“... If you are reading this message, then you have my deepest sympathy. For you now find yourself trapped in a world caught in a struggle that holds millions of lives in the balance. Trapped in a virtual nightmare where enemies gather in every shadow and your next loss may be your last. The real world will not be free from this chaos for any more than a few hours. If you chose to fight you must act fast, for the clock is ticking. There will be no escape. There will be no reprieve. For many, there will be no tomorrow. It is Thursday 17th April 2059, and this will be the longest day the world has ever known...”
‘Welcome to the Virtual Duel System. We hope you enjoy your experience...’
*streams of fireworks and the below rock music*
Welcome to Yu-Gi-Oh 24. My name is Matt for those who don’t know, and this is my second fan-fiction on this site following last year’s popular fantasy Yu-Gi-Oh Armageddon. Some of you might have read my first story and know what my storytelling is/was like. But this story will be very different. Based on the hit television series 24, the time-based action thriller starring a character voted as ‘TV’s Hardest Man’, this story is based in the near future of our world, a world where Duel Monsters has become just as popular as it is in the worlds seen in the anime shows. But more of that in the first chapter; all will be revealed in time. Please give any feedback that you wish, positive or negative, I appreciate any and all comments. I hope you enjoy.
Epic Hero Saber – Technical and Writing Advisor, proof reader, and motivator.
Techi – Creative Aid, responsible for the designs of a few certain characters.
Evil Fusion - Always takes time to help me with ruling questions and suggestions.
Nu 13 (Klavier) - Deck Building Aid.
Poison Love/Black Scar - Duel proof checker.
Devil's Advocate - Er... let's say... motivational aid
Archbaron Barthandelus- Duel proof reader and general sounding board
Chapter 1:1 - This post here
Chapter 1:2 - Post 34
Chapter 2:1 - Post 47
Chapter 2:2 - Post 55
Chapter 3:1 - Post 64
Chapter 3:2 - Post 74
Chapter 4:1 - Post 81
Chapter 4:2 - Post 89
Chapter 5:1 - Post 100
Chapter 5:2 - Post 112
Chapter 6:1 - Post 118
Chapter 6:2 - Post 123
Arc One Character Bio's - Post 128
ARC TWO - DUSK RUSH
Chapter 7:1 - Post 147
Chapter 7:2 - Post 151
Chapter 8:1 - Post 156
Chapter 8:2 - Post 163
Chapter 9:1 - Post 171
Chapter 9:2 - Post 179
Chapter 10:1 - Post 184
Chapter 10:2 - Post 189
Chapter 11:1 - Post 194
Chapter 11:2 - Post 203
Chapter 12:1 - Post 214
Chapter 12:2 - Post 226
Arc Two Character Bio's - Post 233
ARC THREE - BLACKEST NIGHT
Chapter 13:1 - Post 252
Chapter 13:2 - Post 256
Chapter 14:1 - Post 262
Chapter 14:2 - Post 266
Chapter 15:1 - Post 274
Chapter 15:2 - Post 276
Chapter 16:1 - Post 285
Chapter 16:2 - Post 293
Chapter 17:1 - Post 303
Chapter 17:2 - Post 308
Chapter 18:1 - Post 316
Chapter 18:2 - Post 328
Arc Three Character Bio's - Post 381
ARC FOUR - DAYBREAK
Chapter 19:1 - Post 390
Chapter 19:2 - Post 401
Chapter 20:1 - Post 408
Chapter 20:2 - Post 421
Chapter 21:1 - Post 434
Chapter 21:2 - Post 442
Chapter 22:1 - Post 453
Chapter 22:2 - Post 465
Chapter 23:1 - Post 482
Chapter 23:2 - Post 508
Chapter 24:1 - Post 526
Chapter 24:2 - Post 548
Arc Four Character's Final Decklistings - Post 560
And now, if we are all sitting comfortably on the edge of our seats, we may begin...
A screeching cry broke the still midnight calm. A large long-eared owl sat regally on its perch in the treetops, preparing itself for the nights hunt. Staring out across the remote surroundings with a noble haughtiness, the owl turned its back on the city lights glowing over the hills like a never-dying sunlight touching the horizon. An unattractive hunting ground for him. No, instead he faced northwards from his leafy shelter and spread his wings, facing towards a single building that rose tall from the earth, a tower silent and black against the night. With a mighty beat and another piercing cry, the owl took off and soared towards the imposing tower and its surrounding base area, steadily climbing through the mild April night to give itself maximum sight for prey until it is almost level with the topmost part of the tower block. As he passed on his way, the owl glimpsed dismissively that there was a single light emanating from the top level after all, before vanishing into the darkness.
That single light coming from the top floor of the tower building was from a large room that resembled a nursery. The room was painted in light and warming colours and was a fully functional living space; with a kitchen area in one corner, a bed in another with a small number of toys strewn around, and an area with a desk and a whiteboard on the wall. An en-suite was off set. But one area was largely out of sync with the rest, and that was the large metal throne-like chair that backed onto and connected to a massive assortment of computers kept safe in a locked cabinet. An oversized silver helmet hung down from an overhanging section of the chair, a helmet that rested on the head of a small child. A young girl, sat with this helmet almost concealing her entire head, sat unmoving in her chair in her nursery.
A finger twitched...
Slowly her pale, slender arms rose to her head, and the little girl pushed the oversized helmet up until it slide up the rest of the way automatically, and with a disorientated blink she returned to her room. A room that in the six years of her life she had never left, except for when she sat in her chair and put on the D-Helmet designed for her, taking her to another place entirely from this world.
Unsteadily getting up from the chair, the small girl cautiously looked around. Long golden hair fell down her back and swayed with her white dress, with her every movement as she made her way across the room and pulled at a heavy door, a nuisance obstacle. Usually this door would be locked, but she had made sure to distract her carer enough to forget about it when she had been out earlier that day. She was sure some alarm would alert her carer sleeping on the floor below if it was opened, but she would be slow to respond. With one last heave the door swung open, and the girl shuddered as the chill of the night air swept over her as she stepped out to the balcony.
It was a grim night, with clouds blocking out most of the stars and the moon only just peeping through a break in the cover, shining down upon her as she leaned on the wall and stared out at the world. The scenery was extremely dull compared to the places she had been, but she found the difference of all that everyone would consider everyday to be extraordinary, as any child seems to find wonder in any new thing. She paused, and noticed that her breathing had become suddenly shallower, and her heartbeat was starting to quicken without her realising.
Trying to steady herself, the girl heaved herself up and stood on the wall.
Staring out across the darkness towards the glowing lights a few miles away; the girl clasped her hands together in prayer and whispered to the wind. “Search out those who can save us. Protect them with all your power and save everyone.”
A small lean forward, and a rush of wind enveloped her as she hurtled downwards. Energy surged through her as she closed her eyes and held her hands close to her racing heart.
There was a bright flash, as a hundred stars lit up the world around the girl plummeting to earth.
The following takes place on Thursday 17th April 2059, between 9AM and 10AM.
‘Good morning listeners, this is the on the hour weather report on JFN available on the D-Gazer network. We are set for a beautiful sunny day over most areas including the capital, with temperatures in the mid-twenties throughout the day. In the north Hokkaido will be slightly colder and more vulnerable to some light showers that might roll in from across the sea this evening.’
The city of Tokyo - 2059. The coastal metropolis at the heart of Japan, a bustling city that was one of the most prosperous and exciting places to be in these fast moving times, as the country was fulfilling its long time potential to become a world superpower. Always the birthplace for the newest developments in technology to enhance people’s lives, the city reflected its status as a business and trading power. Tokyo was also a vibrant and exciting place for people to live, and with many functions of the city operated by robotic AI’s, the people had plenty of time to play and relax.
Today was business as usual for the people of the city with the streets filled by a colourful mixture of society. Businesspeople in suits and smart shoes heading to work in the skyscrapers dominating the skyline, their D-Gazers giving them a live feed of the trading markets. Young adults meeting up for coffee in the restaurants that enticing aroma’s were drifting from, or getting to the shops early as the AI’s allowed them the spare time. A group of young kids, on their break week from school, whizzed through the crowds on hover-boards, heading for the joyous shouts that could be heard from the arcades scattered among the shops, arcades dedicated to one game that were a popular destination for not only them but people of all ages.
The reason for the popularity of the arcades was simple; the VDS. Short for Virtual Duel System, the terminals had been all the rage in Japan and most of the rest of Asia for almost half a century. The VDS bought the game of Duel Monsters to life in fantastic locations and such incredible realism, and was enjoyed by millions who could easily access it by signing in at the arcade terminals or by the one-time purchase of your own from the producer of the machines and operators of the system, Real Duel Ltd.
Real Duel Ltd was formed in 2013 as a sub-division of the financial giants Shin Corp, a large family owned corporation that operated in several business sectors. Back then the interest in a fantasy card game was only modest, but the company wanted to experiment with their technology and saw the market as an ideal testing ground for virtual reality game play. Their first venture was D-Gazers, a special kind of eyepiece that displayed a virtual image of duel monsters and their effects as if real, just as seen in the animated TV series. The hardcore fans of the game were amazed with the experience, interest piqued with those curious about the fuss, and one thing lead to another as the product became a huge success. The company saw the potential and quickly developed D-Gazers to become an essential mass market product, with handy features such as mobile and data transmitting devices, thus people of all kinds bought them and were all consequently exposed in some way to Duel Monsters.
Suddenly everyone was hooked on the game, and Real Duel Ltd seized their opportunity to bring out something they had been working on for a long time. An enhanced model of old Duel Terminals; by plugging in their personal D-Gazer, players were able to immerse themselves in a virtual reality beyond imagination, where they could duel the best players from across the country for a truly real experience. The demand was huge, and the system initially struggled to cope with the swamp of popularity. But Shin Corp pumped their resources into expanding the business and thus the system improved and grew rapidly. Real Duel Ltd became Shin Corp’s main business arm as the largest family owned company in Asia, its brand stretching across the continent and becoming the envy of America and Europe, whose virtual game systems were far inferior, and whose constant attempts to buy into the business and make it go global were always turned down flat by the Shinawatra family. Fast forward forty six years and the game is more popular than ever, as those who grew up with the VDS have shared in it with their children and bought the game to a new generation. Real Duel Ltd has operating servers all over Japan, with their head office and main base of operations at the RDL Building, a large complex just north of Tokyo.
At the northern perimeter of RDL’s base, a security guard was sat with his feet up at his station, reading his newspaper and occasionally glancing at his watch (09:02:15). Here he was to check in and out commercial vehicles accessing the facility via the slip road (the companies many employees came in through the other side for their morning shifts). A low rumble indicated the arrival of such a vehicle. Yawning as he rolled up his newspaper, he waited for the large white truck that came in every day with canteen provisions to pull up before the barrier, and readied his signing in sheet for either the driver or his partner sat looking out of the window to sign.
“Not like you to be late” the guard poked cheerfully at the driver.
The drivers responding smile was fragile as he clumsily took the clipboard to sign his sheet, hastily scribbling his signature before almost dropping it into the road passing it back. The guard frowned irritably at him but said nothing as he went to raise the barrier; the kitchen had already been waiting fifteen minutes for their delivery, so he shouldn’t delay it further with unnecessary questions. But just as he was about to raise the barrier, a chance look back at the truck made him stop. The vehicle was very similar to the regular goods truck, but looking a second time made him think it was slightly bigger and a different shape to normal, and there was a large dent in the side.
“Must have taken a fair whack to do that” he asked, looking up and down the truck from his window, the driver fidgeted awkwardly in his seat as he did so. “What hit you?”
“Another lorry” muttered the driver. “Can we get this going? I have other jobs to do.”
“Not if I think your truck is unsafe to drive you don’t” retorted the guard, getting up and unlocking the door to his station. Ignoring the drivers feeble protest, he walked around inspecting the truck, noting all the scrapes and bumps this now undoubtedly new model he was driving today had taken in this crash. It was a wonder he wasn’t more than fifteen minutes late. “Your rear lights on this side are smashed man. Our order had better not be damaged” he barked; as he heaved open the shutter door at the back.
All at once the colour drained from his tired face as he stared wide-eyed into the truck, not at boxes and barrels of fresh stock for the canteen, but instead at dozens of eyes staring back at him through black balaclavas. Sitting on two tight packed benches in the van, at least fifty people dressed almost entirely in black were looking at him, all armed with a selection of laser rifles and machine guns.
A soft ‘pew’ cut him off, and the guard fell backwards, stunned look permanently locked on his white face, a small burn in the centre of his forehead wear the laser bullet had passed through into his brain. Two of the masked men dropped straight out of the van, grabbing and dragging the guard back into the little booth, and whilst one of them started to strip the deceased man of his clothes, the other opened the barrier for the van to pass through. As the driver sat paralyzed in his seat, his passenger turned to him, a man with a tough scarred face and neat blonde hair under his beret. A military man.
“Well done. Keep going and your daughter will be returned unharmed.” The resigned driver nodded, before rolling into the complex.
With a spinning sensation, a young man wobbled out of the large pod like device and into the stylish modern hallway he had suddenly arrived in, having to grab the clerk’s table for support. His name was Fujita Kenji, a young man who had recently come to the position of finance minister, after his predecessor had been ‘advised’ to retire. Kenji had been promoted to the cabinet as the fresh young face to be the talisman of Japan’s future, and for having a sharp mind to match his sharp suit. Right now he didn’t feel as such; his appearance messed up by the still sickening experience of using the teleporter. Teleporters were a new thing anyway; incredibly expensive and only available to the biggest businesses and public services that filled the need to get people across the country in seconds, and it was only the third time Kenji had used it. Straightening his hair and glasses, he received directions from the automated computer ‘clerk’ and set off along the halls of the new government building,Toshima Halls.
Built in 2045, Toshima Halls was designed to incorporate traditional historic Japanese style combined with the most modern functions and practicality, so much so that the building looked like it was caught in a time warp of two eras. Ignoring the cleaning robot that was dusting an old painting of the noble Kitabatake Chikafusa, Kenji quickly made his way down two corridors to his destination, the private office of the prime minister. He could have made this meeting via a video call, but the prime ministers aid had called him to be here in person. The security scanner took his eye and fingerprint scans, before his courteous knock was followed by permission to enter.
Two people were waiting for him in this grand looking office. Standing to one side was a petite lady whose nervous smile made Kenji’s heart skip a beat. Maeda Izura was the prime ministers publicist, campaign manager, and personal aid. Wearing a slimming open jacket and suit combination that complimented her daintiness, Izura was a very pretty lady with quite a meek but kind nature. Kenjiliked her, as she had been most supportive to the new minister. Across the table sat Prime Minister Nakashima Hideo. A stout man who was going slightly bald on top, Hideo was sat facing his computer screen, with his brow buried in his large hands.
With only a few months left of his four-year term, Hideo had the look of a man at the end of his rope. Indeed, the popularity polls were well against him and always had been. Despite the nation’s strong position, people felt that Hideo was stunting further rapid progress. They found him a fretter, a ditherer, that he had the country stuck in neutral since he took over for the former (and unhelpfully very popular) minister. This image was seen internationally, hence the recent failure of Olympic and other sporting bids, much to widespread displeasure. His failed marriage and lack of any oomph of personality tarnished his image too, to the extent that he was known as ‘the grey’ minister. In the election run-up Hideo was doing everything to try to cast off that image and be re-elected, hence Kenji’s promotion in a cabinet shuffle.
“Good morning Fujita” Hideo murmured, stirring from his papers. “Still struggling with the teleporter I see?”
“I have next year’s growth and inflation estimates” Kenji glazed over the question with embarrassment as he approached the desk. “The future looks steady but not dynamic, the same as last year. Nothing to wildly excite the population about where the country is heading.”
“Why don’t people appreciate that at least we’re keeping their future secure?” Hideo mumbled. “The country is in one of the strongest positions in the world, why risk all that for a little bit more?”
“That’s not the way people think I’m afraid sir” Izura added softly as she came over with a tea tray. “People always want to strive for more. It’s ambition that motivates them to better themselves. If the country is perceived as standing still, people lose their motivation.” Izura poured a cup of tea for the Prime Minister, who sighed as he took it.
“I fear this is going to be a long day.”
At his passenger’s command, the truck driver pulled up in an underground driveway that led towards the delivery point under the RDL Building. They had stopped at a part of the tunnel not covered by cameras, but the captain still paused to check his watch; this still had to be timed well for them to remain undetected. A few seconds passed, before he reached for his D-Gazer and gave the order to move. Immediately a harsh scrapping indicated the truck door had opened, followed by a few hurried footsteps, and then the door shut again. In his mirror the captain watched three men scuttle off up a stairwell. Their takeover would depend on their success, as it would on another group they had dropped off a minute before, whilst other groups were to spread out and wait. The two critical groups had only a few minutes to complete their tasks as the truck couldn’t wait here long without alerting suspicion. He waited a minute, as long as he reasoned he could, before instructing the driver to continue to his point.
The first group of three was quickly making its way up to its target on the sixth floor, following a carefully mapped out back route that would avoid detection. They ran into no-one but kept vigilant, until soon they found themselves outside their destination. An office that served as the communications centre for the entire building...
The second group had a lot less further to go to meet the time, but their target would be harder to hit. Taking a service elevator as high as it would go, the men made their way straight to the security centre on the eighth floor. The door to this guarded room was locked, but they had a key, sort of. Keeping out view of the camera on the door, the group leader took a small gadget out of his pocket and checked his watch (09:11:37). Suddenly the front man charged the door, placing the electronic scramble device on the lock. Instantly deactivating the electronic lock, the group kicked in the door and opened fire.
The guards were so taken aback they were slow to respond to the three masked gunman that had barged in on them. Dispatching of them quickly, one of the men set to work at a computer, typing in various over-rides and passwords. “Commander. Sixty seconds until shutdown complete” he muttered into his earpiece. At exactly the same moment, the other group charged into the communications department and did the same thing, as the truck slowly pulled into the delivery bay far below. The commander set his watch to countdown and indicated to the driver to stall, keeping the gun in his lap pointed at him to make his point clear.
“What the hell happened to you?” demanded a young kitchen hand who was standing like many others waiting to unload. The driver just sat there unmoved, looking away from the speaker as a bead of sweat started to trickle down his brow. “Hey, look at me when I’m talking! We’ve been waiting fifteen minutes for your slow ass.” Still the driver sat unmoved with the captain staring at him, hidden from the guy’s view, keeping his watch in view with only a few seconds needed. Seconds that dragged in silence.
“Oh whatever. Let’s just get this unloaded” muttered the young man, walking around to the back of the truck just as the timer hit zero, and two calls of ‘shutdown complete’ rang in his ear.
The truck door flew up and all the remaining masked gunmen inside charged out and towards the lifts. One of the waiting staff jumped and instinctively ran for the panic button, getting there just as one of the masked men saw him. His heart sank as the alarm stayed silent despite his frantic presses, before it exploded with a surge of high energy passing through him and he sank to the floor. The other men were held up with little resistance. Entry secured safely and with all method of distress call either internal or to the outside world shut down, the men charged off in groups, spreading out in different directions throughout the building.
The man who had been sat in the front with the driver had now got out and was standing at the back of the truck, ordering one of his men to take their captive with them and secure him with other staff who would be of no use to them. With them dismissed, he turned back to the truck and saluted, as the last few people inside were lowered down on the loading lift.
The sharp click of a pair of heeled boots echoed around the underground parking bay as one of those people approached him. “Ma’am, mine and Hasif’s men have been ordered to take as many staff as possible to the VDS Operations Centre, and any additional staff to be held in a secure area elsewhere. We should be able to fully secure the building and move everyone within the next twenty minutes.”
“Fifteen minutes Gadsby. Carry on” was the silky reply. Gadsby took his leave with a few remaining men, before the heeled boots followed after the small party heading directly to the main control room.
“Take a break Unmai, you look awful.”
Startled out his focused stare at the monitor he was working on, Unmai took off his D-Gazer and turned to face the guy behind him. One of his superiors, a short man with dark brown hair and a round face called Umimoto Bozu, had been watching him stare at his computer for a minute with a coffee in hand. He shook his head in a way he considered jovial. “Mind you, you always look awful. Here.”
“Thanks” Unmai accepted it begrudgingly, running a thin hand through his mess of dark hair as he turned back to the monitor. Bozu had taken him under his wing since he had started with Real Duel Ltd as a system technician about a year ago, but he didn’t find his cheerful remarks funny, or indeed want to know him socially. Unmai didn’t really do social with anyone, and indeed did look a rather frail fellow. “I just had this message reporting an anomaly in the Dragon Ravine, but I can’t find anything.”
Bozu looked at him quizzically as he sipped his own drink. “Find anything?”
“That’s the thing. I’ve been searching everywhere but there’s nothing actually wrong.” Indeed, since Unmai had received this message reporting an ‘anomaly’, he had examined every inch of the mountainous area of the VDS, and run a scan on the entire area, and all of the reports had come back with nothing. But there was definitely something about the area, some strange aura about the place that seemed... different. Wrong. He relayed all of this to Bozu, who simply shrugged.
“It happens sometimes. There’s probably nothing to worry about. To be honest...” Bozu glanced around the operations centre at the rows of computers with people sitting at them working away “... the VDS world is pretty self sufficient. We need to do a bit of maintenance on it, but it largely looks after itself and often fixes problems before we even get to them. But I’m not complaining; the job pays well.”
Before Unmai could even roll his eyes, the entrance doors to the operations centre burst open, snapping both of them to attention. To the men’s alarm a dozen men dressed all in black stormed in, waving machine guns and shouting at people, some in Japanese and some in another language. A few people screamed, but like Unmai and Bozu quickly put their hands up and surrendered.
“Jin... Jin! Get up already, you’re going to be late!”
The small boy who was sleeping on an old mattress did not stir immediately. It was not until his large, intimidating figure of a mother pulled him up and clipped him around the ear did he truly wake, and moved in a hurry once the threat of a second smack was made clear. “You know you’re supposed to be helping out at the superstore this week. If you’re late then they’ll certainly not pay us for it, so hop it.”
With that Mrs Sakamoto left the room, leaving Jin to get ready. Pulling on a pair of ill-fitting jean shorts and a scruffy metal band endorsed t-shirt over his head; he looked glumly around his empty bedroom on his way out. No fourteen year-old had a bedroom this devoid of stuff; just the mattress and a pile of clothes in the corner, along with the very occasional toy. Picking up a battered pair of trainers on the stairs, he wished goodbye to his mother (receiving a grunt in reply) and set off for his holiday job.
The street outside was equally dismal. A poor area of the Kodaira area, this was the home Sakamoto Jinrei had spent his entire life. Despite the advances the country had made, despite all of the aids and charities, areas like this still existed here and there, that children like Jin were unfortunate to grow up in.
Thus why he was trying to help out his mother by earning some money during the holidays from school. The large general supermarket was ten minutes run away, so he hurried off. School, he wished the holiday would keep going and he could stay at work. His poor background was a cause of outcast among classmates. He was also small and weedy compared to other fourteen year olds, with a scruffy mane of spiky black hair, with a blue streak in it that he had let a student do for practise. He liked it; it gave him some modicum of cool, although he had earned himself a smack the first time his mum saw it. He wished he could get the pair of them out of here; get them out of poverty and somewhere better in life.
Bursting into the store a minute late and hastily apologising to his supervisor, Jin grabbed his work shirt from his locker and set to work, helping to unload the lorry that had just arrived at the back of the shop.
By now many of Real Duel Ltd’s staff had filed into the main operation centre; a great room that took up the entire eleventh floor, split in two halves by the raised central walkway and filled with rows and rows of computers either side. There they were seating themselves down under the aim of the guns pointed at them by the masked invaders. It had long sunk in that all way of alerting the outside world had been disabled. No-one could call for help themselves either, as personal mobiles had to be switched off or kept in your locker at work, and no-one dared used their D-Gazers to call anyone.
At the end of the great room was a row of manager’s private offices, then a staircase leading up to a raised floor which had more offices for the managing directors overlooking the centre. These offices had already been forced into by Gadsby, who had all but one of the people taken to join their employees. The commander was now stood watching proceedings from the balcony with two other men. One was a black-skinned colossus of a man who had now removed his mask; a Somalian mercenary whom most of the men in the group worked for. His rifle was pointed straight at the neck of the one director left up here, the honorary president of Real Duel Ltd, Shinawatra Taiyo. A well-built man for his near sixty years, with greyish brown hair and a bushy moustache, the president had had a terrible morning before this; dragged in early to news that threatened his entire organization, and had been in meetings trying to come to terms with their problem and find a solution all morning. Now he looked down at his workers stonily as the trickle of people slowly thinned.
When it had stopped, Gadsby turned to him. “Our leader wants a word with you, Mr Shinawatra. Hasif, if you would.”
Hasif grunted, but led the president down the stairs. At the foot of them, where everyone could clearly see, they stood and waited as at the other end of room a lift opened. First came a few more masked gunmen. They were followed by a tall man, whose green eyes flashed behind his half moon spectacles, stroking his stubbly jaw as he observed the scene with interest. An audible murmur ran through the crowd the second he appeared, people whispering despite the surrounding gunman. The reaction seemed to amuse him, before he faced the lift and bowed his head, and with a click of heels the radical group’s leader stepped out.
Several jaws dropped as this woman, dressed in a tight black leather suit that enhanced her incredible figure, strode between them, followed by her associate. Her long raven hair flowed halfway down her back, swaying a little as she marched between them, gracefully yet emanating power, like a mighty panther stalks through the jungle. The sense of power was no doubt enhanced by the sheer variety of weapons strapped to her belt, thighs, and slung over her back. Despite himself, one of the technicians couldn’t help but breathe ‘wow’. She heard and turned her head to him; her face was charming, her dark brown eyes deep and enchanting yet filled with danger, and the thrill of it. The lady reached the end of the walkway, before turning to the staring faces of the hundreds of staff she held the fixation of.
“My name is Clarissa.” Her voice floated across the room. “I know that you must all be scared by what is happening. But I assure you that despite the fierce appearance of myself and my men, and in spite of the way we got here, I am a reasonable and merciful person. Do not fear us, for if you do as I ask then no harm shall befall any of you. Only failure to comply with my instructions might make me do anything... drastic.” Clarissa raised the gun in her hand, to make her point clear.
“My first order for you is simple. All of you are to log into the VDS using the computers in front of you. Once you’re online, you shall all assemble in the systems private host room for Real Duel employees, and wait there to receive further instruction.” A ripple of murmurs went around as the employees took this order in, turning to their neighbours or just sitting frozen in their seats without really registering.
“My employees shall do no such thing.” Curling her lip, Clarissa turned to face the person who had dared oppose her, which was, of course, President Shinawatra. He was standing much more defiantly than one might expect an old man to do so in the presence of these heavily armed extremists, but that was the kind of man the Real Duel employees saw. A tough but fair boss, Shinawatra was seen as ‘a common man’, eating the same food in the same canteen as standard system operators, and easily approachable outside of working hours. He had often duelled in promotional events as the company’s representative, and had won many of them. Shrugging off the glare the massive Hasif, the president stepped forward, not smiling despite the ripple of quiet support from the crowd, and came face to face with Clarissa. “My employees won’t raise a finger to help you with whatever evil it is you’re planning. I don’t know what you want with our system or what you seek to gain, but I’m not having it. You hear?”
The look of almost bored distain from Clarissa didn’t deter him as she silently waited for him to say his piece. “Finished?” Still the old man didn’t back down. “Well I’d love to hear how exactly you think you can refuse, given the situation.”
The president gaped at her furiously, but did not produce an answer. Instead he turned to the tall man to vent his rage. “As for you Evos, I knew you were going off the rails when I fired you and expected some petty attempt at payback. It’s a pity to see such a once brilliant man fall to the depths you have.”
The man addressed as Evos shrugged. “You and I have very different opinions of depths. I joined your company as it was an exciting opportunity, but things change. I have my reasons for siding with Miss Clarissa, but not petty revenge against you. I am above such unimportant twaddle.”
“Damn yank. Why I should like to wipe the floor with you right now for how you betrayed us...”
“Actually, that’s not a bad idea.” A small smile lit up Clarissa’s face. Much to the bewilderment of Shinawatra and the other Real Duel staff she lowered her gun and nodded to Gadsby. “In fact, I think you duelling, in front of all these people who look up to you, would be a wonderful idea.”
Shinawatra glared back at Evos, but Clarissa shook her head. “Oh no, you misunderstand. You’re not getting to duel the good doctor. I have a special opponent for you.” Clarissa turned from the confused president and back towards the lift. “Little brother, I have a playmate for you.”
Everyone’s gaze followed Clarissa as she turned to the second lift that was slowly making its way up. At the lights indicating its steady rise, getting closer to them as they waited in nervy silence, before it stopped and the doors slowly slid open. Two more gunmen came out first, followed by some other men who looked completely out of place as military types, and were accordingly not carrying guns but laptops and other devices. They stood either side of the lift doors as everyone despite themselves strained to look, one of them holding it open for the last member of the extremist group to emerge.
A long, drawn, death rattle of a breath broke the silence.
As he emerged from the lift, the appearance of Clarissa’s brother sent shivers down people’s spines. Hunched over and looking down, he was sat in a large motorized wheelchair which, under his awkward control, lined itself up with the walkway and began to roll down it. The man described as ‘little brother’ looked horribly aged; desperately thin with his plain shirt hanging off him, long unkempt grey hair and a similar grey tint to his skin. Long rattling intakes of air and sharp exhales continued to come from him as he reached a stop on the stage as Clarissa came to meet him. Laying herself across him in a clearly quite loving embrace, pressing her head against his, she whispered in his ear. “Wilhelm dearest. I have a task for you.” Her eyes flicked up to stare at Shinawatra, smiling cruelly at his unnerved figure.
Gadsby marched over to the president and shoved his D-Gazer and D-Disk; the compact arm attachment used for conducting duels with and another Real Duel product, into his arms, as Wilhelm slowly raised his head. A deadness filled his eyes, green and purple mismatch in colour, a haunting stare that froze the president in place. On the side of the wheelchair, an added arm rose up and folded itself at right angles across his lap, a D-Disk modified for the man with his deck placed close to where his hand rested and another slot to hold his cards in hand. His own D-Gazer lowered itself over the left (purple) eye. Still, Shinawatra was a formidable duelist even now, and he would not back down, not with what was at stake for him. He placed the D-Disk on his arm, the cards in the deck slot shuffling automatically as both men activated the Alternate Reality View (ARV) on their D-Gazers.
‘ARV established. Duel commencing.’
“You...” Shinawatra shuddered as Wilhelm suddenly spoke. The effort it took him was obvious, managing to wheeze out words between his laboured breaths. “... may go first.”
Even that was unnerving. Willingly sacrificing the first move, such an advantageous position to have, was something most who played this game would find ludicrous. Not that the president was going to complain, and he had a strong hand to open with and use this opportunity. “Alright, I draw” he declared strongly, trying to settle himself. “I set one monster in defence mode.” The back of a card appeared horizontally in the space between them. “Next I activate the magic card Book of Sun, to flip my face down Gravekeeper's Spy face-up and activate its effect.”
A dark skinned man in assassin’s robes appeared from where the card had revealed itself, standing defensively before the president (Lv4, ATK 1200). With its appearance, the president took a card offered to him from his deck. “When Spy is flipped face up, I can summon another one from my deck. Now because I control two monsters which have the same level, I can overlay them to summon an Xyz monster from my extra deck that is of the corresponding rank.” The two identical spies’ bodies turned to sparks of energy, spiralling upwards together as a swirling vortex of light appeared between the two duelists. “I overlay my two level four gravekeepers to Xyz summon Gemknight Pearl."
The two sparks plunged into the vortex, and from it emerged a huge warrior. Carved from pure white stone, the monster stood before the president with his arms folded (Rk4, ATK 2600). In addition, two small white orbs floated around it in orbit. With its appearance before him appeared a shred of hope. ‘Pearl has the highest attack of any rank four or lower Xyz monster, and with the protection of these traps I can make sure I can keep the pressure on.’ “I place two cards face down. Turn end.”
Shinawatra watched and waited as Wilhelm slowly took the top card of his deck and placed it in his hand slot. There was a long pause as he considered his hand. A bead of sweat appeared on his brow. Had he drawn badly? Was he trying to work out the identity of his facedown cards, Holy Barrier - Mirror Force and Trap Stun, or just struggling with his physical condition? Everyone watched and nervously waited, before Wilhelm slowly picked up and placed a card on the blade of his D-Disk.
“Magic activate... Future Fusion. By targeting a Fusion monster in the extra deck... this sends materials needed for it from the deck to the cemetery... then summons the fusion monster in two turns. I send Cyber Dragon... and seven more machine type monsters to the cemetery...”
“Chimeratech... Overdragon?” Taiyo stuttered, taking a step back. It was then a sick smile broke over Wilhelm’s thin face.
“Overdragon... is the least of your worries... I summon Mist Valley Soldier." A winged man in blue robes appeared before Wilhelm (Lv4, ATK 1700). “Soldier is... a tuner monster... So now that I have him, I can summon... three Bolt Hedgehog from my cemetery.” Three small furry creatures rose up from the floor (Lv2, ATK: 800) before two of them immediately vanished. Wilhelm’s breathing became more ragged, filled with wild excitement. “I overlay two level two monsters to Xyz summon Daigusta Phoenix."
A small orange bird appeared beside of Wilhelm, burning blue flames making up its wings and plume and circled by two flaming orbs. (Rk2, ATK 1500). Its appearance, or the siblings delight in its appearance, confused Taiyo. It wasn’t any sort of threat to him, even with an effect. Nonetheless Wilhelm continued. “Effect... by detaching a Bolt Hedgehog that is overlaid on Phoenix... I can make him able to attack twice this turn. Also I can now resurrect the detached Bolt Hedgehog once again from the dead... and repeat the process once more...”
Once again the little hedgehog rose beside the third. Again a similar flaming bird appeared on Wilhelm’s other side, and used its effect on itself. Again a detached hedgehog rose from the dead. All the while Taiyo felt more and more uneasy, as Wilhelm reached to his extra deck once more.
“Now... to finish this. I tune Mist Valley Soldier with my remaining Bolt Hedgehog to Synchro summon.” The two monsters disappeared in a flash of rings and stars. “Appear... Dragon of Ice Barrier Brionac!" Behind Wilhelm a great serpent appeared, icy breath emanating from its star shaped face (Lv6, ATK 2300). “Then I activate her effect... discarding three cards from my hand... to return an equal number of cards you control to your hand...”
The president froze, as his two facedown cards were blown away by the icy blast. Pearl struggled against it, but disappeared as well. Leaving him wide open. Leaving him unprotected. Now he was the one struggling to speak. “But that... You have enough attack to defeat me twice over...”
Wilhelm didn’t speak. None of the on looking staff or extremist group made a sound. Wilhelm just stared at him with that disgusted glare, as all around him his monsters prepared to attack all at once. The force the president felt was incredible as the assault was unleashed, throwing him backwards across the room and ending in a still heap (LP 0).
Clarissa returned to her brother’s side as he flopped forward in his seat, crouching down as he began heaving painfully. “Thank you.” Wilhelm managed to mumble something, before Clarissa rose, gave her seniors a nod, and turned to the horrified staff. “Well then, now we’ve proven our point, do as I ask and start logging into the system. Or do we need more public executions...?”
Slowly, hopelessly, every person turned to their computer without further protest, attached their D-Gazer to it and logged on, each becoming a frozen statue like shell as the system took them in and fully immersed them in the virtual system. Evos and the computer technicians entered one of the larger lower offices and started setting up their gear. Hasif and Gadsby left the stage to instruct their men to spread out and fortify the building so that only three were left on the main stage.
“What is it?” Clarissa turned to her brother, who was starting to ease up again.
“The man in charge of this whole company... who runs the entire world that they were born from... and they chose not to grant him their power........ Says a lot about him...”
“I don’t know why that surprises you” she replied, before making her way across the stage to where Taiyo was starting to stir. Of course he had not been killed by the attack he had taken from the virtual monsters. When playing Duel Monsters using Real Duel technology, a player would receive an electric shock to indicate they had taken damage, with increasing powerful shocks with increased damage. Taking enough damage to be defeated twice over all at once resulted in an accordingly huge shock, enough to knock someone down and stun them for a few minutes. Briefly checking that most were now immersed fully in the VDS, Clarissa placed her boot on the man’s throat and pointed a gun at his head.
“I should have shot you on sight, for everything you’ve done” she whispered. “But doing that would have caused a panic that I don’t have time to deal with. These people...” Clarissa flicked her head towards the silent masses sitting statuesque at the computers. Her voice was a little shaky, as she stared down at the president struggling and cowering beneath her. “They see you as this great man; this generous giver of entertainment for all, a working man. They don’t know the truth about you and your company, about the cost of everything you’ve created and hidden away here, all just so you can make money. But before this day is over, everyone will know the truth about you, Real Duel Ltd, the virtual world... Project Eve..... Maybe you’ll see it all from the fiery pit that’s waiting for you.”
President Shinawatra’s eyes widened as her words sunk in. “You are...”
09:59:58... 09:59:59... 10:00:00