Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 9

Duel 9 – Valiant Effort

Mathias: 3400 | Weevil: 6200

WEEVIL’S TURN: “I draw!” Perfect, exactly the card he hoped for to make a perfect victory! “I activate my two Fruitflies to steal Odin and Thor.” Watching his great monsters controlled by someone as weak as Weevil gives Mathias something close to heartbreak, something he had not felt in nearly a century. Even the old masters Pegasus and Kaiba see the move in shock; Pegasus is pleasantly bemused while Kaiba seethes at the blasphemy of Weevil controlling god cards.

“I activate Odin and Thor’s effects to protect them.” Weevil watches his gods bathe the field in their magic with a contentment alien to him for many years. “Naturia Exterio, destroy Mathis’ facedown monster!” The turquoise king of beasts rips apart a tiny rodent hiding underneath the facedown card like a burrow.

“You triggered Super-Nimble Mega Hamster, letting me summon Tanngrisnir of the Nordic Beasts from my Deck.” Mathias explains as he plays another monster facedown. Weevil commands Thor to smash the card with its fist, squashing the poor goat flat, which lets Mathias Summon two Nordic Beast Tokens. Annoyed, Weevil has Odin throw one of the Nordic Beasts out of the arena, and decides to add insult to injury.

“You will never get your Nordic Gods back; I tribute Odin and Thor to Summon Insect Empress!” The giant Nordic Gods dissipate into a winter storm of hail and snow as a queen ant of titanic size takes all the space in Weevil’s field. Weevil adjusts his glasses as he is wont to do whenever he thinks himself to be clever. “See, I was very careful to keep all Insects in my Graveyard, because my Empress gains 200 ATK for each Insect in my field and my Graveyard; thus the Empress claims 3800 ATK to her name.”

MATHIAS’ TURN: Pegasus and Kaiba are in further shock; Pegasus more bemused than ever as if tricked in a silly prank, Kaiba more outraged than ever; to think a cockroach like Weevil could throw away two gods like they were nothing. What was Yugioh coming to!

Mathias declares to his opponent, “I should praise you for taking control of the Nordic Gods but letting go of them was a huge mistake. I activate Monster Reborn to revive Thor!”

“Oh no you don’t; I counter with Exterio to negate it!” Weevil banishes a card in his Graveyard and mills a card for its cost.

“I counter it with Divine Wrath, one of my favorite cards! I discard a card to negate and destroy Exterio!” A single bolt of lightning strikes the mighty beast down, leaving only ashes behind, as if the Nordic Gods themselves punished Weevil. “Thor, arise!” Mathias completes his ritual, and once more the hammer-wielding giant stands tall as Weevil, and Rex, melt into a puddle of tears.

Maya wafts the air to her nose with her hands as if she cooked a master chef’s dish and circles the fingers of her left hand. Classic antimeta in action. She can almost taste poor Bug Boy’s tears. They must be delicious. As for the look on Kaiba’s face; he looks like he took a laxative for once.

Weevil did not give up yet. “I’ll banish your precious Thor with Bottomless Trap Hole!” But he sells himself short as his trap simply vanishes in thin air. When Weevil cannot figure out why, Mathias clues him in, “Your Fruitflies lowered Thor’s ATK so low your trap couldn’t banish him.

“If I may continue, before I was so rudely interrupted.” I Tribute my Nordic Beast Token to Summon Draugalf of the Nordic Alfar from my Graveyard, as I discarded it through Divine Wrath, and use its effect to revive my Tanngrisnir.” A dark, undead elf devours and dissolves the Nordic Beast as it resurrects itself, bringing back a white goat with it. “I activate Phantom Knight Gloves, the first monster you destroyed, banishing it from the Graveyard to mill The Phantom Knight of Ancient Cloak, and then I activate it to banish it to add The Phantom Knight of Silent Boots to my hand, and I Summon it.” A ghostly and silent ninja slips out of the darkness into the light.

“I tune Draugalf, Tanngrisnir, and Silent Boots to Synchro Summon Loki, Lord of the Aesir!” Mathias’ monsters rise to the heavens and the trickster god condescends to grace his field in exchange for the sacrifices. “I activate Thor’s effect!” To which the hammer-wielding god smashes the field, crippling all of Weevil’s insects, allowing the Nordic Gods to regain their full strength. “Thor, destroy the Queen!”

Weevil has one more card up his sleeve. “I play Golemgoroth’s Roar and sacrifice all my Fruitflies!” His empress of Insects ruthlessly, gruesomely devoured her servants to gain unfrequented strength.

“You’re Empress will gain 4500 ATK in the process; so Loki, negate that trap!” The Nordic God zaps her with an aerosol can he conjured from thin air, the empress shriveling away from the poison. “Raid, kills them dead.” Loki seems to have a sense of humor too; he even gestures to Thor, as if letting him finally attack, to which the gruff, no-nonsense Thor gladly did, dramatically using his hammer as a fly swatter to finish the job. (Weevil LP 6200 à 4900) “Loki, strike Weevil directly!”

“OH NOOOO!!!” Weevil raves in complete horror and disbelief, his hands and mouth locked into a pose from The Scream painting, before Loki shocks him into a dizzy mess with a jolt of black magic from its finger, making Weevil twitch as an insect sprayed with a can of Raid. (Weevil LP 4900 à 1500)

WEEVIL’S TURN: But Weevil still persists. “I set a card facedown and end my turn.”

MATHIAS’ TURN: “I activate Thor’s effect, now Thor, attack his facedown!” The burly god eagerly smashed a Naturia Cherry flat, turning it to jam. This let Weevil Summon two more Naturia Cherry facedown, and Mathias forces Loki to make quick work of one of them. “I set a card facedown. Make your last turn count, Bug Boy.”

WEEVIL’S TURN: “I am the strongest, the most resilient creature there is, like the cockroach. I will survive, and no matter what happens I will always come back to annoy you like the pest I am!”

“You got it, Weevil!” Rex jumped and shouted from the sidelines. “Show him whose boss!”

“Um, nobody has compared themselves to a cockroach like it was a good thing, but if it works for you, dude, sure. Whatever.” Mathias must concede this odd self-praise as beyond his understanding.

“I activate Monster Reborn to Summon Naturia Mosquito from my Graveyard!” The typical ankh appears on the field and resurrects a cute mosquito with wide cartoon eyes. Mathias wondered for a second when he last saw the Mosquito but soon realized Weevil milled it when he played Naturia Marron on his very first turn. He concedes to Weevil again; that was pretty clever.

Weevil explains his plan, “Mosquito is weak but any battle damage from a Naturia monster goes back to you, meaning you’ll lose the duel. Naturia Mosquito, attack Thor!” His petty bug rushes over to annoy the stern warrior Nordic God. The audience is truly tense as this is the third time today it seemed like Weevil would actually win. The world truly becomes upside down. Cats chase dogs. Weevil is a champion. Trump isn’t president. Israel and Palestine coexist in peace.

Time to end the party, setting things right; Mathias reveals his trap, “I play Skill Drain; I pay 1000 Life to negate all monster effects.” (Mathias LP 3400 à 2400) Thor swats the mosquito with his hammer in comical fury, putting Weevil’s ambitions to rest. (Weevil LP 1500 à 0)

Mathias: 2400 | Weevil: 0

Isono thrust his hand in the air; the referee announced, “Mathias Blackheart wins the second quarterfinal duel! Duelists, let the sun decide the next two contestants!” The remaining four finalists did as they were told; the sun decreed that Stella Nova duel against Tamas Vargas.

Tamas showed little interest, flicking away dirt from his nails. He seemed to speak more to himself than the outside world. “I’m lucky to face women in my next two duels. Beating them won’t be hard; I’d rather duel a retard like Weevil if I wanted a challenge.”

Yugioh the Dark Side of Dimensions – Duel 7

Duel 7 – Courage from the Cowardly Lion

Mokuba swiftly ordered the best medical team Kaibacorp had to offer to tend to Hannibal’s unmoving body. Mathias truly wished his companion Ivy was here so she could heal the body through her Ka and revive the person within, but, and Mathias hated the idea, Ivy could only work her magic if Hannibal was alive. A dead man was impossible to reach; Mathias knew only One, a perfect being, who brought back the dead. The helpless Mathias took much coaxing from Stella and Mokuba to let go of his friend’s body so the doctors might save him, so he let them with great reluctance carry Hannibal to an emergency room.

Maya watched the procession of doctors, nurses, and body in silence, unmoved, while Matthew gloated at his victory; the vanquishing of his prey with his dark magic gave him an exalted rush he always wanted in his life and strength as his shadow powers grew. Did Yugi face such a runaway train in his Battle City? It was terrifying to watch. Maya always felt a rage inside her, a fire held back like a corked volcano; perhaps Matthew is what she would look like once that volcano destroyed itself in an eruption.

Kaiba barked his orders, “Don’t go anywhere next, shrimps! Raise your Millennium Item cards in the air and let the sun decide the next duelists!”

Mathias could not believe Kaiba’s callousness, for he knew Kaiba to be a cold man but never did he imagine such cruelty. Ready to tear that man apart and his smug foppish friend, he would have jumped but felt the barrel of a gun on his back. “I’m sorry, Mathias.” Isono said, his apology genuine. “But if Kaiba wishes the duels to go on, they will go on.”

The finalists reluctantly put their cards in the air, waiting for the sun to give its verdict. It soon did; gold light from Mathias’ and Weevil’s cards hit the floor. Isono announced, “It is settled! Mathias Blackheart versus Weevil Underwood! The duel will commence within fifteen minutes sharp!” Weevil ran away with Rex in an instant, knowing just how strong Mathias was and how weak they were in comparison, but Mathias did not care. He hurried to the medical room, Stella and Maya trailing behind him.

The doctors had tended to Hannibal’s body as best he could, their leader explaining Hannibal’s state to Mathias. He was not dead but in a coma. Mathias was deeply relieved to hear the news but he knew it meant his friend’s life now completely depended on Matthew’s defeat. If Matthew did not fall his dark spell would not be undone, and Hannibal would never waken. Mathias placed a gentle hand on the body’s brow. “I promise to save you.”

Stella decided to confront Maya at this point. She knew her well enough, or so she thought. “I don’t understand you. Don’t you feel any pain in your heart, any pain at all for Hannibal’s suffering?”

Maya had a hard time telling her, “I don’t, but I don’t know why.”

“Bullshit!” Stella rebuked her. “You hated his philosophy of living in penance, so you thought he was better dead. Why would that matter to you anyway? What did you do, kill someone?”

Maya turned her back to her former lover, pressing her forearm against the wall and her head on it, breathing deeply. She had to accept what she did, and do so by telling the truth. She faced Stella gain, saying. “I will, but take off your pink contacts first.”

Stella did not bother to ask why because she already knew, so she did so, revealing her true eyes; they were as clear and blue as the sky itself. Maya said, every word heavy but somehow managing to speak, “I killed Heishin, the dictator of Egypt, when we sacked Cairo, freeing the nation. He kidnapped me and threw down a dark pit, which I stayed in for three days, believing I would die. – My ribs are still broken. – I hated Heishin, so I killed him. I saw him tell his son he loved him before I sent a bullet in his brain without blinking. You would think the lights in his eyes would vanish as the soul does after death, assuming there is a soul, but his eyes stayed bright with the same emotion they had a moment before. It was terrifying; like he was a zombie.”

Stella stepped a pace backward on hearing such gruesome details. A lesser woman would have demonized Maya as a monster for killing a man but Stella understood the circumstances that pressured Maya to become a killer. She felt relieved, to be honest. “You were more open to me, honest to who you are, now than at any point when we were together. You were always guarded. Even when we had sex, you never connected your heart to mine; you only pleasured my body.”

“I don’t do dating or relationships. I thought I made that clear the moment we met.” Maya explained to her like she was a teenaged girl. “As far as I’m concerned, friendship is one thing while sex is another, and the former does not imply the latter in any way; it does not even imply love. I fucked enough people over the years to put Lizzie Lape to shame, but fucking them did not mean I cared for any of them in any way unless I valued them more deeply, valued them as friends, outside of that.”

“Seeing how you pump and dump every man or woman that arouses you, I am shocked, in retrospect, you managed to be faithful to me for a year. Have you ever loved another person in your life, or at least cared for them beyond their use to you? Or do only feel the low emotions of hatred, pride, lust, jealousy, and excitement? Are you a human being, or only a reptile that can speak?”

Maya lowered her voice into a soft growl. “Nothing is more pitiful than a woman in love, if such a thing exists. The one thing I hate most about my sex is their pathetic romantic fantasies; they choose idiot partners based on it rather than anything remotely involving reason, then wonder why men resent them and women are unhappy.”

Stella was aghast. “Talk about internalized misogyny! But that makes sense. You appear to be a radical progressive, what with being a black Jewish woman who defeated score after score of entitled American white dudes, but act like a female CEO. You’re a Queen Bee, Maya. You hate other women because you see them as a threat to you. I expected Audre Lorde. I got Hillary Clinton.”

Maya thought in a flash that perhaps she should “open her heart” and grab the bitch by the mouth, but she did not. Either way, she lost it. “Take your third wave feminist garbage somewhere else! First, I can’t be Jewish as my mother wasn’t a Jew. Second, if you actually went to your local tournament you would realize how many white kids truly play this came. And third, have you done any real work to help a woman, a Jew, or a black person?

“I have lectured in colleges, debated in meetings, gone to marches, lost three fourths of my livings – my livelihood – in a lawsuit, got punched in the face by a neo-Nazi, punched another neo-Nazi in kind when he tried hit my face and missed, got pepper-sprayed in the eyes and literally dogpiled by cops in armor, had my addresses doxxed by a punk and got swatted in the same week. I did everything in the last four years to change this game, to break the corporate hierarchy so prep school kids like Matthew did not control every piece of the metagame and rule unchallenged. Nothing worked, and do you why? It was because everyone was like you; you complained at Starbucks, you blogged at Jezebel, you whined about the pay gap and women at STEM, and so forth. But did you suffer to make any change happen beyond needing to block someone on Twitter or go to the occasional protest? You did not. Your feminism and professional dueling career are a balancing act of fame, following, and publicity. Mine never was.

“And don’t you dare lecture me on love either. Do you believe the funny little feeling you felt in your little heart and the fantasies you daydreamed about was love? There is no such thing as love in this world and even it did exist no one would be worthy of it, and I am the least worthy person of all. My mother quickly learned the limits of her ‘love’ for me when my father poured boiling water on her hands.”

Mathias shook his head, groaning. “This is like watching Malik and Bakura argue with each other. Get a room, ladies, and critique your feminist praxis somewhere else, not next to a dying man. And Maya, do your self a favor and get help. You even disturb me right now.”

Stella put her pink contacts back on, and looked at Maya’s dark eyes that lit with Hell’s fury. “I am sorry you are such a unhappy and lonely person. You are not an evil person, but you like to pretend you are so you don’t have to change.” Before Stella left, she informed her once lover. “And tell me what doing a balancing act is like. Every single thing you did for the last four years was a calculated political move. Goodbye.”

Mathias placed his hand on Hannibal’s forehead before getting up. “I really need to pee before I find Weevil and make him duel me. I can’t believe I have to babysit that dork. My friend nearly died.”

Maya laughed a bit. “Talk about a mood whiplash. We will abruptly enter a comic relief scene any minute now.”

Mathias was utterly confused. “What?”

“The audience will get confused if I don’t tell them. And don’t forget how the entire gaming world is watching the tournament in earnest despite – no, because – people are dying. The author will have to explain that sooner or later.”

“Who cares what the audience thinks! Just because you can break the fourth wall now doesn’t make you special!”

“Well I guess it makes sense for Yugioh to be a dangerous spectator sport.” Maya thought out loud. “Loan sharks cut a sports gambler’s finger off if he doesn’t pay his debt and athletes get paralyzed trying to become world famous. What makes Yugioh any different?”

“I don’t care about the logic or philosophy here. My friend is almost dead and I have to babysit a millennial.” Mathias ended the conversation. He met Rex Raptor at the bathroom door only to learn Weevil had trapped himself inside rather than face Mathias in a duel. Mathias could not believe this. His friend was in a coma and he would not be Weevil’s self-esteem counselor! He wrapped the bathroom three times with his large fist, nearly breaking it down each time. “Open up, Bug Boy! I gotta’ go!”

“No!” Weevil shouted across the door. “I have a restraining order against you. There’s no way I’m leaving.”

“I’m too cool to get ever get a lawsuit. You can’t avoid dueling me and getting your ass handed to you by my Nordic Gods. It is God’s Will for you to be his butt monkey and there’s nothing you can do about it. Now open up or I swear in the name of Jesus Christ you will get the biggest swirly in your entire life.”

This threat sent Weevil trembling, and Mathias could even see it from over here, and worse, he knew Weevil would wet himself any time now. It was beyond pathetic. Weevil spoke, “I- I’m really scared! Ever since me and Rex lost at Duelist Kingdom we’ve been nothing but picked on and beaten up. We even forget Yugi and Joey landed us in this mess by defeating us; it’s like our mockery is some existential fact of life. I want to fight in the finals, maybe even win. I’m so excited I made it to finals of the World Championship, the first time in my life! But I’m scared I’ll lose horribly and everyone will make fun of me again.”

Rex tried to encourage his friend, “You can win, Weevil! Even if you lose the finals you can still do a really cool duel. People will at least have to respect that.”

Mathias took his turn; he was sure to make it count. “Weevil, I’m not here to be your mommy or your cheerleader or read you The Little Engine That Could, but I am here to tell you this. This is your very first, and may be your very last, time as a finalist. You can face me like a man and try to win fame and respect or you can walk away and never get another chance. This will probably be the best day in your entire life, so you might as well seize it.

A minute passed. Another minute. Another. And another. Weevil opened the bathroom door, standing as tall as he could. “I challenge you to a duel, Mathias.”

“That’s the spirit!”

“But,” Weevil just noticed his pants felt a little wet and cold for his liking. “I had a little accident.”

Mathias slapped his palm on his face and dragged it down so tightly he nearly pulled his face off.

Created Cards (Duels 4-6)

golden_dragon_by_pluto_my_way-d8m7ctw

Matthew’s cards:

Celeste Dragon
LIGHT/Dragon/Level 6/2400 ATK/2200 DEF
1)   If you control no monsters: you can Normal Summon this card without any Tribute.
2)   If this card is destroyed and sent to the Graveyard: you can send 1 Dragon monster from your Deck to the Graveyard. Special Summon this card, but half its original ATK and DEF. If this card would be removed from the field, banish it instead.

Dragonic Desperation
Continuous Trap
1)   Activate when you Special Summon a Dragon from your Graveyard: Special Summon as many monsters as possible with the same name from your hand, Deck, or Graveyard.
2)   If this card is removed from the field: banish all monsters Summoned by this card’s effect. At the end of your opponent’s next turn: send this card to the Graveyard. 

Dragon Mirage
Spell
1)   During your End Phase: Special Summon Dragons from your Deck equal to the number of Dragons you control that were destroyed this turn. They cannot attack, and their ATK and DEF are halved.

Golden God Dragon
LIGHT/Dragon/Fusion-Synchro-Xyz-Pendulum/Level-Rank 10/ATK 4000/DEF 4000/Pendulum Scale 13
4 Dragons
PENDULUM EFFECT:
1)  If your opponent activates a Spell, Trap, or monster effect: you can banish 1 Dragon from your hand, field, or Graveyard to negate and destroy your opponent’s card.

MAIN EFFECTS:
2)   Must first be Special Summoned from your Extra Deck by banishing 4 Dragon monsters you control of different Extra Deck types.
3)   If this card would be targeted or destroyed: you can banish 1 Dragon from your hand, field, or Graveyard, and this card is not destroyed.
4)   If this card is destroyed: you can send this card to a Pendulum Zone instead of the Extra Deck.
5)   If this card is destroyed: you can Special Summon 1 banished Dragon (ignoring all Summoning conditions).
6)   If this card destroys your opponent’s monster by battle: it can attack once more.

Hannibal’s cards:

Artifact Uraniawar
LIGHT/Fairy/Link 3/2800 ATK/Arrows: top, bottom-left, bottom
3 “Artifact” monsters
1)   Once during your turn: you can set 1 “Artifact” monster from your Graveyard facedown in one of your Spell & Trap Zones.
2)   Once during your opponent’s turn: if this card or a card its Link Arrows point to would be destroyed: destroy 1 Spell or Trap you control; this card is not destroyed.

Forbidden Sealing
Trap
1)   Send 1 Normal monster from your hand to the Graveyard. Send up to 2 Normal monsters with the same Type and Attribute from your Deck to the Graveyard

Radio Half Life
Continuous Trap
1)   Once per turn: when one of your monsters battles; banish 1 “Artifact” monster from your Graveyard. Half the ATK of 1 monster on the field.
2)   When this card is destroyed and sent to the Graveyard: you can banish it to Special Summon as many of your banished “Artifact” monsters as possible. Return all monsters you control to your hand at the end of the turn.

Enchanted Exchange
Spell
Activate 1 of these effects:
1)   Send 1 Spellcaster from your Deck to the Graveyard; add 1 Fairy from your Deck to your hand.
2)   Send 1 Fairy from your Deck to the Graveyard; add 1 Spellcaster from your Deck to your hand.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 6

Duel 6 – A New God Awakens

Matthew: 2900 | Hannibal: 900

 Mathias, watching the epic duel from the sidelines, is so shocked and puzzled by Hannibal’s hesitation he clasps his jaw with his hand, glancing around the arena to make sure he is not hallucinating the event, seeing everyone is as shocked as he is. “Why did not Hannibal pummel him! He is one turn away from killing Matthew in his own Shadow Game!” He rages to himself, the voice in his head so loud he believes for a brief moment everyone can hear him. Then he realizes Hannibal is only human and no normal person can easily take a life.

Mathias clasps the Philosopher’s Stone on his chest; a glowing crystal in small gold cage, made from the very leftover gold used to create the Millennium Items. His stone gave him and Maximus a life far longer than human, the Headmaster of their great monastery in Ireland prolonged their lives to prepare all Christendom for the End Times. Mathias chastises himself for his lack of mercy and remorse, and with that he doubts his goodness again. Was he the Red Dragon the Headmaster prophesized?

Hannibal withdraws his fist, refraining from striking Matthew with a crippling blow, and reaches out to him one last time. “Matthew, ask yourself; would your grandfather kill for revenge? He would be so ashamed and sad, to see his great grandson, so intelligent, talented, and tasteful, throw away all his potential. And all your terror and murder for what; to get back at people not worth the trouble for losing a card game? You know you’re better than this.

“I do not speak to you as a teacher but as another flawed man. I remember the day I realized the error of my ways and changed. I was married to Indira, a beautiful noble woman, an Indian princess, no an Indian goddess of all virtues you used to have, but one day One day I failed to worship her, this Eternal Feminine.” Every female finalist groans at the hearing of such praise, but Hannibal fails to hear them. “I met a girl online, more comely than my dear Indira but nowhere near as beautiful or intelligent, but I pursued her, and Indira divorced me when she found out. Ever since then I embraced a different life, a life of stoicism and reflection, but never has a day gone by without me doing good deeds in penance. Matthew, it is never too late to repent and return to a nobleman’s life of virtue.”

“Elitism and classism much.” Stella remarks from the sidelines with a snark.

Maya is about to respond but Kaiba chortles in her place. “He’s a stoic. Of course he acts like Caesar while pretending to be humble, as if anyone cares about the moral drama in his life.” Maya might as well have said it.

Matthew listened to everything his former mentor said – truly he did, he paid attention sincerely – shaking his head and laughing sadly, unable to take anything Hannibal said seriously anymore. He has to tell the truth. “Old man, you never knew my grandfather. He had connections to the Ghouls for over a decade, and he profited from their rackets, not only their usual extortions but also from the antiques black market. He was not a good person. No ‘nobleman’ is. I told you, as an insider, the owners of the world use morals as a one-way street. Sorry.” And he means it.

Hannibal drops the card in his hand, devastated.

“God is a cruel satirist; He truly works in mysterious ways.” Maya comments, noticing Mathias listening to her as if he just realized something. “Listen, Hannibal. Stop pretending to be selfless. Your philosophical garbage is all about you; you’re self-blame and life of penance is the sick pleasure you get from self-pity and your preening self-aggrandizement. You cheated on your wife, big deal. Every other man and woman was once a cuckold, me too.

“If you want Matthew or me for that matter to live in penance and self-denial, you can forget it; an utterly useless and stupid way to live. You won’t revive the dead, nor mend you’re wife’s broken heart, nor stop you from hitting on naïve college girls in the future. Your massive guilt, especially the kind of guilt you have, will just corrode you and bore everyone else. Your God will not tell me how to live my life. I have no sympathy or pity for you. You can lose this Shadow Game and die for all care. I never thought I would cheer for Matthew in my entire life but I do now. I would laugh at this sad joke but it is too pathetic.”

HANNIBAL’S TURN: The old man thrusts his fist at Matthew again. “No! Your grandfather was not an evil man! You will pay for his crimes and yours! Exodia, smash Decode Talker!” The Forbidden One grinds Matthew’s monster with its massive fist. (Matthew LP 2900 à 200) The strike sends shocks into Matthew’s body, nearly making him fall over. “My turn ends, so I return an Exodia piece to my hand.” Hannibal concludes.

“This duel is done.” Kaiba snorts, turning around to leave, his white trench coat billowing behind him as always. Matthew’s Ultimaya Tzolkin tactic was well established long before the finals began, and even that didn’t same him. He added nothing new to the game.

Pegasus playfully wags his finger at his old friend. “You shouldn’t leave the duel until the last card is played, Kaiba-boy. Who knows what may happen next!” His advice received the usual ungrateful barb.

MATTHEW’S TURN: Sometimes a duelist knows when he draws a powerful card, and this is such a moment; Matthew knows he will end the duel in total victory! He just knows! “I draw, and I activate Dragon’s Mirror! I banish 5 Dragons in my Graveyard to Summon Five God Dragon!” A huge mirror appears behind him, and as five ghosts go inside it a dragon of godlike powers; of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Dark, smashes through the other side of the looking glass. “Now, Return From the Different Dimension!” Matthew pays half his Life and every dragon he banished comes back. (Matthew LP 200 à 100)

“Now, old man, you will see God! I banish 4 of my Dragons; Five God Dragon, Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon, Galaxy-Eyes Dark Matter Dragon, Proxy Dragon, to summon from my Extra Deck GOLDEN GOD DRAGON!!!” Matthew’s dragons fly to the heavens, vanishing into the gathering thunderstorm. Lightning strikes the field, the god thunders down from a higher plain to manifest in earth below; a huge dragon of six wings, covered in a near infinite amount of golden scales.

Kaiba turns around in surprise, with everyone else gasping stupidly at the splendorous beast in play. Weevil and Rex huddle together as lambs, trembling in terror. Maya saw something in each of the dragon’s scales and, squinting hard enough, found that each scale was inscribed with three words: Thou shalt not! A godly monster indeed.

Hannibal drops his duel disk on the ground. “Seize you’re win, Matthew. You earned it. I was wrong about your grandfather but I’m not wrong about you. I know that deep down you are a good person.”

Matthew is unmoved. “Golden God Dragon, destroy the old man! Make this duel my game!” His dragon rises a hundreds of meters into the air and crashes down on Hannibal in a vortex of fire. The mighty Exodia resists but is soon consumed by the flames. Hannibal feels nothing but the most terrible pain in his entire life, with every nerve burning as if in Hell, but he makes not one sound. Matthew’s dragon rises to the sky, returning to the higher dimension where it came, and Hannibal, burned and broken, drops.

Matthew: 100 | Hannibal: 0

All the darkness from Matthew’s evil magic floated away, leaving the bright afternoon sun to shine clearly, as if nothing happened.

Mathias, Stella, and Mokuba rushed to help the fallen duelist. Rex and Weevil still tremble in fright. Maya, Maria, and everyone else remained still, as if not knowing what to do. Mathias desperately pleaded to Hannibal to wake up, shook him, slapped him, pushed his chest and breathed into his mouth, but all in vain. Hannibal was gone. Stella hugged Mathias as he wept.

Kaiba left, this time for good, but grumbled, “First we had the Sacred Beasts to match the God Cards, then the Wicked Gods, then the Dragon Gods, then Golden God Dragon.” His one-time God Card, Obelisk the Tormentor, was no longer special. “Come with me, Mokuba.” He ordered, and Mokuba obeyed.

Pegasus shrugged. “An excellent duel, certainly legendary, it satisfies my connoisseur taste, but I must be going, for half an hour at least. Until next time. And Isono,” he addressed Kaiba’s referee. “Remove the corpse.” The finalists were fighting dogs or race horses for all he cared. The plebs weren’t people.

Only Mathias, Stella, and Maya remained; Mathias weeping, Stella consoling him, Maya remaining unmoved, but Stella rebuked her, “Maya, you’re so cruel.”

Maya seemed dazed for she replied as if talking to herself, “Hannibal was right about Matthew. He is a good person deep down but went the wrong way. He seemed so friendly when we just dueled, before I saw he condescended me, but I think I briefly saw the true man, even if just a second. But I’m not a good person. I could have grown up in a whole family, with my mom alive, my dad kind, and our money intact. But no good upbringing will change who I am. The tournament revealed to me my birthright.”

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 5

Duel 5 – The Darkness Returns

Hannibal halts his direct attack, ready to strike the final blow, but cannot bring himself to defeat Matthew even though it is the best thing to do. He drops his fighting arm, pleading to Matthew once more, “Stop your rampage, revenge is never the answer. Remember what your grandfather taught you – what he taught you through me; you cannot truly change this world, maybe some physical things or situations on the surface level but not the natural order guiding the universe. You must become aware of that order and work with it, not just passively react to it. You are consumed by vengeance; your anguish dominates you and you become like a dog in car, going wherever the engine takes you.

“Even rich men, like your grandfather, like you, who have good fortune, health, education, freedom, entertainment, luxuries, know better than to let themselves be torn by their passions and the highs and lows of life. You know it is the poor who are easily led and wasteful, hence their poverty, but even vicious men of wealth and power destroy themselves. Every good man of importance, such as your grandfather, knew to restain his power, to rule ethically; this virtue is how society is run without which is chaos. What kind of man are you who will destroy everything in his path for vengeance?”

Hannibal sternly points at Maya watching the duel from the sidelines. “This woman is not worth your suicide. She is aggressive, selfish, vicious, rapacious, and irresponsible: an insult to her sex. You may not have been aware of her conduct between the four years since she defeated you but I have seen her flaunt every virtue. Do you want to ruin your life over such a woman?”

Maria glares at Maya from far away, so intensely Maya can hear her hissing if she listens hard enough, while Stella asks her, somewhat sternly, if she hid any dark secrets from her.

Maya shrugs the accusers away with exasperation, “I refused to do what my corporate sponsors wanted and made the first move on anyone I wanted to fuck. Apparently that makes me a fallen woman unworthy of being Hannibal’s Stoic muse. I’m glad he never watched me take a shit because if he did he might have called me human, and that’s terrible.”

“See, she is worth it.” Matthew demonstrates to Hannibal. “You don’t get it; she is as pure and honest as a child while you probably lie even to yourself. The ‘natural order’, my teacher, of the world is centered on vice and death. Want to act ‘in accordance with Nature’ as you would put it? Rape, kill, and steal! Every creature does so to life but only humans are dishonest enough to pretend otherwise. This is how ‘men of importance’ have ruled the world and kept society running; by raping, killing, and stealing from everyone else not as lucky.”

Matthew reaches a high point in his despair. “Leave your academic fantasy world, you old fool! Rich people like me have always known in our hearts the secret to living well is by cold, brutal oppression! The virtues we tell society to live by is a cover to trick ever niggardly inferior, everyone who is not one of us, to living in peace under our power! Hypocrisy, not virtue, is the name of the game, you idiot!” And he breaks in manic laughter. “Welcome to this world, this world of death, of destruction, of utter darkness! Ha ha ha ha!”

The cultured, dignified, reserved Matthew had completely broken down, though Maya knows his decline would reach a low point watching it happen before her eyes sends chills down her spine. “Matthew, you’re so edgy right now you’re slitting my wrists for me.” Let her lame jokes hide her fear, which Matthew, nor any opponent, can ever see.

“Oh I will slit your wrists, Maya, until I watch you bleed dry.” Matthew snarls at her.

“That’s it! Channel that pent up Black Sabbath rage! Mommy didn’t give you an X-box for Christmas and you’re pissed! You’re ready to shoot up a school any minute now!”

Mathias, who watched the duel quietly up until this point, runs into Maya, ready to shut her up. “Don’t! Provoke! Him!” He shouts at her, shaking her to her senses.

Matthew: 3400 || Hannibal: 5200

HANNIBAL’S TURN: “Enough of this foolishness! I’ll end this duel right now! Artifact Uraniawar, attack Matthew directly!” His spectral soldier throws its weapon, a deadly radioactive missile, straight at its target.

But Matthew will have none of it. “I activate Scapegoat!” Four tiny, harmless sheep, shield their master from any damage, now only three sheep was one of them was sacrificed to Hannibal’s attack.

“Practice time is over. Old man, look at this!” Matthew tears his shirt open, revealing the ghastly wound on his chest; a blackened mark in the shape of a small hand with a reddened Eye of Horus symbol carved at the center. He raises his fist into the sky, his Eye of Horus burns with bright light, and black smoke and energies shoot from his fist, morphing into the shapes of skulls and horrid beasts before engulfing the whole arena in a deadly fog.

“Let the Shadow Game begin! We manifest our monsters as symbols of our will with our life-force, or in other words we use our Ba to give energy to our Ka, since you are such a history buff. But if you can’t take the heat playing a real duel or lose, you die! Let’s go!”

MATTHEW’S TURN: “I link up one Sheep Token and link up the other two Sheep Tokens to Link Summon Link Spider and Proxy Dragon.” Two grid-like squares manifest in the arena, and the Sheep Tokens dissolve into spirits, flying into and igniting corners of the squares known as Link Arrows. The portals open, letting two advanced robots – at least that is what they look like – emerge. “And I link them up to Link Summon Decode Talker!” And his new monsters die to open the gateway for another monster. Matthew screams, drawing in his life-force to birth a monster, a cyber warrior, in a duel for the first time.

“So this is what a Link Summon is like.” Kaiba comments, frosty as ever. If he is not mistaken, Matthew will then bring out a dragon named Tzolkin, which will let Matthew easily Summon Sycnrho Monsters with powerful locking effects. If so, Matthew’s strategy would be nothing new, as Hieratic players have long perfected this powerful combo, just adapted to a new format.

Matthew explains, “Decode Talker links two Monster Zones with its Link Arrows, letting me Summon monsters from my Extra Deck there, which I will do. I banish Carboneddon from my Graveyard to Summon Hieratic Dragon of Eset from my Deck.” A small silver dragon but with large golden wings appears, but only briefly. “I Tribute it to Summon Hieratic Dragon of Tefnuit, which activates it and lets me Summon Labradorite Dragon from my Deck.” And surely enough one dragon is replaced by two; one light and one dark.

“I tune the two together to Synchro Summon Ultimaya Tzolkin!” The dark dragon turns into green rings, the light dragon into stars, align, flash into light. A larger than life, snakelike dragon made of red flames entwines itself around the whole arena. “I Set a card facedown, activating Tzolkin, letting me Summon an Extra Deck monster: Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon!” The dragon of flames draws a fiery ring with its wing, and Matthew’s next redoubtable dragon, a white and silver beast flies through. “Now, my Synchro Dragon, destroy the old man’s baleful Artifact!”

Matthew’s dragon smashes its target with a hailstorm of crystals, but Hannibal bears it. (Hannibal LP 5200 à 5000) The scholar shouts through the wind and hail, “I’m not dead yet! I use Uraniawar’s effect; I destroy my facedown card to save it!” His facedown Moralltach shatters.

“No luck, old man!” Matthew counters, “I activate Crystal Wing’s effect: negate and destroy your Artifact!” And his dragon rains unto Hannibal’s monster with its breath.

Hannibal, though he faces huge danger, merely smiles and winks. “I discard Ghost Ogre and Snow Rabbit from my hand!” A small, spirit girl flies from Hannibal’s hand, dives inside the dragon, breaking its crystal body into shards from the inside. Yet Matthew’s dragon’s effect persisted beyond its death, and Matthew let Hannibal know it; it smashed Artifact Uraniawar into bits. Hannibal cried out in pain as the pain inflicted on his spirit, embodied in his monster afflicted him, and the tie between his Ba and Ka was cut.

But Hannibal stands strong, a small loss like this cannot bring him down. “I Summon Artifact Moralltach since I destroyed it, which means I destroy your Tzolkin!” The spectral warrior throws its huge sword, brimming with electricity, at the fiery dragon god, cutting into its heart, the dragon dissolving into flames. Matthew snarls at Hannibal for impudence, killing his Tzolkin Combo so easily, but Hannibal waved his finger at his former student, “You always overlooked one important step in your games as well as your studies.”

“Your tricks won’t save you. This is a real battle, not a debate.” Matthew orders Decode Talker to destroy Moralltach, which it does, again severing Hannibal’s connection to his monster and inflicting him with intense pain. (Hannibal LP 5000 à 4800)

HANNIBAL’S TURN: This duel is really taking a toll on poor Hannibal. Now is the time for Plan B. “I set a card facedown and Summon Cardcar D.” A floating wheel-less racecar appears. “And I offer it to draw two.” His car vanishes. “Turn end.”

MATTHEW’S TURN: “My onslaught will continue. I Normal Summon Hieratic Dragon of Gebeb and banish to Special Summon Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon, and use its effect to revive Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon from the Graveyard.” His smaller Hieratic dragon appears, evaporates to another dimension, and before Hannibal knows it he once more stands in the way of two mighty and dangerous dragons, one black and red, the other white and silver.

“Decode Talker gets 1000 ATK from co-linking two monsters. Decode Talker, cut down Shark Fortress!” The blue warrior slices deep into the shark-shaped submarine, leaving an electric blue mark behind it; the fortress blows. (Hannibal LP 4800 à 3900) “Crystal Wing, smack my insolent opponent a good one!”

Hannibal sees the attack, and serves his dish to Matthew. “I activate Obliterate!!! I mill an Exodia piece to bypass your dragon’s effect with a Trap card, and bounce it back to your Extra Deck!” A spectral image of Exodia, the forbidden giant, forms behind its owner, and hits its target with a fireball.

Matthew is not amused. “You targeted my dragon this time, so you will not bypass Decode Talker’s effect; I Tribute Red-Eyes!” His decoder atomizes the red and black dragon, crams it in its blade, jumps in the way of Exodia’s fire, splitting into harmless pieces with his blade. Then it dives for Hannibal’s card, slashing it to ribbons. Hannibal returns his discarded Exodia piece to his hand, since his card was destroyed.

But it doesn’t save him from Matthew, who cries, “Crystal Wing, hit him directly!” The dragon showers Hannibal with the fury of Matthew’s ice and fire, slamming him to the ground. (Hannibal LP 3900 à 900) Mathias watches the onslaught with pain in his heart, for each hit on Hannibal is a hit on him, but he keeps himself detached. Nothing is worse than breaking a duel, let alone a Shadow Game, which brings terrible magic upon any cheaters or cowards.

HANNIBAL’S TURN: Hannibal rises to his feet quickly, his spirit unbroken. He still has Plan B. “I Summon Exodia the Forbidden One, equip it with Wonder Wand, then use its effect to Tribute it and draw 2.” Exodia, only a harmless head, appears, only vanish from the spell of a wand. “I play Monster Reborn to revive Exodia’s head and Tribute it to Summon The Legendary Exodia Incarnate!” The head revives and dies once more, an offering to a god, which finds the sacrifice to its liking. A raging fire erupts from the darkness, circling the field, a golden giant forms from the amber flames, primed for battle. Yet Hannibal holds off his attack. “I set two cards facedown end my turn, which means Exodia Incarnate lets me get back an Exodia piece.”

MATTHEW’S TURN: “How you manage to keep Artifacts and Exodia consistent in your Deck is a mystery to me. No matter, Exodia Incarnate is weak, with only 1000 ATK. You’ll need more Exodia pieces in your Graveyard to fight me.”

“We’ll see.” Hannibal said with confidence. “Don’t overlook a factor this time.”

“I don’t plan to. Crystal Wing, destroy Exodia!” This time the dragon absorbs Exodia’s power with its wings with its effect, adding its ATK to its own, then rains a hailstorm of crystals on a new target.

“I activate my Traps, Forbidden Sealing and Radio Half Life! I discard my Exodia piece to mill two more from my Deck and I banish Artifact Moralltach from my Graveyard! Trap combo, go!” Matthew watches in horror as Exodia’s power rises to 4000 ATK while his Crystal Wing dragon’s ATK drops to 3500. The Egyptian giant sends Matthew’s dragon flying to its death with one punch. (Matthew’s LP 3400 à 2900)

Matthew examines his field with dismay. His Decode Talker, being a Link Monster, cannot change into Defense Position. “I end my turn.”

HANNIBAL’S TURN: “Good! I activate Enchanted Exchange; I mill a Spellcaster and add a Fairy from my Deck to my hand, and I set a card facedown.” Exodia grows in strength to 5000 ATK. “Exodia, obliterate Decode Talker!” The giant burns Matthew’s only monster to ash. (Matthew LP 2900 à 200) Matthew howls in torment as the flames scorching his monster scorch him as well, the bond between him and his will manifest violently severed. Hannibal ends his turn, retrieving an Exodia piece to his hand.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 4

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I really like the creative games in Yugioh YouTube channels like TheRarely’s and the strong games in Yugioh: Dark Side of Dimensions. I intend to make my games somewhere in between where characters use creative decks not limited to one archetype or combo but play efficient moves to not make the duels too tedious. A player should interact more with their opponents when they play. Way too many games you see players making a giant setup to make an OTK. That’s boring and I don’t want that in my duels unless in the middle or endgame.

Duel 4 – Ignition!!!

Mathias could not sleep this morning, his mind under the hardest pressure, the need to stop the Headmaster’s doomsday prophecy from coming true was first in his mind. Matthew was the Satanic Red Dragon, he knew it – or did he? – if he lost to Matthew the world would be doomed but if he defeated the young man… would that make him the true Red Dragon? His powerful Ka, Horus the Black Flame Dragon, did not help matters. He was not under this much pressure in his entire immortal life since World War II.

So Mathias decided to play a little game to calm his mind, and so he peeked into every lodging to see exactly what everyone else was up to: Maximus, Maria, Stella, Tamas, Rex, and Weevil were fast asleep in their bed, Maya and Matthew were missing. And he found Hannibal in the dining room. Mathias said hello to his comrade and Hannibal returned the gesture, then asked what was bothering him.

Mathias told him everything about the Headmaster’s prophecy, slightly relieved to talk to someone, and then let Hannibal speak out of courtesy. Hannibal told him the awful truths burdening him, speaking, “I know all about the prophecy; Maximus told me long ago, but my concern is more personal. I knew Matthew’s grandfather very well; he was a kind, wise, profound man, and I even privately taught Matthew about everything; archaeology, anthropology, history, art, culture, and so forth. Now that I see his moral decline, his dark powers, the threat he poses to everyone, I may need to kill him. No, I must kill him! It is my moral duty to prevent suffering in this world! But, what if it’s wrong? What if I overstepped into excess; from courage into rashness, from justice to dogma?”

“Whether the prophecy is true or not Matthew used dark magic for malice and he must be dealt with in a shadow game.” Mathias assured his friend. “I also worry about his rival.” And when Hannibal asked why, Mathias answered, “She too has a powerful and dangerous dragon Ka, she utterly defeated Matthew a long time ago, and in doing so caused his mental collapse and moral decline. She is the source of his rage and his ambition, which is how he grew into such a powerful thread as a duelist and a wielder of shadow magic.”

Hannibal prayed, “May God help us find the right path in the middle of the thorny woods.”

Meanwhile Maya enjoyed the breezy midnight beach outside, listening to the soothing waves, moving towards and away, towards and away… every star was in view on this remote island, opening the full cosmos to her. She climbed up the steep pyramid, keeping the Book of Isis in a bag close by her to keep it safe, and found Matthew on top of the pyramid. Her arrival prompted him to gaze away from the waves below and stars above, staring at her coldly, hate in his eyes; her blood froze.

He said, “What are you doing here? Wait until we duel, then tell me you’re sorry and beg for mercy.”

Maya retorted instantly, “I will never say sorry or beg you for mercy. I will fight you to the death, show you as much mercy as you showed to other people, but I do sometimes wonder if our fates could have been different. You and I had many chances to choose a different path; when I lost to you in the academy tryouts, when JC betrayed our team for prophet, even when we dueled again, but we persisted, not knowing what we were doing. And here we are, ready to kill each other. This is how our rivalry will end; we decided so.”

Matthew: “You don’t believe in Fate do you or other such magical nonsense women love?”

And Maya: “No, but I believe in the power we have in our choices in life, and how we must always be strong and accept the consequences. I didn’t care when I was teenager, I just wanted to shake things up and piss people like you off, but now I understand better. Killing Heishin taught me that. I am prepared to kill you as well and accept the results.”

And Matthew: “Oh, how responsible. Our little afro punk grew up to be a serious thinker. Congratulations.”

And Maya: “I can’t say the same about you. You just want to kill me no matter what. Tell me, what future do you have even if you defeat me?”

“None of that matters. You will one day realize that too.” Matthew said with finality.

Hours passed in silence, day broke, Kaiba and Pegasus made their way up the pyramid to its top, followed by every other finalist. Pegasus notice his two remaining finalists, “What, no breakfast? One shouldn’t duel on an empty stomach! If I may do the honors.” He handed each finalist one Millennium Item Card, just like the ones they had been collecting for the entire tournament; Mathias got the Millennium Puzzle, Tamas got the Millennium Eye, Stella got the Millennium Rod, Maria got the Millennium Scales, Hannibal got the Millennium Scales, Weevil got the Millennium Key, Hannibal got the Millennium Necklace, Matthew got the Millennium Cube, a secret eight Item, and Maya got the Millennium Ring.

“Now hold your cards to the sun!” Kaiba barked at them. “Each card casts a golden shadow only during a certain time of day; this is how we determine who duels!” The finalists did as they were told, the sun revealed who was to duel; Matthew’s and Hannibal’s cards cast golden shadows. Suddenly a golden platform rose beneath them, the capstone of the pyramid where the finalists would duel, and four cameras rose from the sides of the pyramid’s top to record each duel in 3D. “Now take your positions!” Kaiba ordered.

Hannibal confronted his former student, “Matthew, I beg you, please cease your revenge, it only causes destruction and misery. Think of your honor, of your grandfather; what would he say to you if he knew of all you had done?”

Matthew growled, “Shut up you naïve fool. You know nothing of my grandfather.” He sprung his new duel disk to life; lighting blue from his wrist to his shoulder, a device on his head began reading his brainwaves. A holographic deck appeared in his duel disk, Matthew drawing five cards. Hannibal did the same.

Matthew: 8000 || Hannibal: 8000

MATTHEW’S TURN: “I Summon Celeste Dragon!” Matthew’s holographic card vanishes, reforms on the field in a larger form, and vanishes again but in light as a transparent dragon made of tiny stars emerges from it. “I set 3 cards facedown. This will do.

HANNIBAL’S TURN: “Perhaps I should knock some sense into you. I Summon Traptrix Mymeleo!” Hannibal’s card vanishes and a young female magician and her pet plant take to the field together. He sets 4 cards facedown, ending his turn. “Every duelist who attacks me makes a fatal mistake. I have the high ground. Turn end.”

MATTHEW’S TURN: “Too bad this isn’t Star Wars, you punk, only coward play Traptrix. Celeste Dragon, tear apart his annoying little girl!” And his dragon breathes forth a supernova blast.

Hannibal sees everything coming at him. “I play Artifact Sanctum, summoning Artifact Beagalltach from my Deck, then using his power to destroy two of my facedown cards.” A huge broadsword appears, then manifests a spirit of itself so it can be used, to slice apart Hannibal’s cards. “I activate Artifact Moralltach and Artifact Scythe; I Summon them and use their other effects. A large sword and scythe rise from the Graveyard. “Moralltach, destroy Matthew’s Dragon an Scythe, paralyze his Extra Deck!” Moralltach decimates Celeste Dragon into stardust while Scythe binds its target with a dark spell.

 

Matthew is not amused, “Cute, but I mill Carboneddon to revive Celeste Dragon.” His creature reforms but with its battling power halved. “And I play my Trap; Dragonic Desperation!” Letting two more Celeste Dragons to appear.

Hannibal is once more prepared, “That is none of your business for now, but my Trap is: Bottomless Trap Hole!” And all of Matthew’s monsters vanish into a void.

Cringing in disappointment, Matthew plays a new card, “Dragon’s Mirage. I end my turn.” As he does so, he Summons 4 Dragons from his Deck, powerful new Hieratic Dragons, equal to the number of his old Dragons were destroyed; Hieratic Seal, Dragon Core Hexer, Hiertic Dragon of Su, but their ATK and DEF are halved.

HANNIBAL’S TURN: He is none too happy, for Matthew already swarmed the field! “I switch all my monsters to Defense Position and set 2 facedown cards.” His turn over, his opponent’s Continuous Trap, Dragonic Desperation, fades away per its effect.

Matthew snorts at this move, “You are a coward, Hannibal, you could have killed my weak Dragons. Are you scared of my Trap? Now I realize the morals you taught me are as useless and cowardly as you are.”

Matthew snorts at this move, “You are a coward, Hannibal, you could have killed my weak Dragons. Are you scared of my Trap? Now I realize the morals you taught me are as useless and cowardly as you are.”

MATTHEW’S TURN: “Let’s get this Duel really started, shall we?”

“I agree.” Hannibal shoots back, “Dimension Barrier, and I call Link monsters! There will be no Ultimaya Tzolkin combo on my watch.”

“Then I will rely on something else. I tribute Hieratic Dragon of Su to Summon Tongue Twister and use Su’s effect to destroy your facedown.” His blue dragon shattered, reforming into a giant ugly red-shape field, then Hannibal’s card is destroyed. However, Hannibal does benefit as he Summons Artifact Caduceus, an enchanted staff, to his field.

Matthew says, “You better watch this, Maya; see your own tactics used, as they should be, to truly destroy another human being! I overlay Hieratic Seal and Dragon Core Hexer to Xyz Summon Galaxy-Eyes Prime Photon Dragon, then continue my overlay with Galaxy-Eyes Full Armor Photon Dragon, then Galaxy-Eyes Dark Matter Dragon!” His dragons fell into the overlay network wormhole, giving rise to a mighty interstellar dragon only for it to give rise to a new one, and then another new one. “I activate two of its effects. I mill 3 Dragons to my Graveyard, you banish 3 monsters, and I detach 1 Material to let it attack twice!”

Maya reflects on Matthew’s strategy from the sidelines. If Matthew uses her own ruthless moves, then she will face a mirror of herself in battle. If that is so, then it is another reason for her to grow beyond her past, beyond her limits.

Hannibal reminds Matthew he made a mistake; he did not activate Galaxy-Eyes Full Armor’s effect to pop an Artifact, to which Matthew response, “Of course not you idiot! As long as you have a full field you will struggle to kick your combos off, and I want to trample you down before you do that. I activate Dragon’s Rage so I can do piercing damage! Now, Dark Matter Dragon, destroy Artifact Caduceus and Traptrix Mymeleo!” The huge black dragon beats its wings, two black gales cut through Hannibal’s cards as knives, and push Hannibal staggering back. (Hannibal LP 8000 à 5200)

“Clever,” The old man admits. “But not enough to beat me. I Summon Artifact Vajra from my hand and with his appearance my entire back row is destroyed.” A magical vaijra manifests a blue spirit to wield it and shatters Hannibal’s cards with lightning bolts, which only brings out more Artifacts. “I activate Artifact Sanctum and my second Artifact Moralltach in my Graveyard; you’re attackers are destroyed!” A new Artifact emerges from the dusty Graveyard, and Matthew’s aggressing fiend and dragon burst into flames.

“I’m not done yet, old man.” Matthew insults his opponent. “I banish Tongue Twister to draw 2 cards and set 1 facedown.”

HANNIBAL’S TURN: “Brace yourself Matthew! I will put an end to your ways! I link 2 Moralltach and 1 Scythe to Link Summon Artifact Uraniawar, then overlay Vaijra and Beagalltach to Xyz Summon Shark Fortress!” Three of Hannibal’s Artifacts fall into three arrows on the edges of a square portal, lighting them, allowing a new Artifact a be Summoned; a rocket-like missile manifesting a black spirit to carry it. The two remaining Artifact’s fall into an overlay network, letting shark-shaped submarine to cross to the other side.

Stella grabs Maya, points at Hannibal’s new Artifact, “Is that nuke?”

Maya answers, “Yes. Uranium is the antique weapon of our times.”

“Wow, that is… profound. Who knew Pegasus cared so much about the future of the human race.”

“He is the sensitive artist type, after all.”

Banter aside, Hannibal announced, “Preparations are complete, Matthew. The rash man only blunders. Now I am ready to attack!”

“You only attack when you’re certain you won’t be challenged. Are you moderate, or mediocre?”

“I detach 1 Material from Shark Fortress, now attack Matthew directly twice!” His submarine strikes Matthew with two torpedoes, blasting his opponent’s Life away. (Matthew LP 8000 à 3400) Hannibal is just about to cripple Matthew for good but he pauses midway in declaring his attack.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 3

Duel 3 – Emergence

People expect sudden breakthroughs, revolutions, and emergences of consciousness to be loud, violent, and obvious to see, but in truth they are born so quietly into this world at moments so mundane you would miss it if you blinked. The violence, fanfare, and flame are merely echoes after the fact the way your thoughts are born of your passions but only dimply echo them. Xiaoyi pondered these thoughts, amusing herself with philosophy, in the bathtub where Gernand her master would soon join her. While the old man readied himself to pluck his favorite peony flower, to crush his favorite butterfly, she turned her thoughts to many years ago when master and student met.

Xiaoyi was twelve and a half years old when she ran away from home, stranding herself on the great mid-West American desert, the highway her lifeline, sometimes hitching a ride on people ready to lend a helping hand to an urchin. Her pale skin was burned red into a blush as it was in Egypt, she remembered. And there she saw Gernand for the first time, in action; the large fat man dragged two boys with his monstrous strength from an old car out into the highway, gripping their heads with large vices for hands. The young men pleaded for their lives, tried appealing to the man’s heart as if he once loved them, but Gernand was cold as ever. They outlived their usefulness in pleasuring him or being worthy students to his cause, so he crushed their skulls as the giant he was. Xiaoyi saw Gernand kill with his monstrous strength, screamed, ran as far away as she could.

She met that fearsome man again on the highway again later that same early June day, during sunset. The girl froze in terror but did not run away this time as he stood in front of her path, sitting still as a little bird in front of a cobra, hoping he would leave her be. He never did; instead he went out to talk to her, and the whole dialogue went as such:

GERNAND: “I know you saw me dispatch my last two students for they were too weak to fulfill the tasks I require them. I am as a farmer and I prefer large, strong trees with deep roots that yield the sweetest fruit, but enough of my obscure metaphors. I, like you, am a drifter of sorts, searching for something but a little lost. I have traveled the world for centuries, believe it or not, going on many libertine adventures to expand my tastes and learn all about mankind and the world. Yet I need a companion, someone to transmit by knowledge to so it may remain immortal should I perish, yet no apprentice is strong enough to keep faithful to my evil principles, and they waver. I tire of them anyway and dispatch them as I see fit.”

XIAOYI: “…”

GERNAND: “I must have frightened you, no doubt; a pity. I see from your shirt you come from Los Angeles, yet why would you leave? It is a fine city with warm sunny days, Hollywood nearby, easy drugs and porn as they are the true trades of the land, anything a spoiled child could want. You want to run away as fast as you can, which I easily understand, but mark my words only I have a gaze penetrating enough to know what you truly want and how you may get it. You want freedom, hence you ran away, but I wonder how that desire pressed itself upon your heart, my little creature.”

XIAOYI: “M-Mama was not well in the head. Shortly after she became pregnant with me she had vivid dreams of a great black demon, the Devil she thought. S-She kept having them after I was born, thought the Devil sired me, not dad, tried to drown me when I was a baby, so dad locked her up. Mama just died in hospital and dad killed himself.”

GERNAND: “I am very sorry to hear that.”

XIAOYI: “Please, Sir, let me go. I am frightened and I don’t understand your riddles. I will never tell anyone what I saw you do to your… b-back there.”

GERNAND: “That concerns me not in the slightest. You want freedom after such a woeful childhood, do you, but do you know what freedom is?”

XIAOYI: “I never want to be in such a bad home anymore, full of pain. I learned from school it means having your rights protected and doing what you want as long as you don’t infringe on their rights and –“

GERNAND: “Wrong! Fools and dupes everywhere prattle freedom but have no idea what it really means, what sacrifices you must make to be a free man! Look around, desert wildflower; you see this wide dessert and setting sun, home to lizards, snakes, and scorpions with no pity for you. Nature is the cruel mistress who rules over all, She alone grinds the cosmic mill, the creatures crushed underneath it doomed to live an endless cycle of raping and killing, these being the true and only principles of living beings.”

XIAOYI: “But what about God?”

GERNAND: “Don’t be an idiot. I know you are too smart to be believe in fairy tales, let alone big for your age, so let me outline the grade school truths for you. God, like all orthodox religions, is a lie created by earthly powers as propaganda to control the minds and hearts of its people, working in tandem with the State to do so. Excuses in believing in gods or afterlives beyond this world are specious at best; you have no way of perceiving either except through mental illness and they are redundant to Nature in the end, who is the only God there is. Of all gods, you can only touch this cruel mistress and thus only Her Divine Laws exist; Power and Pleasure at all costs!”

XIAOYI: “But what of other people and the animals? I wish I stayed home, maybe to become a vet one day to take care of animals?”

GERNAND: “It is only natural that one who loses God flees to his vestiges, humaneness. – How interesting out little chat is! We have moved past two and half centuries of thought already! – We are born in this world utterly alone and in misery; our flesh separates our minds so far apart true understanding of what it is like to be another person cannot be done, and your very life proves that evil rules the world. Every moral in this world, I repeat, every moral is a human invention, created by a ruling class to dominate their subjects, bolstered by their deluded pride, and upheld by centuries of convention, and every moral is man is a dupe taken by one of the three. Quickly looking at cultures around the world you will see that not one virtue or vice exists in the entire globe that is upheld by all peoples. It is natural for living creatures to will for power, to take what they can, to pursue what pleases them. Only then can they have a few trifling pleasures before Nature grinds them to dust under Her millstone.”

XIAOYI: “So freedom to you is only license. Sir, please let me leave. Your speeches are so tedious.”

GERNAND: “Girl, you know nothing of freedom.”

XIAOYI: “I don’t know how to feel. I want to leave you this instant but listening to you somehow makes me feel strong.”

GERNAND: “You want to become powerful, to compensate for a life of powerlessness and frustration, oh yes! I foresee your natural talents emerging already; you will have power greater than the earth’s, a cunning surpassing the worst tyrants, and an evil so great you will ruin man and his children, forever will you be known as his greatest Enemy. I will help you gain this power; become uncivilized, let no restriction bind you, answer to no man but me and you will be the cruel embodiment of Nature herself.”

XIAOYI: “What inspired your prophecy?”

GERNAND: “The Supreme Being that is Nature. I am no prophet but merely a philosopher able to predict the far future by observing natural laws. You may say the two are similar in essence. I say no, and here’s why!”

And Gernand expounded on his philosophy for another hour. Xiaoyi knew a classmate back in Los Angeles who just discovered Atlas Shrugged, and he would read the book aloud whenever not in glass. It’s author was the dullest, most conceited human to have ever lived, hence her prose, and Gernand was almost as bad as she was. Yet despite the decrepit man’s failings the young Xiaoyi was strangely compelled by his doctrines, drawn toward their owner in fascination and revulsion at the same time. She knew there were indeed a few kernels of truth in his creed, however dimply she could perceive them, and she resolved she would learn everything she could, and then, when the time was right, break away and find her freedom.
“I will show you everything.” Gernand beckoned her. “You will learn all the secrets of Nature.”

And that was how Xiaoyi submitted herself to the cruel Gernand, going down and under to find her knowledge, who in turn wasted no time giving his eager pupil her first lesson. He forcefully tore the sunflower from its roots, ripping it apart, and Xiaoyi knew someone by the flesh for the first time.

——————————————————

Maya pulled an all-nighter rebuilding her deck from the ground up. She completely discarded her old deck, the one that swarmed the field with low ATK high Level Dinosaurs to Xyz Summon all sorts of powerful monsters. It was great, but not enough for the finals, especially not now, and she even suspected that Pegasus created Link Monsters just to make her deck useless. She wondered if every other finalist had the same suspicions.

She built a new deck but it too was a failure. She threw her cards at the wall of her lodging. It was frustrating! She knew what she saw, what she wanted, and was so close to grasping it yet unable to! Her thoughts turned to Sophia; she lusted after every other person, treating love with ridicule as she was too disgusting and evil a person to deserve it, but with Sophia things were different. She felt she could trust her heart for once, the only time in her life, she listened to it. What did she feel to that sweet sunflower? It must be infatuation; she never knew what love was like before and she wasn’t ready to make any wild guesses in that area.

Sometime when her team was in Luxor, Sophia mentioned being in love with a boy, to which Maya scoffed off at first. But Yukio coaxed Sophia on to get to understand her feelings, something Maya would never let him to do her, and Sophia did answer what she thought love was like. She had said, “Love is not a feeling but life itself. It is a doing, not a being. Only it lights the stars.” Maya pretended not to listen to her younger and better peer, but she did.

Maya could indeed relate that description of love; it was passion, specifically the desire to give, to give the creative life force, and being enlarged as that life force erupts out in the greatest show of power and strength. Maya loved when she wrote or played music, she loved when she worked on a story or some other writing while Jolene drew, she loved when she created anything for Sophia. It was limitless, a power that could break past every cruelty and limit of the earth, every weakness of being human, and reach even beyond the stars, greater than the universe itself. She picked up one card, Beatrice Lady of the Eternal, the card where she always thought of Sophia. Now she got ideas! And she started working. This new deck would have deeper strategies, every facet of the deck linking together into a far greater whole, a deck that could touch almost anything. A Beatrice Almighty deck.

Maya looked at you, the audience, directly. “Let this new way of dueling work. Let me evolve Yugioh and go to a higher game.”

——————————————————

Gernand slid himself into the bathtub with great effort, his total mass nearly crushed Xiaoyi inside it, his body riddled by so many folds his shriveled small penis could never be seen. But there was no want of trying, the old man fancied himself a young and vigorous Don Juan and took his time toiling with Xiaoyi. The old man bit and carved into Xiaoyi’s flesh until blood came out, taking special delight in biting her tits and ass until blood came out, which caused him to eject a few drops of sperm with Xiaoyi’s assistance, then collected the blood into a basin. He darkly muttered an Egyptian chant from millennia ago, causing the blood to whirl upward on its own, assuming a snake-like shape then slithering into Gernand’s mouth. The effects came right after; his pure white hair revived some blond in it, his small watery blue eyes lost some cataract, and his flesh sagged slightly less.

Gernand told Xiaoyi a long time ago that his ritual prolonged his life for a while, provided he cruelly withdrew and drank the blood of one he lusted after while in the whitest heat. The spell itself. Gernand told her, came from the Book Isis, the only spell known after the one that used ninety-nine sacrifices to create the Millennium Items. Gernand, now done with his chores, could relax in his bath with his slave.

Now was the time. Xiaoyi quietly excused herself so Gernand would not notice, returned with a meteorite blade, and drove it straight through Gernand’s chest, bowls, and groin thirteen times each. The old dog woke in a fright, startled but not dead, his fat saved him. He was many times Xiaoyi’s size, able to crush her bones with no effort, but he fled in terror. He tripped out of the bathtub, over the wet floor, out of their private room deep in the Luxor country, his jowls, stomach, and ass cheeks desperately flabbing after him. Xiaoyi calmy walked after him, sure to take her time in witnessing the coward bleed to death with fleeing for his life.

The student soon cornered the master in a deserted alleyway with little effort. The frightened Gernand called forth his Ka to defend himself in a last resort for his safety, an ancient and great but flightless eagle, only for Xiaoyi to smash to bits with her dragon Ka, the damage rupturing Gernand’s internal organs. He lay dying, he glanced up at his student one last time, now towering over him, and cackled while chocking in his own blood. He created the person to embody Nature in all Her caprice, viciousness, and destructive power, but he did not have time to say his thoughts or even appreciate him.

Xiaoyi drove the dagger into him in a white hot fury hundreds of times, her face pale with rage, her lips peeled so far back every ferocious tooth in her wide mouth could be seen, shredding Gernand’s body so much she skinned him and bathed herself wet in his blood.

It was over as quickly as it began, an event surreal even to a seasoned killer as Xiaoyi. She dropped the meteorite dagger in fatigue, not caring about it anymore. She went back to the hotel room, slinking in the bathtub alone, the water inside mixed with her and her former master’s blood. Gernand was dead and she needed to make excuses for his superiors. But now was not the time.

Well, Xiaoyi thought, this is a pretty nice blood bath. Get it? She helped herself with some red wine and turned on the bathroom television to the Yugioh channel. It was time to see which basement-dwelling loser played a children’s card game better than anyone else. She crossed her fingers, hoping Maya would win, as she was the key to all her planning up to this point. Maya had retrieved the Book of Isis. That was certain. Now she needed to keep winning, keep that book in store until the right moment came. Xiaoyi had no idea gambling could be so fun – no wonder it was so addicting! – and though Maya was the dark horse at the races she hoped the dark horse would win for a change.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 2

Duel 2 – Infinite Mirrors

Each finalist saw a white jet with blue stripes cut across to clear blue sky, seemingly coming out of the sun, as if from Heaven itself, and gracefully land on the runway. The jet was so pale and gleaned so brightly under the sun that no finalist could look at it directly before adjusting their eyes. Only one man stepped out of that bird of paradise, Isono; a tall severe man with short, neatly trimmed graying hair and whiskers who somehow managed to wear a suit under such blazing heat, everyone knew him to be Kaiba’s right-hand man. Things were getting serious.

Isono seemed to have access to the airports controls for the finalists heard his grave voice, “Attention please. The Battle City Tournament No. 13 finals have begun. Gate K-13 will currently be boarding with the finalists each team selected. Mathias Blackheart, finalist No. 1, begin boarding! Maximus Clay, finals tournament commentator, also begin boarding!”

Mathias and his comrades grimly heard those words, knowing that the test of the Headmaster’s weighty prophecy was soon to be tested, but nonetheless Mathias stood as tall as he could, as if he wanted his shadow to obscure Maximus and Ivy with his towering shadow, ready to face the challenges ahead. However, Maximus and Ivy rose from their seats to face Mathias from the front, Maximus offered his hand to his brother in arms, “Godspeed. May our choice be wisely made and you be up to the momentous task.” To which Mathias hugged his friends, hiding his umbrage towards his brother, and the two men walked out into the concrete plane beyond leaving Ivy behind.

“Hannibal Davidson, finalist No. 2, begin boarding!”

The famous archeologist and bearer of bad news accepted his destiny with courage, duty-bound to the Stoic tradition he willingly embraced many years ago. He gave his wife, Indira, the Minerva and Venus of his life, a final call on his phone, telling her loved her, worshipped her, bidding her farewell as a Spartan off to war. This grim and self-important man left the common world to the fight ahead, determined to stop the rogue Matthew and Maya, whoever be the Red Dragon, at all costs.

“Svanhildur ‘Stella Nova’ Minvervadottir, finalist No. 3, begin boarding!”

Stella embraced her friends, took a last selfie with them all, and left for the finals, a little nervous but happy to duel such challenging foes, and the fame and outreach! If every girl in the world saw her become world champion, the bright light of inspiration she would infuse in their souls would make the world a better place.

“Maria Wight, finalist No. 4, begin boarding!”

Maria, who carefully eyed each finalist with scrutiny, cast her sharp scrutiny at the dismal and gross fiend Maya for a second, which Maya returned with her own piercing tigerish glance, before heading on out. She wished Kaiba to see her ascend to becoming champion every step of the way, so she may prove to be worthy of him and win his love.

“Marina ‘Maya Brook’ Bozuslowsky, finalist No. 5, begin boarding!”

Maya only felt her broken ribs at that point, each breath she took splintered her chest, but she would never tell Yukio and Sophia that because they should surely never let her go off to fight in that condition. Believe it or not, Maya always felt like this since childhood, a constant dull pain or weight on her shoulders but one inside the mind, but whenever saddled too much she would stoke the flame inside her extra bright to burn it away for a while.

Now was such a moment, with no room for fear of failure or death but only glory for the spirit, and she would shine bright and strong. She gave Yukio and Sophia every card she owned except for a black binder of the most essential ones she would need. Before Yukio could object, saying he would never take such a gift, Maya shut him up by grabbing him and kissing him ardently, lewdly, then gently hugged Sophia with a sweetness and candor mirroring the girl’s heart. She bid them farewell and stepped into the concrete plain full of glaring sunlight beyond.

She say Mathias and Maximus standing close together, their shoulders turned away, Hannibal trying to marvel what little nature was around him, Stella waving at her, Maria gazing at her with contempt. She joined with Stella to discuss the finals, wondering where Kaiba and Pegasus would take them; if Egypt was not exotic and epic enough than what was? Something from the future, beyond the dusky history of Egypt perhaps?

“Tamas Vargas, finalist No. 6, begin boarding!”

They saw a man with a crew cut on top of a head with a nondescript face, wearing a black leather jacket despite the head and worn out jeans, his eyes shielded by sunglasses, and couldn’t help poking fun at him. He looked like every other local tournament jerk out there, the kind of guy who would beat eleven-year-old kids with the current meta deck then strut around like he was the toughest shit since Kaiba came out of his ludicrous Blue-Eyes White Dragon Jet with a jetpack. But this Mr. Vargas did make it to the finals, somehow, but the two women could not overcome their prejudice and kept taking potshots at him.

“Weevil Underwood, finalist No. 7, begin boarding!”

No one could suppress their laughter; even the stiff Isono twitched his manicured thin mustache and smirked a little, but arrive Weevil did, short, squat, and bug-eyed, barking up at everyone like a small dog, demanding respect. Stella, noticing something strange with her sharp eyes, gave Maya notice of it; as the workers crammed a few bags in the jet, did one seem to move like someone was inside it?

“Matthew Carter, finalist No. 8, begin boarding!”

Silence. Maya felt very cold, waiting to see the man who wanted her dead was far worse than being with him in person. Everyone else waited as if frozen. Isono checked his watch after fifteen minutes. He repeated, “Matthew Carter, finalist No. 8, begin boarding!” Nothing. He decided it was time. “We shall all board.” In everyone went. Maya was last.

She was just about to get in when she saw HIM stalk towards her, Matthew himself, a short but sturdy light brown-skinned man, his brown eyes piercing, smoldering with volcanic hate underneath the earthen surface. Maya and the man she destroyed looked at each other for a brief moment, not saying a word, matching his steel resolve for her own. She didn’t care how he felt, he nearly killed her, Sophia, Yukio, and actually killed many others. Maya began to wonder, once again, how a tournament where so many people died and a government shattered in could high rating and scores of cheering fans, but she dropped it. It was all too late.

All the finalists huddled inside the jet, all seats facing each other, making any privacy impossible and forcing all duelists to face each other for hours on end. Isono retreated behind the crew as a flight attendant of sorts and the jet took off. Maya knew the jet was flying west of Egypt into the Atlantic with Earth’s orbit as the noon sun stayed behind them rather than setting in the evening.

Regardless, Matthew stared at her throughout the entire journey with a fixed intense gaze Maya did not believe was possible. To say she felt deeply uncomfortable was an understatement, but she could not reveal any weakness to such a dangerous man, a monster she created by daring to fight for her right to live and duel the way she wanted all those years ago. The other finalists were nearly as daunting a challenge; there was no weak link among them, even Weevil could defeat her if she was not careful. Mathias kept his eyes closed the entire time as if meditating. Hannibal kept his head down to read a book. Stella studied her rivals closely with a caution that mirrored Maya’s. Maria stared at a small picture of Kaiba she kept with her with a restless look on her face. Tamas slept the whole time with his leg awkwardly stuck on Maya’s lap. Weevil fidgeted the entire time, sometimes happy, sometimes anxious. Thus did six numbingly intense hours pass in this way until they landed on the unknown island.

Isono opened the door, the first to leave, directing the finalists to their final destination. The island was as Shangri-La except it did not float; most of the ground was fine white sand or short grass and trees, heated bright by the sun but cut by start black shadows, the weather warm and mild but with a sometimes chilly wind, nothing but the wide blue ocean and the wide blue sky surrounded it for miles around. The finalists walked to the mainland, and gasped at the sight of the massive pyramid at the center, almost as large as Khufu’s at Giza, with two other giants, Seto Kaiba and Pegasus Crawford, waiting for them at the pyramid’s base.

The austere yet august Kaiba greeted them in his frosty manner, “Congratulations at making it to the finals. As host of this tournament I applaud your achievement but as you are all too aware the real struggle has just begun. Every duel you fought through before is nothing but child’s play compared to what you will face tomorrow. At eight o’clock sharp everyone will arrive to the base of the pyramid and climb to the top where every duel will be held. Each duel will last for exactly twenty minutes at most, with each duelist given thirty seconds at most to make any move, and if the duel doesn’t end on time the duelist with more Life Points will be declared the winner.”

“Hey! Wait up, guys! Aah!” Everyone turned to see Rex gasp for air as he ran after them. Weevil was as shocked as everyone else to see his friend, asking how he god here, with Rex explaining, “I snuck in the luggage, you know, like we did in the Doma Arc, the one nobody liked.” The two bros laughed together at their silly adventure thirteen yeats ago, with Kaiba seething in annoyance and everyone else rolling their eyes.

Pegasus, smarmy as ever, gestured to the finalists, “This way to your lodgings, fellow duelists. Even the greatest men need to sleep.” He said, twirling his cane around in a gentlemanly way as he guided them to what looked like a large building. He showed them inside, directing them to the dining hall n the center surrounded by mirrors and the surrounding rooms, each designed to match the character of each finalist, then notified them of dinner being served within a few hours, so it is good to be prepared.

Everyone did so. Maya crashed unto the bed of Room V, nearly shouting in pain from her broken ribs, clutching her chest and writhing in bed. She could never relax, could she? Joking aside, she unpacked her bags, hiding all her cards in her binder and the Book of Isis, stashing both away in a trap door underneath a drawer – almost as if Pegasus knew she would hide the Book the first thing she did – The room itself was simple with great color contrasts, a sun of deep red, bronze, and burning gold painted above where the ceiling light hung at the room’s corner and dark greens, blues, and blacks below on the floor level. A wide desk was placed below the ceiling light and golden sun so she could work on any dramatic art form she wanted while right next to a single large window to the sea and sky outside. Truly, it was an inner sanctum; Pegasus only needed his mortal eye to see into her heart and she fully understood that Pegasus was a profound man beneath his foppish demeanor. How did Pegasus design everyone else’s room?

Maya took a long warm shower, shaved her body hair, tamed her mane of black hair with conditioner, afterwards donning black sneakers, black jeans, and a black sleeveless shirt. Everyone sad down to eat a simple yet filling dinner of soup and meets, each finalist had many chances to look into all the mirrors surrounding them, to see themselves infinitely reflected and refracted among the reflections of the other finalists. It was all too surreal, easily dislodging any comfortable sense of self. Maya knew Pegasus was an artist as she was, though a painter to her the musician, and she pondered exactly what message did Pegasus want to tell them or the world for that matter.

After dinner, the host Pegasus appeared before his guests, with the press of a button he caused a small hologram projector to appear at the center of the table, the lights dimming. He threw his finalists the final curve ball the tournament had to offer, “Ladies and gentlemen, you have all evolved prodigiously as duelists in my marvelous tournament, now you must evolve further, for in the finals I will have you premier a new game mechanic into Yugioh, none other than Link Summoning!”

“What?”

The projector revealed all with Pegasus making the right comments to their questions. A duelist could no longer Summon monsters from the Extra Deck: Fusion, Synchro, Xyz, or Pendulum for that matter, with impunity like they did throughout the entire tournament. They could only Summon one monster from the Extra Deck in a new Monster Card Zone for each player made for that purpose. But they could Summon more monsters by using Link Monsters, new Extra Deck monsters, that each had one to eight Link Markers on the card pointing to another Monster Card Zone based on the card’s Link Number, which now became “Linked Zones”, allowing the player to summon more Extra Deck Monsters. Imagine the Extra Deck Zone as one electric socket; most an Extra Deck monster was one plug but Link Monsters were plugs with extension sockets, allowing you more plugs.

But how did a duelist Summon Link Monsters? A Link Monster needed the number of monsters equal to its Link Number, thankfully no Level requirements needed. Examples: Decoe Talker; a Link 3 Monster needing “2+ Effect monsters”, needed 3 monsters to be sent to the Graveyard, at least 2 of them would have to be Effect monsters. Encode Talker; a Link 3 Monster needing “2+ Cyberse monsters” needed 3 monsters to be sent to the Graveyard, at least 2 of them would have to be Cyberse monsters. Link Monsters could be used as Material for the Summoning of other Link Monsters, but only as 1 Material or the number of Materials equaling it’s Link Number. Example: Firewall Dragon, a Link 4 monster needing “2+ monsters”, could be made using Decode Talker (3 Materials) and 1 other monster (1 Material) but not by using Decode Talker and 2 other monsters. Also: Link Monsters had no DEF, so cards like Book of Moon, Burden of the Mighty, and Return to the Frontline had no effect on them since they could never go into Defense Position.

All the finalists were dumbfounded at first but soon reacted violently to this astonishing twist in different ways. Tamas, a typical reactionary gamer, stormed out the dining room, shouting how Yugioh was dead and the game was broken now and he would never play Yugioh again. Maria held a frozen look of mild distaste but sighed and resolved to learn the new rules before retiring to her room. Mathias shrugged, then proclaimed to Pegasus, “You got yourself a game, old man.” Pegasus was pleasantly surprised, it was the reaction he liked but was too smart to expect it from anyone.

Maya cocked her head and laughed out loud, rueful and glad at the same time. “So Konami, I mean Pegasus, finally figured out Dracoslayer Pendulums were cancer killing the game. You have no idea how many Ghouls used that against us! But I must ask: how long will it take for these novel Link Monsters to become old and replaced by something even more outlandish? Three years? Two this time?” She didn’t even mention how Pegasus thought Internet references were still novel: Decode Talker, Firewall Dragon? What was this, the late nineties? Did Pegasus still use AOL dial up or something? Did Space Jam just come out?

Maya could see Pegasus deflate a little and it was a good sign, for it was always important to curb the pride of nobles: aristocrat, bourgeois, or otherwise. This got Pegasus to hand over binders to the remaining finalists, holding none other than a set of staple Link Monsters of all kinds for all different archetypes, yet to be released to the public and slowly over many years. “And I still have yet to tell you about the New Duel Disks you will use for the finals.” Pegasus cheerfully chipped in.

The finalists groaned, which Pegasus swatted aside, “Oh hush, you babies.” Before he called the hologram projector back into the table and opened a large silver briefcase, revealing what looked like a novel, high-tech gadget but had no board to place any cards and only one slot for the Main Deck. “My dear friend Kaiba-boy wanted to show you his new toys tomorrow but I couldn’t help it but show this wonder of technology to you, I hope you keep it our little secret. From now on, even the cards you will play with will be holographic but that won’t mean you can use any card you want. You have to scan your cards in the Main Deck to build a card database, then use it to build your Deck. I’ll leave it up to you bright souls to figure out how to do all of that.” Pegasus finally bit his guests farewell and bed time, it was long in the night, so the finalists made their way to their rooms.

Except Maya. Pegasus abruptly grabbed her shoulder, and Maya, on edge this whole time for so many different reasons, nearly attacked the man out of shock but stopped herself at the last moment. Pegasus said to her, deathly serious, “Thank you for looking after and protecting Sophia, my adopted daughter and prodigy, your responsibility was not at all expected but you fulfilled it. Please protect her life and ensure her well-being in the future.”

Maya replied simply, “You have my word.”

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Prologue

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Welcome to Season 3 of my series (Season 8 of Yugioh), where I will write things differently than before and in a better style. A typical chapter from now on will be five pages at most to have more content in each chapter and spent less time writing, since I dislike the style authors use to write most novels and I simply don’t have the free time now as I did before. I like how less verbal artforms like film, paintings, and games work since they use symbols and actions to give you substance rather than telling everything up front or through tedious dialogue between characters. I hope to translate my ideas in a similar war albeit through writing. I’m trying to explore different ways of writing and conveying more serious ideas so forgive me for being pretentious.

Prologue

She woke in a sudden moment, in her sleeping bag on the airport floor, not from any nightmare that frightened her out of her sleep but from something she did not understand yet. Her sleep, deep and dreamless, was the coma of a person who, after a day of immense suffering and fatigue, falls into for what seems like countless hours, as the infinite sleep a person falls into as she dies or the infinite sleep before birth. A second ago she was not and now at this moment she was. She sat up, hot and sweating from the heat of the sleeping bag and in constant pain from her bruises, burns, and broken ribs; she forgot at all who she was or what happened, and looked around the airport for answers, to piece her shattered self back together, as Atem the lost pharaoh did when recovering his long buried memories.

Nature gave her body of strong build of average height, her powerful hands wide, her fingers long, her nails large. Her face reflected the person behind it: a broad forehead, full cheeks and lips, dark brown eyes as vessels for a burning, fiery light, her skin brown and red, and her hair a lion’s mane of black curly hair. She was Marina Bozuslowsky, daughter of Aleksandar Bozuslowsky and Arifa Masri, but she long shortened her name to Maya Brook. She started dueling as a professional at the age of seventeen, joined her friends JC, Yukio, and Jolene to become national champions and defeat the snobbish rich demagogue Matthew, remained a pro for four more years, entered this world championship tournament to somehow stop the now late Egyptian dictator Heishin and claim the forbidden ancient Book of Isis, and now waited for the tournament finals having succeeded doing both. And she liked playing the piano, writing satires, communism, alternative subcultures, and black cats. “I think I got it about right.” She said to her heart.

Maya hobbled her way to a large pane of class, her breathing aggravated by the broken ribs, to see the outside world. Never before had she seen a sunnier, prettier June morning, nor did she feel a sun comfort her through her black sleeveless shirt and jeans quite like this either. But she did feel a deepening darkness despite it all, a gathering pressure, an electric static before the storm. Too many people died in this tournament from the resurging Ghouls, too many secrets revealed from Mathias and his warrior Saints, and she underwent too much struggle and loss already.

Yet all this struggle, sacrifice, revelation, was merely the tip of the iceberg, the darkness that was to come. Ra-Amun, the sun, shattered the world through his divine powers into stark bright lights and black shadows, a contrast where all stood revealed. It would be high noon; each finalist would smash against the other with everything they had, everything they were in these last duels, and only one person would stand on top. Maya’s whole life was at stake for if she won she would pay off her many dueling and college debts but if she lost she would be in ruin. More importantly, she knew her innovative dueling would not keep her ahead of her competition forever, and she needed to push herself further not just to stay in the game but reach a new creative level. All life was art and war, darkness and heroism. If music taught her anything it was these principles from Beethoven, and the Eroica the finest lesson. Let this heroic journey reach fulfillment at last.

——————————————————————————–

Pegasus J. Crawford, the man who created Yugioh itself, put himself deep in thought as he quietly sipped his wine in the small dining room of the complex that would be the lodgings for all eight finalists. He went so far as to design each room to reflect the true nature of each respective finalist, putting his great skills as a painter to use, whereby the carpenters, electricians, and plumbers followed his exacting instructions. The dining room, the hub each apartment revolved around, held eight large mirrors that reflected off each other face, creating a prism of infinite refractions within each mirror. Pegasus saw his own self in one mirror; his dandy red business suit, his tall stature, broad shoulders, long fair hair, one brown eye, shattered into shapes he could barely recognize.

Such was the true nature of humankind, where there was no one person in each body but only a labyrinth no Theseus could ever escape. What of the Minotaur at the center? Pegasus amused himself with the idea of seeing it revealed by the finalists playing his very game. The high priests of Egypt extracted Ka monsters from people’s souls and used them in battle for this very purpose; it was one reason Pegasus created this game in the first place. The Millennium Items, magic artifacts smelted from gold and the bodies of ninety-nine sacrifices, used by the high priests for such purposes, were lost, but the Book of Isis, holding one spell used to create the Millennium Items – merely one spell of the many mysteries – was still at large. The evil person who used the Book would cause untold catastrophes, which Pegasus wanted to avoid at every cost. He instinctively reached for his left eye socket but did not find the Millennium Eye he used to have within. He could no longer use its divine powers to see further than mortal eyes could. Now he was just a man and could only use his human powers.

Pegasus left the complex behind with such melancholy thoughts in mind, trotting on the soft sandy ground of the small Pacific Island where the finalists would be held. The warm light, blue sky, and fresh sea did not comfort him but only worsened his mood, the setting sun cut through everything with its harsh light. He thought of Sophia, one of his favorite adopted children and protégés, locked in the dangerous tournament, and hoped she would come out in one piece. Using a refined wooden cane, the debonair Pegasus showed his grit as he slowly climbed his way up a rocky hill and the massive pyramid at the center of the island he built alongside his colleague Kaiba, the battleground every duel would take place, laboring his way to the very top.

Seto Kaiba, the mighty technocrat who singlehandedly drove Yugioh in its modern form with his massive wealth and brilliant inventions, stood tall with his shoulders crossed as a bronze memorial statue, glaring down the pyramid to the white sand, green trees, and blue waves beneath him. Let this tower engrave in history the supreme achievement of the tournament’s winner and prophesize the great events of the future, the imperious Kaiba thought. Here, in this very tower he built, let history be made! He thought back to the first Battle City tournament he hosted thirteen odd years ago, how he also hosted the finals on top of a mighty tower, and watched history form as Atem became the first official world champion. Now he would witness something just as grand in the thirteenth Battle City as the Yugioh game would evolve to an ever higher level.

Pegasus, who finally reached the top, cut Kaiba’s lofty thoughts, “Whew! We should have made a smaller pyramid, Kaiba-boy. I think we made our point.” He patted his damp face with a silk handkerchief before stowing it away in his suit. Kaiba turned his piercing blue eyes to glare at contempt at the annoying man who cut his thoughts with such a frivolous remark. The two men could not have been more different. The gay, effete Pegasus contrasted the severe Kaiba, who had tall and with broad shoulders as Pegasus, yet wirier, donning his battle armor; a black leather body glove with a long white trench coat. He wore this same uniform at the first Battle City and wore it now even though he would not duel. He had a far greater plan, to defeat the very champion of this tournament to take the title of King of Games for himself. Why waste his time in an entire tournament when he would make it to the finals anyway? “Speak! Why are you here?” He demanded at Pegasus.

The debonair man sighed in a knowing way, “Very well, my Wagnerian Ubermensch. I would like to just share the beautiful view with you but, as such simple joys are far beneath the higher man such as yourself, I will get to the point. Beware of the Book of Isis and the people who seek it. It is owned by a finalist, it calls out to me, knowing I once held a Millennium Item. The Ghouls have been thwarted but one dangerous man remains, Matthew Carter. He will enter the finals to claim the Book for himself and avenge his grandfather’s demise, but even if he fails Gernand remains as well as a dark shadow, an evil intelligence I know little about. They are not threats right now but they will be.”

“First of all,” Kaiba scoffed at Pegasus, “The Ubermensch derives from Nietzsche you illiterate old fool. Second, I couldn’t care less about any occult threats lurking under whatever rock they choose to hide in. My tournament is about the future, not the dusty ancient past. You would do well to remember that.”

Pegasus rebounded, “You call me an old fool but look at yourself! You sound exactly like you did thirteen years ago, right down to the ‘I focus on the future’ spiel. You carry the obsessions and grudges you held for literally over a decade. Imagine how bad they would smell if they were food. You are, dare I say, an Ubermensch parody, more like Siegfried than Dionysus. It was this thing called satire. You know, a joke?”

“Jokes are for happy-go-lucky, shallow types who cannot stand the darker sides of life.” Kaiba growled. “Do you want me to destroy you before the finals even take place?”

“I must disagree, Kaiba-boy. Humor let’s us see the extra dimension in our lives as tragic creatures we would otherwise never see and transcend them, and this includes the so-called darker sides of life as well. Only man lives in such horror he needed to invent laughter. You are a tyrant but will never be an artist while I will always be both, and only this type of person can win this tournament.” Pegasus did not budge and inch throughout their entire discussion and, seeing Kaiba’s mild surprise, said, “Yes, who would have thought little old me who created Yugioh in the first place would know so much. You’re constipated character is why you always failed to beat Yugi and why generic antihero rival characters always fail.”

Kaiba became so frigid the very warm air around them dampened. “You’re meaningless foppish words did not move me an inch.” But Pegasus knew it wasn’t true. He had a special talent in annoying Kaiba and nothing amused him more than seeing Kaiba overreact, like watching Donald Duck get mad in a Disney cartoon. Kaiba punched a code on his duel disk, a newer sleeker model that outdated even the new models the finalists had used up to this point, the machine projected a holograph roster of all eight finalists, which Kaiba read out loud.

Matthew Carter
Heir to the Carter Foundation. Twenty-two years old. Has not dueled in a tournament since he lost the nationals in 2005. Dominates the opponent with powerhouse monsters overriding effects, favors Lightsworn and Horus.

Mathias Blackheart
Leader of the Saints, a team of professional duelists based in Ireland. Age unknown. Uses psychological warfare. Favors Nordic Gods and Horus. Teammates are Maximus and Ivy.

Maria Wight
Best duelist of Team A Cappella. Based in the UK. Twenty-three years old. Wins through card control by controlling resources. Uses Normal Pendulum monsters.

Svanhildur “Stella Nova” Minervadottir
Leader of Team Stratosphere. Based in Iceland. Twenty-three years old. Specializes in controlling the field with floater monsters. Favors Yang Zing. Notable teammate is Willow.

Marina “Maya Brook” Bozuslowsky
Best duelist of Team Baby Blast Furnace. Based in Iceland. Twenty-two years old. Used a variety of strategies in her career, now swarms the field to create many high level Extra Deck monsters. Favors banishing cards. Teammates are Yukio and Sophia.

Hannibal Davidson
World-renowned archaeologist and classical scholar. Based in Athens. Thirty-one years old. Uses strategies that spring during the opponent’s turn. Favors Artifacts.

Tamas Varga
Leader of Team Impossible. Based in Hungary. Twenty-eight years old. Uses beatdown. Favors all Dragon-Types. Teammates are Bence and Beze.

Weevil Underwood
Leader of Team Loser Dog. Based in Japan. Twenty-six years old. Uses strategies that slowly weaken the opponent’s monsters and bind the duelist in a lock. Favors all Insect-Types (obviously). Teammates with Rex Raptor.

“Kaiba! Weevil may be a loser but you must at least pretend he is noteworthy. He did survive the tournament after all. He has just as much right to the finals as everyone else.” Pegasus admonished his colleague.

Kaiba scoffed at the mere idea then left in a huff, leaving Pegasus alone to appreciate the view on top of the pyramid. The Egyptians thought the pyramid likened to the rays of the sun and thus paved a stairway to the Underworld. Well, Overworld if you think about it, Pegasus joked to himself. So, which finalist would make it to the top and reach the Heaven of being forever remembered in history? Did it even matter? Well, it certainly did, at least for Pegasus’ entertainment and Kaiba’s vainglory.

YGO COP 2: Duel 18 – Future Plans

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Jiao’s name has been changed to Xiaoyi.

DAY 4 : 1:12 PM : LUXOR

The events of yesterday were too grueling for any one person to bear. Maya, Yukio, and Sophia were exhausted the next day. They could barely sleep from the all the stress last night, their bones ached, and tolerance for stress thin. But they had to keep moving on. Maya’s fatigue brought back her college memories, where she lived alone in a small apartment, fighting in a duel stadium to pay tuition, her every day in class earned in a victory… and getting a Political Studies degree to make a career on top of that… and trying to work on her dramatic arts on top of that…

Time marched on relentlessly anyway, uncaring. Our protagonists had to keep up despite their aches and pains. It was mandatory. Maximus called every team that survived the Ghouls’ attacks and was still in the tournament to meet in the town square of the village workshop. Beyond the workshop lay a field of sand littered with small, sharp rocks and pottery fragments, and beyond the sand lay the tall, jagged hills of the Valley of the Kings, austere and intimidating. They sky was a perfect blue with no clouds or other blemishes, magnifying to yellow shine of the sand the might of the hills.

Our protagonists saw those wondrous scenes and vowed to see them more, but needed to move on. They huddled just inside a hovel over their laptop, deep into conversation.

June 3, 2009
PRIVATE CHANNEL

Maya, Yukio, and Sophia tell the crew back home everything that happened last night.

JOLENE: “I’m so sorry everything happened to you, Sophia, and you too, cher and Yukio.”

HASSAN: “I offer my condolences.”

JC: “I do too. Sorry about everything.”

Did JC just apologize? And why? Maya can’t make out if JC apologized for what the Ghouls did last night or what JC did four years ago, or both.

MAYA: “It’s fine. What’s done is done. We can take care of ourselves.” Maya offers an equally ambiguous reply.

YUKIO: “We don’t know who is left in the tournament. It’s not unreasonable to think the Ghouls took out a lot of people.”

Maya: “Jolene, can you show us all the teams that are left?”

JOLENE: “No problem, cher. I don’t even need to hack anything. Kaibacorp keeps an open record of every duel that took place for spectators.” She then delves to find the records.

MAYA: “This tournament really is Battle Royale…” she mutters to herself. “It’s worse than the Superbowl.”

YUKIO: “Worse. It’s the Superbowl for douchebag fat bearded virgins who don’t bathe, euphoric over the thought of their own enlightenment, while everyone else faints as soon as they smell their armpits. It’s as if Conan the Barbarian, Broly, and Bandit Keith left their jockstraps in a locker room for a week.” He nudges Sophia and winks at her.

MAYA: “You’re not helping, honest as you are.”

SOPHIA: “I think you’re both being unfair to duelists everywhere. Think of Stella and Mathias. They’re great duelists and wonderful people.”

MAYA: “Girl, you need to wake up. Like chess, Yugioh is a game that consumes you totally if you’re not careful. People who resist this game’s corruption maintain their humanity. Most don’t. Among the damned there are only three types. One: the aforementioned neckbeard losers. Two: pedophiles with lolicons for Internet avatars. Three: worst of all, arrogant wannabe champions who netdeck each other.”

SOPHIA: “You mean like you, right?”

YUKIO: “Burn.”

MAYA: “Honey, you need to step up your game, so burn it up your own ass. I’m still the American Champion and have been for the last four years. Please explain to me how I’m a generic meta player who netdecks everyone else.”

Sophia remains silent.

MAYA: “That’s what I thought.”

YUKIO: “You’re taking this really personally, aren’t you?”

MAYA: “The last few days have really put me under a lot of stress, and I hate everyone. My whole life is on the line in this tournament. What happens here will shape my future forever.”

SOPHIA: “As it will ours. Maybe Yukio and I don’t have everything to lose, but our lives are still on the line anyway.”

JOLENE: “Okay, guys. I have all of the teams still standing.” She downloads the information and sends it to Maya, Yukio, and Sophia, who examine it for themselves. Around twelve teams remained, including theirs, Baby Blast Furnace, holding three Item Cards. Team Stella remained, as did Buffalo Chicken, Ultimate Super Sayan Gods, and others.

XIAOYI: “Oh, you guys survived the second Ghoul attack? You sweethearts are tough cookies, aren’t you?”

MAYA: “Xiaoyi, how are you useful again?”

XIAOYI: “I provide the hovel so your friends to talk to you together, not unlike the hovel you’re in. Listen, I have a tip for you. Notice how Umbra, Lumis, and Bandit Keith went after your team?”

MAYA: “Yes, but Bandit Keith attacked for personal reasons.”

XIAOYI: “That aside, notice how the Ghouls attacked you with their lieutenants, not their foot soldiers. There is clearly an order in their attacks. The capos bring down the biggest threats while the rest of the crew takes out the small fry. Expect Umbra and Lumis to confront you again soon and next time I doubt they’ll use a proxy.”

MAYA: “You know an awful lot about Ghouls.” Xiaoyi sounds like Bakura in her black book.

XIAOYI: “Common induction. Elementary, my dear Watson. Even someone as naive as Sophia could figure it out. Most criminals aren’t very smart. Only strong people can wield evil and not get burned.”

JOLENE: “Anything else going on?”

YUKIO: “Mathias wants everyone to meet up at the town square. Well, village square really. He wants to prepare us for the Ghouls.”

JOLENE: “That makes sense.”

HASSAN: “Before we hang up, I need to tell you something. I had another dream. Among the three snakes, one of them slithers towards with guile and strikes her. The second snake strikes back at the first and they war with each other while the third snake tries to protect the second one.”

JC: “Don’t be ridiculous! Only idiots think bad dreams actually mean anything!”

Maya agrees with JC in silent. It’s not like they have the time to ponder the vague and dim babbling of prophecies anyway.

Mathias called everyone to gather round the square and the meeting was held in short order. Mathias stated his case, “Duelists everywhere, look around you. When the tournament began there were seventy teams. Now, only twelve remain. We don’t know when the Ghouls will strike again. We need to stick together. Maybe we should stop dueling each other entirely until the worst is over. Everyone who agrees, raise their hand and say ‘Aye!’”

Maximus, Ivy, Maria, Stella, Yukio, Sophia and others raised their hand “Aye!”

Maya did not. She furrowed her brow, pondering her thoughts briefly, then spoke, “We can’t stop dueling entirely. We’re still in a tournament after all. What if the Ghouls strike us at the last day? The tournament will end and we’ll all be fair game.”

“But if we duel each other we’ll still weaken ourselves either way.”

“I see your point, but keep in mind our duels are televised all around the world. The tournament is a fight for survival for us but for Kaiba and Pegasus it’s reality TV. They don’t care about us. If we don’t entertain them, if we don’t give them revenue, they’ll make us duel in some devious way, which makes our situation even worse. Besides, the Ghouls care less about technically eliminating us and more about terrorizing us. Why do you think they go to such lengths to destroy the marketplaces, even set tingfires on them?”

Maria took a deep sigh. She disliked Maya in every way, from her brazen impudence towards everyone who was her superior to her rude, perverse, and violent personality to her hatred of everything right and normal about Yugioh and everything. She was Lucifer, wildly trying to grasp the cosmos to bend it to her pride and will.

But Maya had a point. She knew Kaiba loved her, that he would always defend her and never put her in danger. But when Seeker attacked her, he let her get disqualified. Only Maya stepped up to her and saved her. She despised owning a debt to someone like Maya but her doubts of Kaiba’s love overpowered those feelings. Perhaps Kaiba was just testing her or being fair, not to give her any advantage over anyone else. She hoped.

She said, “A compromise, maybe?”

Maximus nodded curtly. He put his foot down on the matter. “We should duel each other, but each team can only duel another team only once per day. No one can leave Luxor. We need to stick together. Everyone agree?”

“Aye!” The group chanted. The meeting was over.

All teams dispersed. Our protagonists wandered the village to find a shelter from the sun’s blazing heat. The day was especially hot. Sweat poured over their heads so much it sometimes got in their eyes, blinding them.

“Have you guys noticed that Heishin, the Egyptian governor, lets the tournament go on in spite of the Ghouls wrecking his country?” Yukio said, wiping huge beads of sweat off his forehead. “Furthermore, his soldiers always come to stop the Ghouls a little too late, when all the damage has been done.”

“Heishin may be in league with the Ghouls.” Maya concluded. “It’s not uncommon for politicians to make deals with organized crime.”

Sophia interjected, “That makes so sense. The tournament attracts more tourists. Egypt makes a big profit just accommodating us duelists. Why would Heishin sabotage his own profits?”

Against Sophia’s doubts Maya could only repeat a point she made before, “Heishin may be working with someone else who has other motives.”

The team kept pondering their thoughts as they looked for shelter. It wasn’t easy because heckles kept breaking their concentration. “Come buy alabaster jar! Three dollars! No hassle! No hassle!” The team had no choice but to run away to escape the hassling.

Their exhaustion, the sweltering heat, worrying about the Ghouls, and the store hecklers started to get to the team. Their blood boiled under the sun. Maya and Yukio sounded more irate while Sophia became more sullen. Her eyes were in pain, the horrors of last night still all too fresh to her. Whenever she looked at someone it was almost as if she was pleading for someone to pity her.

The team briefly stopped under the shade of a palm tree. It was nowhere near a good enough place to stay but they could rest for a while. Maya and Yukio guzzled down bottles of water. When they offered Sophia a bottle she refused despite the heat practically melting her. She seemed to withdraw inside herself like a caterpillar into a cocoon, or worse, like a butterfly returning into a cocoon. Whenever the team bumped into another duelist Sophia would almost cry. The duelist would ask what happened to her, she would answer and ask for a hug, which the duelist would then give. Her melancholy degraded into simpering.

Maybe the broiling heat was too much but Maya had enough. When the team was out of earshot from anyone who knew English, Maya turned around and met Sophia face to face. “You really need some cold water to the face and not from an overpriced bottle. You’re self-pity is revolting and precludes any sympathy given to you. It’s fine to feel terrible but you indulge in your melancholy like it was comfort food. Then you display it publicly, sacrificing your dignity so random people will comfort you. How dare you exploit your assault this way!”

The words stung Sophia as a blast of icy wind. She suddenly felt very cold. She looked even more hurt than before. “I – I don’t understand. W – What are you talking about? What’s wrong with you?” She chocked, holding back tears.

“You honestly think all the people who hugged you actually cared? You think they would really stop Bandit Keith from harassing you or would they enjoy the show?”

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Yukio stepped in. “Can’t you see she’s trying to heal herself?”

“Bullshit. She’s exploiting her suffering and weakening herself in the process.” To Sophia, she said, “You’re very privileged people treat you as a lily white delicate flower. I was assaulted too at seventeen. I was coerced into having sex in a punk concert bathroom stall over an unflushed toilet. The man was ten years older, kept grabbing me in places and hurting me even when I told him not to. Nobody gave a shit about me. You know what I did the next day? I got up, went to school, and went to work afterwards. Like nothing happened. Because if I told someone, no one would care. I never got to be a delicate flower.”

Sophia burst into sobs. “Why do you hate me?” She cried out again and again.

“Way to go getting Sophia to like you.” Yukio said.

“She’s training herself to become a victim.” Maya rebuked. “She’ll live a life where she keeps ending up with bad men over and over again and won’t be able to stop the vicious cycle. Sympathetic people aren’t drawn to the vulnerable. Predators are.”

Yukio had enough. “You know what, Maya? You’re like a drug addict, except instead of being addicted to coke you’re addicted to being destructive to yourself and everyone else. I bet a million dollars your entire life will be a story of self-destruction. You delude yourself into thinking you’re some kind of freedom-fighting iconoclast when all you are is a MASSIVE BITCH!”

“This is coming from an overgrown wannabe rock star manchild who still lives in mommy’s basement. You’re lamer than Jack Black. Blood Velvet is a band name as original and inspiring as Mystic Spiral. You might want to think of changing it. Tell me, Trent Lane, when will Mystic Spiral finally get off the ground and top the charts? When you’re thirty-five? Fifty-five? When you’re dying a nursing home?”

“Fuck you. You’re an evil person. You’re living proof the Devil is a woman.” Yukio rebuked.

“Don’t flatter me.” Maya shouted over her shoulder as she stormed off.

Yukio tried to put his hand over Sophia’s shoulder to comfort her. “She’s talking more about herself than anyone else.” He said, but she was too distressed to listen to him.

Maya walked only a short distance away. Her rage dissolved into despair. She fell against the wall of a hut, crying. The stakes for her in the tournament, her promise to Hassan, her feelings for Sophia were too much. The black cloud of depression shrouded her vision wherever she walked. Everything looked far worse than it really was but she could never see how things really were. The bright desert looked black as night to her. Where would she go if she lost the tournament? How would she pay her college debts? Her duelist career debts? And even if she won where would she go? Where was her proper place in life?

Worst of all was her guilt. “Sophia.” She moaned, the only thing she could say. She failed to protect Sophia against Bandit Keith. It was all her fault for letting her get kidnapped. The very thought of Sophia being abused again frightened her and seeing Sophia pity herself guaranteed to her it would happen again. She realized she had to confess to herself she yet only knew in her innermost thoughts. She summoned all her courage to speak her knowledge openly to herself. She loved Sophia. Yes, she liked Yukio and Jolene but she loved Sophia, the first person she ever loved.

She felt so worn out and tired. She wanted to die and sleep in a tomb forever, never to be disturbed, but her thoughts were ahead of her as always. She needed to apologize to Sophia. There was no other way around it. She nodded to herself as if she made a point to convince herself and wiped away her tears. The villagers looked at her as if she was insane.

Maya returned to her friends. “Sophia, I’m so sorry. Anger got the better of me. I didn’t know what I was saying.”

Sophia dried her red, raw eyes, but said nothing. She sniffed and crossed her arms in an almost haughty and defiant gesture.

Maya let her knees hit the sand. She was not a religious person but it was as if she was at confession. “Please forgive me. I beg you to forgive me. You are the only person in the world who can put me on my knees. I love you. Seeing what Bandit Keith did to you drove me insane with guilt. I felt like the biggest failure in the world. I don’t want to see you sad. I want to see you happy. You’re smile twinkles more brightly than all the stars of heaven.”

Sophia, moved to sympathy by Maya’s words knelt down across from her. They became equals. “I care for you. I care what happened to you.”

Maya reached into her bag and gave Sophia the rarest card she owned. “It’s called Sophia, Goddess of Rebirth. It’s not the most practical card but it’s definitely one of the strongest. It’s stronger than any god card. It symbolizes what I see in you, buried deep inside you.”

Sophia and Maya hugged.

Our protagonists found a small bedroom under the ownership of a local who loaned it for a few dollars a night. The bedroom, no the whole building, was a hovel and no hotel in any sense. However, it did have a massive, noisy fan, which eased the burden of the oppressive heat.

As they unpacked their bags, Yukio reminded them of the dueling grounds a duelist mentioned to them. Dueling grounds, places people could just hang out and duel for fun, were everywhere but were very popular in poorer towns and countries where duel disks were not frequently imported. The workshop village in Luxor was no exception. It supposedly even had a duel box, an ancient precursor to the massive duel arenas of the old Duelist Kingdom days.

But first things first. Our protagonists took a hearty bite from the portable food they carried and set out to improve their decks. Their opponents would soon know how to counter their tactics. They had to evolve, always exploring new ideas to keep their opponents on their toes. They tweaked and play tested their decks again and again until they were at last satisfied. Exhausted, they fell comatose on their cots, eager to win a victory later tonight.