Duel 30 – Deal With the Devil
Threatened, Maya flipped the switch to her hotel room, revealing the intruder. “Xiaoyi! What are you doing here?” Maya exclaimed in shock.
“I’m here to give you an offer you can’t refuse.” Xiaoyi answered with a kind smile. “Please, sit down.”
Maya shut the door behind her, astonished. “You can’t be serious.” She said to herself. “You are the greater-scope villain after all, the one who secretly pulled the strings behind the entire tournament. Even I couldn’t count the number of plot holes in your scheme.”
“Well, Matthew did let the cat out of the bag. I should have chosen someone with more to lose, then he would be quiet.”
Maya pounced on Xiaoyi as a lion does on its prey, pinning the woman to the wall, chocking her so hard Maya bore marks on her fair skin with her nails. Xiaoyi did not flinch so much as blaze with bright light for an instant the way a Millennium Item does. The blow easily sent Maya across the room, crashing her against the wall so hard the wall cracked. Maya hung in mid air, petrified by the curse.
Xiaoyi hovered near Maya in a carefree manner, amused. “What a brave girl you are to challenge me, even after fathoming my powers. I understand my revelation and the trials I gave you were stressful, but touch me again and I will kill you in the blink of an eye.” And Xiaoyi let Maya down, who collapsed to the floor, doubling in pain, and opened the window, enjoying the spring breeze. “Shall we do business?”
Maya had no choice to admit she had to agree to Xiaoyi’s terms. She could not challenge Xioayi and she was sure Xiaoyi would incinerate her or something just as bad if she tried running away. “What do you want from me?”
“I want a partner. I want you to help me destroy civilization.”
“What?” Maya could not believe this. “I never took you for the anarcho-primitivist type. Why would you want to such a thing anyway? I want to know more about your involvement in Egypt. How did you manage to orchestrate the whole thing besides using dark magic Egyptian powers? You want me to be your partner, then tell me the truth!” But Maya knew she could not take anything Xiaoyi said at face value. That would be stupid in the extreme.
Xiaoyi sat on the bed, inviting Maya to the same. “First things first: I don’t think I need to tell you that democracy in America, or anywhere else, is a sham. Gernand de Laclose was the Executive Director of the one of branches of the World Bank Group. I was an employee before I promptly killed him, and took his place. Explaining how I climbed so high up the corporate ladder at such a young age involves a tedious history of lying and bribes I would rather not get into. I even make myself look far older when on the job because I doubt my ‘colleagues’ would trust a twenty-six your old with the world’s affairs.
“The World Bank can finance almost any country it wants. It ostensibly exists to aid developing countries and what have you. It is made of five subdivisions, each subdivision run by a board of directors, whose members agree on an action before it is passed. Getting what you want is not as difficult as you think despite such bureaucratic obstacles. Banks around the world put sticky fingers in each other’s pockets and get chummy with superpowers and mega corporations all the time. The rulers of mankind are many different people, but we all protect each others’ interests. It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it.”
Maya demanded, “I know how banks and big business work. Get to the point already.”
“Alright. kiddo.” Xiaoyi winked at her naïve pupil. “Gernand and me funded Heishin Mubarak through ostensibly funding the Egyptian government, and we even got some help from the CIA while at it too, which gave weapons to the Ghouls and Heishin’s army. I gave Heishin and Matthew some magic as icing on the cake. You killed them both, so I’m a bit low on peons.”
Maya skeptically raised an eyebrow. “I find that hard to believe. What was the point of it all?”
“I told Heishin about the Book of Isis, so he would waste his time finding a mystical artifact. Matthew just wanted to kill you, which was motivation enough, I guess. Either way, the MacGuffin itself isn’t that important; the point was test everyone to find a future partner. Whoever won the treasure hunt would be mine, and, since you found Egypt’s ultimate Easter Egg, you won. Congratulations!”
Xiaoyi gave Maya her outstretched hand. “Produce the Book for me. I know you have it. You wouldn’t dare leave it with anyone else, even your husband.”
Maya reluctantly handed Xiaoyi the great Book; there was no getting around her. Xiaoyi flipped through the razor thin emerald pages, delighted the Book revealed its secrets to her.
“Do you not know the history of this book?” Xiaoyi asked, and when Maya shook her head, Xiaoyi answered. “In legend, Isis herself wrote this book; the goddess was Egypt’s supreme magic user who even knew Ra’s secret name. Long after that, the great demon god Zorc influenced scribes to copy parts of the book to produce a secondhand volume, the Millennium Tome. Long after that, around the Amenhotep Dynasty, Akhenaten deciphered the Tome, using the knowledge he learned to create the Millennium Items. The rest is history.”
“So the Book of Isis tells you how to create Millennium Items, or recreate them.” Maya concluded.
“Indeed.” Xiaoyi pointed to what looked like footnote at the bottom of an emerald page. “Slay ninety-nine humans; smelt gold for seven days, adding the bodies of your victims into the recipe; create Millennium Items; profit. I learned almost all dark magic from Gernand, but with this Book I can complete my powers and teach them to you.”
Maya asked, “What makes you think I will say yes? Why would you want to destroy civilization? You are profiting from civilization very well.”
Xiaoyi gently sighed. “The same reason you are annoyed at being King of Games. I doubt you want to keep playing a boring children’s card game. You are all too aware how powerless you truly are in changing the world, how useless it is in trying to change the system while working within it; your cynical behavior during your career betrays the fact. And don’t give any of that I-marched-with-activist-groups-and-gave-donations crap. Your many comments, sparsed here and there over the years, reveal your disillusionment. You want to really change the world? Join me.”
“I decline.” Maya stated flatly. “I can manage on my own.”
But Xiaoyi would not relent. “Let’s play a game; not a shadow game, a normal trifling game. If you were president of the world, and you could implement any policies you wanted, what would you do?”
Maya took a while to think things through, then summarized her thoughts, “I would take away all the money and power I can away from big business and give it back to the American people. Big business will have to pay most of the taxes; money will go back to government services (the usual stuff like education, healthcare, roads et cetera), and welfare programs can slowly work to rebuild America’s middle class, and help pull people out of debt and poverty. Crooked bankers and CEO, like you Xiaoyi, would be jailed or executed for treason. Universities, prisons, and banks will no longer be privately owned.
“I know one hole in this plan. America and all first world nations have so much wealth because they plundered other parts of the world for centuries. Well, I imagine I can slowly undo that while fixing things at home. Once America becomes a good enough nation, we can slowly give back to third world countries by investing in them. We build their government and education and infrastructure and so on, and in turn they become our allies and partners. It will take a long time, but it could balance out the inequality.”
Xiaoyi listened to Maya in rapt attention, taking everything she said seriously. Xiaoyi said, “Very good. I used to think the same thing, but it won’t work. Here’s why: the vile CEOs will never give up their power without a violent revolution, and neither will the government because the two are one. Europe is no utopia, least of all because, at bottom, corporate masters still rule their servants; they sheathe their iron fist in a leather glove. Even if you have your way, your government will not last, because it will still be capitalism and a civilization, and both cannot last by their very nature.
“Look around you, Maya: the buildings, roads, cars, laptop, Internet, everything. We get it all by taking more resources from the earth than we can return. Once we run out of oil, coal, trees, and iron, the whole infrastructure will collapse. We dug ourselves into our graves; first by building the whole system on cheap fuel, then by meshing everything into one big system that draws all its powers from a few resources. The earth is the lifeblood to the whole system, but the earth is dying.
“It will take millennia to repair all the damage. We don’t have millennia, and even if we did, the masters of mankind would never do it. They would lose their power doing so, and they are so busy oppressing the rest of humanity to keep the system in check they would never have the time and energy anyway. Renewable resources won’t work, because they’re not efficient enough to replace old energy, and just making them burns ever more fuel to kill the planet. You’re scheme is noble, but it cannot work.”
Maya put her hands on head, shaking her head. She knew all of these uncomfortable facts but buried them for a long time, knowing they nullified almost everything she did. She suspected that liberal movements in the first world were a sham to some degree or another, but she stopped herself from knowing the full truth.
Still, Maya would not lose the game so easily. She forcefully said, “I don’t believe in your fatalist Decline of the West bullshit. We always have a choice when faced with challenges, and how we respond to them determines our future. Did you ever think how many millions – no, billions – of people would die if we carried out your scheme? You and me would be remembered as the vilest human beings in all of history, and justly so.”
Maya’s energetic rebuttal made Xiaoyi gently smirk; she had a lot of spunk! Xiaoyi persisted still, “I don’t care if you believe in Spengler or Toynbee; civilization will die no matter what we do. But we have a choice in how we can die. We can turn the crash into a gentle landing, but that would mean persuading the very people who will never listen to the likes of you. We orchestrate the crash and get it done over with in a few decades, stopping nuclear war while we are it. Or we can let everyone die from a long, agonizing decline, only to finished off by nukes. Are you so afraid of your reputation; to be a good guy even if everyone dies? The choice is yours.”
Xiaoyi clasped Maya’s with her own, and revealed one future to Maya: The earth prospers under Maya’s scheme. War and disease are no more, and all human beings rejoice. They develop machine technology more and more, merging with the machines into androids, then lose all physical bodies to live in a machine supercomputer in space that draws its nature from the sun. All human life from every era of history exists within this program, each human within his little universe. Twelve superhuman gods manage the entire matrix, but each thousand years the computer gets closer and closer to crashing. One day, it crashes within one seven thousandth of a second, and all human life is deleted.
Xiaoyi shows Maya another branch of time: Mankind prospers once more, as Yugioh is taken to its highest level. Momentum is created, a perpetual motion machine powering all of society, allowing a phenomenon called riding duels to exist. But power corrupts; and human beings once more become wicked. Momentum, becoming sentient over the centuries, manifests monsters in real life, embodiments of the evil within people’s hearts, using them to terrorize humanity. Later, Momentum reverses, and all human infrastructures implode. All life on the planet becomes extinct.
Xiaoyi reveals to Maya several more visions, all leading to the death of the human race. Then Xiaoyi reveals her last vision, a small extent of her power: A young woman bursts from the surface of a large river in a black forest, naked and clutching a fish in her hands. She tears off the fish’s flank and swallows it raw, before throwing it before a morbidly obese man. Later, that man, her master, is kidnapped, and the woman transforms into a huge, terrifying black dragon with fiery red eyes, with some reassures of a large bat. The dragon decimates an entire military base, recuing her master, before returning to human form. She promptly knocks the obese man out, quick to wipe out all his short term memory with magic so he would forget ever seeing her with such power, even giving a tiny morsel of it.
The two women returned to the humble hotel room. Maya fell to her knees, devastated, barely able to absorb all she saw. Xiaoyi’s spirit Ka was something Maya had never seen before or could even comprehend until now.
“Why?” Maya croaked in a coarse voice. She did not believe that Xiaoyi cared for humankind. Not one bit. She nonchalantly caused the deaths of thousands of Egyptians and tens of duelists, with the arrogance of a god. Why would she care now? Lastly, Maya asks, “What is your endgame?”
“I do because I can.” Xiaoyi stated, and then revealed to Maya her final plans.
Maya at last understood. Xiaoyi was insane. Yet Maya still insisting on challenging her enemy, despite that she witnessed her strength. Perhaps Maya always needed to thumb her nose at authority since childhood. “But why?”
Xiaoyi, irritated with such a stupid question, made what was perhaps the biggest mistake of her life. She said, “Do I need to give you more incentives? I cannot let you leave alive if you refuse to join me. I revealed too much. Know this: I have all the time in the world to find another partner, and I have other candidates around the world who can take your place. If you don’t join me, someone else will.”
Maya saw within Xiaoyi a deep darkness, not just Xiaoyi’s darkness, but her own, and the darkness of the entire human race. No one could stand against that darkness, unless Maya conquered the darkness from within. Maya or Sophia could only challenge Xiaoyi once they learned her secrets. Xiaoyi had indeed tested Maya well, but not in the way she thought.
“Yes.” Maya whispered softly, surrendering.
“I can’t hear you.”
“Yes.” Maya assented, louder this time. “I accept. I will join you.”
“Bravo!” Xiaoyi clapped her hands together; her dark murderous features instantly vanished, and she now seemed an innocent little girl. “Gernand and me spent over a decade preparing for our fateful day. I merely need to tweak a few little things and we’re all set. You, Maya, are the final piece to the figurative Millennium Puzzle. I could not be more proud of you.”
And she handed Maya a tiny note. “You will see coordinates to a location within Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Be there by next week, or I will find and kill you wherever you are. As I say once more, the choice is yours. Sweet dreams.” And she left the hotel room, leaving Maya stranded.
Maya reunited with Yukio and her baby boy at the end of the weekend. They spoke of how happy they would be, their plans together, a house they could one day buy, the day Narmer would walk for the first time, sending Narmer to school, attending parent-teacher conferences, paying for Narmer’s college, celebrating many Christmases to come together with Jolene, JC, and Sophia as family.
All this talk nearly made Maya weep in despair. None of it would ever come to pass. She would abandon everyone to save the human race from Xiaoyi, a devil in a woman’s body. There was no way she could make them understand, so she kept quiet. The couple spent their last day together at Central Park on May 23, celebrating Yukio’s twenty-fourth birthday, enjoying every moment in happiness. It was the best final gift Maya could ask for.
Past midnight, in that fateful morning, Maya quietly packed her bags, kissing Yukio one last time while he lay sleeping. Baby Narmer awoke, and so Maya cradled her son one last time, rocking him to sleep, singing to him the songs mother sang to her when she was a child. Once Narmer went to sleep, she laid him in his cradle, and kissed him one last time.
Sometime later, Maya visited Sophia’s hotel room in New York City, and told Sophia everything; all the coming darkness of night. Sophia remained skeptical at first, but when she say Maya cry she knew Maya was telling the truth. Maya offered her hand to Sophia. Only together could they defeat the darkness. Sophia accepted, and packed her bags. Together, the two women stole into the night.