Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 30

Duel 30 – Deal With the Devil

Threatened, Maya flipped the switch to her hotel room, revealing the intruder. “Xiaoyi! What are you doing here?” Maya exclaimed in shock.

“I’m here to give you an offer you can’t refuse.” Xiaoyi answered with a kind smile. “Please, sit down.”

Maya shut the door behind her, astonished. “You can’t be serious.” She said to herself. “You are the greater-scope villain after all, the one who secretly pulled the strings behind the entire tournament. Even I couldn’t count the number of plot holes in your scheme.”

“Well, Matthew did let the cat out of the bag. I should have chosen someone with more to lose, then he would be quiet.”

Maya pounced on Xiaoyi as a lion does on its prey, pinning the woman to the wall, chocking her so hard Maya bore marks on her fair skin with her nails. Xiaoyi did not flinch so much as blaze with bright light for an instant the way a Millennium Item does. The blow easily sent Maya across the room, crashing her against the wall so hard the wall cracked. Maya hung in mid air, petrified by the curse.

Xiaoyi hovered near Maya in a carefree manner, amused. “What a brave girl you are to challenge me, even after fathoming my powers. I understand my revelation and the trials I gave you were stressful, but touch me again and I will kill you in the blink of an eye.” And Xiaoyi let Maya down, who collapsed to the floor, doubling in pain, and opened the window, enjoying the spring breeze. “Shall we do business?”

Maya had no choice to admit she had to agree to Xiaoyi’s terms. She could not challenge Xioayi and she was sure Xiaoyi would incinerate her or something just as bad if she tried running away. “What do you want from me?”

“I want a partner. I want you to help me destroy civilization.”

“What?” Maya could not believe this. “I never took you for the anarcho-primitivist type. Why would you want to such a thing anyway? I want to know more about your involvement in Egypt. How did you manage to orchestrate the whole thing besides using dark magic Egyptian powers? You want me to be your partner, then tell me the truth!” But Maya knew she could not take anything Xiaoyi said at face value. That would be stupid in the extreme.

Xiaoyi sat on the bed, inviting Maya to the same. “First things first: I don’t think I need to tell you that democracy in America, or anywhere else, is a sham. Gernand de Laclose was the Executive Director of the one of branches of the World Bank Group. I was an employee before I promptly killed him, and took his place. Explaining how I climbed so high up the corporate ladder at such a young age involves a tedious history of lying and bribes I would rather not get into. I even make myself look far older when on the job because I doubt my ‘colleagues’ would trust a twenty-six your old with the world’s affairs.

“The World Bank can finance almost any country it wants. It ostensibly exists to aid developing countries and what have you. It is made of five subdivisions, each subdivision run by a board of directors, whose members agree on an action before it is passed. Getting what you want is not as difficult as you think despite such bureaucratic obstacles. Banks around the world put sticky fingers in each other’s pockets and get chummy with superpowers and mega corporations all the time. The rulers of mankind are many different people, but we all protect each others’ interests. It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it.”

Maya demanded, “I know how banks and big business work. Get to the point already.”

“Alright. kiddo.” Xiaoyi winked at her naïve pupil. “Gernand and me funded Heishin Mubarak through ostensibly funding the Egyptian government, and we even got some help from the CIA while at it too, which gave weapons to the Ghouls and Heishin’s army. I gave Heishin and Matthew some magic as icing on the cake. You killed them both, so I’m a bit low on peons.”

Maya skeptically raised an eyebrow. “I find that hard to believe. What was the point of it all?”

“I told Heishin about the Book of Isis, so he would waste his time finding a mystical artifact. Matthew just wanted to kill you, which was motivation enough, I guess. Either way, the MacGuffin itself isn’t that important; the point was test everyone to find a future partner. Whoever won the treasure hunt would be mine, and, since you found Egypt’s ultimate Easter Egg, you won. Congratulations!”

Xiaoyi gave Maya her outstretched hand. “Produce the Book for me. I know you have it. You wouldn’t dare leave it with anyone else, even your husband.”

Maya reluctantly handed Xiaoyi the great Book; there was no getting around her. Xiaoyi flipped through the razor thin emerald pages, delighted the Book revealed its secrets to her.

“Do you not know the history of this book?” Xiaoyi asked, and when Maya shook her head, Xiaoyi answered. “In legend, Isis herself wrote this book; the goddess was Egypt’s supreme magic user who even knew Ra’s secret name. Long after that, the great demon god Zorc influenced scribes to copy parts of the book to produce a secondhand volume, the Millennium Tome. Long after that, around the Amenhotep Dynasty, Akhenaten deciphered the Tome, using the knowledge he learned to create the Millennium Items. The rest is history.”

“So the Book of Isis tells you how to create Millennium Items, or recreate them.” Maya concluded.

“Indeed.” Xiaoyi pointed to what looked like footnote at the bottom of an emerald page. “Slay ninety-nine humans; smelt gold for seven days, adding the bodies of your victims into the recipe; create Millennium Items; profit. I learned almost all dark magic from Gernand, but with this Book I can complete my powers and teach them to you.”

Maya asked, “What makes you think I will say yes? Why would you want to destroy civilization? You are profiting from civilization very well.”

Xiaoyi gently sighed. “The same reason you are annoyed at being King of Games. I doubt you want to keep playing a boring children’s card game. You are all too aware how powerless you truly are in changing the world, how useless it is in trying to change the system while working within it; your cynical behavior during your career betrays the fact. And don’t give any of that I-marched-with-activist-groups-and-gave-donations crap. Your many comments, sparsed here and there over the years, reveal your disillusionment. You want to really change the world? Join me.”

“I decline.” Maya stated flatly. “I can manage on my own.”

But Xiaoyi would not relent. “Let’s play a game; not a shadow game, a normal trifling game. If you were president of the world, and you could implement any policies you wanted, what would you do?”

Maya took a while to think things through, then summarized her thoughts, “I would take away all the money and power I can away from big business and give it back to the American people. Big business will have to pay most of the taxes; money will go back to government services (the usual stuff like education, healthcare, roads et cetera), and welfare programs can slowly work to rebuild America’s middle class, and help pull people out of debt and poverty. Crooked bankers and CEO, like you Xiaoyi, would be jailed or executed for treason. Universities, prisons, and banks will no longer be privately owned.

“I know one hole in this plan. America and all first world nations have so much wealth because they plundered other parts of the world for centuries. Well, I imagine I can slowly undo that while fixing things at home. Once America becomes a good enough nation, we can slowly give back to third world countries by investing in them. We build their government and education and infrastructure and so on, and in turn they become our allies and partners. It will take a long time, but it could balance out the inequality.”

Xiaoyi listened to Maya in rapt attention, taking everything she said seriously. Xiaoyi said, “Very good. I used to think the same thing, but it won’t work. Here’s why: the vile CEOs will never give up their power without a violent revolution, and neither will the government because the two are one. Europe is no utopia, least of all because, at bottom, corporate masters still rule their servants; they sheathe their iron fist in a leather glove. Even if you have your way, your government will not last, because it will still be capitalism and a civilization, and both cannot last by their very nature.

“Look around you, Maya: the buildings, roads, cars, laptop, Internet, everything. We get it all by taking more resources from the earth than we can return. Once we run out of oil, coal, trees, and iron, the whole infrastructure will collapse. We dug ourselves into our graves; first by building the whole system on cheap fuel, then by meshing everything into one big system that draws all its powers from a few resources. The earth is the lifeblood to the whole system, but the earth is dying.

“It will take millennia to repair all the damage. We don’t have millennia, and even if we did, the masters of mankind would never do it. They would lose their power doing so, and they are so busy oppressing the rest of humanity to keep the system in check they would never have the time and energy anyway. Renewable resources won’t work, because they’re not efficient enough to replace old energy, and just making them burns ever more fuel to kill the planet. You’re scheme is noble, but it cannot work.”

Maya put her hands on head, shaking her head. She knew all of these uncomfortable facts but buried them for a long time, knowing they nullified almost everything she did. She suspected that liberal movements in the first world were a sham to some degree or another, but she stopped herself from knowing the full truth.

Still, Maya would not lose the game so easily. She forcefully said, “I don’t believe in your fatalist Decline of the West bullshit. We always have a choice when faced with challenges, and how we respond to them determines our future. Did you ever think how many millions – no, billions – of people would die if we carried out your scheme? You and me would be remembered as the vilest human beings in all of history, and justly so.”

Maya’s energetic rebuttal made Xiaoyi gently smirk; she had a lot of spunk! Xiaoyi persisted still, “I don’t care if you believe in Spengler or Toynbee; civilization will die no matter what we do. But we have a choice in how we can die. We can turn the crash into a gentle landing, but that would mean persuading the very people who will never listen to the likes of you. We orchestrate the crash and get it done over with in a few decades, stopping nuclear war while we are it. Or we can let everyone die from a long, agonizing decline, only to finished off by nukes. Are you so afraid of your reputation; to be a good guy even if everyone dies? The choice is yours.”

Xiaoyi clasped Maya’s with her own, and revealed one future to Maya: The earth prospers under Maya’s scheme. War and disease are no more, and all human beings rejoice. They develop machine technology more and more, merging with the machines into androids, then lose all physical bodies to live in a machine supercomputer in space that draws its nature from the sun. All human life from every era of history exists within this program, each human within his little universe. Twelve superhuman gods manage the entire matrix, but each thousand years the computer gets closer and closer to crashing. One day, it crashes within one seven thousandth of a second, and all human life is deleted. 

Xiaoyi shows Maya another branch of time: Mankind prospers once more, as Yugioh is taken to its highest level. Momentum is created, a perpetual motion machine powering all of society, allowing a phenomenon called riding duels to exist. But power corrupts; and human beings once more become wicked. Momentum, becoming sentient over the centuries, manifests monsters in real life, embodiments of the evil within people’s hearts, using them to terrorize humanity. Later, Momentum reverses, and all human infrastructures implode. All life on the planet becomes extinct. 

Xiaoyi reveals to Maya several more visions, all leading to the death of the human race. Then Xiaoyi reveals her last vision, a small extent of her power: A young woman bursts from the surface of a large river in a black forest, naked and clutching a fish in her hands. She tears off the fish’s flank and swallows it raw, before throwing it before a morbidly obese man. Later, that man, her master, is kidnapped, and the woman transforms into a huge, terrifying black dragon with fiery red eyes, with some reassures of a large bat. The dragon decimates an entire military base, recuing her master, before returning to human form. She promptly knocks the obese man out, quick to wipe out all his short term memory with magic so he would forget ever seeing her with such power, even giving a tiny morsel of it.

The two women returned to the humble hotel room. Maya fell to her knees, devastated, barely able to absorb all she saw. Xiaoyi’s spirit Ka was something Maya had never seen before or could even comprehend until now.

“Why?” Maya croaked in a coarse voice. She did not believe that Xiaoyi cared for humankind. Not one bit. She nonchalantly caused the deaths of thousands of Egyptians and tens of duelists, with the arrogance of a god. Why would she care now? Lastly, Maya asks, “What is your endgame?”

“I do because I can.” Xiaoyi stated, and then revealed to Maya her final plans.

Maya at last understood. Xiaoyi was insane. Yet Maya still insisting on challenging her enemy, despite that she witnessed her strength. Perhaps Maya always needed to thumb her nose at authority since childhood. “But why?”

Xiaoyi, irritated with such a stupid question, made what was perhaps the biggest mistake of her life. She said, “Do I need to give you more incentives? I cannot let you leave alive if you refuse to join me. I revealed too much. Know this: I have all the time in the world to find another partner, and I have other candidates around the world who can take your place. If you don’t join me, someone else will.”

Maya saw within Xiaoyi a deep darkness, not just Xiaoyi’s darkness, but her own, and the darkness of the entire human race. No one could stand against that darkness, unless Maya conquered the darkness from within. Maya or Sophia could only challenge Xiaoyi once they learned her secrets. Xiaoyi had indeed tested Maya well, but not in the way she thought.

“Yes.” Maya whispered softly, surrendering.

“I can’t hear you.”

“Yes.” Maya assented, louder this time. “I accept. I will join you.”

“Bravo!” Xiaoyi clapped her hands together; her dark murderous features instantly vanished, and she now seemed an innocent little girl. “Gernand and me spent over a decade preparing for our fateful day. I merely need to tweak a few little things and we’re all set. You, Maya, are the final piece to the figurative Millennium Puzzle. I could not be more proud of you.”

And she handed Maya a tiny note. “You will see coordinates to a location within Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Be there by next week, or I will find and kill you wherever you are. As I say once more, the choice is yours. Sweet dreams.” And she left the hotel room, leaving Maya stranded.

—————————————–

Maya reunited with Yukio and her baby boy at the end of the weekend. They spoke of how happy they would be, their plans together, a house they could one day buy, the day Narmer would walk for the first time, sending Narmer to school, attending parent-teacher conferences, paying for Narmer’s college, celebrating many Christmases to come together with Jolene, JC, and Sophia as family.

All this talk nearly made Maya weep in despair. None of it would ever come to pass. She would abandon everyone to save the human race from Xiaoyi, a devil in a woman’s body. There was no way she could make them understand, so she kept quiet. The couple spent their last day together at Central Park on May 23, celebrating Yukio’s twenty-fourth birthday, enjoying every moment in happiness. It was the best final gift Maya could ask for.

Past midnight, in that fateful morning, Maya quietly packed her bags, kissing Yukio one last time while he lay sleeping. Baby Narmer awoke, and so Maya cradled her son one last time, rocking him to sleep, singing to him the songs mother sang to her when she was a child. Once Narmer went to sleep, she laid him in his cradle, and kissed him one last time.

Sometime later, Maya visited Sophia’s hotel room in New York City, and told Sophia everything; all the coming darkness of night. Sophia remained skeptical at first, but when she say Maya cry she knew Maya was telling the truth. Maya offered her hand to Sophia. Only together could they defeat the darkness. Sophia accepted, and packed her bags. Together, the two women stole into the night.

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Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 27

THE CLIMAX OF 3 YEARS OF WORK HAS COME!

Duel 27 – The Hero Comes Full Circle

MAYA: 6500 | MATTHEW: 1500

MAYA’S TURN: “I activate Dante, milling 3 cards. I normal summon Tour Guide From the Underworld and use its effect to special summon Rubic, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss.” Arriving from the underworld, a trolley drops off a comely little stewardess with red hair and a horned demon around the same size. “I activate Preparation of Rites, returning a ritual spell from my graveyard to my hand and adding a ritual monster from my deck. I play Good & Evil of the Burning Abyss, offering Tour Guide and Rubic to ritual summon Malacoda, Netherlord of the Burning Abyss!”

Matthew, observing the chief of the Malebranche arrive, speculates that Maya must have used Beatrice to mill Good & Evil. He thinks Maya may have milled it randomly with Dante, but he knows better. His opponent is a true woman, a true black, a true Russian, a true Jew; whatever mud the mongrel is made of. The thought reminds him of his Cuban mother, but thinking of even that pale woman gives him shame.

Maya remains unknowing and uncaring of Matthew’s hidden shame; she had gathered all her materials. She cried, “I banish Dante the Pilgrim, Malacoda, Dante the Traveler, and Spadiovolo, to bring forth GOLDEN GOD PHOENIX!” A chasm opens from the ground, and all Maya’s monsters fall into the fiery pit. The god beneath, devouring the offerings, finds the taste to its liking, and so rises from the depths to greet its master.

Pegasus chastises Maya, “It’s about time you summoned your god card! I know the element of surprise is fabulous and all, but goddamn did you need until the eleventh hour!”

Maya snarls, her bare teeth something a dragon would recognize as a smile, her eyes glaring with savage light. “Golden God Phoenix, destroy his dragon!” The two colossal monsters smash into each other, their struggle erupting a cyclone of golden fire. Everyone ducks for cover, except Kaiba, who gazes at the fight: stupefied, making a distorted grin, his whole body convulsed in orgasm.

Rex and Weevil hide as turtles do in their shells. “I just peed a little.” The pathetic Weevil whimpers, and he didn’t lie.

“Idiot!” Matthew shouts at Maya over the maelstrom, “I banish a dragon in my graveyard to protect Golden God Dragon!” And with his words, his dragon won the fight, burning away the golden phoenix it battled.

Maya retorts, “You know what a phoenix does, don’t you? Use your common sense! I banish a fiend from my graveyard to revive Golden God Phoenix!” And with her words, the mighty undead beast rises from the fiery pit once more. “Phoenix, battle his dragon again!”

The two titans smash each other once more. Each time Matthew saved his dragon and Maya’s phoenix died, Maya resurrected it and battled yet again. Matthew understands the infernal woman’s plot, but too late, spending the last dragon in his graveyard to protect his god. Maya, however, still had a rich store of dead fiends to fuel her god.

Maya declares yet another attack, making sure Matthew’s golden dragon is destroyed for good, but Matthew doesn’t let it happen! “I play Negate Attack!” Thus ending the engagement. Maya lets out a hoarse sigh, and sets two cards facedown.

“Seriously, how many more god cards will you make?” Kaiba gripes to Pegasus.

“As many I want, because I am God.” Pegasus says.

MATTHEW’S TURN: “I play Pot of Cupidity! I banish 10 cards from my deck to draw 2!” It is a desperate move, and Matthew knows it.

The young man shakes his head, “Oh, Maya, the irony. When we first dueled you were truly the underdog, but how easily you changed all that. Do you still think yourself a rebel, a fighter of the people? I hope not. At bottom, you’re a tyrant.”

This news shocks Maya a little bit. “What?”

“You’re a queen bee, an alpha bitch, a bitch in sheep’s clothing. Can I say more? Yes, you grew up in public housing on the lower east side, and you joined a ragtag posse of rebels, you can’t change your nature. Had you lived as I did, you would be Regina George. I watched your every move for the last four years. You wasted your money, hopped from boy toy to boy toy, destroying the career of every female rival.”

Maya wearies of this conversation. “Look, you creepy loser, how I choose to live is not your business, even if you watch me in the shower. I gave prize money to many nonprofits as well as to booze; every man I boned knew what he was getting into; and I defeated all my female opponents fair and square.”

“But worse, Maya, you’re a killer. Oh yes! I know what you did! Xiaoyi told me! You killed Heishin! You’re a murderer, a criminal, a thug! A stone cold killer! When this tournament is over, you will be arrested, tried for crimes against humanity!”

Maya, though keeping a straight face, begins to crack underneath. She can’t understand why killing a dictator and saving thousands of lives would haunt her. Perhaps because she did killed a man, something she never thought possible. Perhaps because she killed a man so coldly, an act so simple and decisive: as if she flipped a switch. Perhaps because, by killing Heishin, she truly understood the consequences of her actions in a way most people never learn.

Maya liked thinking of herself as a devil, a fiery person who broke the rules, laughing at the fools around her while she did so. But was she truly a devil, a real devil?

Matthew leaves her to think about it, long and hard. “I activate Future Fusion, milling 5 dragons. I set a card. You’re move.”

MAYA’S TURN: “Golden God Phoenix, attack his dragon!” It is still strange for a woman to court a man, and with so much fervor, but the struggle began once more. Maya and Matthew burn through their recourses.

Matthew rekindles his fuel. “I activate Buriel from the Different Dimension, returning 3 banished dragons to my graveyard!” The monsters collide once more until Maya is forced to banish a fiend from her hand to revive her phoenix for the umpteenth time. That is how Matthew knows she is low.

Maya admits as much, saying softly, “I set a monster and end my turn.” Matthew can hear her lose confidence with ever word she spoke, and it makes him giddy.

MATTHEW’S TURN: “I enter the standby phase, meaning I fusion summon Five God Dragon!” The great dragon bursts into existence out of nowhere, fully formed with five terrible heads made of different elements. “I activate Pump Up, doubling the ATK of my Golden God Dragon.”

Maya lurches back, what little confidence she has left snuffed out. “I have a bad feeling about this.”

“Quote Star Wars all you want in Hell! Golden God Dragon, destroy her facedown monster!” Maya’s monster, though unknown to Matthew, easily dies either way. “Now my golden dragon, destroy her golden phoenix!” Matthew’s dragon, blazing with an outstanding 8000 ATK, completely annihilates Maya’s phoenix. (MAYA LP 6500 à 2500).

The spiraling blaze falls on Maya with all its weight, burning her skin and clothes, the force blasting her off the arena. Maya never endured so much pain in her life. She coughs blood, her already broken ribs stabbing her with the force of a thousand hot serrated knives while new ribs broke. Facedown on the floor, Maya nearly blacks out from the pain.

Too many moments of torture pass, Maya unmoving. Kaiba, unmoved, orders Isono to begin a boxing count. Isono readily obeys, announcing, “If Marina Bozuslowsky does not rise within eight seconds, Matthew Carter shall be declared the winner! ONE!”

“TWO!”

“THREE!”

“FOUR!”

“FIVE!”

“SIX!”

“SEVEN!”

Maya remembers all her friends, waiting for her back home, counting on her: Yukio, Jolene, JC, Sophia, especially Sophia. She cannot lose now. She loses all care of her pain; thinking of it merely as weakness leaving the body, she summons the strength to stand up.

“EIGHT!”

Maya stands on very shaky ground, or is it her legs? Either way, she survived, hobbling back up the arena.

Matthew laughs at how stupid Maya looks. “You look really, really bad. I’m glad you stood up. I want nothing than to utterly defeat you. Five God Dragon, knock Maya down, forever!”

“I activate the monster you destroyed: Fiendfyre! I banish it and a FIRE monster from my graveyard!”

“And you will destroy my dragon and my life! Oh no, whatever shall I do!” Matthew gloats. “I banish Skill Prisoner from my graveyard to protect Five God Dragon!” Thus Maya’s fiery bullet bounces off Matthew’s dragon, leaving not so much as a scratch. “Let’s continue! My dragon, destroy her!”

All five of the dragon’s heads assault Maya with the four elements, but Maya uses all her strength to keep her ground. “I activate Dimension Exchange! I banish Golden God Phoenix from my Graveyard!” Her phoenix flies from the grave, rockets through the colorful fireworks from Matthew’s dragon, binds to the five-headed beast, then burns itself and its prey away.

Matthew grunts, disappointed. How persistent! Two turns later, Maya will revive Five-Headed Dragon to her field.

MAYA’S TURN: “Golden God Phoenix is banished during my standby phase, meaning I special summon my banished Malacoda!” The demon leader returns and, turning its real towards Matthew, makes a trumpet of its ass. Maya flips Matthew off to drive the point home.

“I set a card and end my turn.” Maya wears her proud and confidant mask, as always, yet beneath she writhes in doubt and self-loathing, like most of the time. She never believed in the heart of the cards, but if she could draw one more card…

MATTHEW’S TURN: “I’ve had it with your insolence! The duel will end now!” Matthew roars. He calls upon all the darkness of his body and soul, and lets the fires from his dragon overwhelm him. Flaming with hatred, Matthew leaps on top of his dragon in a single bound, binding himself with his monster. “Now I am a monster! I am the Golden God Dragon!”

“That’s new.” Maya comments wryly.

“You fool! I will blast you into oblivion!” Matthew slams Maya’s fiend with all his fury.

“I activate Spiritual Swords of Revealing Light!” Maya declares, paying 1000 life so the wall of shining swords can protect Malacoda. Enraged, Matthew lashes out again, and again Maya pays 1000 life to save her by the skin of her teeth. (MAYA LP 2500 à 500)

The beastly dragon roars, “I end my turn! There is nothing you can do, fool! Give up!”

Maya glares back at him, defiant as ever. “No one, not even the readers of this book who can see you’re most secret thoughts and emotions, will remember you as anything more than a spoiled child.” With these words, Maya draws her last card.

MAYA’S TURN: “Yes!” Maya speaks to her heart, drawing the card she needed. Her physical strength returns, and with it she gains the moral strength to look within her heart. Yes, Maya is a murderer, which means she can always become a monster, like Matthew, like every other human being. She is no longer an edgy teen living with an abusive father, or a celebrity in existential despair. She is a grown woman, which means making hard decisions and accepting the consequences of your actions. Matthew is too dangerous to be left alive.

Maya knows she has friends waiting for her at home, and a life worth living. Matthew threw away both. She has to defeat him once and for all. Their rivalry is over at last.

“I normal summon Necroface, and use its effect to return all banished cards to our decks!” A baby doll’s face, smashed, decaying, infested by a foul creature, absorbs the souls of every dead monster and every banished card into its body, the creature within growing in size until it rivals the size of Matthew himself.

“5600 ATK!” Matthew despairs. “NO!”

“I activate Pre-preparation of Rights, adding a ritual monster and ritual spell to my hand, and play Good & Evil of the Burning Abyss! I tribute Necroface and the Fluffal Dog in my hand to ritual summon a second Malacoda, Netherlord of the Burning Abyss!” Her offerings vanish, transforming through fire into Malacoda. “I use both their effects. I mill 2 Graff to cut you down to size.”

The ghosts of the recently deceased fiends possess the swords of their commanders. Both generals point their swords to Matthew in the sky, then, using their swords as reverse lightning rods, let the ghosts within strike their target.

Matthew limps in the air, his flight killed. Desperate, he screams, “KILL ME AND YOU’LL BE A MURDERER TWICE! YOU WILL BE A MONSTER FOREVER!”

“Goodbye, Matthew.” Maya bids these final words to her rival. She feels no hate, no regret, but oddly tranquil, the feeling of release when exorcising a demon. And fatigue. She is so tired, so very tired…

“Both Malacodas, kill Matthew.” Maya declares her last attack. The two fiends leap into the air and strike Matthew down from the sky. Matthew roars, cursing the world, and falls beyond the pyramid in golden flames, crashing to his fiery death in the darkness beyond. (MATTHEW 1500 à 0)

MAYA: 500 | MATTHEW: 0

All darkness vanished, leaving only the blazing sunlight in the early afternoon. Isono raised his hand, declaring, “THE 13TH BATTLE CITY TOURNAMENT IS OVER! MARINA BOZUSLOWSKY WINS THE TITLE KING OF GAMES!”

Maya walks, in a complete daze, to the center of the arena, looking down at Kaiba, at Pegasus, at the other finalists, and turned her vision to the wide horizon, to the infinite sky above and the infinite ocean below. The sun blazes her black hair, surrounding her head like a halo. The light only darkens her; her skin, her hair, her eyes, her look, and makes her look truly evil. Everyone gazes upward at Maya in awe, even Kaiba, even Xiaoyi watching from far away, even Sophia.

Maya lifts her hands in the air and looks at the sun directly, celebrating her victory in the only perfect moment in her life. Spending all her strength, she collapses into darkness.

————————————————-

CREATED CARDS

MAYA’S CARDS

Golden God Phoenix
DIVINE/Zombie/Fusion-Synchro-Xyz-Link/Level-Rank 10/ATK 4000/No Link Arrows
4 Fusion, Ritual, Synchro, Xyz, or Link monsters

  • Must first be Special Summoned from your Extra Deck by banishing 4 Fusion Materials you control of different Card Types (you do not use Polymerization). If this card was Special Summoned with the following Materials, it gains the the following Effects:
    • FUSION: If this card is targeted by a Card Effect; you can banish this card. Return it to your field during the End Phase.
    • RITUAL: If this card would be destroyed and sent to the Graveyard: you can banish 1 Fiend or Zombie; Special Summon this card.
    • SYNCHRO: If this card is Special Summoned from the Graveyard: inflict 500 damage to your opponent.
    • XYZ: If this card is banished, during your Standby Phase: you can Special Summon 1 banished Fiend or Zombie, ignoring all Summoning Conditions.
    • LINK: Once per turn during your Standby Phase; you can send 1 Fiend or Zombie from your Deck to the Graveyard.

Dimension Exchange
Continuous Trap
Banish 1 monster from your Graveyard: target 1 monster your opponent controls; banish it. During your 2nd Standby Phase after you activate this card: Special Summon your opponent’s monster, ignoring all summoning conditions.

MATTHEW’S CARDS

Golden God Dragon

DIVINE/Dragon/Fusion-Synchro-Xyz-Link/Level-Rank 10/ATK 4000/No Link Arrows
4 Fusion, Ritual, Synchro, Xyz, or Link monsters

  • Must first be Special Summoned from your Extra Deck by banishing 4 Fusion Materials you control of different Card Types (you do not use Polymerization). If this card was Special Summoned with the following Materials, it gains the the following Effects:
    • FUSION: If this card would be targeted by a Card Effect; you can banish 1 Dragon from your hand, field, or Graveyard. Negate and destroy your opponent’s card,
    • RITUAL: If this card would be destroyed; you can banish 1 Dragon from your hand, field, or Graveyard, and this card is not destroyed.
    • SYNCHRO: If this card destroys your opponent’s monster by battle: it can attack once more.
    • XYZ: If this card is in your Graveyard during your next Standby Phase; you can Special Summoned 1 banished Dragon during your next Standby Phase (ignoring all Summoning conditions.)
    • LINK: Once per turn during your Standby Phase; you can send 1 Dragon from your Deck to the Graveyard.

Dragon Mirage
Spell
Special Summon all Dragon monsters destroyed this turn. Their ATK and DEF are halved, they cannot attack, they cannot activate their Effects.

Xyz Drain
Spell
Detach 1 Xyz Material from 1 Xyz monster your opponent control and 1 Xyz monster you control: draw 2 cards.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 26

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I won’t write duel terms like “Normal Summon” or “Effect” with capitals anymore. They make reading harder. I will embolden all the important cards so readers can easily follow what cards are being used and when.  

Duel 26 – Power Struggles

MAYA: 8000 | MATTHEW: 8000

MAYA’S TURN: As Maya draws her next card, she speaks to herself, “Matthew may bounce Beatrice with his Celestial Spheres, but he must lose a Dragon to do so. He doesn’t want that. He wants to build his Materials to summon his God.” Maya sets a monster and ends her turn.

MATTHEW’S TURN: “What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue? No more wisecracks to throw at me? Golden God Dragon is mine!” Matthew gloats. “I normal summon Manju of Ten-Thousand Hands, and use its effect to add a Ritual Monster from my deck. Then I activate Red-Eyes to revive Hieratic Seal, and then I play Hymn of Light, releasing Hieratic Seal to ritual summon Saffira, Queen of Dragons!” A human-like dragon of great beauty graces the stage, and with her arrival, Matthew uses her effect straightaway; he draws 2 cards, and discards 1.

Maya refutes him with a complex argument, “Hold your horses! I use Beatrice to mill Blaze Accelerator Reload, then banish it to mill a Volcanic Scattershot, and use its effect to mill 2 more of its kind! I destroy ALL your monsters!” She commences her military operation, step by strategic step, throwing a tidal wave of flame at Matthew to burn away his entire army and scald his flesh. (MATTHEW LP 8000 à 6500)

Matthew quickly puts out the fires on his clothes, saving his life but burning his shoulders and chest, hurt by his own dark magic. He then recovers, “I play Dragon Mirage!” His whole army returns, but its ATK and DEF halved, and it’s unable to attack. “How predictable.”

MAYA’S TURN: As soon as Maya draws, Matthew declares, “I activate Celestial Spheres! Return Beatrice to your Deck now!” He shatters his red-eyed dragon; the Enneads sublimate Beatrice back into pure light. “Look at you, Maya. You have no field and only one card in your hand. Surrender now and I will spare your life, hell, I’ll even make you queen of my new world!”

Matthew never intends to keep his promise, of course, and Maya easily sees through the lie. “I used to respect you as a rival, but you went full generic anime villain just now. I might as well kill it with fire.”

Matthew scoffs, “Ha! What can one card do for you?”

“Lots. I normal summon Fluffal Dog, using its effect to search for Fluffal Bear, and discard it to play Toy Vendor from my deck. I banish Fluffal Wings and Fluffal Bear, and destroy my Vendor to draw 2 cards, then activate Toy Vendor in my graveyard to search for another Bear.”

With the first cycle complete, Maya proceeds to the next one. “I discard Fluffal Bear to play Toy Vendor from my deck. Now I use Vendor’s effect: I discard Fluffal Wings and draw 1 card.” Maya did so, and shouts, “JACKPOT! I special summon a second Fluffal Dog!” And as she conjures her second stuffed animal to join the first, she concludes the cycle. “I banish Fluffal Wings and Bear, and destroy Vendor to draw 2, and use the destroyed Toy Vendor to add a Fluffal monster to my hand.

Matthew becomes astonished; Maya gathered two level 4 monsters, which means… “Oh. Shit.”

“I’m not done preparing yet! I overlay the two Fluffal Dogs to xyz summon Number 39: Utopia, and overlay it; I upgrade it to Number S39: Utopia Prime and then to Number S39: Utopia the Lightening!” The valiant space warrior, the emblem of all xyz monsters, travels the overlay network to arrive to our dimension, then emboldens its armor and weapons, evolving to a higher form. “Yukio and my other friends will give you a message! Utopia, destroy the Celestial Spheres; I detach 2 materials to double its ATK!”

Maya and Yukio’s monster bounds high in the sky, cutting down all nine Enneads. It jettisons to the ground, landing right in front of Matthew, and strikes him with a devastating blow. Matthew screams in pure agony, blown off the arena, almost falling off the pyramid itself. He coughs blood, writhing, his head and shoulders dangling off the edge. (MATTHEW LP 6500 à 1500)

First blood, just like last time.” Maya smirks. Damn does that feel good.

Maria objects, “But that isn’t first your first damage; that was your Volcanic Scattershot combo.”

But Kaiba corrects her, “Pathetic effect damage doesn’t count.”

Matthew crawls his way back up the arena, hobbling from his injuries. While gathering his bearings, Maya sets a card, ending her turn.

MATTHEW’S TURN: “Woman, I swear to God, the Devil, and all in between, I will burn you to ash, piss on you, and scatter you to the winds! Mark my words!

“I activate Xyz Drain, detaching 1 material from your Utopia and my Heliopolis; I draw 2 cards. I play Monster Reborn to revive the Celestial Spheres. I have gathered all my offerings to the gods! I banish them all to summon GOLDEN GOD DRAGON!” Lightning shoots from the sky, blasting Matthew’s monsters, and the supreme god, finding the offerings to its liking, descends from the highest heavens.

Golden God Dragon, destroy Utopia!” Matthew screams with all his hatred. The dragon blasts Maya’s warrior with golden flames, and Maya too is burned. (MAYA LP 8000 à 6500) The attack briefly forces Maya on her knees since, unlike Matthew, she had sustained many injuries before the battle began.

“On your knees, whore; that is a woman’s true place.”

MAYA’S TURN: “I set a monster. My turn is done.”

MATTHEW’S TURN: “Just what I thought. My God Dragon, destroy both her facedown monsters!” The dragon merely brushes its wings to scatter its prey’s ashes. “And I set a card.”

“Good.” Maya says under her breath, more to herself than to Matthew. “You destroyed Graff, Malebrache of the Burning Abyss and Scarm, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss. With Graff, I summon from my deck Cir, Malebrache of the Burning Abyss, and with Scarm, I add Tour Guide to my hand.”

Matthew comments, “Fitting you use fiend monsters. Hell awaits you. I set a card.”

MAYA’S TURN: Hopefully, Maya’s next turn will kill Matthew, and if it doesn’t, she will at least mill her deck. “I link up Cir to link summon Charono, Ferryman of the Burning Abyss: with its effect I summon another Graff, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss from my deck, and with the effect of Cir, I revive Scarm.

“I link up Graff to link summon another Charono, Ferryman of the Burning Abyss, using its effect to summon Farfa, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss from my deck, and use Graff’s effect to summon Rubic, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss from my deck. I link up both Charonos and Calcan to link summon Spadiovolo Swordsman of the Burning Abyss!” Maya finished her infernal parade with her ace fiend, the devil with a sword who divides the bodies of schismatics in Hell.

Maya then orchestrates her angelic parade, wedding Heaven and Hell together. “I overlay Farfar with Scarm to xyz summon Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss, and use its effect to mill 3 cards. I detach Farfa to do so, so I bounce Golden God Dragon back to your deck!”

The fiend leaps unto the celestial dragon, grasping it, slowly dissolving it. Matthew is dumbstruck; how can this be? Then he understands; the materials used to summon his dragon determine its effects. He did not banish a fusion monster, so his dragon can’t block itself from being targeted.

Matthew responds with, “Skill Prisoner!” The trap cards renders his dragon immune, shooing the fiend away as if it is a fly, sending it back to the underworld. “Cute loophole abuse, but it won’t work on me.”

“Nevertheless, I banish Destiny HERO – Malicious and Carboneddon from my graveyard to summon another Malicious and Wattail Dragon, then overlay them; welcome back, Beatrice!” With Dante and Beatrice reunited, Maya turns her attention to other matters. “Spadiovolo, destroy his Red-Eyes!” And her fiend slays the dragon as a noble knight would; it even wields the same rapier as the infamous Earl of Demise.

MATTHEW’S TURN: “Resistance is futile. May God strike you down! God, destroy the filthy Beatrice and Spadiovolo!” The dragon blasts Maya’s monsters with all its fury, understanding the hatred burning within its master. The fair lady screams, dying flames and agony, but the fencing fiend however…

“I use Beatrice to mill a card, then I use Spadiovolo’s effect!” Maya rebukes her opponent, milling no less than 4 Burning Abyss monsters, doubling her creature’s ATK. Dragon and fiend collide, but only one monster dies. Matthew had used the effect of Golden God Dragon to save his monster. Meanwhile, Maya uses the dead Beatrice to instantly summon Dante, Pilgrim of the Burning Abyss.

“I set a card and end my turn.” Matthew grunts in disappointment. The duel rages on, neither warrior giving ground.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 25

Duel 25 – The Final Duel

The doctors in the medical room tended to Stella’s corpse as best they could: the whole procedure; IVs, EKGs, eye reflex exams: Stella did not return. She was truly in a coma. Maya no longer had the strength to be angry anymore to anyone, dropping to her knees in tears. Stella might as well be dead. Perhaps if she defeated Matthew in the final duel, if she killed him in his own twisted game, the act would revive his victims. Such a thing happened in the first Battle City, supposedly.

Maya suspected, in her grief, that Matthew’s defeat was a false promise at best. Xiaoyi minted Matthew to copy Malik, but only from zinc. What made her think Matthew would be man enough to fulfill such a promise? Maya held nothing but a false promise, and she had to kill another human being to get it, maybe. She was so tired of this stupid tournament, so tired; Yugi could only have felt the same way. Money, fame, finding yourself, fulfilling a destiny: none of it was worth such toil and murder.

Mokuba Kaiba set a few white flowers he brought with him on a stand by Stella’s bed. His older brother, Seto Kaiba, of course did not bother to look at the mess he made, but Mokuba was to blame too. He allowed his older brother to prepare and execute the entire tournament, down to the final duel where Maya would fight Matthew.

And Pegasus? Well, Maya thought, a dapper aesthete was a true nihilist if there was one. She wondered if Sophia was just a shiny trinket to him, a pearl he trusted to her to briefly care for, like Maya was Jared’s. And Maya? She played her part just by participating. She did put Stella in a coma after all, but oddly enough, she felt slightly better understanding that responsibility. It meant she had some power, and not everything was beyond her control. If she could defeat Matthew in his own shadow game, maybe, just maybe, Stella, Mathias, and Hannibal would all return to life.

Seizing her power, Maya edited her Deck one final time; now it was time to use her own God Card, finally, and the Deck would focus on bringing it out. She climbed back up the pyramid to the arena on top, and she discovered Matthew already there. Her heart was so lacerated, she had gone through so much stress; she was too tired to even hate him. She simply disliked him at this point, like he was another low-rated douche of the week she had to defeat.

And she judged this cooler attitude was for the best. It would not cloud her reason.

The day had reached high noon, and Matthew gazed at the horizon where ocean met sky with a wistful unfocused look. He said, “You know the Pyramids at Giza used to be coated in white and capped in gold? Now they are mountains of rubble. And you know our great city, New York, with its silver and grey skyscrapers clawing at the sky like Gothic cathedrals, and all that? It will soon be an empty place, a junkyard with tons of rusted metal. I used to believe that our city, our civilization was worth protecting, keeping pure, but I don’t care anymore.”

Maya coughed a bit as snot went down her throat, and she scoffed at him, “I really don’t care about the white man’s existential crisis. Civilizations, especially the property-owning classes you truly refer to when you say ‘our city’, are by nature poor excuses of human societies. ‘Our civilization’ was never mine, and people like you love to drive that point home. Everyone, everything, dies. Attacking scapegoats, like you did, only showed you to be a desperate coward, but I’m glad you finally understand the obvious, even if you needed to become an exile of your own city to get it.”

Matthew laughed bitterly at hearing everything Maya said. “You ruined my life, Maya. I can’t wait to kill you in this duel.”

And Maya said, “I will kill you, Matthew. I will be done with you once and for all.”

Maya remembered something Yukio said, which was: “But no matter what happens we’ll be together. And yes, Maya, I mean it. It’s not a cliché. If we stick together, trust each other, help each other, we can overcome anything.” Maya hoped they would support her; though they could not telepathically send her good thoughts like anime characters magically do, she thought it somehow help. It wouldn’t hurt.

Far, far away, way back in a New York City apartment, JC, Yukio, Jolene, and Sophia watched the duel commence from Jolene’s laptop.

JC drank a large bottle of coke, and grumbled, “She’d better kick his ass or I’ll fist her harder than the parade guys who live here.”

“You fist gay guys, JC? Gross!” Yukio joked, sipping a beer. “I only wish for Maya to win. She worked so hard with us for this goal, she risked so much; she only deserves total victory.”

Jolene bid everyone clasp a crystal, which everyone did while groaning. She offered what would be called a prayer everywhere else: “Please, may the cosmos bless Maya so she may win and be happy.”

Sophia had nothing witty or silly to say, and didn’t even know if she liked Maya that much. She simply said, “Good luck, Maya. May success be yours.”

DAY 13 : 12:00 PM : ?????

Back at the pyramid top, Seto Kaiba snapped his fingers with impatience. “Isono! Begin the duel now!” He commanded.

The referee readily obeyed, announcing, “MAYA BROOK VERSUS MATTHEW CARTER: THE GRAND FINAL DUEL FOR THE THIRTEENTH BATTLE CITY CHAMPIONSHIP! DUEL START!”

MAYA: 8000 | MATTHEW: 8000

MAYA’S TURN: “I Special Summon Primitive Butterfly from my hand, and activate Brilliant Fusion, milling Lazuli and Fluffal Wings to Fusion Summon Gem-Knight Seraphinite!” Two pretty creatures worlds apart, an emerald butterfly and sapphire knight meet in one space. “I use Butterfly’s Effect to raise its Level to 6. I Tribute Seraphinite to Summon Destiny Hero – Malicious, then overlay it with Butterfly to Xyz Summon Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal!”

Matthew smirks at the arrival of the blessed lady, “I never thought someone like you believed in the eternal feminine.”

“I don’t.” Maya corrects him. “Her dress and manners are pompous and gauge, yes, but she’s a great coworker. I activate Jewels of the Valiant and set a card.” Maya’s voice is joyless; her hand might as well be a dead draw.

MATTHEW’S TURN: “My God… My God…” He screams in an exalted yet despairing laugh. “Yes, I have the perfect hand! Prepare to see my grandfather in Hell!”

“Bring it!” Maya braces herself for the worst.

“Oh, I will. Revenge is mine.” Matthew gloats. “I Normal Summon Hieratic Dragon of Eset, and Special Summon Hieratic Dragon of Su with Hieratic Dragon of Nebthet as the Tribute, which activates, letting me Special Summon Hieratic Seal of the Sun Dragon Overlord!” A parade of three gaudy Egyptian dragons arrive in pomp and circumstance.

Maya comments at the sight, “Dragons from China, dragons from Egypt, dragons from Dragon Tales… I’m tired of these grandiose creatures. When will it end?”

“When thou shalt succumb to mine Wrath & Die the Death!”

“Even the way you talk is old-fashioned.”

“As opposed to what, modern degenerate existential dread!”

“Um,” Maya blinks twice in astonishment, amazed at Matthew’s lack of self-awareness. “I know I’m the black person here, but damn you sound like the pot right now.”

“Enough of your ridicule!” Matthew roars, his shout nearly shaking the ground, “I overlay Eset and Su to Xyz Summon Hieratic Dragon King of Atum, which I activate to: Special Summon a second Hieratic Seal of the Sun Dragon Overlord!” Two more dragons join the army. “I banish Atum to Special Summon Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon, and use its Effect to revive Su!” Matthews field now totals to four great reptiles.

But his turn isn’t over, of course it’s not; with a Hieratic player? “I link up Red-Eyes and Su to Link Summon Hieratic Seal of the Celestial Spheres, and overlay my 2 Hieratic Seals to Xyz Summon Hieratic Sun Dragon Overlord of Heliopolis!” The nine celestials Enneads and the supreme sun god arrive, hovering high in the air above the reach of mere mortals. “I Tribute 2 monsters in my hand so Heliopolis can destroy your entire back row!”

Maya quickly declares, “I activate Fiend Grieving: I shuffle a dead monster back to your Deck and mill Farfa, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, then use it’s Effect!” A winged fiend springs from Maya’s Graveyard to banish the nine glowing spheres, at least for now.

“Not enough!” Matthew continues to build his army. “Hieratic Dragon of Nebthet and Hieratic Dragon of Eset activate as I Tributed them: I Special Summon Luster Dragon 2 and Galaxy Serpent from the Deck, then tune them to Synchro Summon Stardust Spark Dragon!” Two dragons great and small, emerald and white, merge in stars of white and green to bring forth the iconic dragon.

All of Matthew’s dragons stare down at Beatrice in menace, but the lady remains stoic in the face of danger, much like Maya does. Matthew doesn’t care. The game is his! “Dragons, destroy Beatrice and kill my sworn enemy, once and for all!” The entire army merges its firepower into a single devastating blow, but even that world-shattering power bounces harmlessly off Beatrice.

Matthew demands what happened with fury and frustration, and Maya reveals to him the trick. “I used Beatrice to mill Electromagnetic Turtle, then used it to end your attack.”

Matthew ends his turn in vain, cursing everything from his birth to Xiaoyi to Maya herself. How could Maya utterly refute his grand opening turn with one pathetic card? The Enneads return, the heavenly beings uncaring of the turmoil the mortals endure below.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 24

Duel 24 – Slaying the Dragon

Stella finally has her key card in place, a card that will seal Maya’s fiends back in Hell where they belong.

STELLA: 700 | MAYA: 3100

STELLA’S TURN: “I Normal Summon Night Dracolich!” As the black draconic skeleton crawls up from the dust below, Stella muses to herself that this is the first time she Normal Summoned this entire Duel. Yugioh was such a different game back then…

“Chaofeng attack Charono!” The ferryman is a weak Link Monster, and as such, Maya can’t switch it to Defending Position to spare her Life Points. As her heavenly dragon readies himself for the attack, Stella sprung her trap, “I activate Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror!” And as the evil spirit from Dark Necrofear haunting the field leaps from the dragon to strike Stella down and finish the duel, a magical mirror catches the evil spirit and puts it in place.

Free from evil restraints, Chaofeng pulverizes Charono with the light from its body. (MAYA LP 3100 à 700) Maya looks mildly surprised and amused, but Stella can see the bead of sweat falling from her forehead. “Wu’tien, attack Uria and finish the Duel!” Stella knows Uria needs Continuous Trap Cards in Maya’s Graveyard to gain power, and with only 2 buried there, its ATK is very weak.

“GOTCHA!” Maya seems to jump from out nowhere, like she popped from the darkness itself. “I banish Fiendfyre and a FIRE monster from my Graveyard!” Wu’tien leaps to the attack with her sword but a wall of flame generates from thin air, knocking the dragon empress back. The wall of flame collapses into a meteor, and Stella knows what will happen next.

“I destroy Dracolich for Wu’tien’s effect!” The empress dragon tosses her subject to the meteor to take the hit, dispersing the flames. Stella’s monster is spared and Stella does not take the damage that would have finished her. But her Battle Phase ends all the same.

“I set a card and end my turn.” Stella says, admitting her campaign failed, and Dark Necrofear spells another letter: “A”.

“Two more turns left.” Maya reminds her with the obvious, just to rub it in her face.

MAYA’S TURN: “I play Pot of Avarice!” She returns 5 dead monsters to her Deck and draws 2 cards. “Rats…” Maya softly speaks to herself; she has a nice big hand but it does not look promising. Maya did not believe a duelist could generate so much advantage and still have nothing, until now. “What a terrible deck. I must redo it.”

Maya thinks about how Mathias would have a field day with Maya playing Pot of Avarice. The Saints have a little in-joke amongst themselves where Maximus owns the prized card and Mathias makes every desperate attempt he can to get Maximus to trade it away. And with that brief thought, noticing the void where a big man with an even bigger garrulous laugh would be, Maya feels her heart pierced with a terrible sadness.

Maya had not felt this way since her mother died. Mathias did his best, giving all of his strength to protect her, and the world, from Matthew’s wrath, and Maya realizes her mother did nothing different. The poor woman, abused from her husband, did all she could to protect herself and her child. And Maya’s father? He did not have an easy life, and was disowned by his family, but so was Maya’s mother. That was no excuse.

“I put all my monsters to Defending Position, and I use Uria to destroy your facedown card.” Her monsters meekly obey her, but Uria does give Stella a sly punch below the bely by destroying her facedown Trap Card.

Maya destroys her Link Monster, protecting her Life, “I Tribute Charono to Set a monster facedown and set a backrow card. My turn is over.”

STELLA’S TURN: Stella knows Maya has something up her sleeve. She never admits defeat unless she ruses the opponent to play a dirty trick, but what other choice does Stella have but to fall for it? “Chaofeng, destroy Beatrice, the center of Maya’s Deck!”

The dragon volleys three balls of white-hot fire at the fair Lady of the Eternal, but Maya has something up her sleeve, “I activate Delta Barrier to negate your attack!” She revives 2 Continuous Traps from her Graveyard to aid the first one in blocking the dragon’s attack.

Undeterred, Stella barks, “Wu’tien, destroy Uria!” Her dragon empress slays the dragon demon by cutting off its head.

It would be hilarious if you nerfed Destiny Board at the last moment.” Maya jokes. “Boy, would I be salty!”

“You will be.” Stella replies in kind, “To gloat so early! I activate A Wing Beat of Giant Dragon! I return Wu’tien to my hand to destroy ALL Spells and Traps!” The reigning dragon queen rises to the heavens for the last time, her wings growing bright in tremendous size. She shunts her wings once, and vanishes in a flash, blowing away the Destiny Board, and Dark Necrofear dies a second time.

“Well I’ll be damned!” Maya shouts in utter shock as her strategy is shot to bits.

“You’ll never beat me with such a cheap trick!” Stella remonstrates her opponent. “I should slap you just for being that arrogant.”

Maya admits, “You losing to Destiny Board would disappoint me. I’m very happy you overcame the Occult Combo, but I must ask; why not destroy it sooner?”

“That’s my secret.”

“Or your mistake. I play a second Pot of Avarice!” Maya turns to you and all the other readers. She asks, “Can someone tell me what Pot of Avarice does?”

“Stale jokes are stale, Maya.” Stella nags impatiently, “Make your damn move already.”

“Very well. I set a monster. Turn over.”

STELLA’S TURN: “Well that was short. Not much to do when losing. I activate Preparation of Rites. I return a Ritual Spell and add a Ritual Monster to my hand, and I activate Yang Zing Cycle!” She Tributes Wu’tien herself in a surprise move; and as the sun has the moon, as light casts a shadow, as the mountain shares the land with the valley, a new darker dragon empress emerged. “I Ritual Summon Ci’xi, Dragon Empress of Yin!”

“When she is Ritual Summoned, Ci’xi adds two Wyrm monsters to my hand. Now Chaofeng, destroy Beatrice!” The old dragon succeeds in conquering the maiden this time, but his success is short lived. As Beatrice dies, Maya gives rise to Dante, Pilgrim of the Burning Abyss!

“I use its Effect.” Maya says. “I discard a Burning Abyss monster to draw a card.” When Stella reminds her that Chaofeng can now block the Effects of DARK monsters, Maya retorts, “Nah, really?”

“Ci’xi, destroy Dante!” The dark dragon empress draws her sword, a straight blade barbed with deep grooves like a shark’s teeth, screams a savage roar, and mercilessly butchers the pilgrim. Stella discards a card from Dante’s Effect; the penalty a player pays for slaying him. “I destroy a Wyrm in my hand to have Ci’xi attack again! Destroy a facedown card!” The evil queen slaughters the innocent Fluffal Wings under its hiding place.

“Since I destroyed Chiwen, Light of the Yang Zing, I Special Summon Taotie, Shadow of the Yang Zing from my Deck; and then, Taotie, destroy Maya’s last monster!” The second dark dragon pounces on its prey, killing the Fiend underneath.

“I set a card and end my turn.” Stella then understands the awful truth. Maya never planned on winning with the Occult Combo; she used it merely as a distraction to build a counterattack. In Battle City, Bakura played the Occult Combo as his ultimate strategy. Maya used the king as a pawn.

MAYA’S TURN: “I banish Fluffal Wings and Fluffal Bear to draw a card. I now use the other Effects of the Burning Abyss monsters: I Special Summon Farfa, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss; Cir, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss; and Graff Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, and I Tribute them all to Special Summon Raviel, Lord of Phantasms!” Three devils from the malebolge appear soon to give obeisance to the last Sacred Beast.

“I activate Fallen Paradise. It’s just like…” Maya pauses to prompt a response.

“Pot of Greed.” Stella groans.

“Exactly. It allows me to draw 2 cards from my Deck.” And Maya does so, enjoying the vista created from her Field Spell, especially the large withered tree and the forbidden fruit clinging to a ruined branch. “Raviel, attack Chaofeng! It can’t be destroyed in battle, but you can!”

“I activate Damage Diet! I take half the battle damage!” Stella counters; both she and her monster are spared from death. (STELLA LP 700 à 450) 

“Very well. I set a card. You’re move.”

STELLA’S TURN: “Ci’xi, attack Raviel!” As the dark dragon queen leaps to split the fiendish titan in two, Stella adds, “I destroy Zefranu in my hand to double her ATK!”

“And I activate Power Wall!” Maya mills 4 cards and spares her Life. Ci’xi fails to even scratch Raviel with her blade and, seeing this, bounces back to her space in retreat.

“Good grief! That was situational!” Laments the astonished Stella. “I end my turn!” Stella does not worry too much. She has one last Wyrm monster in her hand, ready to sacrifice it to double Ci’xi’s ATK any time.

MAYA’S TURN: “To win is not enough,” Maya tells herself, “You must win to make a point. I must defeat Stella in a more intimate way. Please, let this work!”

Maya says, “I activate Good & Evil of the Burning Abyss! I Tribute Hammon from my hand to Ritual Summon Malacoda, Netherlord of the Burning Abyss!” Maya loses her entire hand to complete the ritual, giving rise to an imposing fiend brandishing its own deadly rapier.

“It will be a devil, not a knight in shining armor, that will slay the dragon. Malacoda, kill the dragon queen!” The dragon queen and chieftain fiend joust together, clashing blades, locked together in mortal combat.

On seeing the combat, Stella remarks, “How fitting an end. I’m the dragon queen, the best Dragon Duelist in the world, and you are a wicked fiendish person.”

“Yes,” Maya agrees, seeing the battle unfold. Her father was a fiend, but so is she; how could she complain and not be a hypocrite? She became like her father. He was a broken man who broke her; so Maya reasons she is forever broken too, and she instinctively touches the side of her mouth and eye.

She burns with anger; she hates her father with every inch of her body, down to the strands of her hair and tips of her fingernails becoming hot with fiery anger, for breaking her, for crippling her for life. Maya tightly squeezes her face with her hand, lost in the black smog of her hatred, but a clear light, a sudden thought, bursts through; we are all helpless in this world in some way or another, and understanding that and forgiving a bad person does not support or condone their evil. Maya doesn’t need to hate him anymore.

It is interesting how thoughts work. Maya took three seconds to complete the entire journey.

Stella announces, “I use Ci’xi’s Effect: I destroy Suanni in my hand to double her ATK.”

Maya snaps out of her thoughts, “I use Malacoda’s Effect: I mill another Malacoda to bring her ATK down.”

“But Chaofeng stops you!”

“I know, why I activate Breakthrough Skill! I banish it to negate Chaofeng’s effect!”

Cixi requests assistance of Suanni, the fire dragon, who willingly gives its life to power its queen’s blade. Malacoda, in turn, commands aid from another devil in Hell, and from the power of its spirit, the captain of the Hellish squad breaks Ci’xi’s blade. Disarmed, outraged, but not beaten, the dark queen impales Malacoda with her first, killing him. (MAYA LP 300 à 100)

“Good!” Maya thinks to herself. She baited Stella to waste her last defense. “Raviel!” Maya commands as a general in victory, “Destroy Chaofeng! Win the game!” The dragon of light and lord of darkness clash in an epic struggle, but Raviel wins the arm wrestle, slashing Chaofeng with a mortal wound that kills him. Ci’xi and Stella can only watch helplessly as their army falls in ruins. Maya, through Malacoda, made her real retribution; not by killing Ci’xi, but by letting her live to suffer her defeat. (STELLA LP 450 à 0)

STELLA: 0 | MAYA: 100

Stella dropped to her knees, feeling utterly weak, the dark magic surrounded everyone was already doing its work, draining her life force away. Maya sprinted to her as fast as possible, grabbing Stella’s shoulders to keep her from falling. Maya said, nearly crying, “I understand now. I forgave my parents. They were only human. I’m sorry, Stella, for everything I did.”

Stella put one tender hand on Maya’s cheek. “I know.” She fell into darkness, the darkness leaving with her. Maya holstered Stella’s body on her back; her body trembling and stressed, the warm spring breeze felt as ice as to her, and she carried the coma Stella to the hospital herself.

————————————————

CREATED CARDS

STELLA’S CARDS:

Wu’tien, Dragon Empress of Yang
LIGHT/Level 8/Wyrm
2600 ATK/2800 DEF
Ritual Monster

  • This card must first be Special Summoned with the Effect of “Yang Zing Cycle”.
  • When this card is successfully Ritual Summoned: Special Summon up to 2 Wyrm monsters from your Graveyard.
  • Once per turn: you can destroy 1 Wyrm monster you control; draw 1 card.
  • If this monster would be destroyed by battle or Effect: you can destroy 1 Wyrm monster you control, and it is not destroyed.

Ci’xi, Dragon Empress of Yin
DARK/Level 8/Wyrm
2800 ATK/2600 DEF
Ritual Monster

  • This card must first be Special Summoned with the Effect of “Yang Zing Cycle”.
  • When this card is successfully Ritual Summoned: return up to 2 Wyrm monsters from your Graveyard to your hand.
  • Once per turn: you can destroy 1 Wyrm monster from your hand or field; double this cards ATK.
  • Once per turn: if this card destroys a monster in battle; you can destroy 1 Wyrm monster from your hand or field, and this card can attack once more.

Yang Zing Cycle
Ritual Spell

  • Tribute Wyrm monsters from your hand or field whose Levels equal 8 or more: Ritual Summon 1 “Wu’tien, Dragon Empress of Yang” or “Ci’xi, Dragon Empress of Yin” from your hand.

MAYA’S CARDS:

Fiendfyre
FIRE/Level 1/Fiend
600 ATK/ 500 DEF

  • If your opponent’s monster attacks while this card is in your Graveyard: you can banish this card and 1 other FIRE monster; destroy the attacking monster and, if you do, inflict damage equal to half the monster’s ATK. End the Battle Phase.

 

 

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 23

Duel 23 – Tactics Mashup

Stella suddenly remembers: Maya is playing Bakura’s Occult Combo from the first Battle City! Armed with this knowledge, Stella overcomes her shock and gazes at Dark Necrofear in the eye; she is indeed a sinister creature, her true power unleashed when she is slain; but the last time Stella studied her, her Effect was greatly watered down from its original power through countless reprints over the years, and the same is true for Destiny Board. How can Maya even assemble all the Spirit Messenger pieces anyway, what with milling her Deck and all?

The Occult combo isn’t scary at all! Stella gets that feeling of relief when you shed light on a sinister shadow in the dark and it turns out to only be furniture. Maya splashing out Dark Necrofear was nothing but a cheap jump scare to psyche her out, like those modern horror films pass for genuine terror these days. Now Stella transforms again from being terrified to relieved to annoyed, and so she chastises Maya, “Acting like a copycat fangirl is no way to duel in the finals. You’re flippancy is really starting to piss me off now. How dare you treat our relationship as a joke!”

“No jokes here, I’m dead serious.” Maya says, and she means it; the way she locks down her gaze at Stella tells it so. “And to prove it, I promise you I will never use my god card against you this duel.”

Matthew falls back in shock, in total disbelief he cries out, “What! But you never played it once!”

“You’re right.” Maya dignifies him with an answer. “I don’t play cheap cards like you do, like the way Yugi pulled the god card Osiris out of his ass to beat Bakura at the last moment. Winning with a god card does not show your skill; it shows the opposite; you might as well say, ‘I can’t beat you with my own skills so I have to use a broken card instead!’ Yugi and Kaiba did just that for their entire careers.”

Kaiba contorts his face into an even deeper scowl than the one he usually has, seething, he growls, “You insolent parasite to society, I will disqualify you right now –”

“And what’s gonna’ happen then, big guy? Half of all duelists will quit Yugioh. You’re company will go bankrupt within a week, Google or Disney will buy it out, you’ll shoot yourself in your office, and Mokuba will return to the orphanage. – By the way, Joey is a working class hero.”

Kaiba prepares himself to give the most disparaging retort we can think of but Pegasus cuts the discussion short. “Can we please return to the damn duel already! Have sex after the tournament!”

STELLA: 3500 || MAYA: 4700

STELLA’S TURN: “You missed one important thing, Maya.” Stella declares. “My Chaofeng stops the Effects of DARK monsters. You’re strategy is shot! Chaofeng, destroy Dark Necrofear!” Her dragon easily burns away the darkness with the radiant light from its body. (MAYA LP: 4700 à 3600)

“Now, Wu’Tien, attack directly!”

Stella fell for the first trap, so Maya triggers her second one, “Light-Imprisoning Mirror!” Both of Stella’s monsters get coated with a halo of sorts, but one that pulls them down like dead weight, and with that, Maya shouts! “SPIRIT BURN!” A ghost, the one from Dark Necrofear’s baby doll, leaps out of Stella’s monster and shoots through Stella like a bullet, cutting away her Life and giving the spoils to Maya. (STELLA LP 3500 à 2100, MAYA LP 3600 à 5000).

Stella gasps in shock and frustration. “SHIT!” Maya is using a Dark Necrofear of original print! How did she get her hands on such a rare card! Regardless, Stella’s turn is over. “I set a card facedown.”

Now for Maya’s final trap. “I activate Destiny Board!” The deceased spirit of Dark Necrofear rises from the grave with a Ouija board, looming over Maya’s field, and moves its planchette to the first letter. A ghostly fiend rises forth with the first message: the letter “D”, as in “D”, “E”, “A”, “T”, “H”. Once Maya spells DEATH within four more turns, she will instantly win the Duel.

Stella gasps, her moods changing again within fifteen minutes: from terror to relief to annoyance to frustration to wonder. “And it’s not censored! That’s so cool! If only Mathias could see this!”

Matthew shrinks away in disgust, mumbling to himself. “Lousy hypocrite, using broken cards…” And he mumbled some more.

MAYA’S TURN: “Everything is in place,” Maya speaks to herself. “Let me built my counterattack while Stella is distracted. – I still didn’t draw Jewels of the Valiant. Crap.”

“I banish Dark Summoning Beast in my Graveyard to add a Sacred Beast to my hand, and so I send my 3 Triangle Force to the Graveyard to Special Summon Hamon, Lord of Striking Thunder!” The dark skies around them loudly bellow with lightning to herald, as trumpet fanfare, their lord.

“Preparations are not yet done. I discard Fluffal Bear from my hand to Set Toy Vendor from my Deck, then I activate it: I discard Fluffal Wings to draw a card.” Maya takes the vendor’s cheap prize and shrugs, discarding it: a useful Trap Card called Breakthrough Skill. “Anyway, I banish Fluffal Wings and Fluffal Bear, and destroy Toy Vendor, to draw 2 cards.” Once Maya did that, she used Toy Vendor’s other Effect to search for yet another Fluffal Wings, and she finally finished her chore.

Time to attack; Maya commanded her monster, “Hamon, launch your lightning at Chaofeng and destroy him!”

Maya’s monster is very large and intimidating indeed, but Stella easily stops it. “I play Storming Mirror Force!” All the sand of the island seems to gather around them as a hail storm and, raining hard on the lord of thunder, forces it to retreat back to Maya’s hand.

Maya sets a card and ends her turn in a huff.

STELLA’S TURN: “Maya, you’re Occult combo was an awesome surprise but that can’t beat me.”

“You know what they say, a player surprised if half beaten.” Maya says, winking at her.

“But only half. I’m not scared of Dark Necrofear and her aborted fetish baby, not even when they’re dead. If I intuit things right, Dark Necrofear’s Effect most likely resembled the modern print of Dark Sanctuary. Your Spirit Burn attack depends on the flip of a coin, like a fifty-fifty chance a fetus becomes a boy or a girl.”

“And what if it lands on its side?”

“Then we’ll call the little hellspawn transgendered and I’ll buy you a Bourbon, but only if you beat me.” Stella then clenches her fist, steeling her resolve, hoping luck is on her side. She drew a card she needed to seal Maya’s monsters forever, but she wants to hit Maya while she can, and Maya must play her part by destroying it.

“Wu’Tien, hit Maya directly!” Stella commands. The empress dragon does not, can not attack; the spirit possessing the field leaps out of her again, tearing away more of her life. (STELLA LP 2100 à 700, MAYA LP 5000 à 6400) Yet Stella is not frightened by such a move, she moves in for another attack, throwing her life to chance. And chance rewards her! Chaofeng smashed Maya with bars of light sprouting from its body, with no evil spirit blocking it. (MAYA LP 6400 à 3100)

Stella sets 2 cards, and as she ends her turn the spirit of Dark Necrofear spells another letter on her Ouija Board: “E”.

MAYA’S TURN: “I play the Trap Fiend Grieving: I return a Yang Zing monster from your Graveyard back to your Deck while I mill Graff, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, and use its Effect to Special Summon Cir, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss from my Deck.” Two fiends from the fourth malebolge arrive from Hell on schedule, but only one stays.

“I link up Cir to Link Summon Charono, Ferryman of the Burning Abyss, and use his Effect to Special Summon a second Graff, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss from my Deck.” The Link 1 monster rows his way through the air from the River Styx to the field, a humble yet dangerous monster.

“And more, I use my second Graff to Link Summon another Charono, Ferryman of the Burning Abyss, and use his effect to Special Summon Farfa, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss from my Deck, and my second Graff, now destroyed, does likewise, so I also call upon Scarm, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss!” Another ferryman appears with a couple of Fiends attending to him.

“I Tribute Summon Dark Summoning Beast and Tribute it to Special Summon Uria, Lord of Searing Flames from my Deck.” One of Maya’s ferrymen vanish to make way for a larger more savage creature, which in turn dissolves away to bring forth a large vicious red dragon. “And I use its Effect to destroy your facedown card.” The great red dragon emblazons with fury and destroys the hidden trap. Stella nearly jumps for joy, as Maya hit the jackpot, but she would never dare reveal it.

Thankfully for Stella, Maya can’t attack with Uria this turn. Still unfinished, Maya maneuvers even more through her convoluted dance, making Stella wish she drew the exact card sooner. “I overlay Farfa and Scarm to Xyz Summon Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss, and send Calcab to the Graveyard to Xyz Summon Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal!” The two fiends collapse to form the famous Dante, who sublimates in the eternal feminine to summon Beatrice.

And with the Effect of Calcab, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, Maya bounces one of Stella’s backrow cards to her hand. Stella doesn’t care, as Maya already fell into her trap. Regardless, Maya did assemble all the infernal society to her court.

Matthew moans in utter boredom at the sidelines, and hollers out to everyone, “Can you please finish your turn already!”

“If only I could.” Comes Maya’s replay. “The game would be far less tedious.” She resumes her turn yet again. “I activate Jewels of the Valiant and banish Dark Summoning Beast from my Graveyard to add the last Sacred Beast to my hand, and with that I use Jewels to mill a monster. I set a card and end my turn.”

Matthew sighs in relief, acting like a little boy when he finally gets a marshmallow his mother promised him.

Now it is Stella’s turn to sigh in relief. She said, “I’m sorry, Maya, but you fell into my trap. I activate The Lost Ark in my Graveyard! Since you destroyed it this turn, I can Set any Trap Card from my Deck facedown. You gave me exactly the card I needed to smash your occult combo!”

Maya is all too eager to see Stella try, for it would be boring if Maya did win with Destiny Board, and regains a fondness for Stella she did not feel in a very long time. But a duel is a duel, so she pretended to be nervous and incredulous. All she said was, “Bring it!”

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 22

Duel 22 – Huge Clash, Tiny Arena

Maya touched the hologram cards projected from her duel disk, moving them this way and that to edit her deck. Yes, she beat Maria but she was horrified at how bad her was; bit to the very sixty-card limit, it was bursting from the seams. The Sacred Beasts were powerful all right but they were unwieldy was a giant club. Maya took a few cards out, added a few more; Burning Abyss needed more support. She would deal with the Sacred Beasts later, but she had no time at the moment.

Stella quietly and solemnly made her way up to the arena, and Maya realized at this moment how tiny the arena truly was. People were like vast gulfs unknown fathoms deep, but blocked from each other by mountains. Games, at least this one, were a way to make the mountain vanish for a while, and when the two gulfs blend you get a tempest. Maya doubted any arena could contain such a thing.

Maya saved her file in her duel disk; her deck was ready. She said to Stella, “Ready to give everything you have?”

The air was very tense, and both duelists couldn’t properly breathe, but Stella did answer, “If we were any closer I would punch you in the face.”

“That’s the spirit!”

STELLA: 8000 || MAYA: 8000 

STELLA’S TURN: “No mercy, Maya! Here I come! I play Yang Zing Cycle, I tribute 3 Wyrm monsters to Ritual Summon Wu’Tien, Dragon Empress of Yang!” The famous yin-yang symbol appears behind her as three Chinese dragons dissolve into the yin half of the cosmos circle, then the empress of light flies out from the white dot in the darkness. “And with her Effect I revive Toatie, Shadow of the Yang Zing and Bi’an, Earth of the Yang Zing!” The dragons of shadow and earth, one large and muscular, the other small, appear beside their queen.

“I activate Qu’Tien again, destroying Taotie to draw a card, and from Taotie’s death I Special Summon Bixi, Water of the Yang Zing from the Deck.” Enter a new dragon of water, resembling a turtle, to replace the old one. “I tune Bixi and Bi’an to Synchro Summon Denlong, First of the Yang Zing, and use its Effect to searh for Zefraxi, Treasure of the Yang Zing, and I Normal Summon it.” Water and earth blend into a primitive dragon of white hot light, and a small dragon of jewels joins it. “I tune Denlong and Zefraxi to Synchro Summon Yazi, Evil of the Yang Zing, and from Denlong’s Effect I Special Summon Chiwen, Light of the Yang Zing!” A large black dragon of evil replaces the first dragon of light, taking its jeweled friend with it, but a new light dragon now joins the party, small and bright as a lightbulb.

“I play Soul Charge to revive Denlong, Pulao, and Taotie!” And three Chinese dragons return from the Graveyard, but Stella pays a steep price to make it so. (STELLA LP 8000 à 5000) It is well worth the effort. “I set a card facedown and end my turn.”

MAYA’S TURN: “I draw!” Maya finds Stella’s army formidable, but also amusing. She used to spam the field with monsters too, just a week ago in fact. Well, it is time to see if she truly matured in her strategy. “I set a monster and a back row card. I end my turn.”

“What?” Stella can’t make out such a move. She has an entire army of the Dragonstar Ten and Maya just baits her? She could at least set three cards or something like that! “You will pay for disrespecting me!”

STELLA’S TURN: “I’ll get rid of what little defenses you have. I use Yazi’s Effect to destroy itself and your back row!” Dragon and card shatter instantly.

Maya rejoices, “Good! You fell for my true trap! You destroyed Blaze Accelerator Reload, which triggers it’s Effect: I banish it to mill Volcanic Scattershot from my Deck, which lets me mill 2 more!” The cumulative power of all these moves is a tidal wave of fire; the disaster burns all of Stella’s monsters to a crisp before washing away the ashes. (STELLA LP: 5000 à 3500)

Almost all. Wu’Tien remains standing, as regal as ever. Stella let herself smirk at the result. “Sorry, Maya. That may work against Maria but not me! I had Wu’Tien pop one of my monsters to save herself, and you forgot one crucial fact: Yang Zing monsters can replace themselves! I call forth Jiaotu, Darkness of the Yang Zing; Bi’an, Earth of the Yang Zing; Suanni, Fire of the Yang Zing; and Pulao, Wind of the Yang Zing!” Four new dragons appear from the orient, with all the colors of the rainbow.

“Hmph!” Maya bushes away this new development with scorn.

“I tune all my Yang Zing monsters to Synchro Summon Chaofeng, Phantom of the Yang Zing!” The rainbow of dragons returns its source of white light, from which comes their emperor of many colorful flags. “I activate Path of the Yang Zing: I shuffle 3 Yang Zings back in the Deck and draw 2! Wu’Tien, slay the facedown monster!” The empress readily obeys her master, ironically, and splits the monster beneath it with her elegant curved sword.

The monster is Graff, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, but Maya knows she can’t use it, because Chaofeng stops all monster Effects with Attributes used to Synchro Summon it. In fact, the only monsters she can use for Effect purposes are LIGHT and WATER monsters, and she has none of the latter. And that’s not all! Chaofeng can’t be killed by battle or effected by Spells either. This is bad.

Stella holds the lights of joy and victory glinting in her blue eyes. “Chaofeng, hit Maya directly!” The great dragon hits Maya with a savage gust from its wings, propelling her on her back. (MAYA LP 8000 à 4700) “I end my turn. I told you I’d punish you for a flippant move!”

“And so you have.” Maya says in a nonchalant way as she resumes her posture, not revealing the extreme pain wracking her chest. Dueling is the last thing you should do with broken ribs. With every breath making Maya feel like she is being stabbed, it was a wonder indeed she didn’t faint from the first duel.

“However,” Maya reveals to her former lover, winking at her. “You showed your hand too early, and no army of Technicolor dragons can compensate.”

“I’m not worried. No amount of cockiness will cover that bluff.”

“But you should be, Stella. You walked away from me last duel. You don’t know all my strategies. Who is disrespecting who again?”

Stella bites her lip on hearing those words. Maya is right.

Matthew, that manchild, comes up with something he thinks is the cleverest idea in the world. He calls upon the dark powers Xiaoyi bequeathed him, once more smothering the arena in a fog so black no sunlight can pierce it. The young man laughs in a villainous triumph, “The ultimate shadow game has begun! Former lovers, now you are the bitterest enemies! For the ultimate sadistic choice, only one of you can make it out alive, the other dies! How ironic, the one person you once loved more than any other is the person you kill! Who will it be!”

Maya and Stella both freeze from the news, but only for a moment. They effortlessly laugh it all off, throwing Matthew into bewilderment and frustration. “Are you kidding me!” Stella shouts from up the arena. “Everyone wants to kill their ex! Lamest! Supervillain! Plotwist! Ever!” Before she convulses into coughs.

“NO!” Matthew screams. “NO! NO! NOOOOOOO! You’re supposed to be full of despair!”

Maya yells at him, “You’re not Jigsaw! Take a seat, you amateur, and shut up! We’re having couples therapy over here!”

“But Xiaoyi says I’m a special villain. When will it be my turn to win for once?” Matthew whimpers with his eyes staring at the ground, and that just causes Maya and Stella to ridicule him even more.

MAYA’S TURN: “Speaking of which, I play Triangle Force, letting me activate 2 more from my Deck, and I set two cards. Good luck, Stella.”

STELLA’S TURN: “I’ll punch your confidence to the dirt with Matthew, where both belong, and because it’s a shadow game, you’ll feel the damage for real.”

“Nearly getting my ribs broken twice felt pretty real.” Maya objects.

“Then wait until you see my Yang Zings nuke you like China would nuke Japan if they wanted to; monsters, attack!” The dragon empress swung her sword at Maya while her partner fired a volley of wind and thunder, blowing the typhoon over to knock out the puny human that stood in its way.

“You fell for my second trap!” Maya declared. “I activate my 2 Traps, Power Wall!” Maya mills a total of 13 cards from her Deck, and both dragon emperors are rendered impotent. “I can’t use Burning Abyss monsters, but I can activate Toy Vendor in my Graveyard, adding a Fluffal Bear from the Deck to my hand.”

“Damnit.” Stella grits her teeth in frustration, then makes a gentle laugh. “You are slippery snake, aren’t you.”

This left-handed complement makes Maya smirk ever so slightly; she says, “Oh please, Xiaoyi called me a snake too, and both of you embarrass me. A snake implies mystique and elegance, and I have neither, nor would I want them. I’m more like an ass or a pig: stubborn and shameless, but shrewd and with good memory.”

“So that’s why you don’t eat pork. It would be cannibalism.”

MAYA’S TURN: “I activate Toy Vendor from my hand, then I banish Fluffal Wings and Fluffal Bear, and destroy Toy Vendor, to draw 2.” And the vendor appears and vanishes with a snap of the fingers. “I use Toy Vendor’s Effect in the Graveyard, adding a Fluffal Wing to my hand.”

Maya gives herself pause at this moment to relish what will come “Yes, everything is in place! It’s time for a little old combo to come back from the grave.” Before Stella can even ask what that cryptic comment means, Maya says, “People look with nostalgia to the past, until they experience it again. I banish two Burning Abyss monsters and Tour Guide to Special Summon DARK NECROFEAR!”

The dark arena grows even darker, if such a thing is even possible, as a ghost haunts the field, its presence so eerie even Kaiba gets the chills. “Come out!” Stella shouts, her voice growing in fear. “Show yourself!” And the fiend obliges her, condensing into human form from the darkness: of a tall gaunt woman in dark blue skin, holding the cracked remains of a baby doll.

Stella’s fear turns into fury. “What are you trying to pull, Maya!”

And Maya answered. “Donkeys live very long. You’ve never seen a dead donkey, have you? I set two cards facedown. Attack me, if you dare.”

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 21

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I’m reading the collection of Orwell’s essays titled All Art is Propaganda. In one of those essays, Orwell discusses the big gap – chasm, really – between writ English and spoken English, and suggests ways to set spoken English down on paper. Internet chats, like on Facebook and Twitter and Reddit, create a bridge in their own unique way. What you read now is how I sound like when trying to explain something complex to someone, after I tidied it up a bit; taking out my Valley Girl “likes” and “you knows”, erasing repeated phrases, joining block sentences together to link ideas together – I mentioned this before – and so forth. I will try writing future chapters the way I tell a story to someone, with refining. 

I have a larger ambition to rebuild the English language as we speak it from the ground up. I try avoiding most words with more than three syllables unless I’m forced to for some reason. I try making real physical people do things, not abstract concepts that do not truly exist. Epistemic poststructuralism does not state truths, Derrida states truths. I try using the active tense as much as I can. I try replacing a person’s “state of being” with actions that person. I try avoiding any jargon as much as needed. Rather than merely state a general truth or theory, I SHOW it with concrete examples.

I know, I still write badly. I talk about how to write, so my Author’s Note is pretty abstract. I will probably violate my rules even more, but I will try. Writing prose like the spoken word is pretty hard, but I can be more forceful and direct. What do you think? 

Duel 21 – Two Sides of the Same Coin

Mokuba jumped up the pyramid’s platform to attend to Mathias’ body, amazing since he was so small and short, and Stella hid her teary face with her hands, no longer able to control her grief. The tournament hosts looked on at a distant space far out the arena as if nothing special happened; Kaiba cold and scowling, Pegasus bemused as if watching Funny Rabbit. Rex and Weevil cried out together in shock and huddled around Stella. Even Maria came over to lend Stella a hand over her shoulder.

But Maya remained numb; she was locked to the tiny space of the ground she stood on, unable to move. She looked on with such a daze her vision became unfocused, vaguely making out the blurs she saw to be the doctors Mokuba summoned hauling Mathias’ large corpse away, doubting she ever felt as helpless in her life as she felt right now.

Matthew happily hopped off the arena, as satisfied as a fat cat after a hearty meal; his inner darkness apparently got full from the shadow game version of Fancy Feast. But our inner darkness, whether vengeance or envy or greed, or in Matthew’s case all three, is a bottomless stomach. Nothing truly satisfies it. Matthew looked pretty smug at this point, whispering in Maya’s ear, “I just beat buffalo chicken pizza man at his best game. I doubt you can bear the girth of my dark powers in the final duel.”

Maya did find a way to express her emotions, badly as usual. She fisted Matthew in the stomach as hard as she could, only half aware of what she was doing, and Matthew returned her favor by kicking her cunt, and Maya gave him a facial, clocking him the jaw. Both playground children clutched their wounds after their scrap, but neither would dare say they were hurt.

“I didn’t know you were a man, Maya.” Matthew taunted her, as if she needed balls to be wounded in the crotch.

Maya admitted he was right. “At least I have balls. You have nothing to kick.” And both duelists parted on that note.

Maya arrived to the medical room, seeing Mathias lying comatose next to Hannibal. Rex and Weevil sat against the wall, Stella sitting on a chair near the hospital bed. “Full yourself together.” Maya told her with a stiff voice. “Our duel is in fifteen minutes.”

Stella shot up from the chair like a rocket and grabbed Maya’s shoulders. She shook her. Her friend’s brain just probably died and she just stood there like Kaiba! What is her problem! Stella pulled at Maya like she was a shut clam, trying to force her open, but Maya struck back like a stubborn ass, kicking Stella away. Maya gripped the ivi needle penetrating Mathias’ vein, ready to pull it out, and roared like a wild animal, “Want to know how I feel! I am so distraught and angry I don’t know who to kill more; I want to kill Matthew like I wanted to kill my dad for years for doing everything he did, but I want to kill Mathias for failing us the way my mom failed protecting me and decided to drop dead instead! Words cannot describe the satisfaction I felt when Mathias finally died!”

Maya and Stella stood at exactly the same height yet Maya menaced over her, her black locks seeming to stand up, making her look larger the way a beast does when threatened or enraged. Mokuba and his team of doctors arrived to protect their patients, Mokuba threatening Maya with an ominous taser gun. Maya was sure pissed but she wasn’t stupid. She backed away from Mathias’ body.

“I knew you were messed up but I never thought you were an abuser.” Stella told her. “But I should’ve known better; you had all the signs.”

“I never so much as squeezed you’re tits too hard when we were together.”

“Until now, when you could’ve given me a miscarriage if I was pregnant.”

“It doesn’t count. We’re not together anymore.”

“It does matter. You abuse friends. It will only be a matter of time when you abuse partners too, assuming you didn’t abuse anyone before you met me.”

Maya complained, “You know, I never have these problems with men. Be pretty, fuck him often, and a man is happy. A man is simple and reasonable, but a woman complicates all that is petty and unworthy of serious thought with their stupid feelings. What more did you want me to do when we were together, Stella? Did you want me to buy presents for you every day? Hug you and say ‘I love you’ every passing hour? Happily let you do anything you wanted even if you were wrong?”

Stella stood her ground; she stared the beast in the eye and did not budge. “No, Maya. That is not what I – what women – what everyone – what even you need. We all have emotional needs to keep our hearts full. I’m sorry your heart starved throughout your life, so of course you wouldn’t know how feed it or anyone else’s.”

Mobuka prodded them both, his patience gone. “Divorce court is open air. Out.”

The two women sulked away from the medical room, Maya mumbling, “Mokuba being assertive? That’s a new one.”

She held Stella’s hand with her own hand, as if saying sorry for the violence she did earlier. Stella said, “I totally get you hating your dad and all, but why hate your mother for dying? She didn’t decide to die from lung cancer.” Maya refused to say anything, but Stella understood. Maya’s mother could have stopped Maya’s father father from hitting Maya until she bled and burning her mother’s hands with boiling water, but did not. “Can you please forgive your mother and your father? They’re only human. Don’t do it for me, do it for yourself.” When Maya said no, Stella added with the right force, “You will never defeat Matthew’s dark powers as long as you have darkness inside.”

“Did Yugi tell you?” Maya could not help but make sarcasm. “You must’ve watched episode 134 because Yugi lectured Kaiba on that very thing, as if Yugi ever had any real demons. Then again, he supposedly is a reincarnated pharaoh or something stupid like that, which makes him a god anyway.”

“But he spoke the truth; it’s still valid.” Stella responded, keeping her voice firm. “Can you forgive your parents?”

Nothing embarrassed Maya more than airing her daddy issues, like dirty laundry, out in the spring air, but when she felt Stella tighten her grip on her hand, and vowed, “I know I don’t show sentiments easily. What other people show with feelings I show by deeds. I promise you, as certain as the sun directly above us, I destroy Matthew in the finals and restore Mathias and Hannibal to life. You have my word.”

Stella placed her other hand on Maya’s cheek, caressing it with all the warmth and softness of a spring breeze. “You have to beat me first, silly.”

Maya remembered their first date, when Maya dueled Stella for her affection and barely won. “Then it’s a date.” And Maya headed off to the arena.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 20

Duel 20 – Clash of the Titans

Matthew draws his next card, forcing all his rage into the duel. He will kill Mathias, smash his head to the ground!

Matthew: 4000 || Mathias: 4000

MATTHEW’S TURN: “I activate Mound of the Bound Creator!” The Field Spell raises the pyramid top to the ground, four towers gilded with huge chains jettisoning to the top. The Act changes to another Scene. “Golden God Dragon, attack Thor!”

Mathias catches on to Matthew’s plan, thus countering, “I play Negate Attack! Your golden dragon’s Monster Effect is too slow to stop a Counter Trap!”

“As I foresaw.” Matthew then counters the counter. “Trap Jammer!” And the Trap Card shatters, and Thor shatters too. “And with Mound’s Effect, you take another 1000 damage!” Matthew commands thunder to spring from the four primeval pillars acting as lightning rods to strike Mathias down. (Mathias LP 4000 à 2500) Matthew snorts on seeing the pathetic sight, “Look how the mighty have fallen. I set a card.”

But as Matthew ends his turn, the frazzled Mathias jumps back to his feet, as strong as ever. “I banish a Nordic Beast from my Graveyard to revive Thor!” The smoky remains of the fire from Matthew’s dragon, gather together and blaze again, reforming the Nordic god, as if time is reversing. “And you take 800 damage.” Thor strikes Matthew down with lightning of its own from its fingertip, the impact knocking him to the ground. (Matthew LP 4000 à 3200)

“You’re pathetic, Matthew, to see you struggle from one little bolt.” Mathias scoffs at his would be student. “I set a card and end my turn.” On the inside of the mind, Mathias mulls over his strategy yet again. Matthew is like a glass cannon; he inflicts more damage but has a much weaker body. Perhaps Mathias can win the war of attrition and he won’t need to play his dangerous trump card. Atem used it against Malik in the Battle City finals, as it was the only Spell that could destroy the nigh invincible Winged Dragon of Ra. Matthew’s Golden God Dragon is clearly a similar beast.

MATHIAS’ TURN: “I use Dimension Recycle to return a banished Nordic monster. I switch Thor and Loki to Defense Position and set two cards facedown.” Mathias holds a small glimmer of hope. He drew one piece of the puzzle needed to defeat Matthew. 

MATTHEW’S TURN: The young man lifts himself up with much effort, recovering slowly, but he powers through. His small reveal of weakness is humiliating enough. Speaking of which: “3000 ATK plus monsters in Defense Position? Have you no shame?” He snorts at such cowardice. “Let me fix that for you: Final Attack Orders!” The two Nordic Gods stand once more ready for battle.

“Golden God Dragon, destroy Thor!” Under Matthew’s command, his dragon incinerates Thor once more. “And Mound deals you 1000 damage.” Matthew comments, gathering thunder from the pillars once more.

Mathias stands prepared, and acts at the key moment. “I activate Cosmic Cyclone! I banish your Mound of the Bound Creator!” A raging storm sweeps over the arena, dissolving Matthew’s Field Spell and returning everyone to the pyramid Scene.

“But you lose 1000 Life to play it, and soon you’ll lose far more. The result is the same!” Matthew argues back in resentful defiance, his golden dragon’s flames burning Mathias once more, but the Saint refuses to back down. (Mathias LP 2500 à 1000) “I set a card facedown.”

“And Thor rises again to deal you 800 damage.” Mathias counters, reviving Thor again through the usual means. “Now bow before God!” Thor strikes Matthew again, forcing him on his knees. (Matthew LP 3200 à 2400)

Matthew struggles back on his feet, grumbling, “You’re deadliest sin, pride, will come back to haunt you, Mathias.”

“Touché. Now it’s my turn.”

MATHIAS’ TURN: “I reuse Dimension Recycle once more to return a Nordic Beast monster. I play Pump Up on Thor!” His Spell doubles the god’s ATK to the 7000! The Lord of the Aesir busts in a golden aura, shattering his cloak and armor, its muscles bulging into terrible huge shapes.

Weevil and Rex duck for cover, both crying out, “Oh God, it turned into a Super Saiyan!”

“Thor, slay the dragon!” Mathias’ giant swings its hammer about to strike the head off its enemy. Thor swings in, coming centimeters close to ending the duel.

But Matthew wills the duel to continue; such is he, driven by an infernal hatred. “I play Storming Mirror Force! Now your God will bow before me!” But Mathias refuses, activating Trap Stun. But Matthew has a countermeasure in store. “I play Widespread Ruin!” But Mathias is one step ahead of him, activating Loki’s Effect to dispose of the Trap. But Matthew is yet another step ahead. “I activate Divine Wrath!” He discards a card from his hand; judgment reigns from on high to punish the trickster Nordic god for its impudence; while Thor is obliterates in an explosion from Matthew’s booby trap.

Mathias grits his teeth in frustration but feels a flicker of pride, not for himself but for Matthew. “That was an amazing chain. You would give Maya a hell of a fight in the finals, and I would want to see that more than anyone else. But you’re dueling me! I revive Loki and Thor, returning a Trap Card to my hand and giving you 800 damage.” The two gods reform from the darkness as if nothing happened to them, and Thor flicks Matthew with another thunderbolt. (Matthew LP 2400 à 1600)

MATTHEW’S TURN: “I destroy Thor with Golden God Dragon!” The cycle repeats; Matthew’s dragon wipes out Mathias’ Thor; Mathias revives Thor and deals Matthew his just desserts.

Both duelists have reached their limits, with Mathias standing at 500 Life while Matthew clings on to 800 Life. Matthew fairs far worse among the two, his legs warbling, his body slightly crouched and leaning ahead as if he is on shaking ground. Mathias looks a little worse for wear but he retains good shape with his usual confidence.

Yet Mathias’ resilience does not sooth Maya and Stella’s worries any bit. Mathias may look good but he is losing the duel, and if he does lose… he will fall into a coma as Hannibal did a mere two hours ago. Mathias has been nothing but a good friend to them, his odd affection rubbing off on them throughout the tournament. Mathias seemed so invincible both women forgot he was mortal after all, but now his very real chance of dying struck them with awful realization, like a poisoned dagger to the heart.

Stella recalls how she took her mother’s very existence completely for granted until she got breast cancer, and Maya paid for her surgery, greatly easing the financial burden. The same fears overtake her and the same tears well in her eyes, ready to fall at the slightest push.

Maya recalls her own mother, sweet and deeply warm yet never smiling, succumbing from her own cancer. She witnessed her mother’s dying in full, down to the death rattle leaving her throat and the light leaving her eyes, but felt nothing, overwhelmed by a kind of numbness. It was as if the conflicting emotions of grief on the one hand and a perverse kind of satisfaction on the other would tear the young girl to pieces if they warred against the other, so her body shut them down.

MATHIAS’ TURN: Mathias draws his next card. YES!!! The last piece of the puzzle! Finally the nightmare would end and he would have a blast taking Maya out in the finals and – one great Red Dragon would remain; he. Will it not prove him to be the evil the Headmaster had predicted?

“I set 2 cards…”

MATTHEW’S TURN: “I activate Night Beam, popping your middle facedown card!” Surely enough, a surveillance camera of sorts emerges from the darkness, fries the hidden Trap Card, Trap Stun, and discreetly dissolves away to whence it came. “I set a card and end my turn.”

MATHIAS’ TURN: The Saint gathers his courage to draw his last card. The moment of judgment is at hand. He pleads to his God with a quick and silent prayer; please may Matthew not win and the Headmaster’s prophecy not come to pass. “I activate the Set Spell Name Change! I treat Odin as ‘Dark Magician’, Thor as ‘Dark Magician Girl’, and Loki as ‘Magician of Black Chaos’! Now, my true Spell Ragnorak!”

Mathias banishes every monster he owns except for his Nordic gods, the field flooding with a spiraling train of Matthew’s monsters, the precession so grand it even catches the stoic Kaiba and Maria off guard. Maya and Stella jump with hope, even hugging each other for a second before remembering how they hated each other.

Pegasus tosses his hands in the air. “HALLELUJAH!” He ejaculates in adulation.

“I banish a Dragon from my Graveyard to save my monster!” Matthew cries, but Mathias soon corrects him. Ragnorak can’t be negated and no monster can avoid destruction. Odin, Thor, Loki, all three gods embrace Matthew’s one god, trapping it in a magic circle. A column of bright searing gold falls from the sky to the earth to return the golden dragon to its origins.

With Matthew’s field clear of monsters, Mathias can make an attack. “Now my Lords of the Aesir, smite the sinner and grant me victory!” The three Nordic gods strike Matthew with their strongest attacks – except they don’t. All the attacks bounce away from their target as if Matthew is protected by a massive wall, which he is. His Golden God Dragon has returned!

Mathias is dumbstruck. How!? Then he sees Matthew’s Permanent Trap: Dimension Gate. Matthew must have secretly banished his own monster when the beam of light from Ragnorak struck it, which should have finished Matthew off but only gave him the key to victory.

“You could have beaten me!” Mathias gasps in shock. “Why did you not attack last turn?”

Matthew smirks. “Pity.”

Matthew seizes the chance to victory, launching his devastating attack. “Dragon, kill him.” The Golden God Dragon rises into the black sky as a phoenix and crashes down on Mathias, the field overtaken in a deadly tornado of flames. Mathias screams in the agony of the damned, his Nordic gods burn away to ash, the finalists duck for cover.

Mathias thinks of his comrades, Dan and Ivy, once more, telling his heart he loved them, as if he could send his thoughts beyond the flames and darkness around him to reach them, and blacks out. His vengeance satisfied, Matthew calls upon his Golden God Dragon to leave. The flames die down, the dragon returns to the sky, the darkness lifts to reveal Mathias laying motionless on the ground. The Saint has fallen.

Matthew: 800 || Mathias: 0

 

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 19

Duel 19 – Dead Stalemate

Matthew has just summoned his ace monster, the Golden God Dragon, while Mathias lags behind, holding only two Nordic Gods in his camp. The duel rages on.

Matthew: 4000 || Mathias: 4000

MATTHEW’S TURN: “It’s time you feel the full power of all my dark magic.” He stretches out scaled mangled hand as far as he can, gathering the dark storm around him in a tighter and tighter swirl. “But more than that, I want to show how I am strong enough to be a Saint!”

“No amount of secondhand dark magic will make me proud of you.” Mathias gives his rebuttal. “Might as well show me a used car. Xiaoyi, your current ‘master’, sold you cheap, pretending your car was brand new.”

Matthew throws himself into a blind rage upon hearing those words, calling on the darkness, throwing bolts of black lightning wherever he can. Everyone drops down, fearing for their lives, except Mathias who calls upon his Ka to protect them; two wide golden-bronze wings form out of the darkness, embracing the field around him. Matthew’s shoots his angry bolts as hard as he can until he wheezes from fatigue, but none of them pierce through Mathias’ guard.

Mathias allows all of his Ka spirit to materialize from the darkness: Horus the Black Flame Dragon. And he gives Matthew utter reproach, “You’re an Aston Martin Lagonda; an old-fashioned dork trying to be cool and edgy. You can’t even decide if you want to be a sports car or not. But I am a 1961 Jaguar; mature as old wine, an honored classic. Xiaoyi sold you as a used car and will throw you away like a used condom when all is said and done, even if you win this tournament.”

Maya finds too much vault in Mathias’ words to bear, so she has to speak. “Is not pride a deadly sin, Mathias? If any Pixar movie deals with hubris it’s definitely not Cars. – And old wine is overrated, by the way. Make sure you’re not a bottle of concentrated grape juice, because that tastes like –––––, ––––––, and ––––– on a –––––, but if you like serving that ––––– be my guest.”

Matthew grows tired of this banter. “I’m getting my metaphors confused; am I car or do I drive a car, am I used for protection, or are we in Beauty and the Beast!? And how do you know about Xiaoyi!?”

“I saw her come to your rescue in our battle in Cairo.” Mathias explains. “And seeing her Ka spirit she most likely gave you knockoff of her dark powers. I divined who she was by using the dark magic known as GOOGLE!”

Matthew groans and rolls his eyes. “I’m tired of your lame jokes.” He calls upon the darkness to distillate a dark cloud, which forms into Matthew’s own Ka spirit: Horus the Black Flame Dragon. A moment passes where both duelists look at each other as if through a mirror, then Matthew distillates his spirit inside his Golden God Dragon.

“My powers are at maximum! Dragon, destroy Odin!” And his monsters beats its giant wings, crashing Odin into pieces, but not before the Nordic king of gods strikes the dragon in the heart with an attack of its own. “I banish a Dragon in my Graveyard to save it.” Matthew declares. “Your monster on the other hand…” The dragon’s wave of flames, amplified by Matthew’s dark powers, sweeps over Mathias; burning his skin and singing his clothes. Mathias gasps in shock. Matthew really isn’t kidding.

But as Matthew ends his turn, Mathias makes a move of his own: “I banish a Nordic Ascendant from my Graveyard to revive Odin and draw 1 card.” His wizened elder god returns to play.”

MATHIAS’ TURN: “I activate Dimension Recycle! Once per turn: I return a banished monster to its grave, and this turn I choose the monster I just banished.” The master duelist analyzes the field. Their battle will be a war of attrition, not just between the gods themselves but the duelists as well. “Odin, attack Golden God Dragon!” And his god calls upon a mighty blizzard only for Matthew to banish another Dragon to save from certain death. Odin, however, dies again, but the ice storm it conjured assails Matthew with hard pelts, bruising him.

The battle makes Mathias realize how hard his task will be. Matthew has at least ten Dragons in his Graveyard, not even counting the ones that may be in his hand. He must use a different plan, and bide his time for now. “I activate Dimensionhole: banishing Loki until my next turn.” The massive Loki shrinks into a dwarf, then disappears.

“I set a monster facedown. You’re move. If you think you’re worthy enough to be a Saint, prove it by beating me.” As he speaks those very words, Odin resurrects from the Graveyard; Mathias banishes a monster from the Graveyard and draws a card.

MATTHEW’S TURN: “With pleasure, old fool! Dragon, attack Odin!”

Just as Mathias wants. “I activate Shift, switching your dragon’s attack!” Matthew scoffs at the play. Is Mathias an idiot? Golden God Dragon can’t be targeted! – But wait! Odin and the mystery monster disappear and reappear in an instant, the unknown creature revealed to be Super-Nimble Mega Hamster before it dies. Mathias allows himself a tiny smirk to help lighten his mood. “Shift technically targets my monster, not yours.”

“Stupid gerbil…” Matthew grumbles, his plans foiled.

Hamster, Matthew. Life is in the details. And with its Effect I set a Level 3 Beast facedown, but I also activate Tanngnjostr of the Nordic Beast, Special Summoning it from my hand.” A goat of dark fur leaps from Mathias’ hand unto the field in Defense Position.

MATHIAS’ TURN: “My turn begins, and so Loki returns.” And Loki does return, but in a normal Monster Zone, meaning Mathias has space for one more god. “I flip Tanngrisnir of the Nordic Beasts faceup and put Tanngnjostr in Attack Position, which means I use it’s Effect to Special Summon Guldfaxe of the Nordic Beasts from my Deck.” A fiery steed joins the company of the dark and light goats. “I tune all three to Synchro Summon THOR, LORD OF THE AESIR!” His monsters transform into majestically big rings and stars, and from this portal the hearty and barbarous Thor, the last Nordic God, arrives.

“I use Dimension Recycle to return my banished Nordic Ascendant monster, and end my turn.”

Everyone gazes at the three Nordic Gods in awe. – Weevil almost soils himself just from remembering his last match with Mathias. – Even Matthew enjoys the sublime sight. “So this is the Holy Trinity assembled. It’s beautiful, but I have a question: how does the Holy Trinity go to the bathroom anyway? Is it three mouths, one bowel?”

Mathias darkened his features on hearing such blasphemy. “What do you mean?”

So Matthew accounts his argument: “I learned that a God can’t exist, at least not a good one. Otherwise there would be no suffering in the world. I would still be America’s national champion. I would never have lost everything, even the memory of my grandfather. I would have never spiraled in depression. I would not be here now.”

“I won’t dignify such a petulant opinion.” Mathias barks back. “Did your dog die too? Everyone suffers. We would not be human nor have free will without suffering, gifts so sacred not even the angels have them.”

Matthew sighs, shaking his head in wistful melancholy. “Me being rich and famous meant something deeper: that everyone had a unique place in the world and a rightful destiny along with it. I was rich and famous because I had a higher nobler soul. I stopped believing in God since I was ten; it simply fazed out, but I understand how my views came from a God I no longer believed in. Everyone had a unique place, but team Dark Duelists,” He glances at Maya for half a second, “chose their own destiny, and they won.”

Mathias offers his wisdom: “Yes, we are made in God’s image, but we are fallen creatures. Yet we always have a choice; we can strive to realize God in virtue and perfection in whichever way is best for us. God gives us the power to choose, but nothing more. Our mothers give us a little push, and we walk on two feet from there onward. We can never be like God, but it is always a goal worth striving for, and it is our imperfection that gives us infinite potential.”

“That is a rather existential way of being a Christian.” Maya comments. She expects nothing less from Mathias. Borrowing from the Saint’s worldview, she speaks to Matthew, “As you were once Christian, you will understand your soul will reach a final destination, which reflects nothing less than what you chose. Thy will be done. Do you will to spiral into madness, burning yourself out as you do so? Do you will to be a pawn for an uncaring marshal, a little piece who gets sacrificed, then is forever forgotten?”

Maya hopes her words will edify Matthew in some way, but they do not. The rogue young man clenches his first so hard his untrimmed nails pierce the skin. “I am no pawn! I am a king!” Matthew shouts in defiance to the world. “I don’t follow some stupid God as sheep Christians do! When I win this tournament, my dark powers will be complete! I will make my own world as a man, the highest stage of evolution!”

Maya bursts into laughter, while oddly burning with anger at the same time, as Matthew’s little manifesto is silly and infuriating. “You jumped from reactionary Christian to reactionary atheist. Congratulations! I tip my fedora to you. What will you do with your boundless power after you win, my Ubermensch? I bet nine times out of ten you will bitch about women not dating you, then you will shoot up a school before killing yourself. If your grandfather could see you, he would disown you.”

“Maya NO!!!” Mathias screams in fear, but it is too late. Matthew screams as a lunatic, careening off the deep end, his dark powers bursting with terrible lightning storms around him, threatening to destroy the entire pyramid with his blind rage. Mathias once more extends his metaphysical wings to protect the arena, but his powers could only protect the finalists from Matthew’s direct attacks, not from its devastating effects.

Stella hops away from the cracks in the ground threatening to cave the entire duel arena, admonishing to Maya, “You said that just to piss him off, didn’t you?”

“Of course!” Maya shouts to Stella over the earthquake growling beneath them.

“Typical! Just typical!”