Yugioh Endgame – Duel 24: Blitzschach

The high mage Anubisius does not sleep but prepares for war for the enemy is coming. He summons his servants to have his war suit ready, and so they equip their master with armor and weapons fit for his tall muscular body. The servants wrap him in a special bullet-proof nanofiber that resembles the white linen for wrapping mummies, green armored plates, and a thick shell to protect his entire back that also functioned as a backpack for storing weapons.

For the final touch, Anubisius dons a jackal mask, now transformed from man to god. What is a god but a man who has thoroughly mastered the natural and human worlds? Mere mortals still trapped in their bipartite reality struggle for survival with the fittest prospering and the weak perishing. The god rules this world as his dominion, an animal so strong it transcended such a kingdom by having no competition.     

With these thoughts, Anubisius grips his Millennium Key so tightly his knuckles pop. “Let the rats and dogs of the animal kingdom come.” He proudly declares. “The battle begins.”

Meanwhile, among the army of Egyptian soldiers and Ghoul criminals, Maya abruptly changes plans. She will take out Anubisius’s army first, burning herself out, then Mathias and Yukio will take over when drones and other reinforcements arrive. Once they burn out, the army can more easily secure the place and trap Anubisius. If the reinforcements arrive early, Maya will need to call her supernatural backup early.

Maya, realizing the trap her enemies prepared for her at the very last moment, tells Hassan, Mathias, and Yukio of the sudden change of plans. They argue with her that dreams are too uncertain a message. “You are as capricious as a tyrant!” Hassan scorns her. “No better than my father!”

Disappointed and worried, Maya brushes off this attack and stalks to a place by herself to meditate for ten minutes, fusing into her Ka, building up in explosive fire until she becomes a dormant volcano soon to erupt from millennia of slumber. If she cannot persuade her comrades to her strategy, she will force them to battle on her terms lest everyone fall into the trap and be destroyed, and – snap! – six blazing wings erupt from her back, two long horns crest her head, her eyes become the color of the dawn sun, and she brandishes a flaming sword. 

She leaps into battle, mowing down the lawn of poppies into a fiery channel. The first group of soldiers wonder if the rising sun is brighter than usual but night falls on them right afterwards. The other soldiers shriek as if they see Satan himself and desperately fire round after round at the wall of fire, all in vain. The bullets miss the lioness entirely or vaporize from the heat surrounding her. Only one bullet makes it, but it harmlessly embeds in her chest vest.

The drones soon arrive to drop missiles at their target, one almost hitting Maya. She dodges to safety at the last moment but the ricochet from the explosion propels her backwards, and she twists in the air, landing on all fours like a cat does lest she break her neck by falling face first. Then she completely commits to the air, forced to deal with more dangerous opponents. 

“What in the Lake of Cocytus is she doing?” Mathias cries in dismay.

Yukio curses in frustration. “I don’t know, but we must help her!” His bond to the mother of his child overrides his reason, and so he uses the same technique Maya did to partially merge into his Ka, No. 39: Utopia in a few minutes. A bewildered Mathias has no choice but to follow him, somewhat merging with own Ka, Horus the Black Flame Dragon LV8.   

Hassan recognizes the situation they are in. The ground attack must not cease and battle must resume immediately. He summons the army of Egyptian soldiers and Ghouls, and they rush to battle. The ground fight is a stalemate of equal bloodshed at first but the scales slowly tip in Hassan’s favor. Yukio and Mathias take to the air to aid Maya in the aerial battle, for she is vastly outnumbered by several hundred drones. 

Whizzing about the sky blooded red from the early sunrise, the three flying warriors seem to flit in and out of existence from one point to another without any moment in between, puncturing one drone after another, like a hive of wasps warding off a rival tribe. With the drones overcome, it is now time to capture Anubisius, duel him, and win his Millennium Item. Time is running out, since the warriors’ halfway form can be sustained for at most fifteen minutes.

Mathias, Maya, and Yukio sunder the roof of Anubisius’s mansion like a crashing meteor, exposing their leader. The terrified Anubisius feels as if stripped naked despite his powerful armor. He fires his automatic guns at them only for the bullets singe to ash from the warriors’ magic aura of fire. He throws several grenades at them but to no avail. Mathias bats one grenade away. Yukio dodges the other grenade, and it kills several of Anubisius’s men on the plantation field below through friendly fire. Maya kicks the last grenade back to him like it is a deadly hacky sack, blowing Anubisius away.

The high mage is reduced to crawling in front of a large chair. Had he not worn armor, the grenade would have killed him. He brandishes the Millennium Key in a last effort to defend himself. Commanding its ancient magic, he attempts to separate the Ka of his assailants from their bodies. The warriors concentrate hard to resist the separation through sheer force of will, but they succeed though with exceeding difficulty, since pulling out a Ka half fused with the Ba is like separating sublime love from carnal desire.   

Mathias, Maya, and Yukio pause to catch their breath, sweat dripping from their foreheads. Maya, being the most greedy for victory and eager to destroy another Millennium Item, whips her flaming sword at Anubisius. The latter considers hiding in a foxhole leading to a vast secret chamber below the plantation doubling as a Momentum Generator.

“Um…” Anubisius formulates a half coherent thought for the approaching Maya. “I’m just gonna let you do your firebending nonsense while I take a vacation and – Look! A dragon!” He points to the sky.

Maya nears Anubisius, intending to cut his fingers off one by one until he duels her. “I’m not falling for that.”

“No, for realsies!” Anubisius pleads, his claim as sincere as his desire to live.  

The man is right. A mighty white dragon with six wings and the power to rival the gods, as bright as the sun in mid day, assaults the three warriors, battering them hundreds of feet in the air. Maria has come to the rescue, her Ka and Ba completely fused as one. With a single shout, Maria decimates Hassan’s army with a terrifying burst stream of destruction. Hassan and a handful of soldiers are miraculously saved by Mathias, who conjures a magical silver shield of dragonhide to protect his comrades at the last moment.

Hassan praises Allah, kissing the ground as he does so, but Mathias falls to the ground all winded out. The cost of defense was too high. The great Blue-Eyes White Dragon prepares for another attack, but Yukio rushes up to her in the air, aiming his blade for the heart. He hopes the medieval fable of a dragon’s weakness being the heart is true, but he never gets to find out since the white dragon bats him away with her wings. The white dragon then prepares for another attack.

A new dragon appears from nowhere, a chimera with the scales of ancient reptiles, the plumage of exotic birds, the gaudy fur of the great cats, and the long face of the apes, another six-winged divine beast with the brilliance of a star. This dragon hits the white dragon in the dead center of her chest with a golden breath of electromagnetic plasma, throwing the white dragon into the horizon and atomizing Anubisius’s mansion in the way.  

The dragon of variegated colors pounces after its rival without a millisecond of rest. The dragons clash in the orange and pink vault above, or do they dance like the wandering stars beyond the planets? They lock burst streams for a moment until their energies violently inflate into a devastating wave that blinds the sun and shatters the earth. All these events take just over a minute. 

Had Maya entered fresh into battle as a dragon she would have lasted a few minutes. But now, already fatigued from warring beforehand, she pushed far past her limit. The feathered dragon collapses on the ground, once more becoming Maya, her naked body gashed, scratched, battered, burned, and bruised.

Yukio rushes to help her up, Hassan following. Mathias briefly ponders, on seeing Maya’s body, if Eve and Serpent were truly one and the same, but the white dragon looming above shatters his reveries. A Ghoul gets a rude idea in his head; he touches Maya’s inner thigh under the pretext of helping her get up. He plans to stealthily grab Maya by the groin when no one is looking, but the pious Hassan, incensed by such outrageous conduct, shoots the Ghoul in the face, ending the lecherous fool’s life.

The white dragon dishes its final onslaught. Yukio conjures a shield of his own, what looks like a white technological marvel from the distant future, and joins Mathias in combat. The two warriors unite into one defense, planted to the ground as a great oak, and together they disperse the white dragon’s lightning torrent. The exhausted beast retreats, flying away to fight another day, vanishing from sight within a second.

Maya, breathing heavily, asks in a hoarse voice, “Where is Anubisius?”

“He most likely ran away.” Hassan answered.

“That cretin!” Maya raves, frothing at the mouth. Smoke might as well billow from her nostrils. “I’ll send that fool back to Fortnite!”

“You’re not even wearing pants.” Mathias teases her.


“I need to destroy that goddamn coward.” Maya insists.

“You need a band-aid and a nappy.” Yukio retorts in good humor. He detaches a small magnetic backpack that miraculously stuck to Maya’s back this whole time. He finds a duel disk inside as well as a small touch-screen device, a device whose function he does not understand, so he decides to ask Maya about it later. Yukio bandages Maya and swaddles her in a blanket while Mathias carries her. 

Two men, one of Hassan’s soldiers and a Ghoul, drags a cowering and shaking enemy soldier before their leaders. “Well, well, look what the cat dragged in.” The Ghouls sneers, thinking himself rather sardonic and clever.

“Wait, how can the cat drag anything in?” The soldier interjects. “There is no ‘in’ out here.”

“Who cares!” The Ghoul draws a dagger to the cowering man’s throat. “Where’s your boss? Your capo with the goofy name? Answer now or I’ll slaughter you like you’re a chicken!”

The man, though shaking, refuses to answer but instead boasts he would gladly die than tell. Yukio orders the Ghoul to stop. He promises the enemy that he would not kill but keep him captive as a prisoner though with reasonable accommodations. He is not a cruel man. “But if you tell me your master’s location, I will let you go. I swear by my blood.” The enemy spills the beans and Yukio releases him, true to his word.

Meanwhile, Anubisius consolidates himself in the secret chamber beneath what used to be his mansion. He really hopes no one finds him. Getting caught in a foxhole is so 2003. Just embarrassing. Next thing he knows, Yukio barges in, making him jump with a start.

“Yo, waddup.” Yukio greets him. “Get ready for the Shadow Realm, big guy.”

Yugioh Endgame – Duel 23: 4.5D Chess

Little Narmer runs to his mother who still sleeps under the green light of dawn. “Mommy! Mommy! Wake up!” He calls, but his mother might as well be a rock. He nudges her, pushes her, jumps on her back, but the mother slumbers. “Mommy, I’m hungry!” He demands, but he gets nothing. He jumps on her again. She remains a stone. He jumps on his mother once more, but she loses no beauty sleep. 

He slams into Maya, who in her dream sees everything happening to her from above, and she wakes up. She expects to see her child by her side and her husband in the living room, but instead topples through the air to meet the harsh yellow light and arid sand of the desert. She sees a sphinx, which barely surpasses her height by sitting on a granite slab, but the beast appears colossal, and its head has the silky black hair, pale skin, and narrow dark brown eyes that can only belong to Yifan.

Maya notices for the first time a legion of men draped in black robes and cowles like the Ghouls, each man waiting his turn in line before admission to the sphinx’s presence. The sphinx poses no riddle but each wise man rattles on and on in monologue for days, weeks, years. His beard turns grey, his eyes get dull and misty, his body shrivels like an old grape, becoming smaller and smaller until he vanishes. The next man meets the same fate, as does the man after that, and the man after that, but the sphinx files her nails in boredom. 

Maya recalls reading book after book on philosophy, politics, and literature during high school and college, determined not only to find some answers, to find things to believe in, but also to beat the white man at his own game. Well, it seems the old men are playing themselves. The sphinx gives Maya the side eye as if Yifan is asking her if everything she has done was a waste of time. 

Maya ignores the creature and sets out in the desert alone only to realize she is on a planet made of shattered glass. She meets someone else in this desert, a tall man with broad shoulders and stern countenance garbed in his trademark white trench coat. It is Kaiba, but Maya sees the fractured reflections of Sofia’s face in the shattered glass everywhere. 

They duel instantly and, as soon as they do, the sun transforms into a satellite, which then expands in a crystalline dome enveloping the entire world. Maya executes a strategy, but it fails miserably, like Kaiba knows exactly what she is doing, what she is thinking. Maya wonders why in frustration until she sees the cards in her hand reflected off the dome. 

Maya throws the duel disk at the dome, shattering it, and the crystalline shards fall on her like solid rain. She fears she will die but then wakes up, seeing her son by her side. Maya hugs and kisses him like she has not seen him for years, and she goes to the kitchen to make pancakes with her husband, but everything vanishes as a mirage in the desert, and she encounters Yifan as the sphinx once more.

Maya startles, noticing she is deep in the ocean inside the small submarine she used to escort Sofia half round the world and back. Where’s Sofia? She might as well wear a red and white shirt because she is nowhere to be found. Maya does not even know why she is ten leagues beneath the sea in the first place. What country would she go to? North America? She is the most wanted terrorist. Europe? Same. Africa? Looking at the same place over and over again never finds what is lost. Asia? Yifan rules the land with an iron fist in a leather glove, and she would probably screw with Maya in the real world as well as in dreams.

Maya gives up, returning to Egypt. She meets Hassan, also meets Yukio who brought Mathias along. Narmer is understandably not there but Maya still feels like there is a whole in her chest. They discuss a strategy to take out Anubisius, the next high mage with a Millennium Item. Their plan is to secretly send a small task force to Anubisius’ poppy plantation and raid it. Maya, Yukio, and Mathias only use their Ka after Anubisius sends reinforcements to do maximum damage with the few precious minutes they have to exert such great magical power. Then everyone is dismissed. 

Maya returns to the Ghouls hideout to sit on her throne as their new leader. Maya adjusts herself many times in discomfort, her butt hurting more than after Yukio gets kinky with her. How did Malik sit on this thing? Pandora, now the underboss, and several goombas give Maya their obesciences. “What shall be your bidding master…” Pandora stops, having no idea how to address his new superior. “Master Maya? Miss Maya? Mistress of All Evil? Your Malignancy?”

“Please stop.” Maya groans.

Pandora gets sillier. “Darth Maladicta? Satine the Satanic? Empress of Eternal Darkness? Stalina the Sinister? Ghoul Goddess? Shadow Game Sorceress? Duchess Dunkelheit?”

Maya settles on a name. “‘Miss Maya’ should be fine.”

“That hardly sounds evil or threatening.” Pandora objects. “You sound like a schoolteacher who has to watch over petulant children.”

“That’s exactly how I feel.” Maya puts it bluntly. “And I will show you how much fear I can put in two innocent little words.”  

With that in mind, Maya gathers her Ka as if itching for a fight and summons every Ghoul to the main hall of their hideout. She explains to them Hassan’s plan. “I need you to fight an army and burn a poppy plantation to the ground. My friend, Hassan Mubarak, needs you to supplement his army, but he must see which thieves and prostitutes among you have the fortitude to even begin training, so you’ll begin tryouts at his place first.”

“Ooh! I love tryouts!” Adam squeals in delight, jumping up like a puppy. “Give me a G! Give me an H! Give me a – ”

“Pandora, kill him.” Maya quickly orders. When Pandora fails to obey, Maya pulls out a small but lethal gun and fires a bullet into Adam’s head. The Ghouls watch in stunned horror as the body of their comrade falls to the ground and his life instantly disappears. Maya brandishes a butterfly dagger at Pandora, causing the underboss to squeak in a panic. “Disobey me again and Adam will ruin your afterlife forever.”

Clarence manages to speak up despite being terrified. “You know, Malik would brainwash us before killing us, and he never sent us to fight actual wars either. Evil masterminds monologue first and make convoluted plans later. You’re being too straightforward. Very unprofessional.”

“Let’s try this again. Pandora, kill him.” Maya orders. Pandora instantly draws his own gun and ends Clarence’s life. The Ghouls are so stiff with fear they might as well be statues. 

Maya smirks with amusement and gives them comforting words in a sardonic tone. “Listen, you must simply obey me. I don’t want your love, admiration, or even respect. This is not the mafia. There are no blood ties here. Only my will exists. There is no way but my way.”

Three Ghouls point their guns at Maya. “We don’t have to listen to you.” They declare, firing their weapons. Maya easily catches each bullet between her fingers, astounding the would-be killers.

Maya pops her fingers, one by one, at a leisurely place. “Force lightning Akhenaten style.” She then leans forward as if about to say something grave and important. “Boo.” The Ghouls cower back in fear. 

“Was that really necessary?” Pandora timidly asks. “I mean, you have a gun.”

“I overdid it, didn’t I?”

“If I may say so, yes. And, honestly, I can tell you’re new to the whole evil mastermind thing. I get the feeling you’re desperately winging it to establish your authority.”

“You are correct.” Maya admits with a certain innocent candor. 

She reaches for an iPhone. “I believe you guys use your own underground Internet called the ‘Dark Cloud.’ Correct?” The Ghouls quickly nod. “Pandora, what’s the WiFi password around here?” She receives the password, muttering while carefully typing it. “Password… One… Two… Three…” A moment later, and all is set. “You now have the coordinates to Hassan’s location. Be there tomorrow at nine before noon. No excuses for being late.”

“Um, I accidentally left my phone at home.” One of the Ghouls says in a sheepish tone.

“Then share with a friend.”

“Can I go to the bathroom?” Another Ghoul asks.

“Not until I dismiss you.”

“But Miss Maya, I really gotta go.” He whines.

“You will literally become a soldier tomorrow. Get some discipline.”

Before Maya takes her leave, she says, “Pandora will be your substitute teacher while I’m gone. If any of you misbehave, he will tell me and I will deal with you personally. And you,” She points to a Ghoul shivering near the pile of ashes that was once his comrade. “Get a broom and put your friend in a ceramic pot. At least give him a decent burial.”

The next day, Hassan arrives with his army to put the Ghouls through boot camp. Though the Ghouls are clearly no strangers to violence and subterfuge they lack proper military training and discipline, and it is up to Hassan to put them through a crash course to set them reasonably straight. 

Maya oversees the training just in case Hassan’s army teaches a Ghoul a technique that can be used against her, but she teaches no one her black arts. She uses the time to reflect on the dream she had, puzzling its meaning. Yifan taught her how to reach people through dreams and Maya taught it to Sofia in turn. The strengths of dreams are the ability to travel to different worlds and communicate to people in a way that cannot easily be detected. However, the communication itself is vague at best.

Yifan and Sofia were trying to tell Maya something, but what? Maya dismisses Yifan’s boastful message as a pretentious taunt, at least for now. Sofia is a different matter. Why did she disguise herself as Kaiba? Would Kaiba use his space station to somehow see through Maya’s tactics when they dueled? It doesn’t make sense. Maya would sing something to be a cheerleader of sorts, but she concludes that this chapter fills enough pages as it is. 

A month of intensive training passes. Maya spars with Yukio and Mathias several times and spends her free time looking for Sofia in vain. The leaders gather their forces and march for days through the Middle Eastern desserts at night, camping near Anubisius’s plantation.

A Ghoul lights a cigarette and comments, “Blood and opium, huh. Such is life. Such is death.” The man behind the cowl must have been an arts major before turning to crime. His comment has the trappings of philosophy but not its substance.

Mathias, Yukio, and Maya huddle together on the eve of battle. Mathias and Yukio have been talking to each other for a while and Mathias decides to speak to Maya first. “Your decision to lead the Ghouls was disturbing on many levels. I know we need reinforcements for our revolution but why not train the displaced people living in tent cities?”

Maya answers, “The Ghouls are a ready supply that needed little training. They also provide many resources since they are an international crime syndicate. There is no room for a clean conscience in a war this big. This is not a crusade. It is impossible to be a good soldier and a good Christian.”

Mathias refutes her. “I disagree. You say you’re pragmatic but it’s really about convenience and power. The means justify the ends. There is no point in fighting for freedom and the planet when you betray your very principles by letting criminals run amok. The Ghouls will make the world a less safe and less free place to live. Even in times of darkness, one can be a good Christian.”

Maya counterargues, “The alternative, possible human extinction while a handful of despots govern a burning planet, is much worse. The Ghouls will at most do childish antics like raping and murdering some people. I will deal with that problem later. When the war is won, I will make the Ghouls disappear. The new world is not for me or them. I will be the bad guy to make the dream of countless people come true. Those are the sacrifices I’m willing to make.”

Mathias shakes his head, clutching his glowing pendant. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve lived for over a century thanks to my philosopher’s stone, and I’ve seen countless men fall to darkness in this way. They thought they could separate themselves from their dark deeds but they became their dark deeds. Man cannot defeat his sinful nature.”

Yukio holds Maya’s hands. “Heed his warning. Also, be careful with Sofia. You went out of your way to save her a few chapters back. People now know she is your weak spot, and they will exploit it. I wish you treated our child with as much love.”

Maya pushes Yukio away. “How dare you say that! I would die for Narmer!”

Now the army sleeps as much as it can, for it will attack before dawn. Maya, with her eyes closed, suddenly understands her dream. Kaiba and Anubisius know of Maya’s tactic. She is stepping into their trap. “Oh…” She says flatly. “Oh… Shrink-and-an-Enemy-Controller.”

Yugioh Endgame – Duel 22: Dark Clouds in the Sky, Christmas in July

Skipping while I tweet.
Anakin hates sand.
No snow on the street.
Start a cool rock band.

Not a single sound.
New York is real bright.
Eerie all around.
Gentrified and tight.

Blah blah blah! Blah blah blah!
How does this song go?

I’ve heard it all day and night.
On the radio.

Sofia sings in cheerful tone, making up the words as she goes along. This causes Jolene to giggle, confused but entertained anyway. “Sofia, it’s July. It’s not Christmas.”

“Yes it is, over…” Sofia pauses. It is Christmas at the time this chapter is posted, but the sun right now scorches the world Sofia lives in. She trails away, “Over there…”

Sofia feels a small itching resentment towards Jolene for ruining her small moment of fun, wanting nothing more than to forget her humiliation at the Ghouls for kidnapping her and dispatching her in a duel. Worse, she now as to work with those same people. 

Speaking of work, they have to see the high mage Martis himself at the Freedom Tower. The two women report to his office shortly thereafter. Jolene, the artist of the two, notices how Martis’s office is cluttered with modernist furniture, the extreme contrasts in color and design hurting her sensitive eyes. Sofia, the awakening apprentice, smells a certain anxiousness from the high mage, something suggesting a hollow heart trying in vain to fill itself.

“You girls are late.” He sternly rebukes them. “Your computing skills are needed more than ever to protect us yet you go to Starbucks or Sephora or wherever. We’re taking my jet. Mr. Kaiba is setting a plan in motion.”

Jolene gets triggered from such comments but knows better than to argue with Martis about misogynistic stereotypes. Sofia appreciates the remarks. The more her enemies think her frivolous the better she can subvert them. Martis summons his bodyguards to escort them to the jet and soon everyone is thousands of feet in the air.

“We used to have a rock band.” Jolene recalls. “Yukio made it up and we would sometimes play in a bar to raise money, way back when were just Team Dark Duelists. The band had a bad name, but Yukio was always thinking of changing it.”

“What was it called?” Sofia asks with respectful curiosity. 

“Blood Velvet.”

“Yeah, it does need to be changed.”

So Jolene and Sofia spent the time coming up with a better band name, something dark, something edgy, something mystical, a counterculture icon. Magic Spiral? No, too bland. How about Mystick Spiral? – With a “c” and “k”! – No, they’ll get sued. Why not Blood Spiral? Enough with the spirals already! Dizzy Lizzy? Jolene claims Sofia’s suggestion as a stage name but gives it back to her. Sofia has the dark looks to pull off the “Lizard King satire” better. Strange Plays? Not striking enough, and not everyone is nostalgic over 90s video games anyway.

Jolene and Sofia never settle on a new band name. Before they know it, they are off in a helicopter to a rocky island shore. They see a pole in the distance so tall it went past the sky. Later they recognize it to be a sky elevator. No way! It is the KaibaCorp space station!

Martis escorts Jolene and Sofia once they land to meet Kaiba himself at the base of the elevator. The greetings are civil but short. The four of them enter the elevator and skyrocket past the sky of the earth. The pearl blue earth, the black horizon of outer space, and the sun’s unfiltered white rays cutting through the line separating both are a breathtaking view. Jolene and Sofia would have appreciated the grand sight a lot more if the g-force of the elevator did not make them feel like their bowels were being squeezed out of their bodies.

Everyone reaches the space station on top where Kaiba leads them to a computing room with a projection of the entire world on display. Kaiba points to the many nodes placed on each major city. “KaibaCorp uses a Crystal Cloud network, which not only gives someone the chance to duel anyone else on earth but also keeps track of each duelist at all times. A duel disk not only uploads data from a duel to the KaibaCorp main computer it also recognizes different users. No duelist can hide their location from me or suppress their permanent record.”

Now Sofia understands why the Ghouls still wear masks and cloaks. It is not just a tradition from back when Malik was their leader, it keeps them anonymous.

It is like Kaiba reads Sofia’s mind for he continues. “Still, a conniving dog like the terrorists we deal with can hide in other ways. He can hide his appearance to create an alter ego. He can reconnect his duel disk to an outside network, an underground Internet. Switching duel disks at regular intervals does not work if he is connected to the Crystal Cloud, but it can work if he is connected to a separate network instead.”

Sofia notices how all the nodes link not only to each other but gather to a point above the earth. “Why is there an extra point?” Sofia ventures.

Kaiba ignores the question, an action that tells Sofia all she needs to know. “Jolene, Sofia, you are the best programmers and hackers I know.” He says. “Your job is to help me find the terrorists’ underground network, their ‘Dark Cloud.’ This is not a request but an order from your employer. You two will stay with me in the space station until I decide to leave. You will have vital information and therefore cannot leave the station under any circumstances.”

But Kaiba is not heartless. He summons Mokuba to show the two women how the good services he will provide the two women to somewhat compensate for conscripting them into a new job. Such services include gaming centers, a library, a gym, and a luxury bedroom, a place they would live together in more comfort than if they stayed on the ground. 

Sofa thinks back to when she had a sparring session with Maya on the southernmost coast of South America. She told Jolene she went to the gym for the whole day, a lie that kind of made sense since Maya used a spaceship-submarine-thing to quickly whisk Sofia from one side of the globe to the other. “What if Kaiba somehow knows, and now he is hinting at me that I cannot make any more lies?” Sofia asks to herself in worry.

She calms herself down, knowing that worrying is useless. It is very unlikely Kaiba knows anything. Even if he did, how could he prove it? He needs Sofia. Her worry reveals her fear, not reality. An idea suddenly strikes her while she is in this train of thought. Glad to focus on something, she nearly voices an opinion but cuts herself short. 

Kaiba glances at her. “You have something to say? Speak.”

Jolene gently nudges Sofia, a reminder to be careful with her words. Sofia nods, then speaks. “You run a corporation that can completely destroy everyone’s privacy since the Crystal Cloud links to the entire Internet. Through that Internet, KaibaCorp has control of every satellite with nuclear warheads on earth.” 

Jolene knows what Sofia is implying, and she quickly shakes her head in an attempt to dissuade her friend from being too outspoken. Sofia ignores the warning, determined to speak the truth but in a tactful way. “I have the feeling you want to leave your stepfather Gozaburo’s legacy behind, hence why you completely revamped KaibaCorp from manufacturing weapons to manufacturing gaming machines. Yet looking at all the power you have, all the weapons you indirectly own, I believe Gozaburo would be happy if he had your position.”  

Kaiba raises his finger, about to say something, but does not make a sound. He broods over the issue instead. It was an idea he worried over for a long time but no one brought it up. Now someone put his thoughts, which used to exist only in his head, out in the open. A murky impression became a clear statement. He replies, “A fair criticism.”

Kaiba ponders another issue. He sits down on a chair and swivels it to face Sofia. “I have an extra task for you. Once we find the ‘Dark Cloud’ I want you to infiltrate the terrorists. You used to be on Maya’s team in the 13th World Championship, meaning you have a special relationship with her. You are to make contact with her again, befriend her, and bring her to me. I will dispatch her in a duel for the world to see before imprisoning her.”

Sofia finishes his thoughts, “You want to humiliate her before the world to prove her wrong and deter anyone from following her path. Locking her away will cut off the snake’s head.” Sofia’s new role as a double mole is too big to sink in yet.

“Hmm.” Kaiba murmurs as he strokes his chin. “Sofia, do you sympathize with Maya’s cause in any way? You can be honest with me.”

Sofia replies, “I don’t know how to feel about it. Most of the world is suffering under poverty and oppression, so rebel terrorists killing the high mages makes sense. Still, Maya seems like the kind of person who’s more interested in revenge or shits and giggles than fighting for a cause.”

“I see.” Kaiba then starts typing into a computer. “Enough chatting. Your work starts immediately.”

Jolene and Sofia set to work immediately, with Mokuba giving them drinks every once in a while. Sofia’s new position as a double mole now fully sinks in. Now what is she gonna do?

Yugioh Endgame – Duel 21: Dragonynamite

Duel 21: Dragonynamite

Adam: 8000 | Maya: 8000

ADAM’S TURN: “It is my Standby Phase, so I get to use Underworld Circle. I Special Summon Update Jammer (ATK 2000)!His trickster computer hacker revives from the Graveyard. Now I activate Will of the Salamangreat (Continuous Spell)!” But his card instantly flips facedown instead. “What?”  

“Oh, right.” Maya laughs, pretending she forgot to explain The Hecate Sisters’ effects. “They’re powerful when together. Red makes monsters unable to attack or use their effects when they’re Summoned. Yellow shuts down any card effects outside the field. Violet makes us Set Spells and Traps then wait a turn before using them.” 

“COME ON! How can I play long tedious combos now!” Adam whines.

“You don’t.” Maya flatly states the fact. “You now have to think several turns ahead like in the good old days. I could have killed you in a fancy cool way last turn. Now I’ll force you to die in a slow boring way.” 

Adam starts whining more and more. Old school Yugioh is boring. Duels shouldn’t have to last twenty turns. They’re too many girls dueling now, and that’s annoying. Adam caps his spiel with the statement, “If only you would let me play my combo. I would summon the most powerful monster you ever saw in your life.”

This piques Maya’s interest. “Go on.” She insists.

“If you let me, I will Summon a monster with over 10,000 ATK.”

“Not impressed.”

“This turn, and it’s stronger than a god card.”

Maya rubs her chin, intrigued further, and she reaches a decision after some consideration. She stashes away the Hecate sister cards in her butt pocket, causing the monsters on her field to vanish. “You have one shot, one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment. Would you capture it or just let it slip?”

“WHAT!” Sofia blurts in exasperation. She infers that Maya refused to duel at full strength against the high mage Secmeton, most likely to keep things interesting, something that endangered her cause and everyone on her side. Still, Sofia can forgive her because it is a good strategy not to reveal your trump card. Now, Maya showed her trump card, and then she took it away! Even worse, she quoted Eminem lyrics!

Sofia screams in frustration like a lunatic, rattling the locks binding her until her ankles bleed. “GET ME OUT! GET ME OUT! GET ME OUT!”

“Say please.” Maya requests, making Sofia howl more.

“She has some serious repressed anger issues.” Adam shrewdly observed.

“You have no idea.” Maya says. “By the way, I decline to revive a monster with Underworld Circle, just to let you know.”

“Right.” Adam double checks his strategy. It is foolproof. “I activate Will of the Salamangreat to Special Summon Sunlight Wolf (ATK 1800) from the Graveyard.” His card flips faceup. It kindles a flame that soon grows and transforms into his monster. “I activate Foxy in my Graveyard; I discard a card and pop Will of the Salamangreat to revive itself.” And so his monster reappears with 1200 DEF. “And since I just discarded Salamangreat Salamandra, I use its effect to draw one card.” And he does so.

“I activate Foolish Burial (Spell) to mill Cyberse Magician. Here it goes! I network Sunlight Wolf, Update Jammer, and Foxy to Link Summon Firewall Dragon Darkfluid (ATK 3000)!!!” Adam’s monsters activate five out of the six arrows of the link portal. With the conditions fulfilled, the portal bursts open, and the great dragon of the future descends in a stunning awful display.

Then, Four orbs appear above it. “My dragon gets a counter for each card type of Cyberse monster in my Graveyard: Cyberse Magician, Cyberse Clock Dragon, Cyberse Quantum Dragon, Firewall eXceed Dragon. When I battle, Darkfluid gets 2500 ATK for each Counter, meaning it gains 10,000 ATK! Darkfluid, attack Maya directly!”

“You better have a plan to counter that attack.” Sofia growls, grumpy over Maya giving Adam a chance to beat her. “And I’m still stuck here, in case you haven’t noticed.”

Dragon Darkfluid launches its devastating power with Maya in the crosshairs (ATK 3000 → 13,000). Maya flips her Continuous Trap Card. “Zoma the Spirit, become my shield!” A ghastly monster that looks like an undead dragon of sorts protects Maya with its feeble 500 DEF. It easily dies from Darkfluid’s attack, which is the point. Zoma forms into a spectral may from the smoke of its remains.

“You killed my monster, so it comes back from the dead to take a bite out of you.” Maya says. “Time for your just desserts. Eat 26,000 damage!” The spectral maw comes right for Adam’s head.

Adam shouts in haste, “I remove a Counter! Darkfluid, protect me from Zoma’s effect!” One of the orbs shines so brightly it burns itself out, but it dissipates the vengeful spirit for good. “Not only that, my dragon can attack again. Darkfluid, attack Maya again (ATK 3000 → 10,500)!”

Maya grunts, annoyed, and Adam’s monster is preparing another assault much to her chagrin. “I activate Defense Draw (Trap)!” Darkfluid opens fire, but its attack bounces off a barrier around Maya, and Maya gets to draw a card. 

Adam has no choice. He ends his turn.

MAYA’S TURN: “I use Underworld Circle’s effect during the Standby Phase. Resurrect, Celestial Siren Atropon (ATK 0)!” The strange sea serpent-like creature arrives from the shadows. The screen on its front materializes an image of the face of a youthful woman with red hair, but her eyes are missing. 

Adam also uses Underworld Circle, bringing back Cyberse Clock Dragon (ATK 2500), a badly named creature with glowing blue sapphires embedded in its body. Adam smirks, confident his dragon could use its effect to intercept any attack directed against his ace monster, Dragon Darkfluid.  

It is an annoying monster, but Maya may have the solution. “I activate D.D.R. – Different Dimension Reincarnation (Equip Spell)! I discard a card to bring back my banished Archfiend Swordsqueen (ATK 2500) to the field!” The fiendishly beautiful swordswoman and queen of demons traverses through a portal to this dimension. 

“But she has the same attack as my Clockwork Dragon!” Adam protests, then he realizes that he is doomed.

“It will do. Swordsqueen, kamikaze on Clockwork Dragon!” Maya orders. Her monster, fearlessly obeying her master, clashes with her opponent. The monsters slay each other, leaving only Darkfluid left. “Atropon, attack Darkfluid and end this duel!!!” Atropon seizes control of the dragon, forcing it to attack her, which it does. She easily catches the erupting flames, all 10,500 damage, and strikes Adam with it.

Adam: 0 | Maya: 8000

Adam falls off the stage to the ground, knocked out from the force of attack. Maya throws her hands up as if expecting applause. “Who’s next? Any volunteers?”

“Could you please get me loose!” Sofia calls out. “I’ve been waiting for almost half an hour!”

Maya got so lost in the excitement of taking control of a crime syndicate she forgot the real reason she was here. Remembering Sofia, her brown cheeks flushing crimson for daring to forget her, she demands Pandora give her the key to the shackles. Pandora assents, and Maya frees Sofia at last.

Just when everyone things the party is over, a Ghoul decides to be Batman; he swoops down to the stage from above, his black cowl making him look like a menacing shadow. He challenges Maya to a duel, his voice made low and dangerous by the mic in his mask.

Maya cannot resist accepting. “A new of episode Jackass? Here I come!”

Maya: 8000 | Clarence: 8000

MAYA’S TURN: “I Normal Summon Jowgen the Spiritualist (ATK 200) and Set a card.” An Eastern monk hears the call for his presence, and he obeys. Thus does Maya end her turn.

Clarence is almost exasperated as Adam was. “Another antimeta stun monster? How can I make my turn last over 30 minutes now!”

“I don’t know, dude. Figure it out.”

CLARENCE’S TURN: Clarence jumps for joy. “Yes! I drew the right card! But first…” He ponders his move for a minute. “Got it! I Normal Summon Supreme King Dragon Darkwurm (ATK 1800), and I use its effect to add Supreme King Gate Zero from my Deck to my hand. Then, I activate Gate Zero (Scale 0) in my Pendulum Zone.” The first guardian of infinite spacetime flanks Clarence in a column on his right.

“I activate Card Destruction (Spell).” And so both players discard their hands and draw anew. “Next I activate Dark Hole (Spell)!” And so both player’s monsters are wiped out. “Then I activate Card of Sanctity (Spell).” And so both players draw until they have six cards. “And I activate Pot of Greed (Spell) to draw even more cards! Next, I activate Supreme King Gate Infinity (Scale 13) in my other Pendulum Zone.” The other guardian of infinite spacetime flanks Clarence in a column on his left.

With columns present, the roof above Clarence seems to glow, as if ready to open a new dimension. “Pendulum Summon! Go, Endymion, the Mighty Master of Magic (ATK 2800), Reflection of Endymion (ATK 1850), Magister of Endymion (ATK 1500), Timegazer Magician (ATK 1200)!” The dimension gate opens wide from column to column, and the parade of brilliant magicians spills through.

But Maya rains on that parade with a Trap Card. “Bottomless Trap Hole!” Every magician, except Timegazer Magician, falls into a gaping void. Clarence does not care too much. “I activate Monster Reborn (Spell) to Special Summon Astrograph Sorcerer (ATK 2500).” The steward of the Supreme King revives from the Graveyard.

“Now, Astrograph Sorcerer, use your effect! I tribute you, then banish Starving Venom Fusion Dragon, Clear Wing Synchro Dragon, Dark Rebellion Xyz Dragon, and Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon to Integrate Summon Supreme King Z-ARC (ATK 4000)!” A third column hits the field with light so strong it looks solid, bringing out a black dragon so huge only part of its hologram can manifest in the room. “I activate Premature Burial (Equip Spell) to pay 800 Life and bring Astrograph Sorceror back!” Now Clarence’s board is complete. (Clarence LP: 8000 → 7200)   

Maya worries if she will lose the duel. She calculates the total ATK of all monsters on the field and sighs in relief. She will survive but barely. Outwardly she is flippant, commenting, “The poor player struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Clarence declares his attacks. “Z-ARC, Astrograph, Timegazer, get her!” 

This will be a doozy. Maya braces herself. Z-ARCs attack hits hard, throwing her back to the wall. Astrograph and Timegazer pin her in place and strike her. She peels off the wall and falls to the floor (Maya LP 8000 → 300). 

“Oh my God, are you okay!” Sofia cries out.

Maya gets on her knees one short moment, rises to her feet during the next. “Just a sprained wrist. You know, the usual stuff when you play a card game.”

“The funniest thing is I have no fear right now.” Sofia says. “Yes, you’re staring down one of the scariest boss monsters in the game, but I know you’ll beat it. You’re too good for this game.”

Maya tightly clasps Sofia’s hand, feeling comfort from the warmth of her touch. “Thank you. I love you.”

Clarence ends his turn. “Let’s see you beat that, Maya!” He challenges.

MAYA’S TURN: Maya scoffs at Clarence’s arrogance. “A high ATK monster that can’t be destroyed by card effects is dirt common these days. I’ll dispatch it with ease. I Tribute Z-ARC and Astrograph Sorcerer to Special Summon Lava Golem (ATK 3000) to your field!” Clarence’s best monsters dissolve into lava, which clumps together to crudely form a new creature. 

Clarence did not see this coming. “I walked right into that one.”

“Sweetheart, your troubles are only starting.” Maya assures him. “I Set four cards facedown and activate Double Spell (Spell). I target two of the Spells you used last turn in your Graveyard: Monster Reborn and Card of Sanctity, and activate them. I Special Summon Celestial Siren Atropon (ATK 0) from the Graveyard and draw until I have six cards.” Her eerie eyeless monster revives, and she refills her hand. 

Clarence is briefly confused, wondering how Atropon ended up in the Graveyard in the first place. Then he remembers; he made her discard it with Card Destruction last turn.

Maya is all fired up now. Victory is in sight. “Let’s go! Atropon, attack Lava Golem!” The celestial siren catches the golem’s attack and reflects it back at Clarence, who jumps around the stage like a maniac, forgetting the fire is a hologram (Clarence LP 7200 → 4200). Leaving the Battle Phase, Maya activates Atropon’s effect, Special Summoning Celestial Siren Clothon (ATK 0) and Celestial Siren Lacheson (ATK 0) from her Deck.

“I overlay all three Celestial Sirens to Xyz Summon Blazedance Phoenix (ATK 3000)!” Three monsters burn together into one new entity. “I detach 1 Xyz Material to bounce a card back to your Deck and dish out 800 damage, and I’ll do this two more times.” Three Materials vanish. The phoenix dances three different ways. Lava Golem, Supreme King Gate Zero, and Supreme King Gate Infinity vanish from the field, and Clarence gets hit with more dancing fire (Clarence LP 4200 → 1800).

“Will I survive till next turn?” Clarence timidly asks, twitching.

Maya confirms his worst fear. “No chance. I move to my End Phase and activate Surprise Attack From Beyond (Quick-Play Spell). Phoenix, finish him!” The dancing bird swoops low to wipe out Timegazer Magician, burns the opponent, and sweeps him off the stage.

Maya: 300 | Clarence: 0

“Now that was an epic victory, like in our duel, right Adam?” Maya sticks out her ear, only hearing a groan from the ground. Maya gives a hearty laugh. “I thought so.”   

Sofia also laughs, shaking her head. “F*ck you, Maya.”

“Who wants to be the next victim?” Maya offers. “Anyone?” 

Even the most vicious and courageous Ghouls decline the challenge.

“Very good.” Maya picks up Pandora’s hat and tosses it at Hassan. “I present you new recruits.”

Hassan fights within himself for a time, unsure if he could accept such vile criminals for his and Maya’s revolutionary cause. Yet being rebels, they are naturally the underdog, severely outnumbered. They can use all the help they can get. Finally, he concedes, speaking softly to Maya so only she could hear him. “You’d better have a method to your madness. I sometimes wonder who and what you’re really fighting for, honestly.”

Yugioh Endgame – Duel 20: Super Smash Bros. Burly Brawl

Maya is an excellent strategist. That is fair to say, at least from Maya’s biased point of view. She could make a convincing argument with her dueling record from the past three books. Regardless, she is no stranger to making careful plans. But improvising a scheme in the proverbial heat of battle? And pulling it through? Now that is a test of skill. So Maya comes up with a bold idea at this very moment, brilliant or stupid, that profoundly changes the future course of events.

Maya challenges Pandora to a duel. “If you win, you can have me and Sofia together, some nice double booty.” – The Ghouls laugh at her immature joke. – “But if I win, you give Sofia back and surrender leadership of the Ghouls to me.”

Pandora, angry at losing his captive despite winning the last game, is too eager for compensation. “I accept. I need more than compensatory damages.” He orders Clarence to turn off the buzzsaws and unshackle him, but not poor Sofia, letting his ankles breath again. He silently speaks to his heart, “I’m getting too old for this. Maybe I should hang my oversized hat.”

Maya: 8000 | Pandora: 8000

MAYA’S TURN: “You know the etiquette; for there is honor even among thieves. Challenger goes first.” Maya this begins. “I Normal Summon Inspector Boarder (ATK 2000) and Set a card.” Her futuristic surfboarding policeman appears with a facedown card behind him for protection.

PANDORA’S TURN: “Running antimeta tech as usual, Maya? We Ghouls play outside the metagame.”

Maya disagrees. “No. You are the metagame.”

“I doubt that.” Pandora counters. “I activate Graceful Charity (Spell). I draw three cards and discard two. Next, Dark Magic Veil (Spell). I pay 1000 Life to Special Summon Dark Magician (ATK 2500) from my Graveyard!” The iconic sorcerer appears in the sinister red and brown version. I Set four cards and activate Card of Sanctity (Spell)!”

Maya springs her Continuous Trap. “I activate Final Attack Orders. Congratulations, you played yourself.” 

Pandora has no idea what Maya is talking about, so she explains everything. “My version of Final Attack Orders is a very old edition before it got nerfed. We keep only three cards from our Deck but mill everything else. Your Card of Sanctity is also old edition. You must draw six cards but have only three cards in your Deck, so you Deck Out. You lose.”

Sofia stares dumbfoundead like Neo from the Matrix does in that one meme. “Woah.”  

Maya: 8000 | Pandora: DECK OUT

“Unbelievable!” Pandora cries, falling to his knees. “How could you use such broken cards! That’s cheap!”

“I’m not screwing around but playing to win. You made me do this by chaining up Sofia for your cheap theatrics.” Maya says. “I think it’s time you hung your oversized hat. You’ll be happier under my leadership. I promise.”

Pandora casts his hat to her, sighing in relief. His servants, the Ghouls, violently reject the change in authority. They demand for a champion among them to rise and kill the usurper. Hassan and his militia try beating the Ghouls into submission, but the more tightly his forces squeeze around them the more rebellious they become.

A Ghoul jumps onto the stage, challenging Maya to a duel, which Maya happily accepts.

Maya: 8000 | Ghoul: 8000

GHOUL’S TURN: “I activate Pot of Greed (Spell)!” He announces, his voice deepened by a mic in his fearful mask. “Let me carefully explain what the effect of this card. IT can be activated only during your Main Phase. The player who activated this card must take the card from the top of their Deck and add it to their hand, and then immediately take the card from the top of their Deck and add it to their hand again. Then, I must place this card in the Graveyard.”

“Will you do this for every card you play?” Maya asks, clearly vexed.

The Ghoul gives a tentative cheeky answer. “Maybe?”

“Hassan, kill him.”

The Ghoul panics, fearing Hassan would blindly obey Maya because that is what he would do if Pandora told him to do something. “Okay! Okay! I’ll stop! Geez! By the ghosts of all the characters killed by George R.R. Martin, this mask is stifling!” He takes it off, revealing a pale face with blond hair on top. “I’m Adam. Nice to meet you.”

“I hope you don’t ruin this duel.” Maya warns him.

“I’m already ruining it, for you at least. Anyway,” He continues, his true voice a high-pitched nasal squeak. “I Normal Summon Babablazar (ATK 600), and use its effect to Special Summon Salamangreat Gazelle (ATK 1500) from my hand, and then I use its effect to mill a ‘Salamangreat’ card.” A fireball spirit and a fiery gazelle light the field with their presence. They seem to be made of blazing metal as if an alchemist forged them a minute ago.

Pandora had his migraines during the last duel. Now it is Maya’s turn to suffer. “By the Egytpian gods, you’re running a meta deck.” Maya sighs. “You’re already ruining this duel.”

Adam ignores her. “I network Babablazar and Gazelle to Link Summon Salamangreat Sunlight Wolf (ATK 1800)!” A blazing werewolf forged by alchemy jumps from the link network. “Now I discard Salamangreat Spinny from my hand to power up my Wolf’s ATK from 1800 to 2300. This triggers the effect of my second Salamangreat Gazelle, so I Special Summon it from my hand (ATK 1500)! And that triggers its effect, so I mill Salamangreat Falco. Then, I use its effect to Set the card I milled earlier. Finally, I activate Spinny in my Graveyard to Special Summon it.”

The product of this complex chain reaction is a small field presence, an armadillo and another gazelle. Maya looks at her wrist impatiently. “I don’t have a watch but I’m still looking at it.” She comments.

“You must be old!” Adam gawks as if he never saw a watch before. “What are you, a millennial? In this century, people check the time with iPhones.”  

“You said something about how no girl ever dated you? I wasn’t listening.”

“Original.” Adam snorts before continuing. “I overlay Spinny and Gazelle to Xyz Summon Salamangreat Miragestallio (ATK 1800)!” A stallion made of blazing iron gallops through the overlay network into this dimension. “I detach an Xyz Material to use its Effect. I Special Summon Salamangreat Foxy (1200 DEF)! Then, I Set a card.” He ends his turn with another monster, this time a fox, and an extra backrow card.

MAYA’S TURN: Maya studies the situation. Adam made a pretty standard play regarding the Salamangreat archetype. He set up a decent field and his backrow card was most likely… of course. Maya begins, “I activate -”

“Oh, one more thing!” Adam points out. “The rules changed a bit a week ago. You can Extra Summon monsters of each card type – like Fusion, Ritual, and so on – once per turn. You can fill the field with a diverse army of Extra Deck monsters like before, but you can’t spam with Link Monsters anymore.”  

“I guarantee people have found a way around it, but thanks for the tip.” Maya says, conceding gratitude. She already knows about the rule change but Adam’s thoughtful gesture is what counts.

“No problem! You’re gonna’ need it!” Adam beams, chipper as a puppy.

“I activate Soul Exchange (Spell)!”

“And I negate with Salamangreat Roar (Trap)!” Adam counters. His Sunlight Wolf vomits fire at Maya’s card, negating its effect and destroying it.

Maya shrugs it off. “No problem. Time for plan B. I Normal Summon Seven-Armed Fiend (ATK 650), and mill a Fiend from my Deck to use its Effect.” A hairy beastly devil emerges, a creature with six arms, and its head is even shaped like a hand. The monster decreases its ATK to zero and Special Summons two sentient forearms, the “Arm Fiend Tokens” (ATK 0). “I network Seven-Armed Fiend and its tokens to Link Summon Diabolus Ex Machina (ATK 0)!” The fiends dissolve and reconfigure into abstract sphere of black metal shards.

“Now for the wallop. I activate Underworld Circle (Continuous Spell)!” A barrier spins into place around the duelists and shrouding the field with a dark aura. All monsters on the field vanish in ghostly smoke, sent to the Graveyard, while monsters in both player’s Decks are banished. Diabolus Ex Machina, however, reconfigures. Maya pays the small price of banishing ten cards from her Deck facedown.

“Deus Ex Machina, attack directly!” Maya commands. “The black metal shards reveal themselves to be a swarm of tiny machines. They come together, creating a mosaic of the Devil’s face, for they are Legion. The face vomits fire and brimstone in the form of countless little machines, revealing its true power, its ATK skyrocketing to 9200!

Adam is done for – but he has a card ready. “I activate Extra Blowback (Trap)!” He sends five monsters from his Extra Deck to the Graveyard. Their spirits turn into parts of a mirror and, combined together, they reflect the attack back on the attacking fiend. The creature reels back and vanishes but is not destroyed. Maya returns it to the Extra Deck, disappointed but unfazed.

“So I’ll have to kill you the boring way. Time for plan C.” She says. “I set two cards facedown.”

As she ends her turn, three witches appear through a haze of green smoke: one an old hag in red, the other a large plump doyenne in yellow, and a seductive colleen in violet. Maya explains, “I can Special Summon these banished monsters in my End Phase: Red Hecate (1500 ATK), Yellow Hecate (ATK 1500), and Violet Hecate (ATK 1500), but I can’t draw next turn.”

“Do you have a plan D, E, F, all the way to Z?” Adam asks.

“No. What you see is what you get.” Maya assures him, but Adam does not believe her.

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 19 – Fish Styx

Sofia: 2900 || Pandora: 1200 

“If I go down, I’m taking you with me!” Sofia snaps, desperate, “I activate Crackdown (Continuous Trap) to take control of Dark Magician of Chaos!” A rope springs from her card, seizing the strongest of magicians, dragging him into the line of fire. Sofia loses her entire field and hand, all banished, but Pandora suffers too; he now only has four monsters.

Pandora wags his finger. “The last vengeful act of a loser. How pathetic! Now I Fusion Summon my ultimate wizard, Quintet -” He realizes he cannot. “Oh.”

Sofia hates smug people but cannot help being smug herself at the moment. “Quintet Force doesn’t give you Quintet Magician until after the card resolves, but now you lack the five Spellcasters needed to Fusion Summon it. I knew from the first turn, watching you swarm the field with Dark Magicians and Dark Magician Girls, that you probably had Quintet Force. Not only that, I activate N.D. Traveler in the Banished Zone, letting me Special Summon it (DEF 1300)!” Her cyborg goldfinch appears.

“Oh no!” Pandora shouts as if in the 4Kids dub.

“Oh yes!” Sofia thrusts her fist in the air. “Damn does it feel good being the guile hero!”

A vindictive Pandora points to the field. “Oh yeah!? I have four monsters; you have one! You lose! Dark Magician, attack!” And his monster gets ready to strike.

Sofia begins her counter attack. “My monster came back from the future not just to look cute. I return it and all my banished Dinosaurs back to the Deck to Fusion Summon N. Raptor MaXI – Britannia (ATK 2700)!” A large, bottom-heavy dinosaur with many different colored spots makes its crash landing, threatening to destroy all of Pandora’s monsters with the force of its impact.

“I banish Quintet Force from my Graveyard!” Pandora creates a blue-tinged magic force field, saving his monsters from a messy demise. “No servant of mine gets crushed, kicked, eaten, or pooped out by a goddamn yoshi!”

“My monsters are not yoshis!” Sofia waxes indignant. “They’re an original concept!”

Pandora scoffs, raising an eyebrow beneath his mask. “They eat things with unrealistically long tongues, they poop spotted eggs, and they come in so many colors they’re probably queer. Not that there’s anything wrong with being gay, bi, trans, poly, demi, semi, pan, whatever.”

Sofia’s cheeks become crimson. “Are you saying I’m bi?” The paranoid tone of her voice says, “How do you know?” She likes Jolene after all and even shares the same bed with her.

A Ghoul volunteers to break the awkward silence. “I main Yoshi in Smash Bros.” He comments.

“That’s why you suck, bro.” Another Ghoul says.

“Don’t hate, you Fox-maining-no-items-Final-Destination-only tourneyfag!” Retorts the first Ghoul, and the two fiends get into an argument. 

“Fantastic.” Pandora dryly complains. “Anyway, I overlay Dark Magician and Magician of Dark Illusion to Xyz Summon  Number 11: Big Eye (ATK 2700) and detach 1 Material to take control of Brittania.” Two Spellcasters make way for a new one, a nontraditional kind, a big upside-down cone with an eye. This odd creature entrances the enemy monster with its huge evil eye, forcing it to switch sides.   

“Come on! COME ON!” Sofia protests in exasperation. Just after she barely reclaimed control, she loses it again. She turns to me, the author, pleading, “Could you please give me a Heart of the Cards moment? Pretty please?” She tries making puppy dog eyes but fails miserably.

“No.” I say. “You’re not Yugi. If your Deck isn’t consistent enough, that’s your problem.”

Pandora is utterly bewildered. “Who are you talking to? Did the Duel make you crazy?” He suddenly beams with approval. “If it did, hop right in the audience! Now you’re one of us!”

Sofia, despite her deflated self-esteem, remains resilient, pushing onward. 

SOFIA’S TURN: “Okay. Finally my turn. I set a card facedown. I don’t care if I lose. I just want to make your victory hard.”

Such tenacity leaves Pandora unimpressed. “How quaint.”

PANDORA’S TURN: “Magicians, attack!” He commands, eager to finish the Duel. He does not betray it, but he feels exhausted, which is a near constant state of being for anyone past thirty.

Sofia, who is not even twenty, easily fights on despite her self-doubt. “I activate Soul Leveler (Trap)!” A dense cloud of specters appear to drain half of Sofia’s life, then raid Pandora’s field, forcefully dragging his monsters to the Graveyard. (Sofia LP 2900 → 1450)

Pandora briefly puts his fingers beneath his ask to squeeze the place between his eyes. This girl is giving him a migraine. How does Maya handle her? “I set a card facedown and end my turn.”

SOFIA’S TURN: Excellent! Sofia draws a good card. “I Normal Summon Kleinekarnosaur (ATK 500) and pop it to search another Dinosaur.” The vicious little t-rex barely appears before eating itself in a gruesome but fascinating display of gluttony and rapaciousness. Sofia adds a Dinosaur from her Deck to hand. “And I banish two Dinosaurs from my Graveyard to Special Summon Ultimate Conductor Tyranno (ATK 3000)!” The massive predator, brimming with a sickly dark energy, nearly takes up the whole stage. 

“Stop right there!” Pandora orders, as if afraid Sofia will declare an attack. – The window for using his Trap Card is small indeed. – “I activate Shadow Balance (Trap)!” A huge scale takes over the whole field, except the scale is alive with jaws for balances. Pandora’s side is empty, lighter than a feather, but Sofia’s side weighs heavy with a monster. The jaw underneath the dinosaur clamps shut, like the mouth of a Venus fly trap, swallowing its prey.

“Oh…” Sofia stops in her tracks. “Shinosaurus.” 

“I’ll enjoy licking your saltosaurus tears.” Pandora promises her.

“Ew, gross.” Sofia recoils. “Is this harassment? I think it’s harassment.” Jolene will definately think this is harassment. Sofia turns to the audience of Ghouls. “Do you think this harassment?” Actually, Sofia just being here is harassment. “Oh, gobisaurus! STRANGER DANGER! STRANGER DANGER!” 

PANDORA’S TURN: “I activate Wizard’s Mirror (Spell)!”

“It’s like Dragon’s Mirror but for Spellcasters, right?” Sofia correctly guesses.

“Yes.” Pandora confirms. “That is quite obvious. I banish five Spellcasters from my Graveyard to finally Fusion Summon Quintet Magician (ATK 4500)!” A tall dimensional magic mirror appears behind him, releasing the great wizard within as if freeing it from a prison. The monster itself is constantly surrounded by five hexagram circles. “Quintet Magician, attack!” All five hexagrams hit Sofia squarely in the torso. (Sofia LP 1450 → 0) 

Sofia: 0 || Pandora: 1200 

The Ghouls cheer wildly at the victory of their leader, and in such a close game too! Pandora can finally relax, basking in the applause. The Ghouls even applauded to Sofia, eager to give her a fine farewell before she gets butchered by the buzzsaw now swerving towards her ankles. 

“Well that checks out.” Sofia remarks. She tightly shuts her eyes, puts her hands over them anyway, and starts singing, trying to make light of a dark situation. Guess she’ll have to replace her feet with a flipper.

“So long and thanks for all the fish.
So sad that it should come to this.

We tried to warn you all but, oh, dear.
You may not share our intellect,
Which might explain your disrespect
For all the natural wonders that grow around you.
So long, so long and thanks for all the fish.”

The doors burst open as Maya barges in, her eyes blazing red, with a blast of fire so strong the whole wall breaks down. The Ghouls flee in terror, except for the two of them still arguing about Smash Bros., but keep smacking onto the three remaining walls like flies trying to exit a glass window. 

“Ce que les flambeaux!” Pandora is too flabbergasted to speak English.

The buzzsaw cuts part of Sofia’s ankle but Maya comes to the rescue before it can do any more damage. She catches the thing with her hands and tears it away from the wall. She is superpowered enough at the moment to do so but not strong enough to avoid getting her palms cut. 

Maya urgently clasps Sofia’s shoulders. “By the Egyptian Gods, are you okay! Tell me where the bad man touched you!”

Sofia hugs Maya tightly, her sadness at disappointing her friend far greater than any fear for her life. “I’m sorry I failed you. I tried my best.”

Maya strokes Sofia’s hair, whispering soothing words for her. “Criminals, like the Ghouls, are AIDS. They keep adapting and coming back. There’s no shame in being caught off guard, but you must remain alert in the future.”

Sofia nods, secretly wiping her eyes. She will not dare show Maya her tears. “That’s a weird way to console someone, but fine. I promise.”

“Que fais-tu ici, folle salope noire!” Pandora shouts from behind her. “She is my spoils of war!” 

Maya turns to face Pandora. She has exhausted her Ka searching for Sofia, so she makes it recede, her eyes returning to their natural dark brown color and her body no longer stronger than anyone else’s. Otherwise, the strain on her body will be too great. Now, she will have to fight with – cards? Yes. Unbelievable.

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 18 – Ice and Dice, Knives and Lives

Sofia: 3400 || Pandora: 4400

Pandora shrieks as the buzzsaw creeps nearer to his ankles, randomly waving his arms like he is a tube man. The audience of Ghouls points to their leader and gleefully boo at him, chucking tomatoes (they brought just for this purpose) his way. 

“Your magic show sucks worse than Penn and Teller’s!” Yells a Ghoul. “I’ve seen better street artists in New Orleans!” Balks another. “Go back to molesting kids in Neverland, you Michael Jackson-voiced loser!” Hisses a third.

Truly loyal comrades, as Sofia observes. They remind her a bit of the hyenas in The Lion King. They even have a campy, effeminate leader. Now for some lime green smoke and – BOOM! Green smoke bursts into the air and the bright stage lights waver, beaming all the colors of the rainbow. The Ghouls balk in mad laughter at their idiot master.  

Pandora shrieks at random people in the audience, “Clarence, I need technical support! Get your black-cowled a$$ here and help with the lights!” The green smoke and technicolor lights suddenly cease but the Ghouls keep having a good time. 

PANDORA’S TURN: “Ahem! After I was so rudely interrupted, let’s continue the show. I resume Pandora’s Great Escape! And I start by banishing the Galaxy Cyclone (Spell) in my Graveyard to destroy Egg Legacy.” Sofia’s card dissolves into dust and gets scattered by cosmic wind. 

“I activate Graceful Charity (Spell): I draw 3 and discard 2. I further augment my hand with Dark Magic Circle (Continuous Spell) to add a special card from my Deck to my hand.” 

“Is it a surprise tool that will help you later?” Sofia says in a deadpan tone.

“Not in this clubhouse!” Pandora affirms with enthusiasm. “I’m using it right now: Dark Magic Curtain (Spell)! I pay half my Life so my next Dark Magician (ATK 2500) can make his great entrance!” A skeleton animated by dark magic appears to draw back the curtain behind Pandora and – ta da! – a new wizard appears! (Pandora LP 4400 → 2200)

“But I’m not done yet. Here, watch your monster disappear!” Pandora’s magician conjures a dark magic circle around Sofia’s powerful raptor, transporting it to the Banished Zone. “Dark Magician, strike her directly!” Pandora shrieks. Sofia gets struck by sudden pain all over her body, like she is dying of poison, but it vanishes as suddenly as it appears. (Sofia LP 3400 → 900)

“That should do for now. I set a card and end my turn.” Pandora concludes with satisfaction. 

Sofia’s spirit – or is it her stomach? – falls to the ground. She will lose her feet and Maya abandon her out of disappointment! – Wait. Does she find Maya being disappointed scarier than bleeding to death on the floor of a degenerate’s basement. Strange world.

Sofia laughs in amusement and terror at the irony, clasping her shoulders with her hands. When she fell down, Maya and Yukio helped her get back up almost every time. But this duel is like the two times she faced Bandit Keith. She will have to magically conjure the strength inside herself, anything to get this nightmare of a duel over with. 

SOFIA’S TURN: “I activate Egger Planter (Spell)! I banish the 2 facedown cards I stole from you to draw 2 cards. I play Soul Absorption (Continuous Spell) and I activate Miscelleaneosaurus from my Graveyard; I banish 4 Dinosaurs from my Graveyard to Special Summon Tyranno Infinity (ATK 7000)!” The Ghouls cheer at seeing such a small but powerful monster, jumping as if dynamite is blowing them into the sky. Things are getting interesting!

As a matter of formality, Giant Rex returns to the field stronger than ever (ATK 2000 → 3200) and Soul Absorption heals Sofia. (LP 900 → 2900).   

“Tyranno Infinity, destroy Dark Magician!” Sofia commands, too eager to win the Duel.

Pandora balks at her audacity. “How naive to think you could defeat me, the master of magicians! I activate Magician’s Selection (Trap)!” The Dark Magician instantly forces the other dinosaur to appear in front of him as a meat shield, blocking the attack of Tyranno Infinity.

“Oh no…” Sofia whispers, not because her attack failed but because she could have played a Spell, but didn’t. I-I set two cards and end my turn.” Sofia stammers, covering her mistake as much as she can.

PANDORA’S TURN: The illusionist Pandora is not the greatest duelist but he is no idiot. He can read people like any good performer can, and he knows Sofia made a mistake. Now, he astutely judges, it is time to punish her for it, but he does have some respect for her. He claps in applause. “Wonderful! A fierce exchange, the kind of suspense I adore in a magic show.”

The clapping suddenly stops and the man becomes dead serious. “But you have little time to celebrate. Not with my next move: Card of Sanctity (Spell)!” Both players draw until they have 6 cards in their hand, Sofia groaning. Nothing good ever comes from this.

“I activate Thousand Knives (Spell)! I target Tyranno Infinity for destruction!” The Dark Magician casts a spell, throwing a rainstorm of kitchen knives at the monster.

Sofia quickly reacts, “I dodge the attack with Super Polymerization! Tyranno Infinity and Dark Magician fuse together to -” 

“I play Illusion Magic (Quick-play Spell)” Pandora counters with deft speed. The second Dark Magician to enter the Duel vanishes from the field. Pandora adds his third and last Dark Magician from the Deck to his hand. With no second target, the Super Polymerization card disappears, but the thousand knives do not. Before long, Tyranno Infinity gets butchered.

Pandora can see Sofia’s error at last. Had she played Super Polymerization last turn, she would have won the duel. Ah, what relief! 

“I discard the Dark Magician in my hand to Special Summon Illusion Apprentice Magician (ATK 2000)!” A long-haired variant of the Dark Magician Girl comes into play. “I activate Silent Doom to revive Dark Magician (DEF 2100), then activate Dedication Through Light and Darkness (Quick-play Spell) to sacrifice him to Special Summon Dark Magician of Chaos (ATK 2800) from the Deck!” At the end of this process, Pandora arrives to controlling a wizard with long black hair and tight black leather.

“My new magician isn’t just kinky, he has a powerful Effect.” Pandora assures his opponent. “I retrieve Card of Sanctity from my Graveyard and – guess what – I activate it! I refill my hand and we ride the merry-go-round once again, except this merry-go-round is covered with your blood! Don’t you think that’s fun?”

Sofia coldly retorts, “I think you need to direct the next Saw movie.”

Pandora replies, “I’ll look into it. I activate Monster Reborn (Spell) to revive Dark Magician (ATK 2500) again and activate Bond Between Teacher and Student (Spell). I Special Summon Dark Magician Girl (ATK 2300) and Set a card relevant to them from my Deck.” Master and apprentice reunite as a powerful duo and a new card appears in the back row. “Now here’s a real surprise tool that will help me later. I promise you that.”

“I doubt it. Only a fool takes the word of a criminal.” Sofia comments.

Pandora sheds a crocodile tear. “How can a woman be so young and pretty but be so cruel? You hurt my feelings.”

“I imagine it comes with the package.” Sofia postulates with a certain satisfaction. “Beauty with cruelty is not a bug but a feature in the system.” She thinks about how her friends will react to such a cynical but cliche remark. Jolene will chastise her for “internalized misogyny”. Maya will pretend to laugh like Homer Simpson, chuckling, “It’s funny ‘cause it’s true.”  

Pandora chortles, “Spoken like a true realist from my birthplace. Why, you could’ve strolled through Paris with dapper shoes for all I know, but something tells me you’re not that type. Paying 1000 Life, I activate Dark Magic Veil (Spell) to Special Summon Magician of Dark Illusion (ATK 2100) from my hand!” Dark mist gathers to form the shadowy and spectral version of the Dark Magician. (Pandora LP 2200 → 1200) 

“My magicians are here; they are at your service, but not for long. I activate Quintet Force (Spell)! The magicians will be gone to form a new spellcaster unlike any you have ever seen but so will all your cards.” Pandora’s monsters cross their scepter’s together, gathering the energy needed for a powerful spell. The game’s end is nigh.

Yugioh Endgame: Duel 17 – Dino County

Sofia wakes up with a start in pitch darkness. Her wrists and ankles hurt from being bound tightly by what feels like cold metal but, when she tries moving her limbs to free them, she discovers she cannot, no matter how hard she tries. How does she end up getting kidnapped!? Who do people think she is!? Mokuba!?

The lights come on, their sudden ignition burning Sofia’s eyes so badly she might as well look directly at the sun. Her eyes adjust, letting her see the dungeon around her through the black and blue spots blotting her vision. It looks like she is on a small wooden stage, except another stage faces her across a black pit housing a large audience of sinister men in black cowls.

Really weird and off-putting. Maybe people think Sofia is Daphne from Scooby Doo. The thought makes her so embarrassed she struggles to free herself from the chains even more, but cannot, making her wrists and ankles burn sore. 

And there, across the audience on the opposing stage, arrives a man in a dazzling white suit and hat, his face covered by a wide striped mask. He announces in a quite rather high pitched for a man, “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, respectables and reprobates, muggles and magicians, cops and Crips, transexuals and transgenders, lawyers, doofuses and do-gooders, goodie-two-shoes and Ghouls, I present you the most exciting magic show this century! I introduce your leader, the one and only Pandora, the Great Archmage, Leader of the Ghouls!” 

The Ghouls cheer wildly with arms out, expecting presents like they are at a Mardi Gras parade and, surely, Pandora throws candy and beads at the cheering mob. “And you are?” Pandora commands a microphone, as if by magic, to hover towards Sofia’s mouth. 

The shocked woman blurts out a demand, too annoyed to care, “Cut the crap and duel me! Let me guess, you want to play a card game deathmatch. If I win, you let me go. If you win, I get sent to the Shadow Realm or the Chaos Realm or Happy Land or whatever. Just let us duel already!”

“How rude!” Pandora scoffs, and his audience follows suit, jeering at Sofia. “Before you die by my hands, would you at least like to know who your killer is and why he kills you?”

“I want to know why you have a girl’s name.” Sofia answers. “Otherwise, no. Not really.”

“What a bummer. I’ll tell you anyway.” Pandora insists.

“Please, no. Don’t torture me with your backstory. I don’t need an exposition to this chapter. Whatever you do, don’t sing, especially in an improv-”

Pandora proceeds to narrate in song:

I woke up, in darkness,
My mind triggered, by an evil master, through black magic,
To take a little rope, a hefty stool, and with some gumption
Go hang myself. Oh, how tragic! 

Sofia has enough. “I get it. It’s a metaphor for depression. It’s deep. Just stop.”

“Fine… fine.. Jack of Spades!” Pandora mumbles as he conjures a pair of buzzsaws, one on his stage, the other on Sofia’s, then makes them vanish, then makes them appear again. “Now you see them. Now you don’t. Now you see them. Now you don’t. – Just kidding.” The buzzsaws begin whirring, here to stay. “Need to know the rules?” 

The magician unshackles Sofia’s wrists while buckling his ankles with chains. He tosses a duel disk at the opposite stage, barely missing Sofia’s head since he has never been good at sports. Sofia straps the contraption to her right wrist and the game begins.

SOPHIA: 8000 || PANDORA: 8000  

SOPHIA’S TURN: “I Normal Summon Beatraptor (ATK 1400) And I set two in the back row!” She conjures a bird-like dinosaur with bright yellow aplomb, as well as two facedown cards behind it.

PANDORA’S TURN: “I activate Galaxy Cyclone (Spell) and I target the card on my left!” A storm of stardust blusters through one of Sofia’s cards, puncturing it. “Seems I destroyed the card There Can Be Only One. Almost all my monsters are one Type. How woefully unprepared you are!

“I proceed to attack. I Normal Summon Makyura – the Destroyer (ATK 1600)!” A black-clad executioner brandishes its massive claws, the sole yellow eye on its head glowing with malicious intent. “Turn the dinosaur into chicken meat!” The butcher lunges for the kill.

Sofia objects, “I refute your attack with Egg Legacy (Continuous Trap)!” She banishes a Dinosaur from her Deck, causing a large spotted egg to eject out of the card and crash into the assailant (ATK 1600 → 800). “Beatraptor, counterattack!” Her monster slashes the executioner with its hind legs, inflicting it with a fatal wound. (Pandora LP 8000 → 7400)

“Not bad.” Pandora compliments his opponent. “But your trap is so basic it might as well wear ugg boots.”

“Oh no you didn’t.” Sofia growls.

“Oh yes I did! You did me a great service by sending Makyura to the Graveyard, and you shouldn’t have. I am the entertainer. I provide the service. So I will return the favor by using Makyura’s Effect to activate Eternal Soul (Continuous Trap) and Magician’s Navigation (Trap)!”

Sofia braces herself. Here comes the big guns. Pandora is a feared Dark Magician user, one who even gave Yugi a run for his money back in the day. Now the man can flood the field with his ace monsters.

Pandora declares, “With Magician’s Navigation, I Special Summon Dark Magician (ATK 2500) from my hand and Dark Magician Girl (ATK 2000) from my Deck! With Eternal Soul, I’ll add a Dark Magician from my Deck to my hand. That being said, come forth my loyal servants!” Master and apprentice arrive together for the game, both monsters wearing dark green robes, a different version from the usual iconic purple color.

“Beatraptor works wonders against degenerates who abuse the Extra Deck. But they’re street magicians compared to David Blane, and like him I’m a classic who can fly. Dark Magician Girl, attack with Dark Burning!” The female magician turns Sofia’s monster into fried chicken. (Sofia LP 8000 → 7400) 

“I activate Beatraptor. Since it died by battle, I Special Summon another Beatraptor (DEF 2000) from my Deck!” Another dinosaur leaps into play as if from the curtain behind the stage. 

“Very well. Dark Magician, destroy Beatraptor! Dark Magic!” Pandora commands. His ace monster transforms the raptor to glass and shatters it.

“I use its Effect to Special Summon the final Beatraptor (DEF 2000) from my Deck.” Sofia states, playing her monster.

Pandora ends his turn with a facedown card, confident he has a solid board. After all, if Sofia ever tries to erase Eternal Soul, his weak point, he can easily negate the Card Effect.”  

SOFIA’S TURN: “Egg Legacy activates during my Standby Phase; I add the Dinosaur monster I banished to my hand. For my Main Phase, I Normal Summon Giant Rex (ATK 2000)!” The misnamed monster – really a large spinosaurus – graces the field with a loud stamping of its feet. “I network Giant Rex and Beatraptor to Link Summon N. Raptor MaXVI – Galapagos (ATK 2200)!” The two dinosaurs evaporate into two link markers bordering a futuristic portal, out of which emerges a silly silly with spots all over its body and a shell on its back.

What a strange new monster! The audience of criminals oohs and ahs as if it is made of babies. Pandora smirks in amusement. Well, this is new.

“I activate Cosmic Cyclone (Spell)! I pay 1000 Life to destroy Eternal Soul (Sofia LP 7400 → 6400)!” Sofia declares, making her own whirling storm of stardust.  

Pandora scoffs at her novice tactic. “How predictable. I banish Magician’s Navigation from the Graveyard to negate your Spell!”

Sofia happily snaps her fingers. “What I was waiting for! Now it’s time for my magic act. I activate Galapagos!” The odd raptor catches Pandora’s card with its tongue and swallows it, not unlike how a frog eats a fly, and pops an egg on Sofia’s back row.

“What in the name of Houdini’s handcuffs did I just see!?” Pandora shouts in a panic, flabbergasted.

“Hey, I thought you were the magician here.” Sofia says with a smirk. “Very well. I’ll reveal the trick. Galapagos can negate a card and store it facedown on my back row for use in the future. “Now Cosmic Cyclone gets to resolve! Your Eternal Soul card is banished!” The whirlwind of spacedust erodes the stone slab on Pandora’s field. Both magicians, master and apprentice, vanish.    

Pandora starts panicking, his greasy face profuse with sweat. “Oh no! Oh no no no no no no no no!”

“I use the second Effect of Galapagos. I banish the egg – your facedown card on my field – and four Dinosaurs in my Graveyard to Special Summon two Dinosaurs from my Deck: Souleating Oviraptor (ATK 1800) and N. Raptor Apostlesaur (ATK 300)!” The egg violently breaks open, a ghastly dinosaur and a primitive reptile popping out. “I activate both monsters. With Oviraptor, I mill a Dinosaur. With Apostlesaur, I add a Ritual Monster and Ritual Spell from the Deck to my hand.”

In addition, since Giant Rex is banished, it reappears on the field and with more power (ATK 2000 → 2600). Sofia commences the right. “I activate Prime Origin Offering (Ritual Spell)! I can tribute Apostlesaur as the only sacrifice to Ritual Summon N. Raptor MaXII – Madagascar!” Apostlesaur falls into an altar resembling a volcano, which erupts with flames that form into a mighty spotted raptor.

A member of the audience cannot help but call out, “Wait, doesn’t Prime Origin Offering spell “poo” as an acronym?” The Ghouls burst into laughter.

Sofia blushes crimson. “Yes, yes it does.” She seethes defensively. “Real mature for a ruthless criminal organization.” 

“Madagascar’s Effect activates.” Sofia speaks to Pandora. “I seize three cards from your Graveyard and put them facedown on my field.” The new dinosaur swallows the three cards and lays them as eggs on Sofia’s back row. “Madagascar, give Pandora a bite more than he can chew! Attack him directly!” The raptor leaps in for the kill.

“You fool! I still have a card facedown!” Pandora rebukes her. “I activate Dark Vanishing Act (Trap)! You destroyed by Dark Magician, so I destroy your monster!” A specter of Pandora’s ace monster apparates to kill the raptor with a deadly spell. In addition, Sofia suffers damage equal to her monster’s ATK. (Sofia LP 6400 → 3400)

The frightful buzzsaw edges its way closer to Sofia’s ankles. Sofia feels her heart pounding hard in her chest. Trying her best to fight her rising anxiety, she says, “Madagascar activates in the Graveyard. I can banish one of its facedown cards to revive it. Return, Madagascar!” One of the eggs shatters, and Sofia’s monster is reborn. “Continue your attack!” This time, the raptor’s hunt is a success. It slashes Pandora across the waist, returning balance between the two duelists. (Pandora LP 7400 → 4400)     

Red Dragon Decks Before They Were Cool

My final attempt at making the best Forbidden Memories Deck without cheats:

Red Nova
Monsters:
3x Meteor B. Dragon
3x Blue-Eyes White Dragon
3x Metalzoa
3x Skull Knight
3x Zoa

Equip Spells:
3x Megamorph
3x Bright Castle
3x Dragon Treasure
3x Dark Energy 
3x Malevolent Nuzzler
3x Violet Crystal

Normal Spells:
3x Raigeki
1x Dark Hole

Traps:
3x Widespread Ruin

The primary attackers of this Deck are Meteor B. Dragon and Blue-Eyes White Dragon, both of which have the Sun to counter the Moon of Gate Guardian. Metalzoa, Skull Knight, and Zoa are secondary attackers. Skull Knight and Zoa are very important since it has Mercury to counter the Sun of Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon.

The Equip Spells exist to power up the two “classes” of monster in this Deck: bright fiery dragons and brutish creatures of darkness. All three of my weaker monsters (Metalzoa, Skull Knight, Zoa) can be powered up by the same Equip Spells. Meteor B. Dragon and Blue-Eyes White Dragon don’t have as many options but they don’t need as many Equip Spells to become strong enough to challenge a Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon.

Widespread Ruin has many uses. It is a good first move to buy you some time. You can protect yourself later in the game from a Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon or Gate Guardian in the event your opponent draws them. By having only 15 monsters, I trim my Deck of redundant monsters and enjoy Widespread Ruin while being consistent.

Raigeki is staple while Dark Hole can also get rid of your opponent’s back row.

Less Conventional Decks

These Decks like to take their time, preferring to wear the opponent down over a long time rather than bludgeon them to death with a hammer.

Dancer’s Strike
Deck Master: Dancing Elf
Deck Cost: 757

Monsters:
3x Dancing Elf
3x Weather Control
3x Leghul
3x Ooguchi 
3x Man-Eater Bug
3x Psychic Kappa
2x Roaring Ocean Snake 

Equip Spells:
3x Insect Armor with Cannon
3x Laser Cannon Armor
3x Power of Kaishin
3x Spring of Rebirth
3x Horn of Light 
2x Megamorph

Traps:
3x Mirror Wall

This is a poke Deck, the point being to teleport Leghul and Ooguchi to your opponent’s Deck Master to make a direct hit. Man-Eater Bug, Psychic Kappa, and Roaring Ocean Snake are good side monsters that also work with the many Equip Spells in this Deck. Man-Eater Bug pops a monster, Psychic Kappa makes a good scout, and Roaring Ocean Snake transforms the field to its advantage each time it battles.

Dancing Elf and Weather Report are materials to create Dark Witch for a little extra beatdown, and to make the Deck faster. Since many monsters in this Deck are weak, you can take heavy battle damage if you’re not careful. You must heavily rely on Mirror Force to protect your monsters. Since computer opponents are idiots they will keep attacking you, triggering your critical Trap Card.   

Metal Morphs 
Deck Master: Cyber-Stein
Deck Cost: 754

Monsters:
3x Labyrinth Tank
3x Blast Juggler
3x Cyber-Stein
3x Petit Moth
2x Zoa
2x Red-Eyes Black Dragon

Equip Spells:
3x Dark Energy
3x Machine Conversion Factory
3x Horn of the Unicorn
3x Megamorph
3x Cocoon of Evolution
3x Metalmorph 

Traps:
3x Mesmeric Control
3x Infinite Dismissal

This Deck relies on summoning powerful fusion Machine monsters, Metalzoa and Red-Eyes Black Metal Dragon, while powering them up to high ATK. Labyrinth Tank is another boss monster, and it can travel through Labyrinth Terrain. Cyber-Stein transforms the field to Wasteland Terrain each time it battles, Blast Juggler destroys troublesome monsters, and Petit Moth combined with Cocoon of Evolution eventually bring out Perfectly Ultimate Great Moth. 

Of all my Decks, this one is the least consistent. You often won’t have enough Star Power to summon your stronger monsters and your hand will often get clogged with Petit Moth, Cocoon of Evolution, and Metalmorph. You sometimes need to discard cards to keep your Deck running. 

Poison Ivy
Deck Master: Dark Plant
Deck Cost: 754

Monsters:
3x Laughing Flower
3x Greenkappa
3x Eyearmor
3x Kuriboh
3x Petit Moth
3x Dark Plant
3x Swordsman from a Foreign Land
3x Monster Eye
2x Leogun
2x Hinotama Soul

Equip Spells:
3x Crush Card
3x Vile Germs
3x Cocoon of Evolution

Traps:
3x Mesmeric Control

A different kind of Plant Deck, this one relies on making Crush Terrain and using monster effects over brute force. Queen of Autumn Leaves and Rose Specter of Dunn are still powerful fusions but their ATK is not a priority. Leogun and Hinotama soul fuse into Flame Cerberus, another strong side monster. Petite Moth and Cocoon of Evolution eventually make Perfectly Ultimate Great Moth, which is very useful, both as a forceful attacker and a subtle underminer of your opponent’s monsters.

The various effect monsters fulfill many functions: Greenkappa and Eyearmor mimic the ATK of the strongest monster on the field. Kuriboh insures you from damage when it battles. Monster Eye flips your opponent’s card face-up. Swordsman from a Foreign Land destroys the monster that killed it. Laughing Flower briefly turns your opponent’s creature against its maker. Dark Plant makes Crush Terrain. Hinotama Soul destroys nearby Spells and Traps when it dies.

Devilish Burn
Deck Master: Kryuel
Deck Cost: 754

Monsters:
3x Kryuel 

Normal Spells:
3x Tremendous Fire
3x Ookazi 
3x Final Flame
3x Hinotama
2x Dimension Hole
1x Just Desserts

Equip Spells:
3x Axe of Despair

Traps:
3x Invisible Wire
3x Bear Trap
3x Eatgaboon
3x Mesmeric Control
3x Tears of the Mermaid 
3x Infinite Dismissal
1x Bad Reaction to Simochi

This Deck has only three monsters: copies of Kryuel, whose purpose is to make burn Spell Cards more potent. When not hitting your opponent with direct damage you take your time setting a field of many Trap Cards to stall them, either by decreasing a monster’s ATK, spellbinding it for several turns, or killing it. Bad Reaction to Simochi counters any attempt your opponent may make to rejuvenate their atrophying Life. Dimension Hole is a last ditch escape if you need it.