Yugioh Children of Prometheus 2: Duel 25 – In and Out of Egypt

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Hassan falls down the rabbit hole and crosses through the looking glass… Darkness… Silence… He feels himself slip in half, rather duplicate, not seeing his twin but feeling him in the pitch black waters.

They’re clad in gold and white, white, fair, youthful. The sun in their eyes, looking ahead to the rising sun. They enter a golden temple and meet the priestess in the holies and holies; a woman in white, skin pale as death, long hair dark as night; her forehead high, her nose and eyes odd, her thin red lips wide, grinning as a snake.

 The princes beg her, “Give us the power to fly to the sun, down in the dark, and back again. Let be immortal, beyond human.” And the priestess flickers her forked tongue, beaconing them forward. The first prince declares, “Give me the power of the gods, to be taller than the greatest obelisk, stronger than the mightiest colossus, a granite giant to outlast all of time!” The priestess smells his princely haughtier, grants his wish; turns him into stone and shatters him into pieces.

 The second prince implores, “Let me see behind the moon and beyond the stars, let me turn a green leaf and see its other fair side.” The priestess grips him as a vice, twisting his lefts arm. The prince pleads for pardon and mercy. The sorceress smiles, flickers her forked tongue, and inflicts on him a far greater cruelty. She touches his forehead; the prince reels, bursts into a phoenix, flies through the stars and beyond. He sees the universe in seconds, his head opens to every world, he crosses to every star in infinite space, sees the earth and the ants crawling on it bending towards their graves as soon as their born. He sees the infinite empty space between stars, between galaxies rendering them lost in the darkness, the space always infinitely larger than all the stars in the universe.

 The prince leaves the holy and holies and sees a priest. The priest speaks his knowledge learned through scribes and rites, “The earth lay submerged at the center of a vast cosmic ocean, the Nun, which itself had a distinct, rough spherical shape. The Nun did not have any barrier at its ends, but rather the physical nature of the Nun itself gave it its shape and stopped it from spilling everywhere into chaos.” 

 The prince and priest travel to a faraway land, stand atop the ruins of a great civilization on top of a rocky hill. They see the Greek ruins and speak of Assyrian kings, great wars, the gods, and slavery. The prince reveals the true evils and slavery. The vexed priest says, “Egypt always had slaves and slavery was just as the gods decreed it; thus it is the cosmic order of the universe.”

The prince speaks. Every bricklayer and king, all common mud, see their gods unique, their empires eternal truths, every king commands his wars, conquests, enslavements under this hubris. “I lost my innocence when humanity lost its innocence to me.” 

 Hassan clutched the bedposts. Then realized he was awake. He didn’t fall off the bed this time. Wiping the sweat off his forehead, he put on his slippers, feeling his way through the dark room, stumbling to the kitchen, and turns on the light. He was in Chicago, JC’s house, with Jolene and JC, who still slept. Xiaoyi was nowhere to be found.

Hassan knew it was morning in Egypt right now, so he fetched some takeout Chinese food and in the fridge. He wondered how the gang was doing in Egypt, chewing his food as he thought as a cow chews cud, his thoughts dark and leaden. Would his father lose his control over Egypt or rule it forever with the Ghouls? He wanted his father to lose, but he feared if that happened father may die. He wanted nothing more than to be with his father again.

Xiaoyi entered the kitchen in a white dress so thin it was almost transparent. She sat on the table, and started eating from Hassan’s carton. Hassan noticed how quiet yet presumptive the move was, not unlike Xiaoyi herself. He stared at Xiaoyi, realizing the similarities her features shared to Maya’s and Sophia’s: their dark, narrow, snake-like eyes, broad foreheads, and full cheeks. Yet their hands were very different. Xiaoyi’s were as small and dainty as a noblewoman’s, Maya’s as a spider’s; palms wide with powerful, long fingers with large fingernails, and Sophia’s as a witch’s; narrow palms with long, thin fingers.

Xiaoyi leaned closer to him, bridging what seemed like to be the mental barriers between them. “You want to see your father again, don’t you?”

This took Hassan completely off guard. Xiaoyi’s face betrayed the deepest sympathy, her arms very warm, forgiving Hassan for his betrayal and cowardice for leaving his father.

“Yes, I very much do. I love him but I hate what he does. Now he’s a dictator who probably aligned himself to an entire crime syndicate. People die every day under his mad quest to create a great Egypt and, worst of all, I got all you guys into this. I thought fighting the Ghouls was enough but knowing my father he’ll crack down with his army once he’s frustrated. I don’t know how Maya, Yukio, and Sophia will defend themselves. They could really die. But I don’t want to defend them because if they retaliate father may die.”

Xiaoyi said, “You’re father is a soldier. He knew the risks of politics and war and willingly accepted them. Maya, Yukio, and Sophia aren’t the only ones chipping an ante in this tournament. Heishin bet his most precious cards too. This situation may be something bigger than your father’s life. His predecessor knew that too.”

“The old President?”

“Yes, and he lost his life from Heishin playing the game, fighting for what he believed in. He imprisoned corrupt politicians, brought back a multiple parties in Egypt, and made peace with Israel, a peace your father could easily destroy. He wasn’t always the feeble old man your father easily broke with his gun.”

Xiaoyi paused as if she wanted to say something of gravest importance but wanted to phrase it the right way, understanding the power her words would have. She held his hands with her own. “You have a duty to your country, to all the people of Egypt, not just your father. You can cure Egypt of its sickness and return it to relative peace. It will be hard, dirty work but we’re all behind you. You’re father never believed in you were capable of anything but we do. We know you are a warrior greater than your father.”

Hassan felt a fire burn in his chest and felt for the first time in his life he had a real chance to prove himself. No longer would he be under his father’s boot but would live beyond his father’s dreams. He nodded solemnly. “I agree. I’ll go back. I know colleagues who used to serve my father but who now defected. We could make an ally with all the duelists in Egypt and make a counter revolution.”

“See! You were always a good soldier.” Xiaoyi said warmly.

Hassan laughed at himself. “Man, I didn’t know I limited myself in so much.”

“What do you mean?” Xioayi asked.

“I mean, astrology is one example. Jolene is really into New Age stuff and I was into it myself. Yesterday she rattled off everyone’s birthdays and zodiac signs, and I can’t help but think how I put myself in a small box believing in a bunch of conventions and stereotypes that have nothing to do with reality. My father does the same thing to himself, but his boxes are his military and religious ambitions.”

“Go on.”

“My birthday is on December 18. Yours is December 11, Maya’s is December 15, Sophia’s is December 10. Astrologers call us ‘Sagittarians’. Sagittarians are optimistic and freedom loving, happily charging forward through life to expand their horizons. They are silly, blunt, and simple-minded, with hoof-in-the-mouth disease, lovable and trustworthy but gullible and naive. They love to travel but hate commitments and have shallow emotions.”

Hassan looked over his shoulder to see Jolene and JC fast asleep. “But as I observe you three and myself I realize how little that description holds up to scrutiny. But it’s not just us. My father, born on May 4, is a ‘Taurian’, yet he loves war. He doesn’t indulge in food or art at all. Yukio, born on Mary 23, a ‘Gemini’, must be scatterbrained and superficial, but he isn’t. Jolene, born on September 13, is a ‘Virgo’, but doesn’t care about neatness. JC, born February 20, is a ‘Piscean”, but has no traits of a dreamy artist.”

Xiaoyi barely gave a knowing smile in amusement. “So that’s what the modern Pharisees say.”

“Explain. Don’t speak in riddles.” Hassan insisted.

Xiaoyi explained, “Reading your horoscope is like listening to a televangelist in a megachurch or rallying behind your favorite political party. You dull your intellect and emotions to join a congregation, believing there is a ‘proper’ place for you in this monstrous world. Want to find your soul mate and live happily ever after? You might as well play MASH. It’s more accurate and costs nothing.”

Hassan considered Xiaoyi’s words, then said, “I’ve been too timid all my life, following people I really hate. Maybe it’s because father always told me how disappointing I was, so I never believed in myself.”

“Maybe it’s time to change.”

“Maybe it is.” Heishin got up and started packing his bags. “Tomorrow I leave for Egypt.” Before he went to bed, he realized something: Xiaoyi, Maya, and Sophia were all left-handed.

————————————————————–

DAY 7 : 6:01 AM : LUXOR

Maya and Yukio heard a loud knocking from downstairs. Mathias called for them out from below, saying he really needed to talk to them. Yukio groaned, taking his hand away from Maya’s breast, while Maya untangled her legs from his. Sophia rose from a separate bed, rubbing the gunk from her eyes. What did Mathias have to say that was so urgent?

Mathias, and Maximus and Ivy, showed our heroes exactly what, making them swear to never say a word of what they heard or saw. Mathias and his comrades held each other’s arms as if in prayer. Our heroes couldn’t tell if it they feeling some aura from them or if it was the rising sun’s warming rays, but it was a deeply powerful presence. Our heroes looked toward the rising sun and saw something extraordinary! A dragon bathed in fiery gold, a swordswoman in the purest armor, and a dragon of ice and fire soared through the rising sun as if climbing its rays, peaking at the sky with the highest zephyrs. Then they vanished; everything was over in a few seconds.

Our heroes were astonished, but Mathias explained it to them. “I noticed Sophia’s latent powers when she dueled me. She almost killed me back then!” Mathias gave an echo of a garrulous laugh just remembering it. “That was intense! And I suspect you two have powers too. We,” He gestured to Maximus and Ivy, “Are known as the Saints. We destroy arrogant champions, as you know, but, more importantly, we defend humanity and the earth from evildoers of all kinds, human and demons.”

Maya raised her eyebrow in severe skepticism. “Powers? Explain.”

“A Doubting Thomas to the end like Kaiba himself, I see. Very well.” Mathias said, “The occult is real. Magic exists. It’s a fact. Deal with it. One type of magic is summoning your Ka, as practiced by the Ancient Egyptians, who believed it to be the spark of life. It entered a baby at birth, animating his body molded from clay by the gods, and left at death. The Ba is the personality, no, the very person herself. When a person surpassed their trials in the Underworld, Ka and Ba merged together again, forming the Akh, or intellect; a complete soul. Maximus, will you?”

Maximus took over his comrade’s part, “What does this have to do with magic? The Egyptians thought the Ba could nourish the Ka to the point of it taking a bodily form. They thought a Ka could either be good, a spirit, or evil, a monster. This was how Pharoah Atem, wielder of the Gods, battled Bakura, King of Thieves, wielder of Diabound and Zorc. Today, Ka are your Monster Cards, and Ba are your Life Points. Sometimes you can channel your Ka without making it into a monster, as Ivy did to heal Mathias.”

Ivy took over, “But people use their Ka beyond magic. Each time you help a friend or do some other good deed, it nourishes your Ka, casts light on your Ba, and makes you a better person. If you do evil, your Ka grows darker and corrodes your Ba, eating you from the inside out. Each affirmation of life enlargens you and, believe it or not, you’ve nourished your Ka for a long time. The Ka and Ba nourish each other, your Ka growing brighter, your Ba growing stronger. It even happens when you play music and duel for what you believe in.”

Maya and Yukio talked to each other for a moment, Yukio then saying, “So your Ka is almost like your creative live force.”

“If that makes sense, yes.” Ivy said.

Mathias grew solemn and gloomy, which told everyone that whatever he would say would be of utmost seriousness. “Matthew has a Ka of his own, Horus the Black Flame Dragon. It takes years of training to wield such magic, or Heka, but Matthew took the quick route. An evil person forced his Ka to grow and hatch, but bound his life to his own. You must be prepared for Matthew, the Ghouls, and the wicked beings behind him.”

“How do you know any of this?” Maya asked.

“We cannot disclose such classified information.”

“Convenient.”

“Enough sarcasm. Don’t break the fourth wall just yet. You’re Kas are strong, but underdeveloped. We don’t have time to train but we can discover your Ka, stir it a little bit, make it a bit stronger.”

Mathias instructed for our heroes to put their hands together while he clasped his hands over theirs, with Maximus and Ivy putting their hands on top of his to support it. Everyone closed their eyes, concentrating, diving down the well of their beings.

Mathias rides through open space, streaking through the stars, a burning comet. A rainbow road across the horizon, a warrior; a burning bright blue-white sun, races across the road on a motorcycle, trailing stardust behind him. Further and further, he rides to the future, flying higher and higher to his destiny as a true duelist: Starlight Quasar Knight.

 Up, up, away from the road, Mathias sees the farthest of stars and galaxies, and the limitless space they all swim in, a space always infinitely larger than all the stars in the universe. He flies further to the edge of the universe, the stars glowing gnats at the surface of a great bond, all stars and galaxies gathering together. To the event horizon: the stars are a body. Beyond the starry tent he sees a dragon, brighter than all the stars, blacker than the deepest space: Cosmo Dragon.

 He follows the light beyond to a graveyard; dark, sorrowful, a fog fills the air, the smell of dust and death. A glint, a crack of gold, reaches him; the sun rises, filling the graveyard with light, shattering the fog, banishing death. A dark dragon climbs the sky with the sun; a skeleton of black bones, its insides on fire, singing, the whole world, the whole universe within the fire inside, the rising sun casts a ring around it, making it even darker and more glorious. The dragon looks directly down at him, right through him, right to his soul; the only being to ever really see him: Deadstar Dragon.

 Mathias cast himself away, gasping, as did Maximus and Ivy. They never saw such Ka in their lives: neither spirits nor demons, neither good nor evil. The Saints knew their task to investigate the events at Egypt and discern humanity’s destiny was of the highest seriousness, but only now did they know the weight of their task.

 

 

Four Case Studies on the Lower East Side

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In the following case studies I researched four organizations that impact the Lower East Side and comment on them. I explore the issues of local politics, gentrification, government transparency, corporate power, and the voice of the people. I provide bullet points to highlight important facts of each organization and list my sources below, and lastly list common themes all four organizations display.

Rivington House
Provides a compelling but sad case study of gentrification and globalism. This case reveals how businessmen see even nursing homes as a kind of stock investment or some other way to make a profit. To them, it’s about abstract numbers, not the people under their ward.

China Vank show how globalism and gentrification often go hand in hand. Vank buys businesses overseas like Sydney and New York because overseas property gives a lot of advantages when pursuing profit. Vank doesn’t have to build any new buildings and they can attract upper-middle class Chinese tourists, immigrants, and Chinese-American citizens to invest in their condo. They also avoid problems in China’s housing market.

Allure Group has a history of pursuing profit at the expense of their old patients, where they sell a nursing home to a big business (like China Vank) that are willing to pay a handsome price to renovate it into a condo or other apartment complex. How they convinced DCAS to lift the deed under City Hall’s nose is very troubling. It shows a lack of transparency, and how local politicians can’t even communicate with government bureaucracies.

China Vank building a new condo will displace many old patients but it will also have many far-reaching effects. It will drive up the property value and price of living in the Lower East Side and it will aggravate racial tensions, not of just Latinos and Jews to Asians but of Asians to each other.

  • Served as a nursing home for 200 AIDS patients
  • Owners sold the building for $16.15 million to China Vank Co.
    • Will turn it to a luxury condo
  • Former owners were Allure Group, for-profit nursing home provider.
    • Purchased building from VillageCare in 2014 for $28 million
    • Requested DCAS to lift deed in December 2014 to allow the nursing home to be run for profit.
    • Plan on relocating the nursing home around the neighborhood, but this claim has little evidence.
  • Allure Group sold another nursing home to a real estate developer last fall.
    • Real estate developers plan to demolish 4 story nursing home.
    • Replace it with 241-unit residential building at 270 Nostrand Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant
  • China Vank Co.
    • A large international corporation that buys from local firms in America, including New York
    • Turn overseas partly because of China’s slumping housing market
    • And escapes need to invest too much money in a real estate project
    • Different motives from Chinese businesses
      • Wanda wants profits from tourism
      • Vanke wants places for Chinese people to live and own property
    • Investigators conclude:
      • “There is a complete lack of accountability within City government regarding deed restriction removals and significant communication failures between and within City Hall and DCAS (the Department of Citywide Administrative Services).”
    • Mayor De Blasio plans to invest $16 million to Lower East Side after this fiasco
      • 13,000 signed petition urges De Blasio to revoke Rivington sale

Sources
http://gothamist.com/2016/07/14/doi_rivington_house_report.php
http://gothamist.com/2016/02/29/les_luxury_condos_everywhere.php
http://therealdeal.com/2015/10/09/park-developers-planning-241-unit-resi-building-in-bed-stuy/
http://therealdeal.com/2016/02/29/vanke-adam-america-slate-pay-116m-for-les-dev-site/
http://therealdeal.com/2015/06/02/what-the-vanke-wanda-partnership-means-for-new-york/
http://evgrieve.com/2015/12/what-next-then-for-45-rivington-st.html
http://www.thelodownny.com/leslog/tag/rivington-house#
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/petition-urges-de-blasio-stop-sale-rivington-house-article-1.2690302

Extell Development Company
This case study reveals a broader plan companies like Extell has. Extell does build condos on the Lower East Side but has many buildings in Midtown like One57. It does display a kind of cannibalism, like how they even buy off buildings, like Lee’s Art Shop, in the affluent Carnegie Hall area to turn it into Billionaire’s Row. Other purchases seem perplexing, like building an 18 story condo tower and buying a 17 story apartment building.

But these purchases do make sense when you see that CEO Gary Barnett has an overall business strategy. He wants to combine all the condos he bought in midtown Manhattan over the years into a large development site. It’s effectively a fortress, since Barnett will have a monopoly over the area, meaning he will get almost all the profits. It’s a stake of territory.

Barnett does have interests in the Lower East Side too since the area dose not have rezoning protection, meaning he can make a condo as big as he wants. His Extel building, the “Building From Hell”, is an example. The building threatens the literal foundations of people’s apartments, like cracking the walls and sinking the ground. It is a “Vertical Village” where wealthy tenants can have an “authentic” Disneyland Manhattan experience.

  • Develops luxury condos in New York for living and business
  • Serves on the boards of the New York Building Congress
  • Plans on building another luxury condo tower on West 57th St. but is only 18 stories high and in 2008, Extell bought a 17-story apartment building at 134 W. 58th St.
  • But is also building a 1,550 foot condo to rival One57 buildings
  • Other purchases
    • Transforming Carnegie Hall into Billionaire’s Row, like buying Lee’s Art Shop to urban developers for $85 million
    • Buying Calvary Baptist Church and the Salisbury Hotel for $100 million to build another 1,000+ foot condo to rival One57 buildings
  • CEO Gary Barnett’s business strategy: assemble properties over a long period of time to combine into a single, large development site in midtown Manhattan
  • JDS rivals Extell in Lower East Side (north of Washington Bridge)
    • Excel has 85 story tower of luxury apartments
    • JDS plans to build a 70 story tower nearby, razing a Community Center on Cherry St.
    • Promises to flood-proof the property and upgrade the lobby and the $51 million spent should go to non-profits
  • Protestors dub Extel building “The Building From Hell”
    • Construction of building damages their apartments
    • Land under the apartments sinks
    • Building is a “Vertical Village”, providing gardens, romantic fire pits, and other luxuries to rich tenants
    • Department of City Planning rejected Chinatown Working Group pleas for rezoning protection
    • Why billionaires build luxury hotels and apartments there, because no limits on building height

Sources:
http://www.extelldev.com/extell_residential_forsale.html
http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20160712/REAL_ESTATE/160719975/extell-development-planned-to-build-another-luxury-condo-tower-on-west-57th-st-now-its-replacing-a-17-story-building-with-one-thats-18-stories
http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20160607/REAL_ESTATE/160609914/busy-billionaires-row-area-could-get-another-pricey-project
http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20150503/REAL_ESTATE/150509974/
http://ny.curbed.com/2016/4/27/11520138/jds-lower-east-side-tower-247-cherry
http://thevillager.com/2016/03/03/new-extell-building-is-wrecking-the-hood-in-many-ways-locals/

RAD/PACT
PACT is essentially an attempt to improve on the outdated infrastructure and tenant policies on the Lower East Side. They see the problem partly stemming from a lack of federal spending, so PACT requests money from the government to help tenants out. They plan to renovate the many aged apartments themselves and improve the policies and legal work related to the apartments such as paying rent giving tenants a way to efficiently settle any problems they have. PACT also hopes the renovation will attract investments from philanthropists and other businessmen to boost the infrastructure even more.

PACT, at heart, wishes to save Lower East Side tenants and the apartments they live in from decades of neglect and political corruption. They hope to do this in a conventional way: by receiving money from the federal government and investing that money to improve the lives of tenants. However, this attempt is essentially relying on a corrupt system to fix corruption.

  • PACT is the implementation of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD)
  • NYCHA needs $17 billion
  • Major upgrades to 5,200 apartments
    • Modernizations, permanent affordability, tenant protections
    • Implementation of RAD include comprehensive mold remediation, roof or façade replacements, new kitchens, bathrooms, and flooring, renovated hallways and stairwells, upgrades to lighting, fencing, doors, windows, and common areas such as basketball courts.
  • Repairs to almost 30,000 units of public housing
  • Specific buildings in Manhattan
    • Manhattanville Rehab
    • Wise Rehab
    • WSUR Brownstones
  • “A major step forward! Insures decent living standards for everyone!” Declares supporters.
  • Federal funds to NYC tenants have been in decline. PACT and RAD are attempts to pump government money for public welfare.
  • Other stipulations
    • Contracts to make homes permanently affordable are renewed every 20 years to keep them affordable.
    • Tenants pay no more than 30% rent, can run organizations valid to NYCHA, and will have their complaints listened to
  • Part of NextGeneration NYCHA 10 year plan
    • Improve financial stability by improving rent and fee collection and central office costs
    • Play the role of an effective landlord, with efficient customer service, increase safety, and put the power of urban development to local people
    • Rebuild, expand, and preserve affordable housing stock
    • Attract philanthropists to invest money by creating non-profit organizations
    • Give residents contacts to more workforce opportunities

Sources:
https://www1.nyc.gov/site/nycha/about/press/pr-2016/nycha-announces-pact-and-plans-for-1-billion-in-major-upgrades-to-5200-apartments-20160630.page
https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/nycha/downloads/pdf/pact-factsheet.pdf
http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/nycha/downloads/pdf/nextgen-nycha-web.pdf

Battery Park City Authority
In this case study we see the typical frictions between people and corporations, even corporations that claim to benefit the people. Yet BPCA is also a state agency, responsible for administrating policy decisions for Battery Park. BCPA shows that there is not a clear line between government agencies or programs, which we like to think helps the people, and corporate interests, which we often see as self-serving. The distinction is actually blurred, as government and corporations are often married.

Either way BCPA is another bureaucracy with little contact with the people it claims to serve. It’s members make decisions on their own terms, not on the terms of the people. Most don’t even live in the area. Ultimately they mimic corporate interests because they ultimately bend over to larger interests like bigger corporations. This case study reveals potential pitfalls in government planning we should be wary about. BCPA made a lot of strange decisions, like replacing the PEP with security guards and removing the Manhattan Yacht Club and Ms. Huxley, but they make sense when the above points are considered.

  • Battery City Park is a public-benefit corporation, a corporation that claims to create a “balanced” community by keeping people in commercial, residential, and park spaces fulfilled while not compromising anyone else
  • Has a rich legacy of Arab-American communities, dubbed “Little Syria”, going on from the 19th century to 1950, but the shadow still remains
  • Before Battery Park the area shipped goods from New York to new Jersey
  • Replaced Park Enforcement Patrol Officers with private security guards
    • Have little power: can’t make arrests or write summonses
    • A more “effective” alternative
    • BCPA does not “listen to the community”, as decision was done with no consideration for the public
    • Other unpopular decisions:
      • replacing Manhattan Yact Club with a larger marina operator
      • retires Huxley, longtime Conservatory executive who maintained the neighborhood through sustainable policies
    • Of BCPA’s seven members only one actually lives in Battery Park
      • State Sen. Daniel Squadron and Assemblywoman Deborah Glick have introduced a bill that would require a majority of BPCA members to live in the area
      • Local people want to gain greater control of BCPA, a state agency

Sources:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/25/nyregion/25quarter.html?_r=0
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9D04E5D91339E23ABC4952DFBE66838D659EDE&legacy=true
https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20160201/financial-district/battery-park-city-authority-cuts-all-park-enforcement-patrol-officers
https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20160127/battery-park-city/elected-officials-call-for-local-control-of-battery-park-city-authority
https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20141010/battery-park-city/longtime-downtown-marina-operator-may-lose-control-bigger-company
https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20150818/battery-park-city/new-bpc-parks-head-named-after-controversial-exit-of-longtime-parks-leader
http://www.downtownexpress.com/2015/07/30/huxley-park-leader-of-battery-park-city-is-leaving-in-apparent-forced-move/

Common themes:

  • Large, sometimes oversees corporations, seek to gentrify the Lower East Side, replacing public space into property privately owned by the very wealthy.
  • Often the corporations seek to erect luxury condos to enact a larger plan: to transform the area itself into an affluent living town. Colonizing a neighborhood creates a place where wealthy communities can congregate. Profits can be easily made and commerce with other wealthy interests can take place.
  • PACT is a desperate attempt to use government money to fix a long-neglected infrastructure. The problems run deep and are related to capitalism, racism, and class struggles.
  • BCPA reveals a typical conflict between the people and institutions charged with caring for them. The BCPA does indeed serve the people by tending to the infrastructures and communities of the area, but when push comes to shove they ignore the people’s voice and put them second.

 

Yugioh Children of Prometheus 2: Duel 24 – Rise to Full Height!

Mathias: 7900 || Sophia: 5700

MATHIAS’ TURN: “Your disadvantage only worsens, Sophia. Now you’ll see my real power! I Summon The Phantom Knight of Ragged Gloves and Special Summon The Phantom Knight of Silent Boots, and overlay them to Xyz Summon The Phantom Knights of Break Sword!” Two phantoms burning in blue flames, transparent in all but the attire of their namesake, haunt the field, but quickly fuse into each other to form a black horseman and steed. “I use its effect to destroy itself and one of your spells.” The black horseman slashes its blade in the air. A pillar of blue flame slices and burns Sophia’s card, then rebounds on its own caster like a boomerang.

Mathias sees Sophia’s destroyed card is Rise to Full Height. Perplexed, he wonders why she put such a card in her Deck. What purpose could it really serve her? He puts this information in the back of his mind and returns to the duel. “Thanks to Break Sword’s other effect, I welcome Ragged Gloves and Silent boots back to the field.” And the two former phantoms reappear, now 1 Level higher.

Sophia gets what he’s up to. He’s trying to summon another Nordic God! “But Break Sword only allows to you to Summon DARK monsters from now on.”

“True, but I can easily go around this rule. Watch and learn. I activate my trap, Nordic Spirit Message! I pay 1000 to Summon Valkyrie of the Nordic Ascendant from my Deck.” A winged lady with the most ethereal white dress descends from above. “The effects of all monsters in my field and Graveyard are negated this turn, but it’s a great trade-off.” (Mathias LP 6900) He boldly declares, “ODIN, LORD OF THE AESIR, I SUMMON THEE!” The valkyrie and two phantom knights fly up to the auroras above. A column of rainbow light strikes the ground so violently it shakes, toppling everyone but Mathias over. None other than the elder god of Asgard descends, a white robed king, his one ice blue eye atop a long, snow-white beard.

“By Lucifer’s beard, did he really need to be so dramatic?” Maya complains under her breath.

“Absolutely.” Yukio says, “A big, hammy monster needs a big, hammy summon, no?”

Mathias declares, “Odin, attack Chanbara with Divine Judgment!” The king of gods fires a beam of fiery light from its massive oak staff.

“I activate Harvest Time!” Sophia fights back. “It cancels your attack and skips two rounds of the Duel!” The Nordic God’s attack vanishes instantly.

“Not bad, but you still have to deal with Thor! Thor, strike down Chanbara!” The warrior thunder god smashes the speedroid with its hammer. The shock of the blast knocks Sophia off her feet and a bolt of lightning from Mathias’ field spell strikes her down for good measure. (Sophia LP 3400)
SOPHIA’S TURN: The young duelist clutches the sandy ground, then her knees. She slowly staggers to her feet but gets up nonetheless. She draws her next card, looks at it with disappointment bordering heartbreak. She holds five cards in her hand yet none of them hold a candle to the Nordic Gods. “I set two cards facedown. That’s all I can do.”

MATHIAS’ TURN: “My onslaught continues! I activate Harpies’ Feather Duster!” A blustering tornado of feathers sweeps away Sophia’s facedown cards. “Then I activate Nordic Spirit Message. I pay 1000, and add Mara of the Nordic Alfar to my hand.” (Mathias LP 5900) “I banish Ragged Gloves and Silent Boots from my Graveyard to add a Fog Blade to my hand and an Ancient Cloak to my Graveyard. Then I banish Ancient Cloak to add Phantom Knight’s Wing to my hand. Odin, Thor! Shatter Samsara Dragon and Daegusto Emeral!” The two gods easily trample over their weak opponents. Two lightning bolts leap from the foggy sky and strike Sophia. (Sophia LP 1400)

“I activate Samsara’s effect and Summon your dead Phantom Knights of Break Sword.” Sophia says, and the black phantasmal horseman reappears but on Sophia’s field.

SOPHIA’S TURN: “I activate Fortune’s Future. I return Lady Aeter to my Graveyard and draw 2.” She draws, looks at her cards, and sighs in relief. “I activate Swords of Revealing Light!” Seven swords made purely from white light strike the field around the Nordic gods. The gods try to break past the barriers set up by the swords but struggle in vain.

MATHIAS’ TURN: “Not bad. You stop me from attack for three turns. You put up a pretty good fight.” Mathias acknowledges Sophia’s skill. “But it’s too little, too late. I activate Odin’s effect to make it impervious to spells.”

“No you don’t!” Sophia shouts angrily. “I discard Effect Veiler to negate Odin’s effect!” A boyish youth in white pants and wings sweeps around the elder god, coating it in blue dust, suppressing the god’s powers. Sophia, meanwhile, jumps back, surprised at the vehemence in her own voice.

“Don’t think this lets you off the hook.” Mathias reminds her. “You will now see my final Nordic god. I Summon Mara of the Nordic Alfar.” Clouds appear, then condense together, forming a strange humanoid creature. “I tune it with Vanadis of the Nordic Ascendant and Garmr of the Nordic Beasts Synchro Summon Loki, Lord of the Aesir!” Two monsters leap from Mathias’ hand and they climb up to heaven with Mara. Auroras clear the dark sky once more, and the trickster god descends below under a blizzard of snow.

Loki is the strangest and most clownish of the Nordic gods, a thin and thinly bearded god dressed in wonky, mismatched clothes and a hat to match. Indeed, it takes one look at Sophia and bawls in laughter. “Really? You summoned me to beat this n00b!” It guffaws to Mathias, “Who uses Fortune Ladies? I mean, who plays Swords of Revealing Light in this metagame?”

“Just shut up and duel!” Mathias shouts to his monster.

“Hah! Dueling’s your job! STFUGTFO, pleb!”

“NO U!”

Maximus and Ivy cover their faces in embarrassment. Loki was one of the… stranger god cards out there. Even Sophia forgot about her terror and laughed a bit.

SOPHIA’S TURN: But the hard reality of her position in the duel comes back to her soon enough. Mathias has all his Nordic Gods out. They’re too powerful. She falls to her knees, knowing she is completely outclassed. She clutches the sand under her and watches it slip through her fingers. “I can’t do this. It’s too much.”

Maya runs to Sophia’s aid but Yukio grabs her, holding her back. Maya violently fights back, hitting Yukio a few times in her wrath, but Yukio holds her in place. “She has to do this on her own!” He shouts to her over and over again, until Maya slackens. “She wanted to handle a challenge on her own. She has to fight Mathias without any help.” Maya sadly agrees, knowing that helping Sophia won’t help her. Sophia has to stand on her own.

Sophia finds only one option left, to play Sophia, the Goddess of Rebirth. “But it’s impossible! I can’t gather all the pieces!” She shouts to herself in despair. Then she remembers a story Pegasus told her when she was small, when she just picked up Yugioh. It was about Yugi’s most famous duel with Kaiba. Yugi faced three Blue-Eyes White Dragons with nothing on his field, almost falling in despair. He heard his Grandfather’s voice, telling him of the legendary Exodia, a monster that gives you instant victory if you gather its give pieces. Yugi doubted himself, but his Grandfather told him not to give up. And Yugi persisted to the end, achieving a miracle.

Sophia rises to feet. It is only when you have no choice but to be strong do you realize how strong you can be. She has no other choice but to summon Sophia this duel. “I activate Pre-Preparation of rights to add a Ritual Monster and its Ritual Spell to my hand. Next, I play Hymn of Light, Tributing Fortune Lady Earth to Ritual Summon Saffira, Queen of Dragons.” Colorful light strikes the ground as if from a strained glass window. A large fortune lady in earthy robes springs from Sophia’s hand and dissolves into the light above. Then a human dragon materializes from the light, a graceful creature with blue scales and wings. “And I activate her effect.”

“Nope. I activate Phantom Knight’s Fog Blade on Saffira.” Mathias denies her. A blade of poisonous smoke pieces the queen of dragons in the hard. It doesn’t die, but languishes in pain.

Undaunted, Sophia continues, “I activate Brilliant Fusion. I send Gem-Knight Garnet and a LIGHT monster from my Deck to my Graveyard to Fusion Summon Gem-Knight Seraphinite.” A cluster of precious stones smash into each other into a rough sculpture, and the surfaces break, freeing a knight in sapphire armor. “I Summon Junk Synchron and use its effect to revive Fortune Lady Light from my Graveyard.” The tiny android mechanic and small fortune lady reappear. “I tune Junk Synchron and Seraphinite to Synchro Summon PSY-Framelord Omega!” Mechanic and knight once more assemble themselves as rings and stars and open the portal for the arrival of a tall and lanky cyborg. “I end my turn.”

MATHIAS’ TURN: Mathias puzzles over Sophia’s moves. She looks like she’s trying to set up a combo but has no idea what it is. “Hmm. I have no idea what you’re scheming but it won’t work. I activate Nordic Spirit Message. I activate Pot of Avarice. I return Mara, Vanadis, Garmr, Ancient Cloak, and Tanngrisnir to my Deck and draw 2.”

Maximus almost leaps up to Mathias in comical irritation. “You played that card to just to annoy me, didn’t you? You know I’ll trade my arm and Deck for it!”

Ivy restrains her hot-tempered friend. She gestures apologetically to everyone around her, mouthing silently, “It’s a running gag.” Hoping everyone would understand. They don’t.

Then I pay 1000 to add another Vanadis to my hand.” (Mathias LP 5900 → 4900) “I activate Mystical Space Typhoon to destroy your Swords!” His own cyclone circles his field, blowing away the glowing white swords. His gods now free, they ready themselves to exact their vengeance.

Sophia says, “You won’t attack me this turn. I banish Rise to Full Height in my Graveyard to target Omega, which means you can only attack Omega this turn. Then banish Omega and 1 card in your hand.” The cyborg glows, then vanishes through a worm hole. Mathias removes the card in his hand with a grimace. Since Omega is gone, he can’t attack it, meaning he can’t attack at all.

Mathias confesses, “You’re stalling on me? Really? Now that’s annoying. I expected more from you. I end my turn.”

SOPHIA’S TURN: Her Omega returns through the wormhole, and Mathias regains his card. “I set one card facedown. Your move.”

MATHIAS’ TURN: As soon as he draws, Sophia activates her Omega’s other effect, returning Rise to Full Height to the Graveyard. “Now I banish Rise to Full Height to target Omega and banish Omega again.”

“Not this time.” Mathias counters. “I activate Thor to negate all your monsters’ effects.”

“No, you don’t. I equip Thor with Trickster Sprite from my Graveyard.” A green fairy with gauzy wings, looking more like an insect than a fairy, flies around Thor, spinning its green web around the giant. The god tries to swat away the annoying creature and break from its bonds but in vain. The sprite’s web is stronger than steel. “As long as my Sprite is on Thor it can’t attack or activate its effect.”

Sophia carries out her plan, her psychic cyborg disappearing through a wormhold again. Mathias is in a jam but knows the truth. Sophia can’t actually beat him. All she can do is stall her inevitable defeat. The duel is truly his. He sighs in disappointment. Sophia played a good duel and even her stall tactic was nice, but its not going anywhere for her. He needs to put the dog down. “I set a card facedown. You’re move.”

SOPHIA’S TURN: Her Omega returns through the wormhole, and Mathias regains his card. “I activate Secret Village of the Spellcasters.” Sophia’s side of the field dissolves away, molding into new terrain: a pixie village in the middle of a bright green forest. “Now you can’t play any Spell Cards. I end my turn.”

MATHIAS’ TURN: He draws, and once more Sophia activates Omega. This is the chance Mathias waited for. “I activate Breakthrough Skill! Your Omega is negated.” Surely enough, the psychic cyborg atrophies, falling to its knee.

But Sophia isn’t done with her bag of tricks. “I activate Mystical Space Typhoon!”

“You can’t negate a Normal Trap by destroying it.” Mathias begins to chastise her, but Sophia says, “Screw your trap. I’m killing off my own Trickster Sprite.”

Her cyclone erases her own card. The green web entangling Thor disappears, but a a green screen shimmers between Mathias’ and Sophia’s monsters, frustrating the Nordic Gods once more. “I can return my destroyed Sprite to my Deck to remove your Battle Phase this turn.” Sophia explains.

“So I can’t attack.” Mathias grudgingly acknowledges. “Honestly, that’s fine by me. I activate Lock Out Space. This Continuous Spell stops you from moving any banished cards. I’ve got you cornered. No more stalling for you. Either attack me or die next turn.”

SOPHIA’S TURN: “He’s right. I can’t stall anymore. I can’t run away anymore.” Sophia says to herself. She feels herself fall into the pit of despair again but stops herself instantly. “I can’t lose! It’s not just about my self-worth and potential! My entire team is riding on this draw!” She sees the setting sun shine behind Mathias, casting him into a silhouette like he was some kind of angel, but inevitably dying. As the day darkens into knight Mathias too fades away. Unless the evening bonfires are lit she won’t be able to see Mathias at all.

“I’ll defeat any enemy that stands in my way!” Sophia shouts, drawing her last card. “This is it! I activate Instant Fusion! I pay 1000 to Summon Elder Entity Norden from my Extra Deck!” A sealed can appears and pops open, the mist forming into a water god driving a pair of seahorses on its conk shell chariot. “I banish Norden, Saffira, Omega, and Break Sword to Summon Sophia, Goddess of Rebirth!” Sophia’s monsters shatter. Their remains, sparkling like tainted glass, swirl in a vortex around her. The ground violently shakes, yawning wide open. Then light erupts from the ground as if from a volcano and a holy beast climbs out from the very depths of the earth.

Mathias and the entire audience gape at the divine creature in awe. It looks like a primitive pagan deity from a time long ago very different from ours. The chimerical beast’s color is brilliant white, shaped like some form of cow, adorned with gold and other precious stones. Its gold and white wings, dotted with wide open, piercing eyes, shine so brightly they turn the evening dusk into noon. On its noble head, just under its great horns, rests a golden headdress shaped like a vulture’s wings.

Maya and Yukio pump their fists in their air. That’s their Sophia! That’s their Deck! Their Deck they all built together! Nothing gives Maya more pride than seeing her Sophia grow up.

Sophia feels overwhelming power flow from her body to the earth and her monsters and back her. She channels her power into her attack and roars so loud it deafens everyone in shock. “Sophia, banish the field!” And under her command her goddess roars as a lion, spreads her wings, and her many eyes burn a sea of holy flames on the entire dueling grounds, incinerating every card in Sophia and Mathias’ hand, field, and Graveyard. Mathias screams and covers under the flames while his Nordic Gods scream in terror before burning to death under the flames.

Only Sophia remains in play, but not for long. “Fortune Lady Light left the field, which lets me Summon a fortune lady from my Deck. I choose Fortune Lady Umbra!” And the tall, dark sorceress appears beside Sophia’s god. “Lady Umbra, attack Mathias directly!” The sorceress strikes Mathias with hellish flames from her staff. Mathias desperately rolls on the sand as if the flames are not holograms but really burning him. (Mathias LP 2800) “Sophia, finish him off!” The goddess bats her wings, flaming the divine flames under then, and sweeps away Mathias with them. Mathias falls to the ground, burned in agony.

Mathias: 0 || Sophia: 400

The crowd gasped in horror while Maximus and Ivy rushed to aid their fallen friend. Maximus clasped his friend’s hand tight while trying to stabilize him while Ivy put bandages on Mathias’ wounds. “Somebody help him!” She shouted in fear.

Sophia rushed to Mathias in tears, holding his other hand, while Maya rushed to Ivy’s aid, handing her a first aid kit from her bag. Maximus, noticing Mathias wasn’t breathing, became desperate, pushing his abdomen with his palms and breathing into his mouth.

Ivy, realizing normal first aid wouldn’t work, had to make a desperate measure. Ivy commanded, “Maya, Yukio, Sophia, cover us up as best as you can. Nobody should see this but there’s no other option.” She laid her hands on Mathias’ wounded body, chanting in deep, gurgling voice, her face contorted in concentration, her body glowing bright. “I call upon my Ka, Fairie Queen! Channel your power through me! Heal Mathias!”

Did Ivy grow white wings? No, it must have been a trick of the eye for they vanished instantly. Mathias’ burns faded away. A miracle! Only a few marks remained as if he just brushed by a fire. Mathias gasped for air, pawing on the ground, coughing while Maximus patted him in the back to help him get any junk out of his throat. Maya, Yukio, and Sophia were all dumbstruck in shock and surprise. None of them believed in the supernatural, yet here it was right in front of them.

Recovering, Mathias laughed his heartiest laugh yet. “That was one of the most fun, craziest duels I ever had!” He shook Sophia’s hand with all her strength, nearly breaking the poor girls arm, and handed her the two last Item Cards her team needed. Everyone around him sighed in profound relief, except Sophia, was still in shock. “WAS THAT A GREAT DUEL OR WHAT!” Mathias called out and the whole audience trumpeted yes in a bright fanfare.

The audience cheered at Sophia in a thunderous applause. The sudden shifts in mood were too much for our protagonists. Maya and Yukio wondered if cheering was the best thing to do since Mathias nearly died playing a card game, but Mathias himself and his friends didn’t seem to mind. They even patted them on the back for being such great teammates. Sophia had the same thoughts but also a few more. She couldn’t believe she won the duel and became that much stronger, but also feared her power, the power that nearly killed Mathias.

Maya and Yukio hugged Sophia, summoning all their love from the depth of their heats, and Sophia did the same. Maya and Yukio lifted Sophia into the air. Exalted, Sophia could see the entire crowd cheering for her from her height. She never believed anyone could love her or so many people would welcome her into her heart. For the first time in ages, Sophia lead her guards down and embraced the falling night and the revelers around her.

——————————–

Created cards can be found on this link: HERE

Yugioh Children of Prometheus: Duel 23 – The Nordic Gods Descend

Sophia turned around and walked up to Mathias. Startled, Mathias asked, “Hey, can I do something for you?”

Sophia took a deep breath as if trying to sum up all of her strength in one action. She spoke boldly, “Mathias, I challenge you to a duel. I ante two Item Cards.”

A hammer from the sky must have struck Maya and Yukio for they stood frozen at the mention. Mathias widened his eyes a bit in mild surprise. “I honestly didn’t expect you of all people to challenge me. – I thought someone with as much ambition and hubris as Maya would do it but life is strange. – You sure you want to do this, kid? You’re friends worked really hard to get their last two Item Cards. If you lose to me, you lose everything they worked for.”

“Yes, I know the risks. I know how strong you are.” Sophia said. And indeed she was right. Mathias, Maximus, and Ivy were the best duelists in the entire tournament. They were even known worldwide as the Saints, righteous duelists who promptly defeated any champion who abused other people with his celebrity status. Mathias was so strong only Yugi and Kaiba could beat him, yet so humble he claimed no title for himself. Mathias brandished Sophia no less than twenty Item Cards. He didn’t lose a single duel.

“But.” Sophia continued. “If I win my team will have all Seven Item cards. We can make it to the finals.” By this point every duelist surrounded them, all their breaths held. People even quit their duels.

Mathias gave his advice, “You don’t have to take such a huge risk. Challenge other people. You’ll be able to make it to the finals in only one other day. If you lose, you’ll seriously set back your team, and you may not be able to make it.”

Sophia turned back to her companions, trying to put the thoughts raging inside her head into words. “I’ve felt like a liability ever since Bandit Keith assaulted me. You guys are so strong and smart. I’m so stupid and weak. I need to prove something to you guys. I’m not a liability. I’m just as good as you. And it’s not just that. I feel like a molting lizard or insect, like I’m ready to burst out of my own skin. I need to take this huge challenge!”

Maya gently put her hands on Sophia’s shoulders. She understood what was happening. “You’re growing as a person. That feeling deep inside you is telling you to break past your limits so you can keep growing.”

Yukio said, “You were never a liability to us. You won our duels and helped the team like we all did. Take Mathias down. Go get him.”

Maya and Yukio gave Sophia a warm hug. Empowered, Sophia restated her challenge. Mathias accepted. Everyone surrounding them fell into dead silence. He said, “Agreed. Tomorrow at seven pm before the dueling grounds opens. Be ready. You wanna’ beat me it’ll take all you got.”

He reached out his large, square hand and Sophia clasped it with her small, narrow hand, sealing the agreement. Our heroes went to bed early, prepared to tackle the big day tomorrow.

DAY 6 : 7:01 AM : LUXOR

The team rose early to get the day going. They bought food at a local store – they didn’t want to try making food again! – and ate in the comforting shade of their sleeping quarters. Sophia placed the card, Sophia, Goddess of Rebirth, on the floor in the middle of her room. It was one of the most powerful cards in the game, and Maya gave it to her. But it was so hard to Summon in a duel. You needed to banish a Fusion Monster, Ritual Monster, Synchro Monster, and Xyz Monster. Was there any way she could use it?

It wasn’t like Sophia had a choice. She did the research on Mathias using the Item Cards they had. He used three nigh unstoppable cards known as the Nordic Gods. The only way she could beat such divine creatures was to use one herself. She popped open the team’s card cases, strewing hundreds of cards on the floor, searching for an answer.

Maya and Yukio sat down next to their friend to help her. “You know what this reminds me of?” Yukio said. When Sophia asked what, he replied, “Yugi’s most famous duel with Kaiba. Not the one in Battle City, the one where Yugi draws Exodia for an instant victory. Exodia is like a puzzle where you assemble five pieces together. You’re deck is the same, where you need to assemble five pieces, the various types of monsters and Sophia herself.”

Maya sifted through the various cards on the floor. “Hmm… You don’t have any trouble summoning Synchros and Xyz monsters, but at the same time your Fortune Ladies stand more on their own than relying on other cards.”

Yukio had a brilliant idea. “Brilliant Fusion! Use this nifty combo: you use Brilliant Fusion to send Fortune Lady Light and a Gem Knight to get out Gem Knight Seraphinite. Play Junk Synchron to revive Lady Light. Synchro Summon Junk Destroyer to destroy Lady Light and use her ability.”

“If that’s the case, then you’ll want to focus on Rank 4 Xyz monsters.” Maya said. “Daegusto Emeral should help recycle your cards too.”

And Ritual Monsters? “Sophia held out a card she always liked: Saffira, Queen of Dragons. “It was always one of my favorites. So let’s throw in some support for that.”

It was a daunting project since Sophia had to cram together so many different combos. Sophia’s deck now had almost fifty cards in it. It went against common sense. The best decks were slim and got out simple combos as fast as possible. But Yugi and Kaiba weren’t like that, nor were most great duelists. Their decks had a certain multifaceted complexity to them. It made them much harder to use but allowed a duelists to play at a much higher level. Our heroes, whether they realized it or not, were already heading in that direction. Now Sophia would be the first one to fully manifest her potential. Sophia play-tested her deck against Maya and Yukio, dueling them again and again, and changing her deck in tandem. Our heroes, now satisfied, rested in the shade.

Yukio spoke to Maya, “You once said you wanted to beat Kaiba and Yugi, didn’t you?”

“You did?” Sophia said, mildly surprised.

“Yes. I’m more than capable, but I sometimes don’t want to anymore.” Maya said. “I have no incentive. Yugioh, it’s,” She gestured in futility. “Going nowhere. Sure, it’s suffering a massive power creep, but the game lost the moral force it used to have. Yugioh was simpler back then, even naïve, a battle between good and evil, but it was more meaningful. When we win this tournament I can hopefully settle my debts and buy a comfortable life. Then I can quite this game and go back to my music and writing. I’ll no longer be a reality TV star, a caged circus animal.”

Yukio smirked. “Let’s blame the economy and Republicans as usual.”

Maya looked deep into Sophia’s eyes. They were the same shade of dark brown, the same narrow shape, but the fires inside them were so different. Maya’s were sharp, piercing, bilious, while Sophia’s were tender, attuned, and sad. Maya said, “If I press on it has to be a deeper reason; someone to fight for, more creative paths to travel, and so forth.”

Then Maya twitched her fingers. “They itch.” She complained. She hadn’t played the piano or wrote anything down for one week too many. In desperation, she took a low desk from downstairs and drew a complete set of piano keys on it with chalk. Then she started to play, letting herself get lost in the music that wasn’t there.

Yukio and Sophia watched in fascination. Yukio played the guitar while Sophia sang, and all three could somehow read the music Maya played just by watching her. It was something they never heard before: up and down arpeggios on the right hand while two voices went down in thirds on the left hand. The two hands exchanged roles, the arpeggios retracted into block chords, then unfolded into scales, the descended thirds freed into a recitativo of sorts joined by octaves, then back to arpeggios and thirds, the descending thirds became ascending sixths, all while Maya meandered from g minor to every other key.

Yukio and Sophia knew the shape of the best. It was a Baroque-style prelude; melancholic, with a wistful beauty beyond this world, but moved as a force of nature. Its character kept changing as Maya modulated to different keys the way a prism broke white light into a rainbow of different colors. Dark green became a teal, ocean blue, then a glowing bronze, a baby sky blue, a brilliant yellow, a fizzling orange. And Maya went on for hours. Yukio and Sophia even walked outside to stretch their legs but Maya didn’t notice them. She was lost.

And then she was found. She staggered on her feet as if she fell down a rabbit hole into wonderland and just tumbled out. “It opens to whole worlds, dimensions, feelings, parts of your life, the past, present, future. And it’s different for each person; like an extradimensional entity that materializes in a different way to each person. Or like a divine creature that appears in a form most relevant to that person.”

Yukio laughed and slapped on the back. “You high or something? Of course it is. It’s like in Paradise when Dante says the spheres of Paradise and its angels are manifestations projected by higher beings in the Empyrean, not the actual beings themselves. Paradise appears differently to each person.”

“What did you see?” Sophia asked. Maya eyed her dead on for a few seconds before shaking her head, laughing at herself in bemusement.

DAY 6 : 6:56 PM : LUXOR

Re, the great sun god, was slowly dying, slowly falling down the horizon. Our heroes, hurrying to the dueling grounds not to be late, saw Mathias and his teammates just ahead. The sun crept behind Mathias, casting over the land a very long shadow. Every duelist in the tournament surrounded him as if they were planets and he was the sun itself. Sophia took her position, facing opposite Mathias, opposite the setting sun.

Maya, watching Sophia square off against Mathias in front of her, pondered the end of one duelist and the beginning of another. Mathias was an older duelist who was in his prime in a different era. Now things have changed. If Sophia wins, everything will be different after today.

Mathias shouted, “LET”S ROCK!” And the duel began.

Mathias: 8000 || Sophia: 8000

MATHIAS’ TURN: “I set a monster and card facedown.” Two larger than life cards appear before him. “You’re move.”

SOPHIA’S TURN: “I draw!” She notices the obvious. Her opponent has only two cards in play. Time to make a big attack! Seize the advantage! “I activate Brilliant Fusion! I sent Gem-Knight Garnet and Fortune Lady Light from my Deck to the Graveyard to Fusion Summon Gem-Knight Seraphinite!” A knight made of pure rock and the smallest of fortune ladies appear, then shatter into rocks that smash into each other, begetting a large, blue knight made of rocks. “I Summon Junk Synchron and use his effect.” A short, pudgy mechanic appears and so does Sophia’s fortune lady.

“I use Seraphine’s effect to Normal Summon again. Go, Summoner Monk!” A shinto priest bows in Defense Position. “I discard a Spell Card to Summon Fortune Lady Water from my Deck.” The most elegant of fortune ladies, with flowing dark hair, is called forth. “And use her effect to draw 2 cards.”

“I tune Junk Synchron with Seraphinite to Synchro Summon Junk Destroyer!” The mechanic bursts into three rings and sapphire knight aligns inside the rings as five stars. A pillar of light shines, then lifts like a curtain, showing a giant made of spare vehicle parts. “I use its effect. Pop Lady Light.” The small fortune lady bursts. “And I use her effect Summon Fortune Lady Aeter from my Deck.” A new fortune lady, a luminous queen of fortune ladies, takes its place. “And I overlay Lady Water with Summoner Monk to Xyz Summon Daigusto Emeral.” The two monsters collapse into stars, fall in a worm hole, and a heroic monster with a backpack of propeller fans jumps out. “And use its effect to return Lady Water, Seraphinite, and Junk Destroyer to my Deck and draw 1.”

“Lady Aeter, attack his facedown monster!”

“I spring my trap, Phantom Knight’s Fog Blade.” Mathias declares. A sword, made of a corrosive mist, not metal, impales the fortune lady queen, but does not kill her. Its body stiffens, forever frozen in time.

“Not a problem. Go Junk Destroyer!” Sophia’s tin can titan crushes Mathias’ monster, a rather rotund hamster, with is outstretched hand.

“I use Super-Nimble Mega Hamster effect. I summon Tanngrisnir of the Nordic Beasts.” With Mathias’ words a new monster appeared, a small white goat with red eyes.

“Daegusto Emeral, destroy Tanngrisnir!” Sophia declares. Her monster smashes the goat’s face, crushing it, only for two more goats to appear. Sophia bites her lip in frustration. She made a mistake! Now he has two monsters, meaning he can summon a Nordic God easier!

Maya and Yukio watch Sophia’s attacks unfold with grim faces. Yukio comments, “This is bad. Sophia rushed in without thinking straight. She used about 9 cards in her turn but Mathias stopped her with only 2. She’s trying to overwhelm Mathias right away with all of her speed and strength but it backfired.”

Maya elaborates, “Sophia’s dueling like a novice. A seasoned duelist knows when to bide his time or when to press for advantage. Mathias waited for Sophia to attack or at least expose her strategies. Now that he judged Sophia’s dueling to be inferior and built up a combo, he will strike next turn.”

MATHIAS’ TURN: “You made a mistake underestimating me, Sophia. I’m a very gregarious and honest man, but I’m no idiot. Now you’ll pay for your blunders. Get ready to meet the first Nordic God. I summon Guldfaxe of the Nordic Beasts,” A red yak jumped into play, “And tune it with my two Tanngrisnir tokens to Synchro Summon Thor, Lord of the Aesir!” His two monsters break down into rinks and stars and align as they ascend to the sky, now a colored in the beautiful colors of auroras. Snow slowly fell unto the desert ground. Then a thunderbolt strikes the ground, shattering the earth, toppling everyone but Mathias over! And thus appears Thor, a grey-bearded giant in a billowing purple coat, holding its legendary hammer.

“Next card is Mound of the Bound Creator!” The dessert sand morphs into an island of black dirt, surrounded by four pillars and the shapeless matter of chaos. Chains spring from the pillars to lock the God’s ankles into place. “Get ready for some action, kid! Thor, smack down Junk Destroyer!” The Nordic God smashes the tin man into shrapnel. “And Mound activates, dealing you an extra 1000 damage!” Thunder strikes Sophia down from the grey, foggy sky. Sophia clutches her knees, otherwise she would fall over. (Sophia LP 6500) “I set a card and end my turn.” Mathias concludes.

SOPHIA’S TURN: Her confidence shattered, Sophia thinks of defending herself at all costs. But she shakes her head. “No! I cannot run away! I have to attack! And I know how!” Mathias hears her madly yelling at herself. He almost wants to ask if she’s OK and quit the duel, but he knows it would disservice her to do so.

“I activate Mystical Space Typhoon to destroy your Fog Blade.” Sophia’s cyclone sweeps away the pernicious blade, and her fortune lady revives. “I Summon Fortune Lady Silent and Special Summon Equalizer Magician.” A tall, somber fortune lady with dark grey robes and cartoonish, mischievous professor, looking more like a mathematician than a magician, appear. “I use Lady Silent’s effect to boost time ahead for three rounds.” The somber fortune lady strikes her staff and space-time zooms ahead, but for only for one square meter. The other fortune lady in it grows in size and three levels, becoming ever stronger. “And I tune Lady Silent and Equalizer Magician to Synchro Summon Hi-Speedroid Chanbara!” A giant floating sword, really a machine, appears behind the pillar of white light.

Mathias chalks up nonchalantly, “More fancy moves? You must be the biggest, scariest duelist in town. What ever will I do?”

“Try making fun of me after I beat you.” Sophia rebukes him. “Lady Aeter, strike down Thor!” The fortune lady queen leaps right at the God’s face with boldness and impunity, and strikes its face with its burning, brilliant staff. The giant God, blinded, grabs its face in agony, roaring, and topples to the ground. (Mathias LP 7900) “Now I use Lady Aeter’s other effect. I banish her to Special Summon Fortune Lady Water and Fortune Lady Mist from my Deck,” Two fortune ladies of the water, one familiar, another new, smaller, and paler appear, “And draw 2 cards.”

Mathias claps his hands in admiration of Sophia’s skill. Sophia looks at him with suspicion and confusion so Mathias clarifies for her, “I’m not being sarcastic. I genuinely feel proud of you. You’re the second duelist in this entire tournament to succeed in killing a Nordic God. Everyone else gave up.” Sophia wants to know who the other duelist was but it doesn’t matter. Mathias has a caveat. “But you’re celebration is over. I Guldfaxe from my Graveyard to revive Thor, and deliver 800 damage!” The Nordic God stands up tall to its full height, groaning in irritation as if bitten by a mosquito. It spots Sophia, the source of its aggravation, and shocks her with a bolt of thunder from its fingertip. (Sophia LP 5700)

Sophia groans, not from the attack but from her mistake. In her fright she forgot all about Thor’s effect. Even worse, she realizes all the Nordic Gods can revive themselves. There’s nothing she can do but defend. “I tune Lady Water and Lady Mist to Synchro Summon Samsara Dragon.” The fortune ladies disappear, replaced by an otherworldly dragon engulfed in blue flames. But Sophia places it in Defense Position, for it has a strong 2600 DEF but meager ATK. “I switch Daegusto Emeral to Defense Position and set two cards facedown.”

It is now Mathias’ turn to press his advantage even further.

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Created cards can be found on this link: HERE