Yugioh Endgame: Duel 8 – Six Minutes in Hell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 7 – Skirting Shangri-La

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 6 – Cuadros y Compañeros

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maya becomes exhausted. “Whatever. Enough.”

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

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