Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 12

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

Duel 12 – An Axe to Grind

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

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

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

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

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

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

———————————————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

———————————————-

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

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

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

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Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 10

Duel 10 – Why No One Likes Meta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It means to get served, retard.”

“Ugh.” Го́пник indeed.

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

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

Tamas: 8000 | Stella: 8000

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Twenty seconds pass.

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

Ten seconds.

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

Five seconds.

Four.

Three.

Two.

One.

Zer-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 9

Duel 9 – Valiant Effort

Mathias: 3400 | Weevil: 6200

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mathias: 2400 | Weevil: 0

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

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

Yugioh the Dark Side of Dimensions – Duel 7

Duel 7 – Courage from the Cowardly Lion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mathias was utterly confused. “What?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That’s the spirit!”

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

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

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 5

Duel 5 – The Darkness Returns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew: 3400 || Hannibal: 5200

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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