a bit?

Yifan sits down and meditates for about an hour, building her power, squeezing it into her center until a kind of thermonuclear fusion occurs and a star of energy is born. Yifan grows in size, her skin blackens into obsidian scales, her shoulder blades grow into wings, coarse black hair covers her body, her face stretches into the snouted face of a great bat; she transforms into her very Ka spirit. The dragon takes to the cold air and within a small moment breaks multiple times past the speed of sound, easily surpassing the SR-71 Blackbird several times over.

Yifan lands on Slide Mountain in upstate New York within less than half an hour, reverts almost back to normal, saving a little Ka left to dash down the mountain and woods to West Shokan. There, she meets a black limousine attended to by a driver. The man sees one of his employers and raises an eyebrow beneath his thick sunglasses. “How’d you get here so fast? I was wonderin’ why ya had me drive to the middle of nowhere.”

Yifan bluntly tells him the truth. “I can use the Yugioh equivalent of chi to transform into a dragon.”

The driver snubs Yifan for her joke. “And I have health insurance!”

“Lame.” Yifan says as she gets in the car. The driver chauffeurs her through miles of tent cities filled with poor and once middle class people who fled the large towns and cities over the course of three years. She briefly locks eyes with a hoary wraith of a man roasting a squirrel by a small campfire, his clothes too big for his starving body. His large intense eyes briefly flicker with hatred.  And over there, as the chauffeur passes through one of the many dense new slums surrounding the city, a caravan of new migrants who clinged on to their wealth until Maya made them lose everything.

Next, New York itself, city of dead dreams. It is so different than in used to be, so quiet, dark, and empty; no lights at Times Square, hedges outgrown and uncared for, no blinking traffic lights, no traffic of any kind, every small store shattered and pillaged. Was that dried blood and a dead body? Huh. Maya could leave a bigger mess.

“Ya know,” the driver muses, “I mean, for the sake of argument, wouldn’t every military base detect ya when, ya know, ya flyin’ around and stuff.”

“I project a shield that blocks detection from any machine.” Yifan answers graciously.

The car reaches a small part of the city still alive, now gated by a small squad of guards and robots running on backup power, stopping by a KaibaCorp building. The driver bids Yifan farewell. “Tell the other bosses I said hi, will ya?”

Yifan nods and gives him a generous tip for his trouble. She enters the skyscraper not to climb to an office at the top but to descend to a large basement at the bottom. Pegasus, Kepura, Martis are there, slouching in a room that is almost completely dark. Yifan sees Kaiba working furiously at three large computers, the only source of light in the room, with Jolene and Sofia as his aids in hacking.

Yifan clears her throat, alerting everyone to her presence since she slipped in the room too quietly to be heard. “Max says hi to everyone.”

“Who on earth is Max?” Kepura asks, annoyed.

“One of our chauffeurs.” Pegasus reminds him.

Kepura snaps his fingers. “Oh, that’s right! I remember! Forgive me; I sometimes forget employees have names.”

Kaiba ignores Yifan, too busy working to revert the blackout, Jolene and Sofia doing the same. Yifan notices the two young women hurting and aching, their bodies covered in bandages. Yifan wonders why Momentum did not blow up the whole tristate area and Kaiba, as if answering her personally, addresses everyone, “Maya and whatever gophers she has under her command could only disrupt Momentum’s ability to supply electricity but Momentum itself is powered by the Millennium Items.”

And so, as logic dictates, Momentum is safe. Kaiba’s tone is confident, meaning he must be close to solving New York’s blackout problem. Within an hour – voila! – all lights in the downtown area return, almost blinding everyone in the room.

But Kaiba is not done yet. He turns to Kepura with a scowl. “You had one job, Kepura, one job: maintain the tristate area, which means guarding it, and you failed miserably. If you were my employee I would not only fire you I would rehire you just to fire you again and I would rehire you again to fire you again one hundred more times!”

Kepura clenches his aching forehead. “Look, I guard a Momentum generator and I have another job running the United States Army. I’m as overworked as an unpaid college intern. Cut me a break and take some laxative for once.”

“It’s your responsibility and your failure.” Kaiba grunts in disgust.

With that business out of the way, Pegasus proceeds to a new issue on the agenda. He produces a floppy disk from his red coat. The surviving police found this on the body of their chief. Perhaps you can play it for us. “Perhaps you can help us play it, Kaiba boy.”

“A floppy disk!” Kaiba flusters. “Who in this day and age still uses a floppy disk!? I can’t play this! None of the computers has a port for it!”

Yifan almost chokes on her own laughter. She cannot believe Maya can be this funny. “Are you telling me that you, in a room with quantum supercomputers powered by a virtual perpetual motion machine, can’t play a floppy disk?”

“Yes.” Kaiba says in a deadpan manner. He calls some security personnel and orders them to get an older computer. The guards leave and come back moments later with a big clunky box of plastic and metal, a Windows 98. He sets up the clumsy machine and puts the floppy disk in it.

Maya appears on screen, sitting behind what looks like the desk of a CEO, and behind her lie two densely packed storyboards. Maya herself is immaculate, wearing a thin black business suit and a tight black skirt with a light green shirt underneath, her only jewel a small gold necklace. Her hair is fully permed, letting her thick locks shine at their most lustrous. She might as well be the CEO of a company.   

She gives the real exposition of the story. “Having it all was one of my dreams. I became a millionaire by becoming World Champion of a children’s card game. I even had a husband and a child. If I wanted to, I could have invested the prize money and created a business.” She lights up a hundred dollar bill, uses it to light a cigar, and inhales deeply, reclining into her chair. She puts her black high heels on the desk and slowly breathes out the smoke through her mouth and nostrils, looking like a raksha or a dragon.   

“But I didn’t. I gave my money away and dropped off the grid for three years. Now I’m back and I need your help. I address you, mankind; your species, homo sapiens; all of you who have lived, are alive today, and will live. This is your last chance to avoid your doom. What is the threat? It is not so much the vastly wealthy masters of mankind, though they are a pretty big deal, but your very nature, your hubris.”

She points to the two storyboards behind her. “You have two doors ahead of you, one on the left and one on the right. You think one of the doors is where Momentum will lead us to a prosperous future if only big bad business is replaced with an equal just society and we save the environment. But it doesn’t matter which door you choose. It will lead to the end of our species.

Maya delivers the full salvo. “One future is our violent extinction. Momentum may give us near unlimited energy but the gifts of the earth are finite as ever. We will run out of raw materials and, when we do, every developed society, now utterly interconnected and dependent on each other, will collapse over time. As we head towards disaster, Momentum creates a growing ‘satellite’ class of slum-dwellers while fewer people hoard all the gains and use robots as slaves. But one day, when the earth is all used up, the high priests of this world will have nothing to stand against billions of starving people.

“The other future is our quiet extinction. Artificial intelligence will one day surpass us and slowly we will be assimilated into a Momentum Internet of machines. We may become cyborgs at first but we’ll become more and more machine over time until we gently go into the night. The nerds I bullied in high school of course got everything wrong when creating Momentum and the new machines you see around you. The only way we human beings can progress is not through better technology or an expanding market. It is through creative achievement.

She pulls out an old duel disk from under her desk. “As long we serve machines and money instead of machines and money serving us we will never work for our best interests. I became National Champion with this old machine serving me as a powerful weapon. I call on it once more to be my sword for one last battle. The only way to defeat the hierophants of this world is to defeat them in a shadow game as the Millennium Items power their Momentum generators. Nothing else will work. I guarantee it.

“I will destroy the high mages, knocking off one miter after another, but I can’t do it alone. Join me. Let all of us from every dispossessed slum, village, city, and bunker do this together. We can end this nightmare.” For her final assault Maya tears down the two storyboards behind her, revealing an open door streaming with sunlight. “Let’s find the third door. We must if we are going to survive and prosper. All the cards are in your hand. We can win if only you have the courage to play them. I’ll be waiting for you. We will meet again.”

The screen dissolves to static. Kaiba turns off the computer. “I don’t buy anything she said for a moment. How can anyone predict the future with such detail? She’s selling something and, as the king of a commercial empire, I know more than anyone else there is an ulterior motive behind the sales pitch. We must deduce what she’s really planning and rat her out.”

“She must be busy spreading the word.” Martis speaks up for the first time, his voice quiet and monotone as always. “The most disaffected communities are those in the so-called third world.”

Kepura picks up the logic and takes it to its conclusion. “We must devise a strategy. I suggest we aid Anubisius control the Middle East as Maya will most likely strike there. Also be prepared for the possibility of her hiding in Russia or India. It is between Anubisius’ territory and Yifan’s so control of the area is in dispute.”

Kaiba sets his eyes on Yifan’s, acknowledging her presence for the first time. Piercing deep blue eyes meet gentle dark brown ones. Kaiba can’t read her so he asks for her opinion.

And Yifan provides it. “Maya made an effective propaganda film. She constrains the viewer to see only two outcomes in a tiresome situation; both of them lead to ultimate doom. Damnation seems inevitable until she shows the way to salvation if only you, as evangelists say, open your heart and walk with her. If you accept her claims she gives you an ultimatum you can’t refuse. As for her dueling, I say it’s impressive but ultimately subpar. She will need stronger stuff than Archfiends if she hopes to defeat any of us.”

Kaiba scowls at Yifan, instantly made suspicious. Yifan is talking about Maya as if she is her mother or her after school teacher. Are they in it together? But if they are, how?

Pegasus decides to diffuse the tension. “By the way, Yifan, how did you get here so fast and why are you dressed like a jockey? Is it avante garde fashion? I think it’s absolutely dreadful.”

“I can fly.” Yifan says.

“And Donald Trump is president of the United States.” Kaiba snorts.

“That’s a really lame joke.” Squeaks Mokuba Kaiba, Seto Kaiba’s little brother, always following his big brother’s heels like a small dog.

“Shut up, Mokuba.” Kaiba grunts, and everyone has a good laugh.

Duel 4 Created Cards

MAYA’S CARDS

Gambitpawn Archfiend
EARTH/Level 2/Fiend/ATK 1200/DEF 0

  • If you Normal Summon this card, you can discard 1 card from your hand: Special Summon 1 “Terrorking Archfiend” or “Infernalqueen Archfiend” from your hand or Deck.
  • If “Archfiend” monster(s) you control would be destroyed: you can destroy this monster instead.
  • Pay 500 Life Points during each of your Standby Phases. When you lose Life Points from a card effect: increase the ATK and DEF of 1 “Terrorking Archfiend” or “Infernalqueen Archfiend” you control by the same amount.

Octoknight Archfiend
WIND/Level 4/Fiend/ATK 2000/DEF 1600

  • Half the ATK and DEF of this card if your opponent controls no monsters.
  • During the Battle Phase you can Tribute this card. Target 1 “Archfiend” monster you control: during this turn, it can attack your opponent directly.
  • Pay 900 Life Points during each of your Standby Phases. When you lose Life Points from a card effect: inflict damage to your opponent equal to half that amount.

Flankfool Archfiend
WATER/Level 3/ATK 1600/DEF 300
TUNER

  • If this card is sent from the field to the Graveyard this turn, banish it during the End Phase: add 1 “Archfiend” card from your Graveyard to your hand..
  • If your opponent’s monster attacks 1 “Archfiend” monster you control: you can Special Summon this card from your Graveyard and, if you do, negate the attack.
  • Pay 500 Life Points during each of your Standby Phases. When you lose Life Points from a card effect: decrease the ATK and DEF of all monsters your opponent controls by the same amount until the end of this turn.

Gunnerook Archfiend
LIGHT/Level 3/ATK 1900/DEF 800

  • You can discard this card during the End Phase: Special Summon all “Archfiend” monster(s) from your Graveyard that were sent from the field to the Graveyard this turn.
  • Once per turn: you can banish this card from your Graveyard: Special Summon 1 “Terrorking Archfiend” or “Infernalqueen Archfiend” from your Deck or Graveyard.
  • Pay 500 Life Points during each of your Standby Phases. When you lose Life Points from a card effect: discard 1 “Archfiend” card and draw 1 card.  

Archfiend Battleballer
DARK/Level 2/Fiend/ATK 0/DEF 0
TUNER

  • You take no battle damage from battles involving this card.
  • If this card is destroyed in battle: increase the ATK of 1 “Archfiend” monster you control by the same ATK of the monster this card battled until the end of this turn and, if you do, destroy the monster that battled this card.

Archfiend Swordsqueen
DARK/Level 7/Fiend/ATK 2500/DEF 2100

  • If at least 2 Fiend monsters you control are sent to the Graveyard during this turn: you can Special Summon this monster from your hand or Graveyard.
  • If this card is Special Summoned: increase the ATK and DEF of this card by the total Levels of all monsters you control sent to the Graveyard during this turn x100 until your End Phase.

Archfiend Goddess Caissa DARK/Level 10/Fiend/ATK ?/top-left, top-right, bottom-left, bottom-right
LINK (4 “Archfiend” monsters)

  • The ATK of this card becomes the number of “Archfiend” monsters in your Graveyard x800.
  • Once per turn: you can Special Summon 1 “Archfiend” monsters from your hand, Deck, or Graveyard. It cannot attack your opponent directly and is destroyed at the End Phase.
  • If this card would leave the field: you can banish this card and 1 Fiend monster you control or in your Graveyard. Special Summon both monsters at the end of this turn.

Unhealed Battle Scars
Continuous Trap
(This card is always treated as an “Archfiend” card.)

  • You can activate this card if you control “Archfiend” monster(s). Your opponent also pays the same Life Points that you pay for “Archfiend” monsters.
  • If you do not control “Archfiend” monster(s): destroy this card.

Ring of Fire
Continuous Trap

  • Place 1 Fire Ring Counter on this card for each 100 points of battle damage you take.
  • During your Main Phase 1: you can send this card to the Graveyard. Increase the ATK of 1 DARK or FIRE monster you control by the number of Fire Ring Counters on this card x100.

Relay Soul (anime)
Normal Trap

  • When your Life Points become 0: Special Summon 1 monster from your hand (you do not Lose the Duel). When the Special Summoned monster is removed from the field, your opponent Wins the Duel.

Infernal Bombast
Normal Spell

  • Target 1 Fiend monster you control: double its ATK. Destroy it after the Battle Phase.

Pump Up! (anime)
Normal Spell

  • Target 1 face-up monster on the field: double its ATK until the End Phase.

MAGIAN’S CARDS

Double Fusion (errata)
Normal Spell

Pay 1000 Life Points. Fusion Summon 1 Fusion Monster from your Extra Deck, using monsters from your hand or field as Fusion Material. Then, immediately activate this effect again.

Beast’s Pride
Normal Trap
Level 4 or lower Beast monsters on the field cannot be destroyed this turn.

Biparte Unicorn
LIGHT/Level 6/Beast/ATK 2400/DEF 1000
FUSION (2 Level 3 or lower Beast monsters)

  • Once per turn: you can Special Summon 1 Beast monster from your hand. You can only Special Summon Beast monsters for the rest of this turn.

Triparte Unicorn
LIGHT/Level 7/Beast/ATK 2800/DEF 1000
FUSION (“Biparte Unicorn” + 1 Level 3 or lower Beast monster)

  • If this card battles a monster and inflicts battle damage to your opponent, you can banish 3 Beast monsters from your Graveyard: send cards from the top of your opponent’s Deck to the Graveyard for each 100 points of battle damage.
  • If this card is destroyed by card effect: Special Summon 3 Beast monsters from your Banished Zone.

GIANT DIVINE SOLDIER OF OBELISK (anime)
DIVINE/Level 10/Divine-Beast/ATK 4000/DEF 4000

  • Requires 3 Tributes to Normal Summon (cannot be Normal Set). This card’s Normal Summon and Special Summon cannot be negated. When Normal Summoned or Special Summoned, cards and effects cannot be activated.
  • Once per turn, during the End Phase, if this card was Special Summoned from the Graveyard: Send it to the Graveyard.
  • Cannot be targeted or removed from the field by card effects. A card effect can only affect this card for 1 turn.
  • You can Tribute 2 monsters (other than this card): Destroy all monsters your opponent controls and increase the ATK of this card to INF during this turn.    

SKY DRAGON OF OSIRIS (anime)
DIVINE/Level 10/Divine-Beast/ATK ?/DEF ?

  • Requires 3 Tributes to Normal Summon (cannot be Normal Set). This card’s Normal Summon and Special Summon cannot be negated. When Normal Summoned or Special Summoned, cards and effects cannot be activated.
  • Once per turn, during the End Phase, if this card was Special Summoned from the Graveyard: Send it to the Graveyard.
  • Cannot be targeted or removed from the field by card effects. A card effect can only affect this card for 1 turn.
  • Gains 1000 ATK and DEF for each card in your hand.
  • If a monster(s) is Normal or Special Summoned to your opponent’s field: That monster(s) loses 2000 ATK and DEF, then if its ATK or DEF has been reduced to 0 as a result, destroy it.

SUN GOD DRAGON OF RA (anime)
DIVINE/Level 10/Divine-Beast/ATK ?/DEF ?

  • Requires 3 Tributes to Normal Summon (cannot be Normal Set). This card’s Normal Summon and Special Summon cannot be negated. When Normal Summoned or Special Summoned, cards and effects cannot be activated.
  • Once per turn, during the End Phase, if this card was Special Summoned from the Graveyard: Send it to the Graveyard.
  • Cannot be targeted or removed from the field by card effects. A card effect can only affect this card for 1 turn.
  • If Normal Summoned: This card gains ATK and DEF equal to the total ATK and DEF of all monsters Tributed to Normal Summon this card. You can Tribute monsters you control: This card gains ATK and DEF equal to the total ATK and DEF of all monsters Tributed.  
  • You can pay Life Points so that you only have 1 left; this card gains ATK and DEF equal to the amount of Life Points paid.
  • You can pay 1000 Life Points: Destroy all monsters your opponent controls.

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 4 – Lights Out

Maya: 7200 || Magian: 7000

The big duel catches everyone’s attention in the big city by this point. The police and protestors, who violently clashed moments ago, watch Maya and Magian square off in rapt attention as if the duel is an epic baseball game. It might as well be spring even though it is the cusp of winter. A few news reporters arrive at the scene by this point alongside many drones capturing tonight’s news from the air.

Maya almost purrs as a contented lion as everything is going according to plan. As she said many years ago, dueling is not about winning but about making a point. And of course about making a show. Sofia secretly planted electric bombs in both Maya’s and Magian’s duel disks. The loser will become burnt meat. Now isn’t that fun? True, this kind of entertainment is a little rough, but the degenerate masses always enjoy a blood sport.    

As for Magian, he never enjoyed playing a card game as much as he does now, like the good old days when he played poker but, instead of betting money, the players had to take turns playing Russian roulette. A part of him exhilarates in the crowd and media gathered around him and his opponent though he laments over the few human faces awash in the sea of machines. He had a German Shepherd, Ellie, a true companion after his family left him, but she died from gunshot wounds during a police chase. Dogs and cops no longer work together. Unthinkable.

MAYA’S TURN: Maya pays Life Points for the upkeep of her Terrorking Archfiend (Maya LP 7200 → 6400). Then, she expands her devilish army. “I activate Archfiend General from my hand; I discard it to add Pandemonium.” She activates the Field Spell and the street transforms into a fiery pit guarded by the bones of ancient fiends long extinct.

“The bowels of Hell,” Magian comments. “Where your black soul is destined.”

Maya retorts, smirking, “Guess we’ll be playing card games in Hell forever.

“I’ll use Archfiend Emperor’s effect to banish an Archfiend card in my Graveyard to pop your back row.” Surely enough, the monstrous king draws upon dark magic from the netherworld and burns away one card. “Now, my dark emperor, wipe out Triparte Unicorn!”

“Sorry to burst your bubble.” Magian counters. “You destroyed the wrong face down card. I activate Mirror Force!” A holy barrier catches the archfiend’s hand blows him to pieces, taking out Terrorking with him.”

“Mirror Force? How quant.” Maya scoffs. “I activate A Deal With Dark Ruler! Destroying my Level 8 monster fulfilled my contract, letting me Special Summon Berserk Dragon from my Deck!” An even more ferocious monster, a black dragon skeleton with evil glowing red eyes, lands on the field, shaking the ground. (Magian LP 7000 → 6000)   

The shock overwhelms Magian so much he nearly falls to the ground. The protestors cheer from the back, rejoicing to see a porker eat some concrete. “Do what you like! No matter what happens I will defeat you! I’m not a winner, not a quitter! I told you I’m not good at giving up!” Magian yells, desperate to save face.

“Please,” Maya snorts. You’re not an anime protagonist. You’re a porker, a mook, a redshirt.  I eat henchmen like you for Sunday brunch.”

“Keep making fun of me and see where that gets you!”

Maya wonders, pretending to be clueless, “I mean, I would roast you but cooking pork isn’t kosher. Speaking of roasting, Berserk Dragon, cook me some Triparte Unicorn!” The black dragon burns its hobbled quarry to ash. The meat, needless to say, is overdone.

“And I activate Escape from the Dark Dimension! I banished her to use my Archfiend Emperor’s effect. Now, Her Majesty arrives with pomp and circumstance! I Special Summon Archfiend Empress!” A tall dark queen bearing a certain resemblance to Mary Stuart graces the court, accompanied by a small orchestra of fiends playing royal music with duck kazoos.  

This little stunt causes Magian to laugh in good fun. Something about it makes him, as an Italian Catholic, very happy.

But Maya puts his moment of bliss to a sudden end. “Empress, attack him directly!” The archfiend conjures a deadly spell of fire with her scepter and blasts Magian, throwing him off his feet. (Magian LP 6000 → 4100) I enter my End Phase and send Gunnerook Archfiend from my hand to the Graveyard.” All of Maya’s monsters that died this turn come back, even Archfiend of Gilfer, and Maya draws a card amid more cheers from the protestors.

MAGIAN’S TURN: Magian sighs in relief. This strategy will help him stall a bit. “I activate two Card of Safe Return and then Monster Reborn to bring back Triparte Unicorn!” His monster gallops up from the Graveyard back to the plane of the living and Magian draws two cards. “I’ll strengthen my unicorn with Wild Nature’s Release!” The unicorn gains so much power and rage it boils completely red, steam coming from its nostrils. (ATK 2800 → 4800)

Maya grimaces with a humorous expression made famous by Obama. “Not bad for a mook.”

“Triparte Unicorn, skewer Archfiend Emperor!” Magian commands. “Show Maya the strength that surpasses Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon!” The unicorn would drill the emperor a new hole but his queen, Archfiend Empress, is able to protect any Archfiend from being destroyed and so blocks the attack. (Maya Life 6400 → 4600)

“Isn’t friendship magic?” Magian snarks.

“No. No, it is not.” Maya says.

Magian, forced to a defensive position, sets a card facedown and ends his turn with a grumble. His Triparte Unicorn dies from the effect of Wild Nature’s Release, which triggers its own effect Magian Special Summons his three banished beasts: Elephun, Gallis, and The Wicked Worm Beast.  

MAYA’S TURN: “I enter my Standby Phase, so I banish Gunnerook from my Graveyard to revive Infernalqueen Archfiend from the same realm.” A black cloud rises from the ground and forms into a lesser queen of fiends, and Maya draws a card. “And I banish an Archfiend from my Graveyard so Emperor can destroy your back row.”

“I activate my Set card: Beast’s Pride!” While the Archfiend Emperor does burn Magian’s card to ashes, his monsters all glow with a powerful prideful red aura, protecting them any form of destruction this turn.

This doesn’t sadden Maya too much. “Oh, well. I’ll just strengthen my chess army. I network Terrorking, Infernalqueen, Empress, and Gilfer to Link Summon their patron deity, Archfiend Goddess Caissa!” Maya’s fiends merge into the four corners of a six point grid portal, activating it, and the great goddess of dark beauty emerges.

“I use one of her many effects to Special Summon Flankfool Archfiend from my Deck. Then I Special Summon Archfiend Commander from my hand.” Two new demons appear, a frightening jester wearing a mockery of a bishop’s vestments and a larger fiend in formal clerical jewels, which destroys the jester right after he comes from the field. Thus, Maya adds another Archfiend monster to her head because of Pandemonium.

“I activate Call of the Archfiend, discarding a Fiend monster to Special Summon Archfiend Empress from my Graveyard. And I Normal Summon Archfiend Battleballer!” The queen of devils returns and a new subject of hers, a sportsman in football gear, joins her side.

Maya inspects her Graveyard: 8 Archfiend monsters. “Yup, it checks out. Caissa has 6400 attack strength. Bobby Fischer would be proud.”

Magian gives Maya a stare so blank Maya can almost hear crickets in the background. Maya sighs. “6400, like 64, like the number of squares on the chessboard, and Fischer died when he was 64? Whatever. It’s cool how Archfiends symbolise every sport, even chess.”

Magian forcefully rejects the idea. “Chess is not a sport!”

“You’re a professional party pooper, you know that?” Maya complains. “It’s literally part of your job to ruin parties.”

“What can I say? Drug dens go against truth and justice.”

The protestors hiss and boo at Magian for such a remark. The police shout them down in anger.

“You really got brainwashed by Nixon, didn’t you, you old fart?” Maya says, annoyed. “Regardless, I set three cards facedown. Since I now enter the End Phase, I can banish Flankfool from my Graveyard to return a dead Archfiend to my hand.” Maya carefully selects one such monster, the first one Magian milled. Fitting.    

Meanwhile, her Berserk Dragon weakens further. (ATK 3000 → 2500)

MAGIAN’S TURN: “I activate Ayers Rock Sunrise to Special Summon Biparte Unicorn from the Graveyard!” He two-piece chimera returns to the field. “I really hope my next two cards help me.” Magian says to himself, silently praying to God. He then draws two cards.

“Excellent! I activate Biparte Unicorn’s effect to Special Summon Green Baboon, Defender of the Forest from my hand!” A barbaric ape giant wiedling a cudgel also appears. “And now, I Tribute Elephun, Gallis, and the Worm Beast to Tribute Summon GIANT DIVINE SOLDIER OF OBELISK!” The heavens themselves seem to quake and the street almost splits open as the god descends to earth in the form of a gargoyle as tall as a small building.     

Maya gasps in shock and despair, “By Alfred Robert Kahn, how could I let this happen!” The activists wail openly, their faces ashen, while the police rejoice.

“Who is laughing now, you smug c*nt.” Magian gloats. “Time to eat your words! I offer Biparte Unicorn and Green Baboon to Obelisk to activate his greatest ability, SOUL ENERGY MAX!” The god clasps both monsters so hard their guts pop out, absorbing their energy until its color transforms from blue to bright purple, its attack strength becoming infinite! “GOD HAND CRUSHER!” Obelisk smashes through Maya’s army, obliterating them in an instead, and strikes Maya directly with its fist. (Maya LP 4600 → 0)

Maya flies several meters in the air and crashes on the steel traffic grates, hitting her head so hard she nearly blackens out from a concussion. She vomits on the street, her body violently shuddering. Now she knows how Malik felt after he got battered by Obelisk but for Maya it is even worse as great god now has infinite power.

Magian exults in his successful assault, eagerly watching Maya cough and hack her insides out. He freely ejaculates every victory shout he knows, which is only five, and the police join him. The protestors fall on their knees and begin crying. They know they are done for.

But something isn’t right. The duel holograms should disappear by now but they did not. Why!? And Maya’s field has a face up Continuous Trap Card, which keeps gaining Counters at breakneck speed: 20 Counters, 60 Counters, 100 Counters, 200 Counters, 700 Counters, 999 Counters. Magian was so euphoric he forgot to notice Maya played a Trap Card. But why should it matter?

The protestors ask themselves the same question. Maya slowly crawls her way back to the field, still hacking now and then. She shouts, “Time out! Time out! TIME OUT! How in the name of 4Kids Entertainment did you get your hands on Obelisk!?”

“A lovely rich Chinese lady gave a copy of the three god cards to me.” Magian explains. “Very generous of her, though I have no idea why.”

“Yes,” Maya says to herself and you, the audience. “Why would Yifan give such powerful tools to a random chud? Unless she wanted to test me by setting me up against a god. How devious of her. Truly worthy of the Asian stereotype.”

“It doesn’t matter anyway. You lost.” Magian reminds her.

“Did I?” Maya winks at him. “I activate Relay Soul! You brought my Life Points to 0 but this card carries my existence to a monster I get to Special Summon from my hand. Come forth, Archfiend Swordsqueen!” A brand new creature emerges, a demon swordswoman in light armor with martial arts so graceful she seems to be dancing. “She also grows stronger by the combined Levels of all the Fiend monsters you killed.” (Archfiend Swordsqueen ATK 2500 → 5700, Maya LP: RELAY SOUL)

“Talk about a broken card effect.” Magian complains.

Maya hits back, “Says the guy who played a god card with infinite attack strength! I play Relay Soul and I’m cheap. When Yugi plays Relay Soul he cleverly escapes the jaws of defeat!”

“You’re not Yugi. You are not anointed by God to be King of Games.”

“Please. I don’t have to be a pharaoh, a god on earth. I only have to be Maya, a normal mortal human being, which is far greater. Killing god is the bare minimum required for someone as strong as me.”

MAYA’S TURN: “My face up Trap Card, Ring of Fire, should have infinite counters since I took infinite battle damage but it doesn’t look like the designers foresaw this possibility. I send it to the Graveyard to power up Archfiend Swordsqueen by 100 points for each counter!” 999 Fire Ring Counters infuse the fiend with their hellfire, bringing her attack strength to exponential levels. (Archfiend Swordsqueen ATK 5700 → 105, 600)

“WHAT!?” Magian gasps in utter surprise. The protesters cheer for Maya once more.

“I activate Infernal Bombast to double her power!” The warrior queen roars as even more hellfire strengthens her. (Archfiend Swordsqueen ATK 105, 600 → 211,200)

“WHAAAAAAAAT!? Magian shouts again. The protesters reach a deafening roar.

“And I reveal my face down card, Pump Up! I double Swordsqueen’s power once more!” The archfiend blazes in a flame as bright as the sun. (Archfiend Swordsqueen ATK 211,200 → 422, 400) “Not exactly infinite but blame KaibaCorp’s primitive technology.”

“WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT!?” Magian is flabbergasted.

The protesters break into chant:
“Hey hey! Ho no!
Pink fat porkers got to go!
Ho ho! Hey hey!
No Momentum U.S.A.!”

Maya gives her farewell speech to all of New York City. “I said before dueling is not about winning but about telling a message! Here it is! Neither you, nor your police force, nor your city, nor your country, nor your high mages are a match for me! I embody something far greater than any nation, any god, any civilization!”

Maya roars a final time, “Archfiend Swordsqueen, destroy Obelisk and Magian!” Her ace monster leaps high in the air, briefly turning night into day, and in a blaze cuts Obelisk in half down the middle. The great god shatters into flames. Magian screams as the meteor storm rains down on him. (Magian LP 4100 → 0)     

Maya concludes, “God is dead. And I have killed him.”  

Maya: RELAY SOUL || Magian: 0

“Now for New York City’s penalty game.” Maya says to herself. Magian gets off easy: as soon as his Life Points hit zero his duel disks fries him with a powerful shock, killing him before he even starts falling to the ground. Magian falls into blackness and all of downtown follows him. Every electric instrument shuts down: every light winks out, every phone breaks, every police robot slumps, every news drone crashes to the ground from the air, everyone is cast into darkness.

There is absolute silence for a moment. Then someone panics, shrieking, “We’re all gonna die!” Protesters and police riot in the chaos, clashing with each other once more. But the police, having lost their guard robots, are severely outnumbered. The protesters bulldoze the cops and raise every street downtown in a blind fury. Thus, we witness the world’s darkest night so far.

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 3 – Ring of Ire

The businessmen part from the meeting with their respective Millennium Items to settle on different major cities around the globe. Secmeton lands ship on Los Angeles, taking America’s west coast. Anubisius becomes king of the beasts in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Atenza mounts Brasilia as his lookout. Martis makes the Washington D.C. area his dune and Kepura fortifies his position in New York City. Kaiba stays in Domino City in Japan. Yifan makes Beijing her red mansion.

Three years pass. The businessmen establish Momentum generators in their respective areas, providing them with near unlimited energy by using spooky magic. They effectively become the high mages, apostles of the modern world’s major religions. Technology booms as a legion of new computers and machines arise to build ever bigger skyscrapers and other megastructures, making the grand cities even grander. The American military creates an army of machine-controlled satellites each with an arsenal of thermonuclear detonators.

History repeats herself and, as usual, the military hands over the new technology to private investors like Kaiba to use it for their own ends. Then the investors take all the credit to promote the free market. In Kaiba’s case, he erects new space stations and uses his dueling technology to create a Momentum Internet Network. Now players can duel each other in virtual battlefields even if they are half the globe away from each other. With it, the Internet evolves and enmeshes humans together in an ever tighter web.

But everything has a price. In this case it is the cost of human lives for the benefit of humanity, a twist of fate Maya and Yifan find amusing. Millions of people leave the great cities as machines take over their jobs and the rent becomes too d@mn high, making the rich even richer and the big cities even harder to live in. You get a hole; between the mages and their priestly attendants on one side and people too poor to even move out on the other, there is a barren street.

It is on one of those streets, on the 21st of December, 2012 that protestors revive the city with a great demonstration against the powers that be. The once empty street now crawls with life: the old hippies who are honored veterans from the great protests against Vietnam in the 60s, affluent college kids with badly dyed hair dropping in to fight for a cause, anarchist punks with Molotov cocktails, the remaining minimum wage workers barely getting by (like yours truly), and so many people who lost their jobs and futures. It really is a great mass of humanity, with so much energy, life, and color despite all their hardships you will think it a parade.

Before long, however, a great grey cloud rains on the parade in the form of a mass of guard robots and the few dozen armored policemen acting as their lieutenants. At first protesters and police lock each other in a stalemate of threats and shouting, a mighty river crashing onto a massive boulder. The dynamite is all there but someone has to light it up, and it just so happens Jolene and Sofia rafted themselves in the middle of the ocean of protestors.      

Jolene pelts a cop with eggs with the vegan protestors. “Unbelievable.” Sofia objects. “Do you have any idea how expensive eggs are?” 

“They’re organic. No pesticides.” Jolene says with a wink.

This only makes Sofia double in exasperation. “That’s even worse! Here!” She lights up a Molotov cocktail and bombes it on the armored policeman, lighting the man ablaze. “Much cheaper!”

“It’s the season of lights.” Jolene jokes. “Christmas is coming soon.” But she soon changes from jesting to worrying as the protest catches fire. The anarchists, emboldened, join the fray, eager to make some Christmas lights of their own. The police chief directs the counterattack; the cops whip out their big guns, pummeling through the protestors with tear gas, rubber bullets, and nightsticks.

The chief himself assaults Jolene and Sofia with his weapons, inflicting black and red bruises on the two women, while his underlings use their doggish machines to arrest some hippies and college kids. A wrathful Sofia throws a punch though she is but on her knees, forgetting to call upon the dark powers Maya taught her. The chief easily catches her wrist and twists it, then finishes the job by spraying mace on her eyes and even giving it to Jolene since he is so generous.

“You idiot, Sofia! Why!?” Jolene weeps in agony, blinded. Sofia wishes she can tell her but knows she must her secrets with her to the grave. And how can Jolene or anyone else understand? The chief succeeds in subduing the two insolent little girls but it is not enough. 

He lifts his nightstick high, ready to dish out more punishment, when a great wall of fire erupts between the police and protestors. The blazing fire melts all the snow in its path and turns night into day, blasting the chief and the two women in opposite directions. All three quickly roll on the ground, soaking themselves on the newly made slush on the ground. The flames singe Jolene and Sofia, leaving them in terrible pain, while the chief is protected by his armor, spared from almost all burns.

“What the -” The police see a dark woman step out of the flames, unharmed. He gives an order; the police and the guard robots instantly fire every rubber bullet they have at her from their automatic guns. The woman easily calls upon a gust of flying black flames to surround her in a shield, which vaporizes the bullets before they can reach her. 

The chief gives himself time to scan her appearance, making a profile of her in his head: a woman slightly taller than average, long black curly hair, dark brown eyes, brown skin; wearing black jeans, a black and red shirt, black shoes, and a long black trench coat. This tigerish woman, with her bestial mane and fiery eyes, reminds him of someone famous.

Then he gets it. “Maya!? The duel monsters world champion!?” He gasps in complete shock.

Maya throws her hands up in the air, her expression in a limbo between someone pretending not to know any better and someone throwing a party. “Technically, the game is called Yugioh these days but duel monsters doesn’t sound as dorky I guess. And you are…? Hmm, do porkers even have names or do they just have numbers like evil minions do?”

The chief curtly answers her, “Magian Bellatore. I run the NYPD and I will make sure you pay for hurting my officers and obstructing the law!”

“Says the big strong man about to bludgeon two armless people on the ground. Do you beat your wife after a long hard day at work too?” She points to a scrawny little anarchist who clumsily holds a Molotov cocktail he is too scared to actually use and barks an order, “You, Antifa supersoldier! Take the two women in the large puddle to safety!” And the little anarchist scurries away, taking Jolene and Sofia with him, though not without a lot of help from comrades.

With that task done, she confronts the police chief once more. “Magian Bellatore. Mage Soldier. You really are a mook though, I admit, an elite one. – I forgot my manners. My full name is Marina Bozuslovskaya but I’ll go by Maya so the smooth-brained WASPs won’t get confused.

“I remember you, believe it or not. Jolene and I used to do canvassing in high school. You patrolled the street we were at. Jolene would deal weed right under your nose – one quick handshake and the deed was done – but you kept looking at me like I was up to no good.”

“Enough!” Bellows Magian. “What do you want, terrorist!”

Maya calmly answers, “What every main character in this franchise wants, a good duel. If I win, you call off the porkers and leave the protestors alone. If you win, you can knock yourself out. Pepper spray the college kids, beat up the Antifa losers, grope some hipster girls while you’re at it. Your big sweaty palms can’t always hold a gun, now can it.”

“I don’t believe you.” Magain says, all too suspicious of this degenerate rascal. “What do you really want.”

“Just to play a game with a worthy opponent, silly.” Maya protests. “What you see is what you get. One game and I’m out of here, I promise. It’s not like you can challenge me with guns as I’ll easily turn your domestic army into bacon.”

Magian of course knows that what you see is never what you get but Maya has a point. Dueling is his only way out. He beckons an officer to fetch his deck and duel disk, as he is fond of dueling and even something of a champion himself, which the officer can do since the ring of fire Maya conjured died out by this point. They ready their duel disks, starting the game.

Maya: 8000 || Magian: 8000

MAYA’S TURN: “I Normal Summon Gambitpawn Archfiend and use its effect: I send a monster from my hand to the Graveyard to Special Summon Terrorking Archfiend from my Deck!” Two Archfiends, members of a famous class of powerful demons, appear. They vaguely resemble a pawn and a king in chess, with muscles and bones revealed as they lack skin. “And Archfiend Heiress kicks off since I just pitched her. I add an Archfiend card to my hand.

“Then, I activate Card of Safe Return. I get to draw a card whenever I resurrect one of my monsters. I’ll set two cards face down and end my turn.”

MAGIAN’S TURN: He cooks a plain in his head, then gloats, “Do you know how the rules work these days, my dear?”

Maya chuckles, and replies, “Of course. There currently exist five kinds of Extra Deck monsters: Fusion, Synchro, Xyz, Pendulum, and Link. You need to use Link monsters to summon more Extra Deck monsters. But there is another rule. You can summon monsters from your Extra Deck only once per turn.”              

Magian nods. “Correct. Often that means only one monster but there are exceptions, letting you summon many monsters from your Extra Deck within a single ‘action’. I can use Pendulum Scales to bring out many Pendulum Monsters. I can also do this…

“I activate Obedience Schooled to Special Summon 3 Beast monsters from my Deck.” And just like that three weak beasts: Elephun, Gallis the Star Beast, and The Wicked Worm Beast come into play. “Next, I activate Double Fusion! I pay 1000 Life Points to Fusion Summon twice. I fuse Elephun and Gallis to make Biparte Unicorn, then use it with my Worm Beast to Fusion Summon Triparte Unicorn!” (Magian LP 8000 → 7000)

Maya studies the unicorn, which is part horse, part lion, and part bird, made of three distinct colors, plotting her next move.

Magian orders, “Triparte Unicorn, tri-beam that ugly Terrorking!” And his monster launches its attack. Terrorking Archfiend does not take the hit; instead, his servant blocks the attack and perishes from the blow. “WHAT!?”

“I can get Gambitpawn to be destroyed instead of Terrorking.” Maya explains the dumbfounded police chief. “You won’t be turning triangles into squares this time.” (Maya LP 8000 → 7200)

“Maybe, but you cannot escape the law, not in games and not in real life. Triparte Unicorn lets me banish 3 Beast monsters from my Graveyard. Now, since I inflicted 800 damage, you must mill 8 cards.” Magian orders.

“Whatever.” Maya sighs, tossing her 8 cards to the Graveyard. “Putting Fiend or Zombie monsters in the Graveyard is a bad idea. They become ghosts with grudges. Here are two: Archfiend Heiress lets me add another Archfiend card to my hand while Archfiend of Gilfer weakens your magical pony.”

Magian can only watch as huge gargoyle rises from the grave to clasp unto his monster, weakening it. (Triparte Unicorn ATK 2800 → 2300) “The duel is far from over, terrorist. I set two cards facedown.”

And just before he ends his turn Maya activates her Trap Card. “I use Call of the Archfiend to discard a weak Fiend monster to Special Summon a stronger one from my Graveyard: Archfiend Emperor, the First Lord of Horror!” A giant devil in armor, easily topping twelve feet in height, rises from the shadows of the Graveyard below, and Maya draws an extra card. “Get ready! I’m just warming up and you’re about to see a mook horror show!”

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 2 – Gathering the Artifacts

Duel 2 – Gathering the Artifacts

“Any idiot can create melodrama; it’s using humor with tragedy that takes real skill.” Yifan nears the end of her conversation with Pegasus while finishing her dessert, an odd Mexican tortilla with chicken and chocolate in it. “Your comic mask makes you a layered and bittersweet character, not unlike chocolate mole enchiladas. There’s a certain richness in taste. Imagine having two eyes again and regaining depth perception, something like that but for your tongue.”   

Pegasus J. Crawford finds Yifan, with her sly backhanded flattery, most amusing. The CEO of Industrial Illusions and creator of the Yugioh card game finishes his meal in turn and remarks, “Why thank you! Though I prefer chocolate truffle tarts myself. I’m impressed with how you’re solving the new Millennium Puzzle so quickly – and by the way you’re frilly blue snakeskin dress is just gorgeous!”

“Thank you, sweetheart.” Yifan returns the compliment. “I prefer wearing white but deep blue is my favorite color. It does contrast nicely with your iconic red vest and long pale hair. Sometimes I find it hard to believe a man as astute in fashion as you are ever had a wife.”   

With luncheon finished, Seto Kaiba, severe as always and donning an impeccable white business suit, arrives to commence the business meeting. It is in Kaiba’s character to only suffer eating alone. “I’m afraid the old fuddy-duddy is about to end our fun with a tamakeri.” Pegasus says as he sadly kisses Yifan’s hand. “Good speaking to you.”

Kaiba snowballs the names and titles of some of the world’s most powerful people into a roll call, barking out their names in his usual no-nonsense attitude:
“Aleksandar Kepura, United States Secretary of Defense
Marion Martis, Chairman of Lockheed Martin
Ricardo Atenza, Archbishop of Sao Paulo
‘Anubisius’ Ahmed, CEO of Corral Petroleum Holdings
John Secmeton Walton, Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Pegasus J. Crawford, CEO of Industrial Illusions
Xiao Yifan, Director of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development”

Kaiba then introduces a new person to the congregation, Akutsu, the lead scientist in KaibaCorp’s Technology Research Department. It is about time as everyone by now became very bored with the roll call.

“Who wants to learn SCIENCE?” Akutsu, a tall gangly man with eccentric manners, begins the lecture with a bang, but everyone groans. He tethers a metal ball at the end of a rope and sets the pendulum into motion. “When the ball is up GRAVITY pulls it down and when the ball is down MOMENTUM pushes it back up. The reason the pendulum stops is because motion dissipates energy by converting kinetic energy to thermal energy while friction -“ The metal ball hits him hard, making him fall over, feet dangling in the air.

“Where are all the goofy cartoon sounds coming from?” Pegasus wonders out loud. “Even I find it trite.”

Akutsu gets back to his feet and produces a toy model of Robert Fludd’s water screw, then sets it to work. “In theory this should be a perpetual motion machine. WATER from a TANK turns a WHEEL, which turns a SCREW that brings water back to the tank, which turns the wheel again.” But sooner or later the machines stops as predicted, and Akutsu makes a sad trombone noise. “Energy dissipates through MOTION and FRICTION. The water is a source of energy that remains at a constant amount, so it cannot replace all the energy lost.”

“Get to the point.” Anubisius growls. “This is not a science show for children.”

Akutsu ignores him. “As long as a machine loses energy you need to replenish it with an outside source to make up for all the lost energy. But what if you can use QUANTUM MECHANICS to REDUCE FRICTION almost to zero to make a machine run almost completely on its own MOMENTUM?” And with a dramatic gesture he reveals a model of his invention, a small transparent cylinder with several rings glowing in a rainbow of lights revolving at breakneck speed.

“And people told me why try making a perpetual motion machine? Why bother? I’ll tell you what – oh yeah, because it’s cool! My invention, which I call MOOOOMENTUUUUM,” He now twirls a hula hoop. “Not only has near perfect efficiency, it even causes photons to TRAVEL BACK IN TIME and give additional energy FROM THE PAST! BOOM! SCIENCE!” He trips over his hoola hoop, falling flat on his face as usual.

Yifan leans over to look down on the silly man, admonishing him, “In other words it’s not really a perpetual motion machine, you carnival barker, just a very, very efficient one. It is the stuff utopian pipe dreams are made out of.”

Akutsu jumps right back up, lively as ever. As Kaiba is fond of saying, it is impossible to dampen the enthusiasm of an idiot. “With MOOOOMENTUUUUM the world will have a near limitless power source. Technology and urban development will develop rapidly and, who knows, we may one day travel to space and meet COOL ALIENS. But only a certain kind of energy can power my invention.”

Now Kaiba steps in for the climax, revealing seven golden talismans from Ancient Egypt. “Momentum can only use the Millennium Items as a power source. I even used Yifan’s help in reforging the Millennium Puzzle and Millennium Ring for this purpose. This is the nature of our deal.” He gestures to everyone in the room. “You funded my momentum project. Now you each get a Millennium Item and a momentum generator.” He hands everyone except Pegasus and Yifan a Millennium Item, trying not to touch the cretins he has to compromise with.

Secmeton, a kindly man with a full salt-and-pepper beard and blue uniform, looking like a kind of marine admiral, receives the Millennium Necklace. Anubisius, tall, muscular, imposing, receives the Millennium Key. Atenza, the thin and stringy Archbishop, is bequeathed the Millennium Ring. Martis, his suit drab as can be and his face unreadable, accepts the Millennium Scales. Kepura, obese and tall, with large fish lips and small squinting eyes as his most prominent features, takes the Millennium Eye for himself.

Kaiba lays claim to the Millennium Rod while Yifan clicks in the final piece of the Millennium Puzzle, completing it. When Pegasus, astonished, asks her how she managed to finish the puzzle in only a few months, she replies, “I’m not a teenage boy. And I’m sure Kaiba has a supercomputer that could assemble it in mere hours anyway.”

Yet Akutsu is not finished with his demonstration. “Wait! There is catch!” He reminds his audience. “MOOOOMENTUUUUM must always be kept running. It can never stop or change direction.” He blows up a large balloon. “IMAGINE my invention is this BALLOON and all the energy it generates is the AIR in the balloon. Now with lots of air the balloon is useful and you can do all sorts of COOL THINGS with it.” He twists the balloon into a poodle. “But if you suddenly release all the air,” He pops the balloon. “BOOOOOOOOM!” And he finishes his lecture by making a lot of silly exploding noises.        

“Enough!” Kaiba quickly shews the eccentric man off the premises. Already the businessmen in the conference begin to argue with each other.

Anubisius even threatens to walk out, feeling threatened himself of what Momentum would do to his oil business. “If you have any idea how often I buttplugged alternative energy research, you would call me Bugger in Cheif!” He bellows. “I funded your research, Mr. Kaiba, thinking I would be handsomely rewarded! But to be made master of Momentum, which wipes out generations of my family’s business – “

Secmeton gently puts his large warm hands over the other man’s shoulders, “No need to get your balls tied up. With Momentum and the Millennium Key, you will, in effect, control Saudi Arabia and God knows what else. Imagine how many power mongers like old Heishin would love to dominate the region but were not fit enough to do so. Nature has rewarded you the power you are rightfully fit to use. Your family, by forming an oil business, simply took advantage of the most efficient energy source at the time. You would be a fool not to step up your game and advance your family’s name.”

Anubisius listens to reason and sits back down. Yet other butts in the room remain irritated as their owners keep squirming on their chairs, jousting with their prides on the line. Atenza, inflated with self-importance, wants religious freedom abolished in Brazil while Martis, pragmatic as ever, points out how ludicrous the idea is. “The facade of liberal democracy must always be maintained.” He explains patiently.

“Kind of like filming a movie.” Yifan observes, speaking to Pegasus and you, the audience. “You must go to great lengths to keep the audience’s suspension of disbelief. In a play, the audience more easily, well, plays along.”

Pegasus agrees, lamenting, “In the past, it was much easier for kings and governors to keep their people in line. They didn’t have to lie as much. Nowadays, everyone thinks he is a free man, an enlightened consumer, living in a transparent society, protected by human rights. Keeping up such a charade can get tiring sometimes. Popcorn, Yifan?”

Yifan gladly takes the snack. “Yes, the idea of human rights. It is a dogma that cannot be questioned, not now at least. Otherwise it will bark at you loudly since it lives in a doghouse owned by a rich banker who keeps the seven trains running on time but the conductors are artifacts with rickets so sometimes they can’t go anywhere and a crocodile will eat them as it’s crocodiles all the way down and crocodiles make the world go round.”

Pegasus gives Yifan a worried smile. Meanwhile, Kepura and Kaiba escalate their debate. Kepura demands exclusive access to KaibaCorp’s research for the United States Army while Kaiba rebukes the idea. “I will not let my research become a weapon of war.” Kaiba spits venom at Kepura’s face. “Leave the United States out of it. I am not the man my stepfather was.”

Amused, Kepura can’t help himself but laugh, revealing his large pearly white teeth. “But you are the man your stepfather was. Never in any empire, the United States or otherwise, can you separate capital from military. The U.S. Department of Defense funded what would later be the Internet. Had Gozaburo Kaiba not developed weapons you would have no template to turn KaibaCorp into a gaming empire, now would you?”

“That does not matter!” Kaiba spits back. “It goes beyond our contract! You have no right!”  

“So I don’t.” Kepura admits in a glib manner, “But, as you most likely know, business goes beyond the contract. Once Momentum is up and running around the world – think! – would not the Japanese government become curious and get their hands on it? And once that happens, would not every major power in the world demand to have Momentum as a right?

“Unlike you, Gozaburo knew he was not king, not even of of his little corner of the world. He, like we all, are simply part of a big hive. He knew that if he refused to sell weapons to the United States he would miss the biggest deal he could. Other weapons manufacturers would get the deal, meaning bigger profits, meaning KaibaCorp would run out of business.”

Kaiba snaps, “Don’t need to explain basic business to me, you smug cretin! I gave you enough!”

“True.” Kepura admits again. “But you don’t seem to understand the ‘philosophy’ behind it all. We’re all prey to bigger impersonal forces beyond our control but here you are, like a small child, thinking you can single-handedly shape the future. Gozaburo knew that if he went against the forces of nature he would end up on knees, bent over, ready to receive a royal pounding from his rivals. Cross me enough times and I will, inevitably, force you on your knees, making you give to me what daddy couldn’t. Think of this meeting as a hazing ritual. Welcome to the wider world of geopolitics. You’re playing with the big boys. – Ooh! That makes a catchy song!”

Kaiba wishes he could deck Kepura in the face with his steel briefcase but knows it would be a suicidal to do so. Yes, Kaiba technically wins the argument and Kepura has no right to access KaibaCorp’s research but he will lose exclusive control of Momentum. There is nothing he can do about it.

It begs the question why Kaiba even bothers to waste his time with these jokers. He does so because he has a vision. Ever since he last faced Yugi, he worked tirelessly to upgrade a cloud server that could connect every duelist around the world. As of now he only had clumsy devices that linked up duelists to a virtual online world. But Momentum can change all that. It can bring the virtual online world here. Imagine how dueling would evolve with such a system! And he can use his profits to build more Kaibaland amusement parks for orphaned children, who always hold a soft spot in his heart as he and his younger brother were once orphans themselves.    

There is another issue on the table, pun intended. About a decade ago, Kaiba managed to travel across time and space into the afterlife to duel Atem, the spirit who possessed Yugi and was his true rival, one last time. The result was a draw. Kaiba can live with that, maybe. But now, with Momentum, he can explore all the dimensions the universe has to offer. The possibilities for humanity are endless! And it is for those possibilities that Kaiba willingly gambles not just his company but the future of humanity itself.    

As for the mundane present, Kaiba is done. He turns around to leave with a dramatic flair. “Let’s go, Mokuba!” He commands, only to realize his younger brother isn’t there. Force of habit.

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 1 – Setting the Stage

Duel 1 – Setting the Stage

“I sing of children’s card games, the dire fates that we humans
must duly face, and the nerds who think they’re warrior poets,
these so-called ‘duelists’, as they try to control the world’s future.
I’ve learned all kinds of unwisdoms, unlearned many secrets,
bringing knowledge from farther back than the life of our species,
partly from Yifan, partly from my time on this brown earth.
My parents made and have raised me as two-thirds fiery venom
and one-third loathing while, of course, not knowing what they were doing.
Can the mind of a small sad meme queen, ever so human
– Yifan, I mean – have a scheme so divine it out-trumps all the old gods?
Sour old notes aside, I bring strength, joyous and outrageous.
In both One Player Campaign and PvP Duel Arena
I will send every god to a rainbow of colorful deaths.”

Maya recites these lines she invented in good fun, or so she thinks, until Sofia claps her hands from the corner of the stage. Sofia praises Maya two ways at once, one sarcastic and the other genuine, and Maya reads both messages through Sofia’s body language. The older woman invites the younger to join her on center stage and the younger woman obliges.    

There Maya and Sofia stand, alone together, in the abandoned Fabian Theatre in Peterson, New Jersey with ghosts and the unborn for an audience. “The Fabian,” Maya Mis-Exposition explains to the audience. “Was a vaudeville theatre that later also did film screening in the early days of cinema.” Hence, she points to the old big screen behind her. “What did you think of my lines, Sofia?”

“It was kind of pretentious and douchey.” Sofia admits. “But I like all the little parodies you threw in it like it was a kind of parody fruit salad… all while making a mockery of dactylic hexameter, one of the most ancient and venerable poetic forms… That’s horrible! That’s like ruining a classic meal like Margherita Pizza by putting pineapple – no, worse, M&Ms or golden crust on it! – Wait, how does golden crust debase pizza? Doesn’t it make it rarer by making it ridiculously expensive? Ah! I’m losing track of my food metaphors! Why do you do this to me, Maya?”

“Food similes.” Maya corrects her student as she opens a laptop and connects it to a small projector. “First lesson: the sublime and silly are two sides of the same coin. This is the bread and butter of Yugioh. Anyway, we shall do nothing less than commence a revival festival for The Fabian Theatre, an audience for two. The first film of the programme? Riding The Golden Elevator, never before seen footage of the Pentagon getting on top of KaibaCorp at one of those backdoor corporate meatings we hear so much about.”

“Which would not be possible without me.” Sofia reminds her tutor, pointing at herself. “Jolene and I hacked the building’s cameras. Thanks to us, you’ll know everything KaibaCorp, the Pentagon, and other multibillion dollar institutions will be planning for the next several years, giving you the chance to plan your next move. You know, for your so-called endgame.”

Maya then points at you – yes, you! – the audience. “Pay attention. Two ‘seasons’ ago I had a vision, while I was buried under stones deep in an Egyptian tomb, that let me break the fourth wall. We are all simulations from a person’s programming or projections of information from the inside of a black hole often called a universe. Yet those programmers and black holes are themselves simulations from something else, and it goes on in a cycle forever and forever.

“For example, every Yugioh universe, or dimension, that has ever existed forms a multiverse created by a programme called the Numeron Code, which was itself created by a basement-dwelling brony incel nerd called Darius ‘Orochi’ O’Reilly who lives with your mother. Your universe, in turn, is a projection from inside the event horizon of a black hole, which is itself a program created by Xenu, and so on.      

“There exists four Yugioh dimensions that concern us the most. The first is the ‘manga dimension’, which features Dark Side of Dimensions, and continues with the ‘GX manga’, ‘5Ds manga’, and so on. There is an ‘anime dimension’ that does not have Dark Side of Dimensions, instead going straight to ‘GX anime’, which then splits into at least four separate dimensions because some chud named Zark gets real salty after losing to a girl.

“Our realm is the ‘manganime dimension’, which does feature Dark Side of Dimensions, and carries on to the present moment. The last dimension is the ‘dark dimension’ where Bakura, Zorc, Cody Martin, and a demon-possessed teddy bear succeed in destroying the world by singing Disney songs, replacing it with a realm of darkness.”

“You made up the Orochi and teddy bear stuff, didn’t you?” Sofia demands, incredulous.

Maya laughs ruefully before saying, “I’m afraid not. I saw it all in my vision, or stress-induced hallucination. Whatever you want to call it.”

With the fun and games over, Maya takes the time to confess to Sofia something very important. “Whether or not we know exactly what Kaiba, Yifan, or anyone else are planning at the moment, I know all the major events that will most likely happen. I don’t need a Millennium Item to see the future. I just see what is necessary for us, what we must do, the trials we must face if we are to conquer any of the demons in our way.” Sofia asks what is in the future and Maya tells her everything, leaving an awkward silence.

Maya finishes setting up the projector and dusting two front row seats. She beacons Sofia to sit by her and, when Sofia does, gives her a warm kiss on the cheek. “The curtains roll back. The show begins. Everything that happens from now on is for you.”


The Joyful Wisdom of Nietzsche – Fish and Chips

To Wu Shuhua, with immense love and gratitude.

——————————————————–

I took to wandering the beach one day, leaving behind my home and the lake of my home, and have walked beside the ocean ever since. Not too long ago, I came across an old crab with a crusty shell but gentle manners. He had an odd habit of wandering forward and backward, backward and forward along the coastline, a hermit on his own journey. We, ape and crab, said hello to each other. I hunted fish for us to eat and we conversed while eating lunch for it was noon.

Crab – I have seen many people wander the beach in my day; by chasing the endless coastline they came, they saw, they conquered every land in the world, but they never knew where they were going. Where are you going? Do you run on ahead? As a herdsman, an exception, or deserter? 

Ape – How can anyone fully answer questions this profound? I doubt even you can! I can only be as honest as possible in both my knowledge and ignorance. I once joined a band of rebels years ago in a fight to liberate our troupe from our chiefs, who are vicious, obese, ugly apes, so powerful yet so stupid they are burning our very forest to ashes. Yet the rebels care more for cutting open their chiefs in revenge than saving the forest herself and they only succeeded to disembowel each other. I deserted my comrades but with a heavy heart; a large question mark still hangs over the fate of the forest. 

Crab – You lack the heart for politics. You cannot be a true believer. This is true no matter what duties you think you owe to other apes or the forest. I live in the ocean where no fire can touch me. I travel in the deep past or in the far future but rarely stay in the present. But what of your present?

Ape – I would like to think of myself as an exception but I may just be part of a larger movement, which I fear cannot be avoided even by the cleverest of apes. I may just be part of a larger “progressive” movement within my troupe, where some outcast apes are gaining more acceptance and power among our chiefs while other outcasts are breaking away from the troupe to live on their own terms. You, hermit crab, were once an ape and are also part of a movement, a movement we call “existentialism”. But I don’t care about movements you may have inspired by accident – all movements of history are merely accidents – but about you.

Crab – But what about you? Are you genuine or only an actor? A representative or that itself which is represented? 

Ape – I can lie and make riddles when I feel I must but I am too ingenuous to act, for better and worse. I, my life and work, represent a war; my body is a battlefield where the muses and other spirits compete for various honors and duties. I am their work of art. My work of art is a dream of someone else’s dream, a ghost of a ghost, a metaphor of a metaphor. This truth applies to everyone. I don’t know any of these wily women well and I may never be able to do so. 

Crab – Ah, yes, Life is a woman! The organism is an organization, a society, after all. I notice your feet are heavy. You forgot to stretch this morning, or did you just now decide to go the gym? The more you write the more you practice running. One day your feet will grow wings and you will be able to dance well, but you must keep your eyes peeled. Do you look on? Or who sets to work? Or who looks away, turns aside?

Ape – I’ve been setting to work for years now but it made me absent minded. I didn’t look on enough because I did not believe there was much ahead. I did not believe I had a future in this world but slowly that is starting to change.   

Crab – Do you want to accompany or go on ahead or go off alone? One must know what one wants and that one wants.   

Ape – I want to go on ahead but no longer alone. I am tired of being alone. I need more friends. But I do have company with a woman I love. I would like us to travel together through life, accompanying each other, supporting each other. What do I want? I want to validate myself through my work. I want to be as powerful an artist as possible. I want to save the forest. I want a companion and friends. I want to love this world, this life, and all her people. I want so many things, so very many things. 

Crab – It is good to sprint but don’t forget to eat well, sleep well, and organize your day well. Don’t trip on a pebble and fall flat on your face. You are young and impatient. You should focus more on growth and the journey itself than on the goals and perfection. Even at the age of thirty one is a total novice in regards to high culture and the most important questions, the greatest of life’s riddles [1]. Take my example; I embarrassed myself by following an actor and a saint by the heel, like a little poodle, only to turn on them.  

Ape – What about all the questions you asked me [2]? How do they apply to you? It is now your turn in the hot pot.

Crab – I was once a deserter, now an exception, but I became a herdsman to some, which I loathe – I would rather be a buffoon. I represent life, or rather does she represent me? I look on and set to work but, alas, sometimes I have poor eyes. I go on ahead and go off alone. The beach is my desert, my forty days into the wilderness. You will not be able to cook me for dinner. My shell is too hard.

Ape – We’ll see about that. Be careful. I may one day fly past you.

And so ape and crab parted. The crab returned to the waves while I walked on ahead. 

Works Cited:

  1. Nietzsche, Friedrich. Twilight of the Idols/The Anti-Christ. Translated by R. J. Hollingdale. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971, 75.  
  2. Ibid, 36-37.

The Calendar Reinvented

analemma-sun-figure-eight-trip-in-the-sky-25

The year will be divided into 13 months of 28 days, since 13 almost perfectly divides 365, leaving only 1 day as the remainder (2 days for leap years). Only the 13th month is the exception, with 29 days (3o days during leap years). In the pagan year, the sun “dies” around the winter solstice, then is “reborn” about 3 days later. Let the old year end on December 21 and the new year begin on December 22. The sun’s “yearly journey” now mirrors its “daily journey”.

winter solstice = midnight, 12am
spring equinox = sunrise, 6am
summer solstice = noon, 12pm
fall equinox = sunset, or 6pm

I will rename months in the spirit of the old Germanic Calendar. We switch from the Gregorian Calendar to the Solunar Calendar. The new calendar is named after the sun and the moon as the solar year blends almost seamlessly into thirteen lunar months. Hence “Solar” and “Lunar” become “Solunar”.

Wintermonth = December 22 – January 18
Gathermonth = January 19 – February 15
Drymonth = February 16 – March 15
Springmonth = March 16 – April 12
Grassmonth = April 13 – May 10
Pasturemonth = May 11 – June 7
Summermonth = June 8 – July 5
Haymonth = July 6 – August 2
Harvestmonth = August 3 – August 30
Fallmonth = August 31 – September 27
Vintagemonth = September 28 – October 25
Bloodmonth = October 26 – November 22
Darkmonth = November 23 – December 21

No longer will we divide history from a single crux, the birth of Christ. Rather, we will divide history into ages of roughly 2000 years.

Historic Age = 13 billion b.c. – 10,000 b.c.
Stone Age = 10,000 b.c. – 8,000 b.c.
Farm Age = 8,000 b.c. – 6,000 b.c.
City Age = 6,000 b.c. – 4,000 b.c.
Bronze Age = 4,000 b.c. – 2,000 b.c.
Iron Age = 2,000 b.c. – 0 a.d.
Global Age = 0 a.d. – 2,000 a.d.
Star Age = 2,000 a.d. – 4,000 a.d.
Galaxy Age = 4,000 a.d. – 6,000 a.d.
Heaven Age = 6,000 a.d. – 8,000 a.d.
Horizon Age = 8,000 a.d. – 10,000 a.d.

Examples of dates:
Ramses II crowned king:
22 October 1279 BC
25 Vintagemonth 721 IA

Alexander defeats Darius III:
1 October 331 BC
4 Vintagemonth 1669 IA

Caesar murdered:
15 March 44 BC
28 Drymonth 1956 IA

Luther posts the 95 theses:
31 October 1517 AD
6 Bloodmonth 1517 GA

Beethoven performs the Eroica:
7 April 1805 AD
23 Springmonth 1805 IA

Darwin publishes The Origin of Species:
24 November 1859 AD
2 Darkmonth 1859 GA

Human genome mapped:
14 April 2003 AD
2 Grassmonth 3 SA

Chomsky Foucault Debate – Review

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Two titans, King Kong Chomsky and Fallout Foucault, met in the Netherlands on November 1971 to battle to the bitter end. It was the clash of the century; the analytic philosopher against the continental philosopher, the two schools of modern leftist thought went to war. A mighty crowd gathered to watch the two gladiators fight to the death and…

Nothing really happened. I’m surprised people even talk of Chomsky and Foucault as debating each other. It looked to me more like two pretentious hipsters discussing philosophy at a Starbucks. – I mean, Cafe Harwich. Starbucks is for noobs. We’re dealing with level 80 warlocks here. – It was as if a being from Mars and a being from Venus met each other. They get along great and agree on many things, but sometimes they simply don’t see eye to eye.

THE BASICS
Chomsky and Foucault have different methods of approaching things. Chomsky is what snobs call an analytic philosopher, like a classic Enlightenment man is science. He approaches problems with a strong bent on reason and the scientific method, in essence an optimist un believing people can solve even the most difficult problems if they are persistent and principled. enough. He is somewhat dry and boring in his work but he is the practical man you can count on to do the political work.

Foucault, in contrast, is what eggheads call a continental philosopher. He belongs to a large continent of thinkers who come from diverse schools of thought, from Theodore Adorno to Simone de Beauvoir. But they all have some things in common: they focus on critiquing the issues of the 20th century in ways they feel the thinkers of the Enlightenment have not yet considered. Most were deeply inspired by Nietzsche, like Foucault himself, and expanded on Nietzsche’s thoughts to fight their battles.

Chomsky and Foucault assume a unique relationship in their debate. They are not opponents. Chomsky is like the scientist who, after decades of careful tedious research, has refined his body of work into several relatively solid theories. Foucault is like the skeptical philosopher who is not too certain about what science exactly is. They collide head on, nor do they try to refute each other, but build on what the other person said, despite their differences.

HUMAN NATURE?
You can split the debate into two halves: one on human nature, the other on leftist politics. Chomsky basically says some kind of human nature exists, since children construct language within certain limits no matter what culture they are from [1]. Chomsky thinks science helps us progress in knowledge and build better societies. The progress we make is far from simple and linear; we walk on a winding road in a dark forest but we are getting somewhere [2].

Foucault thinks a people’s culture and power relations play a much bigger role in determining what “human nature” even means. Before the eighteenth century, people had no real sense of “human nature”. They imagined a vast hierarchy with minerals at the bottom, then plants, animals, women, men, and scholarly man at the top. They never considered plants and animals to even have a “nature” that could be compared to humans. Only with the advent of modern science, when people compared humans to other animals like they were similar things, did they did they conceive of a “human nature” [3].

As for science, Foucault points out that as we develop new theories and methods in the sciences, some worldviews, or perceptions, die off, and therefore become shut from us, while we develop other worldview. The alchemist’s mystical experiences of the world, of human nature, and sense of occult divine order in creation, are cut off from us. We don’t explore that line of reasoning anymore [4].

And how does Chomsky respond? Well, bringing up our different worldviews throughout history is a sound critique, but it doesn’t disprove anything. No matter where you travel in time or what you believe, humans will always have certain basic traits and act in certain basic ways. We will always be bound by certain severe limits. Even a Martian, if she visited earth, would see us behave in predictable ways, similar to how we observe other animals behaving in predictable ways [5].

To get really basic, we eat, have sex to continue the species, and die of natural causes around seventy. We also have a huge blind spot in the center of our vision. To get more advanced, our brains are made in specific ways: we are terrible at math and logical reasoning but are very good at association. We easily remember hundreds of human faces while a computer struggles to tell a human face from an electric socket.

We separate people into “us” groups and “them” groups out of habit, even for things as trivial and meaningless as skin color and zodiac signs. We are extremely biased in favor of “us” and against “them”. And as Chomsky stated, the way we learn language and therefore even the way we think is limited in certain ways.

Chomsky says some harsh words about behaviorists, or people who tend to wave human nature aside as something that just comes from the environment. Behaviorists have no real theory of their own but say “the environment” as a cop out for any theory that suggests some kind of human nature. Chomsky thinks this is bad for scientists since it impedes their studies [6].

POLITICS?
When it comes to politics, Chomsky stands on more shaky ground. This does not surprise me, as every philosopher with a system will have problems putting it into practice. It is David Hume’s old problem; you can’t cross the bridge from “is” to “ought”.

Chomsky speaks of how, one day, we could organize anarchist societies made of equal mutual factions that balance each other out. This runs into a problem, as anarchists since William Godwin have been thinking of how a society with no fork of oppression could exist, but none of them put such a society in practice.

But in Chomsky’s defense, Chomsky says it is important to think about ways people can live with each other without a state, even if the ideas are imperfect. Capitalism is exploitative and dehumanizing; it cannot be justified. We have to try better, to make a world where human living and working are more meaningful [7]. Like a scientist, an activist has to draft different theories and put them into practice, and learn from experience. There is no way around trial and error, but “playing it safe” by refusing to change anything is a danger in itself [8].

Chomsky moves on to justice versus the law, saying it is morally right to break a law if the law is unjust and you are pursuing a higher justice. This begs the question of how one figures out what is more just than something else, and Foucault points this out. Ever since Nietzsche, no one really knows what a moral is, or how you could defend a moral as somehow being valid, something you can fight and die for [9].

What exactly is justice? To Foucault, it means different things to different classes of people. But it is the ruling class that has the power to turn it’s wants and values into law. The ruler’s morals become the morals of the state in general, and this is what creates justice. It’s your sense of morals combined with your power to enforce them, directly or through the law. You can even see this political process in institutions such as education and psychiatry [10].

Even the proletariat, a class of people Marxist advocate for, got their moral ideals from their bourgeois rulers. It is good for a man to be educated, productive, free thinking, and having the freedom to choose, as opposed to being a cog in the capitalist machine. But having a high education, being productive, being a free thinker, and having personal freedom are all bourgeois values [11].

Chomsky has a nuanced take on international law. Clearly, international law was created by the most powerful businessmen, politicians, and military leaders of the world, and they designed the law to serve them first. But the laws themselves can be positive, and activists can adopt the ideas behind them to try to make a better world. Chomsky brings up the Nuremberg Trials, how world leaders used the lessons they learned from the Trials to improve international law [12].

WRAP UP
Two little professors live inside me, Continental Bogdan and Analytical Bogdan. Continental Bogdan is so skeptical of everything he thinks every part of human life is a mental construct, and therefore not truly real. All he knows is that he knows nothing else. Analytical Bogdan mostly agrees but is more practical. Yes, our thoughts and values will always be made-up. So? Some actions help us, others hurt us. Some things work, some things don’t, and we have lots of work to do.

Chomsky and Foucault believe in a similar kind of activism. The activist must challenge unjust power structures, and the pervasive assumptions that let them exist, wherever she can find them, and take them apart. Politics and philosophy are very closely tied together, as both men know very well. Foucault says in the debate, “How can I not be interested in politics? Everything is somehow political and relevant to me.” The best way to leave the debate is to ask ourselves, “What do we do now.”

Citations:
1. Chomsky, Noam, and Michel Foucault. The Chomsky-Foucault Debate on Human Nature. New York, London: The New Press, 2006. 3-4.
2. Ibid. 36.
3. Ibid. 6-7.
4. Ibid. 18.
5. Ibid. 23-24.
6. Ibid. 34-35.
7. Ibid. 38.
8. Ibid. 45.
9. Ibid. 46-47.
10. Ibid. 40
11. Ibid. 43-44
12. Ibid. 48-49

Human, All Too Human – Review

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In Human, All Too Human, Nietzsche continues his quest to remap the human world. Like in Daybreak, he studies humans through psychology and arrives to naturalistic conclusions, but creates a more defined worldview of sorts. Human, All Too Human was published before Daybreak, believe it or not, but it looks more put together than its counterpart. Nietzsche may have wanted to pose the problems he observed first, then searched for answers.

We could rename Human, All Too Human as “Human Limits” or “Catch 22”; such are the biggest ideas of the whole book. We are odd and somewhat befuddled apes, very proud of our sapience, yet we can never breach certain walls. And do not even mention metaphysics – for shame! – our greatest error throughout history. Has another animal on Earth ever been as wrong as we are? Nietzsche is an optimist, but a savvy one. He demands we do nothing less than overcome our human nature, a feat for a superhuman, an Ubermensch.

Walls
Language is a wall that separates humans from the world. Language, a skill almost to unique to us and our hominid ancestors, helped us master the world but cut us off from it. As we developed language, we created a separate world of abstract concepts. Words and numbers are symbols that represent ideas, but ideas are not real. Logic itself is a language game. You can observe the height of a redwood tree but you cannot observe 360 feet. Two bubbles exist, one of symbols and the ideas they represent, the other the real world. We live in the first bubble.

If you want to go to an extreme, recall David Hume’s famous argument. Your brain detects electromagnetic waves from the eyes, pressure from the hands, and chemicals from the tongue, then it interprets it as a kind of information, then uses the information to recall a concept. At last, you understand you ate a delicious red apple. But eating forbidden fruit comes at the price of knowledge. The apple does not exist; it is just an idea in your head. You do not exist either.        

To be specific, Nietzsche claims we invented language as a way to gain leverage over an immense scary world we did not understand. Over time, we bought into the hype and presumed mere ideas and names as eternal truths, “faith in ascertained truth” [1]. We invented magic and gods for a similar reason, to gain some control of the world. If spirits sapient like we cause stones to fall or rivers to flood, we can haggle, cajole, or beg them to get what we want [2]. What is magic but symbols we manipulate to create reality?

Ah, Truth, that strange creature we chase after. But she is a very different species than we are. An ape and an idea as subtle as Truth cannot see eye to eye. We evolved in the African savannah, after a great drought destroyed the lust Eden of forests, during a time of great starvation. We evolved eyes with huge blind spots to see the cave lion before she devours us, not to see quantum fields. We evolved a fragile brain that judges in haste and fears the unknown, not a brain that puts bias aside to reason clearly.

The things we call our “worldview” and “personality” are both founded on errors. We formed a worldview because we had to satisfy our needs, passions, and desires. We did so since a young age by absorbing a limited amount of facts we needed and turning them into ideas we needed; all that without accounting for an entire society of people who indoctrinated us so we could function. Our personalities are formed from traumas and hardships, which cause us to form habits as a way of coping and build a wall called the ego to separate us from other people.

Worse yet, we need to hold on to values to have a fulfilling life, yet values make us biased by their nature. We tend to twist facts into a narrative, like we often do when studying history, to justify our values. We value the life of our species and assume that life progresses in a meaningful way by default, but does it? We left Africa to travel the world by following the coastline, walking along an endless beach. We have not changed much. We still walk the same beach, always searching. Because of our nature as living creatures, “human life is deeply involved in UNTRUTH.” [3] A wall separates truth from value.     

And what of science? Does she not help us see the world in an objective way? Yes, but she can only help us as an equal. She cannot give us the truth on a plate. Nietzsche states science has no goals, not a value but a method. People who think science has any inherent value or purpose are wrong. We sometimes use science only to discover a truth, but more often we use science to achieve a certain purpose, and even holding the truth a good thing worth discovering is a value.

Science has indeed improved our quality of life, and promoted the welfare of humanity, but she never intended it [4]. We created the scientific method from Enlightenment values, while looking at the world in a more methodical and skeptical way created Enlightenment values. Side by side, we have walked with science along the beach for the last 400 years or so. There is a lot of serendipity in all this.

Nietzsche even muses if it is better for humans to be ignorant and happy of human nature. What is the point of gaining some limited insight if you are miserable? If you do good works and do not think too hard about mysteries that will never be solved, than the welfare of human society is promoted [5]. We reach another wall, another dead end, with science on one side and human happiness on the other.

Effect and Cause
Let us turn to metaphysics, the proud domain of the philosophers. Nietzsche is consistent in his statement; metaphysics is an error of reason. We mixed up cause and effect. Observe a basic error in the tradition. The philosopher looks at the human right now, living in a specific time and place, forged by so many of the different political, religious, and economic factors of the moment, and says, “This is human nature”. As an eternal fact, as if the human never evolves like other animals do [6]. The philosopher saw a cause, the human of today and her society, and traced it to an effect, “human nature”.  

Nietzsche, true to form, attacks morals in a similar way. Like in Daybreak, Nietzsche argues that a group of people would adopt certain practices because they were useful and pleasing to the. A Practice turns to habit. Passed through generations, it becomes a tradition, and finally a moral command. A person can even grow to like an unpleasant practice over time [89]. The philosopher looks back on this history and says, “Follow these moral maxims. Then you will do good service to the community and lead a happy fulfilling life.”   

If we turn to metaphysics, we will see more clearly how it is an error of reason, and tie the Gordian knot. How did we first come up with metaphysics, and everything that comes with it? Nietzsche gives a strange answer, indulging in speculative history as usual: dreams. When we first dreamed, long ago in the dark past, we visited a second substantial world, or so we thought [7]. From there we dreamt up a world beyond this world, something every religious person believes in. And what does the philosopher say? That the gods from the higher world visit us when we sleep, causing us to dream.          

Homo Sapiens?
There is a fundamental problem, which relates to walls and metaphysics. We have projected our human needs, passions, fears, and prejudices unto the world for a very long time. We built up a mass of fancies and errors over the past thousands of years. Yet those errors made us a sensitive and profound animal, especially the errors that inspired the great creative feats in the arts. Our history, our tradition, however wrong and terrible it is, gives us dear treasures. “Whatever is worth of our humanity rests on it.”, Nietzsche says [8].

As we slowly, painfully improve on our faculties of reason and methods in science, we will rid ourselves of old bad habits, little by little. But we should take care to carefully discriminate what is good and preserve it. I guess Nietzsche despised many socialists and atheists of his day because they tried to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

You get smug atheists who hit you over the head with crude materialistic philosophies while preaching a shallow form of humanist philosophy. Ironically, many hold on to Christian values and, while claiming to be skeptics, are as credulous as the fools who give money to televangelists. You get depressed socialists who rightly critique many of the evils in tradition, capitalism, and religion, but either cannot fully reject them or replace them with new “higher values”. Maybe you must have delusions to truly believe in “higher values” at all, and pessimism cannot be helped.

Nietzsche would instead like to see a larger “movement” where people become more self aware, more aware of our subconscious biases, our indoctrination, our bad human habits, and our hidden thoughts, especially the unsavory parts of us hidden from our knowledge. And science can help us laugh at ourselves, to give us “a sort of mistrust of this species and its seriousness” [9].        

Are we in are going under difficult changes, describing us as having birthing pains. Nietzsche even describes us like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. The truth is painful but the truth will set us free. When we get a new habit of understanding, we will take a new view, looking from above, and will attain a new wisdom and consciousness of guiltlessness [10]. Perhaps we needed to make so many errors to reach this state to evolve in the first place. Were our errors necessary for us to take a higher step?        

Citations:
1.Nietzsche, Friedrich. Human, All Too Human. Middletown, DE: Wildside Press, June 23 2018. 26-27.
2. Ibid. 106-107
3. Ibid. 50.
4. Ibid. 57
5. Ibid. 54-55
6. Ibid. 20
7. Ibid. 28-30
8. Ibid. 33-34
9. Ibid. 56
10. Ibid. 99-100

Yugioh Duelists of the Roses Decks (No Cheats)

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I can’t leave well enough alone, as usual. I keep tinkering with my Decks, trying to make the most powerful low cost Decks that I can. I consider a Deck low cost when it’s cost is 757 or below. I want to face any opponent in the game without having to change my Deck, ever.

AUTUMN LEAVES
Deck Master:
Queen of Autumn Leaves
(powers up Plants, extended range, spellbinds Dragons, destroys Rocks)

Deck Cost:
754

Monsters:
3x Laughing Flower
3x Arlownay
3x Green Phantom King
3x Magician of Faith
3x Dark Plant
2x Nekogal #1
2x Invader From Another Dimension

Normal Spells:
3x Forest
3x Tremendous Fire

Equip Spells:
3x Vile Germs
3x Cyber Shield
3x Electro Whip

Traps:
3x Mesmeric Control
3x Tears of the Mermaid

AUTUMN LEAVES is possibly the best Deck because it can churn out the most powerful monsters the most quickly. The Deck centers on bringing out Queen of Autumn Leaves, Rose Specter of Dunn, and Nekogal #2, and powering them up with as many Equip Spells as possible. I used to use Rain of Mercy but I took it out because it was too slow and made the Deck less consistent.

Yet none of my monsters is merely fusion fodder. Each has its own use. Laughing Flower controls enemy monsters. Green Phantom King powers up his Queen. Dark Plant makes crush terrain when destroyed. Arlownay, Nekogal #2, and Invader From Another Dimension have decent stats in crush terrain. Magician of Faith revives the wonderful Tremendous Fire; I could inflict 6000 direct damage in theory.

The Equip Spells power up Plant and female monsters, meaning the best monsters I create. Mesmeric Control and Tears of the Mermaid are low cost Traps but still strong. They’re cheap but they really do their job.  

PUMPKING PATCH
Deck Master:
Pumpking, the King of Ghosts
(powers up Zombies, extended range)

Deck Cost:
757

Monsters:
3x Dragon Zombie
3x Shadow Ghoul
3x Armored Zombie
3x Mammoth Graveyard
3x Wood Remains
3x Rainbow Flower
3x Griggle
3x Magician of Faith
3x Dark Plant

Normal Spells:
3x Wasteland
3x Tremendous Fire

Equip Spells:
3x Violet Crystal

Traps:
2x Mesmeric Control
2x Tears of the Mermaid

PUMPKING PATCH centers on bringing out Pumpking and Great Mammoth of Goldfine, so I have a lot of Plant fodder and Mammoth Graveyard to go with the Zombies. I use only 3 Equip Spells, so I use Pumpking to power up my monsters instead. I like to take my time when playing with this Deck, letting the Zombies grow to their greatest potential. In theory, I can get my monsters to 9999 ATK and DEF, the maximum, but that takes too much time.

WARRIOR’S VENGEANCE
Deck Master:
Swordstalker
(full graveyard slot coverage)

Deck Cost:
755

Monsters:
3x Swordstalker
3x Curtain of the Dark Ones
3x Time Wizard
3x Ancient Jar
3x Magician of Faith
3x Kuriboh
3x Dancing Elf
3x Dark Plant
3x Swordsman From a Foreign Land
2x Wicked Dragon With the Ersatz Head
2x Petit Dragon

Normal Spells:
3x Tremendous Fire

Traps:
2x Spellbinding Circle
2x Shadow Spell
2x Mesmeric Control

WARRIOR’S VENGEANCE is the hardest of the three Decks to play, but also the funnest. I like using the most fodder monsters as possible to make strong fusions, which puts more monsters in my Graveyard, which powers up Swordstalker. I can easily get Sworstalker to exceed 3000 ATK and during long duels it is not uncommon for the vengeful warrior to reach 5000 ATK.

The strongest fusions are Thousand Dragon, Mystical Sand, Stone Dragon, Rose Specter of Dunn, and Dark Elf. They can hold out against most enemy monsters since they equal or breach 2000 ATK; no mean feat. The other fusions Bean Soldier, Celtic Guardian, Dragoness, and Mystical Elf are strong in crush terrain.  

Most of the fodder monsters have their own uses. Curtain spellbinds enemy monsters. Time Wizard transforms a weaker Dragon on the field to Thousand Dragon. Ancient Jar locks spellbound monsters in an eternal prison. Magician of Faith lets me reuse Tremendous Fire. Kuriboh makes a good scout. Dark Plant makes crush terrain. Swordsman destroys the monster that kills it.

Yugioh Forbidden Memories Decks (No Cheats)

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Hopefully I will never have to write another blog about Forbidden Memories. But I can’t help it. I keep tinkering with my Deck and can’t leave well enough alone. I came up with two decks, the very limits of what I can achieve in Forbidden Memories without cheats.

DARK DRAGONS
Monsters:
3x Meteor B. Dragon
3x Blue-Eyes White Dragon
3x Metalzoa
3x Twin-Headed Thunder Dragon
3x Skull Knight
3x Zoa

Equip Spells:
3x Megamorph
3x Bright Castle
3x Dragon’s Treasure
3x Dark Energy
3x Malevolent Nuzzler
2x Violet Crystal
2x Beast Fangs

Normal Spells:
3x Raigeki

Maybe the superior deck, DARK DRAGONS consists of the most powerful Dragons and DARK monsters in the game. Meteor B. Dragon, Blue-Eyes, and Twin-Headed are the Dragons while Metalzoa, Skull Knight, and Zoa are the DARK monsters. The idea is to make both groups of monsters as powerful as I can while also using their Guardian Stars to my advantage. The Sun helps Meteor B. Dragon and Blue-Eyes defeat Gate Guardian. Mercury helps Skull Knight and Zoa defeat Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon.  

Adding the right Equip Spells to make both groups equally effective was tricky business. Otherwise, the Deck would be inconsistent. I found Dark Energy and Beast Fangs very helpful because they equip to both my DARK monsters and Twin-Headed, one of the Dragons. They help bridge the gulf between two classes of monsters that are otherwise enemies.     

THUNDER DRAGONS
Monsters:
3x Meteor B. Dragon
3x Blue-Eyes White Dragon
3x Twin-Headed Thunder Dragon
3x Sanga of the Thunder
3x Red-Eyes Black Dragon
3x Meteor Dragon

Equip Spells:
3x Megamorph
3x Bright Castle
3x Dragon’s Treasure
3x Salamandra
3x Invigoration
2x Beast Fangs
2x Dark Energy

Normal Spells:
3x Raigeki

THUNDER DRAGONS builds around Meteor B. Dragon and Twin-Headed Thunder Dragon, so we use Equip Spells like Salamandra and Invigoration to further boost their power. While this Deck has greater potential power than DARK DRAGONS, it is harder to use because you must fuse weaker monsters together most of the time. This makes it less consistent, ironically enough.

Both Decks are adequate enough. I can beat Seto 3rd and Nitemare more than 20 times in a row, and I can overcome Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon most of the time. Ra-Amun knows how much I hate that monster, but beating it will always need effort without cheats.  

Daybreak – Review

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Daybreak is Nietzsche’s first “real” book, where Nietzsche settles on a unique style of writing. He no longer writes essays, ordering his thoughts on a line, but peppers the whole book with aphorisms. It may frustrate the reader who is new to Nietzsche since he won’t find any main thesis. Instead, Nietzsche puts together his ideas into a web, helping you connect more ideas together to create a range of thought with more dimensions.

Yet there is a main spirit in Daybreak. Nietzsche explores human moral life in new ways; he opts out old ideas of the soul, free will, and categorical imperatives for naturalistic explanations of the body, climate, diet, and the instincts. He does not show any crude materialism, as you might think, but deals with subtle and spiritual things. The human species is dynamic, constantly changing throughout the ages, as does all nature. Nietzsche rejects the dichotomy between “matter” and “spirit” present since at least Plato’s time; instead, the “lower” world of the body and the land creates the “higher” world of the mind, art, and culture.   

But what is most important is this; Nietzsche wishes to open a new chapter in human history by “reevaluating all values” as he might later put it, and he takes his first steps in Daybreak. Nietzsche is no nihilist; if anything, he is excited and hopeful. He goes on a new adventure and invites you to join him. I certainly had fun reading Daybreak, though it was a hard book to read, because I learned many new ways of looking at the world.

Moral History
Nietzsche spins a yarn of human history to explore how morals came about. Nietzsche is fond of writing this kind of speculative history, where he writes a fairy tale of sorts to describe some deeper process unfolding through the ages. He did in the tale of Greek Tragedy and he will do it again in the tale of Master and Slave morals. I am not fond of this kind of history, and maybe you are not either, but remember! Ancient humans told their history in myths and parables, and judging by Nietzsche’s approach, we still think of our history this way, whether we like it or not.

Nietzsche posits that primitive humans developed habits and customs depending on the best way to live off the land. Morals came about in this way. We may roll our eyes; such a theory is typical today, but Nietzsche takes us through a few twists and turns. There is more to this story, since morals greatly evolved alongside the humans they came from.

Early humans based their morals on community and tradition – what everybody else did before them – and anyone who rejected that tradition was evil. Then, something radical happened: Socrates and Christianity. Socrates determined morals by using logic and a set of universal principles meant to improve the individual. If a custom or tradition was wrong – well, it was wrong, no matter how sacred. Early Christians jettisoned the old Roman and Jewish traditions of their ancestors. Instead, they devoted their time to saving their souls [1].

Ancient Athens condemned Socrates a corrupter of youth and the Ancient Romans saw the early Christians as evil. I find it ironic how, two thousand years later, Christians base so much of their morals on communities and traditions that have little to the with Gospel. And now they condemn rebels as evil, as they were once rebels themselves. American conservative Christians are easy to pick on; their morals come from a sense of national identity that often has a deep racial history. Using the Bible to condemn abortion or gay marriage is the afterthought.  

Well, what about life today? Nietzsche takes several issues with modern morals. In general, he seems to regard them as stale and causing a malaise in the mind of Europe’s people. Yes, you can easily point to how Nietzsche blames Christianity for giving us a “bad conscience”, which he does. But he describes how great Christians developed more subtle and profound morals. For example, the French thinkers of the Enlightenment refined their character, thought, and manners to create a sublime culture [2].

Spirit From Matter
Sigmund Freud was famous for describing how human thoughts and actions, even our loftiest aspects, come from a dark subconscious world of primitive passions. He was not the first. Nietzsche did it before Freud and Schopenhauer did it before Nietzsche. The word (or leitmotif) Nietzsche uses throughout the book is arriere pensee, or hidden thoughts. Even beyond our instincts, our volition determines what we think and see, and just as important, what we do not think and see [3]. We do not really know what we want.

His most striking writings concern kindness, self sacrifice, and human rights. At first, great nobles feigned kindness and honesty as a tactic; it gave them more safety and increased their power by gaining allies. Yet over time, hypocrisy slowly transformed into genuine kindness [4]. On the other end, a disciple who eagerly immolates and sacrifices himself for his god is far from humble. He gains a euphoric feeling of power and becomes exalted by being associated with his god [5]. The ideas of duty and rights we revere today were created when people of greater power and rank formed a relationship with people of lesser power [6].

Nietzsche diagnoses the illness of the soul much like a doctor diagnoses an illness of the body. He examines a person to find cancerous thoughts and emotions lurking beneath the reasoned arguments, and beyond that, Nietzsche traces the cancer’s origin in the body and environment. And much like a doctor, Nietzsche advises small steady doses for even the worst of illnesses; a change in diet, habit, and exercise [7].  

If we have illnesses, and most of us do, fear not. Nietzsche rejects the belief in a soul, and with it the belief that people are “complete and perfect facts”, that we have one essential thing that defines us and that we can never change. Instead, Nietzsche describes our minds like gardens, full of different kinds of growing plants. We have some control as gardeners, and we are even responsible in cultivating our feelings and impulses. And we must change, as a snake sheds its skin. If we do not grow and learn new things, if we do not change our minds, we cease to have minds [8].

In general, we have some grasp of our different powers: our talents, our skills, our knowledge, our health, and so on. But we do not know our full capabilities. Our environment is so important, Nietzsche says, because it can conceal, weaken, or develop out powers. Nietzsche urges us to study our environment very carefully, which includes everything I mentioned above from circumstances to the land to diet, so we can cultivate our powers to reach the greatest possible heights [9].

What is Feminine
Nietzsche has relations with women and the female gender role that are – complicated. The stereotypical Nietzsche fan is quick to shun women and all that is feminine, but Nietzsche thinks differently. As early humans became more “feminine”, such as becoming more beautiful, frail, timid, sensitive, and discerning, they also became more intelligent and civilized [10].

I find Nietzsche very striking at this point because he subverts assumptions we hold to this day. Even now, we see building civilization as something “masculine”, a task accomplished by Mr. Fix-It and Bob the Builder. We imagine the beginning of civilization as a big manly thing, where a king whips slaves into building a monument. Even liberal minded people, who do not like to put men above women, assume men rule over culture and women rule over nature. But Nietzsche paints a different and more arresting picture.

And Nietzsche even questions gender itself in the first page, describing it as transient as morals. I paraphrase; when we gave a sex to all things, we thought not we were playing but believed we gained a profound insight. Only later did we admit, just a bit, that we made a huge error. We gave a moral character to everything in the world in the same way. One day, declaring something good or evil will be as relevant as describing the sun as male or female [11].

Our Limits
Late in Daybreak, Nietzsche arrives at the end of the world. He reaches the limits of human intellect and even of truth itself. These ideas are difficult for us to hear, since our advancing science and technology tends to make us optimists. Indeed, we assume no knowledge is beyond us. Sooner or later, if only we try hard enough, our leading physicists will discover the Theory of Everything and we will find a way to travel faster than light. But our limits to knowledge are deeper than whether we can make spaceships. Humankind has a limit.

Language itself is a problem. It helps us create all sorts of new ideas, yes, but words box our thoughts into the discreet concepts. Our thinking only goes as far as our language lets us. And when we do discover something, when we wish to expand our language, we have to deal with all the old state concepts our language has, concepts that prevent us from thinking in new ways [12]. What is logic but a word game? Is truth itself just a word?

As much as we think we like science, we have a problematic relation to it, and it has a lot to do with old habits in how we think of ourselves. Long ago, we assumed ourselves to be the highest creature on earth; nature’s final goal was to create us. We assumed nature existed to serve us and all the knowledge we could find would only benefit us. To this day, we seek answers with science to solve our many problems from global warming to why we feel depressed. But science does not care about how we feel or what we feel entitled to, and people resent science for that fact. Many people who claim to love science treat it lightly and would hate science if it ever saw through them [13].

Knowledge can also be dangerous and harmful to us. Learning something new is not always a good thing, as Oedipus shows us. Nietzsche expresses this idea most clearly in his famous Don Juan aphorism. What is our destiny, a people who put the pursuit of knowledge above everything else? We will seek all knowledge, no matter how trifling, until we become so bored we seek knowledge that will hurt us. We will yearn for “hell”, a final terrible answer, but we will not find it, and will forever be frustrated [14].  

How can we overcome our morals and limits in knowledge? Nietzsche has a couple of ideas, but we need to take small doses to get such a radical change in values. The change may be so slow we may not even realize it when we get there. There is no fast and easy way; “great revolutions” are a farce caused by malicious and impatient political invalids [15].  

Let us slowly supplant moral feelings and judgments, Nietzsche says. Let us follow the duties imposed by reason, and re-establish the laws of life. Maybe we can borrow the foundation stones for new ideals yet to be born. Let us then rule ourselves as if lords of an estate, our small experimental state [16].

Nietzsche ends Daybreak with his most uplifting prose. As birds fly to the horizon, we may fly as far as we possibly can to realize our potential, but even the greatest of us will find a perch. Our greatest ancestors did the same. Yet new birds will fly farther, far above our heads and our failures. Where are we all flying? We do not know [17].  

Work cited:

  1. Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. The Dawn of Day. Translated by John McFarland Kennedy, Anodos Books, 2017. Pgs. 10-16.
  2. Pg. 88
  3. Pg 170
  4. Pg. 111
  5. Pg. 104
  6. Pg. 130
  7. Pg 153
  8. Pgs. 181-183
  9. Pg. 128
  10. Pgs. 18 & 71
  11. Pg 9
  12.  Pg. 27
  13. Pg. 143
  14. Pg. 128
  15. Pg. 169
  16. Pg. 151
  17. Pg. 183

Best Yugioh Forbidden Memory Decks (No Cheats) *REVISED*

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Last weekend I lost to Seto 3rd in campaign, which really upset me. I duel against him like crazy in free duel precisely to prevent a situation like this and, well, it happened anyway. So I set to work making two new decks that would never fail me again.

Thunder Dragons
3x Meteor B. Dragon
3x Blue-Eyes White Dragon
3x Twin-Headed Thunder Dragon
3x Sanga of Thunder
3x Red-Eyes Black Dragon
3x Meteor Black Dragon
2x Skull Knight

3x Megamorph
3x Bright Castle
3x Dragon’s Treasure
3x Salamandra
3x Invigoration

3x Raigeki

2x Widespread Ruin

Yesterday, I defeated Seto 3rd 40 times with no losses. It is basically my last deck but with a few tweaks to it. Namely, I took out the Umi field spell and one of the traps, then replaced them with 2 Skull Knight. The dark warrior monk is a tech-in of sorts because of his guardian stars. Mercury helps it overcome your opponent’s Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon and Neptune helps it overcome Meteor B. Dragon.

Otherwise, I would get too many dead draws. Widespread Ruin can really kill you when you need an equip spell so I had to compromise. I tried adding more equip spells but I ended up drawing dead hands with no monsters. So I had to make use of experience.

Everything else functions like the old deck did: making a monster with over 4500 ATK. It can be a pain at times because Twin-Headed Thunder Dragon is too often too weak, unless I replaced the 2 Widespread Ruin with 2 Umi. Otherwise, I rely too much on Meteor B. Dragon. I’ll have to experiment with that.

In case the 2 Umi work better, I’ll just put it on the deck list above so I won’t have to write a billion new blogs. This deck is worse for campaign but would fare better in versus mode because most top duelists in this game seem to use many monsters of dark attribute.

Dark Dragons
3x Meteor B. Dragon
2x Blue-Eyes White Dragon
2x Metalzoa
3x Skull Knight
3x Zoa
3x Red-Eyes Black Dragon
3x Meteor Black Dragon

3x Megamorph
3x Bright Castle
3x Dragon’s Treasure
3x Dark Energy
3x Malevolent Nuzzler

3x Raigeki
3x Yami

Yesterday, I defeated Seto 3rd 20 times with no losses, and I defeated 20 more times today with no losses. I say probably because I won my duels more easily with this deck. It mostly boils down to the Yami field spell and many of my monsters having a Mercury guardian star. This way, Skull Knight and Zoa easily get an “unfair” 1000 ATK boost, helping it destroy Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon.

The downside? I can’t create an overpowered Meteor B. Dragon as easily as before. On the upside, I don’t have to rely on that poor dragon so much anymore. Skull Knight and Zoa take the game for me more often than you might think.  This deck is better for campaign because of the “unfair” ATK boost I mentioned before, but would fare worse in versus mode because my field spell would boost my opponent’s monsters.

A New Kind of Piano

I have many problems with the modern piano. I value its range and resonance, yes, but the flaws outweigh the benefits. Some history for context: composers in the 18th century performed music on two different kinds of pianos, the Vienna build and the English build. Vienna pianos were light, had a smaller key range, but had a large range of distinct colors of sound. English pianos were larger and broader, with greater key range and resonance, but flatter colors. Come the 19th century and the English piano builders defeated their Viennese rivals. The grand piano of today is an English piano with small changes.

What a pity! Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, and other composers relished the Vienna piano for its range of color, and much of their piano music imitates the orchestra. Yet now composers once more demean the piano to a harp turned on its side. I would prefer a fortepiano to my Yamaha piano at home, but I do not want us musicians to return to an older instrument. I would like to build a new kind of piano, even though I only have imagination at the moment.

First, let us shrink the key range: the base end from A0 to F1 and the treble end from C8 to F7. Let us use the key of F to build the range of the piano, not A or C. In regards to tuning, let us keep it flexible, but for my personal piano I would use meantone tuning with A3 at 415 Hertz. Let us make the keys of our new piano lighter, thinner, shallower; this will reduce some loudness and resonance but will return lost nuances in dynamics and range. Let us, somehow, bring back orchestral sounds to the piano: the lowest range of double base and timpani, the base range of bassoon and brass, the middle range of strings, the treble range of woodwinds, and the highest range of piccolo and triangle.  

We did little more than restore the Vienna piano at this point, though our new piano has somewhat more loudness and resonance, but with pedals of different kinds we can unlock new potential. Let us add two knee levers: the right the classic sustaining pedal and the left a “displacer”. The right knee lever gives the musician more grace and control over such an important pedal sound. The left knee lever can lock into place or be released as we please. It acts as a “displacer” by putting pieces of metal among the piano strings, like how Philip Glass put screws in his piano to create a remote dissonant sound.

Let us create three pedals for our right foot, moving from the center to the far right. The centermost pedal sustains notes of the treble range, the middle pedal causes only one or two strings of a note to be struck by the hammer depending on how hard you press it, and the rightmost pedal creates a plucking sound on the strings. Let us create three pedals for our left foot, moving from the center to the far left. The centermost pedal sustains notes of the base range, the middle pedal puts leather between the strings to create a muted sound, and the leftmost pedal places silk over the base strings to create a raspy buzzing noise.

Lastly, let us place two stoppers near middle C, used by hand. The right stopper adds an extra octave note above whatever treble note you play. The left stopper adds an extra octave below whatever base note you place.   

Brony Friendzone Reviews Solo: A Star Wars Story

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Dastardly Disney once more ruined my childhood. Solo: A Star Wars Story is another pernicious progressive propaganda cash grab. I could barely watch the malicious movie, as my beloved Hand Solo is no longer properly portrayed by the rugged rascal stud Indiana Jones but instead by some babyfaced miserable millennial! How dare people call this monstrous mess a Star Wars movie! No Luke Starkiller, no cool lightsaber fights, no Dark Vader, no Je’daii, not even the Schwartz! And the Millennial Falcon looks different! 

Nothing that remotely resembles a Star Wars movie can be seen! I don’t see any epic heroes in this movie, just some ghastly gangster movie about a hustler and a prostitute. I did not pay fifteen dollars and two hours of my time to see the Godfather! If I wanted to watch Grand Theft Auto, I would play it at home or see great gag videos on YouTube. The plot is better anyway!       

The synopsis is as follows, and I don’t care about spoiler warnings you sensitive snowflakes. A hustler named Hand Solo and a prostitute named Kira escape from their hometown Detroit, but nobody is black. Hand joins the United States Armed Forces, gets kicked out because he can’t be brainwashed, befriends a giant dog named Barf, then joins a pirate gang led by Long John Silver and Angela Davis; all this happens in five fast minutes. The pirate gang boards a train to Siberia in a daring dastardly heist, but they fail to get the kerosene, which you need to make cocaine. Don’t ask me how I know this, CIA! I know you’re watching me through my computer!

Since the pirate gang serves a drug cartel linked to the CIA, this is bad news for Hand and company. The careless crew land at a strip club: cartel headquarters. Long John makes pathetic excuses to John Dryden, his boss, while Hand catches up with Kira. While Hand screwed around with pirates, Kira became a catchy courtesan and sneakily shacked up with Dryden to live a better life. Hand proposes a mission redo, doing a mining heist to get a magic mineral known as quacksium; it sounds like something out of Duck Tales but somehow makes better cocaine. Don’t ask me how it works! I swear I don’t know!     

Hand befriends A Pimp Named Landlow and takes him with Barf, Kira, and Long John through a perilous passage to some country in Africa where you get blood diamonds. Hand gets the quacksium, and the gang rushingly rush back to headquarters to deliver the goods. Lots of irritating intrigue happens at this point, full of reversals, double reversals, triple reversals, and quadruple subversions. Long story short to save you any tedious time trouble: Hand kills Long John by shooting first and Kira kills her pimp Dryden by taking advantage of man’s greatest weakness: woman. Kira becomes the new crime boss, and now must answer directly to the director of the CIA. Hand and Barf catch up with A Pimp Named Landlow to beat him at poker.     

I would give this tragic travesty of a fallacious film a one out of ten. It looks nothing like the Star Wars I love while trying to be Grand Theft Auto, the Godfather, Blood Diamond, Eight Mile, and that one CIA movie starring Tom Cruise. By the Schwartz, the movie even has a freakishly feminist robot who lectures me about oppression! I don’t know what to make of this mess! My brain, my sharp sapience, my central flawless faculty for reason and rational discourse, is melting as I speak! That haggard harpy, Kathleen Kennedy, ruined by precious childhood so much she will send me into a ravenous rage! I will write a scathing review at Rotten Tomatoes at once!

– Darius Reilly the Nerd Rage Ranter

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The Untimely Meditations – Review

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Last time we met Nietzsche, he wrote The Birth of Tragedy, which was a striking unique book but one that toasted his career as a philologist. Now, Nietzsche changes from professor to pundit; he wrote thirteen essays from 1873 to 1876 about German culture and politics, four of which became the Untimely Meditations. The title is apt, since Nietzsche throws his darts against his fellow Germans for their faulty practices of history, science, and philosophy.

Nietzsche writes boldly, often abrasing David Strauss and Georg Hegel with sharp wit, but presents many nuanced ideas about how we create history and think of “the truth”. The more I read Nietzsche, the more I wonder how anyone could think of him as some kind of wanna fascist. From the first page, Nietzsche refutes the “might makes right” idea his fellow Germans had; the Germans thought they had a greater culture than the French simply because they won the Franco-Prussian War. And I hate to disappoint fans of Jordan Peterson, but Nietzsche gets very “postmodern” in the second essay, where he even questions truth herself.

I do become frustrated when reading Nietzsche at times. The man praises Voltaire and Schopenhauer for writing clearly and simply, but Nietzsche himself writes as densely as Hegel. He litters the book with odd metaphors and does not explain exactly what is a Philistine, even though he attacks almost everyone with the label. He does not make his thesis obvious the way a “good” essayist does, but rather builds up to it over time, as if he wrote music or drama. I think this style of writing is amazing but it adds to my frustration at times. You cannot write like Nietzsche if you need to pay the bills. Nietzsche had a pension. I do not.   

The World of the Future
We see the Last Man for the first time, where Nietzsche shows how horrible Strauss’ “world of the future” and Hegel’s “World Spirit realized” would be. Humankind would become mediocre in old age and comfort; everyone would cultivate the life of a bourgeois gentleman; humans would become so weak and loathe life so much they would make the species extinct. In this way would the Last Judgment and “perfection” of the humankind come to pass [1]. Nietzsche ridicules Strauss’ vision with a parody of domestic life; newspapers litter the study desk, wives and children whine in the corner, and Rohl plays music for the home [2]. Nietzsche devoted his life to helping us avoid that doomsday prophecy. I honestly think we should heed his warning.     

From what I see, Strauss tries to have his cake and eat it too. He rejects Christian doctrines of Heaven and miracles for a historical account of the Bible, adopts a naturalistic worldview, but insists on Christian morals. You can see the same hypocrisy among many thinkers, in the 19th century and today, Christian and atheist alike. “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” Strauss insists, but Nietzsche cites the theory of evolution to call the hypocrite to question [5]. Nietzsche seems to show some Social Darwinist strains, but he is largely right, simply stating the facts. I have an iPhone 10 because we did not treat people the way we wanted to have been treated.    

I notice a small detail but an important one. Strauss “likens the world to a machine, with its wheels, stapers, hammers, and ‘soothing oil’” without irony [3]. This strained metaphor instantly evokes Blake’s dark Satanic mills: “I suppose the world is called a mill, because it is turned about on the wheels of time, and grinds and crushes those that most admire it.” [4] Strauss describes samsara, in essence, and he wants to turn the wheel! The unthinking Strauss wants people to grind out their lives in a dull materialistic existence. I infer Nietzsche calls Strauss a Philistine for this reason, that Strauss has no deep interest in the truth or culture but twists them to promote his “world of the future”. At least Strauss should have had a vision noble, not base.

As for Hegel, you have good reason to ridicule him. He seems to have fancied the Prussian state as the highest reality humans have achieved in history. His myth looks bright on the surface but is really a negative totalitarian ideology. Who dares threaten the World Spirit from achieving her goal? The person who wants humankind to gain knowledge of everything and become perfect is a perverse person. If Hegel’s dream comes to pass, our adventure ends; we have exhausted all our potential; we can only become extinct. Nietzsche predicted the Europeans of his day would not reach absolute knowledge nor realize heaven on earth, but would fall into terrible darkness, which is what happened in the 20th century [6].   

Modern Education
Nietzsche’s critique of university education is relevant today.  He reminds me of Marx, who famously cried how every human relation in the modern world was reduced to callous cash payment. We still raise our children to “become something”. We say “doctor or lawyer” while the German two hundred years ago said “good citizen, professor, or statesman”. We cram a child with so much dry knowledge he ages before his time, becoming weary and cynical before he could ever explore the world for himself [7]. We educate a university student to specialize in one field so she can fill the right cubicle after she graduates. “Siloing” is as old as dirt.

Modern education is, in essence, propaganda. A child must “become something” so he can be useful for the state, and to that end we fill his head with “facts” that defend the state, military, and economy. You can even see in real time how today’s bosses and professors become old Prussians during an interview. If you want to be a lawyer, they expect you to have been studying law while in the womb, to strive your whole life to obtain one lowly stupid job, and do nothing else. You must always be “politically correct”; by that I do not mean being decent to racial minorities but never being eccentric or dangerous, in other words “appropriate”.   

Nietzsche presents his own unique plan on how to educate a person, to cultivate her into a “solar system” of sorts. Indeed he wants to train her in a wide and deep range of knowledge like a Renaissance Man, but direct it towards a genius, not to “becoming something”. Part of educating a person means discovering the “paraphysical laws” of her solar system. In other words, learning the full depths of a person [8]. As cool as Nietzsche’s plan sounds, you clearly cannot devote so much time for every person. Schoolteachers share my lament; they wish they could nurture every child in the classroom, attend to every need, but their crushing duties prevent them.   

Pitfalls of History
I most enjoyed reading the second essay, where Nietzsche talks about studying history and the nature of truth herself. Probably it is because Nietzsche laxes his polemic against a Germany that no longer exists to delve deeper in philosophy. He starts the second essay with its most striking idea, that it is important for humans to forget. History repeats herself; the more things change the more things stay the same, but if you know that you will never do anything. Yet people repeat history anyway, because we let our passions blind us, “through love and the shadow of love’s illusions”. But he who destroys illusions in himself and others is punished by the ultimate tyrant, Nature [9]. See Donatian Sade for more details.   

We humans did not have a history during most of our time on Earth. We lived “ahistorically”, much like in Nietzsche’s metaphor of the beast; he is a creature blind to the world but assured in himself and confident, precisely because Nature turns in a circle and he forgets each time the circle completes. It seems like we cannot make up our minds if beasts are to be pitied or envied [10]. But when we built civilizations, we slowly got this idea called progress, and created history once we drew time as a line not of a circle. Regardless, we live in the imperfect tense.

Nietzsche describes three ways we study history: monumental, critical, and antiquarian. We practice monumental history by creating fables of grand heroes fulfilling a great destiny. American history in children’s books is a fine example. When we write history this way, we can unite a country’s people to achieve a high goal in politics or culture, but we must lie by omission. We must smooth out inconsistencies in history [11]. We practice critical history by finding fault in a story, like what Howard Zinn does in A People’s History of the United States, something modern scholars today call “deconstruction”. But we can only destroy with critique, and if we don’t create new values to replace the old ones, we only sketch the bars of our prison.

Pedants practice antiquarian history, which we most often abuse by collecting so many “facts” without sorting them in a meaningful way. The modern scholar is overwhelmed with so much trivial knowledge he remains pinned to his armchair. Nietzsche describes the scholar of his time as this sort; he dallies with the different arts of the present and the different artifacts of the past. He forms a shallow opinion in line with the state, then the press distributes his wisdom to people who are not scholars as “facts” [12]. And Nietzsche loathes journalists for butchering language, but I do not have the space to show how journalists butcher language today.

I think Nietzsche makes his boldest claims about truth. Humans do not have beliefs because of what is true and false. Humans have beliefs because of what values they hold. And those values come from the primitive passions in the human heart. You cannot judge anything, let alone history, and claim to be objective, yet we must make judgments to decide how to act best [13]. I interpret this to mean we are caught in a catch 22. We even make the effort the gain more knowledge because we value the act of pursuing knowledge as a good thing.

Nietzsche insists we do three things, a “threefold must”, to solve the riddle. We must recognize modern consciousness itself as a part of history; we must examine science itself through the scientific method; and we must solve the problem of history [14]. Nietzsche, for his part, has his own way of viewing history. Rather than seeing history as a line of progress, he sees history as a mountain range, with peaks marked by people of great genius and achievement. The irony, it is a rather “ahistorical” view of history

The Aim of Culture
I find the third essay easier to discuss and summarize because Nietzsche has thoroughly depicted his world by the time you reach this point. I care little for the fourth essay where Nietzsche waxes lyrical over Wagner and, once more, pines on the arrogant man to revive Greek tragedy and unite the German people to create a higher culture. Wagner does neither, and a heartbroken Nietzsche attacks Wagner in disgust in his later work.

Nietzsche goes into greater detail attacking the scholar of his time, and contrasts that typical man with Schopenhauer, what you could call a “true philosopher” or a “man of genius”. The banker rules the modern world, and likewise the aim of modern life is to make money. As a baker makes pastries and a pharmacist withholds medicine from sick people, a professor in university guards a society’s culture as a gatekeeper to make a living. What we call “intellectuals” decide what values a society accepts and what values it does not.

A genius, however, must go against the grain to pursue his muse. He must, in a way, reject the culture of his fellows, and he must go against the history his fellows create. Nietzsche uses the metaphor of a fish swimming upstream. Humans in large groups become a kind of golem with a mind of its own, with a collective will so strong no one can stop it. You can reject the golem’s will, but it comes with many dangers. Nietzsche lists three: you may become so lonely you lose touch with reality, you may fall to despair knowing the truth, and you may harden your heart in jaded hatred, turning from an independent thinker to a stifled dogmatist [15]. No matter what, a genius will always be untimely and problematic.

Nietzsche finally arrives to his central thesis. We should not seek to merely preserve ourselves as animals do according to Darwin, and neither should we “become something” like the state wants. Rather, we should cultivate a great culture that lets genius flourish [16]. He does not only mean genius as a person of tremendous creative power but the whole culture should itself have a kind of genius. But Nietzsche is inconstant. If we achieve a culture that nurtures genius and a genius goes against her culture, then what happens?   

  1. Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Untimely Meditations. Translated by Anthony Ludovici and Adrian Collins, Pantianos Classics, 1909. Pg. 86
  2. The Untimely Meditations. Pg. 39
  3. The Untimely Meditations. Pg. 45
  4. Hermannus, Hugo. Pia Desideria. 1624. Pg. 29
  5. The Untimely Meditations. Pg. 26
  6. The Untimely Meditations. Pg. 83
  7. The Untimely Meditations. Pg. 119
  8. The Untimely Meditations. Pgs. 99 – 101
  9. The Untimely Meditations. Pg. 76
  10. The Untimely Meditations. Pg. 51
  11. The Untimely Meditations. Pgs. 58-59
  12. The Untimely Meditations. Pgs. 62-64
  13. The Untimely Meditations. Pgs. 71-73
  14. The Untimely Meditations. Pg. 81
  15. The Untimely Meditations. Pg. 103
  16. The Untimely Meditations. Pg. 123

Melancholia – Review

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When a typical critic watches a film, she judges the director’s craft. She scours the film for the director’s consistency in plot, characters, development, and so forth. All that is fair and good, but the critic should remember crafts are mere servants to a master: the muse who helps us connect to the characters or author on a deep level. When I write a serious review instead of a parody, I would like to focus on the genius of the work first, everything else second. There is nothing wrong writing about your subjective feelings, since all reviews are really a monologue in code of a critic’s private thoughts, provided you use good judgment. So I will review Melancholia in this way.

Melancholia is a metaphor of major depression, hardly a secret. Since I have depression myself (like every other young adult these days), I easily related to Justine and endured the total destruction of all life without much discomfort. When someone with depression describes his illness with a metaphor, he tends to speak of a powerful binding force on his body making it hard for him to even move, like drowning in deep water or carrying a ponderous weight. Or he will describe an evil spirit or a sick heart that harasses him with terrible thoughts every moment.

I do feel like I carry a heavy black burden at all times and a demon does harass me every day of my life. When the burden becomes grievously heavy, I have constant fatigue. When the demon bothers me greatly, I become peevish and my ears pick up every terrible little sound that could annoy me. I carry a vague hatred of myself and every person in the world because of my turmoil; there is no direct or just cause, it is always there. Satan in Paradise Lost boasts of making Heaven out of Hell but is miserable in earthly paradise. I feel the same way, and I cannot escape my thoughts. I think of my death to come, however distant, about once a day, but I am a young man in his prime.

I relate to Justine suffering as I do but to a more extreme degree. The overture shows the entire world in slow motion, as depression makes everything slow. The film proper starts with Justine marrying her husband in a pompous wedding, but she cannot feel joy and wanders outside in a sort of trance because being in a crowd is like being in a meat grinder. Justine and her family live in a great unreal mansion, but it is empty, and Justine cannot cross the bridge that leads to the nearby village, the outside world. She becomes so ill she stays in bed all day and can barely walk, delicious meatloaf becomes ashes in her mouth, and becomes eerily calm when close to certain death.

All that is pretty bad, but Melancholia shows us the worst possible thing that could ever happen. A rogue planet crashes into Earth, destroying it; the entire human race, all human history, all life on earth, all life in the universe, is gone; no hope, no aliens, not even that little light. When I am very ill, I wish myself and everyone else would die horribly, and Melancholia makes it happen. A very fitting metaphor for depression, since people with depression often imagine the worst possible that can happen. At least speaking of depression relieves the torment.  

The Works of Donatien Sade – Belated Review

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Actor On the Stage
Many people fear and loathe Donatien Francois, the Marquis of Sade, but the man’s bad name is overrated. We shroud him in mystery with our ignorance; religious people and humanists smear him a prince of darkness while surrealists knight him the freest spirit who ever lived. Sade chortles at us in amusement from beyond the grave, since he is at heart an edgy teen who wants attention, but like most edgy teens he appears to have more shock than substance. Even if that is true, he offers us many important ideas behind all the scat porn, and we should at least consider them.

“Postmodernism”, for example, is another thing shrouded in mystique, but the word should never have been invented. It simply refers to intellectuals of the latter 20th century who question the modern ideals we get so excited about, making it more an era than a school of thought. – You see, you merely have to add a Latin prefix or a Greek suffix and, voila, you make a word magical and profound.

But skeptics annoy priests and kings in every age. Are the ancient Egyptians who doubt the sunny afterlife “postmodernists”? Is Diogenes the dog who hounds Plato for his so called scientific theories a “postmodernist”? And what of the skeptics of the Enlightenment like Immanuel Kant and David Hume; are they “postmodernists”? If you are a reactionary of any age, a “postmodernist” is just another “degenerate” who does not believe in your traditional ideals. This is where I find Sade in the drama; he is one of the many “postmodernists” who questioned the shiny new values of his time.

The Enlightenment
Sade took issue with Enlightenment ideas of human nature, like the optimistic doctrines of Rousseau, Voltaire, and company. Rousseau thinks we were noble savages before civilization poisoned our soul. Voltaire thinks religious states are the culprit and, if we outgrew their superstitions, we would live together far more humanely. Most of these thinkers despise the Church but look to Nature and her laws to form secular ideals on how to behave. “If only,” sighs Rousseau, “we can live in Nature again”.

Sade gives Rousseau what he wished for. His main idea, other than “RELIGION BAD! ATHEIST SMASH!”, is that Nature is utterly cruel and amoral. We humans, religious and atheist alike, invent morals, then delude ourselves by dubbing them natural laws. A human being who truly lives “in accordance to natural law”, like Juliette does, is a selfish, brutish, shallow person who only cares about her power and pleasure. This dreadful tiger burning bright in the forests of the night is Nature in her true form.

We are all fettered Juliettes, but we are too weak and cowardly to spurn the religious and secular fables we grew up with. Even if we are strong and brave, we are too dumb or too lazy to get away with crimes through cunning. So we trick ourselves with all kinds of deceptions to deny our souls what they really want. Sade seems to regard civilization with contempt, like Rousseau does, but sees it as a kind of prison where the weak create morals to curb the strong. What we call our “conscience” is a prison of the mind.

If we topple down organized religion and fulfill Voltaire’s wet dream, we will not find peace as enlightened deists but will find new ways to torture each other, using whatever new dogma we come up with to justify it. Sade’s libertine characters use their dogma as an excuse, we use ours. We torture peasants in Africa and factory workers in China because we must live with luxury. We deserve it because we are a civilized people who invent great cultural icons like the stock market, gold crusted pizza, and Internet porn; we worked really hard for it in the office; we need wealth and power to defend “freedom”. In short, our excuses to do horrible things to innocent people go much deeper than religion.

Sade gives us hardly anything new as far as pure boring theory is concerned. We have seen Machiavelli and Hobbes explain in detail how we are scumbags deep inside. What makes Sade different is his humor, something most thinkers do not bother paying attention to. He lampoons Enlightenment thinkers, toys with the relations between men and women during his time, and ridicules revered leaders of all kinds by depicting them as perverts. – Humor, you see, is for frivolous people only. We philosophers are too ponderous and profound to rely on such trifles.

Critique
I admit it is hard to tell if Sade is truly a neglected satirist or some deeker who believes every word he preaches. Either way, I take several issues with him, many of them regarding the methods of his craft. Aesthetics, like humor, is a trifle unworthy of serious minds.

For one, he depicts sex only on the surface level. He only addresses lust and the physical aspects of sex, but not the more complex emotions or social intrigue, like in de Laclos’ Dangerous Liaisons. Sade also insists on describing every detail of sex among characters you do not have a deep connection to for reasons stated above, making even the most depraved scat porn tedious to me. After a while, the sex is no longer shocking but merely noxious.

Sade’s porn is a lot like modern porn, so much that scholars and pundits on Sade think he helped build the porn industry; both titillate only the body, both are garish, both leave a bad taste in the mouth afterwards, as if they “know” they are secret vices that should remain hidden in a dark corner. Yes, Sade’s porn is far more brutal but, like child porn or snuff porn in the dark web, is the same substance in different form. Contrast modern porn with the Kama Sutra, where sex has a sacred element, or Greek erotic art, where sex is shown with dignity and intelligence.

Regarding plot and philosophy, Sade is as subtle as a hammer. In Florville and Courval, the plot twist at the end is so obvious, that Florville killed her son and mother, and married her father, M. Night Shyamalan could have made it. Sade will pause the action so the libertine can lecture you for several pages on philosophy. Reserving a lecture for a rare moment, like a climax when Juliette meets Pope Pious VI only to outwit him, makes good use of the trope, but too often and it becomes tedious, especially when each lecture is the same thing at heart. When you hear one, you hear them all.

The lecturing libertines become more noxious when you realize they are stringent moralists. A man like Saint-Fond screeds against morals until he is blue in the face, but demands his peers agree to everything he says and take part in all his perversions without tarry. Saint-Fond schemes to poison the water supply of a town and Juliette hesitates, just a little bit; he sniffs her doubt and schemes to have her murdered, but Noirceuil helps her flee.

You see a similar trend in 120 Days of Sodom: it does not matter if you enjoy a perversion or feel like having sex at all, you are obliged to join the orgy, on principle. You have a moral duty to be amoral. It is like being a member of Ayn Rand’s cult or the inner circle of a far right Internet group. They make a big noise how they are freethinking heroes bravely standing against a stifling liberal regime, but will themselves persecute you if you disagree with them, since they see such horrific betrayal as a threat to their existence.

Sade’s account of Nature is insightful but his vision is very narrow and one sided. Nature is endlessly vast, made of so many conflicting creatures, forces, and passions, no one could understand them all. When Sade confronts aspects of Nature that are not wanton and cruel, he becomes a dogmatic priest to keep his worldview intact; he simply waves them away as weakness or hypocrisy. The truth, however, is social animals need sympathy and trust to survive – even we expanded those faculties as we evolved through millions of years.

Pyotr Kropotkin, someone who studied Nature in detail and did not make conjectures as philosophy, discovered that Nature selected animals who had the right amount of empathy to survive, because it allowed the members of a species to better work together. And Kropotkin refers to none other than Darwin himself as a source. Nature favors “weak” kindly animals, “strong” cruel animals, and all kinds of creatures with both traits; it all depends on context, if the animal is in the right place at the right time. She simply does not care about contradiction, hypocrisy, or anything else that can befuddle a human, even Sade.

Satire
On the side of satire, Sade explores the worst parts of the Enlightenment values we take for granted today. Dozens of Enlightenment thinkers, like Diderot, d’Alembert, and other household names, wrote The Encyclopedia in their ambition to collect all human knowledge in one work. Sade wrote an upside down Encyclopedia, The 120 Days of Sodom, where he catalogues every perversion possible, casting a rather different light for human knowledge. What is most impressive is Sade recording how a libertine’s perversion evolves over time; the libertine has a mild kink but he grows into a murderer.

Sade took doctrines like individualism, materialism, and naturalism to their worst extremes. There is no such thing as society and the individual matters above all else, right? There are no immortal guardians to watch over us, right? We should do what is natural, right? Well, here you go. Everything depends on your physical pleasure and any moral question involving a group of people becomes a numbers game. If you own a business, you are entitled to grow endlessly, even if you destroy your host. Our modern libertine is the Wall Street coke addict, the rich kid of London, the real estate speculator, and so on. This is classic juvenalian satire.

I already brought up Nature, how the Enlightenment pines his hopes on so called natural laws to replace religious laws. Sade flips this hope on top of its head with delight. Nature is not a kind mother but a kind of serial killer who tortures and kills her children. Some philosophers say, “Nature is good; let’s follow her.” Others say, “Nature is evil; let’s avoid her.” Sade says with glee, “Nature is evil; let’s follow her.”

We overcame many religious tyrants, or killed God as it were, but we left a huge cave open and have no idea how to fill in the gap. You may think secular ethics can work but we built those ideas from Christian doctrine. As we painfully know by now, cold science takes no moral sides, and many tyrants last century used science to play a numbers game to decide who lived and who died. We justified our bigotries with religion as the excuse. Now we justify our bigotries with science as the excuse. If science cannot give us morals, where to now?

Feminist?
Calling Sade a feminist would be silly but many parts of his work make me curious. Even outside the libertine novel, Sade knew of a trend of subversive writing at the time. A prostitute would speak philosophy to her clients or coworkers, and she would often attack mainstream doctrines of ethics, religion, politics, and other subjects. The greatest libertine heroes Juliette, Madame Durand, and Madame Duclos do the same job but on a grand scale. Juliette and friends go far beyond any “strong female characters” in modern literature. Only the very ancient goddesses of the Egyptian, Babylonian, and Vedic religions surpass them in strength, cunning, and cruelty.

Women libertines in Sade’s work are just as despotic, cruel, and cunning as the male libertines. Sade sometimes states, in explicit terms and through male characters, why he thinks women make better libertines than men do; women have more sensitive faculties, little moral sense, and have a more consuming sex drive. On the other side of the coin, Sade takes no women prisoners and spares no female character from a brutal fate because of her sex. In other words, Sade puts women and men on the same playing field.

The Domestic Cult started forming around the 18th century; the ideal woman selflessly served her husband and children, a modest creature with no knowledge of sex, not even in her heart of hearts, until her wedding night; such was her innocence. She was to be seen and not heard. Sade likes tearing this ideal down, either by torturing Eugenie’s mother or having Juliet throw her child in the fire. The heroines carelessly flaunt the 18th century morals men imposed on women at the time, most of all the morals on sex.

Lastly, we observe Sade’s god, the one one true god, Nature herself. When you read one of Sade’s rants against religion, you often see Sade refute and blaspheme the male Christian God in the most extreme ways, while you also see Sade exalt female Nature as the omnipotent force in the universe.

Sade seems to share some ideas of Nature with the Romantics. A trope in Romantic painting is Nature as an awesome subject; the forests wide, dark, and deep, the massive mountains jutting into a vast limitless sky; Nature is so big and sublime she is outside our understanding. The human objects in the painting are tiny specs, part of the scenery. Nature is an omnipotent tyrant and humans are peons to her whims.

This is humbling at first, but soon it gives you courage, because you become free of many pretentious burdens and responsibilities, all made by humans in their arrogance. If Sade can give you any positive message, this may be the best one. How you use that freedom is, well, up to you.

Brony Friendzone Reviews Marvel: Infinity War

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Facetious farcical frivolity, Avengers: Infinity War is a glittering garish gluttony of a film that fails all the rules of filmmaking. Put it simply, every fractious facet of the film is butter spread too thin on a loaf of bread. Too many bastardized superheroes strut the stage, leaving too little time for character development, creating a convoluted pitious plot so convulsively complex not even a physics major poindexter could crack the riddling riddle. If I could barely understand it, what makes you think you could?

Marvel and Disney ruined my childhood for the last time. Jack Kirby sheds tears from his grave. Only the conscientious cognisanti, the iridescent illuminati; in short, the gifted genius geeks, blessed as the pioneering prophets by the Father Stan Lee, the Son Heath Ledger, and the Holy Ghost Jack Kirby – may God rest his soul, R.I.P. in peace – our destiny as cultural gatekeepers individuates us in spirit from the philandering philistine as do the the genetic differences between Man and Chimpanzee.

The potholed plot follows as such: a purple titan called Thanatos wants to collect all the Chaos Emeralds so he could rule the universe or something. He kick’s Thorin’s butt so hard he sends the Nordic god to intergalactic space. Then his minions, Dark Horny Chick, Squidward, and Reptoid Jock – I still hate you, Chad! – invade earth. Two of the Hellenic heroes own a Chaos Emerald, one each: Dr. Strangelove and Space Englander. They repel the infesting invaders and seek out their comrades, the Space Rangers.

The Rangers, in turn, rescue a trounced Thorin from deep space, who then visits Gimli to help him forge a new Master Sword. Meanwhile, Thanatos abducts his stepdaughter, the Haitian hottie; he wants her to join him so they could rule the galaxy as father and daughter. Hottie says no, so Thanatos sacrifices her to Loki to get another Chaos Emerald.

Meanwhile, Dr. Strangelove murders poor Squidward with the help of Iron Dude and Peter Pranker, so Dark Horny Chick visits the politically correct utopia Wakanda to exact her revenge. The remaining heroic Hellenes aid the civil rights activist Malcolm X. Panther in defending his homeland in a brave stand that would make the Spartans proud. Dark Horny Chick sends in a million ornery orcs in a suicide squad, but the Hellenes fight them off.

I could no longer stand to watch the movie, so I left early. This malevolent movie is a politically correct nightmare. Why do half of all superheroes have to be women? Why do African Americans need a fake colossal continent when they already have Africa? Why don’t I have a Wakanda; you know, somewhere like Wyoming? Watching this movie is abstaining yourself on the pathetic parsimony enervating excuse called the vegan diet. It tastes bad with no payoff.

My high school literature teacher – who is a wonderful woman, by the way! – taught me that everything in a book or movie was a symbol for something ponderously profound; I was forced to write book reports on To Kill a Mockingbird and Hamlet using her methods. I can also shed some luminescent light on this massive monstrosity of a maddening movie.

Thanatos represents Disney. Just as Thanatos wants to collect all the Chaos Emeralds to turn into a Super Saiyan and control the universe, Disney wants to bureaucratically buy every franchise known to man to control the world. A way better movie than this one, a movie I would totally watch with wonder, would be called Disney Versus Google: Civil War.

As for other cheap characters, none of them matter. They are cheap cash grabs by Disney, dangling them as protruding puppets, scintillating screenshots, blazing their names as lambent lights to lure the damned dunces, the idiot ignorami, the poor Philistines into losing their hard earned money; just as the flannel of flame leads motley moths to their doom or the barbarous butcher leads the sleepy sheep to slaughter. Disney ruined Star Wars. Hands off my comic book heroes, sneaky skeevy swindling swine!

– Darius Reilly, Nerd Rage Ranter

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The Birth of Tragedy – Nietzsche Review

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The Adventure Begins:
Once upon a time in a faraway land, two creative impulses, Apollo and Dionysus, merged together to birth Greek tragedy. Apollo came to the Greeks first, bearing them beautiful illusions to help them celebrate life in spite of all its suffering. Homer was Apollo’s champion, weaving a dream world of seductive images through his epic poetry. The Gods of Olympus embodied human life in all its forms, casting a glorious cheerful light.

But Apollo’s gift was an illusion; the god carefully guarded the boundaries that set individuals apart, and he punished the heroes of old for threatening the illusion with their excesses. Oedipus outwitted the Sphinx, and so was punished by fate for being too smart. Belaphron boasted of being equal to the gods, so Zeus swatted him from the sky as we swat swat flies, leaving him to die crippled and blind. Apollo put moderation and symmetry above all else to protect his elegant but fragile kingdom of dreams.

Dionysus later arrived to Greece from the east, and he brought to the Greeks ecstatic dithyrambs, tearing away the veil of everyday life to reveal a “Primal Oneness”. He revealed the truth this way, that all living things are different tones of the same singer, different twirls of the same dancer, returning everyone to the same lifeforce they came from. The Greeks first rejected Dionysus, which can be revealed in the Doric building they crafted with all their severe restraint, but later they accepted the god as one of their own. Only then could the Greeks create tragedy.

First, the Greeks invented a chorus of singing and dancing musicians, directly inspired from the folkish dithyrambs, and later built a stage with its actors and costumes. Aeschylus and Sophocles championed Dionysus through this new art form, Greek tragedy. Dionysus spoke through the chorus, drawing the audience into rapture, revealing them the truth in all its greatness and terror, while Apollo spoke through the actors on stage, redeeming the audience with a beautiful illusion.

Greek tragedy was indeed wondrous but it was too intense and volatile to last, declining as swiftly as it rose. Socrates destroyed tragedy by equating virtue with beauty and insisting that everything must be consciously understood through logic to be valid. The playwright Euripides brought Socrates’ lessons to the stage, shrinking the chorus to a minor role and having characters use logical argument to resolve the plot. Tragedy could not mix with the style of New Comedy, because the story of the tragic hero’s downfall was as amoral as Nature herself, and because music was the key to all the magic that made tragedy such a great art.

Thus spoke Nietzsche, beginning his mission with the sermon on the Greek mount.

On the Greeks:
Nietzsche undermined the ideal image of the ancient Greeks we held on to since forever. We thought the Greeks were a simple noble people; when a scholar said “Greek”, we imagined columned buildings balanced to perfection, we pictured a civilized man in a toga, we recalled Aesop’s fables and Aristotle’s maxims of moderation, and so on. But Nietzsche revealed these Greeks to be an illusion, and when we scratched the surface we saw a history of conflict. The wild satyr reared his head, and we reeled back in horror. We never saw the Greeks the same way again, but it was the smallest wound Nietzsche gave us when he struck his first blow against “Western tradition”.

Nietzsche also scrapped our old image of tragedy. Our classical views of Greek drama came from Aristotle, who said the Greeks underwent a catharsis when watching tragedy, and were morally purified through pity and terror. But Nietzsche rejects this view, since Aristotle saw art as a way to morally edify a person, which revealed his debt to Socrates and Plato. Nietzsche insists, again and again, that tragedy is aesthetic, like everything else he calls “true art”, making it something higher than a moral lesson.

Attack on Philosophy:
We modern people of “the West” wish to believe we are an Enlightened and liberal people, but we have our hang ups that make us short of the ideal, like everyone else. For instance, we cling to a chauvinist “Western Canon”; in fact, we imagine it whenever someone says “philosophy”. Even today does Dave Robinson, in Introducing Philosophy: A Graphic Guide, credit the Greeks for inventing philosophy, setting them apart from their older wiser parents, Egypt and Babylon. The Greeks, he claims, were the first people to explain life with reason and science, not religion, mystery, or tradition like their elders did [1].

Maybe he is right, but the Greeks paid a terrible price in creating philosophy. Nietzsche devotes the second half of the whole book explaining exactly what happened. What we call “philosophy” is really a history of science evolving over thousands of years, both the ways we solve problems with science and the general worldview science gives us. Socrates was no professor; the Messiah truly founded a religious movement, delivering the Greeks from their bondage under Apollo and Dionysus.

Dionysus gave the Greeks a gospel of pessimism. It is best not to be born, second best to die soon. Everything that comes into being must be prepared to meet a sorrowful end. We may try to gain as much knowledge and control of the world as we can but, like an expanding light in a dark room, the more light we shine the more darkness lies around the edge. You are nothing more than a brief flashing thought in infinite darkness. Do we curse the earth and gnash our teeth? No. Through tragedy, we gather round Life, joyfully dance with her. We little creatures will die but new vibrant species replaces us, and circle completes itself; eternal she will always endure, in ecstasy and tragedy at the same time [2].

Socrates gave the Greeks a gospel of optimism. By using rational thought and observing cause and effect, we can learn every secret of the world and human nature. Not only that, we can dare improve human nature through virtue and reason [3]. Nietzsche dubs Socrates the prototype of theoretical man, a person who postulates two logical theories: science and ethics. Only then, did we have what we call “philosophers”.

Do not take the two whores, those fair-faced hypocrites, lightly. Every philosopher tried to explain the nature of reality, then used his conclusions to mandate a code of conduct. In truth, the philosopher formed his passions and prejudices growing up in the right place at the right time, then abstracted them into theory. I said nothing new; we take this idea for granted, but we should not. If Alfred Whitehead is right, and all philosophers are footnotes to Plato, then the Western Canon is damned. Nearly every man in it fell for the same error.

Mother Right:
Nietzsche, when in his youth, was well acquainted with Johann Bachofen, the controversial author of Mother Right. Bachofen chronicled human history in several stages, when humankind grew from primitive “lunar” matriarchies, societies built from a mother’s unquestioned bond with her flesh and blood, to “solar” patriarchies, societies built from a male heir’s private property. Nietzsche was fascinated by Bachofen and paid him many visits during this time. The ancient Greeks in The Birth of Tragedy lived during the last moments of Bachofen’s “Dionysian” era, when the ancient feminine force finally died.

Do not assume Bachofen is some kind of feminist. Most scholars, especially women scholars, find Bachufen’s theory dubious and note he was no more progressive than a typical man of his day. In truth, Bachofen considers patriarchy superior to matriarchy, and believes the father conquering the mother was a positive step forward for the human race, thinking it properly established civilization.

Nietzsche takes a different view. He laments the death of Dionysus, clearly a woman in drag, and all tragic wisdom she held, as a terrible loss for humankind. The male philosopher, or theoretical man, replaced her, but none of his science or ethics could fill in the gap. Patriarchy was a regression. Nietzsche litters his book with images of mothers and children; the honest gaze of truth comes from the flashing eye of a goddess; Mothers of Being are the innermost core of things; the Primal Mother is eternally creative; the sublime Greeks are eternal children, and so on [4]. Nietzsche yearns for the Mother to return through the child Wagner in the third part of the book.

Nietzsche At the Crossroads:
Nietzsche dubs Socrates and Euripides the villains who killed Greek tragedy, at least that’s how we read it. But it would be better if we see Socrates and Euripides as antiheroes. Nietzsche, for all his fiery emotions, treats the two men in an ambiguous way. Socrates was a vortex who changed all human history; he made everyone into a fool; no one could endure his piercing eye; his confidence in philosophy was so strong he died by his principles. Eurpides had a great critical faculty and rich talent, and he remade Greek theater to resolve the many problems he saw in it [5].

I appreciate Nietzsche’s nuanced take on history, and it reveals something more profound. What if killing tragedy was, in a way, needed? What if it was all part of a larger story of human growth? We are a very young species; we could not believe in naive myths as a growing child cannot cling to its mother’s breast forever. We tried science and, though she served us faithfully, we are aware of the limits of reason. This how religion truly died. You see a similar tale in the history of master and slave morality; we live under a naive master morality at first, later critique it through slave morality only to find its limits. We now face a challenge unlike any before us and the stakes were never higher.

Where do we go? It is the biggest question I have when reading Nietzsche’s works, even when I read The Greek Music Drama. Nietzsche himself seems to have devoted his life to answering that question. We are not the pinnacle of life on earth but a bridge between the ape and… something higher, the strange controversial Ubermensch. Whatever that is, Nietzsche begins his life’s work by giving us the skinny of our human condition at the moment. We lost something very important and philosophy plagued us ever since. How do we get out of our rut? If we bring back tragedy with all her wisdom we have a chance to overcome our problems , to move beyond childhood and adolescence to become something higher than we think possible.

Self Critique:
Nietzsche even gives grief to modern scholars. He neglects to give careful citations to back up his claims, rhapsodies in excess at times, and makes cartoons of his villains. He simply refuses to tame his passions with the dull moderate tone grad students use in a master’s thesis. To this day, a Cambridge professor like Michael Tanner chastises Nietzsche for being sloppy with details. But Nietzsche does not care. He speaks of Sophocles or Socrates like he speaks of Apollo and Dionysus; he describes creative forces and archetypes, not real people [6]. Like Blake and Shakespeare, he enchants us with imagination and scorns shallow realism.

Nietzsche heaped more scorn on himself in An Attempt at Self-Criticism for two big reasons. First, he was still under the powerful sway of his fathers, Kant and Schopenhauer. You can see this in how Nietzsche compares Apollo and Dionysus to the phenomenal and noumenal world, and he describes how art as redeems us from the ceaseless torments of living. Most of all, he despises how his old views reveal influences from Plato and Christianity [6].

Second, Nietzsche is deeply embarrassed by the love he had for Wagner at the time. Now, he is so embarrassed with Wagner I can see him blush from over here. Nietzsche spends the third part of The Birth of Tragedy getting excited over Wagner; Greek tragedy will be reborn under Wagner and Germany’s culture will be great again! As we know by now, that did not happen. Nietzsche is so angry at himself he spends the very first pages of Untimely Meditations attacking the chauvinist Germans for thinking their culture was superior to to the culture of the French, but that is a story for another time.

And my own self-criticism: I dislike my article. I feel it is too dense, too dry, too academic. I am afraid no one will want to read it. Each time I write about “difficult” subjects like politics and philosophy, I sink into this habit of writing so dryly. I feel that I must write “well” if I want my articles to be “good quality”, and that pressure, which I impose on myself, is my bugbear. I write as badly as Michael Tanner does in the Introduction of my copy.

I should not write as if I am speaking to a nameless crowd, but write as if I am speaking to a person I know. I should write down my notes first, expand them, and only at the end write a summary of the book. I should write about my personal thoughts and feelings, what all of this means to me, because I read Nietzsche to improve my art. I should mark citations the very moment I copy my notes from paper to computer document so I will not become tedious. If only scholars wrote as poets do.

Works Cited:
1. Robinson, Dave, and Judy Groves. Introducing Philosophy: A Graphic Guide. Icon Books, 2007. Pgs. 6-7.

2. Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. The Birth of Tragedy. Edited by Michael Tanner. Translated by Shaun Whiteside, Penguin, 1993. Pgs. 39, 46, 52.

3. The Birth of Tragedy. Pgs. 72-73

4. The Birth of Tragedy. Pgs. 53, 76, 80, 81

5. The Birth of Tragedy. Pgs. 73, 58, 59

6. The Birth of Tragedy. Introduction. Pgs. xxvii-xxviii

7. The Birth of Tragedy. Pgs. 8-9

Brony Friendzone Goes To a Feminist Conference

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Sing to me, O Muse, of the neckbeard’s wrath,
And the feminists – those sociopaths! –
Who sent countless young men down in the soil
To work in the House of Hades with toil.
I am that neckbeard, Darius Reilly,
I conquered the women who beguiled me!
My adventure began in the mead hall
Of Reddit during an online meme brawl.
My friend, Ragnar_Redbeard, said to the host,
“Progressives are winning! Is all not lost?
You are cucks, beta males, pro-Spengler nerds,
White knights, brony losers, all virgin curs!
You’re as cucked as the Cultural Marxists,
Virtue-signaling regressive leftists!”
My other friend, MAGA_is_God, then typed,
“Leftists don’t debate, merely speak in spite.
They will erase all different opinions,
Shut down all free speech using their minions!”
He said this while blocking a beta cuck
From posting, which made me give my two bucks.
“I will go to a feminist conference!
They’ll acknowledge political difference!”
I pray I may succeed, O Fortuna,
To bring a future to all EVROPA!”

With sandals squeaking under socks, I came
To the conference so all will know my name.
My pants bulged; the women were so pretty.
A cute feminist? I must be silly!
I went to open the door for this dame,
Tipping my fedora, playing The Game,
I said, “Milady, it would be uncouth,
You soiling your little hands on this booth.”
She then shrieked, “Benevolent sexism!
Toxic masculinity! Racism!
Check your privilege, cishet white male swine!”
I was hurt, posting on Reddit to whine,
But undaunted. I saw another girl,
So I cast my coat over a drain swirl.
I said, “Milady, do not walk on grime,
For dirtying your feet would be a crime.”
The lady winced, “Ew, go away you creep!
I’m meeting my boyfriend across the street!”
– Walking, she sighed, “Where’ve all the good men gone?” –
With me you could have been a happy swan.

In the conference hall, I sat on two seats
At once, waiting for the speakers to meet.
An ugly lesbian came to speak first,
complaining of all the feminist dirth:
Of male abuse, the pay gap, and others
Such as women in gaming – Oh brother!
She then finished by shrieking, “KILL ALL MEN!”
Then did I know what danger I was in.
The feminists cheered. A black woman spoke,
“Straight white men cause all violence. We are woke
To our oppression. You should check yourself
Before we show up should you wreck yourself!”
The women cheered, “DOWN WITH MEN! DOWN WITH MEN!
DOWN WITH MEN! DOWN WITH MEN! DOWN WITH ALL MEN!”
A terrible wonder beheld my eyes;
An idol of Baphomet they did rise!
Alex Jones was right! They’re turning the frogs gay!
They worship Satan, to my deep dismay!
They made nine-eleven an inside job!
They incurred the wrath of the brainwashed mob!
The High Priestess then took a newborn boy
To circumcise it, to make it their toy!
How could feminists do this to us men,
Brutalize neckbeards again and again?
I am a neckbeard. Do I not have eyes?
And hands? Poison me, and do I not die?
Tickle me, and I laugh. Mock me, I screed.
If you prick me, bully, do I not bleed?

That was enough! Roaring as Achilles,
I drew my katana named Damycles.
While the jocks partied, I studied the blade.
When they bedded girls, the blockchain I made.
I alone cultivated inner strength.
Barbarians pound the gate at arm’s length,
And the dumb jocks now dare ask me for help?
I quote Nietzsche as I chastise those whelps!
I then did battle with the High Priestess,
Who changed into a harpy to my distress.
The other females shrieked and roared, changing
Into harpies to cast me their loathing.
For days did I slay the harpies with sword,
Splattering the hall with blood, sick, and gore.
When I did, the lone knight, become fatigued,
Spying the last harpies, to do the deed
I drew forth the arrows of Heracles
And prayed to Athena, so she was pleased.
Hearing me, she did poison the tips,
Making deadly weapons of arrow sticks.
I shot ten volleys, and ten harpies died,
Splattering bird droppings before they laid.
The Queen Harpy shrieked, driving towards me.
I cut off her head, claiming victory.

I did rejoice in Perseus’ name,
But then I woke up and saw nothing changed.
I fell asleep while on Reddit posting.
The cursed feminists are still blogging.
I’m still a virgin, with sweating fat rolls
And a neckbeard; all I can do is troll.
I ate Doritos, then sipped Mountain Dew,
Shook a My Little Pony shirt anew.
Cuddling my waifu, thus did this brony
Go online to watch My Little Pony.
Hark, my brothers! The old battle is done,
But new battles are out there to be won!

Star Wars the Last Jedi – Belated Review

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Seeing the Movie:
The Last Jedi caused bitter strife among Star Wars fans ever since it first came out, and it will probably do so until the heat death of the galaxy. I saw The Last Jedi with my father last December partly for that reason, to see what annoyed the crying manbabies this time, and I liked the film on the whole. Even my father liked it, saying it was different from the other Star Wars movies. I found his comment striking because he hardly likes anything; he even trash talks Shakespeare and Mozart for being commercial artists, which he is right.

But commercial artists are not bad artists by nature. We admire Shakespeare and Mozart for good reasons while Disney, a big businessman, keeps making enchanting powerful fairy tales to this day, despite being dead for fifty-two years. Not even death cheated Disney, so I am not too surprised he claimed Star Wars as his own, and The Last Jedi is the fruit of his labors.

I saw The Last Jedi again, this time with a friend, about a week ago, and I still like the film for all its faults. I would say the Last Jedi is excellent when dealing with the larger difficult themes but is weak with details in the plot. Whether you like the film or not depends if you spot the larger themes and, if you do, whether it outshines the plot holes.

What Critics and Audience Say:
I checked Rotten Tomatoes for a good sample of critic and audience reviews, one that reflects of the mood of the public I see a stark difference, not in what critics and fans saw in The Last Jedi, but how they saw it. Critics see movies with trained eyes, seeking all the things your high school English teacher taught you to see in stories: motifs, symbols, characters, motives, plot, development, and so on. They see the film from a distance, with their head more than their heart.

But fans see franchise films from a very close point of view; looking for the characters they love so dearly, they want the franchise to be consistent more than anything else, but while they are deeply involved in the story they are also shortsighted. Film directors carry a burden because of this, where they must struggle to make a new movie like the old movie, but add enough new things to make the new movie a new movie. The Force Awakens is too timid, so fans complain of it being a rehash of A New Hope, while The Last Jedi is too bold, so fans feel betrayed by Disney. The directors cannot win; the fans know this, and enjoy holding the unfair advantage.

The critics gave the Last Jedi rather positive reviews, sometimes with too much optimism. Leah Pickett of the Chicago Reader discusses the themes in The Last Jedi shared with the other Star Wars films [1]. Christopher Orr from the Atlantic discusses how director Rian Johnson approached the film, by toying with the themes seen throughout the Star Wars franchise and confounding our expectations [2]. Ron Gonsalves from E Film Critic makes the most insightful review, pointing out how The Last Jedi subverts the Hero’s Tale, a classic archetype that forms the backbone of the original trilogy [3].

So what did the audience say? Well, some people were intelligent, some not. Sanjay Rema and Phil Hubbs criticized the Last Jedi for its many plot holes, which Hubbs listed in lengthy detail [4]. The Internet talk show host known as Destiny explained how the movie did not properly justify the subversions in it [5]. Meanwhile, Plinkett and friends from Red Letter Media whined for 47 minutes how the film was only about failure, with the moral being “don’t try anything” [6]. As for the racist morons who hate Finn for being black, they are the source of my contempt.

My Review:
What did I think about The Last Jedi? I will describe the movie’s faults first, its virtues second.

Rey’s character jumps at me first: she grew up on the wasteland planet Jakku but speaks with a perfect British accent, as if she lived her whole live on wealthy Coruscant. A woman who trades junk for bread in the middle of nowhere is a coarse creature, Daisy Ridley homeless, not Daisy Ridley without makeup. If she must have an English accent, it better be cockney. Her power in the Force and skills with the blade are absurdly advanced despite her small amount of training, something many fans pointed out.

I found it weird when Leah, blasted into space, uses the Force to fly back to safety. There is no technical fault in the scene: you can indeed survive in outer space for a few minutes and Leah has the Force, as much as Luke does, to perform a superhuman feat if she needs to. I can only justify Leah for her Marry Poppins act if she uses the Force in next film to fulfill such an extreme foreshadowing.

Rose and Finn’s subplot is, as fans claimed, the weakest in the film, which I agree. But the subplot has to exist, to give Finn something to do and a way for the Resistance to escape the First Order. On the good end, it explores how businessmen profit from war by selling weapons to different armies, not caring who wins. On the bad end, we brush that theme for only a few seconds and never hear from it again. I like Rose; she is adorable, but she acts at times like a righteous liberal stereotype.

I think Rose is really cute, and actress Kelly Tran even cuter, and I still cannot fathom why so many fans hate her guts. Is Rose the best writ character in Star Wars? Clearly not, but neither are Boba Fett or Admiral Ackbar; the latter is a walking Internet meme but little more, but fans collect Boba Fett action figures and shed bitter tears when Ackbar dies.

And what of the virtues, the difficult themes I mentioned earlier? For one, it is Luke’s character. In Star Wars Legends (no longer canon), Luke creates a new Jedi Order, fights several new Sith Lords, and gains godlike powers in the Force – and people complain about Rey! It rehashes the old religious war between Jedi and Sith, taking the Star Wars franchise nowhere. Most of the Legends storyline is stagnant; even the technology barely improves, and the archetypal themes of Star Wars are rarely improved on with any depth.

When creating Star Wars, George Lucas avoided making Space Rambo characters like Flash Gordon and James Kirk, but instead made characters who were weak and insecure. Luke was a whiny teenager and Darth Vader was sick depressed man in an iron mask. Making the older Luke into a disgruntled hermit makes sense, since the old hippies who did not sell out to the establishment become a kind of strange outcast. Luke does not become Space Rambo like he does in Legends but is punished for his hubris. In trying to rebuild the Jedi Order, he destroyed it, having the same Error as Yoda and Obi-Wan did.

Ever since Disney took over Star Wars, he has undermined the old morals of good versus evil. The Jedi failed so often because they feared the Dark Side of the Force, the primal intense selfish passions all humans have, and in doing so they cut off the deeper needs we have that make life worth living. They often remind me of 19th century puritans who think if you masturbate you will fall into a path of crime and decadence. Deep in the past, the Jedi and Sith were of one school, made of students who used all aspects of the Force. It only makes sense for Star Wars to overcome its Manichean philosophy to go to the future.

Some fans complain of the First Order being a rehash of the Empire, but that is the point. I write these words in a time when fascists have resurged in mainstream politics, aiming to commit the same crimes their fathers did: to strengthen an oppressive government, to expel nonwhites from the country, to subjugate women, to cull the country of “degenerates”, and so on. General Hux and Kylo Ren, as chiefs of the First Order, wish to oppress the galaxy as the Empire did, but with bigger weapons of war. One fan on Facebook called General Hux a screaming Neo Nazi buffoon, but that is the point of his character.

I also like the plot twist with the Codebreaker. Rose and Finn find a shady man, the Codebreaker, who promises to deactivate a tracking program in the First Order’s flagship, allowing the Resistance to escape. Yet the Codebreaker also turns over his clients to the First Empire to gain a reward for their capture, not caring of the fate of either faction. Fans who have seen the Original Trilogy were trained to see shady allies of the hero, like Han Solo, as a “thief with a heart of gold”, meaning he had his heart in the right place all along and could be redeemed. But the Codebreaker acts like an actual criminal mercenary, not giving a damn of anyone’s fate but his own.

Maybe the best way I could describe The Last Jedi would be “growing pains”. I give the movie a 7/10, for having mixed feelings for such a tricky work, but liking it anyway. I wait for the next Star Wars movie with apprehension, hoping it finishes the Sequel Trilogy with a good taste in my mouth. Let it be so.

Other Reviewers:
1. Pickett, Leah. “Luke Skywalker Still Has Lessons to Learn in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”Chicago Reader, 20 Dec. 2017, http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/star-wars-the-last-jedi-luke-skywalker/Content?oid=37051070.

2. Orr, Christopher. “The Last Jedi: The Best Star Wars Movie Since 1980?” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 14 Dec. 2017, http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/12/the-last-jedi-may-be-the-best-star-wars-movie-since-the-empire-strikes-back/548363/?utm_source=feed.

3. Gonsalves, Ron. “Overall Rating.” Movie Review – Star Wars: Episode VIII : The Last Jedi – EFilmCritic, 3 Apr. 2018, http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=28770&reviewer=416.

4. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” (2017) – Rotten Tomatoes, 25 Apr. 2018, http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/star_wars_the_last_jedi/#audience_reviews.

5. Destiny. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Review with Kyle, Devin Nash & MrMouton.” YouTube, 16 Dec. 2017, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNU_5og95fs&t=4865s.

6. RedLetterMedia. “Half in the Bag: The Last Last Jedi Review.” YouTube, 19 Dec. 2017, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9hwGZFPSmw.

Chomsky Critiques the News Part 2: America Bombs Laos

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While traveling with Chomsky, I stop by page 213 in his book Who Rules the World , where Chomsky critiques another article from the New York Times, “One Woman’s Mission to Free Laos of Millions of Unexploded Bombs” from journalist Thomas Fuller. Chomsky seems to not take issue with the article as a whole, where Fuller describes the efforts of Ms. Channapha, the Laos born woman who founded the activist group Legacies of War and lobbied Congress to raise $12 million so she could remove the dormant cluster bombs America had dropped on Laos from 1964-1973 during the Vietnam War.

Cluster bombs are some of the deadliest weapons of modern war. Not only did we build the bombs well to destroy a wide range of land, we also built the bombs badly so most of them would not even explode at the right time. What we get, or rather what the Laos people get, is a war unending, where children of 8 years still get blown to bits by striking a dormant bomb while farming or playing in the fields. Whether we designed cluster bombs to lay dormant for decades out of cruelty or botched them to not explode out of incompetence is beside the point. We protract the Vietnam War to this day.

Ms. Channapha got involved with Laos when she saw drawings of the Laos bombings, created by the refugees who witnessed the mass slaughter firsthand. The activist Fred Branfman later collected the drawings, and used them to disclose the Laos bombings, then secret, to the American people to oppose the Vietnam War. When I read the Fuller article, I get the “activist hero story” vibe you see in a lot of news stories; a spunky underdog dares to “make a difference” in the world against huge odds, with only a shoebox operation to work from, armed only with charm, conviction, and persistence, waking us up to the Laos tragedies [1].

Next, we will begin a “conversation” about war and foreign policy, things not even the rulers of the world fully understand and do little but make a few token gestures. Meanwhile, we bomb children in Iran using drones. Obama paid Laos a visit, shed a few tears, spent a few pennies to clear out the bombs and, his ablution complete, returned to the Oval Office to continue spending half the federal budget on the army [2]. Rinse. Lather. Repeat. Business as usual.

The Vietnam War, the theater of war behind the bombings on Las, was Machiavellian politics as usual. A boilerplate history to jog our memories: Communist militants formed the People’s Army of Vietnam in 1944, then drove away the French and Japanese colonists occupying Vietnam at the time in 1949. Around the same time, the anticommunists formed a rival faction. Thus Vietnam split in two, a communist North Vietnam and a republic South Vietnam. America and the Soviet Union soon got involved with the two Vietnams, hoping to use them as pawns in their political game. The Soviet Union sided with North Vietnam, which wanted to reunite Vietnam as a communist country, and America sided with South Vietnam, which wanted to stop the spread of communism in Southeast Asia.

Laos faced a similar struggle as Vietnam, with the communist Pathet Lao army battling the Royal Lao Army for control of the country. North Vietnam soon took advantage of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos, using it to send supplies to the communist troops deep in South Vietnam. America got wind of the communists’ strategy and started bombing the Ho Chi Minh Trail in 1964 to snuff out the communists, hitting the Plain of Jars in the crossfire, killing the hundreds of thousands of Laos farmers who lived there.

None of this news or history disturbs Chomsky too much, since he knows more than anyone else how we Americans do foreign policy, but one line from Fuller’s article did annoy him. Fuller wrote, “ The targets were North Vietnamese troops — especially along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a large part of which passed through Laos — as well as North Vietnam’s Laotian Communist allies.” Fuller is correct in fact, as American bombers did nail a few communists here and there, but he covers the greater truth, something more sinister.

Chomsky quotes Branfman from Voices From the Plain of Jars [3], “One of the most shattering revelations about the bombing was discovering why it had so vastly increased in 1969, as described by the refugees. I learned that after President Johnson had declared a bombing halt over North Vietnam in November 1968, he had simply diverted the plains into Northern Laos. There was no military reason for doing so. It was simply because, as US Deputy Chief of Mission Monteagle Stearns testified to the US Committee on Foreign Relations in 1969, ‘Well, we had all those planes sitting around and couldn’t just stay there with nothing to do. [4]’”

I was shocked when I first read the quote, and I searched for all the sources I could to verify it, and indeed I have four sources: Chomsky in Who Rules the World , Branfman in Voices From the Plain of Jars , Kurlantzick in A Great Place to Have a War [5], and Branfman again from the Zinn Education Project [6]. Sadly, I could not find any direct source online, as I would have liked to read the entire transcript of the Committee of 1969, but while I did not dig up gold I did unearth other precious jewels. I would love to cover myself with a blanket, sip a hot chocolate, and flip over the Pentagon Papers one evening [7]. William Beecher, in his 1969 article for the New York Times, writes that President Nixon would not allow his ground commanders to deploy infantry in Laos and Cambodia following the air raids, which began in secret in 1964 until Branfman exposed the them in 1969, making this article a good cross reference to Branfman [8].

I would like to make several comments on Branfman’s quote. Fuller’s error lies not in lying but omitting the truth. While America did at first bomb Laos to attack the Pathet Lao and the North Vietnam communist armies, she ramped up the bombing on Laos after it made a truce with North Vietnam in 1968. People in New York love to complain about the propagandists at Fox News but less often about the propagandists of the New York Times, probably because the staff at Fox News is so blundering. A competent propagandist does not use lies but gaps in our knowledge and truths that blur our convictions, then works from there to fill in the blanks, creating an opinion for his followers.

Obama worked good propaganda when he visited Laos in 2016. He said to the world, in effect, “We Americans are deeply sorry for the slaughter and mass destruction we caused to the Laos people. We acted from misguided beliefs and ignorance; we knew not what we did. We learned our lesson and will never savage another people with such pointless cruelty again – Honest! Pinky swear!” The Laos people, of course, do not buy it, neither do the Vietnamese people, nor the Iranian people, nor the Serbian people, nor the American natives. This trick is getting old.

Our cruelty against the Laos is less from malice and more from ignorance. Lyndon Johnson and Monteagle Stearns did not seek to harm any farmers when they decided to bomb Laos more intensely; they simply did not care. We see this theme again and again in American history, when only rich white property owners count as people while everyone else simply do not matter, but I will leave that specific truth aside. Howard Zinn in A People’s History of the United States and Chomsky in Who Rules the World cover that history, past and present respectively, far better than I ever could.

Neither can you single out America as the only tyrant in the world and, if you do, you are a naïve reader. America is merely an empire and a typical one at that, like China today, like the British Empire not so long ago, like the Aztec Empire a few centuries ago, like the Roman Empire of revered antiquity, like the Egyptian Empire long before that. America, like all empires, is a business first and foremost; the market must constantly expand, we must seize more and more wealth from the earth and the spoils of other nations to meet the bottom line. Otherwise, civilization will collapse. How then, dear reader, will you get a new iPhone at the Apple Store or cheap coffee at the local deli or diner? Our enormous wealth comes with a price, and people we never see, like the Laos farmers in the Plain of Jars, pay that price.

We average Joes aid the Empire all the time, either passively consuming its products or actively managing the Empire’s business machine, which politics and the military naturally fall under. We do so not because we are wicked but because we need to eat, as the serpent must eat newborn chicks to avoid starving.

Of course, we cannot speak of our slavish needs so rudely. The idiot obeys God, carrying the white man’s burden on his shoulders, bringing “civilization” to the savages while abroad, and defending the Crown justified by Divine Right while home. The other idiot believes we can do away with all that nasty business if only we elect the right presidents, restrict the greedy businessman with the right laws, enforce more human rights for the poor, women, and nonwhites with more bureaucracy, and have more “conversations”. The cynic waifs the matter away with her hand; she knows all cruelty but thinks our government is the least bad thing out there – then she takes Prozac to dull her depression.

But what of the Laos people themselves? If I do not speak of them, I treat them as nonpersons, which justifies our American attitude of “the whole world is about me”. To start crudely, from the raw data of the Laos bombings: America dumped over 270 million cluster bombs from 1964-1973, 80 million of cluster bombs did not detonate, only 1% of dormant bombs have been destroyed to this day, America spent $13.3 million a day bombing Laos while it spent only $4.9 million dollars a year to clean up the mess [9].

As I said before, we protract the Vietnam War to this day. On the 21 st of March of 2017, two children named Seng Lee and Lab Lee found a metal ball when walking home from school, unaware it was a dormant bomb. When Lab dropped the ball it exploded, killing her instantly and horribly injuring the twelve people around her at the time. The last people to perish from the Laos bombings died just last year; on the 5 th of August of 2017, two farmers named Phone and Abo tried dismantling a dormant bomb to harvest its metal, but the bomb exploded, killing both men instantly [10].

Branfman first saw the Laos people in 1969, five years after President Johnson began bombing the country, and formed deep relations with them. He became very close to the village elder, Paw Thou Douang, who was also the leader of the village Buddhist congregation, a medic, farmer, and local spokesman for the Pathet Lao during the Vietnam War. He also interviewed the many Laos villagers he befriended during his stay, which allows us the rare gift of hearing a people tell their story in their own words, without the need of a privileged middleman such as me.

A nurse, 26 years old at the time of the bombings, described the lives of the Laos farmers: “ Around that village of mine were green and beautiful mountains, and the land and the fields my neighbors had sweated over and labored on since the time of my ancestors. My neighbors were all farm­ers, honest and hardworking. Our happiness was full and over­flowing because we were content with our lives, even though we lived in the wilderness.”

A farmer of 39 years describes life before the bombings: “ Travel between villages was easy because there were so many all close together. Boys and girls playing the flute and enjoying themselves in the village was easy. When it came time to work the fields, we went to work together. We shared the labor in a fulfilling way for us young people. When the field work was finished, we joined in the yearly festivities with the sounds of singing, dancing and laugh­ter.”

Other Laos villagers told Branfman horror stories of the American bombings. One refugee said: “ There wasn’t a night when we thought we’d live until morning, never a morning we thought we’d sur­vive until night. Did our children cry? Oh, yes, and we did also. I just stayed in my cave. I didn’t see the sunlight for two years. What did I think about? Oh, I used to repeat, ‘Please don’t let the planes come, please don’t let the planes come, please don’t let the planes come.’ … The past has pelted away. Our lives have passed like a dream. There is nothing which can make up for the sorrow.”

The same nurse of 26 years later wrote: “We who were young took our sweat and our strength, which should have been spent raising food in the rice fields and forests to sustain our lives, and squandered it digging holes to protect ourselves. For many days and nights, having enough food to survive on became a gigantic problem, which pressed upon our hearts. The fields, paddy and seedbeds all became bomb craters. All that remained for our people were sad faces, and tired and weak hearts, disgusted with hating the war, which was like a large stone weighing upon us. We could not understand or imagine why something like this could happen.”

Meanwhile, the same farmer of 39 years could not understand why America would treat his people so horribly: “In all our years, we had known no more than the word “airplane.” We were all heavy hearted and mournful almost to the point of losing our minds. The other villagers and I got together to consider this thing. We hadn’t done anything, nor harmed anyone. We had raised our crops, celebrated the festivals and maintained our homes for many years. Why did the planes drop bombs on us, impoverishing us this way?”

A Laos woman of 30 years pleads: “Why then don’t we people love one another? Why don’t we live together in equality? Why don’t we build happiness and progress together? In reality, whatever happens, it is only the innocent who suffers. And as for the others, do they know all the unimaginable things happening in this war? Do they?” [11]

– A few critiques, if I may. I get suspicious when I read something that looks like an ideal account of poor people, like the Laos describing their village life before the bombings. It sounds too much like the noble savage cliché, which touches the heart of a simple person but makes the cynic untrusting. Chomsky, in his book, misattributes the quote of the refugee as a quote of the nurse, at least going by my source [12].

While the plea of the Laos woman of 30 years does sound like the liberal cliché “Why can’t we all live together?”, the woman does raise pressing questions. Why are we so hostile to people who look slightly different than us. Why do we swindle, plunder, and destroy other people to build empires, only to feel profoundly unhappy and helpless, when we could live a better life? Why do we have coercive and abusive relationships as the norm when we could have positive and genuine connections with each other, and live as complete human beings? These are deep questions; people wrote volumes addressing them, so I certainly cannot answer them in a small article. –

Branfman gives another striking personal account of Laos when Chomsky himself visited the country to report on the American bombings. Chomsky quickly befriended Paw Thou Douang and his family, as Branfman did, and had dinner together. Branfman describes Chomsky as listening in earnest, with his heart as well as his ears, while Paw Thou tells the story of the lives of the villagers before, during, and after the American bombings. Chomsky wept upon hearing the story.

This shocked me almost as much as it shocked Branfman himself, and Branfman goes into more detail. He describes how journalists from the New York Times would visit the Laos, interview them for a while, then leave with the scoop to write an article that, like the Fuller article I cited above, would mildly provoke the reader but little beyond that. I cannot help but contrast the warm and earnest Laos village elder with the sophisticated and cynical journalist from the New York Times. The two people reveal the stark differences between the rustic and civilized human, between the untamed and domestic animal. Chomsky, in an unconscious way, built a bridge we can cross to meet our past on the other side [13].

Again, I suspect Branfman makes an ideal of the Laos people, but I do think he gets the basic truth right, that the Laos villagers have something we do not because we somehow lost it.

In the next article, I will cover the Obama doctrine of 2017, including his foreign policy and how it relates to the Vietnam War. As I said before, the Vietnam War is protracted, but is itself the protracted Korean War war before it, which is a protracted war before it, which is a protracted war before it…

Works Cited:

1. Fuller, Thomas. “One Woman’s Mission to Free Laos From Millions of Unexploded Bombs.”The New York Times, 5 Apr. 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/06/world/asia/laos-campaign-to-clear-millions of unexploded-bombs.html.

2. Labott, Elise. “Obama Announces $90 Million to Clear Laos’ Unexploded Bombs.” CNN, Cable News Network, 6 Sept. 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/06/asia/laos-obama-aid-package/index.html.

3. Chomsky, Noam. Who Rules the World? Penguin, 2017. pg. 215

4. Branfman, Fred. Voices From the Plain of Jars: Life Under an Air War. University of Wisconsin Press, 2013. pg. 36

5. Kurlantzick, Joshua. A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA. Simon & Schuster, 2018. pgs. 178 – 180

6. “Voices from the Plain of Jars: Life Under an Air War.” Zinn Education Project, zinnedproject.org/materials/voices-from-the-plain-of-jars/.

7. “Pentagon Papers.” National Archives and Records Administration, http://www.archives.gov/research/pentagon-papers.

8. Beecher, William. “Raids in Cambodia by U.S. Unprotested.” 9 May 1969. https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu//IMG/Beecherstory.pdf

9. Legacies of War. “Secret War in Laos.” Legacies of War, 2018,

legaciesofwar.org/about-laos/secret-war-laos/.

10. Vongvirath, Manininh. “Casualties & Survivors.” Legacies of War, 2018, legaciesofwar.org/news-room/casualties-survivors/.

11. “Voices from the Plain of Jars: Life Under an Air War.” Zinn Education Project, zinnedproject.org/materials/voices-from-the-plain-of-jars/.

12. Chomsky, Noam. Who Rules the World? Penguin, 2017. pg. 214

13. Branfman, Fred. “When Chomsky Wept.” Salon, Salon.com, 15 June 2012, http://www.salon.com/2012/06/17/when_chomsky_wept/.

Chomsky Critiques the News Part One: “A Rape On Campus”

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I feel like going down a rabbit hole whenever I write a news story. Hence why I’m reluctant writing anything that could be called journalism, because most journalists these days must research the Internet to find credible sources, and doing so is like getting lost in a labyrinth; an honest skeptical writer easily gets overwhelmed by all the information online.

I sometimes play a game where I follow online sources as far as I can, to see how far I can dig down in the mine before I hit the bottom. For instance, while doing research on The Rolling Stone’s article, “A Rape On Campus”, I hit a pit of PDFs of legal documents or get lost in a zone with nothing do with The Rolling Stone. You should try it sometime; sail into the sea and watch where the flighty winds take you.

For example, I begin with the Columbia Journalism Review article on the Rolling Stones[1], then follow a link to a source from the Huffington Post describing one of the high profile rape cases of the year 2013[2], then follow the link to Yale University’s Report of Complaints of Sexual Misconduct[3], then follow the link in the report to a Yale webpage storing all reports to the present day[4], which leads me back to Yale’s 2013 report. I reach a dead end.

Another example; I follow another link in the Huffington Post article, leading to an article about Yale facing a $165,000 Clery Act Fine[5] – I admit seeing Huffington Post site itself as a source gives me some suspicion and contempt, since right wing websites cite themselves and each other all the time to deceive gullible readers. – I follow a link to a Cornell Law School webpage describing a section of the Clery Act[6]. I have strayed far from Rolling Stones by this point, leaving the drug-addled hipsters in the basement to meet the poor unpaid interns in the office learning the fine arts of diffidence, greed, and trickery.

So why did I lure you into a wild mole chase for sources for a rape case four years old, and not cut to the chase, as a so-called good journalist should? Because I want to show you an important truth, that our knowledge of the world is unreal, that falling into error of bias or the snares of a propagandist i too easy, that we have no right in our so-called Information Age to hold confidence in our grasp of the truth. We must, instead, hold a severe suspicion to all the powers of the world, including the stories we tell our friends or write about in news articles, because no matter how you spin it, we are always taking someone’s word for it.

Enter Noam Chomsky, a scholar and activist who earned his fame rebuking our country’s fine statesmen for their commitment to justice, such as in his book Who Rules the World. While Chomsky spends most of his time describing our ceaseless wars against the poor at home and against the poor overseas, he devotes one chapter to critique The New York Times for one little day; April 6, 2015. He mentions an article from the Columbia Journalism Review critiquing the flawed Rolling Stones report on the campus rape of a student named Jackie in the University of Virginia in 2014, which also condemns our press for invention, plagiarism, and lack of skepticism[7].

Chomsky quickly moves on to discuss the New York Times articles regarding our imperial wars in Laos, Cuba, and Iran, subjects closer to him, to show more examples of invention and lack of skepticism in the press. I will devote this article to the Rolling Stones to show how an example of how journalists fail us in researching a rape case before showing how journalists fail us in reporting our grand global wars.

A boiler plate summary of the events to jog our memories; a student under the false name “Jackie” confesses to the journalist Sabrina Erdely the story of her rape, which occurred in a Phi Kappa Psi frat party hosted by a third year lifeguard named “Drew” on September 2012. Erdely sincerely cared for Jackie and published her article on The Rolling Stone called “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA”, but her story fell apart when police could not find more evidence for the case. Sean Woods, principal editor of the story, retracted the article[8].

What went wrong? Let us discuss the errors of Erdely and The Rolling Stones in a list fitting for BuzzFeed.

1. Erdely let her convictions cloud her judgment when researching Jackie’s rape case. As the Columbia Journalism Review states, men often rape women on campus, citing high-profile cases from Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Vanderbilt, and Florida. Erdely, rightly moved by compassion at the plight of those young women, rightly indignant at such injustice, vowed to report a compelling rape case, one that revealed “what it’s like to be on campus now… where not only is rape so prevalent but also that there’s this pervasive culture of sexual harassment/rape culture”[9]

History professor KC Johnson in Minding the Campus, who obtained a full recording of Erdely’s interview with Jackie[10] and cropped select moments to make his case[11], claimed Erdely and Jackie both held rigid beliefs; both despised fraternities, Erdely saying campus groups value so-called social capital more than the students’ safety[12] and Jackie wishing to punish fraternities for being chauvinist in general[13]. Erdely did hold righteous anger but she also held deep prejudice against people she judged abusive to women.

2. Erdely used only one source, her interview with Jackie, and did not bother sniffing around campus for more evidence, especially from people without bias. To Erdely, Jackie had “a stamp of credibility”, telling her everything she wanted to hear, so she took Jackie’s word for it. Without much surprise, she ran into many problems. For one, neither Erdely nor Rolling Stone could contact “Drew” to confirm if he even existed, and Erdely disparaged Jackie’s friends and Dean Nicole Eramo, which required her to present strong sources to prove her charges; otherwise it would be slander, which is what Erdely did in effect[14].

Neither did the police around campus find any evidence to support Erdely’s story. Haven Mohan, the first man Jackie claims to have raped her, never existed. Phi Kappa Psi never held a frat party the night of the rape. There was no evidence Jackie was assaulted by four men after she was raped. Jackie claimed the frat members assaulted two other women, which never happened. Lastly, Jackie did not help verify any details to the police.[15].

Erdely made an official apology on April 5, 2015, after Jackie’s rape case was refuted, confessing: “I did not go far enough to verify her story. I allowed my concern for Jackie’s well-being, my fear of re-traumatizing her, and my confidence in her credibility to take the place of more questioning and more facts. These are mistakes I will not make again.”[16]

I will not condemn Erdely too much, as rape cases are extremely difficult, by nature, to bring to justice. It is very hard for police and detectives to gather evidence; a woman who was raped must willingly undergo a second invasion of her person soon after the first offence made against her to collect evidence in a rape kit; women delay in pressing charges for years, if they press charges at all, as they fear the community will strike back at them, especially men; and traumas such as rape, by their nature, afflict a person’s memory of the event.

Still, a journalist can approach a rape victim in an adroit manner. Kristen Lombardi, the staff writer for Sexual Assault on Campus, for example, makes it clear to any victim who wishes an interview that she must collect evidence, obtain documents, and interview the accused person; yet she also allows victims the power to determine the time and place of the interview, giving them the room to speak when and where they feel comfortable[17].

You, if you are a tender reader, may find Lombardi cruel and unyielding for setting herself such strict boundaries when researching a rape victim’s case, but researching a case in such slapdash manner, as Erdely did, would be truly cruel, as it will ensure the rape victim the crime committed against her will never be brought to justice and make men more hostile to any woman who wishes to press charges in the future. Doing shoddy research in the name of justice only hurts the people who need justice the most.

Next article, I will cover Chomsky’s critique of the New York Times article about the American bombing of Laos during the Vietnam War, and how he sniffs out the propaganda America created about the war to justify it to her people.

[1] Coronel, Sheila, et al. “Rolling Stone’s Investigation: ‘A Failure That Was Avoidable.’” Columbia Journalism Review, 5 Apr. 2015, http://www.cjr.org/investigation/rolling_stone_investigation.php.

[2] Kingkade, Tyler. “Yale Fails To Expel Students Guilty Of Sexual Assault.” Huffington Post, 1 Aug. 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/01/yale-sexual-assault-punishment_n_3690100.html.

[3] Spangler, Stephanie S. “Yale University Report of Complaints of Sexual Misconduct Brought Forward from January 1, 2013 through June 30, 2013.” 31 July 2013, big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/FINAL_Jul2013.pdf.

[4] “Reports: Complaints of Sexual Misconduct.” Reports | Office of the Provost, Yale University, provost.yale.edu/title-ix/reports.

[5] Kingkade, Tyler. Yale Faces $165,000 Clery Act Fine For Failing To Report Sex Offenses On Campus. Huffington Post, 15 May 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/15/yale-clery-act_n_3280195.html.

[6] “20 U.S. Code § 1092 – Institutional and Financial Assistance Information for Students.” LII / Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School, http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/20/1092.

[7] “One Day in the Life of a Reader of the New York Times.” Who Rules the World?, by Noam Chomsky, Peguin, 2017, p. 213.

[8] Coronel, Sheila, et al. “Rolling Stone’s Investigation: ‘A Failure That Was Avoidable.’” Columbia Journalism Review, 5 Apr. 2015, http://www.cjr.org/investigation/rolling_stone_investigation.php.

[9] Coronel, Sheila, et al. Rolling Stone & UVA: Columbia School of Journalism’s Report. Rolling Stone, 5 Apr. 2015, http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/a-rape-on-campus-what-went-wrong-20150405.

[10] Box, clarelocke.app.box.com/s/gr2awhxzywjard0fmjzi4jlgs9q2p2ub.

[11] Johnson, KC. “Erdely-Jackie Conversations.” Academic Wonderland, 24 Oct. 2016, academicwonderland.com/2016/10/24/erdely-jackie-conversations/.

[12] Schow, Ashe, and Ryan M. Kelly. “4 Things We’ve Learned about a Rolling Stone Author’s Rape Bias.” Washington Examiner, 24 Oct. 2016, http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/4-things-weve-learned-about-a-rolling-stone-authors-rape-bias/article/2605396.

[13] Johnson, KC. “THE ‘JACKIE’ INTERVIEW IN THE UVA FAKE RAPE.” Minding The Campus, 25 Oct. 2016, http://www.mindingthecampus.org/2016/10/the-jackie-interview-in-the-uva-fake-rape/.

[14] Coronel, Sheila, et al. “Rolling Stone’s Investigation: ‘A Failure That Was Avoidable.’” Columbia Journalism Review, 5 Apr. 2015, http://www.cjr.org/investigation/rolling_stone_investigation.php.

[15] “Cops Shoot Holes in Rolling Stone’s UVa Rape Story.” The Daily Beast, The Daily Beast Company, 23 Mar. 2015, http://www.thedailybeast.com/cops-shoot-holes-in-rolling-stones-uva-rape-story?ref=scroll.

[16] Sabrina Rubin Erdely, Writer of Rolling Stone Rape Article, Issues Statement. The New York Times, 5 Apr. 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/06/business/media/statement-from-writer-of-rolling-stone-rape-article-sabrina-erdely.html.

[17] Coronel, Sheila, et al. “Rolling Stone’s Investigation: ‘A Failure That Was Avoidable.’” Columbia Journalism Review, 5 Apr. 2015, http://www.cjr.org/investigation/rolling_stone_investigation.php.

 

My Best Yugioh The Duelists of the Roses Decks *REVISED*

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I created all decks (except the Exodia One) to be under the 757 deck cost. Not only am I able to play against every character in the game, I get a good challenge too. It’s amazing how limits can make you stronger. Still, I wish the game had a free duel option where you could duel anyone regardless of deck cost, where you could rack up XP but get no graveyard slot cards.

Power Plant Deck:
Queen of Autumn Leaves
730

3x Laughing Flower
2x Nekogal #1
2x Arlownay
2x Gorgon Egg
3x Green Phantom King
3x Dark Plant
3x Magician of Faith

3x Forest
3x Tremendous Fire
3x Rain of Mercy

3x Vile Germs
2x Electro-Whip
2x Cyber Shield

3x Mesmeric Control
3x Tears of the Mermaid

 The basic strategy is play lots of Queen of Autumn Leaves and power up with all my equip cards, Green Phantom King, Rain of Mercy, and Forest. Yet each low level monster I use has a purpose outside of fusion material. Nekogal #1 and Arlownay (with an equip) can be strong monsters in crush terrain. Gorgon Egg, being a fiend, can fuse with a plant monster to make Rose Specter of Dunn, because you can’t only make Queen of Autumn Leaves all the time and it has a little more raw strength. Dark Plant can make crush terrain when it is destroyed, killing your opponent’s strong monster.

I also use a burn tech-in to avoid getting frustrated when facing against Grandpa and Pegasus, opponents who gain a huge advantage protected within a citadel, and it easily helps you defeat any opponent. I used to run one copy of Earthshaker, which was fine but I discovered a better option. Mesmeric Control and Tear of the Mermaid decrease the power of your opponent’s monster, letting you attack them with your powered up monster for massive damage.

I have created a Queen of Autumn Leaves and a Rose Specter of Dunn with more than 4500 ATK every so often, which is no mean feat for a deck with such a low deck cost.

Pumpkin Patch Deck:
Pumpking the King of Ghosts
733

3x Dragon Zombie
3x Shadow Ghoul
3x Armored Zombie
3x Mammoth Graveyard
3x Fiend’s Hand

2x Rainbow Flower
2x Griggle
3x Dark Plant
3x Magician of Faith

3x Yami
3x Tremendous Fire

3x Violet Crystal

3x Mesmeric Control
3x Tears of the Mermaid

This deck follows a similar principle to the Power Plant Deck, fusing low level monsters and using power ups, making titan monsters with such low means. But I must play a little more slowly to set up one or two Pumpkings around the center of the board, then I can bring out zombie attackers that get powered up each turn. Yami and Violet Crystal make things a bit easier by giving my zombies an ATK boost.

Each low level monster has a purpose outside of fusion fodder. Dragon Zombie and Armored Zombie have high ATK for weak monsters. Mammoth Graveyard fuses with a zombie monster to create the powerful Great Mammoth of Goldfine. Fiend’s Hand and Dark Plant destroy the monsters that kill them. Even the lowly Griggle and Rainbow Flower work decently in crush terrain, especially when you fuse them with Fiend’s Hand. Magician of Faith can also fuse with Fiend’s Hand to make Magicial Ghost, a strong monster for crush terrain.

Shadow Ghoul is the most useful high level monster, able to sneak in labyrinth terrain. Mesmeric Control and Tears of the Mermaid serve the same aggressive purpose as the Power Plant Deck; a strong offense is the best defense after all, while Tremendous Fire serves the save burn tech-in.

Graveyard Revenge Deck:
Swordstalker
740

3x Swordstalker
2x Wicked Dragon with the Ersatz Head
2x Petit Dragon
3x Curtain of the Dark Ones
3x Time Wizard
3x Ancient Jar
3x Magician of Faith
3x Kuriboh
3x Dancing Elf
3x Dark Plant
3x Swordsman from a Foreign Land

3x Tremendous Fire
3x Ookazi

3x Shadow Spell

This deck is somewhat different. It focuses on using your monsters as fodder for Swordstalker, which gains ATK from monsters in your graveyard. You can make the best fodder by fusing your lowly monsters – some of the lowest in the entire game – many times to make powerful fusions, the strongest being Thousand Dragon with 2400 ATK, Mystical Sand with 2100 ATK, Stone Dragon with 2000 ATK, Rose Specter of Dunn with 2000 ATK, and Dark Elf with 2000 ATK.

All these monsters can curb stomp most of the forces your opponent brings against you, especially in wasteland terrain, which many maps have. Plus, the more fusions you make, the more extra monsters you add to the graveyard. I often make 4 combo fusions, and even 5 combo fusions at times, letting me add a max of 10 monsters (after the final fusion monster gets killed off in battle).

In addition, I can make lower level fusions that are still strong in crush terrain, the best being Bean Soldier with 1400 ATK, Celtic Guardian with 1400 ATK, Minomushi Warrior with 1300 ATK, and Dragoness the Wicked Knight with 1200 ATK.

But my weak monsters have other uses. Dark Plant and Swordsman from a Foreign Land avenge their deaths against the monsters that kills them; Kuriboh takes no battle damage, letting you use him to poke around your opponent’s field a bit; Magician of Faith aids with the burn tech-in, as always.

Shadow Spell is a little stronger than my usual traps, but I need a more powerful dose since my monsters don’t get any benefits from equip spells.

Low Burn Deck:
Tactical Warrior
741

3x Magician of Faith

3x Graverobber
3x Tremendous Fire
3x Ookasi
3x Final Flame
3x Red Medicine
3x Magic Neutralizing Force Field
3x Dimensionhole
3x Paralyzing Potion
3x Cursebreaker
1x Dark-Piercing Light

3x Mesmeric Control
3x Tears of the Mermaid
3x Infinite Dismissal

This deck is more a curiosity than a serious deck. The whole deck is made of burn spells and the cards that let me use them more than once. Everything else is partly fodder for me to discard as I speed through the deck to find my burn spells, yet they all have a use of their own, because I really don’t like putting useless cards like Fake Traps and ritual spells.

Red Medicine lets me heal a bit. Paralyzing Potion and my traps buy me some time by spellbinding the opponent’s monsters. Cursebreaker and Magic Neutralizing Force Field takes away any power up my opponent uses. Dimensionhole lets my deck master flee to a safer place.

Burn Exodia Deck:
Exodia the Forbidden One
1938

1x Left Arm of the Forbidden One
1x Left Leg of the Forbidden One
1x Right Arm of the Forbidden One
1x Right Leg of the Forbidden One
3x Fiend Reflection #2
3x Magician of Faith

3x Tremendous Fire
3x Mimicat
3x Graverobber
3x Monster Reborn
3x Solomon’s Lawbook
3x Time Seal
3x Earthshaker
3x Dian Keto the Cure Master

3x Riryoku

3x Magic Jammer

You can only get Riryoku with Gameshark, but you can make a version of this deck without cheats by using Ookasi instead. You will just have to do a lot of grinding. Regardless, this deck always works for two goals at once: to set up Exodia pieces and to burn your opponent, and I discard lots of cards in the process. Solomon’s Lawbook and Fiend Reflection #2 serve both purposes very well, both giving me another turn to draw cards.

Naturally, Mimicat, Graverobber, and Monster Reborn let me revive Exodia pieces and burn spells many times. Each leftover card has another purpose: Time Seal and Earthshaker interrupt my opponent’s marching army. Magic Jammer cancels out any spell my opponent can use to counter my burn tactics. Dian Keto heals me of any damage.

My Best Yugioh Forbidden Memories Decks *REVISED*

yugi_and_meteor_b__dragon_by_riomak-d2690qp

Posted below are the best decks I could ever build for Yugioh Forbidden Memories, both for a deck I built without using any Gameshark cheats and a deck I built using cheats.

Natural Deck:
3x Meteor Black Dragon
3x Blue-Eyes White Dragon
3x Twin-Headed Thunder Dragon
3x Sanga of the Thunder
3x Red-Eyes Black Dragon
3x Meteor Dragon

 3x Megamorph
3x Bright Castle
3x Dragon’s Treasure
3x Invigoration
3x Salamandra

3x Raigeki
1x Umi

 3x Widespread Ruin

 I altered this deck by taking out the 3x Seiyaryu and 3x Skull Knight, replacing them with 3x Salamandra and 3x Widespread Ruin. I did not have enough power ups to beat Seto 3rd (with his Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon) consistently enough for my taste. Yes, I beat him with my old deck on a 20:1 ratio basis, but I beat with him with my new deck around a 25:1 ratio. It is slightly higher, and I can’t figure out any way to get higher without cheats. This is my very limit.

Skull Knight is a good tech-in for beating Meteor Black Dragons and Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragons, but I didn’t have room for him. Same with Seiyaryu; plus I don’t need it, since I have enough dragons to fuse with my Sanga of the Thunder to make Twin-Headed Thunder Dragons.

Widespread Ruin saved my life many times, since the opponent often has to waste a turn getting rid of it with Harpies’ Feather Duster or fodder. This gives me a little more time to get a good hand so I can play a strong combo. I usually set it on the first turn, or set it to protect a strong monster I have in play so Seto 3rd (or Nitemare) can’t kill it with Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon. If you want to beat this game consistently, you must always be ready to jump against a Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon.

 Gameshark Deck:
3x Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon
3x Gate Gaurdian
3x Meteor Black Dragon
3x Black Luster Soldier
3x Magician of Black Chaos

3x Megamorph
3x Bright Castle
3x Dragon’s Treasure
3x Dark Energy
3x Sword of Dark Destruction

3x Raigeki
3x Swords of Revealing Light
1x Dark Hole

3x Widespread Ruin

I edited the Gameshark deck by giving it a more definite theme: dragons with dark warriors, so I could make the deck more consistent. I could more easily match my monster with the proper equip spell to make it stronger. Black Luster Soldier and Magician of Black Chaos are weaker than Perfectly Ultimate Great Moth and Black Skull Dragon but they can easily become stronger with equips. I traded some strength for lots of speed.

Black Luster Soldier is the strongest warrior in the game after Gate Guardian, and both monsters combine with both Dark Energy and Sword of Dark Destruction. Magician of Black Chaos works as a solid tech-in since you can give it an extra attack boost against a Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon or Perfectly Ultimate Great Moth by choosing the right guardian planets when you play it.

Skull Knight also works fine, since it can subvert your opponent’s Meteor Black Dragon with the Neptune guardian planet, but cannot repel a Black Skull Dragon. I would say Skull Knight is slightly more useful than Magician of Black Chaos, since Meteor Black Dragon is a bigger threat later in the game, but I wanted to give my deck a bit of Atem’s character by putting both his ace monsters in it. Too each his own.

Best Yugioh Forbidden Memories Deck (With Cheats)

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So you use a Game Shark to get the best cards in the game you cannot win naturally since grinding is soul-crushingly tedious? What is the best deck you can ever make? I have a suggestion:

Monsters:
3x Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon
3x Gate Guardian
3x Meteor B. Dragon
3x B. Skull Dragon
3x Blue-Eyes White Dragon
3x Magician of Black Chaos
3x Skull Knight

Equip Spells:
3x Bright Castle
3x Dark Energy
3x Dragon’s Treasure
3x Megamorph

Normal Spells:
3x Raigeki
3x Swords of Revealing Light
1x Yami

This deck has the strongest Dragon and DARK monsters possible in the game, especially Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon and Gate Guardian. I included B. Skull Dragon instead of Perfectly Ultimate Great Moth because you can equip the former with Dragon’s Treasure. Perfectly Ultimate Great Moth works too as it has more native strength but you can’t use it with half your equip spells, which makes me feel uneasy. 

Magician of Black Chaos and Skull Knight have strong guardian planets that help them slay the most powerful monsters your opponent can use against you. Both possess Mercury, helping them conquer Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon. Magician of Black Chaos has Mars, helping him defeat Perfectly Ultimate Great Moth and Skull Knight has Neptune, helping him defeat Meteor B. Dragon. They’re bascically anti-meta tech-ins in a time before the Yugioh metagame even existed.

You use the equip spells to power up your already colossal monsters to levels no computer opponent can match. You know you’re deep into this came when you consider 4500 ATK average and dismiss 3500 ATK as weak. Raigeki kills your opponent’s army and Swords of Revealing Light saves your life many times by stopping your opponent from attacking you for three turns. I included Yami in the deck to transform the field into a shadow terrain, giving Magician of Black Chaos and Skull Knight a boost.

Best Yugioh Forbidden Memories Deck (No Cheats)

meteor_black_dragon_by_andytantowibelzark-da9p5gc

I played enough Forbidden Memories for one lifetime. I finally reached my goal; I created the best possible deck I could without GameShark cheats. However, I did use Memory Cards to duplicate cards I won through grinding, though that does not count as a cheat.

You can’t win many of the best cards in the game no matter how hard you try, such as Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon and Swords of Revealing Light. You can only win them in the PC modified version of the game. Like all people who play the game without cheats on Play Station, I had to make do.

Monsters:
3x Meteor B. Dragon
3x Blue-Eyes White Dragon
3x Twin-Headed Thunder Dragon
3x Skull Knight
3x Sanga of the Thunder
3x Seiyaryu
3x Red-Eyes Black Dragon
3x Meteor Dragon

Equip Spells:
3x Bright Castle
3x Dragon’s Treasure
3x Invigoration
3x Megamorph

Normal Spells:
3x Raigeki
1x Umi

The monster lineup consists of Dragon and Thunder monsters, plus the many ways you can fuse cards to get such powerful monsters. The duelist Underlordtico created his own super powerful deck using Skull Knight, Metalzoa, and Zoa, focusing his deck on strong DARK monsters. I could not win Metalzoa, so I had to be original, and build my deck around Thunder monsters instead, a deck I think is more consistent.

Twin-Headed Thunder Dragon is a Thunder monster, but you can power it up with Dragon’s Treasure like the top two heavy hitters, plus it allows more fusions, making the deck more consistent. I tried meshing Dragons with DARK monsters myself but it didn’t pan out so well since the two classes are far apart from each other. Thunder and Dragons are closer.

The Equip Spells are the key to this deck because I can use them to easily power up my monsters beyond 4500 ATK to conquer Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon, the strongest monster your enemies can possibly use in the game. Raigeki is a staple as it wipes out all your opponent’s monsters. Umi is a unique card; a Spell that transforms the field into an ocean, boosting all my Thunder monsters.

My concern is Umi is too slow a card, but if I can pull it off I get a huge advantage over any opponent I face. It also rusts Metalzoas – I have no idea how Underlordtico got that card without cheats, unless he transferred it from a memory card with cheats.

Women’s March NYC ’18

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I went to the NYC Women’s March with two friends last Saturday. I was grateful the weather was merciful to us, and I enjoyed the company of several hundred protestors as we marched together for a broad common cause. I saw many people who seized my interest: a little girl protester with her own sign, a woman who cosplayed as lady justice, an old jaded woman who I loved meeting, and other people.

I have somewhat mixed feelings about the women’s march and politics in general. I think mass protests are badly needed in America in this day and age, and I am happy to be part of a larger movement, at least for two hours. But being part of a mass of people gives me discomfort because I fear the herd will sweep me away and mold me to be like everyone else.

You can’t avoid herds when dealing with politics of any kind, progressive activists and reactionary militants alike. You simply need people to clump together and believe in the same party line to make movements the same way moist air must clump together around a speck of dirt to form a drop of rain. I did not make that simile for no reason: ideologies are dirty by nature, crude at best and false at worst. And wherever there are sheeps, there are wolves hiding within the flock, pushing the same demands as we do for their occult goals.

Our dirty party line is this: Trump, his advisors, and followers are a brainwashed cult of lying, chauvinist scumbags while we are a righteous oppressed rebel group of average Joes returning democracy to the people. If we all wear pussy hats, chant the same lame lines, and lecture all the ignorant dolts on feminist theory the mean sexist pigs in power will listen to us and pass the right laws. Our beliefs regarding Trump and company are largely true but we will not bother to critique our politics, or our rivals’, with much care most of the time, and most of us have little interest in doing so. Most of us will content ourselves with marches and chants, feeling very proud of ourselves as great activists.

Of course everything I just said equally applies to all the Trump supporters too, and to the Bernie Bros., and to the alt right, and to the anarchists who want to crash the whole system down. I met a fringe of Trump supporters at Columbus Circle, of six people at most. The feminist protestors swarmed them like wasps to jump and scream at them like monkeys while the Trump supporters screeched and threw turds at them in return. The Trump protestors like to think themselves brave Spartans defending their sacred land from the barbaric Persian horde, but we share the same fantasy. It all depends on context: protestors in Texas appear the opposite as in New York, but the truth does not change.

Why did the protestors on the other side of the fence defend Trump? One old woman feared Muslim immigrants would enforce Sharia and destroy our way of life, insisting feminists and other liberals were hurting the women they swore to protect. An old man thought liberals in power privileged illegal immigrants who sneaked into the country over soldiers who gave life and limb to protect the country. An old Jewish man believed Trump would protect Israel from Palestinian terrorists. They may or may not be wrong but their concerns our valid; we should give them serious thought.

The other Trump allies were morons. A young gay man argued with my friend, insisting Trump did not persecute gays, but when my friend informed him Trump supported gay conversion therapy he could not respond. A black man condemned all the “fake news” the liberals made up to slander Trump and a whole conspiracy of lying mass media, then insisted we watch Fox News instead.

Conservative minorities are a fascinating breed of hypocrites: they complain how liberals always bring up their race or sex when arguing with them, but will freely bring up their race and sex to mislead anyone who opposes them. The young gay man said, “I’m gay too, and I support Trump! You want to control my thoughts, make me think exactly the same as you do, as you think every gay person should!” Dude, drop your nonsense party line about Orwell. If you did not read anything beyond 1984, shut up.

Politics as usual.

 

 

 

Matilda’s 2017 Reading List

“What sort of a book would you like to read next?” Mrs. Phelps asked.

Matilda said, “I would like a really good one that grownups read, a famous one. I don’t know any names.”

Mrs. Phelps looked along the shelves, taking her time. She didn’t quite know what to bring out. “How,” She asked herself. “Does one choose a famous grownup book for a four year old girl?” Her first thought was to pick a volume by Charles Dickens or some other really good book that grownups read, but for some reason she found herself instinctively walking past that particular section. “Try this.” She said at last. “It’s very famous and very good. If it’s too long for you just let me know and I will find you something a bit shorter and a bit easier.”

“The Road to Wigan Pier,” Matilda read. “By George Orwell. I’d love to try it.”

“I must be mad.” Mrs. Phelps told herself, but to Matilda she said, “Of course you may try it.”

Over the next year, under Mrs. Phelp’s watchful and compassionate eye, Matilda read he following books:

The Road to Wigan Pier, by George Orwell
Politics and the English Language, by George Orwell
Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift
Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James Loewen
Candide, by Francois Arouet
Tale of a Tub, by Jonathan Swift
Animal Farm, by George Orwell
There is Life After College, by Jeffrey Selingo
LinkedIn Profile Optimization for Dummies, by Donna Serdula
Getting From College to Career, by Lindsay Pollack
Job U, by Nicholas Wynman
What is the Color of Your Parachute?, by Richard Bolles
Juliette, by Donatien Sade
Milton: A Poem in Two Books, by William Blake
Jerusalem! The Real Life of William Blake, by Tobias Churton
Who Rules the World?, by Noam Chomsky
A Grief Observed, by Clive Lewis
Endgame, by Derrick Jensen
Contesting Nietzsche, by Christa Acampora
The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan
A Critique of Atlas Shrugged, by Adam Lee
Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World, by Leo Damrosch
All Art is Propaganda, by George Orwell
The Screwtape Letters, by Clive Lewis
Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach
Women & Power, by Mary Beard
The Conference of the Birds, by Farid Attar

It was formidable list and by now Mrs. Phelps was filled with wonder and excitement, but it was probably a good thing she did not allow herself to be completely carried away by it all.

“I learned from reading all these books that the world is a horrible place ruled by slavedrivers who have been perfecting the art of governing over thousands of years.” Matilda said. “To govern all civilizations, you must master the skills of manipulating the people through lies and coercion; there are no exceptions to this rule.”

Is all that true, Mrs. Phelps?”

Mrs. Phelps nodded grimly. “Almost everything in politics we regard as ‘common sense’ or ‘common knowledge’ are lies. The beastly slavedrivers either give us myths their rule is just or sell us a marketing scam to get more money. It is rather difficult to tell the difference between the two these days.”

Matilda admitted the truth, “All is lost. Mr. George Orwell states how even the very language I speak has been so corrupted it rots my very consciousness. Mr. Jonathan Swift reveals our human nature makes us nothing more than Yahoos who use our shoddy wits to be as beastly as possible. Yet our beastly natures make us living beings and give life meaning to us. The rational Houyhnhnms are practically zombies.

“The writers of the career self-help books mean well, but they only reveal my doomed future. As soon as I begin school, my parents will force me into college by lying to me, promising me that you must have a college degree to get a good job or amount to anything in life. In truth, I will fall into deep debts, all to learn very little about how I could ‘get a good job’ or ‘amount to anything’. That is if I was born lucky.

“My father is a used car salesman and my mother is a ditz who plays bingo. I snobbishly sneered at my trashy parents at first, but now I have a more nuanced knowledge of their lot in life. My father grew up with no schooling or job training, so he could not go to college or get a decent job. Instead, he became a crook to make ends meet, using whatever talents he has the best way he can. My mother went to school but could not pay to college. She could work in fast food, work in the sex trade, or mooch off a man who can support her. She chose the best option she had, and she now plays bingo every day so she won’t think of how horrible her life is, something she is all too aware of.

“Mr. Noam Chomsky tells us we are doomed, and rightly so. The slavedrivers will do nothing but gain more power and oppress the people of the world more severely, using any means they can. Every day, they fight us in a gruesome class war, and not only are we ignorant; we have entire sects of people who protect our masters at every turn. All of this occurs while global warming and nuclear war loom nearer each day; Armageddon.

“Mr. Derrick Jensen proposes a radical idea. All civilizations are, by nature, built from slavery, and can only survive by robbing the earth and human beings of more resources than either can return. Civilization can never be stable, and acts like a cancer on the earth; the more it grows, the more it kills its host body until, finally, the land dies, and civilization dies with it. Mr. Jensen wants to destroy all civilizations before they destroy all life on earth.

“Mr. Clive Lewis writes wonderfully, with a deep and compassionate knowledge of the human heart, but the foundations of all religions and moralities are false, and he secretly knows it. Mr. Donatien Sade knows this, and creates a perverse philosophy so he won’t feel bad when he rapes teenage girls. Yet he fails to understand, like all smug atheists, that his philosophy is just as shaky and self-serving as any religion. Or, he purposefully created a parody philosophy to turn morals on their head and reveal the hypocrisy of civilized society. Either way, Mr. Sade secretly feels guilty about raping teenage girls, so he goes out of his way to defend himself in the most tedious manner possible.

“Only Mr. William Blake, Mr. Richard Bach, and Mr. Farid Attar give me a tiny ray of hope. They sincerely believe we can reach a higher existence, where the meaning of life is greater than violently oppressing poor people or raping teenage girls; this is the deepest most desperate desire of all our hearts. Yet they deceive themselves. They know the game is rigged so they call quits. They wish to renounce the world and kill themselves, which is reasonable, but they pretend it is all about reaching Enlightenment, which it really isn’t.

“Why did you let me read so many terrible books, Mrs. Phelps?”

Mrs. Phelps, who knew the truth the whole time, sat by Matilda to comfort her. “At first, I thought it would be better if you read the frivolous twittering writings of Englishmen who write ‘great novels’ and ‘really good books grownups read’. You are a bright child, Matilda, and surely if you read Mr. Dickens or Mr. Thackery you would impress many grown ups. They would point at you and say, ‘Look at this bright child! She reads really good books grownups read unlike the dumb kids who play video games and play outside! She reads all the sanctioned books parents, teachers, and principles want her to read! Surely, she will go to college, become a doctor or lawyer, and live in a big house in the suburbs with a husband, two children, a dog, a cat, and a goldfish!’

“I could no longer lie to a child. I wanted to educate you on what being a grownup is really like. I did not want you suffer through decades of despair, disappointment, and indignation, only to learn the truth too late. This is what real reading, real education, is like.”

“What should I do, Mrs. Phelps!” Matilda cried. “Is there an answer to the darkness?”

Mrs. Phelps put her hand on her chin, thinking for a very long time, considering perhaps there was an answer, a way to truly live a good life. “I believe Mr. William Blake and Mr. Friedrich Nietzsche may point to the way, but the journey will be rough. We will travel through a great black sea of terrible waters. We will have to challenge everything we have ever known to find the other shore. Are you ready, Matilda?”

Matilda nodded, the bravest human being Mrs. Phelps had ever seen. “Yes,” Matilda said. “I am ready.”

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 30

Duel 30 – Deal With the Devil

Threatened, Maya flipped the switch to her hotel room, revealing the intruder. “Xiaoyi! What are you doing here?” Maya exclaimed in shock.

“I’m here to give you an offer you can’t refuse.” Xiaoyi answered with a kind smile. “Please, sit down.”

Maya shut the door behind her, astonished. “You can’t be serious.” She said to herself. “You are the greater-scope villain after all, the one who secretly pulled the strings behind the entire tournament. Even I couldn’t count the number of plot holes in your scheme.”

“Well, Matthew did let the cat out of the bag. I should have chosen someone with more to lose, then he would be quiet.”

Maya pounced on Xiaoyi as a lion does on its prey, pinning the woman to the wall, chocking her so hard Maya bore marks on her fair skin with her nails. Xiaoyi did not flinch so much as blaze with bright light for an instant the way a Millennium Item does. The blow easily sent Maya across the room, crashing her against the wall so hard the wall cracked. Maya hung in mid air, petrified by the curse.

Xiaoyi hovered near Maya in a carefree manner, amused. “What a brave girl you are to challenge me, even after fathoming my powers. I understand my revelation and the trials I gave you were stressful, but touch me again and I will kill you in the blink of an eye.” And Xiaoyi let Maya down, who collapsed to the floor, doubling in pain, and opened the window, enjoying the spring breeze. “Shall we do business?”

Maya had no choice to admit she had to agree to Xiaoyi’s terms. She could not challenge Xioayi and she was sure Xiaoyi would incinerate her or something just as bad if she tried running away. “What do you want from me?”

“I want a partner. I want you to help me destroy civilization.”

“What?” Maya could not believe this. “I never took you for the anarcho-primitivist type. Why would you want to such a thing anyway? I want to know more about your involvement in Egypt. How did you manage to orchestrate the whole thing besides using dark magic Egyptian powers? You want me to be your partner, then tell me the truth!” But Maya knew she could not take anything Xiaoyi said at face value. That would be stupid in the extreme.

Xiaoyi sat on the bed, inviting Maya to the same. “First things first: I don’t think I need to tell you that democracy in America, or anywhere else, is a sham. Gernand de Laclose was the Executive Director of the one of branches of the World Bank Group. I was an employee before I promptly killed him, and took his place. Explaining how I climbed so high up the corporate ladder at such a young age involves a tedious history of lying and bribes I would rather not get into. I even make myself look far older when on the job because I doubt my ‘colleagues’ would trust a twenty-six your old with the world’s affairs.

“The World Bank can finance almost any country it wants. It ostensibly exists to aid developing countries and what have you. It is made of five subdivisions, each subdivision run by a board of directors, whose members agree on an action before it is passed. Getting what you want is not as difficult as you think despite such bureaucratic obstacles. Banks around the world put sticky fingers in each other’s pockets and get chummy with superpowers and mega corporations all the time. The rulers of mankind are many different people, but we all protect each others’ interests. It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it.”

Maya demanded, “I know how banks and big business work. Get to the point already.”

“Alright. kiddo.” Xiaoyi winked at her naïve pupil. “Gernand and me funded Heishin Mubarak through ostensibly funding the Egyptian government, and we even got some help from the CIA while at it too, which gave weapons to the Ghouls and Heishin’s army. I gave Heishin and Matthew some magic as icing on the cake. You killed them both, so I’m a bit low on peons.”

Maya skeptically raised an eyebrow. “I find that hard to believe. What was the point of it all?”

“I told Heishin about the Book of Isis, so he would waste his time finding a mystical artifact. Matthew just wanted to kill you, which was motivation enough, I guess. Either way, the MacGuffin itself isn’t that important; the point was test everyone to find a future partner. Whoever won the treasure hunt would be mine, and, since you found Egypt’s ultimate Easter Egg, you won. Congratulations!”

Xiaoyi gave Maya her outstretched hand. “Produce the Book for me. I know you have it. You wouldn’t dare leave it with anyone else, even your husband.”

Maya reluctantly handed Xiaoyi the great Book; there was no getting around her. Xiaoyi flipped through the razor thin emerald pages, delighted the Book revealed its secrets to her.

“Do you not know the history of this book?” Xiaoyi asked, and when Maya shook her head, Xiaoyi answered. “In legend, Isis herself wrote this book; the goddess was Egypt’s supreme magic user who even knew Ra’s secret name. Long after that, the great demon god Zorc influenced scribes to copy parts of the book to produce a secondhand volume, the Millennium Tome. Long after that, around the Amenhotep Dynasty, Akhenaten deciphered the Tome, using the knowledge he learned to create the Millennium Items. The rest is history.”

“So the Book of Isis tells you how to create Millennium Items, or recreate them.” Maya concluded.

“Indeed.” Xiaoyi pointed to what looked like footnote at the bottom of an emerald page. “Slay ninety-nine humans; smelt gold for seven days, adding the bodies of your victims into the recipe; create Millennium Items; profit. I learned almost all dark magic from Gernand, but with this Book I can complete my powers and teach them to you.”

Maya asked, “What makes you think I will say yes? Why would you want to destroy civilization? You are profiting from civilization very well.”

Xiaoyi gently sighed. “The same reason you are annoyed at being King of Games. I doubt you want to keep playing a boring children’s card game. You are all too aware how powerless you truly are in changing the world, how useless it is in trying to change the system while working within it; your cynical behavior during your career betrays the fact. And don’t give any of that I-marched-with-activist-groups-and-gave-donations crap. Your many comments, sparsed here and there over the years, reveal your disillusionment. You want to really change the world? Join me.”

“I decline.” Maya stated flatly. “I can manage on my own.”

But Xiaoyi would not relent. “Let’s play a game; not a shadow game, a normal trifling game. If you were president of the world, and you could implement any policies you wanted, what would you do?”

Maya took a while to think things through, then summarized her thoughts, “I would take away all the money and power I can away from big business and give it back to the American people. Big business will have to pay most of the taxes; money will go back to government services (the usual stuff like education, healthcare, roads et cetera), and welfare programs can slowly work to rebuild America’s middle class, and help pull people out of debt and poverty. Crooked bankers and CEO, like you Xiaoyi, would be jailed or executed for treason. Universities, prisons, and banks will no longer be privately owned.

“I know one hole in this plan. America and all first world nations have so much wealth because they plundered other parts of the world for centuries. Well, I imagine I can slowly undo that while fixing things at home. Once America becomes a good enough nation, we can slowly give back to third world countries by investing in them. We build their government and education and infrastructure and so on, and in turn they become our allies and partners. It will take a long time, but it could balance out the inequality.”

Xiaoyi listened to Maya in rapt attention, taking everything she said seriously. Xiaoyi said, “Very good. I used to think the same thing, but it won’t work. Here’s why: the vile CEOs will never give up their power without a violent revolution, and neither will the government because the two are one. Europe is no utopia, least of all because, at bottom, corporate masters still rule their servants; they sheathe their iron fist in a leather glove. Even if you have your way, your government will not last, because it will still be capitalism and a civilization, and both cannot last by their very nature.

“Look around you, Maya: the buildings, roads, cars, laptop, Internet, everything. We get it all by taking more resources from the earth than we can return. Once we run out of oil, coal, trees, and iron, the whole infrastructure will collapse. We dug ourselves into our graves; first by building the whole system on cheap fuel, then by meshing everything into one big system that draws all its powers from a few resources. The earth is the lifeblood to the whole system, but the earth is dying.

“It will take millennia to repair all the damage. We don’t have millennia, and even if we did, the masters of mankind would never do it. They would lose their power doing so, and they are so busy oppressing the rest of humanity to keep the system in check they would never have the time and energy anyway. Renewable resources won’t work, because they’re not efficient enough to replace old energy, and just making them burns ever more fuel to kill the planet. You’re scheme is noble, but it cannot work.”

Maya put her hands on head, shaking her head. She knew all of these uncomfortable facts but buried them for a long time, knowing they nullified almost everything she did. She suspected that liberal movements in the first world were a sham to some degree or another, but she stopped herself from knowing the full truth.

Still, Maya would not lose the game so easily. She forcefully said, “I don’t believe in your fatalist Decline of the West bullshit. We always have a choice when faced with challenges, and how we respond to them determines our future. Did you ever think how many millions – no, billions – of people would die if we carried out your scheme? You and me would be remembered as the vilest human beings in all of history, and justly so.”

Maya’s energetic rebuttal made Xiaoyi gently smirk; she had a lot of spunk! Xiaoyi persisted still, “I don’t care if you believe in Spengler or Toynbee; civilization will die no matter what we do. But we have a choice in how we can die. We can turn the crash into a gentle landing, but that would mean persuading the very people who will never listen to the likes of you. We orchestrate the crash and get it done over with in a few decades, stopping nuclear war while we are it. Or we can let everyone die from a long, agonizing decline, only to finished off by nukes. Are you so afraid of your reputation; to be a good guy even if everyone dies? The choice is yours.”

Xiaoyi clasped Maya’s with her own, and revealed one future to Maya: The earth prospers under Maya’s scheme. War and disease are no more, and all human beings rejoice. They develop machine technology more and more, merging with the machines into androids, then lose all physical bodies to live in a machine supercomputer in space that draws its nature from the sun. All human life from every era of history exists within this program, each human within his little universe. Twelve superhuman gods manage the entire matrix, but each thousand years the computer gets closer and closer to crashing. One day, it crashes within one seven thousandth of a second, and all human life is deleted. 

Xiaoyi shows Maya another branch of time: Mankind prospers once more, as Yugioh is taken to its highest level. Momentum is created, a perpetual motion machine powering all of society, allowing a phenomenon called riding duels to exist. But power corrupts; and human beings once more become wicked. Momentum, becoming sentient over the centuries, manifests monsters in real life, embodiments of the evil within people’s hearts, using them to terrorize humanity. Later, Momentum reverses, and all human infrastructures implode. All life on the planet becomes extinct. 

Xiaoyi reveals to Maya several more visions, all leading to the death of the human race. Then Xiaoyi reveals her last vision, a small extent of her power: A young woman bursts from the surface of a large river in a black forest, naked and clutching a fish in her hands. She tears off the fish’s flank and swallows it raw, before throwing it before a morbidly obese man. Later, that man, her master, is kidnapped, and the woman transforms into a huge, terrifying black dragon with fiery red eyes, with some reassures of a large bat. The dragon decimates an entire military base, recuing her master, before returning to human form. She promptly knocks the obese man out, quick to wipe out all his short term memory with magic so he would forget ever seeing her with such power, even giving a tiny morsel of it.

The two women returned to the humble hotel room. Maya fell to her knees, devastated, barely able to absorb all she saw. Xiaoyi’s spirit Ka was something Maya had never seen before or could even comprehend until now.

“Why?” Maya croaked in a coarse voice. She did not believe that Xiaoyi cared for humankind. Not one bit. She nonchalantly caused the deaths of thousands of Egyptians and tens of duelists, with the arrogance of a god. Why would she care now? Lastly, Maya asks, “What is your endgame?”

“I do because I can.” Xiaoyi stated, and then revealed to Maya her final plans.

Maya at last understood. Xiaoyi was insane. Yet Maya still insisting on challenging her enemy, despite that she witnessed her strength. Perhaps Maya always needed to thumb her nose at authority since childhood. “But why?”

Xiaoyi, irritated with such a stupid question, made what was perhaps the biggest mistake of her life. She said, “Do I need to give you more incentives? I cannot let you leave alive if you refuse to join me. I revealed too much. Know this: I have all the time in the world to find another partner, and I have other candidates around the world who can take your place. If you don’t join me, someone else will.”

Maya saw within Xiaoyi a deep darkness, not just Xiaoyi’s darkness, but her own, and the darkness of the entire human race. No one could stand against that darkness, unless Maya conquered the darkness from within. Maya or Sophia could only challenge Xiaoyi once they learned her secrets. Xiaoyi had indeed tested Maya well, but not in the way she thought.

“Yes.” Maya whispered softly, surrendering.

“I can’t hear you.”

“Yes.” Maya assented, louder this time. “I accept. I will join you.”

“Bravo!” Xiaoyi clapped her hands together; her dark murderous features instantly vanished, and she now seemed an innocent little girl. “Gernand and me spent over a decade preparing for our fateful day. I merely need to tweak a few little things and we’re all set. You, Maya, are the final piece to the figurative Millennium Puzzle. I could not be more proud of you.”

And she handed Maya a tiny note. “You will see coordinates to a location within Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Be there by next week, or I will find and kill you wherever you are. As I say once more, the choice is yours. Sweet dreams.” And she left the hotel room, leaving Maya stranded.

—————————————–

Maya reunited with Yukio and her baby boy at the end of the weekend. They spoke of how happy they would be, their plans together, a house they could one day buy, the day Narmer would walk for the first time, sending Narmer to school, attending parent-teacher conferences, paying for Narmer’s college, celebrating many Christmases to come together with Jolene, JC, and Sophia as family.

All this talk nearly made Maya weep in despair. None of it would ever come to pass. She would abandon everyone to save the human race from Xiaoyi, a devil in a woman’s body. There was no way she could make them understand, so she kept quiet. The couple spent their last day together at Central Park on May 23, celebrating Yukio’s twenty-fourth birthday, enjoying every moment in happiness. It was the best final gift Maya could ask for.

Past midnight, in that fateful morning, Maya quietly packed her bags, kissing Yukio one last time while he lay sleeping. Baby Narmer awoke, and so Maya cradled her son one last time, rocking him to sleep, singing to him the songs mother sang to her when she was a child. Once Narmer went to sleep, she laid him in his cradle, and kissed him one last time.

Sometime later, Maya visited Sophia’s hotel room in New York City, and told Sophia everything; all the coming darkness of night. Sophia remained skeptical at first, but when she say Maya cry she knew Maya was telling the truth. Maya offered her hand to Sophia. Only together could they defeat the darkness. Sophia accepted, and packed her bags. Together, the two women stole into the night.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 29

Duel 29 – Declining the Challenge

Two months later on Valentine’s Day, Maya gave birth to a healthy baby boy in hospital, with Yukio present. The parents named the child Narmer in reference to the land wherein he was conceived. There was not a sweeter time of year for a child to be born. Yukio watched mother and child with joy and amusement, seeing such a fierce mother melt into goo nursing her baby. Later that month the couple merged their finances, in essence marrying.

Later that month all of Team Baby Blast Furnace; Maya, Yukio, Sophia, were invited to the The Duel Network to talk about Yugioh and the tournament they won. They accepted the challenge, but first the chancellor of the New York Duel Academy took the team out on a tour of his school. Maya and Yukio both tried to enter the academy and failed five years ago.

The trio gave something of a lecture in the main hall; the chancellor gave them notes telling them exactly what to say, which they did. Students then asked them questions, which were more revealing than any answer they made up. Sophia remarked how the students acted exactly like her adopted brothers and sisters, completely sheltered. At least Pegasus’ children were once orphans. Maya grew furious, but bottled her anger; she tore the chancellor’s notes apart during the lecture.

————————————-

And within due time, our heroes arrived to The Duel Network talk show, and even some other finalists arrived, presented by none other than Gail Aphor.

APHOR: “Today! All new! A fascinating celebrity gamer meetup! World Champion Marina Bozuslowsky, teammates Yukio Fujiwara and Sophia Yanova, rival finalist Maria White, and finalists Rex Raptor and Weevil Underwood GIVE IT UP! We’ll go inside their dueling adventures next! Let’s give them a big round of applause, people!

“So, Maya – can I call you that? – What’s it like being the King of Games? How does it feel to be the first woman and the first black person to be world champion?”

MAYA: “As long as the Huffington Post and Jezebel don’t embarrass me, I’m fine. I feel very happy and grateful being world champion – who doesn’t? – I always wanted to be a great duelist and rock the boat, but I never thought I could be King of Games. To be honest, I went into this tournament because I needed to pay the bills, being a finalist would have been enough. As for all the talk about race and gender, I’d rather have that discussed in a more level-headed and intellectual environment than reality TV.”

APHOR: “What, we’re not smart enough for you? You want to only talk to an academic elite? – Can I get that, people! – Everyone loves a true duelist!”

SOPHIA: “You willingly rocked the boat, Maya. You can’t runaway from people’s reactions now.”

MAYA: “I’m not running away. I know how easily the so-called masses bastardize complex social issues and make asses out of everyone. And perhaps I simply changed. I was a different woman before the tournament than now, so perhaps I became a bit more mature.

“As for said social issues; I’m very proud to represent women and black people everywhere. All my life society told me, explicitly and implicitly, that I could never amount to much; that I lacked the intellectual and creative potential. That was a big motivation for me challenging the status quo. Forcing conservative dorks to eat their own words is very satisfying; I freely admit.

“But being a big role model becomes a curse over time. People will revere you as an idol, sure, but they will soon try to control you like they own you. I can’t be everything to everybody, but I guarantee you, idiots will try to manipulate and abuse me into acting exactly the way they want for the pettiest of reasons. They will not listen to anything you say or follow your example. They will kill you by turning you into a celebrity.”

AUDIENCE MEMBER 1: “Why you gotta’ throw shade like that? How can my little girl look up to someone who calls me, and other people of her race and gender, ignorant savage morons? Honey, I’ll show you how to throw shade! Talk like that and you’ll be the least popular world champion of all time!”

MAYA: “I don’t care. This is boring. Can we please talk about the Yugioh game itself?”

WEEVIL: “To be honest, I kind of miss the good old days when Yugioh didn’t have all this political garbage in it. I just wanna’ win and have fun.”

APHOR: “Okay guys, calm down a bit. – Shut up, Weevil! – Maria, what do you think about Yugioh right now?”

MARIA: “Yugioh is dying, and rogue duelists are killing it. You could only use a few decks back in the day, sure, but that gave duelists a standard to aspire you. They had to netdeck each other but they also had to tweak their decks a bit to get ahead. That was creative; that was like netdeck Inception. But now there is no standard; a duelist can win with whatever God forsaken trash if they have the brains to do it. Any loser with a good strategy can easily surpass even the God Cards these days. Once the gods were a force of destiny. Now they’re just another archetype. A dueling world that stands for nothing will fall for anything.”

APHOR: “I’m getting a pretty mixed vibe from the audience right now. So Maya, how would you respond to that?”

MAYA: “People have been saying ‘Yugioh is dying’ since forever. If I had a dime each time someone said that, I would never have to duel again. Yes, netdeck Inception is pretty interesting, but without new duelists challenging the old, the game will stop evolving. Pegasus creates new cards every weekend, so expecting the same meta deck to remain for all eternity is unreasonable.

“Regardless, Pegasus will always keep a metagame because he profits from it. He creates a new banlist forcing you to buy expensive new cards, which also forces you to sell old but good cards to afford said new cards. Next year, Pegasus creates new cards and a new banlist, and the cycle repeats. Kaiba updates his toys and gives them planned obsolescence, just like Apple does. Kaiba and Pegasus don’t care about the game anymore. For them, it’s all about keeping the capitalism machine running until Yugioh one day implodes on itself.”

AUDIENCE MEMBER 2: “You ain’t a commie, are you, ma’am? Because I’ll tell you right now, communism is just as bad as fascism, and if you’re a commie you might as well be a Nazi. Why don’t liberal arts colleges speak about communism as the evil it is, just like we all do about Nazism? Did you know, Stalin was just as bad as Hitler!”

REX: “And we passed Godwin’s Law.”

APHOR: “Shut up, Rex! – Maya, how do you respond to that?”

MAYA: “I don’t respond to people that stupid. I talk to whomever I want. No one is entitled to my time and attention, no matter how famous I am.”

APHOR: “A true duelist wouldn’t disappoint their fans. Yukio? Sophia? Any thoughts?”

YUKIO: “I agree with Maria a bit. Yugioh used to have a nobler aspect to it. Back then, Yugioh had real sense of honor and competitive spirit, which was a good thing no matter how dumb the ‘honor of the duelist’ is. Now being a duelist is about having a career, just like in a corporate office. It’s all about money.”

SOPHIA: “I would like to address the many deaths that occurred during the tournament. I am deeply ashamed of it all. I would never have gone to the tournament if it would mean getting so many people killed. I’m so sorry!”

AUDIENCE MEMBER 3: “BULLSHIT! We gotta’ lock her up!”

MAYA: “Don’t feel guilty, Sophia. Let me wipe your tears. Matthew and his Ghoul underlings forced us to fight for our lives. Calling us murderers would be like blaming the victims in the Saw movies.”

YUKIO: “Not the best example, Maya.”

APHOR: “I heard you guys visited New York City’s Duel Academy. Can you tell me what that was like?”

MAYA: “The kids are spoiled and sheltered, and learn nothing about the real world. Academies do them more harm than good. Imagine if there was a basketball academy that taught kids nothing but how to play basketball. No algebra, no literature, no history. Nothing. Then you dump those poor kids into the real world with no life experience. Only a few of all basketball players become superstars; the rest starve. Yugioh is the same way. Even child prodigies have no guarantee surviving.”

TRAVIS: “Not cool, man! My name is Travis T., and I’m the number one duelist in the academy! No one disses my school and gets away with it! I challenge you to a duel! Right here! Right now! If you lose, not only do you apologize to everyone you hurt today, you give me the title of King of Games!”

MAYA: “I decline your challenge.”

AUDIENCE: “Gasp!”

TRAVIS: “A true duelist never declines a challenge!”

MAYA: “I just did. First of all, you have no right to challenge me. You don’t walk into a corporate boardroom and demand to become senior administrator. The same applies here. Win a national tournament, and maybe I will accept your challenge. Second of all, you’re no match for me. I would tear you apart in ten seconds, you brat. Third of all, even if you beat me and become King of Games, you will burn out fast and die young. You don’t know how to manage money, manage a busy schedule, handle debts, or avoid getting screwed over by every conman in the world. You’ll end up sucking dick for meth within a few months, and show business won’t shed a tear.”

AUDIENCE: “BOO!”

YUKIO: “You just had to piss everyone off, Maya!”

AUDIENCE MEMBER 2: “What foul language!”

MAYA: “Get bent, asshole. Now if you excuse me, I must take care of my child.”

Jolene, who was tending the infant at this point, tried her best to comfort the little creature, which was wailing from all the terrible noise and shouting around it. Jolene returned the child to its mother. Gail Aphor ensconced her guests away as much as she good, but could not fully save them from the ravenous audience. Though blocked by security, the audience harassed the guests as much as it could.

The third audience member screamed, “She’s making controversy! She’s doing it all for money!”

————————————-

The poor baby would not calm down, and both parents blamed themselves for going to the talk show. Yukio, Sophia, Jolene, and Maya all traded time with the infant until they calmed it down, putting it fast to sleep. Yukio then fell to blaming Maya for causing such turmoil during the talk show, with Maya retorting how she had to stand her ground; followers are vicious creatures that could never be appeased. It was their first argument as a couple, and it was so severe they nearly divorced.

The couple briefly split. Yukio taking the baby with him since he deemed Maya an unworthy mother, causing Maya to break into tears for her baby, overcome by a mother’s instinctive despair. Jolene and Sophia found Maya a hotel room for a few days, and stayed with her for a few days to comfort her.

Heart-broken, Maya wandered to a soup kitchen in the west side. Slumping her head on the meal tables, she stared at every homeless person she could find. Her parents drilled within her an intense fear of becoming homeless. If they didn’t pay rent, they would get evicted and become homeless. If Maya acted out, her father could lose his job and they would become homeless. If Maya didn’t do well in school nor go to college, she would become homeless. If Maya did not win a big Yugioh tournament, she would fail to pay her debts and become homeless.

Never did it occur to Maya’s parents, or even Maya herself, that “the homeless” were human beings. Understanding this for the first time, Maya wondered if playing so much dumb Yugioh was even worth it. Maybe becoming homeless was the better choice. They seemed happy in the soup kitchen, but that was probably a lie.

A volunteer, an old man, tall and clean-shaven approached behind her, and said, “I remember you!” Maya turned around. It was Greg, the old homeless man the team knew from four years ago. Maya greeted him joyously; and they talked through the whole afternoon.

Greg, it seemed, used part of the team’s prize money to rebuild his life. He managed to get a job in human resources and lived in public housing. It was no rags-to-riches story, but it was a miracle, or so he said, and Maya agreed. Maya told him her own story, feeling ashamed how she, someone who did have a rags-to-riches story, could be so unhappy. Greg reminded her, jokingly, that Hollywood actors did drugs and went to mental hospitals for a reason.

The two bade each other farewell. Maya called Yukio, telling him she was sorry for everything, and Yukio said the same. They would move back together after the weekend and promised to never argue again. Next time, they would work things out like rational mature adults, which, I’m sure you know, most couples are.

Maya went to a hipster bar and had a few good old shots, happy she could drink again as she was no longer pregnant, played darts a bit, danced, and returned to her hotel room. Though everything was dark inside, Maya could see the body of a woman.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 28

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I have many duties to do outside writing, so I must power through the last three odd chapters. Enjoy! 

Duel 28 – Spring Showers in December

Maya rose from bed; she got real tired of entering scenes by waking up. It was so lame the author even began a story with her main character waking up from bed. Maya hated being passive like that; that was how Maria should begin a scene. She took her time to explore her room because it was surreal: a hospital room so white it was like a generic afterlife scene in a movie. She noticed an ivee penetrated her arm and punched the port to make sure she was alive. ARGH! She was alive!

Maya wanted nothing more than to leave the hospital right now, but she was still weak, and the doctors would sedate her if she tried a “daring” escape anyway. So she sat down and watched a few channels from the small flat screen TV bolted to the ceiling. “Let’s see what went on in the world while I took a nap.” Maya mumbled to herself, turning on the news.

KAIBACORP AND INDUSTRIAL ILLUSSIONS CONTINUE COURT TRIALS
REPORTER 1: “Good morning New Yorkers! I am Dave and this is Susan. We continue our story where Seto Kaiba and Pegasus Crawford, leaders of the two biggest corporate giants of the gaming world, are continuing to undergo a tidal wave of lawsuits following the 13th Battle City World Championship. Their prosecutors, including Amnesty International, the United Nations, and grieving parents of deceased duelists, are charging them with violations of international law and crimes against humanity. Susan, can you fill us in on the details?”

REPORTER 2: “Certainly. According to Ali Treki, President of the United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Kaiba and Mr. Pegasus purposefully hosted their tournament in war torn Egypt to generate controversy and boost ratings, a trick commonly performed in reality television. There is nothing quite like a gladiator death match, at least that is what Mr. Kaiba and Mr. Pegasus thought. But was all the death and turmoil in Egypt worth it? We now turn to Hernandez de Istulto, expert economist, President of the Cato Institute, and pioneering investor of BitCoin.”

ECONOMIST: “Thank you, Susan. As of now, the exact motives of Mr. Kaiba and Mr. Pegasus are still unknown to us. Their behavior defies any good judgment of rational self-interest. Yes, as you said, they obtained controversy (i.e. attention), boosted ratings, and gained huge widespread appeal from duelists around the world, but at what cost! Surely, such a speculation had too high risk and too little reward.”

REPORTER 2: “Do you think their behavior reflects the huge boom and bust of the 2008 economic crisis? They seemed to have so few restrictions on their power, it’s as if they became deluded and thought themselves free of consequences.”

ECONOMIST: “No, no, no. A benefit to the corporation benefits the economy. It improves the competitive process that improves the individual and is inherent to such a good economy. Mr. Kaiba and Mr. Pegasus are the best businessmen in their field. It is unlikely they would endanger their businesses so recklessly: it defies rationality.”

REPORTER 1: “Thank you for your contribution, de Istulto. Now we turn to Jeremy for an eye-witness account of the trial at hand.”

CORRESPONDANT: “Thanks again, Dave. We see a massive crowd of people surrounding the courthouse at this moment. OOF! OUCH! They’re practically bulldozing past me right now. Hey, you there! What brings you to witness this occasion?”

PROTESTER: “We are protesting KaibaCorp and Industrial Illusions for their corporate greed and crimes against humanity. Did you know that Kaiba uses slave labor in Taiwan to make duel disks?”

CORRESPONDENT: “No, I did not know that. Are any duelists protesting right now?”

PROTESTER: “Well, you should know! I am a duelist. Sadly, there are a small number of duelists – they’re the basement-dwelling type – who defends Kaiba and Pegasus. They claim Political Correctness has gone mad and gamers are facing censorship from journalists.”

CORRESPONDENT: “Who are these people?”

PROTESTER: “As I said, basement-dwellers. That’s why you’ve never heard of them.”

CORRESPONDENT: “So why bother telling me about them?”

PROTESTER: “Maybe too much time on the Internet distorts your sense of reality.”

CORRESPONDENT: “I’ll say!”

REPORTER 1: “There you have it folks, on-the-ground action from Jeremy. He’ll be live in the court house right after this commercial break.”

Maya found herself enraptured in the details of these strange events, when a nurse came to her room, speaking. “Oh, thank goodness you’re awake! I never thought I’d see the day! You have visitors.”

Maya shut the TV off. All her friends quickly arrived. Everyone cried in excitement and hugged each other in a moment of pure joy, one that once in a blue moon. – Even Rex and Weevil came all the way from Japan! And Mathias came to check her out too!

“Thank God you came back!” Mathias exulted in prayer; while Yukio explained to Maya she was in a coma for three months. Maya looked dumb in surprise, and Yukio told her it was indeed true.

Everyone exchanged gifts, and Maya received first edition prints of all the link monsters she used in the tournament; a consolation Pegasus gave to all finalists after the tournament, monster cards printed before their official release. Likewise, Pegasus, being a man of his word, gave Maya a check of 2 million dollars. Maya held her prizes, astonished; she struggled so hard to earn the prize money, and it sat in her hands, all of it.

But Maya felt a deep guilt. She had paid for her prize in blood, not just her blood, but Matthew’s blood, the Ghouls’ blood, the blood of every other duelist who died. Yet she felt a weird kind of excitement knowing she fought such an epic battle and triumphed in the end, almost smelling the blood of her enemies on the cards, arousing her the way a shark becomes when smelling its prey. But the guilt remained.

Maya pushed away her prizes, and she was almost about to destroy them when Mathias stopped her. He spoke very sternly, “I know how you feel but destroy your prizes and everyone would have died in vain. Maximus and me lost our dearest family when we accepted our divine gifts and became Saints. We chose to use our gifts to aid the world. You must do the same.”

Yukio comforted Maya by putting his hand on her shoulder. “Look, if a Catholic is telling you not to feel guilty, maybe you shouldn’t.”

Maya listened to reason, something she didn’t do often. “I hope Stella is fine, back in Iceland with her family and comrades. Maybe I’ll finally see my dad; maybe he’ll be nice since I don’t depend on him anymore. Yes, that would be very nice.”

Everyone became dark and solemn in look, and Maya, looking at them, knew all too well what it meant; she knew happiness never last long, least of all with her. She asked what their saturnine looks meant, and Sophia answered, “Stella and Hannibal became brain dead soon after you won. You’re father died while you were in a coma.”

Maya shivered; the room seemed to become frigid. She really loved Stella, despite everything that happened between them, while she had no idea how to feel about her father. He ruined Maya’s entire childhood and the scars he left behind darkened her character and her life forevermore. He was the source of all the evil in Maya’s life, but that evil was all she had, and now the evil died she might as well fall through the floor. Maya instinctively touched her abdomen, feeling the substantial bump in it. What was this?

“You’re pregnant.” Sophia said joyously as Yukio clasped Maya’s hand, and Maya clasped his. Maya had no idea what to do or even how to feel for the hundredth time this year.

——————————————-

Seto Kaiba and Pegasus Crawford underwent their trail for months on end but a solution was met at last, and the news all too eagerly reported on it.

KAIBACORP AND INDUSTRIAL ILLUSSIONS BAIL OUT
REPORTER 1: “Good morning New Yorkers! I am Dave and this is Susan. Today a major development occurred in the lawsuit against Mr. Seto Kaiba and Mr. Pegasus Crawford. The two CEOs were charged for twenty years prison and their companies charged with 3 billion dollars, but both were recently bailed out. Susan, if you may fill us in on the details.”

SUSAN: “Of course, Dave. The various businesses partners of KaibaCorp and Industrial Illusions; including Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, Google, even NASA, paid the bailouts for Seto Kaiba and Pegasus Crawford. They also saved both companies from bankruptcy, but the heavy cost of the weighty lawsuit was enough to send thousands of employees out of work.

“Yet there could be more to this story. WikiLeaks has just disclosed a document between the American CIA, the Pentagon, Industrial Illusions, and Kaibacorp, which concerns a KaibaCorp blueprint for building a space station linked to the earth by an elevator. Why would Mr. Kaiba, after disbanding his father’s military operations when he inherited the company, want to return to military projects? What is the end of such designs? Could Kaiba have made a deal with the devil? – Hold on, I just received a letter at my desk. What do you mean I’m fired!?”

REPORTER 1: “Oh ho ho! Someone was unprofessional for a moment there! In other news, another sex tape of the Kardassians was released online, where it has been shared all across the Internet. Uh oh! Looks like somebody forgot to make sure what happened in Vegas stayed in Vegas!”

In either case, life rolled on as usual on all corners of the globe. Maya spent the next few months settling her affairs, boring chores leaving scarce time to spend with her friends. Not drinking or smoking pot for nine months due to her pregnancy was the least of her inconveniences. She first paid back all her debts so she would not evicted, but later sold her scant Chicago apartment to buy well-to-do quarters in the upper east side, a place she wanted to live in since forever. Then, she judiciously donated her prize money to charities and research projects she deemed best. – She did not give Amnesty International one damn sent. She canvassed for them before. She knew what those pricks were like.

Maya then moved from matters of the world to address matters of the spirit. She visited Iceland so as to aid Stella’s grieving family pay for the funeral expenses, but the family rejected all her money and spat in her face. Maya accepted their rebuke, and did not punch them in the face as she would otherwise do, as she was dealing with grief herself. She was now an orphan, just like Kaiba. “Eh, at least I wasn’t adopted.” Maya joked to herself while traveling back to New York.

Paying for her father’s funeral was a far easier task. For one, Maya did not have to deal with any family issues. Both her father’s and mother’s parents disowned their offspring when the children married out of wedlock, and Maya was glad of the fact for the first time in her life. Two families made of such bigoted fools did not deserve to attend her father’s funeral.

Maya made it a simple affair, inviting no one but Yukio, JC, and Jolene to the Long Island Cemetery. Mathias had long returned to Ireland; Rex and Weevil to Japan; and Sophia to Pegasus’ home in Las Vegas, only to pack her bags and move out to God knows where. Maya and her friends lowering her father in the grave themselves – Maya insisted on it – There, mother and father would remain together while their child, free from their grasping shadows, would live and die far away, where they could not reach her. Their simple tombstones read thus:

ALEXANDER BOZUSLOWSKY
OCT. 17, 1956 – SEPT. 25, 2009 

SHARBAT ALI
NOV. 19, 1962 – JUN 30, 1997 

A grim but interesting fact: Maya buried her father on her twenty-third birthday: Dec. 15, 2009. Maya had been so busy attending to other affairs; she paid the morticians to leave her poor father’s corpse a mummy pumped with formaldehyde and frozen in an ice chamber, in part to exact futile revenge on the man who once was. Her father made her alone from everyone else and forced her to wait for years to undo the damage he did to her, a process Maya would never finish. Thus, Maya made him wait, alone and frozen, before granting him the right to rest with his wife in peace.

JC put flowers on the grave, Jolene put precious drawings she made when a child, Yukio read a poem (or song) he wrote for this moment, and as he recited his work a small shower of rain gently fell on the small party: as if it was spring. Then sun refused to leave as he usually does as the solstice draws near; instead he cast his light on the world with all his might.

Tyrant men flaunt all their great might
Then die, forsaking their rights
To the earth, once in lovely gold,
Entombs them in dark wintry cold.

The sun, ever giving, returns
As meek flowers grow from bones,
As Spring’s gentle rainy showers
Nurtures young, yearning Sunflowers.

The gods have died; not one shall rise
To wipe the tears from my eyes,
But our strong hearts burn and glinter;
We alone bring Spring to Winter.

The gentle rain had washed all the dirt from the two tombstones away. With clean hearts and clear minds, the friends returned to life and celebrated the future with dance and play that day.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 27

THE CLIMAX OF 3 YEARS OF WORK HAS COME!

Duel 27 – The Hero Comes Full Circle

MAYA: 6500 | MATTHEW: 1500

MAYA’S TURN: “I activate Dante, milling 3 cards. I normal summon Tour Guide From the Underworld and use its effect to special summon Rubic, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss.” Arriving from the underworld, a trolley drops off a comely little stewardess with red hair and a horned demon around the same size. “I activate Preparation of Rites, returning a ritual spell from my graveyard to my hand and adding a ritual monster from my deck. I play Good & Evil of the Burning Abyss, offering Tour Guide and Rubic to ritual summon Malacoda, Netherlord of the Burning Abyss!”

Matthew, observing the chief of the Malebranche arrive, speculates that Maya must have used Beatrice to mill Good & Evil. He thinks Maya may have milled it randomly with Dante, but he knows better. His opponent is a true woman, a true black, a true Russian, a true Jew; whatever mud the mongrel is made of. The thought reminds him of his Cuban mother, but thinking of even that pale woman gives him shame.

Maya remains unknowing and uncaring of Matthew’s hidden shame; she had gathered all her materials. She cried, “I banish Dante the Pilgrim, Malacoda, Dante the Traveler, and Spadiovolo, to bring forth GOLDEN GOD PHOENIX!” A chasm opens from the ground, and all Maya’s monsters fall into the fiery pit. The god beneath, devouring the offerings, finds the taste to its liking, and so rises from the depths to greet its master.

Pegasus chastises Maya, “It’s about time you summoned your god card! I know the element of surprise is fabulous and all, but goddamn did you need until the eleventh hour!”

Maya snarls, her bare teeth something a dragon would recognize as a smile, her eyes glaring with savage light. “Golden God Phoenix, destroy his dragon!” The two colossal monsters smash into each other, their struggle erupting a cyclone of golden fire. Everyone ducks for cover, except Kaiba, who gazes at the fight: stupefied, making a distorted grin, his whole body convulsed in orgasm.

Rex and Weevil hide as turtles do in their shells. “I just peed a little.” The pathetic Weevil whimpers, and he didn’t lie.

“Idiot!” Matthew shouts at Maya over the maelstrom, “I banish a dragon in my graveyard to protect Golden God Dragon!” And with his words, his dragon won the fight, burning away the golden phoenix it battled.

Maya retorts, “You know what a phoenix does, don’t you? Use your common sense! I banish a fiend from my graveyard to revive Golden God Phoenix!” And with her words, the mighty undead beast rises from the fiery pit once more. “Phoenix, battle his dragon again!”

The two titans smash each other once more. Each time Matthew saved his dragon and Maya’s phoenix died, Maya resurrected it and battled yet again. Matthew understands the infernal woman’s plot, but too late, spending the last dragon in his graveyard to protect his god. Maya, however, still had a rich store of dead fiends to fuel her god.

Maya declares yet another attack, making sure Matthew’s golden dragon is destroyed for good, but Matthew doesn’t let it happen! “I play Negate Attack!” Thus ending the engagement. Maya lets out a hoarse sigh, and sets two cards facedown.

“Seriously, how many more god cards will you make?” Kaiba gripes to Pegasus.

“As many I want, because I am God.” Pegasus says.

MATTHEW’S TURN: “I play Pot of Cupidity! I banish 10 cards from my deck to draw 2!” It is a desperate move, and Matthew knows it.

The young man shakes his head, “Oh, Maya, the irony. When we first dueled you were truly the underdog, but how easily you changed all that. Do you still think yourself a rebel, a fighter of the people? I hope not. At bottom, you’re a tyrant.”

This news shocks Maya a little bit. “What?”

“You’re a queen bee, an alpha bitch, a bitch in sheep’s clothing. Can I say more? Yes, you grew up in public housing on the lower east side, and you joined a ragtag posse of rebels, you can’t change your nature. Had you lived as I did, you would be Regina George. I watched your every move for the last four years. You wasted your money, hopped from boy toy to boy toy, destroying the career of every female rival.”

Maya wearies of this conversation. “Look, you creepy loser, how I choose to live is not your business, even if you watch me in the shower. I gave prize money to many nonprofits as well as to booze; every man I boned knew what he was getting into; and I defeated all my female opponents fair and square.”

“But worse, Maya, you’re a killer. Oh yes! I know what you did! Xiaoyi told me! You killed Heishin! You’re a murderer, a criminal, a thug! A stone cold killer! When this tournament is over, you will be arrested, tried for crimes against humanity!”

Maya, though keeping a straight face, begins to crack underneath. She can’t understand why killing a dictator and saving thousands of lives would haunt her. Perhaps because she did killed a man, something she never thought possible. Perhaps because she killed a man so coldly, an act so simple and decisive: as if she flipped a switch. Perhaps because, by killing Heishin, she truly understood the consequences of her actions in a way most people never learn.

Maya liked thinking of herself as a devil, a fiery person who broke the rules, laughing at the fools around her while she did so. But was she truly a devil, a real devil?

Matthew leaves her to think about it, long and hard. “I activate Future Fusion, milling 5 dragons. I set a card. You’re move.”

MAYA’S TURN: “Golden God Phoenix, attack his dragon!” It is still strange for a woman to court a man, and with so much fervor, but the struggle began once more. Maya and Matthew burn through their recourses.

Matthew rekindles his fuel. “I activate Buriel from the Different Dimension, returning 3 banished dragons to my graveyard!” The monsters collide once more until Maya is forced to banish a fiend from her hand to revive her phoenix for the umpteenth time. That is how Matthew knows she is low.

Maya admits as much, saying softly, “I set a monster and end my turn.” Matthew can hear her lose confidence with ever word she spoke, and it makes him giddy.

MATTHEW’S TURN: “I enter the standby phase, meaning I fusion summon Five God Dragon!” The great dragon bursts into existence out of nowhere, fully formed with five terrible heads made of different elements. “I activate Pump Up, doubling the ATK of my Golden God Dragon.”

Maya lurches back, what little confidence she has left snuffed out. “I have a bad feeling about this.”

“Quote Star Wars all you want in Hell! Golden God Dragon, destroy her facedown monster!” Maya’s monster, though unknown to Matthew, easily dies either way. “Now my golden dragon, destroy her golden phoenix!” Matthew’s dragon, blazing with an outstanding 8000 ATK, completely annihilates Maya’s phoenix. (MAYA LP 6500 à 2500).

The spiraling blaze falls on Maya with all its weight, burning her skin and clothes, the force blasting her off the arena. Maya never endured so much pain in her life. She coughs blood, her already broken ribs stabbing her with the force of a thousand hot serrated knives while new ribs broke. Facedown on the floor, Maya nearly blacks out from the pain.

Too many moments of torture pass, Maya unmoving. Kaiba, unmoved, orders Isono to begin a boxing count. Isono readily obeys, announcing, “If Marina Bozuslowsky does not rise within eight seconds, Matthew Carter shall be declared the winner! ONE!”

“TWO!”

“THREE!”

“FOUR!”

“FIVE!”

“SIX!”

“SEVEN!”

Maya remembers all her friends, waiting for her back home, counting on her: Yukio, Jolene, JC, Sophia, especially Sophia. She cannot lose now. She loses all care of her pain; thinking of it merely as weakness leaving the body, she summons the strength to stand up.

“EIGHT!”

Maya stands on very shaky ground, or is it her legs? Either way, she survived, hobbling back up the arena.

Matthew laughs at how stupid Maya looks. “You look really, really bad. I’m glad you stood up. I want nothing than to utterly defeat you. Five God Dragon, knock Maya down, forever!”

“I activate the monster you destroyed: Fiendfyre! I banish it and a FIRE monster from my graveyard!”

“And you will destroy my dragon and my life! Oh no, whatever shall I do!” Matthew gloats. “I banish Skill Prisoner from my graveyard to protect Five God Dragon!” Thus Maya’s fiery bullet bounces off Matthew’s dragon, leaving not so much as a scratch. “Let’s continue! My dragon, destroy her!”

All five of the dragon’s heads assault Maya with the four elements, but Maya uses all her strength to keep her ground. “I activate Dimension Exchange! I banish Golden God Phoenix from my Graveyard!” Her phoenix flies from the grave, rockets through the colorful fireworks from Matthew’s dragon, binds to the five-headed beast, then burns itself and its prey away.

Matthew grunts, disappointed. How persistent! Two turns later, Maya will revive Five-Headed Dragon to her field.

MAYA’S TURN: “Golden God Phoenix is banished during my standby phase, meaning I special summon my banished Malacoda!” The demon leader returns and, turning its real towards Matthew, makes a trumpet of its ass. Maya flips Matthew off to drive the point home.

“I set a card and end my turn.” Maya wears her proud and confidant mask, as always, yet beneath she writhes in doubt and self-loathing, like most of the time. She never believed in the heart of the cards, but if she could draw one more card…

MATTHEW’S TURN: “I’ve had it with your insolence! The duel will end now!” Matthew roars. He calls upon all the darkness of his body and soul, and lets the fires from his dragon overwhelm him. Flaming with hatred, Matthew leaps on top of his dragon in a single bound, binding himself with his monster. “Now I am a monster! I am the Golden God Dragon!”

“That’s new.” Maya comments wryly.

“You fool! I will blast you into oblivion!” Matthew slams Maya’s fiend with all his fury.

“I activate Spiritual Swords of Revealing Light!” Maya declares, paying 1000 life so the wall of shining swords can protect Malacoda. Enraged, Matthew lashes out again, and again Maya pays 1000 life to save her by the skin of her teeth. (MAYA LP 2500 à 500)

The beastly dragon roars, “I end my turn! There is nothing you can do, fool! Give up!”

Maya glares back at him, defiant as ever. “No one, not even the readers of this book who can see you’re most secret thoughts and emotions, will remember you as anything more than a spoiled child.” With these words, Maya draws her last card.

MAYA’S TURN: “Yes!” Maya speaks to her heart, drawing the card she needed. Her physical strength returns, and with it she gains the moral strength to look within her heart. Yes, Maya is a murderer, which means she can always become a monster, like Matthew, like every other human being. She is no longer an edgy teen living with an abusive father, or a celebrity in existential despair. She is a grown woman, which means making hard decisions and accepting the consequences of your actions. Matthew is too dangerous to be left alive.

Maya knows she has friends waiting for her at home, and a life worth living. Matthew threw away both. She has to defeat him once and for all. Their rivalry is over at last.

“I normal summon Necroface, and use its effect to return all banished cards to our decks!” A baby doll’s face, smashed, decaying, infested by a foul creature, absorbs the souls of every dead monster and every banished card into its body, the creature within growing in size until it rivals the size of Matthew himself.

“5600 ATK!” Matthew despairs. “NO!”

“I activate Pre-preparation of Rights, adding a ritual monster and ritual spell to my hand, and play Good & Evil of the Burning Abyss! I tribute Necroface and the Fluffal Dog in my hand to ritual summon a second Malacoda, Netherlord of the Burning Abyss!” Her offerings vanish, transforming through fire into Malacoda. “I use both their effects. I mill 2 Graff to cut you down to size.”

The ghosts of the recently deceased fiends possess the swords of their commanders. Both generals point their swords to Matthew in the sky, then, using their swords as reverse lightning rods, let the ghosts within strike their target.

Matthew limps in the air, his flight killed. Desperate, he screams, “KILL ME AND YOU’LL BE A MURDERER TWICE! YOU WILL BE A MONSTER FOREVER!”

“Goodbye, Matthew.” Maya bids these final words to her rival. She feels no hate, no regret, but oddly tranquil, the feeling of release when exorcising a demon. And fatigue. She is so tired, so very tired…

“Both Malacodas, kill Matthew.” Maya declares her last attack. The two fiends leap into the air and strike Matthew down from the sky. Matthew roars, cursing the world, and falls beyond the pyramid in golden flames, crashing to his fiery death in the darkness beyond. (MATTHEW 1500 à 0)

MAYA: 500 | MATTHEW: 0

All darkness vanished, leaving only the blazing sunlight in the early afternoon. Isono raised his hand, declaring, “THE 13TH BATTLE CITY TOURNAMENT IS OVER! MARINA BOZUSLOWSKY WINS THE TITLE KING OF GAMES!”

Maya walks, in a complete daze, to the center of the arena, looking down at Kaiba, at Pegasus, at the other finalists, and turned her vision to the wide horizon, to the infinite sky above and the infinite ocean below. The sun blazes her black hair, surrounding her head like a halo. The light only darkens her; her skin, her hair, her eyes, her look, and makes her look truly evil. Everyone gazes upward at Maya in awe, even Kaiba, even Xiaoyi watching from far away, even Sophia.

Maya lifts her hands in the air and looks at the sun directly, celebrating her victory in the only perfect moment in her life. Spending all her strength, she collapses into darkness.

————————————————-

CREATED CARDS

MAYA’S CARDS

Golden God Phoenix
DIVINE/Zombie/Fusion-Synchro-Xyz-Link/Level-Rank 10/ATK 4000/No Link Arrows
4 Fusion, Ritual, Synchro, Xyz, or Link monsters

  • Must first be Special Summoned from your Extra Deck by banishing 4 Fusion Materials you control of different Card Types (you do not use Polymerization). If this card was Special Summoned with the following Materials, it gains the the following Effects:
    • FUSION: If this card is targeted by a Card Effect; you can banish this card. Return it to your field during the End Phase.
    • RITUAL: If this card would be destroyed and sent to the Graveyard: you can banish 1 Fiend or Zombie; Special Summon this card.
    • SYNCHRO: If this card is Special Summoned from the Graveyard: inflict 500 damage to your opponent.
    • XYZ: If this card is banished, during your Standby Phase: you can Special Summon 1 banished Fiend or Zombie, ignoring all Summoning Conditions.
    • LINK: Once per turn during your Standby Phase; you can send 1 Fiend or Zombie from your Deck to the Graveyard.

Dimension Exchange
Continuous Trap
Banish 1 monster from your Graveyard: target 1 monster your opponent controls; banish it. During your 2nd Standby Phase after you activate this card: Special Summon your opponent’s monster, ignoring all summoning conditions.

MATTHEW’S CARDS

Golden God Dragon

DIVINE/Dragon/Fusion-Synchro-Xyz-Link/Level-Rank 10/ATK 4000/No Link Arrows
4 Fusion, Ritual, Synchro, Xyz, or Link monsters

  • Must first be Special Summoned from your Extra Deck by banishing 4 Fusion Materials you control of different Card Types (you do not use Polymerization). If this card was Special Summoned with the following Materials, it gains the the following Effects:
    • FUSION: If this card would be targeted by a Card Effect; you can banish 1 Dragon from your hand, field, or Graveyard. Negate and destroy your opponent’s card,
    • RITUAL: If this card would be destroyed; you can banish 1 Dragon from your hand, field, or Graveyard, and this card is not destroyed.
    • SYNCHRO: If this card destroys your opponent’s monster by battle: it can attack once more.
    • XYZ: If this card is in your Graveyard during your next Standby Phase; you can Special Summoned 1 banished Dragon during your next Standby Phase (ignoring all Summoning conditions.)
    • LINK: Once per turn during your Standby Phase; you can send 1 Dragon from your Deck to the Graveyard.

Dragon Mirage
Spell
Special Summon all Dragon monsters destroyed this turn. Their ATK and DEF are halved, they cannot attack, they cannot activate their Effects.

Xyz Drain
Spell
Detach 1 Xyz Material from 1 Xyz monster your opponent control and 1 Xyz monster you control: draw 2 cards.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 26

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I won’t write duel terms like “Normal Summon” or “Effect” with capitals anymore. They make reading harder. I will embolden all the important cards so readers can easily follow what cards are being used and when.  

Duel 26 – Power Struggles

MAYA: 8000 | MATTHEW: 8000

MAYA’S TURN: As Maya draws her next card, she speaks to herself, “Matthew may bounce Beatrice with his Celestial Spheres, but he must lose a Dragon to do so. He doesn’t want that. He wants to build his Materials to summon his God.” Maya sets a monster and ends her turn.

MATTHEW’S TURN: “What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue? No more wisecracks to throw at me? Golden God Dragon is mine!” Matthew gloats. “I normal summon Manju of Ten-Thousand Hands, and use its effect to add a Ritual Monster from my deck. Then I activate Red-Eyes to revive Hieratic Seal, and then I play Hymn of Light, releasing Hieratic Seal to ritual summon Saffira, Queen of Dragons!” A human-like dragon of great beauty graces the stage, and with her arrival, Matthew uses her effect straightaway; he draws 2 cards, and discards 1.

Maya refutes him with a complex argument, “Hold your horses! I use Beatrice to mill Blaze Accelerator Reload, then banish it to mill a Volcanic Scattershot, and use its effect to mill 2 more of its kind! I destroy ALL your monsters!” She commences her military operation, step by strategic step, throwing a tidal wave of flame at Matthew to burn away his entire army and scald his flesh. (MATTHEW LP 8000 à 6500)

Matthew quickly puts out the fires on his clothes, saving his life but burning his shoulders and chest, hurt by his own dark magic. He then recovers, “I play Dragon Mirage!” His whole army returns, but its ATK and DEF halved, and it’s unable to attack. “How predictable.”

MAYA’S TURN: As soon as Maya draws, Matthew declares, “I activate Celestial Spheres! Return Beatrice to your Deck now!” He shatters his red-eyed dragon; the Enneads sublimate Beatrice back into pure light. “Look at you, Maya. You have no field and only one card in your hand. Surrender now and I will spare your life, hell, I’ll even make you queen of my new world!”

Matthew never intends to keep his promise, of course, and Maya easily sees through the lie. “I used to respect you as a rival, but you went full generic anime villain just now. I might as well kill it with fire.”

Matthew scoffs, “Ha! What can one card do for you?”

“Lots. I normal summon Fluffal Dog, using its effect to search for Fluffal Bear, and discard it to play Toy Vendor from my deck. I banish Fluffal Wings and Fluffal Bear, and destroy my Vendor to draw 2 cards, then activate Toy Vendor in my graveyard to search for another Bear.”

With the first cycle complete, Maya proceeds to the next one. “I discard Fluffal Bear to play Toy Vendor from my deck. Now I use Vendor’s effect: I discard Fluffal Wings and draw 1 card.” Maya did so, and shouts, “JACKPOT! I special summon a second Fluffal Dog!” And as she conjures her second stuffed animal to join the first, she concludes the cycle. “I banish Fluffal Wings and Bear, and destroy Vendor to draw 2, and use the destroyed Toy Vendor to add a Fluffal monster to my hand.

Matthew becomes astonished; Maya gathered two level 4 monsters, which means… “Oh. Shit.”

“I’m not done preparing yet! I overlay the two Fluffal Dogs to xyz summon Number 39: Utopia, and overlay it; I upgrade it to Number S39: Utopia Prime and then to Number S39: Utopia the Lightening!” The valiant space warrior, the emblem of all xyz monsters, travels the overlay network to arrive to our dimension, then emboldens its armor and weapons, evolving to a higher form. “Yukio and my other friends will give you a message! Utopia, destroy the Celestial Spheres; I detach 2 materials to double its ATK!”

Maya and Yukio’s monster bounds high in the sky, cutting down all nine Enneads. It jettisons to the ground, landing right in front of Matthew, and strikes him with a devastating blow. Matthew screams in pure agony, blown off the arena, almost falling off the pyramid itself. He coughs blood, writhing, his head and shoulders dangling off the edge. (MATTHEW LP 6500 à 1500)

First blood, just like last time.” Maya smirks. Damn does that feel good.

Maria objects, “But that isn’t first your first damage; that was your Volcanic Scattershot combo.”

But Kaiba corrects her, “Pathetic effect damage doesn’t count.”

Matthew crawls his way back up the arena, hobbling from his injuries. While gathering his bearings, Maya sets a card, ending her turn.

MATTHEW’S TURN: “Woman, I swear to God, the Devil, and all in between, I will burn you to ash, piss on you, and scatter you to the winds! Mark my words!

“I activate Xyz Drain, detaching 1 material from your Utopia and my Heliopolis; I draw 2 cards. I play Monster Reborn to revive the Celestial Spheres. I have gathered all my offerings to the gods! I banish them all to summon GOLDEN GOD DRAGON!” Lightning shoots from the sky, blasting Matthew’s monsters, and the supreme god, finding the offerings to its liking, descends from the highest heavens.

Golden God Dragon, destroy Utopia!” Matthew screams with all his hatred. The dragon blasts Maya’s warrior with golden flames, and Maya too is burned. (MAYA LP 8000 à 6500) The attack briefly forces Maya on her knees since, unlike Matthew, she had sustained many injuries before the battle began.

“On your knees, whore; that is a woman’s true place.”

MAYA’S TURN: “I set a monster. My turn is done.”

MATTHEW’S TURN: “Just what I thought. My God Dragon, destroy both her facedown monsters!” The dragon merely brushes its wings to scatter its prey’s ashes. “And I set a card.”

“Good.” Maya says under her breath, more to herself than to Matthew. “You destroyed Graff, Malebrache of the Burning Abyss and Scarm, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss. With Graff, I summon from my deck Cir, Malebrache of the Burning Abyss, and with Scarm, I add Tour Guide to my hand.”

Matthew comments, “Fitting you use fiend monsters. Hell awaits you. I set a card.”

MAYA’S TURN: Hopefully, Maya’s next turn will kill Matthew, and if it doesn’t, she will at least mill her deck. “I link up Cir to link summon Charono, Ferryman of the Burning Abyss: with its effect I summon another Graff, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss from my deck, and with the effect of Cir, I revive Scarm.

“I link up Graff to link summon another Charono, Ferryman of the Burning Abyss, using its effect to summon Farfa, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss from my deck, and use Graff’s effect to summon Rubic, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss from my deck. I link up both Charonos and Calcan to link summon Spadiovolo Swordsman of the Burning Abyss!” Maya finished her infernal parade with her ace fiend, the devil with a sword who divides the bodies of schismatics in Hell.

Maya then orchestrates her angelic parade, wedding Heaven and Hell together. “I overlay Farfar with Scarm to xyz summon Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss, and use its effect to mill 3 cards. I detach Farfa to do so, so I bounce Golden God Dragon back to your deck!”

The fiend leaps unto the celestial dragon, grasping it, slowly dissolving it. Matthew is dumbstruck; how can this be? Then he understands; the materials used to summon his dragon determine its effects. He did not banish a fusion monster, so his dragon can’t block itself from being targeted.

Matthew responds with, “Skill Prisoner!” The trap cards renders his dragon immune, shooing the fiend away as if it is a fly, sending it back to the underworld. “Cute loophole abuse, but it won’t work on me.”

“Nevertheless, I banish Destiny HERO – Malicious and Carboneddon from my graveyard to summon another Malicious and Wattail Dragon, then overlay them; welcome back, Beatrice!” With Dante and Beatrice reunited, Maya turns her attention to other matters. “Spadiovolo, destroy his Red-Eyes!” And her fiend slays the dragon as a noble knight would; it even wields the same rapier as the infamous Earl of Demise.

MATTHEW’S TURN: “Resistance is futile. May God strike you down! God, destroy the filthy Beatrice and Spadiovolo!” The dragon blasts Maya’s monsters with all its fury, understanding the hatred burning within its master. The fair lady screams, dying flames and agony, but the fencing fiend however…

“I use Beatrice to mill a card, then I use Spadiovolo’s effect!” Maya rebukes her opponent, milling no less than 4 Burning Abyss monsters, doubling her creature’s ATK. Dragon and fiend collide, but only one monster dies. Matthew had used the effect of Golden God Dragon to save his monster. Meanwhile, Maya uses the dead Beatrice to instantly summon Dante, Pilgrim of the Burning Abyss.

“I set a card and end my turn.” Matthew grunts in disappointment. The duel rages on, neither warrior giving ground.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 25

Duel 25 – The Final Duel

The doctors in the medical room tended to Stella’s corpse as best they could: the whole procedure; IVs, EKGs, eye reflex exams: Stella did not return. She was truly in a coma. Maya no longer had the strength to be angry anymore to anyone, dropping to her knees in tears. Stella might as well be dead. Perhaps if she defeated Matthew in the final duel, if she killed him in his own twisted game, the act would revive his victims. Such a thing happened in the first Battle City, supposedly.

Maya suspected, in her grief, that Matthew’s defeat was a false promise at best. Xiaoyi minted Matthew to copy Malik, but only from zinc. What made her think Matthew would be man enough to fulfill such a promise? Maya held nothing but a false promise, and she had to kill another human being to get it, maybe. She was so tired of this stupid tournament, so tired; Yugi could only have felt the same way. Money, fame, finding yourself, fulfilling a destiny: none of it was worth such toil and murder.

Mokuba Kaiba set a few white flowers he brought with him on a stand by Stella’s bed. His older brother, Seto Kaiba, of course did not bother to look at the mess he made, but Mokuba was to blame too. He allowed his older brother to prepare and execute the entire tournament, down to the final duel where Maya would fight Matthew.

And Pegasus? Well, Maya thought, a dapper aesthete was a true nihilist if there was one. She wondered if Sophia was just a shiny trinket to him, a pearl he trusted to her to briefly care for, like Maya was Jared’s. And Maya? She played her part just by participating. She did put Stella in a coma after all, but oddly enough, she felt slightly better understanding that responsibility. It meant she had some power, and not everything was beyond her control. If she could defeat Matthew in his own shadow game, maybe, just maybe, Stella, Mathias, and Hannibal would all return to life.

Seizing her power, Maya edited her Deck one final time; now it was time to use her own God Card, finally, and the Deck would focus on bringing it out. She climbed back up the pyramid to the arena on top, and she discovered Matthew already there. Her heart was so lacerated, she had gone through so much stress; she was too tired to even hate him. She simply disliked him at this point, like he was another low-rated douche of the week she had to defeat.

And she judged this cooler attitude was for the best. It would not cloud her reason.

The day had reached high noon, and Matthew gazed at the horizon where ocean met sky with a wistful unfocused look. He said, “You know the Pyramids at Giza used to be coated in white and capped in gold? Now they are mountains of rubble. And you know our great city, New York, with its silver and grey skyscrapers clawing at the sky like Gothic cathedrals, and all that? It will soon be an empty place, a junkyard with tons of rusted metal. I used to believe that our city, our civilization was worth protecting, keeping pure, but I don’t care anymore.”

Maya coughed a bit as snot went down her throat, and she scoffed at him, “I really don’t care about the white man’s existential crisis. Civilizations, especially the property-owning classes you truly refer to when you say ‘our city’, are by nature poor excuses of human societies. ‘Our civilization’ was never mine, and people like you love to drive that point home. Everyone, everything, dies. Attacking scapegoats, like you did, only showed you to be a desperate coward, but I’m glad you finally understand the obvious, even if you needed to become an exile of your own city to get it.”

Matthew laughed bitterly at hearing everything Maya said. “You ruined my life, Maya. I can’t wait to kill you in this duel.”

And Maya said, “I will kill you, Matthew. I will be done with you once and for all.”

Maya remembered something Yukio said, which was: “But no matter what happens we’ll be together. And yes, Maya, I mean it. It’s not a cliché. If we stick together, trust each other, help each other, we can overcome anything.” Maya hoped they would support her; though they could not telepathically send her good thoughts like anime characters magically do, she thought it somehow help. It wouldn’t hurt.

Far, far away, way back in a New York City apartment, JC, Yukio, Jolene, and Sophia watched the duel commence from Jolene’s laptop.

JC drank a large bottle of coke, and grumbled, “She’d better kick his ass or I’ll fist her harder than the parade guys who live here.”

“You fist gay guys, JC? Gross!” Yukio joked, sipping a beer. “I only wish for Maya to win. She worked so hard with us for this goal, she risked so much; she only deserves total victory.”

Jolene bid everyone clasp a crystal, which everyone did while groaning. She offered what would be called a prayer everywhere else: “Please, may the cosmos bless Maya so she may win and be happy.”

Sophia had nothing witty or silly to say, and didn’t even know if she liked Maya that much. She simply said, “Good luck, Maya. May success be yours.”

DAY 13 : 12:00 PM : ?????

Back at the pyramid top, Seto Kaiba snapped his fingers with impatience. “Isono! Begin the duel now!” He commanded.

The referee readily obeyed, announcing, “MAYA BROOK VERSUS MATTHEW CARTER: THE GRAND FINAL DUEL FOR THE THIRTEENTH BATTLE CITY CHAMPIONSHIP! DUEL START!”

MAYA: 8000 | MATTHEW: 8000

MAYA’S TURN: “I Special Summon Primitive Butterfly from my hand, and activate Brilliant Fusion, milling Lazuli and Fluffal Wings to Fusion Summon Gem-Knight Seraphinite!” Two pretty creatures worlds apart, an emerald butterfly and sapphire knight meet in one space. “I use Butterfly’s Effect to raise its Level to 6. I Tribute Seraphinite to Summon Destiny Hero – Malicious, then overlay it with Butterfly to Xyz Summon Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal!”

Matthew smirks at the arrival of the blessed lady, “I never thought someone like you believed in the eternal feminine.”

“I don’t.” Maya corrects him. “Her dress and manners are pompous and gauge, yes, but she’s a great coworker. I activate Jewels of the Valiant and set a card.” Maya’s voice is joyless; her hand might as well be a dead draw.

MATTHEW’S TURN: “My God… My God…” He screams in an exalted yet despairing laugh. “Yes, I have the perfect hand! Prepare to see my grandfather in Hell!”

“Bring it!” Maya braces herself for the worst.

“Oh, I will. Revenge is mine.” Matthew gloats. “I Normal Summon Hieratic Dragon of Eset, and Special Summon Hieratic Dragon of Su with Hieratic Dragon of Nebthet as the Tribute, which activates, letting me Special Summon Hieratic Seal of the Sun Dragon Overlord!” A parade of three gaudy Egyptian dragons arrive in pomp and circumstance.

Maya comments at the sight, “Dragons from China, dragons from Egypt, dragons from Dragon Tales… I’m tired of these grandiose creatures. When will it end?”

“When thou shalt succumb to mine Wrath & Die the Death!”

“Even the way you talk is old-fashioned.”

“As opposed to what, modern degenerate existential dread!”

“Um,” Maya blinks twice in astonishment, amazed at Matthew’s lack of self-awareness. “I know I’m the black person here, but damn you sound like the pot right now.”

“Enough of your ridicule!” Matthew roars, his shout nearly shaking the ground, “I overlay Eset and Su to Xyz Summon Hieratic Dragon King of Atum, which I activate to: Special Summon a second Hieratic Seal of the Sun Dragon Overlord!” Two more dragons join the army. “I banish Atum to Special Summon Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon, and use its Effect to revive Su!” Matthews field now totals to four great reptiles.

But his turn isn’t over, of course it’s not; with a Hieratic player? “I link up Red-Eyes and Su to Link Summon Hieratic Seal of the Celestial Spheres, and overlay my 2 Hieratic Seals to Xyz Summon Hieratic Sun Dragon Overlord of Heliopolis!” The nine celestials Enneads and the supreme sun god arrive, hovering high in the air above the reach of mere mortals. “I Tribute 2 monsters in my hand so Heliopolis can destroy your entire back row!”

Maya quickly declares, “I activate Fiend Grieving: I shuffle a dead monster back to your Deck and mill Farfa, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, then use it’s Effect!” A winged fiend springs from Maya’s Graveyard to banish the nine glowing spheres, at least for now.

“Not enough!” Matthew continues to build his army. “Hieratic Dragon of Nebthet and Hieratic Dragon of Eset activate as I Tributed them: I Special Summon Luster Dragon 2 and Galaxy Serpent from the Deck, then tune them to Synchro Summon Stardust Spark Dragon!” Two dragons great and small, emerald and white, merge in stars of white and green to bring forth the iconic dragon.

All of Matthew’s dragons stare down at Beatrice in menace, but the lady remains stoic in the face of danger, much like Maya does. Matthew doesn’t care. The game is his! “Dragons, destroy Beatrice and kill my sworn enemy, once and for all!” The entire army merges its firepower into a single devastating blow, but even that world-shattering power bounces harmlessly off Beatrice.

Matthew demands what happened with fury and frustration, and Maya reveals to him the trick. “I used Beatrice to mill Electromagnetic Turtle, then used it to end your attack.”

Matthew ends his turn in vain, cursing everything from his birth to Xiaoyi to Maya herself. How could Maya utterly refute his grand opening turn with one pathetic card? The Enneads return, the heavenly beings uncaring of the turmoil the mortals endure below.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 24

Duel 24 – Slaying the Dragon

Stella finally has her key card in place, a card that will seal Maya’s fiends back in Hell where they belong.

STELLA: 700 | MAYA: 3100

STELLA’S TURN: “I Normal Summon Night Dracolich!” As the black draconic skeleton crawls up from the dust below, Stella muses to herself that this is the first time she Normal Summoned this entire Duel. Yugioh was such a different game back then…

“Chaofeng attack Charono!” The ferryman is a weak Link Monster, and as such, Maya can’t switch it to Defending Position to spare her Life Points. As her heavenly dragon readies himself for the attack, Stella sprung her trap, “I activate Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror!” And as the evil spirit from Dark Necrofear haunting the field leaps from the dragon to strike Stella down and finish the duel, a magical mirror catches the evil spirit and puts it in place.

Free from evil restraints, Chaofeng pulverizes Charono with the light from its body. (MAYA LP 3100 à 700) Maya looks mildly surprised and amused, but Stella can see the bead of sweat falling from her forehead. “Wu’tien, attack Uria and finish the Duel!” Stella knows Uria needs Continuous Trap Cards in Maya’s Graveyard to gain power, and with only 2 buried there, its ATK is very weak.

“GOTCHA!” Maya seems to jump from out nowhere, like she popped from the darkness itself. “I banish Fiendfyre and a FIRE monster from my Graveyard!” Wu’tien leaps to the attack with her sword but a wall of flame generates from thin air, knocking the dragon empress back. The wall of flame collapses into a meteor, and Stella knows what will happen next.

“I destroy Dracolich for Wu’tien’s effect!” The empress dragon tosses her subject to the meteor to take the hit, dispersing the flames. Stella’s monster is spared and Stella does not take the damage that would have finished her. But her Battle Phase ends all the same.

“I set a card and end my turn.” Stella says, admitting her campaign failed, and Dark Necrofear spells another letter: “A”.

“Two more turns left.” Maya reminds her with the obvious, just to rub it in her face.

MAYA’S TURN: “I play Pot of Avarice!” She returns 5 dead monsters to her Deck and draws 2 cards. “Rats…” Maya softly speaks to herself; she has a nice big hand but it does not look promising. Maya did not believe a duelist could generate so much advantage and still have nothing, until now. “What a terrible deck. I must redo it.”

Maya thinks about how Mathias would have a field day with Maya playing Pot of Avarice. The Saints have a little in-joke amongst themselves where Maximus owns the prized card and Mathias makes every desperate attempt he can to get Maximus to trade it away. And with that brief thought, noticing the void where a big man with an even bigger garrulous laugh would be, Maya feels her heart pierced with a terrible sadness.

Maya had not felt this way since her mother died. Mathias did his best, giving all of his strength to protect her, and the world, from Matthew’s wrath, and Maya realizes her mother did nothing different. The poor woman, abused from her husband, did all she could to protect herself and her child. And Maya’s father? He did not have an easy life, and was disowned by his family, but so was Maya’s mother. That was no excuse.

“I put all my monsters to Defending Position, and I use Uria to destroy your facedown card.” Her monsters meekly obey her, but Uria does give Stella a sly punch below the bely by destroying her facedown Trap Card.

Maya destroys her Link Monster, protecting her Life, “I Tribute Charono to Set a monster facedown and set a backrow card. My turn is over.”

STELLA’S TURN: Stella knows Maya has something up her sleeve. She never admits defeat unless she ruses the opponent to play a dirty trick, but what other choice does Stella have but to fall for it? “Chaofeng, destroy Beatrice, the center of Maya’s Deck!”

The dragon volleys three balls of white-hot fire at the fair Lady of the Eternal, but Maya has something up her sleeve, “I activate Delta Barrier to negate your attack!” She revives 2 Continuous Traps from her Graveyard to aid the first one in blocking the dragon’s attack.

Undeterred, Stella barks, “Wu’tien, destroy Uria!” Her dragon empress slays the dragon demon by cutting off its head.

It would be hilarious if you nerfed Destiny Board at the last moment.” Maya jokes. “Boy, would I be salty!”

“You will be.” Stella replies in kind, “To gloat so early! I activate A Wing Beat of Giant Dragon! I return Wu’tien to my hand to destroy ALL Spells and Traps!” The reigning dragon queen rises to the heavens for the last time, her wings growing bright in tremendous size. She shunts her wings once, and vanishes in a flash, blowing away the Destiny Board, and Dark Necrofear dies a second time.

“Well I’ll be damned!” Maya shouts in utter shock as her strategy is shot to bits.

“You’ll never beat me with such a cheap trick!” Stella remonstrates her opponent. “I should slap you just for being that arrogant.”

Maya admits, “You losing to Destiny Board would disappoint me. I’m very happy you overcame the Occult Combo, but I must ask; why not destroy it sooner?”

“That’s my secret.”

“Or your mistake. I play a second Pot of Avarice!” Maya turns to you and all the other readers. She asks, “Can someone tell me what Pot of Avarice does?”

“Stale jokes are stale, Maya.” Stella nags impatiently, “Make your damn move already.”

“Very well. I set a monster. Turn over.”

STELLA’S TURN: “Well that was short. Not much to do when losing. I activate Preparation of Rites. I return a Ritual Spell and add a Ritual Monster to my hand, and I activate Yang Zing Cycle!” She Tributes Wu’tien herself in a surprise move; and as the sun has the moon, as light casts a shadow, as the mountain shares the land with the valley, a new darker dragon empress emerged. “I Ritual Summon Ci’xi, Dragon Empress of Yin!”

“When she is Ritual Summoned, Ci’xi adds two Wyrm monsters to my hand. Now Chaofeng, destroy Beatrice!” The old dragon succeeds in conquering the maiden this time, but his success is short lived. As Beatrice dies, Maya gives rise to Dante, Pilgrim of the Burning Abyss!

“I use its Effect.” Maya says. “I discard a Burning Abyss monster to draw a card.” When Stella reminds her that Chaofeng can now block the Effects of DARK monsters, Maya retorts, “Nah, really?”

“Ci’xi, destroy Dante!” The dark dragon empress draws her sword, a straight blade barbed with deep grooves like a shark’s teeth, screams a savage roar, and mercilessly butchers the pilgrim. Stella discards a card from Dante’s Effect; the penalty a player pays for slaying him. “I destroy a Wyrm in my hand to have Ci’xi attack again! Destroy a facedown card!” The evil queen slaughters the innocent Fluffal Wings under its hiding place.

“Since I destroyed Chiwen, Light of the Yang Zing, I Special Summon Taotie, Shadow of the Yang Zing from my Deck; and then, Taotie, destroy Maya’s last monster!” The second dark dragon pounces on its prey, killing the Fiend underneath.

“I set a card and end my turn.” Stella then understands the awful truth. Maya never planned on winning with the Occult Combo; she used it merely as a distraction to build a counterattack. In Battle City, Bakura played the Occult Combo as his ultimate strategy. Maya used the king as a pawn.

MAYA’S TURN: “I banish Fluffal Wings and Fluffal Bear to draw a card. I now use the other Effects of the Burning Abyss monsters: I Special Summon Farfa, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss; Cir, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss; and Graff Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, and I Tribute them all to Special Summon Raviel, Lord of Phantasms!” Three devils from the malebolge appear soon to give obeisance to the last Sacred Beast.

“I activate Fallen Paradise. It’s just like…” Maya pauses to prompt a response.

“Pot of Greed.” Stella groans.

“Exactly. It allows me to draw 2 cards from my Deck.” And Maya does so, enjoying the vista created from her Field Spell, especially the large withered tree and the forbidden fruit clinging to a ruined branch. “Raviel, attack Chaofeng! It can’t be destroyed in battle, but you can!”

“I activate Damage Diet! I take half the battle damage!” Stella counters; both she and her monster are spared from death. (STELLA LP 700 à 450) 

“Very well. I set a card. You’re move.”

STELLA’S TURN: “Ci’xi, attack Raviel!” As the dark dragon queen leaps to split the fiendish titan in two, Stella adds, “I destroy Zefranu in my hand to double her ATK!”

“And I activate Power Wall!” Maya mills 4 cards and spares her Life. Ci’xi fails to even scratch Raviel with her blade and, seeing this, bounces back to her space in retreat.

“Good grief! That was situational!” Laments the astonished Stella. “I end my turn!” Stella does not worry too much. She has one last Wyrm monster in her hand, ready to sacrifice it to double Ci’xi’s ATK any time.

MAYA’S TURN: “To win is not enough,” Maya tells herself, “You must win to make a point. I must defeat Stella in a more intimate way. Please, let this work!”

Maya says, “I activate Good & Evil of the Burning Abyss! I Tribute Hammon from my hand to Ritual Summon Malacoda, Netherlord of the Burning Abyss!” Maya loses her entire hand to complete the ritual, giving rise to an imposing fiend brandishing its own deadly rapier.

“It will be a devil, not a knight in shining armor, that will slay the dragon. Malacoda, kill the dragon queen!” The dragon queen and chieftain fiend joust together, clashing blades, locked together in mortal combat.

On seeing the combat, Stella remarks, “How fitting an end. I’m the dragon queen, the best Dragon Duelist in the world, and you are a wicked fiendish person.”

“Yes,” Maya agrees, seeing the battle unfold. Her father was a fiend, but so is she; how could she complain and not be a hypocrite? She became like her father. He was a broken man who broke her; so Maya reasons she is forever broken too, and she instinctively touches the side of her mouth and eye.

She burns with anger; she hates her father with every inch of her body, down to the strands of her hair and tips of her fingernails becoming hot with fiery anger, for breaking her, for crippling her for life. Maya tightly squeezes her face with her hand, lost in the black smog of her hatred, but a clear light, a sudden thought, bursts through; we are all helpless in this world in some way or another, and understanding that and forgiving a bad person does not support or condone their evil. Maya doesn’t need to hate him anymore.

It is interesting how thoughts work. Maya took three seconds to complete the entire journey.

Stella announces, “I use Ci’xi’s Effect: I destroy Suanni in my hand to double her ATK.”

Maya snaps out of her thoughts, “I use Malacoda’s Effect: I mill another Malacoda to bring her ATK down.”

“But Chaofeng stops you!”

“I know, why I activate Breakthrough Skill! I banish it to negate Chaofeng’s effect!”

Cixi requests assistance of Suanni, the fire dragon, who willingly gives its life to power its queen’s blade. Malacoda, in turn, commands aid from another devil in Hell, and from the power of its spirit, the captain of the Hellish squad breaks Ci’xi’s blade. Disarmed, outraged, but not beaten, the dark queen impales Malacoda with her first, killing him. (MAYA LP 300 à 100)

“Good!” Maya thinks to herself. She baited Stella to waste her last defense. “Raviel!” Maya commands as a general in victory, “Destroy Chaofeng! Win the game!” The dragon of light and lord of darkness clash in an epic struggle, but Raviel wins the arm wrestle, slashing Chaofeng with a mortal wound that kills him. Ci’xi and Stella can only watch helplessly as their army falls in ruins. Maya, through Malacoda, made her real retribution; not by killing Ci’xi, but by letting her live to suffer her defeat. (STELLA LP 450 à 0)

STELLA: 0 | MAYA: 100

Stella dropped to her knees, feeling utterly weak, the dark magic surrounded everyone was already doing its work, draining her life force away. Maya sprinted to her as fast as possible, grabbing Stella’s shoulders to keep her from falling. Maya said, nearly crying, “I understand now. I forgave my parents. They were only human. I’m sorry, Stella, for everything I did.”

Stella put one tender hand on Maya’s cheek. “I know.” She fell into darkness, the darkness leaving with her. Maya holstered Stella’s body on her back; her body trembling and stressed, the warm spring breeze felt as ice as to her, and she carried the coma Stella to the hospital herself.

————————————————

CREATED CARDS

STELLA’S CARDS:

Wu’tien, Dragon Empress of Yang
LIGHT/Level 8/Wyrm
2600 ATK/2800 DEF
Ritual Monster

  • This card must first be Special Summoned with the Effect of “Yang Zing Cycle”.
  • When this card is successfully Ritual Summoned: Special Summon up to 2 Wyrm monsters from your Graveyard.
  • Once per turn: you can destroy 1 Wyrm monster you control; draw 1 card.
  • If this monster would be destroyed by battle or Effect: you can destroy 1 Wyrm monster you control, and it is not destroyed.

Ci’xi, Dragon Empress of Yin
DARK/Level 8/Wyrm
2800 ATK/2600 DEF
Ritual Monster

  • This card must first be Special Summoned with the Effect of “Yang Zing Cycle”.
  • When this card is successfully Ritual Summoned: return up to 2 Wyrm monsters from your Graveyard to your hand.
  • Once per turn: you can destroy 1 Wyrm monster from your hand or field; double this cards ATK.
  • Once per turn: if this card destroys a monster in battle; you can destroy 1 Wyrm monster from your hand or field, and this card can attack once more.

Yang Zing Cycle
Ritual Spell

  • Tribute Wyrm monsters from your hand or field whose Levels equal 8 or more: Ritual Summon 1 “Wu’tien, Dragon Empress of Yang” or “Ci’xi, Dragon Empress of Yin” from your hand.

MAYA’S CARDS:

Fiendfyre
FIRE/Level 1/Fiend
600 ATK/ 500 DEF

  • If your opponent’s monster attacks while this card is in your Graveyard: you can banish this card and 1 other FIRE monster; destroy the attacking monster and, if you do, inflict damage equal to half the monster’s ATK. End the Battle Phase.

 

 

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 23

Duel 23 – Tactics Mashup

Stella suddenly remembers: Maya is playing Bakura’s Occult Combo from the first Battle City! Armed with this knowledge, Stella overcomes her shock and gazes at Dark Necrofear in the eye; she is indeed a sinister creature, her true power unleashed when she is slain; but the last time Stella studied her, her Effect was greatly watered down from its original power through countless reprints over the years, and the same is true for Destiny Board. How can Maya even assemble all the Spirit Messenger pieces anyway, what with milling her Deck and all?

The Occult combo isn’t scary at all! Stella gets that feeling of relief when you shed light on a sinister shadow in the dark and it turns out to only be furniture. Maya splashing out Dark Necrofear was nothing but a cheap jump scare to psyche her out, like those modern horror films pass for genuine terror these days. Now Stella transforms again from being terrified to relieved to annoyed, and so she chastises Maya, “Acting like a copycat fangirl is no way to duel in the finals. You’re flippancy is really starting to piss me off now. How dare you treat our relationship as a joke!”

“No jokes here, I’m dead serious.” Maya says, and she means it; the way she locks down her gaze at Stella tells it so. “And to prove it, I promise you I will never use my god card against you this duel.”

Matthew falls back in shock, in total disbelief he cries out, “What! But you never played it once!”

“You’re right.” Maya dignifies him with an answer. “I don’t play cheap cards like you do, like the way Yugi pulled the god card Osiris out of his ass to beat Bakura at the last moment. Winning with a god card does not show your skill; it shows the opposite; you might as well say, ‘I can’t beat you with my own skills so I have to use a broken card instead!’ Yugi and Kaiba did just that for their entire careers.”

Kaiba contorts his face into an even deeper scowl than the one he usually has, seething, he growls, “You insolent parasite to society, I will disqualify you right now –”

“And what’s gonna’ happen then, big guy? Half of all duelists will quit Yugioh. You’re company will go bankrupt within a week, Google or Disney will buy it out, you’ll shoot yourself in your office, and Mokuba will return to the orphanage. – By the way, Joey is a working class hero.”

Kaiba prepares himself to give the most disparaging retort we can think of but Pegasus cuts the discussion short. “Can we please return to the damn duel already! Have sex after the tournament!”

STELLA: 3500 || MAYA: 4700

STELLA’S TURN: “You missed one important thing, Maya.” Stella declares. “My Chaofeng stops the Effects of DARK monsters. You’re strategy is shot! Chaofeng, destroy Dark Necrofear!” Her dragon easily burns away the darkness with the radiant light from its body. (MAYA LP: 4700 à 3600)

“Now, Wu’Tien, attack directly!”

Stella fell for the first trap, so Maya triggers her second one, “Light-Imprisoning Mirror!” Both of Stella’s monsters get coated with a halo of sorts, but one that pulls them down like dead weight, and with that, Maya shouts! “SPIRIT BURN!” A ghost, the one from Dark Necrofear’s baby doll, leaps out of Stella’s monster and shoots through Stella like a bullet, cutting away her Life and giving the spoils to Maya. (STELLA LP 3500 à 2100, MAYA LP 3600 à 5000).

Stella gasps in shock and frustration. “SHIT!” Maya is using a Dark Necrofear of original print! How did she get her hands on such a rare card! Regardless, Stella’s turn is over. “I set a card facedown.”

Now for Maya’s final trap. “I activate Destiny Board!” The deceased spirit of Dark Necrofear rises from the grave with a Ouija board, looming over Maya’s field, and moves its planchette to the first letter. A ghostly fiend rises forth with the first message: the letter “D”, as in “D”, “E”, “A”, “T”, “H”. Once Maya spells DEATH within four more turns, she will instantly win the Duel.

Stella gasps, her moods changing again within fifteen minutes: from terror to relief to annoyance to frustration to wonder. “And it’s not censored! That’s so cool! If only Mathias could see this!”

Matthew shrinks away in disgust, mumbling to himself. “Lousy hypocrite, using broken cards…” And he mumbled some more.

MAYA’S TURN: “Everything is in place,” Maya speaks to herself. “Let me built my counterattack while Stella is distracted. – I still didn’t draw Jewels of the Valiant. Crap.”

“I banish Dark Summoning Beast in my Graveyard to add a Sacred Beast to my hand, and so I send my 3 Triangle Force to the Graveyard to Special Summon Hamon, Lord of Striking Thunder!” The dark skies around them loudly bellow with lightning to herald, as trumpet fanfare, their lord.

“Preparations are not yet done. I discard Fluffal Bear from my hand to Set Toy Vendor from my Deck, then I activate it: I discard Fluffal Wings to draw a card.” Maya takes the vendor’s cheap prize and shrugs, discarding it: a useful Trap Card called Breakthrough Skill. “Anyway, I banish Fluffal Wings and Fluffal Bear, and destroy Toy Vendor, to draw 2 cards.” Once Maya did that, she used Toy Vendor’s other Effect to search for yet another Fluffal Wings, and she finally finished her chore.

Time to attack; Maya commanded her monster, “Hamon, launch your lightning at Chaofeng and destroy him!”

Maya’s monster is very large and intimidating indeed, but Stella easily stops it. “I play Storming Mirror Force!” All the sand of the island seems to gather around them as a hail storm and, raining hard on the lord of thunder, forces it to retreat back to Maya’s hand.

Maya sets a card and ends her turn in a huff.

STELLA’S TURN: “Maya, you’re Occult combo was an awesome surprise but that can’t beat me.”

“You know what they say, a player surprised if half beaten.” Maya says, winking at her.

“But only half. I’m not scared of Dark Necrofear and her aborted fetish baby, not even when they’re dead. If I intuit things right, Dark Necrofear’s Effect most likely resembled the modern print of Dark Sanctuary. Your Spirit Burn attack depends on the flip of a coin, like a fifty-fifty chance a fetus becomes a boy or a girl.”

“And what if it lands on its side?”

“Then we’ll call the little hellspawn transgendered and I’ll buy you a Bourbon, but only if you beat me.” Stella then clenches her fist, steeling her resolve, hoping luck is on her side. She drew a card she needed to seal Maya’s monsters forever, but she wants to hit Maya while she can, and Maya must play her part by destroying it.

“Wu’Tien, hit Maya directly!” Stella commands. The empress dragon does not, can not attack; the spirit possessing the field leaps out of her again, tearing away more of her life. (STELLA LP 2100 à 700, MAYA LP 5000 à 6400) Yet Stella is not frightened by such a move, she moves in for another attack, throwing her life to chance. And chance rewards her! Chaofeng smashed Maya with bars of light sprouting from its body, with no evil spirit blocking it. (MAYA LP 6400 à 3100)

Stella sets 2 cards, and as she ends her turn the spirit of Dark Necrofear spells another letter on her Ouija Board: “E”.

MAYA’S TURN: “I play the Trap Fiend Grieving: I return a Yang Zing monster from your Graveyard back to your Deck while I mill Graff, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, and use its Effect to Special Summon Cir, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss from my Deck.” Two fiends from the fourth malebolge arrive from Hell on schedule, but only one stays.

“I link up Cir to Link Summon Charono, Ferryman of the Burning Abyss, and use his Effect to Special Summon a second Graff, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss from my Deck.” The Link 1 monster rows his way through the air from the River Styx to the field, a humble yet dangerous monster.

“And more, I use my second Graff to Link Summon another Charono, Ferryman of the Burning Abyss, and use his effect to Special Summon Farfa, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss from my Deck, and my second Graff, now destroyed, does likewise, so I also call upon Scarm, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss!” Another ferryman appears with a couple of Fiends attending to him.

“I Tribute Summon Dark Summoning Beast and Tribute it to Special Summon Uria, Lord of Searing Flames from my Deck.” One of Maya’s ferrymen vanish to make way for a larger more savage creature, which in turn dissolves away to bring forth a large vicious red dragon. “And I use its Effect to destroy your facedown card.” The great red dragon emblazons with fury and destroys the hidden trap. Stella nearly jumps for joy, as Maya hit the jackpot, but she would never dare reveal it.

Thankfully for Stella, Maya can’t attack with Uria this turn. Still unfinished, Maya maneuvers even more through her convoluted dance, making Stella wish she drew the exact card sooner. “I overlay Farfa and Scarm to Xyz Summon Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss, and send Calcab to the Graveyard to Xyz Summon Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal!” The two fiends collapse to form the famous Dante, who sublimates in the eternal feminine to summon Beatrice.

And with the Effect of Calcab, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, Maya bounces one of Stella’s backrow cards to her hand. Stella doesn’t care, as Maya already fell into her trap. Regardless, Maya did assemble all the infernal society to her court.

Matthew moans in utter boredom at the sidelines, and hollers out to everyone, “Can you please finish your turn already!”

“If only I could.” Comes Maya’s replay. “The game would be far less tedious.” She resumes her turn yet again. “I activate Jewels of the Valiant and banish Dark Summoning Beast from my Graveyard to add the last Sacred Beast to my hand, and with that I use Jewels to mill a monster. I set a card and end my turn.”

Matthew sighs in relief, acting like a little boy when he finally gets a marshmallow his mother promised him.

Now it is Stella’s turn to sigh in relief. She said, “I’m sorry, Maya, but you fell into my trap. I activate The Lost Ark in my Graveyard! Since you destroyed it this turn, I can Set any Trap Card from my Deck facedown. You gave me exactly the card I needed to smash your occult combo!”

Maya is all too eager to see Stella try, for it would be boring if Maya did win with Destiny Board, and regains a fondness for Stella she did not feel in a very long time. But a duel is a duel, so she pretended to be nervous and incredulous. All she said was, “Bring it!”

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 22

Duel 22 – Huge Clash, Tiny Arena

Maya touched the hologram cards projected from her duel disk, moving them this way and that to edit her deck. Yes, she beat Maria but she was horrified at how bad her was; bit to the very sixty-card limit, it was bursting from the seams. The Sacred Beasts were powerful all right but they were unwieldy was a giant club. Maya took a few cards out, added a few more; Burning Abyss needed more support. She would deal with the Sacred Beasts later, but she had no time at the moment.

Stella quietly and solemnly made her way up to the arena, and Maya realized at this moment how tiny the arena truly was. People were like vast gulfs unknown fathoms deep, but blocked from each other by mountains. Games, at least this one, were a way to make the mountain vanish for a while, and when the two gulfs blend you get a tempest. Maya doubted any arena could contain such a thing.

Maya saved her file in her duel disk; her deck was ready. She said to Stella, “Ready to give everything you have?”

The air was very tense, and both duelists couldn’t properly breathe, but Stella did answer, “If we were any closer I would punch you in the face.”

“That’s the spirit!”

STELLA: 8000 || MAYA: 8000 

STELLA’S TURN: “No mercy, Maya! Here I come! I play Yang Zing Cycle, I tribute 3 Wyrm monsters to Ritual Summon Wu’Tien, Dragon Empress of Yang!” The famous yin-yang symbol appears behind her as three Chinese dragons dissolve into the yin half of the cosmos circle, then the empress of light flies out from the white dot in the darkness. “And with her Effect I revive Toatie, Shadow of the Yang Zing and Bi’an, Earth of the Yang Zing!” The dragons of shadow and earth, one large and muscular, the other small, appear beside their queen.

“I activate Qu’Tien again, destroying Taotie to draw a card, and from Taotie’s death I Special Summon Bixi, Water of the Yang Zing from the Deck.” Enter a new dragon of water, resembling a turtle, to replace the old one. “I tune Bixi and Bi’an to Synchro Summon Denlong, First of the Yang Zing, and use its Effect to searh for Zefraxi, Treasure of the Yang Zing, and I Normal Summon it.” Water and earth blend into a primitive dragon of white hot light, and a small dragon of jewels joins it. “I tune Denlong and Zefraxi to Synchro Summon Yazi, Evil of the Yang Zing, and from Denlong’s Effect I Special Summon Chiwen, Light of the Yang Zing!” A large black dragon of evil replaces the first dragon of light, taking its jeweled friend with it, but a new light dragon now joins the party, small and bright as a lightbulb.

“I play Soul Charge to revive Denlong, Pulao, and Taotie!” And three Chinese dragons return from the Graveyard, but Stella pays a steep price to make it so. (STELLA LP 8000 à 5000) It is well worth the effort. “I set a card facedown and end my turn.”

MAYA’S TURN: “I draw!” Maya finds Stella’s army formidable, but also amusing. She used to spam the field with monsters too, just a week ago in fact. Well, it is time to see if she truly matured in her strategy. “I set a monster and a back row card. I end my turn.”

“What?” Stella can’t make out such a move. She has an entire army of the Dragonstar Ten and Maya just baits her? She could at least set three cards or something like that! “You will pay for disrespecting me!”

STELLA’S TURN: “I’ll get rid of what little defenses you have. I use Yazi’s Effect to destroy itself and your back row!” Dragon and card shatter instantly.

Maya rejoices, “Good! You fell for my true trap! You destroyed Blaze Accelerator Reload, which triggers it’s Effect: I banish it to mill Volcanic Scattershot from my Deck, which lets me mill 2 more!” The cumulative power of all these moves is a tidal wave of fire; the disaster burns all of Stella’s monsters to a crisp before washing away the ashes. (STELLA LP: 5000 à 3500)

Almost all. Wu’Tien remains standing, as regal as ever. Stella let herself smirk at the result. “Sorry, Maya. That may work against Maria but not me! I had Wu’Tien pop one of my monsters to save herself, and you forgot one crucial fact: Yang Zing monsters can replace themselves! I call forth Jiaotu, Darkness of the Yang Zing; Bi’an, Earth of the Yang Zing; Suanni, Fire of the Yang Zing; and Pulao, Wind of the Yang Zing!” Four new dragons appear from the orient, with all the colors of the rainbow.

“Hmph!” Maya bushes away this new development with scorn.

“I tune all my Yang Zing monsters to Synchro Summon Chaofeng, Phantom of the Yang Zing!” The rainbow of dragons returns its source of white light, from which comes their emperor of many colorful flags. “I activate Path of the Yang Zing: I shuffle 3 Yang Zings back in the Deck and draw 2! Wu’Tien, slay the facedown monster!” The empress readily obeys her master, ironically, and splits the monster beneath it with her elegant curved sword.

The monster is Graff, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, but Maya knows she can’t use it, because Chaofeng stops all monster Effects with Attributes used to Synchro Summon it. In fact, the only monsters she can use for Effect purposes are LIGHT and WATER monsters, and she has none of the latter. And that’s not all! Chaofeng can’t be killed by battle or effected by Spells either. This is bad.

Stella holds the lights of joy and victory glinting in her blue eyes. “Chaofeng, hit Maya directly!” The great dragon hits Maya with a savage gust from its wings, propelling her on her back. (MAYA LP 8000 à 4700) “I end my turn. I told you I’d punish you for a flippant move!”

“And so you have.” Maya says in a nonchalant way as she resumes her posture, not revealing the extreme pain wracking her chest. Dueling is the last thing you should do with broken ribs. With every breath making Maya feel like she is being stabbed, it was a wonder indeed she didn’t faint from the first duel.

“However,” Maya reveals to her former lover, winking at her. “You showed your hand too early, and no army of Technicolor dragons can compensate.”

“I’m not worried. No amount of cockiness will cover that bluff.”

“But you should be, Stella. You walked away from me last duel. You don’t know all my strategies. Who is disrespecting who again?”

Stella bites her lip on hearing those words. Maya is right.

Matthew, that manchild, comes up with something he thinks is the cleverest idea in the world. He calls upon the dark powers Xiaoyi bequeathed him, once more smothering the arena in a fog so black no sunlight can pierce it. The young man laughs in a villainous triumph, “The ultimate shadow game has begun! Former lovers, now you are the bitterest enemies! For the ultimate sadistic choice, only one of you can make it out alive, the other dies! How ironic, the one person you once loved more than any other is the person you kill! Who will it be!”

Maya and Stella both freeze from the news, but only for a moment. They effortlessly laugh it all off, throwing Matthew into bewilderment and frustration. “Are you kidding me!” Stella shouts from up the arena. “Everyone wants to kill their ex! Lamest! Supervillain! Plotwist! Ever!” Before she convulses into coughs.

“NO!” Matthew screams. “NO! NO! NOOOOOOO! You’re supposed to be full of despair!”

Maya yells at him, “You’re not Jigsaw! Take a seat, you amateur, and shut up! We’re having couples therapy over here!”

“But Xiaoyi says I’m a special villain. When will it be my turn to win for once?” Matthew whimpers with his eyes staring at the ground, and that just causes Maya and Stella to ridicule him even more.

MAYA’S TURN: “Speaking of which, I play Triangle Force, letting me activate 2 more from my Deck, and I set two cards. Good luck, Stella.”

STELLA’S TURN: “I’ll punch your confidence to the dirt with Matthew, where both belong, and because it’s a shadow game, you’ll feel the damage for real.”

“Nearly getting my ribs broken twice felt pretty real.” Maya objects.

“Then wait until you see my Yang Zings nuke you like China would nuke Japan if they wanted to; monsters, attack!” The dragon empress swung her sword at Maya while her partner fired a volley of wind and thunder, blowing the typhoon over to knock out the puny human that stood in its way.

“You fell for my second trap!” Maya declared. “I activate my 2 Traps, Power Wall!” Maya mills a total of 13 cards from her Deck, and both dragon emperors are rendered impotent. “I can’t use Burning Abyss monsters, but I can activate Toy Vendor in my Graveyard, adding a Fluffal Bear from the Deck to my hand.”

“Damnit.” Stella grits her teeth in frustration, then makes a gentle laugh. “You are slippery snake, aren’t you.”

This left-handed complement makes Maya smirk ever so slightly; she says, “Oh please, Xiaoyi called me a snake too, and both of you embarrass me. A snake implies mystique and elegance, and I have neither, nor would I want them. I’m more like an ass or a pig: stubborn and shameless, but shrewd and with good memory.”

“So that’s why you don’t eat pork. It would be cannibalism.”

MAYA’S TURN: “I activate Toy Vendor from my hand, then I banish Fluffal Wings and Fluffal Bear, and destroy Toy Vendor, to draw 2.” And the vendor appears and vanishes with a snap of the fingers. “I use Toy Vendor’s Effect in the Graveyard, adding a Fluffal Wing to my hand.”

Maya gives herself pause at this moment to relish what will come “Yes, everything is in place! It’s time for a little old combo to come back from the grave.” Before Stella can even ask what that cryptic comment means, Maya says, “People look with nostalgia to the past, until they experience it again. I banish two Burning Abyss monsters and Tour Guide to Special Summon DARK NECROFEAR!”

The dark arena grows even darker, if such a thing is even possible, as a ghost haunts the field, its presence so eerie even Kaiba gets the chills. “Come out!” Stella shouts, her voice growing in fear. “Show yourself!” And the fiend obliges her, condensing into human form from the darkness: of a tall gaunt woman in dark blue skin, holding the cracked remains of a baby doll.

Stella’s fear turns into fury. “What are you trying to pull, Maya!”

And Maya answered. “Donkeys live very long. You’ve never seen a dead donkey, have you? I set two cards facedown. Attack me, if you dare.”

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 21

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I’m reading the collection of Orwell’s essays titled All Art is Propaganda. In one of those essays, Orwell discusses the big gap – chasm, really – between writ English and spoken English, and suggests ways to set spoken English down on paper. Internet chats, like on Facebook and Twitter and Reddit, create a bridge in their own unique way. What you read now is how I sound like when trying to explain something complex to someone, after I tidied it up a bit; taking out my Valley Girl “likes” and “you knows”, erasing repeated phrases, joining block sentences together to link ideas together – I mentioned this before – and so forth. I will try writing future chapters the way I tell a story to someone, with refining. 

I have a larger ambition to rebuild the English language as we speak it from the ground up. I try avoiding most words with more than three syllables unless I’m forced to for some reason. I try making real physical people do things, not abstract concepts that do not truly exist. Epistemic poststructuralism does not state truths, Derrida states truths. I try using the active tense as much as I can. I try replacing a person’s “state of being” with actions that person. I try avoiding any jargon as much as needed. Rather than merely state a general truth or theory, I SHOW it with concrete examples.

I know, I still write badly. I talk about how to write, so my Author’s Note is pretty abstract. I will probably violate my rules even more, but I will try. Writing prose like the spoken word is pretty hard, but I can be more forceful and direct. What do you think? 

Duel 21 – Two Sides of the Same Coin

Mokuba jumped up the pyramid’s platform to attend to Mathias’ body, amazing since he was so small and short, and Stella hid her teary face with her hands, no longer able to control her grief. The tournament hosts looked on at a distant space far out the arena as if nothing special happened; Kaiba cold and scowling, Pegasus bemused as if watching Funny Rabbit. Rex and Weevil cried out together in shock and huddled around Stella. Even Maria came over to lend Stella a hand over her shoulder.

But Maya remained numb; she was locked to the tiny space of the ground she stood on, unable to move. She looked on with such a daze her vision became unfocused, vaguely making out the blurs she saw to be the doctors Mokuba summoned hauling Mathias’ large corpse away, doubting she ever felt as helpless in her life as she felt right now.

Matthew happily hopped off the arena, as satisfied as a fat cat after a hearty meal; his inner darkness apparently got full from the shadow game version of Fancy Feast. But our inner darkness, whether vengeance or envy or greed, or in Matthew’s case all three, is a bottomless stomach. Nothing truly satisfies it. Matthew looked pretty smug at this point, whispering in Maya’s ear, “I just beat buffalo chicken pizza man at his best game. I doubt you can bear the girth of my dark powers in the final duel.”

Maya did find a way to express her emotions, badly as usual. She fisted Matthew in the stomach as hard as she could, only half aware of what she was doing, and Matthew returned her favor by kicking her cunt, and Maya gave him a facial, clocking him the jaw. Both playground children clutched their wounds after their scrap, but neither would dare say they were hurt.

“I didn’t know you were a man, Maya.” Matthew taunted her, as if she needed balls to be wounded in the crotch.

Maya admitted he was right. “At least I have balls. You have nothing to kick.” And both duelists parted on that note.

Maya arrived to the medical room, seeing Mathias lying comatose next to Hannibal. Rex and Weevil sat against the wall, Stella sitting on a chair near the hospital bed. “Full yourself together.” Maya told her with a stiff voice. “Our duel is in fifteen minutes.”

Stella shot up from the chair like a rocket and grabbed Maya’s shoulders. She shook her. Her friend’s brain just probably died and she just stood there like Kaiba! What is her problem! Stella pulled at Maya like she was a shut clam, trying to force her open, but Maya struck back like a stubborn ass, kicking Stella away. Maya gripped the ivi needle penetrating Mathias’ vein, ready to pull it out, and roared like a wild animal, “Want to know how I feel! I am so distraught and angry I don’t know who to kill more; I want to kill Matthew like I wanted to kill my dad for years for doing everything he did, but I want to kill Mathias for failing us the way my mom failed protecting me and decided to drop dead instead! Words cannot describe the satisfaction I felt when Mathias finally died!”

Maya and Stella stood at exactly the same height yet Maya menaced over her, her black locks seeming to stand up, making her look larger the way a beast does when threatened or enraged. Mokuba and his team of doctors arrived to protect their patients, Mokuba threatening Maya with an ominous taser gun. Maya was sure pissed but she wasn’t stupid. She backed away from Mathias’ body.

“I knew you were messed up but I never thought you were an abuser.” Stella told her. “But I should’ve known better; you had all the signs.”

“I never so much as squeezed you’re tits too hard when we were together.”

“Until now, when you could’ve given me a miscarriage if I was pregnant.”

“It doesn’t count. We’re not together anymore.”

“It does matter. You abuse friends. It will only be a matter of time when you abuse partners too, assuming you didn’t abuse anyone before you met me.”

Maya complained, “You know, I never have these problems with men. Be pretty, fuck him often, and a man is happy. A man is simple and reasonable, but a woman complicates all that is petty and unworthy of serious thought with their stupid feelings. What more did you want me to do when we were together, Stella? Did you want me to buy presents for you every day? Hug you and say ‘I love you’ every passing hour? Happily let you do anything you wanted even if you were wrong?”

Stella stood her ground; she stared the beast in the eye and did not budge. “No, Maya. That is not what I – what women – what everyone – what even you need. We all have emotional needs to keep our hearts full. I’m sorry your heart starved throughout your life, so of course you wouldn’t know how feed it or anyone else’s.”

Mobuka prodded them both, his patience gone. “Divorce court is open air. Out.”

The two women sulked away from the medical room, Maya mumbling, “Mokuba being assertive? That’s a new one.”

She held Stella’s hand with her own hand, as if saying sorry for the violence she did earlier. Stella said, “I totally get you hating your dad and all, but why hate your mother for dying? She didn’t decide to die from lung cancer.” Maya refused to say anything, but Stella understood. Maya’s mother could have stopped Maya’s father father from hitting Maya until she bled and burning her mother’s hands with boiling water, but did not. “Can you please forgive your mother and your father? They’re only human. Don’t do it for me, do it for yourself.” When Maya said no, Stella added with the right force, “You will never defeat Matthew’s dark powers as long as you have darkness inside.”

“Did Yugi tell you?” Maya could not help but make sarcasm. “You must’ve watched episode 134 because Yugi lectured Kaiba on that very thing, as if Yugi ever had any real demons. Then again, he supposedly is a reincarnated pharaoh or something stupid like that, which makes him a god anyway.”

“But he spoke the truth; it’s still valid.” Stella responded, keeping her voice firm. “Can you forgive your parents?”

Nothing embarrassed Maya more than airing her daddy issues, like dirty laundry, out in the spring air, but when she felt Stella tighten her grip on her hand, and vowed, “I know I don’t show sentiments easily. What other people show with feelings I show by deeds. I promise you, as certain as the sun directly above us, I destroy Matthew in the finals and restore Mathias and Hannibal to life. You have my word.”

Stella placed her other hand on Maya’s cheek, caressing it with all the warmth and softness of a spring breeze. “You have to beat me first, silly.”

Maya remembered their first date, when Maya dueled Stella for her affection and barely won. “Then it’s a date.” And Maya headed off to the arena.

Yugioh Created Cards (Duels 18-20)

MATTHEW’S CREATED CARDS:

Golden God Dragon
LIGHT/Dragon/Fusion-Synchro-Xyz-Link/Level-Rank 10/ATK 4000/no Link Arrows
4 Fusion, Ritual, Synchro, Xyz, or Link Dragon-Type monsters

  • Must first be Special Summoned from your Extra Deck by banishing 4 Fusion Materials you control of different Card Types (you do not use Polymerization). If this card was Special Summoned with the following Materials, it gains the the following Effects:
    • FUSION: If this card would be targeted by a Card Effect; you can banish 1 Dragon from your hand, field, or Graveyard. Negate and destroy your opponent’s card,
    • RITUAL: If this card would be destroyed; you can banish 1 Dragon from your hand, field, or Graveyard, and this card is not destroyed.
    • SYNCHRO: If this card destroys your opponent’s monster by battle: it can attack once more.
    • XYZ: If this card is destroyed; you can Special Summoned 1 banished Dragon during your next Standby Phase (ignoring all Summoning conditions.)
    • LINK: Once per turn during your Standby Phase; you can send 1 Dragon from your Deck to the Graveyard.

Dragon Buffer
Normal Trap

  • If a Dragon you control was destroyed this turn and you control no monsters: Special Summon 4 “Buffer Tokens” (EARTH/Dragon/Level 1/ATK 0/ DEF 0) in Defense Position.

 

Janur, the Dark Dragon Herald
DARK/Dragon/Level 4/1800 ATK/1600 DEF

  • You can banish this card from your Graveyard: Special Summon 1 Level 6 or lower Dragon from your Deck, and Special Summon 2 “Dragonshade Tokens” (DARK/Dragon/Level 1/200 ATK/200 DEF) on your opponent’s field.

 

MATHIAS’ CREATED CARDS:

Rainbow Return
Normal Spell

  • Special Summon 3 banished “Nordic” monsters. They cannot be used as Tributes and are banished at the end of this turn. You cannot attack or activate any other Spell or Trap Cards this turn.

Dimension Recycle
Continuous Spell

  • Once per turn: if one of your monsters was banished last turn; you can return 1 banished monster to your Graveyard.

Name Change
Continuous Spell

  • You can target up to 3 different monsters on the field. Target 1 monster; change its Name. After you activated this card 3 times: send it to the Graveyard.

ANIME CARDS:

Pump Up
Normal Spell

  • Target 1 monster you control: double its ATK until the end of this turn.

Ragonorak
Quickplay Spell

  • Activate this card if you control 2 monsters with the Names “Dark Magician”, “Dark Magician Girl”, “Magician of Black Chaos”, or “Dark Sage”. Banish all monsters in your hand, Deck, and Graveyard: destroy all monsters your opponent controls. This card’s activation and Effect cannot be negated, and all Effects that would prevent a monster from being destroyed cannot be activated.

 

 

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 20

Duel 20 – Clash of the Titans

Matthew draws his next card, forcing all his rage into the duel. He will kill Mathias, smash his head to the ground!

Matthew: 4000 || Mathias: 4000

MATTHEW’S TURN: “I activate Mound of the Bound Creator!” The Field Spell raises the pyramid top to the ground, four towers gilded with huge chains jettisoning to the top. The Act changes to another Scene. “Golden God Dragon, attack Thor!”

Mathias catches on to Matthew’s plan, thus countering, “I play Negate Attack! Your golden dragon’s Monster Effect is too slow to stop a Counter Trap!”

“As I foresaw.” Matthew then counters the counter. “Trap Jammer!” And the Trap Card shatters, and Thor shatters too. “And with Mound’s Effect, you take another 1000 damage!” Matthew commands thunder to spring from the four primeval pillars acting as lightning rods to strike Mathias down. (Mathias LP 4000 à 2500) Matthew snorts on seeing the pathetic sight, “Look how the mighty have fallen. I set a card.”

But as Matthew ends his turn, the frazzled Mathias jumps back to his feet, as strong as ever. “I banish a Nordic Beast from my Graveyard to revive Thor!” The smoky remains of the fire from Matthew’s dragon, gather together and blaze again, reforming the Nordic god, as if time is reversing. “And you take 800 damage.” Thor strikes Matthew down with lightning of its own from its fingertip, the impact knocking him to the ground. (Matthew LP 4000 à 3200)

“You’re pathetic, Matthew, to see you struggle from one little bolt.” Mathias scoffs at his would be student. “I set a card and end my turn.” On the inside of the mind, Mathias mulls over his strategy yet again. Matthew is like a glass cannon; he inflicts more damage but has a much weaker body. Perhaps Mathias can win the war of attrition and he won’t need to play his dangerous trump card. Atem used it against Malik in the Battle City finals, as it was the only Spell that could destroy the nigh invincible Winged Dragon of Ra. Matthew’s Golden God Dragon is clearly a similar beast.

MATHIAS’ TURN: “I use Dimension Recycle to return a banished Nordic monster. I switch Thor and Loki to Defense Position and set two cards facedown.” Mathias holds a small glimmer of hope. He drew one piece of the puzzle needed to defeat Matthew. 

MATTHEW’S TURN: The young man lifts himself up with much effort, recovering slowly, but he powers through. His small reveal of weakness is humiliating enough. Speaking of which: “3000 ATK plus monsters in Defense Position? Have you no shame?” He snorts at such cowardice. “Let me fix that for you: Final Attack Orders!” The two Nordic Gods stand once more ready for battle.

“Golden God Dragon, destroy Thor!” Under Matthew’s command, his dragon incinerates Thor once more. “And Mound deals you 1000 damage.” Matthew comments, gathering thunder from the pillars once more.

Mathias stands prepared, and acts at the key moment. “I activate Cosmic Cyclone! I banish your Mound of the Bound Creator!” A raging storm sweeps over the arena, dissolving Matthew’s Field Spell and returning everyone to the pyramid Scene.

“But you lose 1000 Life to play it, and soon you’ll lose far more. The result is the same!” Matthew argues back in resentful defiance, his golden dragon’s flames burning Mathias once more, but the Saint refuses to back down. (Mathias LP 2500 à 1000) “I set a card facedown.”

“And Thor rises again to deal you 800 damage.” Mathias counters, reviving Thor again through the usual means. “Now bow before God!” Thor strikes Matthew again, forcing him on his knees. (Matthew LP 3200 à 2400)

Matthew struggles back on his feet, grumbling, “You’re deadliest sin, pride, will come back to haunt you, Mathias.”

“Touché. Now it’s my turn.”

MATHIAS’ TURN: “I reuse Dimension Recycle once more to return a Nordic Beast monster. I play Pump Up on Thor!” His Spell doubles the god’s ATK to the 7000! The Lord of the Aesir busts in a golden aura, shattering his cloak and armor, its muscles bulging into terrible huge shapes.

Weevil and Rex duck for cover, both crying out, “Oh God, it turned into a Super Saiyan!”

“Thor, slay the dragon!” Mathias’ giant swings its hammer about to strike the head off its enemy. Thor swings in, coming centimeters close to ending the duel.

But Matthew wills the duel to continue; such is he, driven by an infernal hatred. “I play Storming Mirror Force! Now your God will bow before me!” But Mathias refuses, activating Trap Stun. But Matthew has a countermeasure in store. “I play Widespread Ruin!” But Mathias is one step ahead of him, activating Loki’s Effect to dispose of the Trap. But Matthew is yet another step ahead. “I activate Divine Wrath!” He discards a card from his hand; judgment reigns from on high to punish the trickster Nordic god for its impudence; while Thor is obliterates in an explosion from Matthew’s booby trap.

Mathias grits his teeth in frustration but feels a flicker of pride, not for himself but for Matthew. “That was an amazing chain. You would give Maya a hell of a fight in the finals, and I would want to see that more than anyone else. But you’re dueling me! I revive Loki and Thor, returning a Trap Card to my hand and giving you 800 damage.” The two gods reform from the darkness as if nothing happened to them, and Thor flicks Matthew with another thunderbolt. (Matthew LP 2400 à 1600)

MATTHEW’S TURN: “I destroy Thor with Golden God Dragon!” The cycle repeats; Matthew’s dragon wipes out Mathias’ Thor; Mathias revives Thor and deals Matthew his just desserts.

Both duelists have reached their limits, with Mathias standing at 500 Life while Matthew clings on to 800 Life. Matthew fairs far worse among the two, his legs warbling, his body slightly crouched and leaning ahead as if he is on shaking ground. Mathias looks a little worse for wear but he retains good shape with his usual confidence.

Yet Mathias’ resilience does not sooth Maya and Stella’s worries any bit. Mathias may look good but he is losing the duel, and if he does lose… he will fall into a coma as Hannibal did a mere two hours ago. Mathias has been nothing but a good friend to them, his odd affection rubbing off on them throughout the tournament. Mathias seemed so invincible both women forgot he was mortal after all, but now his very real chance of dying struck them with awful realization, like a poisoned dagger to the heart.

Stella recalls how she took her mother’s very existence completely for granted until she got breast cancer, and Maya paid for her surgery, greatly easing the financial burden. The same fears overtake her and the same tears well in her eyes, ready to fall at the slightest push.

Maya recalls her own mother, sweet and deeply warm yet never smiling, succumbing from her own cancer. She witnessed her mother’s dying in full, down to the death rattle leaving her throat and the light leaving her eyes, but felt nothing, overwhelmed by a kind of numbness. It was as if the conflicting emotions of grief on the one hand and a perverse kind of satisfaction on the other would tear the young girl to pieces if they warred against the other, so her body shut them down.

MATHIAS’ TURN: Mathias draws his next card. YES!!! The last piece of the puzzle! Finally the nightmare would end and he would have a blast taking Maya out in the finals and – one great Red Dragon would remain; he. Will it not prove him to be the evil the Headmaster had predicted?

“I set 2 cards…”

MATTHEW’S TURN: “I activate Night Beam, popping your middle facedown card!” Surely enough, a surveillance camera of sorts emerges from the darkness, fries the hidden Trap Card, Trap Stun, and discreetly dissolves away to whence it came. “I set a card and end my turn.”

MATHIAS’ TURN: The Saint gathers his courage to draw his last card. The moment of judgment is at hand. He pleads to his God with a quick and silent prayer; please may Matthew not win and the Headmaster’s prophecy not come to pass. “I activate the Set Spell Name Change! I treat Odin as ‘Dark Magician’, Thor as ‘Dark Magician Girl’, and Loki as ‘Magician of Black Chaos’! Now, my true Spell Ragnorak!”

Mathias banishes every monster he owns except for his Nordic gods, the field flooding with a spiraling train of Matthew’s monsters, the precession so grand it even catches the stoic Kaiba and Maria off guard. Maya and Stella jump with hope, even hugging each other for a second before remembering how they hated each other.

Pegasus tosses his hands in the air. “HALLELUJAH!” He ejaculates in adulation.

“I banish a Dragon from my Graveyard to save my monster!” Matthew cries, but Mathias soon corrects him. Ragnorak can’t be negated and no monster can avoid destruction. Odin, Thor, Loki, all three gods embrace Matthew’s one god, trapping it in a magic circle. A column of bright searing gold falls from the sky to the earth to return the golden dragon to its origins.

With Matthew’s field clear of monsters, Mathias can make an attack. “Now my Lords of the Aesir, smite the sinner and grant me victory!” The three Nordic gods strike Matthew with their strongest attacks – except they don’t. All the attacks bounce away from their target as if Matthew is protected by a massive wall, which he is. His Golden God Dragon has returned!

Mathias is dumbstruck. How!? Then he sees Matthew’s Permanent Trap: Dimension Gate. Matthew must have secretly banished his own monster when the beam of light from Ragnorak struck it, which should have finished Matthew off but only gave him the key to victory.

“You could have beaten me!” Mathias gasps in shock. “Why did you not attack last turn?”

Matthew smirks. “Pity.”

Matthew seizes the chance to victory, launching his devastating attack. “Dragon, kill him.” The Golden God Dragon rises into the black sky as a phoenix and crashes down on Mathias, the field overtaken in a deadly tornado of flames. Mathias screams in the agony of the damned, his Nordic gods burn away to ash, the finalists duck for cover.

Mathias thinks of his comrades, Dan and Ivy, once more, telling his heart he loved them, as if he could send his thoughts beyond the flames and darkness around him to reach them, and blacks out. His vengeance satisfied, Matthew calls upon his Golden God Dragon to leave. The flames die down, the dragon returns to the sky, the darkness lifts to reveal Mathias laying motionless on the ground. The Saint has fallen.

Matthew: 800 || Mathias: 0