Yugioh Endgame: Duel 15 – Everybody Wants Poppy

Anubisius cannot help but pace restlessly in his vacation manor, occupied with the defeat of Secmeton from several months ago, stopping every once in a while to glance at the rich purple fields surrounding him. What if he is next? The poppy plantation his manor oversees in the Goston valley, more specifically the wealth it represents, gives him small comfort. He tightly clutches the Millennium Key hanging round his neck as if asking the artifact to protect him with its magic. 

But the poor wealthy man need not brood alone. A large helicopter blows over the poppy field, out of which steps out Pegasus. Yifan arrives on horseback wearing a cream pink skirt, looking like a little princess, which makes Anubisius scoff, while Kepura arrives in a black limousine. Anubisius puts on the bravest face he can as he goes out to greet the guests, inviting them to his palace. He calls on servants to set up small round table and soon thereafter everyone sits down to have a tea party. 

Yifan notices the anxiety of her host as it shows on his features: his face long and sullen, his skin wan, his long arms stiff as wood, and his speech correct and terse as the Queen’s English. She cautiously sips the rose tea, sticking her pinkie out in jest. “Why so British?”

Anubisius fails to respond. Kepura wipes his large thick lips with a handkerchief and lays out what everybody is thinking on the table. “One of us is down. What do we do?”

“I’m in no position to do such a thing but maybe,” Pegasus says while twiddling his thumbs. “World leaders should do something about this crisis on our hands.”

“Martis is in a conference with the President of the United States.” Kepura states flatly. “So far the American government has declared martial law on the devastated west coast while building forts to strengthen the defenses of the east coast cities. If I was a gambling man – which I am; it’s a serious problem – I’d say the terrorists will continue on the east coast or attack East Asia. The Momentum generators there are nearest to Los Angeles.”

Anubisius is about to speak up but he is cut short by a sharp objection. “Don’t be an idiot!” Kaiba severely admonishes Kepura. “The terrorists can fly like they’re devils from Hell, or Dragonball Z villains. No place on earth is safe geographically speaking.”

Pegasus quietly observed Kaiba parking his Blue-Eyes White Dragon jet outside, which certainly made a big noise, but the rest of the conference was too distracted to care. He sighs, “It’s everyone’s favorite party pooper.” All this while drinking his tea.

Kaiba is not alone; he is joined by an otherworldly woman, thin and very pale, with hair so fair it is almost white. Pegasus recognizes her to be Maria Wight, the Yugioh World Championship semi-finalist from three years ago.           

Anubisius finally has the courage to bluster at a random target. “Kepura, do something! You are the Field Marshall of the United States, the most powerful country in history!”

“Secretary of Defense. There is no American Field Marshal.” Kepura corrects him. “Besides, what am I to do? Order a nuclear assault on every potential target around the world? Our terrorist friends come and go as they please. They have no headquarters nor any chain of command.” He points an accusing finger to everyone around him in turn. “Their strategy is to form a cell when it is time to attack, even one under your very noses, then disperse.”

Yifan observes, “In other words, every underprivileged person on the planet is a potential enemy, about seven billion of them ever since Momentum became a thing. Meanwhile, the whole infrastructure of civilization as we know it depends on six generators. The terrorists can attack six billboards with targets painted on them. We can only grasp at smoke.” Yifan points to the servants of the house and the workers outside. “Even they can be plotting against us.” 

Anubisius puts his hand near his throat as if he is choking and even Kaiba drops his stoic mask, just a bit. Yifan covers her smile with a pale dainty hand, satisfied as a cat lapping milk.  

Kaiba covers his fear by lashing out. “How disgraceful! Our enemies are anarchist dogs who hide in the forest until they make a surprise attack. Fitting that a seditious woman like Maya leads a pack of hyenas.”

“Actually,” Anubisius adds, “Hyenas are more related to cats than -”  

“SHUT UP!” Kaiba roars like a blast of icy wind. 

Pegasus blows into the air and waves his hand like its a fan. “Do you have a strategy, Kaiba-boy?”

“You’ve done nothing from the beginning. You’re useless!” Kaiba turns on him, heaping more abuse. “You know that meme where Val Kilmer in Pulp Fiction walks around in bewilderment and has no idea where he is or what he’s doing? That’s you!”

Yifan finishes her tea, extremely amused from all the arguing going on, also making a note in her mind to steal Kaiba’s joke. Kaiba catches her smirking and demands she speak up, so Yifan tells him the truth. “I think it’s funny how easily you intimidate other people. All your constipated rage and vitriol comes from frustration and impotence. If you could achieve all the things you needed to, like getting a life, getting a girlfriend, beating Yugi in a card game, you would be a happier person.”

Kaiba rejects her advice at once, triggered into delivering a monologue on his philosophy. “Happiness is the mark of the imbecile. Man’s first scowl, his first profundity, came when the gods touched him on the forehead. A man who laughs and smiles often is shallow and dull. A man who laughs at everything kills a duelists’ pride by sneering on all that is heroic. A profound man does not laugh in joy or amusement. A profound man laughs in scorn and judgment. A profound man always has gravity and dignity about him. He is serious in every field and is never frivolous; he does not guffaw, he does not party, he does not waste his time socializing or drinking tea while the world collapses.” 

Yifan checks her watch, slouching on the tea table. “Cool story, bro.” Poor “Kaiba-boy” must be as boring and miserable as a Puritan. No wonder Maria broke up with him.  Anubisius cannot take it anymore. He smashes a vase in frustration, screaming. 

Pegasus decides to speak up. “Perhaps we should petition to every world power to double its defenses of the Momentum generators. America, China, Russia, and Pakistan come to mind. Even if they are set on protecting Momentum, we should still stress the danger of terrorists.”  

Yifan ponders the situation. If she is a gambling girl, she will bet Maya will take out Anubisius next. He is the weakest link. The poor thing must be frightened as a little rabbit. She can smell his fear. However powerful Maya is, she is still the underdog so she will exercise some caution, breaking one weak link after another until the whole chain falls apart.

Set on her prediction, Yifan gives false council. “Anyone who has seen Maya as a pro duelist knows she is a brash impatient person. Most likely she is already bored with taking out mere high mages and wants a real challenge, a legend like Kaiba, Pegasus, or Yugi. I’ll also venture to guess that Maya is an insecure person beneath all her dramatics – this is a common trait among outlandish people like her – so she wants to prove herself to mend her low self-esteem.”

Pegasus jumps to the conclusion. “Protect Japan and China, as well as my island since it’s near the shore of East Japan.”

“Correct.” Yifan confirms. She eyes Kepura next. “The American East Coast should be fine on its own. Also, India and Pakistan should protect China in case Maya wants to pull a fast one.”

The council, seeing her ideas to be most reasonable, agree. Even Kaiba nods in approval though still hating her guts. Strategies out of the way, he proceeds to his agenda. As he explains it, Maria has Blue-Eyes White Dragon as a Ka, meaning she can confront the terrorists since she can match their unnatural strength with her own. Unsure of such a bold claim, the council demands to see such power first hand.

Maria quietly assents, leading everyone outdoors. Being very shy among such powerful people, she lets Kaiba do all the talking while she concentrates on proving what words cannot. She has trouble getting in the mood at first but pulls herself together after a while, meditating for a full hour. Yifan can hear her Ka growing ever stronger like it’s a rising pitch, burning like a blue star, before anyone sees her glow in bright white. She grows and transforms, becoming a Blue-Eyes White Dragon in the flesh.

Meanwhile, decides to test Maria’s power first hand. She calls on Anubisius to order Saudia Arabia to launch a nuclear missile to Pakistan. He is at first bewildered until he reflects in shame on how he appeared so nervous and weak a moment ago. Steeling his nerves and wanting to get his balls back, he bullies an executive officer over a radio call to bypass all protocol and fire the weapon. He gets his way and within fifteen minutes the missile is launched.   

Everyone, even the servants and workers, stop to admire such power and splendor. Not bad, as Yifan thinks. She is a natural. Maya had to train for years to be like this, being an ordinary mortal with a humble background. But still, people like Maria who are chosen by the gods may have a huge head start but normal people with creativity and ambition have a higher ceiling. A god cannot truly be courageous or break new ground but mere mortals can. That is her pet theory. Either way, Maya has her work cut out for her.

“The missile has been launched.” Anubisius informs the council with a dry voice. 

“You heard the man.” Yifan tells the white dragon, pointing to the sun as if the warhead is there. “Fetch.”

The dragon takes off, breaking the sound barrier. Anubisius receives a radio call from the executive officer. The nuke was destroyed as soon as it was out of range. The white dragon promptly returns in triumph and reverts back into a human. Maria is strained from the exhaustion of executing such a difficult feat but still has the strength to sit down on a chair near Kaiba.

Anubisius sighs in relief and self-satisfaction, knowing that Maria will keep him safe. He orders the servants to deliver several old school opium pipes to the guests, transporting them a hundred years into the past. Anubisius, Yifan, and Pegasus take to enjoying themselves while Kepura, Kaiba, and Maria refrain. 

Enraptured from the opium, Pegasus quotes literature: “Life has always poppies in her hands.”

“Only if you’re a dreamer.” Yifan rejoins. Her brain sick with opium, she naps on the base of one of the manor’s many columns, transported into a dream. She arrives to an African Savannah, the origin of the human species, and sees Maya, a bright woman more beautiful than any other, blazing in the sky where the sun should be. Maya never leaves the midheaven, an idée fixe refusing to leave Yifan’s mind. Yifan stretches her arms to the sky, longing to embrace Maya, but cannot rise beyond the ground no matter how hard she tries.

“Cyndia…” Pegasus moans in sorrow. “My dear wife Cyndia… I still miss you…”

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Yugioh Endgame: Duel 13 – Much Going On

Sofia finds herself in a wide plane, a grassland in the Horn of Africa similar to the one in the Shangri-la several days ago. The midday sun blazes on her tawny skin, covering them with dark sunspots, burning her so much she almost shines like a star herself. She rushes into the mouth of a cave to protect herself as much as she can, though she already aches with sunburn. 

The cave reveals itself to be the mouth of an Egyptian temple, its outside nothing but a ruin but its inside as alive as the day it was built. Yes! She was here before back when she was in Egypt! It’s one of the Abu Simbel temples! She sees pair after pair of stone giants of Ramses II flanking both sides of a seemingly endless hallway. And above, a night sky of stars that look alive. She fears the colossus golems will demand her to solve riddles but they remain quiet, letting her pass without harassing her.

She arrives to the inner sanctum. The four gods: Ramesu, Heru, and Ra-Amun bathed in light and Pitah remaining in darkness, oversee the Shadow Game before them. There, Sofia sees Yifan and Maya sitting across a large circular table, a diorama of the whole Earth. Yifan has several cards out: the high mages, Kaiba, Pegasus, and one card facedown. Maya also wields forces of her own: herself, Yukio, Mathias, Miguella, Hassan, and several generals.      

Maya moves the card depicting herself on a square next a card representing Secmeton, and declares an attack. The duel between the two “monsters” unfolds. The Ba, or bar of hit points, of the Maya card almost reaches zero but the Secmeton card is destroyed by battle, so Yifan places it in the Graveyard. Yifan draws a blank card from her Deck, and uses her mind to conjure an image of Maria! She Summons it near the Kaiba card.

It is Maya’s turn, so she draws a blank card from her Deck and conjures an image of Sofia on it. Then, she places the Sofia card on the edge of the board facedown, as if unsure where it should go. Sofia needs to help Maya while remaining hidden in darkness. She nudges Maya’s elbow, pushing her hand a bit to the tail of South America. Maya takes the hint, so she moves the Sofia card face down to the Strait of Magellan. Then, she does something unexpected; she taps the card with her finger, and starts singing in a falsetto:

And so I wake in the morning
And I step outside
And I take a deep breath and I get real high
And I scream from the top of my lungs
What’s going on? 

And I say, hey yeah yeah, hey yeah yeah
I said hey, what’s going on?

“What was going on?” Sofia thinks to herself after she wakes up. 

Maya did train her how to have lucid dreams and mentioned they would talk to each other through dreams one night. It seemed like Maya lured Sofia to hidden place to ask her for directions – for something. Once Maya got what she needed, she then gave Sofia directions of her own – or so it seemed.

Sofia browses the Internet a bit, not fully awake, unsure of what to do. Surely enough, the death of Secmeton is all over the New York Times, the remaining masters of mankind visibly scared. Enough of this. Sofia gets up, puts on her clothes, and makes her way to the East River. Sofia must have a bad habit of sleeping in because the sun already at its zenith, and she is hungry. Suddenly, a machine appears as if it waited for her the whole time. It looks like a spaceship from centuries in the future but comes out from the water. It opens the hatch, revealing a small seat inside. 

Now Sofia gets it. She texts Jolene, “Going to the gym.”, knowing her friend will get the subtext, and climbs aboard. The hatch closes her inside and creates a computer generated panorama of the underwater world surrounding it. Sofia opens a virtual map and points to the Strait of Magellan. The machine obeys, darting to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, transporting Sofia to her destination within several hours. She opens the hatch, seeing Maya stand with her arms crossed on the rocky wind-blasted shore, as if defying the elements.  

“So how’s your work vacation?” Maya welcomes Sofia; her face makes a jarring change from brooding to jovial in a fraction of a second. 

Sofia steps out to the shore, getting surrounded by a multitude of little penguins as if they are giving her a welcome party. She sees Maya pointing at the penguins and hears her give them names: “Here’s Dan, Wayne, Frank, Eric, Ted, and Darren. And there’s Amy, Megan, Karen, Lisa, and Carrie.”

“Did you just assume their genders?” Sofia jokes.

Maya gives Sofia a warm hug, leading her to the windswept mainland, the penguins following her. It is time to advance Sofia’s training. The first task of the student is to follow the master in doing several stretches and balances. Sofia easily follows Maya’s lead, doing what looks like a few yoga exercises except maybe the balancing is more demanding. 

Sofia begins to feel disappointed, even a little upset. It doesn’t look like Maya is taking her seriously. Then, Maya puts 5 kilogram weights on her arms, legs, neck, and waist. Sofia follows, and the “yoga class” becomes harder. Maya ramps it up to 10 kilogram weights. Sofia, though hardy like her teacher, has a lighter build and less training, making her strain rivers of sweat as she summons the greatest strength her body is capable of doing. Maya also trembles from the extreme strain, like she is also about to break any minute now.

At 20 kilograms, Sofia exceeds her mortal strength and is forced to bring out her Ka, or life force, from deep within her, making her dark brown eyes glow crimson. She looks across to Maya, whose eyes make her less like a human and more like a night predator. Sofia puts all her effort in controlling her Ka, taming the roaring rapids of fiery energy throughout her body, engineering it into a controlled river that flows around in a circle, around, and around, and around. Otherwise, her Ka would erupt like wildfire, burning her body and a kilometer of landmass into smouldering ash. 

Sofia does a handstand with one arm, the penguins pile on top of her, and Maya sits on her feet with all of her weight, making her body, now superhuman begin to strain. “Good.” Maya purrs like a contented tiger. “Now the real training can begin.” 

Sofia blinks. “Excuse me.” She begins to see red from all the blood rushing to her head.

“I will ask you several questions.” Maya says in a very grave tone. “For each one you get wrong, you owe me one bourbon. Sounds good?”

Sofia nods, visibly confused. 

Maya starts the game: “In the red house lives a red man. In the blue house lives a blue man. In the white house lives -”

“A white man.” Sofia blurts out.

“Wrong. The President lives in the white house, who is a black man, you racist. You’re retarded.”

Sofia blinks several times, her eyes bloodshot. “I don’t understand.”

“I want you to think on your feet and see logical holes where you’d otherwise not see them, even under unbearable stress.” Maya explains, though Sofia remains skeptical. “Next question: what is the best way to burn grass in your backyard?”

Sofia wracks her brain for an answer but can’t find one. “A small match to keep it controlled?” She answers, her voice uncertain.  

“Why would you burn perfectly good grass? You smoke it!” Maya scolds her. “And you don’t do it out in the backyard where a cop can see you. That was a major doobie. By Mary Jane’s bush, you’re retarded!”

Sofia frowns in frustration and disgust, too upset to say anything.

“Last question: on what side of the roof does the rooster lay its egg in the morning?”

Ah ha! Sofia knows this one! “Neither! Roosters don’t lay eggs!”

“I was going easy on you.” Maya scoffs. She gives Sofia several more retard tests but Sofia only gets another one right. “You must have been very sheltered growing up under Pegasus.” Maya complains. “If you went to a public school, you’d know half these riddles. I only invented one of them, the one with the weed joke. Don’t worry. You can live a full life despite your disability.”

“Come on!” Sofia shouts through gritted teeth, her resentment building. “I want serious training!”

“Oh, this is very serious.” Maya reassures her. “You can’t just fight. You have to dance in a battle. You must cultivate humor, wit, rhythm, lightness, and music in your martial arts. It is called martial arts for a reason.”

Maya feels Sofia buckle under the strain, folding beneath her like a pretzel. Maya gets off and surveys the tangled mess, wondering how to reassemble her. It’s like Maya needs to build Ikea furniture but lost the directions. “Wayne, stop it!” She shouts at the hooligan penguin as it starts humping Sofia. She kicks the creature away in a fury, cursing at the author. “Very original!”

Maya takes off her weights, then carefully removes the weights from Sofia before putting her back together. Sofia gets up, feeling so light without the weights she can dance on her toes. Maya does dance on her toes and invites Sofia to a boxing match. 

Sofia accepts the challenge, eager to get revenge on Maya for humiliating her. The two fighters flit from one place to the next within the blink of an eye, like how the hummingbird goes about her business among flowers. Sofia lashes out at Maya in every way she knows how, but Maya effortlessly dodges them, while Maya in turn strikes with just enough speed for Sofia to block – most of them. Maya smacks her a few times, though not too hard. The penguins thoroughly enjoy the spectacle.

“Doctors know an easy way to diagnose cancer. If your hand is larger than your face, I have bad news for you.” Maya says. Sofia naively lifts her hand to her face, only for Maya to push Sofia’s face with it. “I do have bad news for you. You’re retarded.”

“I honestly think you’re just trying to bully me.” Sofia complains.

“A little bit.” Maya admits with a twinkle in her eye. “I last dunked a gamer nerd down the toilet when I was eighteen the day after my dad beat me and got drunk. I had to plead the cops to not arrest him that night. Now the gamer nerd complains about feminists all day.”

“Even in a tent city?”

“Especially in a tent city. He knows who I am.” 

Sofia grows impatient. “Can I fight you for real now?”

Maya is overjoyed. She uses her Ka to create a burning sword out of the air. Sofia does the same and lunges at her opponent, glad to finally be taken seriously. The two women begin sparring once more. Maya’s quirky training regimen continues unabated. Still, Sofia is unsure what’s really going on or if Maya is pulling her leg in an elaborate prank.

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 12 – Maritime Marriage Therapy

Husband and wife make their way to the deck, catching the fresh salty breeze of the morning air. Yukio slowly takes a sip of black coffee while Maya rubs her head. “I’m getting too old for this.” She complains, struggling with her hangover.

Yukio prods her with a gentle question. “Maybe we should talk about what happened yesterday.”

Maya gives him an acid smile. “Sure. I was too mean to the old man, a legitimate military target. Yes, he ruined the lives of a billion people and was destroying the planet, but he cried about the whales, so it balances out. Nobody is perfect.”

“You killed his son, an enemy combatant, which is obviously understandable.” Yukio says. “But did you really have to rub it in his face throughout the duel?”

“You’re right.” Maya retorts. “I should spare my enemy’s feelings. I wouldn’t want to demoralize an enemy fighter too much. I need to be gentle, go to therapy with him, mind his delicate mental health, you know, give him a chance to kill me.”

Now Yukio is getting a headache. “It’s not really about that. I fear all these things are symptoms of something else. I’d call it your moral compass or the state of your soul if I was a Christian. I feel like you’re losing you’re normalizing psychopathy and losing your humanity. I wonder if you really care about all the people you’re fighting for.”

Maya does understand what he is saying, feeling the same worries herself, but another part of her thinks holding on to ideal morals will be too brittle for her struggles ahead. And too old. And false. She tries explaining her feelings to Yukio but completely misfires. “There is no point in behaving in a perfectly moral way if the high mages still control the world and drive the planet to destruction. We are at war, so strategy takes precedence. Ideals, and that includes moral ideals, are tools. You need to use them to mobilize an army to win. That is a fact. I wish I could hold fast to moral ideals but I’m too disillusioned. It won’t win a war.”

Yukio does not believe she truly values moral ideals, and so he jumps at her because of his suspicion. “So you believe the ends justify the means?”

It is a gotcha question, and Maya knows it. So she answers it the way she always does, and it is certainly not by evading it. “I do.” She replies, smirking in the most obnoxious way she can.

“Mathias believes the means justify the ends.” Yukio says.

“Mathias is a fool.”

“I believe the same thing he does.”

“You’re an idiot too.”

An awkward silence follows. The sun climbs the horizon throughout the argument. The black ocean turns wine dark, then midnight blue, then a solid dark blue. A comrade spots an island, rousing everyone on board of its presence.

Maya continues, “You don’t need a Millennium Item to predict how things will go down. Heroes are predictable, reactive creatures. Mathias will object to my ‘cruel’ methods because that’s what heroes do. Yugi and Jonouchi won’t show up until the very last moment. In another universe, Yugi will believe in the Heart of the Cards or Atem will give him an eleventh hour superpower to reform me and kill Yifan. But we don’t play by those rules. The heroes will fail.”

“By ‘we’ I assume you mean Yifan and yourself.” Yukio shoots back. “In case you forgot, according to the Millennium Necklace you destroyed, Yifan will win. Where did you predict that in your master plan?”

Maya has no answer.

Yukio continues, “You act like you’re in a grand Shadow Game RPG against Yifan, but you’re not. People are not expendable pawns or NPCs. Hashtag their lives matter.”

Maya becomes indignant. “Yifan thinks our revolution is a game, not me! I need to follow my plan if me or Sofia are to defeat her one day. The only reason she hasn’t pulled a Maleficent and burned the whole planet by now is because she would get bored. As long as I work towards killing her one day, she will think me a worthy opponent and give us odds to keep things interesting. You’ll thank me later when it’s all over and I’m finally dead. Then you’ll be happy.”

“So she is the cat. You’re the mouse.” Yukio says in disgust. “And poor Sofia is… The dog that chases the cat? I don’t know. The analogy is falling apart.”

“We’re more like the Sith Rule of Two.” Maya comments. “Complete with fiery red swords, dark magic powers, an edgy philosophy, and arguably we are necessary as we are evil – in the Nietzschean sense of the course, not the dumb Christian or democratic sense.”

“I really hate you sometimes.” Yukio mutters.

“Then why don’t you divorce me?” Maya challenges him. “Our marriage is only a week old. Cut ties with me while it’s thin. It’s not Britney-Jason marriage short, but it would give the rest of Hollywood a run for its money.”

Yukio spills out more of what is on his mind. “You know what really hurts me?” He pauses to properly form his ideas. “I’m assuming you know the Becky and Stacy memes. Becky is the bookish, introverted, artsy girl, somewhat pretty but unkempt and not too attractive. Stacey is the alpha bitch, with high heels, fake tan, fake hair, fake tits, immensely popular, extroverted, has men waiting on her every move.”

“Of course I know who Becky and Stacey are. What’s your point?”

“When I first met you, I saw this intelligent girl who had an artist’s sensitivity and talent but who was also brilliant and fun. I cannot conceive of that girl doing the things you do now. I thought you were a real Becky, like my ex Jolene, but now I think you were a Stacey trapped in a Becky the whole time.”

Maya laughs ruefully, almost with scorn. “Sweetheart, Becky and Stacey are a false dichotomy; they don’t exist. You act like you’re still in high school. Grow up. You fell in love with me when I was being a so-called ‘Stacey’, not ‘Becky’. We entered a relationship when we were in Egypt, when I did many ruthless, violent things. We got down last night after I killed an old man in a card game. You consider yourself a feminist, don’t you?”

Yukio nods.

Maya says, “You like a strong, independent woman, but your idea of her is a ‘hipster girl’ or a ‘spooky girl’. Spouting progressive talking points and threatening to hex someone are cute, but there is nothing striking or unique about it. When you see an actual strong woman, like me or Yifan, you reel back in disgust, even though it’s what you really want. You probably see Yifan as bourgois, conventional, and arrogant, and me as a ‘Stacey’, even though we are none of these things. Again, grow up.”

“You kill scores of people every weekend.” Yukio counterattacks with indignation. “Spreading war, violence, disaster, insurrection, chaos, disease, and death are your job. You are not a woman! You are a beast! And Yifan – what you’re – say!” He needs to take a moment to properly speak again. “She is a vile snake who likes playing with her food before she eats it, at best! At worst, she takes nothing seriously, because it’s all a bad joke to her! Don’t talk to me about how nuanced Yifan really is when she is the source of evil tearing this world apart!”

Maya finishes her coffee. “Not like you can count on a man to do a monster’s job anyway.”

Yukio tries to crack Maya’s armor, a task he imagines to be as difficult as mounting a hedgehog. “I’m not in the mood to spar with words. I’m being very serious right now. I’m worried about what you have done and what you are becoming. How can you fight for the rights and well-being of Earth’s poorest against the one percent when you act as callously and flippantly as the world’s richest CEOs? I don’t want to lose the woman I fell in love with.”

Maya clasps Yukio’s hands, her face almost penitent in its expression. “And here is my serious response. I would normally say it’s all just an act: to be as cavalier and bold as possible to put fire in the hearts of people. That is indeed true, but there is more to it. I don’t think I can live by the values we have anymore. It’s not enough if I am to somehow transcend to new heights as a musician, as a duelist, as a ‘beast’: in short, as a ‘creative being’, if you could call me that. Yifan, evil as she is, has a point in her worldview. You can’t be too righteous these days. You’ll lose either your sanity or your ability to truly understand this world.”

“So it’s all about you and your creative power?” Yukio asks.

“Yes, mine and Sofia’s.” Maya confirms. “It always has been.”

While Yukio deeply disagrees with Maya’s priorities, he does respect her on some level. He gently puts his hands on Maya’s cheeks. “You straddle a very thin line between light and darkness. It’s like you are walking a tightrope. Promise me you won’t lose yourself and fall.”

Maya kisses her husband’s hands. “I promise.”

The island becomes close enough for a man to swim to it. Maya strips naked and jumps in the water, ridding herself of yesterday’s sewer grime. Yukio throws everything in the air. He strips naked and followers her. A comrade, the one who spotted the island earlier, scratches his head but doesn’t care enough to think about it any further.

Everyone arrives to the shore, setting up a small camp, then search the jungle for some fruit and other provisions. Maya and Yukio get new clothes and spend the morning fishing, yielding enough food for themselves and a few of the hungriest people. Yukio and several comrades return to the computers in the boat, resetting the special incognito network they used to communicate with each other before. So far, nothing.

Maya thinks it appropriate to create a memorial for all the soldiers who died in battle. She conceives an idea and leads her comrades in carrying many rocks, big and small, from around the shore to set up an artwork. Midday passes to night. Yukio leaves the boat to see a large mound, the sharp rocks making it look like a mountain with jagged peaks. Everyone puts a small object dear to them, even if it is but a trinket, at the top of the mound, each one representing the fallen comrades.

Maya ignites one of the torches on the mound, which spreads through the grass and all the other torches, transforming the memorial into a blazing mountain. Touched by such a creative act, Yukio clasps Maya’s hand and invents poetry off the top of his head:

Men who drowned in the wat’ry deep,
Now soar upwards t’wards the sky.
We stop our climb and fall asleep.
Tomorrow we soar on high.

The rebel band spontaneously match the words with music, creating a song. While it is not amazing, even corny, it is heartfelt. Everyone sings and sways in unison, not unlike the orchestra, that great symbol of a democratic community as Maya thinks it, voices and flames climbing to the many stars above. Most comrades see the full night sky and the Milky Way for the very first time. Maya feels like she can somehow be drawn towards the stars just by staring at them long enough and letting go. This gives her an idea just as everyone goes to bed.

Yukio wakes up the next day, groping at the empty space by his side, expecting Maya to be there. Just when he thought he could trust Maya, when he could give his heart to her, she burns it! He sees many pebbles carefully arranged on the sand, a long chain of numbers that he presumes are geographic coordinates. Maya must have given him the location of the rendezvous point for the rebel fleets.

Wait, but how? Yukio is left scratching his head.

But there is more. He sees letters forming a puzzling sentence: The sky is the limit.

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 11 – A Very Possible Victory

MAYA: 50 || SECMETON: 1975

Maya hovers her left hand over her Deck, almost like she is about to surrender the game. Next turn, the effect of Card of Demise will kick in, forcing her to forfeit to her entire hand, leaving her defenseless against a potential onslaught. This draw better be good.

MAYA’S TURN: “I banish the three Sirens in my Graveyard to Special Summon Dark Necrophilia (ATK 2200)!” A horrid shadow rises from the netherworld, haunting the field for a while, before forming into the tall thin purple figure of the queen of the dead.

Secmeton gasps at the sight, an original uncensored print of Dark Necrofear. The monster’s powers are probably extremely strong as well, before she got nerfed in later printings. The high mage laughs ruefully. “Oh, Maya. Why do you keep fighting me?” He waves his arm in a broad gesture. “I can negate your Spells, your Traps, and your monsters. You should give up.’  

But, before Maya can proceed further, Secmeton interrupts her again. “I mean, why do you fight against me knowing the senseless destruction you bring to this world? You believe yourself to be fighting for the good of humanity, don’t you?”   

Maya knows exactly where this is going, and so replies, “Don’t waste your breath. A dramatic monologue won’t make me question my motives for an instant. You’ll need something more compelling than that.”

Secmeton ignores her snubbing him, droning on with the utmost gravity, “If you seek to bring about a revolution, of achieving a world of equality, free of all oppression, then you are the most ill-fitted person to carry on that task. You sacrifice men as if they were pawns; you kill sons with the least thought of the grief of their fathers; you scorn human life with such cavalier disrespect you might as well be a feudal lord. Then again, a feudal lord at least assumes responsibility over his subjects as they are his wards.”

Maya rubs her temples with her fingers for she has gotten a migraine. It has been a long, long day. She retorts, “At least in theory. You can care about oppressed people as much as you want, but nothing will happen if you make no sacrifices. Principles, ideals, policies, whatever are tools you use to manipulate your subjects into doing what you want, whether you want them to protect your social order or to fight in your wars, even though you have to believe in those ideals yourself to some degree. Anyone who believes in an ideal with no reserve is an idiot waiting to be duped. You must leave your conscience at the door.”

“And here is where you’re wrong.” Secmeton lectures on. “The means justify the ends, never the other way around. Nothing has greater price than your conscience. Your integrity is the one inch of you no one can take away except yourself. No one in the world can doubt the goodness in my heart. I did my best to push initiatives to protect the oceans from the worst pollution. I cannot afford to lose this duel, for the sake of the loved ones I must protect!”

Maya raises an eyebrow, visibly confused. “You must be senile. Your son is – I wouldn’t say sleeping with the fishes but – is fish food. Your wife is worm food, soon to be followed by a worm man.”

Secmeton shoots back with a vengeance, “A good duelist must always duel to protect their friends and the ones they love! I’m pretty vague on who those people are but I must do it anyway! That’s what the good guys do! A low evil dog like you will never understand that!”

“I guess you must protect the dolphins, preserve the sharks,” Maya prods him further. “Perhaps you must save -”

“Yes!” Secmeton shouts. “I MUST SAVE THE WHALES!”

Maya and her comrades all laugh at the old man’s expense. Maya will miss him when he’s gone. He just made her day.

She then delivers her rebuttal. “Yes, you are probably a decent man, but your decency means little, and your conscience means nothing. You tried saving the whales while building Momentum, the thing that exiles millions of humans from home and kills millions of whales. You throw waste in the ocean, you cry about it, the planet burns. Here is my position, and it is an honest one at that: either billions of people starve and die or all people starve and die.”

Mathias folds his arms, his face now dark and grim. “It’s a lose-lose duel.”

“I won’t stand for a future where you use human lives for a greater gain!” Secmeton shouts.

Maya smiles at him in the most insincere way possible. “Spoken just like Atem. Truly.”

“You cannot tribute human beings like they are Monster Cards!” Secmeton musters the energy to deliver his next line in the most profound tone possible. “WE LIVE IN A SOCIETY!”

Maya scoffs, “I certainly don’t live in yours. I mean, how can I? Ever since Momentum became a thing, ‘society’ has been shrinking every year. Soon it will be a dozen old guys hiding in their bunkers before the poor literally eat the rich.”

Now she really wearies of this conversation. Seriously, it’s worse than talking about politics at Thanksgiving dinner. “Regardless,” Her eyes flash wide open, the flames inside so bright she must be possessed by a devil. “Dark Necrophilia, send Davy Jones to a watery grave! Pray for death gaze!”

“You fool!” Secmeton retorts. “I banish 3 WATER monsters to activate Ghost Mariner’s Shore Curse!” A large old mirror suddenly flashes in front of Davy Jones, forcing Dark Necrophilia to take the full curse from her own killing gaze, destroying her.

“Excellent!” Maya exults at the death of her monster. “You have no more fodder for your cards. Stygian Drag Racer, pulverize Davy Jones!” And the daredevil fiend unceremoniously runs over the enemy, which starts the chain reaction causing all of Secmeton’s cards to shatter.

“No!” Secmeton cries in shock and anguish. (Secmeton LP 1975 → 1925)

Maya delivers her final order. “Stygian Kart Racer, attack him directly!” And Secmeton receives the full brunt of a vehicular assault. (Secmeton LP 1925 → 575)

SECMETON’S TURN: “I return Sinister Serpent to my hand and Normal Summon Tribe-Infecting Virus (ATK 1600)!” A vaguely humanoid lizard creature appears, lurching, transformed into a zombie by the virus infecting it. “I discard my Serpent to use its effect. Destroy all Fiend-Type monsters!” The zombie lizard opens its gaping mouth, vomiting a black cloud unto Maya’s creatures, forcing them to vomit their insides out before painfully crumbling to dust.

Secmeton is ready to attack for game, but pauses. Dark Necrophilia leaves an onryo behind when she dies. Now, an evil spirit, though unseen, wanders the field and can possess any monster he plays. If he attacks, there is a fifty-fifty chance the evil spirit will possess his monster, negating his attack and inflicting damage on him, making him lose the Duel.

Maya spreads her arms wide open as if about to hug her rival. “What are you waiting for! Attack me directly. You have a perfectly fair shot at killing me.”

“Do not play with me!” Secmeton growls.

“When I spoke about sacrificing a billion people, I included myself as well.” Maya says. “Luck may be on your side and you’ll win. I’m as disposable as everyone else. I know that I will not live to see old age. I promise you that. If anything, I’ll die within the next three years, so if I die now, oh well. Strike me down and avenge your son!”

Secmeton clenches his fist but hesitates. Even if passes his turn, his chances will remain the same, fifty-fifty. To delay will do nothing. “You asked for it! Virus, attack Maya directly!” Secmeton barks. But luck is not on his side. The evil spirit possessing his monster bursts out and pierces him in the heart. He cries out in pain, falling to his knees. (Secmeton LP 575 → 0)

MAYA: 50 || SECMETON: 0

The dark magic of the shadow games slowly eats away at him; the old man knows he is done. Even his knees give way, but Yukio rushes to catch him before he can hit the floor.

“You’re lucky. You get more respect than any high mage ever will.” Maya snorts.

Secmeton reaches out to the woman who killed his son with a withered old hand, pleading, “Maya, I know deep down your heart is good. As a man reduced to begging to his murderer, I beg you, please remember me and my son as men of good intent, who only tried their best to do good in an evil world. We are all only human.”

His speech touches Maya deep in the heart. Remorse overtakes her so powerfully she nearly loses balance, even nearly faints, as she fully understands for the first time the depth of suffering she has unleashed unto the world. Only now does she realize how much the fathers of her enemies will weep but, unlike Secmeton, will not be granted mercy in a quick death – And mothers! Dear God, the mothers! Mothers like her! How could she live if little Narmer died!

Maya nearly faints, but she catches herself at the last moment. Good people who do nothing to oppose evil might as well be evil themselves. Secmeton and his son, no matter the purity of their hearts, were powerful elites. They developed Momentum in Los Angeles; they played a part in spearheading a new global military industrial complex; they were agents of oppression and destruction around the world.

With a heavy heart, Maya flatly says, “No.”    

Secmeton closes his eyes and breathes his last, a fool till the end.

Maya strolls to the old man’s corpse to claim her prize, the Millennium Necklace, pretending like nothing of consequence happened. Yukio can no longer control himself at seeing such cruelty from his wife, and he starts weeping bitterly, cursing the day he met her. It is relatively common knowledge that the shadow games reveal people’s true natures but he cannot conceive of Maya’s heart being this dark. How much rage and hatred did she hide from him all this time?

Maya prized the Millennium Necklace from the corpse and squeezed it as hard she could. She concentrated as hard as she could, mustering her Ka into a force powerful enough for her to shatter even a Millennium Item – and right at the moment the Necklace is destroyed, it flashes a brilliant light, engulving Maya, Yukio, and Mathias in the blaze.  

The three warriors see the next three years flash before their eyes. Mathias will switch sides when he learns of Maya’s secret. Maya will take the Millennium Ring instead of destroying it, letting it corrupt her. Yukio will be blessed with a new baby, one Maya will give birth to in prison. Sofia will grow in strength as Maya’s pupil, preparing for the day she will confront Yifan. Jolene, JC, and Miguella will be executed by their enemies. Yifan will best Yugi in a duel. Maya will best Yifan, Kaiba, and Mathias in a duel. Sofia will kill Maya in a duel. Sofia will fight Yifan but won’t be strong enough to defeat her. She will die from battle, and Yifan will be free to destroy the earth, and then the solar system, and afterwards be free to roam the stars as a dragon forever.

“Spoilers: everyone dies.” Mathias comments dryly.      

“I hate to break the party but reinforcements are coming and satellites could strike at any minute!” JC hollars from above.

Maya, Yukio, and Mathias muster their Ka, having no time to contemplate the vision given to them by the Necklace, able to project wings for themselves in only a minute, and fly away from the battle field, carrying JC, Miguella, and whichever commanders they could find to safety with them. Every other fighter has to make do and flee for their lives on the few boats remaining. A new flock of drones arrive to pick out a few more boats while new missiles from the war satellites high above bombard all of Los Angeles.

Without a Millennium Item to stabilize it, Momentum loses its ability to run as a near perpetual motion machine. It loses momentum, just a little bit, which causes a chain reaction reversing its direction, which causes it detonate, releasing the power of a nuclear blast in an instant. The explosions swallows all but a few drones, and the rebel troops pick apart the remaining drones. All the rebels scatter into the wide blue in different directions, making their way back to Chile as quickly as possible, taking advantage of the chaos caused by the nuclear blast.

“Thank Isis Mary Mother of Raptor Jesus that Ka energy can stay warmed up like the body during exercise.” Mathias sighs in relief as he drops Miguella and JC on a boat.

Maya and Yukio land on a different boat a hundred miles away carrying their commanders, eager to drive the boat further into the vast ocean. Maya exults in victory with the troops, drinking, dancing, and playing limbo with them into the night.

Yukio does not join the festivities, sulking below deck. “Yes, Maya, how low can you go.” But he does not want to make things awkward by quarreling with his wife now. She did clinch a major victory for the people of planet Earth after all, striking a heavy blow against the global empire, but sometimes she really frightens him.

Something about that fierce power, that robust stinging humor, that way she takes life’s horrors in stride, all that arouses him as much as it disgusts him. So when Maya comes on to him, stinking drunk from victory and rum, he embraces her for the entire night.  

They wake up half naked next morning, Maya groaning from the hangover, Yukio staring into the ceiling, wondering what the war was really all about. While the two of them are having their morning coffee, Yukio gently nudges her. “We really need to talk.”

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 10 – Trapped In Davy’s Locker

Maya: 200 || Secmeton: 3950

“Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow…” Maya keeps moaning as she struggles to get up. “My ass will be bruised for days. I don’t know if Yukio is into that sort of thing, but still.” She gets on one knee and forces herself up with some effort, still grumpy Secmeton put her in a position beneath him. “I may be in a bad spot, but I’m coming back.”

Seceton raises an eyebrow, annoyed, “In case you didn’t notice, I just pounded you into the ground wide open, deep and dirty!”

Everyone around him snickers hard enough for a bit of snot to come out. Mathias can barely restrain tears of laughter. “Your joke is one chapter too late, my dude.”

“For the love of Neptune’s trident, grow up you children!” Secmeton admonishes his enemies. “This is not Captain Underpants! This is a serious card game battle with the fate of the world at stake!”

MAYA’S TURN: Anyway, back to the boring card game. Maya gains 1000 Life from Snatch Steal (Maya LP 200 → 1200), and her Stygian Drag racer returns with roaring engines. “I activate Spider Web and I choose to add the Bahrastos in your Graveyard in my hand.” Maya declares. “And this action puts Vanity’s Emptiness in the Graveyard, so I destroy 2 monsters in my hand to Special Summon your monster!” And surely enough, the behemoth encroaches on Maya’s field (ATK 1800).   

“What a meaningless spiteful display, stealing my monster for the sake of it.” Secmeton admonishes her.

“Oh yes, it’s spiteful.” Maya admits. “But it’s useful. I destroyed Celestial Siren Lacheson with your monster’s effect, so she activates.” Suddenly, all of Secmeton’s monsters disappear within several wormholes. “Don’t worry about them. They’ll be back in two turns.”

With that strategy executed, Maya prepares for the attack. “I Normal Summon Thunder King Rai-Oh (ATK 1900)!” A tall machine hovers above the ground using the electromagnetic field it generates around itself to do so. “I atta-”

She suddenly goes quiet. Secmeton has three facedown cards and Maya has none. And her Life is really low. What does she do?

“Urgh. I Set a card and call it a turn.” Maya grumbles.

SECMETON’S TURN: “You didn’t have it in you. Then again, criminals are cowards. Sinister Serpent goes back to my hand. That is all.” Secmeton is forced to cut his turn short.

MAYA’S TURN: “I Normal Summon Stygian Kart Racer (ATK 1350), and banish it to draw a card.” A burning skeleton in a biker jacket speeds into play with a go kart on fire, then vanishes as quickly as he came. “Not a Fiend, but a good draw.” Maya thinks to herself.

“I switch Rai-Oh to Defense Position and Set a card.” Maya quietly ends her turn once more.

SECMETON’S TURN: “I thought so.” Secmeton says, smiling. “I just drew my best monster. Now I have all the cards needed for my ultimate strategy.”

“Well that’s tactically sound, revealing the cards in your hand, so to speak.” Maya remarks in an aside.

“I Normal Summon Ghost Mariner Davy Jones (ATK 1600)!” Secmeton announces, giving rise to a ghostly pirate skeleton, the devil of the ocean himself. “Go, Davy Jones! Destroy Rai-Oh!” The fiendish pirate cuts Rai-Oh down with his rapier.

Maya realizes at this point she made a mistake switching Rai-Oh to Defense. And then realizes she made yet another mistake not activating her Traps. “Good grief. When it rains, it really does poar.” Maya mutters to herself.

MAYA’S TURN: “My turn!” As soon as Maya draws her card, the Stygian Kart Racer returns to the field, as do all the monsters banished by Celestial Siren Lacheson. Maya and Secmeton reclaim the monsters they stole from each other in the process, Atropon returning to Maya’s field, Bahrastos to Secmeton’s.

“I activate Monster Reborn! I revive -”

“No, you don’t. I activate my Continuous Trap, Ghost Mariner’s Sky Curse” Secmeton shuts her down. “I banished 3 WATER monsters in my Graveyard to negate Monster Reborn!”

“Humph!” Maya bites her lip in frustration, then pauses to ruminate over her position. Secmeton has a Trap out that looks like one in a series of cards designed to negate card effects. One negates Spells. Another probably negates Traps. And then another probably negates monsters. Interesting hypothesis; now to test it out.

“I Tribute your Abyss Soldier to Special Summon Cavern Golem (ATK 3000) to your field!” The undersea warrior shatters, and the pieces reassemble into a large creature made of mud and cave stones. “Atropon, attack Cavern Golem!”

Secmeton sternly raises his palm as if he can physically stop the assault. “I won’t let you! Activate Ghost Mariner’s Shore Curse!” He banishes another 3 WATER monsters, letting Davy Jones crush Atropon’s body with a deadly curse.

“Good!” Maya shouts as her monster shatters. “Her effect kicks in since she got destroyed! We both lose half our Life!” Blazing arrows made of light shoot out from the Siren’s shattered body, hitting both Maya and Secmeton through the chest. (Maya LP 200 → 100, Secmeton LP 3950 → 1975)

Secmeton staggers back, his old body struggling to endure such a piercing assault. He curses his opponent. “You will not defeat me with a mere monster effect! I’ll drag you to Hell with me if I have to for killing my son! You swinish bard! You foul dragon!”

Maya tries counting on her fingers all the unique insult Secmeton has thrown at her today, but gives up. “Come on, old man. Using a thesaurus doesn’t make you smarter. Why do stupid men call me a slut, anyway? I’ve only ever had -” She counts on her fingers again, and easily finds the right number. “Three lovers, five at most if you count casual sex, in my entire life. That’s downright prudish by Western expectations.”

“Maybe it’s because those men are stupid?” Yukio suggests with a deadpan tone.

“And you.” Maya addresses Secmeton. “Why do you keep calling me a slut in a thousand different ways? Because unlike other damaged women, I don’t like creepy older men. And where is Mrs. Secmeton anyway, because I have never heard of her?”

Secmeton grits his teeth, offended to his core. “Leave my deceased wife out of this, virago!”

“Got it. All I need to know. A little exposition wasn’t that hard, now was it. I switch Stygian Kart Racer and Stygian Drag Racer to Defense Position.” So Maya ends her turn.

“And so Davy Jones activates.” Secmeton informs his rival. “I shuffle all the WATER monsters I banished this turn into my Deck.”

Mathias nudges Yukio with his great elbow. “This duel is getting really tense. I almost can’t stand it. I’m so excited; just watching it gives me the bluest balls ever.”

“Mathias!” Yukio scolds him. “You will get us censored!”

“Oh, come on! You’re the one with a girlfriend! I expected you to have a heartier appetite!” Mathias then makes a few cheap jokes about 4Kids Entertainment.

At this point the large hole high above, which connects the duelists underground to the world outside, seems to brim, like it’s getting rough around the edges. As Yukio and Mathias peer up to see what is happening, they see their revolutionary forces gathering round to see Maya’s epic showdown against a high mage, a being they have thought was untouchable.

Yukio sees JC and Miguella in particular since they peered down below more eagerly. JC comments, “Looks like Maya’s in a quagmire. Wonder how she’ll get out of this. She’s got a big boner down her throat. – Bone! I meant bone! I meant bone!” JC hits himself. “ARGH!”

Miguella rolls her eyes and sighs to the darkness beneath her. “Why do people associate card battles with sex anyway. I really don’t get it.”

SECMETON’S TURN: “Ready, vampiric witch. Here I come! Monsters, assault her!” Secmeton commands.

As his monsters encroach past their border unto the enemies’, Maya springs her trap. “Storming Mirror Force!” And the invading army is caught in a wall of wind. “I’m bouncing all your monsters back to the hand!”

“Oh no you don’t!” Secmeton then triggers his trap. “Ghost Mariner’s Trench Curse! I banish another three WATER monsters to negate your Mirror Force card!”

Maya jumps a little bit in excitement, not unlike how guinea pigs do when popcorning. “Do I see a Chain Link of 3 or higher! I love those! Solemn Judgment!” Maya pays half her Life, shattering Secmeton’s card, which in turn lets the wall of wind on Maya’s field blow away all enemy monsters. (Maya LP 100 → 50)

Quick! Secmeton must recover! But how? He has an idea! “I Normal Summon Davy Jones once more and destroy Sinister Serpent and Grant Heron in my hand to Special Summon Bahrastos!” Two members of his undersea forces return to the field. “I use the other effect of Davy Jones: I destroy Bahrastos to return Ghost Mariner’s Trench Curse to the field. And as I end my turn, I shuffled my banished WATER monsters back into my Deck.”

With these plays, Secmeton regains his composure enough to bluster at Maya. “You wasted half your Life for no reason. My field is exactly like before. I’ve got your head between my legs, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Yukio and Mathias snicker some more. It is too much. Maya is too focused on the duel to notice anything. She begins her next turn.

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 9 – Deep and Dirty

Secmeton summons the Millennium Necklace. The sacred Item leaves its sanctuary from inside the Momentum and lands on Secmeton’s open palm. The duel disk flies on command to the other palm of its master. Almost all the lights above shut out and the dark room becomes even darker. The shadow game begins. Secmeton says to Maya, “I will never forgive you for treating human life so shamefully. You will pay dearly for your folly.”   

MAYA: 8000 || Secmeton: 8000

MAYA’S TURN: “Talk about the wastewater plant calling the sewer black.” Maya retorts. “Challenger goes first! I end my turn.” Maya’s tone is so careless it looks like has made a mistake.

SECMETON’S TURN: “You can’t be serious! After all your blustering, blistering, festering words, you end your turn with an open field!” Secmeton fumes. “I’ll make sure your glib attitude costs you the duel!”

His luck this draw can not be any better. “I reveal and activate Rank-Up Magic – The Seventh One!” Maya is mildly surprised seeing such good fortune. “Using its power, I Xyz Summon Number 101: Silent Honor ARK (ATK 2100), and immediately overlay it to Xyz Summon Number C101: Silent Honor DARK (ATK 2800)!” An advanced submarine appears, then transforms into a trident wielding warrior of the deep.

The whole sequence takes place within the effect of a single Spell Card, letting him Special Summon from his Extra Deck more than once, bypassing the normal limit. What can Maya say; rules are meant to be broken.  

“I activate Graceful Charity!” Secmeton continues, drawing three cards and discarding two. His preparation for a powerful combo is complete. “I use Premature Burial, paying 800 Life to resurrect Superancient Deepsea King Coelacanth (ATK 2600), and I discard a card to use his effect! Arise from my Deck, three units of Oyster Meister (1600 ATK) and Royal Swamp Eel (ATK 1700)!” A fish hundreds of millions of years old the size of a whale returns among the living, bringing with it an aquatic battalion. (Secmeton LP 8000 → 7200)

“Then, I sacrifice the three Oyster Meisters and Royal Swamp Eel to Tribute Summon Dreadnaught Fortress Whale!” The battalion vanishes, allowing a whale with a gunned fortress on its back to take its place, a whale so big it takes the size of the whole chamber, absorbing the total strength of all the forces sacrificed to make its summoning possible (ATK 6500). Yet the three Oyster Meister monsters are not completely gone, leaving behind three Oyster Tokens (DEF 0).

“Observe, the ocean has heaved her bosom and brought forth all the forces of the deep to my side. My mistress serves me and me alone. And now for the final catch. You took me lightly at your peril. All monsters, attack Maya! Kill her!” The ocean’s greatest monsters lunch to strike, bite, and gun Maya down.

“I activate Stygian Ghost Jockey (DEF 1350) in my hand to Special Summon it!” Maya slaps her card down like her life depends on it, since it does. The ghostly skeletons of a horse and rider form out of smoke, and with it arrive the spirits of two Tokens of similar appearance (DEF 0). Hardly do they appear when Secmeton’s forces send them back to the grave.

Maya scolds her opponent, “You had a god draw and an OTK combo, only for me to waste both with one little card. What a shame.”

Secmeton grits his teeth in anguish. “You! You arrogant termagant vituperator! You killed my son! How dare you frustrate my vengeance!” He wishes more than anything to stab Maya in the guts and rip them out but cheating in a shadow game means certain death. He can only set a card face-down.” With the end of his turn, Maya must banish her Stygian Ghost Jockey from the Graveyard.

MAYA’S TURN: “My turn! I’ll do more damage with two cards than you did in ten! I activate Quantum Stargate! I’ll use its power to Special Summon a monster with 0 ATK and 0 DEF from my Deck!”

“What!?” Secmeton exclaims in shock. “How could you do anything with such a weak monster?”

“I’ll show you. I Summon Celestial Siren Clothon!” Some thing teleports to the field from light years away, what looks an empty blue-colored suit of armor that can be worn by a  mermaid warrior of sorts. Yet it has six arms and a large mirror-like screen at the center; within it Secmeton sees the eyeless face of an old crone.

“What on earth -”

But Secmeton does not have time to finish. “I activate Charm of Lamentation. And now,” Maya commands. “Clothon, attack the Dreadnaught Fortress Whale!” The Siren obeys, using her six arms to bewitch the ocean behemoth into attacking her.

“But my monster has 6500 ATK!” Secmeton gasps in shock. What scheme is Maya is plotting to subvert his great whale monster? He has no time to ponder the mystery. He must act on instinct. “I activate Half-Shut on my monster!” The move cuts the ATK of Dreadnaught Fortress Whale in half (ATK 6500 → 3250). Still, the whale strikes its target with its massive turrets. Clothon easily makes the missiles explode before hitting her with an invisible barrier, absorbing their power, then striking Secmeton directly with a snowstorm of equal force. (Secmeton LP 7200 → 3950)

Secmeton’s old body cows under the blow, but the old man does not bend the knee. “Good instincts.” Maya acknowledges, and Secmeton decides to take the compliment. “But I’m not done torturing you this turn. I can draw an extra card with Charm of Lamentation. Since your monster lives, my attack was technically a failure.”

“You’re inability to destroy my monster in battle reveals your weakness.” Secmeton says.

Maya returns his comment with a wide grin. “Destroying monsters by battle is so Duelist Kingdom, as is sending them to the Graveyard in general. My Siren’s true power reveals itself now. I gave you three thousand plus damage, so Clothon will return three cards you control to your Deck: Silent Honor DARK, Dreadnaught Fortress Whale, and Premature Burial. Clothon, dust the field!” Maya’s monster conjures another snowstorm, sweeping away the eyesores.

“You got rid of Coelacanth by removing Premature Burial from the field.” Secmeton mumbles to himself, not to Maya, as his great fish dissolves to dust. “If you targeted it, I might have been able to counter your Siren.”

“I set a card.” Maya concludes blandly in anticlimax. “Your move, old man.”

But Secmeton does not move. Warm salty tears fall down his crusted old cheeks and into his white beard as he stares at the head of his son Maya so callously threw at the floor. He cannot move.

“Come on. Move.” Maya kicks the floor in boredom as if she was kicking an old dog to get up. “Believe it or not, people are dying all around us right now. You’re lucky we’re just playing a boring card game.”

Secmeton trembles in rage, crying, “You killed my son! How can you demand an old man wracked with the grief of the death of his only begotten son to confront you in battle!” He howls into the air.

Maya rolls her eyes and sneers, “I expected more than token resistance from a high mage.”

“You killed my only son!”

“Then act like it!” Maya berates him. “I didn’t sacrifice several hundred men or an afternoon for cazuela to hear you cry. You think you’re a unique individual? Several hundred fathers will weep more than you ever will for the violent deaths of their sons. Your misery will be short. Now stop ruining my willing suspension of disbelief and fight me like a man who actually lost everything!”

“You do not know what it feels like to lose your only begotten son!” Secmeton wails in protest, falling to his knees.

“You’re right; I don’t.” Maya admits, however, “I know this; if you killed my son, I’d fight for my life to kill you, even in a children’s card game.

This makes old Secmeton recovers his wits. He uses his duel disk to upload information on Maya’s Siren monster, studying all her traits, then gets up upon finding a good strategy.

SECMETON’S TURN: “I return a Sinister Serpent residing in my Graveyard to my hand. I tribute two of my Oyster Tokens to Tribute Summon Grand Heron (ATK 2000)!” Out comes the majestic bird. Even Maya has to admire her beauty, but Secmeton goes on. “As I Normal Summoned her, I’ll add a high Level WATER monster to my hand. And now, I destroy Sinister Serpent and my last Oyster Token to Special Summon it! Arise, True King Bahrastos, the Fathomer (ATK 1800)!” A purple wyrm behemoth descends unto the field.

“With his arrival comes his effect. Bahrastos, banish Maya’s backrow!” And so Maya’s Charm of Lamentation and facedown Trap Card vaporize. “You had Blazing Mirror Force waiting for me. Too bad.” Secmeton gloats. “Your nightmare has just begun. I overlay Grand Heron and Bahrastos to Xyz Summon True King Of All Calamities (ATK 3000)!” Both monsters collapse to form an interdimensional portal, bringing out a larger Behemoth as black as outer space, and now Maya understands Secmeton’s real strategy.

“I detach 1 Material to make your Siren DARK Attribute.” Secmeton says. His beast roars, spreading an aura of dark waves throughout the field, making the Siren shudder and cracking her face-screen. This worries Maya, since not only will her Siren’s effects be shut down while it’s on the field but in the Graveyard too.

“True King, destroy Clothon!” Secmeton commands. Like a dragon, his monster destroys its foe with a blast from its mouth, forcing Maya to shield herself from the ricochets of the onslaught. (Maya LP 5000 → 200) “I set a card.”

Maya is astonished Secmeton knows of the other Sirens but knows better than the show it. Secmeton seems to read her, for he explains himself, “Clothon is most likely a reference to Clotho, one of the three Fates. You probably have a Lachesis and an Atropos buried in your Deck. Did you think I’d let you off the hook that easily, you fiend?”

“And you knew of my Siren’s effect how?” Maya asks.

“I read the card.” Secmeton tersely replies.

“I’m astonished.” Maya remarks dryly. “Villains in this franchise don’t do that.”

“I do not believe I am the villain in this story.” Secmeton says darkly, the implied insult as obvious as a black cloud before rain.

“You’re right.” Maya chides him. “You’re a minor antagonist at best.”

“You’re wrong. I am your destroyer, the man who will put your wicked designs to an early end.”

“I’d like to see you try.”

MAYA’S TURN: As her turn starts, Maya contemplates her position. True King puts a big damp on her Sirens. She will either have to go around it or drain it of Xyz Material, the source of its power. Ah, how annoying. The old man is as much of a killjoy as Squidward is.

Never mind. Maya says, “I Normal Summon Stygian Drag Racer (ATK 1650)!” A daredevil in a flaming car speeds its way to the field, the engine howling like a savage beast. “I banish it to use its effect, letting me send a Fiend from my Deck to the Graveyard.” The monster speeds off again to enter a new dimension.

“Now I banish the Fiend I milled, Stygian Street Patrol, to Special Summon Celestial Siren Atropon.” The second Siren, colored red and revealing the eyeless visage of a young virgin, appears, but meekly and curled up in a defensive posture (DEF 0). “I set a card and activate Card of Demise. I draw five cards.”

“But five turns later you lose your hand.” Secmeton finishes for her. “Let that fact seal your fate.”

“You wish. I set two cards and end my turn.”

SECMETON’S TURN: “The game is mine now! I win!” Secmeton declares. “I drew a good omen! – But first I return Sinister Serpent to my hand. – I activate Pot of Greed!”

“I’m sorry but what does that card do again?” Maya asks, pretending to look confused. “I forgot.”

“It lets me draw two more cards from my Deck.” Secmeton explains with all the seriousness you would expect from a man like him. “I Normal Summon Abyss Soldier and discard Sinister Serpent to bounce your facedown card.” An undersea warrior with a whale’s head rises to the surface and gets rid of the troublesome card with the power of its magic trident.

Maya is not too happy. Activating that very card, Solemn Judgment, would have been suicidal.

Secmeton carries on his scheme. “I detach 1 Material for True King to negate your Siren’s effect and I call the DARK Attribute!” – “This is it!” Maya says to herself at this key moment. – His behemoth roars again, rattling Maya’s monster to her core. “Then I activate Monster Reborn!”

“I counter with Vanity’s Emptiness!” Maya rebukes him. “As your opponent, I declare you invalid!”

“A bold claim, but it won’t hold up. I won’t bother to defeat your worthless monster. I’ll just Snatch Steal her!” He equips the Spell Card to Maya’s monster, forcing her to leave her post. “Your monster has betrayed you to my cause and your field is open. This is how you will die, abandoned and alone. My monsters, attack Maya directly!”

Secmeton’s monsters strike their foe with the blunt force of a trident and the blast of flames, throwing Maya unto the ground with her limbs spread out. (Maya LP 5000 —> 200)

Suddenly, the ceiling above them cracks wide open as Yukio and Mathias land next to the combatants, still blazing with the power of their Ka energy. Maya groans; she is not too happy that her comrades get to see her in such an unflattering position. Maya says to herself, “If this goes on, I’ll be six fathoms under.”

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 8 – Six Minutes in Hell

Come the following morning and every leader of the rebel forces heads out to the Pacific coast to meet the assembled troops stationed there. Maya and Yukio have no choice but to drop off their son to the care of an old village couple who has helped Yukio raise Narmer for the past three years, the same people they met at the market before. The young couple hands Narmer over to his new charge, which makes the child cry, and which makes the adults also cry.

Once more, as Maya laments, she has barely been with her son and must already say goodbye again. But such weakness of heart will not do, as she knows all too well, least of all before a battle, so she says to Yukio, “You’ve got a cute kid, though he is a bit on the quiet side.”

Yukio is shocked. “My kid? You made him too. You take Narmer whenever he is close to me like you want him all for himself. Now you act like you never met your son before. And what’s wrong with a kid being quiet? Are you afraid that makes a kid retarded? Because it’s not. He’s sensitive and intelligent.”

Maya tears off her flowery dress as it begins to annoy her and once more puts on her black shirt, pants, and coat. She dusts off a speck of dirt on her shoulder, saying, “If he is retarded or otherwise defective, I might as well eat him as to reabsorb the child back into my body. It would be a waste of stem cells otherwise. If mother voles, finches, and scorpions are entitled to dispatch their young, I am as well.”

This is enough. Yukio has to put his foot down. “I don’t know if you’re trying to desensitize yourself to the pain in your heart from letting Narmer go, but one more edgy comment and you’ll never see your son again.”

“Yes, yes, yes.” Maya rolls her eyes. “We live in a society, even if it fails us on every level. Human life is always sacred, except all the times it is not. Being ‘sensitive’ and ‘thoughtful’ are totally not things rejects made up to feel better about themselves and superior to other people. We should know. We mastered the art in high school.”

So Maya and Yukio argue on and off in this manner before arriving to the shore. The rendezvous with Mathias, JC, and company complete, they set sail into the open blue, scattering their forces so as to attack Los Angeles in multiple angles.

The next day, the high mage Secmeton looks out into the Pacific blue from the coastline. He tries to admire Iris, the rosy fingered dawn gracing the shore, but she reveals a graveyard of rotting sea creatures and rusted chunks of metal from the world’s oceans.

The smell of decay and rust prompts him to say, as if speaking to the ocean herself, in the most grave and profound tone he can imagine, “Momentum and the Millennium Items, what these infernal seeds have wrought such poisoned fruit: powers surpassing those of the old gods but the destruction of the very ground underneath our feet. Oh, we tossed away so much old useless metal, plastic, and rubber so carelessly to build ever grander monuments and fiercer machines of war, fearing that if we condescend to the ocean’s waters and keep her in a sound state we would waste precious time and advance too slowly compared to the other great cities of the world. Oh, what could I do save the oceans now? Oh, too much filth has sullied her breasts; it is too little too late. Things are in motion that cannot be undone.”     

“Whatever, Gandalf.” Says Adrian, his only son and captain of the forces guarding the coastline. “If we run out of sushi, we’ll find out ways to 3D print it or something.” He picks up a call on his earpiece. Multiple old foreign boats have been spotted outside the electric barrier, registered from Chile but put out of commission years ago, with clearly no authorization to come to Los Angeles. “They must be criminals or terrorists.” Adrian jumps to his conclusion, then issues his order. “Bomb them with the drones.” To his father, he says. “Get in the base. Guard the Millennium Item.”  

“Wait.” Secmeton halts his son. “Before that, let everyone surrounding the city in.” Adrian does as commanded, and thousands of vagrants who could no longer live in the city and fled it, come streaming back in. Secmeton opens his arms wide to welcome them. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Meanwhile, everyone among the rebel boats is tense as the steel the boats are made of. The cadres can just see the shore on the other side of the electromagnetic barrier. Readying their rocket launchers, they point them at the walls protecting the Momentum Generator of the city, now a small patch of grey land with towering skyscrapers, as if squeezed into a small point. Maya, Mathias, and Yukio meditate in the bridges of their respective boats, building the Ka energy needed to transform. All is quiet, still, frozen, like the cloudless grey sky.

A flock of birds streak from the shore into the sea, then get closer, bigger, blacker. The magpies become crows, then become vultures – a dozen men instantly die. The first bomb hits the nose of Maya’s boat, spraying limbs and torsos onto the water. The whole boat shakes under the next few bombs, throwing Maya all over the bridge. She barely blocks her head from the blows with her arms; otherwise she will be knocked out and it will be the end of her. The next assault nearly ejects her from the window.

Yukio and Mathias do just as badly several kilometers away. One bomb hits part of the bridge of Mathias’ boat, Mathias barely escaping with his life, instead merely getting buried under rubble. Yukio jumps from the bridge of his boat and hops around like a hunted rabbit to avoid all the missiles. And worse happens. One of the war satellites in outer space opens fire, sending a batch of three missiles, one missile every twenty minutes. Three boats vaporize under huge mushroom-shaped clouds, everyone on board dead.

The drones hit Maya’s boat so many times whatever is left of it keels over and sinks. Maya and whoever remains jumps to sea. The freezing saltwater stings Maya, her body soaked with blood, seared by fire, cut by shrapnel, crusted with blacked debris. Still, she thrives, and she calls Yukio and Mathias with a walkman that is thankfully waterproof. “The water! Charge up! Under!” She shouts in haphazard bursts. “Do you copy!” She shouts again and again for an answer. They respond, and she shouts some more but receives no confirmation.

Maya has no choice but to assume the best. She takes a small emergency breathing mask, a small valve of oxygen attached to a mouthpiece, and dives under water. Bombs explode above her and people scream before their cries suddenly stop, but the noise is cushioned by the water and Maya remains safe. She tries to concentrate, to build up her remaining Ka force, but it does not work. Still, Maya has fun.

What? Yes, Maya understands, a part of her, the dragon in her, is thrilled. She spent three months finding allies and rallying an army of cadres to ready for battle, and here it is! At last, her quest proper for the Millennium Items, her battle against Yifan finally, truly begins. But wait! Another part of her, the outraged feminist activist teenager, scolds her for her excitement. What monster gets excited in the middle of death and destruction? Maya pushes the activist away. If she worries about morals now, she will die. For six minutes though feeling like sixty, she focuses on her fun in fatal games, her lust for blood, her excitement in the violence, and lets that part of her take over – halfway.

Maya bursts from the ocean in an eruption like that from a volcano, partly transformed into a black dragon, with eyes glowing red, skin somewhat scaled and blackened, two pairs of wings and horns growing from her body, brandishing a flaming sword created from her own fiery energy within. She flits about everywhere in the sky like a fly, barely able to be seen. One drone after another vanishes into smoke. And Maya zaps around the shore from field generator to field generator, like a hummingbird, destroying each one.

Yukio and Mathias, having luckily received Maya’s message, copy her. They too emerge from the ocean, Mathias half transformed into Horus the Black Flame Dragon LV 8 and Yukio into Number 39: Utopia, and wipe out one drone after another. Like Maya, they too fly to shore and take out the remaining field generators. With all barriers gone, Miguella orders every remaining boat to open fire on the shore. Missiles streak across the grey air and blast several skyscrapers to the ground, exposing the biggest building, the Momentum generator, within.

Maya, Yukio, and Mathias meet together into a trinity. “Let’s play capture the flag.” Maya says. “First one to get the Millennium Item wins.”

The trinity clasps hands and shouts. “Reservoir Chile Dogs! Strike!”

The three warriors split up to assault the building holding Momentum generator. Mathias slashes at the top, splicing one piece of the large steel sausage after another. Yukio pounds the mighty base of the building, seeking to uproot it to find the Momentum lying somewhere underneath. Maya goes straight underground the area surrounding the base. She breaks her way into the sewer, scurries her way through the filthy mase like a rat, getting sludge on her breasts, waist, and thighs.

Then, Maya burroughs through the wall, crashing through the other side, killing a soldier. The dozens of other soldiers occupying the base open fire at her. Maya, in the mood for more games, picks up the gun of the dead soldier. “I haven’t played an FPS in ages!” She says to herself. Enhanced in her half dragon form, she picks off one soldier after another with easy speed. “Boom, headshot! Boom, headshot!” Maya shouts as she tears through one body after another. She reaches Adrian, Secmeton, and the Momentum in no time.

Adrian throws a grenade at Maya, who catches the hot potato and throws it back at the chef. Adrian blows into smithereens before his father’s eyes. “NO!” Secmeton cries, sobbing.

Adrian’s shattered head squarely lands on Maya’s feet. Annoyed, she picks it up and throws it away. “Duel me for the Millennium Item!” She commands the high mage.

Secmeton looks up into the eyes of the evil creature before him, trembling, but summons his courage. “Never!”

Something strange then happens. Maya’s wings, horns, and scales, vanish into flames and smoke, turning her back to normal, or so it seems since her eyes still glow red. She points to a monitor on the floor used by Adrian to observe the battle above. Secmeton can see with his two very eyes the spectral form of a black dragon form outside. The creature is covered in thick black fur, with skin wings, and the face of a wild ape. Secmeton reasons that it must be her spirit Ka, and what a sublime and dreadful thing it is.

“No celebrities will be harmed this chapter.” Maya says solemnly. Her Ka blasts the base of a building with its breath, toppling the thing over. “Nah! Who am I kidding?” It burrows into the basements below like a raccoon digging through trash, chewing through one celebrity after another.

“I have been compared to…” Maya counts with her fingers. “Five random animals through epic simile. You can try guessing which ones or play bingo on which celebrities die first. I’m personally hoping Tom Cruise went down first. I don’t know about Kim Kardashian though. She’s as empty of a brain as your son’s head is right now but she’s got fine curves so she must be yummy. What about African feminist queen Beyonce? I’ll have to mull her over on that one.”      

Secmeton endured several minutes of this torture before shaking his head solemnly. “I’ll never give in to your demands.”

“Do you think your decayed city is that valuable? I mean, come on! Look at it! It gives urban sprawl a good name!” Maya’s Ka jumps off its borrow and glides around the city, torching the masses of vagrants into a bonfire. “Never been to a camping trip but smores must taste delicious out in the open. Of course, you can duel me anytime you want to make the crispy cooking stop.”

“Never!” Secmeton rebukes her. “You can never make me sway from my principles!”

“You must have been a real fuddy-duddy when your son was a boy – and still had his head – as bad as Squidward I imagine.” Maya says. She makes an evil grin, more like a snarl, as she gets an idea. “Maybe I have it wrong. I should destroy other forms of sentient life. I’m thinking a few dolphins and whales may do the trick. I know the coral reefs are as good as right now but if I give it a shot -”

“Please! Not the dolphins!” Secmeton protests. “I’ll duel you as long as you stop killing the dolphins!”

“Deal!” Maya snaps her fingers and her Ka vanishes into black smoke. She takes off a small watertight metal backpack and pulls out the duel disk inside it. “Shall we?”

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 7 – Skirting Shangri-La

The meeting over, our family of three make their way back home, Maya cradling her son for the first time in over three years. “Perhaps our footprints will become fossils.” Yukio says to his heart. “And they will be preserved for millions of years after our bones crumble to dust, and another species will find them and see me and Maya for the first time after eons.” Such are Yukio’s thoughts as the family leaves the dirt road to enter a grassy plane, and all of a sudden the stars become very visible, as if many new stars are just being created.

Yukio tells Maya his thoughts. His partner replies, “I don’t think these celestial reptiles will be able to know anything about us. We don’t know what our so-called ‘prehistory’ was really like. We just assume nothing of substance happened since people didn’t farm and write when there could have been countless great artists, warriors, explorers, religious reformations, cultural movements, insert whatever stuff you want here. We, for all we’re worth, will be buried in the same darkness where we came from.”

“So everything we did, do, and will do will be forgotten. That’s depressing…” Yukio’s voice trails away in the gentle breeze.

“I don’t think so. It would be horrible if the universe never gets to wipe itself clean. Either way, we’ll have this conversation an infinity later, and again an infinity after that, and again an infinity after that. ”

“And you know this because?” Yukio questions Maya, not believing her. Little Narmer wriggles in Maya’s bosom when he sees a firefly near him, wanting to catch it, so Maya lets him down. Both parents watch their child run after the little insect as if he is a kitten chasing after a red dot, heading down to the beach.

Wait, there’s a beach? “Not on this part of the landing strip.” Yukio mutters, utterly confused. Narmer runs on the beach as he chases the firefly, grass on one side, the ocean on another, with Maya running after him, and Yukio running after them. Meanwhile, water rises from the ocean, conjuring the images of Maya’s and Yukio’s pasts, but the both of them are too busy chasing their child to notice. The shore seems endless to them until they realize they’ve been circling the same place many times, so Maya snatches Narmer. She can finally pay attention to the dancing waves.

The watery dancers form the first scene, Maya’s earliest memory; a small child about Narmer’s age splashes in running water in a bathtub. She calls on her mother to dry her but receives no answer, so she gets out of the tub herself, trailing a few small puddles of water with her. She finds her mother lying in bed, eyes staring upward into nothingness, a hand holding a small white pellet. The child does not understand the meaning of this. She finds the TV still on and watches some cartoons until her father arrives home from work.

Another scene appears; her father bears the bad news to the family that he lost his job as a biochemist of KaibaCorp, back when the company manufactured weapons of war. Her mother becomes almost comatose with depression, her father spending all his money to treat her, forcing the family to move into a project building on the Lower East Side. Her father starts raving against Jews despite being a Jew himself. The girl runs to her mother for protection, but her mother is lying in bed again with pills. The mother sighs, “I wish I never met your father. If only I did not become pregnant I could have still left him.”

Several years later, the girl beats up a classmate who annoys her and forces his head in a toilet. The girl is promptly sent to detention. She yells how school is worthless, how she wishes she has a job to learn how to make money instead of learning how the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. The teacher wags her finger at the girl, and the girl bites the finger until it bleeds. The girl comes home, expelled from school. Her mother screams how the girl is evil and worthless, tries to strike the child but her father defends her.

Both parents bitterly quarrel. Her father punishes her mother by putting her hands in boiling water and beats her. The girl tries to protect her mother from further blows but the mother pushes her to the floor, calling the girl a devil who ruins people’s lives. Years later, the girl’s mother jumps off the window, ending her life. Her father beats her, accusing her of being the cause of her mother’s death. The girl meets Jolene in school for the first time a day later, taking up the Yugioh card game. She is relieved her mother is finally dead but feels guilty about it.

“Yes, I was sent from Hell to punish my parents for their worthless shit lives.” Maya retorts to her reflection in the water. “I did it so well I became the devil in chief.”

Yukio sees a different performance from the waves; a boy weeps near a small piano as his tiger mother tries forcing him to practice The Little White Donkey for another hour. The boy swears never to touch the piano again. He picks up a guitar instead and learns to play rock music but his parents hate it. He will never be successful, his father derides him, not in business or medicine or law, only a dropout who plays music and does drugs.

And that’s what the boy does. He drops out from his parent’s expectations. He grows to be tall and thin, with a goatee and short messy hair. He starts dating Jolene in high school, who his parents do not like too much but tolerate. He does not do well enough to go to college so his parents kick him out to live in an apartment in Brooklyn. He fathers a child with Maya, so his parents disown him for good. It would be a torture, they say, to be forced to look at a dark grandchild.

Yukio shrugs at seeing the vision. “What can I say? I like ass and weed more than a boring office job.”

A powerful creature emerges from the water, a kind of machine armor in the form of a sea serpent, but with six wing-like arms and a screen for a torso. The screen buzzes from static into an image of a veiny crone’s face, except the face is missing eyes. The duel monster, Cœlestial Siren Clothon, points to the horizon of the beach, alerting Maya and Yukio to the curvature of the horizon. They are on a small planet. With a gesture of her arms, Clothon directs the water dancers to come together, the actors from each scene fusing to form copies of Maya and Yukio, then she shatters the sculptures into foam.    

The couple sits down to try to make sense of Clothon’s message, leaving Narmer to play between them. “If these bad memories are the things that make us who we are, then we are fundamentally bad.” Maya conjectures. “Our characters aren’t driven by traumas and resentments so much as created by them.”

Yukio, being the philosopher of the two, broadens Maya’s comments into a principle, as per habit. “Maybe that’s how living creatures are made, from our personalities to our talents to our worldviews. Hardship literally builds character, maybe because it forces it, makes it necessary, for a character to be made.”

“Then we really can’t escape it, no matter what we do.” Maya says as Narmer falls unto her lap. “Maybe this is what the Christians really mean by original sin or the Buddhists by Samsara. Insert whatever outdated religious comparison here.”

“Decadence is the price we pay for being self-aware creatures with spiritual drives.” Yukio concludes. Clothon takes the water from the sea and turns into a string of yarn, in this way spinning the thread of life, passing it to the next Cœlestial Siren, Lacheson. This new duel monster is of a larger thicker build, is yellow in design while Clothon is blue, and has the face of a younger woman but with the eyes missing. She weaves the thread and it’s defy skill, quickly turning it into a new planet while Clothon makes a rainbow bridge, inviting the family to cross it.

This new planet, the family observes as they land on it, is completely covered by shallow water save for a small island. The water flickers with images of their pasts and the pasts of an infinite number of people they do not know, all mixing with each other to the point Maya and Yukio become confused, unable to tell their history from anyone else’s.

Maya points to the many stars. “Look very far into the past and you’ll see the fourth wall.” She tells Yukio, who stares deep into the darkness. Yukio can’t see anything at first but then he gets it, suddenly; it actually hits him. He sees a flat plane or wall in the distance, a kind of radiation static from which the universe emerges as a hologram. And beyond the screen he sees beings of all kinds, some divine and others very mundane, walking to and fro as if they are on a busy sidewalk, some of them looking through the screen to see the universe for a while before passing on. This must be the fabled audience.

“Look on and you’ll see more.” Maya instructs him. Yukio looks even further and sees an endless kaleidoscope of flat screens, each one screen creating an infinite more beyond itself, even when they’re all compressed together into something less wide than an atom. And Yukio can even see through them, see their past, present, and future all at once like they’re open books.

Mathias and Sofia see Maya and Yukio from a distance and the four friends greet each other. They all wave at the audience, “Hello! Hope you enjoy the story so far!” And Sofia further adds, “I don’t think it’s very good though. Not enough card games.”

“You terrible liar!” Maya locks Sofia within her arms to give her the biggest noogie she has ever felt in her life.  “The Yugioh card game sucks. It’s the reason no one under 280 pounds takes us seriously.” Sofia tugs against Maya, much stronger than she looks, making both women fall into the water.

“I see you got Yukio and Sofia up to speed.” Mathias says to Maya, who is not in the most dignified position right now. He points to Lacheson, the duel monster hovering above them. “I hope this… weird thing didn’t bring us together to make a splashfic. I think that is the author’s job.”

“You mean Orochi, right?” Maya asks before pausing, dumbfounded upon realizing something. “There is an author beyond Orochi isn’t there, a person who writes this story like how J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books though less competently.”

Mathias nods. It is a small universe after all. The siren Lacheson points to the small island. Narmer sees all the little animals playing on the island. They are the friends in his dreams. He runs over to the island to play with them. “No, Narmer, be careful!” Maya runs to catch him but as soon as she leaves the water she collapses on the ground, crushed by her own weight. She struggles to get up, again and again, but fails each time. “I’m trying my hardest! Why am I not strong enough!” She gasps.

Yukio tries catching Narmer as well but also falls under his weight. “I don’t understand.” He broods over his failure. “I am ready to sacrifice everything for Narmer but this will is not strong enough? Why?”

Mathias also trips from his own weight. “Why will God not help me save this child!” he cries. “Am I too burdened by sin?”

“What sin could you possibly have committed?” Maya laughs at him. “You didn’t use a condom, did you?”

“This is coming from the mother of the year.” Mathias retorts.

Sofia runs after Narmer but also trips under her weight. She struggles to get up but to no avail until Maya gives her a little push. With this help, Sofia gets to the island though on her knees like a water creature crawling on land for the first time. She soon gets strong enough to defy gravity by standing on her feet again and joins Narmer and the little animals in their games.

Lacheson casts the remaining thread of the planet to the last Cœlestial Siren, Atropon, this one slim and red, bearing the face of a girl though without eyes, who tosses it on a small blue dot the way a sailor tosses an anchor into the sea. Everyone gasps; the blue dot is Earth itself! Then they see Yifan, very far away but with frightful power, tear the Earth in half with the anchor thread, with everyone who opposes her dangling helplessly. Yifan is so strong, space itself warps under her gravity until she becomes the center of a black hole. Atropon builds the last rainbow bridge, starting from the small island Sofia and Narmer are standing on and directing the bridge straight through the black hole!

The three Cœlestial Sirens gather in a circle, facing away from each other, holding all eighteen hands together, and spread out on their backs, not unlike how synchronized swimmers perform their art. Together, they ask me, the author. “Why?”

So I tell them. I somehow feel demeaned and unknown for my true worth, so I would like my characters, who are kind of like me, to be forever well-known and loved. My ideal would be if everyone knew the five main characters of this very scene as well as they know Achilles, Hamlet, Harry Potter, or Katniss Everdeen.   

The Sirens laugh at me, sympathy and ridicule mixed in their tone. “You aim too low.”   

Suddenly, Maya, Yukio, and Mathias find themselves back on the dirt road in Chile, Sofia back in New York, and Yifan back from wherever she is right now. They get up, grumbling, relieved to be back on Earth, with normal gravity, but annoyed at the dirt on their clothes. Maya quickly finds Narmer and picks him up as if afraid he is left behind with the black hole.

“I know this is a little late to ask, but are those are the main monster cards in your Deck?” Mathias questions Maya. “I’ve never seen them before.”

“I believe so.” Maya answers, disgusted “I can’t get over the idea of duel monster spirits or whatever you call them talking to me. It’s like I’m Jaden with Winged Kuriboh. Just, eww! It’s so lame!

“I believe the kids these days call it ‘fake and gay’.” Yukio quips.   

“Well, at least they didn’t talk to me in a horrible English dub voice.” Maya sighs in relief. “I guess there is a silver lining in every rain cloud.” Speaking of which, it does begin to rain, heavily, turning the dirt into mud and causing Narmer to shiver and cry. “Or maybe not.”

Maya, Yukio, and Mathias bid each other farewell, fleeing from the rain, ready to plan the assault on Secmeton’s fortress next week.

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 6 – Cuadros y Compañeros

Somewhere deep in the Chilean countryside, Yukio busily tends his small garden, taking his time to thoroughly reap his corn, avocados, and potatoes. Each of his crops is sorted in its own little rectangle of soil, the wooden borders painted white. Yukio shows as much care to his small brick house, the walls also painted a creamy white and the roof tiles painted a bright red. The inside, as Yukio inspects while he drinks a cool glass of water, is as well made with small homely furniture right where he left –

Yukio straightens the chairs around a small coffee table. Little Narmer must have crawled his way under the table to play there. And he’s still there! Yukio pretends he is a fearsome lion as he drags his son out from under the table to tickle him. “You dare hide from me! I’m gonna’ eat you!”

Little Narmer squirms and giggles as his father, noticing his son hiding something important from him, interrogates the child in mocking seriousness. “Did you steal my car keys?” Little Narmer shakes his head. “Are you sure?” The child shakes his head again but can barely stop himself from laughing. Yukio blows on his son’s belly and snatches the key from under the little rascal’s shirt. “Let’s to the village. We need to barter for supplies.”

Yukio takes his son out and unlocks his bicycle from the fence, then turns around, and there she is. “Maya!” Shocked, Yukio can barely say her name, an odd thing since the woman in the flowery dress before him hardly looks anything other than ordinary. Yukio almost shies away from touching her cheek, afraid she will vanish like the mist from the Andes mountains. Maya awkwardly places her arms on his shoulders, not knowing how to properly touch the man she did not see in three years and nine months.

Then the two lovers suddenly ignite into a bonfire. They make out lewdly in full force and crash on the small table inside the house in their embrace. Maya nearly crushes his waist by wrapping her legs around him while Yukio in turn gives her crests a few hickeys. Their ardent powers exhausted, the couple falls from fire back down to earth.

Yukio catches sight of his son, who went back to playing with his keys, from the corner of his eye. “Did we just have sex in front of our kid? Oh no…”

Maya gives him a warm sweet kiss and gently pushes him away with her legs. “He has a head start.” Finally, Maya does the proper thing and reintroduces herself to the child she did not see in three years. “Hi there. You must be Narmer. I’m Maya, your mother. You were a baby the last time I saw you.” She speaks to her son in the sweetest way she knows how.

Narmer takes out some toy trains and cars under the table and places them around his father’s keys. He offers a toy car to his mother. “For me? Why thank you!” Maya exclaims. Yukio joins in on the fun and all three play Narmer’s mysterious game together. Man and woman converse during this time, telling each other of their lives since they last met.

Yukio says in a dry manner, “I left New York about a year after the Momentum generators were installed. I figured this much displacement and unrest would finally bring forth the global third world revolution communists have wet dreams about. So I prepared for the worst and went to a village in said third world country. Meanwhile, I’ve been chillin’ in my garden and playing games with Narmer.”

Maya does some explaining of her own, hiding her somewhat guilty tone of voice as best she can. “I’ve been playing games too but with a more difficult opponent. Yifan could literally tear half the earth off the ground and leave every human being dangling in the air if she wanted to. But that would bore her. She’s such a threat to humanity and someone needs to challenge her, but she’s so strong. It’s like you’re Kratos trying to battle Zeus but with Zeus himself as the gatekeeper of all the game’s power ups and secrets. So what do you do?”

“You do things the Sith way.” Yukio answers her. “You become an apprentice to a master, learn the master’s secrets of the Dark Side, then kill her. I deduce that has been your modus operandi for the last three years. Also, I don’t know if you had to train with Yifan in the mountains or something like that, but pop culture as we know it is dead. You can’t exactly play bad video games or watch horrible prequel trilogies when you’re living in a tent.”

“Yeah, I guess.” Maya lays on Yukio’s shoulders. “Makes me wonder how pop culture would have gone otherwise. George Lucas may have made another trilogy but as a sequel. Yet by that time a bigger mass media company like Disney would probably have swallowed Lucas whole. Another Star Wars trilogy would be too big a cash cow to pass up and fans would be tired of Lucas by that point. Like imagine if Mickey Mouse went on a quest for world domination and bought out every entertainment business known to man: 20th Century Fox, Marvel, Lifetime, everyone. And then Mickey built a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Death Star to control everyone.”

“Now you’re being silly.” Yukio reprimands her. “Laser satellites are so 80s.” With that remark, Yukio gets up. He walks his family, now whole, to the nearby village, taking his corn with him. Maya takes Narmer with her by slinging him around her chest. The family manages to trade their corn for some batteries, toiletries, fruit, and canned beans, and by sunset are about to head home but Maya takes them to a large mud house at the edge of the village. She booked Yukio for an important meeting.

Yukio adjusts his eyes in the dark dirty room, seeing a small cadre of officers. He notices two familiar faces; one is of a large obese man with thick glasses, the other of a tall Irishman with a sturdy pot belly and a muscular build. “JC? I didn’t think you’d grow an afro. I mean a Che Guevara shirt is bad but an afro? Mathias? Did you honestly bring pizza for us?”

Jeffrey Cade, or JC as people call him, politely clasps hands with Yukio. “Never thought I’d see you in the henpecked husband role –  I can only imagine you two! – assuming you married.”

Mathias embraces Yukio and Maya both in a warm bear hug, nearly mushing them into one person. “You never go wrong with buffalo chicken, even in times like this!” Everyone groans but eats the pizza anyway, too happy with full stomachs to bother asking how Mathias got such food in the first place.

Dinner concluded, JC announces to the cadre, “Now that Maya brought her submissive to the gang, we can get down to business. I’m not talking about attacking Secmeton’s base yet. First, we need a cool name. I’m thinking the Wolf Pack but it needs more chile. Any ideas?”

And a flood of ideas come. “We can go classy. How about the Rat Pack?” Mathias suggests. “Or put Wolf and Rat together… Hmm… Wolf Fat Pack! Ra Wolf Pack!”

Yukio shakes his head. “Needs to be more, dare I say, punny. Get it! Rattata Pack!” And Yukio starts doing the tata dance.”

Maya gently punches her baby daddy on the chest. “Pokemon sucks and will always suck, even if it becomes an iPhone game. Star Airwolf Squadron! We can borrow from Pinochet and give our enemies a helicopter ride or two.”

“I can’t believe this!” JC bellows in disgust. “You plan to take down late stage capitalism in a third world revolution by beating people in a children’s card game but can’t even make a good team name! I’ll pick something good! Reservoir Chile Dogs!”

Maya loses her breath; she is that impressed. “That’s really good, but it gives away our location. – Ah, to hell with it. We’re not staying here. Our name reflects our origin story, like with superheroes.” She pulls out a large map from under the empty pizza boxes. “Now we gotta’ make a strat.

“One of the high mages, as you know, is a generous wealthy donor, hence where we got our boats. Intel from New York informs us the high mages are disputing guardianship of India and Russia. They think America is safe, but they’re wrong. We’ll blind side them by attacking Secmeton in Los Angeles from the sea. We launch our boats from Chile next week. The four of us,” She points to herself, Yukio, Mathias, and JC. “Lead the assault. We can disable Secmeton’s electric shield that stops all metal objects but only up close. We cool?”

Everyone nods except a female commander named Miguella. “What about the missile satellites?” She asks.

“We’ll have to split our fleet and attack Los Angeles from multiple angles.” Maya promptly answers. “Satellites take a while to lock on targets and fire missiles. It leaves us vulnerable to warships and fighter jets but a satellite blowing us all up is an instant knockout.”

Maya turns to you, the audience, in an aside, “I think my team name, Star Airwolf Squadron, is better. It has more of a social commentary thing going on. Humor has more quality when it is dark. Think about it. Do you really believe a pumpkin spice latte is equal to Turkish coffee?”

“Can you please stop talking to yourself!” JC yells at her.

“You were breaking the fourth wall, weren’t you?” Yukio says.

“She indeed was.” Agrees Mathias. To Maya, he says, “JC’s idea is better. Stop being a sore loser.”  

“You taught me and JC over the years on how to use spirit Ka in battle but not how to break the fourth wall. How come?” Yukio asks Mathias.

“Maya will have to teach you.” Mathias patiently explains to him. “You have a close enough relationship with her. Or you can get bumped in the head like I did, get buried under rubble for three days like Maya did, or nearly kill yourself as Yifan did.”

“Yifan never told me that. How do you know this about her?” Maya demands. “Are you in contact with her?”

Mathias confirms Maya’s suspicion. “I am. A rat as big as Yifan needs more than one link to the enemy team. What if one of us is compromised?”

Maya is not convinced. She presses on. “How do I know you’re not a mole?”

“How do I know you’re not a mole?” Mathias mirrors Maya’s suspicion back at her. “How do I know Narmer isn’t a mole? What is real? Am I a brain in a vat? Is God a giant rat like in South Park? Maybe the Earth is flat and the Moon landings are fake.”

Maya becomes exhausted. “Whatever. Enough.”

“Dada, I’m hungry.” Narmer moans, wiping his little eyes with tired hands. He huddles between his father’s legs for protection. Maya’s body surges in a hot flash of jealousy. It lasts for an instant but is enough time for Maya to pick up Narmer from the ground with great force. This frightens the child and he starts crying. Maya tightly cradles him to get him to stop but it does not work.  

JC decides it’s time to shut the book. “Meeting’s over. Goodbye. Adios. Sayonara. Proshchay. Marsinleat. Zaijian. Everyone, shoo!”

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 5 – Three Nights in New York


Yifan has always loved horses, even wanting a pony when she was a little girl, and today it is the only cliche she is willing to die for. And she still loves horses to this day, so much she owns a small park in the Chinese countryside just to be with the creatures. Yes, they are swift, bold, loyal, and steadfast, but also have great intelligence: an eye for subtle details in body language, are quick in learning, possess problem solving skills, and even form associations.

As Yifan often wistfully says to herself during moments of weakness and now says to you, “How humane, how rational, free of praying and being preyed on. What would it be like if horses ruled the world?”

Yifan is glad to be away from the world. She feeds her friends carrots, caresses their noble faces, kisses them, rides them when the day is not too cold and windy. If she can save anything while the planet burns, even if it means not saving herself, it would be this small herd. She even has a bunker with provisions just for the horses. Perhaps in a different day and age she is not a monster.

Speaking of which, her phone rings, the caller none other than her girlfriend Pegasus. She picks up the phone and instantly hears his anxious voice. “Who goofed now?”

Indeed, the world blazed outside over the past three nights ever since Maya shut down New York, taking the Wall Street stock exchange with her. Yifan herself took a hit, obviously, as she had to fire the domestic staff in her country house but she withdrew many assets and converted a chunk of her savings to cash and stocks of food, clothes, and weapons sparing herself as best as she could from the worst blows.  

Today, Yifan gets to see more inconveniences as already a few migrants from Beijing start camping on the fringes of her park. She can almost smell the filth of those vile people. And China’s airport shut down but using a private jet would be trite. Why not stretch her wings a bit?

Yifan sits down and meditates for about an hour, building her power, squeezing it into her center until a kind of thermonuclear fusion occurs and a star of energy is born. Yifan grows in size, her skin blackens into obsidian scales, her shoulder blades grow into wings, coarse black hair covers her body, her face stretches into the snouted face of a great bat; she transforms into her very Ka spirit. The dragon takes to the cold air and within a small moment breaks multiple times past the speed of sound, easily surpassing the SR-71 Blackbird several times over.

Yifan lands on Slide Mountain in upstate New York within less than half an hour, reverts almost back to normal, saving a little Ka left to dash down the mountain and woods to West Shokan. There, she meets a black limousine attended to by a driver. The man sees one of his employers and raises an eyebrow beneath his thick sunglasses. “How’d you get here so fast? I was wonderin’ why ya had me drive to the middle of nowhere.”

Yifan bluntly tells him the truth. “I can use the Yugioh equivalent of chi to transform into a dragon.”

The driver snubs Yifan for her joke. “And I have health insurance!”

“Lame.” Yifan says as she gets in the car. The driver chauffeurs her through miles of tent cities filled with poor and once middle class people who fled the large towns and cities over the course of three years. She briefly locks eyes with a hoary wraith of a man roasting a squirrel by a small campfire, his clothes too big for his starving body. His large intense eyes briefly flicker with hatred.  And over there, as the chauffeur passes through one of the many dense new slums surrounding the city, a caravan of new migrants who clinged on to their wealth until Maya made them lose everything.

Next, New York itself, city of dead dreams. It is so different than in used to be, so quiet, dark, and empty; no lights at Times Square, hedges outgrown and uncared for, no blinking traffic lights, no traffic of any kind, every small store shattered and pillaged. Was that dried blood and a dead body? Huh. Maya could leave a bigger mess.

“Ya know,” the driver muses, “I mean, for the sake of argument, wouldn’t every military base detect ya when, ya know, ya flyin’ around and stuff.”

“I project a shield that blocks detection from any machine.” Yifan answers graciously.

The car reaches a small part of the city still alive, now gated by a small squad of guards and robots running on backup power, stopping by a KaibaCorp building. The driver bids Yifan farewell. “Tell the other bosses I said hi, will ya?”

Yifan nods and gives him a generous tip for his trouble. She enters the skyscraper not to climb to an office at the top but to descend to a large basement at the bottom. Pegasus, Kepura, Martis are there, slouching in a room that is almost completely dark. Yifan sees Kaiba working furiously at three large computers, the only source of light in the room, with Jolene and Sofia as his aids in hacking.

Yifan clears her throat, alerting everyone to her presence since she slipped in the room too quietly to be heard. “Max says hi to everyone.”

“Who on earth is Max?” Kepura asks, annoyed.

“One of our chauffeurs.” Pegasus reminds him.

Kepura snaps his fingers. “Oh, that’s right! I remember! Forgive me; I sometimes forget employees have names.”

Kaiba ignores Yifan, too busy working to revert the blackout, Jolene and Sofia doing the same. Yifan notices the two young women hurting and aching, their bodies covered in bandages. Yifan wonders why Momentum did not blow up the whole tristate area and Kaiba, as if answering her personally, addresses everyone, “Maya and whatever gophers she has under her command could only disrupt Momentum’s ability to supply electricity but Momentum itself is powered by the Millennium Items.”

And so, as logic dictates, Momentum is safe. Kaiba’s tone is confident, meaning he must be close to solving New York’s blackout problem. Within an hour – voila! – all lights in the downtown area return, almost blinding everyone in the room.

But Kaiba is not done yet. He turns to Kepura with a scowl. “You had one job, Kepura, one job: maintain the tristate area, which means guarding it, and you failed miserably. If you were my employee I would not only fire you I would rehire you just to fire you again and I would rehire you again to fire you again one hundred more times!”

Kepura clenches his aching forehead. “Look, I guard a Momentum generator and I have another job running the United States Army. I’m as overworked as an unpaid college intern. Cut me a break and take some laxative for once.”

“It’s your responsibility and your failure.” Kaiba grunts in disgust.

With that business out of the way, Pegasus proceeds to a new issue on the agenda. He produces a floppy disk from his red coat. The surviving police found this on the body of their chief. Perhaps you can play it for us. “Perhaps you can help us play it, Kaiba boy.”

“A floppy disk!” Kaiba flusters. “Who in this day and age still uses a floppy disk!? I can’t play this! None of the computers has a port for it!”

Yifan almost chokes on her own laughter. She cannot believe Maya can be this funny. “Are you telling me that you, in a room with quantum supercomputers powered by a virtual perpetual motion machine, can’t play a floppy disk?”

“Yes.” Kaiba says in a deadpan manner. He calls some security personnel and orders them to get an older computer. The guards leave and come back moments later with a big clunky box of plastic and metal, a Windows 98. He sets up the clumsy machine and puts the floppy disk in it.

Maya appears on screen, sitting behind what looks like the desk of a CEO, and behind her lie two densely packed storyboards. Maya herself is immaculate, wearing a thin black business suit and a tight black skirt with a light green shirt underneath, her only jewel a small gold necklace. Her hair is fully permed, letting her thick locks shine at their most lustrous. She might as well be the CEO of a company.   

She gives the real exposition of the story. “Having it all was one of my dreams. I became a millionaire by becoming World Champion of a children’s card game. I even had a husband and a child. If I wanted to, I could have invested the prize money and created a business.” She lights up a hundred dollar bill, uses it to light a cigar, and inhales deeply, reclining into her chair. She puts her black high heels on the desk and slowly breathes out the smoke through her mouth and nostrils, looking like a raksha or a dragon.   

“But I didn’t. I gave my money away and dropped off the grid for three years. Now I’m back and I need your help. I address you, mankind; your species, homo sapiens; all of you who have lived, are alive today, and will live. This is your last chance to avoid your doom. What is the threat? It is not so much the vastly wealthy masters of mankind, though they are a pretty big deal, but your very nature, your hubris.”

She points to the two storyboards behind her. “You have two doors ahead of you, one on the left and one on the right. You think one of the doors is where Momentum will lead us to a prosperous future if only big bad business is replaced with an equal just society and we save the environment. But it doesn’t matter which door you choose. It will lead to the end of our species.

Maya delivers the full salvo. “One future is our violent extinction. Momentum may give us near unlimited energy but the gifts of the earth are finite as ever. We will run out of raw materials and, when we do, every developed society, now utterly interconnected and dependent on each other, will collapse over time. As we head towards disaster, Momentum creates a growing ‘satellite’ class of slum-dwellers while fewer people hoard all the gains and use robots as slaves. But one day, when the earth is all used up, the high priests of this world will have nothing to stand against billions of starving people.

“The other future is our quiet extinction. Artificial intelligence will one day surpass us and slowly we will be assimilated into a Momentum Internet of machines. We may become cyborgs at first but we’ll become more and more machine over time until we gently go into the night. The nerds I bullied in high school of course got everything wrong when creating Momentum and the new machines you see around you. The only way we human beings can progress is not through better technology or an expanding market. It is through creative achievement.

She pulls out an old duel disk from under her desk. “As long we serve machines and money instead of machines and money serving us we will never work for our best interests. I became National Champion with this old machine serving me as a powerful weapon. I call on it once more to be my sword for one last battle. The only way to defeat the hierophants of this world is to defeat them in a shadow game as the Millennium Items power their Momentum generators. Nothing else will work. I guarantee it.

“I will destroy the high mages, knocking off one miter after another, but I can’t do it alone. Join me. Let all of us from every dispossessed slum, village, city, and bunker do this together. We can end this nightmare.” For her final assault Maya tears down the two storyboards behind her, revealing an open door streaming with sunlight. “Let’s find the third door. We must if we are going to survive and prosper. All the cards are in your hand. We can win if only you have the courage to play them. I’ll be waiting for you. We will meet again.”

The screen dissolves to static. Kaiba turns off the computer. “I don’t buy anything she said for a moment. How can anyone predict the future with such detail? She’s selling something and, as the king of a commercial empire, I know more than anyone else there is an ulterior motive behind the sales pitch. We must deduce what she’s really planning and rat her out.”

“She must be busy spreading the word.” Martis speaks up for the first time, his voice quiet and monotone as always. “The most disaffected communities are those in the so-called third world.”

Kepura picks up the logic and takes it to its conclusion. “We must devise a strategy. I suggest we aid Anubisius control the Middle East as Maya will most likely strike there. Also be prepared for the possibility of her hiding in Russia or India. It is between Anubisius’ territory and Yifan’s so control of the area is in dispute.”

Kaiba sets his eyes on Yifan’s, acknowledging her presence for the first time. Piercing deep blue eyes meet gentle dark brown ones. Kaiba can’t read her so he asks for her opinion.

And Yifan provides it. “Maya made an effective propaganda film. She constrains the viewer to see only two outcomes in a tiresome situation; both of them lead to ultimate doom. Damnation seems inevitable until she shows the way to salvation if only you, as evangelists say, open your heart and walk with her. If you accept her claims she gives you an ultimatum you can’t refuse. As for her dueling, I say it’s impressive but ultimately subpar. She will need stronger stuff than Archfiends if she hopes to defeat any of us.”

Kaiba scowls at Yifan, instantly made suspicious. Yifan is talking about Maya as if she is her mother or her after school teacher. Are they in it together? But if they are, how?

Pegasus decides to diffuse the tension. “By the way, Yifan, how did you get here so fast and why are you dressed like a jockey? Is it avante garde fashion? I think it’s absolutely dreadful.”

“I can fly.” Yifan says.

“And Donald Trump is president of the United States.” Kaiba snorts.

“That’s a really lame joke.” Squeaks Mokuba Kaiba, Seto Kaiba’s little brother, always following his big brother’s heels like a small dog.

“Shut up, Mokuba.” Kaiba grunts, and everyone has a good laugh.