Team Baby Blast Furnace: 7300 || Team Dynamic Duo: 6700
Umbra desperately rushes over to his bruised comrade. Thanks to their trickery the two Ghouls felt no drills penetrating into their necks but the damage done from their opponent’s attacks shook them more than any foul play could. Umbra slaps the face of small friend, “Wake up, shrimp!” He cries. “Wake up! Wake up!”
Maya laughs, a high, cold, cruel cackle, enough to make even Yukio’s hot blood run cold. She eyes them, grinning like a crocodile about to devour its pray. Yukio always knew Maya was a difficult person; she is hot-tempered, rash, manipulative, jealous, and greedy; but he always knew she was a creature of light at heart. But he didn’t think that a bright light casts a dark shadow. At this moment he finally sees, understands, how dark that shadow could be.
She counts with her fingers in cruel ridicule, “This little piggy went to the market. He got butchered; so this little piggy went wee, wee all the way home. Now tell me where Sophia is, you dorks, or I’ll make you two rue the day you were born.”
Umbra glares at the cruel, spiteful woman, too hurt and afraid to even be angry. Egyptian mythology spoke of a lion goddess named Sekhmet who nearly destroyed the entire human race in a blood-soaked fury. He was agnostic throughout his life but he does wonder at this moment if gods could become people.
He slaps Lumis’ face again. “Come on, wake up, you shrimp! Please don’t die on me! I-“ The grown man, the hardened criminal, cries as a baby. Anything is possible. He whisperers, chokes, “I-I l-love you.”
Lumis gags, wakens, and hits Umbra in the face. “Don’t call me a shrimp!” He berates his partner but Umbra doesn’t mind. He is so glad his partner in crime is safe he hugs him.
“Trouble in paradise.” Maya mutters to herself in disgust. She tells her opponents with a murderous tone, “Siegfried, Rory, this is not the backstage of an Elton John concert. Get on with the duel already, you pathetic cowards.”
Umbra helps his small friend up, which Lumis gladly accepts. They speak to each other, not through secret mics, but face to face. “We have to max out our teamwork to beat them. Nothing can beat us when we work together.”
LUMIS’ TURN: “I activate Kyoutou Waterfront again.” And again his coastal city takes form behind him. “I Summon Kaiju Embryo.” A larvae only half of Lumis’ size takes form and floats in the field, a dramatic contrast to the massive Kaijus.
“So the shrimp forgets how small he is.” Maya taunts him. “Come at me, bro.”
Yukio honestly wonders who the bad guys are. Umbra and Lumis look like angels next to the barbaric tiger next to him.
UMBRA’S TURN: “You’re move will not be in vain, partner. I play Pre-Preparation of Rights to search for a Ritual Monster and Ritual Spell. Next, my Ritual activates; End of the World. I sacrifice my Motley Masked Madman in my hand and Lumis Kaiju Embryo.” The two monsters vanish into a dark void made manifest. “Now arise, Demise, King of Armageddon.” A terrifying tyrant emerges from the black void; the giant’s head but a skull.
“I pay 2000 Life Points! Demise, blow up the field!” The king swings its ax, carving a blazing gorge on the field, wiping out all monsters in sight but itself. “I banish Masked Madman from my Grave to Summon Melchid the Four-Faced Beast from my Deck, and I Tribute him and Armageddon to Summon Masked Beast Des Gardius!” A fiend of four floating heads fused together appears but soon it and the dark king vanish in black smoke, trading them for a giant scarred beast with three heads.
Maya growls. She knows what’s coming to her.
“Des Gardius, attack Maya!” And the masked beast slashes Maya’s chest, drawing huge amounts of blood. (Team Baby Blast Furnace 7800 à 4500) Maya falls to her knees, grabbing her chest but stands up again. Her face shows nothing but contempt at the two men.
“Talk about a tough cookie.” Umbra grumbles. He ends his turn.
YUKIO’S TURN: “Don’t think I’m a pushover just because I’m nice. You’re still the bullies here, Crabbe and Goyle. I play Foolish Burial, sending Performage Trick Clown from my Deck to the Grave. And since he went there, I Summon him.” A bright red clown jumped to the field with its bright red and orange ball. The clown’s appearance burned 1000 of Yukio’s Life but it’s a price he has no problem playing. Especially since, “I Summon Thousand Blades from my Grave.” The wielder of many swords stands next to the clown.
“I play Xyz Change Tactics. Get ready for a bumpy ride.” He overlays the two creatures to Summon Number 39: Utopia from another universe, quickly evolves it Number S39: Utopia Prime, and finally Summons Number S39: Utopia the Lightning. He pays 1500 Life and draws 3 cards throughout the ordeal.
He faces Maya, stern. He must make his points clear. “I will only work with you if you stop being so cruel.”
“I want Sophia safe.” Maya answers. “Don’t put their lives ahead of hers.” And Maya means it more than ever. Sophia is the most sensitive soul Maya ever knew, an angel; a woman like her long lost mother, but stronger, holding an immeasurable inner light. The two cockroaches across her do not deserve the time of day.
Yukio says, “I understand but you can’t duel with hatred in your heart. You won’t truly win anything. Promise me you will duel with a calm and clear mind. Please trust me.”
Maya sighs, breaths in and out, concentrating on Sophia and the warm, positive light she brings. The poison of her hate leaves but the volcanic anger remains but it sharpens her senses instead of dulling them. “I trust you.”
“Good. Utopia Lightning, clock out Des Gardius.” As his space warrior charges at the black beast, Yukio activates his monster’s effect, doubling its ATK, giving it the power to shatter its enemy. (Team Dynamic Duo LP 3000) But all is not done. The beast’s three heads remain. They dissolve in black mist, mixing together to creating a gruesome mask. The Mask of Remnant snatches Yukio’s monster, putting it in Umbra’s control.
Yukio Sets two cards facedown, finishing his turn.
MAYA’S TURN: She understands Yukio’s strategy. It all makes sense now. Let this be the killing move! “I activate my Set Nanosaur Invasion.” She banishes a card in her hand, letting three red, dragon-like Lizardon tear through dimensions. “And I overlay all of them to Xyz Summon Neo Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon!” The dinosaurs fly high above, merge in a place beyond space and time, allowing a bright blue dragon descend from the cosmic plane to the worldly.
“And I use its effect.” But the Xyz orbs from Umbra’s monsters vanish, not hers! In fact, her dragon absorbs them. “I absorbed 2 Materials, so I can attack 2 more times. You ready, Thing One and Thing Two? Galaxy-Eyes, break them to pieces!” Her dragon charges straight at Umbra’s only monster –
But Lumis acts quickly. He banishes his dead Kaiju Embryo, and before Maya knows it, her dragon vanishes, replaced by Lumis’ Gameciel. Maya’s disappointment is immense. The old sea turtle returned from the grave just to bother her.
Maya’s anger rises but she keeps it under check. “I Set two cards. You’re move.” She holds another risky strategy in store. She took one direct hit too many. Could she endure another one? Hopefully she won’t find out.
LUMIS’ TURN: “I pay 3 Kaiju Counters,” Three stars vanish from the top of the water tower behind him. “To add a Kaiju to my hand. I Summon Dogoran, the Mad Flame Kaiju.” A lizard burning its own flames emerges behind him.
Yukio points to huge monster in mock horror. “WOOK! IT’S GODZIWWA!”
Lumis chuckles. “You’re racist self-deprecating jokes won’t save you. Not in a million years, I tell you.
“I summon Graydle Cobra.” A new kind of creature joins the arsenal, a grey alien slime taking the form of a snake. “Gradyle Cobra, take out Gameciel.” The cobra clearly is no match for the sea turtle. It gets easily crushed. (Team Dynamic Duo LP 3000 à 1800) But there is a catch, as our heroes suspect. The alien slime does not die. It seizes the huge turtle, stretches around it until it wraps it all around. Possessed, the turtle joins Lumis’ side. “Now Dogoran, attack Maya!” The fire-breathing lizard fires a shot at her.
Yukio counters, “I play Quaking Mirror Force.” The desert sand of Egypt blocks the monsters’ assault as a wall, the overpowers them as a blanket, forcing them facedown.
Lumis Sets a card facedown; his greatest and final trap.
UMBRA’S TURN: “I play Pot of Avarice, shuffling 5 cards from my Grave to my Deck, and drawing 2. And I activate Fulfillment of the Contract.” Umbra loses 800 Life, reviving The Masked Beast. “I’ll make you pay for how you treated my partner! Strike Maya directly!”
The beast gathers all the hatred and sorrow of the world into a dense ball of black energy and blasts it as a beam straight for Maya’s chest. The attack meets her head on, driving her many feet back. She collapses, her burned back on the rough sand. The drills in her bomb collar drive themselves so deep in her neck they nearly paralyze her. (Team Baby Blast Furnace 4500 à 1300)
Yukio recovers from his drills and rushes to her aid. He grabs her in his arms, asking if she is okay. “You shouldn’t have been in this duel. You took too much damage before it even started.”
Maya laughs, joking, “I wouldn’t trade dueling with you for all the coked up Wall St. buttsex in the entire world.”
Yukio chuckles at her black humor. “I love you.”
Maya kisses him in return. “I wanted to get attacked, not just to show my love.” She tries to stand, failing. Yukio helps her up. She makes her way back to the field, wobbling a bit, but strong as ever, her smile truly wicked. “Get ready, Laurel and Hardy. This is your last slapstick. Go, Inferno Tempest!”
Umbra and Lumis gasp in horror as a hellish wildfire swamps everyone’s field, banishing every monster outside the Extra Deck. Maya’s Soul Absorption kicks into overdrive, gorging our heroes up to 20,000 Life!
“I-I set a…” Umbra can’t even finish his sentence.
YUKIO’S TURN: “Witness our power together! I play my greatest trap, Utopia Achieved!!” The team lost all their Life, all 20,000 points until only 10 points remained. “I can play any Utopia monster and attack ALL monsters outside my Extra Deck as Materials!” No less than 22 stars circle the arena before falling through a wormhole. Yukio’s greatest monster, Number S0: Utopic ZEXAL, bursts forth with 22,000 ATK!”
“Prepare yourself, Umbra! Lumis can’t defend you! Utopia, direct attack!” The space warrior flies at him, sword ready to strike the killing blow.
“I defend myself with Mask of Invincibility!” Umbra counters, his mask deflects the massive strike with its two open palms. “We’re safe!”
MAYA’S TURN: “Sure, but for how long?” Maya rejoins. “You’ll go for 22 whole turns without doing anything.” She strikes a predator’s gaze at Lumis. “How long can you last, shrimp?”
Lumis heats white in anger, a temple bulges dangerously on his bald head. But he feels fear, even in this state.
Maya continues, “As Yukio ends his turn, I bring back 3 banished Fish Styx!” Three large, prehistoric fish return. “I don’t draw this turn but during my Standby Phase I bring back 3 banished Dinosaur-Types to my hand. I overlay all three Fish Styx to Xyz Summon Nanosaur Infinity!” Her three fish disappear to reveal a small, fiery orange sentient raptor aiming its two large gums at the Ghouls. “I detach all 3 Materials to Summon my 3 Celestine Ptera from my hand.” The three great pterosaurs once more grace the field.
“And I overlay all of them to Xyz Summon Number 92: Heart-eartH Dragon!” Her monsters fly to their zenith, collapsing together, allowing a large silver dragon to descend. “I activate my trap, Nanosaur Invasion!” She banishes a card in her hand, bringing back 3 fiery, deadly Lizardon to her field. “I overlay 2 of them to Xyz Summon Galaxy-Eyes Full Armor Photon Dragon!” Her great dragon of the stars arrives, but Maya is far from done. She mercilessly continues her rapid evolution, Summoning Number 95: Galaxy-Eyes Dark Matter Dragon, advancing to the massive spider Number 84: Pain Gainer, finally to an even deadlier arachnid, “I Summon Number 77: The Seven Sins!”
Lumis shutters at the sight of such awesome creatures. Never does he feel so small and weak. If only they struck her one more time directly! One more time! But all “ifs” from the past are in vain.
Maya commands, “Monsters, attack!” God of dragons and god of spiders throw their blackest magic, blacker than any Dark Game.
Lumis shouts, “I activate Mask Catastrophe!” 7 cards float from the Ghouls’ Graveyards to the field: Curse of the Masked Beast, Masked Beast, Masked Beast Des Gardius, Mask of Savagery, Mask of Exhile, Mask of Dissipation, even Mask of Invincibility. “I banish every “Mask” card we have to destroy your whole field! Better yet, you can’t counter it!” All their masks fuse into one final mask, depicting a god of all evil, darkness, and chaos in the universe. The wicked mask bursts, shattering every card on our heroes’ fields; every monster, Spell, and Trap gone.
But a small hole in space-time remains on Maya’s field. “You destroyed Heart-eartH dragon, so I can bring it back!” The hole widens to a chasm, her dragon slithers back into play, now surrounded by innumerable stars above. “It gains 1000 ATK for every banished monster in this game!” The stars fall, merging into the godly dragon, making it grow until it dwarves the Egyptian Gods themselves. “90,000 ATK!”
Umbra is struck dumb at such a sight. “T-This can’t be r-real!” Seto Kaiba’s Obelisk the Tormentor, the strongest monster that ever defeated him, was puny in comparison. Lumis desperately cries for his mother to rescue him.
Victory sings through Maya’s entire body. Victory was hers and Yukio’s! But she pauses. Attacking would mean their deaths, wouldn’t it? Her outstretched arm begins to shake. Could she be a killer?
She steels her mind. She is not. Umbra and Lumis would die by their own hands, by the rules of their own twisted game, not hers. She shoots her arm to the sky, the general giving the final salute to her troops. “Heart-eartH Dragon, finish this duel!”
Her greatest monster strikes with its blackest power, blacker than any Dark Game, shattering the Ghouls apart.
Team Baby Blast Furnace: 510 || Team Dynamic Duo: 0
Maya let go. She would have fallen on the ground had Yukio not caught her. Umbra and Lumis recovered, running to each other for comfort. They snapped their bomb collars with ease, displaying their cowardice for the last time.
Yukio scoffed at their craven ways, “Some game of death his turned out to be.”
“Oh, it is!” A voice rang out, low, raspy, depraved.
The two Ghouls huddled together in fear. “Who is that?” Lumis called out, his voice close to trembling.
Our heroes witnessed a fiery shade gather into the form of a man they had never seen before; a large, monstrous, obese man fattened and callous over decades if not centuries of cruel indulgences.
The fiery shade of the man seemed to smirk. He lifted his right hand, putting his thumb down. Umbra screamed, his head inflating as a balloon, the final moments of his life filled with unbearable terror and agony. His head burst in a bloody shower, the large corpse brought to the ground.
Lumis screamed at the ghastly sight. The flaming projection of the fat man thrust his left thumb down. Lumis wailed for his mother in the last moments of his life before meeting the same wretched fate as his dear friend and partner. They would remain together in death forevermore. Our heroes couldn’t even scream. They froze numb witnessing such terror and cruelty.
The burning shadow of the fat man laughed at their foolishness and weakness. He said with finality, “War is a business. If the stock drops you cut your losses and plan the next investment. The wars of the world are but films in a theatre, you fools; the powerful of this world witness the deaths of infantry and generals the way you witness death on television. If Fate bestows you, dear foot soldiers, with her favors this day you may live to discover the true art of war.”
The man vanishes, leaving our heroes alone. Yukio didn’t know how to feel about Maya. He hated her for ending the duel but doubted he ever had the courage to act as she did. Maya didn’t know how to feel about anything. Only Sophia’s safety was clear to her.
The theatre of war around them died down. The smoke cleared, revealing the victors. The Saints, Stella, her crew, Hassan, his superior, and their soldiers all arrived.
“Thank God you are safe!” The Saints said to our heroes.
Yukio gave a fracture of a weary smile. “We had a rough day.” He was right. He and Maya suffered black bruises all over their body. Deranged, Maya called for Sophia one last time before fainting.
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