AUTHOR’S NOTE: Choreographing duels is still hard, and I wished I filled in the backstories of my characters more in Season Two, but I did not have that vision yet, so I will do it in future chapters. I find my writing throughout Season One and Season Two to be too stilted, serious, and humorless, which hurts it. I want to balance comedy and tragedy, humor and drama, in the best way I can; in the past I was too serious, now I may be too funny. Yes, I’m a pretentious twat, but I one day wish to write real books, not stupid Yugioh fanfics.
Duel 12 – An Axe to Grind
The duel concluded, Tamas sank to the ground, wailing, “How could I lose to some rogue deck noob!”
“I’m disappointed.” Stella admitted to everyone present, no longer bothering to acknowledge Tamas’ existence. “I wished I faced against someone who could actually duel.”
Maya cut Stella’s complaints short by reminding her, “He did come a hair’s width of killing you. Keep that in mind.”
“Please don’t fuel my humiliation even more than it needs to.” Stella no longer had the strength for a verbal joust with her one time lover.
Pegasus was thoroughly amused by the circus act that performed before him but Kaiba had enough; the CEO of Kaibacorp called his bodyguards to clean up the trash; he was tired of seeing garbage in his tournament. Several burly men in dark green suits, their eyes hidden with sunglasses, appeared as if they were hiding underneath them the entire time, soon they hurled Tamas away. Garbage in. Garbage out.
Only Maya and Maria remained to duel, and both finalists took the stage without delay, but they gave a moment’s pause to study one another as if to remind themselves why they hated each other so and how their duel would shape the future of Yugioh’s history as a game and franchise.
Maya used her newfound powers; she reached for the fourth wall and froze time for a brief moment, speaking to you, “Perhaps you would like to know why we hate each other so since the author did not develop our conflict last season due to poor writing. Then allow me to fill you in, ‘dear’ reader.
“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, before George Lucas fucked up his franchise, before the author fucked up this franchise, sometime after Battle City, one class of duelist emerged. As Yugioh became more standardized, a metagame developed, and with it came duelists who ran meta decks. You either ran Chaos Control, Monarchs, or DAD or you lost. Losers never mattered. It is a big country club, and you ain’t in it.
“But – what’s this? – the loser dogs wanted a change. The waiters wondered how they would pay rent. The cooks wished they could feed their kids with better food. The black golf chauffeurs didn’t want so much water drained from their neighborhoods to sprinkle on grass. The Mexican cleaning maids wanted their kids to go to a decent school. And everyone outside the plantation wanted some of that golf course put to good use instead wasting people’s time in a boring game.
“So people used rogue decks, on purpose! Me, JC, Stella and other included. We formed our own little teams, networked with each other on LinkedIn the way Park Slope yuppies do, and viola! We have a new class, a counterculture of rogue duelists, and some of us even got inside the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and sold out. JC, who kept calling me an oreo for having salt and pepper parents, wanted to be David Clarke so bad he tried to crush the loyal, and I put an end to it, then forgave him since his temptation is all too present to we minorities.
“So what does this have to do with Maria Wight, Duchess Whore of Cambridge? In all honestly, she is a good person who cares about those she loves more tenderly than I ever could and has high moral standards on what the world should be like, although our visions are very different; but she is very stuck-up. Kisara was an angel too good for this vulgar world, and so is she. She also reminds me of my nasty 4th grade English teacher: proper, respectable, graceful, dignified, but cold, snobbish, and boring.
“One fine night of wholesome fun; Jolene made amateur porn with Yukio since not even her dad could pay her Sarah Lawrence College tuition, then she got back to me where we ate pot brownies, and we turned on the news to make fun of Katy Perry’s vapid lyrics, Bald Brittany’s mental breakdown, and Justin Timberlake still trying to make sense of him revealing Janet Jackson’s boob at Super Bowl Halftime, where he blinded thousands of innocent children by exposing them to a woman’s nipple.
“Instead, we got this albino bitch talking about Yugioh, and I hoped this would be my day off. – A game is fun when you play it only for fun, not so much when you use it to make a living. – Maria, the albino bitch in question, said, as I recall, the following, with a lofty air of dignity: ‘The Yugioh game is falling far away from it’s old roots. Dueling used to value honor and duelists’ pride as the prime virtues of the age, and the market is moving so fast in printing new cards and banning old ones the game could collapse into ruin.’
“I agreed with her so far, but soon we parted ways in opinion, for I a smelled something rotten at this point, and it wasn’t the stale moldy pizza but Maria’s late 19th century pretenses: ‘Duelists have degenerated from warriors into professionals; the game reduced to celebrity, career, and politics. Any so-called rogue duelist with a functioning brain can wield a legendary monster, no longer the few worthy chosen, as it were, by the primal force of Destiny. I blame the duelists such as Maya Brook and Mathias Blackheart most for this decline, for purposefully assaulting our best and brightest duelists, even crushing their pride and careers in their victories; such was Matthew Carter’s fate under Maya’s combat boot, a fine man who didn’t have to meet his demise in this way.’
“’Some people complain about netdecking and meta decks, how they have no skill and so forth. That is a lie; of course they do. I’m in fact glad we have netdecking because it keeps only the strongest duelists with the strongest decks intact and stops the game from declining any further. Rogue duelists take away real competition from the game and replace it with inferior dueling. They have no right to bash duelists who take the game seriously and thus succeed. If you want to win, duel the right way.’
“I burst into laughter at this point, almost expecting Maria to expound on the Great Man Theory or mention the words ‘democracy’ and ‘Idiocracy’ in the same sentence. The interviewer – who was Maximus by the way – tried to steer the discussion to more nuanced terms, but I my very existence caused Maria’s dignified façade to crack, just a little bit, she fell into condemning me, presuming to know all the secrets of my heart. ’Maya’s behavior is disgusting. That whore sleeps with anyone she wants, incapable of sensitivity, never in her life having a pure deep love affair. She pushes through and manipulates anyone to get what she wants, and to hell with the consequences! While she is good with humor and ridicule, those are talents reflecting a frivolous mind; incompatible with older, more serious souls.’
“OH NO SHE DI’N’T! I nearly choked on my beer out of amusement and I was baked at this point, but I still got mad; this tedious Romantic was mildly annoying, until now when she roused me to fury. She could call me a whore all she wanted as whoring is the oldest and noblest profession in human history, call me a degenerate as I was a libertine who paid no serious mind to such moldy prudish morals, imply I was an alpha bitch as it was a label to be proud of, even treat a children’s card game with deathly seriousness.
“But to attack humor and satire; the lulz itself; to put shame on Thalia, one of the Muses who together redeem human suffering in the endless cold black stormy ocean that is universe? Unforgivable! I resolved that very night to crusade in vengeance against this mortal nemesis of the lulz, to show her how much of a troll I could be, to make her die the most humiliating death!
“Jolene prompted with her gentle arm, advising caution to me, ‘But Maya, vengeance is not the way, as it only hurts yourself. Negative energy clogs your chakras and disrupts your bodily harmonies. Please take blue cooling crystal and breath deep with me. Kumbaya, kumbaya, hare hare Krishna…’ Her new age nonsense only inflamed me more. I pulled the yoga mat from under her, figuratively and literally, and formed a convoluted scheme on the spot that would take months to fulfill so I could have my vengeance and drive home my dissent against Maria for the whole world to see.
“’But isn’t your scheme really petty? And what of your college education, protests, and donation campaigns?’ Jolene reminded me, to which I retorted, ‘We’re famous important people! Petty bullshit is what we do! As for my schedule, I’ll book it!’
“So I carried my pointless scheme to fruition; I created the persona of a brownnosing fan, most fitting as she was brownnosing Kaiba himself, and stroked her ego by telling her lies she wanted to hear while couching her vulgar and ignorant prejudices in the most aristocratic tone of voice. She wanted to know who my persona really was and meet me in person, either because she was suspicious of me or she was a gullible loser with low self-esteem, or the odd fusion of both, and invited me to a party in Kaiba’s mansion on April 1st.
“I knew it would only be a matter of time before she figured out I was tricking her the entire time, but I wanted to cause the whole fiasco to blow up in the way I desired. So how does Spongebob make a fool out of an old fuddy-duddy like Squidward or a belligerent miser like Mr. Krabbs? I needed the help of a Patrick Star, and Jolene willfully played the part; even she had to get in on the action. We dressed up in fancy dresses and masks, passing off as vapid celebrities from Beverly Hills. We also recruited Yukio to play the part of a celebrity reporter, and some random loser named Fujita to hold a camera and broadcast it on a YouTube channel.
“Positions set, battalions ready, fore! We invaded Maria, alone, without her heroic savior to protect her, introducing ourselves as Hollywood Celebrities, and began our friendly chat. The grave damsel had the discretion to be suspicious at first, but I buttered her up the same way I did on social media, and within a short time a few jokes, gossip, and cocktail drinks suckered her in. Jolene broached the topic of Yugioh and rogue duelists – Maria slipped a bit – and I ramped up the debate, attacking Stella, Mathias, and Maya in the third person in ever more vulgar ways. Once Maria became drunk and aroused enough to explode, Yukio turned Fujita’s video recorder towards her to capture the train wreck in all its glory.
“Maria aired all her resentment, like it was dirty laundry, into full view, delivering a monologue Ayn Rand would have enjoyed, ‘Screw political correctness, I gotta’ get this shit out! Rogue duelists are fucking scrubs not good enough to play the game and antimeta duelists are butthurt fags who hate the game and want to destroy it! And you know how those stinkin’ looters act; like fucking martyrs of ‘creativity’! HAH! Like a failed modern artist is ‘creative’! A loser dog is a loser dog no matter what he does, and his dueling proves it! Poor people fucking complain so much about how they can’t compete, they can’t get good enough cards! Well if you fucking degenerates worked hard enough instead of robbing stores, smoking crack, and invading my country to breed white people out of existence you could! The natural laws of competition and economics make it so! Some people are superior to others – what’s wrong in admitting that? – and not everyone will make it no matter how much you dumb down schools and jobs!
“Me and Jolene mockingly wondered if loser dogs begat poverty of if poverty begat loser dogs, and I was tempted to ridicule the drunken Maria further by prompting her to solve her own chicken-or-the-egg riddle, but she pwned herself with fresh material of her own. As usual among drunks, wails followed rages, and Beata Maria was no different. And did she bitterly complain, ‘I just don’t understand Seto sometimes! He claims he loves me like the world but he’s as cold in love as in money! He only told me I was beautiful once, and it was as stilted as an Anakin-Padme dialogue! And he can barely get hard or touch me right or make me feel like a woman, like he only gets hard playing Blue-Eyes White Dragon in Attack Position! Or when making his new gadgets – does he screw a robot waifu or something!’
“Not only did I tear away her lofty veil to reveal her opinions for what they truly were, she sabotaged Kaiba’s image in the most intimate way, thus killing two birds with one stone. But our victory was short-lived. Kaiba, the stern bulldog, rushed to save his damsel; he tore away my mask and Jolene’s. ‘How dare you ridicule me and my fiancé; no one attacks the Kaiba family and gets away with it!’
“’Hold your horses. You didn’t marry her yet.’ I reminded him, enjoying myself as I pushed his berserk button.
“He lost all control, lunging at my face, barking like a military officer, ‘I’ll kill you, worthless scum! You snake – no, worm – on the face of the earth!’ I dodged his punch but Jolene was not so lucky; he bloodied her nose. His strike at Jolene pricked my heart with pain and anger. I started at Kaiba to retaliate but the CEO was a trained master in Krav Maga; he smashed me on a table, splitting the table in two. By this time, real reporters and broadcasting crew arrived, their cameras flashing brilliant white from every anger it burned dark holes in my vision and nearly gave me a seizure.
“I knew exactly what Kaiba would do next. Every grown man settled his disputes by playing a children’s card game, and Kaiba was the white knight defending his lady’s honor. – I confess, I an intense envy burned in my heart at that moment. No one ever loved me as much. – There was no way I could survive a duel against Kaiba at this point nor did I have any score to settle with him; instead I declared, ‘Maria, I challenge you to a duel!’
“Maria answered, ‘Yes! Now!’ Kaiba protested the duel since we were both drunk and furious at each other, but Maria silenced him, calling upon Kaiba’s guards to get her duel disk. I readied my own, for I was prepared with any event that could happen, instant dueling included. We fought each other hard until Maria noticed that I copied her deck, card by card, which did not take very long.
“Maria was furious, ’How dare you netdeck me!’
“’What?’ I replied in sarcasm, ‘I thought netdeckers were good for the game by stopping so-called degenerates like me from ruining it. It can’t be you hate them now I use their tactics against you.’
“Maria burst into sobs, yelling, ‘You’re also a hypocrite, Maya. You like playing the part of the rebel all right with your studied rudeness; you hate the meta and all the dueling world but you need both to stay relevant. Once the meta is gone, once you kick all the traces, you will have no more purpose in life.’ I understood everything she said but accepted it; to think I could accept that biter pill at this moment.
“The poor girl’s body was too innocent of alcohol to process the dose putting her in a delirium. She vomited all over the floor in utter ruin; my victory was glorious. I had revealed Maria’s hypocrisy to the entire world, hammering the final nail in the coffin. Mission accomplished. – At the same time I wondered if this was how Bakura felt carrying out his schemes, searching for the weakest spot to strike the enemy, hammering out every step of the plan to the last detail. I clearly mastered the art by this point but I still sometimes thought, ‘How tedious all this is!’
“Kaiba, who was sober, understood fully what happened. He smashed Fujita’s video recorder on the floor; Fujita ran like a coward and our machine was broken, but the damage was done. He called his personal guards to arrest Jolene, Yukio, and me this instant, something he had full power to do as he practically owned all of Domino City. Running away from Matthew’s goons years ago gave us much experience, so outpacing Kaina’s henchmen was easy. We sped away in our cheap rental car, clumsily singing with the loud rap music, living fast and ready to die young:
Swimmin’ laps around a bottle of Louis the XIII,
Jumping off of a mountain into a sea of Codeine,
I’m at the top of the top but still I climb,
And if I should ever fall the ground will then turn to wine,
Pop-pop, pop-pop, I feel like flying,
Then I feel like frying, then I feel like dying.
“And we crashed into the busiest intersection of the city. It was truly a shame I didn’t die, because I passed out in jail and the next thing I saw was Stella, who had flown to Japan just to bail me out. She said grimly, ‘You paid for my mother’s cancer treatment. I paid for your bail. We’re even.’
“I tried explaining everything to Stella, my obsession with revenge, my plot, my intensions, but Stella would have none of it, as if I could have justified myself anyway. She shut me down, ‘And what were you exactly trying to prove; that you’re a giant hypocritical idiot too? Our relationship is over Maya. You and the two clowns you call friends are free. Now get out and do a human centipede,’
“Yukio whistled and howled in laughter just at the thought of remembering what had happened last night. ‘Whoa! Man, that was sweeeeeeeeet!’
“Stella had none of it. ‘Seriously, you all, grow the fuck up!’
“And that was how Stella and me parted ways. It wasn’t until I was sober, literally and figuratively, that I understood how cruel and pointless my prank was, feeling bitter remorse, yet I could not let go of my feelings of vindictive satisfaction. Both our reputations we tarred black and it took a full year to wash it all away; Maria accused of racism and I accused of jealous queen bee sabotage. I had even planned to deliver a sob story about how Maria made me feel less of a person and hurt young women everywhere, to ridicule naïve progressives as well as elitist snobs to make the circle complete, and because I felt like it, but there was no point to it.
Kaiba, who like me could not suffer his pride scorned, tried to grind me down with endless lawsuits and have me banned from dueling forever, but Maria must have seen me as a skilled and worthy duelist in spite of everything I did to her because she offered me a plea bargain in a supreme act of forgiveness. I accepted; I was banned from dueling for six months and took down the offensive video from the Internet, and we both gave public apologies. We were civil thereafter; never again did I publicly insult her or scrap at her again as a spotted hyena in return for her kindness, but we carry distain for each other to this day.
“And that, my friend, is how my hatred of Maria started and my relationship ended. Killed two birds with one stone, huh.”
As Maya prepared to duel Maria for the last time, she now understood it was not Maria she truly hated but her father, who embodied Maria’s cold distain.
Maya’s father once told his only child, after he lost his prestigious job of his own fault and mother was dying of lung cancer, both blows forcing the family to live in a Manhattan project building, in a fit after his young daughter who, with a frenzied mind, an aching heart, and with no one to turn to, got into a huge fight with another child at school; he said to her, “You good for nothing brat, you are unworthy even of my punishment.” And when Maya saw her sick and bald mother, weeping over the phone after hearing her family still disowned her for marrying outside the Islamic faith, and came to embrace and comfort her, her mother sighed in sorrow, “You ruined my life.”
There was nothing Maya could have done with her parents but she could put their ghosts to rest, and she would do that by dueling Maria with basic fairness and charity. No matter what Maria did, she would keep composure. This simple approach, not the grandiose silly image of gamers as chivalrous warriors, was what the honor of the duelist truly was, if such a thing even existed.