Yugioh Endgame – Duel 28: Some Opening Thoughts

The couple easily make their way up the tallest hill near them to see a majestic but joyless panorama as they stand unwisely near a precipice. Without the metaphysical mental projections known as Ka, they are mortal as the lowest mook.   

“Why go here?” Asks a puzzled Yukio.

“I want to steal the view.” Maya answers. “Look at a granite palace or glass skyscraper. The pharaoh or executive within has great power and an even greater title, but he is caged by the walls of the very city that makes him so strong and important. I was trapped by the same walls when I was World Champion, a ‘Queen of Games’ in title only but really a slave of one game.”

“I agree; the pro dueling world sucked. Go on.” Yukio prods her.

Maya resumes, “We are domesticated animals like cows and pigs. A feral creature, a fox maybe, is not just free but sharper and stronger. It can leap in and out of the proverbial pen and steal anything it wants, even this view.”

“Is being feral the ideal?” Yukio asks, the philosophical side of him hoping for a good answer.

“Yes, and I mean ‘feral’ in an unbiased sense, as being a creature in the ‘wild’, not as a cow in a farm.” Maya says, “Maybe I should become a scaly, feathery, furry, flaming, queer of a dragon full time. I could free myself of every lame construct clouding my understanding of reality and of any dependency on others.”

Yukio casts doubt on these ideas. “You need to fight an opponent. It defines your existence. It was Matthew several years ago. Now, it is the High Mages. Then, it will be some bigshot like Yugi or Kaiba. Then, it will be some ‘secret boss’, maybe that Yifan woman. If there was no enemy to destroy, you would either destroy yourself or make humanity itself the next target.”

Maya barely raises her voice but just enough to cast the shadow of danger “I hope you can answer that riddle, because I thought about it for a long time, and I sure can’t.”

Yukio ignores the warning signs and presses on with assertions. “Speaking of ‘lame constructions’, you are a mother; you must care for our child. Who takes care of Narmer once you’ve achieved liberation? Never mind your sociopathic ramblings of eating your child; nobody will allow it, even if such an abomination was somehow perfectly reasonable.”

“Narmer’s babysitter certainly won’t be you. I don’t see you being a stay-at-home parent either.” Maya accuses her lover. “Like any other pussified leftist, you have enough critiques to write a book nobody will buy outside Williamsburg, but you are incapable of reaching solutions. I’m starting to think your sort are like housewives who must compulsively complain and gossip to somehow feel virtuous, either as a deep intellectual or oppressed victim. Poor you and Narmer, neglected by your brute ‘husband’ who has to work all day to secure the family’s future.” 

Hit by the poisonous arrow, Yukio burns in anger. “If you did not abandon our son three years ago, if you were a responsible person with empathy and not a vile bitch thirsting for power and bloodshed, you might’ve had a point. You clearly don’t care about the people in this revolution we started. You want to show some philosophical point, or beat your adversaries in a game, or prove to yourself how amazing you are to deal with whatever issues you have. You’re ‘pragmatic’, because it makes you look strong and unbothered, it justifies dominating other people, and it excuses you from dealing with people’s vulnerabilities, yours included.”   

Struck in the heart, deeply hurt, Maya retaliates. “You know nothing about the sacrifices I have to make. You will never know how heavy my heart was with sorrow when I had to leave our baby behind or how I shed so many tears they were getting on his eyes. Power and strength are all I have, but I will give it all away to save humanity from stupidly destroying itself. I have been nothing but misunderstood my entire life.”

Yukio paces back and forth, pulling his hair. Maya breathes heavily, suppressing her tears.

“Here we go again, here we go again.” Yukio sighs, “This always happens: we get hot and bothered without each other, we have sex to release the volcanic tension, then we have an ashstorm of an argument.”

“We got into a relationship at the heat of the moment before really knowing each other.” Maya dryly comments. “Narmer is the price we have paid for our mistake. I wanted a gentle and deep man to give me balance.”

“I wanted an outgoing and domineering woman to give me strength.” Yukio adds. “We thought we could compliment each other, but things may not work out like in When Harry Met Sally.” 

Maya sits cross-legged on the dirt. She picks up a stone, looking at it carefully as if deciding whether to keep it or throw it. In the end, she throws it with a heavy heart.

She tells Yukio her decision, “Let’s try things out for one more year. We should do everything in our power to change. We’ll even use Mathias as a marriage counselor for all we know.”

“I believe he’s married.” Yukio alleges. 

“That should help. If we can’t make it, we split, and,” Maya nearly renders in tears, grasping her chest as if doing so stops her crying. “And you can have Narmer.”

Yukio sits cross-legged next to Maya, and they lean on each other with closed eyes for a long time.

“So how was your date – I mean, Duel – with the High Mage?” Maya restarts the conversation with some mischief. “Pounding to death your first bad guy must have been a pretty big deal.”

Yukio recounts the entire ordeal from Arsenal Bug Squad to Orgoth the Relentless. And no, killing his first bad guy was not a big deal, since Anubisius was the kind of neckbeard he would punch in the face anyway.

“He had it easy.” Maya arrogantly snorts. “A high-ATK, beatdown idiot obsessed with preventing monster destruction is exactly the kind of opponent my Deck is designed to crush. I could have smashed his Deck so hard it would have broken in two.”

“That’s what she said.” Yukio snickers.

Maya clasps the back of her head, elbows stretched wide apart. “Speaking of giving up power, when everything is over, I will destroy all my cards and hopefully destroy the Yugioh game itself.”

Yukio is flabbergasted. “Destroying your cards? That is sacrilege! Think how it would hurt your duel monsters if not all duel monsters. Do you have no conscience? Would you not hear the cry of the souls of your servants?”

Incredulous at such talk, Maya brandishes her Sirens. “These creatures manage the fabric of eleven-dimensional spacetime. They are the Fates themselves, holding precedence over any god. Not even Zeus can change their decrees, let alone a brutish Nordic god like Thor or an invincible Egyptian god like Ra. Tearing up pieces of cardboard paper can’t hurt them.”

Yukio has nothing more to say. The blasphemer has a point.

“My ‘sacrilege’ concerns a larger point.” Maya explains, “Back in the day, the story molded the game, and the opponents were mirrors of each other’s hearts. Takashi and the screenwriters made the game reflect the characters and their conflicts, external and internal, the ‘battle of their souls’. Now, the cancerous game molds the story, and it’s crushed by a burdensome meta. Hopefully, I’m chemo Yugioh desperately needs.”

“That’s like a doctor curing a patient of his brain tumor by shooting him in the face.” Yukio remarks. 

“Oh, well. A man can’t have a migraine if he’s dead.” Maya glibly asserts. “I honestly hope no one plays this stupid game ever again after all is said and done. More trouble than it’s worth.”

Maya turns Yukio’s head to face you and the rest of the audience. “Season Four is so big we must split it in two parts like with the last Harry Potter movie. We’re on the last page. Would you like to tell the readers how you feel about the story so far?”

“Excuse me, but I did not consent to this!” Yukio huffs, but he calms down when he sees this is Duel 28 and realizes Season Four is nowhere near done, then he offers criticism. “There is an awkward tone imbalance between pretentious political commentary and fourth-wall jokes. The High Mages are flat characters, really satires of various political viewpoints and obstacles the noble heroes must defeat to get the Millennium McGuffins. There is little character development: I’m still a morality pet, Mathias remains a cool uncle with nothing better to do, Kaiba stays constipated, Pegasus didn’t get any straighter, and Maya remains… a third-rate duelist with a fourth-rate deck.” 

Maya glocks Yukio on the arm so hard the poor man limps away in pain, then she gives her take. “The author doesn’t understand the nuts and bolts of geopolitics very much, and I have no idea why [redacted anonymous] would put such garbage in a Yukio fanfic of all things. How does anyone go from wanting to write a cool fanfic to typing whatever this is? I would say ‘penning’, but it suggests a smug ‘literati’ or an introspective fool from two hundred years ago writing some novel, which is more cluelessly outdated than socialism. [Redacted] needs to think more about philosophy and transhumanism, specifically how technology, machine intelligence, and spacetime/virtual/dimension exploration can change the very nature of our species, but [redacted] must crunch out the remaining Seasons ASAP.”

“Perhaps we should put down the subjects of the next ‘book’.” Yukio suggests from a corner.

“Good idea.” Maya agrees. “We should do the following: develop me and Kaiba by forcing us to deal with our daddy issues, make Yukio deal with his mommy issues so he grows a pair, bring in more Saints (Mathias’ comrades for those who don’t know about Path of Virtue) and OG Yugioh characters, track Sofie’s evolution and conversely Yifan’s devolution, get me to more often fight Maria or whatever the Kisara expy’s name is, make something come out of Kaiba’s dimension exploration as long as it stays concise and doesn’t become Arc-V cancer.”

Yukio adds, “The ‘heavy’ subjects with philosophy or politics are fine indulgences, but ultimately character development is the most important part here. A balanced exploration of themes and character development work better in a ‘real’ book.”

“One last thing.” Maya concludes, “I will make a point how spiritual development is fit for individuals and not for societies. You can’t evolve or awaken humanity as a collective. The most you can do is burn a trail as a ‘spiritual leader’ and get people to follow a trend, but that trend ultimately becomes another dogma or institution. Humanity cannot follow you.”

That said, Yukio clasps the Millennium Key still hanging around his neck, channeling all his Ka into the object until it shatters. Two Millennium Items down, five more to go. 

Created Cards – Duels 25-27


Dungeon Dice Master
DARK/Level 1/Spellcaster/0 ATK/0 DEF
When destroyed and sent to the GY; you can banish this card: roll a six-sided die, and apply the appropriate effect. 1 or 2: Special Summon 1 monster with a six-sided die effect from your hand or GY. 3 or 4: Return 1 card with a six-sided die effect from your GY to your hand. 5 or 6: Special Summon 1 Level 4 or lower monster with a six-sided die effect from the Deck.

Dungeon Dice Arena
Field Spell
Once per turn: if either player(s) rolls a die (or dice) (except for this card’s effect), you can have the player(s) re-roll. Once per turn: if a card with a six-sided die effect is targeted by a card effect; roll a six-sided die, then, if the result is 4,5, or 6, negate the card effect. Once per turn: if this card is destroyed by your opponent’s card effect; roll a six-sided die, and apply the appropriate effect. 1 or 2: Shuffle a card with a six-sided die effect (except this card) from the GY into the Deck, then, draw 1 card. 3 or 4: Shuffle 2 cards with a six-sided die effect you control into the Deck (reveal the card(s) if face down), then, draw 2 cards. 5 or 6: Reveal all cards with a six-sided die effect in your hand, and shuffle them into the Deck, then, draw the same number of cards shuffled +1.

Gator Dragon
EARTH/Level 6/Dragon/1600 ATK/1800 DEF
Can be Special Summoned if your opponent controls monster(s) and you control none. If this card battles: roll a six-sided die, and apply the appropriate effect. 1, 3, 5: Increase this card’s ATK by half the DEF of one monster on the field (except this card). 2, 4, 6: Increase this card’s DEF by half the ATK of one monster on the field (except this card).

Warp Gate
Continuous Trap
Once per turn: if a monster you control with a six-sided die effect would be destroyed by battle, it is not destroyed, then, shuffle that monster into the Deck, and Special Summon 1 Level 6 or lower monster with a six-sided die effect from the Deck.

WIND/Level 2/Dragon/ATK 1200/DEF 600
If destroyed by battle: Special Summon 1 Level 4 or lower monster with a six-sided die effect from the Deck. During either player’s Battle Phase: you can banish this card card from your field or GY and other Synchro Materials you control to Synchro Summon 1 Synchro monster.

Blast Lizard
EARTH/Level 4/Reptile/ATK 1200/DEF 1200
Once during either player’s turn: roll a six-sided die, and apply the appropriate effect. 1, 2, 3: destroy 1 monster your opponent controls. 4, 5, 6: destroy 1 Spell/Trap your opponent controls.

Knight of Twin Swords
EARTH/Level 4/Warrior/ATK 1600/DEF 1600
When this card battles, you can roll a six-sided die 3 times, and this card gains ATK/DEF equal to the total x100 during the Damage Step, then, if 2 of the results were the same, double this card’s original ATK/DEF during the Damage Step. If all 3 were the same, this card can attack again in a row.

Thursday, the 12th Grave
DARK/Level 10/Zombie/ATK 0/DEF 0
SYNCHRO: 1 Tuner + 1 or more non-Tuner monsters
Once during either player’s turn: target 1 monster; send it to the GY, and this card’s original ATK/DEF becomes the target monster’s ATK/DEF until the end of the turn.

Grandmaster Strike Ninja
DARK/Level 6/Warrior/ATK 2450
Can shuffle 2 banished monsters with six-sided die effects into the Deck to Special Summon this card from your hand. If this card battles or is targeted by a card effect: you can roll a six-sided die 3 times and this card gains ATK/DEF equal to the total x100 until the end of your opponent’s turn, then, if 2 of the results were the same, banish this card until the end of the turn, and end the current Phase. (When this card returns to the field, its ATK/DEF remains increased.)

Iron Golem Gorogon
EARTH/Level 6/Rock/ATK 1000/DEF 1000
Once during either player’s turn: roll a six-sided die. Treat all columns as numbers 1-5, counting from your right, and destroy all cards within the same column as the result (except this card). If the result is 6, roll again.

Twin-Headed Dragonlych
DARK/Level 3/Zombie/ATK 1000/DEF 1600
Once per turn: you can roll a six-sided die 2 times, and this card gains ATK/DEF equal to the total x100 until the end of your opponent’s next turn, then, if 2 of the results were the same, apply the appropriate effect. 1 or 2: Your opponent takes any battle damage you would have taken from battles involving this card instead this turn. 3 or 4: Can attack your opponent directly this turn. 5 or 6: Can attack twice this turn.

Poltergeist Calamity
Activate when your opponent attacks with a monster with the highest ATK on the field. The effects of all monsters on the field during this card’s activation are negated this turn. Target 1 monster your opponent controls: destroy it, and if you do, Special Summon as many “Poltergeist Tokens” (DARK/Level 1/Fiend/ATK 800/DEF 800) as possible. “Poltergeist Tokens” must always be in Attack Position. A monster that battles a “Poltergeist Token” is destroyed at the start of the Damage Step, and its controller takes 800 damage. Destroy a “Poltergeist Token” that battled after the Damage Step.

Wizard Dragon
LIGHT/Level 6/Dragon/ATK 2400/DEF 1800
Also treated as a Spellcaster monster when on the field.
If Summoned: you can roll a six-sided die 3 times, then, if 2 of the results were the same, apply the appropriate effect. 1, 2, 3: destroy all monsters (except this card). 4, 5, 6: destroy all Spells/Traps. If all 3 were the same: destroy all cards (except this card), and this effect cannot be Chained or negated.

Dark Eye Stalker
DARK/Level 1/Fiend/ATK 350/DEF 300
If Summoned: you can roll a six-sided die 2 times, then, if 2 of the results were the same, target 1 monster your opponent controls; take control of it until the End Phase.

Star Blaster (Errata)
Target 1 face-up monster you control, and roll a six-sided die. Increase its Level by the die result, then, you can Tribute it to Special Summon 1 monster from the Deck with an equal Level.

Armed Wizard Pazoo
LIGHT/Level 8/Warrior/ATK 0/DEF 0
Also treated as a Spellcaster monster when on the field. During either player’s Battle Phase: you can equip this card to 1 monster you control with a six-sided die effect. A monster equipped with this card gains ATK equal to the ATK of the monster it battles, and it cannot be destroyed.


Lost Sanctuary
Field Spell
Once per turn: you can Special Summon 1 Insect monster from your hand. If this card or exactly 1 Insect monster you control would be destroyed by a card effect; you can send 1 Insect monster from your hand or field to the GY: negate the effect.

Arsenal Bug Squad
EARTH/Level 3/Insect/ATK 2000/DEF 2000
If Normal or Special Summoned: you can equip 1 this card with Insect monster from your Deck. If this card would be destroyed by a card effect; you can send 1 card equipped to this card of the same Card Type to the GY: this card is not destroyed.

Empress Ladybug of Life
EARTH/Level 8/Insect/ATK 1000/DEF 2000
Pendulum Scale 12
If you would take damage from a direct attack while this card is in the GY: you gain that amount of LP instead, then, Special Summon this monster from the GY. Once per turn: you can target 1 Insect monster your control; that monster becomes Level 8.

Pendulum Effect
Once per turn: target 1 Insect monster you control; it cannot be destroyed by card effects.

Dimension Hopper
EARTH/Level 4/Insect/ATK 1200/DEF 1000
Cannot be Normal Summoned/Set. Special Summon this card by banishing 1 Insect monster in your GY while you control no other monsters. Tribute this card: Special Summon 2 banished Insect monsters.

Dimension Difusion Distortion
Pay half your LP, then, target 2 or more monsters you control. Special Summon as many monsters from your Deck and Extra Deck as possible by using the targeted monsters as Tributes or Materials. The effects of monsters Special Summoned from the Extra Deck by this card’s effect are negated until the end of the turn. 

Perfectly Polymorphous Great Moth
WATER/Level 8/Insect/ATK 3500/DEF 3000
FUSION: 2 Level 8 or higher Insect monsters
Once per turn: you can shuffle into the Deck 1 monster your opponent Special Summoned from the Extra Deck; gain LP equal to that monster’s ATK. For the rest of the turn, monsters of that same Extra Deck Type cannot be Special Summoned.

Perfectly Polyharmonic Great Moth
LIGHT/Level 8/Insect/ATK 3500/DEF 3000
SYNCHRO: 1 Insect Tuner + 1 or more Insect non-Tuner monsters
Can be Synchro Summoned using 2 Level 8 Insect monsters.
Once per turn: if your opponent activates a monster effect that targets or would destroy an Insect monster you control; negate the activation, and destroy it, then, increase this card’s ATK by its ATK. If this card battles a Level 5 or higher effect monster: increase this card’s ATK by its ATK during the Damage Step.

Perfectly Polydimensional Great Moth
FIRE/Level 8/Insect/ATK 3500/DEF 3000
Once per turn: your opponent activates a Spell/Trap that would destroy more than 1 Insect monster you control: you can negate the activation, and if you do, attach it to this card as Xyz Material. During the Damage Step: you can detach 2 Xyz Materials, and if you do, double this card’s ATK.

Perfectly Penultimate Great Moth
WIND/Level 8/Insect/ATK 3500/DEF 3000
Pendulum Scale 4
If this card would be destroyed: you can place it in a Pendulum Zone instead, and if you do, place 1 Pendulum Insect monster from your GY into the other Pendulum Zone.

Pendulum Effect
Once per turn: you can shuffle 1 Insect monster you control into the Deck, then, add 1 Pendulum Insect monster with 2000 or less ATK from the Deck to your hand.

Perfectly Polychannel Great Moth
DARK/Level 8/Insect/ATK 3500/DEF 3000
LINK 6 (top-left, top, top-right, bottom-left, bottom, bottom-right)  
Can treat Level 8 or higher Insect monsters you control as Link 3 Materials when Link Summoning this card. Monsters this card’s Link Arrows point to can forgo “once per turn” effect limits.

Giant Green Glowworm
EARTH/Level 10/Insect/1900 ATK/ 1300 DEF
If Summoned: Special Summon as many Insect monsters of different Extra Deck Types from the GY as possible (their original ATK/DEF become 0, and their effects are negated). Double this card’s ATK for each Extra Deck Insect monster you control. If this card would be destroyed by card effect, you can return 1 Extra Deck Insect monster you control into the Extra Deck, and this card is not destroyed. 

Mimetic Evolution
Quick-Play Spell
Target 1 Insect monster: double its ATK/DEF until the End Phase.

Class System (errata)
Quick-Play Spell
If a monster your opponent controls battles a monster you control with an equal or greater Level: negate the attack and its effect(s).

Yugioh Endgame – Duel 27: Jolly Green Giantworm


Yukio traded two cards with Mathias and Maya before the raid on Anubisius’ poppy plantation, one trap from each respectively. Yukio knows what to do. If everything works out, he can overcome his opponent and claim the Millennium Key.

“My comrade and my partner, please lend me your strength through your cards.” Yukio impleads.

ANUBISIUS’ TURN: “Your death happens now. Perfectly Polyharmonic Great Moth, slay Dragolich!” Anubisius commands. 

As the silvery white moth closes in, Yukio activates Dragolich, rolling “5”, “5”, and “6”. With his monster’s power unlocked, Yukio targets Polyharmonic Moth to receive Dragolich’s rotting breath.

“You idiot! I activate Polyharmonic Moth to negate!” Anubisius thunders, his moth blowing away Dragolich by greeting a wall of wind with its wings.

“Now for Maya’s card! I activate Poltergeist Calamity (Trap) to negate all monsters on the field!” Yukio commands, a host of smokey-colored ghosts flood the field, threatening to envelop Anubisiys’ entire army.

“You don’t learn, do you? My board is unbreakable; I can stop anything you throw at me. I activate Perfectly Polydimensional Great Moth to negate your Trap!” Anubisius announces, and his black moth glows a fiery gold at the wings, preparing to dispel all gods with the powers of light.   

“I have one more trick up my sleeve, Mathias’ card: Divine Wrath (Counter Trap)!” Yukio declares, discarding a card, conjuring a lightning bolt that smites Polydimensional Moth to death.

“Dear Allah, no!” Anubisius cries out in loss and disbelief as Poltergeist Calamity resolves, the ghosts draining the life force of all his monsters.

The ghosts now burrow inside the Polyharmonic Moth to feast on its soul. A moment later, having finished their dinner inside the house of their kind host, the guests burst out as viruses rupturing from a cell and gather on Yukio’s field as four Tokens (ATK 800). 

Anubisius refuses to give up, grumbling, “I’m not beaten yet, you pathetic beta male. Perfectly Penultimate Great Moth, destroy Dragolich.”

Anubisius’ red moth burns Dragolich with winds of fire, though it remains standing (Yukio LP 3150 → 650).

“I activate Warp Gate to shuffle Dragolich into my Deck and Special Summon Wizard Dragon (2400 ATK) from my Deck!” Yukio declares, and out comes a purple dragon, short and stocky, with tense with great magical power bottled up inside. “And I use its effect!”

Three large purple dice appear, rolling “2”, “6”, “4”. Yukio activates Dungeon Dice Arena to roll again, praying his hardest to whatever dice god exists not to let him down. He rolls “6”, “6”, and “6”. He jumps for so much joy his face and chin become comically creepy, for Wizard Dragon gets to unleash its most devastating power. The dragon bursts with the energy of an atomic weapon, wiping out EVERY CARD on the field, its magical energies so strong no player can Chain against it.

“I call cheating! Judge! Judge! JUDGE!” Anubisius shouts in disbelief while his entire board breaks. 

“I actually got 666 on a dice roll. That was hilarious.” Yukio says, eager to rub salt on his opponent’s wound.

“I’m not amused.” Anubisius angrily mutters.

Yukio snickers, “I didn’t break your board so much as smash the entire table Francis style. You gotta’ admit, that was pretty wizard.”

“Please shut up. It’s never coming back.”

“That’s what you think! I’m bringing it back one meme at a time!”

“Just go.” Anubisius grunts, setting a card and ending his turn.

YUKIO’S TURN: “Last turn was two pages long. How tedious. Wizard Dragon, direct attack!”

Draining Shield (Trap)!” Anubisius reverses, conjuring a barrier, converting Wizard Dragon’s attack into Life Points (Anubisius LP 68 → 2468).

“Oh, fiddlesticks.” Yukio laments. “I activate One Day of Peace (Spell). We both draw a card, and I activate the Foolish Burial (Spell) I drew immediately, milling a monster. I end my turn.”

ANUBISIUS’ TURN: “I use my two Pendulum Monsters to Special Summon a monster from my hand.”Anubisius says.

“Wait, what Pendulum Monsters?” Yukio asks, noticing the two numbered columns behind Anubisius for the first time.

“My Perfectly Penultimate Great Moth.” Anubisius explains. “If it would be destroyed, I can transfer it to a Pendulum Zone instead, and once that happens it lets me put a Pendulum Monster in my Graveyard into a Pendulum Zone as well. I have Penultimate Moth at Scale 4 over here and Empress Ladybug at Scale 12 over there.”

Yukio makes an educated guess. “I assume you’ll most likely Special Summon a Level 8 or Level 10 monster from your hand.”

“You assume correctly.” Anubisius confirms. “I use my Pendulum Monsters to Special Summon the ultimate Insect lurking in Deck, Giant Green Glowworm (ATK 1900)!” 

A large pendulum appears and ponderously swings between the two columns, creating a gateway where the greatest of Anubisius’ monsters appears. No sooner is it summoned does its effect activate, reviving four of Anubisius’ monsters: Perfectly Polymorphous Great Moth (ATK 3500 → 0), Perfectly Polyharmonic Great Moth (ATK 3500 → 0), Perfectly Polydimensional Great Moth (ATK 3500 → 0), and Perfectly Polychannel Great Moth (ATK 3500 → 0).  

“Don’t worry about the moths. Their ATK is 0 and they lose their effects; they can’t hurt you.” Anubisius assures his rival before switching his tone. “But my Glowworm can; its ATK doubles for each Extra Deck Insect Monster out on the field.”

Yukio watches in horror as Giant Green Glowworm bursts with power, its strength rising exponentially (Glowworm ATK 1900 → 3800 → 7600 → 15,200). If Anubisius did not wear a mask, Yukio would see the smuggest face in his life.

Anubisius continues, “On that note, I activate Card of Sanctity (Spell) to refill my hand, then Heavy Storm (Spell) to destroy your back row.”

“But your Pendulum Monsters die too!” Yukio protests as every Spell and Trap in play is brushed away.  

“They are useless now. Glowworm, destroy Wizard Dragon!” Anubisius’ word becomes action, his monster swallowing Wizard Dragon with ease.

Unlike his monster, Yukio is spared any damage since One Day of Peace remains in effect. Anubisius Sets no less than 5 cards in the back row, confident in his impending victory.

YUKIO’S TURN: Yukio considers his hand carefully. All the pieces for a one turn kill are in place, courtesy of his opponent no less. Now is the time to go all in. Win or lose, live or die, succeed or fail; now is the time.

“I Normal Summon Dark Eye Stalker (ATK 350) and use its effect.” Yukio conjures a black, one-eyed fiend, rolling “2” and “1”.

A failure to control Glowworm, but it was worth giving a shot.

“I activate Star Blaster (Spell) and target Dark Eye Stalker!” Yukio declares, and he rolls “6”, so he Tributes his monster to Special Summon the ogre-sized demigod, Orgoth the Relentless (ATK 2500), from the Deck. “And I activate Orgoth’s effect.” 

Yukio casts three dice in the air, praying, “Come on, in the name of Joey and every protagonist’s best friend! For the love of Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, Park Slope, Coney Island, and all other things Brooklyn! Lady Luck, don’t fail me now!”

He rolls “1”, “1”, and “3”. YES! Orgoth grows in strength and gains immunity from destruction (ATK 2500 → 3000).    

“Snake eyes. How pitiful.” Anubisius sneers, but Yukio ignores him.

With courage emboldened, Yukio activates four more cards. “Monster Reborn (Spell) to revive the monster I milled last turn, Armed Wizard Pazoo (ATK 0)! I equip Orgoth with Diamond Blade (Equip Spell), a second Diamond Blade (Equip Spell), and a third Diamond Blade (Equip Spell)!”

Three enormous swords, clear as glass but indestructible, appear and fuse together, giving Orgoth an even bigger sword to wield (ATK 3000 → 6000 → 12,000 → 24,000). Anubisius raises an eyebrow, but is otherwise self-assured.  

“Orgoth, attack!” Yukio charges, and his demigod rushes to battle.

Glowworm violently strikes at Orgoth, but Orgoth gains the upper hand by impaling Glowworm through the head.

“No matter how hard you try, you will never be anything more than a beta male next to me.” Anubisius states. “I activate Mimetic Evolution (Quick-Play Spell), a second Mimetic Evolution (Quick-Play Spell), and a third Mimetic Evolution (Quick-Play Spell)!”

Glowworm triples in size, turning from merely phosphorous to blazing as the sun, and ensnares Orgoth with its newfound strength (ATK 15,200 → 30,400 → 60,800 → 121,600). 

“My ATK is bigger than your ATK.” Anubisius concludes. “The goddess of victory chooses only the strongest man, and I am that man. You lose.”

Yukio refuses to die without a fight. “This is the biggest dick-measuring contest in Yugioh since forever, and there’s no way in Hell I’m losing. I activate Armored Wizard Pazoo and equip Orgoth so it gains your monster’s ATK.”

The cute Pazoo reconfigures into a sword and casts itself onto Orgoth’s free hand. Orgoth was on the brink of death, its ribs crushing, its breath leaving. Armed with an extra weapon, Orgoth stabs Glowworm through the gut, forcing the creature to let him go (ATK 24,000 → 145,600).

“No! No!” Anubisius angrily stamps his foot, humiliated, forced to cut his losses. “I activate Class System (Quick-Play Spell) to negate your attack!”

Glowworm swats Orgoth away with its tail, adjourning the battle.

“You can’t run away from me, coward!” Yukio fumes. “I activate Double or Nothing! (Quick-Play Spell)! Orgoth gets to attack again!”

The demigod charges into battle once more.

“No! No! I activate Mirror Force (Trap)!” Anubisius shrieks with eyes wide open in fear, springing his final line of defense, the holy barrier blocking the tip of Orgoth’s sword.

Yukio remains high-spirited. “Remember the ‘pathetic snake eyes’ I rolled? It protects Orgoth from all destruction. If you were smart, you’d have a less obsolete Trap Card. Orgoth is like diamond: powerful, indestructible, pure, supreme. You have no chance.”

Orgoth presses on, driving its blades deeper and deeper past the holy barrier, which tries harder and harder to reflect the attack back on Orgoth, but Orgoth presses onward. The demigod pushes both swords to the other side and breaks past the holy barrier, shattering it like it was a glass mirror. Orgoth closes in on Glowworm, its ATK doubling during the Damage Step (ATK 145,600 → 271,200), and slashes the great beast into four pieces (Anubisius LP 2468 → 0). 


He stops, making Yukio think he finally stopped, but he is only regaining breath.


Yukio covers his ears in anguish, unable to relish a fresh victory. “Can you please stop? You already lost and -”


Anubisius falls, dead. The Shadow Game took his life, much to Yukio’s relief.


With his rival gone, Yukio claims the Millennium Key as his spoils of war. Realizing this chapter is already on the sixth page and the Momentum Generator is near exploding, Yukio calls upon his Ka to refit him with the metaphysical armor of Number 39: Utopia. He considers for an instant whether to leave the Millennium Key, letting the atomic blast destroy it for him, but he decides against it. The Millennium Items can be completely indestructible by normal means for all he knows, so he should not take the chance.

Yukio grabs the Millenium Key, and desperately trying to find Hassan, Mathias, and Maya but failing to do so, he reluctantly flies up and away as far as he could, fleeing the nuclear armageddon behind him. He darts with supernatural speed over the Middle East, breaking past the sound barrier, and arriving at the refugee camp outside Cairo within an hour. His powers spent and anxious whether his comrades survived, he collapses to the ground. Several hours later, he wakes up in the Valley of the Kings under the watchful eyes of his comrades, clutching the Millennium Key as if in a death grip.

All the Egyptian comrades welcome Yukio back. Mathias nearly breaks his ribs in a bear hug and slaps him on the back. Hassan clasps his shoulder and congratulates him. Maya embraces him with kisses everywhere. Hassan breaks bread in lieu of giving a toast to Yukio, and everyone has dinner, sharing the big adventure they had as if it was a weekend outing and not a revolution ending civilization as they know it.

Maya, burning with lust, tugs Yukio into a small tent, and an equally fiery Yukio follows her, both eager to relieve the massive tension pent up from their recent adventure. Many sweet moments of kissing, rubbing, grabbing, pushing, and releasing later, the couple falls asleep in the realm of dead kings. They forgoe breakfast the next morning, awkwardly silent as if they have no idea who the other really is or why they have sex to begin with.  

Woman and man wait for the other to break the silence neither understand, the woman in building irritation, the man in tightening anxiety. Strumming her fingers on the ground, the woman decides to make the first move. The woman always makes the first move.

“Come with me. I need to share something with you.” Maya says, pointing to the highest crest she can find. “Meet me on top of the hill.”

Yugioh Endgame – Duel 26: The Pique of Anubis

YUKIO: 3500 | ANUBISIUS: 9200

ANUBISIUS’ TURN: As Anubisius knows, while Yukio has a Zombie monster that is indeed rare and powerful, he enjoys a huge Life advantage. It is only a matter of time and attrition before Yukio dries into dust like the corpse he controls. 

Anubisius announces, “I banish Ultra Cocoon of Evolution (Quick-Play Spell) from the Graveyard to shuffle Doom Dozer into the Deck and draw a card. Now, I Normal Summon Arsenal Bug Squad (ATK 2000) and use its effect to equip it with Illumine Dragonfly from the Deck.” 

His board recovers due to another Insect – actually, thousands.

“I’m returning Thursday back to the grave. Empress Ladybug, pulverize it!”

As the majestic red creature executes the assault, Yukio has no choice but to counter, “I use Thursday’s effect!” 

The giant corpse fells Empress Ladybug with a ghastly spell (banishes because of her effect), then gains her ATK (0 → 1200), which Anubisius planned since he hammers on, “Arsenal Bug Squad, put the dead man down.”

One giant man, no matter how big, loses against the multitude (Yukio LP 3500 → 2700).

Anubisius quips, “Now that is a zombie killer who won’t be in any sequels.” 

“Not gonna lie, that was somewhat clever the way you exploited my monster’s weakness.” Yukio begrudgingly admits to his opponent.

“Of course!” Anubisius scoffs. “Now make your move, young fool, so I can punish you for ever nursing in your heart the audacity to challenge me in a children’s card game.”

YUKIO’S TURN: “As you wish.” Yukio sighs, drawing.

He commands the dangerous bingo machine to start rolling, which it does by pulling its own crank. The result is “1”, so Yukio activates Dungeon Dice Arena to give himself a second chance. Now the machine rolls “5”, and Arsenal Bug Squad spontaneously combusts into a thousand sparks that look like fireflies in the summer night.

“I shuffle the banished Blast Lizard and Knight of Twin Swords to my Deck to Special Summon Grandmaster Strike Ninja (ATK 2450)!” Yukio conjures a tall, wirey, and strong man in tight black clothes.

“Ninja, attack!” Yukio cries, and his monster skillfully hits Anubisius with shurikens at blinding speed (Anubisius 9200 → 6750).

Yukio sets a card and ends his turn.

ANUBISIUS’ TURN: “I set a monster and a back row. My turn ends.”

YUKIO’S TURN: “Dangerous Machine Type-6, spin!” Yukio shouts. The bingo machine rolls “3”, and Yukio draws a card. “Grandmaster Strike Ninja, destroy the facedown monster!”

Chucking a large dagger, the ninja cleaves through the facedown card and the 4-Starred Ladybug of Doom (DEF 1200). With his opponent’s flimsy guard out of the way, Yukio sets two cards and ends his turn. 

ANUBISIUS’ TURN: “If I don’t draw the card I need right now, I’m done for.” Anubisius grumbles. “Might as well believe in the heart of the cards. I draw!”

Yukio cannot help but feel something is wrong. Things are too easy. No way is he going to win soon. This yugioh story does not work like that.

Anubisius happily shouts, “I play Pot of Greed (Spell)! What does it do? Does it do things? Let’s find out!” 

He draws two cards, then continues, “I banish 4-Starred Ladybug from the Graveyard to Special Summon Dimension Hopper (ATK 1200), and I tribute it to Special Summon two banished Insects and make their Level 8!”

A large grasshopper with wings glowing the colors of the rainbow appears, then warps out of existence to bring back Empress Ladybug and 4-Starred Ladybug of Doom. Furthermore, Anubisius uses the effect of Empress Ladybug (Level 8) to make 4-Starred Ladybug of Doom a Level 8 monster.

“Now witness the most powerful card I own! Behold, DIMENSION DIFUSION DISTORTION (Spell)!!! I pay half my Life and use my two monsters as Material to perform every kind of Extra Deck Summon at once!”

Yukio has never heard this card before, and the very idea stretches believability. “Can you say that again? I was not listening -”

“I Fusion Summon Perfectly Polymorphous Great Moth (ATK 3500), Synchro Summon Perfectly Polyharmonic Great Moth (ATK 3500), Xyz Summon Perfectly Polydimensional Great Moth (ATK 3500), Link Summon Perfectly Polychannel Great Moth (ATK 3500), Special Summon from the Deck Perfectly Penultimate Great Moth (ATK 3500), and Special Summon from the Graveyard Perfectly Ultimate Great Moth (ATK 3500)!” 

A monstrous storm of different colors batters the entire field from the six titanic moths beating their great wings of violet, white, black, blue, purple, and red shades. 

Yukio stares flabbergasted. “What in the name of CedarFresh Household Essentials did you just do?”

“I summoned a bunch of monsters in one turn.” Anubisius explains. “It’s perfectly within the rules. It happens in this game all the time.”

“I mean, how did you – I mean, a Fusion and Synchro at the same time – I mean -” Yukio gives up. “It was rhetorical.”

“Of course.” Anubisius sarcastically answers. “You probably think this card is worse than Mystic Mine, but it gives you some breathing room. All my monsters’ effects are negated this turn.”

“Thanks. I’m going to need it.”

“Thank me after you lose, and die. Perfectly Ultimate Great Moth, attack Grandmaster Strike Ninja!” Anubisius shouts to begin his assault, and his servant bats its wings to create a poisonous storm.

Yukio activates his ninja’s effect. Three dice appear, and they roll “2”, “6”, “1”. Yukio activates Dungeon Dice Arena to reroll, but he gets “3”, “2”, “1”. (ATK 2450 → 3150) With such bad luck causing the ninja to fail twice in saving itself, Yukio must use another measure.

“I activate Quaking Mirror Force (Trap)!” Yukio retorts.

“And I activate Solemn Judgment (Counter Trap)!” Anubisius refutes him, causing the familiar Biblical sages to appear and negate Yukio’s trap with divine magic (Anubisius LP 3375 → 1668).

With nothing left to stop it, Perfectly Ultimate Great Moth erodes Grandmaster Strike Ninja with its poisonous wings (Yukio LP 3500 → 3150) – yet the ninja has not died.

“I use Warp Gate to protect my monster.” Yukio says. “I shuffle Grandmaster Strike Ninja to the Deck and Special Summon Iron Golem Gorogon (DEF 1000).”

Anubisius scoffs, “Your little black ball can’t save you. Perfectly Penultimate Great Moth, wipe it out!”

Now the oversized moth with scarlett wings hurls a storm of fire, but Yukio activates Negate Attack (Counter Trap), absorbing all damage. Anubisius stamps his foot in annoyance. He has a full board and he could not win!?

“I activate Sixth Sense, and I call ‘5’ and ‘6’!” Yukio declares, seizing his last change before the turn ends, and he rolls a “6”, letting him draw 6 cards!

“I call cheating! Judge! Judge! JUDGE!” Anubisius shouts in indignation, raising his hand like a referee. 

“Says the guy who used a card that makes Yata look balanced.” Yukio scorns his opponent while flipping him off. 

“Mock me while you can, the tide turns as soon as this round ends and my mega monsters gain their effects.” Anubisius grumbles.

YUKIO’S TURN: “I activate Dangerous Machine Type-6.” Yukio beings. “Ready, roll!”

The bingo machine pulls its own crank, setting itself off, rolling  “4”. Dissatisfied, Yukio evokes Dungeon Dice Arena to retry his luck, but he rolls “6”. The bingo machine explodes, destroying itself.

“It’s not called a dangerous machine for no reason.” Yukio remarks, shielding himself from the blast. “Now, I activate Gorogon! This guy destroys all cards on a certain trajectory depending on what I roll!”

Anubisius scoffs at Yukio’s nativity, wagging his finger, “You forgot my monsters already? I activate Perfectly Polyharmonic Great Moth to negate and destroy your monster!”

“Which one is that again?” Yukio queries. “The names are ridiculously complicated.” 

“The Synchro one.” Anubisius reminds him, and with that his white moth clasps onto Gorogon, destroying it by sucking its life away. (ATK 3500 → 4500)

“Very well. Let’s try again. Dark Hole (Spell)!”

“I detach for the Xyz moth’s effect.” Anubisius declares, and his ashen moth incenerates Yukio’s holographic card with a fiery windstorm, destroying the Spell at its source.

Yukio blusters, distraught and frustrated, “I play Raigeki (Spell)!” 

“And I detach to activate my Xyz moth again courtesy of my Link moth, which lets me forgo a ‘once per turn’ restriction on a card effect.” Anubisius replies, cool and smug, and the next Spell dries up before a single lightning bolt appears.

Nearly defeated, Yukio falls on his knees to his rival’s delight.

Anubisius roars with deep laughter, “What a noob! Thinking nuke cards could actually break my unbeatable board! I have swarming, high ATK, and effect protection all covered!”

Yukio gets lost in the ocean of his mind, and the images of himself, Maya, and Mathias battling as a trio float to the surface. He has always feared being the weakest link, the goofy King Ghidora head, the Ron Weasley, the Slifer, the Bubbles, the Sarah Sanderson, the Karen Smith. He tries thinking of other examples to entertain you, dear reader, but he frankly ran out of ideas.  

Now Anubisius gives his rhetorical question, asking, “Before you kill yourself – in a video game, of course – answer me, what made you possibly think you could challenge me? A simp like you, who slavishly follows a woman, makes a weak and foolish man. You let a woman order men to die in war. I don’t even let women drive.”

Yukio does not know what infuriates him more, Anubisius’ clear ignorance of his love life or the misogyny in general. Not even realizing it, he is once more on his feet.

He shoots back, “First, I fought with Maya plenty of times, and I’m seriously thinking about breaking up with her and taking my son with me because her moral compass is obviously compromised. Second, get your head out of your keffiyeh, and go eat a pig’s dick.”

“That’s blatant Islamophobia right there.” Anubisius points out. “If your Life Points were like your Woke Points you would’ve lost by now.”

“Like you actually care.” Yukio counters. “If anything, Islamophobia helps you since it facilitates America’s involvement in the Middle East, which profits Saudi plutocrats immensely. Boring politics aside, I Normal Summon Twin-Headed Dragonlych (ATK 1000) and use its effect.”   

Two large dice appear from nowhere and roll “1” and “5”. Displeased, Yukio activates Dungeon Dice Arena to roll again, getting “3” and “3”. Yukio nods at the results.

“Good! My monster gains 600 ATK, and there is more. Wanna’ see me teach an old dog new tricks? Dragonlych, attack directly!” Yukio orders, and his zombie dragon hits a shocked and dismayed Anubisius with pitch black, ashen flames. (Anubisius LP 1668 → 68) 

“And I set two back rows.” Yukio concludes, tensely anticipating the massive onslaught waiting for him just around the corner.

Yugioh Endgame – Duel 25: Alpha Schmuck, Beta Luck

AUTHOR’S NOTE: As you probably know by now, dear reader, the master rules changed again. Fusion, Synchro, and Xyz Monsters can be Special Summoned from the Extra Deck to a Main Monster Zone. Link and Pendulum Monsters have to follow the old rule. Of course, in this series, players can still Special Summon each “Extra Monster Card Type” from the Extra Deck once per turn.

“Who are you talking to?” Anubisius asks in bewilderment, glaring at the wall as if he could see the invisible person he suspected Yukio of conversing with if he looked angrily enough.

“I was just giving an author’s note to the audience.” Yukio innocently answers.

“What audience? Who’s there?” Anubisius draws a pistol and pulls the trigger, but nothing happens. He is out of bullets. He throws the gun away in frustration, pulls out a final weapon in the form of a light retractable spear, and hurls it at his enemy only for Yukio to catch it. 

With no arms left, all his literal and figurative darts spent, Anubisius has no choice but to duel. He savagely yawps, calling on the dark powers of the Millennium Key, and the shadow game begins. He makes a begrudging gesture to Yukio, grunting, “Ladies first.”

Yukio: 8000 | Anubisius: 8000

YUKIO’S TURN: “I set a monster and two backrows. Turn end.”

ANUBISIUS’S TURN: The high mage laughs. “You fool! You’re as passive as a prey animal, no match for the wolf that hunts, dominates, kills. I activate Pot of Greed (Spell). Guess what it does. Next, I pitch a card to activate Twin Twister!” The two cyclones sweep away Yukio’s backrow much to his chagrin. 

“My Field Spell, Lost Sanctuary (Field Spell), come alive!” Anubisius calls forth a prehistoric jungle on his field, obscuring the momentum generator behind him with mountainous trees and dense thickets of ferns. Anubisius then uses its effect, Special Summoning Metamorphosed Insect Queen (ATK 2800) from his hand, bringing animal life to the primeval land.    

Next stage of the onslaught. “I Normal Summon Arsenal Bug Squad (ATK 2000)!” He conjures a pulsing miasma of small insects to infest the air. “And I use its effect to equip another Arsenal Bug Squad from my Deck.” This doubles the thickness of the living cloud behind Anubisius.

“And I activate Cocoon of Ultra Evolution (Quick-Play Spell)! With this Tribute, I call forth PERFECTLY ULTIMATE GREAT MOTH! (ATK 3500)” Under Anubisius’s cue, numerous small insects fly above the canopy, disappearing, and one great insect loftily floats down.

I banish two Insects in my Graveyard to Special Summon Doom Dozer (ATK 2800)!” A giant millipede joins forces with the giant ant and the giant moth.

Preparations complete, Anubisius heralds battle. “Doom Dozer, attack the facedown monster!” The creature buries underground and comes up the other side, breaking Yukio’s feeble clown monster from below.      

“This activates Dungeon Dice Master (DEF 0) from the Graveyard.” Yukio says. “I banish it and roll a dice. Its effect depends on the results. Go!” An oversized pink die appears, casting itself high in the air and toppling on the ground, revealing “6”. With that result, Yukio Special Summons another Dungeon Dice Master (DEF 0) from the Deck. 

“A dice rolling Deck.” Anubisius scoffs. “I do not want an amateur who wins by luck. Metamorphosed Insect Queen, take down the clown!” The regiis volucris darts in the air with swift wings, devouring the weak monster on Yukio’s field.

“My second Dungeon Dice Master (DEF 0) activates!” Yukio announces. He banishes the monster from the Graveyard and rolls “4”, letting him return a Trap to his hand.

Anubisius finds the situation funny, being emboldened by his early success. “It suits you because it portends your sorry fate. Doesn’t the number ‘4’ symbolize death to you Japanese?” He does not await an answer to his rhetorical question. “Perfectly Ultimate Great Moth, sack him!” The strongest of insects sweeps a hurricane of poisonous spores at Yukio, who can only cover his head as he bears the brunt of the assault. (YUKIO LP 8000 → 4500) On that note, Anubisius ends his turn, and his Insect Queen lays an egg, an Insect Monster Token.

“Do you not understand the depth of your inferiority against me!” Anubisius boasts. “In the primitive world of the Lost Sanctuary, only the strongest creatures survive while the runts of the litter perish. We try taming the jungle in vain, but our liberal democracies are naught but essays in denial and cowardice. The frightful laws of the jungle remain and it shall always be so. Only women and feminized men, now coddled by their superiors, can so arrogantly escape reality.” 

Yukio has enough of this blathering. “For a Saudi warlord, you sound like a white boy atheist.”

“And yet you have no refutation for my arguments. You can only deny the truth. I am your alpha, and I will dominate you like the scrawny beta loser that you are!”

“Here’s a refutation, you obnoxious dork.” Yukio lashes out. “I’m the ‘beta male’, but I dated, played card games, and sired a child with the most dangerous woman on earth. Only three men in existence have a chance of putting her down, and you’re not one of them. Flex your sweaty abs at the gym all you want. Everyone knows you’re a coward who runs away when the battle gets tough.”

Anubisius roars, and summoning the power of the Millennium Key, he hurls Yukio crashing against the wall so hard it cracks. “Think you’re not a bottom now?” He bellows, striking a fearsome posture.

Yukio begins his next turn, still stuck to the wall, without comment but with defiance.

YUKIO’S TURN: ”I activate Pot of Greed (Spell) to draw two, then activate Dungeon Dice Arena (Field Spell).” The chamber behind him transmogrifies into a large green and white grid.

“I Special Summon Gator Dragon (DEF 1800), which I can do since you control monsters but I don’t, and I Set two backrows.” A winged alligator on its hind legs, scales the color of rust, guards its master. If everything pans out as Yukio plans and hopes, he can make a counterattack.

ANUBISIUS’S TURN: “This Duel is done. Doom Dozer, shred my opponent’s only defender!” The gargantuan millipede slinks on for the kill, slippery as oil.

“Now! Gator Dragon, use your effect!” Yukio shouts. A die pops from the ground, flies into the air, and crashes down, rolling “3”. Gator Dragon glows a fiery red as a poker heated by a blacksmith, appropriating half of Doom Dozer’s ATK to its DEF. Doom Dozer seizes its prey only to shriek away from the scorching pain. (Anubisius LP 8000 → 7600)

Anubisius, seething, clutches his fist as if he can destroy Yukio’s monster with his mind. “My Perfect Moth, destroy that eyesore!” The moth conjures a hurricane of poisonous miasma so strong not even Gator Dragon is a match.

Yukio knows this, so he saves the day again. “I activate Warp Gate (Continuous Trap)!” A wormhole forms behind Gator Dragon and protects it with a repellant field at the same time. “I can save my monster from death by battle once each turn, and now for the fun part. I’ll swap Gator Dragon for another monster in my Deck.” Gator Dragon vanishes and Gilafore (DEF 600) takes its place.

“How pointless.” Anubisius scoffs. “Metamorphosed Insect Queen, weed out this runt!” The insect queen devours the small lizard-like dragon in her sight.

This kickstarts a combo, as Yukio announces, “I both activate Gilafore in the Graveyard and my facedown Soul Rope (Trap)! Long story short, I Special Summon two monsters from the Deck! Go, Blast Lizard (DEF 1200) and Knight of Twin Swords (ATK 1600)!” (Yukio LP 4500 → 3500) 

“Blast Lizard, use your effect!” Yukio shouts as a die appears and rolls “1”. Undeterred, Yukio activates his Field Spell, Dungeon Dice Arena, to reroll. The die spins on the ground like a top, rolling “4”. With this effect, Blast Lizard chucks a bomb at Anubisius’s Field Spell.     

Anubisius reacts quickly, discarding an Insect monster to save Lost Sanctuary from destruction. “And your Blast Lizard is still on the menu!” He insists. 

The endurance of the green master bomber annoys Anubisius further. “I Tribute my Insect Token so Metamorphosed Insect Queen attacks again, and I choose Blast Lizard to be her next victim!” The queen devours her own offspring, then advances for the kill.

“No, he’s not.” Yukio gives a refutation. “Waboku (Trap)!” An order of priestesses arrive to dispel the insect queen’s assault with magic, then vanish as quickly as they appeared.

Anubisius stamps his foot, so lost in anger his concentration broke. The Millennium Key loses its power over Yukio, who gratefully unpeals himself from the wall to duel properly.

YUKIO’S TURN: “I use Blast Lizard’s effect.” He rolls “2”, letting him destroy a monster. Blast Lizard spares no expense, throwing three bombs at Metamorphosed Insect Queen to put her down.

“Knight of Twin Swords, attack Doom Dozer!” Yukio commands. His blue knight leaps to assault the formidable giant millipede, and three dice appear, rolling “1”, “5”, and “6”. Not satisfied, Yukio activates Dungeon Dice Arena while the battle between knight and millipede rages on, rolling “6”, “6”, “3”. Knight of Twin Swords doubles its original ATK and gains 1500 ATK on top. Now, welding 4700 ATK, the knight uses his newfound power to slay the demonic insect. (Anubisius LP 7600 → 5700)

Yukio is not done yet. “I banish Gilafore from the Graveyard to use its effect while still in the Battle Phase. I tune it with Blast Lizard and Knight of Twin Swords to Synchro Summon Thursday, the 12th Grave (ATK 0)!” With the arrival of the skeleton of a long lost giant, Yukio uses its effect, absorbing all the ATK of Perfectly Ultimate Great Moth through black magic. Thursday gains 3500 ATK while the moth crumbles to dust, destroyed.

Yukio can see the light at the end of the tunnel growing slightly bigger. “Thursday, direct attack!” The giant skeleton lists its walking crutch, now using it as a staff, and casts a malicious spell.

The deathly magic hits Anubisius, but to Yukio’s shock the high mage’s Life increases instead of decreasing. (Anubisius LP 5700 → 9200) “I activated Empress Ladybug of Life (ATK 1000) from the Graveyard, letting me convert damage from direct attacks into healing, and I Special Summon it in Attack Position.” A large, round, red insect with a black heart on its back arrives to protect her master.

Yukio’s optimism deflates. He is still in a bad spot, yet he presses on, hoping the light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train. “I activate Dangerous Machine Type-6 (Continuous Spell).” With the oversized bingo machine constructed, Yukio ends his turn.

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.