Yugioh Endgame – Duel 21: Dragonynamite

Duel 21: Dragonynamite

Adam: 8000 | Maya: 8000

ADAM’S TURN: “It is my Standby Phase, so I get to use Underworld Circle. I Special Summon Update Jammer (ATK 2000)!His trickster computer hacker revives from the Graveyard. Now I activate Will of the Salamangreat (Continuous Spell)!” But his card instantly flips facedown instead. “What?”  

“Oh, right.” Maya laughs, pretending she forgot to explain The Hecate Sisters’ effects. “They’re powerful when together. Red makes monsters unable to attack or use their effects when they’re Summoned. Yellow shuts down any card effects outside the field. Violet makes us Set Spells and Traps then wait a turn before using them.” 

“COME ON! How can I play long tedious combos now!” Adam whines.

“You don’t.” Maya flatly states the fact. “You now have to think several turns ahead like in the good old days. I could have killed you in a fancy cool way last turn. Now I’ll force you to die in a slow boring way.” 

Adam starts whining more and more. Old school Yugioh is boring. Duels shouldn’t have to last twenty turns. They’re too many girls dueling now, and that’s annoying. Adam caps his spiel with the statement, “If only you would let me play my combo. I would summon the most powerful monster you ever saw in your life.”

This piques Maya’s interest. “Go on.” She insists.

“If you let me, I will Summon a monster with over 10,000 ATK.”

“Not impressed.”

“This turn, and it’s stronger than a god card.”

Maya rubs her chin, intrigued further, and she reaches a decision after some consideration. She stashes away the Hecate sister cards in her butt pocket, causing the monsters on her field to vanish. “You have one shot, one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment. Would you capture it or just let it slip?”

“WHAT!” Sofia blurts in exasperation. She infers that Maya refused to duel at full strength against the high mage Secmeton, most likely to keep things interesting, something that endangered her cause and everyone on her side. Still, Sofia can forgive her because it is a good strategy not to reveal your trump card. Now, Maya showed her trump card, and then she took it away! Even worse, she quoted Eminem lyrics!

Sofia screams in frustration like a lunatic, rattling the locks binding her until her ankles bleed. “GET ME OUT! GET ME OUT! GET ME OUT!”

“Say please.” Maya requests, making Sofia howl more.

“She has some serious repressed anger issues.” Adam shrewdly observed.

“You have no idea.” Maya says. “By the way, I decline to revive a monster with Underworld Circle, just to let you know.”

“Right.” Adam double checks his strategy. It is foolproof. “I activate Will of the Salamangreat to Special Summon Sunlight Wolf (ATK 1800) from the Graveyard.” His card flips faceup. It kindles a flame that soon grows and transforms into his monster. “I activate Foxy in my Graveyard; I discard a card and pop Will of the Salamangreat to revive itself.” And so his monster reappears with 1200 DEF. “And since I just discarded Salamangreat Salamandra, I use its effect to draw one card.” And he does so.

“I activate Foolish Burial (Spell) to mill Cyberse Magician. Here it goes! I network Sunlight Wolf, Update Jammer, and Foxy to Link Summon Firewall Dragon Darkfluid (ATK 3000)!!!” Adam’s monsters activate five out of the six arrows of the link portal. With the conditions fulfilled, the portal bursts open, and the great dragon of the future descends in a stunning awful display.

Then, Four orbs appear above it. “My dragon gets a counter for each card type of Cyberse monster in my Graveyard: Cyberse Magician, Cyberse Clock Dragon, Cyberse Quantum Dragon, Firewall eXceed Dragon. When I battle, Darkfluid gets 2500 ATK for each Counter, meaning it gains 10,000 ATK! Darkfluid, attack Maya directly!”

“You better have a plan to counter that attack.” Sofia growls, grumpy over Maya giving Adam a chance to beat her. “And I’m still stuck here, in case you haven’t noticed.”

Dragon Darkfluid launches its devastating power with Maya in the crosshairs (ATK 3000 → 13,000). Maya flips her Continuous Trap Card. “Zoma the Spirit, become my shield!” A ghastly monster that looks like an undead dragon of sorts protects Maya with its feeble 500 DEF. It easily dies from Darkfluid’s attack, which is the point. Zoma forms into a spectral may from the smoke of its remains.

“You killed my monster, so it comes back from the dead to take a bite out of you.” Maya says. “Time for your just desserts. Eat 26,000 damage!” The spectral maw comes right for Adam’s head.

Adam shouts in haste, “I remove a Counter! Darkfluid, protect me from Zoma’s effect!” One of the orbs shines so brightly it burns itself out, but it dissipates the vengeful spirit for good. “Not only that, my dragon can attack again. Darkfluid, attack Maya again (ATK 3000 → 10,500)!”

Maya grunts, annoyed, and Adam’s monster is preparing another assault much to her chagrin. “I activate Defense Draw (Trap)!” Darkfluid opens fire, but its attack bounces off a barrier around Maya, and Maya gets to draw a card. 

Adam has no choice. He ends his turn.

MAYA’S TURN: “I use Underworld Circle’s effect during the Standby Phase. Resurrect, Celestial Siren Atropon (ATK 0)!” The strange sea serpent-like creature arrives from the shadows. The screen on its front materializes an image of the face of a youthful woman with red hair, but her eyes are missing. 

Adam also uses Underworld Circle, bringing back Cyberse Clock Dragon (ATK 2500), a badly named creature with glowing blue sapphires embedded in its body. Adam smirks, confident his dragon could use its effect to intercept any attack directed against his ace monster, Dragon Darkfluid.  

It is an annoying monster, but Maya may have the solution. “I activate D.D.R. – Different Dimension Reincarnation (Equip Spell)! I discard a card to bring back my banished Archfiend Swordsqueen (ATK 2500) to the field!” The fiendishly beautiful swordswoman and queen of demons traverses through a portal to this dimension. 

“But she has the same attack as my Clockwork Dragon!” Adam protests, then he realizes that he is doomed.

“It will do. Swordsqueen, kamikaze on Clockwork Dragon!” Maya orders. Her monster, fearlessly obeying her master, clashes with her opponent. The monsters slay each other, leaving only Darkfluid left. “Atropon, attack Darkfluid and end this duel!!!” Atropon seizes control of the dragon, forcing it to attack her, which it does. She easily catches the erupting flames, all 10,500 damage, and strikes Adam with it.

Adam: 0 | Maya: 8000

Adam falls off the stage to the ground, knocked out from the force of attack. Maya throws her hands up as if expecting applause. “Who’s next? Any volunteers?”

“Could you please get me loose!” Sofia calls out. “I’ve been waiting for almost half an hour!”

Maya got so lost in the excitement of taking control of a crime syndicate she forgot the real reason she was here. Remembering Sofia, her brown cheeks flushing crimson for daring to forget her, she demands Pandora give her the key to the shackles. Pandora assents, and Maya frees Sofia at last.

Just when everyone things the party is over, a Ghoul decides to be Batman; he swoops down to the stage from above, his black cowl making him look like a menacing shadow. He challenges Maya to a duel, his voice made low and dangerous by the mic in his mask.

Maya cannot resist accepting. “A new of episode Jackass? Here I come!”

Maya: 8000 | Clarence: 8000

MAYA’S TURN: “I Normal Summon Jowgen the Spiritualist (ATK 200) and Set a card.” An Eastern monk hears the call for his presence, and he obeys. Thus does Maya end her turn.

Clarence is almost exasperated as Adam was. “Another antimeta stun monster? How can I make my turn last over 30 minutes now!”

“I don’t know, dude. Figure it out.”

CLARENCE’S TURN: Clarence jumps for joy. “Yes! I drew the right card! But first…” He ponders his move for a minute. “Got it! I Normal Summon Supreme King Dragon Darkwurm (ATK 1800), and I use its effect to add Supreme King Gate Zero from my Deck to my hand. Then, I activate Gate Zero (Scale 0) in my Pendulum Zone.” The first guardian of infinite spacetime flanks Clarence in a column on his right.

“I activate Card Destruction (Spell).” And so both players discard their hands and draw anew. “Next I activate Dark Hole (Spell)!” And so both player’s monsters are wiped out. “Then I activate Card of Sanctity (Spell).” And so both players draw until they have six cards. “Next, I activate Supreme King Gate Infinity (Scale 13) in my other Pendulum Zone.” The other guardian of infinite spacetime flanks Clarence in a column on his left.

With columns present, the roof above Clarence seems to glow, as if ready to open a new dimension. “Pendulum Summon! Go, Endymion, the Mighty Master of Magic (ATK 2800), Reflection of Endymion (ATK 1850), Magister of Endymion (ATK 1500), Timegazer Magician (ATK 1200)!” The dimension gate opens wide from column to column, and the parade of brilliant magicians spills through.

But Maya rains on that parade with a Trap Card. “Bottomless Trap Hole!” Every magician, except Timegazer Magician, falls into a gaping void. Clarence does not care too much. “I activate Monster Reborn (Spell) to Special Summon Astrograph Sorcerer (ATK 2500).” The steward of the Supreme King revives from the Graveyard.

“Now, Astrograph Sorcerer, use your effect! Banish Starving Venom Fusion Dragon, Clear Wing Synchro Dragon, Dark Rebellion Xyz Dragon, and Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon to Integrate Summon Supreme King Z-ARC (ATK 4000)!” A third column hits the field with light so strong it looks solid, bringing out a black dragon so huge only part of its hologram can manifest in the room.  

Maya worries if she will lose the duel. She calculates the total ATK of all monsters on the field and sighs in relief. She will survive but barely. Outwardly she is flippant, commenting, “The poor player struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Clarence declares his attacks. “Z-ARC, Astrograph, Timegazer, get her!” 

This will be a doozy. Maya braces herself. Z-ARCs attack hits hard, throwing her back to the wall. Astrograph and Timegazer pin her in place and strike her. She peels off the wall and falls to the floor (Maya LP 8000 → 300). 

“Oh my God, are you okay!” Sofia cries out.

Maya gets on her knees one short moment, rises to her feet during the next. “Just a sprained wrist. You know, the usual stuff when you play a card game.”

“The funniest thing is I have no fear right now.” Sofia says. “Yes, you’re staring down one of the scariest boss monsters in the game, but I know you’ll beat it. You’re too good for this game.”

Maya tightly clasps Sofia’s hand, feeling comfort from the warmth of her touch. “Thank you. I love you.”

Clarence ends his turn. “Let’s see you beat that, Maya!” He challenges.

MAYA’S TURN: Maya scoffs at Clarence’s arrogance. “A high ATK monster that can’t be destroyed by card effects is dirt common these days. I’ll dispatch it with ease. I Tribute Z-ARC and Astrograph Sorcerer to Special Summon Lava Golem (ATK 3000) to your field!” Clarence’s best monsters dissolve into lava, which clumps together to crudely form a new creature. 

Clarence did not see this coming. “I walked right into that one.”

“Sweetheart, your troubles are only starting.” Maya assures him. “I Set four cards facedown and activate Double Spell (Spell). I target two of the Spells you used last turn in your Graveyard: Monster Reborn and Card of Sanctity, and activate them. I Special Summon Celestial Siren Atropon (ATK 0) from the Graveyard and draw until I have six cards.” Her eerie eyeless monster revives, and she refills her hand. 

Clarence is briefly confused, wondering how Atropon ended up in the Graveyard in the first place. Then he remembers; he made her discard it with Card Destruction last turn.

Maya is all fired up now. Victory is in sight. “Let’s go! Atropon, attack Lava Golem!” The celestial siren catches the golem’s attack and reflects it back at Clarence, who jumps around the stage like a maniac, forgetting the fire is a hologram (Clarence LP 8000 → 5000). Leaving the Battle Phase, Maya activates Atropon’s effect, Special Summoning Celestial Siren Clothon (ATK 0) and Celestial Siren Lacheson (ATK 0) from her Deck.

“I overlay all three Celestial Sirens to Xyz Summon Blazedance Phoenix (ATK 3000)!” Three monsters burn together into one new entity. “I detach 1 Xyz Material to bounce a card back to your Deck and dish out 800 damage, and I’ll do this two more times.” Three Materials vanish. The phoenix dances three different ways. Lava Golem, Supreme King Gate Zero, and Supreme King Gate Infinity vanish from the field, and Clarence gets hit with more dancing fire (Clarence LP 5000 → 2600).

“Will I survive till next turn?” Clarence timidly asks, twitching.

Maya confirms his worst fear. “No chance. I move to my End Phase and activate Surprise Attack From Beyond (Quick-Play Spell). Phoenix, finish him!” The dancing bird swoops low, burns the opponent, and sweeps him off the stage.

Maya: 300 | Clarence: 0

“Now that was an epic victory, like in our duel, right Adam?” Maya sticks out her ear, only hearing a groan from the ground. Maya gives a hearty laugh. “I thought so.”   

Sofia also laughs, shaking her head. “F*ck you, Maya.”

“Who wants to be the next victim?” Maya offers. “Anyone?” 

Even the most vicious and courageous Ghouls decline the challenge.

“Very good.” Maya picks up Pandora’s hat and tosses it at Hassan. “I present you new recruits.”

Hassan fights within himself for a time, unsure if he could accept such vile criminals for his and Maya’s revolutionary cause. Yet being rebels, they are naturally the underdog, severely outnumbered. They can use all the help they can get. Finally, he concedes, speaking softly to Maya so only she could hear him. “You’d better have a method to your madness. I sometimes wonder who and what you’re really fighting for, honestly.”

Yugioh Endgame – Duel 20: Super Smash Bros. Burly Brawl

Maya is an excellent strategist. That is fair to say, at least from Maya’s biased point of view. She could make a convincing argument with her dueling record from the past three books. Regardless, she is no stranger to making careful plans. But improvising a scheme in the proverbial heat of battle? And pulling it through? Now that is a test of skill. So Maya comes up with a bold idea at this very moment, brilliant or stupid, that profoundly changes the future course of events.

Maya challenges Pandora to a duel. “If you win, you can have me and Sofia together, some nice double booty.” – The Ghouls laugh at her immature joke. – “But if I win, you give Sofia back and surrender leadership of the Ghouls to me.”

Pandora, angry at losing his captive despite winning the last game, is too eager for compensation. “I accept. I need more than compensatory damages.” He orders Clarence to turn off the buzzsaws and unshackle him, but not poor Sofia, letting his ankles breath again. He silently speaks to his heart, “I’m getting too old for this. Maybe I should hang my oversized hat.”

Maya: 8000 | Pandora: 8000

MAYA’S TURN: “You know the etiquette; for there is honor even among thieves. Challenger goes first.” Maya this begins. “I Normal Summon Inspector Boarder (ATK 2000) and Set a card.” Her futuristic surfboarding policeman appears with a facedown card behind him for protection.

PANDORA’S TURN: “Running antimeta tech as usual, Maya? We Ghouls play outside the metagame.”

Maya disagrees. “No. You are the metagame.”

“I doubt that.” Pandora counters. “I activate Graceful Charity (Spell). I draw three cards and discard two. Next, Dark Magic Veil (Spell). I pay 1000 Life to Special Summon Dark Magician (ATK 2500) from my Graveyard!” The iconic sorcerer appears in the sinister red and brown version. I Set four cards and activate Card of Sanctity (Spell)!”

Maya springs her Continuous Trap. “I activate Final Attack Orders. Congratulations, you played yourself.” 

Pandora has no idea what Maya is talking about, so she explains everything. “My version of Final Attack Orders is a very old edition before it got nerfed. We keep only three cards from our Deck but mill everything else. Your Card of Sanctity is also old edition. You must draw six cards but have only three cards in your Deck, so you Deck Out. You lose.”

Sofia stares dumbfoundead like Neo from the Matrix does in that one meme. “Woah.”  

Maya: 8000 | Pandora: DECK OUT

“Unbelievable!” Pandora cries, falling to his knees. “How could you use such broken cards! That’s cheap!”

“I’m not screwing around but playing to win. You made me do this by chaining up Sofia for your cheap theatrics.” Maya says. “I think it’s time you hung your oversized hat. You’ll be happier under my leadership. I promise.”

Pandora casts his hat to her, sighing in relief. His servants, the Ghouls, violently reject the change in authority. They demand for a champion among them to rise and kill the usurper. Hassan and his militia try beating the Ghouls into submission, but the more tightly his forces squeeze around them the more rebellious they become.

A Ghoul jumps onto the stage, challenging Maya to a duel, which Maya happily accepts.

Maya: 8000 | Ghoul: 8000

GHOUL’S TURN: “I activate Pot of Greed (Spell)!” He announces, his voice deepened by a mic in his fearful mask. “Let me carefully explain what the effect of this card. IT can be activated only during your Main Phase. The player who activated this card must take the card from the top of their Deck and add it to their hand, and then immediately take the card from the top of their Deck and add it to their hand again. Then, I must place this card in the Graveyard.”

“Will you do this for every card you play?” Maya asks, clearly vexed.

The Ghoul gives a tentative cheeky answer. “Maybe?”

“Hassan, kill him.”

The Ghoul panics, fearing Hassan would blindly obey Maya because that is what he would do if Pandora told him to do something. “Okay! Okay! I’ll stop! Geez! By the ghosts of all the characters killed by George R.R. Martin, this mask is stifling!” He takes it off, revealing a pale face with blond hair on top. “I’m Adam. Nice to meet you.”

“I hope you don’t ruin this duel.” Maya warns him.

“I’m already ruining it, for you at least. Anyway,” He continues, his true voice a high-pitched nasal squeak. “I Normal Summon Babablazar (ATK 600), and use its effect to Special Summon Salamangreat Gazelle (ATK 1500) from my hand, and then I use its effect to mill a ‘Salamangreat’ card.” A fireball spirit and a fiery gazelle light the field with their presence. They seem to be made of blazing metal as if an alchemist forged them a minute ago.

Pandora had his migraines during the last duel. Now it is Maya’s turn to suffer. “By the Egytpian gods, you’re running a meta deck.” Maya sighs. “You’re already ruining this duel.”

Adam ignores her. “I network Babablazar and Gazelle to Link Summon Salamangreat Sunlight Wolf (ATK 1800)!” A blazing werewolf forged by alchemy jumps from the link network. “Now I discard Salamangreat Spinny from my hand to power up my Wolf’s ATK from 1800 to 2300. This triggers the effect of my second Salamangreat Gazelle, so I Special Summon it from my hand (ATK 1500)! And that triggers its effect, so I mill Salamangreat Falco. Then, I use its effect to Set the card I milled earlier. Finally, I activate Spinny in my Graveyard to Special Summon it.”

The product of this complex chain reaction is a small field presence, an armadillo and another gazelle. Maya looks at her wrist impatiently. “I don’t have a watch but I’m still looking at it.” She comments.

“You must be old!” Adam gawks as if he never saw a watch before. “What are you, a millennial? In this century, people check the time with iPhones.”  

“You said something about how no girl ever dated you? I wasn’t listening.”

“Original.” Adam snorts before continuing. “I overlay Spinny and Gazelle to Xyz Summon Salamangreat Miragestallio (ATK 1800)!” A stallion made of blazing iron gallops through the overlay network into this dimension. “I detach an Xyz Material to use its Effect. I Special Summon Salamangreat Foxy (1200 DEF)! Then, I Set a card.” He ends his turn with another monster, this time a fox, and an extra backrow card.

MAYA’S TURN: Maya studies the situation. Adam made a pretty standard play regarding the Salamangreat archetype. He set up a decent field and his backrow card was most likely… of course. Maya begins, “I activate -”

“Oh, one more thing!” Adam points out. “The rules changed a bit a week ago. You can Extra Summon monsters of each card type – like Fusion, Ritual, and so on – once per turn. You can fill the field with a diverse army of Extra Deck monsters like before, but you can’t spam with Link Monsters anymore.”  

“I guarantee people have found a way around it, but thanks for the tip.” Maya says, conceding gratitude. She already knows about the rule change but Adam’s thoughtful gesture is what counts.

“No problem! You’re gonna’ need it!” Adam beams, chipper as a puppy.

“I activate Soul Exchange (Spell)!”

“And I negate with Salamangreat Roar (Trap)!” Adam counters. His Sunlight Wolf vomits fire at Maya’s card, negating its effect and destroying it.

Maya shrugs it off. “No problem. Time for plan B. I Normal Summon Seven-Armed Fiend (ATK 650), and mill a Fiend from my Deck to use its Effect.” A hairy beastly devil emerges, a creature with six arms, and its head is even shaped like a hand. The monster decreases its ATK to zero and Special Summons two sentient forearms, the “Arm Fiend Tokens” (ATK 0). “I network Seven-Armed Fiend and its tokens to Link Summon Diabolus Ex Machina (ATK 0)!” The fiends dissolve and reconfigure into abstract sphere of black metal shards.

“Now for the wallop. I activate Underworld Circle (Continuous Spell)!” A barrier spins into place around the duelists and shrouding the field with a dark aura. All monsters on the field vanish in ghostly smoke, sent to the Graveyard, while monsters in both player’s Decks are banished. Diabolus Ex Machina, however, reconfigures. Maya pays the small price of banishing ten cards from her Deck facedown.

“Deus Ex Machina, attack directly!” Maya commands. “The black metal shards reveal themselves to be a swarm of tiny machines. They come together, creating a mosaic of the Devil’s face, for they are Legion. The face vomits fire and brimstone in the form of countless little machines, revealing its true power, its ATK skyrocketing to 9200!

Adam is done for – but he has a card ready. “I activate Extra Blowback (Trap)!” He sends five monsters from his Extra Deck to the Graveyard. Their spirits turn into parts of a mirror and, combined together, they reflect the attack back on the attacking fiend. The creature reels back and vanishes but is not destroyed. Maya returns it to the Extra Deck, disappointed but unfazed.

“So I’ll have to kill you the boring way. Time for plan C.” She says. “I set two cards facedown.”

As she ends her turn, three witches appear through a haze of green smoke: one an old hag in red, the other a large plump doyenne in yellow, and a seductive colleen in violet. Maya explains, “I can Special Summon these banished monsters in my End Phase: Red Hecate (1500 ATK), Yellow Hecate (ATK 1500), and Violet Hecate (ATK 1500), but I can’t draw next turn.”

“Do you have a plan D, E, F, all the way to Z?” Adam asks.

“No. What you see is what you get.” Maya assures him, but Adam does not believe her.

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 19 – Fish Styx

Sofia: 2900 || Pandora: 1200 

“If I go down, I’m taking you with me!” Sofia snaps, desperate, “I activate Crackdown (Continuous Trap) to take control of Dark Magician of Chaos!” A rope springs from her card, seizing the strongest of magicians, dragging him into the line of fire. Sofia loses her entire field and hand, all banished, but Pandora suffers too; he now only has four monsters.

Pandora wags his finger. “The last vengeful act of a loser. How pathetic! Now I Fusion Summon my ultimate wizard, Quintet -” He realizes he cannot. “Oh.”

Sofia hates smug people but cannot help being smug herself at the moment. “Quintet Force doesn’t give you Quintet Magician until after the card resolves, but now you lack the five Spellcasters needed to Fusion Summon it. I knew from the first turn, watching you swarm the field with Dark Magicians and Dark Magician Girls, that you probably had Quintet Force. Not only that, I activate N.D. Traveler in the Banished Zone, letting me Special Summon it (DEF 1300)!” Her cyborg goldfinch appears.

“Oh no!” Pandora shouts as if in the 4Kids dub.

“Oh yes!” Sofia thrusts her fist in the air. “Damn does it feel good being the guile hero!”

A vindictive Pandora points to the field. “Oh yeah!? I have four monsters; you have one! You lose! Dark Magician, attack!” And his monster gets ready to strike.

Sofia begins her counter attack. “My monster came back from the future not just to look cute. I return it and all my banished Dinosaurs back to the Deck to Fusion Summon N. Raptor MaXI – Britannia (ATK 2700)!” A large, bottom-heavy dinosaur with many different colored spots makes its crash landing, threatening to destroy all of Pandora’s monsters with the force of its impact.

“I banish Quintet Force from my Graveyard!” Pandora creates a blue-tinged magic force field, saving his monsters from a messy demise. “No servant of mine gets crushed, kicked, eaten, or pooped out by a goddamn yoshi!”

“My monsters are not yoshis!” Sofia waxes indignant. “They’re an original concept!”

Pandora scoffs, raising an eyebrow beneath his mask. “They eat things with unrealistically long tongues, they poop spotted eggs, and they come in so many colors they’re probably queer. Not that there’s anything wrong with being gay, bi, trans, poly, demi, semi, pan, whatever.”

Sofia’s cheeks become crimson. “Are you saying I’m bi?” The paranoid tone of her voice says, “How do you know?” She likes Jolene after all and even shares the same bed with her.

A Ghoul volunteers to break the awkward silence. “I main Yoshi in Smash Bros.” He comments.

“That’s why you suck, bro.” Another Ghoul says.

“Don’t hate, you Fox-maining-no-items-Final-Destination-only tourneyfag!” Retorts the first Ghoul, and the two fiends get into an argument. 

“Fantastic.” Pandora dryly complains. “Anyway, I overlay Dark Magician and Magician of Dark Illusion to Xyz Summon  Number 11: Big Eye (ATK 2700) and detach 1 Material to take control of Brittania.” Two Spellcasters make way for a new one, a nontraditional kind, a big upside-down cone with an eye. This odd creature entrances the enemy monster with its huge evil eye, forcing it to switch sides.   

“Come on! COME ON!” Sofia protests in exasperation. Just after she barely reclaimed control, she loses it again. She turns to me, the author, pleading, “Could you please give me a Heart of the Cards moment? Pretty please?” She tries making puppy dog eyes but fails miserably.

“No.” I say. “You’re not Yugi. If your Deck isn’t consistent enough, that’s your problem.”

Pandora is utterly bewildered. “Who are you talking to? Did the Duel make you crazy?” He suddenly beams with approval. “If it did, hop right in the audience! Now you’re one of us!”

Sofia, despite her deflated self-esteem, remains resilient, pushing onward. 

SOFIA’S TURN: “Okay. Finally my turn. I set a card facedown. I don’t care if I lose. I just want to make your victory hard.”

Such tenacity leaves Pandora unimpressed. “How quaint.”

PANDORA’S TURN: “Magicians, attack!” He commands, eager to finish the Duel. He does not betray it, but he feels exhausted, which is a near constant state of being for anyone past thirty.

Sofia, who is not even twenty, easily fights on despite her self-doubt. “I activate Soul Leveler (Trap)!” A dense cloud of specters appear to drain half of Sofia’s life, then raid Pandora’s field, forcefully dragging his monsters to the Graveyard. (Sofia LP 2900 → 1450)

Pandora briefly puts his fingers beneath his ask to squeeze the place between his eyes. This girl is giving him a migraine. How does Maya handle her? “I set a card facedown and end my turn.”

SOFIA’S TURN: Excellent! Sofia draws a good card. “I Normal Summon Kleinekarnosaur (ATK 500) and pop it to search another Dinosaur.” The vicious little t-rex barely appears before eating itself in a gruesome but fascinating display of gluttony and rapaciousness. Sofia adds a Dinosaur from her Deck to hand. “And I banish two Dinosaurs from my Graveyard to Special Summon Ultimate Conductor Tyranno (ATK 3000)!” The massive predator, brimming with a sickly dark energy, nearly takes up the whole stage. 

“Stop right there!” Pandora orders, as if afraid Sofia will declare an attack. – The window for using his Trap Card is small indeed. – “I activate Shadow Balance (Trap)!” A huge scale takes over the whole field, except the scale is alive with jaws for balances. Pandora’s side is empty, lighter than a feather, but Sofia’s side weighs heavy with a monster. The jaw underneath the dinosaur clamps shut, like the mouth of a Venus fly trap, swallowing its prey.

“Oh…” Sofia stops in her tracks. “Shinosaurus.” 

“I’ll enjoy licking your saltosaurus tears.” Pandora promises her.

“Ew, gross.” Sofia recoils. “Is this harassment? I think it’s harassment.” Jolene will definately think this is harassment. Sofia turns to the audience of Ghouls. “Do you think this harassment?” Actually, Sofia just being here is harassment. “Oh, gobisaurus! STRANGER DANGER! STRANGER DANGER!” 

PANDORA’S TURN: “I activate Wizard’s Mirror (Spell)!”

“It’s like Dragon’s Mirror but for Spellcasters, right?” Sofia correctly guesses.

“Yes.” Pandora confirms. “That is quite obvious. I banish five Spellcasters from my Graveyard to finally Fusion Summon Quintet Magician (ATK 4500)!” A tall dimensional magic mirror appears behind him, releasing the great wizard within as if freeing it from a prison. The monster itself is constantly surrounded by five hexagram circles. “Quintet Magician, attack!” All five hexagrams hit Sofia squarely in the torso. (Sofia LP 1450 → 0) 

Sofia: 0 || Pandora: 1200 

The Ghouls cheer wildly at the victory of their leader, and in such a close game too! Pandora can finally relax, basking in the applause. The Ghouls even applauded to Sofia, eager to give her a fine farewell before she gets butchered by the buzzsaw now swerving towards her ankles. 

“Well that checks out.” Sofia remarks. She tightly shuts her eyes, puts her hands over them anyway, and starts singing, trying to make light of a dark situation. Guess she’ll have to replace her feet with a flipper.

“So long and thanks for all the fish.
So sad that it should come to this.

We tried to warn you all but, oh, dear.
You may not share our intellect,
Which might explain your disrespect
For all the natural wonders that grow around you.
So long, so long and thanks for all the fish.”

The doors burst open as Maya barges in, her eyes blazing red, with a blast of fire so strong the whole wall breaks down. The Ghouls flee in terror, except for the two of them still arguing about Smash Bros., but keep smacking onto the three remaining walls like flies trying to exit a glass window. 

“Ce que les flambeaux!” Pandora is too flabbergasted to speak English.

The buzzsaw cuts part of Sofia’s ankle but Maya comes to the rescue before it can do any more damage. She catches the thing with her hands and tears it away from the wall. She is superpowered enough at the moment to do so but not strong enough to avoid getting her palms cut. 

Maya urgently clasps Sofia’s shoulders. “By the Egyptian Gods, are you okay! Tell me where the bad man touched you!”

Sofia hugs Maya tightly, her sadness at disappointing her friend far greater than any fear for her life. “I’m sorry I failed you. I tried my best.”

Maya strokes Sofia’s hair, whispering soothing words for her. “Criminals, like the Ghouls, are AIDS. They keep adapting and coming back. There’s no shame in being caught off guard, but you must remain alert in the future.”

Sofia nods, secretly wiping her eyes. She will not dare show Maya her tears. “That’s a weird way to console someone, but fine. I promise.”

“Que fais-tu ici, folle salope noire!” Pandora shouts from behind her. “She is my spoils of war!” 

Maya turns to face Pandora. She has exhausted her Ka searching for Sofia, so she makes it recede, her eyes returning to their natural dark brown color and her body no longer stronger than anyone else’s. Otherwise, the strain on her body will be too great. Now, she will have to fight with – cards? Yes. Unbelievable.

Red Dragon Decks Before They Were Cool

My final attempt at making the best Forbidden Memories Deck without cheats:

Red Nova
Monsters:
3x Meteor B. Dragon
3x Blue-Eyes White Dragon
3x Metalzoa
3x Skull Knight
3x Zoa

Equip Spells:
3x Megamorph
3x Bright Castle
3x Dragon Treasure
3x Dark Energy 
3x Malevolent Nuzzler
3x Violet Crystal

Normal Spells:
3x Raigeki
1x Dark Hole

Traps:
3x Widespread Ruin

The primary attackers of this Deck are Meteor B. Dragon and Blue-Eyes White Dragon, both of which have the Sun to counter the Moon of Gate Guardian. Metalzoa, Skull Knight, and Zoa are secondary attackers. Skull Knight and Zoa are very important since it has Mercury to counter the Sun of Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon.

The Equip Spells exist to power up the two “classes” of monster in this Deck: bright fiery dragons and brutish creatures of darkness. All three of my weaker monsters (Metalzoa, Skull Knight, Zoa) can be powered up by the same Equip Spells. Meteor B. Dragon and Blue-Eyes White Dragon don’t have as many options but they don’t need as many Equip Spells to become strong enough to challenge a Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon.

Widespread Ruin has many uses. It is a good first move to buy you some time. You can protect yourself later in the game from a Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon or Gate Guardian in the event your opponent draws them. By having only 15 monsters, I trim my Deck of redundant monsters and enjoy Widespread Ruin while being consistent.

Raigeki is staple while Dark Hole can also get rid of your opponent’s back row.

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 16 – Serpents Thrive, Fear Remains Alive

The Valley of the Kings burns under the heat of the midday sun, so hot and dry Hassan Mubarak nearly has his backside burn and fuse with the seat of his army jeep. The current Egyptian President cannot find much romantic mystery in the desert he governs. The bright light above him seems to disinfect everything to the point of making the land sterile, like it broke through every tomb and burned all the mummies and ancient relics to ash. If the past, with its remains of an old world, are a kind of vampire sucking the life of the living – then the vampire should die? He has the weirdest deja vu right now for some reason.

Hassan sees a merciful large white tend and unsticks himself from the seat with his advisor, Simon Al-Mufti. He sees two familiar woman as he enters the tent, the first garnished in white clothes and large sunglasses, and the second in old blue jeans and a flat cap. Simon scratches his head in visible confusion.

“Why are you dressed like a discount Kim Kardashian?” Hassan addresses the woman in white.

“One: it’s hot. Two: I’m hot.” Maya quips in a facetious manner. 

“Fascinating.” Hassan remarks as he takes a seat near the two women. Knowing who they are and having their goals in mind, he can make an educated guess on what they’re after. “I’m assuming you want my help in taking out a high mage, perhaps Anubisius since he rules over the Middle East. I don’t know if I can do it for reasons you should know.”

Maya nods, admitting the fact, and gives her modest proposal. “I’m aware of the messy relationships in the Middle East. It’s like a love dodecahedron. America-sempai loves Israel-chan and Saudi Arabia-chan. The two are frenemies; Israel-kun has a decent friendship with Egypt-kun as of late but Saudia Arabia-kun has soured feelings for Egypt-kun for reasons more tedious than card games. TL;DR Egypt-kun has declined, become dependant on foreign support, and won’t give land Saudia Arabia-kun feels entitled to.” 

“You don’t need to explain it to me. If your complexion was lighter than mine I’d accuse you of white-splaining.” Hassan reminds her. “Egypt is so weak already I would rather die than make another humiliating concession.” 

“It’s not for you but for the audience. Not everyone knows. And,” Maya adds. “Turn that frown upside down. You can beat Anubisius and level the playing field. – By the way, Kim Kardashian was delicious. Maybe she lives in me to some extent.”  

Hassan is incredulous, but a part of him remains hopeful. Subtly reminded that Maya has superhuman powers, he still must test Maya to see if his hope can manifest into something real or if it is merely a cruel trick. “Let me take you and your prodigy on a tour of this ancient land free of charge. I would rather show my argument than tell it.”

He takes his guests beyond the Valley of the Kings, following a large truck heading on its way from Cairo to a nearby village by the Nile, now grown into a refugee camp. It is only one of many along the river bank, each giving asylum to about a thousand people. It is a very different place than what Maya and Sofia remembered from three years earlier: very crowded and dirty, crafted brick houses overshadowed by a large patchwork of makeshift tents, the river cluttered with waste.

The truck stops and the drivers unload crates containing water, toiletries, canned food, used clothes, frozen vegetables, and emergency aid kits, with Hassan directing a team of his army on how to distribute the crates and to whom. The party sees an old woman trying her best to wash her clothes in the Nile. Men on a nearby farm are forced to bury a large pile of human waste in the soil, trying to make the best use by making it fertilizer. Maya, always sensitive to smells, covers her face. Sofia, whose smelling is even more acute, gets watery eyes.  

Hassan gestures to the tent city-village. “Our world is like a pyramid now. Anubisius builds new palaces in Saudi Arabia, Momentum giving him all the energy he needs. The surrounding states are not so lucky. I depend on Saudia Arabia to keep my nation’s cities floating while I do what I can to help my unhappy people. How can I muster the strength to help you. Even your strength has limits.”     

Sofia tugs at Maya’s sleeve as if her teacher is her mother too. “Promise me that we will see the people in the tent city. We must know the faces of the people we are fighting for. We cannot have a revolution with an abstract mass like ‘the proletariat’.”

Maya nods sagaciously, then says, “You are so much wiser and stronger than me, Sofia. If only you believed it.”

As the women were about to go, Hassan asks Maya, “Why dress as Kim Kardashian in a place like this? You don’t look like a hero of the common man at all. Honestly, you look like a jerk.” 

“That’s the point. I am not. Look at me, Hassan.” Maya grabs his shoulders, looking him in the eye. “I am a black magician who sold my soul to the Devil to gain my powers. I can transform into a dragon and do other dark arts. I do all the good I can but only so much can be achieved through evil means. I have so much blood on my hands the Nile would fail to wash it away; it would merely turn my claws from red to green.”

She puts Hassan’s hand on Sofia’s shoulder. “I will help you create a new world but it is not a world where I will be welcome. Having me as a leader would be demeaning to the people of this planet. Worthy people like you two are the ones who must lead the people to make a better world.” 

Hassan’s suspicions remain. “Love for ‘the proletariat’ doesn’t drive you. Hatred of the ruling class does. If you truly served the people, you would act differently. A person like you, with your immense power, will always make me wary. Maybe there are things you’re not telling me. Well, Maya?”

“You can squint at me hoping to find a hidden agenda all you want, but you must take me for my word if you want Anubisius’ head on your wall.” Maya says. “I will tell you now that I have no secrets.”

With that finished, the three of them go through the tent city. They watch several children play with a ragged soccer ball nearby. A lone man on a small boat struggles to fish. A husband, wife, girl, and scabby little boy eat small portions of lunch in a tent. The 1 liter water bottle beside them is their only ration for hydration. The family beckons Maya and Sofia to come share in some of the lunch, much to their surprise. The two women refuse to eat, daring not to waste the family’s precious food, until the wife pressures them into taking a bite. Even then, they take only a small nibble.

Husband and wife try to have a conversation with Maya and Sofia – even the little girl joins in – but the two women cannot reply since they don’t know how to speak Masry. That Masry was the maiden name of Maya’s mother; that coincidence does not escape her attention. Hassan, kneeling from outside the tent, explains Maya: “They used to own a shop in Cairo before being forced out here. The daughter once went to a private school and wants nothing more than to go back there. The son has a skin rash because of the poor sanitation.”   

Sofia nudged Maya on shoulder. “You don’t know the names of any displaced person but you know the names of the high mages you’re about to kill. Don’t you think that’s funny?”

“A delicious irony in this tragicomedy.” Maya says.

Sofia clarifies it is not what she means by “funny”. Maya replies, “I understand, but you don’t either. This is exactly why I said I was unworthy. I’m not really a fighter for the people. We’re really third party allies who cut off the heads of the monster tormenting them. It is up to them – as it should be – to build fair and just societies. But – and you really must understand this, Sofia – we ultimately serve a different agenda.”

The husband asks Hassan what Maya just said. Hassan, being tactful, simply tells them they are the warriors who defeated one of the high mages. Sofia asks him the names of the family members. Hassan tells her: the husband is Malik, the woman is Turas, the girl is Najima, the boy is Waleed. He orders a soldier to give him a crate. Hassan, Maya, and Sofia take out all the contents and give it to the family, who dearly thanks them for the medicine therein. Turas kisses the three of them and Malik shakes their hands. Najima and Waleed wave goodbye. 

The name of the husband gives Maya an idea, so it sets her thinking. The party of three stops at a far less wholesome sigh. A wasted man with a patchy beard injects a drug in his vein with a needle, resting his back against a rock. Maya says, “Not to have a Dora the Explorer moment, Sofia, but do YOU know where the man’s heroin comes from?”

Plantaciones de amapola en Afganistán. Poppy Plantations in Afghanistan.” Sofia says with no enthusiasm.”

“And do YOU know who owns private plantations in Afghanistan but spends most of his time elsewhere?” Maya prods further.

Sofia does not bother to speak, the answer being so obvious. Hassan speaks for her instead. “If we are going to attack Anubisius, we need more forces. Egypt’s army is not enough.”

And he is right, as Maya admits. They need a cohesive network of fighters. But who? Maya and Sofia part ways with Hassan, setting out to camp near the tent city. Maya creates a fire to warm up some tea while Sofia plays with sticks on the sand, getting promptly hit on the head with a ball from one of the children. Sofia tells the children they should be with their parents, but they do not understand her, so she throws the ball far away at the tents, the children running after it.

“This is a Yugioh fanfic, by the way.” Sofia reminds Maya and the audience. “When are we going to duel? People are getting bored. Political commentary is boring.”

“Be good and I’ll get you a duel. If you’re bad, I’ll publish a socialist manifesto and make everyone read it.” Maya says while looking at the flames as they fly above the campfire into the starry sky.

Sofia closes the tent and goes to sleep, Maya soon following her.  

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 15 – Everybody Wants Poppy

Anubisius cannot help but pace restlessly in his vacation manor, occupied with the defeat of Secmeton from several months ago, stopping every once in a while to glance at the rich purple fields surrounding him. What if he is next? The poppy plantation his manor oversees in the Goston valley, more specifically the wealth it represents, gives him small comfort. He tightly clutches the Millennium Key hanging round his neck as if asking the artifact to protect him with its magic. 

But the poor wealthy man need not brood alone. A large helicopter blows over the poppy field, out of which steps out Pegasus. Yifan arrives on horseback wearing a cream pink skirt, looking like a little princess, which makes Anubisius scoff, while Kepura arrives in a black limousine. Anubisius puts on the bravest face he can as he goes out to greet the guests, inviting them to his palace. He calls on servants to set up small round table and soon thereafter everyone sits down to have a tea party. 

Yifan notices the anxiety of her host as it shows on his features: his face long and sullen, his skin wan, his long arms stiff as wood, and his speech correct and terse as the Queen’s English. She cautiously sips the rose tea, sticking her pinkie out in jest. “Why so British?”

Anubisius fails to respond. Kepura wipes his large thick lips with a handkerchief and lays out what everybody is thinking on the table. “One of us is down. What do we do?”

“I’m in no position to do such a thing but maybe,” Pegasus says while twiddling his thumbs. “World leaders should do something about this crisis on our hands.”

“Martis is in a conference with the President of the United States.” Kepura states flatly. “So far the American government has declared martial law on the devastated west coast while building forts to strengthen the defenses of the east coast cities. If I was a gambling man – which I am; it’s a serious problem – I’d say the terrorists will continue on the east coast or attack East Asia. The Momentum generators there are nearest to Los Angeles.”

Anubisius is about to speak up but he is cut short by a sharp objection. “Don’t be an idiot!” Kaiba severely admonishes Kepura. “The terrorists can fly like they’re devils from Hell, or Dragonball Z villains. No place on earth is safe geographically speaking.”

Pegasus quietly observed Kaiba parking his Blue-Eyes White Dragon jet outside, which certainly made a big noise, but the rest of the conference was too distracted to care. He sighs, “It’s everyone’s favorite party pooper.” All this while drinking his tea.

Kaiba is not alone; he is joined by an otherworldly woman, thin and very pale, with hair so fair it is almost white. Pegasus recognizes her to be Maria Wight, the Yugioh World Championship semi-finalist from three years ago.           

Anubisius finally has the courage to bluster at a random target. “Kepura, do something! You are the Field Marshall of the United States, the most powerful country in history!”

“Secretary of Defense. There is no American Field Marshal.” Kepura corrects him. “Besides, what am I to do? Order a nuclear assault on every potential target around the world? Our terrorist friends come and go as they please. They have no headquarters nor any chain of command.” He points an accusing finger to everyone around him in turn. “Their strategy is to form a cell when it is time to attack, even one under your very noses, then disperse.”

Yifan observes, “In other words, every underprivileged person on the planet is a potential enemy, about seven billion of them ever since Momentum became a thing. Meanwhile, the whole infrastructure of civilization as we know it depends on six generators. The terrorists can attack six billboards with targets painted on them. We can only grasp at smoke.” Yifan points to the servants of the house and the workers outside. “Even they can be plotting against us.” 

Anubisius puts his hand near his throat as if he is choking and even Kaiba drops his stoic mask, just a bit. Yifan covers her smile with a pale dainty hand, satisfied as a cat lapping milk.  

Kaiba covers his fear by lashing out. “How disgraceful! Our enemies are anarchist dogs who hide in the forest until they make a surprise attack. Fitting that a seditious woman like Maya leads a pack of hyenas.”

“Actually,” Anubisius adds, “Hyenas are more related to cats than -”  

“SHUT UP!” Kaiba roars like a blast of icy wind. 

Pegasus blows into the air and waves his hand like its a fan. “Do you have a strategy, Kaiba-boy?”

“You’ve done nothing from the beginning. You’re useless!” Kaiba turns on him, heaping more abuse. “You know that meme where Val Kilmer in Pulp Fiction walks around in bewilderment and has no idea where he is or what he’s doing? That’s you!”

Yifan finishes her tea, extremely amused from all the arguing going on, also making a note in her mind to steal Kaiba’s joke. Kaiba catches her smirking and demands she speak up, so Yifan tells him the truth. “I think it’s funny how easily you intimidate other people. All your constipated rage and vitriol comes from frustration and impotence. If you could achieve all the things you needed to, like getting a life, getting a girlfriend, beating Yugi in a card game, you would be a happier person.”

Kaiba rejects her advice at once, triggered into delivering a monologue on his philosophy. “Happiness is the mark of the imbecile. Man’s first scowl, his first profundity, came when the gods touched him on the forehead. A man who laughs and smiles often is shallow and dull. A man who laughs at everything kills a duelists’ pride by sneering on all that is heroic. A profound man does not laugh in joy or amusement. A profound man laughs in scorn and judgment. A profound man always has gravity and dignity about him. He is serious in every field and is never frivolous; he does not guffaw, he does not party, he does not waste his time socializing or drinking tea while the world collapses.” 

Yifan checks her watch, slouching on the tea table. “Cool story, bro.” Poor “Kaiba-boy” must be as boring and miserable as a Puritan. No wonder Maria broke up with him.  Anubisius cannot take it anymore. He smashes a vase in frustration, screaming. 

Pegasus decides to speak up. “Perhaps we should petition to every world power to double its defenses of the Momentum generators. America, China, Russia, and Pakistan come to mind. Even if they are set on protecting Momentum, we should still stress the danger of terrorists.”  

Yifan ponders the situation. If she is a gambling girl, she will bet Maya will take out Anubisius next. He is the weakest link. The poor thing must be frightened as a little rabbit. She can smell his fear. However powerful Maya is, she is still the underdog so she will exercise some caution, breaking one weak link after another until the whole chain falls apart.

Set on her prediction, Yifan gives false council. “Anyone who has seen Maya as a pro duelist knows she is a brash impatient person. Most likely she is already bored with taking out mere high mages and wants a real challenge, a legend like Kaiba, Pegasus, or Yugi. I’ll also venture to guess that Maya is an insecure person beneath all her dramatics – this is a common trait among outlandish people like her – so she wants to prove herself to mend her low self-esteem.”

Pegasus jumps to the conclusion. “Protect Japan and China, as well as my island since it’s near the shore of East Japan.”

“Correct.” Yifan confirms. She eyes Kepura next. “The American East Coast should be fine on its own. Also, India and Pakistan should protect China in case Maya wants to pull a fast one.”

The council, seeing her ideas to be most reasonable, agree. Even Kaiba nods in approval though still hating her guts. Strategies out of the way, he proceeds to his agenda. As he explains it, Maria has Blue-Eyes White Dragon as a Ka, meaning she can confront the terrorists since she can match their unnatural strength with her own. Unsure of such a bold claim, the council demands to see such power first hand.

Maria quietly assents, leading everyone outdoors. Being very shy among such powerful people, she lets Kaiba do all the talking while she concentrates on proving what words cannot. She has trouble getting in the mood at first but pulls herself together after a while, meditating for a full hour. Yifan can hear her Ka growing ever stronger like it’s a rising pitch, burning like a blue star, before anyone sees her glow in bright white. She grows and transforms, becoming a Blue-Eyes White Dragon in the flesh.

Meanwhile, decides to test Maria’s power first hand. She calls on Anubisius to order Saudia Arabia to launch a nuclear missile to Pakistan. He is at first bewildered until he reflects in shame on how he appeared so nervous and weak a moment ago. Steeling his nerves and wanting to get his balls back, he bullies an executive officer over a radio call to bypass all protocol and fire the weapon. He gets his way and within fifteen minutes the missile is launched.   

Everyone, even the servants and workers, stop to admire such power and splendor. Not bad, as Yifan thinks. She is a natural. Maya had to train for years to be like this, being an ordinary mortal with a humble background. But still, people like Maria who are chosen by the gods may have a huge head start but normal people with creativity and ambition have a higher ceiling. A god cannot truly be courageous or break new ground but mere mortals can. That is her pet theory. Either way, Maya has her work cut out for her.

“The missile has been launched.” Anubisius informs the council with a dry voice. 

“You heard the man.” Yifan tells the white dragon, pointing to the sun as if the warhead is there. “Fetch.”

The dragon takes off, breaking the sound barrier. Anubisius receives a radio call from the executive officer. The nuke was destroyed as soon as it was out of range. The white dragon promptly returns in triumph and reverts back into a human. Maria is strained from the exhaustion of executing such a difficult feat but still has the strength to sit down on a chair near Kaiba.

Anubisius sighs in relief and self-satisfaction, knowing that Maria will keep him safe. He orders the servants to deliver several old school opium pipes to the guests, transporting them a hundred years into the past. Anubisius, Yifan, and Pegasus take to enjoying themselves while Kepura, Kaiba, and Maria refrain. 

Enraptured from the opium, Pegasus quotes literature: “Life has always poppies in her hands.”

“Only if you’re a dreamer.” Yifan rejoins. Her brain sick with opium, she naps on the base of one of the manor’s many columns, transported into a dream. She arrives to an African Savannah, the origin of the human species, and sees Maya, a bright woman more beautiful than any other, blazing in the sky where the sun should be. Maya never leaves the midheaven, an idée fixe refusing to leave Yifan’s mind. Yifan stretches her arms to the sky, longing to embrace Maya, but cannot rise beyond the ground no matter how hard she tries.

“Cyndia…” Pegasus moans in sorrow. “My dear wife Cyndia… I still miss you…”

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 14 – Brulinner For Champions

Now the real sparring begins. Both women release a fraction of their power, eyes glowing red, brandishing swords of fire conjured by their willpower. Maya keeps a leisurely tempo for now, like that of a sarabande, moving slowly enough for Sofia to parry her assault without too much trouble. Thankfully, the fighters use minimal Ka on their swords, so even if Maya hits Sofia with the blade her student will merely get singed. 

Sofia blocks Maya’s attacks and counters with gestures of her own right after, all while skipping around the field, kind of like a highland dance. Maya picks up the pace to a gigue, then a gavotte, lashing at Sofia with ever greater speed and strength. It gets to the point where Sofia staggers under the blows, forcing her to stand her ground and make a committed counterattack, not half-hearted parries.

Maya surprises Sofia with a sudden drop and a kick to the stomach, a Capoercia that slams Sofia into the cavity of a large rock near the ocean waves. Literally backed into a corner, Sofia strikes back with heavy cleaves. Pleased, Maya lets Sofia plow her way through, keeping it challenging just enough to make Sofia sweat. Sofia takes a gamble; she lunges forward, burning the wrist of Maya’s sword arm. Unfortunately for Sofia, her dance is clumsy and, stretching herself too far, leaves herself open.

It is a fraction of a section, but an hour from the womens’ point of view. Maya takes advantage of her sweet time and slashes her opponent’s abdomen. Sofia yells, a thin black line burned past her clothes and into her flesh. dropping her guard entirely. Maya, all too happy to take advantage of the opportunity, lands a low blow right into Sofia’s wound, making her fall to the ground, utterly defeated.

Maya examines the wound, taking care not to wince, though she is very tempted to do so. “As my great grand uncle twice removed, Clarence Jones, loved to say, ‘Better have blisters and a scar than a stump on your wrist.’” She says in an exaggerated genial tone.

“You don’t have a great grand uncle twice removed.” Sofia moans as she clutches her abdomen. “I mean, you probably do, but I doubt you know his name, or anything he said.”

Maya sits in a cross-legged position near her apprentice, cocking her head in a quizzical manner. “Have you ever watched the Magic School Bus?”

“What’s that again?”

“A cooky teacher sends kids on magic field trips to give them science lessons.”

It rings a bell. Sofia finally gets it, and makes a sarcastic laugh. Maya helps her to her feet – she points to a place behind Sofia. “Look! Wayne is brutalising Eric and Megan!”

Sofia crosses her arms in disbelief. “I don’t believe you.”

“No, really! I’m serious! It’s disgusting! It’s like hardcore porn by National Geographic!”

This catches Sofia’s morbid curiosity, so she cannot help but turn around and watch. Indeed, the hooligan Wayne violently pecks Eric into submission, tearing out several feathers, and proceeds to rape Megan. Sofia drops her jaw in surprise and disgust. 

“PSYCHE! KIDNEY PUNCH!” Maya smashes the side of Sofia’s back, making Sofia double down on the floor again. “You fell for the oldest trick in the book. Unbelievable.” When Sofia complains how it can be a trick since Maya was telling the truth, Maya replies, “Yes, you can tell the truth but still use it for deceitful purposes. I am a lenient teacher compared to experience, which will teach you the same lesson by cutting your hand off instead.”     

Maya helps Sofia to her feet again, but with no tricks in mind. She brings out a portable electric stove and invites Sofia to cook with her, which Sofia does. Maya instructs her on how to cook, not merely to make any food to eat, but how to cook well, to make the tastiest most nutritious food possible. Together, they cook fish alongside tomatoes, garlic, and ginger. They top off the fish with a pinch of butter and natural salt.

Sofia muses on what to call their meal. You cannot call it brunch because it’s too late for breakfast and maybe you can call it dinner, but what can you call all three meals in one? “Bulinner?” Sofia suggests, feeling silly. Maya laughs a bit, giving her approval. Why not? 

“The smallest things are really the largest things.” Maya observes while they eat. Embarrassed at saying such a cliche, she elaborates. “People in the past tended to shirk off small physical things like your diet, the climate you live in, the land you live off of, your daily habits as not too important factors that determine your nature as a human being and the choices you make. But those are really the most important factors.”

“Which people?” Sofia asks. “What things did they think were important instead?”

“Philosophers in the past, specifically Western ones to my limited knowledge. I imagine they cared more about big metaphysical ideas like the state of your conscious mind, your relationship with God, or the philosophical ideals you choose to have. But all those things are based on the food we eat, the state of our bodies, and other ‘merely’ physical things. It seems obvious now but I doubt it was not too long ago. Even all the magic fighting stuff we do is just an extension of our bodies.” Maya speaks in slow, lazy way, not too sure of herself.

“What about the soul? This is a Yugioh fanfic after all.” Sofia inquires furter.

Maya nods, gazing at the waves lit into fire by the sunset, putting her thoughts together. She says, “I’d say consciousness, or the soul, is an emergent property created by the body. The actions of our cells create thoughts and various subconscious processes, which are not much on their own, but we fit them together like pieces of a puzzle. We create a fiction, a ‘virtual’ reality, where our little brain waves become somewhat coherent.”   

“What if you seal your soul into Millennium Item?” Sofia probes further.

“I guess the Millennium Item uses magic to change its host’s brain or create a consciousness in some other way.” Maya ruminates. “My point is the soul is not an actual substance like a rock or a pervert penguin. You might as well say the music I play is a substance. My advice to you: do not become preoccupied with your thoughts. We are not a being; we are a doing.”    

Sofia finishes her meal, laying back on the grass to see the stars. “Not to be disrespectful, but I think our readers are itching for a duel. We shouldn’t bore them.” 

Maya brushes her concern away. “Don’t worry. Let the plot take a promenade through Central Park. Do some world-building. We’re not in a New York Times bestseller, and thank God for that.” 

Sofia makes all sorts of sarcastic exclamations. 
“Wow!”
“Much high brow!”
“Such deep!”
“Very genius!”
“A great literature!”

Maya chuckles a bit, and says, “I didn’t discuss philosophy simply to bore you. It’s an appetizer of the next lesson, which you’ll learn when you’re ready. You’ll learn the final skill.”

“To transform into a dragon!” Sofia gasps. She trained under Maya in secret for three years, but Maya never brought it up until now.

Maya nods. “But not now.” She says. “Now, we rest and take the sword battles to the next level.”

“You tease!” Sofia scoffs as she lays down for a nap. She wonders if she actually likes Maya, and in more ways than one. It seems she does, a thought she finds amusing before she drifts to sleep. 

The women awaken to a dusk sky an hour later. They build up their Ka, their eyes burning red again, conjuring flaming swords from thin air once more, but more; they project fire from their backs and crowns, transforming it into black wings and horns. The penguins take seats around them to observe the battle. 

Teacher and student clash, throwing each other into the air, and from then onward dance as acrobats or birds, whirling around the landscape as if caught by a hurricane of the passions. They land on the base of the southernmost Andes mountains. Maya picks up the tempo of the exercise to a tarantella and gives Sofia a further challenge. “We’ll also play another game, a bit of a rap battle while we fight. It’s my turn. I clash blades with you, I deliver a line. Next time we cross swords, I come up with another line. Then, you’ll do the same.”

Sofia becomes baffled. “Are you kidding me? That’s the dumbest idea I ever heard.”

“You’ll like it. I promise.” Maya assures her, beaming in good humor. “It’ll teach you to think creatively on your feet. We must get out at least four iambs. Five is ideal. Also, we must rhyme four times – Hey! That works! – And…” She suddenly takes flight. “BEGIN!” The women tangle in the air like squabbling seagulls.

Gotta save the world! We gotta get lit!
But I must babysit a shrinking violet.
What can I do? Sofie doesn’t know shit.
She’s gotta get smacked in a royal battle blitz. 

Poor fool! You’re serious, but really dumb.
Your heart is gold but your feet are lead drums.
Don’t be timid, girl! Seize power! Get drunk!
Face your fears! Unleash the beast! Have some fun!  

Maya slams the wedge beneath Sofia’s ribs with her knee and ruthlessly throws her student to the rugged mountain below. Sofia stretches her palms out and, using her Ka as a shield, crash lands as a fiery meteor into a crater below. Maya lands nearby brandishing her red blade. Sofia swears at her teacher in frustration. “Ven a buscarme, puta!” Maya challenges her. Sofia replies with a fierce lunge, and they take off again, Sofia improvising verses of her own. 

You think you’re smart and chic!? Damn smarmy bitch!
You just got daddy issues! Admit it, witch!
Keep ridiculing people, and you’ll get a stitch
To match your crocodile tears and cheap tricks!

Call me a whore!? You know nothing of love
Or duty to anything above!
You only have your ego! You’re evil!
Like Yifan, an unrepentant devil!

Sofia tackles Maya head on, not caring about the searing cuts from her opponent’s blade. Fueled with fury and unleashing so much wrath she’s almost at the dragon stage, she pile drives Maya deep into a dark cave, getting them both buried in rubble.

Maya laughs in the darkness, her pain mixed with great pleasure. “You’re getting there! You dirty dog! You’re doing it!”

Sofia tightly clutches Maya’s waist. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to.” She would kowtow to Maya’s feet, begging forgiveness if she could. 

Maya gently dissuades her, adding: “Why do you feel sorry for being angry? I gave you a hard time. Your feelings are valid.” This moment takes Maya back to when she was in Egypt, buried under mounds of rubble in a cave. The dark night of the soul is a cliche, but Maya could say her time in Egypt was definitely that moment for her. She had a choice; she could either let herself die in her loss, pity, and confusion, or she could climb out of the mess and try again. She tells Sofia everything of that moment.

Sofia is deeply touched by Maya’s tale. She asks Maya if she can tell her something. When Maya affirms, Sofia says: “I used to be an orphan before I was adopted by Pegasus. – There’s a cliche if there ever was one! – It was more like a homeless shelter than any place a child could live in. I even considered becoming a baby prostitute. Thank God I never made that decision.”

Maya pities Sofia, even if only for a small moment. At least Maya had the choice of being a “soft prostitute” when she was a star duelist, not unlike what actresses and pop stars sometimes do in their careers. Maya never took it but it was a privileged option by comparison. 

“How did you end up in Pegasus’ care?” Maya asks.

Sofia answers, “Pegasus used to adopt orphans, especially if they came from poorer countries., like the Bragelina couple. But he had this Michael Jackson vibe too where he wanted to take sad children to his Neverland to give them a childhood they never had.”

“It’s really touching but also creepy and pathetic.” Maya observes. “I wonder why he refuses to grow up.”

Sofia knows the answer but does not feel like getting into it, so she resumes her story. “Pegasus once visited Kazakhstan, my homeland, presenting a mock Millennium Puzzle. He said that any child who managed to solve it would be adopted. Well, I stole it, naively believing I could sell it for the gold it was worth. Needless to say, it wasn’t. I got really upset but couldn’t think of anything else but to solve the Puzzle over the course of a few weeks. The police eventually found me, put me in jail, and returned the completed Puzzle to Pegasus, but Pegasus was so delighted with my achievement he adopted me. The rest is history.”

Her story causes Maya to ruminate for a long time, lost in thought. She did not fully know Sofias backstory until now. Perhaps, she wonders, she should be more sensitive to such a vulnerable girl. After all, was not Maya kind of like Sofia when she was a teenager? I mean, maybe, but Maya never let herself be vulnerable like Sofia does. She would lash out by being a delinquent instead. And if Sofia lived in luxury for the past decade, why is she still vulnerable now? – And it is just her, or is a flint of rock stuck up her – no, it is Sofia’s elbow. Well, that is compromising.

The women use their powers to lift away the boulders on them and exit the cave. They conjure their wings once more and fly down to the shore, but with no battles. They take each other’s arms and hop their way back in huge leaps and bounds in a little warm down dance.

“You did good today, kid.” Maya says, lifting Sofia’s chin up. 

“I’m not a kid.” Sofia says in return.

“I’m sure you’ll prove it in due time.” Maya gives Sofia a warm hug, which Sofia tries to return but cannot in full confidence in herself.

Sofia cannot help but smirk a bit to herself as she climbs the ocean shuttle to return home. Indeed, she had quite a workout. Before she shuts the hatch, she asks Maya if she can join the fight to capture the next Millennium Item. Maya says yes, which leaves Sofia with a happy heart on her way home.

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 13 – Much Going On

Sofia finds herself in a wide plane, a grassland in the Horn of Africa similar to the one in the Shangri-la several days ago. The midday sun blazes on her tawny skin, covering them with dark sunspots, burning her so much she almost shines like a star herself. She rushes into the mouth of a cave to protect herself as much as she can, though she already aches with sunburn. 

The cave reveals itself to be the mouth of an Egyptian temple, its outside nothing but a ruin but its inside as alive as the day it was built. Yes! She was here before back when she was in Egypt! It’s one of the Abu Simbel temples! She sees pair after pair of stone giants of Ramses II flanking both sides of a seemingly endless hallway. And above, a night sky of stars that look alive. She fears the colossus golems will demand her to solve riddles but they remain quiet, letting her pass without harassing her.

She arrives to the inner sanctum. The four gods: Ramesu, Heru, and Ra-Amun bathed in light and Pitah remaining in darkness, oversee the Shadow Game before them. There, Sofia sees Yifan and Maya sitting across a large circular table, a diorama of the whole Earth. Yifan has several cards out: the high mages, Kaiba, Pegasus, and one card facedown. Maya also wields forces of her own: herself, Yukio, Mathias, Miguella, Hassan, and several generals.      

Maya moves the card depicting herself on a square next a card representing Secmeton, and declares an attack. The duel between the two “monsters” unfolds. The Ba, or bar of hit points, of the Maya card almost reaches zero but the Secmeton card is destroyed by battle, so Yifan places it in the Graveyard. Yifan draws a blank card from her Deck, and uses her mind to conjure an image of Maria! She Summons it near the Kaiba card.

It is Maya’s turn, so she draws a blank card from her Deck and conjures an image of Sofia on it. Then, she places the Sofia card on the edge of the board facedown, as if unsure where it should go. Sofia needs to help Maya while remaining hidden in darkness. She nudges Maya’s elbow, pushing her hand a bit to the tail of South America. Maya takes the hint, so she moves the Sofia card face down to the Strait of Magellan. Then, she does something unexpected; she taps the card with her finger, and starts singing in a falsetto:

And so I wake in the morning
And I step outside
And I take a deep breath and I get real high
And I scream from the top of my lungs
What’s going on? 

And I say, hey yeah yeah, hey yeah yeah
I said hey, what’s going on?

“What was going on?” Sofia thinks to herself after she wakes up. 

Maya did train her how to have lucid dreams and mentioned they would talk to each other through dreams one night. It seemed like Maya lured Sofia to hidden place to ask her for directions – for something. Once Maya got what she needed, she then gave Sofia directions of her own – or so it seemed.

Sofia browses the Internet a bit, not fully awake, unsure of what to do. Surely enough, the death of Secmeton is all over the New York Times, the remaining masters of mankind visibly scared. Enough of this. Sofia gets up, puts on her clothes, and makes her way to the East River. Sofia must have a bad habit of sleeping in because the sun already at its zenith, and she is hungry. Suddenly, a machine appears as if it waited for her the whole time. It looks like a spaceship from centuries in the future but comes out from the water. It opens the hatch, revealing a small seat inside. 

Now Sofia gets it. She texts Jolene, “Going to the gym.”, knowing her friend will get the subtext, and climbs aboard. The hatch closes her inside and creates a computer generated panorama of the underwater world surrounding it. Sofia opens a virtual map and points to the Strait of Magellan. The machine obeys, darting to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, transporting Sofia to her destination within several hours. She opens the hatch, seeing Maya stand with her arms crossed on the rocky wind-blasted shore, as if defying the elements.  

“So how’s your work vacation?” Maya welcomes Sofia; her face makes a jarring change from brooding to jovial in a fraction of a second. 

Sofia steps out to the shore, getting surrounded by a multitude of little penguins as if they are giving her a welcome party. She sees Maya pointing at the penguins and hears her give them names: “Here’s Dan, Wayne, Frank, Eric, Ted, and Darren. And there’s Amy, Megan, Karen, Lisa, and Carrie.”

“Did you just assume their genders?” Sofia jokes.

Maya gives Sofia a warm hug, leading her to the windswept mainland, the penguins following her. It is time to advance Sofia’s training. The first task of the student is to follow the master in doing several stretches and balances. Sofia easily follows Maya’s lead, doing what looks like a few yoga exercises except maybe the balancing is more demanding. 

Sofia begins to feel disappointed, even a little upset. It doesn’t look like Maya is taking her seriously. Then, Maya puts 5 kilogram weights on her arms, legs, neck, and waist. Sofia follows, and the “yoga class” becomes harder. Maya ramps it up to 10 kilogram weights. Sofia, though hardy like her teacher, has a lighter build and less training, making her strain rivers of sweat as she summons the greatest strength her body is capable of doing. Maya also trembles from the extreme strain, like she is also about to break any minute now.

At 20 kilograms, Sofia exceeds her mortal strength and is forced to bring out her Ka, or life force, from deep within her, making her dark brown eyes glow crimson. She looks across to Maya, whose eyes make her less like a human and more like a night predator. Sofia puts all her effort in controlling her Ka, taming the roaring rapids of fiery energy throughout her body, engineering it into a controlled river that flows around in a circle, around, and around, and around. Otherwise, her Ka would erupt like wildfire, burning her body and a kilometer of landmass into smouldering ash. 

Sofia does a handstand with one arm, the penguins pile on top of her, and Maya sits on her feet with all of her weight, making her body, now superhuman begin to strain. “Good.” Maya purrs like a contented tiger. “Now the real training can begin.” 

Sofia blinks. “Excuse me.” She begins to see red from all the blood rushing to her head.

“I will ask you several questions.” Maya says in a very grave tone. “For each one you get wrong, you owe me one bourbon. Sounds good?”

Sofia nods, visibly confused. 

Maya starts the game: “In the red house lives a red man. In the blue house lives a blue man. In the white house lives -”

“A white man.” Sofia blurts out.

“Wrong. The President lives in the white house, who is a black man, you racist. You’re retarded.”

Sofia blinks several times, her eyes bloodshot. “I don’t understand.”

“I want you to think on your feet and see logical holes where you’d otherwise not see them, even under unbearable stress.” Maya explains, though Sofia remains skeptical. “Next question: what is the best way to burn grass in your backyard?”

Sofia wracks her brain for an answer but can’t find one. “A small match to keep it controlled?” She answers, her voice uncertain.  

“Why would you burn perfectly good grass? You smoke it!” Maya scolds her. “And you don’t do it out in the backyard where a cop can see you. That was a major doobie. By Mary Jane’s bush, you’re retarded!”

Sofia frowns in frustration and disgust, too upset to say anything.

“Last question: on what side of the roof does the rooster lay its egg in the morning?”

Ah ha! Sofia knows this one! “Neither! Roosters don’t lay eggs!”

“I was going easy on you.” Maya scoffs. She gives Sofia several more retard tests but Sofia only gets another one right. “You must have been very sheltered growing up under Pegasus.” Maya complains. “If you went to a public school, you’d know half these riddles. I only invented one of them, the one with the weed joke. Don’t worry. You can live a full life despite your disability.”

“Come on!” Sofia shouts through gritted teeth, her resentment building. “I want serious training!”

“Oh, this is very serious.” Maya reassures her. “You can’t just fight. You have to dance in a battle. You must cultivate humor, wit, rhythm, lightness, and music in your martial arts. It is called martial arts for a reason.”

Maya feels Sofia buckle under the strain, folding beneath her like a pretzel. Maya gets off and surveys the tangled mess, wondering how to reassemble her. It’s like Maya needs to build Ikea furniture but lost the directions. “Wayne, stop it!” She shouts at the hooligan penguin as it starts humping Sofia. She kicks the creature away in a fury, cursing at the author. “Very original!”

Maya takes off her weights, then carefully removes the weights from Sofia before putting her back together. Sofia gets up, feeling so light without the weights she can dance on her toes. Maya does dance on her toes and invites Sofia to a boxing match. 

Sofia accepts the challenge, eager to get revenge on Maya for humiliating her. The two fighters flit from one place to the next within the blink of an eye, like how the hummingbird goes about her business among flowers. Sofia lashes out at Maya in every way she knows how, but Maya effortlessly dodges them, while Maya in turn strikes with just enough speed for Sofia to block – most of them. Maya smacks her a few times, though not too hard. The penguins thoroughly enjoy the spectacle.

“Doctors know an easy way to diagnose cancer. If your hand is larger than your face, I have bad news for you.” Maya says. Sofia naively lifts her hand to her face, only for Maya to push Sofia’s face with it. “I do have bad news for you. You’re retarded.”

“I honestly think you’re just trying to bully me.” Sofia complains.

“A little bit.” Maya admits with a twinkle in her eye. “I last dunked a gamer nerd down the toilet when I was eighteen the day after my dad beat me and got drunk. I had to plead the cops to not arrest him that night. Now the gamer nerd complains about feminists all day.”

“Even in a tent city?”

“Especially in a tent city. He knows who I am.” 

Sofia grows impatient. “Can I fight you for real now?”

Maya is overjoyed. She uses her Ka to create a burning sword out of the air. Sofia does the same and lunges at her opponent, glad to finally be taken seriously. The two women begin sparring once more. Maya’s quirky training regimen continues unabated. Still, Sofia is unsure what’s really going on or if Maya is pulling her leg in an elaborate prank.

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 12 – Maritime Marriage Therapy

Husband and wife make their way to the deck, catching the fresh salty breeze of the morning air. Yukio slowly takes a sip of black coffee while Maya rubs her head. “I’m getting too old for this.” She complains, struggling with her hangover.

Yukio prods her with a gentle question. “Maybe we should talk about what happened yesterday.”

Maya gives him an acid smile. “Sure. I was too mean to the old man, a legitimate military target. Yes, he ruined the lives of a billion people and was destroying the planet, but he cried about the whales, so it balances out. Nobody is perfect.”

“You killed his son, an enemy combatant, which is obviously understandable.” Yukio says. “But did you really have to rub it in his face throughout the duel?”

“You’re right.” Maya retorts. “I should spare my enemy’s feelings. I wouldn’t want to demoralize an enemy fighter too much. I need to be gentle, go to therapy with him, mind his delicate mental health, you know, give him a chance to kill me.”

Now Yukio is getting a headache. “It’s not really about that. I fear all these things are symptoms of something else. I’d call it your moral compass or the state of your soul if I was a Christian. I feel like you’re losing you’re normalizing psychopathy and losing your humanity. I wonder if you really care about all the people you’re fighting for.”

Maya does understand what he is saying, feeling the same worries herself, but another part of her thinks holding on to ideal morals will be too brittle for her struggles ahead. And too old. And false. She tries explaining her feelings to Yukio but completely misfires. “There is no point in behaving in a perfectly moral way if the high mages still control the world and drive the planet to destruction. We are at war, so strategy takes precedence. Ideals, and that includes moral ideals, are tools. You need to use them to mobilize an army to win. That is a fact. I wish I could hold fast to moral ideals but I’m too disillusioned. It won’t win a war.”

Yukio does not believe she truly values moral ideals, and so he jumps at her because of his suspicion. “So you believe the ends justify the means?”

It is a gotcha question, and Maya knows it. So she answers it the way she always does, and it is certainly not by evading it. “I do.” She replies, smirking in the most obnoxious way she can.

“Mathias believes the means justify the ends.” Yukio says.

“Mathias is a fool.”

“I believe the same thing he does.”

“You’re an idiot too.”

An awkward silence follows. The sun climbs the horizon throughout the argument. The black ocean turns wine dark, then midnight blue, then a solid dark blue. A comrade spots an island, rousing everyone on board of its presence.

Maya continues, “You don’t need a Millennium Item to predict how things will go down. Heroes are predictable, reactive creatures. Mathias will object to my ‘cruel’ methods because that’s what heroes do. Yugi and Jonouchi won’t show up until the very last moment. In another universe, Yugi will believe in the Heart of the Cards or Atem will give him an eleventh hour superpower to reform me and kill Yifan. But we don’t play by those rules. The heroes will fail.”

“By ‘we’ I assume you mean Yifan and yourself.” Yukio shoots back. “In case you forgot, according to the Millennium Necklace you destroyed, Yifan will win. Where did you predict that in your master plan?”

Maya has no answer.

Yukio continues, “You act like you’re in a grand Shadow Game RPG against Yifan, but you’re not. People are not expendable pawns or NPCs. Hashtag their lives matter.”

Maya becomes indignant. “Yifan thinks our revolution is a game, not me! I need to follow my plan if me or Sofia are to defeat her one day. The only reason she hasn’t pulled a Maleficent and burned the whole planet by now is because she would get bored. As long as I work towards killing her one day, she will think me a worthy opponent and give us odds to keep things interesting. You’ll thank me later when it’s all over and I’m finally dead. Then you’ll be happy.”

“So she is the cat. You’re the mouse.” Yukio says in disgust. “And poor Sofia is… The dog that chases the cat? I don’t know. The analogy is falling apart.”

“We’re more like the Sith Rule of Two.” Maya comments. “Complete with fiery red swords, dark magic powers, an edgy philosophy, and arguably we are necessary as we are evil – in the Nietzschean sense of the course, not the dumb Christian or democratic sense.”

“I really hate you sometimes.” Yukio mutters.

“Then why don’t you divorce me?” Maya challenges him. “Our marriage is only a week old. Cut ties with me while it’s thin. It’s not Britney-Jason marriage short, but it would give the rest of Hollywood a run for its money.”

Yukio spills out more of what is on his mind. “You know what really hurts me?” He pauses to properly form his ideas. “I’m assuming you know the Becky and Stacy memes. Becky is the bookish, introverted, artsy girl, somewhat pretty but unkempt and not too attractive. Stacey is the alpha bitch, with high heels, fake tan, fake hair, fake tits, immensely popular, extroverted, has men waiting on her every move.”

“Of course I know who Becky and Stacey are. What’s your point?”

“When I first met you, I saw this intelligent girl who had an artist’s sensitivity and talent but who was also brilliant and fun. I cannot conceive of that girl doing the things you do now. I thought you were a real Becky, like my ex Jolene, but now I think you were a Stacey trapped in a Becky the whole time.”

Maya laughs ruefully, almost with scorn. “Sweetheart, Becky and Stacey are a false dichotomy; they don’t exist. You act like you’re still in high school. Grow up. You fell in love with me when I was being a so-called ‘Stacey’, not ‘Becky’. We entered a relationship when we were in Egypt, when I did many ruthless, violent things. We got down last night after I killed an old man in a card game. You consider yourself a feminist, don’t you?”

Yukio nods.

Maya says, “You like a strong, independent woman, but your idea of her is a ‘hipster girl’ or a ‘spooky girl’. Spouting progressive talking points and threatening to hex someone are cute, but there is nothing striking or unique about it. When you see an actual strong woman, like me or Yifan, you reel back in disgust, even though it’s what you really want. You probably see Yifan as bourgois, conventional, and arrogant, and me as a ‘Stacey’, even though we are none of these things. Again, grow up.”

“You kill scores of people every weekend.” Yukio counterattacks with indignation. “Spreading war, violence, disaster, insurrection, chaos, disease, and death are your job. You are not a woman! You are a beast! And Yifan – what you’re – say!” He needs to take a moment to properly speak again. “She is a vile snake who likes playing with her food before she eats it, at best! At worst, she takes nothing seriously, because it’s all a bad joke to her! Don’t talk to me about how nuanced Yifan really is when she is the source of evil tearing this world apart!”

Maya finishes her coffee. “Not like you can count on a man to do a monster’s job anyway.”

Yukio tries to crack Maya’s armor, a task he imagines to be as difficult as mounting a hedgehog. “I’m not in the mood to spar with words. I’m being very serious right now. I’m worried about what you have done and what you are becoming. How can you fight for the rights and well-being of Earth’s poorest against the one percent when you act as callously and flippantly as the world’s richest CEOs? I don’t want to lose the woman I fell in love with.”

Maya clasps Yukio’s hands, her face almost penitent in its expression. “And here is my serious response. I would normally say it’s all just an act: to be as cavalier and bold as possible to put fire in the hearts of people. That is indeed true, but there is more to it. I don’t think I can live by the values we have anymore. It’s not enough if I am to somehow transcend to new heights as a musician, as a duelist, as a ‘beast’: in short, as a ‘creative being’, if you could call me that. Yifan, evil as she is, has a point in her worldview. You can’t be too righteous these days. You’ll lose either your sanity or your ability to truly understand this world.”

“So it’s all about you and your creative power?” Yukio asks.

“Yes, mine and Sofia’s.” Maya confirms. “It always has been.”

While Yukio deeply disagrees with Maya’s priorities, he does respect her on some level. He gently puts his hands on Maya’s cheeks. “You straddle a very thin line between light and darkness. It’s like you are walking a tightrope. Promise me you won’t lose yourself and fall.”

Maya kisses her husband’s hands. “I promise.”

The island becomes close enough for a man to swim to it. Maya strips naked and jumps in the water, ridding herself of yesterday’s sewer grime. Yukio throws everything in the air. He strips naked and followers her. A comrade, the one who spotted the island earlier, scratches his head but doesn’t care enough to think about it any further.

Everyone arrives to the shore, setting up a small camp, then search the jungle for some fruit and other provisions. Maya and Yukio get new clothes and spend the morning fishing, yielding enough food for themselves and a few of the hungriest people. Yukio and several comrades return to the computers in the boat, resetting the special incognito network they used to communicate with each other before. So far, nothing.

Maya thinks it appropriate to create a memorial for all the soldiers who died in battle. She conceives an idea and leads her comrades in carrying many rocks, big and small, from around the shore to set up an artwork. Midday passes to night. Yukio leaves the boat to see a large mound, the sharp rocks making it look like a mountain with jagged peaks. Everyone puts a small object dear to them, even if it is but a trinket, at the top of the mound, each one representing the fallen comrades.

Maya ignites one of the torches on the mound, which spreads through the grass and all the other torches, transforming the memorial into a blazing mountain. Touched by such a creative act, Yukio clasps Maya’s hand and invents poetry off the top of his head:

Men who drowned in the wat’ry deep,
Now soar upwards t’wards the sky.
We stop our climb and fall asleep.
Tomorrow we soar on high.

The rebel band spontaneously match the words with music, creating a song. While it is not amazing, even corny, it is heartfelt. Everyone sings and sways in unison, not unlike the orchestra, that great symbol of a democratic community as Maya thinks it, voices and flames climbing to the many stars above. Most comrades see the full night sky and the Milky Way for the very first time. Maya feels like she can somehow be drawn towards the stars just by staring at them long enough and letting go. This gives her an idea just as everyone goes to bed.

Yukio wakes up the next day, groping at the empty space by his side, expecting Maya to be there. Just when he thought he could trust Maya, when he could give his heart to her, she burns it! He sees many pebbles carefully arranged on the sand, a long chain of numbers that he presumes are geographic coordinates. Maya must have given him the location of the rendezvous point for the rebel fleets.

Wait, but how? Yukio is left scratching his head.

But there is more. He sees letters forming a puzzling sentence: The sky is the limit.

Duels 9-11 Created Cards

MAYA’S CARDS:

Cœlestial Siren Clothon

LIGHT/Fiend/Level 10/ATK 0/DEF 0

  1. Cannot be destroyed by battle. Your opponent takes any battle damage you would have taken from battles involving this card instead.
  2. At the end of the Battle Phase, if this card battled: shuffle 1 card your opponent controls into the Deck(s) for each 1000 points of damage inflicted by this card during this turn.
  3. If this card is destroyed: half both players Life Points.

Cœlestial Siren Lacheson

LIGHT/Fiend/Level 10/ATK 0/DEF 0

  1. Cannot be destroyed by battle. Your opponent takes any battle damage you would have taken from battles involving this card instead.
  2. At the end of the Battle Phase, if this card battled: your opponent discards 1 random card for each 1000 points of damage inflicted by this card during this turn.
  3. If this card is destroyed: banish all non-”Cœlestial Siren” monsters on the field until your 2nd Standby Phase after activation.

Cœlestial Siren Atropon

LIGHT/Fiend/Level 10/ATK 0/DEF 0

  1. Cannot be destroyed by battle. Your opponent takes any battle damage you would have taken from battles involving this card instead.
  2. At the end of the Battle Phase, if this card battled: Special Summon 2 “Cœlestial Siren” monsters with different names from your hand, Deck, or Graveyard.
  3. If this card is destroyed: both players shuffle all cards in the Graveyard into the Deck(s).

Dark Necrophilia

DARK/Fiend/Level 8/ATK 2200/DEF 2800

  1. Cannot be Normal Summoned. Must first be Special Summoned by banishing 3 Fiends from your Graveyard.
  2. If this card is destroyed and sent to the Graveyard, as long as it is in the Graveyard: each time your opponent’s monster attacks, flip a coin. If Heads: negate the attack. Your opponent takes damage and you gain Life Points equal to half the monster’s ATK.

Cavern Golem

DARK/Fiend/Level 8/ATK 3000/DEF 2500

  1. Can be Special Summoned from your hand by Tributing 1 monster your opponent controls.
  2. You can discard 1 card during your End Phase; if not, change control of this card.

Stygian Ghost Jockey

DARK/Level 2/Fiend/ATK 300/DEF 1350

TUNER

  1. During your opponent’s turn, if your opponent’s monster attacks you directly: you can Special Summon this card from your hand or Graveyard and Special Summon 2 “Ghost Jockey” Tokens (DARK/Level 1/Fiend/ATK 0/DEF 0).
  2. During your opponent’s End Phase: banish this card from your Graveyard.

Stygian Drag Racer

DARK/Level 3/Fiend/ATK 1650/DEF 600

  1. If you Summon this card, you can banish it until your next Standby Phase: send 1 Fiend monster from your Deck to the Graveyard OR add 1 Fiend monster with a different name from your Deck to your hand. You can only Summon Fiend monsters this turn.

Stygian Kart Racer

DARK/Level 3/Fiend/ATK 1350/DEF 300

  1. If you Normal Summon this card, you can banish it until your next Standby Phase: draw 1 card. If it is a Fiend Monster Card, you can reveal it, and draw 1 more card.

Quantum Stargate

Spell Card

  1. If your opponent controls monsters and you control no monsters: Special Summon 1 monster with 0 ATK and DEF from your hand or Deck in Attack Position. It cannot be Tributed or used as Material for any Special Summon from the Extra Deck.

Pot of Eternity

Spell Card

  1. Shuffle 5 banished cards into the Deck(s) and draw 2 cards.
  2. You cannot activate any Spell Cards this turn (except this card).

SECMETON CARDS:

Ghost Mariner Davy Jones

WATER/Level 4/Fiend/ATK 1600/DEF 1000

  1. During the End Phase: you can shuffle all WATER monsters banished during this turn into the Deck(s).
  2. You can destroy 1 WATER monster you control (except this card): Set 1 “Ghost Mariner” Continuous Trap Card from your Graveyard.

Ghost Mariner’s Sky Curse

Continuous Trap Card

  1. When your opponent activates a Spell Card, if you control “Ghost Mariner Davy Jones”, you can banish 3 WATER monsters from your Graveyard: Negate the Spell Card and destroy it.

Ghost Mariner’s Trench Curse

Continuous Trap Card

  1. When your opponent activates a Trap Card, if you control “Ghost Mariner Davy Jones”, you can banish 3 WATER monsters from your Graveyard: Negate the Trap Card and destroy it.

Ghost Mariner’s Shore Curse

Continuous Trap Card

  1. When your opponent’s monster attacks, if you control “Ghost Mariner Davy Jones”, you can banish 3 WATER monsters from your Graveyard: Negate the attack and destroy the monster.

Dreadnaught Fortress Whale

WATER/Level 8/Fish/? ATK/? DEF

  1. You can Tribute more than 2 monsters to Tribute Summon this card. The ATK/DEF of this card is equal to the total ATK of all WATER monsters Tributed to Tribute Summon this card.
  2. If this card would be destroyed: you can destroy 1 monster you control instead.

Grand Heron

WATER/Level 10/Winged Beast/ATK 2000/DEF 2000

  1. When you Normal Summon this card: you can add 1 WATER Level 7 or higher monster to your hand.
  2. Once per turn, you can discard 1 WATER monster: return all Spell/Traps on the field to the hand.
  3. If your opponent only controls face-up monsters: this card can attack directly.