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.

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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!”

 

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 18

Duel 18 – Advent of the Titans

“THE SEMIFINALS BEGINS NOW! MATTHEW CARTER VERSUS MATHIAS BLACKHEART!”

Matthew Carter and Mathias Blackheart ignored Isono’s declarations, as well as all the other duelists coming to watch the battle. They would duel at their own pace. Mathias timidly opened the first volley of the duel; words: “Perhaps you are angry about five years ago, when you wanted to be a Saint and I rejected you.”

Matthew shook his head in a casual way, which was surprising. “I am not. You beat me in a duel but told me, in essence, that I was selfish, petty, and lacked imagination. I was reactionary, a fatal flaw to you, and you know what? That’s fine. I understand how everything means so little.”

These remarks truly puzzled Mathias, but he knew better than to ask. He would find his answers in the duel. “Matthew, if you’re having an existential crises, do yourself a favor and pay a shrink to deal with your issues. You have more than enough money.”

“Touche, Blackheart.” Matthew stretched his ruined his right as a demon’s claw, his magic blocking out the sun and all the sweet island around with an oppressive black mist. The shadow game had begun.

Matthew: 8000 || Mathias: 8000

MATTHEW’S TURN: “I set a monster and two cards. A right timid opening; the student copies the master.”

MATHIAS’ TURN: “Very well. You gave me an opening, and I will use to full effect! I Normal Summon Valkyrie of the Nordic Ascendant, and use her Effect: I banish two Nordic Monsters to Special Summon 2 Einherjar Tokens. I tune them all to Synchro Summon ODIN, FATHER OF THE AESIR!” One Valkyrie – no, three – surprisingly sweet and mild, offer themselves to the father god. Finding the offerings to his liking, the lord of all Nordic monsters appears.

“Odin, destroy Matthew’s monster!” The god stretches his hand. He smites the hidden creature with ease. “I set a card.”

Before Mathias could say, “You’re move.” Or something like that, Matthew ended the turn for him, “I play Dragon Buffer!” Matthew’s Trap conjures 4 Buffer Tokens made of stone.

MATTHEW’S TURN: “Bringing it all out, I see. I want nothing less from the master. I want you to justify to me why you are a master who can reject prospecting students.”

“I am because I said so.” Mathias tersely rebukes the insolent young man. “Now SHUT UP and make your move! No one talks more than I do!”

“I will let my cards speak louder than you ever could. I link 2 Dragon Buffers to Link Summon Hieratic Seal of Celestial Spheres, and activate Polymerization, fusing the other 2 Dragon Buffers to Fusion Summon The First of the Dragons!” Two dragons appear; an ascendant trinity of spheres floating above and a primitive dragon yet to develop arms and legs crawls below.

“I banish the monster you destroyed; Janur, the Dark Dragon Held, to Special Summon Horus the Black Flame Dragon LV6!” A silver hawk-headed dragon with a hawks head, a smaller version of Mathias’ own spirit Ka, bursts from a torrent of flames below, screeching loudly to announce its coming. “But I have a gift for you, Mathias, you get 2 Dragon Shade Tokens on your field. Horus, destroy one of them!” Matthew’s dragon dissipates the shadow with its fiery breath as darkness vanquishes light. “I end my turn, and with it Horus LV6 evolves into Horus the Black Flame Dragon LV8!” The silver dragon bursts in flames, growing larger, its scales turning from silver to bronze-gold.

The whole event triggers a series of flashbacks within Maya. Matthew conjured Horus within their very first duel, and that’s how he beat her. Is he now trying to tell her a message? The Horus Deck Matthew used at the time was a secondary deck, a fun deck he took for a spin, but now he merged Horus into his real deck. Maya is impressed, not just by Matthew but from Maria, even from Weevil of all people. She has the challenge she wanted.

Mathias, meanwhile, is too stricken to make his move. Matthew grows impatient, demanding why, and Mathias answers, “As you know, we Saints are based in an Irish monastery, sworn to protect the world from evil. The Headmaster warned with a prophecy, that the Devil would reveal himself to us as a great red dragon, threatening to destroy the world. I know it sounds like a lame movie plot, but…”

Mathias breathed deeply and concentrated, letting his spirit Ka grow out of him. He throws all caution to the wind of how the people of the world will react when they see that ancient magic is real. Matthew reveals his own Ka, with even less care.

All of this pleases Matthew greatly. “No matter how this duel ends, you lose the game. If I win, the Devil destroys the world. If you win, well, you might be the Devil after all.” Mathias, the mighty Saint, is only human after all.

MATHIAS’ TURN: “Don’t get cocky, brat! If I am the Devil, you have Hell to pay!” Odin, strike down the Hieratic Spheres!” The Spheres shine from their pleasant yellow glow to a harsh white light; Matthew is using their Effect to try to bounce Odin. But Mathias has none of it. “I activate Breakthrough Skill, negating your Spheres!”

“Oh no.” Matthew gasps, the Hieratic Spheres burn out into orbs of black ash. Odin smites the pagan Spheres as the Lord smote Sodom and Gomorrah, and likewise the wrathful hail of fire strikes Matthew down. (Matthew LP 8000 à 4000)

Mathias uses the object lesson to admonish Matthew, “This is why you cannot be a Saint. You got cocky, so you blundered, and suffered my wrath.”

Matthew revives himself with great strength and groaning, but is hardly deterred. Calmly, he explains, “As you know, Hieratic Spheres requires me to tribute a Hieratic monster, and that monster was Hieratic Dragon of Su. And as you know, when a Hieratic Dragon gets tributed, I Special Summon a Normal Dragon from my Deck. Appear now, Hieratic Seal of the Sun Dragon!” A new sphere appears in the air, but far larger, and as bright as the sun itself.

Mathias easily sees his upstart opponent’s ploy. “So you have a contingency plan. I’m genuinely impressed. You know what truly disappoints me, Matthew? It is your squandered potential; how you have the right intellect of a Saint but a perverse will. Do what you will. Gather your Materials to Summon your Golden God Dragon.”

MATTHEW’S TURN: “If you insist, old man. I overlay Horus LV8 and Hieratic Seal to Xyz Summon Galaxy-Eyes Cipher Dragon and overlay it to Xyz Summon Number 95: Galaxy-Eyes Dark Matter Dragon!” His two large golden dragons give way to a new dragon as black as night, its wings so vast they cover the entire field. “And with its Summoning comes its Effect: I mill 3 Dragons from my Deck.” And Mathias banishes 3 monsters from his.

“Dark Matter Dragon, destroy Mathias’ pathetic Dragon Shade Token!” And the dark dragon easily absorbs such a tiny shadow into itself. “I set a card and end my turn.”

“I set a card and end my turn.”

MATHIAS’ TURN: “I set 1 card facedown.”

MATTHEW’S TURN: “Dark Matter Dragon, destroy Odin!” Matthew declares with an animals ferocity, letting all his hate and anguish boil to the surface.

“You asked for it!” Mathias shouts in defiance. The two huge beasts clash in a spectacular struggle, but only the dark dragon remains. Odin falls, its collapse nearly shattering the entire dueling arena.

Matthew’s plan gains momentum, and its author dare not stop it. “I activate Xyz Reborn, reviving Dark Matter Dragon!” Matthew’s monster reappears as a stylized ankh; it glows, then transforms back to its old self. “Attack Mathias directly with your greatest attack!” The dark dragon strikes Mathias down with a sphere of black lightening, throwing the Saint to the very edges of the field. (Mathias LP 8000 à 4000)

Mathias chuckles in amusement and spits blood from his mouth. “Looks like the prep school brat can pack a punch after all. I guess we’re now even.”

Matthew sets a card, ending his turn.

MATHIAS’ TURN: “I play Pot of Acquisitiveness, returning 3 banished monsters to my Deck and drawing a card. Next, Rainbow Return! I bring back 3 banished Nordic monsters to the field but I can’t attack this turn!” Matthew and the other finalists can see the vague form of a vast tree, the World Tree, behind Mathias, and a rainbow spiraling it, and through it the monsters Svartalf of the Nordic Alfar, Tanngnjostr of the Nordic Beasts, and Mimir of the Nordic Ascendant return.

“I tune them all to Synchro Summon LOKI, LORD OF THE AESIR! I SUMMON THEE!” Lightning from high above destroys the three offerings, and the great trickster god is summoned.

Weevil blinks three times, remarking, “Mathias Summoned Loki before Thor? What alternate dimension are we living in?”

“I don’t care!” Rex grabs Weevil with all his strength, the two huddling together. “I’m scared!”

“I hope you’re not a pussy like those two.” Mathias challenges Matthew, pointing to Rex and Weevil below. “You’re move, kid.”

MATTHEW’S TURN: “Challenge accepted, prick. I activate Pre-Preparation of Rights, adding a Ritual Monster and Ritual Spell to my hand. And here they come: Hymn of Light; I Tribute a monster in my hand to Ritual Summon Saffira, Queen of Dragons!” A generic Hieratic monster appears, dissolves into white shards, and reorders itself into a graceful sapphire dragon. “I use her Effect to draw 2 cards, then discard 1. I next activate Monster Reborn, reviving my Hieratic Spheres!” The trinity of bright orbs takes to the sky once more.

“My Materials are all in place! I banish them all to Super Transcendent Dimension Summon my greatest servant; GOLDEN GOD DRAGON!” His monsters transform into four celestial rings: one violet, one blue, one black, and one dark blue. All align into one column, appearing from everyone’s point of view as four circles reflected from a point of light far above, each lower circle bigger than the one above it. The light flares, shooting through all rings, and the titanic gold dragon forms gradually, a higher dimension being slipping through the lowly third dimension.

Mathias says, “Super Transcendent Dimension Summon. Really?”

“Yes, I made it up because it was cool!” Matthew protests, his pride scorned. “Burn me at the stake, will you!”

“Sweet Irish Jesus, you are a pretentious twat.”

“Says the guy ignoring that black Jew witch over there!” Matthew points indignantly at Maya. “That woman is trying to be the next Beethoven, but with children’s card games!”

Maya shrugs the petulant insult off her shoulders without a care in the world. “A game can be a sport and an art. – You know, half and half. – This one tournament raked in five times the money the Super Bowl did. Not like I had the opportunity to refine my better talents, unlike someone I know.”

Matthew’s voice changes suddenly, dropping an octave into a low threatening growl. “You ruined my life.”

“You ruined your own life.” Maya quickly strikes back. “You had four years to recover after I beat you. When you beat me, I didn’t even have one day.”

“Believe me when I say this,” And Matthew swears under the sun. “Once I beat the Saint I will bury you, the Devil, next.”

“Guess your shit granddad should’ve named you Michael.” Maya’s remark throws Matthew into a terrible tantrum; the man curses the entire world, even his grandfather for daring to be his idol only to be broken.

Kaiba has enough, throwing a terrible tantrum of his own. “I don’t care who the Devil is! The Inquisition is over! Continue your witch trial after the duel!” He curses at Mathias in a low voice, “Goddamned Catholics.”

“I HEARD THAT!”

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 17

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Trying to curb the long sentences, but I still want to convey nuance of the characters, and I dislike block sentences. Let’s see how things work out now.

Duel 17 – Hollywood Sickness

Sophia and Yukio had taken the first flight back to New York as soon as the finalists had boarded Kaiba’s jet to that mysterious island to fight in the finals. Jolene had greeted them at as soon as they entered her apartment to stay for the night, showing sweet kisses on their faces, and had quickly joined them to watch the finals live on TV. Even JC had arrived, returning from Chicago to his home city and reuniting with old friends, to see the great event unfold before their eyes.

With the intense quarterfinals finished at this point, everyone took a break they sorely needed, even though they did not duel themselves, taking out Thai food and watching YouTube videos. Jolene set up her Google Plus, calling Maya with it…

Nothing came through to her phone on the other side. JC, grumpy as usual, gave a loud deep snort. Of course Kaiba and Pegasus wanted their finalists to be totally isolated! With no one to help them, they could only rely on themselves. Yukio agreed but added that the finalists would, through battle, alone, would mirror nothing less than each other’s hearts. Sophia added her own view; this is what Maya wanted. Such a contest was bound to happen sooner or later.

JC slapped Yukio in the back, scoffing: “That’s weird!” He pointed at Sophia, almost hitting her nose with his finger. “You’re weird! You’re all weird, like Saiyans from Dragonball Z! You have a death wish where you push yourself to your limits and die trying, don’t you?”

“Hey, I thought that was what you wanted.” Yukio said with a twinkle in his eye. “You ranted on the Internet four years ago how about how you wanted to die young in a ball of glory, fully aware that you were dying, instead of dying in sleep an old man. A lot has changed in four years.”

Jolene took advantage of the opportunity to eat all the Thai food she could, but Sophia endeavored to do the same, and they scrapped each other with chopsticks.

Jolene remarked: “Jeez! This little thing bites after all!”

“I’m taller than you.” Sophia reminded her.

“By one inch!” said Jolene.

JC and Yukio gave each other knowing glances, enjoying the show but wishing more. The only thing better than a catfight was a naked catfight, and our young men were very happy inside.

But Jolene had a very different idea, pulling out a deck of tarot cards, setting five of them in a diamond shape, the fifth card as the center. JC and Yukio balked at her; JC screeching how dumb and gay and stupid and fat and gay and irrational were New Age things like tarot cards; Yukio snidely commenting how Jolene needed to stop rubbing crystal balls and start rubbing other balls instead, if you what I mean.

Maya would have used a booster pack of random Yugioh cards to predict a mundane and ridiculous event that was bound to happen; like Jolene would shit her bowels out after eating too many chili dogs in a party with friends after Maya returned. In fact, she actually did that four years ago. Jolene scoffed at the idea; eating chili dogs was a vice JC indulged in, not she.

Sophia, however, was tolerant, and said nothing.

Jolene flipped the first card, representing the past: “The Devil; we have been enchained to our base desires, our lusts, our materialism; in the throws of the depths of the unconscious.” She flipped the second card, representing the present. “The Thunderstruck Tower reversed; the impact of sudden, groundbreaking change, is not as severe as we fear and is avoidable, or we are trying out hardest to prevent change, unwilling to let go of what we are used to.” And the last card, the future: “The Fool reversed; recklessness, poor timing, naivety, fear of taking risks and settling for the mundane… None of this makes any sense.”

Yukio waxed philosophical, “What is human life but a gant clusterfuck where we attempt to find meaning when there is none.”

“I told you tarot cards were dumb and gay and stupid and fat and gay and irrational.” JC grunted, and he proceeded to convert Jolene to extreme atheism; not that gay mealy-mouthed agnostic shit, real atheism. “Have you ever heard of Christopher Hitchens, our Lord and Savior?”

“I heard he is a fat drunk.” Jolene said, infuriating JC to argue with her. Yukio jumped to her defense and took up the lively mockery of a debate in her. He was no longer her boyfriend but still sometimes acted like one.

Sophia looked in the mirror in boredom, but what she saw caught her eye. The tarot cards seemed to make sense now; the Fool for the past, the Thunderstruck Tower for the present, the Devil reversed for the future, and behind them all lay a small globe of the earth.

————————————————————–

Maya searched the whole island for Stella but in vain, checking the steps of the pyramid, the sandy road to the large cabin, including each room inside. Stella was nowhere to be found.

Maya noticed how the paintings of each bedroom for each finalist vaguely reflected the inner natures of their tenants: Matthew’s room crowned with gold pyramids and obelisks; Hannibal’s room adorned with wistful Greek ruins; Weevil’s room like a diorama from the American Museum of Natural History; Mathias’ room a pale copy of Michelangelo’s Last Judgment; Tamas’ room left blank; Stella’s room surrounded by a prelapsarian herd of unicorns; Maria’s room shining with a Blue-Eyes White Dragon under the moon; and Maya’s own room blazing with a Blake-inspired sun above and a simple wooden desk below.

But none of these rooms held Stella within them, so Maya continued her search, finding Stella sitting on the beach wistfully gazing at the waves ahead of her, her eyes unfocused. Maya said, “Stella, you will face me in the semifinals. You can’t run away from me anymore. Let’s talk.”

Stella spoke in a voice so low it was almost a whisper. “Odd. Now you want to talk things out instead of avoiding any intimacy between us.”

“If we don’t resolve it now we will resolve it in our duel.”

“No, Maya, dueling can’t resolve this problem. Nothing can heal my heart from what you did to me.”

Maya got utterly exasperated at this point. “Can you please explain to me why our past relationship weighs so heavily on your shoulders, and why you decided until now of all times to bring it up. I never hit you. I never cheated on you. I never spent your money. I never spoke ill of you to others. Stop acting like a typical movie girlfriend; it is unbecoming of your character. Don’t be coy with me.”

“Wow, talk about internalized misogyny.” Stella remarked.

“Shallow Hollywood directors and dogmatic feminists have internalized misogyny, not me.” Maya snapped at her. “What I do despise is people acting along such stereotypes instead of killing them with extreme prejudice, such as you are doing right now.”

By this point Stella stood on her feet, brushing the sand from her jeans, and contested Maya, face to face. “Yes, you quit your libertine habits, all for me, and I am grateful for it. You were a fine partner, but only with basic human decency that everyone should have. When I got to know you better it made sense; no one had ever shown you basic human decency when you were growing up, so naturally you assumed such decency was an extraordinary kindness.

“I learned who you truly were. You became so cold with me, never giving me the kind words or thoughtful gifts you used to do. You became so distant, no longer sharing your thoughts with me, even in bed. You became such a bitter misanthrope, always complained about how terrible everyone was and how hopeless we all were.”

Did Maya not have to remind Stella again? She refuted her, “I told you I was getting sober, figuratively from Hollywood sickness and literally from drink. You don’t understand; I grew up in a project building with no future other than becoming a bank teller, a cop, or going into the military. – I made tomato sauce for spaghetti with ketchup I stole from McDonald’s, eating such a meal with my father at least fifty times. – ‘Following my dreams’ of becoming a great writer and musician was never an option. Dueling was a miracle from God; do you know what it is like to suddenly get so much wealth and power, how such a sudden change is like to a former nobody like me?”

Stella did not give up reaching to her former lover, she said, “I know, but when you got sober, so to speak, I saw you behind the mask. – Are you even aware how often you put it on? – Yes, you are fierce, witty, lively, driven to succeed, but underneath you are a peevish, melancholic, and pathetic woman. No amount of success and dominance, not even becoming world champion, will make you happy.

“Before you tell me how you only want to win to pay off your debts or whatever excuse; baloney, you’re doing it to conquer the world and prove a point. I don’t know what your point is – I don’t even think you know what exactly is – but it’s not for money. There is no way someone like Bandit Keith could make Yugioh equal to chess or into a kind of art as you did.”

Maya cast her head down, looking at Stella’s shoes, the sand between them, the shadows behind them. “You fell in love with me. You thought you knew me. Now you know me.”

“I worry most of all about you.” Stella touched Maya’s cheek, trying to reach her, but Maya dared not be anything but stone. “What more will you want after this tournament, and what desperate horrible things will you do afterward to get it? I must be honest; seeing you become world champion would be like Hitler winning World War II.”

Maya said, “Oh, you shouldn’t have. I never thought I’d have that much influence.”

“Keep your jokes to yourself.” Stella said, checking her iPhone for the time. “Five minutes left. I’ll prepare my deck for our upcoming fight.”

“You’d better. I’m coming for you.”

“Please stop being a creep.”

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 15

Duel 15 – Tighter Knots

Maya struggles to stand on her feet, her knees wobbling and her chest burning from her fractures ribs, but she forces her way onward. She cannot lose this tournament. She might as well die if she had to because if she loses she won’t have a life, anyway. Maya even realizes the humor in these words; people would laugh if any other Yugioh character said it, and maybe some would even laugh at her, but she needs the money more than anything. The banks would use her crushing debts to drive her homeless and, well, she might as well striptease or turn tricks for Wall Street stockbrokers, but as enticing as the thought of a rich a****** snorking coke from her ass seems to her, it is not a fate she will tolerate.

Maria: 4600 | Maya: 1500

MAYA’S TURN: “I play Jewels of the Valient; each time I banish a card from my Graveyard, I get a mill a card. Dark Summoning Beast gives me the perfect opportunity; I banish it to add a Sacred Beast monster to my hand, and this lets me mill a Carboneddon. Next, the Permanent Spell Card Triangle Force, putting three more from my Deck to the field, and I destroy them all to Special Summon Hammon, Lord of Striking Thunder. I offer my Phantasm Token to Tribute Summon my second Dark Summoning Beast, and Tribute it to Special Summon Uria, Lord of Searing Flames from my Deck!”

The bright sky broils into dark clouds yet again, hailing the dark advent of two more huge fiendish beasts; all three together resembling the three Egyptian Gods: Raviel for Obelisk, Uria for Ositis, and Hammon for Ra. “I activate Fallen Paradise to draw two cards, and I use Uria’s effect to pop Maria’s faecdown card.” The red fiend of illusions blasts away its target with a gust of flames. “I combine the Sacred Beasts together – I don’t need Polymerization to fuse them. – I call form Armityle the Chaos Phantom!” Raviel, Uria, and Hammon melt into each other, their limbs and organs fusing together into a serpentine body, Uria’s head becoming the left arm and Hammon’s head becoming the right, creating the ultimate illusion beast.

Mathias himself gases at the ancient creature in wonder. Maya’s titan truly calls back to the dark mystic past before the gods of Olympus and their era of Apollo’s glowing beauty. It is the closest embodiment to Typhon he can think of, holding ginormous 10,000 ATK!

Maya is still yet to fisnish. “I have two Carboneddon sleeping in the Graveyard; I banish them to Special Summon two Dragons from my Deck: Labradorite Dragon and Wattail Dragon.” As carbon is forged into diamond, Maya’s two lowly dinosaurs are ground under immense pressure to create two rare, bejewled dragons, one of light, the other of darkness.

Maria knows what will happen next; Maya will bring out the same Tzolkin combo Matthew did in his duel, and says as much to suggest Maya is not so inventive after all. But Maya dismisses the suggestion outright, “No, I am being even less inventive.”

She calls once more upon Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal, this time two dragons rather than Dante become the Xyz Material. “I use her effect to mill Calabrina, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, and use its effect to bounce your other facedown card.” And Maya’s target vanishes in due time. “Two down, one to go. I’ll burn the last one out with an attack! Raviel, destroy Chaos MAX Dragon! Eat 10,000 ATK for afternoon brunch!”

Marai springs her trap, “Negate Attack!” And the phantom’s beasts onslaight is repelled, sparing Maria and her monsters.

“I expected as much.” Maya bemoans. “I set two cards and end my turn.”

Seto Kaiba, scowling and unreadable as ever, surveys the battle in a way he had never done before; there is something very new at work. Nearly every duelist until now, himself included, built their decks as a pyramid, their strategies culminating into an ace monster they held a special bond with, such as his Blue-Eyes White Dragon; his stronest servant, his very pride and soul. Everything revolves around that monster, or a few key monsters, creatures that a duelist puts all his faith in carry him to victory.

But Maya’s entire strategy is inverted; her deck a spider web of equally interconnected parts, with Beatrice as the spider in the middle, her gravity holding everything else together. From that center, Maya can reach into any corner of her web to achieve any effect she desires; there is no true ace monster. Kaiba saw only a few such atheists back in his day: Pegasus turned whatever cards his opponent used against him, Bakura used his monsters as fodders to achieve a terrifying lock combo, even Yugi used various strategies where his Dark Magician was a favorite but one of many. To think people worship that twerp but completely miss his gaming style.

Kaiba snorts at Maya’s performance with contempt, “The Sacred Beasts are bootleg copies of the Egyptian Gods at best, the poor man’s form of divine strength. What is Armityle’s 10,000 ATK compared to the Infinite ATK of the Gods fused together?

MARIA’S TURN: “I activate Trade-In, discard a Blue-Eyes to draw two cards. Maya, your Armityle is strong but only during your turn. Now, on my turn, its ATK is 0. Chaos MAX, destroy Armityle! DARK NOVA!”

But the light-warming destructive energy never reaches it’s target. Maya refutes her with Fiend Grieving, “I return the Blue-Eyes you discarded to your Deck, and I mill Fiendish Rhino Warrior, which lets me mill Farfarello, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, and I use it’s effect.”

“That won’t save you! Even if Chaos MAX is banished I still – Oh!” Armityle dissapears, leaving Maria to still adjust her eyes to the titanic-sized voide left behimd from it’s dissapearence. “I instead direct Chaos MAX to kill Beatrice, and since she is in Defense Position I inflict double piercing damage!”

“I use Beatrice’s effect to mill Scarm, and I play Damage Diet!” Maya’s fair angel is vaporized, leaving the offending dragon’s wrath to pursue its true mission, but the Trap Card slows it down enough until only a mild blast hits Maya. Getting punched in the ribs doesn’t hurt – Getting punched in the broken ribs doesn’t hurt! (Maya LP 1500 → 300)

But though Maya barely hangs on the game, she still shows her infinite resiliance. “Beatrice was destroyed, letting me Special Summon directly from the Extra Deck Dante, Pilgrim of the Burning Abyss!” Dante returns, completed by Beatrice, his journey to God complete. “With his arrival, I discard Ciriatto, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss and draw a card, then use its effect to Special Summon Graffiacane, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss from the Deck.” Her old fiend, the nasty dog, returns, making a painful contrast with the great pilgrim.

An understanding dawns on Maria; that this scene of devout and devil forms the core of Maya’s character, but the devil tugs on its leash as a rougue hound, tearing its noble but weak master to wherever its caprices demand it must go. A similar insight reveals itself to Mathias. Yugioh really is a strange game.

Maria sees another fatal weakness in Maya’s forces: her Cherub; being a Link Monster, it can’t defend itself. “Firewall Dragon, attack Cherub!” The online dragon creates a gateway, then launches from it a deadly virus code to kill the black cherub.

But Maya has more tricks up her nonexistent sleeve, activating, “Absolute King Back Jack! Banishing it from the Graveyard, I excavate my Deck’s top card, and if it’s a Trap Card…” If there is such a thing as the Heart of the Cards, Maya could sure use it now, and she prayed to God/Satan/Buddha/Flying Spaghetti Monster/Great Spirit/Orochi the Neckbeard/The Universe/No One/Whatever it would be the right card. She drew it… “I play Raigeki Break!” She discards a card from her hand, and directs the lightning to destroy her own monster, breaking her black cherub. And as if that isn’t enough, she mills another card due to Valient.

Maya breathes a deep sigh of relieve and winks at Maria, saying, “I needed a lucky break too.”

Maria reluctantly admits that Maya survives another turn. “Blue-Eyes, destroy Dante! Dragon Spirit of White, destroy Graff!” Saint and fiend burn to ash, letting Maya use their effects: Dante forces Maria to discard a card while Graff lets Maya Special Summon Calcabrine, Malebrache of the Burning Abyss, yet another Fiend, to the field. Maria sets two cards, ending her turn, which lets Armityle to return and Scarmiglione, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss to fetch yet another Burning Abyss monster for its master.

MAYA’S TURN: “I activate my facedown Toy Vendor, the one I set facedown two turns ago, then activate Fluffal Wings, banishing itself and Fluffal Bear, and popping Toy Vendor, to draw two cards. Then I use Vendor’s effect to search for Fluffal Dog.”

Now for the turn proper. “I Normal Summon Rubicante, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, and tune it with Calcab to Synchro Summon Dante, Rock Star of the Burning Abyss! And I use its effect to bounce your facedown card.” The red-faced terror and grace-stomper vanish into a white portal so the famous Roman poet descends from Elysium to Earth, and as soon as he does so Maria loses one of her defenses. “I use Destiny Hero – Malicious from the Graveyad, banishing itself to bring out another one from the Deck, then I overlay it and Virgil to bring out a second Beatrice, Lady of ther Eternal!”

As soon as the holy angel finishes her advent, Maya turns her attention to a possible victory, but most likely, as Maya fully knows, a strategic step to burn out her defenses. Not having a backrow of facedown cards did not guarantee a sucessive hit these days. “Armityle, take out Chaos MAX!” The titan combines darkness, fire, and lightning to recreate the dark primeval waters of myth, and pushes them unto Maria’s field as a massive tital wave, threatening to overwhelm everything.

“I play the Hand Trap Soul Desperation!” Maria calls forth a huge black altar, her tone as desperate as her card implies, offering her entire dragon army to the hungry altar, leaving her wide open but increasing her Life enough to withstand the dark waters of Armityle… and the light fires of Beatrice. (Maria LP 4600 → 16600 → 4100) The combined attacks become so strong, Maria is nearly thrown off the arena, only saving herself at the last moment by grabbing the ledge for dear life, dangling like a rag doll. Maria, however, is lucky enough not to have endured having her ribs broken, her flesh bruised, or her conscience racked with stress and guilt; and she gets back to fight with a resiliance that even impresses Maya.

Maya even comments, “This is probably the longest, most high level, most exciting duel I ever had. I will kill Stella if she doesn’t deliver a duel at least as good as yours.”

“Assuming you win.” Maya says, chastizing Maya for her arrogance.

“Don’t get your hopes up. I claimed a huge field advantage after much struggle. You can drag the duel on until the heat death of the universe, but I will win in the end. Unless you’re Yugi, no amount of ass pulls will save you.”

MARIA’S TURN: “That’s where you’re wrong, Maya. I just drew Dragon’s Mirror, and I play it to banish all three dead Blue-Eyes to Fusion Summon Neo Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon!” Three spirits, dragons of white, merge through a looking glass, and the triple-headed king of dragons manifests from the other side. “Neo Blue-Eyes, attack Armityle!”

Maya, at most expressing mild surprise, defends herself with ease. “I activate Beatrice, to mill another Farfarello, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, and use its effect to banish your dragon this turn.” And Maya’s goblin grabs hold of the dragon, transorting itself and the gigantic beast far away from the battlefield.

Frustrated, Maria moves on to a second plan. “I play Melody of Awakening Dragon. I discard a card and add 2 High Level dragons to my hand. I end my turn.” Maria knows she’s on the ropes. Yes, she has a powerful monster, and more Life, and only needs to hit Maya with one attack to win the duel, but she feels as if she is losing. “Why?” She thinks to herself, but she soon understands. Maya’s Deck is, ironically, more consistent. She knows how to access her entire Deck at a given point. Maria can only make her hand bigger.

Maya, on the other hand, knows it is time to make her true assault, now Maria was vulnerable enough to penetrate. She suspected Maria’s fatal weakness for a long time, but only now, in this duel, could she say for certain. “It makes perfect sense now.” Maya pretends to speak to herself, just loud enough for Maria to hear her.

“What do you mean?” Maria asks.

“At first I thought you used a Blue-Eyes Deck simply because you weren’t creative, but it is obvious that you are creative and intelligent, too much so to practically netdeck Kaiba. I wondered why, and thought of the drunk fun we had together last year, and it dawned on me. You truly love Kaiba and want him to love you in return, but your frustration will last forever. It’s desperate. It’s pathetic. You have ‘Please notice me, sempai!’ writ all over you.”

“Quiet!” Maria shouts more loudly than she ever shouted in her entire life. “Enough of your lies, you fiend! You manipulative, callous, destructive…” Maria summons the most hateful word she can think of. “Jerk!”

“Yes, I’m a cocksure sarcastic b**** who is as funny as Amy Shumer, I know.” Maya assures her. “But I know that pain; I felt it with Yukio.” And she feels it with Sophia, but she doesn’t say it. “All you can do is stand strong on your two feet, and you certainly can, Maria. Kisara is, for all intents and purposeses, Kaiba’s companion cube, but you are not Kisara, and even if by some wierd accident of reincarnation you are, you are far stronger than that. Don’t be the innocent waif possessed by the dragon, be the dragon!”

Maria remains unmoved, at least at the surface. “As if a left-handed compliment isn’t bad enough, you now condescend to me.”

“Hey, it’s your life.” Maya shrugs. “If you want to depend on someone else for your happiness, that’s your problem, but have no illusions. You will be no better than the millions of girlfriends and wives abused every day, and as someone who was abused, I can assure you there is nothing romantic about a moody, jealous boyfriend.”

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 14

Duel 14 – Shatterpoints

Maya’s habits still amaze her at times; for instance how she holds herself back out of fear even when in danger of losing a tournament she cannot afford to lose, and she wonders what Freudian backstory leads to such behavior. Her father can beat her until she bleeds, and has done so more than once. Maria could never touch her.

Or is it Kaiba who is scary? Her father shares Kaiba’s height, his broad shoulders, and ice-cold blue eyes. It doesn’t matter at this point. She’ll hire a shrink after the tournament, when she can use the prize money to actually afford one.

But there is more going on. Maya confirms what she suspected for many years now: Maria wants Kaiba’s love, respect, and approval. But why would she want that? The same reason Maya sought for it in Stella, and failed. Maria will fail too.

Maria: 6500 | Maya: 8000

MAYA’S TURN: “I banish Good & Evil of the Burning Abyss in my Graveyard to discard a Burning Abyss monster to add another one from my Deck to my hand. Next, Libicocco, Malebrancho of the Burning Abyss activates in the Graveyard: I Special Summon Graff from my hand. And I use the effect of Barbariccia, Malebranch of the Burning Abyss to Special Summon itself from my hand.” Her two demons fly out from a volcanic geyser from Hell: a burly bearded monster and a beastly dog.

“I discard Fluffal Bear from my hand to set Toy Vendor from my Deck, and activate it; I discard Fluffal Wings from my hand and draw another card.” It was Carboneddon, a non-Fluffal monster, so Maya had to discard it too. Every other duelist in the arena betrayed a mild look of shock, a look Maya didn’t have the time to notice, so engrossed in fulfilling her complex strategy. “And I banish Fluffal Wings from my Graveyard, plus Fluffal Bear, and destroy Toy Vendor to draw two cards. Toy Vendor activates when destroyed, so I search my Deck for Fluffal Bear.”

One engine done, now another one; together they move the entire machine. “I link up Barbar and Graff to Link Summon Cherubini, Black Angel of the Burning Abyss!” Her monsters align in a fiery grid to be sacrificed, and the black cherub, satisfied with Maya’s tributes, rises from the fires of Hell. “Graff now activates. I Special Summon Draghignazzo, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss.” A black-winged fiend with the scales of a black dragon follows the black cherub into the mortal realm in an iron leash.

“I use Cherub to mill Cir to give its ATK a boost.” But such a meager offensive increase is far from my Maya’s objective. “I use Cir’s effect to Special Summon Scarm from the Graveyard. I overlay Draghig and Scarm to Xyz Summon the second Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss, and use it’s effect to mill three cards. But I’ll take the evolution further; I discard Malacoda to overlay Dante to Xyz Summon Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal!” As the eternal feminine descends from Heaven to absorb Dante into herself, Maya thinks of Sophia, that beautiful soul, and how that beauty brings Sophia down.

“This is it.” Matthew thinks to himself. “It’s the arch stone of her deck.” But the thought triggered his fragile mind, setting him into a rage as soon as he grasps it’s meaning. He screams at Maya, “Don’t tell me you will not use your Golden God Card this duel! You will not insult me by not dueling at your fullest strength!”

“I won’t need to use a god if I don’t have to.” Maya replies to him in a tone as relaxed and cool as if she is drinking Texas moonshine in a rustic bar. “And how would you know, anyway? Did you read the script?”

“I acknowledge you as my one rival, so you must have a god to rival mine! It’s destiny!”

“Or a cliché plot.”

Mathias tries to whisper to Maya as best as he could from a few meters away, if such a thing is even possible. “Top-say reaking-bay the ourth-fay all-way.”

“Speak Normal.” Maya says. “I can’t understand you.”

Mathias repeats himself, “Diruam non murum quartum et re fabricam destruere.

Maya bats his warning aside. “A quis iocus non nocere.”

Maria can only stare at them quizzicly. “I have no idea what kind of Italian they’re using. Do you know, Seto?”

Kaiba shakes his head. Gozaburo Kaiba, is stepfather, never bothered to school him in the humanities, as he thought they had no purpose to running a multibillion dollar company. Matthew, however, who did learn the wisdom of antiquity from his grandfather, replies, “I understand them perfectly. They’re making a dumb joke.”

Pegasus takes his turn to make a coy comment, the first one in this entire duel. “I’m impressed. The American education system hasn’t failed everyone.”

Now Maya starts her third engine. “I Normal Summon for the first time this turn; come out Illusion Brigadier, and use it’s effect to Special Summon two Illusion Tokens and deal you, Maria, 900 damge.” A hunchebacked fiend stooping from carrying two massive turrets appears and copies itself twice, then all three fiends fire six blasters at Maria. (Maria LP 6500 → 5600) “And now I Tribute the three of them to Special Summon Raviel, Lord Phantasms!” The skies blacken to smoke, lightning shakes the entire pyramid they stood on, threatening to split in two, and a giant diety, a king of fiends and shadow magic, is called forth from the netherworld.

Mathias gasps in surprise. “Illa fregit cerebrum meum.” And everyone else shares the same feeling.

Maya is still not done. “I activate the Field Spell Fallen Paradise!” The dueling arena transformed into a desolate valley, a barren whithered tree towering over the entire group on the side, yet still made bright by the early afternoon sun. “And I use it’s effect: since I control a Sacred Beast monster, I draw two cards.” It is time to battle! “Raviel, destroy Maria’s Alternative Dragon.” The lord of phantasms turns all the shadows around it, made so sharp and black by the bright sun, into living beings that together drag Maria’s white dragon to its grave. (Maria LP 5600 → 4600)

“I activate Fluffal Bear, discarding to set Toy Vendor from my Deck. And I Set three cards facdown. I end my turn, making Scarm activate, meaning I search for a Burning Abyss monster.”

Stella, who silently stood in the corner watching the duel so far, begins to leave the arena. She saw Maya’s strategies, everything she needed to know, and will not dignify Maya with her prescence any more.

“Stella, where are you going?” Maya calls out to her with anxiousness.

Stella says nothing, and Maya changes her tone from anxiety to indignation. “Giving me the silent treatment, huh. What are you, in third grade? Grow the f*** up!”

Stella climbs down the stairs of the pyramid, with Maya hollaring at her, “Do what you will, but I guarantee it will be your loss!”

MARIA’S TURN: “Your terrible fiend does not frighten me. Darkness always triumphs over the light! I banish both White Stone of Ancients in my Graveyard to add two Blue-Eyes monsters to my hand. I activate Pot of Avarice to shuffle the five remaining monsters in my Graveyard back in my Deck to draw two cards. “I activate the two Cards of Consonance I just drew, each one makes me discard a low Level Tuner to draw two cards, which then triggers the two White Stone of Legend in my Graveyard; I banish them and add two Blue-Eyes White Dragon from my Deck to my hand.

All Maria’s cards at this point this turn served to replenish her hand, so she may mount a counterattack. “I Normal Summon The Agent of Creation – Venus!” The first offender appears, a placid and delicate goddess. Maria undertakes a difficult sequence of Link Summoning; she uses Venus’ effect to Special Summon many Mystic Shine Ball from her Deck, and uses them to Link Summon Link Spider and Proxy Dragon afterwards, paying 1500 Life Points in the process. (Maria LP 4600 → 3100) “I link up Venus, a Shine Ball, and Proxy Dragon to Link Summon Firewall Dragon!” The three diverse creatures dissapear so the cyberverse dragon could cross to the physical plane.

Since Maria did Normal Summon a monster, Maya Special Summoned a Phantasm Token to her field, a weak dwarf of its sire. Regardless, ss soon as Firewall Dragon appears, Maria uses its effect, “I bounce your Beatrice back to the Extra Deck.”

Such a play shocks Maya, but she reflexively makes her commands, “I activate Beatrice to mill a card.” The eternal feminine vanishes by Maria’s hand, the irony not lost to Maya. “I detatched Draghig to use Beatrice, so I use its effect to put a Burning Abyss monster at the top of my Deck.”

Once Maya got her bearings together after a few seconds, she understood Maria’s tactic. “Firewall Dragon pointed to Raviel with its Link Arrows, letting it bounce Beatrice, and since she would not be destroyed you got around Cherub’s protection. That was really cool. See, you’re more than Kaiba’s trading card.”

“Thanks for the left-handed compliment, I guess. I reveal Blue-Eyes in my hand to Special Summon Dragon Spirit of White and use it’s effect to pop…”

“You guess what?” Maya says. She set three cards facedown and Maria’s new dragon could only banish one. She took great care to hide Toy Vendor among them, shuffling her cards before setting them all facedown at once. Only one of them can protect her from Maria’s onsluaght, so Maya made it hard to find.

Maya finds the scene amusing; kind of like when Yugi would hide his Dark Magician inside magical hats, forcing Kaiba to play a guessing game. Too bad this guess game is nowhere near as awesome.

Maria tries to read Maya’s mind, pointing at one card, then another, trying to detect any sign of nervouseness, then holds her finger over the middle one. Maya keeps her poker face stiff with a smarmy look she knew would annoy Maria oh so much, and oh how well it worked. “I’ll make give you a hint, Maria. The card on my left is Toy Vendor. Perhaps you should choose a different card.”

“Maria Wight, you have ten more seconds to make a move.” Isono the referree warns her. “Failure means discquialification from the finals.”

Pressured into action, Maria declares, “I banish the middle facedown card!”

“JACKPOT – For me that is! Jar of Avarice!” Maya plays her Trap Card right before it gets erased from existence. “I shuffle five cards in my Graveyard back to the Deck and draw one. Better luck next time with the Monty Hall problem.”

Kaiba turns his already scowling face a shade darker with a grimace. “I can’t believe Maya would use such a cheap trick.”

“If meta duelists can use cheap decks, Kaiba boy, Maya is perfectly entitled to use cheap tricks.” Pegasus gives a sly comment. “Reminds me of the good old days, when I used mind games to utterly control my opponents.”

“And a fair bit of cheating, I might add.” Kaiba reminds him.

“It doesn’t matter! Chaos MAX Dragon, destroy the Phantasm Token!” Maria commands, clearly frazzled. “Eat 6000 damage!”

“Never!” Maya refutes her. “I activate Delta Barrier, bringing back two more from my Graveyard to block all damage!” Her weak token remains standing.

“Firewall Dragon, Dragon Spirit of White, and Blue-Eyes White Dragon, destroy Cherub!” The rest of her dragons open fire, eager to send the fiend back to Hell.

“I use Cherub’s effect. I destroy all Delta Barriers, letting Cherub survive battle three times.” The black cherub bears the brunt of all three attacks, deflecting one after another, but at great cost. The dragon’s combined powers hit her hard, almost throwing her out of the arena, the impact of her already broken ribs on the ground sears her with a piercing pain, as if her chest and back are being stabbed by countless knives. (Maya LP 8000 → 1500)

Maya is more than hearty enough to take such a hit, and even when smashed against the ground and in extreme pains, she still sings Maria’s praises for nearly killing her with such mighty attack, though she makes a codetta, “I am never this well-behaved in a duel. I must still feel crushed by my debt to you. How annoying.” But what truly hurts her is not the petty pain in her body but the fact Stella left.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 12

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Choreographing duels is still hard, and I wished I filled in the backstories of my characters more in Season Two, but I did not have that vision yet, so I will do it in future chapters. I find my writing throughout Season One and Season Two to be too stilted, serious, and humorless, which hurts it. I want to balance comedy and tragedy, humor and drama, in the best way I can; in the past I was too serious, now I may be too funny. Yes, I’m a pretentious twat, but I one day wish to write real books, not stupid Yugioh fanfics.

Duel 12 – An Axe to Grind

The duel concluded, Tamas sank to the ground, wailing, “How could I lose to some rogue deck noob!”

“I’m disappointed.” Stella admitted to everyone present, no longer bothering to acknowledge Tamas’ existence. “I wished I faced against someone who could actually duel.”

Maya cut Stella’s complaints short by reminding her, “He did come a hair’s width of killing you. Keep that in mind.”

“Please don’t fuel my humiliation even more than it needs to.” Stella no longer had the strength for a verbal joust with her one time lover.

Pegasus was thoroughly amused by the circus act that performed before him but Kaiba had enough; the CEO of Kaibacorp called his bodyguards to clean up the trash; he was tired of seeing garbage in his tournament. Several burly men in dark green suits, their eyes hidden with sunglasses, appeared as if they were hiding underneath them the entire time, soon they hurled Tamas away. Garbage in. Garbage out.

Only Maya and Maria remained to duel, and both finalists took the stage without delay, but they gave a moment’s pause to study one another as if to remind themselves why they hated each other so and how their duel would shape the future of Yugioh’s history as a game and franchise.

———————————————-

Maya used her newfound powers; she reached for the fourth wall and froze time for a brief moment, speaking to you, “Perhaps you would like to know why we hate each other so since the author did not develop our conflict last season due to poor writing. Then allow me to fill you in, ‘dear’ reader.

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, before George Lucas fucked up his franchise, before the author fucked up this franchise, sometime after Battle City, one class of duelist emerged. As Yugioh became more standardized, a metagame developed, and with it came duelists who ran meta decks. You either ran Chaos Control, Monarchs, or DAD or you lost. Losers never mattered. It is a big country club, and you ain’t in it.

“But – what’s this? – the loser dogs wanted a change. The waiters wondered how they would pay rent. The cooks wished they could feed their kids with better food. The black golf chauffeurs didn’t want so much water drained from their neighborhoods to sprinkle on grass. The Mexican cleaning maids wanted their kids to go to a decent school. And everyone outside the plantation wanted some of that golf course put to good use instead wasting people’s time in a boring game.

“So people used rogue decks, on purpose! Me, JC, Stella and other included. We formed our own little teams, networked with each other on LinkedIn the way Park Slope yuppies do, and viola! We have a new class, a counterculture of rogue duelists, and some of us even got inside the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and sold out. JC, who kept calling me an oreo for having salt and pepper parents, wanted to be David Clarke so bad he tried to crush the loyal, and I put an end to it, then forgave him since his temptation is all too present to we minorities.

“So what does this have to do with Maria Wight, Duchess Whore of Cambridge? In all honestly, she is a good person who cares about those she loves more tenderly than I ever could and has high moral standards on what the world should be like, although our visions are very different; but she is very stuck-up. Kisara was an angel too good for this vulgar world, and so is she. She also reminds me of my nasty 4th grade English teacher: proper, respectable, graceful, dignified, but cold, snobbish, and boring.

“One fine night of wholesome fun; Jolene made amateur porn with Yukio since not even her dad could pay her Sarah Lawrence College tuition, then she got back to me where we ate pot brownies, and we turned on the news to make fun of Katy Perry’s vapid lyrics, Bald Brittany’s mental breakdown, and Justin Timberlake still trying to make sense of him revealing Janet Jackson’s boob at Super Bowl Halftime, where he blinded thousands of innocent children by exposing them to a woman’s nipple.

“Instead, we got this albino bitch talking about Yugioh, and I hoped this would be my day off. – A game is fun when you play it only for fun, not so much when you use it to make a living. – Maria, the albino bitch in question, said, as I recall, the following, with a lofty air of dignity: ‘The Yugioh game is falling far away from it’s old roots. Dueling used to value honor and duelists’ pride as the prime virtues of the age, and the market is moving so fast in printing new cards and banning old ones the game could collapse into ruin.’

“I agreed with her so far, but soon we parted ways in opinion, for I a smelled something rotten at this point, and it wasn’t the stale moldy pizza but Maria’s late 19th century pretenses: ‘Duelists have degenerated from warriors into professionals; the game reduced to celebrity, career, and politics. Any so-called rogue duelist with a functioning brain can wield a legendary monster, no longer the few worthy chosen, as it were, by the primal force of Destiny. I blame the duelists such as Maya Brook and Mathias Blackheart most for this decline, for purposefully assaulting our best and brightest duelists, even crushing their pride and careers in their victories; such was Matthew Carter’s fate under Maya’s combat boot, a fine man who didn’t have to meet his demise in this way.’

“’Some people complain about netdecking and meta decks, how they have no skill and so forth. That is a lie; of course they do. I’m in fact glad we have netdecking because it keeps only the strongest duelists with the strongest decks intact and stops the game from declining any further. Rogue duelists take away real competition from the game and replace it with inferior dueling. They have no right to bash duelists who take the game seriously and thus succeed. If you want to win, duel the right way.’

“I burst into laughter at this point, almost expecting Maria to expound on the Great Man Theory or mention the words ‘democracy’ and ‘Idiocracy’ in the same sentence. The interviewer – who was Maximus by the way – tried to steer the discussion to more nuanced terms, but I my very existence caused Maria’s dignified façade to crack, just a little bit, she fell into condemning me, presuming to know all the secrets of my heart. ’Maya’s behavior is disgusting. That whore sleeps with anyone she wants, incapable of sensitivity, never in her life having a pure deep love affair. She pushes through and manipulates anyone to get what she wants, and to hell with the consequences! While she is good with humor and ridicule, those are talents reflecting a frivolous mind; incompatible with older, more serious souls.’

“OH NO SHE DI’N’T! I nearly choked on my beer out of amusement and I was baked at this point, but I still got mad; this tedious Romantic was mildly annoying, until now when she roused me to fury. She could call me a whore all she wanted as whoring is the oldest and noblest profession in human history, call me a degenerate as I was a libertine who paid no serious mind to such moldy prudish morals, imply I was an alpha bitch as it was a label to be proud of, even treat a children’s card game with deathly seriousness.

“But to attack humor and satire; the lulz itself; to put shame on Thalia, one of the Muses who together redeem human suffering in the endless cold black stormy ocean that is universe? Unforgivable! I resolved that very night to crusade in vengeance against this mortal nemesis of the lulz, to show her how much of a troll I could be, to make her die the most humiliating death!

“Jolene prompted with her gentle arm, advising caution to me, ‘But Maya, vengeance is not the way, as it only hurts yourself. Negative energy clogs your chakras and disrupts your bodily harmonies. Please take blue cooling crystal and breath deep with me. Kumbaya, kumbaya, hare hare Krishna…’ Her new age nonsense only inflamed me more. I pulled the yoga mat from under her, figuratively and literally, and formed a convoluted scheme on the spot that would take months to fulfill so I could have my vengeance and drive home my dissent against Maria for the whole world to see.

“’But isn’t your scheme really petty? And what of your college education, protests, and donation campaigns?’ Jolene reminded me, to which I retorted, ‘We’re famous important people! Petty bullshit is what we do! As for my schedule, I’ll book it!’

“So I carried my pointless scheme to fruition; I created the persona of a brownnosing fan, most fitting as she was brownnosing Kaiba himself, and stroked her ego by telling her lies she wanted to hear while couching her vulgar and ignorant prejudices in the most aristocratic tone of voice. She wanted to know who my persona really was and meet me in person, either because she was suspicious of me or she was a gullible loser with low self-esteem, or the odd fusion of both, and invited me to a party in Kaiba’s mansion on April 1st.

“I knew it would only be a matter of time before she figured out I was tricking her the entire time, but I wanted to cause the whole fiasco to blow up in the way I desired. So how does Spongebob make a fool out of an old fuddy-duddy like Squidward or a belligerent miser like Mr. Krabbs? I needed the help of a Patrick Star, and Jolene willfully played the part; even she had to get in on the action. We dressed up in fancy dresses and masks, passing off as vapid celebrities from Beverly Hills. We also recruited Yukio to play the part of a celebrity reporter, and some random loser named Fujita to hold a camera and broadcast it on a YouTube channel.

“Positions set, battalions ready, fore! We invaded Maria, alone, without her heroic savior to protect her, introducing ourselves as Hollywood Celebrities, and began our friendly chat. The grave damsel had the discretion to be suspicious at first, but I buttered her up the same way I did on social media, and within a short time a few jokes, gossip, and cocktail drinks suckered her in. Jolene broached the topic of Yugioh and rogue duelists – Maria slipped a bit – and I ramped up the debate, attacking Stella, Mathias, and Maya in the third person in ever more vulgar ways. Once Maria became drunk and aroused enough to explode, Yukio turned Fujita’s video recorder towards her to capture the train wreck in all its glory.

“Maria aired all her resentment, like it was dirty laundry, into full view, delivering a monologue Ayn Rand would have enjoyed, ‘Screw political correctness, I gotta’ get this shit out! Rogue duelists are fucking scrubs not good enough to play the game and antimeta duelists are butthurt fags who hate the game and want to destroy it! And you know how those stinkin’ looters act; like fucking martyrs of ‘creativity’! HAH! Like a failed modern artist is ‘creative’! A loser dog is a loser dog no matter what he does, and his dueling proves it! Poor people fucking complain so much about how they can’t compete, they can’t get good enough cards! Well if you fucking degenerates worked hard enough instead of robbing stores, smoking crack, and invading my country to breed white people out of existence you could! The natural laws of competition and economics make it so! Some people are superior to others – what’s wrong in admitting that? – and not everyone will make it no matter how much you dumb down schools and jobs!

“Me and Jolene mockingly wondered if loser dogs begat poverty of if poverty begat loser dogs, and I was tempted to ridicule the drunken Maria further by prompting her to solve her own chicken-or-the-egg riddle, but she pwned herself with fresh material of her own. As usual among drunks, wails followed rages, and Beata Maria was no different. And did she bitterly complain, ‘I just don’t understand Seto sometimes! He claims he loves me like the world but he’s as cold in love as in money! He only told me I was beautiful once, and it was as stilted as an Anakin-Padme dialogue! And he can barely get hard or touch me right or make me feel like a woman, like he only gets hard playing Blue-Eyes White Dragon in Attack Position! Or when making his new gadgets – does he screw a robot waifu or something!’

“Not only did I tear away her lofty veil to reveal her opinions for what they truly were, she sabotaged Kaiba’s image in the most intimate way, thus killing two birds with one stone. But our victory was short-lived. Kaiba, the stern bulldog, rushed to save his damsel; he tore away my mask and Jolene’s. ‘How dare you ridicule me and my fiancé; no one attacks the Kaiba family and gets away with it!’

“’Hold your horses. You didn’t marry her yet.’ I reminded him, enjoying myself as I pushed his berserk button.

“He lost all control, lunging at my face, barking like a military officer, ‘I’ll kill you, worthless scum! You snake – no, worm – on the face of the earth!’ I dodged his punch but Jolene was not so lucky; he bloodied her nose. His strike at Jolene pricked my heart with pain and anger. I started at Kaiba to retaliate but the CEO was a trained master in Krav Maga; he smashed me on a table, splitting the table in two. By this time, real reporters and broadcasting crew arrived, their cameras flashing brilliant white from every anger it burned dark holes in my vision and nearly gave me a seizure.

“I knew exactly what Kaiba would do next. Every grown man settled his disputes by playing a children’s card game, and Kaiba was the white knight defending his lady’s honor. – I confess, I an intense envy burned in my heart at that moment. No one ever loved me as much. – There was no way I could survive a duel against Kaiba at this point nor did I have any score to settle with him; instead I declared, ‘Maria, I challenge you to a duel!’

“Maria answered, ‘Yes! Now!’ Kaiba protested the duel since we were both drunk and furious at each other, but Maria silenced him, calling upon Kaiba’s guards to get her duel disk. I readied my own, for I was prepared with any event that could happen, instant dueling included. We fought each other hard until Maria noticed that I copied her deck, card by card, which did not take very long.

“Maria was furious, ’How dare you netdeck me!’

“’What?’ I replied in sarcasm, ‘I thought netdeckers were good for the game by stopping so-called degenerates like me from ruining it. It can’t be you hate them now I use their tactics against you.’

“Maria burst into sobs, yelling, ‘You’re also a hypocrite, Maya. You like playing the part of the rebel all right with your studied rudeness; you hate the meta and all the dueling world but you need both to stay relevant. Once the meta is gone, once you kick all the traces, you will have no more purpose in life.’ I understood everything she said but accepted it; to think I could accept that biter pill at this moment.

“The poor girl’s body was too innocent of alcohol to process the dose putting her in a delirium. She vomited all over the floor in utter ruin; my victory was glorious. I had revealed Maria’s hypocrisy to the entire world, hammering the final nail in the coffin. Mission accomplished. – At the same time I wondered if this was how Bakura felt carrying out his schemes, searching for the weakest spot to strike the enemy, hammering out every step of the plan to the last detail. I clearly mastered the art by this point but I still sometimes thought, ‘How tedious all this is!’

“Kaiba, who was sober, understood fully what happened. He smashed Fujita’s video recorder on the floor; Fujita ran like a coward and our machine was broken, but the damage was done. He called his personal guards to arrest Jolene, Yukio, and me this instant, something he had full power to do as he practically owned all of Domino City. Running away from Matthew’s goons years ago gave us much experience, so outpacing Kaina’s henchmen was easy. We sped away in our cheap rental car, clumsily singing with the loud rap music, living fast and ready to die young:

Swimmin’ laps around a bottle of Louis the XIII,
Jumping off of a mountain into a sea of Codeine,
I’m at the top of the top but still I climb,
And if I should ever fall the ground will then turn to wine,
Pop-pop, pop-pop, I feel like flying,
Then I feel like frying, then I feel like dying. 

“And we crashed into the busiest intersection of the city. It was truly a shame I didn’t die, because I passed out in jail and the next thing I saw was Stella, who had flown to Japan just to bail me out. She said grimly, ‘You paid for my mother’s cancer treatment. I paid for your bail. We’re even.’

“I tried explaining everything to Stella, my obsession with revenge, my plot, my intensions, but Stella would have none of it, as if I could have justified myself anyway. She shut me down, ‘And what were you exactly trying to prove; that you’re a giant hypocritical idiot too? Our relationship is over Maya. You and the two clowns you call friends are free. Now get out and do a human centipede,’

“Yukio whistled and howled in laughter just at the thought of remembering what had happened last night. ‘Whoa! Man, that was sweeeeeeeeet!’

“Stella had none of it. ‘Seriously, you all, grow the fuck up!’

“And that was how Stella and me parted ways. It wasn’t until I was sober, literally and figuratively, that I understood how cruel and pointless my prank was, feeling bitter remorse, yet I could not let go of my feelings of vindictive satisfaction. Both our reputations we tarred black and it took a full year to wash it all away; Maria accused of racism and I accused of jealous queen bee sabotage. I had even planned to deliver a sob story about how Maria made me feel less of a person and hurt young women everywhere, to ridicule naïve progressives as well as elitist snobs to make the circle complete, and because I felt like it, but there was no point to it.

Kaiba, who like me could not suffer his pride scorned, tried to grind me down with endless lawsuits and have me banned from dueling forever, but Maria must have seen me as a skilled and worthy duelist in spite of everything I did to her because she offered me a plea bargain in a supreme act of forgiveness. I accepted; I was banned from dueling for six months and took down the offensive video from the Internet, and we both gave public apologies. We were civil thereafter; never again did I publicly insult her or scrap at her again as a spotted hyena in return for her kindness, but we carry distain for each other to this day.

“And that, my friend, is how my hatred of Maria started and my relationship ended. Killed two birds with one stone, huh.”

———————————————-

As Maya prepared to duel Maria for the last time, she now understood it was not Maria she truly hated but her father, who embodied Maria’s cold distain.

Maya’s father once told his only child, after he lost his prestigious job of his own fault and mother was dying of lung cancer, both blows forcing the family to live in a Manhattan project building, in a fit after his young daughter who, with a frenzied mind, an aching heart, and with no one to turn to, got into a huge fight with another child at school; he said to her, “You good for nothing brat, you are unworthy even of my punishment.” And when Maya saw her sick and bald mother, weeping over the phone after hearing her family still disowned her for marrying outside the Islamic faith, and came to embrace and comfort her, her mother sighed in sorrow, “You ruined my life.”

There was nothing Maya could have done with her parents but she could put their ghosts to rest, and she would do that by dueling Maria with basic fairness and charity. No matter what Maria did, she would keep composure. This simple approach, not the grandiose silly image of gamers as chivalrous warriors, was what the honor of the duelist truly was, if such a thing even existed.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 11

Duel 11 – Why Netdeckers Should Be Shot

Tamas nearly shits himself seeing such a long-winded turn, and one that achieved so much, nearly breaking his whole deck. It might as well have done so, since Chaofeng, Stella’s ace dragon, negates all his EARTH monsters, meaning all his Zoodiacs are useless, and furthermore, it is shielded by a marathon of prevention Effects inherited from all the lesser Yang Zing dragons that gave their lives to bring their king into being.

Mathias, feeling a little naughty, gives Stella the left-handed comment, “Impressive combo and lock you got there. Maya would be proud.”

And Maya decides to add salt to the wound with, “I hope Chaofeng is not all you got, like when Sophia murdered you back in Egypt; I’d be disappointed otherwise.”

“You’re serious!” Stella is flabbergasted. “Chaofeng is the boss monster of the entire Yang Zing archetype; what more could you possibly want?”

“I want you as the ace, not one stupid monster or stupid archetype, and you know exactly what I’m talking about. You’d better give it to me this duel.”

“I’ll give it to you when we duel, and so much more.”

Now Mathias is confused. “What esoteric gibberish are you two shouting now? Just by your code language I know you two were lovers.”

Maya brings upon herself to explain the details, “Me and Stella used to drink lots of coffee together along with ——– and ——–, and after these sessions we would talk about how to improve this stupid card game, how to take roguedecking, as it were, to the next level. I don’t know about Stella, but regarding me, it is top secret.” She then shouts at her estranged ex-girlfriend, “You better have some antimeta or something interesting or I will climb up there and smack you myself.”

“Burn in Hell.” Stella rebukes her.

“I heard Hell’s pretty lit. You should join me.”

“It’s a pretty big room for you two.” Mathias comments. “You should get it.”

“Can I join in?” Tamas offers.

“NO!”

TAMAS’ TURN: “Aww.” Tamas pretends to groan in self-pity. He draws, which is exactly the right card he needs! “Raigeki!” he shouts as he activates his card, and all of Stella’s monsters die under the stroke of a single thunderbolt.

“COME ON! I WORKED SO HARD FOR THIS FIELD!” Stella shouts in disbelief, her hands on her head.

Even the stoic Kaiba throws shade at such a cheap and easy play, and declares that starting next year he will join the game once more and drag Yugi himself back kicking and screaming if he has too. The metagame as become cancer for much too long, and while he commends Maya and Stella for their efforts at turning Yugioh back into a kind of art, it is too little too late. Next year, he will muck the floor with every netdecker who ever lived!

Though Stella has suffered a heavy blow, she is far from dead, as her cards, even her dead monsters, unleash all of their Effects. Thus Stella declares, one after the next, “Supply Squad, Chaofeng, Li’bao, and my triggered Permanent Trap Yang Zing Creation, all go off, in this order: I draw a card from Supply Squad, add a Wyrm from Deck to hand from Chaofeng, kill your Drident from Li’bao, and Special Summon a Yang Zing monster from my Deck with Yang Zing Creation!”

“Bitch, you’re such a faggot, you know that?” Tamas falls to throwing slurs again. “I play Cosmic Cyclone to banish your Creation!” And so Tamas pays 1000 Life so his space cyclone can disintegrate Stella’s card. But Tamas, much to his chagrin, cannot stop any of Stella’s other cards, not even the targeting effect of her hunter, as using Decode Talker’s effect would lose his Drident anyway; and that is how Li’bao the cheetah hunter pierced the chief Zoodiac’s heart with a burning arrow. Tamas minds little of it, as he can easily replace her.

Stella pounces on her narrow window of chance, “I activate Dimension Barrier, and call Xyz Monsters! No more Zoodiacs this turn.”

“Shrill women like you are cancer. You should go back to blogging at Jezebel from where you came from.” The annoyed Tamas exclaims.

“For once I agree.” Maya enjoins him, just to piss Stella off.

Tamas rejoins the duel. “I Normal Summon Zoodiac Thoroughblade, and use its Effect.” A fiery man-horse wield an exceptionally long and broad sword gallops into the fray, and Tamas discards a Zoodiac card to draw a new card. “Decode Talker, Thoroughblade, hit Stella directly!” The monsters cleave at Stella with their mighty strength, but Stella survives the assault. (Stella LP 4000 à 100)

“Dammit! I almost got you! I set a card facedown and end my turn. It’s not like you can do anything anyway.”

STELLA’S TURN: Stella draws, and remarks, “Maya, you wanted me to use some antimeta. Well, I did, but that won’t kill Tamas. I’ll prove you wrong, as you are with many things, with something more interesting. I Normal Summon Zoodiac Ratpier!” And behold, Stella’s own rat warrior takes her stance.

“Hypocrite, hypocrite, hypocrite! Netdecker, netdecker!” Tamas is so shocked and offended he can only blabber.

“Oh settle down already, you spastic virginal twerp. I use Raptier’s Effect to mill another Ratpier, then overlay her to Xyz Summon Zoodiac Drident, and use her effect to pop your Thoroughblade.” Stella’s one Zoodiac transforms into another one, and this new fighter thrusts her trident to slay Tamas’ monster. “I overlay Drident to Xyz Summon Zoodiac Chakanine, and use her effect to revive the second Ratpier,” The dog fighter replaces the tigress, and through her magical skills resurrects the second Ratpier. “I overlay Chakanine to Xyz Summon Zoodiac Tigermortar and detach the Chakanine Material to attach my dead Ratpier to it, and use its other Effect (given by the Ratpier Material) to Special Summon another Zoodiac Ratpier from my Deck.” And so another rat warrior assumes a ready stance. “Then I overlay Tigermortar to Xyz Summon another Zoodiac Chakanine, and use her effect to revive the last Ratpier.” Another dog warrior appears and the last Ratpier with her.”

“This neat little engine just gave me 4 Materials, so I will use them all to Link Summon Borreload Dragon!” Her Zoodiacs she worked so hard to get into play dissolved into four marker arrows, a gateway forming in their middle, and a fearsome dragon of scarlet and deep blue arrives. “Borreload, attack Decoy Talker.” Her dragon assaults the digital knight, but with a killing breath, but a toxic one, brainwashing it to her side. “Now, both monsters, finish Tamas off!” The knight slices at Tamas’, hitting him hard, but the dragon is not so lucky. (Tamas LP 3000 à 700)

Tamas reveals his Trap, “I activate Xyz Reborn, reviving Drident and attaching the Trap to her as Material, then detach it to kill Borreload.” His dragon lady revives, brandishing her trident, ready for revenge; she lunges at Stella’s dragon.

“I use your Decode Talker’s Effect, sacrificing my Borreload to destroy Drident!” Stella counters, her mighty dragon vanishing, her new monster impaling Tamas’ best Zoodiac, sending the dragon lady to a shallow grave once more. “I set two cards facedown.” Stella ends her turn.

Tamas, shocked at such a timely play, falls to foul shouting and cursing at Stella. Pegasus covers his dainty ears, refusing to hear such fowl language while Kaiba, annoyed, chips in his broadcasters with the microphone in his trenchcoat, ordering them to censor Tamas straightaway.

Mathias nudges Maya gentle on the shoulder, whispering, “That was amazing, wasn’t it?”

Maya shrugs in distain. “Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention. I thought Tamas channeled Bandit Keith from beyond the grave. Maybe he’s a psychic; he should help Jolene with her astrology nonsense.”

“Playing hard to get won’t win Stella back.”

“You assume I care about Stella; I don’t, at all.” Though Maya doesn’t admit it, Stella’s brilliant move does touch her heart with fire, the same fire she felt a few years ago that made her fall in love with Stella to begin with. Stella used Tamas’ own cards, his own hackneyed archetype, for a unique strategy and, to add the icing to the cake, threw them away as the fodder they are to bring out a higher monster. Maya would applaud Stella, but then remembers that she hates her.

TAMAS’ TURN: “I’ve had it with your ‘rogue’ Deck insulting me, bitch faggot noob! I’m going for the ultimate Zoodiac Combo” Tamas’ humility (or lack thereof) is put to its short limit, while Stella perks her ears at “ultimate Zoodiac Combo”, knowing exactly the well-known tactic Tamas would play next.

“I activate Zoodiac Combo in my Graveyard, which I sent there by Thoroughblade’s Effect; I banish it to return all my 5 Zoodiac Xyz Monsters to my Deck and draw a card. Then I Normal Summon Zoodiac Bunnyblast, now overlay her to Xyz Summon Zoodiac Hammerkong, Zoodiac Tigermortar, Zoodiac Broadbull, Zoodiac Chakanine, and Zoodiac Drident. Then I Xyz Summon all their second copies from my Deck, and finally I Xyz Summon Zoodiac Boarbow!” The parade of double Zoodiac animals commences its procession on Tamas’ field, climaxing with the arrival of a boar archer, aiming his arrow at Stella’s heart. Yes, it holds only 500 ATK but that meager strength is enough to take out all of Stella’s Life.

Stella, taut as a wire, springs in a pinch. “I activate Great Horn of Heaven!” The cornucopia horn appears, then blasts Tamas’ best monster with the power of its notes, yet Tamas draws a card from its drawback Effect. Stella lets herself smile for the first time this duel, saying, “You won’t be attacking me directly with Boarbow this turn, let alone even battling since I skipped your Main Phase.”

“Another batman gambit. I’m impressed.” Comments Maya to Mathias.

Tamas grovels, setting two cards facedown, calling his turn over.

STELLA’S TURN: Stella draws, seizing her chance. “I destroy two monsters in my hand to Special Summon Mariamne, the True Dracophoenix!” A lithe and airy dragon of six wings of gauzy feathers makes her graceful landing, and since Stella destroyed Yang Zing monsters, she brings out Suanni, Fire of the Yang Zing and Bi’an, Earth of the Yang Zing (and draws a card from Supply Squad).

“I activate Dimensional Barrier!” Tamas declares. “And I declare…”

“Yes, declare what?” Stella inquires, eager for victory.

Tamas cannot decide what kind of Extra Deck monster to choose, because Stella does not need any Extra Deck monster. And Tamas’ other card? A Solemn Strike he cannot play for he lacks the Life to pay for it.

“That’s what I thought. All monsters, direct attack! End the duel!” Stella’s monsters all blow away their target at once, throwing Tamas off the arena.

Stella concludes the duel, “Easy come, easy go. Good riddance.”

Tamas: 0 | Stella: 700

—————————————————-

Xiaoyi watched every duel so far in her hotel room back in Egypt, guzzling down popcorn and wiping the butter oil on her white dress where her breasts were, without a care in the world. She couldn’t wait to see Maya’s duel coming up next, eagerly wondering what her super secret new strategies were, then pondered with sarcastic thought if she, as a Chinese-American woman, should be offended by all of Stella’s and Tamas’ “cultural appropriation”. She couldn’t care less over something so little, as opposed to all the truly offensive things she did over the last two weeks.

Why, she counted with her fingers, she brainwashed a vulnerable young man, instigated a brutal dictatorship resulting in the deaths of thousands, pulled the strings of a resurgent crime syndicate resulting in more pointless deaths, killed a few Egyptian soldiers, killed Matthew’s girlfriend, tricked her “master” into going along with her scheme while thinking it was his the whole time, then she finally killed him. That made four acts of fraud on one hand and three acts of violence on the other. But wait! She was still committing her final fraud.

At the moment three policemen knocked on the door; investigating the murder of one Gernand de Laclos lead them to this apartment. Xiaoyi took off her only piece of clothing and lewdly kissed the chief officer, bidding him to taste the tight, petite, and sweet woman they could only mail order from Thailand, and only in their pathetic dreams. The cops easily lost to the temptation, all of them falling for her, wherein they re-enacted the groping they had done to a woman a few months ago while pretending to conduct a body search, this time finishing the job they privately longed to do for so long; Xiaoyi herself thoroughly enjoyed their silly fantasy, even discharging before they did. As soon as the men expired, losing all their steam, Xiaoyi instantly slit their thoughts as if they were cattle; now her fantasy was complete.

Xiaoyi sighed in disappointment, watching three pools of blood soak the hotel carpet – make that four acts of violence so far, still an underachiever – Now she had to clean the mess she made and get out of the country before she was arrested, an inconvenience that annoyed her enough to throw a small tantrum. That these stupid cops would pooh-pooh on her watching Maya’s duel live on television!

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 10

Duel 10 – Why No One Likes Meta

The two duelists, Weevil and Mathias, stepped down from the arena, wearied out from their trials, Weevil too tired to feel disappointment, Mathias too exhausted to enjoy his victory. Poor Mathias could not appreciate his conquest anyway; he thought Weevil was so weak just struggling to beat him was a humiliation. It was at that moment when Mathias saw his pride, in a brief flash, the pride of Lucifer, and the red dragon that was his Ka rose again to confront him. Mathias would have felt shame but he was too tired. Weevil fell into Rex arms, Rex hugging and consoling him, but Weevil was happy despite his loss. He knew, at last, he made himself into a strong duelist.

Pegasus reminded the remaining finalists with a feigned kindness to take care of themselves with a short break; Stella and Tamas would fight each other next round. Stella eyed Maya once but said nothing, would not condescend to speak to such a terrible person. Maya got the message but wanted Stella to win, so she would face her in the semifinals – because she still loved her? “Nonsense! I want to grind that woman to the curb so she would never challenge me again!”

Maya told Stella in plain English, “Tamas is what my dad would call a го́пник; his dirty cheap jeans mismatched with a track sweater, and his demeanor of course, will tell you that. So he will duel like one.”

Stella quickly figured out it was Maya’s way of calling Tamas a meta, netdecking sheep, but with some racism and classism thrown in, because Maya simply had to make everyone her enemy or rival in some way while projecting her ingrained inferiority complex on other people, as if putting others down made you stronger.

Stella left Maya behind, putting her amateur psychoanalysis behind her, and it was here that Stella remembered how they met in the first place. Stella recalled the entire history to her heart: “I remember traveling with my teammates to New York for an International Circuit, a massive informal round robin tournament where duelists around the world jousted each other for an entire week. On the third day, I went to a bar in New York’s skyline, and met one teenager named Zusan who dressed up as Princess Peach – it was Halloween night – and this girl was a real King of Games, who played other games so well – unlike Maya, who was only good at Yugioh but couldn’t get herself out of a paper bag in dominoes – oh yes, I watched her fail horribly at the airport.

“Anyway, I remembered Zusan, because earlier in the week I saw her wipe the floor with every chess hustler at Union Square at the same time – blindfolded and tipsy! She was now dead drunk, and she saw he tell a sexist man off, saying, ‘I’m a big girl, I can take care of myself!’ Zusan went up to me and said, ‘I’m a big girl too. Wanna’ make out?’ I shrugged and we did so. – Why not? – Maya, who had been drunk and sex-crazed for boys every night, found us and joined in the melee, suggesting we do a human centipede that night. I won’t remind myself what that kind of threesome that was, but I’m sure the depraved Maya invented it on the spot.

“A year later in Iceland, Maya proposed to go on a date with me, provided she beat me in a duel. The nerve, after embarrassing me like that! She was surely, abrasive, and insolent, but had a roguish charm. And she paid for all my mother’s treatment when she had breast cancer, while she was in a tight spot with money, losing all her money to get back home or even stay in a hotel. So I accepted, and we both dueled with Archfiend decks – for chess, as legend has it, came from a Shadow Game played in India known as the Archfiend’s Duel. Maya recalled the Spanish love poem where Mars challenged Venus to a game for her love, Mercury as the referee, and easily won, as Maya did.

“Maya dropped her libertine ways. No longer did she drink, party, and gamble – I don’t blame her, to suddenly taste wealth and fame after living in the Lower East Side projects! – I was the sole aim of her affections, but then something happened…”

“Stella and Tamas, please enter the arena immediately!” Isono commanded, breaking her train of thought. Did she brood for that long?

The two duelists took their positions, Tamas commenting, “Ready to get cucked, girl?”

“Cucked? What is that supposed to mean?” Stella was a little confused.

“It means to get served, retard.”

“Ugh.” Го́пник indeed.

Mathias mused to himself. “Isn’t that reference several years in the future? It’s like the author is writing in 2017, but the setting is in 2009. Hmm.”

“Duel start!” Isono declared, and the game was off.

Tamas: 8000 | Stella: 8000

TAMAS’ TURN: “Zoodiacs are the best meta deck out there and I’ll show you why rogue decks suck peanut butter coated monkey balls. I Special Summon Blackwing – Gofu the Vague Shadow, and activate it’s Effect to give me two Vague Shadow Tokens.” With his commands a black sparrow swoops in faster than sound, small in size but burning with a huge fiery aura, and with it arrive two smaller sparrows. “Go Link Summoning! I get rid of my two Shadow Tokens to Link Summon Link Spider, then all my monsters to Link Summon Decode Talker!” Soon all birds transform into two cybernetic spiders, then a digital knight in deep blue armor wielding a single-sided blade.

“Next comes the Zoodiac combo! I still didn’t Normal Summon yet, so I Summon Zoodiac Ratpier, and activate her to mill a Zoodiac monster, and overlay her to Xyz Summon Zoodiac Boarbow, then overlay Boarbow to Xyz Summon Zoodiac Broadbull, and detach 2 Materials, one to search for a Zoodiac monster, two to Special Summon another Zoodiac Ratpier from my Deck, then overlay Broadbull to Xyz Summon Zoodiac Chakanine, and detach 1 Material to resurrect the Zoodiac Ramram I milled earlier, then overlay Chakanine to Xyz Summon Zoodiac Tigermortar, and then overlay her to Xyz Summon Zoodiac Drident, and use her Effect to pop Ramram, then activate Ramram to revive a Ratpier from the Graveyard.” An enormous train of warrior-animals quickly arrive and disappear, one at a time: a rat, a boar, a bull, a dog, a ram, a tiger, and a dragon.

“I overlay my two Ratpiers Xyz Summon Daigusto Emeral.” The revived rat and ram warriors make way for a flying one. “I activate its Effect; I detach 1 Material to return 3 monsters from my Graveyard back to my Deck to draw 1.” Tamas pants from reciting such a trying and boring list, his face blue, then sets 2 cards facedown.

 

“Bet that was too hard for you to follow.” He insists.

“I saw everything perfecly.” Stella answered. “You memorized a move set, nothing more. That doesn’t take skill.”

“I’d like to see you beat me, retard, or are on your period with your girlfriend?”

STELLA’S TURN: Stella seriously wonders at this point how such a lowly and stupid cur made it this far in this tournament. Oh, right, he netdecked and abused a broken deck. Tamas would have had no challenge a few years ago but now things are starting to change. She wishes she faced a worthy opponent for a change, like Maria, but she takes comfort from the thought that if she wins she will face Maya next. “I hate you, Maya,” Stella thought. “But I’d rather duel you than anyone else. Wait for me.” But it is Stella who waits, as she struggles to find a way to counter Tamas, not just his Zoodiacs but his two hidden cards; she has to play perfectly.

“Each duelist has a minute to make a move.” Isono reminds her. “You have thirty seconds left.”

Twenty seconds pass.

“Come on, retard, make your move already!” Tamas demands her.

Ten seconds.

“I’m bored, faggot bitch faggot! You got period problems?”

Five seconds.

Four.

Three.

Two.

One.

Zer-

Stella has lost patience with this fool. “I Special Summon Blackwing – Gofu the Vague Shadow, and use his effect to Special Summon 2 Vague Shadow Tokens.” Her own three sparrows make due entrance. “I link up the two Shadow Tokens to Link Summon 2 Link Spiders.” And her digital bugs appear as well.

Tamas points his finger at her in petulant indignation. “Hypocrite, hypocrite, hypocrite! You’re copying me! ARGLEBARGLESKGURKDGJDGHGOSBGHSKGKDGF!”

“Sit down and shut up, manchild! I’m not done yet; I link up all my monsters to Link Summon Yong’an the Brave Purple Dragon!” Three old monsters leave the stage for someone new to enter the spotlight: a small but strong and stout purple dragon with golden horns.

“I activate Drident to pop your gay monster!” Tamas interrupts her play, with his dragon lady thrusting a trident through the purple dragon’s heart. “I put that to a stop. G.G., L.O.L.”

“You didn’t. Spyro – I mean, Yong’an – has a Quick Effect letting me Special Summon Jiaotu, Darkness of the Yang Zing.” Whereby an evil Chinese dragon shrouded in black smoke billows into form. “And since Yong’an died, I’ll return a Wyrm from the Graveyard to my Deck, namely Yong’an itself. I knew you’d be frightened of a monster you never saw before, but there’s much more.

“I activate the Permanent Spell Supply Squad, then use Jiaotu’s Effect.” Stella sends 2 Yang Zing cards from her hand to the Graveyard and, in turn, she brings forth Taotie, Shadow of the Yang Zing and Pulao, Wind of the Yang Zing; thus the elements of shade and wind join her side in dragon form. “And I tune Jiaotu and Taotie to Synchro Summon Yazi, Evil of the Yang Zing, and use its effect to destroy itsenf and your Zoodiac Drident!” Her two evil dragons align, opening the gateway, and a large black dragon flies in from the clouds to smash into Tamas’ field.

But Tamas reacts: “Go, Decode Talker! Tribute Daigusto to protect Drident!” The latter shatters as glass, the pieces absorb into the glowing sword of the former, who throws it straight into the evil dragon’s heart; the beast roars, misses its target, falling off the pyramid towards its death.

Yet this does not deter Stella in the slightest. “Destroying Yazi lets me Special Summon a Wyrm from my Deck. Meet Mare Mare, the parent seahorse! (And I draw 1 card from Supply Squad.)” A huge father seahorse shows up, his womb seeming ready to burst at the seams. “I use its Effect to Special Summon 3 Mini Mare Mare Tokens, then tune one of them with Mare Mare to Synchro Summon Accel Synchron, and use its effect to Mill a Jet Synchron to raise its Level by 1.” The parent seahorse gives birth to three children, but soon merges into one of them to become an android motorcycle, nature becoming machine, its Level raised from 5 to 6. “See my one Yang Zing left? His use is revealed now; I tune Accel Syncro with the remaining Mini Mare Mare Tokens with Pulao to Synchro Summon Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier!” All of Stella’s diverse monsters vanish to allow a great white and blue dragon to travel to the paradise south from its icy home from the north.”

Tamas sees Stella’s intention straightaway, to banish his precious Drident. He springs his Trap, “Solemn Warning!” Tamas pays the steep price of 2000 Life so a Biblical sage and call upon God to smite the icy incarnation of Satan. (Tamas LP 8000 à 6000)

But Stella merely laughs at Tamas’ solemn antic. “Excellent, my batman gambit is complete! I never planned to battle you this turn, but to lock you down. I activate Soul Charge to bring back 4 Yang Zing dragons lost this turn: Chiwen, Taoti, Pulao, Jiaotu; let LIGHT, DARKNESS, and WIND return!” Stella loses a grim 4000 Life; she crumples under the weight of her burden as a fountain of light rays springs from her chest, and the dragons burst forth from the light. (Stella LP 8000 à 4000) Stella, still strained but going in full force, pants, “I link up… Pulao and Jiaotu… to Link Summon Li’bao – Brave Bichromal Hunter. And I tune the remaining… Yang Zings… to Synchro Summon… Chaofeng, Phantom of the Yang Zing.” Her whole army disbands into two camps, going their own ways to become stronger forces. A cheetah sporting a flaming bow and arrow leaps to Stella’s right as slithering serpent with wings arrives from Heaven, its body trailing as long as the Great Wall.

Stella regains her breath from letting her monsters work their magic, and concludes, “I play Pot of Avarice, recycling my Yang Zing monsters back to my Deck to draw 2 cards, and I set 2 cards. My turn is (finally) over.”