Duel 15 – Tighter Knots
Maya struggles to stand on her feet, her knees wobbling and her chest burning from her fractures ribs, but she forces her way onward. She cannot lose this tournament. She might as well die if she had to because if she loses she won’t have a life, anyway. Maya even realizes the humor in these words; people would laugh if any other Yugioh character said it, and maybe some would even laugh at her, but she needs the money more than anything. The banks would use her crushing debts to drive her homeless and, well, she might as well striptease or turn tricks for Wall Street stockbrokers, but as enticing as the thought of a rich a****** snorking coke from her ass seems to her, it is not a fate she will tolerate.
Maria: 4600 | Maya: 1500
MAYA’S TURN: “I play Jewels of the Valient; each time I banish a card from my Graveyard, I get a mill a card. Dark Summoning Beast gives me the perfect opportunity; I banish it to add a Sacred Beast monster to my hand, and this lets me mill a Carboneddon. Next, the Permanent Spell Card Triangle Force, putting three more from my Deck to the field, and I destroy them all to Special Summon Hammon, Lord of Striking Thunder. I offer my Phantasm Token to Tribute Summon my second Dark Summoning Beast, and Tribute it to Special Summon Uria, Lord of Searing Flames from my Deck!”
The bright sky broils into dark clouds yet again, hailing the dark advent of two more huge fiendish beasts; all three together resembling the three Egyptian Gods: Raviel for Obelisk, Uria for Ositis, and Hammon for Ra. “I activate Fallen Paradise to draw two cards, and I use Uria’s effect to pop Maria’s faecdown card.” The red fiend of illusions blasts away its target with a gust of flames. “I combine the Sacred Beasts together – I don’t need Polymerization to fuse them. – I call form Armityle the Chaos Phantom!” Raviel, Uria, and Hammon melt into each other, their limbs and organs fusing together into a serpentine body, Uria’s head becoming the left arm and Hammon’s head becoming the right, creating the ultimate illusion beast.
Mathias himself gases at the ancient creature in wonder. Maya’s titan truly calls back to the dark mystic past before the gods of Olympus and their era of Apollo’s glowing beauty. It is the closest embodiment to Typhon he can think of, holding ginormous 10,000 ATK!
Maya is still yet to fisnish. “I have two Carboneddon sleeping in the Graveyard; I banish them to Special Summon two Dragons from my Deck: Labradorite Dragon and Wattail Dragon.” As carbon is forged into diamond, Maya’s two lowly dinosaurs are ground under immense pressure to create two rare, bejewled dragons, one of light, the other of darkness.
Maria knows what will happen next; Maya will bring out the same Tzolkin combo Matthew did in his duel, and says as much to suggest Maya is not so inventive after all. But Maya dismisses the suggestion outright, “No, I am being even less inventive.”
She calls once more upon Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal, this time two dragons rather than Dante become the Xyz Material. “I use her effect to mill Calabrina, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, and use its effect to bounce your other facedown card.” And Maya’s target vanishes in due time. “Two down, one to go. I’ll burn the last one out with an attack! Raviel, destroy Chaos MAX Dragon! Eat 10,000 ATK for afternoon brunch!”
Marai springs her trap, “Negate Attack!” And the phantom’s beasts onslaight is repelled, sparing Maria and her monsters.
“I expected as much.” Maya bemoans. “I set two cards and end my turn.”
Seto Kaiba, scowling and unreadable as ever, surveys the battle in a way he had never done before; there is something very new at work. Nearly every duelist until now, himself included, built their decks as a pyramid, their strategies culminating into an ace monster they held a special bond with, such as his Blue-Eyes White Dragon; his stronest servant, his very pride and soul. Everything revolves around that monster, or a few key monsters, creatures that a duelist puts all his faith in carry him to victory.
But Maya’s entire strategy is inverted; her deck a spider web of equally interconnected parts, with Beatrice as the spider in the middle, her gravity holding everything else together. From that center, Maya can reach into any corner of her web to achieve any effect she desires; there is no true ace monster. Kaiba saw only a few such atheists back in his day: Pegasus turned whatever cards his opponent used against him, Bakura used his monsters as fodders to achieve a terrifying lock combo, even Yugi used various strategies where his Dark Magician was a favorite but one of many. To think people worship that twerp but completely miss his gaming style.
Kaiba snorts at Maya’s performance with contempt, “The Sacred Beasts are bootleg copies of the Egyptian Gods at best, the poor man’s form of divine strength. What is Armityle’s 10,000 ATK compared to the Infinite ATK of the Gods fused together?
MARIA’S TURN: “I activate Trade-In, discard a Blue-Eyes to draw two cards. Maya, your Armityle is strong but only during your turn. Now, on my turn, its ATK is 0. Chaos MAX, destroy Armityle! DARK NOVA!”
But the light-warming destructive energy never reaches it’s target. Maya refutes her with Fiend Grieving, “I return the Blue-Eyes you discarded to your Deck, and I mill Fiendish Rhino Warrior, which lets me mill Farfarello, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, and I use it’s effect.”
“That won’t save you! Even if Chaos MAX is banished I still – Oh!” Armityle dissapears, leaving Maria to still adjust her eyes to the titanic-sized voide left behimd from it’s dissapearence. “I instead direct Chaos MAX to kill Beatrice, and since she is in Defense Position I inflict double piercing damage!”
“I use Beatrice’s effect to mill Scarm, and I play Damage Diet!” Maya’s fair angel is vaporized, leaving the offending dragon’s wrath to pursue its true mission, but the Trap Card slows it down enough until only a mild blast hits Maya. Getting punched in the ribs doesn’t hurt – Getting punched in the broken ribs doesn’t hurt! (Maya LP 1500 → 300)
But though Maya barely hangs on the game, she still shows her infinite resiliance. “Beatrice was destroyed, letting me Special Summon directly from the Extra Deck Dante, Pilgrim of the Burning Abyss!” Dante returns, completed by Beatrice, his journey to God complete. “With his arrival, I discard Ciriatto, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss and draw a card, then use its effect to Special Summon Graffiacane, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss from the Deck.” Her old fiend, the nasty dog, returns, making a painful contrast with the great pilgrim.
An understanding dawns on Maria; that this scene of devout and devil forms the core of Maya’s character, but the devil tugs on its leash as a rougue hound, tearing its noble but weak master to wherever its caprices demand it must go. A similar insight reveals itself to Mathias. Yugioh really is a strange game.
Maria sees another fatal weakness in Maya’s forces: her Cherub; being a Link Monster, it can’t defend itself. “Firewall Dragon, attack Cherub!” The online dragon creates a gateway, then launches from it a deadly virus code to kill the black cherub.
But Maya has more tricks up her nonexistent sleeve, activating, “Absolute King Back Jack! Banishing it from the Graveyard, I excavate my Deck’s top card, and if it’s a Trap Card…” If there is such a thing as the Heart of the Cards, Maya could sure use it now, and she prayed to God/Satan/Buddha/Flying Spaghetti Monster/Great Spirit/Orochi the Neckbeard/The Universe/No One/Whatever it would be the right card. She drew it… “I play Raigeki Break!” She discards a card from her hand, and directs the lightning to destroy her own monster, breaking her black cherub. And as if that isn’t enough, she mills another card due to Valient.
Maya breathes a deep sigh of relieve and winks at Maria, saying, “I needed a lucky break too.”
Maria reluctantly admits that Maya survives another turn. “Blue-Eyes, destroy Dante! Dragon Spirit of White, destroy Graff!” Saint and fiend burn to ash, letting Maya use their effects: Dante forces Maria to discard a card while Graff lets Maya Special Summon Calcabrine, Malebrache of the Burning Abyss, yet another Fiend, to the field. Maria sets two cards, ending her turn, which lets Armityle to return and Scarmiglione, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss to fetch yet another Burning Abyss monster for its master.
MAYA’S TURN: “I activate my facedown Toy Vendor, the one I set facedown two turns ago, then activate Fluffal Wings, banishing itself and Fluffal Bear, and popping Toy Vendor, to draw two cards. Then I use Vendor’s effect to search for Fluffal Dog.”
Now for the turn proper. “I Normal Summon Rubicante, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, and tune it with Calcab to Synchro Summon Dante, Rock Star of the Burning Abyss! And I use its effect to bounce your facedown card.” The red-faced terror and grace-stomper vanish into a white portal so the famous Roman poet descends from Elysium to Earth, and as soon as he does so Maria loses one of her defenses. “I use Destiny Hero – Malicious from the Graveyad, banishing itself to bring out another one from the Deck, then I overlay it and Virgil to bring out a second Beatrice, Lady of ther Eternal!”
As soon as the holy angel finishes her advent, Maya turns her attention to a possible victory, but most likely, as Maya fully knows, a strategic step to burn out her defenses. Not having a backrow of facedown cards did not guarantee a sucessive hit these days. “Armityle, take out Chaos MAX!” The titan combines darkness, fire, and lightning to recreate the dark primeval waters of myth, and pushes them unto Maria’s field as a massive tital wave, threatening to overwhelm everything.
“I play the Hand Trap Soul Desperation!” Maria calls forth a huge black altar, her tone as desperate as her card implies, offering her entire dragon army to the hungry altar, leaving her wide open but increasing her Life enough to withstand the dark waters of Armityle… and the light fires of Beatrice. (Maria LP 4600 → 16600 → 4100) The combined attacks become so strong, Maria is nearly thrown off the arena, only saving herself at the last moment by grabbing the ledge for dear life, dangling like a rag doll. Maria, however, is lucky enough not to have endured having her ribs broken, her flesh bruised, or her conscience racked with stress and guilt; and she gets back to fight with a resiliance that even impresses Maya.
Maya even comments, “This is probably the longest, most high level, most exciting duel I ever had. I will kill Stella if she doesn’t deliver a duel at least as good as yours.”
“Assuming you win.” Maya says, chastizing Maya for her arrogance.
“Don’t get your hopes up. I claimed a huge field advantage after much struggle. You can drag the duel on until the heat death of the universe, but I will win in the end. Unless you’re Yugi, no amount of ass pulls will save you.”
MARIA’S TURN: “That’s where you’re wrong, Maya. I just drew Dragon’s Mirror, and I play it to banish all three dead Blue-Eyes to Fusion Summon Neo Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon!” Three spirits, dragons of white, merge through a looking glass, and the triple-headed king of dragons manifests from the other side. “Neo Blue-Eyes, attack Armityle!”
Maya, at most expressing mild surprise, defends herself with ease. “I activate Beatrice, to mill another Farfarello, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, and use its effect to banish your dragon this turn.” And Maya’s goblin grabs hold of the dragon, transorting itself and the gigantic beast far away from the battlefield.
Frustrated, Maria moves on to a second plan. “I play Melody of Awakening Dragon. I discard a card and add 2 High Level dragons to my hand. I end my turn.” Maria knows she’s on the ropes. Yes, she has a powerful monster, and more Life, and only needs to hit Maya with one attack to win the duel, but she feels as if she is losing. “Why?” She thinks to herself, but she soon understands. Maya’s Deck is, ironically, more consistent. She knows how to access her entire Deck at a given point. Maria can only make her hand bigger.
Maya, on the other hand, knows it is time to make her true assault, now Maria was vulnerable enough to penetrate. She suspected Maria’s fatal weakness for a long time, but only now, in this duel, could she say for certain. “It makes perfect sense now.” Maya pretends to speak to herself, just loud enough for Maria to hear her.
“What do you mean?” Maria asks.
“At first I thought you used a Blue-Eyes Deck simply because you weren’t creative, but it is obvious that you are creative and intelligent, too much so to practically netdeck Kaiba. I wondered why, and thought of the drunk fun we had together last year, and it dawned on me. You truly love Kaiba and want him to love you in return, but your frustration will last forever. It’s desperate. It’s pathetic. You have ‘Please notice me, sempai!’ writ all over you.”
“Quiet!” Maria shouts more loudly than she ever shouted in her entire life. “Enough of your lies, you fiend! You manipulative, callous, destructive…” Maria summons the most hateful word she can think of. “Jerk!”
“Yes, I’m a cocksure sarcastic b**** who is as funny as Amy Shumer, I know.” Maya assures her. “But I know that pain; I felt it with Yukio.” And she feels it with Sophia, but she doesn’t say it. “All you can do is stand strong on your two feet, and you certainly can, Maria. Kisara is, for all intents and purposeses, Kaiba’s companion cube, but you are not Kisara, and even if by some wierd accident of reincarnation you are, you are far stronger than that. Don’t be the innocent waif possessed by the dragon, be the dragon!”
Maria remains unmoved, at least at the surface. “As if a left-handed compliment isn’t bad enough, you now condescend to me.”
“Hey, it’s your life.” Maya shrugs. “If you want to depend on someone else for your happiness, that’s your problem, but have no illusions. You will be no better than the millions of girlfriends and wives abused every day, and as someone who was abused, I can assure you there is nothing romantic about a moody, jealous boyfriend.”