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

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

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

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

3x Raigeki

2x Widespread Ruin

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

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

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

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

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

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

3x Raigeki
3x Yami

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

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

A New Kind of Piano

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brony Friendzone Reviews Solo: A Star Wars Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Darius Reilly the Nerd Rage Ranter

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The Untimely Meditations – Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melancholia – Review

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

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

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

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

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

The Works of Donatien Sade – Belated Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brony Friendzone Reviews Marvel: Infinity War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Darius Reilly, Nerd Rage Ranter

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The Birth of Tragedy – Nietzsche Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brony Friendzone Goes To a Feminist Conference

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

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

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

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

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

Star Wars the Last Jedi – Belated Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chomsky Critiques the News Part 2: America Bombs Laos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Laos villagers told Branfman horror stories of the American bombings. One refugee said: “ There wasn’t a night when we thought we’d live until morning, never a morning we thought we’d sur­vive until night. Did our children cry? Oh, yes, and we did also. I just stayed in my cave. I didn’t see the sunlight for two years. What did I think about? Oh, I used to repeat, ‘Please don’t let the planes come, please don’t let the planes come, please don’t let the planes come.’ … The past has pelted away. Our lives have passed like a dream. There is nothing which can make up for the sorrow.”

The same nurse of 26 years later wrote: “We who were young took our sweat and our strength, which should have been spent raising food in the rice fields and forests to sustain our lives, and squandered it digging holes to protect ourselves. For many days and nights, having enough food to survive on became a gigantic problem, which pressed upon our hearts. The fields, paddy and seedbeds all became bomb craters. All that remained for our people were sad faces, and tired and weak hearts, disgusted with hating the war, which was like a large stone weighing upon us. We could not understand or imagine why something like this could happen.”

Meanwhile, the same farmer of 39 years could not understand why America would treat his people so horribly: “In all our years, we had known no more than the word “airplane.” We were all heavy hearted and mournful almost to the point of losing our minds. The other villagers and I got together to consider this thing. We hadn’t done anything, nor harmed anyone. We had raised our crops, celebrated the festivals and maintained our homes for many years. Why did the planes drop bombs on us, impoverishing us this way?”

A Laos woman of 30 years pleads: “Why then don’t we people love one another? Why don’t we live together in equality? Why don’t we build happiness and progress together? In reality, whatever happens, it is only the innocent who suffers. And as for the others, do they know all the unimaginable things happening in this war? Do they?” [11]

– A few critiques, if I may. I get suspicious when I read something that looks like an ideal account of poor people, like the Laos describing their village life before the bombings. It sounds too much like the noble savage cliché, which touches the heart of a simple person but makes the cynic untrusting. Chomsky, in his book, misattributes the quote of the refugee as a quote of the nurse, at least going by my source [12].

While the plea of the Laos woman of 30 years does sound like the liberal cliché “Why can’t we all live together?”, the woman does raise pressing questions. Why are we so hostile to people who look slightly different than us. Why do we swindle, plunder, and destroy other people to build empires, only to feel profoundly unhappy and helpless, when we could live a better life? Why do we have coercive and abusive relationships as the norm when we could have positive and genuine connections with each other, and live as complete human beings? These are deep questions; people wrote volumes addressing them, so I certainly cannot answer them in a small article. –

Branfman gives another striking personal account of Laos when Chomsky himself visited the country to report on the American bombings. Chomsky quickly befriended Paw Thou Douang and his family, as Branfman did, and had dinner together. Branfman describes Chomsky as listening in earnest, with his heart as well as his ears, while Paw Thou tells the story of the lives of the villagers before, during, and after the American bombings. Chomsky wept upon hearing the story.

This shocked me almost as much as it shocked Branfman himself, and Branfman goes into more detail. He describes how journalists from the New York Times would visit the Laos, interview them for a while, then leave with the scoop to write an article that, like the Fuller article I cited above, would mildly provoke the reader but little beyond that. I cannot help but contrast the warm and earnest Laos village elder with the sophisticated and cynical journalist from the New York Times. The two people reveal the stark differences between the rustic and civilized human, between the untamed and domestic animal. Chomsky, in an unconscious way, built a bridge we can cross to meet our past on the other side [13].

Again, I suspect Branfman makes an ideal of the Laos people, but I do think he gets the basic truth right, that the Laos villagers have something we do not because we somehow lost it.

In the next article, I will cover the Obama doctrine of 2017, including his foreign policy and how it relates to the Vietnam War. As I said before, the Vietnam War is protracted, but is itself the protracted Korean War war before it, which is a protracted war before it, which is a protracted war before it…

Works Cited:

1. Fuller, Thomas. “One Woman’s Mission to Free Laos From Millions of Unexploded Bombs.”The New York Times, 5 Apr. 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/06/world/asia/laos-campaign-to-clear-millions of unexploded-bombs.html.

2. Labott, Elise. “Obama Announces $90 Million to Clear Laos’ Unexploded Bombs.” CNN, Cable News Network, 6 Sept. 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/06/asia/laos-obama-aid-package/index.html.

3. Chomsky, Noam. Who Rules the World? Penguin, 2017. pg. 215

4. Branfman, Fred. Voices From the Plain of Jars: Life Under an Air War. University of Wisconsin Press, 2013. pg. 36

5. Kurlantzick, Joshua. A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA. Simon & Schuster, 2018. pgs. 178 – 180

6. “Voices from the Plain of Jars: Life Under an Air War.” Zinn Education Project, zinnedproject.org/materials/voices-from-the-plain-of-jars/.

7. “Pentagon Papers.” National Archives and Records Administration, http://www.archives.gov/research/pentagon-papers.

8. Beecher, William. “Raids in Cambodia by U.S. Unprotested.” 9 May 1969. https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu//IMG/Beecherstory.pdf

9. Legacies of War. “Secret War in Laos.” Legacies of War, 2018,

legaciesofwar.org/about-laos/secret-war-laos/.

10. Vongvirath, Manininh. “Casualties & Survivors.” Legacies of War, 2018, legaciesofwar.org/news-room/casualties-survivors/.

11. “Voices from the Plain of Jars: Life Under an Air War.” Zinn Education Project, zinnedproject.org/materials/voices-from-the-plain-of-jars/.

12. Chomsky, Noam. Who Rules the World? Penguin, 2017. pg. 214

13. Branfman, Fred. “When Chomsky Wept.” Salon, Salon.com, 15 June 2012, http://www.salon.com/2012/06/17/when_chomsky_wept/.

Chomsky Critiques the News Part One: “A Rape On Campus”

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I feel like going down a rabbit hole whenever I write a news story. Hence why I’m reluctant writing anything that could be called journalism, because most journalists these days must research the Internet to find credible sources, and doing so is like getting lost in a labyrinth; an honest skeptical writer easily gets overwhelmed by all the information online.

I sometimes play a game where I follow online sources as far as I can, to see how far I can dig down in the mine before I hit the bottom. For instance, while doing research on The Rolling Stone’s article, “A Rape On Campus”, I hit a pit of PDFs of legal documents or get lost in a zone with nothing do with The Rolling Stone. You should try it sometime; sail into the sea and watch where the flighty winds take you.

For example, I begin with the Columbia Journalism Review article on the Rolling Stones[1], then follow a link to a source from the Huffington Post describing one of the high profile rape cases of the year 2013[2], then follow the link to Yale University’s Report of Complaints of Sexual Misconduct[3], then follow the link in the report to a Yale webpage storing all reports to the present day[4], which leads me back to Yale’s 2013 report. I reach a dead end.

Another example; I follow another link in the Huffington Post article, leading to an article about Yale facing a $165,000 Clery Act Fine[5] – I admit seeing Huffington Post site itself as a source gives me some suspicion and contempt, since right wing websites cite themselves and each other all the time to deceive gullible readers. – I follow a link to a Cornell Law School webpage describing a section of the Clery Act[6]. I have strayed far from Rolling Stones by this point, leaving the drug-addled hipsters in the basement to meet the poor unpaid interns in the office learning the fine arts of diffidence, greed, and trickery.

So why did I lure you into a wild mole chase for sources for a rape case four years old, and not cut to the chase, as a so-called good journalist should? Because I want to show you an important truth, that our knowledge of the world is unreal, that falling into error of bias or the snares of a propagandist i too easy, that we have no right in our so-called Information Age to hold confidence in our grasp of the truth. We must, instead, hold a severe suspicion to all the powers of the world, including the stories we tell our friends or write about in news articles, because no matter how you spin it, we are always taking someone’s word for it.

Enter Noam Chomsky, a scholar and activist who earned his fame rebuking our country’s fine statesmen for their commitment to justice, such as in his book Who Rules the World. While Chomsky spends most of his time describing our ceaseless wars against the poor at home and against the poor overseas, he devotes one chapter to critique The New York Times for one little day; April 6, 2015. He mentions an article from the Columbia Journalism Review critiquing the flawed Rolling Stones report on the campus rape of a student named Jackie in the University of Virginia in 2014, which also condemns our press for invention, plagiarism, and lack of skepticism[7].

Chomsky quickly moves on to discuss the New York Times articles regarding our imperial wars in Laos, Cuba, and Iran, subjects closer to him, to show more examples of invention and lack of skepticism in the press. I will devote this article to the Rolling Stones to show how an example of how journalists fail us in researching a rape case before showing how journalists fail us in reporting our grand global wars.

A boiler plate summary of the events to jog our memories; a student under the false name “Jackie” confesses to the journalist Sabrina Erdely the story of her rape, which occurred in a Phi Kappa Psi frat party hosted by a third year lifeguard named “Drew” on September 2012. Erdely sincerely cared for Jackie and published her article on The Rolling Stone called “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA”, but her story fell apart when police could not find more evidence for the case. Sean Woods, principal editor of the story, retracted the article[8].

What went wrong? Let us discuss the errors of Erdely and The Rolling Stones in a list fitting for BuzzFeed.

1. Erdely let her convictions cloud her judgment when researching Jackie’s rape case. As the Columbia Journalism Review states, men often rape women on campus, citing high-profile cases from Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Vanderbilt, and Florida. Erdely, rightly moved by compassion at the plight of those young women, rightly indignant at such injustice, vowed to report a compelling rape case, one that revealed “what it’s like to be on campus now… where not only is rape so prevalent but also that there’s this pervasive culture of sexual harassment/rape culture”[9]

History professor KC Johnson in Minding the Campus, who obtained a full recording of Erdely’s interview with Jackie[10] and cropped select moments to make his case[11], claimed Erdely and Jackie both held rigid beliefs; both despised fraternities, Erdely saying campus groups value so-called social capital more than the students’ safety[12] and Jackie wishing to punish fraternities for being chauvinist in general[13]. Erdely did hold righteous anger but she also held deep prejudice against people she judged abusive to women.

2. Erdely used only one source, her interview with Jackie, and did not bother sniffing around campus for more evidence, especially from people without bias. To Erdely, Jackie had “a stamp of credibility”, telling her everything she wanted to hear, so she took Jackie’s word for it. Without much surprise, she ran into many problems. For one, neither Erdely nor Rolling Stone could contact “Drew” to confirm if he even existed, and Erdely disparaged Jackie’s friends and Dean Nicole Eramo, which required her to present strong sources to prove her charges; otherwise it would be slander, which is what Erdely did in effect[14].

Neither did the police around campus find any evidence to support Erdely’s story. Haven Mohan, the first man Jackie claims to have raped her, never existed. Phi Kappa Psi never held a frat party the night of the rape. There was no evidence Jackie was assaulted by four men after she was raped. Jackie claimed the frat members assaulted two other women, which never happened. Lastly, Jackie did not help verify any details to the police.[15].

Erdely made an official apology on April 5, 2015, after Jackie’s rape case was refuted, confessing: “I did not go far enough to verify her story. I allowed my concern for Jackie’s well-being, my fear of re-traumatizing her, and my confidence in her credibility to take the place of more questioning and more facts. These are mistakes I will not make again.”[16]

I will not condemn Erdely too much, as rape cases are extremely difficult, by nature, to bring to justice. It is very hard for police and detectives to gather evidence; a woman who was raped must willingly undergo a second invasion of her person soon after the first offence made against her to collect evidence in a rape kit; women delay in pressing charges for years, if they press charges at all, as they fear the community will strike back at them, especially men; and traumas such as rape, by their nature, afflict a person’s memory of the event.

Still, a journalist can approach a rape victim in an adroit manner. Kristen Lombardi, the staff writer for Sexual Assault on Campus, for example, makes it clear to any victim who wishes an interview that she must collect evidence, obtain documents, and interview the accused person; yet she also allows victims the power to determine the time and place of the interview, giving them the room to speak when and where they feel comfortable[17].

You, if you are a tender reader, may find Lombardi cruel and unyielding for setting herself such strict boundaries when researching a rape victim’s case, but researching a case in such slapdash manner, as Erdely did, would be truly cruel, as it will ensure the rape victim the crime committed against her will never be brought to justice and make men more hostile to any woman who wishes to press charges in the future. Doing shoddy research in the name of justice only hurts the people who need justice the most.

Next article, I will cover Chomsky’s critique of the New York Times article about the American bombing of Laos during the Vietnam War, and how he sniffs out the propaganda America created about the war to justify it to her people.

[1] Coronel, Sheila, et al. “Rolling Stone’s Investigation: ‘A Failure That Was Avoidable.’” Columbia Journalism Review, 5 Apr. 2015, http://www.cjr.org/investigation/rolling_stone_investigation.php.

[2] Kingkade, Tyler. “Yale Fails To Expel Students Guilty Of Sexual Assault.” Huffington Post, 1 Aug. 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/01/yale-sexual-assault-punishment_n_3690100.html.

[3] Spangler, Stephanie S. “Yale University Report of Complaints of Sexual Misconduct Brought Forward from January 1, 2013 through June 30, 2013.” 31 July 2013, big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/FINAL_Jul2013.pdf.

[4] “Reports: Complaints of Sexual Misconduct.” Reports | Office of the Provost, Yale University, provost.yale.edu/title-ix/reports.

[5] Kingkade, Tyler. Yale Faces $165,000 Clery Act Fine For Failing To Report Sex Offenses On Campus. Huffington Post, 15 May 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/15/yale-clery-act_n_3280195.html.

[6] “20 U.S. Code § 1092 – Institutional and Financial Assistance Information for Students.” LII / Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School, http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/20/1092.

[7] “One Day in the Life of a Reader of the New York Times.” Who Rules the World?, by Noam Chomsky, Peguin, 2017, p. 213.

[8] Coronel, Sheila, et al. “Rolling Stone’s Investigation: ‘A Failure That Was Avoidable.’” Columbia Journalism Review, 5 Apr. 2015, http://www.cjr.org/investigation/rolling_stone_investigation.php.

[9] Coronel, Sheila, et al. Rolling Stone & UVA: Columbia School of Journalism’s Report. Rolling Stone, 5 Apr. 2015, http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/a-rape-on-campus-what-went-wrong-20150405.

[10] Box, clarelocke.app.box.com/s/gr2awhxzywjard0fmjzi4jlgs9q2p2ub.

[11] Johnson, KC. “Erdely-Jackie Conversations.” Academic Wonderland, 24 Oct. 2016, academicwonderland.com/2016/10/24/erdely-jackie-conversations/.

[12] Schow, Ashe, and Ryan M. Kelly. “4 Things We’ve Learned about a Rolling Stone Author’s Rape Bias.” Washington Examiner, 24 Oct. 2016, http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/4-things-weve-learned-about-a-rolling-stone-authors-rape-bias/article/2605396.

[13] Johnson, KC. “THE ‘JACKIE’ INTERVIEW IN THE UVA FAKE RAPE.” Minding The Campus, 25 Oct. 2016, http://www.mindingthecampus.org/2016/10/the-jackie-interview-in-the-uva-fake-rape/.

[14] Coronel, Sheila, et al. “Rolling Stone’s Investigation: ‘A Failure That Was Avoidable.’” Columbia Journalism Review, 5 Apr. 2015, http://www.cjr.org/investigation/rolling_stone_investigation.php.

[15] “Cops Shoot Holes in Rolling Stone’s UVa Rape Story.” The Daily Beast, The Daily Beast Company, 23 Mar. 2015, http://www.thedailybeast.com/cops-shoot-holes-in-rolling-stones-uva-rape-story?ref=scroll.

[16] Sabrina Rubin Erdely, Writer of Rolling Stone Rape Article, Issues Statement. The New York Times, 5 Apr. 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/06/business/media/statement-from-writer-of-rolling-stone-rape-article-sabrina-erdely.html.

[17] Coronel, Sheila, et al. “Rolling Stone’s Investigation: ‘A Failure That Was Avoidable.’” Columbia Journalism Review, 5 Apr. 2015, http://www.cjr.org/investigation/rolling_stone_investigation.php.

 

My Best Yugioh The Duelists of the Roses Decks *REVISED*

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I created all decks (except the Exodia One) to be under the 757 deck cost. Not only am I able to play against every character in the game, I get a good challenge too. It’s amazing how limits can make you stronger. Still, I wish the game had a free duel option where you could duel anyone regardless of deck cost, where you could rack up XP but get no graveyard slot cards.

Power Plant Deck:
Queen of Autumn Leaves
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3x Laughing Flower
2x Nekogal #1
2x Arlownay
2x Gorgon Egg
3x Green Phantom King
3x Dark Plant
3x Magician of Faith

3x Forest
3x Tremendous Fire
3x Rain of Mercy

3x Vile Germs
2x Electro-Whip
2x Cyber Shield

3x Mesmeric Control
3x Tears of the Mermaid

 The basic strategy is play lots of Queen of Autumn Leaves and power up with all my equip cards, Green Phantom King, Rain of Mercy, and Forest. Yet each low level monster I use has a purpose outside of fusion material. Nekogal #1 and Arlownay (with an equip) can be strong monsters in crush terrain. Gorgon Egg, being a fiend, can fuse with a plant monster to make Rose Specter of Dunn, because you can’t only make Queen of Autumn Leaves all the time and it has a little more raw strength. Dark Plant can make crush terrain when it is destroyed, killing your opponent’s strong monster.

I also use a burn tech-in to avoid getting frustrated when facing against Grandpa and Pegasus, opponents who gain a huge advantage protected within a citadel, and it easily helps you defeat any opponent. I used to run one copy of Earthshaker, which was fine but I discovered a better option. Mesmeric Control and Tear of the Mermaid decrease the power of your opponent’s monster, letting you attack them with your powered up monster for massive damage.

I have created a Queen of Autumn Leaves and a Rose Specter of Dunn with more than 4500 ATK every so often, which is no mean feat for a deck with such a low deck cost.

Pumpkin Patch Deck:
Pumpking the King of Ghosts
733

3x Dragon Zombie
3x Shadow Ghoul
3x Armored Zombie
3x Mammoth Graveyard
3x Fiend’s Hand

2x Rainbow Flower
2x Griggle
3x Dark Plant
3x Magician of Faith

3x Yami
3x Tremendous Fire

3x Violet Crystal

3x Mesmeric Control
3x Tears of the Mermaid

This deck follows a similar principle to the Power Plant Deck, fusing low level monsters and using power ups, making titan monsters with such low means. But I must play a little more slowly to set up one or two Pumpkings around the center of the board, then I can bring out zombie attackers that get powered up each turn. Yami and Violet Crystal make things a bit easier by giving my zombies an ATK boost.

Each low level monster has a purpose outside of fusion fodder. Dragon Zombie and Armored Zombie have high ATK for weak monsters. Mammoth Graveyard fuses with a zombie monster to create the powerful Great Mammoth of Goldfine. Fiend’s Hand and Dark Plant destroy the monsters that kill them. Even the lowly Griggle and Rainbow Flower work decently in crush terrain, especially when you fuse them with Fiend’s Hand. Magician of Faith can also fuse with Fiend’s Hand to make Magicial Ghost, a strong monster for crush terrain.

Shadow Ghoul is the most useful high level monster, able to sneak in labyrinth terrain. Mesmeric Control and Tears of the Mermaid serve the same aggressive purpose as the Power Plant Deck; a strong offense is the best defense after all, while Tremendous Fire serves the save burn tech-in.

Graveyard Revenge Deck:
Swordstalker
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3x Swordstalker
2x Wicked Dragon with the Ersatz Head
2x Petit Dragon
3x Curtain of the Dark Ones
3x Time Wizard
3x Ancient Jar
3x Magician of Faith
3x Kuriboh
3x Dancing Elf
3x Dark Plant
3x Swordsman from a Foreign Land

3x Tremendous Fire
3x Ookazi

3x Shadow Spell

This deck is somewhat different. It focuses on using your monsters as fodder for Swordstalker, which gains ATK from monsters in your graveyard. You can make the best fodder by fusing your lowly monsters – some of the lowest in the entire game – many times to make powerful fusions, the strongest being Thousand Dragon with 2400 ATK, Mystical Sand with 2100 ATK, Stone Dragon with 2000 ATK, Rose Specter of Dunn with 2000 ATK, and Dark Elf with 2000 ATK.

All these monsters can curb stomp most of the forces your opponent brings against you, especially in wasteland terrain, which many maps have. Plus, the more fusions you make, the more extra monsters you add to the graveyard. I often make 4 combo fusions, and even 5 combo fusions at times, letting me add a max of 10 monsters (after the final fusion monster gets killed off in battle).

In addition, I can make lower level fusions that are still strong in crush terrain, the best being Bean Soldier with 1400 ATK, Celtic Guardian with 1400 ATK, Minomushi Warrior with 1300 ATK, and Dragoness the Wicked Knight with 1200 ATK.

But my weak monsters have other uses. Dark Plant and Swordsman from a Foreign Land avenge their deaths against the monsters that kills them; Kuriboh takes no battle damage, letting you use him to poke around your opponent’s field a bit; Magician of Faith aids with the burn tech-in, as always.

Shadow Spell is a little stronger than my usual traps, but I need a more powerful dose since my monsters don’t get any benefits from equip spells.

Low Burn Deck:
Tactical Warrior
741

3x Magician of Faith

3x Graverobber
3x Tremendous Fire
3x Ookasi
3x Final Flame
3x Red Medicine
3x Magic Neutralizing Force Field
3x Dimensionhole
3x Paralyzing Potion
3x Cursebreaker
1x Dark-Piercing Light

3x Mesmeric Control
3x Tears of the Mermaid
3x Infinite Dismissal

This deck is more a curiosity than a serious deck. The whole deck is made of burn spells and the cards that let me use them more than once. Everything else is partly fodder for me to discard as I speed through the deck to find my burn spells, yet they all have a use of their own, because I really don’t like putting useless cards like Fake Traps and ritual spells.

Red Medicine lets me heal a bit. Paralyzing Potion and my traps buy me some time by spellbinding the opponent’s monsters. Cursebreaker and Magic Neutralizing Force Field takes away any power up my opponent uses. Dimensionhole lets my deck master flee to a safer place.

Burn Exodia Deck:
Exodia the Forbidden One
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1x Left Arm of the Forbidden One
1x Left Leg of the Forbidden One
1x Right Arm of the Forbidden One
1x Right Leg of the Forbidden One
3x Fiend Reflection #2
3x Magician of Faith

3x Tremendous Fire
3x Mimicat
3x Graverobber
3x Monster Reborn
3x Solomon’s Lawbook
3x Time Seal
3x Earthshaker
3x Dian Keto the Cure Master

3x Riryoku

3x Magic Jammer

You can only get Riryoku with Gameshark, but you can make a version of this deck without cheats by using Ookasi instead. You will just have to do a lot of grinding. Regardless, this deck always works for two goals at once: to set up Exodia pieces and to burn your opponent, and I discard lots of cards in the process. Solomon’s Lawbook and Fiend Reflection #2 serve both purposes very well, both giving me another turn to draw cards.

Naturally, Mimicat, Graverobber, and Monster Reborn let me revive Exodia pieces and burn spells many times. Each leftover card has another purpose: Time Seal and Earthshaker interrupt my opponent’s marching army. Magic Jammer cancels out any spell my opponent can use to counter my burn tactics. Dian Keto heals me of any damage.

My Best Yugioh Forbidden Memories Decks *REVISED*

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Posted below are the best decks I could ever build for Yugioh Forbidden Memories, both for a deck I built without using any Gameshark cheats and a deck I built using cheats.

Natural Deck:
3x Meteor Black Dragon
3x Blue-Eyes White Dragon
3x Twin-Headed Thunder Dragon
3x Sanga of the Thunder
3x Red-Eyes Black Dragon
3x Meteor Dragon

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

3x Raigeki
1x Umi

 3x Widespread Ruin

 I altered this deck by taking out the 3x Seiyaryu and 3x Skull Knight, replacing them with 3x Salamandra and 3x Widespread Ruin. I did not have enough power ups to beat Seto 3rd (with his Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon) consistently enough for my taste. Yes, I beat him with my old deck on a 20:1 ratio basis, but I beat with him with my new deck around a 25:1 ratio. It is slightly higher, and I can’t figure out any way to get higher without cheats. This is my very limit.

Skull Knight is a good tech-in for beating Meteor Black Dragons and Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragons, but I didn’t have room for him. Same with Seiyaryu; plus I don’t need it, since I have enough dragons to fuse with my Sanga of the Thunder to make Twin-Headed Thunder Dragons.

Widespread Ruin saved my life many times, since the opponent often has to waste a turn getting rid of it with Harpies’ Feather Duster or fodder. This gives me a little more time to get a good hand so I can play a strong combo. I usually set it on the first turn, or set it to protect a strong monster I have in play so Seto 3rd (or Nitemare) can’t kill it with Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon. If you want to beat this game consistently, you must always be ready to jump against a Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon.

 Gameshark Deck:
3x Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon
3x Gate Gaurdian
3x Meteor Black Dragon
3x Black Luster Soldier
3x Magician of Black Chaos

3x Megamorph
3x Bright Castle
3x Dragon’s Treasure
3x Dark Energy
3x Sword of Dark Destruction

3x Raigeki
3x Swords of Revealing Light
1x Dark Hole

3x Widespread Ruin

I edited the Gameshark deck by giving it a more definite theme: dragons with dark warriors, so I could make the deck more consistent. I could more easily match my monster with the proper equip spell to make it stronger. Black Luster Soldier and Magician of Black Chaos are weaker than Perfectly Ultimate Great Moth and Black Skull Dragon but they can easily become stronger with equips. I traded some strength for lots of speed.

Black Luster Soldier is the strongest warrior in the game after Gate Guardian, and both monsters combine with both Dark Energy and Sword of Dark Destruction. Magician of Black Chaos works as a solid tech-in since you can give it an extra attack boost against a Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon or Perfectly Ultimate Great Moth by choosing the right guardian planets when you play it.

Skull Knight also works fine, since it can subvert your opponent’s Meteor Black Dragon with the Neptune guardian planet, but cannot repel a Black Skull Dragon. I would say Skull Knight is slightly more useful than Magician of Black Chaos, since Meteor Black Dragon is a bigger threat later in the game, but I wanted to give my deck a bit of Atem’s character by putting both his ace monsters in it. Too each his own.

Best Yugioh Forbidden Memories Deck (With Cheats)

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So you use a Game Shark to get the best cards in the game you cannot win naturally since grinding is soul-crushingly tedious? What is the best deck you can ever make? I have a suggestion:

Monsters:
3x Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon
3x Gate Guardian
3x Meteor B. Dragon
3x B. Skull Dragon
3x Blue-Eyes White Dragon
3x Magician of Black Chaos
3x Skull Knight

Equip Spells:
3x Bright Castle
3x Dark Energy
3x Dragon’s Treasure
3x Megamorph

Normal Spells:
3x Raigeki
3x Swords of Revealing Light
1x Yami

This deck has the strongest Dragon and DARK monsters possible in the game, especially Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon and Gate Guardian. I included B. Skull Dragon instead of Perfectly Ultimate Great Moth because you can equip the former with Dragon’s Treasure. Perfectly Ultimate Great Moth works too as it has more native strength but you can’t use it with half your equip spells, which makes me feel uneasy. 

Magician of Black Chaos and Skull Knight have strong guardian planets that help them slay the most powerful monsters your opponent can use against you. Both possess Mercury, helping them conquer Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon. Magician of Black Chaos has Mars, helping him defeat Perfectly Ultimate Great Moth and Skull Knight has Neptune, helping him defeat Meteor B. Dragon. They’re bascically anti-meta tech-ins in a time before the Yugioh metagame even existed.

You use the equip spells to power up your already colossal monsters to levels no computer opponent can match. You know you’re deep into this came when you consider 4500 ATK average and dismiss 3500 ATK as weak. Raigeki kills your opponent’s army and Swords of Revealing Light saves your life many times by stopping your opponent from attacking you for three turns. I included Yami in the deck to transform the field into a shadow terrain, giving Magician of Black Chaos and Skull Knight a boost.

Best Yugioh Forbidden Memories Deck (No Cheats)

meteor_black_dragon_by_andytantowibelzark-da9p5gc

I played enough Forbidden Memories for one lifetime. I finally reached my goal; I created the best possible deck I could without GameShark cheats. However, I did use Memory Cards to duplicate cards I won through grinding, though that does not count as a cheat.

You can’t win many of the best cards in the game no matter how hard you try, such as Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon and Swords of Revealing Light. You can only win them in the PC modified version of the game. Like all people who play the game without cheats on Play Station, I had to make do.

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

Equip Spells:
3x Bright Castle
3x Dragon’s Treasure
3x Invigoration
3x Megamorph

Normal Spells:
3x Raigeki
1x Umi

The monster lineup consists of Dragon and Thunder monsters, plus the many ways you can fuse cards to get such powerful monsters. The duelist Underlordtico created his own super powerful deck using Skull Knight, Metalzoa, and Zoa, focusing his deck on strong DARK monsters. I could not win Metalzoa, so I had to be original, and build my deck around Thunder monsters instead, a deck I think is more consistent.

Twin-Headed Thunder Dragon is a Thunder monster, but you can power it up with Dragon’s Treasure like the top two heavy hitters, plus it allows more fusions, making the deck more consistent. I tried meshing Dragons with DARK monsters myself but it didn’t pan out so well since the two classes are far apart from each other. Thunder and Dragons are closer.

The Equip Spells are the key to this deck because I can use them to easily power up my monsters beyond 4500 ATK to conquer Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon, the strongest monster your enemies can possibly use in the game. Raigeki is a staple as it wipes out all your opponent’s monsters. Umi is a unique card; a Spell that transforms the field into an ocean, boosting all my Thunder monsters.

My concern is Umi is too slow a card, but if I can pull it off I get a huge advantage over any opponent I face. It also rusts Metalzoas – I have no idea how Underlordtico got that card without cheats, unless he transferred it from a memory card with cheats.

Women’s March NYC ’18

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I went to the NYC Women’s March with two friends last Saturday. I was grateful the weather was merciful to us, and I enjoyed the company of several hundred protestors as we marched together for a broad common cause. I saw many people who seized my interest: a little girl protester with her own sign, a woman who cosplayed as lady justice, an old jaded woman who I loved meeting, and other people.

I have somewhat mixed feelings about the women’s march and politics in general. I think mass protests are badly needed in America in this day and age, and I am happy to be part of a larger movement, at least for two hours. But being part of a mass of people gives me discomfort because I fear the herd will sweep me away and mold me to be like everyone else.

You can’t avoid herds when dealing with politics of any kind, progressive activists and reactionary militants alike. You simply need people to clump together and believe in the same party line to make movements the same way moist air must clump together around a speck of dirt to form a drop of rain. I did not make that simile for no reason: ideologies are dirty by nature, crude at best and false at worst. And wherever there are sheeps, there are wolves hiding within the flock, pushing the same demands as we do for their occult goals.

Our dirty party line is this: Trump, his advisors, and followers are a brainwashed cult of lying, chauvinist scumbags while we are a righteous oppressed rebel group of average Joes returning democracy to the people. If we all wear pussy hats, chant the same lame lines, and lecture all the ignorant dolts on feminist theory the mean sexist pigs in power will listen to us and pass the right laws. Our beliefs regarding Trump and company are largely true but we will not bother to critique our politics, or our rivals’, with much care most of the time, and most of us have little interest in doing so. Most of us will content ourselves with marches and chants, feeling very proud of ourselves as great activists.

Of course everything I just said equally applies to all the Trump supporters too, and to the Bernie Bros., and to the alt right, and to the anarchists who want to crash the whole system down. I met a fringe of Trump supporters at Columbus Circle, of six people at most. The feminist protestors swarmed them like wasps to jump and scream at them like monkeys while the Trump supporters screeched and threw turds at them in return. The Trump protestors like to think themselves brave Spartans defending their sacred land from the barbaric Persian horde, but we share the same fantasy. It all depends on context: protestors in Texas appear the opposite as in New York, but the truth does not change.

Why did the protestors on the other side of the fence defend Trump? One old woman feared Muslim immigrants would enforce Sharia and destroy our way of life, insisting feminists and other liberals were hurting the women they swore to protect. An old man thought liberals in power privileged illegal immigrants who sneaked into the country over soldiers who gave life and limb to protect the country. An old Jewish man believed Trump would protect Israel from Palestinian terrorists. They may or may not be wrong but their concerns our valid; we should give them serious thought.

The other Trump allies were morons. A young gay man argued with my friend, insisting Trump did not persecute gays, but when my friend informed him Trump supported gay conversion therapy he could not respond. A black man condemned all the “fake news” the liberals made up to slander Trump and a whole conspiracy of lying mass media, then insisted we watch Fox News instead.

Conservative minorities are a fascinating breed of hypocrites: they complain how liberals always bring up their race or sex when arguing with them, but will freely bring up their race and sex to mislead anyone who opposes them. The young gay man said, “I’m gay too, and I support Trump! You want to control my thoughts, make me think exactly the same as you do, as you think every gay person should!” Dude, drop your nonsense party line about Orwell. If you did not read anything beyond 1984, shut up.

Politics as usual.

 

 

 

Matilda’s 2017 Reading List

“What sort of a book would you like to read next?” Mrs. Phelps asked.

Matilda said, “I would like a really good one that grownups read, a famous one. I don’t know any names.”

Mrs. Phelps looked along the shelves, taking her time. She didn’t quite know what to bring out. “How,” She asked herself. “Does one choose a famous grownup book for a four year old girl?” Her first thought was to pick a volume by Charles Dickens or some other really good book that grownups read, but for some reason she found herself instinctively walking past that particular section. “Try this.” She said at last. “It’s very famous and very good. If it’s too long for you just let me know and I will find you something a bit shorter and a bit easier.”

“The Road to Wigan Pier,” Matilda read. “By George Orwell. I’d love to try it.”

“I must be mad.” Mrs. Phelps told herself, but to Matilda she said, “Of course you may try it.”

Over the next year, under Mrs. Phelp’s watchful and compassionate eye, Matilda read he following books:

The Road to Wigan Pier, by George Orwell
Politics and the English Language, by George Orwell
Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift
Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James Loewen
Candide, by Francois Arouet
Tale of a Tub, by Jonathan Swift
Animal Farm, by George Orwell
There is Life After College, by Jeffrey Selingo
LinkedIn Profile Optimization for Dummies, by Donna Serdula
Getting From College to Career, by Lindsay Pollack
Job U, by Nicholas Wynman
What is the Color of Your Parachute?, by Richard Bolles
Juliette, by Donatien Sade
Milton: A Poem in Two Books, by William Blake
Jerusalem! The Real Life of William Blake, by Tobias Churton
Who Rules the World?, by Noam Chomsky
A Grief Observed, by Clive Lewis
Endgame, by Derrick Jensen
Contesting Nietzsche, by Christa Acampora
The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan
A Critique of Atlas Shrugged, by Adam Lee
Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World, by Leo Damrosch
All Art is Propaganda, by George Orwell
The Screwtape Letters, by Clive Lewis
Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach
Women & Power, by Mary Beard
The Conference of the Birds, by Farid Attar

It was formidable list and by now Mrs. Phelps was filled with wonder and excitement, but it was probably a good thing she did not allow herself to be completely carried away by it all.

“I learned from reading all these books that the world is a horrible place ruled by slavedrivers who have been perfecting the art of governing over thousands of years.” Matilda said. “To govern all civilizations, you must master the skills of manipulating the people through lies and coercion; there are no exceptions to this rule.”

Is all that true, Mrs. Phelps?”

Mrs. Phelps nodded grimly. “Almost everything in politics we regard as ‘common sense’ or ‘common knowledge’ are lies. The beastly slavedrivers either give us myths their rule is just or sell us a marketing scam to get more money. It is rather difficult to tell the difference between the two these days.”

Matilda admitted the truth, “All is lost. Mr. George Orwell states how even the very language I speak has been so corrupted it rots my very consciousness. Mr. Jonathan Swift reveals our human nature makes us nothing more than Yahoos who use our shoddy wits to be as beastly as possible. Yet our beastly natures make us living beings and give life meaning to us. The rational Houyhnhnms are practically zombies.

“The writers of the career self-help books mean well, but they only reveal my doomed future. As soon as I begin school, my parents will force me into college by lying to me, promising me that you must have a college degree to get a good job or amount to anything in life. In truth, I will fall into deep debts, all to learn very little about how I could ‘get a good job’ or ‘amount to anything’. That is if I was born lucky.

“My father is a used car salesman and my mother is a ditz who plays bingo. I snobbishly sneered at my trashy parents at first, but now I have a more nuanced knowledge of their lot in life. My father grew up with no schooling or job training, so he could not go to college or get a decent job. Instead, he became a crook to make ends meet, using whatever talents he has the best way he can. My mother went to school but could not pay to college. She could work in fast food, work in the sex trade, or mooch off a man who can support her. She chose the best option she had, and she now plays bingo every day so she won’t think of how horrible her life is, something she is all too aware of.

“Mr. Noam Chomsky tells us we are doomed, and rightly so. The slavedrivers will do nothing but gain more power and oppress the people of the world more severely, using any means they can. Every day, they fight us in a gruesome class war, and not only are we ignorant; we have entire sects of people who protect our masters at every turn. All of this occurs while global warming and nuclear war loom nearer each day; Armageddon.

“Mr. Derrick Jensen proposes a radical idea. All civilizations are, by nature, built from slavery, and can only survive by robbing the earth and human beings of more resources than either can return. Civilization can never be stable, and acts like a cancer on the earth; the more it grows, the more it kills its host body until, finally, the land dies, and civilization dies with it. Mr. Jensen wants to destroy all civilizations before they destroy all life on earth.

“Mr. Clive Lewis writes wonderfully, with a deep and compassionate knowledge of the human heart, but the foundations of all religions and moralities are false, and he secretly knows it. Mr. Donatien Sade knows this, and creates a perverse philosophy so he won’t feel bad when he rapes teenage girls. Yet he fails to understand, like all smug atheists, that his philosophy is just as shaky and self-serving as any religion. Or, he purposefully created a parody philosophy to turn morals on their head and reveal the hypocrisy of civilized society. Either way, Mr. Sade secretly feels guilty about raping teenage girls, so he goes out of his way to defend himself in the most tedious manner possible.

“Only Mr. William Blake, Mr. Richard Bach, and Mr. Farid Attar give me a tiny ray of hope. They sincerely believe we can reach a higher existence, where the meaning of life is greater than violently oppressing poor people or raping teenage girls; this is the deepest most desperate desire of all our hearts. Yet they deceive themselves. They know the game is rigged so they call quits. They wish to renounce the world and kill themselves, which is reasonable, but they pretend it is all about reaching Enlightenment, which it really isn’t.

“Why did you let me read so many terrible books, Mrs. Phelps?”

Mrs. Phelps, who knew the truth the whole time, sat by Matilda to comfort her. “At first, I thought it would be better if you read the frivolous twittering writings of Englishmen who write ‘great novels’ and ‘really good books grownups read’. You are a bright child, Matilda, and surely if you read Mr. Dickens or Mr. Thackery you would impress many grown ups. They would point at you and say, ‘Look at this bright child! She reads really good books grownups read unlike the dumb kids who play video games and play outside! She reads all the sanctioned books parents, teachers, and principles want her to read! Surely, she will go to college, become a doctor or lawyer, and live in a big house in the suburbs with a husband, two children, a dog, a cat, and a goldfish!’

“I could no longer lie to a child. I wanted to educate you on what being a grownup is really like. I did not want you suffer through decades of despair, disappointment, and indignation, only to learn the truth too late. This is what real reading, real education, is like.”

“What should I do, Mrs. Phelps!” Matilda cried. “Is there an answer to the darkness?”

Mrs. Phelps put her hand on her chin, thinking for a very long time, considering perhaps there was an answer, a way to truly live a good life. “I believe Mr. William Blake and Mr. Friedrich Nietzsche may point to the way, but the journey will be rough. We will travel through a great black sea of terrible waters. We will have to challenge everything we have ever known to find the other shore. Are you ready, Matilda?”

Matilda nodded, the bravest human being Mrs. Phelps had ever seen. “Yes,” Matilda said. “I am ready.”

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 30

Duel 30 – Deal With the Devil

Threatened, Maya flipped the switch to her hotel room, revealing the intruder. “Xiaoyi! What are you doing here?” Maya exclaimed in shock.

“I’m here to give you an offer you can’t refuse.” Xiaoyi answered with a kind smile. “Please, sit down.”

Maya shut the door behind her, astonished. “You can’t be serious.” She said to herself. “You are the greater-scope villain after all, the one who secretly pulled the strings behind the entire tournament. Even I couldn’t count the number of plot holes in your scheme.”

“Well, Matthew did let the cat out of the bag. I should have chosen someone with more to lose, then he would be quiet.”

Maya pounced on Xiaoyi as a lion does on its prey, pinning the woman to the wall, chocking her so hard Maya bore marks on her fair skin with her nails. Xiaoyi did not flinch so much as blaze with bright light for an instant the way a Millennium Item does. The blow easily sent Maya across the room, crashing her against the wall so hard the wall cracked. Maya hung in mid air, petrified by the curse.

Xiaoyi hovered near Maya in a carefree manner, amused. “What a brave girl you are to challenge me, even after fathoming my powers. I understand my revelation and the trials I gave you were stressful, but touch me again and I will kill you in the blink of an eye.” And Xiaoyi let Maya down, who collapsed to the floor, doubling in pain, and opened the window, enjoying the spring breeze. “Shall we do business?”

Maya had no choice to admit she had to agree to Xiaoyi’s terms. She could not challenge Xioayi and she was sure Xiaoyi would incinerate her or something just as bad if she tried running away. “What do you want from me?”

“I want a partner. I want you to help me destroy civilization.”

“What?” Maya could not believe this. “I never took you for the anarcho-primitivist type. Why would you want to such a thing anyway? I want to know more about your involvement in Egypt. How did you manage to orchestrate the whole thing besides using dark magic Egyptian powers? You want me to be your partner, then tell me the truth!” But Maya knew she could not take anything Xiaoyi said at face value. That would be stupid in the extreme.

Xiaoyi sat on the bed, inviting Maya to the same. “First things first: I don’t think I need to tell you that democracy in America, or anywhere else, is a sham. Gernand de Laclose was the Executive Director of the one of branches of the World Bank Group. I was an employee before I promptly killed him, and took his place. Explaining how I climbed so high up the corporate ladder at such a young age involves a tedious history of lying and bribes I would rather not get into. I even make myself look far older when on the job because I doubt my ‘colleagues’ would trust a twenty-six your old with the world’s affairs.

“The World Bank can finance almost any country it wants. It ostensibly exists to aid developing countries and what have you. It is made of five subdivisions, each subdivision run by a board of directors, whose members agree on an action before it is passed. Getting what you want is not as difficult as you think despite such bureaucratic obstacles. Banks around the world put sticky fingers in each other’s pockets and get chummy with superpowers and mega corporations all the time. The rulers of mankind are many different people, but we all protect each others’ interests. It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it.”

Maya demanded, “I know how banks and big business work. Get to the point already.”

“Alright. kiddo.” Xiaoyi winked at her naïve pupil. “Gernand and me funded Heishin Mubarak through ostensibly funding the Egyptian government, and we even got some help from the CIA while at it too, which gave weapons to the Ghouls and Heishin’s army. I gave Heishin and Matthew some magic as icing on the cake. You killed them both, so I’m a bit low on peons.”

Maya skeptically raised an eyebrow. “I find that hard to believe. What was the point of it all?”

“I told Heishin about the Book of Isis, so he would waste his time finding a mystical artifact. Matthew just wanted to kill you, which was motivation enough, I guess. Either way, the MacGuffin itself isn’t that important; the point was test everyone to find a future partner. Whoever won the treasure hunt would be mine, and, since you found Egypt’s ultimate Easter Egg, you won. Congratulations!”

Xiaoyi gave Maya her outstretched hand. “Produce the Book for me. I know you have it. You wouldn’t dare leave it with anyone else, even your husband.”

Maya reluctantly handed Xiaoyi the great Book; there was no getting around her. Xiaoyi flipped through the razor thin emerald pages, delighted the Book revealed its secrets to her.

“Do you not know the history of this book?” Xiaoyi asked, and when Maya shook her head, Xiaoyi answered. “In legend, Isis herself wrote this book; the goddess was Egypt’s supreme magic user who even knew Ra’s secret name. Long after that, the great demon god Zorc influenced scribes to copy parts of the book to produce a secondhand volume, the Millennium Tome. Long after that, around the Amenhotep Dynasty, Akhenaten deciphered the Tome, using the knowledge he learned to create the Millennium Items. The rest is history.”

“So the Book of Isis tells you how to create Millennium Items, or recreate them.” Maya concluded.

“Indeed.” Xiaoyi pointed to what looked like footnote at the bottom of an emerald page. “Slay ninety-nine humans; smelt gold for seven days, adding the bodies of your victims into the recipe; create Millennium Items; profit. I learned almost all dark magic from Gernand, but with this Book I can complete my powers and teach them to you.”

Maya asked, “What makes you think I will say yes? Why would you want to destroy civilization? You are profiting from civilization very well.”

Xiaoyi gently sighed. “The same reason you are annoyed at being King of Games. I doubt you want to keep playing a boring children’s card game. You are all too aware how powerless you truly are in changing the world, how useless it is in trying to change the system while working within it; your cynical behavior during your career betrays the fact. And don’t give any of that I-marched-with-activist-groups-and-gave-donations crap. Your many comments, sparsed here and there over the years, reveal your disillusionment. You want to really change the world? Join me.”

“I decline.” Maya stated flatly. “I can manage on my own.”

But Xiaoyi would not relent. “Let’s play a game; not a shadow game, a normal trifling game. If you were president of the world, and you could implement any policies you wanted, what would you do?”

Maya took a while to think things through, then summarized her thoughts, “I would take away all the money and power I can away from big business and give it back to the American people. Big business will have to pay most of the taxes; money will go back to government services (the usual stuff like education, healthcare, roads et cetera), and welfare programs can slowly work to rebuild America’s middle class, and help pull people out of debt and poverty. Crooked bankers and CEO, like you Xiaoyi, would be jailed or executed for treason. Universities, prisons, and banks will no longer be privately owned.

“I know one hole in this plan. America and all first world nations have so much wealth because they plundered other parts of the world for centuries. Well, I imagine I can slowly undo that while fixing things at home. Once America becomes a good enough nation, we can slowly give back to third world countries by investing in them. We build their government and education and infrastructure and so on, and in turn they become our allies and partners. It will take a long time, but it could balance out the inequality.”

Xiaoyi listened to Maya in rapt attention, taking everything she said seriously. Xiaoyi said, “Very good. I used to think the same thing, but it won’t work. Here’s why: the vile CEOs will never give up their power without a violent revolution, and neither will the government because the two are one. Europe is no utopia, least of all because, at bottom, corporate masters still rule their servants; they sheathe their iron fist in a leather glove. Even if you have your way, your government will not last, because it will still be capitalism and a civilization, and both cannot last by their very nature.

“Look around you, Maya: the buildings, roads, cars, laptop, Internet, everything. We get it all by taking more resources from the earth than we can return. Once we run out of oil, coal, trees, and iron, the whole infrastructure will collapse. We dug ourselves into our graves; first by building the whole system on cheap fuel, then by meshing everything into one big system that draws all its powers from a few resources. The earth is the lifeblood to the whole system, but the earth is dying.

“It will take millennia to repair all the damage. We don’t have millennia, and even if we did, the masters of mankind would never do it. They would lose their power doing so, and they are so busy oppressing the rest of humanity to keep the system in check they would never have the time and energy anyway. Renewable resources won’t work, because they’re not efficient enough to replace old energy, and just making them burns ever more fuel to kill the planet. You’re scheme is noble, but it cannot work.”

Maya put her hands on head, shaking her head. She knew all of these uncomfortable facts but buried them for a long time, knowing they nullified almost everything she did. She suspected that liberal movements in the first world were a sham to some degree or another, but she stopped herself from knowing the full truth.

Still, Maya would not lose the game so easily. She forcefully said, “I don’t believe in your fatalist Decline of the West bullshit. We always have a choice when faced with challenges, and how we respond to them determines our future. Did you ever think how many millions – no, billions – of people would die if we carried out your scheme? You and me would be remembered as the vilest human beings in all of history, and justly so.”

Maya’s energetic rebuttal made Xiaoyi gently smirk; she had a lot of spunk! Xiaoyi persisted still, “I don’t care if you believe in Spengler or Toynbee; civilization will die no matter what we do. But we have a choice in how we can die. We can turn the crash into a gentle landing, but that would mean persuading the very people who will never listen to the likes of you. We orchestrate the crash and get it done over with in a few decades, stopping nuclear war while we are it. Or we can let everyone die from a long, agonizing decline, only to finished off by nukes. Are you so afraid of your reputation; to be a good guy even if everyone dies? The choice is yours.”

Xiaoyi clasped Maya’s with her own, and revealed one future to Maya: The earth prospers under Maya’s scheme. War and disease are no more, and all human beings rejoice. They develop machine technology more and more, merging with the machines into androids, then lose all physical bodies to live in a machine supercomputer in space that draws its nature from the sun. All human life from every era of history exists within this program, each human within his little universe. Twelve superhuman gods manage the entire matrix, but each thousand years the computer gets closer and closer to crashing. One day, it crashes within one seven thousandth of a second, and all human life is deleted. 

Xiaoyi shows Maya another branch of time: Mankind prospers once more, as Yugioh is taken to its highest level. Momentum is created, a perpetual motion machine powering all of society, allowing a phenomenon called riding duels to exist. But power corrupts; and human beings once more become wicked. Momentum, becoming sentient over the centuries, manifests monsters in real life, embodiments of the evil within people’s hearts, using them to terrorize humanity. Later, Momentum reverses, and all human infrastructures implode. All life on the planet becomes extinct. 

Xiaoyi reveals to Maya several more visions, all leading to the death of the human race. Then Xiaoyi reveals her last vision, a small extent of her power: A young woman bursts from the surface of a large river in a black forest, naked and clutching a fish in her hands. She tears off the fish’s flank and swallows it raw, before throwing it before a morbidly obese man. Later, that man, her master, is kidnapped, and the woman transforms into a huge, terrifying black dragon with fiery red eyes, with some reassures of a large bat. The dragon decimates an entire military base, recuing her master, before returning to human form. She promptly knocks the obese man out, quick to wipe out all his short term memory with magic so he would forget ever seeing her with such power, even giving a tiny morsel of it.

The two women returned to the humble hotel room. Maya fell to her knees, devastated, barely able to absorb all she saw. Xiaoyi’s spirit Ka was something Maya had never seen before or could even comprehend until now.

“Why?” Maya croaked in a coarse voice. She did not believe that Xiaoyi cared for humankind. Not one bit. She nonchalantly caused the deaths of thousands of Egyptians and tens of duelists, with the arrogance of a god. Why would she care now? Lastly, Maya asks, “What is your endgame?”

“I do because I can.” Xiaoyi stated, and then revealed to Maya her final plans.

Maya at last understood. Xiaoyi was insane. Yet Maya still insisting on challenging her enemy, despite that she witnessed her strength. Perhaps Maya always needed to thumb her nose at authority since childhood. “But why?”

Xiaoyi, irritated with such a stupid question, made what was perhaps the biggest mistake of her life. She said, “Do I need to give you more incentives? I cannot let you leave alive if you refuse to join me. I revealed too much. Know this: I have all the time in the world to find another partner, and I have other candidates around the world who can take your place. If you don’t join me, someone else will.”

Maya saw within Xiaoyi a deep darkness, not just Xiaoyi’s darkness, but her own, and the darkness of the entire human race. No one could stand against that darkness, unless Maya conquered the darkness from within. Maya or Sophia could only challenge Xiaoyi once they learned her secrets. Xiaoyi had indeed tested Maya well, but not in the way she thought.

“Yes.” Maya whispered softly, surrendering.

“I can’t hear you.”

“Yes.” Maya assented, louder this time. “I accept. I will join you.”

“Bravo!” Xiaoyi clapped her hands together; her dark murderous features instantly vanished, and she now seemed an innocent little girl. “Gernand and me spent over a decade preparing for our fateful day. I merely need to tweak a few little things and we’re all set. You, Maya, are the final piece to the figurative Millennium Puzzle. I could not be more proud of you.”

And she handed Maya a tiny note. “You will see coordinates to a location within Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Be there by next week, or I will find and kill you wherever you are. As I say once more, the choice is yours. Sweet dreams.” And she left the hotel room, leaving Maya stranded.

—————————————–

Maya reunited with Yukio and her baby boy at the end of the weekend. They spoke of how happy they would be, their plans together, a house they could one day buy, the day Narmer would walk for the first time, sending Narmer to school, attending parent-teacher conferences, paying for Narmer’s college, celebrating many Christmases to come together with Jolene, JC, and Sophia as family.

All this talk nearly made Maya weep in despair. None of it would ever come to pass. She would abandon everyone to save the human race from Xiaoyi, a devil in a woman’s body. There was no way she could make them understand, so she kept quiet. The couple spent their last day together at Central Park on May 23, celebrating Yukio’s twenty-fourth birthday, enjoying every moment in happiness. It was the best final gift Maya could ask for.

Past midnight, in that fateful morning, Maya quietly packed her bags, kissing Yukio one last time while he lay sleeping. Baby Narmer awoke, and so Maya cradled her son one last time, rocking him to sleep, singing to him the songs mother sang to her when she was a child. Once Narmer went to sleep, she laid him in his cradle, and kissed him one last time.

Sometime later, Maya visited Sophia’s hotel room in New York City, and told Sophia everything; all the coming darkness of night. Sophia remained skeptical at first, but when she say Maya cry she knew Maya was telling the truth. Maya offered her hand to Sophia. Only together could they defeat the darkness. Sophia accepted, and packed her bags. Together, the two women stole into the night.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 29

Duel 29 – Declining the Challenge

Two months later on Valentine’s Day, Maya gave birth to a healthy baby boy in hospital, with Yukio present. The parents named the child Narmer in reference to the land wherein he was conceived. There was not a sweeter time of year for a child to be born. Yukio watched mother and child with joy and amusement, seeing such a fierce mother melt into goo nursing her baby. Later that month the couple merged their finances, in essence marrying.

Later that month all of Team Baby Blast Furnace; Maya, Yukio, Sophia, were invited to the The Duel Network to talk about Yugioh and the tournament they won. They accepted the challenge, but first the chancellor of the New York Duel Academy took the team out on a tour of his school. Maya and Yukio both tried to enter the academy and failed five years ago.

The trio gave something of a lecture in the main hall; the chancellor gave them notes telling them exactly what to say, which they did. Students then asked them questions, which were more revealing than any answer they made up. Sophia remarked how the students acted exactly like her adopted brothers and sisters, completely sheltered. At least Pegasus’ children were once orphans. Maya grew furious, but bottled her anger; she tore the chancellor’s notes apart during the lecture.

————————————-

And within due time, our heroes arrived to The Duel Network talk show, and even some other finalists arrived, presented by none other than Gail Aphor.

APHOR: “Today! All new! A fascinating celebrity gamer meetup! World Champion Marina Bozuslowsky, teammates Yukio Fujiwara and Sophia Yanova, rival finalist Maria White, and finalists Rex Raptor and Weevil Underwood GIVE IT UP! We’ll go inside their dueling adventures next! Let’s give them a big round of applause, people!

“So, Maya – can I call you that? – What’s it like being the King of Games? How does it feel to be the first woman and the first black person to be world champion?”

MAYA: “As long as the Huffington Post and Jezebel don’t embarrass me, I’m fine. I feel very happy and grateful being world champion – who doesn’t? – I always wanted to be a great duelist and rock the boat, but I never thought I could be King of Games. To be honest, I went into this tournament because I needed to pay the bills, being a finalist would have been enough. As for all the talk about race and gender, I’d rather have that discussed in a more level-headed and intellectual environment than reality TV.”

APHOR: “What, we’re not smart enough for you? You want to only talk to an academic elite? – Can I get that, people! – Everyone loves a true duelist!”

SOPHIA: “You willingly rocked the boat, Maya. You can’t runaway from people’s reactions now.”

MAYA: “I’m not running away. I know how easily the so-called masses bastardize complex social issues and make asses out of everyone. And perhaps I simply changed. I was a different woman before the tournament than now, so perhaps I became a bit more mature.

“As for said social issues; I’m very proud to represent women and black people everywhere. All my life society told me, explicitly and implicitly, that I could never amount to much; that I lacked the intellectual and creative potential. That was a big motivation for me challenging the status quo. Forcing conservative dorks to eat their own words is very satisfying; I freely admit.

“But being a big role model becomes a curse over time. People will revere you as an idol, sure, but they will soon try to control you like they own you. I can’t be everything to everybody, but I guarantee you, idiots will try to manipulate and abuse me into acting exactly the way they want for the pettiest of reasons. They will not listen to anything you say or follow your example. They will kill you by turning you into a celebrity.”

AUDIENCE MEMBER 1: “Why you gotta’ throw shade like that? How can my little girl look up to someone who calls me, and other people of her race and gender, ignorant savage morons? Honey, I’ll show you how to throw shade! Talk like that and you’ll be the least popular world champion of all time!”

MAYA: “I don’t care. This is boring. Can we please talk about the Yugioh game itself?”

WEEVIL: “To be honest, I kind of miss the good old days when Yugioh didn’t have all this political garbage in it. I just wanna’ win and have fun.”

APHOR: “Okay guys, calm down a bit. – Shut up, Weevil! – Maria, what do you think about Yugioh right now?”

MARIA: “Yugioh is dying, and rogue duelists are killing it. You could only use a few decks back in the day, sure, but that gave duelists a standard to aspire you. They had to netdeck each other but they also had to tweak their decks a bit to get ahead. That was creative; that was like netdeck Inception. But now there is no standard; a duelist can win with whatever God forsaken trash if they have the brains to do it. Any loser with a good strategy can easily surpass even the God Cards these days. Once the gods were a force of destiny. Now they’re just another archetype. A dueling world that stands for nothing will fall for anything.”

APHOR: “I’m getting a pretty mixed vibe from the audience right now. So Maya, how would you respond to that?”

MAYA: “People have been saying ‘Yugioh is dying’ since forever. If I had a dime each time someone said that, I would never have to duel again. Yes, netdeck Inception is pretty interesting, but without new duelists challenging the old, the game will stop evolving. Pegasus creates new cards every weekend, so expecting the same meta deck to remain for all eternity is unreasonable.

“Regardless, Pegasus will always keep a metagame because he profits from it. He creates a new banlist forcing you to buy expensive new cards, which also forces you to sell old but good cards to afford said new cards. Next year, Pegasus creates new cards and a new banlist, and the cycle repeats. Kaiba updates his toys and gives them planned obsolescence, just like Apple does. Kaiba and Pegasus don’t care about the game anymore. For them, it’s all about keeping the capitalism machine running until Yugioh one day implodes on itself.”

AUDIENCE MEMBER 2: “You ain’t a commie, are you, ma’am? Because I’ll tell you right now, communism is just as bad as fascism, and if you’re a commie you might as well be a Nazi. Why don’t liberal arts colleges speak about communism as the evil it is, just like we all do about Nazism? Did you know, Stalin was just as bad as Hitler!”

REX: “And we passed Godwin’s Law.”

APHOR: “Shut up, Rex! – Maya, how do you respond to that?”

MAYA: “I don’t respond to people that stupid. I talk to whomever I want. No one is entitled to my time and attention, no matter how famous I am.”

APHOR: “A true duelist wouldn’t disappoint their fans. Yukio? Sophia? Any thoughts?”

YUKIO: “I agree with Maria a bit. Yugioh used to have a nobler aspect to it. Back then, Yugioh had real sense of honor and competitive spirit, which was a good thing no matter how dumb the ‘honor of the duelist’ is. Now being a duelist is about having a career, just like in a corporate office. It’s all about money.”

SOPHIA: “I would like to address the many deaths that occurred during the tournament. I am deeply ashamed of it all. I would never have gone to the tournament if it would mean getting so many people killed. I’m so sorry!”

AUDIENCE MEMBER 3: “BULLSHIT! We gotta’ lock her up!”

MAYA: “Don’t feel guilty, Sophia. Let me wipe your tears. Matthew and his Ghoul underlings forced us to fight for our lives. Calling us murderers would be like blaming the victims in the Saw movies.”

YUKIO: “Not the best example, Maya.”

APHOR: “I heard you guys visited New York City’s Duel Academy. Can you tell me what that was like?”

MAYA: “The kids are spoiled and sheltered, and learn nothing about the real world. Academies do them more harm than good. Imagine if there was a basketball academy that taught kids nothing but how to play basketball. No algebra, no literature, no history. Nothing. Then you dump those poor kids into the real world with no life experience. Only a few of all basketball players become superstars; the rest starve. Yugioh is the same way. Even child prodigies have no guarantee surviving.”

TRAVIS: “Not cool, man! My name is Travis T., and I’m the number one duelist in the academy! No one disses my school and gets away with it! I challenge you to a duel! Right here! Right now! If you lose, not only do you apologize to everyone you hurt today, you give me the title of King of Games!”

MAYA: “I decline your challenge.”

AUDIENCE: “Gasp!”

TRAVIS: “A true duelist never declines a challenge!”

MAYA: “I just did. First of all, you have no right to challenge me. You don’t walk into a corporate boardroom and demand to become senior administrator. The same applies here. Win a national tournament, and maybe I will accept your challenge. Second of all, you’re no match for me. I would tear you apart in ten seconds, you brat. Third of all, even if you beat me and become King of Games, you will burn out fast and die young. You don’t know how to manage money, manage a busy schedule, handle debts, or avoid getting screwed over by every conman in the world. You’ll end up sucking dick for meth within a few months, and show business won’t shed a tear.”

AUDIENCE: “BOO!”

YUKIO: “You just had to piss everyone off, Maya!”

AUDIENCE MEMBER 2: “What foul language!”

MAYA: “Get bent, asshole. Now if you excuse me, I must take care of my child.”

Jolene, who was tending the infant at this point, tried her best to comfort the little creature, which was wailing from all the terrible noise and shouting around it. Jolene returned the child to its mother. Gail Aphor ensconced her guests away as much as she good, but could not fully save them from the ravenous audience. Though blocked by security, the audience harassed the guests as much as it could.

The third audience member screamed, “She’s making controversy! She’s doing it all for money!”

————————————-

The poor baby would not calm down, and both parents blamed themselves for going to the talk show. Yukio, Sophia, Jolene, and Maya all traded time with the infant until they calmed it down, putting it fast to sleep. Yukio then fell to blaming Maya for causing such turmoil during the talk show, with Maya retorting how she had to stand her ground; followers are vicious creatures that could never be appeased. It was their first argument as a couple, and it was so severe they nearly divorced.

The couple briefly split. Yukio taking the baby with him since he deemed Maya an unworthy mother, causing Maya to break into tears for her baby, overcome by a mother’s instinctive despair. Jolene and Sophia found Maya a hotel room for a few days, and stayed with her for a few days to comfort her.

Heart-broken, Maya wandered to a soup kitchen in the west side. Slumping her head on the meal tables, she stared at every homeless person she could find. Her parents drilled within her an intense fear of becoming homeless. If they didn’t pay rent, they would get evicted and become homeless. If Maya acted out, her father could lose his job and they would become homeless. If Maya didn’t do well in school nor go to college, she would become homeless. If Maya did not win a big Yugioh tournament, she would fail to pay her debts and become homeless.

Never did it occur to Maya’s parents, or even Maya herself, that “the homeless” were human beings. Understanding this for the first time, Maya wondered if playing so much dumb Yugioh was even worth it. Maybe becoming homeless was the better choice. They seemed happy in the soup kitchen, but that was probably a lie.

A volunteer, an old man, tall and clean-shaven approached behind her, and said, “I remember you!” Maya turned around. It was Greg, the old homeless man the team knew from four years ago. Maya greeted him joyously; and they talked through the whole afternoon.

Greg, it seemed, used part of the team’s prize money to rebuild his life. He managed to get a job in human resources and lived in public housing. It was no rags-to-riches story, but it was a miracle, or so he said, and Maya agreed. Maya told him her own story, feeling ashamed how she, someone who did have a rags-to-riches story, could be so unhappy. Greg reminded her, jokingly, that Hollywood actors did drugs and went to mental hospitals for a reason.

The two bade each other farewell. Maya called Yukio, telling him she was sorry for everything, and Yukio said the same. They would move back together after the weekend and promised to never argue again. Next time, they would work things out like rational mature adults, which, I’m sure you know, most couples are.

Maya went to a hipster bar and had a few good old shots, happy she could drink again as she was no longer pregnant, played darts a bit, danced, and returned to her hotel room. Though everything was dark inside, Maya could see the body of a woman.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 28

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I have many duties to do outside writing, so I must power through the last three odd chapters. Enjoy! 

Duel 28 – Spring Showers in December

Maya rose from bed; she got real tired of entering scenes by waking up. It was so lame the author even began a story with her main character waking up from bed. Maya hated being passive like that; that was how Maria should begin a scene. She took her time to explore her room because it was surreal: a hospital room so white it was like a generic afterlife scene in a movie. She noticed an ivee penetrated her arm and punched the port to make sure she was alive. ARGH! She was alive!

Maya wanted nothing more than to leave the hospital right now, but she was still weak, and the doctors would sedate her if she tried a “daring” escape anyway. So she sat down and watched a few channels from the small flat screen TV bolted to the ceiling. “Let’s see what went on in the world while I took a nap.” Maya mumbled to herself, turning on the news.

KAIBACORP AND INDUSTRIAL ILLUSSIONS CONTINUE COURT TRIALS
REPORTER 1: “Good morning New Yorkers! I am Dave and this is Susan. We continue our story where Seto Kaiba and Pegasus Crawford, leaders of the two biggest corporate giants of the gaming world, are continuing to undergo a tidal wave of lawsuits following the 13th Battle City World Championship. Their prosecutors, including Amnesty International, the United Nations, and grieving parents of deceased duelists, are charging them with violations of international law and crimes against humanity. Susan, can you fill us in on the details?”

REPORTER 2: “Certainly. According to Ali Treki, President of the United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Kaiba and Mr. Pegasus purposefully hosted their tournament in war torn Egypt to generate controversy and boost ratings, a trick commonly performed in reality television. There is nothing quite like a gladiator death match, at least that is what Mr. Kaiba and Mr. Pegasus thought. But was all the death and turmoil in Egypt worth it? We now turn to Hernandez de Istulto, expert economist, President of the Cato Institute, and pioneering investor of BitCoin.”

ECONOMIST: “Thank you, Susan. As of now, the exact motives of Mr. Kaiba and Mr. Pegasus are still unknown to us. Their behavior defies any good judgment of rational self-interest. Yes, as you said, they obtained controversy (i.e. attention), boosted ratings, and gained huge widespread appeal from duelists around the world, but at what cost! Surely, such a speculation had too high risk and too little reward.”

REPORTER 2: “Do you think their behavior reflects the huge boom and bust of the 2008 economic crisis? They seemed to have so few restrictions on their power, it’s as if they became deluded and thought themselves free of consequences.”

ECONOMIST: “No, no, no. A benefit to the corporation benefits the economy. It improves the competitive process that improves the individual and is inherent to such a good economy. Mr. Kaiba and Mr. Pegasus are the best businessmen in their field. It is unlikely they would endanger their businesses so recklessly: it defies rationality.”

REPORTER 1: “Thank you for your contribution, de Istulto. Now we turn to Jeremy for an eye-witness account of the trial at hand.”

CORRESPONDANT: “Thanks again, Dave. We see a massive crowd of people surrounding the courthouse at this moment. OOF! OUCH! They’re practically bulldozing past me right now. Hey, you there! What brings you to witness this occasion?”

PROTESTER: “We are protesting KaibaCorp and Industrial Illusions for their corporate greed and crimes against humanity. Did you know that Kaiba uses slave labor in Taiwan to make duel disks?”

CORRESPONDENT: “No, I did not know that. Are any duelists protesting right now?”

PROTESTER: “Well, you should know! I am a duelist. Sadly, there are a small number of duelists – they’re the basement-dwelling type – who defends Kaiba and Pegasus. They claim Political Correctness has gone mad and gamers are facing censorship from journalists.”

CORRESPONDENT: “Who are these people?”

PROTESTER: “As I said, basement-dwellers. That’s why you’ve never heard of them.”

CORRESPONDENT: “So why bother telling me about them?”

PROTESTER: “Maybe too much time on the Internet distorts your sense of reality.”

CORRESPONDENT: “I’ll say!”

REPORTER 1: “There you have it folks, on-the-ground action from Jeremy. He’ll be live in the court house right after this commercial break.”

Maya found herself enraptured in the details of these strange events, when a nurse came to her room, speaking. “Oh, thank goodness you’re awake! I never thought I’d see the day! You have visitors.”

Maya shut the TV off. All her friends quickly arrived. Everyone cried in excitement and hugged each other in a moment of pure joy, one that once in a blue moon. – Even Rex and Weevil came all the way from Japan! And Mathias came to check her out too!

“Thank God you came back!” Mathias exulted in prayer; while Yukio explained to Maya she was in a coma for three months. Maya looked dumb in surprise, and Yukio told her it was indeed true.

Everyone exchanged gifts, and Maya received first edition prints of all the link monsters she used in the tournament; a consolation Pegasus gave to all finalists after the tournament, monster cards printed before their official release. Likewise, Pegasus, being a man of his word, gave Maya a check of 2 million dollars. Maya held her prizes, astonished; she struggled so hard to earn the prize money, and it sat in her hands, all of it.

But Maya felt a deep guilt. She had paid for her prize in blood, not just her blood, but Matthew’s blood, the Ghouls’ blood, the blood of every other duelist who died. Yet she felt a weird kind of excitement knowing she fought such an epic battle and triumphed in the end, almost smelling the blood of her enemies on the cards, arousing her the way a shark becomes when smelling its prey. But the guilt remained.

Maya pushed away her prizes, and she was almost about to destroy them when Mathias stopped her. He spoke very sternly, “I know how you feel but destroy your prizes and everyone would have died in vain. Maximus and me lost our dearest family when we accepted our divine gifts and became Saints. We chose to use our gifts to aid the world. You must do the same.”

Yukio comforted Maya by putting his hand on her shoulder. “Look, if a Catholic is telling you not to feel guilty, maybe you shouldn’t.”

Maya listened to reason, something she didn’t do often. “I hope Stella is fine, back in Iceland with her family and comrades. Maybe I’ll finally see my dad; maybe he’ll be nice since I don’t depend on him anymore. Yes, that would be very nice.”

Everyone became dark and solemn in look, and Maya, looking at them, knew all too well what it meant; she knew happiness never last long, least of all with her. She asked what their saturnine looks meant, and Sophia answered, “Stella and Hannibal became brain dead soon after you won. You’re father died while you were in a coma.”

Maya shivered; the room seemed to become frigid. She really loved Stella, despite everything that happened between them, while she had no idea how to feel about her father. He ruined Maya’s entire childhood and the scars he left behind darkened her character and her life forevermore. He was the source of all the evil in Maya’s life, but that evil was all she had, and now the evil died she might as well fall through the floor. Maya instinctively touched her abdomen, feeling the substantial bump in it. What was this?

“You’re pregnant.” Sophia said joyously as Yukio clasped Maya’s hand, and Maya clasped his. Maya had no idea what to do or even how to feel for the hundredth time this year.

——————————————-

Seto Kaiba and Pegasus Crawford underwent their trail for months on end but a solution was met at last, and the news all too eagerly reported on it.

KAIBACORP AND INDUSTRIAL ILLUSSIONS BAIL OUT
REPORTER 1: “Good morning New Yorkers! I am Dave and this is Susan. Today a major development occurred in the lawsuit against Mr. Seto Kaiba and Mr. Pegasus Crawford. The two CEOs were charged for twenty years prison and their companies charged with 3 billion dollars, but both were recently bailed out. Susan, if you may fill us in on the details.”

SUSAN: “Of course, Dave. The various businesses partners of KaibaCorp and Industrial Illusions; including Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, Google, even NASA, paid the bailouts for Seto Kaiba and Pegasus Crawford. They also saved both companies from bankruptcy, but the heavy cost of the weighty lawsuit was enough to send thousands of employees out of work.

“Yet there could be more to this story. WikiLeaks has just disclosed a document between the American CIA, the Pentagon, Industrial Illusions, and Kaibacorp, which concerns a KaibaCorp blueprint for building a space station linked to the earth by an elevator. Why would Mr. Kaiba, after disbanding his father’s military operations when he inherited the company, want to return to military projects? What is the end of such designs? Could Kaiba have made a deal with the devil? – Hold on, I just received a letter at my desk. What do you mean I’m fired!?”

REPORTER 1: “Oh ho ho! Someone was unprofessional for a moment there! In other news, another sex tape of the Kardassians was released online, where it has been shared all across the Internet. Uh oh! Looks like somebody forgot to make sure what happened in Vegas stayed in Vegas!”

In either case, life rolled on as usual on all corners of the globe. Maya spent the next few months settling her affairs, boring chores leaving scarce time to spend with her friends. Not drinking or smoking pot for nine months due to her pregnancy was the least of her inconveniences. She first paid back all her debts so she would not evicted, but later sold her scant Chicago apartment to buy well-to-do quarters in the upper east side, a place she wanted to live in since forever. Then, she judiciously donated her prize money to charities and research projects she deemed best. – She did not give Amnesty International one damn sent. She canvassed for them before. She knew what those pricks were like.

Maya then moved from matters of the world to address matters of the spirit. She visited Iceland so as to aid Stella’s grieving family pay for the funeral expenses, but the family rejected all her money and spat in her face. Maya accepted their rebuke, and did not punch them in the face as she would otherwise do, as she was dealing with grief herself. She was now an orphan, just like Kaiba. “Eh, at least I wasn’t adopted.” Maya joked to herself while traveling back to New York.

Paying for her father’s funeral was a far easier task. For one, Maya did not have to deal with any family issues. Both her father’s and mother’s parents disowned their offspring when the children married out of wedlock, and Maya was glad of the fact for the first time in her life. Two families made of such bigoted fools did not deserve to attend her father’s funeral.

Maya made it a simple affair, inviting no one but Yukio, JC, and Jolene to the Long Island Cemetery. Mathias had long returned to Ireland; Rex and Weevil to Japan; and Sophia to Pegasus’ home in Las Vegas, only to pack her bags and move out to God knows where. Maya and her friends lowering her father in the grave themselves – Maya insisted on it – There, mother and father would remain together while their child, free from their grasping shadows, would live and die far away, where they could not reach her. Their simple tombstones read thus:

ALEXANDER BOZUSLOWSKY
OCT. 17, 1956 – SEPT. 25, 2009 

SHARBAT ALI
NOV. 19, 1962 – JUN 30, 1997 

A grim but interesting fact: Maya buried her father on her twenty-third birthday: Dec. 15, 2009. Maya had been so busy attending to other affairs; she paid the morticians to leave her poor father’s corpse a mummy pumped with formaldehyde and frozen in an ice chamber, in part to exact futile revenge on the man who once was. Her father made her alone from everyone else and forced her to wait for years to undo the damage he did to her, a process Maya would never finish. Thus, Maya made him wait, alone and frozen, before granting him the right to rest with his wife in peace.

JC put flowers on the grave, Jolene put precious drawings she made when a child, Yukio read a poem (or song) he wrote for this moment, and as he recited his work a small shower of rain gently fell on the small party: as if it was spring. Then sun refused to leave as he usually does as the solstice draws near; instead he cast his light on the world with all his might.

Tyrant men flaunt all their great might
Then die, forsaking their rights
To the earth, once in lovely gold,
Entombs them in dark wintry cold.

The sun, ever giving, returns
As meek flowers grow from bones,
As Spring’s gentle rainy showers
Nurtures young, yearning Sunflowers.

The gods have died; not one shall rise
To wipe the tears from my eyes,
But our strong hearts burn and glinter;
We alone bring Spring to Winter.

The gentle rain had washed all the dirt from the two tombstones away. With clean hearts and clear minds, the friends returned to life and celebrated the future with dance and play that day.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 27

THE CLIMAX OF 3 YEARS OF WORK HAS COME!

Duel 27 – The Hero Comes Full Circle

MAYA: 6500 | MATTHEW: 1500

MAYA’S TURN: “I activate Dante, milling 3 cards. I normal summon Tour Guide From the Underworld and use its effect to special summon Rubic, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss.” Arriving from the underworld, a trolley drops off a comely little stewardess with red hair and a horned demon around the same size. “I activate Preparation of Rites, returning a ritual spell from my graveyard to my hand and adding a ritual monster from my deck. I play Good & Evil of the Burning Abyss, offering Tour Guide and Rubic to ritual summon Malacoda, Netherlord of the Burning Abyss!”

Matthew, observing the chief of the Malebranche arrive, speculates that Maya must have used Beatrice to mill Good & Evil. He thinks Maya may have milled it randomly with Dante, but he knows better. His opponent is a true woman, a true black, a true Russian, a true Jew; whatever mud the mongrel is made of. The thought reminds him of his Cuban mother, but thinking of even that pale woman gives him shame.

Maya remains unknowing and uncaring of Matthew’s hidden shame; she had gathered all her materials. She cried, “I banish Dante the Pilgrim, Malacoda, Dante the Traveler, and Spadiovolo, to bring forth GOLDEN GOD PHOENIX!” A chasm opens from the ground, and all Maya’s monsters fall into the fiery pit. The god beneath, devouring the offerings, finds the taste to its liking, and so rises from the depths to greet its master.

Pegasus chastises Maya, “It’s about time you summoned your god card! I know the element of surprise is fabulous and all, but goddamn did you need until the eleventh hour!”

Maya snarls, her bare teeth something a dragon would recognize as a smile, her eyes glaring with savage light. “Golden God Phoenix, destroy his dragon!” The two colossal monsters smash into each other, their struggle erupting a cyclone of golden fire. Everyone ducks for cover, except Kaiba, who gazes at the fight: stupefied, making a distorted grin, his whole body convulsed in orgasm.

Rex and Weevil hide as turtles do in their shells. “I just peed a little.” The pathetic Weevil whimpers, and he didn’t lie.

“Idiot!” Matthew shouts at Maya over the maelstrom, “I banish a dragon in my graveyard to protect Golden God Dragon!” And with his words, his dragon won the fight, burning away the golden phoenix it battled.

Maya retorts, “You know what a phoenix does, don’t you? Use your common sense! I banish a fiend from my graveyard to revive Golden God Phoenix!” And with her words, the mighty undead beast rises from the fiery pit once more. “Phoenix, battle his dragon again!”

The two titans smash each other once more. Each time Matthew saved his dragon and Maya’s phoenix died, Maya resurrected it and battled yet again. Matthew understands the infernal woman’s plot, but too late, spending the last dragon in his graveyard to protect his god. Maya, however, still had a rich store of dead fiends to fuel her god.

Maya declares yet another attack, making sure Matthew’s golden dragon is destroyed for good, but Matthew doesn’t let it happen! “I play Negate Attack!” Thus ending the engagement. Maya lets out a hoarse sigh, and sets two cards facedown.

“Seriously, how many more god cards will you make?” Kaiba gripes to Pegasus.

“As many I want, because I am God.” Pegasus says.

MATTHEW’S TURN: “I play Pot of Cupidity! I banish 10 cards from my deck to draw 2!” It is a desperate move, and Matthew knows it.

The young man shakes his head, “Oh, Maya, the irony. When we first dueled you were truly the underdog, but how easily you changed all that. Do you still think yourself a rebel, a fighter of the people? I hope not. At bottom, you’re a tyrant.”

This news shocks Maya a little bit. “What?”

“You’re a queen bee, an alpha bitch, a bitch in sheep’s clothing. Can I say more? Yes, you grew up in public housing on the lower east side, and you joined a ragtag posse of rebels, you can’t change your nature. Had you lived as I did, you would be Regina George. I watched your every move for the last four years. You wasted your money, hopped from boy toy to boy toy, destroying the career of every female rival.”

Maya wearies of this conversation. “Look, you creepy loser, how I choose to live is not your business, even if you watch me in the shower. I gave prize money to many nonprofits as well as to booze; every man I boned knew what he was getting into; and I defeated all my female opponents fair and square.”

“But worse, Maya, you’re a killer. Oh yes! I know what you did! Xiaoyi told me! You killed Heishin! You’re a murderer, a criminal, a thug! A stone cold killer! When this tournament is over, you will be arrested, tried for crimes against humanity!”

Maya, though keeping a straight face, begins to crack underneath. She can’t understand why killing a dictator and saving thousands of lives would haunt her. Perhaps because she did killed a man, something she never thought possible. Perhaps because she killed a man so coldly, an act so simple and decisive: as if she flipped a switch. Perhaps because, by killing Heishin, she truly understood the consequences of her actions in a way most people never learn.

Maya liked thinking of herself as a devil, a fiery person who broke the rules, laughing at the fools around her while she did so. But was she truly a devil, a real devil?

Matthew leaves her to think about it, long and hard. “I activate Future Fusion, milling 5 dragons. I set a card. You’re move.”

MAYA’S TURN: “Golden God Phoenix, attack his dragon!” It is still strange for a woman to court a man, and with so much fervor, but the struggle began once more. Maya and Matthew burn through their recourses.

Matthew rekindles his fuel. “I activate Buriel from the Different Dimension, returning 3 banished dragons to my graveyard!” The monsters collide once more until Maya is forced to banish a fiend from her hand to revive her phoenix for the umpteenth time. That is how Matthew knows she is low.

Maya admits as much, saying softly, “I set a monster and end my turn.” Matthew can hear her lose confidence with ever word she spoke, and it makes him giddy.

MATTHEW’S TURN: “I enter the standby phase, meaning I fusion summon Five God Dragon!” The great dragon bursts into existence out of nowhere, fully formed with five terrible heads made of different elements. “I activate Pump Up, doubling the ATK of my Golden God Dragon.”

Maya lurches back, what little confidence she has left snuffed out. “I have a bad feeling about this.”

“Quote Star Wars all you want in Hell! Golden God Dragon, destroy her facedown monster!” Maya’s monster, though unknown to Matthew, easily dies either way. “Now my golden dragon, destroy her golden phoenix!” Matthew’s dragon, blazing with an outstanding 8000 ATK, completely annihilates Maya’s phoenix. (MAYA LP 6500 à 2500).

The spiraling blaze falls on Maya with all its weight, burning her skin and clothes, the force blasting her off the arena. Maya never endured so much pain in her life. She coughs blood, her already broken ribs stabbing her with the force of a thousand hot serrated knives while new ribs broke. Facedown on the floor, Maya nearly blacks out from the pain.

Too many moments of torture pass, Maya unmoving. Kaiba, unmoved, orders Isono to begin a boxing count. Isono readily obeys, announcing, “If Marina Bozuslowsky does not rise within eight seconds, Matthew Carter shall be declared the winner! ONE!”

“TWO!”

“THREE!”

“FOUR!”

“FIVE!”

“SIX!”

“SEVEN!”

Maya remembers all her friends, waiting for her back home, counting on her: Yukio, Jolene, JC, Sophia, especially Sophia. She cannot lose now. She loses all care of her pain; thinking of it merely as weakness leaving the body, she summons the strength to stand up.

“EIGHT!”

Maya stands on very shaky ground, or is it her legs? Either way, she survived, hobbling back up the arena.

Matthew laughs at how stupid Maya looks. “You look really, really bad. I’m glad you stood up. I want nothing than to utterly defeat you. Five God Dragon, knock Maya down, forever!”

“I activate the monster you destroyed: Fiendfyre! I banish it and a FIRE monster from my graveyard!”

“And you will destroy my dragon and my life! Oh no, whatever shall I do!” Matthew gloats. “I banish Skill Prisoner from my graveyard to protect Five God Dragon!” Thus Maya’s fiery bullet bounces off Matthew’s dragon, leaving not so much as a scratch. “Let’s continue! My dragon, destroy her!”

All five of the dragon’s heads assault Maya with the four elements, but Maya uses all her strength to keep her ground. “I activate Dimension Exchange! I banish Golden God Phoenix from my Graveyard!” Her phoenix flies from the grave, rockets through the colorful fireworks from Matthew’s dragon, binds to the five-headed beast, then burns itself and its prey away.

Matthew grunts, disappointed. How persistent! Two turns later, Maya will revive Five-Headed Dragon to her field.

MAYA’S TURN: “Golden God Phoenix is banished during my standby phase, meaning I special summon my banished Malacoda!” The demon leader returns and, turning its real towards Matthew, makes a trumpet of its ass. Maya flips Matthew off to drive the point home.

“I set a card and end my turn.” Maya wears her proud and confidant mask, as always, yet beneath she writhes in doubt and self-loathing, like most of the time. She never believed in the heart of the cards, but if she could draw one more card…

MATTHEW’S TURN: “I’ve had it with your insolence! The duel will end now!” Matthew roars. He calls upon all the darkness of his body and soul, and lets the fires from his dragon overwhelm him. Flaming with hatred, Matthew leaps on top of his dragon in a single bound, binding himself with his monster. “Now I am a monster! I am the Golden God Dragon!”

“That’s new.” Maya comments wryly.

“You fool! I will blast you into oblivion!” Matthew slams Maya’s fiend with all his fury.

“I activate Spiritual Swords of Revealing Light!” Maya declares, paying 1000 life so the wall of shining swords can protect Malacoda. Enraged, Matthew lashes out again, and again Maya pays 1000 life to save her by the skin of her teeth. (MAYA LP 2500 à 500)

The beastly dragon roars, “I end my turn! There is nothing you can do, fool! Give up!”

Maya glares back at him, defiant as ever. “No one, not even the readers of this book who can see you’re most secret thoughts and emotions, will remember you as anything more than a spoiled child.” With these words, Maya draws her last card.

MAYA’S TURN: “Yes!” Maya speaks to her heart, drawing the card she needed. Her physical strength returns, and with it she gains the moral strength to look within her heart. Yes, Maya is a murderer, which means she can always become a monster, like Matthew, like every other human being. She is no longer an edgy teen living with an abusive father, or a celebrity in existential despair. She is a grown woman, which means making hard decisions and accepting the consequences of your actions. Matthew is too dangerous to be left alive.

Maya knows she has friends waiting for her at home, and a life worth living. Matthew threw away both. She has to defeat him once and for all. Their rivalry is over at last.

“I normal summon Necroface, and use its effect to return all banished cards to our decks!” A baby doll’s face, smashed, decaying, infested by a foul creature, absorbs the souls of every dead monster and every banished card into its body, the creature within growing in size until it rivals the size of Matthew himself.

“5600 ATK!” Matthew despairs. “NO!”

“I activate Pre-preparation of Rights, adding a ritual monster and ritual spell to my hand, and play Good & Evil of the Burning Abyss! I tribute Necroface and the Fluffal Dog in my hand to ritual summon a second Malacoda, Netherlord of the Burning Abyss!” Her offerings vanish, transforming through fire into Malacoda. “I use both their effects. I mill 2 Graff to cut you down to size.”

The ghosts of the recently deceased fiends possess the swords of their commanders. Both generals point their swords to Matthew in the sky, then, using their swords as reverse lightning rods, let the ghosts within strike their target.

Matthew limps in the air, his flight killed. Desperate, he screams, “KILL ME AND YOU’LL BE A MURDERER TWICE! YOU WILL BE A MONSTER FOREVER!”

“Goodbye, Matthew.” Maya bids these final words to her rival. She feels no hate, no regret, but oddly tranquil, the feeling of release when exorcising a demon. And fatigue. She is so tired, so very tired…

“Both Malacodas, kill Matthew.” Maya declares her last attack. The two fiends leap into the air and strike Matthew down from the sky. Matthew roars, cursing the world, and falls beyond the pyramid in golden flames, crashing to his fiery death in the darkness beyond. (MATTHEW 1500 à 0)

MAYA: 500 | MATTHEW: 0

All darkness vanished, leaving only the blazing sunlight in the early afternoon. Isono raised his hand, declaring, “THE 13TH BATTLE CITY TOURNAMENT IS OVER! MARINA BOZUSLOWSKY WINS THE TITLE KING OF GAMES!”

Maya walks, in a complete daze, to the center of the arena, looking down at Kaiba, at Pegasus, at the other finalists, and turned her vision to the wide horizon, to the infinite sky above and the infinite ocean below. The sun blazes her black hair, surrounding her head like a halo. The light only darkens her; her skin, her hair, her eyes, her look, and makes her look truly evil. Everyone gazes upward at Maya in awe, even Kaiba, even Xiaoyi watching from far away, even Sophia.

Maya lifts her hands in the air and looks at the sun directly, celebrating her victory in the only perfect moment in her life. Spending all her strength, she collapses into darkness.

————————————————-

CREATED CARDS

MAYA’S CARDS

Golden God Phoenix
DIVINE/Zombie/Fusion-Synchro-Xyz-Link/Level-Rank 10/ATK 4000/No Link Arrows
4 Fusion, Ritual, Synchro, Xyz, or Link monsters

  • Must first be Special Summoned from your Extra Deck by banishing 4 Fusion Materials you control of different Card Types (you do not use Polymerization). If this card was Special Summoned with the following Materials, it gains the the following Effects:
    • FUSION: If this card is targeted by a Card Effect; you can banish this card. Return it to your field during the End Phase.
    • RITUAL: If this card would be destroyed and sent to the Graveyard: you can banish 1 Fiend or Zombie; Special Summon this card.
    • SYNCHRO: If this card is Special Summoned from the Graveyard: inflict 500 damage to your opponent.
    • XYZ: If this card is banished, during your Standby Phase: you can Special Summon 1 banished Fiend or Zombie, ignoring all Summoning Conditions.
    • LINK: Once per turn during your Standby Phase; you can send 1 Fiend or Zombie from your Deck to the Graveyard.

Dimension Exchange
Continuous Trap
Banish 1 monster from your Graveyard: target 1 monster your opponent controls; banish it. During your 2nd Standby Phase after you activate this card: Special Summon your opponent’s monster, ignoring all summoning conditions.

MATTHEW’S CARDS

Golden God Dragon

DIVINE/Dragon/Fusion-Synchro-Xyz-Link/Level-Rank 10/ATK 4000/No Link Arrows
4 Fusion, Ritual, Synchro, Xyz, or Link monsters

  • Must first be Special Summoned from your Extra Deck by banishing 4 Fusion Materials you control of different Card Types (you do not use Polymerization). If this card was Special Summoned with the following Materials, it gains the the following Effects:
    • FUSION: If this card would be targeted by a Card Effect; you can banish 1 Dragon from your hand, field, or Graveyard. Negate and destroy your opponent’s card,
    • RITUAL: If this card would be destroyed; you can banish 1 Dragon from your hand, field, or Graveyard, and this card is not destroyed.
    • SYNCHRO: If this card destroys your opponent’s monster by battle: it can attack once more.
    • XYZ: If this card is in your Graveyard during your next Standby Phase; you can Special Summoned 1 banished Dragon during your next Standby Phase (ignoring all Summoning conditions.)
    • LINK: Once per turn during your Standby Phase; you can send 1 Dragon from your Deck to the Graveyard.

Dragon Mirage
Spell
Special Summon all Dragon monsters destroyed this turn. Their ATK and DEF are halved, they cannot attack, they cannot activate their Effects.

Xyz Drain
Spell
Detach 1 Xyz Material from 1 Xyz monster your opponent control and 1 Xyz monster you control: draw 2 cards.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 26

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I won’t write duel terms like “Normal Summon” or “Effect” with capitals anymore. They make reading harder. I will embolden all the important cards so readers can easily follow what cards are being used and when.  

Duel 26 – Power Struggles

MAYA: 8000 | MATTHEW: 8000

MAYA’S TURN: As Maya draws her next card, she speaks to herself, “Matthew may bounce Beatrice with his Celestial Spheres, but he must lose a Dragon to do so. He doesn’t want that. He wants to build his Materials to summon his God.” Maya sets a monster and ends her turn.

MATTHEW’S TURN: “What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue? No more wisecracks to throw at me? Golden God Dragon is mine!” Matthew gloats. “I normal summon Manju of Ten-Thousand Hands, and use its effect to add a Ritual Monster from my deck. Then I activate Red-Eyes to revive Hieratic Seal, and then I play Hymn of Light, releasing Hieratic Seal to ritual summon Saffira, Queen of Dragons!” A human-like dragon of great beauty graces the stage, and with her arrival, Matthew uses her effect straightaway; he draws 2 cards, and discards 1.

Maya refutes him with a complex argument, “Hold your horses! I use Beatrice to mill Blaze Accelerator Reload, then banish it to mill a Volcanic Scattershot, and use its effect to mill 2 more of its kind! I destroy ALL your monsters!” She commences her military operation, step by strategic step, throwing a tidal wave of flame at Matthew to burn away his entire army and scald his flesh. (MATTHEW LP 8000 à 6500)

Matthew quickly puts out the fires on his clothes, saving his life but burning his shoulders and chest, hurt by his own dark magic. He then recovers, “I play Dragon Mirage!” His whole army returns, but its ATK and DEF halved, and it’s unable to attack. “How predictable.”

MAYA’S TURN: As soon as Maya draws, Matthew declares, “I activate Celestial Spheres! Return Beatrice to your Deck now!” He shatters his red-eyed dragon; the Enneads sublimate Beatrice back into pure light. “Look at you, Maya. You have no field and only one card in your hand. Surrender now and I will spare your life, hell, I’ll even make you queen of my new world!”

Matthew never intends to keep his promise, of course, and Maya easily sees through the lie. “I used to respect you as a rival, but you went full generic anime villain just now. I might as well kill it with fire.”

Matthew scoffs, “Ha! What can one card do for you?”

“Lots. I normal summon Fluffal Dog, using its effect to search for Fluffal Bear, and discard it to play Toy Vendor from my deck. I banish Fluffal Wings and Fluffal Bear, and destroy my Vendor to draw 2 cards, then activate Toy Vendor in my graveyard to search for another Bear.”

With the first cycle complete, Maya proceeds to the next one. “I discard Fluffal Bear to play Toy Vendor from my deck. Now I use Vendor’s effect: I discard Fluffal Wings and draw 1 card.” Maya did so, and shouts, “JACKPOT! I special summon a second Fluffal Dog!” And as she conjures her second stuffed animal to join the first, she concludes the cycle. “I banish Fluffal Wings and Bear, and destroy Vendor to draw 2, and use the destroyed Toy Vendor to add a Fluffal monster to my hand.

Matthew becomes astonished; Maya gathered two level 4 monsters, which means… “Oh. Shit.”

“I’m not done preparing yet! I overlay the two Fluffal Dogs to xyz summon Number 39: Utopia, and overlay it; I upgrade it to Number S39: Utopia Prime and then to Number S39: Utopia the Lightening!” The valiant space warrior, the emblem of all xyz monsters, travels the overlay network to arrive to our dimension, then emboldens its armor and weapons, evolving to a higher form. “Yukio and my other friends will give you a message! Utopia, destroy the Celestial Spheres; I detach 2 materials to double its ATK!”

Maya and Yukio’s monster bounds high in the sky, cutting down all nine Enneads. It jettisons to the ground, landing right in front of Matthew, and strikes him with a devastating blow. Matthew screams in pure agony, blown off the arena, almost falling off the pyramid itself. He coughs blood, writhing, his head and shoulders dangling off the edge. (MATTHEW LP 6500 à 1500)

First blood, just like last time.” Maya smirks. Damn does that feel good.

Maria objects, “But that isn’t first your first damage; that was your Volcanic Scattershot combo.”

But Kaiba corrects her, “Pathetic effect damage doesn’t count.”

Matthew crawls his way back up the arena, hobbling from his injuries. While gathering his bearings, Maya sets a card, ending her turn.

MATTHEW’S TURN: “Woman, I swear to God, the Devil, and all in between, I will burn you to ash, piss on you, and scatter you to the winds! Mark my words!

“I activate Xyz Drain, detaching 1 material from your Utopia and my Heliopolis; I draw 2 cards. I play Monster Reborn to revive the Celestial Spheres. I have gathered all my offerings to the gods! I banish them all to summon GOLDEN GOD DRAGON!” Lightning shoots from the sky, blasting Matthew’s monsters, and the supreme god, finding the offerings to its liking, descends from the highest heavens.

Golden God Dragon, destroy Utopia!” Matthew screams with all his hatred. The dragon blasts Maya’s warrior with golden flames, and Maya too is burned. (MAYA LP 8000 à 6500) The attack briefly forces Maya on her knees since, unlike Matthew, she had sustained many injuries before the battle began.

“On your knees, whore; that is a woman’s true place.”

MAYA’S TURN: “I set a monster. My turn is done.”

MATTHEW’S TURN: “Just what I thought. My God Dragon, destroy both her facedown monsters!” The dragon merely brushes its wings to scatter its prey’s ashes. “And I set a card.”

“Good.” Maya says under her breath, more to herself than to Matthew. “You destroyed Graff, Malebrache of the Burning Abyss and Scarm, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss. With Graff, I summon from my deck Cir, Malebrache of the Burning Abyss, and with Scarm, I add Tour Guide to my hand.”

Matthew comments, “Fitting you use fiend monsters. Hell awaits you. I set a card.”

MAYA’S TURN: Hopefully, Maya’s next turn will kill Matthew, and if it doesn’t, she will at least mill her deck. “I link up Cir to link summon Charono, Ferryman of the Burning Abyss: with its effect I summon another Graff, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss from my deck, and with the effect of Cir, I revive Scarm.

“I link up Graff to link summon another Charono, Ferryman of the Burning Abyss, using its effect to summon Farfa, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss from my deck, and use Graff’s effect to summon Rubic, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss from my deck. I link up both Charonos and Calcan to link summon Spadiovolo Swordsman of the Burning Abyss!” Maya finished her infernal parade with her ace fiend, the devil with a sword who divides the bodies of schismatics in Hell.

Maya then orchestrates her angelic parade, wedding Heaven and Hell together. “I overlay Farfar with Scarm to xyz summon Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss, and use its effect to mill 3 cards. I detach Farfa to do so, so I bounce Golden God Dragon back to your deck!”

The fiend leaps unto the celestial dragon, grasping it, slowly dissolving it. Matthew is dumbstruck; how can this be? Then he understands; the materials used to summon his dragon determine its effects. He did not banish a fusion monster, so his dragon can’t block itself from being targeted.

Matthew responds with, “Skill Prisoner!” The trap cards renders his dragon immune, shooing the fiend away as if it is a fly, sending it back to the underworld. “Cute loophole abuse, but it won’t work on me.”

“Nevertheless, I banish Destiny HERO – Malicious and Carboneddon from my graveyard to summon another Malicious and Wattail Dragon, then overlay them; welcome back, Beatrice!” With Dante and Beatrice reunited, Maya turns her attention to other matters. “Spadiovolo, destroy his Red-Eyes!” And her fiend slays the dragon as a noble knight would; it even wields the same rapier as the infamous Earl of Demise.

MATTHEW’S TURN: “Resistance is futile. May God strike you down! God, destroy the filthy Beatrice and Spadiovolo!” The dragon blasts Maya’s monsters with all its fury, understanding the hatred burning within its master. The fair lady screams, dying flames and agony, but the fencing fiend however…

“I use Beatrice to mill a card, then I use Spadiovolo’s effect!” Maya rebukes her opponent, milling no less than 4 Burning Abyss monsters, doubling her creature’s ATK. Dragon and fiend collide, but only one monster dies. Matthew had used the effect of Golden God Dragon to save his monster. Meanwhile, Maya uses the dead Beatrice to instantly summon Dante, Pilgrim of the Burning Abyss.

“I set a card and end my turn.” Matthew grunts in disappointment. The duel rages on, neither warrior giving ground.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 25

Duel 25 – The Final Duel

The doctors in the medical room tended to Stella’s corpse as best they could: the whole procedure; IVs, EKGs, eye reflex exams: Stella did not return. She was truly in a coma. Maya no longer had the strength to be angry anymore to anyone, dropping to her knees in tears. Stella might as well be dead. Perhaps if she defeated Matthew in the final duel, if she killed him in his own twisted game, the act would revive his victims. Such a thing happened in the first Battle City, supposedly.

Maya suspected, in her grief, that Matthew’s defeat was a false promise at best. Xiaoyi minted Matthew to copy Malik, but only from zinc. What made her think Matthew would be man enough to fulfill such a promise? Maya held nothing but a false promise, and she had to kill another human being to get it, maybe. She was so tired of this stupid tournament, so tired; Yugi could only have felt the same way. Money, fame, finding yourself, fulfilling a destiny: none of it was worth such toil and murder.

Mokuba Kaiba set a few white flowers he brought with him on a stand by Stella’s bed. His older brother, Seto Kaiba, of course did not bother to look at the mess he made, but Mokuba was to blame too. He allowed his older brother to prepare and execute the entire tournament, down to the final duel where Maya would fight Matthew.

And Pegasus? Well, Maya thought, a dapper aesthete was a true nihilist if there was one. She wondered if Sophia was just a shiny trinket to him, a pearl he trusted to her to briefly care for, like Maya was Jared’s. And Maya? She played her part just by participating. She did put Stella in a coma after all, but oddly enough, she felt slightly better understanding that responsibility. It meant she had some power, and not everything was beyond her control. If she could defeat Matthew in his own shadow game, maybe, just maybe, Stella, Mathias, and Hannibal would all return to life.

Seizing her power, Maya edited her Deck one final time; now it was time to use her own God Card, finally, and the Deck would focus on bringing it out. She climbed back up the pyramid to the arena on top, and she discovered Matthew already there. Her heart was so lacerated, she had gone through so much stress; she was too tired to even hate him. She simply disliked him at this point, like he was another low-rated douche of the week she had to defeat.

And she judged this cooler attitude was for the best. It would not cloud her reason.

The day had reached high noon, and Matthew gazed at the horizon where ocean met sky with a wistful unfocused look. He said, “You know the Pyramids at Giza used to be coated in white and capped in gold? Now they are mountains of rubble. And you know our great city, New York, with its silver and grey skyscrapers clawing at the sky like Gothic cathedrals, and all that? It will soon be an empty place, a junkyard with tons of rusted metal. I used to believe that our city, our civilization was worth protecting, keeping pure, but I don’t care anymore.”

Maya coughed a bit as snot went down her throat, and she scoffed at him, “I really don’t care about the white man’s existential crisis. Civilizations, especially the property-owning classes you truly refer to when you say ‘our city’, are by nature poor excuses of human societies. ‘Our civilization’ was never mine, and people like you love to drive that point home. Everyone, everything, dies. Attacking scapegoats, like you did, only showed you to be a desperate coward, but I’m glad you finally understand the obvious, even if you needed to become an exile of your own city to get it.”

Matthew laughed bitterly at hearing everything Maya said. “You ruined my life, Maya. I can’t wait to kill you in this duel.”

And Maya said, “I will kill you, Matthew. I will be done with you once and for all.”

Maya remembered something Yukio said, which was: “But no matter what happens we’ll be together. And yes, Maya, I mean it. It’s not a cliché. If we stick together, trust each other, help each other, we can overcome anything.” Maya hoped they would support her; though they could not telepathically send her good thoughts like anime characters magically do, she thought it somehow help. It wouldn’t hurt.

Far, far away, way back in a New York City apartment, JC, Yukio, Jolene, and Sophia watched the duel commence from Jolene’s laptop.

JC drank a large bottle of coke, and grumbled, “She’d better kick his ass or I’ll fist her harder than the parade guys who live here.”

“You fist gay guys, JC? Gross!” Yukio joked, sipping a beer. “I only wish for Maya to win. She worked so hard with us for this goal, she risked so much; she only deserves total victory.”

Jolene bid everyone clasp a crystal, which everyone did while groaning. She offered what would be called a prayer everywhere else: “Please, may the cosmos bless Maya so she may win and be happy.”

Sophia had nothing witty or silly to say, and didn’t even know if she liked Maya that much. She simply said, “Good luck, Maya. May success be yours.”

DAY 13 : 12:00 PM : ?????

Back at the pyramid top, Seto Kaiba snapped his fingers with impatience. “Isono! Begin the duel now!” He commanded.

The referee readily obeyed, announcing, “MAYA BROOK VERSUS MATTHEW CARTER: THE GRAND FINAL DUEL FOR THE THIRTEENTH BATTLE CITY CHAMPIONSHIP! DUEL START!”

MAYA: 8000 | MATTHEW: 8000

MAYA’S TURN: “I Special Summon Primitive Butterfly from my hand, and activate Brilliant Fusion, milling Lazuli and Fluffal Wings to Fusion Summon Gem-Knight Seraphinite!” Two pretty creatures worlds apart, an emerald butterfly and sapphire knight meet in one space. “I use Butterfly’s Effect to raise its Level to 6. I Tribute Seraphinite to Summon Destiny Hero – Malicious, then overlay it with Butterfly to Xyz Summon Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal!”

Matthew smirks at the arrival of the blessed lady, “I never thought someone like you believed in the eternal feminine.”

“I don’t.” Maya corrects him. “Her dress and manners are pompous and gauge, yes, but she’s a great coworker. I activate Jewels of the Valiant and set a card.” Maya’s voice is joyless; her hand might as well be a dead draw.

MATTHEW’S TURN: “My God… My God…” He screams in an exalted yet despairing laugh. “Yes, I have the perfect hand! Prepare to see my grandfather in Hell!”

“Bring it!” Maya braces herself for the worst.

“Oh, I will. Revenge is mine.” Matthew gloats. “I Normal Summon Hieratic Dragon of Eset, and Special Summon Hieratic Dragon of Su with Hieratic Dragon of Nebthet as the Tribute, which activates, letting me Special Summon Hieratic Seal of the Sun Dragon Overlord!” A parade of three gaudy Egyptian dragons arrive in pomp and circumstance.

Maya comments at the sight, “Dragons from China, dragons from Egypt, dragons from Dragon Tales… I’m tired of these grandiose creatures. When will it end?”

“When thou shalt succumb to mine Wrath & Die the Death!”

“Even the way you talk is old-fashioned.”

“As opposed to what, modern degenerate existential dread!”

“Um,” Maya blinks twice in astonishment, amazed at Matthew’s lack of self-awareness. “I know I’m the black person here, but damn you sound like the pot right now.”

“Enough of your ridicule!” Matthew roars, his shout nearly shaking the ground, “I overlay Eset and Su to Xyz Summon Hieratic Dragon King of Atum, which I activate to: Special Summon a second Hieratic Seal of the Sun Dragon Overlord!” Two more dragons join the army. “I banish Atum to Special Summon Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon, and use its Effect to revive Su!” Matthews field now totals to four great reptiles.

But his turn isn’t over, of course it’s not; with a Hieratic player? “I link up Red-Eyes and Su to Link Summon Hieratic Seal of the Celestial Spheres, and overlay my 2 Hieratic Seals to Xyz Summon Hieratic Sun Dragon Overlord of Heliopolis!” The nine celestials Enneads and the supreme sun god arrive, hovering high in the air above the reach of mere mortals. “I Tribute 2 monsters in my hand so Heliopolis can destroy your entire back row!”

Maya quickly declares, “I activate Fiend Grieving: I shuffle a dead monster back to your Deck and mill Farfa, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, then use it’s Effect!” A winged fiend springs from Maya’s Graveyard to banish the nine glowing spheres, at least for now.

“Not enough!” Matthew continues to build his army. “Hieratic Dragon of Nebthet and Hieratic Dragon of Eset activate as I Tributed them: I Special Summon Luster Dragon 2 and Galaxy Serpent from the Deck, then tune them to Synchro Summon Stardust Spark Dragon!” Two dragons great and small, emerald and white, merge in stars of white and green to bring forth the iconic dragon.

All of Matthew’s dragons stare down at Beatrice in menace, but the lady remains stoic in the face of danger, much like Maya does. Matthew doesn’t care. The game is his! “Dragons, destroy Beatrice and kill my sworn enemy, once and for all!” The entire army merges its firepower into a single devastating blow, but even that world-shattering power bounces harmlessly off Beatrice.

Matthew demands what happened with fury and frustration, and Maya reveals to him the trick. “I used Beatrice to mill Electromagnetic Turtle, then used it to end your attack.”

Matthew ends his turn in vain, cursing everything from his birth to Xiaoyi to Maya herself. How could Maya utterly refute his grand opening turn with one pathetic card? The Enneads return, the heavenly beings uncaring of the turmoil the mortals endure below.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 24

Duel 24 – Slaying the Dragon

Stella finally has her key card in place, a card that will seal Maya’s fiends back in Hell where they belong.

STELLA: 700 | MAYA: 3100

STELLA’S TURN: “I Normal Summon Night Dracolich!” As the black draconic skeleton crawls up from the dust below, Stella muses to herself that this is the first time she Normal Summoned this entire Duel. Yugioh was such a different game back then…

“Chaofeng attack Charono!” The ferryman is a weak Link Monster, and as such, Maya can’t switch it to Defending Position to spare her Life Points. As her heavenly dragon readies himself for the attack, Stella sprung her trap, “I activate Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror!” And as the evil spirit from Dark Necrofear haunting the field leaps from the dragon to strike Stella down and finish the duel, a magical mirror catches the evil spirit and puts it in place.

Free from evil restraints, Chaofeng pulverizes Charono with the light from its body. (MAYA LP 3100 à 700) Maya looks mildly surprised and amused, but Stella can see the bead of sweat falling from her forehead. “Wu’tien, attack Uria and finish the Duel!” Stella knows Uria needs Continuous Trap Cards in Maya’s Graveyard to gain power, and with only 2 buried there, its ATK is very weak.

“GOTCHA!” Maya seems to jump from out nowhere, like she popped from the darkness itself. “I banish Fiendfyre and a FIRE monster from my Graveyard!” Wu’tien leaps to the attack with her sword but a wall of flame generates from thin air, knocking the dragon empress back. The wall of flame collapses into a meteor, and Stella knows what will happen next.

“I destroy Dracolich for Wu’tien’s effect!” The empress dragon tosses her subject to the meteor to take the hit, dispersing the flames. Stella’s monster is spared and Stella does not take the damage that would have finished her. But her Battle Phase ends all the same.

“I set a card and end my turn.” Stella says, admitting her campaign failed, and Dark Necrofear spells another letter: “A”.

“Two more turns left.” Maya reminds her with the obvious, just to rub it in her face.

MAYA’S TURN: “I play Pot of Avarice!” She returns 5 dead monsters to her Deck and draws 2 cards. “Rats…” Maya softly speaks to herself; she has a nice big hand but it does not look promising. Maya did not believe a duelist could generate so much advantage and still have nothing, until now. “What a terrible deck. I must redo it.”

Maya thinks about how Mathias would have a field day with Maya playing Pot of Avarice. The Saints have a little in-joke amongst themselves where Maximus owns the prized card and Mathias makes every desperate attempt he can to get Maximus to trade it away. And with that brief thought, noticing the void where a big man with an even bigger garrulous laugh would be, Maya feels her heart pierced with a terrible sadness.

Maya had not felt this way since her mother died. Mathias did his best, giving all of his strength to protect her, and the world, from Matthew’s wrath, and Maya realizes her mother did nothing different. The poor woman, abused from her husband, did all she could to protect herself and her child. And Maya’s father? He did not have an easy life, and was disowned by his family, but so was Maya’s mother. That was no excuse.

“I put all my monsters to Defending Position, and I use Uria to destroy your facedown card.” Her monsters meekly obey her, but Uria does give Stella a sly punch below the bely by destroying her facedown Trap Card.

Maya destroys her Link Monster, protecting her Life, “I Tribute Charono to Set a monster facedown and set a backrow card. My turn is over.”

STELLA’S TURN: Stella knows Maya has something up her sleeve. She never admits defeat unless she ruses the opponent to play a dirty trick, but what other choice does Stella have but to fall for it? “Chaofeng, destroy Beatrice, the center of Maya’s Deck!”

The dragon volleys three balls of white-hot fire at the fair Lady of the Eternal, but Maya has something up her sleeve, “I activate Delta Barrier to negate your attack!” She revives 2 Continuous Traps from her Graveyard to aid the first one in blocking the dragon’s attack.

Undeterred, Stella barks, “Wu’tien, destroy Uria!” Her dragon empress slays the dragon demon by cutting off its head.

It would be hilarious if you nerfed Destiny Board at the last moment.” Maya jokes. “Boy, would I be salty!”

“You will be.” Stella replies in kind, “To gloat so early! I activate A Wing Beat of Giant Dragon! I return Wu’tien to my hand to destroy ALL Spells and Traps!” The reigning dragon queen rises to the heavens for the last time, her wings growing bright in tremendous size. She shunts her wings once, and vanishes in a flash, blowing away the Destiny Board, and Dark Necrofear dies a second time.

“Well I’ll be damned!” Maya shouts in utter shock as her strategy is shot to bits.

“You’ll never beat me with such a cheap trick!” Stella remonstrates her opponent. “I should slap you just for being that arrogant.”

Maya admits, “You losing to Destiny Board would disappoint me. I’m very happy you overcame the Occult Combo, but I must ask; why not destroy it sooner?”

“That’s my secret.”

“Or your mistake. I play a second Pot of Avarice!” Maya turns to you and all the other readers. She asks, “Can someone tell me what Pot of Avarice does?”

“Stale jokes are stale, Maya.” Stella nags impatiently, “Make your damn move already.”

“Very well. I set a monster. Turn over.”

STELLA’S TURN: “Well that was short. Not much to do when losing. I activate Preparation of Rites. I return a Ritual Spell and add a Ritual Monster to my hand, and I activate Yang Zing Cycle!” She Tributes Wu’tien herself in a surprise move; and as the sun has the moon, as light casts a shadow, as the mountain shares the land with the valley, a new darker dragon empress emerged. “I Ritual Summon Ci’xi, Dragon Empress of Yin!”

“When she is Ritual Summoned, Ci’xi adds two Wyrm monsters to my hand. Now Chaofeng, destroy Beatrice!” The old dragon succeeds in conquering the maiden this time, but his success is short lived. As Beatrice dies, Maya gives rise to Dante, Pilgrim of the Burning Abyss!

“I use its Effect.” Maya says. “I discard a Burning Abyss monster to draw a card.” When Stella reminds her that Chaofeng can now block the Effects of DARK monsters, Maya retorts, “Nah, really?”

“Ci’xi, destroy Dante!” The dark dragon empress draws her sword, a straight blade barbed with deep grooves like a shark’s teeth, screams a savage roar, and mercilessly butchers the pilgrim. Stella discards a card from Dante’s Effect; the penalty a player pays for slaying him. “I destroy a Wyrm in my hand to have Ci’xi attack again! Destroy a facedown card!” The evil queen slaughters the innocent Fluffal Wings under its hiding place.

“Since I destroyed Chiwen, Light of the Yang Zing, I Special Summon Taotie, Shadow of the Yang Zing from my Deck; and then, Taotie, destroy Maya’s last monster!” The second dark dragon pounces on its prey, killing the Fiend underneath.

“I set a card and end my turn.” Stella then understands the awful truth. Maya never planned on winning with the Occult Combo; she used it merely as a distraction to build a counterattack. In Battle City, Bakura played the Occult Combo as his ultimate strategy. Maya used the king as a pawn.

MAYA’S TURN: “I banish Fluffal Wings and Fluffal Bear to draw a card. I now use the other Effects of the Burning Abyss monsters: I Special Summon Farfa, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss; Cir, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss; and Graff Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, and I Tribute them all to Special Summon Raviel, Lord of Phantasms!” Three devils from the malebolge appear soon to give obeisance to the last Sacred Beast.

“I activate Fallen Paradise. It’s just like…” Maya pauses to prompt a response.

“Pot of Greed.” Stella groans.

“Exactly. It allows me to draw 2 cards from my Deck.” And Maya does so, enjoying the vista created from her Field Spell, especially the large withered tree and the forbidden fruit clinging to a ruined branch. “Raviel, attack Chaofeng! It can’t be destroyed in battle, but you can!”

“I activate Damage Diet! I take half the battle damage!” Stella counters; both she and her monster are spared from death. (STELLA LP 700 à 450) 

“Very well. I set a card. You’re move.”

STELLA’S TURN: “Ci’xi, attack Raviel!” As the dark dragon queen leaps to split the fiendish titan in two, Stella adds, “I destroy Zefranu in my hand to double her ATK!”

“And I activate Power Wall!” Maya mills 4 cards and spares her Life. Ci’xi fails to even scratch Raviel with her blade and, seeing this, bounces back to her space in retreat.

“Good grief! That was situational!” Laments the astonished Stella. “I end my turn!” Stella does not worry too much. She has one last Wyrm monster in her hand, ready to sacrifice it to double Ci’xi’s ATK any time.

MAYA’S TURN: “To win is not enough,” Maya tells herself, “You must win to make a point. I must defeat Stella in a more intimate way. Please, let this work!”

Maya says, “I activate Good & Evil of the Burning Abyss! I Tribute Hammon from my hand to Ritual Summon Malacoda, Netherlord of the Burning Abyss!” Maya loses her entire hand to complete the ritual, giving rise to an imposing fiend brandishing its own deadly rapier.

“It will be a devil, not a knight in shining armor, that will slay the dragon. Malacoda, kill the dragon queen!” The dragon queen and chieftain fiend joust together, clashing blades, locked together in mortal combat.

On seeing the combat, Stella remarks, “How fitting an end. I’m the dragon queen, the best Dragon Duelist in the world, and you are a wicked fiendish person.”

“Yes,” Maya agrees, seeing the battle unfold. Her father was a fiend, but so is she; how could she complain and not be a hypocrite? She became like her father. He was a broken man who broke her; so Maya reasons she is forever broken too, and she instinctively touches the side of her mouth and eye.

She burns with anger; she hates her father with every inch of her body, down to the strands of her hair and tips of her fingernails becoming hot with fiery anger, for breaking her, for crippling her for life. Maya tightly squeezes her face with her hand, lost in the black smog of her hatred, but a clear light, a sudden thought, bursts through; we are all helpless in this world in some way or another, and understanding that and forgiving a bad person does not support or condone their evil. Maya doesn’t need to hate him anymore.

It is interesting how thoughts work. Maya took three seconds to complete the entire journey.

Stella announces, “I use Ci’xi’s Effect: I destroy Suanni in my hand to double her ATK.”

Maya snaps out of her thoughts, “I use Malacoda’s Effect: I mill another Malacoda to bring her ATK down.”

“But Chaofeng stops you!”

“I know, why I activate Breakthrough Skill! I banish it to negate Chaofeng’s effect!”

Cixi requests assistance of Suanni, the fire dragon, who willingly gives its life to power its queen’s blade. Malacoda, in turn, commands aid from another devil in Hell, and from the power of its spirit, the captain of the Hellish squad breaks Ci’xi’s blade. Disarmed, outraged, but not beaten, the dark queen impales Malacoda with her first, killing him. (MAYA LP 300 à 100)

“Good!” Maya thinks to herself. She baited Stella to waste her last defense. “Raviel!” Maya commands as a general in victory, “Destroy Chaofeng! Win the game!” The dragon of light and lord of darkness clash in an epic struggle, but Raviel wins the arm wrestle, slashing Chaofeng with a mortal wound that kills him. Ci’xi and Stella can only watch helplessly as their army falls in ruins. Maya, through Malacoda, made her real retribution; not by killing Ci’xi, but by letting her live to suffer her defeat. (STELLA LP 450 à 0)

STELLA: 0 | MAYA: 100

Stella dropped to her knees, feeling utterly weak, the dark magic surrounded everyone was already doing its work, draining her life force away. Maya sprinted to her as fast as possible, grabbing Stella’s shoulders to keep her from falling. Maya said, nearly crying, “I understand now. I forgave my parents. They were only human. I’m sorry, Stella, for everything I did.”

Stella put one tender hand on Maya’s cheek. “I know.” She fell into darkness, the darkness leaving with her. Maya holstered Stella’s body on her back; her body trembling and stressed, the warm spring breeze felt as ice as to her, and she carried the coma Stella to the hospital herself.

————————————————

CREATED CARDS

STELLA’S CARDS:

Wu’tien, Dragon Empress of Yang
LIGHT/Level 8/Wyrm
2600 ATK/2800 DEF
Ritual Monster

  • This card must first be Special Summoned with the Effect of “Yang Zing Cycle”.
  • When this card is successfully Ritual Summoned: Special Summon up to 2 Wyrm monsters from your Graveyard.
  • Once per turn: you can destroy 1 Wyrm monster you control; draw 1 card.
  • If this monster would be destroyed by battle or Effect: you can destroy 1 Wyrm monster you control, and it is not destroyed.

Ci’xi, Dragon Empress of Yin
DARK/Level 8/Wyrm
2800 ATK/2600 DEF
Ritual Monster

  • This card must first be Special Summoned with the Effect of “Yang Zing Cycle”.
  • When this card is successfully Ritual Summoned: return up to 2 Wyrm monsters from your Graveyard to your hand.
  • Once per turn: you can destroy 1 Wyrm monster from your hand or field; double this cards ATK.
  • Once per turn: if this card destroys a monster in battle; you can destroy 1 Wyrm monster from your hand or field, and this card can attack once more.

Yang Zing Cycle
Ritual Spell

  • Tribute Wyrm monsters from your hand or field whose Levels equal 8 or more: Ritual Summon 1 “Wu’tien, Dragon Empress of Yang” or “Ci’xi, Dragon Empress of Yin” from your hand.

MAYA’S CARDS:

Fiendfyre
FIRE/Level 1/Fiend
600 ATK/ 500 DEF

  • If your opponent’s monster attacks while this card is in your Graveyard: you can banish this card and 1 other FIRE monster; destroy the attacking monster and, if you do, inflict damage equal to half the monster’s ATK. End the Battle Phase.

 

 

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 23

Duel 23 – Tactics Mashup

Stella suddenly remembers: Maya is playing Bakura’s Occult Combo from the first Battle City! Armed with this knowledge, Stella overcomes her shock and gazes at Dark Necrofear in the eye; she is indeed a sinister creature, her true power unleashed when she is slain; but the last time Stella studied her, her Effect was greatly watered down from its original power through countless reprints over the years, and the same is true for Destiny Board. How can Maya even assemble all the Spirit Messenger pieces anyway, what with milling her Deck and all?

The Occult combo isn’t scary at all! Stella gets that feeling of relief when you shed light on a sinister shadow in the dark and it turns out to only be furniture. Maya splashing out Dark Necrofear was nothing but a cheap jump scare to psyche her out, like those modern horror films pass for genuine terror these days. Now Stella transforms again from being terrified to relieved to annoyed, and so she chastises Maya, “Acting like a copycat fangirl is no way to duel in the finals. You’re flippancy is really starting to piss me off now. How dare you treat our relationship as a joke!”

“No jokes here, I’m dead serious.” Maya says, and she means it; the way she locks down her gaze at Stella tells it so. “And to prove it, I promise you I will never use my god card against you this duel.”

Matthew falls back in shock, in total disbelief he cries out, “What! But you never played it once!”

“You’re right.” Maya dignifies him with an answer. “I don’t play cheap cards like you do, like the way Yugi pulled the god card Osiris out of his ass to beat Bakura at the last moment. Winning with a god card does not show your skill; it shows the opposite; you might as well say, ‘I can’t beat you with my own skills so I have to use a broken card instead!’ Yugi and Kaiba did just that for their entire careers.”

Kaiba contorts his face into an even deeper scowl than the one he usually has, seething, he growls, “You insolent parasite to society, I will disqualify you right now –”

“And what’s gonna’ happen then, big guy? Half of all duelists will quit Yugioh. You’re company will go bankrupt within a week, Google or Disney will buy it out, you’ll shoot yourself in your office, and Mokuba will return to the orphanage. – By the way, Joey is a working class hero.”

Kaiba prepares himself to give the most disparaging retort we can think of but Pegasus cuts the discussion short. “Can we please return to the damn duel already! Have sex after the tournament!”

STELLA: 3500 || MAYA: 4700

STELLA’S TURN: “You missed one important thing, Maya.” Stella declares. “My Chaofeng stops the Effects of DARK monsters. You’re strategy is shot! Chaofeng, destroy Dark Necrofear!” Her dragon easily burns away the darkness with the radiant light from its body. (MAYA LP: 4700 à 3600)

“Now, Wu’Tien, attack directly!”

Stella fell for the first trap, so Maya triggers her second one, “Light-Imprisoning Mirror!” Both of Stella’s monsters get coated with a halo of sorts, but one that pulls them down like dead weight, and with that, Maya shouts! “SPIRIT BURN!” A ghost, the one from Dark Necrofear’s baby doll, leaps out of Stella’s monster and shoots through Stella like a bullet, cutting away her Life and giving the spoils to Maya. (STELLA LP 3500 à 2100, MAYA LP 3600 à 5000).

Stella gasps in shock and frustration. “SHIT!” Maya is using a Dark Necrofear of original print! How did she get her hands on such a rare card! Regardless, Stella’s turn is over. “I set a card facedown.”

Now for Maya’s final trap. “I activate Destiny Board!” The deceased spirit of Dark Necrofear rises from the grave with a Ouija board, looming over Maya’s field, and moves its planchette to the first letter. A ghostly fiend rises forth with the first message: the letter “D”, as in “D”, “E”, “A”, “T”, “H”. Once Maya spells DEATH within four more turns, she will instantly win the Duel.

Stella gasps, her moods changing again within fifteen minutes: from terror to relief to annoyance to frustration to wonder. “And it’s not censored! That’s so cool! If only Mathias could see this!”

Matthew shrinks away in disgust, mumbling to himself. “Lousy hypocrite, using broken cards…” And he mumbled some more.

MAYA’S TURN: “Everything is in place,” Maya speaks to herself. “Let me built my counterattack while Stella is distracted. – I still didn’t draw Jewels of the Valiant. Crap.”

“I banish Dark Summoning Beast in my Graveyard to add a Sacred Beast to my hand, and so I send my 3 Triangle Force to the Graveyard to Special Summon Hamon, Lord of Striking Thunder!” The dark skies around them loudly bellow with lightning to herald, as trumpet fanfare, their lord.

“Preparations are not yet done. I discard Fluffal Bear from my hand to Set Toy Vendor from my Deck, then I activate it: I discard Fluffal Wings to draw a card.” Maya takes the vendor’s cheap prize and shrugs, discarding it: a useful Trap Card called Breakthrough Skill. “Anyway, I banish Fluffal Wings and Fluffal Bear, and destroy Toy Vendor, to draw 2 cards.” Once Maya did that, she used Toy Vendor’s other Effect to search for yet another Fluffal Wings, and she finally finished her chore.

Time to attack; Maya commanded her monster, “Hamon, launch your lightning at Chaofeng and destroy him!”

Maya’s monster is very large and intimidating indeed, but Stella easily stops it. “I play Storming Mirror Force!” All the sand of the island seems to gather around them as a hail storm and, raining hard on the lord of thunder, forces it to retreat back to Maya’s hand.

Maya sets a card and ends her turn in a huff.

STELLA’S TURN: “Maya, you’re Occult combo was an awesome surprise but that can’t beat me.”

“You know what they say, a player surprised if half beaten.” Maya says, winking at her.

“But only half. I’m not scared of Dark Necrofear and her aborted fetish baby, not even when they’re dead. If I intuit things right, Dark Necrofear’s Effect most likely resembled the modern print of Dark Sanctuary. Your Spirit Burn attack depends on the flip of a coin, like a fifty-fifty chance a fetus becomes a boy or a girl.”

“And what if it lands on its side?”

“Then we’ll call the little hellspawn transgendered and I’ll buy you a Bourbon, but only if you beat me.” Stella then clenches her fist, steeling her resolve, hoping luck is on her side. She drew a card she needed to seal Maya’s monsters forever, but she wants to hit Maya while she can, and Maya must play her part by destroying it.

“Wu’Tien, hit Maya directly!” Stella commands. The empress dragon does not, can not attack; the spirit possessing the field leaps out of her again, tearing away more of her life. (STELLA LP 2100 à 700, MAYA LP 5000 à 6400) Yet Stella is not frightened by such a move, she moves in for another attack, throwing her life to chance. And chance rewards her! Chaofeng smashed Maya with bars of light sprouting from its body, with no evil spirit blocking it. (MAYA LP 6400 à 3100)

Stella sets 2 cards, and as she ends her turn the spirit of Dark Necrofear spells another letter on her Ouija Board: “E”.

MAYA’S TURN: “I play the Trap Fiend Grieving: I return a Yang Zing monster from your Graveyard back to your Deck while I mill Graff, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, and use its Effect to Special Summon Cir, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss from my Deck.” Two fiends from the fourth malebolge arrive from Hell on schedule, but only one stays.

“I link up Cir to Link Summon Charono, Ferryman of the Burning Abyss, and use his Effect to Special Summon a second Graff, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss from my Deck.” The Link 1 monster rows his way through the air from the River Styx to the field, a humble yet dangerous monster.

“And more, I use my second Graff to Link Summon another Charono, Ferryman of the Burning Abyss, and use his effect to Special Summon Farfa, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss from my Deck, and my second Graff, now destroyed, does likewise, so I also call upon Scarm, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss!” Another ferryman appears with a couple of Fiends attending to him.

“I Tribute Summon Dark Summoning Beast and Tribute it to Special Summon Uria, Lord of Searing Flames from my Deck.” One of Maya’s ferrymen vanish to make way for a larger more savage creature, which in turn dissolves away to bring forth a large vicious red dragon. “And I use its Effect to destroy your facedown card.” The great red dragon emblazons with fury and destroys the hidden trap. Stella nearly jumps for joy, as Maya hit the jackpot, but she would never dare reveal it.

Thankfully for Stella, Maya can’t attack with Uria this turn. Still unfinished, Maya maneuvers even more through her convoluted dance, making Stella wish she drew the exact card sooner. “I overlay Farfa and Scarm to Xyz Summon Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss, and send Calcab to the Graveyard to Xyz Summon Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal!” The two fiends collapse to form the famous Dante, who sublimates in the eternal feminine to summon Beatrice.

And with the Effect of Calcab, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, Maya bounces one of Stella’s backrow cards to her hand. Stella doesn’t care, as Maya already fell into her trap. Regardless, Maya did assemble all the infernal society to her court.

Matthew moans in utter boredom at the sidelines, and hollers out to everyone, “Can you please finish your turn already!”

“If only I could.” Comes Maya’s replay. “The game would be far less tedious.” She resumes her turn yet again. “I activate Jewels of the Valiant and banish Dark Summoning Beast from my Graveyard to add the last Sacred Beast to my hand, and with that I use Jewels to mill a monster. I set a card and end my turn.”

Matthew sighs in relief, acting like a little boy when he finally gets a marshmallow his mother promised him.

Now it is Stella’s turn to sigh in relief. She said, “I’m sorry, Maya, but you fell into my trap. I activate The Lost Ark in my Graveyard! Since you destroyed it this turn, I can Set any Trap Card from my Deck facedown. You gave me exactly the card I needed to smash your occult combo!”

Maya is all too eager to see Stella try, for it would be boring if Maya did win with Destiny Board, and regains a fondness for Stella she did not feel in a very long time. But a duel is a duel, so she pretended to be nervous and incredulous. All she said was, “Bring it!”

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 22

Duel 22 – Huge Clash, Tiny Arena

Maya touched the hologram cards projected from her duel disk, moving them this way and that to edit her deck. Yes, she beat Maria but she was horrified at how bad her was; bit to the very sixty-card limit, it was bursting from the seams. The Sacred Beasts were powerful all right but they were unwieldy was a giant club. Maya took a few cards out, added a few more; Burning Abyss needed more support. She would deal with the Sacred Beasts later, but she had no time at the moment.

Stella quietly and solemnly made her way up to the arena, and Maya realized at this moment how tiny the arena truly was. People were like vast gulfs unknown fathoms deep, but blocked from each other by mountains. Games, at least this one, were a way to make the mountain vanish for a while, and when the two gulfs blend you get a tempest. Maya doubted any arena could contain such a thing.

Maya saved her file in her duel disk; her deck was ready. She said to Stella, “Ready to give everything you have?”

The air was very tense, and both duelists couldn’t properly breathe, but Stella did answer, “If we were any closer I would punch you in the face.”

“That’s the spirit!”

STELLA: 8000 || MAYA: 8000 

STELLA’S TURN: “No mercy, Maya! Here I come! I play Yang Zing Cycle, I tribute 3 Wyrm monsters to Ritual Summon Wu’Tien, Dragon Empress of Yang!” The famous yin-yang symbol appears behind her as three Chinese dragons dissolve into the yin half of the cosmos circle, then the empress of light flies out from the white dot in the darkness. “And with her Effect I revive Toatie, Shadow of the Yang Zing and Bi’an, Earth of the Yang Zing!” The dragons of shadow and earth, one large and muscular, the other small, appear beside their queen.

“I activate Qu’Tien again, destroying Taotie to draw a card, and from Taotie’s death I Special Summon Bixi, Water of the Yang Zing from the Deck.” Enter a new dragon of water, resembling a turtle, to replace the old one. “I tune Bixi and Bi’an to Synchro Summon Denlong, First of the Yang Zing, and use its Effect to searh for Zefraxi, Treasure of the Yang Zing, and I Normal Summon it.” Water and earth blend into a primitive dragon of white hot light, and a small dragon of jewels joins it. “I tune Denlong and Zefraxi to Synchro Summon Yazi, Evil of the Yang Zing, and from Denlong’s Effect I Special Summon Chiwen, Light of the Yang Zing!” A large black dragon of evil replaces the first dragon of light, taking its jeweled friend with it, but a new light dragon now joins the party, small and bright as a lightbulb.

“I play Soul Charge to revive Denlong, Pulao, and Taotie!” And three Chinese dragons return from the Graveyard, but Stella pays a steep price to make it so. (STELLA LP 8000 à 5000) It is well worth the effort. “I set a card facedown and end my turn.”

MAYA’S TURN: “I draw!” Maya finds Stella’s army formidable, but also amusing. She used to spam the field with monsters too, just a week ago in fact. Well, it is time to see if she truly matured in her strategy. “I set a monster and a back row card. I end my turn.”

“What?” Stella can’t make out such a move. She has an entire army of the Dragonstar Ten and Maya just baits her? She could at least set three cards or something like that! “You will pay for disrespecting me!”

STELLA’S TURN: “I’ll get rid of what little defenses you have. I use Yazi’s Effect to destroy itself and your back row!” Dragon and card shatter instantly.

Maya rejoices, “Good! You fell for my true trap! You destroyed Blaze Accelerator Reload, which triggers it’s Effect: I banish it to mill Volcanic Scattershot from my Deck, which lets me mill 2 more!” The cumulative power of all these moves is a tidal wave of fire; the disaster burns all of Stella’s monsters to a crisp before washing away the ashes. (STELLA LP: 5000 à 3500)

Almost all. Wu’Tien remains standing, as regal as ever. Stella let herself smirk at the result. “Sorry, Maya. That may work against Maria but not me! I had Wu’Tien pop one of my monsters to save herself, and you forgot one crucial fact: Yang Zing monsters can replace themselves! I call forth Jiaotu, Darkness of the Yang Zing; Bi’an, Earth of the Yang Zing; Suanni, Fire of the Yang Zing; and Pulao, Wind of the Yang Zing!” Four new dragons appear from the orient, with all the colors of the rainbow.

“Hmph!” Maya bushes away this new development with scorn.

“I tune all my Yang Zing monsters to Synchro Summon Chaofeng, Phantom of the Yang Zing!” The rainbow of dragons returns its source of white light, from which comes their emperor of many colorful flags. “I activate Path of the Yang Zing: I shuffle 3 Yang Zings back in the Deck and draw 2! Wu’Tien, slay the facedown monster!” The empress readily obeys her master, ironically, and splits the monster beneath it with her elegant curved sword.

The monster is Graff, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, but Maya knows she can’t use it, because Chaofeng stops all monster Effects with Attributes used to Synchro Summon it. In fact, the only monsters she can use for Effect purposes are LIGHT and WATER monsters, and she has none of the latter. And that’s not all! Chaofeng can’t be killed by battle or effected by Spells either. This is bad.

Stella holds the lights of joy and victory glinting in her blue eyes. “Chaofeng, hit Maya directly!” The great dragon hits Maya with a savage gust from its wings, propelling her on her back. (MAYA LP 8000 à 4700) “I end my turn. I told you I’d punish you for a flippant move!”

“And so you have.” Maya says in a nonchalant way as she resumes her posture, not revealing the extreme pain wracking her chest. Dueling is the last thing you should do with broken ribs. With every breath making Maya feel like she is being stabbed, it was a wonder indeed she didn’t faint from the first duel.

“However,” Maya reveals to her former lover, winking at her. “You showed your hand too early, and no army of Technicolor dragons can compensate.”

“I’m not worried. No amount of cockiness will cover that bluff.”

“But you should be, Stella. You walked away from me last duel. You don’t know all my strategies. Who is disrespecting who again?”

Stella bites her lip on hearing those words. Maya is right.

Matthew, that manchild, comes up with something he thinks is the cleverest idea in the world. He calls upon the dark powers Xiaoyi bequeathed him, once more smothering the arena in a fog so black no sunlight can pierce it. The young man laughs in a villainous triumph, “The ultimate shadow game has begun! Former lovers, now you are the bitterest enemies! For the ultimate sadistic choice, only one of you can make it out alive, the other dies! How ironic, the one person you once loved more than any other is the person you kill! Who will it be!”

Maya and Stella both freeze from the news, but only for a moment. They effortlessly laugh it all off, throwing Matthew into bewilderment and frustration. “Are you kidding me!” Stella shouts from up the arena. “Everyone wants to kill their ex! Lamest! Supervillain! Plotwist! Ever!” Before she convulses into coughs.

“NO!” Matthew screams. “NO! NO! NOOOOOOO! You’re supposed to be full of despair!”

Maya yells at him, “You’re not Jigsaw! Take a seat, you amateur, and shut up! We’re having couples therapy over here!”

“But Xiaoyi says I’m a special villain. When will it be my turn to win for once?” Matthew whimpers with his eyes staring at the ground, and that just causes Maya and Stella to ridicule him even more.

MAYA’S TURN: “Speaking of which, I play Triangle Force, letting me activate 2 more from my Deck, and I set two cards. Good luck, Stella.”

STELLA’S TURN: “I’ll punch your confidence to the dirt with Matthew, where both belong, and because it’s a shadow game, you’ll feel the damage for real.”

“Nearly getting my ribs broken twice felt pretty real.” Maya objects.

“Then wait until you see my Yang Zings nuke you like China would nuke Japan if they wanted to; monsters, attack!” The dragon empress swung her sword at Maya while her partner fired a volley of wind and thunder, blowing the typhoon over to knock out the puny human that stood in its way.

“You fell for my second trap!” Maya declared. “I activate my 2 Traps, Power Wall!” Maya mills a total of 13 cards from her Deck, and both dragon emperors are rendered impotent. “I can’t use Burning Abyss monsters, but I can activate Toy Vendor in my Graveyard, adding a Fluffal Bear from the Deck to my hand.”

“Damnit.” Stella grits her teeth in frustration, then makes a gentle laugh. “You are slippery snake, aren’t you.”

This left-handed complement makes Maya smirk ever so slightly; she says, “Oh please, Xiaoyi called me a snake too, and both of you embarrass me. A snake implies mystique and elegance, and I have neither, nor would I want them. I’m more like an ass or a pig: stubborn and shameless, but shrewd and with good memory.”

“So that’s why you don’t eat pork. It would be cannibalism.”

MAYA’S TURN: “I activate Toy Vendor from my hand, then I banish Fluffal Wings and Fluffal Bear, and destroy Toy Vendor, to draw 2.” And the vendor appears and vanishes with a snap of the fingers. “I use Toy Vendor’s Effect in the Graveyard, adding a Fluffal Wing to my hand.”

Maya gives herself pause at this moment to relish what will come “Yes, everything is in place! It’s time for a little old combo to come back from the grave.” Before Stella can even ask what that cryptic comment means, Maya says, “People look with nostalgia to the past, until they experience it again. I banish two Burning Abyss monsters and Tour Guide to Special Summon DARK NECROFEAR!”

The dark arena grows even darker, if such a thing is even possible, as a ghost haunts the field, its presence so eerie even Kaiba gets the chills. “Come out!” Stella shouts, her voice growing in fear. “Show yourself!” And the fiend obliges her, condensing into human form from the darkness: of a tall gaunt woman in dark blue skin, holding the cracked remains of a baby doll.

Stella’s fear turns into fury. “What are you trying to pull, Maya!”

And Maya answered. “Donkeys live very long. You’ve never seen a dead donkey, have you? I set two cards facedown. Attack me, if you dare.”

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 21

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I’m reading the collection of Orwell’s essays titled All Art is Propaganda. In one of those essays, Orwell discusses the big gap – chasm, really – between writ English and spoken English, and suggests ways to set spoken English down on paper. Internet chats, like on Facebook and Twitter and Reddit, create a bridge in their own unique way. What you read now is how I sound like when trying to explain something complex to someone, after I tidied it up a bit; taking out my Valley Girl “likes” and “you knows”, erasing repeated phrases, joining block sentences together to link ideas together – I mentioned this before – and so forth. I will try writing future chapters the way I tell a story to someone, with refining. 

I have a larger ambition to rebuild the English language as we speak it from the ground up. I try avoiding most words with more than three syllables unless I’m forced to for some reason. I try making real physical people do things, not abstract concepts that do not truly exist. Epistemic poststructuralism does not state truths, Derrida states truths. I try using the active tense as much as I can. I try replacing a person’s “state of being” with actions that person. I try avoiding any jargon as much as needed. Rather than merely state a general truth or theory, I SHOW it with concrete examples.

I know, I still write badly. I talk about how to write, so my Author’s Note is pretty abstract. I will probably violate my rules even more, but I will try. Writing prose like the spoken word is pretty hard, but I can be more forceful and direct. What do you think? 

Duel 21 – Two Sides of the Same Coin

Mokuba jumped up the pyramid’s platform to attend to Mathias’ body, amazing since he was so small and short, and Stella hid her teary face with her hands, no longer able to control her grief. The tournament hosts looked on at a distant space far out the arena as if nothing special happened; Kaiba cold and scowling, Pegasus bemused as if watching Funny Rabbit. Rex and Weevil cried out together in shock and huddled around Stella. Even Maria came over to lend Stella a hand over her shoulder.

But Maya remained numb; she was locked to the tiny space of the ground she stood on, unable to move. She looked on with such a daze her vision became unfocused, vaguely making out the blurs she saw to be the doctors Mokuba summoned hauling Mathias’ large corpse away, doubting she ever felt as helpless in her life as she felt right now.

Matthew happily hopped off the arena, as satisfied as a fat cat after a hearty meal; his inner darkness apparently got full from the shadow game version of Fancy Feast. But our inner darkness, whether vengeance or envy or greed, or in Matthew’s case all three, is a bottomless stomach. Nothing truly satisfies it. Matthew looked pretty smug at this point, whispering in Maya’s ear, “I just beat buffalo chicken pizza man at his best game. I doubt you can bear the girth of my dark powers in the final duel.”

Maya did find a way to express her emotions, badly as usual. She fisted Matthew in the stomach as hard as she could, only half aware of what she was doing, and Matthew returned her favor by kicking her cunt, and Maya gave him a facial, clocking him the jaw. Both playground children clutched their wounds after their scrap, but neither would dare say they were hurt.

“I didn’t know you were a man, Maya.” Matthew taunted her, as if she needed balls to be wounded in the crotch.

Maya admitted he was right. “At least I have balls. You have nothing to kick.” And both duelists parted on that note.

Maya arrived to the medical room, seeing Mathias lying comatose next to Hannibal. Rex and Weevil sat against the wall, Stella sitting on a chair near the hospital bed. “Full yourself together.” Maya told her with a stiff voice. “Our duel is in fifteen minutes.”

Stella shot up from the chair like a rocket and grabbed Maya’s shoulders. She shook her. Her friend’s brain just probably died and she just stood there like Kaiba! What is her problem! Stella pulled at Maya like she was a shut clam, trying to force her open, but Maya struck back like a stubborn ass, kicking Stella away. Maya gripped the ivi needle penetrating Mathias’ vein, ready to pull it out, and roared like a wild animal, “Want to know how I feel! I am so distraught and angry I don’t know who to kill more; I want to kill Matthew like I wanted to kill my dad for years for doing everything he did, but I want to kill Mathias for failing us the way my mom failed protecting me and decided to drop dead instead! Words cannot describe the satisfaction I felt when Mathias finally died!”

Maya and Stella stood at exactly the same height yet Maya menaced over her, her black locks seeming to stand up, making her look larger the way a beast does when threatened or enraged. Mokuba and his team of doctors arrived to protect their patients, Mokuba threatening Maya with an ominous taser gun. Maya was sure pissed but she wasn’t stupid. She backed away from Mathias’ body.

“I knew you were messed up but I never thought you were an abuser.” Stella told her. “But I should’ve known better; you had all the signs.”

“I never so much as squeezed you’re tits too hard when we were together.”

“Until now, when you could’ve given me a miscarriage if I was pregnant.”

“It doesn’t count. We’re not together anymore.”

“It does matter. You abuse friends. It will only be a matter of time when you abuse partners too, assuming you didn’t abuse anyone before you met me.”

Maya complained, “You know, I never have these problems with men. Be pretty, fuck him often, and a man is happy. A man is simple and reasonable, but a woman complicates all that is petty and unworthy of serious thought with their stupid feelings. What more did you want me to do when we were together, Stella? Did you want me to buy presents for you every day? Hug you and say ‘I love you’ every passing hour? Happily let you do anything you wanted even if you were wrong?”

Stella stood her ground; she stared the beast in the eye and did not budge. “No, Maya. That is not what I – what women – what everyone – what even you need. We all have emotional needs to keep our hearts full. I’m sorry your heart starved throughout your life, so of course you wouldn’t know how feed it or anyone else’s.”

Mobuka prodded them both, his patience gone. “Divorce court is open air. Out.”

The two women sulked away from the medical room, Maya mumbling, “Mokuba being assertive? That’s a new one.”

She held Stella’s hand with her own hand, as if saying sorry for the violence she did earlier. Stella said, “I totally get you hating your dad and all, but why hate your mother for dying? She didn’t decide to die from lung cancer.” Maya refused to say anything, but Stella understood. Maya’s mother could have stopped Maya’s father father from hitting Maya until she bled and burning her mother’s hands with boiling water, but did not. “Can you please forgive your mother and your father? They’re only human. Don’t do it for me, do it for yourself.” When Maya said no, Stella added with the right force, “You will never defeat Matthew’s dark powers as long as you have darkness inside.”

“Did Yugi tell you?” Maya could not help but make sarcasm. “You must’ve watched episode 134 because Yugi lectured Kaiba on that very thing, as if Yugi ever had any real demons. Then again, he supposedly is a reincarnated pharaoh or something stupid like that, which makes him a god anyway.”

“But he spoke the truth; it’s still valid.” Stella responded, keeping her voice firm. “Can you forgive your parents?”

Nothing embarrassed Maya more than airing her daddy issues, like dirty laundry, out in the spring air, but when she felt Stella tighten her grip on her hand, and vowed, “I know I don’t show sentiments easily. What other people show with feelings I show by deeds. I promise you, as certain as the sun directly above us, I destroy Matthew in the finals and restore Mathias and Hannibal to life. You have my word.”

Stella placed her other hand on Maya’s cheek, caressing it with all the warmth and softness of a spring breeze. “You have to beat me first, silly.”

Maya remembered their first date, when Maya dueled Stella for her affection and barely won. “Then it’s a date.” And Maya headed off to the arena.

Yugioh Created Cards (Duels 18-20)

MATTHEW’S CREATED CARDS:

Golden God Dragon
LIGHT/Dragon/Fusion-Synchro-Xyz-Link/Level-Rank 10/ATK 4000/no Link Arrows
4 Fusion, Ritual, Synchro, Xyz, or Link Dragon-Type monsters

  • Must first be Special Summoned from your Extra Deck by banishing 4 Fusion Materials you control of different Card Types (you do not use Polymerization). If this card was Special Summoned with the following Materials, it gains the the following Effects:
    • FUSION: If this card would be targeted by a Card Effect; you can banish 1 Dragon from your hand, field, or Graveyard. Negate and destroy your opponent’s card,
    • RITUAL: If this card would be destroyed; you can banish 1 Dragon from your hand, field, or Graveyard, and this card is not destroyed.
    • SYNCHRO: If this card destroys your opponent’s monster by battle: it can attack once more.
    • XYZ: If this card is destroyed; you can Special Summoned 1 banished Dragon during your next Standby Phase (ignoring all Summoning conditions.)
    • LINK: Once per turn during your Standby Phase; you can send 1 Dragon from your Deck to the Graveyard.

Dragon Buffer
Normal Trap

  • If a Dragon you control was destroyed this turn and you control no monsters: Special Summon 4 “Buffer Tokens” (EARTH/Dragon/Level 1/ATK 0/ DEF 0) in Defense Position.

 

Janur, the Dark Dragon Herald
DARK/Dragon/Level 4/1800 ATK/1600 DEF

  • You can banish this card from your Graveyard: Special Summon 1 Level 6 or lower Dragon from your Deck, and Special Summon 2 “Dragonshade Tokens” (DARK/Dragon/Level 1/200 ATK/200 DEF) on your opponent’s field.

 

MATHIAS’ CREATED CARDS:

Rainbow Return
Normal Spell

  • Special Summon 3 banished “Nordic” monsters. They cannot be used as Tributes and are banished at the end of this turn. You cannot attack or activate any other Spell or Trap Cards this turn.

Dimension Recycle
Continuous Spell

  • Once per turn: if one of your monsters was banished last turn; you can return 1 banished monster to your Graveyard.

Name Change
Continuous Spell

  • You can target up to 3 different monsters on the field. Target 1 monster; change its Name. After you activated this card 3 times: send it to the Graveyard.

ANIME CARDS:

Pump Up
Normal Spell

  • Target 1 monster you control: double its ATK until the end of this turn.

Ragonorak
Quickplay Spell

  • Activate this card if you control 2 monsters with the Names “Dark Magician”, “Dark Magician Girl”, “Magician of Black Chaos”, or “Dark Sage”. Banish all monsters in your hand, Deck, and Graveyard: destroy all monsters your opponent controls. This card’s activation and Effect cannot be negated, and all Effects that would prevent a monster from being destroyed cannot be activated.

 

 

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 20

Duel 20 – Clash of the Titans

Matthew draws his next card, forcing all his rage into the duel. He will kill Mathias, smash his head to the ground!

Matthew: 4000 || Mathias: 4000

MATTHEW’S TURN: “I activate Mound of the Bound Creator!” The Field Spell raises the pyramid top to the ground, four towers gilded with huge chains jettisoning to the top. The Act changes to another Scene. “Golden God Dragon, attack Thor!”

Mathias catches on to Matthew’s plan, thus countering, “I play Negate Attack! Your golden dragon’s Monster Effect is too slow to stop a Counter Trap!”

“As I foresaw.” Matthew then counters the counter. “Trap Jammer!” And the Trap Card shatters, and Thor shatters too. “And with Mound’s Effect, you take another 1000 damage!” Matthew commands thunder to spring from the four primeval pillars acting as lightning rods to strike Mathias down. (Mathias LP 4000 à 2500) Matthew snorts on seeing the pathetic sight, “Look how the mighty have fallen. I set a card.”

But as Matthew ends his turn, the frazzled Mathias jumps back to his feet, as strong as ever. “I banish a Nordic Beast from my Graveyard to revive Thor!” The smoky remains of the fire from Matthew’s dragon, gather together and blaze again, reforming the Nordic god, as if time is reversing. “And you take 800 damage.” Thor strikes Matthew down with lightning of its own from its fingertip, the impact knocking him to the ground. (Matthew LP 4000 à 3200)

“You’re pathetic, Matthew, to see you struggle from one little bolt.” Mathias scoffs at his would be student. “I set a card and end my turn.” On the inside of the mind, Mathias mulls over his strategy yet again. Matthew is like a glass cannon; he inflicts more damage but has a much weaker body. Perhaps Mathias can win the war of attrition and he won’t need to play his dangerous trump card. Atem used it against Malik in the Battle City finals, as it was the only Spell that could destroy the nigh invincible Winged Dragon of Ra. Matthew’s Golden God Dragon is clearly a similar beast.

MATHIAS’ TURN: “I use Dimension Recycle to return a banished Nordic monster. I switch Thor and Loki to Defense Position and set two cards facedown.” Mathias holds a small glimmer of hope. He drew one piece of the puzzle needed to defeat Matthew. 

MATTHEW’S TURN: The young man lifts himself up with much effort, recovering slowly, but he powers through. His small reveal of weakness is humiliating enough. Speaking of which: “3000 ATK plus monsters in Defense Position? Have you no shame?” He snorts at such cowardice. “Let me fix that for you: Final Attack Orders!” The two Nordic Gods stand once more ready for battle.

“Golden God Dragon, destroy Thor!” Under Matthew’s command, his dragon incinerates Thor once more. “And Mound deals you 1000 damage.” Matthew comments, gathering thunder from the pillars once more.

Mathias stands prepared, and acts at the key moment. “I activate Cosmic Cyclone! I banish your Mound of the Bound Creator!” A raging storm sweeps over the arena, dissolving Matthew’s Field Spell and returning everyone to the pyramid Scene.

“But you lose 1000 Life to play it, and soon you’ll lose far more. The result is the same!” Matthew argues back in resentful defiance, his golden dragon’s flames burning Mathias once more, but the Saint refuses to back down. (Mathias LP 2500 à 1000) “I set a card facedown.”

“And Thor rises again to deal you 800 damage.” Mathias counters, reviving Thor again through the usual means. “Now bow before God!” Thor strikes Matthew again, forcing him on his knees. (Matthew LP 3200 à 2400)

Matthew struggles back on his feet, grumbling, “You’re deadliest sin, pride, will come back to haunt you, Mathias.”

“Touché. Now it’s my turn.”

MATHIAS’ TURN: “I reuse Dimension Recycle once more to return a Nordic Beast monster. I play Pump Up on Thor!” His Spell doubles the god’s ATK to the 7000! The Lord of the Aesir busts in a golden aura, shattering his cloak and armor, its muscles bulging into terrible huge shapes.

Weevil and Rex duck for cover, both crying out, “Oh God, it turned into a Super Saiyan!”

“Thor, slay the dragon!” Mathias’ giant swings its hammer about to strike the head off its enemy. Thor swings in, coming centimeters close to ending the duel.

But Matthew wills the duel to continue; such is he, driven by an infernal hatred. “I play Storming Mirror Force! Now your God will bow before me!” But Mathias refuses, activating Trap Stun. But Matthew has a countermeasure in store. “I play Widespread Ruin!” But Mathias is one step ahead of him, activating Loki’s Effect to dispose of the Trap. But Matthew is yet another step ahead. “I activate Divine Wrath!” He discards a card from his hand; judgment reigns from on high to punish the trickster Nordic god for its impudence; while Thor is obliterates in an explosion from Matthew’s booby trap.

Mathias grits his teeth in frustration but feels a flicker of pride, not for himself but for Matthew. “That was an amazing chain. You would give Maya a hell of a fight in the finals, and I would want to see that more than anyone else. But you’re dueling me! I revive Loki and Thor, returning a Trap Card to my hand and giving you 800 damage.” The two gods reform from the darkness as if nothing happened to them, and Thor flicks Matthew with another thunderbolt. (Matthew LP 2400 à 1600)

MATTHEW’S TURN: “I destroy Thor with Golden God Dragon!” The cycle repeats; Matthew’s dragon wipes out Mathias’ Thor; Mathias revives Thor and deals Matthew his just desserts.

Both duelists have reached their limits, with Mathias standing at 500 Life while Matthew clings on to 800 Life. Matthew fairs far worse among the two, his legs warbling, his body slightly crouched and leaning ahead as if he is on shaking ground. Mathias looks a little worse for wear but he retains good shape with his usual confidence.

Yet Mathias’ resilience does not sooth Maya and Stella’s worries any bit. Mathias may look good but he is losing the duel, and if he does lose… he will fall into a coma as Hannibal did a mere two hours ago. Mathias has been nothing but a good friend to them, his odd affection rubbing off on them throughout the tournament. Mathias seemed so invincible both women forgot he was mortal after all, but now his very real chance of dying struck them with awful realization, like a poisoned dagger to the heart.

Stella recalls how she took her mother’s very existence completely for granted until she got breast cancer, and Maya paid for her surgery, greatly easing the financial burden. The same fears overtake her and the same tears well in her eyes, ready to fall at the slightest push.

Maya recalls her own mother, sweet and deeply warm yet never smiling, succumbing from her own cancer. She witnessed her mother’s dying in full, down to the death rattle leaving her throat and the light leaving her eyes, but felt nothing, overwhelmed by a kind of numbness. It was as if the conflicting emotions of grief on the one hand and a perverse kind of satisfaction on the other would tear the young girl to pieces if they warred against the other, so her body shut them down.

MATHIAS’ TURN: Mathias draws his next card. YES!!! The last piece of the puzzle! Finally the nightmare would end and he would have a blast taking Maya out in the finals and – one great Red Dragon would remain; he. Will it not prove him to be the evil the Headmaster had predicted?

“I set 2 cards…”

MATTHEW’S TURN: “I activate Night Beam, popping your middle facedown card!” Surely enough, a surveillance camera of sorts emerges from the darkness, fries the hidden Trap Card, Trap Stun, and discreetly dissolves away to whence it came. “I set a card and end my turn.”

MATHIAS’ TURN: The Saint gathers his courage to draw his last card. The moment of judgment is at hand. He pleads to his God with a quick and silent prayer; please may Matthew not win and the Headmaster’s prophecy not come to pass. “I activate the Set Spell Name Change! I treat Odin as ‘Dark Magician’, Thor as ‘Dark Magician Girl’, and Loki as ‘Magician of Black Chaos’! Now, my true Spell Ragnorak!”

Mathias banishes every monster he owns except for his Nordic gods, the field flooding with a spiraling train of Matthew’s monsters, the precession so grand it even catches the stoic Kaiba and Maria off guard. Maya and Stella jump with hope, even hugging each other for a second before remembering how they hated each other.

Pegasus tosses his hands in the air. “HALLELUJAH!” He ejaculates in adulation.

“I banish a Dragon from my Graveyard to save my monster!” Matthew cries, but Mathias soon corrects him. Ragnorak can’t be negated and no monster can avoid destruction. Odin, Thor, Loki, all three gods embrace Matthew’s one god, trapping it in a magic circle. A column of bright searing gold falls from the sky to the earth to return the golden dragon to its origins.

With Matthew’s field clear of monsters, Mathias can make an attack. “Now my Lords of the Aesir, smite the sinner and grant me victory!” The three Nordic gods strike Matthew with their strongest attacks – except they don’t. All the attacks bounce away from their target as if Matthew is protected by a massive wall, which he is. His Golden God Dragon has returned!

Mathias is dumbstruck. How!? Then he sees Matthew’s Permanent Trap: Dimension Gate. Matthew must have secretly banished his own monster when the beam of light from Ragnorak struck it, which should have finished Matthew off but only gave him the key to victory.

“You could have beaten me!” Mathias gasps in shock. “Why did you not attack last turn?”

Matthew smirks. “Pity.”

Matthew seizes the chance to victory, launching his devastating attack. “Dragon, kill him.” The Golden God Dragon rises into the black sky as a phoenix and crashes down on Mathias, the field overtaken in a deadly tornado of flames. Mathias screams in the agony of the damned, his Nordic gods burn away to ash, the finalists duck for cover.

Mathias thinks of his comrades, Dan and Ivy, once more, telling his heart he loved them, as if he could send his thoughts beyond the flames and darkness around him to reach them, and blacks out. His vengeance satisfied, Matthew calls upon his Golden God Dragon to leave. The flames die down, the dragon returns to the sky, the darkness lifts to reveal Mathias laying motionless on the ground. The Saint has fallen.

Matthew: 800 || Mathias: 0

 

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 19

Duel 19 – Dead Stalemate

Matthew has just summoned his ace monster, the Golden God Dragon, while Mathias lags behind, holding only two Nordic Gods in his camp. The duel rages on.

Matthew: 4000 || Mathias: 4000

MATTHEW’S TURN: “It’s time you feel the full power of all my dark magic.” He stretches out scaled mangled hand as far as he can, gathering the dark storm around him in a tighter and tighter swirl. “But more than that, I want to show how I am strong enough to be a Saint!”

“No amount of secondhand dark magic will make me proud of you.” Mathias gives his rebuttal. “Might as well show me a used car. Xiaoyi, your current ‘master’, sold you cheap, pretending your car was brand new.”

Matthew throws himself into a blind rage upon hearing those words, calling on the darkness, throwing bolts of black lightning wherever he can. Everyone drops down, fearing for their lives, except Mathias who calls upon his Ka to protect them; two wide golden-bronze wings form out of the darkness, embracing the field around him. Matthew’s shoots his angry bolts as hard as he can until he wheezes from fatigue, but none of them pierce through Mathias’ guard.

Mathias allows all of his Ka spirit to materialize from the darkness: Horus the Black Flame Dragon. And he gives Matthew utter reproach, “You’re an Aston Martin Lagonda; an old-fashioned dork trying to be cool and edgy. You can’t even decide if you want to be a sports car or not. But I am a 1961 Jaguar; mature as old wine, an honored classic. Xiaoyi sold you as a used car and will throw you away like a used condom when all is said and done, even if you win this tournament.”

Maya finds too much vault in Mathias’ words to bear, so she has to speak. “Is not pride a deadly sin, Mathias? If any Pixar movie deals with hubris it’s definitely not Cars. – And old wine is overrated, by the way. Make sure you’re not a bottle of concentrated grape juice, because that tastes like –––––, ––––––, and ––––– on a –––––, but if you like serving that ––––– be my guest.”

Matthew grows tired of this banter. “I’m getting my metaphors confused; am I car or do I drive a car, am I used for protection, or are we in Beauty and the Beast!? And how do you know about Xiaoyi!?”

“I saw her come to your rescue in our battle in Cairo.” Mathias explains. “And seeing her Ka spirit she most likely gave you knockoff of her dark powers. I divined who she was by using the dark magic known as GOOGLE!”

Matthew groans and rolls his eyes. “I’m tired of your lame jokes.” He calls upon the darkness to distillate a dark cloud, which forms into Matthew’s own Ka spirit: Horus the Black Flame Dragon. A moment passes where both duelists look at each other as if through a mirror, then Matthew distillates his spirit inside his Golden God Dragon.

“My powers are at maximum! Dragon, destroy Odin!” And his monsters beats its giant wings, crashing Odin into pieces, but not before the Nordic king of gods strikes the dragon in the heart with an attack of its own. “I banish a Dragon in my Graveyard to save it.” Matthew declares. “Your monster on the other hand…” The dragon’s wave of flames, amplified by Matthew’s dark powers, sweeps over Mathias; burning his skin and singing his clothes. Mathias gasps in shock. Matthew really isn’t kidding.

But as Matthew ends his turn, Mathias makes a move of his own: “I banish a Nordic Ascendant from my Graveyard to revive Odin and draw 1 card.” His wizened elder god returns to play.”

MATHIAS’ TURN: “I activate Dimension Recycle! Once per turn: I return a banished monster to its grave, and this turn I choose the monster I just banished.” The master duelist analyzes the field. Their battle will be a war of attrition, not just between the gods themselves but the duelists as well. “Odin, attack Golden God Dragon!” And his god calls upon a mighty blizzard only for Matthew to banish another Dragon to save from certain death. Odin, however, dies again, but the ice storm it conjured assails Matthew with hard pelts, bruising him.

The battle makes Mathias realize how hard his task will be. Matthew has at least ten Dragons in his Graveyard, not even counting the ones that may be in his hand. He must use a different plan, and bide his time for now. “I activate Dimensionhole: banishing Loki until my next turn.” The massive Loki shrinks into a dwarf, then disappears.

“I set a monster facedown. You’re move. If you think you’re worthy enough to be a Saint, prove it by beating me.” As he speaks those very words, Odin resurrects from the Graveyard; Mathias banishes a monster from the Graveyard and draws a card.

MATTHEW’S TURN: “With pleasure, old fool! Dragon, attack Odin!”

Just as Mathias wants. “I activate Shift, switching your dragon’s attack!” Matthew scoffs at the play. Is Mathias an idiot? Golden God Dragon can’t be targeted! – But wait! Odin and the mystery monster disappear and reappear in an instant, the unknown creature revealed to be Super-Nimble Mega Hamster before it dies. Mathias allows himself a tiny smirk to help lighten his mood. “Shift technically targets my monster, not yours.”

“Stupid gerbil…” Matthew grumbles, his plans foiled.

Hamster, Matthew. Life is in the details. And with its Effect I set a Level 3 Beast facedown, but I also activate Tanngnjostr of the Nordic Beast, Special Summoning it from my hand.” A goat of dark fur leaps from Mathias’ hand unto the field in Defense Position.

MATHIAS’ TURN: “My turn begins, and so Loki returns.” And Loki does return, but in a normal Monster Zone, meaning Mathias has space for one more god. “I flip Tanngrisnir of the Nordic Beasts faceup and put Tanngnjostr in Attack Position, which means I use it’s Effect to Special Summon Guldfaxe of the Nordic Beasts from my Deck.” A fiery steed joins the company of the dark and light goats. “I tune all three to Synchro Summon THOR, LORD OF THE AESIR!” His monsters transform into majestically big rings and stars, and from this portal the hearty and barbarous Thor, the last Nordic God, arrives.

“I use Dimension Recycle to return my banished Nordic Ascendant monster, and end my turn.”

Everyone gazes at the three Nordic Gods in awe. – Weevil almost soils himself just from remembering his last match with Mathias. – Even Matthew enjoys the sublime sight. “So this is the Holy Trinity assembled. It’s beautiful, but I have a question: how does the Holy Trinity go to the bathroom anyway? Is it three mouths, one bowel?”

Mathias darkened his features on hearing such blasphemy. “What do you mean?”

So Matthew accounts his argument: “I learned that a God can’t exist, at least not a good one. Otherwise there would be no suffering in the world. I would still be America’s national champion. I would never have lost everything, even the memory of my grandfather. I would have never spiraled in depression. I would not be here now.”

“I won’t dignify such a petulant opinion.” Mathias barks back. “Did your dog die too? Everyone suffers. We would not be human nor have free will without suffering, gifts so sacred not even the angels have them.”

Matthew sighs, shaking his head in wistful melancholy. “Me being rich and famous meant something deeper: that everyone had a unique place in the world and a rightful destiny along with it. I was rich and famous because I had a higher nobler soul. I stopped believing in God since I was ten; it simply fazed out, but I understand how my views came from a God I no longer believed in. Everyone had a unique place, but team Dark Duelists,” He glances at Maya for half a second, “chose their own destiny, and they won.”

Mathias offers his wisdom: “Yes, we are made in God’s image, but we are fallen creatures. Yet we always have a choice; we can strive to realize God in virtue and perfection in whichever way is best for us. God gives us the power to choose, but nothing more. Our mothers give us a little push, and we walk on two feet from there onward. We can never be like God, but it is always a goal worth striving for, and it is our imperfection that gives us infinite potential.”

“That is a rather existential way of being a Christian.” Maya comments. She expects nothing less from Mathias. Borrowing from the Saint’s worldview, she speaks to Matthew, “As you were once Christian, you will understand your soul will reach a final destination, which reflects nothing less than what you chose. Thy will be done. Do you will to spiral into madness, burning yourself out as you do so? Do you will to be a pawn for an uncaring marshal, a little piece who gets sacrificed, then is forever forgotten?”

Maya hopes her words will edify Matthew in some way, but they do not. The rogue young man clenches his first so hard his untrimmed nails pierce the skin. “I am no pawn! I am a king!” Matthew shouts in defiance to the world. “I don’t follow some stupid God as sheep Christians do! When I win this tournament, my dark powers will be complete! I will make my own world as a man, the highest stage of evolution!”

Maya bursts into laughter, while oddly burning with anger at the same time, as Matthew’s little manifesto is silly and infuriating. “You jumped from reactionary Christian to reactionary atheist. Congratulations! I tip my fedora to you. What will you do with your boundless power after you win, my Ubermensch? I bet nine times out of ten you will bitch about women not dating you, then you will shoot up a school before killing yourself. If your grandfather could see you, he would disown you.”

“Maya NO!!!” Mathias screams in fear, but it is too late. Matthew screams as a lunatic, careening off the deep end, his dark powers bursting with terrible lightning storms around him, threatening to destroy the entire pyramid with his blind rage. Mathias once more extends his metaphysical wings to protect the arena, but his powers could only protect the finalists from Matthew’s direct attacks, not from its devastating effects.

Stella hops away from the cracks in the ground threatening to cave the entire duel arena, admonishing to Maya, “You said that just to piss him off, didn’t you?”

“Of course!” Maya shouts to Stella over the earthquake growling beneath them.

“Typical! Just typical!”

 

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 18

Duel 18 – Advent of the Titans

“THE SEMIFINALS BEGINS NOW! MATTHEW CARTER VERSUS MATHIAS BLACKHEART!”

Matthew Carter and Mathias Blackheart ignored Isono’s declarations, as well as all the other duelists coming to watch the battle. They would duel at their own pace. Mathias timidly opened the first volley of the duel; words: “Perhaps you are angry about five years ago, when you wanted to be a Saint and I rejected you.”

Matthew shook his head in a casual way, which was surprising. “I am not. You beat me in a duel but told me, in essence, that I was selfish, petty, and lacked imagination. I was reactionary, a fatal flaw to you, and you know what? That’s fine. I understand how everything means so little.”

These remarks truly puzzled Mathias, but he knew better than to ask. He would find his answers in the duel. “Matthew, if you’re having an existential crises, do yourself a favor and pay a shrink to deal with your issues. You have more than enough money.”

“Touche, Blackheart.” Matthew stretched his ruined his right as a demon’s claw, his magic blocking out the sun and all the sweet island around with an oppressive black mist. The shadow game had begun.

Matthew: 8000 || Mathias: 8000

MATTHEW’S TURN: “I set a monster and two cards. A right timid opening; the student copies the master.”

MATHIAS’ TURN: “Very well. You gave me an opening, and I will use to full effect! I Normal Summon Valkyrie of the Nordic Ascendant, and use her Effect: I banish two Nordic Monsters to Special Summon 2 Einherjar Tokens. I tune them all to Synchro Summon ODIN, FATHER OF THE AESIR!” One Valkyrie – no, three – surprisingly sweet and mild, offer themselves to the father god. Finding the offerings to his liking, the lord of all Nordic monsters appears.

“Odin, destroy Matthew’s monster!” The god stretches his hand. He smites the hidden creature with ease. “I set a card.”

Before Mathias could say, “You’re move.” Or something like that, Matthew ended the turn for him, “I play Dragon Buffer!” Matthew’s Trap conjures 4 Buffer Tokens made of stone.

MATTHEW’S TURN: “Bringing it all out, I see. I want nothing less from the master. I want you to justify to me why you are a master who can reject prospecting students.”

“I am because I said so.” Mathias tersely rebukes the insolent young man. “Now SHUT UP and make your move! No one talks more than I do!”

“I will let my cards speak louder than you ever could. I link 2 Dragon Buffers to Link Summon Hieratic Seal of Celestial Spheres, and activate Polymerization, fusing the other 2 Dragon Buffers to Fusion Summon The First of the Dragons!” Two dragons appear; an ascendant trinity of spheres floating above and a primitive dragon yet to develop arms and legs crawls below.

“I banish the monster you destroyed; Janur, the Dark Dragon Held, to Special Summon Horus the Black Flame Dragon LV6!” A silver hawk-headed dragon with a hawks head, a smaller version of Mathias’ own spirit Ka, bursts from a torrent of flames below, screeching loudly to announce its coming. “But I have a gift for you, Mathias, you get 2 Dragon Shade Tokens on your field. Horus, destroy one of them!” Matthew’s dragon dissipates the shadow with its fiery breath as darkness vanquishes light. “I end my turn, and with it Horus LV6 evolves into Horus the Black Flame Dragon LV8!” The silver dragon bursts in flames, growing larger, its scales turning from silver to bronze-gold.

The whole event triggers a series of flashbacks within Maya. Matthew conjured Horus within their very first duel, and that’s how he beat her. Is he now trying to tell her a message? The Horus Deck Matthew used at the time was a secondary deck, a fun deck he took for a spin, but now he merged Horus into his real deck. Maya is impressed, not just by Matthew but from Maria, even from Weevil of all people. She has the challenge she wanted.

Mathias, meanwhile, is too stricken to make his move. Matthew grows impatient, demanding why, and Mathias answers, “As you know, we Saints are based in an Irish monastery, sworn to protect the world from evil. The Headmaster warned with a prophecy, that the Devil would reveal himself to us as a great red dragon, threatening to destroy the world. I know it sounds like a lame movie plot, but…”

Mathias breathed deeply and concentrated, letting his spirit Ka grow out of him. He throws all caution to the wind of how the people of the world will react when they see that ancient magic is real. Matthew reveals his own Ka, with even less care.

All of this pleases Matthew greatly. “No matter how this duel ends, you lose the game. If I win, the Devil destroys the world. If you win, well, you might be the Devil after all.” Mathias, the mighty Saint, is only human after all.

MATHIAS’ TURN: “Don’t get cocky, brat! If I am the Devil, you have Hell to pay!” Odin, strike down the Hieratic Spheres!” The Spheres shine from their pleasant yellow glow to a harsh white light; Matthew is using their Effect to try to bounce Odin. But Mathias has none of it. “I activate Breakthrough Skill, negating your Spheres!”

“Oh no.” Matthew gasps, the Hieratic Spheres burn out into orbs of black ash. Odin smites the pagan Spheres as the Lord smote Sodom and Gomorrah, and likewise the wrathful hail of fire strikes Matthew down. (Matthew LP 8000 à 4000)

Mathias uses the object lesson to admonish Matthew, “This is why you cannot be a Saint. You got cocky, so you blundered, and suffered my wrath.”

Matthew revives himself with great strength and groaning, but is hardly deterred. Calmly, he explains, “As you know, Hieratic Spheres requires me to tribute a Hieratic monster, and that monster was Hieratic Dragon of Su. And as you know, when a Hieratic Dragon gets tributed, I Special Summon a Normal Dragon from my Deck. Appear now, Hieratic Seal of the Sun Dragon!” A new sphere appears in the air, but far larger, and as bright as the sun itself.

Mathias easily sees his upstart opponent’s ploy. “So you have a contingency plan. I’m genuinely impressed. You know what truly disappoints me, Matthew? It is your squandered potential; how you have the right intellect of a Saint but a perverse will. Do what you will. Gather your Materials to Summon your Golden God Dragon.”

MATTHEW’S TURN: “If you insist, old man. I overlay Horus LV8 and Hieratic Seal to Xyz Summon Galaxy-Eyes Cipher Dragon and overlay it to Xyz Summon Number 95: Galaxy-Eyes Dark Matter Dragon!” His two large golden dragons give way to a new dragon as black as night, its wings so vast they cover the entire field. “And with its Summoning comes its Effect: I mill 3 Dragons from my Deck.” And Mathias banishes 3 monsters from his.

“Dark Matter Dragon, destroy Mathias’ pathetic Dragon Shade Token!” And the dark dragon easily absorbs such a tiny shadow into itself. “I set a card and end my turn.”

“I set a card and end my turn.”

MATHIAS’ TURN: “I set 1 card facedown.”

MATTHEW’S TURN: “Dark Matter Dragon, destroy Odin!” Matthew declares with an animals ferocity, letting all his hate and anguish boil to the surface.

“You asked for it!” Mathias shouts in defiance. The two huge beasts clash in a spectacular struggle, but only the dark dragon remains. Odin falls, its collapse nearly shattering the entire dueling arena.

Matthew’s plan gains momentum, and its author dare not stop it. “I activate Xyz Reborn, reviving Dark Matter Dragon!” Matthew’s monster reappears as a stylized ankh; it glows, then transforms back to its old self. “Attack Mathias directly with your greatest attack!” The dark dragon strikes Mathias down with a sphere of black lightening, throwing the Saint to the very edges of the field. (Mathias LP 8000 à 4000)

Mathias chuckles in amusement and spits blood from his mouth. “Looks like the prep school brat can pack a punch after all. I guess we’re now even.”

Matthew sets a card, ending his turn.

MATHIAS’ TURN: “I play Pot of Acquisitiveness, returning 3 banished monsters to my Deck and drawing a card. Next, Rainbow Return! I bring back 3 banished Nordic monsters to the field but I can’t attack this turn!” Matthew and the other finalists can see the vague form of a vast tree, the World Tree, behind Mathias, and a rainbow spiraling it, and through it the monsters Svartalf of the Nordic Alfar, Tanngnjostr of the Nordic Beasts, and Mimir of the Nordic Ascendant return.

“I tune them all to Synchro Summon LOKI, LORD OF THE AESIR! I SUMMON THEE!” Lightning from high above destroys the three offerings, and the great trickster god is summoned.

Weevil blinks three times, remarking, “Mathias Summoned Loki before Thor? What alternate dimension are we living in?”

“I don’t care!” Rex grabs Weevil with all his strength, the two huddling together. “I’m scared!”

“I hope you’re not a pussy like those two.” Mathias challenges Matthew, pointing to Rex and Weevil below. “You’re move, kid.”

MATTHEW’S TURN: “Challenge accepted, prick. I activate Pre-Preparation of Rights, adding a Ritual Monster and Ritual Spell to my hand. And here they come: Hymn of Light; I Tribute a monster in my hand to Ritual Summon Saffira, Queen of Dragons!” A generic Hieratic monster appears, dissolves into white shards, and reorders itself into a graceful sapphire dragon. “I use her Effect to draw 2 cards, then discard 1. I next activate Monster Reborn, reviving my Hieratic Spheres!” The trinity of bright orbs takes to the sky once more.

“My Materials are all in place! I banish them all to Super Transcendent Dimension Summon my greatest servant; GOLDEN GOD DRAGON!” His monsters transform into four celestial rings: one violet, one blue, one black, and one dark blue. All align into one column, appearing from everyone’s point of view as four circles reflected from a point of light far above, each lower circle bigger than the one above it. The light flares, shooting through all rings, and the titanic gold dragon forms gradually, a higher dimension being slipping through the lowly third dimension.

Mathias says, “Super Transcendent Dimension Summon. Really?”

“Yes, I made it up because it was cool!” Matthew protests, his pride scorned. “Burn me at the stake, will you!”

“Sweet Irish Jesus, you are a pretentious twat.”

“Says the guy ignoring that black Jew witch over there!” Matthew points indignantly at Maya. “That woman is trying to be the next Beethoven, but with children’s card games!”

Maya shrugs the petulant insult off her shoulders without a care in the world. “A game can be a sport and an art. – You know, half and half. – This one tournament raked in five times the money the Super Bowl did. Not like I had the opportunity to refine my better talents, unlike someone I know.”

Matthew’s voice changes suddenly, dropping an octave into a low threatening growl. “You ruined my life.”

“You ruined your own life.” Maya quickly strikes back. “You had four years to recover after I beat you. When you beat me, I didn’t even have one day.”

“Believe me when I say this,” And Matthew swears under the sun. “Once I beat the Saint I will bury you, the Devil, next.”

“Guess your shit granddad should’ve named you Michael.” Maya’s remark throws Matthew into a terrible tantrum; the man curses the entire world, even his grandfather for daring to be his idol only to be broken.

Kaiba has enough, throwing a terrible tantrum of his own. “I don’t care who the Devil is! The Inquisition is over! Continue your witch trial after the duel!” He curses at Mathias in a low voice, “Goddamned Catholics.”

“I HEARD THAT!”

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 17

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Trying to curb the long sentences, but I still want to convey nuance of the characters, and I dislike block sentences. Let’s see how things work out now.

Duel 17 – Hollywood Sickness

Sophia and Yukio had taken the first flight back to New York as soon as the finalists had boarded Kaiba’s jet to that mysterious island to fight in the finals. Jolene had greeted them at as soon as they entered her apartment to stay for the night, showing sweet kisses on their faces, and had quickly joined them to watch the finals live on TV. Even JC had arrived, returning from Chicago to his home city and reuniting with old friends, to see the great event unfold before their eyes.

With the intense quarterfinals finished at this point, everyone took a break they sorely needed, even though they did not duel themselves, taking out Thai food and watching YouTube videos. Jolene set up her Google Plus, calling Maya with it…

Nothing came through to her phone on the other side. JC, grumpy as usual, gave a loud deep snort. Of course Kaiba and Pegasus wanted their finalists to be totally isolated! With no one to help them, they could only rely on themselves. Yukio agreed but added that the finalists would, through battle, alone, would mirror nothing less than each other’s hearts. Sophia added her own view; this is what Maya wanted. Such a contest was bound to happen sooner or later.

JC slapped Yukio in the back, scoffing: “That’s weird!” He pointed at Sophia, almost hitting her nose with his finger. “You’re weird! You’re all weird, like Saiyans from Dragonball Z! You have a death wish where you push yourself to your limits and die trying, don’t you?”

“Hey, I thought that was what you wanted.” Yukio said with a twinkle in his eye. “You ranted on the Internet four years ago how about how you wanted to die young in a ball of glory, fully aware that you were dying, instead of dying in sleep an old man. A lot has changed in four years.”

Jolene took advantage of the opportunity to eat all the Thai food she could, but Sophia endeavored to do the same, and they scrapped each other with chopsticks.

Jolene remarked: “Jeez! This little thing bites after all!”

“I’m taller than you.” Sophia reminded her.

“By one inch!” said Jolene.

JC and Yukio gave each other knowing glances, enjoying the show but wishing more. The only thing better than a catfight was a naked catfight, and our young men were very happy inside.

But Jolene had a very different idea, pulling out a deck of tarot cards, setting five of them in a diamond shape, the fifth card as the center. JC and Yukio balked at her; JC screeching how dumb and gay and stupid and fat and gay and irrational were New Age things like tarot cards; Yukio snidely commenting how Jolene needed to stop rubbing crystal balls and start rubbing other balls instead, if you what I mean.

Maya would have used a booster pack of random Yugioh cards to predict a mundane and ridiculous event that was bound to happen; like Jolene would shit her bowels out after eating too many chili dogs in a party with friends after Maya returned. In fact, she actually did that four years ago. Jolene scoffed at the idea; eating chili dogs was a vice JC indulged in, not she.

Sophia, however, was tolerant, and said nothing.

Jolene flipped the first card, representing the past: “The Devil; we have been enchained to our base desires, our lusts, our materialism; in the throws of the depths of the unconscious.” She flipped the second card, representing the present. “The Thunderstruck Tower reversed; the impact of sudden, groundbreaking change, is not as severe as we fear and is avoidable, or we are trying out hardest to prevent change, unwilling to let go of what we are used to.” And the last card, the future: “The Fool reversed; recklessness, poor timing, naivety, fear of taking risks and settling for the mundane… None of this makes any sense.”

Yukio waxed philosophical, “What is human life but a gant clusterfuck where we attempt to find meaning when there is none.”

“I told you tarot cards were dumb and gay and stupid and fat and gay and irrational.” JC grunted, and he proceeded to convert Jolene to extreme atheism; not that gay mealy-mouthed agnostic shit, real atheism. “Have you ever heard of Christopher Hitchens, our Lord and Savior?”

“I heard he is a fat drunk.” Jolene said, infuriating JC to argue with her. Yukio jumped to her defense and took up the lively mockery of a debate in her. He was no longer her boyfriend but still sometimes acted like one.

Sophia looked in the mirror in boredom, but what she saw caught her eye. The tarot cards seemed to make sense now; the Fool for the past, the Thunderstruck Tower for the present, the Devil reversed for the future, and behind them all lay a small globe of the earth.

————————————————————–

Maya searched the whole island for Stella but in vain, checking the steps of the pyramid, the sandy road to the large cabin, including each room inside. Stella was nowhere to be found.

Maya noticed how the paintings of each bedroom for each finalist vaguely reflected the inner natures of their tenants: Matthew’s room crowned with gold pyramids and obelisks; Hannibal’s room adorned with wistful Greek ruins; Weevil’s room like a diorama from the American Museum of Natural History; Mathias’ room a pale copy of Michelangelo’s Last Judgment; Tamas’ room left blank; Stella’s room surrounded by a prelapsarian herd of unicorns; Maria’s room shining with a Blue-Eyes White Dragon under the moon; and Maya’s own room blazing with a Blake-inspired sun above and a simple wooden desk below.

But none of these rooms held Stella within them, so Maya continued her search, finding Stella sitting on the beach wistfully gazing at the waves ahead of her, her eyes unfocused. Maya said, “Stella, you will face me in the semifinals. You can’t run away from me anymore. Let’s talk.”

Stella spoke in a voice so low it was almost a whisper. “Odd. Now you want to talk things out instead of avoiding any intimacy between us.”

“If we don’t resolve it now we will resolve it in our duel.”

“No, Maya, dueling can’t resolve this problem. Nothing can heal my heart from what you did to me.”

Maya got utterly exasperated at this point. “Can you please explain to me why our past relationship weighs so heavily on your shoulders, and why you decided until now of all times to bring it up. I never hit you. I never cheated on you. I never spent your money. I never spoke ill of you to others. Stop acting like a typical movie girlfriend; it is unbecoming of your character. Don’t be coy with me.”

“Wow, talk about internalized misogyny.” Stella remarked.

“Shallow Hollywood directors and dogmatic feminists have internalized misogyny, not me.” Maya snapped at her. “What I do despise is people acting along such stereotypes instead of killing them with extreme prejudice, such as you are doing right now.”

By this point Stella stood on her feet, brushing the sand from her jeans, and contested Maya, face to face. “Yes, you quit your libertine habits, all for me, and I am grateful for it. You were a fine partner, but only with basic human decency that everyone should have. When I got to know you better it made sense; no one had ever shown you basic human decency when you were growing up, so naturally you assumed such decency was an extraordinary kindness.

“I learned who you truly were. You became so cold with me, never giving me the kind words or thoughtful gifts you used to do. You became so distant, no longer sharing your thoughts with me, even in bed. You became such a bitter misanthrope, always complained about how terrible everyone was and how hopeless we all were.”

Did Maya not have to remind Stella again? She refuted her, “I told you I was getting sober, figuratively from Hollywood sickness and literally from drink. You don’t understand; I grew up in a project building with no future other than becoming a bank teller, a cop, or going into the military. – I made tomato sauce for spaghetti with ketchup I stole from McDonald’s, eating such a meal with my father at least fifty times. – ‘Following my dreams’ of becoming a great writer and musician was never an option. Dueling was a miracle from God; do you know what it is like to suddenly get so much wealth and power, how such a sudden change is like to a former nobody like me?”

Stella did not give up reaching to her former lover, she said, “I know, but when you got sober, so to speak, I saw you behind the mask. – Are you even aware how often you put it on? – Yes, you are fierce, witty, lively, driven to succeed, but underneath you are a peevish, melancholic, and pathetic woman. No amount of success and dominance, not even becoming world champion, will make you happy.

“Before you tell me how you only want to win to pay off your debts or whatever excuse; baloney, you’re doing it to conquer the world and prove a point. I don’t know what your point is – I don’t even think you know what exactly is – but it’s not for money. There is no way someone like Bandit Keith could make Yugioh equal to chess or into a kind of art as you did.”

Maya cast her head down, looking at Stella’s shoes, the sand between them, the shadows behind them. “You fell in love with me. You thought you knew me. Now you know me.”

“I worry most of all about you.” Stella touched Maya’s cheek, trying to reach her, but Maya dared not be anything but stone. “What more will you want after this tournament, and what desperate horrible things will you do afterward to get it? I must be honest; seeing you become world champion would be like Hitler winning World War II.”

Maya said, “Oh, you shouldn’t have. I never thought I’d have that much influence.”

“Keep your jokes to yourself.” Stella said, checking her iPhone for the time. “Five minutes left. I’ll prepare my deck for our upcoming fight.”

“You’d better. I’m coming for you.”

“Please stop being a creep.”

Yugioh Created Cards (Duels 13 – 16)

MARIA’S CARDS: 

Soul Desperation
Counter Trap

  • You can activate this card from your hand if you control no Spell or Trap cards.
  • Destroy all monsters you control and gain Life Points equal to their combined ATK.

Counterlife
Normal Trap

  • When your opponent’s monster attacks your monster: activate this card just before the damage step.
  • You take no battle damage this turn. Gain Life Points equal to the ATK of your monster, then destroy your monster.

MAYA’S CARD:

Spadiavolo, Swordsman of the Burning Abyss
DARK/Fiend/Link 3/ATK 2000/Top, Bottom Left, Bottom Right

  • Monsters this card points to cannot be destroyed by card effects.
  • Once per turn, if this card battles: send up to 4 Burning Abyss monsters from your hand, field, or Deck to the Graveyard. This card gains 500 ATK for each one during the damage step only.

 

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 16

Duel 16 – Full Jump

Kaiba, who stands watching Maya’s and Maria’s encounter has enough. “Maria, cease talking to Maya at once!” He orders her. “Maya’s using her forked tongue to shatter our bond. Don’t you dare give in to that snake! Only the weak use psychological tricks instead of the powerful monsters who choose their rightful duelists. That fact will decide your victory over this reptile! Make her rue the day she ever picked up a duel disk!”

“Um, hello?” Mathias points to himself. “One of the world’s greatest over here. Screws with people’s minds all the time. Beat Kaiba a few years back. Fanboys still hate me for that.”

Maya brushes Kaiba’s threats aside with a comical swipe of her hand, as if the threats are literal pests. “Yes, yes, the luck of the strong, might makes right, destiny chooses the winner, all those fallacies aside. Bourgeois gamers pretending to be feudal overlords would amuse Marx until he is red in the face, before making his head explode.”

Maria: 4100 | Maya: 300

MAYA’S TURN: “4500 ATK is impressive but it’s only appetizer compared to the main course. Armityle, attack Neo Blue-Eyes!” The phantom king conjures another wave of dark chaotic waters, but Maria is prepared.

“I activate Rescuer from the Grave, and banish five cards from my Graveyard!” A new wave of water, one from the global flood, challenges the dark tsunami, crashing its attack to a standstill.

“Hmm, this is a problem. I set a card facedown.” Maya mutters under her breath.

MARIA’S TURN: “Your Armityle is now weak with 0 ATK, as it is my turn. Kill it, Neo Blue-Eyes, and win me the duel!” Its three heads join forces to fire one neutron blast.

“I activate Beatrice!” Maya says, detaching its last Xyz Material. “I mill Electromagnetic Turtle, now banish it from the Graveyard to activate it!” Maria’s dragon swings at Maya with the strongest force of all of Maria’s dragons, but the electromagnetic barrier surrounding Maya disperses it, similar to how the Earth’s field defends itself from solar winds. “As my Turtle banished itself, I activate Jewels of the Valient, milling a Glow-Up Bulb.”

“Wait, why would you use Glow-Up Bulb of all monsters in a Burning Abyss Deck?” And the third epiphany this duel hits her like a rock, though to be fair Maya has her fair share of head bruises. “Oh no! Oh no!!!”

MAYA’S TURN: “I play Pot of Acquisitiveness, returning 3 banished cards to my Deck to draw 2, and activate my Set Trap Jar of Avarice, recycling 5 cards in my Graveyard to draw 2. Now, Monster Reborn! Revive Cherubini!” The black cherub resurrects through Egyptian magic.

“Beatrice is my guide this duel, but she has fulfilled her purpose; I link her with Cherubini to Link Summon Spadiavolo, Swordsman of the Burning Abyss!” A new, exceedingly wicked devil makes its entrance, wielding a huge broadsword to cut sinners to pieces. “I Normal Summon Fluffal Dog and Special Summon Glow-Up Bulb from the Graveyard with its effect, and I tune it with Fluffal Dog to Synchro Summon Naturia Beast!” Weevil jumps for joy at seeing one of his favorite monsters make a cameo. “Armityle, attack Neo Blue-Eyes!” Maya orders.

“No! I banish five cards to activate Rescuer from my Graveyard! ” But Maya mills two cards from her Deck so her Beast can negate Maria’s magic with its own. Maria banishes more cards to activate her Spell Card again, and Maya negates it in kind, carrying the cycle through until Maria has no cards left to banish, though it does somewhat injure Maya’s Deck. Armityle finally has the last laugh, overwhelming Neo Blue-Eyes with its tidal forces.

But Maria is not gone yet. “I activate Counterlife!” She receives no damage and instead the shattered remains of her dragon sublimate into healing energy, granting her new Life. (Maria LP 4100 à 8600)

“You’re not safe from my wrath, Maria! Naturia Beast, maul her!” Maya’s beast assaults its prey under its master’s command. “I attack with Spadiavolo, and mill four Burning Abyss monsters to increase its ATK!” Four demons from Hell emerge from the sulfurous pit, their evil spirits infesting their new host body, but rather than suffering the swordsman fiend only doubles in strength. Maria gasps; it has 4000 ATK! “WATCH THIS! Devil’s Revolution!” The fiend mercilessly cuts loose into Maria, the force of its strength battering her in a wild gust of filthy wind; Maya laughs horribly the whole time. (Maria LP 8600 à 2400)

“I activate Barbarriccia, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, banishing itself and 2 more of its kind to dish out your just deserts!” Three of Maya’s fiends emerge from the Graveyards as flaming ghosts to burn a little bit of Maria’s flesh. (Maria LP 2400 à 1500) And in one fell swoop Maya equalizes the game. “Had enough punishment yet, Maria? I told you, I will grind you down in due time! The hourglass to your death is ticking!”

“But hourglasses don’t tick.” Maria almost collapses to the ground, sweating and gasping for air. Maya’s attack was too much; her vision begins to get blurry.

Maya looks she cannot care less of Maria’s suffering. “This is how 6000 odd damage feels like. Contrapasso is a bitch. I set a card facedown, now it’s your turn to hopelessly struggle.”

MARIA’S TURN: “I set a card facedown. Maya, make no mistake; I will win this duel.”

“No, you will not, Maria.” Maya rebukes her as sternly as she has ever done before. “You fight for a man’s love. I fight for my life. No amount of Twilight romance or Happy Potter love will overcome a woman’s desperate struggle for survival.”

“Wow, what a hardass.” Kaiba comments with stinging sarcasm.

“Please, ‘Kaiba boy’.” Maya shoots at him darts of her own. “You sound more like a Nietzsche fanboy than I ever could.”

Pegasus chuckles to himself in amusement. “Honestly, Kaiba boy. You would do better with Maya than ever with Maria. Your temperaments match and, I dare say, I can taste the belligerent sexual tension all the way over here.”

“EW NO!!!” Maya shrieks, curling away at the very thought as a vampire exposed to sunlight.

“Say that one more time and I will kill you.” Kaiba growls at Pegasus. “You have been warned.”

Is Pegasus intimidated by such a threat? Nope! He replies with, “And what then, Kaiba boy? Not even Kaibacorp could endure the years of litigation that would descend on your ass the instant you lay one hard hand on one soft hair on my head.”

MAYA’S TURN: “By all means, keep struggling, Maria. If I indeed am a reptile, then you are a baby bird, and nothing like moving prey more excites a reptile to hunt. Monsters, attack!”

Maria blocks the assault, “Return from the Different Dimension!” Cutting her Life in half to return her three Blue-Eyes White Dragons back to the field.

Grunting, Maya calls off her titan’s attack, sets a card facedown, and ends her turn, letting Maria’s dragons become banished once more. Better to have a Blue-Eyes banished then in the Graveyard.

MARIA’S TURN: She places her hand on her duel disk, almost ready to surrender, but pushes herself onward. If she lost the duel, everything would be ruined, and she cannot let that happen, no matter what! She pleads to the spirit of Atem, the great pharaoh, to lead her to victory. She draws her card.

“I play Monster Reborn to resurrect Neo Blue-Eyes!” True to her word, her dragon rises from its tomb in a miraculous comeback. “Neo Blue-Eyes destroy the fiend Armityle, and grant me victory!” And her dragon delivers its last assault.

Maya reacts on cue, “I trigger Hate Buster! Our monsters die and you lose 4500 Life!”

“That won’t happen! Card Guard!” Maya discards a card in her hand, the storm of hellfire expands outward from Armityle and rages over the entire field. Maya counters with her Naturia Beast, but Maria is prepared even for that. “I discard Effect Veiler to negate your Beast! My dragon is safe.” The king of phantoms burns away in its hateful fury but a floating shield spares Neo Blue-Eyes its life. “In want of a new target, Neo Blue-Eyes, assault Spadiavolo!” And it continues its assault.

“I activate Phoenix Wing Wind Blast!” Maya declares in her final refutation this duel, discarding a card from her hand. Maria’s great dragon bursts into flame, but rather than being destroyed, it rises up and away as a phoenix taking flight, returning to the Extra Deck.

Maria collapses to her knees in despair. “I lost. Just finish me off already.”

MAYA’S TURN: “I draw!” But she pauses. As Maria said, she lost. Maya had already crushed her spirit. There is no point in torturing her any more. Her bloodlust satisfied, Maya calms down, breathing deeply a few times, her flaring temper snuffing out, letting all holograms dissipate on their own.

Maria: 0 | Maya: 300

Maya offered her fallen rival a hand, saying, “I know I’m a terrible person, but at least I am fair. All potshots aside, you are an amazing duelist, the strongest one I have ever faced in my life, and had I not been forced to evolve in my skills you would have easily defeated me. Though trying to get someone to like you is foolhardy and insulting to your humanity, any man who is not a fool should at least treat you with admiration and respect.”

Maria, as much as she still hated Maya, took her hand, using it to stand up. Pegasus, Mathias, even Rex and Weevil gave warm applause for the great game they just bore witness to, certain it would be saved for posterity. Meanwhile, Matthew seethed in rage as ever and Kaiba remained dead silent, sinking his head in shame.

Maria jumped down the arena to embrace Kaiba. “I know I lost the duel, Seto, but I dueled so well; everyone thinks so.”

Kaiba pushed her away in disgust. “You lost to a dreg using a Blue-Eyes Deck, a terrible humiliation I can never forgive you for. Get out of my sight, loser dog.”

Maria, upon hearing those words, shrank away, heartbroken, but shed no tears, showing nothing more than a look of vague disgust. “I hoped you had actual human emotions above ambition, resentment, and greed; I thought you had something deeper within you than selfish frustration, but I was wrong. Goodbye.” And the couple parted.

Pegasus mimicked a burning noise on his finger. “That was savage.”

“Couldn’t think of anything better. “All I could do is make some lame joke comparing Seto Kaiba to Donald Trump, though it would be pretty funny to watch them duel. Hmm, wonder what kind of Deck Trump would use.”

“ENOUGH!” Kaiba roared as a lion, the full power of his temper exploding, quickly straddling himself on the duel arena. “I have tolerated enough of your insults during the duel, but no more, dirty trash! You dare mock my Blue-Eyes White Dragon, I will beat you down so bad you will walk sideways for the rest of your life!” He readied his duel disk, his intentions clear to everyone.

Maya did likewise. “Look at that temper, big guy! Wanna’ screw me over like you did your ex already, huh? Talk about a pure deep love affair!”

“Stop this instant!” Pegasus ordered, but neither duelist listened, so everyone else took it upon themselves to persuade the two fighters to cease their quarrel, an affair that lasted for five tense minutes. Maya and Kaiba stepped down, an decision that disappointed every Yugioh fan in the world, but one that was for the best.

Isono the referee declared, on schedule, “All surviving duelists will now commence a thirty minute break, wherein afterwards Matthew Carter will duel Mathias Blackheart and Svanhildur Minervudottir will duel Marina Bozuslowsky. Surviving duelists are free to alter their decks as they see fit during this time period.”

And so, exeunt al.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 15

Duel 15 – Tighter Knots

Maya struggles to stand on her feet, her knees wobbling and her chest burning from her fractures ribs, but she forces her way onward. She cannot lose this tournament. She might as well die if she had to because if she loses she won’t have a life, anyway. Maya even realizes the humor in these words; people would laugh if any other Yugioh character said it, and maybe some would even laugh at her, but she needs the money more than anything. The banks would use her crushing debts to drive her homeless and, well, she might as well striptease or turn tricks for Wall Street stockbrokers, but as enticing as the thought of a rich a****** snorking coke from her ass seems to her, it is not a fate she will tolerate.

Maria: 4600 | Maya: 1500

MAYA’S TURN: “I play Jewels of the Valient; each time I banish a card from my Graveyard, I get a mill a card. Dark Summoning Beast gives me the perfect opportunity; I banish it to add a Sacred Beast monster to my hand, and this lets me mill a Carboneddon. Next, the Permanent Spell Card Triangle Force, putting three more from my Deck to the field, and I destroy them all to Special Summon Hammon, Lord of Striking Thunder. I offer my Phantasm Token to Tribute Summon my second Dark Summoning Beast, and Tribute it to Special Summon Uria, Lord of Searing Flames from my Deck!”

The bright sky broils into dark clouds yet again, hailing the dark advent of two more huge fiendish beasts; all three together resembling the three Egyptian Gods: Raviel for Obelisk, Uria for Ositis, and Hammon for Ra. “I activate Fallen Paradise to draw two cards, and I use Uria’s effect to pop Maria’s faecdown card.” The red fiend of illusions blasts away its target with a gust of flames. “I combine the Sacred Beasts together – I don’t need Polymerization to fuse them. – I call form Armityle the Chaos Phantom!” Raviel, Uria, and Hammon melt into each other, their limbs and organs fusing together into a serpentine body, Uria’s head becoming the left arm and Hammon’s head becoming the right, creating the ultimate illusion beast.

Mathias himself gases at the ancient creature in wonder. Maya’s titan truly calls back to the dark mystic past before the gods of Olympus and their era of Apollo’s glowing beauty. It is the closest embodiment to Typhon he can think of, holding ginormous 10,000 ATK!

Maya is still yet to fisnish. “I have two Carboneddon sleeping in the Graveyard; I banish them to Special Summon two Dragons from my Deck: Labradorite Dragon and Wattail Dragon.” As carbon is forged into diamond, Maya’s two lowly dinosaurs are ground under immense pressure to create two rare, bejewled dragons, one of light, the other of darkness.

Maria knows what will happen next; Maya will bring out the same Tzolkin combo Matthew did in his duel, and says as much to suggest Maya is not so inventive after all. But Maya dismisses the suggestion outright, “No, I am being even less inventive.”

She calls once more upon Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal, this time two dragons rather than Dante become the Xyz Material. “I use her effect to mill Calabrina, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, and use its effect to bounce your other facedown card.” And Maya’s target vanishes in due time. “Two down, one to go. I’ll burn the last one out with an attack! Raviel, destroy Chaos MAX Dragon! Eat 10,000 ATK for afternoon brunch!”

Marai springs her trap, “Negate Attack!” And the phantom’s beasts onslaight is repelled, sparing Maria and her monsters.

“I expected as much.” Maya bemoans. “I set two cards and end my turn.”

Seto Kaiba, scowling and unreadable as ever, surveys the battle in a way he had never done before; there is something very new at work. Nearly every duelist until now, himself included, built their decks as a pyramid, their strategies culminating into an ace monster they held a special bond with, such as his Blue-Eyes White Dragon; his stronest servant, his very pride and soul. Everything revolves around that monster, or a few key monsters, creatures that a duelist puts all his faith in carry him to victory.

But Maya’s entire strategy is inverted; her deck a spider web of equally interconnected parts, with Beatrice as the spider in the middle, her gravity holding everything else together. From that center, Maya can reach into any corner of her web to achieve any effect she desires; there is no true ace monster. Kaiba saw only a few such atheists back in his day: Pegasus turned whatever cards his opponent used against him, Bakura used his monsters as fodders to achieve a terrifying lock combo, even Yugi used various strategies where his Dark Magician was a favorite but one of many. To think people worship that twerp but completely miss his gaming style.

Kaiba snorts at Maya’s performance with contempt, “The Sacred Beasts are bootleg copies of the Egyptian Gods at best, the poor man’s form of divine strength. What is Armityle’s 10,000 ATK compared to the Infinite ATK of the Gods fused together?

MARIA’S TURN: “I activate Trade-In, discard a Blue-Eyes to draw two cards. Maya, your Armityle is strong but only during your turn. Now, on my turn, its ATK is 0. Chaos MAX, destroy Armityle! DARK NOVA!”

But the light-warming destructive energy never reaches it’s target. Maya refutes her with Fiend Grieving, “I return the Blue-Eyes you discarded to your Deck, and I mill Fiendish Rhino Warrior, which lets me mill Farfarello, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, and I use it’s effect.”

“That won’t save you! Even if Chaos MAX is banished I still – Oh!” Armityle dissapears, leaving Maria to still adjust her eyes to the titanic-sized voide left behimd from it’s dissapearence. “I instead direct Chaos MAX to kill Beatrice, and since she is in Defense Position I inflict double piercing damage!”

“I use Beatrice’s effect to mill Scarm, and I play Damage Diet!” Maya’s fair angel is vaporized, leaving the offending dragon’s wrath to pursue its true mission, but the Trap Card slows it down enough until only a mild blast hits Maya. Getting punched in the ribs doesn’t hurt – Getting punched in the broken ribs doesn’t hurt! (Maya LP 1500 → 300)

But though Maya barely hangs on the game, she still shows her infinite resiliance. “Beatrice was destroyed, letting me Special Summon directly from the Extra Deck Dante, Pilgrim of the Burning Abyss!” Dante returns, completed by Beatrice, his journey to God complete. “With his arrival, I discard Ciriatto, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss and draw a card, then use its effect to Special Summon Graffiacane, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss from the Deck.” Her old fiend, the nasty dog, returns, making a painful contrast with the great pilgrim.

An understanding dawns on Maria; that this scene of devout and devil forms the core of Maya’s character, but the devil tugs on its leash as a rougue hound, tearing its noble but weak master to wherever its caprices demand it must go. A similar insight reveals itself to Mathias. Yugioh really is a strange game.

Maria sees another fatal weakness in Maya’s forces: her Cherub; being a Link Monster, it can’t defend itself. “Firewall Dragon, attack Cherub!” The online dragon creates a gateway, then launches from it a deadly virus code to kill the black cherub.

But Maya has more tricks up her nonexistent sleeve, activating, “Absolute King Back Jack! Banishing it from the Graveyard, I excavate my Deck’s top card, and if it’s a Trap Card…” If there is such a thing as the Heart of the Cards, Maya could sure use it now, and she prayed to God/Satan/Buddha/Flying Spaghetti Monster/Great Spirit/Orochi the Neckbeard/The Universe/No One/Whatever it would be the right card. She drew it… “I play Raigeki Break!” She discards a card from her hand, and directs the lightning to destroy her own monster, breaking her black cherub. And as if that isn’t enough, she mills another card due to Valient.

Maya breathes a deep sigh of relieve and winks at Maria, saying, “I needed a lucky break too.”

Maria reluctantly admits that Maya survives another turn. “Blue-Eyes, destroy Dante! Dragon Spirit of White, destroy Graff!” Saint and fiend burn to ash, letting Maya use their effects: Dante forces Maria to discard a card while Graff lets Maya Special Summon Calcabrine, Malebrache of the Burning Abyss, yet another Fiend, to the field. Maria sets two cards, ending her turn, which lets Armityle to return and Scarmiglione, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss to fetch yet another Burning Abyss monster for its master.

MAYA’S TURN: “I activate my facedown Toy Vendor, the one I set facedown two turns ago, then activate Fluffal Wings, banishing itself and Fluffal Bear, and popping Toy Vendor, to draw two cards. Then I use Vendor’s effect to search for Fluffal Dog.”

Now for the turn proper. “I Normal Summon Rubicante, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, and tune it with Calcab to Synchro Summon Dante, Rock Star of the Burning Abyss! And I use its effect to bounce your facedown card.” The red-faced terror and grace-stomper vanish into a white portal so the famous Roman poet descends from Elysium to Earth, and as soon as he does so Maria loses one of her defenses. “I use Destiny Hero – Malicious from the Graveyad, banishing itself to bring out another one from the Deck, then I overlay it and Virgil to bring out a second Beatrice, Lady of ther Eternal!”

As soon as the holy angel finishes her advent, Maya turns her attention to a possible victory, but most likely, as Maya fully knows, a strategic step to burn out her defenses. Not having a backrow of facedown cards did not guarantee a sucessive hit these days. “Armityle, take out Chaos MAX!” The titan combines darkness, fire, and lightning to recreate the dark primeval waters of myth, and pushes them unto Maria’s field as a massive tital wave, threatening to overwhelm everything.

“I play the Hand Trap Soul Desperation!” Maria calls forth a huge black altar, her tone as desperate as her card implies, offering her entire dragon army to the hungry altar, leaving her wide open but increasing her Life enough to withstand the dark waters of Armityle… and the light fires of Beatrice. (Maria LP 4600 → 16600 → 4100) The combined attacks become so strong, Maria is nearly thrown off the arena, only saving herself at the last moment by grabbing the ledge for dear life, dangling like a rag doll. Maria, however, is lucky enough not to have endured having her ribs broken, her flesh bruised, or her conscience racked with stress and guilt; and she gets back to fight with a resiliance that even impresses Maya.

Maya even comments, “This is probably the longest, most high level, most exciting duel I ever had. I will kill Stella if she doesn’t deliver a duel at least as good as yours.”

“Assuming you win.” Maya says, chastizing Maya for her arrogance.

“Don’t get your hopes up. I claimed a huge field advantage after much struggle. You can drag the duel on until the heat death of the universe, but I will win in the end. Unless you’re Yugi, no amount of ass pulls will save you.”

MARIA’S TURN: “That’s where you’re wrong, Maya. I just drew Dragon’s Mirror, and I play it to banish all three dead Blue-Eyes to Fusion Summon Neo Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon!” Three spirits, dragons of white, merge through a looking glass, and the triple-headed king of dragons manifests from the other side. “Neo Blue-Eyes, attack Armityle!”

Maya, at most expressing mild surprise, defends herself with ease. “I activate Beatrice, to mill another Farfarello, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, and use its effect to banish your dragon this turn.” And Maya’s goblin grabs hold of the dragon, transorting itself and the gigantic beast far away from the battlefield.

Frustrated, Maria moves on to a second plan. “I play Melody of Awakening Dragon. I discard a card and add 2 High Level dragons to my hand. I end my turn.” Maria knows she’s on the ropes. Yes, she has a powerful monster, and more Life, and only needs to hit Maya with one attack to win the duel, but she feels as if she is losing. “Why?” She thinks to herself, but she soon understands. Maya’s Deck is, ironically, more consistent. She knows how to access her entire Deck at a given point. Maria can only make her hand bigger.

Maya, on the other hand, knows it is time to make her true assault, now Maria was vulnerable enough to penetrate. She suspected Maria’s fatal weakness for a long time, but only now, in this duel, could she say for certain. “It makes perfect sense now.” Maya pretends to speak to herself, just loud enough for Maria to hear her.

“What do you mean?” Maria asks.

“At first I thought you used a Blue-Eyes Deck simply because you weren’t creative, but it is obvious that you are creative and intelligent, too much so to practically netdeck Kaiba. I wondered why, and thought of the drunk fun we had together last year, and it dawned on me. You truly love Kaiba and want him to love you in return, but your frustration will last forever. It’s desperate. It’s pathetic. You have ‘Please notice me, sempai!’ writ all over you.”

“Quiet!” Maria shouts more loudly than she ever shouted in her entire life. “Enough of your lies, you fiend! You manipulative, callous, destructive…” Maria summons the most hateful word she can think of. “Jerk!”

“Yes, I’m a cocksure sarcastic b**** who is as funny as Amy Shumer, I know.” Maya assures her. “But I know that pain; I felt it with Yukio.” And she feels it with Sophia, but she doesn’t say it. “All you can do is stand strong on your two feet, and you certainly can, Maria. Kisara is, for all intents and purposeses, Kaiba’s companion cube, but you are not Kisara, and even if by some wierd accident of reincarnation you are, you are far stronger than that. Don’t be the innocent waif possessed by the dragon, be the dragon!”

Maria remains unmoved, at least at the surface. “As if a left-handed compliment isn’t bad enough, you now condescend to me.”

“Hey, it’s your life.” Maya shrugs. “If you want to depend on someone else for your happiness, that’s your problem, but have no illusions. You will be no better than the millions of girlfriends and wives abused every day, and as someone who was abused, I can assure you there is nothing romantic about a moody, jealous boyfriend.”

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 13

Duel 13 – Settling the Score

Maya and Maria truly did not like each other but at least they did each other the courtesy of shaking the other’s hand before starting their duel. “I remember the kindness you showed me last year, hence why I saved you from Seeker when the tournament began.” Maya told her rival in good honor, yet still enjoying a small amount of her mischief at causing Maria slight embarrassment. “But I don’t spare anyone from a barb or two.”

Maria looked down on Maya as usual, condescending to remind her that she promised to be serious. But Maya replied in turn, “I’m always serious, and when I joke often I’m deadly serious. You still don’t know how humor works, not that you had the chance to learn much.” Maya glanced at Kaiba long enough for Maria to get the hint.

Maria dismissed such trivial remarks. “I don’t care. Let’s duel, now!”

“No, let’s not. Why do you want to win this tournament?” Maya paused to let the shocking effect of her words sink in, that someone would be crazy enough to not play a children’s card game at the drop of a hat.

“I want to become the Duel Queen!” Maria affirmed with sternness, yet with a small hesitation. “You must build a tower from the corpses of the vanquished to grasp glory from the heavens!”

“No, Xerox Maiden with Eyes of Blue. That’s Kaiba’s answer, as vapid as a blimp and as subtle as a cold brick. I want your answer. Forget Kaiba is here. Pretend only you and your disdain for me exist and answer: why do you want to win?”

Maria’s entire face stiffened from cold to freezing, answering coolly, “That is not your business nor will it ever be. You dare insult the person who saved your life.”

“I saved yours, goldfish, the debt is repaid.” Maya reminded her. “As much as I hate you, Maria Wight, I do like you. You have a reserve, dignity, elegance, effortless grace I want but can never have, but those qualities aren’t enough for a woman; I told Sophia the same thing. Long ago, before the creation of our universe, the Author created a Kisara 2.0 as the main character, a woman with strong qualities but a wight nonetheless. Don’t be like her. Don’t live and die for an unworthy man.”

“You talk like you can influence the will of God.” Maria said.

“Perhaps because I am the Devil.” Maya answered.

“Then you are deluded, as well as proud and blasphemous.” Maria let her duel disk sing colors of blue and white, preparing the ground for their battle. “No more small talk.”

“But games are small talk.” Maya gave her bon mot as her own duel disk readied for their fight. “There is nothing wrong with that.”

Maria: 8000 || Maya: 8000

MARIA’S TURN: “Play time is over. I Normal Summon Maiden With Eyes of Blue and set a card. I end my turn.” Maria seems to have cloned herself as girl of long silver hair takes her place beside the duelist, both hardly different.

MAYA’S TURN: “Wait, are you running a Blue-Eyes Deck? How?” But Maya soon finds the answer to her own question. “Kaiba let you use his data, didn’t he?” And when Maria gives a twinkle of a smile, Maya scoffs. “And people keep telling me blue-eyes white privilege is a lie.”

“Maya, you don’t have what it takes to get privileges.”

Maya pretends not to hear her; she says, “Sorry, I can’t hear you from your high horse up there.”

“I’m not high, you’re just so low.” Maria retorts.

“As low as Hell itself.” Maya let a dangerous light flare in her eyes. “I Normal Summon Tour Guide From the Underworld, using its effect to Special Summon Graffiacane, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, and overlay them to Xyz Summon Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss!” A sprightly coquette train conductor in a tight black outfit arrives with her train on station, bringing with her a fiend with coarse fur and a barbarous snout, before merging together in the overlay network to bring out Dante, the fantastically reimagined medieval warrior poet.

“I use Dante’s effect to mill three cards and give it 1500 ATK; now the Graffiacane I detached and Ciriatto, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss I milled activate in the Graveyard: I Special Summon Cagnazzo, Malebranch of the Burning Abyss from the Deck and Graff from the Graveyard. Now, my fiends, attack Kisara 3.0.”

Dante raises his sword to slay the sacred virgin as if she was the idol of an infidel, but Maria saves her by using her effect. The maiden clasps Dante’s sword, and with an elvish chant of sorts brings out Blue-Eyes White Dragon from Maria’s Deck. That was before Maya resumed her savage attack, her demons tearing the maiden apart as if they were a wild boar and hound.

Maya ends her turn: “I set two cards and activate Scarmiglione, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss from my Graveyard, letting me search for another Burning Abyss monster.”

Mathias Blackheart, carefully watching the duel from a safe distance, cannot help but appreciate Maya’s theme. He had always loved the great Dante’s works for his entire life and seeing the Malebranche work as a team refreshed his immortal soul – he had not seen anyone use the Burning Abyss archetype in a long time – but he soon felt a twinge of fear; if his ally used devils to attack an angel, where did his immortal soul stand? Maya would ridicule the idea, no doubt, but his worry did not die.

MARIA’S TURN: “I can’t tell you how deeply you disappoint me, Maya,” Maria condemns her. “I expected something more from your ‘top super secret strategy’, not run-of-the-mill Burning Abyss. Like Andy Warhol, all edge, no substance. And like Kaiba, all bluster only to get worfed.”

Even Mathias agrees with her, remarking to Maya, “You don’t look like a cock tease but you gave me the bluest balls in literally a hundred years.”

Those words trigger something ferocious in Maya, igniting her into a gleeful cackle so shrill and cold it made Pegasus’ blood run cold, lit Kaiba’s eyes with a shade of fear, and raised the back hairs of Matthew’s head. Pegasus and Kaiba could have sworn they heard Bakura’s voice; yes, that voice of the most obscure yet most dangerous of great duelists.

Maya sometimes broke into eccentric laughter over some obscure private thought she enjoyed all to herself, and this was no different. “So Maria does have some wit in her. I thought her soul, as an angel’s, was too pure to house the sorrows that bring laughter into the world. My evil charms must be working. Tell me, how does it feel to be human?”

Matthew comments bitterly, “If anything, Xiaoyi’s charms must be working. I’ve had enough of parables and riddles for one lifetime, and I swear on my grandfather’s grave I will kill every pretentious moron on this planet!”

“Yeah, whatever, dude.” Mathias easily brushes Matthew’s impotent rage aside. Maya doesn’t even pretend to not hear him, letting the villain stew in his own bile.

Maria ignores Matthew too. “I play The Melody of Awakening Dragon, discarding a card and adding two Blue-Eyes monsters to my hand. Next, Pre-preparation of Rights. Adding a Ritual Spell and Ritual Monster to my hand. I reveal a Blue-Eyes White Dragon in my hand to Special Summon Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon and Dragon Spirit of White, and use their effects to pop Dante and her facedown card.” A greater version of the classic white dragon pokes its head from a magic portal, vaporizing Dante with a burst of its electric breath before fully summoning into view, while a smaller waifish white dragon burns away Maya’s trap…

That is, after Maya triggers it. “I play Fire Lake of the Burning Abyss! I destroy Cagna and Cir to destroy your dragons and your facedown card!” And in a flash of white lightning from Maria and a storm of red flames from Maya, the field is made into a barren desert. Only Maria’s classic Blue-Eyes White Dragon remains. Maya activates her Dante, returning Graff from her Graveyard to her hand, Cagna, milling a Burning Abyss Spell Card, and Cir, reviving Scarm from the Graveyard.

Disappointed even more, Maya proceeds to summon one of her greatest monsters. “I play Return of the Dragon Lords to revive Blue-Eyes White Dragon, then activate Chaos Form to summon my ultimate beast! Light transforming into darkness, rising from the depths of chaos, forging the path to victory, come forth…!”

Maya cuts her off. “Stop your chanting right there! I play Hand Destruction!” Maya’s brief actions stops her rival in her tracks, giving her an opening to throw another verbal dart. “Chanting for an ace monster, really? And I thought I was pretentious. Now, we discard two cards and draw two; that includes your cancer Ritual Monster.”

“Well that came out of left field.” Mathias admits that even he did not see that coming.

Kaiba had boiled in rage from Maya’s irreverence throughout the duel and he can control it no longer. “How dare you call my great dragons cancer!”

But this aggression does not deter Maya in the least from firing shots back. “But they are cancer, Mr. Aneurism. They’re part of the power creep that is slowly killing Yugioh, majestic wings and grandiose ATK points aside.”

“That power creep allowed you to get ahead in Yugioh, you impudent hypocrite. A third rate duelist such as yourself should be at least thankful.”

“I promise I’ll send you a gift card as thanks, preferably from a small independent business. Now fold your hand, Maria, your poker face is slipping.”

Maria solemnly discards her hand. “That was a clever way of stopping a Ritual Summon. The only way I can overcome such a tactic is by lucking out.” She draws her new hand, including all the required cards. “And lucked out I did. I Ritual Summon Blue-Eyes Chaos MAX Dragon!” The bright June sky darkens into thunder and lightning as the shadow counterpart of the blue-eyed dragon comes forth.

“Oh, Fishstyx! Destiny is cruel.” Maya admits. “But there is danger in taking things at surface value. I activate Blaze Accelerator Reload from my Graveyard; I banish it to mill a Volcanic Scattershot, then use it’s effect!” Maya mills two more Scattershots, allowing all three to rise from the dead to wipe Maria’s entire army.

Maria counters Maya’s strategy with her own. “I banish my Return of the Dragon Lords Spell to protect all my dragons!” And true to her word, her army is saved from Maya’s wrath, but not Maria herself; the tsunami of fire crashes into her with a terrifying fury. (Maria LP 8000 à 6500)

But Maya has more tricks in her sleeve. “I activate Farfarello, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, the other card I discarded, to banish your Chaos MAX Dragon!” Her tricky goblin leaps from the netherworld, clasping unto the mighty dragon so much larger than itself, but still makes it disappear.

“But I still have the classic Blue-Eyes; now destroy Scarm! Burst Stream of Destruction!” And Maya’s wretched fiend sees a quick end, through it’s trouble-making days are far from over.

“I end my turn.” Maria finishes. “But my army increases. I discarded two White Stone of Ancients this turn, letting me Special Summon a third Blue-Eyes White Dragon and a second Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon from my Deck!” By this time Maria’s field is full of dragons.

All Maya can do is use her measly Scarm again to search for another Burning Abyss monster, and though she betrays a smarmy attitude of breezy insolence she is truly afraid – or was it anxiousness? No. Excitement? No. It was apprehension.

Maya sometimes thinks of herself as an opposite, or more accurately a shadow compliment to Yugi. Both are eccentrics who come from obscure backgrounds; both have troubled pasts though Maya bullied while Yugi was bullied; both came, as Mathias said, out of left field to take the gaming world by storm; both are tricksters and cunning strategists, both have vast hidden depths beneath misleading appearances, Yugi appearing meek and mild, gentle as a child, Maya appearing sullen, witty, and impulsive. Maya was even born on the opposite of Yugi’s zodiac sign or some other stupid shit Jolene would say when shopping at Namaste.

And now, like Yugi did thirteen odd years ago, she too faces the most iconic and dangerous dragons in the entire game, with a small chance of survival. Yes, she can dodge such cumbersome beasts with skill, but you can run away an avalanche or trick a giant for only so long. Maria truly is a shadow compliment to Kaiba, and a fine one at that; she never denied her skill

But now, practice time is over. Through her wit, her barbs, her teasing, Maya had tested the waters of the engagement, as she always does, and in this manner found the weaknesses in her opponent to exploit. Maya can no longer hold any secrets; she has to bring out the big guns.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 12

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Choreographing duels is still hard, and I wished I filled in the backstories of my characters more in Season Two, but I did not have that vision yet, so I will do it in future chapters. I find my writing throughout Season One and Season Two to be too stilted, serious, and humorless, which hurts it. I want to balance comedy and tragedy, humor and drama, in the best way I can; in the past I was too serious, now I may be too funny. Yes, I’m a pretentious twat, but I one day wish to write real books, not stupid Yugioh fanfics.

Duel 12 – An Axe to Grind

The duel concluded, Tamas sank to the ground, wailing, “How could I lose to some rogue deck noob!”

“I’m disappointed.” Stella admitted to everyone present, no longer bothering to acknowledge Tamas’ existence. “I wished I faced against someone who could actually duel.”

Maya cut Stella’s complaints short by reminding her, “He did come a hair’s width of killing you. Keep that in mind.”

“Please don’t fuel my humiliation even more than it needs to.” Stella no longer had the strength for a verbal joust with her one time lover.

Pegasus was thoroughly amused by the circus act that performed before him but Kaiba had enough; the CEO of Kaibacorp called his bodyguards to clean up the trash; he was tired of seeing garbage in his tournament. Several burly men in dark green suits, their eyes hidden with sunglasses, appeared as if they were hiding underneath them the entire time, soon they hurled Tamas away. Garbage in. Garbage out.

Only Maya and Maria remained to duel, and both finalists took the stage without delay, but they gave a moment’s pause to study one another as if to remind themselves why they hated each other so and how their duel would shape the future of Yugioh’s history as a game and franchise.

———————————————-

Maya used her newfound powers; she reached for the fourth wall and froze time for a brief moment, speaking to you, “Perhaps you would like to know why we hate each other so since the author did not develop our conflict last season due to poor writing. Then allow me to fill you in, ‘dear’ reader.

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, before George Lucas fucked up his franchise, before the author fucked up this franchise, sometime after Battle City, one class of duelist emerged. As Yugioh became more standardized, a metagame developed, and with it came duelists who ran meta decks. You either ran Chaos Control, Monarchs, or DAD or you lost. Losers never mattered. It is a big country club, and you ain’t in it.

“But – what’s this? – the loser dogs wanted a change. The waiters wondered how they would pay rent. The cooks wished they could feed their kids with better food. The black golf chauffeurs didn’t want so much water drained from their neighborhoods to sprinkle on grass. The Mexican cleaning maids wanted their kids to go to a decent school. And everyone outside the plantation wanted some of that golf course put to good use instead wasting people’s time in a boring game.

“So people used rogue decks, on purpose! Me, JC, Stella and other included. We formed our own little teams, networked with each other on LinkedIn the way Park Slope yuppies do, and viola! We have a new class, a counterculture of rogue duelists, and some of us even got inside the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and sold out. JC, who kept calling me an oreo for having salt and pepper parents, wanted to be David Clarke so bad he tried to crush the loyal, and I put an end to it, then forgave him since his temptation is all too present to we minorities.

“So what does this have to do with Maria Wight, Duchess Whore of Cambridge? In all honestly, she is a good person who cares about those she loves more tenderly than I ever could and has high moral standards on what the world should be like, although our visions are very different; but she is very stuck-up. Kisara was an angel too good for this vulgar world, and so is she. She also reminds me of my nasty 4th grade English teacher: proper, respectable, graceful, dignified, but cold, snobbish, and boring.

“One fine night of wholesome fun; Jolene made amateur porn with Yukio since not even her dad could pay her Sarah Lawrence College tuition, then she got back to me where we ate pot brownies, and we turned on the news to make fun of Katy Perry’s vapid lyrics, Bald Brittany’s mental breakdown, and Justin Timberlake still trying to make sense of him revealing Janet Jackson’s boob at Super Bowl Halftime, where he blinded thousands of innocent children by exposing them to a woman’s nipple.

“Instead, we got this albino bitch talking about Yugioh, and I hoped this would be my day off. – A game is fun when you play it only for fun, not so much when you use it to make a living. – Maria, the albino bitch in question, said, as I recall, the following, with a lofty air of dignity: ‘The Yugioh game is falling far away from it’s old roots. Dueling used to value honor and duelists’ pride as the prime virtues of the age, and the market is moving so fast in printing new cards and banning old ones the game could collapse into ruin.’

“I agreed with her so far, but soon we parted ways in opinion, for I a smelled something rotten at this point, and it wasn’t the stale moldy pizza but Maria’s late 19th century pretenses: ‘Duelists have degenerated from warriors into professionals; the game reduced to celebrity, career, and politics. Any so-called rogue duelist with a functioning brain can wield a legendary monster, no longer the few worthy chosen, as it were, by the primal force of Destiny. I blame the duelists such as Maya Brook and Mathias Blackheart most for this decline, for purposefully assaulting our best and brightest duelists, even crushing their pride and careers in their victories; such was Matthew Carter’s fate under Maya’s combat boot, a fine man who didn’t have to meet his demise in this way.’

“’Some people complain about netdecking and meta decks, how they have no skill and so forth. That is a lie; of course they do. I’m in fact glad we have netdecking because it keeps only the strongest duelists with the strongest decks intact and stops the game from declining any further. Rogue duelists take away real competition from the game and replace it with inferior dueling. They have no right to bash duelists who take the game seriously and thus succeed. If you want to win, duel the right way.’

“I burst into laughter at this point, almost expecting Maria to expound on the Great Man Theory or mention the words ‘democracy’ and ‘Idiocracy’ in the same sentence. The interviewer – who was Maximus by the way – tried to steer the discussion to more nuanced terms, but I my very existence caused Maria’s dignified façade to crack, just a little bit, she fell into condemning me, presuming to know all the secrets of my heart. ’Maya’s behavior is disgusting. That whore sleeps with anyone she wants, incapable of sensitivity, never in her life having a pure deep love affair. She pushes through and manipulates anyone to get what she wants, and to hell with the consequences! While she is good with humor and ridicule, those are talents reflecting a frivolous mind; incompatible with older, more serious souls.’

“OH NO SHE DI’N’T! I nearly choked on my beer out of amusement and I was baked at this point, but I still got mad; this tedious Romantic was mildly annoying, until now when she roused me to fury. She could call me a whore all she wanted as whoring is the oldest and noblest profession in human history, call me a degenerate as I was a libertine who paid no serious mind to such moldy prudish morals, imply I was an alpha bitch as it was a label to be proud of, even treat a children’s card game with deathly seriousness.

“But to attack humor and satire; the lulz itself; to put shame on Thalia, one of the Muses who together redeem human suffering in the endless cold black stormy ocean that is universe? Unforgivable! I resolved that very night to crusade in vengeance against this mortal nemesis of the lulz, to show her how much of a troll I could be, to make her die the most humiliating death!

“Jolene prompted with her gentle arm, advising caution to me, ‘But Maya, vengeance is not the way, as it only hurts yourself. Negative energy clogs your chakras and disrupts your bodily harmonies. Please take blue cooling crystal and breath deep with me. Kumbaya, kumbaya, hare hare Krishna…’ Her new age nonsense only inflamed me more. I pulled the yoga mat from under her, figuratively and literally, and formed a convoluted scheme on the spot that would take months to fulfill so I could have my vengeance and drive home my dissent against Maria for the whole world to see.

“’But isn’t your scheme really petty? And what of your college education, protests, and donation campaigns?’ Jolene reminded me, to which I retorted, ‘We’re famous important people! Petty bullshit is what we do! As for my schedule, I’ll book it!’

“So I carried my pointless scheme to fruition; I created the persona of a brownnosing fan, most fitting as she was brownnosing Kaiba himself, and stroked her ego by telling her lies she wanted to hear while couching her vulgar and ignorant prejudices in the most aristocratic tone of voice. She wanted to know who my persona really was and meet me in person, either because she was suspicious of me or she was a gullible loser with low self-esteem, or the odd fusion of both, and invited me to a party in Kaiba’s mansion on April 1st.

“I knew it would only be a matter of time before she figured out I was tricking her the entire time, but I wanted to cause the whole fiasco to blow up in the way I desired. So how does Spongebob make a fool out of an old fuddy-duddy like Squidward or a belligerent miser like Mr. Krabbs? I needed the help of a Patrick Star, and Jolene willfully played the part; even she had to get in on the action. We dressed up in fancy dresses and masks, passing off as vapid celebrities from Beverly Hills. We also recruited Yukio to play the part of a celebrity reporter, and some random loser named Fujita to hold a camera and broadcast it on a YouTube channel.

“Positions set, battalions ready, fore! We invaded Maria, alone, without her heroic savior to protect her, introducing ourselves as Hollywood Celebrities, and began our friendly chat. The grave damsel had the discretion to be suspicious at first, but I buttered her up the same way I did on social media, and within a short time a few jokes, gossip, and cocktail drinks suckered her in. Jolene broached the topic of Yugioh and rogue duelists – Maria slipped a bit – and I ramped up the debate, attacking Stella, Mathias, and Maya in the third person in ever more vulgar ways. Once Maria became drunk and aroused enough to explode, Yukio turned Fujita’s video recorder towards her to capture the train wreck in all its glory.

“Maria aired all her resentment, like it was dirty laundry, into full view, delivering a monologue Ayn Rand would have enjoyed, ‘Screw political correctness, I gotta’ get this shit out! Rogue duelists are fucking scrubs not good enough to play the game and antimeta duelists are butthurt fags who hate the game and want to destroy it! And you know how those stinkin’ looters act; like fucking martyrs of ‘creativity’! HAH! Like a failed modern artist is ‘creative’! A loser dog is a loser dog no matter what he does, and his dueling proves it! Poor people fucking complain so much about how they can’t compete, they can’t get good enough cards! Well if you fucking degenerates worked hard enough instead of robbing stores, smoking crack, and invading my country to breed white people out of existence you could! The natural laws of competition and economics make it so! Some people are superior to others – what’s wrong in admitting that? – and not everyone will make it no matter how much you dumb down schools and jobs!

“Me and Jolene mockingly wondered if loser dogs begat poverty of if poverty begat loser dogs, and I was tempted to ridicule the drunken Maria further by prompting her to solve her own chicken-or-the-egg riddle, but she pwned herself with fresh material of her own. As usual among drunks, wails followed rages, and Beata Maria was no different. And did she bitterly complain, ‘I just don’t understand Seto sometimes! He claims he loves me like the world but he’s as cold in love as in money! He only told me I was beautiful once, and it was as stilted as an Anakin-Padme dialogue! And he can barely get hard or touch me right or make me feel like a woman, like he only gets hard playing Blue-Eyes White Dragon in Attack Position! Or when making his new gadgets – does he screw a robot waifu or something!’

“Not only did I tear away her lofty veil to reveal her opinions for what they truly were, she sabotaged Kaiba’s image in the most intimate way, thus killing two birds with one stone. But our victory was short-lived. Kaiba, the stern bulldog, rushed to save his damsel; he tore away my mask and Jolene’s. ‘How dare you ridicule me and my fiancé; no one attacks the Kaiba family and gets away with it!’

“’Hold your horses. You didn’t marry her yet.’ I reminded him, enjoying myself as I pushed his berserk button.

“He lost all control, lunging at my face, barking like a military officer, ‘I’ll kill you, worthless scum! You snake – no, worm – on the face of the earth!’ I dodged his punch but Jolene was not so lucky; he bloodied her nose. His strike at Jolene pricked my heart with pain and anger. I started at Kaiba to retaliate but the CEO was a trained master in Krav Maga; he smashed me on a table, splitting the table in two. By this time, real reporters and broadcasting crew arrived, their cameras flashing brilliant white from every anger it burned dark holes in my vision and nearly gave me a seizure.

“I knew exactly what Kaiba would do next. Every grown man settled his disputes by playing a children’s card game, and Kaiba was the white knight defending his lady’s honor. – I confess, I an intense envy burned in my heart at that moment. No one ever loved me as much. – There was no way I could survive a duel against Kaiba at this point nor did I have any score to settle with him; instead I declared, ‘Maria, I challenge you to a duel!’

“Maria answered, ‘Yes! Now!’ Kaiba protested the duel since we were both drunk and furious at each other, but Maria silenced him, calling upon Kaiba’s guards to get her duel disk. I readied my own, for I was prepared with any event that could happen, instant dueling included. We fought each other hard until Maria noticed that I copied her deck, card by card, which did not take very long.

“Maria was furious, ’How dare you netdeck me!’

“’What?’ I replied in sarcasm, ‘I thought netdeckers were good for the game by stopping so-called degenerates like me from ruining it. It can’t be you hate them now I use their tactics against you.’

“Maria burst into sobs, yelling, ‘You’re also a hypocrite, Maya. You like playing the part of the rebel all right with your studied rudeness; you hate the meta and all the dueling world but you need both to stay relevant. Once the meta is gone, once you kick all the traces, you will have no more purpose in life.’ I understood everything she said but accepted it; to think I could accept that biter pill at this moment.

“The poor girl’s body was too innocent of alcohol to process the dose putting her in a delirium. She vomited all over the floor in utter ruin; my victory was glorious. I had revealed Maria’s hypocrisy to the entire world, hammering the final nail in the coffin. Mission accomplished. – At the same time I wondered if this was how Bakura felt carrying out his schemes, searching for the weakest spot to strike the enemy, hammering out every step of the plan to the last detail. I clearly mastered the art by this point but I still sometimes thought, ‘How tedious all this is!’

“Kaiba, who was sober, understood fully what happened. He smashed Fujita’s video recorder on the floor; Fujita ran like a coward and our machine was broken, but the damage was done. He called his personal guards to arrest Jolene, Yukio, and me this instant, something he had full power to do as he practically owned all of Domino City. Running away from Matthew’s goons years ago gave us much experience, so outpacing Kaina’s henchmen was easy. We sped away in our cheap rental car, clumsily singing with the loud rap music, living fast and ready to die young:

Swimmin’ laps around a bottle of Louis the XIII,
Jumping off of a mountain into a sea of Codeine,
I’m at the top of the top but still I climb,
And if I should ever fall the ground will then turn to wine,
Pop-pop, pop-pop, I feel like flying,
Then I feel like frying, then I feel like dying. 

“And we crashed into the busiest intersection of the city. It was truly a shame I didn’t die, because I passed out in jail and the next thing I saw was Stella, who had flown to Japan just to bail me out. She said grimly, ‘You paid for my mother’s cancer treatment. I paid for your bail. We’re even.’

“I tried explaining everything to Stella, my obsession with revenge, my plot, my intensions, but Stella would have none of it, as if I could have justified myself anyway. She shut me down, ‘And what were you exactly trying to prove; that you’re a giant hypocritical idiot too? Our relationship is over Maya. You and the two clowns you call friends are free. Now get out and do a human centipede,’

“Yukio whistled and howled in laughter just at the thought of remembering what had happened last night. ‘Whoa! Man, that was sweeeeeeeeet!’

“Stella had none of it. ‘Seriously, you all, grow the fuck up!’

“And that was how Stella and me parted ways. It wasn’t until I was sober, literally and figuratively, that I understood how cruel and pointless my prank was, feeling bitter remorse, yet I could not let go of my feelings of vindictive satisfaction. Both our reputations we tarred black and it took a full year to wash it all away; Maria accused of racism and I accused of jealous queen bee sabotage. I had even planned to deliver a sob story about how Maria made me feel less of a person and hurt young women everywhere, to ridicule naïve progressives as well as elitist snobs to make the circle complete, and because I felt like it, but there was no point to it.

Kaiba, who like me could not suffer his pride scorned, tried to grind me down with endless lawsuits and have me banned from dueling forever, but Maria must have seen me as a skilled and worthy duelist in spite of everything I did to her because she offered me a plea bargain in a supreme act of forgiveness. I accepted; I was banned from dueling for six months and took down the offensive video from the Internet, and we both gave public apologies. We were civil thereafter; never again did I publicly insult her or scrap at her again as a spotted hyena in return for her kindness, but we carry distain for each other to this day.

“And that, my friend, is how my hatred of Maria started and my relationship ended. Killed two birds with one stone, huh.”

———————————————-

As Maya prepared to duel Maria for the last time, she now understood it was not Maria she truly hated but her father, who embodied Maria’s cold distain.

Maya’s father once told his only child, after he lost his prestigious job of his own fault and mother was dying of lung cancer, both blows forcing the family to live in a Manhattan project building, in a fit after his young daughter who, with a frenzied mind, an aching heart, and with no one to turn to, got into a huge fight with another child at school; he said to her, “You good for nothing brat, you are unworthy even of my punishment.” And when Maya saw her sick and bald mother, weeping over the phone after hearing her family still disowned her for marrying outside the Islamic faith, and came to embrace and comfort her, her mother sighed in sorrow, “You ruined my life.”

There was nothing Maya could have done with her parents but she could put their ghosts to rest, and she would do that by dueling Maria with basic fairness and charity. No matter what Maria did, she would keep composure. This simple approach, not the grandiose silly image of gamers as chivalrous warriors, was what the honor of the duelist truly was, if such a thing even existed.

Yugioh Sacred Cards Starter Deck

yu-gi-oh-the-sacred-cards-eu-gba

This deck will allow you to play throughout the entire game and consistently win, and it is only about 1900-2000 Deck Capacity. I built such a deck so I could keep going through the game’s story without having to safe the game and grind for hours just to make a better deck. You can get all of the Deck Capacity (DC) and Yen to build this Deck without even having to advance the game’s story by grinding lesser duelists and the Duel Computer at the very start of the game. I did as much and it only took me two to three hours to do it, even with my game crashing a few times because it is so old.

Monsters
1x Skull Knight
2x Legendary Fiend
3x Toad Master
3x Doron
3x Skelengel
3x Ancient Lamp
2x Hourglass of Life
2x Parasite Paracide

Spells & Traps
3x Invisible Wire
3x Acid Trap Hole
3x Widespread Ruin
3x Amazon Archers
3x Torrential Tribute
3x Beckon to Darkness
2x Heavy Storm
1x Pot of Greed

The deck makes the very most out of what little it can. Almost all monsters are low level and with low DC; only Ancient Lamp is the exception. Doron, Toad Master, and Ancient Lamp essentially “duplicate” by adding an extra monster on the field, with Ancient Lamp giving you La Jinn, an 1800 ATK beatstick, a very powerful and expensive monster in Sacred Cards. The purpose is to fill your field with monsters to a strong control over the field, which is so important in this game because summoning monsters is slower and harder than in the real life Yugioh card game.

Skelengel lets you draw a card to keep hand control, which is again harder to do than in real life Yugioh. Hourglass of Life lets you pump up low level monsters while Parasite Paraside transforms even your opponent’s strongest monster in a weak Parasite, but it does give up some field control to do so. Both monsters have their strengths and drawbacks, so I compromised to add 2 copies of both. Skull Knight and Legendary Fiend are tribute monsters with low DC but still quite strong.

The Spells and Traps take advantage of the rules in a way the developers may have missed; all Traps and Spells that destroy monsters have low DC. That means you can easily safeguard all your weak monsters and dispatch even your opponent’s strongest monsters with little waste of resources. You can even defeat Dark Malik without much trouble because your billion traps will destroy any monster he plays, no matter how strong it is. The only exceptions are Heavy Storm; which gets rid of Spells along with monsters, and Pot of Greed; which lets you draw more cards.

Studying Beethoven – Piano Sonata in Bb (Op. 22)

We now enter the last of Beethoven’s early piano sonatas, the sonata in Bb (Op. 22), and it is a fine and grand ending at that. It is the last sonata where Beethoven uses the conventional four-movement format of fast sonata, slow sonata, scherzo, rondo. While he did compose four-movement sonatas later in his career, they all depart from convention in form and content. The “Jagleid” sonata (in Eb, Op. 31) has no serious slow movement, the sonata in A (Op. 101) and “Hammerklavier” sonata (in Bb, Op. 106) put the scherzo movement 2nd and the slow movement 3rd. Even the sonata in Eb (Op. 27), that follows this sonata right after, follows a revised four-movement pattern, though to less effect.

I mentioned before how Beethoven’s earlier four-movement sonatas, though intricate and beautiful, were stilted and forced in some ways, as if Beethoven was still trying to teach himself how to construct the many Classical forms he inherited from Haydn, Salieri, Mozart, Clementi, and other older masters. This sonata, the sonata in Bb (Op. 22) is the last of these earlier sonatas. Beethoven, in all his later four-movement sonatas rewrites the old format to suit his purposes. The sonatas in A (Op. 101) and Bb (Op. 106) put their heavy, slow movements later so as to better lead to a great, satisfying finale. The new format levels the dramatic weight of the sonata at a climactic ending, not at the first movement, a problem Beethoven worked to solve for decades.

Allegro con brio
This sonata in Bb (Op. 22) has the style of a piano concerto – like the sonata in A (Op. 1) – complete with imitations of virtuoso piano passages, orchestral accompaniment, and orchestral tuttis; all of this is most obvious in the first movement. The very main subject itself in Bb imitates a quiet orchestral beginning with softly playing snare drums, a grand statement, and a decisive half cadence. The orchestra builds up in a crescendo as two voices climb up the broken Bb chord together. The grand statement itself is made of two broken descending scales, both built on the notes A (leading tone) and G (submediant), the first ending in an imperfect authentic cadence, the second decisively landing on Bb (tonic). – However, Beethoven surprises us by writing this passage in subito piano (suddenly playing it softly) to hold us back a bit. – A second ascent, now in a full forte, takes us up the Gm broken chord, then slams down on F (dominant), ending the main subject in a half cadence. This both leaves the music open to further lines and prepares for the usual modulation to the dominant. Like in many sonatas before, Beethoven makes his main subject as complicated and dynamic as he can.

So now what? Beethoven delays us a bit with a surprising episode; he undermines his main subject by putting the rising Bb chord passage as a baseline for counterpoint. He even surprises us with harmonies; he jumps to D (mediant), then goes down the circle of 5ths like this: D-Gm-C-F-Bb. This episode concluded, Beethoven gets down to business with a straightforward modulation. Tremolos jump to C (secondary dominant), and hover there while circulating among F and Bd7, the base hums on repeated C notes the entire time, making a secondary dominant base. All this builds expectation for a firm C-F cadence, to solidly nail us to the dominant, a cadence Beethoven avoids completely by softly trailing to F.

The subordinate subject in F builds on the ascending broken tonic chord with two voices moving in parallel thirds, like the main subject; but here we have sweet woodwinds, the virtuoso flurries kept firmly in an F base (new tonic). But keeping the music this way would be boring, so Beethoven suddenly dips into D7 (submediant). The virtuoso base truly goes down a broken D7 chord, but all the D7 chord’s notes are offbeat, so it sounds like Beethoven is going down a C#7 broken chord, so you could call this section bitonal. The F# leading tone in the melody is strongly expected to resolve to Gm, but Beethoven never does so; instead he peaks his melodic arc at C (the secondary dominant) and plows down the scale to loudly land on F (the tonic). Beethoven moves down the circle of fifths again, with the general harmonic plot being D7-Gm-C-F, but he does mutate Gm to Gd and G7, which further develops the music.

We enter a second subordinate subject in F, but this time using parallel thirds to move down a broken chord. It builds a melodic arc from A to D, then breaks that pattern at the end, as Beethoven often does, to jump to G, then falls back down to the tonic. Beethoven leaps down the 3rd with harmonies with Ehd7-C7-A7, which does not resolve to F, as you would expect an Ehd7 chord to do, but prolongs the tension to resolve to Bb (subdominant). Beethoven develops the subordinate subject with a synchopated variation, but finishes it on A, not at a proper resolution. Beethoven builds a lengthy bridge with this open question in A, full of flying arpeggios and broken octave scales in the treble while an active base fills in harmonies below; something you see a pianist do in almost every piano concerto. The closing statement drops suddenly to pianissimo, a base in F (tonic) acting as a drumroll. A treble in three voices starts low but climbs higher, with many diminished progressions: Ahd7-Dm, Ad-B, Edh7-F, and Ed7-F. The diminished chords makes a darker and more mysterious tone, giving the right feel of suspense – until Beethoven suddenly goes to fortissimo! The full orchestra returns to climb up the F scale, peaking at the subdominant, and falling down the F scale to end the exposition.

Beethoven begins his development with a benign precore in F; the snare drum cell breaks into little dominant-tonic motives, and we have an orchestral tutti in F7 that emphasizes the subtonic as its highest note. It suddenly shifts gears into D7 (submediant) as it falls down. The first core is based off the rumbling, suspenseful moment of the closing statement. It starts in D7 (where the precore left off) but soon resolves to Gm, revealing the true home key. The harmonies revolve around Gm, but extends slightly through C#hd7-D cadences, in other words keeping the core suspended on the dominant. The second core is built on a solo virtuoso treble on a broken chord of dominant or leading tone, then resolving to an orchestra tutti – this time developed with parallel sixths and thirds. Thus we have these progressions as the keys keep changing: D7-G, Bd7-C.

The third core keeps this harmonic trend, but turns the treble into ascending and descending arpeggios while the base draws out a broken chord; both parts function to more definitely outline harmonies, which are now more condensed. The harmonies resolve in these progressions: Ed7-F, G7-Cm, Gbd7-F7, Bbm7-Bbd-Eb7. The retransition falls to a low, suspenseful tone; the treble keeps the arpeggios running but its top note keeps hovering over the Eb or Eh note. The base itself takes up the orchestral tutti motif, but softly and only the contrabase is involved. This way we cycle through Eb7-C7!-F7. The base motif breaks down into only the descending line, a held base note in F being a constant, which prepares for a F7-Bb cadence to return us to the home key. Beethoven transforms the downward line motif into an upward F7 scale but denies us a cadence. Instead, he suspends us on a soft, prolonged F7 chord, the top Eb note (subdominant) chosen to further soften both harmony and melodic arc.

The main subject in Bb returns with no change. The transition starting, the brief episode is slightly developed as the opening snare drum motif exchanges base and treble roles in Bb. The soft descending scale is developed as well, the melodic arc now prolonged from Ab (subtonic) to Bb (tonic); the harmonies progress in a similar fashion but using more distant progressions: B-Cm, Eba-Ab, D-Gm, Ad-Bb, Ehd7-F. The tremolo part of the transition trains its focus on Bbm (mutated tonic) rather than C. The subordinate subject repeats but all harmonies based around Bb, as do the second subordinate subject and the long bridge to the closing statement. The closing statement assumes its old character, revolving around Bb; it briefly hops to different harmonies like Ebm7 (subdominant minor) and Cm (supertonic), while we have diminished progressions thus: Ahd7 (w/Cb)-Bb, and Fhd7 (w/Cb)-Bb. The orchestra leaps into a grand tutti, the snare drum motif softly returns with a leading tone-tonic progression, and two final tutti chords.

Adagio con molto espressione
The humming base chords throughout the second movement in Eb are typical of a slow movement in a piano concerto, while the movement itself is in sonata form without the repeated exposition. The main subject in Eb is built on the upward turn and a held out dissonant leaning tone, the first sentence rising: G-Ah (leading)-Bb-Bh (leading)-C (appoggiatura)-D. In essence, we move the mediant of Eb to the median of Bb7, and the harmonies in the base follow suit. The second sentence takes a different approach, built on notes a minor 3rd apart: F-Ab, F#-Ah. Beethoven then breaks the pattern to develop material, in this case using an Eb arpeggio to reach a high Bb (dominant) before falling down an arpeggio to C (submediant), the harmony drifting to Ab and Aba (subdominants both), then Fm (supertonic). Beethoven, never leaving well enough alone, hits an extra sforzando note in C, higher than the Bb high note, and finally falls to Eb. What follows is a kind of closing statement of the main subject, built on a long descending broken Eb chord, arriving to a warm and melancholy cadence in cello and base lines.

We enter a brief transition to take us to Bb, built on an abridged version of the closing statement, itself built on the rising and falling 3rd. This way the melody is built on an Eb chord: G-Bb-Eb. Now Beethoven must resolve his transition down to a Bb (dominant) note, while also modulating to that same harmony. He does so by taking his melody down a chromatic scale from Eb to Bb, while his base acts as counterpoint to guide the harmonic progression through upward chromatic cells: Ah-Bb, Eb-F. Beethoven drifts a bit to Cd7-Gm-Ebm7, but he ultimately he cadences with a diminished chord: Ed7-F7+4-Bb.

The subordinate subject is based on a descending scale of complex rhythms and small note values, with a brief stretto where the tenor takes after the soprano ceases to climb up again. First time in Bb: the subject falls from D to D two octaves below, the soprano turning upward to F (dominant). Second time in Eb7a: subject falls from D to Bb in the base, while the soprano turns upward to Bb as well. Then the melody breaks up into leading tone cells, going up the Bb chord and down the Cm chord. Beethoven augments his melody with ever smaller note values so the subordinate subject may reach its climax, and to bring out a virtuoso passage typical in a piano concerto. The virtuoso passage peaks at a high F note (dominant) before falling down an elaborate road built on the Eb chord, then a long chromatic scale rising to that high F again, and finally an F7 arpeggio fall to Bb (tonic). The closing statement builds on a rising 2nd and falling 3rd, with an offbeat leading town first. The harmony can be interpreted as A (major leading tone)-Bb-F7-Bb.

The precore of the development is simple, where Beethoven takes the turn and leading tone motifs of the first subject, climbing up a Bd broken chord as the base hums a G base note, making the overall harmony G7 (submediant major of Bb). After Beethoven reaches the important F note his melody divides into two parts among soprano and alto, as they both move their way down the scale; the soprano moves F-Eh-D-Cb and the alto in a parallel 6th – but broken by moments it leaps a fifth to the subtonic of the chord and falls down a m2nd. All this happens while the base moves down the circle of 5ths: C7-F7-Bb7-Eb7-Abm. So we arrive to a brief three voice core; the soprano melody rises and falls a m2nd, the alto and tenor move in parallel thirds. The harmony now moves up the circle of 5ths in leading tone progressions: Gd7-Abm, Dhd7-Ebm, Bd7-Bb7, Ad-Bb. The retransition holds out the soprano on Bb and repeats an Ah-Bb leading tone sequence while a fourth voice, the base, arrives to hold out a low Bb note. Beethoven hovers on Bb (dominant of Eb) to prepare us to return to Eb (tonic).

The main subject in Eb repeats but with the melody augmented with embellishments, again quite common in a piano concerto. In addition, Beethoven throws in more leading tones, both to suspend the melody (F#-G notes) and to spice up the key notes in arpeggios. The closing statement cuts to the transition straightaway with no extra cadences while transition takes a longer chromatic descent down an Eb octave. The base is built on cells rising up a m2nd; the cells themselves hop down and up the base registers. The harmonic progression takes a surprising twist by leaping to harmonies a M2nd and m3rd away, such as Ab-Gb-Bb9 and modulating back to the tonic through Fb-Gb7-Bb7-Eb. The subordinate subject and closing statement follow the same program as the exposition, just all around Eb.

Menuetto
The minuet and trio in Bb are refreshingly simple after the grand first and second movements. The minuet subject is built up a rising Bb chord, then once it reaches a Bb (tonic) it moves up the scale through dotted notes to F (dominant). Beethoven keeps the base, based on thirds, interesting through rising leading tones. After this small modulation to the dominant, the subject resolves by rising and falling in broken Eb and Ad chords, while the arpeggio base keeps the harmonic context in F7. Then Beethoven uses a turn motif to climb up the Ahd7 chord to a G note (subtonic), then cadences to Bb. The baseline in turn holds on to the dominant note, while the tenor moves down the scale from Eb to Bb.

The development comes is composed of a sentence divided into two parts. The first part is a tremolo built on the C#d7-D progression, building to a fortissimo crescendo. The high treble takes over, falling from a high D (dominant) to G (tonic); in this way D is established, then subverted by becoming the dominant as the music modulates to Gm through Ad-Gm-Ahd7-Gm. Gm is itself the submediant and relative minor of Bb. The second sentence: the tremolo is built on the Bb7-Cb progression, using the Neapolitan, but holding out the dominant-tonic progression that typically comes afterward until the very last moment; the melody falls from Ab (subtonic) to Ah (leading tone) and the harmonies proceed in Bd7-Cm progressions, only entering Bb-F-Bb at the lead us back to the reprise. The reprise carries as usual, but Beethoven adds a codetta at the end. The melody’s broken chords carry out through Gm7-Bb-Bb, the harmony progresses Bb-Eb-Bb-Cm+4. The end of the codetta is unusual as the melody grounds itself on D-Eb (leading tone to subdominant), the harmony exchanging Bb-Cm+4, and only making a F7-Bb cadence at the last moment.

In the minore, Beethoven lets the base put many turns into a virtuoso chain while the treble becomes a set of block chords. The base tumbles down in such a manner that it falls down and up Gm and D broken chords as to be able to rise up to a D note (dominant) in the tenor range. The melody follows a simple path, D (dominant) leaping to G (tonic) but falling to F# (leading tone) to end on the dominant harmony. The “resolution” of the minore ends in the dominant; the treble and base spell out a Ed-F progression but breaks a Ehd7 progression with the secondary dominant, moving A-D. The melody is itself bizarre; it leaps from G (tonic) to C# (leading tone to the dominant) to D (dominant). The melody, in a way, progresses D-G and G-D, the opposite pattern you would usually expect.

Beethoven follows a brief development where both treble and base move contrapuntally down in 3rds in a virtuoso flurry; three motifs overlap each other in three voices. Beethoven’s melody starts in a high Ab (mutating D to Dd – an interesting turn), and the key notes keep falling from G down an Ab7a chord, landing to the Gm harmony to begin the reprise. The harmony revolves around Cm and Gm through: G-Cm, Ad-D-Gm. The reprise is short, with no extra material, in fact shortened; the melody D note (dominant) leaps to G (tonic) but then to C (subdominant) – small harmonic movement down the circle of 5ths – then a dominant-tonic cadence. The harmonies follow the same Ad-D-Gm progression as in the development, giving the revived minore subject a new perspective.

Allegretto
The last movement in Bb is ostensibly a rondo, and similar to the rondo in the sonata in Eb (Op. 7) in holding complex subjects with three or more voices, though thankfully the harmonies are not too complicated. The main subject in Bb begins up on an F note (dominant) and functions by dipping and rising, using a dissonant leading tone (like in the second movement) to lean on the last note of the phrase. Our first phrase, the question, does this by building around the notes of the F chord (dominant), leaning on a C note (secondary dominant). The second phrase, the answer, builds around a Bb7a chord, ending on a D note (median of tonic). The base voice hangs on A (leading tone) and Bb (tonic) during both respective phrases. The main subject resolves itself by using Alberti to hover on G and F notes, scales up from D to a high D (median) and resolves on F (dominant), where it started. The harmony gets interesting at this point as G (submediant major) replaces Gm, as one would expect. But the main subject is not fully resolves. It repeats in a variation, treble in octaves, base an octave lower to give a fuller range from highest to lowest notes. Extra Ab and Ah notes enter in an alto part, putting a hard dissonance on the G harmonies while complementing the F harmonies. An extra phrase acts as a codetta of sorts; a chromatic scale up from Bb to high Bb, with augmented notes, peaking at the tonic to signal a firm resultion, and a perfect authentic cadence to conclude it.

Beethoven transitions from tonic to dominant through a brief episode, using two complex little motifs based on the rising 3rd, one to add tension, the other to resolve. We have two harmonic progressions in this manner: Bb-Cm-F7-Bb, then Bb-C-C7-F, where Cm (supertonic) mutates into C (secondary dominant), allowing the C7-F cadence. The subordinate subject comes in two parts; the first part is made of simple rising arpeggios with the notes held out, the top note consistently A, while the harmony stays in F, only once veering to Bb7 and Dd, then topping on a high F note (tonic).

Then comes a long descent of synchopated octaves, with the base acting as counterpoint and root the harmonies. So Beethoven moves the melody down from F (tonic) to a lower F, but with a slight upward curve. A bit more comes afterward where the structure of the base duplicates in the melody, which itself uses leading tones while the key notes move up and down a broken F chord, and end with syncopated alto and tenor voices in parallel thirds. A new sentence emerges in the subordinate subject, rising arpeggios, similar to those at the very start, moving up and down different chords, the base holding rising notes to also spell out a harmony. The F-C7 progression happen twice, then the melody condenses, keeps climbing up over and aver again, peaking at F (tonic) at the very top, harmonies being F7-Bbm (a small surprise) then falls down the Gb7 chord (Neopolitan). The closing statement acts also as a retransition, since it is a rondo, built on two descending scales complimenting each other throw counterpoint, but as it intensifies, only one scale survives, that starts at a high F and repeats over and over again, then augments, the peak notes traveling through F-Gb-G.

The main subject returns in Bb with no change, but a variation of the transition appears in Bbm (tonic minor) to act as a precore in development would. Beethoven takes advantage of harmonies related to Bbm that would otherwise be distant, such as Ab, but now we modulate to a new key through C-Fm, and Bd7-C-Fm; to the dominant minor. The second subordinate subject in Fm acts as a development of sorts. The soprano uses C (dominant) and F (tonic) as its top notes to lynchpin the alto as it follows a dipping and rising melodic arc, the tenor and base moving in parallel thirds, in opposing counterpoint. The subject makes two attempts to each a climax, a tactic Beethoven used to keep building suspense. The soprano makes the first attempt (harmony in Bbm), climbing from F (tonic) to C (dominant), but this lifts all voices up an octave, so the alto tries climbing from Ah (Fm briefly mutates to F7) to F (tonic). This success a quick and savage motif tear down the melody from a high F down two octaves.

Beethoven gives us a second precore, one even longer and more convoluted than the first. We starts with the first precore’s motif, slightly more embellished, and slowly rises up the treble clef with it, fitting whatever harmony it is in, starting in Gb but soon falling into a nexus of Bbm-Cm-F7. Two new motifs enter, of the same nature but moving in opposite counterpoint, and they alternate in stretto, developing the rhythm. Beethoven has no clear melodic arc in this area, neither a clear harmonic progression; he uses the change to jump around various odd keys related to Fm, such as Ebm, Gd,Db, Cd, Cm, Gb, and he finally lands to Bbm through Ebm-Bbm-F7-Bbm. The subordinate subject enters again, but in Bbm (tonic minor), and repeats itself the same way, save for forte climax where the Bb note leaps to the F note, not up the octave. This is just one example of how the dominant note is so important to Beethoven since it harmonically grounds the work in tonic or dominant, keeps the music ambiguous to a certain extent, keeps tension as it has not resolved yet, and makes modulating to distant keys easy.

The retransition to the main subject uses the dominant in a unique; the melody uses a chromatic dynamic between Gb and F notes while the harmony progresses in Chd7-F (only one Ad7 is the exception). And this way we return to the main subject once more in a sort of recapitulation. The main subject enters a unique variation with broken octaves, normal octaves, parallel sixths, and heavily embellished melodies – yet the harmonies and basic melodic arcs stay the same; a true variation. The transition and subordinate subject remains the same but centering on Bb, though the rising arpeggios at the end emphasize Dd and Eb, signaling a subdominant, as important in all recapitulations. A small tonally ambiguous variation of the main subject is added in, using three melodic arcs to bring us to the retransition; built on C-F notes, D-G notes, and Ab-D notes. The Bb harmony, which should be clear, is blurred by being mutated in Bd so often, while the familiar F (dominant) is replaced with Gm, Eb, and Cm, all related keys but not providing the solid cadence a dominant harmony can give. The retransition mirrors its old self, though a rising chromatic scale brings us back to the main subject while we have an F (dominant) basso continuo.

Another variation of the main subject ensues, though it is not so outlandish, the melody simply being augmented to triplets and 32nd notes; later with the octaves the triplets get broken to add more diversity. The movement ends in a coda that is especially beautiful even by Beethoven’s standards, built from the transition’s motif inverted; the soprano repeats F (dominant) while the alto climbs from Bb (tonic) to Eb (subdominant). The soprano then assumes the melodic line while alto fills in the harmony, rising from Bb (tonic) to F (dominant) before falling back to Bb. The sentence repeats with the base embellished in an orchestral drone. The second little phrase, where the soprano soars high, is twice repeated in crescendo, climaxing to fortissimo where the entire orchestra of the piano concerto joins in. The movement quietly trails off, soprano and alto falling in parallel 3rds, where the melodic arc of the main subject is “perfected”; F falls to F and simply rises in Bb, this happening twice. A soft dominant-tonic cadence, then a sudden loud one!

 

Choral Fantasy Translation

Schiller’s lyrics from Beethoven’s choral fantasy, translated so it can be sung. Now you can sing along in English!

German
Schmeichelnd hold und lieblich klingen
unseres Lebens Harmonien
und dem Schönheitssinn entschwingen
Blumen sich, die ewig blühn.
Fried und Freude gleiten freundlich
wie der Wellen Wechselspiel.
Was sich drängte rauh und feindlich,
ordnet sich zu Hochgefühl

Wenn der Töne Zauber walten
und des Wortes Weihe spr-icht
muss sich Herrliches gestalten
Nacht und Stürme werden Licht
Äuss’re Ruhe, inn’re Wonne
herrschen für den Glücklichen
Doch der Künste Frühlingssonne
ässt aus beiden Licht entstehn

Großes, das ins Herz gedrungen
blüht dann ne-eu und schön empor
Hat ein Geist sich aufgeschwungen
hallt ihm stets ein Geisterchor
Nehmt denn hin, ihr schönen Seelen
froh die Gaben schöner Kunst
Wenn sich Lieb und Kraft vermählen
lohnt den Menschen Göttergunst.

English
Graceful, charming, sweet, and singing,
Our living tones are beginning,
With a sense of beauty rising
As flowers forever bloom.
Peace and Joy do flow together
As the calming play of waves.
The once bitter has forever
Transformed into august Joy

Music’s magic reins enchanting,
Telling us the sacred wa-ay.
The sun’s mighty glory rising
Night and tempest turn to day.
Peace reigns the world, Bliss reigns the heart,
Solacing the blessed men.
All the genius in Springtime’s Arts;
Let all sunlight shine from them

Grandeur did pierce our hearts with light,
Blooming new in wond’rous sou-und.
Once our souls have taken in flight,
Spirit choirs do resound.
Let all Truth shine, joyous beings,
From High Art’s beloved Grace.
When Love and Strength, come uniting,
All men rise through Divine Grace.

Yugioh Created Cards (Duels 10 & 11)

STELLA’S CARDS

Yong’an – Brave Purple Dragon
WIND/Wyrm/Link 3/ATK 2350/Arrows: Top, Bottom-Left, Bottom-Right
2+ Effect monsters
1)   When this monster is Successfully Special Summoned: you can Special Summon 1 Level 4 or lower Wyrm monster from your hand.
2)   When this monster is destroyed by battle or card Effect: you can return 1 Wyrm monster from your Graveyard to your hand.
3)   If a monster this card points to would be destroyed by battle or card Effect: you can destroy this card instead

Li’bao – Brave Bichromal Hunter
EARTH/Beast-Warrior/Link 2/ATK 1850/Arrows: Top, Bottom
2 Level 4 or lower monsters
1)   If this card is destroyed by battle: target 1 “Brave” monster you control; increase its ATK by 1000, also all face-up monsters your opponent controls must battle it.
2)   If this card is destroyed by card Effect: target 1 monster your opponent controls; destroy it.

 

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 11

Duel 11 – Why Netdeckers Should Be Shot

Tamas nearly shits himself seeing such a long-winded turn, and one that achieved so much, nearly breaking his whole deck. It might as well have done so, since Chaofeng, Stella’s ace dragon, negates all his EARTH monsters, meaning all his Zoodiacs are useless, and furthermore, it is shielded by a marathon of prevention Effects inherited from all the lesser Yang Zing dragons that gave their lives to bring their king into being.

Mathias, feeling a little naughty, gives Stella the left-handed comment, “Impressive combo and lock you got there. Maya would be proud.”

And Maya decides to add salt to the wound with, “I hope Chaofeng is not all you got, like when Sophia murdered you back in Egypt; I’d be disappointed otherwise.”

“You’re serious!” Stella is flabbergasted. “Chaofeng is the boss monster of the entire Yang Zing archetype; what more could you possibly want?”

“I want you as the ace, not one stupid monster or stupid archetype, and you know exactly what I’m talking about. You’d better give it to me this duel.”

“I’ll give it to you when we duel, and so much more.”

Now Mathias is confused. “What esoteric gibberish are you two shouting now? Just by your code language I know you two were lovers.”

Maya brings upon herself to explain the details, “Me and Stella used to drink lots of coffee together along with ——– and ——–, and after these sessions we would talk about how to improve this stupid card game, how to take roguedecking, as it were, to the next level. I don’t know about Stella, but regarding me, it is top secret.” She then shouts at her estranged ex-girlfriend, “You better have some antimeta or something interesting or I will climb up there and smack you myself.”

“Burn in Hell.” Stella rebukes her.

“I heard Hell’s pretty lit. You should join me.”

“It’s a pretty big room for you two.” Mathias comments. “You should get it.”

“Can I join in?” Tamas offers.

“NO!”

TAMAS’ TURN: “Aww.” Tamas pretends to groan in self-pity. He draws, which is exactly the right card he needs! “Raigeki!” he shouts as he activates his card, and all of Stella’s monsters die under the stroke of a single thunderbolt.

“COME ON! I WORKED SO HARD FOR THIS FIELD!” Stella shouts in disbelief, her hands on her head.

Even the stoic Kaiba throws shade at such a cheap and easy play, and declares that starting next year he will join the game once more and drag Yugi himself back kicking and screaming if he has too. The metagame as become cancer for much too long, and while he commends Maya and Stella for their efforts at turning Yugioh back into a kind of art, it is too little too late. Next year, he will muck the floor with every netdecker who ever lived!

Though Stella has suffered a heavy blow, she is far from dead, as her cards, even her dead monsters, unleash all of their Effects. Thus Stella declares, one after the next, “Supply Squad, Chaofeng, Li’bao, and my triggered Permanent Trap Yang Zing Creation, all go off, in this order: I draw a card from Supply Squad, add a Wyrm from Deck to hand from Chaofeng, kill your Drident from Li’bao, and Special Summon a Yang Zing monster from my Deck with Yang Zing Creation!”

“Bitch, you’re such a faggot, you know that?” Tamas falls to throwing slurs again. “I play Cosmic Cyclone to banish your Creation!” And so Tamas pays 1000 Life so his space cyclone can disintegrate Stella’s card. But Tamas, much to his chagrin, cannot stop any of Stella’s other cards, not even the targeting effect of her hunter, as using Decode Talker’s effect would lose his Drident anyway; and that is how Li’bao the cheetah hunter pierced the chief Zoodiac’s heart with a burning arrow. Tamas minds little of it, as he can easily replace her.

Stella pounces on her narrow window of chance, “I activate Dimension Barrier, and call Xyz Monsters! No more Zoodiacs this turn.”

“Shrill women like you are cancer. You should go back to blogging at Jezebel from where you came from.” The annoyed Tamas exclaims.

“For once I agree.” Maya enjoins him, just to piss Stella off.

Tamas rejoins the duel. “I Normal Summon Zoodiac Thoroughblade, and use its Effect.” A fiery man-horse wield an exceptionally long and broad sword gallops into the fray, and Tamas discards a Zoodiac card to draw a new card. “Decode Talker, Thoroughblade, hit Stella directly!” The monsters cleave at Stella with their mighty strength, but Stella survives the assault. (Stella LP 4000 à 100)

“Dammit! I almost got you! I set a card facedown and end my turn. It’s not like you can do anything anyway.”

STELLA’S TURN: Stella draws, and remarks, “Maya, you wanted me to use some antimeta. Well, I did, but that won’t kill Tamas. I’ll prove you wrong, as you are with many things, with something more interesting. I Normal Summon Zoodiac Ratpier!” And behold, Stella’s own rat warrior takes her stance.

“Hypocrite, hypocrite, hypocrite! Netdecker, netdecker!” Tamas is so shocked and offended he can only blabber.

“Oh settle down already, you spastic virginal twerp. I use Raptier’s Effect to mill another Ratpier, then overlay her to Xyz Summon Zoodiac Drident, and use her effect to pop your Thoroughblade.” Stella’s one Zoodiac transforms into another one, and this new fighter thrusts her trident to slay Tamas’ monster. “I overlay Drident to Xyz Summon Zoodiac Chakanine, and use her effect to revive the second Ratpier,” The dog fighter replaces the tigress, and through her magical skills resurrects the second Ratpier. “I overlay Chakanine to Xyz Summon Zoodiac Tigermortar and detach the Chakanine Material to attach my dead Ratpier to it, and use its other Effect (given by the Ratpier Material) to Special Summon another Zoodiac Ratpier from my Deck.” And so another rat warrior assumes a ready stance. “Then I overlay Tigermortar to Xyz Summon another Zoodiac Chakanine, and use her effect to revive the last Ratpier.” Another dog warrior appears and the last Ratpier with her.”

“This neat little engine just gave me 4 Materials, so I will use them all to Link Summon Borreload Dragon!” Her Zoodiacs she worked so hard to get into play dissolved into four marker arrows, a gateway forming in their middle, and a fearsome dragon of scarlet and deep blue arrives. “Borreload, attack Decoy Talker.” Her dragon assaults the digital knight, but with a killing breath, but a toxic one, brainwashing it to her side. “Now, both monsters, finish Tamas off!” The knight slices at Tamas’, hitting him hard, but the dragon is not so lucky. (Tamas LP 3000 à 700)

Tamas reveals his Trap, “I activate Xyz Reborn, reviving Drident and attaching the Trap to her as Material, then detach it to kill Borreload.” His dragon lady revives, brandishing her trident, ready for revenge; she lunges at Stella’s dragon.

“I use your Decode Talker’s Effect, sacrificing my Borreload to destroy Drident!” Stella counters, her mighty dragon vanishing, her new monster impaling Tamas’ best Zoodiac, sending the dragon lady to a shallow grave once more. “I set two cards facedown.” Stella ends her turn.

Tamas, shocked at such a timely play, falls to foul shouting and cursing at Stella. Pegasus covers his dainty ears, refusing to hear such fowl language while Kaiba, annoyed, chips in his broadcasters with the microphone in his trenchcoat, ordering them to censor Tamas straightaway.

Mathias nudges Maya gentle on the shoulder, whispering, “That was amazing, wasn’t it?”

Maya shrugs in distain. “Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention. I thought Tamas channeled Bandit Keith from beyond the grave. Maybe he’s a psychic; he should help Jolene with her astrology nonsense.”

“Playing hard to get won’t win Stella back.”

“You assume I care about Stella; I don’t, at all.” Though Maya doesn’t admit it, Stella’s brilliant move does touch her heart with fire, the same fire she felt a few years ago that made her fall in love with Stella to begin with. Stella used Tamas’ own cards, his own hackneyed archetype, for a unique strategy and, to add the icing to the cake, threw them away as the fodder they are to bring out a higher monster. Maya would applaud Stella, but then remembers that she hates her.

TAMAS’ TURN: “I’ve had it with your ‘rogue’ Deck insulting me, bitch faggot noob! I’m going for the ultimate Zoodiac Combo” Tamas’ humility (or lack thereof) is put to its short limit, while Stella perks her ears at “ultimate Zoodiac Combo”, knowing exactly the well-known tactic Tamas would play next.

“I activate Zoodiac Combo in my Graveyard, which I sent there by Thoroughblade’s Effect; I banish it to return all my 5 Zoodiac Xyz Monsters to my Deck and draw a card. Then I Normal Summon Zoodiac Bunnyblast, now overlay her to Xyz Summon Zoodiac Hammerkong, Zoodiac Tigermortar, Zoodiac Broadbull, Zoodiac Chakanine, and Zoodiac Drident. Then I Xyz Summon all their second copies from my Deck, and finally I Xyz Summon Zoodiac Boarbow!” The parade of double Zoodiac animals commences its procession on Tamas’ field, climaxing with the arrival of a boar archer, aiming his arrow at Stella’s heart. Yes, it holds only 500 ATK but that meager strength is enough to take out all of Stella’s Life.

Stella, taut as a wire, springs in a pinch. “I activate Great Horn of Heaven!” The cornucopia horn appears, then blasts Tamas’ best monster with the power of its notes, yet Tamas draws a card from its drawback Effect. Stella lets herself smile for the first time this duel, saying, “You won’t be attacking me directly with Boarbow this turn, let alone even battling since I skipped your Main Phase.”

“Another batman gambit. I’m impressed.” Comments Maya to Mathias.

Tamas grovels, setting two cards facedown, calling his turn over.

STELLA’S TURN: Stella draws, seizing her chance. “I destroy two monsters in my hand to Special Summon Mariamne, the True Dracophoenix!” A lithe and airy dragon of six wings of gauzy feathers makes her graceful landing, and since Stella destroyed Yang Zing monsters, she brings out Suanni, Fire of the Yang Zing and Bi’an, Earth of the Yang Zing (and draws a card from Supply Squad).

“I activate Dimensional Barrier!” Tamas declares. “And I declare…”

“Yes, declare what?” Stella inquires, eager for victory.

Tamas cannot decide what kind of Extra Deck monster to choose, because Stella does not need any Extra Deck monster. And Tamas’ other card? A Solemn Strike he cannot play for he lacks the Life to pay for it.

“That’s what I thought. All monsters, direct attack! End the duel!” Stella’s monsters all blow away their target at once, throwing Tamas off the arena.

Stella concludes the duel, “Easy come, easy go. Good riddance.”

Tamas: 0 | Stella: 700

—————————————————-

Xiaoyi watched every duel so far in her hotel room back in Egypt, guzzling down popcorn and wiping the butter oil on her white dress where her breasts were, without a care in the world. She couldn’t wait to see Maya’s duel coming up next, eagerly wondering what her super secret new strategies were, then pondered with sarcastic thought if she, as a Chinese-American woman, should be offended by all of Stella’s and Tamas’ “cultural appropriation”. She couldn’t care less over something so little, as opposed to all the truly offensive things she did over the last two weeks.

Why, she counted with her fingers, she brainwashed a vulnerable young man, instigated a brutal dictatorship resulting in the deaths of thousands, pulled the strings of a resurgent crime syndicate resulting in more pointless deaths, killed a few Egyptian soldiers, killed Matthew’s girlfriend, tricked her “master” into going along with her scheme while thinking it was his the whole time, then she finally killed him. That made four acts of fraud on one hand and three acts of violence on the other. But wait! She was still committing her final fraud.

At the moment three policemen knocked on the door; investigating the murder of one Gernand de Laclos lead them to this apartment. Xiaoyi took off her only piece of clothing and lewdly kissed the chief officer, bidding him to taste the tight, petite, and sweet woman they could only mail order from Thailand, and only in their pathetic dreams. The cops easily lost to the temptation, all of them falling for her, wherein they re-enacted the groping they had done to a woman a few months ago while pretending to conduct a body search, this time finishing the job they privately longed to do for so long; Xiaoyi herself thoroughly enjoyed their silly fantasy, even discharging before they did. As soon as the men expired, losing all their steam, Xiaoyi instantly slit their thoughts as if they were cattle; now her fantasy was complete.

Xiaoyi sighed in disappointment, watching three pools of blood soak the hotel carpet – make that four acts of violence so far, still an underachiever – Now she had to clean the mess she made and get out of the country before she was arrested, an inconvenience that annoyed her enough to throw a small tantrum. That these stupid cops would pooh-pooh on her watching Maya’s duel live on television!

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 10

Duel 10 – Why No One Likes Meta

The two duelists, Weevil and Mathias, stepped down from the arena, wearied out from their trials, Weevil too tired to feel disappointment, Mathias too exhausted to enjoy his victory. Poor Mathias could not appreciate his conquest anyway; he thought Weevil was so weak just struggling to beat him was a humiliation. It was at that moment when Mathias saw his pride, in a brief flash, the pride of Lucifer, and the red dragon that was his Ka rose again to confront him. Mathias would have felt shame but he was too tired. Weevil fell into Rex arms, Rex hugging and consoling him, but Weevil was happy despite his loss. He knew, at last, he made himself into a strong duelist.

Pegasus reminded the remaining finalists with a feigned kindness to take care of themselves with a short break; Stella and Tamas would fight each other next round. Stella eyed Maya once but said nothing, would not condescend to speak to such a terrible person. Maya got the message but wanted Stella to win, so she would face her in the semifinals – because she still loved her? “Nonsense! I want to grind that woman to the curb so she would never challenge me again!”

Maya told Stella in plain English, “Tamas is what my dad would call a го́пник; his dirty cheap jeans mismatched with a track sweater, and his demeanor of course, will tell you that. So he will duel like one.”

Stella quickly figured out it was Maya’s way of calling Tamas a meta, netdecking sheep, but with some racism and classism thrown in, because Maya simply had to make everyone her enemy or rival in some way while projecting her ingrained inferiority complex on other people, as if putting others down made you stronger.

Stella left Maya behind, putting her amateur psychoanalysis behind her, and it was here that Stella remembered how they met in the first place. Stella recalled the entire history to her heart: “I remember traveling with my teammates to New York for an International Circuit, a massive informal round robin tournament where duelists around the world jousted each other for an entire week. On the third day, I went to a bar in New York’s skyline, and met one teenager named Zusan who dressed up as Princess Peach – it was Halloween night – and this girl was a real King of Games, who played other games so well – unlike Maya, who was only good at Yugioh but couldn’t get herself out of a paper bag in dominoes – oh yes, I watched her fail horribly at the airport.

“Anyway, I remembered Zusan, because earlier in the week I saw her wipe the floor with every chess hustler at Union Square at the same time – blindfolded and tipsy! She was now dead drunk, and she saw he tell a sexist man off, saying, ‘I’m a big girl, I can take care of myself!’ Zusan went up to me and said, ‘I’m a big girl too. Wanna’ make out?’ I shrugged and we did so. – Why not? – Maya, who had been drunk and sex-crazed for boys every night, found us and joined in the melee, suggesting we do a human centipede that night. I won’t remind myself what that kind of threesome that was, but I’m sure the depraved Maya invented it on the spot.

“A year later in Iceland, Maya proposed to go on a date with me, provided she beat me in a duel. The nerve, after embarrassing me like that! She was surely, abrasive, and insolent, but had a roguish charm. And she paid for all my mother’s treatment when she had breast cancer, while she was in a tight spot with money, losing all her money to get back home or even stay in a hotel. So I accepted, and we both dueled with Archfiend decks – for chess, as legend has it, came from a Shadow Game played in India known as the Archfiend’s Duel. Maya recalled the Spanish love poem where Mars challenged Venus to a game for her love, Mercury as the referee, and easily won, as Maya did.

“Maya dropped her libertine ways. No longer did she drink, party, and gamble – I don’t blame her, to suddenly taste wealth and fame after living in the Lower East Side projects! – I was the sole aim of her affections, but then something happened…”

“Stella and Tamas, please enter the arena immediately!” Isono commanded, breaking her train of thought. Did she brood for that long?

The two duelists took their positions, Tamas commenting, “Ready to get cucked, girl?”

“Cucked? What is that supposed to mean?” Stella was a little confused.

“It means to get served, retard.”

“Ugh.” Го́пник indeed.

Mathias mused to himself. “Isn’t that reference several years in the future? It’s like the author is writing in 2017, but the setting is in 2009. Hmm.”

“Duel start!” Isono declared, and the game was off.

Tamas: 8000 | Stella: 8000

TAMAS’ TURN: “Zoodiacs are the best meta deck out there and I’ll show you why rogue decks suck peanut butter coated monkey balls. I Special Summon Blackwing – Gofu the Vague Shadow, and activate it’s Effect to give me two Vague Shadow Tokens.” With his commands a black sparrow swoops in faster than sound, small in size but burning with a huge fiery aura, and with it arrive two smaller sparrows. “Go Link Summoning! I get rid of my two Shadow Tokens to Link Summon Link Spider, then all my monsters to Link Summon Decode Talker!” Soon all birds transform into two cybernetic spiders, then a digital knight in deep blue armor wielding a single-sided blade.

“Next comes the Zoodiac combo! I still didn’t Normal Summon yet, so I Summon Zoodiac Ratpier, and activate her to mill a Zoodiac monster, and overlay her to Xyz Summon Zoodiac Boarbow, then overlay Boarbow to Xyz Summon Zoodiac Broadbull, and detach 2 Materials, one to search for a Zoodiac monster, two to Special Summon another Zoodiac Ratpier from my Deck, then overlay Broadbull to Xyz Summon Zoodiac Chakanine, and detach 1 Material to resurrect the Zoodiac Ramram I milled earlier, then overlay Chakanine to Xyz Summon Zoodiac Tigermortar, and then overlay her to Xyz Summon Zoodiac Drident, and use her Effect to pop Ramram, then activate Ramram to revive a Ratpier from the Graveyard.” An enormous train of warrior-animals quickly arrive and disappear, one at a time: a rat, a boar, a bull, a dog, a ram, a tiger, and a dragon.

“I overlay my two Ratpiers Xyz Summon Daigusto Emeral.” The revived rat and ram warriors make way for a flying one. “I activate its Effect; I detach 1 Material to return 3 monsters from my Graveyard back to my Deck to draw 1.” Tamas pants from reciting such a trying and boring list, his face blue, then sets 2 cards facedown.

 

“Bet that was too hard for you to follow.” He insists.

“I saw everything perfecly.” Stella answered. “You memorized a move set, nothing more. That doesn’t take skill.”

“I’d like to see you beat me, retard, or are on your period with your girlfriend?”

STELLA’S TURN: Stella seriously wonders at this point how such a lowly and stupid cur made it this far in this tournament. Oh, right, he netdecked and abused a broken deck. Tamas would have had no challenge a few years ago but now things are starting to change. She wishes she faced a worthy opponent for a change, like Maria, but she takes comfort from the thought that if she wins she will face Maya next. “I hate you, Maya,” Stella thought. “But I’d rather duel you than anyone else. Wait for me.” But it is Stella who waits, as she struggles to find a way to counter Tamas, not just his Zoodiacs but his two hidden cards; she has to play perfectly.

“Each duelist has a minute to make a move.” Isono reminds her. “You have thirty seconds left.”

Twenty seconds pass.

“Come on, retard, make your move already!” Tamas demands her.

Ten seconds.

“I’m bored, faggot bitch faggot! You got period problems?”

Five seconds.

Four.

Three.

Two.

One.

Zer-

Stella has lost patience with this fool. “I Special Summon Blackwing – Gofu the Vague Shadow, and use his effect to Special Summon 2 Vague Shadow Tokens.” Her own three sparrows make due entrance. “I link up the two Shadow Tokens to Link Summon 2 Link Spiders.” And her digital bugs appear as well.

Tamas points his finger at her in petulant indignation. “Hypocrite, hypocrite, hypocrite! You’re copying me! ARGLEBARGLESKGURKDGJDGHGOSBGHSKGKDGF!”

“Sit down and shut up, manchild! I’m not done yet; I link up all my monsters to Link Summon Yong’an the Brave Purple Dragon!” Three old monsters leave the stage for someone new to enter the spotlight: a small but strong and stout purple dragon with golden horns.

“I activate Drident to pop your gay monster!” Tamas interrupts her play, with his dragon lady thrusting a trident through the purple dragon’s heart. “I put that to a stop. G.G., L.O.L.”

“You didn’t. Spyro – I mean, Yong’an – has a Quick Effect letting me Special Summon Jiaotu, Darkness of the Yang Zing.” Whereby an evil Chinese dragon shrouded in black smoke billows into form. “And since Yong’an died, I’ll return a Wyrm from the Graveyard to my Deck, namely Yong’an itself. I knew you’d be frightened of a monster you never saw before, but there’s much more.

“I activate the Permanent Spell Supply Squad, then use Jiaotu’s Effect.” Stella sends 2 Yang Zing cards from her hand to the Graveyard and, in turn, she brings forth Taotie, Shadow of the Yang Zing and Pulao, Wind of the Yang Zing; thus the elements of shade and wind join her side in dragon form. “And I tune Jiaotu and Taotie to Synchro Summon Yazi, Evil of the Yang Zing, and use its effect to destroy itsenf and your Zoodiac Drident!” Her two evil dragons align, opening the gateway, and a large black dragon flies in from the clouds to smash into Tamas’ field.

But Tamas reacts: “Go, Decode Talker! Tribute Daigusto to protect Drident!” The latter shatters as glass, the pieces absorb into the glowing sword of the former, who throws it straight into the evil dragon’s heart; the beast roars, misses its target, falling off the pyramid towards its death.

Yet this does not deter Stella in the slightest. “Destroying Yazi lets me Special Summon a Wyrm from my Deck. Meet Mare Mare, the parent seahorse! (And I draw 1 card from Supply Squad.)” A huge father seahorse shows up, his womb seeming ready to burst at the seams. “I use its Effect to Special Summon 3 Mini Mare Mare Tokens, then tune one of them with Mare Mare to Synchro Summon Accel Synchron, and use its effect to Mill a Jet Synchron to raise its Level by 1.” The parent seahorse gives birth to three children, but soon merges into one of them to become an android motorcycle, nature becoming machine, its Level raised from 5 to 6. “See my one Yang Zing left? His use is revealed now; I tune Accel Syncro with the remaining Mini Mare Mare Tokens with Pulao to Synchro Summon Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier!” All of Stella’s diverse monsters vanish to allow a great white and blue dragon to travel to the paradise south from its icy home from the north.”

Tamas sees Stella’s intention straightaway, to banish his precious Drident. He springs his Trap, “Solemn Warning!” Tamas pays the steep price of 2000 Life so a Biblical sage and call upon God to smite the icy incarnation of Satan. (Tamas LP 8000 à 6000)

But Stella merely laughs at Tamas’ solemn antic. “Excellent, my batman gambit is complete! I never planned to battle you this turn, but to lock you down. I activate Soul Charge to bring back 4 Yang Zing dragons lost this turn: Chiwen, Taoti, Pulao, Jiaotu; let LIGHT, DARKNESS, and WIND return!” Stella loses a grim 4000 Life; she crumples under the weight of her burden as a fountain of light rays springs from her chest, and the dragons burst forth from the light. (Stella LP 8000 à 4000) Stella, still strained but going in full force, pants, “I link up… Pulao and Jiaotu… to Link Summon Li’bao – Brave Bichromal Hunter. And I tune the remaining… Yang Zings… to Synchro Summon… Chaofeng, Phantom of the Yang Zing.” Her whole army disbands into two camps, going their own ways to become stronger forces. A cheetah sporting a flaming bow and arrow leaps to Stella’s right as slithering serpent with wings arrives from Heaven, its body trailing as long as the Great Wall.

Stella regains her breath from letting her monsters work their magic, and concludes, “I play Pot of Avarice, recycling my Yang Zing monsters back to my Deck to draw 2 cards, and I set 2 cards. My turn is (finally) over.”

Studying Beethoven – Piano Sonata in G (No. 14, Op. 2)

The piano sonata in G (Op. 14, No. 2) still keeps a light and witty mood like it’s counterpart, the sonata in E (Op. 14, No. 1) but brings back some of complex form from Beethoven’s heavier sonatas. However, the sonata in G is lighter than its counterpart since it’s middle movement is a pleasant march and not the solemn, medieval dance we saw before. Beethoven tends to user larger and more complex forms to convey heavy emotions, but this rule is not absolute as this sonata is a comedy of manners.

Allegro
The first movement is in sonata form, per usual, and right from the upbeat Beethoven employs his usual trick of beginning a subject at the dominant of the intended key, in this case D, before resolving it as opposed to simply starting at the “proper” key itself, in this case G. The main subject is built on the descending triad while using a sharpened leading tone before the mediant; A# to B, while the base is a rising triad. Beethoven peaks his subject at a high C, the subdominant, before extending the descending triad into syncopated descending Am7 notes before falling from D to G, dominant to tonic. Beethoven averts from using C, the subdominant, and opts for a minor sevenths chord, the submediant of Am7 instead.

The transition begins, and Beethoven modulates from G to D during this phase by slowly moving his baseline up the scale from a low G in the base climbing to an A in the tenor, putting the harmony in A so he can resolve to the new tonic key in D. Beethoven builds a simple melody from a descending whole step into a syncopated melodic line, then augments into sixteenth notes, locking the key notes as F#, D, and A, the D triad. The harmonies Am-G#d-A-E7 cycle in this manner, mutating Am, the supertonic, into A, the secondary dominant, until the harmony falls on A and the melody itself rises to a high A.

The subordinate subject evokes the image of two divas as the soprano register is occupied by two parts a 3rd interval part: a comedy of manners indeed. Beethoven highlights the m2nd interval and breaks the melody’s fall at the last moment with a half cadence, then smoothly leads the subordinate subject to developing material, a small gentle arc built from the F# note, the mediant, while of Bm, the submediant, and E7, the secondary dominant, spice up the harmonies. The melody augments into 3rd notes but its key notes are the Bm triad, the submediant, while the base climbs G-G#-A to the dominant harmony, then resolves to a half cadence on the C#d leading tone.

Beethoven lets the two divas return to make their closing statements; rather than short snippets of arpeggios and cadences, we get a long melodic sentence, letting the divas expand the movement and make their presence heard. The soprano posits a question with material based on the F# note, the base provides an answer with an A-A#-B line, their dialogue landing on an imperfect cadence three times before finally settling the issue. The tenor joins the divas and base so a complete SATB chorus of four voices carries out the entire exchange.

So we move to the precore, which Beethoven uses to build up to and smoothly transition to the core; he returns to his main subject, but now mutates the home key into Gm, and even plays some subdominant: Cm. The main subject develops through imitation in the treble and base, the harmony lingering in Fhd7, the subtonic of Gm. We are in the air as to where Beethoven will lead us next, but we know that it will most likely take us down the circle of fifths, which Beethoven does, taking us to Bb, the median of Gm. The two divas return to sing their usual first phrase, but then linger on Eb and Cm, and their respective leading tones. Beethoven uses the base to cleverly fill in all sorts of harmonies that have Eb and Cm notes in them while leading us to the core proper: F7-Cd7-Cm-Ab. Beethoven is resourceful with his diminished chords as always, since they are ambiguous by nature; the F# base implies F#d7, but it is also Cd7 in all but name, with the exact same notes, letting him easily go to Cm.

Beethoven enters the core with a sudden forte while he makes the harmonic transition just as sudden; Cm jumps to Ab without any dominant or leading tone to prepare us. The core’s subject expands on the main subject with a run up and down the scale, meanwhile the harmony jumps to the dominant of the new key before resolving to the new key. Oddly enough, most of the peak notes of the base line are the tonic of the old harmony. Thus we start Ab but leaps to D7-Gm, then to C7-Fm and F7-Bb+4. The triplet riffs Beethoven plays in the treble change with the harmony, making a downward melody that travels from the Eb to C notes, then Fh to D notes; most of these notes are the mediant of their relative chords. Beethoven develops the scale and makes melody’s peak note Ab, the subtonic of Bb; so we have a Bb7 chord, making us expect Eb.

And Beethoven delivers on this promise, the main subject entering on Eb. Most of us would expect the recapitulation to begin at this point, but this is a false reprise as it is in the wrong key, and it functions as the precore for yet another core. Beethoven develops on the dotted note descending figure, now starting on the Fh note, the secondary dominant, and uses it to go completely down the scale to Bb before leading us to D, while the harmonies themselves make use of dominants leading to relative keys to Eb, such as G-Cm7 and D-Gm. Beethoven starts his second core in D7 leading to Gm, and stays on this harmonic scheme as the second core is brief. The treble line goes wild with 16th note scales, an augmenting of the baseline from the first core, while the base is essential the main subject inverted and using a C# note at the end to lead to the D note.

The retransition stays on D7 as far as the base of triplet notes is concerned, this drawn out dominant harmony landing on G at the very end. The melody has a different idea; the motif of the main subject returns in base and soprano lines with various leading tones of C#m-D and G#d-A, and ends up descending through a long chain of sharpened leading tones while developing the theme of descending through triads, descending through the F7a and Am, and finally holds us on a C# note.

The recapitulation starts; the main subject stays the same. The transition does have C, the subdominant, as the harmony in the base, but the melody keeps playing an A note on the downbeat, making the overall harmony Am7, and Beethoven even uses Dm9, D9, and D+4. These interesting harmonies disrupt the subdominant harmony we expect to hear in a recapitulation as the melody keeps playing the “wrong” notes on the downbeat. Again, this is another of Beethoven’s tactics.

Beethoven carries on the subordinate subject and closing phrases as usual, but ends the closing statement with some new material with C harmonies in it, even peaking at a C note before falling down a C triad, at last having some subdominant. The coda, a final reprise of the main subject, always pays some last respects to the subdominant, with the melody not interfering with the C triad at the base with any A note but instead peaking at C to compliment it. The dotted note figure develops into a falling G scale of 16th notes, landing on a low G, the tonic. However, Beethoven uses the base to make the harmony D9, a less common but frequent form of the dominant. Beethoven takes the main subject motif on a tour through a few more notes: D, the dominant, to C, the subdominant, to B, the mediant, ending on an imperfect cadence.

Andante
The second movement is a variation on a march, light-hearted and seemingly simple but with colorful dominants and leading tones to various harmonies related to C. The first phrase of the subject is simple enough, turning and rising to F, the subdominant, before falling to D so the harmony lands on an inauthentic cadence. Round two: Beethoven rises to A, the submediant, before falling back to another inauthentic cadence, using an E7-Am progression along the way, then makes another effort; he makes a long climb up the scale, stopping twice on a G harmony to emphasize the dominant, the first progression D7-G, the second Am7-Gd7-G. The melody culminates on C, the subdominant, while the harmony is D7, before falling on G, the dominant.

Beethoven shifts harmonies as he develops his subject through two descending scale figures. On the first time, melody starts at a G note and peaks at a C note, but Beethoven returns to the C harmony to modulate briefly to F, the subdominant. The second time, our melody starts from A, the submediant, and falls to B, the leading tone, with the harmonies changing to C#d-Dm and F#d7-G. Beethoven leads us back to the dominant so he can reprise his subject on the tonic key. So our first phrase comes back but an octave higher, but it doesn’t stop on an imperfect cadence; it quickly protests that little defeat with a sudden forte on G before falling to C. Round two: the melody makes a chromatic rise to F, the subdominant, the base giving us the progressions of C#d-Dm and B-Em. The melody falls from F to C, from subdominant to tonic while the base gives the harmonic context of F-C-G7-C.

I spent so much time on the melody because it is intricate for such a light and childish subject – Andras Schiff said it sounded like playing with toy soldiers – and Beethoven stays very faithful to it throughout the movement. This is not like the Diabelli variations where Beethoven builds his variations from the harmonic structure up; these variations are very Classical in that sense. However, rather than adding notes to the melody to make it fancier as Haydn and Mozart would have done, Beethoven plays around with all the other voices and explores how they relate to the melodic subject.

The first variation has synchopated dominant notes and 8th note scales in the notes, while the melody subject itself exchanges between base and tenor parts, returning to the soprano part at the end while the base synchopates with the melody. The second variation has the staccato melody and base play at different times, a common device Beethoven uses for comedic effect, as he seems to have trouble making his hands play together. The base exchanges between a base part, that largely stays on the notes of C, the tonic, G, the dominant, and F, the subdominant, while the tenor line moves as counterpoint, and often features chromatic notes to flesh out the harmonies. The third variation takes a different style; the funny staccatos are exchanges for elegant legatos. The melodic subject is now made of the peak notes of triplet figures in the treble while the base becomes an elegant melodic line of its own in counterpoint.

The coda begins exactly the same as the subject before any variations happened, but all parts are an octave higher and it abruptly stops at a G#d-Am7 deceptive cadence. Three pianissimo chords follow, then a sudden fortissimo chord finishes the piece. Beethoven borrows this device from Haydn’s “Surprise” symphony (in G, Hob. 1/94), using it as both a prank to make us jump from our seats and a satisfying dramatic finish.

Allegro assai
My Beethoven sonata book labels the third movement in G a scherzo, which is correct in beat but misleading in form. While the movement is in 3/8 time it has a rondo form. Beethoven does not bother to balance out the first movement with a strong last movement, because though it does have witty strettos and tactical fermatas on the dominant harmony, the second movement provides the most emotional weight and technical subtleties to balance out the first movement. This movement; a little flourish at the end likes many Classical last movements in the days of Haydn and Mozart, but still with wit and substance.

The rondo’s main subject is based on a motif: a little sweep of three notes. Beethoven puts many little motifs around the G scale to build a subject. He uses a sharpened leading note like he did in the first movement, peaking at C# and D, the dominant. As the phrase resolves, the tenor moves in 3rds with the soprano, creating F#, a major leading harmony, before going to G. The melody rises up and peaks at D once more, but quickly falls down to G, making the progression F#d7-G with the tenor part. Beethoven develops his subject by turning his little sweeps into triplets, starting at D, the dominant, and finishing at C, the subdominant. The triplets are lengthened, with imitation in the treble and base, the treble peaking at a high C note and falling to an F# note, suspending us in the leading tone and D7 harmony. The main subject reprises its first phrase, rises to D, the dominant, but the melody falls down to G, the tonic, twice.

Beethoven kicks off the subordinate subject with a leap to the distant B dominant of Em, resolving to Em, the submediant of G; the triplets become arpeggios, ending in G and B notes. We hear four calls, three of them in this pattern, the last call progressing E-Am, letting us easily progress to D7, the dominant of G. Beethoven holds us there in suspense and comedy with a long silence, as if he forgot what to play next. The subject in G returns with no alterations, but then we encounter a bridge where the subject’s development material swaps hands, then a stretto of rising triplets put together without breaks, each one culminating in an F note, the subdominant. The entire bridge is in G7, preparing us for a subordinate subject in C, the subdominant, but a suspended D# leading note implies an Em key.

But this is a false alarm. We reach a second subordinate subject in C, made of a singing melody and a graceful slurred arpeggio base, greatly contrasting the quirky and playful subject. The melody builds on rising from C# to G, the dominant of C, then falling back either to C#, the question leading to a secondary dominant, or Ch, the tonic answer. Meanwhile the base notes make a chromatic descent from C to G. Together, the chromatic notes of the treble and base make the interesting progression C#d7-A-Dm-Dd-G-C. The usual Am becomes A instead while through Dd-G we see the strange diminished dominant harmony.

The subordinate subject evolves further as Beethoven takes us through new material; here the melody is built on parallel 3rds falling from G to D. We also see Beethoven stick a leap to A, the submediant, to briefly delay the final D note, another trope he often employs. The base assumes a similar melody through the tenor part, the Eb notes mutating the tonic into Cm. The base at this point uses leading notes to bring about F#d and D7, especially when it rises in scales build on G and F# notes, implying a return to the key of G. However, the subordinate theme reprises its role, using G7-C progressions and using subdominant to tonic leaps to lead us to new material in C.

We encounter the main subject again, but in C; the false reprises peaks on the dominant, then the soprano and tenor fall a long way in thirds, their path built on the C and F#d triads using that resolving cell in the main subject. Then the true main subject returns in G with no change. Beethoven leads us to another bridge, similar as the first one. The strettos are in D7 but are then softened with F#d scales and a C chromatic scale. Beethoven tricks us with another false reprise in F, resolving it with a D7-Am7 deceptive plagal cadence, if such a thing even exists. He transitions to the key of G with small dotted notes falling from C, the subdominant of G, to G, the tonic. The alto rises from G to C, falling to C; the harmony returns us to G through the secondary dominant A7-G-D7-G, even sneaking in an in-between harmony.

The third subordinate subject uses triplets in the keys of G or D7, but the peak note is always D, the dominant. The thematic material itself is in the base, built on leap up a 6th and a leap down an octave. All the cells combined creates a broad melodic form, of G to D, a melodic line we saw elsewhere in this movement. Beethoven concludes the subordinate subject with a crescendo of rising parallel thirds between treble and base, building into a fortissimo of G7 and C harmonies, the melodic peak always in G. Then the melody breaks back into triplets, but with G notes on top, while the base uses the secondary dominant and in-between harmony to progress back to G through C-A7-G-D7.

Beethoven repeats the third subordinate subject, and follows it with a coda. The main subject makes a reprise, albeit with some octaves thrown in, then breaks down into the C#-D leading notes before falling down from C, the subdominant, to G, the tonic. The coda repeats all its musical cells an octave higher, a motif Beethoven used throughout the entire sonata.

Dark Bakura Deck Redux

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VERSION 1: WITH ANIME CARDS, 43 CARDS
* Cards still not released in print.

Monsters: 19
1x Dark Necrofear
1x Dark Ruler Ha Des
1x Diabound Colonel
1x Puppet Master
2x Deathcalibur Knight
1x Discraced Mage*
1x Headless Knight
1x Gross Ghost of Fled Dreams
1x The Portrait’s Secret
1x Earthbound Spirit
1x Sangan
3x Morphing Jar
3x Necro Soldier*
1x Jowgen the Spiritualist

Spells: 14
1x Change of Heart
1x Dark Sanctuary
1x Monster Reborn
1x Premature Burial
1x Chain Energy
1x Spiritualistic Medium*
1x Pot of Greed
1x Graceful Charity
1x Spirit Illusion*
1x Grief Tablet*
1x Death Counterbalance*
1x The Dark Door
1x The Shallow Grave
1x Spirit Sword of Sealing*

Traps: 10
1x Fearful Earthbound*
1x Multiple Destruction
1x Spirit Shield*
1x Death Spirit Zoma
1x Call of the Earthbound
1x Dark Spirit of the Silent
1x Cursed Necro Twin Dolls*
1x Just Desserts
1x Rebirth Tablet
1x Mirror Tablet

VERSION 2: ALL CARDS HAVE BEEN RELEASED, 42 CARDS

Monsters: 18
1x Dark Necrofear
1x Dark Ruler Ha Des
1x Diabound Colonel
1x Puppet Master
2x Deathcalibur Knight
1x Archfiend Soldier
1x Headless Knight
1x Gross Ghost of Fled Dreams
1x The Portrait’s Secret
1x Earthbound Spirit
1x Sangan
3x Morphing Jar
2x Morphing Jar #2
1x Jowgen the Spiritualist

Spells: 15
1x Change of Heart
2x Dark Sanctuary
1x Monster Reborn
1x Premature Burial
1x Chain Energy
1x Pot of Greed
1x Graceful Charity
1x The Dark Door
1x The Shallow Grave
1x Gravekeeper’s Servant
1x Spirit Message “E”
1x Spirit Message “A”
1x Spirit Message “T”
1x Spirit Message “H”

Traps: 9
2x Destiny Board
1x Multiple Destruction
1x Call of the Haunted
1x Death Spirit Zoma
1x Call of the Earthbound
1x Dark Spirit of the Silent
1x Just Desserts
1x Malevolent Catastrophe

Zodiac Signs: Modern vs. Traditional

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The descriptions of zodiac signs we hear today were not always so. Astrologers of the past described zodiac signs differently, and while traditional zodiac signs are similar to modern ones there are significant differences too. Why, you may ask? It partly has to do with New Age values, the precession of the equinoxes, and a long game of telephone where hack astrologers bowdlerized the zodiac signs into inaccurate caricatures without bothering to study the source materials.

My reference to the modern zodiac signs is Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs, which is one of the cornerstones of modern astrology. My reference to traditional zodiac signs is Constellation of Words, which includes writings from Roman astrologers and descriptions of the fixed stars, which have often been excluded in astrology.

Zodiac Elements
Zodiac signs in the past didn’t have “elements” like they do today, but trigon diurnal and nocturnal rulers that supposedly impart a general character on the zodiac signs.

Aries, Leo, Sagittarius Diurnal: Sun, Nocturnal: Jupiter

Modern descriptions often seem to give the “fire” signs a naive, happy-go-lucky idiot vibe, and generally describe them as being large-hearted and without guile. Traditional descriptions did not do this, but described the “fire” signs as martial and authoritarian, heavily valuing their pride, wealth, and social status.

Aries (Mars ruler, Sun exalted): Much mention is made of dictatorship and violence; a bilious character overall, as well as the collecting of money and gaining of wealth. Manilius gives the sign a riches to rags story, rising to become a prince only to befall a calamity reducing him to a pauper.

Leo (Sun ruler): Obviously associated with the Sun, therefore given a very kingly description. Leo is described as loving to be in the spotlight and putting on a show of wealth, much like in modern descriptions. But no mention is made of a generous, humanitarian spirit; but of a character who will rapaciously conquer his rivals and add to his own power.

Sagittarius (Jupiter ruler): Described as dreadful warrior who will go to great lengths to claim supremacy, to be the very best, and suffer greatly to realize his ambitions. Sagittarius is associated with the mastery and taming of wild beasts, and also of civilizing and cultural institutions, which modern astrologers do acknowledge. Of the “fire” signs, Sagittarius gets the worst “silly clown” treatment by modern astrologers, while ironically ancient astrologers described the sign with deathly seriousness; “dreadful Sagittary” as Shakespeare put it, or untamed destructive wildness, was a common trope associated with the sign.

Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn Diurnal: Venus, Nocturnal: Moon
Modern descriptions give the signs a very practical bent of being cautious, conservative, wanting money and status, and wanting safety. This kind of fits the ancient description, but kind of doesn’t. The ancients do describe Taurus and Capricorn as doing thankless hard work, but wealth gain is not mentioned, just the suffering inherent in life. Emphasis is also placed on civic service and the joys inherent with giving to and exchanging with people, especially on Virgo.

Taurus (Venus ruler, Moon exalted): Again, Taurus is solid, steady, and hard-working, but no mention is made of wealth gain, or Taurus being interesting in gaining wealth and status. Ancients associate the sign with Venus, and thus with love, sex, and fertility, but the free love of Venus here is described as Dionysian and subversive of marriage and familial ties. Not exactly docile and conservative.

 

Virgo (Mercury ruler): Ancients describe the usual attention to detail, the hard work, the perfectionist nature, and so forth. But the ancient description places a large emphasis on Virgo serving others and occupying a civic role, bascically being a gopher, but one with courage and tactical brilliance. Modern astrology, however, makes Virgo to be very stuck-up and anal. Ancient Virgo was not a shrewish old maid, but a lively girl.

Capricorn (Saturn ruler, Mars exalted): The traditional description by Manilius is restless and hard-working, but also of a cheerful demeanor, made “a slave to Venus” in youth. This personality description is partly based on nature, since (at least in the years of Rome) the Sun enters Capricorn and begins its resurrection, in contrast to the falling darkness and death cycle that happens when the Sun is in Sagittarius. 

Gemini, Libra, Aquarius Diurnal: Saturn, Nocturnal: Mercury

Modern descriptions put traits such as “communication and mobility” in the forefront when describing the “air” signs, and a modern astrologer is quick to join the heavy intellectual nature of the “air” signs with superficiality. But traditional descriptions give the “air” signs a far more serious character, since Saturn is the diurnal ruler. The functions of the mind, such as intellect, are also prominent in traditional descriptions, as Mercury is the nocturnal ruler.

Gemini (Mercury ruler): The traditional description is close to the modern description when it comes down to basic character traits such as quick-wittedness, many talents, and versatility. But Gemini is closely associated with mortality (due to the myth of Castor and Pullox, one immortal twin and one mortal twin) as well as Gemini’s reaction against that. Gemini is a gay sign that dispels the heavier aspects of life, has great talent with music and astronomy, and is great with kids.

 

Libra (Venus ruler, Saturn exalted): Ancient descriptions emphasize Libra’s role as a clear-headed and stern judge, and role in civic life, little description of indecisiveness. But Libra would far rather settle disputes in a dignified and bloodless way than use the sword. Libra is associated with Venus as Taurus is, but Libra Venus is about romantic love, marital ties, and the responsibilities that come with such relationships. Taurus is all about the wild kinky sex.

Aquarius (Saturn ruler): Modern descriptions tend to idealize Aquarius as being very humanitarian and forward-thinking. But traditional astrology allots Aquarius with hard work and the suffering in life as Aquarius is ruled by Saturn, like Capricorn. Manilius mentions “thousand crafts regulated by water”, alluding to the inventive nature of the sign. Aquarius is kindly in character, though other ancient astrologers like Valens ascribe misanthropy to the sign.

Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces Diurnal & Nocturnal: Mars
Modern astrologers go out of their way to imbue the “water” signs with idealized New Age traits such as being “sensitive”, “psychic”, and “profound”. But no traditional descriptions allude to such traits. Since the “water” signs are ruled by Mars, they are thought to be dramatic and passionate but volatile and rash. Even astrologers as late as Alan Leo described them as being turbulent and restless, like water, and ancient astrologers made similar allusions. This clearly differs from the hypersensitive and introverted nature given in modern descriptions.

Cancer (Moon ruler, Jupiter exaltation): Modern descriptions emphasize Cancer with domestic life, child-rearing, and sensitivity, but will sometimes flip the coin to describe Cancer as being a strong public figure. Traditional descriptions of Cancer are firmly in the latter, especially since Jupiter is exalted in Cancer; thus the extroverted life in politics and putting on a show with many different masks. Cancer is associated with the vast ocean and overseas trade. Ancient peoples saw the ocean, the Great Mother, as a boundless and terrible titan, not as a meek and nurturing creature. 

 

Scorpio (Mars ruler): Modern descriptions will almost always describe Scorpio as secretive, very profound, and transforming through three stages; with martial qualities such as being a tenacious, powerful, and vengeful fighter. Traditional descriptions are about the latter, the former mostly being New Age psychobabble. As such, Scorpio is driven and outgoing, fearlessly rocking the boat, tackling difficult challenges, and rising as the victor. Yet ancients regarded Scorpio as an “accursed sign” and “baleful source of war”. He is impulsive and self-destructive; strikes first, asks questions later, causing crime and bloodshed throughout his rampage. There is little profundity in this fiery sign.

Pisces (Jupiter ruler, Venus exalted): Your typical modern astrologer will describe Pisces as a sensitive doormat, feeling psychic vibrations, and being very caring to all people and animals. The traditional description is very different; Pisces, like Cancer, is associated with the vast ocean, in this case with naval warfare. Manilius goes out of his way to describe the sea as foaming with blood. The constellation of Pisces itself is made of two fishes violently tugging away at each other. Pisces is very friendly, but also a restless wanderer, always sailing the seven seas looking for new places, ready to change course at the drop of a hat.  

Yugioh Created Cards (Duels 8 & 9)

NOTE: I try to keep the number of created cards down to 3 at most, unless the created cards are part of a unique archetype of my making. The Nordic archetype has always been the most awkward for me. If it wasn’t for the plot I would favor Naturia over Nordics in an instant.

Mathias’ Cards

Effect Shutdown
Quickplay Spell

  • Negate the activation of your opponent’s monster’s effect, and destroy it.
  • Skip your next Draw Phase.

Law of the Aesir
Continuous Trap

  • Once per turn, during either player’s turn: target one “Aesir” monster you control; it is unaffected by all card effects, except this one, until the end of the turn.
  • During your Standby Phase: banish 1 “Nordic” monster from your Graveyard (not optional). If you cannot, destroy this card.
  • If this card was destroyed and sent to the Graveyard by your opponent’s card effect: add 1 “Nordic” card from your Deck to your hand.

Draugalf of the Nordic Alfar
DARK/Spellcaster/LV 4/ATK 1300/DEF 800
Tuner

  • You can Special Summon this card from your Graveyard in Attack Position by Tributing one Nordic monster you control.
  • If you Special Summoned this card from your Graveyard: you can Special Summon 1 Level 3 or lower “Nordic” monster from your Graveyard in Attack Position.

Weevil’s Cards

Insect Empress
EARTH/Insect/LV 8/ATK 2200/DEF 2400

  • Increase the ATK of this card x200 for every Insect in your field and Graveyard.
  • You must Tribute 1 monster you control to attack with this card. During the End Phase, if this card destroyed an opponent’s monster by battle this turn: Special Summon 1 “Insect Egg Token” (Insect-Type/EARTH/Level 1/ATK 100/DEF 100).
  • If this card would be destroyed (battle or card effect): you can Tribute 1 “Insect Egg Token”, and it is not destroyed.

Golemgoroth’s Roar
Trap

  • Target 1 EARTH monster you control: Tribute all other monsters you control and increase the selected monster’s ATK x1500 for each monster Tributed, until the end of this turn.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 9

Duel 9 – Valiant Effort

Mathias: 3400 | Weevil: 6200

WEEVIL’S TURN: “I draw!” Perfect, exactly the card he hoped for to make a perfect victory! “I activate my two Fruitflies to steal Odin and Thor.” Watching his great monsters controlled by someone as weak as Weevil gives Mathias something close to heartbreak, something he had not felt in nearly a century. Even the old masters Pegasus and Kaiba see the move in shock; Pegasus is pleasantly bemused while Kaiba seethes at the blasphemy of Weevil controlling god cards.

“I activate Odin and Thor’s effects to protect them.” Weevil watches his gods bathe the field in their magic with a contentment alien to him for many years. “Naturia Exterio, destroy Mathis’ facedown monster!” The turquoise king of beasts rips apart a tiny rodent hiding underneath the facedown card like a burrow.

“You triggered Super-Nimble Mega Hamster, letting me summon Tanngrisnir of the Nordic Beasts from my Deck.” Mathias explains as he plays another monster facedown. Weevil commands Thor to smash the card with its fist, squashing the poor goat flat, which lets Mathias Summon two Nordic Beast Tokens. Annoyed, Weevil has Odin throw one of the Nordic Beasts out of the arena, and decides to add insult to injury.

“You will never get your Nordic Gods back; I tribute Odin and Thor to Summon Insect Empress!” The giant Nordic Gods dissipate into a winter storm of hail and snow as a queen ant of titanic size takes all the space in Weevil’s field. Weevil adjusts his glasses as he is wont to do whenever he thinks himself to be clever. “See, I was very careful to keep all Insects in my Graveyard, because my Empress gains 200 ATK for each Insect in my field and my Graveyard; thus the Empress claims 3800 ATK to her name.”

MATHIAS’ TURN: Pegasus and Kaiba are in further shock; Pegasus more bemused than ever as if tricked in a silly prank, Kaiba more outraged than ever; to think a cockroach like Weevil could throw away two gods like they were nothing. What was Yugioh coming to!

Mathias declares to his opponent, “I should praise you for taking control of the Nordic Gods but letting go of them was a huge mistake. I activate Monster Reborn to revive Thor!”

“Oh no you don’t; I counter with Exterio to negate it!” Weevil banishes a card in his Graveyard and mills a card for its cost.

“I counter it with Divine Wrath, one of my favorite cards! I discard a card to negate and destroy Exterio!” A single bolt of lightning strikes the mighty beast down, leaving only ashes behind, as if the Nordic Gods themselves punished Weevil. “Thor, arise!” Mathias completes his ritual, and once more the hammer-wielding giant stands tall as Weevil, and Rex, melt into a puddle of tears.

Maya wafts the air to her nose with her hands as if she cooked a master chef’s dish and circles the fingers of her left hand. Classic antimeta in action. She can almost taste poor Bug Boy’s tears. They must be delicious. As for the look on Kaiba’s face; he looks like he took a laxative for once.

Weevil did not give up yet. “I’ll banish your precious Thor with Bottomless Trap Hole!” But he sells himself short as his trap simply vanishes in thin air. When Weevil cannot figure out why, Mathias clues him in, “Your Fruitflies lowered Thor’s ATK so low your trap couldn’t banish him.

“If I may continue, before I was so rudely interrupted.” I Tribute my Nordic Beast Token to Summon Draugalf of the Nordic Alfar from my Graveyard, as I discarded it through Divine Wrath, and use its effect to revive my Tanngrisnir.” A dark, undead elf devours and dissolves the Nordic Beast as it resurrects itself, bringing back a white goat with it. “I activate Phantom Knight Gloves, the first monster you destroyed, banishing it from the Graveyard to mill The Phantom Knight of Ancient Cloak, and then I activate it to banish it to add The Phantom Knight of Silent Boots to my hand, and I Summon it.” A ghostly and silent ninja slips out of the darkness into the light.

“I tune Draugalf, Tanngrisnir, and Silent Boots to Synchro Summon Loki, Lord of the Aesir!” Mathias’ monsters rise to the heavens and the trickster god condescends to grace his field in exchange for the sacrifices. “I activate Thor’s effect!” To which the hammer-wielding god smashes the field, crippling all of Weevil’s insects, allowing the Nordic Gods to regain their full strength. “Thor, destroy the Queen!”

Weevil has one more card up his sleeve. “I play Golemgoroth’s Roar and sacrifice all my Fruitflies!” His empress of Insects ruthlessly, gruesomely devoured her servants to gain unfrequented strength.

“You’re Empress will gain 4500 ATK in the process; so Loki, negate that trap!” The Nordic God zaps her with an aerosol can he conjured from thin air, the empress shriveling away from the poison. “Raid, kills them dead.” Loki seems to have a sense of humor too; he even gestures to Thor, as if letting him finally attack, to which the gruff, no-nonsense Thor gladly did, dramatically using his hammer as a fly swatter to finish the job. (Weevil LP 6200 à 4900) “Loki, strike Weevil directly!”

“OH NOOOO!!!” Weevil raves in complete horror and disbelief, his hands and mouth locked into a pose from The Scream painting, before Loki shocks him into a dizzy mess with a jolt of black magic from its finger, making Weevil twitch as an insect sprayed with a can of Raid. (Weevil LP 4900 à 1500)

WEEVIL’S TURN: But Weevil still persists. “I set a card facedown and end my turn.”

MATHIAS’ TURN: “I activate Thor’s effect, now Thor, attack his facedown!” The burly god eagerly smashed a Naturia Cherry flat, turning it to jam. This let Weevil Summon two more Naturia Cherry facedown, and Mathias forces Loki to make quick work of one of them. “I set a card facedown. Make your last turn count, Bug Boy.”

WEEVIL’S TURN: “I am the strongest, the most resilient creature there is, like the cockroach. I will survive, and no matter what happens I will always come back to annoy you like the pest I am!”

“You got it, Weevil!” Rex jumped and shouted from the sidelines. “Show him whose boss!”

“Um, nobody has compared themselves to a cockroach like it was a good thing, but if it works for you, dude, sure. Whatever.” Mathias must concede this odd self-praise as beyond his understanding.

“I activate Monster Reborn to Summon Naturia Mosquito from my Graveyard!” The typical ankh appears on the field and resurrects a cute mosquito with wide cartoon eyes. Mathias wondered for a second when he last saw the Mosquito but soon realized Weevil milled it when he played Naturia Marron on his very first turn. He concedes to Weevil again; that was pretty clever.

Weevil explains his plan, “Mosquito is weak but any battle damage from a Naturia monster goes back to you, meaning you’ll lose the duel. Naturia Mosquito, attack Thor!” His petty bug rushes over to annoy the stern warrior Nordic God. The audience is truly tense as this is the third time today it seemed like Weevil would actually win. The world truly becomes upside down. Cats chase dogs. Weevil is a champion. Trump isn’t president. Israel and Palestine coexist in peace.

Time to end the party, setting things right; Mathias reveals his trap, “I play Skill Drain; I pay 1000 Life to negate all monster effects.” (Mathias LP 3400 à 2400) Thor swats the mosquito with his hammer in comical fury, putting Weevil’s ambitions to rest. (Weevil LP 1500 à 0)

Mathias: 2400 | Weevil: 0

Isono thrust his hand in the air; the referee announced, “Mathias Blackheart wins the second quarterfinal duel! Duelists, let the sun decide the next two contestants!” The remaining four finalists did as they were told; the sun decreed that Stella Nova duel against Tamas Vargas.

Tamas showed little interest, flicking away dirt from his nails. He seemed to speak more to himself than the outside world. “I’m lucky to face women in my next two duels. Beating them won’t be hard; I’d rather duel a retard like Weevil if I wanted a challenge.”