AUTHOR’S NOTE: I have many duties to do outside writing, so I must power through the last three odd chapters. Enjoy!
Duel 28 – Spring Showers in December
Maya rose from bed; she got real tired of entering scenes by waking up. It was so lame the author even began a story with her main character waking up from bed. Maya hated being passive like that; that was how Maria should begin a scene. She took her time to explore her room because it was surreal: a hospital room so white it was like a generic afterlife scene in a movie. She noticed an ivee penetrated her arm and punched the port to make sure she was alive. ARGH! She was alive!
Maya wanted nothing more than to leave the hospital right now, but she was still weak, and the doctors would sedate her if she tried a “daring” escape anyway. So she sat down and watched a few channels from the small flat screen TV bolted to the ceiling. “Let’s see what went on in the world while I took a nap.” Maya mumbled to herself, turning on the news.
KAIBACORP AND INDUSTRIAL ILLUSSIONS CONTINUE COURT TRIALS
REPORTER 1: “Good morning New Yorkers! I am Dave and this is Susan. We continue our story where Seto Kaiba and Pegasus Crawford, leaders of the two biggest corporate giants of the gaming world, are continuing to undergo a tidal wave of lawsuits following the 13th Battle City World Championship. Their prosecutors, including Amnesty International, the United Nations, and grieving parents of deceased duelists, are charging them with violations of international law and crimes against humanity. Susan, can you fill us in on the details?”
REPORTER 2: “Certainly. According to Ali Treki, President of the United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Kaiba and Mr. Pegasus purposefully hosted their tournament in war torn Egypt to generate controversy and boost ratings, a trick commonly performed in reality television. There is nothing quite like a gladiator death match, at least that is what Mr. Kaiba and Mr. Pegasus thought. But was all the death and turmoil in Egypt worth it? We now turn to Hernandez de Istulto, expert economist, President of the Cato Institute, and pioneering investor of BitCoin.”
ECONOMIST: “Thank you, Susan. As of now, the exact motives of Mr. Kaiba and Mr. Pegasus are still unknown to us. Their behavior defies any good judgment of rational self-interest. Yes, as you said, they obtained controversy (i.e. attention), boosted ratings, and gained huge widespread appeal from duelists around the world, but at what cost! Surely, such a speculation had too high risk and too little reward.”
REPORTER 2: “Do you think their behavior reflects the huge boom and bust of the 2008 economic crisis? They seemed to have so few restrictions on their power, it’s as if they became deluded and thought themselves free of consequences.”
ECONOMIST: “No, no, no. A benefit to the corporation benefits the economy. It improves the competitive process that improves the individual and is inherent to such a good economy. Mr. Kaiba and Mr. Pegasus are the best businessmen in their field. It is unlikely they would endanger their businesses so recklessly: it defies rationality.”
REPORTER 1: “Thank you for your contribution, de Istulto. Now we turn to Jeremy for an eye-witness account of the trial at hand.”
CORRESPONDANT: “Thanks again, Dave. We see a massive crowd of people surrounding the courthouse at this moment. OOF! OUCH! They’re practically bulldozing past me right now. Hey, you there! What brings you to witness this occasion?”
PROTESTER: “We are protesting KaibaCorp and Industrial Illusions for their corporate greed and crimes against humanity. Did you know that Kaiba uses slave labor in Taiwan to make duel disks?”
CORRESPONDENT: “No, I did not know that. Are any duelists protesting right now?”
PROTESTER: “Well, you should know! I am a duelist. Sadly, there are a small number of duelists – they’re the basement-dwelling type – who defends Kaiba and Pegasus. They claim Political Correctness has gone mad and gamers are facing censorship from journalists.”
CORRESPONDENT: “Who are these people?”
PROTESTER: “As I said, basement-dwellers. That’s why you’ve never heard of them.”
CORRESPONDENT: “So why bother telling me about them?”
PROTESTER: “Maybe too much time on the Internet distorts your sense of reality.”
CORRESPONDENT: “I’ll say!”
REPORTER 1: “There you have it folks, on-the-ground action from Jeremy. He’ll be live in the court house right after this commercial break.”
Maya found herself enraptured in the details of these strange events, when a nurse came to her room, speaking. “Oh, thank goodness you’re awake! I never thought I’d see the day! You have visitors.”
Maya shut the TV off. All her friends quickly arrived. Everyone cried in excitement and hugged each other in a moment of pure joy, one that once in a blue moon. – Even Rex and Weevil came all the way from Japan! And Mathias came to check her out too!
“Thank God you came back!” Mathias exulted in prayer; while Yukio explained to Maya she was in a coma for three months. Maya looked dumb in surprise, and Yukio told her it was indeed true.
Everyone exchanged gifts, and Maya received first edition prints of all the link monsters she used in the tournament; a consolation Pegasus gave to all finalists after the tournament, monster cards printed before their official release. Likewise, Pegasus, being a man of his word, gave Maya a check of 2 million dollars. Maya held her prizes, astonished; she struggled so hard to earn the prize money, and it sat in her hands, all of it.
But Maya felt a deep guilt. She had paid for her prize in blood, not just her blood, but Matthew’s blood, the Ghouls’ blood, the blood of every other duelist who died. Yet she felt a weird kind of excitement knowing she fought such an epic battle and triumphed in the end, almost smelling the blood of her enemies on the cards, arousing her the way a shark becomes when smelling its prey. But the guilt remained.
Maya pushed away her prizes, and she was almost about to destroy them when Mathias stopped her. He spoke very sternly, “I know how you feel but destroy your prizes and everyone would have died in vain. Maximus and me lost our dearest family when we accepted our divine gifts and became Saints. We chose to use our gifts to aid the world. You must do the same.”
Yukio comforted Maya by putting his hand on her shoulder. “Look, if a Catholic is telling you not to feel guilty, maybe you shouldn’t.”
Maya listened to reason, something she didn’t do often. “I hope Stella is fine, back in Iceland with her family and comrades. Maybe I’ll finally see my dad; maybe he’ll be nice since I don’t depend on him anymore. Yes, that would be very nice.”
Everyone became dark and solemn in look, and Maya, looking at them, knew all too well what it meant; she knew happiness never last long, least of all with her. She asked what their saturnine looks meant, and Sophia answered, “Stella and Hannibal became brain dead soon after you won. You’re father died while you were in a coma.”
Maya shivered; the room seemed to become frigid. She really loved Stella, despite everything that happened between them, while she had no idea how to feel about her father. He ruined Maya’s entire childhood and the scars he left behind darkened her character and her life forevermore. He was the source of all the evil in Maya’s life, but that evil was all she had, and now the evil died she might as well fall through the floor. Maya instinctively touched her abdomen, feeling the substantial bump in it. What was this?
“You’re pregnant.” Sophia said joyously as Yukio clasped Maya’s hand, and Maya clasped his. Maya had no idea what to do or even how to feel for the hundredth time this year.
Seto Kaiba and Pegasus Crawford underwent their trail for months on end but a solution was met at last, and the news all too eagerly reported on it.
KAIBACORP AND INDUSTRIAL ILLUSSIONS BAIL OUT
REPORTER 1: “Good morning New Yorkers! I am Dave and this is Susan. Today a major development occurred in the lawsuit against Mr. Seto Kaiba and Mr. Pegasus Crawford. The two CEOs were charged for twenty years prison and their companies charged with 3 billion dollars, but both were recently bailed out. Susan, if you may fill us in on the details.”
SUSAN: “Of course, Dave. The various businesses partners of KaibaCorp and Industrial Illusions; including Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, Google, even NASA, paid the bailouts for Seto Kaiba and Pegasus Crawford. They also saved both companies from bankruptcy, but the heavy cost of the weighty lawsuit was enough to send thousands of employees out of work.
“Yet there could be more to this story. WikiLeaks has just disclosed a document between the American CIA, the Pentagon, Industrial Illusions, and Kaibacorp, which concerns a KaibaCorp blueprint for building a space station linked to the earth by an elevator. Why would Mr. Kaiba, after disbanding his father’s military operations when he inherited the company, want to return to military projects? What is the end of such designs? Could Kaiba have made a deal with the devil? – Hold on, I just received a letter at my desk. What do you mean I’m fired!?”
REPORTER 1: “Oh ho ho! Someone was unprofessional for a moment there! In other news, another sex tape of the Kardassians was released online, where it has been shared all across the Internet. Uh oh! Looks like somebody forgot to make sure what happened in Vegas stayed in Vegas!”
In either case, life rolled on as usual on all corners of the globe. Maya spent the next few months settling her affairs, boring chores leaving scarce time to spend with her friends. Not drinking or smoking pot for nine months due to her pregnancy was the least of her inconveniences. She first paid back all her debts so she would not evicted, but later sold her scant Chicago apartment to buy well-to-do quarters in the upper east side, a place she wanted to live in since forever. Then, she judiciously donated her prize money to charities and research projects she deemed best. – She did not give Amnesty International one damn sent. She canvassed for them before. She knew what those pricks were like.
Maya then moved from matters of the world to address matters of the spirit. She visited Iceland so as to aid Stella’s grieving family pay for the funeral expenses, but the family rejected all her money and spat in her face. Maya accepted their rebuke, and did not punch them in the face as she would otherwise do, as she was dealing with grief herself. She was now an orphan, just like Kaiba. “Eh, at least I wasn’t adopted.” Maya joked to herself while traveling back to New York.
Paying for her father’s funeral was a far easier task. For one, Maya did not have to deal with any family issues. Both her father’s and mother’s parents disowned their offspring when the children married out of wedlock, and Maya was glad of the fact for the first time in her life. Two families made of such bigoted fools did not deserve to attend her father’s funeral.
Maya made it a simple affair, inviting no one but Yukio, JC, and Jolene to the Long Island Cemetery. Mathias had long returned to Ireland; Rex and Weevil to Japan; and Sophia to Pegasus’ home in Las Vegas, only to pack her bags and move out to God knows where. Maya and her friends lowering her father in the grave themselves – Maya insisted on it – There, mother and father would remain together while their child, free from their grasping shadows, would live and die far away, where they could not reach her. Their simple tombstones read thus:
OCT. 17, 1956 – SEPT. 25, 2009
NOV. 19, 1962 – JUN 30, 1997
A grim but interesting fact: Maya buried her father on her twenty-third birthday: Dec. 15, 2009. Maya had been so busy attending to other affairs; she paid the morticians to leave her poor father’s corpse a mummy pumped with formaldehyde and frozen in an ice chamber, in part to exact futile revenge on the man who once was. Her father made her alone from everyone else and forced her to wait for years to undo the damage he did to her, a process Maya would never finish. Thus, Maya made him wait, alone and frozen, before granting him the right to rest with his wife in peace.
JC put flowers on the grave, Jolene put precious drawings she made when a child, Yukio read a poem (or song) he wrote for this moment, and as he recited his work a small shower of rain gently fell on the small party: as if it was spring. Then sun refused to leave as he usually does as the solstice draws near; instead he cast his light on the world with all his might.
Tyrant men flaunt all their great might
Then die, forsaking their rights
To the earth, once in lovely gold,
Entombs them in dark wintry cold.
The sun, ever giving, returns
As meek flowers grow from bones,
As Spring’s gentle rainy showers
Nurtures young, yearning Sunflowers.
The gods have died; not one shall rise
To wipe the tears from my eyes,
But our strong hearts burn and glinter;
We alone bring Spring to Winter.
The gentle rain had washed all the dirt from the two tombstones away. With clean hearts and clear minds, the friends returned to life and celebrated the future with dance and play that day.