The couple easily make their way up the tallest hill near them to see a majestic but joyless panorama as they stand unwisely near a precipice. Without the metaphysical mental projections known as Ka, they are mortal as the lowest mook.
“Why go here?” Asks a puzzled Yukio.
“I want to steal the view.” Maya answers. “Look at a granite palace or glass skyscraper. The pharaoh or executive within has great power and an even greater title, but he is caged by the walls of the very city that makes him so strong and important. I was trapped by the same walls when I was World Champion, a ‘Queen of Games’ in title only but really a slave of one game.”
“I agree; the pro dueling world sucked. Go on.” Yukio prods her.
Maya resumes, “We are domesticated animals like cows and pigs. A feral creature, a fox maybe, is not just free but sharper and stronger. It can leap in and out of the proverbial pen and steal anything it wants, even this view.”
“Is being feral the ideal?” Yukio asks, the philosophical side of him hoping for a good answer.
“Yes, and I mean ‘feral’ in an unbiased sense, as being a creature in the ‘wild’, not as a cow in a farm.” Maya says, “Maybe I should become a scaly, feathery, furry, flaming, queer of a dragon full time. I could free myself of every lame construct clouding my understanding of reality and of any dependency on others.”
Yukio casts doubt on these ideas. “You need to fight an opponent. It defines your existence. It was Matthew several years ago. Now, it is the High Mages. Then, it will be some bigshot like Yugi or Kaiba. Then, it will be some ‘secret boss’, maybe that Yifan woman. If there was no enemy to destroy, you would either destroy yourself or make humanity itself the next target.”
Maya barely raises her voice but just enough to cast the shadow of danger “I hope you can answer that riddle, because I thought about it for a long time, and I sure can’t.”
Yukio ignores the warning signs and presses on with assertions. “Speaking of ‘lame constructions’, you are a mother; you must care for our child. Who takes care of Narmer once you’ve achieved liberation? Never mind your sociopathic ramblings of eating your child; nobody will allow it, even if such an abomination was somehow perfectly reasonable.”
“Narmer’s babysitter certainly won’t be you. I don’t see you being a stay-at-home parent either.” Maya accuses her lover. “Like any other pussified leftist, you have enough critiques to write a book nobody will buy outside Williamsburg, but you are incapable of reaching solutions. I’m starting to think your sort are like housewives who must compulsively complain and gossip to somehow feel virtuous, either as a deep intellectual or oppressed victim. Poor you and Narmer, neglected by your brute ‘husband’ who has to work all day to secure the family’s future.”
Hit by the poisonous arrow, Yukio burns in anger. “If you did not abandon our son three years ago, if you were a responsible person with empathy and not a vile bitch thirsting for power and bloodshed, you might’ve had a point. You clearly don’t care about the people in this revolution we started. You want to show some philosophical point, or beat your adversaries in a game, or prove to yourself how amazing you are to deal with whatever issues you have. You’re ‘pragmatic’, because it makes you look strong and unbothered, it justifies dominating other people, and it excuses you from dealing with people’s vulnerabilities, yours included.”
Struck in the heart, deeply hurt, Maya retaliates. “You know nothing about the sacrifices I have to make. You will never know how heavy my heart was with sorrow when I had to leave our baby behind or how I shed so many tears they were getting on his eyes. Power and strength are all I have, but I will give it all away to save humanity from stupidly destroying itself. I have been nothing but misunderstood my entire life.”
Yukio paces back and forth, pulling his hair. Maya breathes heavily, suppressing her tears.
“Here we go again, here we go again.” Yukio sighs, “This always happens: we get hot and bothered without each other, we have sex to release the volcanic tension, then we have an ashstorm of an argument.”
“We got into a relationship at the heat of the moment before really knowing each other.” Maya dryly comments. “Narmer is the price we have paid for our mistake. I wanted a gentle and deep man to give me balance.”
“I wanted an outgoing and domineering woman to give me strength.” Yukio adds. “We thought we could compliment each other, but things may not work out like in When Harry Met Sally.”
Maya sits cross-legged on the dirt. She picks up a stone, looking at it carefully as if deciding whether to keep it or throw it. In the end, she throws it with a heavy heart.
She tells Yukio her decision, “Let’s try things out for one more year. We should do everything in our power to change. We’ll even use Mathias as a marriage counselor for all we know.”
“I believe he’s married.” Yukio alleges.
“That should help. If we can’t make it, we split, and,” Maya nearly renders in tears, grasping her chest as if doing so stops her crying. “And you can have Narmer.”
Yukio sits cross-legged next to Maya, and they lean on each other with closed eyes for a long time.
“So how was your date – I mean, Duel – with the High Mage?” Maya restarts the conversation with some mischief. “Pounding to death your first bad guy must have been a pretty big deal.”
Yukio recounts the entire ordeal from Arsenal Bug Squad to Orgoth the Relentless. And no, killing his first bad guy was not a big deal, since Anubisius was the kind of neckbeard he would punch in the face anyway.
“He had it easy.” Maya arrogantly snorts. “A high-ATK, beatdown idiot obsessed with preventing monster destruction is exactly the kind of opponent my Deck is designed to crush. I could have smashed his Deck so hard it would have broken in two.”
“That’s what she said.” Yukio snickers.
Maya clasps the back of her head, elbows stretched wide apart. “Speaking of giving up power, when everything is over, I will destroy all my cards and hopefully destroy the Yugioh game itself.”
Yukio is flabbergasted. “Destroying your cards? That is sacrilege! Think how it would hurt your duel monsters if not all duel monsters. Do you have no conscience? Would you not hear the cry of the souls of your servants?”
Incredulous at such talk, Maya brandishes her Sirens. “These creatures manage the fabric of eleven-dimensional spacetime. They are the Fates themselves, holding precedence over any god. Not even Zeus can change their decrees, let alone a brutish Nordic god like Thor or an invincible Egyptian god like Ra. Tearing up pieces of cardboard paper can’t hurt them.”
Yukio has nothing more to say. The blasphemer has a point.
“My ‘sacrilege’ concerns a larger point.” Maya explains, “Back in the day, the story molded the game, and the opponents were mirrors of each other’s hearts. Takashi and the screenwriters made the game reflect the characters and their conflicts, external and internal, the ‘battle of their souls’. Now, the cancerous game molds the story, and it’s crushed by a burdensome meta. Hopefully, I’m chemo Yugioh desperately needs.”
“That’s like a doctor curing a patient of his brain tumor by shooting him in the face.” Yukio remarks.
“Oh, well. A man can’t have a migraine if he’s dead.” Maya glibly asserts. “I honestly hope no one plays this stupid game ever again after all is said and done. More trouble than it’s worth.”
Maya turns Yukio’s head to face you and the rest of the audience. “Season Four is so big we must split it in two parts like with the last Harry Potter movie. We’re on the last page. Would you like to tell the readers how you feel about the story so far?”
“Excuse me, but I did not consent to this!” Yukio huffs, but he calms down when he sees this is Duel 28 and realizes Season Four is nowhere near done, then he offers criticism. “There is an awkward tone imbalance between pretentious political commentary and fourth-wall jokes. The High Mages are flat characters, really satires of various political viewpoints and obstacles the noble heroes must defeat to get the Millennium McGuffins. There is little character development: I’m still a morality pet, Mathias remains a cool uncle with nothing better to do, Kaiba stays constipated, Pegasus didn’t get any straighter, and Maya remains… a third-rate duelist with a fourth-rate deck.”
Maya glocks Yukio on the arm so hard the poor man limps away in pain, then she gives her take. “The author doesn’t understand the nuts and bolts of geopolitics very much, and I have no idea why [redacted anonymous] would put such garbage in a Yukio fanfic of all things. How does anyone go from wanting to write a cool fanfic to typing whatever this is? I would say ‘penning’, but it suggests a smug ‘literati’ or an introspective fool from two hundred years ago writing some novel, which is more cluelessly outdated than socialism. [Redacted] needs to think more about philosophy and transhumanism, specifically how technology, machine intelligence, and spacetime/virtual/dimension exploration can change the very nature of our species, but [redacted] must crunch out the remaining Seasons ASAP.”
“Perhaps we should put down the subjects of the next ‘book’.” Yukio suggests from a corner.
“Good idea.” Maya agrees. “We should do the following: develop me and Kaiba by forcing us to deal with our daddy issues, make Yukio deal with his mommy issues so he grows a pair, bring in more Saints (Mathias’ comrades for those who don’t know about Path of Virtue) and OG Yugioh characters, track Sofie’s evolution and conversely Yifan’s devolution, get me to more often fight Maria or whatever the Kisara expy’s name is, make something come out of Kaiba’s dimension exploration as long as it stays concise and doesn’t become Arc-V cancer.”
Yukio adds, “The ‘heavy’ subjects with philosophy or politics are fine indulgences, but ultimately character development is the most important part here. A balanced exploration of themes and character development work better in a ‘real’ book.”
“One last thing.” Maya concludes, “I will make a point how spiritual development is fit for individuals and not for societies. You can’t evolve or awaken humanity as a collective. The most you can do is burn a trail as a ‘spiritual leader’ and get people to follow a trend, but that trend ultimately becomes another dogma or institution. Humanity cannot follow you.”
That said, Yukio clasps the Millennium Key still hanging around his neck, channeling all his Ka into the object until it shatters. Two Millennium Items down, five more to go.