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Duel 1 - Setting the Stage

 

[Spoiler Yifan, Maya, and Sofia set the stage]

“I sing of children’s card games, the dire fates that we humans

must duly face, and the nerds who think they’re warrior poets,

these so-called ‘duelists’, as they try to control the world’s future.

I’ve learned all kinds of unwisdoms, unlearned many secrets,

bringing knowledge from farther back than the life of our species,

partly from Yifan, partly from my time on this brown earth.

My parents made and have raised me as two-thirds fiery venom

and one-third loathing while, of course, not knowing what they were doing.

Can the mind of a small sad meme queen, ever so human

- Yifan, I mean - have a scheme so divine it out-trumps all the old gods?

Sour old notes aside, I bring strength, joyous and outrageous.

In both One Player Campaign and PvP Duel Arena

I will send every god to a rainbow of colorful deaths.”

 

Maya recites these lines she invented in good fun, or so she thinks, until Sofia claps her hands from the corner of the stage. Sofia praises Maya two ways at once, one sarcastic and the other genuine, and Maya reads both messages through Sofia’s body language. The older woman invites the younger to join her on center stage and the younger woman obliges.    

 

There Maya and Sofia stand, alone together, in the abandoned Fabian Theatre in Peterson, New Jersey with ghosts and the unborn for an audience. “The Fabian,” Maya Mis-Exposition explains to the audience. “Was a vaudeville theatre that later also did film screening in the early days of cinema.” Hence, she points to the old big screen behind her. “What did you think of my lines, Sofia?”

 

“It was kind of pretentious and douchey.” Sofia admits. “But I like all the little parodies you threw in it like it was a kind of parody fruit salad... all while making a mockery of dactylic hexameter, one of the most ancient and venerable poetic forms… That’s horrible! That’s like ruining a classic meal like Margherita Pizza by putting pineapple - no, worse, M&Ms or golden crust on it! - Wait, how does golden crust debase pizza? Doesn’t it make it rarer by making it ridiculously expensive? Ah! I’m losing track of my food metaphors! Why do you do this to me, Maya?”

 

Maya smiles to herself while she opens a laptop and connects it to a small projector. “First lesson: the sublime and silly are two sides of the same coin. This is the bread and butter of Yugioh. Anyway, we shall do nothing less than commence a revival festival for The Fabian Theatre, an audience for two. The first film of the programme? Riding The Golden Elevator, never before seen footage of the Pentagon getting on top of KaibaCorp at one of those backdoor corporate meatings we hear so much about.”

 

“Which would not be possible without me.” Sofia reminds her tutor, pointing at herself. “Jolene and I hacked the building’s cameras. Thanks to us, you’ll know everything KaibaCorp, the Pentagon, and other multibillion dollar institutions will be planning for the next several years, giving you the chance to plan your next move. You know, for your so-called endgame.”

 

Maya then points at you - yes, you! - the audience. “Pay attention. Two ‘seasons’ ago I had a vision, while I was buried under stones deep in an Egyptian tomb, that let me break the fourth wall. We are all simulations from a person’s programming or projections of information from the inside of a black hole often called a universe. Yet those programmers and black holes are themselves simulations from something else, and it goes on in a cycle forever and forever.

 

“For example, every Yugioh universe, or dimension, that has ever existed forms a multiverse created by a programme called the Numeron Code, which was itself created by a basement-dwelling brony incel nerd called Darius ‘Orochi’ O’Reilly who lives with your mother. Your universe, in turn, is a projection from inside the event horizon of a black hole, which is itself a program created by Xenu, and so on.      

 

“There exists four Yugioh dimensions that concern us the most. The first is the ‘manga dimension’, which features Dark Side of Dimensions, and continues with the ‘GX manga’, ‘5Ds manga’, and so on. There is an ‘anime dimension’ that does not have Dark Side of Dimensions, instead going straight to ‘GX anime’, which then splits into at least four separate dimensions because some chud named Zark gets real salty after losing to a girl.

 

“Our realm is the ‘manganime dimension’, which does feature Dark Side of Dimensions, and carries on to the present moment. The last dimension is the ‘dark dimension’ where Bakura, Zorc, Cody Martin, and a demon-possessed teddy bear succeed in destroying the world by singing Disney songs, replacing it with a realm of darkness.”

 

“You made up the Orochi and teddy bear stuff, didn’t you?” Sofia demands, incredulous.

 

Maya laughs ruefully before saying, “I’m afraid not. I saw it all in my vision, or stress-induced hallucination. Whatever you want to call it.”

 

With the fun and games over, Maya takes the time to confess to Sofia something very important. “Whether or not we know exactly what Kaiba, Yifan, or anyone else are planning at the moment, I know all the major events that will most likely happen. I don’t need a Millennium Item to see the future. I just see what is necessary for us, what we must do, the trials we must face if we are to conquer any of the demons in our way.” Sofia asks what is in the future and Maya tells her everything, leaving an awkward silence.

 

Maya finishes setting up the projector and dusting two front row seats. She beacons Sofia to sit by her and, when Sofia does, gives her a warm kiss on the cheek. “The curtains roll back. The show begins. Everything that happens from now on is for you.”

[/Spoiler]

 

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Duel 2 - Gathering the Artifacts

 

 

 

[spoiler Momentum is introduced and seven chuds get to own the Millennium Items.]

“Any idiot can create melodrama; it’s using humor with tragedy that takes real skill.” Yifan nears the end of her conversation with Pegasus while finishing her dessert, an odd Mexican tortilla with chicken and chocolate in it. “Your comic mask makes you a layered and bittersweet character, not unlike chocolate mole enchiladas. There’s a certain richness in taste. Imagine having two eyes again and regaining depth perception, something like that but for your tongue.”   

 

Pegasus J. Crawford finds Yifan, with her sly backhanded flattery, most amusing. The CEO of Industrial Illusions and creator of the Yugioh card game finishes his meal in turn and remarks, “Why thank you! Though I prefer chocolate truffle tarts myself. I’m impressed with how you’re solving the new Millennium Puzzle so quickly - and by the way you’re frilly blue snakeskin dress is just gorgeous!”

 

“Thank you, sweetheart.” Yifan returns the compliment. “I prefer wearing white but deep blue is my favorite color. It does contrast nicely with your iconic red vest and long pale hair. Sometimes I find it hard to believe a man as astute in fashion as you are ever had a wife.”   

 

With luncheon finished, Seto Kaiba, severe as always and donning an impeccable white business suit, arrives to commence the business meeting. It is in Kaiba’s character to only suffer eating alone. “I’m afraid the old fuddy-duddy is about to end our fun with a tamakeri.” Pegasus says as he sadly kisses Yifan’s hand. “Good speaking to you.”

 

Kaiba snowballs the names and titles of some of the world’s most powerful people into a roll call, barking out their names in his usual no-nonsense attitude:
“Aleksandar Kepura, United States Secretary of Defense
Marion Martis, Chairman of Lockheed Martin
Ricardo Atenza, Archbishop of Sao Paulo
‘Anubisius’ Ahmed, CEO of Corral Petroleum Holdings
John Secmeton Walton, Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Pegasus J. Crawford, CEO of Industrial Illusions

Xiao Yifan, Director of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development”

Kaiba then introduces a new person to the congregation, Akutsu, the lead scientist in KaibaCorp’s Technology Research Department. It is about time as everyone by now became very bored with the roll call.

 

“Who wants to learn SCIENCE?” Akutsu, a tall gangly man with eccentric manners, begins the lecture with a bang, but everyone groans. He tethers a metal ball at the end of a rope and sets the pendulum into motion. “When the ball is up GRAVITY pulls it down and when the ball is down MOMENTUM pushes it back up. The reason the pendulum stops is because motion dissipates energy by converting kinetic energy to thermal energy while friction -“ The metal ball hits him hard, making him fall over, feet dangling in the air.

 

“Where are all the goofy cartoon sounds coming from?” Pegasus wonders out loud. “Even I find it trite.”

 

Akutsu gets back to his feet and produces a toy model of Robert Fludd’s water screw, then sets it to work. “In theory this should be a perpetual motion machine. WATER from a TANK turns a WHEEL, which turns a SCREW that brings water back to the tank, which turns the wheel again.” But sooner or later the machines stops as predicted, and Akutsu makes a sad trombone noise. “Energy dissipates through MOTION and FRICTION. The water is a source of energy that remains at a constant amount, so it cannot replace all the energy lost.”

 

“Get to the point.” Anubisius growls. “This is not a science show for children.”

 

Akutsu ignores him. “As long as a machine loses energy you need to replenish it with an outside source to make up for all the lost energy. But what if you can use QUANTUM MECHANICS to REDUCE FRICTION almost to zero to make a machine run almost completely on its own MOMENTUM?” And with a dramatic gesture he reveals a model of his invention, a small transparent cylinder with several rings glowing in a rainbow of lights revolving at breakneck speed.

 

“And people told me why try making a perpetual motion machine? Why bother? I’ll tell you what - oh yeah, because it’s cool! My invention, which I call MOOOOMENTUUUUM,” He now twirls a hula hoop. “Not only has near perfect efficiency, it even causes photons to TRAVEL BACK IN TIME and give additional energy FROM THE PAST! BOOM! SCIENCE!” He trips over his hoola hoop, falling flat on his face as usual.

 

Yifan leans over to look down on the silly man, admonishing him, “In other words it’s not really a perpetual motion machine, you carnival barker, just a very, very efficient one. It is the stuff utopian pipe dreams are made out of.”

 

Akutsu jumps right back up, lively as ever. As Kaiba is fond of saying, it is impossible to dampen the enthusiasm of an idiot. “With MOOOOMENTUUUUM the world will have a near limitless power source. Technology and urban development will develop rapidly and, who knows, we may one day travel to space and meet COOL ALIENS. But only a certain kind of energy can power my invention.”

 

Now Kaiba steps in for the climax, revealing seven golden talismans from Ancient Egypt. “Momentum can only use the Millennium Items as a power source. I even used Yifan’s help in reforging the Millennium Puzzle and Millennium Ring for this purpose. This is the nature of our deal.” He gestures to everyone in the room. “You funded my momentum project. Now you each get a Millennium Item and a momentum generator.” He hands everyone except Pegasus and Yifan a Millennium Item, trying not to touch the cretins he has to compromise with.

 

Secmeton, a kindly man with a full salt-and-pepper beard and blue uniform, looking like a kind of marine admiral, receives the Millennium Necklace. Anubisius, tall, muscular, imposing, receives the Millennium Key. Atenza, the thin and stringy Archbishop, is bequeathed the Millennium Ring. Martis, his suit drab as can be and his face unreadable, accepts the Millennium Scales. Kepura, obese and tall, with large fish lips and small squinting eyes as his most prominent features, takes the Millennium Eye for himself.

 

Kaiba lays claim to the Millennium Rod while Yifan clicks in the final piece of the Millennium Puzzle, completing it. When Pegasus, astonished, asks her how she managed to finish the puzzle in only a few months, she replies, “I’m not a teenage boy. And I’m sure Kaiba has a supercomputer that could assemble it in mere hours anyway.”

 

Yet Akutsu is not finished with his demonstration. “Wait! There is catch!” He reminds his audience. “MOOOOMENTUUUUM must always be kept running. It can never stop or change direction.” He blows up a large balloon. “IMAGINE my invention is this BALLOON and all the energy it generates is the AIR in the balloon. Now with lots of air the balloon is useful and you can do all sorts of COOL THINGS with it.” He twists the balloon into a poodle. “But if you suddenly release all the air,” He pops the balloon. “BOOOOOOOOM!” And he finishes his lecture by making a lot of silly exploding noises.        

 

“Enough!” Kaiba quickly shews the eccentric man off the premises. Already the businessmen in the conference begin to argue with each other.

 

Anubisius even threatens to walk out, feeling threatened himself of what Momentum would do to his oil business. “If you have any idea how often I buttplugged alternative energy research, you would call me Bugger in Cheif!” He bellows. “I funded your research, Mr. Kaiba, thinking I would be handsomely rewarded! But to be made master of Momentum, which wipes out generations of my family’s business - “

 

Secmeton gently puts his large warm hands over the other man’s shoulders, “No need to get your balls tied up. With Momentum and the Millennium Key, you will, in effect, control Saudi Arabia and God knows what else. Imagine how many power mongers like old Heishin would love to dominate the region but were not fit enough to do so. Nature has rewarded you the power you are rightfully fit to use. Your family, by forming an oil business, simply took advantage of the most efficient energy source at the time. You would be a fool not to step up your game and advance your family’s name.”

 

Anubisius listens to reason and sits back down. Yet other butts in the room remain irritated as their owners keep squirming on their chairs, jousting with their prides on the line. Atenza, inflated with self-importance, wants religious freedom abolished in Brazil while Martis, pragmatic as ever, points out how ludicrous the idea is. “The facade of liberal democracy must always be maintained.” He explains patiently.

 

“Kind of like filming a movie.” Yifan observes, speaking to Pegasus and you, the audience. “You must go to great lengths to keep the audience’s suspension of disbelief. In a play, the audience more easily, well, plays along.”

Pegasus agrees, lamenting, “In the past, it was much easier for kings and governors to keep their people in line. They didn’t have to lie as much. Nowadays, everyone thinks he is a free man, an enlightened consumer, living in a transparent society, protected by human rights. Keeping up such a charade can get tiring sometimes. Popcorn, Yifan?”

 

Yifan gladly takes the snack. “Yes, the idea of human rights. It is a dogma that cannot be questioned, not now at least. Otherwise it will bark at you loudly since it lives in a doghouse owned by a rich banker who keeps the seven trains running on time but the conductors are artifacts with rickets so sometimes they can’t go anywhere and a crocodile will eat them as it’s crocodiles all the way down and crocodiles make the world go round.”

 

Pegasus gives Yifan a worried smile. Meanwhile, Kepura and Kaiba escalate their debate. Kepura demands exclusive access to KaibaCorp’s research for the United States Army while Kaiba rebukes the idea. “I will not let my research become a weapon of war.” Kaiba spits venom at Kepura’s face. “Leave the United States out of it. I am not the man my stepfather was.”

 

Amused, Kepura can’t help himself but laugh, revealing his large pearly white teeth. “But you are the man your stepfather was. Never in any empire, the United States or otherwise, can you separate capital from military. The U.S. Department of Defense funded what would later be the Internet. Had Gozaburo Kaiba not developed weapons you would have no template to turn KaibaCorp into a gaming empire, now would you?”

 

“That does not matter!” Kaiba spits back. “It goes beyond our contract! You have no right!”  

 

“So I don’t.” Kepura admits in a glib manner, “But, as you most likely know, business goes beyond the contract. Once Momentum is up and running around the world - think! - would not the Japanese government become curious and get their hands on it? And once that happens, would not every major power in the world demand to have Momentum as a right?

 

“Unlike you, Gozaburo knew he was not king, not even of of his little corner of the world. He, like we all, are simply part of a big hive. He knew that if he refused to sell weapons to the United States he would miss the biggest deal he could. Other weapons manufacturers would get the deal, meaning bigger profits, meaning KaibaCorp would run out of business.”

 

Kaiba snaps, “Don’t need to explain basic business to me, you smug cretin! I gave you enough!”

 

“True.” Kepura admits again. “But you don’t seem to understand the ‘philosophy’ behind it all. We’re all prey to bigger impersonal forces beyond our control but here you are, like a small child, thinking you can single-handedly shape the future. Gozaburo knew that if he went against the forces of nature he would end up on knees, bent over, ready to receive a royal pounding from his rivals. Cross me enough times and I will, inevitably, force you on your knees, making you give to me what daddy couldn’t. Think of this meeting as a hazing ritual. Welcome to the wider world of geopolitics. You’re playing with the big boys. - Ooh! That makes a catchy song!”

 

Kaiba wishes he could deck Kepura in the face with his steel briefcase but knows it would be a suicidal to do so. Yes, Kaiba technically wins the argument and Kepura has no right to access KaibaCorp’s research but he will lose exclusive control of Momentum. There is nothing he can do about it.

 

It begs the question why Kaiba even bothers to waste his time with these jokers. He does so because he has a vision. Ever since he last faced Yugi, he worked tirelessly to upgrade a cloud server that could connect every duelist around the world. As of now he only had clumsy devices that linked up duelists to a virtual online world. But Momentum can change all that. It can bring the virtual online world here. Imagine how dueling would evolve with such a system! And he can use his profits to build more Kaibaland amusement parks for orphaned children, who always hold a soft spot in his heart as he and his younger brother were once orphans themselves.    

 

There is another issue on the table, pun intended. About a decade ago, Kaiba managed to travel across time and space into the afterlife to duel Atem, the spirit who possessed Yugi and was his true rival, one last time. The result was a draw. Kaiba can live with that, maybe. But now, with Momentum, he can explore all the dimensions the universe has to offer. The possibilities for humanity are endless! And it is for those possibilities that Kaiba willingly gambles not just his company but the future of humanity itself.    

 

As for the mundane present, Kaiba is done. He turns around to leave with a dramatic flair. “Let’s go, Mokuba!” He commands, only to realize his younger brother isn’t there. Force of habit.

 

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Duel 3 - Ring of Ire

 

 

 

[spoilers Maya crashes a party and challenges a cop to a duel.]

The businessmen part from the meeting with their respective Millennium Items to settle on different major cities around the globe. Secmeton lands ship on Los Angeles, taking America’s west coast. Anubisius becomes king of the beasts in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Atenza mounts Brasilia as his lookout. Martis makes the Washington D.C. area his dune and Kepura fortifies his position in New York City. Kaiba stays in Domino City in Japan. Yifan makes Beijing her red mansion.

 

Three years pass. The businessmen establish Momentum generators in their respective areas, providing them with near unlimited energy by using spooky magic. They effectively become the high mages, apostles of the modern world’s major religions. Technology booms as a legion of new computers and machines arise to build ever bigger skyscrapers and other megastructures, making the grand cities even grander. The American military creates an army of machine-controlled satellites each with an arsenal of thermonuclear detonators.

 

History repeats herself and, as usual, the military hands over the new technology to private investors like Kaiba to use it for their own ends. Then the investors take all the credit to promote the free market. In Kaiba’s case, he erects new space stations and uses his dueling technology to create a Momentum Internet Network. Now players can duel each other in virtual battlefields even if they are half the globe away from each other. With it, the Internet evolves and enmeshes humans together in an ever tighter web.

 

But everything has a price. In this case it is the cost of human lives for the benefit of humanity, a twist of fate Maya and Yifan find amusing. Millions of people leave the great cities as machines take over their jobs and the rent becomes too [email protected] high, making the rich even richer and the big cities even harder to live in. You get a hole; between the mages and their priestly attendants on one side and people too poor to even move out on the other, there is a barren street.

 

It is on one of those streets, on the 21st of December, 2012 that protestors revive the city with a great demonstration against the powers that be. The once empty street now crawls with life: the old hippies who are honored veterans from the great protests against Vietnam in the 60s, affluent college kids with badly dyed hair dropping in to fight for a cause, anarchist punks with Molotov cocktails, the remaining minimum wage workers barely getting by (like yours truly), and so many people who lost their jobs and futures. It really is a great mass of humanity, with so much energy, life, and color despite all their hardships you will think it a parade.

 

Before long, however, a great grey cloud rains on the parade in the form of a mass of guard robots and the few dozen armored policemen acting as their lieutenants. At first protesters and police lock each other in a stalemate of threats and shouting, a mighty river crashing onto a massive boulder. The dynamite is all there but someone has to light it up, and it just so happens Jolene and Sofia rafted themselves in the middle of the ocean of protestors.      

 

Jolene pelts a cop with eggs with the vegan protestors. “Unbelievable.” Sofia objects. “Do you have any idea how expensive eggs are?”

 

“They’re organic. No pesticides.” Jolene says with a wink.

 

This only makes Sofia double in exasperation. “That’s even worse! Here!” She lights up a Molotov cocktail and bombes it on the armored policeman, lighting the man ablaze. “Much cheaper!”

 

“It’s the season of lights.” Jolene jokes. “Christmas is coming soon.” But she soon changes from jesting to worrying as the protest catches fire. The anarchists, emboldened, join the fray, eager to make some Christmas lights of their own. The police chief directs the counterattack; the cops whip out their big guns, pummeling through the protestors with tear gas, rubber bullets, and nightsticks.

 

The chief himself assaults Jolene and Sofia with his weapons, inflicting black and red bruises on the two women, while his underlings use their doggish machines to arrest some hippies and college kids. A wrathful Sofia throws a punch though she is but on her knees, forgetting to call upon the dark powers Maya taught her. The chief easily catches her wrist and twists it, then finishes the job by spraying mace on her eyes and even giving it to Jolene since he is so generous.

 

“You idiot, Sofia! Why!?” Jolene weeps in agony, blinded. Sofia wishes she can tell her but knows she must her secrets with her to the grave. And how can Jolene or anyone else understand? The chief succeeds in subduing the two insolent little girls but it is not enough.

 

He lifts his nightstick high, ready to dish out more punishment, when a great wall of fire erupts between the police and protestors. The blazing fire melts all the snow in its path and turns night into day, blasting the chief and the two women in opposite directions. All three quickly roll on the ground, soaking themselves on the newly made slush on the ground. The flames singe Jolene and Sofia, leaving them in terrible pain, while the chief is protected by his armor, spared from almost all burns.

 

“What the -” The police see a dark woman step out of the flames, unharmed. He gives an order; the police and the guard robots instantly fire every rubber bullet they have at her from their automatic guns. The woman easily calls upon a gust of flying black flames to surround her in a shield, which vaporizes the bullets before they can reach her.

 

The chief gives himself time to scan her appearance, making a profile of her in his head: a woman slightly taller than average, long black curly hair, dark brown eyes, brown skin; wearing black jeans, a black and red shirt, black shoes, and a long black trench coat. This tigerish woman, with her bestial mane and fiery eyes, reminds him of someone famous.

 

Then he gets it. “Maya!? The duel monsters world champion!?” He gasps in complete shock.

 

Maya throws her hands up in the air, her expression in a limbo between someone pretending not to know any better and someone throwing a party. “Technically, the game is called Yugioh these days but duel monsters doesn’t sound as dorky I guess. And you are…? Hmm, do porkers even have names or do they just have numbers like evil minions do?”

 

The chief curtly answers her, “Magian Bellatore. I run the NYPD and I will make sure you pay for hurting my officers and obstructing the law!”

 

“Says the big strong man about to bludgeon two armless people on the ground. Do you beat your wife after a long hard day at work too?” She points to a scrawny little anarchist who clumsily holds a Molotov cocktail he is too scared to actually use and barks an order, “You, Antifa supersoldier! Take the two women in the large puddle to safety!” And the little anarchist scurries away, taking Jolene and Sofia with him, though not without a lot of help from comrades.

 

With that task done, she confronts the police chief once more. “Magian Bellatore. Mage Soldier. You really are a mook though, I admit, an elite one. - I forgot my manners. My full name is Marina Bozuslovskaya but I’ll go by Maya so the smooth-brained WASPs won’t get confused.

 

“I remember you, believe it or not. Jolene and I used to do canvassing in high school. You patrolled the street we were at. Jolene would deal weed right under your nose - one quick handshake and the deed was done - but you kept looking at me like I was up to no good.”

 

“Enough!” Bellows Magian. “What do you want, terrorist!”

 

Maya calmly answers, “What every main character in this franchise wants, a good duel. If I win, you call off the porkers and leave the protestors alone. If you win, you can knock yourself out. Pepper spray the college kids, beat up the Antifa losers, grope some hipster girls while you’re at it. Your big sweaty palms can’t always hold a gun, now can it.”

 

“I don’t believe you.” Magain says, all too suspicious of this degenerate rascal. “What do you really want.”

 

“Just to play a game with a worthy opponent, silly.” Maya protests. “What you see is what you get. One game and I’m out of here, I promise. It’s not like you can challenge me with guns as I’ll easily turn your domestic army into bacon.”

 

Magian of course knows that what you see is never what you get but Maya has a point. Dueling is his only way out. He beckons an officer to fetch his deck and duel disk, as he is fond of dueling and even something of a champion himself, which the officer can do since the ring of fire Maya conjured died out by this point. They ready their duel disks, starting the game.

 

Maya: 8000 || Magian: 8000

 

MAYA’S TURN: “I Normal Summon Gambitpawn Archfiend and use its effect: I send a monster from my hand to the Graveyard to Special Summon Terrorking Archfiend from my Deck!” Two Archfiends, members of a famous class of powerful demons, appear. They vaguely resemble a pawn and a king in chess, with muscles and bones revealed as they lack skin. “And Archfiend Heiress kicks off since I just pitched her. I add an Archfiend card to my hand. 

 

“Then, I activate Card of Safe Return. I get to draw a card whenever I resurrect one of my monsters. I’ll set two cards face down and end my turn.”

 

MAGIAN’S TURN: He cooks a plain in his head, then gloats, “Do you know how the rules work these days, my dear?”

 

Maya chuckles, and replies, “Of course. There currently exist five kinds of Extra Deck monsters: Fusion, Synchro, Xyz, Pendulum, and Link. You need to use Link monsters to summon more Extra Deck monsters. But there is another rule. You can summon monsters from your Extra Deck only once per turn.”              

 

Magian nods. “Correct. Often that means only one monster but there are exceptions, letting you summon many monsters from your Extra Deck within a single ‘action’. I can use Pendulum Scales to bring out many Pendulum Monsters. I can also do this...

 

“I activate Obedience Schooled to Special Summon 3 Beast monsters from my Deck.” And just like that three weak beasts: Elephun, Gallis the Star Beast, and The Wicked Worm Beast come into play. “Next, I activate Double Fusion! I pay 1000 Life Points to Fusion Summon twice. I fuse Elephun and Gallis to make Biparte Unicorn, then use it with my Worm Beast to Fusion Summon Triparte Unicorn!” (Magian LP 8000 → 7000)

 

Maya studies the unicorn, which is part horse, part lion, and part bird, made of three distinct colors, plotting her next move.

 

Magian orders, “Triparte Unicorn, tri-beam that ugly Terrorking!” And his monster launches its attack. Terrorking Archfiend does not take the hit; instead, his servant blocks the attack and perishes from the blow. “WHAT!?”

 

“I can get Gambitpawn to be destroyed instead of Terrorking.” Maya explains the dumbfounded police chief. “You won’t be turning triangles into squares this time.” (Maya LP 8000 → 7200)

 

“Maybe, but you cannot escape the law, not in games and not in real life. Triparte Unicorn lets me banish 3 Beast monsters from my Graveyard. Now, since I inflicted 800 damage, you must mill 8 cards.” Magian orders.

 

“Whatever.” Maya sighs, tossing her 8 cards to the Graveyard. “Putting Fiend or Zombie monsters in the Graveyard is a bad idea. They become ghosts with grudges. Here are two: Archfiend Heiress lets me add another Archfiend card to my hand while Archfiend of Gilfer weakens your magical pony.”

 

Magian can only watch as huge gargoyle rises from the grave to clasp unto his monster, weakening it. (Triparte Unicorn ATK 2800 → 2300) “The duel is far from over, terrorist. I set two cards facedown.”

 

And just before he ends his turn Maya activates her Trap Card. “I use Call of the Archfiend to discard a weak Fiend monster to Special Summon a stronger one from my Graveyard: Archfiend Emperor, the First Lord of Horror!” A giant devil in armor, easily topping twelve feet in height, rises from the shadows of the Graveyard below, and Maya draws an extra card. “Get ready! I’m just warming up and you’re about to see a mook horror show!”

 

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Duel 4 - Lights Out

 

 

 

[spoiler Magian summons Obelisk but God Cards ain't sh!t.]

Maya: 7200 || Magian: 7000

 

The big duel catches everyone’s attention in the big city by this point. The police and protestors, who violently clashed moments ago, watch Maya and Magian square off in rapt attention as if the duel is an epic baseball game. It might as well be spring even though it is the cusp of winter. A few news reporters arrive at the scene by this point alongside many drones capturing tonight’s news from the air.

 

Maya almost purrs as a contented lion as everything is going according to plan. As she said many years ago, dueling is not about winning but about making a point. And of course about making a show. Sofia secretly planted electric bombs in both Maya’s and Magian’s duel disks. The loser will become burnt meat. Now isn’t that fun? True, this kind of entertainment is a little rough, but the degenerate masses always enjoy a blood sport.    

 

As for Magian, he never enjoyed playing a card game as much as he does now, like the good old days when he played poker but, instead of betting money, the players had to take turns playing Russian roulette. A part of him exhilarates in the crowd and media gathered around him and his opponent though he laments over the few human faces awash in the sea of machines. He had a German Shepherd, Ellie, a true companion after his family left him, but she died from gunshot wounds during a police chase. Dogs and cops no longer work together. Unthinkable.

 

MAYA’S TURN: Maya pays Life Points for the upkeep of her Terrorking Archfiend (Maya LP 7200 → 6400). Then, she expands her devilish army. “I activate Archfiend General from my hand; I discard it to add Pandemonium.” She activates the Field Spell and the street transforms into a fiery pit guarded by the bones of ancient fiends long extinct.

 

“The bowels of Hell,” Magian comments. “Where your black soul is destined.”

 

Maya retorts, smirking, “Guess we’ll be playing card games in Hell forever.

 

“I’ll use Archfiend Emperor’s effect to banish an Archfiend card in my Graveyard to pop your back row.” Surely enough, the monstrous king draws upon dark magic from the netherworld and burns away one card. “Now, my dark emperor, wipe out Triparte Unicorn!”

 

“Sorry to burst your bubble.” Magian counters. “You destroyed the wrong face down card. I activate Mirror Force!” A holy barrier catches the archfiend’s hand blows him to pieces, taking out Terrorking with him.”

 

“Mirror Force? How quant.” Maya scoffs. “I activate A Deal With Dark Ruler! Destroying my Level 8 monster fulfilled my contract, letting me Special Summon Berserk Dragon from my Deck!” An even more ferocious monster, a black dragon skeleton with evil glowing red eyes, lands on the field, shaking the ground. (Magian LP 7000 → 6000)   

 

The shock overwhelms Magian so much he nearly falls to the ground. The protestors cheer from the back, rejoicing to see a porker eat some concrete. “Do what you like! No matter what happens I will defeat you! I’m not a winner, not a quitter! I told you I’m not good at giving up!” Magian yells, desperate to save face.

 

“Please,” Maya snorts. You’re not an anime protagonist. You’re a porker, a mook, a redshirt.  I eat henchmen like you for Sunday brunch.”

 

“Keep making fun of me and see where that gets you!”

 

Maya wonders, pretending to be clueless, “I mean, I would roast you but cooking pork isn’t kosher. Speaking of roasting, Berserk Dragon, cook me some Triparte Unicorn!” The black dragon burns its hobbled quarry to ash. The meat, needless to say, is overdone.

 

“And I activate Escape from the Dark Dimension! I banished her to use my Archfiend Emperor’s effect. Now, Her Majesty arrives with pomp and circumstance! I Special Summon Archfiend Empress!” A tall dark queen bearing a certain resemblance to Mary Stuart graces the court, accompanied by a small orchestra of fiends playing royal music with duck kazoos.  

 

 

 

This little stunt causes Magian to laugh in good fun. Something about it makes him, as an Italian Catholic, very happy.

 

But Maya puts his moment of bliss to a sudden end. “Empress, attack him directly!” The archfiend conjures a deadly spell of fire with her scepter and blasts Magian, throwing him off his feet. (Magian LP 6000 → 4100) I enter my End Phase and send Gunnerook Archfiend from my hand to the Graveyard.” All of Maya’s monsters that died this turn come back, even Archfiend of Gilfer, and Maya draws a card amid more cheers from the protestors.

 

MAGIAN’S TURN: Magian sighs in relief. This strategy will help him stall a bit. “I activate two Card of Safe Return and then Monster Reborn to bring back Triparte Unicorn!” His monster gallops up from the Graveyard back to the plane of the living and Magian draws two cards. “I’ll strengthen my unicorn with Wild Nature’s Release!” The unicorn gains so much power and rage it boils completely red, steam coming from its nostrils. (ATK 2800 → 4800)

 

Maya grimaces with a humorous expression made famous by Obama. “Not bad for a mook.”

 

“Triparte Unicorn, skewer Archfiend Emperor!” Magian commands. “Show Maya the strength that surpasses Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon!” The unicorn would drill the emperor a new hole but his queen, Archfiend Empress, is able to protect any Archfiend from being destroyed and so blocks the attack. (Maya Life 6400 → 4600)

 

“Isn’t friendship magic?” Magian snarks.

 

“No. No, it is not.” Maya says.

 

Magian, forced to a defensive position, sets a card facedown and ends his turn with a grumble. His Triparte Unicorn dies from the effect of Wild Nature’s Release, which triggers its own effect Magian Special Summons his three banished beasts: Elephun, Gallis, and The Wicked Worm Beast.  

 

MAYA’S TURN: “I enter my Standby Phase, so I banish Gunnerook from my Graveyard to revive Infernalqueen Archfiend from the same realm.” A black cloud rises from the ground and forms into a lesser queen of fiends, and Maya draws a card. “And I banish an Archfiend from my Graveyard so Emperor can destroy your back row.”

 

“I activate my Set card: Beast’s Pride!” While the Archfiend Emperor does burn Magian’s card to ashes, his monsters all glow with a powerful prideful red aura, protecting them any form of destruction this turn.

 

This doesn’t sadden Maya too much. “Oh, well. I’ll just strengthen my chess army. I network Terrorking, Infernalqueen, Empress, and Gilfer to Link Summon their patron deity, Archfiend Goddess Caissa!” Maya’s fiends merge into the four corners of a six point grid portal, activating it, and the great goddess of dark beauty emerges.

 

“I use one of her many effects to Special Summon Flankfool Archfiend from my Deck. Then I Special Summon Archfiend Commander from my hand.” Two new demons appear, a frightening jester wearing a mockery of a bishop’s vestments and a larger fiend in formal clerical jewels, which destroys the jester right after he comes from the field. Thus, Maya adds another Archfiend monster to her head because of Pandemonium.

 

“I activate Call of the Archfiend, discarding a Fiend monster to Special Summon Archfiend Empress from my Graveyard. And I Normal Summon Archfiend Battleballer!” The queen of devils returns and a new subject of hers, a sportsman in football gear, joins her side.

 

Maya inspects her Graveyard: 8 Archfiend monsters. “Yup, it checks out. Caissa has 6400 attack strength. Bobby Fischer would be proud.”

 

Magian gives Maya a stare so blank Maya can almost hear crickets in the background. Maya sighs. “6400, like 64, like the number of squares on the chessboard, and Fischer died when he was 64? Whatever. It’s cool how Archfiends symbolise every sport, even chess.”

 

Magian forcefully rejects the idea. “Chess is not a sport!”

 

“You’re a professional party pooper, you know that?” Maya complains. “It’s literally part of your job to ruin parties.”

 

“What can I say? Drug dens go against truth and justice.”

 

The protestors hiss and boo at Magian for such a remark. The police shout them down in anger.

 

“You really got brainwashed by Nixon, didn’t you, you old fart?” Maya says, annoyed. “Regardless, I set three cards facedown. Since I now enter the End Phase, I can banish Flankfool from my Graveyard to return a dead Archfiend to my hand.” Maya carefully selects one such monster, the first one Magian milled. Fitting.    

 

Meanwhile, her Berserk Dragon weakens further. (ATK 3000 → 2500)

 

MAGIAN’S TURN: “I activate Ayers Rock Sunrise to Special Summon Biparte Unicorn from the Graveyard!” He two-piece chimera returns to the field. “I really hope my next two cards help me.” Magian says to himself, silently praying to God. He then draws two cards.

 

“Excellent! I activate Biparte Unicorn’s effect to Special Summon Green Baboon, Defender of the Forest from my hand!” A barbaric ape giant wiedling a cudgel also appears. “And now, I Tribute Elephun, Gallis, and the Worm Beast to Tribute Summon GIANT DIVINE SOLDIER OF OBELISK!” The heavens themselves seem to quake and the street almost splits open as the god descends to earth in the form of a gargoyle as tall as a small building.     

      

Maya gasps in shock and despair, “By Alfred Robert Kahn, how could I let this happen!” The activists wail openly, their faces ashen, while the police rejoice.

 

“Who is laughing now, you smug c*nt.” Magian gloats. “Time to eat your words! I offer Biparte Unicorn and Green Baboon to Obelisk to activate his greatest ability, SOUL ENERGY MAX!” The god clasps both monsters so hard their guts pop out, absorbing their energy until its color transforms from blue to bright purple, its attack strength becoming infinite! “GOD HAND CRUSHER!” Obelisk smashes through Maya’s army, obliterating them in an instead, and strikes Maya directly with its fist. (Maya LP 4600 → 0)

 

Maya flies several meters in the air and crashes on the steel traffic grates, hitting her head so hard she nearly blackens out from a concussion. She vomits on the street, her body violently shuddering. Now she knows how Malik felt after he got battered by Obelisk but for Maya it is even worse as great god now has infinite power.

 

Magian exults in his successful assault, eagerly watching Maya cough and hack her insides out. He freely ejaculates every victory shout he knows, which is only five, and the police join him. The protestors fall on their knees and begin crying. They know they are done for.

 

But something isn’t right. The duel holograms should disappear by now but they did not. Why!? And Maya’s field has a face up Continuous Trap Card, which keeps gaining Counters at breakneck speed: 20 Counters, 60 Counters, 100 Counters, 200 Counters, 700 Counters, 999 Counters. Magian was so euphoric he forgot to notice Maya played a Trap Card. But why should it matter?

 

The protestors ask themselves the same question. Maya slowly crawls her way back to the field, still hacking now and then. She shouts, “Time out! Time out! TIME OUT! How in the name of 4Kids Entertainment did you get your hands on Obelisk!?”

 

“A lovely rich Chinese lady gave a copy of the three god cards to me.” Magian explains. “Very generous of her, though I have no idea why.”

 

“Yes,” Maya says to herself and you, the audience. “Why would Yifan give such powerful tools to a random chud? Unless she wanted to test me by setting me up against a god. How devious of her. Truly worthy of the Asian stereotype.”

 

“It doesn’t matter anyway. You lost.” Magian reminds her.

 

“Did I?” Maya winks at him. “I activate Relay Soul! You brought my Life Points to 0 but this card carries my existence to a monster I get to Special Summon from my hand. Come forth, Archfiend Swordsqueen!” A brand new creature emerges, a demon swordswoman in light armor with martial arts so graceful she seems to be dancing. “She also grows stronger by the combined Levels of all the Fiend monsters you killed.” (Archfiend Swordsqueen ATK 2500 → 5700, Maya LP: RELAY SOUL)

 

“Talk about a broken card effect.” Magian complains.

 

Maya hits back, “Says the guy who played a god card with infinite attack strength! I play Relay Soul and I’m cheap. When Yugi plays Relay Soul he cleverly escapes the jaws of defeat!”

 

“You’re not Yugi. You are not anointed by God to be King of Games.”

 

“Please. I don’t have to be a pharaoh, a god on earth. I only have to be Maya, a normal mortal human being, which is far greater. Killing god is the bare minimum required for someone as strong as me.”

 

MAYA’S TURN: “My face up Trap Card, Ring of Fire, should have infinite counters since I took infinite battle damage but it doesn’t look like the designers foresaw this possibility. I send it to the Graveyard to power up Archfiend Swordsqueen by 100 points for each counter!” 999 Fire Ring Counters infuse the fiend with their hellfire, bringing her attack strength to exponential levels. (Archfiend Swordsqueen ATK 5700 → 105, 600)

 

“WHAT!?” Magian gasps in utter surprise. The protesters cheer for Maya once more.

 

“I activate Infernal Bombast to double her power!” The warrior queen roars as even more hellfire strengthens her. (Archfiend Swordsqueen ATK 105, 600 → 211,200)

 

“WHAAAAAAAAT!? Magian shouts again. The protesters reach a deafening roar.

 

“And I reveal my face down card, Pump Up! I double Swordsqueen’s power once more!” The archfiend blazes in a flame as bright as the sun. (Archfiend Swordsqueen ATK 211,200 → 422, 400) “Not exactly infinite but blame KaibaCorp’s primitive technology.”

 

“WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT!?” Magian is flabbergasted.

 

The protesters break into chant:
“Hey hey! Ho no!
Pink fat porkers got to go!

Ho ho! Hey hey!
No Momentum U.S.A.!”

 

Maya gives her farewell speech to all of New York City. “I said before dueling is not about winning but about telling a message! Here it is! Neither you, nor your police force, nor your city, nor your country, nor your high mages are a match for me! I embody something far greater than any nation, any god, any civilization!”

 

Maya roars a final time, “Archfiend Swordsqueen, destroy Obelisk and Magian!” Her ace monster leaps high in the air, briefly turning night into day, and in a blaze cuts Obelisk in half down the middle. The great god shatters into flames. Magian screams as the meteor storm rains down on him. (Magian LP 4100 → 0)     

 

Maya concludes, “God is dead. And I have killed him.”  

 

Maya: RELAY SOUL || Magian: 0

 

“Now for New York City’s penalty game.” Maya says to herself. Magian gets off easy: as soon as his Life Points hit zero his duel disks fries him with a powerful shock, killing him before he even starts falling to the ground. Magian falls into blackness and all of downtown follows him. Every electric instrument shuts down: every light winks out, every phone breaks, every police robot slumps, every news drone crashes to the ground from the air, everyone is cast into darkness.

 

There is absolute silence for a moment. Then someone panics, shrieking, “We’re all gonna die!” Protesters and police riot in the chaos, clashing with each other once more. But the police, having lost their guard robots, are severely outnumbered. The protesters bulldoze the cops and raise every street downtown in a blind fury. Thus, we witness the world’s darkest night so far.

 

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[spoiler MAYA’S CARDS]

 

Gambitpawn Archfiend

EARTH/Level 2/Fiend/ATK 1200/DEF 0

  • If you Normal Summon this card, you can discard 1 card from your hand: Special Summon 1 “Terrorking Archfiend” or “Infernalqueen Archfiend” from your hand or Deck.

  • If “Archfiend” monster(s) you control would be destroyed: you can destroy this monster instead.

  • Pay 500 Life Points during each of your Standby Phases. When you lose Life Points from a card effect: increase the ATK and DEF of 1 “Terrorking Archfiend” or “Infernalqueen Archfiend” you control by the same amount.

 

Octoknight Archfiend

WIND/Level 4/Fiend/ATK 2000/DEF 1600

  • Half the ATK and DEF of this card if your opponent controls no monsters.

  • During the Battle Phase you can Tribute this card. Target 1 “Archfiend” monster you control: during this turn, it can attack your opponent directly.

  • Pay 900 Life Points during each of your Standby Phases. When you lose Life Points from a card effect: inflict damage to your opponent equal to half that amount.

 

Flankfool Archfiend

WATER/Level 3/ATK 1600/DEF 300

TUNER

  • If this card is sent from the field to the Graveyard this turn, banish it during the End Phase: add 1 “Archfiend” card from your Graveyard to your hand..

  • If your opponent’s monster attacks 1 “Archfiend” monster you control: you can Special Summon this card from your Graveyard and, if you do, negate the attack.

  • Pay 500 Life Points during each of your Standby Phases. When you lose Life Points from a card effect: decrease the ATK and DEF of all monsters your opponent controls by the same amount until the end of this turn.

 

Gunnerook Archfiend

LIGHT/Level 3/ATK 1900/DEF 800

  • You can discard this card during the End Phase: Special Summon all “Archfiend” monster(s) from your Graveyard that were sent from the field to the Graveyard this turn.

  • Once per turn: you can banish this card from your Graveyard: Special Summon 1 “Terrorking Archfiend” or “Infernalqueen Archfiend” from your Deck or Graveyard.

  • Pay 500 Life Points during each of your Standby Phases. When you lose Life Points from a card effect: discard 1 “Archfiend” card and draw 1 card.  

 

Archfiend Battleballer

DARK/Level 2/Fiend/ATK 0/DEF 0

TUNER

  • You take no battle damage from battles involving this card.

  • If this card is destroyed in battle: increase the ATK of 1 “Archfiend” monster you control by the same ATK of the monster this card battled until the end of this turn and, if you do, destroy the monster that battled this card.

 

Archfiend Swordsqueen

DARK/Level 7/Fiend/ATK 2500/DEF 2100

  • If at least 2 Fiend monsters you control are sent to the Graveyard during this turn: you can Special Summon this monster from your hand or Graveyard.

  • If this card is Special Summoned: increase the ATK and DEF of this card by the total Levels of all monsters you control sent to the Graveyard during this turn x100 until your End Phase.

 

Archfiend Goddess Caissa

DARK/Level 10/Fiend/ATK ?/top-left, top-right, bottom-left, bottom-right

LINK (4 “Archfiend” monsters)

  • The ATK of this card becomes the number of “Archfiend” monsters in your Graveyard x800.

  • Once per turn: you can Special Summon 1 “Archfiend” monsters from your hand, Deck, or Graveyard. It cannot attack your opponent directly and is destroyed at the End Phase.

  • If this card would leave the field: you can banish this card and 1 Fiend monster you control or in your Graveyard. Special Summon both monsters at the end of this turn.

 

Unhealed Battle Scars

Continuous Trap

(This card is always treated as an “Archfiend” card.)

  • You can activate this card if you control “Archfiend” monster(s). Your opponent also pays the same Life Points that you pay for “Archfiend” monsters.

  • If you do not control “Archfiend” monster(s): destroy this card.

 

Ring of Fire

Continuous Trap

  • Place 1 Fire Ring Counter on this card for each 100 points of battle damage you take.

  • During your Main Phase 1: you can send this card to the Graveyard. Increase the ATK of 1 DARK or FIRE monster you control by the number of Fire Ring Counters on this card x100.

 

Relay Soul (anime)

Normal Trap

  • When your Life Points become 0: Special Summon 1 monster from your hand (you do not Lose the Duel). When the Special Summoned monster is removed from the field, your opponent Wins the Duel.

 

Infernal Bombast

Normal Spell

  • Target 1 Fiend monster you control: double its ATK. Destroy it after the Battle Phase.

 

Pump Up! (anime)

Normal Spell

  • Target 1 face-up monster on the field: double its ATK until the End Phase.

 

 

 

[spoiler MAGIAN’S CARDS]

 

Double Fusion (errata)

Normal Spell

  • Pay 1000 Life Points. Fusion Summon 1 Fusion Monster from your Extra Deck, using monsters from your hand or field as Fusion Material. Then, immediately activate this effect again.

 

Beast’s Pride

Normal Trap

  • Level 4 or lower Beast monsters on the field cannot be destroyed this turn.

Biparte Unicorn

LIGHT/Level 6/Beast/ATK 2400/DEF 1000

FUSION (2 Level 3 or lower Beast monsters)

  • Once per turn: you can Special Summon 1 Beast monster from your hand. You can only Special Summon Beast monsters for the rest of this turn.

 

Triparte Unicorn

LIGHT/Level 7/Beast/ATK 2800/DEF 1000

FUSION (“Biparte Unicorn” + 1 Level 3 or lower Beast monster)

  • If this card battles a monster and inflicts battle damage to your opponent, you can banish 3 Beast monsters from your Graveyard: send cards from the top of your opponent’s Deck to the Graveyard for each 100 points of battle damage.

  • If this card is destroyed by card effect: Special Summon 3 Beast monsters from your Banished Zone.

 

GIANT DIVINE SOLDIER OF OBELISK (anime)

DIVINE/Level 10/Divine-Beast/ATK 4000/DEF 4000

  • Requires 3 Tributes to Normal Summon (cannot be Normal Set). This card's Normal Summon and Special Summon cannot be negated. When Normal Summoned or Special Summoned, cards and effects cannot be activated.

  • Once per turn, during the End Phase, if this card was Special Summoned from the Graveyard: Send it to the Graveyard.

  • Cannot be targeted or removed from the field by card effects. A card effect can only affect this card for 1 turn.

  • You can Tribute 2 monsters (other than this card): Destroy all monsters your opponent controls and increase the ATK of this card to INF during this turn.    

 

SKY DRAGON OF OSIRIS (anime)

DIVINE/Level 10/Divine-Beast/ATK ?/DEF ?

  • Requires 3 Tributes to Normal Summon (cannot be Normal Set). This card's Normal Summon and Special Summon cannot be negated. When Normal Summoned or Special Summoned, cards and effects cannot be activated.

  • Once per turn, during the End Phase, if this card was Special Summoned from the Graveyard: Send it to the Graveyard.

  • Cannot be targeted or removed from the field by card effects. A card effect can only affect this card for 1 turn.

  • Gains 1000 ATK and DEF for each card in your hand.

  • If a monster(s) is Normal or Special Summoned to your opponent's field: That monster(s) loses 2000 ATK and DEF, then if its ATK or DEF has been reduced to 0 as a result, destroy it.

 

SUN GOD DRAGON OF RA (anime)

DIVINE/Level 10/Divine-Beast/ATK ?/DEF ?

  • Requires 3 Tributes to Normal Summon (cannot be Normal Set). This card's Normal Summon and Special Summon cannot be negated. When Normal Summoned or Special Summoned, cards and effects cannot be activated.

  • Once per turn, during the End Phase, if this card was Special Summoned from the Graveyard: Send it to the Graveyard.

  • Cannot be targeted or removed from the field by card effects. A card effect can only affect this card for 1 turn.

  • If Normal Summoned: This card gains ATK and DEF equal to the total ATK and DEF of all monsters Tributed to Normal Summon this card. You can Tribute monsters you control: This card gains ATK and DEF equal to the total ATK and DEF of all monsters Tributed.  

  • You can pay Life Points so that you only have 1 left; this card gains ATK and DEF equal to the amount of Life Points paid.

  • You can pay 1000 Life Points: Destroy all monsters your opponent controls.

 

 

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Duel 5 - Three Nights in New York

 

 

 

[spoiler Maya does the thing with the video the guy in the Guy Fawkes mask did in the movie no one remembers anymore.]

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“One of our chauffeurs.” Pegasus reminds him.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

       

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

Quote

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“I can fly.” Yifan says.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Duel 6 - Cuadros y Compañeros

 

 

 

[spoiler A dysfunctional family reunites.]

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Maya becomes exhausted. “Whatever. Enough.”

 

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

 

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

 

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Duel 7 - Skirting Shangri-La

 

 

 

[spoiler Trust me it's not drugs.]

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“I believe the kids these days call it ‘fake and [email protected]’.” Yukio quips.   

 

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

 

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

 

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Duel 8 - Six Minutes in Hell

 

 

 

[spoiler No celebrities were harmed in the writing of this chapter.]

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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So yeah I've been playing with myself on Dueling Book for a while so I can get a strong grasp of how the duels in Endgame will go down. No ban list. Lot's of duels where the Deck gets really thin after many turns. Pushing the game to its limits without FTKs.

 

Good sample duel between Maya and Atem right here. His Royal Highness lasted quite a few turns for a change, but not even his god draws can save him.

 

DUEL REPLAY HERE

 

Atem Deck:

main

extra

 

Maya Deck:

main

extra

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Duel 9 - Deep and Dirty

 

 

 

[spoiler Maya tortures a grieving old man with a children's card game.]

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

 

MAYA: 8000 || Secmeton: 8000

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“What on earth -”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“You killed my only son!”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“True King, destroy Clothon!” Secmeton commands. Like a dragon, his monster destroys its foe with a blast from its mouth, forcing Maya to shield herself from the ricochets of the onslaught. (Maya LP 8000 —> 5000) “I set a card.”

 

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

 

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

 

“I read the card.” Secmeton tersely replies.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“I’d like to see you try.”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Duel 10 - Trapped In Davy’s Locker

 

 

 

[spoiler Secmeton gets a combo rolling. Whatever will our hero do.]

 

Maya: 200 || Secmeton: 3950

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“I activate Monster Reborn! I revive -”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Duel 11 - A Very Possible Victory

 

 

 

[spoiler SPOILERS: everyone dies in the next three years.]

MAYA: 50 || SECMETON: 1975

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Do not play with me!” Secmeton growls.

 

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

 

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

 

MAYA: 50 || SECMETON: 0

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Spoilers: everyone dies.” Mathias comments dryly.      

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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[spoiler MAYA’S CARDS:]

Cœlestial Siren Clothon

LIGHT/Fiend/Level 10/ATK 0/DEF 0

  1. Cannot be destroyed by battle. Your opponent takes any battle damage you would have taken from battles involving this card instead.

  2. At the end of the Battle Phase, if this card battled: shuffle 1 card your opponent controls into the Deck(s) for each 1000 points of damage inflicted by this card during this turn.

  3. If this card is destroyed: half both players Life Points.

 

Cœlestial Siren Lacheson

LIGHT/Fiend/Level 10/ATK 0/DEF 0

  1. Cannot be destroyed by battle. Your opponent takes any battle damage you would have taken from battles involving this card instead.

  2. At the end of the Battle Phase, if this card battled: your opponent discards 1 random card for each 1000 points of damage inflicted by this card during this turn.

  3. If this card is destroyed: banish all non-”Cœlestial Siren” monsters on the field until your 2nd Standby Phase after activation.

 

Cœlestial Siren Atropon

LIGHT/Fiend/Level 10/ATK 0/DEF 0

  1. Cannot be destroyed by battle. Your opponent takes any battle damage you would have taken from battles involving this card instead.

  2. At the end of the Battle Phase, if this card battled: Special Summon 2 "Cœlestial Siren" monsters with different names from your hand, Deck, or Graveyard.

  3. If this card is destroyed: both players shuffle all cards in the Graveyard into the Deck(s).

 

Dark Necrophilia

DARK/Fiend/Level 8/ATK 2200/DEF 2800

  1. Cannot be Normal Summoned. Must first be Special Summoned by banishing 3 Fiends from your Graveyard.

  2. If this card is destroyed and sent to the Graveyard, as long as it is in the Graveyard: each time your opponent's monster attacks, flip a coin. If Heads: negate the attack. Your opponent takes damage and you gain Life Points equal to half the monster's ATK.

 

Cavern Golem

DARK/Fiend/Level 8/ATK 3000/DEF 2500

  1. Can be Special Summoned from your hand by Tributing 1 monster your opponent controls.

  2. You can discard 1 card during your End Phase; if not, change control of this card.

 

Stygian Ghost Jockey

DARK/Level 2/Fiend/ATK 300/DEF 1350

TUNER

  1. During your opponent's turn, if your opponent's monster attacks you directly: you can Special Summon this card from your hand or Graveyard and Special Summon 2 "Ghost Jockey" Tokens (DARK/Level 1/Fiend/ATK 0/DEF 0).

  2. During your opponent's End Phase: banish this card from your Graveyard.

 

Stygian Drag Racer

DARK/Level 3/Fiend/ATK 1650/DEF 600

  1. If you Summon this card, you can banish it until your next Standby Phase: send 1 Fiend monster from your Deck to the Graveyard OR add 1 Fiend monster with a different name from your Deck to your hand. You can only Summon Fiend monsters this turn.

 

Stygian Kart Racer

DARK/Level 3/Fiend/ATK 1350/DEF 300

  1. If you Normal Summon this card, you can banish it until your next Standby Phase: draw 1 card. If it is a Fiend Monster Card, you can reveal it, and draw 1 more card.

 

Quantum Stargate

Spell Card

  1. If your opponent controls monsters and you control no monsters: Special Summon 1 monster with 0 ATK and DEF from your hand or Deck in Attack Position. It cannot be Tributed or used as Material for any Special Summon from the Extra Deck.

 

Pot of Eternity

Spell Card

  1. Shuffle 5 banished cards into the Deck(s) and draw 2 cards.

  2. You cannot activate any Spell Cards this turn (except this card).

 

[spoiler SECMETON'S CARDS:]

Ghost Mariner Davy Jones

WATER/Level 4/Fiend/ATK 1600/DEF 1000

  1. During the End Phase: you can shuffle all WATER monsters banished during this turn into the Deck(s).

  2. You can destroy 1 WATER monster you control (except this card): Set 1 “Ghost Mariner” Continuous Trap Card from your Graveyard.

 

Ghost Mariner’s Sky Curse

Continuous Trap Card

  1. When your opponent activates a Spell Card, if you control “Ghost Mariner Davy Jones”, you can banish 3 WATER monsters from your Graveyard: Negate the Spell Card and destroy it.

 

Ghost Mariner’s Trench Curse

Continuous Trap Card

  1. When your opponent activates a Trap Card, if you control “Ghost Mariner Davy Jones”, you can banish 3 WATER monsters from your Graveyard: Negate the Trap Card and destroy it.

 

Ghost Mariner’s Shore Curse

Continuous Trap Card

  1. When your opponent’s monster attacks, if you control “Ghost Mariner Davy Jones”, you can banish 3 WATER monsters from your Graveyard: Negate the attack and destroy the monster.

 

Dreadnaught Fortress Whale

WATER/Level 8/Fish/? ATK/? DEF

  1. You can Tribute more than 2 monsters to Tribute Summon this card. The ATK/DEF of this card is equal to the total ATK of all WATER monsters Tributed to Tribute Summon this card.

  2. If this card would be destroyed: you can destroy 1 monster you control instead.

 

Grand Heron

WATER/Level 10/Winged Beast/ATK 2000/DEF 2000

  1. When you Normal Summon this card: you can add 1 WATER Level 7 or higher monster to your hand.

  2. Once per turn, you can discard 1 WATER monster: return all Spell/Traps on the field to the hand.

  3. If your opponent only controls face-up monsters: this card can attack directly.

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Since I just posted my chapter, I would like to comment a bit on the rules of the manga version of the Yugioh card game. (Specifically, the “Super Expert Rules” from Battle City onward.

 

In the manga, you can only activate/Set 1 Spell Card and 1 Trap Card directly from your hand per turn. All Spells are like Quick-Play Spells in the TCG. You can’t activate them the turn you Set them but other than that you can activate them whenever you want on either player’s turn. And you can activate as many Spells and Traps as you want once they’re already Set and you passed your turn.

 

Spells have a big advantage over Traps since you can activate them on either player’s turn, but most Spells (in the manga at least) cannot directly counter your opponent’s attacks/Summons/etc. Traps can block your opponent more effectively. I have yet to see any hand Traps in the manga but they probably work like Spells.

 

The manga rules seem to make the game more fun, because there is more back and forth, more battling, between you and your opponent. They make the game feel more like poker since you have to spend more time reading your opponent, figuring out which cards they Set are Spells or Traps. They also work as a natural floodgate, without the cumbersome Mana Cards or Energy Cards you see in Magic or Pokemon.

 

Yugioh as it is played today is cancer. You have to spend 5 hours spamming Link monsters and setting up a board, most of it on Summoning a billion monsters in one turn. The Main Phase 1 has swallowed up most of the game like a tumor, and makes it feel more like solitaire than an actual battle with your opponent. The TCG was always like this but it’s ludicrous now. I’m not suggesting we switch to manga rules or anything like that, but wanted to show how the game was first conceived.

 

I even flirted with the idea of writing my fanfics with manga rules but it is too late now. If you ever wanted to know why Yugi makes wacky plays in the anime, now you know, since the anime was carried over from the manga, which had different rules.

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Duel 12 - Maritime Marriage Therapy

 

 

 

[spoilers Those two need to get a marriage - or a divorce.]

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Mathias is a fool.”

 

“I believe the same thing he does.”

 

“You’re an idiot too.”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Maya has no answer.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“I really hate you sometimes.” Yukio mutters.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Yukio nods.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Men who drowned in the wat’ry deep,

Now soar upwards t’wards the sky.

We stop our climb and fall asleep.

Tomorrow we soar on high.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Duel 13 - Much Going On

 

 

 

[spoilers Sofia gets a weird workout.]

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

And so I wake in the morning

And I step outside

And I take a deep breath and I get real high

And I scream from the top of my lungs

What's going on? 

 

And I say, hey yeah yeah, hey yeah yeah

I said hey, what's going on?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Sofia nods, visibly confused. 

 

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

 

“A white man.” Sofia blurts out.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Even in a tent city?”

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Duel 14 - Brulinner For Champions 

 

 

 

[spoiler Sofia making those gains! And rap battles!]

Now the real sparring begins. Both women release a fraction of their power, eyes glowing red, brandishing swords of fire conjured by their willpower. Maya keeps a leisurely tempo for now, like that of a sarabande, moving slowly enough for Sofia to parry her assault without too much trouble. Thankfully, the fighters use minimal Ka on their swords, so even if Maya hits Sofia with the blade her student will merely get singed. 

 

Sofia blocks Maya’s attacks and counters with gestures of her own right after, all while skipping around the field, kind of like a highland dance. Maya picks up the pace to a gigue, then a gavotte, lashing at Sofia with ever greater speed and strength. It gets to the point where Sofia staggers under the blows, forcing her to stand her ground and make a committed counterattack, not half-hearted parries.

 

Maya surprises Sofia with a sudden drop and a kick to the stomach, a Capoercia that slams Sofia into the cavity of a large rock near the ocean waves. Literally backed into a corner, Sofia strikes back with heavy cleaves. Pleased, Maya lets Sofia plow her way through, keeping it challenging just enough to make Sofia sweat. Sofia takes a gamble; she lunges forward, burning the wrist of Maya’s sword arm. Unfortunately for Sofia, her dance is clumsy and, stretching herself too far, leaves herself open.

 

It is a fraction of a section, but an hour from the womens’ point of view. Maya takes advantage of her sweet time and slashes her opponent’s abdomen. Sofia yells, a thin black line burned past her clothes and into her flesh. dropping her guard entirely. Maya, all too happy to take advantage of the opportunity, lands a low blow right into Sofia’s wound, making her fall to the ground, utterly defeated.

 

Maya examines the wound, taking care not to wince, though she is very tempted to do so. “As my great grand uncle twice removed, Clarence Jones, loved to say, ‘Better have blisters and a scar than a stump on your wrist.’” She says in an exaggerated genial tone.

 

“You don’t have a great grand uncle twice removed.” Sofia moans as she clutches her abdomen. “I mean, you probably do, but I doubt you know his name, or anything he said.”

 

Maya sits in a cross-legged position near her apprentice, cocking her head in a quizzical manner. “Have you ever watched the Magic School Bus?”

 

“What’s that again?”

 

“A cooky teacher sends kids on magic field trips to give them science lessons.”

 

It rings a bell. Sofia finally gets it, and makes a sarcastic laugh. Maya helps her to her feet - she points to a place behind Sofia. “Look! Wayne is brutalising Eric and Megan!”

 

Sofia crosses her arms in disbelief. “I don’t believe you.”

 

“No, really! I’m serious! It’s disgusting! It’s like hardcore porn by National Geographic!”

 

This catches Sofia’s morbid curiosity, so she cannot help but turn around and watch. Indeed, the hooligan Wayne violently pecks Eric into submission, tearing out several feathers, and proceeds to rape Megan. Sofia drops her jaw in surprise and disgust. 

 

“PSYCHE! KIDNEY PUNCH!” Maya smashes the side of Sofia’s back, making Sofia double down on the floor again. “You fell for the oldest trick in the book. Unbelievable.” When Sofia complains how it can be a trick since Maya was telling the truth, Maya replies, “Yes, you can tell the truth but still use it for deceitful purposes. I am a lenient teacher compared to experience, which will teach you the same lesson by cutting your hand off instead.”     

 

Maya helps Sofia to her feet again, but with no tricks in mind. She brings out a portable electric stove and invites Sofia to cook with her, which Sofia does. Maya instructs her on how to cook, not merely to make any food to eat, but how to cook well, to make the tastiest most nutritious food possible. Together, they cook fish alongside tomatoes, garlic, and ginger. They top off the fish with a pinch of butter and natural salt.

 

Sofia muses on what to call their meal. You cannot call it brunch because it’s too late for breakfast and maybe you can call it dinner, but what can you call all three meals in one? “Bulinner?” Sofia suggests, feeling silly. Maya laughs a bit, giving her approval. Why not? 

 

“The smallest things are really the largest things.” Maya observes while they eat. Embarrassed at saying such a cliche, she elaborates. “People in the past tended to shirk off small physical things like your diet, the climate you live in, the land you live off of, your daily habits as not too important factors that determine your nature as a human being and the choices you make. But those are really the most important factors.”

 

“Which people?” Sofia asks. “What things did they think were important instead?”

 

“Philosophers in the past, specifically Western ones to my limited knowledge. I imagine they cared more about big metaphysical ideas like the state of your conscious mind, your relationship with God, or the philosophical ideals you choose to have. But all those things are based on the food we eat, the state of our bodies, and other ‘merely’ physical things. It seems obvious now but I doubt it was not too long ago. Even all the magic fighting stuff we do is just an extension of our bodies.” Maya speaks in slow, lazy way, not too sure of herself.

 

“What about the soul? This is a Yugioh fanfic after all.” Sofia inquires further.

 

Maya nods, gazing at the waves lit into fire by the sunset, putting her thoughts together. She says, “I’d say consciousness, or the soul, is an emergent property created by the body. The actions of our cells create thoughts and various subconscious processes, which are not much on their own, but we fit them together like pieces of a puzzle. We create a fiction, a ‘virtual’ reality, where our little brain waves become somewhat coherent.”   

 

“What if you seal your soul into Millennium Item?” Sofia probes further.

 

“I guess the Millennium Item uses magic to change its host’s brain or create a consciousness in some other way.” Maya ruminates. “My point is the soul is not an actual substance like a rock or a pervert penguin. You might as well say the music I play is a substance. My advice to you: do not become preoccupied with your thoughts. We are not a being; we are a doing.”    

  

Sofia finishes her meal, laying back on the grass to see the stars. “Not to be disrespectful, but I think our readers are itching for a duel. We shouldn’t bore them.” 

 

Maya brushes her concern away. “Don’t worry. Let the plot take a promenade through Central Park. Do some world-building. We’re not in a New York Times bestseller, and thank God for that.” 

 

Sofia makes all sorts of sarcastic exclamations. 

“Wow!”

“Much high brow!”

“Such deep!”

“Very genius!”

“A great literature!”

 

Maya chuckles a bit, and says, “I didn’t discuss philosophy simply to bore you. It’s an appetizer of the next lesson, which you’ll learn when you’re ready. You’ll learn the final skill.”

 

“To transform into a dragon!” Sofia gasps. She trained under Maya in secret for three years, but Maya never brought it up until now.

 

Maya nods. “But not now.” She says. “Now, we rest and take the sword battles to the next level.”

 

“You tease!” Sofia scoffs as she lays down for a nap. She wonders if she actually likes Maya, and in more ways than one. It seems she does, a thought she finds amusing before she drifts to sleep. 

 

The women awaken to a dusk sky an hour later. They build up their Ka, their eyes burning red again, conjuring flaming swords from thin air once more, but more; they project fire from their backs and crowns, transforming it into black wings and horns. The penguins take seats around them to observe the battle. 

 

Teacher and student clash, throwing each other into the air, and from then onward dance as acrobats or birds, whirling around the landscape as if caught by a hurricane of the passions. They land on the base of the southernmost Andes mountains. Maya picks up the tempo of the exercise to a tarantella and gives Sofia a further challenge. “We’ll also play another game, a bit of a rap battle while we fight. It’s my turn. I clash blades with you, I deliver a line. Next time we cross swords, I come up with another line. Then, you’ll do the same.”

 

Sofia becomes baffled. “Are you kidding me? That’s the dumbest idea I ever heard.”

 

“You’ll like it. I promise.” Maya assures her, beaming in good humor. “It’ll teach you to think creatively on your feet. We must get out at least four iambs. Five is ideal. Also, we must rhyme four times - Hey! That works! - And…” She suddenly takes flight. “BEGIN!” The women tangle in the air like squabbling seagulls.

 

Gotta save the world! We gotta get lit!

But I must babysit a shrinking violet.

What can I do? Sofie doesn’t know <titicaca>.

She’s gotta get smacked in a royal battle blitz. 

 

Poor fool! You’re serious, but really dumb.

Your heart is gold but your feet are lead drums.

Don’t be timid, girl! Seize power! Get drunk!

Face your fears! Unleash the beast! Have some fun!  

 

Maya slams the wedge beneath Sofia’s ribs with her knee and ruthlessly throws her student to the rugged mountain below. Sofia stretches her palms out and, using her Ka as a shield, crash lands as a fiery meteor into a crater below. Maya lands nearby brandishing her red blade. Sofia swears at her teacher in frustration. “Ven a buscarme, puta!” Maya challenges her. Sofia replies with a fierce lunge, and they take off again, Sofia improvising verses of her own. 

 

You think you’re smart and chic!? Damn smarmy <snitch>!

You just got daddy issues! Admit it, witch!

Keep ridiculing people, and you’ll get a stitch

To match your crocodile tears and cheap tricks!

 

Call me a whore!? You know nothing of love

Or duty to anything above!

You only have your ego! You’re evil!

Like Yifan, an unrepentant devil!

 

Sofia tackles Maya head on, not caring about the searing cuts from her opponent’s blade. Fueled with fury and unleashing so much wrath she’s almost at the dragon stage, she pile drives Maya deep into a dark cave, getting them both buried in rubble.

 

Maya laughs in the darkness, her pain mixed with great pleasure. “You’re getting there! You dirty dog! You’re doing it!”

 

Sofia tightly clutches Maya’s waist. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to.” She would kowtow to Maya’s feet, begging forgiveness if she could. 

 

Maya gently dissuades her, adding: “Why do you feel sorry for being angry? I gave you a hard time. Your feelings are valid.” This moment takes Maya back to when she was in Egypt, buried under mounds of rubble in a cave. The dark night of the soul is a cliche, but Maya could say her time in Egypt was definitely that moment for her. She had a choice; she could either let herself die in her loss, pity, and confusion, or she could climb out of the mess and try again. She tells Sofia everything of that moment.

 

Sofia is deeply touched by Maya’s tale. She asks Maya if she can tell her something. When Maya affirms, Sofia says: “I used to be an orphan before I was adopted by Pegasus. - There’s a cliche if there ever was one! - It was more like a homeless shelter than any place a child could live in. I even considered becoming a baby prostitute. Thank God I never made that decision.”

 

Maya pities Sofia, even if only for a small moment. At least Maya had the choice of being a “soft prostitute” when she was a star duelist, not unlike what actresses and pop stars sometimes do in their careers. Maya never took it but it was a privileged option by comparison. 

 

“How did you end up in Pegasus’ care?” Maya asks.

 

Sofia answers, “Pegasus used to adopt orphans, especially if they came from poorer countries., like the Bragelina couple. But he had this Michael Jackson vibe too where he wanted to take sad children to his Neverland to give them a childhood they never had.”

 

“It’s really touching but also creepy and pathetic.” Maya observes. “I wonder why he refuses to grow up.”

 

Sofia knows the answer but does not feel like getting into it, so she resumes her story. “Pegasus once visited Kazakhstan, my homeland, presenting a mock Millennium Puzzle. He said that any child who managed to solve it would be adopted. Well, I stole it, naively believing I could sell it for the gold it was worth. Needless to say, it wasn’t. I got really upset but couldn’t think of anything else but to solve the Puzzle over the course of a few weeks. The police eventually found me, put me in jail, and returned the completed Puzzle to Pegasus, but Pegasus was so delighted with my achievement he adopted me. The rest is history.”

 

Her story causes Maya to ruminate for a long time, lost in thought. She did not fully know Sofias backstory until now. Perhaps, she wonders, she should be more sensitive to such a vulnerable girl. After all, was not Maya kind of like Sofia when she was a teenager? I mean, maybe, but Maya never let herself be vulnerable like Sofia does. She would lash out by being a delinquent instead. And if Sofia lived in luxury for the past decade, why is she still vulnerable now? - And it is just her, or is a flint of rock stuck up her - no, it is Sofia’s elbow. Well, that is compromising.

 

The women use their powers to lift away the boulders on them and exit the cave. They conjure their wings once more and fly down to the shore, but with no battles. They take each other’s arms and hop their way back in huge leaps and bounds in a little warm down dance.

 

“You did good today, kid.” Maya says, lifting Sofia’s chin up. 

 

“I’m not a kid.” Sofia says in return.

 

“I’m sure you’ll prove it in due time.” Maya gives Sofia a warm hug, which Sofia tries to return but cannot in full confidence in herself.

 

Sofia cannot help but smirk a bit to herself as she climbs the ocean shuttle to return home. Indeed, she had quite a workout. Before she shuts the hatch, she asks Maya if she can join the fight to capture the next Millennium Item. Maya says yes, which leaves Sofia with a happy heart on her way home.

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Duel 15 - Everybody Wants Poppy

 

 

 

[spoiler The 1% have a boring conference take two.]

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

   

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

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Duel 16 - Serpents Thrive, Fear Remains Alive 

 

 

 

[spoiler Discount Kim Kardashian tours a tent city.]The Valley of the Kings burns under the heat of the midday sun, so hot and dry Hassan Mubarak nearly has his backside burn and fuse with the seat of his army jeep. The current Egyptian President cannot find much romantic mystery in the desert he governs. The bright light above him seems to disinfect everything to the point of making the land sterile, like it broke through every tomb and burned all the mummies and ancient relics to ash. If the past, with its remains of an old world, are a kind of vampire sucking the life of the living - then the vampire should die? He has the weirdest deja vu right now for some reason.  

 

Hassan sees a merciful large white tend and unsticks himself from the seat with his advisor, Simon Al-Mufti. He sees two familiar woman as he enters the tent, the first garnished in white clothes and large sunglasses, and the second in old blue jeans and a flat cap. Simon scratches his head in visible confusion.

 

“Why are you dressed like a discount Kim Kardashian?” Hassan addresses the woman in white.

 

“One: it’s hot. Two: I’m hot.” Maya quips in a facetious manner. 

 

“Fascinating.” Hassan remarks as he takes a seat near the two women. Knowing who they are and having their goals in mind, he can make an educated guess on what they’re after. “I’m assuming you want my help in taking out a high mage, perhaps Anubisius since he rules over the Middle East. I don’t know if I can do it for reasons you should know.”

 

Maya nods, admitting the fact, and gives her modest proposal. “I’m aware of the messy relationships in the Middle East. It’s like a love dodecahedron. America-sempai loves Israel-chan and Saudi Arabia-chan. The two are frenemies; Israel-kun has a decent friendship with Egypt-kun as of late but Saudia Arabia-kun has soured feelings for Egypt-kun for reasons more tedious than card games. TL;DR Egypt-kun has declined, become dependant on foreign support, and won’t give land Saudia Arabia-kun feels entitled to.” 

 

“You don’t need to explain it to me. If your complexion was lighter than mine I’d accuse you of white-splaining.” Hassan reminds her. “Egypt is so weak already I would rather die than make another humiliating concession.” 

 

“It’s not for you but for the audience. Not everyone knows. And,” Maya adds. “Turn that frown upside down. You can beat Anubisius and level the playing field. - By the way, Kim Kardashian was delicious. Maybe she lives in me to some extent.”  

 

Hassan is incredulous, but a part of him remains hopeful. Subtly reminded that Maya has superhuman powers, he still must test Maya to see if his hope can manifest into something real or if it is merely a cruel trick. “Let me take you and your prodigy on a tour of this ancient land free of charge. I would rather show my argument than tell it.”

 

He takes his guests beyond the Valley of the Kings, following a large truck heading on its way from Cairo to a nearby village by the Nile, now grown into a refugee camp. It is only one of many along the river bank, each giving asylum to about a thousand people. It is a very different place than what Maya and Sofia remembered from three years earlier: very crowded and dirty, crafted brick houses overshadowed by a large patchwork of makeshift tents, the river cluttered with waste.

 

The truck stops and the drivers unload crates containing water, toiletries, canned food, used clothes, frozen vegetables, and emergency aid kits, with Hassan directing a team of his army on how to distribute the crates and to whom. The party sees an old woman trying her best to wash her clothes in the Nile. Men on a nearby farm are forced to bury a large pile of human waste in the soil, trying to make the best use by making it fertilizer. Maya, always sensitive to smells, covers her face. Sofia, whose smelling is even more acute, gets watery eyes.  

 

Hassan gestures to the tent city-village. “Our world is like a pyramid now. Anubisius builds new palaces in Saudi Arabia, Momentum giving him all the energy he needs. The surrounding states are not so lucky. I depend on Saudia Arabia to keep my nation’s cities floating while I do what I can to help my unhappy people. How can I muster the strength to help you. Even your strength has limits.”     

 

Sofia tugs at Maya’s sleeve as if her teacher is her mother too. “Promise me that we will see the people in the tent city. We must know the faces of the people we are fighting for. We cannot have a revolution with an abstract mass like ‘the proletariat'.”

 

Maya nods sagaciously, then says, “You are so much wiser and stronger than me, Sofia. If only you believed it.”

 

As the women were about to go, Hassan asks Maya, “Why dress as Kim Kardashian in a place like this? You don’t look like a hero of the common man at all. Honestly, you look like a jerk.” 

 

“That’s the point. I am not. Look at me, Hassan.” Maya grabs his shoulders, looking him in the eye. “I am a black magician who sold my soul to the Devil to gain my powers. I can transform into a dragon and do other dark arts. I do all the good I can but only so much can be achieved through evil means. I have so much blood on my hands the Nile would fail to wash it away; it would merely turn my claws from red to green.”

 

She puts Hassan’s hand on Sofia’s shoulder. “I will help you create a new world but it is not a world where I will be welcome. Having me as a leader would be demeaning to the people of this planet. Worthy people like you two are the ones who must lead the people to make a better world.” 

 

Hassan’s suspicions remain. “Love for ‘the proletariat’ doesn’t drive you. Hatred of the ruling class does. If you truly served the people, you would act differently. A person like you, with your immense power, will always make me wary. Maybe there are things you’re not telling me. Well, Maya?”

 

“You can squint at me hoping to find a hidden agenda all you want, but you must take me for my word if you want Anubisius’ head on your wall.” Maya says. “I will tell you now that I have no secrets.”

 

With that finished, the three of them go through the tent city. They watch several children play with a ragged soccer ball nearby. A lone man on a small boat struggles to fish. A husband, wife, girl, and scabby little boy eat small portions of lunch in a tent. The 1 liter water bottle beside them is their only ration for hydration. The family beckons Maya and Sofia to come share in some of the lunch, much to their surprise. The two women refuse to eat, daring not to waste the family’s precious food, until the wife pressures them into taking a bite. Even then, they take only a small nibble.

 

Husband and wife try to have a conversation with Maya and Sofia - even the little girl joins in - but the two women cannot reply since they don’t know how to speak Masry. That Masry was the maiden name of Maya’s mother; that coincidence does not escape her attention. Hassan, kneeling from outside the tent, explains Maya: “They used to own a shop in Cairo before being forced out here. The daughter once went to a private school and wants nothing more than to go back there. The son has a skin rash because of the poor sanitation.”   

 

Sofia nudged Maya on shoulder. “You don’t know the names of any displaced person but you know the names of the high mages you’re about to kill. Don’t you think that’s funny?”

 

“A delicious irony in this tragicomedy.” Maya says.

 

Sofia clarifies it is not what she means by “funny”. Maya replies, “I understand, but you don’t either. This is exactly why I said I was unworthy. I’m not really a fighter for the people. We’re really third party allies who cut off the heads of the monster tormenting them. It is up to them - as it should be - to build fair and just societies. But - and you really must understand this, Sofia - we ultimately serve a different agenda.”

 

The husband asks Hassan what Maya just said. Hassan, being tactful, simply tells them they are the warriors who defeated one of the high mages. Sofia asks him the names of the family members. Hassan tells her: the husband is Malik, the woman is Turas, the girl is Najima, the boy is Waleed. He orders a soldier to give him a crate. Hassan, Maya, and Sofia take out all the contents and give it to the family, who dearly thanks them for the medicine therein. Turas kisses the three of them and Malik shakes their hands. Najima and Waleed wave goodbye. 

 

The name of the husband gives Maya an idea, so it sets her thinking. The party of three stops at a far less wholesome sigh. A wasted man with a patchy beard injects a drug in his vein with a needle, resting his back against a rock. Maya says, “Not to have a Dora the Explorer moment, Sofia, but do YOU know where the man’s heroin comes from?”

 

Plantaciones de amapola en Afganistán. Poppy Plantations in Afghanistan.” Sofia says with no enthusiasm.”

 

“And do YOU know who owns private plantations in Afghanistan but spends most of his time elsewhere?” Maya prods further.

 

Sofia does not bother to speak, the answer being so obvious. Hassan speaks for her instead. “If we are going to attack Anubisius, we need more forces. Egypt’s army is not enough.”

 

And he is right, as Maya admits. They need a cohesive network of fighters. But who? Maya and Sofia part ways with Hassan, setting out to camp near the tent city. Maya creates a fire to warm up some tea while Sofia plays with sticks on the sand, getting promptly hit on the head with a ball from one of the children. Sofia tells the children they should be with their parents, but they do not understand her, so she throws the ball far away at the tents, the children running after it. 

 

“This is a Yugioh fanfic, by the way.” Sofia reminds Maya and the audience. “When are we going to duel? People are getting bored. Political commentary is boring.”

 

“Be good and I’ll get you a duel. If you’re bad, I’ll publish a socialist manifesto and make everyone read it.” Maya says while looking at the flames as they fly above the campfire into the starry sky.

 

Sofia closes the tent and goes to sleep, Maya soon following her.

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Duel 17 - Dino County

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Pandora proceeds to narrate in song:

 

I woke up, in darkness,

My mind triggered, by an evil master, through black magic,

To take a little rope, a hefty stool, and with some gumption

Go hang myself. Oh, how tragic! 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

SOPHIA: 8000 || PANDORA: 8000  

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Oh no you didn’t.” Sofia growls.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Duel 18 - Ice and Dice, Knives and Lives 

 

Sofia: 3400 || Pandora: 4400

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Yugioh Endgame: Duel 19 – Fish Styx

 

Sofia: 2900 || Pandora: 1200 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Such tenacity leaves Pandora unimpressed. “How quaint.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sofia: 0 || Pandora: 1200 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SOFIA’S CARDS:

Egg Legacy
Continuous Trap

  • Once per turn: during your opponent’s Battle Phase; you can banish 1 Dinosaur monster from your Deck. Target 1 face-up monster your opponent controls: halve its ATK and DEF. That monster must attack, if able.
  • During your Standby Phase: you can return 1 Dinosaur monster banished by this card’s effect from your Banished Zone to your hand.


N. Raptor MaXVI – Galapagos
WATER / LINK 2 / Dinosaur / ATK 2300 / bottom-left, bottom-right
LINK: 2 Dinosaur monsters

  • Once per turn: if a card is activated; you can negate its effect and Set it face-down in one of your Spell/Trap Card Zones.
  • You can banish 1 Set card on your field originally controlled by your opponent. Banish up to 4 Dinosaur monsters from your Graveyard and Special Summon 1 Level 4 or lower Dinosaur monster from your Deck for each 2 Dinosaur monsters banished from your Graveyard by this card’s effect.


N. Raptor Apostlesaur 
EARTH / Level 1 / Dinosaur / Tuner / ATK 0 / DEF 0

  • If Summoned: you can add 1 Ritual Spell from your Deck to your hand, and add 1 “N. Raptor” Ritual Monster from your Deck to your hand whose name is listed on that Ritual Spell. 
  • If you Ritual Summon an “N. Raptor” Ritual Monster, this card can be used as the entire Tribute.


Prime Origin Offering
Ritual Spell

  • Tribute Dinosaur monsters from your hand or field OR banish Dinosaur monsters from your Graveyard with total Levels equal to 8 or more: Ritual Summon 1 “N. Raptor” Ritual Monster from your hand.


N. Raptor MaXII – Madagascar
FIRE / Level 8 / Dinosaur / ATK 3000 / DEF 2500
RITUAL: Prime Origin Offering 

  • If Ritual Summoned: you can target 3 cards in your opponent’s Graveyard; Set them in 3 of your Spell/Trap Card Zones.
  • If removed from the field: you can banish 1 Set card originally controlled by your opponent and 1 Dinosaur from your Graveyard; Special Summon this card from your hand, Deck, or Graveyard (ignoring Summoning conditions). 


Egger Planter
Normal Spell

  • Banish 2 Set cards originally controlled by your opponent. Draw 2 cards. 


N. D. Traveler
WIND / Level 3 / Winged Beast / Tuner / ATK 300 / DEF 1300

  • Once per Duel: if this card is banished, you can immediately Special Summon it.
  • During either player’s turn: you can shuffle the required monsters from your field and Banished Zone in the Deck to Fusion Summon 1 “N. Raptor” Fusion Monster.  


N. Raptor MaXI – Britannia
WATER / Level 7 / Dinosaur / ATK 2700 / DEF 2300
FUSION: 1 non-Dinosaur monster + 1 or more Dinosaur monsters

  • When Fusion Summoned: you can destroy cards your opponent controls equal to the number of Dinosaur monsters used as Fusion Materials to Fusion Summon this card.
  • If a card is activated that would destroy this card; you can negate its effect and Set it face-down in one of your Spell/Trap Card Zones.
  • Once per turn, during either player’s turn: you can banish 1 Set card originally controlled by your opponent. Double this card’s ATK during the Damage Step only. 


Kleinekarnosaur
EARTH/ Level 2/ Dinosaur/ 500 ATK/ DEF 400

  • When Summoned: you can destroy 1 Dinosaur monster you control; add 1 Dinosaur monster from your Deck to your hand.
     

PANDORA’S CARDS:

Dark Vanishing Act
Normal Trap

  • You can activate this card during the turn more than 1 Level 6 or higher DARK Spellcaster monsters you control are destroyed. Destroy all monsters your opponent controls and inflict damage to your opponent equal to the ATK of the monster with the highest ATK.


Quintet Force
Normal Spell

  • You must control 5 Spellcaster monsters to activate this card. Banish all cards your opponent controls and in your opponent’s hand. When this card resolves, Fusion Summon 1 “Quintet Magician”, if able. 
  • If a Spellcaster monster you control would be destroyed, you can banish this card from your Graveyard. Spellcaster monsters you control cannot be destroyed by card effects this turn. 


Wizard’s Mirror
Normal Spell

  • Fusion Summon 1 Spellcaster Fusion Monster from your Extra Deck by banishing Fusion Materials listed on it from your field or Graveyard.

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