Yugioh Endgame – Duel 24: Blitzschach

The high mage Anubisius does not sleep but prepares for war for the enemy is coming. He summons his servants to have his war suit ready, and so they equip their master with armor and weapons fit for his tall muscular body. The servants wrap him in a special bullet-proof nanofiber that resembles the white linen for wrapping mummies, green armored plates, and a thick shell to protect his entire back that also functioned as a backpack for storing weapons.

For the final touch, Anubisius dons a jackal mask, now transformed from man to god. What is a god but a man who has thoroughly mastered the natural and human worlds? Mere mortals still trapped in their bipartite reality struggle for survival with the fittest prospering and the weak perishing. The god rules this world as his dominion, an animal so strong it transcended such a kingdom by having no competition.     

With these thoughts, Anubisius grips his Millennium Key so tightly his knuckles pop. “Let the rats and dogs of the animal kingdom come.” He proudly declares. “The battle begins.”

Meanwhile, among the army of Egyptian soldiers and Ghoul criminals, Maya abruptly changes plans. She will take out Anubisius’s army first, burning herself out, then Mathias and Yukio will take over when drones and other reinforcements arrive. Once they burn out, the army can more easily secure the place and trap Anubisius. If the reinforcements arrive early, Maya will need to call her supernatural backup early.

Maya, realizing the trap her enemies prepared for her at the very last moment, tells Hassan, Mathias, and Yukio of the sudden change of plans. They argue with her that dreams are too uncertain a message. “You are as capricious as a tyrant!” Hassan scorns her. “No better than my father!”

Disappointed and worried, Maya brushes off this attack and stalks to a place by herself to meditate for ten minutes, fusing into her Ka, building up in explosive fire until she becomes a dormant volcano soon to erupt from millennia of slumber. If she cannot persuade her comrades to her strategy, she will force them to battle on her terms lest everyone fall into the trap and be destroyed, and – snap! – six blazing wings erupt from her back, two long horns crest her head, her eyes become the color of the dawn sun, and she brandishes a flaming sword. 

She leaps into battle, mowing down the lawn of poppies into a fiery channel. The first group of soldiers wonder if the rising sun is brighter than usual but night falls on them right afterwards. The other soldiers shriek as if they see Satan himself and desperately fire round after round at the wall of fire, all in vain. The bullets miss the lioness entirely or vaporize from the heat surrounding her. Only one bullet makes it, but it harmlessly embeds in her chest vest.

The drones soon arrive to drop missiles at their target, one almost hitting Maya. She dodges to safety at the last moment but the ricochet from the explosion propels her backwards, and she twists in the air, landing on all fours like a cat does lest she break her neck by falling face first. Then she completely commits to the air, forced to deal with more dangerous opponents. 

“What in the Lake of Cocytus is she doing?” Mathias cries in dismay.

Yukio curses in frustration. “I don’t know, but we must help her!” His bond to the mother of his child overrides his reason, and so he uses the same technique Maya did to partially merge into his Ka, No. 39: Utopia in a few minutes. A bewildered Mathias has no choice but to follow him, somewhat merging with own Ka, Horus the Black Flame Dragon LV8.   

Hassan recognizes the situation they are in. The ground attack must not cease and battle must resume immediately. He summons the army of Egyptian soldiers and Ghouls, and they rush to battle. The ground fight is a stalemate of equal bloodshed at first but the scales slowly tip in Hassan’s favor. Yukio and Mathias take to the air to aid Maya in the aerial battle, for she is vastly outnumbered by several hundred drones. 

Whizzing about the sky blooded red from the early sunrise, the three flying warriors seem to flit in and out of existence from one point to another without any moment in between, puncturing one drone after another, like a hive of wasps warding off a rival tribe. With the drones overcome, it is now time to capture Anubisius, duel him, and win his Millennium Item. Time is running out, since the warriors’ halfway form can be sustained for at most fifteen minutes.

Mathias, Maya, and Yukio sunder the roof of Anubisius’s mansion like a crashing meteor, exposing their leader. The terrified Anubisius feels as if stripped naked despite his powerful armor. He fires his automatic guns at them only for the bullets singe to ash from the warriors’ magic aura of fire. He throws several grenades at them but to no avail. Mathias bats one grenade away. Yukio dodges the other grenade, and it kills several of Anubisius’s men on the plantation field below through friendly fire. Maya kicks the last grenade back to him like it is a deadly hacky sack, blowing Anubisius away.

The high mage is reduced to crawling in front of a large chair. Had he not worn armor, the grenade would have killed him. He brandishes the Millennium Key in a last effort to defend himself. Commanding its ancient magic, he attempts to separate the Ka of his assailants from their bodies. The warriors concentrate hard to resist the separation through sheer force of will, but they succeed though with exceeding difficulty, since pulling out a Ka half fused with the Ba is like separating sublime love from carnal desire.   

Mathias, Maya, and Yukio pause to catch their breath, sweat dripping from their foreheads. Maya, being the most greedy for victory and eager to destroy another Millennium Item, whips her flaming sword at Anubisius. The latter considers hiding in a foxhole leading to a vast secret chamber below the plantation doubling as a Momentum Generator.

“Um…” Anubisius formulates a half coherent thought for the approaching Maya. “I’m just gonna let you do your firebending nonsense while I take a vacation and – Look! A dragon!” He points to the sky.

Maya nears Anubisius, intending to cut his fingers off one by one until he duels her. “I’m not falling for that.”

“No, for realsies!” Anubisius pleads, his claim as sincere as his desire to live.  

The man is right. A mighty white dragon with six wings and the power to rival the gods, as bright as the sun in mid day, assaults the three warriors, battering them hundreds of feet in the air. Maria has come to the rescue, her Ka and Ba completely fused as one. With a single shout, Maria decimates Hassan’s army with a terrifying burst stream of destruction. Hassan and a handful of soldiers are miraculously saved by Mathias, who conjures a magical silver shield of dragonhide to protect his comrades at the last moment.

Hassan praises Allah, kissing the ground as he does so, but Mathias falls to the ground all winded out. The cost of defense was too high. The great Blue-Eyes White Dragon prepares for another attack, but Yukio rushes up to her in the air, aiming his blade for the heart. He hopes the medieval fable of a dragon’s weakness being the heart is true, but he never gets to find out since the white dragon bats him away with her wings. The white dragon then prepares for another attack.

A new dragon appears from nowhere, a chimera with the scales of ancient reptiles, the plumage of exotic birds, the gaudy fur of the great cats, and the long face of the apes, another six-winged divine beast with the brilliance of a star. This dragon hits the white dragon in the dead center of her chest with a golden breath of electromagnetic plasma, throwing the white dragon into the horizon and atomizing Anubisius’s mansion in the way.  

The dragon of variegated colors pounces after its rival without a millisecond of rest. The dragons clash in the orange and pink vault above, or do they dance like the wandering stars beyond the planets? They lock burst streams for a moment until their energies violently inflate into a devastating wave that blinds the sun and shatters the earth. All these events take just over a minute. 

Had Maya entered fresh into battle as a dragon she would have lasted a few minutes. But now, already fatigued from warring beforehand, she pushed far past her limit. The feathered dragon collapses on the ground, once more becoming Maya, her naked body gashed, scratched, battered, burned, and bruised.

Yukio rushes to help her up, Hassan following. Mathias briefly ponders, on seeing Maya’s body, if Eve and Serpent were truly one and the same, but the white dragon looming above shatters his reveries. A Ghoul gets a rude idea in his head; he touches Maya’s inner thigh under the pretext of helping her get up. He plans to stealthily grab Maya by the groin when no one is looking, but the pious Hassan, incensed by such outrageous conduct, shoots the Ghoul in the face, ending the lecherous fool’s life.

The white dragon dishes its final onslaught. Yukio conjures a shield of his own, what looks like a white technological marvel from the distant future, and joins Mathias in combat. The two warriors unite into one defense, planted to the ground as a great oak, and together they disperse the white dragon’s lightning torrent. The exhausted beast retreats, flying away to fight another day, vanishing from sight within a second.

Maya, breathing heavily, asks in a hoarse voice, “Where is Anubisius?”

“He most likely ran away.” Hassan answered.

“That cretin!” Maya raves, frothing at the mouth. Smoke might as well billow from her nostrils. “I’ll send that fool back to Fortnite!”

“You’re not even wearing pants.” Mathias teases her.


“I need to destroy that goddamn coward.” Maya insists.

“You need a band-aid and a nappy.” Yukio retorts in good humor. He detaches a small magnetic backpack that miraculously stuck to Maya’s back this whole time. He finds a duel disk inside as well as a small touch-screen device, a device whose function he does not understand, so he decides to ask Maya about it later. Yukio bandages Maya and swaddles her in a blanket while Mathias carries her. 

Two men, one of Hassan’s soldiers and a Ghoul, drags a cowering and shaking enemy soldier before their leaders. “Well, well, look what the cat dragged in.” The Ghouls sneers, thinking himself rather sardonic and clever.

“Wait, how can the cat drag anything in?” The soldier interjects. “There is no ‘in’ out here.”

“Who cares!” The Ghoul draws a dagger to the cowering man’s throat. “Where’s your boss? Your capo with the goofy name? Answer now or I’ll slaughter you like you’re a chicken!”

The man, though shaking, refuses to answer but instead boasts he would gladly die than tell. Yukio orders the Ghoul to stop. He promises the enemy that he would not kill but keep him captive as a prisoner though with reasonable accommodations. He is not a cruel man. “But if you tell me your master’s location, I will let you go. I swear by my blood.” The enemy spills the beans and Yukio releases him, true to his word.

Meanwhile, Anubisius consolidates himself in the secret chamber beneath what used to be his mansion. He really hopes no one finds him. Getting caught in a foxhole is so 2003. Just embarrassing. Next thing he knows, Yukio barges in, making him jump with a start.

“Yo, waddup.” Yukio greets him. “Get ready for the Shadow Realm, big guy.”

Yugioh Endgame – Duel 23: 4.5D Chess

Little Narmer runs to his mother who still sleeps under the green light of dawn. “Mommy! Mommy! Wake up!” He calls, but his mother might as well be a rock. He nudges her, pushes her, jumps on her back, but the mother slumbers. “Mommy, I’m hungry!” He demands, but he gets nothing. He jumps on her again. She remains a stone. He jumps on his mother once more, but she loses no beauty sleep. 

He slams into Maya, who in her dream sees everything happening to her from above, and she wakes up. She expects to see her child by her side and her husband in the living room, but instead topples through the air to meet the harsh yellow light and arid sand of the desert. She sees a sphinx, which barely surpasses her height by sitting on a granite slab, but the beast appears colossal, and its head has the silky black hair, pale skin, and narrow dark brown eyes that can only belong to Yifan.

Maya notices for the first time a legion of men draped in black robes and cowles like the Ghouls, each man waiting his turn in line before admission to the sphinx’s presence. The sphinx poses no riddle but each wise man rattles on and on in monologue for days, weeks, years. His beard turns grey, his eyes get dull and misty, his body shrivels like an old grape, becoming smaller and smaller until he vanishes. The next man meets the same fate, as does the man after that, and the man after that, but the sphinx files her nails in boredom. 

Maya recalls reading book after book on philosophy, politics, and literature during high school and college, determined not only to find some answers, to find things to believe in, but also to beat the white man at his own game. Well, it seems the old men are playing themselves. The sphinx gives Maya the side eye as if Yifan is asking her if everything she has done was a waste of time. 

Maya ignores the creature and sets out in the desert alone only to realize she is on a planet made of shattered glass. She meets someone else in this desert, a tall man with broad shoulders and stern countenance garbed in his trademark white trench coat. It is Kaiba, but Maya sees the fractured reflections of Sofia’s face in the shattered glass everywhere. 

They duel instantly and, as soon as they do, the sun transforms into a satellite, which then expands in a crystalline dome enveloping the entire world. Maya executes a strategy, but it fails miserably, like Kaiba knows exactly what she is doing, what she is thinking. Maya wonders why in frustration until she sees the cards in her hand reflected off the dome. 

Maya throws the duel disk at the dome, shattering it, and the crystalline shards fall on her like solid rain. She fears she will die but then wakes up, seeing her son by her side. Maya hugs and kisses him like she has not seen him for years, and she goes to the kitchen to make pancakes with her husband, but everything vanishes as a mirage in the desert, and she encounters Yifan as the sphinx once more.

Maya startles, noticing she is deep in the ocean inside the small submarine she used to escort Sofia half round the world and back. Where’s Sofia? She might as well wear a red and white shirt because she is nowhere to be found. Maya does not even know why she is ten leagues beneath the sea in the first place. What country would she go to? North America? She is the most wanted terrorist. Europe? Same. Africa? Looking at the same place over and over again never finds what is lost. Asia? Yifan rules the land with an iron fist in a leather glove, and she would probably screw with Maya in the real world as well as in dreams.

Maya gives up, returning to Egypt. She meets Hassan, also meets Yukio who brought Mathias along. Narmer is understandably not there but Maya still feels like there is a whole in her chest. They discuss a strategy to take out Anubisius, the next high mage with a Millennium Item. Their plan is to secretly send a small task force to Anubisius’ poppy plantation and raid it. Maya, Yukio, and Mathias only use their Ka after Anubisius sends reinforcements to do maximum damage with the few precious minutes they have to exert such great magical power. Then everyone is dismissed. 

Maya returns to the Ghouls hideout to sit on her throne as their new leader. Maya adjusts herself many times in discomfort, her butt hurting more than after Yukio gets kinky with her. How did Malik sit on this thing? Pandora, now the underboss, and several goombas give Maya their obesciences. “What shall be your bidding master…” Pandora stops, having no idea how to address his new superior. “Master Maya? Miss Maya? Mistress of All Evil? Your Malignancy?”

“Please stop.” Maya groans.

Pandora gets sillier. “Darth Maladicta? Satine the Satanic? Empress of Eternal Darkness? Stalina the Sinister? Ghoul Goddess? Shadow Game Sorceress? Duchess Dunkelheit?”

Maya settles on a name. “‘Miss Maya’ should be fine.”

“That hardly sounds evil or threatening.” Pandora objects. “You sound like a schoolteacher who has to watch over petulant children.”

“That’s exactly how I feel.” Maya puts it bluntly. “And I will show you how much fear I can put in two innocent little words.”  

With that in mind, Maya gathers her Ka as if itching for a fight and summons every Ghoul to the main hall of their hideout. She explains to them Hassan’s plan. “I need you to fight an army and burn a poppy plantation to the ground. My friend, Hassan Mubarak, needs you to supplement his army, but he must see which thieves and prostitutes among you have the fortitude to even begin training, so you’ll begin tryouts at his place first.”

“Ooh! I love tryouts!” Adam squeals in delight, jumping up like a puppy. “Give me a G! Give me an H! Give me a – ”

“Pandora, kill him.” Maya quickly orders. When Pandora fails to obey, Maya pulls out a small but lethal gun and fires a bullet into Adam’s head. The Ghouls watch in stunned horror as the body of their comrade falls to the ground and his life instantly disappears. Maya brandishes a butterfly dagger at Pandora, causing the underboss to squeak in a panic. “Disobey me again and Adam will ruin your afterlife forever.”

Clarence manages to speak up despite being terrified. “You know, Malik would brainwash us before killing us, and he never sent us to fight actual wars either. Evil masterminds monologue first and make convoluted plans later. You’re being too straightforward. Very unprofessional.”

“Let’s try this again. Pandora, kill him.” Maya orders. Pandora instantly draws his own gun and ends Clarence’s life. The Ghouls are so stiff with fear they might as well be statues. 

Maya smirks with amusement and gives them comforting words in a sardonic tone. “Listen, you must simply obey me. I don’t want your love, admiration, or even respect. This is not the mafia. There are no blood ties here. Only my will exists. There is no way but my way.”

Three Ghouls point their guns at Maya. “We don’t have to listen to you.” They declare, firing their weapons. Maya easily catches each bullet between her fingers, astounding the would-be killers.

Maya pops her fingers, one by one, at a leisurely place. “Force lightning Akhenaten style.” She then leans forward as if about to say something grave and important. “Boo.” The Ghouls cower back in fear. 

“Was that really necessary?” Pandora timidly asks. “I mean, you have a gun.”

“I overdid it, didn’t I?”

“If I may say so, yes. And, honestly, I can tell you’re new to the whole evil mastermind thing. I get the feeling you’re desperately winging it to establish your authority.”

“You are correct.” Maya admits with a certain innocent candor. 

She reaches for an iPhone. “I believe you guys use your own underground Internet called the ‘Dark Cloud.’ Correct?” The Ghouls quickly nod. “Pandora, what’s the WiFi password around here?” She receives the password, muttering while carefully typing it. “Password… One… Two… Three…” A moment later, and all is set. “You now have the coordinates to Hassan’s location. Be there tomorrow at nine before noon. No excuses for being late.”

“Um, I accidentally left my phone at home.” One of the Ghouls says in a sheepish tone.

“Then share with a friend.”

“Can I go to the bathroom?” Another Ghoul asks.

“Not until I dismiss you.”

“But Miss Maya, I really gotta go.” He whines.

“You will literally become a soldier tomorrow. Get some discipline.”

Before Maya takes her leave, she says, “Pandora will be your substitute teacher while I’m gone. If any of you misbehave, he will tell me and I will deal with you personally. And you,” She points to a Ghoul shivering near the pile of ashes that was once his comrade. “Get a broom and put your friend in a ceramic pot. At least give him a decent burial.”

The next day, Hassan arrives with his army to put the Ghouls through boot camp. Though the Ghouls are clearly no strangers to violence and subterfuge they lack proper military training and discipline, and it is up to Hassan to put them through a crash course to set them reasonably straight. 

Maya oversees the training just in case Hassan’s army teaches a Ghoul a technique that can be used against her, but she teaches no one her black arts. She uses the time to reflect on the dream she had, puzzling its meaning. Yifan taught her how to reach people through dreams and Maya taught it to Sofia in turn. The strengths of dreams are the ability to travel to different worlds and communicate to people in a way that cannot easily be detected. However, the communication itself is vague at best.

Yifan and Sofia were trying to tell Maya something, but what? Maya dismisses Yifan’s boastful message as a pretentious taunt, at least for now. Sofia is a different matter. Why did she disguise herself as Kaiba? Would Kaiba use his space station to somehow see through Maya’s tactics when they dueled? It doesn’t make sense. Maya would sing something to be a cheerleader of sorts, but she concludes that this chapter fills enough pages as it is. 

A month of intensive training passes. Maya spars with Yukio and Mathias several times and spends her free time looking for Sofia in vain. The leaders gather their forces and march for days through the Middle Eastern desserts at night, camping near Anubisius’s plantation.

A Ghoul lights a cigarette and comments, “Blood and opium, huh. Such is life. Such is death.” The man behind the cowl must have been an arts major before turning to crime. His comment has the trappings of philosophy but not its substance.

Mathias, Yukio, and Maya huddle together on the eve of battle. Mathias and Yukio have been talking to each other for a while and Mathias decides to speak to Maya first. “Your decision to lead the Ghouls was disturbing on many levels. I know we need reinforcements for our revolution but why not train the displaced people living in tent cities?”

Maya answers, “The Ghouls are a ready supply that needed little training. They also provide many resources since they are an international crime syndicate. There is no room for a clean conscience in a war this big. This is not a crusade. It is impossible to be a good soldier and a good Christian.”

Mathias refutes her. “I disagree. You say you’re pragmatic but it’s really about convenience and power. The means justify the ends. There is no point in fighting for freedom and the planet when you betray your very principles by letting criminals run amok. The Ghouls will make the world a less safe and less free place to live. Even in times of darkness, one can be a good Christian.”

Maya counterargues, “The alternative, possible human extinction while a handful of despots govern a burning planet, is much worse. The Ghouls will at most do childish antics like raping and murdering some people. I will deal with that problem later. When the war is won, I will make the Ghouls disappear. The new world is not for me or them. I will be the bad guy to make the dream of countless people come true. Those are the sacrifices I’m willing to make.”

Mathias shakes his head, clutching his glowing pendant. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve lived for over a century thanks to my philosopher’s stone, and I’ve seen countless men fall to darkness in this way. They thought they could separate themselves from their dark deeds but they became their dark deeds. Man cannot defeat his sinful nature.”

Yukio holds Maya’s hands. “Heed his warning. Also, be careful with Sofia. You went out of your way to save her a few chapters back. People now know she is your weak spot, and they will exploit it. I wish you treated our child with as much love.”

Maya pushes Yukio away. “How dare you say that! I would die for Narmer!”

Now the army sleeps as much as it can, for it will attack before dawn. Maya, with her eyes closed, suddenly understands her dream. Kaiba and Anubisius know of Maya’s tactic. She is stepping into their trap. “Oh…” She says flatly. “Oh… Shrink-and-an-Enemy-Controller.”

Created Cards – Duels 20 & 21

MAYA’S CARDS:

Final Attack Orders (anime errata)
Continuous Trap
Both players choose 3 cards in the Deck, then send all other cards to the Graveyard and return the 3 chosen cards to the Deck in any order. All face-up monsters on the field are changed to Attack Position and cannot change their Battle Position. 

Soul Exchange (anime errata)
Normal Spell
During this turn, you can Tribute monsters your opponent controls as if you controlled them.

Seven-Armed Fiend
DARK/Level 1/Fiend/ATK 650/DEF 650
TUNER
Once per turn, you can send 1 Fiend monster from your hand or Deck to the Graveyard, and decrease this card’s ATK/DEF to 0 to activate one of the following effects: (1) Special Summon 2 “Arm Fiend Tokens” (DARK/Level 1/Fiend/0 ATK/0 DEF). (2) Increase this card’s Level by 1 for each Fiend monster you control. (3) Special Summon 1 non-Fiend monster from your opponent’s Graveyard.

Diabolus Ex Machina
DARK/Link 3/Machine/ATK 0/DEF 0 
LINK: 3 monsters with 0 ATK/DEF (top-left, top-right, bottom) 
This card’s original ATK/DEF become the number of your banished cards x400 during damage calculation only. If destroyed: banish the top 10 cards of the Deck facedown and Special Summon this card from the Graveyard (not optional).

Underworld Circle (anime errata)
Continuous Spell
Destroy all monsters on the field and banish all monsters in both players’ Decks. Once per turn, during the Standby Phase, each player can Special Summon 1 monster from their Graveyard (ignoring the Summoning conditions). When a monster Special Summoned by this effect is destroyed, banish it instead of sending it to the Graveyard.

Red Hecate
DARK/Level 3/Spellcaster/ATK 1500/DEF 1300
If you only control more than 1 “Hecate” monster: monsters cannot attack or activate effects during the turn they are Normal or Special Summoned. If banished, Special Summon this card in Attack Position during the End Phase and, if you do, skip your next Draw Phase.

Yellow Hecate
DARK/Level 3/Spellcaster/ATK 1500/DEF 1300
If you only control more than 1 “Hecate” monster: card effects cannot be activated from outside the field. If banished, Special Summon this card in Attack Position during the End Phase and, if you do, skip your next Draw Phase.

Violet Hecate
DARK/Level 3/Spellcaster/ATK 1500/DEF 1300
If you only control more than 1 “Hecate” monster: Spells/Traps must be Set before activation and cannot be activated during the turn they are Set. If banished, Special Summon this card in Attack Position during the End Phase and, if you do, skip your next Draw Phase.

Gorgon Trihex Hecate
DARK/Level 8/Spellcaster/ATK 3000/DEF 2500
FUSION: “Red Hecate” + “Yellow Hecate” + “Violet Hecate”
Can be Special Summoned from your Extra Deck by returning the above cards you control to the Deck. Once during your Battle Phase, you can banish 1 “Hecate” monster from your Deck; activate one of the following effects: (1) If this card successfully destroys a monster in battle or inflicts Battle Damage to your opponent: it can attack again in a row. (2) If your opponent activates a card effect that would target or destroy this card, negate that card effect. (3) Double this card’s ATK during damage calculation.

Zoma the Spirit (anime errata)
Continuous Trap
Special Summon this card in Defense Position as an Effect Monster (Zombie-Type/DARK/Level 4/ATK 1800/DEF 500). (This card is also still a Trap Card.) If this card is destroyed by battle: Inflict damage to your opponent equal to double the ATK of the monster that destroyed it.

Celestial Siren Atropon
LIGHT/Level 10/Fiend/ATK 0/DEF 0
Cannot be destroyed by battle. Your opponent takes any battle damage you would have taken from battles involving this card instead. At the end of the Battle Phase, if this card battled: Special Summon 2 “Celestial Siren” monsters with different names from your hand, Deck, or Graveyard. If this card is destroyed: both players shuffle all cards in the Graveyard into the Deck(s).

Celestial Siren Clothon
LIGHT/Level 10/Fiend/ATK 0/DEF 0
Cannot be destroyed by battle. Your opponent takes any battle damage you would have taken from battles involving this card instead. 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. If this card is destroyed: half both players Life Points.

Celestial Siren Lacheson
LIGHT/Level 10/Fiend/ATK 0/DEF 0
Cannot be destroyed by battle. Your opponent takes any battle damage you would have taken from battles involving this card instead. 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. If this card is destroyed: banish all non-“Celestial Siren” monsters on the field until your 2nd Standby Phase after activation.

Archfiend Swordsqueen 
DARK/Level 7/Fiend/ATK 2500/DEF 2100
If at least 2 Fiend monsters are sent to your 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 sent to your Graveyard during this turn x100 until your End Phase.

Double Spell (anime errata)
Normal Spell
Target up to 2 Normal Spell(s) in the Graveyard your opponent activated last turn: activate their effects. You cannot activate other Normal Spells during the turn you activate this card.

Blazedance Phoenix
FIRE/Rank 10/Winged Beast/ATK 3000/DEF 3000
XYZ: 3 Level 10 monsters
Detach 1 Xyz Material: shuffle 1 card in your opponent’s hand (chosen at random) or field into the Deck, and inflict 800 damage to your opponent. If this card is destroyed and sent to the Graveyard, you can shuffle all cards you control into the Deck: Special Summon this card.

Surprise Attack From Beyond (anime errata)
Quick-Play Spell
Activate this card during your End Phase, and treat it as the Battle Phase. Target 1 monster you control or Special Summon 1 monster you Normal or Special Summoned this turn from your hand, Deck, or Graveyard in Attack Position (ignoring Summoning conditions). You must attack with that monster if able.

PANDORA’S CARDS:

Card of Sanctity (anime errata)
Normal Spell
Both players draw cards until they have six cards in their hand.

ADAM’S CARDS:

Babablazar
FIRE/Level 2/Pyro/ATK 600/DEF 500
TUNER
If Normal Summoned, you can Special Summon 1 Level 4 or lower FIRE monster from your hand. If a FIRE monster you control would be destroyed, you can banish this card from your Graveyard, and that monster is not destroyed.

Extra Blowback
Normal Trap
If you control no monsters, send 5 monsters from your Extra Deck to the Graveyard and shuffle all monsters your opponent controls to the Deck.

CLARENCE’S CARDS:

Astrograph Sorcerer (anime errata)
DARK/Level 7/Spellcaster/ATK 2500/DEF 2000
If a card(s) you control is destroyed while this card is in your hand: You can target that destroyed card(s); Special Summon this card. If Summoned this way: You can place that target(s) face-up on the field in the same Zone it was in when it was destroyed. You can Tribute this card; banish 1 “Starving Venom Fusion Dragon”, 1 “Clear Wing Synchro Dragon”, 1 “Dark Rebellion Xyz Dragon”, and 1 “Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon” from your Deck, Extra Deck, field, and/or Graveyard, and if you do, Special Summon 1 “Supreme King Z-ARC” from your Extra Deck.

Supreme King Z-ARC (anime errata)
DARK/Level 12/Dragon/ATK 4000/DEF 4000
INTEGRATION (Fusion/Synchro/Xyz/Pendulum) 
PENDULUM: Scale 1
Pendulum Effect: You can Tribute 1 “Supreme King” monster; Special Summon this card from your Pendulum Zone, ignoring its Summoning conditions.
Effect: (This card is also always treated as a Fusion, Synchro, and Xyz Monster, and has a Rank equal to its Level.) Must be Special Summoned with “Astrograph Sorcerer”, and cannot be Special Summoned by other ways. If this card is Special Summoned: You can destroy as many monsters your opponent controls as possible, then each player that had a monster(s) destroyed by this effect takes damage equal to the total ATK the destroyed monsters had on the field. This card cannot attack the turn this effect is activated. While there are Fusion, Synchro, and Xyz Monsters banished and/or in any Graveyard(s), this card cannot be destroyed, also unaffected by card effects that would make it leave the field. All monsters you control are unaffected by the effects of your opponent’s Fusion, Synchro, and Xyz Monsters. If this card destroys an opponent’s monster by battle: You can Special Summon up to 2 “Supreme King Dragon” monsters from your Extra Deck in Defense Position. If your opponent adds a card(s) to their hand (except during the Draw Phase): You can destroy that card(s).

Yugioh Endgame – Duel 21: Dragonynamite

Duel 21: Dragonynamite

Adam: 8000 | Maya: 8000

ADAM’S TURN: “It is my Standby Phase, so I get to use Underworld Circle. I Special Summon Update Jammer (ATK 2000)!His trickster computer hacker revives from the Graveyard. Now I activate Will of the Salamangreat (Continuous Spell)!” But his card instantly flips facedown instead. “What?”  

“Oh, right.” Maya laughs, pretending she forgot to explain The Hecate Sisters’ effects. “They’re powerful when together. Red makes monsters unable to attack or use their effects when they’re Summoned. Yellow shuts down any card effects outside the field. Violet makes us Set Spells and Traps then wait a turn before using them.” 

“COME ON! How can I play long tedious combos now!” Adam whines.

“You don’t.” Maya flatly states the fact. “You now have to think several turns ahead like in the good old days. I could have killed you in a fancy cool way last turn. Now I’ll force you to die in a slow boring way.” 

Adam starts whining more and more. Old school Yugioh is boring. Duels shouldn’t have to last twenty turns. They’re too many girls dueling now, and that’s annoying. Adam caps his spiel with the statement, “If only you would let me play my combo. I would summon the most powerful monster you ever saw in your life.”

This piques Maya’s interest. “Go on.” She insists.

“If you let me, I will Summon a monster with over 10,000 ATK.”

“Not impressed.”

“This turn, and it’s stronger than a god card.”

Maya rubs her chin, intrigued further, and she reaches a decision after some consideration. She stashes away the Hecate sister cards in her butt pocket, causing the monsters on her field to vanish. “You have one shot, one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment. Would you capture it or just let it slip?”

“WHAT!” Sofia blurts in exasperation. She infers that Maya refused to duel at full strength against the high mage Secmeton, most likely to keep things interesting, something that endangered her cause and everyone on her side. Still, Sofia can forgive her because it is a good strategy not to reveal your trump card. Now, Maya showed her trump card, and then she took it away! Even worse, she quoted Eminem lyrics!

Sofia screams in frustration like a lunatic, rattling the locks binding her until her ankles bleed. “GET ME OUT! GET ME OUT! GET ME OUT!”

“Say please.” Maya requests, making Sofia howl more.

“She has some serious repressed anger issues.” Adam shrewdly observed.

“You have no idea.” Maya says. “By the way, I decline to revive a monster with Underworld Circle, just to let you know.”

“Right.” Adam double checks his strategy. It is foolproof. “I activate Will of the Salamangreat to Special Summon Sunlight Wolf (ATK 1800) from the Graveyard.” His card flips faceup. It kindles a flame that soon grows and transforms into his monster. “I activate Foxy in my Graveyard; I discard a card and pop Will of the Salamangreat to revive itself.” And so his monster reappears with 1200 DEF. “And since I just discarded Salamangreat Salamandra, I use its effect to draw one card.” And he does so.

“I activate Foolish Burial (Spell) to mill Cyberse Magician. Here it goes! I network Sunlight Wolf, Update Jammer, and Foxy to Link Summon Firewall Dragon Darkfluid (ATK 3000)!!!” Adam’s monsters activate five out of the six arrows of the link portal. With the conditions fulfilled, the portal bursts open, and the great dragon of the future descends in a stunning awful display.

Then, Four orbs appear above it. “My dragon gets a counter for each card type of Cyberse monster in my Graveyard: Cyberse Magician, Cyberse Clock Dragon, Cyberse Quantum Dragon, Firewall eXceed Dragon. When I battle, Darkfluid gets 2500 ATK for each Counter, meaning it gains 10,000 ATK! Darkfluid, attack Maya directly!”

“You better have a plan to counter that attack.” Sofia growls, grumpy over Maya giving Adam a chance to beat her. “And I’m still stuck here, in case you haven’t noticed.”

Dragon Darkfluid launches its devastating power with Maya in the crosshairs (ATK 3000 → 13,000). Maya flips her Continuous Trap Card. “Zoma the Spirit, become my shield!” A ghastly monster that looks like an undead dragon of sorts protects Maya with its feeble 500 DEF. It easily dies from Darkfluid’s attack, which is the point. Zoma forms into a spectral may from the smoke of its remains.

“You killed my monster, so it comes back from the dead to take a bite out of you.” Maya says. “Time for your just desserts. Eat 26,000 damage!” The spectral maw comes right for Adam’s head.

Adam shouts in haste, “I remove a Counter! Darkfluid, protect me from Zoma’s effect!” One of the orbs shines so brightly it burns itself out, but it dissipates the vengeful spirit for good. “Not only that, my dragon can attack again. Darkfluid, attack Maya again (ATK 3000 → 10,500)!”

Maya grunts, annoyed, and Adam’s monster is preparing another assault much to her chagrin. “I activate Defense Draw (Trap)!” Darkfluid opens fire, but its attack bounces off a barrier around Maya, and Maya gets to draw a card. 

Adam has no choice. He ends his turn.

MAYA’S TURN: “I use Underworld Circle’s effect during the Standby Phase. Resurrect, Celestial Siren Atropon (ATK 0)!” The strange sea serpent-like creature arrives from the shadows. The screen on its front materializes an image of the face of a youthful woman with red hair, but her eyes are missing. 

Adam also uses Underworld Circle, bringing back Cyberse Clock Dragon (ATK 2500), a badly named creature with glowing blue sapphires embedded in its body. Adam smirks, confident his dragon could use its effect to intercept any attack directed against his ace monster, Dragon Darkfluid.  

It is an annoying monster, but Maya may have the solution. “I activate D.D.R. – Different Dimension Reincarnation (Equip Spell)! I discard a card to bring back my banished Archfiend Swordsqueen (ATK 2500) to the field!” The fiendishly beautiful swordswoman and queen of demons traverses through a portal to this dimension. 

“But she has the same attack as my Clockwork Dragon!” Adam protests, then he realizes that he is doomed.

“It will do. Swordsqueen, kamikaze on Clockwork Dragon!” Maya orders. Her monster, fearlessly obeying her master, clashes with her opponent. The monsters slay each other, leaving only Darkfluid left. “Atropon, attack Darkfluid and end this duel!!!” Atropon seizes control of the dragon, forcing it to attack her, which it does. She easily catches the erupting flames, all 10,500 damage, and strikes Adam with it.

Adam: 0 | Maya: 8000

Adam falls off the stage to the ground, knocked out from the force of attack. Maya throws her hands up as if expecting applause. “Who’s next? Any volunteers?”

“Could you please get me loose!” Sofia calls out. “I’ve been waiting for almost half an hour!”

Maya got so lost in the excitement of taking control of a crime syndicate she forgot the real reason she was here. Remembering Sofia, her brown cheeks flushing crimson for daring to forget her, she demands Pandora give her the key to the shackles. Pandora assents, and Maya frees Sofia at last.

Just when everyone things the party is over, a Ghoul decides to be Batman; he swoops down to the stage from above, his black cowl making him look like a menacing shadow. He challenges Maya to a duel, his voice made low and dangerous by the mic in his mask.

Maya cannot resist accepting. “A new of episode Jackass? Here I come!”

Maya: 8000 | Clarence: 8000

MAYA’S TURN: “I Normal Summon Jowgen the Spiritualist (ATK 200) and Set a card.” An Eastern monk hears the call for his presence, and he obeys. Thus does Maya end her turn.

Clarence is almost exasperated as Adam was. “Another antimeta stun monster? How can I make my turn last over 30 minutes now!”

“I don’t know, dude. Figure it out.”

CLARENCE’S TURN: Clarence jumps for joy. “Yes! I drew the right card! But first…” He ponders his move for a minute. “Got it! I Normal Summon Supreme King Dragon Darkwurm (ATK 1800), and I use its effect to add Supreme King Gate Zero from my Deck to my hand. Then, I activate Gate Zero (Scale 0) in my Pendulum Zone.” The first guardian of infinite spacetime flanks Clarence in a column on his right.

“I activate Card Destruction (Spell).” And so both players discard their hands and draw anew. “Next I activate Dark Hole (Spell)!” And so both player’s monsters are wiped out. “Then I activate Card of Sanctity (Spell).” And so both players draw until they have six cards. “And I activate Pot of Greed (Spell) to draw even more cards! Next, I activate Supreme King Gate Infinity (Scale 13) in my other Pendulum Zone.” The other guardian of infinite spacetime flanks Clarence in a column on his left.

With columns present, the roof above Clarence seems to glow, as if ready to open a new dimension. “Pendulum Summon! Go, Endymion, the Mighty Master of Magic (ATK 2800), Reflection of Endymion (ATK 1850), Magister of Endymion (ATK 1500), Timegazer Magician (ATK 1200)!” The dimension gate opens wide from column to column, and the parade of brilliant magicians spills through.

But Maya rains on that parade with a Trap Card. “Bottomless Trap Hole!” Every magician, except Timegazer Magician, falls into a gaping void. Clarence does not care too much. “I activate Monster Reborn (Spell) to Special Summon Astrograph Sorcerer (ATK 2500).” The steward of the Supreme King revives from the Graveyard.

“Now, Astrograph Sorcerer, use your effect! I tribute you, then banish Starving Venom Fusion Dragon, Clear Wing Synchro Dragon, Dark Rebellion Xyz Dragon, and Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon to Integrate Summon Supreme King Z-ARC (ATK 4000)!” A third column hits the field with light so strong it looks solid, bringing out a black dragon so huge only part of its hologram can manifest in the room. “I activate Premature Burial (Equip Spell) to pay 800 Life and bring Astrograph Sorceror back!” Now Clarence’s board is complete. (Clarence LP: 8000 → 7200)   

Maya worries if she will lose the duel. She calculates the total ATK of all monsters on the field and sighs in relief. She will survive but barely. Outwardly she is flippant, commenting, “The poor player struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Clarence declares his attacks. “Z-ARC, Astrograph, Timegazer, get her!” 

This will be a doozy. Maya braces herself. Z-ARCs attack hits hard, throwing her back to the wall. Astrograph and Timegazer pin her in place and strike her. She peels off the wall and falls to the floor (Maya LP 8000 → 300). 

“Oh my God, are you okay!” Sofia cries out.

Maya gets on her knees one short moment, rises to her feet during the next. “Just a sprained wrist. You know, the usual stuff when you play a card game.”

“The funniest thing is I have no fear right now.” Sofia says. “Yes, you’re staring down one of the scariest boss monsters in the game, but I know you’ll beat it. You’re too good for this game.”

Maya tightly clasps Sofia’s hand, feeling comfort from the warmth of her touch. “Thank you. I love you.”

Clarence ends his turn. “Let’s see you beat that, Maya!” He challenges.

MAYA’S TURN: Maya scoffs at Clarence’s arrogance. “A high ATK monster that can’t be destroyed by card effects is dirt common these days. I’ll dispatch it with ease. I Tribute Z-ARC and Astrograph Sorcerer to Special Summon Lava Golem (ATK 3000) to your field!” Clarence’s best monsters dissolve into lava, which clumps together to crudely form a new creature. 

Clarence did not see this coming. “I walked right into that one.”

“Sweetheart, your troubles are only starting.” Maya assures him. “I Set four cards facedown and activate Double Spell (Spell). I target two of the Spells you used last turn in your Graveyard: Monster Reborn and Card of Sanctity, and activate them. I Special Summon Celestial Siren Atropon (ATK 0) from the Graveyard and draw until I have six cards.” Her eerie eyeless monster revives, and she refills her hand. 

Clarence is briefly confused, wondering how Atropon ended up in the Graveyard in the first place. Then he remembers; he made her discard it with Card Destruction last turn.

Maya is all fired up now. Victory is in sight. “Let’s go! Atropon, attack Lava Golem!” The celestial siren catches the golem’s attack and reflects it back at Clarence, who jumps around the stage like a maniac, forgetting the fire is a hologram (Clarence LP 7200 → 4200). Leaving the Battle Phase, Maya activates Atropon’s effect, Special Summoning Celestial Siren Clothon (ATK 0) and Celestial Siren Lacheson (ATK 0) from her Deck.

“I overlay all three Celestial Sirens to Xyz Summon Blazedance Phoenix (ATK 3000)!” Three monsters burn together into one new entity. “I detach 1 Xyz Material to bounce a card back to your Deck and dish out 800 damage, and I’ll do this two more times.” Three Materials vanish. The phoenix dances three different ways. Lava Golem, Supreme King Gate Zero, and Supreme King Gate Infinity vanish from the field, and Clarence gets hit with more dancing fire (Clarence LP 4200 → 1800).

“Will I survive till next turn?” Clarence timidly asks, twitching.

Maya confirms his worst fear. “No chance. I move to my End Phase and activate Surprise Attack From Beyond (Quick-Play Spell). Phoenix, finish him!” The dancing bird swoops low, burns the opponent, and sweeps him off the stage.

Maya: 300 | Clarence: 0

“Now that was an epic victory, like in our duel, right Adam?” Maya sticks out her ear, only hearing a groan from the ground. Maya gives a hearty laugh. “I thought so.”   

Sofia also laughs, shaking her head. “F*ck you, Maya.”

“Who wants to be the next victim?” Maya offers. “Anyone?” 

Even the most vicious and courageous Ghouls decline the challenge.

“Very good.” Maya picks up Pandora’s hat and tosses it at Hassan. “I present you new recruits.”

Hassan fights within himself for a time, unsure if he could accept such vile criminals for his and Maya’s revolutionary cause. Yet being rebels, they are naturally the underdog, severely outnumbered. They can use all the help they can get. Finally, he concedes, speaking softly to Maya so only she could hear him. “You’d better have a method to your madness. I sometimes wonder who and what you’re really fighting for, honestly.”

Yugioh Endgame – Duel 20: Super Smash Bros. Burly Brawl

Maya is an excellent strategist. That is fair to say, at least from Maya’s biased point of view. She could make a convincing argument with her dueling record from the past three books. Regardless, she is no stranger to making careful plans. But improvising a scheme in the proverbial heat of battle? And pulling it through? Now that is a test of skill. So Maya comes up with a bold idea at this very moment, brilliant or stupid, that profoundly changes the future course of events.

Maya challenges Pandora to a duel. “If you win, you can have me and Sofia together, some nice double booty.” – The Ghouls laugh at her immature joke. – “But if I win, you give Sofia back and surrender leadership of the Ghouls to me.”

Pandora, angry at losing his captive despite winning the last game, is too eager for compensation. “I accept. I need more than compensatory damages.” He orders Clarence to turn off the buzzsaws and unshackle him, but not poor Sofia, letting his ankles breath again. He silently speaks to his heart, “I’m getting too old for this. Maybe I should hang my oversized hat.”

Maya: 8000 | Pandora: 8000

MAYA’S TURN: “You know the etiquette; for there is honor even among thieves. Challenger goes first.” Maya this begins. “I Normal Summon Inspector Boarder (ATK 2000) and Set a card.” Her futuristic surfboarding policeman appears with a facedown card behind him for protection.

PANDORA’S TURN: “Running antimeta tech as usual, Maya? We Ghouls play outside the metagame.”

Maya disagrees. “No. You are the metagame.”

“I doubt that.” Pandora counters. “I activate Graceful Charity (Spell). I draw three cards and discard two. Next, Dark Magic Veil (Spell). I pay 1000 Life to Special Summon Dark Magician (ATK 2500) from my Graveyard!” The iconic sorcerer appears in the sinister red and brown version. I Set four cards and activate Card of Sanctity (Spell)!”

Maya springs her Continuous Trap. “I activate Final Attack Orders. Congratulations, you played yourself.” 

Pandora has no idea what Maya is talking about, so she explains everything. “My version of Final Attack Orders is a very old edition before it got nerfed. We keep only three cards from our Deck but mill everything else. Your Card of Sanctity is also old edition. You must draw six cards but have only three cards in your Deck, so you Deck Out. You lose.”

Sofia stares dumbfoundead like Neo from the Matrix does in that one meme. “Woah.”  

Maya: 8000 | Pandora: DECK OUT

“Unbelievable!” Pandora cries, falling to his knees. “How could you use such broken cards! That’s cheap!”

“I’m not screwing around but playing to win. You made me do this by chaining up Sofia for your cheap theatrics.” Maya says. “I think it’s time you hung your oversized hat. You’ll be happier under my leadership. I promise.”

Pandora casts his hat to her, sighing in relief. His servants, the Ghouls, violently reject the change in authority. They demand for a champion among them to rise and kill the usurper. Hassan and his militia try beating the Ghouls into submission, but the more tightly his forces squeeze around them the more rebellious they become.

A Ghoul jumps onto the stage, challenging Maya to a duel, which Maya happily accepts.

Maya: 8000 | Ghoul: 8000

GHOUL’S TURN: “I activate Pot of Greed (Spell)!” He announces, his voice deepened by a mic in his fearful mask. “Let me carefully explain what the effect of this card. IT can be activated only during your Main Phase. The player who activated this card must take the card from the top of their Deck and add it to their hand, and then immediately take the card from the top of their Deck and add it to their hand again. Then, I must place this card in the Graveyard.”

“Will you do this for every card you play?” Maya asks, clearly vexed.

The Ghoul gives a tentative cheeky answer. “Maybe?”

“Hassan, kill him.”

The Ghoul panics, fearing Hassan would blindly obey Maya because that is what he would do if Pandora told him to do something. “Okay! Okay! I’ll stop! Geez! By the ghosts of all the characters killed by George R.R. Martin, this mask is stifling!” He takes it off, revealing a pale face with blond hair on top. “I’m Adam. Nice to meet you.”

“I hope you don’t ruin this duel.” Maya warns him.

“I’m already ruining it, for you at least. Anyway,” He continues, his true voice a high-pitched nasal squeak. “I Normal Summon Babablazar (ATK 600), and use its effect to Special Summon Salamangreat Gazelle (ATK 1500) from my hand, and then I use its effect to mill a ‘Salamangreat’ card.” A fireball spirit and a fiery gazelle light the field with their presence. They seem to be made of blazing metal as if an alchemist forged them a minute ago.

Pandora had his migraines during the last duel. Now it is Maya’s turn to suffer. “By the Egytpian gods, you’re running a meta deck.” Maya sighs. “You’re already ruining this duel.”

Adam ignores her. “I network Babablazar and Gazelle to Link Summon Salamangreat Sunlight Wolf (ATK 1800)!” A blazing werewolf forged by alchemy jumps from the link network. “Now I discard Salamangreat Spinny from my hand to power up my Wolf’s ATK from 1800 to 2300. This triggers the effect of my second Salamangreat Gazelle, so I Special Summon it from my hand (ATK 1500)! And that triggers its effect, so I mill Salamangreat Falco. Then, I use its effect to Set the card I milled earlier. Finally, I activate Spinny in my Graveyard to Special Summon it.”

The product of this complex chain reaction is a small field presence, an armadillo and another gazelle. Maya looks at her wrist impatiently. “I don’t have a watch but I’m still looking at it.” She comments.

“You must be old!” Adam gawks as if he never saw a watch before. “What are you, a millennial? In this century, people check the time with iPhones.”  

“You said something about how no girl ever dated you? I wasn’t listening.”

“Original.” Adam snorts before continuing. “I overlay Spinny and Gazelle to Xyz Summon Salamangreat Miragestallio (ATK 1800)!” A stallion made of blazing iron gallops through the overlay network into this dimension. “I detach an Xyz Material to use its Effect. I Special Summon Salamangreat Foxy (1200 DEF)! Then, I Set a card.” He ends his turn with another monster, this time a fox, and an extra backrow card.

MAYA’S TURN: Maya studies the situation. Adam made a pretty standard play regarding the Salamangreat archetype. He set up a decent field and his backrow card was most likely… of course. Maya begins, “I activate -”

“Oh, one more thing!” Adam points out. “The rules changed a bit a week ago. You can Extra Summon monsters of each card type – like Fusion, Ritual, and so on – once per turn. You can fill the field with a diverse army of Extra Deck monsters like before, but you can’t spam with Link Monsters anymore.”  

“I guarantee people have found a way around it, but thanks for the tip.” Maya says, conceding gratitude. She already knows about the rule change but Adam’s thoughtful gesture is what counts.

“No problem! You’re gonna’ need it!” Adam beams, chipper as a puppy.

“I activate Soul Exchange (Spell)!”

“And I negate with Salamangreat Roar (Trap)!” Adam counters. His Sunlight Wolf vomits fire at Maya’s card, negating its effect and destroying it.

Maya shrugs it off. “No problem. Time for plan B. I Normal Summon Seven-Armed Fiend (ATK 650), and mill a Fiend from my Deck to use its Effect.” A hairy beastly devil emerges, a creature with six arms, and its head is even shaped like a hand. The monster decreases its ATK to zero and Special Summons two sentient forearms, the “Arm Fiend Tokens” (ATK 0). “I network Seven-Armed Fiend and its tokens to Link Summon Diabolus Ex Machina (ATK 0)!” The fiends dissolve and reconfigure into abstract sphere of black metal shards.

“Now for the wallop. I activate Underworld Circle (Continuous Spell)!” A barrier spins into place around the duelists and shrouding the field with a dark aura. All monsters on the field vanish in ghostly smoke, sent to the Graveyard, while monsters in both player’s Decks are banished. Diabolus Ex Machina, however, reconfigures. Maya pays the small price of banishing ten cards from her Deck facedown.

“Deus Ex Machina, attack directly!” Maya commands. “The black metal shards reveal themselves to be a swarm of tiny machines. They come together, creating a mosaic of the Devil’s face, for they are Legion. The face vomits fire and brimstone in the form of countless little machines, revealing its true power, its ATK skyrocketing to 9200!

Adam is done for – but he has a card ready. “I activate Extra Blowback (Trap)!” He sends five monsters from his Extra Deck to the Graveyard. Their spirits turn into parts of a mirror and, combined together, they reflect the attack back on the attacking fiend. The creature reels back and vanishes but is not destroyed. Maya returns it to the Extra Deck, disappointed but unfazed.

“So I’ll have to kill you the boring way. Time for plan C.” She says. “I set two cards facedown.”

As she ends her turn, three witches appear through a haze of green smoke: one an old hag in red, the other a large plump doyenne in yellow, and a seductive colleen in violet. Maya explains, “I can Special Summon these banished monsters in my End Phase: Red Hecate (1500 ATK), Yellow Hecate (ATK 1500), and Violet Hecate (ATK 1500), but I can’t draw next turn.”

“Do you have a plan D, E, F, all the way to Z?” Adam asks.

“No. What you see is what you get.” Maya assures him, but Adam does not believe her.

Created Cards Duels 17-19

SOFIA’S CARDS:

Egg Legacy
Continuous Trap

  • Once per turn: during your opponent’s Battle Phase; you can banish 1 Dinosaur monster from your Deck. Target 1 face-up monster your opponent controls: halve its ATK and DEF. That monster must attack, if able.
  • During your Standby Phase: you can return 1 Dinosaur monster banished by this card’s effect from your Banished Zone to your hand.

N. Raptor MaXVI – Galapagos
WATER / LINK 2 / Dinosaur / ATK 2300 / bottom-left, bottom-right
LINK: 2 Dinosaur monsters

  • Once per turn: if a card is activated; you can negate its effect and Set it face-down in one of your Spell/Trap Card Zones.
  • You can banish 1 Set card on your field originally controlled by your opponent. Banish up to 4 Dinosaur monsters from your Graveyard and Special Summon 1 Level 4 or lower Dinosaur monster from your Deck for each 2 Dinosaur monsters banished from your Graveyard by this card’s effect.

N. Raptor Apostlesaur 
EARTH / Level 1 / Dinosaur / Tuner / ATK 0 / DEF 0

  • If Summoned: you can add 1 Ritual Spell from your Deck to your hand, and add 1 “N. Raptor” Ritual Monster from your Deck to your hand whose name is listed on that Ritual Spell. 
  • If you Ritual Summon an “N. Raptor” Ritual Monster, this card can be used as the entire Tribute.

Prime Origin Offering
Ritual Spell

  • Tribute Dinosaur monsters from your hand or field OR banish Dinosaur monsters from your Graveyard with total Levels equal to 8 or more: Ritual Summon 1 “N. Raptor” Ritual Monster from your hand.

N. Raptor MaXII – Madagascar
FIRE / Level 8 / Dinosaur / ATK 3000 / DEF 2500
RITUAL: Prime Origin Offering 

  • If Ritual Summoned: you can target 3 cards in your opponent’s Graveyard; Set them in 3 of your Spell/Trap Card Zones.
  • If removed from the field: you can banish 1 Set card originally controlled by your opponent and 1 Dinosaur from your Graveyard; Special Summon this card from your hand, Deck, or Graveyard (ignoring Summoning conditions). 

Egger Planter
Normal Spell

  • Banish 2 Set cards originally controlled by your opponent. Draw 2 cards. 

N. D. Traveler
WIND / Level 3 / Winged Beast / Tuner / ATK 300 / DEF 1300

  • Once per Duel: if this card is banished, you can immediately Special Summon it.
  • During either player’s turn: you can shuffle the required monsters from your field and Banished Zone in the Deck to Fusion Summon 1 “N. Raptor” Fusion Monster.  

N. Raptor MaXI – Britannia
WATER / Level 7 / Dinosaur / ATK 2700 / DEF 2300
FUSION: 1 non-Dinosaur monster + 1 or more Dinosaur monsters

  • When Fusion Summoned: you can destroy cards your opponent controls equal to the number of Dinosaur monsters used as Fusion Materials to Fusion Summon this card.
  • If a card is activated that would destroy this card; you can negate its effect and Set it face-down in one of your Spell/Trap Card Zones.
  • Once per turn, during either player’s turn: you can banish 1 Set card originally controlled by your opponent. Double this card’s ATK during the Damage Step only. 

Kleinekarnosaur
EARTH/ Level 2/ Dinosaur/ 500 ATK/ DEF 400

  • When Summoned: you can destroy 1 Dinosaur monster you control; add 1 Dinosaur monster from your Deck to your hand.

PANDORA’S CARDS:

Dark Vanishing Act
Normal Trap

  • You can activate this card during the turn more than 1 Level 6 or higher DARK Spellcaster monsters you control are destroyed. Destroy all monsters your opponent controls and inflict damage to your opponent equal to the ATK of the monster with the highest ATK.

Quintet Force
Normal Spell

  • You must control 5 Spellcaster monsters to activate this card. Banish all cards your opponent controls and in your opponent’s hand. When this card resolves, Fusion Summon 1 “Quintet Magician”, if able. 
  • If a Spellcaster monster you control would be destroyed, you can banish this card from your Graveyard. Spellcaster monsters you control cannot be destroyed by card effects this turn. 

Wizard’s Mirror
Normal Spell

  • Fusion Summon 1 Spellcaster Fusion Monster from your Extra Deck by banishing Fusion Materials listed on it from your field or Graveyard.

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 19 – Fish Styx

Sofia: 2900 || Pandora: 1200 

“If I go down, I’m taking you with me!” Sofia snaps, desperate, “I activate Crackdown (Continuous Trap) to take control of Dark Magician of Chaos!” A rope springs from her card, seizing the strongest of magicians, dragging him into the line of fire. Sofia loses her entire field and hand, all banished, but Pandora suffers too; he now only has four monsters.

Pandora wags his finger. “The last vengeful act of a loser. How pathetic! Now I Fusion Summon my ultimate wizard, Quintet -” He realizes he cannot. “Oh.”

Sofia hates smug people but cannot help being smug herself at the moment. “Quintet Force doesn’t give you Quintet Magician until after the card resolves, but now you lack the five Spellcasters needed to Fusion Summon it. I knew from the first turn, watching you swarm the field with Dark Magicians and Dark Magician Girls, that you probably had Quintet Force. Not only that, I activate N.D. Traveler in the Banished Zone, letting me Special Summon it (DEF 1300)!” Her cyborg goldfinch appears.

“Oh no!” Pandora shouts as if in the 4Kids dub.

“Oh yes!” Sofia thrusts her fist in the air. “Damn does it feel good being the guile hero!”

A vindictive Pandora points to the field. “Oh yeah!? I have four monsters; you have one! You lose! Dark Magician, attack!” And his monster gets ready to strike.

Sofia begins her counter attack. “My monster came back from the future not just to look cute. I return it and all my banished Dinosaurs back to the Deck to Fusion Summon N. Raptor MaXI – Britannia (ATK 2700)!” A large, bottom-heavy dinosaur with many different colored spots makes its crash landing, threatening to destroy all of Pandora’s monsters with the force of its impact.

“I banish Quintet Force from my Graveyard!” Pandora creates a blue-tinged magic force field, saving his monsters from a messy demise. “No servant of mine gets crushed, kicked, eaten, or pooped out by a goddamn yoshi!”

“My monsters are not yoshis!” Sofia waxes indignant. “They’re an original concept!”

Pandora scoffs, raising an eyebrow beneath his mask. “They eat things with unrealistically long tongues, they poop spotted eggs, and they come in so many colors they’re probably queer. Not that there’s anything wrong with being gay, bi, trans, poly, demi, semi, pan, whatever.”

Sofia’s cheeks become crimson. “Are you saying I’m bi?” The paranoid tone of her voice says, “How do you know?” She likes Jolene after all and even shares the same bed with her.

A Ghoul volunteers to break the awkward silence. “I main Yoshi in Smash Bros.” He comments.

“That’s why you suck, bro.” Another Ghoul says.

“Don’t hate, you Fox-maining-no-items-Final-Destination-only tourneyfag!” Retorts the first Ghoul, and the two fiends get into an argument. 

“Fantastic.” Pandora dryly complains. “Anyway, I overlay Dark Magician and Magician of Dark Illusion to Xyz Summon  Number 11: Big Eye (ATK 2700) and detach 1 Material to take control of Brittania.” Two Spellcasters make way for a new one, a nontraditional kind, a big upside-down cone with an eye. This odd creature entrances the enemy monster with its huge evil eye, forcing it to switch sides.   

“Come on! COME ON!” Sofia protests in exasperation. Just after she barely reclaimed control, she loses it again. She turns to me, the author, pleading, “Could you please give me a Heart of the Cards moment? Pretty please?” She tries making puppy dog eyes but fails miserably.

“No.” I say. “You’re not Yugi. If your Deck isn’t consistent enough, that’s your problem.”

Pandora is utterly bewildered. “Who are you talking to? Did the Duel make you crazy?” He suddenly beams with approval. “If it did, hop right in the audience! Now you’re one of us!”

Sofia, despite her deflated self-esteem, remains resilient, pushing onward. 

SOFIA’S TURN: “Okay. Finally my turn. I set a card facedown. I don’t care if I lose. I just want to make your victory hard.”

Such tenacity leaves Pandora unimpressed. “How quaint.”

PANDORA’S TURN: “Magicians, attack!” He commands, eager to finish the Duel. He does not betray it, but he feels exhausted, which is a near constant state of being for anyone past thirty.

Sofia, who is not even twenty, easily fights on despite her self-doubt. “I activate Soul Leveler (Trap)!” A dense cloud of specters appear to drain half of Sofia’s life, then raid Pandora’s field, forcefully dragging his monsters to the Graveyard. (Sofia LP 2900 → 1450)

Pandora briefly puts his fingers beneath his ask to squeeze the place between his eyes. This girl is giving him a migraine. How does Maya handle her? “I set a card facedown and end my turn.”

SOFIA’S TURN: Excellent! Sofia draws a good card. “I Normal Summon Kleinekarnosaur (ATK 500) and pop it to search another Dinosaur.” The vicious little t-rex barely appears before eating itself in a gruesome but fascinating display of gluttony and rapaciousness. Sofia adds a Dinosaur from her Deck to hand. “And I banish two Dinosaurs from my Graveyard to Special Summon Ultimate Conductor Tyranno (ATK 3000)!” The massive predator, brimming with a sickly dark energy, nearly takes up the whole stage. 

“Stop right there!” Pandora orders, as if afraid Sofia will declare an attack. – The window for using his Trap Card is small indeed. – “I activate Shadow Balance (Trap)!” A huge scale takes over the whole field, except the scale is alive with jaws for balances. Pandora’s side is empty, lighter than a feather, but Sofia’s side weighs heavy with a monster. The jaw underneath the dinosaur clamps shut, like the mouth of a Venus fly trap, swallowing its prey.

“Oh…” Sofia stops in her tracks. “Shinosaurus.” 

“I’ll enjoy licking your saltosaurus tears.” Pandora promises her.

“Ew, gross.” Sofia recoils. “Is this harassment? I think it’s harassment.” Jolene will definately think this is harassment. Sofia turns to the audience of Ghouls. “Do you think this harassment?” Actually, Sofia just being here is harassment. “Oh, gobisaurus! STRANGER DANGER! STRANGER DANGER!” 

PANDORA’S TURN: “I activate Wizard’s Mirror (Spell)!”

“It’s like Dragon’s Mirror but for Spellcasters, right?” Sofia correctly guesses.

“Yes.” Pandora confirms. “That is quite obvious. I banish five Spellcasters from my Graveyard to finally Fusion Summon Quintet Magician (ATK 4500)!” A tall dimensional magic mirror appears behind him, releasing the great wizard within as if freeing it from a prison. The monster itself is constantly surrounded by five hexagram circles. “Quintet Magician, attack!” All five hexagrams hit Sofia squarely in the torso. (Sofia LP 1450 → 0) 

Sofia: 0 || Pandora: 1200 

The Ghouls cheer wildly at the victory of their leader, and in such a close game too! Pandora can finally relax, basking in the applause. The Ghouls even applauded to Sofia, eager to give her a fine farewell before she gets butchered by the buzzsaw now swerving towards her ankles. 

“Well that checks out.” Sofia remarks. She tightly shuts her eyes, puts her hands over them anyway, and starts singing, trying to make light of a dark situation. Guess she’ll have to replace her feet with a flipper.

“So long and thanks for all the fish.
So sad that it should come to this.

We tried to warn you all but, oh, dear.
You may not share our intellect,
Which might explain your disrespect
For all the natural wonders that grow around you.
So long, so long and thanks for all the fish.”

The doors burst open as Maya barges in, her eyes blazing red, with a blast of fire so strong the whole wall breaks down. The Ghouls flee in terror, except for the two of them still arguing about Smash Bros., but keep smacking onto the three remaining walls like flies trying to exit a glass window. 

“Ce que les flambeaux!” Pandora is too flabbergasted to speak English.

The buzzsaw cuts part of Sofia’s ankle but Maya comes to the rescue before it can do any more damage. She catches the thing with her hands and tears it away from the wall. She is superpowered enough at the moment to do so but not strong enough to avoid getting her palms cut. 

Maya urgently clasps Sofia’s shoulders. “By the Egyptian Gods, are you okay! Tell me where the bad man touched you!”

Sofia hugs Maya tightly, her sadness at disappointing her friend far greater than any fear for her life. “I’m sorry I failed you. I tried my best.”

Maya strokes Sofia’s hair, whispering soothing words for her. “Criminals, like the Ghouls, are AIDS. They keep adapting and coming back. There’s no shame in being caught off guard, but you must remain alert in the future.”

Sofia nods, secretly wiping her eyes. She will not dare show Maya her tears. “That’s a weird way to console someone, but fine. I promise.”

“Que fais-tu ici, folle salope noire!” Pandora shouts from behind her. “She is my spoils of war!” 

Maya turns to face Pandora. She has exhausted her Ka searching for Sofia, so she makes it recede, her eyes returning to their natural dark brown color and her body no longer stronger than anyone else’s. Otherwise, the strain on her body will be too great. Now, she will have to fight with – cards? Yes. Unbelievable.

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 18 – Ice and Dice, Knives and Lives

Sofia: 3400 || Pandora: 4400

Pandora shrieks as the buzzsaw creeps nearer to his ankles, randomly waving his arms like he is a tube man. The audience of Ghouls points to their leader and gleefully boo at him, chucking tomatoes (they brought just for this purpose) his way. 

“Your magic show sucks worse than Penn and Teller’s!” Yells a Ghoul. “I’ve seen better street artists in New Orleans!” Balks another. “Go back to molesting kids in Neverland, you Michael Jackson-voiced loser!” Hisses a third.

Truly loyal comrades, as Sofia observes. They remind her a bit of the hyenas in The Lion King. They even have a campy, effeminate leader. Now for some lime green smoke and – BOOM! Green smoke bursts into the air and the bright stage lights waver, beaming all the colors of the rainbow. The Ghouls balk in mad laughter at their idiot master.  

Pandora shrieks at random people in the audience, “Clarence, I need technical support! Get your black-cowled a$$ here and help with the lights!” The green smoke and technicolor lights suddenly cease but the Ghouls keep having a good time. 

PANDORA’S TURN: “Ahem! After I was so rudely interrupted, let’s continue the show. I resume Pandora’s Great Escape! And I start by banishing the Galaxy Cyclone (Spell) in my Graveyard to destroy Egg Legacy.” Sofia’s card dissolves into dust and gets scattered by cosmic wind. 

“I activate Graceful Charity (Spell): I draw 3 and discard 2. I further augment my hand with Dark Magic Circle (Continuous Spell) to add a special card from my Deck to my hand.” 

“Is it a surprise tool that will help you later?” Sofia says in a deadpan tone.

“Not in this clubhouse!” Pandora affirms with enthusiasm. “I’m using it right now: Dark Magic Curtain (Spell)! I pay half my Life so my next Dark Magician (ATK 2500) can make his great entrance!” A skeleton animated by dark magic appears to draw back the curtain behind Pandora and – ta da! – a new wizard appears! (Pandora LP 4400 → 2200)

“But I’m not done yet. Here, watch your monster disappear!” Pandora’s magician conjures a dark magic circle around Sofia’s powerful raptor, transporting it to the Banished Zone. “Dark Magician, strike her directly!” Pandora shrieks. Sofia gets struck by sudden pain all over her body, like she is dying of poison, but it vanishes as suddenly as it appears. (Sofia LP 3400 → 900)

“That should do for now. I set a card and end my turn.” Pandora concludes with satisfaction. 

Sofia’s spirit – or is it her stomach? – falls to the ground. She will lose her feet and Maya abandon her out of disappointment! – Wait. Does she find Maya being disappointed scarier than bleeding to death on the floor of a degenerate’s basement. Strange world.

Sofia laughs in amusement and terror at the irony, clasping her shoulders with her hands. When she fell down, Maya and Yukio helped her get back up almost every time. But this duel is like the two times she faced Bandit Keith. She will have to magically conjure the strength inside herself, anything to get this nightmare of a duel over with. 

SOFIA’S TURN: “I activate Egger Planter (Spell)! I banish the 2 facedown cards I stole from you to draw 2 cards. I play Soul Absorption (Continuous Spell) and I activate Miscelleaneosaurus from my Graveyard; I banish 4 Dinosaurs from my Graveyard to Special Summon Tyranno Infinity (ATK 7000)!” The Ghouls cheer at seeing such a small but powerful monster, jumping as if dynamite is blowing them into the sky. Things are getting interesting!

As a matter of formality, Giant Rex returns to the field stronger than ever (ATK 2000 → 3200) and Soul Absorption heals Sofia. (LP 900 → 2900).   

“Tyranno Infinity, destroy Dark Magician!” Sofia commands, too eager to win the Duel.

Pandora balks at her audacity. “How naive to think you could defeat me, the master of magicians! I activate Magician’s Selection (Trap)!” The Dark Magician instantly forces the other dinosaur to appear in front of him as a meat shield, blocking the attack of Tyranno Infinity.

“Oh no…” Sofia whispers, not because her attack failed but because she could have played a Spell, but didn’t. I-I set two cards and end my turn.” Sofia stammers, covering her mistake as much as she can.

PANDORA’S TURN: The illusionist Pandora is not the greatest duelist but he is no idiot. He can read people like any good performer can, and he knows Sofia made a mistake. Now, he astutely judges, it is time to punish her for it, but he does have some respect for her. He claps in applause. “Wonderful! A fierce exchange, the kind of suspense I adore in a magic show.”

The clapping suddenly stops and the man becomes dead serious. “But you have little time to celebrate. Not with my next move: Card of Sanctity (Spell)!” Both players draw until they have 6 cards in their hand, Sofia groaning. Nothing good ever comes from this.

“I activate Thousand Knives (Spell)! I target Tyranno Infinity for destruction!” The Dark Magician casts a spell, throwing a rainstorm of kitchen knives at the monster.

Sofia quickly reacts, “I dodge the attack with Super Polymerization! Tyranno Infinity and Dark Magician fuse together to -” 

“I play Illusion Magic (Quick-play Spell)” Pandora counters with deft speed. The second Dark Magician to enter the Duel vanishes from the field. Pandora adds his third and last Dark Magician from the Deck to his hand. With no second target, the Super Polymerization card disappears, but the thousand knives do not. Before long, Tyranno Infinity gets butchered.

Pandora can see Sofia’s error at last. Had she played Super Polymerization last turn, she would have won the duel. Ah, what relief! 

“I discard the Dark Magician in my hand to Special Summon Illusion Apprentice Magician (ATK 2000)!” A long-haired variant of the Dark Magician Girl comes into play. “I activate Silent Doom to revive Dark Magician (DEF 2100), then activate Dedication Through Light and Darkness (Quick-play Spell) to sacrifice him to Special Summon Dark Magician of Chaos (ATK 2800) from the Deck!” At the end of this process, Pandora arrives to controlling a wizard with long black hair and tight black leather.

“My new magician isn’t just kinky, he has a powerful Effect.” Pandora assures his opponent. “I retrieve Card of Sanctity from my Graveyard and – guess what – I activate it! I refill my hand and we ride the merry-go-round once again, except this merry-go-round is covered with your blood! Don’t you think that’s fun?”

Sofia coldly retorts, “I think you need to direct the next Saw movie.”

Pandora replies, “I’ll look into it. I activate Monster Reborn (Spell) to revive Dark Magician (ATK 2500) again and activate Bond Between Teacher and Student (Spell). I Special Summon Dark Magician Girl (ATK 2300) and Set a card relevant to them from my Deck.” Master and apprentice reunite as a powerful duo and a new card appears in the back row. “Now here’s a real surprise tool that will help me later. I promise you that.”

“I doubt it. Only a fool takes the word of a criminal.” Sofia comments.

Pandora sheds a crocodile tear. “How can a woman be so young and pretty but be so cruel? You hurt my feelings.”

“I imagine it comes with the package.” Sofia postulates with a certain satisfaction. “Beauty with cruelty is not a bug but a feature in the system.” She thinks about how her friends will react to such a cynical but cliche remark. Jolene will chastise her for “internalized misogyny”. Maya will pretend to laugh like Homer Simpson, chuckling, “It’s funny ‘cause it’s true.”  

Pandora chortles, “Spoken like a true realist from my birthplace. Why, you could’ve strolled through Paris with dapper shoes for all I know, but something tells me you’re not that type. Paying 1000 Life, I activate Dark Magic Veil (Spell) to Special Summon Magician of Dark Illusion (ATK 2100) from my hand!” Dark mist gathers to form the shadowy and spectral version of the Dark Magician. (Pandora LP 2200 → 1200) 

“My magicians are here; they are at your service, but not for long. I activate Quintet Force (Spell)! The magicians will be gone to form a new spellcaster unlike any you have ever seen but so will all your cards.” Pandora’s monsters cross their scepter’s together, gathering the energy needed for a powerful spell. The game’s end is nigh.

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 17 – Dino County

Sofia wakes up with a start in pitch darkness. Her wrists and ankles hurt from being bound tightly by what feels like cold metal but, when she tries moving her limbs to free them, she discovers she cannot, no matter how hard she tries. How does she end up getting kidnapped!? Who do people think she is!? Mokuba!?

The lights come on, their sudden ignition burning Sofia’s eyes so badly she might as well look directly at the sun. Her eyes adjust, letting her see the dungeon around her through the black and blue spots blotting her vision. It looks like she is on a small wooden stage, except another stage faces her across a black pit housing a large audience of sinister men in black cowls.

Really weird and off-putting. Maybe people think Sofia is Daphne from Scooby Doo. The thought makes her so embarrassed she struggles to free herself from the chains even more, but cannot, making her wrists and ankles burn sore. 

And there, across the audience on the opposing stage, arrives a man in a dazzling white suit and hat, his face covered by a wide striped mask. He announces in a quite rather high pitched for a man, “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, respectables and reprobates, muggles and magicians, cops and Crips, transexuals and transgenders, lawyers, doofuses and do-gooders, goodie-two-shoes and Ghouls, I present you the most exciting magic show this century! I introduce your leader, the one and only Pandora, the Great Archmage, Leader of the Ghouls!” 

The Ghouls cheer wildly with arms out, expecting presents like they are at a Mardi Gras parade and, surely, Pandora throws candy and beads at the cheering mob. “And you are?” Pandora commands a microphone, as if by magic, to hover towards Sofia’s mouth. 

The shocked woman blurts out a demand, too annoyed to care, “Cut the crap and duel me! Let me guess, you want to play a card game deathmatch. If I win, you let me go. If you win, I get sent to the Shadow Realm or the Chaos Realm or Happy Land or whatever. Just let us duel already!”

“How rude!” Pandora scoffs, and his audience follows suit, jeering at Sofia. “Before you die by my hands, would you at least like to know who your killer is and why he kills you?”

“I want to know why you have a girl’s name.” Sofia answers. “Otherwise, no. Not really.”

“What a bummer. I’ll tell you anyway.” Pandora insists.

“Please, no. Don’t torture me with your backstory. I don’t need an exposition to this chapter. Whatever you do, don’t sing, especially in an improv-”

Pandora proceeds to narrate in song:

I woke up, in darkness,
My mind triggered, by an evil master, through black magic,
To take a little rope, a hefty stool, and with some gumption
Go hang myself. Oh, how tragic! 

Sofia has enough. “I get it. It’s a metaphor for depression. It’s deep. Just stop.”

“Fine… fine.. Jack of Spades!” Pandora mumbles as he conjures a pair of buzzsaws, one on his stage, the other on Sofia’s, then makes them vanish, then makes them appear again. “Now you see them. Now you don’t. Now you see them. Now you don’t. – Just kidding.” The buzzsaws begin whirring, here to stay. “Need to know the rules?” 

The magician unshackles Sofia’s wrists while buckling his ankles with chains. He tosses a duel disk at the opposite stage, barely missing Sofia’s head since he has never been good at sports. Sofia straps the contraption to her right wrist and the game begins.

SOPHIA: 8000 || PANDORA: 8000  

SOPHIA’S TURN: “I Normal Summon Beatraptor (ATK 1400) And I set two in the back row!” She conjures a bird-like dinosaur with bright yellow aplomb, as well as two facedown cards behind it.

PANDORA’S TURN: “I activate Galaxy Cyclone (Spell) and I target the card on my left!” A storm of stardust blusters through one of Sofia’s cards, puncturing it. “Seems I destroyed the card There Can Be Only One. Almost all my monsters are one Type. How woefully unprepared you are!

“I proceed to attack. I Normal Summon Makyura – the Destroyer (ATK 1600)!” A black-clad executioner brandishes its massive claws, the sole yellow eye on its head glowing with malicious intent. “Turn the dinosaur into chicken meat!” The butcher lunges for the kill.

Sofia objects, “I refute your attack with Egg Legacy (Continuous Trap)!” She banishes a Dinosaur from her Deck, causing a large spotted egg to eject out of the card and crash into the assailant (ATK 1600 → 800). “Beatraptor, counterattack!” Her monster slashes the executioner with its hind legs, inflicting it with a fatal wound. (Pandora LP 8000 → 7400)

“Not bad.” Pandora compliments his opponent. “But your trap is so basic it might as well wear ugg boots.”

“Oh no you didn’t.” Sofia growls.

“Oh yes I did! You did me a great service by sending Makyura to the Graveyard, and you shouldn’t have. I am the entertainer. I provide the service. So I will return the favor by using Makyura’s Effect to activate Eternal Soul (Continuous Trap) and Magician’s Navigation (Trap)!”

Sofia braces herself. Here comes the big guns. Pandora is a feared Dark Magician user, one who even gave Yugi a run for his money back in the day. Now the man can flood the field with his ace monsters.

Pandora declares, “With Magician’s Navigation, I Special Summon Dark Magician (ATK 2500) from my hand and Dark Magician Girl (ATK 2000) from my Deck! With Eternal Soul, I’ll add a Dark Magician from my Deck to my hand. That being said, come forth my loyal servants!” Master and apprentice arrive together for the game, both monsters wearing dark green robes, a different version from the usual iconic purple color.

“Beatraptor works wonders against degenerates who abuse the Extra Deck. But they’re street magicians compared to David Blane, and like him I’m a classic who can fly. Dark Magician Girl, attack with Dark Burning!” The female magician turns Sofia’s monster into fried chicken. (Sofia LP 8000 → 7400) 

“I activate Beatraptor. Since it died by battle, I Special Summon another Beatraptor (DEF 2000) from my Deck!” Another dinosaur leaps into play as if from the curtain behind the stage. 

“Very well. Dark Magician, destroy Beatraptor! Dark Magic!” Pandora commands. His ace monster transforms the raptor to glass and shatters it.

“I use its Effect to Special Summon the final Beatraptor (DEF 2000) from my Deck.” Sofia states, playing her monster.

Pandora ends his turn with a facedown card, confident he has a solid board. After all, if Sofia ever tries to erase Eternal Soul, his weak point, he can easily negate the Card Effect.”  

SOFIA’S TURN: “Egg Legacy activates during my Standby Phase; I add the Dinosaur monster I banished to my hand. For my Main Phase, I Normal Summon Giant Rex (ATK 2000)!” The misnamed monster – really a large spinosaurus – graces the field with a loud stamping of its feet. “I network Giant Rex and Beatraptor to Link Summon N. Raptor MaXVI – Galapagos (ATK 2200)!” The two dinosaurs evaporate into two link markers bordering a futuristic portal, out of which emerges a silly silly with spots all over its body and a shell on its back.

What a strange new monster! The audience of criminals oohs and ahs as if it is made of babies. Pandora smirks in amusement. Well, this is new.

“I activate Cosmic Cyclone (Spell)! I pay 1000 Life to destroy Eternal Soul (Sofia LP 7400 → 6400)!” Sofia declares, making her own whirling storm of stardust.  

Pandora scoffs at her novice tactic. “How predictable. I banish Magician’s Navigation from the Graveyard to negate your Spell!”

Sofia happily snaps her fingers. “What I was waiting for! Now it’s time for my magic act. I activate Galapagos!” The odd raptor catches Pandora’s card with its tongue and swallows it, not unlike how a frog eats a fly, and pops an egg on Sofia’s back row.

“What in the name of Houdini’s handcuffs did I just see!?” Pandora shouts in a panic, flabbergasted.

“Hey, I thought you were the magician here.” Sofia says with a smirk. “Very well. I’ll reveal the trick. Galapagos can negate a card and store it facedown on my back row for use in the future. “Now Cosmic Cyclone gets to resolve! Your Eternal Soul card is banished!” The whirlwind of spacedust erodes the stone slab on Pandora’s field. Both magicians, master and apprentice, vanish.    

Pandora starts panicking, his greasy face profuse with sweat. “Oh no! Oh no no no no no no no no!”

“I use the second Effect of Galapagos. I banish the egg – your facedown card on my field – and four Dinosaurs in my Graveyard to Special Summon two Dinosaurs from my Deck: Souleating Oviraptor (ATK 1800) and N. Raptor Apostlesaur (ATK 300)!” The egg violently breaks open, a ghastly dinosaur and a primitive reptile popping out. “I activate both monsters. With Oviraptor, I mill a Dinosaur. With Apostlesaur, I add a Ritual Monster and Ritual Spell from the Deck to my hand.”

In addition, since Giant Rex is banished, it reappears on the field and with more power (ATK 2000 → 2600). Sofia commences the right. “I activate Prime Origin Offering (Ritual Spell)! I can tribute Apostlesaur as the only sacrifice to Ritual Summon N. Raptor MaXII – Madagascar!” Apostlesaur falls into an altar resembling a volcano, which erupts with flames that form into a mighty spotted raptor.

A member of the audience cannot help but call out, “Wait, doesn’t Prime Origin Offering spell “poo” as an acronym?” The Ghouls burst into laughter.

Sofia blushes crimson. “Yes, yes it does.” She seethes defensively. “Real mature for a ruthless criminal organization.” 

“Madagascar’s Effect activates.” Sofia speaks to Pandora. “I seize three cards from your Graveyard and put them facedown on my field.” The new dinosaur swallows the three cards and lays them as eggs on Sofia’s back row. “Madagascar, give Pandora a bite more than he can chew! Attack him directly!” The raptor leaps in for the kill.

“You fool! I still have a card facedown!” Pandora rebukes her. “I activate Dark Vanishing Act (Trap)! You destroyed by Dark Magician, so I destroy your monster!” A specter of Pandora’s ace monster apparates to kill the raptor with a deadly spell. In addition, Sofia suffers damage equal to her monster’s ATK. (Sofia LP 6400 → 3400)

The frightful buzzsaw edges its way closer to Sofia’s ankles. Sofia feels her heart pounding hard in her chest. Trying her best to fight her rising anxiety, she says, “Madagascar activates in the Graveyard. I can banish one of its facedown cards to revive it. Return, Madagascar!” One of the eggs shatters, and Sofia’s monster is reborn. “Continue your attack!” This time, the raptor’s hunt is a success. It slashes Pandora across the waist, returning balance between the two duelists. (Pandora LP 7400 → 4400)     

Why Cheesecake is God

All issues considered, it is a fundamental fact that New York cheesecake is healthier and tastier than chocolate mousse. Cheesecake is made of cheese, a necessary nutrient in daily life because all the food pyramids you see in the doctor’s office say so. The famous tarte au fromage frequently comes with blueberries and strawberries on top, both of which are fruits and therefore deemed healthy by every juice cleansing company and yoga mom in the nation. 

My esteemed colleague, a freeloader in The Cheesecake Factory, assures me the New York cheesecake contains much less sugar than the chocolate mousse, which is produced in the bowels of the diabolical Mousse Factory, both corporations engaged in a business argument lasting generations. New York cheesecake is so healthy statisticians from The Cheesecake Factory Coard of Researchers estimate that eating ten cheesecakes each day will decrease your chances of getting diabetes. The same statisticians also confirm, beyond any reasonable doubt, that eating only two chocolate mousse in one day increases your chances of getting diabetes by ninety-eight percent.

New York cheesecake has a richness of taste and creamy satisfying flavor that lingers in the tongue only a confection with superior amounts of dairy than chocolate mousse can possibly provide. Chucky the Great, the patron deity of all cheeses from the mozzarella stick to the parmesan pizza, alpham et omegam de omne casseus delectamentum, distinguishes his prophets and other beatific noblemen from the masses destined for perdition by their increased capacity to taste and appreciate cheese. I cite the irrefutable Boden’s Law, which dictates that one’s personal preference is a natural law of the universe, a fact indisputable as Newton’s Three Laws of Gravity. I like New York cheesecake over chocolate mousse. Therefore, New York cheesecake is superior to chocolate mousse in every way.

Also, cats are evil.

-Mishka Mouse 

Red Dragon Decks Before They Were Cool

My final attempt at making the best Forbidden Memories Deck without cheats:

Red Nova
Monsters:
3x Meteor B. Dragon
3x Blue-Eyes White Dragon
3x Metalzoa
3x Skull Knight
3x Zoa

Equip Spells:
3x Megamorph
3x Bright Castle
3x Dragon Treasure
3x Dark Energy 
3x Malevolent Nuzzler
3x Violet Crystal

Normal Spells:
3x Raigeki
1x Dark Hole

Traps:
3x Widespread Ruin

The primary attackers of this Deck are Meteor B. Dragon and Blue-Eyes White Dragon, both of which have the Sun to counter the Moon of Gate Guardian. Metalzoa, Skull Knight, and Zoa are secondary attackers. Skull Knight and Zoa are very important since it has Mercury to counter the Sun of Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon.

The Equip Spells exist to power up the two “classes” of monster in this Deck: bright fiery dragons and brutish creatures of darkness. All three of my weaker monsters (Metalzoa, Skull Knight, Zoa) can be powered up by the same Equip Spells. Meteor B. Dragon and Blue-Eyes White Dragon don’t have as many options but they don’t need as many Equip Spells to become strong enough to challenge a Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon.

Widespread Ruin has many uses. It is a good first move to buy you some time. You can protect yourself later in the game from a Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon or Gate Guardian in the event your opponent draws them. By having only 15 monsters, I trim my Deck of redundant monsters and enjoy Widespread Ruin while being consistent.

Raigeki is staple while Dark Hole can also get rid of your opponent’s back row.

Less Conventional Decks

These Decks like to take their time, preferring to wear the opponent down over a long time rather than bludgeon them to death with a hammer.

Dancer’s Strike
Deck Master: Dancing Elf
Deck Cost: 757

Monsters:
3x Dancing Elf
3x Weather Control
3x Leghul
3x Ooguchi 
3x Man-Eater Bug
3x Psychic Kappa
2x Roaring Ocean Snake 

Equip Spells:
3x Insect Armor with Cannon
3x Laser Cannon Armor
3x Power of Kaishin
3x Spring of Rebirth
3x Horn of Light 
2x Megamorph

Traps:
3x Mirror Wall

This is a poke Deck, the point being to teleport Leghul and Ooguchi to your opponent’s Deck Master to make a direct hit. Man-Eater Bug, Psychic Kappa, and Roaring Ocean Snake are good side monsters that also work with the many Equip Spells in this Deck. Man-Eater Bug pops a monster, Psychic Kappa makes a good scout, and Roaring Ocean Snake transforms the field to its advantage each time it battles.

Dancing Elf and Weather Report are materials to create Dark Witch for a little extra beatdown, and to make the Deck faster. Since many monsters in this Deck are weak, you can take heavy battle damage if you’re not careful. You must heavily rely on Mirror Force to protect your monsters. Since computer opponents are idiots they will keep attacking you, triggering your critical Trap Card.   

Metal Morphs 
Deck Master: Cyber-Stein
Deck Cost: 754

Monsters:
3x Labyrinth Tank
3x Blast Juggler
3x Cyber-Stein
3x Petit Moth
2x Zoa
2x Red-Eyes Black Dragon

Equip Spells:
3x Dark Energy
3x Machine Conversion Factory
3x Horn of the Unicorn
3x Megamorph
3x Cocoon of Evolution
3x Metalmorph 

Traps:
3x Mesmeric Control
3x Infinite Dismissal

This Deck relies on summoning powerful fusion Machine monsters, Metalzoa and Red-Eyes Black Metal Dragon, while powering them up to high ATK. Labyrinth Tank is another boss monster, and it can travel through Labyrinth Terrain. Cyber-Stein transforms the field to Wasteland Terrain each time it battles, Blast Juggler destroys troublesome monsters, and Petit Moth combined with Cocoon of Evolution eventually bring out Perfectly Ultimate Great Moth. 

Of all my Decks, this one is the least consistent. You often won’t have enough Star Power to summon your stronger monsters and your hand will often get clogged with Petit Moth, Cocoon of Evolution, and Metalmorph. You sometimes need to discard cards to keep your Deck running. 

Poison Ivy
Deck Master: Dark Plant
Deck Cost: 754

Monsters:
3x Laughing Flower
3x Greenkappa
3x Eyearmor
3x Kuriboh
3x Petit Moth
3x Dark Plant
3x Swordsman from a Foreign Land
3x Monster Eye
2x Leogun
2x Hinotama Soul

Equip Spells:
3x Crush Card
3x Vile Germs
3x Cocoon of Evolution

Traps:
3x Mesmeric Control

A different kind of Plant Deck, this one relies on making Crush Terrain and using monster effects over brute force. Queen of Autumn Leaves and Rose Specter of Dunn are still powerful fusions but their ATK is not a priority. Leogun and Hinotama soul fuse into Flame Cerberus, another strong side monster. Petite Moth and Cocoon of Evolution eventually make Perfectly Ultimate Great Moth, which is very useful, both as a forceful attacker and a subtle underminer of your opponent’s monsters.

The various effect monsters fulfill many functions: Greenkappa and Eyearmor mimic the ATK of the strongest monster on the field. Kuriboh insures you from damage when it battles. Monster Eye flips your opponent’s card face-up. Swordsman from a Foreign Land destroys the monster that killed it. Laughing Flower briefly turns your opponent’s creature against its maker. Dark Plant makes Crush Terrain. Hinotama Soul destroys nearby Spells and Traps when it dies.

Devilish Burn
Deck Master: Kryuel
Deck Cost: 754

Monsters:
3x Kryuel 

Normal Spells:
3x Tremendous Fire
3x Ookazi 
3x Final Flame
3x Hinotama
2x Dimension Hole
1x Just Desserts

Equip Spells:
3x Axe of Despair

Traps:
3x Invisible Wire
3x Bear Trap
3x Eatgaboon
3x Mesmeric Control
3x Tears of the Mermaid 
3x Infinite Dismissal
1x Bad Reaction to Simochi

This Deck has only three monsters: copies of Kryuel, whose purpose is to make burn Spell Cards more potent. When not hitting your opponent with direct damage you take your time setting a field of many Trap Cards to stall them, either by decreasing a monster’s ATK, spellbinding it for several turns, or killing it. Bad Reaction to Simochi counters any attempt your opponent may make to rejuvenate their atrophying Life. Dimension Hole is a last ditch escape if you need it. 

I Need a Life – Part Two

Another trio of Decks for my characters: Yifan, Marcus, and Percy respectively.

Drowning
Deck Master: Roaring Ocean Snake
Deck Cost: 755

Monsters:
3x Roaring Ocean Snake
3x Yamatano Dragon Scroll
3x Petit Dragon
3x Root Water
3x White Dolphin 
2x High Tide Gyojin
2x Catapult Turtle 
2x Zone Eater

Normal Spells:
2x Umi
2x Aqua Chorus 

Equip Spells:
3x Power of Kaishin 
3x Spring of Rebirth
3x Hightide

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

Yifan’s strategy is to create and power up fusion monsters, mostly Aqua Dragon, Kairyu-shin, and Sea King Dragon. Roaring Ocean Snake is of course a main hitter as well. Most of these monsters also transform the field into Umi Terrain as they battle, which powers them up even more and takes away field advantage the opponent may have. The Deck kills two birds with one stone. Umi and Aqua Chorus are really supplements to rub salt into the wound. Of all Decks, this one produces monsters with the highest ATK.

Some of the fusion materials have uses on their own. Root Water creates more Umi Terrain, Yamatano can transform into Yamadron over time, Catapult Turtle can blast through Labyrinth Terrain, and Zone Eater makes more Umi Terrain.  

Haunting
Deck Master: Swordstalker 
Deck Cost: 757

Monsters:
3x Swordstalker
3x Muka Muka
3x Mavelus 
3x Yamatano Dragon Scroll 
3x Hinotama Soul
3x Witch’s Apprentice 
3x Time Wizard 
3x Dancing Elf
2x Frenzeid Panda
2x Barrel Rock
2x Princess of Tsurugi 

Normal Spells:
2x Burning Land
2x Darkness Approaches 

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

Marcus “the Muskrateer” fuses many weaker monsters into strong fusions that top 2000 ATK, all the while powering up Swordstalker and Muka Muka by filling his Graveyard. This Deck is more consistent than the other Swordstalker Deck since it doesn’t compromise with the Magician of Faith-Tremendous Fire engine. It also allows the boss monsters to peak at ludicrously high ATK because of Darkness Approaches, like getting Muka Muka to hit the ceiling with 9999 ATK. Burning Land takes away Crush Terrain and any field advantage from the opponent. 

Crushing
Deck Master: Rigras Leever
Deck Cost: 754 

Monsters:
3x Rigras Leever 
3x Slate Warrior
3x Soul Eater
3x Jowls of Dark Demise
3x Dharma Cannon 
3x Greenkappa
3x Eyearmor 
3x Change Slime

Equip Spells:
3x Salamandra 
3x Gust Fan
2x Machine Conversion Factory
2x Dark Energy

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

Percy “the Vagabond” makes use of the unique Immortal monsters. Slate Warrior and Rigras Leever are the primary attackers, with Gust Fan and Salamandra as their respective Equip Spells. Their ATK won’t soar to great heights but they are competent, and take revenge on their killers by making Crush Terrain when they die. 

Soul Eater is the big gun, absorbing monsters in the Graveyard to top 3000 ATK with ease, 4000 ATK on a regular basis, and even 5000 ATK at times. Jowels of Dark Demise is a good tech that steals any powerful monster you can’t kill outright. Greenkappa and Eyearmor copy the ATK of the strongest monster and Change Slime frustrates the opponent by doing a kamikaze on monsters they devoted time and effort creating. Dharma Canon is useful for blasting past Labyrinth Terrain.

I Need a Life – Part One

I’m fond of making Decks for my characters. If a Duelists of the Roses version of the Yugioh game was invented, these are the decks Maya, Yukio, and Sofia would use respectively.

Fell Dragons
Deck Master: Red-Eyes Black Dragon
Deck Cost: 752

Monsters:
3x Red-Eyes Black Dragon
3x Summoned Skull
3x Yamatano Dragon Scroll 
3x Petit Dragon
2x Canon Soldier
2x Time Wizard
2x Witch’s Apprentice 
2x Kuriboh 

Normal Spells:
2x Mountain

Equip Spells:
3x Dragon Treasure
3x Nails of Bane
3x Horn of the Unicorn 
3x Dark Energy

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

Maya resorts to fusing B. Skull Dragon and powering it up with many Equip Spells, often with ATK topping 4000 and even 5000. The fusion materials, Red-Eyes Black Dragon and Summoned Skull, are very powerful in their own right, especially when with many equips, easily topping 3000 ATK and even 4000 ATK at times. 

Thousand Dragon is a lesser fusion monster, but still quite powerful. Even the weak fusions, Blackland Fire Dragon and Koumori Dragon, can cause trouble when powered up with Equip Spells. Metal Dragon is a decent monster and a good combatant in Wasteland Terrain, which many Yorkists reside in. 

The fusion materials have their functions: Cannon Soldier can break through Jasper Tudor’s Labyrinth Terrain fortress, Yamatano can transform into Yamadron to remove Terrain that gives the opponent an advantage, and Kuriboh makes a good scout since you get no damage from it. 

Zombie Apocalypse 
Deck Master: Patrician of Darkness
Deck Cost: 755

Monsters:
3x Patrician of Darkness
3x Shadow Ghoul
3x Dragon Zombie
3x Armored Zombie
3x Mammoth Graveyard
3x Rainbow Flower
3x Griggle
2x Curse of Dragon

Normal Spells:
2x Wasteland

Equip Spells:
3x Violet Crystal
3x Dark Energy
3x Megamorph

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

Yukio relies less on Pumpking the King of Ghosts to power up weaker Zombie monsters, instead strengthening Great Mammoth of Goldfine, Patrician of Darkness, Skelegon, and Shadow Ghoul through Equip Spells. This makes the Deck faster, more consistent, and less reliant on setup, though it can still make a couple of Pumpkings to easily power up monsters to over 4000 ATK. In addition, Shadow Ghoul can cross Labyrinth Terrain. 

Fairy Queen
Deck Master: Dark Witch 
Deck Cost: 755

Monsters:
3x Dark Witch
3x Maha Vailo
3x Fairy’s Gift
3x Wing Egg Elf
3x Dancing Elf
3x Curtain of the Dark Ones
2x Barrel Rock

Normal Spells:
2x Mountain

Equip Spells:
3x Bright Castle
3x Elf’s Light
2x Electro-Whip
2x Cyber Shield 
2x Malevolent Nuzzler 

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

Sofia relies on churning out Dark Witch and Mystical Elf with many Equip Spells. Summoning many Mystical Elfs can power up all LIGHT monsters to an enormous amount, topping 4000 ATK and even 5000 ATK on a regular basis. Dark Elf is a powerful ally despite being a creature of the night since she has stronger base ATK.

Maha Vailo is best when in face-up Defense Position since he makes Equip Spells even more potent. Barrel Rock can blast through Labyrinth Terrain can fuse into Mystical Sand when taking advantage of Wasteland Terrain is needed. 

I Spend Too Much Time Playing Duelists of the Roses

The best Decks I ever made without any cheat codes:

Red Ivy
Deck Master: Queen of Autumn Leaves
Deck Cost: 754

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

Normal Spells:
3x Forest 
3x Tremendous Fire

Equip Spells:
3x Vile Germs
2x Electro-Whip
2x Cyber Shield 
2x Malevolent Nuzzler 

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

The main strategy is to easily churn out many Queen of Autumn Leaves and Rose Specter of Dunn, powering them up to very high levels with many Equip Spells and Forest. You can easily get their ATK to top 3000 and it’s not uncommon for your monsters to top 4000.

But even the weak fusion materials have strong effects. Laughing Flower and Dark Plant can delay your opponent’s monsters by controlling and destroying them. Green Phantom King can give your Queens a little boost. Magician of Faith can reuse Tremendous Fire, both staples among my Decks, allowing you to dish out up to 6000 direct damage.

The six Trap Cards are staples in all of my Decks; they weaken your opponent’s monsters and make them sitting ducks for you destroy them and damage your opponent’s Life.

Pumpking Patch
Deck Master: Pumpking the King of Ghosts
Deck Cost: 757

Monsters:
3x Dragon Zombie
3x Wood Remains
3x Dokuroizo the Grim Reaper
3x Fiend’s Hand
3x Mammoth Graveyard
3x Abyss Flower
3x Dark Plant
3x Magician of Faith

Normal Spells:
3x Wasteland
3x Tremendous Fire

Equip Spells:
3x Dark Energy
3x Violet Crystal 

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

This Deck is the most complicated. Preferably, you will start out with about two Pumpkings to boost your monsters. Great Mammoth of Goldfine is the most powerful fusion monster you can bring out. With a little patience, you can easily get it over 4000 ATK. Wood Remains is a good soldier, especially if you get many out since they can power up each other, letting you easily top 3000 ATK, and at times even 4000.

I purposefully chose weaker Zombie monsters as fusion materials so I can make more Wood Remains if needed, as well as to fuse with Magician of Faith to and a Plant monster bring out a Pumpking. The purpose is to make the Deck go faster and avoid dead draws by fusing more monsters. Finding out just the right monsters was a struggle and took a long time.

I use a “rule of two” when playing this Deck to avoid a dead hand. If I have two or more Plant monsters in my hand, I use them both to make a Pumpking or use one of them when making a Great Mammoth. The same rule applies to Zombie monsters and Magician of Faith.

The fusion materials have their own uses. Fiend’s Hand can pop an enemy monster. Dark Plant makes Crush Terrain. Magician of Faith recycles Tremendous Fire. Dokuroizo the Grim Reaper is immune to Trap Cards.

Aldying
Deck Master: Swordstalker
Deck Cost: 756 

Monsters:
3x Swordstalker
3x Muka Muka 
3x Mavelus 
3x Frenzied Panda
3x Hinotama Soul
3x Petit Dragon
3x Time Wizard
3x Magician of Faith
3x Dancing Elf
2x Princess of Tsurugi 
2x Ancient Jar

Normal Spells:
3x Tremendous Fire

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

The main strategy is to power up Swordstalker and Muka Muka by fusing a lot of weak monsters together to make more powerful creatures. While you should normally fuse with as few materials as possible, this Deck takes an opposite approach. You should fuse as many materials as possible, even if you don’t have to, so you can stack up a big Graveyard to power up your boss monsters. This way, Swordstalker tends to top 3000 ATK while Muka Muka climbs up to 5000 ATK.

I struggled over a long time to choose the right fusion materials so even the fusion monsters easily top 2000 ATK. They are relatively weak but still give the opponent a hard time. Such monsters are: Thousand Dragon, Crimson Sunbird, Punished Eagle, Flame Cerberus, Mystical Sand, Stone Dragon, and Garvas.

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 16 – Serpents Thrive, Fear Remains Alive

The Valley of the Kings burns under the heat of the midday sun, so hot and dry Hassan Mubarak nearly has his backside burn and fuse with the seat of his army jeep. The current Egyptian President cannot find much romantic mystery in the desert he governs. The bright light above him seems to disinfect everything to the point of making the land sterile, like it broke through every tomb and burned all the mummies and ancient relics to ash. If the past, with its remains of an old world, are a kind of vampire sucking the life of the living – then the vampire should die? He has the weirdest deja vu right now for some reason.

Hassan sees a merciful large white tend and unsticks himself from the seat with his advisor, Simon Al-Mufti. He sees two familiar woman as he enters the tent, the first garnished in white clothes and large sunglasses, and the second in old blue jeans and a flat cap. Simon scratches his head in visible confusion.

“Why are you dressed like a discount Kim Kardashian?” Hassan addresses the woman in white.

“One: it’s hot. Two: I’m hot.” Maya quips in a facetious manner. 

“Fascinating.” Hassan remarks as he takes a seat near the two women. Knowing who they are and having their goals in mind, he can make an educated guess on what they’re after. “I’m assuming you want my help in taking out a high mage, perhaps Anubisius since he rules over the Middle East. I don’t know if I can do it for reasons you should know.”

Maya nods, admitting the fact, and gives her modest proposal. “I’m aware of the messy relationships in the Middle East. It’s like a love dodecahedron. America-sempai loves Israel-chan and Saudi Arabia-chan. The two are frenemies; Israel-kun has a decent friendship with Egypt-kun as of late but Saudia Arabia-kun has soured feelings for Egypt-kun for reasons more tedious than card games. TL;DR Egypt-kun has declined, become dependant on foreign support, and won’t give land Saudia Arabia-kun feels entitled to.” 

“You don’t need to explain it to me. If your complexion was lighter than mine I’d accuse you of white-splaining.” Hassan reminds her. “Egypt is so weak already I would rather die than make another humiliating concession.” 

“It’s not for you but for the audience. Not everyone knows. And,” Maya adds. “Turn that frown upside down. You can beat Anubisius and level the playing field. – By the way, Kim Kardashian was delicious. Maybe she lives in me to some extent.”  

Hassan is incredulous, but a part of him remains hopeful. Subtly reminded that Maya has superhuman powers, he still must test Maya to see if his hope can manifest into something real or if it is merely a cruel trick. “Let me take you and your prodigy on a tour of this ancient land free of charge. I would rather show my argument than tell it.”

He takes his guests beyond the Valley of the Kings, following a large truck heading on its way from Cairo to a nearby village by the Nile, now grown into a refugee camp. It is only one of many along the river bank, each giving asylum to about a thousand people. It is a very different place than what Maya and Sofia remembered from three years earlier: very crowded and dirty, crafted brick houses overshadowed by a large patchwork of makeshift tents, the river cluttered with waste.

The truck stops and the drivers unload crates containing water, toiletries, canned food, used clothes, frozen vegetables, and emergency aid kits, with Hassan directing a team of his army on how to distribute the crates and to whom. The party sees an old woman trying her best to wash her clothes in the Nile. Men on a nearby farm are forced to bury a large pile of human waste in the soil, trying to make the best use by making it fertilizer. Maya, always sensitive to smells, covers her face. Sofia, whose smelling is even more acute, gets watery eyes.  

Hassan gestures to the tent city-village. “Our world is like a pyramid now. Anubisius builds new palaces in Saudi Arabia, Momentum giving him all the energy he needs. The surrounding states are not so lucky. I depend on Saudia Arabia to keep my nation’s cities floating while I do what I can to help my unhappy people. How can I muster the strength to help you. Even your strength has limits.”     

Sofia tugs at Maya’s sleeve as if her teacher is her mother too. “Promise me that we will see the people in the tent city. We must know the faces of the people we are fighting for. We cannot have a revolution with an abstract mass like ‘the proletariat’.”

Maya nods sagaciously, then says, “You are so much wiser and stronger than me, Sofia. If only you believed it.”

As the women were about to go, Hassan asks Maya, “Why dress as Kim Kardashian in a place like this? You don’t look like a hero of the common man at all. Honestly, you look like a jerk.” 

“That’s the point. I am not. Look at me, Hassan.” Maya grabs his shoulders, looking him in the eye. “I am a black magician who sold my soul to the Devil to gain my powers. I can transform into a dragon and do other dark arts. I do all the good I can but only so much can be achieved through evil means. I have so much blood on my hands the Nile would fail to wash it away; it would merely turn my claws from red to green.”

She puts Hassan’s hand on Sofia’s shoulder. “I will help you create a new world but it is not a world where I will be welcome. Having me as a leader would be demeaning to the people of this planet. Worthy people like you two are the ones who must lead the people to make a better world.” 

Hassan’s suspicions remain. “Love for ‘the proletariat’ doesn’t drive you. Hatred of the ruling class does. If you truly served the people, you would act differently. A person like you, with your immense power, will always make me wary. Maybe there are things you’re not telling me. Well, Maya?”

“You can squint at me hoping to find a hidden agenda all you want, but you must take me for my word if you want Anubisius’ head on your wall.” Maya says. “I will tell you now that I have no secrets.”

With that finished, the three of them go through the tent city. They watch several children play with a ragged soccer ball nearby. A lone man on a small boat struggles to fish. A husband, wife, girl, and scabby little boy eat small portions of lunch in a tent. The 1 liter water bottle beside them is their only ration for hydration. The family beckons Maya and Sofia to come share in some of the lunch, much to their surprise. The two women refuse to eat, daring not to waste the family’s precious food, until the wife pressures them into taking a bite. Even then, they take only a small nibble.

Husband and wife try to have a conversation with Maya and Sofia – even the little girl joins in – but the two women cannot reply since they don’t know how to speak Masry. That Masry was the maiden name of Maya’s mother; that coincidence does not escape her attention. Hassan, kneeling from outside the tent, explains Maya: “They used to own a shop in Cairo before being forced out here. The daughter once went to a private school and wants nothing more than to go back there. The son has a skin rash because of the poor sanitation.”   

Sofia nudged Maya on shoulder. “You don’t know the names of any displaced person but you know the names of the high mages you’re about to kill. Don’t you think that’s funny?”

“A delicious irony in this tragicomedy.” Maya says.

Sofia clarifies it is not what she means by “funny”. Maya replies, “I understand, but you don’t either. This is exactly why I said I was unworthy. I’m not really a fighter for the people. We’re really third party allies who cut off the heads of the monster tormenting them. It is up to them – as it should be – to build fair and just societies. But – and you really must understand this, Sofia – we ultimately serve a different agenda.”

The husband asks Hassan what Maya just said. Hassan, being tactful, simply tells them they are the warriors who defeated one of the high mages. Sofia asks him the names of the family members. Hassan tells her: the husband is Malik, the woman is Turas, the girl is Najima, the boy is Waleed. He orders a soldier to give him a crate. Hassan, Maya, and Sofia take out all the contents and give it to the family, who dearly thanks them for the medicine therein. Turas kisses the three of them and Malik shakes their hands. Najima and Waleed wave goodbye. 

The name of the husband gives Maya an idea, so it sets her thinking. The party of three stops at a far less wholesome sigh. A wasted man with a patchy beard injects a drug in his vein with a needle, resting his back against a rock. Maya says, “Not to have a Dora the Explorer moment, Sofia, but do YOU know where the man’s heroin comes from?”

Plantaciones de amapola en Afganistán. Poppy Plantations in Afghanistan.” Sofia says with no enthusiasm.”

“And do YOU know who owns private plantations in Afghanistan but spends most of his time elsewhere?” Maya prods further.

Sofia does not bother to speak, the answer being so obvious. Hassan speaks for her instead. “If we are going to attack Anubisius, we need more forces. Egypt’s army is not enough.”

And he is right, as Maya admits. They need a cohesive network of fighters. But who? Maya and Sofia part ways with Hassan, setting out to camp near the tent city. Maya creates a fire to warm up some tea while Sofia plays with sticks on the sand, getting promptly hit on the head with a ball from one of the children. Sofia tells the children they should be with their parents, but they do not understand her, so she throws the ball far away at the tents, the children running after it.

“This is a Yugioh fanfic, by the way.” Sofia reminds Maya and the audience. “When are we going to duel? People are getting bored. Political commentary is boring.”

“Be good and I’ll get you a duel. If you’re bad, I’ll publish a socialist manifesto and make everyone read it.” Maya says while looking at the flames as they fly above the campfire into the starry sky.

Sofia closes the tent and goes to sleep, Maya soon following her.  

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 15 – Everybody Wants Poppy

Anubisius cannot help but pace restlessly in his vacation manor, occupied with the defeat of Secmeton from several months ago, stopping every once in a while to glance at the rich purple fields surrounding him. What if he is next? The poppy plantation his manor oversees in the Goston valley, more specifically the wealth it represents, gives him small comfort. He tightly clutches the Millennium Key hanging round his neck as if asking the artifact to protect him with its magic. 

But the poor wealthy man need not brood alone. A large helicopter blows over the poppy field, out of which steps out Pegasus. Yifan arrives on horseback wearing a cream pink skirt, looking like a little princess, which makes Anubisius scoff, while Kepura arrives in a black limousine. Anubisius puts on the bravest face he can as he goes out to greet the guests, inviting them to his palace. He calls on servants to set up small round table and soon thereafter everyone sits down to have a tea party. 

Yifan notices the anxiety of her host as it shows on his features: his face long and sullen, his skin wan, his long arms stiff as wood, and his speech correct and terse as the Queen’s English. She cautiously sips the rose tea, sticking her pinkie out in jest. “Why so British?”

Anubisius fails to respond. Kepura wipes his large thick lips with a handkerchief and lays out what everybody is thinking on the table. “One of us is down. What do we do?”

“I’m in no position to do such a thing but maybe,” Pegasus says while twiddling his thumbs. “World leaders should do something about this crisis on our hands.”

“Martis is in a conference with the President of the United States.” Kepura states flatly. “So far the American government has declared martial law on the devastated west coast while building forts to strengthen the defenses of the east coast cities. If I was a gambling man – which I am; it’s a serious problem – I’d say the terrorists will continue on the east coast or attack East Asia. The Momentum generators there are nearest to Los Angeles.”

Anubisius is about to speak up but he is cut short by a sharp objection. “Don’t be an idiot!” Kaiba severely admonishes Kepura. “The terrorists can fly like they’re devils from Hell, or Dragonball Z villains. No place on earth is safe geographically speaking.”

Pegasus quietly observed Kaiba parking his Blue-Eyes White Dragon jet outside, which certainly made a big noise, but the rest of the conference was too distracted to care. He sighs, “It’s everyone’s favorite party pooper.” All this while drinking his tea.

Kaiba is not alone; he is joined by an otherworldly woman, thin and very pale, with hair so fair it is almost white. Pegasus recognizes her to be Maria Wight, the Yugioh World Championship semi-finalist from three years ago.           

Anubisius finally has the courage to bluster at a random target. “Kepura, do something! You are the Field Marshall of the United States, the most powerful country in history!”

“Secretary of Defense. There is no American Field Marshal.” Kepura corrects him. “Besides, what am I to do? Order a nuclear assault on every potential target around the world? Our terrorist friends come and go as they please. They have no headquarters nor any chain of command.” He points an accusing finger to everyone around him in turn. “Their strategy is to form a cell when it is time to attack, even one under your very noses, then disperse.”

Yifan observes, “In other words, every underprivileged person on the planet is a potential enemy, about seven billion of them ever since Momentum became a thing. Meanwhile, the whole infrastructure of civilization as we know it depends on six generators. The terrorists can attack six billboards with targets painted on them. We can only grasp at smoke.” Yifan points to the servants of the house and the workers outside. “Even they can be plotting against us.” 

Anubisius puts his hand near his throat as if he is choking and even Kaiba drops his stoic mask, just a bit. Yifan covers her smile with a pale dainty hand, satisfied as a cat lapping milk.  

Kaiba covers his fear by lashing out. “How disgraceful! Our enemies are anarchist dogs who hide in the forest until they make a surprise attack. Fitting that a seditious woman like Maya leads a pack of hyenas.”

“Actually,” Anubisius adds, “Hyenas are more related to cats than -”  

“SHUT UP!” Kaiba roars like a blast of icy wind. 

Pegasus blows into the air and waves his hand like its a fan. “Do you have a strategy, Kaiba-boy?”

“You’ve done nothing from the beginning. You’re useless!” Kaiba turns on him, heaping more abuse. “You know that meme where Val Kilmer in Pulp Fiction walks around in bewilderment and has no idea where he is or what he’s doing? That’s you!”

Yifan finishes her tea, extremely amused from all the arguing going on, also making a note in her mind to steal Kaiba’s joke. Kaiba catches her smirking and demands she speak up, so Yifan tells him the truth. “I think it’s funny how easily you intimidate other people. All your constipated rage and vitriol comes from frustration and impotence. If you could achieve all the things you needed to, like getting a life, getting a girlfriend, beating Yugi in a card game, you would be a happier person.”

Kaiba rejects her advice at once, triggered into delivering a monologue on his philosophy. “Happiness is the mark of the imbecile. Man’s first scowl, his first profundity, came when the gods touched him on the forehead. A man who laughs and smiles often is shallow and dull. A man who laughs at everything kills a duelists’ pride by sneering on all that is heroic. A profound man does not laugh in joy or amusement. A profound man laughs in scorn and judgment. A profound man always has gravity and dignity about him. He is serious in every field and is never frivolous; he does not guffaw, he does not party, he does not waste his time socializing or drinking tea while the world collapses.” 

Yifan checks her watch, slouching on the tea table. “Cool story, bro.” Poor “Kaiba-boy” must be as boring and miserable as a Puritan. No wonder Maria broke up with him.  Anubisius cannot take it anymore. He smashes a vase in frustration, screaming. 

Pegasus decides to speak up. “Perhaps we should petition to every world power to double its defenses of the Momentum generators. America, China, Russia, and Pakistan come to mind. Even if they are set on protecting Momentum, we should still stress the danger of terrorists.”  

Yifan ponders the situation. If she is a gambling girl, she will bet Maya will take out Anubisius next. He is the weakest link. The poor thing must be frightened as a little rabbit. She can smell his fear. However powerful Maya is, she is still the underdog so she will exercise some caution, breaking one weak link after another until the whole chain falls apart.

Set on her prediction, Yifan gives false council. “Anyone who has seen Maya as a pro duelist knows she is a brash impatient person. Most likely she is already bored with taking out mere high mages and wants a real challenge, a legend like Kaiba, Pegasus, or Yugi. I’ll also venture to guess that Maya is an insecure person beneath all her dramatics – this is a common trait among outlandish people like her – so she wants to prove herself to mend her low self-esteem.”

Pegasus jumps to the conclusion. “Protect Japan and China, as well as my island since it’s near the shore of East Japan.”

“Correct.” Yifan confirms. She eyes Kepura next. “The American East Coast should be fine on its own. Also, India and Pakistan should protect China in case Maya wants to pull a fast one.”

The council, seeing her ideas to be most reasonable, agree. Even Kaiba nods in approval though still hating her guts. Strategies out of the way, he proceeds to his agenda. As he explains it, Maria has Blue-Eyes White Dragon as a Ka, meaning she can confront the terrorists since she can match their unnatural strength with her own. Unsure of such a bold claim, the council demands to see such power first hand.

Maria quietly assents, leading everyone outdoors. Being very shy among such powerful people, she lets Kaiba do all the talking while she concentrates on proving what words cannot. She has trouble getting in the mood at first but pulls herself together after a while, meditating for a full hour. Yifan can hear her Ka growing ever stronger like it’s a rising pitch, burning like a blue star, before anyone sees her glow in bright white. She grows and transforms, becoming a Blue-Eyes White Dragon in the flesh.

Meanwhile, decides to test Maria’s power first hand. She calls on Anubisius to order Saudia Arabia to launch a nuclear missile to Pakistan. He is at first bewildered until he reflects in shame on how he appeared so nervous and weak a moment ago. Steeling his nerves and wanting to get his balls back, he bullies an executive officer over a radio call to bypass all protocol and fire the weapon. He gets his way and within fifteen minutes the missile is launched.   

Everyone, even the servants and workers, stop to admire such power and splendor. Not bad, as Yifan thinks. She is a natural. Maya had to train for years to be like this, being an ordinary mortal with a humble background. But still, people like Maria who are chosen by the gods may have a huge head start but normal people with creativity and ambition have a higher ceiling. A god cannot truly be courageous or break new ground but mere mortals can. That is her pet theory. Either way, Maya has her work cut out for her.

“The missile has been launched.” Anubisius informs the council with a dry voice. 

“You heard the man.” Yifan tells the white dragon, pointing to the sun as if the warhead is there. “Fetch.”

The dragon takes off, breaking the sound barrier. Anubisius receives a radio call from the executive officer. The nuke was destroyed as soon as it was out of range. The white dragon promptly returns in triumph and reverts back into a human. Maria is strained from the exhaustion of executing such a difficult feat but still has the strength to sit down on a chair near Kaiba.

Anubisius sighs in relief and self-satisfaction, knowing that Maria will keep him safe. He orders the servants to deliver several old school opium pipes to the guests, transporting them a hundred years into the past. Anubisius, Yifan, and Pegasus take to enjoying themselves while Kepura, Kaiba, and Maria refrain. 

Enraptured from the opium, Pegasus quotes literature: “Life has always poppies in her hands.”

“Only if you’re a dreamer.” Yifan rejoins. Her brain sick with opium, she naps on the base of one of the manor’s many columns, transported into a dream. She arrives to an African Savannah, the origin of the human species, and sees Maya, a bright woman more beautiful than any other, blazing in the sky where the sun should be. Maya never leaves the midheaven, an idée fixe refusing to leave Yifan’s mind. Yifan stretches her arms to the sky, longing to embrace Maya, but cannot rise beyond the ground no matter how hard she tries.

“Cyndia…” Pegasus moans in sorrow. “My dear wife Cyndia… I still miss you…”

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 14 – Brulinner For Champions

Now the real sparring begins. Both women release a fraction of their power, eyes glowing red, brandishing swords of fire conjured by their willpower. Maya keeps a leisurely tempo for now, like that of a sarabande, moving slowly enough for Sofia to parry her assault without too much trouble. Thankfully, the fighters use minimal Ka on their swords, so even if Maya hits Sofia with the blade her student will merely get singed. 

Sofia blocks Maya’s attacks and counters with gestures of her own right after, all while skipping around the field, kind of like a highland dance. Maya picks up the pace to a gigue, then a gavotte, lashing at Sofia with ever greater speed and strength. It gets to the point where Sofia staggers under the blows, forcing her to stand her ground and make a committed counterattack, not half-hearted parries.

Maya surprises Sofia with a sudden drop and a kick to the stomach, a Capoercia that slams Sofia into the cavity of a large rock near the ocean waves. Literally backed into a corner, Sofia strikes back with heavy cleaves. Pleased, Maya lets Sofia plow her way through, keeping it challenging just enough to make Sofia sweat. Sofia takes a gamble; she lunges forward, burning the wrist of Maya’s sword arm. Unfortunately for Sofia, her dance is clumsy and, stretching herself too far, leaves herself open.

It is a fraction of a section, but an hour from the womens’ point of view. Maya takes advantage of her sweet time and slashes her opponent’s abdomen. Sofia yells, a thin black line burned past her clothes and into her flesh. dropping her guard entirely. Maya, all too happy to take advantage of the opportunity, lands a low blow right into Sofia’s wound, making her fall to the ground, utterly defeated.

Maya examines the wound, taking care not to wince, though she is very tempted to do so. “As my great grand uncle twice removed, Clarence Jones, loved to say, ‘Better have blisters and a scar than a stump on your wrist.’” She says in an exaggerated genial tone.

“You don’t have a great grand uncle twice removed.” Sofia moans as she clutches her abdomen. “I mean, you probably do, but I doubt you know his name, or anything he said.”

Maya sits in a cross-legged position near her apprentice, cocking her head in a quizzical manner. “Have you ever watched the Magic School Bus?”

“What’s that again?”

“A cooky teacher sends kids on magic field trips to give them science lessons.”

It rings a bell. Sofia finally gets it, and makes a sarcastic laugh. Maya helps her to her feet – she points to a place behind Sofia. “Look! Wayne is brutalising Eric and Megan!”

Sofia crosses her arms in disbelief. “I don’t believe you.”

“No, really! I’m serious! It’s disgusting! It’s like hardcore porn by National Geographic!”

This catches Sofia’s morbid curiosity, so she cannot help but turn around and watch. Indeed, the hooligan Wayne violently pecks Eric into submission, tearing out several feathers, and proceeds to rape Megan. Sofia drops her jaw in surprise and disgust. 

“PSYCHE! KIDNEY PUNCH!” Maya smashes the side of Sofia’s back, making Sofia double down on the floor again. “You fell for the oldest trick in the book. Unbelievable.” When Sofia complains how it can be a trick since Maya was telling the truth, Maya replies, “Yes, you can tell the truth but still use it for deceitful purposes. I am a lenient teacher compared to experience, which will teach you the same lesson by cutting your hand off instead.”     

Maya helps Sofia to her feet again, but with no tricks in mind. She brings out a portable electric stove and invites Sofia to cook with her, which Sofia does. Maya instructs her on how to cook, not merely to make any food to eat, but how to cook well, to make the tastiest most nutritious food possible. Together, they cook fish alongside tomatoes, garlic, and ginger. They top off the fish with a pinch of butter and natural salt.

Sofia muses on what to call their meal. You cannot call it brunch because it’s too late for breakfast and maybe you can call it dinner, but what can you call all three meals in one? “Bulinner?” Sofia suggests, feeling silly. Maya laughs a bit, giving her approval. Why not? 

“The smallest things are really the largest things.” Maya observes while they eat. Embarrassed at saying such a cliche, she elaborates. “People in the past tended to shirk off small physical things like your diet, the climate you live in, the land you live off of, your daily habits as not too important factors that determine your nature as a human being and the choices you make. But those are really the most important factors.”

“Which people?” Sofia asks. “What things did they think were important instead?”

“Philosophers in the past, specifically Western ones to my limited knowledge. I imagine they cared more about big metaphysical ideas like the state of your conscious mind, your relationship with God, or the philosophical ideals you choose to have. But all those things are based on the food we eat, the state of our bodies, and other ‘merely’ physical things. It seems obvious now but I doubt it was not too long ago. Even all the magic fighting stuff we do is just an extension of our bodies.” Maya speaks in slow, lazy way, not too sure of herself.

“What about the soul? This is a Yugioh fanfic after all.” Sofia inquires furter.

Maya nods, gazing at the waves lit into fire by the sunset, putting her thoughts together. She says, “I’d say consciousness, or the soul, is an emergent property created by the body. The actions of our cells create thoughts and various subconscious processes, which are not much on their own, but we fit them together like pieces of a puzzle. We create a fiction, a ‘virtual’ reality, where our little brain waves become somewhat coherent.”   

“What if you seal your soul into Millennium Item?” Sofia probes further.

“I guess the Millennium Item uses magic to change its host’s brain or create a consciousness in some other way.” Maya ruminates. “My point is the soul is not an actual substance like a rock or a pervert penguin. You might as well say the music I play is a substance. My advice to you: do not become preoccupied with your thoughts. We are not a being; we are a doing.”    

Sofia finishes her meal, laying back on the grass to see the stars. “Not to be disrespectful, but I think our readers are itching for a duel. We shouldn’t bore them.” 

Maya brushes her concern away. “Don’t worry. Let the plot take a promenade through Central Park. Do some world-building. We’re not in a New York Times bestseller, and thank God for that.” 

Sofia makes all sorts of sarcastic exclamations. 
“Wow!”
“Much high brow!”
“Such deep!”
“Very genius!”
“A great literature!”

Maya chuckles a bit, and says, “I didn’t discuss philosophy simply to bore you. It’s an appetizer of the next lesson, which you’ll learn when you’re ready. You’ll learn the final skill.”

“To transform into a dragon!” Sofia gasps. She trained under Maya in secret for three years, but Maya never brought it up until now.

Maya nods. “But not now.” She says. “Now, we rest and take the sword battles to the next level.”

“You tease!” Sofia scoffs as she lays down for a nap. She wonders if she actually likes Maya, and in more ways than one. It seems she does, a thought she finds amusing before she drifts to sleep. 

The women awaken to a dusk sky an hour later. They build up their Ka, their eyes burning red again, conjuring flaming swords from thin air once more, but more; they project fire from their backs and crowns, transforming it into black wings and horns. The penguins take seats around them to observe the battle. 

Teacher and student clash, throwing each other into the air, and from then onward dance as acrobats or birds, whirling around the landscape as if caught by a hurricane of the passions. They land on the base of the southernmost Andes mountains. Maya picks up the tempo of the exercise to a tarantella and gives Sofia a further challenge. “We’ll also play another game, a bit of a rap battle while we fight. It’s my turn. I clash blades with you, I deliver a line. Next time we cross swords, I come up with another line. Then, you’ll do the same.”

Sofia becomes baffled. “Are you kidding me? That’s the dumbest idea I ever heard.”

“You’ll like it. I promise.” Maya assures her, beaming in good humor. “It’ll teach you to think creatively on your feet. We must get out at least four iambs. Five is ideal. Also, we must rhyme four times – Hey! That works! – And…” She suddenly takes flight. “BEGIN!” The women tangle in the air like squabbling seagulls.

Gotta save the world! We gotta get lit!
But I must babysit a shrinking violet.
What can I do? Sofie doesn’t know shit.
She’s gotta get smacked in a royal battle blitz. 

Poor fool! You’re serious, but really dumb.
Your heart is gold but your feet are lead drums.
Don’t be timid, girl! Seize power! Get drunk!
Face your fears! Unleash the beast! Have some fun!  

Maya slams the wedge beneath Sofia’s ribs with her knee and ruthlessly throws her student to the rugged mountain below. Sofia stretches her palms out and, using her Ka as a shield, crash lands as a fiery meteor into a crater below. Maya lands nearby brandishing her red blade. Sofia swears at her teacher in frustration. “Ven a buscarme, puta!” Maya challenges her. Sofia replies with a fierce lunge, and they take off again, Sofia improvising verses of her own. 

You think you’re smart and chic!? Damn smarmy bitch!
You just got daddy issues! Admit it, witch!
Keep ridiculing people, and you’ll get a stitch
To match your crocodile tears and cheap tricks!

Call me a whore!? You know nothing of love
Or duty to anything above!
You only have your ego! You’re evil!
Like Yifan, an unrepentant devil!

Sofia tackles Maya head on, not caring about the searing cuts from her opponent’s blade. Fueled with fury and unleashing so much wrath she’s almost at the dragon stage, she pile drives Maya deep into a dark cave, getting them both buried in rubble.

Maya laughs in the darkness, her pain mixed with great pleasure. “You’re getting there! You dirty dog! You’re doing it!”

Sofia tightly clutches Maya’s waist. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to.” She would kowtow to Maya’s feet, begging forgiveness if she could. 

Maya gently dissuades her, adding: “Why do you feel sorry for being angry? I gave you a hard time. Your feelings are valid.” This moment takes Maya back to when she was in Egypt, buried under mounds of rubble in a cave. The dark night of the soul is a cliche, but Maya could say her time in Egypt was definitely that moment for her. She had a choice; she could either let herself die in her loss, pity, and confusion, or she could climb out of the mess and try again. She tells Sofia everything of that moment.

Sofia is deeply touched by Maya’s tale. She asks Maya if she can tell her something. When Maya affirms, Sofia says: “I used to be an orphan before I was adopted by Pegasus. – There’s a cliche if there ever was one! – It was more like a homeless shelter than any place a child could live in. I even considered becoming a baby prostitute. Thank God I never made that decision.”

Maya pities Sofia, even if only for a small moment. At least Maya had the choice of being a “soft prostitute” when she was a star duelist, not unlike what actresses and pop stars sometimes do in their careers. Maya never took it but it was a privileged option by comparison. 

“How did you end up in Pegasus’ care?” Maya asks.

Sofia answers, “Pegasus used to adopt orphans, especially if they came from poorer countries., like the Bragelina couple. But he had this Michael Jackson vibe too where he wanted to take sad children to his Neverland to give them a childhood they never had.”

“It’s really touching but also creepy and pathetic.” Maya observes. “I wonder why he refuses to grow up.”

Sofia knows the answer but does not feel like getting into it, so she resumes her story. “Pegasus once visited Kazakhstan, my homeland, presenting a mock Millennium Puzzle. He said that any child who managed to solve it would be adopted. Well, I stole it, naively believing I could sell it for the gold it was worth. Needless to say, it wasn’t. I got really upset but couldn’t think of anything else but to solve the Puzzle over the course of a few weeks. The police eventually found me, put me in jail, and returned the completed Puzzle to Pegasus, but Pegasus was so delighted with my achievement he adopted me. The rest is history.”

Her story causes Maya to ruminate for a long time, lost in thought. She did not fully know Sofias backstory until now. Perhaps, she wonders, she should be more sensitive to such a vulnerable girl. After all, was not Maya kind of like Sofia when she was a teenager? I mean, maybe, but Maya never let herself be vulnerable like Sofia does. She would lash out by being a delinquent instead. And if Sofia lived in luxury for the past decade, why is she still vulnerable now? – And it is just her, or is a flint of rock stuck up her – no, it is Sofia’s elbow. Well, that is compromising.

The women use their powers to lift away the boulders on them and exit the cave. They conjure their wings once more and fly down to the shore, but with no battles. They take each other’s arms and hop their way back in huge leaps and bounds in a little warm down dance.

“You did good today, kid.” Maya says, lifting Sofia’s chin up. 

“I’m not a kid.” Sofia says in return.

“I’m sure you’ll prove it in due time.” Maya gives Sofia a warm hug, which Sofia tries to return but cannot in full confidence in herself.

Sofia cannot help but smirk a bit to herself as she climbs the ocean shuttle to return home. Indeed, she had quite a workout. Before she shuts the hatch, she asks Maya if she can join the fight to capture the next Millennium Item. Maya says yes, which leaves Sofia with a happy heart on her way home.

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 13 – Much Going On

Sofia finds herself in a wide plane, a grassland in the Horn of Africa similar to the one in the Shangri-la several days ago. The midday sun blazes on her tawny skin, covering them with dark sunspots, burning her so much she almost shines like a star herself. She rushes into the mouth of a cave to protect herself as much as she can, though she already aches with sunburn. 

The cave reveals itself to be the mouth of an Egyptian temple, its outside nothing but a ruin but its inside as alive as the day it was built. Yes! She was here before back when she was in Egypt! It’s one of the Abu Simbel temples! She sees pair after pair of stone giants of Ramses II flanking both sides of a seemingly endless hallway. And above, a night sky of stars that look alive. She fears the colossus golems will demand her to solve riddles but they remain quiet, letting her pass without harassing her.

She arrives to the inner sanctum. The four gods: Ramesu, Heru, and Ra-Amun bathed in light and Pitah remaining in darkness, oversee the Shadow Game before them. There, Sofia sees Yifan and Maya sitting across a large circular table, a diorama of the whole Earth. Yifan has several cards out: the high mages, Kaiba, Pegasus, and one card facedown. Maya also wields forces of her own: herself, Yukio, Mathias, Miguella, Hassan, and several generals.      

Maya moves the card depicting herself on a square next a card representing Secmeton, and declares an attack. The duel between the two “monsters” unfolds. The Ba, or bar of hit points, of the Maya card almost reaches zero but the Secmeton card is destroyed by battle, so Yifan places it in the Graveyard. Yifan draws a blank card from her Deck, and uses her mind to conjure an image of Maria! She Summons it near the Kaiba card.

It is Maya’s turn, so she draws a blank card from her Deck and conjures an image of Sofia on it. Then, she places the Sofia card on the edge of the board facedown, as if unsure where it should go. Sofia needs to help Maya while remaining hidden in darkness. She nudges Maya’s elbow, pushing her hand a bit to the tail of South America. Maya takes the hint, so she moves the Sofia card face down to the Strait of Magellan. Then, she does something unexpected; she taps the card with her finger, and starts singing in a falsetto:

And so I wake in the morning
And I step outside
And I take a deep breath and I get real high
And I scream from the top of my lungs
What’s going on? 

And I say, hey yeah yeah, hey yeah yeah
I said hey, what’s going on?

“What was going on?” Sofia thinks to herself after she wakes up. 

Maya did train her how to have lucid dreams and mentioned they would talk to each other through dreams one night. It seemed like Maya lured Sofia to hidden place to ask her for directions – for something. Once Maya got what she needed, she then gave Sofia directions of her own – or so it seemed.

Sofia browses the Internet a bit, not fully awake, unsure of what to do. Surely enough, the death of Secmeton is all over the New York Times, the remaining masters of mankind visibly scared. Enough of this. Sofia gets up, puts on her clothes, and makes her way to the East River. Sofia must have a bad habit of sleeping in because the sun already at its zenith, and she is hungry. Suddenly, a machine appears as if it waited for her the whole time. It looks like a spaceship from centuries in the future but comes out from the water. It opens the hatch, revealing a small seat inside. 

Now Sofia gets it. She texts Jolene, “Going to the gym.”, knowing her friend will get the subtext, and climbs aboard. The hatch closes her inside and creates a computer generated panorama of the underwater world surrounding it. Sofia opens a virtual map and points to the Strait of Magellan. The machine obeys, darting to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, transporting Sofia to her destination within several hours. She opens the hatch, seeing Maya stand with her arms crossed on the rocky wind-blasted shore, as if defying the elements.  

“So how’s your work vacation?” Maya welcomes Sofia; her face makes a jarring change from brooding to jovial in a fraction of a second. 

Sofia steps out to the shore, getting surrounded by a multitude of little penguins as if they are giving her a welcome party. She sees Maya pointing at the penguins and hears her give them names: “Here’s Dan, Wayne, Frank, Eric, Ted, and Darren. And there’s Amy, Megan, Karen, Lisa, and Carrie.”

“Did you just assume their genders?” Sofia jokes.

Maya gives Sofia a warm hug, leading her to the windswept mainland, the penguins following her. It is time to advance Sofia’s training. The first task of the student is to follow the master in doing several stretches and balances. Sofia easily follows Maya’s lead, doing what looks like a few yoga exercises except maybe the balancing is more demanding. 

Sofia begins to feel disappointed, even a little upset. It doesn’t look like Maya is taking her seriously. Then, Maya puts 5 kilogram weights on her arms, legs, neck, and waist. Sofia follows, and the “yoga class” becomes harder. Maya ramps it up to 10 kilogram weights. Sofia, though hardy like her teacher, has a lighter build and less training, making her strain rivers of sweat as she summons the greatest strength her body is capable of doing. Maya also trembles from the extreme strain, like she is also about to break any minute now.

At 20 kilograms, Sofia exceeds her mortal strength and is forced to bring out her Ka, or life force, from deep within her, making her dark brown eyes glow crimson. She looks across to Maya, whose eyes make her less like a human and more like a night predator. Sofia puts all her effort in controlling her Ka, taming the roaring rapids of fiery energy throughout her body, engineering it into a controlled river that flows around in a circle, around, and around, and around. Otherwise, her Ka would erupt like wildfire, burning her body and a kilometer of landmass into smouldering ash. 

Sofia does a handstand with one arm, the penguins pile on top of her, and Maya sits on her feet with all of her weight, making her body, now superhuman begin to strain. “Good.” Maya purrs like a contented tiger. “Now the real training can begin.” 

Sofia blinks. “Excuse me.” She begins to see red from all the blood rushing to her head.

“I will ask you several questions.” Maya says in a very grave tone. “For each one you get wrong, you owe me one bourbon. Sounds good?”

Sofia nods, visibly confused. 

Maya starts the game: “In the red house lives a red man. In the blue house lives a blue man. In the white house lives -”

“A white man.” Sofia blurts out.

“Wrong. The President lives in the white house, who is a black man, you racist. You’re retarded.”

Sofia blinks several times, her eyes bloodshot. “I don’t understand.”

“I want you to think on your feet and see logical holes where you’d otherwise not see them, even under unbearable stress.” Maya explains, though Sofia remains skeptical. “Next question: what is the best way to burn grass in your backyard?”

Sofia wracks her brain for an answer but can’t find one. “A small match to keep it controlled?” She answers, her voice uncertain.  

“Why would you burn perfectly good grass? You smoke it!” Maya scolds her. “And you don’t do it out in the backyard where a cop can see you. That was a major doobie. By Mary Jane’s bush, you’re retarded!”

Sofia frowns in frustration and disgust, too upset to say anything.

“Last question: on what side of the roof does the rooster lay its egg in the morning?”

Ah ha! Sofia knows this one! “Neither! Roosters don’t lay eggs!”

“I was going easy on you.” Maya scoffs. She gives Sofia several more retard tests but Sofia only gets another one right. “You must have been very sheltered growing up under Pegasus.” Maya complains. “If you went to a public school, you’d know half these riddles. I only invented one of them, the one with the weed joke. Don’t worry. You can live a full life despite your disability.”

“Come on!” Sofia shouts through gritted teeth, her resentment building. “I want serious training!”

“Oh, this is very serious.” Maya reassures her. “You can’t just fight. You have to dance in a battle. You must cultivate humor, wit, rhythm, lightness, and music in your martial arts. It is called martial arts for a reason.”

Maya feels Sofia buckle under the strain, folding beneath her like a pretzel. Maya gets off and surveys the tangled mess, wondering how to reassemble her. It’s like Maya needs to build Ikea furniture but lost the directions. “Wayne, stop it!” She shouts at the hooligan penguin as it starts humping Sofia. She kicks the creature away in a fury, cursing at the author. “Very original!”

Maya takes off her weights, then carefully removes the weights from Sofia before putting her back together. Sofia gets up, feeling so light without the weights she can dance on her toes. Maya does dance on her toes and invites Sofia to a boxing match. 

Sofia accepts the challenge, eager to get revenge on Maya for humiliating her. The two fighters flit from one place to the next within the blink of an eye, like how the hummingbird goes about her business among flowers. Sofia lashes out at Maya in every way she knows how, but Maya effortlessly dodges them, while Maya in turn strikes with just enough speed for Sofia to block – most of them. Maya smacks her a few times, though not too hard. The penguins thoroughly enjoy the spectacle.

“Doctors know an easy way to diagnose cancer. If your hand is larger than your face, I have bad news for you.” Maya says. Sofia naively lifts her hand to her face, only for Maya to push Sofia’s face with it. “I do have bad news for you. You’re retarded.”

“I honestly think you’re just trying to bully me.” Sofia complains.

“A little bit.” Maya admits with a twinkle in her eye. “I last dunked a gamer nerd down the toilet when I was eighteen the day after my dad beat me and got drunk. I had to plead the cops to not arrest him that night. Now the gamer nerd complains about feminists all day.”

“Even in a tent city?”

“Especially in a tent city. He knows who I am.” 

Sofia grows impatient. “Can I fight you for real now?”

Maya is overjoyed. She uses her Ka to create a burning sword out of the air. Sofia does the same and lunges at her opponent, glad to finally be taken seriously. The two women begin sparring once more. Maya’s quirky training regimen continues unabated. Still, Sofia is unsure what’s really going on or if Maya is pulling her leg in an elaborate prank.

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 12 – Maritime Marriage Therapy

Husband and wife make their way to the deck, catching the fresh salty breeze of the morning air. Yukio slowly takes a sip of black coffee while Maya rubs her head. “I’m getting too old for this.” She complains, struggling with her hangover.

Yukio prods her with a gentle question. “Maybe we should talk about what happened yesterday.”

Maya gives him an acid smile. “Sure. I was too mean to the old man, a legitimate military target. Yes, he ruined the lives of a billion people and was destroying the planet, but he cried about the whales, so it balances out. Nobody is perfect.”

“You killed his son, an enemy combatant, which is obviously understandable.” Yukio says. “But did you really have to rub it in his face throughout the duel?”

“You’re right.” Maya retorts. “I should spare my enemy’s feelings. I wouldn’t want to demoralize an enemy fighter too much. I need to be gentle, go to therapy with him, mind his delicate mental health, you know, give him a chance to kill me.”

Now Yukio is getting a headache. “It’s not really about that. I fear all these things are symptoms of something else. I’d call it your moral compass or the state of your soul if I was a Christian. I feel like you’re losing you’re normalizing psychopathy and losing your humanity. I wonder if you really care about all the people you’re fighting for.”

Maya does understand what he is saying, feeling the same worries herself, but another part of her thinks holding on to ideal morals will be too brittle for her struggles ahead. And too old. And false. She tries explaining her feelings to Yukio but completely misfires. “There is no point in behaving in a perfectly moral way if the high mages still control the world and drive the planet to destruction. We are at war, so strategy takes precedence. Ideals, and that includes moral ideals, are tools. You need to use them to mobilize an army to win. That is a fact. I wish I could hold fast to moral ideals but I’m too disillusioned. It won’t win a war.”

Yukio does not believe she truly values moral ideals, and so he jumps at her because of his suspicion. “So you believe the ends justify the means?”

It is a gotcha question, and Maya knows it. So she answers it the way she always does, and it is certainly not by evading it. “I do.” She replies, smirking in the most obnoxious way she can.

“Mathias believes the means justify the ends.” Yukio says.

“Mathias is a fool.”

“I believe the same thing he does.”

“You’re an idiot too.”

An awkward silence follows. The sun climbs the horizon throughout the argument. The black ocean turns wine dark, then midnight blue, then a solid dark blue. A comrade spots an island, rousing everyone on board of its presence.

Maya continues, “You don’t need a Millennium Item to predict how things will go down. Heroes are predictable, reactive creatures. Mathias will object to my ‘cruel’ methods because that’s what heroes do. Yugi and Jonouchi won’t show up until the very last moment. In another universe, Yugi will believe in the Heart of the Cards or Atem will give him an eleventh hour superpower to reform me and kill Yifan. But we don’t play by those rules. The heroes will fail.”

“By ‘we’ I assume you mean Yifan and yourself.” Yukio shoots back. “In case you forgot, according to the Millennium Necklace you destroyed, Yifan will win. Where did you predict that in your master plan?”

Maya has no answer.

Yukio continues, “You act like you’re in a grand Shadow Game RPG against Yifan, but you’re not. People are not expendable pawns or NPCs. Hashtag their lives matter.”

Maya becomes indignant. “Yifan thinks our revolution is a game, not me! I need to follow my plan if me or Sofia are to defeat her one day. The only reason she hasn’t pulled a Maleficent and burned the whole planet by now is because she would get bored. As long as I work towards killing her one day, she will think me a worthy opponent and give us odds to keep things interesting. You’ll thank me later when it’s all over and I’m finally dead. Then you’ll be happy.”

“So she is the cat. You’re the mouse.” Yukio says in disgust. “And poor Sofia is… The dog that chases the cat? I don’t know. The analogy is falling apart.”

“We’re more like the Sith Rule of Two.” Maya comments. “Complete with fiery red swords, dark magic powers, an edgy philosophy, and arguably we are necessary as we are evil – in the Nietzschean sense of the course, not the dumb Christian or democratic sense.”

“I really hate you sometimes.” Yukio mutters.

“Then why don’t you divorce me?” Maya challenges him. “Our marriage is only a week old. Cut ties with me while it’s thin. It’s not Britney-Jason marriage short, but it would give the rest of Hollywood a run for its money.”

Yukio spills out more of what is on his mind. “You know what really hurts me?” He pauses to properly form his ideas. “I’m assuming you know the Becky and Stacy memes. Becky is the bookish, introverted, artsy girl, somewhat pretty but unkempt and not too attractive. Stacey is the alpha bitch, with high heels, fake tan, fake hair, fake tits, immensely popular, extroverted, has men waiting on her every move.”

“Of course I know who Becky and Stacey are. What’s your point?”

“When I first met you, I saw this intelligent girl who had an artist’s sensitivity and talent but who was also brilliant and fun. I cannot conceive of that girl doing the things you do now. I thought you were a real Becky, like my ex Jolene, but now I think you were a Stacey trapped in a Becky the whole time.”

Maya laughs ruefully, almost with scorn. “Sweetheart, Becky and Stacey are a false dichotomy; they don’t exist. You act like you’re still in high school. Grow up. You fell in love with me when I was being a so-called ‘Stacey’, not ‘Becky’. We entered a relationship when we were in Egypt, when I did many ruthless, violent things. We got down last night after I killed an old man in a card game. You consider yourself a feminist, don’t you?”

Yukio nods.

Maya says, “You like a strong, independent woman, but your idea of her is a ‘hipster girl’ or a ‘spooky girl’. Spouting progressive talking points and threatening to hex someone are cute, but there is nothing striking or unique about it. When you see an actual strong woman, like me or Yifan, you reel back in disgust, even though it’s what you really want. You probably see Yifan as bourgois, conventional, and arrogant, and me as a ‘Stacey’, even though we are none of these things. Again, grow up.”

“You kill scores of people every weekend.” Yukio counterattacks with indignation. “Spreading war, violence, disaster, insurrection, chaos, disease, and death are your job. You are not a woman! You are a beast! And Yifan – what you’re – say!” He needs to take a moment to properly speak again. “She is a vile snake who likes playing with her food before she eats it, at best! At worst, she takes nothing seriously, because it’s all a bad joke to her! Don’t talk to me about how nuanced Yifan really is when she is the source of evil tearing this world apart!”

Maya finishes her coffee. “Not like you can count on a man to do a monster’s job anyway.”

Yukio tries to crack Maya’s armor, a task he imagines to be as difficult as mounting a hedgehog. “I’m not in the mood to spar with words. I’m being very serious right now. I’m worried about what you have done and what you are becoming. How can you fight for the rights and well-being of Earth’s poorest against the one percent when you act as callously and flippantly as the world’s richest CEOs? I don’t want to lose the woman I fell in love with.”

Maya clasps Yukio’s hands, her face almost penitent in its expression. “And here is my serious response. I would normally say it’s all just an act: to be as cavalier and bold as possible to put fire in the hearts of people. That is indeed true, but there is more to it. I don’t think I can live by the values we have anymore. It’s not enough if I am to somehow transcend to new heights as a musician, as a duelist, as a ‘beast’: in short, as a ‘creative being’, if you could call me that. Yifan, evil as she is, has a point in her worldview. You can’t be too righteous these days. You’ll lose either your sanity or your ability to truly understand this world.”

“So it’s all about you and your creative power?” Yukio asks.

“Yes, mine and Sofia’s.” Maya confirms. “It always has been.”

While Yukio deeply disagrees with Maya’s priorities, he does respect her on some level. He gently puts his hands on Maya’s cheeks. “You straddle a very thin line between light and darkness. It’s like you are walking a tightrope. Promise me you won’t lose yourself and fall.”

Maya kisses her husband’s hands. “I promise.”

The island becomes close enough for a man to swim to it. Maya strips naked and jumps in the water, ridding herself of yesterday’s sewer grime. Yukio throws everything in the air. He strips naked and followers her. A comrade, the one who spotted the island earlier, scratches his head but doesn’t care enough to think about it any further.

Everyone arrives to the shore, setting up a small camp, then search the jungle for some fruit and other provisions. Maya and Yukio get new clothes and spend the morning fishing, yielding enough food for themselves and a few of the hungriest people. Yukio and several comrades return to the computers in the boat, resetting the special incognito network they used to communicate with each other before. So far, nothing.

Maya thinks it appropriate to create a memorial for all the soldiers who died in battle. She conceives an idea and leads her comrades in carrying many rocks, big and small, from around the shore to set up an artwork. Midday passes to night. Yukio leaves the boat to see a large mound, the sharp rocks making it look like a mountain with jagged peaks. Everyone puts a small object dear to them, even if it is but a trinket, at the top of the mound, each one representing the fallen comrades.

Maya ignites one of the torches on the mound, which spreads through the grass and all the other torches, transforming the memorial into a blazing mountain. Touched by such a creative act, Yukio clasps Maya’s hand and invents poetry off the top of his head:

Men who drowned in the wat’ry deep,
Now soar upwards t’wards the sky.
We stop our climb and fall asleep.
Tomorrow we soar on high.

The rebel band spontaneously match the words with music, creating a song. While it is not amazing, even corny, it is heartfelt. Everyone sings and sways in unison, not unlike the orchestra, that great symbol of a democratic community as Maya thinks it, voices and flames climbing to the many stars above. Most comrades see the full night sky and the Milky Way for the very first time. Maya feels like she can somehow be drawn towards the stars just by staring at them long enough and letting go. This gives her an idea just as everyone goes to bed.

Yukio wakes up the next day, groping at the empty space by his side, expecting Maya to be there. Just when he thought he could trust Maya, when he could give his heart to her, she burns it! He sees many pebbles carefully arranged on the sand, a long chain of numbers that he presumes are geographic coordinates. Maya must have given him the location of the rendezvous point for the rebel fleets.

Wait, but how? Yukio is left scratching his head.

But there is more. He sees letters forming a puzzling sentence: The sky is the limit.

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.

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

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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.

Yugioh Endgame – Duel 22: Dark Clouds in the Sky, Christmas in July

Skipping while I tweet.
Anakin hates sand.
No snow on the street.
Start a cool rock band.

Not a single sound.
New York is real bright.
Eerie all around.
Gentrified and tight.

Blah blah blah! Blah blah blah!
How does this song go?

I’ve heard it all day and night.
On the radio.

Sofia sings in cheerful tone, making up the words as she goes along. This causes Jolene to giggle, confused but entertained anyway. “Sofia, it’s July. It’s not Christmas.”

“Yes it is, over…” Sofia pauses. It is Christmas at the time this chapter is posted, but the sun right now scorches the world Sofia lives in. She trails away, “Over there…”

Sofia feels a small itching resentment towards Jolene for ruining her small moment of fun, wanting nothing more than to forget her humiliation at the Ghouls for kidnapping her and dispatching her in a duel. Worse, she now as to work with those same people. 

Speaking of work, they have to see the high mage Martis himself at the Freedom Tower. The two women report to his office shortly thereafter. Jolene, the artist of the two, notices how Martis’s office is cluttered with modernist furniture, the extreme contrasts in color and design hurting her sensitive eyes. Sofia, the awakening apprentice, smells a certain anxiousness from the high mage, something suggesting a hollow heart trying in vain to fill itself.

“You girls are late.” He sternly rebukes them. “Your computing skills are needed more than ever to protect us yet you go to Starbucks or Sephora or wherever. We’re taking my jet. Mr. Kaiba is setting a plan in motion.”

Jolene gets triggered from such comments but knows better than to argue with Martis about misogynistic stereotypes. Sofia appreciates the remarks. The more her enemies think her frivolous the better she can subvert them. Martis summons his bodyguards to escort them to the jet and soon everyone is thousands of feet in the air.

“We used to have a rock band.” Jolene recalls. “Yukio made it up and we would sometimes play in a bar to raise money, way back when were just Team Dark Duelists. The band had a bad name, but Yukio was always thinking of changing it.”

“What was it called?” Sofia asks with respectful curiosity. 

“Blood Velvet.”

“Yeah, it does need to be changed.”

So Jolene and Sofia spent the time coming up with a better band name, something dark, something edgy, something mystical, a counterculture icon. Magic Spiral? No, too bland. How about Mystick Spiral? – With a “c” and “k”! – No, they’ll get sued. Why not Blood Spiral? Enough with the spirals already! Dizzy Lizzy? Jolene claims Sofia’s suggestion as a stage name but gives it back to her. Sofia has the dark looks to pull off the “Lizard King satire” better. Strange Plays? Not striking enough, and not everyone is nostalgic over 90s video games anyway.

Jolene and Sofia never settle on a new band name. Before they know it, they are off in a helicopter to a rocky island shore. They see a pole in the distance so tall it went past the sky. Later they recognize it to be a sky elevator. No way! It is the KaibaCorp space station!

Martis escorts Jolene and Sofia once they land to meet Kaiba himself at the base of the elevator. The greetings are civil but short. The four of them enter the elevator and skyrocket past the sky of the earth. The pearl blue earth, the black horizon of outer space, and the sun’s unfiltered white rays cutting through the line separating both are a breathtaking view. Jolene and Sofia would have appreciated the grand sight a lot more if the g-force of the elevator did not make them feel like their bowels were being squeezed out of their bodies.

Everyone reaches the space station on top where Kaiba leads them to a computing room with a projection of the entire world on display. Kaiba points to the many nodes placed on each major city. “KaibaCorp uses a Crystal Cloud network, which not only gives someone the chance to duel anyone else on earth but also keeps track of each duelist at all times. A duel disk not only uploads data from a duel to the KaibaCorp main computer it also recognizes different users. No duelist can hide their location from me or suppress their permanent record.”

Now Sofia understands why the Ghouls still wear masks and cloaks. It is not just a tradition from back when Malik was their leader, it keeps them anonymous.

It is like Kaiba reads Sofia’s mind for he continues. “Still, a conniving dog like the terrorists we deal with can hide in other ways. He can hide his appearance to create an alter ego. He can reconnect his duel disk to an outside network, an underground Internet. Switching duel disks at regular intervals does not work if he is connected to the Crystal Cloud, but it can work if he is connected to a separate network instead.”

Sofia notices how all the nodes link not only to each other but gather to a point above the earth. “Why is there an extra point?” Sofia ventures.

Kaiba ignores the question, an action that tells Sofia all she needs to know. “Jolene, Sofia, you are the best programmers and hackers I know.” He says. “Your job is to help me find the terrorists’ underground network, their ‘Dark Cloud.’ This is not a request but an order from your employer. You two will stay with me in the space station until I decide to leave. You will have vital information and therefore cannot leave the station under any circumstances.”

But Kaiba is not heartless. He summons Mokuba to show the two women how the good services he will provide the two women to somewhat compensate for conscripting them into a new job. Such services include gaming centers, a library, a gym, and a luxury bedroom, a place they would live together in more comfort than if they stayed on the ground. 

Sofa thinks back to when she had a sparring session with Maya on the southernmost coast of South America. She told Jolene she went to the gym for the whole day, a lie that kind of made sense since Maya used a spaceship-submarine-thing to quickly whisk Sofia from one side of the globe to the other. “What if Kaiba somehow knows, and now he is hinting at me that I cannot make any more lies?” Sofia asks to herself in worry.

She calms herself down, knowing that worrying is useless. It is very unlikely Kaiba knows anything. Even if he did, how could he prove it? He needs Sofia. Her worry reveals her fear, not reality. An idea suddenly strikes her while she is in this train of thought. Glad to focus on something, she nearly voices an opinion but cuts herself short. 

Kaiba glances at her. “You have something to say? Speak.”

Jolene gently nudges Sofia, a reminder to be careful with her words. Sofia nods, then speaks. “You run a corporation that can completely destroy everyone’s privacy since the Crystal Cloud links to the entire Internet. Through that Internet, KaibaCorp has control of every satellite with nuclear warheads on earth.” 

Jolene knows what Sofia is implying, and she quickly shakes her head in an attempt to dissuade her friend from being too outspoken. Sofia ignores the warning, determined to speak the truth but in a tactful way. “I have the feeling you want to leave your stepfather Gozaburo’s legacy behind, hence why you completely revamped KaibaCorp from manufacturing weapons to manufacturing gaming machines. Yet looking at all the power you have, all the weapons you indirectly own, I believe Gozaburo would be happy if he had your position.”  

Kaiba raises his finger, about to say something, but does not make a sound. He broods over the issue instead. It was an idea he worried over for a long time but no one brought it up. Now someone put his thoughts, which used to exist only in his head, out in the open. A murky impression became a clear statement. He replies, “A fair criticism.”

Kaiba ponders another issue. He sits down on a chair and swivels it to face Sofia. “I have an extra task for you. Once we find the ‘Dark Cloud’ I want you to infiltrate the terrorists. You used to be on Maya’s team in the 13th World Championship, meaning you have a special relationship with her. You are to make contact with her again, befriend her, and bring her to me. I will dispatch her in a duel for the world to see before imprisoning her.”

Sofia finishes his thoughts, “You want to humiliate her before the world to prove her wrong and deter anyone from following her path. Locking her away will cut off the snake’s head.” Sofia’s new role as a double mole is too big to sink in yet.

“Hmm.” Kaiba murmurs as he strokes his chin. “Sofia, do you sympathize with Maya’s cause in any way? You can be honest with me.”

Sofia replies, “I don’t know how to feel about it. Most of the world is suffering under poverty and oppression, so rebel terrorists killing the high mages makes sense. Still, Maya seems like the kind of person who’s more interested in revenge or shits and giggles than fighting for a cause.”

“I see.” Kaiba then starts typing into a computer. “Enough chatting. Your work starts immediately.”

Jolene and Sofia set to work immediately, with Mokuba giving them drinks every once in a while. Sofia’s new position as a double mole now fully sinks in. Now what is she gonna do?